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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Wash very nearly kills everybody; Mal may have waited too long to save them.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1321 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Inara's customary level of luxury, maintained aboard her shuttle for the clients she entertained there, was not low. But it was positively working class compared to Jerrode Eusabian's personal apartments. The mattress, the sheets, the pillows -- all definitely a grade higher than even Inara was used to, although what she coveted most was the Chinese rosewood altar table that graced a small alcove just visible from where she lay.
She was stretched out and deliciously relaxed, staring at the altar through half-lidded eyes, bare skin wrapped in cool silk, when Eusabian's comm beeped softly. He checked the display, and excused himself with a light kiss on her cheek to take the call.
"Eusabian," he said, his voice all business, in contrast with his relaxed pose. "I see," he said a few seconds later. "Thank you." He laid the common the nightstand and smiled at Inara. "It seems your pirate captain has left without you," he said lazily.
Inara's gut twisted, and only long practice kept her feelings from showing on her face. Or, maybe it didn't.
"Does this happen often?" he asked, still regarding her sleepily.
The job had gone wrong, as Mal had feared it would, and he had left in a blazing hurry, unable to recall her first. When would he return? Could he return? How wrong exactly had the job gone? But all she said to Eusabian, forcing a weary, tolerant smile, was "Not that often. But I am seldom so well situated when it does."
Eusabian laughed. His amusement seemed to enervate him, and he rose smoothly from the bed and began to dress. "Naturally, you will remain here as my guest for as long as you wish to," he said. He took in their surroundings with a sweep of his hand. "All of the hospitality of my house is yours."
"Thank you," Inara said sincerely. "Are you leaving?"
Eusabian sat in a dressing chair and began putting on his shoes. "I didn't think we had much time, and I have other business to attend to at the moment," he said. He leaned across the bed to touch her face. "I'll be back later." Then he rose swiftly and was gone.
He had left her a silk robe, patterned in red and orange flowers. It lay draped across the bench at the foot of the bed. Inara pulled it around her and went to the altar, where she lit a stick of incense. She tried to pray, but the only words that came to mind were a faint echo out of her past: "Dear Buddha, please send me a pony, and a plastic rocket . . ."
When the ship broke free of the docking collar, it felt wrong to Wash. Wronger than it should have felt, even though they weren't following standard procedures. The ship shuddered; a rumble ran through the hull. The alarms whooped. Wash checked and silenced them in a single motion, and reached up to grab the intercom. "Mal! We're breached!"
No one answered.
"Mal! We're losing air!"
Wash remembered the explosives and shuddered. Nausea bent him forward over the pilot's console, gulping hard, whiteknuckled on the comm. He could see the sequence of events in his mind: Serenity pulling back from the docking collar, the explosive detonating just as the ship broke free, the ramp and airlock doors blown free of the ship . . . Mal and Jayne and Kaylee suddenly free-floating in space, as Serenity backed away from them.
He was going to have to go down there. He was going to have to try to recover their bodies. And it was all his fault, for not moving fast enough when Mal said move. For freezing, when he should have acted. For worrying about Zoe, who was probably fine, instead of the people he had the power to save.
The weight of the thought pressed him into his chair, immobilized with horror.
"Jayne?" he said, choking, into the intercom. Surely somebody had hung on, maybe made it to the common room, or the engine room. "Kaylee?"
"Not now, Wash, we got a breach!" Mal's anger burst through the comm, and Wash nearly collapsed, his forehead banging against the console. The intercom went dead, and slipped from his nerveless fingers to dangle from its coiled cord.
Wash slumped in the pilot's chair, breathing hard, shivering from the cold sweat that covered him now from head to toe. He forced the image of Mal, Kaylee and Jayne gasping in the vacuum from his mind. There was a yoke, an instrument panel, a ship to fly. A damaged ship. Gently, he told himself, go gently. I know you're hurt, girl. We'll go gently for now.
In the cargo bay, Jayne and Mal had sealed themselves and Kaylee off from the rest of the ship, to save the air. Kaylee had finally found the cans of foam sealant; she tossed one to Mal as he returned from closing off the med bay and passenger area, and another to Jayne as he clattered down the steps from the catwalk, where he'd sealed them off from the rest of the ship. They went to work on the big crack where the airlock double-doors normally joined together, but had been blown apart by the explosive. A gap as wide as Mal's hand had opened between the two retracting doors, where the blast had blown them inward, out of their tracks. The cargo ramp beyond was still in place, but dented inward, pulled away from its edges, so that the air from the bay hissed first through the interior opening, swirled around in the damaged lock for a few seconds, and then drifted out around the edges of the crumpled ramp. Mal could feel it going; it was getting hard to breathe. Even with three of them working, they were going to have trouble getting the gap filled before the air escaped.
