Author's Note: This is my attempt at Quartie in space, in a completely alternate universe, where there are princesses and smugglers, etc. Sort of like Glee Star Wars-fied. But this is not the Star Wars universe. I came up with the names of the planets, etc, all on my own. Any resemblance to any sci fi stories is not intentional.
Additionally, this is for Quartie Week, Take II, Sci Fi Quartie. It will have three parts, but I'm only going to publish the first part today.
As the general disclaimer on my page says, I don't own anything. Fair Use, etc, etc. This is only for fun. Read and review, please! :)
The Lorlian Plot: Part One
There was a loud crash from somewhere in the spaceship as it banked hard to the left and a string of curses soon followed. Footsteps were heard slapping against the metal and the hatch to the cockpit slid open, revealing the annoyed face of the man who called himself captain of the ship.
"You trying to wreck my ship, Artie?" he growled.
Rolling his eyes, Artie pushed the controls, sending the ship into a nosedive, causing Puck to lurch forward and crash into the co-pilot's seat. "Yeah, Puck that's what I'm doing. Not evading these gun ships at all…"
Gripping the back of the seat, Puck gazed out the window, toward the stars. "We got passengers," he reminded his pilot.
"I remember," Artie murmured, thinking about the runaway princess and her two handmaidens. "They could be after them -"
"Nah," Puck interrupted, with a shake of his head. "Look at their ships. They're just pirates."
Glancing up at his friend, Artie raised an eyebrow. "We're pirates," he reminded Puck.
Grinning, Puck responded, "No, we're smugglers. Now get us out of here!"
Artie made sure that the coordinates were set and then hit the button that took them into hyperspace. In an instant, the stars had formed a portal as the ship, the Golden Egg, hurtled through space.
The safest place to land was Borden, though Puck argued with Artie on that point for ten minutes.
"We need fuel," Artie had stated calmly, hands circling the cold mug full of equally as cold water. "Borden's on the way out of the system and the authorities, or whoever, surely chasing after the princess won't think to look there because they won't know of its existence or how to find it."
Puck countered, his lip curling up in a sneer, "But that's Finn's space station, and he hates me."
With a lift of his eyebrow, Artie gave Puck a look. "Well, you did -"
"I know, I know," huffed Puck. "Lauren was his girlfriend. I should of at least waited 'til they broke up."
Trying not to smirk, Artie gave a nod, simultaneously pushing the glasses that framed his blue eyes up the bridge of his nose. "You think?"
"One time mistake!" Puck exclaimed, holding up a finger. "Years ago. And the guy holds a grudge."
Sighing, Artie lifted his mug to his lips, taking a long sip. After he swallowed the water down, he made eye contact with his long time friend. "Maybe he does and maybe he doesn't. It's been two years since you've seen him. How do you know what he's thinking about it if you avoid him?"
That seemed to make Puck think, his hand rubbing the back of his head as it often did when he had something to ponder.
"Excuse me?" came a tiny voice from the entrance to the galley, where Artie was currently enjoying his mug of water while Puck paced the metal flooring.
Both men turned eyes to their current cargo, Princess Rachel of Lorlian. She had exchanged her royal garments for more drab ones, abandoning the purple frock she had come on board in for a plain white tunic, black pants and black boots that stopped at the knee. Her hair, once in a fashionable coiffure, was now pinned back in a simple bun. All make up had been removed from her face except for what appeared to be the faint sheen of pink lip gloss.
Emitting a low whistle, Puck eyed her, causing Artie to roll his eyes. "You clean up real good, Princess."
The comment appeared to anger the princess, her dark eyes flashing at Puck. However, she was a princess and knew how to remain graceful in all situations, at least on the outside. "I would like to speak with you, Captain, about our present course of action."
Her choice of words caused Puck to chuckle under his breath, which only seemed to further agitate the petite princess.
Deciding to speak for his captain, Artie told her, "We're going to land on an outpost called Borden to fuel up. There you can tell us where you want us to take you."
Hesitating, Princess Rachel picked at the hem of her tunic. "I…do not know where we are to go."
Less amused now, Puck crossed his arms over his chest. "You serious? Gotta have a destination, Princess. We ain't gonna cart you around forever."
