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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Mal has his usual problem with any plan, and Jayne faces Medea Tanner. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 641 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Freya watched the shuttle circle around and land in the camp’s main compound, and half a minute later Zoe appear in the doorway, her Mare’s Leg at the ready. It wasn’t necessary. Any of the slavers still alive had decided no money was worth facing whoever the hell it was who was killing them, and had taken to their heels, grabbing any horses they could and high-tailing it for town.
A young man, his steps hesitant and uncoordinated, stepped out from the darkness of the entrance, his rifle in his hands, but the barrel pointing towards the ground. He said something, too far away for her to hear the words, except in her mind, her eyes closing to be able to concentrate through Zoe.
“Zoe. Not ma’am. Are there more of you?”
He half-turned towards the building he’d come from. “Uh ... yes. Twenty. Maybe thirty.” He nodded towards one of the bodies laying at the base of the wall where it had fallen, small and crumpled, looking more like a bag of old clothes than a recently living, breathing individual. “She ... that girl ... she ...” He swallowed hard and tried again. “Are you with ... them?”
“Are you serious?”
Freya could imagine Zoe’s expression, and had to smile herself.
“No. No. Sorry.”
“Shiny.” Zoe softened. “Well, I can’t get you all in the shuttle, and it’s cold out here. You’d best get back under cover while we figure out the best thing to do with you.”
“Zoe. Ma’am. I just wanna go home.”
Zoe nodded, understanding the feeling. “We’ll see what we can do.”
Freya opened her eyes and stood up, ready to go and help, when something tickled her mind and she changed her focus.
Frey? Mal sounded a little annoyed. Mind telling me what the diyu’s going on?
It’s over. At least here. The inmates have taken over the asylum.
I take it the slaves are free?
You’ve been spending way too long with River. Where is she, by the way?
Jayne’s having a few ... problems.
Anything he can’t handle?
He ... might appreciate some help.
Shiny. Which way? Freya visualised a map, knowing it would replicate itself in his mind, with a red cross shining brightly. X marks the spot, huh?
I’m right behind ... Her mental voice stammered to a halt.
Mal stopped walking, turning towards the camp as if it might make a difference. Frey?
Mal! Her mental voice was anxious, desperate. Get down! There’s someone else, someone near you!
He span, searching the boulders and trees with narrowed eyes, gun tracking, but it was too late. Always too late.
He felt a thud, something hitting him somewhere around his hip, then his left leg collapsed beneath him. He fell forward, his hands going out into the snow to stop his fall, to push him back up, but his leg refused to obey. He glanced down.
“Tah muh duh.”
Blood was dripping, staining the snow just as McCoy’s had done.
Hiram Pederson stepped forward, his weapon aimed squarely at Mal’s head. Mal tried to lift his own gun, but he couldn’t seem to hold it straight.
“Hwoon dahn,” Pederson growled. “I’ll teach you for messing up my business.” His finger tightened.
The gunshot sounded terribly close, and he fell, dead before he hit the ground.
Mal opened his eyes, unaware he’d closed them in anticipation of never being able to open them again. “Not exactly what I expected,” he murmured, seeing a familiar figure slide into view.
“What, you wanted angels?” Indigo asked, crouching by Pederson’s body.
“Well, you ain’t exactly my idea of one.” Pain started to grow now the adrenaline of a near death experience was wearing off, and he rolled onto his back, gasping. He dropped his gun into the snow and pressed both hands to the wound, feeling wet heat squelching between his fingers.
Indigo stood up, stepping closer. “I was tracking Pederson here, wondering what the hell he was up to. I didn’t realise he was tracking you until it was too late.”
“That’s ... surely a pity.”
The older man went down onto his heels, holstering his handgun. “Is it bad?” he asked, his tone changing.
“It ain’t good.”
“’Cause I ain’t a doctor.”
Whatever Mal might have said was lost as Freya burst into the small clearing.
“Mal!” She ran to him, falling onto her knees and moving his hands to one side so she could pull his coat away. “Damn you,” she added, much quieter. “Why didn’t you listen?”
“’M I ... seeing the couch ... in my near future?” Mal asked, his chest tight with the effort of remembering to breathe.
“More like the infirmary.” She pulled a knife from somewhere and cut the fabric of his pants so she could get access to the wound.
“Hey, they’re my ... favourite pair,” he protested weakly.
