BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Prospero's Legacy - Part V
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The plan to steal the replicator begins to come together. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1962    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Captain Bennett was somewhat annoyed, to say the least. First of all his regular supply route had been disrupted and he’d been ordered to an obscure moon to pick up … something, and now there had been a fight amongst his crew.

“So what started it?” he asked, staring at the five men, each sporting an assortment of cut lips, black eyes and other injuries. “Well?”

None of them seemed inclined to admit responsibility. Bennett looked at his first mate, standing to one side, his arms crossed.

“I don’t know, sir. Everything was fine, the meal was finished, and it … erupted.” Tyzack seemed almost apologetic.

Bennett sighed. “Someone must have thrown the first punch.” He glanced at the smallest of the men, a split above his eye still bleeding slightly. “Hannigan. You don’t usually get into trouble. You must have noticed who started it.”

“No, sir,” Hannigan said, trying to stand more or less to attention, but failing miserably because his ribs hurt like hell.

“How about you, Rykel?” Bennett tried the opposite end of the spectrum, looking up into the face of the largest of his crew, who didn’t appear to have any facial injuries himself, but whose knuckles suggested he had been the cause of some.

“No, sir,” the big man rumbled, almost making the decking vibrate.

“If no-one admits being responsible, I’ll have no alternative, you do realise that?” Bennett scanned his crew irritably.

“Yes, sir.” Hannigan spoke for them all.

Bennett didn’t speak for a long minute, just glowering at his men, then he sat forward, picking up his pen. “Fine. You will each be docked one week’s pay.”

“But Captain -” Rykel began.

“Care to make it a month’s?” He glared at them. “I won’t have brawling on my vessel. And I will make an example of each and every one of you if it happens again, do you understand?”

There was various noddings and mutters of acceptance, then they filed out.

“And get to the infirmary. I’m not having any of you reporting sick because of this.” Tyzack closed the door behind them. “I'm sorry, Greg,” he said quietly. “I honestly don’t know what’s got into them.”

“I do. They don’t like our passengers, and I can’t say I disagree.”

“It’s just … there’s an atmosphere, and you know how it goes. One little word out of place and we have a major fight on our hands.”

“Oh, I know that, Terry.” He got up and opened the drawer to the filing cabinet, taking out a bottle of Saki and two glasses. “And if I had my way I’d put them off on the nearest moon. Or better yet, not taken them on board at all. But they’re here, and we have to obey orders.” If he could have spat the words, he would have. Pouring two slugs, he handed one to Tyzack and sat back down. “Cheers.”

“Cheers.”

They sipped companionably.

“Talking of our passengers, did they see anything of this?” Bennett asked, feeling the alcohol warming his belly.

“No. They’ve been sticking pretty much to their bunks, even for food.”

“Better they stay there. Keep them out of my way.” Bennett stared into his drink, wondering vaguely at the animosity he was feeling, something not exactly usual for him, just like his crew brawling.

“Just a few more days,” Tyzack said consolingly, swigging back the last of his saki. He stood up. “Then they’ll be out of our hair for good.” He smiled and walked out.

Bennett didn’t move, just staring into the middle distance. It wasn’t just the passengers themselves, although when they’d come on board they’d looked down their noses at him and his crew. No, it was the box they had with them. He might only be the captain of a supply freighter, but he knew a cryo container when he saw one. 395MT, it said in stencilled letters on the side. Not that it was any of his business, but he was sorely tempted to go and take a look inside, see who it was they were so damn determined to hide from him.

But that would mean having it reported to his bosses at the Blue Sun Corporation, and then he’d probably lose his licence, and without that he’d not be able to do more than scrape a living on the Rim. No, better he leave it all as it was.

He lifted his glass, but suddenly knew it would taste like dust in his mouth. Climbing tiredly to his feet, he crossed his office to the small bathroom to splash water on his face, and pour the remains of the clear liquid down the drain.

---

Meat. Fresh and bloody, raw and still alive. It made it hard to concentrate, just the anticipation, but what held them together was enough, held them loosely knit but capable of running their ship. Of course, occasionally they would turn on each other, just for sport, biting and gouging until there was nothing left but a few bloody rags of skin and a few gnawed bones. But that was when they were bored, which wasn't often, as there was always someone around to eat. And they could just feel the pulses getting stronger with every mile of space they moved through.

