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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Jayne sets out to rescue Kaylee from scarper boss Jed Kurtz and Mal and the remaining crew go after Serenity’s stolern electronic gear.
WARNING: May be too disturbing for sensitive readers.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1101 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
To all the folk who endure traumatic events and somehow find the courage to rebuild their lives.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no coin changed hands. This story has not been beta-ed. Please accept my apologies for any errors or correct me.
Rating: NC17, Adult content, violence. Sensitive readers may find this chapter too intense. You have been advised.
Remarks: The next section in my long story arc following Jayne and Kaylee as they define and strengthen their relationship. Takes place between the series and the BDM, three weeks after my previous story, “Leaps of Faith”. Click on my name to read the backstories.
Italics indicate internal dialogue.
Feedback: Sincerely appreciated when civilly offered; that’s what it’s all about. Some of you have expressed distress over this story’s title. Please consider the following:
Definitions: Source: The Random House Dictionary of the English Language
Raping – (3) The act of seizing and carrying off by force (7) Plundering.
Serenity – (1)The state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil.
Chapter Twelve – Tried and Tested
Jayne Cobb takes a long drink of water from his canteen and studies the horse tracks he’s been following for the past two hours. He’s hot and sweat-soaked from the Newhall midday sun, his healing left leg eased by the smoother Simon injected. The big merc’s powerful body is amped up on rage, adrenaline and the booster he convinced the doc to give him and he’s suckin’ deep breaths through clenched teeth.
He’s reached the end of the relatively level plateau and faces the next obstacle. Beyond him, he can see the trail rising up and across slopes of loose scree. “Ai ya! That’s gonna make for some rough travel. Ruttin’ hundan’s in for a world a hurt when I finally find ‘im.”
He unwraps one of the protein bars from his belt pouch and gobbles it down, knowing that he needs the extra fuel to keep his body on the move, and then resumes his steady stride, using the cane that Kaylee made for him to give him extra stability and momentum over the rough ground.
The heavily laden horse he’s following has left a clear trail in the loose gravel, so the big man concentrates on keeping up a rapid, steady pace. The incline is initially gentle, but soon turns steeper and he occasionally slips in the rough footing. He does his best to keep his mind off what may be happening to the woman he loves and tries to focus on conserving his strength by climbing the trail with the most economical movements he can manage.
Don’t know how far ahead they are or where he’s headed but on a trail this rough an’ carryin’ two, that horse is gonna tire fast. Vegetation’s changin’, so I must be climbin’ pretty quickly. He looks up at the craggy peaks around him and wonders, Just how high does this trail go?
Jayne stops for another quick sip of water and studies the angle of the sun. Must be about 1400 hours now. Just got to keep movin’…
As he climbs, the merc prays silently. Sweet Jesus, look after her, help her be strong. I know I ain’t lived no decent kinda life and don’t deserve anythin’ for myself, but she’s a good girl, Lord, so lovin’ and kind. Please don’t let him hurt her. Do whatever you wanna with my luh-suh carcass, but please give me the strength to see Kaylee safe.
Take another step, draw another breath, over and over and over, until he is almost in a trance, filled with a swelling fury. Jayne follows the trail as it switches back and forth across the slope, his whole being focused on his mission – bringing the woman he loves home. But there, among the pines and cottonwoods, his keen tracker’s eye sees something different in the trail.
The loose gravelly ground has been pawed and scuffed up by horseshoe imprints turning this way and that, and there’s a pile of dung, relatively fresh by it’s color and the cloud of busy flies. He looks higher up and notes the freshly nibbled branch tips – the rider has stopped here for some reason.
Wonder what the dì yù happened here? Those stones have been shifted, turned every which way…. His sharp eyes follow the scrabbling track left by Kaylee in her effort to escape.
“That’s my girl!” he cheers, realizing the significance of the side track, and he quickly follows the slippery, rough trail down and across the hillside. The glint of Kurtz’s spent shell casing lodged between the stones catches his eye and his heart surges in alarm. Slipping and sliding, he uses the cane to brace himself, moving across and downslope with all possible speed. The trail ends abruptly in a tumbled pile of disturbed rocks and Jayne falls to his knees, throws his head back and roars with all the rage that fills his soul.
