BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GUILDSISTER

Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books...
Monday, December 20, 2004

Book's nefarious. Mal's crazy. And Simon is bewildered.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 4810    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY


Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books…


Blue Sun Job
Sequel to the
Truthsome series (link is to part 1)
Part 1: Plans and Schemes
Part 2: Into the Lion’s Den
Part 3: Going Smooth
Part 4: Return to the Core
Part 5: Life That Was
Part 6: More Life That Was
Part 7: ...and Robberies That Were
Part 8: Zoe’s Tale
Part 9: More of Zoe’s Tale
Part 10: Going In
Part 11: Home Again...
Part 12: Waiting
Part 13: Bushwhacked Revisited
Part 14: Two By Two
Part 15: Give the Devil His Due
Part 16: The Edge
Part 17: Going Through the Motions
Part 18: Never Leave
Part 19: The Bottom


Part 20: Countdown
Part 21: PS1467
Part 22: X1823
Part 23: Fallout
Part 24: The Wrong Side of Normal
Part 25: In Trouble
Part 26: Interactions
Part 27: Caught
Part 28: A Preacher, A Whore, and a Thief…
Part 29: …And the Thief Said…
Part 30: All Kinds of Wrong
Part 31: The Heart of the Matter
Part 32: Revelations
Part 33: Light and Shadow



Chinese:

No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters, just exclamatory expressions

他妈的 = ta ma duh = f*ck (used for all variations)


Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books…
靑日 Job: Of Many Books…

Shepherd Book waited for the captain near Serenity. Not a word passed between the two as Mal fell into step beside him. Though Book led the way, the captain had an interesting way of not quite following. Casting a sideways glance at Mal, Book noticed his expression was fixed, rigidly controlled though tinged with a shadow of suspicion at where Book was leading him. Suspicions fairly earned, Book thought ruefully.

For himself, Book clung to the sense of tranquility--he dare say serenity--flowing through him. He’d only spent a short time arranging the meetings he’d claimed to use to stall off Mal a few hours. The rest of the time Book had spent in the chapel, meditating, praying, imploring for guidance on this path he was about to embark upon. And hoped to drag the captain onto. Actually, that serenity was a mite precarious. But, then, wasn’t serenity always precarious? … you do not know the path of the wind… And the path ahead was always lost in the uncertainty of the future. Always and eternally hidden from view…

Past the main cluster of the Sanctuary’s buildings, across an open lawn, through a small grove of olive trees, Book led the captain to a long, low outlying building--the most remote of the Sanctuary’s many structures. Leading the captain up to a cellar side door, Book opened it, starting down the stairs to another, very solid door--armor with a fine wood veneer. Unlocking it, Book pushed it open. It may have looked like oak but it kerthunked like a vault. As he stepped through the doorway, Book noticed Mal flinch at the sound.

Mal flanked Book for exactly three steps into the small antechamber before he stopped, frozen in his tracks. Book glanced around. The captain’s eyes had gone dark as they darted around. Oddly, Mal backed up slowly, staring around the--Book thought--innocuous room in a way that struck Book as being perilously close to panicked. He’d see the captain scared, worried, and nervous, but this reaction edged more toward the uncontrolled flashback attacks Mal had been having. But what had triggered it?

“Captain?” he said, trying to use his voice to pull the man back from the brink. “Are you all right?”

Shaking his head, still edging backwards toward the door, Mal said, “I ain’t goin’ into this place.”

Book looked around, puzzled. “What is it? What are you seeing?” The room was bare and featureless. Two doors led off the far end. Nothing else. Empty.

Mal had reached the stairs, almost tripping as he bumped backwards against the bottom step. He was breathing heavily. Book moved to his side, clasping his arm to try to steady him.

“It’s an Alliance place,” Mal said. “Detention. Or police.” He shook his head. “Something bad.”

Oh. Book understood. “Here,” he said to Mal gently. “Sit down.” The captain sank down onto the bottom step, in the open doorway to the outside. The breeze that came in was clean and fresh, the sunlight bright, both in contrast to the dank gloom of the underground chamber. Book eased himself down beside him.

“It was an Alliance facility,” Book said in a low, even voice. “But it hasn’t been for years. The brothers own it now. It’s part of the Sanctuary. It’s safe,” he added. Book suddenly wondered how River would react to this building. And if Simon would permit him to find out.