Tilting her head, Rachel offered Puck a thin smile, though she was clearly not amused. "Please attempt to understand our situation, Captain Puckerman. My home world has been taken captive by an evil dictator and his cruel bride. They destroyed…" Looking at the floor, the princess struggled to maintain her composure. After a moment, she lifted her head and continued on. "…destroyed my entire family. Except for me and my cousin, who is in hiding. I have no idea why Will and Susan allowed for me to remain alive but they did. Perhaps to placate the people, who all love me a great deal. I did not want to leave them but the head of the guard thought I must. He believed that they would eliminate me soon and felt it imperative that I go on. I must…go on." Though shining with tears, not one strayed from either eye.
The two men listening to her speech were very quiet as she spoke, the ship's pilot going through an internal emotional turmoil, though it wouldn't be obvious to the princess.
"K," grunted Puck after the silence had stretched too long for his taste. "We'll figure it out at Borden. We'll find a place for you to be safe."
They didn't exit hyperspace until a day later, when the alarm signaling the end of the trip blared throughout the ship. In the cockpit, Artie silenced it, then sent out a call to Jesse St. James, who was in charge of monitoring the ships landing in one of Borden's many hangar bays. It was tricky getting to the station, since Borden was actually inside one of the asteroids of the Farsonian Asteroid belt.
On Borden, it was decided Princess Rachel and her two handmaidens, Mercedes and Tina, would stay on board the Golden Egg while Puck took care of the fuel situation and Artie went to root out some local help. Puck would've gone to get the help and ask Artie to fuel the ship, but the captain didn't want to take any chance that he might run into Finn.
Not sure where the person he was looking for would be, Artie left a message with Jesse, knowing somehow she'd get wind of it and would seek him out. After the message was relayed, Artie went to the station's bar, signaling to Kurt, the barkeep, that he wanted a drink. Since it wasn't his first time there, Kurt knew what he wanted, as it was all Artie ever ordered. Setting the ale down on the counter, Kurt grinned down at Artie.
"Artie! Haven't seen you in….what now, two years?"
"About that," Artie replied, glancing around the bar while sipping his ale. The most mild kind the bar served. Artie wasn't much of a drinker.
"Looking for someone?" Kurt asked, eyes following Artie's.
Before Artie could answer, a hand clamped down on his shoulder. "Sure is," rang a familiar voice in his ear. "But I found him first." Raising his chin, Artie gazed into the hazel eyes of Quinn Fabray, the most strikingly beautiful woman he had ever met. Half smiling at him, she indicated the drink in his hands. "Still drinking that weak stuff?" To Kurt, she said, "The usual, Hummel."
A couple minutes later, they were sitting together at a table in the corner. The best one in the joint because both people sitting there had clear advantage points of all the entrances and exits in the bar. Neither Puck nor Quinn would sit anywhere else in the bar.
"What brings you to Borden?" Quinn asked, swirling her drink around in her cup. "After that business with Lauren, didn't think Puck would ever come back here."
"Neither did I, "Artie snorted. "How is Lauren?"
"She's settled down, with Jesse. They have a kid on the way. But we both know you didn't come here to talk about Lauren." One slim eyebrow formed an almost triangle as she leaned across the table. "What's going on, Artie?" she questioned him, her voice low.
For some reason, the exchange reminded him of the first time they had met. It had been in this very bar, five years earlier, when Artie had been a little green around the ears, as Quinn had sait.
He had been part of Captain Beiste's crew, as she was on of the few who would hire a "kid" in a repulsor chair. Under her tutelage, he had learned how to pilot a ship, shoot a gun, talk like a real smuggler, though he had never been good at the last part. He was particularly good at the piloting, however, and Besite often told him he'd have to either get a ship of his own or find a ship that needed a good pilot one day. Six months into being a part of her crew, they had landed at the secretive Borden outpost. Beiste had heard a word around the station that Noah Puckerman, more often called Puck, was looking for a good pilot for his new ship. Tearfully, she had told him it was time to move on, and this was the perfect opportunity for him. Though Artie knew he'd miss her and he was grateful for all she'd done for him, he did agree with her and knew it was what he needed to do.
Puckerman was rumored to be in the bar so that's where Artie had gone, ordering a drink there with the lowest alcohol content. Since Beiste had sent word to this Puckerman person about Artie, all Artie had to do was sit and wait. Wait for someone who looked like he had a rat growing on his head to come in, and with the hazel eyes too pretty to belong to a man. Such had been Beiste's description. Thinking about it, as he sat there, Artie laughed under his breath.
"Something funny?" asked a sultry, soft and very feminine voice.
