BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Alliance vs Serenity - Part Two
Friday, May 18, 2007

The trial begins. Can Mal and the others help her before it’s too late? 8th fanfic featuring the usual post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Grateful thanks to BluedEyedBrigadier for the beta. I need feedback like Serenity needs fuel. P.S. I’ve probably been watching too much JAG. Part 2 of 2.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1433    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Bane sat in the court room aware of all the cameras. The number of reporters were limited, but there were so many cameras it was like looking at a giant fly. They covered every angle and direction. She tried her best to ignore them, but knew that there were friends and family out there, watching. Her Advocate sat beside her, blocking out a lot of the cameras for which she was grateful. He had all sorts of com pads and written notes on the table they sat at together. The room was also packed with people, most of them in uniform, high-ranking, and giving her ugly stares. In front of her sat the military panel of seven men – all generals. It was their remit to decide her innocence or her guilt. The Prosecutor stood up and began talking and his speech lasted a full forty-five minutes. She noticed several of the panel were severely bored. She was too, the man was painting her as a crusading terrorist using the war to further her own evil desires, like some wicked witch in a children’s story. Advocate Evensis did not seem bothered by the ranting. When the Prosecutor finally sat down Evensis stood up. His opening speech lasted less than fifteen minutes and Bane began to wish she had a drooling limping monkey for an Advocate. ~ * ~ Mal walked with Zoe along one of the streets on Boros. He knew she was not happy about all this chasing around he was doing and he wanted to talk to her about it. He had been trying to find the right words for some minutes now. “You know how we keep dancing to this same tune?” Mal began. “Sir?” Zoe said, puzzled. “You know, I tell you the plan. You hate the plan. You make a few suggestions and we change the plan slightly. Or circumstances dictate that we have to make a new plan –“ “I get it, Cap’n,” she said, smiling a little. “Well. This thing I’ve been doing for Bane.” “It’s admirable what you’re doing,” said Zoe. “But?” Mal asked. “But we can’t possibly take on the Alliance single handed without drawing a whole lot of attention to ourselves, sir. Those Agents may be dead, but River and Simon’s bounty ain’t.” “You’re spot on right, as always, Zoe. But I can’t play this one safe as long as there’s somethin’ I can do. I don’t even know if the information I have is worth anything. But I gotta try.” Zoe stopped him. “You once told me that no one crew member is expendable. I can’t argue with that. I like Bane my own self, but she knew that if she was arrested that would be it. She’d lived with that acceptance since the war was over. Why is it so important now?” “Because we all got discharged with a pat on the head and a don’t-do-it-again, as well as pay in our pocket. She was sold into slavery and gets to serve a life sentence. The work her and her ma did bought us all time. It just ain’t right what they’re doin’.” They had reached the diner, everyone was there as usual, watching the live coverage of the trial. Before they went inside, Zoe stopped him. “I guess all this non-violent action is making me a mite nervous, sir. It ain’t how we normally do things.” “It’s all kinds of interestin’, ain’t it?” he answered with a grin. Inside the diner they sat down and watched their crew mate as she stood trial. “What’d I miss, Kaylee?” asked Mal. Kaylee swallowed her mouthful of bread roll, she had barely been out of the diner except to sleep and change. She found it fascinating that someone she knew was sitting there in front of all those cameras. Kaylee knew it was serious, but she could just not look away. “Well the Prosecutor called the former Commander of Independent Forces, guy called –“ “Prospero Cortez,” answered Mal, a little in awe. He had never met the man, but it had been his orders they had all followed during the war. “Yep. They got him from prison. They were askin’ him whether he’d heard of Deena Court. He hadn’t. Then they wanted to get up all of the old Commanders when Bane’s Advocate told the panel that he will accept that they all deny knowin’ her, an’ she was never listed as servin’ with the Independents.” “That’s some lawyerin’,” commented Zoe dryly. “I think he’s swai for an older guy,” reflected Kaylee briefly. “At the moment they’re going through the evidence of the Londinium bombing that Bane did. They showed her on security feeds an’ everything,” said Kaylee. Mal looked around at them all, fixated on the trial. He found it impossible to think about anything else as well, they were not getting any richer just sitting here, but he doubted he could get any decent work out of them until it was all over. For good or bad. Over in the corner Simon sat with River, he had been trying to work up the courage to ask her about her feelings if he married Kaylee, but everyone’s attention had been focussed elsewhere. “River,” he said to bring her attention back to him. She turned her head ever so slightly away from the screen