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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The Operative makes a plan to trap Serenity, escape plans are made, and those long separated are together once again.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1070 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
River’s Run – Part 11
“We’re here,” Wash said to Zoe as she stood on the bridge behind him.
“Exactly where is here, dear?” Zoe asked her husband. She felt good being back here, on the bridge, and not one shred of guilt for stealing back a ship that the Captain had sold for a great deal of money because deep in her heart she knew Shin and the military were responsible for Blakely’s death and Mal and any of his associates were next on the list.
“Middle of nowhere and I don’t know,” Wash said with a grin. “About halfway between the Core and the Rim, outside traveled corridors. Good place to sit till we decide what to do”
Mal walked on the bridge at that moment and they turned to him. “So, how is she?” Zoe asked with concern.
“Her injuries ain’t too bad, some bruising, busted lip, few loose teeth, nothing permanent. But she’s mighty shook up,” Mal said. “Doc her gave a sedative to calm her. She’s sleeping in the infirmary now.”
“Were they really going to throw her off the balcony?” Wash asked in disbelief.
Mal‘s face became grim. “Looked that way…if River hadn’t sensed her in trouble…if we hadn’t heard her scream…if we’d been few seconds late…” But he didn’t want to say the last.
“But you weren’t, sir” Zoe said. “And she’s safe and home. That’s all that matters.”
“Yeah,” Mal said and he didn’t know what he would have done if he had lost her, after only finding her so recently. He shook off these thoughts. Time to be a captain. He sat in the copilot seat, looked at the screens. “Any pursuit?”
“Not a lick,” said Wash with a smile. “You got out, we got out, no one even noticed a thing. Makes me think Core would surveillance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Maybe. But maybe all that fancy flying did the trick,” Mal said as he stood and patted Wash’s shoulder. “You are the king of all pilots. Next time we steal a crown, it’s yours.”
“That’s my man,” Zoe said proudly, then got more serious. “Sir, we know why they wanted to…harm…Inara? And who exactly did you and Jayne send for a flight without a parachute?”
“Don’t know. Guess we’ll know when she is awake. Meanwhile we got things to think on. Powers is bugging me about making a plan. Time for a conference.”
“Where is it?” the Operative asked, sitting in small room deep in the Ministry of the Interior. He decided to make it his base camp for the search for the Rose and Serenity. He sat at a long table, sipping a cup of tea, the picture of calm, as several of his team sat around at other desks at Cortex and computer terminals. The Ministry’s advanced comms system and extensive files were at his disposal. They still hadn’t cracked the last of Cutter’s codes but they were working on it.
Several hours ago, a wave had been received from the Rose, from an Alliance officer, an engineer, claiming Serenity had been commandeered by Justin Powers and Malcolm Reynolds. In an accidentally shooting Captain Oren had been killed by one of his own men, who Reynolds had killed. The rest of the Alliance people were forced aboard the Rose and would be on Sihnon in one day. Without hesitation the Operative ordered a gunship to intercept them near Sihnon and destroy the Rose. All on board knew too much.
So, now River Tam, Powers and Bowen were on one ship, Serenity. “Where is it?”
“Here,” said an expert in space navigation as he pointed out a blank space on a star chart. “Maybe. It’s…no where really, empty space. The nav sat system picked up the transponder code for the Utopia, which is the code name Serenity was using when it was part of the Alliance. The last nav sat recorded them at this point. Tracing back, we can see they used a near light speed jump to make it to this point from Sihnon. Prior to that, they were picked up near Haven. I believe they came from near this empty blank space in the Burnham quadrant. Then they jumped to near Sihnon. Then a small jump to the planet, and an hour later, a big jump to this place.”
“Too far to catch them,” the Operative said. “What we’re they doing on Sihnon? In and out so fast, just an hour.”
A tech hit buttons on a keyboard and up flashed a photo of Inara, from her Companion ID card.
“Miss Inara Serra,” said the Operative. “She was with Serenity four years ago when River Tam slipped through our fingers.”
“Yes, sir,” said another one of his men. “Sihnon police forces are seeking Miss Serra as a possible suspect in the death of a local nobleman and business owner Paulo Chase. Apparently, he was Miss Serra’s husband.”
“A Companion with a husband? How interesting. And they think she killed him. So Reynolds and Serenity came and rescued her, correct?”
“Not sure yet, sir.” As the words were said ID pictures of the two men Mal and Jayne had thrown off the balcony came on screen. “These two were found dead on the street below Miss Serra’s hotel room. Eighteen floors below.”
“Who are they?”
“Early reports indicate they worked for Paulo Chase, private security. Both are ex-police and the hotel night clerk claims they flashed badges and said they were on police business, demanded to know which room Miss Serra was in. Screams were heard by other guests and at the same time two real uniformed policemen arrived to check on a guest for an unrelated matter. When the screams were reported to the front desk the two uniformed officers rushed to the scene. We are now surmising that these two fake policemen attempted to do harm to Miss Serra. Someone threw them off the balcony.”
