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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - SUSPENSE
The crew must help the Shahadevans deal with the immediate threat. Meanwhile Jayne and River are left alone guarding Serenity.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 584 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
"We have to help!"
"You said so already."
Back inside Torsten's living room the tension ran high. Mal and Shepherd Book weren't exactly fighting, but they stood on opposite sides of the eating table glaring and throwing loaded comments at each other. They had both stayed quiet during the drive back down from the dam, the preacher had only sent the captain a couple of significant glances, but now as Torsten had left them to gather the town's council he wasn't afraid to voice his opinions.
Mal gestured with his arms and added, "What do you want me to do, preacher? I can't stop the force of nature. It's the guy upstairs you should be talkin' to."
"You could help evacuate these people. We could load up Serenity…"
"Serenity already has cargo. Which we are to deliver in two days."
"You can't honestly mean your job is more important…"
"I never said that!" Mal interrupted. "But no one has asked for our help."
"They have to ask?"
Zoë was about to open her mouth to tell them both to simmer down a little, when she heard the sound of someone stepping up to the door and turned to see if Torsten was returning. Instead it was Kaylee and Wash who entered the room, both looking happy and pleased. The girl, Dicte, was not with them.
"Hey, y'all," Kaylee smiled. "Good news, Cap, I found everything I needed and more. We can…" She frowned as she seemed to sense the changed atmosphere in the room. "What is it? What's happenin'?"
Mal looked at her. "You ready to start repairs?"
"Right away, sir." Her eyes flickered from him to the preacher. "What is it?" she repeated.
Mal turned to gaze at the shepherd again, daring him to open his mouth. "We… There's been a change of plans."
"So you will help them?" Book asked.
Mal didn't reply. Kaylee and Wash only looked even more lost and confused.
It took a little explaining, but it wasn't long before the two of them were fully brought up to date on the new developments. Kaylee paled and immediately agreed with the shepherd. "We have to help them."
"First of all we need to fix our ship," Mal said.
"Yeah," Wash nodded. "Right now we're in harm's way too."
"And then," Mal sighed, "we'll see."
Again Zoë heard the sound of feet approaching and this time it really was Torsten. He looked worried as he stepped inside and addressed Book. "The council would like to see you, Shepherd."
Book nodded and cast another daring glance at the captain, making it clear that he would not be stopped. Mal didn't even try. "We're coming too," was all he said.
They all hurried through the rain to a larger building near the center of the town. Torsten's daughter was waiting just inside the door and anxiously looked at her father as they arrived. "Daddy?" she said, and Torsten grasped her hand as he walked by, but his body language clearly stated that this was not the time for her to ask questions. Zoë offered her a reassuring smile that didn't seem to help much.
They entered a big room that clearly served as the city hall. There was some sort of platform or stage at the far end and several rows of seats leading up to it. Here too the windows were all barred, but several lamps hanging from the ceiling did a good job lighting up the place. About thirty people were present, most of them scattered in small groups across the room, but five men and two women were standing right in front of the stage. They were in the middle of a heated discussion, but stopped when they spotted the new arrivals.
"This is the council," Torsten introduced them.
One of them, an elderly man of Asian origin stepped forward. "Are you the one?" he asked Book.
"I am the one warning you, if that's what you're asking," the preacher replied.
"Let's hear what you have to say, then."
There was something almost hostile in the man's voice, Zoë thought, and he was eyeing the shepherd with great suspicion and impatience. But Book wasn't one easily intimidated. He looked back with a stern and serious face while he calmly told them about his concerns about the dam.
He received mixed receptions. Some of the people in the room cried out in surprise and fear; others, like the old Asian, reacted with aggression. The rest only seemed confused, looking from their leaders to Book and back again.
"You are a shepherd," the Asian man stated. "Not a dam builder, nor an engineer. Why should we believe you?"
"Why should you not?" Book retorted. "Please, you must listen to me, Mr…?"
"Alfred Wong. I'm the mayor."
"Tell me, Mr Wong, why would I possibly lie about such a thing?"