Knowing that he cannot indulge himself in the pain that fills him, Jayne pushes himself to his feet and quickly retraces his way back to the main trail. The mercenary moves carefully for fear of destroying or overlooking any sign and his hawk-like eyes are drawn to the brownish droplets spattering a palm-sized stone by the trail. He picks it up and smells it, touches it to the tip of his tongue, already knowing in his heart what the substance is.
She can’t be hurt too bad, or there’s be a lot more a this. Maybe she cut her knee or somethin’ when she fell.
Nevertheless, he knows all too well what men like these are capable of. He resumes his climb, relentless and driven, his mind filled with dark and bloody visions of the ultimate revenge he will extract from the tah mah de who has taken his Kaylee.
Malcolm Reynolds bends low over his pilot’s shoulder, peering through the view windows at the desert landscape below. Serenity’s sole functioning shuttle is packed with arms and anxious people.
Wash notes, “At least their tracks are a piece a cake to follow. They might as well have set off a line of flares for us.”
River pulls away from her brother and steps up beside the captain, putting her hand lightly on his arm, startling him.
Seeing her expression, he asks, “What it is, little one? You got anything about where they’ve taken Serenity’s gear?”
River lowers her chin and looks up at Mal through the wayward strands of her dark hair. “Rats went underground to hide in the dark until evening. They’re all busy, don’t expect us. Don’t knock. Better to walk right in over the hill.”
Shepherd Book is studying a topo map on one of the shuttle’s auxiliary screens. “We ought to be coming up on those mountains pretty soon. Can we access any local geological or mining maps?”
“You betcha! Gimme a sec, and…” Wash enters a command into the shuttle’s cortex link and the image in the auxiliary screen alters. “Voila!”
“Captain, it looks like our unwelcome visitors may indeed have gone to ground up ahead in a large abandoned mine,” the Shepherd announces.
Mal points at where the double tracks disappear into the rapidly approaching mountains. “Take us up and over that spur, Wash and then put her down real quiet.” He turn to face his remaining crew members, folds his arms across his chest, and speaks from his heart. “I know some of you got issues with my decision to come after Serenity’s parts instead of rescuin’ Kaylee, an’ maybe I chose wrong. Weren’t an easy choice to make. But if anyone can find her, that’d be Jayne.”
“Now we get to the part about how we’re gonna get our stuff back. Like River said, we’re just goin’ in, no ‘Howdy and may we come in, ifn ya please?’ We’ll land with the ridge between the shuttle and that mine entrance and make our way over that spur, so they won’t have any thought we’re comin’. Take a few minutes to scout ‘em out, see what the odds are.”
“I got a delimma, ‘though, Doc. I need you with us, but I don’t want your sister in harm’s way. Not so sure I can trust her to stay put, not go playing with the shuttle controls while we’re gone, maybe messin’ somethin’ up or gettin’ herself hurt. Unless you can suggest somethin’ that’ll work better, you got two choices. You can either dope her again or she’ll have to come with us.”
River turns to her brother and pleads, “Please Simon, no more drugs. Don’t wanna sleep again today. Let me come, want to help. Serenity is my friend, too.”
”It’s true, Captain. I mean, what she says. She probably loves the ship as much as you or even Kaylee. I think she’ll do what you ask if you let her come along.” He looks at River. “Can you behave, Mei Mei?”
The slender girl tilts her head and looks sidelong at Mal. “You should give me a gun. It would be wise.”
“Say what?” Mal’s eyebrow arches up at the total absurdity of the suggestion. “Ni juede wo hen ben ma?”
She smiles and extends her hands out, palms up. “Can’t help you without any arms.”
“She makin’ a joke?” Mal glances at Simon, who looks uncertain and shrugs. “Zoë? Book?” Mal knows both have tactical military experience.
