Legacy 2:02, A Question of Sins
Monday, January 16, 2006

Jacob and the battered Legacy make a long stop on Mister Universe's moon to patch up their hurt. Only problem is while they were healing, Anne's past is running to catch up with her, and Friday recieves an unsettling message.


After all that they'd just gone through, I figured it was about time to give them some breathing space. A brief stopover with the new Mister Universe gave them a chance to regroup after the unpleasantness that they've suffered. More important than that, however, is the introduction of a new Big Damn Villain. Or should I say two. Do you know what yoursin is? All your Serenity are belong to Joss. Every damn thing else is mine. I'll take one order of feedback with a side of response.

A Question of Sins

"We close enough now?" Jacob asked. The mechanic nodded, and the captain flicked on a screen in front of the pilot's chair. Or at least, he tried to. "Why the hell won't this thing turn on?" he asked his wife and pilot, who was lounging in the mentioned chair staring up toward him. She smiled a bit with a shrug. "I had them disconnected," she said simply. "Now why in the hell would you do that?" he asked gently. "Mayhaps I don't like the idea of folk watchin' me when I'm flyin'. Or when we're finding other uses for this chair." "Oh, God, make it stop," Zane feigned disgust. He flipped a few switches on the copilot's seat, and waved the captain over. The Cortex screen flickered own, showing a middle aged gentleman with bright eyes and hair just beginning to get shot through with grey. Despite the physical symptoms of age, the way he grinned as the screen popped on made him seem Zane's age. "Zane!" the man shouted. "Can't say I expected to see you again, after that last business." "We both came out alive. Well, except for that bottle they broke 'cross your head," Zane laughed. "Hey, that really hurt. Weren't like you got much better. If I recall, there were pool cues..." the man responded gamely. "Zane?" Jacob asked. "What the hell?" "Oh, right," Zane said. "This is Jacob Greyson, captain of this little boat." "Yeah, noticed you were callin' a mite closer than any planet," the man's gaze flit around, as if taking in feeds from other screens. "I told you you'd never last long on the ground, and Jiangyin's about as grounded as a fella can get. What kinda ship is she?" "Firefly. More'n a bit banged up, though. Thinkin' we should be spending some time on Ion patchin' our hurt," the man nodded, staring at something else above the camera that was recording his image. Finally, the man turned and shouted to something in the background. "Fi! Feed that IFF into the FCS," he shouted. "Don't want the autoguns knockin' you out of the sky, I think?" "Fi?" Jacob asked. "I'm still waitin' on hearing who the hell you are." "Ain't it obvious?" the man said, spreading his arms. "I'm Mister Universe." "Mister Universe is dead," Jacob pointed out. "Mister Universe can't never die," the man laughed. "Can't stop the signal, and where there's a signal, there's Mr. Universe," Jacob and Zane shared a look. "Hey, don't make faces." "So," Jacob declared. "You've moved in and set up shop?" "Could say that. By now you should be reading the Ion Cloud. It'll play merry hob with your sensors, but pretty pretty lights and a few miles later you'll be on our doorstep. Patch your hurt, you said?" he asked. "We're kinda bleedin' out the ears," Zane admitted. Mr. Universe leaned away from the camera gain. "Bao bei, wake up that lazy-ass brother of Fi's and tell him we got a job for him," he yelled. "How many a' y'all are down there?" Jacob asked. "Me and the miss, Fi and her brother." "Mister Universe worked alone," Jacob said. "I ain't him," the current Mr. Universe said sadly. "I'll see you when you hit the planet." "Wait, where the hell on the planet are we supposed to go? This ain't exactly the biggest moon we ever saw, but still." "Just follow the Fruity Oaty Bar in," he said with a grin. As soon as the words were gone, the commercial began. "Fruity Oaty Bars, make a man out of a mouse," it cheerfully belted, and Jacob stared close at the screen. Nearly the same color as the insane background was a set of coordinates. "Shoot that over to Anne," he said, walking to her console, which caught the thing right as the squid made its appearance. "Eat them all the time, let us blow your mind!" it continued. Jacob shook his head. He never understood what these folk were thinkin' making a commercial that was so unforgivably odd. Jingle was catchy as hell, though. That there was utter cruelty. "You catch that?" Jacob asked. Anne grinned almost childishly. She turned to the mechanic. "Play it again!" Jacob rubbed his eye as that damned tune started playing again. <> Mister Universe didn't usually get visitors. Sure, he did get a lot of requests for