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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Two Reaver attacks, two targets ... but is it all as it seems? Just thought you'd like a little action, as I've been a bit slow updating. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1711 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The proximity alarm dragged Bennett from his sleep, and he flipped onto his side, thumbing the com. “What is it?” he demanded.
“Incoming ship, sir,” Tyzack said, fear making his voice tremble. “Looks like Reavers.”
“Cao.” He jumped from his bed, dragging his pants back on. “Can we run?”
“Trying, but they’re still gaining.”
“Blow out the damn engines if you have to, but get us away.” He grabbed his gun. “And make sure everyone’s armed.”
“How far are we from planetfall? Anywhere?”
“Closest is Highgate, but it’s still hours out.”
Bennett swallowed. “Then looks like we don’t have any alternative.” He dragged open his door and hurried towards the bridge.
Freya lifted the small ship into the air even as Jayne and Zoe were frantically strapping the ViroStim down. Already they could see figures dropping on lines from the ship overhead, some landing on the hospital itself, others on surrounding buildings. The sound of unearthly cries reached them through the open doorway.
“Jayne, get that closed,” Zoe ordered.
The big man hurried to obey, but paused, leaning out. “Shit,” he whispered, then shouted, “Frey - hard left!”
She didn’t ask why, just yanked on the yoke, the shuttle’s internal gravity having no chance to catch up, and tossing Zoe to the floor.
Something exploded to the right of them, the shuttle pushed up and away, and suddenly she was fighting the controls as the engine all but died. “Hang on,” she yelled, trying to get enough thrust to level out, and knowing they had about a snowball’s chance in hell of landing safely.
A building loomed in the darkness, and using all her strength she managed to force the shuttle to veer slightly, missing it by inches. But there, just beyond, was a small plaza, an open space that she might just be able to pancake the shuttle into, if they could only reach it.
“We’re going down!”
Jayne grabbed hold of Zoe and wrapped his arm through one of the webbing nets on the wall, holding on with all his mighty strength. His last thought before the ground met them with an almighty crash was River.
“Reavers,” River whispered.
Mal gripped the back of the seat. “Where?”
“Here. In the city.” She pointed to a dark shape hanging in the night sky. “Felt their anger, their rage. And they don’t have many guns.” The last wasn't about the Reavers, he knew that.
“Where are they?” He wasn’t talking about the abominations either.
“Knocked down. Freya’s trying to get the engines going, but I don’t know if there’s time.” She didn’t mention that she couldn’t hear Jayne.
“Get us close enough to land.”
“Too many buildings.”
“Then low enough so we can repel down.” He was already heading off the bridge. “Can Hank fly?”
She glanced at the pilot, still sitting on the deck, one hand to his head. “Not for this.”
“Then you keep at the controls. I’ll do this.”
Freya tried various combinations, but nothing was working. Blinking hard to try and keep the blood running from the cut on her forehead from blinding her, she thumped the control yoke and forced herself to her feet.
“Zoe?” she called, peering into the dark interior.
“You land like that again and I’m telling Mal,” the dark woman said, levering herself off the floor. “That was worse than Hank on one of his bad days.”
“We’re alive, though,” Freya pointed out, her eyes adjusting. She could see Jayne hanging from the webbing, his eyes closed. Hurrying to his side she touched his neck, and he groaned.
“Rut it,” he moaned. “You tryin’ to kill us?”
“It doesn’t look like I succeeded.” Freya smiled slightly. “Nobody hurt bad?”
“Winded,” Zoe admitted, bending over and trying to get more air into her lungs.
Jayne glared at her, his eyes the only thing reflecting the light as he untangled his arm. “I’m gonna hold judgement.”
“You do that. I need to go outside.”
“You can’t,” Zoe said quickly. “Not with what might be out there.”
“I have to. I need to check out the shuttle.”
