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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
(*WARNING* This fic contains some spoiler references to the BDM - if you haven't seen it yet, do so immediately!) During a cargo ship heist for an old friend, Mal, Jayne and Zoe are shocked to learn that the whole thing is merely a set-up by Niska, and they are imprisoned aboard the freighter as it speeds toward Reaver space. Serenity is also trapped, but Kaylee and River are working overtime to put things right...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1624 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
In which Jayne gets maudlin, Simon gets a nasty surprise, and Kaylee just keeps on worryin'. Sorry this has taken a little longer to post than the other parts, but I'm back at work now and it always gets in the way of fun!
“Swear to ya, Mal,” Jayne said, shaking his head inside his helmet. “We get outta this, I’m takin’ me some shore time.”
“You were thinkin’ maybe Trinity Station?” Zoe said.
“Was I ever.”
“That’s all future,” Mal said. “Focus on what’s right in front. And don’t talk – save your air. Might yet need it.”
Silence descended once more. They had powered down their suit lights, to conserve battery life for the respirator packs, and the hold was in near darkness, illuminated only by the soft blue glow of the airlock panel.
“Wish the preacher was still here.”
“Jayne, I said no talkin’.”
Mal didn’t like mentions of Book, ‘specially not from Jayne, and ‘specially not now. Mostly since it raised the issue of death, which, though hangin’ in the air, was somethin’ to be avoided sooner’n harped upon.
Jayne, though, seemed determined to get harpin’. “Kinda miss that old man now. Had a quiet way ‘bout him. Lived right. Talked sense. Had ta respect that. Plus, he pumped more iron’n a man twice his beef… An’ for a man a’ God, he sure as hell knew his way ‘round a firearm.”
“Best kind,” Zoe said. Mal could just make out her blue-lit form, sitting calmly against the bulkhead, knees drawn up, arms folded on top. She looked settled in, and he wished that Jayne would follow her example.
Didn’t seem like he was about to, though. “Dyin’ don’t scare me. Expect it sooner or later, this kinda life. Faced it down more’n once already – had eight guns on me one time. Been holed an’ cut on more’n I care ta recall. Hell, we had no gorram right getting’ past them Reavers before, but we did, an’ they was close enough ta spit on.”
Mal wondered what he’d done to deserve a day like this. First a treacherous Ossie, then a vengeful Niska, and now a philosophical Jayne.
“Ain’t dyin’ bugs me, see. It’s not knowin’ what’s comin’ after… need someone ta read on me, point me the right way. Preacher an’ me, we had kinda an understandin’, if things went south. Ain’t happenin’ now.”
“Jayne, give it a rest,” Mal sighed.
The big thug harrumphed sullenly. “Just seems kinda dumb goin’ out here like this, after comin’ through all a’ that.”
“No-one’s dyin’ today,” Mal said firmly, “‘cept those that deserve it. Got us a solid plan. Just need to wait a little while.”
“Juhguh jee hua jun kuh-pah, Mal! It’s a long shot an’ you know it. A mechanic an’ a moon-brain. Even if they build that remote, they gotta get it all the way ta the tug, then spacewalk over there, get it fixed up an’ workin’. Won’t even matter if they bust us outta here, we’ll have Reavers peckin’ on the door ‘fore long.”
“Not gonna happen, Jayne. Those girls won’t let me down. Know how I know?”
“’Cause they’re on my crew. An’ my crew don’t let me down. Never has; never will.”
“Reckon I could bring a few moments to mind.”
“Fahng-tzong fung-kwong duh jeh!” Mal said heatedly. “Jayne, gorrammit, if it makes you feel any better, I promise you this: in the increasingly likely event of you not makin’ it outta here, I’ll go find someone to do your readin’.”
“Yeah?” Jayne said, brightening.
“My solid word.”
“Hey… thanks, Mal.”
“No problem. Now in the name of all that’s sane, bai-tuo an-jing-eedyen!”
Kaylee had never worked so fast in her life.
