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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. River makes a (sort of) friend, Jayne meets up with some old ones, and Mal might have a problem. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1440 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
“What’s your name?” River asked, even though she had already plucked it from his mind. No point in making them even more scared of her.
“G ... Georgiou,” he stammered.
She glanced at him as she led the way up the damp, musty staircase, lit sporadically by dim light panels. There was enough illumination to see his normally swarthy skin, dark curly hair and full lips. “Daedalus.”
He looked surprised. “How did you know?”
She shrugged. “Lucky guess.” In fact she could see his entire life spread out in his mind – his childhood in a small town on the shore of an inland sea (too far from anything fun or cosmopolitan), his parents who worked in one of the local factories (old-fashioned and dull), his education (pointless, except for the calculus classes), his girlfriend (with black hair long enough to sit on, or wrap her lover in under the stars to the sound of waves breaking on shingle) ... at least until the day he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and all of it was taken away from him.
“Will we ...” He swallowed. “Can we go home?”
She didn’t answer, just held up her hand, first to her lips then to stop them, then vanished around the corner. Georgiou strained to hear something, almost stepping back as there was a scream, then a gunshot, a second, a scuffling sound ... and silence.
Georgiou gripped the rifle tighter, his finger almost spasming on the trigger as River reappeared, holding out another pair of guns.
“Do not shoot me,” she warned, handing the weapons to an older man and a young woman.
“Are they ... did you ...”
“Yes. If you don’t want to see, close your eyes.” She led the way forward.
Georgiou, feeling as if his life was hanging by a thread, swore softly under his breath and followed her.
Pederson watched these strangers, less than a handful of men and women, take his crew apart. Even the guns he’d hired locally weren’t standing a chance.
It wasn’t that he was a coward – he’d killed more than his share of men in what he considered fair fights where they had at least a chance of getting a shot off – but discretion had saved his life more than once. Due care and attention, as his old Browncoat sergeant said once.
He’d lost contact with his ship, which he hoped was down to a communication failure rather than something more fatal, although he was willing to make it that way if his men had given up. It was more worrying that MacDonald hadn’t called in either, and there was nothing from the camp beyond a garbled message that there was a demon inside.
A demon. Right. He was going to have to ban drops while on the job.
The man and woman he was following split up, but he stuck with the man. It wasn’t that he was against killing women, but it would be easier now they’d separated. Besides, maybe he could knock her out instead – she looked just the kind one of his contacts might like. She might even last longer that the last couple had. But first the man.
He’d rather shoot a man face to face, and it was always less soul-worrying if they were armed, just as he’d told Simon so very long ago. But needs must, as his mother used to say, and faced with odds not in his favour he tended towards the philosophical, and the other adage of ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ tended to come to mind as well.
The man moved to his right, probably trying to get a clearer shot, and Mal moved with him, except something hidden in the snow rolled under his foot and he staggered.
His quarry began to turn, his finger already tightening on the trigger even as Mal compensated, firing on instinct. The man’s head snapped back, the bullet catching him in the temple and taking most of his brain with it as it exited.
Mal? Freya, worrying about him, as usual.
I’m fine, xin gan. Shiny. You?
River has the slaves at the entrance, but they’re pinned down.
I’m coming. He started to run.
No. We’re not out here alone, Mal. Stay where you are.
Frey, I don’t take kindly to taking orders, even from you.
It was almost as if she had smiled at him, and a warmth spread through his body. Just this once. River has an idea.
And I should find that comforting ... how?
Like father like daughter.
She ain’t my daughter, Frey.
Blood has never been that important, has it? Otherwise you wouldn’t be married to a Rostov, would you?
A Reynolds, if you don’t mind.
She laughed, the sound clear even in his mind. I don’t mind at all. Just stay alert.
When don’t I? But he was alone in his head again.
He sighed heavily, wondering – as he often did – when he had stopped being captain and started being little more than a hired hand. Then a smile tilted his mouth. Not that he’d give up what he had now to go back to that older, lonely time. For a man who had once thought all he needed was to keep flying, he’d surely been blessed.
