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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal scopes out the bank, and Jayne meets an old friend
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1859 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
ONE MAN’S TRASH (08)
Follows SHADOW (07). Precedes BANDIAGARA (09).
The series so far:
A LION’S MOUTH (01)
ADVENTURES IN SITTING (02)
SPARKS FLY (03)
BREAK OUT (05)
THE TRIAL (06)
Mal scopes out the bank, and Jayne meets an old friend
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* * *
Mal detested banking machines. He detested banks as well. He actually did have a credit account, but he much preferred cash transactions. Kinda business he was in, would have preferred cash only, but there were times when credit was the only way. Credit transactions were risky. Credit transactions could be traced. The source of the funds could be tracked, time and place of withdrawal was recorded, and government-issued ID had to be presented to access the funds. It was like advertising to the Feds exactly where he was, exactly when he was there, and exactly what he was doing, and that sat all manner of uneasy on him. Mal always felt he might just as well jump up and down, wave his arms and yell, “Arrest me!” every time he accessed his credit account.
That had been the one downside of the meeting with Juju Kamara. When it came time for payment, she told him, “Captain, Sir Warwick has already transferred credit into your account, for the agreed upon amount. I sent him a signal as soon as I inspected the cattle. I shall ask him to send you a bonus on account of the remarkably healthy condition of the animals.” While the bonus was good news, the part about the credit account was not. Mal inwardly cursed Sir Warwick. Cash payment, sir—he mentally thundered at the magistrate—always pay cash for smuggled goods, unless you want the Alliance to track you down. He tried to keep a lid on his temper in front of the gracious Juju Kamara, but it was difficult. It was yet another item in the list of things Sir Warwick Harrow had done on this job to cause Mal unintentional hardship. At least he thought it was unintentional. But as he walked down the main street of town, he felt like he had a target painted on his back, and he wasn’t so sure about the magistrate’s intentions.
So it was with great misgivings that Mal strode up to the automatic teller machine in Central City, the dusty Beylix town nearest the best salvage yards, and placed his Ident Card in the slot. The machine purred to life, flashing a retinal scanner on him—gorram retinal, already felt like he was being booked for breaking the law—and demanded an access code. He entered it, leaving his fingerprints all over the machine for some lawman to discover and corroborate evidence of his nefarious presence in Central City, Beylix. He glanced up and down the street. Jayne loitered near the door to a saloon, while in the other direction Zoe appeared to be window shopping. No obvious threats and no Feds.
The machine blinked and whirred, and then shot him an unwelcome message: “No funds available for withdrawal.” 该死 Gāisǐ. Now he’d have to go into the bank.
He flicked another set of glances up and down the street to signal Zoe and Jayne, then stepped into the bank. He automatically noticed the security camera that tracked him as he divested himself of his sidearm, then the smaller gun he wore under his coat on the left-hand side, and then the concealed pocket pistol that he had carried on the job ever since Saffron had disarmed him and left him in the desert. He also removed his knife and placed all the objects in the checkbox, removing the claim chit and pocketing it. Then he entered the bank through the security scanner gate.
As he entered the lobby, he automatically registered the presence of two security guards (one monitoring the entrance security gate, looked at him with a bored expression when he entered, went back to his surreptitiously concealed reading material; the other, equally bored, monitoring a bank of security vid screens, from a position left of center) and scanned the room for security cameras (four of them, two that doubled as vid screens behind the tellers’ counter, two in each corner behind him as he entered, which left four more based on the guard’s vid bank—one clearly at the auto-teller outside, one in the vestibule, two more at locations not obvious from the lobby). 该死 Gāisǐ! What was wrong with him, that he couldn’t even walk into a bank to claim money he had legitimately earned without scoping out the place for a potential heist? Well, okay, maybe not completely legitimate—it was payment for a smuggled cargo, after all—but he had done the work. The thought flickered through his head of what his ma would think of her son walking into a bank and coolly assessing what it would take to rob the place. He was one twisted sumbitch.
