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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Zoe makes a bridge. Jayne takes some invigorating exercise. Mal and Inara find a cozy bedroom . . .
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 3850 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The Treasure of Lei Fong Wu
ALPHA TEAM –59.43
“That’s a big chasm,” Zoe remarked, peering over the side. “Long way down. Y’know, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word ‘chasm’ in its proper context.”
“Is that meaningful?” Master Lei inquired politely.
“Not particularly. I think the last time was an argument with my husband over reproduction. ‘Chasm’ neatly described the different opinions we held on the matter.”
“A shame,” the General sniffed. “You would produce magnificent children.”
“Yet in such professions . . . hardly the ideal place to raise a child. Their mother a soldier, their father a pilot? Both are dangerous professions. How responsible is that?” asked Master Lei. “They should wait until things settle down. Until they can find the Way of their marriage, and then children will enter into it naturally.”
“Bah!” snorted the General. “Superstitious nonsense. My wife and I waited. By the time we were ‘settled’ she had become infertile. Seize the day, Zoë!”
“Bringing a child into such a situation would be ill advised. Should they birth an orphan?”
“Life is short! There is never a good time. If you wait, you may lose the opportunity.”
“Wash isn’t ready yet!” the monk insisted.
“Zoe obviously is!” the General responded.
“Boys!” she yelled. The two men continued the argument in heavily accented Chinese dialect she had trouble following. They ignored her. They didn’t have time for this. She took a deep breath.
“Atten-SHUN!” she bellowed in her best non-com voice, in the tone that said ‘there is a superior officer observing your childish and unprofessional behavior. Get it together!’. While neither man was young, and each had been accorded respect for decades, they had both served in the military, had endured basic training. Their reflexes responded. The General actually did come to a semblance of attention. The Master straightened as well, and stared at her.
“Perhaps you forget yourself . . . corporal?” General Lei asked icily.
“Not when you are discussing my private business, General. I’m used to that particular discussion coming from me and my husband, not a couple of grumpy old men. While I appreciate your interest, I point out that we are still faced with the chasm, and we are still on a deadline, and solving my personal reproductive issues is unlikely to assist us. Tick. Tock.”
Both men relaxed a little, and even grinned a little. “Okay, Zoe, how should we get around this thing? Get a rope up there and swing across?”
She looked at him as if he had proposed growing wings. “Respect, Sir, but what kind of romantic nonsense is that? You’d have to be insane to swing across that thing. You wouldn’t know where you were going, or what was on the other side. Let’s look for a bridge control?”
“I wonder why they built the ship with such gaps,” wondered General Lei as they began to do so.
“Many reasons,” explained the Master patiently. “That seam you see on the ceiling? There is a matching one below us. This chamber is the gas reservoir for cooling the large lasers. Those seams are radiators. When those lasers are activated, this chamber seals completely, fills with a helium mixture, and then the temperature in here goes up dramatically. When it reaches a certain point, it is evacuated into the Black.”
“It also presents a formidable barrier against boarding parties,” the General pointed out.
“Indeed. Imagine our difficulty if that side was defended? The lasers were the centerpiece weapons system of the Sun Tzu. These chambers served many purposes – a masterwork of Chinese engineering.”
“Hope I never see ‘em lit up,” Zoe remarked simply. She had her own issues with Chinese engineering that were best kept to herself. “Aha! Found it.” She peeled away a cover-panel and revealed a keyboard and screen. While the main computer was offline, the local controls still seemed to work. Only . . .
“It wants a password,” she said, sighing heavily.
“ ‘For the glory of the Empire!’” offered the General. That was the Imperial War Cry.
Master Lei rolled his eyes and sighed as well. He gentle moved Zoe aside. “We come on behalf of His Imperial Majesty, Lei Fong Wu.”
There was a second’s pause, and then the control screen revealed itself. The old man shrugged, instructed the control to extend the ramp, which obligingly left its housing and in moments had reached the other side. It clicked home with a bang that echoed ominously around the massive chamber. All the men were forced to look up, then down, as the echo faded. Their gaze remained down, staring into the deep, deep chasm.
“Okay,” Master Lei said, looking up at the flimsy-looking bridge. “Who wants to go first?”
BETA TEAM –64:46
Things were looking increasingly dismal for Beta Team. Colonel Campbell and two of his men had taken shelter within the wreckage of two particularly large, extremely damaged training machines, and were doing their best to eliminate the remaining robots.
