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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
NEW FIC: Pt 5 of 5. Jayne is shot – Mal’s chasing the shooter – the Marshal’s chasing Mal.
River’s taken to the stage – and she’s ready for her close up now.
Uh, it aint an overly short chapter….
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 799 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Presenting Madame Cho and her marvellous mystickery! Be amazed as the miracle medium child brings forth genuine messages of joy from beyond the veil of tears.
Do not miss this rare opportunity for true lasting piece of mind.
Lost lovers reunited – lost families rejoined – lost pets found.
Madame Cho is known the verse over not only for her stagecraft and unceasing exploration of the realm beyond – but for the quality of mediums she brings with her on her travels – only the most gifted, only the most pure, only the young.
“Out of the mouths of babes comes the truth of Heaven’s Gate” – Madame Cho.
Limited places – book now!
X.C. Promotions Ltd.
- Flyer advertisement Regis Colony Lamppost. –
Gathered in the brittle tin church, the hard worn community of Regis Colony had not got the show they came for. Messages of Joy – so Pastor Nehru had said – and so too the barking carnivalesque of the posters read more surreptitiously – but no less avidly – than the town announcements.
First there had been the spooky wailing kid and then a rude explosion of outlaw critters armed and cursing – and then gunplay, bloodshed and nothing less than a gate crashing motor mule roaring in to disturb their peace. Yessir, all sortsa unexpected – all kindsa crazed.
And now there was this – a slip of a girl, dancing in silence in the middle of the rough wooden stage, nimbly avoiding the still slick blood, the shaking child and the woman called Annabelle James.
Dancing down to the candles, moving like a flicker of light herself, swaying and bending and – yeah, shining some.
The parishioners only realised they were silent and holding their breath when the girl, with her eyes closed, came to a stop and pointed a long arm out towards Annabelle and started to speak.
“Come from the trailers and they come for you. Used to lie out under the stars and one time dreaming up names for them - you dreamed up a child instead.”
Hearing the words, Annabelle’s eyes were lighted with a desperate kindled hope. “Oh girl, it’s true – really true.”
“And they came and they went and they came and they took the baby away”, River intoned.
Awed, Annabelle nodded. “And I need to know”, she found herself saying, “is he peaceful now he’s crossed over, now he’s…” she couldn’t bring herself to complete the sentence – her hands were knuckling, her whole body subtly electrified.
“He’s not dead”, said River.
Captain Reynolds was moving at speed through the thick Regis night. In the torch spattered rain sodden dark everything had a lurid, heavy, hung-over quality, the back of his eyes lit the night with tracer fires of their own devising. The sudden edge of a building, the arch of a street entrance, the splashing reflective surfaces of road and path – everything was distorted and unreal.
He was moving as much by instinct as by memory of the roads he’d taken into town earlier and those he’d seen as Serenity flew low in search of Clem’s craft.
But as his boots slipped and splashed he knew he was beginning to head up and around the base of the mountain behind the town – and up was the only way he wanted to go.
“Stop being so reluctant Shepherd, we aint stopping to smell no roses hereabouts” Xavier Clem gave Solomon Face a prod in the back of the head with his gun for good measure.
The Shepherd bit his tongue and picked up the pace, noting that the steep and winding path under foot had become more treacherous yet – a swampy mix of sand and grit – and he could hear Clem cursing the fact.
They were having to negotiate large puddles of water, deep enough to drown in, and half hidden muddy pieces of disused building and mining equipment, planks of broken wood, rusted tools and such.
There was precious little illumination – fixed braziers spat a cold blue flame at intervals along the road – and apart from that just the occasional watery flash of a moon near drowned by cloud.
Now Annabelle staggered, near swooned as if dealt a blow – and hard. “Oh – oh, no.” Her voice cracked. “Now that aint so… he musta passed on – he can’t…” The alternative was just too awful to contemplate. River shook her head, the dark of her hair like crows settling heavy on the corn. “Not dead”, she repeated – and again in Chinese.
Annabelle was struck dumb.
River slipped sideways to the seated figure of the medium and with a lithe gesture pulled off the coverings. “The veil is rent”, she said – her voice still a monotone. The face of Madame Cho’s / Ma Cobb’s – prodigy was clear now under the lights, a scared looking child, teary and clean… a boy… blinking up uncomprehendingly at River.
