BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GIRLFAN

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Twenty-Six
Monday, January 15, 2007

Post Simon's Big Damn Rescue: An overview of Simon's situation, and the introduction of some original characters, whom I hope will make sense eventually. This chapter is rated PG13, for adult themes. Positive comments perfered.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1563    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Chapter Twenty-Six: Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt (They change the sky, not their soul, who run across the sea.) Part I

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24, Chapter 25 *** *** ***

When Mal got to the bridge, he saw that Inara, seated in the pilot’s chair, was engrossed in the file she was looking at. “What ya got there, ‘Nara?”

“Mal! Is Simon alright?”

“Zoë’s done patching him up. Not much more we can do here. Gonna hafta find the boy a doctor.”

“How bad is it?”

“Bad enough. River wasn’t wrong about the flogging, and he’s got more than a few broken ribs. All the bones in his right hand are completely smashed – left hand’s gone from the wrist.”

“What’s wrong with his voice, Mal?”

“Ya saw the cut on his throat?”

“Yes.”

“Cut his vocal cords.”

“That’s obscene.” There was really nothing else to say.

Mal nodded toward the console. “What are you reading?”

“Oh! I pulled all the files I could from the Pandora before we broke away.”

“The Pandora? That the name of the charming little boat we pulled Simon out of?”

“Yes.”

Mal nodded, but Inara couldn’t read his expression. “What did you get?”

“Well, not too much about Simon – apparently he’s officially a bound subject of Blue Sun now. They list date of capture, crimes, punishment, name change...”

“Name change? Of course, name change. Anything else?”

“Not really. It would appear that he didn’t tell them anything. It lists multiple refusals to debrief, and notes the status of the interrogation as ongoing. That’s all it’s got to say on Simon.”

“Anything on the prisoner?”

“Quite a bit, actually. That’s the file I’m looking at now.” Inara peered down again to make sure the facts were correct in her head. “It lists her as Swann, Ceres, third year cadet –”

“As in, Alliance military cadet?”

“Yes.”

“What was she doing in that cell?”

Inara looked up. “I don’t know, Mal. I was with Simon and River, remember? You were with Jayne and the girl in the scary room with dead Reavers.” Mal was taken aback a moment, then decided that it just something about that chair.

“What’s it say about why they had her aboard?”

“It says… it says, in summary, that she was a gifted cadet, an aspiring intelligence/counterintelligence specialist; she wrote some interesting, wildly speculative thought experiments in her third year – which lead both to her being selected as a test subject for their new project and the design of the project itself.”

“Bring all new meaning to ‘he who lives by the sword’.”

“So it would seem.”

“The project was initially designed to help create a program that would help identify the soldiers best suited to withstanding long periods of strenuous interrogation, and then giving them further training. At this stage, Swann had given her consent to be a test subject – the theory being that consent was ultimately required – otherwise your soldiers would cheerfully betray you. At some point, the project shifted from under military research and development to the auspices of Blue Sun. Simultaneously, it’s focus also shifted from a resistance-training program to what appears to mostly be a study of refined torture technique.”

“Should I take it from your tone that Cadet Swann withdrew her consent at this point?”

“If the notes are to be believed – apparently instantly. The records kept by her instructors and the military research team describe an incredibly dedicated, talented student.” Inara pointed to the screen and Mal glanced at it. It was a very respectable record. Inara flipped to another. “The Blue Sun records describe Miss Swann as a bu huihen de pofu.”

“Really?”

“Really. She apparently killed three of her guards on the first day, the first when one of them threatened or attempted – the report isn’t clear – to rape her, the second two when they came to the aid of the first.”

“Well… good for her.”

“Mal, what was it like in that room? Bear in mind that I’m not asking for details.”

“Well, given that they threw her to Reavers, or vice versa – it would seem the possibility of rape still gets her a mite riled up. How long they have her for?”

“Two years.” Inara paused. “Mal, the reason I ask is because they subjected her to a number of surgeries and drug therapies in the that they had her period as their subject. Simon would have to look at these records, but the experimentation and the dead Reavers make me think of…”

“Yea. River did say the girl’s not like her. She’s a spy.”

“Is? Supposed to be? Will be?”

“Not sure.”

“What are you going to do with her, Mal?”

