Per Ardua ad Astra [part 5]
Monday, June 19, 2006

Jayne and Vera head for Southdown abbey to see why and how the money that helped train Inara came from there. Hitching a lift along the way! Plus some stuff back on Sihnon


PART FIVE Let faith be my sword and let joy be my steed 'Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed And let me set free, with the sword of my youth From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth ['When a knight won his spurs']

Jayne and Vera went to Serenity, packed their bags and weapons, then borrowed one of the fast Companion shuttles. Jayne checked the fuel capacity, “We're gonna have to stop several times to fill up along the way.” Vera nodded, “And either take shifts or find safe places to sleep.” Jayne laid in the course to one of the supply moons in the next star system, “Just you and me, huh?” “I think we'll be okay.” The universe's ideas of 'okay' were sometimes very beneficial, and sometimes not.

After the supply moon, they were passing the ruined planet of Shadow, when the long distance radar started beeping. “What's that?” Vera fiddled with some buttons, “Large ship. Very large. Try to get some chatter...” There was a pause and then rather garbled information started streaming across the screen, “Hmm. It's laying in a long trip, via Persephone and on to some of the fleshpots of the inner worlds. Oh, my!” She turned to Jayne and grinned. “What is it?” “Fancy a two day trip to Persephone instead, in luxury?” He grinned back, “Wouldn't say no! What is it?” Vera got the screen to be a little more co-operative, “The 'Chicago'.” “Swankiest space liner in the fleet!” “I'll get a passenger manifest, if I can... Yes! At least two spaces not taken up by registered passengers. Man and woman; that's good! Well, you have a choice. You can be a doctor – of something – and I can be your registered bonded mate, or vice versa.” Jayne's grin widened, “Bonded mates are like sex slaves, aren't they?” “Very often, but I've heard of more equal and loving partnerships, if you don't want to be a 'sub'.” “Uh-uh.” Jayne shook his head, “I'm the doc; my Ma would be real proud of me! And you, sweet Vera will be my bonded mate, but we can play it like you've got me twisted around your little finger.” Vera gave in, she could adapt to that game, “Okay. Says you're a specialist in 'historical and modern weaponry and martial arts'.” Jayne grinned, “That'll do.” Vera hacked some more, “Okay; as of now, we are Dr and Ms Dominic Hyde. My name's Foxy.” She groaned, “Like that's gonna fool anybody!” Jayne's leer grew wider, “Foxy Hyde... Ohh, yeah, I'll say! Foxy damn everythin'!” “Okay doctor dear; gotta get permission to dock or put this baby in a hanger or something...” “Mebbe I ought to do that?” He saw the look on her face, “If I'm in charge and you're my sex slave, it might look better. Just sayin'...”

Vera smothered several sassy comebacks. Jayne was going to swagger around with a swollen head for the next couple of days, but she was already planning to distract him with her new status. While he did the 'manly' stuff, she got to work on producing a couple of passable fake I.D.s via the on-ship computer. She hoped that a lot of attitude and maybe a change of wardrobe in the cruise liner's shops might help smooth over the cracks. While Jayne was negotiating the landing procedure in a hanger, she rifled through her clothes. She did a very quick change into a bikini and sarong, then found a length of chain in a pile of tools and junk at the back of the shuttle. Jayne turned round as she returned, “Ta ma duh! Hell, that's getting into character!” Vera grinned and did a twirl. The chain was looped around her waist and 'padlocked' in place, with a long end free. She grinned at Jayne, offering it to him,“Your end?” He looked at her, “Damn distracting, that outfit!” “That's the point, Jayne! If the purser or whoever is busy looking at me, maybe he – or she – won't notice that our I.D. is ever so slightly suspect!” Jayne grinned and did a quick change of his own into clean anonymous pants and a plain teeshirt, “There! Borin' doctor; best I can do.” Vera nodded, “Well, I've got some jewels to trade and a set of nifty fingers. We can see about expanding our wardrobe a bit for the next two days!” “I hear they've got a casino.” Jayne was clearly planning ahead. “Card sharp?” Jayne grinned, “Poker. I can scam a heap of cash that way!” Vera grinned back, “Sight of my cleavage has often altered a craps game in my favour.” Jayne pulled her to him, using the chain, “I knew you were my kinda trouble the minute I saw you!” “We're going to fleece them?!” He waggled his eyebrows, “If we can. And enjoy the facilities. Wanna get my money's worth outta having a bonded mate in my bed!” Vera laughed out loud, “Come on, let's go, or we'll be christening this shuttle and not our luxury suite before much longer.”


