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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Jayne meets the locals.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1204 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
5. The Good, The Bad and The Aesthetically Challenged
“I see Gia took issue with the whole sleepy-time thing...”
Simon takes the ice-pack off his eye, and returns Mal’s badly-concealed smirk with a grim smile.
“The female of the species fights dirty.”
“What did she hit you with?”
Their little pilot is not a fan of unscheduled napping.
“So, do we mount another daring rescue, or is this another adventure in sitting?”
“Don’t know the countryside, so I guess we just have to wait for a sign.” Mal’s mouth twitches. “Woulda been kinda fun to go rescue Jayne from a bunch of nuns, though.”
Simon sniggers, winces, then puts the ice back over his eye.
“Not the other way around?”
“You din’t meet that Mother Superior.” Mal shivers. “Anyhow, our ‘guests’ are leaving, and they gave us back our winnings.”
It’s a glum team heading back to town. Rik is sacked out across the back seat. He’d been up until the small hours with the gun collection. Only G seems unaffected by the mood. Pancho is grumbling.
“All that way, and we nearly had him. A chance to really clean up the streets.”
“We know he was alive last night.” Dodge ventures.
“Yeah, and instead of sitting pretty, he’s gone walkabout in the woods.”
“They don’t like strangers up there.” Honey grimaces. “Remember those film students?”
“We know the ground, but they know the man.” G breaks in on the bickering. “We have a whole crew who think he’ll be back.”
“So what we gonna do? Sit on the riverbank and wait for him to float downstream?” Rik jibes angrily. G ignores him.
“We have to find him before he meets up with the ship. I don’t think they would stay around anywhere for legal proceedings.”
“Hell!” Rik jolts upright. “They got a bounty on ‘em?”
A very cold gaze.
“We are solving a robbery. They haven’t committed a crime on this planet...”
(“That we know of...” mutters Honey.)
“...so we can’t hold them.”
Rik drops back again, face tight with frustration. But this is their town. They don’t need Feds. G continues.
“If they move, I want to know. Keep watching the skies.”
Jayne looks at the stars above the trees. It’s been a slow while working his way down the mountainside, and he should be thinking about catching a few hours sleep. He misses Larji. Got used to having a little warm something curled up next to him. Been a time or two he’s rolled over without a thought, an’ there’s been squeaking, but it ain’t ever been nothing a cuddle couldn’t sort. Sighs. Got a ways to go and things to do before he can shut his eyes...
~They get tourist fellas up here, sometimes, ones as reckon they can hunt. Don’t take long afore they find out otherwise. Up here, you gotta know the territory. Read the signs, be at one with nature. Feral shadows slip through the night, barely a whisper of leaves in their passing, call-signs hidden in the small cries of night birds. Eyes in the trees, watching, reflecting the glint of the fire...~
They spill out into the clearing, whoopin’ and hollerin’, set to put a little scare on. But the place is empty. No garish tents, just a small neat camp-fire. They get time to have a stare about, bemused, afore they find a face missing.
“Tector, you seen Deke?”
“Nope, thought he was followin’ behind Eli.”
“Last I saw he was uphill from Charlie...”
New voice from the trees drawls,
“Y’all lookin’ for this?”
This ain’t one of them soft city boys, up for the hunting. Nothin‘ with muscles like that ever sat behind a desk and bragged about bagging deer. And he has the boy Deke held in one brawny arm, seemingly impervious to the drumming of feet on his shins.
(Deke had thought he was doin’ just fine, until a blade slid up under his chin, and a voice growled right in his ear.
“You’re gonna track a man, don’t get upwind of him when you bin eatin’ garlic, dong ma?”)
They stare at each other. Handful of shaggy mountain men, slung about with shotguns, and one stranger. But he ain’t dressed fancy, and he caught one of their own, silent and easy.
“You gonna let him go?”
“Depends.” But he ain’t cut on the boy. Yet. That’s a mighty fine big knife he’s holding.
“You hunted men before, I’m thinking.”
“Only if I’m bein’ paid.”
Great rumbling laugh breaks from one of the other men.
“Won’t get much for Deke. He ain’t even shaving yet.”
The mountain folk had been real nice. Was kinda like visiting his own kin up country back home. Been a long time since he enjoyed a possum stew that tasty. (Even has a note of the recipe for Larji.) Still prefers his guitar to one of them banjos, mind.
Early morning, he gets clear of the trees, and the green drops away. World stretches before him, a vista of barren flats and scrub. Smudge on the horizon might well be the city, but without lights, it ain’t much to aim for. Jayne squints at the sky. It’s gonna get hot out here real soon, so he’d best find the highway and start walking.
