BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

M52NICKERSON

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 1
Monday, April 9, 2012

The crew looks to complete the first part of their job as they get to know their guest.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3366    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

The warm water washed over River, finally relaxing her. Showers were something of a luxury on Serenity. While the waste reclamation system did a good job recycling much of the water which went down the drains there was still loss and the ship’s water tanks were not that large. Right now River didn’t care if the captain got mad at her for using too much water. For one they were planet side and it could be replaced. Second, it was his fault she needed a shower. She bet he knew the vac-line was going to blowout.

“He couldn’t have,” she huffed to herself. She was angry, but knew the captain had good reasons for doing things the way he did. As smelly of a job as septic-vac was, it was necessary. At some point they might have to get off planet quick, the septic tanks would still need to be emptied. It was not like they could just dump it into space. The septic system was not a closed system. Opening it in the vacuum of space would be the same as a hull breach.

Given this, she was still upset. She simply did not want to do the septic-vac again. She knew that wouldn’t be fair to the others who did have to do it, but so be it.

As the young women shut off the shower and stepped out into the small wash room she wondered why she spent so much time dwelling on this. It was not like her. She had better things, more important things to think about. Maybe this was what being a normal teenager was like. She didn’t really know. She was only fourteen when she went to the Academy. Her time there was anything but normal.

As she slipped on the scrubs she had grabbed from the infirmary she could not help but wonder what her life would have been like had she not gone to the Academy, had she been normal. School, friends, summer jobs, boys…boys like the one she met today. The one that saw her covered in sewage. The one she had a feeling was going with them on this job.

**********

**********

As the young man walked up Serenity’s ramp he quickly gained the attention of the large mercenary sorting ammunition near the weight bench.

“Hey, what you want?” Jayne asked gruffly.

Kaylee slid out from under the low, but still hanging Mule at Jayne’s question.

“I’m looking for Captain Reynolds. I was to meet him after I gathered my bags,” Aleksander said.

“What, you think you’re going with us? No ruttin’ way.” Jayne said.

“Jayne, be nice,” Kaylee said in protest.

“No way the captain is letting this kid come along on a job,” the mercenary replied.

“That’s exactly what I’m doing, Jayne,” Mal said as he started down the stairs next to the cargo bay door, “and last time I checked you don’t have a say in who comes aboard my boat.”

“What for,” Jayne huffed.

“This is Bernoulli’s son. He’s going to help us get them fancy pumps we’re to deliver set up,” Mal responded.

Kaylee stood up and smiled. “Shiny, it’s always fun to meet new folk. I’m Kaylee and the big meanie over there is Jayne,” she said to Aleksander.

“It’s nice to meet the both of you,” he replied.

“Well if you got everything I’ll show you your bunk,” Mal said.

“Thank you, Captain,” he replied.

“What we need him for?” Jayne asked to himself as the captain and young man exited the cargo bay.

“Why do you always have to be so mean to new people?” Kaylee asked the big merc.

“Well it’s not like we’ve had a lot of luck takin’ on passengers now have we,” Jayne responded looking back down at his pile of ammo boxes.

“If it wasn’t for taking new people on board we wouldn’t have found Simon and River, nor Shepherd Book,” Kaylee responded.

She waited for a response but one did not come so she slid back under the Mule and continued to work. Jayne didn’t have the heart to point out that a lot of people died, Book included, because Simon and River came a board.

**********

**********

It was not long after Serenity departed Greenleaf that the smell of warm apples and cinnamon began to waft through the ship. It took no time at all for Jayne to follow his nose to the ship’s kitchen to see out what was cooking and if he could get any.

“Okay, something smells downright tasty!” the big merc said entering the galley.

“You’re right, but I don’t recall anything on the food list that would smell like that,” Mal said entering from the opposite door.

“There wasn’t. I picked up some apples with my own money,” Inara replied from cooking area.

