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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Early gets a job from the Men in Blue while an old "friend" who'd just as soon shoot Mal as look at him offers him a job. Can we say trap in unison?
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 833 RATING: 7 SERIES: FIREFLY
Chapter II: Of Rehashed Plots and Blatant Traps
Early woke to one of the nastiest headaches he’d had in a long time. The Alliance ship, big damn ship, had come alongside him, pulled him up, and the Alliance soldiers were on him before he’d had a chance to do anything. He’d thought about running, but to where? He’d been in the middle of open space with nary an asteroid nor a planetary body he could hide in. He’d gotten out of worse jams then being captured by some purplebellies though. He figured he’d find something out.
The floors on all sides save one were of a dull white metal. Besides a slit in the wall that indicated where the toilet and sink pulled out, there was just a metal frame that was evidently supposed to be a cot of some sort. “Very nicely furnished,” he said to himself as he looked around. Separating him from the rest of the ship was a blue energy field. The Alliance sure went to a lot of trouble to make sure they had the shiniest equipment in the Verse.
A guard was standing outside that cell too, staring in at him. “Get up,” he growled, as Early began to stir. Before the Bounty Hunter had fully come to his senses, the forcefield had been lowered and two guards were dragging him out of his cell. Down one of those sterilized hallways, looked like a hospital but didn’t smell like one. They hauled Jubal to a room, threw him inside and closed the door behind him.
It looked like sort of an interrogation room. A single table with a few chairs sat in the middle of the room. A large reflective mirror sat alongside one wall. There was also another door along the eastern wall across from Early. It was this door that opened after a moment and dashed any plans Early might have considered for making his break.
In walked two men, rather nondescript for the most part, save for the blue gloves they wore on both hands. “Good morning Mr. Early,” blue glove one said.
“Is it morning?” Early said blandly.
“It is,” Blue Glove One repeated. “Sit,” He gestured towards one of the chairs. He took a seat himself, his companion remained standing, and dropping a rather critical gaze on the bounty hunter.
“What do you know about River Tam, Mr. Early?” Blue Glove Two said.
“What do I know about her?” Early blinked. He thought for a minute to say something bland, but from the penetrating gaze the two men gave him, even he hesitated at the thought of lying. There were some people in the Verse that you simply didn’t mess with. “Smart kid, pulled one over my eyes. Not half as crazy as the warrant made out.”
“So, you spoke extensively with her?” Blue Glove Two asked as he put his hand inside his coat. Blue Glove One put a hand up in the air, a gesture to stop and Blue Glove Two removed his hand.
“Tell us…about Captain Reynolds, Mr. Early.” Blue Glove One said.
“I’d be collecting the reward money right now if it hadn’t been for him,” Early muttered. It wasn’t that he was angry at Reynolds, more like annoyed. After all, the money was really only a very nice bonus to go along with the job. If he’d been smart, he never would have tried for an Alliance contract though. Never was anything but trouble when dealing with the government.
“You’d say that you’re bitter?” Blue Glove one said.
“I wouldn’t say that.”
Blue Glove Two reached inside his pocket again, causing Early to turn to him. Why did he keep doing that. Blue Glove One kept talking. “So, you’re not interested in pursuing Reynolds. Well, that’s alright, I’m told there is someone on Whitefall who might be interested.”
“I didn’t say that,” Early said quickly. He was beginning to feel out the waters. If he didn’t make himself useful to these two then his life expectancy was not likely to be very much prolonged. But there had to be something more in it for him, “But the money has to be good.”
“As it happens, we know of someone who would be very interested in paying for Captain Reynold’s safe return,” Blue Glove One said. “Have you ever met Adelai Niska?”
“We should go as well,”
“No, he will not fail again,”
“How can you be sure?”
“The alternative is death,”
“Mal?” Wash’s voice crackled over the small com-channel in Mal Reynold’s room. The Captain pulled himself up and shook his head, trying to get his eyes awake. After the excitement with River he had been out like a log.
