Legacy 1:11, Screaming
Monday, November 28, 2005

Just when Jacob thought things were going smooth, his doctor gets stabbed and Sylvia goes bugnut. Now, he's got to find a way to bring her back into the world of the sane before she hurts someone, or worse, hurts herself.


Well, now more than half way through the first season, and things are going progressively less and less smooth for our humble protagonist. One by one, he has to inform his crew of Sylvia's special gifts, hoping that doing so won't blow up in his face like so many of Jayne's grenades. Also, this introduces a character from the Big Damn Movie. Look real hard and you'll spot him in a heartbeat. Bringing back somebody from earlier in the season, to start the explaining, only to realize most of what he's sayin's already been figured. Minor bump in rating due to some English swearing. All your Firefly are belong to Joss GIVE ME FEEEEEEEEEDBACK! Screaming

There was, as expected, panic. Blood on the floor had a tendency to do that sort of thing. Milla fainted straight away as the knife was dragged across Friday's neck, and had to be caught by Carson, who deposited her in the common as Early tossed the stab-happy bastard into the front airlock. It took no small amount of time to herd the people into the kitchen when they'd seen how badly the doctor was needing medical attention, but eventually, he'd managed to force them up the stairs, even the swooned prostitute. Which left him to walk back out to the bloodied cargo hold. He never thought he'd see blood on his ship. Not his own crew's at least. As he paced in front of the door, he knew it was only a matter of time until this sociopath returned to the waking, but it was all he could do to keep the door closed and not put a bullet to him. This man tried to kill his doctor. He stabbed her and tried to cut her throat. Every time something looked like it was going smooth, some hwoon dahn came along and roughed it up. He'd been pacing for no short time when he finally registered in his brain that somebody really should put James' body back in its coffin. He tried to pick the emaciated fellow up, but he was practically impossible to move, and when Jacob let him slip, he landed with an unusual thunk. Jacob wondered if all dead bodies were like that. Hadn't had much practice in dealing with the dead. His gaze drifted to the pair of blood pools. One was oblong, a steady drip that collected as she was held upright. The other was not far away, a pool from a gash on her neck. So much blood. He hadn't ever seen so much. Then he remembered the Hannibal, and revised that. He'd never seen so much blood when it was still warm. He resumed his pacing, fingering the tiny comm unit he'd hooked on a belt loop. Its twin had been tossed in before the door was closed, to make sure they didn't have to open the door to talk to the gan ni niang. He guessed it had been more than an hour when he saw Sylvia duck through the door, walking somewhat unsteadily. Her hands had been cleaned, he noticed. Scrubbed recently. She stared at him for a moment, fixing him with those blue-green eyes. He wondered what she was thinking, an unfair thing, especially considering she could almost certainly do the same to him. He's awake. It sounded rather a lot like her voice, but her mouth never moved. Ai ya! Everybody in this crew was coming down with a bad case of telepathy. Don't be an idiot. Jacob laughed, turning to face the tiny viewport. Leon was indeed stirring, and Jacob stifled back a few of his more vile curses, barely keeping them restrained along with his urge to injure this man. "How is Friday?" Jacob asked quietly. "She'll be good as new in about a day," Sylvia said. Really said. As in moved her mouth and made words come out. Jacob still found the whole gorram thing unnerving, especially the part where he was starting to accept the whole her being telepathic part. Her eyes dropped for a moment. "She knows." Jacob grunted, then paused for a long moment. "Learn a new trick?" he forced a smile. She forced her own smile back. How damn awkward. Jacob turned as Leon began slamming at the bulkhead with his arms. He leaned back and tapped on the glass, pointing down to the comm he'd thrown in. "What the hell'm I doin' in here?" Leon shouted. "You're in the bad place," Jacob said tightly, "because you saw fit to take a knife to one of my crew. Cut her right bad, and since she's our one-and-only doctor, ain't nobody on my boat can fix her." "It didn't need to get like this," Leon said. "Is that a fact?" Jacob asked. "Y'ain't even got the balls to admit you done wrong. Syl, why ain't I shooting this idiot?" "Look," Leon leaned close. "I don't know how, but that man bilked us right good, out of a rather tidy sum. Don't know where he's got it hid, but he'd have shipped it out with him." "Is this some sort of offer?" Jacob's voice was very flat. "You find me that payday, I'll split it with you. Sixty fourty." Jacob groaned. Loudly. "See how I'm not killing him?" he said to Sylvia, who smirked and shrugged. "I guess I have a bit of restraint to m'self." He turned back into the port hole. "Are you ruttin' fong luh?" he demanded. "Fine," Leon parlayed. "Fifty-fifty." Jacob stormed away. Friday almost shuffled off because of this moron? Leon stammered. "Uh, fourty-sixty?" "I really," Jacob hissed, "really want to hurt this man. Sylvia. Syl?" he