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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
An open-ended adventure.
Chapter 13: In which certain people get their blue hands on Serenity.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1101 RATING: 8 SERIES: FIREFLY
Weldon heard Crocker step back into the cabin behind him, but he did not look up, did not look away from his watch duty. He had even limited the blinking of his eyes to once every five minutes.
“There were two communications,” Crocker reported.
“What do they say, Mr Crocker?” Weldon asked.
“The first,” Crocker said, “is an automated response to a tracker we programmed. Target Jayne Cobb was arrested three days ago on Fell Springs station. Charges were public drunkenness, disturbing of the peace, assaulting officers of the law, carrying concealed weapons. His bail was paid for by one Malcolm Reynolds one day ago.”
Weldon assessed the information, and calculated probabilities. “This suggests that we may have to wait for Serenity’s crew to return for longer than we anticipated. However, our profile clearly suggests that Captain Reynolds, at least, will still return to his ship.”
“I concur,” said Crocker.
“Then we will remain positioned here. The second communication?”
“An executive order from the home office. It appears we are no longer to report to chief secretary Cheng. There has been a restructuring at the upper levels of the Corporation.”
He frowned. Corporate restructuring usually resulted in a wide re-evaluation of current projects, redefining some long-term investments, erasing others. It was, unfortunately, highly inefficient.
“Mr Crocker,” he asked, “what of our directives?”
“They remain the same, for the moment,” the other man replied. “However, we are instructed to hold ourselves available for immediate debriefing.”
Neither of them said it, but it was clear. Their mission was about to be lost in Corporate bureaucracy. If that happened, there was no telling how long it would be before the importance of their assignment would be recognized once more, and the trail would once again have gone cold. Not to mention that the futures of his and Mr Crocker’s careers would be a far cry from the promotions they had been all been promised should they succeed in their assignment.
“If I may make a suggestion, Mr Weldon…” Crocker began.
“No need, Mr Crocker, Weldon assured him. “We are currently still on assignment, and expected to do whatever we can to complete our mission within the limits we find ourselves in.”
Crocker nodded. “In other words, if the only way to be granted the time to complete our assignment is to deliver immediate results, however slim, then we must strike now.”
Weldon rose from his seat in the cockpit of their small personal transport, and Crocker fell in behind him on their way to the hatch. Their walk across the landing platform and the short trip down the elevator into the dry-dock their parking space overlooked was made in silence. As the elevator slowed, however, Weldon and Crocker glanced at each other, and as one, reached into their jackets and took out their Devices. It was late at night, but as they had observed, one or two people often remained even at such hours.
The large cargo doors had been left open. They walked into the belly of the ship Serenity unopposed.
The ship was logged in the dry-dock’s client list as the ‘Grasshopper,’ but it had not been hard for Weldon and Crocker to identify her as the ship they were searching for. What had presented more of a problem was that for the duration of the ship’s overhaul in the dock, her crew was scattered—and while some members of the crew had been easily located, their prime subject was not among them, so Weldon and Crocker had decided not to risk premature exposure and remain unobserved.
With that option no longer available, they of course still had many others.
Weldon scanned the area with his Device. “A faint resonance,” he said. “There is only a single person on board, most likely a female, but most definitely not our subject.”
“Location?” Crocker asked.
“The cockpit,” he replied. “Shall we begin our investigation with her interrogation and elimination?”
His colleague nodded. “That would be best.”
They walked up the stairs, out of the cargo hold. Soon they began to hear sounds from the cockpit. The clatter of equipment being roughly discarded, the frustrated mutter of a voice. “Damn piece of *shee-niou* rust! You call that a gorram rewiring? They should pay me danger money for just going in here… Not to mention overtime. *Chiang-bao hoe-tze duh* overseer! *Ching-wah tsoa duh liou mahng* ship! *Wang-bao dahn* ‘Verse!”
