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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Don't worry -- it ain't the end . . . yet!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 4207 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“We’re not going to catch them,” Wash said, shaking his head with an air of depressed finality. He was gripping the control yoke with white knuckles, his hands flying around the console as he tried to urge Serenity onward through complicated piloting tricks and sheer force of will. “We’re just too heavy. Even if we were stripped down, it’d be dicey. Any way you do the math, they just got too much legs.”
“That’s not what I pay you to tell me,” Mal said, a low, warning tone to his voice, as he hovered behind the pilot’s chair.
“Cap, I’ve got it to the floor,” insisted Wash. “I can’t get her to go one bit faster. Maybe if Kaylee was here to work some of her magic, we might – but failing that, we ain’t gonna catch her.”
“There’s got to be a way,” Mal declared. “That stunt we pulled to get away from the Red Rock Tong – can we do that again?”
“If Kaylee was here, sure – she even described it to me. But we need both shuttles for that, plus Kaylee re-routing the controls.”
“Then what can we do?”
“I’m tellin’ you Cap, we can’t do a gorram thing!”
“What if we ditch the shuttle? Will that lighten us enough to catch up?”
“Not even if we ditched the cargo,” answered Wash mournfully. “That Mothbat – did you know that some places use them as tugs? They got some powerful engines to start with, and that one’s been modified. I love Serenity as much as anyone, but she ain’t built for speed!”
“That’s not acceptable, Wash!” Mal warned.
“Cap, if I could flap my arms and speed us up, I would, but I’m tellin’ you the God’s honest truth. We’re fresh out of delta vee! There. Is. No. More. Speed.”
“What about Inara’s shuttle – fast enough?” asked Mal.
Wash was shaking his head before he even finished the sentence. “No gorram way. Think of it this way: that Mothbat has the mass of both our shuttles – but an engine just under Serenity’s in power. I couldn’t catch ‘em on a windy day.”
“There’s got to be something,” Mal muttered.
“Well perhaps you can go poll the rest of the crew, see what they can come up with, because, Sir, with all do respect, you’re gettin’ on my last gorram nerve and makin’ me not pay attention to the driving. And with that thing listing two degrees every ten minutes, I gotta keep changing course to stay on track.”
“You throwin’ me off my own bridge?” Mal asked, incredulously.
“While I’m flyin’ the gorram ship, it’s my bridge, and yes, I’m throwing you off. If we get lucky and they slow or stall or break down or trip on a crack in the sidewalk, I want to be close enough to pounce. Make sense? ‘Cause it’s about the only thing I can do now. So go. Don’t come back ‘less you got a better suggestion!”
Mal went. Rarely did Wash assert himself like that, and it was a token of how desperate he felt that made him so adamant. So Mal got out. He learned back in the War just how far you could really push a man. And how far beyond that he could force it, if necessary. Wash was there. He had been through too much too quickly and was reaching his limit. A wise leader knew when to back off.
He found Jayne, River, and Zoe policing up the cargo hold of stray bullets and loose debris. Inara was taking inventory and assessing cargo damage from the battle. She didn’t look displeased, which was good. But the state of the cargo, that was the last thing on his mind right now. He’d trade every ounce of cargo and throw in his favorite pistol if it meant getting Kaylee back.
“Huddle up!” he called out as he threw himself down the stairs. “We got us a situation, and I need more brains than I got!”
It was a testament to the serious nature of the chase that no one made a single wisecrack. He waited for them to congregate at the bottom of the stairs, then explained the situation. Then he looked around the circle for answers. “Anyone?” he asked.
Zoe shook her head. “No idea, Sir.
Jayne spat. “This is my fault. Shoulda put an extra round in that tah mah de when I had the chance.” Mal gave him a look.
Inara had her arms crossed in front of her, and her eyes were thick with worry. “I have no idea, Captain. I’d offer to go after them in the shuttle but . . .” She shrugged sadly.
Mal took a chance and looked towards River, who was staring up at the ceiling lights and counting on her fingers. She had changed out of the kimono and wig into a simpler country dress, but still wore the geisha makeup, complete with tear tracks. “River,” he asked hesitantly, “You have an idea?”