“Your call, Sir.” Zoë is unsure and noncommittal. To her mind, firearms in the hands of untrained civilians are always a ticket to trouble.
The preacher puts a hand on River’s shoulder. “I think if I help Simon keep an eye on her, River can handle this, Captain. After all, remember Kaylee’s tale about her marksmanship when we got you back from Niska.”
“Alrighty then, Guess the question’s answered.” Mal looks sternly at River. “You just remember that a loaded gun’s a dangerous thing. Don’t go pointin’ it at somone less’n you mean to kill ‘em and they’re on the other side, dong ma?”
River nods solemnly and grins at Simon. “I just got promoted!” she chirps.
“Hold on folks…we’re about to land in three… two… one.” Wash eases the little craft to a gentle landing.
Mal tells his first mate, “Zoë, get everybody armed up.”
Within the cabin, late afternoon shadows make the dingy space even darker. Jed Kurtz lies sprawled out on his back, snoring loudly, the whisky bottle on the floor nearly empty.
Kaylee struggles to push through the fog of pain and confusion that fills her. Her bound hands and immobile shoulders, beyond pain, have gone totally numb and her tongue, swollen from thirst, sticks to the roof of her battered mouth. She strives to focus her blurred eyes, thoughts muddled by her mild concussion.
Kurtz has chosen to take his time in tormenting her, alternating his humiliations with the generous slugs of booze he sucked down. She’s so dehydrated that she’s only needed to pee once, the personal act made torturous by Kurtz’s unwillingness to grant her any privacy.
Her favorite green coveralls lie in a shredded pile on the floor, removed from her bit by bit. Her captor is haphazard about slashing the garment, almost giddy when the casual strokes of his razor-sharp blade nick skin and Kaylee yelps. Soon a dozen or more shallow slashes score her pale skin and drying trickles of blood streak her body. He cuts away a patch, then fondles whatever he’s exposed, laughing as she squirms in an effort to avoid his groping. Cut and fondle, then take another swig.
Finally, she is left in only her unders, slashed tanktop and boots, although for how long, she doesn’t know.
“Ashk me ta sthop, bitch.” His voice is growing more slurred by the minute as the rotgut booze floods his system.
Kaylee looks up at him through furious, tear-filled eyes and spits out, “Hell, no!” as she kicks out and catches him hard in the shin with her boot-toe.
“Gorram whore!” Kurtz snarls and backhands her again so hard her head snaps against the backrail of the chair and she comes close to tipping over.
“I’m pfed up wish you’ shit, mishy.” He takes another long pull at the emptying bottle. “Gonna take me a li’l nap and when I wake back up, I’m gonna have me a li’l party wi’ you…”
And with that, the drunken scarper sets the bottle on the floor and falls back onto the filthy mattress, beginning to snore almost immediately.
I wonder how long that hundan’ll sleep? Longer he’s out, the better chance I stand of someone comin’ after me. That much longer ‘til he starts back ta pawin’ at me or worse… Jayne, are you comin’? Oh merciful Buddha… are you dead, you and the Cap’n an’ everybody else, dead like Serenity? You promised me you’d keep me safe. Please Jayne, I need ya…
Tears slip silently down her full cheeks, now dark with dried blood and bruises, the salty flow making the split in her lip sting sharply.
She recalls her terror in the weeks after Jubal Early threatened her with rape and remembers the comfort of Jayne’s deep voice as he worked with her. “Stay focused. Keep up your courage. You’re my brave girl. You can do this.”
Kurtz has left a glass of water on the table to tantalize her and she glances sidelong at the sleeping scarper and wonders whether she can silently wiggle her chair forward just enough to get even a single sip.
Finally her thirst and anger tip the scale, and she makes up her mind to take the risk. I’m gonna go for it!
The girl gathers all her courage and strength and stands ever so slightly, hunching forward and carefully lifting the chair she’s tied to. She scoots first one foot softly forward, then the other. Kurtz snorts in his sleep and Kaylee freezes, relieved when his snoring resumes. Again, one foot, then the second, and she’s close enough to bend further and gratefully slurp what water she can before the level in the glass falls too low.
