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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Looks like the gunplay is over, but I wouldn't count on it! And Goff gets closer to the truth about the New Browncoats. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1714 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Somebody like to enlighten me as to the nature of what’s going on?” Mal asked, leaning in the open hatchway. He could see a man crumpled in the corner, unlikely to be getting up any time soon, and a second man was on the deck, a woman at his side, both of them staring at Jayne and River.
Alex Rostov was standing, his hand pressed to his jaw. “Hello, Mal,” he said, just as the inner doorway burst open, Dillon and Breed hurtling through, guns in their hands.
Mal raised an eyebrow. “If’n you’re planning to shoot me, I’d seriously reconsider.”
“Not at this juncture, no,” Dillon said, lowering his weapon.
“I’m kinda pleased to hear it.” Mal’s tone was dry, bordering on the desiccated. “And I’m still waiting on some kind of explanation.”
River glanced at him. “Captain, I think I can assist.” She turned back to the two strangers. “These are Gabriel and Regan Tam. My … parents.”
He straightened, stepping inside. “Your folks?”
She nodded gravely.
Gabriel Tam managed, with his wife’s assistance, to stand up, for the moment ignoring the captain of Serenity. “Mr Cobb?”
“Yeah?” The big man was uneasy.
“Uh … you’re welcome?” Jayne glanced at River, seeing her beaming at him.
“I think perhaps we need to talk, but at a more convenient time,” Gabriel went on. “Since I understand you’re my … my son-in-law.”
Jayne’s unease came back full force. “I guess so.”
Gabriel turned to Mal, trying not to smile at the big man’s obvious discomfort. “And you must be Captain Reynolds.”
“I suppose I must. But I’m all kinds of curious to know what you and the rest of these reprobates are doing here.”
“Well …” Gabriel looked at Dillon and Alex, then back at Mal. “There’s something you need to know.”
“I’m sure there is, which is why I’m asking.”
“Perhaps if we could remove ourselves to somewhere a little more comfortable? Since I’m afraid the story is going to take a little time.”
“The only place you’re going is to the infirmary,” Regan said firmly, dabbing at the cut on her husband’s face with a lace-trimmed handkerchief.
Mal nodded over his shoulder. “Well, if’n you come on -”
River touched his arm. “No,” she said quietly. “Not yet.”
Mal looked at her. “You mean he don’t know.”
“Simon?” Regan asked, biting her lip.
“Not yet,” River repeated firmly. “But I will stay.”
“You sure?” Mal lowered his head, studying her under his eyebrows. “’Cause if –“
“I can deal with this, Mal,” Alex put in. “We have a stocked medical bay ourselves, and I’m sure I’m capable of putting a weave on it.”
“Thanks, Alex. And after that we can -” His eyes glazed as he heard Freya’s voice in his mind. Mal.
He looked up. Frey?
Better get back out here.
Pushing roughly by Jayne he ran outside. “Jien tah dah guay.”
“You all stay back now,” Macauliffe ordered. He’d appeared from nowhere, his left hand holding Patience tightly by the arm in front of him, his other pointing a gun at her temple. Somehow, probably without even planning it, he’d managed to put himself in a position where even Freya would find it hard to hit him from her angle of advantage.
“You’re outnumbered,” Mal said, feeling Zoe at his back, her Mare’s Leg cocked and ready, River behind her, Jayne similarly placed. “So at a pinch I’d say you ain’t going anywhere.”
“Sure I am. And you’d better drop those guns,” Macauliffe ordered. “I intend to ride out of here, and Patience is coming with me, as insurance you won’t do anything stupid.”
“And if you shoot her, there’s nothing to stop us killing you,” Mal pointed out.
“She’ll still be dead.”
He tried not to smile. “And that concerns me … how?” He felt his lips twitch at the look Patience was giving him.
“I'm leaving, and you’re not going to stop me,” Macauliffe repeated.
“Then at least let me ask one question. What the hell did you come back here for anyway?”
“Mr Creel told me to meet him here.” The ex-foreman didn’t look happy.
“Son, your new boss is lying in there with a cracked skull. He may or may not make it, but you sure as hell won’t if you try to -”
Macauliffe fired the gun in his hand, the bullet skimming past Patience’s head and ruffling her hair. She winced in pain at the sound. “I ain’t playing!”
“Okay. We’re shiny. You just keep your cool, Jed.” Mal laid his pistol down on the ground. “No-one needs to get hurt, so why don’t we find someplace a little less crowded and talk about this.”
“Nothing to talk about. I want two horses and I want them here now, then we’re going for a little exercise, me and Patience.”
“You always were too big for your britches,” the woman in question said, glaring over her shoulder at him.
“Guess it takes one to know one,” he spat in return, squeezing her arm even tighter until he could feel the bones grating.
