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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
"Serenity sets down on Bounty. Inara takes a client. Captain Reynolds finds a job for ship and crew. For once things look shiny. Meanwhile the star ship Enterprise has problems of its' own and an enemy that will take it far beyond the stars."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 3303 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "ALL KINDS OF TROUBLE"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: No specific pairing.
STATUS: New. Crossover.
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "Serenity sets down on Bounty. Inara
takes a client. Captain Reynolds finds a job for ship and
crew. For once things look shiny. Meanwhile the star
ship Enterprise has problems of its' own and an enemy
that will take it far beyond the stars. Trip finds himself on
the horns of a dilemna."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
'Enterprise' and its' characters are the property of 'Paramount'.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
"ALL KINDS OF TROUBLE"
A "Firefly"/"Enterprise" story
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
"The way sensible people relate to the
world is to avoid both rejection and attachment,
and to treat others justly." - The words of LUNYU
He wasn't much of a one for words. Figured a man did what was necessary. What was right as he saw it. Words just got in the way of intentions. Clouded things a mite too much in the Black. His needs were simple. His requirements few but not up for negotiation. A ship. A crew. A job. Together it was enough to keep flying. Everything else was gravy. He should'a known the gravy was trouble. All them words and all.
It was Caleb Johnson. Not a man known face to face by any of them but with a reputation that preceded him. Not that he had known that at the time. Intermediaries did his talking for him. Lined up the job, found him and his crew on a mudpit hole called Bounty. Never was a planet more poorly named. His head was spinning but he tried to remember. Hang on as long as he could to conscious thought though it ached some. Every last pathetic second of it. It was all he had.
THREE DAYS PRIOR...
Simon Tam squinted at Wash. The view from the cockpit not inspiring him much at all. "What did you say this place is called?"
The pilot flicked a few switches not looking at the doctor. "Bounty."
"Doesn't look much like a Bounty to me."
The quiet steady voice of the Captain reached him from the doorway. Simon had not heard Captain Malcolm Reynolds appear. The man was a ghost on his feet. Simon pushed the thought from his mind. The Captain always made him feel nervous. Unsettled. As if he should walk soft around him though he had no idea why. "Inara has a client here. Figure we may as well see if I can pick us up a job. In the meantime the rest of you might want to stretch your legs and take a look around. No wanderin' off mind. I want everyone back on board ready to go in six hours."
Wash turned his head to look at Mal. "What if we don't find a job by then?"
"We'll find somethin'. Always do."
It wasn't exactly what either Wash or Simon wanted to hear but that was life. You took what you could get and were damn grateful for the getting.
"'Sides, Kaylee needs to work on the engines. A pause for Serenity to catch her breath will do us all good I'm thinkin'."
"If you say so, Captain." Mumbled Wash. They all had a hundred reasons for flying. Only one for setting down. The Sky was safety. Freedom. Serenity was Home. The rest was merely a means to hold that dream together and make it their own.
The Captain smiled slightly. A gloss over dark emotions held always in check. "I do so."
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BLACK
The ship sailed sleek and graceful through a river of stars. Captain Jonathan Archer enjoyed the lull, the quietness of walking his ship while most of the crew slept. It was late and he should be asleep in bed, letting the beta shift man the pride of Starfleet but he was restless. Something T'Pol had said to him earlier struck an echo inside him and he did not like it. The way it frayed his nerves and inflamed his temper. Ever since the terrible news about the Xindi attack on Earth and the terrible cost they had paid he was painfully conscious of the implaccable darkening of spirit echoed in the eyes of his closest friend. He had known Commander Tucker a long time. Nearly ten years now. Thought he had seen him in every emotional state there was. They had shared most of each others joys and woes and both come out the other end with their friendship stronger than ever. But this. This attack on their homeworld and the news that Trip's kid sister Lizzie was one of over 7 million who had died. It seemed to have killed the best in Trip. Leaving a cold dark place that made him shiver every time he looked into his Chief Engineer's eyes. It hurt him to see that pain. That emptiness. That need for vengeance burning darker and darker with every passing hour. Yet it hurt more to look away.
He thought again of T'Pol. Her words about the Commander cutting him like knives. So seemingly emotionless and hard at the time. He had automatically defended him and was annoyed that it should have been necessary. Told her to her face to back off and leave him be. People grieved in their own way. Her adamantine will forced him to hear words that haunted him. Hating himself for listening even though the choice to do so had not been his.
"You are making a mistake, Captain."
He remembered how his lips had tightened into thin hard lines only a fool - or a Vulcan - would think to cross. "This has nothing to do with you, T'Pol."
"Commander Tucker should not be on this mission."
