Unfinished Business -- Chapter Nineteen
Friday, June 8, 2007


Unfinished Business

Chapter Nineteen

“This is going to make winning the War look like a quick game of go,” the Brigadier said with a sigh. “If I had to apply to the High Command for permission and resources, like I did in the old days, I wouldn’t even try it. Luckily, as a bandit kingpin and underground cell leader, I’m a little less restricted in my operations.” He surveyed the lecture room where nearly a hundred volunteers associated with the rescue had been gathered. “As you may have heard, all of our preliminary operations were successful, to some degree or another. We have the tools now to plan the rescue in detail. We have as much intel as we’re going to get. I think we also have the manpower. So let’s start breaking this down.” The Brigadier crossed to tag the holographic schematic of the Suri Madron, and it floated in the air behind him with helpful bits of data displaying all around it in different colors. Then he promptly ignored it. “The existence of the Suri Madron has become an embarrassment to the current government, in the wake of the Miranda Affair. As I’m certain you have heard, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the Unity Party in the Alliance Parliament that runs from outraged editorials in the Central worlds to riots and near-insurrection on the Rim. The caretaker government is struggling to hold on to the reigns of power even as it tries to answer the outcry for accountability. The opposition is poised for a strong attack in the next election. The party stalwarts are regrouping and throwing the responsible parties to the wolves. Corporate shake-ups are happening daily. It’s a real gorram mess. “Which means that someone, eventually, is going to want to investigate the Pax. Where it came from, who was responsible, that sort of thing. Which will lead them to the Suri Madron. In fact, the Public Policy Oversight Committee has even authorized an inspection of the facility, though they cannot agree on who should do the inspection. There is another faction within the governmental bureaucracy that wants to see the ship just . . . go away. “And now we have our means of entry. Due to our interception of certain classified files – thanks, Beatrice – some direct from the Citadel, we now have a pretty good idea of the table of organization for the ship. We even know who authorized it, and what corporations had a hand in it. We know what kinds of questions the PPO Committee wants to ask, and we know they are sending an inspector. So we will use that to our advantage. We will send in our operative as the Alliance inspector. “We know an emergency request for parts was filed by the ship, and we have arranged to supply that part, allowing one of you folks to dock with the Suri Madron. When you do, you’ll place our operative under the guise of inspection, and you will extend your stay for twenty-four hours or so by faking a mechanical malfunction. I’ve seen your ships,” he added wryly. “I don’t think any of you will have a problem selling that story.” A chorus of nervous giggles broke the tense silence. “So, we can get one small ship in, and one man on board. Real ‘trojan horse’ stuff. That’s great, but on its own it won’t be enough. We can’t get three thousand people off that ship on a medium transport. We need to get more ships in for the off-loading. Of course, that presents a problem, as the gunship the purplebellies keep in the area has orders to destroy our objective if it is approached by an unauthorized ship.” “Can’t we just fake an authorization code?” someone in the back row asked. The blue-eyed brigadier shook his head. “No, the captain of the Suri Madron is the only one who can issue authorization. We considered tricking him into it, somehow, but even if we stuck a gun in his face there is too high a risk that he’d give a false code. So we decided to take their whole system apart.” He touched a control on the table, and the ship shrank to a quarter of its size. A smaller purple ship was shown patrolling around it. And a tiny green satellite appeared at thrice that distance. “The security system has two parts. The first is the gunship. It has a very specific firing protocol, which we have acquired. It receives an automated wave from Alliance Command every four hours, a kind of ‘all is well’ signal. If it fails to get that signal for any reason, it opens fire. Likewise, the second part of the system is an ‘all is well’ automated wave from the Suri Madron to Alliance command. If the Suri Madron doesn’t emit its signal, then Command doesn’t emit theirs, and ship goes boom. This is apparently a failsafe against a ship-board rebellion. Anyone see the weakness of the plan?” “The cortex relay,” Tinker Stiles said, instantly. “Both waves have got to go through the system.” “Exactly right,” McBane confirmed. “If the local cortex relay is compromised, then the system breaks down. An official malfunction activates a back-up protocol which throws the security system into a stall for eight hours, presumably while data traffic is re-routed. This has happened a number of times, and there are back-ups for communications-related contingencies. They’ve been triggered about twice a year – cortex is a little tenuous way out in the Black. So faking a malfunction would buy us eight hours. “Unfortunately, our best estimates, if everything goes perfectly, require twelve hours minimum for a complete evacuation. So comm trouble alone won’t do it. That’s