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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Simon and River reach an understanding, and the crew separates, starting their parts of the mission.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1146 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Archangel – Chapter Thirty-Five
Author owns no rights to Firefly, and no copyright infringement is intended. Fanfic only.
Morning found the crew gathered around the table in the small kitchen they’d been using at the monastery. No one had much to say, lost in their thoughts.
“Well,” Mal said at last. “Best be gettin’ on. Time’s wastin’.” As a group they stood, and headed for the ship, some leaving, some saying goodbye. It was a quiet walk.
At the ramp, Mal stopped, and everyone else followed suit. Gradually they drifted away in small groups.
“Promise me you’ll be careful, Jayne,” Kaylee looked up at him. “Promise me you and River’ll look out for one ‘nother, and be okay.”
“I promise, Kaywinnet Lee Frye, that I will do just that,” Jayne smiled down at her. “And that River and I will guard each other’s backs, and be waiting when you return.”
“You sound like a core-man when you talk like that,” Kaylee teased.
“Well, it was how I was taught to speak, when I was here,” Jayne shrugged. “Guess being here brings that back. Don’t want a rap on the knuckles,” he chuckled.
“You get hurt, an’ it’ll be more’n a rap on the knuckles,” Kaylee warned him.
“Well, you just watch out for that Operative,” Jayne warned in return. “If lays a hand on you, even in greetin’, I’ll. . . .”
“I won’t get no where near him,” Kaylee vowed. “Stay on the ship, even.”
“Good,” Jayne nodded. He bent his head, then, and kissed her soundly.
Meanwhile, Mal was talking to Zoe.
“Don’t even land, you can help it,” Mal ordered. “Wave him when you’re close by. Remind him that the Operative wanted whatever information we could dig up, and this is it.”
“Got it, sir,” Zoe nodded. “We’ll get it done.”
“I know,” Mal’s voice was soft. “Fly safe, Zoe.”
“And you, sir,” Zoe replied. She hugged him briefly, then spun and stalked onto the ship. Inara remained.
“I’ll see you in a week or so,” Mal smiled. Inara didn’t return it.
“Please be careful, Mal,” she almost whispered. “Don’t get killed.”
“I’ll do my dead level best,” Mal assured her, and Inara snorted delicately.
“I was hoping for some reassurance, here,” she told him. Mal looked hurt.
“Hey, I was bein’ reassurin’,” Mal complained. “I will do my best.”
“Just say you won’t get hurt, Mal,” Inara rolled her eyes, her hands going to straighten his collar.
“I won’t get hurt, Mal,” Mal joked, and Inara laughed in spite of herself.
“You be careful, too,” Mal said a minute later. “I can’t. . .I can’t make it ‘thout you, ‘Nara.” She blinked at that, and nodded.
“I will,” she promised, placing her lips to his.
“River, I wish you wouldn’t do this,” Simon tried on last time. “Please?”
“I have to, Simon,” River told him. “There aren’t enough fighters. You know that. I might actually make a difference, you know.”
“I know you will,” Simon nodded, embracing her tightly. “I just wish you wouldn’t.” He released her, and stepped back.
“I’m sorry I’ve been so controlling, River,” he said suddenly. “I never meant to be. I just wanted so much to keep you safe, to make sure you never had to endure anything like that again.”
“I know,” River smiled at him. “And I love you all the more for it. But I’m grown, Simon. I have to make my way in the world, however I can. And this is something I can do. And it needs to be done. You wouldn’t leave someone injured to die. I can’t leave people to the mercy of reavers when I know I can help.”
“These are our people, Simon,” River stressed. “People we’ve known all our lives, including our parents. I can’t just wish it away.”
“No, you can’t,” Simon agreed. “And you are grown,” he smiled. “I might not want you to be, but you are. Please be careful.”
“I promise,” she smiled. “Jayne will watch over me, and I over him. We’ll be fine.”
“I’ll see you when we get back.” River watched him go, then turned to Jazz.
“Please be patient with him,” she told the reporter. “He has carried my burden for a long time. He doesn’t mean to let it interfere with his life, and doesn’t always realize that it is. Allow him his worry, and comfort him. He needs that, and you are the one who can give it to him.”
