BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Ghosts from the Past - Part Four
Monday, April 16, 2007

With a crew member’s secret revealed will Mal let them stay on board? It’s time for Serenity to return to Persephone but someone knows who they are. 4th fanfic featuring the usual post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Constructive criticism or comments are always welcome. Part 4 of 4.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1823    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

It was Mal that immediately took control of the situation. Karl’s resemblance to Wash was hideously uncanny. He went walked straight up to him so that his face was but a few inches from Karl’s. “This would be where you have some explainin’ to do, but now is not the time, as the Feds are likely to check docked ships first. Get in the smugglers panel.” Bane was still looking around confused as to why Zoe had called the name of her dead husband. But there were other pressing concerns now. She touched Mal’s sleeve so that his attention was diverted from Karl. “They managed to get a good look at me too, Captain. If any of those prison guards are on the searches I might be humped.” “In you go too then,” he replied without sympathy. “It’ll be cramped in there.” Bane crawled in first, followed by Karl and then Mitchell. Mal fixed the panel behind them. “Zoe. Zoe! Go up to the cockpit and monitor the cortex. See what’s been flagged. Jayne, go to Jian Li Street. I give you permission to ogle the dancers and whores as long as you keep an ear out to what is going on.” The three of them heard the cargo bay grow empty and silent. Bane wanted more than anything to know what the gorram hell was going on. Karl sensed it in the darkness. “Leave it, Bane, now’s not the time. Let’s just get some sleep, shall we?” She would not have kept quiet at his say-so, had it not been for the emotion she heard in his voice. “Who can sleep in this rat trap,” muttered Mitchell in response. There was just enough space for him to lie alongside Karl with Bane curled up at the end. She rubbed her wrist and flexed her fingers and then tried to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. Karl was the only one who did not manage any sleep that night. ~ * ~ Serenity left atmo a day and a half later. The ship had been searched by Feds from the prison and they had not found anything, nor had they been hunting particularly hard. Fortunately three of the prisoners had been recovered which accounted for their lack of diligence and their later release; all ships had been land locked until they had been searched. Kaylee and Jayne had moved all of Bane’s tricks into the secret panel in her room and Mal had searched Karl’s room for anything incriminating, as well as wanting to have a nose around. More than anything he wanted to ring his rutting neck. When he had gone to the cockpit later on the night of the escape he had found Zoe crying, sitting in Wash’s chair. There was nothing he could do to comfort her so he had left her alone. Mal went down and unscrewed the panel to let the jailbirds out. For the last day or so the three of them had only been allowed out for bathroom breaks and a quick bite to eat, before Mal had them climb back in again. “Nice to finally be out of there, mate,” said Mitchell but Mal ignored him, only having eyes for Karl. “Cockpit, now,” he said, and Karl followed behind him as they went up the stairs. Bane was left to crawl out last and re-attach the panel. She showed Mitchell to the guest quarters and washroom before going to see the doc about her wrist. Once they had reached the cockpit, Mal shut the door behind them. Zoe was already there, as well as River who was at the controls. “Now, you get to explain jus’ who the ruttin’ hell you are.” Karl sighed heavily. He had not expected this to come out at all and would have been a whole lot more reticent about returning to jail, if he had realised or remembered their procedures. If the prison had not shaved him then they would still not know who he was. He was awful tired as well. Zoe looked like she had not slept either, and his heart went out to her when he thought about how this all looked to them. “Hobe – Hoban – was my little brother. By the time he got to be grown I’d already left home.” Mal interrupted him angrily. “Leave the bleedin’ heart stuff for the rest of them. I wanna know how you come to be on this ship.” Karl did not rise to the baiting Mal was giving him, but kept his voice calm and his eyes on Zoe. “You hired me after I helped you out in a U-Day brawl. I dint know who Zoe was ‘til I was on board an’ I made the connection. I desperately needed the job and you needed a gun hand. Once I’d settled in, I thought ‘bout sayin’ something, but there was no easy way of doing that without reckoning I would lose my job. Truth is I like it here. You don’t treat your crew like it’s expendable. Wasn’t about to jeopardise all that by proclaimin’ who I was when it was obviously a sore topic.” “Well you’ve jeopardised it now. Once we get to Persephone you can