BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

DESERTGIRL

Decisions (1/2)
Thursday, August 17, 2006

This is a sequel to my story “The Additions” and takes place after Miranda. In this story: Inara returns to Serenity, strange things happen while people sleep and Mal contemplates a big dangerous rescue mission.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2584    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

This story is a sequel to my fanfic “The Additions” and takes place several months after Miranda. I would rate it pg-13 because it is implied that bad things have happened to some of the child characters.

Thank you - Thank you to Phoenix Rose for the awesome beta job.

As always - comments are very much appreciated.

The Additions **************************************

“There’s only one jug this time”

“Only one, you sure? Don’t think any of the boys could do it alone. They’re too young.”

“We could skip this run…. but who knows when the next one will be. I’d hate to see someone die that could have gotten out.”

“You or I could go.”

“You could go. I am too scratched and dirty to get on in the ‘verse up there. I’d just as soon get the kids out, specially the ones that’ve been stolen. Them ones that have a chance. Besides someone’s gotta keep it going”

“Yup….. we’ll do a lottery, only open it to the ones more’n seven.”

“Better hurry, transport leaves this afternoon” The two dirty teenagers stepped out of the shadows of a vacant underground tunnel, adjusted the lights on their helmets and walked in separate directions.

********

Inara gently lay down her calligraphy brush when she heard the soft rap on the door.

“Cheeng jeen.”

“Mistress Inara? I realize that students are not entitled to intrude on instructors after the evening chimes. But I heard you are leaving soon; and since graduation was today, I am technically no longer a student. I was wondering if I could impose on you to give me some advice?” The blond, curly haired woman waited patiently in the doorway for Inara to respond, like the good student she had always been.

“Come in and have a seat Rosalie. Would you like a cup of tea?” Rosalie nodded. As she spoke, Inara carefully set aside her calligraphy and busied herself making tea for her guest.

“You are a graduate of this house, with all the duties and privileges that rank entitles you, including tea with instructors after hours. Although, I am surprised to find you here. I would have expected you to spend this evening with Arya.” Inara was an expert at setting people at ease. She chose to open this discussion with a topic to calm Rosalie’s nerves. Arya and Rosalie had been inseparable since their second year at the training house, best friends.

“She knows I wanted to talk to you before you left. Last fall you left so abruptly. I did not want you to disappear again before I had a chance to speak with you.” Inara remembered the circumstances of her abrupt departure from the training house last fall. She had been caught in a trap and used as bait to catch Mal and the others on Serenity. She and Mal had escaped only to find themselves caught in a much more tangled web of lies and deceit. Most of them had survived, but only just. Others were not so lucky. The experience had made her begin to reevaluate her life. Her table was stacked high with the beautiful calligraphy she had created while trying to figure out a new purpose and a new path.

“Last fall was difficult. I apologize for abandoning you and your year-mates. I explained the circumstances to you.” Inara hoped she did not have to retell her edited version of the story again. Parts of it were too painful, and parts were simply too complex a lie to remember after months had passed.

“Yes, you told the story beautifully. It was as if we were there, with all the blood and pain. I hope that I can become such a story teller one day.”

“My dear, in storytelling, like many arts, practice is all that is required. You have the skills. Now you just have to figure out how you can best apply them. You have to decide what kind of person you want to be.”

“And, I need experience.”

Inara nodded in agreement. She remembered her first year out of the academy, trying on different roles and different personas trying to figure out just who she was comfortable being. It seemed that she was about to embark on yet another transformation…..

“Which brings me to why I have come to visit you this evening. I don’t want to end up in some house, where I am always visited by the same clients. I want to explore different cultures. I want to see the universe. You did that. You rented a shuttle and hopped from planet to planet. Tell me, what do you wish you had known before you left House Medrassa?”

Inara could not have been asked a harder question. For the last several hours she had been thinking about what to do differently when she returned to Serenity. How could she say to this young girl, “Don’t fall in love with the captain of your ship?” or “Don’t get yourself into situations that make you question your life’s plan or purpose?” Inara sipped her tea and composed her thoughts.

