ReBirth - 6 - Soul
Friday, April 7, 2006

This is Soul's next chapter in the ongoing series by myself and Werzbowski. Special thanks to Channain for the awesome beta!!


Teaser 1-Soul 2-Werzbowski 3-Soul 4-Werzbowski


Spangle’s Bazaar Orbiting Greenleaf

Soul stood at a rickety metal railing overlooking the bazaar, the glass of vodka balancing on his fingers having been refilled twice already. Behind him, he could hear Hagan in his office, shouting at someone, the bigger man’s voice carrying through the closed door easily. Soul couldn’t quite make out the words, but he knew the gist of the conversation; he had filled Hagan in on the reason for his visit, and the businessman had immediately begun contacting his sources. Well, maybe not immediately. The gun pointed at Soul’s chest had been a pretty strong conversation stopper, and had it not been for the girl in the black dress, Soul was pretty sure he would be lying on the floor in a puddle of blood by now. That, and the small trinket Soul had given him had been enough for Hagan to stand down and listen to what Soul had to say. “So what exactly was that you gave him?” Soul didn’t have to turn to be able to picture the tight black dress and blond hair on the woman behind him. She had left enough of an impression from their first meeting that Soul was fairly certain he would never forget her face. Or her body, for that matter. “Something he needed to see,” Soul replied, taking a sip of his drink. “I hope it gave him some closure.” “Well, it seems to have recharged him.” Soul nodded. The woman walked up beside him and rested her hands on the railing. For a moment, the two of them simply stared off of the balcony into the throng of people below. Soul could still hear the clamoring masses by Hagan’s front door, all trying to gain access to Samuel Hagan, and to beg of his assistance in whatever menial issue they presented. Sure, some of their problems were bigger than they could handle, but to think that one man could solve everything…Soul shook his head. Life simply didn’t work that way. The woman in the black dress turned to him, a question on her lips. “So is there a reason that they call you ‘Soul’?” Letting a grin cross his otherwise composed features, Soul looked over at her slowly. “Yeah. Because I have one.” She chuckled at that. A sweet, melodious sound of the likes Soul hadn’t heard in a long time. But that wasn’t why he was there. He had a mission, and if he had any hope of disappearing off of the Parliament’s radar for good, he had to keep focused. Still…his eyes traveled over her. Aw, hell. “So what does Hagan call you?” “Hagan calls me many things.” She stepped towards him and pressed the full length of her body against him. “My name, however, is Ciaran.” The name fit the voice fit the body. “Nice name,” he managed as he choked on his drink.