where Monty’s op comes in. Tell us what you stole, Randal,” he said, nodding towards the Greek captain. “We stole the hell out of a Dawncom cortex relay in for repairs on Aurora,” he said, smugly. “Right,” agreed McBane. “And we chose that one because it’s the same model, more or less, as the relay closest to the Suri Madron. Only our techs are going to re-work it to do our bidding. We will intercept the codes, ingoing and outgoing, and ensure that both Alliance Command and the gunship have nothing to worry about. As long as possible. That will also keep them from hollering for help at an inopportune moment.” “Won’t they just switch to the Alliance military frequencies if the cortex is down?” someone asked. “They won’t know the cortex is down,” McBane said with a wolfish grin. “We’ll have suckered the relay into sending any such communications to a look-alike Alliance Command center, where it will be taken into consideration by a very authentic-looking Alliance admiral. We’ll keep up that charade as long as possible. But,” he continued, “I’m still not happy with that. So we’re going to give that gunship something to do to keep it distracted while we evacuate the ship. Captain Stiles, I believe you have long and distinguished history as a pain in the Alliance’s ass. Care to play tag with the gunship for a few hours? Just harassment – keep it busy, keep it looking anywhere but the Suri Madron.” “I live to be a pain in the ass,” the popular captain agreed. “Just ask my sister. But why not just kill the cho ji bai?” “Because we need their ‘all is well’ code,” supplied one of the Brigadier’s aids, Mr. Lockley. “For as long as possible. If they don’t get it out, well, that whole area will be crawling with Feds before we can make our getaway.” “So that’s our data interdiction strategy,” McBane continued. “That part of the operation is the simple part. The interior operation, that’s going to be much harder. We start with the first ‘supply’ ship carrying the Inspector. We don’t want to alarm anyone, and we think they’ll be somewhat off-guard because of the presence of the Inspector, so we should be able to smuggle a few clandestine operatives on board. “Those operatives will work to disable some of the ship’s inherent defenses, namely freeing up the airlock codes for emergency docking. But that’s not going to be enough. It is highly unlikely that the guards will just look the other way while we off-load three thousand prisoners. So we’re going to have to intercede, forcefully, and that means bringing in assault parties. Enough to contain the guards, secure vital areas of the ship, and control the situation if a firefight breaks out. The larger ships will bring those in, once the signal is given from our operatives on-board.” “Sounds like a pretty tall order,” Captain Reynolds said, doubtfully. “If you wanted easy, you should have said so. We get a few important systems disabled on the inside, we all come swarming in from all over, docking at several different points on the ship. The marines go in, take control. The people come out – mostly to a big freighter we’ve lined up, but to any ship available, in a pinch. We’re largely ignorant of the situation in the field so I expect that there will be a fair amount of improvising on the ground.” There were uneasy murmurs about that, but it couldn’t be helped. Such was the nature of military operations. “Now, we’ve got detailed assignments for everyone. We’ve got about a thousand men, mostly Browncoats from here in the Gopher Hole, but also some freelancers from your crews. I’ve got a hundred and fifty Radical Green Militia who want to get their people back to Muir, I’ve got a hundred Royalist faction infantry, and I’ve got a few former Imperial faction marines who have nothin’ better to do. So we have manpower. We have guns. All we need is one key position filled, and we can proceed: the Inspector. “We’ve been over this plan a hundred times, and all of it comes down to providing a convincing Parliamentary Inspector. Someone scientifically knowledgeable, someone who can fake the arrogant attitude, someone from the Core who can play the role without arousing suspicion. “I thought I’d have to have one of my people do it – we’ve pulled stuff like this before – but honestly, I don’t think I have anyone who could do it convincingly for as long as we need them to. This is a top-secret Alliance research facility, don’t forget, and it takes a certain amount of skill, luck, and raw cunning to waltz in there, ask a bunch of nosy questions, and not get shot. I’m not sure the best of my people can accomplish this. However,” he said, walking back over to the table, “Within the data that Beatrice so kindly brought back from the Citadel, we have discovered one among us who can. Indeed, he has once before.” McBane touched another control, and the orbiting space scene was replaced by a full-sized holo of a very familiar looking man in a formal Alliance Inspector General attaché’s uniform, one step away from the hated purple of the military troops. A golden eagle baton, symbol of Parliamentary authority, was cradled in one arm. A cocky, arrogant smirk was plastered across his face under perfectly-coiffed hair. He looked every inch the officious bureaucrat. “Oh, bloody rutting HELL!” came a loud, plaintive wail from the back row. “Dr. Tam, would you kindly come forth and explain to the group how, exactly, you broke your sister out of HER top-secret Alliance research facility?” the blue-eyed Brigadier asked.



