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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
"While the crews of Enterprise and Serenity work together to come up with a plan, the Captain gets help from a most unwelcome source."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1985 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "MAKING PLANS"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: No specific pairing.
STATUS: New. SEQUEL to "GILDED CAGE".
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "While the crews of Enterprise and Serenity work
together to come up with a plan, the Captain gets help from a
most unexpected source."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
'Enterprise' and its' characters are the property of 'Paramount'.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
A "Firefly"/"Enterprise" story
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
EN ROUTE TO PERSEPHONE
Lord Warwick frowned back at Inara over the cortex. She easily read the depth of his concern and his uncertainty as to whether or not this venture would succeed. "I have already made a few discreet enquiries." He began. Inara was about to thank him but he held up a hand and she remained silent. She was, after all, the pettitioner. "Naturally there is no official word on the whereabouts of your Captain."
Inara did not correct his assumption that he was her anything. "What did you find out?"
A tiny sigh escaped him like steam venting. "Precious little." She heard the regret in his voice. He paused, solemn eyes considering her. He knew she cared very deeply for the impulsive young Captain even if she chose to hide it behind her Companion's mask. He had been reading people's body language since before she was born. "If I did not know better Inara I would have to conclude that he was no longer on this planet. He paused heavily watching her reaction then leaned forward on his desk. His hands folded on the table top. "If he is then there is only one place he can be. Atherton's private estate."
Inara knew the estate. Some sections of it more intimately than others. Silently she envisaged a schematic of the layout of the place. Already mapping the best way in. Ticking off the possible places Atherton might be holding Mal. She did not recall him having any dugeons but who knew what 'improvements' he had added since her last visit? At no time would she consider the possibility that he might already be dead. Captain Malcolm Reynolds had more lives than a cat. A fact for which she was inordinately grateful. Lord Warwick watched her and said nothing. This was her call. Despite his natural inclination towards detachment from the business affairs of others he found his curiosity piqued and began to understand why Inara had chosen this vessel and crew. He realised that as motley as Serenity's crew undoubtedly was, Inara Serra trusted them. Trust. A word that carried a wealth of meaning in any company. Inara trusted them and he, gentleman that he was, trusted Inara. Besides. The reckless trials and peregrinations of her gallant Captain both amused and drew him into that tight wary circle of friends. Not that he would ever admit his true reason for helping her. Lord Warwick was enjoying himself. Intrigued and wanting to see how they extricated themselves out of this current mess. On a more serious note lay Atherton's questionable actions. The opportunity to bring that smug dishonourable man to book would be a singular pleasure.
Yes. Thought Lord Warwick. This would prove interesting. If nothing else, by throwing her lot in with the Captain and his crew Inara Serra was assured of one thing above all others. She would not die of boredom.
THE WING ESTATE
The Captain watched Atherton in wary silence. The man was pacing as he talked, the measured steps helping him to sort through his thoughts as he did so. "You present me with a most unique dilemna, Captain."
Mal wanted to keep silent but the need for information over rode his personal dislike in talking to the *wangba dan*. "How so?"
Atherton stopped by the head of the bed and kept eye contact with him. "I could just kill you, of course." He opined conversationally. "Or keep you here indefinitely until I either tired of you or you rot."
"Or," Said the Captain evenly. "You could do something really novel and noble and let me go."
A cold smile greeted his words. "That thought 'had' occurred to me." His emphasis on the past tense told Mal that it had been dismissed seconds later. "I could continue what Caleb Johnson started." He mused. His right hand delicately outlining the newly reattached ear making the Captain give an involuntary shudder.
He hated himself for reacting but could do nothing about his oversensitive nerve endings nor the images Atherton's touch sparked off in his head. He wanted to be sick. Biv watched silently. Atherton turned around and got himself a chair. Pulled it up to the bed and made himself comfortable. The smile on his face was not pleasant. He idly dragged a fingernail along the seal of healing scar tissue, his look daring the Captain to look away. Stubborn blue eyes bored holes in him but Atherton absorbed his impotent rage with glee. "Now, Captain, about those nightmares..."
A slight lift of the head was the only response Atherton gave him.
"You might want to reconsider this method of torture."
"I will have my pound of flesh, Captain. Or would you rather I cut you instead?"
"I'd rather you let me attend to a more pressing need."
