BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JAMESTHEDARK

Legacy 2:14, Shattered
Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A trip to Bena causes all manner of trouble for the crew of Legacy. Warning: This chapter deals with very un-funny stuff, namely sexual abuse. Parental discretion, yadda yadda.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1248    RATING: 0    SERIES: FIREFLY

Here is the aforementioned extremely un-funny chapter that I'd alluded to in EoS. This was actually a collaberation between myself and the player of Friday, who said, and I quote "This week, I want something really bad to happen to her." This was about as bad as I could think short of killing her off, which wouldn't have done at all. Also, note the Tarantino I pulled again, jumping from the present right back into the past. This episode was designed to bring Friday and Monday closer together (I will hex anybody who says Saturday right now ;-p), but the way it unfolded, it looks like it will change the course of the second season more than a little. Remember. Unfunny stuff, sexual abuse and the like. And an old enemy reasserts himself. Joss created Firefly, not me. Tim Minear created raping the characters, not me. I steal from both. Feedback: Please. This will be a controversial chapter, I'm feeling. I'd like to know how it's recieved.

Shattered.

It hurt to breathe. A part of her knew that her ribs were at least a bit broken. Her arms were, too, to one degree or another. Her right arm was humped, she could tell just from the way it flopped the wrong damn direction. In the wrong damn place, too. Her left arm was tore up, by fingernails and the knife, and her hand was impaled to the window, holding her in place. He hadn't even bothered to remove the weapon. She sobbed again, a weak sound against the dying day. It hurt to weep, but she couldn't stop. It happened so fast. One man. Just one man. She'd trained in self defense, and it just took one man. She wanted to pull something over her beaten, battered frame, but with one hand impaled and the other totally unusuable, she simply sobbed as the rain pelted down. A part of her wondered where he was? She was supposed to meet him a while ago. She'd been looking forward to that meeting for a while, now. Ever since he promised. Her entire body burned, with pain and shame, as she sobbed. She was supposed to be having dinner. It was supposed to be a good night. A part of her just wanted to die. She'd always had the illusion of self-sufficience. That she could stand alone and stand tall. That she was safe. The illusions which had made up her life had been torn away in three terrifying minutes, leaving her, broken. Shattered, on the pavement, amongst the garbage. Her tears mixed with the rainwater and pooled in the scum. That's what it came to, in the end. Her, naked and broken, laying in the gutter. Mother had been right. Damn her black and festering soul, she was right. "Casher," she whispered as she stared up at the forbidding clouds. "Where are you?" <> "Morning Captain," Friday said brightly as she practically danced into the cockpit. Jacob shot her a withering glare with his one bloodshot eye. Weren't that just the funniest damn thing ever that he'd wake up with the hangover from hell, and she'd be prancin' about like she'd just gotten... oh, hell no. She didn't. "I hope you didn't take advantage of my crew," Jacob said slowly. And quietly. Damn, it just weren't fair, her bein' so cheerful and such. She gave him a slanted grin, and made her way back whence she came. Anne frowned after her. "What?" Jacob asked. "I didn't say anything," she said. "And I did it quieter." Jacob shook his head as he stared off at the speck in the distance. Bena. Not much to say about it, just a dinky little moon, made as close to Earth-that-was as could be, and settled. Nothin' really strikin' about it, untill recently, of course. 'Bout two years back, a couple of Companions started up a chapter house, formin' the first house outside of the Core. And didn't that just strike a tourist rush? "You didn't mention that you had a brother, neither," Anne said softly. "Didn't think it'd ever come up," Jacob said. Truthfully. "Hell, I never thought I'd be lookin' at him again, the way we parted." "You got any other family needs mentioning? Any sisters? Children?" "Ch...what?" he looked over to her, and she shook her head. "Bah. There was me, him and Julia, my older sis. Hell, she was a hell of a lot older. Had a kid, named Daniel," he caught one of her looks. "Yes, I'm an uncle, try not to faint." "What happened to her." "There was a fire on the Mary. Messed up Manny right terrible, but