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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
The crew sets out to get Niska. Inara cannot reach Serenity and Kaylee takes the news especially hard. Simon/Kaylee. Mal/Inara. 39th story in a series.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1805 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“You’ll be taking the Khonsu,” Wren Sanchez said as he greeted Mal, Zoe and Jayne at the lowered ramp of his modified cargo vessel. The tall, lanky man was dressed similar to Mal, leaving no question that he was once a Browncoat. “Leaving, of course, Serenity in its place as – collateral.”
“Whoa, wait a minute –“
Mal held up a silencing hand and Jayne closed his mouth with a scowl.
Sanchez shrugged. “You’re on a foolish mission here, Mal. You’re lucky I’m even willing to give ‘er to ya.”
Mal opened his mouth but Sanchez raised his hand. “Got it on good authority Niska’s startin’ to take some chances what with all the trouble in the Core lately. Branchin’ out his operations, greedy bastard that he is.”
“Stupid fools finally did somethin’ with the Miranda info we got.” Jayne scowled, clearly annoyed it had taken someone in government so long to do something about that rather important piece of information.
“Eh, forgot you were in the middle of that little mess.” Sanchez stared at his friend with something akin to awe. “Got a knack for trouble, Mal.”
“Pickin’ up strays is trouble.” Jayne offered, earning him a glare from Zoe.
“Thankfully, you’re the only one who shares that opinion, Jayne.” Zoe added with a raised eyebrow.
Jayne thought for a moment before what she’d said clicked in his head. “I ain’t no stray!”
Zoe patted Jayne’s shoulder like a mother placating a child. “Of course not, Jayne.”
Mal rolled his eyes at Jayne and promised Sanchez, “We’ll get the cargo and transport it to the drop point – after our business with Niska is done.”
Sanchez shot Mal a skeptical look. “Yeah, I won’t hold my breath.” They walked into the cargo ship, a modified Firefly transport that had been outfitted to carry considerably more cargo than even Serenity. “Your pilot can –“
“She can fly anything, don’t worry.”
“More worried ‘bout my ship comin’ back at all. You’re nuts Mal. Certifiably.” Sanchez crossed his arms and waited for his old friend to deny his words.
“No, we left the crazy one on Serenity.” Jayne added with a smirk.
Sanchez raised an eyebrow, to which Mal simply responded. “Jayne has issues with my pilot.”
Sanchez continued with information vital about the Khonsu. “Modified as she is, she’ll go faster than your boat. Get you out of a tight spot more than that old bucket will.” He slowed and shot Mal a pointed look. “Not that you will get my ship shot at.”
“Of course not. And Serenity maneuvers –“ Mal struggled for words. “Like –“
“Pilot’s good, Sir. Don’t matter how well the ship can bank.”
Sanchez nodded. “Damn right, Zoe.” He held her eyes for a moment, a silent understanding and respect for her dead husband passing between them.
“Ship’s got weapons too,” Jayne interrupted the moment, as he walked down the ramp and glanced up at the ship.
“Yup, ‘nother change.” Sanchez smiled proudly. “Runnin’ as much cargo as we do, we’re bound to run into pirates wantin’ to steal it.”
“Nice set-up.” Mal nodded appreciatively as they all left the ship and glanced up at the port and stern-side guns attached to the hull.
“Two short range cannons. One takes electromagnetic warheads only. Other uses conventional. We got jammer and explosive magazines can be loaded into the conventional.”
“Nice,” Jayne admired the hardware with a jealous gleam in his eye and clasped his hands together excitedly. “I’ll try not use ‘em all up.”
“You’d better not. Those don’t come cheap!”
“Jayne ain’t firing nothin’.” Mal said sharply, loud enough to penetrate even Jayne’s thick head.
“Niska’ll be there as expected.” Sanchez said suddenly, glancing at Mal.
“This intel is reliable, yes?” Zoe asked.
“As reliable as anything regarding that man can be.” Sanchez turned to Mal, fidgeting nervously. “You’d better kill him. He finds out me and mine gave you our cargo run, ain’t no where we’ll be safe.”
