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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
Reunited and on the run, the crew seeks to finish the job they started. Though with their guide dead, the easy route becomes perilous … Dowload the full PDF here… A.N.: Post-BDM, sequel to ‘Three Strand Cord’…Ch 4: Crew seeks safe harbor
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1367 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
River moaned like a tired child when Zoë set her down on the Infirmary bed. Simon rushed quickly to splint River’s broken hand, but Zoë’s thoughts were elsewhere.
“River, honey, can you tell me where we are?”
“We’re on a ship. Mid-bulk transport—”
“Where in the ‘verse, River?” Zoë interrupted. “What world are we near?”
“Close to home.”
Zoë furrowed her brow. River’s home was Osiris – a core planet, and nowhere close to here. Still, Mal must have oriented himself. The ship shuddered and swayed as they entered atmo and set down. She was concerned about the lack of fancy flying, wondering if Mal had found them a crater or some place to hide, because setting on the open range would be suicide. Her heart pounded when she heard the back door open, and she ran out of the Infirmary, drawing her shotgun.
The cool autumn air swept through the cargo bay, carrying the smell of manure and hay. The room filled with the echoes of mooing cattle, triggering memories of a time when the cargo hold was full of those smelly animals. The sun gleamed through the back door, blinding Zoë, casting Mal into silhouette. Stealthily, she crept sideways around the bay, angling away from the sun until she could see outside.
From her view behind the aft bulkhead, Zoë could see a half dozen ranchers, all with long barrel shotguns aimed at Mal. She could only imagine that the circle extended around the whole back door. Qian Chung loyals, she assumed, watching Mal’s every move. He had one hand shielding his eyes in his typical “don’t shoot me, I’m no one of consequence” posture.
“You best stay on that boat and turn back to the black you came from!” one of the ranchers bellowed in the deep, strong voice of a foreman
“Dekker?” Mal hollered, squinting and leaning forward. A shot fired, grazing Mal’s arm. Instinctively, Zoë tackled Mal to the ground and aimed her weapon, but Mal stayed her hand. Staying down, out of the line of fire, Zoë watched as Mal stood, brushed off his coat, and addressed Dekker again.
“Sorry I didn’t call first. I lost your number.”
“Malcolm Reynolds? That you boy?” Dekker answered.
Zoë’s head dropped in relief, recognizing the greeting between old friends.
“Dekker, hold fire!” a woman cried out, frantically pushing her way through the crowd. “Hold fire, I know that ship! That’s my boy’s ship!”
Mrs. Reynolds broke through the front line, twittering frenetically as she ran to the ship. She was a lean lady, her skin tanned and leathery from too many years in the sun, her hair streaked with gray. Zoë had met her at Mal’s wedding and immediately taken a liking. She had jovially insisted that they all call her Mama Reynolds.
“Hey, Mama,” Mal greeted as she ran up Serenity’s ramp, hugged him fiercely, and covered his face with kisses. Laughing, Mal picked up her up and spun her around. As soon as her feet hit the ground again, Mama Reynolds ran to the edge of the boat and barked orders to her men.
“Dekker, go kill that bull we’ve been saving. Pull out the fine spices! Gather the firewood!” she cried, then turned to Mal, a serious scold clouding her face. “I haven’t seen or heard from you in ages and here you fall out of the sky unannounced!”
“I’m sorry, Mama.”
“Don’t be sorry, son! Do it more often! I watch the sky every day waiting for you to come home. I can only guess the occasion ain’t good.”
“Some good, some bad,” Mal acknowledged, linking arms with her.
“Hiding from the Qian Chung?” she asked. Mal gave a half-nod. “Bunch of hooligans. But don’t you worry son. We can take ‘em.”
Simon chose that moment to enter the cargo bay, and immediately the dozen ranchers had their rifles at ready again. Zoë tensed.
“Deng yi miao,” Mama Reynolds ordered, warily eying Simon. The men lowered their weapons, but the tension remained. Mama Reynolds shifted on her feet, looking from Simon to Mal. “A You Qian?”
“Mama, you remember Simon Tam.”
The older woman nodded suspiciously. “As in Simon and Kaylee Tam?”
“Formerly,” Simon agreed.
“This ain’t a simple brawl, then?”
Mal shook his head, regret tingeing his voice. “‘Fraid not.”
Mama Reynolds thoughtfully considered a moment, her mind running a thousand scenarios. Then she shook off the expression like an old shoe.
“Just as well,” she dismissed. “Now, where’s my granddaughter?”
