Blue Sun Job, Part 15: Give the Devil His Due
Friday, July 16, 2004

Bad to better for Jayne, but ever so much worse for Mal.


Blue Sun Job, Part 15: Give the Devil His Due

Sequel to the Truthsome series (link is to part 1)
Blue Sun Job, Part 1: Plans and Schemes
Blue Sun Job, Part 2: Into the Lion’s Den
Blue Sun Job, Part 3: Going Smooth
Blue Sun Job, Part 4: Return to the Core
Blue Sun Job, Part 5: Life That Was
Blue Sun Job, Part 6: More Life That Was
Blue Sun Job, Part 7: ...and Robberies That Were
Blue Sun Job, Part 8: Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 9: More of Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 10: Going In
Blue Sun Job, Part 11: Home Again...
Blue Sun Job, Part 12: Waiting
Blue Sun Job, Part 13: Bushwhacked Revisited
Blue Sun Job, Part 14: Two By Two


No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters, just cussing

混蛋 = hwoon dahn (hundan) = bastard
他妈的 = ta ma duh = f*ck, or motherf*cking
哎呀 = Ai ya = damn
狗屎 = go-se = crap

Blue Sun Job, Part 15: Give the Devil His Due
靑日 Job: Give the Devil His Due

Weren’t nothin’ good to be said about waking up in a jail, Jayne thought as he groaned expansively. Not even if it was a clean, high-tech, Alliance jail that didn’t even smell like a proper jail. ‘Specially weren’t good to wake up in jail with the mother of all hangovers. Jayne moaned and struggled to sit up, clutching his head. Too damned bright in here. Jails shouldn’t be all bright and clean and white. Should be dark and dirty and stinky.

Jayne’s eyes roamed over the stark walls of the enclosed cell. Solid door--couldn’t see out. He supposed the cap’n and Zoe were locked up in cells like this somewhere nearby. Everything must have gone well and truly to hell on the job. Jayne just hoped it was Mal that blew it, not him. Mite fuzzy, though, on just what all went on last night. Or was it the night before? He was more’n a little drunk even before Mal dropped off the loot.

“Good morning, sir.” The cell door opened silently. Weren’t right. Jail cells ought to make that nasty pit-of-the-gut kerthunk sound. This just weren’t proper. And who the hell was that and who the hell would be ‘sirring’ him in a jail… or any other damned place, for that matter?

Jayne squinted up. It was a gorram cop looking down at him with an eerie damned smile on his face. Looked more like a waiter than a guard. What the hell…?

Guard had a tray with what sure ‘peared to be breakfast. 哎呀, a jail with room service? And poe-lite manners? The guard set the tray down.

“Those tablets will help your… um… discomfort,” the guard/waiter said.

Hangover’s the word, dumbass, Jayne thought, gulping the pills. Hell’s bells… score one for high tech Alliance 狗屎. His headache and queasiness eased immediately and that tray of breakfast suddenly looked damned appealing.

Another cop appeared behind the first. This one looked senior, an officer or some such. Jayne glanced up as he shoveled in the plate of food. Good stuff. Real food and lots of it. Not that he was keen to be locked up anywhere, but all things considered, this here jail weren’t half bad.

“The casino apologizes, sir, for your, uh, brief residence here,” the officer said. Jayne looked up. Huh? “And wishes us to assure you it was done solely for your own safety and comfort.”

What? Jayne stared. “What?”

“And you have their full assurance that your money is protected in their safe, ready for you to pick up at your convenience.”

哎呀. Helluva jail. Maybe Mal was flat-ass wrong about the Alliance and the Core. These seemed like damned shiny folks. Weren’t he under arrest, though? Jayne didn’t exactly want to probe the point in case it gave them notions. But… “What?”

“And a limo will be waiting for you outside when you’re ready, to return to the casino where, they tell me, they are more than happy to provide you a comped room for as long as you care to stay with them,” the officer concluded.

Huh. Waking up in a jail weren’t so bad after all.

* * *

Mal stared coolly at Harken while inwardly squelching that twitch of fear. He’d gotten past the biggest danger--to all of them, and to River and Simon. He just had to take care not to raise any suspicion that he was beating their truth drug. Where was Harken aiming with this talk of war and lost battles? Sure, he and Zoe had admitted to each other and themselves that winning one was a motivation for the job, but why the devil did Harken care? The Feds either had them cold on the evidence or they didn’t. Hmmm... maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were just fishing after all. But why Commander Harken? They’d crossed paths with him exactly once and that was way the hell out away from this Core system. Why would Harken be called back to question him. Whatever other talents Harken may have to offer the Alliance, Mal had not been exactly dazzled by his interrogation skills before.

