BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

FIGHTON4GOD

"Relativity" - Part One
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Part One of Three. When Mal and crew get an unwanted partner in crime, some things don't go as planned.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2035    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Relativity

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Part Two

Part Three

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Acknowledgements and Scapegoats

Thank you to Joss Whedon for creating the magnificent stroke of creative genius that is Firefly, and thank you to the cast and crew for making it come alive for all of us Browncoats. Next, thank you to my cousin, Katrina, for all her support and proofreading. Her creative input and edits were invaluable. This story is also her fault. She was the one that made me put my ideas onto an actual typed document. This is not my fault, I only supplied the ideas and wrote the gorram thing. But actually, I couldn’t have written this without my cousin. A big thank you to my cousin, my favorite Browncoat, for helping me with every line of this story. She helped me perfect the story, caught my stupid typos, and gave me more encouragement than anyone could ever know what to do with. Thank you, Trina.

---

“Or I coul' jus' no' give the job to you, 'ow's tha'?” Badger stood up from his desk as he said the words.

Mal rubbed his eye roughly with the palm of his hand. He needed this confrontation like he needed a hole in the head. Serenity's last job from Badger didn't go . . . quite as planned. “Badger, I understand our business isn't always smooth, but we need this job.” The Captain's voice was not one of patience.

Badger let out a mocking laugh. As much as he liked to see Malcolm Reynolds begging for a job, he didn't want his latest cargo getting screwed up in some predicament that was bound to happen on the good ship Serenity. “Righ'. I'm jus' supposed to trus' you with new ca'go? No' likely.”

Mal threw a glance behind him to Zoe, Jayne keeping his eyes on Badger from behind Mal. Mal looked back at Badger. “So what'll it take to get the job?”

Badger had opened his mouth to answer when - “BADGER!” The voice sounded like it belonged to a female, and indeed it did. A girl looking to be about seventeen stalked into Badger's office, walking straight past Mal, Zoe, and Jayne so she could be at Badger's desk. She stopped in front of his desk and brought her hands down on it hard, producing a loud smack. The girl and Badger stood eye-to-eye now, being that they were about the same height. The girl may have even been a bit taller if they were both standing up completely straight. The girl was not too exquisitely dressed - in fact, she looked like she had thrown her outfit together with whatever she could find. Which wasn't exactly false, in any case. Too-big brown pants with a black belt holding them up adorned her lower half, the bottoms of the pants falling loosely over black combat boots. Her upper half was covered with a large white shirt. A huge black coat covered her upper half and hung down to about her knees, the coat open in the front. A brown strap was visible going diagonally across her chest if you looked at her from the front, though from another angle you could tell it was a strap that held a brown bag to her back. Auburn hair was tied loosely with a string at the nape of the girl's neck, and her dark green eyes looked impatient. “I need funds for repairs.”

Badger looked at the girl before laughing. “Repairs? For wha'?”

The girl stood straight and crossed her arms. “For my pet duck,” she retorted sarcastically. “Take a wild guess.”

“And why shoul' I give you fun's?” Badger shot right back, staring at the girl.

“Consider it pay in advance for my next job?” the girl asked with a sarcastic smile and a thumbs-up.

“No' a chance, Joey,” Badger said with a thumbs-down.

“Badger, would you stop being a penny-pincher and just lend me some money?” the girl asked, eyes flashing with irritation as she looked at Badger.

Badger came around the desk and put his hand on her shoulder, turning her around to face Mal, Zoe, and Jayne, who were all looking downright confused. “Jo, this's the crew of Seren'ty. Cap'n Malcolm Reynol's, this is Jo, ma' niece.”

Mal's eyes went just about the size of golf balls.

Jo looked at the three crew members, a smirk slowly spreading over her lips. “This is that crew that always screws with your jobs, isn't it?”

Badger looked at the crew then at Jo. “Tha’s them.” Badger smirked as if an idea had just wriggled its way inside his ear and into his devious brain. “Wha’ if you went with them for a job?” Jo, Mal, Zoe, and Jayne all looked at Badger as if he was a complete lunatic.

But Jo was the one to actually voice the opinion. “Are you crazy?” She stepped back from Badger so she could put her hands indignantly on her hips. “I don’t need a babysitter, Badger, I just need some money to fix my gorram ship!”

