Angelle In Brown 11 "The Livin' Swamp"
Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Angelle puts Mal to work and he takes it like a pro...


Angelle is mine, the rest belongs to Joss. ========================================= Labor...whether it was manual or mental, my father seemed to always get it for free and if you were perched atop a monster of a vehicle like I was at the present, the way he got it might even bring a smile to your face.

We had been planet side for all of four hours and already my father had put Mal's entire crew to work. I chuckled at the thought of what he would have had Inara do and...wait...ewww...he'd never ask her that kind of service. EWWW!!! Okay, sidestepping that subject and burying it somewhere unholy (shame on you for thinking that about my father) Anyway, Simon was in Needles' hospital and was wondering just what kind of medicine our doc practices(he's a bit of a fan of the alcohol treatment). If the good doctor ain't completely smashed by dinner time, I'd be impressed.

River had taken a shine to Cleo and together they had begun a sewing project, mostly hemming up the clothes brought in from the townsfolk. Miss Tam now could probably make an entire wardrobe and bedding for the entire ship, which was a helluva lot more than I could do. If it weren't bleeding and it weren't skin, I was at a loss. Please, don't try to have me explain that.

The scouts had grabbed Zoe quick off the block, her war techniques something of legend in these parts. Every one of the young kids wanted to learn how she fought and cut down the men she did and from my vantage point, I could see that more than just the young boys were paying attention. Guess it wasn't every day a dark skinned warrior woman plays the drums on your heart.

The funniest of all of them was Jayne, who had been cast to go spear fishing with the menfolk. Now, when we are talking fishing, I'm not meaning some ten pound little guppy. Swamp fish are a slight bit bigger than that, the small ones weighing in at about thirty pounds. Usually it took two or more men to pull them out. Works about the same as the rescue. One man goes in and spears the fish while three others wait to start pulling in the catch. Thankfully, the bait wasn't your leg, though it was custom for the new guy to throw the first spear. Might see a repeat of those ducky underwear.

My father had grabbed Kaylee as they hummed some old tune my father had taught her and headed for Thelma. The mech had some new ideas and she had him practically eating out of her hand. She reminded me of, well, me when I was younger and full of life, before the loss of my mother and brother. Might be why Sam liked her so much. For a time as short as it might be, he had his little girl back, even if it really wasn't me.

"Hi there, Old girl." I ran my hand along her hood where I sat, a good ten feet off the ground. Betsy Lou (have I mentioned her before) resembled the sick love child of a monster truck and an earthmover. Try to picture that in your sleep. Her tires were large eough that all four would barely fit into Serenity's cargo bay and leave little room to walk around. She definitely wouldn't be hitching a ride on the Firefly since all of her was about half the size of the space transport. In fact, Old Bet had a cockpit, though not as spacious as Serenity and the Mud Mule never flew, unless we hit a really nice jump. She had been designed to pull friendly ships from the mud and make sure the other kind stayed there.

"Quite a climb gettin' up here." I heard a voice behind me and didn't need to turn to know who it was.

"Thought my father would put you to work, Captain."

"Think we've switch places here. Way I hear it, she's your boat." He slid in next to me and took in the view. "So, this is a Mud Mule."

"Betsy Lou. She's a bit temperamental when you call her a Mud Mule. I mean would you call Serenity a transport ship?"

"No ma'am." He smiled. "Your dad said you' be here and then volunteered me to join you. Convincin' old man, ain't it? Talked me right into it."

"Pull your arm, did he?" I looked at him, my hair falling into my face.

"Somethin' like that." His hand caught the strains and pulled them gently away, fingers ever so slightly brushing the side of my cheek. "When are you goin' let me in?"

"Beg your pardon."

"I've been through a war, lost a parent, lost many a friend, flied a ship halfway across a galaxy I'm not too sure I like all that much, and seen things that would make the devil himself scared to come out. Suffice to say, I've been around, so when someone is hidin' something from me, I wanna know what."

"I've been completely honest with you. Didn't even run when I did wrong on your ship."

"You're daddy's little angel, but that's not the one I'm interested in." His blue eyes danced in the sun as I sat and stared at him. "You have done everything your dad would've wanted you to do. Hell, half the men that served under me didn't have the respect you do and I know most of my crew doesn't."

"Thank you, Sir."

"Gorramit! That's what I mean. You'd have let me kill ya in Inara's shuttle to serve the purpose of respecting me. Does that mean if I ask you to bed me, you'd do the same? Just to appease your father."