* The utilitarian office that had become McBane’s operations center felt cramped with six people in it. McBane was behind his desk, with Mr. Lockley and Rachel flanking him. Mal and Zoe were on the other side of the desk, a very upset-looking Simon between them. It was a testament to just how upset he was that his nostrils flared with startling intensity. The smoldering look of anger and panic in his eyes certainly helped the effect. “You,” he declared, with pristine annunciation and thoughtful deliberation, “can not draft me.” “Doctor, doctor, please calm down,” soothed McBane, leaning back in the chair with a casual grace that was designed to put people at ease. “What we’re asking you to do here –” “Is likely to get me, and a whole lot of other people, killed,” he finished. “Weren’t you planning on coming along for the mission, anyway?” Rachel pointed out. “As a ship’s medic,” Simon corrected. “Not as a bad actor.” “You are far from a bad actor,” McBane dissented. “You managed to conceal your identity through . . . nine security checkpoints,” he said, consulting a flexi, “and convince the head of security, the principal investigator, and the head of the project that you were, indeed, a Parliamentary-appointed inspector.” “I had forged documents,” Simon said, sullenly. “And a team to back me up.” “Doc, you went unannounced into a top-secret, eyes-only research facility – classed an eight on a security scale of one to ten, by the way – and bluffed your way past everyone in your path. You improvised twice when awkward questions were asked, and turned the situation around so expertly that there was literally no suspicion of your true identity until the moment you set off the bomb.” “Bomb?” Mal asked, surprised. “Then you released your sister, changed your appearance, and made an escape with her intact, even though there were nine tactical security teams chasing you through the facility.” “Like I said, we had help,” he said, unconvincingly. “Once River was free, she . . . well, she helped out.” “I’ve seen the video,” McBane said, holding Simon’s gaze. “I’ve also read her file. Difficult to do, too, as the records for the entire facility were wiped by a real Parliamentary operative just a few months ago. Luckily, our contact had made copies from the central files in the Citadel beforehand. So I know all about your escape. And about your sister’s . . . special abilities.” “Look,” Simon said, angrily, “I did that because she’s my sister. And I’ve done nothing but run since that day. I’ve had to endure . . . great hardship, the loss of my professional reputation, the loss of the ability to even wave my parents, Jayne Cobb, and Reavers. I did it all at the risk of my own life. That was for my sister, who I love. You, I’m not even sure I like.” “Point taken,” chuckled McBane. “But my point was that you have demonstrated that you are a competent operative. Better than many of my own people – and that’s saying a lot. Plus you have the medical background necessary to stand up to casual scrutiny. In fact, you are just the sort of inspector the Alliance would send.” “If only I had considered a career in public service,” Simon said, sarcastically. “Actually, my father always wanted me to pursue law or government. But what you’re asking me to do—” “ ‘Asking’ might be too kind a word for it,” McBane said, softly. “Hold up, gorram it,” Mal said. “This man is a member of my crew. He either volunteers, or he don’t do it. And neither do we. He didn’t enlist, and he never swore to the Black Star. He ain’t a soldier. He’s my medic. You want him to pull a slug out of your ass, fine. But I won’t see him coerced into doing something he ain’t agreed to.” “This could put the whole operation in jeopardy,” warned Lockley. “A lot is riding on this part,” agreed McBane. “Then cut a deal with him, then,” Mal insisted. “Pay him. Bribe him. Make it worth his while. But he didn’t put on a uniform, and I don’t recall the Independents making a ready habit of conscription.” “Perhaps we should have,” McBane said, darkly. “Very well, Doctor, what do you want?” Simon was taken aback by the question. “What? What do I want? I want my gorram medical license back. I want to spend Christmas with my parents. I want a job where I don’t have to worry about my imminent demise on a daily basis. I want to be able to urinate in a public place without worrying about Feds crawling out of the gorram woodwork. I want a future that doesn’t involve the prospect of a jail cell, torture, and an unmarked grave! I want a sister who isn’t clinically brain damaged, who can go to a real gorram school and make something out of herself! I want a real gorram life, Brigadier! Can you give me that? Because that’s what I want most in the ‘verse, right