Mal helped Simon direct the medical side of things for those who had elected to renounce the official injections. They set up a makeshift ward of sorts in the same room and dismissed the others to go to their bedrooms and dormitories. Zoe elected to stay on Serenity. Simon had advised her it was best, for the baby's sake, even with the smallpox inoculation. And someone had to look after the ship, after all. River approached Hori, “You are going to help me.” He smiled back, “If you say so, eh. I know some Maori healing rituals if that's what you need, or just a listening ear if you don't.” River nodded, “Healing rituals. Need ways to help fill up the cracks, different to Simon.” Hori smiled, “One of my ancestors said, 'While our hands move with eternity, our feet are firmly entrenched in infinity and still, we remain in our integrity'. I'm a tohunga, a priestly scholar. I can offer massage, physical movement and chanting to help you heal yourself.” She looked at him, “Saw a cartoon octopus in a bar. Before I heard Miranda in my head, he seemed friendly.” Hori laughed out loud, “Sounds like Te Wheke, the great Maori octopus which shaped New Zealand on Earth-that-was. We can try healing for you that way; it encompasses all aspects of life.” “So, how do we start?” “Let's go out on the terrace there for a minute or two, eh.” When they were outside, Hori directed River to sit down, “Do you know the still, silent place inside you?” River nodded, “There almost always. Safe. Quiet. Warm.” “Okay, that's good. Close your eyes and go there now,” He waited until River was very still, “Can I touch your head, very gently?” River nodded, “Okay; I'm going to do that and go to my still, silent place as well, and then we'll talk to each other without words.” They stayed like that for about five minutes and then River moved her head, “Enough for now. Need to listen to what we said.” Hori nodded and they went back to the others.

Mal looked up from being a temporary nurse some hours later. Inara was swaying on her feet. He moved over swiftly and got to her just in time to catch her as she began to fall over. He picked her up and carried her out to a nearby bedroom. As he laid her down, his own tiredness caught up with him in a rush and he collapsed beside her on the bed. Sometime later, he opened his eyes and sat bolt upright with a start, “Hungh?!” He looked down and saw Inara still asleep. Some of her colour was starting to return to her face but there were still dark rings under her eyes. He gently stroked her hair. Her eyes fluttered open, “Mal?” “S'okay. Go back to sleep, Inara.” A smile hovered around her lips, “You're in bed with me!” He smiled back, “And so I am; but I'm hoping the next time this happens we might be in a position to be awake and paying attention.” She turned onto her back, still smiling, “You propositioning me?” “Get better, then we'll negotiate further, hmm?” He kissed her forehead and left the room. Inara lay there, still catching up emotionally with the emerging softer Mal she'd seen right from the start, but who hadn't come out very often. The days on Sihnon slipped by, with Simon and the others administered pain relief whilst keeping everyone as comfortable as possible until the 'quarantine' had passed.

The SS Chicago

Vera and Jayne passed through the ship and one of the many pursers led them to their cabin. “Honoured to have you on board, Dr Hyde; and your lovely lady, of course. Captain's compliments, there's an invite to the costume dinner tonight with free sparkling wine. Costumes available free of charge in the emporium in the mall to first class guests. Anything else you want from there can be borrowed free of charge for 24 hours or charged to your room if you want to buy it. The company's picking up your tab, so don't stint yourselves.” Jayne grinned, “Oh, we won't!” “Captain will be interested in your knowledge of ballistics and guns. You know he arranged for you to get this freebie taster; company's hoping you might advise them on weapon handling for the more military ships.” “I'll see what I can do!” The door closed, “We got a freebie!” Jayne was grinning from ear to ear. Vera whistled, “Look at the suite! Bed's big enough for five; there's a jacuzzi and steam room over there *and* a sauna. Sitting area, table and chairs, big couch...” Jayne threw open cupboard doors along with Vera, “TV, movie player, stereo.” “Fully stocked bar and a fridge with wine, fruit juice, bottled water and real fruit in it over here.” Jayne went through a door near the bed, “Ooooh, deep whirlpool bath! And a shower cubicle plenty big enough ta get 'friendly' in!” “I hope the Captain doesn't know what the real Doctor looks like.” Jayne shrugged, “Not gonna worry 'bout that now!” He picked up the invitation, “Real gold leaf! Regency 'Cinderella' dinner; seven courses, free booze, dancing. Well, count me out of the last of those, but I'm not ruttin' missin' out on a free meal!”

