BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

DESERTGIRL

Underground - Chapter 3
Sunday, June 10, 2007

Our BDH’s discover there is more happening on Trythes than meets the eye.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1933    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Summary – Our BDH’s discover there is more happening on Trythes than meets the eye.

Disclaimer – They all belong to Joss, I just enjoy hanging out in their midst.

Pairings - all the traditional M/I; K/S; Z/W; Jayne/Anyone in a skirt; River’s in everyone’s minds and Book is trying to keep them all straight, plus throw in a few OC’s for good measure. In other words its all fairly cannon.

Setting – During the series, in between Trash and Heart of Gold

This story is a hundred times better because of all the wonderful betatype advice given to me by Mal4prez. I throw many thankyous in her direction.

My story line indicates nine segments: prologue, chapters 1-7 and an epilogue. I have included more about the storyline and my motivation for writing in my blog.

If you haven’t read the beginning, I’d suggest starting at the Prologue

Thanks so much to all of you who have taken the time to leave me such shiny comments. It just makes my heart go pitter pat when my email downloads notifications from FFN. I’m really glad you are all enjoying the ride. This chapter and the last are fairly benign but trust that the rollercoaster is coming soon.

*********

Chapter Three

“Kaylee, what in the tian xiaode do you think you’re doin’?” Mal had just stepped out of the air lock, coffee cup in hand, and was shocked at the sight of his starboard engine in a thousand pieces spread out on a tarp on the ground. A rope hung over the top of Serenity. It was anchored to a tree on the other side of the ship, but on Mal’s side the rope was keeping the compressor shaft from crashing ten feet to the ground and smashing his mechanic. Not that he could see his mechanic; Kaylee was inside the engine. Mal only knew she was there because her feet stuck out of the huge machine, and a pile of tools lay within reach.

“Well, hey Cap,” Kaylee said when she heard his voice. “Hand me that spud wrench, will ya? It’s the one with the red handle.” Mal looked around for a few minutes, not seeing anything resembling a red handle. Finally spying the missing tool under a black coil-like thing he handed it to her. For a few moments, the air was filled with the sounds of metal grinding on metal and more than a few grunts from his mechanic. At last, Kaylee slid out of the engine, holding a large rusty elliptical object.

“So, you want to tell me why my gorrum space ship is laying on the ground in a thousand pieces?”

“Well Cap, I’m pretty sure the exhaust pipe blew ‘cause of somethin’ in this engine. Truth to tell, I’ve been wanting to rebuild the starboard engine for ages. She’s a bit sluggish on the uptake. Wash says it causes her to shake a bit during landings. I fixed the exhaust but figured since we’re dirtside for a few; I’d go ahead and do the engine.”

“Kaylee, you do understand the meaning of shore leave, don’t ya?” Mal said emphasizing the word ‘leave.’ “Means time off. Not workin’. Relaxing, enjoying the mud and all. Cause next time I need you to be workin’ and I find you yackin' with Inara, you ain’t gunna tell me I never give you time off.”

“Sure Cap, but some people don’t think it appropriate to spend time recreating with others. Some people are too worried about what people might say to take a chance on havin’ a good time. Some people…”

Mal cut her off. “By some people you mean our good doctor.”

“Never presume. Hah! He can presume this.” She yanked on a bundle of wires, pulling them out of their casing.

Mal wondered what Simon had done this time to set her off, then decided that it was better he didn’t know. He waited several minutes for her to work out her frustration before he said, “Well, just don’t go forgetting where all these pieces go. I want to get off this rock at some point in the near future.”

“Don’t you fret, Captain. I’ll have her better than new before you can shake a stick. Though I think we should replace the diffusers, and that transfer manifold has seen better days.” She pointed to the rusted elliptical thing she had just pulled from the engine. “Anything wrong with draggin’ Wash to the city to buy parts?”

“Just remember the word is ‘leave.’ Meaning relaxation, not flying you around this moon in our only shuttle.”

“Thanks, Captain.” Kaylee gave Mal a huge grin and crawled back inside the engine.