“You gonna share…right?” Jayne questioned with a worried look.

“We’re making them for dessert,” Kaylee said with a smile from next to Inara.

“So what’s the occasion,” Mal asked looking at Inara.

She smiled, “Nothing special, just though it would be nice. Plus I know this crew has an affinity for apples.”

“Something smells good,” Zoe said walking into the galley.

Mal turned and gave an awkward smile.

**********

**********

“Hello again,” Aleksander said after a light knock on River’s open door.

River was sitting on her bed face down in a thick, old book. Looking up she responded, “Hello,” with a slight smile.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you,” the young man said.

“No, I was studying.”

“So, this is your room? I figured you would be staying in the crew quarters.”

River looked around her room saying, “I could, but this room’s mine. Without me it would just be another room.”

Aleksander’s look of confusion grew into a smile after a moment as he replied, “I guess you’re right. Never heard anyone put it like that, but wouldn’t be your old room?”

“Yes, but then it could become someone else’s room as well…I don’t like to share,” River responded playfully.

“Ah…so may I ask what you’re studying?”

“I’m proceeding with a complete review of string theory. I’m still in the early era, working through the works of Susskind,” she replied looking back down at her book.

“Okay…not what I expected from the pilot of a ship like this,” Aleksander replied.

“I’m a genius,” River said still looking at her book.

“Oh really?” the young man smirked

“…and a reader.”

“A reader, than what…”

“Thirteen,”

“Okay, I’m thinking…”

“Green,”

“That’s…I’m going to…”

“Think of a yellow duck with a purple parasol.”

Aleksander stood mouth slightly a gasp for a moment before saying, “That’s a bit…”

“Freaky?” River asked.

“So do I even need to finish my sentences?” Aleksander responded.

“Sorry, that was rude.” River apologized finally looking up from her book.

Aleksander smiled, “I’ll let it pass this time.”

“Really, and next time?” River asked.

“I shall never speak to you again,” he replied jokingly.

“I’m surprised you did after seeing me covered in sewage.”

“Well, you smell much nicer now. You look much nicer as well.”

River smiled, “are you complimenting me?”

“I think I am,” Aleksander replied.

**********

**********

By dinner time the smell of apples and cinnamon had permeated the entire ship. The crews' mouths were watering and they simply could not wait any longer. The warm cinnamon apples were meant to be dessert but Inara was persuaded to serve them as a side dish.

“We oughta let Inara get the food all the time,” Jayne said with a half full mouth.

Inara smiled, “Thank you.”

“Inara did something special for everyone tonight, don’t come to expect it,” Mal said.

“Aleksander, the captain tells me you studied engineering on Sihnon. At which university did you study?” Inara asked from her seat to the right of Mal.

“Jilin, near the capital,” the young man responded from his seat between Zoe and Jayne.

“Jilin has a beautiful campus, I have been there a few times,” Inara said.

“You’re quite young to be an engineer,” Kaylee stated cheerfully.

“I’m not an engineer as my father likes to put it. I studied industrial systems. Jilin has a fantastic internship program. Most of what I learned I did so in the field. I worked with the pumps we’re going to deliver during an internship on Airen, at a very large copper processing plant,” Aleksander explained.

“What made you want to leave the core?” Inara asked.

“Mainly my dad, my parents spilt when I was young and I hardly got to see him. I didn’t think it was very fair to him,” Aleksander replied.

Jayne looked up from his plate, “You know what’s not fair? That tsway-niou about this freighter ship they’re sayin’ sent the Miranda wave when we…”

“Bizui,” Mal cut him off.

“What!” Jayne questioned.

Mal made a quick motion towards Aleksander with his eyes while saying, “We don’t talk politics at the table, Jayne, dong-luh-mah?”

“Fine,” Jayne said gruffly seeing the looks from the captain and Zoe.

