Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 3
Sunday, October 1, 2006

In which Dex gets a second chance, Mariah gets a better offer, and Saul gets something else entirely.


Mariah's eyes flitted up as a shadow fell across the page, and the momentary flare of hope left her. The young doctor didn't seem to notice. "Sorry, am I disturbing you?" "No. What is it, doctor?" "Leo, please." She nodded listlessly. He cleared his throat. "So…what are you reading?" She held up the cover for him to see. "Leaves of Grass. One of my favorites." "I didn't know you liked Earth-That-Was poetry." "Well, I didn't like reading it in school…" Mariah smiled slightly, "but it's a good way to pass the time." "Well, I have nothing better to do, anyway." "On that subject, I…" The debutante looked up into his eyes, and Leo promptly forgot what he was planning on saying. "Well, that is…the Captain says we're all free to take our ease and…if you wanted to stretch your legs, I was going to take a walk around the inside of this…wonderful…asteroid." "Meteor." "Right." Mariah cast a glance down at the book, then back up at Leo, smiling, in her door frame. "Sure. Why not?" Dex caught his first glimpse of her through the decorative lattice of empty wine bottles that topped one of the counters bordering the workers' cantina, and his breath caught in his throat. She looked exactly the same. Woof elbowed him in the side, and he realized he was staring. "Well, go on. She been waitin' two years to see you, boy." The mechanic flashed him a grin and stepped into the saloon. Carmen was facing the bar, and didn't see him when his arm hooked around her waist. "Xi ji…" In retrospect, it had probably been a mistake to assume that she'd recognize his voice after two years. Dex considered this just before he hit the ground and Carmen's fist completed its arc. Luckily, Carmen thought to look down as she raised her heel into the air, and it stopped before it impacted Dex's nose. "Oh my god…Carl?" "No, you're right. That was a bad idea, forgot how easy you spook." Dex winced as Carmen offered her hand and helped him teeter to his feet. "Thought Rooster taught you not to hit a man with a closed…" His words died as her lips crushed against his, her arms wrapping his head. When she finally pulled away, Dex let out a slow breath and Carmen smiled. "Hi." "So what is it that makes you so enthusiastic to be out here on the border?" Leo turned his head as they walked. "How do you mean?" Mariah shrugged. "Well, your uncle came out here to get away from the tong, Daphne came out here to get away from her House…but you seem so thrilled to have had your life uprooted." Leo chuckled. "You know…when I was a kid, I always loved frontier stories. Books, vidshows…it always just seemed so adventurous out here, so…wild. This big, black wilderness just waiting for someone to come along and tame it." "And that would be you…" "Well of course, I'm a big shiny hero." Mariah chuckled. "So wait, what about you? You never did tell me why you're all the way out here." "No, I didn't." Leo arched his eyebrows. "And…" Mariah glanced up at him and sighed. "My parents decided to run my life, so I decided to run from it." Leo nodded, but didn't take his eyes off her. "I get the distinct impression there's something you're not telling me." "Do you?" Mariah smiled and picked up her pace, leaving Leo shaking his head as he hustled to keep up. Jubil flipped onto her back, and Mona cooed appreciatively as her fingers crawled out to tickled the kitten's belly. "Oh, you are just so darling, mao mei." The cat let out a short meow. "Yes you are. Yeah." Jubil's ears swiveled toward the door into the common room, then the cat rolled back to her feet. Mona looked up. "Oh, hey, Saul. You wanna pet the kitty?" "No thank you, I'm happy with my current number of fleas." "Cheng wei he li, Jubil don't have fleas." "Mighta picked up some o' yours." Mona shot him a look of mock pain, then turned back to the cat. "What do you think, Jubil, should we put your new litter box in Saul's room? Would you like that?" "You know I'd be careful bringin' that animal in here, all these pots and pans and spices around…" "You wouldn't." "Can't remember the last time we had real meat…" Mona hugged the cat to her. "Saul, that ain't funny!" The cook sighed. "Cap'n's got me doin' the rounds. Said I's supposed to ask if you wanna come." "After you insulted my cat? I don't think so. Not unless you ask me real nice." Mona's smile of smug satisfaction faded as Saul shrugged and walked back into the aft corridor. "No, wait, Saul, I wanna come…wait up…" "So, how long you been here, I mean…Woof didn't fill me in on the details…" "It was 'bout six months back. Every once in a while, th' Alliance makes a big show of findin' a slave owner and makin' 'em shut down. Mister Guil got most of his land taken away, too. A couple of us stayed on as tenant farmers, like Rooster, but everyone else left to seek their fortunes. All told, place is about a sixth the size it once was." Dex shook his head. "Ah, that's too bad. I mean, the Guils really were nice folk." "Nice folk? Carl, they owned us." "Ain't never said it was right, and never will, but…things I seen out in the black, last two years…life of a farmhand—" "—slave hand—" "—seems like a pretty comfy alternative." Carmen eyed him, and broke into a smile. "Ever the homebody. You haven't changed one bit, Carl Dexter." "Yeah, so they keep tellin' me." "'Cept you're a big fancy starship mechanic now." Dex grinned. "Yeah, well…Artemis ain't really a starship so much as a jian bao diao ke pin…but the mechanic point's true enough." Dex shook his head. "I love that boat." "Yeah, I noticed your eyes lightin' up. What's so special about that Firefly?" "Well…it's like it's the reason I got off Beaumonde in the first place, was just to track down this ship. Made my best friends since…well, since you all, on her. She…she's freedom." Carmen smiled softly and shook her head. "Nope. Not one bit." Saul swung the empty bag awkwardly over his shoulder as he loped down the corridor. It was more or less deserted, and by the time he was halfway between the docks and his destination, there was no one else in view. Then there was. "Excuse me, sir. Might I trouble you for a moment?" Saul squinted—it was difficult to make out the man's face in the half-light of the mine. "Yan." Saul thought he could see the man smile. "Am I right in assuming that you've come off the Firefly that just docked here?" Saul didn't like this one bit. The arm with the bag stayed still, but the other began to edge toward his knife. "Well enough." The cook was fairly certain the man was smiling. "Good." Saul didn't see the gun in the man's hand—he couldn't even register what had was happening before the bullet hit his stomach.



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Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 6
In which, for once, everyone gets exactly what they deserve.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 5
In which Rachel surprises Daphne and Sir Anderson surprises everyone.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 4
In which the plan goes off without a hitch—except for the hitch. And the other hitch.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 3
In which the plan gets underway.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 2
In which a plan comes together, however creepifying a process it may be.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 1
In which the crew of Artemis gets a job that looks a little too familiar…

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 6
In which the truth comes out.

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 5
In which Saul, Dex, and Mariah's days all get significantly worse.

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 4
In which Dex and Daphne each get a chance to relfect.

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 3
In which Dex gets a second chance, Mariah gets a better offer, and Saul gets something else entirely.