“And since you aren’ gettin’ money, I sugges’ you do wha’ your uncle says,” Badger responded, looking at Jo.

“Does this mean we get the job?” Mal asked, eyebrows going up.

Jo and Badger completely ignored Mal, Jo going ahead and saying, “What, you don’t trust me with my own jobs anymore?”

“I’s no’ like they’re babysi’in’ you . . . In fac’, i’ may be more ‘bout you babysi’in them.” Mal sent Badger a glare when Badger was looking at Jo.

Jo crossed her arms. “Even if we both got a cut, it wouldn’t be that big a cut.”

“I ’an give you a big job,” Badger said, crossing his arms in somewhat of a mocking fashion as he looked at Jo.

Jo and Mal exchanged a glance before Jo looked at Badger. “And this is the last time you make me work with someone?” Badger gave her a look that said his answer. “At least for a while?” Jo asked exasperatedly.

Badger thought a moment. “Jus’ ‘til your ship ge’s busted ag’in.”

Jo looked rather pissed about this, but she didn’t protest. As of now, her ship was broken, and no ship meant no jobs. She sighed. “I’ll agree if Reynolds agrees,” she said grudgingly.

Badger looked over at Mal with a waiting look. Mal looked at Zoe and Jayne. Jayne looked very apprehensive, while Zoe was eyeing Jo warily. Mal looked at Badger. “As long as we get the job.”

Badger nodded. “Good.” Badger went over around his desk and looked back at the four to tell them the job. He told them about coordinates to a planet with a new settlement on it. “I jus’ go’ word tha’ a settlemen’ was ‘it by bandits. The settlemen’ was new, so there shoul’ be some valuable ca’go lef’ from the se’lers. You people need to go an’ ge’ the good stuff, go’ it?” Mal and Jo nodded.

“You’re a douche, Uncle Badger,” Jo said before walking out of the den. Mal followed, Zoe and Jayne following.

“Have fun,” called Badger tauntingly after the four. He chuckled to himself as he sat down.

---

The four exited the den, Mal and Jo walking ahead of Zoe and Jayne. Jo and Mal had quite a few feet between them as if they didn’t want to walk too close to each other. The four of them walked silently before Jo spoke up. “The feeling’s mutual.”

Mal glanced over at her. “What feeling?”

“I don’t want to go, and you don’t want me to go. I feel that we should put that right up front.”

Mal had to admit she was right: neither of them liked the idea of working together. Mal jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “This is my first mate Zoe, and that’s Jayne.”

Jo glanced back at Zoe and Jayne. She looked at Jayne. “What do you do?”

“Shoot little girls,” Jayne said with one of his ugly lopsided smiles.

Jo looked him over. “But you don’t have any bullet holes in you . . .”

Jayne was silent a moment until the insult sunk in. “Why you little - !” His hands reached toward Jo’s throat, Jo dodging so she was on the other side of Mal.

Mal held his hand out to Jayne and threw a look at Jo. “Both of you, behave,” he scolded as Jo and Jayne threw death glares at each other. Mal nodded ahead of them. “There’s the ship, Jo,” he said wearily.

Jo looked ahead, eyebrows going up when she caught sight of Serenity. “Firefly class transport. Impressive.” Jo was about to walk right on up to the ship, but she stopped with a yelp when Mal grabbed the back of her bag and pulled her backwards. Jo stumbled and stepped away from him. “What in the ‘verse - ?”

“Yeah, I’ll need to know all the weapons you carry,” Mal said, crossing his arms as he looked at Jo.

Jo looked indignant as she crossed her arms. “Why should I show you my weapons?”

“Because it’s my ship you’re about to come on,” Mal answered, giving Jo a stern look. The two were engaged in an incensed staring match before Jo let out an exasperated groan.

The girl took her bag off and set it on the ground, taking a revolver out from inside her coat. She held it up for Mal to see. Mal gave her a look. Jo sighed and reached in her coat again, pulling out an auto pistol. She held it up as well for Mal to see. Another look from Mal. Jo glared at the Captain and transferred both guns to one hand. She reached down in her boot and pulled out a dagger, holding up the three weapons for Mal to see. Mal gave her one more look. Jo gave him a look right back. “Look, pal, unless you consider an encyclopedia a weapon, I suggest you back off.” She looked at Mal before putting her weapons back in their rightful places and slinging her bag over her shoulder.

