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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Elizabeth is still in command of the cruiser, but her sanity is slowly unraveling. Emma is in critical condition, and Jason and the others seem powerless to do anything as the fate of an entire planet is at stake.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 519 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
Jason sat for along wile just holding the hand of his unconscious sister. She had always been a strong woman, vain and fickle at times, but never weak. To see her like this, slowly slipping away was heart breaking.
At some point soon after Elizabeth left, another Academy student arrived briefly to collect Lockhart and take him away. Weather it was to be killed or just locked up, Jason was not sure, nor did he overly care. Looking around, Jason realized he had been left alone with his sister. As aesthetically pleasing as the medical ward was, it was not the place he wanted his sister to leave the ‘Verse. Especially as there was still a dead body on the floor near by. Picking up her limp form, he headed back to his ship.
It was Sarah who was the first to see Jason return, waiting, as she was for him in the cargo bay of the Shire. When she saw him carrying the limp form of Emma, she quickly jumped up in alarm and rushed to his side.
“Oh my God, Jason, what happened?” asked Sarah with concern. Jason just looked at her and said nothing. When he finally got to the common area of his ship, he set Emma down on the old couch that sat against the bulkhead between the hatches to Linda’s and Rick’s bunks. Setting a pillow behind her head, he then pulled a worn quilt over her body. Finally he turned to his crew, which had by now all gathered.
“Something happened," said Jason. "I don’t know what exactly, as she insisted on seeing her friend alone. They said she was poisoned, with Paxilon. I don’t know by whom, or by what means, or for what reason,” explained Jason. Although he did not show any tears, his voice was slow and unusually heavy, betraying his emotions. “All I do know, is apparently it’s fatal.”
“Lao-tyen, bo,” said Sarah under her breath as she reflexively put a hand to her mouth.
“Bloody hell,” said Rick, unable to believe it either.
While Linda’s face remained emotionless, she pulled her son tighter against her side. She allowed Jason a moment to collect himself before addressing the cold realities of their situation. “Sir, if we are leaving, we should let Sergeant Wilkins, or whoever is the ranking officer is on the ship know our intentions."
“Fine,” said Jason. “Give her and her men a few hours to finish their mop up and then we’ll contact her and let her know we’re leaving.”
Lockhart was thrust unceremoniously back into the conference room where the rest of the bridge crew and several others from his crew had been detained. There were also several Browncoats in the room, and from the looks on their faces, they were not there of their own volition either. The two groups of soldiers had congregated at opposite ends of the conference room. As soon as the door closed once again, several of his people turned to him for news of what was going on. Several of the Browncoats also perked up at the mention of news.
“What happened sir?” asked Corporal Cater, an aide that had been captured in the hallway outside the bridge.
“Doesn’t look good,” replied Lockhart. “The Libby girl doesn’t look likely to make it. The Cho girl is insane and getting more-so by the minute, and that fellow who looks to be in charge of the few Browncoats still free won't listen to a word I say.”
“So are they going to kill us?” asked one of his people.
“Serves you right if they do,” said one of the Browncoats from the other side of the room. “The good book says thou shall reap what you sow. Seems you’ve sown a hell of a lot of nastiness into those readers what you experimented on.”
Lockhart looked back at the man. “Does your book have anything to say about the destruction of an entire planet with over two billion lives. Think about that when you lay down to sleep tomorrow after Osirus is a barren rock.”
Christine, the Browncoat Sergeant laughed. “See’in as your mouth seems ta like running so much, Purplebelly, minding explaining exactly how one ship can destroy a planet.”
“This ship is armed with wide area effect neutron warheads.”
“Oh, juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan,” said the other Browncoat. “That’s what you bastards used ta wipe out Shadow. I thought those were banned after the Unification War.” The man was visible bitter as he spoke the name of his home planet. “One of the Parliament’s promises after the war was no ship would ever again be equipped with them. Oh well, more Alliance lies I suppose.”
“Actually,” said Lockhart, “this ship was the one that destroyed Shadow.”
