Bladud [7]
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Final stuff on Cairo. Serenity has to get off the planet in a hurry and picks up some unexpected, living...cargo. This gets redistributed along the way. Vera gives birth.


PART SEVEN * We all now can see you; all eyes are upon you Fly now, Bladud, head the calling Born to a bird's cry; sworn to the open sky Fly now, Bladud; aethro vates Your life is a-ripening, friend of fools Your wings are opening; sail on air Fly now, Bladud; aethro vates Sower and reaper, harvest is here Swine were your keeper, Breaker of promises. Seeker and dreamer, ride on air Fly now, Bladud, aethro vates * Fly now, Bladud - Avalonian Free State Choir [See part 1 for a guide to this song] *

Everyone who was old enough to drink alcohol was getting on the outside of a beer or three, whilst the children had some kind of local lemon-flavoured cola. Vera had one beer, then ordered alcohol-free lager. It wasn't great, but the taste was close to acceptable. Mal peeked up at the windows, “Getting gorram hot out there.” “Usually does, sir.” Zoe commented dryly. “I know; we've been in forty plus degree heat for some time now, but I think today's gonna be a belter. it me, or is it fixing to be extra hot today?” The barman, a weathered man somewhere in his fifties nodded, “Sirocco winds off the desert, sir. Hits everything with an extra hot gust 'bout this time of year. It'll be as dry as old Maggie's nipples out there, over fifty for a good month or so. We heard about what you and the others did 'gainst that bunch of Reavers out in the desert. Drinks on the house.” Jayne slashed a grin and waggled a mostly empty pint glass of ale, “Well, in that case, keep 'em comin'!” His left arm was mercifully free from metal now and merely had a firm bandage from shoulder to wrist to help it finish healing. “I'll see about some fixings to go with that.” The barkeep returned with a tray of drinks and a lazy Susan which had olives, seeds, grapes, some small round cheeses, dried tomatoes and nuts on it, “We don't generally do a lunch menu here; it's too hot to eat much. There'll be camel steak and goat tonight, late on.” Mal nodded, “Hoping to be setting off into the black afore that; but thanks for the thought. Just got a few bits and bobs to load on Serenity and see if anyone's got cargo they need delivering.” “Well, if you know anyone as'd like a huge supply of pickled olives and the oil... We had a bumper crop last Winter and we're practically swimming in them!” “We'll buy a large tub of olives and maybe fifty litres of olive oil for our own use.” Kaylee was clearly thinking, “If I tweak the engine hard enough, she'll run on olive oil for a while. Might be handy if we run outta the regular stuff.” “How much do you need?” Kaylee considered, “Slow burn; enough to hopefully get us limping to the nearest regular gas station... Couple of hundred litres?” Mal looked at the barkeep, “Looks like we've got customers in our own selves, then.” Jayne pitched in, “Have you got those green olives with the red bits inside them?” “You mean stuffed with pimentos?” Jayne shrugged, “Reckon so; could do with some of those fer myself. Love those little hwoon dahn things!” “For bulk oil and a load of olives, I'll do you it at little more than cost plus containers.” Figures were bandied about, then Mal spat on his hand, clasped the barkeep's hand and the deal was done. * The sun was bouncing fiercely off every surface when they got back outside. Vera squinted, “Could do with sunglasses *on my sunglasses.” Jayne nodded, “Tis powerful strong.” Mal nodded, business-like, “Well, we've got a heap of olives and oil to stow, then we should check the inventory, make sure there's nothing else we need.” “How are the vegetables growing?” Mal clearly hadn't looked at them recently, but covered himself, “Yeah, better check them too. Might need to get some new seed about now for the next crop.” The next couple of hours or so were pretty busy, what with stowing the cargo, restocking and preparing for departure. River was in the cockpit of Serenity, checking the dials. Mal touched her shoulder, “Ready for take-off?” River nodded, then looked up through the window, “They're back... There are Reavers really mad at what was done to one of their colonies.” “Whu...?” Suddenly, there was an almighty explosion in amongst the buildings of Alexandria, followed by several others. Mal rapidly sat down in the other seat, “Okay; getting out of here asap.” “We have to save the children.” “What children?” Mal was flipping switches, mind focussed on take off. River pointed, “*Those