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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Heading back to Ariel with hardly any injuries, Mal thinks the worst is over. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1605 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Dust,” Kaylee said succinctly.
“What?” Mal stared at her.
“Dust. In the terminals.” She blew sharply into the torch then screwed it back together. As she pressed the switch, a beam of light sprang forth, almost blinding him. “Dust.”
Mal squinted and held up his hand. “I thought they were sealed.”
“Kaylee, we didn’t open ‘em.”
“It was still dust.”
Mal shook his head. “All I know is they stopped working.”
“Well, they’re fine now.” She glanced in at her husband where he was still checking Hank out, asking him to raise his arms and where it hurt when he did, Zoe standing close by. “Just a coincidence,” she added.
“That kinda coincidence might’ve caused us problems if we hadn’t already been on our way back,” Mal pointed out.
“But you’re fine and everything’s shiny.”
“Don’t you fret, Cap’n. I’ll go through them all, and make sure the charger’s working okay.”
“And the booster? Have to say, it was more than a little disconcerting to suddenly be without communications down in those tunnels, as well as light.”
“I’ll take a look, see if I can figure out what happened.”
“Good.” He knew he sounded cranky, so he pulled a smile from somewhere and put his hand on her shoulder. “And thanks.”
“No problem, Cap.” She grinned at him. “Now I’d better go get cooking, if we intend to be eating any time soon.”
“That’s an idea.” He watched her run up the stairs. “Can I bottle her energy?” he said quietly to Freya as she stood next to him.
“I doubt it. It’s uniquely Kaylee.”
“Prob’ly.” He shook his head slightly. “Still favouring that shoulder, though, I see.”
“Her shoulder. Where she dislocated it. Rubs it when she thinks no-one’s looking.”
Something in her tone made him look at her. She seemed odd, almost ill-at-ease. “You okay?” he asked.
“Frey. This is me.” He turned enough so he could see directly into her face. “What is it?”
“I didn’t pick it up,” Freya said softly.
“Hank. I was concentrating so hard on you, that I … he could have fallen and I –“
Mal stopped her lips with a finger. “Can’t see everything, ai ren.”
“Then what’s the point of being a Reader?” she snapped back.
“I guess there ain't none,” he admitted calmly. “Not with what they did to you to make you one.”
“Don’t patronise me!” She glared at him, but the anger died quickly in her eyes. “Oh, Mal, I'm sorry. I didn’t mean to … it isn’t your fault I –“
He stroked her back, almost feeling her tattoo pulsing. “It’s okay. I think that place had everyone spooked.”
Simon came to the doorway. “You can come in now,” he said, wiping his hands on a paper towel.
“My pilot fit to fly?” Mal asked, stepping over the sill.
“Fit, yes. Recommended, no.” Simon glanced at the man on the medbed. “I’d rather he took it easy for a few days. He wrenched his back somewhat, and sitting in the chair on the bridge for long periods of time probably won’t do it much good.”
“I can do it,” Freya offered, wanting to make up for her ill-temper of earlier. “I think I can manage to fly us to Ariel.” She sketched a smile. “Without getting us too lost.”
“Hey, wait a minute. I am still here, you know,” Hank complained. “And it’s my job to get us from place to place.”
“Not if I say no,” Mal put in. “Simon thinks you need to rest, you rest.”
“But Mal –“
“That’s an order.” He saw the young doctor staring at him. “What?” he asked.
Simon closed his jaw. “I think that’s the first time you’ve let me do my job without arguing.”
“First time for everything, doc.” Mal chuckled. “Permaybehaps I'm just holding being cantankerous in reserve ‘til we get this job done.”
“I’ll look forward to it,” Simon said dryly.
“Hey, can I get my hand looked at now?” Jayne asked, hanging in the doorway.
“No rest for the wicked.” Simon waved him inside. “Exactly how did you do this again?”
“Stuck it on something on a wall.” He pulled the handkerchief away and held it out to Zoe. “Thanks.”
“Jayne, you put that through the wash first,” River admonished gently as she waited in the common area, Caleb in her arms.