What did Harken have? Had Jayne ratted them out? Or Monty’s Fed nephew? Serenity’s crew was in custody, what about Monty’s ship and crew? Had they got caught too?

Mal’s head spun and it wasn’t just with the unanswered questions and unknowns trying to trap him. This 狗屎 in his bloodstream confounded him. Couldn’t hardly hold his train of thought. He leaned forward, rubbing his eyes. One of the MPs pulled his left hand away, attaching a clip to his middle finger, with the wires running back to the console behind him. It was like a medical clip to read a person’s vitals. Except he doubted the sumbitches were concerned about his health.

Harken’s eyes left Mal for a flick--getting a ‘go ahead’ from the fellow at the console behind Mal, no doubt. Here we go, Mal thought.

“So, then,” Harken said, giving a sniff as he flipped through the pages in front of him. Mal’d have given a pretty to get a look at what was written there. That there was Harken’s big advantage--what he knew that Mal didn’t. Walking a mine field. Gorram mine field of truth and lies. Have one lie blow up in his face and the game would be over.

“You joined the Independents at quite a young age, it seems,” Harken said, still looking at the papers. “Nineteen or so? Is that correct?”

Mal managed a hesitation before answering. Holding control. “Thereabouts.” Don’t get him expecting fast yes/no answers.

“Would you say this service record is accurate?”

“Wouldn’t say.”

Harken looked up. “Do you mean it’s not accurate?”

“Don’t know.”

“Explain,” Harken said.

“I don’t know what you’re reading there. Don’t know what you Fed 混蛋 got from our command,” Mal said. “Give me a look and I’ll tell you.”

“Hmmm. Maybe later.” Harken sniffed and flipped a page back. “Interesting…” He looked up at Mal. “When was the first time you took up arms against the Alliance?”

Mal gave him a grim smile. “Back home. Kicked the 他妈的 off our world.”

“Yes,” Harken said, setting down the papers. He leaned back and regarded Mal speculatively. “The Shadow revolt. Before the war. Before there was even any sort of organized group calling themselves ‘Independents’. Isn’t that so?”

“Ummm.” Where was he going with this? And how much history was in those papers? And what did this have to do with the Blue… nope, don’t think that. Harken wanted to kill time with irrelevant 狗屎, Mal was more’n happy to play along.

“A ragtag peasant militia thinking they could murder Alliance soldiers with impunity,” Harken said, staring. Mal didn’t much care for the word ‘murder’ getting dropped into the conversation that way. “Tell me, sergeant, how many Alliance troops did you murder that day?”

Well, good on Harken for using the word ‘murder’ after all. It gave Mal the crumb of resistance to not blurt out the number that was on the tip of his tongue. “None,” he answered instead, a little shaken nevertheless that the urge to answer impulsively was still so strong and hard to contain.

Harken studied him a long moment. Mal could see his circuits flashing, calculating, doin’ the math. “How many Alliance soldiers did you kill that day?” Harken asked slowly and precisely.

“Three.” Shit! Too fast.

Harken’s eyes slid past Mal to the fellow at the whateverthehellitwas console behind him. “Why didn’t the first answer register as a lie?”

A voice behind Mal--vaguely familiar, though he couldn’t place it--answered, “Perception of truth is the key. This gives a register of perceived truth; truth as opposed to facts. What the subject regards as true rather than what is or is not factual.”

Standing, Harken clasped his hands behind him, looking thoughtful as he walked down toward Mal’s end of the long table. Even though he hadn’t moved, the guards clamped their hands down on Mal’s shoulders. Them fellas was brighter than their boss, Mal thought. “Then how can we know it’s working?” Harken asked.

“Get him to tell a known lie,” the voice at the console answered. “Then we’ll know if it’s calibrated correctly.”

No rutting way, Mal thought.

“Hmmm… I’m told that’s impossible at the moment,” Harken said. He was out of Mal’s field of view. When he came back by the table, Mal saw Harken had a small vial in his hand, turning it slowly and thoughtfully. Must be the stuff. Mal couldn’t read the label, but he did notice two things--with a chill that struck to the core of his soul--the vial was still about a third full of liquid, and it had a small, blue logo on the corner of it.

“Something just caused a reaction,” the voice behind Mal said. “First divergence off center I’ve seen yet.”

