BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

SHINYTRINKET

NOTHIN' IN THE VERSE - PART I: Chapter 10
Monday, September 11, 2006

Takes place after "War Stories". Mal is having trouble sleeping after being tortured. A passenger aboard Serenity discovers an old friend - and makes a new one.-------CHAPTER 10: Inara tells Mal what she thinks and the crew plan a job.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1463    RATING: 8    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimers: Everything belongs to Joss, except for one character of my creation.

**Mousing over the Chinese should reveal the English translations on most browsers. If not, translations follow the story. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “Mal, I am so sorry.” Inara looked anxious as she followed Mal through the cargo bay, up the stairs and into the dining area. “I was told it was just transport—I’m sorry to get you into something complicated.” “Inara, really, it’s no problem,” Mal insisted in his attempt to reassure her. He turned, put both hands on her shoulders, and looked into her eyes. “This is what we do. Why are we still talkin’ about this?” Inara continued to look worried. “I know it’s what you do,” she replied. “But, Mal—I misrepresented the situation, and I feel badly about that.” Mal turned and continued into the kitchen, grabbed a cup and poured himself some coffee. “You can’t help it your source withheld certain information from you,” he said. “It’ll be fine; we just need to work out the details.” Inara hesitated, started to say something, then stopped. “What?” Mal inquired, seeds of impatience beginning to stir. “Well, I—” Inara hesitated again, then plunged ahead. “I don’t think...Mal, you’re not yourself right now, and I don’t know if it’s a good time for you to take on this job.” The words came out in a rush, and then Inara stood silent, waiting for the inevitable ornery objection. It came. “What...not...whaddya talkin’ about, not myself? I’m...shiny...and any time we need money, which is always, is the right time to take a job!” He snorted and looked away, mumbled something in Chinese, sipped his coffee, and then said, also to himself, “Again, with everybody makin’ a fuss!” Inara moved around so she was in his line of sight. “Mal, listen,” she pleaded. “You look exhausted. You’re pale, you’re irritable, and Kaylee says you’re not sleep—” ”Kaylee’s a...I’m puttin’ an ad out for a mechanic and tossin’ Kaylee off this gorram ship!” Mal cried, the irritability making itself plainly apparent. “You are doing no such thing, and you know it!” Inara shouted back. “Now stop being such a stubborn hou zi de pi gu before you go off and get yourself killed!” She marched off toward her shuttle, leaving Mal staring after her in bewilderment, then stopped and turned back. “Listen to the doctor, and the nurse, and everyone else who can plainly see what’s going on and get some sleep. You look like gou shi .” She walked away.

-----------------

The meeting that morning between Inara’s acquaintance and Mal had gone a little differently than Mal had anticipated. Mal and Zoë had accompanied Inara to meet the potential client, who had an office near the Verbena docks. Inara made the introduction then left Mal and Zoë to make the deal and work out the details. The contact’s name was Lonnie Pearl, a businessman (who was nonspecific about what his business actually was) from Verbena who was a friend of one of Inara’s clients. He was, at best, a brief acquaintance of Inara’s, since she had laid eyes on him exactly one time before, during a party her client threw on Paquin. “So Inara tells me you need some merchandise moved off-planet?” Mal said as they sat in Pearl’s cramped office with an ancient ceiling fan creaking overhead. Mal, worn out from another sleepless night, felt lightheaded in the small, humid space. “Yes, a shipment of goods needs to be transported to Three Hills and delivered...here.” Pearl pushed a small scrap of paper across the desk to Mal, who picked it up, looked it over and pocketed it. “Sounds easy enough,” Mal said. “You got the shipment, we can get started anytime.” Pearl, a small, rather nervous-looking man who looked far too neat for the claustrophobic, cluttered office that he occupied, slid back a panel on the surface of his desk, exposing a Cortex monitor and a CAD Board underneath. He input some numbers and the monitor whirred to life; a couple more, and a planetary map appeared on the screen. “Here’s where you’ll find the goods,” he told Mal and Zoë, pointing to a small moon near Verbena. “There’s not much in the way of civilization there, but there is a small post station where shipments lay over before being picked up by long-haul transports and taken to their final destinations. Here.” Pearl touched on the screen, zooming in on the moon’s coordinates. “This is where you’ll find my shipment.” Mal and Zoë exchanged glances. “So...” Mal began, his weary mind attempting to sort out what Pearl was telling them, “The stuff ain’t here...it’s on a moon...and it’s in an Alliance post station waiting to be picked up by an Alliance transport on the next Alliance delivery day?” Pearl was nodding. “So this ain’t just a simple transport job?” Pearl shrugged. “Simple enough, really. The shipment just needs to be, uh—liberated—shall we say from where it’s currently residing.” Mal sighed and looked at Zoë again, who wore the expression of one who’d stepped in something unsavory and was unsure what to do about it. He turned back to Pearl. “I’m sorry to seem a little asea about all this,” he said, “But Inara told us you needed goods transported, that’s all.” “Which is the case.” “It seems to me there’s a mite more to it than that.” “Inara said you were the man I should come to. Is that so, or not?” “What exactly did Inara say?” Mal pressed. “She said if it was petty thievin’ and smugglin’ I was looking to do, Malcolm Reynolds was my man.” Mal considered that for a moment and then chuckled. “Well, it’s good to know she’s speakin’ well of me.” He sighed resignedly and leaned forward to get a closer look at the screen. “So, tell me what we need to know to get this job done.”

