BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

DESERTGIRL

Snowball - Chapter 3
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

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.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2587    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Set six months after the BDM, with standard pairings: Simon and Kaylee, Mal and Inara angst.

If you haven’t read from the start, I would recommend going back to chapter 1 - http://www.fireflyfans.net/bluesun.aspx?bid=19146

Of course - Its Joss’s world and his characters, but I sure enjoy playing with them.

Thanks to Mal4prez for the wonderful beta type advice and thanks to my wonderful husband for catching more typo’s than there are planets in the verse.

Thanks to all the folks who took the time to leave me such wonderful comments. They make me want to write even more…..Does that make me a comment slut?

********

Chapter 3

Kaylee quickly shut the airlock door. So much for opening the doors to let in some fresh air, she thought. It was as cold as deep space out there. She shivered at the thought of all that cold air filling up Serenity. They’d have to turn on the engine just to heat up the ship; what a waste of fuel.

Just the same, she stared out the airlock’s one tiny diamond shaped window. Outside, the Shelton Docks were covered with a blanket of new fallen snow making everything look clean and fresh. However, even Kaylee knew it would not remain that way for long. She counted at least six factory sized smokestacks in the general vicinity. Most of the houses and buildings seemed to have wood burning stoves as well. It would not be long before all this snow was covered with a thin layer of black soot.

It amazed Kaylee that the cold did not stop the hustle and bustle of commerce in the area. Back home, when the weather got harsh, everyone hunkered down inside their warm houses unless they absolutely had to go somewhere. On this planet though, people were everywhere, all of them dressed in thick boots and puffy down coats. Even here, near the planet’s pole, where the sun gave only a dim hint of light during the middle of the day, people went about outside conducting their business. Remembering the map she had seen, it occurred to her that most of the green zones were in the harsher Polar Regions. The fancy resorts River had pointed out were closer to the planet’s equator. Perhaps the climate there was a bit more temperate.

She spotted one man in a fur hat. It looked like a big fur square upon his head. But most of the people wore only plain woolen caps. Jayne was going to fit in really well here in that ridiculous orange hat his mother made for him all those months ago.

Mostly it seemed that on this world people walked to get places, but after a few minutes a strange looking vehicle drove by on the snow covered streets. It had to be one of the funniest looking vehicles Kaylee had ever seen. The passenger compartment looked like a big metal box with windows. Instead of wheels, it rolled on tracks, like the bulldozers the emergency aide center had brought to her home town after the tornado had destroyed the spaceport when she was eight years old. The vehicle moved slowly but steadily down the snow packed street and out of sight, leaving Kaylee wondering what type of engine it used. How did they keep the thing from seizing up in the cold? She was certain that the fuel lines in her hover mule would freeze in temperatures like these.

Her thoughts drifting to potential engine configurations that would work in so harsh a climate, she didn’t notice a second large snow vehicle, this one blue, pulling up in front of Serenity until it stopped. Six men emerged from the vehicle, all wearing matching blue coveralls with a mountain and sunshine logo on the left breast. Their black fur hats looked exceedingly warm and Kaylee felt just a touch of jealousy at the thought of them. With hats like those and warm coveralls these men looked to be able to work outside comfortably, even in the coldest weather.

She leaned over to her right, keeping her eye on the approaching men as long as possible, and pressed the com button. These men were certainly not coming to Serenity to speak with her.

“Captain,” she said into the mic. “We got a posse of men about to knock on the door.” *

The captain and Zoë both emerged from the common room before Kaylee had returned to the window to watch the men collect themselves; they reached the airlock door at the same time as the first of the men in blue. Mal opened the door before they even had a chance to knock.

“Can I help you?” Mal asked, eyeing the newcomers up and down. Kaylee suspected he was looking for weapons hidden beneath those coveralls but he was not being obvious about it. It was just something the captain would do. He and Zoë always figured people were out to do them harm, until they proved that they weren’t. But to Kaylee’s eyes none of these men looked ready to harm them, and there were certainly no weapons in sight.

A tall man with curly blond hair sticking out from under his hat stepped forward, reaching out his hand in greeting. Mal chose not to take this man’s hand and simply stood, arms folded, waiting for a reply, causing a wave of uncomfortableness to spread through all those assembled.

“Name’s Hayes,” the leader said, returning his hand to his side. “Mr. Espinosa sent us to collect some cargo. I was told to inspect it then report back to authorize payment. If you would just show me the shipment, I can get started.”

He looked expectantly at Mal, almost as if he was waiting for the captain to disagree about the details of the plan. But Mal continued to assess the strangers, standing with his arms folded a look of distrust on his face.

“This is Serenity? Is it not?” Haynes asked looking around at each of the crew members. “May we come in and get started? It’s extremely cold out here.”

