C.C.M Ch.1
Saturday, July 8, 2006

Jayne and Larji. Back on Deadwood. With Larji's new mother in law. Wacky fun.


Mal blinks at him. They all know Jayne’s got kin. He just ain’t ever talked overmuch about them, or his homeworld. ‘Cept for Gia, and mayhap Kaylee, ain’t nobody too keen to be knowing.

“You ain’t been home in a while, I‘m thinking?”

“Had no call to...” Gives Mal a sideways look. “Folks like Ferlinghetti an’ Hessian, you wouldn’t want ‘em knowing where your kin lived.”

Mal takes this as the compliment Jayne intends it to be.

“We’re going to need to fuel, get our bearings...can we refuel on Deadwood?”

“Hell, yeah. Shipyards is always hungry for business. This mean I can get some leave?”

Mal thinks on it a moment. He can’t ever go home. Ain’t nothing to go home to. Same for Zoe. The Tams’ kin - well, they don’t rate none. Kaylee misses her folks, but they don’t go by her world too often.

“I‘ll see what we can swing.” He grins. “Reckon your Ma will be real interested to meet Gia.”

“Reckon so, too.” Jayne brightens. “Wrote and told ‘em about her.”

Zoe, Kaylee and Simon step up onto the bridge.

“Gia says, and I quote, sir, ‘you’re getting your gorram dumplings, but I want extra budget for the groceries, because you’re all going to get scurvy unless you see some proper fruit this side of Christmas.’”

“Which I must second as a medical man.”

“This job pays off, we’ll all be eating strawberries.” Mal grins at Kaylee. “Now, job seems simple enough. There’s a ship done crashed out there, and we got the salvage...”

Jayne, who has been looking at the screen, interrupts.

“Crashed where, Mal?”

“Got a beacon trace to follow...”

He punches it up, and Jayne swears.

“Ta ma de! There’s a gorram reason we got the salvage...”

The ore drone has parked itself in an asteroid. The Junk Belt is aptly named. A shifting, unstable band of rock and rubbish, dense enough to attract unwary ships in. Especially if they are flown by a simple computer brain, or something even dumber, like a cheap pilot, strung out on rotgut. Jayne expresses this, with more invective.

“...Gonna be flying into a rutting mincer. You’d hafta be some kinda crazy to try it.”

A hand pops up over the back of the pilot’s seat and waves at him. Mal, all kinds of tweaked, and getting madder by the minute, glares.

“Now, you done told me that there wasn’t a problem.”

“Not a problem. Wash or Tiy could have done it.”

“And that means you can?”

“Yes.” She tilts a glance at him. “Know about the Belt, too. Chews ships up unless they have a real hotshot behind the wheel...” Grins at him. “Now, isn’t it lucky that you have me?”

Jayne steps back. This could be shapin’ into a proper domestic. Some reason, Cap’n seems to have quietly stowed the idea of hiring another pilot, and they got kinda used to the li’l one in the chair. But they ain’t done a run that’s any sorta stretch yet, an’ he’s worked the Belt - it ain’t somewhere to be learning. Nobody wants his two credits’ worth, when they’re shapin’ up like that, so he goes to find Larji. Reckons that Mal, Zoe an’ the Doc will be weighin’ in against River, an’ Kaylee won’t want bits knocked off Serenity. Still reckons River’s gonna win out.


“I’m going to be meeting your mother?” Ilargia blinks, stops spooning the bean paste out.

“I just want you to see where I’m from. Meet my folks. Have ‘em meet you.” Jayne looks up, half-shy. “Show ‘em I done something right in my life.”

“Well, I’ve not got much to pack.” She looks nervous. “I hope they like me.”

“They will. My two best girls. It’ll be shiny.”

Ilargia, who has a bad experience of mothers-in-law, refrains from comment. He looks so excited, that she doesn’t want to squash him.


Town had another name once, but now, it’s just Marietta, after the Yards, which loom over the houses, a bristling skyline of cranes and carcases, vast aerodromes and launch cradles. Sky itself has an ever changing pattern of stars over the town, red and green and the flare of rockets. One of the spinning lights drops down into the purple evening - the shuttle bringing the ‘dayshift’ home. (In space, there is no day or night, but men work better when they have sun and air and the comfort of families.)

