BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Alliance vs Serenity - Part One
Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mal tries to help his jailed crew member, but he has to resort to doing it in a way that he’s not used to – non-violent! Set immediately after Showdown, 8th fanfic featuring the usual post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Grateful thanks to BluedEyedBrigadier for the beta. Feedback would be much appreciated, I need it to keep going – like Serenity needs fuel. Part 1 of 2.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1694    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Mal! Good to see you an’ all, but you do know I’m on my honeymoon, right?” said Tony Pye cheerily. This was one wave that Mal did not want to be sending. “Wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t important, Tony.” Tony’s smile faded just a little – Mal had his attention. Anna came and sat beside him, appearing on the wave screen to Mal. She was an uncommonly graceful woman and although she bore no resemblance to Inara, she reminded him of her through her mannerisms. “An I.A.V. caught up with us two days ago. We were boarded and they took Bane. They know she’s Deena Court.” Tony’s face had turned white, he put down the mug of tea he had been drinking. He bowed his head a little so that Mal could not see his expression. “That’s it then. They’re gonna lock her up and throw away the key,” he said miserably. Although they had worried about the possibility for years, she had always managed to evade Alliance attention before. Mal saw Anna put her arm around her husband and she looked back at Mal. “Is there anything that can be done?” Mal had been about to say no, but that same plan that was mulling in his head was starting to have corners. “Has your sister ever mentioned the name Dedham to you?” Tony’s head lifted up suddenly. “Dedham? Tianna, gu zao de! He’s the one! The last mark she told me about – the one who shot our mother. What’s he got to do with this?” “He’s the C.O. of the I.A.V. that boarded us. Look ... I’m working on something here, Tony. I need you to tell me everything you know about him, an’ that last job Bane did.” Tony composed himself. He was more than glad of his wife’s presence, but aware that what he was about to say was known to very few people. He sighed. “She and my mother were on Osiris to blow up the arms depot. It was a huge place an’ it’s destruction would’ve made a serious dent in the Alliance’s ability to manufacture an’ distribute hand-held weapons to their soldiers. It wasn’t the first one they’d done, so they knew the level of security they were up against. They worked their angles for two months. Bane’s mark was a low level Ensign who was stuck in security, monitoring feeds. It was Dedham. From him she managed to gain the security access she needed to plant the devices. The night it was all due to go off, she persuaded Dedham to leave the base without permission and was showin’ him a good time. Ma was due to do the triggerin’, but instead she turned up at the room they were using. She’d found out it was a trap. Before Bane knew what was going on, Dedham shot my mother in the forehead from across the room. My sister was only twenty one then, she fought him, but he was too strong. He took great glee in tellin’ her it had all been a setup. He beat her and drugged her, and the next thing she knew she was lying on the floor of some bounty hunter’s ship on her way to Ariel. When she was sold to the brothel, the bounty hunter didn’t refer to her as Deena Court, but by another name. She dint enlighten them. The bounty hunter never knew she was wanted by the Alliance.” Mal had already worked out that Dedham was likely an opportunist, even if he did wear the uniform and make it appear he was shinier than a new credit. The man had skeletons and he was going to dig them up. “Thanks for the info. Can you remember who the bounty hunter was?” Tony thought for a moment, but shook his head. “She mentioned his name once, but it was so long ago. I can’t remember. What good can it do anyway? They’ll only side with Dedham – it’s the Alliance.” “Let me worry about that, Tony. It ain’t over ‘til we die. I’ll be in touch.” “We’ll send a message to my mother. You be careful, Captain Reynolds,” said Anna. Mal shut off the com and leaned back in the chair. Bane had served on his ship for over nine months now, he knew that she would not want them to risk trying to get her out, but Mal could not leave it alone. The woman had been as much a soldier during the war as him and Zoe, and she deserved to be treated as such. “Did you get all that?” he said to Karl and Zoe, who he had noticed hanging by the door as Tony was speaking. “You ain’t gonna try and spring her are you, sir? We can’t take on an I.A.V.” Mal laughed, he really would not put it past himself to try something like that one day. But not today. “Taking on an I.A.V. would likely mess up this pretty face o’ mine. I aim to keep it for a while longer,” he joked, but then grew more serious. “I don’t know if there’s anything I can do to help Bane. But, it might be that we can mess things up a bit. That hun dan Colonel knew