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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
As the crew rests and heals, Shin and his confederates take a step closer to power, and Mal faces a new, deadly dilemma.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 969 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Author's note: Sorry for the delay in posting this. Too much to do, no time to do it.
River’s Run – Part 17
Mal had been in pain many times in the last few months. A grenade fragment in the shoulder in the moon attack, bullet in the thigh on Greenleaf, that just missed a very vital organ, and two grazes, one in the head from Derek Bowen and one in the left arm from the recent Alliance attack on Serenity. On top of that were the many bumps and bruises in the many battles they had been in, the worst being the knock on the head from a Reaver on Miranda. But none of that prepared him for the Chinese guard’s electro-shock stick, which paralyzed him and brought on unimaginable agony, all his nerve endings on fire, his wet body and the water on the shower room floor no doubt increasing the potency of the charge. Mal could barely move, the huge bulk of the dieing Big Pete on top of him, his blood flowing everywhere. As the guard laughed and moved in for another attack there was a shout.
“What the hell is all this gorramn shit?” the second guard yelled as ran over and then started shouting into a comm device. “Prisoner injured, shower room, send medical help and extra units now!”
“What the hell happened?” the second guard said to the Chinese guard.
“They were fighting. Reynolds stabbed this one.”
Mal couldn’t even speak, the shock knocking the energy right out of him. As the second guard started to push Big Pete off of him, Mal saw the Chinese guard slip toward the door as more people rushed in, and then the guard looked at Mal and grinned and was gone.
Serenity was in stationary position in the middle of nowhere, hiding from the verse and all those that were looking for her. The old Firefly was full of broken bits and burn marks and busted lights and controls, but her healer was not even thinking of patching up the lady she usually lavished so much love on. Kaylee had other worries, her father lying unconscious in the infirmary, recently shot in the chest. She sat with her father on one side as Mary sat nearby and Simon checked his vitals.
“No change,” Simon said.
“That’s good, right?” Kaylee replied in worry.
“Yes,” her husband said with a reassuring look. “No change is good. Pulse and blood pressure steady, O2 stats normal. He’ll pull through.”
“That’s good,” said Zoe from the doorway. “Kaylee, need a word.”
Kaylee hesitated a moment and then left her father’s side and joined Zoe in the passenger lounge. Kaylee saw the bandages on Zoe’s arm and knew there was another one on her ribs under her shirt and Kaylee felt concerned for her.
“How are you?”
“Never mind me. How’s the boat?’ Zoe asked right away, a stern look to her face.
“Ah…she’s…ah, I don’t know,” Kaylee said and she felt embarrassed having to admit this to Zoe.
“Then best you find out and straighten her out,” Zoe said in a commanding tone and Kaylee felt a touch of anger, a strange feeling for her.
“I’ve been busy, if you can’t see,” she said, nodding toward the infirmary.
“Look, I know you’re worried for him,” Zoe began, her tone a bit softer. “But nothing you can do for him that Simon and Mary can’t handle. Now the boat ain’t in top shape. We’ve had grenade blasts inside and EMP flooding the ship and an EMP weapon that sucks too much juice when used. I need it all straightened out or next time we maybe ain’t so lucky.”
“Sorry, Zoe, just…”
“I understand. But do your job, or all of us might pay the price.”
Kaylee nodded, knowing Zoe was right. “Okay, I’ll get my tools. Might need some help.”
“I’ll help,” said River coming from the passenger room areas, limping on her injured leg.
“You’re hurt,” Kaylee said, looking at River’s bandaged leg exposed in a slit in River’s dress.
“I can hand you tools, hold things,” River answered. “It’s not so bad.”
“Good,” Zoe said. “I’ll leave you two to it. You need a hand, pass the word.”
With that Zoe turned and went off up the stairs next to the infirmary to the upper deck.
“She’s in command now, Kaylee,” River said. “That's why she is being so stern.”
“I know, just wish the Capt’n was here,” Kaylee replied sadly. Then she looked at River’s clothing. “You need a pair of coveralls if you’re going to help.”
After a quick look at her father and a kiss for Simon, she and River went off to get River some work clothes and to fix all that needed fixing.
“I’d say ten percent will do nicely,” Jayne said forcefully to Gabriel Tam as they sat at the dining table.
“That is out of the question,” Gabriel said with equal force.
“I made a deal with your son,” Jayne snarled.
“The terms of that deal were not fixed. And Wash and Zoe were part of that deal. I negotiate with all three or none.”
“Let them negotiate their own payment. We found River, she’s alive and you all are reunited. Deal was completed, except for the payment.”
“Let it be, Jayne. Ain’t we got enough headaches?” Zoe said as she came in from the aft hallway, hearing the last of the conversation. She went to the food prep area to fix herself some coffee.
“No rutting way,” said Jayne. “Money’s here, time to pay up.”
“And where you gonna spend it?” Zoe asked.
“Ain’t the point,’ Jayne said. “Deal’s a deal.”
“Ten thousand now, more later,” Gabriel said, softening his tone a bit.
Jayne snorted. “Ten thousand? That’s a trickle in a piss pot compared to what’s in them black cases.”
