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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Khiloh's son is still fighting for life, and much to Wash and Mal's dismay some of the other prisoners decide to try an escape attempt.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 862 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“So. News?” asked Mal softly. Khiloh looked like he’d been fighting a war; his eyes were bloodshot and weary, his posture limp and uncoordinated. Mal imagined he hadn’t gotten any sleep since they’d talked the evening before. There was a faint look of hope on his exhausted face as he raised his head.
“He’s still alive.” Khiloh leaned against the gate for support, his eyes drifting momentarily closed. “He’s still alive,” he muttered in a daze.
“That’s good,” said Wash, reaching through the gate and rubbing his exhausted friend’s shoulder comfortingly.
“They found it,” said Khiloh, forcing his eyes open. “What’s wrong – they said they found what’s wrong with him.” He fell silent.
“Yes?” prompted Wash.
“Huh?” said Khiloh, blinking. “Oh, uh, sorry. Uh, sleepy virus. I mean – oh, guys, I’m sorry. I can’t talk.”
“Hey, it’s okay,” said Wash. “Those sleepy viruses can be nasty.” There was a gently understanding grin on his face.
Khiloh chuckled. “I – got the can’t talk straight virus.” His face sobered. “My son’s got something the doctors never seen before, um, some new virus. They’re synafiz – synsatiz – synthesizing an antiviral for it right now.”
“And – they can save him with that?” asked Mal.
Khiloh nodded. “If –“ he closed his eyes, his voice breaking. “If they can keep him alive that long.” He was crumpled against the fence, completely unguarded. Today there was no energy for joking around about escapes; the young man was far too exhausted.
He lifted his head in a daze. “They need to keep him alive- need to keel – keep – him alive for another day, until its ready. If he lives until then, the – stuff – will save him.”
“That’s good,” said Mal, echoing Wash’s words. “Very good. So – when are these tā māde niao goushi duī employing you gonna realize you’re half dead, let you take a day off? You’re in no shape to be here.”
Khiloh just nodded silently, and Mal and Wash exchanged pained looks. Khiloh pulled his frame upright with obvious effort and looked at them through reddened eyes. “Better go walk around. I – can’t stay awake, standing still.”
Mal nodded and squeezed Khiloh’s hand. “You need us, we’re – here. Obviously, I guess. But you know what I mean.” Khiloh nodded, meeting Mal’s gaze with incredible gratitude. He looked close to tears, but he forced a smile and walked away in a daze.
Mal and Wash retreated to the inside of the housing unit, depressed. An expose of corruption in the corrugated plastics industry was playing on the cortex screen, and they flopped down on their bunks, choosing to focus on its mind-numbing boredom. It numbed Mal’s mind with remarkable effectiveness, and he soon drifted off to sleep.
He awoke to Wash shaking his arm, a concerned look on his face. Wash jerked his head in the direction of the other four men, huddled in intense conversation in the other side of the room. There appeared to be an argument brewing, and unusually enough it wasn’t between Gray and Straaker; Matty and Zeke seemed to be facing off against the two of them.
Mal rolled his head to the side and looked questioningly at Wash. “They found out about Khiloh!” Wash whispered urgently. “They want to try to take him hostage and escape.”
Mal jerked upright, scrambling to his feet and racing over to the huddled group, unaware of Wash’s waving and pointing to his head. Mal’s hair was rumpled from sleep, and a wave of it was sticking straight up on the top of his head. It made him look less than authoritative, to say the least.
Matty looked pleadingly at Mal. “Please, please help me talk sense into these nuts? We don’t need to escape, and we most certainly don’t need to do it by taking advantage of the nicest guy in this place.”
“We most certainly don’t,” said Mal.
Straaker glared at him. “It’s our duty to escape, and I don’t know about you, but I’m more’n a little tired of being locked in this rathole.”
“Much as it pains me to agree with our most rutting unesteemed leader here, I do,” said Gray. “We get even one slightest little opportunity to stick it to these bastards, I’m in.”
“No,” said Mal flatly.
Straaker raised his eyebrows. “No?” he asked incredulously. “When did it become your decision, mister Sergeant Sir?”
Mal ignored the barb. “I’m not entirely certain you two have eyes, but if you did, you’d have noticed this place is on the large side. There’s no way you’re making it out of here, even of you do have a gun to the guy’s head. Not to mention, there’s no compelling reason to break out in the first place.”
“Excuse me,” said Wash. “Am I the only one who thinks this is a really bad idea? Oh, wait – I’m not!”