Miller lay in a heap on the mat thirty feet away. A sentry droid was in between them. Han was pinned between a mock artillery drone and a hand-to-hand trainer. He looked pale and unconscious, but he seemed to be breathing. Fue had taken a neat pistol-round from the sentry in the meaty part of the thigh, an in-and-out wound that had missed the bone and major arteries. He was still on his feet, a gun in his hand, and his painkillers were just starting to kick in.
Jayne Cobb was no where to be seen.
Campbell had two theories on that. One, that Jayne had been wounded or killed and was now lying prone behind that smoldering pile of exercise mats. The second theory involved the mercenary fleeing from combat. For his sake, Campbell hoped the man dead. He did not excuse a coward, especially someone who had proven himself in battle already. It was . . . what was the word Cobb used? Unmanly?
As he put his second-to-last cartridge in his rifle, and searched for a target, it became apparent to all of them that there was a third potential option for Mr. Cobb. The sentry droid in front of them, whose weak optics he was trying to target, suddenly exploded in a cloud of black smoke and hissing. A pale red beam seemed to be the cause.
“C’mon, fellas!” he could hear Cobb yell. “Turn around! Time to play with Uncle Jane and his magical . . . his super . . . well, his big damn new lady friends!”
When the smoke cleared enough, Campbell was treated to the sight of Cobb striding – no, strutting – across the exercise floor, festooned with enough weapons for a squad.
In his left hand he had an old-designed Cummins TTO Heavy Infantry Support Laser, or at least the old Imperial rip-off copy of one. It stabbed a red beam at the robots, one after the other, turning them into shredded, burning metal.
In his other hand he had a Chi Yu 105mm Recoiless Rifle, apparently loaded with HE rounds, which he was using on whatever the laser wasn’t strong enough to cut through. There seemed to be an Agni Flamer and a Manticore slung on his back, and the Callahan autolock that he had been so proud of was slung opposite, no longer looking as impressive next to her more lethal sisters.
Cobb seemed to be in orgasmic joy, a grin of pure bliss plastered crookedly across his face as he slew machine after machine from behind. He kept up a constant litany of cursing in both Chinese and English, with some unique loan-words from other languages – and some that Campbell would swear were his own invention. But he did not back down, using the combined power of both pieces to act as withering fire, reducing each machine in turn. The noise was impressive – not that the laser made much, but the recoilless rifle made up for it. It wasn’t unusual to see that particular type of weapon attached to a vehicle, and manned by a two-man crew – with ear protection.
As soon as one robot got chewed through, another would take its place. At the savage pace he was going, it didn’t take long for him to render every mechanical foe inert. Only when nothing else moved, did he dropped the Chi Yu onto its sling and deactivate the Cummins. The silence was deafening.
As his men went to tend Miller and Han, he helped Cobb with the Chi Yu and other ordinance.
“That was a timely entrance,” Campbell stated.
“I always had a dramatical flair,” Jayne assured with a grunt. He was a little out of breath. Ordinarily both the laser and the oversized rifle, while designed to be carried, were used as the primary weapon. As such, each weighed over thirty pounds, not counting the Chi Yu ammo. Jayne had both harnesses strapped to him, overlapping, to allow one-handed operation.
“Are you wounded? When you disappeared, I thought . . .”
“That I bugged out? Can’t say it didn’t cross my mind, honest. But I’d hate run from somethin’ that ain’t even got a pulse, no matter how intimidatin’. But I did find myself in a position that suggested I regroup.”
“Regroup?” asked Campbell, politely. “But there is just the one of you.”
“Heh. Colonel, sometime I’ll tell you ‘bout the time I was a one-man flankin’ maneuver.”
“I’m pleased that you regrouped, then. We were running low on ammunition.”
“Got God’s own armory back there,” he said, gesturing over his shoulder with his thumb. “Enough to load every gun in the ‘verse. And guns . . . man, where to start?”
“There will be time enough to inventory the prize. Let me see to the men, and then we can determine how to proceed. You look fatigued. Drink some water and rest a moment. We may need to call on your strength again, should we need a stretcher.”
“Jus’ lemme know,” Jayne assured. “I’m jus’ gonna bask in the afterglow a moment, calm down a mite. Hell, I probably need to change my britches,” he muttered. “All those shiny targets, and no one shootin’ back?” He loosened the bandana from around his neck and withdrew a cigar from beneath his armor. “Need a smoke after that kinda mayhem. That was . . . special.” He looked around at the carnage and destruction he had produced in such a short time, lit his cigar, and gave a little whoop. “Yeah! Hell, yeah! Lookit all that tasty debris! You don’t sic no machine on Mrs. Cobb’s li’l boy now, do you? You do, you get the layin’ t’waste! You get the gorram Hero of Canton an’ the Master o’ Ass, right down your gorram mechanical throats! Yeah! The Ass Master has spoken!”