“Well first I would recommend spending a few years in a House. Build up your reputation and your experience. You will need a great reputation so that when you announce your arrival on a new world, potential clients can look you up, and know you are worth what you charge. You will find that the higher your reputation the higher your fee.

“You also want some experience because,” Inara leaned over and placed her hand on the girls’, “there are nasty, awful people out there. You need to be able to know what you will accept, what you won’t and how to handle yourself when situations turn ugly.”

Inara then sat up straight and sipped her tea. “I would also recommend you find a ship with impeccable credentials, with a crew and captain that respect you and what you do, and keep it a purely business relationship.” Inara hoped that would suffice. She had spent time a house and built up her reputation. The experience she had gained as well as the reputation she had built had served her well. She wished she had found a ship with credentials and a Captain that respected her. It was what she knew she should have done.

“Can I ask you why you left that life? Or why you are returning?” Rosalie’s question was simple enough. But not to Inara, in her mind Inara screamed NO ABSOLUTELY NOT! How could she answer that, when she did not know herself. She took a minute to calm her nerves and think of a response. Only her training kept her voice calm and steady.

“I very much enjoyed my time on Serenity; but there came a point where things were not working out the way I had envisioned. So I accepted an instructor position here at the training house. I have truly loved guiding all you girls. Then last fall, when I almost died with these people, I realized there was no one else I would want to be with when I die. It was a powerful moment. It created questions I am still not sure how I will resolve.” Inara paused and set her tea cup down on the table. There was so much more she could have said. “Now I think I have kept you to long from your friends. Arya will be looking for you.” Inara stood to show her guest to the door, making it absolutely clear that this polite response was also a dismissal.

********** Thirty kids stood around a pile of rocks in the center of an underground tunnel. Two were visibly several years older that the others, maybe thirteen or fourteen. One of the taller ones reached down and picked a rock out of the pile.

“Jordas, you’re up. You think you can do this all by yourself?”

“Nothin’d stop me from getting home to my Ma.”

“Tell me the plan.”

Jordas repeated the plan as he had heard so many other kids do since his arrival six months ago. The older boy wondered for a minute why the Kuh-ooh duh lao bao jurn that ran this mine never wondered why so many children died in the mines and were never found. Too stupid he guessed. Or maybe there was such an endless supply of children that it just didn’t matter how many died. It was too gruesome a thought to dwell on, and his attention snapped back to Jordas.

“After the ship is in the air I dig my way out of the jug and find a place to hide. When the ship lands, I crawl between the wheels of the jug. I hang on tight to those bars. Once we hit dirt I hop another ship.”

“That’s right Jordas, you are gonna do great. How many ships do you hop before you look for one to take ya home?”

“Three”

“Good job. That way even if you’re caught you can’t be brought back here. Now climb in and we’ll bury you.”

*********

“Good Morning” Sara said to Zoë as she poured her morning coffee. In the ten days she and her boys had been aboard Serenity, early morning coffee with Zoë had become a ritual. Only Zoë had switched to tea after Simon had informed her too much caffeine would be bad for the baby.

“Morning,” said Zoë, who was already seated at the table, sipping tea from her cup. Sara sat down next to her and slowly sipped her coffee.

“Pregnancy… is it supposed to feel like every muscle is dragged down by an iron weight?”

“It’s certainly not like that for everyone, but I sure remember feeling that way at times. It’s much better in the second trimester.”

“The women on that moon you were on, they take it easy during pregnancies? Cause it seems like if I feel up to something I should do it.”

“Well there was Jodie. She had several miscarriages and the doc made here stay in bed off and on the whole time. But there were some like Cara Ferathon, she lived just down the road, she never acted any different. At nine months she was out ropin’ steers and mending fences. You never would have known she was pregnant except for the bump on her belly.”

“And you, you slow down with Tyson or Kaless?”

“Some.” Thinking back, it had been such a happy time in Sara’s life, she could not help but smile. “When I was tired I rested but when I wasn’t I did my normal stuff. Is someone telling you should do different?”