noticed that she was starting fixedly at the idiot. Into him. He wondered for a moment what she was seeing, then, by the sickly palor her face had developed, was glad he didn't. "He's done... horrible," She said, leaning away to vomit. It took her a moment to finish. Jacob let the comm drop from his hand and moved to her, but she held up a hand and righted herself. She still looked sick but a bit more composed. "He has a gun." "Don't they always?" he moaned. She walked to him, her hand brushing the very edge of his cheek. Then his world vanished. He saw a thousand images, a million sounds. Each was worse than the last, a zipline dropping him straight into hell. It was all of the man on the other side of the bulkhead, though his name was never the same two images in a row. He was a hatchetman. He was a killer. A rapist. A monster almost as bad as a Reaver. Worse, because he still had the gall to call himself human. His world returned, and he was curled into a ball. He stared up at Sylvia, who seemed every bit as shocked as he was. "I understand," was all he could say. He really did understand. There was a difference, an infinite graduation of difference between the two. This man was the former, and Jacob was the latter. He pounded on the airlock door button, and the bulkheads began to slide apart. 'Leon' laughed out loud. "I knew you'd see reason," he said. He was swaggering, despite his dislocated arm, he was smiling. At least, he was, until Greyson pulled out his pistol and leveled it at the man's head. "Hey, there. Them ain't kosherized rules," "I ain't a murderer," Jacob explained, and 'Leon' relaxed a bit. "You, however, are. And a lot worse." Leon's face went into a slack place. "You're not going to use that weapon, or you already would have. Now get it out of my face." Jacob shrugged a bit, then pulled the trigger. Leon staggared back, clutching his perforated chest. When he reached the ramp, he slid down to a sit. He coughed bloodily as Jacob leaned in and pulled a small pistol out of the man's pocket. He took a moment to pocket the other comm as he spoke, "You tried to kill one of my people. The fact that you were inept at it don't excuse the fact that you tried. In my mind, attempt equates deed. I ain't a murderer. If I have to be, though," he said, standing over the man in judgement. "I can be a killer." "You aren't going to leave me here?" 'Leon' asked. Jacob laughed. "You're certainly right. I ain't gonna leave you there. Too many questions," He punched the button that closed the door, and the bulkhead obediently came together. 'Leon' tried to force himself up, but the wound kept him down. He looked at Sylvia "I can't tell you what to do, Jacob," she said. "But he's done bad things. Evil damn things. And he'll do them again, given a chance." Jacob nodded. He pounded the other control, the one that opened the ramp. Alarm klaxons sounded as the ramp was opened under thrust, a thing typically avoided, especially in the Black. It was easy to understand why, as he saw 'Leon' blown out into space, then ripped away as the Firefly powered past it. Jacob hit the control again, then sat back on his heels. For a damn long time, he wondered whether he could ever look at himself in the mirror. And he wondered why he didn't feel in the slightest bit wrong. <> The entire group picked sadly at their fare, a practically undescribable mush that Early had almost produced. The large black man at least had the decency to look ashamed of himself, which was just as well, because the food was well-past inedible. Still, without any sort of spare, they made do, eating the somehow paradoxically burned mush. Jacob didn't even notice that he'd cleaned off his plate, leaving only the sour aftertaste of the demise of something that had never been entirely wholesome in life at the back of his throat. Anne raised an eyebrow at him, obviously confused how he could stomach it. He had just opened his mouth to say something, he wasn't sure what it would be, when Friday made her careful appearance in the dining area. "Well," she said, her strong voice belied by her pale face. "Rumors of my demise seem to be saddly inaccurate." "Welcome to the club," Anne said. "Now everybody here has been shot, stabbed, burned, or all three," Early chuckled. The other passengers looked no small bit confused, obviously not expecting this sort of conversation with supper. "Hey," Zane said with concern. "I ain't been cut on yet?" "And you ain't a part of the club," Jacob jested. "Come to think on it, Syl ha'n't exactly earned passage yet, has she?" He was more than a little concerned with the way she was prodding her food. Her eyes were focused on something much further away from her than the table. She didn't offer her retort which he expected. "Anyway," Carson said, "Now that we've dealt with this... interesting attempt at the arts culinary, how about we talk on what happens next?" "And you'd need to know why?" Jacob said briskly. "You're payin' customers. Ain't got a thing to do but sit, eat if you can stomach it, and wait for the world to come back. Ezra's not a long piece out. Likely lookin' at it in the next morning, so don't you go panickin'." "I know a few things about slipping around the black," Carson said simply. Jacob favored him with a false smile. "Trust me. Ain't nothing goin' that ain't smooth," He placated. For just about