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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Mal has fallen victim to the Pax gas pellet, but can he be saved? NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1872 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“But this is the question. Which will he be? When the door opens, will he lay down and die or tear your flesh for his feast?” Niska, EDEN
Mal looked at him in shock, and time seemed to hang on a thread. Then his eyes changed, and he threw back his head and howled, a sound echoed from elsewhere in the complex as it ripped from Freya’s throat, feeling the murderous rage take hold.
Simon darted in, slapping the tiny hypo against his neck, narrowly avoiding Mal’s hooked fingers as he reached for something to tear limb from limb. As the drug entered his bloodstream he jerked, his teeth slamming together as his body went rigid, every tendon standing out against his neck, his fists so tight he was drawing blood from his palms.
“Sir?” Zoe asked, her hand ready to fire, to end her best and oldest friend if it didn’t work. “Mal?”
Everything seemed to slow around them and they were in a bubble, silent, waiting, aching with the tension. Then Mal went limp, as if his bones had turned to water. And time sat on the knife’s edge.
Simon moved forward to touch his neck, make sure Mal was still … then the captain took a shuddering breath.
“Mal?” Simon asked, reaching out even as Zoe took the slack out of her trigger.
“Doc?” Mal said, and suddenly the sound of the gunfight was all around them again.
“How do you feel?” the young man asked, putting his hand on Zoe’s gun and pushing it down.
“Like I got kicked by a mule. Or a whole gallon of Kaylee’s finest.” Mal struggled to sit up, then realisation broke on his face. “Was that …” He looked down at the hypo still in Simon’s fingers.
“Yes.” Simon allowed himself to breathe again. “The AntiPax works.”
“And it didn’t kill me.” Mal shook his head. “Helluva way to test it.” He went to pick up his gun from where he’d dropped it and noticed his hand was trembling.
“What was it like?” Simon asked before he could stop himself, then looked ashamed.
Mal paused, for one agonising moment reliving the feeling of a billion minds pressing into his, the hunger, the … He glanced up. “Simon, if your sister felt even a tenth of that, I ain't ever gonna call her crazy again.”
“Somehow I don’t think I’ll hold you to that promise.”
“Well, the rest of the whys and wherefores’ll have to wait.” He pushed himself to his feet, keeping low. “Got us a battle to fight.” He staggered a little and might have fallen, but Zoe was there, her strong arm holding him upright.
“I don’t suppose it’s going to do me any good to tell you to be take it easy for a while, is it?” Simon asked dryly.
“Not a damn bit.” He nodded towards the hypo. “Does that stuff work like a vaccine? In advance?”
“Since it didn’t actually … yes.”
“Then River and Frey are to use it. Right now.”
“I can’t guarantee it will work on psychics,” Simon said.
Already done, he heard in his mind from his wife, and he had to smile, which grew as his surrogate daughter slid her hand into Simon’s pocket and withdrew a hypo, placing it against her own neck. Activating it, she winced as the drug entered her bloodstream.
“Don’t matter now.” Mal shook his head ruefully. “And I think Frey must’ve picked your pocket too.”
“Really.” Simon didn’t look angry so much as resigned.
“Don’t you think the rest of us might be potentials?” Dillon asked, dropping back below the barricade and reloading.
“I think that’s a discussion for another day, with a bottle of sake.” Mal managed to peer over the wall. “’Cause I’m also thinking we don’t have time for this.” He glanced at Zoe, who had the reader at her feet. “Which way do we need to go?”
She picked it up, checking quickly. “That way,” she said, pointing behind them to a small access way.
“Well, much as I hate to kill folks who wear brown, these particular ones are trying to kill us, so I think turnabout is fair play, don’t you?”
“Another grenade?” Jayne suggested, his fingers close to his vest.
“Can you get it amongst them?”
Jayne grinned, somewhat evilly. “No problem.”
Hank leaned as close to the screen as possible, hardly even blinking as he studied the blips that indicated the Alliance and Reaver ships converging. Any minute now and there’d be just the one, and he knew what that meant. He’d seen the devastation on Corvus, could multiply it up in his head when factoring in the numbers on a cruiser. He shuddered.
“Hank?” Kaylee’s voice on the internal com.
He reached up and flicked the switch. “What is it, sweetheart?”
“Nope. I’ll let you know soon as I hear.”
“The Cap told you to hightail it if it got sticky here, didn’t he?”
Hank swallowed. “Honestly, yes. He did.”
“We ain’t, are we?”
He couldn’t help smiling. “Not if I can help it.”
“Oh. Good.” She sounded relieved, and he had to chuckle.
The nameplate announced the room to be the ‘Communications Centre’, and Freya nodded grimly. “Nice of them to tell us,” she said softly.
Footsteps pounding down one of the adjacent corridors had her pressing Alex back into a recess, but the owners didn’t pass them.
“What now?” Alex asked, feeling his heart racing.
“You keep watch out here. If you see anything, sing out.”
She sighed. “Or whistle. Or bang a drum, I don’t really care. Just let me know.”
“Oh, I think it’ll probably be shouting and firing of weapons.”
