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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Book has been vanished. Serenity taken hostage. Mal is getting annoyed. Kaylee's getting curious. Inara is getting ambassadorial.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1285 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: Credit where credit’s due – and that aint to me!
Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews – the pie’s all yours!
This story is set just prior to Those Left Behind.
Part four: There is a light
When he really wanted to Jayne Cobb could move with surprising quiet for a man of his size – following behind his gun to round the steps and enter the upper level of Serenity’s access bay. No/one heard him – no/one saw, but then this was routine – he’d lost count the number of time Zoë and him had had to creep to vantage, step up at the right moment and rain merry hell on any unfortunate son-of-a-hump dumb enough to be stood below, gun thumping, threatening, ugly, undesirable – hell, just plain not crew.
Honestly, he could have stayed longer in the tub.
Huh. It did gnaw on him some though wondering where the Tam girl had got to – hiding out in one of a thousand places Serenity had for just that purpose. It would be too much to hope she’d got back in her damn box. Yup, even Jayne knew that was one bird with no wings and never gonna fly.
The notion, that was.
Not the girl.
Hell, ‘cept the ruttin' crazy herself probably thought she had wings!
Still, that way maybe she’d jump off the balcony and break her fool neck – wouldn’t have to worry nights ‘bout that killer brain of hers the purple-bellies put in. Doc’ never did explain it, sparing my blushes just proves it’s gotta be bad.
Crouched low and leaning into the scope of his weapon, Cobb could see the Doctor himself. Looking a little outta sorts there Doc’, likely they won’t have you in the Core no more they see how your hair aint in place. Jayne’s finger was lying comfy against Vera’s trigger. How ‘bout I spare you the pain, huh Doc’?
Nah – not with a killer brain on the loose.
Aint sure how many men we got down there – plenty by my reckoning. Enough for a real ruckus any rate. Well gorram it, bring it on! Zoë can handle herself well as any, and she aint tied to no Captain’s apron strings right now. Can’t hurt the civilians mind – can’t shoot the children.
Dammit, Wash had no cover at all.
Could bury him under a couple of strangers maybe – that might work, like the time me and Mal had to lie under them cows, only better coz dead men don’t fart like – well not right-away anyhow.
Who would figure cows for ripping like that? Damn right I take it personal, Captain could laugh all he wanted – I could tell, them cows had a mean look, like - ‘you been hitting on our kind – time to take your medicine big man’.
Thought I might get some shooting in, hungry – dammit – what are they waiting on?
Jayne watched the armed men circling around – the way they made eye contact – or not, exchanged nods – or not, grins… or not. Didn’t take long to figure their Captain weren’t around. Jayne just hoped the fella would show up soon – be a damn shame to have to blaze out early on account of being unable to keep his belly quiet.
By now the sun was looking towards its siesta - as Kaylee squinted across the port to the ships parked up inside. It was sat content on the horizon like someone beach happy and spreading comfy in a deck chair, full on the contents of their lunch, full to belching and thinking - soon then maybe, yeah, a nice snooze.
There was gold light behind the familiar hunched shape of Serenity crouched like a rare bird protecting her nesting chicks. Off to one side, the two other ships, far smaller, soot blackened and plain – well they might as well be a couple of unwanted magpies and the sun, fat and gold though it be, could do nothing to make them look any better. Ugly plumes of exhaust were still rising from behind one of them – and there was a nasty rattling sound as the turbines wore down to idle.
Frowning under her hat, Kaylee huffed for a minute or two with her hands on the hips of her coveralls. Then she strolled up to the nearest of the unlike-able ships and planted a worn booted foot on the steps. She made little noise strolling in – but she was hardly hiding. No greetings though – she’d expected a curt “Lost your ship l’il miss?” or even a “Well don’t you just make a weary fella’s day?” truth be told. Kaylee was disconcerted to encounter only quiet. The small crew must have been eager to get gone.
