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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Hank has been accused of murder - will Mal and the crew be able to get him out of jail? NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1789 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal and Jayne approached the sheriff’s station, hearing the grumblings of the people clustered around getting louder. As they got closer, the words became more distinct.
“Heard tell he cut her up really bad.”
“Mavis said there wasn’t much left, just shreds. Shouldn’t be allowed.”
“Someone told me there was no blood left in the body.”
“Shouldn’t be allowed. Not here in our town.”
“Someone should do something about it.”
“Make sure that monster doesn’t do it again.”
“Shouldn’t be allowed.”
“Shouldn’t be –“
Mal stopped listening. As long as they were still at the ‘shouldn’t be allowed’ stage, Hank was safe. It was when they reached the level of ‘we’re going to do something about it’ that he’d start worrying.
Finally they were at the station, a squat building with high windows, across which a faint glitter announced a high energy forcefield protecting the glass. A look from Mal had Jayne wandering away, as if he had nothing better to do, when in fact he was going to check out the rear of the premises. At least the area in front was clear of people. Not that it mattered. As soon as Mal started for the door all conversation died behind him. He knocked loudly.
“Yeah?” The voice from inside was wary, and probably armed.
“My name’s Malcolm Reynolds,” he said, attempting to sound as unthreatening as possible. “I’m captain of the transport ship Serenity. And I believe you might be holding my pilot.”
“What’s his name?”
There was a brief discussion inside, none of which Mal could understand, only hearing the dull murmur of voices.
Finally the response came. “Yeah. That’s him.”
Mal pushed the feeling of inevitable dread back down into his stomach. “I want to see him.”
“Not letting you inside.”
“He’s my crew.”
“And you got my sympathies on that fact. But he’s been bound for murder, and that means until the judge sees him, he’s not available.”
“Just for a few minutes. To make sure –“
“I said no.”
Mal swallowed back on the curse that wanted to spill out, and instead asked, “Can I ask who you are?”
“My name’s Kuerk. I’m the sheriff, duly appointed by the people of Monument City to keep the peace. And your pilot’s found himself on the wrong side of that duty.”
“Is he okay?”
“Apart from the fact that he’s pretty much scared shitless, yeah, he’s fine.”
“Does he say he’s innocent?”
“Did you expect him to admit he was guilty?” Kuerk countered. “Now, like I said, you ain’t gonna see him, so I’d be grateful if you’d just back away from the door and go on home to your ship. Which, by the way, won't be going anywhere until after this little matter is sorted out, just in case we need you as witnesses.”
Mal took that to mean they were going to be landlocked, if they weren’t already. Dammit, but every border moon seemed to be getting that technology nowadays. It was getting so that a man couldn’t go about his own honest, nefarious business without his ship being tied up. Besides, he was getting tired of having a conversation with a door. “When does he go up before the judge?”
“We put a call in soon as we bound him. Arraignment will be this afternoon, then the judge will decide when to call the jury. But it’ll be quick. We don’t like to hang around on things like this.” Kuerk’s temper was evidently shortening. “You have to leave now.”
“Tell him I was here.”
There was no response, and Mal walked slowly away, the crowd parting in front of him, giving him space in case being a murderer was contagious.
Jayne loped out to join him. “What’re you gonna do?”
“Yeah. And if you’re considering breaking him out, it ain’t gonna be easy. This place might look like it’s come straight out the Ark, but there’s high tech security zinging all over it. Plus which there’s at least two guys inside, and they ain’t likely to be above shooting Hank just so’s we don't get him out.”
“That was my reading of the situation too.”
“So what now?”
“I'm gonna find a Cortex booth. And you’re going to call Zoe, get her down here.” He handed the big man the comlink.
“What about the doc?”
“Tell him to stay at the clinic. One of us will come and pick him up.”
“And if this crowd gets more antsy? You think you can fight ‘em off single-handed?”
Mal almost smiled. “Never thought I’d see the day I’d be pleased a town didn’t allow guns. I might not be armed, but neither are they.”
“He’ll be fine,” Simon said, repeating the same words he’d been saying all along. “He didn’t do this.”
“I know.” Zoe was staring out of the window, her arms crossed.
“Mal will find a way out of this, and we’ll get the antiviral and be gone.”
