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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Things go from bad to worse for the crew as Miranda reveals its secrets.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1312 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The Return Home – Part 11
Serenity and her crew were stuck on Miranda, a shot down Reaver attack craft jammed between the Firefly and the prison compound walls preventing take off. The Reavers that survived were all dead thanks to River’s deadly accuracy with a pistol and the added firepower of Jayne, Mal and Zoe’s guns but all worried that they could be back soon. And Kaylee had just found a more serious problem and she knew the Capt’n was going to curse himself blue when she gave her report. She stood in the dining area looking up at the ceiling where the Reaver ship had struck the top of Serenity. The hull seemed intact from this point of view, but three of the small square windows in the front of the dome over the dining area were smashed and the thick space proof glass lay shattered in heaps on the dining room floor. Take off and fly in atmo they could, but no way in the verse could they go into the black in this condition. Just as Kaylee was about to go back downstairs to give the news, Inara and Wash came from the bridge and then followed her eyes to the windows.
“That’s not good,” was all Wash could say. But Inara had other things on her mind.
“Was anybody hurt?” she asked and Kaylee knew who she was thinking about.
“Capt’n’s OK. Jayne got a scratch on his arm but no one else on Serenity got hurt. There’s a badly wounded fellow from the Miranda people. Simon’s looking after him.”
“I should go help,” Inara said but Kaylee stopped her.
“His people are there with Simon now,” she said. “Think it might be bit crowded.”
Inara nodded. “Just sometimes I feel so…”
“Helpless?” Wash said.
“Yes,” she said and then Kaylee got a bright idea.
“Not anymore,” she said with a grin. “From now on you’re helping me.”
Inara was puzzled. “Helping you…do what?”
“What I do,” Kaylee said. “But first we need to get you out of that dress.”
Wash grinned as an image of Inara out of her dressed flashed across his mind but he quickly chased it away as he imagined the stern look Zoe would give if she knew what he thought.
“Ah, Kaylee,” Inara said, more puzzled than ever. “What will I wear?”
“Come on,” Kaylee said. “Got a pair of coveralls with your name on them.”
And then Kaylee bounced out of the room and towards the aft hall and downstairs without another word. After exchanging a surprised look with Wash, Inara started to follow.
“Looks like I have a new job,’ she said already feeling more useful.
“Can get mighty dirty,” Wash replied and then knew it was mistake as he saw the worried look on her face.
“Well,” Inara managed to get out. “After all the things I’ve….never mind.”
Then she was gone. Wash had the feeling she was about to say something about all the dirty things she had done as a Companion. Maybe he should have Zoe talk to Inara and get some new ideas cause Wash would sure like to see and take part in some of those dirty things. After a moment of fantasizing, Wash just shook his head and came back to reality. Time to pitch in. He grabbed a broom and dust pan and started cleaning up the glass.
The infirmary was crowded but Simon was too busy fighting to save Jerry’s life to care for the moment. The tall gangling youth was lying on his left side on the table, his legs sticking over the end, and a spear was impaled through his middle, just below his diaphragm. Jerry was barely conscious and deathly pale. Simon cut away his clothing and noticed immediately that there was little bleeding coming from the wound. That meant he was bleeding inside and that was trouble. He grabbed a vial and filled a needle and injected the blood clotting agent into Jerry’s right arm.
“What’s his medical history?” Simon quickly asked and he looked at Brenda, the only face he recognized.
“He’s an asthmatic,” Brenda said. “No allergies, no other aliments. What can we do, Doctor?”
Simon looked back at her and four others and saw all the worry in their eyes.
“You, stay,” he said to Brenda and he looked at another woman. “And you. Everyone else, please wait outside.”
As they moved to do so Simon started packing blood absorbent bandages around the spear where it entered and exited the body and then reached for his laser saw.
“Hold the shaft of the spear,” he told Brenda and as she took hold he used the laser saw to cut through the wooden shaft near where it entered Jerry’s body. Brenda laid it on the floor and got ready for the next command.
“Now I have to remove the spear through his back,” Simon said to the two women. “When I do you have to be quick and pack as much of this clotting bandage in the wound as you can. Understand?”
They nodded yes and then Simon took hold of the tip of the spear just below the cruelly hooked and barbarous blade and in one swift motion yanked it out. As he feared blood welled out of the wound and the two women moved in quick with handfuls of the absorbent cloth.
