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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"Gabriel unveils his plan to General Franks. River and Natalie discover that liberating Serenity is the easy part as Simon fights to save the Captain's life. Meanwhile Minister Rosenbaum's ambition runs into an unexpected hitch."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1083 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "ALL FALL DOWN"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Kaylee/Simon. Mal/Inara.
STATUS: Sequel to "EVERYONE'S A HERO".
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at Fireflyfans.net
SUMMARY: "Gabriel unveils his plan to General Franks. River
and Natalie discover that liberating Serenity is the easy part as
Simon fights to save the Captain's life. Meanwhile Minister
Rosenbaum's ambition runs into an unexpected hitch."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
"ALL FALL DOWN"
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
Even though she was with Wash, Kaylee couldn't stop trembling. She was frightened. Anxiously waiting to hear from the Captain, for him to tell them the coast was clear, but there was no sign just the occasional echo of movement as if the ship was being searched. Wash clutched her arm. Kaylee stared into his faceplate. "*Shenme*?"
"*Fang xin*, Kaylee. Mal has a plan, *jide*?"
Kaylee wasn't comforted. Not that she didn't have full faith in her Captain it was just that things rarely worked out the way they ought to. Not his fault that the 'verse was tweaked that way but it did make their lives more interesting than she liked. "Why ain't we heard nothin', Wash? Should'a heard gunfire or an explosion or somesuch..."
The pilot put a hand up, stopping her mid-sentence. His eyes widened and Kaylee held her breath the better to hear any extraneous sounds beyond her EVA suit. It sounded like a dull clanging, a distant hatch perhaps? A slow smile spread across her face then the emergency lights flickered and went out. Panic crowded in her belly, rose up and trapped air in her lungs, bile gathering in the back of her gorram throat. She wanted to wail and seek reassurance from Wash but he had moved out of reach and she was too frightened to move without being able to see where she was going. Shrinking back Kaylee tried to make herself real small, bending her knees and sliding down the wall until she was crouched down on the floor.
General Franks stared at Gabriel Tam. Really. Times like this his extensive vocabulary could not do the man justice. In English *or* Chinese.
"In my time I have accused you of many things Gabriel but being a monumentally *yu ben de hundan* isn't one of them."
"You know I'm right."
Franks huffed in frustration, his voice hissing out through gritted teeth as he brought his face within inches of Gabriel Tam's. "How dare you bring your idiotically suicidal ideas into my house, you *wang en fu yi sha gua*!"
His friend broke into a grin and just smiled at him. Franks huffed again, spun round and slammed his fist into the nearest wall. Gabriel winced in sympathy and lost the smile but he was watching the General like a hawk, waiting for him to realise it really was that serious.
Shaken by everything he had heard, Franks sighed heavily and walked to a cabinet, carefully opening the marquetry door with his left hand. This was where he kept the best whiskey. A triple malt, thirty years old, and more expensive than gold. For a moment he gazed without seeing then mentally shaking himself he reached for the cut glass decanter and poured two glasses, silently handing the first one to Gabriel before picking up the other glass. Gabriel Tam felt a mite chastened. He had not meant to upset his old friend nor to bring trouble to his door but what was friendship for if you couldn't rely on it when everything around you was falling to gorram pieces?
"If you do this, Gabriel, you will be the most hunted man in the 'verse."
Gabriel swirled the amber liquid slowly around in the bottom of his glass, the first sip already coating his throat with a silky almost honeyed warmth. Would that he could climb in that decanter and never crawl out again. It would make life so much simpler and he would at least die a happy man. But there were rights to wrong and scores to settle and being unable to do the former he was turning all his attention to the latter. "Do you think I am not hunted now?" He said quietly.
Gabriel Tam shook his head and interrupted. "*Ting*. My son and daughter are 'fugitives from Alliance justice', their names posted on every cortex screen and in every skyplex in the system. Troops came to my house, my HOUSE Dominic, armed and looking to arrest myself and Regan. Only through the good offices of someone I cannot name did we have sufficient warning to flee or we would have been captured and I do not need to tell you what our fate would have been." He paused, sadness and anger at war on his face, his eyes becoming suspiciously moist. "Yet that isn't the worst of it, old friend. When they couldn't find us they rounded up my medical staff, those that tried to argue or resist were killed on the spot. Can you imagine that? KILLED for nothing more than wanting to know why they were under arrest, what crime they had committed. The statute on being in the wrong place at the wrong time has no time limit it seems and even having done that they were not satisfied. My house and the medical centre were destroyed, Dominic, and what little was left was burnt to ash."