There was a long silence, as several of the Browncoats got up from where they were sitting and approached Lockhart. Various looks of disbelief were on their faces. Tempers had already been running high, and it had been the wrong piece of information for the Commander to divulge.
“You son of a…. You’re telling me you are the very Tyen-sah duh UH-muo what destroyed my home planet,” said one. He slugged Lockhart so hard that the man reeled back and would have been knocked to the ground, had the wall not been behind him. “I thought I would never see the day… You killed my entire family.” The Browncoat followed up with a sucker punched him in the stomach and wound up for another roundhouse punch.
“Travis, stand down!” ordered Christine. “Ain’t a time for personal revenge. Sides, ‘at was near ten years ago. Doubt any the same crew is left.”
Lockhart wheezed as he was helped to his feet by two of his own crew. The two groups of soldiers warily retreated to their own sides of the conference room before further violence broke out.
Jason was on the bridge trying to contact Christine again. As had been the case an hour ago, and the hour previous, he was unable to raise her on the radio. Even the girl Elizabeth seemed to have disappeared. Whenever he tried contacting the bridge to the cruiser, he only got through to one of the Academy students who said she was busy assisting the Browncoats subdue the remaining Alliance crew members there were still loose. The cruiser however, was under full power and appeared to be heading into the Core rather than out to the Rim as was the plan. So far, Jason had heard no explanation of the change of plan. Something was definitely not right.
With nothing else to do, he got up and went back into the common area to check on Emma. He found Sarah sitting of his unconscious sister, trying to spoon a light broth into her mouth. Sarah looked up at him with compassion in her eyes.
“How is she,” Jason asked.
“Not worse,” replied Sarah. “Not better either. No real change at all.”
Jason sighed and sat down on the edge of the couch. Opening his mind he reached out to her, tried to feel her. It was something he could do only with his sister, as the genes that had made her a full telepath were at best stunted in him. There was nothing, as if a thick fog had completely enveloped her mind. He brushed the dark hair away from her cheek with the back of his hand. Then, there was a faint spark just as his hand touched her cheek. Cocking his head to one side, he focused more intently on Emma.
“What is it,” asked Sarah.
“Dunno,” said Jason. “I felt, something.”
“Em?” Jason whispered. There was a long silence and he whispered her name again. This time there was the very slightest moan, then silence. He tried again to reach her several times, both verbally, and mentally, but nothing further happened.
Jason hurried back to the cockpit and contacted the bridge of the cruiser. “I need to speak with Elizabeth.”
“I'm sorry,” said the girl named Lindsey. “She’s not available.”
“Make her available,” demanded Jason. “I think Emma might be getting better. Like some part of her is trying to break through and come back. I need someone who is a full reader though to try and reach her.”
Lindsey’s eyes widened in surprise at the news. “Emma’s recovering!” The relief was evident on the girl’s face. “Hold on.” The screen went blank.
Several minutes later Elizabeth arrived. As Jason watched her go over to his sister, there was something different about the young woman. The look in her eyes had changed, become even darker than before, almost maniac if he were to name it. “Emma,” said Elizabeth, taking the unconscious woman’s hand. For a long while, she sat like that.
“Can you feel it?” asked Jason.
Elizabeth looked up at him. Any hint of insanity had disappeared from her expression. “Yes," said Elizabeth, "but she is weak. It will take time, but she may yet come back to us.”
“Thank God,” said Jason. “I need to ask you something else. Why are we heading into the Core? We need to deliver this ship to the Independents. With it, they may be able to hold New Shadow.”
The maniac glint came back to Elizabeth’s eyes. “A defensive war is a loosing war, Jason. They should have learned that in the first war.”
“What are you planning,” asked Jason. “I am somewhat responsible for this mission. I do not want it to go south.”