Her brainpan sang with unspoken information: the little voice that told her what might work, what wouldn’t work, what she needed, where it should go, was jabbering away at a prodigious rate. Her fingers took wires and parts, turned them about, fitted them together, almost automatically.
Natural talent, her daddy had called it. She’d had it as long as she could remember. Aged six, on her family’s farm, she’d almost single-handedly repaired a harvester’s turbine. Six. She hadn’t even known the names of the oily metal pieces, let alone what they were for, but the little voice’d guided her hands then, just as now.
She wondered if this was how River felt all the time.
The genius was right there beside her, sitting cross-legged on the cold deck, bent over a crude receiver in her lap. It looked like a piece of luh-suh, stuck together with surgical tape from Simon’s med-kit, but it worked, and now she was figuring out how to boost its reception range. Every so often it would fizzle dangerously, or spit a few vivid sparks, and she would nod, smile, and then try something new.
River’s notion – to turn the co-pilot’s console into the remote transmitter – was a stroke of brilliance, in Kaylee’s eyes. She was kinda ‘shamed that she hadn’t thought of it first. It did away with the need to build an interface from scratch, by effectively making Serenity’s cockpit into an extension of the Decamerone. The flight systems, engine management and drive controls would all be plugged into the transmitter, through which they would hopefully be able to influence the freighter’s actions.
‘Course, she reminded herself, this was only half the job. And the easy half, at that. They still had to free Zoe, Jayne and the captain. And then hardwire the remote manually into the tug. At full burn. In space.
A chill feeling passed up and down her back at the notion, and she shrugged her shoulders to rid herself of it.
At least she was glad to be working with River, who unsurprisingly was right on her wavelength: she found herself being handed tools and parts almost before she needed them. Using components cannibalised from every non-essential system they could find, it had taken them a little less than an hour to fashion a rudimentary yet serviceable device.
It was encouraging to Kaylee that they made such a capable team. She could almost get used to having a reader in tow as she went about her duties.
Could it ever last, though?
Kaylee genuinely hoped so. She knew that at heart River was just an ordinary, sweet girl – playful and bright, and sensitive in a way that Kaylee could only aspire to. Somewhere in there was the best friend she had ever had, that wasn’t a Firefly-class transport.
But there remained that hidden, darker aspect – the part that knew how to shoot blind, take down bars and slaughter hordes of Reavers – and as long as that remained, River would remain a dangerous conundrum, and Kaylee would continue to sleep with one eye open when Simon was in her bunk.
River isn’t healed yet, he had said. Not by a long way. And he knew her better than anyone alive.
The little voice interrupted her train of thought, sounding like her mother. No time for this worryin’, it said insistently. Getting distracted from the job. Gotta fix a way outta this mess. Concentrate on that.
She blinked back into the here-‘n’-now, looked again at the components in her hands, and immediately saw what was wrong – the reserve isolator should go this way up. That allowed this lead to plug into there, and so the solenoid could go just in here, and then…
On the other side of the flight deck, River operated in calm, focused silence, all deft hands and unblinking concentration. As usual there were many voices in her head, and not a one of them was passing on engineering tips.
Slowly she was learning to live with the constant stream. Some voices she didn’t mind so much, the ones belonging to people she had come to understand: Simon and Kaylee, the captain, and the rest of the crew that had become her second family. Unobtrusive, uncomplicated minds, easy to visit unnoticed. Slip in and out, a voyeuristic ghost. Like the babbling of a brook, they soothed and centred her.
Others did not. They came in as heavy, oily waves, one after the other, unbidden, and served only to swamp her mind and confuse her thoughts. It had taken her some time to understand that these were not real-time voices, but rather a miscellany of remembered commands and scientific terminology – fractured leftovers of her time at the hands of the Academy butchers.
Dr Friegaard. Dr Lysander. Dr Mathias. The blue-gloved men. Their images flickered behind their words. Blue hands, Blue Sun, black hearts. They gave her memories that were not her own, and their words provoked impulses that she did not want to follow, but found difficult to suppress.
Once, she had been forced to do just that, and it had brought all manner of pain crashing onto those around her. She had no desire to go down that path ever again. All she could do was try to let the waves break around her, and so far, she was standing firm.
