Browncoat Rising [1]
Friday, October 20, 2006

Higgins moon: Carrying right on along with the Jayne-bot. Fess Higgins asks for help. Culprit turns out to be someone we have met before.



Lost track of how far I've gone How far I've gone, how high I've climbed On my back's a sixty pound stone On my shoulder a half mile line Spirits above and behind me Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright May their precious blood forever bind me Lord as I stand before your fiery light Sky of blackness and sorrow ( a dream of life) Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life) Sky of glory and sadness ( a dream of life) Sky of mercy, sky of fear ( a dream of life) Sky of memory and shadow ( a dream of life) Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life) Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life ( a dream of life)

Come on up for the rising Come on up, lay your hands in mine Come on up for the rising Come on up for the rising tonight * The Rising – Bruce Springsteen * [I'm not the greatest Springsteen fan, but this lyric sets the stage for what follows] [May be character death[s]. This could go dark and deep before its done.] [ But first, there's the Jayne-bot...] * Mudders Bar, Canton, Higgins moon * “Holy Mother of God! The Mudders have made a ruttin' love-bot outta me!” Vera managed to find her voice, “*Love-bot? You sure? Could be a standard work bot. ” Jayne gestured emphatically, “Look at that...that...*thing!” Mal spoke next, “Looks like you.” The MC on stage spotted Jayne, “Well, Jayne Cobb! Ain't seen you in too long; come on up!” Eager Mudder hands pulled and jostled Jayne onto the stage alongside his mechanical doppel-ganger. The Jayne-bot's head turned with eerie fluidity to regard the flesh and blood man. Kaylee got in first, “Oooh, a boy toy! Don't see many of 'em about, 'cept servicing sly guys. Never tried one myself, damn it. Don't need to now!” She smiled at Simon and got Sam and Lee comfortable against her chest. The potential show of Jayne on Jayne-bot looked like popcorn-eating fun. “Are we going to be able to choose the right one to take with us, sir?” Mal smirked, not able to stop himself, “Maybe the other one will be an improvement.” Vera protested, “Hey!” Mal grinned at her, not totally meaning it, “Sorry.” Vera realised the joke, “Oh, I see. Teasing. Anyway, the bot is clearly synthetic and plastic. *I can tell the difference, even if you can't.” Mal bit back the rejoinder in his head out of deference to liking Vera and Jayne's 'public relations' capabilities. And in any case, he had gotten used to having Jayne around. He wouldn't ever admit it, but part of him almost liked the merc by now. Been handy in many, many tight spots and even challengingly pushed Mal's buttons, making him keep up his end of the game. Sharpened him, you might say. * The real Jayne was still eyeing the other very warily and with a whole slew of disgust. “Does it talk?” The MC, either not detecting or ignoring the dangerous undercurrents, bounced between both Jayne's with a microphone, “Better than that; it sings!” Zoe brought Sarah up into her arms, “Look at that Sarah. Remember!” Sarah pointed and babbled excitedly, “Yeah, two of 'em. One's a big dolly that moves.” Vera looked at her, “Don't even *think of completing that thought.” Zoe's lips twitched, “Sorry. Still don't know what you see in him. Still teasing, and where he's concerned you can be an easy mark.” Vera shrugged, “I love the big lug and he loves me.” “Ah. Love.” Zoe knew very personally how an apparently odd-match couple could be completely suited to each other, “Utterly understood. Pax, Vera.” Vera nodded, “Pax.” The Jayne bot suddenly opened its mouth and started on a very mechanical and personalised version of the 'Hero of Canton' song. This was way past too much for Jayne. He threw his two best punches and a couple of kicks. The bot stood there, wobbled, then fell to the stage in a beautifully straight arc and began fizzing electronic sparks. Jayne gave it another kick for good measure. “Ruttin' machine!” The MC finally intervened, “Hey, we got that made in honour of you.” Jayne jabbed a finger at himself, grabbing the mike, “It's my song and I'm gonna sing it!”And he did. * Mal winced. Not that Jayne was a bad singer; lots of enthusiasm and the pitch was pretty much spot on, but he just didn't want to hear this right now, “Well, any sneaking about just went out of the window.” Vera smiled, “The Mudders were almost bound to spot Jayne. They still remember him fondly, even after last time.” Mal nudged her, “Can you get him to pipe down? My ears are melting!” Vera climbed on stage, “Jayne...” She touched his arm. He grinned at her, “Wanna duet?” She smiled sweetly, “Why not? You know 'Jackson', don't you?” Jayne's grin widened, “You know I have a powerful likin' for the man in black!” So Vera started, “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout...” And Jayne jumped right in on the second verse. To the side and slightly behind them, the Jayne-bot rebooted itself and got slowly and stiffly to its feet, still fizzing slightly. It barged towards the mike and joined