Hero[es] of Beltane: part 6
Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Vera + Alliance, thrillin' heroics rescuing stuff, another bit of thick plottening.


PART SIX Climb a tree and swing rope to rope Take a sled and slide down a slope Into these arms of mine... I don’t care how you get here, Just get here if you can... [Oleta Adams: Get here]

Vera was several degrees of pissed off and angry. She’d been questioned at length without access to a lawyer, a wash or even food. So she folded her arms in the chair they’d given her and said very little. The Alliance suit tried a new tack, “So the nature of your...relationship with Jayne Cobb?” If looks could have burned, the guy would be a cinder on the floor. He seemed immune to burning by gaze, “He’s wanted on a number of planets for a variety of misdemeanours.” Vera had no doubts about that, “Thought you were questioning me, not him.” “We have you registered as sheriff for the last few years and resident on Beltane. Before that, you were a private bounty hunter. Don’t see anything before *that*.” Vera shrugged nonchalantly, “I got born, same as everyone else.” “Don’t like shady pasts.” “Don’t much like being questioned when what happened was mostly an accident.” His eyes narrowed, “And it’s that ‘mostly’ which is of interest to us.” “Hmm.” He slammed a fist on the desk, “If you won’t talk we’ll put you in a cell; dong ma!” “Can you add a lawyer, a wash and some food at the same time?” Vera got pushed into a cell which happily came with a basic shower and toilet cubicle. She waited till she was alone and had what turned out to be a very cold shower with utilitarian soap and a thin towel. She redressed in her clothes and sat on the metal bed, thinking. Something about this whole damned Alliance set-up didn’t smell right.


Mal was piloting the borrowed shuttle from Venice with Hori lending a hand. “Anything you can tell me about Vera might be helpful about now?” “She’s an adopted member of the whanau, my clan. She was a bounty hunter; brought some slime-ball to our sheriff Maaka. He liked pakeha women, ‘specially tall feisty ones with blue eyes; she likes her men tall, dark and with a hint or three of danger. So they fell into bed together fairly easily. When he was killed some time later she let us deal with his murderer the old way, like we wanted to, eh. By that time she’d learned a heap of Maori and been adopted. We liked the idea of having Maaka’s woman as sheriff, so here we are, eh.” “Before that?” Hori considered for a moment, “Seems she went around dressed as a man for a while. You might have heard of Samuel Vera who went by the title Robin Hood because of the old Earth legends.” Mal nodded. Jayne’s appreciation of Vera was suddenly starting to make a lot more sense, “‘Robin’ was damned good with a gun, worked on the fringes of the law and always seemed to evade capture. And Jayne knew about this?” “He stumbled onto the truth very soon after meeting her, by just asking the right dumb question.” Mal chuckled briefly, “Sounds like Jayne all right! Vera seems to be a classy lady and there's her aunt who went to Companion school.” “The aunt paid for private schooling for Vera. She followed her heart at fifteen and let the local bad boy seduce her. Start of a trend, by all the evidence.” Mal laughed out loud at that one.

Mal viewed the Alliance ship from just outside what he knew was their detection zone. “It’s an old model...” Hori found the telescopic functions of the view screen, “Yes. With an odd paint job. Hang on a mo’...” He enlarged the image a bit more, “Am I completely nuts or does that shade of paint look subtly wrong?” Mal had the bad luck to have seen Alliance ships up close and personal too many times, “Someone who wasn’t used to the Alliance being in the area...” “Which we aren’t. Haven’t seen one of theirs here in maybe five years.” Mal grinned, but it wasn’t with humour, “Someone’s masquerading as Alliance, they’ve ‘arrested’ Vera and that luh-suh Rusty, accessed Alliance stored material and been responsible for seriously annoying my customer relations guy!” Hori pounded one fist with the other, “Oh, they are going to get their asses kicked to buggery!” Mal nodded, “My thoughts exactly. And Jayne riled up is fast, deadly and merciless.” “Better hail him on the squawk box with Cliff and get him riled, then, eh.” Mal really grinned this time, “‘Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war’.”

After some discussion with everyone in the two shuttles, Cliff was deputed to make an ‘official’ approach via the radio first. “Deputy Sheriff Cliff Rangi from Beltane calling the Alliance vessel. I’m Sheriff Vera Samuel’s legal counsel and I wish to consult with my client.” “Request denied.” The connection was cut. Jayne grinned evilly, “I’m so glad when the hwoon dahn idiots give me an invitation to hurt ‘em!” Cliff cracked his knuckles and laid in the course, “Invitation accepted!”