“May I help you sir?” A voice startled him out of his thoughts.
“Uh, yeah, I uh, tried to make a withdrawal from my account with the auto-teller out there, and it didn’t work. Said there weren’t funds available or some such, but there should be, ’cause I expected a credit transfer should have gone through by now.”
He found himself seated across the desk from a junior manager, who asked for his account numbers and his Ident Card again, and worked the cortex screen on his behalf. “Well, Mr Reynolds,” she said, “there is a flag on your account.”
This was not good. Were the Feds watching his movements? Was this fall-out from his recent arrest on Persephone? Was this fall-out from Miranda? Or was it some other part of his past, finally catching up with him? “A flag?” he asked innocently. “What does that mean?”
“It means that the funds in your account cannot be withdrawn.”
“I gathered as much from that machine,” he said with a friendly smile, concealing his impatience. He didn’t need a person to repeat what the gorram machine had already told him. “Why not? The funds are there, aren’t they?”
“Yes, the funds are there. We have a transfer credited as of two p.m. yesterday.” Mal nodded. The manager confirmed the amount; at least Harrow had been as good as his word about the payment. “As for why, there are all kinds of reasons. How much did you attempt to withdraw?”
When Mal mentioned the amount, she said, “The auto-teller is programmed to deny any withdrawal over three hundred credits.”
“I’ll be needing a good deal more than that,” Mal responded. “This is a business account, and I got a ship that needs supplies and repairs.”
“I’ll try again,” she said, and Mal waited while she tapped away at the keyboard. “I’m sorry, sir,” she said at last. “The withdrawal has been denied again. The account is flagged.”
Mal exhaled. “Any idea why it’s flagged?” That crawly feeling was prickling his neck again, though he didn’t think this woman had anything to do with it; she was just the bearer of bad news.
“Could be—” she began. “Sir, there is no fixed address listed with your account. That could be the reason.”
“I live and work aboard my ship,” he answered. “The ship is my permanent address.” 哎呀 Āiyā. This was a problem he had encountered before. System didn’t take kindly to people whose permanent address was a spaceship with no regular route.
“The system doesn’t accommodate spaceships as addresses very well. Let me try to update it.” Mal gave her Serenity’s name and registration number, the crawly feeling increasing all the while. “Do you have any regular ports of call?” she asked.
Mal made it a point not to have regular ports of call, but he did in fact have three places that he used as mailing addresses when necessary, for example when he ordered ship parts that had to be delivered somewhere. One was a post office on Persephone, and the other two were postal stations on orbiting skyplexes in two different systems—one of them the place where he’d received the ill-fated crate containing Tracey’s body. He gave her that address.
“I’m sorry, Mr Reynolds, it won’t accept a ‘general delivery’ address. Do you keep a P.O. box somewhere?”
He definitely did not. A P.O. box was something registered, someplace that could be monitored, staked out. He relied on cultivating good personal relations with the postal clerks, who would remember him and hold packages sent to him general delivery until he could call for them. Funny, bills and overdraft notices seemed to reach him through general delivery readily enough. He briefly considered giving the address of Inara’s Companion Training House, care of Inara Serra—knew that the respectability of the Companion Guild would immediately resolve the problem, even if he didn’t live there any more than he lived on the skyplex near Silverhold—but it just felt wrong to him to involve Inara in this mess, especially without her permission.
He shook his head. “Is there any other reason for the flag?” he asked, looking at the manager with what he hoped was an open, honest expression.
Oh, those deep blue eyes, she thought. She knew he must be getting frustrated, but it didn’t make this 帅 shuài ship captain any less 帅 shuài. And he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. She redoubled her efforts. “Sometimes an account is flagged because it has fallen below the minimum balance.”
He gave a small chuckle. “I’d say that’s likely. Last few jobs have been hand-to-mouth. This is the first one in a while that’s paid well. That’s why I’m all the more in need of the funds.”
