White Lotus, Tiger's Eye [Part 3]
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The fake Alliance ship from 'Heroes of Beltane' turns up in Alliance space. Serenity & co on Ariel. Jayne and Vera imprisoned by the White Lotus triad. Warning for violence and references to sex.



Gallant as the dragon and fierce as the tiger. Till the heavens turn cold and the ground we walk unfold. Standing tall as the sky and firm as the ground. May we be together under the full moon. Chinese sayings * God's tears on the sidewalk: it's the mother of all rain. But in the thick blue haze of Harry's, you will feel no pain. And you will feel no soft hand slipping on your knee. You don't have to pay for memories, they will all come free. Another Harry's bar -- or that's the tale they tell. Another Harry's Bar – Jethro Tull * And, of course, no prison scenario is complete without... * I hear the train a comin'; it's rollin' 'round the bend, And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when. I'm stuck at Folsom Prison and time keeps draggin' on. But that train keeps rollin' on down to San Antone. When I was just a baby, my mama told me, "Son, Always be a good boy; don't ever play with guns." But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. When I hear that whistle blowin' I hang my head and cry. I bet there's rich folk eatin' in a fancy dining car. They're prob'ly drinkin' coffee and smokin' big cigars, But I know I had it comin', I know I can't be free, But those people keep a movin', and that's what tortures me. Well, if they freed me from this prison, if that railroad train was mine, I bet I'd move on over a little farther down the line, Far from Folsom Prison, that's where I want to stay, And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away. Fulsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash * [I am not suggesting the Triad act now as I describe, but this is 500 years in the future, so who knows? As you will see, Commander Grayson from 'Per Ardua...' makes a reappearance. The Chinese is from 'Firefly' or 'Serenity'.] * Commander Grayson was sitting at his desk when his message service on the computer started flashing. “Yes, Caspian?” “Sir? Remember those idiot threats we had from the fake Alliance over that hidden bunker on Venice?” Grayson sighed, “Yes; they thought they could wangle their way to a lions' share of the supposed loot. Hwoon dahn!” “Well, sir; their ship has just turned up in this sector, running on impulse. Salvage teams are bringing her in for inspection.” “Life signs?” “Negative. Big hole in the bridge and Captain says she's a dead ship apart from the engine.” “Very well. Someone else got to her first. Get a search team on her in space suits; go over everything with a fine tooth comb. Reports to me, for my eyes only. Understood?” “Yes, sir!” * Hori and River followed the customs directions to a space dock near Ariel's main city. Zoe elected to watch the ship with little Sarah. She really wanted to get out there with her guns blazing and Mal could see it in her eyes, but the urge to protect her daughter was stronger. Everyone else played guard to the silver-coated Buddha. It was destined for a major shrine a few miles away and the crew were paid off to get it there as soon as possible. After that, they could do some snooping whilst pretending to have R&R in the big city. The carefully wrapped Buddha was duly loaded in the mule and Mal, Inara, Hori and Jasmine got on. River, Simon and Kaylee hired a second mule from the port and rode 'shotgun' behind. They were armed to the teeth, but with most of the weapons out of sight. Mal had his gun at his hip, so did Hori. Inara had her bow and arrows plus several knives and long, poisoned hair pins. Simon had his portable medical kit and Kaylee had a pistol. The big guns and useful things like grenades were hiding under the Buddha and in the locker at the back of each vehicle. Also in the locker were some sharpened Tai Chi swords. Hori had a long staff in his hand, but he held as if it was just a humble walking aid. River had her own self. * Some hours later, Mal and Jasmine found them a nice seedy-looking bar in town for some beer. The sign outside proclaimed it belonged to someone called Harry. Chinese characters all over the windows advertising Oriental food proclaimed it as probably being of interest to the Chinese community. It was a start. Jasmine approached the bar and ordered drinks. After a number of drinks had been consumed, she 'let' it slip that her 'husband' and 'boss' had been killed and that she was interested in help with bringing his murderer to justice. She made out that the Serenity crew were a mixture of her hired bodyguard and 'staff'. She went back to the table and gave Mal a tiny nod, then they ordered food. This whole delicate negotiation for Triad 'help' would take some time. Maybe even a day or more. *** Master Heng called in one of his men, “So, our intelligence from the whores was false. Jayne Cobb resisted that floozy.” “He shouldn't have, master. Two of them described the woman we sent as being his hottest fantasy.” “He's obviously stronger than we anticipated, or the woman he was taken with is his new fantasy.” “There is some slight evidence that he...pleasured...himself afterwards.” Heng spat, “These disgusting Westerners! Well, we'll soon see if his resolve and skill is as good as he thinks *and see how he reacts when his woman is in peril. Time for the main event. Prepare the arena. Send out invitations. We need a show of prowess.” “Yes, boss.” * Jayne was knocked out again, by gas this time. He was getting very annoyed about that and aching to kick some righteous butt with a vengeance. He woke up in some kind of indoor stadium, with seats tiered on all four sides and a big metal cage in the middle. The cage had chains holding it together at the corners. Jayne was strapped to something metal, almost upright and heavily chained in. They'd had the decency to give him back his loin cloth. Members of what he assumed were the Triad filed into the seats until the stadium was fairly full. Maybe a hundred or so people. Some of them were very well dressed. From one of the entrances, another metal thing was wheeled in. Jayne nearly cheered. It was Vera, strapped to something similar to himself. Her eyes fluttered open and they looked at each other. They could see everything they needed to see in each other's eyes. Well, if it was going to end here, at least they'd be together. Vera was wearing a tee shirt several sizes too small and a tiny pair of shorts made out of something like tee shirt material. Some guy dressed in black unlocked the cage. A Sensei came out, also dressed in black. He went into the cage, then they undid Vera, covering her possible escape with several drawn katanas and thrust her in there with him and locked the door. Jayne struggled against his bonds, but it was no use. Vera was on her own. * The Sensei paced around her in circles, soft footfalls like a jungle cat or a tiger. Vera matched him, watching. She knew she couldn't relax concentration for an instant. Not even with Jayne over there, mostly naked, watching her. The Sensei hit her with his hand before she saw him move. He'd spotted her tiny distraction and used it. Vera edged backwards an inch or two, focussing completely here and now. The second strike she saw in the nick of time, put up an arm block, got a kick in. Then he was on her, weaving, striking, kicking even as she fought back. It was fast and she was dimly aware of pain, but kept going. She couldn't afford not to, the Sensei was finding tiny chinks in her guard and skill and exploiting them. He knocked her feet from under her and she landed on her bottom. He pounced, sitting on her chest, facing her head. Vera bucked, got her hands free and gave him the best double punch to the kidneys she could manage. He struck at her neck, but her blow to him made it feebler. Then she hit him in the solar plexus with her head. It was a fairly desperate and dirty move and it gave her a tiny second of advantage. She grabbed him right where a guy does not want to be grabbed and pulled. Score one for the dirtiest move of the lot. He swore eloquently in Chinese and rose to his feet. He looked at her disdainfully, cradling himself, then out to the audience, “I *could finish her, but I think she has earned the right to live.” Jayne grinned. It hadn't been textbook by any means, but Vera had taken a Sensei off guard. He fervently hoped the man wouldn't be able to get it up ever again. If he'd had any doubts left at all about his love for Vera, they would have been swept away completely in the face of what he was feeling now.

