Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty
Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Uprising Begins


Chapter Thirty

“What the bloody hell was that?” Lt. Meyers asked as a loud bang – followed by a minor drop in air pressure – disturbed him from his post-coital repose. He pulled the sheet back and threw his legs over the side, waiting to hear some sort of alarm or call to duty stations sounded. “What is it?” his Browncoat whore asked, sleepily curling up in the threadbare sheets. “Hell if I know,” Meyers yawned. “Change in pressure. Felt like we blew an airlock or something . . .” “It wasn’t that good,” she giggled, girlishly. She was a hard-looking woman, but she was randy and enthusiastic enough. Hard to believe she had been a real gun-toting soldier, once. Meyers laughed with her while he stood up and headed to the head. “Probably some gorram pressure valve or somethin’,” he said lazily as he plied the stream around the stainless steel bowl. “This tub is so old . . .” “Maybe it’s a prisoner uprising,” the whore said, her voice trilling with sarcasm. There hadn’t even been any good fights lately – much less any sign of rebellion in the cowed Browncoats. Meyers had to laugh about that. “You think? Then you’d better hurry along, sweets, else you’ll be late . . .” “No,” she replied, breezily from behind him, “I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be.” She kissed his neck while encircling his arms from behind him, her bare breasts pressed deliciously against his back. He sighed and relaxed – rutting with a whore in exchange for better rations wasn’t exactly like having a girlfriend, he knew, but she did provide a certain measure of comfort on this lonely post. He relaxed and turned his head for a kiss . . . . . . only to be pressed firmly and suddenly up against the cold steel bulkhead. Off balance, he struggled to keep upright, but the whore’s nimble fingers, which had brought him such pleasure over the years, suddenly snapped a pair of plastic security restraints on his wrists. His own, he knew – they had used them at play before. That was one thing he enjoyed about this whore – she was endlessly inventive. “Again, already?” he laughed. “And tying me up, too?” “How can I resist?” she giggled back. “You just looked all . . . manly.” He straightened, his hands now firmly secured, and turned to face her. As soon as he saw her eyes the blood drained from his face – she was holding his service pistol pointed straight at his forehead, and he could see the safety was decidedly off. A look he couldn’t place was in her eyes as she gestured for him to sit. “Uh, this isn’t . . . fun, is it?” he asked, nervously, his throat suddenly dry. “Oh, that all depends on you, Sugar,” she said, that familiar giggle back, almost mocking him in its sexiness. “You see, I dearly need your access codes, Meyers, and I’m willing to do . . . anything . . . to get them,” she said with exaggerated lust – and a casual wave of his pistol in his face. “W-why do you want my access codes?” he asked, confused. She couldn’t get anywhere with them, he knew, not and not get caught. “So my comrades can get access, Silly!” she giggled again. Only there was a different edge to this laugh – a decidedly sinister one. “I-I can’t give you the access codes,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ll get in trouble.” “Sugar, you’re already in trouble,” she said, sadly. “Really, really deep trouble. I’ll give you one more chance to tell me of your own free will. After that, well, things are going to get . . . frisky!” “But I can’t!” he insisted. “C’mon, you’ve always been decent for a Browncoat! I’ve always treated you good! Why do you got to do this? Let me go, and I won’t even report it, okay?” To his dismay, a trace of whine had crept into his voice. “Sorry, Meyers, but the fact is you’re a Purplebelly. A decent one, but you’re still a Purplebelly. And I’m a Browncoat. And last time I checked, my folk were at war with your folk, so . . . consider this an act of war.” He looked at her and scoffed, feeling alone and afraid, sitting bound and naked on the toilet in front of an equally naked and well-armed woman. “But . . . damn, it’s . . . look, what are you going to do, shoot me?” “Oh, no, Sugar,” she said. “You blew your last chance to do it nice so . . . well, I can’t shoot you. That wouldn’t get me the code, now would it? But I should let you know,” she said, setting the pistol down on the sink and producing a five inch long knife from . . . somewhere? Where the hell could she have gotten a knife? “I should let you know that I really prefer my men . . . circumcised.