information, or help hacking a system, but when it came to meeting folk, he didn't get much of a chance to hone his skills. So when that ship made its fairly ungraceful landing on his hidden landing pad, looking no small bit tore up, he was itching to see some new faces. Miss Universe was as always by his side. She didn't completely understand her husband's obsession with 'the signal', but she'd sworn to stand by her man. He'd already been there while they raised their children into adulthood. Now, by her estimation, he was retired. That, she could understand. The ramp slid down part of the way, but jammed, forcing its occupants to crawl out around the edge. When they finally dropped to the ground, Mister Universe took his first step toward them. Most of them looked more'n a little banged up themselves. The captain, Greyson by name, clutched at a spot on his chest, and Zane had a bruise, nearly gone, just above his left ear. The crew, limping though it was, made their way to him, Zane outstripping all of them with his long, ground eating strides. When the two men met, both paused. Not exactly sure how to progress, he warrented. "It's good to see you again, Zane," Mister Universe said, extending his hand. Zane grinned and accepted it. "Likewise, Verne," the mechanic said, before turning to the older man's wife. "And Shelley, ain't seen you in a dog's life." "Zane?" Mister Universe muttered. "Shuh muh?" "Why'd you go and do that?" he asked. "Do what?" "Tell them my name?" The mechanic laughed. By this point, Greyson finally made his way to where the two had met in the middle. "Boss here thinks you could do with a head-deflatin', so deflate your head I do." "Verne," Greyson said with a deadpan face. "Look what you've done," Verne muttered. "I have a reputation to keep, you know?" "Cole still workin' for you?" Zane asked, looping his arm around the shorter man's shoulders. "Of course!" Verne "Couldn't run this place without him and his sister." "His sister," Zane smiled distantly. "You're gonna have to introduce us. Don't think I've met her yet." "Look," Verne interrupted. "We may be friends, but I can't just wave my hands and repair your ship. It's not exactly cheap just running this little operation, and I don't have nearly the skill at tapping accounts as the last Mister Universe did." "Won't be a problem," Jacob said. "We've got a good deal of right cashy money coming our way and coming quick." "Hate to say it, though," Verne muttered. "That ship doesn't look like it's worth saving. I can get you a great deal on a Dragonfly, though. Great engine, low mileage..." "Cost ain't exactly an object," Jacob said. "Whatever it takes, point of fact." Mister Universe shook his head. "I never could understand why some get so attached to their ship." "They get attached out of love," Zane said. "Love keeps a ship in the air. And you not havin' none for yours is what dropped her on that mu yi di nao tan keh moon four years back." Verne scowled. "I thought you didn't know Chinese?" "Had to pick it up sometime." He shook his head. "Fine. Anything else I can get you? A first class ticket on the El Dorado? A signed Ace of Spades from Jack Leland? Cargohold full of cattle?" "Actually," Jacob said, keeping up despite his obvious pain. "We need you to send a Wave to Logan Kell. He's got one of our crew on his ship, as well as the cashy money I done spoke on." Verne glanced at his wife, and his hands twitched in quiet sign language to her. "You haven't weighed in on this, Shelley. What's your opinion?" His wife, born deaf, looked back at him. "I wasn't paying attention. It is company though," she signed back. "I do miss having company." <> It was a boring job. There were no two ways about that. Every day, he'd come in to work, make sure everything was the same place it was the day before, and walk out having done nothing of any note whatsoever. It was stable, and safer than any job he could think of, but by God it was dull. Mostly, he spent the time writing. He wasn't a professional, by any stretch of the imagination, but in a job like this, one had a lot of free time, and not much else to fill it with. The New Paris depository wasn't exactly the most exciting place to be. Neither, in point of fact, was Bernadette on whole, but the Rim Yokels never seemed to tire of goggling at the Prometheus, or wandering New Paris' somewhat meager promanades. Despite being deeper in the Core than any planet in the system, Bernadette felt entirely too much like a Border world. One particular line was snagging at him. A line of dialogue between his two protagonists, now at each other's throats. He couldn't quite figure out how to make the exchange seem brutal and unrehearsed. His wife said sometimes he made people say things they couldn't think of in the situations he put them in. She knew what she was talking about, he