find yourself another crew. I don’t take kindly to bein’ lied to and neither does Zoe. Go start packin’ and sayin’ your goodbyes.” Karl was upset, but he was damned if he would let Mal see it. Up until this point Zoe had been silent but now she spoke quietly, keeping her emotions in check. “I think he should stay, Cap’n.” Mal looked at her, trying to gauge her thoughts. He had asked Karl to leave on account of how it would bring up bad memories for Zoe, not on account of how he felt. Karl could not believe he was hearing, but was willing to strengthen his case - anything to stay on board Serenity. “I met Hobe later when we happened to be in the same prison for a spell during the war. We dint keep in touch ‘cept for the one parcel I got from him after your wedding. He sent me a capture of it, but I lost it soon after. I know he was happy though an’ he said he wouldn’t change his life on Serenity for all the riches in the ‘verse.” Both Mal and Zoe could not speak, but Mal was still not sure he was telling the truth. “He is telling the truth, Captain,” put in River, sensing it was time for her contribution. “Jacobsson is Wash and Karl’s mother’s name. He used it the first time he got arrested because he felt so ‘shamed.” Karl’s mouth had dropped open and River briefly held his gaze. She could read him now, his own shame of the life he had lived had kept the walls up. Mal looked at Zoe and in their familiar silent communication she gave her consent. “Okay. As Zoe said, you can stay. But this is on her say so. You are here on her whim now. You piss her off an’ she wants you gone, I won’t object.” Karl nodded, relieved, but fighting exhaustion as well. Now that Mal had dealt with one problem, he was off to deal with another. “Now I have Mitchell to deal with. Excuse me.” “I’m sorry,” Karl said after Mal left. Zoe still could not believe how alike and unalike he was to Wash. He had the same jaw line and eyes, but it was like he was an imperfect mutation of the real thing. Karl was taller and uglier than her man had been. “They’ll be plenty of time after we drop Mitchell off for us to discuss this further. Right now I think you better get some sleep, you look like you are about to collapse.” “Thank you,” he said, voice raw with emotion, and left. When he went to climb down into his quarters he noticed the hatch was already open. Bane was sitting in the armchair waiting for an explanation. “Can’t we leave this until later? I’m real tired.” He was already sitting on the edge of his bed pulling off his boots. “We’re all tired, and sore, being cramped up in a tiny space for near two days. I still want to know what the ruttin’ hell is going on. Won’t take but a few words.” Karl sighed, seeing that Bane was not going to leave until he said something. He lay back on his bunk and looked up at the ceiling. “Zoe’s husband was my little brother.” Whatever thoughts had gone over in Bane’s head, it had not been that. She took it in without saying anything else, imagining the confrontation that had just taken place. “Have you been fired?” she found she did not really want to know the answer. Karl was one of the newcomers like herself and it was something they had in common, when the others a whole pile of history and stories together. Karl turned his head to look at her, seeing the concern. She had dark circles around her eyes and their rims were red, he probably looked in the same state. Bane yawned a great cracking yawn but still waited patiently for him to answer. “No. It seems that Zoe wants me to stay,” he said sleepily, going back to looking at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and then opened them again, his lids were very heavy. They were both asleep within seconds, one on the bed, the other in the chair. At some point Bane woke up, not recognising where she was. When she did, she crept up the ladder and fell into her own bed. ~ * ~ Things were awkward for most of the trip back to Persephone, until Kaylee insisted that Karl tell her at dinner about how Wash was as a child. Karl glanced at Zoe for her consent and she gave an imperceptible nod. Whatever they felt about the situation there was now a shared bond between them, he was her brother-in-law. “I only really knew Hobe as a child,” he began. “I always viewed him as rather a runt,” he added with another quick look at Zoe. “As soon as he was able, he followed me around everywhere. He never stopped talking though – that I do remember.” Kaylee looked worriedly at Zoe who was now smiling. She knew it helped to get things out in the open, secrets were not healthy. Wash had been a good person and talking about him would help all of them get over his death easier. “It’s so strange to hear you call him Hobe. We only knew him as Wash,” she said. Simon was still getting his head around everything that had gone on. Lately he had been feeling like he was the last to know everything. Jayne just kept staring at his friend. “Hell, I still can’t believe you’re related,” stated Jayne. “Neither can I,” added Mal. He and Zoe had a private word later that day. Zoe had actually