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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Kaylee tells the Captain and Jayne where to go. Something goes boom! River and Mal try to navigate their way out of trouble.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1831 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
(03) SPARKS FLY
Follows ADVENTURES IN SITTING (02). Precedes EXPECTATIONS (04).
Start at the beginning with A LION’S MOUTH (01)
Kaylee tells the Captain and Jayne where to go. Something goes boom! River and Mal try to navigate their way out of trouble.
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* * *
Now suited up, Jayne, Kaylee, and Mal exited Serenity through the topside airlock. Jayne carried Kaylee’s zero-g toolbox, which differed from her standard toolbox in that all the tools were velcroed securely in place. He moved with the confidence of a seasoned spacewalker. Mal, too, moved with the assurance born of experience, and easily accepted the toolbox when Jayne handed it off in order to secure his tether to Kaylee. Kaylee, though already tethered to Mal, was nearly paralytic, and clung to the grommets and holdbars of Serenity’s topside with death-grip hands and feet. She was barely able to move, a panicky bowl of jelly, almost whimpering.
“Tether’s secured,” Jayne reported.
Mal spoke. “Kaylee, look at me.”
She did, with a terrified look. Mal had seen just that sort of look many a time during the war, usually on unseasoned recruits who were getting their first dose of fire and were like to do something might get themselves killed. But it wasn’t for nothing that he’d been a sergeant.
“I know you don’t like being out here. But we got you securely tethered between Jayne and me. We’re right beside you. Don’t look into the Black, keep your eyes on the boat. You’re gonna do it fine. You just ask for your tools and hand us the parts, same as if you was in the engine room. Boss us around, even. You tell me where to go. Hell, I bet you can’t wait to tell Jayne where to go.”
“Hey!” Jayne objected.
Kaylee gave her Captain the tiniest ghost of a smile. Jayne offered her a hand and pulled her to a standing position.
“ 一起深呼吸 Yīqǐ shēn hūxī ,” Kaylee said, mostly to herself, trying to get a grip on her fears. Her voice was still unnaturally high-pitched, but steadier, as she said, “Right Jayne, first nav sat is starboard side.” Jayne led her by the hand.
Once they reached the nav sat and set to work, Kaylee became much calmer. Her attention was engaged in the work, and she almost didn’t notice the Black. Jayne was sight-seeing, looking at the big looming planet. Mal pointedly avoided looking at the planet, although he could feel its presence like prickles at the back of his neck. It was odd, that he should have to recall his sergeant skills here, right within sight of Hera. The presence of Serenity Valley and the hundreds of thousands of dead was palpable.
“Number six spanner,” Kaylee requested, holding out a gloved hand. Mal placed the tool in her grip. “The whole thing’s kinda fused together.” She worked at the bottom edge of a misshapen lump of metal and plastic. Remnants of a dial had melted into the edge of the distorted company logo, which ran into something that had once been a digital display. “Gimme a claw. Gotta prise it off.” Mal handed off the tools. “There.” Kaylee handed the lump to Jayne. “Can’t fix that out here. Let’s take a look at the next.”
They worked their way across the boat. The central nav sat was a similar mess, and the electrical malfunction that had apparently caused the meltdown had also taken out the nearby cortex link. Jayne’s bag had now acquired several more lumpy objects. It floated behind him on a thin tether attached to his belt. Kaylee had hit her stride and worked with confidence.
“It’s the same as the others, all melted. Time-delay fuse.” She pointed out the remants of an explosive device. “That there’s the remains of the timer.”
“Said it was sabotage,” Jayne said. “Someone planted this here…”
“All timed to go off, one after another,” Kaylee said, “once we was far enough into space to make it hard to repair.”
“Knocking out the cortex feed took some planning, too.” Mal was thoughtful.
Kaylee removed a last lump of nav sat-that-was, and handed it to Jayne. Her attention was caught by something odd. It looked like a bit of electronics that was still intact. “Now what’s that?” she asked, reaching toward it.
Mal caught a glimpse, and his reaction was instinctive—the kind of thing that had saved his life and others’ countless times during the war. “Kaylee, don’t touch it!” he shouted, automatically hooking his boots under a holdbar and pulling Kaylee under his body in a defensive crouch.