children...” * He looked and indeed, there were about thirty children of assorted ages running their way, screaming and yelling. The explosions continued, Alexandria rapidly disintegrating and falling apart even as they watched. He pulled down the com, “Whoever's down there, let those kids aboard.” The sound of a significant number of feet pounding on the tail flap was followed by it being raised and Serenity taking off. River smiled warmly, “You've saved Alexandria's future.” “Everyone else is gonna die?” River pointed, “Look.” Alexandria was in flames and now crawling with Reavers. “Oh, gao yang jong duh goo yang... I hope we rutting get outta here in one piece.” Mal put out an emergency signal for immediate assistance to come to Cairo. There was precious little they could do to alleviate what was happening on the ground. River put her head on one side, concentrating, “They won't see us. We'll slip right by them.” They broke atmo and hit the black, making the best speed possible. Mal decided not to ask how they'd managed that. Thoughts of River being able to camouflage the whole ship were too disturbing to think about for too long. * “Okay, albatross,” Mal said, “What do we do with thirty odd kids on board?” River smiled, “Take them to Jayne's sister and mother. They'll look after them.” Mal did a quick calculation, “Vera will be close to her time when we get there.” River's smile warmed, “Baby's gonna be born in the same bed as his Pa.” “Yeah and in the mean time, we've got thirty extra mouths to feed *and keep outta trouble.” “There's a supply station a week away.” “Well, make for it; best speed. I'll go down and see if I can knock some sense and order into these kids.” Mal stomped all captainy down the steps. Jayne was facing off opposite the kids, trying to glower, but it wasn't entirely working. The children were looking at him with awe and burgeoning hero worship. Vera was standing nearer the children. She had one rug rat clinging to her leg already and was trying to pick the small child up, around her pregnancy bump. Ares was going around and around the group, tail wagging. Mal saw thirty frightened, tearful and shocked faces, ranging from about three to teenage. The younger ones were either crying openly or wailing. He sighed. “” One young teenage lad stepped forward, “Sir... Thank-you for saving us. They bombed our school and we ran.” Mal knew a spokesperson when he saw one, “What's your name, sonny?” “Jessop, sir. This is my sister Annie and the twins Karl and Hugo. I'm fifteen, she's twelve and the twins are ten.” “We're taking you all somewhere safe until all those Reavers have been dealt with. I've alerted the authorities and sent word down to Edfu. Until recently, we weren't kitted out for small 'uns. There's Sarah who's three and Kaylee's twins who will be two very soon and you can see that Vera's about to have one of her own. Thing is, there's plenty of dangerous stuff around on board. Little fingers fiddling could get us spaced. I'll let you guys share a couple of spare dorms and the girls can do the same. But you older ones have *got to keep an eye on the tinies, dong ma? No going *anywhere without a responsible adult or two.” Jessop nodded, “I've been in space afore, sir. On another Firefly, even. I'll look after 'em.” Vera had one child balanced rather precariously on each side of her bump by now, “Mal... Would juice and a cookie each be a good plan?” Mal smiled a tiny bit, “Yeah. Good plan. If Kaylee's finished tending the engine, she could bring the twins out to say hi. I'll rustle up Inara, Zoe, Cliff, Sarah and Simon.” Jayne had given in to the sad faces and was dangling several of the smallest children from his person, “C'mon kiddies. Mind the steps...” * Some of the children were still blubbing, even after juice and cookies. The galley was packed with bodies, what with thirty children plus assorted crew strewn around. One small girl was crawling all over Jayne and mussing his hair. “Geroff!” But he didn't exactly mean it. Kaylee came in and introduced her two. The next hours were taken up with a lot of hugging, wiping eyes and noses and providing general reassurance. Eventually all the children settled down for the night, but Cliff and River stayed on watch in case of wandering and nightmares. Seeing your home being blown to bits and consumed by Reavers was bound to be traumatic. * Mal received a Wave from Edfu the next morning, saying they'd take in a lot of the children. They were in the process of battening down the hatches and preparing for a seige against the arrival of Reavers. Mal checked the credentials then