Glancing up, Artie locked eyes, for the first time, with Quinn Fabray. At the time, she had had pink highlighted bangs that tended to fall forward and cover her hazel eyes. The corners of her luscious lips had been turned up in smile that could have been a smirk and her hands had been hanging by her sides. As was usual for her, she had been dressed head to toe in black. Black sleeveless shirt, black pants, black thigh high boots. He also noticed the way her eyes shifted from side to side, always watching, and the way her hand never strayed too far from the gun in its holster on her hip. "No," he had finally said, after seconds of sizing her up. "I'm waiting for someone."
"Hmm." Quinn placed a hand on the back of his chair, which surprised Artie because some people acted like touching the chair might transfer his paraplegia to them, leaning over his shoulder. "Who're you waiting for?"
Not sure why the as of then unknown woman cared, Artie had shrugged. "Someone."
Undeterred, she had repeated herself. "Who is this someone?"
Narrowing his eyes, Artie moved his chair forward slightly until she straightened. "I'll know when the person shows up. Not sure it's any of your business."
A loud laugh echoed from somewhere behind them and Artie turned, spotting the person who must be Puck. Coming around, the man sat down heavily in the chair across from Artie. "Quinn was just testing you. The last guy gave out all my info on the first question. Shoulda known better than that. You seem smarter though."
Looking down at Artie, Quinn had offered him a smile, then she nodded at Puck. "See you around, Puckerman. Have fun with…green around the ears here."
With that, she had left, and Artie found he couldn't take his eyes off those swaying hips as she exited the bar.
Artie had, of course, been hired by Puck, which had brought him into Quinn's presence on more than one occasion. Sometimes she helped them out with a job, as she was a good con woman, but she mostly avoided Artie, something Artie did not understand. Especially since he went out of his way to try to get to know her. Every once in awhile, he thought he spotted a flash of vulnerability that she hid with her tough exterior, in an expression in her eyes or in something she said. But most of the time, she was extremely guarded and every conversation he attempted to start with her was met with extreme resistance. Despite this, he never gave up because he was, simply put, infatuated with her.
One day, he told himself, one day he would learn something of significance about her.
"You okay?" asked Quinn in the present, both eyebrows arched. "Seems like you're lost in your own little world."
"Uh, oh, I'm okay," Artie chuckled. "Sorry, did get a little lost there for a second." Lifting his eyes toward the cameras silently monitoring everything happening in the bar. "Can we go somewhere…private?"
If it had been anyone else, Quinn would've taken the comment as suggestive but from Artie, she knew it wasn't meant that way at all. "Sure," she said, getting up.
They tipped a grinning Kurt on the way out, Artie trying to keep his eyes averted from Quinn's swaying hips.
In Quinn's small quarters, Quinn sat on the edge of the bed while Artie explained the runaway princess to her. "We got this call a week ago about a high paying job on Lorlian. Like Puck would ever turn that down so we were on our way. Apparently, there's been some political turmoil since we were last there. It was tough getting in."
Sniffing in disbelief, Quinn clasped her hands together over her knees. "Some political turmoil? Don't you pay attention to what's going on in the collected worlds?" Artie shook his head, because he tended to tune those things out these days, and Quinn kept talking. "There was a coup about eight months back. Sue Sylvester, you know her, right?" Indeed Artie did. Anyone who was part of the criminal underbelly of the collected worlds knew her. She had been the head of the biggest crime syndicate for years but had fallen off the grid more recently.
"Yeah. Apparently, she fell in love with high bred upper class Will from Lorlian and is going by Susan now. She was here talking about it before the coup. I think she really loves him but I'm sure it doesn't hurt that this coup tripled her assets and made her queen of her own planet." With a roll of her eyes, Quinn stretched her hands forward, the tips of her fingers almost hitting Artie's knees. "Sue's got her pirates trolling that area now, using them as Lorlian's personal navy. The coup was bloody. I heard the whole royal family got the axe. But the princess survived, did she?"
Artie nodded. "She did. Some guy named Matt made the call, said he was a loyalist and the princess needed urgent helping getting off world. It was hell getting in and worse getting out."
"I'm sure you're the only pilot good enough to actually escape that planet," Quinn said gently. "We know how Sue's forces can be."
They did but that was a remembrance for another time. "But what now? We need to take her somewhere safe."
Biting her bottom lip, Quinn contemplated his question. "Maghdi."
It took a minute for Quinn's suggestion to register. "Maghdi…Santana?" Artie wasn't sure the whole story, and he wasn't sure anyone knew the whole story, but he did know that there was bad blood between Santana Lopez and Quinn. "Are you sure?"
Her face was as cold and hard as a stone. "I'm sure. Santana has no love for Sue so she'll help the princess on that basis alone. But I'm coming with you."