Jayne’s instincts didn’t serve him so well. “What, this—” he began, reaching.
The boom was silent. Mal crouched, avoiding the flying bits of plastic and hoping like hell nothing punctured any of the suits. An electrical arc like a small bolt of lightning struck Jayne, whose body flailed convulsively and hurtled off the side of the ship into space. Jayne’s momentum jerked the tether, pulling Kaylee out of Mal’s grip and stretching the tether between them taught.
“Captain!” Kaylee shrieked.
Mal held on by the tips of his boots hooked under the bar. The tether reached its maximum length and began its recoil. “Jayne?” he called, pulling in the tether, gathering them back in.
“He ain’t breathin’,” Kaylee gasped.
“I think his heart’s stopped.” Mal knew they had seconds to act. “Take him back to the airlock, double time!”
Mal and Kaylee did the closest approximation to running they could, wearing magnetic boots and tethered spacesuits. Luckily, weightlessness worked in their favor as they pulled Jayne’s inert body along toward the airlock. Mal spoke into the comm. “Zoe! Get Doc! We got a medical emergency!”
Jayne, Kaylee and Mal, still fully suited, were at the top of the ladder-like steps from airlock. Zoe, Simon, and Inara did their best to set Jayne down gently, but his heavy, inert form was unwieldy and the best they could do was to keep him from getting dumped on the deck too hard. The tether pulled Kaylee, then Mal, abruptly down the steps, and they did their best not to fall onto anyone. A clatter of bags full of tools and the suddenly heavy lumps of fused metal and plastic accompanied them. Simon took one look at Jayne’s face.
“Get his helmet off!” Zoe removed it, efficiently. “The suit!”
Mal had removed his own spacesuit in record time, and now bent to remove Jayne’s. Simon had placed an oxygen mask over Jayne’s face as soon as his helmet was off, and placed the paddles of his defibrillator as soon as Jayne’s chest was clear. As he worked, Simon eyed the burn marks on Jayne’s neck and chest worriedly.
Jayne lay in infirmary, drugged into a stupor. Simon said his heart was fine, but had him hooked up to a monitor anyway. He had treated his burns, saying that the pain from the burns would probably be Jayne’s most lasting problem.
Mal, Zoe, Kaylee, and Inara gathered outside the infirmary door as Simon updated his charts.
“…sabotage and a booby trap,” Kaylee was saying, indignantly. “A thorough muck-up of the entire nav system.”
“It was timed to go off well into our flight and disable the ship far from both our origin and our destination. Then it was booby-trapped to kill or injure whoever came outside to fix it.” Mal fixed Zoe with a significant look. “It was a Qianxia proximity detonator. Anti-personnel,” he added, for the benefit of Kaylee and Inara.
Kaylee gasped. Inara looked shocked.
“Haven’t seen one of those since the war,” Mal continued.
“I thought those weapons were banned.” Inara put in, unexpectedly.
“They are,” Mal answered. “Didn’t stop the Alliance from using ’em, howsomever.”
“This is the work of a master planner,” Zoe added. “Somebody took a lot of trouble to make sure we didn’t have plain sailing.”
“Somebody with access to Alliance military stores. They’re the only ones kept a stockpile of weapons banned by treaty.”
Zoe and Mal shared a significant look. “They’re after the cargo, sir.”
“What?” Inara exclaimed, catching the look. “I thought this was legal cargo, Mal.”
“Well, it is legal, but…”
“Holden Boys packed a secret parcel in one of the crates,” Zoe finished.
“Buck Holden’s got a notion that somebody wants to stop that parcel being delivered. Wang, Monty, Renshaw already tried and failed. All of them met with mishaps.”
Simon exited infirmary, and Mal asked him for a report with a look.
“He’ll recover. It’ll take him a while to regain consciousness. I’ve given him a lot of pain meds for the burns. He had quite a shock.” Simon inwardly winced as he realized he’d made a horrible inappropriate pun. “You two saved his life, bringing him in so quickly.”
Mal ignored the commendation. “Kaylee, I know you and Simon were kinda busy entertaining those bounty hunters when we were parked on Beaumonde, but did you see anyone else lurking about the ship?
“Nobody else came in by the cargo airlock that I saw…” Kaylee answered.