“And your mission ended in success when we took the bridge. I am now in control of this ship.” replied Elizabeth. “Don't worry, it’s just a little show of force. Explode a few harmless bombs in the high atmosphere to scare the public and let them know they are not as safe as their lying government would have them believe. Besides, a few of my fellow students would like to return to their homes on Osirus. As soon as we do that, I’ll turn this ship over to your allies and be gone. I myself an eager to return home.”
As Jason looked into her eyes, he did not know exactly how, but he knew she was lying to him. She and her intentions were anything but harmless. Emma had warned him that she was up to something terrible, but not had tome to reveal what.
“Jason,” the name was almost whispered.
Jason turned to his sister. “Emma?”
“Look to her Jason, she needs you most right now,” said Elizabeth. “I should go. Take care of her for me.” Before Jason could protest, she was gone.
It was a late night as Jason stayed up with his sister trying to get her to eat or drink as she drifted in and out of semi-consciousness. During this entire time she was never able to say more than a few barely coherent words. At some point he fell asleep next to her and someone put another blanket over him. He woke with a start when he felt someone touching him. It took him a moment to recognize his surroundings. Finally, he found himself looking into his sister’s gray eyes. “You save me, brought me back,” said Emma.
“Hey, what are brothers for,” said Jason.
“Always thought it was for pulling hair and acting like a boob,” Emma smiled.
“That too,” conceded Jason.
“We need to talk,” said Emma, now more serious. She tried to sit up, but for some reason the effort seemed so futile. So much of her still wanted to just lay down and never move again. Jason helped her to sit up.
“Elizabeth,” said Jason.
“They gave her the Paxilon. She’s going insane. Slowly turning into something like a Reaver, but different. Worse, I think. She tried to do the same to me.”
“But,” Jason was stunned by the revelation.
“She lied to you,” said Emma, reading his thoughts. “As much as it pains me, Lockhart was telling the truth. She has to be stopped. If she isn’t she’ll spark another full-scale war. And I don’t mean like the localized dispute over Shadow right now.” Emma explained what Elizabeth was planning.
Jason wasted no time in calling his small crew together. Linda and Rick were already awake and on watch in the bridge. Matt climbed out of the bunk next and Sarah came up a few minutes later looking every bit like she was still half asleep. Everyone was relieved when they saw Emma awake and coherent. Sarah even gave her a hug that was almost as big as the one she received from Rick.
Jason then explained the situation. Their expression quickly changed from relief over Emma's recover to varying degrees of surprise and trepidation. Even Linda, who had the most reason to hate the Alliance, could not conscience the thought of destroying an entire Core planet.
“Here’s the plan,” said Jason. “We have to take Elizabeth out. I’d prefer not to kill her, but if it comes to it, then that’s they way it is. We know the anti-Paxilon drug works, if slowly thanks to Emma’s recovery. Trouble is, Elizabeth seems to be damn near invincible in close combat so long’s she’s armed.”
“Just take her out,” said Linda. “We can’t risk failing. Gorramit, I can’t believe I’m about to save a gorram Core world.”
“No,” said Emma. “Its not her fault. She’s not a rabid animal.”
“Hate ta say it Em,” said Rick. “But sounds like that’s exactly what she is, and right now, she has a hell of a lot of power in her hands.”
“Which leads to another problem," said Jason. "Remember that there are still over a thousand Alliance military personnel on this ship, even if they are all locked away for the time being. Apparently only two Independent platoons got onto the ship. Because of this, the Nietzsche is essentially under the control of two hundred or so mentally unstable Academy students, and Elizabeth seems to be the only thing holding them together as a cohesive unit. If we just take Elizabeth out, things could fall apart fast."
I’ll try to get close to her,” continued Jason. “I grew up with a reader for a sister, I can hide my intentions. Rick, Linda, I want the two of your armed and ready as backup. If I fail, take her out. Sarah and Matt, you two keep this ship ready to fly at a moments notice.”
“And me?” asked Emma. “I assume I’ll be going with you.”
“Emma, from the look of it I’m afraid you’re not in a shape to be going anywhere.”
“Jason, if she gets the slightest hint what you are up to, she will kill you. I am the only person, even among the other students, that can fight at her level. Besides, the other students will follow me should anything happen to her.”
