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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The crew try to talk Mal out of going to Whitefall, and Mara meets her rescuer. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1717 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The trip to Whitefall was going to take the best part of nine days but it didn’t even take nine hours for almost everyone on the crew to try and talk Mal out of dealing again with Patience.
“Hasn’t she shot you? More’n once?” Hank asked as he negotiated a small asteroid field.
Mal crossed his arms, standing in his usual position behind the pilot‘s seat. “Only a bit, and the last time not at all.”
“Could be you’re due.”
“Just fly my damn boat.”
Simon was more direct. “I suggest you ask her to make it a flesh wound,” he said, counting swabs. “If it’s anything more I don’t really have the supplies.”
“She’s not going to shoot me. Didn’t last time.”
“Only because she was too busy laughing at you for being a reluctant actor,” the doctor pointed out, referring to the time they‘d hosted the Hawkins Troupe.
“Nor the time before. In fact, I might even go so far as to say the old harridan’s mellowing.”
Simon just shook his head and shooed Mal out of the infirmary.
“She isn’t to be trusted, sir,” was Zoe’s opinion, given as she poured them each a coffee in the galley.
“I know it. And it means we can trust her to try and gyp us in some way,” her captain replied.
“It won’t stop her shooting you.”
He grinned. “Zoe, that’s what I keep you around for.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Stopping her shooting you, or doing it myself, sir?”
His gunhand and mechanic tried together in the cargo bay.
“It ain't like we need the work that much,” Jayne commented. “’N’ River ‘n’ me got some cash put by in case of emergencies if‘n you need it.”
Mal half-smiled. “That’s very magnanimous of you. Now go ask River what it means, and you keep your money.”
“You sure it ain't a trap, Cap?” Kaylee asked, just a little nervously. “Knowing how she likes to spring ‘em on you.”
“Nope. But forewarned is forearmed.”
“I hate those sayings.”
“Not too keen on ‘em myself, xiao mei-mei, but at least this one’s right. I don’t intend on anyone getting shot this time.”
“Well, you and plans ain’t exactly ever meshed that well, have they?” Jayne growled, stomping off to find his River.
In fact, only the young psychic and Freya had been quiet on the subject, and in a way that worried Mal more. River had looked at him, a wave of deep understanding in her eyes that made him squirm mentally like a fish on a hook, while Freya had studiously ignored any opportunity to discuss the matter.
So after a somewhat strained dinner, as everyone headed off to their bunks comparatively early, he followed his wife down the ladder, determined - for once - to get her opinion.
“You okay?” he asked, watching her begin to strip for bed.
“Shiny.” She smiled at him and tossed her discarded shirt onto the chair.
“Only you ain't said a word about the job.”
“No, I suppose I haven’t.” She sat on the bed and pulled off her boots. “Not really much point, is there?”
Mal hooked his arm around the ladder. “I got my reasons, Frey.”
His eyes narrowed. “You know, you’re being altogether far too reasonable over this.”
“Maybe I've learned restraint.”
“Nope. That ain't it.”
Her lips twitched. “I could take offence at that.” Standing up she undid her pants, sliding them down her legs and before kicking them to join her shirt. “You think Patience knows something,” she added astutely, putting her hands on her hips and gazing at him.
Usually the sight of her in her underwear was enough to derail his mind onto other things, but this time he kept on track. “You peeking again?”
“No.” She smiled. “But I know you. And even if the job came with the weight of that boo hway-hun duh puo-foo in gold there’s no way you’d take it right now otherwise.”
He raised an eyebrow. “And you figured that out all by your lonesome? Not even one little peek?”
“Not even one.”
“Am I that transparent?” he asked, unhooking his arm and crossing the small to room stand close to her, his hands on her hips.
“No. The rest of the crew just think you’re fong luh.”
“Succinctly put.” He gently squeezed the flesh at her waist. “So why do you think I’m doing this?”
“Because you don’t believe in coincidences.”
He looked deep into her dark eyes. “That a fact.”
“It is.” She laughed gently. “You know, you really should tell them.”
Finally smiling, Mal lifted both hands and slipped her bra straps from her shoulders. “I will. Eventually. But you’re right. This job seems … too convenient.” He watched her turn away and take her bra off, her panties joining the pile of clothing on the chair, before sliding into bed.