to indicate she was listening. Simon sniffed in annoyance, but persevered. “You know that Kaylee and I have been with each other for almost two years.” Maybe that was not the right way to begin, he thought. “I realise life for us is never going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean we –“ Lingren jingyi, he thought, I can reattach someone’s limb, but I can’t articulate to my sister that I want to marry Kaylee more than anything in the ‘Verse – even if that ‘Verse is riddled with danger and uncertainty. River sighed wearily and turned fully to her brother. She gave him the look that made him feel like he had the reading comprehension of a worm. “I want to be bridesmaid,” she said, and went back to watching the trial. Simon’s mouth remained open. “You know you can be a real brat sometimes,” he muttered. “Can’t stop the signal,” she retorted, echoing Mr Universe’s popular adage. “You really don’t mind then?” asked Simon. River turned to him again briefly, still exasperated. “She stops you from being a complete boob. Why should I mind that?” “You know insulting your brother is a sure way not to get invited to the wedding.” River stuck out her tongue at him and Simon could not help laughing. He then looked across at Kaylee who was sitting closest to the screen, completely engrossed in the trial and wondered if there would ever be a right time to ask her. ~ * ~ “The Prosecution calls Colonel James Dedham.” Bane did not turn around as he walked to the front of the courtroom to be sworn in. The injuries he had inflicted had all but disappeared now. After he was sworn in the Prosecutor stood up and walked over to him. “Colonel Dedham. You were an Ensign at the Osiris Small Arms depot in 2511. Tell us your contact with the accused.” Dedham gave a superior winning smile and straightened his dress uniform jacket before speaking. “I was seeing the woman socially for about a month, unaware that she was using me to gain access and information of the depot.” “And how did she do that, Colonel, how did you meet her?” “I used to eat in the same diner every day. She started working there and she made me her mark. She used her body to get information and access to the depot.” “She made you take her on to the base?” “Yes – in order to lay her bombs.” “When did you find out that she wasn’t who she was claiming to be?” “My commanding officer approached me. They had flagged her image on a security feed and identified her as someone they wanted in connection with the Londinium bombing three years before. I was then asked to keep my relationship with the woman in order to incriminate her and any accomplices she might have. It turned out that her mother was the other accomplice.” “Thank you, Colonel. Tell us what happened.” “We gathered evidence for a further month on them, mostly by installing additional and separate security feeds. Unfortunately, on the night we were due to arrest them, they must have realised something was not quite right. Mara Court covered her daughter’s escape by trying to shoot me. I had to shoot her or be killed myself.” “Thank you, Colonel. Your witness,” the Prosecutor said to Evensis. Dedham looked at Bane and smiled. She looked away. Evensis approached where Dedham was sitting. “Colonel. You say that my client ‘used her body to get information and access to the depot.’ Exactly how were you, as an Alliance officer tricked by that?” Dedham did not flinch. He had been well schooled by the Prosecution. “I was an inexperienced Ensign then. Deena Court was well practised. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had trained as a Companion.” “So you blindly handed over critical security information while satisfying your own carnal desires?” “Like I said, Mr Evensis, she was very good at what she did.” Bane sniffed contemptuously. The man had been easier to crack than an egg and that was before she had removed any of her clothes. Evensis changed tack. “At interview my client said her mother was unarmed.” “I can assure you she wasn’t,” Dedham answered easily. Evensis returned to his desk and picked up a com pad. “Defence submits an additional interview given between the Communications Officer of the I.A.V. Malaga and my client. In which it is suggested that you, Colonel, instead of shooting her in self-defence, shot an unarmed woman at close range in the forehead. Then gave her daughter to a bounty hunter for human trafficking.” Dedham’s smiled was erased. “Objection!” shouted the Prosecutor, “My witness is not on trial here. Defence wishes to take the Accused’s word over that of a decorated Colonel.” The panel of Alliance officers looked at each other and asked the two Advocates to approach the bench. No one could hear what they were saying, but Evensis was seen to hand over the com pad for scrutiny. They were asked to return to their seats, but Bane could see that her Advocate was angry. One of the Generals spoke. “The panel are asked to disregard the Defence’s last statement. Colonel Dedham is not on trial here. The accused is being tried for bombing Londinium and setting up the bombing for Osiris. It says here that the only corroborating witness is a bounty hunter who, it appears, is dead. Therefore how she got away is not up for discussion.” There was a noisy buzz of conversation in the court room. “No further questions,” stated