“Mal thinks I should stay on the ship till the baby comes. I think if I do that I’ll go crazy and shoot someone.” Sara had to laugh. In the short time she had known Zoë; she could tell that was quite an understatement. Why did men always think they knew what was best for the women in their lives?

“I’m no doc, but I would say that as long as your armor fits and you feel up to it, do what you’re used to.” Sara replied matter-of-factly. Changing the subject she asked “Can you tell me about Inara?”

“Hmm, she is beautiful, gracious, polite (except to Mal), smart, a regular pillar of strength. She spent nights just sitting with me after Wash…. You know that she’s a Companion?”

“Kaylee told me. How long has she been on Serenity?”

“She was here a little over a year. She rented shuttle one. She’d leave when we hit dirt. Go do her thing, then catch up to us when we left. Her status got us onto more’n a few planets and out of more’n a few scrapes. She left about nine months ago, took a position as an instructor at the Companion training house. I thought she was really happy, but she got caught in a trap, and she ended up aboard again when we went to Miranda. I think she would have stayed with us for good, but she is an honorable person. She told Mal she had made a commitment to the girls she was training, she had to go back, but she expected to be picked up the day after they graduated.

“Why do you ask? Are you worried about a Companion hanging around your boys?”

“Oh no, I’ve known many Companions. They were all gracious, caring and respectable. I was just trying to figure out why the captain hates her so much?”

Zoë was shocked by this question. It never occurred to her that Mal might hate Inara. Zoë always imagined that the two were in love and just too stubborn to admit it. “Why do you think he hates her?”

“It just seems the captain is going out of his way to avoid picking her up. She has sent four waves, none of which he has answered. And, he always calls her a ‘whore.’ I mean, I’m grateful we stopped on Persephone to buy school materials for the boys, and I think stopping to get you that special ammo, after the doc said lead was bad for the baby, showed real kindness. But did we really need to backtrack a whole day just because the postman sends a wave tellin’ us Jayne got a package from his Mama? We have been within 8 hours of that training house four times this week. Why don’t we go?”

Zoë considered this. She had not realized how they had been zigzagging around in space. She needed to spend more time reading star charts.

“What’d you two do if one of us menfolk beat you to the table in the mornin’? Would you still cluck like a bunch of hens?” Mal barked out the statements as he walked towards the coffee pot. “Sara - I just got a wave from Badger, he’s got a job for us. I need you to change our course to Persephone.”

“I wouldn’t do it, sir,” Zoë stated.

“Why, you know something I don’t? Badger gonna shoot me or something?” Mal glanced at her as he poured his coffee.

“No sir.”

“Then tell me please why we should not take any work we can get. Ship don’t run on dreams.”

“Sir, it’s a waste of fuel. We need to pick up Inara while we are close enough to throw something at her. We don’t want to traipse out to the edge of the rim and then have to come right back. You need to either send her a wave and tell her you’re not coming, or go pick her up. Stop avoiding her.”

Had he been avoiding picking up Inara? He didn’t think so, but then again he had been thinking up a lot of important stops lately. Maybe he should look at a chart, or maybe not. Zoë had a point. Smart woman, Zoë. How come all women couldn’t talk plainly like she did?

“Ok, I get it. We’ll stay on course for the training house. Zoë, send Inara a wave saying we are definitely coming today or maybe tomorrow. How far are we anyway? And wave Badger, tell him to wait.” Mal stormed off towards the cargo bay. Inara was definitely a touchy subject when Mal was around.

******* “Sir, there has been another death in sector G.”

“Who and where?”

“Jordas McNeil, age seven. File says he came from Ganimex. One of Scrudger’s acquisitions.”

“Well no one to care, then. Place a requisition for another one. Think we’ll ever get ones that last more than a year?”

