BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Ghosts from the Past - Part One
Friday, April 13, 2007

Badger has a job for Serenity that is far from easy. 4th fanfic featuring the usual post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Constructive criticism or comments are always welcome. Part 1 of 4.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1732    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Mal was lying on his bed with his hands under his head, contemplating nothing in particular. It was hard to imagine that it was only a week ago he thought he had lost everything, and now he was back in his quarters which, apart from being ransacked, had not changed a bit. The whole event still worried him some though, particularly when he contemplated how easy it had been. There was a knock at the hatch to his quarters and he shouted for whoever it was to enter. Bane climbed down the ladder. She tended to wear big heavy boots and was inclined to make a noise going about the place, unless she was doing that gymnastic stuff, he presumed. “Morning Cap’n. I wanted to ask if I’ve time to go on a little shopping spree while you pick up that job from Badger?” “Don’t have time for you girls to be picking up dresses,” he said, walking over to his desk. “Not that kinda spree,” answered Bane, nose twitching a little in annoyance. “Was goin’ to start on a batch of EMP grenades an’ some other tricks – need to buy some raw materials.” “Oh, right. Yes. I’ve had two waves from Monty – been meanin’ to say.” “How much does he want?” asked Bane. “Two crates of those grenades and,” Mal chuckled, “One crate of tricks of whatever you choose.” Bane was confused. “I don’t understand.” Mal smiled, remembering Monty’s latest wave. “He wants to be surprised. He’ll give us a hundred per box of grenades and then another hundred and fifty for the unknown crate. Seems he has a lot of faith in you.” Bane’s eyebrows raised and then she smiled. “I’m sure I can come up with something to make the old goat smile,” said Bane, earning a laugh from Mal. The platinum was lower than she had received before, but at least she knew the source was reliable and she trusted Mal to make a good bargain. “Good. Well, you can have three hours – an’ take Jayne with you – keep him out of trouble.” “Thanks, Mal,” she said, not entirely sure Jayne would be of any use. Before turning to go, she needed to ask another question of Mal. “I’m workin’ on something else as well. Might need to do some field experiments for range testing and such.” “I conjure this can’t be done on the ship an’ it could make us some money?” he asked and Bane nodded. “In that case, when we do the drop with Monty – I’ll make sure it’s a suitable place to do your testing. He may even want to join in.” ~ * ~ Mal was not certain what Badger’s job was, so when they landed at Eavesdown they did not tout for passengers. He left Simon, River and Kaylee on board a closed ship, much to their protests, but he was not taking any chances just yet. Maybe there would be a time when he could leave the ship unattended again, but it would not be just yet. He took Zoe and Karl with him to see Badger as Jayne could be a mite unpredictable when it came to dealing with the gangster, and he would rather have Karl’s stoic and menacing presence, rather than Jayne’s gung-ho one. Bane may not be pleased with having his company instead, but fortunately she would do as she was ordered. Badger’s henchmen gave them the usual minimal tour of his lodgings, before they arrived at his office. Badger was there, dressed in his customary dapper manner. “Finally got rid o’ that ape Jayne then, mate? Good call, I say.” Although Badger’s cockney accent never rankled on Mal, Zoe had always intensely disliked the accent, and the man. “Got Jayne occupied elsewhere today,” replied Mal easily. “What you got for us, Badger?” “No more pleasantries then, Mal? What’s it comin’ to when friends can’t sit down and chat wiv each uva.” It was clear Badger was in no hurry, so Mal sat in one of the indicated chairs and Zoe in the other. Karl remained standing. “’E looks like a bloody yeti! That why you ‘ired him – to frighten people away?” Karl was not easily riled and besides, a number of his former employers had dealt with Badger before, so he was familiar with his winning personality, as well as his methods. “Not working on you ‘parently,” said Mal. He knew his relaxed flippancy was what pissed off Badger most and he enjoyed seeing the frown pass across his brow. Mal had already worked out that Badger wanted something from him, which was why he was being all nice. Badger leaned back in his chair and toyed with the device on his desk. He had got himself another gadget to play with, a mini ball-bearing maze, as he had grown tired of the apple peeler. “Got an easy one for yer. Friend of mine needs transport. Need to make sure ‘e gets back safe, like.” Mal folded his arms, more than a little peeved at