Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sarah asks some difficult questions (she's 3 and a bit, she's precocious). Jayne gets naked again. In public. Something significant discovered on Serenity. Mal starts the long journey to win Inara back into his affections. Simon does a brief autopsy on Niska. Landing on Ariel, with consequences.



We gotta get out of this place If it's the last thing we ever do We gotta get out of this place 'cause girl, there's a better life for me and you * We gotta get out of this place - The Animals * I wish we could back to the beginning cause there's something missing from your eyes. We lost a lifetime when I disappeared, now I am coming back to you. * I wish I could fly, I know I can save us somehow. You thought you were safe and sound but you need a hero now. You gotta believe even with broken wings, I've come to your rescue and you can't rescue me. * The Rescue – American Hi-fi *

“Mummy,” Sarah began, in that tone of voice any parent recognises is going to lead to a tricky question, “Why was that big cloth moving in the trees?” Zoe took a breath, “It was Jayne and Vera, remember them?” “'Course I do, Mummy!” Toddler indignant mode engaged, “Vera gives me milk an' cookies and Jayne gives me piggy backs sometimes in the cargo bay.” “Yes, well; they're together like Kaylee and Simon and River and Zhang and Mal and Inara. Grownups who that like to have a...erm...special cuddle sometimes and then it's private. We're waiting here till they've finished, okay?” “'Kay. Can't I watch? I like cuddles.” “Grownup cuddles are a bit different, sweetheart.” Sarah joined the dots, “Is that how babies are made? Special cuddles?” Zoe was just about used to having a bright and precocious child, “Sometimes. Grownups like to practice special cuddling quite a lot, it feels really good. You'll understand when you're older.” Zoe was trying by tone of voice and willpower to stop this line of questioning. “Are Jayne and Vera gonna have a baby?” “No sweetie, they can't. Sometimes people can't have babies, but they still like the cuddling bit. Vera and Jayne more than most.” “And you did that to have me?” “Yes, sweetheart.” “Okay.” Then, to Zoe's intense relief, Sarah spotted a striped fish in the shallows and her attention was diverted. Simon and Kaylee looked at each other, then the twins. Kaylee smiled, “It's going to be our turn next, isn't it?” * Several fish had been landed successfully by Zoe, River and Zhang when the group were aware of the sound of paws and eager canine noises coming from their right. A chunky, brown and black terrier type dog was bearing down on them, making eager growling type noises and wagging his tail like fury. Zoe scrambled ashore and picked up her gun. She was preparing the shot when the dog was rapidly followed by Jayne running down the beach and shouting. A rather flushed and very naked Jayne. Most of the assembled company hadn't expected or anticipated seeing Jayne without clothing and most of them never really wished to do so, but there was no avoiding it now. The merc was as naked as the day he came crying. “Hey, don't shoot! That's Ares!” He'd caught up to the dog and was holding Ares' collar. Ares was trying with most of his might to sniff these new interesting looking humans. Zoe looked at Jayne pointedly and raised one eyebrow expressively. “Jayne, you're naked.” Jayne looked down, realised, but stayed unflinching, “Ya seen a naked man afore, Zoe! Mebbe not one quite as big, but...” “Jayne!” Zoe was trying to silence him. Sarah was goggling as well, “Mummy...?” “Don't go there, Sarah.” “But Jayne's all hairy.” “Some guys are, sweetheart.” “An' he's got a big...” A motherly hand clamped down at the right moment and stopped Sarah's sentence dead. Zoe was fighting several emotions, but bent down and whispered in Sarah's ear, “I can see him as well as you, sweetheart.” Jayne was just grinning, all 'wouldn't you like a piece of this but you can't' attitude. * Vera had caught up by this point. She'd had the foresight to put a teeshirt and shorts on first. She silently handed Jayne a pair of shorts. Jayne gave in and put them on. Vera took Ares firmly by the collar, “This is Ares and he's an ex working dog. Seemed to be used in customs, if his tag is any clue. He's quite tame, if a little excitable at the moment. He seems to have been starved of human companionship. He adopted us several days back up by the old mining settlement. He's earned his keep; guarding our stuff and catching a giant crab for us