BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

DESERTGIRL

Snowball - Chapter 1
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Six months after Miranda, Mal decides to do a nice easy legal run for a change. Unfortunately, this milk run to a snowy resort world near the core already seems more hazardous than Mal originally expected. This is the first of eleven chapters. Traditional pairings, lots of adventure. No OC appears in more than a couple of chapters. If you want to know more, you can find out all about it in my blog.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2348    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Set six months after the BDM, with standard pairings: Simon and Kaylee, Mal and Inara angst. And, it is pg-13 with the exception of a Jayne scene in chapter 8, I’m not telling you more it would ruin the fun.

Of course - It all belongs to Joss. His world and his characters, but I sure am enjoying playing with them.

Thanks to Mal4prez for the wonderful Beta type advice and thanks to Valeriebean for helping me figure out how to make an ice planet.

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Snowball – chapter 1

Simon felt as though he could hear the captain’s complaints all the way from the galley. In truth, he did not notice the noise emanating from the bridge until he came down the hall past the crew quarters. Perhaps it was his certain knowledge of the likely bad end to this particular errand that led him to dread its completion. But the moment he heard the grumbling, he knew that without a doubt this was not going to go well. Long strings of Chinese curses assaulted his ears as he walked down the hall towards the bridge, each step becoming slower and slower as he neared. He couldn’t let the captain’s issues distract him, his errand was critical and time was of the essence.

Simon had spent the last half hour cooking the crew’s evening meal. He realized his cooking was marginal at best, even when the food was fresh and was eaten immediately. Cold and stale, his cooking left a lot be desired. Inedible would probably be a more apt word for it. There was a time when he wouldn’t have thought twice about tossing a poorly cooked meal into the trash, but not now. Food cost money, and they didn’t have money to waste. The crew needed to eat, and if anyone was going to be able to stomach this meal, he needed to call them to dinner as soon as possible, which meant getting to the main com unit on the bridge.

As he placed his foot on the first of the final five steps leading to the ships control center, his sister spoke, coming to his rescue, saving him the trouble of interrupting the captain. It amazed him that she even knew he was there; she had not even looked in his direction.

“Simon’s here; time to go.” River punched a series of numbers into the helm. Behind her a blue light on the consol blinked on and off indicating that she’d activated the automatic pilot. Simon sent her a silent thank you, when he heard her words. River nodded as she stood and took a step towards him.

“Dinner? Shiny!” Kaylee rolled out from underneath the consol that she was attempting to fix and laid both of the wrenches in her hands gently into the tool box next to her. She smiled at Simon as she climbed to her feet. He couldn’t help noticing that this evening Kaylee was wearing her coveralls with the teddy bear on the knee; he loved how she looked in those particular coveralls. Mostly though, he could not wait to get her back to his bunk and take them off of her. But he couldn’t think of that now. He had a job to do.

Quickly, both women edged towards the hatchway, as if they had been awaiting their chance at escape for quite some time. They ignored the captain, who sat fuming silently in the copilots chair.

“Does no one else on this boat care that our next job is going south faster than a bird in October?” Mal said to both women as they attempted to flee towards dinner.

“Not to fret, Captain.” Kaylee said grinning at him as she spoke. “Nothin’s goin’ south. It’s just that the consol shorted ‘fore you got all the info. I’ll have it fixed in no time flat and you can wave ole Jasper and explain things.”

“Kaylee, you’ve been working on the gorramn thing since it shorted. You said not five minutes ago that you can’t figure out what the problem is.”

“Well, yeah. But I’m just on the verge of finding it. I can tell.”

“Sometimes what we don’t know can kill us,” Mal mumbled under his breath. Kaylee didn’t hear him but River must have, because she picked up the com and pushed the button.

“All hands, Simon’s dinner’s ready. Everyone who doesn’t remember the last time Simon cooked should join us. But–” She paused, considering her next few words “– captain’s tetchy, missed Jasper’s most recent attempts at deception, and now he worries.” She returned the com mike to its holder and fled, laughing as she passed Simon on the stairs, Kaylee at her heels.

“I’m not tetchy!” Mal yelled down the hall in their general direction as he descended the stairs himself.

“Captain,” Simon said, falling in step with the older man as they walked towards the dining room. “Why does River think that Jasper is deceiving you? Isn’t this run supposed to be legit?”

“It is,” Mal replied tersely. After taking a few silent steps he added, “Maybe I should be asking you that question, you understand your sister better than most. Never was one to be more cryptic than your sister. Even this new sane, post Miranda River can’t talk straight to save her life.”

Mal stopped short, turned to face Simon and said solemnly, “You think she’s regressing, or does she just like confounding us?”

Simon was suddenly overcome with doubt as to his sister’s recovery. She had been doing so much better; making sense most of the time. Did he need to adjust her, medications? He opened his mouth to tell the captain he would scan her after dinner, when he realize the captain was most likely playing him, again. Yet once more he was saved from speaking by River, who rounded the corner with a smirk on her face.