right in the next chorus; badly and just off pitch. Vera quickly found the off switch on the neck, the lights died in its eyes and suddenly Jayne and most of the others were reminded of that statue, in spite of the Jayne-bot not being covered in mud. Vera and the real Jayne stepped forward a little and finished the song, to enthusiatic applause. Then Vera dragged Jayne off stage whilst the MC covered the Jayne-bot being removed. * Kaylee grinned, “I could offer to fix it. Never got my hands on a bot before!” Mal's mouth twisted in humorous distaste, “Please don't.” “Maybe *I should mend it,” Vera offered, diving into the comic side of things, “I know the original down to the last mole.” Jayne rose to the bait, “Woman, you ain't gettin' your hands on another man, even if it *does look like me!” Vera grinned, “I could try out all its functions, let you know how realistic it is!” He turned and grabbed her, then saw the ear-splitting grin, “Gorram, Vera! Want me to show you how much mine you are in public?” Vera shivered with anticipation, but knew that *this public was off their personal menu. Mal would have kittens, for a start, “Later, wan nao. In the meantime, let's have a beer or three.” Jayne nodded, “Beer!” He forged ahead, intent on alcohol. Mal ushered them towards the bar, glad of the change of tack. He murmured in Vera's ear, “Thanks; I think!” Vera smiled back, “Beer and weapons are good ways to change his mind. Sex, of course, but I was trying to lead him away from thinking on that too much right now.” “Glad of that. Seem to remember the Mudder's milk they served here last time was almost as bad as horse piss, though.” “It'll be liquid and alcoholic. After the Jayne-bot, it's what I need.” Mal took a glance backwards, “MC is ushering someone else to the mike now and the Jayne bot has gone.” * Everyone stopped at the bar for a drink. Some of the Mudders were listening to the lady singer now performing; others were still regarding Jayne. One of the more sozzled guys at the bar poked Jayne drunkenly. “Vernon took a bullet for you.” Jayne removed the offending digit from his person, but did it reasonably gently, “I know; I remember. Damn fool. Told ya all I weren't no hero and I still ain't.” “Ya got the message out.” “That was Mal. I was just watchin' his back and shootin' Reavers.” “We heard 'bout all the Companions you helped free from that bad medicine stuff.” Jayne shrugged, “Most of that time I was at Southdown Abbey with my woman here, kickin' monks.” The drunk turned to Vera, “Pleased to meet ya, Jayne's woman.” Vera held herself still, in spite of the fumes coming off the guy, “Likewise.” “Ya kicked Triad butt!” Jayne smiled, “Now that I *will agree on! Vera helped me!” The drunk swayed, “Makes ya a hero in my book!” Then he slowly turned and swayed out of the bar. There followed a soft thud outside from where hitting the air reacted with the drunk and he'd fallen boneless to the ground. * Jayne turned to Vera, “You ever get that? Folks thinkin' you're a hero when you ain't entirely?” “Sometimes. Being a bounty hunter had me skimming on both sides of the law. Someone was usually grateful when I brought the bounty in; sometimes the call was malicious and I let the bounty go free and ran for cover. During my 'Robin Hood' phase I was on the run a lot. Put a fair share of gold coin and similar down chimneys where folks were poor; remembering old Santa and his tricks. Being a sheriff is about as lawful as I've ever got, and that was stretching the point. Maori law is very...flexible, at least on Beltane.” Hori was at her other elbow and laughed at that, “I'll say!” Jayne put his arm around her shoulders, “Keep forgettin', mi mei gui. You speak like a person that's had lots of learnin'.” Vera chuckled, “You mean, I talk posh. That fancy school I got sent to for a while had more or less compulsory elocution lessons, remember? Plus my mother had pretensions to genteel society. I left school at fifteen, just like you. Maybe I read a few more books whilst in long transit between planets and listened to lots of folk. 'Ee'd loike Oi ta talk in a Wurzel accent, moi luvver?” Jayne laughed out loud, “I had noticed one or two folk on Avalon sounded like that!” Vera grinned, “Ar, 'Ee cun brize 'n rangle on Oi till Oi be fair lagged out later!” “Is that as naughty as I'm hopin'?” “Heck, yeah!” * After a brief alcoholic hiaitus, everyone made their way to the Higgins' very fine house. It was clear from the quality of the place that the family was in charge hereabouts. Everything else on this moon was mud, Mudders and shanty built. Fess stood at the door, in a very expensive suit, trying to look all boss-like and in charge but not entirely succeeding. He was wearing a fancy piece of gun at one hip which looked about as alien on him as something flowery on Jayne or Mal. He managed a polite 'greeting customers' smile, “Come on in; tea's waiting.” Inara took the initiative, “You got my message?” Fess nodded, “Found me a nice local Mudder girl who scrubbed up pretty. Please, come in.” As Mal came close to him, he murmured, “Someone's working against me hereabouts.” Mal gave a tiny nod, “Nice