Blue Sun Job, Part 12: Waiting
Friday, July 2, 2004

Mal's recollections as he waits uneasily for the Feds to make their next move.


Blue Sun Job, Part 12: Waiting

Sequel to the
Truthsome series (link is to part 1)
Blue Sun Job, Part 1: Plans and Schemes
Blue Sun Job, Part 2: Into the Lion’s Den
Blue Sun Job, Part 3: Going Smooth
Blue Sun Job, Part 4: Return to the Core
Blue Sun Job, Part 5: Life That Was
Blue Sun Job, Part 6: More Life That Was
Blue Sun Job, Part 7: ...and Robberies That Were
Blue Sun Job, Part 8: Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 9: More of Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 10: Going In
Blue Sun Job, Part 11: Home Again...


No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters

混蛋 = hwoon dahn (hundan) = bastard
哎呀 = Ai ya = damn
鬼 = guay = hell
他妈的 = ta ma duh = f*ck, or motherf*cking

Blue Sun Job, Part 12: Waiting
靑日 Job: Waiting

It’s him. What had the Fed meant by that?

Mal tried to dig in his heels and hold back as the squad of MPs escorting him reached their shuttle. “What’s going on?” he demanded, straining to sound like an aggrieved, honest citizen. “Am I under arrest?” His questions were ignored and his resistance was less than futile. The guards who had hold of him barely missed a step as they pulled him into the shuttle. Unlike the public transport, this shuttle was windowless. The door hissed closed. Seated between two guards whose grip on his arms never slacked, Mal couldn’t help but fret about his crew, and himself. Separating prisoners was a common tactic. Mal knew he’d have no more contact with, or info about, any of the others until and unless the Feds had a purpose in providing it, and then he couldn’t trust anything they said. Still, why only him on this shuttle with six sumbitch MPs surrounding him? He wasn’t that damned dangerous. Even if this job had launched them into the really-not-petty criminal realm, it still seemed more than a mite excessive to use a whole shuttle and this many guards just for him. It’s him... What the rutting hell had that officer meant by that? Were they after the ringleader of the Blue Sun robbery? Or were they after Malcolm Reynolds hisownself? The guards never said a word the entire flight, not to Mal nor to each other. Nor did a one ever look directly at him—no eye contact. It was calculated, he realized, designed to make him uneasy, make him worry... make him talk to fill the nervous silence. He kept his mouth shut, but the ‘uneasy’ and ‘worry’ were well and thoroughly along for the ride. He replayed events in his head, hunting for the moment he’d made the critical mistake. They’d been followed. That much was certain. Somehow, some way, though they hadn’t spotted a tail. Or some kind of surveillance. The lack of any kind of search, even a quick frisking, when the Feds snagged him told Mal that. 混蛋 knew he was unarmed when he walked aboard Serenity. Not that he didn’t still have several items of potential mischief on him, but nothing he could make use of while so completely restrained and guarded. There was a shift as gravitational fields adjusted and Mal knew they’d landed. Clamping down hard on control, he readied himself to deal with whatever was next. He wouldn’t surrender an inch of ground they didn’t have to fight to take. Gorramit, though… he was scared. The shuttle door opened with a sigh of adjusting air pressures and Mal got another surprise. They were attached to an airlock. He’d expected the next sight he saw would be the police station and jail on Beta, but it wasn’t. They’d docked to a ship. As he was led aboard, Mal could tell it was an Alliance military cruiser, though he had no way of knowing which one. What the hell...? Why’d the military have him and not the civil authorities? How deep did the Fed connections to Blue Sun run? He had to stop thinking about Blue Sun. And the job. And anything connected to it. Ram all that down deep. Any play had to come from the Feds. There was no job. No robbery. He was an honest—well, slightly shady—businessman with legitimate business on these worlds. They had no reason to be arresting him. They’d obviously made a serious mistake. The reception area for prisoners gave ‘intimidating’ a whole new meaning. It put Mal in mind of the systems of chutes and corrals that herded stock in for branding... or slaughter. Throughout, he