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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Kaylee heads for Geller's junkyard and Jayne pays Red Annie a visit, seeking information for the revenge they're planning on Badger, but gang conflicts on the docks make for challenges.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 953 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Title: The Contract / Revenge 3/5
Disclaimer: Joss's toys, my make-believe. No money changed hands and all that.
Rating: PG-15 for adult language, sexual references.
Compliment to my story, THE CONTRACT. To read my other stories, click on my name above. This falls between "RED" and "Too Little, Too Late", post OIS, pre BDM.
Technical assistance from my very own bigbadman, with beta by the lovely Artemis_Prime. Italics indicate time and represent internal dialogue.
A little thoughtful feedback would make my day, folks. Thanks!
Four days later, back on Persephone…
Kaylee tip-toed from Jayne’s bunk in the wee hours of the morning to check on an odd vibration rattling the ventilation system. By the time she’d resolved the problem, her fellow crewmembers had consumed everything resembling breakfast except the dregs of the coffee. She poured the murky, dark liquid into a blue enameled cup and wandered over to where Mal, Jayne and Zoë still sat talking at the big table.
“’Mornin’, mei-mei.” Mal raised his mug to greet her and the other two chimed in. Noting her smudged face, he smiled. “Looks like you started work a bit earlier than the rest of us folk.”
“’Mornin’, Cap.” The mechanic nodded to her shipmates and slid into the seat next to Zoë, stifling a yawn.
“Yeah. Finally figured out what was makin’ that weird intermittent rattlin’ in the vent system. Piece of baffle had broke loose and was buzzin’ against the housing of the atmo-recirculator.”
“Well, that’s a nice piece a work! Confound thing was makin’ the damndest racket.” Mal finished the last swallow of his tea, pushed his chair back from the table and stood. “Zoë and I are gonna be makin’ sure this grain shipment gets loaded and delivered to our buyer. Since you got your work done early, why don’t you cut loose? Just keep your eyes open and be sure you’re back on board by nightfall. Don’t need to be wanderin’ around Eavesdown unescorted after dark.”
Mal pulled out his wallet and counted out a half-dozen bills into Jayne’s callused palm. “Now, just the ammo we agreed on. No grenades! You’ll pay less dealin’ with Withersby or the Houghton brothers, but watch the bungers don’t short you.”
He rinsed out his cup and turned it upside down to drain in the rack by the small sink. “You’re free once you get that taken care of, but be back on the boat by dark.”
“No ruttin’ way! You sayin’ I need an escort to be out on the town at night?” Looking at the captain’s dead serious expression, the mercenary smirked, “Then maybe I better take “Crazy” with me to keep me safe.”
Kaylee scolded, “Jayne, ain’t nice to be callin’ River names.”
“Well, it’s the truth.”
Mal looked over his shoulder at his mechanic. “He’s right on that one, darlin’. Girl’s definitely got some screws loose.” Turning back to Jayne he elaborated, “There’s been some gang trouble on the docks of late. No need you puttin’ yourself at risk right now.”
“Damnit, Mal, I can take care of myself just fine.”
“Might not want to mistake that for a suggestion.” Mal said quietly as he checked to be sure his pistol was fully loaded and holstered the gun. “Zoë? Let’s get a move on…”
As soon as the captain and first mate left the galley area, Jayne exploded, slamming his clenched fist down on the metal counter with a loud bang.
“Gorram stupid sonuvabitch! I get sick a all his fei hua, treatin’ me like I ain’t got shit for brains.”
Kaylee cringed, “But he’s the captain, Jayne, and it’s his job to make sure we stay safe.”
“Ain’t that what the hell he hired me for?” the big man growled angrily. “It’s like he’s sayin’ I can’t even do my ruttin’ job!”
Startled wide dark eyes stared back at him.
Seeing Kaylee’s anxious expression, the merc reined himself in. “I’m sorry, babygirl. Ain’t got no business goin’ off on you when I’m pissed at Mal.”
She looked at him warily, sidelong, her hands lightly resting on her hips. “You’re right about that.”
