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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The crew are awake, but not in control. Simon decides the best way to save them is to betray them. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1919 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Ethan sighed in relief. “Mama’s awake. So’s Daddy.”
Jesse didn’t really understand, but she knew her brother wasn’t so taut with fear anymore. She put her thumb in her mouth and began to suck loudly. She was hungry, and thirsty too, but it looked like neither appetite were likely to be satisfied in the near future. “Mama,” she mumbled.
Then Ethan jerked, his eyes widening. “Daddy.”
“Give me a hand, Burkett,” Cody said, leaning down and getting his hands under Mal’s arms, and between them they dragged Mal to his feet. “Come on,” he added. “You’ve got an appointment to keep.”
“I think my diary’s pretty full,” Mal said, his muscles complaining from being in the same position for so long. “But I think I can fit you in next Tuesday, if you wanna come back.”
“Do you always crack inappropriate jokes at times like this?” Prater asked.
“It’s one of my more endearing traits.” Mal glanced at Freya, seeing so much worry in her face that he didn’t need to read it in his mind. “Ain’t that so, honey?”
“Along with leaving your socks on the table,” she agreed, her voice hardly quavering at all.
“Niska thought the same,” Mal went on. “Not about the socks, of course, but my surprising wit. Although he had a more direct approach. He just wanted to kill me.”
“I’m not surprised,” Prater said. “Get him into the infirmary,” he added to Cody.
The young man nodded. “Don’t worry, I’ll cut that wit out of you,” he promised. “I have a few tricks of my own, if the boss runs out. And I just know I can get you to talk.” He grinned, his youthful features open and happy, almost as if he was discussing who he was going to take to the local dance, and not about torturing someone. “Although it’s much more fun if you don’t. At least for a while.”
“Chur ni duh,” Mal said pleasantly in return.
Cody jabbed his fist into Mal’s belly, and he slid to his knees, unable to breathe.
“Stop!” Freya shouted, her voice drowned among the others protesting.
Prater fired his gun into the cargo bay ceiling. “Bizui!” he commanded.
“I’m gonna kill you,” Jayne promised. “And it’ll take a long time. I’ll make sure of that.”
“I hardly think you’re in a position to be threatening me,” Prater said, holstering his weapon. “Seeing as I’m not the one trussed up.” He turned to look at Cody. “Maybe we will try some of your ideas,” he said. “Are they messy?”
“Will he be recognisable by the end?”
“Do you want him to be?”
Cody’s grin widened. “Then there’s some stuff Sadie’s shown me.”
“I’m sure there is.” Prater jerked his head slightly. “Come on. Time’s wasting here.”
Cody and Burkett hauled Mal towards the common area doorway, his body hanging between them as he fought for breath.
“Mal –“ “Cap –“ “No!” “Don’t you dare,” Jayne added, but they were all outdone by Simon.
“Wait!” he shouted. “I can help you!”
“What?” Prater span on his heel.
“You don’t have to … I’ll tell you about the statue.”
The others looked at him, and Mal glared, even through the pain in his belly and back. “You keep that pretty mouth shut,” he managed to grind out.
Simon ignored him. “You’re right. It’s on Aegis. In a hidden room. It’s worth a fortune.”
Prater’s eyes glittered. “Then how come you didn’t take it?”
The young man shrugged as best he could in the bindings. “We needed to find a buyer. And there’s so many pirates around these days, the captain thought it was better to leave it where it was until we did.”
“Simon, don’t you say another word,” Mal warned, but Cody slammed him in the gut again, this time with Vera, and he cried out. The two men let him fall to the deck.
Hank was looking from one to the other, his grey eyes wide in shock. “Look, no, you can’t -”
“And did you?” Prater asked, ignoring the others.