“Reynolds,” the Operative said in a statement, not a question. He had all the files on Malcolm Reynolds, saw his war record, knew as much about the man as anyone in the Alliance could know. If anyone would throw a man off a balcony for harming his friends, it would be Reynolds.
“They aren’t sure, sir,” the man continued. “The two uniforms found four people in the corridors, two men, two women. They were both shot as they attempted to stop them. Both are still alive and identified River Tam as the one that shot them. They didn’t get a good look, but believe Miss Serra was the other female, based on the fact that her room was empty, she appeared to have been in a fight, and there were signs of a fight in her room and some blood on the bed sheets.”
“And the two dead men on the street below, all three connected to Paulo Chase,” said the Operative. “The two men. Reynolds and….let me see…oh, yes, Jayne Cobb, I would venture a guess.”
“The two policemen aren’t sure. We are sending photos of Cobb, Reynolds, Simon Tam, Hoban Washburne, and Shepherd Book to police HQ on Sihnon now. They have all been associated with Serenity and River Tam.”
“Book is dead,” the Operative said. “Killed on Haven several weeks ago and buried there.” He knew from reports Shin gave him about the deal made to sell Serenity to the Alliance. He still didn’t know how Book died. But he knew who he was and knew he was no Shepherd, not at least in his old life.
“Serenity managed to slip into Sihnon,” the Operative began as he stood and looked at the screen which now flashed a photo of Kaylee and Simon standing on the ramp of the ship on Taos. “They send a shuttle to this hotel, take a wanted woman from the grasp of these men, and manage to escape without anyone even knowing it was there, a ship whose name is on everyone’s lips in the galaxy. A ship more famous than any in five hundred years. How is it possible?”
“The alert arrived too late. No one knew what transponder code Serenity was using until the former pilot informed us from the Rose. The project is top secret, sir.”
“Can we still track it?”
“Yes, sir, as long as they continue to use the Utopia transponder code we can track them.”
“They will soon realize their mistake. No, to catch Serenity we must make them come to us.”
“Ah…how do we do that, sir?”
“Everyone has a weakness. We take something they hold dear, something they love. That will flush them out.” He pointed to the picture of Kaylee and Simon, standing on the ramp of Serenity with her father and Captain Oren. “Start with Kaylee Frye and Simon Tam. Those two have broken an oath they took, a contract they signed. It’s time they learned the consequences of such actions. Arrest her father immediately and send someone to the Tam residence on Osiris. Arrest them all. Then Serenity will come to us.”
Serenity wasn’t going anywhere, not at the moment, just sitting in deep space, far from civilization They all sat around the dining table, eating and talking, all except Kaylee, Simon, and Inara. A meal was on the table, steaming plates of vegetables and boiled chicken, a tossed salad, thick slabs of bread, and glasses of fruit punch, all courtesy of the Alliance’s generous supply of Serenity. Kaylee walked in, wearing her coveralls with the rabbit patch on one breast pocket, and tossed the transponder box on the table.
“All done. Now we’re ghosts again,” she said as she sat down and took a long drink of fruit punch. “Also waved my Daddy, told him I been bad again.”
“How’d he take it?” Mal asked, concerned over her father.
“Oh, worried and happy at the same time,” she said. “You know he can’t stand the Alliance any more than you, Capt’n.”
“Did he say he’d take care of that matter for us?” Mal asked and everyone looked at them, wondering what secret Kaylee and Mal had.
“Ah, yeah, soon as he can. If…if it works,” she said, sounding a little worried.
“Sir,” Zoe said. “Anything we should know?”
“In due time,” Mal said as he sipped some coffee. Zoe knew he would tell her everything first chance he got.
Powers was listening but decided not to ask what was going on, learning very quickly that his authority didn’t go far with this bunch. He picked up the transponder box, looked it over. “Can we still navigate without it?”
“Sure,’ said Wash as he wiped the chicken grease from his mouth. “Long as they don’t change the nav sat system. It’s older than the transponders so it’s made for ships without them. They’d have to go out to each nav sat and change it manually, add new code boards, so I highly doubt it can be done very soon or at all. There’s tens of thousands of those things. Some newer ships nav systems might only work with a transponder, but not this old baby.”
“Good,” said Powers. “Now, let’s talk about what we have to do.”
“I think River got something to say first,” Jayne said.
Everyone looked to River and a flash of words from all minds came to her head which she quickly blocked out. Simon had given her medicine again and she felt more in control. “I know who killed the Prime Minister.”
That got Powers and everyone else’s attention, except Kaylee and Jayne who had already heard the news.
“They were my classmates at the Academy,” River said.
“The same as Bowen?” Powers asked and River looked at him very strangely, stared at him, and without a word she stood from the table and went to the storage locker near the kitchen. She punched in its code and opened the door.
Powers stood and was mad. “Miss Tam, stop right there.”
“No,” she said calmly as she bent and helped Derek Bowen to his feet. “Hello, Derek.”
She hugged him. “Hello, little River,” he said as she broke the hug. “I knew you we’re here.”
