BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

CBSTEVE

River's Run - Part 10
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Inara makes a date with Paulo Chase, Mal gets back his first love, and Shin plans the next move in the galactic chess match.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1903    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

River’s Run – Part 10

Simon and River had just met for the first time since River’s arrest which seemed so long ago, but wasn’t really. Kaylee and Jayne were with them, everyone catching each other up on what had been happening in their little corner of the verse the last few days. They were in the cargo bay of the Rose, a freighter Mal had hired to take him, Jayne, Zoe, and Wash to Sihnon, to meet up with Inara and, as they later learned, to deal with the Paulo Chase problem. But all of that was put aside for the moment as the assassination of Alliance Prime Minister Susan Blakely in a brutal attack on Londinium changed the whole situation. In addition, Admiral Shin had ordered an attack on Justin Powers, Blakely’s pick for the position of Chancellor. The attack failed and now Powers believed Shin had killed Blakely and was trying to take over the government.

“What’s gonna happen now?” Kaylee asked forlornly.

“Mal thinks Shin’s gonna come looking for him,” Jayne said. “That there disk with that scientist talking about what they did to Miranda ain’t no good for blackmail anymore. Mal thinks Shin be happy if we play it, make Cutter and Blakely and those before her look real bad. Make people think putting the military in charge is a good idea.”

“Shin won’t use it, will destroy it if he gets a chance,” River said with confidence. “The Reavers don’t exist as far as the government is concerned. The military went to Haven and Miranda to battle the Reavers, not rebels. Too many soldiers know this.”

“Yeah, and anyone of them opens their mouth they’ll get a pistol in it,” Jayne said

Charlie the engineer came down to the cargo bay and interrupted them. He was in a steady stride down the stairs and then he saw them and he stopped and his eyes went wide.

“Are you…yes, it’s you…its Kaylee Frye!’ Charlie said in awe as he came down the rest of stairs of the cargo bay of the Rose.

“Ah, yeah. I’m me,” Kaylee said in confusion and then Charlie came up to her and just wrapped his arms around her, to Kaylee and everyone’s surprise.

“Thank you, thank you,” he said as he stood back, letting her go. “Oh, sorry…just wanted to do that…say I did that….you don’t know what you mean to us…all of us mechanics on all of these ships….you’re our hero.”

“Gosh,” Kaylee said, almost turning red. “I didn’t do it all by myself.”

“Kaylee…” Simon said in a warning tone. “I think what my wife means is that she had some…help, from Serenity’s crew. Isn’t that right, Jayne?”

“What? Oh, yeah, course. I tightened a few bolts and soldered a few parts myself.”

Charlie didn’t care, wasn’t listening to them. “Can I see it? Can I see the Frye Drive?”

Kaylee put on a disappointed look. “Sorry. Alliance owns the ship now. Won’t let just anyone on board.”

His face fell and he nodded, most likely expecting this answer. ‘I thought so.”

There was an awkward moment of silence and then River looked at him, like she knew something. “Charlie, did you want to tell us something?”

“Oh, right. Mr. Reynolds wants Mr. Cobb and Miss Tam to come over to Serenity. And the Doctor and Kaylee are to stay here for now, now matter what you hear or what happens.”

“What’s going on?” Jayne asked, suddenly on guard.

“Don’t know,” said Charlie. “That’s the message. Well, been nice meeting you, Miss…”

“Just call me Kaylee,” Kaylee quickly said.

“Kaylee,” Charlie said with a smile and then he left them alone and headed to the upper deck.

“River can’t go over there,” Kaylee said with worry, after Charlie was out of earshot.

“The ship is full of soldiers,” Simon said. “She’s wanted.”

River wasn’t listening, was stretching her mind, searching for Mal’s. She picked it out of the others, heard him thinking very loud, asking for her, and then she knew.

“Mal has a plan. Jayne and I are part of it. Give me a gun,” she said to Jayne.

“What?” Simon and Jayne said at the same time.

River sighed. “Mal has a plan to take back Serenity. I’m to go on board and pretend to surrender and when Oren, who I guess is the officer in charge, and his men are distracted, Mal, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, Powers are to take over the ship after they get the drop on the Alliance. But I’m not going there without a gun. Mal’s plans…sometimes they don’t work out.”

“No kidding,” Jayne said with heavy sarcasm. “Give me a minute, I got a real small one you can hide in your clothes.” He stood and headed for his duffel bag in the corner of the cargo bay.

Simon was worried more now than before. “This is a bad idea…taking back Serenity…he’ll make fugitives of all of us.”

Kaylee wasn’t worried, she was secretly glad and had trouble controlling the look of joy on her face and she knew Simon knew how she felt and disapproved. “It’s the right thing, Simon. Oh, don’t look at me like that!”

“I’m sorry, but I thought we agreed to work for the Alliance.”