Mal shook his head as he walked toward the ship, the other three following.

---

Mal pressed the button on the com as the four entered the cargo bay. “Will the crew please come to the cargo bay for a . . . meeting?” After a small amount of time, the crew filed into the cargo bay, looking profoundly perplexed.

Mal crossed his arms as he stood next to Jo, facing the crew. Zoe and Jayne stood off to one side. The other six crew members threw curious glances at Jo and at each other. Mal heaved a small sigh. “Guys, this is Jo. She'll be accompanying us on this job. She's . . .” He glanced over at Jo, who gave him a look. Mal looked back at the crew. “She's Badger's niece.”

By giving a delighted laugh, Kaylee broke the silence that had fallen over the crowd. She went over to Jo, taking her hand and shaking it vigorously. “Hi!” she said, a big grin covering the mechanic's face. “My name's Kaylee! I'm the mechanic!”

Jo looked rather taken aback, and her eyes were just a tad widened. “Um, I'm Jo,” she said slowly, arm still pumping up and down from Kaylee's handshake.

Kaylee's grin, if possible, got wider. She wrapped an arm around Jo's shoulders, turning her to face the rest of the crew. “That's Simon,” she said, pointing to Simon. “He's the ship's doctor.”

Simon stood in his spiffy attire and looked Jo over, a frown set heavily on his face. “Hello,” he said cautiously. Jo inclined her head the slightest bit at the doctor before Kaylee pivoted her toward another crew member.

Kaylee pointed to the next crew member and introduced, “This is Wash. He's the pilot.”

Wash's mouth was hanging open as he looked at Jo. “Wait, wait. You're Badger's . . . niece? Niece as in . . . relative?”

Jo quirked an eyebrow at Wash. “No, the other kind of niece,” she replied, words lined with sarcasm.

“Ah,” Wash said, nodding slowly. Kaylee turned Jo toward another crew member.

“This is Book, he's a Shepherd,” said Kaylee, that big ol' grin still rooted firmly to her face.

Book, in his Shepherdly ways, took one hand off the book he held and extended the hand to Jo. Jo, not wanting to offend the Shepherd, shook his hand in return. Book gave a small smile. “Nice to have you with us,” he said.

Kaylee pointed to the next victim of her introductions. “This is Inara. She's a Companion.”

“Are you?” asked Jo, eyebrows going up as she looked at Inara.

Inara gave a motherly smile as she extended her hand, Jo giving her a handshake. Bracelets jangled on Inara's arm as her arm moved up and down in the handshake. “Yes, I am,” answered Inara.

Kaylee turned Jo toward the last member of the crew. “And this is River. She's Simon's sister,” she explained.

River looked at Jo with her head slightly tilted, hands clasped behind her back. Jo lifted a hand slightly and waved a bit, shifting the bag on her shoulders. The girl called River looked about her own age, even if she was a bit distant.

“I think that's enough with the 'hello's,” Mal cut in. “Simon, River, why don't you show Jo to the passenger quarters?”

Simon glanced at Mal before nodding. He motioned to Jo to follow him, walking off toward the passenger quarters. Jo followed, walking next to River.

Mal looked at the remaining crew. “Maybe we should take this time to talk about Jo while she's not around?”

---

Simon opened the door to a compartment and motioned inside of it. “And this will be your humble abode while you stay here.” He looked over at Jo suspiciously. “That okay?”

Jo returned with her own suspicious look over at Simon. “It's fine with me,” she said.

“Okay then,” said Simon with a small sigh. He looked back at River, who was standing and watching the two. “Do you want to stay and help Jo get settled, River?” River nodded silently. “Well, I'll leave you to get unpacked,” Simon told Jo, looking at the one brown bag that was slung over her shoulder. He nodded once before heading off to find the rest of the crew.

Jo watched Simon go before blinking, shaking her head lightly as she walked into her compartment. River followed and took a seat on the bed, crossing her legs and placing her hands on her bare feet as she watched Jo set her bag down. Jo turned and looked at River. “Um,” she said, looking around the room as if conversation was going to pop out of the walls.