Gripping his handgun more securely, he waited for all of thirty seconds before making his way closer to the camp. After all, he was still captain.
Zoe had been waiting, more or less patiently, until River’s voice in her head had made her almost jump out of the pilot’s chair.
We need assistance.
Zoe took a breath. “River?”
Yes. Although who else you think it might be, I’m not sure.
It had taken a lot of self-control not to say what she really thought. “Right.”
Zoe. There was no doubt the psychic had picked it up anyway from the admonishing tone. The shuttle. Here. She laid out a location in Zoe’s mind.
Serenity’s first mate was already bringing the engines back to full power. “Two minutes.”
I think we can wait that long. Just.
From her vantage point in the rocks, ironically very close to where Hank had been shot, Freya watched as the shuttle came in low, tossing snow and debris up into the air and obscuring the view of the snipers sitting high on the camp buildings. It also didn't do much for the men on the ground, either, as they shielded their eyes and faces.
She fired her rifle, catching one of them in the shoulder, and he went down yelling and clutching the wound, unheard above the sound of the shuttle’s engines. Another twisted just as she pulled the trigger again, and this time the bullet caught him across the upper chest, gouging a deep crevice if the blood spatter was anything to go by. He fell as well, trying to curl up around the pain.
Down in the camp itself, River had her eyes closed and started to move forward into the man-made storm.
“No! Stop!” Georgiou shouted to be heard above the noise, grabbing her arm. “You’ll be killed!”
She glared at him, something in her eyes that made him take a step back. Something had looked at him that wasn’t entirely human, and he felt fear coursing through his veins.
“Crazy lunatic assassin,” she murmured, although he wasn’t sure he’d got the words properly. “This is what I was made to be.” She pulled herself loose and walked purposefully out of the cover of the entrance.
Jayne couldn’t get up to a decent gallop on the horse he’d found near the two corpses. He’d barely glanced at them, not feeling a moment’s regret despite the obviousness of their deaths, just intent on getting back to help his family. Still, in a way it was a good thing he couldn’t go at any speed, otherwise he could have been pitched head first into a boulder as the borrowed horse dropped beneath him. He rolled forward, stones grazing any bare flesh, and lay still.
“Old Yung Chow isn’t going to like you shooting one of his best hire horses,” Wes Tanner observed drily.
Brad’s mouth twisted into a sneer. “Hell, I’d be willing to pay for half a dozen of the gorram things just to do this.”
He stepped down from the hover that had moved fast enough to be unheard, and dropped lightly into the snow, moving cautiously towards the downed man.
“Is he dead?” Wes asked, following his brother to the ground but hanging back a little.
“I don’t think so.” Brad leaned forward. “I think he’s breathing.” He prodded Jayne with the toe of his boot. “You dead, Jayne Cobb?”
Jayne could feel the melting snow starting to soak his pants and coat, but he lay still, his eyes closed, trying to control his breathing to play possum.
“If he was, do you think he’d answer?” Wes asked conversationally.
“Better not be,” Brad grunted. “Not with what I got planned for him.” He reached up to touch the puckered scar on his neck, but stopped himself. “Burning’s gonna be the last of his worries,” he added, in perfect truth. He reached out with his foot and jabbed Jayne in the hip again, harder this time. “I think he’s out cold, though. Might have to wait ‘til he comes round before I start cutting things off.”
Wes watched as his brother holstered his gun only to draw a long-bladed knife from the sheath at his back, testing the razor edge with his thumb.
River could feel Jayne, and while she desperately wanted to go to him, to help, she knew she had her own job to do, and ignored the stinging lash of the snow, grit and small stones churned up around her and slapping into her exposed flesh. Instead she walked further, her mental image as clear as if she was standing in bright sunlight, nobody within a thousand miles. Her eyes still closed, she raised the rifle she’d taken from one of the men she’d killed.
