This is an older one I dug out of mothballs because it really started tugging at me something fierce a few weeks back. It's from a long lost animated series called "The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers," that aired in the US from around 1985 to 1987. But, it's finally coming to DVD and we have 2 volumes out now with 2 more to be released on April 12. (You can find them in the anime and family videos section at your local Suncoast store if you don't want to buy on-line.)
For character reference on most of the folks I'm using here, you will want to go to Tara O'Shea's site. The character of Ambassador Jarvus Darvell is all mine though and you will get to know what a "pleasant" fellow (/sarcasm) he is as the story goes along.
Oh, and for the usual disclaimer - they're not mine. GR was created by Robert Mandel, and currently owned by Koch Vision of New York. (All hail Koch for putting out the DVDs!!) I also have to say Sir robert is very aware of us fic writers and has basically given us carte blanche to play in this universe.
Timeline: This story takes place past another completed work of mine - "Isn't Life Strange?" and one from Allronix called, "Chrysalis." - Basically post-series, because they have rescued Zach's wife, Eliza, from the Queen of the Crown. (Something that they didn't get to do in the series, unfortunately.)
So.... without further ado, I give to you......
To Dance With the Devil
Jarvus stared down Shane and laughed. "But, of course. Niko will have an honored place. A Th'jai is an honored part of our society."
"Th'jai," Shane spat. "Fancy word for slave. Fancy word for those who you prey upon."
"Ah, but I'm not preying upon her, Ranger Gooseman. She willingly opens herself up to me in a way she never could with you."
Shane fell back a bit, but he saw Niko behind Jarvus, her green eyes blank, and robed in that eerie red gauze. "Niko! Wake up! Snap out of it!"
She seemed to stir somewhat out of the trance she was in. "Shane?" she asked in a sleep-filled voice.
"What can you offer her? As long as she stays with me, I can have a companion who appreciates the finer things. Art, culture, intelligence and philosophy."
"Companion? I highly doubt that!"
"She'll live well, not even knowing. She'll just sleep a little more and a little more until she no longer has neural energy. Two years, I think."
"Let her go, you son of a *****!" Shane growled, lunging forward to grab Niko.
Jarvus repelled him.
He fell back with a yowl that was just as much from physical pain, from mental agony.
"Niko!" he cried out. He wished he knew how to break Jarvus' hold over her. She was slipping away, piece by piece. If the ship security arrived and he didn't get her out before then... "Niko! Please! You've got to wake up!"
He suddenly remembered his last weapon against Jarvus... Gods, if you're up there, Shane thought, then help me get her away from him. He would have to draw heavily on his implant power, but he had to try. If he didn't, then a part of him would be lost forever. Shane took a deep breath. He could hear the security guards coming. Here goes nothing... He grabbed the metal circle on his blue uniform shirt. A field of greenish energy surrounded him. The effort was so powerful that he almost blacked out. He held on to consciousness by sheer determination. He couldn't black out now. He thought of everything he could to get through to her: the first time he saw her as beautiful, the first kiss, how she had saved his hide back on Tortuna when they had stormed the control tower, awakening from the Psychocrypt to see her face...the relief and joy he felt seeing her face after that, of that night up in the mountains behind BETA when they had first made love, of his fear when the Scarecrow attacked her...his fear that he would never see her again.
Shane pulled his full implant power and then some, and hoped that he was getting through to her. Suddenly he realized that he wasn't alone! Someone was adding their strength to his, helping him reach out to her. The presence he felt, made him think of a purple iris for some reason. He didn't stop to question who, or what was aiding him, but drew from the new source of strength.
Niko, come back to us...come back to the people who love you. His voice was added to that of the stranger's.
"Shane," Niko whispered aloud, now staring right at him.
There was a confidence he hadn't felt in a while, he knew he would win.
"Don't stop now!" the stranger's voice urged him on. The red gauze seemed to thicken around her even as he pleaded with her.
He could vaguely hear Jarvus as if from a distance shouting, "NO! I won't let you go! You are mine now!"
Niko seemed to shrink back as the red gauze thickened around her. But it was too late. Shane had stepped into the red gauze, and he could feel her essence starting to merge with his.
