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SPACEANJL

The Road to Haven: Chapter 4: In Strange Pursuit of Alternative Truths
Thursday, June 12, 2008

More WytchAnJl weirdness. What secrets does this old ship hold?


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chapter four: In Strange Pursuit of Alternative Truths

Simon is swimming, moving with the blood warm current, ebb and flow of the playful water, the colour rich lagoon - coral structures are a half buried alien world, the glitter and shine. The boy is drawn by the beckoning undulations of reeds, anemones, urchins – the shy dance of a thousand silver fish flickering in and out of his peripheral vision.

He is six today. And his family are celebrating with a holiday, a private resort. But these details are fast fading from his mind under the spell of the waters and the aquatic treasures spilling before him, the heady rush of freedom that comes from surrendering to the tide. Surrendering completely.

He is in heaven.

........

“So it IS rubber,” Jayne head-butts the wall. Bouncy – kinda fun even.

“Of a sort,” Noakes rubs the droop of his moustache. “Smart polymers most likely – but the principal is basic since avalanche protection… You ever been buried in the snow, Jayne?”

“Nope. Been buried under most everything else, though.”

“Well, you ever minded to go mountaineering – you might wanna carry a bubble with you. Thing’s pressure balanced, you get some angry snow come down and whoop! Damn thing’ll inflate right around you. Save your life at that.”

Jayne has a mercenary’s instinct for the useful where survival’s concerned. Nods appreciation, “Sounds handy.”

“So, you got the same show here – just buried in space, not snow. Plastic’s more advanced naturally, knows what it’s doing, when to stop growing – and maybe the inside gets done the same way.”

Jayne starts as the Shepherd says,

“Nano-technology you mean.”

“Could be…” Noakes agrees. “Course, that sorta tech – no call for it now, Alliance ain’t pushed it (at least officially) – Indies never had the use for something they figure the Alliance would like… a dumb circle, unfashionable science, huh.”

Noakes shakes his head – but he’s noticed Jayne buggin’ out.

“Unfashionable?” Cobb sounds strained. “I’m telling you - it’s coming back!”

How could something this old look so new? Mal can’t quite get it straight in his head. He knows this ship was older than worlds, but it didn’t feel like it. Didn’t feel like a home.

Home was...a place filled with people, with their lives. Quite often with the smell of whatever had been burnt in the kitchen recently. Machine grease and gun oil, and those crappy little candles Kaylee liked to put around the place. (Puts the gentle scent of incense from his mind, ‘cos that ain’t home, that’s the smell of regrets and might-have-beens that never were.)

But a smell that will always take him back home is that of old paper. His mother always had books around the ranch-house, proper books, not datasticks. (All gone to ashes now, save the little anthology of verse that Mal had stowed with him on his enlisting...) It still lives in his mind, the ranch-house, warm wood of the porch under his feet, sky turning to purple and gold, and the sound of the dinner triangle (seven years old, and allowed to take his turn with the metal stick, enough noise to wake the very dead.)

Strange that a man born on a prairie world should feel so comfortable within the small metal walls of a ship.

“I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space...” The lines float up in his mind, “were it not that I have bad dreams.”

What dreams, what nightmares had come to those folks walled up in this sterile existence?

First day at the office dear, see anyone nice?

No.

See anyone at all?

No.

Even Reynolds is not immune to the spooksome lack of people, evidence of people even. One hell of a hoovering up happened here…

All evidence removed – of what?

EVA suited legs lumbering past desks – neatly ordered, no wait – ooooh a pen, not in a holder! Chaos is come! Surely.

You want the ship to go faster? You need to fill in a B.S.123 for that, uh, Sir. - If I must. I’m afraid we’re out of stock for that form just now, Sir.

Mal moves on sullenly between the pieces of frozen furniture, the plastic seats, the work-stations, the phoney woodchip panels, the blank hung notice-boards, you had to look real hard to notice the flat screen computers, bloomed screens long burnt out. There was even a water dispenser - long empty.

