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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - SUSPENSE
Trouble abounds in all its forms. (Post-BDM)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 980 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
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Nicholas continued: “Things have changed since you’ve been gone, mon ami.”
“Well, c’est evident. There’s more plainclothes about.” Chase had had a feeling that coming back to the Common wasn’t exactly the greatest idea she’d had in some while, but in all honestly, she’d had no other place to start. Though she could disappear into a background, it usually took marks and some information to make it “go smooth” (to borrow the captain’s phrase). As it was, she was flying blind---well, blinder than she was used to---and the Common had seemed like a good place to get her bearings.
Chase broke her gaze and turned from Nicholas to Zoe, who’d made the remark. Zoe was growing more and more unreadable, her face becoming impassive. Chase had a feeling that it wouldn’t take much for Zoe just to shoot her and be on with her day.
“Policier clandestine, or “plainclothes,” are the Alliance’s forces here in the Common.”
“And these “plainclothes,” they’re different from feds how?” Zoe’s arms loosened just enough to fold them across her chest.
“I believe, madame, that I can answer that,” said Nicholas. He never moved from his desk---something else that had apparently changed in the time Chase had been gone. Usually Nicholas was one to greet people standing. The generally jovial demeanor she remembered him having had been replaced with a quiet resignment. Something wasn’t right here…not at all. But until she could put her finger on it, Chase silently believed it was best just to stay and get as much information as possible.
“Federales, or “feds, as you call them, don’t like making an ‘official’ presence here in the Common. The corps régissant corrompu you call ‘the Alliance’ hasn’t been welcome.”
“Still the Alliance just can’t keep away from this here garden spot, that it?” quipped Mal, who was also beginning to tense. He’d just met a girl who had about a many names as that psychotic “bride” of his, and generally people with that many names tended to make him a mite uneasy. Somehow, he did not see this going smooth…not at all.
“C’est vrai, that’s right. Our trades make us…quel est le mot ?”
“Invaluable,” supplied Chase.
“Mais oui, invaluable to the federales. Resultement, they ‘pretend’ not to be here, when in fact they are all over this place, the last haven for Creoles in the galaxy.
“Could we go back to the “life in mortal danger” bit you spoke of earlier? ‘Cause I’m all keen to know more about that right this second,” asked Mal, trying to learn more that could possibly be of use to him.
The old man pulled out a large portable Cortex screen, tapped in a series of codes into it, and laid it out on the desk for he, Zoe and Chase to see. On the screen there were a series of bulletins---they reminded Mal of those that flashed over the Cortex from time to time. He noticed something about these bulletins, though…
“These look like warrants,” he said finally.
Chase’s eyes grew wide. “Those aren’t just warrants…”
“C’est vrai. Garanties noires.” Nicholas looked up at both Mal and Zoe. “The federales are very, very interested in speaking with you, mon capitain. If I remember correctly…something to do with a very interesting broadwave a few months back?”
“Miranda,” said Zoe flatly. She didn’t offer any other explaination.
“Seems that operative fella didn’t get the message across,” quipped Mal. Chase didn’t ask---it could wait until later. What intrigued her, though, was that there were four “black warrants”---one for the captain, one for the doctor, one for the little one, and one for the ship itself. “Nicholas?”
“How do you question a ship?”
“More importantly, what does all this mean for me and mine?” asked Mal, who looked genuinely confused.
“Black warrants are issued when the federales want to question someone at length---someone they don’t want the rest of the ‘verse to know exists,” said Chase. “It’s accessible only to plainclothes and bounty hunters---normally, regular folk don’t get a look at these types of warrants.”
“These ‘plainclothes’ seem a mite more important than just regular Alliance.”
“They are. They’re similar to an operative---except plainclothes can’t give a kill order. They’re the ones who come in when a suspect or “person of interest” needs to be taken alive.” Chase swallowed thickly. “Usually, those taken by plainclothes don’t come back.”
“Thought you said they don’t kill people,” said Zoe.