"Niko," Shane said with relief as they made contact. He wanted to wrap her up in his arms.
He could feel the grim determination of the other presence when they said, "Now, let's break his hold permanently!"
To Shane, it was the oddest feeling...like he was losing himself. Everything was gold...
Jarvus laughed, "I'll have two...I'll have you both!"
"Wrong!" the other presence said loud and clear in open mind-speech.
It was schizophrenic, but not frightening, Shane thought distantly as there was a large power surge, and it was all ripped away. The red gauze vanished like oil-soaked rage when a match hit them.
"You chose the wrong telepath to try and subdue, Jarvus!" A hybrid of three voices shouted, finally driving the alien telepath away.
"I will have her mind. She is Th'jai!"
"You have earned a mind, but not a soul. You pirate the souls because you have none of your own."
"No, I will have her!"
"Wrong, Jarvus! I belong to no one! Most especially, not you!" Niko's voice emerged from the blend.
An awful tug of war...Shane was dimly aware of something stretching to the point of almost breaking. The combined awareness he was part of was starting to fuse with Jarvis's awareness. Niko, he thought with sadness. He was going to lose her after all.
"But what can he offer you?" Jarvis's seductive voice came through the link. "A beautiful body, but a mind unable to comprehend the finer things..."
Something, someone had to give, but what or who would give first?
"I can give her only one thing... love," Shane admitted for the first time
Then, the other part of the blend, said, not so much in words, but by impression that that was what was needed.
"And the heart to let me be free..." Niko's voice said with more confidence now.
"Niko," the other part of the blend said, "listen to your heart."
"You may have culture, but she is nothing to you as a person. A play toy..."
The link between Goose, Niko and the mysterious third person seemed to be stretched to the limit. Shane heard a sound like the ripping of old cloth, as the rest of the hold Jarvus had had on Niko was slowly starting to be torn away. His own energy was almost totally spent. Distantly, he wondered if this effort could kill him. If it did, so be it.
Niko, Goose thought, as he felt the last of his energy start to give way. Don't let it end like this...
The last link was shredded away, and Niko fully stepped into the fusion. Emotions and memories, crashing and pounding. In a way, this was just as warped as catching that Poe doll and, there was nothing Goose could do to stem the rushing tide of the emotions and images that flooded him. He could feel the third person of the link slowly pulling out, leaving Goose and Niko alone. Shane was too exhausted to even try and block the flood.
Niko could help him, if she were able to.
The link slowly faded and, Goose found himself slumping to the floor in exhaustion. He had caught a few of the myriads of sensations... doubt, love, hate, fear - and the voice of a tiny little girl, crying in the wreckage that had once been a safe life. He was not going to let that happen again. He tried to find that reservoir of strength he had tapped into in the past to help him get back on his feet and take down Jarvus. He couldn't let Niko do it; he had to do it himself. He tried to get to his feet and slowly pitched forward unconscious, his energy levels depleted and the tremendous, throbbing pain of a migraine headache to end all migraine headaches driving him down into merciful blackness.
Jarvus laughed, "You have no strength here, warrior. I will crush you, and drain your life first." He was shocked out of his trance by a violent mental push. He staggered back physically from the blow, and turned to face a very angry Niko.
The mental connection was still open between them, but they were now equal, each in their own minds.
Niko crouched in a fighting position. "Defend yourself, Jarvus."
Jarvus was truly caught off guard... he had never encountered anyone who had managed to break his spell before. "A Th'jai you were, and Th'jai you'll be. I've already exhausted your pathetic lover. He will die. His last flicker of life will be part of me."
"You will not have him Jarvus, I promise you that, he is stronger than you realize and I will not let you take him," she told him coldly.
Jarvus for the first time began to feel more than a flicker of fear, but he would not let his fear show, and shoved back his nagging doubts as he dropped into a fighting stance similar to Niko's.
Through the intercom, the ship's captain announced, "Ambassador, BETA is not allowing us to take off!"
"I don't care if BETA allows us to take off or not! Take off! Get me off planet now!" He barked out.
