Edward fought against the hands.
After the crash, they had been taken, the voices declaring that their parents were dead and that the two boys needed to be evacuated from the planet. Jameson had believed them, wailing his heart out. Edward hadn’t; they had grabbed him and his brother to show the people at the Spaceport they had kids, so they had to be let in.
But where were his parents?
He felt sick at the thought of his parents still lying there in that car, injured, unmoving.
It leant him strength.
Jameson was still clutching his stuffed bear, tears streaming down his podgy cheeks, both arms wrapped around the toy for comfort. Edward actually felt jealous at not having one, but he knew it was something only young children did.
He was the eldest; he had to do something.
Their ‘rescuers’ barged through the crowds. He wondered if they were dangerous, or armed, as nobody seemed to be in a hurry to stop them.
There was an almighty krakoom of an impact, and a shockwave smashed over the crowd. Dust and smoke hung above them, blotting the increasingly darker sky out. Ash rained down on them.
Jameson cried even louder.
“What was that?” he squealed, unable to help himself.
There were shouts of dismay from around them, and Edward knew something bad had happened. It must have been the asteroid hitting the Earth.
All the more reason for them to go back for their parents.
“It’s okay, Jamie,” he said, as reassuringly as the noise would let him.
Jameson whimpered, and looked to his big brother.
“That’s it,” he growled.
He remembered his dad’s stance on self-defence.
“Hit something squishy and vital,” he had said. “Something you know is going to hurt. Like their crotch, or a joint like their knee. Trust me.”
He did. Implicitly.
He lashed out at the nearest knee he could find, crunching his foot into the side of it. The man it belonged to suddenly crumpled, roaring with pain. He clutched his knee, and toppled over. The other men, three of them, instantly reached for him, forgetting the children for a split second.
Edward, now freed, grabbed Jameson.
They tried to run, but their ‘rescuers’ were quick to recover their wits.
Strong hands grabbed them again, vile curses spat at the two boys.
They both tried to struggle, but it was useless against such strength.
But then the pressure lessened. There was a cry of pain from one of the men, and a hideous snapping of bone. Edward turned to look.
His father was in amongst the four men.
They tried to grapple him, letting go of the boys. One took a huge whistling swing at his dad, but Langton was already dropping to a crouch, elbow smashing into his side. He stood straight, and brought the same elbow up into an uppercut in one smooth movement, crunching bone and smashing the man off his feet.
The next man, an ugly fug with a brutal looking face, tried to kick him, but found Langton’s boot in his crotch and ankle wrapped by expert hands. Langton snapped the ankle, spinning him onto the floor, before taking a punch from the third thug on his triceps. He jabbed his palm into the man’s nose, smashing the cartilage into his brain.
The last man pulled a bladed weapon with a tiny power core that made the knife hum. He swished it about a bit.
“We just wanted to get off the planet,” the knife-wielder complained. “The kids will make it easier for us to get through.”
Langton didn’t talk, a deadly intent on his face.
The knife thug jabbed it forward. He was a criminal, too used to being top dog, too used to not needing finesse, and being able to use brute strength and surprise.
The knife purred towards Langton’s midsection. He sidestepped, and brought his arm around the wielding hand, snapping the wrist with a quick twist of his elbow. The thug cried out, and Langton slammed the flat of his bicep into his face.
The thug stumbled back, clutching his nose.
He roared and charged, half-blinded by the pain. Langton punched him fully in the throat, dropping him to the floor, gagging for air that wouldn’t come.
Nobody seemed to pay attention.
Ophelia stared at him, as if looking at a stranger.
“Wha- how did you do that? I thought you were just an analyst?”
He wrapped his arms around Edward and Jameson, and held Ophelia as well.
They were smashed off their feet.
The ground opened up, and the family tumbled through the air, reunited at last.
Just before the inevitable, Langton felt a familiar tingle through his body.
* * *
The family re-materialised on a teleport pad, crouching.
Breathing hard, they were pulled gently off the large round pad.
“Where are we?” asked Ophelia.
“I think… we’re on a Navy warship,” answered Langton.
An officer with a Vice-Admiral’s epaulettes and stripes stopped in front of them.
“Welcome back aboard the HMS Atlantis.”