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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
B2.C11: A whole lot of rescuing going on, and Wash getting delerious in a post-torture kind of daze. …Download the complete PDF
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 827 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Jayne kept one hand on Tyler’s shoulder as they navigated the fourth floor hallways, creating the illusion that he was leading Tyler towards an exam room… or away. Jayne made note of every nook and cranny where he could take cover, every holstered gun, every orderly that looked like he could put up a fight, and every kid that could potentially go crazy. The whole floor was unsettling, and Jayne clutched Vera more tightly, ready to spring into action at a moments notice. Tyler led him down a side hallway and Jayne tipped the blinds on the various rooms, looking for Wash or Inara. The needles and the screams from inside the rooms made him flinch. Tyler’s posture slumped a little and his head hung as though it were only loosely pinned to his shoulders. This place sucked the youth right out of his face and Jayne couldn’t imagine him being led behind one of those disquieting doors.
“What did they do to you here?”
Tyler looked so tired that Jayne feared he would fall over. “Please don’t make me go in there. If I sing for you today, will you let me leave early?”
Jayne jerked Tyler to a stop and pulled him into a lavatory.
“Please…” Tyler whimpered.
“Fidget, listen to me,” Jayne commanded, shaking Tyler’s shoulders. He pulled the Mateba out of his boot and tucked it into Tyler’s belt. “You ain’t some gorram lab rat. Anyone thinks otherwise, you shoot ‘em, hear?”
Tyler nodded, light slowly returning to his eyes as Jayne’s words anchored him to the present. Jayne steeled his nerves, getting ready to face the medical hell outside the door. But no matter how many windows they peaked through, Inara and Wash were not on this level.
Finding a staircase, they went to the third floor, which contained mostly labs. There were no subjects on this floor, no narrow hallways, and no exam rooms. Here they were out of place. Jayne retreated quickly to the stairwell, but not fast enough.
“Hey!” a pipsqueak guard called after them. “You are not authorized to be here.”
Rather than running, Jayne turned and charged the guard who barely had time to draw his weapon before Jayne had plowed him to the ground. Two other guards took notice and drew their weapons. With a grin tugging the corners of his mouth, Jayne let loose a spray of bullets from Vera, taking out lab equipment, breaking glass, and sending the room into enough chaos for him to grab Tyler and run. Pushing Tyler into the stairwell, he darted up the stairs, taking them three at a time. His legs much shorter, Tyler lagged behind.
The door to the stairwell opened. Jayne fired at the pursuers and they backed out again. Scooping up Tyler, Jayne dashed upstairs again, hoping he could lead the guards away from the rendezvous point, or at least distract them long enough for one of the others to find Inara and Wash.
The second floor was lined with offices, interrogation rooms, and invalids. In his new suit, Mal blended easily among the armed guards who were escorting white-gowned patients. The sight was unsettling enough, and part of Mal wanted to stage a jail break, but he had to watch out for his own first. Against his own instinct, he’d let Inara leave Serenity and now she was caught by a deranged man with a sweet tooth for torturing children.
Prio’s office was at the end of the hall. The door was tipped open and Prio sat behind the desk, pen in hand. Although that end of the hallway was not being conscientiously guarded, the overabundance of armed men in the vicinity of the interrogation rooms warned Mal to keep silent. He needed to get the information without gunfire. Squaring his shoulders, Mal walked directly into Prio’s office and closed the door. At the sound of the door closing, Prio looked up calmly, deadly.
“What is it?” Prio asked, as if awaiting a security report.
Mal reached for his gun. “Where is Inara?”
“Captain Reynolds?” Prio queried, cocking his head in surprise. Suddenly his eyes lit with recognition. “I heard you were dead!”
“Death lends itself to convenient mobility.”
“Inara has discovered the same. She killed herself this morning.”
Mal’s heart stopped for a moment. Prio’s surety made the statement so easy to believe, yet he knew Inara. “You lie.”
“It was masterful!” Prio smiled, as if talking about a poker match. “The dual of two manipulators. At my command, she locked herself away. I told her to take her own life, and she did. She is a poor manipulator, dependent on seduction. But her feminine wiles do not work on me.”
“I guess you’re not much of a man are ya?”
Prio laughed evilly, hands reaching under his desk. Mal tensed.