her personally. I reckon he’s got something to hide.” “Alliance is a big machine, Mal,” said Karl. “One bent Colonel ain’t gonna make much of a wave.” “I’ll do what it takes ‘til I can’t do no more,” he replied. Karl grinned. “Hell, I ain’t arguin’ with you, boss, I’m jus warnin’ you it ain’t likely to make a difference.” Karl was happy that Mal was doing something about getting Bane back but, like he said, the Alliance had her now. It was more than likely that the only one with the skills to get out of this mess was Bane herself. In his quarters the next day, Mal finally waved Inara. He had been meaning to do it for some time now, but events had kind of got in his way. Just seeing her smiling face made him want to alter course there and then to Sihnon. “Mal! It’s good to see you. You look tired.” Mal smiled broadly. She was making him feel warm and fuzzy. He had caught her early in the morning before she had started putting on her makeup; her mask. To him she was at her most beautiful at that moment. “You look fresher than summer, bao bei,” he answered quickly. Inara showed her surprise at his courtly words, but it made her happy. She was dealing with her own pressures at the Training House and seeing Mal made that all go away. She settled in her chair more comfortably, then she stopped herself. Mal may be a complicated man to read, but she had lived on Serenity long enough to know when something was troubling him. “What is it?” she asked, concerned. Mal wished he could touch her right now and he wished she was not so perceptive. He had waved her to get some relief from all the things whirling around in his head. “We had some Alliance trouble. They came for River, but arrested Bane.” Mal went on to explain the whole story to her, leaving nothing out. When he had finished he felt much better. “Alliance will likely do a monkey trial and then throw away the key. There’s possibly somethin’ I can do about it, but I don’t hold out much. We’re talking about the Feds.” “Did you know she was flagged when she came on board?” “Me and Zoe did, the others knew only what she told them.” “Another stray then,” added Inara perceptively. “I hired her to earn her keep, not to sit on her ass,” Mal said defensively. Inara ignored the slight barb. “I might know someone who could help her,” she suggested. Mal did not hide his surprise. “Reckon I can do without help from one of your clients.” Inara flushed and retorted hotly. “You like to make assumptions, don’t you Mal?” Mal was sorry for what he said, but being Mal, would never admit it. If they had been in the same room together it might have been different. “Don’t want your cast-offs thanks, Inara.” “Then why did you call?” “To talk to you. Beginning to wish I hadn’t.” “Fine,” said Inara stiffly. “Fine,” repeated Mal, and Inara cut off the wave angrily, the man was all kinds of frustrating. She calmed herself down. She had spoken the truth, she did know someone who could possibly help and he was not a former client. ~ * ~ Can we turn the lights down a bit? My eyes are hurting,” requested Bane, as sweetly as she could. The Lieutenant was staring at her like she would rather Bane was hacked up into a thousand pieces. Wladek looked at the prisoner from across the table, her eyes were watering and she was squinting. He remembered Doc Meyer saying that she had some retina damage from whatever had happened on that ship. He got up and turned the switch. Bane stopped squinting and wiped her eyes, she was glad to have her eyesight back, but found they had become very sensitive to bright lights. Wladek sat back down. “This interview is being recorded. Present is Major Pavel Wladek, Communications Officer and Lieutenant Asama Chin, both serving on the I.A.V. Malaga. Suspect is Deena Court, wanted for crimes against the Alliance during the Unification War.” He finished the preliminary speech and looked down at his com pad. He had done his research well, but the original investigators during the war had been sloppy. It was up to him to try and get a confession for the others alleged crimes. Bane sat as comfortably as she could in the hard chair. This was a new experience for her, the Alliance were really going to try and get her to talk without any violence or coercion. She might have laughed if she did not think they would take it the wrong way. Wladek continued talking while the Lieutenant continued staring. “We’re currently on our way to Londinium where you will be handed over to the authorities to face trial for the bombing of the Londinium Weapons Factory in 2508, and the attempted bombing of the Osiris Small Arms Depot in 2511. You’re also suspected of bombing military com stations on Beaumonde, Greenleaf, Delaware ...” It was going to be a long day, thought Bane. After he had finished reading out the long list of Bane’s suspected repertoire, he took a drink of water and Lieutenant Chin took up the com pad. Bane could see she was too young to have served in the war, she could not have been more than twenty two and she was full of disdain. “What’s your date of birth?” Bane looked at her in disbelief, Lieutenant Chin was most definitely a rookie. She looked across at Wladek. “This her first time at