* * *

Thirty minutes later, as the two of them emerged from a darkened room down the hall, Hagan was still shouting in his office. Ciaran looked as immaculate as she had before, but she now wore a slight grin on her face. Soul himself had reverted back to same placid look he always wore. They had barely walked back out onto the balcony when the big black man burst out of his office door, still shouting. “Marshall, get in here!” Soul glanced over at Ciaran before following Hagan back into his office. The floor beside the chair still showed signs of the broken glass Hagan had dropped for dramatics sake, but the heavy tread of Hagan’s shoes had managed to ground the glass into something resembling fine powder. Further towards the wall was a pile of items that had been occupying the bigger man’s desk earlier. On the desk now, however, were a series of small computer pads all gathered around a central console that Soul surmised to be a Cortex link. He was proven correct. “I watched that video again,” Hagan said. “Watched it a few times. Damned if I can tell if it’s a fake or not. Looks real, but I’ve seem some pretty lese feeds that turned out to be real, and a few ruttin’ good ones that were as real as Ciaran’s tits.” Soul ignored that last part, and turned to the Cortex link where the Miranda video was frozen at the beginning. Starting the feed, he rested his palms on the desktop and watched it once again. The vid cycled as it ended, so Soul froze it again before turning back to Hagan. “It’s been torn apart by the best graphics people the Parliament could get it’s hands on, from Alliance, to Blue Sun, even to certain people in the entertainment industry.” To Hagan’s raised eyebrow, Soul added, “After all, it was most likely someone with access to some pretty high quality vid equipment who made this in the first place. It was put together very well, and that last part where the Reavers attack the woman was created so seamlessly that there was very little indication that it was fabricated.” Soul shook his head. “Of course, they could have placed her in a room and let Reavers loose upon her just to create the authentic look, but I’m not sure anyone would be willing to die like that just for an anti-Alliance vid in the first place.” “Yeah, I know,” Hagan acknowledged. “All of my contacts say the same gorram thing: it’s a fake. Course, most of ‘em ain’t gonna risk their necks to expose the Alliance on anything.” “Did you find anything out about the information smuggler?” “Actually, I did.” Hagan grabbed one of the computer pads and tossed it over to Soul. “Fella I know runs one of the border stations out past Beaumonde said he seen a man acting strange, spendin’ quite a bit of time uploadin’ a few things at a Cortex terminal. Didn’t get a good look at his face, but he did get the ship registration he flew out on.” His eyes shooting to the pad in his hand, Soul felt the first bit of relief since he had woken up from Cryo. He finally had a lead. “Any chance my room is still here?” Hagan nodded. “Them Fed liumangs tore it apart, but there wasn’t much there to find. Room’s still there, though. Haven’t rented it out to anyone since.” Soul nodded his thanks. “I appreciate it, Sam, and again, I apologize for the trouble I caused.” Soul extended his hand, and Hagan grabbed it in a crushing grip. “What’s done is done,” the big man replied. “Besides, I’ve got closure now.” With his other hand he reached into a pocket and produced the trinket that Soul had brought with him. A single military dog tag lay in his massive palm, the name “Ellis Daniel Hagan” etched across the metal, followed by an I.D. number. “I told you I would get you an answer,” Soul said, “Even if I am four years late. Your son died a hero.” “You know, I really wanted to shoot you back there. This is the only thing that stopped me.” At that, Soul grinned. “Well, I’m sure that Ciaran draping herself across you might have helped plead my case a bit, too.” Hagan chuckled. “Yeah, maybe a bit.”

