Jericho Wells - Part V
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. River outlines her plan for dealing with the election problem, and Mal gets out of wearing a dress. NEW CHAPTER (as promised!)


“So, what’s this plan you’ve come up with, albatross?” Mal poured two mugs of coffee and took them back to the table, placing one down in front of his wife and sipping the other, his gaze staying on River. “And am I going to like it?”

The rest of the crew were in their places, the children in the rest area under the observation dome, the last of the sun having just dropped below the horizon. Fiddler was at their feet, while Maoli had spread herself out on the cushion behind Ethan’s head.

The psychic lifted her eyes from her hands, her dark eyes unreadable. “I don’t know.”

“You started not peeking now?”

“Then, no. You’re not going to like it.”

“Good. Can’t be lying to your captain.” He nodded. “Better get on with me not liking it, then.”

“Jayne and I went for a walk.”

“Figured that much.” He took another sip. “So?”

“I wanted to take a look at the Election offices,” she admitted. “To see if we could break in.”

Everyone stilled, and Mal leaned forward. “You mean into the offices themselves.”


“And do what, exactly?”

“If we can get inside, I can reprogramme the computers.”

Mal glanced at Freya, who nodded very slightly. “Reprogramme.”

“Yes. Tell them we’re not who we think we are, but who we say we are.”

“Riv, there’s guards all around the place.” Jayne might have looked like he’d been lounging, but he’d been taking everything in, like the expert tracker he was.

“I know.”

“And that’d make it more’n likely someone’d notice us sneaking in.”


“So how’re you planning on it?”

“I don’t know. Yet.”

Mal put his elbows on the table. “River, could you tell the layout? From where you were?”

“A little. I read some of the minds going in and out, but it was like ants, so intent on what they were doing that it made me itch.” She shifted in her chair as if her skin was irritating.

Mei-mei …” Simon said, concerned.

She smiled at him. “It’s all right. It isn’t a particularly bad day. It’s just … a lot of new people, all tight-witted, bound by their rules and conventions until they squeak.” She looked around the table. “I just can’t concentrate very well.”

“You ain't pregnant again, are you?” Kaylee asked, rubbing her own belly affectionately.

“I … no.” River laughed, a welcome sound. “Not for lack of trying.”

“Second that,” Jayne grunted, looking at his wife with undisguised affection.

Simon looked pained, which only made River grin wider. “Boob,” she said softly.


“Yeah, well, now we’ve got that out of the way, can we get back to the matter in hand?” Mal asked, feeling Freya’s calming influence in his mind but only amused. “Do you know how we get in or not?”

“Not,” River supplied, making herself take a deep breath. “Yet.”

“But if we could … you could make the changes?”

She nodded. “Simple. Set it to take effect a second before polling opens. Then the Cortex will automatically update at midnight to rescind them.”

That was the way things worked – ships either requested any new information as and when they needed or got it automatically when they made landfall, but the outer planets and moons themselves only generally logged on once a day. That in itself had been a boon on one occasion, when during a single day the Serenity crew had managed to relieve two banks on close-by but separate border moons of their cashey-money without firing a shot because none of the other banks had been warned.

“But won’t that flag up we’ve been by?” Zoe asked.

“It won’t matter,” Freya put in. “We’ll have voted under our fake IDs. Simon Frye, River Cobb, Freya Reynolds … they won’t know any difference. And it’s unlikely they’d ever cross-check.”

“And if they did, I can set a scrubber routine to run,” River added.

“Scrubber routine?” Zoe had a vague recollection of some such thing, but apparently Hank understood, as did Kaylee because they were both nodding.

“It will delete us from the memory without touching any other records,” the young woman clarified.

“That’s a good idea, but what if someone remembers?” Kaylee asked. “That man, the one today … he ain't likely to forget, since we’re ‘bout the only ship that’s landed.”

“It won’t matter.”

“I think I see what River’s getting at,” Mal said. “It’s all linked up, right?”

“Right,” River confirmed. “Hand held readers, main computer … all networked.”

“So change one, you change ‘em all.”

She smiled at him. “Yes.”