Mal tried to talk his mother out of killing the bull, knowing she intended an all out barbeque, which would surely send smoke signals high enough for the Qian Chung to see. He was itching to set up defenses, or at least find a better place than his childhood home to make a stand against the Qian Chung. But his Ma had him sitting at the kitchen table snapping green beans while she bustled about making cornbread, because she knew it was his favorite. A wave of guilt rushed through his body.
“Mama, I’m sorry I rained this terrible trouble on you.”
“Nonsense, Malcolm. If you can’t run to your Ma, who can you run to for help?”
Mal laughed. “Won’t that be good for my reputation.”
“It’s God brought you here, son. Brought my grandbaby, my daughter-in-law, and this quirky little extended family you call a crew.”
She touched his cheek, leaving a handprint of flour on his face, and for a moment, he felt like a boy again. Mal shook his head, trying to focus on the woes of the present.
“We shouldn’t …” he began uncertainly, looking for the end of the statement. “We shouldn’t be distracted. We didn’t get too good a start on them. I suspect they’ll find us in less than a day.”
“What do you plan to do when they find you? Run again? Malcolm, if I have only a day to spend with you and your beautiful family, I’m not gonna waste it twiddling my thumbs and planting traps. I’m gonna celebrate and don’t you try to stop me.”
“I was just thinking to set up some defense—”
“Boy, who do you think you’re talking to?” she chastised. “I ain’t some starry-eyed sha gua. I’ve had this piece of land since before you were born. The Alliance killed it and I nursed it back. I know how to defend it.”
The bonfire lit the back yard as day turned to dusk and the celebration kicked into high gear. From the window of the second floor guest room, Kaylee could see Simon sitting aloof at the edge of light garnering suspicious glances from some of the ranchers as they walked by, but mostly ignoring people and being ignored. Zoë and Inara laughed, circling through the crowd with drinks in hand. Jackson and Emma danced gleefully, chasing fireflies and collecting them in a jar.
Pain seared through Kaylee’s leg and the joints in her arm ached. It wasn’t constant pain, nor a throbbing pain, just occasional stabs every now and then, like waves of memory from a bad dream. She just wanted the dream to end.
“Hey, sunshine!” Mama Reynolds greeted, coming into the room and offering Kaylee a glass of fresca.
“Hi, Mama Reynolds,” Kaylee said weakly, not wanting a conversation, but pulling out her best smile so as not to appear ungrateful.
“Malcolm says you didn’t wanna come downstairs.”
Kaylee shrugged, looking out the window again. “I’m just not feeling up to it.”
“Well, feel again, sunshine. This is a happy occasion and it ain’t complete without you.”
“Mama Reynolds,” Kaylee began, then stopped herself expecting to be cutoff. Why had she expected Mama Reynolds not to listen? Was it because Simon hadn’t? Kaylee had never really finished the thought in her head, because she wasn’t quite sure how, but when Mama Reynolds sat quickly at the foot of the bed, all ears, Kaylee felt safe to putter through the question a bit.
“Mama Reynolds, you ever remember something so … vague … you ain’t even sure it happened?”
“What are you remembering, sunshine?”
Kaylee sighed in frustration. Did she dare speak the dream into truth? “I’m not even sure. But not bein’ able to move like this. Like I’m sealed up in shrink wrap. I get so scared I forget where I am. I smacked Simon upside the head the other day.”
“Well, you and he weren’t getting along so well anyway.”
Kaylee shook her head. “No, I hit him because… for a minute… it’s like I didn’t know ‘em. Like he’s the one that did this to me.”
“You don’t know where this feelin’ is coming from, sunshine?”
“I know… I think… I remember wakin’ up,” Kaylee struggled, fighting the mists and haze of her own memory. “Most times I know it’s just a dream. But sometimes…”
Mama Reynolds scooted to the top of the bed and pulled Kaylee into a comforting hug. “Sure as it’s real enough to get you all worked up. And who doesn’t need a good excuse to smack their ex upside the head once in awhile?”
Kaylee laughed sadly, the memory subsiding. She suddenly felt foolish for bringing it up.
Mama Reynolds continued. “Sunshine, it is times like this that you need your family around you, keepin’ you safe, even if you forget who they are. You ain’t gonna feel safe up her by your lonesome. So do you want me to sit here with you, or will you come down stairs with me?”
Kaylee huffed in frustration, but couldn’t deny she felt safer and stronger already. With all her will, she hugged Mama Reynolds back, her left hand trembling with the effort. No way was she missing this party!
Go to Chapter 5
Thursday, April 5, 2007 8:17 AM
Thursday, April 5, 2007 8:28 AM
Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:05 AM
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