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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
River comes face to face with the Mal clone, and violence ensues
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 844 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“D’ya’ believe ‘im?” Jayne asked, looking at the trembling body of Davis’ cook with disgust.
“Yeah, I do,” Mal said grimly. “If there’s another one about, I don’t think he knows about it.”
Jayne nodded. “Me neither,” he said. “Want I should end him?”
Mal looked at Davis, who shook his head slightly. “Best we leave it to his Captain,” Mal replied, noting the look of disappointment on Jayne’s face. “We got more important things to take care of.”
Jayne nodded, looking longingly at the terrified man tied to the chair. “Reckon we have at that,” he said, though he could not resist leaning in to tower over the cook one more time. “Shame too.”
The cook, wide-eyed with panic, leaned as far back as possible, upending the chair in the process.
“Jayne,” Mal said sternly. “Let’s go.”
Grudgingly, Jayne complied, stepping over the upturned chair as he followed Mal out the door.
Once outside, Mal turned to him and scowled. “You think that last was strictly necessary?”
“No, but it was fun,” Jayne said, his eyes twinkling with amusement.
Mal shook his head, but he could not suppress his own smile as they walked away from the Wayfarer.
River walked among the ships several times over the next two days, her mind sharply focused on the thoughts of those milling around her. But, to Mal’s relief, she found no other indication of a spy in their midst.
More troubling, however, was the fact that she could not find a trace of the clone either. Somewhere beyond the realm of her conscious mind, she knew with absolute certainty that he was on Paquin, was somewhere waiting, biding his time to act. And she knew, through the brief glimpse of his mind that she’d had, that he was altogether more dangerous to her family on a personal level than the other clone had been.
But when Mal pressed her for details, she did not share all she’d seen. How to explain to him that the clone was a reflection of the darker side of Mal’s own personality, the side that existed in a want-take-have mode, she wondered. How to explain that the other Mal considered Mal’s life to be rightfully his own. She knew without question that he intended to kill Mal, to take what was his by violent force if necessary, driven by a determination that Mal himself had in spades but untempered by Mal’s sense of honor.
She paused, listening with her ears and her mind to everything around her. Slowly, she moved forward with fluid grace, catching the barest hint of the consciousness she sought. He was there, she realized, just beyond the periphery of the makeshift camp, watching her progress as she moved along the ships. A cold chill crept slowly up her spine as she walked toward him, closing the distance between them to mere feet.
Still, he remained motionless, though his thoughts became a louder and louder assault on her senses. She concentrated on walking normally and holding her shoulders and arms loosely, as if she could sense nothing of his presence. Finally, she stood inches from him, separated only by the low branches of a tree on the edge of the clearing.
“I know you’re here,” she said softly. “I can hear you.”
His laugh was dry and lacked all the humor of Mal’s. “As I knew you would come,” he replied. “Do you intend to kill me?”
River breathed deeply and tilted her head to the side as if contemplating her answer. “Do you intend to give me reason to?” she asked.
The clone abruptly stepped out into her direct line of vision. Crossing his arms over his chest, he leaned against the trunk of the tree. “That depends on you, bao bei,” he said softly.
River’s skin crawled at the endearment on his lips, but she made no outward sign of her revulsion. She stared at him, a part of her reluctantly fascinated by the subtle differences in her husband and this man. Thinking fleetingly that she was looking at what Mal might have been given different circumstances, she blinked slowly. “Why have you come here?”
“Where else would I be?” he asked, amusement in his tone. “You’re here.”
River swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. “I do not belong to you,” she said, her voice strained.
Something cruel and deadly flickered in those blue eyes with which she was so familiar. But it disappeared as quickly as it had come. “That a fact?” he drawled.
“It is,” she replied, feeling the tension coil in her arms and legs, ready to strike out.
“You see, darlin’,” he said, uncrossing his arms and moving toward her. “I don’t think that’s the way of it at all. I think that you do belong to me.” He reached her, his body so close that she could feel the heat of it through her thin dress. “And I belong to you. Seems I recall sayin’ as much in the Fryes’ front room some years ago.”
She looked up into his eyes, so achingly like Mal’s that her breath caught in her throat. “Wasn’t you,” she whispered. “You weren’t made yet.”
His eyes hardened almost imperceptibly. “Tell me, River, if something should happen to the man you think is your husband, and there was no way he could ever come back to you, would it really matter to you that I am a copy? A difference that makes no difference is no difference, to my way of thinking.”
“Nothing’s going to happen to my husband,” she said, the words like steel in the air between them.
He shrugged. “Maybehaps not, but you miss my point. Do I have less right to the life of Malcolm Reynolds than the original?” He grasped her upper arms, pulling her closer to him. “Answer me.”
“You have no right at all to his life or any other,” she said, twisting her arms away from his grip. “You are a creation, unsanctioned by the real Mal. You have no rights at all.”
“Well now, there’s the question, isn’t it?” he asked, his tone like a gentle caress against her chilled skin. “Is that really true? I had no part in my own creation, any more than the man you call the ‘real Malcolm Reynolds’ had a part in his own birth. And yet, we both breathe and move and exist. We both have memories of a life stretching out behind us and hopes for a future stretching out in front of us. Who’s to say which one of us should be allowed to live out that life? You? Some powerful being you call God? Or perhaps the patent-holders of the process, BlueSun? Tell me, River, would you happily see me die?”