---

Jayne was cleaning his guns, making sure they were ready to go at a moment’s notice, even if he couldn’t do more than carry a small concealed weapon on the job coming up. Putting Boo to one side, he was about to pick up Betsey when he heard a small cry and a clatter. Getting to his feet he went out onto the catwalk and looked over.

“What the …” He jumped down the metal staircase to the cargo bay floor, gathering River into his arms. “What happened?”

“I fell,” she said, her hand to her head.

“You?”

“It can happen.”

“Not to you it don’t,” he said, lifting her up. “You ain't never fallen that I can recall.”

“I had too many legs.”

“What?” Hefting her small weight easily, he carried her towards the infirmary. “Doc! Get your pigu in here and see to your sis!” he called.

Simon hurried out from the lower crew quarters. “What happened?”

“I fell,” River said succinctly, letting Jayne lay her tenderly on the medbed. “I just fell.”

“Did you lose consciousness?” Simon pulled her hand away, examining the area with gentle fingers.

“No.”

“No,” Jayne confirmed. “I was right there ‘mmediately it happened.”

“I only slipped,” River said, feeling embarrassed and letting the annoyance wash through her. “Still the same things in the dark,” she added, somewhat cryptically. “It’s just the absence of light.”

“What?” Simon asked, staring at her.

“She said she had too many legs,” Jayne said.

“River?” He looked into her eyes in surprise. “Did you?”

She gazed down at her hands. “Maybe.”

Mal stuck his head in the doorway. “What’s all the ruckus?”

“River hurt herself,” Simon explained, looking up reluctantly. “I don’t think anything’s broken, but I need to take a scan to be sure. She’s certainly going to have a bruise the size of an egg on her temple.”

“She’s still here,” River muttered. "Just too many legs."

“What?”

“You okay, albatross?” Mal asked, stepping inside and looking at her with concern.

“I only fell. Everyone falls,” River explained, fairly patiently. “I don’t need a scan.”

“River, I think you ought to let your bro be the judge of that, seeing as he’s the doctor.” Mal smiled softly at her, but it didn’t have the desired effect.

“I'm not one of your children!” she said tightly, swinging her legs off the bed and standing up before anyone could stop her. “Just because they’re not here. I don’t need to be coddled!”

She ran out of the infirmary, neatly sidestepping Mal, and jumped lightly up the steps to the cargo bay.

“Riv!” Jayne went to follow her, but Mal’s hand in the centre of his chest made him pause.

“You go make sure she’s okay, then join us in the kitchen,” he ordered. “We need to go over the last details of Simon’s plan, but I think we ought to talk about River too.”

“She just fell.”

“Yeah, I got that. Just go check she’s okay and not likely to be trying to take off from my ship ‘cause there’s too many legs on board.”

Jayne glared at him, but just nodded and hurried out of the infirmary.

---

The ship moved parallel, just out of sensor range, at least for normal ships. Although this was anything but normal. Corpses were lashed to the hull, and bits that were never meant to be seen were open to the vacuum of space. Red paint – at least it looked like paint – made it appear that the nose of the ship was on fire, and the giant magnetic grappler attached to the starboard extender made it look ungainly, out of proportion.

Not that anyone cared what it looked like, except to terrorise.

---

Jayne didn’t usually mind if he was the centre of attention. There had been times in the past when everyone had looked at him as if he was something someone had walked in on their shoes when he’d made some inappropriate comment at the dinner table. He didn’t do that anymore. Well, not so much. But this time he felt more than a little uncomfortable.

“She really said she had too many legs?” Zoe asked, concern on her beautiful dark features.

“That she did.” Jayne looked around as if checking no-one else was listening. “She’s said a few odd things these last coupla days.”

Kaylee leaned forward in her chair. “Like what?”

“And more importantly, why didn’t you say?” Mal asked pointedly. “If she’s seeing something –“

“A’course she is, Mal! She’s seeing the trouble we’re heading into!” Jayne said, throwing his hands into the air, his temper flaring.

“There’s no point in anyone getting angry,” Freya said quietly.

“Yeah. Sorry,” Jayne said. “Don’t know what’s got into me.”

“We’re all on edge.”

“Yeah.”