********

“Can I watch, Ma?” Kaless was nearly dancing around the cargo bay in anticipation of seeing a first class transport like the model he held in his hand. Everyone still on board was gathered in the cargo bay waiting for the arrival of Inara Serra, whether they admitted it or not. Kaylee was keeping herself busy tuning the lifters. Simon was pretending to hand her things. Although he was not really being much help since he never knew which thing she wanted. River was on the catwalk, amusing herself by throwing paper airplanes down at the boys Sara was trying to contain while she ordered up the fuel refill, water top-off and liquid Oxygen. Mal had made himself busy pretending to count the food stores. He really would have preferred to be anywhere else, but knew he would be the one to have to sign the loading papers. Zoë and Jayne were scouting the local bars looking for potential cargo to carry to Persephone. Mal would have liked to be with them. Yet part of him wanted to be the first to greet Inara. The woman totally messed with his brain. He never knew just what it was he was feeling when she was around.

Just then a first class transport pulled up in front of Serenity’s open hatch. Three men dressed in blue jumpsuits were the first to emerge, followed by an exquisitely dressed woman in a lavender and violet silk gown. Her curly jet black hair was loosely tied with a ribbon at the nape of her neck, leaving it free to fall down her back.

“Ma, look at her. Is she a princess?” Kaless stood slack-jawed, staring at the Companion as she stepped out of the transport. A sudden clang made them turn their heads. Kaylee had dropped her wrench and was running to give the woman a hug.

“‘Nara, you look shiny! I want to hear everything about the graduation.”

“It was beautiful. I am really going to miss some of those girls.” She turned to the movers. “Please take all the boxes and furniture up into shuttle one. It is up the stairs and to the right.” Inara said as she pointed in the general direction of her shuttle.

“Ma’am we need to have the captain’s signature on these papers.” Inara looked around. She had hoped that Mal would be there to meet her. She wanted to talk to him. Most of what she was confused about in her life involved him.

“Cap’n was right here a minute ago.” Kaylee looked around, trying to see where Mal had ducked. Then finally just yelled out, “Cap’n, Inara’s here, we need you to sign the papers!”

“Comin’, gotta put these cans away.” After a few minutes, Mal appeared from behind a stack of crates, took the papers from the blue uniformed man and signed them without out really looking at them or Inara.

“I’ll lead them,” Tyson said, motioning for the men to follow him with their first load of boxes.

“Who is that?” Inara whispered as she squeezed Kaylee’s hand and gestured towards Tyson.

“Inara, you won’t believe all that’s happened in the last few months.”

“Yeah a lot has been going on since you left for the whore school.”

Inara ignored the jibe and replied smoothly “Yes I could tell, you made me reschedule the movers five times. This time they would not even consider my request until I named the ship and they could check your status.”

“I just wanted to give you time to get in a few more of those high priced, high class clients of yours. It’s not that often that we find a wang bao dahn with money to waste.”

“For your information, I have not taken a client since Miranda.” Inara turned and walked towards the shuttle. Only someone trained in reading people would have seen how Inara was fuming inside.

“Captain, why do you always have to be mean to Inara? You keep treating her like that an she’s gonna leave again. Sara, come on I want to introduce you to Inara.” Kaylee grabbed Sara’s hand and the two women began to follow the companion up the stairs towards shuttle one.

“Gotta work to get it moving.” Mal looked up at the voice calling down from the catwalk. “Can’t just ride in the ruts, they’ll stop ya before you start, gotta push to get free. Sometimes gotta ask for help. But there’s smooth road on the other side if you can get there. Land of milk and honey, picnics and playdates.” River looked down at Mal to make sure he knew she was talking to him before she disappeared back into the shadows.

Mal glanced at Simon, who just gave a shrug. He had learned that his sister’s rantings were often meaningful, if only he could figure out what she was talking about. Deep in thought, he turned around and began picking up Kaylee’s tools. Mal decided he might as well finish his fictitious inventory and stepped behind a crate. Only Kaless saw the small dirty boy walk into the transport, pick up a small box and carry it confidently onto Serenity. For a brief moment, Kaless wondered why the boy did not head up the stairs like the movers, but the thought slipped from his mind as he investigated the workings of the fancy transport.

