Legacy 3:01, Independant's Day
Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eight months after the battle over Bernadette, the system has fallen into a cold war, with the Alliance teetering on the edge of collapse. Two captains now have to decide where they stand in this conflict, and how far they are willing to go.


It took a while, but I've started the third season of Legacy, and it might seem odd, but I'm starting this very deliberately. There's a lot of groundwork that needs to be lain, and this is all of it in a single swoop. It'll help when things get strange, trust me. This season is going to be a season of triangles. Two ships against the 'Verse, two captains against the Alliance, and one other, which I won't get into now, because it would ruin both the surprise and the dramatic effect. Trust me, though; however far I went with season two, expect three to go a great deal farther. I have to warn you all, this time my schedule is going to slow down my upgrades considerably, so be patient. When a new episode comes up, it'll be that much sweeter for having to wait for it, dohn mah? Serenity and company are property of Joss and his like. Sadly. Feedback: No man is an island, savvy?

Independent's Day

Jacob fell to his knees, panting in exhaustion which threatened to swoon him, leaving him directly in their paths. He didn't have a choice. He had to run. He had to keep running, or the Reavers would get him. With a feral growl, he forced himself first to a crawl, then to a staggering run. They had learned to be silent. The Eyes demanded they use stealth, now. Terror tactics only served when the enemy was willing to be afraid. With the Reavers actually on the retreat, if only for the moment, they had to learn a new way. The mud sucked at his boots as he struggled up the brutal incline, toward the long-ago-burned city. They'd burned it on their way through, and hadn't bothered doing squat with it afterwards, and didn't do a particularly thorough job of it when they hit Hera months ago. Serenity wasn't in their hands anymore. His legs, his eyes, and his lungs all burned with the effort of holding up the incredible pace for as long as he did. He'd run all the way from Legacy's corpse, at the far end of the valley. Reaver country. As soon as he'd crossed the surreptitious mounds of rubble, arranged seemingly at random but actually with calculation befitting the Wolf's progeny. Figures in grey fatigues swarmed around him as he fell to one knee. They shouted at him, guns pointed at his head. He couldn't figure out what they'd said. His ears were roaring, drowning out everything else. They shouted, and he felt himself dragged to his feet. A rifle was pressed to his forehead. There, she was close. He could feel her. A hand seemed to appear out of nowhere, forcing the weapon aside. The Coalition soldier took one look at the hand's owner, and shrinked back in alarm, then snapped a salute. Sylvia answered with harsh words of her own. "Have you lost your mind?" she demanded, her voice clear in his head, if not his ears. The soldier's response was lost, but he could feel her irritation building. "Only the women look normal, and not even all of them. Does he look like a Faceless Man to you?" This was a dream. He knew that the instant his feet began to churn in the mud. It didn't change one jot of this though. "We have nearly a billion Reavers out there killing and raping," she continued. "We don't need to add to their body count, do we? Do we, sergeant?" "...caution than let them through," the soldier replied, audible finally as the roar died in Jacob's hearing. "I have orders from the Sorceror himself." "Well, mine come from River," Sylvia responded, turning back to Jacob. The instant their eyes locked, he was rocked by an image, of how she saw him here. His scar had faded, and his face was overtaken with a scruffy beard, which, along with his hair, was heavily shot through with grey. In all, he looked decades older, despite the fact that she looked pretty much the same as she would... awake... He shook his head, as did she. He took a step toward her, and she favored him with a fist applied powerfully into his jaw. He fell back to the ground, staring up at her in mirrored confusion. She loomed over him, then leaned down a bit. "What the hell were you thinking?" "Captain goes down with his ship?" Jacob's voice was oddly flat and monotone. Sylvia scowled, but he could feel a wave of relief wafting off of her. "This isn't the ancient sea, Jacob," she said tersely. "You should have..." "What?" he demanded, in the same, flat voice. "Let them come after you? Or Fi and the little one? I had to draw them off. You know that." Her eyes seemed to be a bit damp as she grasped his collar and pulled him up. "You shouldn't do that to me," she said, pulling him into a bearhug. She let out one sobbing breath, then mastered herself. She helped him to his feet. Jacob took a moment to dust himself off, then was unceremoniously dragged behind the blond braided telepath as she moved into the heart of the city. Grey uniforms mixed with white and brown. The Coalition, in its fullest. Alliance, Confederates and Templars, all working together. And all it took for them to set aside their differences was the end of the ruttin' universe. Their path took them directly to a tent set up to stretch over a roofless, two walled building. Sylvia leaned down as soon as she entered the rather dark interior, trying to press her hands to the dark haired figure lying on a narrow cot. "Give over, she don't need it none," Jayne snarled from River's side. Syl smirked as she leaned back. River was even more pale than usual, and pressed a hand to her distended belly. Her other hand was firmly enveloped by Jayne's. "Did it work?" Jacob asked, not bothering to mince words. Jayne scowled. Well, he scowled a bit more. He looked down on River, and realized how pointless the question was. "No," Sylvia answered. "They saw right through it. They might be viscious bastards, but they ain't any kind of stupid." Jacob's eyes turned back out to the gathered soldiery. "Then it was all for nothing," he stated. "Where do we go now?" A clank of metal on stone announced Fredesa's arrival. The crude synthetic leg he'd gotten marked him as much as the brutal scars across his face. "We go back," he said, his dark eyes never seeming to pause in their scrutiny. He patted his hand against young Hoban's head as his attention settled on Jacob for a moment. "The far-side worlds are still free, for the time being. Let them chew on the Core for a while." "How?" Jacob demanded, voice finally reaching free of its flatness. "My ship is in about five pieces on the other side of the Reaver line," he paused, listening to the sounds of gunfire coming from the west. Coming from the valley. "And unless you got a way of makin' shuttles worthy of intrasystem travel, I'd say..." "Kaylee's got Serenity back in the air," Fredesa interrupted, his voice cool and calm, if a bit clipped. "We haven't heard from the Captain, though... we're assuming the worst." "Did he make it to..." Jayne asked. "We don't know," Fredesa responded. "It'll be a tight fit, but we can fit all the civvies onto Serenity and get the hell out of here." "And just leave the soldiers to die behind us?" Sylvia demanded. "They knew the risks," Fredesa said, voice dropping from cool to glacial, "we