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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Set on New Melbourne, a hitman of sorts, employed by crimelord Niska is assigned his next target. Please read parts 1 and 2 if you like! (NC-17) And please please please add comments :)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 646 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
THIS STORY IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 17. It contains scenes of sexual assult and graphic violence. DO NOT READ ON if this upsets you.
It remains night over Presaria City.
Howling rain and surf impacts with the blunt face of the jetty sending a towering fountain of foam and spray surging out over the pier, slapping down hard on the weather worn timber. There is a thunderstorm out to sea, throbs of lightning preceding the yawning, echoing rumbles cascading across the dark ocean and into the deep, twisting bowels of the city. The moonless night is illuminated solely by these images, flashes of light gone quicker than they come, captures in time of the towering cloud forms reaching piteously from the black heavens to the chaotic spray of the brooding ocean, the storm like a synapse, the thinnest cleft of apparent calm between the churning bulk of the clouds and the seething pulse of the ocean, arches of white hot light leaping the gulf between sky and sea in an instant, thousands a second, a constant cackle of thunder rising and waning with the rolling energy of the surf against the battered and tired shoreline.
The city is not spared. The weight of the storm piles against it, the crusty scab of gothic civilisation clinging resolutely to the earth like a limpet to rock. Gales scream, washing over it, through it, thunderous squalls whipping the peaks of rolling ocean surges into white caps, surf flicking over the city, filling the air with the scent of the ocean, salt and water and rickety boats and uncleaned decks rank with dried fish entrails. Rain too, thick like a thunderous applause upon the city, sheets of water tumbling from the twisting sky upon the dark alleyways, the rooftop hideaways, wind whipping under doors, around windows, through letter slots, finding all manner of hiding place.
No boats are out tonight, t’would be a suicidal run, the light beacons off the coast silent. The shore is skirted by a profuse, tortuous grove: the dark heat of the mangrove swamps; and where it is absent stand the wooden jetties jutting far out into churning ocean swell. Boats are battered like toys against the raw weight of the water, occasionally catching taut on thick, woven ropes, audibly stretching, straining with the weight of them.
The Jetties congeal closer to shore, forming together, closing ranks into giant pontoon islands like an extension of the land, littered with boathouses, wooden shacks, warehouses and gangways weaving into a labyrinth without design. There are few lights, most just yellow stained gas lamps burning against the night. The entire construct buckles and bends with every surge of the surf, bass groans and soprano shrieks aching on thick timber foundations buried deep into the ocean bed, blistered with barnacles, slathered with dirty heaps of seaweed kinking and snapping firm within the ebb and flow of the storm.
Finally, the Jetties become asphalt roadways, the pontoons disseminating at no apparent point into the twisted ramblings of the city: Steel, tin, brick and plaster a writhing aggregate as the topography climbs from the sea, steeper and steeper into the vast bulk of this twisted urban warren.
A girl rushed into the street, instantly soaked by the torrential downpour around her, her thin dress clinging to her most unflatteringly as she fell to all fours and vomited in ghastly heaves, her body shaking as muscles spasmed, a thick rush of half digested foodstuffs splattering out into the gutter, carried away moments later in spinning chunks by the trickling water. A friend appeared, pushing open the doorway to some club, thick pounding of electronic beats pummeling the night air. The friend lent to her side, pulling back her purple and green dyed hair as the girl wiped her face with one hand, wrenching slightly, then heaving again. The friend held her shoulders empathetically, staring over at the dark figure of Johel across the street, who watched with darkened eyes. Johel turned a second later, feeling the weight of her questioning gaze upon him, retreating into the storm.
A cat ran across the road, its fur matted and soaked, eyes glinting. It hissed vengefully at Johel - this was its domain - before vanishing at lightning pace. Johel came to feel the night watching him though clandestine eyes, resenting his presence. And so he stayed to the shadows, below the overpasses, between the gazes of light, in the shadow of the night.
Johel found an alleyway, dank and dark, hiding himself from the pelting rain now soaking him through layers of clothing, hair slicked down, collar high. Streets were empty, stalls packed away, the night drifting from a joyous carnival to the eerie silence of wind whistling through urban canyons, water dribbling with loud splashes into the storm drain, carrying with it all manner of filth and garbage piled in the gutters. He pulled on a packet of smokes but found them soaked though, discarding them to the curb, laying his head back against the hard brick. He closed his eyes and felt his heart slow. Not far now.