**********

Jordas set the small box he had carried onto the ship down next to him, as he settled into a little crevasse between two crates at the back of the cargo bay. This was his third ship. At the next stop he could find a ship to take him home. He wondered if his Ma would recognize him. Thinking of his Ma made him get teary so he pulled out the meat roll he had swiped from the street vender. The first ship he had hopped had taught him how easy it was to find tiny crevasses between crates. His second ship had taught him to store food and water bottles in his pockets. He wished he could get a message to the boys. There was so much he’d had to figure out. They needed to add things to the plan. As he finished his meat roll, and drifted off to sleep, his mind schemed about how he could tell them.

“Hi, what’s you name? Captain didn’t tell me there were any other kids on the ship. What are you doing back here in the crates?” Jordas woke up as a small hand shook him gently. He looked startled at the young boy staring down at him.

“Hiding from the grownups”

“I like hiding to. Specially when Ma wants me to do school. I would much rather play tunnel monster than learn letters. Why are you so dirty?”

“Tunnel monster got me, I guess.”

“I’m Kaless, what is your name?

“Jordas, but don’t tell the grownups about me. They won’t like me hiding.”

“Guess not. Wanna play transports? I’ve got some shiny transports Captain Mal bought me. It’ll just take a sec to go get ‘em.”

***********

“Kaless, time for dinner.” Kaless heard his mother’s voice ringing through the cargo bay.

“Gotta go, I’ll see ya later. You comin to dinner?” When his new friend shook his head, he crawled out from behind the crates, and climbed the stairs toward the dining room.

“What you been up to? I haven’t seen you since we took off.”

“Playin’ transports Ma, we pretended that we were hauling stuff from one moon to the other and we had to hide from the evil ‘linace.”

“Who’s we? Your brother spent the afternoon helping Inara unpack her boxes.” Kaless looked at his mother as if he had just committed an unspeakable crime.

“He said not to tell anyone he was here, that he was a secret.” Sara shot a knowing look at Simon who was setting the table for dinner. She had known that leaving their home so abruptly would be traumatic for her boys. Simon had warned her that sometimes children develop coping mechanisms that in adults would be called psychosis. In children, they tended to fade away as their situations became more stable. One of these coping mechanisms was imaginary friends.

“That’s OK, sweetie everyone’s nice to kids on this ship. Would you like Simon to set a place for him at the table?”

Kaless was ecstatic that his mother was being so understanding about his friend. Jordas had been convinced that if the grown-ups found him he would be in trouble. “I don’t think he will come to eat Ma, but could you make him a plate that I can take to him?”

“Sure sweetie. Why don’t you wash up and help Simon with the table?”

***********

When Jordas woke up there was a plate of food and a bottle of water next to him. It was dark, but he was used to dark. He slowly savored every bite of the vegetables and noodles. This food reminded him of the way his Ma cooked. Soon he thought, soon he would be there.

“I just can’t understand what could have happened to it, I know I packed it, but it is not in any of the piles.” Jordas automatically crouched into a tiny ball when he heard the voices. He relaxed a bit when he realized it was a woman’s voice, drifting down from the catwalk above. There were no women in the mines. He was safe on the ship.

“What does it look like? Could it have fallen during the move?” Another woman’s voice joined the first.

“It’s possible. The box is not that big, and it’s fairly light. It’s not even that valuable. I would just rather not lose it. It was a gift from my students. They filled it with all my favorite teas. They figured I was headed someplace so far away from civilization that tea would be scarce.” Jordas listened to both woman laugh as he looked at the box he had been resting his head on.

“What’s our destination on this run, Zoë? Are we clearing out these crates soon? Perhaps it fell behind one of them.”

“We’re headed to Osiris to drop off that big brown monstrosity there in the corner. The contact Jayne and I made said it was filled with seeds. Shame we can only make coin on another’s need. Then we are headed to Persephone. Badger’s got a job.” The voices drifted away.

Later that night, Jordas crawled out of his hole and set the box of tea out in the open on a big blue crate. Someone would definitely find it in the morning. Then he set about to explore the ship.