Mal was about to head back inside when he heard the sounds of hooves approaching through the trees that surrounded Serenity. He reached for the gun at his side, then remembered it wasn’t there. He had just been coming outside to get a bit of fresh air, and greet the morning. He hadn’t expected to see anyone this early. When he was able to make out the rider through the trees he relaxed a bit. Auburn hair was creeping out of a brown leather hat, and a colt style pistol sat on slender hips. ‘Here we go,’ he thought, bracing himself for the stage show that this job required.

“Mornin’ Captain Reynolds,” Katra said reining in both her horse and the one she was leading at Serenity’s ramp. Dismounting, she tied the horses to the hydraulics, and looked around.

“Mighty fine ship you got here. She fly?” Katra eyed the tarp full of engine parts and the feet sticking out of the engine.

“Well, not today,” Mal said, as if there was nothing at all odd about this situation, then called out. “The best mechanic in the ‘verse here is doin’ a bit of maintenance. Kaylee, scoot yourself out and meet our client.”

“Client, Captain? What were you just sayin’ about this being leave, and recreatin’ and all?” Kalyee scooted herself out of the engine and wiped her hands free of engine grease before offering one of them to Katra.

“Yes, client,” Mal said definitively. “Her name’s Katra. And this is leave. As of last night we’re doin’ this job real quiet like, while were on leave.” He thought a moment, then added, “Oh and she and I are sweethearts.”

Kaylee almost dropped the wrench in her hand. “Sweethearts, but Inara…”

Mal glared at his mechanic “Inara has nothin’ to do with this. The plan is that the two of us are sweethearts until we fly off this rock.”

“Oh, right,” Kaylee replied slowly, comprehension slowly washing over her face. Looking Katra up and down as if sizing her up she said, “Well, don’t you go break his heart or nothin’. There’s others on this ship want that privilege.”

Turning towards Mal she asked “What’s the job?”

“We’re going to liberate some shiny yellow rocks, and cart her,” he gestured to Katra, “to someplace new.”

“Sounds like fun,” Kaylee said a little dubiously as she climbed back in the engine. “I’ll have the ship ready for you tomorrow night at the latest. Sooner if I can get Wash to take me to buy parts this morning. Nice to meet you Katra.” There was loud bang from inside the engine as Kaylee went back to her dismantling.

“I thought you might want to ride out to the mine and get the lay of the land?” Katra said to Mal after Kaylee had fully disappeared into the engine.

“Sure - and you probably want to spin through town to milk this sweetheart thing too, huh?”

“Yup. On the way, think of some gear you need. Scott Jamison at Dry Goods is the worst gossip in town. He sees somethin’ the whole town’ll know it ‘fore nightfall.”

**********

Dry Goods, a store named not very creatively for the merchandise it sold, was located across the street and half a block down from the Dancing Boar. The store was fairly large for a town this size. Mal suspected that like on Shadow, people from miles around made monthly trips to this town to purchase their supplies. From the outside it appeared they had a wide range of merchandise, from bulk food to engine parts. Mal made a mental note to wave Kaylee about this place; perhaps she wouldn’t need to fly to Tritan city after all.

As they dismounted Katra, grabbed his hand and pulled him close to her. She was certainly good at playin’ at being sweethearts. The part of his brain that held everyone should be kept at a safe distance didn’t appreciate the fact that other parts of him enjoyed the feel of her body against his. ‘Well,’ he thought ‘might as well go for full burn.’ Making sure that the horse he had been riding was not between themselves and the window; he spun her towards him and kissed her. He took his time, exploring her lips with his tongue. When he was done he straightened her hat and said “Now, let’s go meet Mr. Jamison.”

Katra’s knees were just a bit wobbly as she climbed the steps up to the shop. Mal wondered if she might be getting in over her head, forgetting this playacting wasn’t to be taken seriously. Before they were through the doorway, he heard the voice of the shop keeper. His kiss must have had had the effect it was supposed to.

“Katra Dupree, your mother would be ashamed of you! What on earth do you think you are doing disgracing yourself in public like that?”

Katra walked up to the counter still holding Mal’s hand. “Mr. Jamison this is Malcolm Reynolds. He’s captain of that ship parked over in Benton’s Wood.”

