BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

REGINAROADIE

The Serenity Gig-Chapter 2: Exposition
Saturday, October 16, 2004

This is the second part of my Serenity Gig series. In this one, Shooter meets the different crew members. Music is referenced and seeds are sown for the big day itself. Feedback appreciated.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3190    RATING: 6    SERIES: FIREFLY

After setting up my editing bay in one of the shuttle, I decided to take a look around the ship and meet the crew Kaylee had raved so much about. I learned that the ceremony itself was to be held in the cargo bay, since it was obviously the largest room on the whole ship. They had a makeshift altar already set up, with an aisle and seat markers taped on the floor to indicate where everything was. I thought the chair idea was a bit redundant since there would be roughly about six people sitting for the ceremony. I set up where my tripod and my smaller cameras would be as Kaylee taped some second hand wedding decorations around the railings of the stairs and catwalks. After setting up, and arguing with her about the choice of music for the final film, I walked around the ship and met with the different crew members. Kaylee wanted the video to be just as much about them as it was of her and Simon, so I spent the remainder of the day visiting.

The first person I met was the pilot, a guy named Wash. I liked him a lot. He was as friendly as Kaylee, he really knew how to fly and navigate, and he loved the Classic Rock Movement of the mid to late 20th Century. I’m really into that kind of music, even though it’s about 500 years old. Not that many people nowadays know about the The Beatles, The Band, Bob Dylan, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Barenaked Ladies, Tenacious D, AC/DC, U2 and the likes. But he really got a kick out of listening to some of the old mp3 discs that you’d find in the old CD stores. He then introduced me to his wife, Zoe. When I saw her, I thought “Man, I would’ve loved to have been at their wedding.” As she explained her capacities on ship and how she and Wash had met, I couldn’t help but think that right there was an example of how love can confound expectations. Before them, I had never seen an interracial couple, where it was white dude/black chick. Usually, it’s the other way around. She looked like the kind of gal that if a guy ever tried to come onto her, she’s have his lower member removed faster than an order to a bartender. But they had something going on between them, and I was happy to see that.

“So” I asked, “what are you two going to bring or do for the wedding?”

“Well” Wash said surreptitiously “I do plan on unveiling my musical talent at the ceremony.”

“Really? What do you play?”

“Well, it’s a-“’

“It’s a gorram piece of plastic he found in a junk pile on some backwater outpost planet.” I heard a rough voice emerge from the doorway to the bridge and saw a big bearded guy, brandishing a knife, leaning against the frame of the bridge doors. This obviously had to be Jayne.

“For your information, it’s a kazoo, and since it’s the only instrument we have on deck, it’s what were hearing when our two lovebirds get married.”

“Gorram waste of time and money, if you ask me.” He then started to pick his teeth with that huge knife of his. I kept hearing the opening chords of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” in my head as he did that. Zoe then looked at him suspiciously.

“Jayne. You’re pickin your teeth.”

“So? Our guest here won’t mind. Not like I’m ‘entertaining him, like ‘Nara would.”

“That aside, there isn’t anything edible on this ship worthy of teeth picking. Nothing involved with the wedding at least.”

Jayne then froze. I got the sense that he had just been caught with the proverbial hand in the cookie container. He then walked away, muttering to himself something about a last marriage.

“What’s his problem?” I asked them.

“He’s an idiot” Wash replied.

Seemed like a good enough answer for me. “What’s this about a kazoo?”

He then told me about how when he was in prison during the war for dodging the draft on his planet, the only way he survived was by entertaining the other prisoners. Usually these would involve shadow puppets and plastic children’s instruments they would receive from different inmate’s children. This is why I love the Outer Rim. You’d never meet an interesting character like Wash on a Core Planet.

When I was done with them, I walked around a bit and headed to the cargo bay. I noticed Jayne moving some gym equipment with an older black dude up the stairs. “He must be Book” I thought as I watched in amusement.

As Jayne muttered to himself about his “invasion of privacy”, the older man beside him just smiled. He stopped and put the equipment down.

“Ahh, so you must be the enigmatic Shooter.” He said as he held out his hand. I shook it and said quietly to him, “Just with a camera, but don’t let the big guy know that.” He smiled to himself. “Oh, he’s quite harmless actually. So you’ll be immortalizing us on dv.”

