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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal leads the remaining crew members on a raid to recover Serenity’s electronic gear from the scarpers while Jayne deals with Jed Kurtz. WARNING: Graphic violence. May be too disturbing for sensitive readers.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1050 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 Thirteen – Payback
The ridgeline makes a wide arc, rising from the rubble at the terminus of the rocky spur upward and around, eventually dipping low and dropping off sharply above the darkened mine entrance before rising again to merge with the arid mountains beyond.
Just at the crest of a ridge, Mal and Zoë lie flat on their stomachs, heads low so as not to attract the attention of anyone coming and going below them. The single guard posted at the entrance drowses, a rifle cradled in his arms. There’s a tractor and trailer already full and tarped down, and a second trailer being loaded with electronic equipment scarped from half a dozen ships. A short distance away sits another utility vehicle.
“How many you figure there are, Zoë?” Mal rolls onto his side so he can face her.
“I make it four or five, not countin’ the guard. That doesn’t account for anybody still inside, ‘though.” She shakes her head. “Any way you look at it, Sir, we’re dealin’ with a wild card. No way of knowin’ who else might be in there, or what our odds are.”
Malcolm Reynolds smiles, a grim, sardonic grin. “Long as you’ve known me, Zoë, has knowin’ the odds ever made a gorram bit a difference as to what we do?”
The dark woman warrior chuckles, “Gotta admit, Sir, odds aren’t something you ever took much mind of.”
The two scuttle back down to the small hollow where their shipmates await the results of their reconnaissance. Mal crouches and puts his finger to his lips, then whispers, “Looks to be as many as a half-dozen or more, some of ‘em armed. Just the one guard, half asleep at the entrance.”
“They’re loading a trailer now. Got another one tarped over and still hooked up to the tractor. Looks to be the one they just drove in from Serenity. Wouldn’t make no sense to haul our gear out here, take it off the trailer, an’ then have to turn around and re-load it, so I’m bettin’ a holiday in Paradiso that covered trailer has what we came for.”
Wash whispers, “Sure would be nice if we knew for certain. This might be as simple as distracting ‘em and driving off with our gear. Have they got any way to come after us?”
“There’s another vehicle,” Zoë replies. “Some sort of hover mule – big, ugly yellow thing. It’s just over the ridge where the hillside levels out, maybe fifteen meters from the entrance to the mine.”
River starts to fidget and Simon lays his hand on her knee, whispering to her to stay quiet. For all the world, she looks like a child playing “army”, dressed in big boots, oversized cast-off clothing and a pistol cradled in her lap.
She glares at her brother and sticks out her tongue, then points over the ridgeline with her finger.
“Rats,” she whispers.
“What about the rats, little one?” Mal is intent, remembering her earlier reference.
Everyone leans close, wondering what River means.
She looks at them as if to say just how dense they all are. ”Catch the rats in the trap, then take the cheese away. Get the tractor and take Serenity’s eyes and ears and brain, too.”
Mal looks at Simon, then to Zoë. “Trap part makes sense. Maybe we find some way to pin them all down in the mine, drive off with our gear.”
“But, cheese?” He shakes his head, puzzled. “Take away what cheese?”
“The big yellow cheese that flies.” River is clearly exasperated with Mal’s inability to understand.
Zoë gets it and grins widely. “She means the hover mule, Sir.” She looks to the girl. “Right, River? Cause it’s yellow like a cheese?”
The girl nods, excited. “Bait for the rats. Close up their hole and take it all away.”
Mal’s thinking how to make this work. “Got an idea. Maybe we can push them back into the mine with a little gunfire and somehow blow that entrance with those hundans inside.” He looks to his first mate expectantly. “Zoë, tell me you packed some grenades?”
“Knowin’ just how fond of ‘em Jayne is, I actually did load a few, but I was figurin’ the big guy would be around to pitch ‘em himself. Guess he felt he had another commitment. Can’t say as I blame him, Sir.”
Mal’s face darkens and he looks away, clearly struggling with his concern for Kaylee and questioning the priorities he’s set. When he responds, his voice is edgy and thick with guilt.
“Nobody’s blamin’ him, Zoë. When River said the scarpers were haulin’ out by nightfall, I felt we had just one shot at retrieving this equipment. With only one shuttle operational, the timing just didn’t leave us any options.”
“Ain’t a question a me not caring about what happens to li’l Kaylee…” Mal’s voice trails off and he looks out at the far horizon, then pulls himself together before going on.
“Jayne did right to go after her.” He looks at Wash. “You had a good point about us needing Kaylee as much as the gear. Guess my thinkin’ wasn’t so clear as it shouldda been, all considered.”
He scratches his head, like he’s still trying to get his mind around something, then looks up, confused. “So them two’s an item now, huh?” He shakes his head. “That’s a puzzlement. Did all of you folk know this was goin’ on right under my nose? Didn’t no one figure to tell me about it?”
He’s faced by a sheepish, guilty-looking crew.
Simon, clearly uncomfortable, shrugs and reminds him, “Well, we did have a conversation about it in the medbay, if you’ll recall.”