“That’s work too.” She pressed the entry plate, stepping back as the door slid open. Glancing inside it didn’t appear that the room was currently occupied. “If I’m not back in five, go back and join Mal.”
“You don’t really expect me to do that, do you?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at his sister.
“Not really, no.” She shrugged. “Just … be sensible, okay?”
“That I can manage.”
She flashed a quick smile and slipped inside, the door closing silently behind her.
Alex took a deep breath, told himself to at least try and calm down, and attempted to make himself as inconspicuous as possible.
Inside Freya looked around the room. One wall was entirely taken up with monitors, showing at least thirty views throughout the complex. There was a map next to it, if anything less complete than the one River had drawn, but detailing where each of the cameras was placed. Studying it she could see Mal and the rest of the crew moving down a corridor, and she glanced at the map. They were getting close to the hybrid containment area, and if … “Cao.” She tugged the com from her pocket. “Mal.”
There was no response, and she knew she was out of range of their boosters, and no time to even find, let alone deactivate the jammer. Instead she mentally tuned herself to her husband. Mal.
On the screen she saw him pause, looking up as if he could see her. What?
Don’t go any further. Go back, take the turning on your right.
She could see him examining the palm reader.
But that takes us the long way round. Be a lot further, Frey. Take more time.
And just ahead there’s another ambush.
She had to smile as he obviously relayed this information to the others, and they hurried back the way they’d come. That’s it, she thought as they reached the other corridor.
Thanks, ai ren.
Any time, zhang fu, and she was alone in her head. She turned to the console filling the far corner, and wondered just what she was supposed to do to cut off the jamming equipment. “Wash, if you really are watching over us, like Kaylee says, any chance you can tell me?” she said very quietly.
There was no response, from a blond, Hawaiian-shirted pilot or anyone else.
“Thought not.” She sighed. “I really need to pay more attention in class.” Leaning forward she ran her fingers over the various dials and buttons, but nothing sprang up and said, “Switch me off”. Then something moved. Not much, just a slight change in the surroundings, but her hand inched towards her weapon.
It was too late. Someone grabbed her gun arm, both hands wrapped hard around the muscle. She half turned, about to punch, but her wrist was seized and twisted painfully up behind her back.
“You think we didn’t know you were coming?” a rough voice said in her left ear. “Saw you a mile away.”
She struggled against their hands, ignoring the protestations of her tendons. “Then you know what’s happening.”
“Stop that,” the man holding her gun arm ordered.
For a moment she stilled. “The Alliance are here. And Reavers. Called by Mara Tam.”
“No idea who you’re talking about.”
“Of course you don’t.” She used her body weight to attempt to unbalance the man to her right, but a stabbing pain in her back stopped the movement.
“Now, you try that again and this knife is gonna slip between your ribs real easy,” the man on her left said, and the pain increased. “Just like that.”
“Chavez, don’t.” The second man, while not exactly sympathetic, sounded concerned. “Ramsey won’t like it if she’s hurt too much.”
“Just enough.” He twisted the knife a little, and Freya inhaled sharply. “See?”
“Thank you, gentlemen,” came another voice from the doorway. “We can take her from here.”
They turned, pulling Freya with them.
Two men wearing dark suits were facing them, Alex in a crumpled heap at their feet.
“Who the hell are you?” Chavez asked, wanting to draw his gun but finding it more than a little difficult with hands full of both woman and knife.
Freya had paled, her eyes seeing one thing, and her mind another. They may have looked like innocuous business men, but they were also two black holes, sucking in the light and warmth from the ‘verse. “A nightmare,” she whispered, unheard by the others.
“My name is irrelevant, but if it helps you can call me Mr Brown,” said the man who had spoken before. “And this is Mr Grey.”
The second man took something from his pocket, keeping it hidden in his blue-gloved hand.
She swallowed then looked down to her brother on the floor. “What did you do to him?”
“He’s not a very good look-out. So busy watching for these New Browncoats he missed us.”
Her throat dried. “Is he dead?”
“No. But he’s going to have a headache. If we let him live.”
Chavez had tightened his grip, and Freya could feel the bones grating in her wrist. “What the cao are you talking about?” he demanded.
Mr Brown almost smiled, ignoring the outburst. “Odd, isn’t it? Here we are, all working towards the same goal.”
“You think?” Freya spat.
“Of course. Freeing Mara Tam from these rebels.”
“You only want her back so she can control the Reavers. Make them your fighting force.”
“Ultimately, perhaps. But the initial impulse is the same.”
“You’re just two men,” Chavez put in, trying to take back control of the situation. “You don’t think you’re going to just walk around here like you own the place, do you?”
Mr Brown raised one eyebrow. “We already do.”
Mr Grey lifted his hand, palm up, and they could just see a small silver box in it.
“What the diyu’s that?” Chavez took a step back, Freya and the other man having to follow.
“Nothing for you to worry about,” Mr Brown assured him, a lie dripping from every word.
“Put it down.”
“I don’t think so.” Mr Brown looked at Freya. “We shall, of course, attempt to stop Captain Reynolds destroying the hybrids, but if that can’t be helped, at least we have you.”
