BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Reavers Return - Part Three
Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Events continue to intertwine between the crews of Serenity, the Rosalyn and Gang Kou leading up to some fateful events. 18th fanfic featuring post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Grateful thanks to BlueEyedBrigadier for the beta. Having feedback is like charging my battery, please comment. Part 3 of 4.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1401    RATING: 8    SERIES: FIREFLY

THE ROSALYN: Stan slammed down his cards with an annoyed exhalation of air. After Corren had left the Rosalyn, he had been back in the lead in the card stakes. Unfortunately it seemed that her brother and sister had the same talent. He hadn’t won a game all night. “Bad luck, cous,” crowed Maloranty. He turned to Ross. “Stan ain’t lost a hand at cards for three weeks. Reckon we outta paint the wall.” “Can’t,” said Stan, “They haveta be crew to qualify for the wall. An’ this is just a visit, so it don’t count.” Ross looked at his sister nervously. “I’d like to be crew. Gotta talk my parents around.” “We gotta talk to ‘em,” reminded Binan Chu. It was fortunate that their parents were not around. Maloranty had let them have his quarters while they were on board. Ragen looked at Maloranty and Stan. He was more closely related to Binny and Ross than the others, their father being his first cousin. “You both wanna stay in the Black?” Ross and his sister nodded. “Can you cook?” “Better than Corren. She dint have the patience when she was home. Binny does the best desserts an’ I do meats.” Maloranty’s eyebrows raised, they hadn’t had a decent meat cook since Bane left two years ago. “Have you talked to Tony?” Binan Chu shook her head. “Won’t do no good. Ma’ll never let us follow in Corren’s footsteps.” “Corren was wild, no place was ever gonna cage her,” said Ragen. “Bit like Anna’s sister.” “Laura?” questioned Ross. “The only reason she ain’t space bound is cuz Tony refuses to hire her.” “We ain’t wild,” said Binan Chu, earning a scornful sniff from her brother which she matched with a glare. “We jus’ wanna see the ‘Verse an’ cook.” Ragen spoke to Maloranty. “Maybe we should talk to Tony. I know it’s bin on his mind lately.” “Reckon we should – I’m gettin’ mighty tired doin’ all the work round here. Tell you what, you work on Tony an’ I’ll talk to Anna.” Ross and Binan Chu beamed with happiness. ~ It was some days until Ragen had the opportunity to talk to Tony and he set it up real good. He asked Ross to make dinner and then brought Tony through the galley to talk about what to do with the bunk room, as he had some ideas. It never even got that far. Tony stopped in the galley and watched Ross handle the dishes. Ross was sweating from a mixture of the heat and the prospect of failure to impress. “You made this from scratch?” he asked, smelling the dishes. “Yes,” said Ross, his mouth dry. “Would you –“ he had been about to ask Tony if he would like to try it, but there was already a spoon in the pan. Tony blew on the laden spoon to cool it before tasting. It was well cooked and seasoned. Good seasoning was the important part, especially when you were producing the same thing day in and day out. Ross dared not look at Tony and watched Ragen put a spoon in as well. “That’s tasty. Don’t you think, boss?” Tony eyed Ragen suspiciously. “It is. Am I being set up here?” Ragen pursed his lips and glanced at Ross, it was his chance to talk now. “I want a job on the Rosalyn. If you think I’m a good enough cook.” “What do your parents say?” Ross shrugged, but Tony could see he was nervous about it. “I’m nineteen. I’m old enough to leave home without their permission.” “That maybe so. But it’ll work better for everyone if you do. There ain’t enough family around for me to want to make enemies of them.” Tony looked at Ross’s eager face. He was a cook, it was in his blood whereas it hadn’t been in Corren’s. He sighed, knowing that the hurdle wasn’t Ross’s father, but his mother. “You get your parents’ okay, an’ you’ve a job.” Ross grinned and received a slap on the back from Ragen. Tony spoke again. “I’m guessin’ you got no opinions on the bunk room then, Ragen?” “No, sorry. ‘Part from leavin’ it the way it is. Maybe some comfy chairs.” Tony tutted loudly and swung around, swiping one of Ross’s cakes and popping it into his mouth as he walked out the door. He stopped in the doorway and turned around, his face showing blissful surprise. He swallowed slowly and had to prevent himself groaning with pleasure. “Lao-tyen boo! You make cakes like these an’ we could retire.” Ross blushed. “I dint make ‘em, Binny did. She wants a job too.” Tony looked at the ceiling for