She wanted to help. She knew he would be bored, waiting for her to tap away at the screen, so she broke with company policy and angled the screen so that he could see it as she worked. The move also put her in closer proximity to her 帅 shuài customer. Maybe she could accidentally brush his knee. That’s how Mal happened to see the code that flashed on the screen as she uncovered the flag again. He took careful mental note of the number. Maybe he could find a way to look up the meaning of it.
She looked up at the 帅 shuài captain sitting next to her. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “That flag is court-ordered. I can’t tell you why it’s there, but it’s not something I can override.” 哎呀 Āiyā, she thought. Probably a deadbeat, failed to pay child support or something. Too bad, she thought, as she watched his handsome, athletic form retreat from the bank. There are other fish in the sea.
“No coin?” Zoe asked.
“None,” Mal confirmed.
“None at all?” Zoe asked again.
Mal looked sharply at Zoe. She didn’t need to be told twice. Something was on her mind. “What is it?” he asked.
“Need some new clothes, sir.”
“New clothes?” Mal echoed, astonished. “Never reckoned you for a fashion queen, Zoe. Your browncoat not good enough for you anymore?”
“It’s not that, sir. Nothing fits.” He was looking stupidly at her, so she spelled it out. “On account of the baby.”
“You don’t hardly look—” he began.
“Don’t matter how it looks,” she snapped, cutting him off. “It’s how it is. My pants don’t fit. My shirts don’t fit. I can’t borrow anything off any of the other women on this boat; they’re all smaller than I am anyway. Unless you want to see me in Wash’s tropical shirts and flight jumpsuit, I need to buy clothes.”
Mal nodded his understanding. “I’m truly sorry, Zoe. There’s plenty in the credit account, but it’s all locked up. Can’t get so much as a single platinum coin outta that 无用 wúyòng bank.”
“Any idea why?”
They had been walking up toward the bridge as they talked, and he answered as they entered. “Some one’s put a flag on the account. Court order. I got the ID code on it. River,” he said, turning to the pilot, “heard you’ve shown some skills in the hacking department. Think you can find out who ordered the lock-down on my credit account?” He handed River a slip on which he’d written the code.
“There is nothing left to see. He can find out,” River answered cryptically.
Mal stared a moment, trying to make sense of what she said. Gorrammit, wasn’t in the mood for conundrums. “Alright, I’ll take that to mean you’ll give it a shot. Right, Zoe, we gotta go meet Monty’s contact in town, see if we can get us a job.”
“Captain,” River tugged on his sleeve. Mal looked back at her. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” she pronounced with a serious look.
Mal pondered her words, irrelevant as they seemed. “I’ve heard that said, darlin’.” He didn’t see any connection with anything they’d been talking about.
“Think about it, Captain,” River said earnestly.
“Oh, I’m thinkin’,” Mal replied. Specifically, he was thinking, What the 地狱 dìyù?
“Not like that,” River snapped. “Don’t make faces. One man’s trash—”
“You just work on that ID code, sweetheart. I’ll mull it over in the back of my mind.” And collecting Zoe with his look, they walked off the bridge, off the ship, and into town.
“Thank you, 英俊的男人 yīngjùn de nánrén,” Kaylee said with a flirtatious smile, as she left the fourth salvage yard. Captain hadn’t given her a budget, but she knew she had to keep it as low as possible. Cap’n tried to hide it, but she’d seen the despair in his eyes as she mentioned the atmo feed and the navsat. She wasn’t privy to the amount the job had paid them, but she knew down to a platinum how much the parts were like to cost, and she knew pretty well what it cost to fuel the ship. She visited four salvage yards in succession, and knew which ones had which parts. She wasn’t shy about using her feminine charms—even though female mechanics weren’t a real rarity, most junkyard employees were male, and Kaylee wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity of flirting her way to a bargain. She was glad Simon had left her at the salvage yard on her own, ’cause she wouldn’t have dared flirt with the salvage boys this way if Simon were with her, and the prices woulda been a lot higher. It weren’t nothin’, just a little batting the eyelids and smilin’, and it worked, too, but she still felt a mite guilty playin’ that card when her heart belonged to Simon.