“Then we’d better be armed,” Jayne said, getting to his feet and swearing inventively as all the muscles across his shoulders complained mightily. “In back,” he added. “I brought some guns.”
“Good.” Freya kicked an errant crate out of the way, then heaved another off the weapons box. Opening it, she smiled at what she saw. “Grenades?”
“You know I don’t go nowhere without ‘em.”
“Glad you have.” She pulled a rifle from the box and passed it to Zoe. “I need to take a look at the shuttle, see if we can get her going again.”
“They’ll be coming for us,” the first mate said. “Serenity. They’ll be coming.”
“I know. I can feel them.” She winced inwardly at the confusion she could feel from the crew still on board the Firefly. “But they can’t land. We’re going to have to fly out, or walk.”
Jayne reached past her and removed a shotgun and a box of shells. “I vote we fly.”
“Then you’d better keep watch,” Freya said, going to the doorway and looking out. So far there wasn’t a sight of any Reavers, but she could hear gunfire intermittently from not that far away. “And we’d better hurry.”
Kaylee had the bay door open, and a cable snaked down through the opening into the dark. Mal pulled on his gloves and looked at her.
“You tell River, she’s to hightail it away as soon as I’m down, and not to come back until she knows the Reavers have gone.”
“Cap –” Kaylee’s face was white.
“They’re okay, Frey’s said, even though we can’t get through on the com, but they might need help.” He hefted the bag onto his shoulder.
“Then shouldn’t we all –“
“You do as I say, xaio mei-mei. I‘ll find the others and we‘ll hide ‘til it‘s safe. But you have to leave. Dong mah?”
She swallowed, but said, “Yes, sir.”
He nodded, placed a quick kiss on her cheek and grabbed hold of the cable. “Be back soon,” he promised. Then he stepped to the edge and was gone. A minute later and she felt Serenity slide round and head away, and for one long moment Kaylee felt an intense anger as the psychic on the bridge. No way they should be leaving them. No way.
“Jayne, can you get that out?” Freya pointed to a fragment of shrapnel stuck in the shuttle’s engine housing.
He climbed up, tugging on it. “Wedged,” he said.
She looked around and found a piece of what looked suspiciously like landing strut. “Here. Try this.” She handed it up to him.
Zoe stared into the darkness. “We don’t have much time,” she said softly. “They’re getting closer.”
“I don’t know how long this is going to take,” Freya admitted. “If we can even get things working again, take off … I don’t know.”
“Then I’d better see if I can figure out how long we’ve got.” She raised her rifle slightly, then disappeared into the dark.
Jayne grunted, putting all his weight on the strut, and there was a squealing noise as the shrapnel sprung free. “Got it,” he said, dropping lightly to the ground. “Where’s Zoe?”
“Watching our backs.”
“Maybe I should -” He picked up the shotgun.
Freya shook her head. “I need you here. Did it look like the electrics were fried?”
“Not that I could see. Only it ain’t exactly a great place to be checking things, seeing as there’s no light.”
“No. Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best.” She tugged his arm. “Come on. We need to work inside.”
Mal touched down, his knees absorbing the shock of the landing, and immediately let go of the cable. Glancing up, he imagined he could see Kaylee’s face in the small square of light above, but the Firefly banked and moved quickly away into the dark.
Good girl, he thought as he drew his gun, knowing River would be listening.
Not going far.
Far enough, he ordered. I want my ship to be in one piece when I get back, not full of Reavers.
He couldn’t help but smile as he settled the bag more solidly on his shoulder and jogged down the street, his coat barely keeping out the cold wind. She was never going to get over calling him that.
Keep going in that direction, she added. They’re close.
Good. Now let me concentrate.
He got to a crossway and paused, checking each direction. So far he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Reavers, but he knew they must have seen Serenity hanging in the sky, and their curiosity was almost as insatiable as their hunger for flesh. They’d be coming soon.