* * * Colonel Chen was sitting in the Officer’s Lounge, his eyes closed, a half-finished Scotch by his elbow slowly destroying the ice cubes it had been forced to bear, when he heard the explosion and felt the pressure drop. There were a few exclamations of surprise from around him, but he kept his eyes closed, trying to mentally visualize the possible origin of the blast. It was possible that it was merely yet another malfunction. Not just possible, probable. The Suri Madron was ancient, poorly maintained, cobbled together. Malfunctions were frequent, and sometimes spectacularly dangerous. It was probably just a system breakdown then. Only he knew it wasn’t. The Captain, Dr. Romano, even most of his own staff viewed the prisoners as docile, beaten, and harmless after more than a dozen years in captivity. His early days aboard the Suri Madron had been filled with foiling elaborate plans for uprising and escape, and a few attempts had even been made. But for the last several years the rebels had settled down into quiet complacency. The others saw it as them accepting their lot. Colonel Chen saw it for what it really was: patience and desperation. Colonel McNab was a canny fellow, far more intelligent and cagey than his buffoonish demeanor let on. Chen was well aware of his long-term plans to escape, to seize control of the Suri Madron. He had his spies – none in the Inner Circle of the prisoners, admittedly, but he had his people planted, cameras where they suspected none. He didn’t know everything that happened in the prisoners’ section, but he knew enough. They had been planning this for years. This was the perfect time for their uprising. They had promised perfect behavior during the inspection, and had performed . . . perfectly. Not so much as a peep from those squalid passageways since the inspector set foot on board. Just the sort of thing you do to put your guards off-guard. Now was the perfect time for them to strike. It’s what he would do, in McNab’s place. One last, desperate shot at freedom that was as much suicide attempt as it was liberation. Only the poor fool had no idea that there was no Independent Navy out there to rescue them, no stalwart Browncoats to ride to their support. The Independent faction was long, long gone. The only ship that would hear the prisoners’ hails was the gunboat that continuously shadowed them. And they wouldn’t be sending rescue shuttles, they’d be firing nukes. McNab was beaten before he’d even begun. “Uh, Colonel?” Lt. Suu asked, hesitant to disturb his commanding officer at repose. “Uh, do you think that felt like a ‘lock blowing out?” “Perhaps,” he murmured, his eyes still closed. “You can inquire with Engineering, but they’ll tell you it’s a minor problem, well under their control. But it will take nearly everyone in Engineering to deal with it.” “Uh . . . Colonel?” the confused lieutenant asked. “You see, it’s a distraction,” Chen said, opening his eyes suddenly and smiling. “It’s designed to distract our attention, Lieutenant. So that we won’t notice them sneaking up on us.” “You mean . . . the prisoners?” “Yes, Lieutenant, I mean the prisoners.” “Um, they’ve been pretty quiet lately . . . Sir,” he offered. “Too quiet,” Chen agreed. “And they’ve chosen their time perfectly. Shortly we’ll hear the first screams, the klaxons will sound, and there will be rioting throughout the ship.” “That’s . . . that’s a pretty big leap to make, based on one little boom, Sir,” Suu said, doubtfully. “Trust me, Lieutenant, I’ve been expecting this.” “You want me to alert a riot squad, then?” the younger officer asked, his voice telling the Colonel just how little he relished the task. “No, Lieutenant, I want you to alert all the riot squads: armor up and stand by for action. Have them draw down arms from the armory and stand by for further instructions.” “Yes, sir,” Suu said, sounding unsure if he believed his Colonel’s conclusion. “Shall I deploy the Pax?” “You can try,” Chen sighed, bringing his glass up under his nose and inhaling the smoky aroma deeply. “But I doubt it will work. They’ve thought of that.” “Yes, sir,” Suu said, quietly, and began to open his phone to relay the orders. “Oh, and Lieutenant?” Chen asked, calmly. “Instruct our men to dispense with the non-lethal riot gear. I want them in full battle dress, including combat arms. When this is done, there won’t be any herding them back to their cages. They’ve decided to re-start the bloody war. So we’ll come suitable attired.” His eyes wide with surprise, Suu began barking orders into his phone until he suddenly lost the connection. Puzzled, he studied the unit until Chen shook his arm. “They’ve cut communications,” he explained, quietly. “Deliver my orders to Command personally. And Lieutenant?” “Yes sir?” “I would run, if I were you.”