Julie... she didn't even last out the day," he said, staring back to the time. "You ever see a fire in zero-G? It don't lick and pop. It rolls out in waves, burnin' out the oxygen as it spreads. Once one wave fizzles out, another one takes its place. We couldn't reach her. She was on one side of the bulkhead, and us on the other. We open it, we die too. So... we vented atmo. Snuff the flames. She died. Screaming." "I'm so sorry," his wife whispered quietly. "I didn't mean to..." "Well you did," Jacob snapped, regretting it instantly as he saw the whipped-puppy look on Anne's face. "Look, it was a bad time. Don't much like thinkin' on it." "I can see that," she whispered. "You really should let me in." "I do," his voice was a bit hoarse. "Just... some things I don't like havin' my own self. Don't figure on worryin' you with 'em." She had enough terrifyin' crap to deal with. Might as well not add to it, if he could. Finally, he forced himself up and stood behind her, his hands on her narrow shoulders. She turned and gave him a reflexive smile, and his head didn't pound quite so hard in that moment. Her hand came up off the controls, grasping his and pulling him into her chair in a motion she'd rather thoroughly practiced in the last two years. She dropped herself onto his lap. He'd just started thinking happy thoughts when a scream sounded from the kitchen. He leaned around her and the sight he beheld chilled his ardor and his blood. "Casher!" he bellowed. "Stop her!" <> Rain pounded down. It soaked her from head to toe, plastering the red robe to her, chilled her bones and made her shiver. The tide had swelled and ebbed in the last few hours, but still, her feet were soaking wet. She had to find higher ground. The water swirled up to her thighs as she forced herself away from This Place, headed up the steep incline, away from the flooded lowlands behind her. The marshes gave way to a wide open veldt, the sky hanging perilously close as it disgorged its unpleasant deluge. Her gaze took in the mountains which connected the earth to the abbreviated sky, hemmed in the valley. Gave the place a geometry. Opening upward. Impressions of space. "Oh, come on, it can't be that bad," came the voice of the doctor-whore. Should say... what was her name again? She couldn't quite recall. "I am never drinking again," replied the large one. False name. Numbers and letters and lies. Lies to protect, to give hope. She saw him, then, standing in the mountains. So far, yet she could see the hooded gleam of his bloodshot eyes. See the cheerful grin on the Asian woman's face. Blink. Friday. Her name was Friday. She turned toward Sylvia, her face solemn, perhaps even sad. "I don't want to be alone," she said, looking pointedly toward Casher. Casher. A lie, but as much a name as he had. His features were contorted with rage, and his fists were clenched white-knuckle tight. "I won't do it, sir!" he roared, staring at nobody in particular. "We're not murderers!" Blink. "Oh, yes, you'll drink again," Friday said with a grin. "Next time, you'll stop when I tell you to, and you won't get a hangover." Casher smirked, his eyes red but soft. "Not sure on that point my self." "Who's the doctor?" she asked as she made her way out of the... out of the what? The veldt? Why had she suddenly had the urge to substitute in 'bay'? There was no way out, now. This place was a step in the wrong direction. She had to go. Now. With long strides, she found herself cresting the foothills, ascending into the heights. The path was clear, now. Despite the height, wind was warm. Perhaps even hot, now. The rain was now filling the plains below; were she still standing down there, she would surely have drowned. Now, though, it was beginning to reach up. The tides, lapping at the path. She rose higher, out of the mountains and into the forest. The world was silent, save for the sound of fat drops of water impacting the broad leaves. She looked one direction, then another. The warmth became stronger as she stared off toward the cliff to her right. Jacob. And Anne. He moved behind her chair, resting his hands on her shoulder. Warmth became heat, knocking her back a step. She shook her head. Not her place to look. Not hers to know. She turned back toward the deeps of the forest, to the left, and beyond. Monday was standing at the counter, waiting for her kettle to boil. How could a kettle on a treestump boil? Was she seeing things? No, this was what was real. What was solid. "It's just an object," Sylvia whispered. "It doesn't mean what you think." "And what is that supposed to mean?" Monday asked flatly. Blink. Monday's features warred between icy dignity and burning rage. She