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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The Alliance have boarded Columbine, while Serenity is hidden amongst the Arachnids. But there are other uninvited guests ... NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1606 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The airlock door opened, and half a dozen soldiers piled through, their officer following. As Mal watched the Feds take up position around them, he could feel Kaylee trembling a little at his side. He put his arm around her briefly, giving her the support she needed. “Just hormones, xiao mei-mei,” he murmured, and was gratified to see her nod.
The officer pulled his jacket into place and eyed each one of them, although his glance skimmed over Kaylee. “I’m Commander Ubermann,” he said finally, slapping his hands together behind his back. “According to the ship’s registry, the owner of this vessel is Alexander Ivan Rostov, resident of Osiris. Which of you is this gentleman?”
Dillon stepped forward. “None of us, actually,” he admitted. “But my name’s Dillon Malfrey. This ship belongs to a friend of mine, Alex Rostov. He loaned her to us so we could visit Hera.” He smiled a little. “Of course, I doubt he thought we’d break down, but I have to say I’m glad that you stopped to help us.”
“I’m sure you are.“ Ubermann raised on eyebrow very slightly. “But I’m sure you understand if I don’t just take your word for it, Mr Malfrey. Do you have any proof of this loan?”
“I didn’t know I had to have.”
“So you have nothing to show that you haven’t, in fact, stolen this vessel? Perhaps even killed the crew and the owner.”
Kaylee bristled, but Mal touched her hand and she subsided.
Dillon didn’t appear to have noticed. “Do you really think a man in my position would do that? And if you need references, I have a number of high-ranking friends in the Persephone legislature who would be more than willing to vouch for me.” There was an edge to his voice - barely detectable, but there, nevertheless, even though it was hardly more than the hint of a threat.
“Really.” Ubermann shook his head slightly. “And just why were you going to Hera?”
Breed spoke up. “We’re going to see the Serenity Monument.”
Ubermann smiled. “Where the Independents were finally put down,” he said. “Any particular reason?”
“Does there have to be?” Dillon asked. “It’s on all the tourist maps.”
“But at this time, with all of these suggestions of Reavers moving in …”
“Ain’t the great Alliance always held that they don’t exist?” Mal put in. “That they’re just something made up to scare children?”
Ubermann redirected his attention. “And you are?”
Mal hitched his thumbs into his suspenders. “Reynolds. Malcolm Reynolds. I’m flying this boat for these good people.”
“Mr Reynolds.” Ubermann tapped his fingers against his thigh. “You are, of course, quite right. Reavers don’t exist. Pirates, on the other hand, do, and I’m surprised a vessel such as this hasn’t had a run-in with them.”
“Nope.” Mal shook his head. “Not seen hide nor hair of either of ‘em.”
“Really.” Ubermann studied them closely. “And if I search this ship, I won’t find anything … untoward?”
Dillon drew himself up. “Search away. We have nothing to hide.”
“Oh, I intend to.” He rubbed his hands together. “And we shall be continuing this very interesting conversation on board my ship.”
“Now look here -”
Ubermann gave up the last of his patience. “No. You look. You’re in a very under-travelled area of space, on board a ship you admit you don’t own, and I for one don’t believe you.”
“I can assure you -”
“And I can assure you I intend getting to the truth behind this. And at the very least, confirm you are who you say you are.”
“Oh, we are,” Dillon said.
Kaylee took a tentative pace forward. “Sir? If’n it’s all the same to you, I need to get on with fixing this boat, ‘cause she ain’t going nowhere without it.”
Ubermann’s lip curled at the sound of the Rim accent, and he looked her up and down. “You’re an engineer?”
“A mechanic. And I’d kinda like to get on with my job.”
“If I decide to impound your ship, you won’t need to worry about that.”
“And if you decide to impound her, you’re still gonna have to fix her, so you might as well’ve done that first.”
He glared at her, but she wasn’t about to back down. “Very well.” He pointed to one of the soldiers. “You, stay with her. Don’t let her out of your sight.”
“And if I need some parts?” the young woman continued. “Can’t know exactly what went wrong ‘til I’ve crawled inside her.”
Ubermann suppressed a sigh. “Within reason.”
“So I can’t ask for a new compression coil?”
“Kaylee.” This was Mal.
“Tell the soldier what you need. If we have it available, you can use it.” Ubermann was anxious to get back aboard Iolanthe. “Bring the rest of them,” he ordered, turning on his heel and heading back for the airlock but pulled up short. “Captain Bennett.”
Greg Bennett stood in the way, his hands either side of the door. “Okay, enough is enough.”
This time the sigh wouldn’t be stopped. “Captain Bennett, you have to go back to your quarters.”