Kaylee stood up to clean her mug and when she passed the mercenary, he slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her close. As it always did, Jayne’s massive presence and protectiveness encompassed her and she softened against him, feeling the tension leave him as they embraced.
“Apology accepted,” she said softly and stood on tip-toes to lightly kiss his full mouth.
“Mmm.” Jayne smiled at her gently. “I’m gonna head on over to Clementine’s after I get Mal’s shoppin’ done,” he told her, “and see what Annie might know about who Badger’s been dealin’ with.”
Kaylee leaned back and looked up into the merc’s blue eyes. “Thought I’d go dig around over at Geller’s Junkyard and see if I can come up with a delivery system for our ‘project’. Gotta come up with the dye we need, too. Gel might have some ideas. He knows about all kinds a stuff.”
“Smart girl. You just make sure you keep your eyes sharp for trouble, darlin’. You see anything looks like a fracas between the Kengs and Badger’s goons or the Dragon Clan, get your sweet li’l ass straight back to Serenity, dong ma?”
Kaylee’s eyes twinkled with mischief as she took in the merc’s paternal tone.
Gus Geller and Kaylee Frye had a friendship of long standing, based on mutual respect and affection. In many ways, Gel, who ran Eavesdown Docks’ main junkyard, was like the grandfather Kaylee never knew. He’d worked many years as a master machinist on the docks before purchasing the junk business from the previous owner. Widowed for nearly ten years and with his daughters all grown and gone, the old man had become quite fond of the cheery little mechanic whose innate talent and skill kept Malcolm Reynolds’ battered Firefly in the Black.
A quick double knock at his door brought old Gel up out of the rickety wooden rolling chair at his desk. It was rare that Kaylee didn’t stop by for a cup of coffee and a chat or to scrounge parts if Serenity was in port. When he opened the door, a warm armful of overall-clad girl gave him a big hug and a smooch on his leathery old cheek. Gus chuckled and held Kaylee at arms’ length.
“You’re a might more sober than th’ last time I saw you, gal. Come on in the house – got coffee in the pot and just made some muffins this mornin’. They’re apple and not half bad. You know where everything is.”
In truth, next to Serenity, Gel’s place was as close to home as Kaylee had known since hiring on with Mal three years before. She filled a cup and took one of the muffins that sat nearby, covered with a towel, lifting it to her nose.
“Mmmm, they smell wonderful, Gel.”
“Not bad cookin’ for an old geezer, huh?” Gel sat back down in his chair. His arthritis made it increasingly difficult for him to get about. “Glad to see that big friend o’ yours got you back to your ship all safe. I can’t imagine what you couldda done to have some thug out tryin’ to kill you, Kaylee.”
“It’s a long story…” she began, as she sat down near the old man and began her tale.
After acquiring the ammunition Mal wanted and hauling it back to the ship, Jayne set out across Eavesdown to the up-scale bordello named Clementine’s after the former owner. As always, the current madam, Red Annie, greeted her old friend with an affectionate hug. The elegantly dressed woman smiled at Jayne appreciatively – he had once been her favorite client, and for good reason. She knew he was happy with his present lover, the young mechanic on his ship, and her once passionate relationship with the merc had evolved into a warm friendship.
“Have you had any lunch yet, you bottomless pit?” she teased the big man. Red Annie knew well the intensity of his appetite for all sorts of pleasures.
Jayne doffed his hat. “Good to see ya, Annie. You’re looking fine as ever. Lunch’d be great. I et early an’ it wore off a couple hours ago.”
The rubenesque red-head led him to a table at the back of the bordello’s saloon where they could talk discretely and enjoy their lunch. Annie nodded to Zhang Li, the old Chinese man who was her long-time cook and housekeeper, and he disappeared into the back of the establishment to return shortly with hot and sour soup and steaming egg rolls as well as a pot of freshly made tea.
While Jayne inhaled his meal, Annie asked him about his relationship with Kaylee and was pleased to hear they were still involved. “She’s a sweet kid, Jayne. Really. She’ll be good for you, and I don’t begrudge her a bit.”
