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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Simon is operating, but the bad guys have locked on. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1837 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
In the hiding place, safe behind the false wall, Jesse whimpered. The lights had gone out, and despite the pitch black, Bethie wouldn’t let them use any kind of illumination.
“Please,” the little girl begged.
“Can’t,” Bethie whispered, reaching out and managing to take an even smaller hand in hers. “I'm scared too, but we can’t let anyone know we’re here.”
“Bethie’s right,” Ethan said, equally quietly, pulling his sister to him and holding her tightly. “Close your eyes.”
“Can’t tell,” Jesse complained. “Too dark.”
“Try.” He was trying to make her feel better, but with the worry she couldn’t control coming in waves from his mother, he wasn’t doing a very good job.
She sobbed again, her fist in her mouth to stifle the noise. “Want Mama.”
“’S’okay, Jess,” Ben said, Hope’s fingers tangled with his. “We’re here.”
So are they, Bethie thought helplessly, and just knew Ethan had picked up the same by the way he stiffened.
Hank half fell out of the doorway onto the top catwalk, looking down as Freya walked out from the common area into the middle of the cargo bay. He leaned on the railings, his face ghoulish in the green light from a dozen glowsticks scattered around the crates and floor.
“I gather you didn’t manage it?” she said, settling herself in front of the main doors.
He didn’t bother to ask how she knew what he’d been trying to do. “Nope. Some of the wires are fried. Not too long a job, but I don’t reckon we’ve got time.”
“Then we’ll make some.”
“How?” Then a thought occurred to him, kicking him in the brain until it hurt. “Where’s Zoe?” he demanded, suddenly realising Freya was alone.
“Here,” his wife said, stepping out of shuttle one.
“What the hell were you …” Comprehension hit him like a speeding train. “You were going to hand yourself over,” he gasped.
“It was the only way.” She gazed at him, seeing the anger building inside. “To save all of you.”
“You don’t know what they want to do to you!”
“I can guess.”
“And you were willing to …”
He couldn’t take his eyes off her, knowing she was going to sacrifice them, their lives together, for Ben and for everyone else. For once words failed him.
Freya understood. If she’d been in the same position, knowing it was her or them, or worse, her or Mal … she’d have walked into the airlock without even a backward glance.
Hank knew it too. She could see his shoulders sag, the white-knuckled grip he had on the railing ease, and his head dropped. He muttered something, inaudible to the two women, but they knew he was cursing with all the skill he had. “What is it with this crew?” he finally muttered loud enough for them to hear. “Every one of ‘em has this urge to be martyrs.”
Zoe wished she could comfort him, tell him that the men outside wouldn’t have hurt her, but she knew it was a lie. That was why, even after the EMP pulse hit, when the controls to the shuttle died under her hands, she still tried every way she could think of to disengage the small vehicle, to try and … well, just to try. “Lucky you found us, then.”
There was the sound of metal on metal from the bow, and Freya drew her gun, checking it was fully loaded. “Where’re River and Jayne?” she asked. She could tell the men on the other side were attempting to ratchet the outer door open so they could get into the airlock. From there …
“No idea,” Hank said shortly, still more than angry with his wife.
Keep them occupied, River dropped into Freya’s mind.
Why? Where are you?
Just do it. There was a moment’s silence. Then … Please. There was an impression of stars.
Freya’s head whipped towards the EVA suit container. It was open slightly.
“Zoe, hide,” she ordered.
She turned angry eyes on her friend. “Dammit, Zoe, do what I say. Get in the hole and we’ll –“
“Don’t be zhou ben, just –“
“You’re not captain.”
Freya pointed towards the airlock, the grinding getting louder all the time. “That boat’s armed. We’ve no idea how many there are on board, but I'm guessing more than a couple, otherwise they’d have blown us out of the sky without even asking permission. And I don’t know what the hell Jayne and River are up to. One way or the other, it’s likely we’re seriously outnumbered, and –“
“So you want to lock up another gun.”
Freya ignored the interruption. “– and I’m not going to just give you to them.”