a second, the lawyer and his lovely trophy wife looked in good stead, and he took in a heady breath. Of course, that moment ended when Sylvia hurled her food away with a roar, kicking her chair away and pulling a large pistol out of whoever-knows-where. She squeezed off four shots at the platter, screaming like her skin was on fire the whole time, before Early managed to snatch the firearm away from her. "Damn, girl. I know my cooking weren't good, but... damn," Early muttered as the crew and crowd went into uproar. The lawyer fainted dead away, his wife screaming and trying to huddle in the corner. Carson took a long step and reached into his long coat, pulling out a revolver and training it on Syl, all the while forcing himself between the raving woman and Milla, the whore. "What the hell are you doing?" Carson screamed. His hand on the gun was rock-steady, though. He knew his way around a firearm. Still, having one of his crew in the sights made Jacob's pistol practically leap from its holster, resting on Milla's shoulder, barrel brushing Carson's back. She squeeked and flinched away, leaving Carson with a barrel at his back. Friday glanced around in confusion, and Anne was stumbling backwards, knowing she had better places to be than in the middle of a crossfire. Jacob forced himself to his feet, sending his chair sliding along the deck. Jacob let the air filter out of his lungs. "You might think to pointing that somewhere a bit wiser, berk," Jacob said. "Or you'll find yourself with a hole y'ain't born with." "I ain't lettin' no crazies kill me in my sleep," he said in a level tone. "Not even if she's on your crew." Sylvia was still struggling and screaming in no language he knew how to speak, but with Early's arms restraining her, she could only kick at her food. Her eyes were wide, and from the look in them, terrified. Carson cast a look over his shoulder. "My life's gotten a lot more interesting than I'd've liked," Jacob said shortly. "Don't feel much like it getting any more, dong ma?" Carson scowled, and put up his weapon, sliding it into his holster with the clunk of metal against leather. "I paid too damned much for this sort of ride," Carson said. Jacob slid his own weapon home. "We got an agreement on that," he said quietly. "Anne? Get us to Ezra double time," She gave him a suspicious look, rising from her scooting position and making her cautious way to the cockpit. He pointed to Carson and at Zane. "Get them into their rooms. Better place for them, right now." Carson shrugged and collected Milla and the lawyer's wife. Jacob waited in the room with the confused Friday, the screaming Sylvia, and the highly concerned Early. Jacob waited until the pair returned, and dragged the lawyer's unconscious form away. "Screaming," Sylvia's words finally returned into English. "They're all screaming. Can't dream. Dreams are traps. Traps for the mind." Early's face suddenly went very blank. "Who is screaming?" Jacob asked lightly. "Syl? Who is screaming?" "The children. They won't leave the children alone, won't let them sleep," Early was now looking to have a severely disturbed calm. She stopped struggling, and Early slowly released her. "She's..." Friday began, but Early held up a hand, forstalling her. "Two by two, hands of blue," Sylvia said as she shook in her little ball. She was staring at her hands. "Two by two. Got my scent. Looking." "Blue hands," Early said. His brow furrowed slightly. He walked out of the room, his pensive look suffused upon his face as he went down into the passenger rooms. Friday moved to Syl's side and tried to get the other woman to stand. Sylvia would not. "So," Jacob said. "She told you." Friday frowned a bit. "Never thought I'd see the day. Thought it was just gorram science fiction," Jacob let out a short laugh. "I know. But it explains a lot. Not this, though. Don't explain this." "She hears all of us," Jacob explained. "All the damned time. Wouldn't that set you off. Especially with your... sidelines," Friday looked confused for a moment, then a look of realization crossed her features, and she blushed. "Only problem is, ain't no proper place we could take her. Out here is about as quiet, outside the four of us, as she's ever gonna get." "One by one," Sylvia said. "Consume the sun. The old one is waiting for the last day," she was weeping now. "All screaming. Nobody talking, just screaming. Why are the children screaming? Everybody there but they're saying nothing!" Friday gave a pained look to Jacob, who could only shake his head. He mouthed the words 'dope her' to Friday, who injected a small amount of something medicinal into the weeping woman's neck. Sylvia went slack. "She's getting worse," Friday said. "No doubt. I'll clear out her room," Jacob said. "When her weapons are locked up, you put her in there. Restrain her if you have to." He caught her arm as she made to leave. "Don't hurt her. She's family." <> Anne grunted as she tried to flip her brother back into his coffin. While she was in no way weak, she knew she should be able to get a man into a coffin when he was lying a foot away. After five minutes of heaving and achieving nothing more than buffing the floor with James' chest. She sat back and pondered. Today was already far more interesting than she would have liked. First Leon gets a stabbing notion, then there was that dubious food-like