BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Prospero's Legacy - Part XIX
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Simon finds out the truth about his father, and Mal finds out the truth about everything else. Hope it was worth the wait! NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1995    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Freya had already cleared the cool room of as many people as possible, leaving only Regan standing by her husband, and herself ready to assist as necessary.

Simon pushed past Mal, waiting in the doorway, and started examining Gabriel, letting his professional skills take over, and keeping the anger he still felt towards the people in front of him banked down, only the faintest of glows still showing. Eventually, having taken scans and examined results, he straightened up, not having said a word to either of them.

“Something I need to know here?” Mal asked, stepping into the infirmary.

Simon turned to look at him. “He had an attack. A warning.”

“His heart?”

“Yes. The tachycardia was very high.”

“Tachy … that’s where it’s beating too fast to count?”

Simon smiled slightly. “That’s it.”

“Is he going to be okay?”

“He’s not going to die from it, if that’s what you mean.”

“Good. Hate to carry corpses around at the best of times.”

“You know, it’s very disconcerting to be talked about like this when I’m actually still here,” Gabriel said conversationally.

Simon didn’t even look at him. “Then we’ll talk outside.”

“I didn’t mean –“ Gabriel sighed as he watched his son take the captain out into the other room. Nothing he said was likely to make a difference now, he knew, but he had to try.

The rest of the crew drew back a little, giving the two men space.

“It was my fault,” Simon said quietly.

“How?”

“I …” Simon closed his eyes for a moment, centring himself. “I was arguing. I couldn’t see … it was my fault.”

“Sounds like maybe it was.”

Simon’s eyes flew open, and they fixed on Mal’s face. “What?”

“Oh, did you want me to talk you out of it?” Serenity’s captain pointed to himself.

“No, but I –“

“Simon, no-one’s gonna hold it against you if you get mad. You’ve had a long time to bottle this stuff up. But I’d be obliged if you didn’t kill your Dad before he tells us what he knows.”

“He’s not my father.”

“Fine. But it still holds, whatever we call him.”

“He was your father for twenty-three years, Simon. And now he’s dying.” Regan spoke, standing in the doorway, holding herself stiffly.

Both men turned.

“I don’t believe you,” Simon said, shaking his head.

“It’s true. You’re a doctor. If you want to take blood, do more tests … it’s Mandel’s Syndrome.”

“But that’s –“

“Fatal. Yes, I know.” She smiled a little. “But then, so’s life, if you live long enough.”

“It’s nothing to joke about,” Simon said awkwardly. “Have you had other opinions?”

“You can’t begin to know the number of times he’s been prodded about, stuck with needles, had full body scans … They all say the same thing. Even with the medication, he has maybe six months.”

“So he’s going for the sympathy vote?”

“Simon.” Kaylee touched his arm. “Don’t.”

He glanced round at her, seeing the concern on her face, but not just for him. “They left us, Kaylee,” he whispered.

“I know. But they’re here now. And your Pa’s dying.” She looked into the infirmary at the man on the medbed. “And at least you get to say goodbye.”

Mal saved Simon from having to answer. “That’s all peachy, but I’d rather he didn’t croak until he’s told us what’s got his britches all in a twist.”

“Here?” Kaylee asked, annoyed with her Captain but understanding his need to know what was going on.

“Good a place as any.”

“Yes,” Gabriel called, having heard some of the conversation. He wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. “I think it’s time.”

Mal stepped into the infirmary to stand by Freya, only Dillon and Zoe following him inside. The rest of them clustered around the doorway. “Well?” he asked, not unkindly.

Gabriel tried to sit up, and smiled gratefully at Freya as she adjusted the medbed to support him. “What do you know about Reavers, Captain?”

Mal glared at him. “That one of those rhetorical questions?” he asked in turn. “Seeing as you’ve been cooped up on a boat with people who maybe know more’n is good for ‘em about my business.”

Gabriel nodded. “I know you were involved in the Miranda broadwave.”

