BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

MERRYK

Crew, But Not - Chapter 11
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mal needs to escape, and the rest of the crew find themselves in sticky situation of their own, while River and Simon follow Book's plan.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2402    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Chapter 11

“I’m having difficulty seeing the benefit of this,” muttered Simon as he helped River put the hooded cloak over her new outfit.

“It’s all right, son, you shouldn’t,” said Book. He took a small scissor and cut a small piece of hair from his ponytail. “Those of your background should see things as black and white, and black doesn’t flaunt itself under one’s nose.”

Simon tied River’s hair into a topknot and then covered it with the hood. “How did you—”

“I know how the world sees my profession,” answered Book quickly. He pulled a pen from Simon’s bag and began to take it apart. “Are you well read in philosophical works?”

“I don’t know,” said Simon, attaching his collar with difficulty and glancing down the alley where they were located. “I’ve read all the classics, we debated in school...but improv is not—”

“I’ve spoken with you before, you’ll be fine,” assured Book. Taking the ink cartridge of the pen, he shook it over the hair clipping that he had lain on a handkerchief.

“And River?” asked Simon nervously.

“She can do what she does best,” said Book, smiling at the girl who was now clad in Shepherd’s garb. “Do you have the adhesive?”

Simon nodded, and River raised one finger to her lips to say: “Shh.” ~*~*~*~*~

“It’s not going to be easy,” grumbled Jayne as he tried to balance on Mal and Zoe’s shoulders.

“Just don’t break your arm,” said Mal. He tried not to breath too heavily, bracing himself under Jayne’s massive bulk.

Taking a deep breath, Jayne drew back his arm and then gave a powerful strike. His forearm crashed through the wooden board ceiling, leaving a hole a foot and a half across. Pulling his arm back, he gave it a shake, and then plowed through the weakened boards.

“All set!” he cried, as a key rattled in the door.

“Hold there!” cried a guard, before Jayne plowed through his face as well. Mal and Zoe quickly pushed the body into the guard behind and slammed the door shut. The locked clicked, and the key lay abandoned on the floor.

“We’re good, people,” said Mal. “Jayne, you’re up first.” He and Zoe braced themselves again to help vault Jayne up into the opening they had made. “Pull up Zoe next!”

“This may work,” commented Zoe, with a little too much surprise for Mal’s ego.

~*~*~*~*~

“Well, officer, I would love to offer my services,” said Wash genially, but Jarndyce cut him off.

“Do you, or do you not have the paperwork for this cargo?”

“I’m a pilot,” declared Wash, throwing up his hands. “I’m outranked by three people, including my wife—I don’t do anything official.”

“Your captain’s ship’s papers were all that were found on him,” said Jarndyce slowly. “My men will see if they are to date, but I need to know about the cargo.”

“Um,” put in Kaylee tentatively, and Jarndyce turned to stare at her. “I think the paperwork went to Lord Tembriar with the bill.”

“Hmm, at least you’re consistent,” muttered Jarndyce as he scribbled again. Looking back up he said in a louder voice, “So you didn’t file official paperwork?”

“I really have no idea,” said Wash with a nervous laugh. “I told you, I’m just—”

“Bound by law, yes, thank you,” said Jarndyce. He closed his notebook and beckoned to his officers. “We need to bring them in for questioning.”

“But we haven’t done anything!” protested Kaylee.

“We’ll be the judge of that, thank you,” said Jarndyce with a cold smile. “Where is the rest of your crew?”

“This is it,” said Wash. “We’re not a large operation—our registered Companion isn’t on board at the moment.”

“Indeed,” mused Jarndyce. “Men, I want a guard stationed by the ship, and the rest of you come with me.”

“Well, this will be fun,” murmured Wash as he and Kaylee were cuffed.

“This ain’t good,” said Kaylee, shaking her head and looking back at Serenity. “Not at all.”

~*~*~*~*~

“I don’t find the idea that life can be so coldly considered to be accurate with Biblical conditions,” argued Book seriously.

“It’s hardly cold,” answered Simon, stumbling on the last word. “A, uh, merciful death is all the love we can show to a person in some cases.” He felt uncomfortable in his garb, and even more so with the inkstained mustache glued on his upper lip.

“Don’t discount the injunction: do not kill,” said Book, gravely placing a hand on his Bible. “Even the medical profession used to consider that the golden rule.”