“All right, all right,” the sergeant grumbled as he pushed his way through the crowd of prisoners that was almost always lolling around the Concourse. Two bored-looking guards followed him, hands on their submachine guns as regulations required, but the act was more routine than precautious. “All right!” the sergeant said, finally, as he made his way to the biggest knot of prisoners. “We’ve got another EVA duty to get that busted transmitter fixed. Three, maybe four hours if we work fast. Need a dozen men, and we need them now.” He scanned the crowd looking for the usual former spacers eager for a break from the interminable boredom. None seemed to be pushing forwards. “Did you hear me?” he said, more loudly. “EVA duty! A day’s double rations!” Still nothing. The mumbling crowd was all but silent, watching he and his men. “What about Ham?” some voice from the back of the crowd called. “He get his double rations?” There was a chorus of wry, humorless laughter about that. The sergeant looked troubled. “We all feel bad about Ham,” he said, with a note of sincerity in his voice. “But that doesn’t mean we can just let the ship go to hell. We need an EVA team, and I’m offering double rations for every man. I need twelve,” he repeated, looking around. Still, none of the prisoners came forward. “Come on, fellas!” the sergeant said, exasperatedly. “Triple rations? Chen’s on my pi gu to get this done fast, and it would really help me out if—” “No one wants to do your bloody EVA,” came another voice from the back of the crowd. “We’re tired of getting blown into the Black because your lads don’t want to be bothered.” The voice was familiar, if slurred, and the moment the sergeant recognized it he straightened and looked more hopeful. “You know the regs, McNab,” he said, patiently. “ ‘No Alliance Military personnel are to engage in housekeeping or maintenance duties if a trusted prisoner is available to do said duties without risk of escape, insurrection, or security.’” “Which means we do your dirty work for you, and get killed for you when the go se hits the intake, don’t it, lads?” There was a general, if lackluster, grunt of agreement from the crowd. “Well, you can’t very well expect my guys to do it,” the sergeant said, clearly irritated. “We’ve all got to pitch in to keep the ship running. It’s in your interest as much as ours,” he explained, reasonably. “Only if we want to stay on this bloody wreck,” McNab said. “McNab . . . you’re drunk!” the sergeant observed as the unshaven browncoat stumbled through the crowd towards him. “And you’re an asshole,” McNab quipped. “Tomorrow I’ll be sober, but you’ll still be an asshole. Or dead.” The browncoat swaggered in front of the guards and grinned stupidly. He raised a bottle – a beaker stolen from one of the labs, actually – full of the homemade liquor the guards turned a blind eye towards. “That isn’t funny, McNab,” the sergeant said, warningly. “That kind of talk will see you before Colonel Chen.” “Wouldn’t that be lovely?” he asked, gaily. “Me an’ the man himself sittin’ down for a chat? Why not invite the Captain to haul his fat drunken arse down from the Bridge, pull Romano’s thick head out of his backside, and we’ll have a foursome for Bridge!” The chorus of laughter that followed the drunk colonel’s antics was low and mean-spirited – and very much against type. “I’m warning you, McNab, talk of murder and shirking your duties will get you short rations – I can see to that. Keep it up, and a few of your lads might have to go Below and . . . do some 'maintenance'.” The threat was casually given, but pregnant with meaning. But it did not have it's intended effect -- the prisoners looked more angry and sullen than cowed and afraid. “Oh, you mean arbitrarily execute a prisoner of war for disciplinary reasons under the cover of trustee authority?” McNab rattled off. “That’s a war crime, that is.” “Take it up with the IRC,” the sergeant growled. “If any of you are smart, someone will escort McNab back to his cot before he finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for. And I had better start seeing some volunteers, or I’ll choose a few myself!” “We don’t want your stinkin’ duty,” the Browncoat leader said, emphatically. “We don’t want three times the same shitty rations as a reward for risking our lives. We don’t want to be subjected to war crimes and inhuman experiments. We sure as hell don’t want to ever be sent Below. But most of all . . .” he said, pausing to take a generous swallow of the cloudy liquor, “we want off of this stinkin’ abomination of the rules of God and man, sergeant. We want off of this bloody ship.” He turned his back on the Alliance noncom in disgust. “You should know very well how this works, Nabsy,” the sergeant spat back, as he started to become aware of the menacing current running through the crowd, “The only way you’re going to ever get off the Suri Madron is the way poor Ham did. Now, for the last time, are you going to get me my crew together, or am I going to have to pick them, McNab?” “My rank,” the drunken officer said, his eyes blazing, “is Colonel!” With that the browncoat officer quickly spun around. The sergeant stepped back reflexively, halfway expecting the drunk to throw a punch at him. That happened, sometimes, and a good guard learned how to step back from them without taking the punch. They didn’t usually expect the fist coming towards them to hold a razor-sharp samurai sword, however. McNab’s blade arced beautifully to intersect the throat of the arrogant sergeant, severing his arteries and slicing his larynx clean