“And half of that money is mine,” Inara said sternly as she came in from the fore hallway and went to make some tea. “You have no stake in my money, Jayne Cobb.”
“I thought the money was for…,” Jayne started to say then changed tactics. “But Mal said we was gonna use…,” and once again he knew it was wrong and then just looked at Gabriel. “I’ll take that ten thousand for now.”
“No,” Zoe said, as she sat down. “The money is for us, all of us. To last until this mess is over, for whatever we need to do to set the captain free and make things right. And that includes whatever stash is left over from those banks on Earth, Jayne. Don’t you think I forgot about that for a moment.”
“It’s still there, in the…place. Ain’t no one will take them gems and jewels for cash now anyways,” Jayne answered. ‘Unless Alliance cancelled that warning about stolen jewelry.”
“Can’t take the chance,” Zoe said and then looked from Inara to Gabriel. “I know that you earned that money, but right now you are in this fix with us, so calling some money yours and some money his and squabbling over debts ain’t going to do us no good.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Inara said with slight indignation, then calmed down. “It’s just with Powers dead, and Mal in jail, what now?’ Inara said in a worried tone. “The money was supposed to be to help find a way to get rid of Shin, to take our lives back, if that is even possible. Now we are all wanted again. We can’t even land anywhere to re-supply. The whole galaxy is looking for us.”
“There’s places,” Zoe said confidently. “But Londinium ain’t one of them.”
“You got into Sihnon and out to save me,” Inara said, still shuddering at the thought of being almost thrown off that balcony.
“That was lucky,” Zoe replied. “And Londinium is the center of the Alliance government and military.”
Just then Wash entered from the fore hall. “You all better come take a look at the news.”
“What’s going on?” Inara asked in a worried tone.
“Mal just made headlines. Fact is, we all did.”
“EARTH CONTACTED BY SERENITY!!” ran the big headline across the Cortex screens that all the monitors on the bridge were tuned into. The whole crew and all passengers except Simon and Jonathan were here, looking and listening in amazement as the highlights of their adventures for the last few months were broadcast across the galaxy.
“Gorramnit!” Jayne snarled. “Why Mal have to go shoot his big mouth off?!?”
“It’s a defensive strategy,” River said.
“To prove he wasn’t here when the so–called rebellion began,’ Inara answered. “At least we know he’s alive.”
“Yes,” said Gabriel. “And look who his lawyer is.”
“Is that….?” Regan started to say and then looked at her husband in shock.
“It’s her husband!” Kaylee said in equal surprise. “He’s one who married us!”
“Thomas Blakely,” Gabriel said and then they all listened in stunned silence to a news broadcast Blakely gave hours earlier which was just reaching this part of the galaxy. Blakely sat at a table surrounded by a sea of microphones and recording devices, as he spoke.
“The rumors that Malcolm Reynolds has been taken prisoner are true. He is being held in a nearby facility, where exactly, I cannot disclose. I am his legal consul.”
Shouts and pandemonium followed and Blakely sat serenely quiet as questions were yelled at him. Finally, after the reporters realized he wouldn’t speak unless they calmed down, some sense of normalcy returned.
“I have taken his case since I believe he had nothing to do with my wife’s death and the attack on the Parliament building. Malcolm Reynolds was no where near Londinium when this attack took place and wasn’t even in the galaxy when the new rebellion began.”
“Was Serenity really to Earth and back?’ someone shouted and Blakely looked sternly in that direction and then decided to answer.
“Mr. Reynolds gave me an account of his whereabouts for the last four years. Our conversation was recorded by the prison authorities, contrary to law, and released to the media. All that was reported is the truth as Malcolm Reynolds told me.” More pandemonium followed this comment and then Blakely stood and tried to leave, surrounded by reporters.
“He’s lying,” Inara said confidently. “I looked at his eyes. They squinted when he told about the recording.”
“He made the recording,” said Zoe. “He gave it to the press.”
“More about Earth,” Wash said and then they all went quiet as a reporter spoke.
An elderly man, a reporter, was asking people on the streets of Londinium what they thought.
“If these reports of Earth’s dilemma are true, then we need to go there and save those people,” said one woman.
“That’s the birthplace of humanity,” said a man in Chinese. “We should return, make contact.”
“We need to find Serenity or build more of those ships and return to Earth,” said an older woman. “It’s the only way.”
“To hell with Earth!’ said a young man with many tattoos and piercings. “We got enough problems right here! Shin is trying to take over! He killed the prime minister! The rebellion is a sham! Malcolm Reynolds is a hero! Free Malcolm Reynolds! Free Malcolm Reynolds!”
He chanted and danced on the streets and more young people joined him and soon hundreds of people were chanting “Free Malcolm Reynolds” through the streets of Londinium.
Inara beamed with joy and everyone looked in awe at each other.
“What in the gorramn hell is going to happen next?” Jayne said, voicing what they all thought.
“This is a disaster, Shin,” said an elderly admiral as the military men sat in an emergency conference in fleet HQ.
“Reports are coming in from all over,” said General MacCready. “The people are growing restless and want answers about this report of Serenity and Earth.”