“It’s not completely abandoned,” answered Simon, trying not to glance at where River knelt before a bench, praying in the eyes of all passerbys on the busy street. There might be something to the idea of hiding in plain view, but it was certainly stressful. “But in—in extreme cases, love must also be kind.”

“Love is the first law,” acknowledged Book with a gesture. “But don’t let yourself be misguided by the secular world and take things out of context. You are young, Brother Samuel, and expected to have passionate beliefs, but those beliefs do not have to be tolerated.” He put a hand on Simon’s shoulder, and murmured under his breath, “You are doing well.”

Simon breathed out and forced himself not to look behind him at the street. Book nodded at him to continue in a less self-conscious volume. “Do you still think the Scriptures are accurate, after almost 3000 years of being translated?” asked Simon. “Should we put so much on each literal injunction?”

“Oh, that is dangerous ground, my son,” said Book, but without rebuke. “Without the Scriptures, what doctrine do we have?”

“Is it not better to—to trust the conscience that was given to us?” asked Simon.

“Ah, but you have said many times before that men are fallible,” countered Book.

“But you argue that—God—has placed in each of us something—” Simon broke off as Book reached out a hand on his shoulder.

“Men may misuse what God has given them,” said Book in a less vocal tone, looking past Simon’s face to something that Simon knew he should not turn and draw attention to. “Brother Samuel, we should see what Brother Richmond has to say before we continue.”

“I—agree,” finished Simon. There was a moment of silence among them, as the oblivious crowd around them filled the streets with noise.

“His prayer time is nearly finished,” said Book. Drawing closer to Simon, he said, “You may look and see.”

Simon turned around, glancing for whatever had caught Book’s eye. He started at the sight of uniforms, and then recognized a familiar Hawaiian shirt. His breath caught as he saw that Kaylee and Wash were slowly being taken away and now were almost out of sight.

“Brother Richmond, it is time for us to return,” said Book, touching River’s shoulder.

The hood put her face in shadows, and she rose with a conspiratorial: “Shh.”

“Yes,” said Book.

“What—” began Simon, turning back to Book with all his astonishment writ plain across his face.

“The sun has begun to sink; we are well past our time,” said Book significantly. He raised his own hood, and as Simon did likewise, they began to walk back to the ship, away from the federal officers who had Kaylee and Wash under arrest.

Soon they turned down the alley, and Simon burst out with: “What happened?”

“I have no more information than you,” said Book quietly. “But I know that federal officers are only allowed to arrest if there is proof of a violation of some law, and so I think we can be sure that they did not come for you.”

“But why Kaylee? And Wash?” asked Simon.

“Let us find out,” said Book.

“Won’t there be officers on the ship?” asked Simon nervously.

“You two stay in the background,” directed Book. “I’ll deal with this.”

“Prayed,” River said softly to Simon. “Catharsis comes from releasing problems, even if to an unproven power.”

Simon nodded to her, but his worry commanded his attention at this moment. Soon they were back at the docks, and he saw that Serenity’s door was wide open with one federal standing guard. Book motioned for Simon to stop at the bottom of the ramp, while Book walked humbly forward with his Bible clasped to his chest.

“I’m sorry, this boat is off limits,” came the crisp tone of the officer to Simon’s ears. He had his head bowed, and only heard what was going on in front of him.

“Perhaps a mistake was made,” came Book’s warm assuring tones. “We were called to perform confession for this crew in exchange for passage to Persephone.”

“This crew has been bound by federal law,” said the officer.

“Oh dear,” said Book apologetically. “I did not think they needed to confess such large sins.”

Simon heard the officer speak again, his tone a little more personal. “Well, it’s just a lack of paperwork I think, but I do have my orders.”

“Of course,” said Book. “If something does come of it, we’ll need to find other passage. Some of our belongings were moved here already. Might we?”

“Just don’t touch the cargo,” came the officer’s voice, official again. “And hurry up.”

“It’s all right, brothers,” called Book’s voice, and Simon looked up with an inward sigh of relief.

He and River walked up, trying not to look inconspicuous. The officer was young and looked bored, watching the action around the docks, but Simon did not release his breath until they were past him and in the cargo bay.

~*~*~*~*~

“Keep it down, Jayne!” hissed Zoe as they crawled through the roof, carefully placing their weight on each beam.