Vera looked him up and down, “You're going to look so swai and sexy in Regency clothes!” Jayne frowned, “What?” “Regency, Jayne. Vivid coloured silk, skin-tight pants with a button fly, white frilly shirt, coat tails. Maybe even a white powdered wig.” Jayne made a disgusted face, “Don't wear gorram wigs. What about you?” “Boned corset pushing up the breasts...” Jayne growled softly, “Stop right there! I'm likin' it already!” Vera laughed, “The red corset you've seen isn't boned! And I'll have a big dress over the top.” Jayne looked as if someone had taken away his favourite toy, “You mean those lovely puppies of yours are going to be hidden?” She shook her head, “More the exact opposite! As much on display as possible without showing the nipples and stuff.” Jayne looked at her as if he was trying to burn her bikini bra with his eyesight, “Damn! Every man is going to want you tonight, 'specially me.” Vera looked down, “They're not that big!” “Lovely generous handfuls; look ruttin' gorgeous all out and on display, like.” Vera blushed, sometimes Jayne really surprised her by complimenting her when she least expected it, then she looked at him, “That button fly and skin tight pants you're likely to have is gonna be worth investigating!” Jayne gently held her chin, his eyes gleaming, “Dinner's in two hours. Shall we go and get changed and then mebbe have a test drive?”

After an eventful two hours or so, they strolled into dinner, visibly flushed and fashionably late. Jayne was wearing a deep blue silk Regency style suit. He'd drawn the line at the ruffled shirt and wore a plainer version with a cravat. Vera was wearing a dress covered in delicate candy stripes of off-white, pink and the same blue as Jayne. Her corset and the dress combined pushed her breasts up so much she was almost afraid to breathe too deeply. They sat together on the top table near the captain and between courses, Jayne launched into great detail about the guns he knew well and how they were put together. Vera smiled, tried to look like a beautiful dumb ornament and kept her ears open. After two days of idling, hitting the casino most successfully and enjoying some particularly passionate sex sessions, they bid farewell to the captain and crew and went to visit 'Cousin Badger' on Persephone. Of course, they didn't head for the wheeler and dealer himself, but made for a secluded spot not too far from the abbey.

Southdown Abbey

Jayne and Vera changed in the shuttle once it was safely landed. They both donned anonymous cheap Oriental shirts and pants. Vera plaited her hair, then folded the plait back on itself several times, catching the whole lot in place with a band. She then covered the hair with wide ribbon, bandage style, finishing off near her scalp with a double knot next to her neck. She slicked cheap gel in her fringe and smoothed it over to one side. Last of all, she ot out a very expensive-looking false beard. Jayne boggled, “You're going to have a beard?!” Vera nodded, carefully sticking it in place, “Uh-huh. It's always worked before.” She turned to him when she'd finished and dropped her speaking voice a lot, “Brother Samuel, pleased to meet you!” Jayne took her hand as though it might explode, “Don't ruttin' like this, Vera.” “Samuel. Just be grateful we didn't have to get *you* into a nunnery!” His eyebrows shot up, “Me? Wear women's clothes...?!!” Vera laughed and teased, “Not even in the bedroom?” Jayne spluttered, then his lips managed a smile, “Well, I could get revved up by rubbing one of your tiny pairs of panties all over...” “Enough already! I'm imagining the visuals and it's making me hot!” He grinned, “After you get out of that...that stuff. 'Specially the beard; it's powerful disturbin'.” Vera gently threw a rough green habit at him, “No final kiss before we head into celibate territory?” Jayne tried to stop himself squirming and failed, “Really can't. Sorry.” He shut the shuttle down, “There's a small Buddhist/Christian monastery on my home world called 'Metta' . We could come from there. If you're gonna be Samuel, I'll be Francis, 'kay?” “Got your guns and weapons hidden about you?” He slashed a grin, “D'ya need to ask?” Vera picked up the few bits she'd need and they hid the shuttle with undergrowth as best they could. “Metta; that's on Newhall, isn't it? Big continent like America-that-was, lots of farms and rivers. Mostly flat as a pancake. Huge impassable mountains north and south, right across the continent.” “Yeah, that's the one. And a railway 'cross the continent deliverin' supplies and collecting produce. What about your home world?” “Tell you when we get inside successfully.”