Patience swallowed a whimper and looked at Mal, letting one eyelid close briefly. Serenity’s captain nodded almost imperceptibly.
For an old woman, she could move surprisingly fast. Seeing the slight acknowledgement, she let her entire bodyweight drop, collapsing to the dust, dragging Macauliffe‘s arm down. His finger tightened on the trigger, and he fired without thinking.
Mal felt something burn his arm, but the shock and hurt was kept at bay by adrenaline as he ignored the wound and snatched up his trusty firearm, aiming and firing at Macauliffe in one smooth movement.
Macauliffe’s eyes widened a little, then more as four bullets from different guns tore into his body, shredding his heart. He was dead before he even began to fall.
“Gorramit,” Mal muttered, his hand clasped over the bullet hole, feeling blood making his fingers slick. “The hwoon dahn shot me!”
Patience got to her feet. “At least it wasn’t me this time,” she said, brushing the dust off her best dress. “Least, not personally.”
Goff peered in through the thick glass, but could see nothing beyond a greenish glow. He’d come across the door after walking carefully for nearly an hour, and was on the verge of turning back, almost convinced there was nothing down here but roughly hewn corridors. The only thing that kept him going was the lack of dust, and the smooth flow of fresh air across his face. Someone wanted to keep this area clean, and that made him wonder even more.
The door itself was heavy, sealed tight, a number pad next to it. Goff examined the lock - a standard mechanism, but with a huge number of possible permutations. Still, Quintana was nothing if not predictable, and after a moment’s pause Goff tapped in a ten digit number. The light turned from red to green, and the door slid open.
Goff smiled. Just like Quintana to choose the date of the final Independent surrender to the Alliance. As he said. Predictable. He stepped into the cold room and let the door close behind him.
In a small room two levels above, Victor Ramsey exhaled heavily. “He’s disappeared,” he said to Quintana. Head of security at the facility, and the man who had played lead Reaver, he had also just been informed that Goff wasn’t on board his ship.
“That’s … unfortunate.” Quintana tapped the pen he had in his hand on his teeth. He’d been making notes on Mara Tam’s progress when Ramsey had entered. “And there’s no indication where he might have gone?”
“No. We haven’t been able to pick him up on any of the surveillance feeds.”
“It seems our Member Goff has some talents he doesn’t like advertised,” Quintana said. “Curiouser and curiouser.”
“Down the rabbit hole.”
Both men turned to look at Mara, sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by a child’s tea set and a number of toys.
“What was that, my dear?” Quintana asked gently.
“Down the rabbit hole,” the young woman replied. “Off with his head.”
The doctor crossed to her, going down carefully onto his heels beside her. “I don’t understand.”
She lifted her head and gazed at him, her dark eyes unreadable pools. “He has found them,” she said slowly, as if speaking to someone not all there. “He will betray us.”
“Is she saying what I think she’s saying?” Ramsey’s tone was sharp.
“I think so.” Quintana stood up and sighed. “I knew I was right not to let him into the entire plan.”
Ramsey drew his gun. “Then I’ll -”
Quintana held up a hand. “No. Let me. I’ll talk to him. And if I can’t persuade him, then I’ll correct this little oversight of mine.”
Mara didn’t watch the two men leave the room, at least not with her eyes. She was staring at the tea party she’d set out before her, and at the exact placement of every cup and saucer. She smiled. So easy to show the correct planetary alignment of this small sector of space. And soon they’d be coming for her, and it would be time to play.
Patience stood in the infirmary, her grey hair billowed around her head like a slightly grubby cloud, and stared at Mal. Freya, hurrying down from the top of the ship to make sure he was okay, had relaxed visibly, and apart from sending him a glare that promised they’d be having one of their little talks later, she’d gone to help with the clear up.
“You know, I hate owing you anything,” the old woman said quietly.
“Patience, I feel the same.” He grimaced as Simon cleaned the gunshot wound with antiseptic. “Gorramit, that hurts.”
“Good. And you should just be grateful it isn’t worse.”
“What, and have everyone on this boat saying I told you so?”
“They’re going to anyway.”
“So’re you gonna stand there making insulting remarks about me, or are you going to get that bullet out?”
“Well, you’ve not broken the bone, but I do need to operate. Do you want a local or general anaesthetic?” Simon countered.
“Just shoot me up with something that won’t knock me out. There’s far too many folks around here that I need to stay awake to deal with.” He deliberately didn’t look at their companion.
“As you wish.” Simon injected his arm. “Give it a minute.” He glanced up at Patience. “And I’d rather you left while I did this.”
“It’s okay, doc,” Mal interrupted quickly. “Got things I want to ask and I’d kinda like to ask ‘em while Patience is still in a grateful mood.”