-----------------

That’s how the morning’s events had gone, which led to Inara’s apology for misleading Mal, which had then—somehow—come around and ended with Inara telling Mal he looked like crap. Mal voiced his dismay at that series of events as the crew pulled up to the dining table to work out the details of the job. “‘It’s just a transport job’, she tells me,” he groused to the others. “Now we gotta lift stuff from an Alliance station in order to get the job done, AND she tells me I look like crap? How d’ya like that?” “You do look like crap, sir,” Zoë said. Mal froze, coffee cup halfway to his lips. “What?” “Pardon me for sayin’ it, sir, but you do. You look like you ain’t slept in a fortnight. I thought you’s gonna drop in Pearl’s office this morning.” Mal looked around the table, at all eyes on him. “What the hell!” he exclaimed, slamming his cup down on the table. Coffee rained down around him. “What is this, some kinda intervention?” He fixed Kaylee with a steely glare. “You!” He pointed at her. Kaylee’s eyebrows flew up in surprise. “Wha’d I do?” “You and your worry-wortin’s got everybody makin’ a fuss over me. Give it a rest!” Kaylee looked stunned and hurt. “I didn’t say nothin’ to nobody!” she cried in self-defense. “She’s right, Mal.” Jayne suddenly spoke up. “We all got eyes, don’t need her to tell us what we can plainly see.” Wo de tian, a! Mal thought. If Jayne’s eyes can plainly see somethin’, then things really ain’t right. “Okay...well,” Mal stumbled a little, trying to get himself under control. He turned to Kaylee. “Kaylee, I apologize for snapping at you,” he said slowly and deliberately. Then he addressed the table as a whole. “You all are right,” he said. “I ain’t been sleepin’ well. Got a lot on my mind. But havin’ a job and gettin’ some money comin’ in again will help my mind, and, thus, the rest of me, to sleep easier. So let’s get this job planned and underway. Dong le ma? ” Everyone nodded, though Kaylee was still clearly smarting. Simon gave her shoulder a squeeze, and she flashed him a grateful smile. “First thing,” Mal continued, “We’re on and off that rock as fast as we can be. Anyone not directly involved with gettin’ the goods stays on the ship. That means that Zoë, Jayne, myself and Kaylee are the only ones gettin’ off.” “Me?” Kaylee exclaimed, even more surprised to learn she would be directly involved. Mal produced a printout of the planetary map and coordinates. “Apparently, what we’re dealin’ with is a small post station that sits pretty much on its own on this little chunk of nothin’. Pearl says there’s a lot of tree cover, which can work to our purposes. He says the place rarely has a guard on weekends, which is, coincidentally, when we will be makin’ our pickup.” “How ‘bout surveillance?” Jayne asked. “Absolutely.” Mal produced a schematic of the station interior and spread it out before them. “Here”—he pointed to the print—“and here and here. Bullets should take care of the cameras, and we’ll be in and out before they can send anyone.” River suddenly spoke up. “There’s more’n you think,” she interjected. The whole table turned to look at her. “What?” Mal snapped, his testy tone returning. River looked down at the table. “More’n you think,” she repeated. Jayne scowled at Simon. “Shut her up, will ya?” he growled. “River—” Simon began, but River cut him off. She was smiling now, and beginning to giggle. “Jayne’s a girl’s name,” she snickered Jayne started out of his seat, and Shepard Book grabbed his arm. River looked up at him and smiled. “Don’t worry, girl, they’ll save you,” she said. “Enough of this joo fuen chse !” Mal barked. “We got work to do!” “How ‘bout entry, sir?” Zoë inquired, trying to refocus them. Mal smiled at her. “Glad you asked, Zoë, ‘cause that’s your job.” Zoë looked uncertain. “Place’ll be locked up, no doubt. There’s a vent shaft on the roof”—he pointed again to the print—“here. Your job is to get through that shaft, bein’ as how you’re the smallest among us, and let the rest of us in, preferably through the rear door, here. Jayne, you’re gonna give Zoë a boost up to the roof.” He pointed again. “Goods are stashed in this back room. Should be easy out the back door. Jayne, once Zoë’s in, she’ll let you in. You go in, help her find the cameras and knock ‘em out. Once the cameras are out and you’ve made sure no one else is about, you radio me; I’ll be outside with my earpiece in, watchin’ for trouble. I’ll call for Kaylee, who’ll come a’flyin’ like the wind on the mule. I’ll join you inside, we’ll load up the cargo and ourselves and be on our way back to the ship.” “What about me?” Wash complained. “My job to drive the mule, remember?” “Wash, you’re gonna stay on board, keep Serenity ready for a quick departure. You’re also gonna be our eyes.” Mal pulled out another printed page, a map of the terrain around the station. “There’s woods around the station, but beyond ‘em and behind is the dock. From there, you should be able to look out the cockpit window and see over the trees. You keep a watch for anyone comin’ from anywhere else. You see anyone, you radio me straightaway.” Wash nodded, although he looked disappointed. “Simon and River, I want you two out of sight. This is a backwater moon, but it’s also an Alliance post station, and better you two not be about.” Simon and River exchanged glances and Simon nodded his acquisition. “Book, you can be a second set of eyes in the cockpit. Might catch somethin’ Wash doesn’t.” Alex, who was sitting at the table with the rest, raised a tentative hand. They all chuckled at her schoolgirl gesture. “Yes?” Mal said. “Can I be in the cockpit with Wash and Book? Watch you all on the job?” Mal considered it a moment, and then shrugged. “Don’t see what it would hurt,” he agreed. He looked around the table. “Everyone set? Know what your functions are in this little operation?” Everyone nodded once again. “Good,” Mal said, satisfied. “Let’s go commit some crime!” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CHINESE: hou zi de pi gu = monkey’s butt gou shi = crap Wo de tian, a! = Dear God in heaven! Dong le ma? = Do we have an understanding? joo fuen chse = pool of pig droppings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Go to Chapter 11. Back to Chapter 9.