“Amen to that,” Hank breathed. “But you can’t tell how many are out there?”
“No.” She closed her eyes briefly. “All I can feel is Mal. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” He looked across at his wife. “And don’t you even go thinking of giving yourself up again.”
“They know I'm on board.” It was a statement, as bald and obvious a fact as Zoe could make it.
At Freya’s glance Hank held up his hands. “Not guilty,” he said quickly.
“He didn’t say a word,” Zoe agreed. “It was Brant Fisher. You don’t really think this is a coincidence, do you?”
“Of course not.” Freya blew a long hard sigh from between her teeth. “Hank, get back to the engine room. If it’s only a few wires, stay there until they’re fixed. Even if it’s only the lights. I don’t like working in the dark like this.”
The pilot stirred himself. “What about Kaylee?”
“She’s helping Simon.” She licked dry lips, wishing she could be back in the infirmary, holding Mal’s hand, but knowing she had to deal with this first. “Hank. Please.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll see what I can do. Just … don’t let her do anything stupid, will you?”
“I think that’s pretty much a moot point right now, don’t you?”
“I … yeah.” Hank backed up and disappeared through the doorway again.
Freya watched the first mate descend the stairs. “You know this is shang shen, don’t you?”
Zoe’s lips twitched. “Shi yu yuan wei, eh?”
“Can’t see anyone planning any gorram thing right now.” Freya checked her weapon slid easily in its holster.
“You know Jayne would want to go in with grenades, don’t you?”
“And River would be at his side. Mal would have a fit, though. Letting off grenades on board his boat. And I don’t doubt someone would get hurt.”
“Only Simon’s kinda busy.” Zoe took her place next to her friend. “Seems like old times, doesn’t it?”
Freya nodded. “You and me against the ‘verse.”
“Only he was with us, wasn't he?” She lifted her chin over her shoulder.
“Yes.” Pain flashed through her, beating at the blocks she’d put up to be able to function.
“He will be again.”
Freya didn’t answer, but straightened up as the inner doors groaned. “Here they come.”
The smell of burning had turned her stomach to jelly. But that was nothing to Simon actually pushing his finger into Mal’s heart through the tiny hole he‘d made. “That’s …”
“If you’re going to throw up -”
“No. I won’t. It’s just …”
“Think of it like a piece of Serenity, bao bei,” Simon said, feeling the gloved tip of his finger brush on something rough coating the underside of the valve. “Like the engine. It keeps beating, sending oxygenated blood around the body, just like the engine sends air around, make sure we keep breathing.”
Kaylee nodded. “I get it. Just like the pumping system.”
“Yes. And you have to clean out all the gunk, don’t you? So it doesn’t grind to a halt. Well, it’s just like this.” He slid the suction tube alongside his finger, blood seeping around the edge.
“Just pressurin’ out the pipes,” Kaylee agreed.
“Exactly.” He pressed the switch and there was a sucking sound. As fragments of something hit the inside of the tube Kaylee wondered if she had lied when she said she wasn’t going to be revisiting her last meal.
Freya knew they could kill them off as they came in. With the best will in the world, they couldn’t open the inner doors fast enough to let more than one or two through at a time, and they’d be easy pickings.
Except all those still inside had to do was disengage their ship, and explosive decompression would do the rest. Even if they were lucky enough to escape that, the Beowulf could blow them apart with only one or two well-placed missiles.
The men behind the doors had the same idea. As the gap widened, someone tossed something inside, the metal object bouncing once and coming to rest at their feet.
“Remote gas grenade,” a voice filtered through. “You try anything, you’ll be unconscious in moments.”
“You’re the aggressors,” Freya said, barely able to stop herself grinding her teeth. “Looks like you’ve got the upper hand.”
“That we do.”
The doors opened a few inches more, and a man appeared, the same one who had been talking to Hank on the vid. He stepped through, half a dozen men following. “My name is Paul Boone. Which one of you is Zoe Alleyne?”
“No-one on board by that name,” Freya asserted, adding, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, forcing your way onto my ship?”
