Call the Man [10] repost
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Jayne does his best 'Die Hard' impression aboard the Skyplex with Ares in tow. Warning for minor character death at the end.


PART TEN * A GUN BY YOUR SIDE REVENGE ON YOUR MIND GONE SHOOTING! THRILLS IN THE NIGHT SHIVER YOUR SPINE GONE SHOOTING! * [Gone Shooting – Evil Dead] * Rolled in from another town Hit some gold, too hot to settle down But a fool and his money soon go separate ways And you found a fool lyin' in a daze Ha ha woman What you gonna do You destroyed all the virtues that the Lord gave you It's so good that you're feelin' pain But you better get your face 'board the very next train [Evil Woman – ELO] * Everyone apart from Cliff in hiding went about doing their tasks, looking for all the world as though they were slowly preparing to leave Caerphilly. Jayne kissed Vera thoroughly, hugged the kids, whistled for Ares and snuck out, back to the previously hidden Hornet. He flipped open the com and waited for Mal's signal. Vera and the younger children went back into hiding. Cliff carefully drove the camper van out of view, so it looked as though the vehicle had gone. A few hours later, at dusk when the light was failing, a huge craft twice the size of Serenity landed nearby. Mal took the hail, “What have you done with our goods?” It was Tereza Niska – or her substitute – again. He smiled, smooth and unruffled, “Right here in our cargo bay, Ma'am.” There was a distinct frown on Tereza's face, in the crease between her brows, “But I thought...” Mal was oily smooth, “What *did you think?” “Hmm. I'd like to double check just to clear my mind.” “No problem. Come on down. We're nearly prepped to go to Ariel.” Mal closed the link and opened the secure line to Jayne, “Go Phoenix.” Jayne grinned around his battle cigar, “Phoenix gotcha and out.” He lifted off, with Ares panting eagerly beside him. Mal checked with everyone in the welcoming committee that they were wearing their Kevlar vests and unders as well as being tooled to the hilt. He had his fingers hovering near his open holster as he punched for the flap to descend. Mal nodded at Zoe and she nodded back. Behind them in various hiding places were River, Inara, Jessop and Clarry with either guns or bow and arrows ready. Mal wasn't totally surprised to see the three goons, plus a few more with Tereza herself waiting outside. Tereza pointed, “I was told you put my consignment right there.” “Well, Ma'am, we had intel that the police were on their way, so we secreted the box nearby until they left.” “It's only *dolls.” “Indeed, but you said they were very valuable. We didn't have any reassurances that the police wouldn't be dirty and temped to...acquire a few.” Tereza moved one hand a tiny bit and the goons raised their guns, “Please produce the box *now.” Mal very carefully flipped open his walkie-talkie, “Chicken; return eggs to the coop.” Cliff sensibly did not make an audible response, “The box is on its way back.” Tereza nodded, folding her arms, “We can wait.” Mal and Zoe walked with a modest wheeled carrier to the returned camper van with practised nonchalance, but with every cell ready for a fight. Cliff had swung the camper around so that his face was directed away from Tereza and her goons. Mal hoped that it would be assumed the driver was Jayne. Mal and Zoe brought the large box back to Serenity. Cliff stayed put in the van. Mal and Zoe strapped the box back in place. Mal turned, acting on the hunch which had been on his mind for some time, “Now; why are we not talking to Niska's *real widow?” That started it. Tereza's goons opened fire first; both Zoe and Mal hunkered down and fired back. * Jayne flew through the black and listened in to the chatter coming from the Skyplex. He waited until he caught news of an intense fight down on Caerphilly and flew around to find a nice, quiet place on the Skyplex to dock or latch on. As the Skyplex manoeuvred closer to the planet, Jayne found the exhaust tubes and rubbish outlets. Jayne looked at Ares. “S'gonna be powerful smelly, boy. Ready to rock?” The dog wagged his tail as Jayne found a place for the Hornet to latch onto one of the dry rubbish chutes. Once the magnets and grapples had made a nice tight seal with the top of one of the chutes, Jayne got out his oxy-acetylene torch. “Keep back, lad. Gotta be quick with this and hope there ain't methane on the other side. Shouldn't be any.” He opened the airlock, cut a circular hole and got himself, his weapons and Ares through and into the Skyplex. Remembering the general layout of the place from last time, he began to move upwards, being as quiet and sneaky as possible with Ares at his heels whilst efficiently picking off people one by one as he