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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal resolves various issues pertaining to the coming hostilities, and the clone makes his way to Paquin.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 794 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal sat down heavily on his bed, tired down deep to the bone. Having spent the last week on Paquin sorting through the mass of information pertaining to the volunteers who were ready to fight, the supplies available to make a fight possible, and the various details of mounting a modest offensive, he realized that the task he had undertaken was gargantuan from any conceivable angle.
The Operative, of course, had smoothed the way for things operationally. The man was a tactical genius, examining and discarding scenarios with stunning insight. Mal was grateful that this time, the Operative would be on the right side of the conflict. Wondering longingly if perhaps he could persuade some other highly trained government assassins to defect, Mal knew that he genuinely needed some sleep.
As if in answer to that thought, River floated down into the bunk. Mal smiled wearily. “Everything settled?” he asked.
“Jayne and Bear were able to contain the situation,” she said, sliding into bed beside him. “The prisoners were…persuaded to desist all attempts at terrorizing the general population.”
“Persuaded…how?” Mal asked, thinking about the general uproar when the former prisoners made their way into the Paquin settlement for some recreation.
“In the normal way that Jayne persuades everyone,” River replied, a smile in her voice.
“Grenades?” Mal asked. “There were grenades?”
“Just the threat of them, as I understand it,” River answered sleepily. “Bear exercised a certain amount of restrain.”
“Ah,” Mal said, thinking that the two men could contain any number of dangerous criminals given a little space. “So, everyone’s back where they belong?”
“For now,” River confirmed.
Mal sighed, shifting to make himself more comfortable. “Plannin’ session went well enough today,” he said as River curved her body into his warmth. “The Operative’s got a real handle on the proposed supply routes and Monty helped us get in touch with Fred Jernigan again.”
“The man who organized the transport of most of the men off Lilac the last time?” River asked.
“That’s the one,” Mal answered. “Between the Operative and Jernigan, I think we’ve got the supply chain hammered out.”
“If you use Jernigan for supply transport, who will you use for troop transport?” River asked.
“We’ll have to depend on some of the battle cruisers for that, I’m thinkin’,” Mal answered. “Gotten hold of three more since last week. Between Kaylee and Murdocke, they think they can get them up to speed with the modifications they’ll need within a few weeks.”
River sat up in bed, worry lining the fine skin around her eyes. “So, we’ll be here for a few more weeks then?”
“Don’t think so,” Mal replied. “Doesn’t seem safe to stay in one spot for too long, especially not with the possibility that there are folks among us that may be Alliance spies. Once Murdocke and Kaylee can show the other mechanics how to do the job, we can leave.”
River nodded. “Could still wander around while the sessions are going on,” she offered. “See if I pick up on anything.”
Though Mal had been vaguely resistant to the idea before, he nodded. “Think that might be a fine idea at this point. Though I’m fair certain the ones we’ve chosen are all on the up and up, there are still a lot of folks in each of the ships that we ain’t exactly met yet. My guess is that any spy would be there.”
“I’ll focus on it tomorrow,” River said, easing back down under the covers.
“You find anything, you tell me before you do anything,” Mal said. “Dong ma?”
River nodded, already fading into sleep.
Mal watched her for a few minutes, admiring the long, lean line of her dancer’s body. Years now since she had come tumbling out of a cryo-box into his life, and still she was heart-stoppingly beautiful to him. He reached out to touch her, his fingertips brushing the hair lightly from her face. She shifted, turning instinctively into his touch.
Mal sighed, too tired to contemplate anything beyond lying beside her quietly. Tomorrow would be coming well before he’d had enough sleep to face it, he knew. Closing his eyes, he tried to stop the whirring of his mind until sleep could claim him.
The Mal clone landed the BlueSun ship with surprisingly delicacy in a small clearing several kilometers from Paquin’s unusually busy dock area. He’d known well that the increased traffic on Paquin was a good indication that he would find what he sought there even before he’d seen Serenity in one of the berths.