Mal touched Kaylee's shoulder. "Go suit up," he said. "Jayne, once she's suited, you go." Jayne nodded down at them; he was standing on a crate, applying sealant from the top of the gap downward. It was slow going, because he had to apply a line of sealant, then wait for it to expand and dry enough that it would hold the next strip of foam. Kaylee had been working up from the bottom, which went a little faster, and Mal had been applying the sealant along the edges in between.
Now Kaylee vanished back into the cargo bay, returning moments later in a space suit. Jayne and Mal nearly had the gap sealed by then -- a good thing, because the pressure had dropped enough to make Mal lightheaded. Rather than stay, he handed off the nearly empty can of foam to Kaylee, and stumbled after Jayne to the locker where they kept their suits. His hands were clumsy, his head light; and for a moment he stared at the suit Jayne handed him, unsure what to do with it.
He struggled into it. When he clamped down the helmet and turned on the oxygen, his strength returned in a rush, and his head felt suddenly clear. He strode back to the cargo door, swept his can of sealant off the deck, put the nozzle against the next unsealed point, and pressed the button on top of the can.
Mal gave the can a shake and tried again.
"Kaylee, I need more sealant," he said, his voice filtering tinny through the speakers. He turned his head, trying to catch her eye through the faceplate of his suit.
She raised her face to his. "There ain't no more."
Mal glanced backward; five empty cans of foam sealant littered the cargo bay floor. They had collected against the antigrav sled that held Serenity's present cargo. Five cans, the can in his hand, a seventh can that clattered across the floor as Jayne discarded it and roared for more. How could that be all? Hadn't they, at some point, had five stashes, strategically placed so that whatever section of the ship they might have to close off, they'd have sealant in? Hadn't he ordered that, after the catalyzer blew out and left them drifting, when he'd been trying to think of and prepare for other potential catastrophes? Hadn't they done that?
Kaylee was staring now at the deck, her suited hand pressed uselessly to the gap at the outside edge of the door. When the doors had been blown out of their tracks, they'd broken their seals; the air was leaking, slowly, at all points around their edges. The whole thing needed to be sealed. But there was no more sealant.
"It's been on the supply list forever," Kaylee said, barely audible.
Great, just great. First River's drugs, now this. He'd thought he was keeping them safe. He'd planned a break, downtime, restocking and repairs, maybe an overhaul, at the very least a chance to get out of each others' immediate company for a while -- soon. After this job. This job was supposed to be the one that paid off well enough to allow all that. But he'd taken too long to get there, and River had lost her mind again, near to killed Wash, and run clean off the ship. The job had gone bad, and he'd lost Zoe and Simon. And Inara. He'd had to leave her, too. Left them all behind in that hellhole he could not now go back to, not any way he could see. Not without even knowing who the enemy was. Not without fixing his ship first, somehow. He stared bleakly at the damaged doors. That was going to be a poser. But he had more immediate concerns.
The air was still leaking.
"Kaylee." His tongue felt thick; his head thicker. It wasn't the lack of air; he had plenty in the suit. "What else? We got to seal up this gap."
She nodded, the round helmet bobbing, but the air swirled and fled as she thought. Mal felt his fists clenching. Weren't Kaylee's fault, she was just here, and he needed somebody to hit. But not Kaylee. 'Cause it weren't her fault, for one thing, and 'cause if anyone could save them now, it would have to be her.
She moved at last, and he moved with her, as if tied by a string. Clanging steps on the deck grating, back into the cargo bay where she reached for the cover of a cargo hatch. He helped without being asked. She reached inside, rummaged, handed him something. A roll of sheet plastic.
"Drop cloth," she said. "We had it left over, after me and Wash painted that ambulance for the Ariel job."
Mal stared at the shimmering roll in his hand. "How thick is it?"
"Half mil," she said, fishing three silver rolls of duct tape from the space. She straightened, reached automatically to brush back her straying hair from her face, grimaced when she touched the glass of the helmet instead. She offered him a roll of duct tape.
He nodded. "Let's get it done."
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:11 AM
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 5:14 PM
Thursday, May 19, 2011 4:54 AM
Thursday, May 19, 2011 8:54 AM
Thursday, May 19, 2011 10:54 AM
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