DELTA TEAM -57:21
“Kaylee? Wanna go exploring?” Wash asked seductively.
The engineer wrinked her brow as she regarded him. “I don’t know,” she said doubtfully, leaning on his pilot console. “Cap wants us to stay close to the ship.”
“I swear it won’t leave our sight. Simon’s got the radio, right now, and Hsang has guard duty. I’m too keyed up to nap, and I hate to think that we miss out on all the fun. So you wanna look around a little?”
Kaylee considered. “What do you have in mind?” she asked shrugging. Truth was, she was bored. There was precious little for her to do, and she didn’t really feel like doing the make-work that was available.
Wash grinned. “That’s m’girl! All these fighters and shuttles in here have to have a flight control station. I figured the easiest and most productive thing we could do would be to check that out.”
“Flight control?” she asked skeptically. She knew Wash well enough to know that he was unlikely to be interested in a control room, however ancient.
“Well . . . maybe we’ll stop and check out one of those Marauders on our way back. Y’know, since you insisted.”
Kaylee grinned. She didn’t have Wash’s fetish for fighters, but she was always game to check out a new ship. “Let me get my coat and my tool bag!”
“Grab your gun, too. Might be an overly aggressive spacesuit about,” he warned, referring to the time he and Kaylee were salvaging another Firefly, and Kaylee had mistaken a spacesuit for a malicious squatter in the dark and shot it to pieces. The engineer stuck her tongue out.
Five minutes later they were in the cargo bay. In addition to his revolver, Wash had grabbed his favorite shotgun and strapped on his most versatile pilot’s vest, one which had lots of tools and such. “Ready?” he asked as Kaylee emerged from the crew quarters.
“Yep. You got radios?”
“Yep. Just did a test with Simon. You got your gun?”
“Have fun, guys,” Hsang called from his position in the make-shift gunner’s nest they had built at the end of the cargo bay. He was a little more laid back than his fellow Imperials, Kaylee had noticed. Not near so tense. But that didn’t mean he was slack. She had no doubt that he would be able to bring that gun to bear on a problem the first moment it appeared. That made her feel good, even though she couldn’t imagine any real trouble popping up here.
The great, cavernous landing bay was cold, only a few degrees above freezing. Wash led across the wide expanse, whistling them up a staircase he had decided led to the control room. He wasn’t wrong. But it also led to a tidy little lounge and kitchenette, as well as past an office, a few storage rooms and a little workshop before it came to the control center, some three stories above the main floor.
“Shiny!” Kaylee breathed as she entered. The control room was a long bank of control boards with no less than six seats, and another one at a smaller command console behind them. Only one bank of panels – the ones controlling the main airlock – were lit up. The others were dark. “How come we got no power?” she pouted.
“They’re just shut off, I bet,” the pilot said, studying the controls for a moment. He finally set a finger hesitantly on a button, and closing his eyes he pushed it.
“That’s better!” The rest of the panels started blinking on as they activated, though most of them showed they were offline the moment they were booted.
“Computer controls,” explained Wash. “Probably won’t come up full until the main computer is turned on.”
“Yeah, that’s it. Hey, this bank has local control!”
“Probably a fail safe, so they could still launch fighters if the computer was down. What’s it control?”
“Exterior sensors, emergency launch control, emergency fire suppression, anti-intruder protocols, fueling depot, and escape pods. Ain’t much.”
“Hey, there is the exterior sensors. Might be nice to see what’s going on outside.”
“In this patch of the Black?”
“I’m not fond of being blind,” Wash chided. “And I’d like to know if the whole ship is about to crash. I’m picky that way.”
“Well . . . there, on that monitor. Forward, rear, starboard, port, dorsal and ventral views, running in cycle. Radar and telemetry reports are on HUD. Enjoy.”
“Any way we could patch this into Serenity?” he asked, rubbing his chin.
“Sure, no prob. I even brought a few things like that. Gimme five minutes.”