“Gorram it Wash, you know what time it is?”
“You’ve got a wave coming in,”
“Alright, pipe it down here,” Mal said. He pulled himself out of his bunk, muttered a curse and walked to the tiny screen. The screen was flickering and a moment later the image of a rather bitter old crone, in an ugly hat, appeared on the screen, causing Mal to blink in astonishment, “Wo de tien ah, Patience, never thought, never wanted to see you again.”
If anything, her scowl grew bigger, “Thought I might get another chance to see you boy, get that bullet lodged in your chest I’ve always wanted to see there.”
“What do you want?” Mal was tired and he didn’t feel like playing games with Whitefall’s resident overaged windbag.
“Got a job for you,” Patience said. Whatever she was expecting Mal to respond with, she evidently didn’t take kindly to it when Mal replied with a deep laugh.
“Sure Patience, we could be using a job, but I’m not altogether clear on how the payment would be a positive for me.”
“We’ll arrange it so we don’t have to deal with each other if you like, though I’m a little wounded that you don’t trust me.”
“Patience, I trust you about as much as I trust a Reaver at a wedding,”
“Well, I can’t say the same for you unfortunately. You’re not very bright boy but you keep your word, that’s reputation that’s hard earned out here. So here’s the deal, I drop the money, tell you where it is, you pick it up at your convenience and in return you fetch some goods for me and drop ‘em at your convenience. We don’t never have to lay eyes on one another.”
“Alright,” Mal crossed his arms and took a more serious look at the old woman on the monitor. “We might be able to deal, you tell me what you’ve got in mind. But I don’t like the sound of it, deal’s off. I don’t fancy another bit of gunplay like the last time we ran into each other.”
“Deal’s just like I laid out,” Patience said. “I’ll transmit coordinates to you as to where your payment is, you pick it up any time. You give me your word you’ll deliver the goods, well that’s good enough for me. You come in anytime day or night to collect it. It’ll be far enough out and you can sweep the whole area to make sure I ain’t got plants waitin for you if you like. You fetch my goods and do the same for me. Think you’re getting cheated, deal’s off.”
“Right then, you tell me what you want, what you think you’re gonna give me for it, I’ll tell you what you’re really going to give,” Mal said. He must have been crazy. But it sounded to him like they just might be able to get a fair deal out of her.
“With all due respect sir, you’re crazy,” Zoe said after Mal had made his announcement regarding their upcoming mission. “She’s tried to kill you twice. If it’s not a trap, it’s still a con.”
“My thinking is that it is a trap Zoe,” Mal said. “But we gotta take that chance, work ‘s been light lately. No offense to Inara, but hers never could pay us, not that I woulda asked for any after what happened to them, we haven’t had a good payin job in weeks, ship’s breakin down.”
Zoe leaned forward, “So, what’s our plan then?”
“Go in, get the money first, Patience has said we can pick it up any time now, if we get away with the money free and clear then it’s just a matter of goin and getting the cargo from the convoy, won’t even have to touch down on Whitefall again.”
“Just a matter,” Jayne snorted. “That Convoy’s got Alliance all over it, I thought we were avoidin them.”
“We are,” Mal said. “We land outside of New Brisbane, go in with the mule: you, Zoe, and me. The rest of you’ll stay here. Wash’ll be on the horn in case we need to give you a buzz.”
“How can you be sure Patience’s info is good?” Zoe said. “For all we know, she could have sold us out to the Alliance for double what she’s paying you.”
“Don’t think so, not seeing where she’s gonna find the profit in that,” Mal said. “We’re all runnin a bit nervous on account of that Bounty Hunter getting inside Serenity hereback but my thinking is we’re still under Alliance radar, they’ve no hide nor hair where we are. Sides, Patience always said she didn’t like to spend money when she didn’t have to.”
