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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - SUSPENSE
The cave becomes a lot smaller. Wash cooks up a plan. Jayne and River bond. Sort of.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 862 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal pushed his way through a crowd that was no longer quiet; some of the people had started yelling and shouting. They sounded angry, but he wasn't sure who exactly their anger was aimed at – if it was Kaylee or the jingchang meiyong de of a mayor. Whatever the case, he could feel there was a lot of tension on the rise and he needed to quell it before it escalated out of control.
He reached the front line just as Book did the same from the opposite side and Kaylee finally found her voice. "I only tried to help," she squeaked.
Wong wasn't listening. He was only steaming in his own rage, and he took another threatening step towards her. Mal stepped forward to intercept him and so did Book, while Simon had arrived and defiantly took up guard next to their young mechanic.
Wong shifted his attention to Mal now. "Why?" he screamed before the captain had a chance to say anything. "Why wouldn't you just leave us alone?"
"Oh, believe me, I've asked myself that question many a time," Mal replied. "If we had I'd be on my spaceship right now, sailin' through the Black without a worry. And you would all be dead."
The mayor was not impressed. "You killed them!" he shouted. "You made this happen!"
"We did not!" Mal yelled back, losing his last bit of patience. "She" – he gestured towards Kaylee who had gotten to her feet and sought protection closer to Simon – "tried to open the spillways to save your gorram lives. And she worked hard at it! She wouldn't give up, I had to pull her outta there."
Wong spun around to seek support from his people. "They're tellin' lies!"
Mal was ready to give the little weasel another piece of his mind, but Book gave him a look that urged him not to and he bit back his words and let the preacher speak instead.
"Please see reason," Book pleaded with the mayor. "Whatever your opinion is, it don't matter now. These are your people, they're grieving and they need your comfort and guidance, not you stirrin' up hostility."
The mayor only glared at him. "Shut up, preacher! If that's what you really are."
"I understand you're upset," Book continued, his voice impressively calm. "But we didn't make this happen. We just couldn't prevent it."
"So the fact that it broke just after you showed up was a rare coincidence?" Wong spat back.
Mal shook his head. Seeing as words seemed to have no effect whatsoever on this guy, he had a look at the rest of the people instead. Their facial expressions showed mostly confusion and reluctance, but anger graced more than a few of them now.
And the cave seemed like an even smaller place.
Wash held his breath until his vision swam, and then – as the moment of horror passed and was replaced by a moment of clarity – it dawned on him that he would have to rescue himself. There would be no time to wait for the others (and he didn't really know if they would come at all, did he?); whatever was holding this shuttle in its place was about to give in.
That meant he needed an escape plan and he looked around for something to inspire him, and his gaze eventually ended up on the pilot stick. Standing up he could reach it, even if it was upside down.
Could he fly to safety? Could it really be that simple?
Of course it couldn't!
It was probably one of the craziest ideas he had ever had, and even if it worked it meant he would have to conduct some of the craziest flying he had ever conducted, and that was saying something. So for a while he dismissed it.
But then another twig (or whatever) outside snapped and the shuttle tilted a little further, and he knew he was out of options.
"Well, Wash," he told himself. "You're always boasting 'bout how you can fly this thing in your sleep. I'm sure flying it upside down will be a cinch."
He closed his eyes, cursing under his breath. Renci de Fozu, he was gonna die! But at least this way he would die flying.
Jayne waited for a pause in the rattling sound of guns being fired, and every time it happened he jumped to his feet to send a hail of bullets back at his opponents. Well, jumped was an exaggeration; it was more like hoisting himself up into a semi-standing position, and then trying to keep his balance on one foot, leaning against the banister as he fired his rifle. It wasn't very effective and he never managed to fire that many rounds before he had to plop down behind the crate again. So far he hadn't hit any of the rutting lowlifes (or at least he hadn't heard any screaming that suggested he had). It was frustrating and tiring, and he yelled out in irritation as he dove (or rather fell) for cover for the umpteenth time.
Then he yelled out in surprise.
Because River was there.
He hadn't heard her arrive but she was suddenly right next to him, hunkered down and her eyes all wide and attentive.
"Jesus!" he exclaimed and after a couple of seconds to get his bearings, he added with a hiss, "What the hell? Whatta ya doin' here? I told ya to stay in the galley!"
She only cast him a short glance and then popped her head around him and the corner of the crate to access the situation in the bay below.
"Get back here!" he said and physically pulled her down behind the crate again. "And get back to the kitchen. If sumthin' happens to you your ruttin' brother will… Well, he can't kill me, 'cause the cap'n already has 'cause I lost the cargo. But he can desecrate my body! Yeah, that's what he'll do. Cut me open like a gorram Reaver…"
"Too much cover," she simply stated.
"Oh, you think?" he replied sarcastically, realizing she meant the men in the cargo bay. "Without it I'd've offed them by now."
"Must lure them out. Need diversion."
He stuck to the sarcasm. "Yeah, I tried tellin' 'em to come out and take a look at the nekkid lady. Didn't help." And then he suddenly realized what she was getting at, and he snapped his head back towards her. "Oh, hell no, you ain't even thinkin' that!"
For a short moment a mask of peace and calmness fell across her face, and there was a new shimmer in her eyes as they met his and a subtle smile lurking in the corner of her mouth. "The eagle can't fly," she said. "She can."
And before he could stop her, she jumped to her feet and ran down the gallery alongside the room. The men in the bay shouted and fired their guns, and Jayne watched – first in horror and then in amazement – how she dodged the bullets by leaping into the air like a wildcat and flipping her body one-eighty degrees midway through the jump.