天啊 Tiān ā, she was tired. Usually, she was like a girl in a candy shop when she got to a salvage yard. She loved lookin’ at all the fine things, and imaginin’ what use she’d put them to when she got them aboard her girl Serenity. Maybe it was all that bargaining, and the not bein’ able to buy anything yet, but this time she was just plum tuckered out. She sat down in the shade on the main street of town, and waited for Simon and Inara to finish their shopping and join her.
Simon was dismayed by the prices. He knew the Captain would be receiving payment for the cattle shipment soon, but as was all too common lately, there seemed to be a shortage of ready money. Simon had a little pocket money saved up, and he determined to use it now, and replenish when the Captain’s funds came in. He purchased minimal amounts of topical anesthetic, weaves and bandages, as there was a frequent demand for these on Serenity, given the nature of their business. He also purchased a small stock of sterile saline, Ringer’s solution, and D5W—he did not dare run out of these items, you never knew when someone was going to get shot and need the fluids, and sad to say, gunshot wounds were among the most common injuries on Serenity. He had only a small amount of money left and was trying to decide between re-stocking the men’s contraceptives (which had been in higher demand lately) or buying a broad-spectrum antibiotic when he noticed something important.
“This antibiotic is nearly expired,” Simon pointed out to the pharmacist.
The pharmacist bustled over to the shelf where Simon stood, took a good look at the box, and swore a blue streak. Just what Simon was hoping to hear. Well, not hoping hoping (as the Shepherd would say)—but it played into his new plan.
“You won’t be able to sell this lot after tomorrow,” Simon pointed out in an annoyingly helpful voice. “It’s illegal to sell medications past their expiration date.”
“We got a whole crate of that in the storeroom,” the pharmacist complained with another round of curses. “All from the same lot. Gorram pharmaceutical company must have sent us their oldest stock. The shipment it came in on was delayed, too. Only had it on the shelf for a week, and now we’re gonna have to pitch the whole lot of it.” She rambled off into another round of sincere, if uncreative, cussing.
“I have a proposal to make,” Simon said.
Inara inspected the garment carefully. The fabric was of good quality. The colors were good. She held it up in front of her, and it was way too long. She took a moment to consider carefully if it was way too long enough, considering how much taller than she the intended recipient was. While she considered that question, she took in the style. Not her kind of thing, but perfect in its way. She hoped it would be acceptable to its recipient. It was so hard to shop for someone whose clothing choices were made deliberately, with such exacting specifications, yet someone who never spoke of fashion preferences, and kept them closed like a book. She also worried about the prospect of giving a gift to one who was unaccustomed to receiving—and had never received a gift from her.
On the other hand, it was absurdly easy to shop for someone whose taste in clothing had never been expressed, because the person in question was not yet born. One baby romper was just not enough. She selected another charming but practical outfit from the rack. And another. Luckily she had enough credits to afford them all.
The Captain had insisted that no one go into town on their own. He and Zoe then took off for town together on some business or other. Shortly after, Kaylee, Simon, and Inara walked into town in a group, headed for the salvage yards apparently, although what business a doctor and a Companion had at a salvage yard, Ip couldn’t imagine. He’d asked River if she’d like to go into town with him, and she lit up like the lanterns for the 灯篭流し Tōrō Nagashi at the end of 盆 Bon, which was a bit disconcerting in and of itself. But then she declared that she couldn’t. The Captain had given her an assignment, and she would stay with the ship. She told Ip the nature of the assignment, and when he understood she’d be using the ship’s cortex link, probably for hours, he knew he’d have to go into town. Which left Jayne. Ip wouldn’t have chosen Jayne for his companion. The man would no doubt protect him if need be—he was certainly well-armed—but Ip didn’t anticipate being mugged in broad daylight in the middle of the main street of Central City, Beylix, and he couldn’t imagine any other problem. Other than: where on this dusty planet would he find a public access cortex link? He didn’t think Jayne knew or cared, and he wished he could shake the man off and spend the afternoon without the pleasure of Jayne’s company.
