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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Next in the Mal/Freya/Inara story ... and can I just say 'thankyou' to everyone who leaves feedback - good is great, and not so good helps me enormously!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2038 RATING: 8 SERIES: FIREFLY
A bar, like a thousand others. Music is playing in the background, and various nefarious types are lounging at the bar or sitting at tables. The atmosphere suggested a fight may break out at any time, but this is not unusual. Our nefarious types are sitting at a table in the back, watching all the newcomers.
“I seem to do nothin’ but wait around in places like this,” Jayne grumbled.
“It was my recollection that you seemed homely in places like this.” Mal finished his beer and put the mug on the table.
“I am. It’s the waitin’ that makes me nervous. Been too many lately where nothin’s come of it.”
“Well, this is a good bet. He’s not let us down before.”
“Always a first time.”
Attempting to relieve the dampener Jayne was trying to put on things, Freya picked up the jug to refill her mug, but found it wanting. “I’ll get a refill.” She stood up and headed to the bar. She heard the conversation continue behind her, and half-smiled. Mal was in a good mood, with the first decent prospect of a job on the horizon for weeks, and he wasn’t letting Jayne get him down. She reached the bar and held out the jug. The barman took it and began to pour. The vidscreen above was showing something from the Cortex, as usual, and it caught Freya’s attention for a moment, then she looked harder. As the barman put the jug on the bar, slopping some of the contents, Freya asked, “What date is it?”
The barman looked at her, bored out of his skull. “March 30th.”
She smiled. “In which case –“
Back at the table Zoe was berating Jayne. “I don’t know about you, but I like getting paid once in a while.”
“So do I. It’s just –“
“You going through the change?” Mal asked, grinning widely.
Jayne looked shocked. “Am not!”
“Boys, boys.” Freya had got back to the table, a tray in her hands. “No fighting. Not yet.” She put the tray down in the centre of the grubby wood, and stood back. Everyone stared suspiciously at the glasses containing a brown liquid clustered together.
“And what is the occasion?” Mal asked.
“It’s my birthday!” The others exchanged amazed looks. As she sat back down, Freya said, “As I've missed the last three … no, four … I thought we should celebrate.”
“You know, either in space, or planetside with a different calendar. But today is my birthday. At least here, and according to the Cortex. So come on.” She picked up a glass. “Happy birthday to me!”
They all lifted a glass and wished Freya a happy birthday in bad unison, then chugged back. There was a stunned silence as the alcohol hit their throats.
“Oh, god,” Freya managed to say. “That’ll put hair on your chest.”
“Freya, darlin’, next time you decide to buy us all a drink, could it be somethin’ that won’t make us go blind?” Mal asked, his eyes streaming slightly.
Only Jayne seemed unaffected. He ran a finger around the inside of the glass and sucked it appreciatively. “So how old does this make you?”
Freya opened her mouth, but Zoe got there first. “A gentleman don’t ask a lady her age.”
“Well, I'm no gentleman, so it’s good she ain’t no lady.”
Mal spoke warningly. “Jayne.”
Freya held up a hand. “No, it’s all right, Mal. As it’s my birthday, I won’t rip his arm off and beat him senseless with the wet end.” She turned to glare at Jayne. “Tomorrow, on the other hand …”
Jayne just grinned back, not afraid of her at all. “So how old are you?”
“Amazing how fast a day goes, ain’t it?”
“I think that makes it your round,” Mal said.
“No ruttin’ way,” Jayne growled. “It’s the doc’s.”
“Jayne –“ Zoe said.
“No, please, that’s fine,” Simon interrupted. “Not sure I could face Jayne getting tearful.” He stood up and walked to the bar.
The fight that began was sudden, and no-one could ever be sure what had started it. But it erupted at the bar, and spilled quickly over into the rest of the room. A man crashed onto the table in front of Mal, upending the remains of the jugs all over Jayne, who got to his feet with a roar. He charged into the melee. Mal, who had stood up quickly to avoid getting wet, was grabbed by the front of his shirt and pulled towards the centre of the room. Not being too pleased with this, he let go a powerhouse which connected with his assailant’s jaw. After that, it just got confusing.