“No. First you refuse to let me and my crew back onto Goliath, then you drag us halfway across the galaxy, and now you’re interfering with more honest people. Just where do you get off having the right to do this?”
“Right?” Ubermann was suddenly in his face. “I have the right of the Alliance behind me, to keep space free from scum of all kinds. And right now it wouldn’t surprise me to find out these honest people of yours aren’t part of the pirate ring we’re chasing.”
Bennett lost control of his temper. “Gorramit, I told you, it wasn’t pirates!”
“No, of course, it was Reavers. Who left survivors to tell the tale.” He shook his head. “Let me get on with my job.” He pushed past the irate captain. “Bring them,” he ordered.
“Frey?” Simon was gripping the back of the pilot’s chair, his fingers digging into the covering.
“She’s alright,” Freya said from the other seat, staring out into the black, seeing but not watching the slowly moving field of debris. She was concentrating on maintaining her link with Mal. “They’re going to let her repair Columbine.”
“I didn’t mean that.”
She turned to look at him. “She’s not feeling sick. She’s not in pain. If anything, she’s looking forward to getting to grips with the engine.”
Simon shook his head. “That wife of mine is going to make me go grey,” he muttered, but his hold on the seat didn’t loosen.
Ubermann led the way deeper into Iolanthe, until Mal began to wonder if he’d be able to find his way back without a map. This scout vessel was nowhere near as big as the interplanetary ships, but it was big enough.
I’ll help, he heard Freya in his mind, and he had to suppress a smile. Of course she was still with him.
I still say we should have come back for you.
And got bound. Not having that happen, ai ren. You just sit tight. We’ll be on our merry sooner’n you can blink.
Is that a promise?
He could hear the ironic tone behind the thoughts, and this time it was harder not to let his lips lift.
They turned a corner, and Dillon moved closer. “You should have hidden like I said,” he said quietly, barely vocalising.
Mal shook his head slightly. “And they were gonna search, one way or another. If they’d found me, then what? That really would’ve put the cat among the pigeons, wouldn’t it?”
“Don’t tell me. One of Freya’s sayings?”
“Nope. This one was my Ma’s. And she had another I’ve always found worth remembering. Don’t stir up a hornet’s nest ‘less you have to.”
“I don’t recall ever hearing that one before.”
“Obviously never done it at the height of summer when the creek’s almost dried.”
“Least there’s no active warrants out on me at the moment,” Mal said, ignoring the other man’s confusion. “I’d say that puts us in an advantageous position.”
“You have an odd way of looking on the bright side,” Dillon said.
“Better than thinking it’s all going to go to hell before we even hit Hera.” He dropped his voice even lower. “Got more’n enough of that waiting for us as it is.”
“I have the terrible feeling you’re right.”
Ubermann stopped outside a door. “Take the other men down to the holding cell. Mr Reynolds can wait in here until I‘m ready.”
“Shiny.” Mal smiled tightly as he felt the barrel of a rifle press none too gently into the small of his back to urge him into the interrogation room.
It wasn’t as bad as she’d thought. If anything, the fuel flare had shown where the damage was, and once the area was cool enough to climb into, Kaylee had found the trouble in a matter of minutes. Not that she let on to the soldier still keeping her company.
“C’n you pass me that micro-welder?” she asked, pointing to a piece of equipment just out of reach.
The soldier peered into the deep recess where Kaylee was working, and gripped his rifle more securely. “I don’t know that I should.”
“Just need a hand, is all. And, truth is, if I let go of this it’ll spray us both, and that won’t be good.”
He glanced over his shoulder, almost as if he was making sure no-one could see him assisting this possible ne’er-do-well, then picked it up. “Here,” he said, holding it out.
“No, you’re gonna have to come inside and give it to me.” She grinned. “And don’t worry. I ain’t gonna bite.”
He looked over his shoulder once more, then, muttering under his breath, he propped his rifle against the engine housing and crawled into the space.
She smiled widely at him. “Thanks.” She took the welder and got into position. “Here. Hold this.”
“Is there nothing I can do?” Gabriel said, rubbing his hands over and around themselves as if he was cold. “I used to be a man of some influence in society.”
Regan slipped her arm through his. “But not for some time, dear,” she said softly. “Not really since Simon got River out of the Academy.”
“No, I suppose not,” he conceded sadly.
“What do you mean?” Simon leaned forward. “What effect could it possibly have had on you?”
“Oh, my dear.” Regan almost laughed. “Do you have any idea what having two fugitives in the family does? We suddenly found our friends didn’t return our waves, and regular invitations to events dried to almost nothing.”
“I’m sorry we put a crimp in your social life.”
Gabriel couldn’t take the cold tone, not after they’d made such progress. “No, Simon, that’s not it at all. Your mother and I couldn’t have cared less about not going to dinner or the opera. If anything, it proved just who our friends really were. It was much more that we found it impossible to talk to people who might have been able to help us find out where you’d gone. People who felt they had too much to lose.”