For a moment Atherton looked blankly at him. Mercifully the distraction had caused his hand to pause, ending the infuriating dance of fingers against his tender skin. "What need is that?"
"I need to go to the toilet."
Atherton looked at him for a moment then laughed. Enjoyed seeing the flash of anger in Mal's eyes before he could hide it. "How do I know you're not just saying that to get me to release your manacles?"
"I give my word."
He cocked his head in amusement and chuckled lightly. The Captain was most entertaining. "I think not."
Mal gritted his teeth. "Atherton this is all kinds of embarrasin' but it ain't funny. Torture me if you must but give a man his dignity."
Something cold and hard flashed in Atherton's eyes. "Dignity?" He spat back. "What dignity did you give me you *chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo*? You humiliated me in front of all my peers and that is something that will cost you dear." For a moment the two men just glared at each other. Slowly Atherton Wing got a semblance of control back. As he calmed down a curious look flickered in his eyes. "I find it odd that you should be willing to withstand torture and any amount of physcial discomfort," He waved a hand towards the manacles holding Mal's arms above his head by way of example. "Yet you will beg to be allowed to relieve yourself." He paused thoughtfully. "Curious."
"Nothin' curious about it. I'm no ruttin' animal."
Atherton grinned then dropped his hand away from Mal's face and sat back in his chair. The Captain resisted the temptation to show how happy that made him. Happiness being such a relative thing and all and him not wanting to add to his captor's perverse notion of pleasure. "If I allow you to relieve yourself what will you give me in return?"
The Captain stared at him. He could not believe that Atherton wanted to barter for the right for him to go to the bathroom. How warped and twisted was this gorram piece of *gos se* anyway?
"I will make you a promise, Captain. I will do as you ask if you tell about your nightmares."
The Captain's eyes hardened when he realised that Atherton was serious. He sensed rather than saw Biv stiffen in the far corner. "*Ri ni!*" A rapid stream of invective spilled forth which his captor had a job following. Seeing that he did not understand the Captain repeated the insult in English. "I wouldn't give you the steam off my shit!"
Atherton grinned and stood up, then paused to lean over the Captain with mock regret. "Then I'll leave you to soil yourself, Captain. I'm sure that after a while you'll get used to the smell of stale urine. It will remind you of where you came from."
ENTERPRISE and SERENITY
It was kind of cramped inside the engine room but Kaylee was not complaining. Her eager face was only too happy to nod and smile at Commander Tucker and his team. Anything that would help Serenity had her full support. Lt Hess had looked at the Commander in shock when she saw the primative mechanical device. She was careful not to sound scathing or disparaging in front of the young mechanic who obviously thought this museum piece was something very special indeed. Trip hid a smile but Kaylee could see clear amusement dancing in his bright blue eyes. She had liked him right away. There was nothing cold or starchy about him. A good honest home boy with an easy going nature and a smile that blinded her. Toby Wiess shared a grin with her behind Lt Hess's back.
"Sir, this engine is pretty old. It could do with replacing."
Trip gave Kaylee a look to stall the indignant expression spreading over her face. "I don't think that'll be necessary, Anna." He drawled easily. "She just took a bit of a batterin'. Nothin' Starfleet's finest can't handle, right Toby?"
Kaylee wriggled closer. "You think you can fix her?"
The Chief Engineer smiled at her. "No think about it, Kaylee. First we're gonna remove the troublesome part then take it down to Main Engineerin'."
Kaylee frowned not liking the sound of that. Serenity's innards needed to stay inside her not be manhandled by them as didn't know her. "What ya wanna do that for?"
"We're gonna do better than try to fix it. We're gonna make ya a new one."
Her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. "You can do that?"
Danny laughed and even Lt Hess chuckled. "Why don't you come with us and see?"
Kaylee hesitated, her hand reaching out to touch the side of the ship she loved so much. It was no mere chunk of metal and moving parts to her. It was a living heartbeat. It kept them in the Black, safe, and was home and comfort to them all. Seemed wrong to up and leave her empty while they plundered the heart of her even if they only did so to put her right again. Trip seemed to sense the reason behind her reluctance. He jerked his head at the others. "Go and take this part with you. I wanna familiarise myself with the little lady."
At Lt Hess's expression he laughed lightly. "I'm talkin' about the engine, Anna. Remember? The heart of any ship?"