Don’t swallow! Keep it in your mouth as long as you can… she reasons, carefully backing up and lowering the chair and herself into her original position, praying, Maybe he won’t notice the water level’s lower.
The afternoon sun casts long shadows across the trail, made even deeper by the thick growth of old conifers. Jayne’s been climbing steadily since noon and figures he’s covered at least ten miles since leaving Serenity in mid-morning. Even with the smoother Simon injected, his bum leg is starting to ache and he’s beginning to wonder how much longer he can keep up this killing pace. He unwraps another of the protein bars and eats it as he’s climbing, counting on the concentrated nutrition to give him a little more to go on.
At a saddle between two ridges, he comes upon a side trail. The stony ground gives up little information. Wonder which way that liou mahng went?
The merc carefully studies the vegetation that surrounds the divided trail and finds long strands of horsehair snagged in the branches of a fir. Right it is, then, he decides, and turns up the narrower trail to cross the saddle. He goes another half mile or so and finally reaches the top of the ridge. Below him, beyond the swift mountain stream that splits the valley, he can see a cabin and a horse.
Place looks awful quiet. No sign a Kaylee or anybody else. I better take this real easy. Lao-tyen boo, I hope she’s alright. That stream’s movin’ pretty fast. Looks like there’s a bit of a ford up-stream a ways; be a good place to cross.
Rather than risk being seen by anyone in the cabin or the nearby vicinity, the mercenary shifts off the trail and carefully makes his way down the hillside under the cover of the evergreens, their fallen needles cushioning his silent footsteps.
He swings north and finally pushes his way through the dense thicket of alder and willow scrub that edges the stream. It narrows here and he figures the boulders poking clear of the rushing water will offer at least a partially dry crossing.
Wet guns ain’t no good, he reasons, and shortens the strap on Delilah by knotting it and then unbuckles his gun belt and refastens it, slinging it around his neck. With his bowie knife, he cuts a stout, straight willow sapling and lops off any branches, giving himself a sturdy walking stick to help himself balance as he crosses.
With Kaylee’s homemade metal cane in his left hand and the willow staff in his right to steady him, he steps from boulder to boulder and gets across with ease. Guess I catch a break once’n a while… Now if I can just get the drop on that wang bao dahn before he’s hurt m’girl too bad. The anger within him has coalesced into a hard, bitter knot deep in his gut, like the fire and mass of a giant star collapsed into itself, smaller, but infinitely more focused.
I’m gonna stake him out for the vultures, maybe skin ‘im bit by bit. It’s gonna be slow and painful, an’ he deserves every ruttin’ bit of it…
As silently as the shifting shadows that fall across the clearing, Jayne makes his way in a great arc around the cabin. Apart from the grazing of the single horse tied up outside, there is no sign of movement. No outbuildings, an’ the one horse, so it’s likely just the two of ‘em. Behind the cabin, on the side with the little porch, there’s a stack of firewood piled several feet high. Jayne can see that anyone exiting the cabin has only one way out.
He loosens Cassie in her holster, then ducks low and slips quickly around to the windowed side of the cabin. Peeking over the window sill and into the room within, he can’t make out anything in the gloom but the shadowed form of someone sittin in a chair, a small someone, head slumped forward.
Dear God… Kaylee!
(To be continued…)
Thursday, June 1, 2006 4:34 PM
Thursday, June 1, 2006 4:58 PM
Thursday, June 1, 2006 5:24 PM
Thursday, June 1, 2006 5:29 PM
Thursday, June 1, 2006 10:11 PM
Thursday, June 1, 2006 11:48 PM
Friday, June 2, 2006 3:06 AM
Friday, June 2, 2006 3:58 AM
Friday, June 2, 2006 4:18 AM
Friday, June 2, 2006 4:59 AM
Friday, June 2, 2006 5:52 AM
Friday, June 2, 2006 7:57 PM
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