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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - SUSPENSE
The crew races against time to save as many as possible, but not everybody wants to be saved. Jayne does some pondering.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 592 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Wash dropped Simon and Book off at a landing pad just outside the settlement. The man named Torsten was already gathering those who were ready, willing and able to evacuate there, and so far things seemed to be running in an orderly fashion. There were small signs of panic now and then, but most of the time people were impressively calm and collected. Simon guessed that living in this kind of environment would have that effect on you.
As soon as Book had introduced him, Torsten called for his daughter and told her to show Simon the clinic, and Dicte took him to a building at the outskirts of town where the old and sick were all gathered. There was no doctor, there hadn't been since the Alliance left eight years ago, Dicte told him, only a nurse, who – as far as Simon could tell after he'd walked around the clinic and gotten a first impression of the place – had done a great job with what little supplies she had on hand.
Hilda, as she was called, was thrilled to see Simon, though. "I have been begging them to send a physician for years," she said as she showed him around. "But all they send is the occasional shipment of antibiotics, vitamins and band-aids, and even those don't come as often as they should. So believe me, a ship's medic is the best thing that's happened to this place in a long time."
"Actually I'm an academically trained trauma surgeon," Simon pointed out. He had no idea why, really, and he regretted it almost instantly. Like there was anything wrong with being a ship's medic…
"Really?" She sounded surprised. "And you work on a cargo ship?"
He avoided looking at her as he replied. "Uh, yes, I… uh, I wanted to see the 'verse."
There was suddenly a whole new admiration in her eyes. "You chose to help people out here on the frontier instead of good pay and a life in luxury back in the Core. That's amazing."
He could have died. Instead he just smiled weakly at her.
"Anyway, I'm glad to have you," she said and patted his arm.
He managed to pull himself together and nodded. "I'll have a look at the patients now. See who's safe to move and who needs to be stabilized first. But they should all be prepped for evacuation as quick as possible."
"I'll help," Dicte offered. She had been walking a short step behind them the whole time, but hadn't raised her voice until now.
"Thank you," he said with a nod in her direction and rolled up his sleeves. "Let's get started."
A few hours later Simon learned that not everybody in town welcomed him. He was still busy conducting his triage, when the doors to the main dormitory flew open and an older Asian man stomped in, followed by several other angry-looking people. Simon was about to adjust the flow on one of the IV bags and was completely caught off guard when the old man grabbed him and shoved him into the wall. "You get away from them!" he snarled.
Simon's surprise and fear was soon replaced by anger. He hated it when people tried to keep him from helping others. He hated the lack of empathy.
"Look!" he spat out as he pried the man's hands away from his body. "I'm only trying to help. I'm a doctor."
"This is our town. You cannot force us out of it!"
"I'm not forcing anyone," Simon replied, still swatting at the man. "I'm just helping the sick."
"Let him go, Mayor!" Dicte cried.
"Shut your mouth, girl!" The mayor glanced around the room, eyeing the people there. "You're just gonna listen to these strangers 'cause this one's putting band-aids on your boo boos?"
"He's helped us a lot more than you ever have!" Dicte shouted back. "You're supposed to be our leader and yet you only lead us to our deaths, 'cause you're too stubborn or maybe too stupid to recognize a helping hand when you're offered one!"
The mayor spun around and glared knives at the young woman, who to her credit didn't even flinch. "I told you to shut up!" He took a threatening step towards her.
"That's quite enough!" Book was suddenly in the room and he stepped in between the mayor and Dicte, staring the old man down. "The only one doing any forcing here now, is you, Mr Wong. You might be the mayor but you don't own these people. They're free to go if they choose to."
Wong appeared to be weighing his options for a few moments, but then he just straightened and his face turned into a mask of arrogance. "Fine. But they can forget about ever coming back. They can stay and rot in those caves."
He abruptly turned and walked out the room in the same manner as he had arrived, and his men followed him. Book sighed and turned to Simon. "You okay?"
Simon nodded. "Hundan," he muttered.
"Yeah," Book agreed. "He's been giving Mal and Wash a hard time too, out on the landing pad. It's a miracle there hasn't been any violence yet. But even though he's slowed us down a little, he hasn't been able to stop us. The evacuation is well underway."
"Good. We're just about to finish up here. The last batch will be ready to leave soon."
"You should go with them, then," Book said. "We can drop you off at the ship now that your job is done."