Tugs another hatch – not a one been locked as yet – guess there was little worth securing here in the in the doldrums of the – what – the marketing department?

Don’t get curious – get the med supplies, get gone.

Knows full well that Jayne and the rest will want to be playing merry mice around the ‘ship’ but he has no urge for that kind of capering fun.

Maybe the Shepherd’ll cool ‘em some… but the man has a curiosity of his own. That ain’t something to find a liking for. Nine crew – and ain’t a one easy minded to sing off the same hymn sheet. ‘Scuse the expression, Shepherd.

Shepherd’s been off since Candle, maybe sooner. But… that’s that. Shepherd had struck Mal, easy forgot – but a Malcolm Reynolds forgetting often meant a flushing of the mind in the widest sense. Forgive and forget meant – forget entirely – move along – nothing to see here – nothing to remember. How many faces in that album? Those Left Ignored.

Inara –

Uh-uh. See? Real good at just pushing them aside.

Which leaves me where?

Another messy junction of tunnels, another tour through the brainpan-numbing sameness of another open-plan deck - seems likely.

But sweet tian ah – just can’t see it… ship – crew… so – unconnected. No sense at all of anyone looking up at the smooth ceiling, the nothing much walls, looking up and wearing a face, a face like mine, face that tells it open and so to all and sundry – says it clear – I love this Boat.

Nope, not a one.

Mal pitied whoever the hell had Captain-ed here.

Same token, sure am glad Kaylee ain’t having to see this. Depress the smile right out of that girl.

Then again -

Different token – good thing Wash ain’t tagged here…

“See Mal? Technology. Tech-nol-ogy. THIS is science fiction.”

Is that a shudder, Mal?

.......

In the overturned confusion of Serenity – Wash can feel his feet dragging. Not the gravity – nor the struggle to balance on the precarious new ceiling-floors. It’s the hiss and whisper and the cold static singing he can hear from up ahead as he navigates toward the cockpit. Those occasional moments where Mal comes through on the comm. sounding angered and riled – or Jayne, amused and insulting - those are the good moments right now.

“Wash! Ta ma duh! Still not hearing you!”

“Blood musta rushed to his head Mal. Ain’t got far to go after all. That right, little man?”

“Correction – no access to transmission from guide craft… stand-by… files on mech-ship restricted, no further requests permitted, systems adapt – looped - switch back – time lapse – no certainty – surfing - probability oceans – recorded – looped – contained – bio containment - bio feedback – feedback – feed -”

And that is what Wash can feel his legs protest against.

“Feed – feed…”

.............

“What the hell ruttin’ language is this?” Jayne tries scowling at the difficult minded ideograms. Still can’t make sense of – “Ain’t making a lick of sense to me.”

Noakes nods happily. “That’ll be Sovean – most like, or Esperarabic… a little Chinurdu maybe. Folk had some crazy languages back in the day – so I hear tell. Language grafts, transplants that never took. Heh, heh. Tongues fell right off.”

Jayne turns a slow head. “YOU ain’t making a lick of sense neither,” he growls.

But Book is nodding –

“One language, One people, One tongue. Never was much of a precedent for it…” It’s well known the Lord prefers babble over Babel – no use for a choir sings the same note entire. Well, till now... How long till that fractures? Core talk versus Rim speak, hmm… could go that way.

Noakes is inspecting still – picking out details with an incongruous mining lamp worn round his head.

“Can you read any of this?” Jayne is impatient.

“Not exactly…” Noakes mutters to himself as rubs his neckerchief across the designs, cleaning away the dust that ain’t there – mutters with a private voice, a different register – not lost on the Shepherd.

But Jayne’s attention is elsewhere…

“This – something about a mouth maybe…” Noakes is gesturing – looking to Book as he does so…

And this is Jayne’s moment.

“Hell, Probably just toothpaste.”

Noakes and Book share the same expression but it’s the Shepherd does the asking

“What makes you say that, Jayne?”

Grinning pleased, Jayne points to one sign among the many.