Kaylee just could not help herself. She took a step forward and gestured for the men to come into the cargo hold, saying, “Of course it is. Of course you can.” She hoped that the captain was not going to yell at her for inviting strangers into the ship, but she was too starting to get chilled.

As the men filed past Kaylee, Mal nodded at her, letting her know that she had acted appropriately. Zoë, however, seemed to melt into the wall; ever watchful in case the situation went sour. No one would notice Zoë if she didn’t want them to.

As the last of the workmen stepped inside the ship, Mal closed the door, casually turning the latch all the way towards the floor. The men in blue did not notice the significance of this but Kaylee knew what it meant. They were all effectively locked in. The door would not open until an access code was entered from the bridge. Mal was really uncomfortable about this situation, and Kaylee couldn’t help wondering what about this legal run was bothering him.

“Name’s Malcolm Reynolds,” the captain said, finally introducing himself to Haynes. “This here’s Serenity, my ship. Cargo’s over there.” He pointed at the crates and crates of rolled up material. “You do what you need to for your inspection. I assure you that none of the crates have been opened since we picked ‘em up on Beaumonde.”

Hayes pulled a small black scanning device out of his left pocket; it looked a lot like the one River had created for cataloging supplies. Everyone, crew and workmen alike, stepped aside and watched as he opened each crate and scanned the ID strip on each roll it contained.

“Haynes don’t trust no one these days.” Kaylee heard the voice coming over her right shoulder as Haynes opened the fourth crate. She turned toward it and found a young man. His squarish face had darker skin than hers, but certainly not as dark as Zoë’s. In places, his straight black hair peaked out from under his hat and hung down into his eyes, although he appeared not to be bothered by it.

“Just lately?” she asked, smiling at the new face.

“Ya,” the workman nodded at his superior. “He used to be real lax, but he got burned about six months back. He let through a shipment that had been skimmed. Mr. Espinoza made him pay for every missing piece. We all helped, because he’s always stood up for us, and it really wasn’t his fault. But still, he’s been surly ever since. He’s still the best foreman of the lot though. He makes sure we get our share and all.

“Name’s Striker,” he held out his hand to shake Kaylee’s.

“Kaylee, ship’s mechanic,” she replied, eagerly accepting his hand.

“No kidding, you can’t be much older than me. I bet it’s shiny flying from place to place all the time, and to get to work on the engines all day long. Can you tell I’m just a touch jealous? I’m the only one on our crew that can keep the cat goin’.” He gestured toward the door and their snow vehicle waiting outside.

“Hayes used to pay me, for stayin’ late and fiddling and all, but I don’t take it any more, not since the skimming incident,” Striker added.

Time seemed to stand still around them as Kaylee and the young man talked engines. Striker explained how the snow cats managed to run in such extreme temperatures, and all the special modifications he had made that kept it running in top condition. He had even managed to boost the fuel efficiency, telling her secretly that they had been using their savings to help Haynes with the debt. When Striker’s eyes fell upon the hover mule suspended from the ceiling, he looked as if he would burst from excitement. Kaylee explained the antigrav drives that made the vehicle float. The discussion that followed about whether the machinery would work on the snow packed streets and cold temperatures on Hawthorne was extremely mechanical and lively.

Kaylee had just invited her fellow mechanic upstairs to see the engine room. They were so engrossed in their conversation about ion modified engines that Kaylee didn’t even hear her name being called until the speaker was directly behind her. As she turned Simon was climbing the stairs towards her at a fast pace.

“Kaylee? What are doing with this tyen shuh duh?” Simon asked; his voice bespoke his shock and jealousy.

“Nothin’ hun, we were just compairin’ engines.” Seeing the hurt look on his face, she realized what her statement sounded like, especially to Simon who knew all too well her affinity for engines and inappropriate sex. She felt her cheeks warm in a blush. Aghast at how she had obviously hurt him; her hands flew to her face, trying to cover up her reddening cheeks, which made the situation worse.

“No really, Simon, you ain’t got it right.” Kaylee spoke right past the skeptical look Simon gave her. “Striker here is the mechanic for the work crew downstairs, we was talkin’ about the fuel lines on his snow cat, and the antigrav boots on the mule, and well, he wanted to see how a double ion injection coil fits into a compression shaft. So I offered to show him.”

Simon’s look said, ‘sure he did,’ so Kaylee kept on talking. She had to convince him, she had not been intending what he thought she was intending. She wouldn’t do that with anyone besides him ever again, at least that was her plan.

“See, Striker here,” Kaylee gestured to the young man on her left, who was looking increasingly uncomfortable as he began to understand the nature of this particular awkwardness. “Striker was just telling me how snow cats back run their exhaust around the fuel lines to keep them from freezing, and I explained…”

“It doesn’t matter what you were planning on showing him,” Simon declared, though it was obvious that it did matter very much, “Captain says the funds for the cargo have come through, we’re to put on all our snow gear and assist with moving the transfer. He wants these wangbadan de biaozi off his boat.” As Simon finished his comment he directed his gaze at Striker, who turned and fled back to the cargo bay, taking the stairs two at a time.