Harken raised a quizzical eyebrow, half-seating himself down on the edge of the table. “So… this frightens you,” he said, rolling the vial between his fingers. Mal just stared at him.

“I ain’t scared of you,” Mal said, low.

With a smile that was downright scary, Harken said, “Yes, you are. And you have every reason to be. We’re going to break you, you know. It’s just a matter of when. How long it takes and how unpleasant it is for you until we reach that point. Do you know that?”

“Yes.” Gorramit, he did know that. Time, and every other damned thing, was on their side.

“Yes,” Harken repeated. “I don’t need a machine or drugs to tell me that’s the truth.” Harken stood, striding back down to his end of the long table. He sat down, setting the vial on the table in front of him. Mal stared at it, fighting for control.

Harken was studying him closely. “Sergeant Reynolds. Do you know that you were injected with a drug that compels you to speak, and to speak truthfully?”

Mal swallowed. “Yes.”

“Hmmm… that is interesting. Especially so since I only learned of this drug today. So, you know this drug exists and you know how it works. Correct?”

他妈的 “Yes.”

Harken leaned forward, staring at him intently. “I know from your record that you’ve been interrogated by Alliance authorities before, though…” he flipped through the papers, “…there’s no indication any drugs were used on you in those instances.” He looked up again. “How do you know about this truth drug?”

Mal struggled against the compulsions battling within him, and the conscious awareness he couldn’t be caught in an outright lie, not at this point, not when the creepy suit guy could still be called back in to go back over that lethal-to-them-all territory regarding their hidden fugitives. He sighed and met Harken’s eyes coldly. “Because I used it on one of you sumbitches back in the war.”

* * *

Jayne stared up at the bright blue sky above the balcony of his hotel suite, not admiring the way the clouds drifted by, nor the purtiness of the color, but wondering at what altitude a man’d get sucked out an airlock. Mal was gonna kill him. He’d missed the rendezvous by better’n a day.

Walking back into the room--fanciest damned place he’d ever seen--Jayne stared at the money in the case on the bed. It was a fortune. He’d not only managed to launder the coin, he’d actually won more off the casino. He was a damned good gambler. ‘Cept when it came to betting against one Malcolm Reynolds. Never did know a 混蛋 who could back him down like the cap’n did, and just with a look. Gave him the uncomfortables.

Jayne looked around the hotel room. It was sorely tempting to say ‘the hell with it’, take the money and head off on his own. Weren’t like he had the kind of grievances with the Alliance that Mal had. Not that he had any kind of liking for the 混蛋, but this kind of cash would buy a lot of bygones. And it weren’t like the cap’n could hunt him down here on this Fed-infested world. Mal had to lay way lower on this moon than Jayne did. Jayne could be free and rich and not have a boat-load of sentimental fools nattering on about loyalty to trouble his conscious.

Oh, hell… Crossing to the Cortex screen, Jayne punched up Delta port info. Like as not the cap’n had already written him off, taken Serenity and bolted on outta here.

Jayne stared at the readout on the screen for a long time. Then he slowly, and methodically, set about tracking news reports and--using some codes he wasn’t supposed to have--tapping into Alliance arrest reports. 他妈的.

Yup. Jayne was free and rich. No more ties to that dumb-ass little ship or its crew. He could walk away clean and never give a one of them another thought.

He sighed and punched a cross-worlds phone link. The screen cleared after a moment.

“Hey, ‘Nara,” Jayne said, with a grin. “How’s about we set an appointment for some Companion-like whoring?”

* * *

Harken stared at Mal for a long time, then gave himself a small shake. “Well,” he said. “Well, then…” He looked down at his papers, obviously not really seeing them, but shuffling through them nevertheless. “I suppose we can drop any pretense here, then,” Harken said, focusing again on Mal. “I had imagined this interview might take several days, but we may be able to conclude the matter in fairly short order. Tell me, sergeant--do you know of a way to beat this truth dr…”

Had to cut him off. Couldn’t risk answering that question, truth or lie. He was cornered. Out-gunned. Out-maneuvered. And with no line of retreat. That left only one option. Attack.

“What matter is that, Harken?” Mal demanded, cutting in before Harken could finish his question. “What the hell are you after? Huh? I ain’t done nothing I know of that should have your ass in here pestering me with a load of 狗屎 questions. You got charges against me? If you do, make ‘em. Otherwise, let me outta here.” He made a half-hearted attempt to rise, stopped immediately by the guards.