“Yep. Just doing my job, just like you’ll be doing in two days time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you’re a Shepherd. You’ve probably wed plenty of couples in your career. Why shouldn’t you do this one?”

“I’m not sure. Usually it’s the captain of a ship that marries two people. I’m just a passenger. I haven’t wed a couple in nearly thirty years.”

“Well you should. It would be interesting and more dramatic to see you wed the mechanic and doctor of this ship.

“I’ll keep that in mind. Could you help me with this?”

“Oh, ok then.” I pick up the other end of a weight bench and start to carry it through the hallway. “So by your name, I guess you’re an avid reader? What are you reading nowadays?”

“Right now I’m reading some of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.”

“Really, Preacher. I figured you wouldn’t be one for pop culture drivel.” He looked at me with a puzzled look. “It’s a private joke. Personally, I could never really wrap my head around his style. Sounds like Tolkien after a few rounds.”

“I suppose in comparison Shakespeare is a coked out rapper.”

“I’m not sure about the rap, but he’s a hell of a lot more coherent. And sweeter on the ear.”

We spent the next half hour talking about books and religion as we hauled a lot of the stuff in the cargo bay out to some of the other rooms. I liked him. He reminded me of some of the old gospel and blues singers. Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ray Charles, that dude from The Staples, those kind of guys. After we were done with moving the stuff around, I followed him to Jayne’s bunk. Jayne and Book had a chat about something, which I was too busy setting up my camera to pay attention. After Book left, I peered in and noticed a few guns hanging on his wall, just above his bed. “Hey” I shouted down into his bunk. “Mind showing me some of your guns?” He seemed to think about this, and then he smiled. “Sure. Lemme introduce you to Vera.”

Now I know what your thinking. How the Hell did I , a total stranger to this mercenary, manage to get him to open up in front of the camera and even talk to me without threatening to cut my balls of. It’s real easy. First, you get them talking about something they’re really into, in this case his unhealthy obsession with guns, all the while stroking the interviewee’s ego. And then you slowly steer the conversation towards the subject matter. When we got around to talking about the wedding, he seemed to tense up a bit. Clearly, if there was anyone who had trouble with this union, it was him.

“Seems like a gorram waste to me. They’d be too busy being all gooey with each other that neither of them’ll get anything done around here. You throw in that moonbrained sister of his in the mix, and you know that that’s a real good combo right there. Don’t get me wrong, the doc’s a good boy in the infirmary and real smart, but Kaylee’s…..” he trailed off there. When I zoomed in, he had a look on his face that seemed to me that he was thinking. Maybe this was making him sore for other reasons. I immediately changed the subject.

“So you don’t agree with Wash’s choice for music?”

“Yeah. Stupid piece of plastic. When he got that, he couldn’t shut up about that thing. Gorram screwball pilot. He thinks he’s funny and cute, but he can be a real pain in the ass. I mean, why would a grown man still play with plastic dinosaurs? Just gonna ruin this whole thing.”

“Maybe you should do something about it.”

“Huh?”

“My daddy once told me that if there’s something that’s going to happen that don’t sit right with you, instead of just bitching about it, go out and change it. That’s what I’ve done all my life. Maybe you should do the same.”

A strange glint came over his eyes. He looked down at a black metal box in the corner of the room. I looked over and saw it just sitting there, and collecting rust. I got a weird chill when he looked at that, and then at to me. “You know what?” I said as I got up, “I think I’m just gonna go. Find some of the other crew members.” I climbed up the ladder fairly quickly. Before I pushed that to the back of my mind, I though “Oh shit. I hope he’s not going to do something stupid.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

I walked back to the cargo bay to make sure everything was set up in the right place. I had four egg-pan cams set up to get some overhead shots from different angles. They’re just like the old egg cams that people had as a function for their computers, but they had motion censors on them that panned whenever there was movement, and I could make some hand gestures towards individual cameras to zoom in or out if I wanted to go from a wide shot to a close up. After doing a systems check, I heard voices from the infirmary. I followed them and saw a guy and a girl, roughly about the same age, talking to each other. The guy was preparing to give an injection to the girl, who seemed both distant and bored by the moment. This had to be Simon and River, the fugitive duo. Won’t bother telling you what they’re charged with, since it’s a bullshit charge anyhow. Simon was everything Kaylee described him as. Despite being on the run for two years, he carried himself with a sense of dignity and proper behaviour. Even in jeans and a sweat shirt, he acted as if he were under a social microscope. His sister, on the other hand, seemed a bit off. She wore regular attire like her brother, but her vacant stares and stringy hair reminded me of some of the shell shocked soldiers. I pushed this aside in my mind and introduced myself.