A scream ripped through the air, seeming to come at him from all directions, ending in a bubbling sound that made his stomach roll. No time to be that careful, he decided, running ahead.
The lights went out. Just like that. One second there was illumination from various windows and occasional streetlights, then … nothing. They’d hit the power station, he realised. All the better to hunt in the dark.
If anything he speeded up, but it was his undoing. Even though his eyes rapidly adjusted, he didn’t see the body until it was too late, and he fell over it, his hands coming up to break his fall, but it knocked the gun from his hand, the bag going with it. Taking a moment to gather his breath, he turned the figure over, hoping it wasn’t someone he knew, but he didn’t recognise the face, torn about as it was. What he did recognise, however, was that it was fresh. Very fresh. Probably the scream he’d heard …
Something barrelled into him, knocking him onto his back, and a Reaver reared up out of the darkness, skin peeled back from its forehead and cheeks, drooling as it launched itself at Mal. He tried to scrabble to his feet, but knew it was going to be too late, and he could smell the stench of its breath –
A gun blast at close range knocked the Reaver sideways, its head exploding.
Mal swallowed and looked at his saviour. “Thanks, Zoe.”
“No problem, sir,” she said, ratcheting another shell into the chamber. “I take it this is the rescue? All guns blazing?”
“Got it in one.”
“Hmmn.” She held out her hand and helped him up before picking up his gun and giving it back to him. She hooked the bag over her own shoulder. “Well, if you’re all done with your little rest now, I suggest we get going.”
They ran, keeping low, now hearing the distinct sounds of Reavers tearing into the unprotected city, screams of agony mixing with those of terror as people tried to run and were cut down.
Bennett looked up as all the lights went out, then the emergency system kicked in and bathed everyone in blood red.
“What was that?” he asked hoarsely.
“EMP,” Tyzack confirmed. “We’ve got nothing.”
“Did you get the beacon sent?”
“Yes. But no-one’s going to respond in time.”
There was a clanking noise that they felt, rather than heard.
“I take it they’ve locked on.” Bennett felt an odd calmness suffuse through him.
“Yes sir.” Tyzack stared at his captain. “Escape pods?”
“They’ll just pick us off one by one.” He pulled the gun from the holster at his waist. “Get everyone together in the corridors outside the cargo bay. Maybe we can slow them down until someone gets here.”
Bennett shook his head. “Just tell the passengers to sit tight and we’ll protect them as much as we can.” He gave a smile. “I think it’s time to take this fight to them, don’t you?”
Tyzack swallowed and glanced around at the other bridge crew, who all appeared to be as terrified as he was. Still, if Bennett could face death, even one as bad as this was going to be, he could at least stand next to him. “Yes sir,” he said.
The starlight was enough to see the shuttle sitting dead centre in the middle of the tiny plaza, and Mal had to smile. He didn’t know another person, apart from maybe Wash, who could have pulled off landing like that, and he felt a swell of pride in his chest.
“Jayne,” Zoe called out. “Don’t shoot.”
The big man leaned out of the open doorway. “Took your time, didn’t you?” he asked.
“Am I hearing the stirrings of mutiny on my boat?” Mal asked, jogging to the shuttle and climbing in. “Here.” He handed the other man the bag.
Jayne opened it quickly and grinned. “Vera,” he said softly, lifting out the Callahan and checking her over. “And fully loaded.”
“Figured you might be more at home with her in your hands.”
If Jayne could purr, he would have.
“Jayne, get back to that board!” Freya said loudly. “Check the connections.”
“Yes ma’am.” He put the gun in easy reach and leaned back into the workings of the engine.
Mal crossed to the small bridge, seeing his wife’s legs poking out from under the control console. “You okay?” he asked as she pushed herself to a sitting position.
“Mal, what the hell are you doing here?” Freya demanded, pushing the blood out of her eye.
“Rescuing you.” He scanned the control panel. “What happened?”