“You’re not leaving, sergeant,” Harken said quietly. “There are enough charges standing against you and your crew just as we sit to put you out of our way for a some time. Even without my purpose in interviewing you here, the authorities on Beta would welcome a chance to discuss some old matters with you. Then there’s the matter of having landed on Delta with false registration on your ship. Why’d you do that?”

“Are you an idiot, Harken? Don’t need any gorram truth drug to get the answer to that. Of course you are. We’d have never been allowed into this system otherwise, or been arrested as soon as we landed,” Mal said.

“I suppose that’s true.”

“That you’re an idiot,” Mal inserted. One of the guards made a sound quickly converted to a discrete cough.

Harken ignored him. “It doesn’t affect the legality of the matter, though it’s a minor issue. You have quite a history in this system--and not one I’d think you’d care to revisit, judging from these files. A fairly unpleasant stay here, from the looks of it.” He put the papers down and looked up. “Why did you come to this system?”

Mal shook his head. “Just dropping off our whore.”

Harken’s eyes widened and he shuffled through his papers again. “Ah, yes… the Companion. Explain.”

“She wanted to leave and wasn’t keen on getting dumped off on some rim world. Paid us to take her in to the Core.” Mal held his breath, waiting to see if the gadget behind him twigged to the half--well, less than half--truthness of that statement. Fighting not to react as Harken’s gaze again slid past him to the fellow at the console, Mal held his control carefully.

“Ummm… that’s doubtful, Commander,” the voice behind him said. “There was a small reaction, but nothing definite.”

Harken studied Mal closely. “You didn’t need to leave the port on Delta to drop off the Companion. Yet I know you spent several days on Beta. At a hotel. A somewhat unsavory hotel. With your first officer. The woman married to your pilot. Did you sleep with her?”

“Yes.” Just sleeping, though not much of it. “What the 他妈的 business is it of yours, Harken? Screwing ain’t illegal that I know of… ‘less it’s in a public park.”

“No, it’s not,” Harken said and Mal didn’t care at all for the slimy smile spreading across the Fed’s face. “But it does show me a crack in the loyalty of your crew. About your pilot. And your first officer. And do you love her?”

“No,” Mal answered fast. Annoyed.

“That’s a lie,” the voice behind him came flatly. That? That’s what they were gonna get him on? Holy 狗屎. Mal couldn’t have even said himself if that was a lie or not--what was right? Him, the truth drug, or the gorram lie detector?

Harken watched Mal as he twirled the drug vial. Mal knew he’d let his reaction show and was cussing himself for it.

“The drug might be wearing off, sir,” Harken’s aide said. “Might want to give him the rest.”

“Or the sedative might be giving him some resistance, some control” the voice behind Mal said.

“Hmmm…” Harken stared. “Well, we have time. Let’s let the sergeant have some time, too, to think. While I discuss matters with the rest of his crew. I imagine that pilot might like to have a chat about this.” He gestured to the guards. “Take him back.”

“What the 他妈的 are you after, Harken?” Mal asked angrily as the guards pulled him up, fastening his hands behind him again. “What do you care about the private lives of my crew? What the gorram hell does that have to do with anything? What are you really after?”

“Oh, your tawdry affair with your first officer is of no concern, other than as it gives me leverage.” Harken tilted the vial, looking at it fondly. “I have only a small dose of this left and must make certain it has maximum efficacy when you and I talk about more serious matters.” He smiled up at Mal, a reptilian smile. “Interesting as this drug is, I’m somewhat of a traditionalist at heart. Other methods have value in this process. You will break and give me everything I want.”

“流口水的婊子和猴子的儿子,” Mal said. (This means: “Stupid son of a drooling harlot and a monkey”--said by River to Mal in “Safe”, prefaced with “You’re not him.”) “Stop playing games and tell me what it is you’re after.” The guards were dragging him backwards toward the door. Time was on Harken’s side. Mal didn’t know how long the counter-agent to the truth drug would last. And didn’t know how long he’d hold out against Harken’s ‘traditional’ methods of questioning.

Harken looked at him coldly. “A confession, among other things.”

“Confession of what?” They were at the door.

A chilling smile. An obnoxiously smug sniff. Harken gestured to the guards with the hand not holding the 哎呀 vial.

They dragged Mal out.

Mal stopped fighting the guards after the door to the interrogation room slid closed, though he let them support a good bit of his weight. He felt weak and dizzy. Drained. And they weren’t half done.

