BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GIRLFAN

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Twenty-Three
Thursday, January 11, 2007

Simon has been captured by the Alliance and turned over to Blue Sun. Angsty and owwie. This chapter is rated NC17, for adult themes. Positive comments perfered.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1093    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Even Roses Have Thorns

Chapter Twenty-Three: Vixere fortes ante agamemnona (literally, brave men lived before Agamemnon; which is to say heroism exists even if it's not recorded) Part III

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22 *** *** ***

“Dr. Tam, you guilty of the theft of one of Blue’s Sun most valuable pieces of property. By precedent and company by-law, you are liable both for the loss we sustained, and for the losses we sustained through not having the use of our property. This means that you are liable for a period of bound service of no less one year, for each year or part thereof that our property remains unavailable to us. That is, of course, assuming that we get River Tam back, and assuming that you cooperate early enough to ensure your own survival. I don’t particularly care, but you could, for example, be put to some use in a drug trial, possibly some experimentation. You do understand that you are not an equal trade for River Tam? Due to the unique organic parts of the product it is essentially irreplaceable.”

“You’re talking about my sister!”

Hunt acknowledged the interruption, “No. You’re talking about your sister. I’m talking about one of Blue Sun’s most costly experimental prototypes.” He continued formally. “By custom and precedent, you are hereby ordered to bound service, subject to Blue Sun Corporation.” Hunt looked away from Simon’s stunned face, to his assistant. “Agent Smith, are we ready?”

“Yes Sir.”

Hunt pressed his call button, and four guards immediately stepped through the door. “I don’t imagine that he can move very much, but I would like two of you to brace him for processing." Their leader gestured and two of guards broke away. Each took a tight grip on Simon’s already taut arm. “Agent Smith, in your own time.”

Simon could hear the agent called Smith moving around behind him, somewhere to his right. He could feel the tiny hairs at the back of his neck standing up. He heard a heavy door open, and felt a wave of heat, as if from an oven. His brain had worked it out before the sound of crackling even reached it. The brightness of the brand, held before his eyes, was itself painful in the darkened room. Instinct forced Simon to try to thrash away, but he was held tight by heavy chain and strong men. ‘Tyen shiao duh,’ was all Simon had time to think, before the logo of the Blue Sun Corporation was burned onto his skin. “Mother of Mercy!” he screamed.

As the agent put the brand away, Simon tried to pant out his pain. Over the sound of his strained breathing, Smith’s voice carried, it’s tone one of intellectual curiosity. “Sir, do you think this may once have been a Shino-Christian temple?”

“Dismissed,” Hunt said to the guards before turning back to Smith. “What makes you wonder?”

“It’s just that so often, when I come in here, our visitors seem to be praying.” Simon heard the guards sniggering quietly on their way out.

“Astute. We will definitely have to commission some expensive study into the archaeological and anthropological significance of the site.”

Simon tried to sag against his chains, but there wasn’t much sagging in them. If the brand wasn’t bothering him so much, Simon would have been extremely irked at their joking – he found the pair about as entertaining as a Sunday morning spent shopping with a hung over Jayne. But the brand was bothering him, in the extreme. He’d never before experienced anything so painful – but it was not the pain, itself, that was getting to him. That was only part of it. No, the fact that these hundan had marked him, had made him property, chattel, that was like a nagging itch under the pain of the brand. The pain would eventually fade, but the brand, even if removed, would always be there.

***

When Inara relieved Jayne in the shuttle, both he and Kaylee looked worse for wear; Inara wanted to ask what had been said, but they were sitting together quietly, so she kept her peace. Jayne left quickly, barely acknowledging her thanks. Kaylee’s tears had clearly shook him deeply.

“Kaylee, sweet heart, I’ve spoken to Mal. He’s working hard on a plan. We talked a little about what’s going on with Simon – what’ll they do him, have done to him. Kaylee, I need you to be brave. Mal’s warned me of what Simon’s likely to face. The longer he with holds the information that they want from him, the more damage he will sustain. Some of that – may be permanent.”

