BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Prospero's Legacy - Part XXXII
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The message gets sent, and battle is joined high above Hera. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1974    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

The explosion echoed round the complex, setting up vibration and counter-vibration in the walls and ceiling. Mal brushed the light dust from his coat and glanced at Zoe. “You think … Frey?”

“I imagine so, sir.”

Yes, me, he heard without the use of his ears.

There was a slight red tinge to her thoughts which he associated with pain. You okay, xin gan?

Shiny. Just somewhat … bruised.

He knew she was lying a little. You sure?

Trust me. My good looks aren’t affected. And before you ask, Alex is fine too.

With you to look after him, I'm not surprised. He looked up at his first mate. “Yeah. Freya.” He grinned and thumbed the comlink. “Hank. You there?”

“Not sure where else I’d be.”

“Is the jammer down?”

There was a pause while he obviously checked. “It’s down.”

“Then get that stuff sent before the Alliance take it into their heads to do the same.”

On the bridge of Serenity, Hank peered up into the sky. “Oh, I think they’re going to be too busy for that,” he said. “Looks like the fight’s started.”

There wasn’t much to see, just occasional flares in the sky as Alliance two-man gunships were taken down, EMP pulses scrambling their onboard systems. One had fallen close by, exploding into bright glory on the Valley bottom, and he’d said a brief prayer for the men on board.

Deep below the ruins of the Abbey, Mal closed his eyes briefly. “Just … get it done. Then get my boat out of there.”

“Mal –“

“No time for discussion. Not telling you to leave, ‘cause I know you won’t. Just get Serenity someplace safe so you can come back for us later.” He smiled a little. “Besides, you might need to perform a heroic rescue.”

“How heroic?”

Out of the corner of his eye Mal could see Zoe shake her head at her husband, exasperation written clearly on her otherwise stoic face. “I’ll let you know. Do the job, Hank.”

“Yeah.” The comlink clicked off.

No-one spoke for a moment, each seeing the battle going on above them in their mind’s eye, then Dillon asked softly, “How far?”

Mal consulted the hand reader. “It twists a lot, but …” He looked at River, who was staring off into the darkness. “Albatross? We got time?”

“Tick tock, goes the clock.”

“Right. I take it we’re gonna have to hurry.”

She didn’t answer, but her dark eyes turned on him, seeming bottomless in the odd light.

He nodded. “Then we’d better get going.”

---

“Kaylee, I'm gonna need your help.” Hank spoke into the com, then jumped as a hand was placed on his shoulder. “Wah!”

“Sorry,” the young mechanic said. “I was coming up here anyway. “What do you need my help with?”

Hank had his hand pressed to his chest. “Restarting my heart would be good. But mostly we gotta get that message out.”

Her eyes widened. “They did it?”

“First part. Jammer’s down.”

Kaylee slid into the seat next to him. “Ready,” she said, her fingers skimming over the board.

He grinned, even though the skin was tight around his eyes. He knew they didn’t have the equipment to broadwave to the ‘verse, not like Mal had done after discovering Miranda, but at least they could send the formula for AntiPax to everyone they knew, maybe a couple of hundred Cortex addresses, and they’d pass it on. Like a pebble thrown into the centre of an ocean, eventually the ripples would reach the edge.

Thinking of Miranda brought up an image he’d tried to quash many a time, of Zoe’s husband sitting on this very bridge, a Reaver harpoon smashing through the window. He’d never met the man, but his active imagination had managed to supply something bone-chillingly accurate for him to contemplate.

“Hank?” Kaylee’s voice brought him back.

“Yeah. Sorry.” He leaned forward. “You sure your rerouting’s gonna work?”

“Positive. It’ll toss our signal around so no-one’s gonna know who sent this, ‘cept those we want to.” She glanced at him. “And you ain't gonna die, Hank.”

He jerked. “What?”

“I know you’re thinking about Wash, and the last time we did something like this. It ain’t gonna happen.”

“It’s just … Alliance and Reavers … Zoe’s not exactly had the best of luck with husbands where they’re concerned.”

“She’s only had the one. I mean, besides you.”

His lips twitched. “I’d kinda like to keep it that way.”

Kaylee grinned at him. “Come on, then. Let’s let all those good folks know about this.”

“Okay, boss.”

She nodded positively then bent over the console.

---

Above on Iolanthe, the bridge crew were staring at each other. They could feel vibration through their boots, but no-one knew what to do.

Greg Bennett ran onto the bridge, his second in command, Tyzack, at his heels. “Come on!” he yelled. “Do something!”

“I …” Bradshaw could hardly speak. “I don’t know …”

“It’s Reavers, you imbecile,” Bennett said, pointing to the main viewscreen where half the stars were blotted out by the stern of a ship.