The merc’s mouth was full of egg roll, but he raised one eyebrow skeptically.
“Okay, maybe I’m a little envious, “Annie revised and chuckled, “but we both know this is for the best.” She sipped her tea. “Now how about you and Mr. Badger? Any more fallout over you killin’ his man? Word’s got ‘round you wrecked the place over at Curtis Street and left Liza’s face a mess.”
Jayne swallowed his mouthful. “Served the bitches right, pullin’ crap like that.
"Don't know if Badger's got the brains t'figure on it bein' me who took out Raj.”
Seeing that Annie hadn’t yet touched her eggrolls, he nodded at the neglected food and asked, “You want ‘em?”
Annie chuckled. “Go ahead. You always were insatiable.”
A big hand grabbed the extra eggrolls from Annie’s plate and Jayne proceeded to tell Annie about the plan he and Kaylee had concocted to take revenge on the little man for accepting a contract on Kaylee’s life.
“We gotta make sure that Badger’s th’ one opens the package. Best way to do that is address it so’s he’ll think it’s from one of his main dealers.”
“Makes sense to me,” Annie replied.
“I figured you’d probably know more about the li’l hún dàn’s business than anybody on the docks, an’ that we can trust ya to keep mum.”
“Oh, I got plenty of reasons of my own to enjoy seeing that ugly little man humiliated, not the least of which is the way his boys treat my staff. Let me do some discrete inquiry, Jayne, an’ I’ll get word to you. How long will Serenity be in port?”
The big merc scoured his plate for every crumb, set his soup bowl aside and reached for the unfinished portion of Annie’s soup. “Couple a days, maybe. Depends on what work Mal can scrounge up.” He slurped down the remainder and chased it with another cup of tea.
“An’ by the way, Annie, thanks again for all you did for Kaylee an’ me. You was real kind. Made for a night ain’t neither of us likely to ferget.”
“My pleasure, you big galoot. I’ll have a runner bring some names for you by sunset tomorrow.”
The old junk man leaned back in his chair and fiddled with his pen, his gnarled hands expressing his agitation and disgust. “That there Badger feller didn’t have no business sending one a his hired men out to harm you, Kaylee, and I wound up having to clean up afterwards, something I didn’t enjoy, I can assure you. Ain’t like the only time I ever found a dead man in my yard, but it ain’t never pleasant. Always sticky question from the authorities.”
Gel put the pen on his desk and interlaced his knobby fingers across his paunch. “I don’t blame the mercenary for killin’ that thug or the both of ya for wantin’ some revenge. Hell, I’ll do whatever I can to help.” He leaned forward. “Tell me what you got in mind.”
Kaylee quickly described what she and Jayne hoped to do.
Gus Geller laughed heartily. “You and that big friend of yours got a good idea, there, Kaylee. Between you and me, I feel sure we can scrounge around, do some tinkerin’, an’ come up with a pressurized container that’ll do what you got in mind.”
The girl leaned close and her brown eyes twinkled as she revealed, “He ain’t just my friend, Gel. Him an’ me’s sweeties!” The color rose in her full cheeks. “Jayne’s a right rare handful, but he’s real good to me. Kisses great. He’s real protective, too. We just had us a misunderstandin’ that day, but everything’s shiny now.”
Gel’s white eyebrows rose and his lined face crinkled into a wide grin. “Bet you give him a run fer his money, child. I’m glad he makes ya happy.” The old man leaned his hands on his knees and tipped his head in thought. “Before we go buildin’ anything, best know what we’re gonna fill it with.”
“Well,” Kaylee mused, “it needs to be something with low viscosity that’s near impossible to clean off, like a permanent dye or stain. Jayne said best of all would be if we could come up with something pink, bein’ as Badger’s so prissy about how he looks. Ought to embarrass the li’l weasel right thoroughly.”
The old man thought for a minute. “Got a friend runs a cannery t’other end of the docks. They use a bright pink permanent ink to mark the date of manufacture and lot number on the bottoms of the cans. Law says they gotta. I don’t know what the stuff’s comprised of, but it stays on metal all through the final packing, pasteurization and then when the goods is shipped out. I’ll talk with him for you, see what I can find out. If it sounds like what we need, I’ll see if I can get some for ya. Any chance you can pop by tomorrow mid-day?”