Woulda had horseshoes pitched at you and a pile of bodies and yelling and such – this was Serenity by now.
Serenity was better.
“Ok Charles, that’s enough now – good boy.” Lucille Drayton smiled at her bullet headed ‘Brother’ Charles, beckoning him with a finger back to his seat. Still smiling – a set of perfect teeth - she said, “Now, Malcolm honey, just say what’s all the bother in you and let’s see if we can’t settle this friendly. Oh, you wanna drink or something? I could get Henrietta to fix you something when she gets back.”
She gave a coquettish jiggle of her head. She had long blonde hair and waving it about near blinded the ‘brother’ behind her.
Mal resisted the urge to rub a hand across his weary face. “No, well – and don’t think I aint appreciating of the offer but I’d just soon as get business over with.”
Lucille made a little clicking sound with her tongue. “Just spill the damn fuss Reynolds.”
“Fuss? I never mentioned fuss – well ‘cept the, y’know butting heads before – and for that I am sorry…”
“Or will be,” a gruff and weapon waving ‘brother’ corrected. He was wearing, Mal noticed, a dapper enough dark suit, white dice cufflinks matched the pearl handles of his pistols. Shiny.
“Fact is Lucille, I am damn tired of being taken for a hoe-tze every deal goes down. Damn tired. Got a crew ragged snappy as it is – wages, clothes, food. Hungry mouths… folk get snarky. So just tell me straight, why in the tyen shiao-duh did you send me oil when we dealt for wine? I would’ve taken oil. Why you gotta be all subterfuge-ing on me?”
When he was truly angered the skin on Mal’s face would stretch back unexpectedly, the skull beneath the skin – a wrathful dead man back from some anonymous valley grave. He may well have had a pistol in his hand and a fierce reputation for using it – but it was that face that could make even the indolent Lucille Drayton drew back.
“Aw now – you shouldn’t oughta take things so personal.”
“Tell me sugar – how come you been sniffin’ into my barrels anyhow?”
“My barrels now. Gorram – they aint even decent, broke like an egg on my hold. I like my hold, don’t need it messing.”
“Well that was most assuredly NOT supposed to happen. Barrels are supposed to have a very particular kinda seal.”
“Well seal’s open now!”
“And that’s just the trouble – goes to show, what you don’t know can’t hurt you.”
“And…” Mal’s voice was coming out slower and slower, people that knew him well would recognise this as a red alert signal. The Drayton’s did not know Malcolm Reynolds well. “What… am I not… supposed… to know?”
“Well gosh – that oil was to be handed over nice and quiet and that was supposed to be all.” Lucille smoothed a crease out of her skirt
Mal wanted to know a lot more. “Gonna deliver to Fanti and Mingo – they in on this?”
Lucille pursed her lips in disapproval. “Unsavoury boys – but middle men always are… you may just be a glorified gofer Malcolm, but you’re not a middleman. You should be glad of that. Fanti and Mingo are nothing, just handlers.”
“Handing to whom?”
Lucille made an elaborate fanning gesture. “Oh who can say – Some Alliance fellow most like, we don’t get so underhand out here, and all that science, science, science. I aint saying it don’t have its merits but – well – just don’t feel Independent to my way of thinking.”
“All for some gorram oil? We’re not talking three stars here are we?”
“Hell no, I wouldn’t have you… inconvenienced for something so crude.” She let loose a tittering broadside. “See what I did there?”
“Uh-huh, mainly not answer the question – STILL. What – is – it?”
Mal was getting restless – and he wasn’t alone. The guns in the men’s hands were pointing their snouts and sniffing eagerly. Lucille affected not to notice.
“S’posed to have these little crawly things in it, all working away – busy, busy. Mind, I aint saying I fully understand that fella’s ways but Jossiah”-
“The toy maker?”