strength. Not long ago, he had been wishing for more cooks and now he had two. Only they were from a family whose daughter had died while supposedly in his care. “She ain’t eighteen yet, is she?” he asked. Ross’s shoulders sunk a little. “No. She’s don’t turn eighteen ‘til next year.” Tony sighed and walked out of the galley, passing Sarah Pye on the way. The smile on her face died as she saw her son cooking. “What are you doing?” Ross straightened and Ragen’s hand dropped from his shoulder. “Cooking, Ma,” he said guiltily. “No – I know what you’re tryin’ ta do. You ain’t going. I won’t let another child of mine get killed.” “We’ve talked about this, Ma. I’m nineteen an’ I don’t wanna farm, I wanna cook.” Sarah shook her head and turned furiously as her husband came into the galley, attracted by the wonderful smells. “He wants to cook. You see where this trip has got us? Why couldn’t you just have asked Tony to bring her body home, instead of tracking halfway ‘cross the ‘Verse for some pointless ruttin’ ceremony?” David sighed. “He’s nineteen, an’ I can’t chain him to Haven, Sarah.” Ragen made backward steps towards the bunk room to stay out of the way of this family talk. Sarah spotted him. “You did this, Ragen. How could you, when it’s this place that killed my daughter?” Ragen flushed. “I dint. Ross wanted this on his own. An’ Corren dint die here, she ran away. She would’ve run away if she’d bin on Haven, you know it was just a matter of ti-“ Sarah slapped Ragen hard and David grabbed her. Ross had never seen his mother so angry or violent. “It’s what I want to do, Ma. It’s in my blood.” “Fuck blood!” she turned on her husband. “You Pyes and your ruttin’ cooking. Ain’t nothing special, neither are these luh-suh traditions. It’s nothing but pi hua and I won’t stand for it no more!” Lo and Anna were hovering at the doorway, attracted by the noise and Sarah now turned on them. “Crazy old religions that mean nothin’ to anyone. It won’t bring back my daughter an’ you can’t have any more of my children!” Anna walked forward with her arms outstretched to calm her. “Sarah, we’re not tryin’ to take your children-” “And you! How can you think it’s safe to bring up children in this place? Are you insane?!” Before Anna could answer, Stan’s voice came over the com. “Received authorisation from Deutschland. Hittin’ atmo in about five seconds.” There was silence for a full minute as they all looked at each other, unsure what to say. The Rosalyn banked and everyone looked out of the window as land came into view. They passed over Hannover quickly and they all saw the downed Mothership. Sarah went to the window and looked out as Stan flew lower, circling the mammoth vessel. The Mamma was huge and ugly and every bit as scary, despite the fact that it would never get off the ground again. Sarah put her hand to her mouth, sickened with the knowledge that her daughter had been on that ship. The silence continued endlessly until the ship was out of view. Binan Chu Pye stepped into the galley, unaware of all the emotions twirling around. “Is dinner ready? Or is there time for a hand at cards?” ~ GANG KOU: “Have you decided what to call him?” asked Bane. Waiting patiently, she heard Mary shuffle the blankets as she adjusted the position of her sleeping son. “I wanna call him after your cousin,” said Mary with conviction. Bane smiled. “I reckon I can get my head around thinking of Corren as a boy’s name,” she joked. “Specially when one of my friends is called Jayne, an’ he’s a man.” “He sly?” asked Mary and Bane giggled. “No! An’ don’t you ever let him hear you suggest it.” Bane felt the baby’s hand moved in hers. “Can I hold him?” she asked tentatively. Mary Francis still had difficulty getting her head around the fact that Corren’s cousin was blind. “Of course.” Mary leaned over and carefully placed her son in her arms. She watched as Bane used her fingers to gently trace the outline of the baby’s features, and her heart felt heavy with longing to have him back in her own arms again. For months she had thought of him with nothing but hatred – a Devil’s spawn, her grandmother would have said. Her son was no spawn of evil, he was himself and hers, no one else’s. She looked up at Bane’s face and noticed the tears forming in her eyes. “What’s wrong?” Bane sniffed quickly and lifted the baby to return to Mary. “Nothing, I jus’ get sentimental.” Mary thought that Bane must be grieving for her cousin. Bane however was thinking about another baby, the dead one she had borne, never even knowing whether it had been a boy or girl. She had not thought about it in years and now it came to her mind every day. “Guten tag, laydeez,” said Hans, coming up to Mary’s bedside. Bane had composed herself fully and turned to Hans with