Simon hesitated. "Actually, I think I should come with them to the caves, just for a little while. Some of these patients still need doctoring."
Book smiled a little. "I thought you were kinda anxious to get back to your sister."
Simon met his eyes and knew what the man was thinking. "I'm sure she'll be fine," he mumbled.
The shepherd said nothing, just kept smiling and patted him on the back as he left.
Jayne was in the cargo bay doing pull-ups. He wouldn't let a broken leg keep him away from his workout; he'd already lost more than enough muscle tone after being bedridden for nearly two weeks, and he had been busy rebuilding it as soon as Simon would let him (or maybe even a little before that).
It was quiet on the ship without the others around, and Jayne wasn't a particular big fan of downtime because it made him think too much. Normally nobody would accuse him of being a pensive person, but he did have a lot on his mind these days, and he hated it.
Things had changed. Ever since New Lafayette they hadn't been the same. And he wasn't quite sure whether he liked those changes or not.
He couldn't seem to be able to shake the memories of hands. Hands that had wrapped him in blankets when he was cold, and then later when he was too hot, pulled the blankets off again and washed his skin with cool water. Hands that had pinched him with needles, but only to take the pain away.
Nobody had ever nursed him back to health before, except for his mother when he'd been down with the measles once as a child. In all the crews and gangs he'd ever run with nobody cared if you got sick or injured; you licked your own wounds and you either made it or you didn't, and if you slowed them down they left you.
But not this crew. They had come for him, taken him back to the ship, treated his injuries, put him to bed and stayed with him. Mostly Simon and Shepherd Book, but they had all been there at some point or another, Jayne was pretty sure about that.
And he didn't really know what to think of it.
It made him feel good, of course; there was a warm sensation spreading in his stomach whenever he relived those memories. But it also made him feel like he owed them something, like there was something he needed to prove now. And that was quite a stressful thought, to be honest.
He sat down at the weight bench, pausing a little to wipe his face, and his eyes wandered to River. She was in the bay with him, she had stayed close by him ever since the others left, not really bothering him though. She hadn't spoken a word, not stared at him with that creepy I-can-read-your-mind-and-know-all-your-dirty-secrets-look, just stayed in relatively close proximity minding her own business, whatever it was.
Now, for instance, she was slowly moving about the room, studying every object as if seeing them for first time. She stopped by the burnt-out, charred mule and tapped it with her index finger. Jayne shook his head and swallowed a mouthful of water. That mule was useless now; they really should buy a new one.
He snorted out loud. Yeah, buy a new one. With what? They weren't exactly swimming in coin these days. That's why they had stayed on Boros for so long, because there wasn't even enough money to fill the tanks. Mal had spent it all.
On medicine for him. Jayne was well aware of it. It was Kaylee who'd finally let it slip. She'd also told him that the captain had sought out Rufus Miller in Kuikui to confront him and then blown his brains out (as if he had one) when that gorram idiot had reached for his gun.
He guessed on one hand he really shouldn't be surprised. He'd seen what lengths Mal was willing to go to when it came to protect and help his crew. The captain would do anything for Zoë and Kaylee and Wash and Inara, hell, even for the Tams and the shepherd. It had just never occurred to him that he'd do it for him as well, and just like the memories of nursing hands, the realization that he actually had was a little… disturbing. Whatever the case, Mal had never mentioned the incident and Jayne hadn't either and he was quite happy with keeping it that way.
Outside it kept on raining. Jayne had opened the cargo doors halfway to let in some air, and the thundering sound of water pouring down on the hull nearly drowned out everything else. River had stopped in front of the doors now, gazing upwards and out, and then she suddenly started swaying from side to side.
Jayne frowned. What was this now? He watched as she twirled around, a small smile on her face and her eyes closed. "What are you doing?" he asked and had to shout to be heard.
"I'm dancing," she replied. "Dancing to the music."
He listened. Except for the rain he heard nothing. "What music?"
"The music in the rain." She started humming.
He rolled his eyes, but managed to quell the urge to throw her a nasty remark. He picked up one of his dumbbells to continue his workout.
"Rain," she singsonged. "Rhymes with Jayne."
Again he bit back a snappy comment, and wondered if the doctor was coming back soon.
Kaylee was getting desperate. It was morning now and she'd spent the whole night inside the dam's old, abandoned operation center, next to a big and dusty console, tapping at computers, tinkering with engines, unplugging and replugging wires, and she still hadn't been able to fix it. It was easy enough to understand how the gorram thing worked, she just couldn't get it to do what she wanted it to.