“Yes. A man called Randolph Bell. He’s a professor at Ariel University. We were going back to pick it up, deliver it to him and collect the money. It would have –”
“I don’t particularly care what you were going to do with the cash. You won’t be in a position to spend it anyway.” Prater’s eyes narrowed. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“There’s a plaque. We took it as proof. Dr Bell would know from that it was –”
“Plaque?” He dropped to his heels next to the young man, then grimaced as the finally-healing wound in his chest pulled. “What plaque?”
“You know, I might be able to help you with that,” Simon said, nodding towards his torso. “I’m a doctor, and I could -”
Prater hit him, slamming his head back against Jayne’s. The big man grunted, and lights swam in front of Simon’s vision. Kaylee’s wail filled the cargo bay.
“Cao ni zuzong shíba dai!” Freya yelled, struggling again.
“You stop that,” Cody said quietly, resting Vera against her temple. “Or I’ll be tempted to show you a few things myself.” She glared at him, and he felt his skin crawl from the inside. He clicked off the Callahan’s safety, very loud in the suddenly silent bay. “And that.”
“Frey …” Mal murmured from his position on the floor, and she looked at him. “Don’t. Please.”
“Cody, you don’t shoot anyone until I say,” Prater ordered.
The young killer put his head onto one side. “Just her. As an example to the rest.”
“All right.” Slipping the safety back on, he used the tip of the barrel to run down Freya’s cheek, almost a caress. “Later,” he promised.
Prater turned back to Simon. “Now, what plaque?”
Ethan was biting the inside of his lip so hard he could taste blood. “Mama,” he whispered, holding tightly onto Jesse, tears threatening to spill down his cheeks. “Daddy.”
“There’s a secret compartment. In the bulkhead over there.” Simon nodded towards the wall. “There’s a catch. If you untie me I can show -”
“Cody,” Prater interrupted. “Find it.”
“Boss.” He crossed to the section indicated and rested Vera against a crate.
“There’s deadfalls and traps in the tunnels,” Simon went on. “The plaque is the key.”
“How?” Prater demanded.
“It has to go back into place first, before you try and take the statue. Otherwise the whole place collapses.”
“Are you telling the truth?”
“Why would I lie?”
Prater gazed at him, considering, then asked, “Any of the kids his?”
“The oldest girl,” Cody supplied, feeling along the metal seams. “And the little blonde one.”
“Well, just consider this.” He smiled at Simon, his eyes cold. He grabbed his hair, pulling his head back until the tendons in his neck stretched painfully. “If you’re not telling the truth, if you’re trying to play me somehow, I promise it’ll go hard on them. On all the kids.”
“No!” Kaylee shouted.
“I’m not lying,” Simon said between gritted teeth. “There’s a gold statue, covered with gems.” He let his eyes snap to Mal and back. “He’s seen it.”
Mal struggled into a sitting position. “Simon, I’m warning you -”
“And I’m trying to save your life!” For a man who hardly ever raised his voice, he could fill the cargo bay without trying. “Ever since I’ve been on board I’ve been the poor relation, kept happy with scraps. You’ve never even asked me if I think jobs are a good idea, you’re just gone ahead and taken them, regardless of what others say. Well, this time I’m doing what I think is right.” He looked at Prater. “I’ll show you where the statue is. But you have to promise to let us go.”
“Found it,” Cody called, lifting the bulkhead section away and reaching into the dark space beyond.
Prater let his lips lift. “I might consider it.”
“He doesn’t know where it is,” Mal scoffed. “He didn’t go inside. Too much of a coward. Afraid of ghosts.”
Cody unwrapped the plaque and handed it to Prater. “It’s not gold,” he pointed out.
“I never said it was,” Simon put in quickly. “Just that it’s the key.”
“Did you go inside?” Prater asked, standing up to examine the carvings on the ancient wood, then wiping one hand down his pants.
“None of us did,” Jayne put in quickly. “Only the Cap. He didn’t trust the rest of us.” He managed to put a fair amount of contempt into his tone. “Decided we weren’t honourable enough. He went alone.”