Wong didn't answer, his eyes only narrowed further as he studied the preacher. Torsten took a step forward. "Yes, Mayor, why would they? He might be a shepherd, but he certainly seems to know a lot more about this dam than any of us."
"The dam has been standing unattended through eight rainy seasons," one of the women in the council said. "There's no reason to believe it will break now."
"Each year the damage grows bigger." Book's voice was strained now. He was losing his patience. "Believe me, it will not hold!"
"We must evacuate the town," Torsten added.
"And where would we go?" another member of the council asked.
"The caves in the hills," Torsten replied. "If we bring food…"
"Enough!" the mayor's voice boomed. "This is nonsense. You expect us to live in caves on the word of a wayward shepherd?" His gaze drifted from Book to the rest of the Serenity party and they rested for a particular long while on Mal. "Look at these types," he eventually said, addressing his fellow council members.
"What's that suppose to mean?" Mal asked him. There was a hint of contained aggression in his voice, and Zoë felt herself tense up, sensing there was action a-brewing.
"You look like nothing but scavengers to me," Wong snarled. "Thought you could lure us away from our town so you could empty it for all its valuables? Clever, and a lot less bloody than killing all of us, I'll give you that."
Behind Zoë, Kaylee gasped and Wash huffed. Mal's eyes narrowed and his voice was filled with venom as he spoke. "Listen, Mayor, my crew and I only landed on your sorry little rock 'cause our engine needed fixin'. We thought we'd do the right thing and warn you good folks about your impending doom, but hey, we got what we came here for, so if you don't want our help, we'll be on our merry way."
"Good." Wong's voice was icy cold. "We'll let you leave then." And with that he turned and left the room, the council in tow.
The rest of the people in the room hesitantly looked at Mal with wide and worried eyes, as if waiting for him to make the next move. He said nothing, just turned to leave, gesturing his crew to follow him.
"We cannot just leave them!" Book protested.
"These people made it pretty clear they don't want our help," Mal replied.
"Some of us do." Dicte had stepped forward and she looked at the captain with determination.
"Dicte," Torsten scolded.
"But we do, Daddy," she said, never taking her eyes of Mal. "The mayor's wrong, like he mostly is. If you can offer us any assistance, Captain Reynolds, many people here will gladly accept it."
Mal opened his mouth to answer, but closed it again without saying anything. Book stepped closer, urging him, "They invited us into their home, shared their food with us, gave you the parts you needed for your engine…"
The captain waved him off and looked at Torsten. "Are you asking for my help?"
Torsten hesitated a little, but then he nodded. "I am."
Mal made a poor attempt at suppressing a sigh. "How many people live here?"
"About two thousand."
Zoë heard Wash whistle behind her and she silently agreed with him.
"And how many will follow you?" Mal asked.
"It's hard to tell. But I would guess at least half of them."
"Wong is only popular among the people stupid enough to actually vote for him," Dicte added.
"That's enough, daughter!" Torsten cut her off.
Everything was quiet for a moment while Mal appeared to be carefully weighing his options. "Alright," he said. "We will head back to our ship now, fix what needs fixin'. Then we'll come back and see what we can do for you."
"We appreciate it, Captain." The relief was evident in Torsten's voice.
"In the meantime you must load your trucks with food and other necessities, but only take what you really need. Gather the people willing to evacuate. Everyone able to walk should start walking. We'll help the rest."
Torsten nodded, and he and his daughter and several of the other people in the room all hurried away to get ready. Book looked pleased and he offered Mal a smile. "It is the decent thing to do," he said.
"Yeah," Mal mumbled. "But even you should have learned by now that us playing good Samaritans don't usually end well."
They didn't talk much during the trek back to the ship. None of them felt a particular need to communicate as they hauled the heavy engine parts Kaylee had found and wiped the relentless water from their eyes. It wasn't until Wash opened the cargo bay doors and they finally got out of the rain, that they took a moment to catch their breath and gather their senses.
"Okay, Kaylee, you best get started," Mal eventually said, mild but determined. "We need to move the boat up into the hills."