been quite comforted about Karl’s new identity – it meant that she was no longer suspicious of him. When Karl had all that hair, she was not even sure Wash would have recognised him, but then Karl had said that it had been over ten years since they had last met. Mal’s anger at being deceived had dissipated and Zoe wondered ruefully if he still planned to play cupid between Karl and Bane. “Got me some competition with the ladies now you got yourself all spruced up,” muttered Jayne. “Now you might have to work on your personality.” said River cheekily. Mitchell had not felt inclined to talk much, realising he was the outsider. He was just glad to be off Beaumonde, as sooner or later Winters or one of his goons would have caught up with him and then he would be a dead man – after they had got the whereabouts of the diamond off him of course. He had never expected a jailbreak though, that had been genius. Badger had really come through for him this time. He wished he could have used this crew to steal the thing in the first place, would have likely saved himself a whole lot of trouble. * * * * * * They landed on Persephone in the morning. It was raining hard, but it was monsoon weather so it was still hot and humid. Mal and Zoe went with Mitchell to see Badger. Mal had finally allowed Kaylee, Simon and River off the ship for some shore leave. Jayne had decided to clean his guns in his quarters while Bane and Karl, confined to Serenity with him, had put out some deck chairs and were enjoying the cooling mist without getting drenched. Bane, who could never just sit without doing something else, had bought some EMP bullets to finish off. Simon had made her wear a strap on her wrist until it healed properly. Luckily it was not fractured, just severely bruised. Karl had just come out to enjoy the fresh air. Over the last few days he had felt relieved of some of the ghosts of his past. He did not even have to hide behind all that hair anymore which meant a damn sight less itching. He now sported a small woollen cap to keep his head warm until some of his hair grew a bit longer. Karl sighed contentedly, stretched out his feet and cracked his toes. “My brother hates it when I crack my knuckles,” said Bane with a grimace at the sound. “I can finally see his point.” Karl smiled. “Life doesn’t get better than this,” he said, leaning back and closing his eyes. Bane looked up from her bullets and laughed, fully agreeing with him. She could not help staring at him as he looked so peaceful and strange at the same time. Like the others, she was still getting used to his new appearance. Bane flexed her bandaged hand again before carrying on with her work. There weren’t many people around in this weather, but another ship had set down less than an hour ago and it looked like some of the crew had started to disperse into the Eavesdown throng. She paid them no mind and carried on tinkering, soon hearing a quiet snore from Karl which made her laugh softly to herself. A couple of people came onto the ramp and Bane looked up, thinking the others had returned, but instead she was looking into a cocked revolver. “Some good luck charm I am,” she said. ~ * ~ Badger embraced his friend when Mitchell rushed into his office ahead of the crew of Serenity. Badger had worried when Mal had told him that he had been arrested, but his faith in Mal’s abilities had been confirmed. Mitchell handed over the sack containing the diamond without pause. “Now we all seem to have been successful, how about a little celebration drink before you pay us,” stated Mal. Badger was taken aback, as normally Reynolds was quick to leave, but he nodded to one of his guards. In truth he was extremely happy and would not attempt to cut down the take that he had originally specified to Mal. “As you’ve done such a good job for me, mate, I fink we all deserve it.” They all sat down amiably. About half an hour later Mal wanted to end the little party, as did Zoe. “So now you’re reunited with your fine friend here, how about givin’ us our cut?” Badger lifted the corner of his mouth in a kind of smile. “Of course, Mal, of course,” he reached into the drawer of his desk and pulled out a hefty bag and handed it over. “For a job well done.” Zoe took the bag and placed it inside her own then looked back at Mal. It was time to go before Badger had a change of heart or added any conditions. They left his place quickly and went back to Serenity. Fortunately the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. It was now a glorious day and they had been well paid. Zoe was cheerful, not because the job had been completed successfully, but her mind had finally settled from the revelations of the last few days. Karl, whether he was Wash’s brother or not, was easy to get along with and had proved himself a valuable member of the crew. She knew that Mal was still a bit touchy about it, mainly because he hated to be lied to, and she could relate to that. Wash had only ever mentioned his brother once to her and it had been a fleeting statement which she had not pursued at the time. They