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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne has a close encounter with the slavers' ship, Mal converses with Cutter McCoy, and River does her thing.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1632 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Using his feet on the rock of the overhang to slow his descent, Jayne lowered himself down towards the Barracuda. The pop of a rifle behind and below him showed Indigo was watching his back, although it wasn’t likely to be long until the bad guys got tired of being picked off.
A shout made him glance down. Someone had seen him, and in the flash of movement he knew that same someone was bringing a rifle to bear on him. He bent his legs and pushed off from the ledge, dropping ten feet at the same time, but Indigo had seen. The rifle popped again and the scream indicated Indigo had been accurate. Still, it also indicated there wasn’t any time left.
He’d spent a hurried two minutes before starting this escapade to jury-rig three grenades into a single unit, and now he pulled them from the improvised sling around his chest, twisting the detonator of the first with his teeth. There was a hum, growing louder with each heartbeat, and he tossed it towards the top engine port of the Barracuda. Barely waiting long enough to see it slide inside, he began to climb back up the line as fast as he could, quickly reaching the overhang so he could use his feet, but it still wasn’t fast enough.
The explosion that shredded the Barracuda’s engine intake seemed to rattle the air, the shockwave pulsing through the rock and knocking him sideways to slam into the cliff face. His breath was forced painfully from his lungs by the impact even as he was showered with snow and stones, growing as the overhang disintegrated in front of him.
Trying to gasp air like a stranded fish he hung onto the rope, buffeted from below by further explosions and from above by the rockslide. His hands slipped down the line a dozen inches, then more, burning his palms, but he managed to grip harder, and even to pull his dead weight up towards the lip.
A large stone bounced off his shoulder, and for a long moment he wondered if the tree he’d used as an anchor might not come loose itself, sending him into the maelstrom below, but he finally got to the top, his feet scrabbling on the friable surface until he caught on something more solid and tipped himself onto firmer ground.
“Jayne! Jayne! You still alive?”
Jayne got to his feet and, mindful of further disturbance, looked over the edge. Indigo was standing up, shading his eyes with one hand, the other with a firm grip on his rifle. Jayne waved, shouting back, “Yeah, still alive.”
“Hell, kid, you see the mess you’ve made?”
Still holding on to the rope, Jayne peered further over. The entire front of the Barracuda had disappeared between a slide of rocks and snow, the overhang demolished back at least twenty feet. It was going to take a determined effort for the crew to dig themselves out, even if they survived uninjured.
“S’what I do,” he called, his voice carrying easily in the cold air.
“Go help the others. Don’t wait for me, I’d only slow you down.”
Indigo shoot his head, a rueful smile under his moustache that Jayne couldn’t see. “You’re different to the feller I used to know, I’ll say that.”
“You paying me a compliment?”
“Best take it that way, yeah.”
Jayne grunted a laugh. “Then you better get going, old man. ‘Fore I get down there and show you I ain't changed that much.”
“Already gone. And less of the old, you whippersnapper.”
“Only ... you let ’em get hurt and there won’t be an empty grave up in the cemetery at all.” He paused a moment. “I’m relying on you.”
“Fair enough.” Indigo nodded, shouldering his rifle. “Don’t get dead.”
“Don’t intend to.”
“See you there.”
Jayne waved and disappeared from the cliff edge.
Indigo shook his head and started towards the camp, skirting the landslide and wondering if he was going to get there in time anyway. He’d barely gone a dozen yards before he came across two horses tethered to a bush, hunkered together as if scared, stamping their hooves and flaring wide nostrils.
His gun immediately at the ready, he searched with narrowed eyes for signs of their riders, knowing on instinct that they weren’t out on a jaunt for the sake of their health. It didn't take long to find them, although his nose got the first indication. Iron, the scent of blood on the air.
From their position they must have been sneaking up on him, and were caught when the rocks came bouncing down. One of them was still breathing when he found them, but the rattle in his throat died as Indigo approached, leaving nothing but the tiny sounds of stones settling. Indigo knew the face, despite the damage that had destroyed his left eye – MacDonald, one of Pedersen’s men, his lower half crushed and hidden under jagged boulders, the churned snow gore-red.
Of the other man only his legs were visible, broken bones protruding from ripped pants, and one boot missing.
“Couldn’t happen to a nicer couple of fellers,” Indigo murmured, chewing on the end of his moustache thoughtfully.