She didn’t say anything for a moment, then slowly brought her focus back to Mal. “When the puppies are astray, get the big dogs to help,” she said, finally, dreamily.
Mal tried to sort through that. If Kaylee was a puppy, then . . . was he the big dog? Or was Morgan? Jayne? Or were they the puppy and . . .
He was confounded. “You wanna try that again in people talk?”
River scowled and sighed exasperatedly. “There’s a big gorram Alliance base up ahead, remember? And my brother and the preacher are out there, too? Do I have to draw you a gorram picture?”
It took Mal only a few moments to digest her suggestion. Then he grabbed her shoulders and kissed her on the forehead. “You get an extra day, this works out,” he promised. “Pinkie swear!” And then he flew back up the stairs to the cockpit.
“I beg your pardon, could you repeat that?” Simon said, aghast, into the pickup.
“I said that Kaylee’s rescue didn’t go well. In fact, it failed completely. She’s still being held on that bastard Morgan’s ship, and it’s headed for the Rim. We can’t catch up no matter what we do. But Wash says you can intercept if you burn fast as you can. I’ve got the coordinates and heading.” They flashed on the monitor. For all of his calm, Mal’s voice was full of strain and despair.
“Already changing course, Captain,” Book said as his fingers flew over the pilot console.
“And,” Simon said, when he absorbed what Mal had said, “just what do you expect us to do? I remind you, we’re a doctor and a preacher in an old beat up shuttle. Hopefully, Kaylee will need neither of our professional services.”
“That’s up to the Four Flaming Fists of Fury, Doc. We’ve thought of everything we could, and we got nothin’. I’ve notified the Alliance base, but you can get there at least two hours ahead of them, and I’d just as soon not have any purplebellies askin’ mequestions. But I’ll put up with it, if I have to, to get Kaylee back. She might not hae that kind of time, though. Morgan ain’t real happy with us, ‘bout now, and it won’t be long before Kaylee will get the brunt of his displeasure. So it’s up to you, and I’d take it as a kindness not to further argue the point. You got to save her. There ain’t anyone else as can do it.”
“Doctor,” Simon repeated pointing to himself. “Preacher,” he added, pointing to Book.
“Wrong, Simon,” Mal said shaking his head, surprising him by using his first name. He pointed at him through the monitor.
Kaylee was slowly coming around, a buzzing sound in her head that matched the blaze of pain in her temple helping her concentrate. As consciousness and reason returned to her, she realized with a start that she was immobile, her hands behind her back secured with tape, and her arms threaded through a support structure near the middle of the ship. And she had to pee. Not a great way to wake up, she reflected as her temple throbbed. And even worse when you considered all the bad things that that implied.
Focus, Kaylee, she said to herself. We’re the warm, bright, sunny optimistic one, remember? So let’s start the day on a positive note, okay? Let’s look at the positives.
She was still clothed. That was a good thing.
At least she was out of Morgan’s disgusting cabin. Of course, she might be headed back there soon, and for less savory reasons than simple abduction, but she tried not to dwell on that.
The Captain and Serenity knew where she was, who she was with, and she flattered herself into thinking that they were right behind her in hot pursuit.
They had recaptured Serenity. That was a very good thing.
But I still have to pee. That’s a problem.
She slowly brought her head up, careful not to let her captors know she was awake just yet. She didn’t really want to elicit more attention than she had already been promised.
She could see into the cockpit, where the two crewmen were piloting the ship – and if her senses were correct, they had it going flat-out. Morgan was next door in his cabin, bandaging up his various wounds. She hoped that Mal was responsible for a few. She found that he was even more repulsive under his clothes, as his chest was covered in a mat of wooly black hair and badly-done spacer tattoos. Definitely a minus.
Sighing silently to herself, she slowly leaned her head back against the support post. When the post connected with the part of her head behind her ear, she closed her eyes again and concentrated on what she was hearing, what she was feeling, what the ship was saying.