in twain, though it missed the spinal column, leaving the man all-too-conscious of bleeding to death. The move had been so sudden that the two guards behind him did not begin to grab their weapons until after a fine spray of their sergeant’s blood splattered across their faces. By then it was too late: intent on the antics of the buffoonish Browncoat leader, they hadn’t noticed the press of the crowd of prisoners until they had a dozen hands on them, calmly removing their weapons, radios, wallets, and anything else of dubious value. Both of them had terror in their eyes as a suddenly much-less drunken Independent Colonel now strutted back and forth in front of them, the bottle passed to an aid but the bloodied katana still quivering naked in his fist. “Now, lads,” he said, addressing the guards, “you may have forgotten about this, but we are at war with you. War, as you might have heard, is a nasty bit of business, where terrible, terrible things can happen. Like your poor sergeant, there, who had a lapse of memory in regards to proper military etiquette that only lasted a decade or so. That cost him his head,” he said, glancing down to the body at his feet. To his surprise, the rapidly dying man still seemed somewhat conscious, albeit in deep shock. McNab knelt quickly by his side and stared into his dying eyes. “You shouldn’t have forgotten my rank, you arse, and maybe you might have survived.” He wiped his blade on the man’s purple tunic as his arterial blood pooled across the deck and around McNab’s feet, then relieved him of his side arm. “Now you two,” he said, straightening as he inspected the blade. “I know you both pretty well. You’ve been about fair middlin’ decent to me an’ mine, which is more than I can say for some of your associates—” “You’ll be spaced for this, you arrogant Browncoa—” spat the man on the left. He was interrupted when a third of McNab’s blade went clean through his uniform and deep enough into his chest to pierce a lung and cut a vein or two. The man’s eyes went wide, though he did not fall until McNab withdrew the sword completely. This time the browncoat officer didn’t even watch the body fall. “As I was saying,” he continued, calmly. “I know you’ve been decent, but not exemplary, to us over the years. I’d like to repay that level of kindness, if I could. Therefore, you have until the signal sounds to beg me for your life. I mean beg me – because I don’t have enough resources to collect prisoners myself, so—” “Colonel,” the man said, eyes wide with terror, his voice trembling. “I can be a hostage, Sir, you can trade me—” McNab laughed, evilly. “Trade you? There is only one thing anyone on this ship wants, Corporal, and you, I’m afraid, are just not worth enough to buy even one man off the ship. So whether you live or die and how depends entirely on my humor. And since we’re waiting for a signal and might have a few moments, I figured it might be entertaining to see a Purplebelly beg for his miserable life for a change. Who knows, if you’re amusing enough, I might stick you in a storage closet somewhere and forget about you until later.” The young Alliance noncom began babbling excitedly about why he wanted to live, and was beginning to call his own ancestry, personal hygiene, and sexual orientation into question before a very entertained audience when a boom and a chuff of decompression rattled the entire Concourse. “Oh, I’m afraid your time is up, Corporal,” McNab said in a friendly voice. “And I have to admit, I was pleased with your creativity, especially towards the end, there – the part about the Pekinese was crudely novel. But I’m afraid I have an appointment to keep,” he said, as he watched his people hurry to their assigned stations with looks of grim determination on their faces, “so I think it best I go ahead and pass summary judgment on you. You’re in luck: I think you were good enough to be spared the long, slow, agonizing death by torture we had originally envisioned for you. We were going to use the industrial cleaning solvents to slowly dissolve your limbs, one at a time, over the course of hours. I think we can avoid that, don’t you?” “Oh, God, thank you Sir!” the man said, relieved. “I’ll be quiet, I promise, sir, just lock me away—” “Lad, lad,” the enemy Colonel laughed, “I said you escaped our worst torture. I didn’t say I’d spare your life. You’ve taken a club to every other man here at one time or another. So you won’t be tortured to death in that highly imaginative way one of our ladies thoughtfully put together. But I still don’t have the resources to mind you, and having a prisoner behind your lines in an active warzone is a mistake. Lieutenant Sheffield!” “Yes, Sir!” an older man said, springing to attention with a military efficiency that belied his slovenly clothes. “Detail one of the reserve squads to termination duty for this man. They are not to make him suffer overmuch, and I expect him to be well and truly expired within thirty minutes after they begin. He's not to suffer a moment more than that.” “NO! God! NO!” the corporal wailed in terror as three Browncoats drug him away at Sheffield’s direction. “Oh, and Lieutenant?” “Yes, Colonel?” “Ammunition is at a premium, so avoid shooting him, if at all possible. But blades and blunt objects, they should be fine.” “Yessir!” the man grinned, ferociously. McNab swallowed, grimly, and took one last look at the shrieking enemy soldier being dragged off to his doom before he turned and started striding towards his own assigned station. After all, time was of the essence. And he had a battle to fight.