Kaylee stood. “Unless my captain has us ship back out awful fast, I don’t see why not.” She leaned over and smooched Gus Geller on the cheek. “Thanks, Gel. Glad we got your help.” With that, the girl headed toward the door, then smiled back over her shoulder. “An’ thanks for the coffee and muffins!”
Kaylee headed back through the warren of streets and alleys that made up the Eavesdown Dock community. It was mid-afternoon and hot.
Shouldda worn something lighter. What’s comfortable on ship ain’t always so on the street.
The girl took a clip out of one of her overall pockets and twisted the mass of her chestnut hair up off her neck and fastened it, then fanned herself. She unzipped the sleeveless olive-drab protective garment and shrugged out of the top half, rolling it down around her hips. Her brightly patterned knit tank top stopped just above her waist and she felt a lot more comfortable with one less layer of clothing around her torso.
The dockside community was always a rat’s nest of street vendors, repair and welding shops, and other businesses catering to the needs of the ships that visited. In every direction Kaylee could see folk of every color and culture, and the smells of a wide variety of foods, charcoal smoke, unwashed humanity and dust swirled through the narrow streets. Even with regular patrols by Alliance guards, Eavesdown remained the grungy underbelly of Persephone, a troublesome necessity.
Down the street, she noticed a fruit vendor and made her way through the chaos to see what the woman had for sale. There were small pears and locally grown apples and a few sad, battered melons that clearly came from elsewhere. After dickering with the vendor over price, Kaylee finally selected an apple that seemed reasonably free of scab and bruising and paid in coin.
The little mechanic continued on her way back to Serenity. Occupied with polishing the yellow and red-streaked fruit on her overall leg, the girl was oblivious to the four young men until they surrounded her. As their shadows fell across her, Kaylee glanced up.
Their dark hair was drawn back into long braids and all four were dressed in black pajamas trimmed in red. In addition to their red headbands, the men bore the distinctive facial tattoos of the Dragon Clan, Persephone’s most powerful underground crime family.
“Uh… ‘scuse me…” Kaylee’s voice quavered. “I need to get by, please.”
The tallest, obviously the leader by his carriage, crossed his arms as he stood facing her and looked at her impassively. “I think not.”
The Dragon Clan specialized in both slavery and illegal drugs, and had withstood the Alliance’s repeated efforts to eradicate their network of goons, runners, dealers and soldiers. If what Kaylee had heard was true, even Badger feared the Dragons, although on occasion, he acted as a middleman for their illicit products.
Mal and Jayne had both warned her just that morning of an increase in gang activity and here she was, having been so careless as to stumble right into the midst of it.
Oh shit. This ain’t good… ain’t even carryin’ my pistol…
Kaylee’s dark eyes darted back and forth, looking for a way out. The four young men stepped closer, like cats gathered ‘round a mouse. Kaylee could hear the rising babble of the crowd. Her stomach churned and she began to tremble.
“Uh, if it’s m-money ya want, I got a little and you can h-have it all. How’s that?”
Outside the circle formed by the gang members, other people, sensing imminent trouble, began to back away.
“I think, “ said Tall, the faintest of smiles playing across his mouth, “that we will have your money and you, as well.”
Up ahead in the street, Jayne could see some sort of disturbance and craned his neck for a better view. The crowd had formed a milling circle around something, and the big mercenary wanted to know what. Taller than most folk in the market by a good six inches or more, Jayne could see a cluster of dark heads around one lighter one.
Don’t know what they’re up to, but them’s Dragons and it can’t be good…
As the gang closed on their intended victim, a cry rang out, and Jayne’s stomach knotted. The voice was Kaylee’s.
(To be continued… 3/5)
Friday, September 8, 2006 2:32 PM
Saturday, September 9, 2006 5:18 AM
Saturday, September 9, 2006 3:44 PM
Saturday, September 9, 2006 4:40 PM
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