BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Salvage - Part VI
Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Time is running out but rescue is on the way ... concluding part. Apart from an epilogue. Let me know if you like/hate.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1789    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Jethro swallowed, trying to bite back the bile rising in his throat. Nausea was flaring in his stomach, and he was doing his best not to throw up inside the suit. Freya was standing on the skin of Serenity ahead of him, attached to him by a cable, but he still felt like he was going to fall off any second. Particularly as the Firefly was executing a lazy roll to bring them above the derelict freighter.

“You ready?” she asked.

“No,” he admitted. “But let’s go before I change my mind.”

She smiled and pushed off, keeping her eyes on the ship in front. “Hank, we’re leaving. Don’t go anywhere,” she said quietly.

“I’ll try not to.” The pilot’s voice was tight, concerned, as the cable went taut and Jethro felt himself lift from the hull plating, flying through nothing towards the solid metal of the freighter. He swallowed again.

Freya twisted somehow, getting her boots down first, then grabbed him before he could make hard contact. “Show me where,” she said.

“Over … over there,” he stammered, trying to get his feet to the hull.

She nodded and walked off, the slight magnetic seal enabling her to move smoothly. A small circle, raised just a little off the plating, caught her eye. “This it?”

“Yes.”

“Open it.”

He nodded and went down onto his knees, feeling the cold seeping in even through the insulated skin of the suit. Reaching out he touched a small panel which sprang open, revealing a lever. With a grunt he put his weight behind it and pulled. His feet left the hull and he would have spun away from the freighter if Freya hadn’t got hold of him.

“Be careful,” she said. “This isn’t like a walk in the park.”

“No,” he agreed. “Nothing like.”

“Bet you wish you were still back at the Abbey tending your garden now, don’t you?” she said, leaning down to finish the job. The airlock door slid open.

“I didn’t work in the garden,” he said inconsequentially.

“Really?” Freya shone her flashlight inside. “Where did you work?”

“The kitchens. And … and the library.”

“Food for brain and belly,” she commented, reaching down into the dark and pulling something out.

Wuh de tyen, ah!” the young man shouted, trying to scramble back.

“He ain’t gonna hurt you,” Freya said, letting the momentum take the body out into space. “He’s been dead a while.”

“What happened to him?” he asked as the body sailed away, turning gently so that he could see it was a young man, about his age, his size, an almost surprised look on his face.

“Explosive decompression.”

“I thought … I always thought bodies blew up when …”

“No. Cells rupture, yes, and the blood in the body boils, but …” She looked at him. “We’ve got live ones to get to, Jethro. Just think on that.”

“Yes. Yes. Of course.”

“I’ll go first,” Freya added dryly. “Make sure there’s no-one else around.”

-

“How long?” Kaylee asked, standing next to Simon on the bridge.

“I don’t know,” he said, putting his arm around her waist and holding her close.

“Not long,” River said, sitting in the co-pilot’s chair and hugging her knees. “Not much air left.”

“They’ll be fine,” Inara said, her own arms tightly around her body. “Fine.”

“Yeah,” Hank added, staring at the freighter.

-

Mal blinked as a flashlight was shone through his faceplate. “Zoe,” he murmured, turning enough so he could see towards the door.

“I think it’s the cavalry, sir,” she said, relief in her voice.

“Doesn’t anyone obey orders around here?” he muttered in response.

There was a flare of light, and one of the metal beams blocking the door was pushed out of the way, spinning lazily in the torchlight.

“It doesn’t seem like it, sir.”

“Well, they’d better hurry,” Jayne grumbled, checking his chronometer. “They’re pushing it.”

“Come on,” Mal said. “We’d better help where we can.” He pushed away from the wall and the three of them moved slowly towards the door.

-

“I can see them,” Freya said, peering through a gap. “They’re alive.”

“Thank Buddha for that,” Hank said, grinning round at the others on the bridge. “Now, about the getting them out of there?”

“We’re working on it.”

“Why are they all in a bunch like that?” Jethro asked, fumbling with the cutting tool but catching it at the last second.

“I’d say they’re sharing air,” Freya replied, using her tools with more skill. “No, that section.” She tapped a different metal beam.

He nodded and began to cut where she’d indicated.