went and taking out certain key systems he recognised that weren't life support. * Cliff picked up the slack and launched crossfire from the camper van. This kept the goons busy on two fronts. Before long, the first goons were reinforced by others. They covered the supposed Tereza Niska and pressed towards Serenity. Cliff laid down a lot of fire-power and launched a significant number of grenades as he edged closer to Tereza's ship. He was basically doing his best to channel what Jayne would do, to make them think the merc was right here on the ground when he was up on the Skyplex being sneaky and hopefully all kinds of deadly. At last Cliff saw his moment, swerving and lurching forward, heading straight into the open maw of Tereza's own hold, pedal to the metal. He performed a handbrake turn, grabbed all the portable weaponry he could, armed the booby traps in the van and rolled out onto the ground, firing as he went. For an impression of Jayne, it wasn't half bad. Cliff fought his rearguard action and ran off Tereza's ship mere seconds before the booby traps kicked in, exploding the ship in a huge, deafening red fireball. After the smoke cleared, there wasn't much of a fight left on the ground. The goons were blown up or shot and only Tereza was left. True, some of the crew had wounds, but they were still alive. She looked daggers at Mal, “So, you've defeated me. I'm *not Niska's real widow.” Mal had her at gunpoint, “No surprise there.” “The real widow is safe on the Skyplex.” “Wouldn't be so sure about that.” Her eyes narrowed, “What?” Then she realised, “*That's not your big hired gun!” “Never said he was.” Tereza – or whatever her name was – smiled eerily, “Won't take me alive.” She collapsed on the ground. Mal called Simon. Simon quickly and carefully checked Tereza's corpse, “Suicide capsule inside a shattered tooth.” “Hungh.” Mal flipped open the secure line to Jayne, “Part one complete. As we suspected; stay sharp.” Mal helped Cliff on board and they took off, even as the flap was closing behind them. Zoe nodded proudly at Cliff and they exchanged heated, deeply sexual glances. Jayne's voice came back to him, “Ah'm gettin' there. Will co 'n out.” ** Jayne worked methodically, guerilla style, checking each unlocked door as he went and dealing out death to those foolish enough to get in his line of sight. He kept Ares' nose and ears close, since the dog could hear and smell things that he couldn't. However it was just over an hour into his guerilla tactics that the alarm was raised with loud, blaring, insistent klaxon noises. Jayne started running towards the nerve centres and hub of the Skyplex, eyes and ears open for likely hiding places or areas where he could hunker down and defend against all comers. The gun version of Vera proved all kinds of useful defending and dealing with the first couple of waves of defence. Jayne spotted a handy access ladder in a shaft. He picked up Ares in one arm – with a little difficulty – got on the ladder, closed the door behind him and began to climb one-handed. At one of the junctions, he found a way of balancing Ares loosely inside his flak jacket, as though Ares was a baby. * “Just don't wriggle, boy. 'S a powerful long way down.” Ares realised on some basic animal level what was going on and wagged his tail a little to show that he understood that he had to stay still. Jayne kept climbing, ears on the alert. Ares licked his ear from time to time but was otherwise motionless. Jayne smelt the prisoner section long before he saw where it was. Instinct took him with Ares onto the darkened corridors. A well-placed bullet opened each door. Jayne glanced at the prisoner within each cell. Some were so far gone that a second bullet was a piece of mercy. Some asked him for a quick end with their eyes. A few were still lucid, mostly whole and wanting rescue, so Jayne obliged. He led the raggle-taggle bunch onwards, killing the guards as he went. He gave the most lucid prisoners a loaded gun each. Ares sniffed out a sub-wing holding dogs in cages. Jayne either freed or quickly despatched those as well. Jayne's pied piper army carried onwards. He was doing really well, moving towards the heart of the Skyplex and – presumably – the genuine widow Niska. * However, it wasn't a surprise to him that his sneak attack and amazing luck didn't hold out. Here, close to the hub of the Skyplex, systems were more heavily defended and there were tighter and harder security systems. As they attained the central command area, Jayne and the ex-prisoners started to suffer hits. Jayne was lucky enough only to get grazed by bullets, but they still hurt. A few of the prisoners were picked off by security guards, but at least they died in relative freedom. * Jayne had