**********

**********

Inara entered her shuttle and found mal sitting on her bed, with his head down. It was not unusual for her to find Mal in her room getting ready for bed before she finished her nighttime rituals, but this time he was just sitting there.

“Mal, are you okay?” she asked.

“Just waiting for you,” Mal said in a troubled tone.

Inara moved to him and took a seat next to him, “Something’s bothering you, what is it?”

“Yeah, something I’m not sure should be, don’t know if I have call to bring it up,” he responded turning to look at her.

“It’s about the apples. I’m sorry; I just wanted to do…”

“No, it’s not like that,” Mal cut her off, “The apples were appreciated by everyone. More than should’ve by Jayne. It just got me thinking about you using your money to buy them. It’s not like you’re flush in clients right now, and that’s cause of me.”

“It’s because of us, Mal,” Inara explained placing her hand softly on his cheek “You never asked me to stop taking clients. I chose not to take clients whom were looking to contract for sex.”

“You did so because you know I couldn’t stand the thought of…” Mal said his voice trailing off.

“Well unless that has changed?”

“No.”

“I have a confession,” She said turning her body to better face him. “When I found you had spent the night in Nandi’s bed it…it tore me up inside. I know that’s hypocritical, and it is a big reason why I left. I realized that if I could not stand you being with another person…it was unfair to you.”

Mal looked up at her. “Well perhaps I’m going to have to get over my feelings, and you’re just going to have to be a hypocrite,” Mal said unhappily.

“I have a client, Mal,” Inara said.

“I said perhaps!” Mal exclaimed

“Not like that…he’s sly,” Inara calmed.

“Huh,” Mal muttered.

Inara smiled, “I have been waiting for a good time to talk to you about it. He’s looking to contract with me for four days on Bernadette.”

Mal looked at her confused, “What would a man such as that want you for days?”

Inara looked at him a bit insulted.

“I mean…um…”

“His company designs custom security systems for large corporations,” Inara interrupted. “He’s holding a banquet for his current and potential clients. He wants me to be the hostess and, as you would say, to use my wiles to gather information for him.”

“But why four days, that’s an awful long soirée,” Mal replied.

“The first day we’ll be going over his guest list and what if anything he would like to know about them. The next night is the banquet and the third we go over my notes,” Inara explained.

“There’re notes?”

“Yes,” she smiled slyly, “I take notes when I can. And then the fourth night he requested an escort to a play.”

“I take it you haven’t given him an answer yet,” Mal stated.

“No, I needed to see if the ship could swing it,” Inara said.

Mal looked at her, “When is it?”

“A little over a month from now.”

“Well, wave him and accept. I’ll make sure we get you there,” Mal said with a smile.

**********

**********

As Zoe walked along the hallway towards her room she heard laughter from the bridge. For a fleeting moment she was brought back to a time when Wash would be on the bridge telling Kaylee or River bad jokes. That feeling was gone within the same moment. Zoe smiled despite this as she walked up the stairs.

River was sitting in her usual place at the pilot’s console, Aleksander was sitting in at the co-pilot’s station, both were laughing and smiling.

“What are you two conspiring about?” Zoe asked stepping onto the bridge.

River turned to Zoe with a smile, “Alek was telling me about his fraternity hazing.”

“Alek?” Zoe questioned.

“It’s what my friends call me,” the young man responded.

“I don’t remember passengers being allowed on the bridge,” Zoe said in serious tone.

“I told him it was okay,” River responded.

“Nor do I remember young pilots being able to overrule the ship’s first mate,” Zoe added.

Aleksander stood up, “I’m sorry, it’s my…”

“I’m sure it is,” Zoe interrupted, “but I think I will let it slid…this time,” ending with a slight smile.

“It won’t happen again,” Aleksander assured.

“No, it won’t.” Zoe turned to leave, “Now the captain is going to want everyone up early to go over the plan, so young Mr. Bernoulli and our pilot should think about getting some sleep…in their respective bunks.

“Zoe,” River said a bit embarrassed.