He was fatigued, his eyes scratchy with lack of sleep. Having traveled the distance to Paquin alone, he had felt less than comfortable setting the auto-pilot for longer than a few minutes at the time. He could only assume that BlueSun would be seeking to retrieve both their clone and their ship. And he had no doubt that the Alliance would also be looking for him. Finding it vaguely ironic that he should now count among his own enemies the entities that the original Malcolm Reynolds had acquired as well, he smiled thinly as he secured the ship and settled down to sleep. Tomorrow would be soon enough to begin his search, he thought with anticipation.
Mal, Marcus, and the Operative sat around the small table in various states of exhaustion. Having arranged a method of communication with the small fleet, a transport system to supply the troops, and a basic outline of what would need to be done quickly, they were enjoying a much needed moment of quiet before the morning meeting with the other rebel leaders began.
“About the whole issue of potential clones,” Marcus began even though he dreaded to bring the subject up again. “Any thoughts about how to circumvent any future attempts at impersonation?”
Mal pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. “I’ve given it some thought. Still think that to reveal right now that there may be more of me out there would undermine the whole operation.”
“I agree,” the Operative said. “The others look to you for guidance. Any indication that they might be dealing with a clone of you instead would surely give them pause. And that is something we can’t afford at this point.”
“Still, we need to protect them as best we can,” Mal replied. “So, I conjure we need to set some kind of guideline for any change in orders. I’m thinkin’ that if we tell them that any order they receive from me will be confirmed by someone else they know, that should be sufficient for now.”
“Someone like who?” Marcus asked.
“Why not you?” the Operative asked. “Most of the others have come to know you fairly well since we’ve been here.”
Marcus frowned. “They all know you as well.”
The Operative smiled. “Yes, they do. But, due to my earlier profession, some of them are still, shall we say, reluctant to follow me without question. An unfortunate, but understandable, reaction.”
Mal nodded. “That’s true. But I think Marcus is not the man for the job either. If this thing goes down as it should, Marcus will be quite a distance away from anywhere I’m like to be.” Turning to Marcus, he added, “Ain’t everyone I would trust to do what needs doin’ elsewhere. But I figure if you go one way and I go the other, I’ll know that I’ve got the best man on the job.”
Marcus inclined his head slightly, acknowledging both the praise and the responsibility with which he would be entrusted. “Then who?” he asked.
“Would normally have said Zoe,” Mal replied. “After all, it’s no secret she and I are like to be together ‘til we die. But Zoe was in that Alliance hospital ‘bout the same time BlueSun picked me up to start this whole cloning thing. And she and Jim were alone, both of them in no shape to handle things. Could be that BlueSun had access to her DNA or something. Might be a clone of her floating around somewhere too.”
“Or Jim, or River, for that matter,” the Operative agreed. “Basically anyone who has been in Alliance custody at one time or another.”
Mal thought about the situation for a moment. “There’s Jayne,” he said. “Not that he ain’t been in custody ever, but I conjure not even the Alliance would clone Jayne.”
Marcus laughed. “”Spect you’re right, if for no other reason than they would never conceive of you using him as your second.”
“Thinking outside the box is one of your strong suits, Captain,” the Operative agreed, the barest hint of humor in his voice. “And you think your Mr. Cobb is up to the task?”
“No question,” Mal said unhesitatingly. “Jayne ain’t ever been shy about taking command when the situation calls for it. I’ll talk to him today.”
The three men sat back in their chairs, pleased to have come to a decision that would potentially avert any confusion the clone or clones might try to cause.
“You want I should do what?” Jayne asked, his eyes bright with interest.
“I’ll be needing someone to confirm my orders,” Mal answered, repeating the story again. “Just as a safety measure, to ensure that a gorram clone can’t divert the troops any which way. So, when I give a change of orders, you’ll be confirming it. They see both of us give the order, they’ll know it’s legitimate. Dong ma?”
“So, I’m gonna be….your second?” Jayne asked, a little overwhelmed by the prospect given the stakes involved.
“’Less you think you can’t handle it,” Mal replied. “I could always ask Simon.”
Jayne scowled. “I can handle it better than him, I reckon,” he growled.
“Just so you know, Zoe’s my second, and always will be,” Mal replied. “But you will be the one that the troops will be looking to for confirmation of my orders. I got confidence in you. Proved your worth enough times, to my way of thinking.”
