Prospero's Legacy - Part XX
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Gabriel and Regan learn about Mara, Goff learns a lesson far too late, and others learn of the gathering. NEW CHAPTER


“Mara Tam’s on Hera.” River’s words dropped into space like nuggets of frozen lava.

“What tyen shiao duh is this?” Gabriel demanded, his face losing the colour he’d gained. “Mara’s dead.”

Mal didn’t answer him, just looked out of the infirmary at Hank. “How long if we burn it?” he asked.

Hank’s mind did the calculations for him in a split. “Five days.”

“Get a course laid in. Try and make it out of sight of the Alliance, but as soon as you can.”

“On it,” the pilot said, running full pelt up the stairs.

Mal felt fingers clutch at his arm, tugging him around. “I don’t take kindly to be handled,” he said, glaring at Gabriel, prying the older man loose.

“And I don’t take kindly to being ignored. What is all this nonsense about Mara?”

“Mr Tam, it ain’t nonsense.”

River let go of Jayne’s hand and stepped into the infirmary, approaching the medbed. “She’s the psychic, Father.”

“That’s crazy.” His mouth set into a stubborn line as one of the monitors he was on began to beep faster.

Simon prepared a syringe, just in case.

Mal shrugged. “Yep, I’d say it was, but no more so than someone creating Reavers. And from past experience I’d have to say she’s been right more’n she’s been wrong.”

Gabriel shook his head. “Mara Tam died. She was twelve.” He looked into River’s face. “We went to her funeral, for heaven’s sake.”

River almost smiled. Almost the same words Simon had used when he found out. “Not her body,” she said quietly. “Stolen. Cut into and made into something else. Something that controls Reavers. My twin.”

Gabriel stared. “River, you don’t have a twin.”

“Yes, I do. Duplicated. Copied.”

“I don’t understand.”

Simon wasn’t quite so circumspect. “You recommended the agency, didn’t you? The one you bought us from.” He ignored Regan’s little cry of horror. “Blue Sun controlled, wasn’t it? And they were playing God with the children. They used the same combination for Mara as for River. No wonder they looked so alike when they were children, or didn’t that occur to you?”

The older Tam tried to breathe, but he couldn’t seem to get air into his lungs. Simon smoothly injected him with the relaxant, and he was able to take a deeper breath. “I didn’t know,” he said, blinking hard. “But she’s dead.”

“No,” River said, reaching out for his hand but stopping herself before she touched him. “Not dead. Yes. And dead too. But still alive.”

Jayne strode into the infirmary and stood behind her, pulling him against his heat and bulk. “Moonbrain, you might wanna try some of that control Freya here’s been trying to knock into you.”

River glanced across. “Did I sound particularly crazy?” she asked, biting her lip.

“Not … particularly,” Freya said, smiling a little, then amended, “Maybe a little.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

Gabriel wasn't going to admit he felt a sharp pain around the area of his heart when he saw River stop herself from taking his hand, and it wasn't anything to do with the tachycardia. “Are you telling me this girl, the one we’ve been talking about, the one Quintana is using –“

“Is my sister,” River finished. She sighed. “I need … space.” She walked out, and Freya nodded at Kaylee to follow her, make sure she was okay.

Jayne stepped out of the infirmary too, about to chase her down, then his tracker senses picked something up in the cargo bay, and he hurried up the steps, collecting Breed as the closest man with a gun on the way.

“Is she alright?” Regan asked, torn between going after her daughter and staying with her husband.

“Not sure you can say that about River,” Mal said. “But for a crazy person, she’s doing okay.”

“Will you stop saying that about her!” Gabriel commanded, his voice ringing from the superstructure.

“Why?” Freya moved closer. “She is. She’s the first one to admit it. What they did to her in the Academy took away her propensity for sanity. But she’s with us now. With family. And we help.”

We’re her family,” Regan said, but without much hope of it being true.

Gabriel couldn’t cope, and lay his head back on the medbed, a tear leaking from the corner of his eye to run down into his sparse hair. “I … Andrew told us, but …”

“Believe him,” Freya said.

He gathered himself a little and looked at Simon. “Did they … did they do it with others? Using the same DNA.”

The young doctor was honestly surprised at his shrewdness. “I … yes, I think so. Andrew said when they saw River’s potential they used the same combination for another twelve or so. He told me they didn’t have any success, but it looks like he was mistaken.”

“Your sister.”

“No.” Simon shook his head. “Half-sister.”

“What?” This was Regan. “How can Mara be your –“

Simon interrupted. “No. You might have asked for the same donors, but that wasn't what you got. Our father – whoever he was – was the same. But a different mother.” Simon shook his head. “It almost destroyed River when we found out. You can see her hold on reality is sometimes frail enough, but this …”

Gabriel had gone even paler. “Simon – I didn’t know. I swear I –“

Simon barked a laugh. “Oddly enough, it’s about the one thing I can’t blame you for.” Any humour died. “When she found out she didn’t know who she was. It was only Jayne, that great hulking man who you obviously think isn’t good enough for her, that saved her. His love. His …” He stopped, seeing the man in front of him in distress, and tried to control himself. “She’s lucky to have him.”