all did. This was a poor gamble at best, and it turned out to be a failed one. We go back. Way we're holding out, it might take them a year to reach Londinum, and by then we'll be long the hell away." Jacob sighed again, staring up into the afternoon sky. "Does it always have to be this way?" he asked quietly. Syl turned to him, questioning. "We settle a spell in a place, then destroy it and have to find a new one? Just to settle and destroy it too? God, it's like we're just a gorram plague," Jayne muttered something under his breath, and River frowned sadly. "Maybe we should just stay," Jacob said. "All of us. Just let it end here. Let them rid the 'Verse of our corruptin' influence once and for all." Syl's eyes softened. "You don't mean that." "Why not?" "You got Raina an' the other 'uns on Serenity?" Jayne asked, trying to help River to her feet. Fredesa smirked. Or at least tried to smirk. With a face as cut on as that, most facial expressions needed a bit of imagination to sort out. "All of them," he replied. "Even Jacob's tyke." "You see?" Syl said quietly. "There is something to live for." Jacob stared down at her. "Are you sure? How could you be sure of anything, anymore?" She put her hands on his ears, holding him steady as she pressed her lips to his in a long, desperate, passionate kiss. When she parted, she gave a damp eyed smile. "This I know; I'm sure of this." <> Conciousness slammed back into Jacob's mind like a pry-bar into a block of cheese. He glanced around, trying to reconcile that last wisp of feeling he'd gotten to where he was. He was in his room. On Legacy. He was home. He glanced down at the weight pressing down on his chest. Anne was beautiful, even in the partial light of the late night. Her bare skin glowed, with the thousands of beads of perspiration almost making her sparkle. Just seeing her made him grin like a loony. She wasn't stretched out on his chest, like she used to do. Mainly because it would have been anatomically impossible, at this juncture. Her bulging belly forced her to lie on her side, curled like the baby growing ever larger inside her. She'd also gained about an extra third of her original mass, so she was kinda uncomfortable. But he couldn't... wouldn't... move her. Ever since Shadow, she'd slept like an angel. No clinging. Just... rest. Jacob didn't feel particularly angelic, at the moment, though. He felt damn confused, and for some reason, uncomfortable bein' naked, even if it was with his wife. He carefully slid her off of his scar-torn chest and let her turn over, cocooning herself in blankets. He went about finding a pair of pants to slide on. The dream. She'd had it again. Similar, but different every time. It wasn't the first time he'd been shanghaied into her unconscious, and he'd learned the feel of it. What he didn't get was why the dream kept coming. And if it was just a nightmare... or something more. He didn't want to think on that. He buttoned up his fly and ascended the ladder. He had some thinking to do, and the subject would best be thought over in a place elsewhere. Pulling the door shut, he turned to the stairs. The descent brought him down into the only other part of the ship which hadn't been torn out and replaced, and he threw himself onto the couch. The couch lurched to the side, and he heard a strangled yelp, and turned his attention back to the corner. He scowled as Sylvia pulled herself out of the corner, rubbing her contused shoulder. She gave him an unreadable look, coupled with an unreadable flux of emotions through the link between them. Then, she plopped herself down on the far end of the sofa, staring through the cieling. "Rough night?" Jacob asked quietly. It seemed to scream in the darkened common. Jacob cast a quick glance to the passenger dorms, where his nephew was asleep. Wouldn't do to rouse the crew this early. Syl ran her fingers through her long hair, gathering it back, then letting it fall again with a sigh. "You saw it too," she said. It wasn't a question. She pursed her lips, still staring into the void. Jacob nodded, even though he knew she wasn't watching. "It's evolving." Jacob leaned back with a confused scowl. "Jeh shr shuh muh?" "You remember the last time?" she waited just long enough for him to nod, which she didn't watch for, before continuing. "How many Faceless Men were there?" Jacob prepared to say 'how the hell should I know?', but what came out was: "A couple dozen." "And last time?" "Hundreds..." Jacob muttered. "What happened?" Her head swung down, and her eyes, practically black in the darkness, leveled on his. "Heian Difeng." Jacob pondered for a moment, then nodded toward the stairs. She shrugged, and rose, following him back up into the kitchen. The kitchen had to be more or less replaced in its entirety. A new table sat in the middle, still smooth and relatively unmarred from only eight months of use. Where the nook once resided, now there was a closed off room, and the kitchen had been upgraded substantially. Hell, Zane was pulling off gourmet, much to Anne's delight. Jacob reached into the cubby holes, which were identical to the old, but replaced when the old ones got an unpleasant and unreasonable bend in them, and grabbed himself a bottle of something extremely potently alcoholic. He tossed the bottle to Syl, who caught it with only half a glance and sprawled herself into her seat at the far end of the room. Jacob turned the rearmost chair around and faced her. "There were seventy odd telepaths of considerable power being housed in Heian Difeng," Sylvia said flatly. "More'n a few of them are monkeyshit loco. Last dream, we hadn't found them, so the Reavers did. We denied them an asset, and we benefitted from it. And the dream changed. We weren't on Bernadette anymore." "We were on Hera," Jacob said, taking an offered slug of sake-like fluid. "What does that mean?" "It means we weren't gettin' beat as bad as we were last time," she offered, accepting the bottle back. "Means we can change things for the better." "But we still lost." "Not as badly, though," she countered. "It's a puzzle, Jacob. Only we haven't seen all the pieces yet, and we don't know what the end is going to look like." "Or even that we're going to want what the final result ends up as," Jacob finished for her. She shrugged. "So how do we... y'know... go forward on this?" "One day at a time," the telepath responded. "There's no way to tell what will cause the dream to come back, and what'll change when it comes. So, we just do what needs to be done." She rose, making her way around the table. Jacob caught her arm. "What about that last part? Right at the end?" he asked quietly. Sylvia was silent, staring at him with those unseeable eyes, confusion and pain flowing off of her. She pulled her arm free and strode away, leaving him alone with his confused thoughts. <> "These men aren't fighters!" All of the volunteers fidgeted as the large man with the chest covered in metals strode up and down the lines. All of them but two. One of them was smirking somewhat, safe in the obscurity of the back rank. He stifled a yawn, which drew a curious glance from the other one which hadn't fidgeted. She was a dark skinned woman, about his age, with a body and face that would have had him chompin' at the bit weren't he at something of an important juncture in his life. The Alliance had declared