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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
Soul begins his search for the remaining information smuggler, but without any results. He goes to visit an old friend for help, but the results are not what he expected, and Mal recieves a strange message from a mysterious source asking about the livelihood of a dead man...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2193 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Here's a link to the teaser.
Here's a link to Soul-1.
Aboard Sangre de Angeles
In the Black
Soul sat in the command chair—his command chair--aboard his ship. When Damon Talos had told him he had a ship waiting for him, Soul hadn’t expected to cross through the airlock into his own ship. He was more expecting the cheapest thing Talos could find; despite their seemingly limitless budget, the Parliament still insisted on cutting corners whenever possible. Instead, he found his girl, and the even greater surprise was the great shape she was in. Talos had even had her updated with the latest tracking equipment. It was a surprise, to say the least. It was also a warning: for Talos to spend that kind of money on upgrades, it meant that this current thorn in the Parliament’s side was causing much more pain than a thorn should.
With a groan, he stretched, fighting to keep his eyes open. He had been at this for three days straight, monitoring the Cortex using his eyes and his implant, and it was beginning to wear him a bit thin. Trying to find someone without so much as a name or a face was making his implant work to the full extent of its design specs, hence the brain-splitting headache.
Oh, the implant. Soul chuckled as he rubbed the spot behind his left ear, the small nub that identified the location where those fancy Blue Sun surgeons had inserted the cortical interface and made him into a walking, talking Cortex link. It made his life a bit easier, being able to pull up information on the Cortex using his mind; anything from planetary satellite pictures, to criminal profiles, to the specials at the local diner. Yup, it made things rather interesting.
He could also use it to interface with any electronic device, which he did now to prepare the shower in his room. As much as he tried, Soul simply couldn’t enjoy the standard sonic showers available on all Alliance ships; instead, he preferred the classic way of washing ones self with water, and steaming hot water at that. After setting a few more search commands into the on board computer, Soul rose and turned, but a final thought stopped him. Out of curiosity more than anything, he plugged a name into the search engine and set the computer to check the Cortex for it as well. With that, he pulled off his shirt and headed to his shower.
Soul passed the mirror, paused to ruffle his dusty brown hair, and decided that he was going to let it grow out from the short spiky style he had kept it for years. Maybe even grow a goatee, anything to hide his pale skin. The way he figured it, he had a second chance here. Sure, he would do the job, but after that…after that, Soul would be no more. He would become Marshall Washburne once again.
* * *
The buzzing sound from the main console finally caught Soul’s ear in the shower. He took a moment longer to let the hot water run over his skin, and then shut off the flow. The only thing he did appreciate about the sonic showers was the drying cycle, which he activated next. A combination of sonic waves and dry-heated air bombarded his skin, evaporating the water, and finished off with a warm breeze. He stepped out of the shower stall, pulled on his pants, and made his way to the control room. Plopping down into his chair, he called up the latest search results and found them empty, to his surprise. Then the buzzing was from…? Then he remembered his other search, and he pulled up that screen, and there it was. A face he hadn’t seen for years. The name under the screen was still the same, but the face looked older; and given that it had been nearly a decade since the two of them had been face to face, it didn’t surprise Soul that his younger brother would look just a bit aged. Soul himself had been 28 when he had gone under cryo. Wash was…26? So that would make Wash 30 now. Soul chuckled at the thought that his body, thanks to cryo, was now technically younger than his younger brother.
“So, Hobie, what have you been up to?” he asked quietly.
Soul skimmed through the short list of available files, and whistled in admiration when he came across Hoban’s flight school records. His brother had always excelled in school, and an aggravatingly casual knack for math and physics. That, on top of his strangely vivid imagination, and a magician-like penchant for getting himself out of impossible situations, it didn’t surprise Soul that Hoban would have graduated at the top of his class. Soul dug a bit deeper and found a few sparse records of Hoban’s life after flight school. A few jobs ferrying cargo between planets and spaceports, one short-lived job as a fry cook, several piloting jobs for various cargo transport services, and then finally a record of Hoban getting hired to pilot a Firefly-class transport called Serenity, and what looked to be a marriage certificate. After that, nothing.
