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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2003 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
As always, thanks to the intrepid betas mona1347, luridmuse, and cassiee.
Standard Disclaimer applies. See prologue for details. Farscape/Firefly xover --- Spoilers for Farscape through Infinite Possibilities" (season 3) and it's AU from the ending of that same episode. Firefly -- most likely spoilers for the entire Fox season. No spoilers for the movie, Serenity, and I haven't seen it so DO NOT spoil me in your comments. If you haven't seen one or the other, the story should still be understandable. I'm doing my best to incorporate backstory as I go.
A/N: I apologize for the shortness. Blame the muse, she's the one that gave the set up for the scenes.
Chapter 7: Score – John Crichton, 1; Other Guys, A lot more.
It's been a while. A long while. And I didn't miss it one little bit.
I’m relieved to find the room empty of furniture. I've enjoyed my respite from all chairs of torture, both awake and dreaming. Images flicker rapidly on a screen hanging on the wall in front of me. I don't recognize anyone, but violence seems to be a common theme. Eyes rapt on the screen, River sits silently on the floor next to me.
Kneeling to her level, I ask, "So, Wonder Woman, what's the deal this time?"
River turns to me briefly before returning her gaze to the screen. "I shouldn’t have called you. I was wrong, you aren't the solution. Just more problems. I did the math wrong. It happens."
"You know, I'm getting really tired of everyone speaking to me in riddles. What do you mean I'm not the solution? I came all this way to help, didn't I?"
"Came too late, not helping enough. I know the answer now, but I don't like it. No alternatives available."
Puzzles, always with the puzzles. First Zhaan, then the Ancients and Harvey, now River. Really, it's simple enough to speak plain; I do it all the time.
I think about what I've learned over the past few days and the answer is startling in its simplicity. I know all about doing whatever it takes to save those you love. It's how I met Scorpy, after all.
I grab her by the shoulders, forcing her to look at me. "Oh hell, no. I did not leave everyone and everything behind just so you could go sacrifice yourself. I said I'd help, and damn it, you are going to let me. Are we clear?"
River's expression remains blank when I finish. "How? How are you going to help? They don't trust you. They’re going to find out that you don't exist here. How will you explain it?” She shakes her head, “I’m sorry. I didn't think it through. Thought you'd prevent it, didn't dream that he'd be gone already."
"So I'll improvise. And what do you mean that I don't exist here." She takes my hand then and touches each finger in turn. "Fingerprints? They're doing a background check?"
She nods, "I've slowed it, but the results will come soon. I can't create an identity for you without attracting attention."
"Well, I guess I should be thankful that they didn't try to steal any fluid to get my DNA," I joke, attempting to distract her.
"They just didn't think of it. And Simon's not here to prepare it," she says with a wistful expression.
I think she's underestimating the crew on that one, but it doesn't matter. In a matter of hours, I'm going to be facing several pissed off former soldiers and lots of overprotective people about the fact that I don't have a record in this place. Explaining everything is out of the question – I have a feeling that after losing River's brother, everyone will prefer to space me without asking any questions.
Still, this might be a perfect opportunity to get the crew to open up. I did learn how to improvise from the masters of deception, Chiana and Rygel. "You know what, kid, I think this just might work."
"Doesn't matter, already failed. Two by two, step by step, out of sight, out of mind." The images behind her become more and more violent, rapid-fire fragments of what I've seen previously in these joint dreams, but with a new addition. The seat of honor is occupied by a slight, young man with brown hair. The resemblance to River is uncanny. The question is, are we really too late?
I reach out to calm her, but the entire dreamscape begins to fade around me. It is replaced by a much more unwelcome sight. "Harvey, my man, what have I told you about interrupting my calls?" I ask as I push him away forcefully.
"It was over anyway, by no fault of mine."
"Yeah, whatever." The neural clone has chosen the setting of a military command center this time and dressed himself in a naval admiral's uniform. "By the way, white is so not your color."
"Frivolity aside, John, you have no idea what you are getting us into. We know nothing about the tactics of this era’s military or ruling elite. Might I point out that we don't even know which faction is holding her brother? That we have no intel on how many factions there are?" Each point is highlighted in turn on the screen behind him. Around us, other monitors display orbital systems in green and shipping routes in yellow. "Without any data, even attempting to seek their base of operations is likely to get us killed, or worse."
"Always with the negative, Harv. Why don't you every try to be optimistic?"
"Optimism?" he replies. I try not to laugh as Harvey does his best impression of a drill sergeant. "What exactly, my dear Crichton, do we have to be optimistic about?"
"By my count, I already have two geniuses helping me. Add the loyalty of this crew, and I think we might just have a chance."
Harvey shakes his head sadly. "Optimism like that is what caused all of your problems in the Uncharted Territories, my friend. Try not to let it get us killed in the next five minutes."
"Wha-?" My question is cut off as I'm rudely lifted out of bed and slammed against the wall of the bunk. Pain and surprise jolt me awake. I'm getting very tired of the up-close view of the captain's face.
