BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA

CERES

Zoe's story
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Only Joss can tell Zoe's real story, but this is my version - how Zoe gets revenge on an old enemy.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1895    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Zoe closed her old diary and held it close to her as Mal climbed down into her room. ‘We’re one hour from docking,’ he said. ‘An ETA of 10:00 local time. Sent your grandpa a wave, let him know we’re near. We got time to stop this time round the quadrant but I had the notion you weren’t much in for family time,’ Mal pointed out, but he looked preoccupied as he picked up one of several shirts spread along the end of the bed. ‘Guess I ain’t the same person now,’ said Zoe quietly. Mal nodded thoughtfully and glanced round the room, taking in the mess, clothes and possessions scattered everywhere. He looked puzzled. ‘You having a yard sale?’ he joked. ‘Just sorting out our things,’ Zoe replied. ‘Oh --, yeah --, guess I ain’t gonna be winning any prizes for tact and diplomacy any time soon,’ he said. ‘Don’t think that’s likely sir,’ Zoe agreed with a small smile as she took the Hawaiian shirt from him and folded it carefully into a box. Their eyes met for a moment and Zoe was comforted by the understanding she saw in his face. Mal pressed his hand on her shoulder, then left to check out the bridge. Zoe put her diary carefully back in the drawer by her bed, remembering clearly the last time she’d written in it. Life had changed in the last week of school when she’d gone into the Principal’s office expecting a lecture, but she was told that there’d been an accident, a fire. Neither of her parents had survived and she’d been offered a home now with her grandpa and aunt Lucy. She locked those memories down in her brain with other emotions too raw to examine, so that she was ready to face the day. ----------------------------------------

Serenity landed on a piece of wasteland not far from the house, avoiding the vineyards this area of the planet was famous for. The crew left Serenity and walked down a dirt road towards the gate. ‘Are you sure your grandpa will want to welcome all of us?’ asked Inara. ‘Yes. There’s always so many people, seven more won’t – make – any – difference,’ Zoe’s voice trailed off uncertainly as she took in the sight of the deserted house and land. A wooden sign at the gate painted with the words Longridge Winery had fallen off at some time and been inexpertly repaired with several nails. ‘Not what you were expecting?’ asked Mal. ‘Something’s wrong, ain’t never been this quiet,’ replied Zoe. The front door opened and a petite silver-haired woman appeared. ‘Zoe,’ she exclaimed rushing to give Zoe a hug. ‘I heard the ship but I was busy in the house.’ An older man followed her and walked towards them. ‘Grandpa,’ said Zoe giving him a gentle kiss on the cheek. ‘It’s good to see you, girl, you’re looking fine,’ he said. ‘Sergeant Reynolds -,’ he moved forward to shake Mal’s hand. ‘Lieutenant Alleyne. Heard plenty ‘bout you. Good to put a face to the name.’ Zoe introduced the rest of the crew. ‘Let’s go and sit down,’ she suggested. ----------------------------------

Lucy brought in some bread, cheese and fruit on a tray. ‘There’s not much,’ she said with some concern in her voice, ‘we mostly eat what we can grow here.’ ‘It looks delicious,’ said Simon taking a piece of apple. ‘Compared to what we eat on the ship it’s wonderful.’ ‘Hey,’ said Kaylee taking offence. Kaylee often volunteered to do the cooking when the crew were eating together and she was proud of her ability to change the bland protein into something tasty and edible. ‘I didn’t mean -,’ Simon stammered, ‘that wasn’t what I meant – you know I didn’t mean that Kaylee -.’ She ignored him and taking some cheese she sat next to River. ‘I’ll eat anything,’ said Jayne taking a bit of everything. ‘So you lived here after school?’ Inara asked Zoe. Yes, she was such a taciturn girl when she came here,’ said Lucy answering for her, ‘she helped on the land grudgingly and in the house reluctantly, but she settled in quickly.’ ‘Taciturn, huh? Who’d have thought it,’ Mal grinned at Zoe. Zoe made a face at him. She didn’t mind so long as Lucy didn’t bring out the family pictures. The Lieutenant laughed, ‘Zoe escaped most of the time and joined my old army buddies, drinking coffee and listening to their stories. Ain’t any of ‘em left now,’ he mused. ‘They taught her how to shoot, how to hunt and fish, y’know the art of survival. By the time war was declared my Zoe was as keen to join up as any seasoned soldier.’ He looked at her proudly. ‘What’s happened grandpa?’ asked Zoe. ‘Didn’t used to be like this. You had money, employed people. What’s changed?’ ‘Didn’t want to worry you girl. Had enough troubles of your own. It’s Oren Tyler, owns the big hotel in town, loyal to the Alliance. Now he owns half the property too and the town’s gotten real prosperous, but if you fought for the other side, struck out for independence, he makes sure you don’t sell anything, makes sure no-one buys from you. Folks helped us to start with, gave their own time at harvest, but they got families, I ain’t gonna let them work for nothing so I told them to go.’ ‘Ruttin’ Alliance scum,’ scowled Jayne. We gotta do something, grandpa,’ said Zoe. ‘Yeah,’ said Mal thoughtfully. ‘I guess I can work somethin’ out. If there ain’t a market, we gotta work out how to create one.’ --------------------------------

