BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JAMESTHEDARK

Legacy 2:12, Do The Job, Get Paid
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Any day that begins with a crash landing can't be described as a good one. With no money and no food, Jacob must complete this job, else risk being on the drift. No fuel, no prospects.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1560    RATING: 8    SERIES: FIREFLY

It's been a little while, I know, but I ain't done with this, not nearly. With the aforementioned crashlanding, the ship is about as down as its going to get. Two familiar faces show up, three if you count Bester, and one of them sticks around. Also, more River-speak (Fun!), ramblings, a fella named Skunk, and a birthday. Because of the way things are going, it seems like there's only going to be two episodes a week for a while. Hectic, I'm sure you understand. Whatever, I digress. Serenity is the property of Joss and Mutant Enemy. Lucky bastards. Feedback: As much as is humanly possible.

Do The Job, Get Paid

"What the hell was that?" Anne glanced his way from where he was standing, braced with one arm against the gunner's seat and the other to the console. It wasn't a pretty sound. Hell, it was downright unsettling. "I think," she said, her face tight and her voice tense, "that was the last of our fuel flyin' out the back of our asses." Jacob threw a glance to her. "The la... what?" Anne didn't answer him, staring hard at the approaching surf. Rapidly approaching, truth be known painfully clearly. She was muttering in that way she often did, a long, continuous string of Mandarin profanities that could be taken down and used to incite battles in lieu of a declaration of war. Which meant that the situation was grim. "Is this ship supposed to be tossing like this?" Casher's voice sounded from the kitchen. "Might want to be strapping in, big boy," Anne shouted back, her arms quaking on the controls as she fought to keep Legacy level. "I swear, honey, we shoulda just dropped her out the airlock before we hit atmo." "Can't do that," he said, as the last of the ocean finally slipped underneath him and gave way to the even less forgiving dirt of the island they were taking to landing on. If luck was with them. "She didn't do us any real harm." "I'm surprised you didn't put a bullet to her, since she was after your precious Syl," Anne said testily. "We still on that?" Jacob said flatly. His wife gave him one of those patented looks, and the ship noticably tilted to one side. She gave a start and returned to her duty. "Don't see why we shouldn't," his wife muttered. Grimly. "Maybe we should continue this when we're..." the ship lurched again, in the other direction, giving him pause. "When we're maybe not crashing?" "No promises," she responded, sawing on the controls. The ship managed to right itself. How, he didn't really understand. Weren't they out of gas? Hell, she probably could have explained it, but the duration of said explaination would likely last from this instant till right about when the reclaimation crew came to remove their dessicated corpses from the burned out wreck. And it would give him a headache, besides. What was coming, though, would give a great deal more than a headache. "Shouldn't you... you know, lower the legs?" Jacob asked as the dirt came uncomfortably close. Anne scoffed, now standing in her fight against the entropy of the ship. "I lower them legs, they just snap right off." "But," he began. "Trust me." Jacob scowled, and pulled down the intercomm as he dropped into the gunner's seat. "Ladies and gentleman, might be wanting to strap yourselves in. We're experiencing a bit of turbulence, but don't you worry, we're expecting a rough landing, with probable horrible flaming death." "Doesn't inspire confidence, sir," Casher's voice sounded from the mess. Jacob rolled his eye as he pulled the harnass over himself. "Everybody strapped in?" "Zane's secure," came Friday over the comms. "Just hold off a few seconds while I get to..." "Touchdown in five seconds," Anne shouted, releasing one hand from the controls and blindly pulling the harness over her and locking it into place. Jacob heard an odd squeek from the back of the ship, and Jacob started to chuckle. Then he looked out the front screen and felt a pang of sympathy for the doctor. This was going to hurt. <> The dust was finally beginning to settle when Jacob leaned forward