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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. A little bit about Zoe's past ... it sort of fits in here. The next story is coming (still working on it). I'd be happy to know what you think!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1204 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Zoe’s past was like a closed book to the crew of Serenity. No-one knew much about it, not even the Captain, but he probably knew more than most. He at least knew she was born in space, on a freighter between worlds, her parents working for the man in charge.
“It’s a girl?” Boxer asked, looking down into the makeshift crib.
“Her name’s Zoe.”
“Got a strong pair of lungs on her.” He flinched a little as the wailing began again.
“She’s hungry,” Tom Alleyne said. “Meg’s just getting ready to feed her.”
“Well, keep her out of the workings. Don’t want to be chasing after a kid through the cargo.”
“It’ll be a while before you need to worry about that,” Alleyne said, smiling. “Only just born.”
“Yeah, well.” Boxer looked down again. “Pretty little thing.”
Growing up on a freighter wasn’t so bad. As a child Zoe hardly ever set foot on a planet or moon, spending all her time in the black. Until the day of the accident.
She was barely sixteen, tall and gangly, just beginning to fill out a little. Her hair, long and lustrous, was considered her best feature, which was why she kept it tightly out of the way, pinned down and controlled. Her mother, dark-skinned and beautiful, despaired.
“Zoe, why can’t you be more feminine?” she asked for the thousandth time.
The girl shrugged. “It ain’t me, Ma.” She pushed an errant lock back into place. “I’m not the kinda girl who can be pretty.”
“That ain’t true,” Meg Alleyne retorted. “You’re going to be stunning, my girl, and put me to shame.”
Zoe laughed. “Never happen. No-one’s prettier than you.”
“Well, you just bear in mind that some men don’t want pretty. And they might try to take advantage of you, just because they think they can.”
“If they tried they’d be dead.”
Meg shook her head. “If I didn’t know Tom was your father, I’d be able to guess. You sound just like him.”
Zoe hugged her mother. “You’ve brought me up well, Ma. You and Dad. Just be glad.”
“Oh, I am. I am. Just worry about you, is all.”
“No need to,” Zoe said firmly. “I’m not going anywhere.”
The accident wasn’t anyone’s fault, or if it was no-one was going to admit it. A warped hull plate, a feed line that needed fixing but nobody knew, an explosion that ripped through part of the freighter … and suddenly Zoe was an orphan.
Boxer stared at the girl. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Truly. If I could bring them back …”
Zoe nodded, her face impassive. “Nothing will do that.”
“If you want to stay …” He paused. “You’re good with that gun, and I could use another hand, replace your Pa.”
“Ain’t gonna replace him,” Zoe said softly. “Ain’t staying on board.”
Boxer didn’t look sorry. “I can understand that. What’d you intend to do?”
“I thought about joining up. Put some of my skills to use.”
“The military?” Boxer shook his head. “Can’t see you doing that.”
“Then I’ll surprise people.”
“Well, if that’s what you’re intent on doing …” He reached into the drawer of his desk and withdrew a tin box. Opening it, he removed a handful of notes and passed them over. “It ain’t much, but it’s what your Pa would’ve earned this trip. And a bit more. Kinda … compensation.”
Zoe pushed the notes inside her waistcoat. “Thank you.”
“There’s a recruiting post on Boros,” he went on. “’Less you feel like staying until we hit the central planets.”
“No. Boros will be fine.” She turned to leave.
“I am sorry, you know,” Boxer said quickly. “Your parents were good people.”
“Yes.” Zoe didn’t look back.
The recruiting officer looked her up and down. “You sure about this?”
“I’m sixteen. My parents are dead. If you want me to get their written permission, you’ll have to go and find their scattered molecules somewhere off Whitefall. And somehow miraculously bring them back to life.”
The officer did not laugh. “You keep that kinda mouth on you and you’ll be storing up trouble, soldier.”
“Soldier?” Zoe echoed.
“Yes. And it’s sir. Remember that. Every time. Sir.”
He filled in the last of the papers. “We’re having a few small problems out on the border moons, but that should just blow over. Nothing to be concerned about.” He looked up. “You’ll be training for eight weeks, then be posted. Could be anywhere. Maybe even one of the cruisers.”
He handed over her orders. “Welcome to the Army of the Alliance, Private Alleyne.”
For the next four years she followed orders, going from planet to planet, moon to moon, putting down riots, insurrections, even managing to have a little fun, until the war proper started. And her first taste of it was on a godforsaken hunk of rock called Jasper.
“What the hell are we doing here, Zoe?” the young man next to her asked, scratching his head. “I didn’t join up to be fighting no Independents.”
“We’re doing what we’re told.” She looked down at him. “Taking orders.”
“And if they’re wrong?” His name was Fielding, and he was younger than her, and not just in age. “I been listening to the things they’ve been saying, those transmissions on the Cortex.”
“You know that’s against Regs.”
“Not sure I care any more.” He shook his head. “Says the Alliance have been bombing moons from here to the border. Zoe, these people they’re fighting – they just want to be left alone. Is that so wrong?”
