Yes, I know, I need to work on The Terran Jedi. But this arrived in my head and made a nuisance of itself. Yes, The Terran Jedi will get updated. But first I had to get this out of my head. Enjoy.
He woke up slowly. Oh hell, this was the worst hangover ever. Worse than the party after his first bestseller. Worse than after Alexis was born. Oooohhh… hopefully his brains weren't coming out of his ears. He struggled to remember what the hell he'd been drinking last night.
It was at this point that various parts of his body started to report in. His back hurt. Probably because he was sitting on a very hard chair. Wooden chair? Maybe. Oh. And he was tied to it. That wasn't good. Plus there was a bag over his head. That was worse. He licked his lips and then hissed slightly at how dry they were. And then memory snuck in and walloped him on the back of his skull. Oh. The walk to the car. With Beckett. And then the snarls from the shadows and the appearance of the three men and two women with… bumpy… foreheads.
"Oh crap," he said out loud. "That gang again? And kidnappers?"
He heard a muffled noise to his right and then a voice slurred a single word: "Castle?"
A combination or relief and terror flooded through him. "Kate?"
"Oh thank God, Rick! Are you okay?"
He paused for a moment as he assessed the various messages that his body was sending him. "Well, the back of my head hurts, I want to throw up, there's a bag over my head, I have a slightly dead leg and, oh, I'm FAR more concerned with how you are!"
There was a slight pause. "Actually," she said eventually, "I'm about the same as you. Do you remember what happened?"
He winced as some more fragments of memory jangled into place. "Um, we were waylaid. By some people with yellow contact lenses and bumpy foreheads. Who I'm pretty sure that-"
"Esposito warned us against," Beckett finished for him. "Oh crap, as you said."
Richard Castle winced. "Okay. So you've got a bag over your head?"
"Yes. Smells like a hamster peed in it."
He sniffed slightly. "Same here." He leant forwards and then gingerly shook his head. Stars burst in front of his eyes, his headache got a lot worse, but the bag over his head shifted a bit. "Urgh."
"Are you okay?"
"Headache. Might have shifted this bag though. Can you get your own bag off your head?"
There was a slight pause, followed by a loud gulp. "Not without throwing up inside it. Head hurts."
That was worrying. She might have concussion. He waited until his headache ebbed a bit, leant forwards as far as he could and then jerked his head carefully up and down. Argh, more headache, but he could feel the bag move again. A sudden idea came to him and he bit into the bag and pulled it downwards as he lowered his head again. More movement and he felt the bag shift even further – to the point where he held it in his teeth. He promptly spat it out. "Yuck. I do not want to know where that's been."
"Bag's off." He looked around blearily at the room. The first thing he looked for was Beckett and he let out a sigh of relief. She was indeed to his right, next to him in fact. She was also tied up, obviously, with a bag that looked as bad as his had tasted over her head.
"Describe the room," she ordered, still sounding too shaky for his liking. "We need to get the hell out of here."
Castle looked around the room. "Well, the place looks like it's been trashed. One light overhead, quite a dim one, which is good because my eyes are still adjusting. Rubbish to my left. Suspicious stains also to my left. I think that we can classify this place as being officially unpleasant. No windows that I can see. One door. Large, metal and very likely locked." He squinted at her. "Can you lean to your left a bit?"
Beckett leaned over and he leaned to his right. "A bit more?" She moved just a little closer and he craned his neck to grab a protruding flap of the bag over her head with his teeth. "'ait a min'ute," he grunted and then pulled the bag off her head. Yup, it did too taste of hamster pee and he spat it out. "There you go."
The woman that he loved looked like hell. Her hair was a mess, there was a lump on the side of her head and what looked like blood there. She blinked muzzily around her, caught sight of him and then smiled shakily. "Hey."
"Hey. Your eyes are crossed. Are you seeing two of me?"
She seemed to consider this for a moment. "Uh, yes?"
This was not good. He jerked his hands to assess their bindings and suppressed a groan. They felt depressingly good. "Okay," he said eventually. "We are not in a good place."
"You can say that again," Beckett muttered. "Kidnapped, tied up and my case concussed. Rick, I don't feel too good."
He looked at her worriedly. "We'll get out of here. I hope. And yes, I know, I'm being hopelessly optimistic. And despite that I-" He paused. Someone on the other side of that door was screaming something. "Wait, something's going on."
