BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Jericho Wells - Part I
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. A small disaster onboard Serenity has the crew heading for Jericho, and there will be fun and games, I promise! NEW STORY


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2397    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Your Vote Counts!

In this election year, the Allied Planets want to know what you think. On 1st June you will be able to make your views known by voting for one of the officially sanctioned candidates standing for Parliament. They will represent you at the highest level.

There will also be the opportunity to vote for other more local positions, to give you the chance to influence how your planet is run. Local candidates will be holding meetings and you will be able to put any questions to them that you wish (submitted in advance at the relevant Election office at least twenty-one days in advance).

Your election booth will be open from 6.00 am until 11.00 pm, and full instructions on how to vote will be depicted inside.

Good luck!

Issued by the Union of Allied Planets. Voting is mandatory.

---

--

-

A long, drawn-out grind, followed by a sort of twanging sound, then something that appeared to be, at least to most ears, like Vera letting off two full loads. The cacophony filled the Firefly for a moment, then everything went unnaturally quiet.

Almost. Mal swore as he climbed off his bed. “Doc says I gotta take some rest every day on account of my little problem, and then there’s something sounds like my boat’s coming to pieces.” He grabbed his shirt and glanced at Frey’s amused face smiling up at him from the pillow – well, he was feeling much better – and climbed up the ladder to the corridor above, finding his mechanic waddling towards him. “Kaylee, what the tyen shiao duh was that?” he demanded, putting his arms into his sleeves but neglecting to button.

“Nothing to worry about, Cap.”

“You know, I really hate it when you say that. So how come we ain’t moving?”

“Technically, we are, ‘cause our momentum –“

“Kaylee.”

“Well, you remember that secondary grav boot Bester said was shot?” She looked expectantly into his blue eyes.

How could he ever forget the day he picked up the best mechanic in the ‘verse? And got rid of the worst. “Yeah. But it wasn’t.”

“Well, it is now. Gonna need a new one.”

“My boat gonna explode?” He saw her eyes drift towards the still-red scar in the centre of his chest, and hastily did up his shirt.

“Nope. Least, not yet. I can coddle her along on the primary, but we need both.”

“And you can’t fix it?”

“Not this time. We need a replacement, and pretty quick.”

“How quick?”

“Coupla days. Max.”

“Then we explode?”

“Not necessarily. But we’ll be dead in the water, and if we try to go anywhere –“

“We could go out with a bang, yeah, I get the picture. How much?” He was mentally going through the savings.

She shrugged expressively. “Not sure. Maybe we can get a secondhand one as good. The old one wasn’t straight out the factory, that’s for sure.”

He nodded grimly and glanced up at the bridge, where Hank and Zoe were standing at the top of the stairs, having heard the commotion and the voices after. “Nearest landfall with a decent chance of supply.”

Hank considered a moment. “Jericho,” he finally said. “There’s a dozen towns, but the main one’s called Jericho Wells, on account of the water they found deep underground. I’ve been there once, and there’s a pretty good scrapyard by the main dock.”

“How far?”

“Five hours at burn.”

Kaylee took an ungainly step forward. “Can’t go to burn,” she said apologetically. “Half power if we’re lucky.”

“Then a day,” Hank revised.

“Lay in a course,” Mal ordered.

“On it.” His pilot disappeared back onto the bridge.

“You gonna need help keeping us going, xiao mei-mei?” Mal asked Kaylee, his hand on her arm.

She nodded. “I gotta watch the temperature gauges, and the elevation levels, and the designers of Serenity ain't exactly put them together. And it don’t take into account the fact I need to pee all the time.”

Mal winced slightly at her frankness, then looked at Freya, who had climbed the ladder after him. “Can you help?”

“Of course.” She smiled. “I can do whatever Kaylee tells me to. And you can get back to that rest you were supposed to be having.” She grinned at the mechanic then meandered towards the engine room, stopping en route to pick up one of the sugar sticks from the pot on the kitchen counter and sucking it thoughtfully.

“What kinda rest is that, Cap?” Kaylee asked, her eyes shining with mischief.

“The kind I ain’t gonna get without Freya next to me,” he said bluntly, glaring at her.

“That’s sweet,” Kaylee beamed.

“You gonna be able to get her going again?” At Kaylee’s delighted look he expanded, “Serenity, I mean, as you well know.”

“Sure. Quicker’n a wink. The engine shut down when the grav boot went … it’s something I been working on, trying to limit any damage if we get hit by an EMP again, but as long as I'm gentle with her, we should be shiny.”

“Well, good. But how come this keeps happening?” Mal demanded.

“’Cause we’re always playing catch-up, Cap,” Kaylee explained, as patiently as she could.

“That doesn’t –“

“And you don’t spend money on a new part when a secondhand’ll do.”

“I spend what I can!”

“Well, sometimes it ain’t enough.”

He took a deep breath, trying one of the calming exercises Freya had taught him, not wanting to put any more strain on his heart than he needed. “Kaylee, it ain’t like I do this on purpose. If I had more money, I’d make Serenity as spick as I could.”