interrogation?” Wladek’s lips tightened, he took back the pad from the Lieutenant. “You seem to be enjoying yourself, Deena,” he said. “Stuff you say I did was a long time ago, Major. War’s over now.” Bane knew it made no difference to the Alliance. “Then why not give us your other details?” “Because you seem to know all you want to know. There is no need for me to give you anything else you can twist to your own ends.” “You are a terrorist! You killed twenty people at the Londinium factory and who knows how many you would have killed at Osiris.” “Lieutenant!” said Wladek. He was already wishing he had not brought her into the room, she needed the experience, but she was not helping. “Leave the questioning to me, Lieutenant Chin.” Bane could see the Lieutenant did not take kindly to being told off in front of a prisoner. She smiled at her. “You never fought in the war, did you Lieutenant? You’re too young. The Major here did. What was it? Special Ops?” she waited to see his miniscule nod. “Special Ops. Well, that’s what I did. Special Ops. Special Operations – a broad term that covered everything from intelligence to infiltration and mis-information. Just because I served on the losin’ side, dint mean I did any less of a job than your Major here.” Wladek could feel his Lieutenant brisling and he stepped in before she made another outburst. “Well, that’s just it, Deena. There’s no record of you on any Independent personnel lists. The same lists used to discharge everyone when the war ended. By not being on those lists you forfeit any rights you may’ve had under the military service laws set up at Unification.” Bane shrugged, the information was not news to her. She had only been sixteen when the war broke out and her mother had been the one making contact with Independent Command. “My mother was the one taking the orders.” “Yes, your mother,” Wladek selected another item on his com pad. “Mara Court. Killed in a shootout when she attempted to escape.” Bane sniffed in amusement. Wladek raised an eyebrow. “You find that funny?” “Only your interpretation of events, Major.” “What’s your interpretation of events?” Bane, having not been offered a drink, took Wladek’s glass and sipped it. “My word against Colonel Dedham’s?” Lieutenant Chin gave a little intake of breath. Bane decided to enlighten her, even though she knew it made no difference, the woman should realise the world was not all shiny and purple. “My mother was unarmed. She came to warn me that we were pinched. Dedham shot her in the head and then sold me to a brothel.” It was Wladek’s turn to be surprised. “Are you saying that an Alliance Colonel shot an unarmed woman and then sold you for profit?” For the record then, until Dedham made it go away, Bane thought to herself. She had to admit she was rather enjoying herself watching the Lieutenant’s face go through all sorts of changes and colours. “He wasn’t a Colonel then. He was an Ensign in charge of security feeds. Likely bored to craziness ‘til I came along. Must have felt all kinds of warm an’ fuzzy t’wards me when the Alliance told him I was only sleeping with him to get security information. An’ he didn’t sell me for profit – he threw me away.” Wladek was sickened, but not feeling any kind of surprised by the revelations. “You are accusing a decorated Alliance Colonel of –“ “Lieutenant! Be quiet or you will be excused,” warned Wladek. Bane took a keen look at Wladek, he had shown no shock at her words. She reckoned he had the measure of Dedham, not that it made any difference. “After he shot my mother, and after he had dealt with me, he drugged me. I wake up and find myself in the hands of a bounty hunter on my way to Ariel.” “So the bounty hunter sold you to the brothel, not Colonel Dedham?” he asked. And we are back where we started, thought Bane. “Bounty hunter was told my name was Alice Pan – that’s what he told the brothel owner.” “You didn’t correct him?” Bane shrugged and smiled a little. “Figured I could escape soon enough. No point advertisin’ that the Alliance wanted me.” “And did you escape?” asked Wladek. Deena Court looked at him and then away at the wall. “As you say, I’m not here for what went on after the war.” ~ * ~ “Serenity is always welcome here,” said Kostova warmly. “But tell me you didn’t bring an I.A.V. with you.” Kaylee was the first to hug Koz, but Mal and Zoe were a bit more reticent this time. “I.A.V.’s gone –“ “But they arrested Bane,” finished Kaylee, looking up at him. Kostova looked at Mal and Zoe, he could tell they had come for information. “Come up to my office, all of you,” he called out to Spike to come too. There was little space in there after they had all squeezed in. “Is this really necessary, Koz?” asked Mal. Kostova looked at Mal, his friend. His expression was one of guilty betrayal. “You have to understand, Mal, they made me tell. Can’t rightly explain it, but these men came an’ asked questions an’ I couldn’t lie.” “How’d they know to come here?” said Mal. Kostova sighed. Spike moved closer to him as an act of protection, the kind of thing Zoe would do with Mal, and she noticed. “Purple belly called Dedham,” he saw the looks of recognition, but continued speaking. “He