“Oh, he won’t make it out alive.” Jayne’s voice was confident and cold.
“You owe me big for this,” Sanchez repeated.
“Profits from the delivery, which, might I remind you that you don’t have to run, should more than cover the ship rental fee.”
Sanchez’ arms dropped to his sides. “Not if you damage her in the process.”
Mal shot his old friend a lopsided grin and shrugged. “Trust me.”
Sanchez narrowed his eyes. "We'll see you in two days."
Mal nodded and made their way back to the mule, Sanchez watching with an unnatural flicker to his eyes. As they drove away, the former Browncoat sighed heavily. “You owe me big, Badger,” he said when he was sure they were out of earshot. “Big. And I aim to make you pay when this job is done.”
River sat in the cockpit, her legs curled beneath her, groaning as Simon’s anger at not being permitted to accompany the others washed through her, necessitating the need for her to sit down. She closed her eyes and tried to re-build the blocks around her mind but it was near impossible and she sighed heavily when a wave came in, distracting her from her task.
She’d been ignoring them for days, but Mal wasn’t here now, and she needed to take this one call. Just this one.
“River!” Inara exclaimed as the screen woke to reveal the waif-like girl’s face. “I’m glad I finally reached you. I’ve been trying for days.”
River nodded, the expression on Inara’s face and the relief in her voice immediately flooding through River’s body, nearly replacing her brother’s anger. “Communications blackout. Captain’s orders. Can’t have Niska’s men intercepting Waves.“
“Oh, I see. Is Mal there? Simon?”
She lied smoothly. “They went to check on a lead.”
Inara sighed, disappointment clearly evident on her face.
She knew why Inara had been trying to reach them. But, it wasn’t the time. Not yet. It would interfere with the plan. “But I’ll tell them you called.”
“Thank you. Please ask them to contact me as soon as possible.”
The conversation was quick as Inara inquired after everyone and she gave River an update on Kaylee’s progress. But when Inara’s beautiful face vanished from the Cortex screen, River released a huge sigh and closed her eyes. “Can’t lose focus now. Must go on with the plan.”
River sank into her chair at once hoping it would swallow her whole and wondering when this nightmare would finally end.
Time on Paquin, time with the healers and doctors and counselors had done wonders for Kaylee Tam. To look at her now, would confuse anyone who had seen her not even two weeks ago. Kaylee’s attitude had changed dramatically, her personality closer to what would be considered normal. She was nowhere near as withdrawn or pale. Color had returned to her cheeks and her shoulders were no longer slumped with despair. The vacant look in her eyes had been replaced by a fierce determination. A fervent fire burned in the green pools when she cradled her belly, as well as a desperate hope that she would see her husband again.
After her latest session with Counselor Wan Ling, Kaylee returned to her room and curled herself onto the settee, a well-worn blanket wrapped around her shoulders – a wedding gift from her parents.
Scattered around her room were things Simon had packed for Kaylee’s stay. One precious item, the glass sphere Inara and Mal had given them for their wedding. Hundreds of pictures rotated within it and Kaylee didn’t look up from the sphere as Inara walked into the room and stood patiently by her side.
“I miss him, ‘Nara.” Kaylee glanced toward Inara after a long minute, having frozen the mechanism on one specific image of her and Simon. She traced his face with the pad of her finger, tears forming in her eyes.
“I know.” Inara had remained stoically strong during this whole ordeal, breaking down only in the privacy of her own room or in speaking with her own counselor. “I miss Mal terribly.”
Kaylee looked up at Inara, nodding. “An they went off to find the man who did this to us. Simon’ll die before I get the chance to tell him –“
Inara knelt beside Kaylee as well as she could. In hindsight, it was probably not the best idea as getting up would be much more difficult than kneeling down. “Simon knows you love him.”
But Kaylee shook her head, tears threatening to spill out of the big green pools, and cursed the effect her pregnancy had on her hormones. She’d cried enough in the last few weeks to last two lifetimes. “I was so – “ She sighed deeply. “I don’t even remember much of the trip here. It passed in such a blur. I know Simon was with me. Every day, an I just pushed him away.”