walked up to the ramp of Serenity. “Hey, mei mei,” said Mal, “How long before we can break atmo?” Kaylee, who had been picking up something from beside one of the deckchairs, looked around with a stricken face. “Hey, what’s up? Simon say somethin’ stupid to you again? You want me to have words with him?” Mal continued, but Zoe had already realised that it was a whole lot more serious than that. “We came back to Serenity and Jayne was the only one here. There’s no sign of Bane an’ Karl ‘cept this tray of parts she was working on when we left.” Mal knew that Bane was not in the habit of leaving her tricks lying about the place in case a passing Fed viewed them. He jogged into the ship and then ran up to the cockpit with Zoe following closely behind. Jayne and River were there with Simon. They were watching a wave that had just come in, from Augustus Winters. He addressed them all in a superior and over-confident manner. “Ah – I see the Captain has joined us at last. Interesting crew you have Reynolds. I commend you on your jailbreak plan on Beaumonde – a stroke of brilliance. You have something of mine and I now have something of yours. Two for one. You need to get me my diamond by nightfall, or you’ll need to go recruiting for more crew. Dong ma?” Mal was standing bolt upright with his arms folded and Zoe was steadfast at his right shoulder. “I don’t do anything ‘til you show me my crew. If they are already dead, there’s no point in us talking.” Mal was speaking in an off-hand manner to make it seem like he did not really care what happened to his kidnapped crew members. Winters did not like being questioned or ordered, but he was obliged to comply as Reynolds was right. He nodded to someone near him and moved out of view of the com. Bane and Karl were pulled into view, both had their arms restrained behind them. Bane seemed untouched, but Karl’s face was starting to bruise in several places. Mal did not think he would ever get used to his resemblance to Wash, but right now he looked very different. “You two bein’ treated alright?” They saw Bane glance quickly at Karl and then back at the com. She spoke quickly and cheerily. “Shiny, Cap’n. Mr Winters here is a fine host. His ship is much nicer than ours–” An arm came into view punching her in the face and causing Kaylee to cry out. Before she could speak again they were taken out of view. There was some muffled conversation and Winters appeared again, slightly redder in the face than before. “I’m warning you not to try anything, Reynolds. You’ll have my merchandise delivered to me by sundown, or your people die,” and the com disconnected. Mal looked at Zoe, deciding they needed to talk to Badger. He then looked at River and she knew what he wanted to know. “He’s genuine in his threat, but very angry that Bane told us that they were on another ship, as it means he’s vulnerable if you want to try anything. Bane also has two EMP bullets on her, but doesn’t know for sure if they were the ones she had got working before they were taken. They are ready for any move you may want to make, but Karl reckons he might have a broken rib from the beating they gave him when he disagreed with the goons about being taken off Serenity.” “Nice going, Albatross. Wave Badger – I want to speak to him now. “Yes, Captain,” she replied, turning back to the controls. “We’ve got about six hours before sundown,” said Zoe. Mal nodded and then turned to Jayne. “Find out which ship they are on – bribe the Port Control with some of this, if you have to,” he added, handing over the recent payment they had received. Jayne went out, without making any of his customary objections. “Take Kaylee with you so she can give me a run down on their vessel – but do it discretely,” he shouted after him. Kaylee followed silently in Jayne’s wake. “Badger’s on,” said River, pressing a button that made his image appear on the com. “Mal – thought you would ‘ave broken atmo by now.” “Little problem, Badger. Mr Winters wants his diamond back.” Badger did his best to feign ignorance, both about the diamond and Winters, but it was no good. Instead he considered for a moment before speaking. “And how would you know about that?” “Because he has taken two of my crew hostage, that’s how.” Badger relaxed a little. “Sorry, mate. Your crew, your problem.” He reached over to break the connection, but Mal spoke again. “Will be yours if I tell him who the new owner is, and how to find you. Might not get my crew back, but he ain’t likely to be leavin’ Eavesdown anytime soon either.” Badger reluctantly conceded. “What do you need?” ~ * ~ “You alright?” Bane asked quietly. Karl lifted his head and looked at her, they had both been tied to chairs, but were facing each other. “Think they broke a rib,” he replied and then turned to cough. “You okay?” Bane was still trying to work her hands free from the bonds. The restraint on her wrist had made it difficult to twist, but she had managed to pull it off which had given her some extra room to manoeuvre her hands. “I’ve been through a lot worse,” she answered truthfully. She now had a fat lip to go with the other bumps and bruises she had acquired on this job. They had been dumped in some kind of store room, though they had just enough sense to take everything else out of the room beforehand. “Bet you’re glad you signed on to Serenity now – all this exciting action,” said Karl, a little sarcastically, but he was angry at himself for getting caught napping on the job. Bane did not answer immediately, partly because she was trying to concentrate on getting free, and partly because she could not think of an appropriate response. She could tell Karl was angry and not sure whether it was at her or not. “Mal and the others will likely be tryin’ to work something out. I reckon he’ll be having words – there!