My hand hit him before I realized what I had done. "You son of a bitch."

"Finally, something real." He rubbed his cheek where the imprint of my hand beginning to show. "Figured that would stoke your fire. Ange, I didn't come to this planet solely to help your old man. Kind of wish I hadn't thought he was a blow hard during the war."

"Why's that?"

He glanced at me and then turned his head toward Old Bet's cockpit. "Never rode in a Mud Mule before. Is it like flyin'?"

I smiled, my face split in a grin that would have sailed a thousand ships, made of cardboard, and my hand reached in my pocket for the keys. "Might want grab a bucket."

"Thought your father said she was broke down."

"You heard him wrong. Said she was temperamental. You gotta stroke her gears and pump her engine the right way, make her want to go for ya. Just got to know how to turn her on."

Mal helped me up as we walked toward the cab. "Here, Jayne would make a comment about his bunk."

* * * *

Like the trooper she was, Betsy Lou warmed at my touch and answered me with the satisfying roar this backwater princess had grown to love. I could tell no one had given her much attention since I had left, probably not starting her until they needed her. Most of the town was a bit scared of her and the rest, of her owner.

“Told ya I could get her to start.” I grinned as Mal took in the small cab with its control panels wrapped around a bench, not quite made for two, but somehow we were making it work. Was it okay, though, if I secretly wished it was just a tiny bit smaller. “She runs on an old engine matrix, totally water tight to prevent from rust and water damage. Has two laser cannons for those pesky Alliance scout ships and repeating guns just in case the first try doesn't work. My favorite, though, is the two chainsaw arms. They're actually for clearin' a path, but every once in a while, it kind of fun to use on those of the human variety.”

“Be a helluva mess to clean up.” He smiled.

“True, but that's what good old swamp water is for.” I laughed as the large tires found purchase in the mud. “Dad wants me to put you to work and I've heard that you share a mutual hatred of the Alliance. How ' bout we put good old Bet to work and see if there's any scouts in the area, plus give you a grand tour of my home?”

“Can't think of a better way to spend a first date.” I felt my face flush and I turned away as to not let him see. My hand grasped the throttle as Bet answered with more power, knocking Mal back against the seat. The old girl didn't need roads, she made her own and with her saw arms, well, there wasn't much that stood in her way. Only problem with her was the extremely bumpy ride. “Not quite as smooth as flyin'.”

I laughed. “Need that bucket?”

“Funny.” He repositioned himself and looked over the console. “So, what you want me to do?”

“Well, you could run the guns and saws. Big red button starts the chains. These small yellow joysticks move them around and this green button give them a bit of added power, for those really big problems.” He nodded as I went on.

“The guns are easier. They have a targeting system that will lock on to anything warmer than we are. Since most Alliance ships run hot when entering the atmo, it's a good bet that's where the guns will point. On the slight off chance it's not, take hold of the big joystick and targeting screen will pop up. Trigger for the repeaters and red button for the cannons.”

“Sounds easy enough. Think we'll run into scout ships?”

“I'm hopin' that's all we run into.” My eyes watched as we cleared the town outskirts and the trees parted. I swore I heard Mal take a breath as my view of my planet surrounded him. Many will say that the swamp ain't that much to behold, but then, they have never been to a planet with two suns and a moon that never sleeps. It remained a brilliant red, no matter where you were on the planet, just changes its position in the sky. The bog went on for only about a mile, but with Betsy's foot deep treads, the sticky mud just rolled off. Suddenly, we were looking out across a vast body of water complete with a patch of dirt that ran down her middle. The dark blue green water sent light dancing over the console.

“This place...just sayin' I never thought a Bayou would be this beautiful.” He let his eyes travel across the windows and then to me.

“Places can surprise you.” I let the throttle go as Bet slowed a bit maneuvering her onto the strip of dirt . She had all, but stopped as I fired a pulse into the ground. Around us the water erupted as large reptiles surrounded us. Mal went for the guns, but I stopped him, placing my hand on his. “Shhh!” “Ever heard the legend of Nessie from 'Earth that was'. My dad and I think these might have been their cousins.” A long neck complete with head looked into the cab, his black eye focusing to see us better. “They keep the algae from over running the water.”

“I take it they're not the gators.” He watched as a little one rose from the water, its mother sensing no danger from us.