“Get up,” said Jason.
Emma sat forward and began to rise to her feet. Then, abruptly her legs folded and she fell back to the couch. She made an effort to get up again but Jason stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. “You’re not going.”
"I just need a little while longer for the drug to work through my system," protested Emma.
"I'm Captain," said Jason. "I said no."
Jason walked down a corridor of the ship, looking for Elizabeth. Rick and Linda followed behind him, but kept well back. Their orders were to disappear should they find Elizabeth. They had started in the section of the ship that had been dedicated to the Academy, and Linda had used her medical knowledge to identify the Paxilon antigen. It was now in a hypospray in his pocket. As they walked the corridors, the ship seemed eerily deserted. It was strange to think that over a thousand people were still aboard, locked away in cabins, barracks, and other common areas.
Jason suddenly paused. They were approaching a mess hall, but unlike all the other doors they had passed, this one was open. Jason turned to his two crewmates, gesturing in the direction of the open door. The last thing they needed was a bunch of Alliance soldiers running around making a complicated situation even worse. When they carefully peered around the corner however, what they saw was nowhere near what they expected. Over fifty people lay dead, all apparently from the brutal work of a bladed weapon.
“Mother of Jesus,” said Rick. “That girl do all this?”
“According to Emma, there’s at least two more that were given the Paxilon. Maybe they double teamed this lot.”
“This isn’t the work of a person,” said Linda. “No way a person would do something like this. It ain’t human.”
“Come on,” said Jason. “Lets get to the bridge.”
On their way to the bridge they found several other open doors, each revealing a similar grizzly sight. Jason ordered Rick and Linda to stay back, while he entered alone. On the bridge he found Lindsey and one other Academy student running the ship. “Where’s Elizabeth,” asked Jason.
“Busy,” replied Lindsey without looking at him. Jason could feel her attempting to probe his mind. He very carefully steered her telepathic intrusion to some benign concern regarding Emma.
“Looking for me,” said Elizabeth, stepping onto the bridge.
“Yes,” said Jason, slowly approaching her. “Emma wanted to see you. She’s doing better.”
“Of course,” replied Elizabeth. Jason forced himself to remain calm and blanked his mind as she approached him. He again felt the familiar prickle of his mind being invaded. So as not to appear suspicious, he allowed himself a slightly lascivious though as he watched her.
Elizabeth smiled at him. "Why Jason, I am flattered," she said reading the thoughts on the surface of his mind. As Jason turned to leave the bridge, he maneuvered so that she was walking right next to him. His hand closed around the hypo in his pocket.
The door hissed open and they walked out. Just as he was pulling the hypo from his pocket, she suddenly turned on him, knocking the device from his hand and drawing one of her swords. On instinct, Jason pulled his pistol and the sound of metal meeting metal rang in the air of the corridor as he blocked her blade with its barrel.
"You are exceptionally adept at hiding your true intentions," remarked Elizabeth as they faced off. "I'm impressed."
"Apparently not good enough," replied Jason.
"Oh, you're fine. It's your crew waiting around the next corner that tipped me off. You should have left them back at your ship." As if on cue, Rick and Linda stepped around the corner, their cover now blown. Jason leveled his gun to fire, but Elizabeth's bade flashed, and he was forced to once again block it with his weapon and the shot went wild.
Rick and Linda both drew their weapons but another voice behind them ordered, "Stop." They turned to see the girl Lindsey, holding an automatic rifle on them. She had circled around from one of the other entrances to the bridge and cornered them from behind. They carefully put their weapons on the deck.
"Put down your gun and as a curtsey to Emma, I won't kill you," said Elizabeth to Jason.
"But you will kill two billion people on Osirus," replied Jason.
"They deserve it," stated Elizabeth flatly.
"Maybe so, but not on my watch," said Jason, grabbing her wrist and attempting to restrain her. Elizabeth simply executed a jujitsu takedown and threw him to the floor.