from his rather comfortable rock. His chest hurt like all merry hell. Not surprising, considering the scar Legacy had made on the landscape. To Anne's credit, she almost hit the tarmac. Well, in point of fact, she did hit it, but she didn't nearly stop there, sliding past the pavement, through several hundred feet of turf, then coming to a halt with its belly in the sand, staring at the ocean beyond. "Yeah," he muttered. "That went well." "...Well?" Monday asked. He knew it was Monday, because his doctor never sounded quite so disdainful. "You call that well?" "Are we dead?" "Excuse me?" Jacob smiled, making sure the pain he felt radiating from his shoulders to his belly didn't show on his face. "Are we dead?" he repeated. "No," she said, rubbing her shoulder. No doubt that was about where her straps dug in. "Then, it went well," Jacob chuckled, taking his feet despite his pain. "Anne?" "What?" came her voice from the far side of the rock he'd been resting against. "Still angry?" "Depends," she said. "Do I have to move?" "Yup." "Then yes. I'm angry," she said, getting herself up. For some reason, he doubted that he'd be in a position to see those bruises any time in the foreseeable future. "Fuel, right?" "Yup. Go with Casher," Jacob said. "We'll need somebody who can fix up Legacy whilst she's here and Zane's out of the action. She ain't had a goin' over in well over a month, and you know her better than anybody standin'." She smiled, a mite unsteadily, truth be told, but there was still an edge to her. "And where will you be?" "Sellin' drugs with Friday," Jacob replied. "Only two decent gunhands on this boat at the moment, and I ain't proofed on Casher with a six on his side. 'Sides, he's all manner of distractin' to the doc." She rolled her eyes. "Don't trust him with a gun, but trust him with your wife?" Jacob grinned. "Don't need to trust him. I trust you." She stared at him a long moment. "You know," she muttered. "It's damn hard stayin' angry at you." "It's a skill, bao bei. It's a skill," moving rather slowly, Anne went off with Casher, and Jacob made his way over to the moderately concussed doctor. "You gonna live?" "Unfortunately," Friday muttered, holding a pad of gauze to her head. Woman had a nasty habit of getting herself hurt. Or shot. Or stabbed. He offered her a hand up, noting that his wife chose the moment his eyes drifted to her to glance away. She did have a touch of jealousy to her, his beloved. "Did those drugs make it out?" "Every last jot," Friday replied. "Where we headed, anyhow?" Jacob stared up the embankment, into the radiated light of the city behind them. Whatever of the day had completely died off as they dragged their aching selves out of their starved boat, making Jacob's job all manner of perilous. Word was, it wasn't safe to wander about Los Sanguinos at night. Not surprising, for a city named after blood. The doc wasn't too steady on her feet, so he had to damn near carry her into town. Wouldn't Anne just fly into a spittin' rage at that? "So," Jacob began as the pair came onto the outskirts of the garish city. "Where we headed?" Los Sanguinos was everything the Core said it was, a pit of debauchery and vice, and oh, so very much more. In the City of Blood, prostitutes and preachers shared rickshaws and split dinners. Arms dealers and drug pushers stood shoulder to shoulder with U-war veterans from both sides, revivalists, and all manner of other unexpected folk. All told, of all the worlds spinnin' in the 'Verse, this was Jacob's very favorite. "We need to find a clinic. Preferably run by those preferring earth tones," she said, tugging at Jacob's coat. Well, truth be told, it was Sylvia's coat, but since the two were just about the same height, it fit him perfectly well. "Are my proclivities startin' to rub off on you?" he said with a smile and a laugh. Friday rolled her eyes. "Just sayin' that browncoats are more like to use these medicines proper, and see to they get where their needed," she said. "More'n like to be willin' to pay, too." Jacob nodded, face suddenly falling flat. They needed to get paid. Needed it bad. "How about that one?" he said, nodding toward a clinic, but Friday dismissed it instantly and moved toward an alleyway he was apt on avoiding. Nasty things were like to happen in alleys. He'd got stabbed in one. Not a pleasant memory. A lanky youth, probably not all the way out of his teens who was leaning