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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's poisoned, Mal's rescue attempt has ended up in his being captured ... the concluding part! Thanks for all your feedback, and I appreciate every last one of them!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1707 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Freya laid her cards down on the table and grinned. Warwick Harrow sat back in astonishment. “How … just where did you learn to play cards like that, young lady?” he asked.
“Legacy of a misspent adulthood,” she said, gathering the cards back up.
“Well, I make that I owe you –”
River ran in. “Freya! Something’s wrong!”
Freya stood up. “What?”
“I‘m … not sure. It’s Mal.” The young girl shook her head. “I can’t …”
Freya ran out of the door to the bridge, taking the steps two at a time. She pulled the comlink down. “Serenity to shuttle two. Serenity to shuttle two. Hank, you there?” There was no response, just the crackle of static. “Shuttle two, this is Freya. Gorram it, someone answer me!”
“Freya, it’s Hank.” The pilot’s voice was strained. “They’ve taken Inara. I didn’t see who – they knocked us out, took her. Frey, they took Mal too.”
“Wahng-ba dan duh biao-tze.” Freya breathed. “How long?”
“Five minutes. Frey –”
“You best get back here and we’ll –”
“No. Can’t. They mucked up the controls before they left – it’ll take me a while to fix it. Less if I had Kaylee here.”
“Freya.” It was River, standing behind them in the doorway.
“Honey, can it wait –”
“Trees. Lots of trees and grass. And water. Like a small lake,” River said quickly. “Mal knows it. So does Inara. And him.” She pointed at Harrow.
Freya glanced at the man. “You don’t think …”
“It could be,” he agreed.
“Hank.” Freya spoke into the com. “How far are you from Cadrie Pond?”
“How the hell do I know? Hang on.” There was muttering behind him. “Apparently about an hour and a half on foot, less if we can get Callum with the hover. But thirty-five minutes at least.”
“Too far,” Freya murmured. “And Serenity’ll just advertise we’re coming … Hank, get Dillon to call Callum. Get there as soon as you can. We’ll take Inara’s shuttle.”
“You think that’s where they are?”
“Shit, Hank, I don’t know. But I don’t have any better ideas. Do you?”
“Nope. We’ll be there as soon as we can.” The link went dead.
Freya turned to River. “Take the ship and Kaylee to shuttle two. She might be quicker than Dillon’s hover.” The girl nodded and slid into the pilot’s chair.
“Why don’t we just go and pick them up first?” Harrow asked, following Freya out.
“Twenty minutes to get to them, then another forty just so we can reverse the way we came? No. We don’t have the time.” She dropped down the ladder to her bunk, grabbing her gun and climbing back up to him. “No. We go there, now.”
Mal opened his eyes and wished he hadn’t. The light seemed to trigger a wave of pain behind his forehead, and he groaned.
“Ah, Captain Reynolds. Back with us, are you?” said a familiar voice.
Mal tried to focus. “Ai ya, hwai leh,” he murmured as the face in front of him became clear.
Atherton Wing smiled at him, a parody of the public persona he had cultivated over a lifetime of privilege. “Not surprised though, are you?” he added. “You’ve been busy, trying to find me. When all along I’ve been playing you for the fool.”
“Where’s the antidote?” Mal croaked, his throat dry, struggling to get to his feet.
“Who says there is one?” Wing countered.
For a long moment Mal’s heart seemed to stop, then he said, “Of course there is. You’d make sure of that, just so’s you’d have the twisted pleasure of knowing you could save her life … and wouldn’t.”
“You seem to know me too well, Captain.” Wing laughed, patting his waistcoat pocket. “As you say, of course there is. But it’s even better than just knowing.” He moved to one side so Mal could see behind him, could see Inara, crumpled on the ground, not moving.
“Tah muh duh hwoon dahn!” he roared, launching himself at Wing, only to find himself forcibly restrained by three men.
“Captain, Captain,” Wing chided. “Did you think I would come here alone?”
Mal tried to free himself. “Why?” he asked, glaring at the other man. “Why do this?”
“Because of what you and that whore did to me,” Wing replied, gesturing at Inara. “I promised myself to return the favour.”
“It was years ago!” Mal nodded to Wing’s face. “But you still wear the scar. Why? So easy to have one of your fancy doctors heal it clean.”
“It’s a reminder.” Wing touched his face, to the congealed line beneath his left eye. “Every time I look in the mirror I think of you. And what I’d one day be doing to you.”
“But Inara – she had nothing to do with this.”
Wing was suddenly right in Mal’s face. “She set me up!”
“No more she did. You had no call to go after her.”
Wing stepped back, trying to control himself. “She was involved. She was there, when you humiliated me.”
“So was Harrow.”