“Not sure. We almost got hit by some kind of …” She glared at him. “Why aren’t you back on Serenity?”
“I told you. This is the big rescue.”
“So you get yourself in the same sorry mess that we are?” She was angry, not necessarily with him although he was the most convenient person to lash out at. “Really good plan, Mal.”
He knew what she was doing, and was about to make a somewhat conciliatory reply when Zoe shouted from outside at the same time as they heard her rifle firing.
“We got company!”
“Jayne, lend a hand,” Mal ordered, striding to the rear of the shuttle and taking the big man’s place.
The ex-mercenary leaned out of the doorway, Vera held snugly against his shoulder, and took aim on one of the figures running towards them. He fired, and the figure fell, but its place was taken by two more. He let his instincts take over, not wasting a single bullet.
Mal pushed everything he could find back into place. Try it now, he thought, not sure whether she’d be able to hear him above the sound of gunfire and the occasional thud of a grenade as Jayne really got into the swing of things.
Freya slid back into the seat and ran the emergency start-up sequence, words tumbling past her lips but under her breath so that no-one could hear, praying softly.
There was a spark that made Mal jump back, and a groan from outside, then lights flashed across the panel.
“We got life!” she said in triumph.
“Zoe, get back in here!” Mal yelled even as he crossed the shuttle once more to the small bridge.
She didn’t need a second urging. Firing her gun once more and seeing a Reaver topple from the edge of a building, she jumped through the doorway even as the shuttle lifted off, pulled inside by Jayne’s sure hands.
They were in the cargo bay, Bennett knew, and he suspected that some of his men hadn’t been able to keep them from entering the main corridors from the aft. He expected one of the damn things to pop up behind him at any time, but there was little he could do about it, except keep his gun in his hand.
A scream rent the air, and he wondered who it was, or who it had been. It ululated for a long time, then died quite suddenly, leaving the silence even more oppressive.
Then he heard it. Scrabbling, like rats in the ducting, only these were bigger than rats, and a hell of a lot more deadly.
It made up his mind for him, and he turned towards the passenger quarters. If nothing else he could stay with them, make sure they went cleanly, quickly, rather than end up as living meat packs on a Reaver ship.
The door wouldn’t budge, and he slammed his fist into it. “Open up! It’s Captain Bennett!”
“How do I know it’s you?” Dr Petty’s voice barely made it through the metal.
“You want me to come in there and shoot you to prove it?”
That perverse bit of logic had Petty opening the door a little, allowing Bennett to barrel his way inside.
“What the hell are you doing?” he demanded, watching the half dozen technicians Petty had with him frantically pushing buttons on a control panel on the cryobox. “Stop that!” he ordered. “You need to arm yourselves.”
“No, no, you don’t understand,” Petty said, gesturing towards the box. “If we can wake her up, if we can calibrate her quickly enough, she can –“
“What the hell are you talking about?” Bennett pulled the spare pistol from his waist and thrust it into the scientist’s hands. “Here. This is the only way we’re going to get out of this alive.”
“No, you don’t … how can I explain it to you?” Petty had moved enough so that he was between the captain and the open door. “If you let us, I can save …” His eyes widened, glazing over.
The man fell forward, an axe in his back, dead before he hit the deck.
Bennett looked up into the eyes of a Reaver, and brought his gun up, firing twice into its chest. It jerked, but kept coming. Armour, he thought. What self-respecting Reaver wears armour? He lifted the gun to aim at its head, but too late he saw another from the corner of his eye, and he was knocked flying into the corner of the room. As his vision blurred, he thought he saw the Reavers finish off the technicians who had cowered in the corner, and grab the cryobox, but he was unconscious before he could be sure.
The shuttle was sluggish, but Freya managed to keep it on a fairly even keel by simple force of muscle. She knew she was going to hurt in the morning, but that was okay, as long as there was a morning to hurt in.
River, she thought strongly. Where are you?
Coming. Having to keep out of their way.