Badger. Nothing was ever that simple or easy, so he decided to play dumb. “Plenty of boats toutin’ for passengers on the docks. Why not get one of them to give him a lift?” “’E ain’t on Persephone, ‘e’s on Beaumonde. Job is to collect ‘im then bring ‘im back ‘ere.” Mal could tell from Badger’s manner that it was not all shiny and legal, because he would not look him in the eye. He could feel Zoe bristling next to him, but Mal had played this game before, too many times. “What’s he carryin’?” he asked. Badger admitted nothing. “Let’s just say you’ll be ‘is protection. ‘E don’t reach ‘ere in one piece wiv ‘is goods, you don’t get paid.” “Sir –“ started Zoe, but Mal ignored her, wanting more details. “That’s a lot of conditions. What’s he carryin’?” said Mal. He glanced at Zoe, enough to tell her that he was well aware that this was smellier than a cargo hold full of cattle or settlers. “A small but important package. Like I said, you get paid when ‘e’s standin’ in fronta me.” “It better be a whole lot of worth it. All that secrecy is like to get me and my people a wealth of trouble.” Badger pressed his hands together meditatively. He disliked Mal, mainly because he was a boy scout with pretensions to rise above him, but the man could get himself out of almost any trouble and that was the kind of person he needed on this job. Of course he would never tell him that. “It’s wurf fifteen hundred platinum to yer,” Badger stated carefully, and smiled when he heard the collective intake of breaths, even from the blond yeti. “That’s a big sum,” stated Mal. Although he knew he would get an earful from Zoe as soon as they left, he saw no reason to turn Badger down on a highly lucrative job. If Zoe wanted safe then she could buy her own ship, nothing was safe in this ‘verse and the prairie run had proved that point clearly. They, no he, had been careless. At least with a more dangerous job they would be more cautious from the start. ~ * ~ Bane had spent a surprisingly fun couple of hours buying bits, pieces, parts and wires with Jayne. She had been taught at an early age by her mother to construct munitions using common and non-threatening materials. Jayne proved to have a flair for bargaining and she managed to get some excellent deals. She was sure it was nothing to do with the fact that he had looked like he would rip off their heads and spit down their throats if they refused. Jayne had been impressed with the ease that Bane jumped into the character of a dizzy prairie harpy in order to seem like she was buying too much unnecessarily. Their last stop was the junkyard and here he watched as she became an Eavesdown shipyard mechanic, whose boss had sent her out to get some parts, but was too stingy to buy things new. Jayne was confused and after they drove away with a laden mule, he had to say something. “Why on earth did you put on all those acts? Surely no one can conjure what you’re up to.” Bane, who was sat behind him on the mule, shrugged in habit although it was unnecessary. “I’m used to bein’ careful. If I bought all these goods at the same store, even the most amateur engineer or Fed could spot their purpose. Not one of those sellers could now describe me in the same way, so if a body did come lookin’ they wouldn’t know I was the same person.” She had to shout in his ear as they were passing an all day nightclub. “Now, as you’ve been such a help, how would you like to meet some more of my relatives?” She was lucky she could not see Jayne’s expression, but she directed him to where Lee Shoo Pye’s family lived, about fifteen minutes jaunt from the docks. Although Jayne tried to insist he should stay with all the gear they had bought – not entirely comfortable with meeting more Pyes – Bane directed him to park in a small garage and cajoled him across the busy road. Lee Shoo’s family owned one of the largest food markets in this part of the planet. Because they were near the docks they got a busy trade in ships stores and settlers. Bane went in and the first person she saw was Margaret Pye, Lee Shoo’s mother, and her aunt. Margaret threw up her hands and charged past customers, down the store to engulf her niece in a big hug. “Bane, so wonderful to see you. You just missed your brother – he was here about a week ago.” Margaret had a tendency to talk incessantly, so she waited for her to take a breath before introducing Jayne. “This is someone I crew with from Serenity, Jayne Cobb.” Margaret eyed him maternally and then held out her hand which Jayne shook. “Please to meet you, Ma’am,” he said, bowing his head politely. “Call me Margaret,” she replied, flustered at his good manners. “Now, let’s go upstairs for some tea.” On their way through the store, she shouted instructions to various staff to carry on in her absence. Margaret ran her own tight ship, but it was on a lot larger scale than Serenity. “We can’t stay long,” Bane managed to say. “Only about half an hour or so. Captain Reynolds