BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GIRLFAN

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Fifty
Saturday, April 14, 2007

The BIG DAMN Rescue. Some revenge, some poetic justice. Very narrator pov, but I like it. Hey, it worked for Dickens. NC17 to be on the safe side, but mostly implied. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1940    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Chapter Fifty: Virtute et armis (By courage and by arms) Part III

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapters 31-35, Chapters 36-40, Chapters 41-45, Chapter 46, Chapter 47, Chapter 48, Chapter 49 *** *** ***

With an almost gentle brush, Jayne cut the comm. He knew that he should feel happy, but all he felt was overwhelmed. Inara had stepped off the bridge, and no-one else even knew that he’d received a wave. He wasn’t a subtle man, but he was private. Still, his choices were pretty simple. He could keep it private – tempting in its own right, and because the timing gave him an instinctive uncomfortableness, or he could do something about it. Like he wanted to. Like his sisters wanted him to. Like his mother wanted him to. It really was an either/or.

Inara stood quietly outside the bridge, paying no attention to the words that she could almost hear on the other side of the door. If it hadn’t been Jayne, and hadn’t been so mysterious, Inara probably wouldn’t have been curious at all. But Jayne and a wave from home? That was indeed a curiosity. And the girl – well, she’d been taken aback to have her wave answered by a Companion, Inara could tell, but she’d recovered quickly, and broke into a big grin nearly identical to Jayne’s, before she announced herself as Katie Cobb, and could she please speak to Jayne?

But if the news was happy, why then had the bridge fallen so silent? The soft rumble of Jayne’s voice had given way to nothingness. Inara waited a few more seconds and gently knocked on the door before letting herself back onto the bridge. Jayne stiffened, but didn’t look around.

“Is everything alright, Jayne?” Inara asked tentatively.

“’is fine. Thanks ‘Nara,” he added as an afterthought. “I’m awake now, could take the watch for a bit,” he offered.

Inara nearly refused, out of hand more than anything else, but caught herself in time. “Are you,” she began more gingerly than gently, to be truthful, “waiting for another wave?”

Jayne looked up at that. The expression he wore was more than mildly confused. “Huh? No. Just awake is all. Ain’t no need for both a us to be, ‘specially with Kaylee like she is.”

Inara wondered then if maybe Jayne didn’t have anywhere better to be. No place on the ship was better to be than the bridge for quiet and speculation. “No, I’m rested Jayne. You head back to bed.”

“Alright.” But Jayne didn’t move from the co-pilot’s chair.

***

Her brother really was a criminal mastermind. River lay on her bed, shifting through the images she’d seen. He had such a precision to his thoughts that amazed her. Like she instinctively knew when to move, where to do it – kinetic intelligence taken to an unprecedented level, Simon’s spatial awareness was extraordinary. She wondered how she’d never seen it before. His ability to break in, and then back out, of the Academy; the exact planning of the Ariel heist – he had an uncanny knack for moving objects through time and space unhindered. And now, mind opened to others’ minds, Simon could map an entire facility without stepping outside of his cell. And he had. And the good big brother that he was, he had made planning his rescue simple for her.

When he’d presented his plan to her, it had merely needed her approval. She was surprised at the totality of the plan – but perhaps she shouldn’t have been. She was a trained assassin, but her brother was a surgeon – the precise application of violence was as much his art as hers.

She curled on her side and began to quickly sketch the plans for the facility. She would need them to explain the plan to the others.

***

When Mal got to the galley, River was already at the table, ready with cups of coffee and an eerily focused expression. She gestured to a chair, and Mal sat. While he reached for his cup, River laid out some sketches. It took Mal one sip of the hot coffee and a slow blink, and then it hit him, what he was seeing. He stole one glance at her calm features before he began to study the sketches and scan the accompanying notes. That girl was at her creepiest when she was at her most efficient.

“So, we got alla this from Ceres?” Mal asked eventually.

River shook her head. “No. Simon put it all together. We just have to follow his plan. Like Ariel.”

Mal nodded, still focusing most his attention on the plans in front of him. “It’s a solid plan. When’d you find him?”

River’s voice was soft. “He found me.”

Mal’s head snapped up to focus on River’s face. A long moment passed. “As in, boy’s a reader, too?”

“He had Ceres’ help,” River said, but her voice was more evasive than defensive.

Mal had no trouble noticing, that, either. “Ain’t an answer to my question, Albatross.”

River hedged, “Simon’s always been very intuitive.”

“How?” Mal asked evenly.