substance. Then Sylvia went fong luh and shot down her plate as if it offended her virtue. Maybe she was just brain-blown from that sickness, and it took a while for her marbles to roll off the table. She spotted Early through the door and called him over. He paused for a moment, then vanished for a moment. She thought he was ducking her, but he reappeared after that few seconds and came to face her. "You mind helping me with this?" she asked. "Can't touch a dead body?" he asked neutrally. She gave him a go-to-hell look, and he smirked a bit. He then leaned down and grasped the emaciated man. He then strained a moment, slowly lifting the body from the ground about an inch. Then the fabric slipped through his fingers and the body landed with a metallic thunk. He looked at Anne. "Does that seem right to you?" he asked in utter confusion. She stared at her brother for a long moment. "Take him to the infirmary. Somethin' ain't right." Even between the two of them, it was a long, grunting challenge to get the small man's corpse into the room that was a scant twenty feet away. She was about to comm Friday when the woman showed herself, charging into the medical bay as if she owned the place. In truth, Anne wondered if she did. Friday raised an eyebrow at her. "Why is there a dead body in my infirmary?" Friday asked slowly. "Do you know why a five-foot-nothin' chronic sufferer of Bowden's would weigh so much that Early can barely lift him?" Anne asked. Friday shrugged and went to her cabinets. She pulled out a magnifying headress and her small medical kit. She pulled off his layers of clothing, manipulating his limbs and the corpulant flesh of his stomach. Her face grew ever more suspicious as she went along the body, untill she leaned in very close. "Huh." Anne waited a very long moment. "What?" she asked. "Somebody's already cut this man open. A 'Y' incision, masked brilliantly. Shall I go in?" Friday asked. She barely waited for Anne's nod before incising the flesh again. A soft clicking could be heard as she slid the blade along, a sound that nobody found in the slightest bit ordinary. Finally, Friday laid open the chest and abdomen. Anne stared at the contents for a damn long moment before any particular words came to mind. The words she came up with were "Son of a bitch?" "Where in the hell are his innards?" Early asked. Packed inside his body cavity were a horde of packages made of waxed paper. Friday pulled one out experimentally and cut it open. She dumped its contents into a bedpan, and they landed with a shower of clinks that one often heard when one's pocket got reversed on a metal surface. She shook the contents around, trying to understand why her brother was filled with platinum coins. "Besides Bowden's," Friday said calmly, "what physical condition was your brother in?" "He didn't smoke or drink or anything. He took care of himself," Anne said. If James had been any more temperate, he'd have been a gorram priest. Friday nodded with a knowing smile. "That explains this. Leon was right. Your brother probably owed that man for something to do with the extraction. Black market for transplant organs is a hell of a thing. Thousand for a working heart, five hundred each for kidneys, and another for each half of the liver. Add to that things like the corneas," she peeled back an eyelid to find the socket empty. She closed it again, "to his entire circulatory and digestive tract, I'd say he earned about..." she said, bailing out baggies full of money. Finally, she counted the pile. "Five thousand." Anne laughed, an action which drew a concerned look from both Early and the Doctor. "He knew he was going to die," she explained. She felt her eyes getting damp again. "Pascelin wasn't working, so he found the best way to help his family. Wasn't any good to them alive, so he went to Hera to sell everything he had to sell. Five thousand will set them up until Georgia and Henry have kids of their own." "So," Friday said. "He chose to die for his family." She smiled, her cheeks becoming damp again. Damn it. "He always did the right thing. Always." <> Jacob had slicked his long hair back and adorned the most formal piece of clothing he had, being the Colonel's dress-uniform he got on his first job. The ship had landed almost an hour ago, but he had to wait. Anne needed to get prepared. He didn't blame her in the slightest for taking her time. She had a lot to run through, and she weren't exactly one fore the ordered thinking. Friday climbed out of Sylvia's bunk, adorned in a loose black silk robe. A kimono, he thought it was called. She frowned in his direction then shook her head. He motioned her over. "Her body metabolized the pop entirely too damned quick," Friday said. "I gave her another shot, but if she's running as hot now, it won't last two hours," She whispered. "Tsao gao," Jacob muttered. "She was getting better. What set her off?" "Set her off?" Friday inquired. "Something happened to send her to the crazy place. I want to know what it is. Maybe next time, we can keep it from happening." "We're playin' in an entirely new league, boss," Friday explained. "Ain't any place in the 'Verse any sort of serious research on... telepaths," She still had trouble accepting the fact, Jacob knew. "Last time I know of there being a record was on Earth-that-was, and that's a couple light-years in the wrong damn