BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Firstborn - Part One
Monday, November 12, 2007

Monty and Mal’s crews plan a heist on Boros. 14th fanfic featuring post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Grateful thanks to BlueEyedBrigadier for the beta. Having feedback is like charging my battery, please comment. Part 1 of 2.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1222    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Zoe had discovered the one thing she hated about being pregnant – the waddle. No matter how she tried to disguise it, she waddled. All her life she had the manner and reflexes of a cat; a panther, someone had called her once. Only thing panther-like about her now was her nails, nothing else for her to do but waddle and grow her rutting nails. And eat. She had been eating for a whole gorram brigade. Bane was the only one who had caught her midnight binges, being an insomniac, but had kindly said nothing – even cooked for her sometimes, which is what she was doing tonight. “There,” said Bane, placing the dish in front of her. Zoe inhaled it deeply and practically purred; fried dried beef, plum sauce and strawberry jelly. She took the spoon and just mixed it all together. Bane grimaced, but wiped the look off her face as soon as Zoe looked up as she could be awful tetchy these days. It would not be long now, the woman could barely reach the table. Bane did not care what Simon said about Christmas, the baby was going to come sooner than that. At least she had fitted the baby alert last month when they had a false alarm. When Zoe pressed it would sound in Simon and Kaylee’s quarters, and everyone else, but she had not told Zoe that. It had taken some doing to wire it through the comm. system of the entire ship, but she had managed it. “You won’t tell Kaylee about the strawberry jelly?” Zoe asked with her mouth full of the stuff. “Take it to the grave,” confirmed Bane, nodding seriously. During their midnight feasts, Zoe had talked to Bane more than any other woman in her life. They had both been born in space, so she understood more than the others what it was like to experience the floating freedom. Mal also knew what it was like, but he had not been born to it. Since the time she had discovered she was pregnant, Serenity was the only place she would consider having her child. Bane had also been teaching her some German, ready for the time when she would have to tell the Deutschlander Browncoat, Hans Kifelder, that he was a father. Zoe swallowed the latest mouthful, and Bane could not believe how she was vacuuming the food from the plate. “Thought you finished Monty’s order yesterday?” she asked and Bane chuckled. “Reckon’d I’d stay up anyway. I enjoy these little trysts of ours – nice to have some company for a change.” Zoe snorted, already on the next mouthful. Bane’s insomnia was always more prevalent when she was mixing up a batch of munitions. She did not know how the woman kept going sometimes. “Don’t Karl mind?” It was Bane’s turn to snort. “If sleeping were a sport, the man would be a champion.” “That all he a champion at?” Zoe asked. It was uncharacteristic for her to be so nosey, but then she had done a pile of uncharacteristic things in the last nine months, including getting pregnant in the first place. Bane smirked. “Oh he’s good at the other stuff. Reckon he knows it as well, real smug he is about it too.” Zoe laughed. “That smug-lover thing kind of runs in the family,” stated Zoe. Bane raised her eyebrows. “Wash was like that?” she asked and Zoe nodded. “Medal winner at it. Cheesed me off sometimes as well.” Zoe pushed her plate away, scraped clean, and burped. She patted her belly. “Little monster says thank you too.” Bane got up and washed the plate, as well as all the other evidence of their illicit meal. “You be alright on your own tomorrow?” Zoe looked at Bane, giving her own grimace. “On my own, is it? I ain’t been on my own while there’s been a drop for two months. Soon as you folks leave Kaylee becomes my own personal bodyguard.” “This ain’t exactly a drop, it’s a heist.” “Still don’t stop Kaylee gluing herself to me an’ spoutin’ nonsense.” Bane looked at Zoe sympathetically. “Thought you loved Kaylee?” “I do, but that was when I could run away.” * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * “No, no, that way’s no good,” stressed Bane, leaning on the map. “It’ll be alarmed to the eyeballs.” “Okay, jus’ stop leanin’ on the map so we can all take a look,” placated Mal. “So, genius,” said