“We want answers!” said another general.
Shin just stared at them impassively for a long moment and then spoke. “It’s all true,” and they were too stunned to speak for a while.
“How?” someone finally asked.
“Exactly how the reports described, a wormhole, I’m sure, but the details I do not know. Cutter had interrogated Kaylee Frye’s father and got the truth from him. Reynolds’ story confirms it.”
“Blakely leaked that information,” MacCready growled.
“And do you expect me to arrest or shoot the widower of the Prime Minister?” Shin said with disdain. “Blakely can’t be touched. Let him be.”
“And Reynolds? People are starting to think he is some kind of gorramn hero, leading the first expedition to Earth in 500 years,” the admiral said in disgust.
“He is a criminal and nothing more. We have plenty to charge him with, even if ‘rebel leader’ will no longer stick,” Shin replied. “He will have his day in court and be hanged.”
“And the rest of our plan?” someone else asked. "it depended on Reynolds confessing to being the rebel leader!”
“Circumstances have changed, so our plan must change. The protest has already started. The police forces are already moving into place. The streets of Londinium will soon run red with blood. Then we will call for marshal law.”
The young man with the tattoo’s and piercing led a crowd of thousands now and they ran through the streets of the capital. Alcohol and drugs appeared and fueled the mob and soon they were tearing down street signs, smashing shop windows, and bedlam was the order of the day. After an hour of this the police forces moved in. Rubber bullets, mixed with some real ones, were fired, tear gas rained down, batons were swung and when it was all over hours later as night fell, thirteen protesters and two policemen were dead. The images were broadcast throughout the galaxy and the media members in Shin’s pocket began calling for marshal law.
“I’m impressed,” said the Operative from a police HQ Cortex screen in a private office in Ariel City.
“Not my idea,” Shin said on the fast Cortex link up. “As soon as the first news leaked your brethren set the plan in motion. The leader of the protest was one of yours.”
“And that other problem you had before?”
“One other of your brethren was not so thorough. He missed his chance.”
“To kill Reynolds?”
“I will do it.”
“No, I have another task for you.”
The Operative grinned. “Of course, River Tam is the prime target.”
Shin shook his head. “Do not be distracted by your one failure to let the big picture out of sight. Serenity and all the other FTL ships made by Jamison Metal Works will be ours. The colonel on site has all the ship’s names and captains and we will soon track them down. The other ship at the works is almost ready.”
“I am leaving shortly for Hera,” he answered.
“This River Tam business is secondary now,” Shin said in a stern manner. “Her secrets about Miranda and the Reavers and the news of Earth are now out in the open. She is a criminal like Reynolds and the rest of the crew. But do not lose sight of your objective: find all the FTL ships. Destroy those that can’t be captured. If any of those ships end up in rebel hands, we will have double the trouble Serenity has given us.”
“How long can this sham of a rebellion continue?” the Operative asked.
Shin smiled. “The rebellion is real alright. And will only grow. Soon we will have marshal law and the power to do what is necessary to bring peace and order to the galaxy.”
“Cutter tried that on Miranda,” the Operative reminded Shin.
“Cutter was a policeman with a policeman’s mentality,” Shin answered coldly. “The military will not attempt to reform anyone. We will crush them. Now, do you understand why your mission is so important?”
“I will complete my mission,” the Operative said and then before Shin could ask exactly what he meant the signal was broken.
He was obsessed with River Tam, Shin said to himself, as he pondered his next move. She is his black eye, his one failure. He will do whatever to get her, even screw up his prime mission. Maybe its time someone was watching him. Shin opened his file on the Athenian Island students and after a short time selected several for the new task at hand.
The Operative left the police station and walked a short distance through the streets of Ariel City to a nearby hospital, scene of one of River Tam’s more remarkable escapes. As he walked through the corridors of the busy hospital, the incident report came to mind, how she and her brother had been captured by the betrayal of one of Serenity’s crew, his name unknown. But before he died the commander of the unit that captured them made a preliminary report, indicating the betrayer was a tall man, heavy with a beard. Jayne Cobb. Surprisingly, Cobb was still alive. From the reports Cutter had left of Malcolm Reynolds, the Operative thought Cobb would be dead by Reynolds’ hand by now for betraying his crewmates. Maybe Reynolds didn’t know. Maybe no one knew exactly what had happened here. That could prove useful. Now it was time to get to Hera and get a new FTL ship.
“Now what?” Jim Jamison asked his cousin Tom, aka Badger, as they walked up to the tourist information center near Serenity Valley. It had been a long few hours, hiking over here from the metal works, one eye on the sky for any more Alliance ships, hoping none were looking for them.
“We get us a vehicle, head for another town, and get us passage off world.”
“You mind filling me in on the rest of your plans and how we are going to make a life and a living?”
“Watch your tone cousin,” Badger said with a snarl. “You’d be wearing shackles now weren’t for me. Since you asked, I’m making most of this up as we go. But I’ve got friends on Persephone, and cash hidden away. Soon as we gets there, I’ll help you set up shop again. Might have to change your name, though.”
“What? Change me name? No bloody way!”