“But he’s too powerful. Too rich. I couldn’t do anything to him. Not even my father … But you … and that whore … It’s a pity your doctor has kept her sedated, but that will wear off soon. And I shall be able to watch the final act in person. So much better than just knowing she’s going to die in space somewhere.”
“You’re insane,“ Mal stated, still struggling against the men who held him.
Wing appeared not to have heard Mal’s words. “Of course, you won’t be around to see it.” He held his arms out. “Recognise this spot? You should. It’s where you and that whore made my life a living hell. And where yours is about to end.”
“So you have the notion to kill me,” Mal said, a faint thrill of fear inside him. He wasn’t ashamed of it – he wouldn‘t be human if he wasn’t afraid to die, but he kept it down, wasn’t going to let it control him. “Or are you gonna talk me to death?”
Wing laughed. “Oh no. You see, I have planned this moment for a long time. Different scenarios, different ideas … and every time I came back to this. Poetic justice, you might say. You cheated me out of my rightful victory. But this time …” He signalled to one of his men who tossed something into the grass at Mal’s feet. “This time, it will be different.”
Mal stared down at the sword, bright and glinting hellishly sharp in the early morning sunshine. “Tzao gao.”
Wing took a second sword from his man, moving it through the air so it sang, feeling the weight, the balance of it in the palm of his hand. He nodded and the men holding Mal let go. “Pick it up,” he said.
Mal didn’t move. “No. I ain’t playing your game.”
“Pick it up,” Wing repeated. “Otherwise I will run you through where you stand.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Mal said.
Wing sighed. “Captain Reynolds, I could gut you now. And believe me, the thought is very tempting. But I’m offering you a fair fight. Who knows, you might even win.”
Mal eyed him sceptically. “And if I do?”
“Then you go free. You and that bitch too.” Wing smiled.
“Why don’t I believe you?”
“I have no idea. But you won’t. Not this time.” He pointed with his sword. “Pick it up.” He shrugged. “Or I’ll cut off one of her fingers. Or possibly a hand.” He looked across at Inara. “One of those hands that have caressed so many thousands in her bed …”
“Okay.“ Mal, feeling the frisson of fear hitting the hot, hard wall of his bloody-minded anger, reached down very slowly and carefully picked up the sword, not taking his eyes off Wing for a moment.
“See?” said Wing pleasantly. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?” He brought his own sword up. “Then we shall begin.”
The sound of metal meeting metal filled the small glade, overlaid by the throb of a shuttle passing overhead. Neither man noticed, each intent on the other, Mal trying desperately not to be stabbed again, Wing enjoying himself too much. Suddenly Wing slashed, and Mal felt a burning pain along his ribs where the sword had cut through the skin, sliding along the bone. He grasped his left hand to it, feeling the stickiness of his own blood.
“Did I hurt you, Captain?” Wing asked, a broad smile on his face.
“Ain’t nothing but a scratch,” Mal said, pressing to keep the wound closed.
“Oh, this is going to be fun.” Wing laughed and thrust again.
Mal was getting tired, the after effects of the tranquilliser they’d used on him mixing with the pain from the sword swipe, and he was having difficulty keeping out of Wing’s way. Suddenly his foot slipped on the damp grass, and Wing instantly took advantage, thrusting the point of his sword into Mal’s left shoulder, just below the bone.
Mal grunted, staggering to maintain his balance, and managed to back off a little. Something had happened, though, and his left arm hung uselessly. He glanced down at it, panting.
“Not finished yet, are we, Captain? And the whore hasn’t even woken up yet to see her champion die for her.” Wing began to circle, and Mal had to move steadily to keep him in his line of sight.
“You always did like the sound of your own voice,” Mal managed to say, feeling his strength fading.
“Well, it won’t bother you for much longer,” Wing responded.
Unexpectedly a gunshot boomed through the clearing from a little way off, then the sounds of shouting and fighting. Wing looked annoyed, then more concerned as the gun fired again.
“It seems I might need to finish this sooner than I intended,” he said. “It appears we may be having company, and I can’t allow them to find you still alive.” He waved his hand at the three men standing indecisively, and they ran off to help their comrades. Wing turned back to look at Mal, who was leaning with his sword hand on his knee, his other arm hanging. “Goodbye, Captain Reynolds.” He raised the sword, about to plunge it home into Mal’s heart.
Mal did the only thing he could think of: he charged at Wing full pelt, his sword held out straight. Wing side-stepped, brushing the weapon away with ease, catching him across the back and slicing into the skin. Mal tried to turn but he was off balance and he found himself slipping down the bank, his feet sliding out from under him and rolling into the pond, grunting with the pain from his wounds as he went under. Water filled his mouth, and he could taste mud as he struggled to the surface, coughing. He’d lost his grip on the sword, and had to grab hold of the reeds to pull himself out, pink water streaming off him. Wing strode purposefully towards him.
