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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
After the end of "Objects in Space," River decides that a good bounty hunter is a terrible thing to waste.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1908 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
"Well, here I am."
Jubal Early floated in a sea of black, spinning slowly end over end. He didn't need to check the displays in his helmet to know his air was running out. That last job did not go as well as he had hoped. It seemed like his retirement was going to be postponed indefinitely. Or replaced by an early grave in his skin suit. He sighed.
Not one of his better days.
"Hello, Jubal Early."
A voice in his headset. That girl, River. Troublesome, he thought. So small and frail, and yet she's going to live, and I'm going to die. Does that seem right to you?
"You're not going to die, Jubal. I sent your ship to find you."
Did she now? He thought about that for a moment.
"That's mighty nice of you," he said, "considering what happened and all."
"I'm not doing this to be nice."
"You're a bad man, Jubal Early. You like to inflict pain, and you don't much care about things like love, and family, and trust."
"But you are good at what you do. And you do have a code, of sorts."
"And part of that code is being quite … persistent … if you feel someone has done you wrong."
He nodded, even though she couldn't see.
"I can't see you, Jubal," the voice continued. "In fact, I'm not even talking to you. This is a recording I sent along in your ship."
Damn. Then how did she know --?
"It's part of why they sent you to find me. I … know things."
That's … unsettling, he thought.
"I'm counting on you being true to your code, because there's something you don't know. Something you should know."
Jubal could just make out the shape of his ship, growing in the distance as it approached him. He used his suit thrusters to stop flying head over heels and get himself oriented in relation to the ship. Now that he had something to focus on, the spinning was making him dizzy.
"You were not the first to try and earn my bounty. Someone else turned me in at a hospital on Ariel. We escaped."
He thought about it. That wasn't in the records they gave him.
"It wasn't in the records they gave you, because they didn't want you to know what happened next."
"The entire security detachment in the hospital -- everyone who had any contact with me or my brother -- was murdered. Two men in suits, wearing blue surgical gloves. They arrived in a small black ship, and killed them all, horribly. Just for being in the same room as us."
Jubal watched the ship slow down as it approached. He could see himself reflected in the transparent bubble on the cockpit. She's lying, he thought. Got to be. Makes no sense.
"I'm not lying."
How does she DO that?
"You have connections, Jubal. You know people who know people. You will find out I'm telling the truth."
He nodded. As far as he knew, she had no real reason to lie.
"And when you do find out it's true, consider this. The minute you delivered me, the same thing would have happened to you. Because they don't want anyone who has been with me to live. Anyone. Not even you, Jubal Early."
"They would have killed you for doing your job well, for being a professional. For doing what they wanted you to do, they would have paid you back with death."
"Does that seem right to you?"
The ship stopped, and its thrusters fired soundlessly, a flash of white against the black. It rotated, and the hatch popped open. But Jubal just hung there, looking at the opening, and thought for a moment.
"No," he said aloud. "It does not."
"It worries me some, Mal." Wash pointed to the sensor logs from a short while ago, displayed on a monitor in the cockpit. "Early's ship didn't just drift off. It turned and left. Like it had somewhere to go."
"Could be he had a remote." Book looked over Wash's shoulder and examined the logs. "I never got to meet the man myself, being all unconscious at the time. But from what I've heard about his visit, he did seem the sort who would be prepared should he find himself lost in deep space."
"Could be." Mal said, staring out the windows into the black. "Could be we haven't seen the last of him. Not going to worry much about it, though. He might be a-mite twitchy about tangling with us again, especially as far as River is concerned."
"No need to worry. He won't be back."
Everyone looked up to find River curled up on the ship's framing members above the hatch.
"And why are you so sure of that, little one?" Mal asked.
River rolled over, hands tight on the gridwork, dangled for an instant, and dropped to the deck. She turned, and Mal caught a glimpse of a smile in her eyes.
"Because I gave him another bounty to chase," she said, and the smile in her eyes reached her lips. "And a very good reason to chase it."
The small ship glided through the darkness like a purposeful shark in the deep seas of Earth That Was. Early's face was lit by the screens, cold and impassive, reading what he had found when he tapped into the cortex a short while ago.
She hadn't lied. Ariel had happened. They would have killed him without a second thought.
Still, he smiled. And started to back-track his former employers.
There was going to be hell to pay. That was certain.
But for the first time in his career, Jubal Early was going to be his own client.
It was going to be … interesting.
Saturday, November 05, 2005 5:56 PM
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