Mal and Inara left the shuttle outside the town and walked down the main street, turning the corner into the central square. ‘Oh, I didn’t expect it to be so pretty,’ Inara gasped in admiration. ‘I expected glass and steel, but this looks like a perfect picture from Earth-that-was.’ ‘Yeah, outstanding,’ said Mal, more interested in the job than in fake nineteenth century architecture. They entered the hotel up some wide wooden steps. Mal and Inara were both very smartly dressed. ‘You sure you’re confident ‘bout this,’ asked Mal ‘Of course,’ replied Inara. ‘You’d be surprised. A companion’s training would be incomplete without a knowledge of wine.’ They walked to the bar and asked to speak to Oren Tyler. ‘Sure he’s here,’ said the bartender and made a sign to some one standing near them. ‘Oren Tyler? Pleased t’ meet you,’ said Mal holding out his hand. ‘I’m James Nesbitt this is my wife Alana.’ Inara gave him a captivating smile, ‘you received the wave we sent you? We heard you can cut an excellent deal on the wine we need to import back to Boros. Whatever you can supply, if it’s good, we’ll buy it.’ ‘Sounds good, but there’s a big order going through now. See the woman there, she’s buying most of what I got,’ Oren said. Mal took more interest in the woman standing near the bar giving instructions to her assistant. She looked like the despotic dictator of some little moon he decided. Inara gave her one quick glance – too blonde, too many gold rings, too much make-up, very expensive shoes. She smiled scornfully and returned to using all her charm on Oren. Suddenly the door flew open and a great hulk of a man strode into the bar. Jayne Cobb hadn’t ever had much reason to act. His debut performance had only included one line – ‘we applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neuro-reaction from either patient’ – and it hadn’t met with much critical acclaim, but this time he was determined to do his best. ‘You tah mah duh hwoon dahn,’ yelled Jayne raising his fist at Mal. ‘What they been tellin’ you? he asked Oren. ‘I been doing all the work and these hoe-tze duh pee-goo jump in and take my business.’ Jayne grabbed Mal by his shirt and cracked his fist across Mal’s chin sending him crashing into the bar Inara’s scream was real enough, ‘what are you doing you shiong-mung duh kwong-run ?’ Jayne pointed his finger into her face. ‘Don’t think I wouldn’t hit you too, lady,’ he hissed then he fell backwards as two men grabbed his arms and pulled him towards the door. ‘You been done,’ he shouted, ‘whatever they’re payin’ you, I’d ‘ve paid more. You change yer mind I’ll be in the bar across the street,’ he finished as he was shoved outside. ‘What was that?’ asked Oren. ‘Jay Armstrong,’ replied Mal rubbing his chin. ‘The competition. His mother owns a rival business but they ain’t getting’ nowhere.’ ‘Uncivilised trash,’ said Inara, ‘you don’t want to deal with him. Can we discuss business on any stock you’ve got left? -----------------------------

Jayne was propping up the bar nursing a whiskey when Oren walked in. ‘Jay Armstrong is that right?’ asked Oren. Jayne had picked Jay as a name so he couldn’t get too confused. ‘Yeah sure,’ said Jayne. ‘You wanna do business.’ Oren Tyler was looking pleased with himself. He’d worked out how he was going to make a lot of money and his plan was going well. ‘You deal in wine,’ he said, ‘you don’t look the sort.’ ‘Ma does all the business. I do the distances. Can’t stand the stuff meself,’ asserted Jayne. ‘Whiskey’s my drink.’ ‘I can get you some real good stuff but it’ll cost you,’ offered Oren. ‘Sure, ma’s got orders going out, she don’t wanna lose her best customers. Rather pay a bit more than lose them,’ Jayne said. ‘Sounds like we can do business,’ Oren nodded. ‘I’ll get everything organized, let you know when it’s ready.’ ----------------------------