“Do any of the rest of you know the way? The traps?” Prater looked around the bound crew, but none answered. He laughed. “Loyal family you have here, Reynolds.”
“Sure they are,” Mal said, glaring at them.
Something buzzed in Jasper’s pocket and he pulled out a small com unit. “Yes?”
“Coming into Aegis orbit in ten minutes,” said a tinny voice. “What do you want us to do?”
Jasper looked at Prater in enquiry, who said, “Can he land the ships together?”
“Warren, can you land -” Jasper began.
“I heard. No. Turbulence of re-entry would likely tear us apart anyway, maybe burn us both up.”
Prater nodded. “Then we’ll disengage. Warren can stay on board with Holder, but everyone else comes with us.”
Jasper spoke into the comm unit. “You heard that too?”
“I did. Where’d you want me to set down?”
“Next to this heap,” Prater said.
“Okay. Make sure the airlock’s closed from your side.”
“Doing it.” He hurried to the controls and pressed the button, the inner doors grinding closed. All the lights showed green. “We’re locked tight.”
“Disengaging.” There was a shudder through Serenity as the other ship let go the seal. “Good luck.” The com unit went silent.
Prater turned to Mal. “Seems like you’ve got a reprieve,” he said conversationally. “For a little while.” He half-smiled. “Cody, get us down next to that temple. Captain Reynolds here is going to help us get rich.”
Ethan relaxed a little, feeling his mother do the same, but there was still tension and anger coming from her in waves, and a real worry for her children. He wanted to help, needed to help, but she’d told him to hide. Made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he was to stay hidden with Jesse until she or his father came and got them.
Jesse moaned a little, her face screwing up. “Ge ge,” she whined. “Stie.” It was her version of the word thirsty.
“I know,” Ethan whispered. “Me too.” He shook his head. “But we have to –“
“Stie.” She began to cry, her small fist in her mouth.
“Okay. Jesse, shh. I’ll get something.” He reached up to the catch on the inside of the wall, listening hard. He had to risk it.
Mal watched Prater follow Cody through the top hatch towards the bridge. “Quick thinking there, doc,” he breathed, eyeing the two men who’d been left in charge of them as they rummaged through one of the cages in the corner. “And thanks.”
Hank stared at them. “You were playing?”
“Quietly, Hank, quietly. And no, no games.” Mal looked at Simon gratefully. “Just bought us a little time. Me, anyway.”
Simon shook his head. “It’s all I could think of.”
“Just enough truth to make it real, and a palatable lie,” River put in. “I didn’t know you had it in you.” She was proud of him.
He gave her a small smile. “But we’re still tied up. And I don’t see how it helps.”
“Me neither,” Mal admitted. “But at least they ain’t cutting on me. And maybe down on Aegis I can turn the tables.”
“How?” Hank asked, but didn’t wait for an answer as Zoe moaned. “Honey?” He tried to lean forward to get closer to her.
“Mei pigu yan,” she muttered.
“That must be your influence,” Mal said, relieved more than he’d ever care to admit. “I’m pretty sure she never cussed as much with me as she does now with you.”
Hank glared at him, then went back to looking at his wife. “Zoe?”
“Anyone get the registration of the ship that hit me?” she asked, lifting her head and blinking hard.
“Yeah, that we did,” Mal replied. “Trouble is, it’s still around.”
“I think someone needs to explain things to me,” his first mate said. “And why am I tied up?”
Ethan tugged the wall back into place, hearing it click, then handed Jesse the mug of water. “Here,” he said.
She grabbed it with both hands, sucking it down her dry throat, not caring that some of the liquid ran down her chin onto her nightdress. It didn’t take long to empty. “K’you,” she said.
“You’re welcome.” Ethan rubbed her face dry. “You okay now?”
“’Gry.” Hungry. That’s what she was saying.
