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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The beginnings of the most unlikely alliance.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 784 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
When Lee approached Mal, who he found outside the meeting hall trying to shave with a hand-me-down razor over a bucket of cold water, and asked him and Jayne to guard the Alliance men while they were put to work burning stubble, Mal knew he was serious about indenturing them.
“And what about if someone comes looking for ‘em?” he asked Lee, squinting into the cracked mirror that he'd hung from a random nail.
Lee shrugged. “Cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Mal smiled sceptically. Man seemed foolhardy; but doubtless he’d told himself he’d thought of every angle and how each of them turned out best for him and his town. The arrival of an Alliance rescue party was just one of the uncertainties threatening Mal and his crew now: considering the leadership of the town, he wondered when the well of Warminger’s compassion towards the victims of the recent disaster would run dry, never mind the plans Lee and his cronies might have for the mine. There were interesting times ahead, and it had to be as obvious to Lee as it was to him that the disposition of Yan and his men would be decisive.
Or maybe it wasn’t. It seemed unlikely to him that Lee had the benefit of his own many and varied god-awful experiences.
Nevertheless, when Lee named a wage for the guarding of the Alliance soldiers, Mal was magnanimity itself.
“No need for that,” he said, seeing the dangers of being any more obliged to Lee. “Take it as repayment, for everything you’re doing for us” – and he tapped the crappy, useless razor against the side of the rusty bucket.
Lee, for his part, understood this as further evidence of Mal’s reluctance to ally himself with any party. In the back of his mind he wondered if it was true, that Mal had been on Miranda and sent the wave: was this Firefly captain a man who tended towards the big gesture, or someone who merely wanted to keep himself to himself? Having a thoroughly pragmatic outlook, he found it impossible to imagine what might compel somebody to travel through Reaver territory to a dead world; and he preferred to believe in the ‘terraforming failure’ explanation than anything else, since it allowed him to continue to focus on his own concerns. The same tendency that led him to discount the contents of the wave persuaded him that Mal could be kept out of any conflict over the mine: Mal’s agreeing to watch over the Alliance men while Leech and Grote went to check it out made a good start in that direction.
Mal made sure that he stayed close to the gang that Yan had been allocated to. With twenty acres of land to be worked and only a handful of unarmed overseers in addition to himself and Jayne, it wasn’t going to be hard to find out what he wanted to know.
To start with he sat it out, perching on a fence while Yan and his men got to work firebreaking the perimeter of the first field.
“Nice day for it,” he said to Yan, after Yan had stopped to glance at him several times.
“It’s good work,” Yan said. “Honest work.”
Mal laughed bitterly. “Is it now? Then I guess you ain’t never done farm work before.”
“And you have.”
“Arable, livestock. Done it. Hated it.”
“You grew up on a farm,” Yan said, as a question.
“On a ranch. Ma had arable too though.”
“Was that why you volunteered? – looking for a way out?”
Mal didn’t mind; already had it figured that whoever had worked closely with the Operative would have known every last detail about him and his crew. And what did it matter? – war was over. He sat up straighter, looked around, aware that one of those moments of absolute clarity was upon him. The autumn sky was pale and low; the land stretched for miles. The air, blowing across his face, through his hair, was light. Everything was light. The war was over. It was true. How had he got to his realization? The breeze, the almost-wintery sun, the wood of the fence against the palms of his hands – it was all good. He savored the seconds that passed, the ones that held this new awareness that having known he immediately dreaded losing, for as long as he could.
Then he nodded in reply to Yan’s question. “Could’ve bought myself a parcel out here in this system, gone back to it any time. Knew everything there was to know ‘cause I had to. I was running that place by the time I was fourteen. But I wanted to be free of that.” He paused. “I wanted to be free of that,” he whispered to himself; then louder, with sad humor: “And look at me now. Free as a bird.”
He jumped down from the fence, took up one of the hand-plows that the men were using to create the firebreak and joined them in their work. After a few moments, without stopping, he said to Yan: “You know they want to indenture you.”
Yan and the men in his gang stopped and looked at Mal, absorbing the information and waiting for him to say more. “You mean, the townspeople?” Yan asked.
“Anyone likely to come looking for you?” Mal asked in return.
Yan laughed at that idea as bitterly as Mal had at his memories of farm life. “We haven’t had any communication with our superiors for months. Not since the Operative disappeared. Colonel Tug came after you because he wanted to make sense of what we’d lost, give the men that were left something to make it worth while. And I supported that, at first.”
“If you could, what would you do now?”
Yan glanced at his men, then said with resolution: “Go back to Meridian. Get the men Tug left behind.”
“The ones the Reavers got. Tug didn’t want to take them. Thought they’d bring the mission down.”
Another bitter smile from Mal. “Those stories, about contamination. Total bullshit.”
“Are you an expert on Reavers too?”
“Don’t matter,” Mal said, as much to himself as to Yan. “Just it ain’t true. They’re no less human than they were before. You should go back for them.”
He and Yan explained a look of understanding; they agreed about what mattered in this situation. Mal could feel the other men listening intently, hopefully.
“We’re salvaging your ship.” Hope turned to dismay. “We found Trudo. He’s still working on her, with our mechanic. That’s your way out.”
Again Yan looked at his men. “We need weapons.”
Mal shook his head slightly. “This town, these people, they got real high hopes, want Highgate to be a big player in this system, far as I can see. And the settlement you attacked, it had a mine. A bicarium mine.”
“What!” Yan was astounded.
“The townsfolk don’t know about it, but they will soon. And there’s going to be trouble.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t know exactly. But it could be an opportunity – for you and for me. You got it, that I lost everything in that attack.” He pushed away the emotions that rose up in him. “Everything. Had a crew, and they lost everything too. Made a promise to compensate them and it’s a promise I’m going to keep.”
“What do you want?”
“Get the settlers off of here with as much bicarium as your ship can carry. Give us our cut, and after that, what you do ain’t no concern of mine. Might be we won’t have need of weapons, depends how we put it to the good people of Warminger.”
By the time they’d left the first field, engulfed in smoke as the flames started to die down, Yan had asked Mal to inform the rest of his men of the plan.
Saturday, March 20, 2010 5:04 PM
Sunday, March 21, 2010 4:52 AM
Sunday, March 21, 2010 7:33 AM
Sunday, March 21, 2010 1:24 PM
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