Artie blanched, did a double take, then slowly closed his mouth. "Uh, Santana -"
"What about her?" Quinn almost growled.
"Nothing. Of course you can come. There's always room for you."
Visibly softening, Quinn studied him quietly. "You're probably the kindest criminal I know. How did you find yourself in this life?"
Staring at his hands, Artie replied, his voice emotionless. "You know."
When her fingers brushed along his arm, he jumped a little. Though they had known each other many years, it was rare for her to make skin to skin contact with him, and when she did, it always surprised him. "I do," she whispered.
More than anything, he wanted to look at her then but he couldn't bring himself to lift his head, as visions of the past flashed before his eyes. He understood exactly what the princess was feeling in losing her family. For he had lost his too. He was one of few who had survived the Cenashian Genocide, as it had come to be called. Cenasha and Cardolla had stood side by side for centuries, the planet and its moon hosting civilizations that existed peacefully. Until that day eight years ago when the Cardollians had descended upon the unknowing Cenashians who resided on the moon. It had been a slaughter. All because the Cardollians felt that the Cenashians were plotting to overtake them with their "smarts."While it was true Cenasha was known for its intelligent population, it was also known for its stance on violence and its pacifistic nature. They had no intention of attacking the planet their moon had been circling for millennia.
The government, headed by the collected planets Council of Three, hadn't stepped in until most of Cenasha's population had been decimated. Including Artie's family. His mom, dad, younger sister. And it was how he had lost the use of his legs and been restricted to a life in the chair, as a bombed building had fallen on him Where there had once been over two million Cenasihans, there were now only, roughly, five thousand. Many had stayed on the moon to rebuild but many more had left. Artie had been one of those. A child prodigy who had graduated from University at sixteen, had joined the underbelly of society only two short years later because of his hatred for the government. They had failed to act when they should've and because of that, Artie had lost everything, and didn't want to be part of their system in any way.
"Knowing what I know…well, you're even more a wonder to me," Quinn said, still in a whisper. "Most people would be bitter."
Laughing sardonically, Artie wagered a glance at her, allowing her to see the tears glittering on his eyelashes. "Oh, I'm bitter. Full of bitter hate. But I don't direct it at just anyone. Only those responsible for what happened. I am what I am because of them, because they -" Stopping, he shook his head. It wasn't easy to discuss what had happened to Censha, but he had with certain people, like Puck, Quinn, and Beiste. Though not willing to talk about herself, or to talk at all in some cases, Quinn had done quite a bit of listening to Artie on the subject of the genocide. Sometimes she would even comfort him, with a hand to his shoulder, or a brush of her fingers against this arm or hand, as she had just done.
"Maybe we should get to the ship?" Quinn suggested, standing. "Let me just pack."
Artie watched her throw a few things into a bag, then swing the bag over her shoulder. As they made their way to the Golden Egg, Artie was uncharacteristically quiet.
"I'm sorry if-" Quinn started to say as they rounded the corner and entered the hanger bay.
"Don't be," Artie said shortly, managing to smile at her. "It's really okay."
Poised to respond, Quinn lifted a finger but it remained hovering there when she spotted Puck talking to Finn. "Oh no," she muttered.
Following her line of vision, Artie saw the two men, both looking quite tense, staring each other down. "Great."
The two quickly made their way across the hangar bay, arriving just in time to hear Puck say, "Look, I'm sorry. Take it or leave it -"
"Leave it," Finn shot back.
"Fine." Spinning on his heel, Puck started up the ramp of the ship, Finn looking about ready to charge up behind him.
Artie and Quinn exchanged glances, the former heading up the ramp behind Captain Puckerman, while the latter stepped in front of the angry giant of a man.
"Finn, let it go. It was two years ago. You forgave Lauren and she moved on. Now you move on and let Puck do the same."
Huffing, Finn stared at the hangar bay ceiling, probably thinking. Quinn was, of course, right and Finn knew that but it was hard to let go because he had trusted Puck. Quinn and Puck were two of the few people Finn trusted in the collected worlds and one had betrayed that trust. Further, his friend had hurt him a lot.
"I'm leaving for awhile," Quinn continued. "Maghdi."
Mouth flopping open, Finn looked at her like he didn't believe it. "Santana's there."
"Which is why I'm going there."
Clearly Finn didn't understand but Finn didn't know the whole story. No one did. "Take care of yourself," he said, almost affectionately.