They entered a lift. As the door closed, one of the MPs escorting Mal gave a soft snort. Then all four burst out laughing.

“Drooling son of a monkey and a harlot,” one said.

“No, no, it was ‘Stupid son of a drooling harlot and a monkey’,” another corrected. They laughed again. “That was good.”

“So glad to make your day,” Mal said sourly. “How’s about you boys giving me a bit of a break, here?”

“Shut up,” one snarled, smacking him.

“No one ever said Independents were bright,” another said.

They lapsed back into silence, but were a touch more considerate than they’d been before, not as outright rough, at least. Insulting their commander must have earned Mal a few points with the troopers. Before putting him back in the waiting room, they made a stop at a restroom, not preventing him from splashing some water on his face, and cupping his hands to drink a bit, which he promptly threw up into the toilet. Rinsing his mouth out, Mal leaned against the sink. The kindly indulgence was over, though, and the MPs hauled him on out and back into the metal cell, this time chaining his hands high up over his head.

One of the guards produced another injector. More rutting drugs.

The door slammed closed and the lights went out. Mal closed his eyes and grimaced. This one buzzed through him, shocking him into painful wakefulness. Some sort of stimulant. Keeping him awake. Bastards.

He tried to sort through all what was said, but he was having the devil’s own time trying to focus. Time. Was on the devil’s side. And Harken was the devil. Had to give the devil his due. But what was that? What was he after?

One shockingly clear bit of calculation came through to Mal--they didn’t have him on the Blue Sun job. Harken was after something else entirely.

Blue Sun Job, Part 16: The Edge


Friday, July 16, 2004 3:28 PM


Mal just isint well stocked in luck is he? Ah well, if he was we would know so little i suppose

Friday, July 16, 2004 4:05 PM


It just keeps getting better and better! Great Work.

Saturday, July 17, 2004 2:43 AM


Excellent story still, but the chapters are all too brief!

Saturday, July 17, 2004 4:17 AM


Oich! Good stuff!

Saturday, July 17, 2004 4:50 AM


That was *so* Jayne. First sentence had me smiling. Then his wanting to make off with the money, his fear of being spaced ... excellent. True to character.

As for the interrogation - that Harken's a cunning hun dan! Fascinated to know what he's up to. And dreading what he's going to do to Zoe and Wash's marriage. Hopefully Zoe will slit the weasel's throat!

Saturday, July 17, 2004 9:41 AM


This was rutting excellent! I hope our Captain can hold out until the cavalry, or whoever can come to rescue him, gets there. I am really intrigued as to just what it is that slimey *tamade hundan* Harkan is after. Seems saving a man's life don't count for much his end of the gutter. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, July 19, 2004 3:25 AM



Your writing rocks! I've read a lot of ff in my time and your work stands with the best of the best!

Can't wait for the next installment!


Wednesday, July 21, 2004 1:51 PM


Sorry I haven't been commenting, but lost my net connection recently. Loved this part! Jayne's conflict was well done. I think i was just as surprised as he was that he got to keep the money. Great writing and characters as always. Look forward to cutting and pasting the next update for later perusal at home.


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Blue Sun Job--A Sequel: It Means a Thing
Post-Serenity, Mal & Zoe share a moment, or two. And then some. Story takes place in the context of the "Blue Sun Job" scenario. COMPLETE One-er.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 39: Into the Black
The conclusion of the Blue Sun Job.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 38: Shadow
Mal & Zoe's past smashes into the present. Everyone on the crew gets an earful, especially Wash.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 37: Plan B
There's a dead Shepherd on the floor, a bunch of angry live ones, and Mal, Zoe, and Simon in their midst.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 36: One Down
Return of the "Blue Sun Job"! First of the last four chapters of this story.

Blue Sun Job, Part 35: The Worthier Part
Book's more nefarious, Mal's less crazy, and Zoe is dangerously pissed.

Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books...
Book's nefarious. Mal's crazy. And Simon is bewildered.

Blue Sun Job, Part 33: Light and Shadow
Mal has just had his big tell-all session with Book concerning his and Zoe's history. Now landed at the Shepherd's Sanctuary, they have to deal with the fallout and with Book's mysterious past and plans.

Blue Sun Job, Part 32: Revelations
Mal and Book talk about some Big Damned Things.

Blue Sun Job, Part 31: The Heart of the Matter
Tales & stories come out into the open--more than a little dark. But not to worry, Jayne, the philosopher, also explains women.