“I didn’t know you were here. Until now. Sorry…I’m confused a lot.”
“I understand,” he said and she knew he truly did more than anyone else.
“The key?” she said to Powers, holding up Bowen’s handcuffed hands.
Powers looked to Mal. “He can’t be trusted.”
“I trust, River,” Mal said calmly. “So give her the key.”
Powers grimly reached for it in his pocket and walked over with the key. He stared at Bowen for a long moment. “I know you saved my life, and I thank you, but it doesn’t mean I have to trust you. Don’t make me regret this.” And then he undid the cuffs. Bowen came to the table and sat next to River.
“I’m sorry for the trouble I caused,” Bowen said. “The Prime Minister is dead, correct?”
Mal nodded. “River said your classmates killed her.”
River looked at Bowen. “I saw them on the Cortex. I recognized some faces, from my years there. Names, I can’t remember. Maybe you can.”
“I need a Cortex screen.”
“Eat first,” Zoe said. “There’s time for that later.”
Bowen politely thanked her and River stood and started preparing him a plate of food.
“So,” Mal said to Powers. “Now we know it wasn’t rebels. Guess you were right. This smells like the military. What’s your plan?”
“First, we need to get information out on the Cortex, tell the galaxy that the rebels didn’t kill her,” Powers said. “We also need to expose Athenian Island for what it is.”
“No one will believe that story about an island of assassins,” said Jayne around a mouthful of buttered bread. “Hell, I hardly believe it myself.”
“We have the parents,” said Powers. “They sent their children there. They’ll believe us.”
“Maybe,” Mal said. “But none them ever visited it I venture and maybe many didn’t even know it was on an island. Simon took a long time and lots of money to find it. Or so he says.”
“He did,” River said as she set a plate of food in front of Derek. “My brother doesn’t lie.”
“Speaking of money and Simon,” Jayne said, suddenly remembering someone owed him. “When we getting paid for the last job?”
Mal gave him one of his stone cold looks. “Time and place, Jayne, I always got to tell you to think on the time and place for such things. And this ain’t it.” He turned back to Powers. “Anyway, what good is telling that story of the island going to do? We start a bunch of rumors, Alliance starts a bunch of rumors. They’ll still be in charge and we’ll still be fugitives.”
“The truth will come out,” Powers said with confidence.
Mal stared at him. “During the war, you were at Serenity Valley. We both know what happened there. The truth about you guys leaving us to rot for a week while they negotiated a surrender, did that ever make the history books?”
“No,” said Powers, seeing where Mal was going with this. “And neither did Miranda. Maybe its time we told the whole verse everything.”
Before anyone could answer Simon walked in from the after hallway. “She’s awake, Mal. Wants to see you. Alone.”
Inara was standing and looking in a mirror near the sink when Mal came into the infirmary. She was applying makeup to her bruised skin.
‘I killed Paulo Chase,” she said quietly before he could say a word. Mal had suspected as much, wondering why men had tried to kill. He walked up to her, gently put his hands on her shoulders. She never felt anything so good in her life, felt the tears welling up again, but held them back, needed to talk to Mal to explain it all. She looked in the mirror, her upper lip cut, bruises barely hidden under makeup. He looked at her reflection with adoration and worry and she knew it really was love.
“I wanted to tell you about him, before I left,” she said, voice heavy with guilt. “But I thought I could pay him off, divorce him, be rid of him forever.”
“Not that kind of man, was he?” Mal said and she turned and Mal felt a wave of pain and anger as he looked at her injuries closely and felt glad he had sent those men to their deaths.
“No, he’s not that kind of man. Now he’s dead and they know I did it,” she said and then in a flood of words the whole story came out, all about her father and the Chase family, and Mal knew some of it from what Oren said, but was glad to hear it from her. Then she told him how she killed him and Mal knew it was something she had to do by herself. “Don’t tell the others,” said Inara when she finally finished.
“I won’t,” Mal said. “But I’m sure River knows something by now.”
“You found her, didn’t you?”
“More like she found us,” Mal said as he told Inara the story of what happened on Paquin. “She had a hard time, getting away. Left a few bodies in her wake. But that’s what they trained her for.”
“What do we do now?” Inara asked sadly. “I’ve made us fugitives again. I’m wanted for murder.”
“River, too. And for shooting those cops in your hotel. Jayne for throwing a man off a balcony. Simon and Kaylee broke their contract. And all of us are wanted for …hell I don’t even know what it’s called when you steal your own ship,” Mal said. “But we’re home. That’s what matters.”
“I guess Serenity is home, for now,” Inara said and then asked what she wanted to ask more than anything. “On Sihnon…how did you know?”
“River knew,” Mal said. “We’d just busted the lock on that rooftop door, when she felt it. As we ran down the stairs we heard you scream.”
“They were going to kill me,” Inara said quietly.
“Not while I’m around,” Mal said and then he hugged her and they held onto each other for a long time, savoring the moment they might have lost forever.