It took a few minutes to figure out. But she could finally hear it: the result of her sabotage. While she hadn’t been able to do much with the panel in Morgan’s “stateroom” she had found a way to damage the ship. She arranged it so that at a certain point, the port inducer coil would over-burn and then burn out. Minimum, it would kill the portside engine and slow their pace as well as seriously interfere with their ability to steer. Worst-case, it would blow out the portside engine and start a cascade failure in their core. Somewhere in the middle was the more likely prospect, that of a crippling space fire that she doubted could be extinguished on a tub this old and decrepit. She wasn’t sure which, yet. But from the lilt she heard in the engine cycle it wouldn’t be very long. You just plain couldn’t run an engine that hard and that long and not put strain on your inducer coils. Everyone knew that.
So all she had to do was wait. It was only a matter of time, and then the situation would change, for better or worse. Being the warm, bright, sunny optimistic one, she hoped for the better. But if it went in the other direction, she reasoned, at least she wouldn’t suffer long. But it was definitely a minus.
Another big minus occurred to her. Serenity, for all her spunk, wouldn’t have the sheer power and low mass that this overdressed, glorified shuttle had. Which meant that unless Serenity caught her soon, it wasn’t likely that they would. She had every confidence in the Captain’s ability to do the impossible, but she also had every confidence in simple math.
Kaylee, m’girl, she decided, until further notice you are hereby on your own.
And she still had to pee.
Morgan came out a few minutes later, wearing a “clean” shirt over his bandaged arm. He didn’t even look at her, much less pay her attention. He walked right by instead to check on the ship’s status.
Kaylee quietly figured out that he had stupidly used engine tape to bind her hands again, but the stuff was hours away from oxidizing into rigidity and therefore made an effective bond. She tried to feel around in her pockets for some sort of tool to use to help, but Morgan had been more careful searching her the second time. Even her beloved 10mm wrench was missing. Another minus.
She felt ill when she imagined what other liberties he had taken with her while she was unconscious.
Morgan was busy giving orders in his lisping voice, made somewhat more unsteady by his sudden and crushing reversal of fortune. He was setting course for someplace out on the Rim, she guessed, but she was paying more attention to the engine noise – and the rapidly cycling coil – than she was the Captain.
That changed the moment that he turned his attention back to her.
“Jutht waved your friendth,” he said, leering. “Dold ‘em to back off. Lookth like they are lithenin’ to reathon. They backin’ off. No help comin’ for a li’l whore like you.” He touched her hair, forcing her head back so he could look her in the eyes, see her contempt and fear, she figured.
“Tha’ don’ mean we can’ ge’ bether acquainthed now,” he said in a low voice. “I thill owe you thom athenthon from when we wath in Thophia.” With that he lowered his hand and forced it under her clothes. She closed her eyes and tried to pretend she was elsewhere, that this wasn’t really happening to her. The hands she could almost take, as rough as he was with his explorations. But that voice, that hot, nasty breath, the smell of his body so close – that she was having a difficult time dealing with.
“You go any lower, Captain, and I’m afraid I’ll have to piss all over you.”
That just made him chuckle. She wanted to throw up.
He had progressed to unbuttoning her shirt, slowly, torturously, when it happened. There was a snap, a buzz, a dimming of the lights, and a sudden squawk from the cockpit as the ship lost power. Morgan’s eyes widened, and he whirled around to investigate. Kaylee heaved a sigh of relief, even as she knew there would be a worse fate in store for her. She knew for a fact that Serenity couldn’t keep up with a Mothbat like this, especially one that had been so intensively modified. Her sabotage, originally designed to annoy and possibly destroy, may have actually saved her, for the ship was now slowing to half it’s velocity and beginning a slow, lazy turn on its one good engine.
Or it might just catch on fire or blow up. Hard to tell.
At least she wouldn’t have to pee anymore.
She let herself have the pleasure of one little smile as Morgan raved like a loon about the problem, pacing back and forth behind the cockpit and screaming curses in English, Mandarin, and adding a couple of his own invention. When he wound down a little, he shifted his attention back to her, starting with a backhanded slap across her face. It made her accidentally bite her lip.
“Wha’ th’ hell did you do?!” he demanded. “Wha’ did you do to my ship?”
“Ain’t you got an engineer? He can tell you what’s wrong!” she spat, spraying blood all over his face.
“Your gorram friend inna monkey thuit wathted ‘em – an’ he wath a friend o’ mine!” he screamed. “He wath the only one who coulda fixed thith boa’”
Kaylee looked him dead in the eye. She tried to let all the rage and all the anger she felt well up into every syllable she spoke, and hoped it bored itself right into his soul.