Mal seemed to take that in. He gave Book a long, studying look--again, measuring and weighing. Book sat quietly and let the captain work though his reaction himself. Part of Mal’s reaction was wholly reasoned analysis, Book decided, but part came from the lingering effects of what had been done to him on Harken’s cruiser--one of the very things Book had wanted to draw Mal down into this place to try to resolve.

“During the war,” Book explained in soothing tones, “there was a small, rather secret, Alliance facility here, bordering on the Sanctuary. We were never sure exactly what took place here, but I suspect you’re correct in saying it was either police or detention of some sort. Afterwards, it was abandoned and my Order acquired it, removed the fences, changed some parts, altered the building’s appearance, and incorporated it into the Sanctuary grounds. It’s safe,” he repeated as Mal clearly was still not convinced.

“What was it made you think it was Alliance?” Book asked, hoping to get the captain to talk, to reason it out.

Mal shook himself. “Uh… I dunno.” He still appeared lost in the reaction he’d had to this place.

Frowning, Book asked, “But you’ve never been in a facility like this, have you? I mean, from your service record…”

“Everything ain’t in there, Preacher,” Mal cut in. Book watched him force himself to steady down. The captain glanced up, peering into the antechamber. “Weren’t all straight-up fights and big-ass battles. More’n a few times we got dropped down behind the lines--just a small unit--to play at hit-n-run raids.”

“Guerrilla fighting,” Book said. “Huh.” Good, he thought. Somehow, without having reasoned it out, Book had suspected that the captain’s and Zoe’s ease with small-scale and clandestine operations had more of a base to it than being a minor part of a massive infantry unit could explain.

“Yeah,” Mal said. “Mostly just trying to discombobulate the Feds, soften them up before major offensives, but a couple times we was getting the locals organized into the fight. Them as favored the Independent leaning but had the Alliance’s boot stomped too tight down on their necks to do a gorram thing about it.” Mal chuckled bitterly. “All worked out real 他妈的 well.”

“Sometimes it’s the effort that counts.”

“That’s what losers say,” Mal said. He tossed a crooked grin at Book. “But it was damned fun at the time. Mostly.”

Book watched the captain stare off into the underground chamber again, his expression distant; seeing another place, another time. Mal went on, “One time, though, one world… couldn’t even say for sure where or when… Um… locals had been raising a ruckus, hittin’ at the Feds. They got put down. Hard. We, um… we raided a place. Like this. It was bad.”

Though Mal said ‘it was bad’ without inflection, it struck Book that simple statement from this man who had seen so much that redefined how bad bad could be, said much. “So, when you saw this place…?” Book trailed off, but in a nudging way.

Mal swallowed and closed his eyes. “Well, them as we got out… let’s just say it would have been kinder if we hadn’t. But we gave back as good as we got and… uh, well, that’s a little troubling too, the things we done to them Feds. There was some serious repenting afterwards.” He let out a heavy sigh. “So, this place, it’s uh… I dunno,” he repeated. “The shape. The smell. The feeling… Gorramit!” He buried his face in his hands and breathed heavily for a minute. “For a minute there it was like stepping right back through time. This is part of the 他妈的 going crazy. Like River.”

Book nodded slowly. “Yes,” he said. “It is like River.”

That got Mal’s attention. His head snapped up and his eyes locked onto Book. “Huh?”

“The drug,” Book said, “that was given you on Harken’s cruiser… the truth drug…” He hesitated, then went on, “I know you’re familiar with it, what it does, used it on a spy yourself during the war… but that was a lot of years ago. But, did it strike you as at all wrong--what it did to you? How you reacted?”

Mal scowled. Book watched him close his eyes in concentration. “Well, yeah. I sure as hell thought everything they did to me was wrong, but you mean the drug. The way it felt. What it did.” Mal said slowly. Book nodded. “Yeah. It did seem odd,” Mal went on, “but it’s hard to say… I ain’t no expert. And I was so tangled… It knocked me on my ass. Made me real sick. But I reckoned that was the counteragent messing me up so bad.”

“Partly,” Book said. “Or so I believe. The counteragent I acquired apparently was only partially effective against the exact drug used on you, and may in fact have caused some adverse reactions of its own. You see, Captain, they haven’t quit working on the formula, since the war ended. Making it more effective. Making it do more things. Making variations. Chemically forcing certain reactions, certain behaviors.”