“Nice to meet you.” Mal stuck out his hand, but Jamison did not reciprocate. Mal dropped his hand and looked around the store. “I’ll just go find those riding gloves,” he said as he stepped away to search through the leather goods down a dusty isle containing random bits of ranch apparel. “Haven’t had much opportunity to ride since I started flying.”

“Katra, you know better than to get yourself tangled up with a spacer,” Jamison said, his voice lower intending only Katra to hear, but not low enough for Mal to miss what was said while digging through the gloves. “Your Ma was best friends with my Mary, and we promised her to keep an eye on ya. I know these last years have been hard, but don’t throw away your reputation on a flyboy. You’ll end up a doxie at the Dancin’ Boar.”

“I’m shippin’ out with Serenity at the end of the week. It’s a good job, Mr. Jamison, hired gun on a transport ship. This,” she gestured toward the back of the store where Mal was sifting through a barrel of gloves, “is just securing my spot until we hit the black. Even if I get off at the next port, I’ll be a damn sight safer than I am here.”

“`Tis true, still Zhu tamin ya min zhu yi. The black can be just as dangerous as mining towns. Space ships are small and there are bad sorts out there.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Jamison. I’ll stay in touch; send you all waves tellin’ of my exciting adventures.” She smiled at him. “And, now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to Susie’s and see about stealin’ some bread and jam. I’m takin’ Captain Reynolds to see the ranch.” She walked out the door hollering, “I’ll be back in just a minute,” over her shoulder in Mal’s general direction.

When she was gone, Mal lowered his head further into the glove barrel, not wanting the shop keeper to notice that he’d been eavesdropping. He didn’t see Scott Jamison reach under the counter to grab the rifle stored there; nor did her hear the shop keeper quietly step around the counter.

“You’ll be wanting to turn around slowly, with your hands in the air where I can see them, Captain Reynolds.” Mal heard the words after he felt the barrel of the gun on the back of his neck.

Slowly Mal raised his hands out of the glove barrel and turned to face the shop keeper. ‘Great, this is worse than a Pa,’ he thought. ‘A dead pa’s friend is definitely worse than a pa.’

“Nice gun, Mr. Reynolds. Why don’t you just set it on the shelf there and we’ll have ourselves a talk about Miss Dupree and her value to my family.”

Mal slowly removed the gun from his holster and carefully laid it on its side on the shelf. “I ain’t taken’ advantage, sir. She approached me last night, and truth is I’ve been lookin’ for an extra hand for a while now. From what she’s told me, she needs some time away from Trythes. It’d be good for her. On my honor, I’ve no harmful intentions toward her.”

“That’s not what it looked like to me. You need to know that the entire town knows your name and just what ship she’ll have shipped out on. If we get word that harm has come her way, we’ll see you get what’s do you.” He lowered the barrel of his gun, and reached forward and picked Mal’s revolver off the shelf and examined it. “Where’d you get this?”

“The war,” Mal replied. Jamison turned it over and examined the serial numbers etched into the underside of the handle.

“You fight for independence?”

“That was a long time ago.”

“I see.”

Jamison stood back and examined the captain. After a few moments of careful consideration, he spoke again. “Your pants, I s’pose they’re also independent army issue.”

Mal nodded, not sure where this was going. If this man turned out to be an alliance supporter, could he reach his gun in time?

“I thought that brown roll of leather tied to your horse looked familiar. I just couldn’t put my finger on it, not with it all rolled up. You know, you’re not the only former soldier who’s still wearing his old brown coat. Come on back here, I’ve got some things I think you might be interested in.” He handed Mal back his gun and walked through a door in the side of the shop.

“Stay there,” he said when Mal had taken three steps into the storage room the door opened into. Jamison moved a couple of boxes and lifted up the blue rug that covered the right corner of the room. It took him a bit of effort to lift up the trap door that was exposed, but even at sixty five years of age the man could accomplish the task. He gestured for Mal to follow him, then led the way through the trapdoor and down the stairs.