“Born in the black – but you don’t remember”, River’s voice was softer now, “passed around and they made you forget – such a long time gone – but you looked in your mom’s eyes just one time… and they were blue like yours.”
The child said nothing but fresh tears began to trickle from those frightened blue eyes.
“Dressed you up and put you on show,” River sounded angry now, “but you’ve come home.”
“Show’s over”, she said with finality.
Xavier Clem’s ship lay on a rough mountain flat to the side of the great Regis dam behind which was Findings water, that deep basin folks would swim in come the summer, come the sun. No sign of either as Clem and the Shepherd made their way up the still barely concreted roadway towards the vessel. There was an especially large and evil looking rain filled ditch to navigate beyond which lay Clem’s craft. It was a large tube of a ship and it carried the name Silverlode in cracked and blinking neon. “Silerde?” Face asked curiously. “Meaning what?”
“Still making with the funny - huh Shepherd?” Xavier’s terse reply showed his temper was wearing thin – a thin temper could be dangerous , thought Face – but to him or me?
Clem nudged him in the back with his pistol. “Everyone knows what it says,” Clem continued “Only a darn fool think it says what it don’t.”
“…oh – god, god is it true?” Annabelle stumbled over to the boy, one hand reached timorously to touch the fair of his hair, the other to wipe the tears away. “Hush now”, she smiled, not noticing the tears of her own. “Your momma’s here.”
“Hallelujah”, someone murmured from the back
Annabelle looked up at River who met her gaze levelly. “The Doctor…” River said slowly, “has feelings… for you – but he leaves you alone. He is afraid… to…” and now it was, quite suddenly, the Tam girl’s turn to choke on the difficult words, “… afraid to love.”
Annabelle James gave a wild sob, smiling openly now.
“Hallelujah”, came again.
“Truly the girl has the sight!”
And but one dissenter. “Why her? Why Annabelle – when she weren’t nuthin’ but a whore ‘fore she came here!”
But the one started something among the many – like a ripple, become a wave, become a tide. “Oh child – what of me?! – Talk to me! – Tell me bout my husband! What of my wife? – The twins…” A hundred and more voices calling out their losses – calling out to her, begging for answers, for joy, for relief.
River was silent.
“Why MA – what big eyes you got!” Malcolm Reynolds sarcastic voice may have been aimed at the Shepherd but his eyes and his guns were set on Xavier Clem.
Clem himself didn’t respond - caught off-guard by Mal’s sudden appearance behind them - he was busy manoeuvring to keep back of the Shepherd, pistol touching the base of Solomon’s skull.
“Don’t you be making him jumpy now!” Face yelped, but it was plain that Mal was just gonna keep talking…
“Well now Clem – look at you,” said the Captain expansively, “been coming up in the verse huh? Got that fine ship, twinkling lights and a smooth looking ramp, no rust there… looks big too. Yeah, a big ship – got that fancy sign which is – what is that? ‘Slode?’ Well I aint exactly sure about that but – hell, I’m sure it’s some genuine deepness, poetry or such…”
Clem let out a guttural insult.
Keeping his expression nice and mild, Mal continued to move forward hunching slightly behind his guns. Clem and the Preacher were nearly under the landing lights now – the better for a clear shot. Silently, he cursed the great puddle of muddy water between them and him – it was like a gorram moat and if he started around it his purpose would be plain to Clem.
Shepherd seemed to know as much – he was easing himself backwards almost imperceptibly, just putting his weight on his heels and letting Clem react to the momentum – Yep, there now.
“Gotta say Clem, we just came for the money you owed – weren’t no call for all this mess.”
Clem glowered. “I don’t like to get pushed around!”
Mal narrowed his eyes. “Well, that aint like to happen again.”
And then Marshal Ryder had to spoil it all by choosing that moment to step clear from hiding among the shadows on the west side of the ditch. His gun was of course pointing straight at Mal. Yeah, but then they always are , thought the Captain, they always are.
Guns ablazing – Ma Cobb stormed onto the stage amidst the row of the congregation, many of whom were beginning to clamber up with a desire to claim River for their own.
“Woah now” Ma yelled, firing again into the air. “Hold your business! Back off – no touching the mystics!”
Her wild expression and the noise of the guns worked real quick to quell the people. Ma Cob looked them over. “I aint sure you deserved the good show we all brought to you tonight – but Madam Cho aint known for meanness so we’ll just pass the plate and be getting on home. It’s late y’know – y’all got homes to get to.”