“Good night you two,” the ships first mate said as she left the bridge.

**********

**********

The Lennox night was overcast, perfect for anyone who wanted to hide in the cover of darkness.

Zoe and Mal emerged from the brush and moved quickly across the dirt path and up to the tall chain link fence. The captain quickly began cutting the fence with a pair of wire cutters he had removed from his jacket pocket.

“Got it,” Mal said quietly when he had finally made a big enough opening for them to pass through.

Zoe waved towards the brush they had emerged from and Aleksander appeared and quickly moved next to them.

Mal turned to him, “Remember, you stick to Zoe’s hip and keep your head down, dong ma?”

The young man quickly relied, “Dahng ran.”

“Jayne how we doing,” the captain said focusing on the small communicator in his ear.

“All clear from here, Cap” Jayne replied from his spot on a nearby hill. He watched their advance on the abandoned factory through Vera’s night vision scope.

With that they entered through the fence and into the yard surrounding the factory.

The yard itself was littered with abandoned equipment of all shapes and sizes. Mal moved first from cover to cover, signaling for Zoe and Alek to follow if clear.

Zoe did not particularly like this arrangement, she was the scout. It wasn’t that Mal was not competent to do the job, but he was not as skilled as her, yet he had made it clear that he wanted her protecting the young Bernoulli.

Finally they made to the wall of the main building. They moved along it until they reached the door they meant to breach.

Zoe looked it over for a moment and found what she was looking for. “Here, Sir,” she said pointing out a spot on the outer edge of the door where she believed the sensor for the alarm system was located. She attached one end of a small handle shaped magnet to that spot, the other end she attached to the door frame.

Mal quickly removed what resembled a hand gun from the bag he had under his shoulder. From this he started to dispense a clear gel around the area. The gel contained a small red filament that the captain connected to a small cylindrical device which he attached to the door. Soon the gel was boiling away the metal of the door where it had been placed. Mal slowly grabbed the magnet Zoe had affixed one hand and the door handle with his other. Slowly he opened the door making sure the cut away section did not move and trigger the alarm. He waved the others in and then slowly shut the door behind them.

The inside of the building was lit only by a few safety light position around the outer walls. The building was surprisingly empty save for a few crates.

“I don’t see any pumps, Sir,” Zoe said nervously.

“Those crates could have the pumps in them, and those the controllers,” Alek said pointing at three, four by four by four foot crates which sat alongside three taller but much thinner ones.

As they started to move towards the crates Zoe said, “Sir, this doesn’t seem right. If this was going to be some sort of processing plant where is all the other equipment?”

“Maybe they didn’t get it yet, don’t matter to us,” the captain replied.

“These are them,” Aleksander said upon looking over the crates, “These are my dad’s shipping labels.

Mal smiled at the young man, “Guess we won’t need you to unhook anything.”

Suddenly the sound of automatic gun fire rang from outside the building.

“Jayne, what’s going on…Jayne,” the captain called, but did not get a response. “Serenity…anybody! Zoe.”

Zoe pulled the square com link from her pocket and brought it up to her mouth, “Jayne, River someone respond,” but no one did. “Someone jamming us?”

Mal drew his gun and aimed it towards the large door from where the sounds were coming; Zoe did the same with her Mare’s leg.

“Find cover!” the captain yelled.

As they took cover behind the crates the large door began to roll open and a number of men poured in. Mal and Zoe each took a man down as they did. The remaining men returned fire. Mal could see three additional men downed just outside the door, most likely from Vera and Jayne.

“They’re shooting up our merchandise,” Mal called to Zoe as bullets hit the heavy crates.

Zoe popped up and fired, dropping another man, “Don’t think they care!”

“What do we do?” Alek yelled from near Zoe.