“Ringing bells for you Preacher?”

“Blue Sun…”

Noakes shrugs ruminatively.

“Well, they have been around some…”

Jayne moves his body, the better to corner the conversation.

“See? So I’m thinking – what you got here – big fancy ship – there’s always sponsors. Fat wallet companies get squeezed? They like to make damn sure us ordinary folks ain’t left ignorant of it.”

“Hot damn…” Noakes breathes an appreciation. “You might be right there, fella. But...it don’t help us none though – finding the way.”

Why? Why people always gotta be like that?

“I’ll show you a way, gorram it!”

There was a horrendous noise. The kind created by something large and angry kicking a hole in the wall, then pulling a handful of wiring out. Lights gutter fitfully, and one of the screens burps to startled life.

Book looks at Noakes. The scientist shrugs. Mal grins.

“Well, I reckon real stupidity will beat artificial intelligence any day.”

And then the air comes alive with the sound of many tongues, the world all lights and sirens.

“Hailing all frequencies, hailing all frequencies, this is the Endeavour. No match to co-ordinates found... oxygen running at sixty six point six per cent, biomass reserves calculated for thirty days... emergency triage protocol initiated....”

The message cycles on, in tongues known and unknown. Noakes punches frantically at the console, as the screen scrolls, giving up its secrets.

The crew lists.

Mal knows those sorts of dates – he’s read them often enough – heard them read out – so many times – that dirged recital ringing across waste ground, mud flats, airlock bays, cemeteries, valleys - the calm way of it, a public blankness for the mute and private sorrow.

The howl cut suddenly to silence…

Book frowns, scans again. The dates… the date – singular, cropping up real often – whole batches reeling off with the same damn date. Was it sickness, a virus – was this a military craft, engaged in some conflict lost in the mists around the Earth-that-was?

A dark chill begins to spread through his thinking.

“Captain…”

But Mal has no time, no attention to spare, his focus all on the man muttering and typing, pecking over the keys like a greedy pigeon with grain.

“Noakes - we done here?”

Book shifts his eyes to Noakes – if anything troubles the salvage rat then he hides it well, looking a mite gleeful even. Book’s expression is one of distaste.

Noakes appears impervious to that too.

“We got ourselves a route to the engines,” the old man chuckles, “yup, plain as day.” Bony finger points at a flickering screen, “All we gotta do is follow the yellow lines.”

Mal nods – a visible relief.

“Shiny. Best get yourself down there. Jayne – you too.”

Jayne signals agreement with a look that says, ‘coz you just wouldn’t be figuring on the dirt and oily now would ya, Mal? Might get them tight pants soiled.’

Mal looks back.

“Jayne, just...go with Noakes.”

“C’mon, boy, time’s wastin’”

Jayne grumbles sullenly to heel.

“Shepherd?” Mal sounds weary of asking, half his body already turned to go. “You wanna come play hunt the health pack?”

Still half lost in thought, Book nods.

What’s goin’ on in that noggin o’ yours, Preacher? Mal tries not to wonder.

“Yes… yes, Captain – I’ll step with you aways.”

Mal is already half out of the data-room and up into an exit pipe.

……………………………….

River Tam steps lightly through an open hatch and into the tubing beyond. Despite the EVA cladding her feet tread soft. The toes spread, the sensitive feeling through the insulation feeling through to the floor with every step. Her movements steady. Her eyes blank.

…………………

It’s a truism – and for Zoë a dull one – she’d make a hell of a poker player, that placid face hiding so much. Right now she’s shifting from the impatience of waiting to the relief of action and there ain’t much of a tell. Mal might see something – they’d relied on each others physical short-hand so much in the past, in the war, but even her husband struggles some. “I love your aura of mystery,” he said one time – and only half in fooling. “Let me show you where I hid the bodies,” she’d said in reply, and there was no mistaking the invitation on her face at THAT point. Also, there had been the bed – and the sharing of same.