She moved over to the boy on the chair, now wrapped in the arms of his mother, reached under him and pulled out a large nickel plate. Not missing a beat she handed it over to River. “You just get that filled my Girl, then those fine but somewhat sheepish deputies can escort us both get back to where we should be – with my Boy.”
For a moment there was no response from River – then slowly she took the plate in her slender fingers and – for all the hair over her eyes – began to move down carefully, gracefully even, into the crowd.
“That’s better!” Cried Ma, “and don’t you doubt that we’ll be back again soon – I can tell that many of you hear have a pressin’ need for spiritual reassurance. Well, miracles enough been worked for one night,” she scowled for good measure as Annabelle James began leading the startled Boy from the chair and out from the stage.
“And miracles aint cheap! Remember that!”
“Well now,” said Mal with a certain self-depreciation as he covered both Clem and the Marshal, “here I am again.”
Ryder seemed focused purely on the Captain and he called across to him. “This the part where I’m supposed to make cheap cracks ‘bout your war record and maybe belittle your hero status in general regard to your fights with the Alliance?”
“This would usually be the moment,” Mal agreed resignedly.
“Aint gonna happen Captain.”
“And I am grateful for that.”
The Marshal, silently berating the lazy non-arrival of his back up, considered. “Am I also right in figuring you can shoot him AND me before I put you in the mud?”
Mal nodded again, “It’s likely”, he admitted.
The Marshal sucked in his top lip thoughtfully for a moment. “It’s a helluva job,” he said to no/one in particular. Mal answered without rancour, “You gotta do what you gotta do, Marshal – make a play or not as you see fit. ”
The Marshal said nothing.
Yep, thought Mal sadly, I already know your answer…
“He’s gonna die?” Zoe Alleyne sounded shocked – felt shocked – and I am a woman seen my husband cut down right before me, seen folks and youths chopped in swathes and littering battlefields fit for nothing but worms.
Dr Brink nodded – even as they wheeled Jayne into the med-bay on a stretcher improvised from Mule seats and gun belts. “He’s dying now…” the Doctor kept his voice low.
Damn him , thought Zoe, Of all the people – Jayne? Her mind kept looping back to the dark corridor of the Independence moon… The Serenity crew backed into a holding spot, bruised, short on ammo, short on options and about to be utterly over run by the savagest foe that folks could face… and all thinking the same weary thing, that not a one of them was going to come through this - except Jayne… looking up - his face scrunched and idiotically, childishly, inspiringly hopeful - and saying “ I might.”
“No.” Zoe said now. “Aint gonna happen. No ruttin’ way.”
The Doctor looked at her sadly – but Zoe had already turned from him and back into the corridor where Kaylee and the Pastor were coming up behind. She grabbed Nehru by the arm. “Sir?” she said, “I don’t mean to be rude but if you’ve got it to give – give it now. Give plenty and give it good.” She pulled the man into the bay.
Xavier Clem was becoming very annoyed. “Hey! Hello people! Hostage here! Gun at head!” He tapped the shepherd with the barrel yet again to reinforce the message. “This is the deal – I got the Shepherd’s word he aint gonna do anything outlandish – all I need is Reynolds word the same. Shepherd goes free and I leave, clean and simple.”
“OK,” said Mal.
“What?” Clem was nonplussed by the suddenness of Mal’s agreement.
“You got my word Clem.” Mal made it clear.
Equally surprised, Ryder looked for Clem’s reaction – and Mal shot the Marshal through the shoulder sending him backwards into the mud.
“Wha -?” Clem was shocked.
“I lied,” said Mal.
Shepherd Face folded himself up quite suddenly and near in half - then jack-knifed up again behind Clem’s gun arm – which he struck with a hard open hand. The man howled – and his gun splashed into the dirt.
Clem’s mouth twitched again. “But - Shepherd?!”
“Yeah… lied also. It’s a wide and wicked ‘verse.” His fist flew up, catching Clem hard in the brittle side of his jaw – and another body was in the mud.
“Ah hell, Preacher!” yelled Mal angrily,“ whaddya do that for? You know damn well I can’t shoot him now!”
“Little man like this aint worth the blood on your hands.” Face said evenly.
“I aint like to lose any sleep over that.”
“Then maybe Captain it’s a good thing I stopped you.”
“Huh. So that was what – your spiritual solution? And here I was thinking you just liked to hit things.”