"Not smart," said Elizabeth, drawing back her blade to strike.
"I’d appreciate you not picking on my brother," said Emma who had suddenly appeared at the end of the corridor. She was armed with her naginata and her short sword.
"I told you to stay put," said Jason.
"I’m not your mei mei," replied Emma. "I'm older by two years."
"Emma," said Elizabeth coldly as she addressed her long time friend turned opponent.
"Elizabeth," said Emma equally coolly as they squared off. There was no need for further discussion as Elizabeth drew her second sword.
The first attack was initiated by Elizabeth. With lightning speed, her swords flashed. Emma blocked the first sword with the blade of her naginata, the second with it's base. Elizabeth whirled around, bringing her first sword in for another attack inside the effective radius of the naginata. This forced Emma to take one hand off the long weapon to draw her short sword to block the blow. With one hand off her primary weapon, Emma was at a disadvantage and Elizabeth pressed her offense, forcing Emma to back away down the corridor.
"Bad choice," declared Elizabeth. "In all the times we’ve sparred, you've never defeated me once."
"I've never needed to," replied Emma, as she suddenly kicked Elizabeth in the chest. The other woman was knocked backward onto the floor, giving Emma time to recover her form.
Elizabeth rolled and recovered herself. Then, holding the sword in her left hand parallel to her forearm she charged, forcing Emma to block the powerful blow. Elizabeth followed up by swinging her right hand sword upward in a low arc from the floor that drew sparks as the blade slashed along the metal decking.
Emma twisted the blade of her naginata downward just in time to block the second blade before it snuck inside her defensive radius. For a second both sword were blocked against the shaft of the naginata. With a surge of adrenaline, Emma pushed the other woman back causing Elizabeth to stumbled and almost fall. Emma took the opportunity to seize the offensive, and attacked with the blunt end of her weapon and succeeding in knocking Elizabeth on the side of the head.
Elizabeth shook her head to clear the stars from her eyes. Undaunted, she attacked again. With her left hand sword she attacked with a powerful frontal assault that was almost immediately followed with a more subtle attack to the side with her other sword. Using this deadly combination, Elizabeth once again managed to get inside the nagitana's effective radius forcing Emma to rely on her shorts sword for defense, thereby handicapping her use of the longer weapon. The tactic almost worked, and she managed to slice a deep gash into Emma's cheek before being repelled.
Jason, Rick and Linda watched the fight in fascination. Lindsey had since lowered her won weapon, also engrossed in the fight between her two senior students. It was clear that the two were evenly matched and that both had almost impenetrable defensive positions. More than once, Rick and Jason tried to take aim at Elizabeth with their weapons but the fight was so intense that they could not get a clear shot that did not endanger Emma.
The naginata was the heaviest of the weapons, and though Emma was slightly taller and more muscular, she began to tire after several more exchanges. It was apparent that she would loose if the battle went on much longer. It was time to take a risk, or face certain defeat. As she blocked the next combination attack from Elizabeth, Emma released her right hand from the naginata and pulled her short sword. Elizabeth was caught off guard as Emma could easily have blocked the follow-up without handicapping herself. It was when she saw that Emma had no intention to block her second blade that she knew she was defeated. Just as Elizabeth's second sword bit viscously into Emma's shoulder, Emma's wakashi impaled Elizabeth in the stomach.
The two women backed away from each other, both critically wounded. Emma dropped the short sword and clasped her hand to the blood that began pouring from the slash in her shoulder while Elizabeth fell to her knees. She knew that she had not hit her heart, but she clearly had a punctured lung. Elizabeth coughed and blood splattered across the floor.
Looking at her friend, Elizabeth smiled. "A good battle," she said horsly before carefully placing her two katanas on the ground at Emma’s feet. "Perhaps even a good death."
Elizabeth turned to Jason. "Be on your guard. You have not yet won yet." Looking one last time into Emma’s eyes, Elizabeth collapsed.