to do business with you, Fess Higgins.” When they were seated at tea, Fess motioned silence and swept the room for bugs, “Nothing personal; I do that daily to keep this place secure. I give orders and not everything gets done. Reckon it's a foreman, can't tell which one. I'm *trying to improve the Mudders' standard of living. I've been hoping we can get some kind of voting and representation going, but someone is blocking me. I've tried using men I trust – women too – and there's a log-jam right between thought and actual action.” “You have a council?” Mal asked. “Not yet; that's the problem. I've chased messages and paper and it all boils down to one of the foremen working against me and intimidating people. Haven't seen anything or heard anything. The Mudders won't talk; they're scared.” He smiled at Jayne, “Even with the tall tales they still tell about you, they're scared.” “Well, they've not really met me, Hori or Zhang here,” Vera commented, “Could one or more of us going undercover in the Mudders help?” Fess shook his head, “The Mudders may have close to nothing, but they know each other. And, no offence, you'd stick out like a sore thumb.” Jayne grinned, “So, we knock a few foremen's heads together!” Mal put a hand on his arm, “Maybe not violence; at least not straight away. Seem to remember threat of your knife...” “Boo.” “Whatever; it's loosened tongues before. Fess, can you invite each foreman here to discuss...I don't know, something like a wage rise or other bonus, then we'll see if Jayne can winkle the truth out of them.” * Six foremen later, Jayne was getting fed up. They'd certainly told him a whole lot – more than he ever wanted to know about mud production and quotas – but he'd bet both Boo and the hidden gun called Lux in his boot that they were harmless. Irritating as hell, but harmless. Finally, the last foreman came in. Except this was a woman. Jayne knew immediately *exactly who had been scuppering Fess' plans, “Well; what are you callin' yourself now? Gone back to Saffron yet?” Give her credit, she tried, “I was desperate; needed a safe place and Fess said I could work here.” She looked at Jayne through her eyelashes. He flicked the point of the knife under her chin, “Sometimes I *do hurt women; when they're ruttin' evil.” “You wanted me once.” It was good; good enough to have Jayne's libido wobbling slightly. “That was afore I knew you were a devious snake.” He pushed the point of the knife home just a little bit more. “Please; don't hurt me!” Jayne sighed deliberately, “I'm gonna cut on you, if you don't spill what you've been doin'. After that, it's likely Mal will void you into space without a suit!” She braced her shoulders and changed in an instant, “Stupid man! You could have had me!” * She undid her top, deliberately baring her breasts and Jayne had to admit the sight was worth the price of admission. But Saffron, or Bridget, or Yolanda, or whatever she was calling herself now didn't know about Vera. Okay, Vera wasn't as lushly curved in the breast department, but she had something the con artist would never have; Jayne's undivided affections. Jayne started slicing gently in a curve around the edge of her jaw, drawing blood. Saffron scrambled backwards, yelling and screaming like a hell cat. Mal and Vera burst into the room, Hori and Inara hot on their tails. Mal took one look, “Ah. Left you with the trash, where you belong, I seem to remember.” Inara folded her arms, “Saffron.” Vera had a pistol in her hand, “Tessa Cowell.” Mal asked Vera, “You know her?” Vera didn't take her eyes off Saffron, “Likes seducing Maori guys – and girls – and relieving them of family heirlooms.” Hori nodded, “Tried me; once. Kicked her outta my bed, eh.” In short order, Saffron was patched up by Simon, at gunpoint, then delivered to the nearby planetary authorities bound for their most secure holding cell, complete with leg irons, awaiting trial. Fess ordered an immediate thorough search of her dwelling. He also put out a few waves to the 'verse in general that Mal and the others didn't know about. ***

Translations * Ee'd loike Oi ta talk in moi Wurzel accent, moi luvver? - Would you like me to talk in a 'wurzel' (Somerset, think pirates!) accent, my lover? The 'my lover' is used to anyone, male or female as a general greeting. * Ee cun brize 'n rangle on Oi till Oi be fair lagged out later! - You can bear upon and twist/twine with me later until I'm completely exhausted.


Sunday, October 22, 2006 3:16 PM


YoSaffBridge was gumming the works? Now that's just funny. Though somehow I don't think she's completely screwed like the crew thinks she is;)

Definitely loved how you had Jayne lay out the Jayne-bot though! Especially when it tried to get back into the groove of things;D


Sunday, October 22, 2006 8:56 PM


This *may not be the last we've seen of her in this tale; thing is I've got a lot of strands that are going to start coming together shortly. I have the ending (I think!) and a whole lot of playing pieces that are going to get busy very soon.

The title of this part of the story arc is a big hairy clue [G].



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