“Well, so we did. Just didn’t figure as all was done and settled…”
River giggles. “Captain Dummy, don’t you know gunpowder needs a spark? Kaylee’s a light in times of darkness.”
“That she is, little one, that she is.” Mal runs his hand back through his hair and props his elbow on his knee.
“Yeah, and there’s been a lot of exploding going on over in Jayne’s bunk lately…” Wash quips before Zoë can shush him.
Mal puts his hands on his head and groans, ‘I really don’t need to be hearin’ this…’ He shakes the images off and plunges ahead. “If Jayne loves her like he says, then he’s the best chance for rescue she has. Nobody’ll be happier than me when he calls to say he’s found her and she’s okay, not that we couldn’t make good use of his sharpshootin’ skill right about now.”
Everyone is very still, unaccustomed to such candor from the Captain. There’s an awkward silence, then Mal continues with their plans.
“Wash, you’ll still need to fly the shuttle back to Serenity. Simon, you and your sister will haul out with him. Anybody familiar with driving tracked vehicles?”
Simon and Zoë both shake their heads. “Nope”.
Shepherd Book looks up from his folded hands and surprises everyone by volunteering. “Used to have to drive one of those things to haul supplies at the abbey from time to time…”
Mal and Zoë exchange a quick, skeptical glance. “Must a been quite an unusual abbey, Shepherd, “ Mal muses, “but if you can handle it, good enough.”
Wash wonders, “How about the mule, Mal? We’ve been talking about just how much we need another utility vehicle. Those things are bulky and built like tanks, but they’re fast and maneuverable as hell. Most of ‘em have an auto ignition. Just hit the button and steer ‘em like a lev-car.” He looks to his wife. “Zo, didn’t you tell me you handled a few of these back in the war?”
She pushes a stray, wind-blown curl out of her face. “He’s right, Sir. Get me cover and I can drive that mule.”
“Alright, folks. So’s we’re all gonna make our way up to the top of the ridge just there,” Mal indicates a point overlooking where the mule is parked.
“Wash, I want you, the doc and River hunkered down so’s you can give us some covering fire if we need it. An’ doc, keep your sis outta the action as much as possible. No point in takin’ any unnecessary risks. We get done or things go south, you folks high-tail it back to the shuttle. Are we clear?” His face is set and earnest.
Heads nod in agreement. Zoë passes Mal a rucksack loaded with a half-dozen grenades and cocks her mare’s leg.
“Alright folks,” Mal grins, “sounds like we got us a jim-dandy plan, so here’s how we’re gonna play it…”
High up on the ridgetop, River cranes her long neck to peer over the rocks at the action below.
“Oh no, River…” Simon grabs her around her waist and bodily drags her back down below to safety.
“Simon, stop.” She struggles in frustration against his efforts to restrain her. “Let me do my job!”
Unconcerned with the possibility of attack, the guard drowses with his hat tipped low over his face. Mal watches the coming and going scarpers until all happen to be inside the mine, then rolls over the ridge and into a steep gully that cuts across the hillside ending in a washout near the parked mule.
Zoë and Shepherd Book dive after him, using the adjoining rocky bank as cover and scooting down the gully on their tails. At the bottom of the gully, they crouch together in a dusty heap.
Mal draws his pistol and whispers softly, “I was a’hopin’ we could get ourselves up behind that mule and toss the grenades into the mine entrance from there, but I reckon there’s not a one of us with that kind of arm, exceptin’ maybe Jayne.”
Book hazards a glance. “Captain, I think the tractor is a better bet. Not only is it a little closer, but it’s lined up more in front of the entrance. Of course, that also means there’s a better chance of damage from flying debris.”
“Yessir. Also means making it across two pieces a open ground. Wait ‘til the next time they’re all inside and make a run for the back of the mule.” He looks at his companions and they agree. He knows that Wash and the others can’t see them in their present location, but should be able to spot them once they make it to the mule.
Mal eases up to take a peek, then whispers sharply, “Now!”
The three of them haul ass over the bank and make a fast dash to take cover behind the battered yellow hovermule. As they skid to a stop, several of the scarpers emerge with more equipment in their arms and load it into the uncovered trailer less that 10 meters away. As the men turn to go back into the mine, Mal looks to Book and nods toward the tractor.
High above, River pulls free of her brother and scrambles to the ridgeline, her slender arms unbelievably steady as she points the heavy pistol at the guard below.
As Mal and the Shepherd zig-zag across the gap to the tractor, the drowsing guard unexpectedly looks up, his rifle instantly on his shoulder and pointed at the running men. There is a single sharp pop, and scarlet spurts from the center of the man’s forehead as he pitches face down in the dust.
“One rat down.” River grins at her brother as he grabs and hauls her to cover again. Simon is shocked and shaken.
Stunned, Mal radios Wash, and the pilot and Zoë both began to lay down covering fire intended to keep the scarpers pinned down in the cave long enough for Mal to blow the entrance.
The men in the cave immediately return a hail of hot lead that ricochets from the rocks near Wash and zings off of the hovermule and tractor.