“But … they don’t exist.”

Bennett shook his head. “Right. So it’s an optical illusion they’re trying to bore into the hull.”

Bradshaw was whitefaced. “What do we do?”

“Don’t you train for things like this?”

“Reavers?” Bradshaw laughed, almost hysterically. “Pirates, yes. But we’re an armed Federal vessel. Who’s likely to attack us?”

Bennett took a deep breath, tightly suppressing the urge to shoot this idiot. “Can you get your main armaments onto the Reaver ship? Blow it up?”

One of the other officers, a young woman with flaming red hair caught up under her cap, said, “No. And if we could, with them attached, it would probably take us with it.”

He half-smiled at her. “Name?”

“Ensign Carey, sir.”

“First name?”

“Amanda.”

Bennett nodded and turned to Tyzack. “Terry, take Amanda here and go to the armoury and break out as many weapons as you can find. Make sure everyone’s armed to the teeth.”

“On it, Greg.” He ran out, Ensign Carey glued to his back.

“You …” Bennett pointed at Bradshaw. “Do you have emergency explosive bolts on your airlock doors?”

“Of course.”

“Then get them primed, and I’ll tell you when to blow them. In the meantime, pull all your men back away from the hull. We need to make this as difficult as possible for those bian tai si gui …”

---

“That’s it,” Hank said, exhaling heavily in relief. “Okay, better get her warmed up.” He began to flick various switches.

Kaylee stared at him. “You said we weren't leaving.”

“No, we’re not. At least, not as such.” He motioned overhead. “But one way or the other, whoever wins up there, they’re gonna be down here before too much longer, and I ain't entirely sure the Alliance are gonna be that much friendlier than Reavers, so I'm gonna actually do what Mal ordered for once, and get us hidden.”

The look of angry belligerence faded on her face. “Where were you thinking of?”

He tapped the screen showing the plan of Serenity Valley and the outlying region. “There’s a cave up in the hills here. It ain't big, but I reckon I can get her inside without scratching the paint.”

Kaylee got up and studied it. “You won’t be able to drop down from the top,” she commented.

“Nope. And that’s another reason we’ll be safer. We’ll have to get in through the overhangs.”

She bit her lip. “Internal gravity might not like it. Won’t be going fast, but it’ll mean some fancy manoeuvring. Could take her a while to catch up.“

“I know. You’d better warn your in-laws.”

“Think maybe I should.” A thought struck her. “What about Columbine?”

Hank glanced out of the window at the ship sitting next to them. “Can’t fly two boats, Kaylee. Even I ain't that good.”

“Sure you are.” She grinned and left Hank getting the Firefly ready. She headed towards the stairs, but glanced into the galley first. “Hey, Regan,” she said, stepping down. “I was just gonna come look for you.”

“Oh?” The older woman looked up from the cup she was nursing. “Sorry. I was miles away.”

“Thinking on Simon?”

“Mmn.” She roused herself. “I made some tea. Do you want some?”

“Maybe later, but right now we’re on the move.”

Regan sat upright. “Excuse me?”

“We’re taking Serenity someplace safe. You gonna want to let Gabriel know we could be in for a bit of a rough ride.”

“I won’t be able to.”

“What?”

“I won’t be able to tell him anything.”

A cold thrill of suspicion raced up Kaylee’s spine, and she glared. “Regan … where’s your husband?”

Regan couldn’t answer, just clutched the mug even tighter, trying to get some feeling of warmth in them as she remembered the last time she’d seen him.

“Gabriel, no.” She looked around the bay, wanting to find someone to stop him, but there was only Kaylee left, and she was busy strapping down something in one of the cages, concentrating too hard to take notice of them.

“I have to. To make this right.” He looked into her face, holding her head between his hands, and she could feel the wedding band pressing into her cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They kissed, fiercely, passionately, perhaps for the first proper time in years, then Gabriel was gone, slipping out of the cargo bay doors into Hera’s light before another word could be said.

“Regan?”

---

“Not much farther,” Mal commented. “Couple more turns and –“

The comlink buzzed.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have unjammed the signal, sir,” Zoe said as he pulled it from his coat pocket, silencing it with a rough finger.

“What?” Mal demanded, keeping his voice low. “We’re kinda busy here, and if you’re just calling to let me you got the message out I –”

“Gabriel’s gone.”

“Do you mind repeatin’ that?” Mal asked, deceptively still.

“Gabriel’s gone. Regan says it’s something to do with stopping Quintana getting Simon.”

