Storm Front--Part XXX--BlueSunset
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mal gets weapons for his army, and BlueSun comes under fire.


“Might want to find somewhere else to be for awhile,” Mal said, smiling at Easy as the crates of weapons were loaded into Serenity’s cargo bay. “Ain’t gonna be real pretty ‘round here.”

Easy looked at him thoughtfully. “Don’t think I’ll be leaving,” he said. “Persephone’s my home now. And I’ve got a safe place down below the offices, if the fighting gets too close to my street. Besides, you’ll come get me if I’m in danger, right?”

Mal raised one eyebrow. “Might be a little busy fightin’ a gorram war to babysit for you, Easy,” he said, though his smile softened his words. “Man like you needs to know how to look after himself.”

Easy drew up to his full height and looked at Serenity’s captain seriously. “I know well enough how to look after me,” he said. “Hope you can say the same.”

“I’ll do the best I can,” Mal replied.

“Hope that’s good enough,” Easy replied. “I’m rather attached to you and your crew. Hate to think of anything bad happening to you.”

“”Preciate it,” Mal said, shaking his hand. “And thanks for the weapons. We could use any you can get hold of.”

Easy nodded, heading toward the ramp. “I’ll be on the lookout for more,” he said. “That’s another good reason for me to stay here, wouldn’t you say?”

“I would at that,” Mal agreed, watching the flashy little man walking calmly through the crowds on the docks, as if he knew nothing about the storm that was coming soon.


The attacks on the BlueSun Corporation began the following day. Targeting specifically the research laboratories listed publicly, the Independents destroyed two-thirds of them before BlueSun requested assistance from the government. Though Mal was well aware that the corporation maintained many labs of which the public knew nothing, the theory was that targeting enough of the public labs would weaken the company considerably.

Within days of the initial strikes, new reports began to surface about irregularities and damning evidence of ethical violations found at the damaged sites. Orchestrating the media as only he could, the Operative saw to the release of thousands of pages of incriminating documents, gleaned from years of relentless pursuit of their secrets by the Underground Movement. An ugly picture began to emerge for even the most deliberately obtuse members of the public, and the government’s contracts with BlueSun became a matter of intense media scrutiny.

Boycotts of BlueSun products broke out on the Rim worlds, trickling slowly back to the Core worlds until it became apparent to the shareholders of the Corporation that immediate action was necessary to save the company from financial ruin. Appealing to the government for aid, corporate officials were stunned to find that Parliament was reluctant to act, fearing the negative fallout from a public growing more restless by the day as new revelations came to light.

Closed sessions between Parliamentary officials and BlueSun officials dissolved into threats and innuendo, with BlueSun threatening to reveal the government’s sanction of and active participation in some of their most unethical experiments. In an effort to turn the rising tide of public outrage, the government seized the remaining assets of the corporation, claiming that the action was taken in an honest effort to retain the jobs of millions of Alliance citizens. In reality, the uglier truth was that the government meant to silence BlueSun’s corporate officers in the most ruthless and expedient way possible.

And silence them they did, both through means direct and more subtle. Upper management of the corporation found themselves in Alliance custody or worse, while mid-management received stern warnings of the consequences of making any public or private statements about what had happened before or what was currently happening.

The Independents, poised under Mal’s leadership and euphoric with the public downfall of BlueSun, awaited the signal to turn their attention on the Alliance itself. Comparatively speaking, they did not have long to wait. Mal, judging the public mood was at the tipping point throughout the system, ordered the first waves of attacks on the infrastructure of the Core worlds, timing them simultaneously with the release of additional evidence of collusion between BlueSun and Parliament. The results were spectacular.


Kaylee watched as the lights of Persephone flickered briefly and then went out completely. She smiled up at Zoe, her face darkened by the grease they’d applied to avoid detection when the security lights were still on at the main power station of Persephone’s capitol city.

“Good job,” Zoe said softly, gathering up their gear with the ease of long practice. “How long ‘til the backup systems come online?”

“Ten minutes for the emergency generators here,” Kaylee replied. “But with a little luck, several days before they can untangle what we did to the grid.”

Zoe nodded, moving stealthily back toward the ship with Kaylee in tow. “Should be plenty of time to do what else needs to be done,” she said coolly.

“D’you do stuff like this in the first war?” Kaylee asked quietly as they got to a more public area, where people were already running about in various stages of confusion because of the blackout.

“Not so much,” Zoe replied. “Always fighting defensively, for the most part. And on backwater worlds where there wasn’t the same kinda target as this.”