war. He wasn't about to stand for that. "You," the squat Colonel said, pointing at a man in the back rank, thankfully neither of the two. "You wouldn't last a day on the field. You wouldn't last an hour. Everybody here, take a look to your left, and a look to your left. Of the three of you, I reckon ain't one of you is going to survive out your first week." "Not exactly motivational..." the smirking man muttered, which drew an unreadable expression from the dark woman next to him. The rain pounding down, churning the fertile soil of Shadow into thick, squelching mud was chilling and unpleasant, and set most of the other volunteers to shivers. All but two, in point of fact. "You!" the Colonel pointed out a man in the front. "What's your name, maggot?" "Jerry," the man replied. "I don't give a cow's cake what your name is, kid," the Colonel began, when his aide, a slender, effeminate man leaned in and whispered something. "Baker. Why did you show your hide here, Baker?" Baker glanced around, then swallowed. "I-I had to... you know... I had to serve... my... ah..." "What was that? I didn't hear you," Colonel Orbin shouted under his gigantic moustache. The smirker in the back row shook his head. "This is ridiculous," his mutter was swollowed by the rain before it even reached the front row, let alone the blustering brass beyond. The woman smirked for just an instant before she straightened iron-rod straight. "What about you?" Orbin demanded. "Alleyne, sir," the woman barked in response. "Zoe Alleyne. I missed the recruiting drives when they hit Jiangyin last year, and haven't made planetfall in the last four months. This seemed like the best place to come. I've heard that Shadow raises the best, sir." Orbin smirked a bit. "You... you might just be the only one of this batch might survive boot," Orbin forced his way through the ranks, which obligingly opened up around him, leaving the rotund man standing directly before the two of them. Zoe gave another of those complex expressions and took a step away, since Orbin's attention obviously wasn't on her. "And what about you, maggot. Don't think I didn't notice you. What's your name?" A lightning quick smile lit upon his lips as his fingers curled around the Bible in his pocket. "Reynolds," he replied. "The name's Malcolm Reynolds." The time snapped back like a rubber band, smacking Malcolm in the face as he stared out on the blasted surface of his homeworld. He'd stood in this very spot, nearly a decade past, when the War was going on. Only a few months later, the Alliance had Glassed the planet. Although, it seemed, not very well. He bent down, running his fingers through the thick, dark dirt, lifting it up and letting the wind carry it away in its insistent grasp. He once could have stood here and seen dozens of farms and ranches, stretching off toward the horizon and up the hills. Now, the only thing which covered Shadow were the very toughest of lichens and mosses. He glanced over his shoulder, at what once was Canterberry city, the capital. It was again, he pondered, although a damn poor shade of its former glory. Anemic stands of trees, tough as the land they had been dropped onto, were already spreading out in rings as they were systematically culled and planted elsewhere to hold the atmosphere where it was, let alone the soil. There was a lot of hustle and bustle. But it was the hustle of a military base, not a city. Malcolm felt something cool pull the soil out of his hand, and he jerked away with a start. River stared at him, her dark eyes seeing things he knew he couldn't possibly comprehend. He looked around for Jayne, knowing where the little one went, the big one was never too far away. Still, the once-mercenary was nowhere to be seen. "It survives," River said, rolling a small ball of dirt between her pale fingers. "Burn the land and boil the seas and still it survives..." "Some things just... do, I guess," Malcolm said, wiping his hands off on his pants as he got to his feet. River just stared at him, with that look she had fairly often of late. Like she had a thousand things to say, and wasn't sure in the slightest on how to say 'em. "We survived," the telepath whispered. Her stare dropped back to the soil, where she carefully flattened her ball of earth back whence it had come. She stood back up, facing him again. "We... survived." "More or less, little albatross," Mal muttered. "More or less." How many names had he added to that list? His ma, and all them what took it to be his fathers. His friends. More comrades in arms than he cared to list. Everybody he knew on Shadow who hadn't gotten off. The Shepherd. Wash. Heat pressed against his stomach as he heard his knuckles crack. He turned away, headed back toward the center of this so-called town. There wasn't any more point to putting this off. He had to do this now, 'fore he got all chicken-shit and turned tail. He needed to know he could do this. He took a path which brought her into view. Everytime he saw her, she filled him with the strength to carry on. If only he could tell her how much she meant to him... He guessed she already knew. Serenity was smart like that. She looked distinctly out of place amongst the infinitely more lethal craft around her. Story of his life. He wasn't too surprised when Zoe appeared at his side, not far away from the ship. "Sir?" she asked, concise as always. Mal nodded, and she matched him step for step. She didn't ask the question, but he felt he needed to answer. "I'm givin' them my answer," he said. Zoe rolled her eyes, giving the I-know-this-will-end-badly look, but keeping her peace. Heian Difeng's main building loomed before them, and the men at the door opened it immediately, recognizing Malcolm. For some reason, that didn't set too well. The man at the front desk pointed them to an open elevator. Zoe arched an eyebrow, with her patented I-told-you-so look. Mal quickly summoned up the best suit of captainy dignity he could summon, then entered the elevator. "Sir, I don't like the way this is shaping up," Zoe said simply. "You and me both," Reynolds replied. "What are you going to tell them?" she asked. There. Finally, somebody bothered to ask. Mal gritted his teeth and set his jaw. "The truth." Zoe shook her head slightly, and didn't utter a single other word as the lift descended miles beneath the earth. When the doors opened, Malcolm saw a very familiar face. General McDonald Burgg wasn't a large man, nor overtly impressive in any real way. His face was lined with worry and age, and his hair was shot through with grey. Malcolm had heard stories, though, about how the man's wiry form could suprise folk, amongst other tales of this particular fellow. Burgg stood from his seat on the edge of the reception desk and took a step toward Malcolm. "Sergeant Reynolds," he said. "Or is it Captain now? I must admit, I'm somewhat surpised that you would come to see me in per..." Burgg was suddenly interrupted by Malcolm punching him very, very hard. <> Monday let out a long sigh as the sky overhead let out a long ripping peal, and the swirling clouds began to drop their grim load. The rain was hot against her flesh, here in the dead of summer near the equator of Boros, but she just shook her head and trudged through it. She'd given up on worrying about trifling things like a bit of rain more than half a year ago when she had to