“I’ll mend them for you.” Totally inconsequential conversation, but it was all she could manage right now, feeling Mal’s pain almost as much as he was, let alone the anxiety swelling to an almost unbearable degree.
“He gonna be okay?” Indigo asked, backing away.
“Occupational hazard,” Freya responded shortly, pressing the pad of her palm down to try and stop the blood still flowing.
“Shit, Frey,” Mal moaned.
“I have to.”
He was surprised to see a tear sliding down her cheek. “You cryin’?”
“Shut up.” She wiped angrily at her skin, leaving a smear of red.
He tried to smile, but the cold seeping into his body and hitting the white hot fire of the pain in his hip made him shudder instead. To take his mind off it he looked up at Indigo. “You didn’t use the Sharps?” he asked, curious.
Indigo glanced at the rifle slung under his arm. “Gorram thing ran outta bullets. Just a useless hunk o’ metal now.”
“Good.” Mal groaned as Freya applied more pressure. “Just don’t give it to my wife. Not if you want it back in one piece.”
“Mal, will you please shut up?” Freya pleaded, more tears on her cheeks. “And lie still.”
“Trying, darlin’. I’m trying.”
“Sorry. Scaring you again.”
She looked into his face, shaking her head in disbelief. “Mal ...”
Someone ran round the stunted remains of a wind-carved tree, causing Indigo to first raise the useless Sharps then lower it as River skidded to a halt, dropping next to Mal and Freya. Jayne was less than a dozen footfalls behind.
“Jia yan?” River asked, her mind spiky with reflected pain.
“Hey,” Mal managed, starting to feel a little light-headed. “They all out?”
She gave him the expression that made grown men fear for their lives. “The inmates have taken over the asylum.”
Mal forced out a chuckle. “You and Frey both, huh?”
“Albatross, one of these days ... you and her are gonna say ... exactly what you mean.”
Her dark eyes glittered in the reflected snowlight. “And when I do certain people complain because I’m too accurate.”
Mal nodded. “Good point, xiao nu. Good point.” His head dropped back.
“Can we stop passing the time of day and get Mal back to Simon?” Freya said testily, taking the emergency dressing Jayne had tugged from his waist pack and pressing it to the wound.
“We are.” River wasn’t that concerned, not now she’d seen Mal in person.
“We are?” Freya looked confused.
Love is clouding your mind, River thought carefully, gently, but said, “Zoe is on her way.”
Freya concentrated, and there, just beyond the red miasma that was currently filling her mind, was the flicker of Zoe approaching in the shuttle. Indeed, even as she realised River was right, she could hear the hum of an engine getting louder. “You called her?”
River nodded. “Mal will be in the infirmary soon. Simon is getting ready.”
Jayne watched the shuttle take off, heading for Serenity.
“He will be fine,” River said quietly, holding his arm.
“Yeah, well, your bro’s good for something.”
She squeezed him tightly, making him wince. “Jayne.”
They’d settled Mal onto the wall bench in the shuttle, Freya fussing all the while. It was only when River and Jayne had stepped back outside that she looked up, surprised.
“Aren’t you coming with us?” she asked, hurrying to the door.
River shook her head. “Jayne and I have something to do. Besides, someone has to take the hover back to the ship.”
“Frey, we’re ready to go,” Zoe called from the shuttle’s small bridge.
“What about Indigo?” Freya peered into the landscape. “Where is he, anyway?”
Jayne shrugged. “He left. Not sure where’s he’s gone.”
The door was already closing. “Don’t be long. We’ll be leaving Ithaca as soon as you get back.”
Now River looked into her husband’s face. “I meant to ask if you enjoyed yourself. At the slaver’s ship.”
“You mean ta say you weren’t watching my thrilling heroics?” He tapped his temple and raised his eyebrows, his ice blue eyes warm.
“I was otherwise occupied.”
She looked so serious he had to puncture her pomposity. “Thought you could do more than one thing at a time?”
“I can. A multitude.”
He shook his head. “Guess I wasn’t important enough.”
She pinched him.
Jayne laughed, then explained what he’d done. “It’ll take ‘em a while to dig themselves out,” he admitted. “I managed to bring down a fair avalanche on top of ‘em. What with that and the damage I did to their engine intake ...” He grinned evilly.
“It could end up a tomb,” River reminded him delicately.
Jayne shrugged. Like he’d said to Indigo, as far as he was concerned they were being the good guys for a change, and that meant he couldn’t care less about the bad. “Ya think I could care less?”