“Then what happens to them?”
“They end up in places like the Academy, or worse.” She looked at the captain, holding his gaze in her sights. “Death is not the worst fate a man can suffer, Captain. I think you already know that.”
“Best we be gettin’ off this rock then,” said Mal, reaching for the com in his pocket.
“Capitain?” said Nicholas. He still hadn’t moved from his chair, and Chase was burning with curiosity as to why her old friend and nominal leader of her people wasn’t acting like she remembered him to act.
“No time, Jayne, just get back to Serenity fast as you can…yes, something’s come up…tell River to make for the quick exit,” Mal spat into the com. “Simon and Kaylee near you? I’ve tried hailing them, no one’s answering…”
“Capitain,” said Nicholas, his voice booming this time.
“Take Elizabeth with you. Please. She will be of help to you and your crew in getting away from this place, among other things.”
“I ain’t got time to be takin’ on no one at the moment…”
“He’s right, Captain,” Chase interjected softly. “Plainclothes will be swarming now that you’ve hit land.”
“I’ll take my chances.”
“You won’t last five seconds, not out there. The Commons is a maze, designed purposefully that way to confound the federales. Plainclothes snatch you, who knows what they might decide you’re good for?” Chase strode past him and headed for the paneled wall, her hands lightly tapping the corners of the wood. After a few tries, a door-sized panel sprang open. “This way,” she said. Some things never change, she thought.
Mal looked at Zoe. “Best we follow her, sir. Might be able to think better back on the ship.”
“Elizabeth…” Nicholas’s voice called out, trailing.
Chase made her way beck to he desk, where he handed her a thick sheaf of paper. “Keep this safe. Once you’re away, read it. It should explain a few things for you that I know you’re wondering.”
Chase accepted the papers, then leaned in to give Nicholas a hug. “Merci, mon ami, she whispered.
“Bonsoir, ma cherie, he replied, then watched as she led the captain and the tall woman through the passage. “And good luck,” he added to himself.
Minutes later, the office was filled with plainclothes. “Where are they, old man?” barked one, fully expecting an answer.
Nicholas tried to make his voice as English-sounding as possible. “Where are who? There’s been no one here today.”
“We know the ship and her crew landed here less than an hour ago. Your girl would come here, so I ask again---where are they?”
“I know not what you’re talking about.”
“Fine.” The plainclothesman reached for a transmitter. “The old man’s not cooperating. Take an ear.”
Nicholas willed himself to remain impassive as he heard the sounds of his son, the premier of the marchand de nouveilles, being tortured by the government monsters who held him captive. So help me, I won’t let Elizabeth nor those people suffer as we must, he thought to himself. She may be the key to finishing what that captain and his crew have started…
The parts shop was empty. Baskets of bolts and nuts lay pell-mell across the aisles. Gaskets and coils were strewn over the floor. A crescent wrench lay in a tiny pool of blood. The remains of a transmitter lay broken and smashed next to it.
The men had known what they’d wanted. Such good stock, that couple---a little feisty, but nothing a good knock in the head and a couple of yokes couldn’t manage.
One of the men, a sandy-haired specimen with yellowed teeth, turned his head towards the back of the hovercart. The couple lay there, not stirring. The boy would have a few scrapes and some nasty bruises, but they’d heal. The girl was awake, her bright green eyes darting out of the barred walls of the cart and occasionally glancing on the boy. She might make for a few marks on the sex market, the man thought. ’Course, they’ll have to be questioned---might be they’re tradesmen, and that’ll sell better yet…
Kaylee lay still, her legs and arms bound by the yoke. She kept glancing over at Simon, who lay bound and unconscious next to her. She kept looking out the bars of the cart, hoping that she might run into someone she knew. Were these the ‘plainclothes’ Chase mentioned? she thought.
Or… Kaylee swallowed thickly, her tongue catching on the cloth that was tied roughly around her mouth. …were these hundan something else?
Sunday, January 14, 2007 7:42 AM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 4:55 PM
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