“Simon, I never said he wasn't good enough for her.”

“But he’s a mercenary. A killer. He’s whored around half the galaxy and robbed from the other. You’d never have allowed him near the gates, never mind inside the house. He’s –“ Simon paused, seeing Gabriel smile, even though he was clearly upset. “What?”

“Who are you trying to convince, me or yourself?”

Simon’s hands clenched into fists, and he realised he had been guilty of doing exactly what he was now accusing his father. “That isn’t the point.”

“No?” Gabriel lay back again, fighting a sudden fatigue that came over him. “I know you won’t believe me, but I’ll say it anyway. If River is happy, then so am I. Of course I’d envisaged her marrying someone from her own social standing, perhaps even one of your doctor friends, or a patron of the arts who adored her dancing. But, you know … I think she has. She … fits in. Oh, I’m going to speak to him, this man called Jayne, put the fear of God into him if he ever considers hurting my little girl, but …” His eyes were beginning to close. “I'm not the ogre you think I am, Simon,” he managed to say before he slipped into unconsciousness.

“Gabriel?” Regan touched his forehead, concern huge in her eyes.

“He’s only sleeping,” Simon assured her. “The injection I gave him has a sedative effect. It’s what he needs.”

“Thank you,” she said honestly.

He squirmed a little out of embarrassment, but a commotion at the doorway to the common area stopped him from having to respond.

“Cap, you’d better get out here!” Jayne yelled, making the man on the medbed twitch but not wake.

Mal looked at Freya, who nodded and drew her gun, then ran out of the infirmary, Zoe and Dillon at his heels. He pulled up, though, as soon as he got into the bay. “What the …”

Under the close watch of Jayne and Breed, Patience was supervising her men as they loaded Serenity with a dozen crates, all different sizes. “Your cargo, Mal,” she said, smiling wickedly.

“No, it ain’t.”

“You took the job,” the old woman pointed out. “This here’s the stuff.”

“But we know it’s a trap.” Mal slowly slid his gun home in its holster.

“Not my concern.” She tossed him a small bag which he caught reflexively. “And now you’ve been paid.”

Mal sighed. “You’re enjoying this, ain't you?”

“Every damn second.”

Jayne turned begging eyes on his captain. “Can I shoot her? Please?” His gaze was oddly close to the look his niece was so good at, but so much more unsettling.

For a long moment Mal really did consider it, his mind entertaining him with images of the old woman lying flat on her back with a little hole right between the eyes, although as Jayne had one of his bigger handguns out it would probably be fairly large. “No, sorry,” he said finally, and obviously reluctantly. “Besides, Patience still owes us for rescuing her.” He turned to smile at the puo foo. “Don’t you?”

Patience’s good humour turned to annoyance.


Five days fast burn away, another conversation was taking place.

“You really think I’m going to agree with what you’re doing?” Goff had allowed the two men to escort him back to one of the offices, obviously Quintana’s as it looked just the same as the one he’d had when he was with the project. “If you do then you’re crazier than that girl back there.”

Quintana poured a measure of whisky into one of the cut glasses, bringing it back and placing it down in front of Goff before sitting at his desk. “I think you’re going to listen sensibly. We both want the same thing – an end to the Alliance. We knew there would be casualties. There always is, in war. But you had no compunction over using the Reavers against them. You helped me find Mara, bring her back home. Why should this be any different?”

“Of course it is!” Goff insisted indignantly. “The Reavers were an accident, created from good intentions, and we –“

“An accident?” Quintana raised his eyebrows. “Do you really believe that?”

“It’s the truth, everyone knows …” Goff’s voice faltered. “Are you telling me the Alliance created these abominations on purpose?”

“Of course.”

“My God.”

“My dear Chiang, the Miranda broadwave was entirely accurate. In fact, if anything, it didn’t go far enough.” He waved his hand. “But that is irrelevant now. The fact is, Mara’s manipulation of the original Reavers is not complete. But these, her children, will be –“

“Her what?”

“Her children.”

“You mean you used her DNA –“

“Mixed with that of a Reaver we captured, it has proved to be remarkably adaptive.” Quintana seemed pleased to be able to explain. “She’ll have total control. Pinpoint accuracy. We’d be able to set the hybrids down in the middle of Parliament Square and they’d kill just those we wanted. Cleanly and efficiently.”

“But she’s psychic!”

“As are Reavers. How do you think they manage to fly ships? Repair them? Why they don’t just tear each other limb from limb?”

“This is insanity,” Goff said, picking up the whisky and draining it dry in one gulp.

“Perhaps. But didn’t you know that insanity and genius are a mere hair’s breadth apart?”


