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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Inside the temple, Mal, Zoe and Jayne find what they were looking for, but there's worries back on board Serenity. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1255 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
At Zoe’s voice Mal turned to see a section of the wall had moved to one side, revealing a darkness beyond that had a feeling of age about it. He removed his hand from the knob, but immediately the wall began to close, only reopening as he pressed down again.
“Great,” he murmured. “Jayne, see if you can find something to wedge this with.”
“That’s not a good idea,” Zoe put in quickly. “If it slides, comes loose somehow, we’d be trapped.”
Mal felt a slow-burning anger in his belly. “But that means one of us has to stay behind.”
“No, it don’t,” Hank said over the ear-pieces. “That’s not the way in. In fact, if you went that way, you’d end up at the bottom of a very deep pit. With spikes.”
Jayne shuddered. “Then what -”
“Just inside the entrance there should be a carving on the wall. You need to tell me what it looks like.”
“Zoe,” Mal commanded, holding down the protuberance.
She stepped gingerly inside the tunnel, shining her torch on the wall. Nothing to her left. She turned. “Got it,” she said.
“What’s it look like, sweetie?”
“It’s a picture of a man, wearing … actually, very little.” She moved the light a little. “Anatomically correct, if somewhat exaggerated.”
“What’s he holding?”
“A trident. Only it isn’t. It’s got four points, not three.” She touched it gingerly. “And it’s actually made out of metal, attached to the wall somehow.”
“You need to turn it through ninety degrees. Can you do that?”
“I’ll try.” She felt around the metalwork, and realised it was set on a spindle through its centre. Using one finger, she turned it, like adjusting the hour hand on a clock, until it was upside down. There was a click from somewhere deep in the darkness. “Okay,” she said, releasing the breath she hadn’t known she was holding. “Now what?”
“That’s my girl,“ Hank said approvingly. “Now what’s in his other hand?”
“A net. It’s got five fishes in it.”
“You sure it’s five? Not four?”
There was a pause.
“Hank?” Mal said finally. “If you’ve gone off to have coffee, I’ll be more’n a little mad. And my finger’s getting tired.”
“Just double-checking. You wouldn’t want me to send you down a blind alley, would you?”
“Okay, got it. You need to go back into the main hall. Behind the altar you’ll see a … well, just get there and I’ll explain it then.”
Zoe stepped back into the chamber of skulls, and Mal let go of the knob. The wall groaned closed, and there was suddenly no sign of a tunnel at all.
“Come on,” Mal said.
“What about the bones, sir?” Zoe asked.
Jayne backed up. “Well, don’t look at me. I ain’t picking ‘em up.”
“I think for the moment we’ll forget about tidying up,” Mal decided.
“How’s it going?” Freya asked, stepping onto the bridge.
Hank grinned over his shoulder at her. “Not bad.” He chuckled. “You know, this is just like some of the old vids I’ve been watching. All dark rooms and slimy corridors.” He felt a shiver run down his back, and revelled in it. “Great.”
“Well, I’m sure Mal would have let you go with them if you‘d asked nicely.”
“What? And maybe get caught by the undead in said dark room?” He shook his head. “Nope. Not that stupid. Although I do feel the need for a hat, somehow.”
“Simon would probably lend you his.”
“You think it’d suit me?” He waggled his eyebrows at her, running a hand through his scruffy brown hair.
She smiled. “Down to the ground.”
“Okay, we’re behind the altar.” Mal’s voice filtered across the ether. “What am I looking for?”
Hank turned back to the data tab information being displayed on one of the screens. “There should be a number of grooves carved into the wall beneath the figure. See ‘em?”
“Just tell me how many …”
“How do you suppose it’s going?” Kaylee asked, leaning in the doorway of the infirmary.
“Fine,” Simon said, closing the cupboard door. “The captain knows what he’s doing.”
“Then why were you checking the supplies again?”
“No reason.” He saw her smile at him. “Okay, I was just making sure I had something of everything.” He crossed to her. “I just get the feeling things might get a little … difficult.”
“Do you s’pose being psychic is catching?” She slid her hands around his waist. “Only you’ve had these feelings for a while now. And everything‘s been going so well.”
