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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The rescue mission starts, but things don't go smooth for Mal and the others ... Feedback is very helpful, and as always I am very grateful for it!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1551 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Zoe looked from the young psychic to the Companion. “Are you saying Vinnie’s … no, I don’t believe it.”
“It’s true,” Inara confirmed. “He told me himself. It’s a straight trade – Mal for Harry.”
“Why?” Zoe asked, sitting down hard on the red sofa. “Why Mal?”
“Because no-one escapes from Tetris,” Inara said unhappily. “Leon wants to make an example of him.”
“I still can’t believe – Vinnie? He wouldn’t do this!”
“It’s his brother,” River said in a small voice, hugging her knees. “Brothers will do anything to save their siblings.”
Zoe got her feet under her and strode to the com. “Freya,” she said.
“Call Mal. Get them back here – now.”
“They’ll be out of –”
“Okay.” The com went dead.
Zoe looked at River. “You knew?”
“I thought I was wrong. Thought Freya’s suspicions were clouding my mind.” River covered her face with her hands. “But blood will out.”
“Zoe.” It was Freya. “There’s no response – they must be inside. Now would you mind telling me what the diyu’s going on?”
“You’d better come to the galley, and bring Kaylee. I don’t know what we can do, but maybe one of us can come up with a plan.”
The maps of the Tetris mines they’d downloaded were proving to be surprisingly accurate.
“Amazing what you can find on the Cortex,” Hank muttered.
“When I was twelve I once found detailed instructions on how to perform your very own brain surgery,” Vinnie offered. “But Harry said no.”
“Wise man,” Simon put in.
“Got the plans to a vault more’n once,” Mal agreed. “But we’ve still got to find Harry.”
They moved along the disused tunnel, Mal at point, Jayne taking up rearguard, grumbling.
“Place don’t smell any better’n last time,” the big man grumbled.
“Don’t intend to be here long enough for it to be a problem,” Mal whispered. “Now keep it down.”
A couple of hundred metres further and Vinnie tapped Mal on the shoulder. “This is it.”
Mal nodded. “Hank, Jayne. Go do your thing.”
Hank patted the bag at his back, and Jayne grunted as they jogged off down the left hand fork.
“You can count on them?” Vinnie asked, peering at Mal in the gloom.
“They’re my crew,” he said shortly, turning to move off down the right hand tunnel.
“He’s doing what?” Freya stood at the end of the table, her hands on her hips, trying to control the rage that was building inexorably inside her. “Are you saying he’s selling out Mal and the others?”
“Looks that way,” Zoe admitted. She shook her head. “Although I still can’t believe it. We went through so much in the war, so many battles …”
“People change,” Inara pointed out. “Some for the worst. And we don’t know what they went through before.”
“That liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze …” Freya breathed. “I knew I didn’t trust him.” Her imagination supplied an image of Mal, lying on his back among blue rocks, his eyes staring sightlessly into the dark, and she shivered. No. Not gonna happen. “So what do we do?” she asked.
“Leon’s our best hope,” the Companion went on. “If I can persuade him to let them all go, just to leave it –”
“You think that’s likely?” Zoe interrupted.
Inara paused, then shook her head. “Honestly, no. Leon isn’t the kind of man to let things be, and once he’s got it into his mind to … It must have taken a fair amount of organisation to get Mal here, and he’s not going to just let him go.”
“And we can’t go into the mine to get them out,” Zoe finished.
“Are we sure they’ll be held down there?” Kaylee asked. “Maybe they’ll bring them up to the offices above ground?” She shuddered a little but went on, “There is a place, where the mine manager works – at least worked. They might take them there.” She looked at River. “Can you tell?”
The young girl shook her head. “They’re too far. Too deep. I don’t think they’re –”
“Bee-jway,” Freya said quietly, having been thinking. “We might have a bigger problem. They know we’re here.” She looked at Zoe before running for the bridge.
“What did she mean?” Inara asked as Zoe followed.
Freya was pressing buttons, trying to get Serenity online, but the screen kept flashing ‘WARNING – LANDLOCK IMPOSED’. “Qiang bao hou zi de hun dan,” she said bitterly.
“Landlock?” Inara said behind her.
Zoe took a deep breath. “Take River and Kaylee. Get them into your shuttle and take off, right now,” she ordered.
“What about you and Freya?”
“We’ll … disable Serenity and follow in the other shuttle, lock her down tight.” Zoe smiled a little. “Don’t worry – we’ll be right behind you.”
Inara looked at her, but saw only Zoe’s concern for them. She nodded. “I’ll take off straight away.” She headed for her shuttle, collecting the other two on the way, Kaylee objecting all the time.
Freya looked at the first mate. “I gather we ain’t going anywhere?”
“No. Get your gun – I think we’re gonna have visitors.”
Hank knelt in the blue dust and affixed the first charge to the booster unit. “Once this goes,” he murmured to himself, “all the pacifiers will go down.”
A guard stood in the doorway. “What the hell’re you doing?” His hand went to the pacifier control at his waist.