“I agreed to work for a woman who is now dead!” Kaylee shot back. “Most likely killed by those…those…bastards!” The last she said in Chinese, but it still shocked Simon and River, who rarely ever heard a cuss word out of Kaylee. “I’m sorry, but I ain’t working for them, not without a civilian government in charge. Not to make them more powerful.”

“Kaylee….your father?” Simon said, thinking she hadn’t thought of what they would do to him, but she had and her face didn’t change one bit.

“He has a plan, an escape plan,” Kaylee said quietly, almost like she was embarrassed, and Simon’s face showed his surprise.

“A plan? To escape? When was I going to be let in on the plan?”

“I’m sorry! He made me promise not to tell you. He started making the plan once we got back to Taos. He didn’t want to go through what he through before, when Cutter took him. He has a ship, an old ship he’s been working on for years, just a hobby. Told you he was a pilot on freighters long time ago. Ship works like a charm. It’s deep in the forest near New Shanghai. I send the word, he and Mary pack up and hit the black. Me and you too if we had to, if we were there when things went sour.”

Simon was flabbergasted. “Are there anymore secrets?”

“No,” Kaylee said like a little girl and knew he was mad. He could see the shame on her face and couldn’t stay mad for long.

Simon sighed deeply, looked to his wife and his sister. “Sorry, Kaylee. I’m just a little…put out. We can’t have any secrets, but you were right to listen to your father and he was wise to have a plan. I guess we become fugitives. Again. Better to join River than to be separated again.”

He reached out and held River’s hand and then Kaylee’s with his other hand and all three joined hands and felt the warmth and love for each other

“What a touching moment,” Jayne said with sarcasm as he came back to them, overhearing most of what was said. “Looks like we ain’t got a choice anyways, Doc. I bet Shin got us all marked for death, too, knowing Mal, knowing about the Reavers, and now we know about this business with trying to kill Powers.”

“And the Prime Minister’s attackers,” River said.

“What about the attackers?” Kaylee asked, confused.

“I know them,” she said to their disbelief. “They were my classmates.”

**************************************

On Londinium a long night was ending and the sun rising but Admiral Shin still sat in his Fleet HQ office, going over the reports coming in from across the galaxy, sending messages to his confederates, assessing the situation, judging when the time might be right. MacCready reported that all trace of the attackers had been removed from Athenian Island. All those who knew them were eliminated. Byrd’s search for Serenity was fruitless, as Shin expected, the ship was nowhere near Haven or Miranda. He had sent a ground team down to Miranda to make sure Powers was not still there. The body of the assassin was not there and the second assassin was no where to be found, more than likely gone with Serenity. Shin suspected Powers kept the body onboard Serenity as evidence to be used later, making it more important the ship be found and destroyed along with all on board, including the Alliance personnel, who knew too much. The actions of the other assassin, Bowen, disturbed Shin. If one of them can go against orders, then others could, too. So far Tam and Bowen were the only two to exhibit such traits. Shin suddenly realized why.

He turned on his internal computer and searched for the files MacCready had sent him on all the students. Shin hadn’t had to time to go through them all and now knew it was a mistake. He knew Tam was a psychic and now he knew Bowen was too after he scanned his file. Gorramn it! How many more were like them? A quick check showed two more. One had checked in and had been sent to Paquin to search for Tam before they realized she wasn’t there. The other was still out there, and hadn’t responded to any subliminal sent over the Cortex. It could mean she just didn’t see them or she was dead. Or she could be off programming also. Could the psychics ignore the subliminal messages?

No, the other, a young man, had checked in and so had Bowen before being sent to Taos. His orders to kill Powers had been given to his companion, Stephan Resnik, 24, from Sihnon, going by the alias of Lieutenant Ames. Those orders had not been given through a subliminal message. Could Shin activate Bowen again with a subliminal? Could he activate River Tam? Now Shin regretted the order to kill Dr. Sexton if he opposed them. Such a man did have a place in the new order, if he could have been convinced to see the light like MacCready had been.

“Sir, he has arrived,” said his aide and the Operative was shown into the room.

Shin did not like using them, but now found it necessary. Cutter’s lackeys, he used to jokingly call them in the past. They had no loyalty to anyone except the person in charge. Called Operatives of the Parliament, that was an archaic term from another age. They were Cutter’s people and now they were Shin’s. He knew who some of them were, from contact in various operations during the war. This one Shin had found first, soon after Cutter’s death, and told him that the Ministry of the Interior would soon be under his power. The Operative simply asked if there was a mission for him. Shin suspected this man craved missions, needed them to give his life a purpose. Shin gave him a mission: contact his brethren and stand by for orders.

“It has been done?” Shin asked without any formalities.

“Yes,” the Operative said. “The evidence has been destroyed. She did not send it to anyone. The young man is also dead.”

“Good. And the assassins?”

“The same. My teams are disposing of all evidence now.”