End of the day, and the klaxon blares for shift change. Gates open, and a slew of men head homeward.


One of the men turns back at the shout.

“You wantin’ me, Lyall?”

“Got some post in.” Lyall Whitfield, the foreman, holds out an envelope, which was probably once white. Both men regard it. Blocky print simply says ‘Mr & Mrs Cobb, Marietta, Deadwood.’ “You know someone off planet?”

“My eldest son.” Mingled pride and anger in the voice.

“Oh.” Looks at the envelope again. “Boy was a fine welder, as I remember. What’s he doing now?”

“Dunno what he’s doin’. Breaking his mother’s heart by not coming home.” Ray Cobb scowls at the paper. “Best get this back, so as Carrie can read it out.”


“Married! Not a letter for months, and then he ups and tells us he’s married. He’ll have got himself snared up by some painted trollop, I know it. She ain’t even from our Church, Ray.”

“She ain’t even from our planet, by the sound of it. Now calm yourself down, Carrie.”

Jayne’s mother - the kind of woman who looked forty at twenty-five, but still looks much the same the far side of sixty. Hair drawn back in a tight bun, indeterminate between brown and grey, hands that show every day of toil in a hard world. A tidy, upright, ferocious little figure.

“I ain’t gonna be calm.” She reads a little more. “From the Core! She’s gonna be all mimsy ways, push a button an’ eat out of packets.” Carrie slaps the letter down, glares at it. A simple, rounded handwriting, learnt in childhood and never used enough to change. “Boy’s spent his whole life in trouble. Don’t you be telling me he’s changed that by picking up some...high-toned piece. What she want with the likes of him anyhow?”

Ray reaches out a large hand, scoops the letter away. Carrie had only read past the ‘Dear Ma,’ before she started in, and he’d quite like the news without the commentary.

“‘Dear Ma. Here are some credits for you. I have got myself wed. Her name is Larji and you will like her fine. I do. She is from [a series of scribbles, and another, more elegant, hand ‘Londinium’] I hope that Mattie is better and that Pa still has work. Your son, Jayne.’” He spreads the paper with his fingers, stares at it. “Gorram. Londinium.”

Carrie prims up her mouth.

“Nasty godless place, all lighting them smelly sticks in front of fat idols.” Fingers dab at a small crucifix round her neck. “I don’t like the way they smirk all the time, like they know something nasty.”

“’Bout time he settled down, though...” Ray bites his tongue, but not quickly enough. His wife is on that like a shot.

“’Bout time he came home and lived respectable. Got himself a real job...” Her turn to stop short, as Ray’s face darkens.

“Precious little work for a man here. They pulled in some more broken engines all the way from over the edge of the Burnham quadrant, and that’ll see us to next month, but don’t you be waiting for the days of plenty, Carrie.” Flicks the credits that lie disregarded half out of the envelope. “Wages of sin are what keeps the wolf from our door, an’ if I could do without ‘em, we would. But we got two sons, an’ physic don’t come cheap.”

“I wasn’t meaning...” She puts her arms round her husband’s neck. “I worry about him, Ray.”

“I know, darlin’.” His large hand covers both of hers. “I worry, too. But he’s grown, now, an’ has his own way to make.”


Mal stomps into the dining room, sits at the table. It doesn’t even take River’s calm, yet somehow smug, face to let them know.

“We’re gonna be setting down on Deadwood day after tomorrow. Jayne, you can borrow a shuttle, an’ I’ll wave you when we’re good to go. Got a pilot reckons she can catch that rock, but we’re gonna need some plannin’ and some fuel for it. An’ some extra shielding. Zoe, you an’ me are gonna be sorting the external welding, Kaylee and the hotshot will be tweaking the engine.”

“What about me?” Simon asks, tentatively. Mal looks even more sour.

“With Gia away, someone has to do the cookin’.”

Everyone looks a little stricken. Ilargia pats Simon’s shoulder.

“I’ll prep a few things, leave them in the cooler for you.”


Zoe comes across Ilargia, waiting by the shuttle with her one small bag. Woman looks uncommon nervous.

“You doing okay?”

“Meeting a mother in law is a little daunting.”