Mal’s eyes widened at that. “Sonuvabitch. River. You did mean it. That lil’ girl was a part of their experimentin’ right along those very lines.”

Book nodded. “Only taken to a far greater extreme than what was done to you.” With a scowl, he added, “Maybe not experimenting. Maybe completion.”

“Completion of what?” Mal asked.

* * *

Mal stared at Book. It was a helluva lot better than staring at this eerie-ass place the preacher had led him. Fingering the little pill bottle in his pocket, Mal wondered if he ought to pop another of Simon’s little smoothers. 他妈的 asshole Simon. Slipped him anti-psychotics. Well, the damn doctor’d tagged him as psychotic from day one, hadn’t he? Now he just had the medical evidence to back that notion.

Closing his eyes, he propped his elbows on his knees and rubbed his temples. His grip on this very moment felt razor thin and that was all manner of disturbing to him. Once upon a time he’d sat amidst golden leaves flickering with sunlight and shadow, with the puritest gal in the ‘verse beside him, on the bestest damned world ever made by the hand of God, and remade by the hand of man, and saw a future shiny as all get out. For just that littlest moment time didn’t mean anything. Everything inside and out was warm, and love-filled, and… complete.

Dust and ashes now. All of it. Shattered into pieces, never to be whole again.

And everything from that moment to this was hard and bloody and violent.

“Everything I feel, everything I touch… Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that… knowing what I've lost…” The voice in his head whispered. Didn’t know if he whispered it out loud.

The golden leaves brightened in the increasing sunlight. Brighter and hotter. The leaves blackened… crisping… until they ignited… Leave but never left. All the ones gone but still with him walking past. Burnt and blackened. Others. Marching past. Bloodied and torn… Down the stairs, into the chamber. Ghost after ghost. There wasn’t enough room for them all. Not near enough room. It’s getting very crowded in…

“Captain!”

…here. Dark and gloom and just an empty place in the here and now and Shepherd Book had him by the arm shaking him and the man looked to be positively unsettled every which way he could be and there was no blood and no ashes and no ghosts lookin’ at him accusingly and askin’ why he was still breathing and they weren’t and no nothing and it don’t mean what you think and none of it means a damn…

“Captain!”

“No touching!” Mal jerked away. He took a shuddering breath. “What the hell…?”

Book stared at him. No calm preacheryness in the man’s face now. What was it? Sort of a dark, smoldering anger. At him? No. Not at him, Mal realized, at them what done this to him.

“It’s getting worse, isn’t it?” Book asked softly.

Mal looked away. “Kinda fucking obvious, ain’t it?” he snapped. He yanked out the bottle of pills, shook one out--didn’t bother to break it in half, just swallowed it down whole.

“I thought you were on the mend,” the Shepherd said mournfully. “Your system must be breaking the drug down into different components, metabolizing them differently, rather than…”

“If I want a gorram medical lecture I’ll talk to our asshole doctor,” Mal started, then stopped, closing his eyes and gritting his teeth. “I’m sorry,” he said tersely, not looking at the preacher. “I know you’re trying to help. But I ain’t…” He hesitated. “I’m just figuring out there’s a big damned difference between everyone else thinkin’ you’re crazy and thinkin’ it your ownself. My ownself.” He shivered and stared into the chamber. Empty.

Shepherd Book then shocked Mal by letting out a string of cussing worthy of the badest of the soldiers and outlaws Mal had ever known. Mal listened with admiration, not least of which was inspired by the fact that the preacher went on a good minute or more, never repeated himself, yet never once crossed the line into blaspheming.

“Damn, Preacher,” Mal said, with a sincere grin on his face once Book had wound down. “That was impressive. And scary… that, uh, you’d do that kind of cussing on my account, rather--you know--than at me.”

With a chuckle, Book said, “Well, a little was at you.” Book stood, staring down at Mal. “Stand up, Captain,” he said in what was clearly and distinctly a command. “You are going to talk to our… doctor.” Mal’s lips twitched slightly at Book’s letting the modifier drop unspoken into his pause. “And cooperate with whatever testing and treatments are needed to get you over this.”

