Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Thompson makes his first public appearance, and Mal gets word from the Operative.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 544 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Thompson watched as his scientists continued their delicate work, willing them to greater speed. The Operative twitched and jerked under their hands, kept in a state of semi-consciousness. His was a formidable will and thus far, Thompson had been less pleased with the results achieved. He had lost four fairly capable employees in the little skirmish in his office, though he had to admit that was partially his own fault. His men had been warned not to visibly mar the man, so that had left their options somewhat limited. It had taken several blasts from a sonic rifle to even subdue the Operative long enough to dope him into helpless unconsciousness. Thompson thought coldly that he could use such a man as a weapon very well indeed if the scientists would only speed their work along.
They had managed to achieve the barest of successes earlier in the day, however. Compelling the Operative with the most basic of their behavioral conditioning, they had awakened him thoroughly enough to send a passably believable message to his contact in Athens. Thompson wished to allay any suspicion about the Operative’s disappearance for as long as possible. Though he had found it almost comically ironic that the man’s contact was the same Malcolm Reynolds that had inconvenienced Chau so thoroughly, Thompson had a much larger goal in mind that made it imperative not to stir Reynolds, or any other idiot, to premature action to rescue the Operative.
Turning way from the scientists’ work, he mentally reviewed the results achieved thus far. Both of the original subjects had been released to fulfill their purpose. And Thompson knew much of what he needed to know to cripple the Independents and bring the Alliance to its knees as well. Even he had been surprised by the information ripped from the mind of the Operative about his former employers. Though the man had used the media brilliantly to sow the seeds of rebellion, he had be no means revealed all that Thompson now knew. It was regrettable, Thompson thought idly, that he would never be able to ask the Operative why he had held back some of the more damaging information. Once the scientists completed their work, the Operative would, of necessity, not remember enough to say with any certainty, and Thompson was vaguely curious as to the answer.
Glancing at the chronometer, Thompson sighed. Though he had no desire to see Chau this evening, he had been hard-pressed to refuse the man’s invitation to dine, as Chau had assured him that the others at his table would be very helpful to their public image, as well as their coffers. Having made the first foray into the realm of public opinion that morning, Thompson knew that Chau was right to use every opportunity to bring adherents to their cause. His connections were invaluable at this stage, and though Thompson found Chau to be weak to the point of being disgusting, he would use the man as long as necessary. Checking his appearance in the mirror and finding everything satisfactory, he called for his driver.
When River and Inara got to Serenity, Mal had already viewed the wave from the Operative three times, and was grimly re-reading the main news dominating the Cortex. Hearing River’s soft footfall, he reactivated the Operative’s wave. “Take a look at this, bao bei,” he said, covering her hand on his shoulder with his own.
River watched silently as the Operative’s face filled the screen. “Captain Reynolds, I’m sorry to have missed you. I hope all is proceeding well with the men. You will be pleased to hear that I have procured a promise of aid from my contact here. He assured me that he can provide at least half of what we will require in the way of ships. He asks that I stay on a few days to meet with additional supporters. It is his expectation that we should be able to garner the additional resources within a reasonable timeframe. I realize it is an inconvenience for you to manage the camp alone, but I am certain you will agree that acquiring well-equipped ships is well worth the added difficulty. I will be in contact again before I depart Osiris. Good day, Captain.” The screen faded to black.
“Well, at least that was good news,” Inara said, faintly surprised.
“Yeah,” Mal answered hesitantly. “Only a little too good, I’m thinkin’.” Looking up at River, he asked, “You pick up on anything odd when you watched that?”
“Flat,” she replied immediately. “Nothing behind his eyes.”
“Any chance that’s just because it’s a recording?” Mal asked.
“It’s possible, I suppose,” River replied. “But I don’t think so.”
Mal nodded. “That’s what I was afraid of.”
“But what does that mean?” Inara asked.
“Tampering,” River answered, beginning to tremble a little at the thought. She knew better than either Mal or Inara how such tampering was accomplished, and how very horrible the effect could be, both for the victim and anyone with whom he came in contact.
“So, he’s been captured by the Alliance,” Inara said slowly.
“Not necessarily,” Mal replied. “He said he was meeting a prominent businessman on Osiris. I’m thinkin’ he would have known about any Alliance connection. Woulda’ checked it out before goin’ in.”
“Well, if it’s not Alliance, then who is it?” Inara asked.
“Don’t have a clue,” Mal admitted, glancing up at River. “Any ideas, darlin’?”
River shook her head. “What are you going to do, air en?”
“Ain’t rightly sure what I can do,” Mal answered. “Don’t have much to go on to find him, and I’m fair certain I wouldn’t know what to do with him when I found him if he’s been ‘tampered’ with. Weren’t all that warm and fuzzy before being altered in the brainpan.”
“What about the other news?” River asked. “Inara said there was something else.”
Mal sighed. Reluctantly, he pulled up the news on the cortex. Inara gripped the back of the pilot’s chair, forcing herself to remain calm as the report began and Andrew Chau’s face appeared on the screen. River’s sharp intake of breath let Mal know she remembered the man as well.
The report told of the arrest of a man in connection with the death of Senator Landry. When his picture flashed across the screen, River blurted out, “This can’t be right. I know this man. He’s…”
“One of the leaders of the Underground Movement,” Mal finished. “I know, the press has been having a high old time playin’ up that little fact. But he’s confessed to the crime, bao bei. Even said in his statement that he was acting on orders from the new Independent Army affiliated with the movement.”