River stopped just in front of them, her face no more than two inches from Mal’s. She waited just a moment too long before she stated plain as she could manage, “Likes to laugh, likes to tease, but Jasper really is deceiving about the return not the present.” She grabbed them both by the arm and tugged them into the dining room saying, “Simon’s dinner’s turning green. Must hurry. See teasing again.” River smiled at both the men as she pulled them along.

“See, cryptic,” Mal said to Simon as he let himself be led towards the dining room, causing River to turn around and stick her tongue out at both of them.

Simon and Mal were the last to arrive at dinner that evening. It seemed everyone knew Simon’s cooking was best choked down quickly. Mal took his usual seat at the head of the table. Simon sat down in the empty seat next to Kaylee and politely waited for everyone to pick up their forks or chopsticks before he did the same. Memories of his tutor reminding him of proper table manners filled his mind. Over many excruciating meals, he had learned that politeness dictated waiting only a few seconds before eating, but as Simon stared down at the stir-fried protein cubes and canned vegetables he could not bring himself to take a bite. The food smelled like burned socks, and looked like slime. Seconds turned into minutes and he still had yet to taste the food.

“Jenkins said the host must eat first,” River prodded him “So your guests know you haven’t poisoned the food.”

“Hah, Simon poisoning the food; just tell him to cook and it’s as good as poisoned.” Jayne teased the Doc while shoving food into his own mouth. “One bite of this and ya know he’s got it in for ya, even if he eats too.”

“Oh, don’t be so mean Jayne,” Kaylee said. “I think it’s sweet that Simon volunteered to cook since I had ta fix the bridge consol.”

“Doc just wants to keep on your good side so you’ll keep fixin’ him.” Jayne continued to shove food into his mouth while he spoke. Completely ignoring Mal’s warning glare, he continued, “Any chance you could take some of that time you been teachin’ the doc about girl parts to teach him to cook?”

“Lay off Jayne,” Zoë spoke up, which was unusual. She hadn’t been one for talking much at dinner in the six months since Wash died. “I didn’t hear you volunteering to cook this evening.”

“Ya well, my cookin’s worse, even I know that.” Jayne stuffed another fork full of food into his mouth.

Simon smiled at Zoë. He silently thanked her for coming to his rescue. It made him glad to see her taking part in the usual dinnertime repartee. But, it was time to take this evening’s discussion away from the food.

“Captain,” Simon asked, “did I hear you say that we are headed to Hawthorne?”

“Sure ‘nough,” the captain replied, taking a bite and wincing at the taste.

“Isn’t that awfully near the core?” Simon thought of being back on the Core with its overzealous security and he inwardly flinched, although he thought he hid it well. As far as they knew there were still active warrants for his and River’s arrest. He did not want to run into a situation where they might be in danger.

“Near enough,” the captain responded, “but we ain’t had any problems at all in the last six months. Either the Alliance doesn’t want it to get out that a run down transport ship...”

“Captain,” Kaylee admonished him. “Serenity’s not run down.”

“You know what I mean Kaylee. Either the Alliance don’t want it to get out that a band of poor independents like us could take them down, or that Operative buried our involvement as a favor to us.”

“Most likely both.” Inara set down her chopsticks and spoke for the first time that evening. “No one responsible for that disaster wants to lose more face than they already have.”

“’Nara, the alliance wouldn’t cut off their faces.” Jayne stated confidently. “They’d just be sacked.”

Everyone stared at Jayne, who it seemed was very proud of his profound insight. It made it even harder for Simon to keep a straight face as he considered the remark. Glancing around the table, it seemed others were having the same reaction. Kaylee looked like she was about to burst and even the corners of Zoë’s mouth were turned upwards in the hint of a grin.

“Hawthorne’s a beautiful place,” Simon said, changing the subject again. Turning towards his sister he asked, “Do you remember our trips to Hawthorne?”

“January swish swish,” River replied.

“See, cryptic.” Mal pointed his fully loaded fork at River.

Kaylee smiled with excitement. “Ooh, you’ve been there? Tell us all about it. I hear it’s beautiful.”

“Well,” Simon complied. “Hawthorne is an ice moon.”

“Ice planet? As in frozen treat on a string?” Jayne asked dubiously.

“One of the first attempts at terraforming outside the central Core,” Inara informed everyone. “From what I understand, someone forgot to compensate for the distance between the moon and its star. Apparently it turned out as if this nice little world were suddenly just stuck in perpetual winter. It was temporarily abandoned as a failure, but a few hundred years ago the Lorian family bought it and began construction on winter facilities. The Guild has a house there.”

“It’s a big resort,” River stated unequivocally.

“Our father used to take us there every January for a week.” Simon smiled at thought about those trips. Long ago when he had thought that the Alliance was good and just, when he thought his parents were smart and caring, when he thought people were kind and helpful. Sometimes he wished both he and River could be that innocent again, but then, he never would have met Kaylee.