Oren Tyler knocked on the door and Aunt Lucy rushed through the hall to answer it, wiping the flour from her hands on to her apron. She took him through where the Lieutenant, Zoe and Simon were waiting. ‘You ain’t welcome here,’ said the Lieutenant. ‘Now here I am puttin’ the past behind us, doing you a good turn and you’re cuttin’ me,’ said Oren. ‘The day you do me a good turn is the day I get worried. I got my granddaughter here to help me now. I ain’t listenin’ to you,’ he replied. ‘Yeah we don’t need your help,’ said Zoe tersely. ‘Been a long time since I’ve seen you Zoe but you always struck me as someone who ain’t stupid. I’m willin’ to buy all your stock and give you full price for it.’ Oren countered. ‘Over my dead body,’ said the Lieutenant. ‘Seein’ as how I’m tryin’ to forget the past I reckon I can add 10 per cent. I got the coin,’ Oren said. Zoe looked at him through narrowed eyes. ‘I’m thinking about it,’ she said. ‘Zoe you do this and I’m givin’ up and lyin’ down till the day I die,’ said the Lieutenant. ‘Don’t seem no point in turning down a good offer though,’ said Zoe. Oren nodded. ‘Take my word for it Zoe, family’s more important than money. Don’t do this,’ said Simon. Zoe raised an eyebrow. ‘Full price plus 25 per cent take it or leave it.’ ‘You’ve got sense Zoe. I’ll be back with the trucks,’ he said as he left to get everything organised. Zoe laughed and turned to Simon who grinned back at her. ‘The captain has some good ideas I guess,’ he said. -------------------------

Inara and Mal wandered slowly back to her shuttle which they’d left concealed behind some trees. Inara unsealed the door and Mal followed her in. ‘Lie down on the bed and I’ll get you some ice for that bruise,’ Inara suggested. Mal took off his boots and lay down on the rich red silk. ‘Be gentle with me I might –Ow,’ he exclaimed. ‘Don’t be such a baby,’ Inara laughed as she held the wrapped ice to his face and placed his hand over it to keep it in place. ‘I’ll see if I can find a sedative to help you sleep.’ Inara poured a few drops of a lurid green liquid in to a glass of water and handed it to Mal to drink. ‘Life ain’t fair,’ Mal complained, ’the one night I get to be in your bed and it feels like I’ve been run over by a truck.’ Inara leaned over so that her face was close to his. ‘How do you know what I’ll do to you while you’re out,’ she said smiling archly. ‘Wh-wh-at?’ asked Mal hazily. ‘I might even give you a new hair cut,’ she laughed as Mal drifted off into a deep sleep. ---------------------------

Kaylee came into the room holding a plate full of cookies. She’d been enjoying herself helping Lucy in the kitchen, using some of their scarce stock of provisions to bake some luxuries. River followed her but stayed slumped against the door, her vision shifting in and out of focus. She looked very pale and her voice sounded strange as she murmured, ‘and they say people don’t look like their pets.’ Both Simon and Kaylee rushed forward to help her, supporting her into the nearest chair. ‘She looks like she used to – before Miranda,’ said Simon in a shocked voice. ‘Simon I hope she’s OK,’ said Kaylee anxiously. ‘It looks serious,’ Zoe frowned, as River leaned forward and hazily tried to reach hold of a book on the table. ‘You starting a book club,’ she slurred and then laughed maniacally. Simon scrambled to his feet, ‘Look after her, I’m going for my med kit.’ He shot out through the door and Kaylee took River by the hand. ‘You’ll be OK sweetie. Simon’ll be back, he’ll make you better.’ She looked at Zoe helplessly as River slumped forward with her head in her hands. Lucy came in to the room holding a china jug. ‘Kaylee, where’s the wine I was cooking with?’ she asked. ‘I don’t know,’ replied Kaylee looking puzzled. Zoe looked at the jug and then at River. ‘What you been drinking girl?’ she asked. ‘Grape juice, purple, pretty,’ said River laughing again as Simon ran in to the room, ‘if you got guests I can come back later.’ ‘I’m guessing River’s been on the grape juice, doc. Don’t reckon you’ll need that now,’ said Zoe as he put the med kit on the table. --------------------------