now. And I really don’t see how my participation in this suicidal charade is going to make any of that happen.” “So that’s what you want,” McBane said, thoughtfully. He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Ai ya, I was brought up Osiris, for Buddha’s sake! You people were the enemy when I was a kid! Scary browncoats skulking about the rim and threatening everything the Alliance stood for. Now I’m in a secret cave full of the most radical Independents in the ‘verse.” “You’ve been associating with browncoats a while, now, Doctor,” reminded Rachel. “Former browncoats,” emphasized Simon, heatedly. “You lot are still deluded enough to think that you can overthrow the Alliance! By comparison, you make Captain Reynolds seem sane! No offense,” he offered Mal, out of the side of his mouth. “None taken,” Mal said, after a moment’s consideration. “This has nothing to do with our greater objectives, doctor,” McBane insisted. “It has everything to do with an illegal and immoral experiment on unwilling human participants. But I find it hard to believe that you still cling to loyalty to the Alliance when they’ve spent most of the last year hunting you, when you’ve been to Miranda and seen their murderous folly yourself, when you know, for a certain fact, that they perpetrated this crime for the express purpose of enslaving and pacifying the entirety of the human population.” “Yes, I’m morally outraged,” agreed Simon. “Horrified, even. But that horror pales in comparison to the fear for my life I feel daily. I was never political, even back home. I’m a doctor. A surgeon. I sew people up and put them back together. You might think that I subscribe to some lofty ideals about life and morality and ethics, but those are luxuries I had to leave behind.” “You realize that the same people who are responsible for the Suri Madron are also responsible for your sister’s internment?” McBane asked. “It wouldn’t be a hard leap to make, no,” admitted Simon. “Government conspiracy circles are probably pretty small. Keeps the Christmas parties manageable.” “This would be an opportunity to strike back against them,” Rachel pointed out. “I have no need for vengeance,” Simon declared. “That’s your people’s motivation. Sorry, try again.” “What if . . . what if I could promise you some new identicards,” offered McBane, slowly. “I mean, if it makes you feel any better, your file – and your sister’s – was taken off active status shortly after the Miranda Affair. It’s unlikely to be recalled to active again, once it’s been made a black file. While there might be a few stray wanted posters floating around, you are no longer being actively pursued by Interpol. Now, our sources have indicated that there are corporate elements that still want you bound – can’t much help that, I’m afraid – but a new set of indenticards, with supporting credentials and a faux cortex history, could keep them off your trail for quite a while.” “Can you give me a medical license?” Simon asked, considering the prospect. “You name the school – Rimward, please. We don’t have much pull in the Core.” “I’m not saying I’ll do it,” Simon warned. “Yes you are,” McBane countered. “We’re just haggling, now. As a matter of fact . . . would everyone excuse us? I’d like to talk to the good doctor alone for a moment.” Mal looked uneasy. “I’m not real comfortable with one of my people—” “We’re just haggling, Reynolds,” McBane said, firmly. “That’s all. You can wait just outside if you fear for his virtue. Lockley, Rachel, you, too.” No one was happy with the order, but they did comply. Simon took the opportunity to pull up a chair and face McBane at his level. “This had better be good,” Simon said, darkly. “Oh, it is,” agreed McBane, easily. “I can give you a new identity, proper paperwork, both you and your sister. Stuff that could stand up to an Interpol investigation, even. You can be Dr. Simon McTam of Boros, for example, with a degree from the Medacademy there. Board certifications, too – all of it will stand up. That I can promise you.” “But there’s something else. Or you wouldn’t have cleared the room.” “Several things, actually,” admitted McBane. “Do you want to start with the carrot or the stick?” “Let’s go with the carrot,” Simon replied, warily. “You might not like what I’d do with a stick, right now.” “Fair enough. The identicards are easy. This remnant was designed as an Intelligence base, and that sort of thing is first-year spy stuff. Money, likewise, is easy – within reason. And while I’m sure your nascent career as a criminal has been very rewarding, I can put a pile of platinum in front of you right now. Enough for you to take your sister and find some out-of-the-way moon to settle down on, if that’s your wish. But that’s not