Mal cast a wary glance over the dim chamber, but it remained empty and featureless. The smoothers kicking in, he reckoned. He studied the two doors at the far end of the room. Some vague recollection of a story with two doors to choose from came to mind. Couldn’t recall the details, but it seemed that neither choice was like to lead to puppies and rainbows.

* * *

Simon followed the brother who’d come to fetch him with a growing sense of apprehension. Details had not been forthcoming from the man, but from the materials he was told to gather and bring, Simon knew something must be wrong with the captain. He hadn’t heard any gunfire. Did the shepherds keep swords around? Trust it to Mal Reynolds to get himself into trouble in a religious sanctuary, Simon thought wryly.

“Holy mother of…” Simon murmured as he stepped through the door the brother held open for him. He hadn’t been to this outlying building of the Sanctuary during his stay here; had barely even noticed it. Now he wished he had. Wished it most sincerely. Below it, behind a series of locked doors, Simon now understood another part of the mystery of this place Book had brought them to. Understood, yet also didn’t understand. Mysteries within mysteries.

Simon ran his hand over a long countertop as he took in the equipment in the long, narrow room. A lab. A quite decently equipped lab, and no mistaking. His lips twitched at the ornate woodwork and religious decor twined with the sterile lines of medical equipment.

“Doctor.” Book’s low voice pulled Simon’s attention from his covetous examination of the lab.

“Book. Captain,” Simon said. He hadn’t noticed them sitting down in an alcove at the far end of the long room in a pair of carved wooden chairs flanking a small table. Mal didn’t look up. He had an elbow propped on the table with his head resting in his hand. Simon couldn’t recall ever seeing him look less captainy. He appeared half-sick and more than a little scared.

Forcing himself into a mode of professionally detached calm, Simon hurried without hurrying to the alcove. Seeing the captain appear so uncertain made Simon uneasy at a core level that surprised him. Simon shoved that aside.

“Captain?” Simon tried to get his attention so he could begin to diagnose the situation. No blood. No sign of injury.

Without looking up, Mal said dully, “You were keen to do more tests on me, Doctor. Go ahead.”

Simon glanced toward Book, who gave him a solemn nod. That’s why the brother who came for him had instructed Simon to bring the captain’s last blood samples and the results of the analysis Simon had done on them.

“I need more information,” Simon said briskly even as he moved to set up to take a blood sample. The brother who’d accompanied him moved smoothly and silently, activating equipment, laying out supplies. The perfect assistant, anticipating Simon’s needs.

The captain said nothing, just cooperated with an distant lack of involvement in anything Simon directed him to do. Book filled Simon in on the captain’s condition in coolly analytical terms. He also told Simon about the drugs--the truth drug and the counteragent, as well as their supposed relationship to Blue Sun and River’s condition.

Simon’s eyes widened more than once, not only at the information and theories Book presented, but at the need-to-know information Book was giving him that suggested not only was the Shepherd far more than a mere preacher-with-an-interesting-past, but both Book and the captain were both more involved with, and connected to, the sort of underground organization that had helped Simon, himself, free River from the Academy. Had they…? How long…?

Circuits in Simon’s brain burned hot and fast as he processed all the information. That very first day on Serenity when Simon had spilled his tale of getting River out… Neither Book nor the captain--nor Zoe--had so much as twitched at his mention of the underground. Had the lack of reaction been telling in itself? So many secrets concealed.

The captain’s reasons for keeping he and River on Serenity… Needed a medic? Or was it for River, and Simon was just the excuse? And why had Book picked Serenity? On that particular day? And stayed with the ship all this time?

Simon’s head spun a touch but he shoved all the worries to one side and concentrated on the issue at hand. Book was telling him that the captain’s condition might hold keys to diagnosing and helping River. Finally Mal spoke up, reciting in a low monotone what had happened to him on the cruiser, and each type of reaction he’d been having since. The contorted, sickened, initial reaction to the drug. The fight against the forced compulsion. Hallucinations. Memory gaps. Simon filled in for himself the extreme reaction Mal had to a standard sedative. Then the residual effects. Altered memories. Flashbacks. Now evolving into something more, something different.

“I know what post-traumatic stress flashbacks are like, Doctor,” Mal said blandly, still not looking up. Two surprises for Simon--one, that the captain knew and would use that terminology for the syndrome, and, two, that he would acknowledge himself as having had it. Simon could see that the smoother was all that was making this possible for him to discuss at all.