“It’s been a long time coming, I think.” River’s soft voice was honest. “Really, it started when we found him on the Pandora. Being voiceless, trying to touch my mind… I think he’s finally figured it out. Dead nine minutes precisely. Important number.”

“Any Blue Sun tinkering with his brainpan?”

“Not yet. Soon, though Simon thinks. They don’t know yet, but they believe that they can teach Simon. Make him like Ceres. Can four people keep a secret?”

“When three of them are readers?”

***

Mal broached the plan with the crew once they’d all assembled in the galley. “Jayne, I’m gonna need you in the engine room. Take Kaylee with you, she can rest in her hammock. Keep the door locked tight. Zoë, you’re to take the bridge, and seal yourself in. Only gonna have Inara and River with me, so we’re gonna hafta wait til those hundans have got Ceres out of her cell – then we can go in, but we’ll have to go fast. Inara, River tells me that there’s a third prisoner, should be either in the cell with Simon or, likely, in another room with Ceres when we get there. This is surgical strike stuff, everything’s gotta go smooth, or we’re likely not coming home with what we went to get,” Mal was too tired to soften the blow.

“Soon as we get the signal from Ceres, we pop the lock, and River and Ceres will start taking out enemies. Simon will barricade himself, and the other prisoner if he’s there, in the cell until one of us gets there. Inara and I will be right behind River, until we reach this point,” Mal pointed carefully to the sketches and continued, “and then we’ll branch off toward Simon’s cell. River and Ceres will continue to move toward each other, flanking any Blue Sun personnel in between them. That’s the plan, at least. Once we have Simon, we will have to likely have to double back to here,” Mal gestured again, “where Ceres will have stashed the prisoner if he’s with her.”

Mal looked around the table at his crew. “Everyone clear?”

All the faces at the table were drawn tight, but everyone nodded their agreement.

Zoë spoke up. “We’ll need the infirmary, Sir.”

“I’ll prep the cryo box,” River’s voice was low.

Jayne stood up from the table. “Well, I best go bring Kaylee some food, iffin we’s done.” Mal nodded and Jayne manhandled some of the porridge into a bowl, and stalked out. Zoë and Mal exchanged a puzzled look, missing the subtle, knowing, one that passed between River and Inara.

***

Jayne carried Kaylee’s unconscious form to her engine room, and tucked her into her hammock gently. He sealed the door behind him, and couldn’t help but stare at it. He knew that he should be on the other side; he was a merc, not an engineer, and if there was going to be a fight, he belonged in it. For himself, for Kaylee – and River – and to avenge Aren. Weren’t right, what happened to her. All cold and shoved tight into a box barely big enough for a fetal River.

Zoë sat in what she still thought of as her husband’s chair, and rubbed her belly. It wasn’t a prayer, not in Zoë’s mind – just a quiet word with her husband, asking him to keep an eye on the all, ‘cause they needed it. Leave no man behind.

River’s fingers hovered on the comm. button, ready to give Zoë the go signal when it came in. Inara and Mal stood by in tense silence. Another man down since the last time they’d done this. Wouldn’t even be a chance if River hadn’t held it together, if Inara hadn’t doggedly run those searches until she’d found something. They’d come so close to losing it all this time, and they still could, Mal knew.

As they dragged Sam and Ceres from their cell, Simon and Ceres each sent a signal to River, who promptly sent it to Zoë. By the time Serenity had reached the facility, Agent Cooper had thrown Sam to the floor and begun cutting away his clothes, as Ceres struggled to break free of her chains. It’s just bone. You can do this. You’ve done it before, she reminded herself as Sam's terror mixed with hers to the point where she could no longer separate them. Not taking her eyes off of her cousin for a second, Ceres pushed her left arm up as far as she could through the cuff, before bringing it back down against the metal at speed. The bones in her wrist shattered, and her hand slipped free, as Serenity breeched the Pandora’s airlock. The force of the bump wasn’t much to either vessel, but it jostled the unprepared organics on board around nonetheless. Ceres wasn’t unprepared; she’d taken careful hold of the chains binding her before the breech. Simon had laid down on the floor, and Sam was there already.

Ceres pulled herself up using the chains and wrapped her legs around her guard’s neck, snapping it, and Sam used Agent Cooper’s surprise and disorientation to roll away from him quickly. He did as he’d been instructed. Don’t think. If you have a chance to, take someone out. Otherwise, stay down, Sam. He pulled his damaged body up off of the floor as Agent Cooper went for him, and the spook lost his footing with his momentum and hit the floor. Sam grabbed the knife as it slid across the floor toward him, and stuck it through the other man’s throat. He recognised the feeling; he’d had it a lot lately, and this was the first time that fight had been an option. Adrenaline, God bless its little cotton socks. Sam lifted the keys off of his kill and unchained his cousin. Ceres was grateful – that would speed things up nicely.