“Oh he aint the average. Fact if he aint a genuine genius right here on our little ole planet, Candle’s very own. Says that oil can grow itself, can you imagine that? Mercy, what boys will get up to when they got no-one watching.”
Mal filed the info – time would come to think on it some more. Not just yet. “So, what’s in the deal for you?”
“Just money honey. Aint about nuthin’ less it’s about the money. Hey, Bulregard – your momma said that, if I’m not mistaken?”
One of the gun-handy ‘brothers’ nodded from behind a moustache like two wipers on a big mule’s windshield. The man’s eyes were button round.
“Hell if I know, never met the lady,” the man said. “Name aint Bulregard neither, it’s Stone.”
Lucille uh-huh-ed with her head, “Figures. Anyhow,” she continued, “Soon as I said ‘well ok honey, if it’ll really make you happy’ – dang if Jossiah don’t get all pickety pick about what crew we use. Malcolm Reynolds’s ship – gotta be.”
“Again, why me?”
“Well not on account of your delicate civilities! No, plain fact - he didn’t have but a passing interest in you, seems he knows your Preacher from a ways back. Merr’ and me gonna have a fine time fat-chewing, says he.”
Reynolds peered through the aggravating locutions of Lucille’s speech. “Aint got no preacher runs with me by that name. May be a lot of things, but one thing Shepherd aint – and that’s being named Merr’. It’s Derrial Book – and even I aint like to call him out as a liar.”
Lucille pretended alarm – she brought her palms flat to her lap, pouted and said finally, “Aw crap.”
Mal did the math. With a short but effective curse word – he turned on his heels and was out the door.
Lucille yawned. “Oh dear, just nothing is going right today. Ok Boys, you can kill him now.”
“’Bout ruttin’ time!” grunted one of the ‘brothers’ and they went through the door after Mal.
“I really don’t know…” Lucille purred to herself. “Boys – how absolutely terrible they are. Thank heavens for Sebastian, or I don’t know where I’d be.” She reached a delicate hand out for a drink from the table, held it up for a moment, admiring the champagne within. “Here’s to LoveBots™,” she said – and gulped it down.
Inside her shuttle Inara was doing her best to entertain and pacify Captain Lancy. The longer it took, the more chance for Mal to arrive – so she was trying to do both as quickly as possible and get it all over with before that happened.
Lancy was sat awkwardly on a large cushion his wide chaps were not ideally suited to the task. Quite what task they would be suited to – Inara couldn’t say – and didn’t want to know. She had spread the warrant across the sofa – so that he wouldn’t sit next to her. The air was heavy with perfume and incense, mostly Marjoram today.
Inara had scanned the document quickly but she wanted to be sure she’d memorised it – just in case she was forced to make a statement to the Guild.
“Well…” She said – looking surprised, “I never realised what a maverick Captain Reynolds is. I’m glad I’ve been away so often.”
Lancy made noncommittal noises, he was trying not to drool at the woman in her gossamer finery - and trying to spot surveillance cameras at the same time. Can’t be trusting no female – let alone a Guild whore.
Inara smiled. “Still,” she continued, pointing at the connex printout. “Most of these would seem to be Federal offences – if proved – and I believe that a Posse cannot take on Federal Law Enforcement, not without direct sanction. Is that not the case?” Merciful Buddha I hope so!
“Huh?” Lancy had to tilt his head to look Inara in the eye rather than the legs. He didn’t like it – how come he was the one looking up at her? Although…
Inara flicked the document pages again with a snapping sound. “Please – don’t let your tea go cold. Rosehip, it’s quite rare.”
“Oh, uh, sure…” Slurp. Some kind of flowery – what was that?
“So anyway,” Inara continued, “That just leaves the main authorisation, which is carried out on behalf of the estate of Rance Burgess?”
“Well, I believe there IS no estate – The Alliance has taken the territory for the time being. Claims such as yours will have to go through the court system – for which as I said, you don’t have authorisation.” She raised her hands and eyebrows both. “Bureaucracy, I know - what can you do?”
