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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
The Metro opens its doors, Kaylee sees what she's dreamed of, and the first rock concert in two hundred years goes under way with an updated classic.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1259 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Hey all. Sorry this took so long for me to write. Been starting my new job and all. But after seeing Leiasky's brilliant, and yet depressing turn in her series, figured a little lighthearted humor and rock is what was needed. I got one more big section to write, and then the rest of the story should follow fairly quickly. This section is only pages 75-85 of a story that's about 150 pages long and still not done. BTW, for those living under a rock, the song is an updated version of "American Idiot" by Green Day. Enjoy.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Metropolitan Opera House was one of the oldest buildings in Capital City. One of the oldest in the Core, actually. When the settlers first arrived on Osiris after the Great Migration, the building was initially set up as a temporary hostel for those who were getting tired of living on the bulk cruisers. In an attempt to keep these weary masses enlightened, the managers of the hostel asked anyone with an entertainment background to put on shows of any kind for the people. At first, this was seen as a mere distraction in the building of a new society. But as the attendance for these shows became larger as well as the cash flow, the higher ups realized the need for entertainment became just as important as the need for food, water, shelter and order for the people of the new worlds. Thus the hostel was renovated into a general theatre, which showed everything from vaudeville, burlesque, musical acts, old movies and tv shows to Chinese puppets, dance routines, symphonies and operas. Any kind of performed entertainment you could think of was done at this building at one point.
As the centuries went on, the Opera House expanded until the whole facility took up a considerable size. As more theatres and arenas of various kinds popped up, the Metropolitan (or the Metro for short) focused primarily on symphonies and operas to entice the higher social class that was becoming the predominant class of the Core. Wealthy families could buy balconies reserved in their name for their own enjoyment. This patronage, as well as a generous sum from the Alliance every year, allowed The Metro to have it’s own in house symphony, ballet troupe and roster of opera singers, as well as technicians and employees to keep the place running.
But like nearly every other remnant of the Alliance, The Metro was hit hard on Blue Tuesday. With the Alliance and the patrons of the opera house bankrupt, The Metro had to shut down to save costs. Over a thousand of their in house staff was put on stand-by, which was taken as a sign of truly bad times. In the nearly 350 year history of The Metro, they had never closed. Not even during the renovations when the building went from the simple three story hostel to the massive complex that took up a whole city block. Or when Capital City was under attack by the insurgent Browncoats, threatening to burn the Metro to the ground. No matter what, the show went on. But with the social and economic collapse of the Core, so did The Metro fall into disarray.
It had been five months since the lights went off and the doors were closed. The place was beginning to collect dust and trash. A few vandals had broken into the place a few times and did some property damage to the immaculate insides of the building. The spray painted Chinese symbols were a spit in the face of the gorgeous interior design of the building. Aside from these vandals, the only person that set foot in the hallways of the theatre was the manager and owner of the theatre, one Mr. Calvin Arnegie. The Metro was a family business, and he had been the 12th generation to run the place since it was first built. He was a thin man between his late forties and early fifties who lived in the apartment on the top floor of the complex. Every day, he would wander the hallways to scare off any vandals who had broken in or kick out the derelicts who would sometimes camp on stage, in the auditorium or even in the box office. Even if they were closed for business, it was no excuse to break routine and make the place somewhat presentable.
So it was with some surprise and alarm when he came to the lobby and saw a number of people with various instruments banging on the doors and trying to get in. He quickly rushed forward, activated a sensor in his watch that unlocked the doors and opened one of the main doors.
“Excuse me, but who are you people?”
The large man with the beard turned to him and walked over with an outstretched hand. “Name’s Jeffery Rabbitte, but call me The Dude. Everyone else does. And this here is our band. Haven’t come up with a name yet but-”
Calvin raised his hand to interrupt him. “That’s not my primary concern. What are you doing here?”