Niko recognized the rattle under her feet: the ship was moving. There was also a violent jolt that accompanied the rattle of the deck plates.
"They're firing on us!" was the frantic cry from the captain.
"Return fire! I don't care what you have to do, just get me the hell away from Earth!" Jarvus barked out.
Niko saw her opportunity and used it. She leaped on Jarvus and pinned him against the bulkhead.
A sneer spread across his face "Is that all you can do?" he asked twisting and bringing up his feet he shoved Niko away from him.
"Order the ship to land, Jarvus," she said, lunging forward once again. Her arm pressed heavily against his throat.
Jarvus broke her hold and kicked. Niko blocked with her forearm, but the gauze garments were hard to fight in.
Fortunately the movement of the ship made it hard for Jarvus as well. He was more used to mental fighting. "Never! You will ensure my world's survival. I am the one who will enter Ithayla into the League and a new era."
"What, for a new food source?" Niko retorted.
"No. I only need a Th'jai every few years. It allows me to extend my life. Life force for life force. It is an honor on my world to be chosen. Don't you see? You live on as part of an important man. Without you, I will die! I do not wish to die!"
"Sorry, but I don't want to do either, Jarvus." Niko said bitterly. "I've fought too long and too hard for what I've got in this lifetime." She shook her head "You don't understand if I live on with you I will surely die a day at a time. My life force just taken away from me so that you can extend yours for how many more years? And I am not fighting for one life anymore."
Jarvis's catlike eyes narrowed and he glanced towards the blond man on the ground. His lips curled up barring his teeth. "He is not worth your time," he said and spit on the floor near Shane's head.
Niko delivered a violent punch to Jarvis's jaw. "He's worth more to me than you'll ever know."
Jarvus lashed out with a kick, catching Niko a bit unexpectedly.
She was knocked to the floor, and Jarvus grabbed her arms, pinning her. Niko's foot was caught in the red gauze. She cursed, as Jarvus bent near her ear, and whispered in an obscenely tender voice. "Don't struggle. It will only make it harder on you."
"I'm a Galaxy Ranger, Jarvus. We always fight against the impossible." Niko retorted, still struggling to free her legs from the entwining red gauze. She caught sight of a last hope... Jarvis's ceremonial dagger, resting on his hip. She freed one hand from his crushing grip and before he knew what she was about, grabbed the dagger from his waist.
Jarvus moved a hand, trying to grab the knife, but it left his neck vulnerable. Niko brought her hand up... A jolt rocked the ship, throwing Jarvus off Niko and sending them rolling as the ship pitched downward. They didn't have much time until the ship crashed or was shot down, but that was the least of Jarvus' concerns at the moment.
Niko rolled, somehow regaining her feet.
He lunged for Niko to get control of the knife, but she had already begun slicing away the confining gauze garments.
Jarvus dashed behind Shane, grabbing the unconscious man's neck, and holding it at a very dangerous angle. "Any further, and his neck breaks."
Niko stopped, and said in the coldest voice, "You harm him and you're dead, Jarvus. You won't live to see your planet again."
Jarvus laughed at Niko and said, "Now now, my dear do you really want to speak to me that way when I hole your lover's life in my hands? No, don't move," he said as she stared to come towards him.
She sent out a tendril of thought towards Shane, "Shane, you've got to wake up."
"Yes that's right" he cooed towards her with a small smile spreading on his lips, "Stay right there now. Sit down and be a good girl, will you?" he asked in a mockery of politeness.
But, she realized that he wasn't going to wake up anytime soon. Shane was suffering from - psi backlash enough to put her under, and she was a trained Adept. He was barely Gifted.
Jarvus chuckled, "You know that won't work you can't reach him, girl," he said still smiling.
"Sorry, Jarvus.... I'm not a \x91girl' anymore. I haven't been one for a long time now," Niko said, her voice full of acid.
"I realize, that my dear, that is why I chose you, after all," Jarvus said, not lessening his grip on Shane's neck.
Another jolt and the ship was pitched to the right.
Her eyes flickered down to Shane's face.
"But please do sit down it would be much easier on this young man's breathing," he said with amusement in his eyes now that he seemed to hold the upper hand again.