*** “Report from the fake Alliance ship, sir.” Grayson nodded and took the print-outs, “All crew dead. A good deal of the contents of the bunker now safe in Alliance hands again. Fingerprints of various of the crew plus one Sheriff Vera Samuels, killed in the skirmish and cremated and buried on Beltane next to her ex-lover. She'd discovered the bunker by accident earlier.” He looked up, “Any idea who caused the hole in the hull?” “Probably a ship from Venice where the bunker was. You could try the new Sheriff of Beltane, Cliff Smith; he's a Maori.” Grayson put in the call. Once formalities had been exchanged, he asked, “Is there any information on the people responsible for dealing with the fake Alliance ship you had in your sector a couple of months or so ago?” “Someone from Venice, eh.” Cliff answered, fudging the truth a little bit. “It's just that there was a substantial reward posted for the capture or killing of these scumbags and I'd like to see it gets to the right people.” “Sorry, mate; no idea.” “I could legitimately demand a record of the ships in Beltane and Venice airspace about that time.” “I'll send over what I have, eh.” There would be reference to a Firefly class ship in there, that was the legal basic requirement. Cliff just hoped Grayson wouldn't be able to dig any further.


Mal and the crew had come back to the bar for the second day running. It was raining, hard. Jasmine and he went into a room at the back of the bar, he as her 'bodyguard'. Jasmine conducted the whole conversation in Chinese and Mal sat there trying to look both hard and dumb. “So, who can you recommend in the community to help me?” The man opposite them wanted to be called Chien and Mal knew damn well that was fake, “There are a number of...organisations...that would help you. However the best group would be White Lotus, but they'd be expensive.” Jasmine waved a hand dismissively, “Money is no object.” She snapped her fingers at Mal and he produced one of Jayne and Vera's bags of coins, but it was deliberately half empty. Chien's eyes widened ever so slightly. Mal bit back a grin. The fish was on the line, “That will get you an introduction...ease your path.” Jasmine gave him a good handful of coins from the bag, “For your trouble.”


