ENTERTAINING ANGELS

Chapter 1 - Abandoned

"I am going to die," John said, muttering to himself. Commander John Crichton, IASA astronaut with a PhD in theoretical science, sat in his familiar position, squeezed in a small space--all the room his module allotted for--seats for two by a view lit with stars for candlelight and blackness for backdrop.

Only one thing, his pod hung in space by a spindle of oxygen and fuel. He leaned forward to check his oxygen and fuel gauge, hoping for more time. He had only about a half an arn, no...twenty-five minutes, left of oxygen--the fuel, two solar days worth only if his craft floated, any propulsion‹zip, all gone in microts (seconds, earth time).

"Yep, it's zero hour...doomsday for your friendly commander on hiatus," he said, voice deepened with a southern slur. Moya, a biomechanoid, a living ship, him and his friends had occupied was sucked through a wormhole just arns (hours) ago, leaving him stranded.

"God!" John slammed his hand against the console. Proactive measures...should've taken proactive measures. Of all the times he ensured his module was fueled with cesium and equipped with extra oxygen tanks, he had to run out. He remembered what caused this breach of carelessness. Just hours ago the only one he loved beyond hope, Aeryn, had said before he flipped that stupid coin, flashing it before her, "What? Like that side up, you stay?"

He had confronted her that he was either going with her, or she stay with him. She pushed him away. He flipped that coin because one time she had told him that they were in the hands of fate, they had to trust in that. "If it's fate for us to be together," she had told him, "then we'll be together." Yeah, it wasn't fate...she was running away.

"Fly safe," Aeryn told him on her departure with tears. "Goodbye, John Crichton."

How many menons (moments) had passed when he rehearsed the thought of her leaving without trusting him? John felt a grip squeeze his heart. He rubbed his hands over his face. It felt hot, no...cold. It was stale inside and his mouth was parched like sandpaper. He slammed his hand against the console again and cursed, ignoring the pain. She left without telling him her condition.

John wouldn't have known Aeryn's situation without Harvey, the neural clone stuck in his subconscious, always emerging with tell-tale bits of news for "inquiring minds." As if he wanted to know about tampered secrets. He had visions of marrying Aeryn on Earth with all his friends and found them incompatible. The old woman board Moya helped him to see the truth: That he couldn't return to Earth without destructive harm coming to all whom he loved; that it wasn't too late for him to have the only one thing he desired and loved.

Aeryn.
And Harvey helped unlock what the old woman had said and whispered in John's subconscious. Like a knife the words lanced his heart:

Be forgiving, be kind.

Better angels,

Her life, her world, on her time,

You will know.

Aeryn is with child.

John wrestled in his position, "I was coming for you, baby. I was going to get you back. But everything's changed." Why didn't he stay on Moya and bring his emotions under control? He missed that dance to be with her.

John smashed his fist on the console again, seeing small yellow and red indicator lights blink in protest. He frelled up one last time. John relaxed in the seat. His breathing labored. He laughed, with lungs burning, tears mingling with sweat.

"You were right, Aeryn," John said to himself. "I'm an idiot, a test monkey that screwed up his own experiment." He hated to say that, but Aeryn scored one more point. "My dad was the hero."

"Zhaan. Dear Zhaan." John thought of his beloved blue Delvian friend that had sacrificed her life for her friends. She was the only one that a befriended him with patience and tolerance after that fateful day, three cycles ago, when he was sucked through a wormhole to end up on Moya. He wondered where her soul went and where his would go once it left his body. Well, since Zhaan prayed to her goddess, he would try the same with his--at least, the one he learned about on Earth.

John closed his eyes. Despite the agony of his labored breathing, he called on that long-ago feeling, somewhere tucked deep inside, that wonderous feeling of being on Earth. "God! Jesus! God?" He didn't know what the frell to say. He cursed beneath his breath, then stopped. "I've messed up, big time with everything, everyone. IŒm sorry I wrecked Aeryn's life. She was once the happy peacekeeper dominating the lesser species before she got irreversibly contaminated. I had to bring her with us. She would've been executed. Forgive me for everything." He let out a ragged chuckle conscious of being fallible. "If you're real, somewhere out here, then my friends need your help. I won't be there to lend them a helping hand."