One of the three, Jayne from the bright yellow suit, reached in and grabbed the bar she’d been working on and pulled it free. Both him and it started to circle, stopped only when one of the other two grabbed the wall. There was a big enough gap for her to get her arm through, and she reached out, holding out a new com unit.

Mal, watching her through his face plate, took it from her hand and plugged it into Zoe’s pack, discarding the useless one.

“Mal?” Freya’s voice, somewhat tentative.

“What the diyu are you doing here?” he asked, somewhat angrily.

“Well, I’d say it was a rescue.”

“I told –”

“Mal, just shut up and be rescued. You can go on at me later, okay? When we’re back on board Serenity.”

He didn’t. “And who the hell is that with you?”

“Um, it’s me, Captain,” Jethro said.

“Jethro?” Mal sounded so surprised that Freya had to laugh.

“Maybe we’ve found what he’s good for after all,” she said.

“Oh, I‘ve been praying all the way here,” the young man admitted.

“Frey –”

“Are you going to just hang there like meat waiting to be sold, or are you going to help?” Freya interrupted.

There was silence for a moment, then Mal reached out a hand. “Tell me where to pull.”

The hole expanded quickly, but … “They won’t get out the way we came in,” Jethro said as he continued cutting. “Not the three of them like that.”

“Then we go out through the cargo bay.” Freya glanced down the corridor.

Mal glared out of his faceplate at her, his head starting to pound, their exertions using up the air faster. “We’ll go that way, you go out the airlock.”

“No.” She wouldn’t even look at him.

“There’s no time –”

“Sir, the air –” Zoe tried to slow her breathing down.

Freya turned, looking at her friend, at the paleness of her usually dark skin in the light from the helmet. “No argument,“ she said firmly. “We go together.”

“Explosions? Big boom? Soon?” Jayne said, his eyes wanting to close.

Jethro turned off the torch. “Come on, I think it’s big enough.”

Carefully, letting Freya manoeuvre them, Mal, Zoe and Jayne inched their way past the obstruction, feeling the sharp metal running over the plates on their suits. Then they were in the corridor.

“Freya …” Mal began again, his vision beginning to blur as the CO2 level increased.

“Come on,” she said, taking his arm and pushing off from the wall.

-

Inara, her hand on the back of Hank’s chair, leaned forward. “What was that?” she asked.

“What?” The pilot peered outside.

“That.” She pointed towards the very stern of the freighter.

“Oh, shit,” Hank breathed. He flicked the com switch. “Guys, you’d better hurry it up. It’s started.”

-

“What did he say?” Jayne asked, shaking his head to try and clear the fuzziness.

Freya touched the wall, feeling a vibration. “Jethro.”

The young man nodded, and shoved as hard as he could. Within moments they were in the freighter’s bay, the great ragged tear along her side showing the welcome stars through it. They didn’t stop, but sailed out into space. Serenity hung in front of them, Hank turning her so that the cargo bay doors were directly ahead.

“Just a little power,” he murmured, scooping them up as gently as he could. “Inara, now!”

She slammed down on the bay door control as the five crew members hit the inner airlock.

“Hank, go!” Freya shouted, rolling against the metal so she could just see the detonations tearing the freighter apart as the doors slammed shut.

“My thoughts exactly,” Hank said, pulling the Firefly around and going for full burn. Behind them the freighter exploded, fragments hurling out into the black.

Freya reached out and managed to press the switch for artificial gravity, very welcome if slightly awkward as they all fell to the floor. “Jethro, help me,” she said, crawling across to the other three still connected by the emergency tubing. She reached Jayne first as Jethro helped Zoe, but he waved her away, putting his own hands up to release his helmet.

“I can do it,” he muttered, fumbling with the catches.

She turned to the next. Mal. His eyes were closed, his face was grey, lips pinker than they should be as she reached around his neck with trembling fingers. There was a click and the side catches gave. Carefully she lifted the helmet from his head. He took a great shuddering breath.

“Mal?” she said softly.

He opened his eyes, a little blearily, but he looked at her. “This what you meant by love, honour and obey?”

She smiled shakily, taking off her own helmet. “I don’t seem to recall anything in there about obeying.”

Zoe groaned. “Please, sir. Not right now.”