only gave us three hours shore leave.” Margaret charged up the stairs with them both in tow and flung open the door to the living quarters. Jayne blinked on entering, adjusting to the surroundings. Compared with the clinical neatness of the market, their home was chaotic but comfortable, kind of reminding him of his own home, which he had left so long ago. Margaret’s husband, Lo, was reading a digital broadsheet out on a small balcony looking relaxed and at peace, until his wife’s voice made him jump up. Bane went over and hugged him and they talked while Margaret went off to make the tea. Jayne stood uncomfortably in the middle of the room looking edgily around, until he was introduced. “I said this to Tony when he came to see us, but I’ll say it to you as well,” said Lo. “Thanks for the wave you sent us about Lee – it meant a lot,” his voice was clearly trying to hold his emotions in check. Bane hugged him again, but could not find the appropriate words. “I’m sorry, Uncle Lo. I feel responsible,” she said, her eyes watering at his warm and kind manner. Lo’s warm elderly face showed shock. “Why on earth do you feel responsible? Tony told us what happened an’ you could not know the Reavers would attack. If we felt either of you were to blame we would never have let Anna sign up with Tony.” Bane was surprised, Anna Shoo Pye was one of Lee’s older sisters. “I never thought she wanted to be a spacer,” she replied in wonderment. “Her brother’s death made her realise she wanted to see more of the ‘verse, I guess,” said Margaret, coming into the room with the tea, and with a quick glance at Jayne, she added, “’Sides there aren’t any ‘legible men in Eavesdown.” Margaret was dying to have grandchildren and so far all her own offspring had declined to get themselves hitched. Failing that, she was keen on getting her favourite (and only) niece set up. “You have a lovely home, Mrs Pye,” said Jayne, earning himself a shocked look from Bane. She had no idea he could be so house trained. Margaret, pleased at seeing Bane in the company of such a good looking and well mannered man, piled his plate full of the cake which she had brought out as well. Bane had good cause to flush in the following forty five minutes, as Margaret did not mince her words when it came to seeing her niece happy. Jayne too kept feeling like his collar was getting tighter, even though he was only wearing a t-shirt. Although completely different in appearance, Margaret Pye was scarily like his own mother in temperament and personality. To divert her he kept trying to involve Lo Pye in the conversation, but the man seemed happy to just sit and listen. “So, if you’re not with this lovely young man here,” Margaret smiled sweetly at Jayne. “Tell me who else there is on Serenity to capture your interest.” “Auntie Marge! Stop trying to set me up,” she retorted, somewhat mortified. Bane usually took her matchmaking good-naturedly, because her Auntie had been trying to fix her up for years, but doing it in front of Jayne was most embarrassing. In fact, she was sure she was starting to feel a sweat patch on her back. Jayne, now that the pressure was off him, was having fun. He loved seeing Bane squirm and spoke for her. “Well ma’am. There’s the Cap’n and Karl and then the Doc, but he’s spoken for.” Bane was giving him an evil stare, but he just starred back, grinning. “Captain – well now,” said Margaret, smiling encouragingly at Bane. “I think we better go, time’s running out,” she said, but Jayne carried on. “Course I think Karl would be most suitable,” he continued, “On account that they get on so well. Cap’n kinda has a thing for a Companion at any rate.” Margaret was not born yesterday and could now tell that she was being riled, and now Bane decided to give Jayne a taste of his own medicine. “Jayne’s kinda spoken for anyways, Auntie, with cousin Corren,” she smirked in gleeful revenge at his horrified face. “Corren,” repeated Margaret, running rapidly through her head the various confusing bloodlines. “She one of the Pyes on Haven?” “That’s right,” replied Bane eagerly. “Heard she was a mite feisty,” said Margaret, hiding her laughing expression from her niece. “You be mindful, won’t you, young man?” she told Jayne, her voice full of concern. Bane could not believe what she was hearing and her mouth dropped open. “Yes, ma’am,” said Jayne with big grin. ~ * ~ Serenity lifted off from Eavesdown three and a half hours after landing, course set for Beaumonde, which was about three days hard burn. Beaumonde was a core planet, wealthy and settled. Badger had said that the passenger, called Mitchell, would meet them in a bar called the Broken Leg in the West Sheldon docks. Bane had returned to find the Captain in a full blown row with Zoe after which they both had stomped off to different parts of the ship. Karl filled both her and Jayne in on the particulars of the job, especially the part where their passenger was likely slipperier than