“Making and selling FTL’s is not the worst of our problems mate. Remember them guns Reynolds left?”
“Gorramnit,” Jamison said quietly.
“Too right ‘gorramnit’,” Badger said. ‘They finds what’s left of them guns, then it’s the gallows for us.”
“Sorry, cousin. Just, I ain’t used to all this. I’m an honest businessman.”
“No such thing, not one that makes a profit anyways. You might be just the last Jamison left who ain’t spent time in lockdown.”
“Your two month stint wasn’t much of a lockdown.”
“Two months is like two years when you’re inside mate, so don’t talk about what you don’t know about. Wait, look here.”
They came up to the vehicle park, near the tourist center. There were many vehicles, and people walking about, families, taking pictures, looking over the monument and the derelict tanks.
“Bloody Serenity Valley,” Badger said. “Reynolds and his bunch and the rest were all fools. Only people do any good from war is likes of us.”
“Can’t disagree with that, cousin. Now, which one do you like?” Jamison said eyeing the vehicles.
“Something simple, not flash, like that family sedan, the blue one.”
“Right you are, have it running in a jiffy.”
Five minutes later Jamison had used his mechanical expertise to disable the alarm on the car and start the engine. Ten minutes later a family of four came back to the car park to discover they would have to find another way home. After a chat with the authorities first, to report their car stolen.
Mal was having a chat with the authorities, the prison authorities that is, and he was not enjoying it at all. The aches and pains of his battle with Big Pete and the electro-shock stick were still very real. Pete had been hauled off to the infirmary, barely alive, and after a quick shower to rid himself of Pete’s blood and stench, Mal was taken back to his cell. Two hours later the prison warden and his lawyer were outside his prison cell.
“Big Pete died an hour ago in the infirmary,” said the warden, a middle aged bureaucrat.
“That fat bastard tried to stab me,” Mal said to the prison warden.
“It seems like a clear cut case of self-defense,” Thomas Blakely added.
The warden sighed. “Appears so, but we have no witnesses.”
“That’s because that rat bastard of a guard was part of it,” Mal said in frustration.
“A guard who does not even work here?” the warden answered. “We have no one of that description in our employ. Yes, the other guard did see him and knows he shocked you with his stick, but the man is gone and we have no idea who he is or how he got in here and got a uniform.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Blakely began. “It was an attempt to assassinate my client.”
“Apparently,” the warden replied and then stared at Mal. “Look, Reynolds, I don’t care for you. You should have been locked up years ago for the things you’ve done and I’m not talking about you being a rebel leader, even if it is true, but just for being a bottom feeder criminal. But inside my prison it is my job to keep you alive until its time to hang you, dong ma?”
“Don’t do me no favors,” Mal said in his most contemptuous manner and then sat on his bed and stared at the wall.
The prison warden seethed. “Counselor, advise your client that his attitude toward authority is duly noted.”
The warden turned to leave. “And the attack on my client?” Blakely asked.
“This matter needs further investigation,” the warden said as he walked away.
“He is in charge here, Mal,” Blakely said. “Try not to tick him off too much. I know its hard to believe but things could me more uncomfortable.”
“They all hate me anyway, doesn’t matter what I say or do.”
“Maybe not all of them,” Blakely said and then he filled Mal in on all that had happened since the story of Serenity and Earth made headlines.
“A riot? For me? Dead people? I didn’t ask for any of this,” Mal said in disgust.
“It’s out of our hands now,” Blakely replied. “Whether the riot was real or staged, many regular folks took up the cry to free you and their blood has been spilled and Shin is going to call for marshal law.”
“And if Parliament votes for it?”
“Then most civil liberties will be suspended for the duration of the emergency. People can be arrested and held for 7 days without being charged. Searches of private homes and computer systems do not need a warrant. The media will be subject to intense censorship and on and on. It will be just like the war again.”
“There needs to be a new Prime Minister,” Mal said.
“Not likely to an election soon. Once marshal law is declared, Shin can call for a vote to make the deputy Prime Minister acting Prime Minister. But he is a weak man, who has many secrets, and Shin knows them by now from Cutter’s files. The deputy PM will grant Shin command of all military and police forces, and will allow him to appoint his own High Chancellor without government approval. Shin will still be part of the cabinet meetings, but this time no one will oppose him. It will all be a sham. They will do what he says. Elections will be suspended for the duration of the emergency, so there will be no new Prime Minister.”
“And the military?”
“They are on Shin’s side, and will extend their power to the far ends of the galaxy, maybe even to Earth.”
“Gorramnit! I made a promise to those folks back there to let them be in peace.”
“Mal, there is nothing you can do.”
“Not from in here.”
Blakely looked at him sharply. They weren’t in a private room and they were surely being watched, maybe even listened to. “Is there anything I can get you?” Blakely asked.
Mal got the hint. “This grey prison suit ain’t exactly my favorite color. I sure could use something brown. Of course, left all my clothes back on the ship.”
“I’ll see what I can find in town. Not sure if they will let you wear it, or even if they will let me take it inside.”
“You can only try,” Mal said.
“Get some rest…Captain,” Blakely said and then turned and was gone.