Whatever Jayne’s grenades had hit had obviously done more damage than anticipated, and it was a wonder the horses hadn’t been caught up in it, let alone himself. Still, waste not, want not. He backtracked to where they were still trying to get away from the smell of blood and unhitched one, taking a moment to stroke his hands down its flanks and soothe it with the sound of his voice. Leaving the second for Jayne if he chose, Indigo swung easily into the saddle.
Mal hunched down behind a boulder, a position he’d been in too often for his own liking during the war, and since, listening to Cutter McCoy’s voice get on his nerves.
“See, they wanted me to see what you were up to, but I was already here, keeping that eye on you I promised.” McCoy sounded smug, and Mal could just imagine the look on his face, one he wanted to wipe off the man’s features.
The moment the bullet had ricocheted from the rock Mal and Freya had scrambled into cover.
Keep him talking, Freya had thought at him, vanishing from his sight. I’ll get behind him.
You be careful, ai ren.
Not planning on anything else.
“That’s nice of you,” Mal now said aloud, wiping idly at his cheek then rubbing his bloodied hand down his pants leg. “Though not quite sure what me and my wife going for a stroll has to do with you.”
“A stroll. Out here?”
“Well, when you’re stuck on a boat, surrounded by kids and other folks, you tend to take the opportunities when you can.”
“There are other places. The town, for one. Closer, too.”
“Not so enamoured of Cason’s Point that I’d like to take it in for pleasure.”
“Then you really want to let me arrest you,” McCoy said.
“Nope, I don’t think I do.”
“Things might go better for you.”
“Nope,” Cutter McCoy admitted. “But seeing as I’m Sheriff I guess I should go through the motions.”
“What would you arrest me for anyway? Spending some quality time with the woman I love?”
“How about theft?”
“The Tanners’ merchandise.”
“You mean the slaves?”
“Bought and paid for is all I care about.”
“You mean as long as you get your share?” Mal couldn’t even make himself feel surprised.
Cutter laughed. “Pretty much.”
“Well, pardon me if I don’t stand up and whistle Dixie.”
“What?” For a moment Cutter sounded confused.
“Something my old sergeant used to say.”
“Can’t see you being a loyal Alliance soldier, so that makes you a Browncoat. Shoulda guessed. Be about right for one of your colour not to have the balls to come out and face me.”
“I don't see you stepping into the sunlight.”
“Maybe I’m not crazy.”
Ma wondered where Freya had got to. “So let me guess. You’re gonna sit there and wait for me to come to you, and I’m gonna sit here and wait for you. ‘Cause we both have the same aim in mind: killin’ the other.”
“Looks like we’re at an impasse.”
“Only I got the patience of a saint.”
Saint? Freya’s voice definitely had a ‘raised eyebrow’ feel to it.
Okay. But ‘patience of a sinner’ don’t have quite the same ring.
But more accurate.
Mal internalised the sigh. Just ... do what you’re supposed to be doing.
Unlike some people, I can do more than one thing at a time.
Cutter McCoy knew nothing of the conversation, instead saying, in the gap between thoughts, “So what are you proposing?”
“How about you toss your gun out and put your hands up?”
The sheriff laughed. “I kinda think that’s my line.”
“Then how about we both do it, and fight it out man to man?”
Get his attention.
Mal lifted his head, looking for her uselessly. You sure, Frey?
Mal got his legs under him. If I get killed I’m coming to haunt you.
Wouldn’t want anything less.
“Good idea,” Mal said, stepping from behind the boulder and immediately rolling forward. He was surprised to see McCoy out in the open, aiming his gun, and went to roll again, but felt his sudden vulnerability like a punch to his gut. He dragged his own pistol around, but knew he was going to be too late, anticipating the bullet that was going to tear into his flesh.
He saw Freya out of the corner of his eye, aiming something bulky.
The Sharps barely made a sound, nothing more than a sigh, or perhaps the last breath of a dying man, and suddenly Cutter McCoy was thrust back against the boulder. He slid down into a sitting position, leaving a trail of blood and particles of flesh and bone smeared down the rock.
Mal got to his feet and approached the stricken man, his gun ready, but unneeded.
He had seen wounds of all kinds, too varied to bring them all to mind even if he wanted to, and every kind of reaction under the sun, but death was always new, always unique, and every single time always ending the same. Jayne’s words echoed in his head.
“That was the other thing about the Sharps ammo. The gel core makes it ... I don't know the word, but it kinda vibrates ... Soon as it leaves the gun, it starts ... that vibrating ... and when it hits its target it’s got enough momentum to rip a body apart from the inside.”