against the wall took the pair of them in, Jacob, and his one eye, and the strikingly lovely Friday dragging him along behind her, then leaned over and spat into a garbage can. "Somethin' I can help you with?" he asked. "I'm lookin' for a man named Botts," Friday said, releasing Jacob's arm. Just as well. Place like this, he'd be doing well to have a hand on his holster. Hell, he put the other one on the hilt on his back for good measure, taking a lean opposite the man. "Botts is dead," the lanky one said. "Bit it on Ezra near two years back. You Feds?" "Are you ruttin' kidding me?" Friday blurted. "Feds? Us?" The lanky one made as if to speak, but was interrupted and his hand flew to his ear. He had a moment of uneasy contemplation, his ruddy face growing hard. His eyes, filling with rage. "Something the matter?" Jacob asked, and was answered by the lanky one leveling a gun at his head. Jacob, not to be outdone, returned the favor. Friday squeeked, finding herself in the crossfire between a very angry and a very confused person. Jacob couldn't blame her. He didn't like the way this situation was shaping up his own self. "Rung tse fwo tsu bao yo mun," Friday muttered, glancing between the men standing with pistol barrels almost touching. "Forgive me if I'm a bit confused, but why in the sphincter a' hell are we holdin' guns at each other?" Jacob asked. "Traditionally, one shoots his enemies in war time," came the reply. "The war is over, friend. Long done," Jacob said flatly. "War ain't never over for us. Only for you. Shoulda stayed in the Core, Northcutt." Friday looked between the two men, and began to chuckle. Jacob felt the grin creep onto his own face, and before he knew it, he was laughing right along with her. The lanky one stared between the two uproariously laughin' folks he had a gunpoint, and looked all manner of confused. "Did I miss somethin' here?" he asked peevishly. "Oh, Verne, you gui-gui sui-sui hun dahn," Jacob laughed. Which didn't help the man's demeanor none. "Try runnin' my capture alone this time. Trust me on this'n." The man frowned, but rose a hand to his ear. "You hear that? Run it." There was what might have been called a tense moment, had the pair not been laughing moments before. Verne had done a masterful job if the Browncoats, with their innate suspicion of damn near everything come out of the Core, believed it. Finally the man looked up again, holstering his weapon and offering his hand. "I can't say as I expected to meet somebody commended by Logan Kell," he muttered. "Especially one that would have a alias as an Alliance Colonel. How'd you manage that one?" "Friends and enemies. Having a few of the former, and more than I like of the latter. If Botts is dead, who would a body see to offload some high end medicines?" "You'd see Skunk. He's the local... provider... for like minded enterprises. Open the door Kaan," the wall behind Jacob slid away, and an Asian man, more of Jacob's age, hustled the pair of them in. <> It had been a long time since he was on a Firefly. Hell, it had been a long time since anybody at all would give him work. Ever since his last boss went and slandered him from Jiangyin to Regina, wasn't a ship in the 'Verse would take him on. That was just spiteful, that. "Oh," he said. "That's not good." "What is it?" "Problem with your Grav-boot. Don't swap this part out and she'll burn out on y'all," he replied. "That's not what Zane said," the small woman replied. She was awful cute, in her way, but even he could tell she was in a hell of a taking, and that necklace she had round her pretty little throat probably meant marriage. The fact that it had a bullet wove into it was a discouraging sign. "Well, Zane ain't around, is he?" he said snidely, draggin' himself deeper under the engine. This place was a mess, it even had cobwebs! Last time he saw cobwebs on a ship... well... he was working on it. But that weren't the point. Looked like there hadn't been a soul in here for a while. "You do realize that money is quite definitely an object," Anne said harshly. "No new grav-boot, dong ma?" He flicked his long hair out of the way. "Suit yourself. I won't be here when this thing bursts into a ball of flame." He heard her strangled grunt and smiled a bit. Always fun to mess with them's easily wound up. "Look, Bester, only reason we got you on this boat is since our mechanic's down hard. Do your job, and you get paid. Don't do