admitted, but he didn't want his characters yehawing and ain'ting like some backwater rube. It just wasn't civilized. Samuel got up from his station and went back into the kitchen to dump out the now cold coffee and pour himself another mug. The machine was near empty, so he took the time to brew up an entirely new batch. In his head, he kept running through lines, possibilities. Something that would be noble, yet spontaneous. He wracked his brain as the coffee percolated, but nothing came. Nothing his wife would agree to, anyway. Finally, he poured himself a mug of fresh coffee and took a sip. That was one of the few good things about this job: working for the Parliment meant he didn't have to put up with the Blue Sun brand Coffee. Yes, it was coffee, but that was it. This place shelled out for the premium blends, things more of his taste. He smiled a bit, and returned back down that long corridor to his lonely workplace. When he pushed the door open, he almost dropped his cup. An Asian man was sitting on the corner of Samuel's desk, fingers lightly pressing on a DataBook that had been removed from its niche. Near him, a tall, lithe blonde woman was running her eyes along the wall from which it had been retrieved. She was fully dressed, and well dressed besides, but he had to actively coach his brain away from uncivil thoughts. "Excuse me?" Samuel said. "Can I help you?" "That depends," the Asian man said. "It depends on whether you know what we want to." "I'm sorry," Samuel said. Three weeks without a single visitor, and now two. And both more than a touch unsettling, in his humble opinion. "You shouldn't be in here without clearance." The blonde turned to him, brushing a strand of her short hair away from her eye and stared at him. Samuel swollowed. "Unless," he stammered, "of course, you do have clearance?" The Asian man nodded, speaking flatly. "Right of you to ask." He turned Samuel's own monitor around to face him, and pressed his fingertips on the biometric scanner. The transparent cubes spun and melted, showing the parlamentary logo. "Full Parliamental Override," it read. "What does that... Oh," Samuel's eyes grew wide as he beheld the woman sashaying over and placing her own fingertips on the screen. The cubes resolved into the same logo, with the same three confusing words. "Full Parliamental Override." "Of course," Samuel stammered. "Operatives of the Parliament will have my full cooperation. I don't understand why you would be here, though. There's nothing of..." "That is for us to decide," the Asian man cut in, without raising his eyes from the DataBook. "It doesn't list your rank," Samuel said. "We do not have any. Like this depository, we do not exist," the woman purred. She really did make it hard for him to hold in the naughty thoughts. "Then I take it that these names are?" Samuel began. "False," the one listed as Johnathan said. "However, you are use them. That is their purpose." "Fine then... ah... John. Could you explain your presence here?" he asked falteringly. It didn't help that the one listed as Janet began to circle him, trailing a black-painted nail across his narrow shoulders. "You are aware of the lapse in security that occured at this site nine years ago?" John minced no words, his dark eyes drilling holes into Samuel. The librarian swallowed. He had been afraid something would happen about that, but he didn't ever expect that it would take this long. Or come in this form. He was so... so very fired. "Yes, I am," he said simply. John rose to his feet, running a thumb along the neatly trimmed beard on his jaw. "During the height of the Unification War, a group of spies infiltrated this site and stole documentation regarding the Alliance's force disposition and armament. Were you not the custodian at that time?" John's last sentence, though delivered in his same monotone, struck Samuel by surprise. Busted. "I... ah... I was," he said. No use lying to this man. Especially with that odd woman at his back. He could feel her nails tickling the back of his neck. Operatives had a way of knowing when a man was lying. "Hm." John said. "I believe we have that... Janet? Janet!" Samuel heard a disappointed sigh from behind him, and she sashayed her way back to the desk, opening up a long breifcase which John seemed to have placed there. She pulled out something long and cylindrical, a portable holo-emitter. She placed it on the ground in the dead center of the room. "Please, stand clear of the projection," John said, waiting just long enough for Jane to seat herself on the desk before activating the thing. The emitter let out a quiet hum and the door was now standing ajar. Only holographically, of course, but it seemed to be ajar, and that was what mattered. Four figures dashed into the room, all dressed in black, with masks over their faces. All but one, it