The cellar had been an arms depot during the war. Mal was sure of it. Independent labeled crates filled about half of the shelves that lined the walls. Some looked fairly empty but most were unopened. Mal walked over to a crate on the center of the left wall shelf and looked inside; there were four boxes of the kind of bullets that fit Zoë’s favorite carbine.

“So, I guess I know where Katra got her armor.”

“Her guns and ammunitions as well. I told you she is a value to my family.”

“Why you showin’ me this?”

“Because, for some reason, Katra trusts you. Says she’s leavin’ with you at the end of the week. But Katra and her daddy worked too hard on that mine for her to just up and leave it. I’ve known her since she was a babe and that’s just not her way. You and she, well probably Katra, have some sort of scheme worked out to help those people slaved in the mine, as well as give Mahogan and Howard exactly what is coming to them. I just wanted to let you see some of the resources you have at your disposal.” He paused for a moment sizing Mal up then added. “You should also know what kind of fireworks will go off on your ship if you hurt Katra.”

“I hear ya, Mr. Jamison. Truly there’s nothing more to this story than me hirin’ a pretty new gun hand. ” Looking around, Mal added, “I do believe, though, you have several items here that would be very useful. What do you say I come in tomorrow with a list, and we can work out how much it’ll cost me?”

“Very well, son, you don’t have to tell me. I’ll play along. Just keep her safe and don’t break her heart.” Jamison clapped Mal on the back and led him up the stairs.

Mal paid for his new riding gloves and retrieved his pistol before leaving the shop. He was adjusting the saddle on the horse Katra had brought for him when she showed up carrying a cloth bag. It took her just a moment to tie the bag to her saddle and mount her horse.

“Interesting friend you got there,” Mal said as they began riding through town, “Seems to think there’s more to this than me not using my head to do my hiring.”

Katra turned and looked at him, slightly worried. “What did you tell him?”

“I told him he was mistaken; though if he believed me I’m wearing purple. In the morning, I am going back to do some purchasing. He’s got quite the variety of resources in that basement of his.”

“That he does.” Katra smiled. “Maybe I underestimated him. He was a friend of my parents and Ma always said he was a smart one, but to me he has always seemed like a nosy busybody. I just hope he will still back me once the job is over and he finds out the whole truth.”

They rode in silence to the edge of town. Then Mal just had to ask, “So, what’s in the bag?”

“Lunch, but you’ve gotta catch me to get any.” She kicked her horse and took off down the road, leaving a cloud of dust in her wake.

Mal smiled and did the same. For just a moment he felt like a kid back on Shadow, racing down to the lake to do some fishing.

**********

Twenty minutes after she heard Mal and Katra leaving, Kaylee was stunned to hear the roar of an engine. The revs were coming in waves as if the person driving was taking corners at breakneck speed. Kaylee had just enough time to crawl out from beneath the compressor shaft before the craft came barreling down the forest path, straight at Serenity. Five feet from the ramp, the driver hit the breaks, causing the craft to spin to a stop directly atop Serenity’s ramp.

“Tian xiaode! Three more inches and you’d a’ been part of the airlock! What do you think you’re doing?” Kaylee demanded as she stepped toward the driver, waving a large blue handled wrench at her.

Kaylee’s agitation did not even phase the driver of the vehicle. The woman simply stood up and climbed down from the hover mule and extended her hand.

“Wow, that thing is great isn’t it? I’m Sorla Trine. Mama sent me to collect River and the Shepherd. She left early this morning, said if I waited till noon, I could drive the mule. Ain’t she a beaut?”

“Ya, she’s beautiful. Niao se dub doo gway she’s much too beautiful to be treated like a piece of goushi! Do you know how close you were to crashing?”

“Aw, the mule’ll be alright. Want to tell River and the Shepherd I’m here for them. Oh, and Mama said to tell ya’ll that yer welcome to join us. We can always use an extra hand at the ranch garden.”

“No need to fetch me, I’m here.” Both Kaylee and Sorla turned to see Shepherd Book walking up toward them. “I’m coming on one condition though - you let me drive.” It was apparent to Kaylee the Shepherd had witnessed Sorla’s arrival from inside the cargo bay.