“We can breed more. Using you, Elena.”
It was like ice cold water poured over her, shocking her system. “I’m not Elena.”
“Elena Rostov. One of the Rostovs. Our greatest success turned to our greatest failure, because you died. Only here you are.” He looked almost happy.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Retinal scans, Elena.” Mr Brown held up a small device. “We read you as soon as you entered the complex. Retinal scans don’t lie.”
“And you think I’m going to help you?”
Mr Brown shrugged. “You’ll have no choice. We’ll take you back to the Academy … oh, not the one that you destroyed, but one of the many others … and finish your training.”
She began to struggle harder. “No.”
“Perhaps this is the experiment our masters have been waiting for. A psychic, tempered by us, then finished in the cold of space, before coming home. All that experience, that wealth of knowledge, at our disposal. You really could be the greatest of us all.” He reached up to touch her cheek.
That was all she was waiting for. She lunged forward, burying her teeth in his hand, feeling the glove part and blood fill her mouth. She tugged back at the same time as he pulled free, the blue membrane tearing from his fingers, leaving his hand bare, bleeding …
He stared at it, cradling it to his chest, then he threw back his head and howled, his eyes rolling back into his skull.
A wave of mental anguish poured from the injured man, and it made Freya’s senses reel as she spat the fragments of blue, contaminated with flesh and blood, onto the floor. It was all she could do to watch in astonishment as the other man drew his gun, putting a bullet into the head of his companion.
He didn’t even wait to see the body fall, but stepped forwards. “If I didn’t need to deliver you …”
Close enough. Using the men who held her as her fulcrum, she kicked up, catching the gun and sending it spinning across the room, then in the same action pulled back, dragging her captors together, their heads meeting in a satisfying crunch.
She went down, hand reaching for one of the guns, when pain slashed through her mind, turning all her senses red. She could feel liquid running from her nose, her mouth, agony tearing the membranes down as she fell …
A gunshot. Just one, close by, and the pain stopped. Blessed relief cooled her body, and she managed to push herself to her knees, not even remembering how she came to be on the floor.
Someone was at her side, helping her. She looked up, blinking tears of blood away. “Alex?”
“That’s me.” He smiled shakily, blood of his own leaking from his mouth and nose. “Can you stand?”
“I’ll stand.” Using his arm to help, she got to her feet, swaying. She looked across at the blue handed man. Literally. Alex’s bullet had taken him at the wrist, and blood was pumping from the severed arteries. He was leaning against the wall, his eyes wild, and she could feel the madness pressing into her mind. Staggering slightly, she reached down and picked up her gun, pointing it at him. “For everyone,” she said, firing it between his eyes. Then again, and again, until the trigger clicked on empty, and there was nothing left of the man’s head but a mass of blood and bone fragments.
She pulled the trigger twice more, then lowered her arm as the voice penetrated. “Alex?”
He nodded grimly. “Pretty much.”
“He seemed to go … crazy.”
“The gloves. I didn’t know, but I felt it. Something to do with the gloves. Stopping them going insane.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Neither do I.”
He put his hand on her arm. “Come on. We’ve got a job to do.”
She tore her eyes from the mess in front of her. “That we have.” She looked into his eyes. “You keep coming to rescue me.”
Alex swallowed back the bile threatening to spew from his throat. “That’s what brothers are for, Frey. And you didn’t really need rescuing, did you?”
“Yes, I did,” she admitted with a rueful smile. “And I’m grateful.”
“Any time. I’m just glad I’ve got a thick head,” he added, rubbing the tender lump where one of them had hit him.
Freya glanced at the console. “Enough of this.” Taking one of the ordinary explosive charges off her belt she bent down and placed it under the central panel.
“Wait. What about them?” Alex asked, indicating Chavez and his partner.
“We don’t have time to argue.”
“Then we won’t.” He grabbed Chavez by the shirt and dragged him towards the door.
She glared at her brother. “Shit.” Silently cursing him, she took hold of the other man’s ankle and pulled him unceremoniously out into the corridor. “Since when did you grow a conscience?” she asked.
“Since when did you lose yours?”
Their eyes locked, but Freya faltered first.
“You’re right,” she said quietly. “But if they come back to kill us, I won’t think twice.”
Hurrying back into the room she went down onto her heels and pressed the button on the charge. Immediately the red light began to blink. “Time to go and make some mayhem, don’t you think?” she asked, standing up.
Thrusting the other men’s guns into the waist of her pants, she strode out, reloading as she went.
Alex glanced back at the bodies, taking a step away from them. Something skittered under his foot and he looked down. It was the device the second man with blue hands had been holding. Anger flared through him and he brought his heel down on it, grinding it into the floor until only fragments remained. Then he followed his sister, the door sliding to behind him.
A minute later a dull boom echoed through the complex, and dust sifted down from the ceiling.
to be continued
Monday, November 24, 2008 8:28 AM
Monday, November 24, 2008 1:59 PM
Monday, November 24, 2008 2:02 PM
Wednesday, June 2, 2010 11:44 AM
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