“ she had worked a hand free of the bonds. She twisted it further and pulled it out, her arms feeling really heavy from being restrained for so long. Once one was free, she had no difficulty with the other hand. She undid the foot ropes as well and then moved over to Karl. His ropes were tougher, probably because he had struggled and fought when they were put on, hence the reason for the possible broken rib. “There you go,” she said, pulling the knot free and allowing him to do the rest. Bane started looking at the door but it was totally impenetrable from the inside. When she tapped the metal panelling it was all solid, there was no way out. She took out the bullets she had managed to hide in the waistband of her pants and studied them. She had just grabbed with her hand without looking when they had made her stand up from the deckchair. One was just the shell casing so she put it back in her pocket. Karl came up beside her. “Any joy?” he asked. Bane held the other one up. It was intact and working. “This one is fine. I might be able to stamp on it to activate it, but I don’t know how long it would last, or the range.” “Mal will probably have something up his sleeve, we just have to be ready.” ~ * ~ With Badger’s help they had located which ship Winters had come in on. It was a vessel about the same size as Serenity but positioned at the other end of the docks. Badger had made a few waves himself and was determined that Winters would not order him about on his own turf, however highly-bred he may be. He did not give a stuff for Reynolds’ crew, but he had his reputation to keep and no Beaumonde dandy was going to tell him what to do in his docks. Badger had established that Winters had come in on a hired transport with his own goons crewing it. Apart from capturing part of Serenity’s crew, none of them had so far left the ship, so he could not do any double bargaining. Mal had also informed him that Winters would just as likely shoot his own crew as anyone else. The ramp to the ship was down, but the inner doors were closed. Storming the ship was not possible without getting Mal’s crew killed, and Badger had no problem believing Reynolds’ threats if that happened. The only real way to get on that ship was to meet the man at sunset. It had been Mitchell that had come up with the plan of handing over a dummy diamond, apparently it had been a dummy one that had fooled Winters before, which is why he had been so slow in tracking him down in the first place. Badger had given him access to all the resources he needed and waved Mal to tell him the plan. Badger knew that Winters would have called the Feds if he had acquired the diamond legally, so he was using the tactics of people like himself instead. Mal approached the ship with Zoe and Jayne stony-faced, on either side of him, armed but with their weapons were holstered. Mal carried the small bag which contained the fake diamond. They were being watched from all sides as they stepped up onto the ramp and into the now open cargo bay. Winters had brought close to thirty men with him and Mal had to feel a little flattered at the confidence in his abilities. Winters was inside the cargo bay at the centre of his entourage so Mal held the bag aloft. “I want to see my crew,” said Mal loudly. Winters turned, nodded, and Bane and Karl were brought out in view, up on the balcony above. They looked in a worse state than when he had viewed them on the com earlier. “They tried to escape, so I had to show them some hospitality,” he explained. Mal cursed them both for trying something so impossible and stupid, Zoe cursed them both for trying to be too much like Mal. “I’m sure I will get to thank you for that later,” said Mal. “But I ain’t handin’ this over until they are untied an’ beside me.” Winters laughed loudly and it was not a pleasant sound, sounding unaccustomed and forced. Winters gave the signal and all his men drew and cocked their weapons. “You feel like shooting your way out of this, go ahead,” he challenged Mal. Mal was calm, almost graceful in his manner when he responded to Winters. “No, but I do...” he stepped forward to shield Zoe’s activation of two EMP grenades, “...feel like fightin’ my way out the old fashioned way,” and him and Jayne threw punches in unison at two of the goons, at the same time Zoe threw the grenades. Winters and most of his men