An Altered Perception - Chapter 3
Saturday, August 20, 2005

fixing stuff is about more than just machines


Chapter 3

The next morning Juliet wakes in her room in the passenger dorm. It’s small and quite plain, but far better than she’s used to. Getting up, she pulls on her Kevlar vest and the new jumpsuit lent to her by Kaylee. It had been a little bit too long for her so Kaylee had pinned up at the ankles. She ties up her combat boots, smiling at the neat rows of safety pins holding the material. Kaylee’s a good person, cheerful and kind in everything she does, yet Juliet can tell there’s something bothering her, making her nervous, giving her bad dreams. Sighing, Juliet combs out her long red hair and twists it up into a rather messy bun, resolving to try and help the mechanic out any way she can. As she walks out, she straps her holster on, over the jumpsuit this time, settling her little gun comfortably in it. They may be in deep space, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were alone. Sliding open the fiberglass door, she makes her way up through the ship to the dining area. Serenity. She’s a nice ship, thinks Juliet, as she walks slowly up, trailing her hand along the metal of the corridor. She can feel the memories of the people who have walked the self same route, pulsing through her. Most notable are Mal and River, their hands following the same trail as her own. Serenity is their home. Maybe, finally, this could also be her’s. She stands in the doorway to the dining area, watching Mal, Zoë, Wash and Inara sit around one end of the table, eating breakfast. Kaylee and Jayne sit on the couches playing some sort of card game, which, Juliet notes with interest, Jayne is letting Kaylee win. Mal is first to notice her. “Hey Jule,” he says, and Juliet feels her heart flutter at the shortened version of her name. “Want some breakfast? We got blue protein, pink protein, green protein, hell we even got moldy protein if you happen to like that kind of thing.” He grins at her and she smiles warmly back, sits down and takes a couple of bits of the protein, but avoids the blue ones. She’d never liked them for some reason. “So,” says Inara, taking a sip of her tea, “what do you plan on doing until we reach Persephone?” “Hadn’t really thought about it. I could help with cleaning up the alternators.” She looks over and smiles at Kaylee, who is staring, wide mouthed, back at her. “How did you… oh, yeah. D’you know much ‘bout engines at all?” “I’ve seen a few – know my way round them at least.” Without even having to look, Mal can tell Zoë is radiating suspicion like a bonfire radiates heat. Great. He hates it when Zoë is all worried about something, because that’s when things tend to go wrong. Damn her and her infernal logic. After breakfast, Kaylee takes Juliet to the engine room. Kaylee pulls out her toolbox and the girls sit down by the engine. “She really is beautiful, Kaylee,” Juliet says, watching the engine slowly spinning round. Kaylee beams at the complement, looking up from her tools at the heart of her girl. “Yeah, she is.” “Kaylee?” Juliet begins to sort out the tools from the box, picking out the ones that would be needed. “Yep?” Juliet pauses, wondering if she should or not. “Something’s broken, you should try to fix it, right?” “Yeah. Always. Don’t do the ‘verse no good if’n we just threw ‘way what weren’t right. Not if it can be made right.” Kaylee lies back, sliding under the engine and reaching in to click and pull out a part. The engine has two alternators, and it could run on one for a short while. Besides, they’re needing a good overhaul else they could end up blocked up and need to be replaced. And alternators aren’t cheap. She disconnects it and slides back out, pulling it with her. The part, when new, would have been silvery and shiny, but now it is coated in white residue and black carbon, all gunked up. She places it in front of her, between herself and Juliet. Time to get cleaning. Juliet knows what to do. She’d been a mechanic before, hell she’d been almost everything before, and besides, Kaylee’s mind is so focused on what she needs to do, that it’s easy. The alternator is about a foot cubed, and they set to work gently prizing it apart. Once it lies open before them, they set to work with small brushes and pliers, teasing out the gunk. Finally, Juliet works up the courage to ask. “Kaylee, what did Early do to you that gives you such bad nightmares?” Kaylee starts in surprise, dropping her pliers. “What?” “I’ve been trying to work it out, but it just… You keep it well buried.” “But, why, what, how’d you…” Kaylee looks terrified. “Kaylee, I want to help. It doesn’t help to keep things inside, secret. I can be here as a friend, someone to talk to, if you want.” Juliet picks up her pliers, pressing them back into her hand. “So can anyone else on the ship. Just trust them. Trust me, I can see what’s going on.” She taps the side of her head to demonstrate. Kaylee smiles at her, slightly sadly. “Thanks Juliet. You’re a real nice person, you know that?” Juliet grins. “Nah, I shoot people too often. You’re the real nice one around here. At least, certain people seem to think so.” “What?! Oh, hey, that’s not fair!” Juliet smiles knowingly, shaking her head. “Not for me to say. He threatened you, didn’t he?” “Early?” Kaylee’s smile drops. “Yeah. Scared me. I just feel like I was so stupid, so useless. Picked up a tool to defend myself and when I came face to face with him I just dropped it.” Juliet smiles, tugging out a rather stubborn bit of gunk. “We can’t all be warriors, you know. Besides which, you escaped anyway, let the captain out of his quarters, completed the whole plan.” “I told him where River was! I was the gorram weak one, folded completely.” She wrenches out a final bit of gunk and begins to close the alternator up. “Doesn’t matter. He would have found her anyway. He wanted to break you, make you think you had betrayed everyone. That’s how he uses people, hurts them.” Kaylee gasps at her, the part in her arms, ready to go back in. “But, how do you know…” “He stood right here, where I’m sitting. Can still feel his presence, still hurting you, still winning.” Juliet waits as Kaylee fits the alternator back in place, tears in her eyes. “Kaylee?” “Yeah?” “Don’t let him.”


Once finished his breakfast, Mal goes up to the bridge, soon followed by Zoë and Wash. Wash sits down in his pilot’s seat and Mal takes the co-pilot’s seat. “So,” says Zoë, as Mal knew she would. “She can work an engine. Well, she just keeps on getting funner and funner by the minute.” “Zoë, will you give it a rest! She ain’t done nothin’ to no-one, and if she’s got some wacko psychic powers, then she’s gonna know you don’t like her!” A stunned silence greets this outburst until an alarm goes off. Wash moves to check it. “That’s odd,” he says, frowning at the console. “What is it?” Mal asks, turning away from Zoë’s angry glare and going to look over Wash’s shoulder. “Well, it’s an older model Firefly, older’n this one… but…” “Wash, what the hell is it?” “Che che sha ma long dong che, they’re flying without core containment.” Wash’s face show’s his absolute terror, mirrored in Mal’s. “Reavers.”


Saturday, August 20, 2005 10:09 AM


hmm. . . i like jule. :)
but then, when has zoe been wrong?

Monday, August 22, 2005 8:03 AM


Gulp, Reavers! - Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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