Simon looked at her, the anger radiating off her like heat, and for one long moment was glad Zoe wasn’t mad at him.
Stokes stepped into the room. “They’ve brought her here,” he said, his voice dull. “Only place in town that’s even anywhere near capable of handling a body. I’ve put her in the morgue.” He barked a laugh, lacking in all humour. “Kind of like every other day. She should be at work, anyway.”
“Work?” Simon looked confused.
“Didn’t you realise? Didn’t I say? The woman who died … it’s Rita.”
Simon was startled. “Your receptionist?”
“Rita Hammond. My partner’s wife.”
“I ...” Simon thought back to the day before, the woman who’d shown them the way, and he was appalled to realise he didn’t even remember what she looked like. “I'm sorry.”
“At least Stan’s too sick to be told.” He quickly added by way of explanation, “Stan Hammond.”
“Anyway, the deputy who brought her said they want me to do ... to do an autopsy, but I ...” He rubbed his hands across his face. “I can't.”
“I understand she was your friend, but –“
“That’s not the point. It’s true, but not the reason. I'm not a pathologist,” Stokes clarified. “The most I’ve ever done is in certifying that a man got killed because his horse rolled on him. And no-one ever accused the horse of murder.”
“Don’t you ever have suspicious deaths here?”
“Of course. But mostly people know who did it.”
“That’s not exactly very scientific.” Simon pushed his hair from his forehead, idly noting the dampness of his skin at the same time.
“We’re not Core, here, Simon. Things are done somewhat differently. Besides, Stan was ... is the coroner. It’s his responsibility to do that kind of thing. But it wouldn’t be ethical for him to carry out the autopsy. Not on his own wife. Even if he wasn’t sick.”
“Not just unethical.”
“No. No, of course not.” Stokes took a hesitant step forward. “And that’s why I need your help. You’re not just a medic, are you?”
“That’s his job,” Zoe put in quickly. “On board.”
“But not just that.” Stokes took a deep breath, looking back at Simon. “I think you’ve had a lot more training than you’re wanting to admit. In fact I’d be willing to bet you’ve been board approved.” He glanced at the ViroStim, still working away in the corner. “There’s not many who are just a medic who could get that going. And things you’ve said, going round the wards. You’re a doctor. Probably a hell of a lot better qualified than me.”
Zoe stirred, her hand a bare few inches from the knife she had settled into the back of her waistband. “I think that’s enough,” she said quietly.
Stokes ignored her. “I don’t care about the reason you’re out here. Whether you were disbarred, or you had a breakdown, or whether you’re a crook on the run from the Alliance. I’m asking, as one doctor to another, for your help.”
Simon didn’t deny anything, just looked steadily at the other man. “I’m also Hank’s friend. Won’t people think I’m just trying to cover up for him?”
“No. I don’t believe he did this, but I’m not going to destroy evidence just to prove it.”
“Good. But I take your point. So we don’t tell anyone. I’ll assist, and then if any questions do get asked, I’ll deal with them. We won’t be lying. Just … stretching the truth a little.”
Simon glanced at Zoe, who nodded slowly. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll do it.” He ran his hand over his forehead again, feeling the sweat beading on his skin. “And probably the sooner the better.”
Stokes grinned. “Great! And thanks.”
The comlink on the table buzzed, and Zoe picked it up. “Yes?”
“Zoe, Mal wants you at the sheriff’s station. He can’t get in, thinks you might have more luck as the wife.”
“What about Simon?”
“Tell him not to go anywhere.”
“I won’t be,” the young man said, taking off his jacket. “I’ve got work to do.”
Stewart Macallum looked out of the screen. “I'm not sure what you think I can do, Captain.”
“You said you’re an influence in this town. I need to see my pilot. Make sure he’s okay. Make sure he isn’t being railroaded into something he didn’t do.”
Macallum shook his head. “Kuerk’s a good man. The evidence must be pretty certain for him to have bound your friend.”
“I wouldn’t know. I ain’t been allowed to see that either.”
Mary Macallum appeared at her husband’s shoulder. “I never did like that woman, every time we had to go to the clinic.”
“Mary!” He was shocked.
“Well, I didn’t. She always made me want to slap her. Either she was being all obsequious ‘cause you’ve got money, or she was making out we thought we were above her.”
“Well, the poor woman’s dead now, so she won’t be doing that anymore.”