His eyes narrowed. “Your ship? I don’t think so. My sources tell me the captain of this vessel is Malcolm Reynolds. And you are most patently not him.” Boone turned to his men. “Search the ship. Bring anyone you find to me. There’s going to be more.”
“And if they don’t want to come?” one of the others asked, his eyes dead, his finger very close to the trigger of his rifle.
“Then you make -” He stopped, and his jaw tightened. He could feel the gun barrel pressed into the back of his neck, grinding slightly on the bones of his spine.
“I am this close to letting it out.” Freya didn’t speak loudly, but her words filled the cargo bay.
“Letting what out?” Boone didn’t move, but he didn’t seem overly concerned either.
Zoe held her breath. She knew what Freya was talking about, the shadow that lived within her, courtesy of the Academy. She believed only her mentor, and the tattoo he’d given her, stopped her from killing them all in their sleep, no matter how often Mal had told her otherwise.
“You are one crazy woman,” Boone said, not showing any emotion. “You shoot me, you’ll be dead before you hit the floor.”
“So will you. A bullet in the brain does that. Some might say that would be a fair exchange.”
“Freya.” Zoe’s voice cut across them. “Don’t.”
“He’s threatening us.”
“And he means it.” She’d heard the distinctive sound of weapons being cocked, and without River or Jayne, no matter how fast Freya was, there was no way they’d survive. “Mal needs you.”
Freya glanced at her. “Low,” she murmured.
For a long and tense moment nobody moved, then Freya let her arm drop, the red mark from her muzzle on Boone’s neck looking livid. He turned, looked her straight in the eye, and took the gun from her fingers. “Kelly,” he called, tossing the weapon to one of his men. Then, in the same movement, he backhanded Freya across the cheek, the impact causing her to stagger.
She straightened up, ignoring the slight trickle of blood slipping from her lip. “Hwoon dahn.”
“You have no idea.” He lifted his head slightly. “Search this ship.”
His men split up, two going up the stairs towards the upper level, two through the doorway to the common area. The other pair backed up their boss.
Boone hadn’t taken his eyes off Freya for a second. “I take it you’re Mrs Reynolds.”
“And that makes her Zoe Alleyne.”
The two men with him hurried past, one of them sliding the Mare’s Leg from its holster on the dark woman’s leg, keeping their own guns trained on her all the time.
Freya shook her head. “No, I told you -”
“Spare me. I paid good money for the right information. So tell me, or I’ll be forced to confirm it some other way.” He raised his hand again.
“You‘re right.” Zoe stepped forward. “I'm Zoe Alleyne. Well, I was.”
Boone looked her up and down, and something in his gaze made her skin crawl. “Yeah, they told me you’d found yourself some idiot to marry. A pilot or some such.”
“Or some such.”
He sneered at her. “He’d have to be stupid to marry a woman like you.”
Zoe’s face remained implacable, but there was just the hint of the skin tightening around her eyes. “You think?”
“For sure. Considering what you did.”
“To you? I don’t even know you.”
“No. Not to me. But to mine, and the families of every single man on board my ship.” He pointed through the airlock. “Women, children, old folks … they were all fodder for you, weren't they?”
A feeling of ice slipping down her spine, of memories long buried but now surfacing, giving off the faint smell of putrefaction. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“No?” He moved so close they were face to face, barely breathing room between them since they were much of a height. “Then let me refresh your memory. A little moon, not much to look at, at least from space, but our home. A’course, someone had a sense of humour when they named it, but we liked it. Sweetwater.”
“My God …” Zoe felt her own heart skip a beat.
Boone smiled, glacier cold. “Ah. I see you remember.”
“Zo?” Freya wasn’t accusing, just questioning.
Boone stepped away, moving to sit on one of the crates. “I see you haven’t told your friends about it.”
“It was a long time ago.” Zoe consciously smoothed out her breathing.
“Not for us. For us, it’s like yesterday. Coming in from the factories, finding them like that …”
“Get your hands off me!” Hank appeared at the top doorway, manhandled through.