the job, and we'll pitch you out the airlock and into the drink, dohn luh ma?" Bester smiled up at her. "Don't worry about it. I'm a genius remember?" <> Monday waited. It seemed like that was all she did of late. She waited for that insufferable captain to land somewhere even halfway civilized, she waited for offers from suitors, she waited while the kettle boiled. She was doing all three at this very moment. That, and babysitting. She hated that she had to have duties delegated onto her. She paid her rent. She should be free to do as she willed, but somehow that hun dahn got her sitting here on the boat, waiting for her water to boil, watching over the psychotic and potentially dangerous Sylvia. She was hard pressed to understand why anybody on this ship put up with her. Syl wasn't anything but dangerous, and the telepathic part didn't set her on her ease, either. "Daddy's coming..." that feng huang voice sounded from under the table. What a grown woman was doing under the table was anybody's guess, and she didn't bother hazarding one. She also didn't think it entirely likely that Sylvia's father was coming... if that's even what she meant. She had a tendency to spout insanities. At least, she had since Monday had known her. "Coming to take him away. Farmer kills him," Sylvia continued. Monday shook her head. Not worth thinking about. She lifted her finally boiling kettle and poured herself a glass. The steam rushed upward and away from the leaves which were quickly darkening the water. "Would you see a world without sin? Where would you go?" "Interesting as this is," Monday interrupted, picking up her cup, "I would prefer that bai-tuo, an jing yi dian." "Can't enjoy the silence. The silence enjoys us. Eats us. It consumes us. Con...nects. Connections. Links and bridges," the fong luh blonde continued. Monday shook her head, taking a testing sip of her tea. Still entirely too hot. "What say you be silent? Is that a fun game?" Monday was quickly running out of patience. She heard Sylvia shift under the table, and a head of unruly blonde locks poked up from the table's far side. Monday regarded the blue-green eyes which were locked on her. "Do you love your sister?" Sylvia's tones were shockingly normal when that came out. "Excuse me?" "She needs you. Will need... Shattered and broken. Battered and bloody and defiled," the woman seemed to grow more upset with each word. "I don't know when things are... I don't know what I'm saying. Just put a bullet to me," she started to weep, huddling herself into a corner and rocking on her heels. "Bullet to the brainpan, squish. And everything goes away. Goes away and leaves me a stone. Monday set the cup down, feeling more than a passing urge to move to the woman's side. "What's wrong with Friday?" she demanded. "Can't see. Don't want to see. But I'll show them. Can't not show them. World without sin..." the lunatic continued, what she would have classified as a wail, had Sylvia graced it with more volume. "What did you say about my sister?" Sylvia broke off from her rocking for a moment, and those eyes locked onto Monday's own. Tears stood out plainly on the woman's cheeks. "Things are going to get much worse." <> Jacob hadn't actually met Skunk in his travels, but the way he was described sounded disctinctly like Badger, the king of the local dungheap on Persephone. Now that he was standing before him, Jacob wondered if Dyton didn't just grow that archetype in a jar and ship them throughout the 'Verse to run the collective underworld. Hell, Skunk could have been Badger's brother, the two looked similar enough. And sounded... but not so much smelled. That department saw the psychotic lowlife on the tumultuous border world winning in spades. "I hear you got y'hands on a few high class medicines," Skunk said, tearing peanuts out of their shells and tossing the remains into an upended tophat. "Might be willin' to deal, but that price seems awful reas'nable for the quantity and quality." "Drugs are stamped. Hence the discount," Friday said simply. Using her surgery voice, as he'd heard it told. She had two modes in dealing with men; she either wrapped them around her finger or beat them into the ground. She hadn't even attempted the former, in this case, although for no reason he could immediately discern. "Well, maybe that discount ain't enough," Skunk said, tossing the last legume into his jaw and standing out of the chair. He