“I wonder what Simon’s up to?” Kaylee asked herself as she slumped over the table in the kitchen, drinking a cup of tea Inara had made for her. “I bet he’s having a grand ol’ time, orderin’ around those Alliance flunkies. He looked so damn . . . yummy in that uniform, ‘Nara, I just—” “Let’s . . . not get off-topic, okay mei mei?” Inara said, as she re-filled the tea kettle from the tap. The last thing she wanted was to discuss any kind of sex at all with anyone, not after the close-call she and Mal had enjoyed earlier. That includes asexual reproduction and budding, she thought to herself, adamantly. “We had a topic? I thought I was just moonin’ again,” she said with a sigh. “You were, but that doesn’t mean we have to dwell on it, does it? I mean, we’re all worried about him, and now I’m twice as worried because we seemed to have mislaid his sister—” “Huh!” Kaylee chuckled wickedly. “She gotta get laid afore she gets mis-laid, don’t it stand to reason?” “In any case,” Inara said, with stern emphasis, “He’s not going to be happy when he finds out she’s scampered off.” “She’s probably just skulkin’ about in the recesses of the ship,” Kaylee reasoned. “She got a half-dozen little hidey-holes around here. I only know about two thirds of ‘em, I suspect. You know how she gets . . . especially when she’s in a hidin’ mood.” “That’s what I’m afraid of,” Inara said, biting her lip worriedly. “Remember when she decided it would be great to pretend she was a spacesuit that awful day before we got to Ithaca?” “Yeah, hidin’ out in a suit, who’d have thought o’ that?” Kaylee laughed. “I musta walked right by her a dozen times afore she . . .” Oops, Inara thought to herself. She didn’t need to finish Kaylee’s sentence either, because that had been a few weeks before Wash had been killed, and it had been the late pilot who River had chosen to reveal herself to, suddenly – suddenly enough, in fact, that he had wet his flight suit. Wash was the kind of good sport who didn’t get mad at that sort of thing, though. Only now he would never get even for the prank. “She said that he was the first one that’d thought of looking there, which is why she sprung on him like that,” Kaylee mused, reverently. “She liked to . . . read him a lot. Said he was easy, ‘less he was fightin’ with Zoe.” “I can see how that could cloud a body’s mind,” Inara agreed. “I wonder how she’s doin’?” Kaylee sighed. “It feels so . . . off without her around.” “I expect she’s doing as well as she always does,” Inara sighed. “Kaylee, are you going to just sit here and speculate on how everyone who isn’t here is doing? Aren’t you supposed to be running some sort of dummy tests or something?” “Got it,” the engineer assured her. “I’m runnin’ a fake ring test right now, takin’ it up to three million revs. But it takes a good twenty minutes to get ‘er spun up, so I figured I’d go find my good friend Inara, who ain’t doin’ nothin’ in particular, and spend some quality time with—” A sudden noise made the engineer sit bolt upright. Inara had been on enough spacecraft to know instantly what the noise was: somewhere on the ship – or the bigger ship that surrounded it, actually – there had been some sort of compression loss. Not quite enough for her ears to pop, but . . . “That weren’t a ring pop,” Kayless said, eyes wide and scared. “That was—” “That was an opportunity,” Mal said from the doorway. “A big, juicy, lucky