As she worked, she listened to Kaylee.
And as she listened, a frown descended on her features.
“River isn’t healed yet.” Her lips formed the words silently. “Not by a long way.”
Simon had never ventured down into Jayne’s quarters before, and he rather hoped he would never have to again. The place was rather as he’d envisaged, less a bunk room, more a troll’s den – he still expected to see dripping moss and a pile of gnawed bones somewhere.
The place retained a strange odour, like that of a damp dog, and some of the more gynaecological pictures tacked to the walls brought a self-conscious colour to Simon’s cheeks. And he was a doctor, for tian’s sake.
How could anybody live in such a pile of go se?
Shaking his head, he returned his attention to Jayne’s extensive weapons rack. It occurred to him, as he cast a disapproving eye over it, that he hadn’t a clue what he was looking for.
He didn’t like guns. He’d spent too long dealing with their gruesome effects to hold them in any kind of esteem, and had proved less than proficient when called upon to use one. Also, he’d lived most of his life in the Core, where projectile weapons were largely outlawed, so guns to him were still just lumps of metal and plastic that the ‘verse would be better off without.
The green, slatted wall was a mess of them, all shapes and sizes: rifles, machine guns, handguns, plus any number of grenades. It was like a shrine to iniquity. He shook his head again. ‘Lola’… Jayne named all of his guns after women, and Simon had always put this down to some form of latent sexual frustration. ‘Lola’, ‘Vera’, ‘Alma’, ‘Sally’… he was in Jayne’s private brothel, and it was well staffed with glinting, brushed metal whores.
One right in the centre of the wall caught his attention. It was a huge machine gun – gleaming silver and black, with a fat pipe running beneath the barrel, and what looked like a laser sight mounted on top.
Simon recalled Jayne boasting that he had customised ‘Lola’ by adding a grenade launcher. This one seemed to fit that profile. There was nothing else on the wall that came close, not even ‘Vera’, who seemed almost a part of the crew now, so often had she been employed.
Leaning carefully over Jayne’s stale-smelling bed, he picked the weapon off the wall. It surprised him by being relatively light in weight – he had half-expected it to take his arms off. He hefted it a little in his hands, testing it, and then slung the canvas strap around his body and made for the ladder.
His foot was almost on the bottom rung when he was stopped in his tracks.
Something in the shadows by the end of the bunk had caught his eye, poking out from beneath a discarded Blue Sun tee-shirt. Something that didn’t fit the picture, and certainly didn’t belong in a man-ape’s cave.
He retrieved it from beneath the tee-shirt and stared at it.
It was a girl’s top. Pastel pink, made of thin wool, with long, fitted sleeves and a little climbing-rose motif embroidered across the breast.
One of Kaylee’s.
It had been some time since he last remembered her wearing it, but it definitely belonged to his girlfriend. He lifted it to his nose. Smelled of her, too: her gentle musk, soap and engine grease. It was an aroma he had quickly grown to love, along with everything else about her.
What was it doing in here?
Could be perfectly innocent, he reasoned quickly. Mixed-up laundry, something like that. Of course, the words ‘Jayne’ and ‘innocent’ were rarely found in close company, unless linked by the word ‘not’.
Frowning, he turned it over in his hands, uncertain about what to do.
Should he just put it back – pretend he hadn’t noticed it? He could guess how Jayne would react if he found out that Simon had been poking about in his bunk. Even with his sister to defend him, he didn’t fancy instigating that kind of confrontation.
But it didn’t seem right to leave it there. It unsettled him to think of Jayne with anything of Kaylee’s, and it would feel like debasing her honour, somehow, if he did not retrieve it for her.
So he stuffed the garment inside his waistcoat and then hurriedly climbed the ladder, already trying to put the issue out of his mind. It would do no-one any good to dwell on such a thing now.
Inara was waiting in the hallway when he surfaced. She looked perturbed: her arms were folded, and her elegant lips were set in a tense line.
“We have another problem,” she announced.