circled the desk, passing Friday without a second glance. "You got a bit of an a'itude problem.Think you're better than other people." "Just the people I'm better than," Jacob replied smoothly. He gave Friday a glance. Please, don't hump this deal. Please, he ammended, don't let this deal get humped. "Two lives," Skunk continued, and Jacob had to will himself not to breathe. If he started smelling this unpleasant man, he was on the drift. "One, Jacob Northcutt, Union of Allied Planets Armed Forces, Colonel by designation. Fought in the Unification war on the right side." "Winning side, never claimed it was the right one," Jacob pointed out. "A' course, you'd say that. Cause right about there is where the other life rears up. Jacob Greyson. Son of a pair of spacers. Grew up on a ship. Never spent a complete year on any one planet, and left home at sixteen. Joined with a transport business which was a front for reputed mobster Adelai Niska. Two years ago, you split off from Niska. I'm thinkin' you look to freedom 'fore any else, which puts you well out of 'Northcutt's' camp." "An interesting slice of deduction," Friday said. "I don't see what this has to do with the deal." Skunk frowned back at her, and took a step away from Jacob. Just what he wanted. Fresh air. "Everythin' you stupid tart!" he said loudly, and no small bit crudely. "You two just drop in here, no warning, no regard for niceties, just swoop on down with a brown coat on your back on Unification Day. That's like to set a businessman on edge. And a businessman on edge has to look hard at a situation, 'cause all situations tend to be... fluid." "Only fluid I see here," Jacob finally muttered, unable to restrain himself any longer, "is the puddle of piss refusin' to pay us our wage." Jacob instantly regretted letting that slip, because about a dozen weapons were suddenly pointed at him. He hadn't made the slightest move for his weapons, which was just as well. He settled on staring down the little man. Skunk stared back up, toe to toe, chin to chest, stench to nose. "And all I sees is a pretentious shit with delusions a' standin'. I'm above you. Betta' than," Skunk puffed out his chest, taking a step back. "Businessman, see?" "You're just a sad little king of a sad little hill, one without the stones to work above weak tea," Jacob countered. "Now, since you're obviously not going to buy the medicine, so just call off your goons and show me the gorram door. And you can go back to touchin' yerself and thinkin' you don't wun guo pi." Skunk frowned a second. "Got some mouth on ye, don't ye?" he muttered. "I must say, I want to get m'hands on it." Jacob and Friday shared a look, and both began to snicker. "The medicine!" Skunk declared as the two shared a chuckle. Jacob and Friday didn't stop laughing though. <> It was almost morning when the refuling tracks maneuvered their precarious way onto the beach; it wasn't exactly the most usual landin' spot. It'd be plenty interesting takin' off from this spot, once everything was all set and done. And there was Zane's un-birthday. With him not around, there'd not be much merriment to be had on this boat. And with that glut of enemies close on his heels, from Wing to Niska to the Parliament to the Blue Gloves... The look on Friday's face dragged him out of his melancholy. She had gone completely moon-eyed the instant Casher's massive form came into sight. He'd never seen a woman so besotted in his life, nor a man so hi-lariously oblivious. Add in the fact that he'd gotten paid today... It was good to be paid. It was good to have fuel in his tanks. And above all other things, beyond fuel and cashy money... it was good to have meat. Sure, most of the money went toward fuel and restocking the infirmery and buying a few parts Zane had pointed out as in desparate need of replacement, back when he was still upright on Paquin, which said something. What was left, though went straight into the pantry. True, it meant they were right out of money again, but it was a far more comfortable debt. And there was meat. Wonderful, glorious steaks and chops and ribs and several whole chickens! A glut at harvest made for spectacularly inexpensive meat, and he, or rather Friday by his side, had exploited it. She, as a matter of course, dropped all of the crates into the sand. Again, he missed that old Mule. He made his way slowly into his ship, stepping around and over the leg-thick fuel lines