“Long term? I honestly don’t know.” Mal looked as his hands. “I think she broke her wrist trying to get out of the cuffs she was in. I’m gonna have Zoë have a look at her. Go from there.”

“Mal, we can’t send her back.”

“’Nara, the girl’s an Alliance Cadet. Should a been an officer by now. Sounds like she might have been a good one, too, if she’d got the chance. Ya think she’s on our side? We had a common enemy. Don’t make us friendly.”

***

Zoë stepped into the room with their prisoner. The girl stood – almost casually – to attention. Zoë shook her head. The girl was still naked. Mal was worried about a broken wrist? The girl was a canvas of old scars and fresh bruises.

“Cadet Swann?” Zoë started. “I’m Zoë, the first mate of this vessel. The Captain told me that you needed some first aid.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Would you care to sit?” The girl did. “Let me have a look at your wrist.” The girl held it out. “I’m sorry that you were left in here with no clothes. We had an emergency to deal with.” Zoë prodded for a while. Definitely broken, and not much she could do. “Let’s get you a hot shower, and some clothes, then I’ll wrap this as best I can.” Years of experience made Zoë wary, but her instinct was to protect the girl. Then again, she was training to be a spy, and Mal thought she might have made a good one. Zoë kept a close eye on the girl the whole time, but turned away to study a deceptively fascinating stain on the wall when the girl jacked the temperature of the water up to its maximum setting, and began to furiously scrub herself down.

***

Inara walked back onto the bridge. She was certain Mal would still be there; from the look of it, it didn’t even seem he’d moved. She took the pilot’s chair again. “Mal, I’ve found a doctor.”

She expected him to get angry, but he just sounded sad. “’Nara, didn’t ask you ta look.”

“I know, Mal. But we need one quickly, and I know one.”

“He an old client a’ yours?”

Inara closed her eyes. Always, always, with the needling. “She’s an old client of mine, yes. More importantly, she’s a friend. She’ll do it if I ask.”

“She a rabid anti-Alliance activist?”

“No…”

“Then what makes you think Simon would be safe with her?”

“Because the ‘verse isn’t divided into Browncoats and Purplebellies just yet, Mal.”

“I know that, ‘Nara. Ain’t saying she’s a bad person. She’s seen Simon’s warrants on the Cortex for a year now, you really think she’s going to give herself a chance to get to know him? Don’t have to be especially loyal to your government to be scared a’ criminals.”

“Mal, her loyalty is to her patients. I’m not just thinking about Simon here. River is still medicated, Zoë is pregnant, you’ll probably want to patch up Miss Swann before you shove her out the airlock… we need a doctor.”

“Alright. Contact her, see want she says. Where will have to go to pick her up?”

“She’s on Sihnon; but I plan to ask her to meet us half way.”

“She’ll do that?”

“Of course. She’s a good friend, Mal. You should know what they’re like, you have enough of them.” Inara spoke softly as her deft fingers tapped out the code on the console. She made the wave from the bridge.

***

When they landed on Persephone, Inara’s friend was already waiting for them. She smoothly picked up her bags and stepped aboard. Inara immediately embraced her, hard, like it was Kaylee. Mal relaxed a little.

The other woman embraced her back, just as hard. “Inara, sweetheart, I’ve missed you.”

“I’m sorry, Aren, I didn’t tell you everything. I couldn’t, in case…”

“I understand, darling. I knew something was wrong the moment I saw your face.” Mal nearly laughed. Inara was always unreadable. Well, maybe not. He’d know she was in trouble when he received her wave from the Training House. “Are you in a scrape?”

“No, nothing like that.” Inara paused. “The ship’s medic is injured, very badly; he needs treatment urgently. We also have a pregnant woman and a girl with mental illness… and a crew that gets shot at with alarming frequency.”

“These are your friends, Inara?” It wasn’t really a question, but it was asked softly.

“Yes.”

The older woman pushed Inara’s hair back. “Then call them by their names, sweetheart; there’s no need for this distance.” It was said so quietly that Mal almost didn’t hear it.

“Let me introduce you.” Inara turned to Mal. “Captain Malcolm Reynolds, this is Dr. Aren Wren.” The woman extended her hand, and Mal shook it. “Oh, and we have a prisoner.”

“Charming.”

Inara briefed her friend on the walk to the infirmary. When they arrived, Aren set immediately to work.