“I’m hearing you.” Still pains her a little, but she and Gia have talked some on the subject. “Wash’s momma threw a blue fit ‘bout me, but I can’t see why Jayne’s folks wouldn’t take to you. I mean, even the Captain likes you.”

“Well, thank you.” Ilargia grins back. “Why didn’t Wash’s mother like you?”

“Rebel soldier girl. Man was a genius pilot - strap wings to a brick and he’d put it in orbit - coulda had a real career, flying a cruiser and living soft.”

“But he chose you. Flying free.” She looks out over the cargo bay. “Esteban’s mother hated me. I dragged his nice clean career in the dirt. Cost him promotion.”

“For real?”

“Can’t be sure. May have been so. I don’t do corporate very well.”

“Don’t think that’s gonna be an issue here.” She’s curious, actually. “Jayne hasn’t ever talked much about his folks.”

“I don’t think anyone ever asked him.” She spies him coming down the stairs. His kitbag is nearly as big as she is. “Are you taking all your guns, dear?”

“Can’t leave Vera behind. Don’t trust Mal not to run off with her.” He grins at Zoe. “You enjoy the Doc’s cookin’, now. We’re off to get some real homestyle kwizeen.”

“Gia, take your husband away before I shoot him.”

“We’re going.” She shoves the still grinning Jayne in through the door, looks back. “Wish me luck.”


Jayne takes a moment to look about the control panel. There’s a small velociraptor perched amongst the buttons. He grins. He knows which hand put that there. Makes Larji laugh, too, which is good. She’s been kinda quiet the last day. He’s nervy, too.

“I ain’t been home for...getting on nine years, now. Gorram.” He grins at her. “Reckon they’ll be all kinds of surprised to see me.”

She looks at him in horror.

“You didn’t let them know we were coming?”

“They ain’t got a terminal to wave to, and we ain’t been past a post station.” The grin wavers. “Still reckon Ma will be pleased. You ain’t afraid to take potluck, are you?”

“No.” This is going to be good. Nine years absence, and then ‘hello, this is my wife.’ But it’s too late to turn back now. Jayne’s got the shuttle release sequence going.


They land in a dusty little field, at the edge of the town. Jayne scuffs a toe in the dirt.

“Ain’t had much rain. Gonna make the pitch a little mite hard for runnin’.”


“We’re on the edge o’ the school outfield.” He grins, hefts his bag. “Used to play ball out here. We only gotta walk down the street.”

It’s a proper street, too, hard-packed dirt, but with sidewalks and neat paling fences in front of clapboard houses. The buildings are low, upper storey set back over a roof that slopes to a wide porch. A sudden blart of sound makes Ilargia jump. Jayne’s head lifts.

“Gorram, been while since I heard that.”

“What does it mean?”

“In about a handful of time, this street is gonna be full of hungry men heading home.” He sniffs happily. “Someone’s got a chicken fryin’.”

This place is drier, warmer than Hecate, or even her own hometown. But despite the rustic quality, it’s an established place, a proper town, not a frontier settlement. Her big bad husband grew up in a suburb.

It’s not what she was expecting, and she says so. Jayne grins.

“I was born in the company hospital, grew up in the town here. Mal’s the country boy.” Looks out over the roofs and chimneys. “Weekends, me and Pa used to take off for the hills, though. Couple of rifles and rods, and a few fixings. Nothing to beat frying up fresh fish for breakfast.”

Ilargia starts to look a little worried; much as she loves her husband, camping out does not appeal.

The house they stop at is no different from any of the others. Perhaps a little neater than some, clean whitewash on the weathered boards, and the yard swept clean. Jayne has his hand on the gate, when there is a shout from behind him.

Ilargia sees - Jayne in thirty years. A grey, gaunt man, weathered and worn by time until there’s the fierce ghost of strength left. But the same wolfish line to the jaw, and the seamed face holds the same blue eyes.

Ray Cobb and his son eye each other.

“Huh. Turnin’ up like some bad penny.”

“Can always take ourselves off again.”

“The hell you will.” And suddenly, they are in a bone-crushing hug, slapping backs. “Gorram, boy, your mother is gonna take your hide for surprising her.”

“I know it. Pa, you gotta...”

There’s a whoop from the porch, then, and a thunder of feet.