While River moved through the ship with her dangerous, deadly interpretive-dance-of-death, Ceres tucked her cousin into the spot Simon had found for him before moving toward her lover. Simon sat pushed tight up against the door, barricading more with his body than their pathetic collection of furniture, constantly scanning to transmit tiny adjustments to his plan to his sister and her lover. Mal and Inara just followed River’s lead.

They weren’t Reavers. Killing them had been an act of mercy almost as much as it had been an act of survival. No, they were something worse than Reavers – minds that would create something like Reavers, without compunction. Something that would create something like her. It wasn’t the game it had been when she’d saved Kaylee’s life; she knew the lives she was taking. It didn’t trouble her.

When Inara lobbed the grenade down the corridor, Mal thought that he would have a seizure, it was so unexpected. He turned to Inara, to hiss, “Where?” but there wasn’t time. She seemed to understand and, in the next lull in the battle, whispered to Mal, “From Jayne.” Her voice was so low that Mal almost didn’t catch the last part, and in the end, he still wasn’t certain he’d heard right. “And for Jayne.” Jayne couldn’t be that put out of being left out of a battle that he’d ask Inara to launch a grenade for him, could he? And Inara would never have agreed, would she? Mal decided that he’d heard wrong, that’s all it could be. He and Inara branched off to find Simon, and then pick up Sam on their way out.

River and Ceres continued to move toward one another, assassin and spy, two projects gone as out of control of their creators as ever the Reavers were, and the irony was not lost on them.

***

When it was over – and battles never last as long as the adrenaline makes it seem they do – River waited until Simon and Inara had cannibalised everything they wanted and then she set the explosives she’d made. This time the box would remain closed.

*** *** *** Chapter 51 *** *** ***

COMMENTS

Saturday, April 14, 2007 2:01 PM

GIRLFAN


Ok, so it's up a little early - I hope that doesn't confuse/annoy anyone.

In my defense, it is Sunday afternoon in New Zealand, which is /almost/ Sunday evening, right?

There is a chance that chapter 51 will go up this week before next Sunday (if so, chapter 52 will go up on Sunday). It's writing itself, which is always good, but I do have to complete a draft of my MA thesis by Wednesday afternoon Zulu Time, so we'll see.

Thank you to everyone who's stuck with this story, especially for the support and encouragement I've gotten.

Next chapter:
How far did Green and Banks get? What did Katie want? Kaylee has some moments of reflection, and Mal avoids thinking about his fiancee lobbing grenades.

Sunday, April 15, 2007 12:11 AM

BORNTOFLY


Hot damn girlfan!

That was a freakin' awesome chapter!

As for the postage timing-you can post early all you feel like, and you'll hear no complaints from me.


This whole thing concerning Jayne's wave has me intruiged in a mighty big way. It's not often we get a glimpse into Jayne's private life, and even rarer that we see his family life exposed in any real fashion. I surely hope more light gets shed on this.

The whole rescue....just exceptional. Inara lobbing grenades, and the whole thing between Mal and Inara there was genuinely great.
Gotta love the conniving of Simon and Ceres right under the snivelling, black hearted noses (yes, I realise noses do not have hearts) of Banks and Green.

Speaking of Banks and Green...did they scuttle away before the trouble started? Or did I miss something?
And indeed, how far *did* they get?

I think Jayne looking after Kaylee is pretty much spot on. We've always known the big merc is at least not immune to the sensitivities of life.

The crew dynamic seems to have shifted much in Simon's absence, and it's refreshing to see.

Ceres breaking free from her binds made me grimace, it was a realistic and brutal touch (that is to say, it fit perfectly), and the proceeding paragraph with little Sam taking the *fight* to Cooper was just so well done.
River's thoughts on those she was killing was creepy in the right way, and the deal of her and Ceres fighting and killing their way towards each other was excptionally well done.

Here I am gushing about the amazingness (yes, that's a word...now) of your work, so I'll stop.

>This time the box would remain closed<

Incredible.

Sunday, April 15, 2007 4:42 AM

CHAZZER


This whole thng was awesome. And the 'Adrenaline, god bless its little cotton socks' line was brilliant. Cos thats just such an awesome saying lol.

Sunday, April 15, 2007 6:24 AM

TKID


I hope Kaylee does some thinking - like how Jayne puts her first and foremost and Simon puts the bigger picture first. She has to decide if she wants to be part of the bigger & dangerous picture, or to be the only consideration in someone's safe life.