The Dude scratched the back of his head as he began to explain the situation. “Well, here’s the deal. We were playing at this bar for a few hours, and the people there were really digging our stuff. I mean, REALLY digging it. There were people on the street clamoring to get in to listen to what we’ve been playing. And the people at the bar told us we had to go because all the people there constituted a fire hazard. And this is the only place that big enough to hold all these people. So we really need to get in and set up for these folks.”
Calvin balked at what he had just heard. He took a quick glance at them and shook his head.
“I’m sorry but no. You’re going to have to find someplace else.”
Now it was The Dude’s turn to balk. “Didn’t you just hear what I said?”
“Clearly. And I am not about to let your kind come in and degrade the respectability that this institution represents.”
The Dude peered over Calvin’s shoulder and got a good look at the place. “Yeah, because graffiti, soiled newspaper and dust are so valuable to a place like this. Wouldn’t want to upset Miss Havisham up in her balcony.”
Calvin didn’t want to deal with this anymore. He was about to close the door when Keith came forward. “Mr. Arnegie. It’s me, Keith McCann. I stepped in for Mr. Sarsgaard when he had to go in for his operation.”
Calvin recognized him and shook his hand discreetly. “Yes, yes I remember you. Our conductor couldn’t stop raving about you.”
Keith grinned. “I tend to have that effect on people. Can I talk to you privately?”
Calvin looked at them again and ushered Keith indoors before locking the doors again.
“Mr. Arnegie, please. There are hundreds of people coming this way to see us play. I know that we might not look like much, but we really have something here that people are clamoring to hear. Besides, you don’t do only operas. Didn’t this place used to show everything? Even old rock concerts?”
“There hasn’t been a rock concert here in over two hundred years. We aren’t set up to cater to that kind of music. Even if we could, there’s no way we could be able to pay to operate this place for even one night.”
Keith shook his head in disappointment. “Forget about the money, Mr. Arnegie. We are clearly not doing this for cash. And your staff. I’m sure that after sitting on their ass for five and a half months, that they’d be willing to do this for free.”
Calvin scoffed at this. “Yeah, well good luck with that.”
Keith was about to continue the argument when he heard something outdoors. It sounded like a slight rumble. He stepped forward and unlocked the doors. As he opened the doors, his face slackened.
What was once an empty street was beginning to fill with tens of dozens of people and vehicles. Hovercars of various makes and models were being parked on the street. No one bothered putting their thumbprints onto the electronic meters since they were out of order. The majority of the people there were normal, working class folk in civilian clothing, while there were a few members of the formerly elite peppered through the crowd, their once fancy suits, tunics and kimonos now slightly in disarray. Any sign of hostility or barriers between the people were gone. They were all united for one single purpose.
They wanted to see a show.
Calvin went over to The Dude and starting talking to him quickly and quietly.
“How soon can you set up?”
“How many on your staff are on call?”
“About a thousand. But I wouldn’t be surprised if only a few dozen showed up.”
“Get them down here now. With them, we’d be able to go in maybe about an hour. Don’t want to keep these people waiting too long.”
“What about admission? I still need some cash flow just to cover the basics utilities. Power, water, that kind of stuff.”
The Dude looked at the crowd and did some quick calculations.
“How about the first two hundred or so are free, but 4 platinum for those on welfare and 2 for those who aren’t.”
Calvin looked at the crowd once more and shrugged. “Aw, what the Hell. I got nothing better to do.” Him and The Dude shook hands and as the band began to move their stuff into the building, he pulled out a portable link out of his pocket and called his stage manager.
“Call everyone and tell them to get down here. We’re a go.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The sun had nearly set as the car carrying the Tam’s flew over the city. While the initial take-off from the ground wasn’t totally smooth (Kaylee made a mental note to take a look at the connectors once they got back), the car was, for all intents and purposes, fully functional. They were cruising along at five thousand feet, following the skyways that showed up on the dash’s computer. Gabriel had not drunken anything yet, so he was in the driver’s seat, flying the car in a reserved manner. He merely kept his eyes ahead, not even glancing at the other passengers in the car. Simon was next to him in the front seat of the car. He too was staring ahead, although he kept an eye on his father. While he didn’t seem inebriated, he still wanted to be able to engage the auto pilot on a moments notice.