Vera let Jayne lead the way. She wanted to be 'unobtrusive anonymous male' for as long as possible. Jayne knocked on the postern gate. The gatekeeper monk opened a window in the big wooden door, “Yes, travellers?” He was well on in middle years and Chinese. “We're monks from 'Metta' on Newhall. Come to ask leave to visit for a spell. This is Brother Samuel and I'm Brother Francis.” The gatekeeper nodded and let them in, “We have places for wayfarers to stay and fellow monks as well. Come in, do. I'm Brother Mark.” Vera had a brainwave, “Can we stay in silence whilst with you?” Brother Mark smiled, “A silent retreat? Of course; meals are generally silent anyway. If you need spiritual counsel, the abbot's available and I have to be able to talk to do my job!” Jayne had a question of his own, “Ever hear of a Shepherd Book?” Brother Mark smiled, “Came here before my time. He wasn't a monk then. Came to us for refuge, touching the altar for sanctuary in the old way, and the abbot let him stay. Got powerfully converted soon after, just like St Paul on the road to Damascus. We miss him.” Mark showed them to a spartan but clean twin room and left them to settle in.

“So, Vera. Gonna spill on your home world?” She smiled, “Avalon.” Jayne nodded, “The 'Pretend' system.” Vera laughed, “Or the 'Mythic'. Some settlers obviously tried to turn many of the pretend places on Earth-that-was into reality. Avalon, Numenor, Ragnarok, Lyonesse, Atlantis, Camelot – Avalon's moon, Shangri-La and Narnia. And that's not including all the moons and satellites.” “Family?” Vera sighed, “One mother, still living. You think I act like an ice princess sometimes? Mum has it in spades; when she's with us, that is. My aunt Grace died and I've already said how I think that happened now I know about the Companion's injections. Grace was my favourite aunt. Anyway, I was fifteen and I went a bit crazy! I ran off into space with the local bad boy and came back thoroughly seduced some months later. In the meantime, my father and sister had been killed in a train crash and when I returned, my mother went doo lally tat and right off the deep end. I sold everything and paid for her to be cared for in a home; she wasn't safe in the regular world. I keep in touch now and then, when I can; but she barely remembers me any more.” Jayne didn't say anything, but he came over and sat beside Vera and stroked her head. He smiled softly, “Ya like bad boys, huh?” Vera sighed contentedly, “Especially the one I'm with at the moment.” “I got Ma and Pa and mei-mei Matty. She's handfasted with a jing-tsai houseful of kids; some her own and others she's taken in. Lives next ta Ma and Pa.” Vera realised this was a huge revelation from Jayne's perspective and smiled. She opened up a bit more, “After I'd seen to Mum, I polished up my gun skills until they were really good, honed some other self defence disciplines and enrolled in bounty hunter classes. Lots of money fast, if you're good and you know what you're doing. Dressing as a man started there, really. There are some places – like this – where a woman can't go. And similar no-go places for men, for that matter. I supplemented bounty income with a little wealth redistribution and got myself named 'Robin Hood' by some as a result!” Jayne furrowed his brow, “Didn't he wear hose and green stuff? Can I be your Little John if you dress up like that?” “Later, Jayne!” He was still trying to think, “Where we gonna ruttin' look for the abbey end of the money that paid for Inara?” “Hopefully there will be something like a records office, like in the Companion house. If not, maybe we'll have to have words with the abbot.”

After a while, Jayne and Vera went in search of the kitchen, for two reasons. One was the obvious, needing food; the second one was to try to start snooping around. The kitchen was unoccupied, which led to Jayne helping himself to some bread and cheese and a small flagon of ale. He shared some of the cheese and bread with Vera to start with, then started chomping on his half. A search near the kitchens revealed very little. Store rooms, a small chapel, laundry and a supply of bicycles near a large door which gave out onto the garden. Jayne and Vera polished off their illicit meal and the ale. Jayne chucked the empty flagon into a rubbish bin as they went past it. The garden was a huge allotment, with fruit, vegetables and a substantial enclose with hens scratching. Several monks were weeding and tending the plants and birds in the heat. They stopped, looked at Jayne and Vera, lifting up a hand in mute welcome. Vera smiled and murmured conspiratorially, “The request for silence seems to have borne fruit.” “Uh-huh.”