direction." "Do what you can." She smiled and squeezed his hand. As she moved into the cargo bay, Jacob heard Anne making her way up the ladder from their bunk. It took him a damn long moment to fix her up to the Anne he knew. The Anne he knew despised anything resembling a dress, and this majestic creature was resplendid in a creation of black cloth and lace. Her short-cropped black hair was lying flat on her scalp, and if he didn't entirely miss his guess, she was wearing makeup. He tried to turn his slack-jawed stare into a smile, with minimal success. She smiled back at him, her eyes slightly redder than usual. Jacob reached up and opened his sling, letting it fall to the ground. She raised an eyebrow. "It's worth the pain," Jacob said quietly, offering his right arm to her. She took it without hesitation, let alone the usual scathing remark when he tried to do anything gentlemanly. The ramp was already lowered when the entered the cargo bay. A cold wind blew in, winter on Ezra being drier than practically anywhere else in the 'Verse. Standing in the bright cold was another woman in black, more of Jacob's own height, meaning she'd have towered over her late husband. A pair of small children ran about and played, obviously too young to understand the concept of death, or why their father would never be coming home. The entire ship had emptied out almost the instant the craft stopped moving. Only Carson remained, offering his arms to carry the body wherever it would be going. He did so in very few words, and with stone-still eyes. For just a moment, Greyson wondered what matter of passenger he was. When that moment passed, he simply nodded and got into his current getup. Carson watched as they approached, standing silent in his simple clothes, dark but not really funereal black. When they'd reached the now refilled and resealed coffin, Anne let go of Jacob's arm, and the two men lifted the casket into the open air. The widow stifled a sob when she saw the light brown box moving off the ship, and followed behind it as they made their way to the nearby plot prepared for him. She'd known it was coming. She'd even gotten a spot dug for him, months ago when the ground was still thawed. When her husband was still alive. Ordinarily, that sort of thing would have chilled Jacob, but Anne had told him about Bowden's Malady. Once it slipped from remission, a fellow didn't have much time. Had about four months to get his affairs in order before he was an invalid, then another four weeks before his heart stopped working. And James had settled his affairs brilliantly. The sun was high in the sky as they reached the orderly hole. It had been open to the air for a damn long time, a gaping maw into the next world. If such existed. A dark skinned Shepherd with wire framed glasses waited by the hole, his dark eyes watching the horizon infinite, as if waiting for something he knew wouldn't come, but waited anyway. Jacob and Carson placed the coffin on the slip. As they stepped away, and the surprisingly large crowd finally formed around the grave-to-be, the man opened his Bible and began to speak in a soft, regal voice. "We are gathered today to bid farewell to James Luiz Roykerk, and to commit him into the hands of God." Jacob slipped his arm around Anne's waist, ignoring the dull pain in his shoulder as he did so. "God, our father," the Shepherd continued, "we entrust James Roykerk into your hands. From dust you came, and to dust, you shall return. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, shall raise you up on the Last Day." Anne began weeping into Jacob's aching shoulder. He shivered a bit in the cold. "From dust you came, and to dust, you shall return. Jesus Christ is the ressurection, and the life," the preacher spoke. "You gave him life. Recieve him in your peace and give him, through Jesus Christ, your joyful resurrection. Lord God, the Father in Heaven, Lord God, the Son, the Saviour. Lord God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. At the last moment, have mercy on us, and raise us up on the Last Day." The Shepherd closed his Bible and sketched the cross in the air over the coffin, speaking a few phrases in the Latin. When he finished, he stepped back, allowing whoever would like to speak a chance to. A man in decidedly grubby, but well meaning attire took a step forward. He pulled off his shapeless hat and chewed his words for a long moment. "We know who he was," the man said. Anne whispered that he was James' old foreman. James had a tendency to make friends, it seemed. "We all know how he did things. Don't think any more need be said," having run out of words, the man retreated into the crowd. No one else stepped forward. The Shepherd spoke a final phrase in Latin, then switched back to English. "We commit this body to the ground, and his spirit into the arms of our Lord. Depart with God." The slip was released, and the coffin slowly lowered from sight. Zane whispered quietly to the widow, who oblidginly followed him to the Mule. She looked into one of the bags and started to smile through her tears. "It was a good thing you did," Friday said as she took her place beside the pair, pointing to the widow and the money. Jacob shook his head. "No, it was the only thing," he corrected. He noticed that Early was jogging toward him. He whispered to Anne that he he had to deal with something, then