“Dr. Tam? I’m Dr. Aren Wren. I’m a friend of Inara’s. Captain Reynolds has asked me to have a look at you and take care of your patients until we get you up and around again. I’m going to stand by your feet for a moment. Dr. Tam, if you can feel this, please wiggle your left foot.” She nodded. “Wonderful. Dr. Tam, I’m afraid our communication will be a little rudimentary, but at least we can have some. With your permission, Dr. Tam, I’d like to examine you at this point. If you agree, wiggle your foot.” He did. “Ok, for the moment, let’s have a wiggle equal yes. Dr. Tam, would you like the Captain and Inara to stay?” No wiggle. “Let me rephrase. Would you like the Captain or Inara to stay? No wiggle. “Would you like someone else to come stay with you?” No wiggle. “Captain, Inara, if you please.”

“Hey, now – I didn’t agree to leave you alone with him.”

“Captain, Dr. Tam is my patient, and my patient has made a very reasonable, very clear, request for privacy.”

“He might be your patient, but it’s my gorram boat!”

Aren turned back to him with a mild look. “Captain Reynolds, when there’s a doctor on board, your authority stops there.” She pointed at the threshold of the door, before turning to Simon. “Dr. Tam, did you forget to explain this to the Captain?” No wiggle.

Aren arched an eyebrow at the Captain. Inara laughed. Mal turned and left.

***

Mal found her later, in the lounge. “Dr. Wren.”

“Captain Reynolds.”

“Mal is fine.”

“Then please call my Aren.”

There was an awkward pause. “You get a look at my crew?”

“Yes. And your prisoner.”

“Huh. And?”

“Zoë did a good job of patching up Simon, but he needs specialist care. His right hand, I can probably repair myself. His vocal cords were severed – I can remove them entirely in the hopes that they will regenerate.”

“And if they don’t?” Mal interrupted.

“Then we still have further options down the road – an artificial replacement, therapy, etc. Which brings us to his left hand. With the right equipment, I could replace it myself – but I suspect that that’s not an option. Simon is a surgeon. In order to have a replacement limb function at the level of control he once had – it will require a top consultant in the field, the most sensitive and expensive equipment to perform the surgery itself, time and care – and money – to find the best possible fit for him and modify it to perfection – and then months of therapy, in all likelihood. I couldn’t possibly do it. And Serenity is far from equip to handle it.”

“Can that keep a while?”

“Yes.”

“Alright. It will need some thinkin’ on. What about the rest a’ him?”

“Again, we’re mostly talking about time and therapy. The tissue damage to his back is severe – we’re really quite lucky to have escaped serious damage to the spine itself. He will almost certainly never have his full strength back.”

Mal nodded. He’d already known that. Pie in the sky to think otherwise. “Don’t need to be strong. Boy’s got plenty a other fine qualities.”

“The practice of surgery itself is physically demanding, Mal.” She paused. “In any case, strong can mean more than one thing. He’s been seriously traumatised, not just physically. The mental strain of what he’s gone through is enormous, and it’s not over. He’s currently trapped in what he no doubt regards as an utterly useless shell – it would not be unreasonable to expect him to respond with a level of depression.” She peered back the glass at him. “Currently, of course, he’s of no danger to himself. Once he regains some mobility, however, the threat of suicide will have to be considered.”

Mal nodded. What would look like progress from the outside would almost certainly feel like prolonged agony to the person on the inside. “Well, that’ll keep a while, too.” Aren nodded. “The rest a my crew?”

“River seems to be doing well on her medication. Understandably, she’s feeling the strain of her brother’s condition.” ‘You have no idea.’ “She and Kaylee could probably both do with some counselling – but I suppose they can confide in Inara. Zoë needs to rest more. The prisoner, I’m treating with broad-spectrum antibiotics…”

“Aiya. She infectious?”

“Yes. But I don’t think that you have worry about catching anything. Female prisoner, prolonged imprisonment, lots of male guards? I think you can guess how the infections are transmitted.” Aren paused to collect herself. “I’ve checked the prisoner’s wrist. Zoë set it as well as I’ve seen in the field, but unless we re-break and re-set, it will probably have some diminished functionality. She’s malnourished, and it would appear that she has, at points, been force-fed. Most of her old wounds have healed over, and the bruising she has at the moment is largely superficial, from a medical point of view.”