“And if you had found us? What would you have done?”
Gabriel looked at Regan for help, and it was she who said, “Honestly, we don’t know. It wasn’t until later, until Andrew insisted you were right, that we began to believe what you’d been saying.”
“Then you’d probably have sent her back.”
Hank, in the pilot’s chair, reached for Zoe’s hand, feeling it slip into his as he waited for Simon’s response. At the back of the bridge, Jayne tightened his arm around River’s waist, while Alex held his breath. Only Freya, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, didn’t seem to be taking much notice as she stared out of the bridge windows and concentrated on keeping contact with Mal, but even she was listening.
Simon finally stirred. “Then … it’s good that you didn’t find us.” He looked into Gabriel’s face. “It must have made things difficult for you.”
Gabriel swallowed painfully. “It wasn’t easy. But we had no idea what your sister was going through, and we know now that was worse.”
The two Tams looked at each other, and for once there was understanding between them. Regan squeezed her husband’s arm.
It could have been ten minutes or as much as half an hour sitting in the interrogation room, waiting for Ubermann. There was no clock, and even though he’d tried to strike up something of a dialogue with the two soldiers keeping him under watch, Mal hadn’t managed to get one word out of them. Eventually he just sat, seemingly staring into nothing, but in fact having a deep and meaningful conversation with his wife.
In fact, when Ubermann finally appeared, he was almost annoyed at being interrupted. Not that the Alliance Commander said anything. He merely paced the room, reading from a hard file.
Mal sighed, unable to help bringing to mind a previous time he’d been in just such a position. That time they’d come across a ship that had been hit by Reavers, taken a survivor on board then had the misfortune to be -
“Captain Malcolm Reynolds.” Ubermann sat down in the chair opposite, placing the file dead centre on the table in front of him. “The hero of Serenity Valley.”
Mal shook his head. “I ain't a hero. Battle like that, definition of a hero is someone who didn’t die.”
“Appropriate that you’re going to show your friends, though. Although I’m somewhat surprised you’d want to go back.”
“Got to lay my demons to rest.”
“It’s taken you a while.”
“Lotta other demons got in the way first.”
“Yes, I should imagine.” Ubermann tapped the file. “You’ve been bound several times, for various offences.”
“And not one of ‘em resulted in anything,” Mal pointed out.
“True. You do seem to have quite the lucky streak.”
“Maybe I’m just a law-abiding member of society.”
Ubermann pursed his lips. “Of course.”
“And nothing to prove otherwise.”
The Fed leaned back in his chair, his hands clasped across his stomach. “So where’s your vessel? We have a note that you run a Firefly-class transport.”
“She’s in dock at the moment,” Mal said, lying easily. “Got a few things need fixing, and didn’t have the cash to hand, so I took this job to pay to get her back up and running.”
“And where, exactly, is this dock?”
Mal allowed his eyes to narrow slightly. “Why would you be interested?”
Kaylee wiped the excess sealant from around the valve, then glanced over her shoulder. “My name’s Kaylee. What’s yours?”
“I don’t think I should be -”
“Just asking your name. Just so‘s I know what to call you, instead of hey you.” She smiled at him again. ‘Sides, you look awful young to be a pur … a soldier.”
“Oh, then I apologise.”
“It’s okay. I always did look younger than I am. It’s partly why I joined up, so I could …” He stopped, and a red tide crossed his face.
“So you could wear the uniform?” Kaylee supplied, tightening the connection. “I’m sure you get lots of girls ‘cause of it.”
“A few,” he admitted. “And it’s Brendan. My name.”
“Hi.” He waved a hand slightly, then turned pink again.
“So where’re you from?” Beyond them she could see soldiers still searching the ship.
“Me? Oh, a place no-one’s ever heard of.”
Brendan glanced over his shoulder. “Place called Jangyin.”
Kaylee sat up. “Ooh, I do know it! Friend of mine’s son lives there.”
“Went to his wedding a while back.”
“I couldn’t wait to get away,” Brendan admitted.
“Nothing wrong with that either,” Kaylee said stoutly. “Needed to see the black myself.” She crawled past him and stood up, wiping her hands down her coveralls.
“Nearly. I just need one more part.”
“We’ve been tracking pirates, as I said,” Ubermann explained, his lips curving. “We lost their engine signature a little while back, but then we got word of a New Browncoat base on Hera. And just as we’re getting close, here you are. A famous Independent.”
Mal shook his head. “I’m just a transport captain doing a job of work. Wouldn’t know one of these New Browncoats if they up and bit me.”
“But you’re not denying you’ve heard of them.”