“Maybe that’s the problem. Things going well for this crew is somewhat unlikely, and the longer it goes on the more I worry.”
She pulled him closer. “I think I got the cure for that, Doctor Tam.”
“Shouldn’t we be waiting for the others to get back?”
“They ain’t invited. ‘Sides, Hank’ll tell us if there’s a problem.” She nuzzled at his neck.
“Five sets of grooves. Like someone was counting. One, two, three and so on. The last one of ‘em looks almost like a hand print,” Mal said.
“Buy that man a cigar. That’s what it is. Put your hand in that one and press.”
“You sure about this? I don’t want to be caught by anything I shouldn’t.”
“You’re a big hero, Mal. Just press.”
Mal glanced at Jayne, who shook his head vehemently.
“You’re the Cap,” he said. “I’m just a hired gun.”
“I’ll remember you said that next time I apportion out pay.” Mal wiped his hand down his pants, hoping no-one would realise he was sweating slightly, even in the coldness of the tomb, and placed it into the grooves. His fingers fit, as if they were carved just for him, and he pushed. It gave slowly.
“Mal …” Jayne murmured, pointing to one of the wall carvings to their right. It had moved backwards, disappearing into inky blackness.
“Shiny.” Mal glanced at his first mate. “Let’s see if this one stays open.” Very gently, almost gingerly, he removed his hand. The opening stayed. “Good. But find something to put into the entrance, just in case.”
Jayne nodded and wandered off, his torch beam picking out figures doing unspeakable things to each other.
“You know, Simon was right,” Zoe said quietly. “These Levites had serious problems.”
“Yeah. I got him to tell me a bit more, about the things he wouldn’t say in front of the kids. It appears one of the things they wanted to practise was human sacrifice of those deemed unworthy.” He glanced at the altar. “Probably not a bad thing they died out.”
“I’d say not.”
“Here,” Jayne grunted, carrying a large stone that he dropped inside the opening. “It’ll hold.”
“You sure about that?” Mal asked.
“Hell, I ain’t getting caught in there.” He glanced into the darkness. “I got a wife and kid to think about.”
“Don’t we all.” Shining his torch into the tunnel, Mal set his shoulders. “Let’s get going.” He led the way inside.
The tunnel was just about high enough for Jayne to walk without stooping, but narrow enough that he could touch both sides without reaching. Mercifully it appeared to be without any of the disturbing carvings, although here and there were remnants of paintings long since flaked from the walls. He peered at what was left, seeing things he was glad River wasn’t with him to see. Then he walked into Zoe. “What the …”
Ahead of them Mal spoke. “Hank, we’ve come to a crossroads. There’s three more tunnels, and it looks like they all branch off as well further on. Which one is it?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Work a little faster, Hank.”
“Give me a second. This is like trying to read a schematic without the key.”
“Then get it right.”
There was silence for another ten seconds, then … “Okay. Basically you keep right. Wherever it branches, you take the right hand fork.” He paused. “Best of luck.”
River sat on their bed, Caleb on the covers in front of her. His little arms were waving in the air, his eyes fixed on her. He was too young to smile, but the look on his face showed he knew who his mama was.
“Auntie River, Daddy said you shouldn’t have taught me that song,” Bethie said from where she was sitting on the floor, her pad and pencils spread out around her. Ethan was next to her, colouring in a drawing River had done for him, and Ben and Hope were playing with Fiddler. “’Bout men on a dead man’s chest.”
“Said it wasn’t ‘ppropriate.” She looked up from her work. “Why wasn’t it ‘ppropriate?”
“Because your Daddy is a boob.”
“Auntie River …” Bethie scolded, smiling nevertheless.
River picked up Caleb and held him close, feeling his warmth against her. “He doesn’t appreciate pirates.”
“Pirates is fun,” Bethie said, then saw the look on her aunt‘s face. “Are you okay?” The little girl stood up, her head on one side.
“No. Auntie Frey doesn’t want me to. Practising.”
River smiled. “That’s good.”
“But you’re worried.”
“No. Not worried. Just …”
“Like an itch you can’t scratch?”
River looked into her niece’s brown eyes. “You feel it too?”