brave the blasting storms of Shadow with more than a few broken ribs. This was nothing. The rain plastered her long black hair to her back, and no doubt made her clothing cling to her flesh, but she would not be put off. She made a promise, and she intended to keep it, come hell or... appearantly... high water. The streets erupted into a low canopy of umbrellas, as everybody except for her seemed to have come prepared. She grumbled at the unfairness the 'Verse was leveling against her, and she continued down the road. "Support the Independance!" a crier barked from the stone bench on the side of the walkway. He shook soaked pamphlets as he extolled, but most simply looked at him balefully. Boros might be a Border World, but it was firmly under Alliance control. She gave him a flat look as she passed. A year ago, and she'd have been as baleful as the rest of them. Now... "Zou zai yin jing!" a man in the crowd shouted as she moved away. Politically, Boros was a pipe-bomb with about an eighth-of-an-inch of fuse left, and the streets were beginning to reflect that more than she wanted to admit. She tried to ignore the outcry of voices around her as she plunged through the crowd. She was almost there. So close. The rain was deflected by the awning as she peeled off her wholely insufficient coat and let it hang over the edge of the chair, which she lowered herself into. "You know, I really thought you weren't going to show up," Alex said, smiling over a cup of coffee. Of course he'd be smug sitting there dry while she was soaking wet like some... she curtailed the thought. It wouldn't do her any good to be like that, now. She'd seen too much to think like that anymore. Done too much. "I made a promise," Monday said simply, picking up the large mug of tea and breathing deep the scent of it. With a small, but genuine smile, she began to partake. "Although, I must say I'm a bit confused as to why you wanted me to be here?" "What?" Lex laughed. "Can't I have a cup of tea with a friend on a fine day for no good reason?" She raised a damp eyebrow at that. "Have you looked more than four feet away from you for the last five minutes? It's a deluge?" "Any day with you around is as fine a day as I can see," he joked. At least, she hoped he was joking. Sometimes, when he talked to her, there were things he said that made her very uncomfortable. He never did anything but talk and drink his coffee, but still... There were times that she would look into his eyes, and see that he had a thousand things he wanted to tell her, but couldn't divulge a single one. And she wanted to know. "What do you think of the criers?" Lex suddenly asked, fixing her with those intense hazel eyes. For just an instant, she felt like she'd been stripped naked and examined in every inch and measure, but that feeling quickly passed. Lex was harmless. A philosopher and thinker; in other words, a time-waster and leach on society, although she'd ever said so in as many words. Which was an odd thing in itself. "I'm not sure. It's not a very wise decision, preaching for the Independant cause on Boros," she said with great politic. Lex smirked. "Is that all?" he asked. She knew he was goading her into showing her hand. It was a dance the two of them had performed many times in the last four months. She stifled the smile of her own behind an intake of cooling tea. "It is unwise... at first glance. Allowing your enemy to think you are inept is a poor gambit, because it raises the morale of the enemy's forces while lowering your own. Moreover, it can lead to the enemy attacking before you are prepared." "Indeed it can," Lex nodded his agreement. "But, this can cut both ways," she continued. "An enemy attacking too soon can leave it open to a great many avenues of counterattack and bedlam. And, you will be dictating the terms by which your enemy can attack you, which is equally damning. By sending out these criers, the Independants are goading the Alliance to attack, which is a decent strategy, because there is no Independant target for the Alliance to strike back at." "What about Heian Difeng?" Lex asked quietly, so quietly it wouldn't even reach the wall of blood-warm rain falling not too far away. She stared at him. "You thought I wouldn't have heard about that by now? And here I thought I was warrenting somewhat higher than that in your eyes." "That... place... might be a valid target, if the Alliance were willing to disclose it fully to its citizenry. You recall what happened when the Miranda Wave hit? How not everybody even believed it? Shadow, although much closer in the minds of the people since it was impossible to bury, is still a 'Border Problem', and most people in the Core wouldn't give credence to anything which wasn't shoved up their god damned noses..." she reigned herself in, if a moment too late. She was starting to pick up bad habits from her sister, which was all the more improbable considering that Friday was god only knows where, and she hadn't seen her for five months. "Exactly, my dear," Lex chuckled. For some reason, that laugh made her feel a bit odd. Bubbly, almost. "There are a few things that a politician can count on of his people, and overwhelming stupidity is one of them. However smart the individual is, the mob will always be panicky and stupid, willing to believe whatever crazy niao se those in power tell them to believe." She frowned for a moment. "What are you trying to say?" He smiled, tipping the last of his coffee down his throat. "What I'm saying," he reiterated, "is that understanding why people act the way they do is the most important thing a man, or woman, I suppose, could learn." "I am not exactly in the business of politicking," she intoned. "Oh, but you are," he replied. "And of the most cunning players." She didn't quite understand what that meant, and finished her tea as she pondered. "Same time tomorrow?" she asked. Lex shook his head a moment, running a hand through the light brown locks. "No, tomorrow's impossible for me. Sunday, though. Sunday would work perfectly." She smiled, despite not really seeing the need to, as she rose. She pulled her coat off the chair, and made as if to head back into the deluge, but Lex stalled her with a call. A dark shape leapt to her hand, and he motioned her to use it. An umbrella. She stared at him for a moment, but he had a truly unreadable expression, and she turned away. She didn't know what was going on around Lex. Her walk back through the streets was equally crowded, but mercifully dry, with something to guard her from the rain. Her thoughts whirled around her as she reached her home, an apartment in a fairly modest building. It was a fairly long step away from what she would have picked only a year ago, but ever since she lived on Legacy, even this felt a bit big for her. She unlocked her door by rote, letting the door swing open as she closed the umbrella and threw it into the corner. She took one step into the room, and jerked back, picking a cobweb off of her face. Her blood went cold. Despite everything, a last vestige of her life-long paranoia had driven her to buy a new-tech invasion alarm. It looked like a common household spider, and if a door was opened while it was active, it started spinning a web directly beyond it at face level. Someone had been in here. She looked around her living room, her kitchen, her bedroom, and even