Imagine it’s in much the same state now as back then, Zoë contemplates another difficult trek down the tilted corridors, Serenity upside down – not getting any easier to adapt to. Unsettling how alien the familiar gets when you tilt the frame.

You see – upside down the meaning is reversed, least ways a lotta folk’ll read it that way.

Why, Zoë – ain’t just corridors you’re walking today, you gotta stroll down memory lane all of a sudden?

That’ll be the concussion. Oh sure.

Memory lane leads to younger days; fresh air of the orchard, the visiting folk in their caravans pitching up on daddy’s land. Always got a welcome at least – cool though it might’ve been. They didn’t stay long.

Long enough…

Zoë remembers a stuffy afternoon, long fingered Fates Woman, sat in the back kitchen, soft sighing cards sliding across the table. There’s a professionally confidential tone to her voice – the slight gurgle from the woman’s ill-used lungs, exhaling an air of clandestine any child would find captivating - even one as contained and wary as Zoë.

“You see – upside down the meaning is reversed, or a lotta folk’ll read it that way anyhow.”

A card gets turned over: The Wagon.

“But child – that’s just the simple way of looking. Anything real, well that’s made of the upside and the downside both – just gotta learn the seeing.”

Guess I never did get to that.

Picking her way again through the debris and clutter, watching out careful for light sockets, power hatches – many pitfalls the ceiling had in-built, and most of them half hidden by fallen objects, like – whatever THAT was. Hanging of some kind – Inara’s maybe – strung up for decoration. Just a hurdle now, draped over what was passing for floor, concealing all sorts no doubt. And ready to twist and snag underfoot.

Only, seems to me, you look around – picture’s either right or wrong, like now. Situation: This wagon right now, Serenity being upside down, that’s just bad – and the meaning? Equals work to be done. That’s all. Don’t see any complications – matter’s just plain unfortunate.

Serenity seems to share that feeling; never much for keeping feelings from the crew the ship gives angry fizzes and worried groans – bursts of angry sparking from newly naked circuitry.

Hopeful that Serenity’s openness extends to not hiding the angry under the cloth, Zoë eases herself over the difficult folds of material, hops awkward with booted feet through the hatchway and on to the ladders. These lead to the next level - if her radar ain’t got turned around – to Wash and to the devil of a job to do.

And she’s still remembering the Fates Woman and the cards.

Maid of Rifles. Liked that card just fine.

Zoë’s folks were fair traditional minded, god fearing. Zoë? Well, that’s really asking… but she ain’t superstitious. Sure don’t believe that a pack of cards’ll make you what you are – unless that happens to be a poker player. Don’t mean – there can’t be a nice glow to the idea that she’d recognised something of herself in the card, the image all illustrated fancy, some nascent ambition to head out into the army life, not out of simple duty and following the family way – but because that was her, who she could be, would be one day and no doubt on that. Maid of Rifles.

Shakes her head – Wash could likely show how the carny old crone’s deck was stacked. But that’s not really the issue, dear…

Maybe she’d ask him once she found him though, ‘cept finding not being so easy just now.

Zoë checks the colour of the walls – never been real obvious but Serenity is colour coded. Colours get warm toward the engine – cool off towards the med-bay, warm again – autumnal – for the galley and colder up on the gun coloured flight deck.

Place she’s heading now.

Problem is – emergency lights just colour everything seven shades of dim.

.......

Mal and Book meantime are still wandering – stomping through corridors, open cabin areas and even a plastic flowered arboretum. No private quarters yet, nothing recognisable as a bunk.

The magnetised flooring took getting used to – the walkways and passages unravelling in all kinds of crazed directions at angles that seemed to fold back on themselves. Some of the corridors were more like chutes - and opaque, which meant a stomach lurching view through the transparency. You only know how high up you are when you can see how far down you’ve been. And vice versa. And backwards. And sideways.

Look for the centre – the centre - med-bay, if they have one, gotta be someplace easy found…

Right. Try that yourself in a three dimensional kaleidoscope come hamster ball like this, watching the lights of your passing winking out one by one above and below.