There was more screaming. And shouting. A thunder of boots on floorboards in their general direction, which was worrying. Every hair on the back of his neck stood up on end. And then the boots stopped and he distinctly heard at least two people say a word that he never wanted to hear from the mouth of Alexis. The next word was insane though. 'Jedi'?
More boots, this time running away from the door, and then a bellow. "You dare to confront me? I hold the book of Karandalion! I will burn you to ash! I will- ARRGGGHHHHH! MY ARM! MY-" The voice was cut off in a very final way.
More screaming, more shouting, something or someone smashing against a wall.
And then there was the oddest noise. Like… nah. He must have been hit really hard on the head. His ears were ringing. Trick of the… um, wind?
The screaming stopped abruptly and then the world took a turn towards the decidedly bizarre, because with a suddenness that made him gap a shard of green light was thrust through the doorframe, at the same level as the hinges. And then it was dragged all the way down almost to the floor. It looked like… but that was impossible.
The blade vanished and then the entire door quivered – before, with a scream of metal on metal, it was pulled bodily out of the frame and then vanished. From the loud clang a way away it must have been quite a heavy one, although he had no idea what the strange skittering noise that ended at the same time as the clang was.
A figure then darted in. Castle stared at their rescuer – if he or she was their rescuer. Not very tall, not very large, dressed in a hooded brown robe that, combined with the low level of lighting, effectively hid their face. And then there was the lightsabre. Castle stared at it, mesmerised. It was a lightsabre. A green one. But that was… impossible. The figure looked around the room quickly and then shut the lightsabre (what?) off, before hurrying over to them – and then standing behind them.
"Um, hello? Are you here to rescue us? Pretty please?"
The figure made a 'shhh' noise and then reached out to place a hand on his and Beckett's heads. The hairs on the back of his neck must have been doing overtime, because they were now threatening to rip the lower part of his scalp off. And then…. His headache ebbed. A lot. What the hell? Oh and then the ties securing his hands and legs and body… just fell off. Judging by the way that Beckett was suddenly pulling her hands around from the back of her chair, the same thing had happened to her own bindings.
"Ok, who are you again?" From the way that her voice wasn't wobbling all over the place, Beckett's headache must also have been ebbing, although she still physically wobbled as she got to her feet. Castle stood as well, wincing as the blood flowed into those bits of his body that had been on a diet due to his posture.
The mysterious figure – and there was something oddly familiar about the way that they moved – didn't reply, but instead moved to the doorway and peered out. After a moment that hooded head looked back at them and then jerked twice at the corridor beyond.
"Can't you at least tell us who you are, what this was all about?" Castle realised that there was a bit of whine in his voice and this seemed to amuse their rescuer, who tilted his or her head and then moved out into the corridor carefully, before gesturing at them with a peremptory and very long-sleeved hand. He looked at the figure. Well, if this was a dream, and they were being rescued by a Jedi then at least they were dressed as one. Perhaps he still had concussion? Perhaps someone had slipped something into his coffee? Although if this was a dream, it came with a lot of pain, which was not something that happened in his dreams.
Beckett still seemed to be shaky on her feet, so he pulled her left arm over his shoulder, grabbed her waist and then helped her to the doorway. "Thanks," Kate whispered as they got there. "This is weird."
"You said it," Castle muttered. "Let's try and get out of here alive, ok?" Then he saw the corridor. "Whoa." It was a war zone. There was a haze of smoke in the air, there was blood smeared along one wall, there seemed to be a hell of a lot of dust on the floor and… there was something grey, with perhaps a few too many limbs buried under the remains of the metal door to their room.
Their rescuer gestured again and then darted up the corridor, pausing at an intersection to both check it out and wait for them to catch up, before darting further up. At the end was a right hand turn. Castle and Beckett staggered up the corridor, both almost tripping over themselves as they passed the door and the grey inhuman thing that was under it, and then joined the hooded Jedi person.
There was a… thing at the far end of the corridor. His brain was having some difficulties processing it, because it seemed to be… well, something that wasn't exactly human. In a nutshell it looked like the offspring of the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a rhinoceros that had been force-fed every single steroid ever owned by the East German women's track team. Plus a pair of mad red eyes.
Their rescuer walked a few steps forwards and then seemed to sigh slightly and shake their head. At which point the creature threw its head back and made a noise that came very close to making bladder control a real issue. And then it charged at them. It was quite fast for such a large creature and every step it took shook the floor. He could feel himself boggling at it and he could also hear Beckett swearing at herself for not having her firearm on her.
