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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal needs coin. The Alliance Spins takes place after the battle on Mr. U's moon and the end of the BDM.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1152 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Title: The Alliance Spins, Part 3 of 6
Summary: Mal needs coin.
Rating: PG for language
Pairings: Canon, if any
Spoilers/Timeline: post battle on Mr. U’s moon but before the end of the BDM
Disclaimer: No money is being made from this by me and I certainly don’t own Firefly/Serenity.
Author's Note: This fic takes place within my FicVerse. If you’re a little lost see my blog entry here.
The Alliance Spins, Part 3
Walking out of Harvey’s Shiny RepairYards, Mal paused outside the gate surprised at the sight before him. In the four years since he had left here, Marseilles New had experienced great changes. Before the war, Hera’s Xiang Kao served as the main hub for commercial trade from the Core to the border planets. The war, however, left that city in ruins. Seeing an opportunity to recoup fortunes lost in the war, several influential Persephone families pooled what resources they had left and successfully persuaded key Alliance bureaucrats of the advantage of giving Marseilles New preferential status. In the seven years since the war ended, Marseilles New saw its population quadruple as commercial trade gradually approached pre-war levels.
Such was his aversion to this city that Mal had diligently avoided the entire eastern hemisphere of Persephone in an attempt to keep his distance from it. Of course, being the enterprising crook that he was, he’d kept up with the happenings about town so he was aware that the major commercial trade routes had now been diverted here. Still, he was unprepared for the extent of MarNew’s transformation in such a short time.
Mal, Inara, and Kaylee set off on their shopping excursion. Kaylee figured it was cheaper to buy all the parts their own selves then hire out to outside contractors for the big jobs requiring heavy and expensive equipment. Their goal today was to approximate the costs involved in getting Serenity back to in business.
Kaylee was like a kid in a candy shop ooing and aahing as they visited various parts and supplies stores. Each different shop they visited saw Kaylee’s enthusiasm increase. Unable to hold a grudge in her excitement, she’d forgiven Mal for his earlier brutish remarks and smiled up at him as she held up various mechanical items for his consideration.
Inara, for her part, assumed the role of negotiator. Even without any technical expertise, she skillfully negotiated the contractors down to more reasonable prices. To Mal, her ruse seemed obvious, but these guys were falling for her act hook and line and at any other time, he would have been amused to see her charm the hapless contractors and sweet talk them into lowering their rates. But now, too much money was at stake. Money he didn’t have.
Each visit to the different vendors saw his mood turn darker and darker. His foul temper must have been obvious judging from the wayward looks he was receiving from the other pedestrians. None too soon, the shopping trip was over.
Kaylee wandered ahead wanting to find something for River.
Mal and Inara continued on to Serenity in silence as Mal mentally tallied the projected costs of repairing Serenity. His thoughts turned to his decided lack of funds at the moment. The tow from Mr. Universe’s moon had taken a sizable chunk of his Lilac earnings. Even though he knew they wouldn’t protest, he refused to consider asking the crew for their takes. Mal mulled over his few options for coin in this situation.
It wasn’t long before Inara raised the inevitable question.
“Mal, I have to ask. How are you getting this kind of money?”
Though he didn’t want her asking he did give her credit for waiting until Kaylee was out of earshot.
“From where exactly?”
He gave her a look. She knew what a man like him had to do to get that kind of money quicklike.
“You can’t possibly be contemplating borrowing from a gāo lì dài! Don’t you have enough people after you as it is?”
“Think some fancified banker’s takin’ a chance on me? I got a half destroyed ship. No ship. No jobs.”
“Don’t you think you have enough trouble as it is?”
“Where do you suggest I go?”
She hesitated before speaking. “I can help.”
Mal honestly wasn’t expecting that. He glanced at her seeing only concern in her dark eyes.
“Whorin’ pay that good, huh? Not a chance, Inara.”
“Why not?” She signed wearily. “Why must you be so difficult about things?”
“Ain’t bein’ difficult. Don’t want your money, is all.”
“Blood money is better than come money. Is that it?”
Mal hated it when she turned crude and damned if she didn’t know it.
“I ain’t takin’ your gorramn money! This conversation is over.” Mal stalked off.
He kept walking.
She followed him calling for him to stop. When he continued she rushed forward stopping in front of him.
“Just so you know I don’t have that kind of money.”
That got his attention.
“But I know someone who does.”
In the span of an instant, his expression changed from interested to outraged.
“If I ain’t takin’ your whorin’ money why in God’s name do you think I’d take your john’s?”
“I am not referring to a client.” She looked down looking suddenly shy. “My grandparents.”
Mal gave her a hard look.
“So the Companion comes from money, does she?”
She met his angry gaze. “I suppose it was easier for you to think I was a poor waif and became a Companion because I had no other options?”
Exactly. Mal spent a considerable amount of time pondering the mystery that was Inara. His favorite fantasy, other than the sexual kind, involved her being a poor orphan adopted into the Guild. He liked to think she was loyal to the Guild because they saved her from a difficult life. Well, another illusion shattered.