stared a hole through the telepath standing before her, and she took a long step toward Sylvia, staring down her nose even though the two were about the same height. "You," she said, her voice an acidic hiss, "are nothing to me. You all are." Blink. Monday, standing next to the kettle on the stump, glanced around her a moment. "What?" she asked. Sylvia drifted away, slogging through the muck as it clung about her ankles. She moved away from one warmth and toward another. Forward and back. Into the volcano. It struck her a bit odd that the rain could follow her as she descended into the smoking crater, with its geothermal might forcing itself out of the core. She saw two men sitting near the open magma. One was lanky and fair, the other simply large, and a great deal darker. Zane glanced up from his seat, smiling at her as her bare feet settled against the hot stone. The darker man was pointedly staring at the magma. "Hey, there Syl. What's spinnin' your world?" he said cheerfully. Blink. Elias turned, then, and saw her. He shook his head, taking a step away from her and throwing his hands up over his face. "Don't look at me!" he shouted. Zane gave him an eye-rolling look and sighed. "Oh, do shut up. She can't hear you," he chuckled. "My luck. I get a shy-ass pubescent to share my brain. Ain't that just shiny?" Blink. Zane's grin hadn't altered a whit, at least until he saw her expression and it went a bit sickly. "What's wrong Syl?" he asked. She tried to tell him, that the magma was spinning. Turning. She heard a rush from behind her, turning just in time to see the deluge spill over the rocks and rush into the molten rock. The steam pounded out of the crater, further obscuring the grey, lifeless skies, and she slogged through the rushing swells. Each step was a struggle as the water drew higher, flooding the forest. Drowning it. She had to reach higher ground. Couldn't reach the cliffs, the highest point. There, a hill. Refuge. Respite. She drew her soaking, flagging body onto what once was a hill, now, the only island which stood against the storm. She panted and tried to take in some air, but every breath was equal parts water and oxygen. She knew there was another nearby, but she couldn't see. The world had gone almost black in the downpour. The waters were rising, and now there was no place left to run. She turned over, catching sight of something which had been uncovered by the relentless rain. A gleam of white against the dark peat. She crawled to it, grasping it betwixt her fingers and dragging it into the non-sunlight. It was a skull, human by dimension, and bleached as if by the sun. Alas poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio. Something caught her eye, something trapped in the mud inside the eye socket. A message in delicate, dampened paper, stuck inside. Her fingers wormed into the crevasse, and she distinctly heard a woman scream. Almost got it loose. Have to be careful, else the message be ruined. Almost... A huge fist closed over her wrists, pulling the two apart. The skull dropped from her hand and landed with a leaden thunk on the table. Table? When had she...? "Casher! Stop her!" Monday had her back pressed to the wall, and her kettle was upended, sending steaming hot water all over the counter. What happened to the forest? And the rain? And the water? Jacob came storming into the kitchen, scooping up the hand grenade which had fallen from her hand, shoving the pin back in with more than the bare necessary force. "What the hell are you thinking?" Jacob shouted, his face going red as Casher dragged her to her feet. "One ruttin' milimeter, and that pin'd be out an' you'd been part of the paintjob!" "And fire twisted," she said. "Falling crossly, and again. Lest wrong rests in running." Jacob cast a worried look to Friday, who'd just arrived in the kitchen. All of them now. All of them shouting. Too much. Too many words. Couldn't get them all together. Couldn't make it coherent. "What's wrong with her now?" Anne asked. Voice and mind in concert. Suspicion. Scorn. Fear and hatred. "Grey edge, time with good enough, never side ready from the eighth," she implored. Too many words. "Feng kuang deh nu hai damn near got us killed, didn't she?" Anne asked, her dark eyes staring harshly at the telepath. "I'm sure it weren't like that," Zane said placatingly. "Weren't like that?" Anne demanded. "She had a grenade, she was pullin' the pin! How much more killin' us does she need to do before you open your gorram eyes and see the crazy?" "Anne," Jacob said softly. "No, Jacob!" She pulled away from his hand. "No more. She's a danger to everybody on this boat. Now she ain't your family