Then it was over. The initial fighters limped out of the bar, and those who had been assaulted began to count their wounds.
Freya, sucking her knuckles, laughed. “Hell of a way to enjoy a birthday,” she said. She looked down to where Simon was sitting on the floor against the bar, looking as if he had gone down in the first wave. “You okay?” she asked, then knelt quickly beside him. He was breathing, but his eyes were staring blankly. “Mal!” she said sharply.
He turned, looked down. “Jayne,” he ordered, and between them they picked the young doctor up.
“Wait.” Freya moved Simon’s shirt collar. “Tzao gao.” Something was attached to his neck, something metallic.
“What’s that?” Jayne asked.
“Infirmary – now.” Mal ordered.
“Captain, what’s – Simon!” Kaylee rushed into the infirmary, but Zoe caught her arm and held her back.
“We’re looking to him,” she said gently.
“Bar fight. But it looks like Simon’s been hit by something.”
“A bullet?” Kaylee looked around the others but couldn’t see any blood.
“No – not a bullet.”
Mal had undone Simon’s shirt so that he could see the metal embedded in Simon’s neck more clearly. He tested it with his fingertips, but it seemed firm. “Skin’s hot to the touch around it,” he said quietly.
Freya pulled a scanner over the area. “Damn. Don’t touch it again.”
“Look.” She moved the scanner a little so he could see the display. “Whatever that is, it’s linked directly into his neural nodes. If we try and remove it, without knowing exactly what it’s doing, we could kill him.”
“No!” Kaylee screamed.
“Get her out of here,” Mal ordered, and Zoe pulled the girl out of the infirmary. He looked up at Freya. “Some kind of device?”
Freya nodded, then shrugged. “For all I know it could be a bomb.”
Jayne took a step backward. “Mighty small to be a bomb.”
“Big enough to kill Simon.”
“And you don’t think we should try and remove it?” Mal asked.
“Well, you can if you want. I’ll watch. From outside.” Her irony was not lost on him.
“That isn’t helping.”
“Mal, none of us is skilled enough to remove it. It would take a surgeon … someone of Simon’s calibre … to be able to get it out of him. And as he’s the patient …”
“Then we have to get to a medical facility.” He glanced down again at Simon. “Get to the bridge. We need to be out of atmo in two minutes.”
“Where were you thinking?”
“We passed one a few hours back …”
“Oh, that’s bad,” Freya whispered.
“Do you think the local medical facilities can handle this?” Mal asked, pointing to the metal object.
Freya looked into his blue eyes, hard in this light. “No.”
“Then I don’t see we have any choice at all.”
“I'm on it,” Freya agreed. She turned and headed out of the infirmary, passing Zoe on the way and saying, “Close up, will you?” Zoe nodded and hurried out.
Kaylee touched Freya on the arm and she paused. “Is he going to be okay?”
“Captain’s working on it, xiao mei-mei.” She ran through the cargo bay and up the metal stairs to the bridge. Settling quickly into the pilot’s chair she began the ignition sequence, and Serenity purred into life.
“You want we should try and cut it out now she’s gone?” Jayne asked, sliding his knife half-way from its sheath.
Mal shook his head. “Put it away. Freya’s right – we’d kill him.”
“Solve the problem though, wouldn’t it?”
Mal shot him a sharp look, and Jayne backed down.
“We’re tight,” Zoe said over the intercom.
“Leaving the world now.” Freya pulled back on the column, at the same time pushing forward on the thrusters, and Serenity lifted off smoothly, her landing gear retracting into her belly. Gaining height rapidly, the sky turned dark, and stars filled the window. Freya ran a swift sweep, picking up the destination without a problem. She took the com link down and pressed the button. “Mal, the Davenport is under two hours away.”
“Set a course,” Mal ordered.
“Already done. How’s Simon?”
“The same. He’s … “
The sound of metal hitting the floor came over the intercom, and Freya could hear shouting but was unable to make out any words. The link went dead.
“Mal?” she asked, thumbing the switch, but there was no response. Setting the autopilot, she got up from the chair and headed back towards the infirmary.
As she stepped over the sill, something hit her on the side of the face, pushing her forcefully into the wall. Feeling as if she had no control, she felt herself rebound, and she began to fall.