“And a man ain't gonna say the machine’s wrong … he’s more like to figure his memory ain’t quite accurate, especially if he’s Alliance-inclined.”

“I’m not sure that’s actually a reason for him to doubt himself,” Simon said, “but people do tend to believe a computer can’t possibly get it wrong.”

Mal nodded. “So we just need a way to get inside.”

“It’s pretty heavily guarded, like Jayne said,” Hank pointed out. “And for a world this far from the Core they’ll have damn good technical security.”

“It’s ‘cause they’re Alliance,” the big man put in. “All those worlds supported Unification they way they did got the best.”

“While the rest of us had to make do with leftovers,” Mal muttered. “But that still doesn’t get us in the front door.”

“The official candidates get in there.” Simon looked around as all eyes turned to him. “They have to,” he explained. “It’s law that they can check any database of electors they wish, at any time.”

“Yeah, but we don’t know any of ‘em, let alone trust ‘em enough to get done what we have to.”

“I don’t think that’s what Simon was suggesting.” Freya leaned forward. “Were you?”

The young doctor nodded, then shook his head. “Not quite. I was thinking perhaps … one of us could run for office.”

“It’s kinda late to be thinking alone those lines, doc,” Mal said, his lips lifting.

“No, it isn’t.”

“Come again?”

“Did you read those leaflets that official gave you today?”

Mal shrugged. “Nope. Didn’t see the need.”

“I did.”

Mal waited, but the young man just sat looking a bit smug. “Just spit it out, will you, Simon?”

Despite being very intelligent – top three percent as everybody remembered – Simon sat for just a moment more, relishing knowing something that Mal didn’t. Then he said, in an even tone, “If there are vacancies in the election procedure, any citizen of the Alliance can put their name forward to be added to the ballot up to and including not less than three days before the date of the election itself.”

“Did you memorise that specially?” Mal asked, only a trifle sardonically.

Simon ignored him. “The leaflets listed the names of the candidates, five for each position. Several only have four.”

Mal touched Freya’s hand and she nodded, getting up to fetch the portable Cortex link she used for lessons from the cupboard in the corner.

“Don’t we have to be residents?” Kaylee wanted to know.

“We are,” Hank explained. “As far as the Alliance is concerned, as soon as we landed we became residents of Jericho, else they’d never be able to make us vote.”

“Then that seems to be the way in.” Mal nodded slowly. “So, what do we do? Go to the offices and add our names?”

“It’s not quite that easy,” the pilot said. “You have to be nominated by someone else, a person of good standing.” He looked around the crew. “And I’m not sure any of us actually count.”

“Leo,” Kaylee said brightly.

“What?” Mal turned to her.

“Not what, who. Leo Gunn. The owner of the scrapyard.” She looked at her husband. “He was nice, reminded me a bit of my Pa.”

Zoe chuckled. “Can’t say I saw it myself.”

Kaylee grinned. “Anyway, I'm sure he’d nominate one of us, if’n I asked nicely.”

“The way he was looking at you, mei-mei, I think he’d do much anything if you asked nicely enough.”

Kaylee coloured a little, but flattered nevertheless.

“Sounds like a plan,” Mal said. “Then it just leaves us to decide who stands.”

Hank grinned. “And I used to wish I owned Serenity.”

Mal’s brow furrowed. “What’re your lips flapping about now?”

“Well, it’s obvious.” The pilot was highly entertained. “I think it’s got to be you.”


“As Captain.” He held up his hand, plucking the words out of nothingness. “Parliamentary Member Malcolm Reynolds. Has a kind of a ring to it, don’t you think?”

Mal glared at him.

“Actually, I don’t think you have a choice, sir,” Zoe put in.

“I ain’t a politician,” Mal pointed out.

“You won’t win,” Freya said, studying the Cortex link, only half listening.

“And it’s the only way,” Simon confirmed.

“I’d do it,” River put in, “but I don’t think you’d let me.”

“Ain’t that the truth, albatross,” Mal finally said, sighing heavily. He clasped his hands together in front of him on the old wood, his brow furrowed in thought. He looked at Hank. “And they’re still open to nominations?”