Lt Hess nodded and Toby had to put a hand over his mouth to stuff the guffaw back inside but Kaylee was not offended. She relaxed and let them do just that, her eyes flicking back to find the Chief Engineer watching her. "You didn't have to do that. I ain't no gorram baby."
"Never said ya were but I meant what I said. Now, ya gonna show me all the intertestin' things about this lady of yours or not? I ain't never been aboard a Firefly before, don't wanna miss a thing."
She nodded at his enthusiasm and felt her spirits rise, happiness personified. Pleased that he was as happy as she was to get dirty and grimey with grease familiarising himself with the moving parts as Kaylee named them and detailed each part's function. His hands had a quick intuitive grace which told her better than anything that he followed her with ease. Then her talk became more animated. The Chief Engineer and the Mechanic already firm friends.
Zoe and Captain Archer stood and waited for Inara to finish her conversation with Lord Warwick Harrow. Captain Archer had never been inside a shuttle like this before. He could not stop the surprise from showing on his face. It was not simply the fact that this was obviously an older class of vessel even in Serenity's 'verse it was the plush furnishings, the drapes, the rich colours of the fabrics that adorned the metal plating hiding the true nature of the shuttle from casual eyes. Only when they had gone into the cockpit had he realised this was in fact a real working craft. He watched Inara's fingers fly over the controls with an ease and familiarity that showed she was comfortable with this technology. Though it looked backwoods to him he was not about to criticise or engage in any one-upmanship. It was their fault this vessel had been damaged and in a very quick period of time he found himself impressed with the way her crew stuck together. He got the distinct impression that they had many colourful stories they could tell. First though they had two problems to solve. One he had handed over to his Chief Engineer. The other looked very risky.
"Miss Serra, perhaps you could tell me something about this Atherton Wing?"
She looked at him. Reluctant to impart too much. Zoe spoke before she had to think of a suitable response. "Atherton is rich, has his own estate, uses others to do his dirty work for him. He is part of the nobility on Persephone."
Captain Archer frowned. "Nobility?"
Inara nodded reluctantly. "Yes. As a Companion we have met a number of times and this should have been no different."
He cocked his head slightly. "But?"
She bit back a sigh. "Captain Reynolds took exception to Atherton's manner."
"In the middle of a ball." Inserted Wash, sounding impressed not horrified by that little fact. "Captain didn't like the way Atherton was manhandling Inara. Punched him and that's how they got into the duel."
Zoe shot him a 'shut up sweetie, you aren't helping' look.
"That is pretty much what happened." Agreed Inara. "I tried to tell Mal he didn't have to go through with it. There was a back way but he wouldn't back down. Even though he'd never held a sword before he was determined to defend my honour."
Wash and Zoe exchanged a look but said nothing. They had never heard this part before. Zoe cleared her throat a little. "How are we going to do this, Inara? I take it Atherton has guards? Security?"
She nodded. "Yes. The latest hi-tech systems."
"Do you know where on the estate he'll have the Captain?"
For a moment Inara did not speak. She was remembering something that she had shoved to the back of her mind like an aberration. Now she wondered if it was that at all or whether she had simply blinded herself to the hints that Atherton was not quite the gentleman he portrayed himself to be. It unsettled her to realise that Mal's quick assessment of the man was far more accurate than the one she had formed over several years. But then she saw him as a customer, a client. The Captain saw him without the social veneer. Took him as he found him. Had been offended on her behalf whether she wanted him to be or not. How was it he could see her so much more clearly than anyone else? And why did that unsettle her most of all?
She shook herself mentally at Zoe's prompt. "*Duibuqi*, I was trying to think." She paused a second. "To my knowledge there are no dungeons on the estate but he does have fortified rooms."
Captain Archer frowned. "Fortified rooms?"
She nodded. "Yes. Atherton liked the fashion from Earth-that-was of knights in castles and the whole code of chivalry."
"Pity he didn't embrace it in practice." Murmured Zoe darkly. Wash put his arm around her and drew her close. His warmth and comfort kept her bitterness in check.
"So you're saying there's no way in this 'fortified castle' of his?"
Inara looked hard at the Enterprise Captain. "No. I'm saying there is no 'easy' way inside but there is a way."
"If you have some schematics Inara I'm sure we can come up with a plan." Said Wash.
"I can do better than that."