Wash woke up early as Serenity’s 24 hours ship clock read 7 am and was surprised to see Kaylee on the bridge, replacing some burnt out silicon chips and smashed control panel bulbs, all damaged courtesy of the EMP blast a few days ago. “Almost got her ship shape,” Kaylee said as she replaced a bulb for the engine coolant warning light. She looked exhausted and was grimy and sweaty.
“You’ve been up all night?” Wash asked as he sipped some coffee and sat in his pilot’s chair and began to check things.
“Can’t sleep anyways, not with my daddy hurt.” River had helped her as much as she could, but had finally trooped off to bed a few hours earlier. Kaylee told her to go after River dropped a tool one too many times. Even psychics need their sleep.
“To bed, now,’ Simon said in a strong tone from the doorway to the bridge. He had just woken up in their room in the passenger lounge and she wasn’t there, after promising to come to bed in five minutes just before he drifted off. That was six hours ago. After a quick look in at his patient, Simon told Mary to go to bed, that he would take over now, and Mary gave Jonathan a quick kiss on the cheek and staggered off to her passenger room.
“Almost done,” Kaylee said, and then she stood quickly, and the screwdriver in her hand fell. She bent to pick it up, got dizzy and before she knew it Simon was there holding her up.
“I got you,” Simon said gently. “Time for bed.”
“Guess so,’ Kaylee said weakly and with a lopsided grin. “Join me?”
“In a while,” he said with a slight smile, knowing she be passed out as soon as she hit the sheets.
“Wash, tell Zoe…tell her…I did my job,” Kaylee said and then she let her husband take her back to their room and in minutes she was dead to the world.
As Simon walked back to the infirmary a familiar voice called out. “Hey, Doc?”
Simon heaved a sigh of relief. Jonathan was awake at last. “I’m here,” Simon said as he entered the room.
“Got shot, did I?” his voice was weak, but he was conscious and breathing well.
“Try not to talk,” Simon said as he gave Jonathan a small sip of water. “I’ll tell you everything.”
“Kaylee? Mary? Ok?”
“Yes, they are resting now. Barely left your side.”
“River and Zoe? We got ‘em back?”
“Yes, now just rest, and let me talk.” And so Simon told him all he could about all that had happened.
Meanwhile other things were happening, far away, and these things would have a profound affect on all in the galaxy.
The smell of smoke and death still hung over the Parliament buildings as the members sat for the first time since the assassination of Prime Minister Blakely. There were 526 members from across the galaxy, most from the more populous inner Core planets, since representation was based on population. This had always been the main weakness of the system, as the few members from the Rim areas did not have enough power to effect any change or to oppose any unfavorable measures. This had been an underlying cause of the war. When the war ended and the rebellious planets were accepted back into the Alliance, the representatives from the rebellious planets had been treated with scorn on their home worlds, called traitors by those who still harbored illusions that the rebellion could be revived. Even in Parliament there was tension for the first few years, as the Rim planet members united and formed a block of votes, even going against political party lines. But gradually things returned to the way it was before the war, with political parties dominating politics. Attempts were made to reform the system by introducing a second legislature like the House of Lords in Britain or the Senate in America, where each planet would have only one representative and only one vote. But these attempts always failed because the members of the inner planets voted against such reforms.
And this was the second weakness of Parliament, the proliferation of political parties. Too many parties meant one party could rarely achieve a majority of the 526 seats. That was why it was necessary to use the provision for marshal law during the war. It was an old statute, introduced when the Alliance constitution was written, at a time when the settlers from Earth were uncertain of the future and feared anarchy. When the rebellion broke out, the members from rebellious planets left, and Parliament was paralyzed by infighting among parties as each jockeyed for position, not caring about the successful defeat of the Independent forces. The Prime Minister of the day brought out the old statute for marshal law. Only the Prime Minister alone could call for marshal law in time of emergency. Backed by the military, the Prime Minister called for a vote and Parliament reluctantly agreed and order prevailed. When the rebellion ended, marshal law was rescinded and Parliament went back to its squabbling.
Admiral Shin sat in his office watching the debate for marshal law on his Cortex screen on the government streaming broadcast channel. He would have like to be there, but military men were not permitted to enter the Parliamentary debate chambers, another holdout from Earth and the separation of state and military. The deputy Prime Minister made the announcement for the vote on marshal law and after a two hour debate the voting was being done. Shin hadn’t expected the debate to last so long, but a few members called out that more time was needed to investigate the Prime Minister’s death and the recent riot. But other members stood and supported the measure, citing the bloodshed, the rebellion, the Reaver problem that no one knew for certain was checked or not. Someone asked if Justin Powers was telling the truth or was he really in rebellion against the Alliance. Other members said Powers own words from his broadcast condemned him as a rebel. One member from the Rim claimed there was no new rebellion, and that Malcolm Reynolds was innocent, but he was quickly shouted down by others.
Finally, someone asked for the statute on marshal law to be read out. Once this was done, someone else asked that a rider be put in place to limit marshal law for only one month. The deputy Prime Minister hesitated and seemed lost for a moment but a senior member, one firmly on Shin’s side, rose and stated that one month or one year, no one new how long the emergency would last. Did they want more bombs in the Parliament? More assassinations? More riots? “NO!” shouted many members and of course no one could say “yes” to such questions. Soon after the vote was called for.