“He ain’t the only one, you huh choo-shang tza-jiao duh tzang-huo! I’m Serenity’s engineer. I can fix it. But I ain’t gonna.”
“Yeth you will, you niao they dub doo gway!” He raised his hand to strike her again. Kaylee willed herself not to flinch, to just keep staring him in the eye.
“You touch me again, I ain’t fixin’ a gorram thing. And if I don’t? Well, I swear by the last eye you got that we’re all gonna die.”
“I’m not a gorram hero,” Simon insisted.
“You are now,” insisted Book as he poured on more speed. “The Lord puts us where we need to be, not where we want to be. And this is where you need to be. Me too.”
“But this isn’t really my—”
“Let this cup be passed from me, yeah yeah yeah, know all about it. Son, it ain’t about what you can do, it’s about what needs to be done.
Before he could reply, there was a manic beeping coming from the console. “Proximity alarm,” explained Simon. “Are we coming up on them?”
“We surely are,” Book agreed. “That’s the little . . . that’s the ship now. There.”
The tiny speck grew steadily larger and brighter – but was no longer flying in a straight line. It was making crazy circles as one engine tried to drive it alone. And that engine only seemed to work sporadically.
“That,” said Book with a smile as the ship came into view, “is our Miss Kaylee’s work, ‘less I miss my guess.”
“It would be just like her to keep a man working in circles,” agreed Simon. “Now that they are effectively immobilized, shouldn’t we wait for Serenity to show up, let Zoe and Jayne . . . do what they do?”
“It’ll be another hour or so before they happen along,” Book said, shaking his head. “She ain’t got that kind of time, son. Even if that foul sinner keeps his hands to himself – and he don’t look the type for gentlemanly restraint – that ship is headed for trouble. We don’t pull her off, she might just not get off.”
“Can we dock with it going in circles like that?” Simon asked skeptically.
“Nope,” Book said. “Got to go over by suit.”
“I thought suicide was a sin, Shepherd.” Book chuckled at that.
“Don’t worry boy. I can get us close enough so that it’ll be a pretty easy jump.”
“Easy for you, maybe,” Simon grumbled. He hated space suits. He had attacks of acute agoraphobia nearly every time he had been out. The Big Room scared him at a very fundamental level. The idea of voluntarily jumping out of a perfectly good shuttle onto a crazily moving, obviously damaged ship, without the benefit of a guide wire seemed an amazingly foolish idea at best and sheer suicidal at worst.
“Not for me,” Book corrected. “For you.”
“What?” Simon asked, aghast again.
“You got to do it, boy. I got to fly the ship. I can’t do that and mount a rescue operation. You go over, subdue the crew, stabilize the ship, rescue Kaylee, and I’ll dock afterwards and get us back to Serenity. It’s got to be you.”
“You are as crazy as River,” Simon concluded.
“Not hardly. But you’re going to have to be quick about it. Don’t know how long that thing is going to remain stable.”
“It doesn’t seem particularly stable now,’ complained Simon.
“My point exactly. Glad we see eye to eye on this. Go suit up, I’ll try to match velocities, more or less. Go on!” he barked in a very un-preacherlike manner. It was a command that expected to be obeyed, and Simon jumped up and headed for the suit locker automatically.
“This has got to be the most elaborate suicide plan in history,” he muttered as he started tugging on the space suit.
“Whadyamean, you ain’ goin’ t’fix it?” Morgan asked, incredulously. “You thaid we all gonna die if you don’!”
“Yep,” Kaylee said, adamant.
“Why you gonna do tha’?” Morgan whined.
“’Cause you are a bad, bad man, and the ‘verse’l be better off without you!”
“I ain’ tha’ bad,” Morgan said defensively.
“You tried to rape me, you stole my ship, and you hit me in the head!” Kaylee shouted. “And you called me a whore! You ain’t even set me loose! Why in the Black should I help y’all out, when all you been to me is grief?” she asked scornfully.
“Boss, the core just went into the red zone for a second. That’s the third time!” warned the pilot.