Monty amiably, “What would be the best way to get in?” Bane sat back. She wished they were on Serenity where the light was better. “This is a standard Fed holding facility. They’ll have all the vents and waste chutes covered and alarmed.” She rubbed an eye and stifled a yawn. “Best way in would be the staff entrance. Put a couple of people in as staff, and take the goods out the front door. But to do that we’d need to do our research, scope out the place.” Bane looked across at the two men to gauge their response; Mal seemed up for it, but Monty was not sure. “That could take a whole lotta time.” “No one knows we’re doing this, we got all the time in the world,” she explained. Mal stuck up for his crew member. “You needed someone on this who knew their onions, Monty, and Bane’s it. She’s done this kind of work before.” “Only with less people,” she added looking around the table. She was not sure it was a good thing having this many people in on the job. Monty took his comments onboard and nodded for her to continue. Bane leaned over the table again. “Your contact says that the guns are here,” she pointed. Monty nodded and Bane frowned. “It doesn’t make sense.” She pointed to another place on the plan. “This room would more likely hold the guns,” she tapped her finger at the other place, “Here is where the good stuff would be, not guns.” Monty smirked and looked at Mal. “See, this is why I keep trying to pinch her from you,” he chuckled. Mal laughed and took the compliment for what it was. “What’s in the room, Monty?” reminded Bane. The old reprobate glanced at his crew before coming back to Mal. “Seekers, Grizwalds and magnetic depth charges.” “And?” asked Bane and Mal, unintentionally in unison. Monty scratched his beard in contemplation, looking at them both carefully. “Flash rods,” he replied quietly. Bane sat back. “Da-bian-hua! Mal,” she explained to her Captain, “Those things are hotter than the Seventh Hell. They’re banned in EVERY world.” Mal knew that already and gave Monty an annoyed look. “Not doin’ it, Monty. Shoulda told us at the first. We get caught with that stuff, we’re all going away ‘til we have to suck food through a straw.” Jayne was entirely comfortable with that notion and got up, so did Karl. “Can I still have Bane?” suggested Monty. “No! Come on, Bane. We’re leaving.” Bane had been looking back at the plans. “This is do-able, Captain,” she said. “Nope. Come on.” “Mal,” she insisted evenly, “I’m telling you it’s gonna be okay. Takoma okay.” Mal could hear the excitement in her voice. “What’s that mean?” asked Rocky, and Jayne filled him in. “She’s thinks we’ll get in and out of there without a trace. Jus’ like the Takoma job on Persephone coupla years ago.” Mal paused. “What’s it worth to us?” he asked Monty. “No, Mal,” argued Jayne. “I plan to spend my Christmas with Esper, not locked away in a Fed prison for the rest of my life.” “Monty?” Mal asked again. Monty leaned back in his chair. “Think about the biggest job you pulled and then triple it.” The biggest job they had pulled was the Lassiter laser pistol. Netted more than three thousand when they had finally got rid of it. He said as much to his cousin. “My mistake – times it by four,” Monty added quietly. Twelve thousand. “An’ that’s just our share?” asked Karl eagerly, and Monty nodded. Jayne looked at all of them, never thinking he would be the one passing up a share of twelve thousand, specially when he had a reason to want to get as much as possible. “It’s funeral money, Mal. Walk away. If Zoe were here, she’d say the same,” he said. Mal blinked at Jayne in surprise and Bane could see his indecision. She looked over at Monty and with annoyed realisation, she saw he had as good as expected every bit of the conversation so far. She came to a decision and put it to Mal. “Before we decide anything, let me scope out the place – that way, if you think it’s still too hot, Monty can take it from there. At least we can get consultation fees,” she added firmly, looking at Mal’s cousin. Mal considered, If Zoe were here, what would she do, he thought? “What do you need?” Mal asked her. ~ * ~ Bane adjusted her sunglasses, stirring the frying meat and adding a bit of sauce, giving off a mouth-watering smell that would hopefully attract more than a few Feds coming off duty. Finding a food cart had been no problem, persuading Zoe not to come along had been impossible. She supposed it gave them the air of authenticity, although there was not much she could do wedged into a straining deck chair. Zoe