For the next two hours Simon work inside Jerry’s torn body, first putting him to sleep and then repairing the damage. A major artery was torn and after clamping it off Simon took a section of vein from Jerry’s left leg and used it to make a repair. He should have used a section from a dead body but the only dead about were Reavers and Simon had no idea what disease racked their bodies.
And as Simon fought to save the young man’s life, the rest of the crew fought to free their ship from its prison.
“What in the verse?” Mal said as he stared at Inara in just her undies in Kaylee and Simon’s room. Mal had come looking for Kaylee to find out what the damage was and after looking upstairs and asking Wash where she was he had come to her room, more than a little put out she was here rather than doing her job. Mal could clearly see the damage done to the windows in the dining room dome and knew they weren’t going into space until they were fixed.
He had ripped open her door without knocking, ready to be mad, and to his surprise he saw his almost naked lady love standing there with a smile on her face as Kaylee handed her a pair of coveralls with a rabbit patch on one breast pocket.
“Hey, Capt’n, just coming to see you,” said Kaylee and then turned to Inara. “These should fit.”
“You should learn to knock,” Inara said to Mal with half a grin as she started to put on the coveralls. As she zipped them up Kaylee handed her a pair of boots
“Ah, yeah, ah, what’s going on?” Mal asked as Inara sat on the bed and started putting on the boots.
“Inara’s gonna help me,” said Kaylee. “Said she feels kinda useless, you know, seeing as being a Companion ain’t her job no more. ‘Sides, I sure could use the help.”
“Useless?” Mal said. “You ain’t…useless.”
Inara gave him a look. “Really, Mal? And what is my job on Serenity?”
Mal was at loss for a moment. “Well, ah, your job is to…ah, cook and…no…let’s see…oh hell, I don’t know.”
“Exactly,” she said. “If I stay here I want to be part of the crew, do my part. So now I’m helping Kaylee…see if I like it.”
“What’s not to like?” Kaylee asked in puzzlement. “Come on. We gotta climb up on to the top and check the damage.”
Kaylee moved out the door past Mal and Inara just stood there, eyes a little wide. “On the top…of the ship?”
Mal grinned. “Yeah, that’s the job. Just make sure you hang on tight.”
“I’m sure it will be fine,” she said as she walked past and out the door into the dorm hallway.
“You know, those coveralls do look kinda sexy on you,” Mal said and Inara turned to him.
“I’m sure Simon thinks the same thing about Kaylee.”
“What?” Kaylee said as she popped back into the dorm area. “Actually, he thinks I’m sexier when I take ‘em off. Come on. Things to do.”
“Kaylee, the boat? How bad is it?” Mal said just before they left.
“Windows busted in the dining room. Gonna need new glass,” Kaylee said. “And it can’t be ordinary glass. Has to be space proof glass.”
“Where can we get some?”
“From another spaceship,” she said and then all three looked at each other and knew what that meant.
“Guess we need to go exploring,” Mal said. “And find us a spaceship with some glass intact.” And the only place Mal could think of was one of those downed Reaver ships.
Outside Jayne, Zoe and many of Drummond’s people were at work preparing a chain and pulley system and an A-frame of steel poles to lift the burnt out Reaver ship off of Serenity. Drummond and his group had it for engine repairs to the few vehicles they had in a garage just outside the prison walls. At first Jayne said they had to cut the part of the ship pinning Serenity away but Drummond said to lift it would be faster and easier. With Drummond barking orders his people got to work setting up the A-frame engine hoist and Jayne lent a hand, his arm wound only a minor inconvenience. River and some others brought water and food and they worked for an hour as the day wore on.
Mal came out and saw their progress and was impressed. “How long do you think?”
“Soon,” said Drummond. “We just need to lift it and your pilot can move the ship over a few feet and it will be free. Then you can leave if you wish.”
“Not quite yet,” Mal said and he explained about the shattered glass.
“There is an abandoned spaceport about a kilometer from here,” Drummond said. “Perhaps what you need is there.”
“I was thinking more about these Reaver ships just outside the walls,” Mal said.
“That is also possible,” Drummond replied. “After we free your ship, we should take a team and look.”