Soul sighed and sat back. So at least Hoban was staying employed, and it looked like he finally found a good woman, something Soul had never managed to find. He ran a quick search on Serenity, finding out little except for the name of her captain, one Malcolm Reynolds. Typing a few commands into the computer, Soul set the tracking equipment on board to keep an eye out for Serenity. As almost an afterthought, Soul typed off a quick message and placed it on the Cortex, flagging it for eyes only, Malcolm Reynolds. If anything, Soul could possibly find out what his brother had been up to.
Returning to his main search, he was discouraged to once again find nothing. Not that it surprised him; Talos had given him very little information. Soul had found the vid on the Cortex without too much trouble, and had watched it with an impassive silence. He had to admit that this Mister Universe had put together a fairly convincing hoax, and Soul had to remind himself on more than one occasion that it was indeed a farce.
The information from Talos included nothing from Soul’s replacement, much to his chagrin, but it did hold a plethora of technical details of the communications system that had been used to send out the initial vid, as well as a picture showing clearly a destroyed control room, and the scrawny body of a man Soul assumed was Mister Universe. There were brief files on the few information smugglers that had already been found and “dealt with”, and an even smaller file on the one that remained. There was a listing of Cortex uploads, a disc containing more of the falsified images, and a single blurry picture of a figure, taken at the public Cortex terminal that had uploaded the most recent images. The image was so bad, Souls couldn’t even tell if the person was a man or a woman. Frustrated, he threw the files back onto the console, and stared out the viewscreen into the black.
It was going to be a long search.
Fourteen Hours Later
Such a lese name for a floating mall, and yet it attracted more business than most of the other way stations scattered around the ‘verse. Soul shook his head as he walked under the bright, hand painted sign and into the main corridor. Raised voices and alluring scents instantly overwhelmed him, and he found himself wishing for a very strong drink. Dressed in dark slacks, boots, and a long-sleeve green shirt, he knew he could blend in, and yet he still felt eyes staring at him as he walked.
Ramshackle shops lined both sides of the long corridor, and Soul knew that the next hallway would be almost indistinguishable from the first. There was no order to the shops, no grouping of people who sold the same goods; instead, in the space of twenty feet you could purchase a new pair of boots, watch a belly dancer on a stage, participate in a few rounds of tall card, and scarf down on what appeared to be fried rat. Lifting his head, Soul could barely make out the ceiling several hundred feet overhead, blocked out by level after level of questionable metalwork bridges spanning the gaps between even more shops, all touting an extreme variety of wares. He passed a stand selling knives, and he paused a moment to examine the blades. The metal itself seemed to be good quality, but the handles appeared to be roughly hewn from the same wood the stand itself was made from. Soul shook his head and continued on, ignoring the shop owner’s offer of half off if he bought three.
Soul made his way through the bazaar without too much trouble, only pausing twice to reorient himself. Some of the shops had changed locations, and two of the alleyways were closed off, but the basic layout remained the same as he remembered it. Twelve minutes later he approached a door set in the side of a sheet metal shack. He tapped on the metal and waited a moment. When no one answered, he tapped again, only harder. Still, no one came. He was about to knock a third time when a voice spoke up from the trash pile to the left of the door.
“Quit your banging, you tamade hundan,” the pile of trash mumbled. As Soul watched, the figure of a man slowly emerged. He was dressed entirely in what seemed to be a ratty blanket, and he was barefoot. A several-month growth of a beard appeared to be a nesting ground for the family of lice crawling through it. Soul found himself stepping back in repulse.
“I’m looking for a man named Hagan,” Soul said, his hand hovering next to the blade hanging off of his belt.
The pile of trash peered up at him curiously. “The hell you been--cryo?”
“Something like that.”
“Hagan don’t stay down here no more.”
Soul’s left eyebrow arched. “Wo bu dong.”
A crusty finger pointed upward, and Soul’s eyes followed it. At first he saw nothing but the cluster of shops hanging overhead, but then his gaze was drawn to a rather bright source of light coming from behind him. He turned slowly to see what could only be described as a palace fit for a hobo.
Hanging from the high ceiling, its walls were made out of the same corrugated tin as the shack he was standing in front of, but it was at least ten times larger, with so many blinking, pulsing lights that Soul was forced to shield his eyes. A series of catwalks led to and from the structure, with a main bridge passing directly over his head, so crowded with people that it was a wonder it didn’t collapse.
“That’s Hagan’s place?” Soul asked.