opportunity.” “How do you arrive at that conclusion?” Inara asked, one eyebrow raised. “’Cause it’s still early for the attack, yet, and that means that the little malfunction you just felt is gonna have all the engineers runnin’ about, willy nilly with their hair on fire, until they get it locked down. Which means that their attention, such as it is, will be on the prospect of massive explosive decompression and not a couple of felons quietly lightening their storehouse.” “Or it will get you shot,” Inara pointed out. “Them engineers ain’t armed for that,” Mal countered. “And this is a prison ship – they ain’t likely to shoot first, I expect. So this is a golden opportunity for me and Jayne to go on the prowl. See?” he said, proudly. “I think this whole venture is ill-conceived,” Inara said, shaking her head. “Which is why it don’t involve you in the slightest,” Mal retorted, his voice a little on edge. Far from shrinking into the corner in the face of their intense discussion, Kaylee grinned indulgently and drank her tea, as if the display was designed specifically to entertain her. “If we need a . . . cook, then I’ll call you.” “You’ll need a medic first,” she shot back. “Which we don’t have . . .” “We’ll muddle through. How long until your ruckus, Kaylee?” “Maybe ten, twenty minutes, Cap’n.” “Which is just enough time for us to wander down there and grab the stuff. By the time we’re back to the hatch, the noise will cover us loading up. You informed the bay crew what we’re doin’?” “All taken care of, Cap’n!” “Good girl,” he said, drawing his pistol and checking the load before he thumbed the safety back on and re-holstered it. “We do this right, they won’t know they been took ‘til the attack . . . and I’m hoping they’ll be too busy to ask to many embarrassing questions after that.” “Well, there’s still a while before the attack,” Inara warned. “If something goes wrong . . .” “Then we lay down arms, turn ourselves over to the proper authorities, and wait in a comfortable cell until we are liberated by our comrades in arms,” Mal proclaimed. “Don’t even have to worry about an escape plan.” “What if the attack gets called off at the last second?” Inara asked. “Then . . . you an’ Kaylee go off and find Zoe and the doc and come rescue us.” “Ain’t soundin’ like a particularly brilliant scheme,” Kaylee observed. “Actually, it sounds like most of his plans,” Inara said, shaking her head. “Like I said . . .” “Will you two doubters just hush? This is war, and it’s thievery, and those are two of the three things I’m best at! Give a fella a little credit, willya?” “What the hell was that?” Jayne asked, pulling his boots on as he stumbled into the kitchen. “I was taking a grumpy when I heard—” “Dear God, don’t finish that sentence,” Inara insisted. “It’s our signal,” Mal explained. “We were looking for a diversion, and this lousy ol’ boat gave us one. By the sound of it and the pressure wave, I’d say it was a major lock, or maybe a central ventilation junction.” “Made my teeth rattle,” mumbled Jayne. “That mean we’re a go?” “Put your sneaky face on,” Mal agreed, “we’re going to go athieving!” “Yes, what could possibly go wrong?” Inara asked, shaking her head as she looked from one face to the other. Kaylee just closed her eyes, shaking her own as she gave a doubtful grunt. “That’s what I’m sayin’,” agreed Mal, immune to the sarcasm. “Let’s ride, Jayne.”