thought it was an incendiary grenade and they hit the decks in a panic. Bane and Karl took the opportunity to run down the steps as soon as the others hit the floor. Not having their hands free, there were a couple of moments when they almost lost balance and could have tumbled down the rest. At the bottom Karl bowled himself into a group of men and Bane rolled on the floor, bringing her bound hands under her bottom and in front of her. Zoe reached them having given a number of goons a nocturnal kiss with her Mare’s Leg on her way across the cargo bay. She got out her knife to cut Bane free and then handed it to her as another man swung her around by the shoulder to take her on, to his cost. Bane dropped the knife when a man took her down heavily. She struggled wildly and then her knee found the right vulnerable spot. He slid off her and she got to her feet again, grabbing the knife. The cargo bay was chaos and they were severely out-numbered. Karl was being held by one man and punched by another, so she ran over to his aid, stabbed the man who was holding him in the arm, and quickly cut his bonds allowing him to retaliate. She ducked quickly to avoid a wild punch, but then another man tackled her from behind. Jayne was in his element – he had not had a good fight for ages and his fists were positively tingling. Mal was a few feet away from him giving as good as he got – all aimed at Winters. Just as Mal was starting to enjoy himself, shots were fired from behind them causing everyone to stop what they were doing. “’Ate to break up the party, an’ all,” said Badger, entering the cargo bay with his own goons, that outnumbered them all. They all had fully activated weapons. “But you’re in my gorram town an’ I ain’t given my gorram permission for any deals ‘ere.” Mal listened while touching his tongue to a cut on his lip, tasting blood. “You there,” Badger said to Mal. “I told you I wanted yer gone by sundown. Take your people an’ go. “But, I –“ “Niao se dub doo gway – I said go!” Mal turned and nodded at his crew and they all left the ship. Badger walked up to Winters, who was bleeding from the head and had Mal’s fist shape forming a bruise around his left eye. Badger pointed his gun at the man’s nose. “Now, Mister, ‘and over that bag.” Winters was reluctant, but he was clearly outgunned. He pulled the small bag out of his pocket and handed the fake diamond over to Badger. “Right kind of you, mate. Suggest you leave this planet to the big boys an’ get yourself back to yer own.” “You’ll regret this. I will get that diamond back.” “And it’ll be long gone from here. So long, little boy,” sneered Badger. “Go back to your own playground.” Before Badger’s men left the cargo bay they heard the other ship lift off. Badger turned around again, enjoying himself. “Don’t think ‘bout followin’ ‘em. I’m ‘aving yer land lock released in two hours.” Badger walked back to his transport with a big grin on his face. It had been a long time since he had that much fun, might arrange a little party for his people tonight. Serenity returned to Eavesdown Docks a couple of hours short of midnight as planned. They had broken atmo and then landed in another docks on Persephone, waiting until Badger waved them to come back. Now that the job was over and they had been paid, there was a more relaxed atmosphere on board. Simon had patched up the various bumps and bruises received by the crew as well as Karl’s cracked rib, which fortunately was severe bruising rather than bone damage. As usual, Mal was the last to come to see Simon. After a few hours he was sporting a very fat lip, split knuckles and various bruises. “You look real happy, Captain,” said Simon. The doctor had been a bit bemused the last few days with everything that had been going on. Truth was, he had been feeling a bit useless. “Things ended better than expected and we were well paid.” “What about Karl?” said Simon. Mal watched him move around the Med Bay. “What about him?” “Hiding the fact that he is Wash’s brother. Thought you didn’t take kindly to be deceived,” replied Simon, having experienced that side of Mal’s wrath first hand. Mal looked at him, realising that he may be setting kind of a double standard. “Not saying I was happy about it when I found out, but he’s proved his salt.” Simon knew he was using the statement to refer to him and River as well. “That he has. What’s next on the agenda then?” Mal flexed his bruised knuckles. “Probably another drop with Monty an’ then a few days while Bane does some field tests on some new tricks. But right now, we’re all due a little party courtesy of Badger.” Simon sighed. “Just as long as we don’t all end up as drunk as at our last little party.” “Ain’t likely to happen. I wouldn’t trust the man as far as I could throw him. This party is just for future relations sake.” Badger’s idea of a shindig was noisy, dark and dangerous, and Mal intended to make sure those of his people got out of there early enough before the violence kicked in, and not too soon to seem impolite. Jayne, Karl and Bane enjoyed it more than the others, letting loose