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
“I ain’t takin’ their money neither.”
“You wouldn’t be taking anything. It would be a loan.”
“Call it what you like. I ain’t a charity case.” He started to walk away.
“Charity case!? Mal, you are unbelievable. You would rather take money from someone who would kill you or, if you’re lucky, treat you like Niska. I promise you, lǎo ye and lǎo lao would not resort to such methods.”
“Don’t doubt that.” He turned to her. She was looking at him earnestly. Her worry for him unhidden. When she looked at him like that he couldn’t help but soften. “ ‘Sides, Mama always told me not to borrow from friends.”
“Well, I’m sure in this situation she wouldn’t mind.”
“There’s a hell of a lot about this situation she’d mind.” He started off, calling over his shoulder, “Ain’t gonna be beholden to anyone, Inara.”
“Except someone who specializes in doling out pain?” She yelled or came as close to hollering as she could.
He waved her off but stopped. Not looking at her, he said, “The others don’t need to know anything ‘bout this. Dong ma?”
“Just find Kaylee and get back to Serenity. And keep everyone on her ‘til I get back.”
Leaving the dock district, Mal walked purposefully through familiar streets and alleyways. He could have taken a leisurely roundabout route to Fiona’s but why put off the inevitable? Pausing in front of one nondescript building, his eyes focused on the third floor to a smallish window slightly off center. The place looked as drab as ever. Drabbier, if that was possible. He couldn’t believe he had spent a year living in that small, crappy apartment. The apartment assigned to him by some nameless Londinium pencil pusher.
Someone abruptly jostled him pulling him back into the present. Automatically, Mal reached into his pocket to make sure he hadn’t been robbed. This wasn’t the best neighborhood in MarNew. Nor was it the worst. The worst was three blocks over: his destination.
Several minutes later he stopped in front of a sad looking shop that obviously hadn’t been included in MarNew’s growing economic upswing. A faded sign read: Fiona’s Pawn and Trade Shop. Fiona, whoever that was, hadn’t been in the picture for at least five years.
He paused just outside the store bracing himself for the upcoming unpleasantness. Begging never sat well with him. His hand reached into his pocket and tightened on the small box he had brought from his quarters.
“Ok, let’s do this,” he murmured to himself.
Stepping into the shop, he made his way through the crowded aisle to the back of the shop. He had no interest in the various household items, jewelry, tools and weapons that adorned the shop. Mal walked directly to the counter where a disheveled clerk thumbed through a girlie mag.
“You sellin’ or buyin’?” An apathetic voice called out.
“Need to see Sunny.”
That sparked the bored clerk’s interest. He looked up regarding Mal suspiciously.
“No one here by that name,” the man said.
“Just tell her Malcolm Reynolds needs to speak with her.”
With a last contemptuous glance toward Mal, the man turned and spoke into a com. Mal didn’t understand the language but presumed it to be Korean.
Ending the call, the man gave Mal a belligerent look. “Someone will be here to take you back.”
Mal turned away from the other man’s hostile scrutiny and idly looked over the shop. He’d swear this was the same junk that had been here years ago. ‘Course, Sunny didn’t earn her money in this front of a shop.
His eye fell on a colorful piece of fluff that otherwise had no business here. Someone had peddled their vacation wear. The loud, tropical shirt hanging on the opposite wall drew his attention. Held it. A fresh wave of guilt washed over him.
“Mr. Reynolds, come with me.”
Mal turned to see a small, slight man of about thirty standard years. The small man was neatly attired in a fashionable, shimmery green suit. The apparent foppishness of the man didn’t fool Mal. Sunny didn’t hire on weak pretty-boys. She favored strong and lethal pretty-boys.
Mal followed Green Suit through the back of the store and out the backroom door. Without conversation, they continued on down a ramshackle alley until they turned down another even more decrepit one. At one particularly battered door, the man keyed in a code on a remote and the door swung open.
Taking a deep breath, Mal followed him in. The dimly lit room stank of old sweat. Several overhead fans moved slowly succeeding only in spreading the warm, rank air about the room. Green Suit made his way past the rows of women sitting at old sewing machines. One washed out woman, whom Mal suspected was far younger than she appeared, glanced up as he and the other man passed by. She and Mal looked at each other for a second before she listlessly returned to her work.
Green suit led Mal up a flight of stairs and down a dark corridor until they reached a familiar black door. It looked almost the same save for a few patched up bullet holes. Mal’s stomach tightened. Yep, here he was approaching someone he swore he’d never again do business with.
Green suit knocked and was let in by an older man whom Mal recognized. Jin Lee hadn’t changed at all. The big man still favored yellow garb. The color did not suit him in the slightest but no one had the nerve to tell him otherwise. Mal nodded a greeting which Lee acknowledged.
“Malcolm Reynolds! I always knew you’d be knocking on my door again.” An insincerely sweet voice drawled.
