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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Murdocke explains the rules of the game, and Marcus and Mal set about to find out who’s calling the shots.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 812 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Elias Pendergast looked nervously from Murdocke to the Alliance commander and back again. Moistening his suddenly dry lips with the tip of his tongue, he asked, “Is that some sort of…..bomb he’s holding?”
“Sure looks like it,” Marcus said smoothly, standing still as a stone watching Murdocke with interest. “A real nasty kind, too.”
Pendergast looked at the colony militia with wide eyes. “Well, what are you going to do about this?” he asked.
The leader of the militia looked at him oddly. “Whaddya’ mean, what are WE going to do about it? Seems to me this here’s just become a matter for the Feds to handle.” He motioned to his men, and they lowered their weapons quickly. “We got no notion to be picking up bits and pieces of the colonists on accounta’ some squabble over fertilizer.”
Pendergast looked at the man in exasperation. “I think it’s safe to assume that we’re dealing with something other than fertilizer here.”
Mal smiled widely. “Wouldn’t be too sure about that. Seems to me there’s an awful lot of fertilizer bein’ spread all around, if you get my meaning.”
Murdocke, whose eyes had not left those of the leader of the Alliance unit, said calmly, “See now, the local militia has the right idea. Lowered their weapons all nice and peaceful-like. Best you be doing the same, right about now.” He wiggled his thumb above the switch as a reminder.
The man swallowed nervously, stealing a quick glance behind him to see that the militia had indeed lowered their weapons, and his own men stood frozen, watching the plasticell container with varying degrees of alarm. Turning his gaze back to Murdocke, he attempted to smile as if he had no worries, but he fell short somewhat. “You wouldn’t dare to blow it,” he said, forcing a steadiness he did not feel into his voice. “You know K-21 would blow everybody on this little world to smithereens before you could spit. I hardly think that’s the way you want your friends here to die.”
“Think I’d prefer ‘em to be shot by you?” Murdocke asked, a slow lazy smile gracing his lips. “’Sides, you may be assumin’ a mite too much with the whole ‘don’t want my friends to die’ line of reasoning. I can’t even begin to tell you how many troubles I’ve had since I hooked up with these folk.” He pointed at Marcus. “That man there has threatened to blow me out the airlock more times than I can recall right now, and he wasn’t jokin’ when he did.” Waving toward Zoe, he said, “And she hit me in the back of the head not more than a week ago, whilst he..” He pointed to Pierre. “…looked on happily.” Turning to Bear, he said, “And this one, well, I can’t tell you how often he’s thrown me up against the bulkhead of the ship. And you think for one minute I got a problem with blowin’ this whole stinking mess to the hot place?”
Jayne, seeing that the leader was beginning to falter, rushed up to Murdocke. “Please, man, for the love of God, don’t do it,” he said, pleased with the note of desperation he managed to put into his voice. “I don’t want to die on this rock. Please, Murdocke, please.”
Completely unnerved by the sight of Jayne pleading with Murdocke, the leader of the Alliance unit dropped his weapon to the floor of the cargo bay, and he heard the answering sound of weapons being dropped all around him. “All right,” he said, holding up his hands. “We did what you said. We dropped our weapons.”
Winking at Jayne surreptitiously, Murdocke pushed the larger man aside and marched over to the leader. Pendergast, who was in a state of shock from everything that was happening, stepped forward timidly. “Um, you might want to reconsider anything you are planning to do to these people,” he said quietly. “You can’t just go and do anything you want with Alliance personnel.”
Murdocke laughed. “You really think they are Alliance?” he asked incredulously. “Look at ‘em. Half of ‘em didn’t even bother to shave for the part. Their uniforms don’t fit, their hair’s way too long, and in case you ain’t noticed, there’s no backup on the way from the Alliance garrison back in the settlement.”
Pendergast looked at the men more carefully, his eyes widening in surprise. “Well, then, who are….”