“They’re gone, sir” said the image of an Alliance officer on a Cortex screen in the Operative’s command center. “The house is empty, the neighbors know nothing, and the two guards assigned to Mr. Frye didn’t see a thing. As far as they knew he and the woman were asleep in the house.”
“He must be still nearby,” the Operative said, not liking the way his day was going.
“We’ll keep looking sir. Taos Moon, out.” And then the image was gone.
Jonathan Frye was gone, slipped through his fingers, maybe hiding somewhere on the moon. Unless he found him, that only left the Tams.
“This is madness Simon,” Gabriel Tam said from the Cortex screen on the bridge. “We will not leave our home and our lives because of what you have done.”
“They will come for you,” Simon said through clenched teeth, cursing his father’s stubbornness. Everyone on board was still eating and talking, Inara having joined them, and it was like a big family reunion, with the additions of Bowen and Powers. Simon decided he had waited long enough to warn his parents about what was happening and snuck off to the bridge. He was glad they were at face to face range with Osiris, knowing he had to convince his father to leave.
“The first time they didn’t come for us,” his father replied.
“I don’t know why, but this time feels different,” Simon said almost pleading. “The Prime Minster is dead, the military is making moves to take over, and we are caught in the middle.”
“You should never have joined them. You and Kaylee we’re safe,” his father admonished Simon. “Now you ruined everything for your future.”
“And what about River’s future? I couldn’t bear to part with her again.”
Gabriel Tam paused in mid word. His expression changed from anger to worry to almost joy as he realized what Simon was saying. “You’ve found her?”
“Yes, she’s safe and with me.”
Gabriel Tam controlled his feelings, but Simon could see was almost on the verge of tears. “Bring her home, Simon,” he said in a choked voice.
“Father, you may not have a home very soon,” Simon said, trying to drive the point that his parents were in danger. “For us, Serenity is home, at least for now, at least until this madness ends.”
“I…I can’t just leave everything. I have responsibilities, a company to run. Your mother is involved in so much also.”
“You just don’t get it, not after all I’ve said. They will take it all away. They want to kill River! They will use you as bait! They don’t care about your reputation, or business, or anything! These are ruthless men who will stop at nothing! They’ve killed the Prime Minister. River saw the images, knows the attackers. From her school!”
His father said nothing, just looking at Simon with astonishment, everything sinking in, all the Prime Minister had told him, what he had been able to piece together, about River and that school. He knew Simon was right. Finally he spoke. “I don’t know where to begin, how to start. I’ve…I’ve never been a fugitive.”
Simon felt some measure of relief. At least his father’s mind was moving in the right direction. “Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of experience. First, pack a bag and leave the house. Take as much cash and things you can trade for food or money. Your credit accounts will be closed as soon as they mark you for pick up. Go to a local electronics shop and pick up a nav position tracer. I’m sending you a set of coordinates now, just outside the city. Put them in the tracer, drive to the spot as close as you can, walk the rest of the way.”
Simon typed in the numbers from a piece of paper and saw his father copy it on the other end. “Simon, what’s at this place?”
“Trees, forest, nothing else, I hope. Someone will meet you there.”
“A man I trust.”
A small spaceship flew out of the atmosphere of Taos Moon, slowing down as it reached the black of space. It was an older model, Cricket class, almost as old as Serenity. It could only carry a small cargo and few crew and had one small room for passengers. It was made for short inter system travel, not for the cold depths of space. That is until now.
Jonathan Frye had been tinkering with it off and on for years, his hobby as he told Kaylee, and now it come into good use. It had been near bedtime on Taos when he received Kaylee’s warning wave. He was a touch mad at Kaylee, but softened when he saw how worried she was for him. Kaylee told him Mal's plan and then he and Mary hastily pack some clothing and food and slipped into the cellar and out its door at the rear of the house. A short dash to the trees and they were out of sight of the two guards near the front of the house. Twenty minutes later they were in the Cricket class ship he called Cricket for lack of anything better and he soon had the engines warmed up. He set it to bare minimum power settings and gently lifted the Cricket off the ground, out of the trees, and then slowly moved away from civilization.
Now in space Jonathan set the auto pilot and then he joined Mary in the engine room. She was more than his companion, being a fair good mechanic herself, and she had already begun the process. Jonathan had slipped away from the factory a few times and took the parts to the ship in the forest but with his minders watching him closely he hadn’t had time to assemble the parts and of course not test it. That would come now. After eight hours of sweaty work, it was ready. They cleaned up, had a quick meal, and then moved to the cockpit.
“Sure it will work?” Mary asked with worry as they sat in the two close seats on the bridge. “It ain’t the same as the other.”
“It’ll work,” he said with confidence. “Ship is different, smaller, but it has the same engine. It don’t need to be exactly the same. Next stop, Osiris.”
Jonathan punched the coordinates into the nav computer, check and double checked the system, and then slowly goosed the engine power levels up. The ship began to build up speed, faster and faster and then it was a blur as it approached light speed. Then with a pop, bang, and groan the ship disappeared.