It took Kaylee a minute to squeeze between the hover mule and Serenity’s airlock and gain access to the com, but she managed. “Simon, Sorla is here to collect River,” she said into the panel. Soon the siblings were walking down the stairs into the airlock, both agitated – the obvious aftermath of a lively argument.

“Doesn’t trust the cows. Says I need to stay. No fresh flowers, we’ll wither and die.” River said to Sorla as soon as they got close enough for conversation. River knew her fellow teenager would understand a loved one being overprotective. Sorla nodded to River, seeming to understand the sentiment.

“I said it was not safe for you to go gallivanting around some unknown moon, with only another teenager to look after you,” Simon corrected his sister.

“Well that’s easy enough to fix,” Kaylee said to Simon. “She won’t be alone. Shepherd is going with them. He’s even doing the driving. You could even go too. Sorla was just telling us that there is always work for another hand at this ranch.”

“Uhm, I don’t know, I should restock the infirmary and…”

“You should go, that would be the appropriate thing to do. The townsfolk would never disapprove of a man looking after his sister.” Kaylee pushed him onto the hover mule, before he had the chance to respond. Book climbed on after him, placing himself in the driver seat, just in case the girl thought he had been joking.

Sorla and River took seats in the back of the mule. “You can go ahead and drive Shepherd. It’ll be worth it to have extra hands to share in the work.” To River she whispered, “With them doing the chores, we can scoot out early and do some exploring, I know some great places. There’s this great tunnel, I’m not supposed to know about.”

*******

“So, welcome to The Lazy Moon,” Sorla said as Shepherd Book pulled up in front of the old white farmhouse. Simon saw that they had parked in front of a three story building. A swing hung from the porch that wrapped around the dwelling, and on either side of the steps red and blue flowers bloomed. Another swing hung from one of the two large cottonwood trees in the yard. The house looked as if it had recently been well kept to the point of opulence. It was also apparent that the home’s tender loving care had stopped in recent times. The windows were dusty and streaked. Leaves gathered in the corners of the porch waiting to be swept away. The roses filling the weedy flower beds in front of the house had not been trimmed.

It reminded Simon of the homes in Jestre Province on Osiris during the summer that the serving class tried to form a union and strike. But this house had obviously been neglected much longer than the three months it took Jestre to kick out the insolent workers and import new ones.

“I love it out here, it’s so quiet.” Sorla said, apparently not noticing the state of the house as she led everyone around it. “Come on, the garden is out back. I bet that’s where the rest of them are. This time of year we come out about once a week, mostly to work the garden. But sometimes Katra lets me help her sort through her stuff.”

Three quarters of the way around, River suddenly stopped short and said, in a strange low voice, “Tzaogao Datron, there is no way this is going to work. There is absolutely no way he is going to let us increase productivity that way. He’s going to go on and on about safety and working conditions until we fall asleep on his sofa.”

Simon looked at his sister, wondering briefly if she was acting out a scene from a long forgotten play. If so, he was sure it was one that he never attended a production of.

River’s voice changed slightly, but still contained a deep resonance. “Don’t you worry Vetch, we’ll get our extra man hours. I’ve got it all planned out.”

“What are you saying mei-mei?” Simon asked his sister. But she just looked up at him and smiled, the trance broken by his careless words.

“Images blend through time. Can see the poison in the yard, at night under the full moon.”

Simon just shook his head, confused at why sometimes she could be so coherent and at other times so perplexing. “River, it’s just past noon, and there is no poison anywhere. Come on; let’s go find the others in the garden.” As they walked, Simon whispered to Shepherd Book. “I’m glad I came. This sounds like the start of one of her bad days.”

They walked a few steps around the corner to the back of the house where they were warmly greeted by the two people working in a huge, extremely well-kept garden. Apparently, the people caring for this house put all their time and energy into growing food at the expense of the house and its surroundings. A middle aged woman who looked so much like the girl who came to fetch them that she could only be Sharla Trine was kneeling in the dirt, pulling weeds and thinning plants. Another Shepherd, probably the man Book called Wormfood, was in the corner turning a large compost pile.

“Thank you so much for inviting us, Mrs. Trine. I’m Simon, River is my sister,” Simon said as he walked over to the woman kneeling in the dirt.