Mal agreed and then, not more than thirty minutes later Serenity was free, with twenty people pulling on chains lifting the section of Reaver ship off Serenity and Wash just nudging the ship to the right and it was done and that was a load off Mal’s mind.
Before the ship was ready to be moved Kaylee and Inara had crawled out onto the roof of the ship and could see the long scar where the Reaver attack craft had hit Serenity.
“Don’t look like a hull breach,” said Kaylee and she bent over and examined every inch of the damaged area with a professional eye as Inara stood by feeling again like she had nothing to do.
“Can it be fixed?” she asked, wanting to learn something in her stint as a mechanic, even if it was as brief as she expected it to be. She really didn’t want to be doing this but felt like she didn’t want to disappoint Kaylee either.
“Sure, in a ship yard like on Hera no problem. But except for the windows there’s no hull breech so just need to fix them,” Kaylee said as she stood and then looked at the windows. One of the frames was bent out of shape and that had to be fixed first. Kaylee had brought up her tools and as she sat down and got to work bending and twisting and cutting metal, Inara learned just how hard and dirty Kaylee’s job really was. If Inara learned anything during her time as a mechanic, it was to have a lot more respect for people like Kaylee who could do things like this, cause without them, then nothing in the verse would work. She had always known how important Kaylee was to the ship, but now more than ever she got a first hand look at all that went into keeping Serenity in the air.
Not far away two others were also seeing how good Kaylee could do her job. On the top floor of a long abandoned apartment building two Reavers lay down on a balcony with a pair of binoculars and watched what went on in the prison. Mal’s surmising that the Reavers were using tactics in the recent attack was only scratching the surface. Mindless automats they were not, as many people thought, and they could think and plan and communicate with each other.
“Her,” said the first Reaver in a guttural voice to the second as he passed the binoculars.
“Why?” the second asked in a more high-pitched squeak as he stared at the top of Serenity where Kaylee and Inara were. He could see how lovely the two were and he had a bad moment, trying to control the demons that were driving him to attack the prison right now and take those two.
“She can fix things. We need her,” the first replied. “The Colonel said so.”
“He said take prisoners, not which ones, except for him” the second replied and his breathing grew more rapid. The first saw what was happening to him and snatched the binoculars away.
“No, we must wait for night!”
The first Reaver took out his knife and in one swift slash cut the second’s left arm just above the hand. The second Reaver felt the pain and closed his eyes and let it wash over him and then like a calming balm he felt his rage and desire subside for the moment.
“We must wait!” said the first fiercely and the second just lay down and merely nodded, staring up at the blue sky.
“I…need to return…up there.,” said the second pointing a scarred arm to the sky.
“Soon, we will. Then we will defeat the others and win. When we have him, it will be over.”
“Stories, just stories.”
“Not stories. The prisoners spoke true. They say the Professor can find a way.”
“I don’t believe.”
“Then what hope is there?”
“We are doomed.”
Kaylee and Inara had come back down the overhead hatch into Serenity before Wash moved the ship from under the shot down attack ship. Kaylee was grimy and sweaty and had a little cut on her left index finger where she sliced it a piece of bent window frame. Kaylee stood over the kitchen sink running water over the cut as Inara looked around for something for them to eat.
“You should have Simon look at that,” Inara told her as she found some bread and began to make some sandwiches from some tomatoes and ham that someone had left lying out.
“This?” Kaylee said in a nonchalant way as she held up her finger which she had just wrapped a piece of tissue around. “Just a scratch. Simon’s got some real sick people down there. Fact, I think I’ll just go see how he’s doing. Not cause of my finger….just…cause.”
“Because you love him and can’t stand to be away from him for long?”
Kaylee smiled. “Yeah. Sometimes…I just wish he hadn’t taken so long to tell me.”
“Least he was nice to you.”
“What? Oh, you mean the Capt’n. He was crazy about you, we all knew that, just…well, he didn’t think much of your job.”
“I know. Mal is too honorable to be a criminal.”
“We’re all decent folks at heart, even Jayne…a little bit. Just sometimes you get put in a corner and ain’t no way out except to fight.”
Just as Inara was about to reply she saw the rest of the crew except Simon heading through the fore hall way toward the dining hall. Mal smiled at her and then everyone was talking at once, asking about the roof and wondering where they could get some space proof glass. Before Kaylee answered any of them she had something else on her mind.