The assembled members, at least those who could get there in time for the vote, were now casting votes by electric devices at their seats. Many seats were empty. Some members were far away on their home worlds, while others in Londinium were inexplicitly “delayed” on this very important day. Most of those were in opposition to Shin and marshal law. Some were stuck in traffic, others had cars with engine trouble, a few were stuck at home because security systems that would not open doors, and so on. By the time the vote was finished, Shin had more than the needed two-thirds majority. Marshal law was declared.
Shin connected to the Ministry of the Interior. After a moment General MacCready’s image came on screen.
“General, you are hereby appointed the new High Chancellor of the Alliance.”
MacCready almost smiled. “Thank you, sir. Parliament will approve of course?
“Don’t worry about that raving babble of fools. Marshal law has been declared.”
“Good. Orders, sir?”
“The trial of Malcolm Reynolds will begin tomorrow. You will provide security. A location will be given to you at the last moment to avoid any leaks or any interference.”
“Sir, the prosecution is still gathering evidence of Reynolds’ crimes. Witnesses are far away and statements need to be taken. Also, there is much opposition to trying him for the murder of the Prime Minister since the story of Serenity and Earth broke”
“Those charges will be dropped. He is to be tried for the stealing of government property, specifically the ship Serenity, and for the murder of an Alliance soldier during the incident. As this falls under military jurisdiction and can be counted as treason as he stole a valuable piece of technology, Reynolds will be tried before a military tribunal. Several of the witnesses made statements before their own deaths recently on Whitefall. We have enough to charge him successfully.”
“What about Blakely? He’ll scream bloody murder.”
“Tell him nothing. By the time he finds out the trial will be over.”
“And then what?”
“Then we hang the son-of-a-bitch.”
“Son-of-a-bitch,” Mal said with gritted teeth. Blakely had just told Mal that marshal law was declared. They were in the small conference room for lawyers and clients.
“It was just announced that Shin has already appointed General MacCready as the new High Chancellor,” Blakely said. “Soldiers are on the streets, arrests are being made, people are afraid.”
“Then they should do something about it!”
“Most will just go along. Many actually believe its better this way, that stronger leadership was needed. Shin is just filling a power vacuum.”
“You seem to forget whose place he is taking. Shin’s a murderer,” Mal said.
Blakely’s face clouded over. “I will never forget what they did to my wife. I believe you, that Shin is behind her death, but I need proof, Mal, proof of his involvement. More than your gut feeling and the word of River Tam and some images she saw on a Cortex screen. Shin cannot be taken down on such flimsy evidence.”
“You’re still thinking like a lawyer. There’s other ways.”
“I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet.”
Mal wanted to say more, that he would kill Shin, proof or no proof, but didn’t trust this room. It still might be bugged. He looked at Blakely. “Any luck getting me some clothes?”
“I have someone checking. They haven’t contacted me yet.”
Mal nodded slightly. “Let me know when you find something.”
Blakely left and Mal was taken back to his cell and lay down to rest, waiting for his dinner, and thinking on how to escape, always thinking on that. Not a few minutes later, Mal was visited by the warden and four guards with electro-shock sticks. The laser bars were turned off and the warden stepped into Mal’s cell.
“Out for a late night stroll, boys” Mal quipped, but looked with dread at those sticks.
The warden grunted. “Still full of humor. Well, I got some news that’ll wipe that smirk off your face. You’re being transferred.”
That did knock the smile off Mal’s face. “Where to?”
“Can’t say. But not someplace you’ll like. Marshal law has been declared and the military is taking over your case.”
“I got rights!” Mal shouted.
“Not anymore, Browncoat. You’re days of crime will soon be over, permanently. Trial is tomorrow, soon to followed by an execution I’m sure.”
Mal saw red, his mind went blank with rage and he struck out, his fist hitting the warden in the throat, sending him to the floor gasping for air. Soon Mal joined him in agony as he was hit with the electro-shock sticks and fell to the floor and then a rain of fists and kicks pummeled him into senselessness. Mal fell into a deep dark place and for the first time in long time, felt fear and despair.
Kaylee felt not fear or despair, only joy and happiness, for she and Simon were finally getting married, for real, with her mother’s wedding dress on and Simon looking his handsomest in a black suit.
“I do,” said Kaylee as she beamed at Simon. He said the same words and then they both turned to Book.
“You may kiss the bride,’ Book said and then Simon swept her up in his arms and kissed her and she didn’t want him to ever let go.
Soon they were surrounded by Kaylee’s and Simon’s parents, River and Mal and the rest of the crew and Will and Dora and Gregori and Tanya from Earth, Professor Drummond and his daughter Angela from Miranda, Derek Bowen, Justin Powers, and lots of friends and family, everyone shaking Simon’s hand and kissing Kaylee’s cheeks. The reception lasted long into the night and everyone got good and drunk and danced away their cares and Kaylee never felt so happy in all her days. And then it happened.