“Mmn.” He knew what she was referring to. The man who’d turned from being so staunchly Alliance that he ordered the scorching of Shadow, of Mal’s home, to one of what the rumours called New Browncoats. Kendrick had set up a job specifically to get Mal’s attention, to try and get him involved, and Becca Morgan died because of it.
“You really think they’d be so stupid as to try the same thing twice?” Freya pummelled the pillow behind her head into a more comfortable shape.
“You’ll burst that thing and the room’ll be full of feathers,” he said, taking it from her and plumping it up. He replaced it tenderly. “But to answer your query, some folks seem to have a distinct lack of imagination in these matters.”
“So we’re going to see what happens?”
He sat down next to her, folding her hand in his. “Frey, honey … this whole thing with Mara Tam might be a giant smokescreen. Now, I ain't saying that River’s wrong, nor you, but even if she is the girl they’re using to control the Reavers, ‘til we know where to start looking for her … well, it’s a big ‘verse out there.”
“But she’s close. Or at least, not the other side of the galaxy.”
“You sure on that?”
“Then we’ll take that as read, for the moment. But there’s still a lot of planets and moons to cover, and there’s no evidence she ain’t on board a ship, moving around.”
“So we take this occasion to see who else is pulling the strings?”
He nodded slowly. “The way I see things, there’s at least two lots of puppet masters out there. Alliance, New Browncoats … they’re all mixed up in this somehow, and I aim to figure it out. ‘Sides, I don’t like being led around like I've got a ring through my nose. It makes me all kinds of nervous.”
Frey reached up and touched his face, the stubble just beginning to push through his skin. “Just so long as she doesn’t shoot you this time,” she said softly.
“Everyone’s so concerned about my skin.” He shook his head in mock disbelief. “You’d think they cared.”
“Then I’ll try not to let that happen.”
“Good. Now, are you coming to bed or not?”
He grinned and leaned forwards. “I thought you’d never ask.”
She could still hear the voices, just on the edge of her reason. There hadn’t been a time in her life when they weren’t there, but it was so much worse after they took her. After what they did to her. It had got to where time wasn’t split into day and night anymore … only pain and no pain.
Still, there was none at the moment. Just a pleasant numbness that was receding as she became more aware of herself. She was lying down, that much she was sure of. And not the hard metal of the examining tables, nor even the chair they strapped her to for much of the time. This felt … soft. Warm. But something was above her, holding her down nevertheless.
A voice. Not like the others, not in her head, but in her ears.
“Mara, I know you’re awake. Try and open your eyes.”
She didn’t need to, not to read him if she wanted, but out of a tiny flash of courtesy she did so, finding it surprisingly hard. The face that swam into view seemed to float in and out of focus, but suddenly she knew who he was.
“Dr Quintana.” Her voice sounded old, unused. Perhaps it was because she spent so long screaming instead of talking.
Emil Quintana smiled. “I knew you’d remember me.”
She studied him, noting the slight stoop he’d acquired from hours of bending over readouts, and curly grey hair that had receded quite a bit since the last time she’d seen him.
His eyes were the same, though – strangely colourless, as if he’d been left out in the sun too long as a child, and they’d faded.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I arranged for your rescue, Mara. To get you out of the hands of the Alliance.” When she didn’t respond, he continued, “I saved you, Mara.”
She realised some response was necessary. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He seemed inordinately pleased for some reason. “How are you feeling?”
“That’s the drugs you were given. But I'm not going to drug you, Mara,” Quintana went on. “I never wanted to, even before. And I know how fond Petty was of his medications. But this time it’s going to be different.”
He smiled wider, looking like a benevolent uncle. “When you’re feeling stronger, we can talk about what’s going to happen. About my plans. And I'm sure you’ll come around to see that what I envisage is the right thing to do. Now, you rest.“ He lightly touched the webbing across her chest. “By the way, the restraints are for your own protection, but I’m sure we can remove them soon. As soon as I know you won’t try and harm yourself.”
“Good. Good.” He patted her shoulder. “Now, you try and get some rest, and we’ll talk in the morning. I expect you’ll be hungry by then.”
For a moment she thought he was going to lean down and put a kiss on her cheek, but instead he hurried out, the door to the small room sliding shut behind him with barely a hiss. She didn’t have to listen to know it was locked as well.
She briefly considered trying to get free, but the lassitude in her body made the decision for her. Time enough to examine her surroundings. Instead she tried to reach out with her mind, to find the others, those who’d been her playmates for some time, but there was nothing, just a blank wall of fog, with the ever-present voices a fingertip out of reach.