a smile. “Your brother has arrived at Gang Kou for the funeral, I thought you’d want a lift out there,” he said in German. A thought came to Bane and she reached out her hand to Mary. “My brother’s here and we’ll be having Corren’s funeral. Would you like to come?” Mary nodded and then remembered again that Bane could not see her. “Yes,” she said in confirmation. ~ Bane tried to swallow her nervousness as Hans told her that they were almost at Gang Kou. She had no idea whether Jayne or Esper would have said anything to her brother about her being unable to see. Since that day, three weeks ago now, the darkness no longer terrified her, although she still had her times when waking of that initial panic, but that was mostly caused by a vivid or realistic dream she might have had where she could see. Esper stretched her aching back and rubbed her belly. She already felt huge, especially after meeting Anna again, who was much further along. Esper knew why, Simon had told her that it was more than possible she was having twins, and she wanted to keep it as a surprise for Jayne. He might figure it out in time, specially if it got to the stage where she couldn’t go anywhere. She walked from the kitchen into the living room in response to the beeping of the proximity alarm. Hitting the button, the camera activated and she briefly viewed the mule carrying Hans, Bane and another woman. “Jayne!” she called, but received no answer. Esper wiped her hands on her skirt and went outside into the sunshine, holding up her hand to shade her eyes. Jayne was near the Rosalyn helping to erect some columns with the Pyes. Esper figured that by the time she walked over there, the mule would have arrived, so she decided to leave it and walked back inside the house to carry on with the painting. “What are zay doing?” said Hans, driving within sight of Gang Kou and seeing the strange pillars going up. “You’re gonna have to describe it, Hans,” said Bane, holding on to the side, as it had been a bumpy ride. “They’re putting up some white columns and there’s white banners flying,” said Mary helpfully. “Oh, that’s for the funeral,” explained Bane. She didn’t explain further, recalling the images of the last Pye funeral she had attended long ago, before the War. Tony and Jayne looked up at the same time when they heard the sound of a vehicle. They dropped their shovels and walked towards it. Hans pulled up beside them, giving his greetings and Jayne realised that he hadn’t told Tony about his sister’s blindness. He had meant to, but it had just slipped his mind, and now he was unsure what to do. Bane got down from the mule and stood beside it, still touching it for reassurance. She was about to say something when Tony hugged her. “I’m glad you’re in one piece, sis,” he said, impressed by how well she did look. Bane stiffened and pulled away. “Kind of,” she said. She ran her hand down his arm and then put it in his. “Let’s take a walk, ge ge.” Jayne watched the two of them walk away. Anna came up to him, panting on account of her exertion. “Where are they going?” she said in frustration. “Bane’s got some other news for Tony,” explained Jayne. Hans greeted Anna Pye warmly and then introduced her to Mary Francis and explained why she was there. Anna immediately took her under her wing and took her to meet the others, who had now gathered at the mule as well. ~ With family and friends all gathered within the pillars, Lo dipped his moistened finger into the ashes and held it up to Bane, as the last family member to be present when she passed. “This is the body of Corren Pye, daughter of David Pye, son of Ing Tzi Pye. Today we mark her passing and in doing so vow to remember her forever.” Lo pressed and wiped his finger on Bane’s forehead, leaving a grey smudge between her eyebrows. “I will remember her,” answered Bane. Lo moved to Mary Francis, dipping his finger in the ashes again and making marks on Mary and her son’s foreheads before repeating the same words. Mary took her cue from Bane. “We will remember her,” she said solemnly, jogging her baby as it had been surprised out of slumber by Lo’s finger on his forehead. Lo moved around the circle of people until they were all marked. Outside the circle Jayne, Esper, Hans and Corren’s mother stood, she having refused to take part. Esper leaned into her husband, whispering. “This ceremony is playing merry hell with my Christian upbringin’ – it’s so heathen.” Jayne smirked after he caught a pained look from Sarah Pye, who’d overheard. “I know what you mean, but it’s their way of sayin’ goodbye. Everyone does it in a different way, an’ I reckon that’s what makes us remember them better.” “Gives me the chills,” whispered Esper, as she watched all the Pyes and the others join