Mal grinned weakly and looked over at Jethro, still fiddling with his helmet until Zoe reached up and helped. “Looks like River was right,” he said. “You were useful to us after all.”

“Glad to be of help,” Jethro said, leaning back against the inner doors. “Can I throw up now?”

“Everyone okay?” came Hank’s rather anxious voice over the com.

Zoe answered for them all. “We’re fine, dear.”

“Great!” The relief in his voice was palpable.

“Get us on course for Beylix,” Mal ordered. “Time to get paid.”

-

River was sitting in the galley, her legs drawn up onto the chair as she read at the table.

“What’s that?” Jethro asked, stepping down carefully into the galley.

“Retromechanics and the Quantum Theory. It‘s historical.” She put her head on one side. “Are you all right?”

He sat down opposite her. “Just feeling a little queasy still.”

“Have you seen my brother about it?”

He nodded, then wished he hadn’t. “He’s given me a shot, but said it’s mostly in my mind.”

“He says that a lot. Mostly to me.” She smiled at him.

“I imagine he does.”

“Would you like a drink?”

“Please. Water would be good.”

She got up and glided to the counter, getting a glass out from the cupboard. “I’m glad to see you’re okay,” she said over her shoulder.

“Thank you.” He watched her turn on the faucet. “Why did you ask if I wanted a drink?”

“Because I wanted to know.” She brought the glass back and put it in front of him.

“No, I mean, why didn’t you just look?” He tapped his temple. “In here?”

She sat down, lifting her legs back onto the chair. “Because you don’t like it. Because it’s not right. Because it’s rude. Because it’s –”

“I get the idea.” He sat forward. “River, what you did, communicating with the Captain like that … is it what you are?”

“I don’t know what I am,” she admitted, picking up her book again. “It’s part of what I am. But I think there’s more.”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure there is,” Jethro agreed. “But you saw into his mind?”

“Yes.”

“What did you see?”

She looked at him, her dark eyes so intense, so … “His concern. His love for his crew. For his wife and child. His guilt over all the men he couldn’t save. And the fear.”

“Fear?”

“That he can’t protect us. That we’ll go the way of the others.”

“Others?”

“Not yet,” River said.

“Was … one of them a Preacher?”

“Yes.”

“The one we spoke of back at Bathgate Abbey?”

She nodded. “Shepherd Book.”

“He … the Captain said he killed him. Did he?”

“No. But he thinks he did.”

“I don’t understand.”

“We help each other on board Serenity,” River said softly. “Save each other.”

“Then I’m glad I could be of assistance.” He really didn’t understand, but the nausea was prickling at him again. He picked up his water and got to his feet. “I think I’d better lie down for a while.”

“I’ll call you when it’s time for dinner.”

Jethro put a hand to his stomach. “No, please, that won’t be necessary.” He turned and left the galley.

River watched him go, her eyes dark and full of confusion. This wasn’t it. Whatever was going to happen, whatever the reason was for him being here, this wasn’t it. But she still couldn’t see what it was …

-

Mal lay on his chest, his shirt discarded on the counter, while Simon checked over the burn on his back.

“This gonna be another scar?” he asked, then jerked. “Ow!”

“Just checking the nerve damage hadn’t gone further than it appeared,” the young doctor said, putting down the probe he’d just poked the captain with. “And yes, you’ll have another scar to add to your collection. I’d say you had one of each now.”

“Don’t you go getting tetchy with me, doc,” Mal said. “I’m still captain here.”

“Laser burns, bullet holes, knife wounds, sword thrusts, and now frostbite … about the only one you don’t have is stretch marks from giving birth.” He pressed a weave carefully down. “There. You’ll live.”

“Good,” Freya said from the doorway. “And is there anyway we can rectify that stretch mark thing?”

Simon grinned at her. “Let me look into it.”

Mal sat up and turned to look at his wife. “You think I should get pregnant next time?” he asked.

“Well, turnabout is fair play,” she said, moving closer to him.

“If I could …” He smiled at her then climbed carefully from the medbed. “Thanks, Simon.”

“You’re welcome,” the young man said. “And don’t forget to come back for another shot in the morning.”

“Shot?” Freya asked, looking from one to the other.

“They all got a dose of radiation,” Simon explained. “I’m just making sure it clears their system.”