left her in Friday's stewardship. "What is it, Early?" he asked. Early heaved in a few breaths. It seemed the bullets that had temporarily taken up residence in his lungs were still slowing him down a mite. Finally, he caught his wind and spoke smoothly. "Sylvia is missing." "Shuh muh?" Jacob asked in bewilderment. "I went to check on her, like the good lady doctor asked, and she was gone. Restraints burst and the door to her room hacked and opened," He glanced around. "Your room was opened too." Jacob let out a string of swears in Chinese. "This is not good." "Why not?" "Because now she's insane," Jacob explained, making his way back toward the ship, "she's hallucinatin' and she's armed." <> Sylvia stretched out her body, digging her toes into the sand. Waves lapped peacefully a short distance away, an ocean of perfect blue. There was no sound but the crashing of the waves and the occassional waft of warm breeze. She stared upward. Ever upward, to the drifting clouds. She remembered a time, once so very long ago, when she'd stared up like this with her brother Richard and found the patterns to the clouds. Suddenly, she couldn't find one that looked like a rabbit. Nor a boot. Nor a plane. What she saw was randomness incarnate. Numerical beauty, an equation of infinite complexity played out in aerial water molecules. She remembered a time when she didn't realize that the reason the sky was such a perfect blue was due to the diffraction of light from the nearest celestial light source through the diffractive medium of the atmosphere. She remembered when she didn't even know Heisenburg had a Principle of Uncertainty, or what sort of motion Brown had classified. She remembered when she didn't understand. How could she have been happy then? "Shan Yu was wrong," she said, neither understanding what it exactly meant or why she was saying it. She felt something go stiff behind her, something that didn't expect it would be seen, spotted. "You are the young miss Witherell, yes?" came the old voice. She felt each microscopic depolirization that led from her ear to her cerebellum, where the accent, tone, and pitch was connected to a memory. Adelai Niska. Mobster. Advocate of Yuism. He came to this perfect place with a mind for imperfect things. How dare he? "You haven't met her yet, have you? Not really, at least?" Sylvia said. Niska replied with a soft chuckle. "You are working with mister Greyson, no?" Niska said. He walked forward, his fine suit starkly out of place on the beach. Two large men flanked him, his constant bi-directional shadows. "You know the answer to that," she said, suddenly bored. She turned over to let the sun have a chance at her back. "Greyson was warned, you see. Not to come back to my presence. He does not listen to me. I find that no small amount insulting, you understand," Niska said as he walked a circuit around Sylvia. She already knew how the rest of the conversation was going to happen. Niska had practiced it. Instead, she tuned her brain down into third gear and let it come in as it would. She grunted non-commitally. "He thinks to damage my reputation. But there are ways, I think, that he can be corrected for his mistake. He would be taught well to find you broken," She waited for him to snap his fingers, to sic his goons on her. She could have done at any point before, but she needed some gratification, some challenge. With that in mind, she picked out her arsenal. Directly beside her was her M2490A3 semi-automatic pistol with the fourteen round clip, smooth slide, thoroughgauge, capable and designed to penetrate fourteen inches of biological matter from five feet away. The bullets, split-tip 45 caliber rounds produced by the Blue Sun factories on Bernadette, would burst apart once they punctured, causing disability or death in a rapid fashion. Too easy. Mentally, she mapped out where her pocketknife sat in her coat, sitting almost ten feet away. It's blade was three inches long, barely enough to reach anything vital on the human body without painfully precise aiming. The blade also had a fault in it, meaning a false move would snap the gorram thing off, leaving her effectively unarmed. Perfect. The thugs had completed their first step toward her when she was launching herself toward her coat. Her bare feet ate the pebbles... pebbles? What happened to the sand...? Her lithe form easily outpaced the bruisers to her clothing, affording her just enough time to slide to a halt and rip the small knife out of her pocket. The blade flicked out as the first reached her, grasping her hair in a thick hand. She slashed up and into his wrist, severing several major blood vessels and tendons. His fingers went slack from the damage, but several of her hairs were still tangled 'twixt his fingers. Her next cut was significangly lower, gouging at the side of his forward thrust kneecap. He fell back with a bellow, allowing the second to dart past him. The way he held his bludgeon was so off balance and vulnerable that she could not but take the advantage he offered. Her blade darted out, cutting precisely deep enough to open his left carotid. He ran past her, now clutching his throat against the inevitable egress of his blood. The second, operating on adrenaline, attempted to grapple with Sylvia, earning him a stab into his ribs, just above the heart in the aortic arch. She then kicked him