“My security team said Cutter had a video recording device in my conference room, designed to activate at the sound of my voice and begin recording,” Shin said.

“He was very wise and devious,” the Operative replied. “He did not die of a heart attack, did he?”

“That’s what I was told. He died of a heart attack. Of course, I was here, not with the fleet so I have no idea.” Shin was not going to tell this man anything about Reavers or Miranda, not unless he had to.

“Someone killed him,” the Operative answered, not a question, just a simple statement of fact. “He was very healthy, always was. There are ways to make it look like a heart attack.”

“I’m sure there are. Do you still harbor any loyalty toward Cutter or the Parliament?”

The Operative just stared at him, coldly, without emotion. “We are an instrument of the government, not loyal to any one individual. If you are giving the orders, we will obey.”

“The death of the Prime Minister does not bother you or your brethren?”

“Would it matter now?”

“No,” Shin said as he stood, glad this was not going to be an issue. “You have a new mission.”

He walked around his desk and passed the Operative a file folder. The Operative opened it and started reading. He held up a picture. It was River Tam.

“River Tam,” the Operative said with almost a hint of joy in his voice. “I chased her for over a year before giving up. Others had gotten close to her but failed. I was called in, but she had disappeared. No hint for four years. Now she is escaping from prison ships, killing Alliance soldiers, shooting and beating up ruffians in parks on Paquin. Is she still there?”

“We suspect she is on a ship called the Rose, a freighter heading to Sihnon at last report,” Shin said. “A search was made, twice, but she was not found. There were some irregularities, both times, so she could be still there. Find the ship, find her, and kill her and anyone with her.”

Shin handed over photos of Powers and Bowen. “These people as well. They are on Serenity. They are also part of you’re new assignment. Use whatever resources and people necessary, but keep the military out of the loop. Your people or civilian contacts only.”

“Justin Powers, war hero. No wonder you don’t want the military to know. And this one?” he asked, holding the photo of Bowen.

“Derek Bowen. He is just like Tam. There is some information you may not have been aware of last time. Tam is a psychic, can read minds, sense emotions in people. Bowen apparently has the same ability.”

“That is very interesting.”

“Tam is secondary for now. Powers and Bowen are the priority. Find Serenity, you find them.”

“I thought Serenity was under the control of the Alliance? It’s been all over the Cortex.”

“I don’t know who controls Serenity anymore. We’ve been out of contact since the…loss…of the Prime Minister.”

The Operative nodded, barely listening, but still absorbing the information. He looked at River Tam’s picture again. The one that got away. Where are you hiding, little girl?

******************************************

River wasn’t hiding anymore. She walked through the airlock onto Serenity.

“I surrender,” River said in a very loud voice as she sank to her knees in the cargo bay of Serenity and put her hands behind her head. Three soldiers looked at her in puzzlement.

“Who are you, love?” one asked in an accent like Badger’s, straight from the Dayton Colony.

“She’s a wanted fugitive!” yelled Oren as he scrambled down the stairs to the cargo bay. He pulled his pistol and walked up to River, pointed it straight at her. “River Tam, you are bound by law!”

“Not so fast,” Mal said as he stepped out from the passenger area with his pistol pointed at Oren. At the same moment Jayne stepped out of the airlock with Vera, Wash and Zoe stood on the upper catwalk with guns pointed down below. As Oren turned his head, in one swift move River leaped to her feet, knocked Oren’s pistol away from him and before he could move had her own small pistol out from her clothes and right at his head.

“Drop your guns,” Mal told the soldiers and the three meekly complied. Jayne moved in and started picking up weapons.

“Reynolds, this is the gallows for you!” Oren shouted. “Where’s Powers? What have you done with him?”

“I’m right here,” Powers said as he stepped out from behind Mal. “Captain Oren, I am commandeering this ship in the name of the people of the galaxy.”

“This is madness,” Oren said, fully understanding what they were doing now.

“I think there’s been enough madness for one day,” Mal said as he and Powers walked up to Oren. Mal looked up at Zoe. “I think we’re missing a few people. Go round up the rest.”

“Aye, sir,” Zoe replied and as she went to go find the engineers, pilot, and anyone else, River suddenly shouted.

“A soldier!”

He appeared from the passenger area, just walking, gun slack at his side and was surprised by the scene. He saw civilians, guns pointed at his captain, his fellows with their arms in the air, and his weapon came up on instinct. Mal had the only clear shot and raised his pistol and fired at the same time as the soldier, before anyone could shout for him or the soldier to stop. Oren saw Powers in directly line of fire and knocked him down and threw his body in front of the Colonel. He took two bullets to the chest before Mal’s second shot hit the soldier and down he went.

The gun shots were loud and shocking and everyone came running, including Simon, Kaylee and the crew of the Rose.

“Doc!” Mal shouted and Simon ran to Oren, his bag still in his hand from earlier. Jayne ran to the soldier, took one look and saw he was dead, a bullet entering his forehead just under the helmet rim.