“The family wants his head.”
Inara’s eyelids fluttered daintily. “That’s as maybe – but the family have no sanction. I gather their estate has been confiscated since Burgess left everything to a son he never had. Seems he didn’t esteem women very highly… even his wife. There are no material witnesses to the alleged assault that it is claimed ultimately led to his murder. No witnesses to that either.”
“Gorram whores – who’d believe them harpies anyway?”
“Exactly, So you see – while Captain Reynolds may indeed be everything this document claims him to be, I’m afraid that using this ‘warrant’ as a justification for harming the man would only result in a great deal of trouble, with both the Guild and the Alliance. I suggest you file for official Federal assistance. You have the location of Reynolds and I’m sure the Alliance would be more than happy to oblige.”
Lancy’s face was a jaundiced sickly yellow. “Nearest ruttin cruiser is days away.”
“We promise not to go anywhere Captain. Indeed as an official member of the Guild, they can call for me anytime - and the case may well be resolved quicker that way. More tea?” Thank you Sheydra!
Lancy pushed back abruptly with his hands and levered himself to his feet.
“We’re outta here,” he growled, “but you can tell Reynolds this isn’t over.”
“I’ll do just that.”
Growling some more Lancy turned to go.
“Allow me to show you the way back.” Inara gave the merest hint of a curtsy.
Looking for a way out that might just surprise the heavies, Mal sprang at a door and went through it like the devil. Not a cupboard - that was something. It was a small room, pretty bare, some rugs, lace curtains, a divan – and a reclining figure. Young lad – asleep it appeared. The youth’s face was half turned to the wall. More posing, thought Mal sourly. Getting to be so everyone’s acting up.
Reynolds kept an ear to the door. He’s quiet though, grateful for that.
There was a hurried fumbling sound from out in the hall – the (ahem!) brothers, keen to hunt. Voices didn’t carry so well over the thump of hurried feet – but it didn’t sound like they were splitting up or anything helpful.
The back of his neck was prickling. He turned around. The lad on the divan was gazing at him coolly – pair of striking blue eyes, a feral leanness to his face.
‘Cept he wasn’t a he – being an ‘It’ point of fact. Really couldn’t say why – but Lovebot™s never did fool Mal.
“Can I help you stranger? What do you require?”
Mal imagined Lucille – she would describe the Bot’s voice as honey and ice – some such foolishness, no doubt. “A way out,” Mal said half-sarcastically, he didn’t expect a response. “Answers - Oh, few more guns, that’d help some.”
Something like a shudder passed through the body of the Bot. “Malcolm Reynolds,” it said.
“Woah, slow now – who – how?”
Most Bots were unlucky – owned by people far from interested in the potential capacity of their positronic brain. Sebastian was different. In a few seconds it had made the match between the security feed image it had on file - a blurry shot of Mal and Zoë on Ariel - and the man before him. Match found, a signal had been triggered and another signal received. That transmission made the Bot close its eyes momentarily before speaking again.
“Don’t be alarmed Captain,” the Bot said, “We’ve been expecting you. My name is Jossiah Bell; Sebastian is my vessel here in this house.”
“Well aint that something – better than a love slave though I imagine.”
“Captain, Sebastian is not a slave – cannot be so in fact. The word has no meaning for it. Oh, the word is in the dictionary alright, but…”
“He understands – but he doesn’t comprehend. That what you mean?”
“Very eloquently put Mr Reynolds.”
“Uh-huh, like to say I’m interested in your view on that – but I already asked the questions I need an answer to.”
“What a creature of the moment you are Captain,” said Bell, “very well.” Sebastian got up smoothly from the divan and walked across to a far wall. With a long fingered hand it made a strange pass – and there was a scraping sound as a panel opened up.
“Well now, this is a house of fun.”