in the scrotum and let him writhe on the ground. He would be dead in several minutes as the blood being pumped out of his heart flooded his chest cavity. She focused her attention on Niska. Here was a man deserving of her new-found talents. There was a prick in her neck. She found the ground rushing up to meet her. Where had the sand gone? Only dust and red stone. The air was suddenly cold, and the sound of crashing waves was replaced with the crash of blood pounding in her ears. Niska smiled at something behind her. "Your timing is immaculate, mister McKenna," Niska said with that grandfatherly smile he practiced in front of the mirror for greatest effect. She tried to get a look at her attacker, somebody she couldn't feel. She couldn't moved her neck. Or her anything else, for that matter. A large man stepped over her, his broad shoulders straining against a long grey coat. His head turned toward her, giving Sylvia a wink with bright silver eyes. She would have laughed if she could. "Now, if you would..." Niska began, before Elias turned his stare onto the old mobster. Niska's words trailed off, and he became unsteady on his feet. With a puzzled look on his old face, he collapsed. How the hell had he done that? "We all have our talents, Syl," Elias said. He leaned down in front of her. "I'm sorry that I had to do that, but if he wasn't distracted, I wouldn't have been able to Burn him." What happened to the beach, she thought? Elias' brow furrowed in concern. He looked around, obviously seeing no beach. "Don't worry, bao bei, I'll get you back where you need to go," he said, stopping just long enough to collect her gun and her heavier clothing before hefting her over his shoulder like a sack of grain. It wasn't exactly how she planned to spend the afternoon, she thought. Not the way at all. "Strange," Elias said. "How things never seem to go smooth." <> Jacob was on his way back off of Legacy when he noted a strange figure approaching. He'd not had a chance to change since the funeral, with all the running about, and now all of the crew but Anne was involved in scouring Paradiso for a psychotic woman with blondish hair and blue-green eyes. Needless to say, it was not going so very well. As the figure drew closer, he recognized its major constituent. The man was a former passenger of his, a large man with the name of Elias. Over his shoulder, strangely enough, was Sylvia. She didn't move. Greyson's hand went to his gun. "Peace, captain," Elias rose a cloth filled hand. "Niska's men tried to have a time with her." Jacob's jaw tightened. "What did they do to her?" he demanded. He noted with rage that she was fairly close to being naked, far closer than he would have liked to see with a member of his crew. The fact that Elias carried most of her clothing with his other hand further set Jacob's jaw to creaking. "They died," Elias said, moving into the ship. "She killed them both with a pocket knife." Jacob, forced to follow him, let himself be led into the infirmary. "A pocket knife?" he asked on the way. "Why didn't she use the gun she took?" Elias arched an eyebrow as he set her onto the table. "Why indeed?" Greyson had officially run out of patience for evasive gou shi, and pulled his gun to Elias' head. "I am right out of time for this gos-se, dong ma?" he levered the hammer back. "While you done me a good turn bringin' her here, I can't help but feel a bit unamused by all that you're holdin' back on. Were I smart, I'd start by tellin' me what's going on with my fighter." Elias glanced around the infirmary, making sure it was empty. It was kind of hard to believe that somebody would try to hide in this place, but Elias still moved despite Jacob's gun and gentle reminders and slid the door closed. "You want to know what is happening to Sylvia?" "And I'd appreciate a right direct answer," Jacob answered. Elias took one step toward Jacob, and was waved back by the gun. "Put that away," he said. Jacob didn't so much as flinch. Elias gave him a confused look, then shrugged. "This will be a bit hard to believe, I realize, but it is the truth of the 'Verse and it may pull together some of the unusual behaviours you might have observed in the little miss." "Less fluff, more revelation, please," Jacob forced a grin. "Sylvia," Elias paused for a moment, choosing his words, "is a Reader." Jacob waited several damn long seconds. "And?" "And? What 'and'? She is a telepath, mister Greyson. Only a few hundred in a 'Verse of twenty billion." "Good for her. Ain't exactly world shatterin', though," Jacob smiled again, a mere showing of teeth. "Ain't exactly surprising that you are, neither." Elias gave a struck look. "How did you?" he began. "Papa said I shoulda been a shrink," Jacob said, still not moving his gun. "Got a keen eye for observation, which is helpful since I've only got the one." Elias scowled, and Jacob continued. "She's going monkeyshit on me, Reader. You know what happened, so I want you to tell me what to do about it." "You wouldn't know what to do," Elias said. "Only a member of the medical proffession would..." "So, tell Friday," Jacob said, lowering his gun but not holstering it. Elias looked just about ready for an apoplexy. "She knows, too?" he asked. He let out a Chinese profanity. "Does everybody on this boat know?" "Not the mechanic, and not Anne. I'm pretty sure Early's got a wiff of