Call the Man [9] repost
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mal makes plans along with the crew. Illegal drugs, dolls and hiding things. Police.


PART NINE * Woman, when I saw you comin' Should've started runnin' Evil woman Woman! You ain't got no feelin' You're just a dirty dealin' Yeah! Evil woman, the Lord's gonna' rack up Evil woman, the Lord's gonna' beckon you Evil woman, can't you see where you're fallin' Evil woman, the devil is a-callin' Woman, when you whisper to me All the hurt you do me Evil woman Woman, when you laugh at my pain When you step on my brain, yeah! Evil woman * [Evil Woman – Spooky tooth] * Jayne started, “She's taken her good gorram time gettin' her revenge coz her man's dead.” Mal nodded, “Remember that saying about revenge being best served cold.” Vera's chin was set, “I was just the...foreplay, for want of a better phrase.” “Indeed. I'm betting she was hoping to pin you *and Jayne; knowing he'd come running after you.” Vera's eyes narrowed, “She's done her homework.” “Undoubtedly. Mebbe been watching us for some time and putting her pieces in place, ready for the kill. They fact that you and Jayne took out that Cicada can't have endeared you to her, but it's a mere pawn against whatever big game play she's got planned, I'm betting.” Zoe stated the obvious, “Going on board will be a trap, sir.” “With knobs on. Conjure that big vessel out there to have 'abandon hope all ye who enter here' writ all over it.” Inara raised an eyebrow, “So I read *two poems!” “She could just blow us out of the sky, sir.” “Nah. I think she's the cat and we're the mouse. She's gonna play with us and have her fun before the death strike. It's been...what...four years easy since Niska fried.” “Close to five. Got a plan, sir?” “Better have several plus a huge slice of desperation, luck and thinking on our feet. I'm forming the beginnings of a couple. I'm minded to let her have the first salvo; see how she's pitching.” “Can't have been easy getting that skyplex moving.” “Oh, she's invested time, money and trouble on this payback. 'Double crossing' does not even begin to cover what she's likely got planned for us. Any of you actually *met or seen Niska's wife?” There was much shaking of heads around the table, “Huh. So not knowing what she looks like; be prepared for a substitute and the old bait and switch.” Cliff spoke, “I'll have a search for her supposed likeness on the Cortex, so we have *some idea.” “Don't expect it to be accurate; though if we *do turn up someone looking like her, she may still be a fake.” “Oh, indeed.” * Cliff found an 'official photo' which showed a mature lady with a pinched face and hair an implausible shade of blonde for her age which was scraped back into a bun. “Hmm,” Mal commented, “Certainly looks like a Mrs Niska. Tereza; looks like she comes from a similar background to hubby. Patch in for receiving visuals as and when we get Waved. See if you can disable ours, pretend it's broke; might be handy if she can't see the crew.” “Will do. She don't know who's here – if we keep quiet – means we can try to surprise her.” “Got it. 'Course she'll likely guess , but if she don't know who's coming...” “Eww,” Jayne commented, “She does *not make me feel like that!! Wouldn't dip my wick in that if it was the last place in the 'verse.” “Well happily,” Mal commented, trying to wipe the image currently going through his mind, “We're here to best whatever she throws at us, not seduce her. Latter option'd be dangerous to suicidal anyways.” * While they waited for the first move, everyone with weapons prepared and armed them. Jayne and Kaylee went down into the Hornet which was still attached at Serenity's belly and tinkered with the smaller ship. It was decided to go back and land planet-side and at least try to start this one on the ground. They went in to another supply station on Caerphilly and waited. Jayne and Vera flew the Hornet some way off and hid it as best they could. They tooled up and started to walk back. “Mal's probably countin' on at least one of us ta get tooled up.” Vera nodded, “I'd really rather it was you, unless there's an emergency. Junior's only just got us back and if we both leave him again...” Jayne put his arm around her shoulders, “I know. I hear ya...” he gestured eloquently. “He'll be at kindergarten on Newhall soon with the others at school if we get through this safely. And your Pa, Ma and Mattie have played babysitter before now.” Jayne's smile was close to smug, “I know. Plenty times sexin' you good and proper tells me so!” Vera nodded, satisfied for now, “Let's go then.” * Jayne and Vera drew closer to Serenity and there was Junior waiting with Melissa and Clarry. Vera bent and held out her arms and he ran into them. His lip trembled, “You went away.” Vera's heart ached, “Just for a few hours, and now we're back.” “Don't like it.” She held him closer, “I know. It's not easy being a brigand and playing naughty.” Junior launched into a