her bathroom. Nothing. Nothing out of place, nothing taken. Nothing touched, as far as she could tell. But someone was here. And that had her worried. <> "If you want my professional advice, I don't like this place," Sylvia said as she pulled out a chair and threw herself into it. Jacob scowled at her, not quite catching how she'd come to such a sudden and starkly disapproving opinion of this place only moments after coming in. The place was a fei-wu hole, but it was just like a thousand other fei-wu holes scattered along the Rim. "What makes you say that?" Jacob asked as he helped Anne, who was now having difficulty keeping up with all of the taller members of the crew, both because she was that much shorter and because she had a bulging belly hanging in her way. "The last time we were here, you got drugged, stripped naked, and in the course of you grabbin' your stuff, you lost three teeth," Jacob's wife helpfully answered, with a pixie grin to soften its edge. She was smiling more now than at any time he'd known her in his life, and that alone made him feel safe, secure, and damn near invincible. Jacob looked around. "That was here?" he asked. He glared at the bar, and at the place he'd clubbed a pissant drunk almost three years ago... Actually, it was exactly three years ago, now that he thought about it. Well, wasn't that just something? "Sure was, boss," Zane said, skirting around, his blue eyes coldly turning several inquiring gazes back down into their drinks. Of all the changes that Legacy had seen in the last eight months, only one of them set Jacob on edge, and that one was Zane. The mechanic pulled out a chair, dropping himself down into it, but his icy eyes continued to scour the bar for any sign of aggression. Not too long ago, Zane would already have been half drunk and making an hi-larious if off color joke about somebody's questionable paternity, but since Shadow, the boy practically swore off liquor in its entirety. And that was only the shallowest of changes which had crept through the young man's brain. Jacob was almost worried that one day, he'd wake up, and he'd see a pair of cold blue eyes staring down at him, and then see a glint of steel. And even if that didn't happen, it still felt like somebody had put out the warmth which comprised the young man's soul. Now it was... well, not exactly cold, but... Jacob helped Anne down. Normally, she'd never have let herself be so helped, but she'd practically gained an extra third of herself in the last few months, and had to admit that she wasn't as nimble as usual. In some ways she was, he smiled inwardly, but mobility was becoming an issue for Legacy's pilot. She pulled her black, shoulder length hair over her ear. He'd never seen her with long hair, but she'd said she'd be growing it out, and that she did. It was... different. There was way too much that was different right now. He wanted something to stay the same. But he knew, from the size of Anne's belly, that things would soon enough never be the same. In his mind, he counted the days until his child made an appearance. He could count them on one hand. Easily. Jacob nodded to Casher as the giant made his own entrance. It was returned, and the massive man took a seat nearby. Jacob didn't need to see to know that Friday, Legacy's doctor, would be practically glued to Casher's side. The two of them were acting like teenagers, which was by times entertaining and irritating, but right now, Jacob just hoped that the goliath was keeping his wits about him. "Where is he? Didn't he say he'd be here?" Zane muttered, light eyes seeming to spark as they took in the fellows around the room. "Didn't who?" A gravely voice seemed to appear from not too far away from Zane. The mechanic started as his blue eyed gaze connected with a golden-eyed one. Jacob felt himself leaning back a bit himself, but few who looked Logan Kell in the eye didn't. The man was damn frightening sometimes. Kell spun a chair away from the next table, and sat backward in it, resting his chin, and its long, iron-grey beard, on the chair's back. "Kell," Jacob said, raising an empty glass to him. Kell's intense glare moved to Jacob, then back to the rest of the people at the table. "You have another job for us, I take it. I just find it a mite odd that you'd deliver it in pers..." "Bi zwei," Kell snipped. "I ain't here to give you another milk run. Truth is, there ain't any more to be had." "Oh, well..." Jacob began, but was again cut off by Kell. "I'm here 'cause you've proven yourself loyal to the cause in a way ain't many others have. I figure you can do some moving for us?" Frowning, Anne leaned back. "I don't think I like where this is going, Logan." Kell favored the pregnant woman with an almost paternal grin. The two of them knew each other longest of all those at the table, an even Anne hadn't told all of how far back their relationship went. "It's nothing to worry about, I think," Kell assuaged. "You're just going to pick up my son on Santo and take him to that big shindig the brass got planned on Hera. Simple." "Hey, shattap!" a coarse bellow interrupted the conversation. Kell's face hardened, but he didn't turn to face the bar, with the pontificating bald man holding high a drink. "This here's an auspicious day!" "Oh, god, not him again," Sylvia scowled. "Not who?" Jacob asked. "Lund," both the telepath and the mechanic answered in unison. Jacob looked between the two of them. Then, he got a simply wicked idea, and felt a grin spread across his features. "...the smart thing an' jus' killed 'em off of all the worlds spinnin'. Still, this here's a day of celebratin' the creation of a single nation, strong and unbowed." "Hey, Lund!" Jacob shouted, kicking his chair away, and shooting to his feet, his long brown duster hanging behind him. He could feel Sylvia chuckling inwardly as she did almost the exact same maneuver a split second later. Casher rose from his own chair, coatless but intimidating in terms of sheer size. Lund's face went red all the way up to his crown, and his hand pawed at a revolver resting at his hip. That was when the other Browncoats began to rise, filling the bar with dark leather and grim scowls. Still Lund, despite being all by his onesy didn't look too intimidated. Until, that is, when Kell stood, turning to face the drunken blowhard. The instant Kell's golden eyes locked on Lund's, the fight went right the hell out of the ugly, bald man. Jacob could even see the blowhard's knees rattling. Kell grinned, a feral, lupine grin as he took two long, loping steps toward Lund. He stood damn near nose-to-nose with him, that grin still plain on is long bearded face. "If you know what's good for you, birk, you'll walk out now before I eat you," Kell growled. Lund damn near pissed himself trying to get out of the bar as of yestarday. Kell let out a single, barking laugh when the door hit his ass on the way out, and turned back to Jacob. His expression became one of utter gravity. "We know what you're ship is capable of," he said, retaking his seat. "Hell, we're the ones what rebuilt it. All I'm asking is that you consider this. Y'ain't part of this, less'n you want to be." Jacob gave a glance to Anne, who shrugged. He smiled, and offered his hand to the grizzled man, but Kell just leaned back with a smirk. "Good t'know I could count on you, boy," he said. He cast his