"It's not your fault but it is mine."
General Franks thought he had mishead. "*Shenme*?"
"If I had listened to my son when he frist tried to tell me something was wrong, that River was in trouble, maybe I could have done something. Put a halt to what was happening and prevented all the madness that followed."
The General held his tongue not wanting to point out that Gabriel had been part of the original programme. His research being the groundwork for a lot of what came after. Work that had so impressed the men at the top that the Blue Sun Corporation had become interested and taken it out of Alliance hands. The research went underground and was developed in ways Gabriel had never imagined possible. Oh, he had dreamed of artificial intelligence. What scientist hadn't? Had dreamed of using technology in medicine that made nanites poor cousins to what followed. What doctor of merit wouldn't welcome such a thing if it could be controlled and used with the kind of precision they anticipated? They had gone from being on the verge of recreating or mending every organ in the body to replacing them in their entirety. It was thrilling and chilling. Artificial Intelligence through the back door, he now realised. Yet at what cost?
"You cannot approach him directly, you know that?"
"He may still be partly human but the artificial elements make him formidable and he will see your attack coming long before you can be ready with your defence."
Gabriel Tam's lips flattened into a hard unforgiving line. "He won't see this coming."
Gabriel Tam emptied his glass and proceeded to tell General Franks what he was planning. By the time he had finished the General had a stunned expression on his face. He stared hard at the man before him, a man given to passionate verbal debate and sometimes angry outbursts but whose idea of violence was to rant and rave then walk away. Direct action of this kind was something so alien to the man's nature Franks had trouble grasping the enormity of the change. The part of him that admired Gabriel for taking such a stand was also the part that could see no way for the plan to succeed, or even if by some miracle it did, for Gabriel Tam to survive the outcome.
"Suicide." He murmured softly, a hint of awe in his voice.
His friend's eyes glowed a little, whether with anticipation or excitement at the risk he could not tell but if this was to be successful Gabriel Tam needed help. And General Franks was the only one who could give it to him.
He couldn't breathe. Not properly. Vision gone, the sensation in his body detached, hearing fading out like the batteries dying in an old radio or somesuch. Malcolm Reynolds was dizzy, body too heavy and weak to fight. Eyes closed and head aching so gorram fiercely he feared it would split clear apart. Pain so sluggish yet spreading, blocking out everything as he drowned in his own rutting blood. Or so it seemed. He couldn't think. The ability to work out what was happening taken from him, his mind siezing up along with his labouring heart. Could almost feel the slow heavy drag of heartbeat on heartbeat. Kind'a clouded everything messed up in his brainpan. Didn't connect that he was dying. Nothing made no sense and he was so gorram tired.
Losing consciousness was a mercy. A small act of grace he would have applauded had he the wit to do so. His attacker straightened, satisfied that Captain Reynolds was beyond recovery and moved on. If one man was on board there might be others. His colleague moved off in another direction, mounting the staircase and checking out every room one by one. A noise had him pausing, rod in hand and a look of query on his face. As one they converged on the airlock then took up position either side of it. With a groan of protesting metal there was a hiss and the hatch swung open but no one stepped through.
For several seconds the two men did not move. When nothing happened they exchanged a look and stepped inside the airlock, their small wands ready to activate. As the second man stepped through he was helped along and stumbled into his colleague. The loud clang behind them had both men turning to the hatch in time to see it close and glimpse a helmet through the small diamond shaped viewing window. A face grinned back at them then River's gloved hand waved good-bye. "*Bu bi hua dianhua*!"
Trying to unlock the hatch another sound made their scramble to get out more anxious, the first and only time River Tam ever saw any of the 'hands of blue' lose their composure. Both men could hear and feel the pressure changing, the air being vented then the outer hatch opening to the Black. At first they assumed they could simply return to their shuttle but River had already thought of that. The vessel was no longer attached and too far away for them to get to before the vacuum of space sucked them out and ended them.