it, though," Elias raised an eyebrow. "He's dealt with Readers before." "This is more complicated than you know," Elias said. "Seldom ain't," He said. Sylvia's eyes fluttered open. "Hey there, li'l girl. What were you thinkin' leaving the ship? Where did you go?" "Wanted to go the beach," she said faintly. When she saw Elias, she smiled. Jacob holstered his gun. Beach? Weren't no beaches to be had 'round Paradiso, 'cept for a few lakes couple hundred miles south. Elias' face was tight with concern. Jacob grabbed the larger man's shoulder and hauled him to the door. "You fix her, hear me?" Elias made as if to speak, but Jacob kept going. "Not a word. She goes bugnut, I blame you. She gets killed on account of this, I blame you. If she don't pull out of this, ain't even buzzards'll find you. And keep out of our minds, ain't your playground," Elias' face became somewhat set-upon. "This is my boat. On my boat, I am God. You break my rules, you take a walk out the airlock." Elias rolled his eyes. "Just like home," Jacob heard him mutter. Jacob left the two of them to whatever it was they would do, and walked into Friday. "Boss, good to find you. I see you found Syl," she smiled lightly. Then she took a closer look at Greyson's face and her own expression was made darker. "Somethin' I ain't gettin'?" "All the fun and excitement of livin' on a ship with a pair of Readers," Jacob attempted to be flip, falling at least a measure short. Friday looked at the large man inside her medical bay and her eyebrows shot up. "Make sure she makes it through," Jacob's gaze swung left and right, from the passenger rooms to the cargo bay. He spotted that familiar blond head and waved over Zane. "Tell Anne to close it up, we're leavin' right soon." "She won't be happy 'bout that," Zane said carefully. "With the burial just over and such." "Don't matter," Jacob said. "I got all kinds of a bad feelin', tellin' me to get the guay off this rock. And I ain't one to disregard my gut." Zane shrugged. "I'll tell her, but if she kills me, I'm gonna haunt you. Where are we going next?" "Don't rightly care," Jacob said shortly. "Just get us somewhere else." <> It was almost sunset when the Firefly lifted off from its resting place, blasting a touch of heat into the cold wind until it rose above the lower currents and began its ascent into the heavens. A lone pair of eyes on the ground marked its exodus, watched as it vanished from view. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a Core-Wave. He flicked the screen up and dialed in the number he'd never had to use before. A face appeared on the screen, a man with shockingly blue eyes. "I've located her. She's on a Firefly called Legacy." The face stared back for a moment. "And?" "And she has another with her. A man. Big, grey eyes." The face nodded, then leaned back to stare forward over steepled fingers. The hands were starkly blue, even against the grey threads of the man's coat. "Your cooperation," the agent said. "Will be rewarded."



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Legacy 3:13. Among the Ashes of Gahaan
At the farthest fringes of the system lies the Veldt. What secrets lie within its murky mass? What devils call it home?

Legacy 3:12. The Ecstacy, part 2
The crew of Legacy faces further dire straits in its bid to complete its mission. On Londinum, Eli comes to a hard decision.

Legacy 3:11. The Ecstacy, part 1
Niflheim is home to many who are desparate enough to do anything. When one of them comes into Legacy's path, the results prove to be catastrophic.

Legacy 3:10, The Agony
Niflheim. The world collapsed into anarchy as nature betrayed it. Today, it gets more visitors than it knows what to do with, with a cargo-drop on one hand, and a desperate and dangerous fugitive on the other. Something is going to have to give, and the 'Verse help whoever it is that's to do the giving.

Legacy 3:09, Quiet Emptiness
A new job for Legacy means that it must stop off in Three Hills, where Sylvia suddenly finds herself confronting her past.

Legacy 3:08, Running Away
On Boros, Monday begins to see the unpleasant truth that stalks her, while King Benjamin finds his breaking point on Londinum. In the end, they're just running from their problems.

Legacy 3:07, Confederation, Part 3
With the Battle for Hera coming to a climax outside, Anne find's her child's birth beset by soldiers, storming the ship. Jacob and those in the city must somehow find a way through the war-zone before they get killed, either by the Alliance, or by the Confederates.

Legacy 3:06, Confederation, Part 2
Legacy's crew is scattered across a city soon to be embroiled in a full-scale war, and time is running out before the bombs fall. In the sky, two of the greatest military minds clash, while on the ground, the best the crew can hope for is to not be crushed under foot.

Legacy 3:05, Confederation, Part 1
Finally arriving on Hera, Jacob settles down to unwind, but is interrupted by a startling revelation by a member of his crew. And not too far away, even as the Independant Planets sign their Confederation, somebody is waiting in the darkness for the perfect moment to strike.

Legacy 3:04, Definition of a Hero
With mere hours to go before Confederation, Jacob catches wind of a travesty taking place, perpetrated by his supposed allies. Will he jeopardize the conference for the sake of his principles?