Simon followed him down the stairs, walking now as if he had just beat off a rabid dog with a sick.

“Simon wait!” Kaylee pleaded, but he did not even turn around.

“Not now,” came his pert reply, “I have to find a balaclava for River. You never know where there could be a camera on a core world.”

She stood there watching him walk down the stairs. It took all her willpower not to run after him, but she understood this was not the time. She’d make it up to him later; goodness knows he had put his foot in his mouth plenty of times. It was simply her turn.

*****

It took a long time for her to track down all her cold weather gear. She didn’t use her goose down jacket all that often; it was stuffed in one of the crates that supported her bed. The jacket had once been her brother Scott’s. It had arrived at their mail drop in a big box from her mom about eight months after Kaylee had left home, along with the letter telling her about Scott’s death. The strange illness that took him had come on suddenly, and he had passed before she had even heard he was sick. According to her mom’s letter, he had made a list of his things she was to send to Kaylee, things that he thought she might someday need, flying around in the big wide ‘verse.”

Kaylee took a deep whiff of the jacket. It still smelled like Scott, sort of, if she used her imagination.

She found her wool hat along with one glove crammed into the back of a drawer under the pair of blue coveralls that she never wore because they were just a bit too big. After what seemed like quite a while searching for the other glove, she gave up, figuring she’d be ok, wearing her other winter gear.

Leaving her bunk a disaster, with clothes thrown anywhere and everywhere, she climbed her ladder and ran towards the cargo bay. She arrived just in time to see the last of the crates being carried out by two of the workman.

Mal was standing in the doorway, talking into a small hand held transmitter. He held the thing about a foot from his face like it was transmitting vid. Kaylee suppressed the urge to run up and examine this shiny new piece of technology. She could tell the captain was agitated from across the room by the way he stood, his knees locked, his brow furrowed, his voice raised. She wondered if the person on the other end of the discussion could tell the same thing. Kaylee had never before seen the transmitter like the one Mal was talking into; judging from the way Haynes stood watching him, she gathered it belonged to the crew boss. Striker was nowhere to be found.

“Your tellen’ me we have to just sit here, idle, while you get it together to gather your shipment?” Mal said into the transmitter. “You realize that while were just sittin’, not earnin’ credits doin’ a transport, I still got a crew to feed. We’ll have to keep the engines runnin’ to keep the crew from freezing in their beds on this frozen piece of diyu you call a world. I barely got enough fuel to make it to Beaumonde as it is. By the time I’m done with this job, I’d of made more money hiring out my gun.”

Mal tossed the transmitter to Haynes, who looked like he was actually sorry the captain had been put into such a predicament, but he didn’t say so. Kaylee had seen that look in underlings before – Haynes was struggling not to bad mouth a boss he clearly hated. Instead he mumbled something about seeing Mal in a few days and quickly left the ship.

Mal closed and locked the door behind him, then turned and looked at his crew, who were assembled around the cargo bay dressed in their warmest clothes. There was an awkward pause as the crew looked back at their captain, waiting to see how he was going to handle this new turn of events.

The silence was broken when River, who still dressed in a Balaclava and long red jacket, started dancing around the room singing, “We’re having a holiday! We’re having a holiday!”

She grabbed Jayne’s hands, trying to get him to join her dance, but he did not budge. She spent just a moment before abandoning the effort in favor of her brother.

“Humph,” was the only way Kaylee could describe the sound Mal made as he crossed the room. Just as he reached the door, he stopped and turned, saying, “Y’all best settle in, looks like were stayin’ put for a few days,” then left the room.

Kaylee worked her way over to Inara, who was leaning gracefully against a large gray barrel, and looking stunning in her lavender snowsuit and matching fur hat. She was careful to avoid River, who was now twirling around the cargo bay like a whirling dervish.

“What’s goin’ on?” Kaylee asked in a low whisper, trying not to call attention to the fact that she had just arrived.

“Mal was just informed that the return cargo will not arrive for two days,” Inara informed her.

“When I got here, he looked ready to murder that guy on the vid.” Not that Kaylee thought he would actually ever kill anyone who wasn’t tryin’ to kill him.

“Apparently, a wait creates complications.”

Their conversation was interrupted by River, who suddenly stopped dancing and announced as loud as she could without screaming that it was time for the holiday feast. She grabbed hold of her brother and practically pushed him up the stairs towards the dining room. The rest of crew, lacking anything better to do, followed.