seemed. The shortest of them was similarly attired, but long black hair obscured, but did not cover, her delicate, fey features. They spread out into the room, two of them rifling through the DataBooks, another beginning to hack Samuel's computer, and the third knocking out the cameras one by one. When the last camera in the room was disabled, the image went dead. "Stop," John's voice bade. "Backtrack." The image began to move slowly in reverse, the image reappearing, the people moving backwards around the room, placing files back onto the shelves. "Forward slow," Jane said. The image continued forward again, crawling past until just before the last camera was knocked out. "Stop." "What am I looking at?" Samuel asked. "Do you recognize the file on that shelf?" he asked, pointing to the one the short woman was just barely touching. "No, I don't," Samuel answered. "I just watch the files, I'm not cleared to know what is inside them." John nodded sagely. "Of course you do not. It's not your position to know." "That," Jane said, sidling up next to the much shorter woman, "is a highly classified document. Top, very top secret." "There are many secrets here," Samuel said. "Secrets are not our business," John said testily. "Keeping them, is," Jane finished. "What is so special about that particular file?" Samuel asked. "Not your concern," she answered throatily. "It is the business of the Parliament, and let it stand at that," John said. "How can you even be sure she knows what's on that?" he began. "It is not our concern whether she knows," Jane interrupted, but was in turn interrupted by John. "We found epithelial cells on the file. Epithelial cells that came from a woman without any Parliamentary clearance. If she knows," John said. "Her life is forfiet." "And if she doesn't," Jane smiled, "she's just... collateral damage." Samuel glanced around the room, and Jane flicked the control to the emitter. The image shifted, pulling the woman into the center of the room. She might have been cute, he figured. As it was, it looked like she was hiding behind her hair. He stared into her dark, dark eyes. "What's her name?" "That is a problem," John muttered, somehow still making his voice crisp and clear. "We are not sure what it is, now at least." "She vanished entirely more than five years ago," Jane smiled. "So..." Samuel said. "Why are you here?" "We were hoping to find some clue as to her present whereabouts," John said, walking to the librarian's side, watching the still image of the woman. "And did you?" Samuel asked. John glanced his direction, but didn't speak a word. "In older, more civilized cultures," John finally spoke, "when a man was found in betrayal, he would beg to throw himself on his sword." Damn! He knew! He'd let those people in, taking their money in exchange for taking a two hour coffee brake. John was going to rat him out to his employers. He put on a brave face. "Well, that doesn't exactly seem like an option, does it?" he said. He heard a sound of metal ringing along metal. From the desk, Jane grinned savagely as her long-fingered hand pulled up a long, slender sword. Samuel's eyes were locked on the weapon. "Do you know what your sin is?" she asked langorously. "I..." "Sloth," she answered, cutting him off. "You don't want to do this," Samuel said, but John was paying him no attention. Jane got to her feet and began to approach, that weapon held in her hand. His eyes twitched about, and he decided to do what he promised he'd never do. He decided to yehaw and ain't. He threw the first punch of his life, trying to catch John unawares as the man watched the image. The fist was about to connect with the man's jaw when the Operative seemed to flow out of the way, slipping behind Samuel in a heartbeat. His body was thrown off balance, but John helpfully stopped his forward stumble with a hand on his shoulder. Then came a paralyzing, horrifying pain, accompanied by a wet crunch. Then, there was nothing. He could still see the image of the woman, reaching for what was no longer a shelf, he could still see Jane walking toward him, but he couldn't feel anything from his tongue down. Suddenly, he didn't find her the slightest bit attractive, more like some already dangerous animal driven mad and set loose in a village. She kneeled down, facing where John had walked to stand in front of the short woman's eyes. Jane spun the blade about, slamming the pommel of the weapon into the floor, leaving the blade pointed straight up. Directly at Samuel's benumbed body. He felt his center of gravity shifting relentlessly forward, toward that sharp object. Then he fell. He didn't feel the blade cutting him, or in fact anything, but he knew it had impaled him. Jane smiled at him then, something that might have been pretty if there weren't so much madness behind it. "This is a good death," she