True as the sky's blue, they needed all the help they could get. It all started with the Ancients, an alien race John had encountered, who needed a home, and they used his memory of Earth to see if humans would accept co-habitation. But the human reaction proved destructive to their race. Finding John had suffered by them stealing his memories for their use, they had compassion on John's desperation to return to Earth and inserted wormhole technology in his subconscious, only to emerge as a guide for John.

But everything had turned rancid when John infiltrated the Peacekeeper Gammak Base to retrieve a tissue sample that would heal Aeryn's fatal wound. This was where wormhole research was taking place for weaponry defense against the Scarrans, and where Scorpius discovered John was an imposter--tortured him in the Aurora Chair and extracted memories with painful and a near fatal result. Because Scorpius found the wormhole knowledge lodged, unbeknownst to John, in his memory‹that's when John became "unique in the universe." And that's when the evil Scarrans and Charads, pitted to annihilate Sebacian kind or any other kind, feverishly vied for the wormhole technology against the Peacekeepers, a Sebacian race. To John it sounded like Earth's nuclear race on a larger scale: a million to one.

Humankind...Earth beware.

John's eyes blurred as his heart broke. It's all gone bad. God, don't know if you hear me, but I heard you created this melting pot of the cosmos and holy terror.

They need help.

John thought of each of them: D'Argo his friend, the Luxen warrior, the big guy John had come to depend on. Chiana his Nebari friend, Pip, young, mercurial, slick like quicksilver. Jool, the Interon, screaming newcomer‹her screaming not only split his ears, but, jeez, it sure melted metal. Pilot, their comrade navigator, without him where would all of his rag-tag crew and Moya be? Stranded. Rygel, that Hynerian, Domineer, ruler of six-hundred billion subjects, well, his throne had been abducted by his cousin. In their journey as escaped prisoners and chased by prominent enemies, they had grown close, loyal, and protective‹well, for the most part.

John thought of his dad, Jack Crichton, renowned, having walked on the moon. D.K. his best friend‹yeah, he and D.K. actually built this module soon to become his tomb, exclusively engineered and designed by yours truly.

I still don't have a clue how things could change so drastically when tragedy hits. John rubbed his bottom lip, wiped his tears, lowered his head. He felt woozy. Just when Aeryn was opening up to him‹after being about a few cycles, years compared to earth time, in the Uncharted Territories‹she was whisked away by an unnatural incident. John remembered being twinned by that Hannibal Cannibal so-called mad scientist‹that sick-o wasn't fit to be tied, just dead‹twinning people to have a larger supply of brains to suck through a straw. John grunted. He and his friends had all made it off that dying ship of horrors, a Leviathan much like Moya, to find another him, two John Crichtons, each thinking himself to be the original. As the mad doctor had put it, they weren't cloned; they were twinned, DNA, memory, and all‹only difference, new experiences to be lived by their separate selves.

Then the crew was separated. He had stayed on Moya while the other John, Aeryn, Crais, Rygel, and Stark left on Talyn, Moya's son. It could make a grown man cry. Aeryn loved the other John and then he died‹in her arms. How could a man compete with that? He missed that dance with his love. The old woman's words haunted him again:

Aeryn is with child.

Tears welled more in John's eyes, he shook his head. "I won't be able to see my kid. Well, the other guy's kid, but he's mine. Protect him. And...and," the air was almost depleted, he felt delirious, "Aeryn...protect her. She's a soldier, strong, needs a little guidance in the heart area. You know what I mean, headstrong but gold through and through. She's got...no home anymore, like me. Let her...find a place to...belong." John's voice trailed away. Hard to breathe, talk. "God, I'm signing off." This is...John Crichton...somewhere in the Uncharted Territories.