that were either being hooked up or else happily pumping away. He shook his head as he set aside his not insubstantial load and went back for what Friday abandoned. Another trip through the sand, and he lowered himself to the deck plating. From the back of the ship, he could hear his wife arguing with that tian di wu yahn mechanic. With a groan, he forced himself back up. This was going to be a damn long Unification Day. "Quiet!" Jacob shouted as he stormed into engine room, dropping the two bickering bodies into silence. "One of you is going to brain the other, die, and I ain't cleanin' it up. What's wrong with my boat, Bester?" "Plenty," the greasy fella with questionable taste in body tattoos. "Feed lines are all gunked up. Take a while to clear 'em out. And the compression coil's got a crack runnin' all the way from the apex to the midline," He pulled the casing open, exposing the aforementioned crack. "That's going to be a problem to fix." "Not so much. Zane'd been on my back for a new coil the first five months on this boat," Jacob said, reaching into the scrap-box, pulling out the part. If he remembered correctly, his mechanic had once staved in a Reaver's skull with it. Didn't look it though. Aside from a very thin layer of dust, it was pristine. Zane always did like his machines to shine, when he could swing it. "Shiny," Bester muttered. "Ain't many keep a spare compression coil. Crack like that, you're lucky this thing didn't explode for no good reason. Hand me the power ratchet, would ya?" Bester didn't shut up until he started working, and even then, his quiescence was only partial. It took almost an hour for the pair of them to swap out the part; Jacob warrented that Zane could have done it in ten minutes flat. When he was done, he figured that how to replace a compression coil would be with him until the day he died. "Well," Bester muttered, flicking the hair away from his eyes. "Now that's dealt with. The grav-boot's shot, and needs to be replaced." "No, it ain't," came an unexpected voice. "Yes, it is," Bester said, not looking up. "No," the voice repeated, "it most certainly ain't." "Wo de tyen ah?" Anne muttered. "Zane?" The mechanic was standing... well, teetering, truth be told, in the doorway. He was long unshaven, and had a patchy beard for his month on the slab. He looked a bit emaciated, odd considerin' he'd been eating better than most on Legacy of late, but was surprisingly steady on his feet considering that he'd been napping so long. It was right about then that Jacob noticed Sylvia, peeking around the corner. Of course. Wait. Why hadn't she done that sooner? Or had she done anything at all, and was her covert appearance just a coincidence totally unrelated? Was he overthinking the situation? "That grav-boot's the newest part of that housing," Zane said, his voice strong and belying his unsteady gait. When Bester didn't move, Zane shooed him. "Get the hell away from my engine." Bester took a step back, and Zane crouched down. He began pointing at a few things, speaking in that queer technobabble that so-often gave Jacob a headache. In fact, he was pretty sure one was comin' on right about now. "So, this ship able to fly?" Jacob asked, interrupting the young mechanic. Zane cast that foolish grin over his shoulder -- Jacob had actually missed that look of late -- and nodded. "Like a leaf in the wind, boss," Zane rose back up, hauling the housing on the core back into place. "Now, would you mind gettin' this dumbass the hell away from my engine?" "You got somethin' against Bester?" Anne asked. "Considerin' he got one-upped by Kaylee and fired inside ten minutes for somebody literally picked up off the street?" Zane chuckled. This was a bit unlike him. Zane never was one for jokes at other's expense. Mild ribbing, sure, but not insults... Anne laughed, and Jacob felt a grin formin' on his own self. "Bester," Jacob said with all the captainy authority he could muster at the moment, "I fear this ship no longer has any need for your services." "Oh," Bester said, staring blankly for a second. "Do I still get paid?" "I already paid you," Anne said with disgust. Bester glanced around a bit. "Get out!" Bester reached down and grabbed a box of tools, but Jacob pressed his foot down atop them. "You didn't bring anything with you," Jacob said. "Those are Zane's." "Right..." Bester said. "I'll... I'll just..." he trailed off as the three occupants in