really what you want to do, is it, Doctor?” “I told you what I want,” Simon said. “Rather adamantly, too.” “And what you want will never come to pass. Under the present Alliance government. Even with the fake IDs, if you tried to go back to Osiris, you’d find yourself in some secret corporate jail awaiting torture. You see, there were several corps involved in that project, and one in particular wants your sister very badly. Governments can be influenced, or even replaced. But corporations are a different kind of animal. They have an institutional memory and virtually no accountability under our present system.” McBane sighed and stared at the wall. “Worst thing about this place is that there aren’t any windows to stare out. Look, Doctor, you have to face the reality of the situation. You can’t go back home. The home you want to go back to, it isn’t there any more. You are what you are: a fugitive from civilization. You’ve actually done pretty well, considering. Mal Reynolds has what passes for a sterling reputation in the demimonde, and he won’t betray you. That makes you about as safe as you can be and still remain at large. “But you can’t go back, and you need to stop thinking that you can. It will just make you frustrated and bitter. More frustrated and bitter,” he corrected. “Care for some advice from a man who’s spent the last six, seven years on the run and afraid for his life?” “Why not?” Simon said with a sigh of frustration. “Get over it. It might surprise you to know that before the War, I was an engineering student. Wanted to build spaceships or buildings or some go se like that. Wanted to have a family. Grow old and rich and fat. Well, fate intervened, and cast me in this totally novel direction. Now I’m running a clandestine insurgency that wants to overthrow the most powerful institution in human history. And I’m running a number of criminal enterprises as both cover and as a funding mechanism. Go figure. But I have my daughter, and I have this cause, and that’s interesting enough to keep me from regretting things too often. You, Doctor, might as well get used to the idea that your life of quiet stability is behind you, and embrace the adventure at hand.” “That’s not who I am,” Simon said, shaking his head. “That’s not who you were,” emphasized the Brigadier. “I watched the whole video of your escape, from when you first walked into the doors to your exciting exit up the airshaft. Brilliant work. Not something they teach in even the most elite Medacads. You were once a trauma surgeon, Tam. But that’s not all you are, now. You’ve got a new life, and possibly a good life. Damn sure is an exciting life. And you have a choice: you can embrace it, and make it your own, or you can carry it around on your back for the rest of your days and fantasize about golf every Wednesday, dinner at the club every Friday, and what you would have worn to the Spring Ball while you cower in fear. I hear you have a girlfriend on Serenity – love her. Today. You might not get a tomorrow. If I hadn’t heeded that advice, my daughter wouldn’t be here, now. You only get one life, Doc. Live it. Live it like you own it, because you do whether you act like it or not.” “That’s about the most depressing thing anyone has ever told me,” Simon said. “I’m sure it’s right up there with ‘You’re being hunted by a large, faceless, omnipresent multi-planetary corporation’,” McBane said with a snort. “So which one wants her so badly?” Simon asked, softly. “Okay, I’ll give you that one, because it won’t help you much,” McBane admitted after some hesitation. “Blue Sun.” Simon’s eyebrows rose, and his brow furrowed in confusion. “The . . . food company?” “They’re a trans-planetary corporation, son. Their food division is their best known, but they have a finger in plenty of other pies. Including contracting out government research. And they have a fully-developed corporate security force as professional and deadly as the Alliance, itself. They have a standing order for you and your sibling. But don’t expect your local Blue Sun wholesale distributor to be in on it – this is a top-level directive.” “Blue Sun,” Simon said, swallowing. “Good to know.” “So the only way you are going to ever be secure is to deal with that corporation. And I can’t help you there. Sorry. But I can do other things. I can stuff your infirmary with drugs and supplies and equipment, for example. Or I can even offer you a job here at our base infirmary – as safe as anyplace in the ‘verse. Refuge, under the Black Star. We could always use an experienced trauma surgeon. I’m sure I could give your brilliant sister a job, too.” “She’s got a . . . shaky work history,” Simon said, tactfully. “I know. I also know the exact nature of her . . . modifications, and the full extent of her abilities, as recorded by the Alliance researchers. She’s a real telepath. That makes her dangerous, not just on her own, but to the existence of this base and the Cause, itself. By all rights I should stuff her out an airlock as a critical security threat. But I like pretty young girls, and it does seem awfully unfair. On the other hand, she’s probably soaked up plenty of valuable intel as she read the minds of the Alliance officials around her. I could easily have her interned, and get my best people to squeeze her like a grape until the good stuff leaked out.” “Torture, then,” Simon said, nostrils flaring again. “Not by choice. I’m just letting you know what is possible. I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t at least consider the matter, wouldn’t I? If your sister ever fell into Alliance hands . . .” “The same could be said for any one of us,” Simon pointed out. “Some more than others, but your point is taken.” “Then take this one, too: you do anything I even remotely consider harmful to my sister, then you won’t have my cooperation under any circumstances,” Simon warned. “I figured as much,” agreed McBane. “I won’t say it’s off the table, but I will tell you that it’s not my inclination to take that kind of extreme action. It does explain how Reynolds was able to get so much data from Persephone without torture. She’d make an incredible intelligence asset—” “My sister isn’t a spy,” insisted Simon, “despite her early vocational training. I was hoping she’d become a physicist, or a dancer, even, but it seems that she’s taken a liking to piloting the trash heap my girlfriend lovingly calls a ship. I’d like to say it was just some residual brain damage responsible for it, but it does fit her perverse sense of humor. So throw in complete piloting credentials for her in any deal we set. Providing, of course, we can set a deal.” “No problem there,” agreed McBane. “But don’t talk about her like she’s an asset. I didn’t betray my own government, break her out of prison and condemn myself to exile just to see some other heartless agency use her for their own purposes. She’s a free human being, gorram it, and I’ll do everything in my power to ensure she stays that way. And while I can’t imagine any other topic where it might happen, I daresay Captain Reynolds will agree with me on this.” “Well, let me hand you the last few big carrots then.” “I’m listening.” “I can arrange – one time only – an untraceable wave to your parents. No more than a few minutes – longer than that and we risk discovery. But I have an alternate cortex relay in place that allows me to establish a real-time ansible connection to Osiris. More sneaky spy stuff. You’d be able to see them, they could see you, and everyone in your family would sleep a little better, I think.” “That’s . . . an interesting proposal,” admitted Simon, guiltily. “They haven’t heard from either of us since I left.” “Family is important, son, and don’t let anyone tell you different. But that’s not even my biggest carrot. Do you know who is in charge of the project on the Suri Madron? Of course not,” he said, answering himself. “I have the only copy of their TO. But maybe you recognize the name at the top of the research division: a Doctor Romano?” “Doctor . . . Marcus Romano?” Simon asked, in disbelief. “He’s famous for his work in—” “Yeah, yeah, wrote the book on the central nervous system. Never heard of the man until yesterday. But he’s the lead researcher and Administrator of the project. And I’ve seen summaries of his personal research project. I think you might find it a more fascinating read than I did,” McBane said, sourly. “Well . . . the chance to see a physician of such stature is appealing, certainly, but—” “Here’s the deal, the last haggle and the only one on the table. You do this job for us, Tam, and cooperate fully. In exchange I’ll either give you a job afterwards, or fill your ship full of medicine, supplies and cash and well-forged documents and send you on your way. And you get to see Dr. Romano and check over his work.” “While I admit there is a certain intellectual appeal to that—” “I don’t think you really understand, Doctor. Read the summary. See where his research is going?” Simon stopped to read the flexi. He stopped a few times to consider each passage. And as he got to the end of the document his eyes widened precipitously. “That’s right, Doctor,” McBane said, evenly. “If there is one man in the whole rutting ‘verse that could fix your sister’s busted head and re-grow her amygdala, it’s Marcus Romano.” Simon was silent for a long while, then sighed and pushed the flexi back across the table. “Fine. I’ll do it. But there’s one other thing that I want . . .”