“No.” She understood him, as much as he understood her, the pair much greater than their whole. “Well?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yeah. Time for some justice.”
The drive had been swept clean of snow, as had the large forecourt in front of the Tanner mansion.
Someone must have seen them approaching, because Medea herself was waiting at the large double front door, her body swathed in furs. As the two hovers came to a halt, she pulled them closer, her face tight.
“Jayne Cobb.” She made it sound like the words were flavoured with something disgusting, dripping from her lips.
“Nope. I don't think so.”
Her expression couldn’t have been any colder. “What do you want? Before I call McCoy.”
“Be calling a long time.”
“You have my hover. I assume you stole it.”
“Just bringing it back to you. Truth is, Medea, I wouldn’t keep this hunk o’ tin if’n you paid me.”
“Then why are you here?” She didn’t wait for him to answer before she went on, “Bradley and Wesley will be home soon. I’m sure they’d take a pleasure in seeing you off my estate. With extreme prejudice.”
“About that ...” Jayne reached down into the hover next to him and slung something over his shoulders. With barely a grunt he jumped to the ground, laying his burden in front of her. He moved the coat that wrapped the body to one side.
Medea looked into the waxy face of Wesley Tanner. “You’ve killed him,” she hissed.
“As it happens, no.” The young woman on the other hover spoke up, and with an ease that belied her apparent frailty, tipped a struggling Brad, hogtied and gagged, out of the vehicle and onto the drive, winded but obviously furious.
“And Wesley?” Medea asked quietly, colour creeping into her white face.
“Check the bullet in his chest,” River said, tossing Brad’s guns into the dirt. “So sad when brother kills brother.”
“I don’t believe you.”
Jayne shrugged. “Not sure we care if you do or don’t.”
“I’ll have you bound.”
This time Jayne smiled grimly. “That’d be a tad difficult, seeing as you don’t have a sheriff at the moment.” River had filled him in on the goings on at the camp. “And before you ask, no, I didn’t kill him, neither of us did.”
Medea turned her cold stare at River. “I recognise you. Not as innocent as you look.”
Brad was still struggling on the ground, and managed to work the gag from between his teeth. “It was them, Ma!” he shouted. “They killed Wes. Cold blood. I saw it!”
“And did nothing to help? To try and stop them?” Medea looked down at her son, noting the marks on his face. “Only bruises. Where are your wounds?”
“They jumped us! We didn't have a chance.”
“And yet they bring you both home.”
Brad’s face went from red to white. “You know I wouldn’t kill Wes. He’s my brother, Ma!”
“And yet you killed Troy.” River’s voice, while soft, seemed to ring from the buildings around them.
Medea’s head snapped up. “What?”
Brad struggled more, the bindings biting into his skin. “Don’t you listen to her, Ma! She’s lying. It was that hwoon dahn Indigo MacCready that did for Troy. You know that!”
Medea ignored him, all her attention on River. “How dare you. How dare you even say his name.” The venom in her voice would have made any other woman want to run away and hide.
River’s gaze didn’t even flinch. “Let me show you.”
It was all there, in Brad’s mind. Right at the front, as soon as Troy’s name was mentioned. The argument out in the hills near the camp, the attempts at persuasion, then Troy’s decision.
“We’re not doing this.”
“It’ll be worth thousands,” Wes said, trying once more. “And we don’t even have to do much.”
“I said no.” Troy shook his head, turning away from his brothers. “We’re not the best of people, not a one of us, and I’m no saint. Anywhere else and we’d probably be doing hard time. But this ... trafficking in people ... no. I’m not going to sink that low, and I’m not going to let you drag me down either.”
“But it’s all arranged.”
“Then unarrange it.” He turned back. “Wes, I’ve got a kid on the way. Me and Mallory ... we’re gonna set up home together. Be a family. Hell, I might even try to earn my own living.”
“You won’t have to, not if you –”
“And have my son have a slaver for a Pa? No way. I’d rather join old Mordecai in digging graves out in the cemetery than do that.”
“He’ll have a whore for a Ma,” Brad spat, then wondered if he’d gone too far.
Troy ignored him, all his attention on Wes. “You see to it,” he ordered. “This idea of yours ain’t gonna happen.”
“Troy, just –”
“I said no!” Troy’s voice thundered, startling a bird in one of the nearby trees into taking to wing, squawking in panic as it flew away. “Gorramit, Wes, how many more times do I have to say?”