to eat for a start. Might be useful in sniffing out dodgy goods. I suggest you come up one at a time and let him smell you. He'll quieten down once he's had a good sniff.” So River and Zhang came forward first. River offered her hand, Ares sniffed it and immediately rolled over onto his back submissively. River giggled, “He's a pussy cat!” Sarah blurted out, “But it's a doggy! A boy doggy!” River beckoned Sarah over, “I mean he's very friendly, like a cat. Likes having his tummy tickled.” Sarah came over, closely followed by her mother, “He got a penis.” River looked at her, “Boy animals and humans have those, Sarah. Girls don't.” “Girls grow babies.” “You're getting the idea, Sarah.” “Sam's got everything.” “Sam just grew both lots of bits. It's not very common. Makes Sam special.” “Well, *I'm a girl!” “We know. Come and scratch Ares' tummy.” Sarah did; Ares licked her hand all over and soon there was an orgy of giggling, eager canine noises, licking and tickling, including both Sarah and the twins who rushed to join the fun. Zoe sighed, fondling Ares' ears, “I give in; he's as soft as butter. There'll be no parting him and Sarah now.” Sarah looked up, “We can keep him?” “He kinda belongs to Jayne and Vera first, but yes. Just hope Mal accepts Ares as well.” * It took a couple of hours to get the Vera and Jayne's stuff packed and raid the beach for other fresh edible food. Jayne, Vera, Zhang and River got to work replacing the life pods securely whilst they were still in the atmosphere. On the way out, they made a stop at the mining station to raid the store of all the remaining cans and bottled goods which looked intact and to denude the apple tree of its crop. Ares ran all over the ship, exploring the new exciting smells. He scratched at the bunk which had been the temporary cell for Niska, making urgent grunting noises. Jayne finally found him and let him in the room. Ares scrambled down the ladder, which was quite a sight, then went to the left hand wall and pointed, grunting with even more urgency. Jayne followed down, tool belt still buckled around his waist. “What'cha found, huh? Nuttin' to eat in there, boy.” Vera popped her head down through the open door, “Well, he *is an ex-customs dog. Maybe there was contraband hidden there a long time ago, Jayne.” “Hmm..” Jayne got out his power tool, plugged it into an electicity source and started extracting the sunken screws on the metal wall pannelling. Ares scrabbled eagerly at his back. Jayne eased the panel off and put it to one side. “Oh my. Mal's not going to like that when he sees it.” “Better get the others, Vera.” Everyone who wasn't flying Serenity through space or a child gathered around the open doorway. Simon spoke for all of them, “Oh, juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean-jan...” Jayne gestured with his thumb, “Some go tsao de hwoon dahn spiked the cell!” Simon climbed down and had a look, “More of that gas which knocked you for six in a nice shiny red canister. Official, dual nationality markings. Ex-hospital stock, or ex-military. I'd guess one of the police types that helped Vera and the rest of us capture Niska was dirty and helped him escape,” he sighed, “You're right; Mal is going to be all kinds of pissed about this.” He bent down and patted Ares, “Far as I'm concerned, Ares has earned his place on the boat and the nearest thing we can do for steak tonight.” Jayne resealed the evidence for later. * Mal was following Inara, not for the first time. She was ignoring him; or at least making a good stab at pretending. “Inara; darling, you *know I didn't mean it.” Inara sighed softly and turned, finally facing him, “Didn't stop it hurting, Mal.” Mal threw his gun her way along the polished marble floor and bared his chest, “Hurt *me, then.” He went down on his knees, “I'll do *anything to get you back.” Inara picked up the gun, her hand trembling ever so slightly, “Much as I'm tempted to shoot you, I won't. I just need time, Mal. That wound – no matter how much I know you didn't mean it – went deep. Tore me apart.” “I know; I'm torn apart as well.” Inara nodded, “I *still need time. Perhaps you could think about courting me all over again.” “But we're married, my love.” Inara's lips twitched slightly, “Pretend we aren't. Show me how much you love me all over again.” At Mal getting up and starting to cross the distance between them, ardent and intent, she held up her hand, “Not like that, eager beaver. Try presents; flowers, silly love notes, things that maybe don't cost