was the one who brought me Serenity after that prairie run you did to Kerry. Thought he would make himself some money instead of taking her to an Alliance scrap yard. He’s the kind of Fed that likes to do a little dealing on the side.” “And the kind that’ll shop you soon as breathe,” added Spike. Koz nodded. “I got no choice when I deal with him. But at the time I didn’t let him know I knew Serenity’s owners. Those Agents that interrogated us, they already knew.” “Were they lookin’ for Bane all along then?” asked Spike. Mal shifted uneasily and gave Kostova some of the truth. “No. Looks like those two Agents never told anyone who they were looking for. They’re dead an’ the Alliance Colonel needed a scapegoat to explain away their deaths.” “They weren’t right, Mal. There was something they did to make us tell.” “Made our gorram noses bleed!” blurted Spike. The room was hushed, as they all knew how close Kostova and Spike had come to dying, they had watched Bane almost go the same way. River weaved through the throng of people and laid hand on Kostova’s shoulder. She looked at Mal, articulating his thoughts, but everyone else thought she was saying her own words. “Hands of blue are gone. You are safe.” ~ * ~ Once again, Bane found herself in Dedham’s quarters and restrained in cuffs. At least she could see this time. He was wearing the same white robe, but was being more careful of his distance. He learned from his mistakes and he would make this one go away. Bane was more than a little puzzled by his persistence, but then he was a vindictive little man and she would not put anything past him, including disposing of her again. She had to be on her guard. “We got off to the wrong start before,” he said, sipping his brandy. “I never thought to see you again.” Bane yawned, Wladek had been questioning her all day and she was exhausted. Dedham felt his anger rising again. There was a knock at his door and he cursed, he had given orders not to be disturbed. He went over and opened it. It was Wladek. “What do you want?” “Sir, you have the prisoner.” “Yes? What of it?” “Sir,” repeated Wladek patiently. “She has made accusations … against you.” “What! You interviewed her without telling me?” “It’s procedure, and it’s my job,” he reminded him. “I questioned her on the crimes she’s been accused of. You cannot be seen to be interfering with that investigation.” Dedham turned behind him to look at Bane, who was now smiling broadly. “If I’m goin’ down, ho-tze yin jing, then you’re comin’ with me. Compliments of my mother.” Dedham saw red and in his rage he went for Bane. She tried to run away from him, but he caught her restrained arms and wrenched. She cried out, but it was cut off by Dedham punching her in the mouth. He kept punching and when she fell to the ground he started kicking. Wladek could not believe what he was seeing, the man was insane. He ran over and tried to hold him back him, but he shook him off. Dedham got to his knees and put his hands around Bane’s neck, squeezing. Wladek called out to the guards on the door and he tried to pull Dedham off. Bane tried to catch some air. She realised she had made a serious error in goading the man, he had much more to lose now that he was a Colonel and she was disposable. With the help of one of the guards, Wladek managed to pull Dedham off the prisoner before she passed out. Bane gasped and coughed for air and then groaned in pain, curling up in a foetal position. Wladek was breathing heavily himself, still holding onto Dedham who was calming down. In attacking her, he had as good as admitted his guilt and Wladek had no choice but to report him as soon as they reached Londinium. “Take her to the Doc,” he said to the guards. Bane was unable to walk so one of them carried her. She was finding it difficult to breathe, especially with blood filling her mouth. Wladek stood up and looked down at the Colonel, his knuckles were split from punching Bane in the face. He kept his emotions in check and took his leave from the room. Dedham was still sitting on the floor in his blood-splattered robe. Several hours later Wladek turned up at Bane’s cell. Meyer had done a good job of patching her up, but nothing could hide the bruising on her neck and the swollen eye and lip. When he entered the cell she sat up with difficulty. He could not help admire her a little, the woman had resilience and no small amount of insane courage. “Come to finish the job?” she asked. Wladek remained standing, but he looked up at the camera in the cell. “You really think I’d incriminate myself like that?” Bane looked at the camera as well. “No. Doubt that your boss would have the same restraint though.” “Tomorrow you’ll be handed over to the authorities on Londinium. I’ll be handing over my full report to them. It will include the impropriety of Colonel Dedham.” “Impropriety, eh? Nothing about his actions during the war?” “Like you said – it’s your word against his. But if you decide to tell me the whole story, then it all gets submitted with my findings tomorrow.” Bane thought about it and Wladek added the comment. “What have you got to lose? The case against you for the Londinium job is water-tight. Tell me about what