intense gaze to Anne. "You keep training him right, an' I just might let you keep him." Jacob cast a confused glance to his wife, who was grinning at Kell like a daughter to a proud father. He shook his head, offering her a hand to get back up. "When do we leave?" Jacob asked Kell. Kell turned one golden eye up to him. "Today. Hell, right now would do you some good. The Confederation Conference is in just over two days, and about damn time, too. So you better haul all manner of ass, and get to the hauling all manner of soon, dohn luh mah?" "I hear you," Jacob acknowledged, and the occupants of the table all began to rise. Kell nodded, but Jacob turned his attention to Zane. "Getting anything for the road, kid?" Zane responded by giving Jacob a very, very dry, level look, not speaking a word nor moving an inch. Finally, the expression, which had edged well into calculation by the time it was done, ended, and Zane simply pushed past the crowds of brown coated men and out the door. "So, we're actually going to do this?" Anne asked as they passed through the door, and had to pull up the scarf she was using as a dust veil up over her nose. "Are we going to fight his war?" "We aren't fighting his war," Jacob said. "But we have to support the right side." "Alliance might have lost the technological edge, but they still got about three times the population the Border does to draw from, and..." She was interrupted when Jacob pulled her into a short, wind-blown embrace. He felt her arms snaking around his chest. "We're going to get through this, love," Jacob whispered into the wind. "I swear it." <> "Yeah," Mal said, luxuriating in the cell they'd dumped him into, "that went well." "I thought it would have been obvious, sir," Zoe commented. "What, that they'd overreact?" "Overreact?" Zoe asked. "You punched a five star general in the face." "He deserved it," Malcolm said, sounding a bit too petulant even for his own liking. Zoe opened her mouth with a raised brow, doubtless preparing to launch some well deserved barb, so he cut her off. "Not a word, Zoe," he snapped, trying to muster up his shards of captain-y dignity. "I ain't in a mood for..." "...sitting in a prison cell?" she finished for him. He never could put anything past her. It was probably why she was standing on the far side of the bars. Her wide, smug smile was really starting to damage his calm. "It wasn't exactly the smartest thing you've done in your life, and I've seen a lot of not-wise things come out of you. I seem to recall you sitting alone, naked, on a rock in the desert." "That was all part of the plan," Reynolds posited. Zoe let out a quiet chuckle. "Yes, a wonderful plan that depended entirely on Inara coming to the rescue. Brilliant. I couldn't have done better myself, sir." "You've been spending entirely too much time around Dell," Mal groused. Zoe smiled for a moment, and took a step back as the door at the far end of the room swung open. She glanced over her shoulder, then assumed an almost military stance, facing the new comer who entered from the blinding glare behind him. Burgg rubbed his bruised jaw tenderly as he approached, glaring at Malcolm as he came up to the electrified and magnetically locked bars. The folk what made this place took absolutely no chances when it came to containing prisoners. He looked Malcolm up and down, not seeming too impressed at this particular moment. "There's something which has been bugging me for a while, now." "And what would that be?" Mal asked sardonically. Burgg scowled for all he was worth, then flicked his head toward the cell. A man who looked so much like Burgg that it could only be his son moved to the bars, opening them and standing back. Mal stared Burgg's supposed get in the eye. Yup. Had to be a son. "Besides the fact that you punched me... why are you staring at Gannon? No, not that... Actually, yes the question nagging on my mind was indeed why you felt the need to rearrange my face in lieu of a greeting," Burgg said, running a hand through greasy white hair. It was a trait shared with Gannon, except the younger Burgg's hair was black and greasy. Mal smiled at Burgg, and adopted his most insulant pose. The one he'd mostly used when he was bugging Inara, now that he thought back. His smirk soured for a moment before he could shore it up. How could things have gone so wrong? "Maybe I didn't like the way your cheek was lookin' at me, so I felt an overwhelmin' urge to hit it." "Seriously, mister Reynolds." Mal's expression darkened as though a thunderhead sweapt in over the sun. "Too hot? Lay down arms? We outnumbered their 'Angels' three to one, and we had Logan Kell, the gorramn, ruttin' Wolf at their fore, and it was too hot for some gorram fire support?!" Burgg didn't flinch as Mal's voice grew into a roar. He calmly answered, "The situation..." "My muscular buttocks, the situation," Mal barked, taking a step toward his far-superior former officer. He was going to have to thank Jayne for that disturbing mental image, because it stopped Burgg flat. "You cut, and run, and you left five thousand of us in that valley to rot while you sat in comfort, discussin' who was going to foot the tab to pick up our corpses." "There were only two thousand," Burgg retorted, and Gannon chuckled. Zoe, her dark face taking on an aspect of the Devil itself, stepped to Malcolm's side. "When the Med-evac came, there were only two thousand left. We held that pass for two weeks after you called quits, no food, no medics, and not so much as a lick of hope," she said, her voice as flat, as cold, and dangerous as it had ever been in that four year stretch he'd served with her in the 57th. "The 'lliance killed a fair share of us, but you did something worse, General. You murdered the survivors." "I did what was prudent to the situation," Burgg countered. His glare moved back to Mal. "I need an answer out of you, Reynolds. Are you with us, or are you with them?" Malcolm's jaw clenched so hard he felt like he was about to split a tooth. "Neither. I go my own way." "Are you sure about this, son?" Burgg asked. "It won't be so easy to get on the train once it's started moving." "This isn't my war, Burgg." Burgg grumbled something that Mal couldn't quite catch, then turned to Zoe. "Regardless, I'd appreciate your return. I've heard some impressive things about you, private Alleyne." If Zoe's face could have gotten flatter, he could have ironed his shirt on it. "Washburne. And as Reynolds goes, so goes my nation." Burgg glared between the two of them, then waved dismissively. "So be it. Get them the hell out of my base." Mal was bodily thrown into the elevator, a feat not repeated with Zoe simply because even the thickest headed of the toughs knew that attempting such would be an excersize in masochism. The ride up was as silent as most of the ride down for a damn long while. Finally, it was Zoe who spoke up. "Not that I disagree with your decision, sir," she said quietly. "But I have to know. After what really happened to Shadow, I was fairly sure you'd join back up in a heartbeat." His nostrils flared as he pondered. Then, the answer seemed to crawl up from the primordial ooze of his bubbling thoughts and emotions. "Back then... I would have. Before I found Serenity, I would have joined back up. When I volunteered, it was because I had a lot more to gain from fighting in that war than