did not care what Bane or anyone else thought. She wanted fresh air and time away from Kaylee’s eternal chirpiness, though Boros had more than a little industrial pollution. Even the gorram sack she was wearing, which was all she could fit into, did not dampen the moment. “We all right here?” asked Mal. Bane looked up from her cooking and he stepped back a pace. “Ye soo, Bane you look like you ain’t a day over ninety.” Bane spooned some meat into a bun with a shaky hand and tossed in a few other things. She handed it over to him. “That’ll be four bits, mister,” she said in a strained elderly voice. Mal could not close his mouth and he looked across at Zoe who shrugged. Bane pressed her lips together and used her normal voice. “You ain’t helpin’, Captain. Shift’s about the change an’ you standin’ there all brown-coated an’ belligerent –“ “Belligerent!” he retorted, offended. Bane gave him half a smile. “Today I like Feds – they’re my favourite kind of law enforcement officer. My daughter here has serviced quite a few of them in fact,” she pointed to Zoe with a smirk. “Hence why she’s in the family way.” Zoe’s eyes took on a dangerous glitter. “Were I not unable to get out of this chair without assistance, you would be kissin’ that fryin’ pan right now.” Bane shrugged. “You wanted along, you’ll be whoever I want you to,” explained Bane without remorse. Mal thought it was better he left them to it. He took his, well whatever she had given him to eat, and walked away towards where Monty and Rocky were. Since he was not inclined to eat it, Monty snatched it out of his hands at first bidding. It was no act she was putting on, the sandwich tasted real good. Their eatings cart was placed near, but not adjacent to, a few others that lined the street, and nearest the building’s staff door. Although Monty had baulked at some of the things Bane had said she needed, he could see now that it had been worth it. Grey wig and padding over the shoulders and back, gave her an elderly hunched looked. “It’s scary how different she looks,” muttered Rocky quietly. Monty nodded in agreement, mouth full and meat sauce dripping down his beard. Mal chuckled, glancing at Rocky behind him. “Should have seen her as Delilah, the pole-dancin’ space harpy. Scarier, but much easier on the eye.” Monty swallowed his mouthful. “Least she don’t stink. I tell you, Mal, when I picked her up on Deadwood back in August she could have melted plastic.” Mal laughed. “Come on, I’ll stand you a couple over there,” he nodded towards a bar that was just opening.

“What are you looking for exactly?” said Zoe quietly. Bane carried on cooking, but replied. “Everything really. We need to get in there, so I need to know shift numbers, types of people, I.D.s, uniforms. What direction they scatter in. The incoming shift. Latecomers. Gossip. Everything,” she repeated. Zoe looked at Bane carefully. “You’re enjoying this ain’t you?” Bane allowed her a glance and grin – she had even browned her teeth, Zoe noticed. “Bin a while since I’ve done it. It was usually my mother who dressed as the old crone though. I was supposed to be the sidekick who was a little easier on the eye.” “And the one to be sleeping with them?” asked Zoe. Bane’s expression darkened. “I won’t be doing that this time. That was usually for high security stuff anyway,” she stated evenly, “’Sides if it ain’t do-able, I’ll know after a few shift changes.” Zoe looked at the complex – it certainly looked very secure, she thought, but it was probably nothing compared to the big Alliance facilities on the core planets that Bane had dealt with during the War. They were both quiet as the staff doors opened and the Feds started to trickle out. After their first customer they had a constant stream and Bane did not stop talking, or watching. Spinning yarns, was the only way Zoe could describe it. Just like back on that Takoma job when she had first met her; she was able to illicit crucial information, while giving back the most mundane information about herself. They lapped it up when Bane told them that her long dead husband was responsible for Zoe’s good looks, but that all Zoe had inherited from her was her eyes. As a result, Zoe was getting a number of interested looks from Feds, as Bane explained to them how she would be back in circulation as soon as the baby was born. Unable to do little else but force a very thin smile, she thought of different ways for them to die and got real inventive at it too. Some hours later Bane rolled the cart back to storage with Zoe