said, green eyes flashing brightly. "There is no shame in this, a man's death. No shame at all," She smiled up at the image that still hovered in the middle of the room. "We are all making a better world. All of them. Better worlds." Samuel felt himself flipped, and the slight pressure on his ribcage which had been all the indication he had that he'd been stabbed was released. His eyes locked on John, who had reached out his hand to just at the verge of where the image's boundary stood. John whispered into the falling dark, "Where are you hiding, Annebell Roykerk?" <> The two men's staves cracked under the overcast sky as they spun about, one trying to press his advantage, the other trying not to get drubbed in the ribs again. He'd already taken sufficient stabbing pain to put him off of wanting to be stabbed for a while, but Jacob took Sylvia's advice to heart. Better to know how to use a sword and not need to, than to need, and barely know which end of the weapon to hold. So they fought as he healed. He felt stronger with every passing day, no longer hobbling about like an invalid. Early pressed forward again, finally offering what Jacob dearly needed; an opening. Using the larger, stronger man's momentum against him, Jacob managed to turn Jubel's attack, slashing the man's back with the wooden training sword as he slipped past. Were the blade steel, it would have torn out the man's spine. Early recoiled in surprised pain. Jacob had never landed a blow before, and the former bounty hunter scowled as he kneaded his back. "Told you I was getting better," Jacob panted. It felt good to not hurt every time he breathed. Hell, he felt good in general. Kell had made good his word, delivering both Early and Legacy's payment for that big damn job that almost got them all killed over Boros. As well, he had delivered something else. "This is a..." Jacob said in surprise, looking up to the screen. Kell smirked. "I ain't earned this." "You fought for the Independants," Kell replied gruffly. "Don't matter when or how you did, only that you did. You've earned the right to wear the brown. That's yours. You've earned it." Jacob pulled the rich brown duster over his shoulders, thrusting his arms throught he sleeves. The damn thing seemed tailor made for him. He grinned at the fit of it, and Kell nodded. "Looks good on ya, kid," Kell said. "Don't be a stranger, Greyson." Now, Jacob pulled on that brown coat, dispelling the seasonal chill that was working its way into his bones now that he had ceased his physical exersion. He pulled up the scabbard that had laid against the stones of the ground, buckling it into his belt almost without thought. Strange how the weirdest things could become normal in time. "Who's watching Syl?" he asked quietly into the blowing wind. Early scowled. "Friday, right now. I'm on next watch," Jubel responded, buttoning his shirt back up. Syl hadn't recovered. Hell, she hadn't even come close to waking. Since that single word uttered nearly a month ago, she hadn't made a peep. Jacob wasn't taking any chances, though. Even when she was being watched, she was strapped down under enough bindings to hold down a panicked bull. He knew what would happen if she came out of it... changed. Corrupted. Reaved. So she was watched. Only Anne never took a shift, because he knew if she did, Sylvia wouldn't be a problem any longer. He still wondered where she had developed that sort of will. Legacy herself was begin pulled back together nicely. The Crab which was still embeded into her spine had been pulled off, and Cole tore it apart with a vengence, giddy with the opportunity to work with 'Reaver tech'. The repairs on the ship, which ate up most of Legacy's coffers, should have taken a year, according to Cole, but even now Zane was damn near finished. Having both a drydock and a pair of good mechanics working on her, she recovered quick and strong. The two men walked back into the complex, after so long ignoring the computer controlled autocannon which patroled the sky for intruders. After the Alliance last let itself be known on this rock its owners made sure they would walk a bit softer. So far, Jacob and company had been the only folk to leave their bootfalls on the dirt. Wasn't much of a sun to be had on this rock, which made its disappearance with night all the darker. The two went their separate ways once the building closed around them. Early went toward where the rest of the people were, the heart of the place. Jacob went toward the back bay, where Legacy sat in wait. Verne stumbled onto Jacob as he was making his way through the compound. Now that Jacob knew his name, weren't a way in hell he was calling him Mister Universe. Just didn't work, he thought. "Done for the day?" Verne asked. "Right tired," Jacob answered. "Yeah." "I figured as much," Verne said. "Because you're headed