“I pushed him away too, and Mal.” Inara reached up and settled a tendril of hair behind Kaylee’s ear. “I secluded us as much as possible, thinking that it was best.” Inara took a deep, shaky breath before continuing. “I didn’t realize until it was almost too late that I’d been wrong.”
“Oh ‘Nara, weren’t your fault. You did what you thought was best for us. Since it happened to you before.” Kaylee had been shocked when Inara confided in her that she had been violated in the past. But it had helped Kaylee to learn that if Inara survived it, and could move on, than she could as well. She was strong enough to beat this. She had a husband who loved her and a baby growing inside her that would need all of the love and support her heart could give. And she was determined to give her all in the raising of this baby.
Inara swallowed nervously. She needed to tell Kaylee everything, but fear stayed her tongue. It wasn’t time. Not yet. “I thought I did, Kaylee. But I was wrong.” She lowered her head. “It’s not the first time.”
Kaylee squeezed Inara’s hand and smiled gently. “Thank you for helping me with everything. Couldn’t a done it without you.”
Inara’s bottom lip trembled and her eyes filled with tears. “Yes, you could have.” She cupped Kaylee’s cheek in a trembling hand. “You’re far stronger than I.”
Kaylee wanted to disagree, but she didn’t want to argue with her friend. She glanced out the window and sighed, her body aching to feel Simon’s arms around her, holding her, telling her everything will be okay, telling her that he loved her. If she closed her eyes, she could almost feel the whisper of his breath on her neck, the pressure of his lips on her skin, the gentle hands as they held her so tenderly in his arms.
Inara picked up on Kaylee’s melancholy feelings and squeezed her hand. “They’ll be back in communication range in no time, mei mei. You just have faith”
Kaylee sniffled, discouraged that they hadn’t heard from Serenity. “Little good that did for Shepherd Book.”
Inara embraced Kaylee wordlessly, afraid the unending stress would be too much for the girl to take. She closed her eyes and silently prayed for the crew’s safety.
“So we’re bypassing Badger here, right?” Simon leaned forward and placed his elbows on the table, his eyes clearer than they had been in days. “We shouldn’t be trusting him, in any case. Makes me –“
“That’s the plan.” Mal said, glancing around the table, eyes holding Zoe’s for a long, long moment. “We’ll be leavin’ Serenity with Sanchez at the rendezvous point.”
Simon was antsy. They all were. “And how long will it take us to get there?”
“Few days. They had some business to finish before we could pick up the ship.”
Simon nodded and stood. He had a few preparations to make before they arrived anyway.
After Simon had left, River trailing after him silently, Jayne leaned forward, concern furrowing his brow.
“Can he do this?”
“Kill a man?” Mal glanced back toward the hallway and then at Zoe. “I wouldn’t put it past Simon to do anything he sets his mind to.”
“He’s mad. Steamin’, but when it comes right down to it, I dunno if he can do it. He’s a fine doctor but he ain’t no killer.”
“He’ll do what he has to do and nothing more.” Mal said with a certainty he was shocked to feel.
“He took out a lotta frustration on my punchin’ bag one night. Been a lot calmer ever since,” Jayne offered. “Probably shoulda stopped ‘em. Usin’ up all his energy on that bag when he needs ta be savin’ it for Niska’s face.”
Zoe remained silent. She’d seen Simon’s bruised knuckles so had assumed something similar had taken place. “I have no doubt he will have all of the energy he needs when the time comes.”
“He’s the doctor. There’s plenty of drugs he can give himself if –“
“Oh yeah, that’s all we need, doctor doped up on his own meds!” Jayne exclaimed. He knew Simon had been taking something to help him sleep. Everyone did. He just hoped the young doctor hadn’t been taking anything else that might jeopardize the mission.
“We gotta trust him. He knows –“
“Ain't fond a trustin’ that boy,” Jayne sneered.
“Once upon a time, we all felt the same about you,” Mal shot back with a snap to his voice that indicated an end to this particular subject.
Zoe ignored Jayne and turned a hard gaze to Mal. “Trap?”