the cramped room stared him right out. When the poorer mechanic had wandered out of eyeshot, Zane was right back to work, clearing out those lines Bester referred to without needing to be told about them. "Boss?" Zane said. "What, Zane?" "What did you do to my engines?" Jacob paused a moment. "It's... a long story." "So," he asked, seeming a little annoyed that his question got avoided. "I notice you got Syl back. That's a good thing. How long was it?" "Near a month," Anne said. Zane nodded sagely. "Make sense. What day is it?" Anne smiled. "Best one, Unification Day." "Really?" Zane said, his trademark smile brightening the room a few shades. "Shiny! Hey, boss, what'd you get me for my birthday?" "Consciousness," Jacob answered without hesitation. "Just what I always wanted," Zane replied, not missing a beat. His face went slack for a second. "I've seen everybody else. Where's Early?" Anne and Jacob shared a look. "How about we take a trip into town?" "Why not?" Zane grinned. <> "So, by then he was staggering back to the Jack with a jug in each hand," Jacob continued, giving his mechanic a soft shove. Zane was grinning, but not as brightly as he once had, and he hadn't gotten into his drinks. Which was an ominous sign. The boy usually drank more than a fish. "Now, you gotta remember that it was pissin' down rain, and here I am locked out of my own damn ship, all 'cause of him." "It was kinda funny," Anne pointed out. "You didn't think so at the time," Jacob chuckled. "So, when I see that the kid's wearin' a hat made out of a tree, I drag his sorry ass right back into town and unhitch him before he does somethin' powerful stupid." "Hu tse!" Friday exclaimed. "Our boy here's been married plenty of times. Most of which lasted all of half an hour," Jacob continued. "Regardless, I then have to drag him back to my boat and get him to open the doors. Takes him about four hours in the deluge, and he loses his breakfast twice in the process. And that's not even the bad part. When I get inside, my lady slaps me for bein' out so late." "You were inside the ship and you didn't let him on?" Casher sounded confused. "Zane wasn't the only one what'd been drinkin'," Anne muttered. Jacob grinned. "If I recall, you were hung over at this point. And 'cause of that binge you pulled, it was me what had to drop the ship onto that rock." Jacob found himself distracted as Monday appeared from the back room of the tavern. She was carrying what appeared to be a cake, which made him blink. He hadn't exactly expected her to be doin' this, more that one of them's were already here would need to take a walk. No, here she was... Where was Syl? He quashed the line of thought before Anne found a way of pickin' up on it. "What?" the Companion asked when she set the thing down. "It's his birthday." "You know," Friday said. "If I didn't know any better, I would think you were growin' a heart." The twins gave each other almost identical sarcastic expressions, and Zane rubbed his hands together. He was about to blow out the candle when somebody drunk rose from the bar, shouting for silence. Damn it, Jacob thought. Did every bar on every planet have its own Lund? "Shut up! I got some words. It was nine years ago today that we sent the Independants runnin'," the drunk said overloudly. "Pissin' their pants... And set the ground for a better universe." "Bi zuai," came a dark figure at the bar. Jacob goggled a bit to see him there, dark hair visible above a dark brown coat. The drunk rounded on him, the glass half drained of liquor pointed at him. "You don't like what I'm sayin'?" "I cannot say that I do," his soft voice sounded in the rowdy bar. "I just came here for... a quiet drink." "You know what I think?" the drunk demanded. Job, the unShepherd, turned, facing him. "Not particularly much, I believe," Job quipped, waving his own nearly full glass at the drunk. "I think," the drunk continued as if he hadn't been interrupted, "that you're one a' them ruttin' In'pendants" "And I think you are unburdened of excess education," Job smiled wanly. "Perhaps we should just ignore each other till we go away?" "I figure som'n ought put you down," the drunk said, and a coterie of other drunks and toughs rose up behind him. Job was not offput, rising on his own, and adjusting his long brown coat. Jacob scowled. "Goh huong tong," Jacob muttered, forcing himself up and taking a position next to Job. The drunk took in