“Simon still operating?”
Zoe answered this one. “Think he just finished with that young guy. Poor fella.”
“Doc will see him through,’ said Mal as he sat at the table. “Kaylee, what’s the story?”
“There’s been no hull breech and except for the windows,” and as she said this she pointed to the damage, “We’re space worthy.”
“Let’s just get the hell out of here, Mal,” said Jayne. “We can fly, don’t mean we need to go out in the black. Plenty of places to lay low and fix the boat.”
Mal thought about this as all waited for his answer and he knew they agreed with Jayne. “Okay, but first we need to get that glass.”
“What about them Reaver ships outside?” Kaylee suggested.
“Already thought of that. Drummond’s gonna give us a few people and Kaylee, you and Jayne come with me. Zoe you got the boat. Reavers come back, you take off.”
“Not without you,” said Inara with worry.
“Course not,” Mal said. “Take off and pick us up. And take any of those fools that want to go.”
“They won’t,” said Zoe and then more questions came and everyone was soon filled in on all that was learned about Drummond, his people, and what had happened on Miranda. Then Mal remembered the vid disk Drummond had given him. For a moment he thought about watching it but other things were more important at the moment.
“Okay, everyone get something to eat. Jayne, fill some water bottles and Kaylee get what tools you need and we’ll head out in thirty minutes. Wash, need you on the bridge.”
Wash got up and followed Mal and then everyone was looking at Inara in her coveralls.
“That’s a new look,” said Zoe.
“Ain’t sure I like it,” said Jayne.
“No one asked if you did or didn’t,” said Inara. “I was helping Kaylee.”
“Job ain’t over yet,” Kaylee said as she brought the sandwiches Inara had been making to the table and took a bite of one. “Gosh, I’m hungry. Bet Simon is too.”
“I’ll make some more sandwiches,” said River and as she stood Jayne was looking at her, and Kaylee could see he was struggling to say something and then it just came out.
“Thanks, River. For…killing that Reaver with the sword.”
River didn’t even look back as she started preparing food in the kitchen. “Now he is at peace. All of them are.”
That spooked everyone and Zoe asked the question they all wanted to ask. “River, can you…feel them?”
“They are all rage,” River said quietly. “Death is their only release.”
“What if the cure really works?” asked Kaylee with a touch of hope in her voice.
“No, its just medicine,” said Zoe. “That girl we saw. If she doesn’t get her daily shots, she’ll be just like a Reaver again.
“That Professor ought to waste her before that happens,” Jayne said.
“Could you?” Inara asked. “Your own child?”
No one said anything as River brought some sandwiches to the table. “Sometimes you have to kill the things you love,” she said and that unsettled them all more than anything that had happened so far.
“Keep an eye on the radar. Any ships come in, you know what to do,” Mal said to Wash as he took his pilot’s seat.
“Mal, Drummond really won’t leave?” asked Wash as he started calibrating the radars for the longest range.
“No, he’s set on curing his daughter and the rest of them. Said he wants our help. Can pay, too.”
“That doesn’t sound like a bad job at all. Be kind of noble actually, helping out sick folks and ending the Reaver problem.”
“Wash, you think on the risks involved and you see that sticking around here isn’t a good idea.”
“I know, just, we’re always robbing and running and hiding. Well, except on Earth, but that was mostly to save our hides as well as theirs. Just be nice to do the right thing for a change.”
Mal stood behind him and didn’t say a word for a long time and Wash worried he might have gone too far.
“You know, Wash,” Mal began in a solemn tone. “Once I thought I was doing the right thing. All it got me was a lot of pain and a loss of any belief in human decency I ever had.”
With that Mal left the bridge and Wash knew better than to say anything, knowing his wife felt the same as Mal did about their shared experiences.
The expedition to find usable space proof glass began shortly thereafter. A set of huge steel double doors were opened after their magnetic force field was unlocked and the party of seven exited. Mal and Jayne went first, weapons out and ready, wary, looking for any Reavers who might be playing dead. Mal had a machine pistol in addition to his sidearm and Jayne had Vera and two pistols, two knives and a string of hand grenades across his chest. He would have loved to take every gun on the boat but even he could only carry so much. Kaylee was weighed down with her tools but Mal insisted she carry a pistol on her side also. The four people from Drummond’s party were all armed to the teeth as well, included a RPG with three rockets. The four were all men, mostly young, and Mal got the sense they were the best Drummond had left.