“Badger's your uncle,” River said. Jo looked at her, glad that she wouldn't have to think up a topic.

“Yes, he is,” she answered.

“Your mother's brother?” River asked, tilting her head slightly. Her eyes had a glazed looked about them as they scanned Jo.

Jo frowned, looking at River. “Um, yes . . . But how did you know that?” she asked slowly, sitting down on the opposite side of the room as she kept her eyes on River. It could have just been a lucky guess . . . but then why did River seem so sure of her guess?

“Parents killed by explosions,” River went on as if Jo hadn’t asked anything.

Jo’s back arched. This was starting to get a little freaky. “Um . . . Yes . . . Yes, they were . . .” She stood up, not wanting to stay sitting anymore. “Um, River, I have to unpack. Maybe you could go find your brother or something,” she suggested with a nervous chuckle.

“Okay,” River said, standing up from the bed and gliding out of the room. “Bye,” she called before heading up toward the dining room.

---

Simon took his seat in the dining room after he left River and Jo alone. He looked around at all the faces, some looking anxious, others looking downright annoyed. Mal stood at the head of the table, arms crossed. He looked at Simon with a questioning look. “She’s in the room next to mine,” Simon responded to the unasked question. “River’s down there with her.”

Mal nodded. “Right then. So now we have Badger’s niece as an unwanted partner in crime. Any ideas?”

Kaylee looked troubled at the way Mal had put that. “Well, it’s not like she’s a threat or anything . . .” She looked around. “R-right?”

“She doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would hurt for no reason,” Book said in all of his infinite Shepherd wisdom. Kaylee nodded vigorously in agreement.

“A relative of Badger that doesn’t like to hurt for fun? I find that hard to grasp,” Simon retorted.

“But that’s a point,” Inara voiced. “She’s a relative of Badger. Don’t you think she could put in a good word for us if we don’t treat her like dirt?”

Zoe responded, “Would Badger listen?” Mal gave a cynical laugh. Zoe went on. “She may be Badger’s niece, but Badger still hates us. I don’t think anything she could say would change his feeling on us.”

Kaylee again looked troubled. “But if we’re mean at her, she could tell Badger,” she reasoned.

“You know what I say?” Jayne cut in gruffly. “I say we dump her on a planet and tell Badger that Reavers got 'er.”

“Ohh,” Wash said in an exaggerated contemplative voice. “Would that be moral? We should actually give her to Reavers!”

“I-if that's what y'all want to do . . .” said Jayne, sounding unsure.

“Suuure!” Wash responded. “Then we wouldn't have to lie to Badger!” Wash would have gone on with the patronizing of the oblivious Jayne, but Zoe was giving Wash one of her patented looks. In all the bickering, no one had noticed River glide in, the girl now listening in on the conversation.

Mal crossed his arms. “We have to take her with us. Badger will hate us even more if we lose his niece.” The captain's voice was weighed down by irritation.

River's voice cut in. “Gotta protect her.” Heads turned in her direction. “She's like us. All of us. Parents were independent, she's independent. Fire took parents away. No one left except Uncle Badger. People out to get her. Can't trust anyone.” River looked over at Simon, a small smile on her face. “Just like us. Gotta protect her.”

Silence settled over the nine members of the crew, Simon looking at River with his mouth slightly open.

Mal looked at River as well. “We should all get some sleep. We have a big job to get done,” he said finally. Jayne and Book headed off to their rooms, Inara going off toward her shuttle. Kaylee walked off with Wash, Kaylee going into her bunk as Wash headed to the bridge. Simon accompanied his sister off toward their rooms, River seeming as wistful as she always did while Simon was quietly thoughtful. Mal and Zoe exchanged a glance before following Wash to the bridge.

---

As Simon and River walked, Simon looked over at his little sister. “Mei-mei, I know you trust Jo,” he started carefully, “but we still have to be careful . . .”

River frowned over at her big brother. “Not a bad person. Won’t tell on us.”

“River, she’s Badger’s niece. Don’t you remember how Badger threatened to turn us in? How do we know Jo won’t do the same?”