Kaylee and Regan were in the back seat of the car. Kaylee was attending to Regan, who still was very weak and breathing laboriously. She was doing her best to stay awake and not drift off. The pain that she felt earlier was slowly beginning to rise. But this didn’t deter her from trying to accomplish the simple task of seeing her daughter perform. So she merely clenched her teeth and made eye contact with her pregnant daughter-in-law who looked so worried. She didn’t like that look on her.
Kaylee blinked and furrowed her eyebrows. “Shenme?”
Regan inched her right hand towards Kaylee’s womb. “How did you settle on Brooke?”
When Kaylee realized the question, she chuckled. “Didn’t put too much thought into it, actually. When we found out it was a girl, everyone was giving us names. I initially wanted to name it River Jr. But they thought it sounded weird. I told ‘em that there were plenty girls named Jr. where I’m from, but after asking River herself, she suggested Brooke as a compromise. Said she didn’t want the baby to be in her shadow.” Kaylee looked down at her expanding belly. “I wanted a simple name, and I think they wanted the name thing to be over and done with, so we just settled on Brooke.”
Regan weakly smiled. She remembered the florid and ridiculous names of all the children Simon and River grew up with, and liked the fact that there was now a family member that had a regular name.
“I like it. Although…I always liked the name Oja.”
Kaylee frowned in confusion. “Oh, Yeah? That’s a Core name?”
Regan laughed a genuine laugh for the first time since God knows when before coughing. “Not ‘Oh, Yeah.’ Oja. It’s a Croatian name. Every past generation of my family has tried to name a daughter after that. But for some reason it’s never stuck.”
As she paused, Kaylee smiled sadly and looked at Regan once more. “Well, I can’t promise anything, but if we ever have another girl, I think we might name her that.”
Regan was about to interject and tell her not to worry about it when her face slackened. The sun had completely set and the car was surrounded in darkness. But as they approached the downtown of Capital City, a soft smile came over Regan. Kaylee was surprised as she saw the smile inch over her face. She became astonished as she saw a faint light come over her face.
“Mrs. Tam?!? Are you all right??” Kaylee was starting to panic. She had heard about people going into the light when they died, but she never thought it would be real. “Simon, I think something’s wrong.”
But as Simon turned around to see what was wrong, Regan merely shook her head. “No dear. Nothing’s wrong. Nothing’s wrong at all.” She looked past Kaylee and nodded towards the window. “Look outside, you two.”
Confused, both of them turned around and looked out their windows. While Simon’s face showed recognition and a tinge of regret, Kaylee’s face figuratively and literally lit up. “Ta Ma De!!!” she said, not caring about swearing in front of her in laws.
Ever since she was a little girl, she had heard bedtime stories about how the Core planets were the most beautiful places in the whole ‘verse. How at night, whole planets was alight. As if the stars themselves came down to visit and play. Despite Mal and Zoe’s abhorrence of the Core worlds, she always dreamed of going to one of them just to see if the stories were true. Part of her devotion to Inara was to be in the presence of someone from that world. And while she had gone to a Core world, the only bit of extravagance she saw was the junkyards of Ariel. But nothing could prepare her for the immense beauty of Capital City all lit up.
Building’s unfathomably high were breaking the cloud level. Millions of lights were on display, showing off the skyline that Capital City was famous for. The skyway grid that hang in the air moved like a river with the various lights of the hovercrafts and shuttles that made it up. Millions of electronic billboards and vidscreens displayed all the colors in the visual spectrum to create a 100 mile bit of abstract art. Hundreds, if not thousands of year of human history and endeavors had created this. The fact that they were flying across this made her giddy. The lights almost blinded her, but she could care less. “It’s all so beautiful.”
“Hard to believe that it’s all bankrupt.” Simon broke the rapture Kaylee was in as he looked down at the place he once worked in and considered home. “Hard to believe that after all that The Alliance has done to preserve this, that they lost their hold on it. That now this place has no more economy or power than the most far flung moon on the Outer Rim.”