happened on Osiris and it might help – or not – but at least it won’t hurt.” “’Til Dedham gets his hands on me again – then I reckon it’ll hurt a whole shiny lot,” reasoned Bane. She studied Wladek while he waited patiently and saw his purpose. “You want to bring him down, don’t you?” Wladek instinctively looked up at the camera again, relieved that it did not record sound. Bane looked up at the camera as well. “Why?” she asked. Wladek remembered that he was talking to a criminal. “I’m the one who asks the questions, Miss Court.” Bane swallowed painfully. “You be straight with me an’ I’ll sing like a bird on Dedham.” Wladek considered and then moved to stand under the camera so he was not seen. “Since those Agents came on board, some of his other dealings have come to light. Don’t know how long you were on that transport vessel, but last May he sold it to a dealer on Boros. The Alliance can do without men like Dedham.” Kostova, Bane thought - the prairie run to Kerry. So that was Dedham too. Amazing how the ‘Verse was so large, but the same people just kept turning up like a bad smell. “Before my time,” Bane lied. “I was just on the ship as a payin’ passenger. Got on at Persephone.” Wladek would have believed her, except that she was too quick in her story. “What you’ve been up to since the war is not my concern. Are you going to tell me the full story about the Osiris job on the record?” It was late and Bane was already in pain and exhausted, but this would be the only chance she would have to send that hun dan to the seven hells. “Give me a decent meal an’ I’ll be right forthcomin’, Major.” Wladek had arranged for some vegetable soup and soft bread for Bane, and she tucked in gratefully. This would probably be the last chance for anything but protein bars. She winced as she chewed into the sensitive gap in her teeth. Dedham had knocked one out and loosened a few others. She was glad that the missing one was not at the front. Wladek left her to eat, but watched from the next room. There was a knock at the door and a man entered in uniform, looking slightly dishevelled. “You called for me, sir?” “Yes, thank you Lieutenant. Sorry to get you out of bed. I need you to witness an interview I’m conducting.” “I thought you were using Lieutenant Chin, sir?” “I need you on this one. Lieutenant Chin is Dedham’s groupie. I need your skills.” Wladek handed over the com pad for Lieutenant Hosier to read. “She’s still eating, so take your time.” Hosier looked up briefly and then continued to read. When he was done he looked at the woman through the glass again, to a stranger she did not look dangerous at all. “I see we have no biographical details. I’m good at ages, sir. From the photo taken on the Londinium security feed, she was younger than Lieutenant Chin is now. That was very young to be taking up munitions work, I reckon she’s still under thirty five.” Wladek nodded approvingly. “I’d bet my rank on the fact that she’ll never tell us her real name. She’s skilled more than uncommon in evading the truth.” “Then why are we doing this, sir?” “Because she’s got information on criminal activities conducted by Colonel Dedham.” Hosier turned to his superior slowly, Wladek had chosen him to be present because he was the only one he trusted. They entered the room together. Wladek repeated the same preliminary words that he had done earlier in the day. Bane stifled another yawn and then started her story. They had come to Osiris in April of 2511. After doing the usual scoping and layout they had looked about for a mark. Dedham had been chosen because he worked in security and was young. There were a few to choose from, but they agreed to settle on Dedham because he was full of his own importance, and therefore had a tendency to boast, making the perfect mark. They followed his movements off the depot and found out where he liked to spend his leave time. Bane had got a job in the diner he always ate in and it really had been as simple as that. He was full of himself, but also a little lonely for female companionship. He was so easy to get Intel from at first, and started out being the perfect mark. They were able to track his movements on the depot as well as get a com feed into all the cameras. Just before they got word of the terrible battle of Serenity Valley he started changing. In hindsight, it was probably about the time his superiors would have approached him about how he was being duped. Because she and her mother had been so upset about losing so many friends and family there – Bane just managed to stop herself from mentioning anyone by name – they did not notice anything too strange in his behaviour. Bane had put it down to his normal personality coming out. He had become more reticent with the information, but by then they had most of what they needed to plant explosives. Bane had to keep up the pretence a little longer, so she put up with his increasingly violent behaviour. The night that they had decided to blow up the depot, Bane had persuaded Dedham to leave the base. She knew now that it was what the Alliance had planned all along. While she supposedly kept him busy and away from his post, her mother donned a uniform, entered the