"Dear, dear John," Harvey said, diffidently. The neural clone of Scorpius emerged from John's subconscious once again. "Please keep with the theatrics, we have no time. I have for you a viable way to proceed with survival."

"Ohh no, get out of my head and let me die in peace," John said, shaking his head, seeing the black reptilian masked image and skeletal features. Zero Hour, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, you got nothing on this.

John endured with this pest, the now harmless clone. Once lethal as Scorpius's neural chip planted in John's brain solely to retrieve wormhole knowledge from his mind, it had driven John insane and killed Aeryn. It was a miracle Zhaan had brought Aeryn back, but that literally drained Zhaan's life source. Another sacrifice for another life. And though the deadly chip was removed, the Scorpius personality was too imbedded in John's mind. Thus leaving the harmless residue, now Harvey, to serve for John's safety.

"Ahh," Harvey interrupted again, "but I believe your God wishes you to live. Why look in that compartment you were incessantly hitting."

John wouldn't budge. "Stick to your own bad advice."

"Tisk, tisk. You must remember stashing emergency supplies and drugs for times such as this. Come now, I saw how you stored them. You had decided upon the given fact of the incident in the flax. Remember?"

John did remember, but he took those precautions long after Aeryn and he were trapped in an invisible net that drained their pod's energy. He reminisced the kiss they passionately shared, desperate for their lives because the oxygen was almost gone. But he couldn't have stashed the supplies directly after that incident...it was long afterwards...but John didn't remember when.

"Go away, Harvey."

"I'm saving you, John...move your fingers to the compartment and open it." John arduously reached, trembling, and opened the lid. "That's it." Harvey clapped his hands and John took the syringe.

Harvey continued, "Before you apply, this will give you two days of low oxygen in your bloodstream. However, for the most part, you will be unconscious. And if you are revived in time, you will be in a simulated coma. I believe, lasting a few more solar days. I must say I look forward to the long nap with you."


Thanks for warning me, roomie. John couldn't speak anymore and gave Harvey the fleeting thought, then rolled his eyes. Before John poked the syringe in his forearm, Harvey continued.

"And, John, turn on your emergency beacon, so someone can rescue you in time. I do want to wake. " John hurt when he leaned forward to click on the beacon flasher and comm system voice message. "Now, select the coded frequency. You know I don't want you to fall into the enemies' hands." John wheezed while flicking the range that transmitted the distress calls in code. "Now, you can apply the shot."

John took the syringe, every movement painful, and plunged it into his flesh. The fiery liquid forced itself through his veins, sensational eruptions occurred within him. Suddenly, he convulsed and fell back into the seat while the ebony walls of unconsciousness blanketed him. It didn't matter if friend or foe found him in this violent universe. He was good as dead.

Somewhere in acute silence, John wondered, Am I in heaven? Ivory, like Rome's coliseums, enveloped him, rain cleansed his fears, and bright clouds of mercy grazed his lips. An angel?

Words drifted, echoed through his emptiness...softly...

You said fate is what brought us together. If that is so, then we'll be together again. Goodbye, John Crichton.

Then...nothing.

Part 2: Intrepid >>

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Story by Cathy Hubbard

Beta readers: I thank Ennix Sun for her excellent keen eye proof of grammar & understanding the characters. Phi Phi Trelk for checking it out and giving this a look over. Thank for your changes. Though subtle and surprisingly few, they were impactive. ScaperRed for her ingenuous and scholarly latest addition of "fixies." She can POLISH a story. (Also Julia, Eva... you guys encouraged me and helped with lots of fixies.)

Disclaimer: Henson, Creation, the characters, belong to them. Adu, Palimous, the Regent, & other extras like the Spherical and Yontur are mine. No money exchanged, no profit involved.

Rating: PG-13 for Adult Themes/Violence Genre: Drama/Comedy/
Shippiness/Action and Adventure

 
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