When the roadhouse comes into view, he’s right glad to see it. Might be a dusty flyblown place (hell, if they had one horse round here, the locals prob’ly et it) but it’ll have a link, mebbe he can ‘phone home.
Leans on the bell. After a while, leans on it again. A tousled head pokes out of the door.
“Tha’s right, hon. You gotta ring twice. Always hafta tell the postman that...” She hauls the door open. “Welcome to Bleeker’s Bar and Grill.”
Place falls quiet when he shoulders in, but there’s something about the general size and shape of the stranger, means folks just turn back to their drinks. Ain’t but a handful of men, anyhow, and the one waitress.
“Now what can I get you?” Glance of her eye is tired and professional, brightens into something a little more as she takes him in. “You look like a man with a good appetite...”
She would have been a looker, once, before time and booze took their toll. Under the puffy flesh of her jaw, good bones. A life going nowhere, counted out in coffee spoons and cigarette stubs, wasted in the dust besides a highway she never took.
“Leave the man be, Maggie. You wantin’ coffee or somethin’ stronger?” Seth Bleeker pulls a cloth from his shoulder, wipes the bar with it. Just moves the grease around a little, but he’s making the effort.
“Coffee sounds real good.” Jayne sniffs. “You servin’ breakfast?”
“Fire up the griddle, Roy...”
“Uh-huhn.” The fry-cook is a chubby man, straining the seams of his overalls, greying sideburns and thinning hair in a quiff. He croons quietly to himself, flipping eggs. Jayne leans on the counter.
“Say, you got a ‘phone I could use?...”
Startles all hell out of Mal when the wave comes in. He’s expecting an earful from the Holdens, ‘bout where their transport is, but the face on the screen is even more familiar.
“Mal?” Massive relief, quickly covered up with a scowl. “Guess you’re all okay, then.”
“Jayne? We’re all fine. Where in hell you got yourself?”
“Ain’t got no idea of where I am, Mal. Some roadhouse corner of no and place. Now lemme talk to ‘Larji.”
“She’s kinda pissed...”
“So’m I. Bunch of nuns hit me with a freakin’ bus.”
Short of sitting on her, there is no way to keep Ilargia off the bridge when she hears that voice.
“Jayne, you asshole, where in hell...”
“I’m comin’ home soon as I can, darlin’.” That grin she’s missed so much. “’Jacked a ship to come back to you afore, reckon I can do it again, I need to...don’t cry, bao bei, I’m comin’ back to you...”
Mal backs off a little. Ilargia hasn’t cried since he went missing, held it all in, in a way has had them all worried.
“Now, I ain’t got but a credit or two lef...” And the signal blinks out.
Ilargia wipes her eyes, manages a laugh.
“We are going to get him?”
“Soon as we can. Don’t leave crew behind, you know it.” Flips switches. “People, our wanderer done popped his head up. River, get your li‘l...”
“Everybody relax, I’m here.” River slides into her seat. “Ready to rock and roll.”
Things have a way of getting about. And word is out that there might be someone could cause Marlon and his boys a world of trouble. Just a whisper on the streets. Takes its time to reach Marlon, and by then, it has to shout, rather than whisper, since drink and the sound of gunfire have addled the man considerable. But the message gets through. Means the whole posse of them saddle up, and roar out of town. A whole heap of ugly, wreathed in exhaust fumes, rolling down the road like all hell coming down.
Miss Kit swishes into the station house like a delicately perfumed angel of death.
“G! We got a problem.”
“We?” G raises an eyebrow.
“Yeah. Because of course you were going to tell me about that witness, weren’t you?” Places a finger on his chest.
“We lost him, Kit.”
“Well, it seems someone might have found him for you. Marlon and his boys just took off on the mountain road.”
“G...” Dodge skids, grabs the doorframe in his haste. “Just hacked a wave...oh, hi, Miss Kit.”
“Guess you’re not the only ears in town.”
“Then we better hope we get to him first.” G checks his pistol. Kit falls in beside him.
“I got men and guns waiting outside.” She says firmly. “And that’s my money we‘re talking about.”
G doesn’t waste breath arguing. There were folks in this town figured a woman couldn’t run a casino with the big boys. Most of them are breathing dirt. He merely bangs his fist on the lounge doorframe for attention.
“The game’s afoot.”
“Okay.” Pancho claps his hat on. “Let’s get rambling.”
Saturday, March 17, 2007 5:30 AM
Saturday, March 17, 2007 8:48 AM
Sunday, March 18, 2007 1:58 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 2:50 PM
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