Sebastian seemed to be listening to the aether – then blinking once it turned back to Mal. “I believe you have my oil Captain?”
“That’s possible.” Mal sounded nonchalant. “Believe you have my Shepherd.”
“Hmm… not so much of a Shepherd actually.”
“Not so much of the oil maybe,” Mal countered quickly.
“Follow me.” Sebastian/Bell was suddenly decisive, hunching down through the small exit.
“Poor Lucille,” Mal said dryly heading for the exit himself.
Kaylee ducked her head under the engine room air seal and scurried into the engine area proper. Hadn’t been hard to find, small ship and you just had to get to the place the air wasn’t. Turbines had stopped, glad of that.
It was worth asking again, Kaylee hadn’t met a solitary soul – like the whole crew lit out at once, but Kaylee had heard… something - maybe nothing.
She paused, tucking a fine strand of red hair back behind her ears. Hotter than Serenity even, she thought, grabbing her hat off to use for a fan. She could taste the raw fuel too. Serenity was many things – and most all them far from glamorous – but she didn’t go out to slow herself down and poison the crew at the same time.
She heard the sound again, a whisper – a breath, a metallic rattle. They got some kind of pet down here?
Another indeterminate scuttling sound. Almost like River when she’s spooked.
“Hey – I’m friendly! Really am! No need for shy. Come on out – let me tell you ‘bout your engines. And you can tell me who you are… and where everybody got to.”
There was a shuffling sound again. “Men took off – just 'fore you came. It’s good really. Yeah, they’ve gone…”
This time a pale face flickered in and out from between the grill work to the side of the bulbous pulser engines. “Shawn,” it was barely a voice. Despite the shadows, Kaylee could see the bruising upside the face. “Wow. No. Hey, maybe,” the whisper continued, “uh, Paige? Paige is a nice name.” There was a sudden wide grin. Kaylee was glad when it was gone.
“I’m a bad mechanic,” said the non-voiced apparition. “I’m a bad mechanic.”
Kaylee crossed fingers inside her hip pocket and shook her head firmly. “No, don’t say that. It’s true huh? No/one ever finds out who the bad mechanics are – coz they never get found at ALL, see?”
Something like a smile – but not so much. Still, Kaylee saw it, flickering uncertainly on the sorrowful face. For an instant. Still looked… wrong.
“I…” Shawn/Paige began, “thought about it y’know… I could do it, lotta ways when you work an engine… lotta ways…”
Work an engine? What are engines now – kitchen stations? Kaylee hoped she’d kept her friendly face on.
And she must have too because with a lurch the figure stumbled out from behind the pulser housing – but if the friendly face was there, it went away quick as one of Shawn/Paige’s ‘smiles’. Kaylee loosed a low long gasp of Chinese. As she staggered forward, it was clear that Shawn/Paige could barely stand, her skinny legs looked twisted in opposite directions. One thigh, under a rip of material that might just have been a skirt once, was rent by five deep scratches. And what Kaylee had took for bruising – looked more like bites. Shawn’s hair had been rough sheared, frazzled almost – just a clump of nothing, but it was a red nothing, same colour as Kaylee’s own. It made her feel sick. And worst of all – the girl was chained to the engine. Chained.
“Who done this to you sweety?” Kaylee’s concern was the cork in a bottle of rage.
Shawn/Paige gave a weird laugh. “Oh well, y’know – most everyone.”
“I’m a bad mechanic.”
That was enough of that.
“Ok, well – you wanna see what a gorram good – hell, the damn best - mechanic can do?”
There was a broken approximation of a nod from the girl. “Yeah… Ok… sure… wow.”
“Shiny.” Kaylee grinned. “You know I came here to fix things on this fei-oo ship – and that’s EXACTLY what I’m gonna do.”