The pilot nodded. “Just get your person of good standing to the Election office.”

Mal stiffened his jaw. “Well, I guess I’d -”

“No,” Freya interrupted.

“What?” He turned to look at her. “No … why?”

“You’re a man.”


“I’ve just checked the nominations. They’re all closed now except one.”

“And that would be …”

“Women’s rights campaigner. Apparently, on this planet, it’s seen as a big issue. And they’re very strict in who they want representing them.” She was trying not to smile. “Sorry, Mal, but you’re the wrong sex.”

“They’re insisting on -”

“A woman.”

“Well, that puts a different complexion on things,” Mal muttered.

Simon was beginning to get agitated. “Mal, there isn’t an alternative. If we don’t get access to the computers, River and I will get bound. There are no two ways about this.”

“I know, doc. Just let me think a while.”

“I say we go take over Port Control after dark,” Jayne contributed. “Lift the landlock by force.”

“And get us all arrested?” Simon shook his head. “That would be really clever.”

“Yeah, well, if Mal can’t be one of them candidates, I don’t exactly see a choice.”

“I do,” River said quietly.

“Nope.” Jayne was firm, taking her hand and squeezing it. “You ain’t gonna stand, we already decided that.”

“Not me.” Her large eyes ranged across the assembled crew before alighting on one particular face. “Zoe.”

“What?” The first mate looked stunned.

“Only one.”

“What are you talking about, xiao nu?” Mal asked.

River held up a hand, four fingers raised. “As we said, I can’t do it.” She pushed one finger down. “Freya isn’t Freya. Good ID, but perhaps not enough to pass any in-depth scrutiny. And the captain wouldn’t put her at risk of exposure as Elena Rostov.”

“Damn straight about that,” the captain himself muttered.

River lowered another finger. “Kaylee can’t do it. She is legally who she is, but she has to fix the ship. And she is pregnant.” Another finger went down. “Only one left.” She pointed. “Zoe Mills, nee Washburne, nee Alleyne. War veteran. With an impeccable ID.”

Everyone stared at her, then transferred their attention to the woman in question.

“No,” Zoe said flatly. “I ain’t a politician.”

“Odd, but that’s what I said. And I don’t think that’s what they’re looking for,” Mal said softly. “They’re looking for a woman who’ll stand up for herself, and not let a man walk all over her.”

“I’m not doing it.”

“How about I order you to?”

“And have you walk all over me?” she countered.

“Good point.” Mal allowed a smile to lift his lips. “But River’s right. If there ain’t no alternative, and I’m telling you now I ain’t gonna have the operation just so’s I can stand in your place, then it’s up to you. Frey’s right, you won’t be elected anyway, so you don’t have to worry about that. But it might be our only chance of getting away from this planet with our skivvies intact.”

“Thank you for that wonderful mental image, sir,” Zoe said witheringly.

“You’re welcome.” He looked at Hank. “Election office?”

“With your person of good standing,” the pilot confirmed.

“Best be talking to that Leo Gunn.” He slapped his hands together and grinned. “Kaylee, you wanna do the honours and introduce us?”

She managed to stand up, only having to lean on Simon’s shoulder a little. “Mei wen ti, Cap.”

“Ya mean you ain’t gonna be wearing a dress?” Jayne asked.

“Not this time.”

“Reckon Frey’s glad about that.” He got to his feet and strode out of the room.

to be continued


Tuesday, May 12, 2009 8:03 AM


You area sneaky one, Jane. I remember you dropping a hint on one of your blogs about Zoe running for office. And here we go!

Nice. Also I can't think of anyone more qualified as a woman's rights advocate than Zoe.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009 10:26 AM


River.. doin' the math.. Eeny Meany Miney Zoe's it. Cant wait for More.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 5:28 PM


Ooo...Zoe as a know I think she'd make a pretty good one. Very very good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 6:14 PM


I just hope that Zoe doesn't have to make a speech. It would be short and to the point.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 8:10 AM


This made me smile so much. I have a feeling that if Zoe stands for us, with her forthright nature and views, she will win a landslide victory. Then how are our Heroes going to extract their shiny selves? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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