Thursday, May 20, 2010 11:08 AM


I'm back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 12:05 PM


StA welcome back... I've missed your prose. Looking forward to seeing the showdown between McNabb and (Romero and Co.) Perhaps Phillips will draw Jayne's sneaky face someday....

Keep Flyin',


Thursday, May 20, 2010 12:29 PM


:o :0 :O

I'll say you're back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 12:59 PM


I'd like to comment on the shades of grey. The pretty, /ugly/ shades of grey. The Alliance are assholes. We know this, we know they've been abusive, and in case we forget, it's all right there in your name.

And as much as these abusive Alliance guards might deserve it, and even though we have browncoats who believe they're still at war... We have McNab, accepting an enemy soldier's surrender... then ordering him beaten to death. Desperate, practical, justified, or not, don't think that's anywhere in the good spectrum. These are people on all sides driven to drastic behaviour and general insanity.

Also, Obfuscating Stupidity for the win.

Also also, forgot to say, welcome back. A lot of us were hoping we'd see you again sometime.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 1:37 PM


I'm not defending what McNab did . . . but the man is half-mad from captivity, and he's committed at this point. Honor or not, he's going to be brutal -- as is his foe. Not saying the guard deserved it, but this is as much prison uprising as anything else.

And thanks!

Thursday, May 20, 2010 2:11 PM


Ah, that's what's been missing!

Welcome back. And thanks!

Thursday, May 20, 2010 3:41 PM


So glad to see more of this story. Your good words and good works have been missed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 10:35 PM


OMG! I've given this a 10 out of sheer excitement and I havent read it or the comments yet! OMG! That must have been one hell of a writer's block.

Will read later. Can't wait.

Friday, May 21, 2010 1:41 AM


Not writer's block -- far from it. I've been writing a novel for a publisher for the last year or so. But I'll explain in more detail later. Thanks for welcoming me back!

Friday, May 21, 2010 10:21 AM


I wouldn't have suspected McNab of being capable of this level of brutality. But actually, like Kaylee, I'm all about what Simon's up to: is he going to turn on the crew for the sake of River?

Friday, May 21, 2010 4:48 PM


Well... <_< I could. I mean, this is the same McNab who sacrificed one of his own men while they were working on the hull. And he DOES think he's still at war.

I totally expect an analogy at some point between the prisoners, the guards, and the Reavers contained down below. :D

Friday, May 21, 2010 10:55 PM


OH MY GOD YOU'RE BACK!!!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I've missed your writing soooooo much! For awhile there, I thought your title for this piece was going to become a bit of ironic prophecy. You've got to tell us what this piece of work you're doing is so that we can support it. If it's anything like the masterpieces you produce here, it should be well worth the read. Hopefully, you'll have the time now to finish this epic you've gotten us hooked on...and I mean hook line and sinker. You are, in my opinion, one of the best writers on this site. MORE PLEASE!!!!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010 2:45 AM


I'm not at liberty to say exactly what it is until my agent says I can (he's pitching it as a novel and as a TV series -- yay!) but it's something I wrote under another pseudonym. And it was a freakn' BEAR to write, about 700 pages, give or take.

Apart from my novel Spellmonger, which some of you may have read, there is this other little thing I've been writing. It's an erotic steampunk novel (yeah, I went THERE). If that sort of thing lights your lamp, (and one of the things that attracted me to the idea was using more lovely 19th century language) then you can find the first five chapters of it here, under the pen name "Ian Ironwood". Long story. It's called "Edward Lane's Argosy", and the main characters are a Victorian gentleman burglar and a mercenary airship Captain. Billy the Kid, and Max Planck, Geronimo and other historical figures are also characters,and yes, there's lots of sex.

I hesitate to mix my audiances, because I don't want to disapoint any of my readers. Not that I think y'all are prudes, of course, but none of my Firefly stuff is explicit, and this other stuff is. So only go there if you can handle adult material.