depot using Dedham’s ID and planted the devices. About the time it was all supposed to go up, her mother turned up at the room she and Dedham were occupying, saying it was all a trap. She had found additional cameras and said they were humped. Dedham did not hesitate, shot her in the forehead and then turned on her. “If you think what he did tonight was bad,” she explained. “It was nothin’ to what he did that night. All he kept repeating was that I would pay for duping him – that’s all he cared about. Nothing to do with the fact that my mother and I were about to blow the depot to hell. He kept me conscious while he … he did other things, and then – when he was really exhausted – he bought out the hypo-syringe.” Bane never knew what happened after that until she woke up on the bounty hunter’s ship. “What was the bounty hunter’s name?” asked Lieutenant Hosier. “Dudge,” said Bane. “Hero Dudge. Like I said before, the bounty hunter never knew that he could have got four times the price for me if he’d handed me over to the Alliance. Dedham told him my name was Alice Pan, an’ I was an escaped indentured servant who was not required back by her employer. I was therefore disposable. He got two hundred for me, which about paid for the amount of soap the man would have needed, had he ever been inclined to bathe. I remember him sayin’ that he would’ve gotta better price for me, had I not been given to him in such poor condition.” “Can you describe the type of ship Dudge used.” Wladek had hit on the idea that if they could trace the bounty hunter, then they could get corroborating evidence against Dedham. “It was a personal transport, space worthy and robust, but a unique design. It was called the Red Admiral.” ~ * ~ “We need to be looking to our own needs, sir,” said Zoe. Mal knew she was right, Kostova had given them a little information, but it was not much more than he knew already. He swallowed the mouthful of food, eating in a diner was always one of his special pleasures. He liked the homeliness of it, even if the service and quality was sometimes a bit rough around the edges. They were sitting in one of the booths with Karl and Jayne, the other crew sitting near them, eating as well. “We’ll give it another few days an’ then I’ll wave Tony again, see if he’s remembered anything else.” Zoe was silent, they could afford to stay a few more days. Karl had looked at Jayne when Mal said they would likely move on in a few days. He found it difficult to accept Bane had gone from their lives altogether, she had let them all into her family, and she had let Karl have a brief peek into her. It may have been brief, but it was most definitely not forgettable. He guessed he would have to forget, it had only been a kiss after all, nothing that he had not done with a hundred other women, like Jayne had said. Only those hundred other women had not been his friend as well. “What is it Kaylee?” Mal asked, suddenly noticing her horrified expression. She was sitting in another booth with River and Simon, looking behind them. “Bane’s on the cortex,” she managed to say and point. They all turned around to view the small screen in the diner. Jayne shouted to the waitress to turn up the volume. “... war criminal Deena Court, captured while conducting a routine search by Colonel James Dedham of the I.A.V. Malaga.” They all noticed Bane’s injuries as the cameras jostled for position and reporters blocked the view. Despite how bad she looked, and the awful grey overalls she was wearing, she held her head high, almost as if there was not a feeding frenzy of media and militia around her. “I’ll ruttin’ kill him,” said Jayne bitterly, articulating Karl’s exact feelings. He had been doing a lot of that lately. She had the same serene look as when she had walked out into the circle at her brother’s wedding, only then she had been smiling. She was a serene woman, serene and complicated. He guessed that’s why she fitted so well on Serenity. “Ssshh,” said Kaylee. “... Returned to face trial by Military Court for the bombing of the Londinium Weapons factory in 2508 which killed twenty people. The breaking news is that the Military Court have allowed full media coverage of the trial. This was announced just before ...” “They’re broadcasting it?” said Simon, horrified. “After the Miranda scandal, the Feds prob’ly think this is good for publicity,” said Zoe. She looked across at Mal and was immediately worried by the look she saw on his face. It was his ‘I-have-a-brilliant-but-insane-plan’ kind of face. Ai ya women wanle, she thought. ~ * ~ Major Wladek hovered nervously in the corridor outside General Falmouth’s offices. He was finally ushered in, after being kept waiting for an hour. The room had a sunlit view of one of Londinium’s great parks. Nice, he thought, but it was too cultivated for his tastes. He preferred a more natural view, untouched by mechanics and gardeners. He bolted to attention when the General emerged from his office. The General was still in full regalia from the press conference earlier, the only thing he had changed was removing his hat. Wladek kept his on. The General was one who always came to the point quickly as well. “This report of