“He was in the engine room, Boone,” one of the men said.
“Bring him down here.”
Hank pulled himself free. “I can walk by myself.” He hurried down the stairs, going towards Zoe until he saw the look on her face. “Honey, you okay?”
“Ah, the husband.” Boone clapped his hands together. “I take it he doesn’t know either.”
“Doesn’t know? Doesn’t know what?” Hank looked from one to the other.
“Just what your wife used to get up to.”
“I don’t need to know.”
“Really. About her history as a Dust Devil.”
Hank’s jaw dropped as Zoe said, “It never came up.”
Boone laughed. “I’d say it has now.”
“You’re lying.” Hank shook his head, then looked at Zoe. “Tell him he’s got it wrong.” When she didn’t respond, he insisted, “Tell him!”
He felt his knees start to buckle. “Zoe …”
“How touching.” Boone twitched a data chip from his breast pocket, placing it carefully on the crate next to him. “Watch that,” he advised. “It will show you. In all its gore.”
“Zoe?” Hank had gone pale.
She wouldn‘t look at him, her gaze on Boone. “You were building skiffs. For the Alliance.”
“So were a lot of other factories. And our families weren’t part of it.”
“Our information told us -”
Boone was immediately on his feet. “The war was over!”
“Not for us.”
Hank stared at Zoe, then at Freya. The look on her face made him swallow hard, even as he noticed the blood on her lip. “You knew about this,” he said, his voice hoarse.
“She didn’t know anything,” Zoe said quickly, seeing Boone’s hand move towards the gun on his hip.
The other two men hurried in from the common area, coming to something of a confused halt. “Boone?” one of them asked.
“Did you find anyone else?”
“Yeah, but –“
“Why didn’t you bring them here, Kelly?” Boone let his anger out at the other man.
“Well, the feller’s up to his elbows in some guy’s chest, and the girl with him refused to leave.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Kelly shrugged. “A doctor or medic, or something. He’s operating, and ... Boone, you should’ve seen what –“
“Fine.” Boone turned back, ignoring him. His gaze fixed on Zoe again. “So, here we are.”
“You’re the last.”
Zoe wished it hadn’t, but something was tickling her memory from a few months back, a rumour from a friend of a friend. “You killed MacLean. And his wife.”
Boone shrugged. “He wouldn’t talk.”
“She wasn’t a Dust Devil! He only met her a few years ago, and from what I heard someone tortured her!”
The man at Boone’s side stirred uncomfortably. “Yes. That was ... that was bad. I’m sorry –“
“It was necessary,” Boone interrupted. “He wouldn’t tell me where you were.”
“He didn’t know,” Zoe ground out.
“So I discovered. But he did give me your name.” He waved his hand dismissively. “Anyway, what about our wives? Our families? You slaughtered them!”
“We were told they were collaborators.”
“And, how, exactly, did that work? You think we offered our services to the Alliance? You think we had a choice?”
“I’m sorry. It isn’t enough, but for what it’s worth, I’m truly sorry.”
“You know, it’s not worth a damn thing.” He drew his gun.
Zoe tensed. “Then let them go.” She nodded towards Hank and Freya. “They don’t know anything. Let them go and I’ll come with you. You can do what you want with me. But my family goes free.”
“Your family? You think?” Boone grinned, and the madness that had been inflicted on him shone through. He pointed at Freya. “And she’s not even surprised.”
“I’m not.” Freya spoke quietly. “But it was a long time ago.”
“Not when I wake up every morning to hear my daughter calling out for her daddy. And if you know what this hu li jing was, and did nothing, then you’re as responsible as she is.” He aimed at Freya but looked at and spoke to Zoe. “Let’s see how you like watching her all die in front of you.”
A shot rang through the superstructure.
to be continued
Monday, March 16, 2009 8:20 AM
Monday, March 16, 2009 10:03 AM
Monday, March 16, 2009 10:25 AM
Monday, March 16, 2009 11:30 AM
Monday, March 16, 2009 2:38 PM
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