I've also had a couple of other little things pop up, but my novel (title is "Casanova's Butterfly", but that's all I can give you) has been what I've been contractually obligated to write.

I was worried the title "Unfinished Business" might become ironic, too, but I knew I'd finish it. I owe y'all too much -- Kaylee's Lament broke my worst writer's block, and y'all have been as loyal a readership as a writer could ask for. So yeah, I'm going to finish this puppy and probably even do the next book too. No telling how long it will take, though . . .

Saturday, May 22, 2010 11:16 AM


Glad you're back. I even sent a couple of emails. I started to wonder what happened. I knew about the novel but not that it was taking so long. I will check out your other stuff. Going into the erotic from other works makes me think of John Ringo. He did a lot of scifi stuff and then did a modern spy/special forces type book with a lot of sex. Ironicly the Ghost series(the spy series) is now one of his most demanded series. :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010 3:30 PM


I got the emails -- from everyone. Which I thank you all for. I felt very loved, and very sorrowful that I couldn't devote the attention needed to finish this properly until now.

It's not that I'm ashamed of my erotica -- I've written a lot of it, and it tends to be quality stuff. But until the current market for straight-forward scifi picks up, I'm building an audiance the best I can. On the plus side, I've managed to lure people in with the sex and keep them around for the story -- which is really all I can ask.

BTW, I'm on the lookout for a couple of good fan artists for a super-secret Firefly-oriented project for charity. Interested folk should give me a holler.

Sunday, May 23, 2010 12:37 PM


was it my email/facebook message that tipped the ballance :-)warm greetings from KrelleK :-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010 2:50 PM


Well if bad stick figure art counts as artist I would offer. But yeah I am horrible.

Hmm your steampunk page won't load for me. It keeps timing out. I tried it yesterday and again today and same thing. Even tried different browsers and same thing. Not having trouble with any other URL's so i don't think it is my connection. Guess I will try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:03 AM


This is THE BEST news, to click my FFF bookmark (which is *still* your Blue Sun Room page) and see that chapter thirty looking back at me. Keep us informed as to the progress of your new novel-I'm sure I'm not the only one here eager to read it. Congratulations and thanks!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 7:58 AM


Ok there it finally worked. Will check out the story this week now. Also assuming we like it, where can we find the rest of the book. I just did a quick google and amazon search and didn't see it listed anywhere but there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 8:23 AM


That's because it's in-process -- I've got one or two chapters ahead, but I'm still writing it. I love the instant-feedback of web writing, though, so feel free to tear it apart.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 4:08 PM


Ah ok, I misunderstood then. I thought you had it finished already and was just posting up a teaser.

Sunday, May 30, 2010 4:40 PM


Well it has been awhile, maybe it is time to start all over at KL and read back up to here non stop hopefully by then you will have a couple of more chapters posted. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010 6:01 PM


Great to have you back, StA! What a great way to start the summer (eh, one week in- thanks, trimesters...) I guess this means I have to get a move on as well in my own we go.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:20 AM



SO glad to see you back! More of your top level stuff. Missed your writing, been offsite for a while and was thrilled to log on for a second yo check (just maybe) if you'd posted something, and what a SHINY surprise!


Thursday, September 30, 2010 6:42 PM


Excellent story as always, wishing for an update


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Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty-One
The battle begins, Rachel changes plans, and River meets the politest baboon she's ever met.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty
The Uprising Begins

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Nine
A whole lotta folks get ready to do a whole lotta stuff.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Eight
The Confession of Dr. Rendell.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Seven
River remembers her birthday and meets a monkey . . . sort of.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Six
Inara Serra's Temptaion: The Lady, or the Tiger?

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Five
Inspector Simon and Dr. Romano have a little chat, and Fate gives him a gift

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Four
The excitement of piracy, the agony of waiting, and the anticipation of a completely stupid stunt!

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Three
Serenity arrives on the Suri Madron.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Two
Simon gets tested, Zoe gets quizzed, and Kaylee gets . . . satisfied. For the moment.