***********

Later that evening, Kaylee lay on the floor in the engine room, replacing the primary exhaust buffer. She would rather have been with Simon, but she was not ready to search him out to apologize again for something she hadn’t done. He’d calm down eventually.

The feast had been wonderful, even with the awkwardness between her and Simon. River had gone all out. There were fresh made biscuits and a vegetable stew with real vegetables in it. After the crew ate, she and Inara had brought out the cookies. River had insisted on singing happy birthday to Mal. When he protested that it was not his birthday, that his birthday had been last month, River had not been detoured, saying, “The actual anniversary of one’s birth can only be relied upon under the guise of a specific solar system, a change in system results in a change of date. Besides, we were out of flour last month, it had to be postponed.” Her laughter was contagious and everyone enjoyed the cookies, even though they were pink.

The captain had been right; after their feast they had been forced to turn the engine back on in order to keep the ship’s temperatures remotely comfortable. Serenity did not like sitting idle. She was made to fly through the sky, not sit on the ground. Kaylee was quite certain that this little adventure in sitting would not be a holiday for her. She lifted her blue handled wrench above her and tightened the last of the jack’s bolts holding the new piece in place. Kaylee was pushing herself out from under the engine when she heard River’s voice coming over the com.

“Kaylee you have a wave, come up to the bridge.”

Kaylee could not figure out who would be waving her, except maybe her family. As she walked towards the bridge, hundreds of possible scenarios ran trough her mind. Mama was sick, Daddy was in an accident, her brother Spence fell off his horse again, something had gone wrong with her sister Jeanie’s pregnancy. But nothing prepared her for the person she saw on the screen when she arrived at the bridge.

Striker’s coffee colored skin was accentuated by his jet black hair, now visible because of the absence of a hat. It was obvious that he was now somewhere inside, as he was no longer dressed for cold weather.

“Kaylee – thank goodness! You don’t know how hard it was to track down the code to wave you. I almost warmed up the cat and drove out there.”

Kaylee felt her nerves rumble. Why would he need to track her down? “Striker,” she started hesitantly, trying to find the right words to be polite as she could, “I didn’t mean to give you the wrong impression.”

River interrupted her with a jab to her rib. She stopped talking and looked at the pilot, sitting just out of view of the screen.

“Not seeking you, needs to tell you, it’s important,” River spoke urgently, almost agitatedly.

“Kaylee,” Striker’s voice called her attention back to the screen. “Something’s happened. Mr. Espinoza was found dead on the floor of his office. He was shot in the head. The authorities are questioning everyone who works for him. Hayes was interrogated for several hours; he said they kept asking him about your captain. We think they were taping the vid call and assume your captain was threatening him. Hayes said to tell you that he can still get your cargo to you day after tomorrow, but you’d best disappear between now and then.”

Kaylee looked at River, who glanced at the fuel cell gages and shook her head.

“Striker, what do you mean disappear? You suggesting we hop planets for a while?”

“That’s exactly what I’m suggesting, if you stay here, this is going to get pinned on your captain, whether he had anything to do with it or not.”

COMMENTS

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 9:59 AM

DESERTGIRL


With the holidays and all, I blew it and did not stick to my self imposed posting schedule. So here's chapter three, a bit late but hopefully worth the wait. Now that there are no gifts to wrap and big formal type dinners to prepare, I plan to work very hard at getting back to posting every three days.

I hope everyone had a very merry holiday, full of good cheer and happy times.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 10:53 AM

KIMBER


Just wanted to say I'm really enjoying this story - and it was worth the wait =) Cheers!!

Keep flying ;)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 11:30 AM

MAL4PREZ


I really enjoy all the details you put in! Kaylee's engine talk, the mentions of her family, Striker and Hayes' personalities and real life complications. It has that Firefly texture of real life... only on a space ship LOL!

And now we have the inevitable complication for poor Mal to deal with. Wee! Fun fic.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 2:18 PM

LEIASKY


This was a great chapter! I love the little details you put in. And the snow 'cats'! The technical bits were just excellent!

Interesting little twist that you have Simon upset about Kaylee just doing her thing. He'll have to trust her, and she'll have to trust him, if their relationship is going to work. Hope you have them talk about it at some point and not just avoid each other! Have River throw some snowballs at them, cool them down a bit . . . LOL!

I've been wondering how you were going to keep Serenity on the planet for a few days, this new little wrench gumming up the plans is going to work really well!

So - you were late in posting, does that mean we get a new chapter earlier than 3 days from now? :)

Friday, December 28, 2007 6:04 PM

KATESFRIEND


Lots of good descriptions of the goings on - getting more interesting all the time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 8:29 AM

LADYSAGE


This is my favorite part of any Firefly/Serenity story, where the crew gets put between the rock and the hard place and it's anyone's guess how they might react! I love this stuff, and you're writing it well so far.

Thanks for sharing!
:-)


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