“I’ll try, River,” Jazz promised, a bit wide-eyed at the smaller woman’s speech. “I really do like him, a lot,” she admitted.
“He does you too,” River smiled. “Don’t give up. You need each other.” With that she spun away. Jazz watched her for a few steps, then turned to follow Simon aboard.
Mal, River, and Jayne watched from a safe distance as Serenity left the ground. Zoe was flying, and she turned the ship slightly, dipping the nose a bit, and then the ship was gone, leaping for the black.
“Bad luck to watch it out of sight,” River told the two men, and they nodded. As one, they turned for the building.
Time to get down to business.
River turned at hearing her name. She found an older man looking at her in appraisal.
“My name is Reginald,” he smiled. “I’m the armorer for this abbey. Brother Thomas has informed me that you need armor.” River smiled.
“I do, indeed,” she replied.
“Do you have a chaperone?” the old man asked, looking around.
“Chaperone?” River was puzzled.
“Ah, no one has explained,” Reginald smiled. “I’m afraid that in order to fit you properly, you’ll have to disrobe.” River’s face colored at that, but Jayne appeared a second later.
“I’ll be with her,” he said, his deep voice rumbling. Reginald nodded.
“Very well. Let’s begin, as I am told time is short.”
“Naked?” River whispered, looking at Jayne.
“Not quite,” Jayne smiled. “But close.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Tam,” Reginald said again. “We aren’t accustomed to fitting women, so the top. . . .”
“I understand,” River resisted the urge to snarl. She was clad in a loincloth similar to Jayne’s. And her own bra. Nothing else.
“A few minutes longer, and we’ll be fine,” Reginald assured her.
“You look right fetchin’, mei mei,” Jayne smirked from where he sat. River scowled at him.
“Want me to tell Kaylee that?”
“She won’t care,” Jayne shrugged. “And it was a compliment, you know.”
“I know,” River sighed. “I. . .it’s uncomfortable, that’s all.”
“Least now you know how I feel,” Jayne grinned, and returned to what he was doing.
“What are you doing, anyway?” River asked.
“Need a harness,” Jayne told her. “Making you one.”
“Thank you,” she smiled softly.
“Welcome,” he nodded, not looking up.
“How will this play out?” Mal was asking Thomas.
“That’s up to you,” Thomas told him. “This is your mission, Malcolm. I will be on Osiris.”
“Huh?” Mal looked up. “What are you gonna do on. . .?”
“I’ll be in command of the acolytes,” Thomas smiled. “I’m too old, nowadays, to join Michael and the younger ones. But someone must be in charge. For my sins. . . .”
“I heard Jayne use that one time,” Mal said, remembering the tusker. “What’s it mean?” Thomas looked at him closely, as if making a decision.
“It is a ceremonial cry,” Thomas told him. “How much do you know about us, Malcolm?”
“Not much,” Mal admitted. “And that’s mostly rumor and guesses.”
“And we like it that way,” Thomas nodded. “Even better, we prefer that people think we are a myth. Though after this, there will be no question.”
“We are sometimes forced to use extreme measures to right a wrong,” Thomas said carefully. “When that happens, then it is customary for the messenger to inform the person in question why things are as they are. For their sins.”
“And who is it makes that decision?” Mal asked, not quite accusing.
“That’s always the question, isn’t it,” Thomas nodded, but didn’t answer. “I assure you, Captain, someone like you has nothing to fear from one of us. You are a good man.”
“How’d you know that?” Mal asked, surprised.
“I have it on the highest authority,” Thomas assured him. “Come, and I’ll introduce you to your team.”
“Got you some blades,” Jayne announced, when he walked into the kitchen where River was sitting.
“I have a blade,” she smiled up at him.
“You can use two,” Jayne pointed out. “Might need’em. And these are better,” he added. He placed two identical weapons side by side on the table. River was speechless.
The blades were smaller than his, more fitting for her. Beautifully crafted. She hefted one, and was shocked at how light it was, and how well balanced. It felt like an extension of her own arm. The other was exactly the same.
“Where did you get these?” she breathed, eyeing the blades with awe.