“You gonna do ath I thay, woman!” Morgan commanded, switching back to a commanding tone. Kaylee just laughed.
“Or what? What are you gonna do? Better think quick, ‘cause if I don’t get started soon, ain’t gonna make a bit o’ difference!”
“I . . . I’m gonna . . . I . . .”
“Tick tock,” Kaylee said, enjoying his discomfort.
Morgan groaned and rolled his eyes. “Wha’ do you wan’?”
“Free my hands. Let me go. Give me your gun. Let me pee. And beg my forgiveness and maybe, just maybe, I’ll think about fixin’ this nasty hunk o’ scrap.”
“I can’ free you! You’re my prithoner!”
“See you on the other side – hmm, wait, don’t think we’ll be goin’ in the same direction.”
“Boss! I—” the man’s voice sounded panicky.
“All righ’! All righ’! I’ll le’ you go!” he hurried behind her and slashed through the tape with a pocket knife. Kaylee rubbed her wrists for a moment then started to button up her shirt. “Now go fix th’ thip!”
“You ain’t done yet!” Kaylee warned.
“I le’ you go, like you thaid!” Morgan bellowed. “Now fix the gorram thip!”
“That wasn’t the deal,” Kaylee sang.
“Okay! Here’th my gun!” He dropped the magazine out of the handle of the automatic and tossed it to the deck. Then he handed it over to Kaylee, butt first. “Happy?” he snarled.
“It’s a start,” Kaylee said, accepting the gun and putting it into her shirt. Gimme my wrench. And any other tools y’all got.”
Morgan continued to grumble as he fetched a stained and greasy tool bag for her. He also grudgingly gave her wrench back to her. “Now fix the gorram ship!”
“Well since you asked so politely,” she said, sarcastically. “Stay outa my way.”
She went into Morgan’s room, pulled the cover off the access panel, and returned the junction box to normal with a few minor adjustments. Pathetically easy on these old crystal sets. Then she went back to the control station that passed for the engine room on the hulk of a ship and began making adjustments.
“We slowin’ down, Boss!” the pilot warned.
“Wha’ did you do?” Morgan growled.
“Gotta let the engine cool and cycle out. You try to restart in less than twenty minutes or so, well, y’all’s coolin’ system can’t cope with that much waste heat,” she explained. “But the core ain’t gonna explode, now. At least not yet. But I better watch it. Now I’m gonna pee, afore I ‘splode.”
“You do tha’,” Morgan said darkly.
“And where’s my gorram ugly hat?” Kaylee demanded crossly. “It ain’t mine, and ‘less I miss my guess, the owner ain’t gonna rest ‘till it’s back on his pointy little head again.”
Simon took one last deep breath before he pulled on his helmet, then halted.
“Shepherd Book?” he asked gently.
“I want to ask a favor of you. It’s likely that I won’t survive this little expedition – that doesn’t mean I won’t try my hardest, understand, but since I’m as far out of my element as you would be in a whorehouse, well, I thought it best to ask you to—”
“Yes, yes, I’ll look after your sister, hide her from the Alliance, try to find a cure, got it, promise on the holy scriptures and a happy Buddha statue now get that helmet on and get in the gorram lock!”
Simon didn’t say anything else. He fastened the helmet, checked it three times, then stepped into the very, very narrow airlock. He had his medical kit with him, a few extra supplies (should they be needed) and the fancy-looking 9mm pistol he had adopted as his own from Serenity’s armory. While it wouldn’t work without sufficient oxygen, nor would his gauntleted finger fit within the trigger guard, he didn’t dare try to invade an enemy’s ship without a decent side arm.
Wouldn’t be proper form.
He also took a coiled length of line with him, a small grapple on the end. Just in case.
“Talk to me, Book,” he asked as the lock started to cycle. “Tell me what I’m doing isn’t the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen.”
“Oh, not by a long sight, son,” the preacher said, chuckling. “Been in the ‘verse a long time. I seen stupidity the likes of which only the humor of a divinity could explain. You’ll do all right. Don’t be nervous. Just focus on the mission.”
“Right,” Simon said, absently, “the mission.”
“Think of it this way,” Book offered. “This is technically piracy, you know: an armed invasion of a ship under way with the intent and purpose of overthrowing its rightful commander. You ain’t added that to your repertoire, yet, have you?”