Wash went downstairs and explored the lounge. It had a worn, lived in look that seemed out of place, compared to the sterility of the rest of the ship. But this area would have been used extensively, he decided, to direct construction traffic and supply shuttles. The carpet was worn, the table was scuffed, and there was still even a glass and a hundred-year old bottle of cheap rice wine on the table. A nearby ashtray held hundred-year old cigarette butts and a wad of gum. There was the ubiquitous board with signs and notices and protocols. The kitchenette was nearly empty, and had the same sloppy, lived-in look. The microwave and fridge were working, he discovered, and if he had been interested an ancient box of eggrolls was stuffed in the freezer.
The office was a little more revealing. The Flight Control Officer had been a Captain named Hsu, it seemed, and he had been among the last men to leave the Sun Tzu before it took its dive into the planet’s gravity well. There was the usual office crap, files of flexis containing work schedules, timesheets, and performance reviews. A few manuals sat on a shelf. A locker under the desk revealed another, unopened bottle of rice wine, a first aid kit marked with the Imperial crest and the ubiquitous Red Crystal, and a sleek black 9mm automatic in a military-issue holster. Wash shrugged and tucked it in his vest, and grabbed the first aid kit. Out in the Black, you didn’t pass by a free gun.
“Wash! I’m ready!” Kaylee called. When he returned to the control room he saw she had rigged a transmitter into the sensor suite.
“Shiny!” he exclaimed. He glanced out the window at the Marauders, sitting comfortably in their launch cradles. Kaylee joined him, but her eyes were all for Serenity.
“Y’know, I ain’t really saw her from this angle afore, y’know, from the top. She’s awful pretty.”
“That she is,” agreed the pilot. “Especially if you got a thing for oxidation.” Kaylee smacked him playfully on the arm.
“I’m serious! She is pretty. Except . . . is that forward stabilizer lookin’ crooked to you?”
Wash shook his head and laughed. “I’ve been telling Cap that it was giving me problems. You can deal with that later: right now, I wanna see a Marauder!”
They left the flight control center and went to the Maruader cradle nearest to Serenity. Wash was impressed. The sleek, deadly-looking ship looked like it had just rolled off the assembly line. Of course he could only see the top third, the cockpit, the access hatches to the engine compartment and the weapons pods, but he knew what they looked like. A classic design, elements of which were still being used in modern fighters – or at least they had been, until the Alliance had declared a monopoly on warcraft.
“Pretty!” Kaylee agreed. “Quad thrusters, dual stabilizers, dorsal plasma exhaust – bet she eats fuel like candy!”
“She’s a fighter, not a shuttle,” Wash dismissed. “That’s a pretty big laser. Missile racks, too – empty. I wonder where the ordinance locker is?”
“Wash! We don’t need to be messin’ with any hundred-year-old bombs!”
“I’m not, I’m not!” he defended. “I’m just curious. I’d love to fly one of these things. I suppose I have already – sims, I mean. I played Nightraid Over Xiao about a million times. But the real thing . . . there’s just something, I don’t know, magical about actually seeing it in person.”
“You can fly a fighter?” Kaylee asked, surprised.
“Well . . . I’ve only got a commercial license – or would if I hadn’t defaulted on my student loans. Military training takes another year, and combat training takes a year after that. But the principal is the same for just about any small craft. The controls will be different, but they’ve been different in every hulk I’ve flown.” He sighed deeply.
“C’mon, let’s get back to our girl,” Kaylee said gently, taking him by the arm. “Sure, this thing is pretty, but you can’t live in her.”
“No,” admitted Wash. “But you can fly through a needle with one. These things are tight! Even in sims. Great design.” He looked back longingly over his shoulder – which had slumped a little. “Y’know, if I hadn’t been so adverse to a military life, I’d’ve liked to fly a fighter. But I just don’t have the killer instinct Master Lei says you need.”
“Aw,” soothed Kaylee. “I think you’re vicious. A real killer. Stone cold to the soul, mean look in your eye, with a brutal disposition and a powerful cruel streak that’d make your enemies soil their breaches!”
“Oh, you’re just tryin’ to cheer me up,” he said, smiling sadly.
“Is it workin’?”
“Li’l bit. And while we’re on the subject of flattery, let me say that you got the nicest ass of any chief engineer I ever saw, and that’s the honest truth.”
35th Tactical Assault Unit, First Platoon -59:21
“Sir!” the corporal said with exactly the appropriate amount of eagerness and respect. “There is yet no sign of the Master in his chambers. It is as if they had been abandoned long ago,” the corporal said, saluting. “There is more: ship’s main power is off-line, the Bridge is unresponsive, and the computer core is shut down. We seem to be drifting.”