the thighs of a cheap whore. Bane decided it was best that she stay out of the way of any Mal and Zoe conflict and concentrate on fulfilling Monty’s order. Her quarters were now packed with all the junk and parts she had bought earlier. In the last few days, Kaylee had kindly helped her create a removable and secret panel for the storage of everything which apparently was part of the old venting system of the ship, before it had been upgraded. She organised the purchases and then sat down and started stripping the parts, wires and appliances she had bought. She kept glancing over at her desk where she was still making notes on her little experiment. She would have liked to carry on with that, but business first, pleasure later. She had put the com on and was playing music, little realising that the hours were passing. There was a knock at the hatch which she did not hear so he knocked harder. Bane shouted for whoever it was to come in and watched Karl climb down the ladder with a plate of food and some cider. “We ain’t seen you for hours, so I thought I would bring you something to eat.” Bane cleared a chair of parts so he could sit down. She took the plate and only then realised how hungry she was. She started to wolf down the food and spoke to Karl with her mouth full. “What’s the time?” “Near two in the mornin’,” replied Karl, shaking his head. He had not been in Bane’s quarters before and although he was pretty sure it might normally be cosy, all the floor space was now covered in, well, crap. “You havin’ fun?” Bane grinned with a mouthful of rice. Her hands and arms were black and there were smudges on her face and clothes. She swallowed quickly before talking again. “Just finishing off the strippin’, then there’s the cleanin’. Then I can start creatin’.” “You really enjoy this stuff, don’t you?” said Karl. Bane shrugged but smiled. “It’s something I can do an’ I do enjoy the creatin’ part. ‘Sides I wanna finish these grenades off quick, so I can get back to my little project,” she nodded in the direction of her desk. Karl stood up and walked over. There was the gun she had bought off Jayne and various other bits of metal. There was also a large notebook and at first Karl thought his eyesight was failing. He picked it up and showed her. “This ain’t Chinese.” Bane swallowed another mouthful, already having almost finished the dish. “It’s a kind of shorthand that my Ma taught me. Means I can write all my notes without anyone bein’ able to read them.” “Why not just digitise and encrypt it? Be easier.” “’Cos that’s traceable and there’ll always be someone who can decode it. Least with this there’s only me that knows how to read it.” Bane scrapped the last of the rice from the bowl and set it on the bed. “What’s your experiment then?” Karl asked curiously. It had been a long time since Bane had someone interested in her creations – her mother had been the last – and she temporarily forgot about the grenades, wiped her mouth with her oily hand and walked over to the desk. “Got the idea on that drop with Monty when I got shot in the head.” She picked up the gun. “I’m working on miniature EMP grenades.” Karl caught on quickly. “EMP bullets.” “Yes, that’s right.” Bane picked up a few of the trial ones. “Impressive,” he said. “But won’t they disintegrate on impact?” Karl had never imagined that a single person could create something so miniature and delicate, always assuming that kind of things was made by machines. “Well that’s the hard part. Think I’ve got it cracked now though. Made the front casing from harder metal. There’s a tiny pressure switch that sends out the pulse on impact.” She was animated and enthusiastic as she held up a small half-finished bullet. “What’s the range?” said Karl taking it from her. It was about the girth of his little finger only shorter. She was definitely an artist. “Ah,” said Bane coming back to reality. “I don’t actually know yet. It’s too dangerous to do the tests on board Serenity. Mal’s said I can do some field experiments when we next meet up with Monty.” “Hence the batch of grenades,” said Karl with a nod in that direction. Bane grinned. “Yep, hence the batch of grenades.” “Need any help?” Karl’s offer was genuine as he was not tired, but Mal and Zoe had appeared in the galley circling each other warily and Jayne had gone to bed. He wanted to give them a wide berth if they had not made up yet. He had never seen them last this long without apologies, but then he had served on Serenity less than a year. “If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty,” replied Bane. She would have liked to carry on alone, but she could see that Karl wanted the company. ~ * ~ Mal woke early the next morning in a fouler mood than he had gone to bed in, he did not like being mad at Zoe and every time he had tried to talk to her, she had bitten his head off. He could never bring himself to enter her quarters to talk, knowing it would be like invading her