Quintana shook his head, his colourless eyes glinting in the light. “That is a shame.”

“Shame? Emil, if the others find out, they’re going to do more than just chastise you, you do realise that.”

“I'm sure they will listen to reason.”

“Reason has nothing to do with it, either! They have too much to lose to let you complete this madness.” He sat forward. “If nothing else, they’ll kill to protect themselves. They’ll kill you.”

“I doubt that.” Quintana smiled.

“This … experiment of yours … was never sanctioned! And to use DNA from a psychic … Emil, do you have any idea what you’ve done? At the very least they’re going to be as bad as ordinary Reavers, but what if they’re worse? What if your control isn’t as perfect as you’d like? You let them loose and Mara can’t stop them attacking us all?”

“That won’t happen.”

“You can promise that, can you?” Goff stood up. “You have to destroy them before it’s too late. Before they … they hatch.”

“I can’t do that, Chiang. That would be genocide.” It was clear he honestly believed that.

“You have to. If you don’t I’ll have no choice but to let the others know. And both of us know what their reaction is …” His voice tailed off, and he wondered why there was a singing in his ears.

Goff looked past him towards Ramsey who was standing in the shadows. “It seems she was right.”

“What? Who was right? Who are you …” Pain stabbed through his belly and he doubled over, vomiting onto the carpet.

“Did you have to do it here?” Ramsey asked, his nose wrinkling with slight distaste.

“It doesn’t matter. It will clean up.” Quintana watched dispassionately as Goff slid to the floor, his limbs contorting into shapes no body should attempt. “And I didn’t have anything else to hand. At least, nothing quick.”

“I could have done it for you.” Ramsey caressed the knife at his belt.

“But equally messy.”

“Perhaps. But what would you like me to do with him?”

“I was thinking about one of the other levels, where the walls aren’t quite so secure. Then if anyone finds him, we can say he probably wandered off, and didn’t take care.”

“Shiny.” Ramsey watched Goff’s death throes. “I still say you should have left him to me.”

“Next time,” Quintana promised. “Next time.”

Goff stopped twitching, his eyes sightless, blood turning the foam at his lips pink. Yet even as he died, the poison burning his veins into ash, the spy on his ship was sitting back in his chair, mentally counting the credits that would soon be in his account as he pressed send, the location of the facility speeding across the ‘verse towards his masters.


Mara Tam settled one of the dolls she’d been given against the pillow, admiring the way her golden hair flowed around her painted face with her eyes, while her mind was up in the office, observing Ramsey drag the body of the betrayer out into the corridor.

She had also felt the message being sent, but that didn’t matter. In fact, it was part of her plan. There had to be enough meat here for her friends to feast on, otherwise it wouldn’t be any fun.

Drawing her legs up under her on the bed, she opened her mind, and smiled. At last. The drugs had gone from her system, and she could reach out. Her doppler was there, coloured all distress and anxiety, but as she watched she felt herself being pushed away, a wall built around between them. Interesting. This one, this other half, had power, and it would be fascinating when they finally met. She wondered if she could kill her from here, or at least incapacitate, but that could stop the fun.

Besides, that wasn't her purpose, not right now. She closed her eyes and called.

He heard. The fresh blood spurting into his mouth ran down his scarred chin, and his eyes narrowed. He knew. Recognised. Understood. The man under him struggled, screaming, and with one backhanded blow he broke his neck. No time for this. He lifted his head and howled.

All across the town others listened, joining with him in the unearthly sound, leaving their victims as they headed back for their ships, some with prizes, some with full bellies.

He watched one of his brothers head towards him, a woman across his shoulder, bloodied blonde hair falling from his hand. He lashed out, reinforcing the command with his mind, and the other man cowered a little, but dropped the woman. She lay in the red mud, skin ripped from her flesh, unmoving as they boarded, the hatch slamming closed.

The ships took off, uncontained engines shrieking in protest, black smoke coiling after them until they vanished out of atmo, leaving the survivors to stare numbly at the sky.

And on Hera, Mara Tam lay down on her pillow with her face turned to her doll, and went calmly to sleep.

to be continued


Wednesday, October 22, 2008 9:40 AM


I hope this is your Halloween story, cause I don't think it gets too much creepier than this. I don't think Mara has a conscience to feel badly about what she's doing, and that's more horrifying than anything.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 10:46 AM


So Mara is a full on psychotic evil version of River? How horribly scary. Should be good. xD

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 10:56 AM


Absolutely creepifying and so many two timing twisted *hundan* to choose from. Seems we've stepped into somewhere that is going to turn very dark and unpleasant. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 3:11 PM


Seems like "dark and unpleasant" will be an understatement. I can't wait to see where this is going.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:21 AM


I love "dark and unpleasant". U always make the coolest villians.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 5:06 PM


What a truly horrifying scenario for our intrepid crew!


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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]