Kaylee’s interruption was almost inaudible. “He ain’t never gonna betray River.”

Inara kept her face soft, relaxed, gentle. “Kaylee, that’s a huge standard to hold someone to – far too high to ask of anyone, and given what they will do to him if he doesn’t tell them, really, I pray that he chooses not to try to hold out. It’s not like we’re running; we will return to rescue him.”

“Ya heard River’s screams?”

“Some. She was trying to be quiet by the time I was in the infirmary with her.”

“He’s holding out. They’re hurting him.”

‘Yes. They’re hurting him. It doesn’t mean he’s holding out.’ Inara didn’t say it. She didn’t see how Simon losing the use of his hands was going to help them one jot. She really hoped that they were only hurting him for fun now, as a lure for River. Just transient pain, nothing permanent; but she, too, knew that Simon would protect his sister as best he could. She continued. “In any case, Mei-mei, when we get Simon back, we’re going to need to patient with him, ready to help him deal with his emotional and physical recovery. That itself is a difficult task, and right now, you aren’t up to it. Mei-mei, you have to stop blaming yourself, and try to focus on the things that we can do.”

Kaylee actually laughed. “Stop blaming myself? ‘Nara, I DID THIS. I TURNED HIM IN.”

“Kaylee, what do you mean?” Inara was puzzled, more than shocked; she didn’t consider for a moment that her friend’s words might have any literal truth.

“I mean I turned him in.” Kaylee explained.

When she was done, Inara was horrified, but she hid it well. She was horrified, not at what Kaylee had done, because that was clearly an accident, but at the cruelty of the situation. The depth of the girl’s pain made more sense to Inara, now, than it had before. She didn’t like to leave Kaylee alone, most especially now, but Inara knew, because of all that he’d said before, that Mal did not know this information, and that he needed to. “Kaylee, I will be right back.” She hugged the girl tight. “Kaylee, I love you very much, and we will get Simon back. This is not your fault.” She repeated herself. “I will be right back. Don’t go anywhere, please.”

As she hurried from the shuttle to head to the bridge, she spotted Jayne sitting by his weights. He wasn’t working out, just sitting quietly, alone. “Jayne, could you sit with Kaylee again for a few minutes? I forgot something I needed to say to Mal, and I don’t think she should be alone right now, she’s – so upset.” Inara would tell Mal, because the information needed to be shared, but she would protect Kaylee’s confidence as much as possible.

Inara didn’t know that Jayne knew. Jayne didn’t realise that Inara knew, and as much as he hated it, he had a better understanding of Kaylee’s grief than he wanted anyone to know. Jayne just nodded and silently headed back up to Inara’s shuttle. Inara hurried past to get to the bridge.

When she returned, Mal was still staring out at the black, and River hadn’t yet returned. Inara was grateful for both, the latter even though she was certain that the girl knew, Inara was not truly comfortable repeating Kaylee’s story in front of her. “Mal,” she began softly.

“’Nara.” He gestured to the co pilot’s seat and turned toward her. She sank into the chair.

“Mal, I was just speaking to Kaylee. She didn’t tell us everything.” Inara tried to hurry along, while still somehow picking words that wouldn’t upset him more. “Simon wasn’t spotted. That’s not what happened. There was an argument, and Kaylee yelled at Simon, mentioning him by name.” She added for clarification. “His full name. Kaylee thinks that the man who approached them was a retired Alliance officer, and she was nervous and said the first thing that came to mind to get him to go away. At that point, she thinks, he hadn’t yet realised who Simon was. But when she told him that she was Simon’s sister, it seems he put two and two together and when to get the police. Simon insisted that she go ahead, while he tried to quietly pay the bill and leave, hence, Kaylee getting away.” She paused, but continued quickly. “They’ve never been looking for Kaylee. They never even knew that she was there, because Simon’s delay meant that she left before the police arrived. She’s been blaming herself this whole time for everything that’s happened, because she thinks she turned him over to the government.”

Inara was nervous, waiting for Mal’s response, but none was forthcoming. “Mal, please. She’s hurting. It was a mistake. Please don’t be angry. I thought that you should know, in case it changes anything –.”