sanctuary. All he could do was wait for her to surface. He finished his morning ministrations and went up the ladder. He was treated to a view of Karl coming out of Bane’s quarters. Not having had his coffee and feeling more than cantankerous he lashed out. “What the ruttin’ hell is going on? You certainly move–“ he stopped mid-sentence when Mal noticed the state of Karl’s hands and arms and the smudges on his face. He could not see his facial expression because of all that gorram hair. Mal realised that Karl had not been doing anything inappropriate so he straightened his back, scratched his head and cleared his throat. “Need coffee,” was all he said by way of an apology. Karl had no energy to respond to the Captain’s bluster. He was going straight to his bed, Bane may be able to keep going like she was wired into the engine, but he not. He opened the hatch to his bunk and climbed down. Karl relieved himself and then washed his hands in the sink, scrubbing hard to get rid of most of the oil. His bed looked real inviting. The Captain’s assumptions had rankled him a bit. He would freely admit that Bane had her attractions as a single and available woman, but he reckoned that was because she was the only free and available woman on Serenity. Him, Mal and Jayne were free and available men. In his thinking he did not reckon on River being in the same available category as Bane, because in his eyes she was still a girl, albeit a talented one. Besides, the last time he had got involved with a fellow crew member he had ended up in jail. Karl rolled over with a groan and after a few deep breaths was sound asleep. ~ * ~ Zoe had attempted to go up the ladder in her quarters several times before actually going through with it. She was more angry at herself than Mal. She had not liked the smell of this job, but Mal had been right, the safe ones were no longer guaranteed to go any smoother than the difficult ones. What had made her angry was the enthusiasm with which he took Badger’s job – like it was candy. Zoe did not choose danger, but would react instinctively if it came. Mal was now choosing danger. She sighed, there was no getting away from it, she had to speak to him. Luckily he was still the only one in the galley when she arrived. Zoe sat down opposite Mal’s stony face, but his temper was gradually melting away with the coffee. “I apologise, Cap’n, but I still don’t like it.” “Knew that when I looked at you in Badger’s office,” he replied. “You seem real keen to get us sewn up into the most almighty trouble.” Mal shrugged. “Don’t make a difference no more,” he put down his cup. “In case you hadn’t noticed, Zoe, it seems the easier the job the more we get humped.” Zoe did not rise to Mal’s cutting remark. “Yes, I had noticed, but that’s still no reason to run out and get the most rancid ones going.” “Least it means we’ll be more careful.” Zoe could not disagree anyone, she was too tired of fighting against him. It was so much easier to work with Mal and be there for him. “So how do you want to play it?” she said, and saw Mal’s shoulders relax. His relief was evident and Zoe felt warmth again towards her friend. They had been through years of jobs and war together and she could never stay mad at him for long. “I don’t want to make any plans at this stage ‘cept that we meet Mitchell in the bar an’ then get him to come with us to the ship.” “Sounds simple,” replied Zoe, and Mal pushed out a short laugh. “Who do we take into the bar?” she continued. “Badger’s set us up to meet the man in two days at ten pm. I want some of us in there couple of hours before, checking it out and making sure there’s nothin’ else going down that would distract us.” “How about Bane and Jayne?” said Zoe. Mal winced. “Those names rhyming together give me the chills,” he said. Zoe laughed and got up to make some coffee for herself. She was relieved that things were back to normal between them and told herself that she should try not to get so touchy next time. Like she remembered Bane saying, they were all just trying to scrape a living in this ‘verse and there were lots of ways of doing that; Mal’s way was just one of them. “How about Karl and Jayne then?” She put her nose in the mug and inhaled the delicious smelling steam. Mal shook his head. “They’ve both got good instincts, but this bar is likely to be filled with scantily clad women. Better make it Karl and Bane. She’ll spot anything that might be a problem.”

COMMENTS

Sunday, April 15, 2007 3:16 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Well now...gotta say that seeing Mal and Zoe all kinds of pissed at one another is ten kinds of interesting. And possibly the Washburne type of interesting at that;)

Excellent stuff here, hermitsrest. Definitely loving the evolving crew dynamic and the moments of humour here over unexpected events. Like Jayne actually acting something resembling house-trained;)

BEB


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