Jayne knew there’d be trouble. Cap’n hadn’t managed to extract any coin from that 青蛙 乱伦的 qīngwā luànlúnde bank, even though he’d set in that place for the best part of an hour. Gorram waste of time. Except Jayne had scouted out two bars—the Friendly Inn and the Freight and Salvage—and a whorehouse from where he’d been loitering on guard duty, so he knew where to go soon as he had the coin. But that was the rub, weren’t it? No coin. No coin, no drinkin’. No coin, no trim. What was the use of a few days’ run planetside, when your pockets were empty? Cap’n better come up with something that paid, and fast, or the whole time on Beylix would be wasted. Just like Persephone.
Captain was gettin’ soft. That slave break-out on 泥球 Ní Qiú was good fun, but gorrammit, it hadn’t paid even a single platinum. Jayne had loved the recon, the scouting out escape routes, the look-out, the gorram break-out itself. But he figured the Captain had at least worked out some kinda re-ward from them Abolitionist people on Persephone to pay for the lark. It pissed Jayne right off, to get to Persephone and ’stead of gettin’ a re-ward, he got jail time. Even if it weren’t the worst jail he’d ever been in, an’ even though he got out with nothin’ added to his rap sheet, Cap’n had bungled it. Turned out the Cap’n had done it all for love, not money. Now weren’t that all manner of stupid? Always thought the Cap’n had more smarts than that. Not that it weren’t the right thing to do, breakin’ people out of slavery an’ all, just that he couldn’t afford to go around bein’ a hero for no pay.
They spent a few more days on Persephone after gettin’ outta jail, and there was plenty of bars and whorehouses right within spittin’ distance of the docks, and still he got no play. Cap’n had him humpin’ halfway across town and back on foot, just to visit some no-account Browncoat friend of his who wouldn’t know a payin’ job iff’n it came up and bit him on the 屁股 pìgu. Finally Cap’n coughed up some money an’ gave Jayne his pay, but then he worked him like a slave installing all that 狗屎 gǒushǐ in the cargo bay for the gorram cows. Jayne only got the one night out on the town, and they was parked on Persephone for near ten days. When he figured out he wasn’t gonna get but the one night, he sent most of his pay to his mother for little Mattie, and blew out all the rest of his money on a good time in the Dockside District. Ain’t nothin’ to spend the money on in space anyhow, and he figured he’d get another payday soon as they got to Beylix. Figured wrong, as it happened.
Yep, Beylix was gonna be trouble. Like right now, when he had to baby-sit Doc ’Noy-man instead of gettin’ himself a good drink at the Friendly Inn. Ah well. Not nobody said he couldn’t go window shoppin’ while he watched the Doc’s back. Now that there was a nice piece a’ 女人的屁股 nǚrén de pìgu walkin’ down the sidewalk towards them. Good healthy-lookin’ female, nice big titties. Pleasant face. Looked kinda familiar.
“Jayne Cobb! It’s you!” the woman hollered. She covered the last dozen yards at a run and threw herself into Jayne’s arms, covering his face with kisses.
该死 Gāisǐ [Damn]
该死 Gāisǐ [Damn it]
哎呀 Āiyā [Damn]
帅 shuài [cute]
哎呀 Āiyā [Dang]
无用 wúyòng [useless]
地狱 dìyù [hell]
英俊的男人 yīngjùn de nánrén [handsome man]
天啊 Tiān ā [God]
灯篭流し Tōrō Nagashi [lantern floating ceremony (Japanese)]
盆 Bon [A Buddhist observance honoring the spirits of the ancestors (Japanese)]
青蛙 乱伦的 qīngwā luànlúnde [frog fornicating]
泥球 Ní Qiú [name of a world]
屁股 pìgu [ass]
狗屎 gǒushǐ [crap]
女人的屁股 nǚrén de pìgu [ass (woman’s)]
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