“You can’t tell us what to do.”
“No, maybe not. But you really think Ma’s gonna look kindly on this little side venture of yours?”
Wes shrugged. “What she doesn’t know won’t come back and bite us in the ass.”
“Oh, she’ll know. I don’t tell tales, but if you don’t stop with this crazy idea, then I won’t have a choice.”
“Try me.” Troy turned, walked back to his horse and gathered the reins in his hand.
The sound of the gunshot was very loud, frightening the horse into an awkward sideways hop, and Troy slid to the ground.
Wes stared, then looked at Brad, the gun still smoking in his grip. “What the hell did you do that for?” he demanded in a hoarse voice.
“He was gonna tell Ma.” Brad holstered his pistol, his hand shaking slightly.
“And what do we tell her? About this?”
Brad scratched at the still pink scar on his neck. “If Cobb’d been around we could’ve blamed him.”
“Well, he isn’t.” Wes was thinking furiously. “We weren’t here,” he decided.
“We weren’t here. We came looking for Troy because we were worried about him, and found him like this.” Wes went down onto his heels next to the body, turning his brother’s pockets out and emptying them. “Someone robbed him. Shot him in the back and took everything he owned.”
“What about his horse?”
“Take it some place and get rid of it.” Wes straightened up. “And your gun, just in case.”
“Just do it!” He spat angrily into the dirt. “Do I have to spend my whole gorram life cleaning up your messes?”
Medea’s face lost any colour it had gained as it played out in her mind. She didn’t want to believe it, wanted to say that it was all a lie, something made up, that it hadn’t happened like that ... Only she knew it had. The pictures, all from Brad’s point of view, had a flavour of him about them, and the image of Troy was exactly as she remembered. They’d brought him home, draped across Wes’s saddle, and told her he’d been ambushed. They never did find his horse, or the pocket watch she’d given him for his twenty-first birthday, and she’d buried her son in the cemetery, Mordecai Hampton standing discreetly in the background as she’d mourned her boy.
Brad lay quietly in the dirt, seeing the same story, and if anything he was whiter than his mother. “It’s not true, Ma,” he stammered out hoarsely.
“Iverson.” Medea didn’t even raise her voice, but a man was instantly at her side, his rifle aimed and ready.
“Take Wes inside. Lay him out in his bedroom.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Iverson propped his rifle against the wall picked up the body with barely a grunt, going back inside with his cargo.
“Ma?” Brad started writhing on the ground again. “Ma?”
Medea ignored him, looking instead at Jayne and River. “Leave. Tell your captain to leave Cason’s Point now. Immediately. Or I won’t be responsible for what happens next.”
River jumped down and approached her on silent feet, stepping delicately over Brad’s legs. “You have a grandchild.”
“I don’t have anyone anymore.”
“No matter what you think, Josh is Troy’s son. And the only family you have left.”
“Ma?” Brad bleated.
Medea looked at the disconcerting young woman in front of her. “Leave.”
River smiled, ever so faintly. “Of course.” She curtsied, the effect somewhat odd given what she was wearing, and turned her back on Medea Tanner.
Jayne assisted his wife back into their own yellow hover then climbed up beside her. “Medea.”
The older woman didn’t even acknowledge his existence, but turned on her heel and stalked back into the house, leaving Brad scuffing up the gravel on the drive.
Jayne looked at River. “Mallory said Troy’d died of a broken neck,” he pointed out.
“I didn’t show her that,” River said. “What Brad did to his brother’s body before they took it home. I didn’t need to.”
“They tried to cover up the shooting?”
“They just had more than one option open to them.”
“Brothers killing brothers.” Jayne shook his head. “Cain and Abel.”
She looked up at him. “Your mother?”
“One of her favourite bible stories. ‘Cept she always made sure it turned out Cain was caught and punished.” He could still remember the Sunday evenings sitting around the fire, the old Bible open on his mother’s knees, her voice making the stories live.
“As it was, and is, and ever shall be ...”
“Yeah.” Jayne sighed and gave her a quick hug. “Come on, moonbrain. I got something I need to do in town first, then we’ll go home, see if your bro’s managed to save Mal’s life again.”
to be concluded
Saturday, May 12, 2012 4:32 AM
Saturday, May 12, 2012 7:34 AM
Monday, May 14, 2012 6:46 PM
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