Monday, November 26, 2007

Shepherd Book entered Serenity’s cockpit, noting the usual chaotic array of dangling wires, switches, plugs, dust and… toys - usual for Serenity, of course. There was a loud snoring from the pilot’s seat. Book coughed discreetly.
“Gah! Wha-? Uhh? Of course the king of the dinosaurs is a woman – the fierce and mighty Alleyneasarus – hnnh?”
The Shepherd coughed again. “Actually it’s me.”
Wash’s red face cooled some. “Sheesh, I thought – never mind. Hey wasn’t I, um…?”
The Shepherd nodded. “Interesting that while the rest of the crew are out playing, you choose this time for… relaxation. Not over fond of the soil, are you son?”
Wash looked embarrassed. “Well, y’know…” his fingers found random controls. “Someone has to stay behind and… do the… thing. The important - switch flicking – thing.”

The Shepherd stared into the viewer for himself. “Does my asking make you uncomfortable? I don’t mean to pry.”
And yet there is the prying – thought Wash. Out loud he heard himself say, “No, no – it’s fine. We all got a past – eh Preach’? But let’s just say I like to be useful – and I’m most useful here – The others? Well, Zoe and Mal – heroes of the Valley … I’m more Lily of the valley… or hero of the really should get round to cleaning Serenity’s windows and ooh look, dashboard lights, pretty.” He grinned depreciatively.
Book was still absorbed by the viewer. “Hmm. A chip on the shoulder doesn’t have to be a cross to bare, son.”
Wash raised his hands in mock surrender. “Yeah – but it’s but part of my shtick. Yknow?”
“A shtick – yes. But why beat yourself with it?”
Wash was taken aback: “Wow -You’re really makin’ with the deep today Shepherd. Or is that usual? – ‘And Lo, it is written that when a crew numbering seven be departed from thy sight – a Shepherd shall interrogate those left behind – and possibly throw in a little philosophication. No extra charge’.”
Looking up from the viewer now, Book sighed and turned to go.
Wash look apologetic and said quickly, “Oh hey – Did I mention facetious as well as chippy? That’s me. Y’don’t have to go…”
“I think Serenity’s windows need a little cleaning. I’m going to fetch a bucket.”


Moments of rescue are often happy accidents – Simon had wondered why medical research voiced the truth of this so infrequently… there had, after all, been many classic examples of serendipity and – and – and did it really have to be Jayne Cobb choking to death right now in the middle of a marquee filled with rich patrons all looking the other way? He looked at Kaylee for an instant – she was looking at the choking gluttonous figure before them.

Jayne for his part did not notice either of them, preoccupied as he was with dyin’ - and cursin the plates of food he’d already gulped down - and wonderin’ on how his un-heroic demise might be dressed up some for his mother. If he came back ghostsome he could make sure that Mal… and then even his thoughts were just choked off…
He didn’t even notice the strong slim arms that encircled him – but he sure as hell felt the sudden forceful pressure on his gut.
An animal sound escaped him – and so, and with bullet like rapidity – did a single dry pea.

Simon Tam stepped back from the gasping mercenary. Watched him carefully as he struggled upright. For a moment – even after turning to face him, Simon could see that Jayne was struggling to focus. A moment like that – in front of Jayne Cobb, was a dangerous thing. It was down to Kaylee to bring him to his senses. “Thank the Doc’ then you hwang chian – hell, he just saved your life is all! ”
Jayne tilted his head. “Thanks,” he acknowledged gruffly. “That a little something they teach you at – Doc’ School?”
Simon nodded, still watching carefully as Jayne’s face returned to a normal colour and his breathing eased. “Yes, the Heimlich manoeuvre.”
Jayne looked unconvinced, “The what now?” -
But Simon was grinning. “Heimlich. Actually it’s a funny story-”
“Doubt that. Now where’s the ruttin’ pea?”
Jayne was suddenly on his hands and knees – sniffing and squinting suspiciously.
“You – you want the pea?” Nonplussed, Simon resorted to asking the obvious.
“Gorram right,” muttered Jayne distractedly. “That little fella came nearer to ending my sweet self than – well no/one else has come close…” his eyes flashed for a moment – “Oh, ‘cept your sister as I recall – gonna wear that pea around my neck.” The good doctor was struggling. “For – for luck? I see – a reminder.”
Jayne looked at the Tam boy - how could someone with them clever doctoring brains be so… retarded? He spoke clearly and distinctly.
“Hell no, that’s just one Fong luh evil pea – I’m gonna keep it outta harms way!”
Simon for his part looked as though he was caught in a cage with a Lion - and the zookeeper had just gone for lunch. His voice was nervy. “You’re - you’re joking right?” He looked around at the customers who were busy trying not to be caught up in the confusion. Gestured helplessly at Kaylee. “He’s joking now…?”

If the marquee knew confusion – the stables were experiencing something more in the way of sheer pandemonium.

It was only minutes ago that the place had seemed peaceful and calm – little noise but the animals’ heavy breathing, some munching of oats, a few stamps. Malcolm Reynolds had been surprised at how easy it was to enter the private paddock and the stables attached. Indeed, seemed to be a point of honour to inspect the beats. A loose queue of patrons drifted in and out. Scanners most like – kept the Sergeants in the know bout the stallions welfare – and probably served as monitors for doping and the like. Sport could be a criminal business, Mal was well aware – even as he silently knocked out the stable-boy from gate nine and slipped into the stall. Scanners, definitely scanners. Scanners weren’t cameras – and Badger had been plain on the lack of cameras.

Grinning at the fine walnut coloured beast – and feeling like a ranch hand for the time in… too long – Mal put a hand to the bridle.
In a flash the horse had leapt forward, sending the Captain reeling into a bundle of hay – and was out the unlocked door....

next blog: the conclusion concluded!



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