“Not dead yet?” the other man laughed, waiting for him to stagger to his feet, searching for his weapon. “Well, I can soon remedy that.” Wing kicked Mal in the ribs, catching the sword thrust and making him groan, flipping him onto his back. “And now, I think, for the coup de grace.” He raised his sword.
“Mal!” a woman shouted, and he looked sharply to his left, seeing Freya tossing him something from twenty yards away. He reached up with his good hand, plucking the gun from the air and laying back on the dirt, bringing it to bear and firing in the same movement, the sound very loud in that quiet place.
Wing stopped, an astonished look on his face. The sword slipped from his fingers and he looked down at the slowly spreading bloom of blood on his chest. “You cheated,” Wing managed to say.
“What did you expect?” Mal answered.
Wing stared at him, then fell backwards onto the grass, staring unseeing at the sky.
“Mal, are you all right?” Freya asked, sliding to a halt on her knees beside him, pale with concern.
“What if I’d missed?” he asked. “If I hadn’t caught the gun?”
“I’d have shot him,” Freya said, moving his shirt so she could see the open slash along his ribs. “I was ready to. But this was your fight. We just came along to see fair play.”
Freya nodded behind her, and Mal was amazed to see Sir Warwick Harrow, his sash untidy, holding a gun on the last of Wing’s men. “He’s pretty good in a fight,” she said.
Mal tried to get to his feet, only managing it when Freya put her shoulder under his right arm and heaved. “No,” he said sternly, not letting her take any of his weight. “Where’s Simon? I want him to make sure you’re okay.”
“I’m shiny, Mal. We both are. Now please ...”
“Just so long as you stay that way.” He looked down at Wing. “In his waistcoat pocket. The antidote.”
Freya leaned over and carefully took a small phial from the dead man. “How much?” she asked.
“I’ll do that,” Simon called unexpectedly, running towards them, the other Serenity crew members at his heels. He took the phial and pulled a hypo from his pocket, fitting them smoothly together. Kneeling by Inara, he injected the liquid into her neck.
“How soon will we know?” Mal asked, leaning just a little on Freya.
Simon checked her pulse, her pupils. “I’ll need to get her back to the infirmary, but I think we’re in time.” He stood up. “How about you?” he asked, looking at the blood on Mal’s shoulder and side. “Are you badly hurt?”
“I think I’ll live,” Mal said dryly.
“Good. But it looks like I’m going to have a full house.”
“What? Who else is hurt?” Mal looked around at his crew.
Simon nodded at Freya. “I told you, nothing strenuous.”
Mal looked at her, suddenly angry now the threat had been removed. “And what the hell are you doing here anyway?” he said, realising. “Putting your life in danger? And our son's?”
“Jayne,” Simon said, indicating the big man should take Freya’s place.
“Our …” She stared at her husband. “Who told …” Realisation crossed her face. “River.”
“And she shouldn’t have had to. You shoulda told me yourself.”
“A boy?” Jayne said, sliding his arm under Mal’s shoulder and feeling the blood running down his back. “Say, doc, he’s bleeding round there too.”
Simon hurried to check.
“Freya, are you all right?” Dillon asked, stepping close to her.
“I’ll be fine,” she said. “Where did you –”
“Kaylee’s fixing the shuttle,” Zoe said, holstering her gun. “With River’s help. Although it don’t look like you needed ours.”
“You could have gotten here a mite sooner,” Mal complained. “I ain’t that keen on getting stabbed.”
“And yet it seems to happen so much,” Freya pointed out, no little irony in her voice.
“Hey, I’m bleeding here,” Mal protested. He looked at his first mate. “So where’s my boat?”
“Still at Wing’s house, sir. We came in the hover. Wouldn’t have been anywhere to land close enough to do any good.”
“Best we use the shuttle to get back,” Simon said, looking at his patients. “I think I need to get to work.”
“What about …” Mal looked over at Wing’s body.
“Warwick and I will deal with that,” Dillon said firmly. “It won’t be difficult to make it disappear. Wing had become something of a recluse, so most people will just think he left again.”
“Thanks, Dillon,” Freya said, taking his hand. “I owe you one.”
“No, my dear,” Dillon said, covering hers with both of his own. “If anything I am still in your debt – or so Breed keeps telling me.”
Freya smiled. “Well, we’d best be getting back. Oh, and tell Warwick he can owe me my winnings.”
Mal glanced at her sharply, but she wasn’t any more forthcoming. Instead he turned his gaze on Dillon. “Thank you,” he said. “If you need a reliable transport any time –”
“I’ll call,” Dillon said, laughing.
