Between the Stars III - The Absence of Memory
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Maya. Post-BDM. (And darker than the others in the series.) “The ability to turn on the psychic gene ... reduce the insanity to almost nothing ... to produce an army on demand ... you would be feted throughout the Empire.” “There isn’t an Empire.” “There would be. Nobody would be able to stand against them. Blue Sun would rule.”


Simon sat back and stared at his notes. He’d only intended this to be an intellectual exercise, something to do in the long gaps between Mal getting shot, particularly now that Hank had been allowed to leave the infirmary and take up residence in the lower crew quarters, but it had become something else, something to set his gifted mind to in a place where he could just as easily have spent his time playing with his children and letting his intelligence stagnate. Not that playing tag and patching grazed knees wasn’t good for the soul, but sometimes he needed to ... extend himself. That extension had now borne fruit.

He had, at least on paper, done what the Alliance had failed to do.

“It’s wrong,” River said softly from the doorway.

He wasn’t surprised. He knew his sister couldn’t help herself, keeping tabs on everyone on board to make sure they weren’t about to go as crazy as she was, and she was sure to have picked up on his preoccupation. He ran his eye over the equations again. “I don’t think so. I checked my figures half a dozen times –”

“I mean what you have produced. It shouldn’t exist.”

He looked up at her. “It doesn’t. It’s just a theory.”

“You know it’s more. You know it would work.” She looked so sad that he got quickly to his feet and crossed the small room to hug her tightly.

“I just took what I knew of the Re-Pax, what Naxom does, the genetic markers we’ve managed to deduce –”

“Reverse engineering and experience. I know.” She shook her head. “It shouldn’t exist.”

“We don’t know if it would work.”

“Do you want to test it?”

He pushed her away enough so he could look into her eyes, those dark pools that now reflected her anxiety. “Of course not.”

“The ability to turn on the psychic gene ... reduce the insanity to almost nothing ... to produce an army on demand ... you would be feted throughout the Empire.”

“There isn’t an Empire.”

“There would be. Nobody would be able to stand against them. Blue Sun would rule.”

He felt the blood leave his face. “You’re not serious.”

“Every planet will have a testing centre, and each child tested. Those found suitable are taken from their families, injected, made to endure the sudden filling of their minds with a billion others, trained to hunt anyone who doesn’t think the way they should be thinking, to kill –”

“River, stop.” He’d seen it as she spoke, and knew she was right. Letting her go he grabbed up the papers and opened the chute to the medical incinerator Kaylee had rigged for him. He paused only a moment, then tossed them inside, knowing they were already ash as the door closed. “They’re gone.”


“I can’t forget it, though,” he added, regret in his voice.

“I can help.”

His eyes narrowed. “You ... how?”

“Break the bonds. Change ... certain memories. You will recall it as a bad dream, and not wish to revisit it.”

“Kill me with your brain, huh?”

“Probably not.”

“Probably.” He had to smile. “I'm not sure I like the uncertainty.”

“I’ll try my best.”

“Mmn.” Simon leaned back on the counter. “I could do it chemically. Use Anafaxilan to alter my recollection –”

“It would still be there.” She looked down at her bare feet and went on, “There will be others. People who can ream the secrets from your brain with no more difficulty than shelling peas. People like me.”

Simon shuddered. Sometimes he was almost afraid of his sister. “River ...”

She lifted her head, and this time the look on her face was pure love. “Let me help.”

“Will I know? I mean, will I remember that I used to know, and have just forgotten?”

“You mean like the time when I was four and I did your homework for you and told you you’d just forgotten doing it?”

He laughed. “You were ... very persuasive.”

“It was right, too. You got an A.”

“Which you crowed about for days.”

She shrugged. “I was four.”

“And a brat even then.”


“I know.” He gazed at her, his broken and damaged sister. “Will I know?” he asked again.

“No. You won’t remember letting me, either.”

An uncomfortable thought crossed his mind. “Have you ... done this before?”


“How do I know?”

“Because you’re Simon. You’re my brother. I don’t lie to you.”

He raised an eyebrow. “No?”

“Well, not about the important things.” She stepped delicately to one of the cupboards and started to assemble a hypo.

“What’s that?”

“A sedative.”

“Why? Is it going to hurt?”

“This is just in case.” She turned back. “You’d better sit down.”

He paused, torn. As much as he trusted his sister, he also couldn’t help thinking about the things she’d done in the past, from the Maidenhead to Miranda, and so many times since.

She sighed and rolled her eyes, her bare foot tapping on the deck.

“You know what I said before about you being a brat?” Simon asked, even as he lowered himself onto the stool next to the medbed.

He felt a slight sting on his neck, then the world dropped into darkness as her voice echoed from a long way away.



“Simon? Simon?”

Someone was shaking his shoulder. He lifted his head from where it had been resting on the medbed and blinked hard. “What?”

“Did you fall asleep?” It was Kaylee, smiling indulgently at him. “Honestly, sometimes I don’t know what you find to do with yourself all day.”

Something tickled his brain, something he’d been doing, but it shied away as he tried to grasp it, slipping back into a dream. Ah well, it can’t have been important.