hands in a circle. Jayne, who had seen far more disturbing things in the ‘Verse, had no such issues. He leaned down and spoke quietly. “My Ma told me that when my grandma died, the wake was a huge drunken binge that lasted for a week. That’s my kinda funeral, but I guess this one has it’s own place too.” Despite his views, a chill went up his spine as Maloranty started to sing in time to a slow drum beat. His voice was low and sombre and the song carried on for several verses, and though Jayne couldn’t understand the language, the tune was melodic and haunting all the same. After he finished, everyone relaxed before kissing those standing either side of them and dispersing. Sarah Pye looked on, the tears running down her cheeks and the only family member not taking part. How could they just treat it all so lightly and move on? “Mrs Pye?” said a young girl that Sarah had seen arrive with Bane. Mary looked around uncomfortably for Anna, who was holding her son. Anna nodded at her in reassurance. “My name is Mary Francis. I knew Corren…on that ship.” “How long was she there?” “About seven months. She arrived a couple of months after me.” Mary swallowed uncomfortably. Anna had told her that Corren’s mother needed to remember Corren how she was and what kind of person she had been. She took a breath and touched Sarah’s arm gently. “She spoke of you.” “She did?” said Sarah, surprised. Part of Sarah’s grief was due to guilt at believing her daughter was nothing but a truant waster who she had been glad to palm off on her husband’s relatives. Now she was dead and it was her fault for not loving her enough to keep her safe at home. “She said that you were a brilliant midwife. She told us all what we would have to expect and the stories of the babies you’d brought into the world.” Sarah’s mouth was open and the tears formed in her eyes again. “My son was born ten days ago. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve named him Corren, after your daughter. And when he’s old enough I’ll tell him about her. About what a wonderful person she was.” A sob escaped from Sarah and she sank to the ground. Mary crouched and put her arm around her uncomfortably. Sarah Pye wept for her lost daughter. “I dint understand her. I failed her.” Mary found the tears in her eyes too, but answered in as strong a voice as she could manage. “No one failed her. We’ll fail her if we don’t remember her in the right way.” “The Pye way,” Sarah challenged, but the fight had gone out of her. She understood now. Life, wherever you lived was too uncertain and people died in horrible ways, like her daughter, like the babies on Haven she had been unable to save. “Our way,” corrected Mary. “I’ll tell my son that she saved me from despair, an’ saw to it that my baby had a proper life as my son, ‘stead of some kind of devil child.” Sarah blew her nose and sat up straighter looking at Mary and seeing a child herself. “How old are you?” “Fifteen.” Sarah gave Mary a crushing hug. “Where do you come from?” “Lilac.” Sarah got up and took Mary’s hand. “Let’s talk, Mary.” ~ “How are you, niece?” asked Lo, hugging Bane warmly. Bane took a deep breath of his smell; tobacco and a hint of lemons. “Tired,” she said truthfully. “You look it,” he confirmed, still holding her. “Tony says you’ve been taking the statements of all those prisoners and the evil men who crewed that ship.” Bane nodded against him, feeling weepy all of a sudden. There had been a time when she had never cried, but her emotions had been bombarded lately with such awful tales. Some of them had been on the ship for years, others just weeks. They all had horrific stories to tell and she heard them all. They railed at her, feared her, not even realising she could not see any of them. “Walk with me, Bane,” he said, leading her away from the others willingly. When they had gone some distance, towards the river, he spoke again. “I know I’m your Uncle, but I’m also your Shenfu and here for your solace, as well as to perform the old rituals.” They stopped and Lo grunted as he sat on the ground. Bane sat down more gracefully beside him, not letting go of his hand. “Tell me your story, haizi, and do not skimp on the details for the sake of your awkwardness or mine.” Bane sighed heavily and started to talk, finding it easier as she got going. She talked about her time with her mother during the War, but mostly she concentrated on what had happened since. ~ Anna put her hand on Mary’s shoulder as she sat and ate with the Rosalyn’s crew in the main bay. “Mary, I’ve been talking to my husband, that’s Bane’s brother. We haven’t been to Lilac in a while, so after we leave here we can drop you off home. The family won’t mind, an’ it’ll give you a chance to tell us about Corren.” Mary’s