Over the sound of the rain, Johel heard groans and yelps to the right, far off down the alley way, in its murky bowels of trash-cans and dumpsters and bums curling themselves against anything they could, anything to hide them from the storm. Johel went to turn away, back into the street, but then heard the cries once more. The voice distinctly female, pleading for help.
He followed the wall down with one hand, his head low like a stalking predator, away from the soft light behind, into this den of long, black shadows, like ghouls on the rain slicked ground. The calls came louder.
Two hoodlums stood in the shadow of a dumpster as a third guy violated a screaming woman against the filthy, oiled stained tarmac, her head propped up against the brick of the alley wall, pinning down her arms as she desperately flailed against him, vainly kicking out. One of the hoods saw Johel as he appeared into view, turning to face him. Young bloke with a scrappy goatee, tat on his face, down his jaw-line of a python. The symbol of the Jackers. The government may have thought they ran this city, so might the Drug kingpins growing rich from the flow of synth from the border. Both were wrong. The Jackers were a frightening gang, almost like a cult at times, while not as strong as the west-side crew - Los Diablos - the Jackers had guns and guts, and cuts into drugs and women. Nobody messed with them. And they messed with everyone.
“Something take your fancy, Faggot?” The young one spat, acting as a lookout for the other two; older guys. He hefted a large steel pipe in one hand, a pistol sticking from his belt. Eyes had a faint blue tinge from Scat, a crystalline powder snorted, giving exceptional sensory perception and repressed inhibition.
Johel was silent as he walked closer, taking in the scene fully.
The woman must have caught Johel through one eye, a shadowy hulk opposing one of the Jackers, hearing the young ones bullying calls over the sound of the rain and the sickening gasps of this monster.
“Jesus! Please help me!” She shrieked in pain, a fast slap pounding her gentle face. The lead Jacker turned, shouting between vicious thrusts “Get him the Fuck out of here!”
“You just keep walking” the Kid said through gritted, yellowed teeth, twisting his mouth into a vicious grin. Johel stared into him impassively.
Johel suddenly turned, as if to walk away, but shot back with phenomenal speed. The knife came out in his right, driving up into the lookout's gut, the guy’s face distending in shock and agony as his hand grasped the wound, hot blood dribbling over his fingers, doubling over with the force of it. Johel snapped his head back, then arched it forward, slamming with his forehead into the kid's nose, feeling it shatter with the weight of the strike. As he tumbled down, Johel grabbed the steel piping from his hands, hefting giant metal club like a baseball bat, padding it into the palm of one hand. The second Jacker took it in the side of head, turning a moment before the impact to face the metal bar smashing into his face. His cheek and jaw shattered inwards with the blow, his entire skull inexorably warping around the pole as it landed, crashing him sideways with a dirty snap. Johel dropped the steel piping with a loud, bouncing crash, the last Jacker still heaving over the sniveling, crying frame of the woman, turning at the final second, unable to defend himself. Johel snatched a lock of his stained hair, soaked by the storm raging around, leaning him back and then hurling his face forward, smashing into the brick wall of the alley at top speed. The woman screamed as blood dripped onto her, desperately trying to push away his bulk with her newly freed arms, Johel grasping him in a heavy headlock. He puppetted the Jacker like a ragdoll, taking a step back and ramming the crown of his skull into a dumpster, the tough steel dented by the impact, like a battering ram. He threw the body down, limp in the water of some puddle, blood and water, leaning over it, punching hard into his head. Again and again, his fists flew in followed by filthy crunches, blood on his knuckles, over and over and over until Johel finally collapsed in exhaustion next to the slain corpse, panting with deep, heavy breaths, each expelling a cloud of moisture into the cold air. Finally, Johel turned toward the young woman, legs still splayed, her eyes locked onto him, chilled with fear. Fear of the brutal act he had performed so ruthlessly on her behalf.