Evensis, disappointed. “No further witnesses. Prosecution rests,” said the Prosecutor. “Open and shut case,” whispered Bane to her Advocate, and was shocked when he gave her a look of loathing. He masked it quickly, but it was enough to make her lose any confidence she might have had. “Panel will re-convene in one week,” said the presiding General, and the court was dismissed. Bane was taken back to the cells, grateful that there was no camera in there. They removed the cuffs and slammed the door. She sank down into the corner of the room and stared at the bed. She really was going away for the rest of her life, there was no hope left. Bane bent her head to her knees and tried not to cry. ~ * ~ “Hello, Abbot Peter,” said Mal into the com. “I know it’s late an’ I apologise.” “Not at all, Captain Reynolds. We haven’t heard from you since you gave us the news of Derrial’s death. What can I do for you?” “I know this is a long shot, but do you know of a Shepherd called Dudge?” Abbot Peter looked surprised. “Hieronymus Dudge?” “Sounds about right,” said Mal, he could see now why the man had gone by the name Hero. “Why he’s here at the Abbey, has been for years. Shall I get him for you?” Once Mal got over his initial surprise, he thought quickly. “No, Abbot. I’d be grateful if you could wait until I get there. I need to speak to him on a matter of conscience.” Abbot Peter was a trusting man, his friend Derrial had spoken of Captain Reynolds often. If the man finally wanted to unburden his troubles to God, then he was not going to stand in his way. “When can I expect you?” “I’m on Boros at the moment. I can probably be on Persephone in three or four days. I’ll come an’ see you then.” “Look forward to it, Captain. Good night.” Mal went to find Kaylee, if the ship was ready then they could leave right away. Serenity left Boros three hours later. Their delay had been due to Karl and Jayne going on a drinking binge and being difficult to locate. The fact that they refused to tell him why, provoked Mal into confining them to the ship once they reached Persephone. He knew why really, but two grown men moping around over the loss of their friend was no help to anyone. ~ * ~ Bane didn’t look up when her cell door opened, remaining perfectly still in the corner of the room. She heard the door close and someone walk across the floor before the sound of her plastic mattress sagging. She was surprised to look up and see Major Wladek. “I’d say it was nice to see you, Major, but I ain’t sure exactly why you’re here.” Wladek leaned back against the wall. “Your Advocate wants me to take the stand.” The trial would re-convene in just three days. Bane shook her head. “Won’t do no good. They won’t let you talk about that interview I did with you.” “I’m going to tell him about the assault he made on you before that interview. It’s a slim chance, but it might give the Advocate the leeway he needs to get them to drop the Osiris charges.” Bane sighed. “I can’t see what difference it makes, Major. I’m going to prison for the rest of my life anyway. Another five or ten years on top of thirty ain’t gonna make much difference.” Wladek responded quietly. “Then tell me who you really are,” he carried on before she could interrupt. “It’s the only way they’ll drop all charges. If you’re on those lists, then the bombing comes under Acts of War, not terrorism and they have to.” Bane looked at him like he was stupid. “You think I don’t know that? Major, I’ve searched the lists of Special Ops. Neither myself or my mother are on there. I have absolutely no reason to shame my family’s name by announcing it to the ‘Verse. I’ll serve my time as Deena Court.” “Is that your last word on the matter?” Bane tried to smile, but could not find the energy. “You want to help, Major?” she asked. He gave a slight nod. “When this is all over see if you can arrange it so I get a room with a view, so I can see sky. All this grey is sending me a little crazy.” “I’ll do my best, Deena,” he replied and left the room. He admired her for her stubbornness, but then an idea came to him. He was about to turn around and return to her cell then stopped himself. There was possibly another way of doing this. ~ * ~ “I need to speak to Captain Reynolds,” said Pavel Wladek. Jayne looked at him in the view screen menacingly, and he could be suitably menacing. “He ain’t here,” he replied. “Can you get him?” “What do you want?” “I’d rather discuss it with Captain Reynolds.” “Hell, I ain’t runnin’ after him ‘less’n you tell me what fer. You tell me an’ I decide.” Wladek sighed, time was running out. Dedham was gone – almost. Wladek had been on the stand that day and he had been very forthcoming. Dedham’s evidence had been called into question. Jayne looked across at Karl in the cockpit, through the hours of being confined aboard ship, they had gradually gravitated up to the cockpit where they had heard the com link alarm. “It’s about Deena Court – I need to know who she really is.” Jayne laughed. “Her name’s Deena. That’s all we knew her by.” “She would have no reason to use that name after the war,” he replied angrily, trying to keep his emotions in check. “Look she’s looking at thirty or more years in prison. You really want that for her?” “’Cordin’ to the cortex, it’s already bin decided,” answered Karl. Wladek could not see the other man, so he presumed it