walking alongside, before making the long walk back to Koz’s shipyard. When she said nothing for almost all the time it took to get back to the shipyard, Zoe spoke up. “Anything wrong?” Bane shook her head. “Mustn’t talk – have to write it all down when I get back.” She a million facts zooming through her head at full burn. Zoe yawned; she was exhausted, her back ached, and she was real keen to go to sleep as soon as they returned. After arriving back at Koz’s shipyard they split up in Serenity’s cargo bay. Bane sat on a crate and fished out her journal from under her coat and started writing furiously. She paused, rubbing one of her eyes absently, as she recalled more details and started writing again, nose virtually touching the paper. “Can I help you, Granma?” asked Karl coming down the stairs. Bane smirked and rolled her eyes, but did not look up. She had been hearing people call her that all day, especially Mal and Monty, and it was getting real tiring. Karl hopped off the last step and sauntered over, having no idea why there was a strange little old woman sitting in the middle of their cargo bay. “Are you looking for Captain Reynolds?” he said loudly, figuring she was a little deaf. “Give it a rest, Karl, I’m tryin’ to concentrate.” She looked up and saw his shock. “Shun-sheng duh gao-wahn! Bane?!” Bane grinned, showing unattractively browned teeth. “Don’t tell me you didn’t know it was me?” “Pah…” Karl was speechless and horrified. Bane pulled the wig and scarf off her head and itched her scalp. She stood up and walked over to him, putting her arms around his waist. “Give us a kiss,” she puckered, tilting her face upwards. Karl put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her gently away. “Er, m-maybe later,” he stuttered and Bane laughed. Then Karl saw the expression on her face turn to terror. She let him go abruptly and walked away. “What’s wrong?” he asked. Bane stumbled back in the direction of the crate. She almost fell when she touched the edge of it with her hand and righted herself. “Nothing,” she attempted to say normally. She sat down on the crate and fumbled for her journal. “I don’t believe you,” Karl said, walking forward. “You’ve been mighty distant for a while now, an’ I wanna know what’s going on.” Bane took a deep breath without trying to make it seem like she was doing so. As the light returned to her vision, she realised she was not looking right at Karl and corrected herself. “I think I’ve just been over doing it.” “That excuse is gettin’ real old, Bane. You always overdo it – it’s in your nature.” Bane stood up, she had full sight again and could now make her escape. Karl could tell she was ready to bolt and he stepped in her path. “Is it me?” he added quietly. Bane swallowed her fear, realising how it must seem to him. She could not say anything, this job was too important for them all. With her share of the credit from this job, it would be enough to survive on for a while once her sight went completely. She relaxed her shoulders and gave him a genuinely warm inviting smile. “Like I said, it’s been a long day. How about I take off these Granny duds, have a shower and we spend the evening locked in my bunk?” Karl could almost believe her, if he had not seen that look of terror in her eyes moments ago. But he decided to play along, as it had been a long while since she had promised to spend any quality time alone with him, other than just sleeping in the same bunk together of a night. ~ * ~ Karl leaned on his elbow and looked down at Bane sleeping – a rare occurrence for her to be asleep and him awake. He still could not get that look of terror he had seen out of his head. She looked different now in the lamp light, still ready to jump up and dash away, but different. Karl recalled that she always insisted sleeping with the lamp on now. He did not mind, specially when she said it was so she could see what she was doing to him better. One time he had switched the lamp off, when they had been in his bunk and she had woken up in a panic. He had asked her if she was afraid of the dark and she had said it was just a nightmare, turned off the lamp and done things to him that he would not forget in a hurry – or tell Jayne about. When he had woken up later, the lamp had been on again. It was all a diversion, just like everything she had been doing lately – just like tonight. Tonight she had sexed him to the point that he had forgotten everything, or she tried to make him think he had. Normally he would have done as well. He sighed and