Oren arrived back into town as Jayne left the bar where he'd been passing the time talking with whoever came in. Oren was in a good mood, things were going his way, and he felt pleasantly superior to the second-rate businessman who couldn't keep his anger in check. Still he was going to enjoy fleecing him for every extra coin he could. ’Jay come ‘n have a look at the warehouse, see what’s the business you’re dealing with,’ he said putting his hand on Jayne's shoulder steering him towards a large wooden building. ‘I've got everything sorted out,’ Oren said. ‘It's been a good year,’ he bragged, ‘I'm supplying everything for the Niska's soiree this year. You've seen Klara Niska? Ah no, she was leavin’ when you burst in. She comes here every year, he’s joining her this evening. You heard of Adelai Niska? Killed his wife's nephew they say, 'cause he crossed him. Some people ain't got no sense.’ The crew would've been proud of Jayne. A slight narrowing of his eyes, a slight pressure of his fingers on his knife were the only signs he gave as he improvised quickly, ‘Yeah guess I've heard of him, ain't he the one behind the jewelry scam on Bellerophon.’ ‘No no,’ Oren laughed. What sort of an idiot was this who hadn't even heard of Adelai Niska? ‘I gotta go,’ he said, ‘got things to do.’ Jayne made his way back to his shuttle. He couldn't risk being seen going to the other shuttle, besides Mal probably wasn’t best pleased with him at the moment for not pulling his punches. He contacted Zoe back at the house. Zoe stared at the screen as Jayne logged off. She’d seen too much suffering to worry about what Oren had done, she just wanted to make sure her grandpa had the money to move away. But Niska was different. She was tempted to take her gun and blow his head off, but she knew she didn't have the back up to start gang warfare. Maybe put a bomb in the cargo, blow him out of the air, but then too many innocent people would die with him. ‘Innocent? Well as innocent as any of us,’ thought Zoe. Where was Mal with one of his crazy get-us-all-killed schemes when she needed him? She thumped her fist down on the table in frustration, knocking Simon’s med kit onto the floor. ‘Hey,’ he said giving her a look of annoyance. He began to pick up the drugs and instruments, putting them back in to place. Zoe watched him. ‘Hey doc,’ she said, ‘you still got the drugs Jayne brought back when Wash and the Captain got took?’ Yes. I can see why Jayne brought them back,’ he admitted, ‘and I concealed them well, but I don't think they'll be valid. The crate was too long in the heat and light, probably denatured them.’ ’It don't matter for our purpose,’ Zoe said. She thought a bit longer then said, ‘once Oren’s taken the stock and paid us, we’ll get the drugs from Serenity, then this is what we’ll do ----.’ ---------------------------- As darkness fell Zoe, Kaylee, Simon and River loaded the defunct drugs on to the mule and drove into town. At the warehouse, Zoe could see Jayne waiting for them. Simon pulled Kaylee towards him and kissed her. ‘Be careful,’ he said in a concerned voice. ‘You too,’ Kaylee whispered. Simon and River walked off to find Oren’s hotel. They had put on the smartest clothes they could find and had a story ready for anyone who asked but no-one stopped them. They found their way to Niska’s suite where River closed her eyes and concentrated, then punched the security code into the door lock, which opened with a click. All was quiet inside, there was nothing to protect in here so Niska’s personnel were with him and his wife. ‘Where’s the cortex access? Can you see it?’ asked Simon. ‘Here,’ replied River going over to a console near the windows. ‘Here’s the disk,’ said Simon handing her a transparent disk. River tapped away at the console, hacking in to top secret files and downloading it all to the disk. The itineraries of every high-ranking government official, with their precise movements, were soon available. ‘Celek vůle být dobře má druh,’ she said, ‘there, I’ve added some Czech to make it authentic. I’ve ring-fenced it to conceal which portal it’s being downloaded to, but any good agent should be able to crack it.’ ‘River, you are amazing. I hope you’re not thinking of growing a big black mustache,’ Simon grinned. ‘Huh?’ said River giving him a quizzical look. ‘A joke,’ said Simon smiling,’ - from more than a lifetime ago,’ he ended sadly. ‘After Miranda the government are very insecure. Any sign of trouble and they’ll jump like “cats on a hot tin roof” was Zoe’s expression.’ River disconnected the disk. ‘A colloquialism, but in this case appropriate. If a government official is about to scratch his nose or pluck her eyebrows it’s on here. We give this to Zoe now?’ ‘Yes. This is the trap, Zoe’s setting the bait,’ said Simon. -------------------------