I had to lose. Now, that ain' t the case. I got way too damn much to lose to go larkin' off to war." Zoe smiled then, a small, private smile. "I know what you mean, sir. And, for what it's worth, I agree with you." After a little while, the doors opened, showing the blasted landscape, the ships congregated around Heian Difeng, and somewhere at the other end, Serenity. And a mighty pissed lookin' woman approaching from said direction. Zoe rolled her eyes with a smirk and took her leave before Inara closed the distance, probably 'cause she knew enough to get out of any potential crossfire with a sense lacking in anybody with a 'Y' chromosome. "Well, you're looking chipper as always?" Mal said through his eternal smirk. It helped that he saw the slap coming, so was able to move with it and still produce the resounding crack he figured she was lookin' for. "Just when I think you've given up your selfish, ill-advised ventures, you have to go and do something like this. The entire crew was worried sick, you realise? The word from the complex is that you were thrown into a cell for... What are you staring at?" she trailed off. "Oh, it's just you get so pretty when your angry," he said, only half joking. She scowled, but blushed, giving her away. He could remember a time where there wasn't ever anything which gave her away. "I'm not impressed with you. And now, we're no doubt going to be sent on some brain-dead misadventure because your overweening pride pulled you back into a conflict you have no business being a part of," she spat so quickly that Mal couldn't get a word in edgwise. "Well, I'm not going down with you this time, Mal. If you want to fight this war, then fine, but don't take me and Gina, let alone the rest of the crew, down with you." "Inara..." "I don't even know why I'm bothering with this. You've already made up your mind, haven't you?" For a moment, Mal was startled by the sudden silence. "Yes, I have," he said. She crossed her arms under her breasts, which would have given him a wonderful view had his gaze been anywhere else but on her eyes. "Fine then. As soon as we reach another planet, I'll take Regina and..." "I'm not joining them," Mal said quietly. It must have taken a moment to register, because she continued talking for about two seconds before she seemed to realize what he said. "You're not?" she asked, sounding all manner of baffled. "No. The last war was my war. This one ain't," he said, skirting around her and heading back to his ship. "It's just as simple as that." She stood there, in the churned earth and mud, watching as his brown coat faded into the crowds of ships. "God damn you, Malcolm Reynolds," she whispered, if only to herself. "Why can't things ever be simple with you?" <> He rubbed his eyes, feeling the fatigue he'd done his best to ignore for the last few hours. When he opened them, he still saw the dozens of files that he had to sort through, delegate, and do all manner of other unpleasant, time-consuming tasks before he could have a moment to himself. His shockingly blue eyes were caught on one file. Sylvia. Even now he could remember her. She would be so, so very powerful, if only they'd gotten her. He himself thought she would become more powerful even than River Tam, even if the Coordinator said otherwise. And there was something else about her. She was fairly attractive, in her genuine, unfettered way. And he was partial to blondes. "You are still obsessed with her, aren't you?" came that voice he knew almost as well as his own. Agent Blue jerked to his feet, spinning to face the Coordinator, who stood in the far corner of the room. Had Blue been anyone else, he would have wondered how the ancient man could have made it into his locked room without making a single sound or releasing a single psychic ripple. Blue knew better, though. The Coordinator took a long, powerful step toward the computer, leaning down slightly. Despite his unbelievable age, the Coordinator's body, sheathed in the blue synthetics of the Guard, still rippled of ample and well toned muscle. Blue unconsciously took a step back when the elder's night-black eyes met his. "It is becoming somewhat unhealthy," the Coordinator muttered. His mouth didn't move, but the words still reverberated in Blue's mind. "The task of finding the potentials that were released from Heian Difeng is a daunting task. I know that I am not capable of this duty alone," he began. "Those subjects are irrelevant," the words cut Blue off before he could continue. Blue's shocked expression washed off the other man like water off the Guard. "But..." he muttered. "The only one that mattered was River Tam," the Coordinator snapped, looking a bit disgusted while he did so. It took Blue a second to realize that he was not the target of it. "If only I had seen it four years ago when she was still on Londinum." "You didn't know?" it came as a bit of a revalation. As long as Blue could remember, the Coordinator knew everything. Saw everything. The Coordinator shot Blue another look. This one of calculation. "Do you know why you never were raised to Supervisor?" he asked. Blue was confused. It was a question he'd wondered, but he never got an answer from those who called themselves his superiors. "I... assumed... that there was a..." "Do you want to know or not?" Blue clenched his jaw. "I do. Why was I held back? I would have been the best." The Coordinator smiled, if mirthlessly. "Supervisor is a dead end, Blue. They are stagnant, static, and will never gain or achieve anything of worth. They are as irrelevant as the subjects at the Place of Darkness." Blue was shocked. "I don't think I understand." "You are my hand," the Coordinator said. "I have spread the word to those who matter. Amongst the Blue Sun contractors, employees and executives, your word will be considered my own." "I'm... honored," Blue said, awestruck. He was fairly sure he was dreaming. This sort of thing didn't happen like this. "You are not dreaming, and this is happening. I have duties which only I can attend to, and I feel I must leave the dealings of the Blue Sun Corporation in capable hands." Blue ran a hand through close cropped hair. "I was the only one you trusted for this?" The Coordinator laughed, again mirthlessly. "I would not trust you to guard my dog, had I one," the Coordinator smirked. "No, I trust your ambition, your avarice, your greed. I trust you will use the Blue Sun to give yourself power, which is exactly why I formed this corporation more than a century ago. I trust you not to squander this, because doing that would run counter to the only thing I trust in you: your ambition." Blue took a deep breath. "I will not disappoint." "You had better not," the Coordinator said. He turned to the holo-screen again. A devious smirk came to his face. "You still want her?" "Sylvia Witherell?" "Yes, her. Do you want her?" There was a cunning at work that Blue was worried about. "She would be a worthy counterpart, on a genetic level. The only problem is her connection with her crew. Greyson has proven a suprising adversary, and he won't give her up without anything less than his total annihilation." "If Greyson is the only difficulty, I can deal with that," the Coordinator's look was brutal and predatory. "So, as a parting gift, I will give you what you really want." Blue took a step back. "I will give you Sylvia."