“Not Badger. Jo. Not the same,” protested River with a earnest look over at Simon.

Simon sighed. He knew that River was a stubborn girl, and he could tell her thoughts were set and weren’t going to change. “Still, let’s just not mention our . . . situation, okay? We should just wait it out, see who this girl is.”

“Jo’s good. Won’t tell,” River insisted.

Simon held up a hand gently. “River, let’s just wait a while before we tell her, okay?”

River frowned at Simon. “Just a while. Tell her later?”

Simon nodded. “Sure, we could tell her later,” he said reluctantly, though he had absolutely no intention of telling Jo about River.

River nodded with a small smile. “Night,” she said before heading off toward her room.

Simon shook his head and rubbed his temples as he went toward his room as well.

---

Wash took his place at the pilot seat and checked everything to make sure it was running smoothly as it so often did not on Serenity. After he did so, he left the ship on auto and pivoted his chair around. He watched Mal and Zoe come in, Mal taking a seat in the co-pilot chair. Zoe walked behind Wash and put her arms loosely around his neck from behind. Wash rubbed his wife’s arm, looking at Mal and Zoe’s troubled looks. “Care to share with the class?” he asked the two after a few moments of silence.

Mal looked at Zoe. “I knew she looked familiar.”

Zoe nodded. “Just couldn’t place her, sir,” she agreed.

Wash looked even more behind than before. “Place who where?” he asked, looking back and forth between the captain and the first mate.

“Remember what River said?” Zoe asked Wash.

Wash’s eyebrows went up. “Which part?”

“When she talked about Jo’s parents?”

A questioning face covered Wash’s facial features. “About them being independent and dying by fire or something?”

“They fought in the battle of Serenity Valley,” Mal explained. Wash looked at him in utter bewilderment. “Yeah. Alongside us . . .” He hesitated. “Grenades killed them both . . . She must have gone to live with Badger when she was about seven, when her parents entered the war.”

“I’m willing to bet that’s how she fell into the smuggling gig,” Zoe offered. Wash nodded in agreement.

“Probably,” agreed Mal. “Badger’s never around because he’s running a business.” He thought a moment, trying to sort the timeline out. “So she would have been about eleven when her parents died.”

“When do you think she started doing jobs for Badger?” Zoe asked.

“Soon as she was mature enough to drive a ship,” answered Mal.

“So she’s been with Badger since she was seven?” Wash inquired. Mal nodded. Wash let out a low whistle. “Poor girl,” he said, turning back to the ship’s controls so he could occupy himself.

“You think that means the popular theory’s correct?” asked Zoe.

Mal gave Zoe a questioning look. “Which theory?”

“What Simon said,” Zoe answered. “About her being like Badger? I mean, if the girl’s been around him for so long . . .”

Mal sighed softly. “A little early to tell. People aren't always the same as those that raised them.” He stood. “I think I’ll turn in for the night.”

Zoe nodded. “I like that idea.” She kissed the top of Wash’s head. “Coming?”

Wash shook his head. “Nah, I’m not really tired. You go ahead, I’ll be down in a while.”

Zoe nodded, exchanging a smile with Wash before walking off with Mal. Once they were down the hall, Zoe looked at Mal. “Do you think Jo knows?”

Mal looked at his first mate. “Knows about what?”

“About why her parents left, how they died, what they were fighting for when they died?”

Mal shook his head. “I dunno. Why? Think we should tell her?”

“Up to you, sir,” Zoe returned before bidding farewell and going off to her and Wash’s room.

Mal thought about this as he descended into his own room.

Everyone on the ship was soon asleep.

COMMENTS

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 6:41 PM

NUTLUCK


Well written and you seem to have captured the characters well so far. Curious where this story is going, looking foward to the next chapter.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 7:19 PM

MANATREE


Ok, so I kinda helped write this one, so I'm not sure how much my comment will mean, but I will say again, I think it's a wonderfully shiny story, which captures the characters and the feel of Firefly quite well. Plus, it's really shiny to see it posted after working on it with you for so long!

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 9:11 AM

AMDOBELL


Interesting start. Poor Jo, to lose her parents like that AND be related to Badger! There's just no getting past bad luck. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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