Further perambulations revealed nothing helpful. The abbey was full of all manner of chapels, a refectory and a library, but no obvious records' room. They went back to their bedroom. Vera filled two glasses with water from the tap above the modest basin in the corner of the room. She took a tentative sip and then nodded. It appeared safe and tasteful enough to drink. She sat on her bed, “In all the excitement since we got re-acquainted, I haven't had the chance to ask you where the two new scars on your leg came from.” “Reaver harpoon.” “Yeow! Glad to see the shee-niou ugly bastards didn't get you.” “We were on this dirt poor moon which got huge piles of nice spendable Alliance cash comin' regular.” Vera smiled, “Cash is good.” He smiled back. They were talking the same language, “Indeed. We'd gotten our eager mitts on the loot when that moonbrain slip of a thing smelt 'em comin' or some such.” “River's psychic; and a reader. Just as well for your very skins that she did.” Jayne shrugged, “Yeah. Well; we was makin' the quick getaway in our nice, almost brand new flyin' mule when the Reavers decided they wanted lunch a bit early, like. Mal shot the cord of the harpoon in my leg and Wash scooped us up off the dirt.” He shrugged, “We got free, we made a profit. Two more holes in me that weren't life-threatenin' or about to unman me I could cope with. River tried to do the last of those on Beaumonde, in Maidenhead bar. She went fruit loop and took out most of the folk in it and when I tried to stop her, she grabbed me! Damn near yanked 'em off!!” Vera winced, “No wonder you were skittish when I held you there in my office. If I'd known what River had done, I would have found another way of getting your attention.” Jayne fixed his gaze on her chest, “Oh, ya found it; just about thereabouts!” His gaze drifted southwards, “And that gorgeous ass of yours; heck the whole...area 'round there. That gets my attention!” Vera laughed, “I'll bear that in mind!” Jayne grimaced, “But not now. I know it's you an' all, but you dressed as a man... Disturbs my calm.” He had another thought, “You ain't ever been with a woman have you? Cliff said you were straight.” “No, never had sex with a woman. Had some offers which I declined, been obliged to kiss a couple of women whilst disguised as a man, nothing more than that. I like 'em male, hairy and with all the masculine equipment!” Jayne let out his breath, “Well, that's all right then!” The part of him which favoured the fantasy of girl on girl action was a bit disappointed, though.

Two days went by. Vera and Jayne continued snooping when they weren't being obliged to help out. In the end, there was only one place any likely records could be – the abbot's personal office and rooms. It was the only space they hadn't searched. Trouble was, the abbot was in them all the time and when he wasn't, the door was firmly locked. Jayne was pacing up and down in their bedroom like caged wild beast, “I tell ya; we break in and make him spill the beans!” “As a last resort,” Vera amended. “Gotta powerful urge to hit or shoot somethin’ ‘bout now!” “I know. I feel it too. Brother Mark said there was a big service here on Sunday. One of the important saints. There will be people coming to the service from all over. If I’m any judge of the situation, it’ll likely as not go on for a good hour and a half and the monks are pretty much bound to offer food afterwards. Plenty of time to try to locate what we’re looking for while the abbot’s busy. If that doesn’t work, I’ll be right alongside you with my guns and in ass-kicking mode!” Jayne grumbled a bit, but for once he saw some wisdom in a plan.

So Sunday arrived and not a moment too soon for a stir-crazy Jayne. He and Vera sat at the back of the abbey’s main chapel, their bags hidden under their seats. Jayne jerked his thumb towards the carved figure of Christ Pancreator on the east wall, “Ya believe in that?” Vera whispered back, “Great respect for the basic message and the man, same goes for Buddha and Lao Tzu. Prefer the reality of what *I* can do that makes a difference.” Jayne slashed a grin at her,”Yeah; guns and fists.” “And talking sense into folk, and kicks and stuff that goes boom.” “Time to go?” Vera looked around as the music started and nodded. They slipped out, quieter than mice. Breaking into the abbot’s study took no more than a well-placed kick from Jayne’s boot. There was a simple polished desk and chair, a modest laptop and a handful of religious books, including the Bible. Facing the desk was a second chair, on the floor a handmade knotted rug. One of the walls had some icons and holy pictures and a plain wooden cross. It was the sort of place, Jayne thought, that Shepherd Book might have found to his liking, back in the day. Hidden under a big religious tome on the bookshelves was a lever. Jayne grinned and pulled it. The bookcase swung open and there was the records room.