Natalie wanted to hurry to check on the others and River urged her to go. She wanted to stay a moment longer, watch as her tormentors died. Needed to be sure there was no last minute rescue. Only when it was done did River let go of their minds having seen the blood vessels burst in their heads along with their vital organs. Squish. The satisfaction of knowing they would never hurt anyone again marred by something tugging at her mind and jerking her back to the other part of her mission. River didn't hear the life support come back on line but knew the instant they had oxygen flowing back through the ship. With a little cry of anguish she took off her helmet and let it fall to the deck, her feet breaking into a run as she pulled off her gloves and dropped them, Simon's name on her lips even though he was not on Serenity and could not help them. Captain daddy! His mind was almost gone, his body failing. As she reached the fallen man, River was vaguely aware of Natalie speaking to Wash and Kaylee, the young mechanic's voice sounding stressed and shaken.
River ignored her friend and closed the last few feet sliding forward on her knees, hands reaching out and mind clawing at the last remnants of sluggish thoughts. Clinging to Captain daddy's mind for all she was worth. Wash's eyes widened, fear pounding the shock through his system and robbing him of his voice until Kaylee's cry got him moving. "*Tianna*!"
Without turning round River told Wash to call for Simon. Wash nodded and raced for the bridge, Kaylee crying and ringing her hands while Natalie knelt on the other side of the Captain, her hands steady as she undid his helmet and gently removed it. Kaylee gasped. Rivulets of blood had run down from the Captain's eyes, ears and nose. The inside of the helmet was fogged up and had hidden his face but now she could see that it was bad.
"Tell me he ain't dead?"
Ignoring the unhelpful question, River just concentrated on the Captain. Mal. Her friend and protector. The daddy that wasn't but could have been. The man who time and again had stood between her and Simon and those that intended them harm. Her hands were soft, small and gentle as she reached for him, her mind easing into a broken landscape that made her heart cry. Thoughts torn from their mental moorings, body shutting down as the commands to keep it going faltered and stopped. Time was running out. River looked up frantically. "Where's Simon?"
Hearing her friend's agonised question, Kaylee slumped on the floor, her eyes big and round and filled with tears. Natalie spared the mechanic a sympathetic glance and began to rise from her knees. "I'll go an' check."
River shook her head. "No need, he's here. Go and meet him, tell him to hurry. We don't have much time."
Her words broke Kaylee's dam, the tears rolling unchecked down her cheeks. The sound of running feet like distant drums, everything remote and unreal except for the terrible nightmare unfolding before her. She barely felt Simon squeeze her shoulder as he passed, then Wash was there and Kaylee couldn't watch any more. Couldn't stand to see the life leak out of the Captain. Zoe's voice was like a lifeline grounding her in the Here and Now but Kaylee took no comfort from it, turning her head to bury her face in Wash's shoulder. Her sobs coming hard and hitching. Wash looked over her head at his wife, their expressions solemn and silent in their shared distress.
By the time Shepherd Book, Paul and Jayne joined them Simon had the Captain laid out flat on his back, Natalie's jacket folded and placed under his head. Zoe had been going to get the stretcher so they could rush the Captain into the infirmary but Book put a gentle hand on her arm and shook his head. Zoe refused to let a single tear fall, wasn't going to think on the Captain not making it. Her voice was terse. "Ain't gonna let him die, Shepherd."
"Neither am I."
The quiet but firm voice of Simon Tam snapped Zoe's head round. Serenity's doctor had his hands on either side of the Captain's face. He had his eyes closed and appeared to be in deep concentration. Frowning, Zoe was about to ask him what the *diyu* he thought he was doing but Natalie spoke up, her eyes glued to the first mate as if by willpower alone she could stop the woman from interferring. "He knows what to do."
She blinked. What the good gorram was the girl talking about? "Cap'n needs medical attention."
River looked up and met Zoe's baffled gaze. "Captain daddy needs Simon."
Jayne frowned as he peered over River's shoulder to see what was happening and why no one was sticking the Captain with needles or asking for blood. "Why ain't he doin't nothin'?"
Shepherd Book clapped a hand on Jayne's shoulder. "I think we should help Kaylee get the ship ready to leave. We don't want to still be here when the Alliance wonder why they've lost contact with their ship."
The mercenary wanted to tell Book he didn't give a rat's ass what the Alliance thought but knew he couldn't do anything to help here and being busy was better than thinking about what was happening right now. It was no secret that he didn't always agree with Mal but he respected him as a Captain, even regarded the man as a friend. With a nod he followed Book and helped to guide a tearful Kaylee to the engine room, the little mechanic looking back over her shoulder every couple of steps until they were out of sight of their fallen Captain.