yours is trash, Major.” Wladek blanched. “Your Colonel brings in one of the most wanted criminals from the war and you want to discredit him with this nonsense.” “Sir, the evidence is there.” “Evidence?! I don’t give anything for your evidence. A criminal’s word against a high ranking Alliance officer? Don’t make me laugh,” he reviewed the com pad in front of him. “And this – a bounty hunter can confirm her testimony. I would think this a joke, if it wasn’t here right in front of me.” Wladek shifted uncomfortably. Deena Court had been right, they were going to make it go away. “I see here you’ve tried to track down this Dudge fellow – believed to have been killed by Reavers. Well, that’s your corroborating evidence up in smoke, isn’t it?” “Sir – Colonel Dedham also sold a vessel for his own profit.” General Falmouth threw the com pad onto the table. “Make it go away, Major.” Wladek lifted his chin. “No, sir,” he said with absolute conviction. When the General realised he was dealing with a boy-scout type. He sighed. “No matter. Dedham’s earned himself a promotion. He’s off the I.A.V.. You have him out of your hair, Major, but I warn you to watch yourself. This kind of work won’t get you promoted.” Wladek kept his thoughts to himself. “Sir,” he answered neutrally. “Dismissed, Major,” said the General. Wladek turned and left his offices. He went straight to the nearest bar and ordered a stiff drink. He was a career officer, and in just five minutes everything he had done to get where he was had been tossed away. He was used to his superiors burying things, he argued with himself, why should this be any different? Because he had looked in the mirror, he concluded, he had looked at Deena Court and seen himself. He had been one of the many people responsible for putting out the propaganda that the Londinium bomb had been done by a brigade of Independent Infantry. Special Ops: Mis-information. He downed a second shot and stood up. There was maybe something he could do. ~ * ~ While her case was discussed all over the cortex, Bane lay on the bunk in her very grey cell. The trial would be a walkover for the Alliance. At least her celebrity status meant she had a cell all to herself. She had never served time before, the monotony of routine was deafening. She found her mind slipping away, like she was dreaming when half awake, only it was all the time. The greyness of the cell only helped conjure up the images for her. Everything was grey, including her overalls. She looked forward to the brief thirty minutes everyday when they took her out in the yard, where she got to look at the sky. She was still not allowed to mix with anyone, but at least she could breathe un-recycled air. Bane still had a couple of hours to go before exercise time, which is why she was surprised to hear the cell door being unlocked. The guard came in, ordered her to stand up and she went through another routine of having her wrists cuffed. She was then escorted down the grey corridors into another part of the prison, wondering if she pressed herself up against the wall if anyone would be able to find her. “Now I know I’m going moonbrain,” she muttered quietly. She was ushered into what looked like another interrogation room. There was another man who she had never seen before. He was older but well groomed, probably in his sixties, estimated Bane. “Miss Court,” he said rhetorically. “I am your Advocate. My name is Sheldon Evensis.” “Huh,” said Bane, at a loss for words. “Something wrong, Miss Court?” Bane found her voice – it had been a while since she had spoken to anyone conversationally. “No. I mean – sorry. You look to be a very high-priced Advocate, Mr Evensis. I figured the Feds would want me to have one that was dribbling from the nose and walking with a limp.” Evensis, expecting someone completely different than the woman in front of him, found himself amused. It did not last long though, he had seen her record and the list of suspected bombings, including one on his home planet. He remembered it well – he had lost friends. Unfortunately, she was only being tried for two things; the Londinium bombing and the attempted bombing of the depot on Osiris, otherwise he would not be standing here now. “I’m doing this case pro-bono, Miss Court,” he said, now sitting at the table. “Now. The Prosecutor has visual proof, as well as your prints at what was left of the Londinium factory, and all manner of evidence during the sting operation on the Osiris depot.” Bane figured that he was only taking the case for the fame, or the infamy. “Caught red-handed, Mr Evensis. Open and shut case.” Evensis looked at her like a school teacher. “I don’t take open and shut cases, Miss Court. I have listened to the interview tapes and there’s a couple of lines of enquiry I’d like to pursue.” Bane let him talk and she answered most of his questions, except who she really was. “You’re not helping your cause by being obstinate, Miss Court.” “Kept me alive so far,” she shot back. “You may not feel the same way in thirty years when you’re still serving several life sentences.” Bane pulled her chin in when she felt it quiver. Until then she had made herself not think about the future, just