There is darkness – and a girl in the darkness. She is moving – her hands and feet are insect like, feelers almost and pads – they sense the enclosing surfaces invisible to her eyes, they find walls, flooring – and hold her body in space. She moves through the darkness, she breathes the dark metallic air and she feels… so many things, there, deep in the dark - and deeper still.
“There is a light.”
She hears the voice quite distinctly. My voice… she thinks. “There is a light.” But was she speaking? A pale face that might have been hers - once, thrashing under the hands of a stranger – and the weight of the light in her eyes. “There is a light…”
“That’s perfectly normal.”
“There is a light.”
The feelings – flowed through her like water and drained away into the dark. She was not afraid of the dark. There was peace in the dark – Serenity…
But there was little time.
“There is a light.”
River Tam could see it now - the end of the tunnel – a bright glow, fierce like a far off sun. She was crawling towards it, her sensitive eyes asquint, bare hands and feet still flat to the tubing of the repair duct she had crawled into.
And there was a light. She lifted herself up and into it. Making no sound, she crouched for a moment, let herself watch – just look.
There was a man and a woman – she could see them. The man was a bad man and he wanted to hurt the woman – but he wasn’t going to. The woman was beautiful, there were tiny stars in her hair, but her heart was broken. River could feel it. It hurt. She wanted to go to the woman – she could be her heart. “Mine beats,” she would say.
But the woman was too far off and bad things were gong to happen. Even though the beautiful woman was smiling, even though the bad man was raising his hand and lowering it again and that was a signal for the other bad men, below her, for the other bad men to go away.
Even with the face of her brother catching sight of her – and his eyes were wide and his heart was NOT broken – she could feel it beating – warm, there was love – she could feel the weight of it.
River slipped sideways, she found the fast ladder down and leapt down it clean, landing without effort and without looking behind – can’t look, mustn’t look. The other man, the big man with the girl’s name, he was going to bring the bad things now – she didn’t need to see him to know. He had been waiting for the other man and now it could start. And now she had to run.
So she ran. She covered the distance to the loading bay ramp before anyone had even noticed her. Leapt through the gap and down into the dust, rolled and back on her feet again.
Stumbling away in the hot red glow of the sun lashed waste ground – her eyes narrowed tight – pained, her mouth open - River ran as fast she could go. It wasn’t fast enough – as the shooting started she put fists to hers ears, pressing them hard into the pale flesh. She did not stop running.
There is darkness – there is a man in darkness – a darkness come alive and riven with a thousand sparks – no heat from these cold sparks… and the man in the dark is very cold. He moves invisible in the dark, suspended between air and water – between breathing and drowning. The man knows he must stay awake, keep breathing, keep floating - keep swimming. So hard when you don’t have a body, when you can’t see but the darkness and the cold sparks, the patterns they make. This is my blood – do this in remembrance of – my blood is patterning the back of my eyes – me - that’s all.
The man knows it is true – even as he gasps, splutters, coughs – but still, there are livid fiery shapes breeding in the dark… in the black. It sends men mad they say – coming unto darkness they become… unmanned, become the beast.
No, no, this is just – blood on the back of my eyes – colouring the dark – that’s all. That’s what I can see… Alchemy of sorts, from darkness come white spirals and purple – purple for passion – yes, they covered the face of the saviour with purple – the colour of the cloth – how many crosses polished by the hand of the carpenter with a rich purple cloth…?
There is a man in the water, under the earth, below the town, in the cold coal blackness, alone in the dark.
End of Pt 4
Next chapter – the conclusion…
The true properties of J.Bell’s oil are finally revealed.
River, Mal and Book discover some connections.
Serenity gets bullet happy… Jayne gets aggravated.
Kaylee and Shawn get to work.
Hope this chapter made sense in itself…
All comments much appreciated!
Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:23 AM
Saturday, May 10, 2008 4:58 AM
Saturday, May 10, 2008 6:01 AM
Sunday, May 11, 2008 7:08 AM
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 4:06 AM
Friday, August 29, 2008 3:42 PM
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