A young woman was lying on her back with her head underneath the co-pilot’s console, in the midst of a veritable scrapheap of bits of wiring, burnt out circuits, wrenches and screwdrivers. When Weldon and Crocker came in, she stopped working. “Is someone there? Ling, is that you? You’re two hours late, you…”
At that point, the woman crawled out of her cramped workspace, and her eyes widened as they found the two men. Weldon recognized the woman now, from his and Crocker’s long hours of observation—Amy Nguyen, mechanic second class, indentured to Selina Shipyards to pay off a considerable debt.
“Hey! Who are you? No one’s allowed on this crate of *go-se* except for crew and shipyard personnel. Or are you guys Labor Inspection? You don’t like me working these hours, you’re gonna have to take it up with Mr Selina—not like I’m giving up bar-time and sleep for fun here—”
“Be quiet,” Weldon said and showed her one of the law enforcement badges he and Crocker had been given. “We are Alliance. You will provide us with all the information you possess about this vessel’s crew, her prior ports of harbor and her future flight plans. Then you will grant us access to your company’s files on—”
Nguyen smirked. “And give the boss another excuse to dock my rutting pay for releasing confidential info? Nooo, thank you. Take it up with management.” And with that, she rummaged around to locate the right screwdriver, and then leaned back to continue her work.
“Mr Weldon,” said Crocker, “there is neither the time nor the need to be delicate.”
Weldon nodded. He set the cerebral resonators on his Device to their lowest offensive settings, and activated them.
After one second, Nguyen reappeared from underneath the console, her face screwed up in pain. After two seconds, she dropped the screwdriver, and it clattered to the ground. After three seconds, she was clutching at her chest, finding it difficult to breath through the pain. She didn’t notice the blood dripping from her ears and nose until after five seconds.
Weldon crouched down beside where she spasmed on the floor. He said, “Pain is an inefficient way to extract information. Much is often lost because of damage to the one interrogated. It is, however, fast. And it can be over quickly if you cooperate. Tell us what you know.”
Nguyen rattled out a cough, and spat blood onto the floor. “You… you know what?” she croaked. “You can kiss my shiny—aaagh!”
It was quite an accomplishment—Weldon was actually getting annoyed. Most people, confronted with pain with no discernable source, immediately gave in. This was going to be one of the messy ones. But of course, ultimately, they would learn everything they asked of the woman, and more.
Weldon looked up at Crocker, standing by the ship’s computer system, only to find him looking out of the cockpit into the rest of the ship suspiciously. “Mr Crocker?”
He shook his head. “I thought I heard… No matter. There is an unread, encoded communication in the system, addressed officially to the ship physician.”
“Indeed. I’ve broken through the encryption.”
He nodded. “Let’s hear it, then.”
There was a burst of static, and then the transmission began. “Simon, it’s Inara. Now, please don’t worry too much, but…” There was a sigh. “I guess… I guess you should be worried. I know I am. River has had some kind of seizure, Simon. She’s out of any immediate danger, but the doctors… We have three of the best doctors on New Canaan here, Simon, and they’re all working River’s case. But they don’t know what’s happened to her. They don’t know her like you do. Please… get here as fast as you can. And Simon… I’m so sorry. I know I promised that… Please just get here soon.”
Weldon and Crocker looked at each other. Crocker raised an eyebrow. Neither of them believed in luck, but this was… fortuitous.
“River,” repeated Weldon. “The subject.”
“On New Canaan.”
“There is a Companion’s Guild chapterhouse on New Canaan. The companion who was reported traveling on Serenity?”
“Agreed.” Crocker took out his remote activator for their ship, and aimed it at the transport a level above them through the cockpit window. A light flashed to life as the ship began its automated start-up sequence. “If you can proceed with the sterilization?”
In truth, Weldon had almost forgotten Amy Nguyen until Crocker spoke, just as the trembling woman managed to grab on to the leg of his pants. “Please,” she begged, barely audible. “Please… I’ll… Whatever you want…”
Weldon frowned. Now he had blood on him again.
He raised his Device to turn it up to a higher, lethal setting.
The death that followed was not at all as expected.
New chapters (almost) weekly--now previewing on www.BattleOfSerenity.tk, Chapter 15: Between the Covers, Part 1.
Sunday, September 25, 2005 6:40 AM
Sunday, September 25, 2005 11:40 AM
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