Space glass was necessary Kaylee had explained to them all, because it was tempered for the rigors of space flight. Entering and exiting atmo created great friction which generated a lot of heat and the glass had to withstand that. As well, the glass had to be up to the immediate cold of space after extreme heat of take off and visa versa. Finally, it had to be able to survive small meteorite hits and the pressures created by a normal atmosphere inside a ship struggling to equalize with the near vacuum of space. It had to be space proof glass or nothing. Finding it was not the only problem. Once found Kaylee would have to remove it from its source and then cut and shape it to fit Serenity’s windows. She had taken all the measurements. Now they needed some luck in finding some pieces the right size.
The first Reaver ship they came across was in what looked like the prison parking lot and it was burned out and smashed to hell and had no useful glass left. Another hour of looking and three more crashed Reaver ships and Kaylee despaired that they’d ever find any glass that she could use.
“There’s always that spaceport Drummond mention,” Mal said to her after she told him these crashed ships were useless.
“Spaceport? Course there’ll be some there!” Kaylee said with enthusiasm. “Most spaceports have some repair facilities. Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“It’s kinda far off,” said Mal and one of Drummond’s people confirmed that.
“About three kilometers toward the center of the city,’ he said.
Jayne was listening and got what was going on. “That’d mean we wouldn’t get back till dark. No way in hell I’m staying out here when the sun goes down, Mal.”
“Jayne, being scared of Reavers is one thing but you keep jawing about it and making the rest of us more nervous than need be,” said Mal, as he moved his eyes toward Kaylee, hoping Jayne get the hint and shut the hell up.
“We have a truck, in the prison garage,” said another of Drummond’s people and Mal thought that it could work after all. Truck would get them there and back faster and be useful for hauling back the glass, too.
“All right,” Mal said. “We’ll check it out.” Then he got on his communicator and told Zoe what they were up to. She said they should use the ship or at least Inara’s shuttle but Mal didn’t want to attract anymore Reaver attention if it was the ship that had them all riled up. Zoe had some reservations but knew they were stuck here till the windows were fixed so kept her opinion to herself.
High above the streets of the city the two Reavers on lookout saw all this activity and as the truck roared off with its occupants toward the center of the city one looked to the other and in an instant the decision was made. They would attack and have the mechanic as their prisoner. As for the others, well, human flesh had been off the table a bit too long and it was time for some feasting.
In the coldness of space on the side of Miranda facing the far distant Haven and other worlds that were just pins of light in the cosmos stood the Reaver fleet. Its dozens of small and large ships floated amidst a junk pile of broken ships, shards of metal drifting around, and the odd frozen human body, or at least what was left of it.
Maston Forbes observed all of this on his long range scanners on the bridge as he pushed his little gunship close to the Reaver fleet, getting as much information as he could for his master, High Chancellor Adam Cutter.
“Sir, we shouldn’t get any closer,” said the Lieutenant in charge of this vessel.
“Are you afraid of the Reavers, Lieutenant?” Forbes asked in a condescending manner.
“Man be crazy not to be,” said the Lieutenant and Forbes knew by his accent and manners this man was no Core dweller but from the Rim, maybe joined the Alliance military to get away from a life of drudgery at whatever he was destined to be.
“Where are you from, Lieutenant?”
“Mostly farmland, few towns. Bit boring. But quiet. And safe. Sir.”
“Lieutenant, what we are doing out here is trying to ensure that all the little farms and towns on Boros do not ever have to fear the Reaver’s again. We are here to destroy them.”
The crew on the bridge all looked in astonishment at Forbes. “Destroy them? With one gunship?” asked the surprised Lieutenant.
“No. An Alliance fleet is on the way and should be here in two days time.”
Forbes could feel the sense of relief flood through them as he said this. But it was a short lived relief. Suddenly a warning sound beeped ominously loud from a control panel.
“Proximity alert! Ship closing fast, two thousand kilometers!” shouted an operator. “It’s a …Reaver ship!”
“Turn for Haven! Full speed!” shouted Forbes and everyone jumped to the task. Now Forbes cursed his earlier decision to leave the second gunship with the three Operatives at Coppermine. He wanted this mission for himself and now he feared they may pay for it.