and she ain't the woman we knew, and lashin' us over her is just gon' bring us down with 'er. And that seems 'xactly what you got us steer'd toward." "Wait, that ain't," Zane began. "Shut the hell up, Zane. Y'ain't got the first clue what's this about!" she shouted. "Might just, an' you ain't hearin' it," Zane shot back. "Stay the hell out a' this," Anne snapped. "Ni mun doh bi zuai!" Jacob shouted. "This ain't helpin' nothing." "No," Anne agreed. "But this might." Sylvia surged forward at Anne, breaking free of Casher's grip with a disembodied smash to his head. The smaller woman was pulling out her sidearm, and taking aim, despite Jacob's movement to block her. Sylvia got there first, smashing her in the sternum with the heel of her hand, snatching the firearm as she did so. Anne fell hard on the floor. She felt meaty arms surround her again, and strip the weapon out of her fingers. "Gorramit!" Jacob shouted. "Friday!" She felt something sharp prick the back of her leg. Then everything went dark, quiet. <> Sylvia was slack against her restraints. A good sign, considering the woman seemed to burn through pop like a barb-addict. The only ones in the infirmery now were Jacob and Friday herself, the others having studiously avoided this part of the ship in the last day. Bena was getting closer, but that didn't do anybody no good, especially with Syl actin' up like never before. "What I still can't figure is how she got her hands on that grenade," Friday muttered, rubbing her spectacles against her robe to dislodge a mote of dust. It wasn't the kindest thing to do to her attire, but sight trumped appearance. Odd, to think a trained, almost-Companion would ever think that. "That's a question what warrents a moment's consideration," Jacob agreed. "Didn't you lock all that fei wu in your bunk, what with her gone whooly?" she asked, looking over the most recent, and sadly rudimentary, scan she had of Sylvia. She couldn't make heads nor tails of it. Not exactly unexpected, though, bein's she was trained as a trauma surgeon, not as a neurologist. "I did at that. Locked it right up too, as you said. I guess," he scratched his unshaven chin, "that means she can pick the lock." "Frightenin' notion, that." "Ta ma duh," Jacob slapped his thigh. "What's even the point of havin' the lock? She is a telepath." Friday paused. That was a valid point. All she had to do was go a-rummagin' to pick up on what's she's needin', then in she go, easy as lyin'. A damn frightenin' notion. "If she's picking out grenades today," Friday said carefully. "Who's to say she won't play with them missiles you got hid all over the damn place tomorrow?" Jacob didn't seem to have considered that possibility, one that now was all manner of damaging to Friday's calm. The whole ship was a metaphorical powder keg, with missiles stashed from stem to stern under deck platin' and such. Not even to mention them's loaded. Sometimes, being on a pirate ship was a bit of a worry. "She's getting worse," Jacob said simply, after that long pause. "She couldn't even talk plain after we got to her." Friday nodded. "Yeah, I heard that'n. Disruption of the speach centers is a worryin' sign of advanced mental disorders," she scowled. "And brain tumors, I think. Hell, I didn't speciallize none in the brain. You want to know what's wrong with Syl, you find somebody's dealt with a telepath's physiology. Somethin' ain't exactly inside our social circles, dong ma?" Jacob grinned. Oh hell, there was always somethin' going to go wrong when he got to grinning. "Actually," he said with a smug look on his face. "We do got someone can call on what knows both brains and telepaths. And graduated from the Osiris MedAcad." Friday slapped her forhead with the heel of her hand. How could she have been that blind? "Simon," they both said as one. Jacob leaned over and pressed the intercomm button. "Anne," he said. "Ready a Omni-wise BroadWave, tuned to Serenity's pulse beacon." "Won't that make us all manner of a target?" came the pilot's reply. Friday was still a bit confounded at how Jacob shrugged off the fact that his wife tried to kill his once-First Mate. Chalk it up to the blindness of love, she did. "Only to Fireflys called Serenity," Jacob said placatingly. "Just send it out." There was a long pause. "I hope you know what you're doin', bao bei." Jacob laughed. "Trust me," he said. "Oh," Anne chuckled grimly. "Now I know somethin's gon' go wrong!" The pair waited several minutes, which Friday spent in futility trying to glean anything more from the scans. Of course, to no avail. Finally, the screen flickered on, revealing a smirking, clean shaven face with blue eyes. "Serenity, Captain