“Freya might have … you know … being a Rostov n’all …”

“No, she ain’t! She’s a Reynolds. Now and always. And no matter how much I get on okay with her bro, I ain’t being beholden to him or anyone. And neither is she. What if it gets back to the Alliance somehow? And I don’t just mean it might put her in danger, but your Simon, River, not to mention Bethie and … No, Kaylee. We’ll make do. We always have. If it comes to it, we’ll tighten our belts a bit, maybe look for some nice crime needs doing. But I ain't begging for hand-outs.”

“Then what about Dillon? Cap, I ain’t asking for me, but there’s stuff needs doing, and if we don’t have the coin –“

“We’ve got coin, Kaylee.” He knew he sounded harsher than he intended, interrupting her like he had, but he was getting pretty sick of bits falling off his boat all the time. “We got a good deal on that stuff we had stashed at the Arachnids, your other half got his scanner … we got coin, mei-mei. We don’t need to go cap in hand to anyone.”

She nodded. She knew what he was saying, and agreed with it, but it was hard sometimes to make things last, and it would be nice, just sometimes, to have a brand new, still shiny-off-the-shelf part or two. “Okay.”

Mal felt guilty, as he always did, because her sunshine was diminished slightly. “Look, I’ll think on it, okay? Maybe Dillon can put us in the way of some cheap parts.” At her surprised and excited look he added quickly, “Not saying he can, and I’m meaning to pay for ‘em. Well, mostly, anyway. But there might be a way we can get you some spares.”

Her grin was sunlight personified. “Xie-xie, Captain!” She kissed his cheek and fairly skipped down the steps and back through the kitchen, or at least as much as an eight month pregnant woman could skip. Which, because it was Kaylee, was pretty well.

He heard Zoe’s footfalls behind him as she walked down from the bridge. “Do we have enough cash on hand?” she asked, keeping her voice low.

“We got some. Maybe not as much as I’d like, but we might be able to make a deal with the scrapyard.”

“And what were you planning on selling, sir?”

He turned towards her, pushing his shirt into his pants. “Not exactly selling. More like … bartering.”

Her eyebrow raised. “And that’s better … how?”

“We’ve got all that crap in the hold from the last job you and Jayne pulled. It’s not doing much else but cluttering up my ship, and nobody seems inclined to buy it. But maybe we can swap it for stuff we need.”

“And if we can’t?”

“You ever been to Jericho, Zoe?” Mal asked, apparently changing the subject.

“No, sir. I haven’t.” She waited, knowing he had more to say.

“Me neither. Not likely to be going back.”

“Probably not, sir.”

“You’re calling me ‘sir’ a lot,” he pointed out.

“Just wondering what’s brewing in that brain of yours. Sir.”

“I've heard tell Jericho Wells is pretty wealthy. For a place this far out, at least. Which means they have banks. And banks have vaults.”

“So you’re planning to rob the place.”

“Thinking on it, Zoe. Thinking on it.” He smiled, then headed for the kitchen to pour himself a mug of what was currently passing for coffee.

His first mate watched him, her lips pursed thoughtfully.

---

“It ain't gonna be hard,” Kaylee said, easing her back slightly after having to lean over various things to get Serenity’s heart turning again, which it was now doing. Nearing the end of her pregnancy meant she was aching pretty much all the time, and what with the pressure on her bladder, she didn’t like being in any one position for too long.

“Sit,” Freya ordered. “You can point and yell at me just as easily from your hammock.”

Kaylee grinned, and lowered herself carefully onto the striped fabric. “Don’t know how this ain’t split, the amount of weight I've put on.”

“That’s because you’re carrying a boy,” Freya said, smiling herself. “Boys are greedy.”

“Is that it? Was it heavier carrying Ethan than Jesse?” She picked up a wrench that had been on the hammock and had slid half under her as she sat down.

Freya thought for a moment, then shrugged. “Well, no. So I suppose I'm making a generalisation. The truth is, I put on such a huge amount of weight that I couldn’t sit on Mal’s lap from about the third month.”

“Now I know that ain’t the truth.” Kaylee giggled. “Came across you on the bridge about six months in carrying Ethan, and it weren't the Cap’s lap you were sitting on.”

Freya turned an interesting shade of pale pink, and wondered if she’d ever get over her prudish streak. Probably not. “Anyway, which is the grav boot?” she asked, trying to change the subject.

“Oh. Um, it’s …” Kaylee pointed with the wrench. “That. Underneath. Just in front of the port pin lock.”

“Kaylee, honey, I don’t know what that is either.”

“Right hand side. Sorta cylindrical.”

Freya bent down and peered into Serenity’s working parts. “Ah. Yes, I think I see it.” She looked up. “What does it do?”

“It supports the …” Kaylee shook her head. “Well, it ain’t doing nothing at the moment, but … you sure you wanna know?”

“No, not really. I'm much more of the ‘you tell me what to do and I’ll do it’ sort of assistant. Absolutely no point in explaining to me why something works.”

“Yeah.”

“Except when it doesn’t.”

“Um, no.”

Freya looked at Kaylee, but the young woman wouldn’t meet her eyes. Something else was going on here, and as much as she felt the urge, she wasn’t going to look.