Turning, Quinn walked up the ramp, calling out over her should, "I always do."
The trip to Maghdi was going to take five days. Quinn was restless, and Princess Rachel was apprehensive.
"How do we know we can trust this Santana person?" she asked the pacing Quinn.
"We can't trust her but she hates Sue. She wouldn't do anything that would be helpful to Sue." Stopping her short back and forth trek, Quinn leaned against a wall. "Don't worry, princess."
Sticking her nose up in the air, Rachel seemed to accept Quinn's words. "I have every reason to be worried but I suppose I must trust your judgment." Under her breath, she added, "I do not know what else I can do," then left the cockpit, small feet making no noise as she hurried back to her handmaidens.
As soon as she was gone, Puck faced Quinn, doubt on his face. "Worked for Santana a couple of times. She's lethal. Kinda scared a' her to be honest. Q, you really, really sure about this?"
There was the slightest hint of a flicker behind Quinn's eyes but Puck didn't see it. Artie, however, did. "I'm sure," she said, placing her hands behind the small of her back, and standing erect.
"K," Puck grunted, also exiting.
Silence reigned in the cockpit after he left, Artie sitting at the helm staring out the viewport, Quinn still standing there.
"Quinn-" Artie started to say.
"No," interrupted Quinn. "Don't…do that."
Confused, Artie turned his chair toward her. "Do what?"
But she didn't answer him, opting to leave instead.
Heavily sighing, Artie stroked his hands over the ship's console. "It's you and me tonight, baby."
"Hey, Abrams, stop sexually harassing my ship," came Puck's voice, as he reentered the cockpit. "And seriously, do something about that crush you got on Q before you literally explode."
Once the captain was gone again, Artie bent at the waist, dipping until his forehead touched the console. a groan exiting his lips.
After that, most of the inhabitants of the Golden Egg kept to themselves. Puck tinkered on his ship, and checking on the princess and her handmaidens, from time to time. Rachel found his visits to be amusing, and admitted to Mercedes and Tina she found the roguish smuggler to be somewhat adorable in his mannerisms.
Quinn stayed confined to her room, aware that the person so often passing by, the one whose shadow she could see under the crack of the door, was Artie. Every time he went by, he hoped that Quinn would open the door. Maybe even let him in. But she didn't.
She did sneak out from time to time, to eat, drink, refresh herself in the latrine. But somehow, she evaded the others on the ship when doing so.
Until the night before they were supposed to arrive near Maghdi. In the middle of his sleep cycle, the growling of Artie's stomach interrupted his slumber so he decided to make a trip to the galley. And he knew there were some cookies in the cooling unit. Or there had been. When he got there, Quinn was eating them.
"Hey!" he cried. "I was saving those."
One corner of her mouth curled into a half smile. "Oops."
Enjoying the somewhat playful side of her, Artie pushed his chair forward. "C'mon, share. You still have two left there."
"I need these cookies," she told him, hunching over the cookies and circling an arm in front of them protectively.
"I need them too!" he replied, moving even closer to her. "They are my only sustenance!"
"You're only sustenance, huh?" she asked, suddenly poking his gut.
"Hey, watch the flab!" he cried, ignoring that his heart had started to beat faster. She was so intoxicating, especially like this.
"You are not flabby," Quinn protested, something that sounded like a laugh tinkling out of her open mouth.
Spell bound, Artie stared at her, listening to the lovely sound. And then she was aware of everything. And then she was closing herself off again. The smile drooping to a straight line, the merriment in her eyes vanishing in an instant. She shoved the two cookies at him, then stood, about to go back to her room.
"Quinn, wait…wait. What just happened?"
Not looking at him, she stood, chest heaving. He could hear her breaths going in and out, slowly. "Something that can't happen, Artie."
A thousand memories flooded his brain, of moments, stolen glances, her guard dropping around him. It had started with that first meeting. The connection he had thought he felt wasn't one sided but she wouldn't let it go further than it just had. "Who hurt you, Quinn?" he asked quietly.
If he could see her face, had been near enough to touch her, he would have wiped away the tear sliding down her cheek. "A lot of people," she returned, just as quiet. "Please don't…"
Grinding his teeth together, Artie felt the urge to ask rise up within him. He knew she would answer him tonight, even if she didn't exactly want to. He also knew the same wouldn't be true tomorrow. But he couldn't. He couldn't ask. "I'll see you in the morning."
He heard her sigh, a relieved sigh. One that seemed to say thank you. "Enjoy the cookies."
But, try as he might, he couldn't really enjoy them.