“Any sign of the crew?”
“No sir! But . . .” the man thought for a moment to be certain, “I think we heard someone in the infirmary past C section.”
The lieutenant nodded. No crew. Ship adrift – but undamaged. The Master was not aboard. No communication, no orders, and no real idea what had transpired since he and his men had taken the Oath and sealed themselves within their hibernation capsules.
It was all very strange.
He had not hesitated to make the Oath, a personal oath of loyalty to the Master and his heirs. An oath to fight for him and Yuan, to defend him and all he stood for from all who opposed him. His unit was elite: the 35th Tactical Assault Unit. Only the Imperial Guard had higher status – but there were no better fighters than his men in that largely ceremonial unit. For there was no Emperor.
Upon awakening, he had set up a base of operations in a small cafeteria attached to the hibernation engineering section, posted their banner, and had begun an extensive recon. With shipboard communication down, it was impossible to speak to anyone else who might be on board. He was reluctant to awaken more of his men until he knew what the situation was. Whatever it was, he didn’t like it. It all stank of a plot, a Xiaoese plot.
“Very well. Take two men and scout that section – in stealth, not in force. See if you can bring us a prisoner to explain just what has happened. I’m guessing that they will be soldiers from Xiao. Perhaps we can convince them to tell us what has happened to our Master. And explain why they are here.” He narrowed his eyes, looking at the noble white-and-blue banner before him. “It should prove very interesting to hear what they say.”
GAMMA TEAM -58:32
“Ain’t this a fancy little nook?” Mal said as he stared at the riches, most opulent room he had ever seen.
The area had been behind intense security – no less than three guard stations had to be passed before this – call it a ‘compound’ – could be entered. They didn’t have much choice. While the maps showed that they should have been able to just go through the section where the hibernation capsules were housed, in practice the blast doors were locked tight. It was unlikely that they would open until the main computer was activated.
This way had been the next shortest route to the Engine Room. It had been listed as RESTRICTED – IMPERIAL INTELLIGENCE, which only made them curious. But it had turned out to be just a series of residential rooms, including a small banquet hall, servants’ quarters, kitchen, conference room, library, offices, and such – nothing you would ordinary associate with an Intel division. Right now Book and Johnny were leading the men through the rest of the section in two groups, to ensure that they didn’t miss anything important. Like this bedroom. He had taken Inara with him as he searched, not realizing just where the hallway led to.
It encompassed sections of two decks, which raised the ceiling of the room beyond the ship-wide norm. He supposed they had to: no other way to hang a chandelier that big without a powerful amount of head room. The carpeting was a plush, deep pile white synthetic, and the bed furnishings on the mammoth four-poster were a rich, luxurious royal blue. Silk hangings that would have been curtains, had their been windows, lined the room, broken only by a number of big, expansive oil paintings and richly calligraphed scrolls, with occasional bits of sculpture here and there.
“And here I thought your crib was lush,” Mal continued, moving towards the bed. Inara didn’t say anything. She was looking at art. “Any of those worth anything?”
“Well the youngest of them is obviously over a hundred years old,” she said appraisingly. “I know that one is a Li, that scroll is a Hubei, and that is a Masuzawa. Each one is worth . . . at least ten thousand, probably more.” She moved on, and her eyebrows raised dramatically. “That one is a Constable.”
“A cop?” Mal asked.
“No, an English painter. Earth-That-Was. Very famous.”
“What is it worth?”
“I’m sure I can find a price.”
Inara sighed. “Well, the Metropolitan on Sihnon would give you at least eight million for it. The Royal Museum on Londinium would double that.”
“Pretty picture,” Mal nodded, appreciatively. “This musta been some big-time VIP’s room.”
“Probably for visiting ambassadors, that kind of thing,” agreed Inara. “Although it’s . . . it doesn’t quite feel right that way.”
“What do you mean? No mint on the pillow?”
“No, it’s the art.”
“Ain’t art one of those things ambassadors like? ‘Course, you’re the only ambassador I ever met.”
“It isn’t the presence of the art. It’s the kind of art that’s displayed. The décor in diplomatic quarters is indeed richly appointed. But usually the decorations reflect the best of the home culture. If that were the case, then that Constable . . . and that Rodin? Wouldn’t be here. It would be nothing but ethnically Chinese pieces. In consideration of the cultural attitudes of the Yuanese, I doubt they would even permit a Masuzawa to hang here.”
“Wasn’t Japan part of China?”