The room was lined with shelves, on three sides, floor to ceiling. Expensive, metal shelves, in a metal room. “They had a room like this with the cash on Lilac.” Vera sighed, “Alliance. Like the bunker on Venice as well.” She looked at the box files lining the walls, “Let’s see. Record of services going back fifty odd years. Leave those for now. Produce. Shepherds.” She handed Jayne one large, wooden box file, “Shepherd Book. If you really want to know about your crew mate.” Jayne started scanning the contents as Vera kept on looking. She found a huge box with lists of donations made by the abbey and started rifling through it. After a while, Jayne gasped with a mixture of disbelief and righteous indignation, “Wuh de ma! He was a gorram Operative!” Vera caught all of the undercurrents and put down her box to have a look, “*Trainee* Operative. He was only a young man at the time. Different name, of course. One they wouldn’t record, not even here. He killed Moses Venezia, the member of Parliament in a fit of anger. Good grief ; seem to remember the official story was that Venezia had a heart attack.” “Operative sword would stop your heart good and proper.” “Indeed. Derrial Book fled here and claimed sanctuary, just like Brother Mark said. A number of affidavits and sworn statements as to the authenticity of his conversion experience, then Shepherd training after he’d handed over all his worldly goods to the abbey. Cross reference to my ‘donations’ box here,” she went back and found a small ledger, “Ah. Good Lord. Payment to a widow with the name of ‘Serra’ for her daughter’s education.” Jayne had found something in Book’s copperplate handwriting, “He was secretly in love with her, even though she was older. Inara was about eleven at the time.” Jayne tried to do the maths on his fingers. Vera looked at the dates, “Thirty-five years ago.” Jayne boggled, “Inara’s over *forty*!?! An’ I had such a crush on her an’ all.” Vera didn’t comment on that, but fetched out a mini-camera from her pants’ pocket and started to taking pictures. They had just about finished when there was movement in the outer room.

Jayne drew his concealed pistol. Both versions of Vera were at his back and he squatted, alert and ready. “Brother Samuel, Brother Francis - or whatever your names are - please come out, now.” It was the abbot and his voice was steady, calm and radiated quiet authority. And a heck of a lot like Shepherd Book, Jayne thought, even given that the abbot was clearly not of African stock. He caught Vera’s eye and they exchanged silent hand signals, then stood up, discarding their robes. Jayne tucked his gun in his pants’ waistband at the back. They left the storeroom. “Ah; not monks then. Kindly tell me exactly what you were doing in our abbey?” Jayne folded his arms across his chest, belligerently. Vera decided to go for the truth, “Someone we know - and care about - had her Companion training funded by this abbey. Knowing that you’re all celibate, it seemed odd, to say the least.” “We wouldn’t fund that directly. We give the money we receive to good causes; how it is spent is out of our hands.” Jayne leaned over the desk, “Sure about that? None of your monks get the itch now and then?” “They may get the ‘itch’ as you so picturesquely put it, but they don’t scratch. Now I’ll have to ask you to hand over your evidence, please?” Jayne’s gun was in his hand on the instant, “No ruttin’ way!” “Put that away, please.” Vera tried for diplomacy, “Sir...Father; our friend really ought to know this.” “Some things need to remain secret.” The abbot’s hand drifted across the desk. Vera cocked her own gun just behind his left ear, “Freeze!” “Go ahead. You’ll find leaving almost impossible.”

Jayne’s right hand was occupied, but his left was free to execute a textbook hook across the desk, knocking out the abbot. He and Vera looked out of the window. “Got any rope?” Jayne grinned, quickly fetching the belts on their habits along with the one belonging to the abbot. Knotting them together, he tied one end to the desk and slung the length out of the window. “I’ll go first, then I’ll help you.” When Vera dropped the last few feet into Jayne’s arms, a ‘reception committee’ of monks were approaching at a run. Jayne unslung the big gun on his back and laid down a hail of bullets as they headed towards the shuttle. Vera was covering his back and getting off a good load of rounds herself. They ran out of bullets and Jayne lobbed a couple of grenades. Some monks kept coming, even so. Just over half way to the shuttle, the bullets and other explosives ran out. Luckily the monks chasing them had given up. Unhappily there was a posse of monks between them and the shuttle. Jayne grinned humourlessly, “Fist fight.” “Or something like that. Got your back.”

