Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Pistol!verse. River helps Mal find a really good bar to spend U-day in.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 814 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
I own nothing.
It was U-day again, and Mal wanted a good brawl. He didn't want to kill anybody on U-day anymore, hadn't for a few years, but he would still pound on the first drunken... patriot who started spouting the patriotic nonsense about the Alliance "winning" the War. As he saw it, as long as he and Zoë kept wearing their coats on U-day, the War was far from over.
He brought Zoë and Jayne, as usual; he also brought River, because she had as much cause to hate the Alliance as he and Zoë did, and more than Jayne. Besides which, she was a Reader, and as such, she could help them find a really good bar to spend U-day in.
The Bar, as the sign proclaimed the dingy building to be, looked promising to Mal as he walked in. There were an awful lot of Alliance men seated around the room, some of them drinking quite intently. Mal could see at least three of them wearing medals. Yup, certainly looked like an Alliance bar. Aside from the bartender, not a one of them looked up when they walked in. The music was a smooth Jazz rather than something more lively, but that was alright, as Jazz could lead to a brawl just as easily as any other type of music if enough booze was involved.
Mal ordered three beers and a glass of milk, as per River's request, and then sat down to wait for the inevitable toast. He was still waiting an hour later when a group of about a dozen people walked in. Mal didn't know them except by the colour of their coats. Oddly enough, four of them were also wearing medals, or the Independent version of them, anyway. They all sat down together in a table left empty in the centre of the room. Not a one of them said a word.
The music stopped, and the bartender - an older man - walked out from behind the bar. At least, Mal had thought he was walking, until the lower half of the man's body came into view and Mal saw that he had no legs. "Landmine," River whispered to him. "And he was going home."
"Soldiers," the bartender said. "Once again, today of all days, I want to remind everyone to raise the bar. Since I see some new faces here today, I'll remind you of what that means. It means that the war we were fighting is over." Mal gripped his mug in annoyance. "Neither side won." Mal let go. "Sure, the Alliance gained all of the ground back. Sure, some of the less informed... patriots continue to make speeches on U-day, leadin' to bar brawls and other such unpleasantness. But I don't know a single Independent soldier who has given up his or her coat for anything the Alliance has to offer. At the same time, I know at least one hundred Alliance citizens and soldiers who wish they'd fought for the other side, or that they hadn't fought at all. I also know hundreds of of people, soldier and citizen alike, who supported or fought for the Alliance during the war, but wish the Independents had won.
"Well, we can't change history, soldiers. If we could, we'd probably all still be living on Earth-That-Was. But we can raise the bar, to use an old expression, on how we treat each other in the future. That means that if any of you Independents get a job offer to rob, work over, or even just cheat one of us Purplebellies, you turn that job down, same as if it were one of your own the job was on. Same goes for us Alliance troops; what's more, many of us can afford to hire workers in whatever living we're doing. If you feel compelled to hire veterans of any particular battle you fought in, by all means do so. Just don't forget there were men and women in brown coats who fought in that battle too.
"Don't expect that same courtesy to come from the other side. It's not likely that they'll extend it to you. Remember what you were thinkin' the first time you walked into my bar, lookin' for a brawl. Now, we all know that most of what comes out of the mouths of Shepherds is bunk, but they do have one way of thinkin' that we aughta grab ahold of if we're to make this work. Turn the other cheek. You do a kindness for a man fought on the other side and he spits in your eye, you repay that with more kindness. At worst, he'll get confused and you can feel smug. This road's a hard one, for sure, but it works."
"Easy enough for you to say," piped up a younger-looking Dyton Colony boy in an Alliance uniform. "It ain't your own family spittin' in your eye. Tuh," he half-chuckled. "Wish the Browncoats had won, or I'd been shot down or captured. Then I wouldn't be alive to see how they hate me."
"That's a lie," shouted Mal, at the same time as the bartender said it. Mal was once again shocked into silence. As the bartender continued to speak, River kicked him in the back of the knee, and he sat down again.
"What I am about to tell you can never be repeated in another public place, not unless you want each and everyone to be killed, or worse. Our benevolent Alliance government is not as kindly as they'd like us to believe. There are countless examples of their true nature that I could tell you. You wouldn't believe half of them. The fact is that all of the captured Alliance troops were taken to Independent prison camps and kept in good health, or as good as the Browncoats could manage. All of the bodies we were told the troops found? Well they found them, all right. They found them after our government hired Readers to point out to their own ops teams who would tell the truth about their stay and who would tell the government's lies. No soldier, no matter their uniform, wanted that. Neither did the Independent command, at least not the ones I met. I'm very fortunate that I was a stronger Reader than the one the government hired, or no one would ever know the truth."
"Yes, they would," someone said. It was River, who had apparently planned this with Jayne, as he was standing beside her.
"And who are you, little girl?" asked the bartender, not mockingly or even patronizingly, but in all seriousness. "You're too young to have fought in the war, and I know your friend didn't."
"I'm called Pistol," River said, "and he's Saint. My brother is a fugitive for trying to undo what the government did, which was to take a girl and turn her into a weapon. They all forgot that their weapon was listening to their every thought. They also forgot that their weapon could turn against them."
"Hey, I recognize you," someone at the Browncoat table said. "Aren't you River Tam?"
"Used to be," River asceded. "Now I'm not. Saint and I want to give you an option. Many of you want a different government. One that doesn't kill people who think differently or lie to parents about what their little girls are becoming." There was murmered agreement from around the room. "We can't have that with only the few hundred you already have. But, after learning how to turn a child into a weapon, they did it to hundreds more. With them on our side, things can start to change."
"Here now," someone else (a Purplebelly, this time) said. "There's no way a few hundred children can succeed where some thousand soldiers failed before."
"She killed a hundred Reavers," Jayne said nonchalantly. "In one go. With a machete and a funny lookin' axe."
After the awed silence had settled in, River spoke again. "Before he was a fugitive, my brother was a surgeon in the Core. All medical professionals know that the body can heal itself from a remarkable amount of injuries and diseases, but cancer always needs to be starved out or cut off. We have pledges of support in the facility raid already. However, we travel by Firefly. There isn't enough room to hide them all with us. How many of you would be willing to help?"
"You got no fear at all, do you, Miss Pistol?" asked the bartender. She smiled a little, and he smiled back. Jayne coughed to break the silence. "Well, speakin' for myself I'd be happy to hide a child or two. Many of us here might be able to extend the same courtesy. Ain't that right?" A chorus of cheers resounded. One of the responders, Mal saw, was the Dyton boy from before. "But don't you think it'd be suspicious for a hundred or more children to suddenly show up among so small a community?"
"You got a better suggestion?" Jayne asked.
"Sure do, Mr. Saint. I surely do."
That was how, on the next U-day, Mal found himself walking into another Alliance-friendly bar, not looking for a fight, or even for a quiet drink, but towing half a dozen frightened children. The sign outside the bar proclaimed it to be called The Valley, and he recognized many of the downturned faced as people he'd been shooting at for days upon end on Hera. This particular bartender had all of his limbs but had lost an eye, leading Mal to wonder whether debilitating injury was a requirement for bartenders these days. The bartender said, slightly louder than was strictly necessary, "This ain't a place for children, Mr..."
"It's Sargeant, actually. Sargeant Malcolm Reynolds, Independent army, last man out." No one sat up and took notice until the last part of his statement. "This actually is the place for these children. As to why? Well now, there's a story..."
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 4:36 AM
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 5:49 AM
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 8:29 AM
Wednesday, July 09, 2008 5:27 AM
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.