Mal smiled and let Jayne help him back towards the shuttle. As they left the glade he looked over at Freya, walking next to him, and asked, “What winnings?”
Someone knocked on the shuttle door.
“Ching jin,” Inara called from where she sat on one of the long seats.
Freya stepped inside. “Hi.”
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
Inara smiled. “Simon said as long as I take it easy, I don’t have to be.”
“So no rough sex for a while?” Freya asked mischievously.
“I thought that was your province,” Inara replied, laughing. “Besides, now I’m no longer going to be a Companion I don’t get to have it that often.“ She smiled. “How are you, by the way?”
“Okay,” Freya said, stroking her belly. “At least my being confined to the boat has been rescinded. Simon said if I got through all that and still ended up okay, he couldn’t see why I should stay on board any more.” She grinned with relief. “Still saying I can’t go on any jobs, but I’m working on that.”
“Annoyed. Wing damaged the ligaments to his arm, and they’re going to take a while to heal, so he’s kinda stuck wearing that sling.”
“Making the most of it then?”
“Oh, yes. He’s got Kaylee and River fussing round him all the time.”
They laughed together, then Inara said, “I didn’t say, but thanks. For keeping your promise.”
“A long time ago you promised to always be there when I needed a friend.”
Freya smiled. “You are my friend, Inara. If friends don’t look out for each other, who will? But next time someone comes to get you, and tells you your life is in danger, will you listen to them?”
“Oh, I promise,” Inara said fervently. “And I’m glad we’re friends. It’s very important to me.”
“Yeah. Me too,” Freya said quietly, then watched Inara stifle a yawn. “I’d best let you get some rest. I only came in to see how you were.”
“I’m fine. Thanks to all of you.”
Freya grinned. “I’ll pass it on. ‘Night, ‘Nara.”
“Goodnight.” Inara smiled as Freya left the shuttle.
“She okay?” Mal asked, leaning on the railing, his left arm conspicuously held close to his chest in a sling.
“She’ll be fine,” Freya said. “I think it was a shock that someone she knew could do that, but she’s a strong woman – she’ll get over it.”
“Not the only strong woman I know,” Mal said, stepping closer so he could put his free arm around her waist. “Will you always come for me?” he asked, looking into her dark eyes. “Even when I’ve told you not to?”
“Well, that depends –” Freya began, then yelped a little as Mal pulled her tighter to him. She smiled. “Always,” she said tenderly. “Even when I’m as big as a house.”
“Good.” Mal bent down a little so he could brush his lips across hers. “How it should be.“
The kiss deepened until Freya pulled away, just a little. “Hey, that’s not fair. You know Simon said you couldn’t.”
Mal grinned wickedly. “Oh, I’m sure we can find something to do,“ he said, taking possession of her mouth again. “’Sides,” he added after a while. “I understand you’ve got a picture to show me.”
Xavier Wing lifted the glass of whisky to his mouth and stared at the capture. It had been taken from a distance but still clearly showed the captain of Serenity stepping aboard his ship, his crew around him, a woman standing close. Two men were saying goodbyes, both of them familiar.
“You won’t be under their protection forever, Reynolds,” Wing said softly, freezing the image on the captain and his wife. “And as I'm sure you realise, my family bides its time.”
He laid the capture on the desk, putting his glass beside it, and picked up the letter opener, the terminal formed in the shape of a trident. With great care he placed the sharper end against the screen, right between Reynolds eyes, and pushed. The plastiglas shattered, and sparks jumped for a moment, the picture gone.
“You shouldn’t take it so much to heart,” Sheydra said, picking up his whisky and taking a sip.
He looked up at her. “He was my son.”
“And Inara is my friend.”
Wing looked back at the broken capture. “And I shall take that into account.”
Sheydra watched him, her robe wrapped loosely about her body. “Do you want me to go?” she asked.
He shook his head slowly, still staring at the remains on the desk. “No need for that,” he said, his voice deep. “But I’d be obliged if you’d go back to the bedroom and wait for me.”
She nodded and went turned, taking the whisky with her. She needed it, considering what he’d done earlier. Still, he was a powerful man, knew a great deal, and that knowledge could be useful. As she closed the door to the bedroom and slid the robe from her shoulders, she pondered on the single sheet of paper she’d come across in his desk, heavy cream vellum, emblazoned with the red Guild seal …
‘Inara Serra was informed by the Guild that her child had been still-born. This was not the case. He was placed with …’
Author's Note: in case you were wondering, the title is referring to the fact that Poseidon held a grudge for a very long time against Odysseus after he blinded his son, Polyphemus. This sort of hints (as well as the epilogue) that it isn't over yet ... but it may be a while!
Monday, January 15, 2007 11:12 PM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 1:56 AM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 2:19 AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 12:45 PM
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