Jayne felt Vera bend her knees and move her arms defensively to protect her face. The monks came at them at a run. Jayne took out the first two by banging their heads together. He felt Vera kicking and saw some moves out of the corner of his eye that resembled River’s show in the Maidenhead bar. He ploughed on through the monks on his side of things with fists and feet, then turned to help Vera. She was good, he had to give her that. Nice, high kicking with a nifty flick at the end. Not as fluid or deadly as River, but good enough. He knocked a couple more heads together and helped Vera dispatch the rest of the group to temporary oblivion. Then they ran to the shuttle and got it in the air. Vera looked at him through a growing black eye, “You okay?” He got the shuttle aloft and into space with Vera assisting, then put it on autopilot, “A few bruises...” He winced as breath suddenly proved painful to get in. Vera gently felt his chest, “Bruised ribs, I think. We need to rest up somewhere. Somewhere anonymous, if possible.” “Monks aren’t chasing us.” “No, but the Alliance might have been alerted; and even my masculine appearance might make someone with a brain to link me to the supposedly deceased Vera Samuels, ‘specially since I’m with you.” “Don’t like the Alliance!” “Neither do I; but even a majorly good merc like you can’t defeat them all!” Jayne smiled, then looked at the star map on the ship’s computer, “Let’s see; first aid, food, water...” “And not too close or blindingly obvious.” Jayne kept searching, “An old orbiting satellite; has - or had - an atmosphere inside of some description. Two systems over. Full burn’ll get us there by the end of today.” Vera nodded, “Worth checking out; let’s lay in a roundabout course. The intel says it was put out of commission and set adrift as a probe a year ago. We ought to send a coded message to Mal. Let me see... Chickens located. Egg delivery soonest. Rooster and hen heading for coop.” Jayne grinned, “That’ll do!” Vera found her bag and started removing her beard. Once it was off, Jayne leaned over, wincing and snatched a kiss, “More like that soon!”

The old satellite was drifting a long way from the planet it had once orbited. It was dark and only emitting a faint tracking beep. They managed to land the shuttle on one side of the satellite and plug into the basic computer and batteries on board. Vera looked at the information, “Hmm. Air scrubbers barely working. Okay, instructed them we’re maintenance crew, so we should be able to get inside soon. Located the first aid for maintenance workers to use. Well, we can refresh our air and get a medical kit. Food’ll have to wait.” “It’ll do.” They went on board in the thin air inside after an hour or so. They floated across the tiny ball to get the first aid kit, then returned to the shuttle. They stripped off and gently examined and patched each other up each other whilst snatching kisses. After that, Jayne stroked Vera’s face. Suddenly the sparks of desire blazed into insistent life between them. Vera had just enough presence of mind to engage the rudimentary shields and camouflage before passion swept them both away. When they woke up, they headed back towards Sihnon by an indirect route.


Saturday, June 24, 2006 8:30 PM


Well now...this was wonderful, Vera! Well-paced, action-filled and intersperced with moments of emotion and description:D

And Inara's 40 plus, huh? Well now...guess the 10-year age difference (or about that, based on physical appearances of Ma/Nathan and Inara/Morena) is in the opposite direction, huh?


Can't wait for what Jayne and Vera have uncovered to reach Mal and Inara's eyes. Fun times are ahead:)



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Jayne the stripper [mini fic]

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RAYNE. AU [ish]. One way in which Jayne/River might *actually work, given Summer's real age. Post BDM.

Deck the Halls
Jayne/OFC. Smut. R/NC17. Jayne gets some at Solstice-tide.
Warnings: Jayne behaves...well, like Jayne. Not suitable for kiddies. One off.

Jayne & the Mudder woman

Because I don't think anyone has written it before!

In Vera Veritas
AU to everything else I've written. It's...well, I know it's not perfect yet. Polite suggestions for tweaking this accepted. I've done my own 'Jayne has a really hidden back story' thing. One-off.

Call the Man [12] repost [coda]
Just rounding things off.

Call the Man [11] repost
Recuperation, funeral, healing.

Call the Man [10] repost
Jayne does his best 'Die Hard' impression aboard the Skyplex with Ares in tow. Warning for minor character death at the end.

Call the Man [9] repost
Mal makes plans along with the crew. Illegal drugs, dolls and hiding things. Police.

Call the Man [8] [repost]
Vera tells her story. But it ain't over yet; fat lady hasn't sung!