Johnny and the Princess of Alastair

Johnny tiptoed around the corner, the zap gun in his right hand. His boots made soft sounds on the red stone tiles in the corridors of the castle. He heard the guards nearby, they were doing their rounds and the idle chatter of their conversation rang down the castle's interiors. Slowly he peeked around the next corner and saw them standing before a huge double door that was emblazoned with the symbol of a fractured star. They were wearing the standard uniforms of the castle guards and both were carrying proton rifles at their sides.

Johnny figure he would be able to take them both out with his gun, but if one of them raised the alarm before he was down, he would be in serious trouble. There had to be a better way. He backtracked a few corridors until he came upon a single guard who was standing in a hallway, seemingly guarding it from nothing in particular. Johnny sneaked up behind him and used his stun inducer on the man before he had a chance to even know what was going on. Quickly Johnny took the guard's uniform and left him in his underwear in a dark corner, where he would sleep peacefully for another hour.

In his new attire he went back to the door with the fractured star. If the information he had obtained was right, the princess had to be in there. He checked the look of his uniform before he went around the corner with a broad smile.

“The king ordered me to take the princess to him.”

The guards looked quizzically at each other and then back at him.

“To the king?” asked the one on the right. “But the king is on Cerulean IV to see the slave games.”

Johnny was stunned for a moment, this wasn't going as he had hoped. He kept his smile and moved closer while he reached for the zap gun at his belt.

“Hold it,” said the other guard, “who are you? I don't think I've seen you before!”

The zap gun came out and Johnny pulled the trigger. The guard went down before he knew what had hit him and while the other was fumbling for his rifle Johnny zapped him too. He admired his work for a moment before he moved to the motionless bodies. They were both still alive and would be up again within the hour, Johnny figured. He pulled the double door open by the big handles and walked into another hallway that was decorated by rows of stone figures on both sides. At the end was another door, but Johnny decided to drag the guards into the hallway before he proceeded. When they were in the hallway he closed the double door and went for the entrance on the other side.

Johnny opened the door with a strong push and found himself in room draped with colorful wand hangings, decorations, paintings and ornaments. The air was sweet with the fragrances of herbs and fruits. In the middle of the room was a large round bed with four wooden pillars and a canopy on top and he walked closer while the door closed behind him with a thump.

The princess was laying on her belly between layers of red and blue velvet sheets and piles of plushy pillows. She was dressed in semi-opaque swirl of clothes that were held together by silver rings and braces. Her hair flowed over her back in a stream of shining gold.

When Johnny came closer she turned on her back and looked at him intently.

“And who might you be?” she asked.

Johnny let his glance glide over her body, before he rested his eyes on hers.

“I'm the rescue.”

“You?” She looked a little perplexed when she sat up and the light clothing slid down her shoulders. She squeezed her eyes slightly and stared at Johnny's dirty boots before she fixed his eyes again. “Where are the others?”

“Just me and we better hurry.”

She got on her knees and put her hands on the hips. “Are you telling me my father send one… guy. To rescue me? One guy in a uniform that's clearly to large for him and with a bedazzled expression on his face that doesn't exactly instill confidence in mankind?”

Johnny smiled broadly. “Yes,” he said, “and you forgot the gun.”

“Listen…,” she made a dismissive gesture at him.

“Johnny. Johnny Oberon.”

“Listen, Johnny,” she said with a sharp disdain in her voice, “I might have been captured and that was not a pleasant experience at all, but if you think I'm going with you, you must be out of your mind.”


“Yes, I'm the princess of Alastair, let's not forget that. I expect an army to take me back, no less. Wars have been fought between the noble houses over lesser things.”

“Princess, we really need to…”

“That's not how these things are done. I don't expect someone like you to understand that, but there are rules that…”

Johnny let her go on, but the monologue faded to a background noise. She must be the typical high born, he figured. No horse too high. She was still going on about the history of her family when Johnny heard a commotion in the hallway that let to the room. More guards and they had found their comrades. This wasn't good. Johnny searched the room with a sweeping glance to find a place to hide.

There was a half-hidden alcove where two people would fit and with a bit of luck the guards would be too much in a hurry to see it. He went up to the princess grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her from the bed in the direction of the alcove.

“What are you doing? Are you insane?” she yelled.