“Where did they come from? How did they get so close?” Forbes demanded to know.
“Don’t know,” said the Lieutenant. “Maybe they were sleeping, powered down, sensors didn’t pick it up. They’re gaining!”
“We can’t outrun them, sir!” yelled another operator and Forbes knew there would be a fight.
“Lieutenant, turn and fight them.” Forbes had run at first, not wanting the Reavers to know any Alliance vessels were about as per his masters orders. But now he knew they had no choice but to destroy this Reaver ship.
“Aye, sir,” said the Lieutenant. “Helm, turn about. Weapons control, prepare all missiles!”
Just as this was shouted a loud bang reverberated through the ship and all the electrics started popping and crackling and then everything went dead and the whole ship was dark.
“EMP!” shouted the Lieutenant. “Switch to backups!”
The lights started to come on but there was worse news. “The engines are offline!”
“Get them back!” Forbes yelled.
The tone in that voice was of despair and Forbes could sense the crew was about to panic. They were blind and without maneuvering power so couldn’t see their attacker nor move the ship into a piston to fire the missiles or guns. Forbes knew the missiles or guns couldn’t be fired with power anyway. There was only one thing left to do and Forbes found himself calm and ready, even knowing he might soon be dead.
“Lieutenant, prepare your men to repel borders.”
A sense of fear spread and more than one crew member paled at the thought of Reavers on their ship. The Lieutenant spoke for them all. “Sir, we should use the escape pods.”
“And where would we go, Lieutenant? We have no comms to make a distress call, we are in the black of space. No, men, we will fight. And when we win, and I assure you we will, we either repair this ship or we take theirs.”
Forbes radiated confidence and the Lieutenant asked him what he wouldn’t have asked him in any other situation. “Sir, are you an Operative?”
“No. I’m better. Get your weapons and follow me.”
And as he said this all the men started grabbing weapons and followed Forbes as he headed aft toward their airlock where the sounds of the Reavers cutting the metal doors was already to be heard.
Simon worried on what Kaylee was doing now. As he had stitched a cut on one of Drummond’s people’s arm Kaylee had come to the infirmary and explained what she was about to do. Simon gave her a quick kiss and told her to be careful and then she was gone. Now it had been over two hours and they still weren’t back. Simon was about to go find out what was going on when Drummond entered the infirmary. Jerry was still lying on the examining table, still under anesthesia.
“Hello, Doctor Tam,” Drummond said quietly. “I’m Professor Stanley Drummond.”
“Hello, Professor. There’s quite a lot I want to ask you.”
“Yes, we all have so many questions. But first, thank you for taking care of Jerry. How is he?”
“He’ll live unless infection takes hold. I gave him anti-biotics but it’ll be touch and go for a few days.”
“If you weren’t here maybe he’d already be dead,” Drummond said. “We had a real doctor a few years ago but he’s gone now.”
“Have you lost many people?”
“A whole planet. Thirty some million.”
Simon was still shocked by these numbers, despite hearing them over and over again on Drummond’s broadcast. “Thirty…million. So many”
“Yes, Doctor. You have seen my broadcast I’m sure, saw the dead bodies everywhere. My people and I are all that is left. And the sick ones, the ones you call Reavers.”
“Professor, what happened? What chemicals were used?”
“G-23 Paxilon Hydroclorate. It had been used for riot control gases and in prisons and mental institutions, in small doses. Cutter had been snooping around science circles for years, looking for something to make people “better” as he put it. Met the man once at a symposium on criminal reform, but I don’t think he remembers me. Some fool scientist suggested G-23 and asked to try it on a large scale, a city perhaps. Cutter went one better and said if you are so confident let’s try a whole planet. Miranda was chosen as it was out of the way, not near the Core. I also suspect that Cutter knew a rebellion was brewing and hoped to use the G-23 as a weapon. You know the rest of the story.”
“I’m confused, Professor,” Simon began after some thought. “G-23 has no long term aftereffects. I treated some people on Osiris with injuries after a riot at a music festival that got out of hand. The police used G-23 to calm them. Aside from a dream like melancholy state that lasts a few hours there are no long term effects.”