“Hi. Name’s Lucas Anyong.”

“Yes, you must be the childhood friend Kaylee talked to me about. So you’ll be-“

“Filming the wedding.” I looked over to River in surprise. “Film. 24 frames a second. 24 divisible by numbers 2 through 6, except five. Five is a prime number.’ She trailed off for a bit. Despite Kaylee telling me all about River, how she was this genius before the Alliance cut up her brain and that now she’s on the level of an idiot-savant, I still couldn’t help but feel a bit weirded out by the whole thing. She sensed it and then made a pose for me, like a runway model. I chuckled at this and indulged her for a few minutes, filming her as she made these poses. After a while, she seemed to lose interest and ran off. Simon just looked on with a smile on his face.

“So how do you want to do this?” he asked.

“Well, how about you just stand or sit somewhere, and I’ll just interview you about you and Kaylee. Tell me about how you two met and what she means to you.”

Simon then sat down on the operating table and started talking. He talked about how they really met there on that table. Some fed shot her in the stomach, and he was there to patch her up and save her. He chuckled when he mentioned that when she was in shock, she asked if he wanted to dance with her. Being on the run for protecting his sister from my fascist employers was a bit lonely for him at the beginning. Of course, dropping everything you’ve known and worked for to save a sibling had that effect on him. He was grateful that Mal had taken him on board as the doctor. But Kaylee was the one who made it feel like a home for him. For the first few months, there was an attraction between them, and like most guys, he had said some stupid things to put her off of him, despite her obvious attraction to him. But over the course of the next year and a half, there mutual admiration for each other turned into love. And despite the fact that they were literally from different worlds and that he was technically a con, they decided to tie the knot anyways. I couldn’t really place a band or a song with him, though. Coldplay was the best I could come up with.

“So I’m guessing that you’re not going to write your own vows?”

“No. I’m fine with whatever Book or Mal has me repeat.”

“Still, it’s always nice whenever the groom makes an effort in professing his love to his bride. At least for me anyways, for the video. You don’t mind that your own folks won’t be here to see you tie the knot.”

“Maybe my mother would like to be here, but maybe not my dad. I imagine Kaylee isn’t the kind of girl he would’ve liked me to ‘continue the Tam name’ with. But that’s his problem. It’s weird. After two years of on the run, living off protein and trying to heal my sister, I actually consider this place to be more of a home to me and this crew my real family. In two days, I’m just making it official.”

I nodded and put the viewfinder back in place. “This is good.” I said to him. “Hey. Parents are the ultimate form of authority. If you’ve been figuratively giving the finger to the Man for the last two years, then maybe marrying Kaylee would be the ultimate fuck you to your dad and to the establishment.” I laughed at this while Simon looked a bit offended at this at first, but then he soon started laughing. I guess Kaylee was loosening him up after all. “Yes. Yes I think that would be considered the ultimate act of defiance.” After the initial wave of humor died down, I got up and left the Doctor to his thoughts. “Talk to you later.”

After talking to Simon, I figured I should get some more shooting done. I usually like to get establishing shots of the place where the ceremony takes place. Problem is, I didn’t know how to work the shuttle I was staying in. And going outside in a suit was something I had no desire to do, unless there was a very long cord attached to me. And that would just ruin the shot. So I decided to try the other shuttle. I knew someone lived there, separate from the crew. Maybe they’d be kind enough to fly me around the spaceship so that I can get some shots. I knocked at the door. I was busy with the camera, setting it up to film, so I didn’t immediately see who was there to answer. “Hi. I’m sorry to-“ I stopped talking when I looked up. I almost did a double take. The elegant woman whom I thought was a hallucination when I first saw Serenity was now standing in front of me. She didn’t seem surprised or annoyed or anything like that. It was like she was expecting me. “Hello” she said very calmly. “Hi” I said slackjawed. “I’m-“ “Shooter. Kaylee told me about you and what you do. It’s always nice to see a new friendly face on board. I’m Inara Serra.” She took my hand and shook it. I then realized that she was the Companion Kaylee told me about. “Nice to meet you ma’am. I know you’re a Companion and all, and I don’t have two credits to rub together, but do you think you could do me a service?”