***********

“You joinin’ in the gorram cluck-fest Inara?” Mal strolled into the dining room to get a cup of coffee two mornings later and was not at all surprised to see Inara sitting with Sara and Zoë at the big wooden table. The morning discussions did not really annoy him so much as make him wonder what was so important to talk about that could not be said around men.

“Sir, we were just saying that something downright odd is happening on this ship.”

Ok, this had him intrigued. Things seemed to have been going fairly well. Unless you considered the fact that every time he spoke around Inara, things came out all wrong, and he ended up hurting her feelings again.

“The day I moved in, one of my boxes went missing. It was not that important, just a small box of tea that my students had given me. I thought it might have fallen during the move so I was looking for it in the cargo bay. Zoë and I talked about it. Then yesterday it was sitting on top of the big blue crate.”

“Early this morning there were tiny watery footsteps leading from the shower room toward the cargo bay. As if someone showered but did not dry off. Tyson and Kaless were still asleep, and both were completely dry.”

“And leftovers from dinner have gone missing from the cooler.” Zoe added.

“All these alone would be no big deal , but when you consider the mysterious appearance just after we left dirt of Kaless’ imaginary friend…” Sara trailed off with a bit with trepidation. She was sure the captain was gong to blame her son.

“Shu ma nyaow, you telling me there’s a stowaway on my boat?” Mal was a bit incensed that such an occurrence could happen without his being aware. Had he been that preoccupied trying to avoid Inara?

“Hiding. Used to the dark, like the dark. Like being surrounded, no one can get you when your back’s against a wall. Can’t let the grownups see. Gotta get home. She loves me. She wants me back. She’s got to want me back.” They had not noticed River walk into the room until she started ranting. Now she was curled up in a ball by the bulkhead, sobbing.

Inara rushed over to hold the shaking mass that was River. “She’s not had an episode like this since before Miranda. I wonder if this has something to do with our other strange occurrences.” Everyone paused to consider this for a moment, until Sara abruptly stood.

“It’s time to figure this out. I am going to wake up Kaless.”

******

Ten minutes later, Kaless was standing in the dining room facing the captain and his mother. It seemed as if he had done something wrong, but he could not for the life of him figure out what it was. River was curled up in heap on the floor, with Inara and Simon holding her hands. Zoë and Jayne were there, too, sitting with the captain. Tyson was even there, although he had just woken up and was wondering what all the fuss was about. “Kaless, you’re not in trouble so don’t look so scared.” Sara took the most loving tone she could muster. “I just want you to tell the captain about your imaginary friend. His name’s Jordas isn’t it?”

Kaless nodded.

“And you’ve been playing with him in the cargo bay?”

Kaless nodded again.

“And he doesn’t want to come up here because he is afraid of grownups.”

She glanced at River as Kaless nodded again.

“Can you tell me why he is afraid of grownups?”

“Grownups took him from his Ma and put him down the mine. It was his turn to escape, but there was only one jug so he had to go alone. He just wants to go home to his Ma.” Sara could tell that Kaless was about to burst into tears as the rapid succession of words escaped his mouth.

She was now fairly convinced that Jordas was not so imaginary. She felt awful that she had been so quick to assume that her son had developed some strange coping mechanism for the trauma he had suffered, rather than facing the fact her son had found another traumatized kid on board. From the looks on Mal’s and Zoë’s faces, it seemed they agreed.

“Kaless, this is important. Do you think you could convince Jordas to come out and meet us? It is not good to have someone sneaking about on a spaceship. They could get hurt.”

Kaless considered this for a minute before he nodded and began shuffling off towards the cargo bay, everyone else trailing behind.

When they reached the bottom of the long fight of stairs, Kaless got on his hands and knees and crawled in between two crates. It occurred to Mal he should challenge the kids to find hiding places on the ship. They would no doubt come up with ones that the authorities would never find. A few minutes later Kaless crawled back out from behind the crate.

“He won’t come, says to tell you he’s ‘maginary.”