Standing in yet another twisting corridor, Mal reluctantly pulls the communicator free of the EVA suit,

“Jayne?”

“Yeah?”

“Uh, little perplexed.”

“Place like this’ll do that to the best an’ brightest.”

“Even the pretty.”

“Speak for yourself there, Mal. Point?”

“Find me a med-bay Jayne…”

“Oh, sure, easy done – and you’re doing what?”

“Employing you as I remember.”

“Yeah? Well – Yeah? Uh, ok, that’s true – you wanna be gettin’ all technical about it...”

Words are vigorous enough but Jayne’s sure keeping his pipes quiet – like the Captain come to that. Why? Seems a strangeness to be whispering. Feels right though too.

“...Noakes says, follow the blue line on the walls. Eerie-ass little lights in it’ll show you the way.”

“You creeped?”

“Getting to be.”

“Yeah well, normal would be me laughing at this point.”

“We even remember normal?”

“Don’t get your girdle knotted – I ain’t aiming for no long weekend here either. Not my hotel of choice.”

“That so?”

“I ain’t been liking this since the start Mal, sooner done the better.”

“So why…?”

“This old bird’s got kind’ve a hungry look – not a sight I find reassuring…Might have to sit on him some, keep him mission minded.”

“Shiny. Keep an eye.”

Who’d’ve thought it? Jayne Cobb the calming influence!

Jayne was… many things – and most of ‘em obnoxious… Still, Mal has learned over the years not to fuss any over a straight play – and the man was a hell of a tracker.

Resuming his own hunt for the med area, Reynolds clicks the comm. back to off.

“So?” Jayne asks – his voice upping again to its familiar register, “that really hooch?”

Noakes flashes the yellow of his teeth, “Sure is!” waving one of the new found bottles at the big man. Big man flashes his pearlies right back.

.....................

Zoe's relieved to be out of the bay - to have found the flight deck - relieved to see Kaylee wrestling a sparking spagetti of wiring - and glad most to see the Wash... only thing, her husband is making even less sense than usual, and with her head pounding like orbital fire, Zoe just isn’t tracking too well.

“Yes, there will be voices on the comm, dear. That’s what it’s for.”

“Not like these.” Eyes round.

Fades in and out, hiss and crackle, snatches of words, a few fugitive notes, faint ticking, like fingers tapping, changes to a blare and screech, those same fingers turned to nails down glass, dropping away to a hiss and hum, like the blood music in your ears, when you let loose and drift in the Black...

"...all frequencies...no match...co-ordinates...running......emergency....”

The signal hunts.

......

Kaylee has tuned it all out, the misfiring radio, the worry about Simon, Wash and Zoe, blind and deaf to everything but the wiring beneath her fingers.

“…….. Feel the good earth one day, promise you that. Nothin’ more honest than soil between a man’s toes.”

Ain’t just the words that come so sudden to her mind – the hefty thump of a hand into her back… Those days glad hands would come outta nowhere and all sides - lift her clean off her feet, pass her around like a prized soft-ball tossed between the boys of a winning team. Women used to mostly fuss over the oil on her chin, the wires in her hair. ‘Least she remembers it that way.

“Yeah… man has a right to feel his ground.”

Seemed to mean a lot to some – but not to Kaylee.

They mighta lacked for dirt but clustered in space the trailer park was home; the black, the stars, the box-quarters, retching air-con, sputtering generators – the fairy lights all twinkling round the door. “Wired ‘em I did – me,” she’d tell anyone. “Don’t see the need they should be running off the main gen – we got power plenty leakin’ out the door, see?” tiny fingers punching stubby at the entrance keypad, words running wild from her trailer-child’s tongue, “just ain’t a-fish-ent.”

Beaming smiles greet the gifted displays – only sometimes they don’t – and just who and how and the faces are all long blurred away. “We’re all just folk now,” Mal had said a hundred times. Hell – folk’s all she needs, and the stars maybe – and some oil and wire. That was enough to make a home. Most of the time… and to see that home now lying tattered - in a wreckage too childhood familiar… just a mean ache made to take her breath away.