“That’s ancient history,” Mal said, tucking his thumbs into his gunbelt, as always pushing the memory of Wash impaled on a huge stake back into the dark recesses of his mind.

“Perhaps. But you also suspect Reavers are the potential psychics, made mad by the sudden and violent turning on of their abilities.”

Mal stood perfectly still, and outside in the common area Zoe ran her fingertips over the butt of her Mare’s Leg. “Permaybehaps.”

“You’re right, of course. And that the Alliance knew what would happen, before the Pax was ever added into the air purifiers.” Gabriel took a deep breath.

“Kinda got that from the horse’s mouth.”

“Andrew Brooks, yes.” The man’s colour was improving a little. “He was a good friend. It came up in one of the many discussions we had, when he was trying to tell me I was wrong about Simon.” He peered around Mal to try and see his son.

“You’re telling me stuff I already know,” Mal said, sharper than he intended. “Tell me something I don’t.”

Dillon stepped forward, seeing the indecision on the older man’s face. “Gabriel, you’ve got to trust these people. I know you don’t want to come out and say it, but you have to.” He looked at Mal. “It’s not just about controlling the Reavers, and it turns out Niska was right about that. What Gabriel knows is much, much worse.”

“How can it be worse?” Mal turned back to the medbed. “Somebody had better tell me.”

Gabriel looked from Mal to Dillon and back again, then said, very quietly, as if afraid of someone listening who shouldn’t be, “Hybrids.”

“What?”

“The girl, whoever she is, can control Reavers to a certain degree, but only as something of a blunt instrument. What certain factions within the Alliance wanted was a surgical scalpel.” Gabriel licked suddenly dry lips. “Quintana proposed combining human and Reaver DNA, basically breeding from selected hosts, believing that any such off-spring would be easier to control. Still incredibly violent, but capable of being used against specific targets and leaving others untouched.”

There were horrified murmurs from the common area, and Mal felt the hairs on the back of his neck lift. “That’s … just all manner of wrong.”

“And more specifically, outright illegal,” Dillon added. “And not even the most die-hard Parliamentary Member was going to agree to such a thing, not if there was any likelihood of it getting to the public.” He shook his head. “You getting that broadwave out made them all the more paranoid. If that kind of dirty little secret could have the light of day shone onto it, what else might be discovered?”

Gabriel nodded. “They were so scared they summarily relieved Quintana from his position just for lobbying for it.”

“How do you know about this?” Mal asked, glaring at the older Tam as the banked anger he’d felt for a long time threatened to burst into flame. “You got connections with the Alliance?”

“No, no, not like that,” Gabriel said quickly. “Perhaps I might once have had faith in the system, seeing all the good it had done, but now …” He drew himself together. “My loyalties have moved towards the New Browncoats.”

“That doesn’t explain a gorram thing.”

“Quintana doesn’t care who he works for, Captain, as long as what he gets what he wants. He’s switched sides.”

Mal shook his head. “No. I can’t … I won’t believe that. No matter what, there’s not a one Independent is going to condone creating more of these damn things.”

“I would normally agree with you, but these are fanatics. And they’re a small group, not representative.” He almost chuckled. “It just so happens that they’re very well financed by people who want to see the Alliance destabilised, brought to its knees by any means possible.”

Mal pursed his lips. He wanted that, to have the stranglehold the Alliance had on the outer planets broken, to let men live their lives without undue interference, but he would never …

They’re not you, zhang fu.

He glanced at Freya, her eyes on him. Might have been.

No. Never.

You just keep telling me that.

Gabriel, unaware of the mental conversation going on, said, “The truth is, I have friends. Who have friends on both sides. And information gets back to me. I never honestly believed that Quintana would ever succeed, but it appears he has. Or at the very least is close to doing so.”

“Dear God in heaven,” Hank muttered, reaching blindly for Kaylee’s hand and holding tight.

“That’s pretty much why I'm here,” Dillon added. “When I was looking for that ViroStim for you, I kept hitting a brick wall, being told all medical equipment was in short supply. I thought it was just the Alliance keeping a tight rein on things, but I did more checking. Viral replicators, cryotubes, DNA splicers … it was all still being made, but someone was buying everything pretty much as soon as it came off the production line.”