Mal, wrestling the door from the kitchen open, saw Simon hit Freya on the chin, and she collapsed down the stairs. “Frey!” he shouted and ran along the corridor, watching the young doctor close and lock the door to the bridge from the inside.
Freya groaned and tried to sit up. “I'm okay,” she said, seeing the mixture of anger and concern on Mal’s face through the red mist in her vision as he leaned over her. “Who the hell …”
“Simon.” Pretty much assured Freya was, more or less, okay, he ran up the stairs to the bridge door, but it was locked tight. “Jayne – get to the other entrance!” he called.
“Simon?” Freya repeated, feeling as if her head were full of cotton wool. “He’s awake?”
“Not sure I’d say that,” Mal said, still trying to force the door. “He came to, attacked us and ran up here.”
Freya got slowly to her feet, holding onto the wall for support. “Did he hit me?”
“He did that.” Mal gave up on the door, and Zoe called from below.
“Jayne says that one’s locked too.”
“Okay – get the torch.”
Freya felt her jaw. Not broken, but her teeth had lacerated the inside of her mouth, and blood was seeping from the corner of her lips. She wiped it away with the back of her hand.
“You sure you’re okay?” Mal asked, stepping down and standing close.
“I don’t think anything’s broken,” Freya said, then winced as she tried to stand up straight. “I'm bruised, though.”
“What’s going on?” Inara asked, coming up behind them.
“Simon went crazy. He’s locked himself on the bridge,” Kaylee said tearfully.
“Not for long.” Jayne manhandled an equipment bag up the stairs and went to work on the door with the torch, making short work of the lock. As he stripped the goggles from his eyes Mal stepped through onto the bridge.
Simon was sitting in the pilot’s chair, staring out into the black. Freya touched him briefly on the neck. “He’s back to being catatonic.”
“Cata-what?” Jayne asked.
Mal was trying the controls, but they weren’t responding. “Frey.”
She joined him, trying various combinations. “We’re locked out but good,” she confirmed, looking into Mal’s serious face.
“Simon doesn’t fly, does he?” Zoe asked.
“No. River does, but – “
Mal interrupted. “Then I think I know what that gizmo does. And I am seriously not liking the look of this.” He spoke directly to Freya. “Can you figure out where we’re heading at least? Wouldn’t want to run into a moon or anything.”
“You shoulda let me cut that thing outa him,” Jayne said darkly.
“Jayne.” Mal didn’t elaborate. He didn’t have to.
Freya pushed a few buttons, flicked some switches. “Well, we’re not headed for the Davenport any longer, that’s for sure. Give me a minute.” She looked up. “Say, where is River?”
“I was beginning to wonder that very same thing my own self.” Mal turned. “Zoe, go check on her. She should have been the first to appear.”
“Yes sir.” She headed off towards the young girl’s quarters.
“I don’t get it,” Jayne said. “If he wanted to kill us, why not just open the cargo doors? We’d be suckin’ space by now.”
“Well, that doesn’t appear to be his intention.” Mal looked at Simon, sitting so calm. “Think he can hear us?” he asked Freya, who shrugged.
“Possibly. He may even know what’s going on – just can’t do anything about it. You think it’s controlling him?”
“Can’t think of anything other reason. I doubt he’d take it into his head to try and fly otherwise. You figured out where we’re headed yet?”
“Nearly. He’s done a job on – “
“Captain.” It was Zoe on the intercom, noise going on behind her.
“River’s in much the same state as her brother. Only if you touch her, she screams.”
“That the noise?”
“Is she safe? Won’t hurt herself?”
“Or us,” Jayne muttered darkly.
“She’s curled up on her bed. I couldn’t say if she was a danger to anyone else, sir.”
“Okay. Come back up.” Mal closed the link, then turned as Freya cursed softly. “What? What is it?”
“I know where we’re going. I recognise the co-ordinates.” She pushed her hands through her short hair, a sure indication she was disturbed.
“Is it bad?”
Freya laughed mirthlessly. “Oh, it is so not good.”
“It’s a private moon, owned by a man called Maice. Edwin Maice.”
“I'm taking it he’s not exactly a friend. Psychotic?”