the pair of dark brown coats and seemed ready to froth at the mouth. Then Jacob noticed Zane slipping up beside him. When the hell had the kid gotten violent tendencies to him? No time to think on it now, though. The numbers were just about even, now. "You'd best sit back down," Jacob said. The drunk glared at the gathered personage, but loud thumping began to sound behind Jacob, and he knew exactly the sight that the drunk beheld. A giant of a man, stepping loud, taking his place with his massive arms crossed just behind Jacob. The drunk no doubt rethought his chances and meekly retook his seat. Job turned and gave Jacob a look that he couldn't quite decipher. "Do you often find yourself in an Alliance friendly bar come U-day lookin' for a quiet drink?" Zane asked with a grin. "Don't mind him, he's just sufferin' from the classic space dementia. All paranoid and crotchety," Jacob muttered. "Does make a point though. Hadn't figured on seein' you again." "The universe is not so large a place," Job said, picking up his drink and repositioning himself farther down the bar. "I would suggest you leave Newhall soon." "Why?" "A member of Parliament was found dead in her room last night. Impaled," Job said with a raised eyebrow. Jacob scowled. "You went back to..." "I'm rectifying a great many past crimes. Some, I'm sure, you know of," Job said strongly. "It would be best if you leave in the next five hours." Zane was nodding. "Is this enough?" Job shot the mechanic a surprised look. "It will be," he answered. "Remember. Five hours." The dark man with the dark coat gave them each a glance, and departed. Jacob looked back to Anne. "I figure we ought get out of here. Ladies?" The women shared a look and all rose almost as one. "Per-maybe-haps we should." Zane grumbled at the thought of not being able to eat his cake, but Jacob had all of them out the door and on the way out of Los Sanguinos in a matter of minutes. The trip back to the ship was singularly uneventful. Until, of course, the reached the beach where Legacy had not gotten around to moving from. "Holy hell," Jacob muttered. The sand before the ramp was crimson. He leapt his way down the beach, gun in hand as he made his way into the ship. There were corpses on his boat. Two of them. With blue hands. "Monday!" he shouted. "Where did you leave Sylvia?" "In her room. Locked up," she said coming around the ramp. She faltered and paled when she beheld the two nearly decapitated Blue-hands. "Dear god..." "God ain't got nothin' to do with this," Jacob snarled. "Anne, get us into the air." As the crew dispersed, he noticed the red footfalls which lead into the common area. It was less than a minute before the ship bucked off of its sandy pedastal and began to rise into the sky. He found her exactly where he expected her to be, curled up into a bescarletted ball in that corner. He crouched down beside her, carefully placing a hand on her shoulder. Her head snapped around to his, her fingers clawed through her long, ill-kempt blond locks. Her eyes were more beast than woman. "Did they hurt you?" he asked. His first instinct had been to ask if she was alright, but both knew perfectly ruttin' well how well the answer to that one. She shuddered. "Weapon. Point, click, boom," she whispered. "No mind. No soul. Just the mission." "You don't need a mission, Syl. You're home. You've got your family." "He eats the dead, burns the world," she sobbed quietly. Tears filled the tract already cut through the grime and blood which stained her face. "What I'll show them. Show you..." "You should get cleaned up." "They talk to me," she said. "They make me... I don't want to go to that place." "I won't make," Jacob caught himself. "They won't take you again. I promise." She stared up at him. "You don't know." He frowned at her. "I keep my promises, shao jeh. Always do," he forced a smile onto his face. "Don't you go impugnin' my reputation." "Reputation. Solid, not gossip. Not people talking..." she looked up at him, her face slack. "The path leads to a place of darkness. Perfect, utter darkness." Jacob laughed. "Don't they all?" He helped her to her unsteady feet. Her face was slack and sad when she pushed his arms away. "I never wanted to hurt you," she whispered, then skirted past him into the bathroom. Jacob's brow bunched as he stared at the closed door. "What the hell does that mean?"

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