“You aren’t the first woman to be a part of this order,” Jayne told her. “Though you are unique,” he smiled. “These were hers. They’ve been well cared for. And they will serve you well.”
“They’re yours, now,” he added. “And so is this.” He handed her an ornate leather harness, complete with sheaths for her new weapons. They fit perfectly, she was not surprised to see.
“Thank you, Jayne,” River said softly, and hugged him tightly. Jayne returned the embrace, his fondness for her making him smile.
“You and me, we’ll fight as a team,” he told her. “Like old times,” he winked.
“Kaylee is a very lucky woman, you know,” River told him, eyes bright. Jayne reddened a bit.
“I’m the lucky one, to have her. And you,” he added with a smile. “Saved my life, mei mei. When I didn’t even know it needed saving.” He grew serious, then, and sat down.
“This won’t be easy, River,” he cautioned. “They’ll be everywhere, and like as not, they’ll be a buncha fake reavers mixed in with’em. Osiris will have some defense, but most of it will probably be ‘pulled’ before the attack, to help track down the reavers elsewhere.”
“Watch yourself, and pace yourself. We may have to fight for a long time. And,” he frowned, “Monty may not come to our aid, either. If he don’t?” Jayne shrugged.
“If he don’t, then we’re likely done for,” he said honestly. River nodded.
“I understand, ge ge.” Her voice was strong. “I knew the risks when I accepted the offer to go. Does all this,” she waved at the swords and the armor, “mean that I, too, am now an Archangel?”
“Would that please you?” Thomas asked from the doorway, drawing both their attention.
“It would,” River nodded. “Protect those who cannot protect themselves. People who are like I once was.”
“There is no law among us that you must be trained here to be one of us,” Thomas told her. “In fact, there is no law that says you must possess the gene. There is a small ceremony, however, that you must endure, if you are to be accepted into the order, and be a true Archangel.”
“What is it?” River asked, interested.
“I cannot tell you,” Thomas replied. “It is a secret. I will tell you that it is painful. Not fatally, of course, but it demands a showing of strength, and courage.” He looked to Jayne.
Jayne considered the question carefully, remembering his own rite of passage. He looked at River for a long moment, and then nodded.
“Yes, she can,” he assured his mentor. “She is the strongest person I know.”
River practically beamed at the compliment.
“If you still desire it at sunrise, then it will be so,” Thomas promised. “I caution you, however. Do not enter into this lightly. It is not a game, nor is it simple ceremony. Once it is done, it cannot be undone. You will be one of us until the day you die.”
River nodded solemnly.
“See that she does,” Thomas ordered Jayne, then left. River looked to him.
“I think so,” Jayne nodded. “It’s a commitment, River, to the order, and those who serve it. You will be tested. If you pass, you will become one of us.”
“I will pass.”
Mal looked at the men who were to accompany him on his mission. They were an impressive looking bunch. And had traded their ceremonial armor and swords for body armor, and hi-tech, modern weapons.
“Are we all clear on what’s to be done?” Mal asked. Heads nodded.
“We have to make sure we grab as much of their records as we can,” Mal stressed. “That’s the most important thing on this op. Without that proof, we may not be able to expose all this for what it is. Dong Ma?” Again, heads nodded. They weren’t a talkative bunch.
“Any questions?” Mal finished.
“Are you the same Reynolds who released the Miranda WAVE?” one of the men in front asked. Mal looked at him for a moment, then nodded.
“Yeah, I am. Me and my crew.”
“It’s an honor to fight with you, sir,” the man said evenly, and the others growled their assent.
“We will kill many enemies, and we will complete our mission, though we fall in doing so,” another said, and the growls were louder.
“We will be victorious, even in death!” A third called from the rear ranks, and everyone stood, and yelled.
“We leave in eight hours,” Mal said once it was quiet. “Get some rest. See to your gear.”
Jayne and River were watching Mal and his team load up. They had a small, fast ship, and were heading out. The two wished they could go along, to keep an eye on him, but they had other business.
“You two take care o’ each other,” Mal smiled, seeing them looking on, and walking over to them. “Don’t want to hear o’ no arms or legs missin’, or any such.”
“We will endeavor to avoid amputations of any kind upon our persons,” River nodded. “You are to do the same,” she ordered.