“Weren’t made for stealth, you know that!” hissed Jayne back.

Mal was in the lead, feeling pretty sure he knew how to make it to the front entrance. He loved enclosed spaces and hated them. In the war, stuck in trenches, he had cursed and fought for a breath of fresh air, but in Serenity’s bowels he felt safe and secure. This wasn’t so bad—he was fighting for freedom again. Like always. Mal sometimes wondered if wearing a recognizable coat made his employers think that he was ready for a fight all the time, when all he wanted was for the gorram job to go smooth. Do a job, get paid, no undue fussin’—it wasn’t such a pipe dream, was it?

The alarms started going off in the complex below, becoming intensely loud as they passed over one.

“It’s a fair bet they have heat sensors to locate us, sir,” called Zoe. “Shouldn’t speed be of more essence?”

“Don’t want to get lost,” called Mal back. “But yeah, silence isn’t so important now.”

Jayne grunted satisfactorily.

“We’re about a third of the way there,” said Mal.

There was some more crawling, some violent curses as even Jayne’s calloused hands objected to the raw splinters that invaded them, some pauses as Mal caught his bearing.

“Sir?”

“We’re doing good,” assured Mal, starting forward again. “But shensheng de gaowan if my knees are ever going to forgive me again,” he added in a mutter.

“So we gonna get our shuttle back?” asked Jayne.

“That’s the plan,” began Mal, when suddenly he stopped and put a hand to his hip.

“What is it, sir?” asked Zoe.

~*~*~*~*~

“Are you insane?” asked Simon in a loud whisper as soon as they were past most of the cargo. “We know what happened, we don’t need to stay. We need to run.”

“Wash left us a code, in case something happened,” said Book. “We need to contact the Captain.”

“What if they’ve taken the earwig from him?” asked Simon.

“Wrong number,” said Book simply.

Simon followed cautiously with River as they climbed up to the cockpit. Book reached under the right console and looked at the sticky note. Finding the comm switches, he began to dial in the code.

“Hello?”

*What the hell is this?* came the muffled but clearly clueless tones.

“Right number,” said Book with relief.

*Wash? No, couldn’t be*

“Shepherd Book, Captain,” said Book.

*I thought we didn’t set these things up*

“Wash had a contingency plan.”

*Idiot could have told me first*

“Suppose so,” said Book. “Captain, we need to make this quick.”

*The feds come?*

“Yes. They’ve taken Kaylee and Wash, but the rest of us managed to escape and come back on Serenity secretly.”

*mumbled cursing*

“Troubles?” asked Book ironically.

*We’re about to retake our shuttle, if we can get out of this attic, and fly to you*

Simon frowned, and Books eyebrows raised, but he answered only, “Understood. Wash and Kaylee?”

*We’ll see. Gotta go*

“Good luck,” said Book, and the last thing they heard was the click of the radio.

“We really need to leave,” said Simon.

Book didn’t answer, tapping his fingers on the console and glancing around. “Paperwork,” he murmured.

“What?” asked Simon, confused.

Book walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a datapad and a packet of blank papers. “We got many cargo shipments in the Abbey; I have a good idea of what they look like.”

“We’re forging paperwork?” asked Simon incredulously.

“Since the Captain was careless in not leaving the official papers where his crew could find them,” said Book as he began to type.

“I highly doubt that there were ever—” Simon stopped as Book cast him a significant glance. “Right. But how will you manage signatures?”

“We don’t need to manage things perfectly,” said Book.

Simon sighed and reached over to keep River from touching the controls.

~*~*~*~*~

“We’re here, Jayne,” said Mal, scooting to the side and pointing to a wall.

“Finally,” muttered Jayne as he drew close to punch through.

“Guns a’blazing, folks,” said Mal. “Let’s make this quick.”

Zoe drew her gun as Jayne powered for the strike. With a crash, he was through again and rolled out of the way so Mal could roll in and shoot warning fire. Mal fired high and then low, and saw the guards scatter and duck to shelter.

“Sir, there are guards on the roof,” said Zoe.

“I’m counting on them being recruited for the search,” said Mal. “Jayne, again.”

“Pretty uncertain guess,” commented Zoe as Jayne broke through the boards.