“CAN’T GO BACK. THEY HAVE KNIVES. FALLING DOWN HOLES, BURRIED IN THE ROCKS. CAN’T GO BACK. DIGGING ROCKS, COVERED IN ROCKS. NOT MY TURN YET. WAITING MY TURN. WANNA GO HOME. WANT MY MA. NO ONE TO HELP, GOTTA GET THERE ALONE.” River’s hysterical screams could be heard throughout the cargo bay.

“Jayne, Simon, help me move this crate a bit. Sara, you know kids, go in after the boy.” Mal felt a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“No Mal, I’ll go.” Inara got down on her hands and knees and began to crawl through the maze of crates.

“Good idea, Inara. Who better than to help a scared little boy than someone whose job it is to give comfort.” Sara spoke firmly so that no one would question Inara’s action. But the affirmation took Mal by surprise. Never before had he realized providing comfort was what Inara truly did. He had never been able to see past the sex. To see that for her the comfort she provided was what mattered, the sex was just something that helped.

***** Jordas looked toward the opening to his den when he heard the shuffling. He hoped that it was Kaless returning, but he doubted it, the shuffling was to big. He could hear the grown-ups talking and he knew he had been found out. It was not Kaless that came around the corner. It was an angel. She had dark curly hair and a deep red dress. Red like his Ma used to wear.

“Jordas,” the angel whispered quietly. When he just sat there hugging his knees she spoke again. “Kaless said your name was Jordas. That’s a beautiful name. It looks like you have made quite a home here.” She looked around at the things he had borrowed from around the ship. He had not considered it stealing, because he was going to leave them behind. Ma would never approve of stealing. He was just borrowing.

“River says that you’ve had a hard time of it. Do you want to talk about it?” Jordas shook his head no. But that was ok with Inara. She settled herself in, busying herself by making herself comfortable. She could do the talking for a while.

“You sure were brave to sneak on board the way you did. That place you’re running from must have been guay.” Jordas just nodded.

“It sounds like you have been away from home for a while. I bet your Ma will be glad to see you when you get home. I bet she would be real proud of you the way you have worked so hard to get back to her.” With the mention of his Ma, Jordas couldn’t contain it any more. His tears started to come as a trickle but within seconds they were a full fledged torrent. Inara just held him as he cried himself out. It was almost an hour before she spoke again.

“Kaless said that you and he like to play transports. You know this ship we are on. It’s one big transport. How would you like to see the bridge? Sometimes Mal, he’s the captain, lets Kaless steer, maybe you would like to take a turn at the controls? You look smart enough to keep us from hitting any planets or stars.” Jordas smiled ever so slightly at her joke. He nodded his head. She motioned for him to follow her as she crawled out of the labyrinth of crates.

As Jordas emerged from between the crates he almost dove right back into them. There were lots of grownups standing around staring at him. The thing that stopped his retreat was the angel. She had turned around at the entrance with her arms outstretched. When she saw him, she gathered him to her, holding him like his Ma had held him when he was fearful.

“Jordas I would like you to meet the crew of Serenity. First, this is Mal. He is the captain.” Inara pointed to a nice looking man with brown hair.

Mal knelt down, looked him in the eye and said. “Now son, I just want it to be clear, so there’s no misunderstandings between us. I will not send you back to anyplace you don’t want to go. Ok?” Jordas nodded, hoping to believe this man.

Inara named all the crew members standing around the cargo bay. Lastly, she came to the doctor.

“Jordas, this is Simon. Simon’s a doctor. Do you know what that is?” Jordas nodded. His Ma had taken him to the doctor when he was small. “Simon would like to look you over and make sure you are healthy, is that ok?” Jordas nodded again.

“Will you come with me?” Jordas whispered

“Of course, let’s follow Simon to the infirmary.”

*****

Thirty minutes later Simon had finished looking Jordas over. The entire time, he hadn’t let go of Inara’s hand, and she stayed there with him, cuddling him as the doctor poked and prodded.

