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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The very first chapter in a soon-to-be-long-running series following the crew of the Firefly-class transport Artemis some five years after the end of the Unification War. Bon appetit.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1954 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Captain Rachel Wu had to wrap both hands around the railing to keep from tumbling back down to the cargo bay catwalk when her ship quaked under her feet. Grimacing and holding fast to the tarnished metal, she worked her way up the stairs and turned into the engine room, black hair flying behind her and her stunning face twisted in aggrivation. "Dex, what the hell is goin' on with my boat?"
A long face topped in red hair and thick glasses shot up from behind the engine, pushing back from the machinery in annoyance. "She's half my boat, Rachel, and I got no ruttin' idea." A buzzing alarm on the guage panel drew the scrawny mechanic's attention away and he dashed across the narrow brown room. "Now we're gettin' heat build-up in the starboard pod! I don't know what's…" Dex blinked, cursed silently to himself, and leaped back to the other side of the engine.
Rachel tried to move in closer, but another tremor sent her grabbing the door frame to keep from being thrown back into the hall. "What? What is it?"
Dex pulled open the tubing bulkhead and was rewarded with a drench of frigid blue liquid. "Yi dwei da buen chuo roh!" He wiped the sticky coolant off his glasses and stood back up. "Starboard coolant outflow must have ruptured. That pod's gonna overheat! We have to land. Right now."
Rachel shrugged. "Can't, we're not even in the foothills yet. There's no place to put down."
"Oh, no, jei-jei, this boat's comin' to ground next two minutes. Only choice we get is how many pieces it's in."
Rachel sighed and pushed off back toward the bridge. It was just going to be one of those days. She ran the last few steps and, as the bridge came into view, she could see the wooded mountains on either side of them. "Mona!"
The young pilot turned her head. "Yes, Miss Wu?"
"We gotta land. Now."
Mona's eyebrows wrinkled in confusion. "Ain't no place, Cap'n, ain't enough flat ground 'til we get to port!"
"Then you gotta find a place. Dex says the engines are gonna explode or somesuch."
Mona shook her head, turned back to the approaching mountains, and smiled to herself. "Whiner."
Rachel turned to the co-pilot's chair and started at the sight of the cook's massive dark form. He nodded cordially. "Saul, didn't expect to see you up here."
He shrugged. "Never been to Verbena. Wanted to see it before we landed."
Rachel sighed and turned her attention back to the other side of the cockpit. "Yeah, well, we're all about to get a real close look 'less Mona finds us somewhere to set down…"
"I'm tellin' you, Miss Wu, ain't nothin' not covered with trees 'til we get to the docks!"
The intercom buzzed on. "Engine room to bridge, I did mention the part where the engine overheats and we all die, right? Don't think I woulda left somethin' like that out."
Mona smiled. Rachel groaned. She had that glint in her eye that meant she was about to try something that was going to get them all killed. "Dex, cut the thrusters. Then bring 'em back on my mark."
Rachel squinted. "What?"
Mona shrugged. "We cut thrust, maybe I can glide us the rest of the way to town."
"You are out of your already embattled mind, fa kuang mei-mei."
Dex's voice echoed in over the comm. "No, Rach, I think she might be on to something. We cut engines, that gives 'em time to air cool, then we bring 'em back on line so we can land."
It was an absolutely stupid, tze sah ju yi, but it wasn't like they had any choice. Rachel groaned—story of her life. "You really think you can do that?"
Mona grinned. "Sure, why not?" She swiveled back to the front and hunched her shoulders. "There's a first time for everything."
Rachel rolled her eyes and left the bridge, but not before she saw Saul strapping into his seatbelts. Normally she trusted the teenage pilot, but right now she was inclined to tie down to a chair herself. "All right. Do it. But don't blow us up, okay?"
"Not a problem, Cap'n." Mona smiled and turned toward Saul. "If anything, we'll just break apart on impact." The cook knitted his eyebrows and scowled the way he always did when she tried to bring a little sunshine to his life. She winced. "Right. Shut up and drive."
Rachel cupped a hand around her lips and ran to the edge of the dining room. "Dex, shut down the jets!"
"Wei wei!" Dex framed his body agains the back wall and pulled the main engine control lever. As the shudder of the power loss wracked the ship, he stumbled over to the comm. "Mariah, could you come up to the engine room, please?"
Mariah was out of her quarters and up the stairs to the engine room before Dex even took his finger off the comm. She stood in the doorway, hair falling around her face, a nervous smile across her lips. "What is it?"
Dex coughed uncomfortably, like he always did in her presence, and shrugged. "Well, we're about to crash, so I figure the closer you are to the top of the ship, less likely you are to get crushed."
Mariah's smile faded slightly. "Thanks." She didn't know what she'd expected him to say. Still, it was thoughtful of him. She sighed, brushed her curls back, and sat down next to the mechanic.
Mona gritted her teeth against the resistance in the controls. They were over the foothills now, still heavy with trees, She could see the orchard town in the distance, and the red-gray circles cut in the trees for ships to land were approaching more quickly than she expected. She glanced at the altimeter and swore to herself. They were already going too fast—this would have to do. "Dex, give me jet control!"
With Mariah pushing from the other side, Dex wedged the engine lever back into place. As the engines began to spin up, the jolt sent both mechanic and passenger careening into the far wall of the engine room. Dex groaned, and tried to get up, only to find himself pinned by Mariah's body. When the debutante's eyes met his, both managed to stand up much faster than humanly possible, each one with a face the apporximate color of a strawberry, and go about their business.
The blue-flecked Firefly plummeted toward the open landing circle, engines tipped earthward in a desperate attempt to slow its pace. The boat was too low, and the trees that had the bad fortune to be closest to the edge of the circle found themselves toppling back toward the rest of the forest, leaves singed by engine fire. As the emergency crews scrambled to put out the fires while staying out of the way of the landing ship, Sir Anderson Chen smiled and tapped his nephew on the shoulder. When Leopold turned around, his uncle gestured with a dagger-straight finger to the settling craft, "Artemis" painted along its neck in deep blue. "There, wu zhi. That's the one."
Sunday, February 5, 2006 8:08 AM
Monday, February 13, 2006 8:10 AM
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