A light flickered on the board in front of her. We’re almost out of options here. Power’s going down again. The shuttle bucked under her hands, and she had to grab at the control yoke again. River …
The power dipped again, and suddenly Freya was fighting the controls. “Mal!” she yelled.
He ran to her side, helping her pull back to keep the shuttle from a nosedive that would have killed them all. “Where the cao are they?” he muttered, sweat springing onto his brow.
Here, they both heard, and the Firefly dropped down in front of them, the glow of her stern lighting the way. Can you make it?
“Barely,” Freya said, feeling Mal’s hands crushing hers on the yoke, not having the control to merely think the word. Still, she managed to drag the bow up a little. “You’ll have to –“
Freya said a silent prayer and allowed the shuttle to drop. There was a noise like two rhinos fighting, then they were moving sideways, pulled into Serenity’s side.
“Go, albatross!” Mal said, reinforcing it with his thoughts.
Already gone, she countered, and indeed the stars were slewing around, the fires started by the Reavers falling away behind them.
Mal dropped a hand on Freya’s shoulder. “You okay?” he asked.
“Go,” she said, flexing her fingers. “I’ll be right behind you.”
He nodded and turned, running through the open door and up towards the bridge.
Jayne stood up, rubbing his back. “I guess you were right,” he said quietly. “I coulda done without this much action.”
“I don’t think it’s done yet,” Freya replied, following her husband.
As Mal reached the bridge, the sky had already turned black, with hard pinpricks of light. “They following?”
River shook her head. “No. Too much fresh meat down below to worry about us.”
Hank was sitting in the co-pilot’s chair, one hand still pressed to his temple. “That’s gorram awful,” he muttered. “They’re dying, Mal.”
He turned on his pilot. “What, you think we should have stayed? Fought?”
“No, but -”
“This wasn’t a ‘surgical strike’, Hank. This was slaughter. No-one controlled this.”
“But they’ve never hit so close in before.”
“I know.” Mal felt Freya and Zoe come up the steps behind him, and his anger left him as quickly as it had arrived. He leaned onto the back of River’s chair. “But they’re about the right distance from Greenleaf.”
“You think it’s the same ones, sir?” his first mate asked, keeping her voice low out of some measure of respect.
“I’ve got the notion it is.”
Hank sat forward. “But why would -”
Mal sighed heavily. “Thing is, you let the genie out of the bottle, you’re gonna find it hard to put him back.”
“I don’t understand.”
Freya spoke softly. “If Greenleaf was done on purpose, controlled somehow, that brought the Reavers in.” She closed the gap to stand next to Mal, not touching, just letting him know she was there. “But if that control was gone for any reason, there was nothing to stop them attacking here.”
“You mean they …” Hank swallowed hard. “Damn it, they were innocent people.”
Mal nodded sadly. “That they were. And we couldn’t save them. Only just managed to save ourselves.”
“Then why do I feel guilty?”
“I don’t know. But I can tell you … you ain’t the only one.”
The Reaver stood in front of the cryobox, then with surprisingly gentle fingers he unlocked it, pulling the lever to open it. He pushed the lid off, staring down at the young woman held closely by the restraints inside. Her head lolled on her chest, dark hair falling lankly around her face. He lifted her chin to look at her more closely, noting her eyes rolled into the back of her head. She was going to be out for hours yet, which wasn’t a bad thing. Best to keep her that way, too.
He let her go, watching her head drop back down. Reaching up to his own face, he felt for the edge, finding the ridge and getting his fingers under it. He tugged, and the entire mask pulled away from his skin, leaving tiny fragments of synthetiskin and adhesive stuck to his cheeks.
He stretched his jaw out, feeling the tendons popping, then smiled. “Welcome home, Mara,” he said.
to be continued
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:53 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 1:18 PM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 6:28 PM
Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:51 PM
Thursday, September 11, 2008 4:26 PM
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