Mal coughed to get their attention again. “I meant specifically.”

Jayne took a deep breath. “Crazy stuff. Like she used to talk. About mirrors and shadows or some such. And coming home. She was talking in her sleep this morning, and she kept saying something about someone coming home.”

“Did she say who?”

“No. And if she did, I didn’t understand. She was just mumbling, and I thought she was only dreaming.”

Mal exchanged a look with Freya, who shook her head. She hadn’t been able to remember her dreams either, only a feeling of foreboding that was probably at the task they’d set themselves.

“I can talk to her,” she offered. “See if we can’t piece things together from what we feel.”

“Be good,” he said. “Especially if something I don’t know about is out there.”

“I kinda ignore all the things I don’t know about,” Hank put in conversationally. “If I don’t know about it, I don’t worry.”

“Well, normally I’d agree with you,” Mal responded. “But right now I tend to have to think about the things I don’t know about so they don’t get my pilot killed.”

“Ah. Yes, well, when you put it like that …”

“It could be the bump on the head,” Simon said slowly. “It would disorient anyone, but with River -”

“She was talking about things ‘fore that, doc,” Jayne interrupted.

“I suppose. The trouble is, there is no normal baseline for my sister. She still has bad days, even though she is so much better now than I could ever have dreamed. But I can’t say what might have affected her without doing some tests.”

“Like they worked before.”

Mal was about to jump in, stop the argument before it began, but Simon surprised him.

“No, you’re right. No matter what I did I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t stop the nightmares, lashing out at people with knives, the hiding for days, the paranoia eating at her … but you could.”

Jayne’s eyebrows raised. “A lot of it was Miranda,” he pointed out. “Getting out that stuff she’d read.”

“Oh, yes, and I’m not attempting to suggest otherwise. But without you I don’t think she’d be any better than that.”

The big man didn’t quite know how to take the compliment. “Um, thanks,” he muttered, his ears going the very palest shade of pink.

“Well, as long as we’ve finished this mutual appreciation society, I’d kinda like to get back to business,” Mal said dryly.

“Sorry, Mal.” Simon sat back, feeling Kaylee’s hand creep into his.

“Truth is, she ain't the only one who’s antsy. I feel like I'm waiting for the other boot to drop, and it’s not conducive to my calm.”

“Do you want to try another planet?” Zoe asked.

“No. But I’m more’n a little concerned about using the shuttle on its own. If something happens, we’d be too far away to do anything to help.”

“What do you suggest?” Simon spoke. “The hospital isn’t going to let a Firefly land, let alone take an expensive piece of equipment on board, no matter how good our paperwork.”

“No, we’ll be using the shuttle for that. But I want Serenity down someplace close. Not the port. All too easy to get landlocked if we do that. But out in the countryside.” He looked at Hank. “Can you find somewhere?”

Hank nodded slowly. “Probably.”

Kaylee bit her lip thoughtfully. “Cap, what time’s it planetside?”

Mal had no idea so looked at Hank for guidance.

“Daybreak,” the pilot confirmed. “We’ve still got to pick up the IDs and some work clothes, but I figure we’ll be ready for the main event come sundown.”

“You got an idea, little Kaylee?” Mal asked, his gaze soft on his mechanic.

“Only that … last time we came here, I seem to recall some big parks in the centre of town. Huge places, full of grass and trees. I took Bethie for a walk in one, while we were waiting for you to do business. Couldn’t we … land there? I mean, after dark, when most folks have gone to bed, so there ain't anyone watching?”

Mal smiled. “That’s a damn good idea, Kaylee,” he said approvingly, and was warmed by the grin he received in return. After what had happened with Niska, there had been times he wasn't sure he was ever going to get his mei-mei back the way she used to be, but visiting her folks had changed a lot of things. But it was still nice to be able to make her smile like that.

Simon squeezed her hand. “Actually, it is. If we wait until nightfall, there should be less people around the hospital, too, and that means less likelihood of being discovered to be fakes.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Good thinking, bao bei.”

She blushed, basking in the praise. “Maybe I should be planning the heists from now on,” she joked.

“Sounds like a good idea,” Jayne agreed. “Might stop Mal getting shot.”

The captain ignored him. “Okay. Zoe, Jayne, you take the shuttle down and get the stuff we need.” He looked at Simon. “How long do these inspections normally take?”