eyes had already widened and she smiled at Anna. They were offering a lift home, back to her family. “You’ve all been so kind, I reckon I don’t know how to repay you.” Anna put her arms around the young girl’s shoulders. “Nonsense. It’s no trouble, that’s if you don’t mind a couple of weeks living on the Rosalyn with my noisy daughter and all our cousins.” “What will Corren’s father do with her ashes?” asked Mary, watching David carry the small vessel into the ship. “They’ll be scattered in the Black once we break atmo,” Anna replied. The ceremony was over and the scattering of the ashes did not mark the end, but the beginning of Corren’s remembrance. “Do you have anyone in Hannover to say goodbye to? I reckon Tony’ll want to get away as soon as possible.” Mary shook her head. Anna was pretty sure her husband would try and ask Bane to come with them, but it was clear that this is where Bane wanted to be. Her sister-in-law looked different now she was blind. Life was no longer a rush for her and she walked with precision and grace, tripping rarely, she had noticed. ~ SERENITY: Monty and Mal stood beside each other watching their crews transport the cargo from one hold to another at their rendezvous on Aberdeen. Monty was impressed at how prolific Bane had been at her constructing. “You can tell Bane if she wants to carry on with making this kind of volume, then that’s shiny with me.” “I’ll tell her. You really got a good market for this stuff?” Mal asked curiously. “Are you kiddin’? It’s like gold dust. You know I tried them Sleepers on Rocky and Eric – knocked ‘em out for five minutes. They woke up shiny as you like, though they don’t like me much at the moment.” Mal snorted, only now noticing the frowns and scowls on the faces of Monty’s two crewmen. “Reckon I’ll get her to make some jus’ for me.” “You goin’ back to your place after this?” “Nah. We’re waitin’ on any Alliance appearance to go. They’ll wave us when it’s safe again.” It was windy and Mal spat the dust from his mouth. “We got a name for our bolt-hole now.” “What’s that?” said Monty, seeing Inara coming down the ramp of Serenity. “Gang Kou. River came up with the name.” “Reckon it fits real nice,” Monty confirmed. “As you ain’t returnin’ there right away, can I ask you a favour?” “Name it.” “Got some goods what need deliv’rin’ to Lilac – man called Carter. Takes me a mite close to Alliance territory otherwise.” Mal’s hand went around Inara’s waist as she reached his side. “No problem. Once we’ve off loaded these, then we’ll head right over there. Tell your boys to load up.” Monty strode off and shouted to his crew. “Does Monty dislike me?” asked Inara. Mal squeezed her against him. “He thinks you’re shiny. But I reckon he conjures that you’re too good for me.” Inara looked up at Mal to see if he was teasing her. He was not. “Well maybe I’ll go and tell him my opinion on the matter,” she said in a voice that made Mal chuckle when it was not directed at him. “Well I can’t tell you not to, on account of you might take it the wrong way.” Inara pressed her lips together, but the side of her mouth curved in a smile. They left Monty less than an hour later and now, en route to Lilac, having all enjoyed a rather lavish evening meal. It was noisy and everyone was contented. “Don’t you think it’s a bit risky for us to go to Lilac, Cap’n?” asked Zoe. Mal spooned another mouthful of rice and swallowed it before answering. “No more than anywhere else. Why?” “On account of the fact that three years ago, we robbed the security payroll there,” replied Zoe. Mal shrugged and made a funny face at Marcus who was sitting in Zoe’s lap. He gurgled and screamed in delight. Zoe had found that having a child in your arms had the effect of making people pull funny faces at her. Can’t say she’d ever get used to that. Marcus sucked on the arm of one of his stuffed dinosaurs and then banged it on the table. Being a stuffed toy it made no noise. “Ba-ga shi shi,” said Marcus. “See. He thinks it’s a good idea,” defended Mal. Zoe raised her eyebrows. “So you’ll listen to the opinion of a seven month old, but not your first mate?” Mal shrugged and opened his mouth to make a smart retort, but Inara beat him to it. “They’re on the same wavelength,” she said smiling, receiving a glare from Mal. Everybody at the table laughed at Mal’s expense. Marcus joined in too, not wanting to be left out and then Mal joined in. “Too right,” he insisted. “’Bout time someone round here agreed with me. Rest of you are gettin’ mighty unruly.” He addressed Marcus again formerly. “So, thank you, young’un. Reckon we’ll start your trainin’ tomorrow for backup crew member.” Marcus blew a long raspberry sound which had everyone falling about again. Mal, undaunted, continued to