“How petty of you, Captain. This is not a pissing contest or a bar brawl. This is your life.”
Prio’s hands whipped above the desk like lightning and he shot Mal in the shoulder. The impact knocked Mal hard against the door, the knob jamming into his spine. His jacket lining exploded in a puff of cotton, but the bullet only dented his armored vest. Annoyed, Mal shrugged off the jacket.
“I was getting tired of this suit anyway.”
Prio shot again, but this time Mal dodged, rolled, and fired back, connecting with Prio’s gun hand. The gun went flying, but Prio hardly flinched.
“You are persistent,” Prio commented. “What an interesting subject you’d make.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll find me simple enough. You shoot me, I shoot back. Sometimes, if I really don’t like you, I’ll shoot first.”
“The exception is the mystery.”
Prio dove across his desk and grabbed a slender black rod. Mal shot again, but Prio hid behind his desk and wood chips sprayed into the air. Suddenly, the door burst open behind him. Thinking the cavalry had come, Mal rolled behind the desk, getting Prio into a chokehold and placing the gun to his head. No one spoke. A moment later, Mal rose slowly, pulling Prio up with him, to see who had come through the door. Wei!
“Wei, get out!” Mal commanded.
Prio chuckled. “What is this brainless wang ba dan doing here?”
“You cut his brain out. Ain’t his fault it’s missin’.”
Prio held up the black rod in one hand, but Wei brushed it aside and stared him down. Confused, Mal held steady, waiting to see what Prio would do to Wei. Soon enough, he realized it was Wei doing something to Prio!
Mal released his grip and backed off as Prio began to tremble and scream, blood pouring from his eyes, ears, and nose. Shocked and horrified, Mal watched as Prio fell silent and dropped to the floor, his breath and life gone. He had never seen some one fall over and die for no apparent reason. As soon as Prio was down, Wei bent over and retrieved the black stick from the floor.
“What just happened?” Mal stammered.
Wei held up the stick and another black cylindrical device. Mal backed away, concerned.
“This is my brain,” Wei explained. “Soon I will be whole.”
Mal looked from Wei to Prio to the black stick, unenlightened. “I guess that’s using your noodle.”
Book sat silent, helpless, as the cost of Serenity soared. Although he was sitting on 100,000 credits, he was powerless to buy back his former home, now up to 165,000. With alarm, he noticed Simon and River enter the courtyard. Simon looked ten years older with his thick goatee and dark suit. When they spotted him, they ducked into the aisle.
“We seem to be a few credits short,” Simon noted, looking concerned.
“And you seem to be a few kids short.”
Simon sighed and sank into a chair, discouraged and embarrassed. “This is the revised plan. Didn’t you get the memo?”
Book didn’t answer. At this stage, he was thinking of how they would break onto the ship. Then vaguely, through the shroud of his scheming, he heard his paddle number. River had bid 245,000.
“River, no!” Book whispered, hoarsely.
“Just bid,” she told him, crossing her legs and looking prim. “The money will come.”
“River, we can’t,” Simon explained, trying to take the paddle from her. She pulled it back, swatted his with it, then bid again. 325,000. Simon glanced at the auctioneer, wondering if he noticed their struggle for the paddle or if he suffered from tunnel vision.
A few seconds later, the auctioneer shouted, “Sold to the pretty girl in the back for 325,000.”
They’d won the ship, but could not pay. The three stood, retreating to the rear of the auction hall as bidding started on the next ship.
“Now what?” Simon asked.
Just then, they saw Kaylee dash around the perimeter of the courtyard. Why had she left Serenity?
“What is it?” Book asked, as she screeched to a halt, out of breath, fumbling through a box of post and brandishing a letter.
“Did we lose her yet?” Kaylee panted, handing Book a letter.
As Book read, Simon answered, “No. No, we won her… we just can’t pay what we bid. What’s in the letter, Shepherd?”
“An answer to prayer.”
“The payoff for this Osiris run,” Kaylee explained. “Three hundred k!”
Stunned, Simon looked from Book to the box in Kaylee’s hands. A dash of red and gold peaked from the edges; he pulled it out. “Where did you get this dress?”
Kaylee shrugged. “It’s post for Inara. Came this morning with the crates. I don’t know why I thought I should opened it.”