She stood back and looked at me with a straight face. “And what might that be?”

“Well, I usually like to get some establishing shots of the place where I’m doing my latest wedding. And I was wondering if you could fly me around the ship in your shuttle a couple of times, just to get those shots.”

Inara then settled down, somewhat relived. “Of course. Please come in.” She stood aside as I stepped into her shuttle.

“Wow, you’ve really done up the place real well.” She closed the door and smiled back at me.

“Thank you. I like to make my habitat as warm and comfortable as possible.”

“You didn’t think I was here to- Oh No. Definitely not. I don’t think…what you supply…should be something you pay for.”

“You sound a bit like the captain.”

“Well I didn’t mean it that way. You’re a business woman. You supply something people want and need and you make your living off of it. Oddly enough, you and I are the same businesswise. We use our talents for economic survival. Only difference is that I have what my clients do on tape.”

“I suppose your right, in that aspect.” She powered up her ship, and radioed Wash, telling him what I had asked her to do. Wash gave the OK, and we took off. We kept talking as I filmed the ship from one of her windows. I asked her to turn the lights off, so that there wasn’t a glare on the window. It’s moments like these when I love being a filmmaker. Filming the ship as she hovered around filled me with a sense of awe and hope. Every filmmaker loves sci-fi, and capturing this magnificent ship out in the ocean of space was a dream come true for me. They are gonna love this. After I was done filming, we docked and continued our conversation.

“So are you excited about this wedding? I imagine you’ve attended a lot of these functions on the Core Planets.”

“Not as many as you’d think. But yes, I am a little eager about the ceremony happening in two days. I’ve come to think of Kaylee as a little sister to me. Never had someone look up to me in awe and inspiration before. And the doctor is a good man. I imagine River might feel a little excluded, though. He’s spent so much time trying to improve her. Make her the way she was. But I think she’s happy that her brother has some happiness in his life. And I know Kaylee will help out any way she can.”

“What about you? Aren’t you a bit envious of Kaylee? I mean, she is going to tie the knot with someone she loves who loves her back. Don’t you wish you had that in your life as well?”

She paused. A look of uncertainty and protection came over her. As if she had been called on something she couldn’t avoid, but wanted to. After a few minutes, she looked back at me and said “At times, I do. But I’ve been raised not to let my emotions get in the way of my decisions.’ She said that with sincerity, but I got the sense of her putting on an act. After interviewing many people over the years, you get adept to reading body language. I was about to change the subject, when I heard a knock on the door. Inara stood up and walked to the door. She seemed relieved when Kaylee appeared at the door. Truth be told, so was I. She told Inara that dinner was ready and Inara thanked her for telling me this. She walked away gracefully, and I caught up with Kaylee. As I told her that I got to know most of the crew well, I couldn’t help but think of Inara. For some reason, “Killer Queen” by Queen was playing in my head as I sat down with the crew for a protein dinner.

After dinner with the crew, I decided to head back down to the cargo bay to do a test run on my cameras to see if they’re working properly. Running a motion capture camera set is a complex thing that requires a lot of practice, timing and instinct to get it right. I was in the middle of testing the cameras out when I notice River peering out from one of the doorways.

“Hey” I replied. “What are you doing here?” She stepped out gingerly and looked around.

“I like to wander the ship at night. Its secrets speak to me in the dim of night. Also, Kaylee and Simon spend all their nights together. Don’t want to burden them. What’cha doin?”

“I’m just testing out my cameras for the ceremony. I like to have everything working in order before the big day.”

She nodded and stared back at me. “What are these?” she asked in a puzzled tone, mimicking my movements.

“Oh these are hand signals for my cameras. Come here.” I motioned towards the center of the floor, where the aisle would be and she complied. “You see the cameras up around the handrails of the catwalks?” She nodded. “Everyone of them is pointed at us. But I can change their focal point and framing with a few simple hand signals. I just point at a specific camera,” I then pointed at Camera D, which is the bottom left hand camera of the square I set up, “and then I make a signal about what kind of shot I want. If I want a wide shot, I do this.” I put my three middle fingers up to make a w with them. “If I want a medium, I do this.” I inverted the w to look like an m. “And if I want a close up, I do this.” I make a c with my hand. I hear the whirring of the camera and see River staring up at it. “You understand?” She nodded and looked back at me. “Yes. Interesting system. Silent, yet effective. Like sign language. Or a conductor. Or war commands.” She looked around a bit, looking a bit nervous. I decide to change the subject.