“Surely the powers that be would be able to find out who it was,” Freya said softly.

“And they were looking, but as soon as they thought they had a line on them, it vanished, like a puff of smoke. All that happened was that the stuff started to be stolen instead of bought legitimately.”

“Captain,” Gabriel said, taking the attention back to himself, “there may be millions of good men and women, Browncoat to the bone, who just want to be left to live their own way, but it only takes a handful to subvert the entire operation. And that handful want to see Osiris in flames. And Londinium. Ariel. All of the Core planets.”

“And they know what Quintana’s doing?” Mal asked, having to speak around the lump in his throat.

“No. I doubt it, not to that extent. But they believe it’s okay to use the Reavers as they are, and as such they’re financing him. They probably don’t know what he’s using it for.”

“That’s insane,” Zoe said.

Gabriel looked at her, admiring the calm nature of her demeanour, and getting it almost entirely wrong. “I agree. But it’s worse.”

“I seem to be in danger of repeating myself here, but … how?” Mal demanded.

“I think he’s used the DNA of the psychic, the girl the Alliance was using to control the Reavers.”

Mal’s jaw dropped. “He did what?”

Dillon answered this time. “Bits of information, things that have been overheard but overlooked … nothing by themselves but put together … it appears he left with samples of her DNA.”

“Can they do that?” Kaylee asked quietly, her voice only meant for her husband. “Make … more of them?”

Simon nodded. “With the equipment Dillon mentioned, pretty easily.”

“But they’re psychic already,” Zoe pointed out. “How can that make them any different? Any worse? And Reavers were humans, turned insane by Pax. Won’t their DNA just be the same as ours?”

Simon stepped into the infirmary. “No. Pax alters the DNA on a subatomic level. Not immediately, which is why the AntiPax works, but after a week or so it’s permanent. Technically Reavers are a different species.”

“I still don’t see how this makes the hybrids worse.”

Gabriel lay back, feeling tiredness wash over him. “Because they won’t have to go through the trauma of being psychically switched on. They’ll come out of their cocoons with the ability intact, and with the girl’s DNA they might even be able to control it, utilise it to their advantage.”

Mal felt the blood rush from his face. “Are you suggesting –“

Simon interrupted. “Mal, if these hybrids are viable, and they get loose, we might not have to worry about running from them. We won’t be able to run. They could be able to hold us psychically, maybe even turn us against each other. They might not even have to touch us to kill us.”

Silence filled the cool room, and out in the common area. Hank, needing some physical contact, pulled Kaylee against him, while Jayne felt River’s hand in his, and he held on like a drowning man. Alex and Breed looked at each other – no matter they’d all discussed this at length on the trip, to see their friends, their family, suddenly realise the implications was hard.

“Can’t we just tell the Alliance?” Hank asked. “I mean, I know that goes against the grain, but they ain’t gonna just stand by and let this happen, are they?”

Jayne grunted. “What’s to stop ‘em using these things themselves?”

“Oh. I hadn’t thought about that.” He hung his head, feeling awkward. Kaylee patted his arm.

Freya didn’t want to confuse the issue further by letting the Tams know, just yet, the identity of the psychic. “But the girl ... Surely the Alliance have her locked away someplace. Not that I think it’s right, of course, but … if Quintana can’t get to her, how does he expect to control these hybrids?”

Dillon looked at Gabriel, then said, “We think he has her already.”

“What?” Mal seemed to rouse from his reverie.

“It’s why the Reaver attacks specifically on Independent targets have stopped.”

Mal glanced at Freya. “Greenleaf,” he murmured. “Fogle’s Creek.”

She nodded slowly.

“We picked up reports of a freighter en route for Osiris being attacked by pirates,” Alex added from the common area. “Very sketchy, as if someone was trying to keep it quiet, but there was mention of a Dr Petty being amongst the casualties.”