“That would be insulting all the psychos we know. No, he’s worse. He … plays games.”
“Games? Don’t sound too bad,” Jayne put in.
“We did some work for him a while back. Transporting some goods. First trip, fine. Second … well, by the time we managed to get away, two of my crew were dead.”
“Oh, those kind of games,” Mal said quietly.
“He’s insane – takes pleasure in making people kill each other to live, end enjoys every moment. And he’s rich enough so no-one stops him.”
“So why us? Why Serenity?” Inara asked.
“I can only assume it’s because he found out I was on board, and we’re close enough for his gadget to work.”
“How close?” Mal demanded.
Freya’s eyes were bleak. “Couple of hours. No more.”
“Can you fix this by then?” Mal asked urgently.
“Even with Kaylee’s help I don’t know.” She stepped closer, dropping her voice. “Mal, you have to get everyone off the ship. Use the shuttles, get them away.”
“Shuttles are short-range. Any suggestion as to what I do when their power runs out?”
Freya indicated the control console. “From what I can see Serenity’s locked into this trajectory. But when she lands that command string is complete. Maybe I can add an extra line or two.”
“Can I have that in captain dummy talk?”
“We land, couple of minutes later my adjustment kicks in and Serenity takes off again to rendezvous with the shuttles.”
“Why not do that anyway? Why put everyone off first?”
“Can you guarantee Simon won’t just blow the hatches?” she countered.
“Then we sedate him.”
Freya shook her head. “I don’t know if that would even work, and it might kill him.”
“Solve our problem, though,” Jayne said.
Mal ignored him this time, having fastened on something Freya had said. “Why a couple of minutes? Between landing and taking off.”
“Because that’ll give me enough time to get off.”
Mal’s head went up. “No.”
“If it is me he's after then maybe he’ll leave the rest of you to go.”
“I said no.”
“Mal –“ Freya protested.
“Decision’s been made.” He turned to Zoe. “Get the shuttles prepped. You’ll take one, Inara the other.”
“I’ll be staying with Freya.”
“No discussion. Prep the shuttles.”
“Won’t they pick up the launch?” Inara asked as they hurried through the cargo bay, her arm around River, who had, at least, stopped screaming. “If we’re that close …”
“There’s another moon more or less between us and Maice,” Freya explained. “If you launch while we’re still behind it, they shouldn’t detect anything.” She headed for the bridge.
“Come on, time’s a-wasting,” Mal, carrying Simon up the stairs with Jayne, called. “You’ve only got a few minutes.” They stepped into Inara’s shuttle and dumped Simon on Inara’s bed. “Go,” Mal said to the big man. “Get the other shuttle away.”
Jayne nodded and ran out.
“Keep him tied up, Inara,” Mal said, checking the knots. “Don’t want him trying to cause more problems.”
“I don’t see why you’re staying with Serenity at all – either of you.” Inara began the start-up sequence but looked back at him over her shoulder. “If Freya can get the ship to take off again, why not just do that? We can be picked up and go on our way.”
“That won’t help Simon, now, would it?” Mal smiled sadly. “Even Alliance medics may not be able to remove that – thing – without killing him, specially if it’s still active.”
“You’re going to try and kill that man, though, aren’t you?”
“I think that may be the only solution. And I’m intending just to be around to hold Freya’s coat.”
“Shuttle launch in thirty seconds,” Freya’s voice came over the com.
“Don’t worry,” Mal said, squeezing her arm. “You’ll be back home soon enough.”
He left quickly before Inara could respond.
“Launch in five, four, three, two, one.” Freya, sitting in the pilot’s chair, felt the vibration through Serenity that signalled her shuttles separating, and she watched the rear vid, catching sight of both smaller ships dropping behind.
“Do you think anyone saw?” Mal said, stepping onto the bridge.
“I don’t think so. We were still in the shade.” She looked out of the window, adding, ”Enlighten me. Why those combinations? I’d have thought you’d put Jayne or Zoe in with Inara.”
Mal looked at her, his arms folded in his usual stance. “Would you trust Jayne? The way he’s been going on about Simon? And I ask this as someone who knows you keep your cash on you at all times.”