Reynolds here," he said. A glimmer of recognition arced in his eyes, something which didn't quite catch. The two waited a moment. "Jacob," Greyson said. Mal snapped his fingers. "Right!" he said, his expression suddenly drawing inward. "You have a lot of guts callin' me after that little stunt." "What little stunt? The River one?" Jacob gave Friday a glance. "I don't know what the hell problems you got yourself into, but don't go dumpin' 'em on me and mine. You got your enemies, you can gorram fight 'em," Reynolds snapped. "What? Who?" "Couple of sword-carryin' moon-brains decided they'd want talk to us about you." "Tzao gao," Jacob said, his face going pale. "Is anybody hurt?" "Only the crazy jien huo Simon put a bullet into. Seems he's taken an irrational dislike of her," Mal said, voice becoming surprisingly neutral. "Of course," Friday said. "Jane did try to kill Kaylee's infant." Mal nodded sideways. "That'd about do it." "Did she die?" "No." "Ni ta ma duh, tyen-shia, suo-yo duh run du gai si!" Jacob swore. "Just no end to my bad luck, is there?" "Nice as it is to see a friendly... or at least ambivilent... face in the 'Verse," Friday cut in. "We're actually lookin' to talk with Simon." "Simon?" Mal had a baffled look. "Told ya it weren't f'r you, dumbass," Jayne's voice came from off camera, followed by a guffaw and a high, chittering laugh. River, unless she totally missed her mark. She still didn't immedietly see what the young woman saw in the hulking behemoth. Besides the body. And the eyes. And the face. But besides his admittedly suai exterior, on the inside... well, there wasn't much of anything, that Friday knew of. Still, she had heard of stranger pairings. "Simon, then," Mal said. "Simon! Get off'a my mechanic! You got a call comin' in!" Jacob and Friday exchanged a look. The screen changed a few seconds later, with a prim looking Simon replacing Serenity's captain. There was no way the lad had just gotten up from a rut; he weren't nearly disheveled enough, and with a newborn on the ground, Friday figured that sort of thing was about the last thing on either of their minds. He did look tired, but it was purely 'having to get up at two in the morning' tired. Not the fun kind. "Ni how," he said. "Oh, Friday. I assume this isn't a social call?" "Astute as always," she said, shouldering her own captain out of the way. "I got me a bit of a problem." "What sort of problem?" Simon asked, scratching his brow in the way Kaylee said he did when he was nervous. "The kind where a telepath goes batty an' delusion an' finds herself a weapon," Jacob said. Simon glanced between the two, then rubbed his eyes. "Believe it or not, this has happened to us before. What do you have? Any scans? Come to think of it, what exactly do you want?" Serenity's doctor asked. "I ain't exactly sure what I want," Jacob muttered, more to himself than to anybody else. "Just want the old Syl back. Way she was." Simon was shaking his head. "I don't believe there is anything Friday could give her that would turn her back into your old Sylvia. Believe me, I tried medicating River for nearly a year, without even the slightest hint of success. There are some drug combinations which repress her outbursts... but that might not even work for your woman." "Why'n the hell not?" Jacob demanded. Simon's face went all blank and poker-y. "Those people almost gave my sister an amygdalotomy. Sylvia, if Friday's old scan is correct, had a natural atrophy occur. Two completely different causes very well could have two completely different reactions to the medicine." The intercom chirped to life. "Uh, honey?" Anne said. "Might want to be cuttin' this short." Jacob looked to the speaker, then back to the screen, a worried look on his face. "I'm guessin' this might be a better thing to speak in person. No unwanted guests." "Unwanted guests?" Simon's eyebrow rose. Jacob and Friday both stared at him. "Oh! Unwanted guests. Where?" Jacob pondered a bit. "There's a place I know, way out in the black. Colder than the hobs a' hell. Might do well to go out there." "Right. I do hope she is alright," Simon said, obviously referring to the drugged woman on the slab. "Oh," Jacob shook his head, "she surely ain't that." Simon's face disappeared, revealing Mal and a great deal of the rest of Serenity's crew. "Waiting for something?" Jacob asked. Jayne gave a shrug and wandered off, leaving Mal, Zoe and Fredesa on screen. "Cold place, huh?" Mal said. "I think I know it. Might just mozy over and visit that grave like I promised." The screen flicked off. "So," Friday said. "Where are we going?" "Saint Albans. Coldest damn planet in the 'Verse, and the last