.............

The aseptic purity of the engineering station. It bears little resemblance to the workings of Serenity. Nothing here for Kaylee to be cheered by, just expanses of neat little work-stations. All the canisters are walled away, hidden behind smooth expanses, grey and functional. No human hand ever laid itself upon these engines. Till now.

“...See, this is the reason for the need for robotics.” Noakes says, adopting the garrulous tones of a tour guide, his hand on a fast stuck lever. (Jayne, whose experience of robotics is less than benign, takes step back.) Oblivious, the man continues on, the scientist edging ahead of the prospector. “’thout the advances in shielding technologies, a person couldn’t set foot beyond those barriers without frying. Melt the flesh right off ya, boil your eyeballs and steam-strip ya carcase like a processed...”

“I’m gettin’ the idea.” Jayne interrupts.

“Everything has to be controlled from here, remote drones.” Pulls at his lip, frowning. “So we need to access the systems.”

Struggles with the lever some more, finally slumps, red-faced.

“You wanna make yourself useful, boy?” Heavy sarcasm. Jayne ignores it, sets his hands on the lever. Ain’t no machine gonna get the better of Jayne Cobb.

Of a sudden the lever shifts, a row of lights flash up on the face of the slab – a sound of something powering.

“Hot dog!” Noakes hops his delight. “Well - by the bones in my ass and the metal in gums and all the sweet heavenly angels send to plague a man round midnight – I do believe this is gonna work.”

“You got kind’ve an ailment don’t yer?” Jayne is sympathetic, “Took my gramps the same way.”

………………………………………….

For Mal, trusting his instincts is mostly a case of riding that wild pony till the beast done break. But sometimes – sometimes the nail got hit first time and clear on the head. Times such as now. Two long doors of Perspex with the familiar sign of the serpents and a, what exactly? A wand?

Might take that up with the Tam boy sometime – he’s just bound to know…

Pushes doors open – prying with his fingers. Inside – and after cussing some till the power’s up – Mal gives the place a pro’s looking over. Ain’t but a few moments till locked drawers get open and cases and cupboards yield their supplies – a rich pharmaceutical bounty. If you ignore the expiry dates.

Gorram it!

Just have to hope the essential meds worked, anti-inflammatories, analgesics – things that would cure a concussion. Suture and the kit needed for stitching – antiseptic dressings. But most likely the street price for the booty here’ll be minimal – antibiotics won’t be but poisons by now, opiates and anti-psychotics just ineffective. Well, maybe the crew can get a little creative with the labels.

What Mal ain’t doing is wasting time on the tech – let Noakes do that later, if they could squeeze the chance. Scanners, tools – sure looked like a sophisticated rig but who could say. Not portable? – No use in trying to take it.

Bag filled, Mal gets on the squawk-box to Jayne.

“Yeah?”

“I’m in. Got a bag of what the Doctor would order. Best get it over to the ship but swift. Zoë and the boy’ll be needing what’s here. Gonna fish around a little more but – if the take seems right, we push on, just holler across - I ain’t intending to stick around admiring the decorations.”

Jayne in turn don’t fuss words, just grunts.

Mal zips the bag and dumps it by the door. Something in the way he slings the sack down – ain’t just the lack of cashy value on this got me sore… What then…?

Only the whole damn day.

The eyes of Shepherd Book are not blank – but there is something… inward and pre-occupied in their gaze. Malcolm Reynolds has never been fond of distracted companions.

“Something on your mind, Shepherd?”

“Answers – we’re not finding any…”

“Not aware we asked any questions – we even need to?”

Book raises his hand – and Mal curses internally. “Oh. Ok, now - why am I feeling that’s one too many right there?”

The Shepherd’s hand waves a vague circle. “This ship had a reason Captain… but what we’re seeing? It’s unreasonable.”

“It’s also not our problem.”

"There are no bodies..."