“Fine. So if you get an infection you can deal with it yourself.” He poked Mal’s arm. “Is it dead yet?”
There was a sharp intake of breath. “No.”
For a long moment Mal had the impression that Simon wasn't using his best bedside manner, and was glad he hadn’t mentioned anything about the new arrivals. He didn’t want the young man digging around inside his flesh with the amount of anger he would likely be carrying as soon as he heard. He looked up at Patience. “So this Creel … have to say, I didn’t think I’d ever see anyone wanting to take you on, face to face.”
“Take me on?”
Mal cursed his active imagination and told himself to think first before he spoke. He went on, “In a purely non-physical sense, a’course.”
“You saying I'm not pretty?” Patience asked, her eyes narrowing.
“I'm not saying a thing.”
“Hmmn.” She sighed. “Creel thought he’d make a better mayor than me,” she said, disgust colouring her words. “Only he wasn’t gonna wait for no election.”
“You have elections?”
She gave him a look that said he was being stupid, and he smiled back at her.
“Mal, lie down,” Simon ordered, having poked the area of the wound again and this time not getting any reaction.
“I’d rather –“
“Lie down. Or I’ll get Freya back in here.”
“Now, that’s not nice.”
“Then lie down.”
Mal, feeling more vulnerable than he liked in front of Patience, swung his legs up onto the medbed, leaning back.
“Don’t worry, Mal,” the old woman said, a smile cracking her face. “I ain't gonna jump ya. You ain’t exactly my type.”
“Patience, you have no idea how pleased I am to hear it.” He glanced at Simon who had a probe delving into his arm, and decided not to watch. “What about Macauliffe? You knew he’d end up dead, before you tipped me the wink. All you had to do was let him take you, we’d have gotten you back and the sheriff could’ve dealt with him.”
“And let everyone know he got one over on me?”
Mal’s eyebrows raised. “You think he’d do that?”
“For sure.” She sniffed in displeasure. “And the truth is, you and I both know he wasn’t gonna let me go if’n he had ridden out with me. Another reason I hate owing you.”
“Patience, Patience …” Mal shook his head. “And you in your Sunday best, too.”
She looked down at the soft cotton dress. “Ain’t Sunday no more, Mal.” She smiled slightly. “So … you’re figuring on asking me about this job.”
Mal sat up straighter as Simon pulled the bullet, luckily intact, from inside the wound. It didn’t hurt as such, but it he knew it was happening. “It’s come at a particular moment in time that I feel is mighty coincidental.”
“Thought you didn’t believe in them.”
She studied him in silence for a moment, then said, “You’re right. Man I know got in contact, said he needed a job doing, and I was to make sure you did it.”
“This man have a name?”
Mal’s lips twitched ever so slightly. “I take it that ain’t his real moniker.”
“Nope. And I never did know it. Always was Jereboam Smith to me.” She exhaled loudly. “You know, with a name like that, I don’t doubt it’s really his. I mean, you’d think he wouldn’t choose it otherwise.”
“But he was a Browncoat once upon a time.”
“Used to be. Something else now, I conjure.”
“Don’t tell me. One of these New Browncoats I’ve been hearing about.”
“Bit like your pal Theo Hawkins.” Patience was referring to the actor/manager who ran the theatrical troupe who had performed for her last time Mal was on Whitefall.
“Did this Mr Smith give you any idea as to why he wanted me specifically?”
“Nope. Just to get you and your crew to Argos soon as possible.”
“Argos?” Mal eyes narrowed. “Now why would anyone want anything taken there?”
“Shithole of a place, far as I can recall,” Patience admitted. “Nobody goes there don’t have to, and that includes Alliance.”
“And the cargo?”
“Ship came a few days ago, left some boxes. Don’t know what’s in ‘em, didn’t look, but they’re big and heavy. At least they made it look like they were legit.”
Mal thought for a moment. “What’s this guy look like? Mr Smith.”
“Medium height. Brown hair. Pretty average.”
Just like the feller who’d been following them around. Maybe they’d got fed up with that, and decided on a more direct approach. “Can you contact him?”
“Nope.” Patience crossed her arms. “He calls me.” A small smile crossed her face. “’Sides, looked to me like there was more pressing things for you to be thinking on,” she added. “Like that family reunion going on out there.”
“Reunion?” Simon looked up from where he was doing yet more stitching on Mal’s person. “What are you talking about?”
Serenity’s captain licked his lips. “Well, doc, I’d be obliged if you’d finish that off first, but I think maybe after that you’ll be wanting to sit down …”
to be continued
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 7:26 AM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 12:37 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 1:51 PM
Thursday, October 16, 2008 4:43 AM
Thursday, October 16, 2008 5:49 PM
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