damn place people are like to look for us." "Unless they do something terribly obvious like trace that call?" Friday pointed out. "Ain't never gonna happen," Jacob said. "Why not?" Jacob stood a moment, looking a bit poleaxed. "'Cuz?" Friday nodded. "Yup. Great plan." <> Casher glanced at his watch. Almost an hour late, now. Of course, he hadn't exactly arrived on time, but he highly doubted that she would have given up and left after just fifteen minutes. So he waited, adn the waiters pestered him to order. The holographic candle actually went dead and had to be replaced. And still he waited. "Excuse me," he said for what must have been the fifth time. "Has Friday Yiao arrived yet?" The waiter sighed and rolled his eyes. "No, mister Forsythe. Miss Yiao has still not arrived. Would you like to order?" Casher waved him away, letting the gloom of the evening wash over him. It had started to rain not long after he'd gotten here, an auspicious sign, he wagered. As he stared at the bare plate, the glass of water long drank, and the unchanging flicker of the false-candle, he wondered if he'd done something to upset her. She was as capricious as a lightning bolt, it seemed to him. Always doing what he least expected of her. Maybe he had misapprehended her once again. "There you are," Jacob voice announced, if in a modicum of quiet befitting the establishment. "I was pretty sure I'd find you here. Thought you'd have the little lady with you, though." "So did I," Casher said dejectedly. "I think I've been stood up, sir." Jacob shrugged and took an adjacent seat. "It happens, sometimes. Folk get confused about what they want. I ever tell you about when Anne and I lit the flame?" "Do I have to hear it right now, sir?" Jacob shot the much larger man a 'bi-zwei' look. "It was about four years ago, now. Anne an' me was in a weird arrangement where we'd always end up sleepin' in the same bed, an' nothin' else'd happen. Well, one morning as she's gettin' the Jack ready for a landing, I mention that per-maybe-haps her and I could have us some dinner, somewhere. She seemed delighted. At first, by which I mean." Casher scowled. "Sir, what does this have to do with...?" "Let your captain speak, will ya?" Jacob said. "Well, I go out all merry and spritefull out to where she said. Only she ain't there. I waited for three gorram hours, and she didn't show. Well, I was all manner of pissed and confused, and I go stormin' back to the ship, lookin' to snap a few heads off on general principle. Well, whole ship was empty, what with us bein' planetside and a ship that large needin' pretty badly to disgorge its crew any chance it gets. So, I'm raging around my ship, and finally I decide to drink and go to sleep. Well, I drank up all the hooch I could find, which wasn't much, for a wonder, and I went to bed." "Still don't see where this is going, sir." Jacob's one eye rolled a moment. "When I wake up, where's Anne but lyin' right on top of me. Dead asleep, I'll point out. Well, I shoved her off and stormed out, not wantin' particular-much to see her right then. Hell, for three days, I didn't say a single word to her, nor she to me. Even though she'd still end up sleepin' on me every damn night. Weirdest damn thing I ever heard of," Jacob shook his head with a smile. "Sir!" Casher said. "Yes?" "This ain't exactly helping, sir." "Not yet," Jacob rose a finger in triumph. "Three days off the world, I finally boil over, and confront her in the low hold. We scream at each other for a little bit, just gettin' out a few days worth of repressed anger and such, then she hits me. So I hit her back. Now we're brawlin' in the hold, and much as it shames to admit, I'm pretty sure she was winnin'. So, we stop for a second, get our breath back." "Wait, you hit your wife?" "Weren't always my wife, Casher," he said. "Hell, four years ago, she weren't really nothin' but my pilot. 'Sides, that's the past, ain't comin' back again, I can tell you that. Where was I? Right, the breather. So, in this breather, I finally ask her why she stood me up on Qartuph, and this's what she said. 