They just stared at her, wondering what she had in mind. Inara fiddled slightly with her robe, the only sign that she felt any hint of nervousness about what she was going to propose.
"I'm going with you."
Only Captain Archer did not look shocked. At his shoulder Lt Reed and Sub-Commander T'Pol stood inside the open doorway of the shuttle and exchanged a look. To Lt Reed this whole thing seemed to be an exercise in futility and disaster. How did this rag-bag group of people expect to get inside a fortified building on some fancy estate installed with the latest in security with nothing but primative projectile weapons? He hesitated to speak but the perfectionist in him would not allow him to remain silent. Not when these people would be putting their very lives on the line. "How do you propose to get inside? Overcome their security?"
The look on the Companion's face was serene. Calm. Her hands now still lay quietly in her lap. Whatever decision she had been wrestling with had been made. "I will call on Atherton and ask to see him."
Zoe did not take her eyes off Inara. Knew she was absolutely serious and took the proposal as the start of a plan. She nodded, her expression grave. "Good. We'll go down and check the lay out of the place. Once you're inside see if you can leave a door open for us. I have a feeling once you arrive Atherton may try to move the Captain."
Inara and Zoe stared at Wash. Inara nodded. "What is it?"
"I hate to be the one to sound a note of caution but that *wangba dan* may be holding a grudge, Inara. Not so sure you should go in there alone."
"I agree." Said Captain Archer. All eyes now turned to him. "I know I don't know the people you're talking about but it seems as if this Atherton Wing didn't like the outcome of the duel."
"Captain humiliated him." Said Wash.
"I see, that would make him unlikely to welcome your attempts to free him."
"Oh," Said Inara in a cool, clear, calm voice. "I'm not going in to free the Captain."
Captain Archer looked at her in shock. Inara kept her expression serene and blank, giving nothing of her thoughts or feelings away. "I will be the distraction."
Biv waited until he was sure Atherton had gone. "I can help you, Captain."
The doctor smiled at the correction and nodded. "I am a doctor."
The Captain turned his head to look at him. "Don't tell me you palmed the key off Atherton?"
He shook his head in gentle regret. "No."
"Then I don't see how..."
He was interrupted. "It may be embarrassing Mal but at least it will ease your distress."
There was a long cautious pause. "What you thinkin', Biv?"
"I can assist you."
"Help you to urinate."
"Bu ke neng*!" The Captain's eyes widened. "I know how to gorram do that. Don't need no schoolin'."
"That's not what I meant. I can fetch a bottle for you."
Mal flushed. "No ruttin' way!"
"Would you rather wet yourself, Captain? Give Atherton the pleasure of humiliating you?"
Their eyes met and the Captain realised there really was no other sensible alternative but he hated the thought of having to let another see to his needs like this.
"I would of course wear gloves." Said the doctor gently.
It took a few moments but the Captain nodded, his eyes going dull for a moment. "Sorry you got dragged into this, Biv. How you intend we do this?"
Biv kept his face straight. "As efficiently as possible."
Mal cracked a small smile then was serious again. He gave the doctor a nod and watched him leave. A couple of minutes later he returned with a plastic urine bottle. The Captain watched him put on a pair of thin surgical gloves. Tried to relax but it was hard. He turned his head and looked up at the ceiling. Biv did not say anything but got to work undoing the buttons of his flies, working quickly to slide the neck of the bottle over him then hold it in place. The Captain closed his eyes, a deep flush going up his neck. He was surprised when the doctor's free hand tapped his stomach.
"Relax, Mal, and just go to the toilet."
"Easy for you to say." He growled back.
There was a pause. "Do you want me to help you?"
The Captain did not open his eyes. He was concentrating. "No."
"Just imagine running water. A river, a fast moving tide, whatever comes to mind."
After a few seconds the Captain was able to do what was needed. He sighed with relief but could not hide his embarrassment. He kept his eyes closed while the doctor removed the bottle then got a cloth to make sure he was dry before doing him up again and getting rid of the offending material. When he returned he had washed his hands and disposed of the gloves. The Captain opened his eyes and turned to look at him. "You have to do this kind of thing often for Atherton?"
Biv shook his head. "No."
It was only then that the Captain remembered the door had not been locked. "Biv, how come Atherton didn't lock the door?"
The man looked uncomfortable and would not look at him. "I told you, I'm not a prisoner."