Before anyone could answer an explosion erupted from near the door the men had entered. Mal looked out from behind the crate to see a few of the men scattered from the blast, he took the opportunity and shoot one of them. A moment later Jayne came around the corner of the door way and opened fire taking out two more men. In the confusion of the crossfire the last two men left their cover and were soon felled.

“Sure glad I brought grenades,” Jayne yelled from the doorway.

The sounds of Serenity’s engines filled the room and a moment later the skylight nearly above them smashed as a heavy barrel fell thought it. The Ship hovered just over the building as Kaylee lowered the winch through the busted skylight. Piece by piece the crew towed up the six crates and themselves. As Mal was being lifted into the ship the sounds of approaching authorities could be heard.

“Zoe get us out, NOW!” he yelled as he reached the bottom of the ship.

Zoe ran over the panel and hit it saying, “River, boo yao ming duh soo doo!”

Without a word Serenity spun and quickly started to ascend into the heavens just as Mal was far enough into the ship to begin closing the lower doors.

“Is everyone okay?” Inara asked from the catwalk above.

Mal looked up and smiled at her, “Just another day at the office.”

“Anyone hurt?” Simon asked from the doorway to the common area.

“This is normal?” Alek asked sitting on the cargo bay floor.

“There’s a drone following us, it will be in missile range before we can break atmo!” River voice called over the ships address system.

Mal scrambled to his feet, “Kaylee, engine room, Jayne, with her. Inara get Aleksander on your shuttle just in case,” he ordered racing to the bridge with Zoe right behind him.

“How we doing lil’ one?” the captain asked hurtling onto the bridge and moving next to River.

The unmanned intercept drone raced towards the raising ship. It looked like a miniature single engine fighter jet armed with two missiles, each capable of punching a large hole in Serenity’s hull and keeping her from leaving the planet.

“It will be in firing range…now,” River said as multiple alarms started screaming from the bridge panels.

“Break!” Mal ordered.

River replied, “No”

“Yes!”

“No”

“YES!”

“No”

“Yes gorram…”

“Yes,” River said as she banked hard to the left, causing the missile to overshoot and miss the hull by only a few meters.

“It’s coming back!” Zoe said urgently as the missile started a sharp turn.

Suddenly the alarms started again as the drone fired its second missile.

“Go vertical and we’ll go to full burn, the blow back…” Mal started

“No,” River interrupted, “trust me.”

Mal quickly glanced at her then back out the bridge window but did not say a word.

River steered the ship so the first missile looked to be headed right for them.

“I hope you know what you are doing,” Zoe said nervously.

As the two missiles and drone got closer River suddenly brought the nose of the ship up, turned the ship over onto its belly and then immediately dove. The two missiles tried to follow but slammed into each other. The debris from the blast pinged off Serenity’s hull causing a few new scratches. The drone was not as lucky as shrapnel ripped through its thin skin. The wounded drone started its fall from the sky as River brought Serenity back into a quick accent and soon out of the atmosphere.

Zoe slumped into the co-pilot’s chair, while Mal remained bent over and clutching the edge of the pilot’s console.

He finally stood up and looked at River, “Nice flying, Albatross.”

“Thank you,” the young girl said with a smile.

Jayne’s voice came over the com, “We alive?”

COMMENTS

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:50 PM

BYTEMITE


exciting. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:50 PM

REAVERFAN


I liked it. A couple of typos, but that didn't stop me from wanting to keep reading. Substitute "wiles" for "wilds," I say.

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:54 PM

M52NICKERSON


I made the change, thank you both for the comments.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 3:39 PM

EBFIDDLER


This was a very exciting action-packed chapter. Cool flying and explosions, nicely described. Who set them up? Meanwhile, I liked the scene with Mal and Inara, with Mal, while unwilling to see Inara earn her living her old customary way, nonetheless feels bad about being the reason she's not earning. I also liked River's thoughts, about being a normal teenager. The scene with River and her book and Aleksander was especially funny. I'm looking forward to seeing River's interactions with a guy close to her own age.


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