Kaylee thought about it and just shrugged. She looked at Regan, leaned in and whispered, “Still looks pretty to me.”
Determined to change the sudden grimness of the atmosphere in the car, Gabriel hit a button and turned on the radio to the local news station, hoping to hear about anything else than what was going on.
A strong, authorial voice came in over the speakers. “-orting live from the downtown area, here is Orson Bowie with this latest report.”
An energetic voice then came in over what sounded like a large crowd inside a building that was growing restless. “Thank’s Tom. I’m here live from the Metropolitan Opera House where an amazing development has happened. This theatre, one of the historical jewels of the verse, had been closed due to Blue Tuesday. But just hours ago, the doors were opened for hundreds, if not thousands of people who are here for an impromptu concert that started earlier today. They are here tonight to listen to a band play some kind of music that, up until Blue Tuesday, had been on the blacklist of banned arts for the last two hundred years. Here with me now, is this band’s manager, a Mr. Jeffery Rabbitte. Good evening, Mr. Rabbitte.”
As everyone in the car perked up and paid closer attention to the news report, a relaxed and drawling voice came over the radio. “Mr. Rabbitte is my father’s name. I’m The Dude. That’s what you call me. They guy’s named me that, so that’s who I am. Either that, or The Duder, His Dudeness, uhhh…El Duderino, y’know if you’re not into the whole berevity thing.”
Kaylee and Regan burst into laughter as the reporter tried to comprehend this. After a few seconds of dead air, he continued. “Could you please tell us what has lead to this.”
If they could see The Dude, they would have seen The Dude shrug and say nonchalantly. “Not really much to tell. Been trying to put together a band to bring back rock music, now that’s it’s no longer illegal. Finally found this gal last night that really rocked The State by herself. Asked her to be in our band, she said yes, we jammed this morning for our breakfast, and we’ve been jamming non-stop for the last seven hours or so. More people kept coming in off the streets to listen to them, and we had to move here to accommodate all these people. And as soon as we’re all set up, we’re gonna rock the house.”
The reporter paused and then responded rather condescendingly, “Yes, I see. Tell me, what is this ‘rock’ you speak of? Is your band scientifically grounded in geology. Do asteroids play a part in this?”
Now it was the Dude’s turn to pause in uncertainty. “Nooooooo” replying to the question as if he were addressing someone slow and stupid “…this has nothing to do with actual rocks. This is an art form that hundreds of years ago was the battle cry and saving grace of our ancestors. It gave people a voice to sing about whatever that was pissing them off. And as you can hear, it’s coming back.”
“Yes, but what exactly is this kind of music?”
“Lemme put it to ya this way. If you think you’ve heard it all, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Oh, sorry. I gotta go. I think we’re gonna start real quick. Ticket’s are 4 platinum for those on welfare, and 2 for those who aren’t.”
There was another pause before the reporter chimed in. “Well, there you have it. This is Orson Bowie, CBC News, The Metropolitan Opera House downtown in Capital City.” There was another lengthy pause as everyone listening was waiting to hear the main newscaster’s voice. Very faintly, they could hear Orson Bowie going “What?...You’re kidding…Well find someone…there’s no one else?...Ta Ma De.” He then returned to his reporter voice, but it was obvious that he was miffed that he had to stay there longer. “Uhhh, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been told that since, amazingly enough, there are no more stories to report, we will be broadcasting this concert live over the airwaves and over the Cortext. This is Orson Bowie, reporting live from the Metropolitan Opera House.” There was another silence before the follwing was said even louder than before. “Well you hold the damn mike. I’m gonna see if the bar’s open.”
As the women giggled at this, Gabriel reach up to turn the radio off. Very quickly, Simon’s hand shot out and clenched it. He gave his father a dirty look. Gabriel merely pulled his hand away before placing it back on the steering wheel before looking forward again and driving onward.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Calvin Arnegie pressed a finger to the comlink imbedded in his ear. “Mr. Goldstein, do you copy?”