talk to Marcus as if he understood every word and everyone else’s sides were hurting from laughter. River was the only one not there, although she was smiling from the cockpit. The ship was on autopilot so there was no need for her to be there, but the worries she’d been having over the last couple of weeks were growing stronger. She had tried to wave the Rosalyn when she had been alone in the cockpit, but they had not answered. The com bleeped at her and she saw it was an incoming wave, her heart soaring with hope – then came crashing down as she realised it was from Deutschland. She flipped the vid screen and came face to face with Jayne. “Greetin’s, Moonbrain!” Jayne said genially. River rolled her eyes at him. “Same to you, Ape.” Jayne smirked and then River saw that he had a list. “Thought I’d report in an’ tell you all what happ’nin. Alliance are due here tomorrow ‘cordin’ to Hans. He looked at his list. “Now. I need you to get some more roof girders – heavy duty ones.” “How’s Esper?” River asked, stopping him before he reeled through his list. Jayne grinned. “Her belly’s growin’ bigger by the day. She’s gettin’ to look like a –“ River’s eyes widened. “Don’t say it, Jayne! Don’t ever say that about a woman or I’ll fly right back there and rip your heart out.” Jayne snorted. “Hell, she’ll know I love her no matter what.” “I’ll make you see double…” warned River. “I’ll make you hear my whole list…” threatened Jayne. River got on the com. “Ape’s on the wave. Need translator,” she said cheekily and left the cockpit, leaving Jayne looking at an empty vid screen. He didn’t have to wait long and was soon greeted by the faces of Mal, Inara, Karl, and Kaylee. “Don’t tell me you’re missin’ me?” he said. “Well o’course we have, Jayne. You’re part of the crew,” exclaimed Kaylee. “How’s Esper?” “How’s Ishmael?” said Inara, at the same time as Kaylee. Jayne held up his hand. “One at a time! I ain’t no ruttin’ babysitter.” Mal took charge of everyone clamouring for news at once. “River said you had a list. Supplies, is it?” “Yep.” “Read ‘em out then,” Mal said, making himself comfortable. Inara waited impatiently for them to finish the business side of things, including the imminent visit by the Alliance. At last it was her turn. “How’s my son?” “Oh he’s shiny. Gettin’ inta ever’thin with Lukas, but I managed to put ‘em to work while they’re here. Rest o’the time they’re in München or at Berta’s. Top of his class, by all accounts.” Inara smiled with pride. “How’s Bane?” Karl asked, finally getting his turn. “Workin’ too hard, but it’ll be over soon. Her family came to give her cousin a funeral, but they left a few days ago now. She looked a lot better after they’d bin. Spends most of her time in Hannover though, interviewin’ them prisoners day an’ night.” Jayne looked at his piece of paper. “Oh, she says to tell you that she’s fine an’ she’s restin’, just like the doc wanted her to.” He snorted. “Guess I shoulda read this first.” Kaylee laughed and Karl allowed himself a smile. “Jayne – you musta bin terrible at keepin’ secrets at school.” “Hell, I’m terrible at keepin’ secrets any time. Less’en you pay me to o’course.” “Anythin’ else she told you not to say?” asked Karl. Jayne grimaced, but with a smile. “Well, I don’t know – what’s it worth to ya?” ~ GANG KOU: Bane walked out into the sun, led there by Ava. At last all the interviews were over. Ava’s English had come along in leaps, but she still had problems understanding those who spoke at speed. She asked if she could bring Bane some refreshments. “Ja, bitte,” she replied, and sat on the bench. She heard the noises around her, animals and people. And geese, in Hannover there was always the sound of geese. People walked past, greeted her and she smiled at them. They all knew who she was and what she had done, but it still took some getting used to. Someone walked up onto the porch and sat on the bench beside her. Bane assumed it was Ava and held out her hand for the drink, smiling. As soon as she felt the hand, she knew it was not her. “Who are you?” she asked, pulling it away gently. “I can’t have changed that much surely? The beard isn’t that bad.” Bane remembered the sirens that had gone off earlier, coupled with the familiar sound of his voice. “Major Pavel Wladek,” she stated and he snorted. “It’s Colonel now, got my own I.A.V. to prove it. They gave me the Malaga.” Bane sighed with relief. “I’m glad it’s you who’s come to sort this out.” “Why’s that?” He had been as surprised to see Bane on this world, as she was to see him. “Because the man you an’ I supposedly sent to jail was hired on that slave ship.” Wladek looked down at Bane’s hand which he still held. He couldn’t see the look in her eyes through the dark glasses she wore and