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Final snippet

Here is the end of the tale. It needs some more work. But I'm sorta satisfied. Tell me what you think.

They dosed him with the last of the potions at 16 arns and gently lifted him out of the antediluvian ooze on to the warm stones surrounding the pool. He didn’t move a muscle as they gently rubbed the crud off his body and face. Chiana crouched near him and softly called his name but got no response, not even a twitch. “Is is he alive?” she asked the closest Koteshi? The lithe grey-green toad pointed to the slight pulsing on Crichton’s neck as indication that he still lived. She turned John’s head back and forth and starred at its lighter reddish-brown color and increased length. That definitely wasn’t there before. The small laugh lines surrounding his eyes were lighter and fewer and his face seemed rounder. It was almost as if he had dropped the last three years from his life. She swallowed and prayed, with their sort of luck, that he hadn’t also lost the memories that came with that time. She just had to hope that this “cure” wasn’t worse than the disease. To distract herself she picked up his hand where it lay on the stones and began to play with his fingers. There was no sign that he noticed. The blood continued to periodically drip from the wound in his stomach were they had recently pulled out the feeding tube.

One of the Koteshi roughly pushed her aside so that they could turn the beleaguered human and wash his back. Chiana pushed back but could not budge the alien from his place. John never moved. Then, the six larger creatures brushed her out of the way and surrounded Crichton. Grunting, they hoisted him up and carried him over to a dias where candles guttered in the gloom and smoke that continued to fill the room. The glops and plops of the pool’s contents continued to echo amidst the continued bull-frog croaks that stood for chanting in this bizarre cathedral to eternal youth. Chiana shuttered as she watched helplessly while John as laid spread-eagled on the alter. For that was what it was, an alter. She tried to move forward but found her way blocked by two of the creatures she now considered to be the bouncers of this party. “Do not interfere or your friend is doomed,” droned the Leader as he passed her on his way to the raised platform. Chiana watched as he raised a large ceremonial knife with a wickedly carved blade that looked like a lightening bolt. The Leader had clothed himself in brown shiney leather and gold-encrusted robes from somewhere when she had been distracted by John’s lack of motion. The chanting grew louder as John’s head was raised and a white opaque liquid was forcibly poured down his throat. He coughed and gagged and viscous sticky drops sprayed from his lips but he then lapsed back into his previous unconscious state. The smells of the now hordes of Koteshi who surrounded the alter was overpowering. It was as if Rygel had cloned himself hundreds of times and each Rygel had eaten pot fulls of marjouls and were sunning and fumigating himself in that vacuum-sealed area she had been thrust into with the toad when Moya was in labor. Chiana smothered an inappropriate giggle and tried not to breath in through her nose. Suddenly, the knife slashed downward into John’s stomach and he arched is back as it bit deeply over the feeding tube wound. He screamed and squirmed in agony as brownish-black sludge burst from the new wound and ran down the surface of his bed of stone into containers lining the floor all around the dias. The slurping mess continued to pulse out of the wound mixed with his blood and white mucus. The smell was worse than before and the steam rose obscuring John from her sight. Several of the acolytes picked up the buckets containing the secretions and dumped them into the pool. Chiana gagged when she realized just what filled the pool. John’s head lolled to the side and his hands flopped off the sides of the alter. The deed was done.

“You make take your friend now. He has survived the rite, blessed by the goddess, and should live a long and fulfilled life. Go while we let you and never return. We have what we need to continue.” The Leader motioned to the large acolytes again to lift the man from the alter and follow Chiana out the door.

Chiana yelled, “Wait wa-wait a frelling minute! John Crichton is barely alive here. You can’t leave him like this. What what am I supposed to do?”

The Koteshi had already turned his back and forgotten her presence. Chiana dejectedly followed the Koteshi and their unconscious load. She indicated the location of the transport pod. She was in for a dren-load of trouble from a certain former Peacekeeper and this time she felt she had earned it.

“Nothing, I guess. Just, nothing,” she whispered to herself. “Crichton is just gonna have to survive. That’s all there is to it or my name is… what does John call it, oh yeah, mud.” Chiana giggled nervously and sighed. She hiccupped with anxiety and glanced at the entourage. Some play time. As D’Argo likes to say, same dren; different planet. The dren is gonna hit the fan.

They laid John on the floor of the transport pod and silently exited even before Chiana could acknowledge them. The wound in John’s stomach was bleeding freely now and he tossed and turned his head as sweat formed on his brow. Chiana knelt and tried to wipe away the blood with her gloved hand, but to no avail. So she dragged him up and on to the co-pilot’s chair and strapped him in as well as she could and began the pre-flight check. Now she hoped he wouldn’t wake until they were home on Moya. Takeoffs and landings were not her strong suit.