“These ain’t it,” Mal went on. “Not no more. It’s more like…” He stared off into an unseen distance for a moment. “It’s… um… confused,” he muttered. Simon held still and waited. “I remember things. Like I’m still there. Stepped through time. I remember everything. I remember too much, and... some of it's…”

A small sound of shock escaped Simon before his cloak of professional detachment could stop it. Mal glanced up at him for the first time. With an icy chill running down his spine, Simon finished what the captain was saying, “…made up, and some of it can't be quantified, and there's secrets. Is that what you were going to say, Captain?”

“Something like that,” Mal murmured, staring a question mark at Simon.

“Tell me, Captain. Have you found yourself…”

“Reading minds?”

Another chill swept over Simon. “Uh huh?” was all he could manage. Mal snorted. Okay, the problems hadn’t knocked all smartass out of the captain. Simon scowled.

“No, Doctor. No mind reading. Me, at least. But it sure as hell seemed like you did some just then,” Mal said.

Simon turned away and studied the testing materials. “No. I was quoting River.” He met Mal’s eyes. “And so were you.”

“Well, that’s all manner of creepifying,” Mal commented unnecessarily. A bit of a given, at this juncture, Simon thought.

“‘Stepped through time,’” Book injected softly, repeating the captain’s words. He stared off into space thoughtfully, toying with his moustache. “What if River isn’t really reading minds so much as reading--” he shrugged “--time?” Book looked at both of them. “What if the captain wasn’t quoting River a moment ago, but River--instead--was quoting the captain, only in advance.” Book turned to Mal. “I recall River gave you something to take with you on the Blue Sun job…”

“Yeah. Little gadget. River said to keep it with me on the job. Just a bit of Blue Sun advertising crap. But the battery out of it saved our asses there in the vault,” Mal said. “River had that figured.”

“Mmmm…” Book chewed the corner of his moustache. “I don’t know of anyone’s mind she could have read the need for that out of. Do you? Not mind reading. Seeing the future.”

“Not a psychic,” Simon said slowly, “a seer?” He just didn’t believe any of this, mind reading or seeing the future. There was simply no quantifiable evidence to support any of these ideas. And yet… Quantum phenomena? They dealt with variable time constantly while traversing the stars, though he doubted any of them ever thought about it. They just pointed the ship and made it ‘go’, as natural as artificial gravity. Altered time in that regard was quantifiable. Hmmm… If a human mind could…

“Prophet,” Book said, having apparently not followed Simon’s unspoken thought-track.

“Witch,” Mal put in darkly. Simon and Book stared at him. Mal shrugged. “Them folks on Jiangyin called it.” He glanced over at Book. “Like they run across some like her before?”

Superstitious nonsense, Simon thought. “They were ignorant peasants using the Bible to justify their own lunacy,” he said sharply before he considered how that sounded in this religious setting.

“What, exactly, did they say, Doctor?” Mal asked.

Trying to take the edge off his words, Simon stumbled a bit, recalling the quotation, “Um… they shall be among the people. Speaking truths and… No, and they shall speak truths and whisper secrets, and, uh…”

“That ain’t from the Bible,” Mal said. At Simon’s startled glance he looked down and away, muttering sullenly, “Well, it ain’t.”

More shocks and surprises, Simon thought. Am I getting numb to them yet? Captain Reynolds speaking authoritatively about the content of the Bible? And Shepherd Book nodding agreement?

“At least not any commonly recognized standard editions,” Book said.

“So they rewrote their edition to suit themselves,” Simon said. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Or someone rewrote it for ‘em,” Mal commented. “Think on them words and see if it don’t describe River and Blue Sun and them creepy blue hand fellas?”

“You’re making it sound like a conspiracy,” Simon said.

“Yeah,” Mal said judiciously, “just paranoid. Not like anyone in the ‘verse would really coax brilliant little girls to a secret school, cut on their brains, turn them into time-mind-reading witches all whilst hiding inside a big ol’ corporation selling t-shirts and soda pop. Right?”

The captain must be feeling better. Simon’s frown turned into a chuckle. “Okay. You convinced me. I can live with being paranoid.” He cocked a brow at Book and Mal. “After all, they really are after me.”