Simon started breathing very rapidly when the outer hatch opened. He reflected.
He stalled. “Repertoire. That French?”
The human animal has only two instinctive universal fears, science had proven: the fear of loud noises, the startle reflex it was called, and a fear of falling, which was a legacy of man’s arboreal heritage. Monkeys don’t like thunder, and they don’t like to fall.
And here he was, about to step off into a bottomless, horizon-less forever. The moment he left the lock, he would be outside the shuttle’s tiny gravity drive and he would feel the free fall as his semicircular canals went quietly berserk.
He could see the Mothbat . . . below? He had a sudden wave of vertigo as his mind fought for orientation.
Remember, he cautioned himself. Down is where your feet are. He adjusted his perception and tried it again. The Mothbat was Down. He was stepping off and would, with the lightest of kicks, float gently Down and would hit that target that he knew was half the size of Serenity, but without anything for reference seemed a tiny leaf in a river of Black.
“Turn us about twenty degrees clockwise, if you would,” Simon asked. It brought the angle of the ship to a little better advantage for Simon to push against. Just one, two, three, step, he told himself. That’s all. You aren’t leaping a chasm here, he reasoned. There is no gravity to attract you. You can’t really miss. Don’t look at anything but the ship. You’ll only feel like you’re falling. You won’t actually be falling, you’ll be moving with inertia. That’s Newton. People have known about Newtonian physics for almost a thousand years. Possibly more. There was evidence that—
“Son, you don’t jump soon, you gonna run out of atmo,” Book advised.
“River would love this,” he said to himself. Both the EVA and the fact that he was scared out of his mind.
“Go se,” he remarked. He was moving at about a foot every three seconds. He wouldn’t miss – but he was going to go very, very slowly.
Which saved his life when the Arachne’s Revenge stopped moving. Had it continued, he would have missed it completely. He felt smugly vindicated in his cowardice-inspired lack of enthusiasm. Score one for the rabbits.
He was moving so slowly that he could stretch out and slow himself with his arm, preventing an impact that might have alerted the occupants. Oh yes, brilliant planning.
He made his way hand over hand to the craft’s airlocks. He had a choice: the main cargo airlock, the emergency hatch in the engine compartment, and the ventral hatch. Book had gone over it with him – he seemed surprisingly knowledgeable about spaceships for a man of the cloth. They had decided that the best place to enter was the engine room hatch. It was an emergency hatch, rarely used, hard to get into and out of (again, it was as if he spoke from personal experience) and far enough separated from the rest of the ship that he was likely to escape detection until he was aboard, helmet off and weapon drawn.
He approached the lock gratefully. He would be inside again. Being out here in the Big Room was like being an ant under the naked eye of God.
I’ve been in that shuttle with the preacher too long, he remarked to himself.
Now that Kaylee’s bladder was empty – into the most vile and disgusting toilet it had ever been her displeasure to use – she could re-asses her resources and consider her alternatives.
She sat in a beat-up folding chair near the engine control panel, and Morgan sat by his men near the cockpit. They had been playing this twisted one-eyed staring game for about twenty minutes now, by her count.
Morgan had been counting, too. He suddenly jumped up with a shout. “Dime’th up! You rethtar’ the engine now!”
Kaylee looked at him sullenly.
“You promithed! We had a deal! You thaid if I le’ you go and gave you my gun tha’ you’d fix my thip!”
“I did. I fixed it. It’s working. Ain’t gonna blow up no more. But I ain’t gonna turn it back on for you, neither. Not ‘till we come to an understanding.”
She rose, and walked toward the cockpit. He backed away from her as well as he could.
“I’m gonna send a wave to my crew. I’m gonna tell them to come and pick me up. You don’t interfere with that. ‘Cause if you do, you’re gonna get us all killed. Also, if you don’t interfere with that I’ll ask my Captain pretty please not to kill you out of hand.” She paused, smiling to herself. “He likes that sorta thing.”
She started for the equipment when she heard the pistol hammer. That same time, she took the pistol she got from Morgan and rested the barrel on the pilot’s forehead.