“Elle borrowed this dress from Inara. She wore it the night she left.”
“You think Elle’s still alive?” Kaylee asked, her eyes growing wide.
Book shook his head. “Not likely. We were on Three Hills for awhile. It’s possible she mailed this to Stolte before she died and they forwarded it to us.”
River grabbed the dress and covered her head, ducking low into the seats. “It’s time to go.”
Simon saw the feds talking to the auction security staff and dropped beside her.
“I’ll go pay the man,” Book told them, taking the money. “You three get on board.”
While Alegra distracted a guard, Zoë came up behind him and knocked him out with a blow to the back of the head. Taking his keys and his firearm, they ran down a back stair case onto the basement level. The floor was dimly lit and painted in a drab white that somewhere in time had turned to yellow. Zoë guessed there must be fifty doors along the hall way. One by one, Alegra found the keys for each and opened them. Some were empty, but most were occupied by cowering prisoners, frightened by light and sound—not paralyzed though. The occupants took to the halls, slowly at first, but soon began rushing the exit.
“Way to blow our cover,” Zoë said.
“Would you lock them back up?”
“This is taking too long!”
Alegra jingled the key in next door, but having lost the element of surprise, Zoë lost her patience and started shooting the doors open. As she shot lock after lock and kicked open the doors to empty rooms, her ears began to ring. Was she wasting bullets? Then somewhere in the ringing, she heard a familiar scream. Concentrating hard to listen over the din of escaping prisoners, Zoë skipped the next quarter of the hallway and started shooting again. Behind the third door, Wash lay on the floor in a fetal position, screaming.
“Wash!” Zoë cried, running in and kneeling next to him.
“Zoë? Am I dead. I can feel you like a dream…”
“Can you walk?” Zoë asked urgently, helping Wash to sit. She didn’t see his boots, but at the sight of his battered feet, realized that searching for them would be a waste of time.
Alegra darted in. “Inara isn’t here.”
“I don’t have feet anymore,” Wash told Zoë, his head lolling side to side. “I had them removed for the sake of my own sanity. I intend to get peg legs and become a pirate.”
“I thought you guys were pirates… I mean as real jobs.”
“Smugglers,” Zoë corrected. “There’s a difference.”
“Pirates! Arrgh!” Wash cried, drool leaking from the corners of his mouth.
“This I can see,” Alegra agreed.
“My hair! Is it still there?”
“Yeah, baby, you still have your hair.”
“It’s hard to tell. It’s the only thing that doesn’t hurt.”
Alegra leaned over and yanked Wash’s hair impatiently. “Did that hurt?”
“Arrgh!” Wash cried. “If I had feet, I’d step on your toes!”
Hefting Wash up from under the armpits, Zoë sat him on the bed, trying to get him in a better position to lift him. She handed Alegra the rifle. “Take the gun.”
Alegra accepted the rifle uncertainly while Zoë lifted Wash over her shoulders.
“I’ve never fired a gun before,” Alegra murmured, looking frightened.
“Just look threatening. That usually works.”
“And aim for the feet!” Wash sloshed. “I am a vengeful pirate!”
Kaylee watched over Book’s shoulder as he nervously lifted Serenity off the ground. It had been a long time since he’d flown and he wished he didn’t have to start with a take-off. Serenity’s yoke responded easily to his every move, sometimes even reading his mind. A few times, the ship turned and jerked on her own accord.
“Sensitive,” Book commented.
“The ship only responds to your commands,” River told him, slipping off her boots and curling into the copilot’s chair.
Book had flown a Firefly a long time ago and the yoke hadn’t been nearly this sensitive. He wondered if there had been a redesign of the steering column since his youth or if this modification was purely Wash. He handled Serenity more tentatively, careful not to give any push he didn’t intend.
“Any way to make her less sensitive?” Book asked.
Kaylee pointed to the wall. “I think it’s one of them switches.”
Book looked hesitantly at the three switches and decided not to mess with them. River directed him toward the Academy and with every minute he was getting more confident in his ability to hold her steady. He pulled Serenity higher into the sky, not wanting their approach to be too obvious.
Suddenly, the console flickered and the ship dropped 2000 feet. Book had to fight the yoke against the pull of wind and gravity, insensitive to his touch. Be careful what you ask for.