“That ain’t gonna work,” Jayne said behind him, and as he turned he met Vera coming the other way.
Hank looked down at the unconscious man, then back up to the mercenary. “Thanks.”
“Don’t get used to it,” Jayne growled. “You done?”
“Just got one more.” Hank hurriedly placed the second charge on the other booster box, then licked his lips. “Ready.”
“Once I press this, ten minutes. That’ll give us plenty of time to be out of range.”
“Then press it and let’s get gone.”
Hank nodded and activated the unit. Immediately lights flickered over the display then went out.
“It supposed to do that?” Jayne asked.
“Yep. It’s set.”
“Come on then.” He moved off, surprisingly silent for a man of his size.
Hank followed, slightly less sure-footed, then peered down a side turning and stopped. “Jayne!” he whispered urgently.
Hank pointed. “Look.”
Just a little way along was another digging face, a dozen men all hacking at it with pickaxes. Three guards were standing around, bored, waiting for the shift to end.
“That’s where he must’ve come from,” Hank went on.
“So when it blows it could take them with it.”
“That ain’t our problem.” Jayne went to move off but Hank grabbed his arm. “Let go, little man,” Jayne warned.
“Shoot me. Only we ain’t going to leave them here.”
Jayne glared at him, then muttered, “Qingwa cao de liumang.” He glanced at the men. “Okay. Just stay behind me, dong ma?”
Jayne crept into the side turning, hugging the wall and cursing Hank, Mal, Freya … everyone on that damn boat who was turning him into a sha gua chun zi. At the entrance to the main face he paused for a moment, then jumped in, roaring like a banshee.
The guards turned towards him, startled into immobility as he swung Vera like a club, and within a moment they were laid out in front of him.
“That’s the trouble,” he said to no-one in particular, leaning over to grab one of the pacifier controls and throw it hard against the wall, “you rely on these things and people can surprise you.” He glared at the frightened men in front of him. “Go,” he said. Then louder. “Go on, get outta here!” They just stared at him. Finally he waved Vera at them and shouted, “Nee tzao sma?” and they ran like terrified animals, not caring where they were going, just wanting to be someplace else away from this crazy giant.
“I didn’t deactivate the charges in the pacifiers,” Hank said, looking after them.
“You think that’s gonna make that much of a difference?”
“They ain’t got a chance, have they?” Hank asked softly.
“The words snowball and hell mean anything to you?” Jayne asked in turn. “Come on, before we get blown to pieces our own selves.”
Six minutes later there was a deep booming sound like hell let loose, and a fireball rolled across the work face.
The rolling sound reached Mal, Vinnie and Simon as they moved through the tunnels.
“Right on time,” Mal said, smiling.
“Good crew you got there,” Vinnie agreed.
“Are you sure he’s on this level?” Simon asked, peering into the gloom.
Vinnie shrugged. “Sure as I can be. This is where we were before.”
“It’s a damn big place, Vinnie,” Mal said. “I don’t wanna be searching all night.”
“It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” Simon commented.
“How about I scout on ahead?” He pointed to the next fork. “You go that way, I’ll go this and meet you back here?”
“We ain’t got all day, Vinnie. Jayne can only keep ‘em occupied for so long.”
“Then we’d better get on with it, hadn’t we?” Vinnie ran off down the second tunnel.
Mal sighed. “And I thought I was the one went charging into things without thinking.”
“Can’t be first every time, Captain,” Simon said. “Shall we go?”
They started along the main tunnel again, but had only gone a few steps when they heard Vinnie’s excited cry.
“Mal! Mal! He’s here!”
They ran back and along to where Vinnie was almost hopping with relief outside a door.
“He’s inside,” Vinnie said. “You can just see him. Look.”
Mal peered through the thick, soundproof glass in the heavy metal door, just about making out a figure on the ground. “You sure it’s him?” he asked doubtfully.
“Do you think I don’t know my own brother?”
“What’s he doing here, Vinnie?” Mal asked. “Why ain’t he with the rest?”
“Maybe he’s been acting up. This is where they put you if you’ve been making a nuisance of yourself – kinda solitary confinement,” Vinnie explained.
“Well, Harry always was good at that,” Mal agreed. He peered at the locking mechanism, a complicated electronic thing. “I can deal with this,” he added, pulling a small sticky gun out of his pack. He applied the glue-like substance around the lock, and even in this light they could see the wire in the centre. Listening for a moment, satisfied that the guards were occupied elsewhere, he attached the power pack and thumbed the switch. There was a sizzling noise, and a smell like burning horsehair, as the activated acid ate into the metal. In the space of a few seconds the lock had sagged, and one good kick separated it from the door, which swung inwards.
“Harry?” Vinnie said, shining his torch inside.
“Took your time, didn’t you?” said the man on the floor.
Vinnie grinned and dropped down onto his knees. “You okay?” he asked.
“Better for seeing you.” Harry looked up. “Is that the Sarge with you, or am I just imagining things?”
“It’s me, Harry,” Mal said, reaching into his pack again. “Here, Vinnie.” He tossed him a small box.
“You sure this is gonna work?” Vinnie asked, looking at the mess of wires holding it together.