Slowly he came to his feet, hauling the three bodies together, then pulling them one by one into the open-air dumpster, one atop the others. The last Jacker still had his pants around his shins which made him difficult to move. As he placed the second Jacker inside; a deeply fractured skull from the impact of the pipe reduced from its hard, carapacial form to slivers of bone over jelly; he emitted a low moan. Johel laid two more into him to be sure, threw in the steel pipe on top and slammed down the lid. Come morning the garbage trucks wouldn't inspect within, and once the bodies were found, if ever, it would be from an unnumbered dumpster, one of thousands throughout the city. Johel left the woman in the alley, sobbing quietly in despair, and limped away into the night.
The bar was seedier than some, more reputable than others, a modestly attired establishment off the main road, lined with photographs of famous people who had never been there, smoke filled air glowing with the light of large orange gaslights buried into the ceiling, hissing softly through the warm air. The storm had rolled in quite quickly, even for the humid summer nights, thinning out the passes by so that only regular customers, slumped over the large wooden bar remained, some still chatting softly between puffs of cigarettes from the stalls at the rear end of the bar. The barman, a large guy with a white bar-rag hung over one shoulder cleaned glasses slowly, watching the small, fuzzy view screen at the far end of the bar, the ticker sliding across the bottom, something about a train derailment in the city and an fire in an apartment block off the junction. Soft, jazzy music remained on, filling the seldom broken silence, only the occasional chuckle of soft laughter from the couple at the back.
The bell guarding the door tinkled as it opened, and the distinct scent of the storm, wet and cold in the air beyond trickled in, overcoming the smoke for just a moment. Johel’s soaking figure stepped through the threshold, throwing a glance to the barman who nodded slowly, sizing him up. Johel scoured the interior of the space. A man sitting alone at the rear in a cubical, reading a trashy novel over a half-empty pot, limp filter of a cigarette licked with a soft crimson glow and trickle of smoke, twisting to become the soft haze, which occupied the air. The lone man didn’t look up as the newcomer approached. Johel pulled up a chair opposite the man, clutching his hands together, waiting for him to speak. Nothing came. The man flipped a page, turning his head slightly and reading on. Johel chewed his lip, then finally “Mr Hamilton, I…”
“He’s out the back” the man replied hastily, still without eye contact. Johel stood and backed away, finding a thin curtain through to a long, dark corridor, leading him to a dimly lit back room. A pool table stood in the middle, a few guys with cues silent, observing the role of one man’s play. One clapped and jeered the others as he pocketed a red ball. Elsewhere, men sat in deep leather chairs, fat cigars in hand, chatting softly under the din of the billiard players. Johel stepped through. One of the players pointed him toward the rear. Walking further in, he caught sight of a single wooden chair, a man tied down with thick ropes, sweating profusely. His white shirt was stained with wet patches, face twisted, pleading. Another man, although far shorter than Johel, stood above the sweating man; He wore an immaculate double-breasted suit, purple silk shirt, grey tie in a half Windsor, a picture of elegance. He spoke in fractured English accented with a regional dialect of some moon, hands clasped firmly behind his back, keeping a steady gait, circling the man as a shark may do, sizing up his prey.
“Please, Mr Niska. I can get you the money. Just one more week! I’ve got five-thousand on me, it’s yours. I swear Mr Niska!” The man was panting.
“This, This I already know” The words rolled from Niska’s mouth, pursed lips “What I need to know, is not the how, but the why. Why you could betray my trust. Why you want me to do these things I do not like to do, but…”
“Oh, sweet mercy please. Just one week!” The man stared up at a huge, muscle bound hulk of a man, henchman, peering down over him with menacing gaze. Mr Niska turned his back to the bound man, apathetically tossing his hand in a gentle wave. The Henchmen, Lurg and Crow, big barrel chested frames, faces slarked with dragon-tooth tattoos, each grasped the bound man under both of his arms, hauling him off the ground. They turned and advanced out a small back door, into a blackened alley. An enigmatic figure sedately posed in a quiet chair, whom previously had sat silent looked up to Mr Niska, who nodded demurely. The man placed his cigarette in the ashtray next to him, pulled forward a polished wooden box from beneath his seat, snapped it open to reveal a chrome laser pistol, fearsome in form, like a pray-mantis. He pushed a power cell into the breach and locked it closed, sitting up and walking for the door. Outside, muffled pleadings became screams, growing to become curdling shrieks.