“It’s a derivative of the normal G-23. I discovered that the molecules stay in the brain and attach themselves on the receptors of pleasure and pain. It was supposed to act like a narcotic to keep people passive. So it did, so it did. For most anyway.”
Simon could sense the sadness in the man. “But you have a cure?”
“A partial cure, which lasts no more than a day at most and then reverses itself. I need access to the latest bio-chemical technology, the best machines, free from interference and with a steady supply of test subjects. Unfortunately Miranda is the only place with such subjects. And your captain is reluctant to aid me in obtaining the equipment I need.”
“Mal has his reasons. We are sort of…well, like a family here. Mal is just being protective.”
“I understand. But this work is not just for my daughter and for me. From what I understand the Reavers are a menace in your galaxy.”
“Yes. Many on the Core worlds think they are just rumors. Until about a year ago…well, more than that, but I didn’t believe in them either.
“They are quite real, Doctor. Quite real.
The quite real Reavers were now lying dead in piles at Maston Forbes’ feet in the corridor by the airlock on his gunship. Three of his crew were also dead and four more wounded but whatever the survivors had thought of Forbes earlier they now had a new found respect and admiration for him. The fight had been vicious and fast. About twenty Reavers had initially poured through the doorway and Forbes’ men’s gunfire piled them up but the onslaught was too much and five got within hand to hand range and soon it was the kind of fight Reavers like, close and with edged weapons. As the first of his men was stabbed through the throat about twenty more Reavers poured through the open door, howling and screaming and Forbes men began to panic. He ordered the Lieutenant to kill the first five survivors and then he pulled out his knife and picked up a Reaver sword and jumped into the midst of the deranged mob that made up the second wave. Forbes was a whirlwind and dispatched the Reavers one by one, stabbing and slashing them. He got a few wounds in return, a slice to his right forearm and one to his thigh but soon all the Reavers were lying on the deck, dead or groaning. In the sudden stillness that followed they waited for more Reavers to come but no more did.
“Check the wounded,” Forbes ordered and as his men did so he went about with a pistol shooting any moaning or moving Reavers in the head. When this was done he looked through the damaged airlock door and then ordered the Lieutenant to gather two men and follow him and for the rest of the crew, which didn’t amount to more than six men, to get busy repairing the ship.
Forbes, the Lieutenant and the two other soldiers slowly entered the Reaver ship, probably the first humans to do so and survive to tell the tale, thought the Lieutenant; at least he hoped they would survive. They walked through a hellish nightmare, the ship’s corridors slashed with blood, debris and dirt everywhere. They had expected bodies, whole and in parts, but what they found were piles of cans, and food wrappers and even what looked like a kitchen and mess area. Living compartments were equally disgusting but there were beds and toilets and Forbes even thought one room was a med facility. It was a small ship and how fifty men crammed in here and lived together without killing each other made them wonder. Maybe this wasn’t permanent home for them, perhaps it was a raiding ship which just happened to run into an easy target close to home.
As they headed toward what Forbes thought was the bridge they were suddenly attacked by three howling Reavers and within seconds they were also dead from Forbes’s blades.
“Bridge crew,” Forbes said as they walked past the bodies onto the bridge area.
“I think that’s all of them, sir,” the Lieutenant said with some relief as they walked onto the empty bridge.
“Yes, it appears so,” said Forbes as he looked over the control panel. “Lieutenant, get back to our ship and ascertain if we can restore power and seal that airlock.”
“Yes, sir. And if we can’t?”
“Then I can’t think of a better way to get to Miranda than on a Reaver ship.”
“Get to Miranda? But…sir…what about the fleet?”
Forbes’ blood was up from the battle and he had already made his decision to go it alone. “Our Firefly target from Persephone is reported to be near or on Miranda. But this time we are not to destroy it but to capture it and its crew alive. This Reaver ship is a perfect weapon for capturing that ship. Your orders are to follow mine. Understand?”
“Good. Because one way or another we are going to Miranda and taking that Firefly and its crew.” Specifically one Kaylee Frye. As for the others, Forbes would make certain that River Tam and Malcolm Reynolds died on Miranda.
Back on Miranda Kaylee had finally found her space proof glass. It was in a material storage area of the abandoned spaceport and she quickly got Jayne to back the truck up to the loading doors and with everyone’s help they had five big sheets loaded up on the truck and tied down secure and ready to go just as the sun was about to set. And that’s when Mal first noticed that they weren’t alone.