Jayne swallowed thickly, unaccountably touched by the vote of confidence. His mind drifted to the airlock after he’d tried to sell out the Tams on Ariel during that first year they were on the ship, and the feeling of shame that he’d felt when Mal had known what he had done. “Won’t let you down,” he said gruffly.
“Didn’t think you would,” Mal replied brusquely. “Now, you ready to go out there and stand with me for the announcement to the others?”
Jayne straightened his back and squared his shoulders. “Yeah,” he answered simply. “I am.”
Simon watched Kaylee from a small distance away as she tinkered with an unidentifiable engine part from one of the other ships. She looked tired, careworn. As if sensing the weight of his gaze, she looked up. Her face broke into that familiar smile that lit up the ‘verse in a way Simon could never quite get enough of. He moved forward, closing the distance between them.
“Thought you might enjoy taking a little break,” he said, kissing her smudged forehead.
“Oh, I’d love to, hon, but there’s so much to do,” she said wistfully. “Once I can get this thing workin’ right, I still got four ships to go. It’s fair amazin’ to me how some of these ships even got here without fallin’ right out of the sky.”
“Still, you need to eat,” Simon said, producing a small basket from behind his back with a flourish. “It’s my job to keep everyone as healthy as possible. And eating is my prescription for you.”
Kaylee allowed him to steer her to a bench close by and sit her down. Pushing an errant strand of hair from her face, she took the proffered sandwich from Simon’s hand and smiled gratefully. “So, how’s everything going with the medical stuff?” she asked. “Finding anybody among the other crews to help out?”
“Other than Elizabeth, the choices are few,” Simon admitted. “There are several who have at least a rudimentary knowledge of things, but there is much they will need to learn if they have to serve as field medics any time soon.”
“I’m sure you can teach them just fine,” Kaylee said encouragingly, though it was obvious to Simon that her thoughts were elsewhere.
He reached for her hand and looked into her beautiful green eyes. “What’s the matter, ai ren?” he asked gently.
Kaylee sighed. “Just missin’ the kids, I reckon. Thinkin’ about how Daniel must be havin’ a ball with my daddy, and yours. He’ll be another year older in a few weeks, you know.”
“I know,” Simon said quietly.
“And we won’t even be there with him,” Kaylee added, her voice breaking slightly.
“Years from now, he won’t even remember that we weren’t there,” Simon said soothingly.
“What if we don’t ever see him again?” Kaylee whispered.
“We’re going to see him, Kaylee,” Simon said firmly, refusing to imagine the pain of losing his son. “Just as soon as this thing is done, we’re going to see him.”
Kaylee nodded, though it was plain that the reassurance did little to ease the ache she felt. They ate in silence for a few minutes, each lost in thoughts of their son. Kaylee finished her sandwich and stood, dusting the crumbs from her coverall. “Guess I best get back to it,” she said, placing a quick kiss on her husband’s cheek. “Sooner these ships are ready to fly, sooner we can get on with…things.”
Simon nodded, standing as well. He glanced back toward the small building where the rebel leaders were meeting with Mal. Squinting into the sunlight, he saw River walking slowly among the ships scattered about. As he watched, she paused, frozen in place abruptly.
He walked rapidly to her, aware that something was wrong. “River?” he asked, touching her shoulder lightly.
She jumped, so focused on her inner thoughts that she had been unaware of his approach.
“River, what’s wrong?” he asked, alarmed.
Drawing a deep breath, she shuddered. “He’s here,” she whispered.
“Who?” Simon asked urgently, looking around nervously to see who it could be that had shaken her so.
“The other one,” she answered, her focus narrowing sharply.
To be continued
Author’s Note: I will be unable to post another part of the story until Monday, as computer access will be unavailable to me. But the next part should be up Monday morning. Sorry for the brief posting delay.
Friday, October 03, 2008 1:28 AM
Friday, October 03, 2008 1:40 AM
Friday, October 03, 2008 6:07 AM
Friday, October 03, 2008 10:36 AM
Friday, October 03, 2008 12:47 PM
Sunday, October 05, 2008 9:50 PM
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