“What, you reckon they was all swept up in the Rapture?” Rough scorn doesn’t quite hide the edge of fear. “Folks don’t just vanish out of a ship.”

“But back in that medical section - was there a morgue?”

Fair question – Preacher don’t miss much.

“I ain’t noticed a corpse locker.” Mal says truthfully. But it’s a wasted gambit.

“Mind if I try?” The Shepherd asks in his most reasonable voice.

Oh, sure – fine, shiny.

“On your own recognisance, like I told Jayne, this ain’t a picnic we’re about. I’m like to need Noakes if we’re to get my ship in the air. In fact – I do believe that’s what he should be doing right now…”

“And he is, Captain – man’s in engineering., hopes to deactivate the magnetic field. Seem it’s me stood spare right now.”

“And we can’t have that, Preacher.”

The sarcasm does not touch Book, nor that oddly inward glance.

“There were people here - real, flesh and blood, the fine and the flawed and all just the same as us. We owe their passing an acknowledgement.”

“Preacher – better time, different place, I might agree… but I got a head pounding down the minutes till the only thing passing will be us.”

“And I understand that Captain – I’m not looking to interfere here…”

“But?”

“Just give a few minutes – to try and find something of who these people were… some way to respect their end.”

Unreasonable huh? Mal folds his arms. “You got till I’m back with the kit. No longer – and I don’t think you’re like to find anything, just more of the same gorram office space. You wander into a closet? I’m like to leave you here.”

“Of course Captain.” Book pulls a face about as convincing as Mal’s lie. “Thank you.”

Shepherd turns on his heel – moving side wards away down a branching tunnel.

Mal resumes his walking with a certain weight in his steps – boots hammering on the brittle plastic floor, fingers grabbing at his comm. to call for Wash.

Yep, only the whole damn day.

...............

With Mal on his way back with the groceries, Zoe starts the long slow walk back through the ship. She don’t like leaving Wash and Kaylee, but she can’t do much to help - she’s a fair hand with most things, but she knows her limitations, and this techno-tinkering is one of them - so she decides to go check on Simon. And, she realises, with a small guilty pang, River.

Little girl is so quiet half the time, you don’t notice her. But now, as Zoe thinks on it, she left the child sitting quiet in the corner of the med-bay, and it is surely not the most reassuring thing for her, world turned upside down, and her brother out cold and bloody.

‘Cept there’s no River in the med-bay. Well, girl of a certainty knows how to use the comm circuits, and even with the interference, there’s still some chatter getting through.

“River...if you can hear me, you have to answer...”

........................................

She stands before him, strange angel.

He had rounded the corner of the corridor, seeking answers. And there she is.

“You led me out of darkness once before...you can do it again.” She can feel the fractures in him. “There are answers on this ship.”

What does he seek, this man who holds the robes of the Lamb about him? Is it to keep the world out, or to keep the devil in? So many childhood stories...beware the wolf, little girl. Instead, the wolf should beware man.

Hungry eyes...so much hunger.

COMMENTS

Thursday, June 12, 2008 11:31 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


Youall are so awesome and demented, and morbid and I just love your writing. Thanks for writing this story together. You both have enough craziness to make it a trip and also make sense. Greatness, I say pure greatness.


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A collaboration between Wytchcroft and SpaceAnJL. Set after 'Those Left Behind', and a sort-of sequel to 'Bell, Book and Candle'...I'm posting it, 'cos Wytch is locked out. Enjoy. Or run away screaming. Your call.

Tic Tac Tao: Ch. 1 A Game of You
Zen II. The start of the sequel, reposted. The usual AnJLverse weirdness - space pirates, assassins, government conspiracies, seafood...

Feegles on a Firefly
A little stand-alone Crackfic. It bothers me that my brain works like this.

Viva New Vegas: 6. Blue Harvest
All Jayne wants to do is finish his breakfast and get back to his wife. Just there's a gang of bikers think a bit different.

Viva New Vegas: 5. The Good, The Bad and The Aesthetically Challenged
Jayne meets the locals.


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