Simon bent over Oren, blood coming in spurts from his chest, the captain trying to speak, looking for Powers.

“Why did you do it?” Powers asked as he held his hand.

“Because,” Oren gasped, blood gurgling in his mouth. “The people…they need…you. Don’t…don’t…fail them,” And then he sighed and was gone.

“Gorramn it!” Mal shouted. “Wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

“Nothing ever is,” said Wash sadly.

Mal looked at them all, soldiers, pilot, the engineers, and from their looks knew he was a criminal once again. Strangely, that felt a little bit comforting. At least he knew where he stood and could act accordingly.

“Get your stuff and get the hell off my ship,” he said with menace.

No one moved, still too stunned and more than a little confused. Finally, the pilot spoke. “Get off? Where?”

“The Rose,” Mal said, pointing a meaty finger at the airlock

Now Pritchard was getting mad. “I ain’t signed on to be part of this mutiny!”

“No, and I didn’t ask you so you wouldn’t get in trouble. You take them or I throw them all out the airlock after you leave.”

More than one Alliance person gulped or started sweating and all looked to Pritchard, who just shook his head in disbelief. Never taking passengers again rest of my life, he though. Too much trouble. If Mal could have read his thoughts he would have agreed.

“Gorramn it” Pritchard said and then looked at them. “Get your stuff and get on the Rose!”

Jayne, Wash, and Zoe made sure none had a weapon on him and a few moments later people started moving.

“He was sleeping,” said one of the soldiers, pointing to the dead soldier, as they walked by his body as they went to get their stuff from the passenger rooms, Jayne, Zoe, and Wash with guns at their backs. “Time for duty. Guess he figured you were trying to take the ship.”

“We are,” said Jayne.

As the Alliance people went about getting their things, carefully watched by Serenity’s crew, Mal started giving orders.

“Kaylee, go with River and get our stuff from the Rose,” Mal said and Kaylee and River said yes and were soon gone.

“I’ll give a hand,’ said Charlie, ignoring the dirty look his captain gave him. Pritchard then looked at his pilot, Anna, and Lee, the other crewman.

“Well, go on and help them! Faster I’m away from this bunch happier I’ll be.”

Anna laid a hand on his arm. “Take it easy, Wayne. Least we got paid.”

Simon folded Oren’s hands on his stomach and just knelt looking at him.

“Nothin’ you could have done, Doc,” Mal said.

“I know,” Simon replied quietly as he stood. “He was a good man. Didn’t deserve to die this way. I wonder if he had a family?”

“We’ll take him,” said Pritchard, softening his tone a bit. “We’ll take them both, hand them over to their families.”

Mal looked at him. “Thanks. Sorry for the trouble.”

The Rose’s captain grinned somewhat. “Well, she’s right. We got paid. And it ain’t been boring, that’s for sure. Just hope they don’t wonder why we were carrying a fugitive.”

“I think they might forget in all the excitement. Or just tell them you didn’t know who she was. They might just believe you. No matter what, if I was you, I’d just drop them off at the nearest Alliance outpost, skedaddle and lay low for a while.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

In fifteen minutes all was taken care of. The two bodies were wrapped up in sheets and transferred to the Rose, all Mal and his gang’s stuff was returned to Serenity, and the Rose’s crew said goodbye and they and the Alliance people left, bags in hand. The pilot was the last one off. He looked at Wash.

“Not too many pilots can say they went faster than light.”

“Only two in the verse. Me and you,” Wash said with a grin.

He could see the pilot was awed by this. He looked around. “She’s a sweet ride. I’ll miss her,” he said and Wash just smiled and shook his hand before he left.

“Best compliment I’ve ever heard,” Wash said to the others and he could see the look of joy on Kaylee’s face as she felt the same way.

The airlock was closed and the connection broken. Mal stood there with his crew, looked around, and smiled. Everyone couldn’t help it, and felt good, even Simon a bit, being with his sister again helping him get over the blood on the floor, and the fact that they were outlaws again. They were home.

“Orders, sir?” Zoe asked Mal, ignoring Powers, who now felt more like a passenger than the man supposedly in charge.

Mal looked at Zoe. “Sihnon. Someone is still missing.”

*****************************************

“Inara, how beautiful you look,” Paulo Chase said as he led Inara into his luxurious dining room.

Inara was beautiful, and dressed in her finest, with her hair piled high, and just the right hint of perfume on her neck. She was back in his mansion, and she was there to kill him and nothing else. Of, course, Paulo didn’t know that.

“Thank you, Paulo,” she said as he held out a chair for her to sit down. “I’m so glad you asked me to come.”

“After your message, how could I refuse,” he replied as he sat opposite her. A servant came in and poured some wine for them. “So, what does Malcolm Reynolds say?”