Ten seconds later it popped into space a few hundred thousand kilometers from Osiris.
“Goddamn!” Jonathan yelled. “What a ride!!”
“I think I’m gonna be sick,” Mary said, looking a shade green. “That…that was it?”
“Yes, ma’am. Now I’ve got the second fastest ship in the verse.”
“Now what? Why Osiris? Tell me the big secret or I’m getting off right here.”
“All right, all right. We’re here to pick someone up, keep ‘em safe.”
“Simon and River’s parents.”
Long before the eight hours it took Jonathan and Mary to get the Cricket ready were up, the crew of Serenity was getting ready for bed, settling into their old routine. First, though, Bowen looked at the news of the attack and had recognized those who had attacked Parliament, confirming River’s story. Mal and Powers argued over the best course of action and decided to sleep on it and wait until they saw what Shin would do next. Parliament was still in charge, the deputy PM making arraignments for the transfer of power, and a state funeral was being planned for Susan Blakely. Calls were coming for a strong reaction against the so called rebellion and already images of the fighting near and on Haven were being leaked to the press.
They also had to wait for news about Kaylee’s father and the Tams, so Mal told everyone to rest up. Most had gone to bed already, bone tired after their last few adventures. Mal, Jayne, Zoe and Wash all moved back into their old bunks. All wanted to wash the bedding, but that would have to wait until they had some rest. Bowen took a passenger room, as did River, her old one in fact. Powers took Kaylee’s old bunk as she and Simon took a passenger room, the one they had been co-habiting prior to moving to her father’s place. They didn’t have much with them, just a few clothes and a toothbrush, not expecting all that had happened. Inara moved back into her shuttle and started to unpack her bags with Kaylee’s help. The Capt’n had told them all not to bother Inara about what had happened but Kaylee just couldn’t help herself.
“Ain’t you gonna tell me what happened?” Kaylee asked with a touch of sympathy as she looked from her wedding dress to Inara.
Inara wanted to smile but was afraid her bruises would hurt too much. Kaylee was too good a friend not to tell her something. Inara sat on her bed, patted a spot beside her and Kaylee soon joined her.
“He was my husband, for a long time. Mal said Captain Oren told you some of the tale. It was mostly true. I never consummated the marriage and he ruined my father, broke his health and he died. Now Paulo Chase is dead and they think I did it.”
“Ah…did you? Cause if you did, no one would blame you.”
“Sometimes it is better not to know some things Kaylee. That way you don’t have to lie if someone asks you any questions.”
“What…oh,” Kaylee said as understanding dawned. “And those men…wanted to…throw you off a balcony? Why?”
“They worked for Paulo,” she said flatly. “They wanted to punish me for what I had done.”
“Which you are not saying you did or didn’t do, right?”
Inara almost smiled again. “Right.” Then there was knock on the shuttle door.
“Come,” Inara said and was surprised to see River enter, expecting Mal.
“Hello, River,’ Inara said as she stood. “I..I never got to thank you properly for the part you played in saving my life.”
“They were punished properly,” River said cryptically.
Kaylee and Inara looked at each other. “Who?” Kaylee asked.
“Those men…they had many last thoughts as they fell. Such terror I could not block out. One of them, the one with the gun, he even had a few flashes of regrets. The other, total shock, confusion, and terror. They were punished.”
“And my thoughts?” Inara asked quietly.
“Utter fear, disbelief, shock, relief, amazement,…then…love.”
Inara felt a tear trickle down her face. “Yes…that was how I felt.”
“Ah…maybe we should go,” Kaylee said to River, seeing Inara was still a little upset. “Inara’s had a rough day, needs her rest.”
“I wanted to speak to you Inara,” River said, ignoring Kaylee’s suggestion. “Alone.”
Kaylee looked to Inara and she just nodded so Kaylee bid them goodnight. Inara beckoned River to her sofa and table where they sat.
“What’s on your mind?” Inara asked, easily slipping into her old role as ship’s advisor.
“I don’t know where to begin,” River said and she felt flush and embarrassed and Inara had never seen her this way before and was immediately concerned.
“It’s OK, River, Just start at the beginning.”
“I’ve…I’ve had sex,” she said shyly and wouldn’t look at Inara. There, it was out.
Inara did smile this time. River had no mother figure in her life and trusted her with this news. “So, you’ve had sex. How did you feel about it?”
River looked at her directly and her eyes were almost ablaze and Inara was taken aback. “It was unbelievable….I can’t stop thinking about her.”
Now it was Inara’s turn to be a little bit surprised. “Her?”
“Yes….Janice,” River said, her voice dropping to a sad whisper as she said her name. “I need to know…what does it mean?”
“Tell me how you met, tell me everything.” And so River did tell Inara the fascinating tale of her and Janice Flowers and Inara became more intrigued as she spoke.
“You felt a connection with her, River, a symbiotic relationship, made more vivid by your mental abilities. You shared her passion as you felt your own. The same would have happened with a man or woman, with anyone, and will happen again.”