Freya smiled. “Trust Jayne? Not unless I was the one who was catatonic, so point taken. But what about Zoe?”
“She’ll keep Jayne in line. Just in case he takes it into his head to change shuttles.”
“You should have gone with them,” she said quietly.
“Don’t want my scintillating wit and sparkling conversation?” He raised his eyebrows.
She smiled at him. “I’d rather have you safe.”
“Hey, me too!” He laughed. “But you’re going to try and kill Maice, aren’t you?”
“That was the general intention, yes.”
“Then you might need some help.”
“I have to admit I’m glad you’re here.”
“Yeah, me too.” He touched her cheek gently, feeling her flinch every so slightly as her cut mouth rubbed on her teeth. “So is your little amendment to Simon’s programme all set?”
“Then I got just one small suggestion to make …”
Serenity touched down gently on the surface of the scarred moon, dusty and worn, without a tree or bush in sight to relieve the monotony. Only the huge blocks and slabs of yellow stone scattered over the land gave any respite. Oh, that and the compound set securely into its surface.
After a minute the door in the cargo bay hatch opened, and Mal looked out.
“Nice place,” he said, stepping down to the surface
Freya followed, closing the door behind her. “It’s been mined out. Killed everything on it.”
“Seems to have that kind of reputation, certainly.”
They walked away from Serenity, heading towards the compound. A minute later and they turned to watch the ship take off, her landing gear retracting smoothly.
“I hate to watch it leave,” Freya commented, feeling a little as if someone had just walked over her grave.
“I know what you mean.” He smiled at her and started walking again. She ran a little to catch up, and they continued in companionable silence
That is, until someone shot Freya. She went down without a sound, falling into the dirt in a heap. Mal whipped his gun from his holster but fell forward, a dart in his neck.
“Any sign of Serenity?” Zoe asked, looking at Inara on the vidscreen.
“Can’t be long. Unless something went wrong.”
“With the Captain’s plan?” The irony in Zoe’s voice came across loud and clear.
“I'm not saying a word,” Inara laughed.
“Hey,” Jayne said, leaning over the chair. “Is that her?”
Zoe looked out. “Serenity coming in,” she agreed. “I’ll take this shuttle in first, make sure everything’s okay. Don’t want to have any unexpected guests, do we?”
“Of course. Give me the signal when you’re happy.” Inara signed off.
Zoe waited until Serenity’s retros fired and she swung to a halt before moving the shuttle smoothly into position over the left hand side. Then, with extreme care and not a little skill, she settled the shuttle into position, and the autolock pulled the small craft into place.
Jayne and Zoe boarded the ship, and between them checked the other decks. No-one hiding – in fact no-one at all.
Zoe, checking the bridge last of all, took down the comlink. “Inara? Okay to dock – we’re all clear.” There was no response, only sub-space static. “Inara?” Suddenly aware of a creeping sensation down her spine, like someone was taking a bead on her through a scope, she hit the button to power the rear vid.
“Jayne!” she called.
“What?” He stuck his head into the cockpit.
“Something’s wrong. Inara’s shuttle just took off back towards that moon.” In the rear vid the image of the shuttle was getting smaller. “Inara!” Zoe’s voice was urgent, but there was still no reply.
“We’d better get after her,” Jayne said, shouldering Vera.
Zoe sat down, trying to get Serenity back on line.
“What’s up?” the mercenary asked.
“She’s locked out.” Zoe’s brow furrowed. “I thought Freya was supposed – Jayne, get to the shuttle. Get after Inara and try to stop her before they come out of the lee of the moon.”
Jayne nodded and ran off the bridge.
“Kaylee, get up here now,” Zoe said into the com.
A few moments later Kaylee appeared at the door. “Zoe?”
“We’re still locked out. Can you do anything?”
Kaylee nodded, but was interrupted by Jayne on the com. “Zoe, shuttle won’t launch. Locked up tight.”
Kaylee and Zoe exchanged glances. “Freya,” the older woman said.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006 12:25 AM
Wednesday, October 4, 2006 1:36 AM
Wednesday, October 4, 2006 5:02 AM
Wednesday, October 4, 2006 3:21 PM
Friday, January 18, 2008 4:31 PM
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