That was how she got to see him, the only way she knew. She waved him and told him she had a personal message from Mal to him. She refused to tell him except face to face and she knew he would accept.

“First, I want to ask you one more time to let this go and let me go,” Inara said after she sipped some wine, a very fine Osiris brand.

She saw his eyes cloud over slightly and his face muscles grew tight. “Are you playing games with me?”

“No. No games. I want to be free. I am willing to do whatever you want, to let Mal and I be.”

“Anything my heart desires?” he said, his eyes roving from her face to her breasts and back up again.

Inara knew she had to let him do what she wanted, to get close to him. “Anything,” she said in her most seductive voice.

“I thought you were in love with this man.”

“I am. Love means I will do anything for him, even take you in my arms to stop you from killing him.”

“You seemed so sure he would kill me.”

“Nothing is so sure anymore, not after what happened in Londinium this morning.”

“Indeed.”

She held out a hand. ”Shall we?” and her eyes moved to the ceiling and the upper floor where the bedrooms were.

Chase wanted her, she could see it, knew it. She also knew what he was thinking, that he could bed her and kill Mal anyway. That was not going to happen. He was going to die, in the throes of passion, dead from a heart attack from the vial of poison concealed in her clothing. Paulo smiled, took her hand and led her to the upper floors, the instrument of his own death.

*********************************************

John the informer stood in the Head Mistresses office. His hands were scraped and a bit bloody. “He was a tough old bird, but I made him sing. She bought a vial of some drug, a kind of heart medicine, but if too much is used it can cause a heart attack, especially if someone is very healthy. Don’t ask me why, I ain’t a doctor. Murderers use it to make it look like people have a heart attack. Been around for centuries, even on old Earth That Was.”

“Poison?” the Head Mistress said in wonder. She handed an enveloped stuffed with cash to John and he was gone.

The Head Mistress got on her Cortex screen and waved one of her bodyguards. “Where is she?” she asked as soon as he answered his comms device.

“Inside the Chase mansion. Arrived fifteen minutes ago in a taxi,” he said, from his vehicle on the nearby street, outside the gates of the mansion.

“Good God!” the Head Mistress exclaimed. Inara was going to murder Paulo Chase. “Get her out, get her out now!”

******************************************

No sooner were they in the bedroom, than Paulo grabbed Inara and forcible threw her on the bed.

“Now I take what is rightfully mine,” he said with lust in his voice. Inara almost laughed at him, but knew if she did that he would grow angry.

“Be gentle Paulo and I will give you a night you shall never forget. Now kiss me,” she said in her best Companion ways and his mind was bewitched by her beauty and smell and the all consuming lust he had for her for these many years. She beckoned him with a finger and he came to her, removing his suit jacket, loosening his tie and then he was on her, kissing her. Inara let him kiss her and she responded, her training taking over and allowing her to do this with a man she despised.

Inara pushed him off her and down and straddled him, lifting up her dress and letting her thighs encased in nylon stockings rub over his legs. He moaned and she could feel him getting bigger. She rubbed her hands on his face and he opened his mouth to suck on her fingers. As he did so, Inara dumped the whole bottle of poison right in his mouth.

Paulo’s eyes popped open and her sputtered and spit and gasped and half the poison went in and the other out half came out. Inara looked at him in triumph and slid off him and stood next to the bed.

“What have you done?” he gasped and already sweat poured from his face, his lips began to tremble, and he clutched his chest in agony.

“I’ve killed you. Just like you killed my father, you son-of-a-bitch!” Inara said with as much venom as she could muster.

Paulo’s eyes blazed with anger and he tried to speak, but couldn’t. He managed to sit up and then clutched his chest again, his face a mask of agony, and then he stood, reached for her, and fell like a stone, dead at her feet. An immense wave of relief came over Inara. It was finally over.

She put the bottle back in her clothing pocket. Then she picked up Paulo, not an easy task, he was so heavy, and laid him on the bed. She removed his clothing and then put him under the covers. She closed his eyes, looked at him and if she didn’t know any better would think he was sleeping. Now to escape. Then a knock came to the door.

“Mr. Chase?” his servant said. “There is a visitor for Miss Serra.”

“One second,” she said and then straightened her clothing. After a deep breath she came out and smiled her million watt smile.

“A visitor? For me?”

He couldn’t help but smile, an elderly man who had been with the Chase family a long time. “Yes, a man is asking for you.”

Inara didn’t know who it could be, but kept up the act. “Thank you. Oh, and I’ll be leaving now. Mr. Chase has retired for the night. Said he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to sleep.”

“But it is only 8 o’clock.”

Inara shrugged. “Well, to tell the truth, he’s a bit embarrassed. He had too much to drink and, you know…he, well, he…I don’t want to say any more. Let’s just say...he’s ‘tired.’”

“Ah, I understand, ‘tired’. Okay, we’ll let him sleep.”