was Reynolds. “Look,” he persisted. “Deena told me herself that she’s not on the lists for Special Ops. She might easily be on other lists. If she is, then she walks free from court with no record.” He lowered his voice a little. “If she’s not on those lists – I can put her in.” Jayne was not fooled. “Why would you do that, mister? Ain’t you also a Purplebelly that’d like to see her locked up?” Wladek sighed, was everyone in the Black really as stubborn and distrustful as Deena? “I’m after Colonel Dedham. If Deena is proved innocent, then his story about the Osiris job is put down as complete fiction. I can get him on human trafficking, as well as the other deals he has done.” “Thought the bounty hunter was dead?” said Karl, coming into view on the com. Wladek did not look put off. “Well, maybe I can’t get him on the trafficking, but I can still get him on the lesser charges.” “What if the bounty hunter was alive?” said Jayne. He was not sure he should be telling the man anything, but he was glad Karl was with him. Wladek took his meaning and his eyes widened briefly. “Where is he?” “Captain’s gone to get him. He’s at the Southdown Abbey. Ruttin’ guy’s a gorram Shepherd.” Wladek smiled for the first time in weeks. “Her Advocate will be very pleased to see him. Will he come to Londinium?” “Cap’n’s mighty persuasive, even if the man ain’t inclined.” “You’ll need to hurry. I’ll pass the information on to her Advocate. Thank you. Now what about her real name?” “Hang on,” said Jayne, and he swivelled around to talk to Karl, out of earshot of Wladek. “Not sure we’re doing the right thing by talkin’ to this Purplebelly.” Karl shrugged. “Bit late now. Already told the man about the bounty hunter.” “Kinda wishin’ that we hadn’t answered the com right now.” Karl appeared on the view screen. “If Deena ain’t givin her real name, then we ain’t obligin’.” Wladek was annoyed. Karl moved away and started to walk out of the cockpit. Jayne looked at the man on the view screen, and then looked at Karl. “Bane Pye,” he said, and cut the connection. “What’d you do that for?” shouted Karl angrily. Jayne shrugged. “Like you said – damage is done.” “You wanna tell Mal that when he comes back?” “He don’t haveta know. He’s taking the preacher to Londinium anyway.” They heard a noise on the stairs and both of them ran out of the cockpit and into the galley. Pavel Wladek sat back in his chair. The name sounded like a boy’s and Deena Court was most definitely not a man. He had heard of the name Pye. He went into the cortex archives and entered the name, finding the information promptly, but not in the place he expected. He was greeted with a film of an anthropological study documentary on the nomadic Pye Fleet, who had some particularly interesting customs and traditions that could be traced to their origins on Earth-That-Was. It had been filmed two years before the war. He watched it. Twenty minutes in, there she was, saying her name to the interviewer. He grinned and watched the rest. It cut to them working and serving food, Bane was being teased by one of her older brothers, probably because she had lately come to puberty and started to develop. Before the camera cut she had pushed him to the ground and was pounding him. He knew he had all he needed, but carried on watching all the same. ~ * ~ The first thing that registered with Mal and Zoe about the Abbey, was all the gardening that was being done. Plants and vegetables grew in huge great lines. Abbot Peter stood up and walked over to them with a beaming smile. Mal introduced Zoe who nodded at him in her friendliest standoffish manner. He ushered them into the great stone Abbey and up to his office, calling to another to send up Shepherd Dudge. Although he could see their impatience, he offered them drinks and food by way of normal hospitality. The fact that Reynolds had bought someone with him, meant that he was unlikely to be unburdening himself anytime soon. Which meant that they had come for something else. There was a knock at the door and he went to answer it. “Come in, Hieronymus. Thank you for attending so promptly.” Dudge said nothing, but he noted that there were others in the room. Mal and Zoe observed the man, he looked every inch like he had been a bounty hunter, but seeing him in Abbey clothing was disconcerting. “May I introduce you to Captain Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburne, his First Mate. They have requested an audience with you.” Abbot Peter gave Mal a stern look as he sat back down at his desk. “I surmise that he has not come on a matter of conscience,” his tone was reproving, he did not like people lying to him. Mal spoke up. “It was not my conscience that I was referrin’ to, Abbot,” Mal said defensively. “But the Shepherd’s here.” “I renounced and asked forgiveness for my evil ways when I took my vows, Captain. My conscience is clear.” Shepherd Dudge clearly wanted to leave the room, but could not do so now until Abbot Peter had dismissed him. “One of our crew could do with your help, Shepherd,” said Zoe. Dudge backed away to the door. “I am not responsible for –“ “Hieronymus,” interrupted Abbot Peter. “Sit down and hear them out.” Dudge did as he was told and sat down. Abbot Peter then turned to Mal and Zoe. “Come to the point, both of you or I will cut this short.” Mal tightened his lips to