“Me too.” He shook his head unhappily. “Can’t, Jesse. Not safe. We have to stay here.” He had been terrified getting just the water, his heart pounding hard all the while, listening for someone to open the hatch and find him. “Not safe.”
“Mama.” The little girl didn’t care about it being safe or not. She wanted her mother to hold her, to feel her warmth. “Mama.”
“Oh, Jesse,” Ethan moaned, pulling her against him. “Me too.”
Cody landed Serenity in the same place as before, but with a lot less finesse than Hank.
The pilot winced as the Firefly’s landing struts took almost double the weight that they were designed for as Cody cut the thrusters half a second too soon. The ship groaned.
“Hun zhang,” he murmured.
Prater didn’t even appear to notice. “Get him up,” he said to Jasper, kicking Mal’s feet.
“Boss, do you really think this is a good idea?” Jasper asked, rubbing his hands together as if he was cold. “I mean, traps and deadfalls ... he might just be planning to lead you into one and then where would you be?”
“Jasper.” There was more than a warning tone in Prater’s voice, but the other man didn’t seem to hear.
“Why don’t you just do what you were going to do, and we can –“
Prater slapped him, hard, across the left cheek. “Enough!” he thundered. “And don’t you go thinking I don’t know this is all your fault in the first place. If you hadn’t let some po fu distract you back on Bernadette we’d still have the goods, and I wouldn’t have had some hack digging around my insides!”
Jasper stood still a moment, not touching the burning skin, then nodded. He pulled a knife from his pocket, sliding the blade out before going down onto his knees and cutting the bindings around Mal’s ankles. He glanced into the other man’s face, almost apologetically.
Cody Dean appeared on the top catwalk. “We’re down,” he said unnecessarily.
“Yeah.” Prater glared. “Next time can you try a bit harder to crash us? I don’t think it quite worked today.” Maybe he had noticed.
Cody just shrugged. “It’s been a while.”
Jasper hauled Mal to his feet, holding him up until enough feeling came back in his legs to be able to stand unaided. “Ready, boss.”
“Not quite.” Prater looked at the rest of the still-bound crew. “Maybe you were right after all,” he said thoughtfully. “Maybe we could do with a little insurance. I wouldn’t put it past our good captain here to lead us into a trap, even though it’d kill him too, just to save the rest. So we take another with us.” His eyes settled on Freya.
“You want her?” Cody asked, stepping forward. “She’s his wife. Not likely to want anything to happen to her.”
Prater frowned as he realised where he’d seen her before. “And have her hit me again? I don’t think so.” He smiled. “No, we’ll take that one.” He pointed to River. “She’ll be easy to control, little thing like she is, and I’m sure Malcolm won’t want her getting hurt either.”
Mal pulled his arm free of Jasper’s grasp. “I won’t make trouble,” he said quickly. “I’ll show you the way, help you get the statue. Believe me, it’s worth more’n both our ships, and you can take what you want. You can have the lot, including the plaque. I’m giving it to you, right now. Do what you want with me, too. Just let my crew go. And leave the girl here.” He licked his lips. “Please.”
Prater smiled slowly. “Nice to hear a man beg for a change. But we’re taking her. As for letting the rest of you go, I’ll think about it. Once I’ve got that statue in my hands.” He picked up the plaque. “Get her ready,” he instructed. “Jasper, you go up to the bridge, keep in com contact. Burkett’ll watch this lot, although I know they won’t be any trouble. Sadie’s staying too, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you she has your kids with her. And she really doesn’t like children, so just sit quietly.” He slammed his palm down onto the door control, hearing the gears grinding. “Cody, grab the torches. Time for us to make ourselves very wealthy men.”
to be concluded
Monday, April 7, 2008 9:03 AM
Monday, April 7, 2008 10:17 AM
Monday, April 7, 2008 1:26 PM
Tuesday, April 8, 2008 2:36 AM
Sunday, April 13, 2008 8:38 AM
Thursday, May 27, 2010 5:08 AM
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