“My attention was focused on the…” Simon began.
River’s voice sounded over the comm. She had been listening in from the bridge. “There was someone. Outside. I was too busy to look.”
Mal, Zoe, Kaylee, Inara, and River gathered around the vid screen on the bridge. Serenity’s portside security system was rudimentary, and the close-up from the external vid record was very grainy. A fuzzy, unrecognizable human figure was observed climbing Serenity’s starboard access ladder.
“So there’s the saboteur,” Inara said.
“Not enough detail to get any ID,” Zoe observed.
“Someone took a passel o’ trouble—climbing around the outside of this boat ain’t exactly easy to do planetside,” Kaylee said, adding “’Course, it ain’t exactly easy in zero gravity, neither.” She was thoughtful for a moment as she contemplated the time-stamp on the vid. “I still can’t work out how Inara’s shuttle got sabotaged,” she said, turning to Inara. “Weren’t you still away in the shuttle when this was goin’ on?”
Inara agreed that she was. She didn’t understand it either. “Trojan horse,” speculated Mal, “or a worm. Saboteur mucked with Serenity’s nav and comm. Once Inara linked up, it musta spread to her shuttle’s system, maybe through the cortex. Or permaybehaps it coulda been a jamming device.” He contemplated the fuzzy figure with intense scrutiny.
“I think it’s a woman,” Mal stated, with sudden certainty.
Inara looked at him sharply. “What makes you say that?”
“Climbs like a girl.”
The edge in Zoe’s voice could’ve cut through ice. “‘Climbs like a girl,’ sir?”
Mal suddenly noticed that he was surrounded entirely by the female members of his crew. He was on precarious ground, and knew it, and he was about to step in it. Explaining to his female first officer, mechanic, pilot, and his girlfriend, what makes a woman womanly.
“Well, you know, moves like…well, not like a man. Man would be usin’ his shoulders. This one moves from the hips…also has a big, round a—” He gestured with his hands in the universal male way of indicating the round parts of a woman’s body, then caught the looks on the faces of the women around him. Uh-oh. “—curves, you know, figure,” he ended, lamely.
He felt pinned by the looks on the women’s faces. Zoe, with a critical glare; Kaylee, shocked by his plain speech; River, with a scandalized grin—she knew what he was going to say, 该死 gāisǐ ; Inara, with an amused smile that reached her eyes.
Mal and River huddled over the flight desk, examining the star chart and re-calculating the course from Hera to 尘球 Chén Qíu. Simon, Kaylee, and Zoe observed them as they worked.
“That book I read, about the ancient mariner—” Simon told Kaylee, “His crew mutinied and put him over the side in a small boat in the middle of nowhere. All he had was a compass and a sextant. He made it back to civilization. We have—”
“It’s fiction.” Mal looked up from the flight desk.
“What’s—what do you mean?”
“He had a compass, a sextant, an accurate clock, and an ephemeris, minimum, or he was writin’ fiction,” Mal asserted. “And if he actually wanted to get there, he had food, water, air, and a means of making his boat move.”
“What is an ephemeris?” Simon asked.
“It’s a table of calculated positions of stars and planets. We get ours through the cortex, when the nav sats don’t get it for us. But the cortex is still off line….I asked River to study the ephemeris a while ago and luckily she’s got most of it in her head. That’s what makes me different from that ancient captain. I got a good crew.”
Calculating the course from Hera to 尘球 Chén Qíu by hand was lengthy process. Long after the others had abandoned the bridge, River and Mal were still huddled over the star chart in close consultation. The sextant and River’s cross staff lay on the counter nearby, and from time to time, Mal or River arose and made an observation.
Zoe was quite impressed. Although she was a qualified pilot, navigation had never been her strong suit. Wash had been not only a superior pilot, but also a superior navigator, and on the rare occasions when the cortex connection or the flight computer had been on the blink, he’d always taken care of the course plotting. Zoe had never really considered what Mal’s navigation skills might be, and it was only now that they were needed that she realized how thoroughly he knew the subject. Wash had never been faced with a situation like this in all his time aboard Serenity. Zoe watched the interchange between her friend and River, and thought she had rarely seen Mal so positively engaged. The others looked to him as leader, plan maker, fighter, but rarely considered that he was also a teacher. Maybe not the most patient teacher, but he was good at assessing a person’s talents and knew how to motivate people to reach their potential. And in River he had a star pupil.