It was the hooded figure who acted. Showing a smooth, deadly grace that made the hairs on the back of his neck (yes, those dratted things again) stand on end their rescuer ran forwards, kicked off one leg, ran along the wall and then somehow there was a silver cylinder in their hand and they were leaping over the head of the creature whilst the green lightsabre blade was activated and then…
There was a confused sound and then the onrushing creature fell apart in several pieces. Its head, complete with now-lifeless mad red eyes, bounced once, twice and then finally tumbled to a halt in front of Beckett, who stared at it with very wide eyes. After a long moment she finally poked at it with her toe. It looked… extremely real.
The lightsabre was still on and Castle finally wrenched his eyes away from the remains of the… thing… And then he saw the others at the end of the corridor, just in front of a set of doors, who were all staring in horror at the remains of the… whatever the hell it was. There were five of them. They all had lumpy foreheads and yellow eyes. They all looked, in some way that he really could not explain, dangerous.
And then the world really went insane, because the hooded figure threw the lightsabre down the corridor almost too fast for the eye to see, in a rotating green circle of death. It caught every one of those cult members in the neck and they… turned… to… dust. He stared at the motes of dust as they cascaded downwards and then poked at his brain with a metaphorical finger to try and make it work again. Beckett was also having trouble processing this, because her mouth was now hanging open.
"Impossible?" He finished her sentence for her. "Are those…" The word 'vampires' was in his brain, but was having trouble getting through to his lips. He made an effort and finally said it. "Vampires?"
"It has… has to be some kind of trick. Hologram?"
The hooded figure turned to them and shook its head severely. And then they turned back to the corridor and held up a hand. And the doors at the end exploded outwards. Which was… also impossible. Castle grabbed hold of Beckett again and then rushed towards the doorway, just behind their rescuer. As they passed through the exit castle felt the building shudder slightly and he looked to one side to see flames erupt from the far side of the building. It was night, which made the flames more lurid. They half-staggered, half-rushed to a relatively safe place, where Beckett slumped onto a handy bench.
Of course 'relatively safe' depended on your point of view. Castle turned back to face the building as he heard the lightsabre snap on again. Something was approaching at full scream and died at full scream. Oh look. A vampire. The lightsabre snapped off and then the hooded figure turned to them again and tossed something towards him. He caught it automatically with his free hand and stared down at it in confusion. A cell phone? Aha. He quickly dialled Esposito's number and then waited. After an agonisingly long moment the detective finally picked up. "Hello?" That single word was said with the maximum of suspicion.
"Esposito! It's me! Castle! I-"
"Castle!" The detective sounded incredibly relieved. "Where are you man? And is Beckett with you?"
"She's with me, we're both safe. Kinda. We were both knocked out and we've both had a hell of a day. As for where we are…." He looked around. "I think we're near the river. Big building. Big building that's now on fire. I think I hear sirens in the distance so someone must have called it in." He peered around desperately. "We're in the Warehouse District! I think I see a sign for West 25th Street!"
There was a confused noise on the other side as Esposito held a hand over the mouthpiece and then shouted something loudly. Then he came back: "What the hell happened man?"
"We were ambushed. By the car."
"I know, we found your phones there. Gates has been tearing the city apart to find you."
Wow. Nice to be appreciated. "Esposito, the people who had us – it's a hell of a story, not even one that I'd believe. They had lumpy foreheads and yellow contact lenses. I think that they had contact lenses that is."
There was a sudden absolute silence, followed by a swearword or three. "Um, did they have long canines?"
Vampires. He knew about vampires. "Didn't get close enough to see that. When I was awake that is." The ground shuddered suddenly as something combusted particularly enthusiastically in the building and then all of a sudden part of the roof blew off with a roar. "Ok, we're getting the hell away from here."
"Castle. What. Happened?"
"Oh – we were rescued. Guy – or possible gal – in a hooded robe. And armed with something impossible in his or her hand. I'm not sure about that last part, I might have concussion. We're out of the building obviously. And the lumpy forehead people with yellow eyes…. Well, they went to pieces. Literally. Little pieces of ash. Can you bring some paramedics? It's just that my mouth doesn't believe what my brain wants it to say." The hairs on the back of his neck were going to need a lot of R&R after this.
"Can you put Beckett on?"