swore softly at the news. “Dedham’s here?” Wladek asked quietly. Bane nodded. “In the jail with all the others that crewed that stinking shit-hole excuse for a ship. Not many survived on account of the townsfolk mistakin’ them for Reavers, and killin’ them on sight.” “The Mayor told me you blew up that ship on your own. Fact the whole settlement thinks you’re their saviour.” Bane made a face. “I’m none of that. But I couldn’t let them be taken, no one deserved to know what it was like on that ship.” “How did you know they weren’t Reavers?” “You once asked me if I escaped from the brothel where the bounty hunter left me. No, is the short answer. I kept getting caught an’ eventually they handed me over to that slave ship.” She turned to face him. “I would never want these people to experience one second on that Hell ride.” Pavel Wladek was silent for a minute. “If the Alliance had something to do with this, then I’ll find out about it.” “I know you will Major, sorry Colonel. But it might be that this thing is bigger than even you can topple. Several of the prisoners said they were recruited by a Colonel Penney.” Bane felt Pavel’s hand tightened around hers. “Colonel Abigail Penney?” he queried. Bane nodded. “Seems she visited Dedham and others in jail and offered them a job on the Mamma. She was hirin’ them on behalf of the Blue Sun Corporation.” Wladek was silent as he thought before speaking. “She’s a career soldier, or she was. She resigned her commission two weeks ago. There were rumours that she was headed for a promotion to General before that. She is known to be in bed with several Members of Parliament, metaphorically speaking.” Bane shrugged. “Then she’s got her hands in some interestin’ pockets. An’ it looks like whoever was running the Mamma knows it’s out of commission.” Pavel wished it was not him sitting here now, as he knew he couldn’t bury this, but he could imagine that Alliance Command might want to. He turned professional. “Why don’t we start listening to the tapes and take it from there. Care to show me?” “I think it’ll be the other way around, Pavel.” He said nothing, and she could feel his confusion. “Dint the Mayor tell you?” “Tell me what?” he asked, and Bane stood up. “I’m blind now.” Pavel stood up and looked closely, noticing behind her sunglasses that she was actually looking at something just past his shoulder. “How?” he asked incredulously. Bane laughed. “Well, that’s an even longer story that started the first time we met, but the nub of it happened the same day I blew up that engine,” she stated. ~ * ~ Dedham opened his eyes when he heard the approach of footsteps. The lawmen had kept all the prisoners separate since their arrest and he had to admit he was a little lonely for company, even if it was a stupid Deutschlander with a badge. It wasn’t though, and when he saw who it really was, Dedham felt really afraid for the first time. “Hello Dedham. I must say I was shocked when I heard you’d got out of jail, but you can be sure you’ll stay there this time.” Rutting boy scout, thought Dedham. “You know they only gave you that promotion to keep you sweet,” he countered. Wladek took in Dedham’s unshaven face and various bandages. He knew very well why he’d been promoted – when he had first brought evidence forward to the Judge General, he had been told to bury it. Fortunately, Wladek had found another way of bringing Dedham’s unsavoury activities to light. Those who had told him to bury now had to ‘officially’ congratulate him. “And yet here I am, a Colonel, and you’re behind bars again. You’re one sick son of a bitch.” Dedham shrugged nonchalantly. “Needs must. I do what I need to survive.” “Does that include raping and murdering young girls?” “I didn’t murder any of them – there was always something left to play with.” “Corren Pye is dead,” Wladek informed him. “And you murdered her.” “Is that what the Pye bitch is saying?” “She’s not the only one, Dedham,” Wladek said with some satisfaction. “I have a dozen witnesses who say you singled her out for torture and rape, even after she was pregnant. Was the child yours?” Dedham shrugged. “Could’ve been. And it could’ve been any one of the crew.” Dedham said the words with such disregard that Wladek felt an icy chill down his back. The sooner he got this hun dan secure in an Alliance jail, the better, making sure there would be no quick reprieve this time – even if he had to visit him to make sure he was still there.

COMMENTS

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 3:15 AM

WYTCHCROFT


there's just no way i could do what you do - i admire the earthy nature of your characters and their grinding reality. - i like the interweaving narrative too!


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