Tuesday, September 19, 2006 5:23 PM


Oh...shit. Things are getitng mighty f-ed up and fast. And somehow I doubt either Mal or Jacob's gonna be able to wiggle out of whatever situations pop into your head too easily, JTD;)



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Legacy 3:13. Among the Ashes of Gahaan
At the farthest fringes of the system lies the Veldt. What secrets lie within its murky mass? What devils call it home?

Legacy 3:12. The Ecstacy, part 2
The crew of Legacy faces further dire straits in its bid to complete its mission. On Londinum, Eli comes to a hard decision.

Legacy 3:11. The Ecstacy, part 1
Niflheim is home to many who are desparate enough to do anything. When one of them comes into Legacy's path, the results prove to be catastrophic.

Legacy 3:10, The Agony
Niflheim. The world collapsed into anarchy as nature betrayed it. Today, it gets more visitors than it knows what to do with, with a cargo-drop on one hand, and a desperate and dangerous fugitive on the other. Something is going to have to give, and the 'Verse help whoever it is that's to do the giving.

Legacy 3:09, Quiet Emptiness
A new job for Legacy means that it must stop off in Three Hills, where Sylvia suddenly finds herself confronting her past.

Legacy 3:08, Running Away
On Boros, Monday begins to see the unpleasant truth that stalks her, while King Benjamin finds his breaking point on Londinum. In the end, they're just running from their problems.

Legacy 3:07, Confederation, Part 3
With the Battle for Hera coming to a climax outside, Anne find's her child's birth beset by soldiers, storming the ship. Jacob and those in the city must somehow find a way through the war-zone before they get killed, either by the Alliance, or by the Confederates.

Legacy 3:06, Confederation, Part 2
Legacy's crew is scattered across a city soon to be embroiled in a full-scale war, and time is running out before the bombs fall. In the sky, two of the greatest military minds clash, while on the ground, the best the crew can hope for is to not be crushed under foot.

Legacy 3:05, Confederation, Part 1
Finally arriving on Hera, Jacob settles down to unwind, but is interrupted by a startling revelation by a member of his crew. And not too far away, even as the Independant Planets sign their Confederation, somebody is waiting in the darkness for the perfect moment to strike.

Legacy 3:04, Definition of a Hero
With mere hours to go before Confederation, Jacob catches wind of a travesty taking place, perpetrated by his supposed allies. Will he jeopardize the conference for the sake of his principles?