Ilargia was going to wait politely to be introduced, but that plan is rather scuppered by Mattie. He couldn’t be anyone else. Fair haired, but the same bullet head and small ears, same pointed nose and wide grin. Clean shaven, shows a cleft in his chin that Ilargia knows Jayne has, too. Smaller than his brother, but that’s relative; he’s still large enough to swing her off her feet without trouble, plant a big kiss of welcome on her.

“Bin wantin’ to meet the woman crazy enough to marry my big bro’.”

“You put my wife down, you...”

They punch each other, boys again, wrestling, laughing, until Mattie breaks off, in a hectic coughing fit. Jayne catches him.

“You still sick?”

“Just a moment to catch my breath. M’fine.”

“You ain’t.”

“I got medicine. M’getting there.” Pushes Jayne away. “Don’t you be fussin’ me.” Eyes his brother. “Gorram, ain’t you the big, tough one.”

“Jayne Cobb!”

Yeah, really big and tough. Jayne runs, actually picks his mother up off the ground, as she flies at him, half laughing, half crying. Stems the reproaches and endearments, by setting her down firmly, and saying,

“Ma, I want you to meet my Larji.”

Ilargia quails a little. That hard blue stare is extremely familiar. Finds her voice, and extends a hand.

“It’s very nice to finally meet you, Mrs Cobb.”

Carrie Cobb stares at her new daughter in law. She’s not painted or showy. She is wearing trousers, but she looks neat, practical, a woman, not some slip of a girl. Eyes her waistline narrowly. Good wide hips. Wipes a hand on her apron, and shakes. Firm grip, no wilting flower. She sniffs, but unbends a little.

“Well, it’s good to meet you, too. Would have been nice to know you was comin’, but you’ll have to take us as you find us.”

Oh, this is going to be wacky fun. Ilargia follows the family up the path.


Sunday, July 9, 2006 1:02 AM


I loved Jayne and Larji meeting the Cobbs and have a fair idea who Mal is going to get to do all that welding for them. A bit worried about the junk retrieval plan, sounds tricky, but if anyone can do it our albatross can. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, July 9, 2006 4:32 AM


<She spies him coming down the stairs. His kitbag is nearly as big as she is. “Are you taking all your guns, dear?”

“Can’t leave Vera behind. Don’t trust Mal not to run off with her.” >

SpaceAnJL, you've got a wonderful touch with the vernacular. I'm enjoying your take on our man's background and this is turning out to be just as rich and clever as your other pieces. Thanks for more on The Living Legend and his bride and kin.

Sunday, July 9, 2006 7:28 AM


[“...Gonna be flying into a rutting mincer. You’d hafta be some kinda crazy to try it.”

A hand pops up over the back of the pilot’s seat and waves at him. ]

Hah! That's one of the best River reactions I've ever read. This is going to be fun!

Sunday, July 9, 2006 10:03 AM


A hand pops up over the back of the pilot’s seat and waves at him.

*** I liked that part, too.

Thanks for the introduction to the Cobbs. You, lady, are a gorram tease though. We got RIGHT UP to the point where there would be real communication between Largi and Carrie. Bring on the wacky fun!

Oh yes, and thank for this lovely installment. I really enjoyed it.

Monday, July 10, 2006 4:53 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER much fun is gonna be had between 'Gia and the Cobbs;)

Completely adored the moment where River raised her hand when Jayne indicated it would take a nutjob to fly through the debris field properly:D


Wednesday, July 26, 2006 5:41 AM


Oops, tried to post once and failed... must remember what I said!

Lines I loved:

"She ain’t even from our Church, Ray."

That is so like a mother - fretting over the church when the woman is from half the 'verse away, LOL!

"I have got myself wed."

I can hear Jayne reciting this - trying so hard to be proper, but excited and nervous about it at the same time.

I love the Cobbs, I can see each one of them. And you drew their hometown with believable texture and detail without being formulaic with the hicksville thing. Bravo!

Friday, September 1, 2006 4:46 AM


I loved your take on Jayne's background. It rings true to me.

And your Scene settings and characterizations are EXCELLENT!! Not too wordy.

“Ain’t had much rain. Gonna make the pitch a little mite hard for runnin’.”

My favorite line. It says so much about the town and Jayne.


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