full-scale temper tantrum, yelling and legs kicking. Vera continued holding him and let him get it all out, as did Jayne. This wasn't the first time that Junior had thrown a paddy and it probably wouldn't be the last. Melissa had her hands on her hips; six years old going on forty, “Can't one of you stay home for a while?” Jayne sighed, “We do risky stuff. We can't be a regular Ma an' Pa. We got more fightin' to do 'fore long.” Clarry looked at them both, “I tried to explain.” Mal was standing to one side, trying not to smirk and be sympathetic, “When you've calmed down your family...” Vera shot him an apologetic look and carried a still yelling Junior up to the galley. After some time, the yells turned to sobs and Vera still held Junior tenderly, sitting with him on her lap, rocking him and crooning. Jayne sat nearby, ready to take over as necessary. Melissa was stomping about and trying hard to be cross and not quite carrying it off. Clarry sighed softly set to making some coffee. Lee, Sam and Sarah looked at Junior with typical older child disdain. Zoe looked at them, “*You had your moments too!” Sarah looked at her mother, wide-eyed, “I used to throw a wobbly?” “Indeed,” Zoe said, drily. Mal came into the galley, rubbing his hands together, “Okay. Once we've sorted the domestics, let's be prepping our guns and stuff, dong ma?” * Out in the black, the Niska Skyplex was a quiet, humming presence. Things were happening but they were doing so with a certain restrained, cold efficiency. It drew closer to Caerphilly. Mrs Niska sat in the chair which her late husband had used, “Everything in place?” A group of stiff, muscled goons stood opposite her and nodded curtly. She steepled her hands together, “Very well. Double check *everything. Malcolm Reynolds and his crew are *not idiots. My dear late husband had...dealings with them in the past. We must be *very careful. We'll be making contact soon. 'No hard feelings, let's do business'. I don't expect them to buy that for a *second, but it's a start.” “Yes, Ma'am.” * River looked at Mal as he came into the cockpit, “They're hailing us. It's going to be sneaky and devious.” Mal's lips twitched, “We'll just be sneaky and devious right back at 'em.” River was patching the call through and looking into the distance at the same time, “There'll be death.” “Hers, I hope.” “Can't promise that.” “Darn. Okay, let's let the dog see the rabbit.” The screen resolved on to the official face they'd found on the Cortex earlier; the severe looking woman with pinched features. “Captain Reynolds.” Same Russian accent as Niska himself. Mal nodded, “Yes.” “We have a...checkered history, you and I. But I wish to let bygones be bygones. I have a well-paid job for you and I expect you could use the coin.” Mal had his best card-playing face on, “Very likely. What do you need delivered where?” “Straight to the point. I appreciate a client who doesn't haver around. There's a consignment of the most delicate nature; highly valuable and very breakable hand crafted china dolls, for the luxury end of the market. I have a high class contact on Ariel who will pay top coin for their expedited delivery; apparently there's some kind of fancy collector's fair coming up and he's hoping to make a killing...if you'll pardon the phrase.” “Uh-huh. That's a powerful way off our planned route. I'd need something up front to fund the trip.” “Naturally. Thirty percent now and the rest COD. Of course, the penalty for taking the deposit and not completing would be rather...terminal.” Mal was as smooth as silk, “Understood. Do you need some kind of contract in writing?” Mrs Niska waved her hand dismissively, “I am aware of your reputation. If you give your word, you generally deliver.” There was sudden ice in her voice, “We both remember what happened when you failed this organisation last time.” “Indeed. How do you wish to transfer the cargo to us?” A fella at least as big and bad as Crow was suddenly added to the frame, “This is my...associate, Snake. He and a couple of my other men will be bringing the consignment planet-side shortly.” “We'll be right here.” Mal went back to the galley. * Zoe looked up, “Sir?” “Drug smuggling. China dolls, probably stuffed to their little eyeballs with illegal narcotics. Lay you eight to five they're booby trapped and wired into the bargain.” Zoe sucked in her breath, “We're not *taking them?” “We're going to make out we will. Play the dumb patsies. There's three guys like Crow headed this way with the loot.” Jayne grinned evilly and smacked his palm with one meaty fist, “Oh, good! I got me an itch ta have a good fight!” “Yeah, well hold that thought. Conjure the lady I spoke to isn't the *real widow Niska. Good act, though. There's smokescreens hereabouts and that Skyplex to avoid as and when we take off.” Vera nodded, “If we're carrying illegal drugs, they can legitimately finger us to the authorities.” Mal nodded, “Thought of that myself. Todd would pony up for us