he, Inara and River handed most of the children back to representatives from their planet. Reinforcements were on the way from Ariel to help deal with the ongoing Reaver problem. Some more children elected to stay at the supply station, so Mal got their names logged and made sure they would be looked after until someone came to get them. At every re-fuel or planet stop en route, more children found temporary homes. By the time Serenity hit atmo at Newhall, all the children apart from Jessop and his siblings and a few of the others were left, including the three year old girl who had mussed Jayne's hair. * Vera was carrying a small overnight bag down to the cargo bay when she suddenly doubled over. A second later, so did Jayne. “What the gorram was that?” “Think I'm starting, wan nao.” His eyes bugged out, “But I had this terrible stabbin' pain in my gut.” Vera sat down as another hit, “Yeah. Make mine labour, ai ren.” Jayne had hit the deck just after her, gasping, “Doc!” Simon came running and popped a painkilling hypo into both of them. He checked Vera first. “Yeah, first stage labour. Keep breathing.” Then he went to Jayne, “Where's the pain?” “All over the ruttin' place.” Simon palpitated Jayne's belly, “Not your appendix, anyway. Hmmm. Can't feel any swelling, no hernias.” Jayne buckled again, a micro-second after Vera. Simon put two and two together, “Well, I've heard of it of course, but this is almost unprecedented.” “What the ruttin' gorram is it, doc? Will I live?” Simon clasped Jayne's shoulder, “Sorry Jayne. Sympathetic labour pains.” Jayne's eyes bugged, “Well, give me some shots, doc! Stop it!!” “Painkiller's the best I can do. You both got the strongest dose I want to risk; it'll kick in soon.” So, in the end, it was two somewhat inarticulate people who were helped and semi-carried off Serenity and into the Cobb homestead. * Sam and Hillary Cobb and Matty and her fella and kids managed to get a lot of things organised in very short order without making a fuss. Mal guided the children – including Sara and the twins - over to Matty's house and most of the crew went with them. Simon stayed in the Cobb house with Jayne, Vera and Clarry. They'd managed to get Vera and Jayne to the bed in his old room and now Simon checked both their vitals again. He looked at Vera first, “Well, it's early yet, but you're doing okay.” Vera was trying to remember her breathing, “Flipping hurts, Simon.” She groaned loudly as another contraction hit and Jayne echoed her. He glowered, “Gorram, doc; can't you stop it?” Simon looked at him, “Labour's part of getting the baby out, Jayne. Sympathetic pain is unusual, to say the least. I'll contact the local medical services and see if there's any way of rustling a TENS machine for each of you.” * He hurried to ask Sam and Hillary about using their phone. It was three long hours later before they arrived. Vera had taken to walking around the bedroom in circuits and was leaning on nearby walls and furniture when the contractions hit. Jayne was right behind her and applying fairly hard pressure to Vera's lower back during each contraction, which helped her and also served to ease what he was going through. Simon wired them into the TENS machines and the pacing continued, with the discomfort thereby reduced to a dull roar every few minutes. Clarry and Sam Cobb ferried up water, glucose and damp flannels. Later, Clarry and Mal fetched Sarah's old cot and a pile of cast off baby clothes from Serenity. The day wore on. Sarah looked at her mother, “Vera's having her baby.” “Yes, sweetie.” “'N it's gonna be a boy.” “Yes, dear.” “It's taking a long time.” Zoe nodded, “It's hard work, pushing a baby out.” “Did it take you long?” “Nearly a whole day, darling.” Sarah's eyes bugged out, “But that would *hurt; lots.” Zoe smiled, “It was worth it, to have you.” Sarah was all indignance, “I ain't *ever having babies! I'll 'dopt 'em.” Zoe's smile widened, “You might change you mind if you fall in love one day.” “*Never!” Zoe decided to let the matter drop. River looked towards the Cobb house, “Be at dawn. The baby will be born then, with the rising sun. He'll be like Jayne, still partially wrapped in his cawl.” Then she clearly saw something else, gasped and ran to the Cobb household. * “Simon?” He was downstairs, checking his instruments and getting towels and a waterproof sheet ready, “What is it, River?” “After the baby's born...” He put a hand on her shoulder and smiled gently, “Slow down.” “Baby's coming with the rising sun. He'll be fine. The reconstruction I helped make in Vera will start undoing; I can't stop it. The contractions