'I didn't want you gettin' hurt. Men in my life always end up either dead or wishin' they was, and I don't want that for you.' Every damn thing I'd thought was wrong. She didn't do it since she didn't care. She did it specific 'cause she did, 'cause she cared too much." Casher nodded. "So, you're saying that Friday must have doubts about this, and she doesn't want me to get hurt?" "Hell no," Jacob said. "That woman threw her brain out the airlock and rode her heart at a gallop the moment she seen you. I don't need to make no point, Casher. That's a perk of bein' the captain." Casher shook his head. "Shiny," he muttered sarcastically. Then his brow furrowed. "What happened after that? The admission, I meant." "Oh," Jacob grinned. "Well, that out in the air, she and I had sex on the cargo-room floor." "Fei-hua." "No, truely. Damndest thing I ever been a part of," he grinned at the memory. "Needless to say, when we go back up into the upper holds an hour later, both of us bruised and clothes torn and smilin' like fools, the crew didn't know what the hell had happened." Casher nodded for a moment. "How was the meeting with your brother?" "Went pretty much how's I expected it would," Jacob said. "How so, sir?" Casher asked. "He hit me." "You? Noooo. Impossible. Who'd ever want to hit you?" the large man said sardonically. Jacob scowled, rubbing his jaw. "I think you're spendin' too much time with Zane, pickin' up on his ironical-ness." Casher shrugged. "Gotta be good for something, sir," he glanced around once more. "Hell with this. She's probably back on the ship." "Are you ready to order, sirs?" another waiter swooped down, asking. "Actually," Casher said, "I'll be leaving." "Very well," the man said, and began gathering what little had been placed on the table. Casher pulled the large coat onto his broad shoulders and grimaced at the thought of braving the storm. It looked to be hellish. Jacob's brown coat was plenty soaked already, despite his drying duration in the restaurant. The two left, headed in the same direction, side by side. "So," Casher said. "Right on the cargo bay floor?" "Rage and love are sides to the same coin, Casher," Jacob said. "A coin that can flip pretty damn fast. So fast that you eschew some of the niceties." "I guess," he muttered. "What is it?" "I thought I saw," Jacob trailed off. He shook his head. "No. Can't be him. Wrong planet." "Wrong planet?" Casher asked. "What do you mean, sir?" "Bout two months before I picked you up, me and Friday were at a fancy party on Persephone. Coulda sworn I seen him there," Jacob muttered. Casher frowned for a moment. "Why were you at a party with Friday and not your wife?" "We was trying tor rescue Monday. Friday is an identical match for her, which was reason enough to bring her along," Jacob shrugged, then. "Mostly, though, it's 'cause Anne's a bull in a china shop when it comes to civility." "You ever tell her that, sir?" Jacob rolled his eye. "The first thing you learn when you get married is it's pretty much always better to just shut the hell... Jeh shr shuh muh?" "What is it?" Casher asked. Jacob was staring down an alleyway, and took a step into it. Casher couldn't see anything, eyes being the way they were. "Oh, hell," Jacob swore. He pulled up the communicator from his pocket. "Anne, get the do... SHIT! Keep the door open for us." It was then that Casher heard the weeping, and physically pushed his captain out of the way. She hadn't stood him up. She was right here all along. Casher ripped the knife out of the wooden wall and her hand in one tug, bringing out a pained scream from her, one that didn't last long. She stared at the sky, not even noticing that he was there. "Friday? Friday can you hear me?" he asked. He stripped off his jacket and wrapped it around her bare, broken form like a blanket. Even as he gathered her up, she didn't register anything around her. She simply wept and pulled in tighter on herself. Casher gave Jacob a desperate glance. "There's nothin' can be done for her here, get her back to the ship," Jacob stepped aside. "Run." "Like a bat outta hell, sir," Casher said, then took off. His long legs carried him quickly through the nearly empty streets, even though he moderated himself so that she wouldn't be jostled overmuch. With her arm bending like that, it had to have been broken in at least two places. Silently, he wished that Sylvia wasn't crazy, or even particularly crazy today. He wished something could take this woman's pain away. The crowds became thicker as they closed in on the docks, and Casher sent some people crashing down into the pools of cold, late-spring rain, those who wouldn't get out of his way. By the time most got around to yelling at him, he was already long gone. He charged up the ramp to Legacy, almost running down Monday in the process. She took one look at the form in his arms, and took off after him. As carefully as he could, he set Friday onto her own surgical slab. It was something of a lucky-ness that he'd put Sylvia back into her bunk this morning. "What happened?" Monday demanded. "What happened to my sister?" "She was badly beaten," Casher paused for a moment, reaching for the painkillers. She deserved them right about now. "And... she was raped." "Oh, God," Monday