Mal looked over at the woman perched, in what she thought to be an alluring pose, on the corner of her big, red desk. Sunny Dae was of Korean heritage and liked to boast that she was a direct descendant of Korean royalty. If he had a bit for every person who claimed to come from Earth royalty he wouldn’t have to be in this shark’s path.
“Sunny Dae. Looks like things are going well for you.” He noted that business must be really good because her outfit fairly screamed “Look at Me! I’m Rich!” Her clothes were expensive but too youngish for her fifty-odd years. She dressed as she figured young Core folk dressed but she projected a vibe no respectable Core citizen ever would. Especially considering the two thugs at her back.
“I can’t complain. Business has been consistently good. I’m sure you’ve noticed how our little city has grown. New opportunities every day.” She allowed him to see her casually look him over. She did this to reinforce that her fortunes had increased while his remained the same. “And how have you been since you left the docks?”
“No doubt. I’m guessing you’re not here to ask me on a date?” As if on cue, a couple of her well dressed goons laughed at her little joke. Mal suspected that during her interview process, it was made clear that anyone in her employ had to adore her.
“What’s on your mind?” Sunny asked.
“Need a loan.” He didn’t allow himself to pause; he didn’t want her to know how difficult this was for him.
She raised an eyebrow. “A loan?” With that bit of information, she abandoned her friendly manner and sat down behind her desk. She didn’t invite Mal to sit in one of the plush chairs in front of her desk.
“What do you need that for?”
“Ship repairs.” God, he hated this.
“You still got that old firefly?”
“Honey, that ship’s not worth that much! Scrap it. Sell what’s left and then buy another one.”
“I’m askin’ for money, not advice.”
“I give somebody six, I need to protect my investment,” Dae said. She looked at Mal drawing out the moment. “Collateral?”
He gave her a look.
“The ship in question, I take it. Not enough. What else you got?”
He looked at her for a few moments before reaching into his pocket. Pulling out the small box, he set it on her desk.
Opening the box, she looked up at him in surprise. “This real silver?” The question was asked idly; she didn’t need anyone to tell her the worth of a piece. Holding up the cross, she examined it closely.
Mal told himself that it was just an object. Just a trinket that didn’t mean anything to him anymore.
After her inspection, she looked at him shrewdly for a few seconds before speaking.
“Here’s the deal, Malcolm. And you’re only getting it because you did me a favor once upon a time. I give you the money at fifteen percent. First payment due one month.”
“Need more time. Once the ship is fixed, then we can get jobs. With Serenity land ridden as she is, prospects are slim.”
“So, you want me to give you money and you’ll start paying me back…when? A few months?”
“You’ll get your money. Just hopin’ that our prior dealings would slack me a little.”
She nodded, thinking over his proposal. Exchanging a glance with the Lee, she said, “I need a gesture of good will.”
Mal was afraid it was going to come to this. Sunny wasn’t stupid. He was asking her to extend a measure of trust that most in his position never received.
“What do you have in mind?”
“I’m getting together a crew for a one time job and a vacancy just came up. I’m not using my own on this one. My role is strictly ghost. Do you understand?”
He nodded. Mal had the bad feeling he was fixing to borrow himself into more trouble. Problem was he couldn’t see a way out of it. Suddenly, Inara’s offer began working its way through his brain but he refused to consider it. He couldn’t allow her to view him as a charity case.
“Good. The crew I’m getting together won’t know each other. That way if anyone gets pinched there’ll be less singing. And, if I remember correctly, you’re quite tone deaf.”
“Never was much for singing.” At least not the kind she was referring. His mind briefly recollected Sunday mornings on Shadow.
“I’m extending you a lot. But know this: You don’t pay me my money, I’ll not only keep your lovely family heirloom, I’ll sell your ship for scrap and indenture your ass fast as you can say…don’t.”
“Won’t come to that.”
“I hope not.”
A knock sounded at her door.
“Lee will walk you back. He’ll be by tomorrow with your coin and to fill you in on the details of the job. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my next appointment is here.”
She didn’t offer her hand in the time honored gesture of closing a business deal signaling to Mal that his position with her had changed.
As he followed Lee out the door, Sunny called out to him.
“I like you, Malcolm. Always did. You’re one of the few people in our line of work whose word I feel I can rely on. I’m counting on you to pay me back.” She looked at him steadily. He knew she didn’t want this deal to go bad. But, like Niska told him, reputation is everything. Especially in this damned business.
“I’d really hate to see you hacking in a mine. Which is where you will most definitely find yourself if you don’t make good on this loan.”
Mal and Lee walked back to Fiona’s in silence. Upon reaching the back door, Mal started in but Lee stopped him.
“Don’t disappoint Sunny. You make good with this thing and she’ll be easier on you, get it?” He extended his hand. Mal took it expecting a power-play grip but the man just shook it businesslike and walked away.
Mal walked back through the shop remembering not to look to the left and see the tropical shirt.
Friday, May 02, 2008 3:37 PM
Friday, May 02, 2008 7:51 PM
Friday, May 02, 2008 11:34 PM
Saturday, May 03, 2008 4:16 AM
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