Bethie nodded. “Like when Fiddler scratches the door ‘cause he wants to be let out. Makes me feel …” She couldn’t think of the right word, and just wriggled instead. “Like that.”
“Exactly like that,” River agreed, her brow furrowed. “I just can’t seem to pinpoint it …”
“There’s light ahead,” Zoe said, pointing over Mal’s shoulder.
“I see it.”
“Can’t be daylight,” Jayne muttered. “Too deep.”
“Not sure what else it could be.” Mal moved forward, seeing an archway in front of them.
“Don’t step on the sill,” Hank warned.
“Why, what’ll it do?”
“I’m not sure you want to know.”
Mal rolled his eyes a little, but stepped over the rocky edge into the inner chamber. It was daylight, coming through a shaft dug through the roof and cut from the bedrock itself. “You know, the word ‘creepy’ has been overused in this context, far as I’m concerned, but I can’t rightly think of a better one.”
“Eerie,” came Hank’s voice. “Disturbing. Weird. Spine-chilling -”
The chamber was circular, with a domed roof, the light penetrating slightly off-centre. Opposite them, set into a small niche in the wall, was what they’d come for. Mal moved forward cautiously, feeling his hands dampening again. “There y’are,“ he said quietly. Then he added, “Anything I need to know about pickin’ this thing up?”
“Yeah. Don’t get splinters.”
“Zoe, I think you may be out a husband when we get back.”
“Don’t worry, sir. I’ll deal with him.”
Stretching his fingers a little, Mal reached forward …
Something must have moved. Perhaps the geosynchronous orbit wasn’t quite as stable as they’d believed, but suddenly a shaft of sunlight stabbed down through the narrow hole above.
Blinking hard in the unexpected light, they all turned, three jaws dropping like one as they saw a statue that had been sitting against the wall, hidden in the shadows, now glowing as if with internal illumination.
“What the hell …”
“Da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la doo-tze,” Jayne breathed, stepping forward, his hands raising to the figure that glittered with gold, gems sparkling on its surface …
“Don’t let him touch it!” Hank said loudly, deafening them in the ear-pieces.
Zoe grabbed Jayne, pulling him back, having to use all her strength.
“Jayne,“ Mal said, his tone the one he’d used back in the war, when he needed to be obeyed, no matter what.
“But it’s gold, Mal,” the big man insisted, nevertheless ceasing his struggling.
“It’s not,” Hank said urgently. “It’s a trick. A trap. Touch it and the whole floor gives way.”
“Pit?” Mal asked.
“And more spikes. Big, dirty, bloodstained spikes,” Hank agreed. “It’s not even gold, or jewels. It’s just another way to kill you.”
Mal tore his eyes away from the golden figure, and looked up the shaft to the tiny area of blue sky, and the relentless sun beating down. “That’s why they built here,” he said quietly. “Just for this.”
“So it ain’t gold?” Jayne asked, needing to be told again that all his dreams hadn’t just come true.
Nightmares, he seemed to hear in his mind, and he swallowed.
“No,” Mal agreed, going back to the other niche. “And it’s not what we came for anyway.” He looked at the old piece of wood, and could almost hear the Levites laughing in the background. He leaned forward and got hold of the plaque. It was heavier than he’d imagined, cold and somehow greasy in his hands. “Zoe.”
She pulled a thin blanket from the pack on his back, then helped him wrap it up. He was glad when he wasn’t actually touching it any more, although the greasiness seemed to remain on his fingers. She slid it into the pack, closing it securely. “Done, sir.”
“Good. Time we got the hell out of here.” He glanced once more at the statue, at Jayne standing staring, transfixed. “Hank, anything we need to worry about on the way back?” There was no reply. “Hank?” Still nothing. “If you’re playing games, this ain’t funny.”
Zoe tried. “Honey, you there?” Not a word, not even a bad joke. She looked at Mal.
“Great,” he muttered. “Just great.”
to be continued
Monday, March 24, 2008 1:17 PM
Monday, March 24, 2008 1:35 PM
Monday, March 24, 2008 2:55 PM
Monday, March 24, 2008 5:22 PM
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 2:34 AM
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 5:45 PM
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