“I want it to happen with her again,” River confessed and truly meant it.
“Our first lover is always special,” Inara said gently. “If the love making is done properly, which, unfortunately, is not always the case.”
“It was with her. She did things, made me feel, so….good. I’m afraid we’ll never meet again,” River said, the last in a dejected tone.
“It seems unlikely I’m afraid, her being with the fleet. But it doesn’t mean you will always be alone.”
“I know…it’s just so hard…Wash and Zoe have each other, Simon and Kaylee are married, you have Mal…there is no one for me.”
“There will be. River…are you more interested in men, women, or both?”
“I’m not sure…I’ve never been with a man,” River said. “But I am attracted to them.”
“Good, because they can be just as wonderful in bed as a woman can be. As a Companion, you know I have made love to both men and women.”
“I know. That’s why I wanted to tell you. You’d understand. The others…because of what happened with the cyro-chamber…they are suspicious of what happened between me and Janice. I felt a little embarrassed, but now I don’t care. I told Jayne.”
“Really? Did he leer and make rude comments?”
“Of course. But I don’t care. I feel…free….the more people I tell.”
“I think my work here is done,” Inara said with satisfaction.
River smiled and laughed a little. “Thanks. I think I’ll be going now.”
“River, did Simon start you on the medicine again?” Inara asked, wondering about something.
River knew she was about to ask this but let her anyway. “Yes, he did…You think I don’t need it anymore.”
“You were without it for a few weeks. How did you feel?”
“Not always in control. But better than in the past.”
“Perhaps you should talk with Simon about this.”
“Perhaps….Oh, he’s here. Goodnight.” River said and before Inara could ask who, Mal knocked on the door.
“Oh, sorry,” he said. “Didn’t know you had company.”
“I’m just leaving. Have fun,” River said and Mal did one of his patented double takes as the young woman bounced out the door.
“Did she say…does she think that’s why I’m here? For fun?”
Inara smiled and stood and held out a hand and shifted her eyes to the bed. “Well…aren’t you?”
Mal grinned, took the hand and kissed it. “Can’t say no to a lady,” he said and then he gathered her in his arms, brought her to the bed and lay down with the woman he loved.
In his passenger room, Derek Bowen dreamed. He was in a café somewhere, he didn’t know where. He sat at a table sipping coffee, a Boros blend, sweet and rich. His eyes were focused on a man at another table, a large fat man with signs of wealth, jeweled fingers and coiffed hair. Two large men were with him, guns at their hips. The fat man argued with someone at the table, money changed hands, the other man left. As soon as he was gone, Derek instantly stood, pulled out a pistol and in two shots killed the fat man’s bodyguards. He then stuck the gun in the whimpering fat man’s face as people screamed and scattered abound him.
The fat man whimpered a yes. “For the crimes of pedophilia, providing children to others for the purposes of sex, and the kidnapping of children, I hereby am authorized to execute you.”
Before the man could say a word, BOOM, Derek shot him between the eyes. He turned and looked at the stunned people. “This man was a criminal. Now he has been punished. Go about your business.”
Derek dropped his gun, turned and walked out of the café. As he walked, the sky turned red, the buildings red, and he looked down at his hands and saw they were covered in blood. He screamed.
“Derek, Derek!” He awoke with a start and saw he was in a room and someone was with him, sitting on the bed next to him. River Tam.
“River,” he said in a quiet sigh, remembering where he was, on a ship, in deep space, and in deep trouble. “Sorry. I was dreaming.”
“I know. I saw it.”
He turned away from her, pulled the sheets up. “That person…that’s not me, not who I am.”
She reached out, put a gentle hand on his bare shoulder. “I know you’re not. I am not that person either. But when I have to be, I am. When I need to protect my brother and friends, I am that person. When Reavers surrounded me on Miranda, I was that person. And I will be that person again when the time is right.”
Derek turned and looked at her. “Can’t we stop it? Make it go away?”
“Maybe in the future,” River said. “But now we need it. A fight is coming, and we will need all our skills if we and the others are to survive.”
They were silent, both thinking on what will come. “They will try to destroy us,” Derek said and River knew it before he spoke and he knew she knew. “Don’t do that. Not with me.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t help it,” River said in an apology.
“I know. Let’s….be normal around each other, OK?”
River smiled. “Yes. Normal. I like that.”
He smiled and then in a blinding thought River knew something about him, something she had suspected back at the academy. His face suddenly grew cross. “I thought we agreed.”
River gulped. “But…but…you never said anything…You never told me….Blocked it out.”
“Would it have mattered? They would never have let us.”
“Derek….” She moved her hand from his shoulder to his face, touched his cheek. He shuddered and she knew it was true. “I…I…”
River felt as if in a trance. She knew what she wanted, from him, now, right here, and she was already aroused from her talk with Inara. She wanted a man and here was a man who wanted her. Suddenly she saw his eyes light up in the dull room lighting and she knew he knew she wanted him. He sat up, and they stared at each other and slowly moved in for the first kiss.