* * *

At least the doc’s drugs were holding the weirdities at bay, Mal thought as he submitted to whateverthehell it was scanner Simon used to see inside his skull. Gorram gadget weren’t exactly like that whatchathingie on Ariel he’d been so keen to get River into, but Simon said it would give him some info to compare. Whatever it 他妈的 took to rebury the ghosts in his head, Mal was willing to do.

“Let’s leave them to work,” Book said quietly as Simon concluded the last test. The doctor and the brother were already engrossed in their work; didn’t notice them leave.

From one door, through another. Place was a gorram maze. A puzzle place with another secret hidden behind each door. What the hell kind of monastery was this? Mal cast a sidelong glance at Shepherd Book.

“So, Preacher,” Mal started as Book led him into a rich-looking library room with a long wooden table stretching down the center, “seems we started this little palaver to get to the bottom of your secrets, not mine. What say we return to our original intent now?”

Book smiled at him, reached to one of the bookshelves and, in a way Mal had thought didn’t exist outside of Cortex dramaplays, swung the bookcase outwards, revealing an armored door.

“Sonuvabitch,” Mal said. The crawlies within started to battle the smoothers. Mal drew in a sharp breath.

“Steady,” Book said low. He grinned at Mal. “This secret you’ll like.”

The armored door moved aside to show a long stone stairway descending into the earth. Mal didn’t think he so much liked it yet. Pretty fair to say he didn’t like it at all so far. Book started down, Mal following, his hand going automatically to his non-existent gun.

As the preacher stepped off the final step lights came on in the underground chamber.

“他妈的!” Mal breathed, taking in the sight. Rack after rack, row after row, crate after crate, stretching out before him… weapons. Rifles, shotguns, handguns of every shape and size. A row of Callahans that would have had Jayne drooling… or pouting jealously for Vera. Beyond the more conventional weapons… Mal’s jaw dropped. At a loss for any coherent words, he spent a moment cussing. It was nowhere near as poetical as the preacher’s round of cussing, but it was sincere.

“Them’s military rifles.” Mal pointed. “Independent issue.” Another rack. “Alliance issue. If we had weapons like this…”

“Wanna?”

Mal stared at Book. “Huh?”

“You need to replace the weapons that were confiscated.” Book shrugged. “Store’s open.”

Blinking, Mal studied Book. The man was so cool it almost hurt his teeth to look at him. “Some of them guns are illegal,” Mal commented, watching Book closely.

“And that concerns you?”

“And all my money’s illegal. 他妈的. You’re offering to sell me illegal weapons bought with stolen platinum?” Mal continued. He jabbed a finger toward the racks of weapons. “Them ain’t plowshares, Preacher.”

With a chuckle, Book said, “Yet the offer stands.”

Trying to wrap his head around this peculiar turn of events--and recent events had been gorram well redefining the word ‘peculiar’ every which way--Mal wondered if maybe he’d gone off that cliff at last and this was just some weird crazy-time delusion he was stuck in. What color was that pill he swallowed? Any rabbits about?

“Well, I ain’t gonna say ‘no’,” Mal managed at last. “I got the notion these preacher-guns are like to be pretty damned untraceable.”

“That is a fact,” Book said coolly. “Let’s go back on upstairs and talk about it.”

“Talk about a lot of damned things,” Mal muttered as he climbed back up the steps.

Hidden armored doors resealed, and bookcase back in place, Mal sprawled in one of the chairs at the side of the long table trying to ignore the uneasy sensation that the wall behind him might conceal a door. Book, he noticed, took a seat at the head of the table. Now didn’t that just say something, Mal thought.

“Enough with the freaky-ass surprises and mysteries, Preacher. Just tell me on out straight, what’s going on and who the hell are you?” Mal ordered.

Book smiled and sighed. “I am just what you see--a Shepherd. And I was just what you thought--a cop. Good. And bad.”

“Only that ain’t all. What about you knowin’ Independents’ military codes, and the underground recognition stuff?” Mal kept focused on him, probing for truths and lies.

“Did you look around here at all? Talk to any of the brothers?” Book asked.

“No.” Mal said, staring. Preacher knew he’d avoided the religiousness.

“If you had,” Book said lightly. “It’s possible you might have recognized a face or two.”

A wariness began crawling over Mal and it had nothing to do with drugs or blue hands. “Huh?”

“Some of the brothers here were in a few of the same places you were, at the same times. You might have seen them… beside you in a trench, or--” he shrugged “--in your gunsights.”