The door to the reception hall burst open and they were there, all three of them, their nemeses, Jackson, Cutter, and Shin.
“Simon and River Tam! You are bound by law!” Cutter shouted and behind them poured in a phalanx of moonbase soldiers, Alliance soldiers, and Reavers.
The battle was long and bloody. They won in the end, Cutter and Jackson died, all the Reavers fell, and Shin fled with the few surviving Alliance soldiers, dragging an unconscious Mal as their prisoner. Book, Powers, Drummond, and Derek died and many were wounded, her father severely. Her mother was suddenly missing and Kaylee knew she was dead, also.
“NOOOOO!” Kaylee shouted, and then Simon was by her side.
“Kaylee, Kaylee! Wake up!” he said as she felt him shake her.
“Oh…oh Simon!” she managed to gasp as she awoke. “It was awful!”
“Bad dreams, is all.”
“True dreams, all of it,” she said in a shaky voice and she huddled in his arms, shaking like a leaf. Simon let her tell him everything and then stroked her hair and calmed her down.
“Put it out of your mind. I have good news. Your father is awake.”
The crew sat or stood in the infirmary, all except Wash, as Kaylee and Mary wiped away their tears, and chatted with Jonathan. He was hungry and that was good sign and Jayne even asked him if he was up for that long forgotten drinking contest, but kept quiet after Simon and Kaylee gave him dirty looks.
“When am I getting out of bed, Doc?” Jonathan asked.
“Not yet. I’ll move you to a passenger room in a little while,” Simon promised.
“Zoe,” came Wash’s voice from the intercom. “Need you on the bridge.”
“Problem?” she asked as every stopped talking.
“No,” Wash said. “Need to talk about something.”
Zoe arrived on the bridge a few moments later. “What’s got under your skin husband?”
“This,” he said and then he played the wave.
It was a strange face, someone they didn’t know, an elderly woman. “Good day, Serenity. I assume I am talking to Zoe Washburne, in command now. Not to fret over Captain Reynolds, he is well and sends his regards. The Alliance has him in cell block D, cell 237, Londinium Maximum Security Prison. This message comes from a friendly source. Please destroy this message and any records of it.” And then she was gone.
“What the hell?’ Zoe said after the message ended.
“Is it a trick?” Wash asked. “To get us to try and rescue him?”
“Could be, or it could be he really wants us to come get him. We need to talk to the crew on this.”
But before they could do that a bell chimed and a new message came in, this time from someone they did know.
“Greetings Serenity,” the Operative said. “Hope all is well. I have an offer for you. Surrender the ship and you can all walk away free, all charges dropped. Kaylee Frye and her father will continue their work for the Alliance. All will be forgiven of everyone else. Prime Minister Blakely’s pardons will be reinstated. Oh, how silly of me. Of course River Tam is not included in this offer. She has committed the murder and kidnapping of Alliance personnel. Nor is Inara Serra, wanted for the murder of Paulo Chase on Sihnon. Oh, and Jayne Cobb, despite his services to the Alliance on Ariel four years ago, is wanted for the possession and selling of Alliance property and the shooting and more than likely murder of some Alliance personnel. Come to think of it, Zoe and Hoban Washburne also fall into this category. Well, maybe I have wasted my time. Good day.”
For the second time Zoe said. “What the hell?”
“Just nonsense, trying to get a trace on where we are,’ Wash said. “We’ll just move a few million kilometers in another direction.”
“Good idea,” Zoe said. “He found us before and might have the speed to catch us again. Alliance was at Hera so I am sure they got the Jamison boys fixing up a new FTL ship. Kaylee fix that EMP?”
“Said she did but need a new test to try it. She was up all night fretting over things. Heard you were kinda hard on her.”
“Had to be,” Zoe said a little crossly. “Ship is what keeps us all alive so she needs to be on her game.”
“I’m not saying you did wrong,” Wash said as he felt his wife’s eyes bore into him while he set a new course on the nav computer. Finally he looked at her. “But, baby, we’re all frazzled and they are looking to you to be a leader.”
“Then I have to kick a few butts once in a while,” Zoe said sharply.
“Okay, I get that, but…maybe don’t kick so hard.”
Zoe sighed. “Point taken. Now, about that new course?”
As Wash set a new course, Zoe replayed the Operative’s message. “What’s this about Jayne helping the Alliance?”
“No ruttin’ way I ever helped the Alliance,” Jayne said from behind them as he walked onto the bridge, curious about why Wash had called Zoe to the bridge.
Zoe turned to him. “Then why did the operative mention you and Ariel from four years ago?” She quickly explained the Operative’s message and then played it for Jayne.
“That guy’ll say anything to make us turn on each other,” Jayne said, but he was looking guilty and Zoe wouldn’t let it go.
“Jayne, what did you do on Ariel?”
“I’ll just go ask River since I’m sure she knows already,” Zoe said and started to leave the bridge when Jayne put a meaty paw on her shoulder.
“Wait,” he said quickly.
“Get that hand off me before you lose it,” Zoe snarled as Jayne quickly let go.
“See? Just like I said, he wants us at each other’s throats.”