bite back an angry retort and Zoe uncharacteristically answered for him. “You took possession of a woman on Osiris in 2511 called Alice Pan – from a man called James Dedham.” She said it as a statement, but looked at Dudge expecting an answer. They could both see that Dudge remembered. “I remember,” replied Dudge warily, looking at Abbot Peter for reassurance. Zoe glanced at Mal and received the silent affirmation to continue. “He told you she was an escaped indentured servant. She wasn’t, she was wanted by the Alliance for bombing the Londinium Weapons factory and for the attempted bombing of the Osiris depot. Her name then was Deena Court.” She saw his eyebrows raise. Well one of them – the other was just scar tissue. “You know the name?” “Well, yes. It was a long time ago, you understand,” said Dudge. “Every bounty hunter wanted a piece of that action, but she just disappeared. The woman I transported was Deena Court?” Zoe nodded. “How much did you pay for her?” “Nothing. Dedham paid me. Fifty credits, which was enough to cover the fuel to Ariel. He said that he needed her delivered to a particular brothel there. I would be paid on delivery, but could try and barter for a higher price. He enjoyed telling me what he had done to her. As a result I didn’t believe his story about her being a servant. I just thought she had pissed him off.” “So why’d you sell her on and not report him?” “I had dealt with him before – that’s why he came to me. He knew I needed the credit and, being a Purplebelly, he could bring me up on charges for other activities he knew I’d done.” Dudge looked at the Abbot again and then back at Mal and Zoe. “Look, I can’t see how any of this helps now. I’m glad the girl survived to join your crew, though God knows what she would have gone through.” Mal’s lips tightened again. “God had nothing to do with it, which is why she ended up as Adelai Niska’s toy. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have come across that name in your previous line of work, Shepherd.” Mal practically spat out the last word. Dudge had gone white, and the scars on his face showed more prominently. “What are you asking me to do?” he queried in a small voice, the guilt weighing heavy on his conscience. “Testify at her trial on Londinium. If you tell the court the truth then Dedham goes away. You know he’s a shiny Colonel now?” Dudge did not answer. Abbot Peter answered for him. “You cannot force Shepherd Dudge to do anything he does not wish to. Allow me to speak to him in private and I will give you my decision.” “There’s no time, Abbot,” said Mal, still angry. “Nevertheless, you are on Abbey property and he is under my protection. You will wait outside.” Mal and Zoe had no choice, they could not exactly kidnap the man in front of Abbot Peter – which had been Mal’s ‘Plan B’. They waited a long thirty minutes before the Abbot opened his door and allowed Shepherd Dudge to walk past him. “Hieronymus has agreed to go with you. May I have your assurance that he will come to no harm and you will bring him back as soon as he has testified?” Mal held out his hand to Abbot Peter, very much relieved. “I will, Abbot.” ~ * ~ Major Wladek went to see the Advocate at his hotel room. Sheldon Evensis was one of the most famous lawyers in the ‘Verse, he had cultivated his skills over twenty or more years in the courtroom. He had presided over numerous war crimes tribunals, but he had always been the Prosecutor, until now. His questioning of Major Wladek the day before had been advantageous to his case, unfortunately it had achieved little for his client - which was why he was surprised to see Wladek at his door now. “May I come in, Mr Evensis?” “Certainly, Major. What can I do for you?” Wladek came in and sat down. “I realise that there is very little keeping your client out of jail right now.” Evensis had already admitted defeat, even if he was not happy about. “Yes, well. She won’t help herself either.” “I might be able to.” He stood up and put the small com disk into the hotel’s view screen. Bane’s face appeared in giant petulance as her mother, Rosa Pye, introduced the interviewer to her family. Wladek had done his research. The whole family had served for the Independents in one way or another. The father, Lyndon, had died at Serenity Valley on Hera. Eldest son, Lyndon Jr, had been a pilot and was killed in one of the many air battles. Two other brothers, Marcus and Harry, barely out of basic training, had been killed in their first battle at Du-Khang in 2510. Only her brother, Tony, had survived as well as her. She had not been kidding when she said she was a survivor. Evensis watched in amazement. “How did you get this?” he asked, still watching the film. “Bit of luck. Her name, as she you heard a couple of seconds ago, is Bane Pye. Born in the Black on 17th April 2490. Family was part of the Pye Fleet.” He relayed the biographical details he had found on her and the family. “But that name, nor her mother’s, are not on the Special Ops lists.” “No, they aren’t,” said Wladek, handing over a small com pad, “But they are on another list. Logisitics Corps – Food Supplies.” Evensis read it and smiled. “I’ll contact the Panel. Likely we can get the charges dismissed without going into court again.” He took the disc off the port and started to key in some numbers. “No,” said