“We have to hide, the guards are coming.” Johnny pointed at the door and tried to drag her on, but she teared her hand away and looked at him enraged and with a face that was blushing.

“I'm not going anywhere with you rascal.” Her voice was sharp and pure anger now. “The guards will deal with you in just a moment.”

Johnny considered his options and found them to be severely lacking at this point. The guards were close already, there wasn't much time left if he wanted to make a move at all.

He approached the princess and before she could direct another wave of protest at him he used the stun inducer to knock her out. She fell into his arms and he grabbed her at the waist. Without losing any more time he dragged her to the alcove and pulled the large wand hangings in front of it.

The guards came into the room. They searched the chamber swiftly and without success.

“Princess?” one of them shouted. “Where is she?”

“This isn't good,” another said. “When the king learns about this heads will be rolling. We must find her.”

Johnny could hear them leaving as fast as they had come. So far so good, he thought. The princess was still snoozing on his lap, he could feel her belly slowly moving up and down with each breath.

They needed to get back to his ship as fast as possible. Johnny looked down at her and started to question the wisdom of his rescue plan. The stun would be effective for a while longer and this was probably as cooperative as she would get anyway. He lifted her over his left shoulder and kept his right hand on the zap gun in its holster.

The hallway was silent and the unconscious guards he had left behind were still laying where he had left them. Apparently their colleagues had little regard for them right now. With his capture tightly hanging on his shoulder Johnny moved down a corridor and then another until he found himself in the servants' quarters. Nobody had seen them so far and when he got into one of the service elevators with the snoozing beauty he considered himself lucky.

On the ground floor the elevator's doors opened and he was greeted by two servants loaded with gardening tools and dumbfounded faces. He zapped them unconscious before they could say a word.

Just outside the servants' entrance he found a four-wheeled utility vehicle parked and unloaded the princess into its trunk hoping that she wouldn't wake up while she was in there. If his luck was still with him, he would be able to pass one of the many gates that led into the palace without much trouble, or so he hoped.

He managed to get through the nearest gate without trouble, no alarm had been raised apparently, and soon he drove the vehicle besides his small ship, the Isys.

Johnny was checking the star map and the sensors to make sure nobody was following them. It seemed like they had escaped without anyone noticing. He plotted the course back to Alastair and let the board computer take over the flight.

On the bunk bed in the lower deck she was coming out of her artificially induced sleep. Her eyes opened slowly and she looked at Johnny with a fierce bewilderment.

“What… where are we?” She was apparently still dizzy, but her attitude was blooming already.

“On my ship, back to your home world.” He smiled at her. “I rescued you!”

She got up from the bunk bed, but her knees were still weak. She almost fell and Johnny caught her in his arms. She leaned her head against his chest and he could smell a sweet mix of fragrances in her hair.

“It's alright. You are safe.”

She looked up at him with large eyes and for the first time he saw a tenderness in them that hadn't been there before. He pulled her up and kissed her softly. She pressed her lips on his and for a moment they were equals, lovers, friends.

Then she pushed away and slapped him hard. He looked firmly into her eyes. She was blushing beautifully and looked down embarrassed. He smiled before he turned around to go back to the ship's forward command room. After a moment she came running after him.

“I'm sorry,” she said bashfully. “I'm a princess and you are…”

He rubbed his cheek. “I'm Johnny Oberon.”

The Isys landed on Alastair hours later. He brought her to the palace and her father, the king of Alastair, embraced her with tears in his eyes. Johnny was brought to a guest room where he was supposed to wait and wash himself before the king would see him again.

The reward, a set of six tourmaline crystals, was given to him in a ceremony in the throne room shortly thereafter. The king expressed his gratitude before the conglomeration of court attendants. The princess was sitting beside the throne and dared not to look at him. Johnny bowed ungracefully, said his thanks and took the crystals. He was not one for preposterous words and the etiquette at court was alien to him.

He went back to the guest room to pick up his zap gun and the rest of his clothes. He was about to leave when the princess appeared in the door and ran up to him to hug him fiercely.

“Maybe we can do that again. Sometime,” she said softly.

Johnny wanted to kiss her again, but she just put a finger on his lips and blinked her eyes. Then she left Johnny without another word. He grinned fondly.

Back in his ship Johnny set course to Cerulean IV. There was a precarious situation in the planet's capital and he had heard that the ruling council was paying gratuitously for a solution.

Fiction | Short Stories

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