He glared at her. "You are out of order. Trip has more right to be here than you have!"
She did not back down and he could not tell how she took his angry retort yet he felt a tinge of shame for hitting out at her like that. She had resigned her commision with the Vulcan High Command to go with them. Everything she had worked so hard for she had surrendered in order to do what she could to help. To help him. This crew. Yet he could not show it. Not give in to her even if a tiny part of him thought she was right. *That* was what frightened him most of all. That she could be right. "He will endanger this mission."
The Captain threw back his head and gave a bitter laugh. "Endanger this mission?" He was pacing slowly now, a parody of humour on his pain wracked face. Serious as a heart attack. "T'Pol, those bastards attacked Earth for no other reason than to make a pre-emptive strike based on information that one day - not today, not tomorrow, but FOUR HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW, we would destroy them. They killed over 7 million Humans in the blink of an eye. Of course Trip is mad. He's hurting. Wants to hit back at the people that did this, the same as the rest of us. It's not about simple vengeance, T'Pol. We have the rest of Humanity in danger. If we don't stop the Xindi now there won't be an Earth for us to come back to."
The bar was pretty full but still managed to look half empty. Partly on account of the spaces between the dusty tables. It was dim and murky inside like most of the bars Captain Malcolm Reynolds had ever set foot in. Grubby and half sleeping in its' own grit and grime. Any sign of spit and polish would have been met with gunfire. People liked what they were used to. Comfortable with. The Captain cast a steady eye around him as he wove carefully but casually towards a table in the far corner. A place where he could have a solid wall to his back and a good view of all the entrances and exits. No surprises now. They tended to leave a man with more ventilation than nature had intended. Jayne Cobb walked a pace behind him, his eyes shadowed by the brim of his dark hat. Watching the Captain's back while looking out for his own.
Zoe walked beside the Captain. Everyone else but Wash and Kaylee had elected to take the Captain up on his offer and do a little sight seeing. Shop around for supplies and generally feel solid ground beneath their feet. The Captain was already missing the Black. Something did not feel right. He began to feel uncomfortable about telling the others to look around. Zoe picked up on his mood but said nothing until they were carefully ensconced in the far corner with a wall at their back and the dim light partly hiding them. Both seemed to ease into the shadows like old friends. "What's wrong?"
His eyes were not on hers. They were casting slowly around the room without the need to turn his head. Made him look more relaxed than he was but she knew him too well. That knowledge kept them both alive more times than either could count. "I don't like this. Might've been a mistake bringing Serenity to the surface. Should'a brought a shuttle. Left the others on the ship."
She raised her eyebrows slightly. "I'd say that's more than not liking, sir. Sounds almost parnoid."
"I can survive paranoid."
A silence fell. Both were aware that Jayne had dropped back and found himself a spot by the door.
"Who's our contact, sir?"
"Couple of men called Black and Stone. We have a half hour 'till they're due."
"And the job?"
"We'll know when they get here."
She nodded. It was not unusual to have a carrot dangled with no label on it. Something drifted in her mind like an incongruous piece of jigsaw. "I can't believe Inara has clients on this mudpit."
A sardonic smile twisted the Captain's lips. Images sparked in his mind. A flicker of dark humour in his eyes. "Mudpit? I can see that."
The odd comment made her flick her eyes towards him. Zoe saw the tease in his eyes even though he was not looking at her. "Sir?"
He gave her an amused glance. "Mud." At her continued blank look his amusement rose a notch. His smile widened slightly. "You really have led a sheltered life, Zoe."
"Perhaps you could fill in the gaps in my education?"
He chuckled softly but not soft enough to hide the distinctive click of a weapon cocking. The cold shaft of steel pressing against the back of his right ear as he went rigid.
ON BOARD ENTERPRISE
Lt Malcolm Reed was worried. He had gone to Florida with Trip. Seen the devastation first hand. Listened with pain in his heart as the Commander pointed out where his sister would have been staying. Other landmarks ticked off among the rubble. The destruction was more than comprehensive. It was total. The swathe cut by the attacking orb had left no survivors in its' wake. He could not help worrying about his friend. Especially the way all the light and joy in him had been extinguished when they had first heard the news. He had tried to tell him that perhaps Lizzie had been somewhere else when the Xindi had attacked but Trip shook his head. As if somehow his heart knew the truth even without his eyes having to see it plain as day before him. Back on Enterprise he had suggested a memorial. A service to allow his friend to say goodbye. To grieve. And hopefully. One day. To heal. But it was too soon and Trip was too far into that cold hard melancholy that soliders of battles long lost rarely returned from.