“Jordas, you are growing very well for a boy your age.” Simon said as he had finished. “Although, it looks like you’ve not had a whole lot to eat recently. Is that correct?” The boy nodded. There was never enough to eat in the mines.

“Well let’s take care of that right now.” Inara took his hand and led him up to the dining room. Before Jordas had even sat down Sara had a big plate of pancakes and a bowl of fruit sitting in front of him. Inara had a bowl of fruit as well. As he looked around, most all the people he had met this morning were just finishing their breakfast and leaving to go to their various activities, all except for Mal and Zoë. They were taking their time finishing their breakfast.

“Son,” the captain said, trying to put him at ease. “Our River, she can tell things about people. So I know you’ve been through a world a hurt. I know you probably don’t want to talk about it. You probably don’t even want to think about it. But if I am gong to help you, I need you to answer some things for me.” Inara reached out and held his hand. It reminded him of his Ma, she would want him to answer the captain.

“River says you want more than anything to get back to you Ma? You know what planet you’re from?” The captain spoke in the most reassuring tones he could manage.

“Ganimex” Jordas whispered.

“Ganimex, good job son. Now, do you know the name of the planet you escaped from?”

This time Jordas shook his head and began to cry again. “It’s ok, son. River said you were waiting your turn for something. Were there other kids working there?” Jordas nodded.

“Were all the kids taken from their homes like you?” Again Jordas nodded but this time he added. “But some of the boys, they had run away and were living on the streets. They said that the mines were at least warm, even if it was dangerous. That’s why Cord and Zane never left. They said it was better to help the little ones than running around on the streets of some moon.” Zoë and Mal both filed those names away for later.

I want you to tell me as much as you can about this place; I want to see if I recognize it.”

Jordas took a deep breath and felt Inara squeeze his hand. He told them about the horrible day he had been grabbed while fishing near his home. He talked about the mines, how the ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng had just thrown him in and shut the gates. He told them about the cave-ins and the sink holes that made it so scary. He talked about his friends and the two older boys who had figured out how to get kids out of the mines and back home. He told them about the black crumbly rocks that they had to dig up all day. And how sometimes, if you crumbled them just so, you could find the clear sparklies inside.

Finally, Inara decided that he had done enough talking. She caught Mal’s eye and stood up.

“Jordas, I believe I promised you a tour of the bridge.” She took the small hand in hers and led him out of the dining room.

After he left, Zoë turned to Mal gave him a long stare. “I know what you’re thinking, sir.”

“Oh yeah, and what would that be?”

“You’re thinking you want to rescue some of those kids and see them home.”

“Can’t see doing otherwise.”

“Yup.”

Just then Sara stepped back into the room. “Just so you know I was listening earlier. He and Kaless are up there pretending to steer the ship. I never knew autopilot was such a good babysitter. So…. River is up there rambling on about good deeds saving the soul. What do you think? The diamond mines in the Luneus Belt?”

“That’s what I’m thinking.” Zoë just nodded her head.

Chapter 2

COMMENTS

Monday, August 21, 2006 6:17 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Big Damn Heroes to the Big Damn Rescue!

:D

Loving this new mini-series, desertgirl, and the OCs so far are great! Definitely liked how Sara's comment about Inara trying to help Jordas make Mal take stock of how he treats Inara concerning her job. River and Sara really need to team up to help solve crew problems more often;)

BEB

Monday, November 6, 2006 12:09 PM

KELKHIL


Just read the second part and there was no place for a comment. I guess that this will have to do for both Chapters.

Excelent work! I felt like I was truley back in the 'Verse with The BDHs and some new Heroes as well.

You really capture the Characters with you words. Hopefully there are many more Chapters to follow!

Monday, September 17, 2007 5:46 PM

BROWNCOAT2007


Damn woman... fine writeing this Makes me feel as if the 'verse has never left us... and BDH's to the BDR yet again, eh? *cocks a shotgun* Once more into the breach my friends *gives a devil may care smirk and follows his Cap'n to lay some justice down on the hun dan slavers what are makeing kids work in a diamond mine*


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