was treated with impersonal distance, not a word spoken. An object, not a person. Never once through the whole search and I.D. ritual did they give him even the slightest opening to make a stupid move. And it would be patently stupid. Even if he took out every MP within reach, he could plainly see remote weapons mounted up out of reach tracking him every instant Then there’d be the impossible matter of getting off an Alliance cruiser. They more than made up for the lack of a search earlier, leaving him only with stocking feet, shirt and trousers. I.D. scans of every sort—DNA, fingerprints, retinal scans, photos... he wasn’t sure why they bothered. They already had all that. One flash of the gorram retinal scanner back on Serenity certainly called up everything they had on him from service records to any scrapes with the law since that had made their way back to the central databases. When all was done, they cuffed him again, and deposited him in a waiting room. Or Mal supposed that’s what it was. Wasn’t a typical cell, to be sure. The room was purely, and by obvious intent, meant to be unsettling. And it was. A metal grate covered the floor, uncomfortable to stand on in his stocking feet, wouldn’t be no better to sit or lay down on. Bare, dark metal walls with an unnerving assortment rings and brackets mounted at various heights on it. Mal didn’t even want to speculate on what they meant to do with all that. The lighting high up and harsh, behind another metal grill. Mal turned around slowly, taking it all in. Yup, downright unsettling. No consolation that it all was meant to be and he knew it, and knew why. The knowing why was the truly unsettling part. He flexed his hands behind him, trying to find a less wretched position but there was none. They’d twisted his hands around, clamping them in place with a chain so short his wrists were practically touching. And, of course, the sumbitches just had to lock the cuffs down a notch too tight so the metal bands dug in and tried to cut off his circulation. Mal sighed and relaxed to the position as best he could. It was every bit as uncomfortable as he remembered. And he really hated the Feds. Leaning against a corner, he slid down to the floor. All calculated... Feds always did the math on how to get what they wanted and ran the equations out to the bitter end. These were just the prelims—one plus one. Put him off balance. Isolate him. No info, no human contact, not even baiting from the guards. Wear him out physically and mentally. Niska was a rank amateur. These were the pros. Like as not they’d never inflict any actual pain-inducing torture. Pain gave the subject a focal point for resistance, or made ‘em desperate to tell anything, true or not, just to make it stop. You might break ‘em but you couldn’t trust what was told. Wearing the subject down was far more effective for extracting information and confessions if you had the time, and they did. All the time in the ‘verse. Exhaustion, confusion, isolation, discomfort... The lights went out. Sure. Expected that. Silence and absolute darkness. Sensory deprivation. Like a grave. He closed his eyes and steadied himself. No comfort knowing he’d given them a running start on the project, having had little to no sleep for the last two nights, just light naps while Zoe stood watch. Not likely they’d let him sleep now, either. And where was Zoe? In another room like this one? What about poor lil’ Kaylee? He never should have gotten her into this business in the first place. Anything happened to her, it would be his fault... Gorram it! He was doing just exactly what they wanted him to do—wearing himself out with adrenalin, tension, and fretting before they even started. He had to throttle back. Focus. Just focus. Focus on something safe. Something comfortable. Something pleasant. Well... finding something to think on that fit all those criteria should keep him occupied for quite some time. Weren’t many such events in his life. While he waited. It still was just a waiting room, when all was said and done. So who or what the hell were they waiting for? Focus... The best of times... Zoe... hair in coils of black bouncing on her shoulders. No more dresses on that gal. Tight shirt. Trousers. Gun belt strapped ‘round nicely rounded hips. Mal grinned at her as they galloped across the prairie. Danged