“That’d be a mite stupid of me, don’t you think? In my line of work, I hear a lot of stuff. ‘Bout revolution and rebellion. Hell, even heard me about a new kind of weapon that’s gonna save the Alliance, but I don’t put much credence in that.”
Ubermann sat up. “New weapon?”
Mal shrugged. “I’ve been hearing about stuff like that for years, since the end of the war. It’s got to the point where I don’t really take it in any more.”
“And you think that is going to persuade me you’re not interested in overthrowing the Alliance.”
“You know, truth is, I’ve never been interested in that. Just making sure me and mine are allowed to go on our own way, without undue interference. It’s called freedom, in case you ain’t heard of it.”
“And what about civilisation?” Ubermann asked. “Are you saying you’d prefer to do without all the technological advances? The medical breakthroughs?”
“Not saying that at all. But I don’t see that it means the Alliance can justify a stranglehold on us, just ‘cause they decide we need ‘civilising’.”
“I don’t think we should be here,” Brendan said, worry evident in his voice.
They’d hurried through the lower levels of the scout ship to Iolanthe‘s engine room, and Kaylee’s eyes had lit up at the equipment laid out in front of her.
She turned on the young man. “Why not? Your cap’n said I could use whatever I could find.”
“That’s not quite how he put it.”
“It’s what he meant. And I ain’t gonna be taking stuff I shouldn’t.” She picked up a wrench and slid it into the long pocket on the leg of her coveralls then grinned at him.
“And what’s wrong with civilisation?” Ubermann asked, aware he was being drawn into an argument and away from the point of the interrogation, but content for the moment to allow this man the semblance of control.
“Nothing. If the folks out here want it. But who says they do?”
“Of course they do.”
“You asked ‘em?” Mal placed his hands palm down on the table. “How long you been out here, Commander? I’m just curious. How long have you been patrolling these border planets?”
“I’ve been out here a mite longer. And I’m here to tell you, out here at the back of nowhere, all people want is a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, and some way to keep warm. Anything else is extras, luxuries. If they can keep their kids from dying, that’s a bonus. Hell, I’ve seen whole towns dead or dying ‘cause there ain’t no rain to irrigate the crops, no food to feed hungry mouths, so nothing else to do but lay down and die. And I don’t see the Alliance coming to the rescue.”
“You don’t have much respect for the Alliance, do you?”
“I have none at all. You can’t make people behave: it ain’t in their nature. People ain’t changed in a thousand years – civilization’s just a word.” He leaned forward. “You talk about Reavers and say they don’t exist. Well, I’ve seen ‘em, close up, closer than you are to me, and I can tell you that they’re real. Except they wouldn’t be plaguing us if the almighty gorram Alliance weren’t trying to civilise everyone, and they ain‘t even attempting to do anything about the problem.”
“You’re talking about the Miranda broadwave. That was merely propaganda, a fiction put together by -”
“Fiction?” Mal laughed, but there was no humour in it. “You’re lucky, but that kinda luck ain’t gonna last. You’ll come across a moon hit by ‘em, or a town, a homestead. Maybe you’ll be real unlucky and come across one of their boats taking down a ship, and you’ll try and intervene. That happens, and you survive, you come find me, and you tell me what civilization means.”
“You know, it’s nice to see an engine that’s so clean,” Kaylee said, leaning over the housing. “Most of the ones I’ve worked on make you need a shower just by looking at ‘em.”
Brendan jumped as he heard a noise. “Look, I think we’d better be getting back.”
She grinned at him. “Sure. No problem. I got what I need. Only I think you’re gonna have to lead the way, ‘cause I ain’t sure I remember all the twists and turns.”
The young man smiled at her, more relaxed now they were leaving. “It’s easy. Just follow me.”
“Weren’t thinking of doing anything else.” She hefted the part in her hands. “After you.”
They walked out of the engine room, and in the shadows below the main coupling monitor a small palm-size device lurked, waiting.
There was silence for a long moment as both men stared at each other. It was only broken by the door opening and a junior officer entering.
“Yes?” Ubermann said sharply. “What is it?”
“Our long range sensors have picked up a number of vessels heading this way, sir.”
Ubermann looked up. “A fleet?”
“No, sir. They appear to be coming from different directions, but …”
The lieutenant glanced at Mal, but said, “None of them appear to have proper containment on their core systems, sir. Even at this range we’re picking up high levels of radioactivity.”
Ubermann stared at him, then was on his feet in a moment and was out of the door, his officer following him.
Mal sat back, air escaping his lungs in a long, drawn-out sigh. He watched the two guards exchange looks. “Well, well,” he said, shaking his head a little. “Speak of the devil.”
to be continued
Thursday, November 13, 2008 8:22 AM
Thursday, November 13, 2008 1:27 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2008 3:23 PM
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