looked at her face, it was not as serene and calm as normal, she was troubled and there was a small frown between her eyebrows. He stroked her cheek as lightly as possible and watched it disappear. What was bothering her? Karl turned over to lie on his back and looked up at the ceiling, scratching his belly. He spotted her journal protruding from the shelf above the bed and reached for it smiling. All the weird strokes and circles made no sense to him, only the occasional diagram gave any indication of what she was writing about. Karl pursed his lips, puzzled, and turned over a few pages and then turned them back again. “Xin gan, duibuqi,” he whispered sorrowfully to her sleeping form. The most recent pages of Bane’s journal were still filled with her code, but the characters were written much bigger. He turned back the pages until he saw the script was normal. He had no way of telling how long ago it was, as he could not understand anything, but Bane’s sight was clearly deteriorating. He flipped the pages back to where he had seen her writing today. The script was twice the size of her old style of writing. He closed it and put it back on the shelf, rolling over to look at her again. The frown had re-appeared. Of all the things that could happen to Bane – had happened to Bane, he corrected – this was something that she could not escape from. She could not run away from blindness; that was the terror he had seen in her eyes. “Tian shi, duibuqi” he whispered, stroking her cheek and watching the frown disappear again. He kissed the same spot, his moustache tickling, causing her to fumble with her fingers, itching around the area. She remained asleep, at peace for now, but for how long? ~ * ~ Zoe was not as adamant the next day to tag along, she was still resting in her bunk, insisting that Kaylee leave her alone. Fortunately, Kaylee was not offended, as she had a whole shipyard of toys to play with while Serenity was docked there, as well as other mechanics with which to socialise. Bane, having got a good night’s sleep, took River along to help her on the second day of scoping. River had never really cooked outdoors like this, but it was like having a barbeque, except she was not allowed to eat the delicious food they were serving. She was glad to be doing something again, as she realised that she had been thinking non-stop about Stan and their time together on Newhall. It had been nothing like her intellectual mind had imagined, and nothing like those dime store romance novels that Kaylee read either. River had honestly thought she knew it all, but Stan had proved her entirely wrong. Bane had been right – it was a whole lot different than the textbooks said. She smiled and looked across at Granny Bane, opening her mind. River flinched and then steadied herself, narrowly avoiding burning her hand. “Why are you blocking me?” she asked. Bane frowned and looked across at her. “I’m not,” she replied, bending down to rummage for the rolls under the counter. “Yes, you are,” River persisted. She could feel Bane’s mind flooded with tasks and information – and fear. It was the fear she was blocking with furious activity and River could not get past it. She did not have a chance to pursue the matter because they had customers. Something was wrong, Bane never hid things – ever since she had known her, Bane’s mind had been an open book. A big encyclopaedia that she got lost in sometimes, and there were some dark corridors that River did not want to venture down, but it was still there for her to read. River wondered if she was having problems with Karl, but no, she could feel the passion glowing inside of her. When she realised Bane was fighting that too, River got really worried and upset. She might have known sooner if her mind had not been focussing on Stan. She put him to one side and helped Bane chat up the Feds coming in and out of the complex. While Bane got them to talk about their life stories, River was able to confirm that the access codes they used to get in the doors were all the same. She could not, however, work out why Bane was so afraid. That evening, Bane roped in some of Monty’s crew as well as Serenity’s to help with the information gathering. She had them get the night shift’s Supervisor drunk in the bar he used on his day off – the premise being that he was helping them celebrate a stag night. Once he was far gone enough, she and River sat on his lap and kept his attention under the guise of under-sexed space harpies. River left the questioning to Bane, but listened