“What was that?!” Simon cried.
“I’m sure it was just a hiccup,” Book said, worriedly running through the possibilities. He fought his instinct to yank hard on the yoke, not wanting to over compensate for the drop.
“We lost the electric! The wire is down!” Kaylee cried, thinking of all the ripped up wiring she’d overlooked so she could detach the grav line dump. She dashed from the bridge through the halls of Serenity, pulling away loose wall panels to find the source of the short.
Book gritted his teeth as the Academy approached. He couldn’t steady a broken ship!
“We’ll be there soon, son. You should get to the cargo bay.”
Simon nodded hesitantly. “Let’s hope they haven’t sealed off this exit.”
Jayne dashed up the last flight of stairs, Tyler in one arm, Desert Eagle in the other. Having run out of floors to hide on, he hoped the roof might offer some cover. Jayne had shot three of their pursuers; two more were still chasing them, but maintained their distance. Daylight blinded him as he burst through the last door onto the roof, but Serenity’s outline was unmistakable hovering several thousand feet above the building.
“Run!” Jayne yelled, setting Tyler down and pulling the door closed behind him. There was no way to lock it! Tyler ran to a hatch in the middle of the roof, that was raised not more than an inch. He opened the doors to create cover, but Jayne worried that something so flimsy would not protect him against gunfire. However, knowing for sure that he could not hold the stairwell door closed against gunfire, Jayne ran to the hatch as well and ducked next to Tyler. He realized, he was looking down the building’s elevator shaft—the same one they had been planning on coming up through.
Serenity seemed to fall out of the sky, zooming toward the roof and the open hatch. The bomb bay doors opened and Simon peered out.
“Doc!” Jayne hollered over the beating wind and roaring engines. Simon jumped, startled to see anyone on the roof.
“Hold her steady!” Jayne yelled, lifting Tyler onto his shoulders. Simon reached down. Just then, the doors to the stairwell burst open and the two pursuers shot through.
BANG! A bullet caught Jayne’s side and he fell to the roof, dropping Tyler. Jayne screamed in surprise, rolling over and grabbing Vera.
“I’m sorry!” Tyler cried. “I didn’t see!”
Jayne aimed and fired, catching one of the men in the shoulder. The kickback from Vera sent Jayne skidding backwards, forcing gravel into his wound. He rolled behind the hatch doors as the second guard let off a few rounds.
“Shoot him!” Jayne yelled at Tyler as he pushed himself up.
Tyler pulled out the gun that Jayne had given him earlier, peaked around the hatch, and let off two wild shots. Good for a distraction, Jayne thought, but not much else. He suddenly wished they’d spent the night on target practice rather than gun cleaning. Clutching his side, Jayne checked over the top of the hatch for the second guard. Nothing. He dropped quickly and peaked around the side. The second guard was down, shot in the head.
“Come on!” Jayne hustled Tyler, not questioning their good fortune. After lifting Tyler through the bay doors, he climbed in himself, pulled out his hip flask, and took a long swig of his rotgut hooch. The liquor dulled the pain and stopped the room from spotting up.
“Let me see that!” Simon said, pulling at Jayne’s shirt to examine the wound. Jayne swatted him away
“Bullet’s not in me, I just lost a chunk of flesh.”
Suddenly the comm crackled. It was River. “Simon! Come help!”
Simon pulled gauze and tape from a first aid kit and handed them to Tyler. “If he ever stops moving, tape this to the wound.”
Tyler nodded, watching Simon go. Jayne picked up Tyler’s gun where he had dropped it on the floor of the cargo bay. With one hand holding the wound on his side, he reached for the controls to the bay harness and tested the straps.
“Nice shot,” Jayne complimented. “How’d you do that?”
Still holding the gauze and tape and looking a little shell-shocked, Tyler answered, “It’s what I do.”
Simon dashed onto the bridge, medical kit in hand. Book lay on the floor, unconscious; smoke rose from his console. River sat upright and alert in the co-pilot seat, holding the ship steady.
“Simon, help,” she pleaded. He came to her side, worried by her tone, but knowing he could do no better than her.
“It’s okay, River,” he consoled her. “You’re doing fine.”
“She shrugged his hand off her shoulder. “Not me! Him!”
