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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Last bit of young Mal for awhile. Still needs work. Mostly with dialogue. Like it needs some. Anyhow. Enjoy or whatever.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 452 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The Shadow Lady was a bulky freighter and the cargo bay was heavily modified to hold the two hundred cows. Mal approached the captain hesitantly, still not sure if he was actually going through with is plan.
He was welcomed aboard very warmly and promised a decent sum when the cattle were delivered.
Mal had never before been out of Shadow's atmo. He'd skimmed along in hovercraft and atmo shuttles, but the Black was so much different. The ship's gravity kept his orientation, but the spackled stars seemed to go on forever and gave a slight feeling of vertigo. It was cold out there; even the life support couldn’t mask that. So vast and empty, but for Mal, full of opportunity.
Mal tended the tightly packed animals as best he knew how. He was actually told to sleep in a raised platform in the cargo bay so as to keep a close eye. So Mal's bunk was not far from the makeshift corral and therefore never out of smell or sound of the animals. Mal force himself not to mind. He'd lived around cattle all his life and being this close for a mere week couldn’t possibly be a problem.
The cattle were lethargic and ate only sparingly and without vigor. As the week progress, Mal noticed that they were getting not only thinner, but also jumpier.
Mal was a smart boy and it didn’t take him long to realize that transportation of live stock was illegal without a great fee. The stock was also greatly desired by many more sordid shippers.
Five days into the trip, the Lady was attacked by a pirate vessel. Mal had no idea what was going on at the time, but was later filled in that the rouge vessel hailed them and demanded their cargo. Captain Jorg was unwilling to comply and ordered evasive maneuvers. Mal was shaken out of his bunk by one such maneuver. The entire ship shuddered under a near miss and the cattle stared wide eyed at him. It wasn’t long before they began to panic under the heavy fire and sudden course changes. Mal tried his best to keep the short horns calm, but he was helpless to do anything while they milled about.
Mal knew what was coming. He had seen stampedes before. He knew how much destruction was left in the wake of two hundred cattle. But he saw that there could be no wake in this situation. He dashed up the steps to the bridge.
"Captain Jorg, the cattle, they're spookin'." He gasped. "We gotta stop."
"We can't stop. Get back down there and do what I'm paying you for."
Mal left obediently, but with a sinking feeling in his gut. He did not descend all the way into the cargo bay, instead electing to watch helplessly from the upper balcony.
With nowhere the run, the terrified cattle were milling about and jamming each other against the rough pen. It wouldn’t be long, Mal knew, before they panicked completely and crashed through the railings. The ship shuddered again and Mal watched in horror as the cattle stampeded and crashed through the planks. Like a tidal wave, they crashed en mass against the side of the ship and many went down, to be churned beneath hundreds of hooves. Mal felt sick and helpless as he watched half the herd kill itself against the metal. He sank to his knees and tried not to hear the bellows of pain and fear. Tried not to smell the blood. Tried not to think about the ruined beef. His ruined job.
The brush with the pirates proved a brush indeed, but more than half the herd was dead or badly injured from the stampede. Mal was generously chewed out for neglecting his duty.
"Can't do nothin' bout a stampede." He defended himself, but the captain would have none of it.
"It's comin' outta yer pay."
For the remaining two days of the trip, it was up to Mal to clean up the mess of destroyed cattle. One of the other young crewmen helped him move the carcasses to the airlock and release them into space. But the smell of death would not leave. The stains from blood remained on the deck. Mal was more than happy to leave the ship when they touched down. He wasn’t happy that his wages were half of what was promised, but he left as quickly as possible.
The world the Lady had delivered to was Garion, a thriving world. Mal was amazed at the level of technology in frequent use. On Shadow, things were limited, but generally available. Here and Garion, glidewalks lined the streets upon which hovercraft moved.
Friday, June 09, 2006 6:30 AM
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