Now Malcolm was sitting alone in his quarters trying to think of a way he could help but he knew they were passed that. The Commander would have to find his own way back. All he could do as his friend was stand beside him and help any way he could. He sighed. Got no comfort from the fact that the attack had been on the United States. England was small fare by comparrison but it had escaped for the moment. He wondered how Maddy was doing. About his parents. No doubt his father was bellowing at the top brass to do something. At least he had the satisfaction of not being able to hear him from here. His mother though would be alone and for that he was sorry. A gentle, quiet lady with expressive eyes and clever hands. A perfect compensation for his father's volatile temper and dark mood swings. Yet his father loved them all, Malcolm knew. It was just hard for him to show the emotion.
He sighed. Knew he would not be getting any sleep tonight. Better to have a shower, change into a clean uniform and go and check the retrofitted upgrades. The Armoury always helped to calm him. Perhaps Trip was doing the same in Main Engineering. Keeping busy to clear the mind of dark thoughts with nowhere to run. They had a few hours of calm before the Delphic Expanse embraced them. He wondered if the Klingons would send anyone else after Captain Archer or whether fear of the Expanse would give them one less thing to worry about. As he walked briskly to check his new torpedoes a feeling of pride touched him. The yield of the new torpedoes had certainly knocked the stuffing out of those Neanderthal Klingons. He just hoped they would pack enough of a punch to do the same to the Xindi.
"Who might you be?"
A figure slid round from behind him and stepped into view. The one holding the gun to his head did not. Where the hell had they come from? He considered that the wall behind him was not so solid after all. He almost shuddered as the thought triggered off a memory of Niska. His ear was still sensitive from the torture of being cut off then reattached. Some of the nerves undoubtedly cross wired making it intensely more sensitive than it had been not numb and void of feeling as he would have expected. Still. Dr Tam did good work. The proof was stitched to the side of his head. A gory but welcome prize. Man felt unbalanced with only one ear. *Wu de ma* why did these gorram things have to happen to him?
"Name's Black. The one with the gun at your head is Stone."
Captain Reynolds radiated a calm he did not feel. His voice soft. Coaxing almost. The hint of steel in his eyes belied his demure facade. Everyone at that table knew it. "Gentlemen, no need to get testy. We're business men. You have a job for us and we're here to do it."
"Can't be too careful. Your name?"
"Captain Malcolm Reynolds. And this is my second, Zoe Warren." A slight pause. "Now are we gonna talk business or walk away?"
"Oh you won't be walking anywhere my dear Captain." Oozed Black in a voice that froze the blood in Mal's veins. This was not good.
"You set us up." It was a statement. Calm. Flat.
"You set yourselves up. Wish I could take all the credit but there it is."
"Who for? Whatever you're being paid we can match it."
The man laughed, genuinely amused. "I doubt it. Now on your feet nice and slow like."
"And if I don't want to play your game?"
"Well then, the lady pays."
The Captain's eyes narrowed. "This boss of yours, is it just me he wants?"
"Why you askin'?"
"If it's just me then let Zoe go. Disarm her if you have to but no sense in carrying more burden than you're being paid to tote."
There was a moment's silence. Zoe's eyes were fixed on his but he was not looking at her. Did not dare take his attention off Black.
"Do I look stupid?"
"We came here in good faith, Black. Now maybe your boss has a problem with me and if that's so we should sort it out between us. No need to bring others into this. Seems to me you have your hands full enough without making enemies you don't need."
"You're a cool one I'll give you that but she'll be insurance against you misbehavin'."
"I give my word."
"Your word ain't worth squat, *dong ma?* Now like I said, nice and easy."
Over by the door Jayne had seen the two men join his friends. Was alert to the fact that one remained standing behind the Captain while the other moved to face him. He was too far away to hear what was said but he could sense a building tension. He cradled Vera and wrapped a finger around the trigger, his body stiffening as several men suddenly came into the bar and levelled sawn off shotguns at him. Point blank range. He growled but knew he could do nothing. He was instructed to drop his weapon to the floor and reluctantly did so. To his surprise he was not tied up or manhandled. They just wanted him to stay exactly where he was. Not moving. Not trying anything. He narrowed his eyes and began to calmly calculate the odds.
* * * * *
Commander Trip Tucker was on the Observation Deck. Passionless eyes gazed blankly out at the slow stream of stars blurring his vision. Lizzie. His baby sister. All light and happiness. He could hear her voice like laughing bells ringing in his head. Memories so bright they outshone the glitter of his tears in the artificial lighting. He had dimmed the lights as much as he could without actually shutting them off. His heart ached so bad. Anger for the moment replaced the warmth stolen by shock. Gave him something to cling to however bitter the taste. They would pay for this. These Xindi would learn that their actions carried a terrible cost. He clenched and unclenched his fists in mute promise. Not realising he was no longer alone until the cool voice interrupted his silent reverie.