Sarah was seated in the copilot's set in the cockpit with Matt next to her as she checked a few last parameters. She would have preferred to do it directly in the engine room, but she did not feel comfortable leaving Matt alone in the cockpit.
"You reckon it was alright ta let Emma go off like that," asked Matt.
"Not really," Sarah signed. "But did you wanna try and stop her, what with that big pig sticker a hers?"
Matt shuddered. "Na, I expect she'll be fine. Cap'n pretty good in a pinch and from what Rick says, Emma's the same."
"I hope so," said Sarah. She was more worried about Jason facing Elizabeth alone, and was secretly glad Emma would be with him.
They were interrupted by a voice behind them. "Well, what have we here? A boy and a girl all alone and unchaperoned."
Sarah and Matt both spun around to see a young man in an Academy jumpsuit holding a pistol on them. "Get up," he ordered. They had not choice but to comply.
Jason left Linda to tend to Emma and Elizabeth. The latter was, surprisingly, still alive. Jason gave the unconscious woman the injection of anti-Paxilion, then turned to assess the situation. After Elizabeth's defeat, the girl Lindsey seemed to no longer have any interest in detaining him or his crew, and to his surprise, began following Emma's instructions. Lindsey led him to the conference room where Christen and her men, as well as the Alliance bridge crew, were detained. When he found them, the two groups appeared to have formed a tentative truce. As soon as they saw him however, he was barraged with questions from both sides.
"Jason," said Christine with a combination of relief and surprise. "We been locked in 'er with this lot fer the better part of the last day."
"Where is the girl," asked Lockhart, referring to Elizabeth Cho.
"Elizabeth is," Jason paused. "No longer in command."
"That would make you actin' Commander," said Christine.
"I suppose it would," said Jason reluctantly. "Christine, I want you to escort these good Alliance people back to the bridge. I'll need their assistance to run the ship. Dedicate one man to guard each of them."
"You expect my people to follow your orders?" asked Lockhart, incredulous.
"There are still two hundred physics on this ship that have more than a few axes to grind," said Jason. "I can leave you to them, if you prefer."
The two men locked gazes for several seconds, but finally Lockhart relented.
They had just settled into the bridge when Jason's com beeped. It was Sarah. "Jason, someone took the Shire!" Sarah sounded like she was about to hyperventilate.
"What!" demanded Jason.
"It looked like one of the Academy students," said a panicked Sarah. "He had a gun on us and took the ship. Weren't a thing we could do."
Jason did not have time to respond, as Linda pulled the com from his hand. "Where is my son?" she pleaded with panic evident in her voice.
"Here, Ma," said Matthew over the com. "The whoon dahn that took the ship left us in the cargo bay." Linda almost slumped to the floor with relief at the sound of her son's voice.
"Make this thing work," ordered Jason, pointing at the large display screen in the center of the bridge. "Where is my ship?" An image soon flickered to life of the small mosquito transport going to full burn, then it was gone.
“What the hell just happened?” demanded Jason. “Why is my ship leaving without me?”
“It’s William,” said Emma as she came onto the bridge. Her shoulder was now heavily bandaged and her left arm was in a sling. Emma tiling her head to one side as she concentrated on the departing craft. “He was also given the Pax. He seems to be planning something. I think we'd better stop him.”
“Damn right,” said Jason. “That's my ship.”
“Check the weapons stores,” said Lockhart. “There are some things that would be bad if he has them.”
“Bad?” asked Jason dangerously. “How bad? Tell me, what other surprises lurk on this little ship of horrors.”
“Whitney,” said Lockhart to his communications officer. “Check the warhead inventory.”
The Alliance communication officer did not wait for the permission of the Browncoat guarding her to sit down at a terminal. “Ta muh duh!” she exclaimed. “Two of the chemical delivery warheads are missing.”
“Chemical weapons,” declared Jason in exasperation. “Wonderful. Mind sharing what they are.”
“It’s highly classified,” said Lockhart. “Even I an not privileged to that information.”
“He’s lying,” said Emma. “It’s Paxilon. Not the watered down version given to Elizabeth either. The original.”