Inara went down the stairs with the servant and immediately recognized one of the bodyguards from the Companion Guild.

“Good evening Miss Serra. You are wanted back at the Guild. An important client has asked for you and has refused to take no for an answer.”

Inara was immediately on guard. The phrase just spoken was one used to signal to Companions to get out of a place immediately. It meant that there was something wrong with the client, whether he or she was psychotic and a danger to the Companion, whether they were using the Companion to blackmail someone, or if drugs were involved, or some other illegal activity that could get the Guild and the Companion in trouble.

“Of course,” Inara said to him. “I will come at once.” She bade a good night to the servant and then left.

“What’s going on?” she asked as soon as she was outside.

“Don’t know. But she sounds mad as hell.”

***********************************************

“Did you do it? Is he dead?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Inara said to the Head Mistress, standing before her desk, still in the dress she had worn when she killed Paulo.

She was icy cold and stared at Inara. “I know you bought poison from a chemist’s in the Dig. I know you would only visit Chase to use it on him. I brought you here, off the streets, and taught you to be a lady and be the best you can be. And this is how you repay me. If you have murdered Paulo Chase, nothing can stop them from taking your life and ruining me.”

Inara suddenly did not feel so self-confident anymore. “If I killed Paulo Chase…and I’m not saying I did…then why would they care? They laugh at him behind his back.”

“They may laugh at him, but he is one of them. And my dear, everyone knows your story. In fact, I would say you have the most motive for killing him. Now, tell me the truth. Is he dead?”

“Not when I left him,” Inara lied and the Head Mistress knew it and Inara knew she knew.

She just glared at Inara, her face turning red. “Get your things and get out. You are no longer welcome here.”

“If this is the way you want it, I will leave,” Inara said stoically.

“Goddamn you! This is not the way I want it!” she said almost in tears. “You were like a daughter to me, more than any of the others. How could you betray me?”

“Because I couldn’t betray my father any longer!” Inara shouted and then started to cry and slumped into a chair.

After a long moment the Head Mistress spoke. “He is dead, isn’t he?”

Inara just nodded yes. “Well, dear,” the Head Mistress said after a long pause. “I’ll only say this once and then you must leave and I cannot speak to you or see you again. Paulo Chase got what he deserved. Good for you. Now go. I’ll do my best to keep this mess from harming any others. But you can never return to Sihnon again.”

Inara stood and the head Mistress stood and they hugged and then Inara went to her room to pack her belongings.

After she changed her clothes and wiped away her tears she smashed the poison vial in the bathroom by placing it in a towel and hitting it on the bathtub. She then flushed the glass shards down the toilet and scrubbed the towel clean, hanging it to dry. She went back to her room to pack when suddenly the Cortex screen chimed. She saw it was from Serenity and Inara was glad, wanting to talk to Kaylee so badly. She hit the open message button and there was Mal. “Howdy,” he said in his charming way and her heart screamed in joy. “Sorry I ain’t waved in while.”

“It’s all right, Mal,” she said and then sniffled and his face showed concern.

“What’s the matter?”

“I have to leave the Guild house. I can’t explain.”

“Need a lift?” he said with a grin.

“Are you close?” she asked, wondering why he was smiling.

“Close as can be. You give us an address and we’ll be there in no time.”

She sent the address of a hotel nearby the Guild house. “Mal…who’s we?”

“Me and the gang and….Serenity. See ya.”

And then he was gone.

*******************************************

“Can you do it?” Mal asked Wash and the pilot stared at the nav screens in the cockpit and then looked to River in the co-pilot seat and at Kaylee standing with Mal behind her.

“Can we do it?” Wash asked and River said yes right away but Kaylee hesitated.

“Could tear her apart,” she said. “My daddy strengthened her but she ain’t built for such close atmo entrance. I say we take a chance with the transponder. She’s still called the Utopia.”

“And every gorramn Fed knows that,” Jayne said.

“They don’t know we got the ship back,” Zoe offered. “Could work.”

“I’m sure that as soon as they got on the Rose one of them engineers sent a wave to Fleet HQ and told them what happened,” Mal said.

Powers was there and he felt frustrated as hell. “Captain Reynolds, don’t we have more important things to do than pick up Miss Serra on Sihnon?”

Mal glared at him and everyone waited for an explosion. Mal had been a might too calm of late and was building up to this. He held his temper this time. “No, there’s nothing more important to do right now. We got a small window here before every ship in the verse is looking for us. We do this now or nothing else gets done.”

“I understand what she means to you, Captain. But the whole galaxy is depending on us.”

“Then they’ll just have to wait,” he said steadily and Powers was going to disagree but held his tongue and just nodded.

Mal eyed him for a second and then turned back to his crew. “Okay, we don’t want to die and I gotta trust what Kaylee says. Go for a jump a bit away from Sihnon, but near the north pole, closer as possible to where Inara is.”

“And then what?” Wash asked.