“They’re working so smoothly,” Kaylee observed, as Mal and River simultaneously pointed to a spot on the chart, and laughed. “It’s like they have an unspoken communication. I knew River could…I never saw the Captain communicate so well.” She always knew the Captain was a good man, but sometimes the others couldn’t see past his orneriness.
“I haven’t seen River so focused, so coherent, for such a long time,” Simon said. “She’s excited, she’s learning something new.” Simon wasn’t ready to admit it to anyone else, but what impressed him most—left him awestruck, actually—was the fact that it was Mal who had wrought this change in River. Mal was teaching his genius sister something new, Mal was leading her to new discoveries, Mal—who had impressed Simon at first meeting as the most intractable 混蛋 húndàn in the ’Verse, the living embodiment of everything that could be wrong about a person. Mal was teaching her everything he knew about navigation, and that everything was considerable. Simon found himself having a very Mal-like reaction to this realization. Huh.
Jayne awoke in the infirmary to find Kaylee sitting by his side. “Kaylee? What happened?”
“Oh, Jayne, you got blown off the boat by the booby trap. Stopped your heart, you weren’t breathin’. Me and the Cap’n got you in and you shoulda seen how fast Simon got you back. You got some electrical burns, too, and Simon fixed them up for ya.”
“You brought me in?” Jayne looked at Kaylee. “Thanks, little Kaylee.”
“It’s I should be thankin’ you, Jayne. I couldn’ta done it if you hadn’t helped me first. You got me past my unreasonable fears.”
“Turned out your fears weren’t unreasonable at all. Anyways, thanks.”
Mal walked his rounds that evening with a little more satisfaction than usual. River took to navigating like a duck to water. Zoe was flying the ship on the carefully plotted course, looking more alert than she’d been for days, and more alive than she’d been for weeks. Kaylee had overcome her fears and risen to the challenge on a spacewalk. Even though the nav sats were beyond repair, she knew just what needed to be replaced and would hit the ground running soon as they made landfall. Simon had saved another life, and furthermore had shut up talkin’ about stuff he didn’t know for once in his life. Jayne was alive, and already complaining that he didn’t need to be lying in the infirmary no more ’cause he felt fine and shiny—Mal figured most of the shiny ’d come from the happy drugs Simon had pumped into him. Which left Inara. Mal smiled and turned to knock on the shuttle door, and for once he wasn’t overburdened with problems or pickin’ a fight or nervous.
“Come in, Mal.”
Mal entered the shuttle, to find that Inara had draped a ridiculous tent-like hanging low over the bed.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“I liked Jayne’s idea. It’s a Sex Tent.”
They both burst into laughter. Mal clutched his sides, he was laughing so hard, and Inara gave a most un-ladylike snort and laughed until the tears streamed out of her eyes. They laughed so hard they had to clutch each other just to keep from falling over, and then they did fall over, right through the open door of the tent onto the mattress.
Zoe was headed down to the infirmary to keep Jayne company for a spell, and passed Kaylee and Simon on their way up from infirmary, near Inara’s shuttle. They could hear muffled joyous laughter through closed shuttle door.
“Haven’t heard the Captain laugh like that since…before Serenity Valley,” Zoe observed, thoughtfully.
“It’s about time he climbed out of that valley,” Simon said.
Kaylee answered, “And into another one,” and aimed her own dirty flirty look at Simon.
Zoe passed by the closed hatch to Kaylee’s bunk, on her way to her own bunk to retire for the night. The nightly symphony was underway, the usual noises issuing forth through the hatch with even more than the usual volume. It was gonna drive her crazy. She rolled her eyes, and said to herself, “Gotta get better sound-proofing on this boat.”
一起深呼吸 Yīqǐ shēn hūxī [Let’s take a deep breath]
该死 gāisǐ [dammit]
混蛋 húndàn [bastard]
Saturday, June 18, 2011 5:19 AM
Saturday, June 18, 2011 7:52 AM
Saturday, June 18, 2011 10:00 AM
Saturday, June 18, 2011 10:03 AM
Saturday, June 18, 2011 10:19 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 7:23 AM
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