“Now or never,” added Mal with a grin. Climbing through, he hopped to the ground and rolled forward, popping up with guns firing. A shot whizzed by his ear, but the guards weren’t ready for aim and shot wildly. He ducked low and dodged behind the shuttle. By the time the door was open, Zoe came dashing in, followed by Jayne with some more cover fire. Mal had her up in the air in minutes, and left the back door open so Jayne could rain fire down on any opponents.

“Yes!” cried Jayne as they pulled away.

“No anti-aircraft, sir,” said Zoe with as much exultation as she could put in her voice.

Mal closed the door to the shuttle. “We need to make it to Serenity.”

“What about our folk as got caught?” asked Zoe.

“Still thinkin’,” said Mal. “Need my ship.”

~*~*~*~*~

The one federal by Serenity was starting to yawn as Book came up to him. “Young man?”

“What?” asked the guard, standing to attention.

“I was gathering my things, and I found these papers on the floor,” said Book, handing over two pages.

“Oh,” said the guard, looking over them with furrowed brow, as this was clearly not his area of expertise. “I see. Well, I guess things are in order after all.”

“So the arrest can’t stand?” asked Book innocently.

“Well, I don’t know about your captain, but we can’t hold your other crew,” said the guard with a nod.

“Good,” said Book. “I just remembered that some of my things are in the lockers, and I mislaid my key. Could you call and have them released?”

“Well, it doesn’t really work that way,” said the guard, scratching his head. “I can call in, but the papers have to be signed by an officer and someone has to bring them in.”

“If you could sign them and call in, might I pick them up? I think we’ll need to hurry, but I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”

“No, no, I think that would work,” said the guard. “I don’t usually do papers, but there’s not really any cause to worry with something this simple.” He pulled a radio from his pocket. “Uh, sir?” he called in. “Yeah, the ship’s passengers came by and found the papers. Uh, yeah, they seem to be in order. Well, one of the passengers wants to do it, says he’s in a hurry to get his key from the crew. Yeah, I’ll send him in. He’s a shepherd. Yeah, I’ll do the extra paperwork. Sanders out, sir.”

“It’s good, then?” asked Book expectantly.

“Uh yeah,” said Sanders, pulling a pad from his pocket. “I’ll just sign these things, and give you a pass. You know where the station is?” He glanced briefly over the papers and signed them, then scribbled on a bit of paper.

“I can find my way,” said Book. “Thank you, son.”

As Officer Sanders looked up to respond, there was a loud thunk and he suddenly crashed to the floor. Simon stood there, the heavy wrench in his hand and a look of disgust on his face.

“Here, let’s put him somewhere quiet,” said Book, leaning down to pick up the officer by his feet.

Simon grabbed his arms and lifted. “I suppose we had to do that?”

“I’m afraid so,” said Book with a set look. “He’ll be fine. I’ll go get our crew, while you stay and guard the ship. Close the door, and don’t open it for anyone but us.”

“I—I can’t do that,” objected Simon. “If anything fails, River and I should be well away from where the officers are sure to come.”

“Listen, son,” said Book gravely, putting a hand on Simon’s shoulder. “If they all get taken by the feds, you’re not going to get safely off this planet.”

Simon grimaced, but had no response.

“I’ll be back soon,” said Book. He mounted the mule and drove off.

Simon walked all the way inside and pressed the button to shut the door. He and River were now alone on Serenity. Exhaling, he slumped down on a box by the door, worry filling his heart. River came quietly over to him from where she had been sitting on the stairs and sat next to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. She had let her hair down and lowered her hood so that she looked even more strange, a hybrid of young shepherd and little sister.

“Tired?” he asked. It was not past mid-day yet, though their time in disguise had felt like a lifetime.

“And hungry,” she said with a sigh.

“Hopefully things will be over soon,” he said, moving his arm to wrap around her shoulders.

“Danger’s not over yet,” she said.

“Well, that’s certainly true,” he said with a sigh of his own.

They sat and waited.

COMMENTS

Sunday, December 9, 2007 2:54 PM

LEIASKY


I love this story that shows how Simon does get involved in little things that end up making a difference, but the focus is on the crew, and how they all interact and work together.

Nicely done!

Sunday, December 9, 2007 10:53 PM

JANE0904


I like this story very much, and you have all the voices down well. I adore the way Mal says his knees will never forgive him, and how Book is very much take charge. Can't wait to read more!


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