Mal stared into nothing, and the others waited for the inevitable. He didn’t have too strong a hold on his temper at the best of times, and this was most definitely not one of them. But he surprised them. “I can understand that,” he said finally. “Man wants to take care of his son. Prob’ly not the best way of doing it, but I conjure he ain't exactly thinking too straight at the moment.” He glanced at Simon. “Looks like he really does care.”

“I suppose it does,” the young doctor said.

Lifting the comlink again, Mal spoke into it. “Hank, you just get my boat outta there. We’ll find Gabriel, keep him from doing something stupid.”

“Going now, Mal. Wave me when you want that rescue.” There was an audible click.

“Mal, if my father is down here we have to find him.” Simon said urgently. “He’s a very sick man. There’s no knowing if – or when – he’s going to have another episode.”

“Yeah. And like I said, we’ll find him.” He turned to his first mate. “Zoe, you go with the others. Me and Simon’ll go hunting his Pa.”

“Sir, don’t you think it would be better if it was just one of us went to look?”

“Nope. Mainly because I know Simon won’t be happy unless he comes along, and I’m not letting him go alone.”

“Then I'm coming.” She began to unstrap the belt of V59 canisters from her waist.

“Whoa, there, you hold on a moment. You’re staying with them.” He nodded towards the rest of his raiding party. “They need you.”

“So do you, sir. And you’ve admitted, more than once, that I'm the only reason you’re still alive.” She handed the belt to Dillon. “And we’re wasting time,” she added as he opened his mouth to argue.

“At least when I was a sergeant I could court-martial you,” Mal muttered. “Fine. You’re with us.” He turned to the others. “Get those hybrids. That’s the main task. If you manage that, come looking for us. If you don’t …” His lips tightened. “If you don’t, find Frey and Alex, get them out of here. Hank’ll hightail it back soon as you call, and you get away.”

“Mal, that ain’t right,” Jayne growled.

“Maybe, but that’s my orders. If those things hatch, we don’t have a chance in hell of stopping ‘em, and I ain't gonna lose people in something futile. Had too much of that before.” He held up a hand. “Alliance is up there. They might have a better chance. So you do what I say, dong mah?”

There was silence, then Jayne nodded. “Yeah, Mal.”

“Good.” He looked at River. “Any idea which direction I need to go in, albatross?” he asked softly.

She concentrated, trying to push past the interference from Mara Tam, through the concern of her brother, the anger emanating from the captain, the … She pointed. “That way,” she said, adding, “I think.”

Mal smiled a little. “Solid wall, River.”

Glaring at him, she looked down at the reader in his palm. “There,” she said, stabbing the screen.

Ting hao,” he said approvingly. “Just need to go back aways to the last crosswalk. Best be going, too.”

Dillon nodded. “Hong yun.”

“Luck?” Mal chuckled humourlessly. “Don’t believe in it. ‘Less it saves my neck.” He raised a hand in salute, then strode back the way they’d come. Zoe and Simon followed without a word.

“Come on,” Dillon said, buckling the V59 around his waist. “It’s not far.” He gripped his gun tighter, and walked forward, Breed at his heels.

River didn’t move, her forehead creased, head tipped to one side. She could feel her, so close, reaching out and touching her mind with fingers that burned.

Jayne took a few paces, then realised she wasn't with him. “Riv?”

“I can almost see her,” River whispered, to herself more than him.

He rejoined her, his body almost touching hers. “Who?”

Her voice echoed through his mind, odd-tasting and distant, as if she couldn’t trust the words to come out the right way. I have to get to Mara. Stop her. She’s controlling the Reavers, and if I don’t, they won’t stop until everyone up there and down here is meat.

His blue eyes smouldered. “You ain’t going alone.”

Then come with me.

“Moonbrain …” He glanced along the corridor.

They have enough. Freya and Alex are just ahead.

He stood motionless, his skill at tracking allowing him to almost blend into the wall. “Where is she?” he breathed. “Can you find her?”

Yes.

“Then you lead, I’ll follow.”

She smiled at him, placing one slim hand on his cheek, then slipped back down the corridor like a wraith. He followed his wife.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 10:09 AM

WAKEUPSOON


Its all hitting off now. xD
Anna.x.(:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 2:15 PM

AMDOBELL


All action from here on and what a ride! I am worrying about everybody now but glad that Hank is listening to Mal for once, that is one little group that hopefully will be safe and sound. Great work as always, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 4:56 PM

KATESFRIEND


Talk about action - wow! Love the argument between Mal and Zoe, and Simon to boot. Really wondering what's going to happen with River and Mara - lots of potential outcomes with that situation. I think these stories just keep getting better and better.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 6:45 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


It's been a wild ride so far and it looks like I better be strapped in for more.

Thursday, November 27, 2008 5:17 PM

SLUMMING


My, what an intricate tapestry! Good work!


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