“Oh.” He shrugged. “Okay.” He stuffed it into his pocket.
Simon pulled on a pair of latex gloves. “Let me see.”
Jayne obligingly held out his hand. “Still bleeding a bit,” he noted as Simon poured a little water over it to clean the skin.
“Hmmn.“ Simon touched it gently around the edge. “Yes. I think there might be something still inside the wound.” He reached into a drawer and pulled out a probe and a pair of needle-nose forceps.
“Hey, I don’t think it needs that,” Jayne said, starting to back away.
“And I don’t think you want it to get infected, do you?”
“That would mean having to have it drained, cleaned out, stitched up.” Simon looked into the other man’s blue eyes. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it is your gun hand, isn’t it?”
“Hell, I can fire almost as well with my left as –“
“Jayne.” River didn’t speak loudly, but he reacted as if she’d shouted.
“Okay, okay,” he grumbled. “Just … get it over with quick.”
“I’ll give you a broad spectrum antibiotic as well,” Simon went on, poking into the wound and removing another fragment of plaster. “Heaven knows what you could pick up down there.”
“Weren’t the worst of it.” Jayne winced. “Hey, be a bit more careful!”
“And you should be more careful where you put your hands.”
“I think it’s the curse,” Hank put in from the medbed.
“Curse?” Jayne glared at him.
“I was trying to tell Frey earlier.” He swung his legs over the edge of the bed, stifling a groan as his battered muscles protested. Zoe put her hand on his arm, and he smiled up at her.
“What about a curse?” the big man pushed.
“Simon was telling me some of the other stuff he found out.”
Jayne turned back to look at the doctor. “You did?”
Simon glanced up. “Do you want me to tell you about my research, or do this right?”
“Can’t you do both?”
“Can’t you not get hurt just once in a while?”
Jayne bristled and Mal stepped forward, interrupting before more blood than could be spared was shed. “Hank, what the hell are you talking about?”
The pilot leaned forward, glad to be sharing his knowledge. “Cursed. There’s some old document that says anyone removing it from its home will be doomed to wander the world until it’s returned to its rightful place.” He laughed. “Of course, as its rightful home is Earth-that-was, it was probably taking something of a poetic licence. Goes on to say if anyone removes it from the temple, luck will not be theirs until the last sound of the battle trumpet.” He grinned again. “I looked it up too.”
“It says that?”
“It goes on a bit about ritual disembowelment, that sort of thing, but I thought you’d only want the gist of the matter.”
“Gorramit,” Jayne complained, twitching slightly.
“Jayne, keep still,” Simon ordered.
“But he’s talking about -”
“There’s no such thing as curses.”
“But you -”
“I was just talking, for the sake of something to say, and I really wish I’d kept my mouth shut.” He glared at the big man. “Now, are you going to stay still while I put a weave on this or do I have to sedate you?”
Freya shook her head, her lips curving slightly. “I think I’d better see if I can’t get us to Ariel quicker,” she said, putting her hand on Mal’s arm. “Or there might be murder done.”
Mal hadn’t had the chance to take a good look at the plaque as he’d wrapped it in the blanket, but his curiosity had finally got the better of him, and as Serenity settled down for the night, he put off heading for his bunk to take a look.
The catch clicked on the wall section in the cargo bay, and he lifted it easily away. He bent down to reach inside, then recoiled back as a wave of cold air rolled out, misting in the bay atmo. Okay, that was odd. Shouldn’t be like that.
He shook his head. Probably just his imagination, he told himself. The mist had already dissipated, as if it had never been. Get a grip, Mal, his inner captain said. Nothing to be concerned about here. Just Hank going on about curses. He almost smiled. That man needed his mouth duct-taped and thrown in the hold occasionally.
Leaning into the hole, he pulled out the backpack, sliding the fabric-wrapped bundle from inside. It still seemed a lot heavier than it had a right to be, and as he undid the blanket, he could see it wasn't just wood. At least, not wood anymore. There was a stone-like quality to it, and he realised he was looking at a piece of petrified wood, and quite possibly thousands of years old, if not millions. He shuddered slightly. Probably the oldest thing he’d ever handled.