Kaylee watched Simon and River walk away, then turned to join Zoe and Jayne. ‘You got this covered, Kaylee?’ asked Zoe. ‘Ain’t gonna be no problem,’ Kaylee replied. She attached the gadget she was carrying to the fence post and connected up some wires. As she turned a dial a gap appeared in the pulses of the security fence big enough to let Zoe and Jayne through, each carrying a case of wine bottles. Once inside the warehouse it was easy to find Niska’s consignment of goods and they put their boxes down next to it. Jayne opened these and Zoe took one of the bottles out, checking it with her light. She could see the drugs packed down and resealed inside the bottle. ‘Might as well take the best,’ Zoe said tapping her hand on a box. While Jayne opened several cases of wine, Zoe replaced them with their own drug-filled bottles. Resealing all but one of the boxes they waited until Simon arrived with the disk. ‘We’ve gotta hide this well,’ said Zoe, removing the packing from the last box. ‘If it’s too easy they’ll smell a set up.’ She repacked the case putting the bottles of drugs over the hidden disk. They joined Kaylee and River outside then Kaylee removed the pulse-blocker from the fence. ‘You find public access to the cortex, Jayne?’ asked Zoe. ‘Affirmative,’ said Jayne. ‘Affirmative? What you been watching?’ laughed Kaylee. ‘Contact the Sheriff at Paradiso, let him know that the hwoon dahn who bankrolled the train job is running drugs again. Give him enough info, not too much, he can do the rest,’ ordered Zoe, ‘and remember keep the scanner covered and your gloves on.’ ‘I ain’t stupid,’ scowled Jayne. ‘Remember is all,’ repeated Zoe. Jayne went back into town and Zoe joined the others in the mule. They still had several hours work to do helping Lucy and the Lieutenant load all their household goods into Serenity. -----------------------------

Hours later Mal woke up and as he couldn’t see Inara he opened the shuttle door and stood breathing in the fresh morning air, enjoying the sensation of this sun on his face. Inara came up behind him. ‘Do you feel better now?’ she asked. ‘Yeah shiny,’ he replied turning to look at her. ‘How do you do that?’ he asked reaching out to stroke a lock of her hair. ‘Do what?’ she queried. ‘Look like the perfect lady at this time of the morning,’ he replied. ‘You’ve been asleep for hours,’ she laughed. ‘We just had a wave from Zoe. There’s more than one reason we need to leave here in a hurry.’ ‘Ain’t there always,’ he groaned. --------------------------

Back in town Oren Tyler was waiting happily for James and Alana Nesbitt before he went off to finish his deal with Jay Armstrong. He reckoned this was going to be a good year for him. ---------------------------

Everyone sat round the table in Serenity’s dining area. Kaylee had cooked a wonderful meal with some of the food brought from the house. The Lieutenant had brought some wine with him and three bottles of Longridge 2500 were on the table. ‘I’ve put the winery up for sale with Greenwood’s. Land’s cheap here it won’t bring much, but it’ll be a bit for Lucy when I’m gone, he said. ‘You looking to settle in Newhall?’ asked Mal. ‘I think it’s for the best now,’ replied Lucy. ‘I heard you played your part real well Jayne,’ said the Lieutenant. Jayne beamed under the unexpected praise, ‘I’m still learnin’ but one day I’m gonna get me a ship of my own,’ he said. ‘Got a name picked out an’ everything. Gonna call it Titanic.’ ‘That’s real shiny,’ Kaylee smiled nodding her approval. Simon’s eyebrows shot up, ‘are you sure that’s what you want to call it?’ Jayne scowled. ‘What ain’t the name fancy enough for you doc?’ ‘No no,’ Simon gave a short laugh, ‘it’s perfect.’ The Lieutenant put a box on the table and said, ‘I’ve been keepin’ this for a special occasion. Finish your drinks.’ He opened the box and pulled out a bottle of Bluelane 2350. ‘Over 150 years old, this wine.’ As he opened it he poured a little in to each of nine glasses. ‘To give an old-fashioned toast, Your Good Health.’ Everyone raised their glass then took a drink of the wine. There was silence in the room as they all searched for something to say. ‘I guess it didn’t last,’ Zoe said.

COMMENTS

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:27 AM

BELLONA


gah!!! my name is bellona!!!

b

Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:18 PM

NYKEGYRL


Loved it!! More please

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 11:56 AM

KAYNA


That's a great little story. Nice ending. "I guess it didn't last" hmm?

Friday, December 23, 2011 2:17 PM

IWANTOMARRYWASH


‘I guess it didn’t last,’ Zoe said.

perfect :0


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