Mal interrupted. “Don’t change a thing. Maybe they aren’t lookin’ for Kaylee, but they’re still lookin’ for Serenity.” Inara heard the anger in his voice as he spoke.

“No, they aren’t. Not looking for Serenity either.” River had walked onto the bridge, silently.

“What do you know, lil Albatross?”

“Simon lied. Knew he had to wait for the pain to be bad, so the police would believe him. Scared, but patient. Waited. Told them I took a fast burn rocket shuttle back to the surface. Told them we left Serenity weeks ago, after Miranda. They believed him. He thought he could wait for us in a quiet cell somewhere until we came to rescue him, while the police looked the other way, hunting down every vessel that left Belleraphon. It was a clever plan.”

“But there’s a but.”

“Blue Sun want me back, and they want to know how Simon got me out. They’re holding their own investigation. They have Simon now.”

***

“Smith, what is the prisoner’s name?”

“Sir, he has been enrolled in the database under ident BSIMCTBSI3.” Simon’s abyss of pain and sorrow had enough light left in it for wonder. Blue Sun Indentured Man, Criminal/Thief, Bound Service Indefinite, third line in the database. He was only the third person in the history of Blue Sun to warrant such a classification. Realisation dawned, ‘They probably just killed all the rest.’ “Omitting certain letters, randomly assigned name – Cyan.”

Like the brand, this annoyed Simon beyond the bounds of reason. Not only did they consider him chattel, but their name for him was a synonym for Blue. Clearly, the only inventiveness in this pair’s life was in the tortures they devised. Simon knew that that was part of the message – ‘you are not important,’ ‘you mean nothing to us’. Still, he couldn’t help take it personally – it was his name, his life, and he had a right to take it personally.

Agent Hunt pressed his call button again. The guards stepped through immediately. “Guard Commander, please send for Mister Black and Mister Blue.” Simon and River rolled their eyes simultaneously at the idiotic pun.

“Number of rotations, Sir?” The Guard Commander asked respectfully.

“Twenty.”

“Standard orders?”

“That will be fine. Thank you, Guard Commander.”

As the guards left, Hunt turned back to face Simon. As he watched Simon’s face for any trace of reaction, he spoke to Smith. “I’ll need the standard endorphin inhibitor.” Smith handed the needle to Hunt, who slowly crossed the room to Simon, speaking all the while. “No point in having to over come your pain tolerance, if we don’t have to, now is there?”

Up until now, Simon had managed to maintain a centre of calm under his fear, though his increasing anger was already wearing it away. As the needle slid into his vein, and the drug pushed into his body, that calm vanished. He knew that in minutes he would have been stripped of whatever remaining physical defence he had left against the pain. Panic threatened to take hold, but with what little control he had left, Simon chose, instead, to surrender to despair.

Two new men entered and Simon forced himself not to look at them at all. They took up their places behind Simon. Hunt spoke again.

“Cyan, you are guilty of theft of a valuable piece of equipment. Your punishment for this will be severe. Messers Black and Blue, in your own time.”

There was a moment of silence – not even quite long enough for Simon to start to wonder what was happening, when with a whistle-snap, his back exploded in hot pain. Simon didn’t realise that the two were counting silently to themselves, and he was in far too much pain to consider counting himself. Black, standing to Simon’s right, lay on the odd strokes, while Blue, on Simon’s left lay on the even strokes. When Blue reached the count of twenty, the pair left the room, leaving Simon’s screams to fade to tearful moaning as he tried to pant back his pain.

Hunt and Smith looked on silently. About five minutes after the first pair left, a fresh pair strode in. “Messers Black and Blue… in your own time.” The new pair laid on another set of twenty expertly crisscrossed lashes before leaving.

When the third pair stepped in, Simon realised what ‘twenty rotations’ meant. Under the agony of his increasing pain, he managed a haphazard count. As the third pair left, he looked at the floor in horror. 20 blows. 20 rotations. 400 lashes. He didn’t even attempt to hold back the flow of tears.