"He locked it before." A long silence stretched between them. The Captain's voice became softer. "What's really going on here, Biv?"
"He wants his pound of flesh."
"So he said."
"He's going to beat you."
That surprised him. "Beat me?"
Biv nodded. "It's a cruel wicked thing, Mal. Sharp like a blade."
"What's he hope to accomplish, Biv? I'm already his prisoner. Don't know no secrets to speak of."
He shook his head and laid a hand over the silver cross resting on the Captain's chest. He had not actually noticed it was there until then. "He wanted your nightmares, Mal. You resisted him and he can't stand that. Makes him feel weaker than you. So he'll try to break you. Hurt you any way he can."
"The man's a gorram fool."
"Yes, but a fool with the power to do whatever he wants. This thing with not letting you urinate is just his way of pressing home a point."
"What happens if he doesn't get what he wants?"
"He'll kill you."
"Don't make sense. He could have done that and saved the song and dance."
For a moment deep sad eyes gazed into his. The grey depths looked like distant clouds full of rain. A heart full of sorrow. The old as well as the new. "He enjoys this, Mal." He said quietly.
The Captain wanted to reassure him. "Maybe it won't be so bad."
"You're wrong, *pengyou*." Then he quietly unbuttoned his shirt and began to remove it. Mal gave him a quizzical look. Without speaking Biv turned around until his back was facing the Captain. A long string of softly whispered swear words flowed from the Captain's shocked lips. Cut deep into the man's flesh were long whip cuts, many re-cutting the same wounds over and over again.
"*Tian Yehsoo*!" What hurt the Captain most was that some of the cuts were still weeping blood. "Biv, look at me."
The doctor could not will himself to move for shame.
"Biv? *Qing*, turn around."
Slowly he turned and raised a tear stained face to look the Captain in the eye. "Why the gorram didn't you tell me?" He whispered.
"You would have been angry. It could have cost you your life."
"And you?" Hissed Mal with barely surpressed rage. "What did it cost you?"
"It doesn't matter about me."
"*Gou pi!* It matters, if not to you then to me, *dong ma*? Don't you ever act as if you don't matter, Biv. I get out of here I'm gonna tear that gorram excuse for a human being apart with my bare hands!"
Silently Biv put his shirt back on. Carefully did up the buttons, his head hanging down staring at the floor between his feet. Listening to the tide of curses rolling off Mal's tongue and amazed that anyone could feel so strongly about the suffering of another. Especially someone who to all intents and purposes was his gaoler. He looked up when the litany stopped and walked over to the bed. Mal wished he had some words of comfort to give but he didn't. Wished he had Simon's fancy way with words or Wash's compassion. He could promise he would get the man out of here but he couldn't do that. Maybe after today he would be dead his own self but he wanted Biv to get out. Perhaps find Serenity. They would look after him. Give the old man a home. Biv shook his head sadly at the Captain. For the second time since he had met him Mal wondered if Biv could read his thoughts. "Not gonna happen, Mal. I'm not leaving."
It made him want to cry. That a man could give up so thoroughly and allow the evil to have its' way was anathema to him. Biv saw the pain in his eyes and cradled the palm of his hand against Mal's cheek. A look of wonder on his face. "Don't grieve for me, Mal. I chose this life."
"No, no you didn't."
"Is so." He paused. "You have to forget about me."
Mal bit back a thick tide of rising emotion. Took a moment to steel himself. "Not gonna happen. Whether you want it or not Biv, I ever get out of this place I'm takin' you with me. Argue all you want, I ain't leavin' you behind."
"*Zhe bing bu huai*"
The Captain's voice was quiet but firm. Absolutely no give in it at all. "Not buying that *gos se*, doc. And when my people find out what they did to you neither will they."
Just then a sound made them both look towards the door. Framed in the doorway stood Atherton Wing. A long curious whip of thin white bone clutched in his hands. A slow deadly smile oozed across his handsome face. "No one's coming for you, Captain. Even if they were there would be precious little left for them to rescue by the time they got here."
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo*? = animal fucking bastard *gos se* = crap *ri ni* = screw you
*duibuqi* = sorry *wangba dan* = bastard *shenme* = what *pengyou* = friend
*gou pi* = bullshit *dong ma* = understand *bushi* = not so *zhu bing bu huai* = It's not so bad *tien Yehsoo* = sweet Jesus *qing* = please
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