and watched fascinated as the man spilled his guts about the security protocols. They both escorted him back to his apartment in a public transport and laid him on the bed, stripping him, before rifling through his belongings and taking copies of his tags and passes. So that he would only recall the good times and not get suspicious, Bane reapplied the lipstick she had bought with her and left kiss prints over his face, neck and chest. River, enjoying herself – especially in the knowledge that they had not told Simon where they were going – and getting into the swing of things, left her underwear clenched in his hand. Their companions; the relatively drunk ‘stag party,’ made up of Karl, Jayne, Rocky, Eric and Barstow, were waiting for them outside, hushing each other at each tiny noise; ‘discrete’ not being part of their vocabulary. ~ * ~ Two weeks later, Bane announced that she had finished the scoping, and Mal and Monty said they would work out the plan in the morning. Yuri Kostova, although happy to accommodate both ships within his yard, was glad that they would be underway soon. Having them here meant two berths that could not be used, and he had a long waiting list of repairs and services to undertake into the New Year, even with the new mechanics he had hired. Kaylee had helped him in the hiring, back when she had first arrived for her honeymoon; twin sisters by the names of Katya and Kalinka Bishky. They had caused havoc in the off-duty time, but he could not fault their mechanic skills. Teamed together they were able to service a vessel of Firefly-size in a day, and that was a full service. At least Kalinka had settled down some, striking up a passionate relationship with Spike within a month of starting, much to Spike’s surprise. As their boss, he did not mind, as long as he did not catch them rutting within his earshot, or slacking on the job. Katya was another story altogether. She liked to get into fights with Feds, particularly ones she got drunk with first. It was getting to the stage where she would be owing him money for the times he had bailed her out of jail. He could sympathise, like many people they had been affected by the War. The Bishky’s story was no different; father killed in battle, girls both serving in the Independent Engineering Corps as mechanics. She needed to get over it though, before she landed herself in jail permanently. Come to think of it, he had not seen her since she clocked off, and as they lived in one of the small suites in the dockyard, that was unusual. Kostova sighed and walked down the stairs from his all-surveying office, hoping that he would find Katya socialising on either Serenity or Monty’s Buccaneer. No one could remember who came up with the inter-ship hoops match idea, but it was now noisily well underway. Karl sat taking a brief rest on a crate in Serenity’s cargo bay watching Bane take part, more attuned than ever to see how she was compensating for her bad eyesight. She missed all the balls that were thrown at her from the side and there was a lot more horseplay. She mostly took possession of the ball by getting it from the hands of others, and she had not made a successful shot at the tyre for a long time, always passing it to someone else to finish. What would happen when he told her that he knew, he wondered? “Hey, Karl! Could do with your help here,” she leaned over him panting. Karl grinned, dark thoughts temporarily forgotten. “I dunno, you play pretty dirty.” She laughed breathlessly at him and he scooped her up so that she was flipped over his shoulder. “What do you say, guys?” Karl said to Eric and Barstow. “Keep her in that position an’ we might win without bruises,” stated Rocky, coming over to slap her on the ass. Bane yelled and kicked, but Karl had her pretty well secured. To stop her yelling and trying to squirm down the back of him, Karl started spinning her around. “I’m gonna be sick,” she said weakly laughing. “Hey, Koz!” said Mal, taking a breather and seeing his friend walk up the ramp. “Thought you were avoidin’ us?” Kostova grinned. “Can’t be fratrinisin’ with you criminal types too much, Mal. You know that.” Mal laughed, and then laughed again as he saw Monty fall on his ass, after missing a go at the hoop. Undeterred, he got up, flicked his now sweaty hair from his shoulders and got back in the game. Mal saw Koz surveying the cargo bay. “Somethin’ wrong?” “Lookin’ for one of my mechanics. If she ain’t here, then she’s out likely gonna get herself arrested again.” Mal’s smile disappeared