Georgiou peered into the tempest, trying in vain to see the extraordinary young woman who had given him the possibility of actually having a life after all. Despite the bloodstains that had stained her skin red, he could tell she was attractive. A little skinnier than he usually liked, she also had dark hair and eyes, a combination that could make his blood pump just a little –
A woman screamed behind him, and he span on his heel in time to see a figure in the gloom, pointing something. A moment later a gunshot deafened them all and one of the men clustered together cried out and fell.
Without thinking Georgiou pulled the trigger of the gun in his hand, and the man was thrust backwards, his hands jerking a rifle up, a second bullet burying itself in the ceiling.
Georgiou approached carefully, but the man was dead. No man could be alive with most of his throat shot away.
Bile rose, but he swallowed it back as hard as he could. Now was no time to throw up, no matter how much he wanted to. Reaching out with trembling fingers he picked up the rifle, but nothing could make him pull the handgun from the dead man’s holster.
He stepped back quickly, handing the rifle blindly to someone, not sure if it was a man or woman, before taking his previous position back at the entrance. He stared again into the swirling fog, glad this time at least that he had something to blame for the tears streaming down his cheeks.
It was like seeing two torches floating in a night sky over a field of black, vaguely human-shaped, crouched against the force of the unseen tornado. The rifle was to her shoulder, and in the silence of the storm she aimed and fired.
The bullet sped out of the barrel, dragging a golden wake behind it, sparking like champagne. It had barely reached its target when she forced her body to move through the clutching darkness and aimed again, the projectile breaking the molecules of air apart just before it ploughed into skin and bone.
The torches flickered and went out.
Land. Take charge. I have somewhere to be.
River nodded, her eyes still firmly shut because she wanted to be able to see again, and took to her heels, dodging around empty gateposts and leaping small boulders as if she was merely going for a stroll on a summer’s day.
They circled each other like two bears, trying to see a weak spot to utilise.
Jayne had used Brad’s impatience as he had begun to pace against him, using his legs to sweep the other man’s from under him.
Brad struck out as he fell, his knife sweeping through Jayne’s coat and catching his chest for an inch before hitting the grenade webbing and being jerked from his hand.
Jayne scrambled to his feet, but Brad was on his just as quickly, and they traded blows, neither of them pulling their punches. Jayne had the advantage of height, years and weight, but Brad was fuelled by a hatred that bordered on the psychopathic, making him forget the gun still in its holster, and intent on taking his opponent apart with his bare hands. Curses tumbled unheeded from his lips, and madness made his eyes seem to glow.
As he ducked away from a wild haymaker, Jayne knew he could take one of them, maybe both at a push, but Wes wasn’t about to be goaded into joining the physical affray, content to stand back and watch. This put Jayne at a distinct disadvantage. In fact, as far as he could see there were only three options: the first was keep the fight going as long as possible so that a) Brad didn’t win, and b) Wes wasn’t tempted to fire. The drawback to that was the fight couldn’t go on forever, and there was always the possibility that Wes would get bored and fire anyway, or Brad might land a lucky punch and take Jayne down.
Option two was pretty much the same as option one, but with the hope that River or Indigo would come to his assistance some time soon, although the provisos were the same. Option three ... well, technically there wasn’t an option three, beyond taking Brad out and avoiding a bullet long enough to do the same to Wes.
As it stood he rated his chances as slim to none, but the man who had serious considered he might actually get out of a fight with Reavers with his skin intact was nothing if not an optimist, and threw an uppercut that jarred Brad’s jaw and made his teeth slam together.
It didn’t even slow him down. Brad landed a lucky punch to his midriff, the air driven from Jayne’s lungs. The big man kept fighting, though, struggling to suck oxygen in, even as Brad moved in for the kill.
Jayne heaved his chest open, life-giving air finally making its way past the strictures in his throat, and threw all his remaining strength into a right hook that, had it landed, would have scrambled Brad’s brains.
For once Brad was quicker. He stepped back enough so that the blow did little more than ruffle his hair, but what it did do was bring him to his senses. He dragged his handgun from its holster, and aimed. “Hwoon dahn,” he ground out.