Wladek. Evensis stopped and turned round. “I want Dedham. And I want it public.” “It won’t do any good, the man’s actions aren’t enough to do anything.” “I found the bounty hunter. He’s on his way here. Man’s a Shepherd of all things now.” Evensis cancelled the com link. “He should be here in a couple of days.” Evensis felt the familiar adrenaline course through his veins when he knew he had won a case. “Major Wladek – I do believe I’ll be happy to accommodate you.” ~ * ~ “Defence calls Shepherd Hieronymus Dudge.” “Objection!” shouted the Prosecution immediately. “The Panel has already established that it is the defendant’s word against Colonel Dedham.” They had been given warning of the former bounty hunter’s attendance. “Because the bounty hunter was believed to be dead, General,” argued Evensis quickly. “He is not dead and therefore his testimony must now be relevant.” The Prosecution blustered more, but he could already see that the Panel had no choice, especially after they had announced it to all the cameras the week before. “The witness will be called,” said the presiding general. Shepherd Dudge approached the witness box limping and Bane studied him. He had not aged well, there was a vicious scar across one cheek that went down below his collar. That same scar had blinded him in one eye, the Reavers had made a good go of trying to kill him. She had nothing against the bounty hunter, he had never touched her or treated her roughly. He had just been making money on unwanted goods. Despite that Bane could not help a little shiver at the memory. She looked across at the Prosecution who were deep in conversation. Evensis stood up and walked over to him after he had been sworn in. “Shepherd Dudge. May I ask how long you’ve been a Shepherd?” “I took my vows about eight years ago and I’ve been at the Southdown Abbey on Persephone ever since.” “Why did you become a Shepherd?” “Objection! Relevancy?” “I’m simply trying to establish the witness’s character, your Honours,” placated Evensis and Bane could tell he was enjoying himself. The General discussed with his colleagues. “We will allow it, but come to the point now.” “Very well,” he turned to Dudge, “You may answer the question.” “As a registered bounty hunter, I came across the effluent of society and started turning that way myself. It took an encounter with Reavers to make me see the light – or God as you call it.” He earned himself a little titter from the media gallery. “When I recovered, I revoked my license and took the ways of our Lord.” Evensis pulled himself up to his fullest height and managed to make it seem that he was directly addressing everyone in the room and all the cameras. “Tell us about your knowledge of the Defendant.” Dudge took a breath and Bane could see that the memory was difficult for him, then he turned his eyes towards her and they were full of shame and remorse. He spoke slowly. “I was given her by an Ensign from the Small Arms depot on Osiris, who’s name was James Dedham. It was not the first time we’d had dealings. She was unconscious; having been drugged and severely beaten. I examined her before I agreed to take her off his hands, as I didn’t want her dying in transit. She had a broken arm, several broken fingers, a cracked jaw, as well as a severely battered face, and a few broken ribs. Dedham told me she was an escaped indentured servant whose owners did not want her back, but I didn’t believe him. He paid me fifty credits which covered travel expenses an’ told me that someone was waiting to buy her at the Grey Lotus brothel on Arial. That’s where I took her. Dedham told me her name was Alice Pan, he never got to mentionin’ that she was wanted by the Alliance.” Although he was speaking slowly and articulating his words, every so often she would pick up his spacer accent. “She never said a word while she was with me; might’ve been on account of the cracked jaw or just that she wasn’t inclined. I didn’t ask too many questions in those days.” “Your Honours,” announced Evensis grandly. “I ask that the Osiris sting operation be stricken from the record of this Court. It seems clear that Colonel Dedham was in fact manipulating my client for his own ends, not the other way around.” There was loud talking in the court room and the presiding General banged his gavel. “Order,” he announced, and then discussed with his colleagues. It was some time before he spoke again. “The evidence submitted concerning the attempted Osiris bombing will be discarded.” He looked at Dedham across the room, who was now clearly sweating. Once he had realised who the next witness was, he had been unable to escape as Major Wladek had posted men at the doors. “It is likely that the Internal Affairs division will want to speak to you, Colonel.” All the cameras swung on him briefly and then back to Evensis as he spoke. Bane turned around as well, through the throng of people she caught his attention. His look was murderous, but she was not afraid of him, the man was going down as well. “Your witness,” Evensis finished, sitting down. The Prosecution wavered, but then capitulated, they still had the Accused on the Londinium bombing. “No further questions,” the Prosecutor said, remaining seated. Evensis stood up again. “Defence calls Deena Court.” Bane cracked her knuckles nervously and stood up. On Persephone Lo and Margaret