Mal and Book sit, breathing hard, heads hunched between their shoulders, backs against the front tread roller of the tractor, the closest cover available. They glance sideways at one another and Mal jokes, breathlessly, “Must be a downright exhilaratin’ experience for a Shepherd.”
“Definitely a little more lively than I’m used to!”
Book opens the rucksack containing the grenades, thinking to himself how incongruous it is for a man of God to be in such circumstances. He bows his head and silently prays, Dear Lord, please grant eternal peace to those who are about to come your way.
Mal’s turned around, up on one knee, doing his best to get a clear view of their target and not get shot in the process. “How’s about you pull the pins and hand me the grenades one after the other, just as fast as I can heave ‘em. Start off with four, then we’ll see what’s left when the dust settles. Debris’ likely to go fallin’ every which way, so tuck up as tight to the tractor as you can.”
Book laughs, “I think that’s pretty obvious, Captain.”
“On my count, then… Three… Two… One!”
The preacher activates the grenade and slaps it into Mal’s waiting hand. The Captain throws it true and sure, right into the gaping mouth of the mine, and reaches back for the next grenade.
Four deafening explosions follow one another is swift succession, heaving jagged bits of timber and stone skyward and obscuring the impact area with a roiling cloud of dust and smoke. In the stunned silence following, the only sound is the percussive raining of rocks and wood and bits of unidentifiable stuff, as the mountainside caves in on any remaining within.
When everything has settled, there is no sign of movement in the pile of rubble. Mal and the Shepherd cautiously stand and after a moment, Zoë gets up from her station behind the hovermule and joins them. “Good job, Sir!”
Mal’s first action is to pull back the tarp from the trailer to determine whether the equipment underneath is indeed that taken from Serenity.
“Hot damn!” he exults triumphantly.
With the sun descending behind the mountains, the light rapidly fades from the little valley where the scarper boss has taken Kaylee. Jayne’s been standing silently by the cabin’s single window for nearly fifteen minutes and there’s been no movement or sound from inside the small building.
Since he ain’t up an movin’ around in there, he’s either sleepin’ or gone out huntin’. I know that’s gotta be Kaylee tied up in that chair. Don’t know what that yaoguài’s done to her, still as she is. Sonuvabitch better not have raped her…
God, babygirl, ya gotta be alright. Just hang on a little longer…Shepherd, I sure hope you’re doin’ that prayin’ ya promised…
The furious mercenary draws a long, slow breath, trying to stay calm and keep his focus. Not much for me ta do but keep on watchin’ ‘til he show’s himself.
Jayne once again checks Cassie’s nine-cartridge cylinder, something he’s done a dozen times already, knowing she’s fully loaded, and thinks about how much he’s gonna enjoy tearin’ Kaylee’s kidnapper apart.
The drunken scarper is awakened by the ache of a full bladder. Over the past couple of hours while he’s slept, the sun has shifted and it is dusk. He smacks his lips and pushes himself up into a sitting position, his back suddenly visible to the tall, alert man standing silently just outside his window.
Jayne immediately tenses, back flush against the outside of the cabin.
Kurtz scratches himself and stands, blocking Kaylee from view. Jayne presses his ear against the side of the cabin and hears shifting boots and the crisp strike of a match against a matchbox. The flickering yellow glow of a kerosene lamp soon illuminates the room.
The big merc chances another glance through the corner of the window, hoping to get a better view of Kaylee, perhaps see her captor and what sort of arms he’s carryin’. With the room now softly lit, Jayne can see a gunbelt hung on a row of wooden pegs across the room. Looks like the wang bao dahn ain’t got his guns on. Must not a been figurin’ anyone’d interrupt him at his play.
Kurtz abruptly awakens Kaylee by yankin’ her head back sharply by her hair and the girl moans softly in pain. When he runs his nasty wet tongue up her neck and around her ear, she almost gags. The still-drunken man laughs and slurs out, “Gotta pish an’ then you an’ I gonna have ush a li’l fun…”
Hearing Kaylee groan, Jayne’s patience evaporates like raindrops on hot steel and he quickly slips around to the back of the cabin, standing where the corner of the building conceals him. The fury in his core is pulsing now, threatening to go nova. The cabin door creaks as the scarper opens it and steps to the edge of the little porch. Kurtz unzips his fly and begins to urinate, groaning in relief.
From ten feet away, Serenity’s mercenary can’t possibly miss his target.
There’s a single deafening blast and the impact of the bullet spins Jed Kurtz around, throws him off the porch and into the ground, knocking the breath out of him. He strains to sit up, mouth agape, staring in shock at the bloody, shattered shreds of bone and flesh where his right hand and cock used to be.
In a short half-dozen steps, Jayne has reached his target. He hauls him up by the front of his shirt and jams the barrel of his revolver through the scarper’s front teeth. Kurtz whimpers and his eyes are white with terror at what he sees on Jayne’s face.
“That’s my woman in there,” Jayne growls low and deadly and pulls the trigger.
(To be continued…)
Monday, June 05, 2006 9:08 AM
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006 5:18 AM
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