Adelei Niska was a sadist. Everybody knew it. He was known for it system wide for it. There were more powerful crime lords in the system, some of the Core Cartels, or one of the Black Moon Belt figures maybe. But nobody of right mind screwed with Niska on purpose. And nobody lived to tell the story of how they had taken advantage of him; all found there end with a blade, or tazer burn, or the whip, or the medieval rack, or any number of ways yet without name.
Some people even said he had some Reaver in his bloodline. On his mothers side.
His base of operations was a Skyplex orbiting a dusty orange orb, a near constant flow of traders, mercenaries, weapons dealers, human smugglers feeding in and out of the place. Niska had a cut of all of it, and nothing got past him. It was told that once a human smuggling ring set up, taking farm girls from the some isolated communities outside Scrantown on Jiangyin. They boosted them to orbit in Cryo, and spread rumors of some serial killing family stalking the province, targeting the young women, cannibalizing there flesh so that nothing remained. The backwards lot believed it. But you don’t boost cargo like that and expect Niska not to know about it. He held the four guys for eight days, deconstructing them slowly as he cut away feet, knees, legs, fingers, hands and arms, finally forcing them to consume there own flesh. The last sustenance they would have, before he had Crow dump there torsos in the Jaipur Desert, letting them boil away in the blistering heat of the sun and sand, picked apart by the buzzards.
That may have been his hobby, but his business always came first. And for a border kingpin, that business had, and will always be drugs.
Synth started as nectar from specific plants native to the Saraheen desert on Siachen. The bee’s collected it, building huge hives on its sustenance, changing it chemically to there needs Once a year, the harvest came, and the Children of the towns would take turns with long wooden poles topped with hooks, running out into the ambling flats where the hives hung from low, scraggly desert trees, trying to smash them down without being stung too badly. Once the bee’s had cleared, the nectar was collected, blood red because of its nature, big pots of it boiled for days. Finally, It was dried and baked hard in the sun, then crushed down. But something happened to it when the sun cooked it, something that could not be reproduced otherwise; changing bonds, making its nature intoxicating. Mind bending. People said they saw things when they ingested the substance, waking visions, dreamscapes and fantasies, pleasure of thousands of orgasms, the feeling on flight and of invulnerability.
Johel had always thought the first uses would have been the kids who figured this out. But it didn’t take long before it spread, through the town fetes and fares, word of mouth of a new way to expand your mind. And in came the cartels. The farmers moved out, the drug barrens moved in. No longer did the children collect the hives. Synth turned from a cheerful mistake into a multi-million dollar black book industry. The Honey was added with Inositol, cutting it. Highly cut, it started to become white tinged with only fleks of red: low grade called Snot. Lower levels of cutting let it maintain its natural colour, called Blood or Crimson. It was packed up, and shipped downriver to the major ports – New Kashmir toward the sea, and Claytonville much closer. The captains took a cut. Once off world however, it became very hard to move. The Alliance knew where it came from, and while not particularly enforced on the planet itself, once off-world, the penalty for shipping drugs was a mandatory prison sentence of twenty years for the entire crew. And it screamed as obvious when ships began to make the run from Siachen to the Core, again and again. And so the New Melbourne leg begun.
Ships came in on a low final toward Grovetown, over the mangrove swamps, and let the packages fly. They would fall, fast, landing hard in the brutal mire, some sinking, some bobbing on the gentle currents, some caught in the thick foliage. The ships could land and be inspected by Alliance crews, always finding nothing. Meanwhile, a few kilometers toward the sea, children would board dinghies and canoes and paddle out into the bog marsh, armed with lanterns and boathooks. They would give the packages to the local barrens for a tidy profit, although nowhere even scraping the true street value of thirty or forty kilograms of relatively pure Synth. The Kingpins would have it cut down further, in the filthy drug labs buried deep of the heart of the barrow, mixed with milder Scat Drops, which was about the same colour, or just with lactose or something equally as harmless. But that didn’t make it harmless. Some people said that, pure; injected Synth would kill you as quick as cyanide. It had to be cut down, to make it safe, to keep the customers coming back for the next fix. What started as something natural and pure, became cut with thousands of other chemicals, a synthesized fusion. Perhaps that’s where the name comes from.