“I still don’t like it sir,” Zoe said. “She could have gotten any of a dozen crews for this job, yet she picked you, why? She hates you.”
“Could be its like she said, she needs those supplies real bad, we’re the only ones she’s thinkin that can pull the job off, could be she’s just tryin to pull a fast one, that’s what we’re goin to have to find out.”
“And I suppose we’re just going to give her the money back if something goes wrong?” Jayne crossed his arms and scowled across the table.
“Money’s ours, ‘ll need spending as soon as those supplies are dropped. We keep it job done or not,” Mal said.
“Finally, some sense,” the mercenary growled as he stabbed at an apple with his knife.
Sense? That didn’t seem right at all. Zoe didn’t like it, not in the least. She tossed a glance to Wash, not saying anything, but it was written on his face, and on everyone else’s face. No one liked this plan. There was something about it that was all wrong. Something about it that really boiled her soldier’s instincts. But Mal seemed so damn sure about it.
And then there was the money. They needed the money. Serenity hadn’t had a good fill up foever, and even the pantry was getting a little low. They’d have no fuel, no food, and no ship. They didn’t seem to have much of a choice. So when Mal asked if everyone was in, Zoe chimed in. “I’m in.” Now just so long as nothing went wrong and Patience didn’t double-cross them.
Mal came out of the dining room with his head burning. Gorram it, he didn’t like the plan any more then the rest of them. Of course it was a trap, but any chance at some money. Times were tough, they needed it. If Patience was baiting them, maybe she’d at least drop that to lure them into a false sense of security. Regardless, the ship’s resident companion was not who he had planned to run into.
“So, we’re changing course for Whitefall,” Inara said.
Mal put his hands on his waist, “Reckon we are.”
“I thought you were going to get me to one of the core worlds, or somewhere where I could catch a ship,” Inara said.
“Who says I ain’t?”
“Well, it seems to me that Whitefall is in the wrong direction.”
“Look Inara,” Mal glared at her, “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting your whoring but…”
Her eyes grew to tiny slits, sending, and not for the first time, shivers down the Captain’s back. He bit his lip, regretting that he had said it and knowing that it would lead to another argument with the companion. Normally he wouldn’t have…but hell he was already frustrated enough.
He waited for her to say something biting, something that would draw them into one of their heated arguments. He waited and he waited and it didn’t come. She simply looked at him, then turned on her heel and marched back to her shuttle. “Inara!”
She looked back at him, “Take all the time –you- want Mal.”
“Look…” he walked up to her. “You ain’t even told the crew yet…”
“Is that what this is about?” she snarled at him. Her face was flushed, Mal could sense her rising anger. Her glare became more imposing then it had already been. I must be really stupid.
“No, that’s not what this is about,” he growled back, trying to take the offensive. Trying desperately to take the offensive with the hope that he could gain the upper hand before this conversation went places he definitely didn’t want it to go.
“It’s ridiculous Mal! Ridiculous! Going to Whitefall?! She wants to kill you! But you’re too stupid to…”
“That’s enough,” the words slipped out his mouth nearly a whisper, his teeth clenched in an effort not to snap at her. Hell, half the crew was already watching the exchange, he didn’t need to attract anyone else. “This is my boat, I make the decisions, I’m the…”
She cut him off with a caustic chuckle, “As if I could forget. Good night Mal.”
“GOOD NIGHT Mal,” Inara said more forcefully as she completely retreated into the shuttle, leaving Mal with a bad taste in his mouth and a temper that hadn’t been abated by giving anyone a verbal lashing.
“What’re ya’ll fightin about?”
“Don’t you have some gorram engines to fix?” he sneered at Kaylee. She disappeared but not before giving him a look that made him instantly regret having anything to say to her. He looked up, but everyone else had retreated, not wanting to deal with a “I’ll-even-chew-the-plucky-engineer-out” type Mal. So, with nothing left to do, he looked for his bunk.
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