Author: Toadie
Rating: PG-13
Notes: This is the sequel to Black and White
Summary: Every action has a consequence.
Part: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
 

 

Part Two

The light hit the city and seemed to flinch. Shadows pooled at the base of ruined, burnt out shells of buildings like congealed blood. All around was ruin, yet in the midst of such devastation there stood buildings miraculously untouched by either the fighting or the fires that still raged in parts of the city. The air felt brittle as Aeryn breathed it in, almost as if it were ready to shatter into a thousand separate shards and scratch her lungs. 

They had managed to land at what was left of the spaceport. Nothing but a scattering of shattered vessels abandoned to their fate gave witness to the fact it had once been able to fulfill its named function. Shattered vessels and one other. Amidst the ruin sat one ship, unmarked and seemingly inviolate. John's ship. There were some marks on the hull, black streaks, but when Aeryn had approached and ran a finger over them she exposed the gleaming hull underneath. Further checks showed minute marks where some one must have tried to force entry but failed. 

It was then that she tried to enter the ship with the codes John had provided her at the beginning of their journey home. They didnít work. She felt a heaviness settle in her chest when access was denied, he had locked her out of his ship, what had been their ship for monens as they searched for what had once been their home. Moya. But Moya was no longer his home, she had made sure of that, just as he had made sure she couldnít enter what had now become his home, his only refuge. 

So now they faced an impossible task of finding one person in a city dying from self inflicted wounds while staying alive themselves. No words were spoken. They had simply looked at each other for a few microts before DíArgo had nodded towards the city proper and had started off, unsheathing his Qualta Blade, readying it for action. 

Chiana and Jool looked at one another, glanced at Aeryn then turned to follow DíArgo. Aeryn watched them go, each with their own reason to look for John, none with as great a reason as her, yet she was the one who hesitated before following them. 

Stealth was a lost cause as they entered the city proper, not because it was impossible rather it was unnecessary, there was scarcely a sound, occasionally the distant rumbling of a collapsing building or the shifting of debris as it settled. 

They searched the city methodically, starting with the streets closest to the landing area and working their way out, shouting his name, constantly alert for a reply, any reply. They encounter few people. Most shied away from them,, but one or two approached hesitantly and asked if they knew of someone. 

Jool and Chiana were taking the searching hard, they had started out in high spirits but as time wore on they became increasingly withdrawn and uncharacteristically quiet. Aeryn felt it herself, the gradual erosion of hope, the soul buckling under the certainty that this mistake was final, there was no recovery possible. 

She had lost so much since meeting John. But she now realized that all she had lost was nothing compared to what he had. He had lost his identity, all he had thought he was had been replaced with the truth, but there was no comfort in it, only cold hard reality. Nothing he had believed in had been real, his father, his friends not even his beliefs, nothing. That was not enough for the fates however, they had to take one last thing away from him, his people. He had lost his home, not once but twice. And now it was forever denied to him. Yet he kept going. 

She knew he blamed himself, knew that he carried such a heavy burned out guilty that he was slowly being crushed under it, yet she had given up after barely attempting to get him to speak of it. She was out of her depth emotionally, she could recognize and empathize, yet she didnít know how to reconcile her own feelings let alone help John with is. 

It was only when she almost walked over Chiana that she realized she had not being paying attention to her surrounds and one glance answered the question that was just coming to her lips. They were surrounded by soldiers, all of whom were pointing weapons their way. From of the looks of them, relatively primitive pulse rifles, but there were many of them and no other option available. She slowly unclasped her own pistol and let it fall to the ground, before raising her hands. But not before glaring at DíArgo for his failure to warn her, while acknowledging internally the fact that she herself was not entirely free of guilty. 

Aeryn wondered where all these troops had come from and why they hadnít been used to stop what had happened in this city. She however kept her mouth firmly closed, lips pressed tightly together. Too much was happening that was unknown and for now to speak would only show a weakness. They had to appear stronger than they were. She just hoped they were strong enough. 

# 

It had not taken John long to realize that his plan to go around the city was a bad one. Barely an hour into his journey his body had taken it upon itself to argue the merits of a straight line being the shortest distance. Every step caused bone to grate against bone, sending almost constant and jarring pain through his nervous system. 

He kept to the shadows, venturing out into the light only when absolutely necessary, finding whatever cover he could. He felt slightly ridiculous to be hiding in what was largely a now abandoned city, but hard lessons had taught him caution above all else. He was covered in dirt and grime, his face darkened by soot, his hand stinging from abrasions and small cuts. He wanted nothing more than to sit down and rest, yet he knew to do so would be inviting trouble. 