"If you knock him out, he'll never be able to explain," Wash says at the same time that Kaylee cries out, “Captain!?” as the fracas jolts her awake as well.
"Not much to explain. No record means he works for someone able to erase it. Alliance, one of the big three corporations. Either way, it's no good for us," Zoe tells her husband.
Mal's smile is just a tad disturbed and I'd really like to interject into the conversation, but his forearm across my throat prevents it. "Exactly. Better for us to get rid of him before anyone comes looking." A glance from him silences Kaylee. I try not to feel too betrayed when she scurries out of the room. There's always a chance she's going to get help.
"And who shall she get?" Harvey taunts. "River? They'll just space the both of you, then."
"But we keep the guns, right?" Jayne asks.
“Now then, where were we?” Mal asks. “Oh yeah, if you’d prefer a bullet to the vacuum, kindly tell us who sent you, what they know, and whether you’ve sent any messages.”
“I think you need to stop choking him if you actually want an answer,” Wash says dryly.
Since Zoe and Jayne have guns pointed directly at me, I choose to take a moment to cough rather than retaliate when Mal releases me. Who knew that the captain experienced Luxan hyper-rage?
My period of recovery is extended when Book arrives. “Kaylee seemed to believe that violence was imminent,” he says.
“None of your business, shepherd,” Mal replies.
“Yes, Kaylee thought you'd say as much. I would like to point out that this man just helped defend the ship and the crew. Even turned the tide of battle at a few points, if I recall,” Book says. “Surely such behavior merits him a chance to hear the charges and explain before the torture starts.”
“Who said anything about torture? They’re planning to throw him out an airlock!” Wash backs away from both his wife and the captain when his comment draws a series of glares.
I clear my throat again, wincing when it hurts to swallow afterward. “Personally, I’m with the shepherd. What exactly is the problem?”
Jayne relaxes his gun marginally as he delivers what I've come to know as his signature smirk. The man probably believes that the violence is only delayed. “Your fingerprints don’t have any ident attached to ‘em.”
Mal’s expression turns predatory as he watches Book react to the news. “Maybe you could shed some light on how that could happen? Or exactly what profession would have such a characteristic, shepherd?” he asks.
Given Book’s own surprise, I decide that it would be a bad idea to let this discussion continue without weighing in. No need to let the other man put even worse ideas into the captain's head. Though I am curious why they are asking a religious man such questions; guess I’m not the only person on this ship to reinvent themselves a few times.
“Look, I’ll answer all the questions you want,” I interrupt. That gets everyone’s attention. Inara, Kaylee, and River have joined the small crowd that spills out of my room into the corridor. I try to ignore the feeling of claustrophobia that is setting in. “Though the truth is much more boring than whatever you all have dreamed up. I was born on the Rim. My parents didn’t really believe in registering me.”
“Unlikely. Without being registered, they would never have received government rations,” Zoe points out.
“Unlikely, but not untrue. It’s what happened. And as I got older, they had some contacts that benefited from my status. In return for whatever training I wanted, they helped me stay that way,” I explain rapidly.
“Fine, give us your parents’ names and we’ll clear the whole thing up,” Mal offers.
I resist the urge to laugh at him. My throat still hurts and I don’t want anything else to ache either. “Sure, because I trust you so much that I’m just going to tell you my parents’ names after revealing that they had illegal contacts. If the beating is to recommence, I don’t suppose there is any chance of me being allowed to fight back?” A dirty glare is all I get in response.
“Not his fault, I called him,” River says in a quiet voice that somehow manages to carry through the group.
“You what?” Mal roars. I grab his shoulder to stop him from intimidating her any more than he has. River has great timing, but I regret her method of delivery somewhat. “She wasn’t supposed to ever be alone,” he accuses the rest of the crew as he shakes my hand off.
Wash speaks over the various assurances that she never was. “The computer would have recorded the call, Mal. She’s not used the ship’s cortex.”
“Yeah, cause she doesn’t have any experience hacking into Serenity’s communications arrays,” Kaylee says.
“I called him. He came,” River insists.
“That’s impossible. This fella said he’d been stuck on Whitefall for more than a week. No way lil’ sister coulda called him after…” Jayne trails off when the entire room turns on him.
“The girl misspoke,” I hurriedly explain. “She called some people who called me. I found the message on my ship a couple days before you all arrived, which is why I was so desperate to get off planet. I just got lucky that it was you that picked me up.” I can tell that Mal and Zoe don’t believe the entire story, but the rest of the crew seems to buy it. Kaylee is looking a lot happier than when she left my room earlier, while Inara is looking at me with something approaching quiet respect.
“So River called your friends – which we will be talking about in the very near future,” Mal says harshly to River. “Exactly what did she want?”
Hallelujah! And to think, it only took one firefight and several bruises to accomplish this goal. “She said that her brother had gotten lost and she needed some help in getting him back.”