Mary didn’t look in the least bit ashamed of herself. “No-one’s going to miss her that much,” she said, turning on her heel and disappearing off screen.
Macallum glared after her them looked at Mal. “Maybe I can talk some sense into Rudi Kuerk. Better be face to face, though.”
“I can come get you in the hover –“
The old man smiled. “We’re not as backwards as all that, Captain. Just because I choose to use the buckboard doesn’t mean I have to. It’s all about image, and old-fashioned morals. Make folks around here believe I know the meaning of family values.” He nodded. “I’ll be with you in less than fifteen minutes.”
Macallum was better than as his word. In something like twelve minutes a fast, modern groundcar pulled up by the sheriff’s station, and he climbed out. “Captain.”
“Sorry to meet again under these circumstances.”
“Let’s see what we can do.” He strode to the jail door.
Kuerk was still insistent. “I can’t do it, Stewart. You know the rules.”
“And I know who made them. The city council, of which I'm the head. And I think a little discretion is better in the long run, don’t you?” He glanced at Mal. “The Captain here isn’t armed. And I'm sure you’re going to have Warner standing by all the time. There’s little Reynolds can do except talk to his man.”
“You can’t deny them access, Rudi,” Macallum said, his tone changing, becoming firmer. “No matter what you think he’s done, that man is innocent until proven guilty. We might be a long way from the Core, but we’re civilised, and that’s a basic tenet of civilisation. He’s innocent until the judge says otherwise.”
There was silence from inside, then there was the sound of locks being disengaged, and the door opened. Sheriff Rudi Kuerk, his hands cradling a very efficient-looking rifle, stepped into the light. “One at a time. No more.”
“Deal.” Macallum turned to Serenity’s captain. “Happy?”
“Thanks.” He held out his hand, but Macallum shook his head.
“Don't be thanking me yet,” the older man warned. “If your pilot is guilty, he’s going to hang, no matter how many people they let in to see him.” He strode back to his groundcar and left, the dust swirling in his wake.
“This way,” Kuerk said, jerking his head towards the back, his long red ponytail flicking.
Mal stepped inside, noting two deputies, each armed with handguns and rifles, as well as cameras in each corner of the room. Jayne was right – if it came down to it, springing Hank was going to be hard and dangerous.
“Warner, take him in.”
“Yes, boss.” One of the deputies, a youngish man not much older than Simon, opened another door, this one heavy steel. Oh, yes. Damn dangerous.
“Thanks,” Mal said.
“Stay with him,” Kuerk ordered.
“Wasn’t going to do otherwise.” Warner followed Mal through into a corridor where all sound was deadened, adding, “Last door.”
“You get much call on your services?” Mal asked conversationally.
“Not much. Folks are pretty law-abiding around here. The odd marital discord, fights in the saloon on a Friday night, that kind of thing. But we ain’t had a murder in over a year. And that was a man hit another with a bottle during an argument.”
Mal stopped. “And he got tried for murder ‘cause of that?”
“Yeah. Right before we hung him.” He opened the door. “Be my guest.”
Mal stepped through, and saw his pilot sitting in a small cell, his head down, hands clasped between his knees. He was wearing a bright green jumpsuit.
His head jerked up, and despite his circumstances a grin plastered itself across his face. He was on his feet and grasping the bars in a moment. “Mal! Wu de muh! I thought I was here to rot. You come to get me out?”
“Not yet. But you can tell me what happened.” He glanced down. “Although starting with the change of attire would be good.”
“They took my clothes,” Hank said in explanation. “Said they needed them for evidence.” He shuddered slightly. “Not that I want to keep them. They’re covered in blood.”
“Not mine.” His knuckles went white on the bars. “Mal, I didn’t do this. Whatever happened, it wasn’t me.”
Mal hitched his thumbs in his pockets. “A woman’s dead. Knifed. And it appears they found you with the body.”
“I know. But I didn’t kill her.”
“You’re sure of that?”
“I couldn’t!” He leaned forward, until his face was pressed against the cold metal. “You know I couldn’t. Gorramit, Mal, I can’t even fire a gun at someone without feeling guilty about it after.”
“Did you know her?”
Hank shook his head. “They wouldn’t let me see. I woke up in the alley, and the next thing I can remember is being dragged along the streets and into here. I got stripped, put into this damn cell and left.” He licked dry lips. “I didn’t do it, Mal.”