It didn’t worry her unduly - Dr Petty had often tried various drug combinations to keep her sedated but awake, controlling her every conscious minute and beyond. Injections to make her sleep, injections to wake her up … even the food had added bonuses in the way of hormone suppressants, and so many of them had made her deaf and blind, and if she refused to eat she was force-fed.
But now, without them, the fog would soon dissipate, and she would be free of any restrictions.
Mara Tam closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift back into sleep. There was time. Plenty of it now. Soon she’d be able to call her friends to the gathering, and feel them feed. And soon she’d be able to find her other half, the other self, the mirror she saw in her dreams sometimes. Soon she’d be complete again.
“Another,” Ethan demanded, holding out his hand.
Ben grinned and passed over a paper plane. His daddy had taught him how to make them, as soon as his fingers were enough under his own control, and he was good at it, much better than the other children, somehow managing to fold them with crisp, sharp edges, and even sides.
“Mine’s still gone furthest,” Bethie said, hearing the four dogs snuffling around the fallen apples in the orchard. “I’m winning.”
“Might be letting you win,” Ethan pointed out.
She glared at him. “Are you?”
He considered lying, then decided, as his mother always told him, that the truth was the best. “No.”
Bethie couldn’t help the smug look on her face. “See?”
He sighed inwardly, briefly wondering whether things would get better as they got older. Probably not. She’d still lord it over him, even when they were really ancient, like Uncle Jayne. He smoothed out the wings of the plane, closed one eye, and boosted it through the air with all of his might.
It flew marvellously straight, and he could see, from the corner of his eye, that Bethie was getting agitated. Then a breeze caught the paper dart, and it twisted off course. Just as it was about to land Fiddler appeared, leaped at it then ran away with it in his mouth, his tail wagging furiously. Giselle and her two puppies followed, barking at him.
“That one doesn’t count,” Ethan said, turning to Bethie.
“Yes it does.”
“No it doesn’t. It didn’t land.”
“You threw it. It counts.”
“Fiddler ate it.”
“So it’s my fault?”
“Didn’t say that.”
“Wasn't going to win anyway.”
“Might. If there’d been no wind.”
She crossed her arms. “I say it wouldn’t. And I’m the oldest.”
Ethan sighed again. “Fine,” he said, but with more than a little ill grace. “You win.”
“I win,” Ben pointed out, sounding much older than his tender years. “I made them.”
She pouted at him, then grinned. “Want to play again?”
“Nah,” Ethan said, sitting down next to Ben, who was folding the paper a different way and coming up with some interesting shapes. “Rather go skipping stones by the lake.” He saw Ben smile, as they all knew Bethie just didn’t have the knack of it.
“You know we’re not allowed to go there without an adult,” she said, her lips now drawn into a tight line.
“Could do. No-one’d know.”
She was tempted, sorely so. No matter that she couldn’t skip a stone even once, not like her Uncle Mal, who could make it bounce at least half a dozen times. There were still other things to interest her around the lake, like the little boathouse, as yet unoccupied even though Auntie Inara kept promising to buy a boat, and the cave she’d found last time on the water’s edge.
Well, maybe not a cave. More like a shallow indentation, but she could make-believe that it was a cave full of pirate treasure. Maybe even take some of her own treasures and bury them there.
Ethan could see her mind working, and held out high hopes that maybe he’d managed to persuade her. “Well?” he asked eventually.
“Couldn’t take Jesse,” Bethie muttered to herself. “Too small. Same for Caleb.”
“They’re in the house, with Auntie ‘Nara,” Ben pointed out.
“Hope, too,” Ethan added. “Tea party or something.” He didn’t know quite how much he looked like his father when he said that, with the same amount of disdain for such girlie pastimes.
“Maybe we could …” Her voice trailed off, and her eyes lifted towards the blue sky.
Ethan felt something trickle down his back, like melted snow. “Bethie? What is it?”
Her face had gone pale. “Get the puppies,” she whispered.
“Just do it!” she hissed, grabbing Ben’s hand and pulling him to his feet.
Ethan stared at her, then called for the dogs.
“Bethie?” Ben asked, suddenly scared.
“Need to hide,” she said quietly. “’Lliance.”
to be continued
Saturday, September 20, 2008 2:11 AM
Saturday, September 20, 2008 3:24 AM
Saturday, September 20, 2008 7:39 AM
Saturday, September 20, 2008 10:00 AM
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