A rough voice replied, “Goldstein here, over.”
“Do a final systems check. These people are here for a show and it has to go on now.” He said this while navigating through the now packed lobby as he began making his way backstage to the dressing room where the band was waiting.
As he walked, various voices came over the comlink to confirm the proceedings.
“Electrics, are we a go?”
“We’re running on a few generators, but we’re also hooked up to the main grid. We are a go.”
“Most of the lights are fine. We have a few burn outs, though. Could you wait ten minutes for us to change the bulbs?”
“That is a negative. We need to start right away. Get down from there now, lights. Sound?”
“Had to drag out some of the old programs, but we are a go.”
“Yeah, we got a backed up toilet on the third floor and some minor damage here on the floor, but we can get that all fixed up in half an hour.”
“Do we have running water?”
“Just got it hooked up ten minutes ago. Other than the toilet and the minor damage, we are a go.”
“We got some alcohol from some places nearby, but I think we’ll need more. There’s this reporter guy here whose already drunk a whole case of saki.”
“Kick him out. We don’t need lush’s stinking up the joint.”
“Other than that, we are a go.”
“Stage, are the amps and instruments in place?”
“Just got them on and powered up. We are a go.”
“Mr. Arnegie, we are good to go.”
“Thank you, Mr. Goldstein. Over and out.”
Calvin said this as he opened the door to the backstage area. Unlike the lobby and the hallways, the backstage area was strangely quiet, aside from the few stagehands that were going around, making sure everything was ready. He was surprised at how many were here, doing this impromptu concert, and for free no less. He couldn’t help but feel a little excited himself. He approached the dressing room and opened the door.
All the members of the band were there. Johnny was leaning back on a chair, inhaling one more cigarette before they went out. Keith was downing a beer mixed with an energy drink to get him pumped up. After finishing the drink, he began to jump up and down to get his heart racing. George was pacing around slightly nervous and Cliff was warming up on a keyboard that was off to the side of the room. Only River was still. She merely laid back in her chair, eyes closed and smile on face as she ran her fingertips over the guitar strings.
“Gentlemen, lady. I’ve just gotten confirmation from my stage manager. We are a go.”
They all got up and began making their way to the stage. As they stepped out of the room, they could hear the chatter of the main auditorium all the way out there. As George closed the door behind him, The Dude came running up to them out of breath.
“Dude, where were you?” asked Johnny.
“I was being interviewed by some reporter. Apparantly, we’re live.”
“What?” Keith asked in shock.
“Yeah, the CBC is broadcasting this live over the radio, and I think they got some cameras from when they used to broadcast old shows here over the Cortex out of storage. We’re going out over the ‘verse.”
“Sweet merciful Buddha,” George replied. After a beat, he replied enthusiastically, “That is so cool. Guess you can’t stop it.”
“Stop what?” The Dude asked.
“The signal. It’s this thing this one hacker I used to know kept saying over and over. You can’t stop the signal.”
As soon as he said that, River’s eyes lit up. “Signal. That’s what we should call ourselves. That should be the name of our band.”
The Dude registered this and thought about it for a few seconds. “Yeah…” He nodded his head in agreeance. “Yeah, we should call ourselves that. It’s simple, it’s catchy, it’s out there, and it tells the audience who we are. What do you guys think?”
They each nodded and sounded off in approval. “Then it’s settled.” The Dude stood up and held his hand over the group. “I officially dub thee Signal. Now go out there and give ‘em Hell. River, you have my permission to break some legs if we need the luck.”
River smiled as they headed towards the stage. When they reached the wings of the main stage, The Dude went off to the side and told some stage hands to get him a mike to introduce the band. Signal, on the other hand, huddled together before they got ready to go on stage. River couldn’t help but feel accepted as Johnny and Keith pulled her in so close that all their heads were together. “This is something we normally did in other bands.” Keith said to her quickly before addressing the rest of the band. “Repeat after me.” He then began to sing, “Come on my back for a piggy-back ride.” The rest of them joined in with the second “Come on my back for a piggy-back ride.” And they all reached a crescendo with the third “Come on my back FOR A PIGGY-BACK RIDE.” They then broke off and got ready to walk onto the stage. Johnny said to them quickly “We start off with some Green Day to get them on their toes. After that, we do the classic classics. The Stones, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Who, Zeppelin. And if you don’t know them completely, just make it up as you go along.”