“You durn on the engine,” demanded Morgan, smiling crookedly. “An’ I le’ you live. Ath my whore. An’ a whore for my friendth.”
“You ain’t got no friends,” Kaylee said, nervously. She hated it when guns were pointed at her. “And I ain’t turnin’ on your engine. You know what’s good for your flyboy, here, you’ll put that gun down on the deck.”
“You threa’en a man with an emp’y gun!” he laughed scornfully. “I dook ou’ all th’ bulle’th!”
“Wrong, stupid.” She addressed the two crewmen. “Your idiot of a Captain here? He took out the magazine when he gave me the gun, but he didn’t take out the round in the chamber.” The change in expression on Morgan’s face confirmed the news. “I checked it in the . . . well, let’s be charitable and call it a washroom. I got one bullet. You got one brainpan. He makes me cranky an’ you pay the price.”
“D-don’t do nothin’ rash, now, sweetie” the pilot said, though being calm when a highly pissed off woman was holding a loaded gun to your head was taking a considerable effort.
“Don’t call me sweetie!” she said in a low and evil voice.
“No ma’am!” the pilot said.
“You don’ theem like the kinda woman who’d shoo’ a man in cold blood,” Morgan said, in what passed for a soothing tone of voice.
“I ain’t, ordinarily. I’m having a bad day. ‘Sides, y’all tried to take my girl away from me. That ain’t right, and I don’t aim to forgive lightly on account o’ that. And knowin’ you all were plannin’ to rape me, well, changes my perspective on such things a might. I got all the love in the ‘verse for a fine piece of precision equipment. You,” she said, pushing against the pilot’s forehead with the barrel of the pistol. “You, I ain’t real fond of right at the moment.”
The pilot swallowed loudly and nervously.
“Lookth like we’re a’ an impath.”
“An impath! Impath! Where two oppothing viewpointh collide, an’ one can’ protheed withou’ th’ other contheedin’? An impath!”
“Oh, and impasse! I thought you said – it really isn’t important.”
“I gueth I gotta dethide if I think you’ll shoo’ a man down like tha’. I’m thinkin’ no. Bu’ I could be wrong. Druth ith, he’th a louthey pilo’ anyhow. Tho I think I’m gonna shoo’ you inna leg, an’ we can get back to Plan A, where you durn on th’engineth and we ge’ our peckerth waxthed proper.”
“You’d risk your pilot like that? Your crewman? Your friend?”
Morgan laughed again. “Ain’ go’ no friendth, remember?”
“How utterly terrible for you,” Simon’s voice said, as he stuck the vacuum-cold barrel of his gun into the Morgan’s neck from behind. While they were talking, he had made it all the way to the main deck without revealing himself. “You must be an absolutely terrible person.”
Morgan’s eyes got very wide – it was a disconcerting feeling to know for a fact that all the people on your ship are in your sight or accounted for, and then a stranger appears. It had happened once for Kaylee.
Simon took Morgan’s gun away from him, and then tried to pistol-whip him unconscious. It didn’t work the first few times, so he sighed and doped him with the autosyringe he held in his left hand.
Kaylee ran up and hugged him warmly, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and hugged him again. He had a hard time keeping his gun on the crewman in the cockpit, but they both seemed as relieved as anyone that the ‘impath’ was over.
“God, you took forever Simon Tam!”
“Well, I had a hot game of ‘Go Fish’ to clear up before I came and got you.”
“Figures. I wanna go home!”
“She’s flying here as we speak. Be here in about,” he consulted his watch, “about forty minutes, by my estimation.” He looked at her appraisingly. “You were really going to kill a man in cold blood?”
“Aw, hell no. Gun’s empty. I was completely bullshitting. See?” she said, taking aim at a console and pulling the trigger.
A loud bang reverberated around the interior of the Arachne’s Revenge. A large hole appeared in the console. Kaylee’s eyes got big as dinner plates.
“Oops!” she said, giggling manically.
The pilot wet himself.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 3:11 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 3:48 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 4:13 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 4:24 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 4:48 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 4:53 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 8:06 PM
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005 2:10 AM
Wednesday, August 24, 2005 6:37 AM
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005 9:19 AM
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005 6:19 PM
Thursday, August 25, 2005 6:49 AM
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