There was no answer. Soul looked back and found that once again, the man was indistinguishable from the trash he slept in.
Soul turned away, and with a sigh he headed for the nearest set of stairs.
* * *
“Just give Hagan this. He’ll know who I am, and he will want to see me.”
The ape standing guard at the main set of doors glowered at Soul, and then at the small trinket in his palm. Soul stood there calmly, even though he had been negotiating with the guard for the better part of fifteen minutes. He wanted to react to the bigger man’s breath, or comment on his lack of schooling; but thought better of it before he opened his mouth.
Finally, the ape grunted something that sounded like, “Wait here,” and disappeared through the doors.
Soul turned around to face the swarm of people that was pushing up behind him and began to realize just how much power Hagan had over these people. Four years ago, Hagan had been nothing but a small time crime lord, and crime was only a small part of his “business venture”. Hagan’s goal was to amass as much wealth as possible, and then to use that wealth to buy power. It was a great plan; in fact, it was everybody’s plan. Hagan, however, had enough sense to gather people around him that had the smarts to carry out that plan, and he himself had enough connections in the underground that he was able to fare much better than most in his position.
The last time Soul had visited Spangle’s Bazaar, Hagan was running a fairly successful import/export operation, shipping out illegal items just under the radar, and using his contacts to bring in medicines and other things that were desperately needed in the worse off sections of the bazaar. He didn’t exactly have a heart of gold, but Hagan cared about the people under him, something that usually ended up as a stumbling block for men of power. So he coasted along, earning just enough to keep him above the mire, but not enough to move up any further.
Obviously that isn’t a stumbling block any more.
The guard came back to the door looking rather pissed, but he stepped aside to let Soul through. The crowd behind him stared at him in awe, and Soul could only guess that not very many people were allowed through those doors.
They entered a brightly lit foyer, where two more guards stood waiting, their rifles raised and pointing at Soul’s chest.
“Stop here,” the ape ordered, and Soul complied.
The faint sound of classical music could be heard, but Soul couldn’t pinpoint the direction. He took the time to observe the layout of the room, calculating paths of escape, and pinpointing various decorations that could be used as weapons if the need arose. The main doors were behind him, a pair of doors to his left, and a single door straight ahead. The wall to the right was occupied with a large desk topped with a Cortex terminal, but the chair behind the desk was currently vacant. A variety of paintings hung on the walls, everything from Earth-that-was era landscapes to a few portraits of well-known celebrities. He followed the line of paintings across to the opposite wall, and found himself staring at a six-foot tall life-size portrait of Hagan himself.
Then the door ahead of him opened, and Soul found himself staring again. The flawless beauty that stepped out pouted at him with sultry lips even as her emerald green eyes traced over every inch of his body. Soul attempted to retain his composure, but it became increasingly difficult the closer she got to him. Her long blonde hair flowed around her angular face, and the slinky black dress she wore did nothing to hide the figure underneath. She walked on tall heels, and Soul could have sworn that they were specifically selected so she could look straight into his eyes. She was wearing something that created quite a bit of cleavage, and it was all he could do not to stare.
“Well, well,” she began in a breathless voice. “So this is the infamous Soul. I must say I wasn’t expecting someone quite so…dashing.”
She ran a single manicured finger down his cheek, and Soul knew instantly that she was playing him.
The woman continued, speaking in a way that sounded incredibly similar to purring. “Now, my employer is rather interested to see that you have the guts to return here.” She ran her hand down his side and rested it on his knife. Removing it, she handed it to the ape.
“It seems that the Alliance had a great deal of interest in locating you a few years back,” she said. The revolver was removed from his holster. “They gave my employer quite a bit of trouble about it.”
She ran her hands across his chest and found nothing, then wrapped her arms around him, pulling him tight. Their bodies pressed together, and she whispered in his ear. “I’m not sure he’s going to be happy to see you.”
Pulling back, she purposely dragged her nails across his back, and produced the small blade he kept concealed at the small of his back. “Now, I, on the other hand, am more than delighted to meet you.”
She crouched down, giving him a full overhead view of her ample breasts, and placed her hands on his ankles, removing the small revolver from his right and the serrated blade from his left. “I imagine that if the circumstances were reversed, you and I could get to know each other very well.”