and he looked at him seriously. “Fed attention ain’t what we need right now.” Koz snorted. “That an’ me forkin’ out for her bail money again.” Mal could see that Koz was concerned, and so was he. He stood and pulled up his braces again. “You want me to fetch her?” “She likely won’t come willingly,” said Koz, and he watched Mal smirk. “I’ll get her, even if she ain’t willin’. The last coupla weeks of work ain’t gonna be blown by some stupid mechanic as likes to get into fights with Feds. What’s she look like?” “Oh you can’t miss her. She’ll be in the Gun Tavern.” Mal’s eyes widened, it was the bar they had already spent a lot of time in, scoping and drinking. ~ * ~ Mal walking into the tavern, having changed out of his usual brown attire to another dull-toned colour of faded blue. Koz had been right, she was easy to spot – wild blond hair in tight curls, in a room full of dull off-duty Purplebellies. He bought a drink at the bar and tried to decide the best way to approach her, especially when she looked well into her cups already. She had her arm around some poor sap who thought she liked him, but was too drunk to comprehend the hatred in her expression. So she likes to liquor them up, then take them down, thought Mal. Time was when he had done the same thing, especially on U-Day. But it was nowhere near U-Day and she could jeopardise their whole job. Mal swallowed the rest of his drink and pushed it back to the barman, before approaching Katya. “S’cuse me, miss, I’ve a message from your sister.” Katya looked up, startled – and for a tiny second he thought she looked sober, and then she grinned lopsidedly. “Nish trick, man. Ain’t like no onesh tried that afore.” She went back to her Fed victim and Mal frowned, before another idea came to him. She was not going to come easily, but the rot gut the Fed was drinking would have to affect his bladder at some point. All he had to do was wait. Sure enough, minutes later, the Fed wobbled off to the toilets and Mal stepped in. Before Katya could start anything he swept her up over his shoulder, just like he had seen Karl do with Bane earlier, and out of the bar. No one stopped him, in fact he earned some cheers. “Hey, you ruttin’ dumb bastard! Let me down! Bun tien-shung de ee-duai-ro!” “You keep usin’ language like that an’ I’ll dump you in the trash,” said Mal amiably. “Gôushî bùrú!” she shouted back, but not as forcefully. Katya was steaming, then quickly assessed her situation, and her viewpoint. Captain Reynolds, she guessed, was here on her boss’s request, which meant they knew what she was up to. “You done yellin’?” Mal asked. “Maybe,” Katya shot back. This Captain Reynolds was a smug hun dan, but a swai smug hun dan, specially the view she had at the moment. The temptation to squeeze his ass was almost too much. Fact it was, and she flopped her hand on it, in time to his steps, so it did not seem obvious. Mal’s lips thinned, gorram drunk woman, he cursed. He made it back to the shipyard without further problems, other than having his ass severely groped, that is. As soon as they were inside Koz’s main hanger, he dropped her back onto her feet. Katya flopped to the floor with a thud and Mal groaned, tired of this game. He pulled up a booted foot and dragged her to a safer place under the stairs, leaving her and walking back towards Serenity. “You’re kidding, right?” came a sharp, and sober, voice. “Huh?” he said, turning around again. Katya was sitting up and brushing the floor dirt from her jacket. Mal’s eyes narrowed with annoyance and he walked towards her. “Suddenly you ain’t soundin’ so drunk.” Katya jumped to her feet with something akin to Kaylee’s bouncy enthusiasm, though she was much older. “Never said I was, jus’ acted like it.” “So’s you could have a good excuse for punching that Fed when the time was right?” finished Mal. Katya sighed dramatically. “Damn, I’m gettin’ so predictable!” she said, easily. To his own surprise, Mal laughed. “So how did groping my ass figure inta that equation?” Katya grinned and walked forward, making Mal realise he was resisting the temptation to take a step back. “Gotta take my kicks where I can get ‘em. Seen you around for a coupla weeks, figur’d you for shy, but it don’t mean that I won’t take advantage now.” Mal snorted at her use of the word ‘shy’, but also felt a little affronted. “I ain’t shy, darlin’, I’m workin’. An’ I usually jus’ pick my moments.” “So do I,” said Katya, kissing him. Mal responded momentarily and instinctively, then found himself pulling away. Inara