* * *

The climb took nearly twenty minutes, but after making his way through four detours and one dead-end, Soul finally found the apartment that at one time he had called home. He had tried using his cortical implant to interface with the bazaar’s computer, but the map of the station hadn’t been updated in nearly seven years, so it did him no good. None-the-less, he did eventually find it. The rust on the door was worse than he remembered, and the numbers had faded off of the doorpost, but it was still there. Unlocking the door with the small key Hagan had provided him with, Soul stepped inside. The smell of rot hit him as he walked in the door, and he fought back his gag reflex, choosing instead to breathe through his mouth, not his nose. He tried to ignore the fact that he could still almost taste the rot in the air as he made his way through the foyer, which opened into a decent sized sitting room. To his left stood the small kitchen, and he could see food all across the floor, the obvious source of the smell. He would have thought that four years would have killed off the odor, but then again, he had made certain adjustments to the room while living there, including air sealing the room and installing dampers on the vents in the event the station decompressed, and he vaguely remembered turning on the system before he left. Apparently the Feds that had ransacked the place had never found the switch to turn it off. Directly ahead was a small hallway leading to a bedroom, a study, and a small bathroom. A closet in the bathroom contained an even smaller laundry room, one that Soul had installed after walking through the community laundry the first time. It had seemed cleaner to wash his clothes in the sewer pipes than in that room. Walking down the hallway, he passed the bathroom on his left and the office to his right, making his way to the bedroom at the end of the hall. Pausing at the door, he took a deep breath before walking through the door. He had left a few personal items and clothes before he left the last time; God only knew what the Feds had done with it all. Pushing the door open with the toe of his boot, he walked through, and what he found didn’t surprise him in the least. The carpet on the floor was torn up, the dresser was empty and tipped on its side, the bed itself looked as if it had been taken apart with a sledgehammer, and evidence of the mattress’ demise could be seen all over the room. Soul couldn’t help but chuckle a bit as he moved into the room to salvage what he could. In the end, he came back with two viable shirts, a pair of pants, and an old Stetson hat that had somehow escaped the massacre. Everything else was beyond repair. Even his only spare pair of boots had been cut apart and the pieces strewn about. He shook his head as he walked back to the foyer, placing the items inside the large rucksack he had borrowed from Hagan. Then the fun began. His first stop was the kitchen. He stepped gingerly through the piles of food and over to the refrigerator. He had a feeling that if it hadn’t been built into the wall, it might have been on the floor just like the dresser in the bedroom. The racks were gone and several chop marks were evident on the inside, but the Feds had missed something of key importance. Dropping to his knees, Soul pushed down hard on the bottom shelf, feeling it give beneath his palms. While pushing down, he slid the shelf toward the back of the refrigerator, then to the right, and finally back toward him. There was a soft click. He removed his hands and reached up for the climate-control knob. The refrigerator, like most others, had a common control interface on the door, nothing more than a glorified Cortex screen. However, this particular model had a physical temperature selector on the inside in the event that the Cortex screen died. The knob now served as a sort of combination lock. After several turns, a much louder click was heard. Soul gave one final downward push to the bottom shelf, and stood up. The refrigerator gave a shudder, and then with a creak, it slid back into the wall, leaving a space big enough for a man to walk through. The room it led to was barely bigger than his bathroom, but it was all the space he needed. Directly in front of him was a highly encrypted Cortex terminal designed by Blue Sun, and stolen by Soul from the cargo ship that delivered the first shipment to a Federal base on Three Hills. It ran directly through an interface not too different from the one in Soul’s head, and was programmed with an encryption code that had, as of yet, not been broken by hackers. Soul powered up the system and flipped down a small bench from the side wall so he could sit. The brilliance of it all was the fact that Soul not only owned the apartment that he had lived in, but also the one next door. There were no official records of that, of course. Money had changed hands between Soul and Hagan, but as far as the records were concerned, the room next door was listed as “condemned”. The first thing Soul had done was to take a torch to the room and burn whatever he could. It made for one damn fine bonfire until the sprinklers kicked on and put out the flames. Then he stuffed the room full of whatever trash he could find until there was no way humanly possible to get past the front door. The room behind his refrigerator was actually in the neighboring apartment. Whenever the refrigerator was retracted to hide the room, the room itself folded its walls to confuse any Alliance sensors from making out the shape of an open space. The walls basically flattened against each other, letting the trash in the other apartment fall into the previously occupied space. That way, the scans would simply see trash piled up against a thick wall. It was a great design, and apparently it had held up against the Feds who raided his apartment. Once the Cortex terminal booted up, Soul began the process of downloading the files to Sangre de Angeles. The way he figured it, after this trip, he wouldn’t have any more need for the apartment. He had Sangre back, and once he brought the information smuggler in, Soul would finally be free to do as he pleased. Retreating from the room, he grabbed the large rucksack off of the floor and began to transfer his possessions into it. There wasn’t a lot in the room; mostly firearms of varying sizes and a decent selection of ammo. His paper files went into the bag, followed by the firearms and the ammo. A few daggers and a single long sword were loaded, and then all that was left was the Cortex terminal, and a small leather-wrapped package on a high shelf. Soul keyed in a code on the terminal to fry the hard drive, and then reached up for the package, transferring it directly into the bag. He hit a panel on the wall before exiting the room. There was a whine and a grinding sound as the refrigerator slid back into place. Soul could hear the gears working as the walls of his hidden room folded in upon themselves. He stepped back and took one final look at his apartment. He normally wasn’t one for nostalgia, but he felt this situation warranted a moment’s reflection. There was a pause as he surveyed the room, and then he turned to leave, stopping at the door only long enough to remove an item from his belt and toss it back into the sitting room. Then he was out the door and walking down the hallway. From behind him he heard the whump as the incendiary grenade exploded in the apartment. The walls were strong enough to withstand the explosion, so he wasn’t worried about the fire spreading anywhere. He had the sprinklers programmed to come on in fifteen minutes, but he knew that the phosphorous flames had more than enough time to erase any evidence that Soul had ever been there at all.

