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Destiny: The Director's Cut - 4
Friday, October 14, 2005

Repost of chapter 4. Destiny sets down on Shadow, Inara meets someone unexpected, and Mal gets a Wave that forces him to revisit the past. The bait is set, and the prey is biting...


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1617    RATING: 0    SERIES: FIREFLY

Baiting the Trap

Shadow “Okay, Inara, we’ve broke atmo. You’re free to go.” Hesh Davoy released the microphone and heard Inara’s response. “Thanks Hesh. I’ll see you in two days.” The pilot hung up the mike, focusing on keeping the Firefly steady as Inara’s shuttle departed for her rendezvous with the Governor. Having a Companion on board was certainly interesting, and it more often than not gained them access to places and jobs that they might otherwise be denied. It certainly made life on Destiny more upbeat; with the higher number of jobs coming in, Tark and Elise had upgraded their guns, Gretta had purchased the medical supplies she needed and Togan had finally been able to upgrade half of the parts on the engine. The ship ran much smoother now, and it made piloting her much easier. “Is Inara off?” Etris asked as he entered the Bridge. Hesh nodded, not taking his eyes off of the screens in front of him. “So she goes off again, having all sorts of exciting fun while we get stuck actually working,” the pilot whined. He risked a quick glance back at the Captain. “Does that seem right to you?” Etris laughed. “Her job does seem a mite more enjoyable than ours, doesn’t it?” “She’s still a whore.” Hesh recognized Elise’s voice and cringed. They didn’t need to get into this discussion again, not while he was trying to land Destiny and keep them all in one piece. Elise Dyan: merc, tracker, pilot, and hater of all things not done the hard way. Ever since Inara had come on board, things had gotten tense around Elise, particularly in the love area. The bed had gotten really cold between Hesh and Elise during the last month, after the pilot had voiced his opinion of support for the Companion. Well, he wasn’t going to get into it now, not with a job to do. “Later, dear,” he stated, making it sound as commanding as he could. He was surprised when he heard her retreating footsteps; she had actually listened to him for once. Etris patted his shoulder. “Have I ever told you how much I pity you?” * * * Volk stood just inside the door to the general store, watching the Firefly land on the far side of town and it’s shuttle settle gracefully on the back lawn of the Governor’s house. Behind him, Ketter approached, his blue-gloved hands shoved into his pockets, mirroring Volk. There were too many people wandering around the town; Volk wouldn’t have minded killing them all later himself, but with as many people as there were, too many questions would be raised, and even his superiors wouldn’t be able to quiet everyone. So the two of them were under orders to keep a low profile until the plan went into effect. Until the solution to their dilemma arrived and took care of any and all possible witnesses for them. “Is Anne in place?” Ketter asked. Volk nodded. “Is everything set on your end?” “Of course.” “When Reynolds comes, he cannot be allowed to leave this planet alive. None of them can. They have been in contact with the experiment for far too long.” “They will be dealt with. Along with everyone else.” Then he smiled, something that he did not do very often. Something that he reserved for moments of true glory. “No one will leave alive.” * * * Inara stepped out of the shuttle and onto the tarmac, smiling at the Governor as she did so. The gown she wore had been selected specifically after she had gone through Governor Prenatt’s profile. She wanted to make him as comfortable as possible. He stood with his hands at his side, his suit obviously chosen to accentuate his well-muscled form, his lips smiling showing perfect white teeth. Hit blond hair had been combed and styled, and Inara could see a trace of a scar above his left eye almost hidden behind a touch of makeup. “Miss Serra, you look extravagant.” Prenatt took Inara’s outstretched and brought it to his lips, kissing it softly. “Thank you, Governor,” Inara said in reply. She took a moment to look around the sprawling estate. She had heard rumors before that years ago, during the war, Reavers had ravished Shadow. However, as she looked around at the mansion and the town beyond she could see no sign that an atrocity as horrible as that had ever happened there. Prenatt held out his arm, gesturing for Inara to join him. She gratefully slid her arm into his, and walked with him up the marble steps and into the expansive foyer. “Shall we, Miss Serra?” the Governor asked. “Of course.” * * * Tark pulled the crate down Destiny’s loading ramp, whining the entire way. Harvey followed him down, arms crossed on his chest, a grin upon his round face. “I told you that my job is harder than it looks,” Harvey said to the mercenary. The previous night, Tark had complained to the Captain over one too many beers that Harvey did nothing around the ship; that the Load Master was getting a free ride. So Etris had ordered Tark to do Harvey’s job once they got to Shadow. Spooky had laughed it off, talking big about how easy his day was going to be; now he looked like someone had just won all his money in a single hand of Tall Card. “Can’t you at least give me a hand?” Tark groaned as he struggled to lift the crate onto the waiting mule. Harvey shook his head. “Do you concede that my job here is actually important?” The crate shifted in Tark’s grasp, sliding backwards off of the mule, and he began to lose his grip. “I concede! I concede!” “Better.” Harvey ran down the ramp, grabbing the falling end of the crate and helping the merc set it securely on the mule. “Told you so.” Tark put his hands on his knees, catching his breath. “Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng,” he mumbled. Harvey patted him on his back. “Only two more to go,” he said. Another groan from the mercenary as he followed the Load Master back up the ramp. * * * Rian sat on her bunk, staring at the computer screen in front of