said. "She's... oh, God." Casher injected the pop and Friday's blind weeping subsided, slowed, and ceased. He set about the task he'd never wished he'd have to perform; setting more broken limbs. He didn't remember the last time he'd done this, but he seemed to recall it was a time of great terror and panic. More of his 'patients' died than not. After her arm and leg, he went about properly closing the wounds on her other leg, arm and hand. He had just finished the first when Jacob arrived, panting of fatigue from his run. "How's she doing?" Jacob asked, compassion plain in his eye. "How do you think?" Monday responded venomously, before she turned back to her sister. "I was just askin'," Jacob muttered. "Well, don't ask. If you've got anybody with a more than rudimentary understanding of first aid, perhaps you'd best get them in here." "I guess that'd be you alone, then," Jacob sighed. The rest of the 'surgery' was done in silence. When Casher had finished the last stitch on her hand, pathetic though it was, he pulled off the gloves which were three sizes too small to begin with and threw them away. "What now?" Jacob asked. "Now, we wait. And pray, I guess," Casher responded. "Ain't lookin' for help from on high," Jacob said darkly. "Long damn wait for a train don't come. We got' look to our own, down here." "I suppose we do at that," Casher said. "If it's all the same, I'd rather stay here. In case she..." "Unnecessary," Monday said. She was holding Friday's hand. The one without the stitches in it. For some reason, that didn't strike Casher as odd as he thought it would. "Really?" Greyson said. "Here I figured you'd be the last person on this boat that'd want well of Friday." "She's a shirker, a licentious liberal, and has the worst vernacular I've ever heard, but she's still my sister," Monday said simply, her eyes becoming quite undeniably damp. "And that's the end of it. She's my sister. She's always looked out for me." Casher and Jacob nodded, and Monday continued, not paying attention to either of them as the tears spilled onto her cheeks. "Now... now it's my turn." <> "Is it done?" the dark haired gentleman asked. He paused for a moment, not liking the way the man said that before all other things. He was supposed to be a noble, but he didn't observe any of the niceties usually included in a Wave conversation before instigating business. "It is done," he replied. "Good," Wing said sadistically. "I want those whores to feel the humiliation they've forced me to endure." "I don't understand," he said. "Humiliation?" "That bitch is going to starve, isn't she? Did you ugly her up?" Wing asked. "Somewhat," he said. "My man seemed quite pleased with himself when he was done." "Did your man kill her?" Atherton asked, a feral glint in his eye. "Kill her? That was not part of the deal." "You try to quibble at your own peril, Hauser," Wing snapped. "I gave you very specific orders." "Yes, you did. Beat, rape, disfigure. Not kill," Hauser replied calmly. "No specification for death, no death, dohn luh mah?" Atherton Wing scowled, then, turning most of his face red. Most, excluding the scar on his cheek he'd gotten in the one swordfight he'd lost. "Next time," Wing said causticly. "When you send a man to do a task for me, make sure you pick one with a stronger stomach. I want Monday Yiao and all of the whores like her to suffer." The screen flicked off, and Hauser found himself regretting taking this appointment. Sure, the pay was good bordering on incredible, but each day, he found himself drifting towards becoming just like Atherton, a sociopath in noble robes. For the second time in as many days, he seriously considered removing himself from Persephone. With the chaos Persopine was in since the Reaver attack, he would hardly be missed, if he was noticed at all. A knock came at his door, dispelling his rebellious thoughts. He flipped down the Cortex screen letting it lie flat and concealed as part of the table-top. Many wondered why he would take a room in this hotel, especially after the brutal murder of Dmitri Niska. In truth, it was mostly for that reason. People would leave him alone. He shut his silken robe, knotting it. No reason to give any improprieties to whomever it was who sought to call on him, despite his personal disdain for it. He opened the door. It wasn't housekeeping, the usual suspect, nor any of his men come for a debriefing. This was somebody else, an old acquaintence. Hauser stared, silent for a moment, taking in the Asian man with the neatly trimmed beard in the green tunic. "Are you going to welcome me in?" the Operative asked.

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