if he hadn’t been right. She could shoot. Good as him. Helluva... heckuva lady. Shiny. Rolling around on the grass while the horses grazed... Red and gold of the gas giant lighting the night like a dreamland. Just as good being on top. “That was your first time, last time, wasn’t it?” she whispered in his ear as he collapsed on her. “ ‘Course not,” he panted. Her chuckle was pure poetry. “Don’t take up poker, sweetie.” “Poke her?” He purposely misunderstood. “Sure,” he said grinning down at her. She laughed and they wrestled, rolling over and over until she ended up on top again. Mal shifted positions. Still waiting. Maybe not the best thing to recollect. Just focus... The worst of times... Waking in an Alliance field hospital. Excruciating pain. Shattering him with every breath. Young gorram lieutenant had led them straight into an ambush. No choice but to follow. Obey. Try to save the dumb kid. Fall back, Zoe. Pull the others back. Flashes of red and fire. Lieutenant’s head... All gone. Writhing on the ground. Bleeding and gasping. Trying to raise his rifle. Arrogant Alliance 他妈的 putting another round into him. Point blank. Pure spite. Going dark... Fed doctor tying his hands off to the sides so he couldn’t pull the IVs out, maybe kill himself. Sure as hell couldn’t get up and get away. Doctor arguing, but not too hard, to give him a shot for the pain. Not allowed. Questioned all damned day. Not allowed to sleep, or even pass out. Night. Misery. Guard at the end of the bed. Staring at him coldly. Then salvation appeared. A knife sliding across the guard’s throat. Funniest thing Mal’d ever seen. Guard slipping down, looking startled, leaving Zoe standing there. Mal gave a small chuckle. Could write a book on why he hated the Alliance. A long one. Wouldn’t be allowed to publish it, though. Not in the spirit of Unification. Just focus on the hate... The season of light giving way to the unending season of darkness... Zoe gave him an old book she’d run across on some world half a galaxy away. The book went up with the house when he snuck back to set the torch to it. Never got time to read the whole thing, but that beginning part said a lot. Them folks fought too. Just like the militia on Shadow when the first Alliance troop transport touched down and started telling ‘em what’s what. They weren’t gonna hold to no one else’s notions of how they ought to live and how they ought to think. Killed his first man the day the fairgrounds got stained with red. Never twitched. Never regretted it. Could still see the face though. Lost count some time after that. Couldn’t remember exactly when it was he lost count of how many he’d killed. Weren’t like he was the sort to make notches in his pistol grip, nor brag on the score. But it was a mite troubling that he couldn’t remember exactly the moment he lost count. After Shadow. Somewhere in the first battle? Or the second? They blurred. Never had wanted to kill anyone. Just doin’ what needed doin’. Doin’ what was right. Doin’ what had to be done. They hadn’t started it. Mal knew he’d dozed off for the lights came on and the door opened immediately. The guards hoisted him to his feet and Mal found out what the brackets on the wall were for. With the chain of the cuffs attached to a bracket on the wall, the guards left, the lights going out again. Okay… They’d upped the ante. No sitting. No sleeping. They were pros at this game, but—sad to say—so was he. Still waiting. Live like real people… A small crew. Them as feel the need to be free… Ain’t never have to be under the heel of nobody ever again… Ever again. …we’ll just get ourselves a little further… Walked right back into the arms of the Alliance, he had. Took Zoe and the others down with him. No, Zoe came along willingly. Always did. Odd having her hitch herself to that pilot. She didn’t even like him at first. Never would have thought he was the sort Zoe’d latch on to. Sure’d been good for her, though. Made her happy like he never had. Those distant days of fun and freedom weren’t nothing but far away dark shadows. Lost worlds. Lost lives. She’d come back ‘home’--such as it was--to the little dive on Delta, drunk as a skunk and cussing like… well, like a soldier. “I’m gonna nuke it. Nuke it from 他妈的 orbit.” She swore in a vivid blend of languages, heavy on the rending-limb-from-limb imagery.