The leader of the group moved restlessly. “We gonna stand here and jaw all day? Ain’t none of your business who we are, you hundan,” he said, spitting at Pendergast dismissively.
Murdocke could tell that the man was regaining his equilibrium. Deciding to put a rapid halt to that, he tapped the man on the shoulder and made a show of dropping the deadman switch, and instantly all the man’s companions dropped to the deck, covering their heads as if they could avert catastrophe with their arms. Marcus, Mal, River, Zoe, Bear, and Pierre quickly drew their weapons, covering the cowering men easily.
Murdocke grinned widely as the men lifted their heads in stunned amazement. Handing Jayne the plasticell container, he said, “Think your Mama’s green pea stew is still warm. Want some?”
Jayne grinned, popping the top off the container and putting it to his lips, licking the green goo off with relish. “Just as good as it was this morning,” he said, though it was hard to make out his words over the sound of Marcus and Mal’s laughter.
Grinning manically, Murdocke looked at the leader of the fake Alliance troop. “Mama always said that revenge is a dish best served cold…with biscuits.” Glancing at Marcus, he added, “Boss, we got any biscuits?”
Marcus laughed, thinking that now and again it was a pure pleasure to have a genuine smart-ass on board. “See what I can do about rustlin’ up some when I’m done here,” he replied. Turning to Mal, he said, “Mind taking Mr. Pendergast here back to the meeting point to settle up for the job? I got a few things to do here.”
Mal nodded. “Be my pleasure,” he said, taking the still shaking Mr. Pendergast by the arm and leading him out of the Hit or Miss.
Once the prisoners had gotten to their feet again, Marcus herded them into one of the small rooms off the cargo bay, holding out the leader for interrogation. Leaving him under the watchful eye of Bear for a moment, Marcus called Pierre aside. “Looks like the third one on the right is about your size,” he said softly.
Pierre looked at him with a pained expression. “S’pose he is, at that,” he said. After a quick talk, Marcus clapped Pierre on the back. “Won’t do it less we have to, but best you be ready just in case. Give me an hour.”
Pierre nodded, and stepped back into the room with the prisoners. Marcus called after him loudly enough for the leader to hear, “I’ll send the doctor on in a few minutes. Get him prepped.”
Pierre said just as loudly, “You sure we’re gonna have to do that again? Gives me the willies when he does that thing with the…”
Marcus cut him off. “Has to be done, if they don’t come clean pretty gorram quick. May as well start with that one.”
Pierre sighed theatrically. “Anything you say, Boss.”
“Damn straight,” Marcus said gruffly, turning to stare into the wide eyes of the leader.
“What’s that horrible sound?” Anya asked, hearing screams coming from the cargo bay.
Jim smiled. “Nothing to be concerned about,” he said.
“Sure sounds like something to worry over,” Anya replied. “Sounds like someone’s hurt real bad.”
“It’s supposed to sound like that,” Jim said, fitting a piece into the puzzle he was working on with Adam. “Captain Hazzard is playing a game with the men who tried to steal our cargo.”
“What kind of game?” Adam asked.
“Sort of like poker,” Jim said.
“Nobody screams like that when you and Daddy and Mr. Jayne play poker,” Adam pointed out.
“No,” Jim said. “Though occasionally I’ve thought about it.”
When Anya looked at him with exasperation, he said, “He’s bluffing. Making one of the prisoners think that something is happening to the others that is bad.”
“Trying to get him to talk,” Anya said.
“Yep,” Jim answered. “Less trouble than beating it out of him.”
Anya nodded sagely, as if she was well familiar with the art of interrogation. “Suppose so,” she admitted after a moment. “But it’s still kinda nerve-racking.”
“I imagine it won’t be much longer,” Jim said, finding another puzzle piece. “Will probably be over and done with by suppertime.”
“I hope so,” Adam said, pleased when the piece he was working with slid in easily. “Don’t wanna have to hear it while we eat.”
Jim nodded, thinking not for the first time that Serenity’s children were receiving a strange kind of education in their travels.