“Me neither,” he admitted, pulling her down onto his lap. “Although I can think of a couple of things I’d like to be doing right now.”

She giggled as he nibbled on her neck, tasting sweat, engine grease and Kaylee.

“Daddy!” Hope tumbled into the infirmary. “You’ve got to be on my team!” she demanded, her short blonde curls shining with determination.

Simon looked at his little girl. “Team?”

“Yes.” Hope might not be his biological daughter, but she certainly had the same mannerisms as her siblings, and with her little fists on her hips, she looked very like her sister, Bethie. “We’re playing tag only Ethan’s got Auntie Frey and Bethie took Uncle Jayne and Auntie Zoe won’t let Uncle Hank play so I’ve got nobody to be on my team!” The words fell over each other as she tried to get them out all at once.

“What about Ben?”

Hope shrugged, another expressive action. “He’s not big enough.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s shoulder tag,” she said patiently, this time sounding so like her Auntie River did when she was explaining something that her father had to smile.

“Ah.” This was a game Jayne had invented one day, lifting Kaylee to sit on his shoulders so she was high enough to toss the silver ball through the improvised hoop. Simon looked into his wife’s eyes. “It looks like I have a prior appointment.”

“Surely does.” She got off his lap. “But I’m taking a rain check.”

“Of course.” He stood up. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” In two steps he’d crossed to the doorway and swept his little daughter up into his arms. “Besides, we’ll have to celebrate our victory.” He ran towards the cargo bay, Hope shrieking with laughter as they went, and Kaylee following to be the cheering section.

River watched from the entrance to her shipboard garden, satisfied for the moment. The danger had been averted, at least for now, until Simon found time on his hands again and he used it unwisely. She didn't know how many more times she could do this, but Freya had been very clear. Simon’s genius had to be kept occupied, because if his work ever reached the Alliance, or the New Browncoats, or Blue Sun ...

The Reavers would be the least of our worries. Freya’s voice was gentle, calming.

I know. But I can’t forget. It was there, the formula, spread out in her mind, with all the refinements that Simon hadn’t yet developed.

Then we’ll be strong together.

Mu qin ...

Cal wants to join in.

Freya was trying to change the subject, and River let her.

If we play, we’ll win.

You think? Freya sounded like she was laughing.

The psychic had to smile. Bet you one week’s laundry duty.

You’re on.

The sound of tiny motors behind her signalled the automatic watering system Kaylee had installed, and River closed the door to keep the precious moisture inside. Prepare to lose. She ran towards the cargo bay, ready to join the game and forget the future for just a while.


Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:14 AM


Two in a row?? *Does Happy Dance*

I recall some solid foreshadowing of this story's dark turn back towards the psychics....I cant wait. I love Simon figuring out the gene sequencing stuff to control the gift, thats just a great idea. River and Freya having to carry that burden is ripe for great storytelling.

So glad your keyboard has wandered back into the Verse :)

Friday, February 1, 2013 8:01 PM


Ohmygosh it must still be Christmas! Wonderful to have these back to back! Interesting foreshadowing. Simon needs a hobby. Or he needs to turn his attention to becoming a criminal mastermind. It would be safer for all.

Saturday, February 2, 2013 10:42 AM


Brilliant, Jane0904. You channel Simon and River so beautifully and I just love all the MAYA stories to pieces. Kudos to you! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 11:34 AM


great update and as always very much appreciated


You must log in to post comments.



Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XIV
This wasn’t how an ex-companion did things. Perhaps she’d been hanging around a certain Firefly captain for too long. He listened at keyholes as if it were a competitive sport.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew go to the Spring Lights Procession, Mal gives some good news, and Sir Warwick puts in another cameo. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XIII
“It’s a family tradition, Mal.” Eugenia patted his hand. “No matter who marries into us, whatever their name, the moment they say ‘I do’ they become Rostovs. So you are Malcolm Rostov. It has a fine ring to it, don’t you think?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A chapter of Mal and Freya, and a small revelation from Eugenia Rostov. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XII
Hank had to shake his head. In this day and age, when the entire output of every quill, pen and two-fingered monkey thumping on a keyboard was available on the Cortex, this statement of wealth and power was way over the top. He loved the feel of paper himself, turning the pages to get to the next twist, scanning the print to try and guess the next turn, but even his collection wouldn’t fill more than a shelf here.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank thinks about Zoe, Zoe thinks about Hank, while Freya and Mal have lunch. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XI
Freya felt flustered, as if her world had been turned upside down, black was white, and Jayne was the President of the Alliance.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Freya go to church, Hank doesn't go ice-skating, and maybe it's hinting at the calm before the storm. An extra long chapter to make up for the delay - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part X
He’d never had much to do with horses, having always been more interested in things that flew rather than things that trotted, but he had to admit that, close up, they were quite interesting. With quite a powerful odour that wasn’t unpleasant – in fact it reminded him a little of Jayne after he’d been working out, but he decided, wisely, not to mention that fact to the big man.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Badger have a chat, Alex extends an invitation, and Hank decides to play protector. A longer chapter to make up for the delay!]