“Oh yeah.” Mal nodded with an annoyed frown. “Gave up his boat without too much of a fight. Even for the promise of a rich payoff, ain’t like ‘em.”
Jayne’s eyes narrowed. “Trap? Fay-fay duh pee-yen, don’t you got any friends capable of not backstabbin’ us?!”
“Leastways we know it’s comin’”
“Knowin’ is half the battle, Sir.”
“And what’s we gonna do about it?” Jayne asked, annoyed that something could now get in the way of his plans to deal out swift death to lots of well-deserving people.
“Nothing. Plan’s good.”
“’Cept for the welcome committee that’ll be waitin’ for us when we land.” The annoyance in Jayne’s voice was clear.
“That’s why you, Simon and River will watch our backs and not get in the way when they come for us.”
“Then you can mount a big damn rescue when we get caught,” Zoe added with a small smirk.
“Oh fun.” Jayne glanced toward the passenger dorm hallway. “Rescue you with a crazy girl and a doctor who barely knows which end of a gun to hold.”
“Crazy girl who took out a room full of Reavers single handedly, Jayne.” Zoe reminded him with a scowl. His less than enthusiastic attitude was beginning to grate on her already frayed nerves.
Jayne’s mood brightened considerably at the thought. “Ain’t likely to forget that anytime soon.”
“River’s our ace in this very deep, dark and dangerous hole we’re diggin’ here.”
“Doc better be able to hold his own, ‘cause you get caught, we ain’t waitin’ for him.” Jayne leaned back in his chair and determinedly folded his arms across his chest.
River approached him from behind, her feet whispering soundlessly across the floor. She watched him in silence for a few minutes. Watched him carefully select certain vials, stare at them for a long moment, before sequestering them away in his vest pocket. She knew he was torn. Torn between wanting so badly to exact revenge on the man responsible for causing such heartache and pain to those he loved, and between the Oath he took when he became a doctor. It was more than mere words to him, and if he continued with his plan, he would break that Oath, something he vowed to never do.
Simon’s hand hovered over another vial, and River knew, without reading his thoughts or his feelings, that he was clearly trying to decide whether he wanted to take it.
Without a word, River approached him and slowly closed his hand around the vial. She simply nodded when he glanced down at her, a questioning look in his eyes, accepting her confirmation that he should bring it. As silently as she’d entered the room, she left it. Leaving her brother to make his own decisions in what part he would take in Adeli Niska’s death.
“We’ve got clearance to land.” River said over the intercom.
“All we need ta do is take out the guards and make our way into the complex. Niska is meeting with some potential buyers today and we’re suppose to wait to transport the cargo to the required destination.”
“Yeah, because that’ll be easy as pie.” Jayne checked his pouches to make sure everything was secure and in their proper places.
“We’re set with the plan?” Mal looked around at his crew.
“I still ain’t happy ‘bout this plan, Mal.” Jayne clutched Vera tightly.
“Well its good I didn’t ask for your opinion now, ain’t it?” Mal shot back.
“It’s the best way. He won’t be expecting this.” Zoe added, supporting her Captain.
The cargo ship landed smoothly on the outer rim of the complex and only a few guards swarmed around it, waiting for the ramp to lower.
“We hope,” Simon added softly.
“He won’t.” River slid the two guns into the holsters that hung at her waist. A birthday gift from Jayne last year, River had not used them often, but she knew there would come a time when she would need them. She kept them clean and polished, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. And she would need them now.
“Set now, lil’ Albatross?” Mal raised an amused eyebrow. It wasn’t odd for River to be wearing a gun strapped to each hip, but it amused him to see such heavy weaponry attached to the waif-like girl anyway.
“We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.” Simon nodded to Mal, clutching his own small firearm and briefly resting his hand over the pockets of his vest that contained, among other things, extra clips.
“Let go kill ‘em,” Jayne cocked his weapon and hit the control to lower the bay doors.
As they hurried down the ramp, they took out the few guards that waited with expert precision. Mal and Zoe took off in one direction and Jayne, River and Simon hung back, watching as they disappeared into the treeline. The building where they ultimately wanted to be would be well guarded, but they would get as far as they needed to get before they were discovered.