She landed softly on her bare feet and reached a spot of temporary cover near the other side of the bay unscathed. And then Jayne remembered why she was doing this, and he scrambled back up on his uninjured leg to use the distraction she was providing to its full advantage.
"He's got a point," somebody said. "It is a little strange that it should happen just now."
Others muttered their agreement. "Why couldn't she open the spillways?" one asked.
Kaylee heard the question. "I think they were rusted shut," she answered. Her voice trembled. "But I tried, I really, really did. You must believe me." Tears welled up in her eyes. "I sure wish I could've helped you."
Simon put his hand on her shoulder to steady and console her, while he scanned the crowd moving in on them, keeping a sharp lookout for trouble. The mayor scared him, even from this distance the doctor could see that his pupils were dilated. This was a man completely out of his mind.
"You killed them!" he repeated. "You killed them all!"
"No," Kaylee sobbed.
Simon pulled her closer and glared at the old man. "You're a lunatic," he simply stated.
And then everything happened at once: several people started shouting, there was some pushing and shoving in the crowd, and for a moment Simon was really worried that things would get violent.
"For heaven's sake!" Book exclaimed.
"My wife!" screamed Wong. "My sons and my grandchildren! All gone!"
The sudden sound of a gunshot shattered the air, and people screamed and hunkered down covering their heads as bits and pieces from the stone ceiling overhead rained down on them.
With River moving about the cargo bay like a shadow, popping up here and there, creating confusion, the three miscreants hiding among the crates now had to split their attention between her and Jayne, and that gave the mercenary the room he needed to make up for his diminished maneuverability. He changed his position and moved a little further down the gallery. There he let the muzzle of his rifle rest on the banister to steady it, and simply waited for his chance.
The girl was impossible to keep track of. One moment she was balancing on the railings or tiptoeing lightly among the cargo below, the next she seemed to just disappear into thin air. Mostly they only heard her; she was constantly humming the tune of some old folk song.
"Come out!" the men had started shouting. "Show yourself, you freak!"
Somewhere River was laughing, and Jayne almost snickered a little to himself. He knew very well, by firsthand experience, how annoyed these men had to be by now.
And one of them actually took the bait. "I'll getcha, you hear?" he shouted as he popped up from behind one of the crates. "And I'ma rape you so hard that you…"
He never got to finish, because he stepped right into Jayne's scope and his body was ripped apart by a hail of bullets. His companions cried out in anger, but up on the gallery Jayne grinned to himself as he dropped down to reload.
One down, two to go.
The crowd scattered and revealed Zoë standing there, still pointing her newly fired shotgun at the roof. Her eyes were flaming with anger as she pierced the mayor with her death-defying glare.
"And my husband!" she sneered. "D'you really think we'd drop all that water on our own people? Cut ourselves off from our ship on purpose? For what? Ain't nothin' here worth havin'."
She let her gaze sweep across the room, searching for someone daring to challenge her. No one did. Even Wong seemed afraid of her as she let her eyes come to a rest on him once again. "The Alliance did this to you, to us. I won't have you blamin' Kaylee. Put the blame where it belongs."
For a moment it seemed like everything would quiet down. Nobody spoke, several shoulders slumped, and a few people warily started walking away. Zoë uncocked her gun and dropped the arm holding it, then made half a turn as if to leave.
Mal was about to say something when Mayor Wong suddenly screamed like a raving madman. "Kill them! Kill them!"
Somehow he had gotten his hands on a knife and he held up as he ran towards Kaylee and Simon, who both flinched at the sudden attack.
"They must die!" Wong yelled, and Mal reached for his gun, but then another shot rang out and the mayor's body jerked and fell forward and landed on the stone floor, stone dead.
People screamed and gasped, and Mal spun around to look at Zoë, but she clearly wasn't the one who had fired the shot. Instead she was looking at Torsten who stood there in front of the crowd, with his still smoking rifle in his hands.
First he only stared at the body with an expressionless face, but then he straightened his back and addressed his people. "He tried to divide us, to sow seeds of mistrust and hate. It's the last thing we need right now." His eyes met Mal's. "We're sorry."
"As far as I see it he only spoke for himself," Mal replied and received a nod of gratitude in return.
Then Torsten turned his gaze towards Book, and for a while the two men only stood there looking at each other. The preacher's face was a mixture of sadness and sympathy but he said nothing, and in the end Torsten just dropped his weapon and walked away.
Jayne had no idea where River was at this point, and obviously neither did the man he was aiming at. He was moving from one sheltered spot behind a crate to another, clearly searching for the girl, and Jayne had followed his every move through the scope of his rifle for a while now, waiting for the clear shot, just like he'd done with the first one.
"Can't catch her," River's voice giggled somewhere, but the sound echoed off the steel walls and made it impossible to pinpoint exactly from where it originated. But it did the trick and it provoked the fool just enough for him to venture just a little too far out into the open.
It took only a single shot to the head to bring him down.
There was no time to celebrate that second kill. Rifle at the ready, Jayne looked around, searching the bay high and low. He still couldn't see River anywhere, and only now did he realize that he had also lost sight of the third guy.
Bending down he picked up one of his crutches, and with the help of that and the banister he carefully made his way down the gallery, still scanning the room for any movement.
Everything was quiet for a while; Jayne only heard his own heavy breathing – and for a short glorious moment he dared hope that the last thief had decided to make a run for it. But then he heard someone step out unto the gallery behind him, and by the sound it made he knew he wasn't River.
It actually annoyed him more than it frightened him.
He spun around, raising his weapon, even though he knew it was too late; he wouldn't be fast enough. And a shot rang out, and his rifle and his crutch went clattering to the floor.
Sunday, January 1, 2012 3:26 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012 10:10 AM
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