Wash looked at Jayne. “What happened on Ariel, Jayne?”
Jayne sighed and sat down in the third chair. “I turned in Doc and moon brain.”
Zoe and Wash were too stunned for a second to say anything. Jayne just looked at the deck and refused to meet their eyes.
“Son-of-a-bitch,” Zoe finally snarled and then added a few choice Chinese curse words.
“But, they arrested you, too,” Wash said in confusion. “And you saved Simon and River.”
“Was saving myself, also,” Jayne said. “Them purple bellies went back on our deal.”
“Deal for the reward money, right?” Zoe said in her voice she saved for when she was truly pissed off.
“Yeah,” Jayne said then quickly added more. “Mal knew right away and River figured it out later. And Doc knows, too. So no need telling anyone else.”
“Mal knew?” Zoe said in surprise. “And you’re still alive?”
“Is that why you were in the airlock?” Wash asked. He was the one who had finally found Jayne and released him.
Jayne told them the whole story and Zoe also wanted to put him the airlock but kept that thought in check. Jayne was right about one thing, the Operative was trying to get them to fight with each other.
“Just, don’t tell Kaylee,” Jayne pleaded and Zoe and Wash were amazed that he cared so much. “She’ll never forgive me.”
“Guess we can keep it to ourselves since Simon and River know and seem to have forgiven you,” Zoe said.
“Doc ain’t forgiven me,” Jayne said. “Just we got an agreement that while we are stuck together we’ll try to be more friendly like, least as far as possible with him been a prissy know-it-all and me being an ornery cuss.”
Wash had to laugh at that last part and the Zoe gave him a sharp look and he stopped. “What? It was funny.”
“Nothing funny about any of this. Time for a meeting and time to make plans.”
Wash sent them on a new course at full burn and then Zoe and Jayne went below to tell everyone else what was going on.
“Sounds like a trick,” Jonathan said weakly.
“Daddy, try to lie still,” Kaylee admonished him.
“Who was she?” Simon asked.
“No idea,” Zoe said. “She knows my name, and claims to know the location of Mal.”
“I can find out where the wave came from,” Mary said and then everyone except Simon and Jonathan went to the bridge.
As Mary sat and let her fingers fly over the keys, Zoe asked how she knew so much about wave technology.
“One of my first jobs was at a wave center years ago. Back then most messages were routed through a few central points and sometimes took days to reach someone. Now they can go direct from planet to planet in a few hours or even face to face with all the satellites set up. I’ve kept up with the technology ever since. There, got it.”
“Melody Warrington on Osiris?” Zoe said in surprise. “Who is she?”
A quick Cortex search came up with the answer. “Thomas Blakely’s mother-in-law. The dead Prime Minister’s mother,” Mary said.
“The message is legitimate,” Gabriel said. “Now what do we do.”
“It’s from, Mal,” Inara said. “He wants us to come and get him.”
“That’s suicide,” said Jayne. “We’re all beat up, ships a mess, and….”
“No, it ain’t,” Kaylee said fiercely, then looked at Zoe. “Spent all night fixing her.”
“Good work,” Zoe said and Kaylee felt a million times better. “But Jayne’s right, we’re in no shape for a rescue mission, not yet. His trial isn’t even scheduled yet. We still have time.”
“Oh, no, more bad news,” said Mary form the co-pilot’s seat. “Marshal law has been declared.”
“Don’t mean nothing to us criminal types,” Jayne said.
“It might for Mal,” Gabriel stated. “During the war, under marshal law the military took over many cases involving terrorism and treason.”
Inara felt herself go weak. “The military? What happened in these cases?”
“They were quickly tried and in most cases punishment was quickly handed out,” Gabriel said as he looked at Inara with sadness in his eyes.
“What kind of punishment?” Kaylee asked the question they all dreaded.
“Execution,” Gabriel said and a sense of tread filled them all. Inara let out a sob and Kaylee took her in her arms and hugged tight, then looked to Zoe as tears also filled Kaylee’s eyes.
“He’d come for us, any of us,” she said with fierce conviction.
“I know he would,” Zoe said and looked at Wash.
“Whatever you decide I’ll follow,” her husband said.
Jayne looked at Zoe. “It’s still suicide, but you know I’m in.”
“It’s more than suicide, it’s madness,” River said. “And it’s most likely impossible, from a logical point of view. But I owe him more than I can ever repay.”
Zoe knew River would be with them. She wasn’t so sure of her parents. “I can drop you off anywhere.”
“It’s not that we…” Gabriel began to say, knowing his wife was not ready for this but then she surprised him.
“No,” Regan interrupted, at last accepting that this was the life they now had. “We can not be parted from our children anymore. We will do what we can to help.”
River smiled at her mother. “Welcome to the fight.” And Regan felt a sense of pride in making this decision.
Zoe looked at them all, one by one as she spoke. “Then know this, all of you. We’re beat up, worn out, down to our last options. Some of us might not make it through this. But we ain’t letting them kill the Captain, not without a fight.”
She looked at her husband. “Wash, set course for Londinium.”
Monday, September 07, 2009 3:20 AM
Monday, September 07, 2009 2:43 PM
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