She didn’t answer.
“I joined up for the squares and something to do other than wielding a pick down the mine. That’s all there is to do on my home planet – mining and related activities. I didn’t intend to end up with damp lung, or any of the other thousand and one ailments miners get. And I don’t intend ending up with lead poisoning either, not for the Alliance. Not when I think they’re wrong.”
“You look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t feel the same.”
She couldn’t. “Talk like that can get you court-martialled,” she said instead.
“So? I ain’t gonna be around long enough for ‘em to find out.” He pulled the helmet from his head. “I ain’t staying, Zoe. Even if I don’t join the Browncoats, I won’t fight ‘em.” He unbuckled his armour and dropped it at his feet. “You coming with me?”
The boy smiled sadly. “You won’t stay, Zoe. I know you. You’ve got too much of a moral sense. But I can’t wait. So maybe we’ll see each other again.”
“Maybe.” Zoe wanted to stop him, to tell him not to be so stupid, only she couldn’t. Mainly because she didn’t think he was wrong. Instead she watched him melt into the night, the light from the shells exploding overhead illuminating the landscape, but he was already gone.
Six months later and she was facing an Independent soldier, his rifle trained on her, hers on him. One of them was like to die, and she was damn sure that it wasn’t going to be her.
“Seems like we’re at something of an impasse,” the soldier said, his voice like warm toffee.
“Seems like.” Zoe didn’t move.
“You gonna shoot me?”
“Thinking on it.” She couldn’t see him too well in this light, but he looked as if he was smiling. “You gonna shoot me?”
“Just wondering about it.” There was a pause. “Guess one of us is gonna have to fire.”
“Better you don’t,” came another voice from the side. “Zoe’ll probably kill you.”
“Fielding?” the man said. “You know this purple-belly?”
The young man came out of the bushes. “Name’s Zoe. And despite what she’s wearing she ain’t no purplebelly.”
“That the case?” the soldier asked, his rifle not wavering. “You going under false colours?”
“Not sure I know what you mean.” Zoe didn’t even glance at Fielding. “Thought you’d be dead by now.”
“Not yet. Can’t help feeling if I stick to my man here, I might even live to see out the war.” He moved forward. “If you join us, so will you.”
“I’m a soldier.”
“Good,” the other man said unexpectedly. “Need good soldiers. And I don’t much care to wonder what side they started out on, long as they end up on the right one.” He stared at Zoe, then lowered his gun. “Putting my faith in you here,” he said, his voice light, trusting. “You shoot me, and I’ll be somewhat annoyed.”
Zoe watched, confounded by this man. But slowly, inch by inch, she lowered her own gun. “If you try anything I’ll gut you.”
“Fair enough.” The man straightened. “And if you try and kill me, I’ll do the same. Okay?”
“Okay.” Zoe now looked at Fielding. “Is he really worth it?”
Fielding nodded. “Sure is. And I reckon if you’re here, so far from the rest of your forces, that you’re pretty much of the same mind.”
Zoe stared, then nodded. “They’re wrong. The Alliance. What they’re doing.” She looked straight into the taller man’s eyes. “But I’m a soldier. A purple-belly, no matter what Fielding says.”
“Then take off the uniform, and you won’t be no more.” He moved closer, a slight smile on his face, and now she could see that he wore a crucifix at his throat.
“That an invitation?” she asked, her lips twitching.
After a long moment she nodded. “Name’s Zoe Alleyne,” she said. “Late of the Alliance Army.”
“I’m with the 57th. Known to those that hate us as the Balls and Bayonets Brigade.” He stepped forward, his hand out, and she saw his eyes were a bright blue. “Name’s Malcolm Reynolds.”
“I didn’t know,” Hank said softly, his arm around her naked waist, lying together in the warmth of their bunk.
“No reason you should,” Zoe replied, her hand on top of his. “Only two people on board know the story. Three now.”
“And you trust me enough?” He looked down into her eyes from where he was resting on his elbow.
She smiled slightly. “We sleep in the same bed. I know about you. I figured it was time you knew about me.”
“That why you didn’t like me at first? Because we had that in common?”
“No,” she said. “I didn’t like you because you’re a pain in the ass.”
“Apart from that.”
“Well, it might have contributed to it.”
Hank smiled. “Thanks.”
“Nothing. Just … thanks.” He lay back down, his face in her hair. “Would you have fired?” he asked eventually.
“And he knows this?”
“No wonder he likes you at his back. He knows where he stands.”
Zoe smiled. “Always.” She turned so she could look into his eyes. “And so do you.”
“I feel honoured,” he smiled.
“So you should.” She stroked his chest. “So you damn well should.” She ran her fingers across his lips. “You gonna kiss me?”
“Long as you promise not to shoot me.”
“As long as you do what you’re told.”
“Okay.” He grinned and leaned forward. “Wouldn’t want you to tempt you into violence.”
Thursday, February 1, 2007 11:28 PM
Friday, February 2, 2007 12:11 AM
Friday, February 2, 2007 12:31 AM
Friday, February 2, 2007 7:03 AM
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