Friday, June 8, 2007 7:02 AM


Oh, hell, why not post another chapter? It's Friday, after all . . .

Anyone want to hazard a guess what the "one other thing" Simon wants might be?


Friday, June 8, 2007 8:55 AM


Loved the haggling, it was very well written and sharp.

Friday, June 8, 2007 9:16 AM


While this was very well written I really *really* don't like the Brigadier. That threat was chilling in particular as he is supposed to be one of the good guys, that alone would make me ten times more wary of trusting him as far as I could throw him. And another worry, with Serenity and her crew inside the Gopher Hole I'm guessing not a one of them could get out if they decided NOT to go alone with what the Brigadier and his mob want. I particularly loved Simon's dialogue though I can't see him using 'gorram' all the time. Am curious what the one other thing is that Simon wants. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, June 8, 2007 9:35 AM


What can I say? Simon's been hanging out with a bad element. It's affecting his language.


Friday, June 8, 2007 9:45 AM


Ohh, a whole chapter on Simon. I love it! Well done. I like his sarcasm and his demands. I really hope the last thing he wants has something to do with Kaylee as he didn't seem to think anything about her until he got to mentioning the 'junk heap of a ship' he lives on.

Friday, June 8, 2007 9:58 AM


Wow, I gotta say I am really uncomfortable with the new browncoats.

Gotta worry about the safety of River. Who says they will not try to take her *AFTER* Simon has done his job for them?

It would be good for them (and only them) to have a reader on board.

Friday, June 8, 2007 10:18 AM


This rocks, as always. Wow--2 chapters in a week! What'd we do to deserve this?!

Friday, June 8, 2007 11:10 AM


Oh, man...well done. I was hoping our BDHs would get a more direct role in the operation, and how it came about was hilarious- I can really envision Simon cussing up a storm from the back row.

Hmm. What would Simon want, other than to borrow one of the Angel fighters for the brother-sister aerial sensation known only as the Flying Tams?

...You've really stumped me on this one!


Friday, June 8, 2007 2:52 PM


Could be a number of things, my first thought was a real wedding for him and Kaylee, but sure we will find out soon enough.

Friday, June 8, 2007 3:12 PM


Uh...just as a point of order, I'm a history student, not an engineering one;)

And AMDOBELL...I seriously hope you're referring to McBane rather than me. I know we might not see eye-to-eye all the time, but...


Utterly fabulous work here, Screw! Between the newest chapters of "Unfinished Business" and reading one of my local library's copy of "Sparticus" are just entertaining me out the yinyang this past week;D

And I too really wanna know what the hell Simon asked for from McBane. I seriously hope it's a free upgrade to Serenity on Kaylee's behalf or a lifetime's supply of parts for a Firefly-class transport vessel. Though I imagine you will hold off on revealing THAT tidbit until the very end of this epic:D


Friday, June 8, 2007 4:06 PM


This is the best, the absolute best chapter yet with that lovely mix of humour and terror that you've given it.

*“Oh, bloody rutting HELL!” came a loud, plaintive wail from the back row.*

I fell off my chair laughing reading this, and whatever you're feeding that portion of your brain that is coming up with the Simon snark, feed it more!

I like that you kept Stooge Simon, but introduced these nuances of Competent Simon. He seems to have the same kind of snarky wit that River has, and this is very nice.

The bargaining he does with McBane is chilling as well as funny, and I have to wonder what would happen if McBane attempted to execute any of his threats.

And Mal going 'Bomb?', oh that was classic. Love the man for defending Simon and his choice to not participate.

Friday, June 8, 2007 5:21 PM


Brilliant piece of writing as always - and so happy to see so much so soon. Very interesting direction you're going down - looking forward to more soon. Your Jayne sense of comedic timing is the best.

Saturday, June 9, 2007 1:22 AM


I'm glad to see Simon getting a chance to recover his medical career and possibly secure a cure for River, but where does that leave the rest of the crew?

In saving River, Mal lost his job contacts, Zoe lost a husband and Inara her vocation, plus a lot of people, like DIED...hopefully Simon remembers their sacrafices, when asking for things.

And since they all know the existence and location of this underground haven, how will they be allowed to leave?

You've sucked us all in Screw, please post ASAP!

Saturday, June 9, 2007 11:33 AM



Sunday, June 10, 2007 9:38 PM


Fabulous chapter, loved it, really loved it.


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Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty-One
The battle begins, Rachel changes plans, and River meets the politest baboon she's ever met.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty
The Uprising Begins

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Nine
A whole lotta folks get ready to do a whole lotta stuff.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Eight
The Confession of Dr. Rendell.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Seven
River remembers her birthday and meets a monkey . . . sort of.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Six
Inara Serra's Temptaion: The Lady, or the Tiger?

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Five
Inspector Simon and Dr. Romano have a little chat, and Fate gives him a gift

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Four
The excitement of piracy, the agony of waiting, and the anticipation of a completely stupid stunt!

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Three
Serenity arrives on the Suri Madron.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Two
Simon gets tested, Zoe gets quizzed, and Kaylee gets . . . satisfied. For the moment.