“Oh, I’m glad you could make it. We can always use an extra hand out here at the ranch.” At her mother’s words, Sorla rolled her eyes and gave River a look that said, ‘See – what did I tell you?’

“You’ve arrived just in time. Shepherd and I were just talking about breaking and eating some lunch. Let’s go inside.” Sharla stood up and brushed off her dress, then gestured for them all to follow her onto the porch where a large basket sat covered on the table. Deftly, Sharla told everyone where to sit, and began passing around the food. Simon waited with anticipation as the slight breeze dancing across the table carried the scent of scrumptious treats to his nostrils. The basket Sharla opened was filled with fried chicken and three different salads, as well as some peanut noodles with sautéed vegetables. Secretly, Simon was really glad he had come, mostly for the food but also for the warm sun on his face, the comfortable chair and the sounds of birds chirping in the trees above.

It was a lively meal; the Shepherd regaled the group with stories from the Abbey, and Sharla felt the need to embarrass Sorla and her sisters with tales of their more humorous adventures. River didn’t say much, but smiled and laughed at all the right places. Simon hoped that her brief episode was going to be the only strange thing to happen this day. He was enjoying himself. Sharla and Wormfood were good people, and so was Sorla, if you forgave her driving.

After the meal, Wormfood offered to take them on a tour of the house. He showed them the kitchen first, explaining to Simon (who had not been at Sharla’s the night before) his belief that the kitchen is the most important room of the house.

“This is where a family’s warmth grows and can be shared,” he said. The group followed Wormfood up the backstairs onto the next floor, seeing four bedrooms. He told them that the third floor had once been a family room, though now it contained only boxes and old furniture.

“It’s good of Katra to let us grow the garden,” Wormfood said. “Good soil like this should never be let to go to waste, especially when there are so many that need fresh food. Katra’s been talking about leaving here, and giving the whole ranch to the church for a while now, although I doubt it’ll ever happen. She loves the land and its people too much to sell out to those scumbags.

“Sometimes, a whole mess of us come out to tend the vegetables. But Katra seldom helps us; she mostly spends her days sorting through stuff. Some she packs away and stores it up in the family room; but some of it she acts like she’s going to cart off somewhere. That she stacks in the dining room.”

“My goodness it’s been a while since I came up here,” Sharla said, looking around at the tattered curtains and dusty pieces of furniture in one of the bedrooms. “Shepherd, next week we need to bring a crew to do some cleaning. A house needs care just like a garden does.” Wormfood nodded in agreement as he noticed, seemingly for the first time, the state of the room.

The tour ended in the parlor, the room that Shepherd Wormfood clearly considered to be the most ridiculous, unneeded room in the house. Wormfood told them as much as he opened the two wooden sliders leading into the room, and they were greeted with the musty smell of old, stale air. Spider webs hung from the ceiling, confirming the long period of disuse this room had been subjected to. Pushed to the edge of the room was some once beautiful hand carved wooden furniture, but the now the cushions were faded and dusty. Scanning the room, Simon’s eyes stopped on a pale green armchair. He was certain that those rusty dots on the chairs left arm were blood, dried human blood from some violence long past.

The group had been in the room for just a few minutes when their ears were assaulted by a blood curdling scream from River. Wormfood and Sharla both stared at her, shocked and a touch frightened. Neither had ever seen someone who could be smiling one minute, humming the tune to “I’ll fly away,” then screaming hysterically the next. Simon reacted quickly, grabbing her and trying to calm and comfort her. He directed her over to the nearest chair, which happened to be the pail green armchair.

River reacted when she saw the tiny blood spatters. Wriggling away from her brother’s arms, she returned to the middle of the room, her body taking on the air of someone who had just witnessed something horrible.

“What did you do that for?” River’s voice took on the same low register that she had earlier when approaching the garden. “Do you want to be strung up? You can’t just shoot your business partner and hope to get away with it. `Sides, I told you it does us no good. That daughter’s a ‘good for the people’ person too. She’ll never let us work the crew on slaver’s hours, even the slaves.”