Within half an hour, Mal arrived back at the Hit or Miss with the money that had been specified. Handing it to Zoe for safekeeping until it could be divided fairly, he walked to the cargo bay, where Marcus was talking to the leader of the prisoners.
Mal jumped slightly when a blood-curdling scream came from the room off the cargo bay. The leader paled visibly, but Marcus continued speaking calmly. “Doesn’t sound too good for your men in there,” he said, his voice tinged with sadness. “You could put an end to it easy enough. I just need to know who your boss is. Got a few words I’d like to have with him.”
The leader licked his lips nervously, and Mal saw the fine beads of sweat on his brow. “Seems like the thing to do, son,” he said, adding his weight to the tension in the room. “Looks to me like your boss will be needing to know where the shipment is. If you can’t produce it, I conjure it won’t be your best day ever. Best you be telling this man what he wants to know. Could be he’ll let you go before your boss gets here.”
“Wouldn’t matter,” the man said hoarsely. “She’d hunt me down, kill me dead in the street if I told you who she is.”
Mal raised his eyebrows at the news that their enemy was a woman. That narrowed it down to half the population, he thought wryly.
Marcus leaned closer to the man, intimidating and demanding. “It’s a sure bet I’ll be killing you if you don’t tell me. So, the question you gotta ask yourself is, Do you want to die right here and now, or do you want to take your chances and possibly get away from this woman you’re talking about?”
“You won’t kill me,” the man said, but his voice betrayed his doubt.
Another scream echoed through the cavernous cargo bay, and the man jumped. Marcus smiled. “You sure about that?” he asked softly. “’Cause I’m fairly certain one of your men is gonna talk soon enough, and one man is all I need. Dong ma?”
As the man stared at the floor, his mind obviously battling with his dilemma, Marcus glanced at the chronometer on the wall and grinned. Just in time, he thought.
The door to the small room burst open and Pierre, dressed in the ill-fitting Alliance uniform of one of the prisoners, ran out into the bay and out the door screaming, his mask gone and the bandages nowhere in sight. Bear, holding a lit plasma torch and running behind him, looked apologetically at Marcus. “Sorry, Boss,” he said, waving the torch wildly in the air. “That one got away, but I’ll do better with the next one.”
The leader of the prisoners stared at him with utter horror. “You just…I mean, I can’t believe you could just….do that to Joe,” he said, beginning to shake from head to toe in genuine terror.
Marcus turned to him smoothly. “Believe it,” he said flatly. Glancing over his shoulder at Bear, he said, “May be that you should just work on this one whilst you’re here. Mal and I can hold him down for you.”
Bear nodded, turning the torch up a little for effect. The leader fell to his knees immediately. “No, please…don’t. I’ll tell you what you want to know. Just don’t let him touch me.”
Marcus put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “You tell me what I want to know, and I promise not to let the doctor here give you a facial.”
Nodding eagerly, the man told Marcus the whole story. After naming his deadly employer, he continued, his words running together in his haste to mollify Marcus. “She hired us to retrieve the explosives once you’d gotten them to Shiva safely. Didn’t want to tangle with the Boros Feds if you could handle them for us.”
Marcus stared at him for a long moment, reeling with the revelation of the name of the woman. Mal looked at him with concern, but Marcus held up his hand to forestall any questions. Pulling the man to his feet, Marcus pushed him toward the stairs. “You’re gonna wave your boss, and you’re gonna get her here to me. We got business to discuss. Dong ma?”
The man nodded mutely, and headed up the stairs like a man on his way to the gallows.
Mal walked up the stairs beside Marcus. “Mind tellin’ me why you’re so pale all of a sudden?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Marcus shook his head. “Not just now,” he said. “Would appreciate it if you’d go get Pierre and bring him back inside though. His face needs tending to by now, I expect.”
Mal nodded, and turned back around to get Pierre, leaving Marcus alone with his prisoner.
To be continued
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 6:15 AM
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 6:24 PM
Thursday, December 27, 2007 2:47 PM
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