Kaylee was quiet for a long moment. “Think that everything went shiny-like on Sihnon?”

Zoe looked briefly back at the younger woman. “I’m fair certain it did,” she replied evenly. “The cottage is a long way from the nearest city.”

Kaylee nodded. “You’re right, I know,” she said. Wistfully, she continued, “But it would be good if’n we knew for sure, don’tcha’ think?”

“I’m sure the Captain will find out soon’s he can,” Zoe said as they approached Serenity.

Kaylee nodded and, discerning the subject was closed, said nothing else.


Elizabeth closed her eyes and tried to drown out the sound of looting coming from outside the Hit or Miss. She shivered, thinking how quickly the supposedly civilized population of Osiris had sunk to all manner of criminality when the power was disrupted. Thankful for the protection of the large ship around her, she burrowed farther into the covers, wishing Marcus and Pierre would return from their mission.

As if in answer to her wish, she heard the sound of the outer door opening, and knew that Marcus had returned. She sat up shakily, realizing that her heart had been racing for some time. Marcus stepped into the room, tiptoeing so as not to wake her.

“Did you honestly think I could sleep when you were out there?” she asked softly.

“Was hoping so, for your sake,” Marcus said, sitting down tiredly on the edge of the bed and pulling off his boots.

“Everything go as planned?” she asked.

“Just like Murdocke said it would,” Marcus replied, smiling slightly. “Man’s a master of mayhem, as it turns out.”

“Is it…bad out there?” she asked.

“Soldiers from all the garrisons are out in force, trying to contain the situation,” Marcus replied, lying down and pulling her close. “But folks are in an ugly mood. Shouldn’t take too much more before they rise up, like Mal was counting on.”

“And when they do?” Elizabeth asked.

“Then we’ll see if we can persuade them to join us,” Marcus said.

“Sounds like a good way to get killed,” Elizabeth said.

“Or win a war, depending on your perspective,” Marcus replied. “So far, things have gone just as predicted. That can’t help but give a man a little hope.”

Elizabeth nodded, wisely refraining from further comment. Hope was a luxury she could not afford to lose.


“Battle cruisers are en route now,” Mal said, briefing everyone at the breakfast table. “According to what ships have reported in, the situation is pretty much the same on all the target worlds. People are in a panic, the Alliance troops on the ground are stretched thin just trying to control the crowds, and so far, we’ve only had a handful of casualties.”

Knowing that the casualty count would go up drastically once the Alliance pulled its troops from the Rim worlds back toward the Core, Zoe asked, “And our ground troops?”

“Will be ready and armed in time for the cruisers to arrive,” Mal replied. “So they should have at least more air support than we had before.”

Zoe nodded and silence fell around the table as everyone considered the sheer magnitude of the events they had set in motion. Mal looked at the somber faces of his crew, and knew what was needful. “Got a report from Sihnon too,” he said, pulling a small capture out of his pocket and laying it on the table.

Everyone leaned forward eagerly as he hit the play button and the sound of their children filled the galley. “The Tams thought we might like to see how they were all doing,” he said quietly, sitting back and watching the joy on the faces of his extended family as they watched the children at play.

“He’s gotten so big,” Kaylee breathed, drinking in the sight of Daniel like a thirsty woman in a desert. Simon smiled, unable to speak past the lump in his throat but still squeezing her hand under the table.

Hannah ran through the frame, babbling nonsensically as she trailed her older brother. “She’s running,” River said, mesmerized by the proof of her daughter’s development on the small screen.

“And talking a blue streak, according to the Fryes,” Mal replied huskily. “They say she’s wearing Adam out.”

Everyone laughed at the thought that the energetic little boy could be fatigued by his little sister. But when Anya appeared on the screen, a stunned hush fell over them once again. “She looks so…grown-up,” Zoe said, her normally stoic exterior cracking slightly at the edges.

Jim’s hand came to rest on her shoulders. “She looks like my mother,” he said quietly, pride in his tone.

Mal cleared his throat, mortified that it would be obvious how moved he was by the sight of the children. “So, anyway, the Fryes and Tams seem to have things well in hand. Said the city went dark right on schedule, but there’s been no problem where they are. Nearest neighbors are a long ways away, and no sign of trouble so far.”

Kaylee breathed a sigh of genuine relief, thinking it wonderful to be able to breathe deeply for a change. “Think we could maybe go see them sometime?” she asked wistfully.