“Not until very late, in the Greater China period, just before the Exodus. Before that they were bitter rivals. Japan even invaded and came close to conquering China at one point. But that’s political history. No, whoever put this collection together, they were flattering their sense of self-importance, not showing off for visiting dignitaries.”
“The Emperor’s quarters, then?”
“Or the Captain’s. Maybe a member of the Imperial family? Hard to say.”
“Make a note to pick that up on the way out,” he said. “And maybe some of these gold knick-knacks. I was just sayin’ th’other day how Serenity needed a solid gold snuff-box for the kitchen. Real classy, like.”
Inara grinned despite herself. “I’m amazed I hadn’t noticed the lack before.”
“So you’d say the gelt in this room is worth a pile?”
“Two piles. With change.”
Mal looked around some more. “Enough to retain you for the rest of your life?” he asked, casually.
The question caught her totally off guard, making her catch her breath sharply. While her confounded mind struggled for an answer – a response – a vague idea what he meant – Mal continued his tour, opening drawers and the tastefully concealed closets.
“Looks like the occupant was a fella,” he remarked idly, looking at a closet full of distinctly masculine clothes, most in white and blue. “Tall one, by the size of his shirts.” He closed the door and went to the next one.
“Mal, about what you said – you weren’t seriously thinking of . . . proposing that I . . . you can’t honestly think that . . . I mean, it’s just that . . .” She took a deep breath and tried desperately to marshal her thoughts. “It’s just that it’s rare for a Companion to accept a long-term proposal like that,” she said, carefully. “It’s not about the money. I mean it is about money, it’s fee-for-service, but the vocation is as important – more important,” she corrected herself, “than the financial end of things. Such a proposal would be . . . difficult for any Companion to accept without . . . a truly in-depth study of the ramifications of such a move. I—”
“Don’t get your frillies twisted, Ambassador, I was just curious. My God, that’s a lot of shoes for a man ain’t sly! Hm. Maybe he was sly. Anyway, I’m sure I ain’t up to regular Companion standards, anyhow. Not accordin’ to that test you gave me on Salisbury. I ain’t even done that ‘worthy deed’ that came with this pigsticker you gave me.”
“Mal, I told you to forget about that silly custom!” she said hotly. “It wasn’t what I had in mind when I gave that to you!”
“Heh. Well, I’m sure a worthy deed’ll be by soon enough, then you can take it back, keep it under your pillow or whatever. Even with that, you’ve made it clear I don’t measure up. Fair ‘nuff. ‘Sides, I had that much money, not sure I’d be right to invest it in such a volatile commodity,” he said, shooting her a look. “Not the most secure investment opportunity, now is it?”
“It’s as . . . solid as it ever was!” she shot back, her face burning.
“Then there’s the whole issue of ‘appreciation’ versus ‘depreciation’. Gotta take that into account,” he said as he opened another door.
“Oh? You think you could do better?” she asked hotly.
“Well,” Mal said, his eyes locked on the interior of the last closet he’d opened. “Might could, might not. But if I were a wagerin’ man, I’d gotta say that she,” he said, opening the closet wide, so she could see the interior, “might have a few less miles on ‘er.”
Inara gasped. Within the closet was a single hibernation pod, one with an elaborate gold housing and a carbon glass window that revealed the face of the person inside. Of the girl inside. The control lights around her face revealed a stunningly beautiful young Sinic girl – Chinese, no doubt – who could not have been a day over twenty. She stood in repose in her chamber like a fairy princess who had been encased in crystal.
“Wu de tyen ah!” Inara breathed. “Is she alive? Who is she?”
“She looks alive – a might frigid, but a fella could get beyond that, looks like hers. As far as who she is, it’s probably on her capsule’s manifest. I ain’t no expert, but I believe all the vitals were stored there, ‘case a ship cracked up and the capsules get rescued after.”
“Oh my God! Mal, we must release her!”
“She’s probably one of the room’s . . . accommodations. Like the bed, or that mirror. Y’know, somethin’ for guests to use, keep ‘em comfortable.”
“All right! Let’s see who this little girl might be.” He read the manifest, which apparently didn’t take very long. He looked up at Inara. “Huh. Ain’t that interestin’.”
“What? What is it? Is she . . . sick? Diseased?”
“Don’t know. Manifest only got her name. No stats. No age, no medicals, no history, nothin’.”
“Well who is she?”
“The name here reads ‘Nyan Nyan’,” he said, simply.
Thursday, December 08, 2005 4:19 PM
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