“Kaylee said so.” Mal looked out of the door. “Hurry it up, will you? Jayne ain’t gonna be able to keep them busy too long.”
Vinnie nodded, holding the box to the pacifier around Harry’s neck.
“What’s that?“ Harry asked.
“Deactivates the explosive.”
“Only one way to find out.” He pressed the single red button on top, and there was a click. He went to take hold of either end of the metal torque but Harry put his hand on his arm.
“You think this is a good idea?” he asked, his voice worried.
“Trust me,” Vinnie said. “I ever let you down?”
“You really want me to answer that?”
Vinnie grinned and pulled the pacifier apart. There was a pause then a collective sigh of relief.
“Doc,” Mal called, and a young man entered the cell, going to Harry and efficiently checking him over.
“He’s okay, Mal,” he said. “Slightly better condition than his brother, if anything.”
“Can you walk?” Mal asked, going to the door. “’Cos we need to get out of here.”
“I’ll walk. I’ll crawl if I have to,” Harry said, allowing Simon and Vinnie to get him to his feet.
“Walking will be fine,” Mal said. “Come on.”
He led the way out, looking back only once when Harry came into the light, holding down the sick feeling in his stomach at the bluish skin and bruises on the face of his friend. Gritting his teeth he walked on.
At the next fork he paused, checking the map.
“Same way we came in?” Vinnie asked, supporting Harry under his shoulders.
“That’s what I was thinking, but the noise up ahead makes me wonder if that ain’t a bad idea.” He could hear shouts, gunfire, and it was getting closer. “Looks like we might have to take a little detour.” He paused a moment, then said, “Vinnie, go check. See if it’s as bad as we think. I’ll go the other way, make sure -”
“No,” Harry interrupted. “Let your doc here go. I think he could do with some exercise. ‘Sides, I wanna word with the Sarge.”
Mal looked at him then shrugged. “Simon, get to the next junction. If it’s clear we can probably make it back to the surface with little problems.”
Simon nodded and moved off. Vinnie gave his brother a hard look, but hurried down the other tunnel.
“So?” Mal asked. “What did you want to talk to me about?” Harry didn’t answer, just looked at Mal then turned back, heading down a small side passageway. “Harry, we ain’t got time for this,” he protested.
Harry glanced back over his shoulder. “Yes we do,” he said, turning a corner into a small dimly lit area.
They were men, that he was sure of, but that was all he could be positive about. Their skin was stained blue, the dust so engrained it could never be washed out. They had sores, too, mostly around their necks from the pacifiers, but also up their arms. The ore had infected them, making them weep, crusting over then breaking open again, but they didn’t feel it.
The six of them lay with their backs against the wall, just staring at him.
Mal felt the bile rise in his throat, and the shame that he had left them here. He hadn’t thought, hadn’t even considered the other men down the mine, just thinking of his own crew, getting his women out.
“They ain’t going anywhere, Sarge,” Harry said next to him. “Been here too long. Can’t even wield a pick no more, just waiting to die.”
“Simon could –“
“No, he couldn’t.” Harry squeezed his arm. “Give me your gun, Mal.”
“Just give it me. You can have it back.” Mal stared into his friend’s face then handed over his weapon. “Now go wait outside.”
Mal nodded and turned away, but not before seeing the slight change of expression of one of the men’s faces. It looked like … gratitude. Outside in the main corridor he took a deep breath, tasting the dust at the back of his throat. Then six shots, one after the other.
Harry came back out. “Thanks. You need to reload.”
“Yeah,” Mal said.
They headed back in silence to the fork, where Simon waited for them.
“I heard gunshots,” he said. “Was it –”
“Nothing, doctor,” Mal interrupted, then looked around. “Where’s Vinnie?”
“He’s not come back yet.”
“That boy is gonna land us in shen goushi one of these days,” he muttered. “Take Harry and keep moving. I’ll find Vinnie and be right behind.” He handed over the map. “Leave a trail of breadcrumbs, will you?”
Harry didn‘t agree. “Mal, we shouldn’t get split up. We can wait for him –”
“No time,” Mal said firmly. “Don’t worry, Harry. I’ll find him.” He grinned and ran off.
“Come on,” Simon said.
Harry allowed himself to be led away, but the look on his face was more than just concern.
“Vinnie?” Mal called softly, stepping around another corner. “Vinnie? Where the hell are you?”
Mal followed the voice into a small room cut from the bedrock. “What are you doing here? Come on, the others are waiting.” Vinnie didn’t move. “What’s up with you?”
“Sorry? What for?” Then something hard and cold pressed into his neck. “Wangba dan,” he said, then started to turn, to strike out at the person behind him, in the darkness, but as he moved something hit him on the side of the head. Explosions of light filled his vision as he slipped to his knees, then fell forward to the floor. By that time, though, he didn’t feel a thing.
to be continued
Saturday, October 28, 2006 5:39 PM
Sunday, October 29, 2006 1:58 AM
Sunday, October 29, 2006 2:47 AM
Monday, October 30, 2006 8:10 PM
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