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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Before Miranda, the crew are betrayed from within; a troubled River understands, but does not comprehend.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2303 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
AN: The next week and a half I am under work-related deadlines, so if I don't post quickly that's why. Thanks for the shiny feedback, all!
6. I’m Sure the Ambassador Will Appreciate Your Colorful Phrasing
Coles was feeling chronically impatient. He’d been impatient for Van Soren to complete the conditioning; impatient for Manson to finish the rough transformation; impatient for Intel to get him enough information on Serenity to allow him to lay his trap – that part had been exceedingly difficult; impatient for Van Soren’s transformation to be completed, and for his agent to be in place.
Now he was waiting, impatiently, to contact Serenity, and see whether his agent was in place, and responsive. Intel had indicated that the pilot accepted most of the ‘waves that came through to the ship, transferring them from the bridge to whomever they were for, and they estimated the chances he would be alone on the bridge when a ‘wave came in at fifty-fifty. Which was why Coles was out of uniform right now, just in case he needed to cut the transmission off quickly. Coles hated being out of uniform; it added exponentially to his impatience.
He keyed in the ‘wave code, and sent on its heels Van Soren’s activation signal – if Van Soren did indeed answer the ‘wave himself, the signal would cue him to only accept the ‘wave if he were alone. If someone else answered, Coles’ brilliant plan was to claim to have reached an incorrect coding, and cut the transmission off. Van Soren ought to be the one to initiate future communications, so even a lame story like that ought to get Coles through this initial contact. Ought to. Coles worried about that, just a little.
He needn’t have worried; Van Soren – Washburne, he answers to Washburne now -- answered. Answered the way an Alliance pilot would have answered a ‘wave, Coles noticed. He couldn’t imagine that a space pirate who habitually dressed like a slob would offer a crisp “Washburne here, sir.”
“Good.” Coles said. “Where are you?”
“Just broke atmo, leaving Beaumonde. On our way to Lilac.”
“Lilac? What that equals the worth of a turd is on Lilac?” Coles said.
“Dunno,” Washburne responded. “I didn’t set the job up. But I can tell you when we’ll be there, and where.”
Coles was briefly tempted; he could show up ahead of Reynolds and bring this thing to a close. But the point of this operation was not the quick capture; the point was to take out Reynolds and his entire network, for good and all, and that required the patience Coles was finding so hard to come by at the moment. Coles told himself firmly that he had accomplished his objective with this initial ‘wave; all he needed to know right now was that Van Soren was in place and functioning correctly, which seemed to be the case, and to arrange future contact. But while he had the opportunity, he decided to expand the files on Serenity’s known personnel, which was one of the objectives in Van Soren’s standing orders. Coles started quizzing Van Soren, filling in the gaps that existed in the Alliance’s files on Malcolm Reynolds, Zoe Alleyne (now Washburne; Coles marveled again at that oddity), Kaywinnet Frye, and an even pettier career criminal named Jayne Cobb.
In her bunk, River was not sleeping. Sleeping meant nightmares, and she tried to do as little of it as possible. But there was very little escaping the nightmares, even when she was awake; in her mind, nightmare creatures with mutilated faces ran through streets crowded with the unmoving dead. Her shipmates moved in these nightmares, too; the Captain in the common room, pouring coffee; Jayne in his bunk, cleaning guns; Zoe in the engine room, talking to Kaylee about repairs they’d made on Beaumonde; Simon in his infirmary, preparing inoculations. Wash on the bridge, talking on a broadwave. But the Reavers ran through the ship with them, coming toward them in a way that filled River with an immediate and paralyzing dread, and she could not separate the real from the dream.
Only a few days after that, Coles was sitting in his office, waiting to receive a scheduled ‘wave from Washburne, when his comm beeped urgently. “Yes?” he asked of his aide.
“Sir. ‘Wave for you,” the officer gulped.
“From?” Why would his aide be nervous?
“Security tag is ‘operative.’”
A parliamentary operative? What would an operative need with him? “Put it through,” he said.
The man on the other end of the ‘wave was not an operative. His rank insignia and name badge identified him as Ensign Carmelito. The Ensign was undoubtedly one of the operative’s aides. “Commander Coles,” he said. “I’m told you have a deep-cover agent aboard the transport ship Serenity, captained by Malcolm Reynolds?”
“I do,” Coles replied.
“We are currently running an operation, and need access to this agent.”
“What is the nature of this operation?” Coles asked. With operative-level clearance, the Ensign was unquestionably entitled to the activation codes for Coles’s agent, but Coles was suddenly curious.
The Ensign checked a different screen. “I’m sorry, you’re not cleared for that information.”
Well, it had been worth a shot. “He’s set to contact me, first opportunity he gets, sometime within the next six hours,” Coles said.
“Set the ‘wave to forward to me, and provide the activation codes,” the Ensign instructed. “You are to make no further contact with this agent until our operation is completed.”
“Copy that. I’ll see that you get the codes,” Coles replied, although it galled him to have his own carefully-planned operation yanked out from under him this way. But discipline and chain of command were what they were, and Coles had long since accepted that. Before he cut the ‘wave, he sent the codes.
Ensign Carmelito answered the broadwave signal that came in from the deep-cover agent – Captain Van Soren, undercover as Hoban Washburne – and saw the man’s face appear on his screen.
“Washburne here,” the fellow said.
“If Captain Reynolds needed to go to ground,” Carmelito said without preamble, “where could he go? I want all the possibilities.”
Washburne nodded. “Sure. Well, Haven’s one possibility. There’s an underground mine there, bunch of former Browncoats work it. There’s the Sanchez brothers, they got a scrapyard on Boros, and a space-based repair facility in orbit there. There’s Li Shen on Whitefall –“ Washburne continued, rattling off seven or eight names and locations.
“Is that all?” Carmelito demanded.
Washburne considered. “Yeah, pretty much.”
“Good. Out.” Carmelito ended the transmission. It occurred to him, belatedly, that he could have asked Washburne exactly which hole-up Serenity was headed for, but then, given the Operative’s intent, it didn’t matter so much, really. His orders were to identify, and destroy, all potential hiding places.
Carmelito went to give the information to his superior.
Handcuffed in the storage locker aboard Serenity, River slept, tormented by nightmares.
Saturday, January 20, 2007 3:48 AM
Saturday, January 20, 2007 6:05 AM
Saturday, January 20, 2007 8:40 AM
Saturday, January 20, 2007 10:17 AM
Saturday, January 20, 2007 7:27 PM
Saturday, January 27, 2007 11:52 AM
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