Shadow War - Chapter Ten
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

You don't eat with the rest of the thieves!


After announcing that is was time to eat, the asian gentleman took his leave, as did Red Veil, though no one actually saw him leave. He requested that everyone meet him back there in two hours. Shepherd Book was conspicuously absent, having left before the asian gentleman did. Mal ordered everyone to gather some food and take it back to the ship. There were several cries of protest at this, mostly from Jayne and Kaylee. Simon was having a hard time balancing two plates and asking River what she wanted. River seemed to be in a daze since they stepped off the ship. Without a word, she took the plate from Simon, put a few more cursory things on it, and wandered off towards Kaylee, who was loading her plate with sliced apples and a bit of melon, but no real staple foods. Simon watched her go perplexedly. He shrugged and turned back to the table and almost ran into a tall blonde woman wearing a skintight jumpsuit and more guns than Jayne. "You look familiar to me. Have we met before." Simon goggled for a bit. Women as a rule didn't approach him. At least not out here, and it had been a long time at any rate. He started to put up his guard, but he was taken with how beautiful the woman was. He slowly turned to see what Kaylee and River were doing. River was watching him, or so it appeared. On closer inspection, she was watching the new arrival. Simon immediately turned back to her. "No, I don't think so. I don't get out to Pegasus much." "No, I don't suppose you would" she said, running a finger down Simon's vest. And, of course, Kaylee turned just in time to see this. "My name is Sepia. What's yours?" Simon was stuck. When he had tried to play at lying in the whole before, it was an utter failure. He hoped he didn't come off sounding like a schoolboy. "Mine's Jason. If you don't mind, I have to get back to the ship." "Which ship is that? If you don't mind my asking?" Simon acted like he didn't hear, and continued over to River and Kaylee. "We need to leave. Now" "Why? Did you find a way to alienate her too." Kaylee said, cattily. "River, is there a problem?" Simon asked. He had learned to trust his sister's instincts. River shook from her reverie. She was still staring at Sepia, and said "Don't know yet. Its problematic. Could be. Might be. If you handle it wrong." Simon didn't know what to make of this, but the curious stranger was still watching them, and it was far time to go. Something in his face made Kaylee understand that this wasn't about him and her, but about River, and that snapped her to attention immediately. She helped Simon gather River and walked to the ship. Sepia watched them go, smiling. "Catch you later...Simon." * * * Jayne, in typical fashion was the last to show up, as he was carrying three plates in one hand. He left the other hand open for drawing and shooting, if the need arose. He got back on the ship to find it a littler tenser than he would have liked. Zoe was still very mad at Wash, and wasn't afraid who knew it. Book was wearing an uncharacteristic look of fear and concern on his face. Simon was talking excitedly with Kaylee and River was watching him in that spookifying way of hers. Mal was standing in the middle of this wearing a very weary look. Jayne pulled up the nearest crate and tucked in. Inara was still at her interview. Mal didn't care how it was going, but he was an inch away from loading everyone up and heading for the black. The quarters here were cramped full of people who would pick your pocket, and then act offended that you accused them of picking your pocket. All these people here on this planet at once were a recipe for disaster if Mal had ever seen it. Wash had made it clear, though that they were going to need some money, and soon, because they were running out of fuel. Mal walked over to Wash and Zoe. "Settle this. Now!" He walked over to Kaylee and Simon. "What's the problem?" Simon explained about Sepia, and her overcuriosity about him. Mal had a feeling he knew who had gotten out of that Death's Head earlier. A bounty hunter. That was just what he had needed. He had kept them on this ship for the better part of six months, and they needed a little jot planet side. "Jayne?" Jayne looked up, a whole chicken leg stuck in his mouth, and grunted. "You are to stick by the good doctor's and his sister's sides for now. Do not let them out of your sight when they're off this ship. Appears someone might have already recognized them." Jayne huffed, looking at Simon. He huffed again and looked at River. "Couldn't we just tie them to the side of ship or somethin' Mal?" Mal ignored him and went back to trying to calm the place down. "Book? What's wrong. It must be something powerful to have you all stirred up like this." Book jumped a little when addressed. "Captain? Do you know who that was out there?" Mal shook his head. "I know you know who Shan Yu was." Mal tensed up, already not liking where this was heading. He had been quoted Shan Yu when he had been tortured to death and revived once. He doubted it was anything he would forget any time soon. "I believe that is Shan Yu's last living descendant. Shang Yu. I could be wrong, but, I doubt it. You see, once, he and I..." He was interrupted by the arrival of Inara, who looked surprised that everyone was in the cargo hold. She had been pleasantly charmed by Shang, and was happy that she had found a client all the way out here. She immediately frowned. "What's going on?" "The good reverend was about to tell us something about our host. Book, please?" After a moment, Book continued. "I know personally that he is a very dangerous man. He was once a contract killer, and a very good one, possibly the best. I personally saw him kill three people in as many seconds with his bare hands." "You saw...Where did you see this, Preacher?" Jayne spoke up. "Never you mind that. Suffice it to say that he is very skilled and very dangerous. I had heard that he had been killed a number of years ago, but it wuold appear that I was wrong. Why he would call all these people out here is something I can't account for, but it can't be good." "I just spent the last hour with our host, and he was uttery charming." Inara said. "I'm sure he was. But, the Shepherd says he's dangerous, then he's dangerous." "Then, I suppose I shuold cancel my contract with him." Mal thought for a second. "No, don't do that. It might be handy having you there. I wouldn't dream of asking you to betray a client, but you could let us know if there is something going on. Now, was I mistaken, or did I see a whole passel of Companions out there earlier?" "No, you're right, you did. There were at least five or six, but I didn't recognize any of them. They weren't from my house order." "Well, go on out and meet some folks, find out if they know anything we don't. It looks like we got at least one bounty hunter here who might have ID'd Simon and River. Might do us well to find out who else knows what. And anything you can give us on this Shang Yu character would be helpful. Keeping in mind your like for keeping things nice and clandestine." "I'll see what I can do." Inara said, rather tersely. "Shepherd, would you care to elaborate any more?" Book looked around. "No, Captain. I've said my piece and told you everything you need to know." "Okay, so this Shang guy is dangerous. Everyone got that. Jayne, you stick to Simon and River. I'm going to try and find this Sepia person. You're all still free to roam around, but Zoe, I'd like for at least one someone to stay on the ship to guard it. Don't need Raydor or any of his crew wandering in and taking something important, like a catalyzer or something." He tipped a wink to Kaylee, who grinned despite herself. "Yes sir. I don't Raydor or ANY of his crew coming in here and taking anything important either." Zoe said, with a stabbing look at Wash. "Wash, I want you with me. We're going to take a closer look at some of these ships. As a matter of fact, Kaylee, you come with me too. Never hurts to find an advantage. Even if you have to cheat to get it." "Book, could this Yu guy ID you?" "Might be Captain. Its been a while." "Well, you be more careful than most, okay. We'll be back before its time to hear what the man has to say. I don't know if he's mean you any harm, but better safe than sorry." "Mean me harm..." Book said, trailing off towards his room. "Okay folks. I'm sure we all have something to do." He gathered his people and left. River and Simon merely looked at Jayne, who jammed a whole roast beef sandwich into his mouth and said: "Don't go anywhere." Simon sighed and prepared to spend the rest of the time on Pegasus on the ship. River still looked strained and perplexed.



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