flashed through his head, beautiful and brief, and then was gone as Katya’s hands found his butt again. “Stop thinkin’.” “Huh?” Mal said again. Katya surveyed him critically. “This don’t have to be anythin’ you don’t want it to. Walk away now, if you ain’t sure – I won’t hold it against you.” She pressed against him. “Course, I’d like to hold all kinds of things against you.” She took off her jacket, revealing a very tight vest that barely covered her…Mal looked up to her face again, seeing the smirk plastered there. He swallowed uncomfortably. “I ain’t exactly here for recreation,” he tried to back track, but his eyes would not stay on her face, gorram it. Katya gave a low enticing chuckle, and one of her tight blond curls dropped down out of sight between her breasts. Mal blinked, realising his eyes had wondered yet again. Katya’s body was barely an inch from his as she spoke again. “You know what they say about all work an’ no play. Tell me you don’t feel like misbehavin’?” Misbehaving was exactly what he was planning to do in the next few days. Well, why not start early? ~ * ~ Mal woke suddenly to the sound of two women talking in his near proximity. His first impressions were that he was in bed, not his bed and if so, why were there two women nearby? He opened his eyes, blinking several times. Why was he seeing double? Mal rubbed his eyes for good measure. Nope, there were definitely two of them. Katya giggled at the man’s confused expression, as well as the small tent he had not realised he had made between his legs. “Mornin’, Cap’n. This is my sister, Kalinka. She came in to see if I’d got home safely.” “And did you?” Mal asked, still confused. Both women had their hair plaited around their heads, they were identical in every way. Kalinka giggled, having seen the same thing as her sister. She put on a serious face and considered him, while addressing Katya. “You don’t reckon he thinks we’re both here to, you know, be with him together?” Katya laughed and Mal’s face turned red, before he pulled a pillow down to cover himself. “No! I –er, you just came in – why are you in here, exactly?” he said, trying to recover. Kalinka was laughing, also identically, to her sister. She gave her a quick peck on the cheek before walking to the door. “Don’t be late, we’ve two ships to get done today.” “See you down there,” answered Katya, still keeping her eyes on Mal. After the door closed, Mal removed the pillow and started to get out of bed. “You goin’ somewhere, Cap’n Reynolds?” “Got work to be done,” he said. “Damn right,” Katya stated firmly, her robe dropping to the ground. ~ * ~ Much later that morning, after Mal had been located, and after he had submitted to their teasing, they worked out the plan. It had been agreed that Rocky and Jayne would go into the complex with Bane. Karl had argued this point vehemently, saying he wanted to go, but been overruled by Mal and Monty, based on Bane’s objections. She had said that he did not match the ‘type’ of people who worked there, whereas Rocky and Jayne did. “You know after all these years it still amazes me that the Alliance don’t learn from their mistakes,” she added. “What do you mean?” said Monty. “Well, sticking all the useless Feds on the night shift, for one thing. And only sticking very few people on the night shift being another.” “Does that mean we’ll only have a few to take out?” asked Rocky. Bane shook her head and gave a small smile. “No need to take them out – they’re gonna help us. The ol’ smoke an’ mirrors – it usually works a treat.” Bane knew what she could expect from Jayne, but she had not worked with Rocky before, so she gave her full attention to him and Jayne, rubbing an eye absently. “You have to chat to each other, make it seem normal. Stick to simple things like sex, bastard officers and what a pain in the ass I am. Compare notes, anything to make the Feds believe that you’re just goin’ about normal business. Think you can do that?” Rocky answered. “So basically, you order us about an’ we put up with it?” Bane nodded laughing. Karl, not seeing the funny side, wanted to shake Bane by the shoulders, and get her to admit that she was putting all their lives in danger by not telling them of her failing eyesight. He managed to insist that he was one of the ones waiting outside with Monty and Mal, while Eric and Barstow babysat the Feds whose places they were taking.

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Monday, November 12, 2007 3:51 AM

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