“Were you gambling?”
This time guilt flashed across the pilot’s face. “Just a hand or two. To relax. After all the things that’ve been happening, the measles and everything. That was all.”
“You lied to Kaylee about where you were going. How do I know you ain’t lying about killing that woman?”
“It’s not the same thing, Mal!” Hank was desperate for his captain to believe him. “I didn’t kill anyone!”
Mal studied him, the faint sheen of sweat on his skin, the pallor. “Okay,” he finally said. “I believe you.” He saw Hank relax. “But someone did, and they’ve decided to pin it on you. So what do we do about it?”
“Prove it wasn’t me?”
“Might be easier said than done.”
“I can’t spend much longer here, Mal.” He glanced around the small room. “I ... I just can’t.”
Now Mal understood some of the panic. “Your claustrophobia playing up?”
“A little.” Hank managed a shaky grin. “Here’s me, a big strong guy, and I get worried about cramped spaces.”
“It ain’t that small.”
“And I can’t get out.”
“No. Point taken. I’ll see what I can do.”
A muffled conversation in the corridor behind them registered, and Warner looked in. “There’s some woman outside. Says she’s his wife.”
“Zoe!” Hank was almost ecstatic. “Mal, please, I need to see her.”
“One at a time,” Warner said firmly.
“I’ll go, try and get this sorted out.” Mal turned to the door. “I'm trusting you, Hank.”
“I'm worthy of it, Mal.”
“Well, that’s to be seen.”
Out in the main office, Zoe stood up as Mal came through the door. “How is he, sir?” she asked.
“Scared. And angry. Pretty much as you’d expect.”
“Just don’t be ... go easy on him, Zo.”
“Sir.” It was about as non-committal a reply as she could give, and he watched her as she followed Warner into the back.
“I have to say, he’s got good friends,” Kuerk commented, sitting down behind one of the desks. “Most folks would’ve just turned tail and run.”
“I’ve dealt with some who haven’t seen it that way. Particularly over murder.”
“And you’re sure it was? Murder?”
“No, I think she knifed herself half a dozen times in the chest.” Kuerk looked at him. “I’ll let your friend out now, shall I?”
“Sorry. But maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mal suggested. “Some woman was being attacked, Hank decides to play the hero and try and save her, and gets mugged for his trouble.”
“No bruises,” Kuerk said, resting his feet up on the desk. “No sign he’d been hit, or any other injuries.” He fixed Mal with a glare. “We do know our job, Captain Reynolds.” He reached into the drawer. “Besides, if he was mugged or attacked, they wouldn’t have left this on him, would they?” He tossed a small pouch to Mal, who opened it and looked inside. “There’s near a thousand in there. Folks in the bar he was playing in said he was good, and won most of that. They also said he left with a woman. With Rita Hammond.”
“The dead woman?”
“That’s the one.” Kuerk pulled a small cheroot from his pocket. “The very same one who we found your pilot in the vicinity of, covered in her blood, the knife not ten feet away. Now ... you tell me. Guilty or not?”
“I’m innocent, Zoe.” He reached out for her, but she stayed back.
“I know that. You didn’t kill anyone.”
“No.” He tried again. “Can’t I just ... Zoe, please.”
“You were gambling.”
“No, I –“
“You were gambling, and got into trouble from it.”
“I should leave you here.” Zoe’s eyes were hard, like points of ice. “To stew in your own juice.”
“I didn’t do it!” He reached through the bars, trying to touch her.
“Like I said, I know. But if you hadn’t been out, breaking your promise to me and Ben, you wouldn’t be bound now.”
“It was for us! For when we get tired of travelling, want to put down roots. So we could buy a place where Ben can … where are you going?”
“You keep telling yourself that,” she threw over her shoulder. “It’ll help keep you warm at night. You’re gonna need it.” She strode out.
“Zoe?” Hank’s voice followed her out. “Zoe! Come back! Please, Zo, come –“ It was cut off as the door slammed closed.
to be continued
Saturday, May 3, 2008 5:15 AM
Saturday, May 3, 2008 6:18 AM
Saturday, May 3, 2008 11:07 AM
Saturday, May 3, 2008 12:47 PM
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 12:52 AM
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