Pye’s living room was full of family, sitting in absolute silence as they watched the proceedings. In a seedy bar in the Scotia Docks on Londinium, the crew of Serenity also watched the live feed. Mal knew he had done everything he could, likely it would not help Bane now, but at least Dedham was a nuisance well disposed of. Karl and Jayne looked at each other nervously, they had already seen the man that they had spoken to on the com link in the court room, he was sitting behind Bane and her Advocate. Although there were still other things going on in the bar, most others were also engrossed in the viewing. Back in the court room Bane had just been sworn in. Evensis walked over to her. “You understand why you are on trial, Miss Court?” “Yes. For the bombing of the Londinium Weapons factory, which I did with my mother.” There was a buzz of noise in the room. “So you don’t deny it?” “No. Well, we were caught on the feed, so there’s no use.” Evensis continued. “Why did you bomb the factory?” “Because we were ordered to.” “Who by?” “By Independent Command.” The Prosecution interrupted loudly, just as Evensis had hoped. “Objection! It has already been established that the defendant did not work in Special Operations. She cannot therefore have been working under the instruction of the Independent Command.” Evensis was facing Bane and she saw his mouth turn up in a smile, and figured that she would never understand lawyers. “That’s correct,” said the presiding General. “Advocate Evensis, move along with your questioning.” “Yes, General,” said Evensis. He paused, until he was sure he had everyone’s attention and silence. “Your real name is Bane Pye, is it not?” Bane went completely white, but Evensis kept staring at her. He knew the truth, but how? She looked into the cameras, reaching out all those she knew and giving them a silent apology, before hanging her head in shame. “Yes,” she said quietly into the microphone. The court erupted in a volcano of noise at her word. The Prosecution stood up to object again, but the presiding General hammered on his gavel. “Silence! SILENCE!” he shouted. “Advocate Evensis, if you intend to prove that this woman is someone else, it better be proof, or I will have you in Contempt.” At their desk, the Prosecution was furiously rifling through their papers and com pads. “Yes, your Honours,” replied Evensis deftly. He gave a long pause again. “What was your mother’s name?” “Rosa Pye.” “Did you and your mother enlist in Special Operations?” “I thought so, but I was only sixteen when the war broke out.” “Your Honours, I would like to submit proof of my client’s identity.” He lifted a data disc. “I have here an anthropological study done by the University of New Belgium in 2504.” He walked over to the large view screen and inserted the disc. Up came the family shot of the Pyes. After the short scene was finished, Evensis walked up to Bane again. There was not a sound in the room. “You and your mother aren’t on the Special Ops lists, are you?” Bane widened her eyes and blinked to try and stop the tears forming. “No.” She was going to jail and she had disgraced her family. She looked over at Wladek, this was why she had not wanted to reveal her name. Wladek looked back at her with a tense unreadable expression on his face. Evensis walked over to his desk and picked up a com pad, speaking loudly to the room, rather than Bane. “According to the records, you served in the Independent Logistics Corps – Food Supplies Division.” The court room erupted again. During the continued noise that followed his statement, Evensis handed the com pad over to the Panel. They read it, not bothering to silence anyone until they were finished. Bane lowered her head again and breathed deeply, closing her eyes. She dared not lift her head in case it turned out she was still in her grey cell, sitting on the floor going moon-brained. The gavel hammered continuously until some kind of order had been established. The presiding General did not look happy and neither did the rest of the Panel, they had allowed the trial to be made public and it had just backfired monumentally in their faces. “The Panel has studied the evidence.” Wladek could see that the words were choking him. He also knew that his chances of promotion were now extremely slim. “This Military court was convened on the premise that the Accused, Deena Court – real name Bane Pye – was not enlisted in the Independent Forces during the Unification War, and acted under her own cognition when committing the bombing of the Londinium Weapons factory and the Osiris Small Arms Depot. This has now been disproved.” He turned to face her directly. “Bane Pye. You are free to go.” The court room descended into chaos, as the generals left the room quickly. Bane blinked rapidly and tried not to let the feelings overwhelm her. There were people surging forward to congratulate her Advocate. The reporters were trying to get access to her, but could not due to Feds blocking the way. She stepped down from the witness box and back towards her Advocate. Evensis tore himself away from the plaudits to turn around. “Thank you, Mr Evensis. I dint think I’d be standin’ here free under my own name.” Evensis stepped towards her, back to the cameras and lowered his voice. She saw the look she had seen briefly before – loathing. “If we’d been