The color drained from the faces of most of the Browncoats as well as several of the Alliance that had not had clearance to know that detail.
Jason burst in to a colorful string of Chinese curses. "Where is he headed," asked Jason finally.
"Looks to be the same heading we were on," replied Whitney. "Osirus, he'll be there in two hours."
“You people are more insane than Liz,” said Jason. “Do you know what would happen if the Pax was released on a planet of two billion people. That’s, lets see at point one percent, two million Reavers.”
"Lets get moving," said Jason when no one responded. "We best catch that whoon dahn and get my ship back."
Two hours later they had failed to close the gap with the Shire. Jason had continually queried the navigator almost every fifteen minutes.
“Like I said, that ship’s too fast, we can’t catch them,” said the navigator. “Still within weapon’s range though.”
"I am not destroying my own ship," declared Jason, but there was indecision in his voice.
"It's almost about to break atmosphere," said Lockhart. "You best be sure of that."
“That’s our home,” said Sarah. She turned pleading eyes on Jason. “You can't.”
“That’s a planet with over two billion people,” argued Lockhart. The Browncoat that was escorting him put a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back from the girl.
Jason watched the image of his own ship on the large main view screen that dominated the center of the bridge. It was indeed just about to break atmo. Any second, they would begin to see the telltale glow in front of the ships hull. Within minutes it would be able to deploy the Paxilon warheads. Jason knew what was necessary. At least none of his crew where on board, he didn’t think he could do it if that were the case.
“Fire,” he gave the order. The pulse lasers fired. Just then the ship dodged to the side, evading the fire. The gunner fired again, but once more, the ship evaded the shot.
“Impossible,” said Lockhart from the side. “It’s impossible to evade laser fire. It travels at the speed of light.”
“You’re fighting psychics,” said Lindsey, from where she was being held under guard. “They know when the gunner is about to fire.”
“Let me," said Emma. She moved over to the gunner's console, taking the man’s place. The Browncoat standing behind him escorted the Alliance solder over to the side as Emma sat down.
“William is one of us,” said Lindsey. “You can’t kill him.” Emma closed her eyes and ignored the accusation. Focusing on the other ship, she waited until she could feel William’s mind. He knew what she was planning.
‘You can’t. You’re too weak,’ came William’s thought from across the void. Emma simply blocked him out.
“No,” cried Lindsey.
The laser beam ripped through the aft section of the Shire. Not only did it take out the engine, but it hit one of the fuel tanks as the small ship erupted into a ball of flame. Emma winced as she felt William die. It was painful, the effects of explosive decompression. Emma turned to the side and threw up on the floor.
Jason closed his eyes, unable to bear the sight of his destroyed ship consumed in a lingering orange glow. Silently beside him, a tear rolled down Sarah’s cheek. Matthew hugged his mother, and for her part she was not sure she could have remained standing had Rick not put his arm around her.
“Get us out of here,” ordered Jason.
“Wait,” said Lockhart. “You should retrieve the wreckage. The canisters are designed to survive reentry; the explosion would not have destroyed them. The nearest Alliance ship is still over an hour away so you should have time.”
Jason grimaced. The last thing he needed to do was have the remains of his ship to remind him of another home he had lost. “Do it,” he ordered. “Then we get this ship to Kurvis.”
“Where do we go,” asked Sarah, "after that?"
“I don’t know,” said Jason. “I don’t know.”
TO BE CONCLUDED
Just some loose ends to tie up in the epilogue, then the story is over. It’s been fun writing this. I’d like to thank everyone that followed the tale to its conclusion.
For those who are wondering about the outcome of the fight between Emma and Elizabeth, Elizabeth originally died in my first draft. She was, however, saved by the pleading of my GF and proof reader who really liked her character.
Lao-tyen, boo. = Oh, god, no.
Oh, juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan = Oh, this is a happy development...
Tyen-sah duh UH-muo = Goddamn monsters
mei mei = Younger sister
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