finally had enough of this death by a thousand cuts. He wasn't hurt that badly yet, but he rather wanted it to stop. He went for the grenade option, by getting to the next open doorway full of machines and lobbying one in. The results were much more spectacular than he expected. Maybe the grenade had an extra helping of juice or it hit something really explode-able. Skyplex security guards, bits of console, glass, metal and a whole bunch of other stuff went flying in all directions. Jayne and the others were propelled backwards by the blast. The first explosion set off more, so much so that Jayne, the remaining prisoners and dogs had no viable option but to leg it as the Skyplex started to come apart behind them. Jayne kept up fire-power to the rear to deter followers. Quite a few of them had cuts or bruises from the flying glass and metal, but they were still going. The Skyplex started groaning and creaking around them. * Jayne pressed on, opening doors and setting off more firepower or grenades. He was skimming the knife-edge, knowing that if things went really critical they'd all suddenly end up in space and terminally dead. He thought his love to Vera and kept on. Most of the security guards were also trying to save their own skins by now. The fighting turned briefer, more brutal and uglier. Jayne had to finish some of the opposition off with his knife or bare hands. The prisoners were making it personal, getting their own back on their tormentors. For a band brought together by blood, danger and necessity, they were doing pretty well, all things considered. Jayne finally found the high security locked or pin-number accessible doors. Pay dirt. He knew the really important stuff or people had to be here. The locks didn't stand up to well-placed bullets and kicks. * In the first room was a tiny Oriental woman. She put up her hands and looked scared. “Don't hurt me! They're keeping me prisoner here.” Jayne took one look at her severe but well-cut clothing and had a knife against her jugular in a split second, “I ain't a gorram fool! Let me guess, the real Missus Niska?” There was a tiny nod, “I'll pay you well if you take me with you.” Several shots from one of the ex-prisoners put paid to that notion. Jayne finished her off. The next room was similar; a well-dressed, frightened looking woman purporting to be the real widow. Jayne didn't even ask, he took her out. The story continued over half a dozen rooms. In the last, he got a surprise; though perhaps in the circumstances he might just have been ready for the twist. Blast the lock, kick open the door. “Good gorram! Didn't we put you back in prison?” It was Saffron...or whatever she was calling herself, “I *am in prison. The officers brought me here. She's terrible; I'm really frightened...” It was a very good act and made Jayne pause for a split second. Long enough to let Saffron press something on the desk in front of her and send a volley of shots his way. Jayne shot back even as he fell. The prisoners jumped Saffron and made short, albeit bloody, work of her. Jayne could feel wet painful heat around his stomach. Something had got through the Kevlar or the small gaps in it and his belly was on fire. There was a warm wet trail down his face which he knew wasn't sweat. His head throbbed. He crawled away, propping himself seated upright against a bulkhead. Dark red blood seeped through his vest and onto the floor. Ares and the remaining surviving dogs huddled round him, soothing and nuzzling in an attempt to be helpful. “Phoenix down. Repeat Phoenix down. A rescue right about now would be a good ruttin' plan.” * Across the black, Vera gasped, “Jayne's hurt and it's bad!” Junior and Melissa huddled closer to her and Clarry's face was pale. Mal nodded curtly, “We're on our way, fast as we can.” The Skyplex continued to fall apart. Jayne managed to drag himself to a standing position and the remaining prisoners helped prop him up as they made for one of the station's upper access and loading bays. He and the others shot their way there and were very close when the Skyplex went critical. The ceiling above the bay buckled. Jayne and the others huddled together, curling up for protection as the whole thing fell down on top of them. Jayne heard a couple of the dogs and at least one of the remaining prisoners die before everything went black. He came to some time later with something really painful digging into his shoulder. His eyes slowly focussed on Ares, who was bent and straining, trying to pull him to safety. Given the size differential between them, this wasn't entirely working, but Ares' teeth digging in had been enough to bring Jayne around. He began trying to crawl and drag himself in the direction Ares was going. Finally out