in a civilian court room, Miss Pye, I would have been a Prosecutor and you would’ve gone away for a long time.” Bane flinched as his face became angry. “I think you and your kind are scum. Roaming the ‘Verse with your own rules, not caring about things people have taken hundreds of years to create. You listen to me, I did this because I owed a debt to Malcolm Reynolds for saving my daughter, Sheydra’s life. That’s the only reason. You tell him we’re even.” She could feel the venom in his voice, but she had no sympathy or agreement for his views. She said nothing in response and he seemed disappointed. He turned away again, back to his media. Bane looked around at all the strangers’ faces, she wanted to be home with friends and family, back in the Black. “Miss Pye?” said Shepherd Dudge. She turned to him. “I never thought I would have an opportunity to say this. I hope you can find it in yourself to forgive me for what I did to you.” “You dint do anything to me, Shepherd,” said Bane. “If I remember rightly, you treated me well enough.” She looked at his elderly face and smiled. “Maybe there is something I can do for you.” He looked around. “A certain Firefly-class transport vessel escorted me here. Can I accompany you to the docks?” Bane looked at him with an open mouth and then beamed. “I think that would be a wonderful idea, Shepherd.” Major Wladek came up to her next, she held out her hand and shook it warmly. “Major.” “Thank you, Miss Pye,” he said politely. Dedham was already in custody and he was uncommonly pleased that this woman had been proven innocent. “Name’s Bane. I can’t thank you enough for finding that list. Why dint you tell me when you came to see me last?” Pavel Wladek leaned forward, as if he was going to kiss her on the cheek. “Your names weren’t on the list then,” he whispered, before he straightened up again, smiling. Bane thought it was probably the closest she had come to having a heart attack at that moment. “Call me Pavel. And I hope you will allow me to escort you both from the building to avoid all this media.” ~ * ~ As soon as the verdict was announced, and after a little celebrating, Mal ordered them back to the ship. They were all waiting for Bane to appear. Kaylee anxiously hovered on the ramp, River was nervous, so was Karl. Jayne was just relieved it had all turned out well, considering he had kind of betrayed her. River’s hand slipped into his and he looked down at her. “You saved her, Jayne,” she said quietly. Kaylee whooped and started running, the woman had good eyesight, thought Karl, who still could not see her. Then he did and he started forward as well. Kaylee hugged Bane and they walked arm in arm to the ship. River ran forward and then stopped, unsure of what kind of welcome she deserved. Bane ran the last few steps to her and gave her a bone breaking hug. “I’m sorry,” River whispered. Bane pressed her forehead against River’s so she could feel all her joy. River burst into tears as well. Bane took her hand and then reached the ramp. Mal stood there, arms folded, looking like a benevolent Buddha without the paunch. “Permission to come aboard, Cap’n?” she grinned. “Well, now. We’ve been chasin’ across the ‘Verse for you, reckon you might be worth it.” “Thank you, Cap’n,” she said sincerely. She hugged him too. There was a whole lot of hugging going on. Mal moved off the ramp to greet the Shepherd. When it came to Karl, Bane treated him like all the others, giving him a hug, as she was too embarrassed to do anything else. She was home again and it felt wonderful. Zoe noticed that they were drawing a bit of a crowd and she caught Mal’s eye. “Okay, people. Time to get into the Black. There’s a whole lotta hugging that can go on behind closed doors.” * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Author’s Note: Edited in September 2007 (Always looking to improve!).

COMMENTS

Friday, May 18, 2007 2:14 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.

Friday, May 18, 2007 4:50 AM

AMDOBELL


I absolutely loved this to bits, especially Mal pulling out all the stops and Jayne blurting out what he knew in the hopes of maybe helping Bane. In the end that piece of scum Dedham ended up being the one looking at doing time and Bane ending up free! Yay, fabulous work, and liked that last line. Now, what's this with you teaching the crew German for the next chapter? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, May 19, 2007 3:57 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...the next part will knock your socks off with it's hilarity, AMDOBELL;)

And though I am biased - being the beta for this and all - I have to say this was all kinds of brilliant work here, hermitsrest! You've definitely captured the brilliance of a properly-done courtroom drama here with Bane's defence

Saying that...even with the addition of the part where Evensis recognizes Sheydra as his daughter, I still get the impression his bias should have caused him to recuse himself from the case. Though I doubt any lawyer of any skill practising in the Core would be openly sympathetic to the Independents;)

BEB

Friday, July 11, 2008 4:55 AM

WYTCHCROFT


loved it - nice to read about an OC shepherd that doesn't seem like a Book clone.

And all the elements of the drama were very well woven:)


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