Then, before either of them could say anything else, the captain's frantic voice came back on the intercom, "Sir! We're losing power! We're going to crash!"
There was an acrid smell in the cabin. Smoke, Niko realized. The ship was on fire.
That report jolted both of them.
They would have to leave the ship now.
"You've lost, Jarvus.... the ship is going down, and you've failed to make me your slave."
Jarvus saw the door to his cabin slide open as the emergency systems activated. In a flash, he made his move. But, Niko had anticipated this. He threw Shane's limp body towards Niko and made a run for it.
Niko was a strong woman but Shane's body was large and heavy she attempted to catch him and ended up on the floor in a heap.
The impact knocked the wind out of her, and it was a long moment later before she could draw a full breath again. Cursing her luck she pulled the two of them off the floor having to wrap both arms around Shane's waist to keep him up, but it was too much weight. She cursed again and laid him back on the ground and resorted to dragging him under his arms.
The smell of burning insulation assaulted her, as she fought to drag Shane's body out into the corridor. Her eyes searched wildly around the room and landed on the door which Jarvus had just gone through and followed in that direction. It led to his private shuttle-bay. A lone shuttle was starting to warm up. Niko wished for her blaster shotgun that she carried whenever she was in uniform. She dropped Shane and ran towards the shuttle.
She was too late. The shuttle door slammed shut, and the engines flared to life. Niko had one last chance, a switch near her hand. "Emergency door controls."
She flipped the switch, and the door slid open. Caught by surprise, she stumbled into the shuttle, paused, regained her balance and went charging up to the cockpit. She was not going to let this monster get away.
Jarvus was not prepared when Niko burst in. "You foolish woman! We will both die unless you close the door and let us get away."
"You're not going anywhere, Jarvus." Niko said. "I'm placing you under arrest for kidnapping and attempted murder of a Galaxy Ranger, Jarvus."
"Diplomatic immunity, Niko. I will not answer for any crimes because I've committed none. You came to me of your free will, or do you not remember? You underwent the ritual with me."
Then, the ship pitched again, throwing Niko against the back wall of the cockpit. Out the front window of the shuttle, Niko could see the tops of trees dangerously close.
"Wrong, Jarvus.... I'm not only talking about myself here. Diplomatic Immunity does not apply when you're talking about trying to murder a Ranger."
Even as she answered him, the ship dropped down into the treetops.
Jarvus stood up. "Then I must preserve myself..." He drew a blaster from under the console.
Outside, the sound of breaking tree limbs could be heard as the ship slid closer to the ground. The ship jerked, Niko dodged, and Jarvus fired all at the same time. The pitch of the ship threw Niko right into Jarvus, and she began to struggle with him for control of the blaster. The knife was in her other hand. In the struggle, it was a dangerous wild card. Jarvus appeared to be winning the struggle for the blaster.
The ground was getting closer by the microsecond. Niko fought desperately with Jarvus, working to knock the blaster from his hand. His physical strength was surprising. A jolt as they clipped more trees, and everything was suddenly pitched forward... including the knife blade in Niko's hand. With a sickening jolt, she felt it slide into his body up to its hilt. Suddenly, Jarvis's eyes grew wide, and his face went ashen. Niko felt something warm, wet, and slightly sticky on her fingers. In surprise, she looked down to see that she had stabbed him in the heart, or, at least where a heart would be on a human. The blaster slipped unheeded from his grip, and Jarvus crumpled to the floor as his eyes rolled back.
Niko stood there momentarily shocked. She had never killed anyone so, personally, before. A horrible screech filled the air, and the ship jerked violently. Shane, she realized, shocking herself out of the paralysis.
The ship rocked again, and this time she was knocked clean off her feet, catching her head against the door jamb on the way down. The blow left Niko dazed and uncoordinated. She had to get back to Shane... Niko tried to get back to her feet and only made it back to her knees. She managed to crawl about two feet when the ship finally came to a crashing halt, and she caught her head again against the doorframe. This time she saw stars and everything went black.
Oh yeah.... the infamous last words: "To be continued..." bwahahahahaha!