Vera gingerly picked herself up from the floor of the cage. There was some blood on her legs and her sides hurt. She was also aware of a black eye coming on and there was a distinct possibility one of her cheek bones was either cracked or broken. She licked her lips. Add a split lip into the mix. She was going to be a mass of bruises before long. But she was alive, which was a distinct plus. They led her back to the metal thing and she let herself be strapped in. She looked over to Jayne and saw that they were prodding him towards the cage. Time for act two. She suddenly noticed a chain had come partially loose inside the cage. She willed Jayne to notice it. * Jayne was scowling, but he was revved up. Didn't care who the ruttin' hell they put in with him, he was going to flatten them. Not just for himself, though they had a heap the size of Serenity due for that, he was going to give them hell for hurting Vera. And Jayne's ideas of hell could get very creative, even without a weapon in his hands. A new Sensei followed him in and he could tell almost immediately that this guy was better than the last one. He shrugged mentally, so he was bigger and tougher, they had to go one up. He put up his fists and kept pace with the other fella and waited, just like Vera had done. * The Sensei struck, quick and hard. Jayne dodged back. This guy was very good. He bided his time. A kick, which Jayne deflected, darting in to punch hard with his right. The Sensei swayed slightly. Then twisted and suddenly Jayne was under a flurry of quick, darting blows that seemed to come from nowhere. He pitched in, slower and harder in both punches and kicks. Got in a couple of wrestling holds that did some damage, but the Sensei seemed to know exactly how to break out of them, slippery like an eel. Jayne felt a bit like a bear being harried by a particularly feisty and vicious terrier. His fists were doing their job, though. That Sensei didn't like getting punch drunk one little bit. They broke free of each other, breathing heavily, bruises beginning to bloom. Jayne felt a hot trickle down his face and realised it was blood. His chest hurt again, probably yet another case of bruised ribs. Something flashed through the air above the cage, descending into it and the Sensei caught it. * “Hey!” Jayne protested, “That's a katana!” He looked above the Sensei's head and began to smile. Maybe, if he could just get over there.. The Sensei started swinging the katana, not easy in the cage. Jayne just dodged, then dived flat on the floor, propelling himself towards what he hoped would be salvation. He reached up, caught hold of the chain and tugged. To his delight, it broke free. He span it in figures of eight in front of him, “This is the ruttin' chain of command and I *am going to show you who's in charge here!” Vera grinned; that was her Jayne, rising to the challenge and being everything he needed to be and she loved him so much at that moment, it hurt. An early spin caught the katana and he yanked it free of the other guy's hand. Then he laid into the guy until he fell to the floor and was still. The Sensei was either unconscious or dead and Jayne wasn't about to nit-pick about the difference. He caught up the sword and cut himself out of that damned cage, chain in the other hand. Members of the audience were starting to edge away, seeing the blue murder written on Jayne's face. Jayne pushed the cage and it collapsed from the corner he'd weakened. Let the damned Sensei get out of *that. Jayne cut Vera free with the sword and handed her the chain, snatching a brief, hard kiss. * “You okay?” “You betcha!” She stood with him, back to back. “Okay,” Jayne said, projecting his voice, “Which ruttin' fay-fay duh pee-yun arranged for our little holiday here? 'Cause I'm a shiong-tsan sha-sho and so's my wife, dong ma?” Heng had the courage and decency to step forward, “I did.” Seeing the look on Jayne's face he held up his hand, “Before you take me apart, please listen and understand. You foiled the plans of my organisation to get hold of a huge ransom for Ping Han's baby, and have the family...well, indebted to us for life. We don't take kindly to that.” “Don't ruttin' take kindly to bein' tortured either, you hwoon dahn...” Heng snapped his fingers and about two dozen Sensei appeared all around them, “As I said, we don't take kindly to having our plans foiled. For being resilient and brave, your deaths will be swift.” Vera blanched, “Merciful Buddha.” Jayne touched her hand with his free one, “Love you, darlin'.” “Love you too.” “Shame we never got to have a proper reunion.” Jayne put his sword up in front of him. “When we arrive on the other side, I'm all yours for eternity.” “Hold ya to that.”

*** [I'm a bad puppy , but I have to end it at a dramatic point!]


Wednesday, July 12, 2006 10:49 AM


Bad! Bad Puppy! No dog biscuit for you! At least not until you write the next chapter.


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