“Time to move,” he said quietly as he caught a glimpse of a scurrying figure out of the corner of his eye, moving between two damaged spacecraft. He looked at one of Drummond’s people. “You drive. Kaylee get in the front and put on your seatbelt. Everyone else in back, weapons out.”
Jayne’s trouble senses were on full alert. “What’s up, Mal?”
“Might have some company,” he said and everyone got instantly tense. “Let’s move.”
Everyone started to take their positions. It was an open back truck, the sides about three feet high, the tail gate two, and that gave Mal and the other shooters some protection. The glass was secured snug to the front of the cargo area, just behind the cab. Just as the driver put the truck into gear the howling, screaming mob of Reavers came storming toward them from all points of the compass.
“Floor it!” Mal yelled and he didn’t even have to order open fire because Vera started barking and Reavers started dropping. Everyone blazed away like mad and Jayne even threw a grenade that bowled over several as it exploded with a sharp bang. Then as the truck turned a corner and they passed some apartments, two Reavers dropped into the truck bed from a balcony. One of Drummond’s people was dead in an instant with a knife to the heart and another got stabbed in the guts with a sword and was down just as Jayne and Mal shot the two Reavers dead.
In the cab Kaylee was terrified but kept enough wits about her to call for help. She had the communicator out and was yelling to Wash. “We got Reavers all around us! About three kilometers away near that spaceport! We need help!”
“Serenity on the way,” said Wash and without another word he started the take off sequence and soon the ship was heading toward them.
But it was too late. As Mal and the others continued to fight off Reavers the driver took a turn and the trap was sprung. A set of spikes was laid across the road and before he could stop he went through and all four tires were blown. As the driver fought to control the truck it went over on its right side and came to a grinding halt in a narrow street. The driver went hard into the windshield and through it, knocked out, his lack of a seatbelt his undoing as Kaylee’s was her savior. For the moment anyway.
Mal had seen it coming and grabbed into the side of the truck and managed to survive unscathed except for a few bruises as he got tossed around and landed on his back. Jayne wasn’t so lucky and went over the side and landed hard on his right shoulder and his head took an awful whack and he was out of it, landing far in front of the truck. Kaylee could see him lying there and she feared he was dead. The last of Drummond’s people was battered but up and ready for what was next. Just as Mal got his bearings and struggled to his feet on the street behind the truck the Reavers were on them.
Mal and the last Drummond man stood side by side shooting and shooting and Reavers were dropping like flies around them, the howling screams filling the air. In the midst of all this Mal heard three distinct words that sent a chill through his body. A Reaver spoke and what he said was terrifying.
“Get the mechanic!”
“Come on!” Mal shouted to the man fighting with him. “We got people down!”
They ran to the front of the truck, and a swarm of Reavers was all over the cab, ignoring Jayne’s unconscious body not ten feet away. Mal’s machine pistol went dry at that moment and he was out of clips. He pulled his pistol and started firing. A scream behind him told him he was all alone now.
“Capt’n! Save me!”
He could see her now, being dragged out of the truck’s broken front window, two Reavers dragging her past Jayne and two more were in front, turning toward Mal. His little Kaylee was being dragged away, and in the gloom of twilight he could see the sheer utter horror in her eyes.
Mal’s first two shots killed two Reavers and his third hit one of the Reavers dragging the screaming struggling Kaylee down the street. Then Mal got knocked down from behind with a vicious blow to the head. He was stunned and fell to his knees. Malcolm Reynolds had pictured his death many times and knew he would die in a violent way. But as Reaver meat? He knew he’d always kill himself first before he’d let that happen. He thought he had one bullet left. For me or for her? In an instant he made his decision and he knew it was the only thing he could do. As he felt the Reavers tugging at his clothing he took his last bullet and pointed his pistol at Kaylee, still being dragged away, with three Reavers now on her, Kaylee still screaming for him to save her. Mal knew only one way to save her now.
“I love you!” he shouted to her and then he pulled the trigger and all went black before his eyes.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008 10:54 PM
Thursday, July 10, 2008 12:19 AM
Thursday, July 10, 2008 8:44 AM
Friday, July 11, 2008 6:40 AM
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