day-to-day survival. She could not imagine sitting in that same grey cell for the rest of her life, only being able to see the sky for thirty minutes a day. That was a death sentence, but she had to protect her family name. If she and her mother did not exist on the records, then there was no point broadcasting her real name to the ‘Verse, it would only cause them harm. She looked back at the Advocate and straightened her shoulders. Evensis sighed, he had not carved out a brilliant and illustrious career to be defeated so easily, even if his client seemed so inclined. He looked back at the interview given him by the Alliance command, his instincts told him it smelled. He looked at the name – Major Pavel Wladek. ~ * ~ Mal came dashing into the cockpit, Jayne had run all the way to the diner to get him. He flipped on the screen and Tony Pye’s face appeared, he had dark shadows under his eyes. “Tony,” said Mal in greeting. “Ye Soo, Mal – have you seen the cortex! My sister’s face is on every gorram channel.” “It’ll be old news in a couple of months, Tony – jus’ like Miranda,” Mal assured him. “My aunt had a seizure when she saw her. She’s okay now, but, but – I never thought this would happen.” Mal let him ramble for a little longer. “You waved me, Tony. What info have you got for me?” Mal used his best Sergeant’s voice and Tony sat up to attention. “I remembered the name of the bounty hunter. His name was Hero Dudge.” “Good work. Leave it with me.” “Mal – what can you do? They’ve convicted her already. The trial starts tomorrow.” Mal could not give him the reassurance he desperately wanted, there were no guarantees in this ‘Verse. “Gotta go, Tony. I’ll be in touch.” Mal broke the com link, and for the first time Tony Pye found something to dislike about Malcolm Reynolds. The man could build you up, but not let you down easy, it always had to be hard. It took an hour for Mal’s wave to get through to Monty. If anyone could give him information about the bounty hunter, Mal thought, it was Monty. “Mal! It’s been too long. You got my order ready at last?” “Slight delay with that, cous. That Alliance problem caught us up. Bane’s been arrested – haven’t you seen the cortex lately?” “Been outta range for a while doin’ business.” “It’s big news. Maybe you should drop in somewhere and catch up.” “Would’ve found out sooner or later. It’s a real shame she’s been pinched. Why’d you wave me?” “Need some Intel. You ever heard of a bounty hunter named Hero Dudge?” Mal could see his cousin thinking. “That name takes me back. During the war, right?” Mal nodded, and waited patiently while Monty tried to recall details. “I remember him cuz of his name – Hero – an’ the fact that he was anything but. Met him once at a gun fair, the man was huge and, boy, did he not favour washing. His ship though, the Red Admiral, she was a beautiful bird. Custom-made.” “He still alive?” Mal could not keep the hope out of his voice. “After the war he kinda disappeared. The word was the Reavers had got him – would have been fittin’, the man was fong luh.” Mal felt dejected, he had been counting on this and now it had gone up in smoke. “Thanks, Monty. Guess there’s really nothing I can do now.” “No, wait, Mal,” said Monty hurriedly. “I said the word was the Reavers had got him. Prob’ly would’ve been better off if they had.” “What?” said Mal impatiently. “God got him instead.” Mal frowned at his cousin, the man could be real annoying sometimes. “Either way he’s dead – what difference does it make who got him?” “My furry pi gu, Mal. He took orders – the man’s a gorram Shepherd.” Mal grinned – the plan was back. “Could kiss you, cousin. Thanks.” Monty smiled and then grew serious. “Knowing the Alliance – will it make any difference?” “Don’t know, but I can likely make it all kinds of messy.” “She’s a good woman, Mal. You could do worse – so could I.” Mal laughed. “Well she does like her aliases, just like Saffron – but I’m kinda spoken for.” Monty thought for a moment, but drew a blank. “Who?” “’Nara.” Mal noticed that Monty did not look all that pleased. “Something wrong with that?” he asked defensively. Monty shrugged as if he did not really care, but his words said otherwise. “Set your sights a bit high, haven’t you, son?” “I’ll be going now, Monty,” answered Mal stiffly, cutting off the wave.

COMMENTS

Thursday, May 17, 2007 8:49 AM

HERMITSREST


Please please post your thoughts as (good or bad) it inspires me to keep writing.
For a quick synopsis of crew members Bane Pye and Karl Jacobsson, see my log.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 11:16 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Said it before and I will say it again...absolutely fabulous work here. Lots of brilliantly written tension and mystery about what happened back in 2511. Even knowing the outcome, I want to see the conclusion ASAP;D

BEB

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 8:34 AM

SCHOONER


Wow. I haven't come across a Firefly courtroom drama. You are combining genres perfectly. Love the tone and dialogue. Great work

Friday, July 11, 2008 4:52 AM

WYTCHCROFT


just re-read this:) great stuff!


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