“Then you get to prove how good a pilot you are.”

“I think I’ve done that more than once or twice already,” he said a bit offended.

Mal smiled. “You pull this off, flying in close enough to a Core world capital city with every eye in the verse looking for us, and get me close enough to ride a shuttle downtown to a hotel roof top, then Wash, then you will be crowned the king of all the pilots in the verse.”

“Gang,” Wash said with a silly grin. “Get strapped in. The king is in command.”

*******************************************

Surveillance work was all about patience, persistence, and a little bit of misdirection. Paulo Chase’s surveillance man had been caught by the Companion Guild, but that didn’t mean he gave up. Even while he sat in her office, he bugged the Head Mistresses desk. It was a thin, almost invisible chip, which slipped off his briefcase and fastened itself onto her desk. It was the latest in high tech gadgetry and he was sure none of her counter measures were up to the task of finding it.

Now it paid off. For the last day he had listened in on her conversations and Inara Serra was at the center of it all. The man suspected she was plotting murder, specifically the murder of Paulo Chase, and he knew this was the big pay day that he worked hard for He didn’t care if Chase died or not. But knowing who did it was worth gold, and the Guild would pay him a lot to keep Inara Serra’s secret.

He logged onto his laptop comms system, the most secure in the verse as far as he was concerned, and entered the Companion Guild’s wave address. After going through a receptionist, he was face to face with the Head Mistress.

“You again,” she said coldly. “What do you want?”

“To talk about Inara Serra and Paulo Chase.”

*********************************************

“Mr. Chase, Mr. Chase?" the servant said to the bedroom door after Inara left. Tired? Paulo Chase was never tired, never drunk, never sick. He was in the prime of his life and always went to bed at eleven o’clock without fail.

Slowly he opened the door and there was his master, who he had served for 18 years, lying asleep like she said.

“Mr. Chase?” he whispered. “Are you feeling all right, sir?”

No answer. Slowly he entered the room and crossed to the bed. “”Mr. Chase?”

Now he was worried. He slowly touched Paulo’s bare shoulder. Nothing. He was cold. He pushed and then shoved. Nothing. Then he noticed. He wasn’t breathing.

He stepped back in shock. No, no, not this! That, that woman! She was a curse to Paulo, all these years, his head and heart pining for her! I should have known! She lied! She killed him!

He ran into the hall and shouted. “Murderer! Assassin! Call the police! Mr. Chase has been killed!”

********************************************

A taxi came for Inara and took her and her bags three blocks to a hotel. No one in the Guild said goodbye or saw her off and she was glad, not wanting to have to explain herself to anyone. Even the main entrance was unguarded and the receptionist gone. She was sure the Head Mistress had done it, to let her leave in private.

She got a room no problem and was in it in minutes. The she began to sob, sob for her father and all that he meant to her and all that she had lost because of the mistake she had made and the greed of Paulo Chase. She lay on the bed and cried, not bothering to take off her clothing, and in minutes was fast asleep.

Her sleep wasn’t long, maybe an hour and half, maybe two hours, and then there was a knock on her door. She groggily came awake.

“Yes, who is it?”

“Miss Inara Serra?” came an older man’s voice.

“Yes?” she said, the sleep still clouding her judgment.

“Police, Miss Serra. We’d like to ask you some questions.”

“Police?” she said, suddenly awake. “What’s this about?”

“Please open the door and we’ll explain.”

“I’m not opening this door until you explain.”

She could hear him sighing. “Your dinner companion from this evening, Paulo Chase, has been found dead in his home.”

Inara was stunned. So fast! She looked at her watch. Barely two hours ago she had killed him and they found her. Damn! She had used her Companion ID to check into the hotel. She had to. It was the only way you could get a room.

“What? That’s terrible! Give me a moment to dress.”

“We’ll wait,” the policeman said.

Of course they’ll wait. I’m on the 18th floor. What am I going to do, fly away?

She panicked. Calm down, calm down, the poison, it’ll look like a heart attack. I just need to lie well. I’ve been trained to do that.

She took a deep breath and opened the door. Two very large men in suits and long coats were there. One was gray haired and heavy set, had a mustache, the other younger, thinner, had jet black hair, with dark eyes. “Sorry I took so long. I was getting ready for bed. May I see your identification please?”

Suddenly the dark haired one reached out and punched her in squarely in the face. Inara was shocked by the blow, feeling the pain engulf her senses as she flew back into the room onto the carpeted floor.

“You fucking whore!” said the puncher and then they were in the room, the door closed. “You think we wouldn’t find you, whore?!” he said as he grabbed her and roughly picked her up.

“Make it clean, not too noisy,” said the other as he opened the sliding glass doors to the balcony. A draft of cold air blew in.

“I say we rape the bitch, make it even better,” said the puncher, as he threw Inara on the bed.