"Sure, I'll just… oh." He looked at the bench. Beckett was still there, but their mysterious hooded rescuer wasn't. "What happened to our friend with the lightsabre? Kate? Are you ok?"
Beckett seemed to have gone into shock. She was sitting there with a look of stunned astonishment on her face. After a long moment – at about the same time that the sirens started to get louder and louder – she seemed to register his presence. "I'm sorry? What?"
"What happened to our rescuer?"
"She… uh… vanished. I turned my head for a second and she… vanished."
"She? How could you tell?"
"The way she moved." Beckett's eyes flickered down to the phone. Castle stared down at it and then got the message. "Esposito, here's Beckett." He handed it over and then looked around quickly. No sign at all of their rescuer, anywhere. He could hear Beckett talking quickly, which was a good thing because all of a sudden every car or truck or engine with a siren attached seemed to be converging on their location. And then, when he could finally see, in the chaos of yelling firefighters who seemed to be unrolling a hectare of fire hoses and the running cops who were trying to keep the inevitable gawkers back, Esposito and Ryan and, yes, even Gates heading towards him he finally obeyed the requests that his increasingly trembling legs were sending him and quietly slumped down onto his knees – and then onto his side. Time for a nap perhaps. Yes, time for a nap.
His dreams were chaotic. Flashing lights, yellow eyes, a green lightsabre, Esposito trying to ask him something as the EMTs fussed over him to treat him for dehydration, exhaustion and mild concussion, Gates barking something at someone else, a doctor at a hospital looking at him, his mother doing her I'm-deadly-serious-and-you're-obeying-orders thing that she only did when she really meant business, Alexis telling him to sleep. That last part was important. He just had no idea why.
When he woke up he had a hell of a headache, but at least the ceiling was the familiar one of his bedroom. He turned his head slightly and noted with relief that Kate was next to him. She was also very, very asleep.
Coffee, his brain demanded, Coffee. So he carefully got out of bed, put on a robe, inspected the colour of his tongue in the bathroom mirror (and then recoiled slightly at it) and then wandered out in search of coffee. Judging by the sun it was almost noon, which meant that he had slept for…. He had no idea how long. Coffee.
He wandered into the kitchen area and then noted that his mother was there, reading a novel and looking disgustingly fresh and awake. Hearing his shuffle she looked up. "Hey kiddo!" She then blinked at him. "Are you ok Richard?"
He ran through various responses in his head and then tried to articulate one. "Uhhhh?"
"How very inarticulate of you. Let me guess: you need coffee?"
"Argl."And then a nod.
His mother turned and poured him a large mug of caffeinated heaven, which he promptly grabbed and practically inhaled. After a long moment to allow the caffeine to percolate into various synapses, prompting them to suddenly sit up and report for duty he was finally able to say a coherent phrase: "Good morning mother."
"Good afternoon you mean. Richard, you've been asleep for twelve hours.
He thought about this as his headache ebbed away. "I have?"
"You have. I take it that Katherine is still asleep?"
"Not anymore," came a groan from behind him as a tousled and very bleary Kate Beckett stumbled towards them. She was dressed in her robe and looked like she'd been dragged through a hedge backwards. "Coffee? Please?"
"Here you go my dear," Martha said as she fussed around her. "Drink this. How do you feel my dear?"
He looked at Kate as she visibly thought about this. "Urgh?"
"That's what I said," Castle muttered as he poured himself another cup. "Ah, caffeine. Nectar of the gods…" Then he paused. "Where's Alexis?"
He was aware of the phrase to jump out of one's skin, but he'd never experienced it before. It was unpleasant. He turned to see his daughter standing there in front of him. She had apparently appeared… out… of… nowhere. "Hey sweetheart. Where did you come from?"
She looked at him with that grave, introspective look that she had taken to using over the past few months. She'd been worrying him. "Upstairs, Dad. I think I need to have a word you all."
He sat down on the nearest stool and inhaled some more coffee. "About what?"
"About how I rescued you two last night."
Castle froze. Then he turned back to his daughter. "I'm sorry, but what?"
"I rescued you and Kate last night Dad. From the vampires and demons that kidnapped you."
There was a long moment as everyone stared at her. And then she gestured with her hand and a silver cylinder flew from the stairs into her hand. She thumbed a switch and a green blade thrummed into life with the distinctive noise of a lightsabre. She looked at them for a long moment and then she deactivated. "Dad. I'm a Jedi Knight." She looked at them all. "I guess I'd better explain how this all happened."