"I am sorry for your loss."
He just gave a partial nod. Did not speak or turn to look at her. T'Pol read his mood from his body language. Knew from the Captain's impassioned words that the Commander was suffering a great deal of pain and anger. His grief bent only on revenge.
She thought he was not going to answer. Was surprised when after seconds of silence he turned his head, bleak eyes staring at her as if he barely knew her. "You still here?"
"You need to rest."
He did not have the energy or inclination to mock her words. Bad enough she had spoken at all. "I'll rest plenty when the mission's over."
He turned back to face the fleeing stars. T'Pol stepped forward until she stood alongside him. She contemplated the stubborn profile for a while. He hardly moved. Seemingly intent on the emptiness within that was devouring him inch by inch. T'Pol was not without compassion. "Commander, we will all need our strength when we catch up with the Xindi."
"You are not alone."
He wanted to lash out at her. Say terrible things. Throw her words back in her face but with fusion bombs attached. Only he could not do it. The fight in him was reserved for the enemy. Not T'Pol. Not even their fair-weather friends the Vulcans who had chosen to desert them at a time like this. Refusing to become involved in what could possibly be the complete annihilation of the Human Race. He had no polite words for how much that screwed him up inside. But one Vulcan had remained. Just one. He was not about to throw that in her face no matter how bad he felt about the rest of her species. "T'Pol, I'm not much company right now..."
"I did not come for your sparkling wit, Commander."
If he was not so swallowed up by sadness and dispair he would have laughed. Even now he wished life were that simple. Would it ever be simple again? He didn't know. And somehow he thought he should. "Then what did ya come for?"
"The Xindi do not appear in the Vulcan database."
That got his attention. Trip turned and looked at her. The blankness held at bay by the need for information. "But ya have heard of them?"
She shook her head. "No."
He was about to yell at her to get out if she had nothing useful to contribute but her words forestalled him. The building anger abated as he listened.
"We do not but there is another race that does."
"Another race?" He held his breath. A faint hope hammering at the walls of his heart.
"Yes, but it will not be easy."
He searched her eyes. Not comprehending her hesitation. "T'Pol, I don't care how difficult it is, who are they? We can tell the Cap'n and arrange a rendezvous. Or failing that an exchange of information."
The Vulcan looked sad. "The Klingons."
Trip stepped back in shock. It took him a few moments to recover his powers of speech. "Are ya kiddin'? Is this some kind of sick joke? 'Cause if it is T'Pol, I'm not laughin' and neither will the Cap'n."
"No, Commander, it is no joke. The Klingons and the Xindi know each other."
There was a long pause. "Are they... friends? Allies?"
"We do not have that information."
He nodded feeling sick to his stomach. "I know, if we want to find out we'll have to go speak to the Klingons."
She nodded. "It would seem a logical conclusion."
"Only right now the Klingon Empire wants the Cap'n's head on a pole and doesn't much care how it goes about getting it."
"We are going to leave now. You will tell your man by the door not to follow. If your crew wish to board the vessel and leave they may do so but you are staying here."
Mal looked at his captors for any sign of weakness. He saw none but he still had to try. "Then leave Zoe with Jayne. The man by the door, his name's Jayne."
Black shook his head. "One more plea for her life and we will kill her. *Dong ma?*"
He felt his stomach lurch but managed a nod and gave Zoe a look of regret. Her expression was unreadable. He was sorry that whatever trouble he was in he had dragged her in alongside him. She deserved better than that. "Where we going?"
For the first time since their meeting Black smiled. Rotting teeth made him think of a death's head. "You'll see. Don't wanna spoil the surprise for you."
Black kept Zoe sitting while Mal got to his feet. His movements deliberately slow so as not to spook the two men. Stone removed the gun from Mal's holster and patted him down, Black grinning at him all the while. It was beginning to really piss him off but right now he was powerless to do anything about it. In his head he was keeping a tally. Stone tapped his head with the gun barrel. "Hands behind your back."
He did as he was told and felt the catgut sting his wrists as his hands were bound. A hard jerk on the twine let it bite deep into the skin making him hiss. He could feel his circulation being cut off. "Hey, no need to cut through my wrists."
Black leaned into his face. "When our employer gets through with you, your wrists will be the last thing you'll be worryin' about."
Something cold slithered down his spine. It took but a moment to realise it was a feeling of dread.
"Now, up you get. Move!"
CHINESE GLOSSARY: *Wu de ma* = Mother of God. *Dong ma* = understand.
Friday, December 2, 2005 3:14 AM
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