her. It had taken her nearly three hours to break the codes on the Cypher pad, and after that much effort, all she had come away with was a single file, with two pictures and two names. Nothing else. After all that effort, and like she told Tark, she had found nothing. Well, not "nothing". She did have two pictures and two names. But if those two people were the reason why Etris had been shot… Just who in the hell were Simon and River Tam? * * * The Governor led Inara on a tour of the mansion, explaining to her the history of every piece of artwork and every room. He introduced her to everyone that they crossed paths with, and everyone greeted her with a smile. He was obviously trying to impress her; truth be told, she was impressed, not by what he had but by the fact that he seemed genuinely honored to have her there, that he considered it a privilege to be in her company. Very unlike Atherton Wing, the debutante who had been more interested in claiming her as a possession rather than simply enjoying the time he spent with her. To him, she was nothing more than something to flaunt, and that had angered Mal to the point of engaging Atherton in a sword fight, one that Mal had almost lost… Mal. Why did she have to think of him, now of all times. She had spent the past month trying not to think of him. Even when she Waved Kaylee, she went out of her way to avoid mentioning Mal. The cheery engineer respected that, and had only once said anything about Serenity’s captain. Kaylee seemed to understand Inara’s reasoning. She sighed. The only thing in her life that had ever made her unsure of herself, of her profession, and she just had to think of him at this most inopportune of times. “My Dear, are you alright?” the Governor asked, bringing Inara back to the present. She smiled softly. “Yes, I’m fine.” She had a job to do. “I am simply in awe by the beauty of this place.” Governor Prenatt grinned widely. “Well then, would you like a tour of our town as well?” * * * Anne heard the voice behind her. “She is coming,” Volk said before slipping out the back door. Anne smiled. Showtime. * * * The tour took them down Main Street as Prenatt led her into every door, introducing her to every storeowner and worker. Again, Inara was marveled by the way the way he avoided showing her off. The Client Registries had spoken highly of him, but the praises of other Companions were no comparison to being here with him. She paused to look him over; he was slim and fit, and carried himself with an air of confidence that didn’t cross the line into arrogance. The townspeople respected him, and he gave them the same amount of respect back. She was amazed. “This way, Miss Serra.” Prenatt led her up a set of steps and into the town’s general store. “The Harrison’s have run this store for three generations,” he informed her, introducing her to Mrs. Harrison behind the counter. Inara turned and surveyed the store, noticing with humor a carving of what appeared to be some sort of waterfowl. She had made mention to Kaylee before that on every world, in every general store there was at least one wood carving of what appeared to be a duck. Now it appeared that her theory was being proven before her very eyes. Mrs. Harrison’s voice rang out in the store. “Good morning, Miss Reynolds.” Reynolds? Inara turned, seeing an older woman stepping into the store, a basket in her arms filled with a variety of vegetables. Hadn’t Mal said that he had grown up on Shadow? She approached the woman. Governor Prenatt noticed and introduced the two. “I apologize if I’m being forward,” Inara said, “but do you have a son named Malcolm?” The woman looked at her curiously, a sparkle in her eye. “Yes I do. Haven’t seen him since the war, though. Why, do you know him?” * * * On Board Serenity Mal walked up the stairs to the bridge, seeing the back of his pilot’s head as he bent over the front console. Today they had gotten a job. Not that Mal had really wanted to run anything for Badger, but as Zoe had said, if they didn’t, they ran the chance of running dead somewhere between worlds. Personally, it wouldn’t have bothered him one bit, but he did still have a crew to worry about. Minus one. He kicked out angrily, his foot connecting with the back of Wash’s chair, causing the pilot to jump. “Gorramit Mal!” the pilot squeaked. “What was that for?” Inara. “Nothing. What’d you call me for?” Wash stared at him for a moment like he was crazy. Well, he wasn’t, no matter what anyone thought. Right? “Another Wave came in.” Mal grimaced. Probably from Inara. “Why didn’t you give it to Kaylee?” Wash raised his eyebrow. “It’s for you, not Kaylee.” Well now, that was a surprise. Who in the ‘verse would be Waving him? He moved over to the copilot’s chair and called up the Wave. Then his next surprise: it was from Inara. He looked over at the Wash, but he was turned away. Did Wash know? Breathing deep, his heart pounding in his chest, he opened the Wave. It was text, not video, so he stayed in his seat and began to read it. Two lines in, his breath stopped. I had the privilege of meeting your mother today, and she begged me to get in touch with you… Ma? But how? Ma was dead. The Reavers had seen to that. * * * Wash heard a gasp and looked over at Mal just in time to watch all the color drain from the Captain’s face. What in the hell had been in that Wave? Before Wash had time to process that thought though, Mal shot up from his chair. “Change course,” he ordered, his voice ragged. What in the hell? “To where?” “Shadow.” “No way.” They would never get to the drop on time then, and if they didn’t get some money soon, they would be dead in the water. He hated going against Mal, but this time Mal was asking too much. “Change course,” Mal repeated, his voice stronger. Wash shook his head. “I can’t do that, and you know it.” Mal suddenly shot across the room and grabbed the pilot by his lapels, lifting him clear out of his seat. Wash found himself staring into eyes that were burning with rage, and that rage was directed at him. Mal screamed, his face only inches from Wash’s. “Turn this gorram ship around now!” Wash changed course.

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