Not everyone lived.
It rotted the brain from the inside, neuron connections severed, axons burned out by the vile flow of dark energy. It worked upon the pons, a cerebral structure buried deep within the brainstem, controlling inhibitions, affecting our dreamscapes. For users, dreams became the realities of their fractured worlds. All the time the pons rotted, leading to the inevitable conclusion: total brainstem necrosis. When surgeons cut into the spinal column of a Synth junkie, where they should find spinal fluid, clear and colourless, they find a viscous black goo.
Others were overcome by its after-effects; massive lows of addiction. There were plenty of suicides. Guns in the mouth, gore splattered ceilings. Commuter trains routinely pasted synth addicts in the depths of inter-high despair.
Sometimes a microscopic fungus clung to the crimson all the way from Siachen. It caused a rash, black, puss filled blisters up and down the arms, rising through pale flesh like oil through water. With the effects of the drug, the users would pick at them until they turned to great bloody scabs, slathered and crusty, infected with all manner of disease to there compromised immune systems.
And then the blood borne infections related to injections; dirty syringes.
An Ugly business, but inevitable. Human nature.
From New Melbourne they could go anywhere. It was a major lay-over point for a good quarter of the system, from the core to the border, ships pouring in with imports from all over, exports of Fish and sealife from the huge company trawlers, scraping the sea beds clean day after day. And so the drug came unchecked. Unpoliced. The core is where they felt it worst; In the blackout zones of Ariel and Osiris, and Sihnon and Londinium, where the war being fought, the darkest manifestations of our frail humanity played out with disturbing truth.
At the core of it was one man.
There was a beat, and the screams beyond the threshold became silence. Mr Niska’s face pricked up, staring up at Johel across the room.
“Ah. Mr Meuller, so nice to see you here again!” His face was jovial and inviting, arms wide as Johel approached cautiously. “Come, sit please. You must be freezing. Can Crow get you anything you need?”
Crow was suddenly standing over him, face as stern as ever. Johel asked for a beer, and grudgingly the big man obeyed.
“How was your journey, Mr Meuller, was the vessel we arranged satisfactory? Who was it’s captain again?”
“A Malcom Reynolds” Johel replied, somehow sensing he had used the name before “And the journey was plesent. He gets it done.”
“Good, Good! So, I hear it is that you follow my directions, yes?”
“Yes, Mr Niska. I met the man, the Finder. He gave me this” Johel handed Niska the envelope. Niska took it from him but did not open it himself, instead simply passing it over one shoulder to a waiting helper who tucked it into his jacket.
“And you find no complications in killing this man?”
“No Sir.” Specifics weren’t necessary, Johel decided. “Burned the place up afterwards, like you said”
“Very good, very good. You know what I call you? Crow, Crow, tell him what I call him”. Niska bubbled, Crow, once again hanging over him handed him a beer, the pot like a baby cup in his massive, fleshy paw.
“I do not know this” Crow grunted, voice gritty and steeped in thick accent.
“I call you my handy-man. Because you can be good at so many things. I give you an assignment, and you get it done without question or whatever, and I like that.” Niska clapped his hands together once more. “But now I have another assignment for you”
Johel leaned forward.
“Are you familiar with the works of Sun Tze Lao, Mr Meuller? The ancient philosopher of state and mind who grew the great power of emperor Shan Yu from local aristocrat to powerful warlord.”
Johel frowned and shook his head.
“Sun Tze Lao would contemplate for hours, some say, considering the machinations of society and the civilization and sovereignty, yes.” Mr Niska described the story with great passion “And he knew what it would be, to have an empire where Shan Yu would be the supreme power. This was not to be an empire of dissent, but of love and devotion toward him; how you say, a cult of the personality.”
Johel nodded, Niska went on.