The arguing irritated River to no end. (Always endless, everything, everywhere, two by two, everywhen). John had finally managed to convince the others to move the conversation somewhere more open, provided he had a chance to clean up first. She giggled as she remembered him threatening to strip (snake shedding his leather) if he didn’t get his way. Kaylee and Inara hadn’t looked inclined to stop him. Zoe, either. The men had finally decided that a small recess with food would be a good idea, followed by the conversation that would not end at the wooden table in the mess area.
(No progress). None of the words helped Simon. Not for the first time, she regretted her own age (too small) and lack of a ship (no home, no property, no family). Things would be so much easier if only someone rational was running things.
John held up his hands to interrupt the current bickering between Wash and Jayne. (Little man, big ape). “Look, these debates of stealth over gun power are pointless until we know exactly what target we’re hitting. Are you sure there’s nothing about the abduction specifically that would indicate where he’s being held?”
Well, finally. A little bit of sense, she could hear the odd man in black in John’s head agreeing with her. She put more effort into tuning him out. There was always the chance that something important might be said.
All eyes turned to Kaylee (the apple, evil seductress. Lost her brother and deserves to pay) after John’s question. “I’ve been over it and over it in my head, Cap’n. They were just plain old purplebellies. If Simon’d stayed in the alley like I told him to, they would have stopped poking fun at me eventually.” Crocodile tears started to leak from Kaylee’s eyes once again. River tried not to smile too much.
She could hear Mal (bad, in the Latin) stop before he admonished Kaylee again for the fact that Simon had left the ship at all. Some felt that enough recriminations had been handed out (Simon? Simon?!).
“Shepherd, are you certain that there’s nothing you can learn?” Mal asked.
Book shook his head. “I’m afraid not. Since both Simon and River’s warrants remain outstanding, any queries I make would only arouse suspicion.” (Wolves dressed as sheep, could be useful).
Jayne jostled John’s arm with his elbow, “Told you, hopeless. Always knew that the doc would get himself into trouble that we couldn’t save him from one day.”
River slashed him with her glare and Jayne had the good sense to pale a shade or two (better in red; turn the inside out). “I know the coordinates,” she finally offered. (Tick tock, two by two the seconds run away). But she was certain, more certain of these than she was of the outcome. They would suffer more than Simon did, she would make sure of that.
The room erupted in various versions of the captain’s undignified, “Huh?” before anyone could gather themselves, John knelt before where she sat forgotten on the couch (always alone without my da ge. He came once, he’ll come again). “River, what do you mean you have the coordinates?”
She handed him the data chip (find the grail to heal him) she’d been working on for the past few days. She’d meant to keep it, to take a shuttle. Anything so that at least they could be together again, as they were always meant to be. “The coordinates of where the building containing him. At this distance, I can’t find an exact schematic of the buildings layout or which room,” she confessed. Fullness pierced at her eyes and wetness followed. (Fight to stay above water; so hard to stay in place against the currents). Felt like she would float away no matter how much the crew tried to maintain her medicine schedule. “Or what they’re doing to him, or if he’s -,” John passed the chip to someone else and enfolded her in his arms. It was no good though, even with her eyes closed, his arms were bigger than Simon’s, his smell a deeper musk with alien overtones. And that damned man in black never ever shut up!
She wanted to stay, wanted to be here to listen and correct their plans. As usual, her control was imperfect and eventually the exhaustion took over.
Jayne watched Kaylee watch John with River. Both girls were entirely too good at wrapping men around their fingers. Kaylee also never seemed to notice when her attentions were wasted. John didn’t seem like the type of fella that would stick around once this situation was resolved. Be too much trouble if he did anyways, what with not having an ident or anything.
Jayne shrugged. At least John didn’t seem to have a stick up his pigu like the doc. It was nice having someone around who could keep the moonbrain calm again.
“Well?” Mal asked Wash, who was busy studying the data on River’s chip with his wife.
“It’s definitely not good. The coordinates are for an asteroid in orbit around Ariel. From everything I can tell, the rock isn’t inhabited or developed at all,” Wash answered.
“Sounds like the type of place preferred by those who cut on children’s brains,” Book said with a glance over to River. The girl was still crying soundlessly into John’s shirt.
“So we won’t know anything for sure until we get close enough that they can see us,” Mal said.
“Assuming we don’t run into a Fed patrol where we have to account for a psychotic girl and an unidentifiable man,” Wash added.
“Straight on assault won’t work. If that place is a top secret anything for anyone with any type of surveillance, they’ll have us out of the sky before we even enter the system,” John said softly from the couch.
Huh, showed what he knew. They were already in the same system. Just had to cover a lot of territory before they managed to be in Ariel’s orbit.
“Even if someone got under their surveillance, they aren’t just going to let you wander around looking for the doctor either,” Zoe replied.
Jayne thought that John’s smile spoke more of defeat than confidence. “Guess it’s time that I finally get a full fledged ident, then. Assuming you know someone who can get me the papers.”
Sunday, July 31, 2005 11:48 AM
Saturday, August 6, 2005 5:48 PM
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