Gray snorted. “The whole being a prisoner of the Alliance thing sits just fine with you, does it? Mister bad hair day?”
“Not hardly,” said Mal. “But risking death and punishment and the like to escape from a place we’re more or less safe in, when they’re fixing to let us go of their own free will anyway? Wouldn’t call it one of the brighter notions.”
He blinked in confusion at the latter part of Gray’s remark and ran his hand through his hair. Finding the errant tuft, he opted to shove the rest of it upright to match. The resulting expression on Wash’s face was something he’d willingly have paid honest credits to see, and he grinned.
“This is Khiloh you’re talking about!” yelled Zeke Hamilton. “And he’s going through hell! You want to put a gun in his face? You want to do something he wouldn’t do to one of us in a million years? No thanks!”
“He’s a prison guard,” said Gray coldly. “If he’s stupid enough to forget that, that’s not my problem. He’s a nice guy, fine. We won’t hurt him. But I’m not passing up an opportunity just because I have some sort of lovey-dovey crush on the guy.”
Mal’s jaw was set, his eyes blazing in fury and all amusement forgotten. “You need to be shot,” he said bluntly. “Failing that, you’re not getting within two yards of that young man.”
Straaker grabbed Mal’s shoulders and glared directly into his eyes, blithely unaware of the seething anger within them. “You will do nothing. You go out there and stop us, you do one little thing to warn him, I’m taking that as the act of a traitor. You will obey my commands, dong ma?”
Wash had been hanging back at the outskirts of the group, a horrified expression on his face. He reached forward and grabbed Straaker’s arm, pulling him back. “Take it easy, would-“ His words were cut off as Straaker whirled around and shoved him hard against the wall.
Straaker looked at the shocked group with satisfaction. “Anyone that wants to do this, with me. The rest of you, stay inside and keep your mouths shut.” He and Gray strode out the door, and Mal rolled his eyes and followed uneasily. He wanted act, but his military training was telling him not to disobey direct orders, especially not when it involved bringing harm to his own men. His heart sank as he saw Khiloh standing a mere five yards from the gate.
He took a deep breath and called out. “Turn this around, now.” He cursed in Chinese under his breath, frustrated as much by the uncertainty reflected in his voice as by the situation itself.
Wash had emerged beside him, and he joined in. “Please, stop!” he said urgently.
“Hey, come here a sec!” called Straaker to Khiloh, his voice cheerful.
Khiloh started to wander towards the gate, and Mal’s heart sank. He knew what he had to do, but that didn’t make it any easier ignoring everything he was supposed to be loyal to. He yelled out forcefully, “Khiloh, stay back!”
Khiloh looked startled, but he stopped, obeying Mal’s warning. Gray whirled around and ran at Mal, hitting him at a run with a scream. “You unbelievable si gui chòu sānbā!” He slammed Mal back against the fence in a rage. “We have a chance to escape and you blow it for us?”
Mal turned and slammed his elbow into Gray’s ribs, doubling him over. “No!” said Mal fiercely. “You had a chance to get yourself killed, and hurt a good man in the process. You think for one second you’d make it out of here? You think you’d like to live through what they did to you for trying?”
Khiloh was watching the scene unfold with dismay. “Stop!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. “This has about ten more seconds before I call in backup, stop this now!”
Gray rebounded and pummeled Mal in the stomach, forcing him once again back against the fence. “They broke you, didn’t they? That’s why you’re Khiloh’s little pet. That’s why you don’t have the guts to walk out of here. The Alliance ruttin’ broke you! You coward!”
Mal threw Gray back, spinning him around and throwing him violently against the fence and pinning him there. Mal saw a flash of genuine fear in Gray’s eyes. When he spoke, his voice was a cold as ice. “Yes. They did. They broke me in the second it took our command to tell us to lay down arms.”
“Wash! Mal!" yelled Khiloh. “We’re coming in, back out!”
Mal lowered his hands, releasing Gray, who immediately punched him. Khiloh’s voice cut through the action again. “Mal, please!” His voice broke, pleading desperately. “Please, please back away, stay out of this!”
Mal raised his hands in the air and backed away as Gray continued his furious assault. “Listen to him, son,” warned Mal. “Fixing to get yourself-“
Straaker’s voice interrupted. “Give it up,” he said. “Our resident traitor blew it already, this is pointless.” He gave Mal a look of hate.