“You'll know a gator when you see it. We've taken to callin' 'em Nessie. Dad and I try hard to guard them from the Alliance and gators alike. The pulse tells them the coast is clear and that big one, who seems to be fascinated with you trumpets if there is any trouble.”

“Smart, then?”

“Like dogs only bigger and eat more. Not sure you'd want one curling up on your lap with you.” I laughed as the corner of Mal's mouth curled up. God, he was hot and sittin' next to me with Betsy's controls in his hand. He was damn near irresistible.

“You really love this place.”

I nodded and was going to add something when the big male trumpeted, vibrating the walls and tires with his alarm. My eyes went out across the water and then the sky as both erupted at the same time. Two Alliance scouts burst from the clouds and the water about ten yards from us boiled up as huge jaws emerged. Slamming on the pulse, I watched as the Nessie disappeared back down into the depths and Mal readied the guns.

“So, that's a gator.” He stated as the jaws gave way to a slender snout complete with long body and tail. This one was a full size adult, a good twenty feet in length and weighing in at around a half ton.

“Yup, but it ain't him I'm worried about.” The scout ships were descending on us as I drove Betsy into the water. She submerged to about three quarters of her tires, sinking a good majority of her body into the camouflage of the water and algae. Our gator had taken notice and was coming toward us. “Might want to worry now.” Mal watched the large reptile, but it was the scouts that worried me. If they didn't see us, we could shoot them down before they were able to report back and that meant a few more days before more would descend upon us.

“We need to take those scouts out. The wreckage should make that gator leave us alone.”

“Not really wantin' to be gator food, Ange.” He grabbed the joystick as I heard the guns lock on to the first scout ship. Betsy slammed back as the cannons whistled and lit the front of the scout ship. Wasting no time, Mal slammed the trigger again as the second exploded in flames.

“Now, let's see if our gator won't take the bait.” I watched with my finger on reverse and my hand on the throttle as the large monster drew closer, its eyes barely visible on the water's surface. It felt the waves of the first scout ship and then the second, but continued toward us unwavering. That is until the first p-belly emerged from the wreckage. Like a heat seeking missile, it flipped around, tail smashing the water with enough force to push Bet a bit farther down as I compensated.

Screams from the wounded soldiers echoed off the walls as one by one, they exploded out of the water followed closely by the large razor sharp jaws of the gator. I'm here to tell you, there is something about bones being crushed by a half ton monster that completely destroys the appetite.

“I don't care what color you wear. That's not a pleasant way to see a man die.”

“Didn't say it was pretty, but better them than me. Maybe enough of the bastards die, they'll learn to leave this planet alone.”

“This is the Alliance we're talkin' about.” He motioned to the gator as it finished combing the wreckage for survivors. “That's what you were goin' to kill by yourself today?”

“Wouldn't have been as big as Old Scar.”

“You named it?”

“I could tell by the large scar over his eye. He's the biggest we've seen. The one in the pond is probably half his size or smaller.”

“Don't go after him without me.”

“Orderin' me, Captain?”

“Wouldn't dream of it, but ever want to fly on my ship again, you'll do as I say.”

“Maybe I don't want to fly on your ship. Takes away anything you got to threaten me with.”

“Go after that ruttin' beast alone and I'll never do this again.” His lips were on mine before I could even respond and I'm here to tell you, that was the last thing on my mind and the first, well, we'll leave that for another chapter.


Thursday, December 18, 2008 3:29 AM


Hooray, submit button back! Loved this, though I was surprised it was Mal that made the first move not Angelle. You really made the swamp come to life in my mind and I could picture the colours and the feel of the place. Did have to smile at Nessie's relatives living there but how dumb are those purplebellies to keep coming back and making themselves croc food? Can't wait to see what happens next, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, December 18, 2008 3:34 AM


Someone, somewhere, is going to take notice of all the soldiers not coming back, and when that happens I think Angelle and her family are going to need all the help they can get. Good stuff, though. I actually thought it right that Mal make a move first. Not that Angelle hasn't thought about it, but after their little discussion I think it might be he's decided that having had experience of dancing around with Inara, it was time to take the bull by the horns. So to speak. Oh, and BTW, I love the Jayne reference to bunks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 8:29 AM


Eeeeeee this is SHINY!!! angelle is such a bad@$$!!!((: and Mal kissing her at the end was ADORABLE!! I also really like your swamp planet! The Nessie cousins are awesome!((:


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