The young doctor shrugged. “Hours, probably. And we can’t go straight for the Viro-Stim. That would be too obvious.”

“I have a list of things we should look at first, sir,” Zoe said. “Simon’s gone over it with me.”

“Good, good. Then we’ll land in one of the parks about one in the a.m., local time. As long as you ain’t too long, we shouldn’t attract too much attention. But I think you’d better take a pilot. If the pair of you are busy thieving, we need someone to be keep the shuttle ready to go. I can –“

“I’ll go,” Freya offered unexpectedly.

“Good idea,” Simon added.

“What?” Mal turned to his wife. “I didn’t actually mean –“

“I know. I want to.” She smiled at him.

“But what about River? You were going to talk to her.”

“I know, but on second thoughts I think Kaylee might be better. At least for the time being. If I try and get her to open up on what’s worrying her, she might close down entirely. Kaylee can sit with her, make sure she doesn’t come to any harm.”

“I can do that, Cap,” the young woman agreed.

“Well, I –“

“I don’t know, Mal,” Jayne said, shaking his head. “I don’t like the idea of leaving Riv alone like this. Not when she’s having a bad day.”

Mal sighed. “I know, but it looks like I've been outvoted. This once.” He looked at Freya. “But you be careful.”

“I will.”

---

Closer. Closer. They could almost smell the humanity.

---

Freya had settled into the shuttle, the start-up sequence going smoothly. Zoe was already seated, having been told in no uncertain terms by her husband that if anything went wrong she was to run like hell and damn the machine. She’d shut him up with a kiss that still lingered on her lips.

“You’re gonna look after her?” Jayne asked, glancing towards the common area. He didn’t need to look to know River was just inside the doorway, leaning on the bulkhead.

“You know it.” Mal crossed his arms.

“And if this all goes pear-shaped? If the IDs don’t work? You got a back-up plan?”

“Guns blazing, Jayne.”

The big man glared, then grinned. “Yeah, figured as much.”

“Just keep an open channel so we can hear what’s going on,” Mal reminded him. “And don’t forget you’ve got my wife with you, so I’d be obliged if you could keep an eye on her for me.”

“I’ll keep her outta trouble.” Jayne nodded, then ran up the stairs two at a time to shuttle one.

“Explain to me once again how come I'm not part of this grand plan of yours,” Mal said to Simon, as if in idle conversation.

“You were tortured, Mal. And I still can’t be sure if that Quicksilver did any long term damage.”

“But I'm healed, doc.” He didn’t mention the occasional twinges he felt. “And Jayne had his hands broken, but I don’t see you making him stay behind.”

“The bones have mended well, and very quickly. I’d wonder if he wasn’t related to Freya if I didn’t know he had the constitution of an ox.”

“That ain't the point.” He felt the shuttle disengage. “You let Frey go.”

“She insisted.”

“So you let her persuade you and not me. Your captain.”

“Mal, don’t try that hard done by tone with me. It’s my plan, and I get the final word.”

Mal glared at the younger man, but it slid off his shell. He was actually impressed, but not about to mention it. Instead he strode away up the stairs towards the bridge, where he knew he was going to be ensconced for the foreseeable future. “You’d better be right about this, doctor.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 1:26 AM

KATESFRIEND


Glad to see more of this arc! Great job of foreshadowing from the Reaver's point of view, to the cargo ship transporting the missing Tam. Interesting that she is projecting violence. You're really letting Simon develop as a character and as a leader here - knowing how to deal with difficult people without resorting to gunplay! Nice touch and fully in line with how an intelligent person should adapt to challenging circumstances.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 1:53 AM

AMDOBELL


Uh oh, forboding music drumming menacingly in the gorram background... gulp. I just know you are going to get Frey injured at the very least, you have been too kind to her lately. As for Simon putting his foot down and Mal letting him, that was new and brought the tug of a smile to my lips. Really concerned about River coming unglued. Why does it always have to happen just before the *goushi* hits the fan, when we could really use her ability to see what is coming? I know, be a rutting short story were that the case. Now for some thrilling heroics - Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 1:56 PM

SLUMMING


This is getting more creepifying by the minute. When River's bibbledy, I get a little bibbledy myself!


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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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