“We would ski on the hills and skate on the ice. Sometimes we would watch the professionals and imagine that we could move with their speed and grace. It was quite fun.”

“Simon throws snowballs,” River said to Kaylee, as if that statement was capable of painting a picture of their childhood vacations in one simple sentence.

“Remember when I hit Mr. Towasaki in the head?” Simon asked looking at River. “Father looked like he was going to disown me then and there.” He began to laugh heartily then looked around. Seeing that no one else was sharing his amusement of this childhood prank, Simon stopped laughing, turning slightly red.

“Well then,” Mal stated. “Glad you’ve volunteered to go in with us, give us the lay of the land, and all,” He stared at Simon, waiting for him to disagree.

Simon had not intended anything of the sort with his childhood reminiscences. He was quite certain that during his childhood he had never been anywhere near the areas that they would be visiting on this trip. It seemed, however, from the look on Mal’s face, that he did not really have a choice about this particular assignment. After a few carefully unspoken words he finally nodded.

“Cap?” Kaylee asked after a few moments. “Do you think we might have any down time on Hawthorne?”

“Not especially, and we all best stay close to the ship. I’d rather make a hasty retreat if things don’t go right. You know – since we have so much information.” The sarcasm dripped from Mal’s words like icicles.

“Skiing is like flying on the ground, or dancing in the air,” River stated to the group.

“That’s true,” Inara added as she stood and collected a stack of plates, she carried them kitchen as she spoke. “I particularly like feeling the cool, crisp air whipping against my face as I glide down the slopes.”

“It’d make me nervous to go that fast.” Kaylee looked pensive as she spoke. “I’d worry about falling and breaking something important.”

“That’s because you never learned,” Simon consoled her gently. “A few hours of ski school and you’ll be flying down the slope with the best of em.”

“I just want us able to fly in the air when it’s necessary to make a hasty departure. We’re staying close to the ship,” Mal stated indisputably. “If you haven’t noticed more often than not we’re in need of a quick getaway.”

Kaylee looked at the captain, clearly confused. “I thought you said this was a legal cargo run. Ain’t that why we stopped at that checkpoint?”

“The run to Hawthorne is legal. It’s the return cargo that’s makin’ me nervous. I don’t like not knowing who were dealing with or what were supposed to be carrying.”

Zoë nodded. It was clear that she shared her captain’s apprehension. Jayne, however, grabbed a second helping of dinner. He obviously could care less about the particulars of their cargo, or the taste of his meal.

“I’d like to try skiin’,” Kaylee said, brushing away the captain’s words, the change of subject lifting the mood around the table. “Inara makes it sound so exciting. I’ve been ice skating. We used to go ice skating on Sutter’s pond back home when it got froze over. But I’ve never been skiing.”

“I’ve watched the races on the Cortex,” Zoë contributed. “Wash always enjoyed watching the ones where they flung themselves into the air and did acrobatics.”

“Ariels,” Simon confirmed. He smiled to himself, thinking that Zoë must be having a good night to be freely talking about Wash.

“Yeah, those were the ones,” Zoë replied, staring intently at the water in her hand.

“I like watching those,” Jayne said, mouth full of food. “Always wonder when someone’s gunna fall and break their neck.”

“Well, no use talking about it. None of us are going anywhere near ski slopes,” Mal stated “We’re dropping cargo, taking on something new, and jumping back into the air.”

“What are we hauling to Hawthorne, Captain?” Simon had never bothered to ask what was in the many crates filling the cargo bay on this run.

“Rolls of some fancy carbon fiber. S’posed to be better than Kevlar and cheaper than fiberglass,” Mal responded.

“So we’ll be setting down in the industrial zone?” Simon asked.

“Our instructions say set to down in the Shelton Docks, in New Glenwood,” Mal replied. “Jasper sent coordinates.”

Simon caught River’s eye. It was clear she knew, just as he did, exactly what kind of area they would be setting down in.

COMMENTS

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 12:38 PM

CHARLIEBZ


What a great start! I like how you've integrated the entire crew into the story. Can't wait for the continuation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:52 PM

LEIASKY


Wonderful start! I was skeptical how you would bring 'everyone' skiing into the mix but so far its working out wonderfully!

I did particularly like Jayne's jab at Simon about girl parts and cooking :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 3:28 PM

AMDOBELL


OOooh, the Captain's unease is rubbing off on me. Wish River would give more information but then it would all be too easy, wouldn't it? Nice to see Zoe coming in from the cold and interacting with the crew after Wash. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 4:45 PM

MAL4PREZ


Very fun start, with everyone having their say around the able. Still, I can't wait to move on to the rest LOL!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:49 PM

JANE0904


Good start - nicely set up and with just the right amount of tension starting to creep in.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 7:41 AM

LADYSAGE


I love a good beginning with just enough meat to make you want more. I also really like the way you weave in all the characters and keep them true to the series/BDM. Keep this going!

:-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 3:53 PM

PLATONIST


a little late to the party

great start, looking for more


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