will push out the womb.” “Ah, prolapse.” He nodded, planning, “Thanks; I'll be prepared, River. I'll have to operate and give Vera a second hysterectomy. What about Jayne?” River looked past Simon and up the stairs, “His sympathetic pains will help him bond completely with the baby, like a mother. It'll strengthen the bond between him and Vera. It's been tempered by fire – twice - and by hardship, love, sex and tantra. This shared experience will make them complete soulmates, make the bond solid, like steel forged in the furnace. Seperate them by an entire 'verse after this and they'll still be able to contact each other.” “But physically?” “His sperm have stopped. The trauma of shared pain has switched them off. He's infertile again already. He'll be fine.” River smiled to herself. Jayne would be a whole lot better than 'fine'. “Okay.” Simon nodded, “I'll contact the hospital again, see about getting in some extra normal saline and blood for Vera. I've got all the other instruments I need on Serenity.” After he'd made the call and fetched the sterile intruments and necessary packs, he went upstairs to prepare Vera and Jayne. * The first lemon streaks were appearing on the horizon in the dusk before dawn when Vera got the first urge to push. Jayne's eyes widened, “Wuh de mah! That was different; like when I need to a dump real bad.” Simon nodded, “Baby's on the way out.” He quickly got Vera to lighten her breathing and checked her, “Yes. Fully dilated, but your water's not burst yet.” The sac containing the waters and baby distended downwards under the pressure. Vera gasped, trying not to push. She squatted on the waterproof sheet on the floor with Jayne behind her. The sac came right down the birth canal, still intact. Then with a rush, it burst and the baby's head almost shot down. “You're crowning! Let me check the baby's neck. Okay, you can push now!” Jayne's eyes were completely bugging out, feeling exactly what Vera was feeling. She gathered her breath and pushed. The baby's head eased out, half-covered in cawl, then a shoulder. After that, he just slipped out, bawling his head off as he touched the ground. Simon gave him a very quick check then helped lift the little one into Vera's arms. The sun was indeed rising over the horizon as the baby was born. “We'll clean him off in a minute.” Vera and Jayne's focus of attention was completely tied up in a pair of smoky grey eyes, tuft of dark hair and four small limbs. The cawl broke as the baby wriggled in Vera's arms and he was mostly free. “Hello, Junior.” Vera was crying and grinning all at the same time. “Gorram.” Jayne stroked the baby's head, then a tiny fist latched onto his finger, “Good gorram.” He was choked up and incapable of saying more. “Looks like you, ai ren.” Jayne tried to clear his throat inconspicuously but it didn't come off, “You too. Junior. Like that. Junior Jayne.” “Like to name him after *my Pa too. Morris.” Simon was busy at the other end of Vera and trying to stay doctorly, “Another push for the afterbirth, Vera.” Simon let Jayne help with tying the cord and then cutting it. The baby smacked his lips and Vera guided the small head to her breast, “Here you go. Morris Jayne Junior?” Jayne stroked the baby's head again, “How 'bout Junior Jayne Morris? 'Coz I'm gonna be callin' him Junior a whole heap anyways.” The baby started sucking and Vera gave in, “Seems to meet with our son's approval. Junior Jayne Morris it is.” “Wish I could do that.” “Feed from my breasts?” Jayne boggled for a moment, “I'm too ruttin' pooped to think of anythin' so gorgeously kinky for...ohh, weeks. Giving birth just about wiped me out! No, I meant feed Junior.” Vera smiled, “Give me a day or three and I'll see about expressing some of my own milk into a bottle.” Simon looked at them, “Jayne, Vera; hate to break up the moment, but I need to turn this room into a temporary operating theatre. I can see the prolapse starting and If I'm really quick the damage will be minimal.” Vera finished feeding Junior as Jayne carried her over to the operating table which Simon had set up. He quickly got an epidural in place and then handed Junior to Jayne. “I'll be as quick as I can. Why don't you take your son and give him a bath?” Jayne looked at Simon, “She gonna be all right?” Simon looked straight back, “Yes. Promise.” Vera smiled, “I'll be fine.” *


Sunday, June 24, 2007 1:26 PM


Crap! My comment got ate. Stupid space monkeys....

Still, this was some great work here, Vera! Action, angst, childbirth...definitely a full to the brim chapter;)



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