***

With the first fall of the heavy whip, River stumbled and hit the floor. The intensity of the pain cut through her double dose of Inara’s soothers. However much she might wish to spare Mal the horror of listening to her, she could not. As each blow landed, she screamed in terrified agony.

*** *** *** Chapter 24 *** *** ***

COMMENTS

Thursday, January 11, 2007 8:51 AM

GIRLFAN


Long enough? Needs to be longer?

Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting. Comments are shiney AND helpful.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 9:01 AM

GIRLFAN


Forgot to say: 33% extra lenght.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 1:35 PM

MANICGIRAFFE


Whoa, there! I mentioned to injure him, not kill him! 400 lashes could very easily kill someone from blood loss.

At least now Inara knows what the problem is with Kaylee. I am curious: what did he say that set her off in the restaraunt, anyway? Was it related to their existing problem that they keep avoiding? Or is it totally a McGuffin and it doesn't matter?

Thursday, January 11, 2007 1:58 PM

GIRLFAN


>Whoa, there! I mentioned to injure him, not kill him! 400 lashes could very easily kill someone from blood loss.

I never promised not to kill him :)

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that 400 won't necessarily kill him (I know a creepifingly large amount of things about torture) - and they have plenty of reasons to keep him alive for the moment - after all, if he dies, River may just cut her losses.

Anyway, as you've probably noticed, they don't always tell Simon the truth.

So tune in next time! Will Simon die?

>I am curious: what did he say that set her off in the restaraunt, anyway? Was it related to their existing problem that they keep avoiding? Or is it totally a McGuffin and it doesn't matter?

I actually do know what set her off - and it is related to their ongoing problem - but not it's related to any resolution. I was going to start with it, but I thought jumping to the action would be less boring.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 2:50 PM

LEIASKY


Yes, this was a good length:)

I, too, was wondering what Simon said to set Kaylee off. But it doesn't seem that important now. Though you could have Kaylee dreaming about it and we could know that way. My guess its something she overreacted to which, upon further reflection, she will realize and will just add to her guilt over Simon being caught.

Yeah, I thought 400 lashes would kill him too. Though he would no doubt pass out from the pain and wouldn't feel the rest. Those scars, both emotional and physical, will linger for a long time, if not forever.

I'm loving the angst, truly, and I really like the crew witnessing what is happening to Simon through River's reactions.

Of course, I hope you don't kill him. Emotional torture is sometimes worse. . . and seeing him try to recover and how the crew deals with it would be fun to see.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 3:02 PM

GIRLFAN


>Yes, this was a good length:)


Cool.



>I, too, was wondering what Simon said to set Kaylee off. But it doesn't seem that important now. Though you could have Kaylee dreaming about it and we could know that way. My guess its something she overreacted to which, upon further reflection, she will realize and will just add to her guilt over Simon being caught.


Well, I shall see if I can slip it in without, you know, making it all cheesy.



>Yeah, I thought 400 lashes would kill him too.


Oh - no fudging here - it could. A lot less than 400 can kill someone. But, others have survived more than 400 given at once.



>Though he would no doubt pass out from the pain and wouldn't feel the rest.


Now, what would the point of *that* be?


> Those scars, both emotional and physical, will linger for a long time, if not forever.


Yep :)


>I'm loving the angst, truly, and I really like the crew witnessing what is happening to Simon through River's reactions.

Cool. Me too.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 3:14 PM

TKID


The Royal Navy, if it looked like the flogging would kill a man, would divide the flogging into manageable sections, to be inflicted at a later date or dates. This way, he'd still get the number of lashes imposed upon him, but live through the punishment.

*helpfully* They could do the same to Simon! */helpfully*

I do get the impression that Blue Sun is reallllly angry with Simon, or they'd have started with the drugs instead of the pain.

I am also curious what the argument was about.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 3:50 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...this was just freaking brilliant, girlfan! Utterly and completely spectacular in its emotional sledgehammering and mind-boggling awe at the level of horror the Hands of Blue are willing to go to. And I get the feeling that this is only the tip of the metaphorical iceberg...

BEB


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