As the house lights dimmed, the crowd went from a chatter to a roar as they cheered for what was about to happen. Over the freshly activated loudspeaker, The Dude’s voice rang out over the excited audience.
“Coming to you live from the Metropolitain Opera House here in downtown Capital City of Osiris, here is a band that has been in the making for two hundred years. From all over the ‘verse, these gifted souls are here tonight to blow your mind, and rock your world. The hardest working band in Osiris, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER….FOR SIG-NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!!!”
The place practically exploded in volume as River, Johnny, Keith, Cliff and George walked out onto the stage and looked out into the crowd. It was a good thing the stage lights were nearly blinding them. Had they seen that the place was literally crowded to the rafters with people desperate to hear what they had to play and sing, a few of them would have shat bricks. As they took their positions on stage, they braced themselves for what they were about to do.
As River plugged the amp into her guitar, she took a deep breath as she let in the hundreds, if not thousands of souls that were in that building into her own. She felt the intense energy that was coming from them all and smiled. She had heard thousands of voices in her head before, but this time they were not in pain. They were in anticipation of something to believe in. Of something that River had found both four years ago and 24 hours ago. It was only fair to give it back to people who needed it the most.
She looked behind her, getting the guys’ attention. She looked over to Johnny, raised her eyebrows and mouthed ‘base’ as she pointed at him. And as he switched over to a base setting, she interrupted the roaring with a melody line that shot through the air like a missile. The rest of the band joined in at the same level of intensity and were off like a shot. Johnny doubled the melody line River was playing at a fevered pitch and joined in with her as they sang the first few lyrics of the night.
“Don't want to be an Alliance idiot,” they snarled into the mikes as they heard the beating of George’s drums before playing the familiar phrase again and again in between the lyrics. “Don't want a ‘verse under the new media….And can you hear the sound of hysteria?...The subliminal mindfuck Allaince-a.” Johnny screamed an “All right” as River played the tune on her guitar. They roared into the chorus in unison.
“Welcome to a new kind of tension…All across the alien nation, everything isn't meant to be okay…See the Cortex dreams of tomorrow, were not the ones who're meant to follow,
well that's enough to argue.”
They sang the last line of the chorus as a rhetorical question, but the audience took it as a call to arms. The cheering became louder (if that was at all possible) as they went into the second verse, updating the lyrics to make them more relevant.
“Well maybe I'm the Browncoat Alliance-a…I'm not a part of a purple agenda...Now everybody do the propaganda…And sing along in the age of paranoia.”
As they repeated the chorus, they began to move around. Rather than be confined to their mike stands, they added some showmanship into the playing. They began to jump up into the amps and then jump off. Of course, this was nothing compared to when during the guitar solo, River slid onto her knees and began ripping into the strings of her guitar. Her right hand became a blur and she channeled the energy she was getting from the audience into her playing, which went back out and into the people in the crowd. It was a circuit that got more powerful with every note she played.
She quickly got up to her feet as she went back to the mike and sang the first verse and the chorus over again with Johnny. As they winded down the song and then abruptly ended, they looked out to the audience again. As they saw the sea of upturned faces jumping up and down to their will, they realized that they were truly on the threshold of something monumental. They looked around, to George, Cliff, Keith and then to each other. River could see the smallest hint of a smile in Johnny as he looked at his destiny.
“Well, there’s no stopping now,” she thought as they began their next song and continued what they came there to do.
Saturday, May 13, 2006 12:23 PM
Saturday, May 13, 2006 2:27 PM
Sunday, May 14, 2006 5:16 PM
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 12:11 PM
Sunday, July 16, 2006 12:57 AM
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