Freya made a big show of taking a step backwards. “He’s gonna glow in the dark?”

“Well, that could be interesting, but no.”

“Pity.”

“Hey, this is me we’re talking about!” Mal put in. “Ain’t no way I wanna glow in the dark.”

“I’d be able to find you though, wouldn’t I?” Freya said, stepping close again and putting her hand on his bare chest.

“Hey, I ain’t forgiven you yet for disobeying orders,” Mal said, pushing her away. “I told you to leave us.”

She looked at him, her eyebrows raised. “Did you?” she asked innocently.

“You know I did. Through River.”

“Oh. Was that what you said?” She smiled. “River wasn’t being very coherent at the time. She must have got it wrong.”

Mal glared at her, then his gaze softened. “I’m glad you did, though.” He pulled her close.

“Disobey orders?”

“Mmn. Just don’t do it again.” He leaned down and kissed her lightly.

“If you say so, captain,” she said, smiling.

“Oh, go,” Simon said, making shooing motions. “You’re cluttering up my sickbay, and I have things to do.”

“Simon …” Kaylee stopped in the doorway. “Oh. Sorry.” She grinned, but her face was a little flushed.

“You okay, mei-mei?” Mal asked, reaching for his shirt.

“Shiny, Cap’n,” she said brightly. “Just want a …a word with my husband here.”

“Just don’t keep him too long.” Mal smiled. “Seems like he has things to do.”

“I won’t.”

Mal walked out of the infirmary, Freya a pace behind. She paused as she passed Kaylee, and reached down to lift her hand. There was a thermometer in it. Kaylee blushed even more.

Freya glanced at Simon. “Oh, yes, doc, I think you have things to do indeed.” She grinned and followed her husband.

“What was all that about?” Mal asked as they headed up towards their bunk, buttoning his shirt as he went.

“Oh, just think they’re going to be a bit … noisy for a while.”

Mal stopped and stared at her, then glared down towards the infirmary. “You mean they’re gonna sully my –”

She stopped him with a hand on his lips. “And I don’t know why you’re getting dressed again,” she said conversationally. “I feel like making a bit of noise myself.” She felt him grin under her fingertips.

“Woman, you are incorrigible.”

“Absolutely,” she agreed.

“Can I at least make sure we’re on our way to Beylix?”

“Depends on how long it takes you.” She put her hand on the bare skin over his shoulder blade under his shirt as he climbed the last of the stairs, scratching him ever so lightly.

“Just a …” He shivered. “I mean, I could just shout it down the corridor on the way.”

“Good idea.”

“And I was thinking about giving Jethro a share. Since he went and saved our lives, and all.”

“I was going to suggest it.”

“Really.”

“Afterwards.”

“After what?” He leaned on the wall outside their bunk.

She grinned. “Just get down there and shut up.”

---

COMMENTS

Thursday, February 8, 2007 2:14 AM

GIRLFAN


Definately looking forward to the epilogue. And it's nice when everyone gets their fair share... of the noise.

Thursday, February 8, 2007 3:00 AM

AMDOBELL


Absolutely loved this! I am very partical to the Mal/Freya dynamic and the rescue was really beautifully done and in the best tradition of high drama they got save just in the nick of time! I'm wondering what Jethro is there for if not to help save them, but then maybe he is there for River after all? Lovely work, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 8, 2007 3:02 AM

AMDOBELL


Ooops, that should have said 'partial' not 'partical', damn my dyslexic fingers. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 8, 2007 7:42 AM

TAMSIBLING


Shiny rescue! I really hope Kaylee and Simon can get pregnant again - I know it's killing her that she's been unable to conceive.

And I find Jethro's place on board quite interesting ... at first I thought he might just be a love interest for River, but now, I'm not so sure! I can't wait for the epilogue either!

Thursday, February 8, 2007 2:18 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...I got me a rather interesting idea of what Jethro is there for. Could be out to lunch, but I get the feeling Jayne and Jethro got some bonding to do that will play a part in something heroic later on down the road...

Still...great chapter, Jane0904! Definitely gotta agree with AMDOBELL and the crew pulling the BDR off in the nick of time, cuz it was definitely TV-worthy in its tension:D

BEB


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