Inara’s mind reeled, her reactions slowed by the blow to her senses. Who were they? Not police! “NOOOOOOO!! HELP!!!!” she screamed through bloody, puffy lips as the puncher pushed up her dress.

“Shut her the gorramn hell up!’ said the older man in anger.

Puncher clamped a rough meaty paw over her mouth. “Think you can kill our boss and get away with it whore? We’ve been watching you. We know you did it. He was too soft, let you close. He was our meal ticket. Now he’s dead, bitch.”

The older one looked down at her on the bed. “What was it? Heart attack poison? That’s an old trick. No coroner will believe he had a heart attack. Healthy as an ox. We’re doing you a favor. Everyone knows you want him dead. They’ll find you soon. Court will go soft on you because of your father. You’ll get life in prison. I think death is better than life behind bars, getting raped every day by bull dykes and fat prison guards.”

They picked her up, moved her to the open balcony doors. The cold air rushed in and Inara shivered and tried to fight, struggled, but they were strong, so strong and Inara knew she was going to die. “Let’s see if you can fly,” said the puncher.

“You first,” said a voice that sounded like Mal in his worst mood ever and Inara thought she was dreaming and suddenly puncher was pulled off Inara and was moving fast toward the balcony ledge and then he was screaming and sailing in the air and was gone.

The older one was stunned for a moment and then his gun was out and he fired at Mal. Mal ducked in time, the bullet going over his head and into the sky outside the hotel and then the gun was kicked out of his hands by River Tam. Inara collapsed and River caught her before she hit the floor.

“I got you,” she said as she wrapped her arms around the sobbing Companion.

“Time to join your pal!” Jayne Cobb said as he grabbed the older one, pushed him onto the balcony where Mal was, and with Mal’s help they pushed and tossed the struggling man off the balcony as he screamed for them to stop. His scream of ‘Nooooo” lasted a long time before there was an audible thump as he hit the ground. Jayne grinned as he looked down.

“Guess he can’t fly, either.”

Mal felt the rush of the cold wind cool his rage and then he turned to Inara and almost cried when he saw her battered face and he quickly bent to her. “Time to go home,” he said and she sobbed and he hugged her and they kissed and then it was time to leave.

Jayne and River grabbed Inara’s bags and Mal picked her up and carried Inara out the door in his arms and down a hall toward the stairs to the roof top. As they passed the elevator it made a sharp ”ping” and the doors opened to reveal two cops, in uniforms.

“What the hell is going on up here?” one said. “What’s all the screaming about?”

“Don’t know,” said Jayne. “We’s just heading to our rooms. But I heard a man scream down there.”

The two cops looked at him, looked back toward the open room door, back to Jayne carrying a pink makeup case in one hand, a flower pattern suitcase in the other, looked at the gun on his hip, and then drew their weapons.

“Freeze!”

“Gorramn it! River!’ Jayne yelled, his hands full of luggage, but she was already on it and in two shots the cops were down, wounded, not dead, one in the leg and one in the shoulder.

“Nice shooting,” Jayne said in admiration.

“Come on!” Mal shouted and they raced to the roof, leaped aboard the waiting shuttle and closed the doors.

“Zoe, punch it!” Mal said and then they were gone, heading home, as Mal said and it was Inara’s shuttle and she could smell her smells, the lingering scent of incense and perfume, and Kaylee’s wedding dress was still hanging on a rack and her bed was still there. Mal lay her down on the bed and looked at her and kissed her and Inara knew all would be well because she was with him again.

COMMENTS

Thursday, April 2, 2009 3:19 AM

MAINEAXE


Oh Yeah!!! Misbehavin' at its finest..
Looking forward to more..



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Things come to a head on Londinium as the plan to win Mal's freedom begins to unravel.

River's Run - Part 18
Mal’s heading for a hangman’s noose. Will a rescue party come in the nick of time?

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As the crew rests and heals, Shin and his confederates take a step closer to power, and Mal faces a new, deadly dilemma.

River's Run - Part 16
As Simon patches up the crew, Mal and his lawyer make plans, and Badger and his cousin have some unexpected visitors.

River's Run - Part 15
Mal finds a new friend on Londinium, his crew makes contact with River and Zoe, and events come to head on Whitefall.

River's Run - Part 14
Battle rages through Serenity as the crew tangles with an Alliance boarding party.

River's Run - Part 13
Shock and a sense of tragedy fill Serenity as the crew struggles to deal with Derek's betrayal. Meanwhile, the Operative comes a step closer to finding Serenity.

River's Run - Part 12
Mal strikes back at the Alliance, a little trip to the bank doesn't go as planned, and the Operative reaches out to River and Derek.

River's Run - Part 11
The Operative makes a plan to trap Serenity, escape plans are made, and those long separated are together once again.

River's Run - Part 10
Inara makes a date with Paulo Chase, Mal gets back his first love, and Shin plans the next move in the galactic chess match.