Book gathered their hosts and tried to push them back out of the room, saying, “Simon will get her under control, let’s give them a moment.” But it didn’t work; none of them would leave the room. Nor was Simon able to calm River. She eluded his grasp several times, and even though he knew River was his responsibility, he hoped the watchers standing transfixed at the scene being played out in front of them would come to his aid. But they never did.

Just as it had in the garden before lunch, River’s voice changed slightly when she spoke again. “Sit down and stop acting like a lily-white freak. Katra doesn’t have to agree to nothing. Two days and she’ll be my wife. Two months from now she’ll be dead at the bottom of Swazey’s Gorge. Isn’t it sad that she will have insisted on going riding on such a stormy day?”

A gasp emanated from Sharla. Her hands involuntarily covering her mouth in surprise, as she comprehended what River was saying. Wormfood placed his hands on her shoulders in equal disbelief and amazement. Book also was at a loss for words. He had seen his youngest shipmate say some uncanny things before, but never like this.

“Here, here in this room!” Sharla gasped. “I knew, of course, but I never really knew.” She turned and buried her head in the chest of Shepherd Wormfood, who wrapped his arms around her in comfort.

“It’s unsettling,” Wormfood said under his breath to his old friend. Book nodded in agreement, his eyes showing signs of concern. Simon grabbed his sister and shook her. Immediately, her voice silenced, and her eyes rolled around in her head before coming to rest on her brother. He stared right back at her, trying to decide if she was River again, and not some echo from the past. They stood facing each other for just a minute before she wriggled out of his grasp. She wandered aimlessly around the room for a few minutes before stopping in front of Shepherd Book and looking up into his face. “Spiders in the hole, herded toward the precipice. Soon’s too late for the spiders. Rescue before they’re lost in the darkness.” Everyone stood shocked and uncomprehending for a moment. From the looks on their faces, Simon could tell Sharla had no clue what spiders had to do with death threats to Katra. But the Shepherd clearly understood. They looked at each other as if they had better do something soon, or else lives would be lost. Simon had absolutely no idea what was she was saying either, but he understood his sister. He rose, put his arm around her, and directed her to walk back out onto the porch. Together, they sat on the porch swing and held each other silently. As they stared at the horizon, he began to see a dust cloud on the road. It was not very long before he could make out two figures approaching the house at a fairly fast clip. It appeared as if they were racing. “Hmm,” he thought to himself, “why is Mal coming to this particular ranch?”

Chapter 4

COMMENTS

Sunday, June 10, 2007 11:34 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh ho! And so the two plots begin their merging! Just hope River and Book can get Mal alone for a moment to explain what has been going on involving their end of the story...figure it will work out better if the BDHs help the townsfolk out by dealing with the two scuzzbag "partners" of Katra's dad:(

Still...great chapter here! Can't wait to see how things go in the next chapter:D

BEB

Sunday, June 10, 2007 1:02 PM

AMDOBELL


River really is enough to creep anyone out when she goes off like this. I'm just glad they didn't decide to tie her to a stake and burn her for a witch. I actually liked Jamieson, makes me wonder if he was an Independent his own self. Nice to know there is a whole pile of ordnance just waiting to be liberated if Mal and Katra need it. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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Mal and Inara discover a clue that could possibly clear Mal of the murder charges, but can they use it? Jayne races Adria to prove his pass and maybe get some... This is the eighth of eleven chapters. Find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 7
Mal and Jayne both ease their way through treacherous encounters with the Cottonwoods Ski Patrol. This is the seventh of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 6
Sometimes long lost family members spell trouble. Simon knows this but can he convince the crew? Can he even contact them? This is the sixth of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 5
Our BDH’s finally do some skiing, well at least most of them do. It’s the chapter that inspired the whole epic. The fifth of eleven chapters, which you can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 4
They can’t leave and they can’t stay. Fortunately for our BDH’s they have on board a criminal mastermind disguised as a doctor. This is the fourth of eleven chapters. Find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 3
Our hero’s deliver their cargo, only to run into some unexpected complications. This is the third of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 2
Mal discovers he does not have as much control over of his life as he thought and he learns just how people conduct legal type business deals near the Core. Chapter 2 of 11, find out all about it in my blog.