Wes tensed, knowing the end was coming. “Do it,” he ordered. “Kill him.”
Brad’s teeth showed in less of a grin than a rictus, letting the muzzle drop a fraction. “Gut shot, first, I think,” he said. “Then there’s a couple of places I can think of until he’s just begging to die. And I’ll be watching, the whole time.” His finger began to tighten.
A figure, face painted red, rose from behind the boulder in front of him like a devil through a trapdoor, and Brad’s jaw dropped, his muscles frozen in the act of pulling the trigger. It was only a moment, but for Jayne it was enough. He rolled away and when Brad’s aim automatically followed and he fired, it was Wes who was in direct line of the bullet, Wes who dropped his rifle from nerveless fingers as crimson bloomed on his coat and from his mouth, Wes who half turned to Brad, reaching out, trying to speak but drowning instead, before falling onto his face in the snow.
Brad stared at his brother then roared, the sound echoing back at him as he swung his gun towards Jayne, ready to riddle him with bullets until the mercenary was cut in two. Then he stopped, his movement halted as a red arm snaked around and the sharp edge of a blade pressed against his windpipe.
“Leave,” the demon whispered in his ear with the voice of an angel. “Go and live. Take your brother, or stay and die. Your choice.”
Brad wasn’t smart. He knew Wes had inherited the family brains, at least after Troy, but he’d just killed his brother, in front of witnesses, and that wasn’t something he could afford. Stepping back, his elbow coming up to connect with jaw or temple, his movement continued unchecked as his assailant wasn’t there. Instead a blow to his knee fractured something with a crack that made him yell in pain, and his personal world switched off as a knife hilt connected with the base of his skull.
“Oops,” River said.
“Is he dead?” Jayne asked, his lungs still sore.
“No. I didn’t hit him that hard. But he will have a headache when he wakes up.”
“Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.” He grinned wolfishly then looked at his wife. “You okay?” he asked, taking in the unnatural colouring.
“Not mine,” she admitted. “Mostly not mine.”
“You’re hurt?” He stepped closer, trying to see through the drying blood.
“A scratch, that’s all.”
“Then how come ...” He indicated the stain.
River shrugged. “A casualty. For the other side.” She looked down at Brad. “This one deserves to die too. He has killed both his brothers.”
She looked up surprise, a whole lifetime of questions in her expression. “Jayne?”
“No,” he repeated. “He ain’t worth the bullet. Besides, I got a better idea.”
Her eyes narrowed as she stepped delicately through his thoughts, then grew wider than ever. “Are you going to tell Mal where we’re going?”
“We’re together. And he’d only say no.”
For a long moment she merely gazed at him, then her lips curved. “My Jayne.”
“Yeah, well ... what he don’t know ain’t gonna hurt him.” He holstered Betsey and looked around. “And Medea might be glad to have her hover back.”
River looked at the vehicle. “I’ll drive.”
“That’s my girl.”
She looked at her hands, turning them over. “But not like this.” Stepping back she walked to a drift of snow and picked up two handfuls. She scrubbed at her skin, dropping it as it turned pink and replacing it with fresh fistfuls. Eventually, her hair hanging in wet tendrils, she was almost satisfied.
“Here,” Jayne said, taking his coat off and wrapping her in it. “Don’t want you catching pneumonia.” His voice was gentle, the one he never used with anyone else.
She luxuriated for a moment, her eyes closing as she breathed in his unique, distinctive scent, before she looked up in his ice blue orbs. “You’ll get cold,” she protested.
“Nah. Not me. Tough as old boots and twice as handsome.”
She began to smile, then her eyes widened. “Mal.”
She didn’t answer, just took off on flying feet, the coat falling unheeded to the ground.
The short hairs on the back of Jayne’s neck lifted, and he only paused long enough to grab the dropped garment from the ground before following his wife at a run.
to be continued
Tuesday, May 8, 2012 9:52 AM
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 3:56 PM
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