“Why would he lie?” Inara asked. “I mean, you don’t think there could be any truth to it, do you?”
Mal did not answer directly. “Watch the rest of the report.”
The women fell silent as Mal turned up the volume. The report continued, “Public outrage at the chilling admission had led some government officials to call for a vote in Parliament to declare war on the small group of rebels. However, cooler heads prevailed today, as a small cadre of individuals from various backgrounds gathered to call for peace. Led by the charismatic Jared Thompson, a highly successful entrepreneur, the group appeared on the steps of the jail where the alleged leader of the Underground Movement is being held. Thompson, flanked on either side by well-respected leaders of the community, gave a stirring speech, denouncing both the rebel group responsible for the slaying, and the excesses of the government that have led to such civil unrest. Calling both for justice for the late Senator and sweeping reforms to the current political system, Thompson vowed to establish a taskforce to consider the needed reforms and offer a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, as the crowds gathered cheered his comments enthusiastically. But will this call for peace be enough to quell the rising tensions on both sides? Joining us now is our political analyst …”
Mal turned off the transmission, and silence fell as the three pondered everything they had just seen and heard.
The Operative drifted slowly in and out of consciousness, dimly aware that something had gone horribly wrong. He had the odd sensation that his body was somehow disconnected from his brain, and therefore unable to comply with the simplest of orders to open his eyes. Trying to hold onto conscious thought long enough to figure out where he was proved to be more challenging than he could have imagined.
His legs and arms seemed to be immovable, unaccountably heavy as lead. Grasping each slight perceived sensation, he felt strangely empty of will and desire. He heard an indistinct whisper in his ear, like the steady drone of an insect buzzing in his head. Then, there was silence, white and hot against his skin, assaulting his tattered thoughts, dizzyingly followed by red noise, beating into his brain like a bludgeon. He was almost certain he was screaming, but none of the harsh noises he heard belonged to him. Spiralling downward, he clawed for any stimulus to fill the sudden disconnect, the wide void that gaped open to swallow the last of his awareness. There was something…something very important he needed to remember, he thought, casting about frantically for the completed thought. Something he had to do. Something vital, something that might release him from this hellish imprisonment in shadow. Something worth fighting for. But the thought eluded him, and he let the wisp of it swirl away as he slipped further into the oblivion of deep unconsciousness.
Jayne looked down the dusty road, impatient to see Inara return to the house. Though he’d been busily occupied with the task of training the less proficient marksmen among the troops to improve their abilities, he had positioned himself in such a way that he would not miss her return. He had seen the way she’d ridden into the camp earlier, obviously agitated by something. And Jayne did not like it when Inara was agitated. It filled him with an uncomfortableness. And then, when she and River had ridden back toward Serenity without so much as a word of explanation, Jayne’s hackles had really begun to rise. It couldn’t be anything but an eerie-ass set of complications that would account for such actions, and Jayne was fair certain they all had complications aplenty in the camp without adding any more. Only so many bullets a man can take before one of ‘em takes him down permanent-like, Jayne thought grimly.
Turning back to show yet another young grunt how to sight down the barrel of a rifle properly, he caught Zoe looking down the same road. Though her face betrayed no emotion, Jayne had been in enough pear-shaped situations with her to detect the tension in her stance. And to the extent that Jayne was worried, he knew that Zoe and Mal were both more worried about the current situation and the war they were probably all going to get dragged into. Jayne had no wish to see it, and he was gorram sure if he’d lived through one before, he would have better sense than to volunteer a second time. But Mal and Zoe might just be fool enough to do it again. They seemed to Jayne to be what his mama called ‘hellbent’. He wasn’t rightly sure why the thought should bother him so, but somewhere deep inside him, Jayne knew that, willing or not, he would follow Mal into the jaws of hell now. Scowling at his own stupidity, Jayne grabbed the weapon out of the young man’s hand and showed him yet again how to hold it properly.
Kaylee walked back to the house, tired from her work under the shed. Looking around the living area, she was puzzled to see no sign of Simon and the children. Thinking that perhaps he’d put them down for a nap, she peeked in both downstairs bedrooms, but they were empty.
She quietly climbed the stairs and headed to her own bedroom to change out of her dirty clothes. Opening the door, she stopped short, grinning at the sight before her. Simon lay sprawled in the middle of their bed, vest unbuttoned and one arm flung over his head. Adam lay sleeping against his side, curled into the crook of his other arm. Anya, too, lay there, one leg thrown haphazardly over Simon’s shin. Standing there looking at the scene, Kaylee prayed again that one day soon Simon would overcome his guilt and decide that it was time to give Kaylee some babies of her own.
Backing out of the room soundlessly, she headed to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Lost in her own thoughts, she turned on the faucet and filled her glass. She took a deep drink and glanced out the window above the little sink. Suddenly sputtering through the water still in her mouth, she saw a small, sleek ship on the horizon. Filled with foreboding, she watched as the ship landed gently on the lawn at the edge of the yard. She thought frantically about the two defenseless children upstairs and the distance between the house and the camp. Steeling herself, she reached up into the cupboard and retrieved the gun Mal had hidden there on their arrival. And stepping out onto the porch, she went to meet their uninvited guests.
To be continued
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.