Minister Rosenbaum carefully hid his anticipation. It would not do to gloat until his new position was proposed then confirmed. Most of the executives he was on first name terms with though he rarely gave anyone that distinction. Titles weren't just a matter of showing respect or acknowledging a person's social status and position, they were also a useful means of keeping people at arm's length without appearing to do so. Unless of course he chose to make the insult obvious. Of course, few would consider it an actual insult and that was their mistake not his.
In the kitchen the waiting staff were setting out trays for the champagne. The best Osiris had to offer. Each magnum carefully chilled to the right temperature. The wine waiters filed in, no one noticing that one was a step behind the rest. His dark hair slicked back, the greying sides unnoticed. Shirt and suit immaculate like the rest, shoes shining white and black like spats. While the waiters opened the bottles and began to pour, the last man carefully placed them on the trays, his left hand fluttering over the glasses as he arranged them before the trays were taken up and whisked away. When the last waiter and tray was through the door, Gabriel Tam managed to slip away, his work done. In an empty back room he quickly changed and combed his hair in a neat parting, a narrow fake moustache fixed carefully above his upper lip. His own suit was a little crumpled but a quick brush down dropped the worst of the creases out of it. If he was a little creased who would know? It was how you acted that mattered. If he appeared to belong there no one would take a second look at him. Not, that is, until it was too late and by then he hoped to be far, far away.
"I don't think I can do this, *mei mei*."
Although Simon's voice was low it carried in the unnatural silence. River shuffled closer to her brother, both of them on their knees beside the Captain. Natalie noticed the Captain's lips were turning blue. Mentally she urged River to hurry.
"You can, Simon." River fixed him with a firm look. "Don't think, do."
Simon broke off as River flooded his mind with mental images, her thoughts explaining in broad strokes and urging him not to hesitate. He could doubt himself afterwards. That almost brought a smile to his lips but then he saw the pitiful state of his patient and all his reluctance vanished. Carefully pushing him onwards, River drew Natalie into the mental link the better to add their strength to Simon's. Following his sister's instructions Simon opened himself up, his mind unlocking and allowing a part of him to function that he had not known existed. Keeping his hands on the Captain's face Simon knew that he needed that physical contact to maintain the link, his mind pushing into the Captain's and his will reorganising disrupted cells and broken pathways. Slowly he cauterised the internal bleeding, repairing the damage with painstaking attention to detail. There could be no room for error.
It was long, demanding work. More tiring for how exacting it was, precision being the key to success. River lent him her strength and Natalie bolstered River's. None of the crew had a clue what the three of them were doing but so critical was the situation that no one was willing to distract Simon for fear that the Captain would suffer the consequences. Simon worked long into the ship's night, Serenity sailing on with her subdued crew unable to rest or sleep until they knew the fate of their Captain. In their wake the Alliance pursuit ship was drifting, the small shuttle spinning slowly away from it. When Simon started work on the Captain, Kaylee had taken Jayne with her to the Alliance ship and made sure there was nothing recorded in the ship's log about Serenity or her crew. Once satisfied, they returned to Serenity and Kaylee gave Wash all the engine boost he needed to get them away from the scene and heading deeper into the Black. When the Alliance retrieved their ship they would be faced with a mystery but nothing to implicate Serenity and her crew.
Shepherd Book took the wave in his bunk. Private. Coded. And beyond surprising. For a long time he stared at the small portable cortex screen. "Oh my."
The masterpiece of understatement was all he could manage as he stared at the bodies lying where they had fallen, the camera panning to ensure he did not miss anything.
The small tinny voice gave no definitive conclusion but the implication was clear. Book's mind was already racing after the hiccough of his initial shock. "Poison."
His contact nodded, face averted so he was only glimpsed in profile as the small hand held camera continued to pan.
"How many dead?"
There was only the smallest pause. "All of them."
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*shenme* = what *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *jide* = remember
*yu ben de hundan* = stupid bastard *wang en fu yi sha gua* = ungrateful idiot
*ting* = listen *wode duibuqi* = I'm sorry *dang ran* = of course *diyu* = hell
*bu bi hua dianhua* = don't bother calling back *tianna* = oh God!
*mei mei* = little sister
Thursday, June 18, 2009 4:43 PM
Thursday, June 18, 2009 7:10 PM
Friday, June 19, 2009 12:41 AM
Friday, June 19, 2009 2:25 AM
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