COMMENTS

Monday, September 11, 2006 4:36 AM

BORNTOFLY


yay! First post!

I sense some suspense ahead for our BDH's, which no doubt means that violence is going to ensue...I mean seriously, when does a job ever go smooth?

My Lord you are a fast poster, it's like Christmas everytime I log on...

Monday, September 11, 2006 5:22 AM

HEWHOKICKSALOT


Still lovin' it. Shiny as can be. Be careful, though. Mal wouldn't be so quick to apologize, at least not so eloquently. Oh, I love seeing you carrying on with River harassing Jayne. Good stuff!



"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you."

Rob O.

Monday, September 11, 2006 9:07 AM

AMDOBELL


Very good though I would have expected Inara to be much better at showing her reservations over the job than shouting at the Captain that he looked like crap. Way to go to get his back up and put him on the defensive which I'm guessing wasn't her intention. What happened to her womanly wiles? I don't like the sound of Pearl and worry that the little weasel might be setting them up. After all, Inara only met him in passing at a party - once - but he knows who she is and about Mal, does he know about the rest of the crew? This is very good and getting more and more exciting. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 3:31 PM

VAUGHN28


This is still good. Like how all the crew is admitting a problem, but I agree, I still don't think Mal would have apologized so quickly. Maybe groused a little more.

Friday, September 15, 2006 6:01 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...the fun that is bound to ensue with the job going sour;)

Definitely says something when Mal is so fuzzed up he'll snap at Kaylee and then apologize to her in the next breath. He needs help before he physically shuts down:(

BEB


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