that much but say what you want to say to my wounded heart from yours.” Mal smiled winningly, “Could show you in bed, my love.” “Not yet. Every time with you - especially the last two times – I'm utterly vulnerable and open, like with no other lover. I'm not ready to open again like that yet; not until I'm sure it'll be the same for you.” Mal could see that she was trembling, “Time for truthing, Inara? Got gorram close to tears most times with you, it's been so sweet.” There were tears in her eyes now, “Thank-you. But I *still need time.” Mal nodded, “You've got it, bao bei. Just remember that I'm aching for you.” * Serenity made her way across the black towards Ariel. Jayne, Zoe, Cliff and Vera prepared their guns and other weapons. River's slender fingers skimmed across the console next to Zhang who was currently co-piloting. She was searching the government records whilst she flew. “Mal's presidential edict is still in place,” She announced over the tannoy, “We're not going to be arrested.” Simon, in the infirmary, let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. One hurdle cleared. He still kept preparing overdoses of morphine, just to be on the safe side. When he'd finished, he washed his hands, put on extra thick latex gloves, set up a recorder and set to work examining Niska's remains. “You okay, sweetie?” Simon smiled and paused the recorder, “Just doing the autopsy, darling. Sam and Lee okay?” Sounds of metallic tweaking came over the speaker, “They're in the playpen in the corner. Just adjusting a few bits.” “Better get back to this, sweet Kaylee. Lots of messed up bits here.” “Yeah; burnt engine would be about the same. Catch you later, sweetie.” The line went dead. Simon restarted the recorder and got to work. * “Male Caucasian, remains of one Adelei Niska. Aged sixty or so. Initial and eye witness evidence to the effect that he burned to death in a life pod crash. Hands and feet secured by metal regulation police handcuffs. Cutting those off now. Carefully removing remains of clothing. Good quality dark blue suit, white shirt, all in one undergarment; probably knitted cotton by the look of it. All several years old, but well kept. Obvious signs of severe buns over most of the body. Making long incision in chest and down abdomen. Using diamond cutter on sternum, easing back ribcage. Lungs badly burnt, post-mortem. Liver looking rather pitted, examining further. Gall bladder swollen, duct probably due to get blocked before much longer if life had continued. Starting to suspect something. Ah. Mass between lobes of liver. Taking sample, but it looks cancerous. Subject probably on the verge of feeling the effects of this mass if not actually suffering. Might have decided to die first, if he knew about the growth. If it's the kind of cancer I suspect, advanced hepatocellular, the prognosis is terminal and death would have been slow and painful. Going out in a literal blaze would be a lot quicker. Opening bile duct; yes cancer there too by the look of it. He was on his way out. Taking a second sample, just to be sure. Evil bastard probably in a heap of pain, unless he was on meds. Strike 'evil bastard'.” Simon sewed the corpse back up again and put the samples in the fridge, before closing, then sealing the body in hermetic medical wrap and carrying it down to the cargo bay. He had a hunch the authorities on Ariel would want to do an autopsy on the crime boss as well. * River was joined by Cliff for the descent. Not that Zhang was a bad pilot, but at least Cliff had up to date certification, which made things a lot easier. River was better at flying, but she hadn't got an official card that said so. They'd try to get a good fake card soon. Everyone else apart from Kaylee and the twins were sitting around the table in the galley. “So,” Zoe began, “In the absence of Mal, what's the plan?” Simon answered, “River's searching the Cortex very carefully and also emplying her psychic powers to locate Mal.” “I'd guess the presidential palace,” Vera commented, “That gas canister shows that there was some design and planning around getting us to lose our memories and split up. I'd guess the main objective was to get Mal and Inara back as joint presidents. Niska might have been implicated in that or be the scapegoat.” “Thing is,” Simon commented, “My brief autopsy of Niska's body revealed what I'm pretty certain is late stage untreated cancer. I doubt he'd have made trial. Might have gotten beaten up or tortured along the way, even under the new regime, but the growths were providing torture enough, I'm guessing.” “So the evil hwoon dahn may have let himself be used, with the false tooth you said was in his body with his own personal supply of drug.” Simon nodded, “Better free and dead than alive and captured. And he may not have known about the large canister; it depends who put that in there and when.” Jayne went on the defensive. “Weren't ruttin' there last time I fixed that room. 