Mal struggled upright, shaking the sleepiness off. He lowered his pistol--raised and aimed before he was even really awake--but kept a wary watch on the carbine Zoe waved recklessly around.

“Welcome back,” he said carefully, eyeing the barrel of the carbine as it strayed his way. “Let’s just be putting that weapon down now, private.”

“Ain’t no private,” she said, rummaging through a box on the floor. “Not no more. And you ain’t a sergeant. Don’t gotta follow your orders ever again.”

“True enough,” he said, easing back the blanket. “Not that you ever were too strict on that point.”

Zoe kicked the box. “Don’t you got nothing to drink in this dump?”

“Think you’ve had enough,” Mal said, the voice of reason, bringing his feet to the floor. The carbine swung around landing dead on him. “Zoe…”

“You just stay there,” she said, coming over to the bed. She tossed the carbine aside. Mal winced, expecting it would discharge when it hit the floor, but it didn’t. Next thing he knew Zoe was on him, pushing him back down, nuzzling at his neck in a very disturbing manner.

“What the hell are you doin’?” he demanded, trying to shove her off. 哎呀 but she was strong, and he wasn’t up to one hundred percent yet.

“I took care of you, now you’re gonna take care of me,” she said, breathing alcohol fumes in his ear.

“I don’t know what the hell got into you, woman, but it ain’t gonna be me,” he said.

“Shutup. Ain’t like we ain’t done this before. Don’t mean nothing.”

Mal scowled. “Which is the exact point of the matter.” He jumped, such as he could with a strong, determined, drunk warrior woman plastered down on top of him. “Hey! Watch your hands. I ain’t gonna service you like some gorram bull put to pasture with a heifer in heat.”

Fiercely, she said, “I ain’t no heifer.”

“Well, it didn’t seem particular wise to call you a cow,” Mal said, shoving at her dead weight. She’d passed out cold.

Hmmph. Neither he nor Zoe ever mentioned that little interlude. Mal wasn’t sure she remembered it, drunk as she’d been. He also didn’t know what had happened while she was gone to get her in such a state and she never would tell him. He didn’t press the matter. Both had things they just didn’t care to talk on, not with nobody.

Mal stretched as best as he could against the tight restraints, which wasn’t much. Definitely a distracting recollection, that one. Another for the Wash-don’t-need-to-know-it list. Didn’t mean nothing. Did anything? Ever?

The door hissed open. Mal looked at the guards with cold contempt. Upping the ante again? Or the wait over?

They unfastened him from the wall, leading him out.

Waiting over.

Next: Blue Sun Job, Part 13: Bushwhacked Revisited


Friday, July 2, 2004 1:48 PM


Oh Wow, had my heart in my gorram mouth most of the time. Hope they don't hurt our boy too much and can't help but wonder what the *diyu* they are up to. This is such an excellent story, I can't wait for each and every part. Shiny, *xie xie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, July 2, 2004 2:49 PM


More now please!!! Mal and Zoe are great. Echo amdobell here, my heart was in my throat with emotion or fear the entire time. Very heart tugging stuff. More, now, please:)

Tuesday, July 6, 2004 10:14 PM


That was utterly emotionally convincing. The waiting for interrogation, the wearing oneself down before it. The pyschological torture. Are you some kind of evil mastermind?

Loved the ending! Espcially -
"Mal scowled. “Which is the exact point of the matter.” He jumped, such as he could with a strong, determined, drunk warrior woman plastered down on top of him. “Hey! Watch your hands. I ain’t gonna service you like some gorram bull put to pasture with a heifer in heat.”"

Hey! Watch your hands! Hee!


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Blue Sun Job--A Sequel: It Means a Thing
Post-Serenity, Mal & Zoe share a moment, or two. And then some. Story takes place in the context of the "Blue Sun Job" scenario. COMPLETE One-er.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 39: Into the Black
The conclusion of the Blue Sun Job.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 38: Shadow
Mal & Zoe's past smashes into the present. Everyone on the crew gets an earful, especially Wash.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 37: Plan B
There's a dead Shepherd on the floor, a bunch of angry live ones, and Mal, Zoe, and Simon in their midst.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 36: One Down
Return of the "Blue Sun Job"! First of the last four chapters of this story.

Blue Sun Job, Part 35: The Worthier Part
Book's more nefarious, Mal's less crazy, and Zoe is dangerously pissed.

Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books...
Book's nefarious. Mal's crazy. And Simon is bewildered.

Blue Sun Job, Part 33: Light and Shadow
Mal has just had his big tell-all session with Book concerning his and Zoe's history. Now landed at the Shepherd's Sanctuary, they have to deal with the fallout and with Book's mysterious past and plans.

Blue Sun Job, Part 32: Revelations
Mal and Book talk about some Big Damned Things.

Blue Sun Job, Part 31: The Heart of the Matter
Tales & stories come out into the open--more than a little dark. But not to worry, Jayne, the philosopher, also explains women.