“Kaylee tells me you like to dance.” River looked back to me with an excited look. “If you want me too, I can play some music for you to dance to. I need a subject matter other than me to test out the cams.” She nodded eagerly to me, urging me to play it. She set up into a pose as I accessed the mp3 on my computer.

It was an old song from Earth That Was. A jazz/rock tune ironically done by a doctor. His name was Dr. John and the song was ‘Such a Night”. I played it, and a strange thing happened. At first, she seemed a bit off. Maybe she was expecting a ballet tune or something. And I was about to turn it off when she started dancing to it. And not just some bad two step improv thing, but a complex ballet/waltz thing that perfectly conformed with the notes of the piano and the horn section. I joined in on my own, pointing at the cameras to capture River at different angles and set-ups, while singing along to the repeating chorus. When the song ended, she took a bow and smiled at me. I bowed back to her as well, and we both burst out laughing. A while later, after I agreed to let her work some of the other cameras during the ceremony (hey, I never had an assistant before, and if she was supposed to be this genius, I figured she could help me out), we ended up back in the spare shuttle I was set up in. I edited the stuff I had of her dancing into a short little three-minute thing, which delighted her, and I put on one of my movies for her. Well, not mine per se, but an old documentary from Earth That Was called THE LAST WALTZ. The song I played for her was from that movie, along with other songs from some legendary musicians. She loved pretty much all of them, which I could tell by the way she banged her head to the music.

About halfway through the film, she started to get a bit tired, but we kept playing the movie. By the time we got to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, she seemed to be fast asleep. Of course, by that time, the captain himself had joined me in the shuttle. Without knocking, like Inara said he would. It was weird, when the song did play, and as he watched Levon Helm beat the shit out of the drums while singing a song about a distant war, a strange look appeared on the captain. As if he were remembering being in that same battle. And that’s when I remembered where I heard that name before. “Serenity Valley. You were there when the Independents lost.” He seemed to snap out of it when he heard that. He looked at me with a strange look.

“Now how would you know that?” he asked.

“Because I was there was well. Regrettably, I was on the Alliance side, filming the battle for them for a documentary they wanted me to make.” “You were Alliance?”

“I was, until that day. Before the war, I was neutral. Didn’t want to get involved. But after seeing what they did to you guys and having my stuff re-edited into propaganda, I wanted out. Didn’t want to be on the wrong side anymore. You can understand that, right?”

“Yes, I can. Glad to see Kaylees instincts proved right. Can’t say I approve of her wanting to get marriage, though. It’s my experience that marriage isn’t for everyone, though.” “Yeah, I heard about that Sapphire chick. She really played you, though.” I couldn’t help but laugh as he face went from defensive to irritated. “God, how many ruttin’ times do I have to say it? I was conned. We were never married to begin with.”

After I calmed down, I put on as much of a straight face as I could and told him “Don’t worry. If anyone can pull off getting married, it’s Kaylee. As for you, I’ll make sure you look good.”

“Thanks”, he said and headed out. He turned around as he got near the door and said something I never imagined him to say. “For the record,” he then pointed to the right side of his face, “this is my good side” and then left. As I pulled a blanket over River who was curled up on the floor, and turned everything off, I smiled to myself. Yep. This was turning out to be a very interesting gig.

COMMENTS

Saturday, October 16, 2004 7:41 PM

REGINAROADIE


I know. Still, it would be better that I get a response that doesn't sicken me. BTW, what did you think of this installment.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 9:30 AM

GUILDSISTER


First-person narrative can be tough in that every single moment of the writing is a direct, personal reflection of that single character, of his personality, his viewpoint, and his perceptions. I think you held true to a well-realized and portrayed character POV in 'Shooter'. You created a decided flavor and character in this person. Shooter's not a particularly likable character, somewhat abrasive, but that works, too. *** Shooter feels a bit like a time-traveler dropped down in the Firefly 'verse, with the constant 20th century refs, music and technology. Film? Haven't dealt with film in nearly twenty years, barely deal with videotape any more. In ten years time we won't. *** Very intriguing idea of an outside observer (documentary shooter) at Serenity Valley. Hope you persue that further.


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