As they were flying towards the big ship, a familiar voice came over both radios. “Cap’n, Jayne, everybody... Thought you might like the big girl to help out. We hopped a fast transport back to Serenity coz River said we'd be needed.” Mal smiled, “Serenity! Thanks Kaylee!” “Consider us the cavalry, Cap’n.” “Permission to dock, Kaylee.” “Sure, but we ain’t got room for Cliff’s ship as well.” Jayne flipped the intercom, “We’ll rendezvous inside.” Cliff looked at the huge ship in front of them, “Hope we *can* get inside.” Jayne flexed his arms, “I’ll punch a hole in the pile of go se luh-suh myself if I have to!” Cliff chuckled, “Sadly we don’t have spacesuits on board this shuttle, Jayne.” Jayne checked his weaponry and fetched a grenade, “Reckon this would do instead?” “What the hell, why not!”

The ships edged closer to the supposed Alliance vessel, but it wasn’t long until they were seen, challenged and being fired upon. Cliff kept close to the belly of Serenity as they weaved around, trying to use the light from Beltane’s sun as cover. The fake Alliance were obviously not fully armed, because getting close enough to board was actually possible. Cliff loaded Jayne’s grenades into the ship’s guns and they blew a hole next to the command deck, as far away from likely prison cells as possible. Serenity tagged onto the hole with magnetic cables and Cliff’s ship played piggy back. River and Kaylee kept Serenity in place whilst everyone else suited up and went over. Jayne took his helmet off as soon as they hit air inside, “I’m going for Vera!” He had a spare space-suit roughly tucked in behind his air tanks. Mal nodded, “We’ll just bother about everyone else.” Cliff threw Jayne the Alliance key and he caught it one-handed with a grin.

Jayne laid down quite a bit of gunfire on his search through the ship. A number of the fake Alliance folk wouldn’t be answering for what they’d done except to maybe a much higher authority. His yells soon produced a familiar voice in response. He got to a metal door with a tiny grill. Vera grinned like an idiot with pleasure, “Hello stranger! I’m kinda locked in here.” Jayne slashed a wicked grin back and showed the key, “No problem!” She was out and in a huge bear hug of welcome in seconds. He snatched a brief kiss and put her down. “Might have to fight our way outta here.” “They’re not real Alliance.” He handed her a couple of spare guns, nodding, “Mal and Hori figured that out. Got your back, darlin’” Vera nodded, pretending to ignore the tender appellation he had given her, “Got yours, swai wan nao.”

Jayne helped her put the spare space suit on over her rumpled clothes. Then it was pretty much negotiating a gauntlet of bullets and with assailants to be picked off one by one on the way back to the command deck . They'd shared gunfire side by side briefly in Vera's launch, but this was more intense. Jayne could feel Vera's movements as she covered his back and picked people off and he was impressed. Still thought he was maybe a shade better and more ruthless, even so. When they got safely to the command deck entrance, they sealed each other in their respective helmets, Jayne gave Vera one of his tanks and they stepped onto the weightless bridge. All the others were there.

Mal held his throat comm down, “We think the real Alliance might be very interested in our friends here. So Hori and Cliff have overridden the engine controls and in about half an hour this ship will steer itself at impulse power back towards the central planets.” Zoe added, “Turns out our two suits were ex-Alliance with a grudge. One of them was descended from that entrepreneur lady and figured he deserved his cut.” Cliff spoke, “I placed the incriminating vidpod down with the other stuff from the bunker,” he turned to Vera, “It was the footage of the guy with the rent boy. Was gonna offer to exchange it for you. Thought if they were real Alliance they might be very grateful to keep that quiet, eh.” Vera’s lips twitched, “The Alliance still might; thank-you. Rusty?” “Dead,” Zoe announced calmly, “Bastard jumped me and Cliff knifed him.” “Good. There might be real Alliance interest here at Venice and Beltane in due course.” Hori shrugged, “By the time they get here, the bunker will be empty and there’ll be nothing to see.” “Well, let’s get off this pile of garbage!”


Wednesday, May 31, 2006 2:38 PM


Huzzah! Another Big Damn Rescue pulled off it style;)



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