River gasped in amazement and they both felt what the other was feeling, both minds alive to what the other wanted and in moments River was out of her clothing and she lay on him, her body afire, both in a fever of passion. He was aroused, so aroused, and she marveled at this body, trained and honed to be a killer all these years.
“River…I’ve never….” He gasped between kisses.
“Neither have I,” she said breathlessly and it wasn’t a total lie, she had never been with a man before.
“Make love to me, Derek,’ River whispered and then they did and a few more times that night and they floated on waves of ecstasy, both minds alive to the other, they shared each others passion and knew what the other wanted and needed and felt as if the universe had ceased to exist and they were only one being.
“What’s that, three times now?” Kaylee said with almost a chuckle to Simon as he lay there in bed next to her with his brow furrowed.
“You think they could be more quiet,” he finally said.
“Don’t be a prude. She’s your sister, but she’s also a woman.”
“I know. But I don’t want to hear her being a…woman!”
Kaylee had a fit of giggles. “You are a prude. Jeeze, Doc, and all that stuff we do, what’s that?”
“You never thought on what River thought about us getting sexed?’
“No, not really. I’m sure she heard us…maybe felt…no that’s the wrong word…thought about…oh, I don’t know.”
Kaylee took pity on him. “Ok, ok, I’ll stop teasing. I know just the thing to take your mind off what she’s doing.”
“What’s that…oh, Kaylee, um, you hand…wait….I don’t know if I’m…oh, now…ah…that’s nice.”
“Now it’s time to be naughty,” Kaylee said and soon Simon forgot all that had been worrying him.
Wash and Zoe lay in their old bed, steam rising from their sweaty, naked bodies, having just made love, and now laughing at one of Wash’s jokes.
“No, seriously,” he said after her laughter died down. “This ship stealing stuff. I mean, come on, Zoe, here we are, wrong side of the law again.”
“Not this time, we’re on the right side of the law. Shin killed Blakely. We got the fastest ship in the verse and we are going to be a thorn in his side.”
Wash thought about it. “You know, maybe you’re right. We are on the right side of the law this time. We could be heroes this time. That’d be nice for a change, instead of the running and hiding stuff we usually do”
“Nobody is going to be a hero when this mess is over,” Zoe said seriously. She snuggled up to her man. “You just work your magic on this old beast like you did with my body and all will be well.”
Wash hugged her. “Don’t worry. Old beasts are my specialty.” And for a second he thought she didn’t get it and then a pillow in the face told him she had and the pillow fight was on.
“We’re lost,” Gabriel Tam said to his wife Regan as they tramped through a field of heather and thorny bushes a few kilometers from a road where they had left their car. He had done everything Simon had said to do, which took a while, especially convincing his wife. When he told her they would be reunited with her children, she didn’t believe him at first and then finally gave in and they were out the door in thirty minutes. The tracer unit he had bought worked well and the store owner gave him a quick run down on how to use it, but Gabriel wasn’t so sure he did it correctly. He was just about to give up and head back to try and find the car when a low rumbling sound came to his ears. Out of an overcast sky a small spaceship broke through the clouds and was landing. In seconds it was down and a small hatch opened and a large bear of a man came out.
“Gabriel and Regan Tam?” Jonathan asked.
“Frye, Jonathan Frye.” He said as he stuck out his hand to shake. Gabriel took it in a warm embrace.
“Kaylee’s father?” Regan asked in surprise.
“Yeah, that’s me all right. Come on folks, we got to get before them patrol ships on my ass catch up.”
“Patrol ships?” Gabriel said in surprise.
“Story telling for later. Come on!”
They climbed on board and after quick intros, the Tams were set in the small passenger room. It had a cramp bed and two chairs with seat belts. Mary sat them down opposite each other and strapped them in.
“Now hold on tight,” she said. “Gonna be a bit bumpy.”
They took off and no sooner had they left the ground they were rocked by a nearby missile blast.
Regan couldn’t help but scream and Gabriel reached a hand across the cabin space and they held on tight to each other. The ship twisted and turned in violent maneuverings and it go hotter as they broke though atmo and then they were in the black. A few moments later, something odd started happening and a long twenty second dizzying, tumbling journey later and they felt the ship groan and creak and pop and then everything slowed and halted.
Gabriel didn’t know if he would be sick or not. The door opened and Jonathan was there with a big grin on his face. “We’re here.”
“Where is here?” Regan asked. “And where is the bathroom?”
“Here is…well, come take a look, Oh, and bathroom is aft of the cargo bay.”
“It can wait, “she said as they moved to the front of the ship.
The moved to the cramp cockpit and stood behind the two bridge chairs. They could see a ship in front of them and instantly knew what ship it was, the pics all over the Cortex the last few weeks.
“Is…it…it’s Serenity?” Gabriel asked in disbelief. “But…but how? Why is it so near Osiris?”
“It’s not,” said Mary.
“Nope,’ said Jonathan. “Not a lick near Osiris. Folks, welcome to a very special club. You two have joined the ranks of the very few who have flown in an FTL ship.”