'Member Mal had me strip it of the bed 'n stuff ready to hold Niska. Checked the walls then. Was just a tin box with a ladder after I'd done.” Vera gently touched his hand, “We know. So, someone got that canister on board afterwards. I checked the ID of all those official police types who turned up; they were legit. Until we know for sure, one or more of those policemen or women was dirty and intent on getting Mal and Inara back as presidents by fair means or foul. And therefore had help from higher up the chain.” “Yeah, but why?” * Zoe shrugged, counting off on her fingers, “They were good at being president; someone is trying to damn the Browncoats with too much popularity; they want to trap one or more of us whilst rescuing him; they're being set up to be the fall guy; there's corruption somewhere and Mal and Inara are the best people for the job; someone wants another war or uprising; they – whoever 'they' are – are hoping to use Mal and Inara for their own purposes, maybe as figureheads. Any or all of those possibilities, or some other reason I haven't thought of. I know they were popular and good at the job; I was there, watching it all.” “So, what do we do?” “It's night down there in the city, isn't it?” River's voice came over the com, “Velvet black, with street lights like stars.” Zoe shrugged, “Land right slap bang on the roof garden again, if we can. Tool up and take it from there.” * Jayne, Vera and Cliff went first with Ares the dog, armed to the teeth and dressed head to toe in black or dark colours, complete with balaclavas. They scanned the garden; all quiet. Vera signalled a move towards the building. Zoe followed them with River and Zhang. Last of all Simon and Kaylee brought the children and the medical kit. Vera had lockpicked the door into the wing to the right of Serenity, the one where Mal and Inara had been last time. They proceeded carefully, room by room. Finally they came out into the great reception hall at the other end of the building. Lights suddenly flooded the room in yellow and gold. Mal and Inara were sitting on the presidential thrones, under guard. A huge ring of armed men and women surrounded the team. “Ah, crap!” Jayne said, “It *was a trap!” The children began whimpering with fear. “Not exactly,” Mal said, with exquisite care, “They have a job for us.” “Thinkin' it ain't a pleasant one.” One of the armed men stepped forward, removing his own balaclava. Jayne's eyes narrowed, “Commander Grayson.” “I apologise. We need your skills and expertise, *all of you; apart from the children. The squadrons we sent out were compromised and turned. They're bringing the maelstrom down upon us.” “What in ruttin' hell are you talkin' about?” River looked up, as if she could see through the roof, which was a distinct possibility, “The Hunters. Every last one of them that's alive has become a Reaver.” “And they're on their way here.” River was still looking up, “They're here now.” *


Tuesday, February 13, 2007 7:08 AM


Author's notes: I did a websearch on the cancer. Any medical errors due to me not being a doctor!

All Chinese in this part is from the series.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007 8:40 AM


Very interesting ... I've been keeping up with this story on and off. I think Mal made the biggest idiotic move calling Inara a whore again and I think it was a bit out of character. But I do look forward to watching him court Inara ... ah, the sweetness!

And of course, Sarah, love her!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:03 PM


Wow...action packed chapter this was! And I love Sarah! She's totally got Wash's crazy personality going for her;D

And there's advanced Reavers about to show up? Oh....fug:O


Wednesday, February 14, 2007 6:37 AM


Sarah is modelled on how my two children were at about the same age. Offspring #2 [now 18] was the one who asked 'why is the grass green' and 'why is the sky blue' at a very early age!

I agree, Mal was all sorts of idiot, but he was distracted amd not thinking straight.



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