The shepherd was about to say something, but just then Jayne hollered at them as he came down the stairs from the bridge on crutches. Despite his broken leg he was impressively mobile; he even managed the ladder to his bunk without assistance, though not particularly gracefully. But then again, graceful was not a word Mal would ever use to describe his mercenary. "We got what we needed?" he asked. "We gettin' off this gorram rock?"
"Yes, and no," Mal replied.
The Tams came through the door leading to the commons and judging by the puzzled look on Simon's face they had heard the exchange of words.
"There's some people we need to help first," Mal said, quite unenthusiastically, and left it to the others to further explain what he meant by that.
"There'll be old and frail people among them," Book added, eyeing Simon, as he finished the tale.
"I'll come along and see what I can do to help," the doctor immediately offered. This was obviously the reaction the preacher had hoped for, because he smiled and gave the young man a pat on the back.
Jayne's face, on the other hand, was one big frown. "You're gonna fly two thousand people to safety?" he repeated. "For free?"
"Yes, Jayne," Mal sighed tiredly.
"Out of the goodness of our hearts," Mal muttered.
"If we used Serenity…," Book began.
"I won't have passengers crawlin' a top of this cargo!" the captain interrupted, glaring at him. "We're not usin' the boat and that's final!" He looked around, eyeing each of the others in turn. "We'll use the shuttles."
"They'll be easier to maneuver in this weather anyway," Wash added helpfully.
"How many people can the shuttles take?" Book asked.
"Well, they're built to safely carry four passengers," Wash replied. "But if we cram people in tight enough… maybe fifteen?"
The shepherd was already doing the math. "Fifteen per shuttle, that's thirty per trip. Maybe two thousand people… That'll be…"
"Sixty-seven trips, give or take," Simon finished.
"That's a lot of trips," Wash mumbled.
"Best get started then," Zoë said in a way that made it clear to everyone that this discussion was over. She knew better than any of them that nothing would make the captain change his mind.
"Shuttles it is," Mal declared. "Wash and I will pilot one each. Book, Doctor, you'll assist the locals however you can. Kaylee, I'm gonna drop you and Zoë off at the dam. I want you to see what you can do to get those spillways open."
"Jayne, you'll stay here. You guard my ship and the cargo. You should be able to, even in your condition."
"You got it."
Mal nodded and turned to the last member of his crew. "River…"
"I know," she replied flatly. "I'll guard Jayne."
Jayne stared at her. "What?"
Mal tried hard not to smile. "Precisely," he said.
Jayne spun around to stare at him instead. "What you mean? She's stayin' too?"
Simon looked positively horrified. "I don't know… River…"
"Look," Mal said. "There'll be chaos out there; horrible weather, big crowds, panic, possibly a riot. I can't have your sister there distracting you. Don't worry, it's only for a few hours." He turned to glare at Jayne, adding, "He won't touch her."
"'Course I won't!" Jayne exclaimed, sounding offended, and then added under his breath, almost inaudible, "She saved my life."
"What was that?" the captain asked.
"Nuthin'," the merc muttered, but then he spoke up, "But if she tries to kill me again, I'm killin' her right back!"
"I guess that's only fair," Mal said and turned to the others. "Come on, people, let's get to work."
Kaylee didn't need much time to perform another of her many miracles and fix the engine, and not more than an hour later Wash had flown the ship into the mountains and parked it on a plateau, snuggled in between two large rocks. It was probably the safest place to be right now, Simon thought to himself as he packed his medical equipment, but he still didn't like the idea of leaving his sister there.
She was standing in the infirmary door, silently watching him as he finished his packing and turned to smile reassuringly at her. "I won't be gone long."
"The water will come," she said, her eyes all serious but otherwise expressionless.
"You'll be safe here," he assured her. "And I'll be careful, I promise."
He picked up his bag and stepped out of the infirmary, and he gave her a hug as he passed her. "You take good care of Jayne now," he said. "He's not allowed to put any weight on his leg, so no walking on the cast, okay?"
She nodded, still dead serious. "Okay."
"See you soon, mei mei."
And then he took a deep breath and headed for the shuttle.
Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:52 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012 9:36 AM
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