With a deep breath of relief, Simon knelt next to Book. Still breathing, heart fine, he thought, going through a mental checklist. He felt for signs of internal bleeding. Book moaned painfully.
“Not me,” Book groaned. “Steady the ship. Bring up the others.”
“Those jobs are covered,” Simon assured him, digging through his bag. Carefully, he treated the burn on the Shepherd’s face and neck. “Now, I’m doing my job.”
“My wife has the nicest legs,” Wash mumbled, groping Zoë as she walked.
Mal met Zoë, Alegra, and Wash in the first floor hallway. He ran toward them, uncertain of how to help Zoë without taking Wash off her shoulders. Finally, he did just that, carrying Wash the rest of the elevator shaft.
“You have nice legs too!”
“So I’ve been told,” Mal commented.
“Captain, have you seen my boots? I lost my feet.”
“If you keep stroking my backside, you’re gonna lose your hands too.”
Zoë pulled Wash’s hands away from Mal, and motioned to Alegra for the gun. Alegra readily handed over the rifle, but something else plagued Mal.
“Where’s Inara?” he asked intensely.
“Not on zero,” Zoë answered. “Jayne and Tyler?”
“Up here!” Jayne shouted from the roof. He lowered a net from Serenity’s bay. “Comin’ down!”
“Did you find Prio?” Alegra asked.
“Prio is dead. Wei killed him.”
“Where is Wei?” Zoë asked.
Mal swallowed hard, putting Wash on the floor while they waited for the net to lower. “He ran off. There’s no time for talk. You get on the ship, I’m going after Inara.”
The net arrived and they began shuffling Wash into it. Alegra climbed onto the outside of the netting and held on.
“She’s not here,” Alegra insisted.
“You don’t know that.”
“She’s not in the cell block, nor with Prio, nor being experimented on. She’s not here.”
Zoë started climbing onto the netting as well. Wei burst into the elevator shaft from the second floor, leapt onto the rope and slid down to the harness.
“The man walks upright, the ape climbs higher on the branch!” Wei cried.
“That’s good. You go too, monkey boy,” Mal said
“He’s trying to tell you that Inara’s not here,” Alegra said adamantly. “Jantis has her.”
“He’s the next one up the ladder. If you’ve crossed him…”
Mal stopped himself, remembering Jayne’s cryptic words. He pulled out his walkie talkie and radioed Serenity.
“Jayne does the name Jantis mean anything to you?”
“It means turn high-tail and run for the hills. Get your ruttin’ ass outta there!”
Hesitantly, Mal climbed onto the netting and held on for dear life as their makeshift elevator started rising. “Any chance Jantis is on this world?”
“If he is, I owe him a bullet to the brainpan,” Jayne yelled.
Still uncertain about leaving, Mal turned to Wei.
“Next branch up?”
“You best not be lying to me,” Mal said.
The group rose slowly into Serenity and the bay doors closed behind them. As soon as there was floor beneath him, Mal jumped off the net and dashed toward the bridge. Zoë, Alegra, and Wei hopped off a bit more carefully so as not to rock the harness.
“Where’s the doctor?”
“Bridge,” Jayne answered, lowering the harness slowly to the ground. “You want I should carry him?”
“Look at all the pretty legs.”
As Zoë and Jayne tried to disentangle Wash from the harness netting without hurting him, Wei came up, tapped Zoë’s shoulder, and placed a black cylindrical device in her hand.
“This is my brain,” Wei told her. “When I hold it, I am whole, but it cannot mend me. It can help mend him.”
Zoë took the device, confused. “Thank you?”
Alegra smiled, not nearly as confused as Zoë. She touched Wash’s arm reassuringly. “Sorry, pirate. No peg leg for you.”
Out of breath, Mal dashed onto the bridge. Taking stock of the damaged primary console, he scooted into the second seat, displacing River, and steered Serenity out of atmo.
“Doc, Wash needs you.”
Simon nodded calmly, helping Book up.
“And Inara?” Simon asked.
Mal clenched his jaw and kept his eyes firmly ahead. For a moment, Simon feared that Inara had died. With dead-set eyes, Mal pushed Serenity through the edge of atmo and toward the stars.
“She’s not here,” River said. “Inara is not here.”
Go to Chapter 12
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