The entry point under Cutter’s ribs looked only a little bigger than normal, but Mal knew the exit wound would be the size of a fist, if not bigger, and the man had no chance.
Cutter was rapidly going into shock, his blood melting the snow and recrystallising as it cooled, sparkling like rubies among diamonds. He coughed, and a thin river of red spilled down his chin. “You think I’m gonna repent?” he managed to say, bubbles at his lips. “Call on God to help me?”
Mal shook his head. “Thought hadn’t crossed my mind.”
“Don't want me to spill my guts?” Cutter laughed, but something agonising caught at him and he shuddered.
“You mean tell me everything you know? Nope. Nothing you can tell me I want to hear.”
“Even that it was ... it was Brad Tanner who shot Indigo MacCready?”
“Not even that.”
“Good. ‘Cause that ... that hwoon dahn ... deserves everything he gorram ... gets.” He coughed again, his mouth filling with liquid. He tried to spit, but the action died as he did, and he lay still.
Mal stared down at him. “Think he meant Brad Tanner or Indigo?” he asked idly.
“Does it matter?”
“Guess not.” He turned to look at her, the Sharps cradled all too easily in her arms.
“What?” she asked.
Freya glanced down at the gun. “He would have killed you.”
“I know, ai ren.” She’d just made it look so easy ...
“Never easy,” she admonished, but very gently, her eyes fixed on his. “Never that, Mal.”
Freya sighed faintly, then held up the Sharps. “It’s an ugly weapon.”
“Well, it ain’t pretty, but –”
“No. I mean what it does. The way it kills.” She shook her head. “Hank was lucky.”
“I think we all feel that, xin gan. Simon’s saved all of us before now.”
“He wouldn’t have needed saving except for something like this.”
Mal was about to respond when the suddenness of Freya’s movement surprised him as she swung the Sharps against a tree trunk. The compound fibre shattered, fragments of the barrel whining away into the bushes. She dropped the remains as if it were something faintly disgusting.
“Feel better?” he asked gently.
“Good. So long as you don’t take it out on me too.”
“I’ll let you know if I get the urge.”
“I'd be grateful.”
She took a deep breath then looked up at him. “Let’s go stop River killing all of the bad guys, shall we?”
“Probably a good idea.” She went to move away but he grabbed her arm, pulling her to him. “Frey ...”
He studied her face, her hazel eyes wide in question, her cheeks flushed with the cold. “Don’t leave me.”
“I don’t intend to.”
“Not sure I could survive if you did.” The look on her face immediately after she’d shot McCoy had scared him, and it brought the truth painfully home to him just how much there was about this woman he loved that he didn’t know.
She read it, saw it in his blue eyes as much as in his mind, and stepped so close there was barely a molecule of air between them. “I wish I could tell you,” she whispered, her hand cupping his face. “But you know all the important bits.”
He had to smile. “You sure?”
“Okay.” He dipped his head, claiming her mouth, letting her taste wash away the uncertainties. Releasing her at last, he grinned wider. “River, huh?”
It had taken most of her skill to persuade the slaves that she wasn’t there to kill them, no matter how it appeared.
“Don’t you want your freedom?” she asked, beginning to get exasperated.
The women still huddled back against the wall behind the men.
“It’s a trap,” one young man said, taking a single step forward then two back.
“I’ve opened the doors. Killed for you already. And you want to stay?” River shook her head. “And they call me crazy.”
Probably not the best thing to say, she realised as they shrank further back. She sighed and turned into the other room, not surprised when they didn’t follow her. In a moment she was back, the dead man’s rifle in her hands.
One of the women moaned, instantly stifled as she thrust her hand into her mouth.
“Can you not be so stereotypical?” River demanded, looking at her with contempt. “Don’t be so ... female.” She tossed the gun to the man who had spoken before. “Here. Shoot me if you think I’m here to kill you.”
The young man looked down, his hand moving to the stock, his finger curling around the trigger. He swallowed hard, then raised his eyes. “What do you want us to do?”
“Follow me. And arm yourselves when you can.” She pushed her red-tinged hair behind her ears. “They won’t want us to leave.”
His grip tightened, his face taking on a more determined aspect. “Lead on.”
to be continued
Saturday, April 28, 2012 2:50 AM
Saturday, April 28, 2012 5:46 AM
Monday, April 30, 2012 10:17 AM
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