My guess on it all, Jayne has to go home and he may take Kaylee with him? But I don't see a romance happening between the two. Kaylee might fall for Jayne and all the concern he's shown her, but like I don't see her as an equal for Simon I don't see her as an equal for Jayne either.

Sam getting some of his own back was fabulous!

Loved the plan and the execution of the plan. I can't wait to find out what Green and Banks got up to, and what Kaylee does!

Monday, April 16, 2007 6:27 AM

MANICGIRAFFE


Inara lobbing a grenade on Jayne's behalf is priceless...although I don't know why Mal's so surprised. Aside from Jayne and Zoe, she easily did the most damage during the stand off on Mr. U's moon (and is also the only one that came out without some type of major injury). I'm sure he's heard the stories of that crossbow by now.

I'm not sure what Kaylee's going to do. She and Simon had trouble relating on most days - mainly because they never communicate what they're thinking (or in Simon's case at times, communicationg without thinking). Now he can see everything in her head, even when she's trying to be evasive. I don't think she has the level of trust needed to deal with that - especially since trust was the big issue that literally started it all way back when.

On the other hand, I don't see Jayne stepping in to fill the role. He's been excellent support, but he also seems to be keeping a "brotherly" distance on purpose. Lord knows he could probably have made a move when she was really pissed at Simon (yes, that would be quite uncool of him, but that's Jayne for ya).

I predict a lot of soul searching for her. Hopfully she puts on the big girl pants and acts as a partner for the men (and women) in her family.

The rescue was awesome, and I think more because it was so understated...very much "the readers have made a plan. Everyone please get out of the way while we kick ass."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 7:55 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Holy shit was this awesome! Definitely worth some serious pointage in my books:D

I was really impressed by the whole scenario, but River's evasive conversation with Mal about Simon's new abilities and the rescue itself were just golden.

Gotta say though....not really seeing where all this "could Kaylee hook up with Jayne" talk is coming from. Now, maybe I am blind, but I get an "older brother" vibe off of Jayne during the engine room scene and Jayne was needed to protect both Kaylee and Serenity's powerplant from any possible retaliation. Even if Simon and Kaylee can't manage to find the trust they need, especially in light of Simon's new skills, I don't automatically assume it's gonna be Jayne she turns to. Part of what stops me from whole-heartedly supporting the concept of Jaylee is that Jayne's perspective on violence - especially the fatal kind - is anateham to Kaylee's probably naive view of the world. They could change...but would they still be anything close to who they are now?

Oh, and concerning Mal's discomfort about Inara hurling grenades? I would just like to point out that I doubt Companions get trained in how to handle explosives. Close-quarters combat and weapons like pistols and bows? Yeah...for self-defence and hobby. But explosives? Sorry....but I too would be "Uh...wtf?!" if I saw someone not properly trained to use grenades handling one. And that's not even getting into Mal's issues with Inara being a front-line figure when violence needs doing;)

BEB

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 7:56 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Holy shit was this awesome! Definitely worth some serious pointage in my books:D

I was really impressed by the whole scenario, but River's evasive conversation with Mal about Simon's new abilities and the rescue itself were just golden.

Gotta say though....not really seeing where all this "could Kaylee hook up with Jayne" talk is coming from. Now, maybe I am blind, but I get an "older brother" vibe off of Jayne during the engine room scene and Jayne was needed to protect both Kaylee and Serenity's powerplant from any possible retaliation. Even if Simon and Kaylee can't manage to find the trust they need, especially in light of Simon's new skills, I don't automatically assume it's gonna be Jayne she turns to. Part of what stops me from whole-heartedly supporting the concept of Jaylee is that Jayne's perspective on violence - especially the fatal kind - is anathema to Kaylee's probably naive view of the world. They could change...but would they still be anything close to who they are now?

Oh, and concerning Mal's discomfort about Inara hurling grenades? I would just like to point out that I doubt Companions get trained in how to handle explosives. Close-quarters combat and weapons like pistols and bows? Yeah...for self-defence and hobby. But explosives? Sorry....but I too would be "Uh...wtf?!" if I saw someone not properly trained to use grenades handling one. And that's not even getting into Mal's issues with Inara being a front-line figure when violence needs doing;)

BEB

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 7:57 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Ugh...really wish there was an edit function for feedback, so I don't have to double-post to fix mistakes:(

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:47 AM

GIRLFAN


>Ugh...really wish there was an edit function for feedback, so I don't have to double-post to fix mistakes:(

Me too.


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