Mal let out a long breath.

“Some feel the calling young,” Book went on, “and step into the life of a Shepherd from the first moment they’re able. But others--in our Order, most--come to it later. They have a revelation of mind, of spirit, and seek to change who and what they are. The war--your war--brought many to us, broken in every way imaginable. Some came seeking God. Many came just seeking to hide, from themselves and the things they’d done and become. We healed them. God healed them.”

Book turned and fixed a laden smile on Mal. “They brought with them their hurts, their pains, their traumas.” He lifted an eyebrow. “But they also brought with them their knowledge. And their skills. And their connections.” Book studied Mal quizzically. “Tell me, Captain. Have you ever heard of the Knights Templar?”

Part 35: The Worthier Part

COMMENTS

Monday, December 20, 2004 12:07 PM

HOTPOINT


The Templars? Guess they traded up from swords over the centuries :-)

Nice... very nice

Monday, December 20, 2004 12:38 PM

RELFEXIVE


Jeepers!

Monday, December 20, 2004 12:58 PM

JEBBYPAL


wow!!!!! Such a great holiday present to see another chapter.

:)

Monday, December 20, 2004 1:37 PM

AMDOBELL


Absolutely fabulous! I loved the way you put this whole story together and the revelations about Book are just stunningly brought into the open. I do feel sorry for Mal though with all the tinkering the Alliance have done to his brain, River's too. Kudos, cannot wait for the next part! Very shiny Christmas gift, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 3:49 AM

KISPEXI2


Oh my ...

So much going on here I don't know where to start! Utterly convinced by the personal and psychological revelations and head-spinning with the science. What you're doing with Book - AMAZING! And totally believable.

Mal and River and the time-jumping - an excellent premise, well-played.

And I loved the prickliness between Mal and Simon. It added a bit of humour, but also an undercurrent of even more darkness when it related back to River.

And I liked "Though Book led the way, the captain had an interesting way of not quite following." Ain't that the truth?!

The wait for this chapter was well worth it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 7:49 AM

SOULOFSERENITY


This story is just so good. Everything about the drug that was used on Mal and how it relates to River, and Book's secret, and the Knights Templar...

I can't wait for more!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 10:27 AM

ARTSHIPS


Get the feeling we're close to crossing over the line into surreal. But that's what "whole world turned on its ear" feels like. Good story. Don't stop!

Friday, December 31, 2004 1:04 AM

CASTIRONJACK


What is Book so afraid of?

Is he afraid of actually breaking the captain or of failing him?

Or of revealing himself completely...

(Which, of course, he hasn't quite...)

It's a very patient and ingenious way of exposing the characters to what Blue Sun may or may not be. Slipping us into the conspiracy one step at a time so that not only we believe it, but so that the characters start to come around too.

Now will the news need to be recieved by the rest of the crew or will Simon, Mal, and Book keep their little discoveries to themselves?

The best answers lead to the most infuriating questions, don't they?

Keep flyin'


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Blue Sun Job--A Sequel: It Means a Thing
Post-Serenity, Mal & Zoe share a moment, or two. And then some. Story takes place in the context of the "Blue Sun Job" scenario. COMPLETE One-er.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 39: Into the Black
The conclusion of the Blue Sun Job.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 38: Shadow
Mal & Zoe's past smashes into the present. Everyone on the crew gets an earful, especially Wash.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 37: Plan B
There's a dead Shepherd on the floor, a bunch of angry live ones, and Mal, Zoe, and Simon in their midst.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 36: One Down
Return of the "Blue Sun Job"! First of the last four chapters of this story.

Blue Sun Job, Part 35: The Worthier Part
Book's more nefarious, Mal's less crazy, and Zoe is dangerously pissed.

Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books...
Book's nefarious. Mal's crazy. And Simon is bewildered.

Blue Sun Job, Part 33: Light and Shadow
Mal has just had his big tell-all session with Book concerning his and Zoe's history. Now landed at the Shepherd's Sanctuary, they have to deal with the fallout and with Book's mysterious past and plans.

Blue Sun Job, Part 32: Revelations
Mal and Book talk about some Big Damned Things.

Blue Sun Job, Part 31: The Heart of the Matter
Tales & stories come out into the open--more than a little dark. But not to worry, Jayne, the philosopher, also explains women.