* * *

On Board Serenity Whitefall

Mal stormed onto the Bridge, his anger, for once, getting the better of him. “First I get a Wave askin’ about Wash, now I got a crazy girl on my boat wantin’ me to chase a man in her dreams!” He threw his hands up in the air. “It’s a gorram mutiny!” “You got a Wave about Wash?” Mal closed his eyes as Zoe walked onto the Bridge behind him. He hadn’t meant for her to hear that. “Cap’n?” Mal didn’t turn, willing time to reverse so she would have never heard him. “Mal.” It was an order. Something he hadn’t heard from Zoe in quite a while. He turned slowly and opened his eyes. Zoe stared back at him, her face emotionless except a twitch in her left eye. “I got it two days ago, just before we hit Ita Moon. Didn’t want to say anything then. Still don’t. Told the man who sent it that Wash is long gone.” “Open it,” she said. Mal sighed and opened up the Cortex link, bringing up the Wave in question and placing his thumb on the reader. Once the message came up, he stepped away and let Zoe read it; and for the first time since her husband’s death, she sat down into the pilot’s chair. For a long time, she stared at the screen. Mal didn’t know what to say or do. After all, it wasn’t like Wash was communicating from beyond the grave. It was just from someone claiming to know Wash. Nothing more than that, but to Zoe, it appeared to be the world. Finally, her slender fingers came forward and typed out a response. Mal opened his mouth to say he had already done that, but then he thought better of it. Finished, she slowly stood. “What did you tell him?” Mal asked. Zoe took a deep breath and looked him straight in the eye, and Mal nearly fainted as a single tear traced its way down her cheek. “I told him the truth. Told him my man died with honor. Told him Wash was a hero.” She stumbled through her words with that last line, and Mal couldn’t remember seeing Zoe so vulnerable, at least not since the war. He didn’t know what to do, what to say; so he stepped aside. She slowly walked past him to leave the Bridge, but said one last thing before she walked away. It was a phrase that had been said by Jayne before, and then it had given Mal cause to grin. Now, however, when Zoe said it, all it did was break Mal’s heart. “I’ll be in my bunk.”

* * *

On Board Sangre de Angeles En-Route to Beaumonde

Wallowing Bitch was a strange name for a family recreational space vehicle, but even stranger was the fact that Soul could find no registration at all for the RSV. It seemed to simply not exist. He hacked into the border station’s security feeds and ran the videos back to the date in question, but again, all he could make out was the back of a person in every shot, head bowed, face hidden, almost as if they knew where the cameras were and knew how to keep their face hidden. Try as he might, Soul could find not a single shot he could use to try and hunt down an identification. So instead he focused on the ship. He checked the docking records, checked the yard manager’s logs, even hacked into the feeds in the docking bay, but it still got him nowhere. There were no identification numbers on the RSV, and the only way he knew to call her Wallowing Bitch was from a single line of writing in the yard manager’s log, next to a rather harsh note about an unpaid docking fee. With a sigh Soul sat back, preparing himself for yet another long flight.


Friday, April 7, 2006 10:30 AM


Fantastic!! Keep it coming!!

I really like the story, both sides of it. What I like the most is that you guys have been able to capture the Firefly/Serenity atmosphere. It's gritty, it's dirty but it still keeps some humour.

Well done!

Thursday, April 13, 2006 6:41 AM


Excellent work yet again Soul. The story's building up nicely and I can't wait for the next part. I just hope it isn't as long a gap (like I'm one to talk!)

If I can suggest something though, could you offer a brief recap as an introduction? Blame my short memory but I had to re-read chapter 2 to remember what had happened.


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