She heard the sound of static and a muttered curse behind her and turned to see Zoë enter the room with the radio receiver in her hand. "Still no reception?" she asked.
Zoë shook her head. "Must be the weather. Any luck?"
"No," Kaylee sighed with a disapproving frown. "Don't think the problem's mechanical, though. It's more like the spillways have gotten stuck somehow, 'cause of the lack of maintenance, I guess."
"Maybe the pressure's just too great?" Zoë suggested. She smiled mildly at her. "Don't worry, Kaylee. People here have been trying to fix this thing for years; no one demands a miracle from you. You've done your best."
"Oh, I ain't given up yet."
She squatted down beside the console and went back to her work, and just then they heard footsteps in the hallway. "You in here, ladies?" Mal's voice called out.
"Here," Zoë hollered and the captain poked his head inside the door.
"How's it goin'?" he asked.
"No luck yet," Zoë replied.
Kaylee looked at him over her shoulder. "Sorry, Cap."
"No worries," he said. "We're all done with the evacs."
Zoë raised her eyebrows. "Already?"
"Yeah." His face darkened. "Only a thousand or so wanted to come."
Kaylee stared at him. "You mean to tell me half the town's still down there?"
"Yup. Inbred morons."
"Okay, now I gotta fix this thing."
"No!" she snapped. "They'll all die if…" The rest of the words trailed away as she frantically tugged at the wires in another desperate attempt at getting the control panel to obey her.
Behind her Mal and Zoë continued their conversation. "I dropped Book and the doctor off at the caves," the captain said. "Wash is in town collecting the last of the supplies. I tried to radio you."
"Yeah, they're down," Zoë said.
"I realized. Couldn't reach the ship either."
"I'm sure they're okay."
"Yeah, and we're headin' back soon anyway. Just gotta…"
A low rumble followed by a loud squeaking sound made him stop dead in the middle of the sentence. "What was that?"
Kaylee glanced back at him again. "Oh, it's been doing that now and then."
Another rumble and another ear-piercing sound of grinding metal, and then the ground started shaking. "Not this loud, though," Kaylee added hesitantly.
Mal and Zoë rushed to the window and looked outside. "It's happening!" the captain yelled. "Come on!"
"No," Kaylee muttered and turned back towards the heap of wires she'd tried to make sense of.
The earth shook again, more violently. "Kaylee!" Mal yelled.
"There's a thousand people gonna die!" Kaylee shouted back. "I can't let them!"
His hands grabbed her, pulling her to her feet. "It's too late! Come on!"
Zoë led the way out of the building, Mal was right on her heels, dragging Kaylee along. The sound emitting from the dam was deafening now, as if the whole concrete construction was crying out in pain. The ground continued to shake and suddenly it started cracking, leaving a wide crevice in front of them. Kaylee didn't even have time to think before Mal more or less had thrown her across it and then jumped after her, pulling her back up. "Move! It's taking this cliff along with it!"
She scrambled along, heart pounding in her chest, adrenaline rushing through her veins, until the captain suddenly stopped and she realized they were out of harm's way. She turned back and was treated to the horrible sights before her. The dam broke in several places at once, with water shooting out of the growing cracks, and then it started crumbling.
And then Kaylee spotted the shuttle Mal had arrived in. It was parked only a few yards away from them, but where the ground had once been solid, it too was crumbling away now, and when the dam finally gave in and the water tumbled down the valley, it took the cliff and the operation center along with it. The shuttle, now suddenly at the very edge, balanced there for a few long moments before it fell into the roaring, white-foamed water and disappeared.
"No, no, no!" Mal yelled, and Kaylee caught herself wondering about something so trivial as how they were going to get back home to the ship, now when they were trapped on the wrong side of the river with no means of crossing it. Then she remembered that there was another shuttle, and then the full realization hit her and an icy cold knot appeared in her stomach.
'Wash is in town collecting the last of the supplies.'
Her head snapped up, looking at Zoë, and she knew the first mate had come to the same conclusion. She stared out into the rain, her eyes desperately searching, but there wasn't much to see and nothing that could be done. All they could do was listen.
And the ground shook and the water roared past them, engulfing the valley, the town, close to a thousand souls, the last shuttle – and Wash.
Back on Serenity River screamed.
Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:04 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012 9:44 AM
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