But Regan wasn’t listening to him. She was staring out the windows at Serenity. Her son and her daughter were there, neither of them had she hugged in a very long time.
“Take me there. Take me now,” she said as the tears came, pointing her finger toward Serenity.
Morning came to Serenity and River lay naked next to Derek and felt so alive. They had barely slept, but she didn’t care. She looked at him sleeping, and smiled. She was sore, and would be for a bit, but it was good soreness, and it meant she was a woman. Then, something else entered her mind, something she hadn’t felt in a long time. She shuddered and shook and tears sprang to her eyes. It can’t be, not so soon. I’m…I’m not ready! But she knew it was time.
She jumped out of bed and threw on her dress from last night. Out the door and there was Simon hopping on one foot, trying to put on a shoe.
“They’re here,” he said and the look on her face, the tears told him she already knew. River ran past him, past Kaylee, past the infirmary, out into the cargo bay, saw people arriving from upstairs, and then she saw them standing next to Zoe by the open airlock door and she stopped.
“Hello, River,” her mother said in a choked voice and River paused, not believing it was true, that they were here, and she ran right into her arms as big racking sobs came forth from both women. She saw her father through her tears and he hugged her and all he could say over and over was “I’m, sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“Father,’ came Simon’s voice and Gabriel broke free of River and Regan and looked at his son. A brief moment of hesitation and Simon stuck out a hand to shake and Gabriel went straight past it and hugged his son.
“You were right Simon, I was a fool and you were right. Can you ever forgive me?”
“There is nothing to forgive,” Simon said in a choking voice and then he broke down and all four Tams held each other and everyone left them alone for a long time. Finally, Simon broke the hug.
“I have someone to introduce to you,” he said and Kaylee approached, all shy and not exactly looking her best with the hasty awakening.
“Hi,” she said shyly. “I’m Kaylee.” Regan wrapped her arms around a very surprised Kaylee and said thank you over and over.
“Let the girl breathe, dear," Gabriel said. “Sorry, Kaylee, too much emotion for one day.”
Now Kaylee was crying too. “Oh, that’s OK. Bit of crying never did anyone no harm.”
Jonathan and Mary came over from the Cricket and Kaylee and her father talked on about the new engine and the rest of the introductions were made, even Derek who had finally awoken and felt something was happening and knew how River felt to see her parents again. She was beaming and he couldn’t help but look at her glowing beauty as she introduced him as her friend to her parents.
“Captain Reynolds,” Gabriel said as he shook Mal’s hand as Simon introduced them. “I want to thank you for looking after my children.”
“No need. Fact is, they looked more after us than the other way around.”
“That a fact? I’m sure there’s a story or two to tell. Like where you’ve been for so long?”
Mal grinned and looked at everyone. “OK, let’s move the party upstairs, have breakfast, and get the story telling done.”
“And then what?” Powers asked, trying to keep out of the way for the moment, but needing to prod Mal to action.
“We’re gonna need cash money for things we need to do. There’s a whole pile of it sitting in a bank on Ariel in Inara’s accounts.”
“They’re probably blocked by now, Mal,” Inara said with regret, knowing her actions may have cost them all that money.
Mal touched his gun on his hip. “Long as I have one of these they ain’t.”
“The Tams got away,” the Operative said as he stood before Shin’s desk at Fleet HQ. “The ship was equipped with an FTL drive, or so the pursuing patrol ships believe so. One moment it was there, the next gone.”
“Then it was Serenity?” Shin said.
“No, not Serenity. Cricket class. We have a report from Taos of such a class taking off shortly after Jonathan Frye disappeared.”
“He made his own ship with an FTL and went after the Tams?”
“Yes, it appears Powers or Reynolds anticipated my move. The other crew members family members have scattered by now also I am sure, gone to ground so to speak. It is a futile course of action.”
“So be it,” Shin said. “Soon it will not matter. Serenity is but one ship. Our efforts to discredit the current government are underway. Images of the dead from Haven are spreading, people are grumbling about these rebel assassins. Blakely’s state funeral is in two days. I will make a speech to rouse the people. Our best writers are working on it now.”
“There is still the deputy PM, the cabinet, the members of Parliament, the whole system of government.”
Shin smiled. “While you were busy so was I. Our teams have finally cracked Cutter’s secret files. Now we have everything Cutter ever knew. Every dirty little secret of every member of government. They will fall in line. A few examples will be made. More information will be manufactured, such as a rebel spy ring discovered in Parliament.”
“The public will need a focus for this rebellion. We still haven’t said where its base is or who its leaders are.”
“Oh, my specialists are working on that right now. We seem to have discovered the leader of the rebellion.”
“Indeed? And does this rebel leader have a name?”
“Yes. A former Browncoat from the war, a man who hates the Alliance with a passion.”
“Ah, him. Perfect.”
“Yes. The leader of the new rebellion is Malcolm Reynolds. And soon the whole verse will know it.”
Tuesday, April 14, 2009 1:21 PM
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