“From a non-medical point of view?”

“Well, it’s still superficial, but people feel like you’re patronising them if you say that.”

“Ah. You’re saying they just hurt like hell.”

“Yes. There is a possibly of underlying long-term damage, but I can’t assess that right now.” Mal looked like he would interrupt again, so Aren just sped up the explanation. “She’s not currently symptomatic – it could take months or years for the damage to become apparent. Mentally – well, she’s very self-contained, but again, we’re undoubtedly looking at some form of psychological trauma.”

“Well, well, we’re up from one semi-crazy to four mostly crazies?”

“Well, crazy isn’t really a word used within a medical framework, but… if I were to apply it, at guess?” She turned to look at the Captain. “From what I’ve heard, you’re probably all crazy.”

*** *** *** Chapter 27 *** *** ***

COMMENTS

Monday, January 15, 2007 7:29 AM

GIRLFAN


Ok, like I said, not the best chapter, so I would like to say an especial thank you for your patience! My muse and I appreciate it.

Also, a thank you to ManicGiraffe, who inspired "the new girl's" name - Ceres is the Roman goddess of corn, and the girl's intials are C.S. Although, I don't think that swans are particularly starchy. :)

Fans of PotC would be correct if they guessed the inspiration for Ceres' last name.

And I thought Aren Wren just looked and sounded pretty. There's no deeper meaning to that one.

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:18 AM

JANE0904


This is really interesting. I am very curious to see how you're going to get back to Simon as Simon ... or are you? Lots of angsty stuff if he doesn't recover - and how is going to be an even long story - but this is taking him off into a direction I wouldn't have the nerve to go! I may put my characters through hell ... I just hope you bring yours out the other side too!

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:38 AM

MANICGIRAFFE


> Although, I don't think that swans are particularly starchy. :)
We got a gaggle of 'em over at the lake by my work. Let me get my knife and we'll find out...

> And I thought Aren Wren just looked and sounded pretty. There's no deeper meaning to that one.
Maybe not, but it sounds a lot like "Arwen." Therefore, the good doctor looks like Liv Tyler in my head (yes, Liv Tyler as a doctor disturbs me, too).

Do vocal cords really regerate? If so, that's actually really cool. I thought humans (and most mammals) didn't really do the regenration thing.

I believe at this point that Kaylee and River need to make an appearance. Simon will not want to see them, but it has to be done, especially as he starts to recover more. He's going to need lots of support once he starts crashing into the barriers his injuries have given him. Mal and Inara are definitely there for him, but it's not quite the same as "family" (and yes, I'm currently including Kaylee as that, if/until she decides to remove herself).

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:40 AM

MANICGIRAFFE


> Also, a thank you to ManicGiraffe, who inspired "the new girl's" name
Ha! Thanks! I was just being silly (and as it turned out, hungry. I went and made stir-fry after writing that).

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:47 AM

GIRLFAN


>Maybe not, but it sounds a lot like "Arwen." Therefore, the good doctor looks like Liv Tyler in my head (yes, Liv Tyler as a doctor disturbs me, too).

Darn! I should have spotted that. I actually have a picture in my head of someone like the consellor in War Stories. Aren is a Scandenavian name, and I thought Wren just looked pretty with it.

>Do vocal cords really regerate? If so, that's actually really cool. I thought humans (and most mammals) didn't really do the regenration thing.

In reality, only part of them regenerate (the "false" vocal cords), and they do apparently have to be severed completely to do so. It's 500 years in the future, I can have hope. :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 8:52 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Wow...lots of fun ahead for pretty much all involved! Simon's on the road to deep depression and years of PT to get back to even half-strength, Kaylee and River are gonna be in fun places mentally with all this, and Zoe's stress from all the crap going on is gonna make for a fun last trimester or two:(

Still...brilliant work here, girlfan! I am definitely riveted to my seat in wanting to see where you will take this:D

BEB

Friday, January 26, 2007 1:12 PM

GIRLFAN


>>Do vocal cords really regerate? If so, that's actually really cool. I thought humans (and most mammals) didn't really do the regenration thing.
>In reality, only part of them regenerate (the "false" vocal cords), and they do apparently have to be severed completely to do so. It's 500 years in the future, I can have hope. :)


Apparently, it's not so very far off:
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/510350/

(6th paragraph from the bottom)


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