of the rubble, he thought he saw the bay doors open and Serenity waiting for him. With a last Herculean effort, he picked up a now wounded Ares and began to stagger forwards towards the light. Then everything went dark for a second time. * Several figures in spacesuits stood on the ruined Skyplex. “Here, got him. He collapsed right by the bay doors.” Someone fitted Jayne with a mask and oxygen. “He's lost a lot of blood.” “Putting an I.V. and morphine in right now. I'll have to operate.” “Ares is bad too.” Simon winced, “Yes and I'm not a vet. He's taken several bullets.” “Ares or Jayne?” “Both of them, but Jayne has priority. I'll get to Ares when I can.” “There's some other people alive under the rubble here.” “Okay, I.V.s and morphine all around, oxygen if they need it. Get them onto Serenity and I'll deal with them one at a time.” Mal closed the connecting hatch, “Let's get the heck out of here. This baby's about to blow.” “Are we going to help it on it's way?” Mal smiled without humour as they carried Jayne to the infirmary, “Hell, yes. River? That nice nearly new cannon of ours...?” “Already deploying.” The Skyplex finally came apart like a macabre ballet; bodies, parts and all else drifting into the silence of space. A crate of dolls laden with Flash drifted into the debris and ignited in a blue burst of energy. Then River did the equivelant of putting her foot down and they made best speed for Newhall. * Jayne slowly woke up in a bed with crisp cotton sheets. He'd been in the middle of dream, set way back in his early twenties. After learning everything there was to learn about being a gigolo from Melinda on Deadwood and pleasuring all her female friends, he'd chosen the hobo mercenary lifestyle instead. He hadn't minded that the only trim he tended to get was from whores; at least they wouldn't say no and there were no strings. That was the way he liked it, or thought he did. But deep down, even then, he wondered if there might be some kind of semi-permanent woman for him. Hadn't admitted it to anyone but it was there. Shutting down and not letting women get too close meant they couldn't reject him *or get close enough to hurt him or be hurt *by him. But there was that hunger, deep down; for a connection so deep that nothing would shake it. As his brain slowly focussed in on the here and now, he saw the light again. The same one that he'd seen on the Skyplex. It was *her. No, it was more than that; this was a Presence that he might once have called an angel. There were no words, just warmth and a kind of waiting. The Presence flowed into him and through him. Everything hurt, but in a numbed, peaceful kind of way. He blinked and looked down. The light was also in someone who was resting her head on his bed, near his left hand. He moved that hand and touched the long brown hair. Connection. * “Mi mei gui.” Her head flicked up and she smiled through tears at him, “Oh, ai ren...we've been so worried about you!” He felt his lips curve into a slow smile, “I was on the Skyplex. Everythin' was goin' boom an' Ares was tryin' to drag me out.” Vera nodded, tears falling, “I'm so sorry. He was so badly hurt.” “He died?” “I think he's hanging on to see that you're okay. But it can't be long, darling wan nao.” Jayne set his jaw, “Bring Ares on over. I'm okay though? ” “You lost a lot of blood and Simon had to do interesting surgical things with your bowel, but you're going to get better.” “Feel kinda fuzzy.” “Morphine and acupuncture.” Vera offered Jayne a drink of water, then they kissed briefly. “Kids?” “Just fine. Cliff got a few cuts, bruises and a couple of bullet wounds. Mostly cuts, bullet grazes and bruises to the rest of the crew. Half the prisoners from the Skyplex pulled through and they're close by. Ares and a couple of the other dogs made it. You did good!” * Vera hugged Jayne carefully and went to get Ares, who was lying in a dog bed nearby. Ares was clearly hanging on by a thread as she carefully carried him over. Ares smelt Jayne and licked his hand rather feebly. “Well done, boy.” Ares' tail wagged slowly, “It's okay. You can go now, I'm gonna be ruttin' fine.” Ares looked at Jayne, shuddered and the fight to live went out of him. Vera's tears fell on Ares' body even as he went wherever dogs go after they leave their body. “Gorram. Best ruttin' dog in the entire 'verse. Saved my gorram ass.” Jayne's eyes were moist. He stroked Ares' pelt. Vera put her hand over Jayne's. She started very delicately, “Shall I get the kids?” Jayne sighed, still focussed on Ares, “Yeah.” Then he managed a smile, “Seeing Junior, Clarry and Melissa is gonna be good medicine! Put Ares somehere safe. Gonna give the mutt a hero's funeral!” *



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