Holding it by the edge, he ran his hand across the carving, then rubbed his fingertips into his palm. It felt almost wet, greasy, like fresh blood. Okay, that’s enough, he told himself. Hank was definitely due an appointment with the hold. He turned the plaque, trying to see what the carving actually was, as it was worn here and there, touched by a multitude of hands, maybe. Trying to catch the light in just the right way, he …
Ah. Right. Maybe the feeling of spilled blood wasn't so far wrong after all.
He shook his head. Had Levi Bailey found this somewhere, and decided it was appropriate to his religion? Or maybe one of his followers had contributed it, later on down the line. Whatever the process, it certainly fit in with the rest of Ling Miao.
Four figures, one at each corner of the plaque. It wasn't clear if they were male or female, or even if they were clothed, but they were each turning some kind of wheel. The fifth figure, in the middle, was attached by ropes. That was most definitely male, rendered much more realistically. So much so Mal could almost hear the snapping of tendons, ligaments stretched beyond breaking point, and the endless, eternal scream emanating from the open mouth.
For a long moment he wondered what Dr Bell could possibly find interesting in this nightmare, then he remembered the look of avaricious acquisition in the old man’s eyes. Maybe it wasn't what it was – maybe it was just the owning. He surely hoped so.
He almost dropped the plaque, gripping it in his fingers at the last moment. Frey? He looked up towards the bunks.
Leave that now. Come to bed.
He glanced down at the ancient wood again, wondering what possessed someone to carve it. It’s pretty … disgusting.
Mal swallowed, somewhat thickly, as he wrapped it back up, hiding the horror of someone’s imagination. Least, he had to believe it was imagination, and not done from life. Pushing it quickly back into the bag, he dropped it inside the smuggler’s hold, sealing it tight. He wiped his hands down his pants and straightened up. I think I need a shower, he thought firmly. That’s made me feel all kinds of dirty.
I've got our towels ready.
Our towels? He was already climbing the stairs, two at a time.
I thought you might like company.
He smiled even as he stepped through the top door. Any particular reason?
I need to apologise. For earlier.
Not needed, ai ren. He rounded the corner of the corridor, finding her standing waiting for him.
“Yes it is.” She looked at him, her face serious. “I shouldn’t take things out on you.”
“Hey, darlin’ that’s what I'm here for.” He smiled wider. “You can take out whatever you like on me. Whenever you like.”
“I don’t like. Taking it out on you, I mean.” She stepped closer to him. “It makes me feel bad.”
“Can’t be having that,” he said softly, putting his hand on her waist. “The kids asleep?”
“Out like lights.”
“The rest of the crew?”
She concentrated, two little lines appearing between her eyebrows. “Zoe’s trying to make Hank comfortable but he keeps making inappropriate suggestions. Caleb’s wakeful so Jayne’s reading him a bedtime story. Simon and Kaylee …” She wrinkled her nose. “That’s disgusting.”
Mal suppressed a chuckle. “They’re having sex?”
“If you can call that kind of … oh, yuck.”
Now Mal did laugh. “You sound like your son.” He leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose. “Prude.”
“I am not a prude!”
“No?” He pulled her in closer, the towels in her arms stopping him from feeling her down the length of his body.
“No.” She smiled slowly. “Well, maybe a little.”
“Makes me love you all the more, Frey.” His grin faltered as the figures from the plaque slid into his mind again.
“Don’t worry,” she assured him. “I’ll make you forget.”
“I just realised. We don’t have to kill ourselves getting to Ariel.”
”Course we rutting do!”
“No, there’s a better way.”
“Look, I’ve got plans for that Reynolds, and most of ‘em entail having him strung up on a hook in front of me and me with a sharp knife cutting that arrogant smile off his face …”
“I know. And you still can. But there’s another option for making sure that happens. One that don’t leave us at the mercy of the Feds.”
“What the diyu are you talking about?”
“Just listen a minute …”
to be continued
Thursday, March 27, 2008 11:41 PM
Friday, March 28, 2008 6:47 AM
Saturday, March 29, 2008 5:21 PM
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