“Would be dangerous to try that right now, li’l Kaylee,” Mal replied regretfully. “Don’t want any attention drawn to their location. Dong ma?”

Kaylee nodded, swallowing back a small sob of disappointment. Mal watched her rein in her emotions, and marveled at the way his little mechanic had grown up. “We’ll see to them soon’s we can,” he said gently. And turning back to the others, he went over the plan of attack for the day.


Michaels sat at the end of the table, looking into the displeased faces of a group of fellow Parliamentary members.

“The Oversight Committee acted in a manner consistent with the objectives set out by this body,” he said evenly, though a vein in his temple threatened to burst with the effort involved. “We did as we thought best, given the circumstances.”

Senator Strong, the oldest and most outspoken member of Parliament still maintaining active status, cleared his throat irritably. “Senator Michaels,” he said, his tone severe. “Are you attempting to convince this assembly that your actions in this egregious display of hubris were in some way sanctioned by this body?”

Michaels counted to ten before answering, not wiling to let the older man cow him into a display of temper. “I am merely saying that the Committee acted at all times in the best interests of the Alliance, given the turn of events as they occurred.”

“What your committee did was simple,” Strong said abruptly. “You led us into a war that we just may lose. We are all aware of how depleted our military assets really are. Even with the acquisition of the assets of the BlueSun Corporation, we are spread well beyond our ability to ensure victory. And in this climate, you chose to pursue such a reckless course. I submit, sir, that you are at the least, extremely incompetent if not plainly negligent with regard to your duties as chairman of the Oversight Committee.”

Michaels swallowed the bile that rose in his throat, seeing the handwriting on the wall. He knew, with a certainty borne of years as a politician, that he would be the scapegoat for whatever horrors awaited Parliament as the war progressed. For now, there was no doubt that real war was no longer a distant danger, but a disquieting reality for the Alliance in general and for every man in the room.

“If you expect me to say for the record that I committed any impropriety with regard to the project in question,” he said thinly. “You will be very disappointed, Senator Strong.”

“I expect nothing from you, Senator Michaels,” Strong replied. “Nor do I want anything more from you. Let the record show that you have no remorse for plunging this government into a potentially devastating war. For that, I hereby recommend that this body move immediately to strip you of the title and privileges of a Senator of the Parliament. And I further recommend that you be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for crimes against the government.”

Michaels stared at the man for a moment, shocked into silence by the harshness of the recommendation. He had expected to be asked to resign, perhaps even stripped of some of his privileges in the typical fashion of a political slap on the wrist, but this went far beyond his wildest thought. He looked from person to person, searching for a sign of sympathy anywhere in the room. But his looks were returned with stony silence.

“Have you anything else to say in your defense before our decision is made?” Strong asked.

Michaels drew a deep breath and replied, “Just that I will see all of you in hell.” With that he stood, pushing his chair back from the table with maximum force and upending it in the process. Before he could reach the door, guards were summoned, And before he could protest further, he was led away in cuffs from the lavish chambers in which he had worked for so long as one of the most staunch supporters of Alliance sovereignty in Parliament.


To be continued


Wednesday, October 8, 2008 1:35 AM


Oh, oh, OH! How I CHEERED when Michaels got slapped in irons, that felt SO good! I particularly liked the way the Operative used his cunning and knowledge to disrupt and bring about the ruin of the Blue Sun Corporation, the Alliance crocodiles typically surrounding the rotting corspe before tearing it to pieces to feed their bloated selves. Using the flow of information to stir up the people and get a groundswell of opposition to rise up was greatness. Up until then I really couldn't see how you could get Mal and his buddies to pull this war off, now I am thinking that while it will be hard and bloody they have a pretty good chance of winning. Just keep the kiddies safe, *dong ma*? Excellent work, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 2:01 AM


Sigh. If real life could only be so easy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 6:51 AM


I echo Katesfriend. I actually cheered when Michaels was cuffed. But of course, it's all going a bit too smoothly.

Also wondering if the Alliance may want to parley with the Independents?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 9:33 AM


As always, AMDOBELL has said it all. This war is gonna be a good 'un (I mean that in a non-sadistic way, of course! *shifty eyes*)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 5:27 PM


Hmm just wondering now what our hero's will do in this new world they are making.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 9:43 PM


I can't see the Alliance going down without a fight, no matter what. And unfortunately you need some form of government, or at least people around who know how things run. Still intrigued ...


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'Til Death Parts Us--Part V
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