“Not happily,” she replied. “Never happily. But there can be room for only one. It is the natural design of things, the shape of the ‘verse. There are things that are, and have to be, immutable.”
“What if I promised to leave you here, to never return for you, to go somewhere else and live out my life in obscurity?” he asked, genuinely curious to hear her answer.
River shook her head, never letting her eyes waver from his. “You wouldn’t,” she said. “Can see it in your mind. You will never leave us alone, as long as you draw breath.”
“And why should I?” he asked harshly, his expression turning ugly. “By what right would you ask it?”
He reached for her again, but she sidestepped his grasping hands and twirled to get behind him. “Right or not, that is the way it is,” she hissed as she wrapped her arm around his neck in a tight hold.
He twisted, having implanted memories of seeing her fight many times in the past. Her grip loosened and with his superior weight and height, he slipped out from her hold, whirling to face her. “Don’t want this to have to be done the hard way, bao bei,” he said, his eyes glittering like hard, blue diamonds. “But I will have what is mine, one way or another. Make no mistake.”
“I don’t intend to,” River replied, lunging forward, her legs connecting with his chest with momentum enough to knock him off his feet. Steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the twinge of horror she felt at intentionally injuring a man who was at least partly Mal, she jumped atop his chest, bearing down on his windpipe with one slim knee.
Filled with all the fight of Mal himself, the clone reacted, throwing her off his chest with a mighty upward heave of his body. She rolled, reaching simultaneously for the knife she wore on her thigh.
The clone, breathing heavily through his bruised throat, rasped a sharp laugh. “Looking for this?” he asked, holding up the knife before throwing it out of their range.
River cursed silently, knowing now that she would have to use her bare hands. Circling him warily, she said, “No matter. Won’t need it.”
“Good lord woman,” he exclaimed, still somewhat breathless but obviously undeterred. “You are the single most beautiful creature that has ever graced the ‘verse.” He lunged forward, catching her by the ankles just as she moved away.
She kicked fiercely, hearing with satisfaction the snap of his nose as her foot connected solidly with his face. He groaned, but his grip did not loosen and they struggled, rolling end over end on the ground as they both fought for supremacy. Engrossed in their struggle, they were unaware of a growing audience until they were stopped by the sound of a shot fired too close by to ignore. They both turned toward the sound in time to see a thin man with blue gloves and a small cylinder clutched in his hands fall face forward to the ground, the back of his head missing entirely.
Stunned by the sight, the clone released his grip for a moment, and River rolled off of him, panting for breath. No sooner had she cleared the spot than a second shot rang out, catching the clone in the forehead. Jayne stepped out from behind the tree.
“Thought you wouldn’t ever give me a clear shot,” he grumbled, picking up the stunned River and setting her on her feet. “Gorram BlueSun guy almost took us all out with that eerie-ass tube thingy.”
River, bending over and panting to catch her breath, began to laugh. Jayne frowned, wondering if the woman was on the verge of going all moonbrained again. Filling her lungs with blessed air, River said, “Not going moonbrained. Just…..” Her words trailed off as she motioned toward the BlueSum employee and the clone with a fluttering gesture.
Jayne nodded. “Yeah, I know,” he said gruffly. “Best we get on back to the others. Might need Simon to take a look at you or somethin’.”
He turned back toward the encampment, not bothering to see if she followed. “Least we got a couple of purty little ships outta’ it,” he said as casually as if he had not just killed a clone of his Captain. “BlueSun knows how to travel in style.”
River nodded, suppressing the faintly hysterical laugh that bubbled up in her sore throat as she followed the mercenary’s path.
“So, do you suppose there are others?” Marcus asked, taking a sip of the strong coffee that Mal had offered.
“Could be,” Mal replied. “No real way to know, ‘til they show up.” He drank from his own mug.
“And River’s all right?”
“Seems to be,” Mal answered. “Though I think it shook her up a bit to be tryin’ to kill a man looked just like me.”
Marcus smiled to lessen the tension in the older man. “Well, if I was you, I’d take that as a real good sign I was doing something right,” he said.
Mal smiled wryly. “Guess so, when you think about it.” He took another sip of coffee, and poured in a generous dash of whiskey, offering Marcus the same. “Speaking of doing something right, I assume that you and the lady doctor are getting along mighty well, from the looks of things.”
Marcus blushed. “She’s…quite a woman,” he said finally. “And she seems to have taken a liking to me as well.”
Mal grinned. “That’s one way of putting it, I conjure. I’m glad for you, Marcus.”
Marcus nodded, acknowledging the sentiment. “So, you got any ideas on how I can keep her alive whilst we fight this war?” he asked.
Mal sighed. “If I did, I would surely share them. Ain’t rightly sure any of us will survive it all. But it’s time to get on with it, one way or another. The Operative is leaving tomorrow, headed toward Ariel. I figure if we leave in the next couple of days, we’ll both be in place by the time he gets to his target.”
Marcus nodded. “The Hit or Miss is ready. Murdocke’s got all his do-dads to gum up the works on the power grids, Pierre’s on the job as usual, and Bear is restless to get to it.”
Mal smiled. “Good to know,” he said. “In that case, best we finish this bottle and say our good-byes. Then see each other on the other side of this whole thing.”
Marcus nodded. “Sounds doable,” he said optimistically, reaching for another shot of whiskey for his empty cup.
To be continued
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 1:47 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 2:29 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 2:34 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 6:00 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 8:16 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 11:37 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2008 1:49 PM
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