from the tensions of the last week or so. It was the first opportunity Badger had in a long while to view Reynolds’ crew and how close they were. He recognised Bane as a Pye, on account of knowing her relatives that ran the Eavesdown food store, and briefly wondered what her skills were. From what he had viewed on Winters’ ship, it was not fighting. She was probably the cook, he thought, knowing the Pyes. They ran a large but legitimate business and normally Badger would have insisted in a cut as chief gangster, but their business kept people coming into his docks to trade and spend their money, and as a result all the gangs let them be. Mal’s yeti looked slightly more amenable now that he had a shave too, and just as much an ape as Cobb was. Badger could still not understand how such a diverse group of people could live together and work together in such harmony, but it worked for Reynolds, and as long as he got the job done, Badger did not really care. For an extra precaution Mal made River take off immediately they returned to the ship and they headed out to the black. He waved Monty for a place to make the drop of munitions and was waiting for his wave back with time and place. In the meantime he left Bane to finish her various constructions and did shift swaps with River at the controls, not daring to activate auto-pilot until they were at least a few days clear of Persephone and Beaumonde. Badger may have thought it had been easy to scare away Winters, but Mal was not that naïve. He would not be returning to Beaumonde anytime soon, no matter how much platinum was waved in his face. ~ * ~ Serenity touched down on a remote spot on Aberdeen, very close to where they had met with the Rosalyn near a month ago. There was lots of cover and good views. Mal could post the crew on watch in strategic places to ensure they weren’t disturbed. He liked Aberdeen, the planet generally had the view that as long as you did not interfere with them, they would not interfere with you – he only hoped that it would last. One day the Alliance would come and impose its own kind of rule here too. He shut Serenity down and went to help the others bring the crates up from Bane’s quarters. It was a difficult and sweaty job and it got Mal to thinking that, if they were going to carry selling munitions, then there had to be somewhere else where she could do the construction safely so they could transport it easier. Another plan started forming in his head, sitting alongside all the other formed and half-formed plans that were already there. Monty’s vessel touched down at sunset. Instead of the usual quick exchange of news and goods before departing in separate directions, they lit a large camp fire and all sat around drinking and talking. Monty’s crew was all male and the ladies of Serenity had to keep their wits about them. Mal noticed that his cousin had taken quite a liking to Bane, and started worrying that he would try and pinch her for his crew, just like Mal had done with her brother. Bane, who was still oblivious, thought Monty was just interested in her inventions. It was only after she explained that she planned on naming her new EMP gun after him that he started getting flirty and handsy and she sidled away as politely as possible. At a safe point she went and spoke to Eric, finally getting to thank him for patching her up after she got shot in the head at the last drop. Monty was very pleased with his delivery and already had another order in for three more crates of grenades and two crates of putty. He also agreed to stay for the field tests, but more so because he had taken a shine to the lady rather than her work. He even thought about shaving his beard again, but likely that would bring him bad luck, especially after the Bridget woman. He really was impressed at the tests of the gun and even handed over an old shotgun of his own (that he had been planning on scrapping) so that she could convert it for him to use. Bane conferred with Mal and they had agreed to do the conversion for free, as Monty was likely to be their best customer for the munitions and it would keep him sweet – as well as give him something to show-and-tell for future orders. Bane was enjoying being back in the munitions business again, it felt good to have a use and purpose again. Malcolm Reynolds had picked all his crew members for that very reason. Just like he had picked Serenity out of a scrapyard full of luh-suh ships, the people he had around him had shone like beacons to light the way in the black of the ‘Verse. * * * * * * * * Author’s Note: Edited in September 2007 (Always looking to improve!).

COMMENTS

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 11:42 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Well now...that was certainly all kinds of entertaining, hermitsrest. Especially how you established Karl as Wash's little brother. Idea for keeping Alan T around, perhaps?

;D

Still...definitely a wild ride and I can't wait to see what you have the crew get up to next.

BEB


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