“And he found that this was indeed possible. Because within each man lies a drive to follow a god, and believe in there powers. To follow them anywhere. But Sun Tze also find more” He held up a finger with this, to emphasize his growing point. “Within some men grows the need to tear down our inner drive. These men spin truths, distort, deceive you know. Then they called them the Gossips, those whom could not keep their mouths shut about business which is not there own, see. Once they were the gossips, now they are the journalists, the news writers who spin these lies”
Johel saw the point. Okay, Journalists are bad. He pulled back from the table, leaning back into the chair; his eyes still focused ensuring he still maintained Niska’s respect. One day, Johel suspected it would come in very handy.
Mr Niska smiled over at him. If a snake could smile, Johel suspected it may look something like that. “My handy-man, yes”. He clapped his hands together, delighted, and took to his feet. Around him the party was beginning to mobilize, putting down glasses and standing.
“Now, I apologize, but I must go back to my Skyplex. Business as usual, you see” Johel stood and the two men shook hands.
Johel towered over him, yet it was of constant acknowledgment whom was the stronger man. Niska was handed his hat and coat, and made for the backalley door. The entire entourage followed him out, filing out until the room was empty. Johel sat back down, confused.
There was a manila folder sitting on a small table beside his seat, which he had inadvertently used as a coaster. He lifted the pot and pulled out the folder, finding its edges and tearing it open down one crease. Inside was a paper-thin state-screen, already flashing with images. A woman’s face dominated it, thin and young, the shot taken from a distance without consent, candid, capturing her as a moment. There were more shorts, as a sequence tracking her from some building to her car, striding with confident steps. A name flashed up: Natylee Winters.
“He’s a complicated man”
Johel’s head shot up from the screen. The man from the bar, with the novel and the limp cigarette stood in the space before him, now far more polite in facial expression. In the better light, he could notice a line scar below one eye.
“Mr Niska, a complicated guy” He said again.
“Yes” Johel replied, a slight grin.
“I bet you’re asking yourself, why didn’t he just give you that. Why did go on about this ancient philosophy instead of just telling you what he wanted you to do. I suppose it just his way.” The man sat down in Mr Niska’s chair, facing Johel. “Child of a different era, a lot more theatrics”.
Johel nodded “You’re Mr Hamilton?”
“Yes, Emil Hamilton. Call me Emil though”
“So, what is all this?” Johel waved his hand over the state-screen.
“Natylee Winters. She’s an investigative journalist, works with the Presaria Tribune most of the time. Ever heard of her?”
Johel didn’t move, just studying her image.
“Well, she broke that piece last month about an academy of gifted children, set up by the government, where they, I don’t know, perform surgery on them or something. It’s mostly blunder, but apparently caused quite a stir at some higher echelon levels.”
“Sounds like tabloid rubbish” Johel said.
“Well, that wasn’t in the Tribune actually. We’ve traced her to a small, underground newspaper called The Savage. Leftist, anti-alliance stuff mostly. That’s where the academy piece came from.”
Johel flicked a state-point on the screen, bringing up a copy of the article: “Playing with children’s brains”. There were hundreds of others. An alliance organization experimenting on prisoners- making them insane, Reaver insane; Federal war atrocities covered up. One story had an image attached, an infant daughter, her mother shot down by Federal soldiers, crying as Federals train there weapons toward her, as if the Infant is somehow a threat to them. Johel’s hand trembled over the image, fighting the memory of it.
“We need to find out what she knows” Emil announced finally.
Johel looked up “About what?”
“Mr Niska’s operation. Somebody has leaked information about one of his…dealings. We need to find out if it’s containable”
“And if it’s not?” Johel queried.
“Then we want her to be found raped to death by Jackers, or face down in the viaduct, or washed up in the mangroves. Anything which doesn’t link her to us”
Johel knew the drill.
“How will I get close to her?” He asked finally.
“There’s a position going at her newspaper. It’s not glamorous, but Niska had the guy who was doing it…well he ran into some financial difficulties, that Mr Niska kindly helped him out of. Only Mr Niska didn’t inform him he’d have to pay it back” Emil said.
“What happened to him?” Johel asked
“Roped him to a chair and chopped him up with a laser pistol” He said earnestly “Actually, you may have passed him on your way in”.
Sunday, November 05, 2006 1:25 AM
Sunday, November 05, 2006 4:09 AM
Tuesday, November 07, 2006 7:34 PM
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