“He took over from Quintana,” Gabriel clarified. “And as he’s highly unlikely to be travelling far from his project …”

Mal spoke quietly, a new resolve in his voice that many of those listening had never heard before. At least, those who hadn’t been around for Miranda. “If these madmen have the girl, then they’ve got most of the cards. Even with the AntiPax, that ain't gonna do much good if we have Reavers, with or without enhanced abilities, breathing down our necks.” He paused for a moment. “And as much as I’d love to leave the Alliance to mop up this mess, Jayne’s right. We’d just be handing them a weapon to use against us folks they have a beef with, and against all those they just don’t like. And no-one’d be any the wiser.” He looked at Gabriel. “When was Quintana fired?”

“A little under a year ago.”

“And the equipment?” This was directed at Dillon. “How long?”

“Nine months, give or take.”

Mal turned to Simon. “I know you ain't gonna be able to give me a precise answer, doc, but I need your best guess. With what we know, what this Quintana has access to, how long would it take to grow these … abominations?”

Simon licked suddenly dry lips. “Does he have cell renewal boosters?”

Dillon nodded. “More than one.”

“Then …” Simon looked at Mal. “Nine months. Give or take.”

“You mean they …” Mal had to close his mouth consciously.

“Not yet,” River said, moving around Jayne so she could be seen by those in the infirmary. “But soon.”

“You sure about that, xiao nu?” He ignored Gabriel’s jerk of the head.

“I'm sure.”

“We got time?”

“Perhaps.”

He took a deep breath. “Then I don’t see as we have a choice. We came out here because we knew something was up. Now we know what. And we can’t let these things get out, just as much as we can’t let the Alliance have them.” He looked around his crew. “Seems to me we’ve got a purpose.”

Jayne growled in agreement, and even Hank was nodding.

“But we don’t know where they are,” Gabriel admitted.

Dillon reached into his pocket, removing a data chip. He crossed the room and slid it into the reader, a map appearing on the screen. “I came across this, but it has no names, no distinguishing marks.”

Mal shook his head. “Makes it worse than useless. Without something to guide us -”

“We know where they’re not,” Hank interrupted, then had the grace to blush a little as all eyes turned on him again. “I mean, we know they’re not in the Core. And there are a lot of planets and moons out there with strong Alliance presence. They’re not likely to have built anything close to a barracks or anything, are they?”

“Probably not, but I’ve known some pretty bad criminals have their houses right next door to a Fed station.” Mal let his lips lift slightly. “But Hank’s right, and the goods we were meant to pick up were bound for Argos. It’s a no account moon, but unlikely to be far from the final destination, so at least we’ve got a direction.” He exhaled. “How long would it take us to –“

“Hera.”

“Moonbrain?” Jayne looked down at River. “What was that?”

“Hera.”

Mal felt the usual frisson up his spine at the mention of that planet, but he gave his albatross the benefit of the doubt. “That’s right,” he said gently. “Argos is one of Hera’s moons.”

“No, I mean she’s on Hera.”

Mal’s eyes hardened, becoming flecks of frozen sapphire. “You sure?”

“I can see her,” she said, gripping so tightly onto Jayne’s hand that she was sure she could feel bones grating. “I can see,” she repeated unhappily. “Mara Tam’s on Hera.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 3:05 AM

KATESFRIEND


Finally the other shoe gets to drop. Nasty plan to have thought up, but evil is as evil does. You found the worst possible combination of psychic potential and genetics and politics for the crew to fight - congratulations! Hope Simon gets to calm down a little more before it's too late. Looking forward to more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:08 AM

AMDOBELL


Oooh, I love the way this is all coming together. Just when you think the gorram Alliance couldn't be more dastardly they come up with this! Hope the next part is up soon, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 12:02 PM

WAKEUPSOON


Ooh, exciting stuff. And love the little addition of Gabriel's reaction to Mal calling River 'Daughter'. Made me giggle a bit.
Anna.x.(:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 2:50 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Not only the other shoe, but the whole shoe rack.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 4:56 PM

SLUMMING


Now THAT is a can of worms if I ever saw one! Yikes!


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