“Oh,” Simon said, weakly. “Well, that makes a change.”
“Good news first.”
“We got us a remote.” Kaylee’s hands were tired and sore, and even River sported numerous scrapes and minor burns, but they had accomplished their task. “It ain’t pretty, and we ain’t tested it none, but all the outputs are shiny. Should do the trick, Cap.”
“There’s that word again. Need ‘will’, mei mei, not ‘should’.”
“That’s better,” Mal said softly. He was keeping his voice down, figurin’ he might use less air that way. “Smart work, Kaylee.”
The four of them were crowded around the pilot’s ‘com. To their left, the co-pilot’s console looked like Jayne had gone to work on it with a can opener after one too many homebrews – the casing was gone in several places, the exposed panels adorned with all manner of strange-looking equipment. Colourful leads trailed over the whole mess like mating vipers. It was a mechanic’s bad dream, but more importantly, it worked . It was their way out.
“Was River’s notion,” Kaylee said, looking to the girl with a humble smile. “I just did the fixin’.”
“Shiny. You ready to go fix that tug next?”
“Shoo-uh, cap,” she said, as heroically as she could manage. The remote receiver was beside her. She’d never had any kind of choice, really: she was the only one who could hardwire her contraption into the tug’s systems. Oh, River could surely turn a hand to it, but not fast enough to count, and not as fast as Kaylee.
“Don’t pretend to like the idea, mind,” she added, wrinkling her nose. “’Fraid I ain’t much of an astronaut.”
“Can’t go alone,” River said softly. “Needs someone to hold her hand while she walks. Keep her from falling.” She picked up her oversized helmet and tucked it under her arm. “I’m going too.”
Inara noted that Simon looked less than thrilled about that fact. She understood why – the two most important people in his life were about to risk their lives in the merciless black – and she felt sympathy for him, for his powerlessness, and for what he was about to have to do himself.
“Okay,” Mal said. “That’s the good – now let’s have the bad.”
Inara took the ‘com. “We can’t use the shuttles to get to the tug,” she said. “The Decamerone’s going too fast now, and the shuttle’s drives just aren’t powerful enough. If we launch now, we’ll be left behind before we can even come about. It means River and Kaylee will have to make their way along the hull by hand. They’re both suited up already,” she added, looking at the two girls, who were swiftly checking over each other’s life support systems, “but River says it’ll take them at least an hour to reach the tug like that, and maybe another hour to return. Mal, she won’t have time to come and get you out first.”
“Oh,” Mal said, levelly. “Well, that’s kinda discouraging…”
“But Simon,” Inara continued, “has volunteered to do that. We have one more suit, and he’ll be out just as soon as it’s prepared.”
“The doc?” Jayne said, managing to sound both incredulous and dismayed. “Aw, hell: things must be worse’n ever.”
“Big of you, doc,” Mal said. He silently cursed the fact that their three most experienced astronauts were currently sealed inside a cargo vault. “I’ll see ‘bout talkin’ you through it, once you’re outside.”
So pale as to appear almost bleached, Simon stared down at his polished shoes. Truth be told, there hadn’t been much volunteering involved – as soon he had learned of the problem with the shuttles, he knew, sinkingly, what it meant. Someone else would have to take to the black, and he was the only one with any experience of it, however fleeting. Inara was a sophisticated Companion; she had never donned a space-suit in her life.
“Thank you, Captain,” he said, trying to sound valiant. “I suspect I’ll need some advice.”
Mal coughed once. He wasn’t used to breathin’ so shallow. The sound sent heart murmurs through the gathered crew.
“Might want to hurry a little, too,” he said, meaningfully.
tian = heaven
go se = crap
fahng-tzong fung-kwong duh jeh = a knot of self-indulgent lunacy
bai-tuo an-jing-eedyen = we will enjoy some silence now
shoo-uh = affirmative
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 5:44 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 5:58 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 6:17 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 8:53 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 9:09 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 10:48 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 12:05 PM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 3:15 PM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 3:19 PM
Thursday, January 11, 2007 6:52 AM
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