Chiana rubbed absent-mindedly at the welts rising on her white satin skin. The smell in the sealed transport pad was a miasma of mud, pus, mucus, and blood along with occasional farts and burps as John exuded the last of the foul drink and soak. He never regained alertness but she could tell he was trying by the frowns and groans he was expressing.

John felt like he was sitting in the middle of one of those hot spas his parents like to visit in the Ozarks when he was a young teen. Only this one was extra special and had an Indian bed of nails under the muck. He remembered back then that he had gotten too close to the spurting sulfur spumes on one of those trips and burned his hand badly. His dad ran him to the emergency room and he was patched up but the second-degree burn stunk to high heaven and hurt like shit. He hadn’t heard the end of the teasing from his sisters for months afterwards. He could hear somebody giggling and cursing and he could feel an intense pressure on his chest and abdomen, but he couldn’t figure out why or who. He flexed his fingers and gritted his teeth at how stiff they felt. And yet, and yet, he felt invigorated.

“Well, screw this, I just gotta get up and out of whatever dren Chiana has gotten us into,” he thought sluggishly. He remembered the last field trip with his adventurous Nebari sidekick as he thought he heard the rumble of the transport pod around him.

“Oh god I hope she hasn’t purchased another one of those weird plant blobs and I’m in some sort of Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum house of prostitution up to my eyeballs in mule sweat.” John forced his eyes open and through the blur thought he caught a fleeting glimpse of white hair but he was too stiff and sore to turn his head. “Pi pi Pip!” he moaned. “Wha- wha’ th- the frell ha- happen’d?”

His slurring speech gave Chiana time to compose herself. “Hey old man. I’m glad that you decided to join the land of the living. Too much raslak doesn’t mix well with that green-brown stuff you were drinking.”

“Cu- cut the crap, Chiana! This is more than a really bad hangover I’m feeling.” John glanced down at his bare stomach and blanched. “Chiana! I’m cut here!”

“Um, remember that thing, that thing where I told you I found, I found how you could, you could get young again?” Chiana hoped and prayed to whatever gods continued to listen that John would stay at least a little calm. But she knew that the way the gods frowned on them, there was no such luck so she just plowed on ahead.

“Well, you did it. And, and, um, well, things sorta went to hezmana as usual, and well, alls well and here we are.” Chiana looked at him and grinned a sick grin.

John couldn’t help it and burst out laughing. “Oh, I feel like shit, as usual and smell, oh mama I smell. What else is new? I don’t’ remember anything after we entered the Seven Dwarf’s house and I sat on the chairs that were too small. You, my dear pest, get to tell our warriors why I am persona non-gratta while I rest, bathe, and revitalize.”

John tried to shrug and groaned as he felt the full force of the wound in his stomach as well as the nausea that rose up and almost engulfed him. “On second thought, I need about twelve liters of blood and a couple of Tylenol. Signal the witch and then you get to play hide and seek with Aeryn.”

“Sounds like, like fun, old man. I’m just glad you’re back.” Chiana decided to take the penalty and be glad that Crichton saw the sick humor in the situation. Now, if she could just get rid of the smell and the rash she would be okay.

John sat in the Center Chamber nursing a cup of water. His skin was reddened and he itched from rashes on top of rashes. But he had startled himself earlier when he looked in the mirror. He had that innocent look back that he hadn’t seen in himself since DK surprised him a few months before his trip in the Minnow with an official over-age drinking card. John never had looked his age, but these past few years had made him feel them. This past few weeks while he was chasing down Aeryn had depleted the dregs of his energy and he had felt at least 100 years old. But now, for some reason, now he felt like he did that fateful day on that tiny ship. He smiled and then grimaced at the lousy taste in his mouth. He could still fell the mud.

Cool arms encircled him from behind and a luscious flow of black-brown hair tumbled over his shoulder. He leaned back and caught the lips of his lover in his own while she reached down. He shivered and jumped slightly as her hands touched the bandage that encircled him from diaphragm to crotch. “Careful there, this old man’s got some wounds, babe.”

“Don’t old man me, you deficient Human. You still haven’t heard the last of your little field trip. But I will tell you this. You are no more an old man than Chiana is a virgin. Come here and I’ll prove it to you.”

“Gently, Aeryn, gently,” he said as he allowed himself to be lead out of the chamber. They could forget their troubles for awhile and he thought that maybe, maybe for the first time he did have a long future with his warrior princess.

Comments

Hey! You finished! It was fun to read and all's well that ends well. I would have liked a scene between Chi and Aeryn, but since this is John-centric I guess can live without it. :)
Yeah, I'm not happy with the ending. I think that conversation would be interesting as would a further conversation between John and Chiana or not such an abrumpt one. I'll think on that and write tomorrow. Thanks for the feedback.
bwahaha! "Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum house of prostitution up to my eyeballs in mule sweat.”" that's just perfect. *veg*