That didn’t mean she couldn’t ask, though.

“So. Kaylee. Want to tell me the real reason the grav boot gave up right now?”

Kaylee gave a start, dropping her wrench with a clang onto the floor. “Real reason?” she asked.

Freya smiled and picked up the tool, placing it on the workbench. “Yes. The real reason.”

Kaylee’s eyes dropped to her swollen stomach, and she put her hands around it protectively. “Did I say there was another reason? ‘Sides the one I gave?”

“Kaylee. Tell me. I won’t be mad. Mal wouldn’t, either, but … you have to tell someone.”

For a long moment Kaylee didn’t answer, then she sighed, heavily and with extreme meaning. “I … well …”

“Come on,” Freya said, sitting down on the swinging hammock and slipping her arm around the mechanic’s shoulders. “’Fess up.”

“It might have something to do with me being pregnant n’all,” Kaylee finally murmured.

“What kind of something?”

Kaylee looked up. “Well, see, I've been working on something might be just the answer to what Mal asked me, as in how to make Serenity EMP-proof.”

“That’s a good idea, but it still doesn’t explain –“

“I've been playing around with different kindsa shielding. I built a little engine, just a small one, mainly just sensors my girl let me have, and I made a little EMP generator, bit like a gun. Just for testing.” She seemed disinclined to go on.

“And?”

“Well, I …” She took a deep breath. “I had some flux in a jar on top of my workbench, heating through so I could do a little sealing when I’d finished,” she said quickly, as if she was going to swallow the words otherwise. “And I was just about to try out this new shielding matrix and I turned, my belly caught the flux, I stepped back to avoid being burned by it as it fell, the EMP gun was in my hand, I squeezed, and …” She stopped.

“And the pulse hit the grav boot, knocking it out.”

“It’s only localised,” Kaylee explained quickly. “I kept the frequency low so’s it wouldn’t damage anything else, but I guess the grav boot wasn’t exactly in the best of health and it … died.”

“And you really can’t fix it.”

“Frey, I fixed it four times already. I think it was seriously sick.”

Freya nodded. “Did you burn yourself?”

“Nah,” Kaylee said, trying to see past her belly to her feet. “I think I might’ve gotten a hole in my coveralls, but that’s about it.”

“Good. Can’t have you getting hurt.” She squeezed her arm, letting Kaylee know it was all right. “But from now on, I think you’d better put off your experiments until you’ve given birth.”

“But Mal said –“

“I don’t care what Mal said. If he complains, send him to me.”

“Yeah, but he might like that.”

Freya smiled, knowing Kaylee was beginning to cheer up again. “I dare say he would. But we can’t have you putting yourself in the way of things for the time being. River and I will take over, and you can supervise.”

“But –“

“No buts, Kaylee. You’ve only got a few weeks to go, and we all know second babies can decide to put in an early appearance. Now Mal promised to get you to Phoros to be with your folks when your time’s due, but he won’t want you turning up with holes burned in you. Your coveralls we can mend – you’re not quite so easy.”

“Simon’s a good doctor,” Kaylee pointed out.

“Oh, I know that. One of the best. But let’s not put it to the test too often, shall we?”

Kaylee gazed at her friend, and nodded slowly. “Okay.”

“Good girl.” Freya got up. “Right. What are these gauges I need to keep an eye on?”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 3:08 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


"Voting is mandatory" So Alliance....

I loved the fact Frey and Kaylee fixing on Serenity. Frey with her complete lack of knowledge assisting...reminded me of how I feel when I help fix my car....Anyway, not sure how Jericho is gonna go, but with Mal at the helm, it will definitely not go without a few hitches.....here's to those hitches.....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 4:18 AM

KATESFRIEND


Glad to see the start of this so soon! Very interesting. Loved the explanation of the finances, it made the feel of the story so much like the series. Loved loved Kaylee's explanation of the grav boot failure - so cute and so much like her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 6:26 AM

WAKEUPSOON


So .. Kaylee .. gotta love her. She was trying to help, lol. xD
Anna.x.(:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 12:38 PM

AMDOBELL


I loved how Frey got Kaylee to 'fess up though I don't like the notion of Mal wanting to rob a bank on Jericho to fund repairs. That is so not going to be a cake walk! Very impressed with how quickly you got the first chapter of this new story up and running. Can't wait for more. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 12:47 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Good chapter, can't wait to see what's coming next.

And voting is mandatory, huh, and questions are submitted in advance. Sounds like one or two places I know on Earth that Was.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 11:09 AM

FREEVERSE


Jane,

All kinds of trouble brewing, and Kaylee's baby likely to come into the middle of it. I've been remiss in commenting, lurker that I am--thank you for the ongoing arc! I'm enjoying your Castle fic as well. Off to look hungrily for updates! How did you get ahold of the series in the UK?
~freeverse

Monday, April 27, 2009 6:31 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Gotta say...that's SO totally Mal, the "we ain't going cap in hand to no one!" attitude he shows Kaylee when she's discussing parts and repairs. Guess marriage and fatherhood (from what I recall of the Mal/Freya stories I have read and inferences made here) can't completely stomp out Mal's pigheadedness, huh?

;)


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