The performance didn’t end until she had run both of her hands up the inside of his legs, and didn’t stop until she had felt everything. Satisfied, she stood up and faced Soul, bringing her lips to within an inch of his. “Mister Hagan will see you now. Follow me.” She slid her mouth over his, just slightly, and turned away.
Soul found it very easy to follow her.
Samuel Hagan had been into bodybuilding the last time Soul saw him. Granted, the big black man had quite a bit of fat to work through, but during Soul’s last trip to the bazaar, right before his recapture, Hagan was actually losing weight. Now there didn’t seem to be an ounce of fat on him. Nothing but pure muscle. That had Soul a bit worried, especially considering the look of menace in his old friend’s eyes.
Hagan sat behind a massive mahogany desk trimmed in what could be taken for gold, dressed in a suit probably worth as much as the desk itself. Bald by genetic inheritance rather than choice, Hagan had always worn a hat; now, his smooth dome seemed like a power statement rather than an imperfection. Perfect white teeth grinned at Soul, but the look in Hagan’s eyes showed a different emotion.
The woman in the black dress escorted Soul into the room and gestured to sit down in a leather chair across from Hagan. Soul sat, and the woman retreated to a corner of the room, emerging a moment later with two drinks, placing one in front of each of the men. Soul looked down at his, surprised to see that Hagan had actually remembered his drink of choice. Praying that Hagan hadn’t gone as far as poisoning the vodka, Soul preformed a bit of courtesy and pretended to take a sip of the drink. Across the deck, Hagan ignored his drink, instead clasping his big hands together and leaning forward.
“You ain’t heard it,” Hagan said, “But four years ago, right after you left here that last time, I had two Alliance marine squadrons tear through my office and kill off every living soul in the building, except mine.”
Soul’s remained silent, even though the news took him by surprise.
Hagan paused, his gaze never wavering from Soul’s eyes. “They took me to a room, somewhere on this station, and beat me for three days. Never said nothin’. Never answered none of my questions. Just beat me. Every hour, on the hour. Didn’t even let me sleep, eat, or drink--I had to piss on the gorram floor.” He reached over to his desk, grabbing the small glass filled with an amber colored liquid. Swirling it around theatrically, Hagan lifted it to his lips and drank, swallowing the contents in one gulp. In the same movement, he swung his arm to the side and released the glass from his hands, letting it fall to the floor and shatter. His eyes still never moved.
“I think they wanted to break me, soften me up some to get me to spill all of my secrets. Well, it worked. After two days, I was willing to sell out my own mamma, and they still didn’t stop. They knew just how to beat me, too. Maximum pain, minimal damage. They only wanted to hurt me, though, not kill me.”
“What does this have to do with me?” Soul asked innocently, yet knowing full well what the answer would be.
Hagan’s false smile disappeared. “Three days, and they finally stopped. Took me to a room with a single chair, but they made me stand. Nine hours. Every time I tried to sit or lean, they hit me. Then another fella came in, sat down in that chair, and asked me one question. Just one. All that for one simple question. Do you know what he asked me?”
Soul didn’t respond, so Hagan continued.
“He said ‘where is Soul’? That’s it. And of course, you made sure I had no idea where you were headed, just in case someone came asking, so I told him I didn’t know. He stared me down for a minute, and then ordered his men to let me go. They butchered eleven people and tortured me for three days just to find out where you disappeared to, then they let me go even though I had no answer. So I said to myself, I said, ‘Self, if I ever see that Soul again, I’ll be gorram sure to kill him for bringing that down on me and mine’.”
A massive hand disappeared into his coat pocket, and came back out holding a small revolver, which Hagan pointed at Soul. He pulled back the hammer on the gun and met Soul’s gaze beyond the forward. “You got any kind of a good reason why I shouldn’t pull this trigger, now’s the time to say it, you ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng.”
On Board Serenity
In the Black
Malcolm Reynolds settled down into Wash’s chair, once again realizing that the chair behind the pilot’s console would forever be known as that.