The only way they were going to get close to Niska was if he was caught off guard. And the best way to catch him off guard was to give him that which he had sought for so long.
Zoe and Mal moved unhindered for a long while, knowing that those they’d left behind were taking out anyone in their path. The Captain and Zoe weaved around security, overturned barrels and outlying buildings until they came to a tall electronic barrier fence. Before they had a chance to bypass the pre-determined section of it, they heard the sounds of guns being cocked overhead. Two men from one of the security towers leaned over the railing and smiled down at them. Guess River had missed them.
Mal dropped the device they were going to use to bypass this barrier field surrounding the perimeter and muttered a few choice curses. They hadn’t gotten as far into the complex as they’d planned. Jayne, River and Simon were still outside the first barrier. As Mal watched the group of armed men approach from the opposite side, he knew his day was about to get much, much worse.
Adeli Niska smiled as his men pointed large, loaded pistols at Mal and Zoe’s chest. “So we meet again, Captain Reynolds.”
Inara tried to contact Serenity again and this time, just like so many others, received no answer to her wave. Again, there was no one on the other end to receive it and she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. It had been over a week since she’d spoken to River. She was annoyed with Mal insisting on a communication’s lockout. She just wanted to speak to him, hear his voice, anything. She knew he wouldn’t tell her about their plans. Truth be told, she wasn’t sure how much of a plan he even really had to begin with. She couldn’t remember a time when one of his plans didn’t end up with someone getting hurt, or shot at. If she’d have been in the right frame of mind, she would have stopped him from leaving altogether. Even if she had to have a temper tantrum or a mental breakdown to get him to stay.
Inara took a deep, shaky breath, the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach growing with each new wave she sent that went unanswered. She would know if something happened to him. Would know if he was dead. She blinked back the tears forming in her eyes at the mere thought. She couldn’t go on without him. The baby kicked, sensing its mother’s distress and Inara rubbed her hands gently over her swollen belly. He wouldn’t just leave her with his baby to raise. She’d kill him. She told him she would end his life if he wasn’t here for the birth of their child. Deep in her heart, she was afraid he would miss it. Miss the birth of their first, and possibly last, child.
It couldn’t be how things would end. She just refused to believe it, even if her heart and mind couldn’t come to an agreement on the subject. She had to see Mal again. Kaylee had to see Simon again. There were things left between them that needed to be said. A small sob escaped her lips and she closed her eyes against the overwhelming fear that she had seen and heard the last from the crew of Serenity.
She knew Kaylee could feel the stress radiating off her. But there was nothing she could do or say to calm the young girl as she worried about her own strained parting from Simon. Inara knew she needed to go back and tell Kaylee, again, that there had been no answer. Kaylee’d not been feeling well, the stress with each new unanswered wave growing until she’d begun to have chest pain, difficulty breathing. She was being monitored closely and the doctors were hopeful that Kaylee would be able to carry her baby to term.
But while the doctors were hopeful, they didn’t see the worry in Kaylee’s eyes, the all-consuming fear that she would never see her husband again. Inara could see it, could feel it, because looking at Kaylee was if she was staring into a mirror. She couldn’t let anything happen to her friend. Not now. The girl had been through so much and she had gotten through it, survived it. Inara flat out refused to believe that the men they loved were gone.
When a hand fell heavily to her shoulder, Inara’s head shot up to see Kaylee standing beside her, a frightened and pained look on her face. “What it is, honey? Is it the –“ The older woman winced as Kaylee’s hold on her shoulder tightened and glanced down at the one hand wrapped around pregnant belly.
“Kaylee!” Inara launched herself to her feet with a shocked cry as Kaylee collapsed into Inara’s arms.
Fay-fay duh pee-yen – baboon’s butt crack
What'd you like? What didn't you like? Leave a comment and maybe I'll post the next one tomorrow :)
Just rate it and don't leave a comment and - well, you can just wait a few days to read the conclusion . . . :)
Next story: Jayne, River and Simon get to be big damn heroes. And Niska gets a surprise he wasn't expecting.
Monday, May 15, 2006 5:22 AM
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