“You… may not be wrong.” Face conceded.
The Shepherd watched Mal as he blew out his breath, raised his hands, clenched them and dropped them again. “Ok, then, it’s done - I’ll try not to let your conscience bother me.”
The Shepherd shrugged looking down at Clem’s senseless figure. “And this buffoon really cheated you?”
“Hey now” – Mal was firm, “don’t be pushing your luck Shepherd - that’s a sleeping dog best left in its manger.” Turning away, the Captain began to trudge over to the fallen Marshal - and without warning, legs finally turning to water, Solomon Face sat down there and then and heavy in the mud next to Clem.
“Yep,” said Mal without looking back, “gun to the head, that can happen.”
It was some whiles later – and in the seeming, longer still – that Serenity, her firefly tail aglow, rose up from behind the dam, circled over-head and turned the engines about for landing.
“Swing low sweet chariot…” Face whispered fervently into the updraft as the ship came down. “Comin’ for to carry me home.”
Mal laughed out loud. “You really just say that?”
Reynolds grinned full and wide and looking up at Serenity himself, “Yeah...”
Zoe frowned down at the crouched figures of Mal and Kaylee as they huddled like school children behind the med-bay doors. Dr Brink had been good for a lot of things – and fortunate that was – one of which was taking the wounded Marshal off the boat before he woke real and conscious – the other was leaving his stethoscope behind. The Captain and his mechanic were sharing an earpiece each.
Mal knew that particular frown of Zoe’s well. He beckoned her down to join them and with a sudden reckless grin she did just that.
There were the soothing tones of a mother – easing the troubles of her boy. “You got Preacher blood, hellfire in your veins now Son. And don’t you be worrying - Ma’s here. Aint no need of worry now.”
And there was the boy himself.
“But he shot me with his Cod, Ma…” Jayne groaned. “Aint no way I’m living that down.”
The eavesdropping Serenity crew gave themselves away with a raucous explosion of laughter.
In the small room that the Shepherd had, with Mal’s permission, converted into his Chaplainry – Solomon Face stood quiet behind his bookstand with the large hard backed Bible upon it.
“Yes I know,” he said at last. “Sorry about that.”
Mal looked in on River as made he made his way through the ship, his ship.
She was in the room that she had shared for so long with her brother. She was staring at the floor.
Reynolds paused awkwardly in the doorway.
“It doesn’t matter.” River said without looking at him.
“Huh.” Mal shrugged, “Ok – but I aint known for apologising often so… Anyways - you got left. That weren’t right. It was my watch - and for that I am sorry, truly.”
“It doesn’t matter” River repeated.
“Yeah – well, I heard you kept yourself busy – and some.”
River snickered at that.
“I made a family.”
Mal nodded, “Yeh, heard about that, which was - how does that work again exactly?”
“It was easy,” River chuckled again – but as she looked up now at Mal her face was blank.
“… and with the uni-wide web alive with further allegations today that the Corporation was directly involved in the abduction of children for covert military experimentation - there’s little surprise in the market that the value of Blue Sun stock has tumbled dramatically once again.”
The man in the park smiled to himself and turned away from the public Vu-screen.
As he did so the smile vanished. He regarded his colleague with obvious distaste. The man himself barely noticed – absorbed as he was in his cheese sandwich.
The first man said testily. “Cheese again?”
The Cheese man waved his sandwich, “my wife”, he said lamely.
“Hmm. Still one mustn’t judge – we’ve had a good day after all. I think I can afford a little generosity of spirit.”
“Talking of affording,” he continued, “how do you plan to spend your soon to be fabulous riches?”
The cheese man raised his eyebrows, “I dummph chow…” he said, mouth full of lunch.
The first man sighed – then he looked at his wristwatch, a luxury antique piece. “Well,” he said finally, “I have to go – duty and commerce are calling, time and commerce wait for no man.”
The two men began to stroll away slowly across the greenery of the Central City park.
Thanks to any and every shipmate patient enough to read to the end – all comments appreciated.
This story was inspired by Serenity, Those Left Behind and Safe…
(All credit to Joss, Brett, Drew and Tim)
and this story was inspired by the members of FFFN whose posted in discussion about them.
You all shine on.
- next up: a full blooded and not entirely un-comedic tale of Monty and the many Malcolm Reynolds in his life -
Friday, February 15, 2008 4:58 AM
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