Serenity was silent, finally. Earlier in the week Jayne had somehow managed to throw a wrench into Kaylee’s engine upgrades, literally, leaving them grounded on New Canaan for two days longer than Mal had intended. The resulting delay in shipment of New Canaan’s finest liquor was threatening to lose them a sizeable chunk of income, so Mal had Kaylee running the engines hot, something that wasn’t sitting too well with his engineer. However, Simon was doing a good job of keeping her distracted, so Mal made a mental note to thank the doctor later, right after quietly asking him to restrict any loud “exercises” to sometime earlier than one in the morning. Mal chuckled as he pictured the look Simon would have on his face after getting that request. Or Mal could make it an order. The Captain laughed out loud at that thought.
Sleeping was something that hadn’t come easy to him since the war, so Mal usually spent his mornings on the Bridge, drinking a cup of coffee (which actually tasted fairly decent for once) and waiting for Zoe to emerge, which happened, as it did every day, at six o’clock precisely. His First Mate took the seat across from him, settling in with a small cup of tea, her drink of choice for the early morning hours. Zoe made a point to avoid sitting in her late husband’s chair, but every time Mal brought up the possibility of simply getting a new pilot’s chair, Zoe objected. Never gave a reason why, but Mal kept the chair all the same. He knew Zoe was still torn apart inside, but she had yet to show it. A few times Mal could have sworn he heard her crying in her bunk, but when she came out, her eyes were clear. One day, she would talk, and when that day came, well, Mal hoped they were on a planet with a good counselor. He knew about loss, having lost his Ma when the gorram Alliance firebombed Shadow, but Mal’s way of handling the pain wasn’t exactly the best way. It involved rather large amounts of alcohol and quite a few bruises and black eyes. He knew Zoe would need more than that.
“Quiet morning,” Zoe said.
“Loud night,” Mal replied, wishing that Kaylee’s bunk wasn’t right next to his.
“Jayne said he used to stuff tissues in his ears. Said it helped.”
Mal was surprised to hear her speaking about her and Wash. He supposed it was a good thing. Looking over at Zoe, he half hoped for a grin, but found her staring ahead, her face serene. He took a sip of his coffee and looked down at the console. The course River had laid in the day before still looked better than anything he could have came up with. From the looks of it they would hit Ita Moon just six hours overdue. Hopefully Samhaen would still take the deal without cutting Serenity’s part of the profits.
A flashing light from one of the side screens caught his eye. Mal looked over to see a red icon pulsing, the icon that indicated that there was a message flagged for one of his crew sitting somewhere on the Cortex. Sighing, he called up the screen and found the message. Preparing to pass it off to one of the crew, he was surprised to see that it was addressed to him, and eyes-only on top of that.
Mal thumbed the small reader beside the screen, and the computer beeped, acknowledging his identification and opening the message.
I am writing due to an interest I have in a man who I believe at one time have been a member of your crew. All I am asking for is affirmation that he is still alive and well, or if he has left your employ, some indication of who I need to contact to obtain the information I am searching for. Please Wave me with whatever information you feel comfortable in giving me. His name is Hoban Washburne, but he may be going by “Wash”. I greatly appreciate anything you can give me.
Mal stared at the screen. The message was very blunt and to the point, and it wasn’t asking for any specific information about the location of Serenity, but it seemed rather odd, to say the least. Mal thought for a moment, and then typed off a response. Ever since he had sent out the vid from Miranda, the Alliance seemed to be stepping lightly around his ship. They, of course, were denying the whole thing, claiming the vid was a hoax, but Mal knew that it was causing a lot of trust in the Alliance to fall apart. The possibility still existed that the Parliament would still send someone to silence them and take River away, but Mal didn’t want to live under the radar anymore, at least not as far under as they had been running. Their recent line of jobs had netted them a good profit, and the crew was happy.
He looked over at Zoe. Well, most of them, anyway.
“Badger’s tryin’ to get back into our good graces again,” he said out loud. “Liumang sent us another long-winded Wave askin’ us to run a few jobs for him.”
Zoe spoke without turning her head. “What did you say?”
As much as he hated lying to his First Mate, this was one situation that warranted it. Zoe didn’t need to know this. Not yet, at least. Mal would keep an eye and see if this “Soul” responded. Then he would decide what to do.
He took another sip of coffee. “I told him we’d think about it.”
Thursday, February 16, 2006 11:49 AM
Friday, February 17, 2006 5:28 AM
Friday, February 17, 2006 5:34 AM
Friday, February 17, 2006 5:42 AM
Friday, February 17, 2006 9:22 AM
Friday, February 17, 2006 1:29 PM
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