“I’ll sure be doin’ that,” Mal nodded. “Got a good lookin’ bunch, here. ‘Spect they’ll take care o’ me, right enough.”
“Good luck, Mal,” Jayne said quietly, offering his hand.
“Same to you, Jayne,” Mal shook hands with him. “Watch over our Albatross. Don’t want nothin’ happenin’ to her.”
“It won’t,” Jayne’s tone was definite.
“See you two on Osiris, Lord Willing,” Mal grinned, and started toward his ship. The others were on board, and the pilot had announced he was ready to fly. Mal looked back, once, and waved, from the hatchway, before it closed. Jayne and River both returned the wave.
As the ship left the ground, they purposefully turned, not watching it out of sight.
“Be sun-up in an hour or so,” Jayne commented, when the noise of the ship died away. “Still want to do it?” River considered her answer for a few seconds, and nodded.
“Yes,” she replied. “It’s. . .it just feels like something I should do, Jayne.”
“Well, just remember, pain is in the mind,” he warned. “It will be painful, River. You’ll need all your concentration to master it.”
“I can do it,” River said firmly. “I think I have to.”
“Then let’s see about gettin’ you ready, little sister.”
Thomas stood at the head of a small circle, made up of Jayne and six other warriors, clad only in the ornate loincloths they all wore beneath their armor. River wore a robe over her’s, and now had a top to match the loincloth she also wore. She was nervous, but hid it well.
There was a fire blazing in the center of the circle, and she could see an iron rod suspended in the flames.
Fear is in the mind, she reminded herself. Pain is in the mind.
“Brothers,” Thomas said, “we gather here to greet the rising of the sun, the light that drives away the darkness. As you once stood here, and took the Rite, so now, our sister, River, stands. You are witnesses of her determination, and her commitment, to protect those who cannot protect themselves. To stand as that light against evil, where ever it may be found.” He looked at River,
“Sister, do you stand before us, now, of your own free will?”
“I do,” River replied.
“And do you understand the depths of this undertaking? A vow from which there is no going back?”
“I do,” she repeated.
“Then step forward, sister, and remove your robe.” River walked into the circle, handing her robe to Jayne. She was a bit self conscious as the men around her saw her so scantily clad, but the seriousness of their faces told her they had no eyes for her body this day. Only for this Rite of Passage, which they had all been through themselves.
“Sister River,” Thomas spoke quietly, “this rite is normally performed on one who has the Rage within him. Often the Rage helps in suppressing the pain. This Rite will mark you as one of ours, for now, and for all time. No one who bears this mark can refuse to aid another who bears it. Nor can they be refused aid, when in need.”
“No one who bears this mark can be turned away from our doors. Nor can you turn away one who bears it. It is a symbol of the lengths we will go to in order to preserve not only the Order, but the battle for which it stands. The eternal struggle of Light over Dark. Of Good over Evil.” He turned her gently away from him. She felt rather than saw him lift the iron bar from the fire.
“Are you prepared?” he asked kindly.
“I am.” She heard her voice quiver, but spoke clearly. Jayne nodded to her, in encouragement, and support.
Suddenly, pain spiked through her mind, rampant and overwhelming. She bit off a scream of pain, instead managing to change it into a battle cry of sorts. She yelled at the top of her lungs, screaming in rage and fury at Blue Sun, the Academy, the Operative, her parents, all the things that had contrived to try and break her.
The images of these things flooded her mind, and one by one caught fire, consumed in the heat and fire that Thomas pressed against her flesh.
She became aware that others were yelling, all around her. The men who stood witness for her were echoing her cry, lending their strength to hers.
And then, it was over. The pain remained, but the pressure was gone. She swayed slightly, as Thomas’ hand left her shoulder, and Jayne was there, suddenly. She leaned against him, grateful for his support.
“Brothers, what say you?” Thomas asked.
“Huzzah!” they answered. “One of us!” Thomas turned River to face him, as Jayne slipped her robe carefully over her, careful of the mark now forever placed on her shoulder. Which now bore a brand, of a small cross, with wings, and crossed swords.
“Welcome, sister, to the Order of Light.”
Sunday, March 16, 2008 8:43 PM
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