eventually, I hope, but there are still jails where all sorts of nasty can happen.” Vera shivered, “I know that well enough.” Junior chuntered softly and burrowed closer into Vera. “Have we got enough time to do the substitute play, sir?” Mal sucked in his breath, calculating, “Might have. I'll ask River to give us a hand if she can.” Jayne grinned, “I'll booby trap Saffron's camper and park it all casual-like nearby.” Mal gave him an almost surprised look, “Yeah. Get Cliff to lie low in there with some guns; they probably don't know about him yet.” Cliff grinned, “No worries, eh!” * The three muscled heavy goons turned up with a huge crate on a mule. Any one of them would make Crow look positively pretty. Jayne was standing on the flap with Mal and Zoe, looking relaxed, but poised. They were toting obvious guns and a good handful of hidden ones each. Jessop, River and Clarry were hiding a bit further back, guns drawn. Cliff was hiding in the camper van, Kaylee was nursing the engines, Simon was pacing up and down in the infirmary and Vera was in her newly concealed bunk with Junior, Sarah, Lee, Sam and Melissa. She'd got a number of loaded weapons hidden out of the reach of the children and currently she was trying to distract the kids and herself with play dough, painting, vids and telling stories. The children weren't idiots and knew jolly well that something was afoot and were playing nervously and without a lot of conviction. * One of the muscled goons stepped forward. Jayne sneered at him dismissively. “Here's the stuff for Ariel.” Mal nodded curtly, “Want me to sign for it?” He did, “Okay, let's get it on board.” Jayne and Zoe helped stow the large crate. The goons got onto their mule and left. Mal looked towards River, “Go plan A.” River nodded and made for the bridge. Everyone else who had been in the cargo bay made for the galley and seating area whilst Jayne and Zoe fastened the crate of dolls down with tension cable, taking their time. “D'ya reckon it's really booby-trapped?” Zoe nodded, “The whole works. No trying to open this; it might even explode.” “I ain't explodin'.” Mal flipped a hidden switch outside the concealed bunk, “So far, so good.” Vera's voice floated back, “Thanks.” Mal went into the cockpit, “All set; here's the grab.” River took the photo, “Thanks. Identical to what I saw.” Mal clasped her shoulder, “Helps to have a psychic on board. Ready?” River nodded, “Ready.” “Now to wait for the next act.” * After a couple of hours, the hail Mal was expecting came through. “Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Caerphilly system law enforcement; search warrant.” A hologram warrant was flashed significantly at the screen. It was legitimate. “How can we assist you, officer...Steers?” “We have reason to believe you are carrying illegal drugs. Flash, particularly.” Mal sucked his breath in, “Nasty stuff, Flash. Don't believe we have any on board, but you're welcome to look around.” “Thank-you, Captain. Naturally we don't want to see so much as a mouse leave or enter your ship until we get there, dong ma?” “No problem.” Mal closed the connection and hailed Cliff, “Sit tight and lay low, unless all hell breaks loose.” “I'm on it.” Mal went through to the galley, “Police are on their way. Now for act two. You know your places and moves for this part. Be armed, but discreetly, as before. Don't want the police getting jittery.” “Could waste 'em when they arrive.” “No, Jayne. We want to show these nice officers that we're decent law-abiding folk. Keep the fire-power for what will come after, dong ma?” “Don't ruttin' like the law gettin' close.” Mal arched an eyebrow, “Considering who you married, that's a bit rich.” Jayne grinned, “She's a bad girl really; ya know that, even though she was a sheriff once. Livin' on the edge like the rest of us.” “I know. We pay this next part straight, like I said, unless things turn nasty.” * The police turned up in a cop mule and came on board. Steers flashed his search warrant and had the crew stand on one side of the cargo bay. Vera and the children were back out of hiding for this bit. The police headed straight for the crate and started on it with an axe. Mal and Zoe winced, but there was no explosion. Bits of packing and china went in all directions, but not even a hint of powder or illegal narcotics. The police were obviously completely stumped by this and proceeded to check Serenity from nose to tail without success. Eventually, the police commandeered the remains of the crate and left. Mal let out a long breath, “Well done folks. Cliff, you got the other crate safe?” “Nice and comfy in my camper van, eh.” “Good. Okay, everyone – every weapon handy. Act three will probably be starting very shortly. Well done River; you seeing what that crate of dolls would look like ahead of time proved absolutely vital.” “She's going to be angry.” Mal nodded, “And angry people tend to make mistakes.”



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