Time was finite, he only had so long until the pain from his injuries would become overwhelming, and he had to get to this ship. No one else would be willing to help him. Now it was every one for himself. 

He had stopped in the deep shadows of a broken building when it happened. There was a loud rumble and he felt the ground shaking. He feared the building he was sheltering besides was collapsing but he had no strength left to run. The adrenaline that his exhausted body pumped into his blood stream did nothing more than cause sweat to break out on his forehead and grime to run over his eyes. Then the rumbling stopped. 

Cautiously he peered about him, looking for something different, and he found it. From one of the buildings close by came mechanical noises, shouts and the sounds of feet running. From the entrance John could make out people exiting. Soldiers. Right now soldiers were the last thing he wanted to see. The mystery as to why and how they were coming out of an obviously derelict and recently burnt building came a distant second to his desire to get as far away from them as possible. 

So he moved, as quickly and silently as he could. Always keeping to the darkest shadows. Always heading away from the sounds of activity. Armored vehicles, which seemed to be ferrying troops around the city, a seemingly never-ending supply of troops, passed him a dozen times. They were good, he had almost stumbled into one of there check points before realizing it, only some primeval instinct caused him to stop and study the ground before him. They were well hidden using all the irregularities of collapsed rubble to hide in. 

So he was forced to back track and go around, his journey becoming more and more dangerous as time went past. The more time, the more checkpoints. The more checkpoints, the harder to avoid them. The harder to avoid them the more time it took. It was a seemingly endless cycle, vicious and biting. 

He had against the odds almost made it to the landing area when it happened, from his vantage point, crouched inside the enveloping shadow of a deep doorway, he seen a Luxan, and not just any Luxan, DíArgo. John couldnít understand why he was here on this planet. There could be nothing of interest to the crew of Moya here, nothing worth the risk of coming here, now. 

Then he saw Chiana and Jool, Chiana had always been a sister to him and that bond had expanded to include Jool, even though he had only known her a short time. The interaction between the two could only be described as sisterly. They fought with, cussed and screamed at one another, yet the next day all was forgotten and forgiven. They were looking about with interest and he could finally hear them shouting his name. They had come for him. 

He was about to step out and make his presence known when she came into view. Aeryn. She wasnít calling out his name, didnít even appear to be interested in what was going on around her. She was simply taking a stroll with the others. The sight of her brought it all back, the dread and the anger. Love and hate were opposite sides of the same coin they said. John knew better. Love and hate were the same side, indifference lay on the other. 

Right now Aeryn was the picture of indifference. So different from how she had been when he first met her and she had kicked his ass. She seemed to lack focus, interest, whether that was simply apathy for what she was doing or something deeper John could not tell, would not tell. The pain he felt seeing her was just as sharp as it had been the day he left, he suspected it would always be so. Only distance in both time and space could possibly bury his feeling for her, feeling she had made clear were hopeless and inadequate. 

She loved him yet not him. He felt the same, thought the same, yet was not the same. At times he had trouble reconciling these aspects of himself to himself. It was hopeless to think others could do what he could not. Yet Chiana had accepted him, recognized him despite everything else. 

With a heavy heart he took a step and froze. Seemingly from nowhere soldiers appeared, surrounding them. The surprise was total. John hadnít seen them, would have walked straight into their waiting arms but his friends? His acquaintances? His sisters? Had beaten him to it. He wondered briefly why DíArgo had not been able to smell their presence but he quickly understood this failure. John had been in the city for hours now, his senses had become inured by the smells around him. Those of smoke, plastics and burnt flesh. DíArgo could not have smelt anything beyond those. 

He watched as Aeryn stumbled into the back of Chiana, her attention suddenly being focused on their surroundings for the first time since John had spotted her. The look of surprise and the angry glance she sent towards DíArgo was so typical of her that John had to struggle to keep from laughing out loud. That self same struggle changing into one of dampening the pain caused by trying not to laugh. 

He watched and waited as the armored vehicles arrived and they were loaded aboard. He knew where hey had came from and where they must be going. He also knew he had to do something, yet he was one man against an unknown number. He sighed, duty. He had a duty to protect those he could from this, those he loved? He had to at least try. Their being here showed that at least some cared enough to seek him out, and the others were willing to at lest aid in the endeavor. Though he had asked for no help, they had given it anyway, and as such they had to be repaid.

Part 3

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