toward Lenore's room." Jacob frowned. "I thought it was just you four?" "It is. Kinda. Lenore was here first," he said, nodding to the room. Jacob indulged him and stepped in. A blonde woman was sitting upright in the middle of the room, which had been made into a sort of dias. She stared forward, eyes glassy and unseeing, her limbs completely motionless. Dead? He sniffed the air. No, not dead. It smelled more like plastic. That's when it hit him. Lovebot. Jacob shook his head. "I didn't know Shelley put up with these kinda propensities," he laughed. "Lenore isn't mine," Verne contradicted. "Never was, in point of fact. It belonged to the last Mister Universe." "Really?" Jacob said, taking another step toward it. "You might not want to do that," Verne warned. "Why? What's it going to do? Thrust at me?" Jacob chuckled. "Mal!" the lovebot's voice was odd, more than a bit strangled, as if she were talking past a stab wound. "Guy killed me, Mal. Killed me with his sword. How weird is that?" "We found Lenore in his old sanctum, still covered in his blood," Verne explained. "It only seemed right that we keep her around. Last vestige of the great man, if you would." "They can't stop the signal, Mal," the lovebot wound down. "They can never stop... the signal..." "Well, that was all manner of unsettling," Jacob said, backing away from the now slumped and motionless sex-toy. "Anne is on Legacy?" he asked. "Last time I checked." Jacob nodded for a moment. "And which way is that?" Verne laughed and pointed in a general direction that was pretty much the way Jacob had been heading anyway. He took his leave and made his way through the complex until he reached its far side, where Legacy sat quietly on the tarmac. With a smile, he walked up the ramp and into the ship which was now on its last fussing-over. He dropped his bag of things in the corner of the bay and ascended to the top deck, finally pushing open his door and descending into his bunk. Anne was already laid out on the bed, dozing lightly. He dropped off his coat and his weapons, sliding into bed next to her. The moment he'd paused, she rolled onto him, staring down her nose at him from her favorite vantage point. It had been a while since she felt confident to do that. She smiled. He smiled back. "Did you win?" "Once," he said. "Doubtful," she said, snuggling closer, despite the fact that the only way she could be closer would be to open him up and burrow inside. He regretted the imagery the moment it sprung to mind. "Are you alright?" he asked. Something about her wasn't quiet normal, he thought. Something a bit off. He ran a hand along her short, curling hair. "I'm just shiny," she replied, but she didn't sound confident in that. Come to think on it, she rarely did. Tough, but not confident. "We flying?" She asked, dark eyes still closed. "Come tomorrow, we will be," Jacob answered. She murmured slightly and hugged close. Jacob dispelled the thoughts he had and simply wrapped an arm around his wife. It felt good to say that, if even to himself. His wife. His beautiful little wife. Still clothed, sweaty, and no doubt a bit malodorous, Jacob knew he couldn't be that pleasant a mattress, but she was immediately asleep. And he was not long in joining her. <> The chirping brought her awake. She didn't like having to deal with a call at this hour in the night, especially when she was having so pleasant a dream. She rolled over and slipped her legs out from under the silken sheets which piled high on her bed. She casually pulled a robe around herself as she worked the blood back into her body. It still didn't feel like she was awake, but there was nothing to do for it now. She yawned as she climbed the ladder. She knew that most of the crew couldn't hear the signal. Even though they were pretty much universally closer to it than she was, she'd trained herself to notice it. It wouldn't do to have a message come for her if she wasn't around to recieve it. As she continued through the silence of the ship, the near-silent chirping drew her past the kitchen and down the stairs. She went down into the common area, turning and right into her infirmery. She was just a crew member, she knew, but it was still her room. Nobody questioned it. The panel in the back of the room blinked with the incoming call, and Friday muttered to herself as she activated the screen. She was more than a bit surprised at who she saw in it. "Well," her own voice came from her own face. "It certainly took you long enough." Friday uttered a colorful explaintive under her breath as she stared balefully into the screen. "What do you want?" she demanded.



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Legacy 3:08, Running Away
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Legacy 3:07, Confederation, Part 3
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