Gray rounded on Straaker in fury. “I listened to you! For once in my miserable life, I put aside the fact that I rutting hate you, and this is what you lead me into?” He slammed his fist into Straaker’s face. “You lead me into this and then you tell me to back off?”
Three uniformed men were running for the gate that Khiloh was sliding open, and Mal’s stomach sank in sudden dread. “Stop!” he yelled, adding his plea to Khiloh’s. Straaker had snapped, launching himself at Gray in a blind rage.
“Listen to me!” Straaker screamed, punching Gray furiously. “What does it take for one rutting person around here to obey me, huh?”
“For starters, don’t lead your own men into a bloody disaster!” yelled Mal, furious with the man’s sheer incompetence. His legs were weak as he watched the armed guards coming in, and he used all of his determination not to let his memories and his fears control him. He wasn’t sure who he was more angry with; Straaker for starting this, or himself for not stopping it right where it had started inside the housing unit.
“Stop and put your hands in the air, now!” shouted an authoritative voice. The response team was inside the gate, and Khiloh was running right behind them. He grabbed Wash and shoved the pilot towards Mal, looking at Mal and mouthing “Take care of him.” Mal nodded.
Straaker whirled around to face the source of the order and started punching. The guard he attacked immediately smashed his club across Straaker’s side, and Straaker screamed but refused to back down from the attack. The chaos was unbelievable, between the fighting and the blur of shouted orders. One of the three officers raised a weapon and fired, and Mal felt nausea rising from the pit of his stomach, recognizing the boom of a stun round. He had much too keen a notion of what that felt like, and even worse memories to back it up with. Straaker dropped to the ground where one of the officers handcuffed him roughly.
Gray had engaged himself in yelling defiantly at the third guard, and Khiloh was standing to one side, yelling back at him in an attempt to stop him. Gray was heeding neither Khiloh’s pleas nor the officer’s orders. The officer was holding an electric baton, and he finally swung it, striking Gray in the arm. Gray staggered, howling in pain, and the officer took the opportunity to shove him to the ground.
Gray fought furiously as the officer tried to handcuff him, and screamed as another shock ripped through his body. The officer stomped on his back, flattening him to the ground. Wash started to step forward angrily, and Mal grabbed his sleeve and yanked it hard, stopping him.
“You stay put,” he growled under his breath at Wash. He might have failed to act earlier, but he wasn’t going to repeat the mistake and let Wash suffer for it. He felt Wash’s body literally jerk in empathy as the furiously struggling Gray screamed again, and gripped the pilot’s arm tightly. Wash tried to pull away from Mal’s grip, his face anguished.
Khiloh appeared in front of them. Facing Mal and Wash protectively, his back to the unfolding scene, he warned, “You two hold still. Put your hands behind your heads and hold still.” The two men obeyed him, watching the painful debacle. There was an expression of deep hurt in the exhausted young guard’s eyes, and again Mal cursed himself for not having stopped this. Wash stood close to Mal, as though looking to him for support.
“Stop this!” shouted the guard struggling with Gray. “Shut up, hold still, and listen to me!” Gray tried to roll to the side and bring his legs forward, and he screamed profanities in Chinese as the officer shoved him back on his chest. Standing on him firmly, the guard shocked him again. More screaming and struggling ensued.
Mal forced himself not to react in any way, acutely aware of Wash watching his every action. He tasted blood in his mouth and realized he’d bitten through his own lip in the effort to contain his own fear and anger. This was far too familiar a scene, and his heart was pounding, his hands cold and sweaty. He knew any wrong move or expression on his part might trigger the young pilot to do something truly stupid, and with Wash looking to him, he found himself looking to Khiloh.
“Wash, stay put,” ordered Khiloh in a warning tone, his own face showing his pain at hearing what was happening behind him. He met Mal’s eyes with keen understanding, staring at him firmly. It was enough to keep Mal steady, and he felt himself start to breathe again.
Finally Gray went limp, gasping frantically for breath, and the incident was over. The two men lay handcuffed and silent on the ground, Mal and Wash were standing silently with their hands behind their heads, and Matty and Zeke were standing just outside the building, aghast. There was silence where just seconds before, the shouting had been deafening.
“You four, inside the building, now!” ordered one of the officers, nodding at the two little groups. “Keep your hands on your heads,” he told Mal and Wash. They all retreated inside the housing unit and closed the door behind them, reeling.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006 7:53 AM
Tuesday, October 03, 2006 12:08 PM
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