Legacy 2:13, The Evils of Sake
Sunday, February 26, 2006

With Legacy floating as deep in the Black as anybody could be without bein' out of the 'Verse, Jacob decides to unwind with a drinking game.


This chapter is a bit of silliness I had in mind for a little while now, just to break the grim motif the season has been taking. Just a temporary reprieve, though, because with the next episode comes a very... VERY unfunny turn. This episode is mostly about secrets, particularly those held by Sylvia and Zane, and the un-relationship between Friday and Casher. Don't be too surprised by Friday's reminiscences, though. If you didn't see that coming by now, you obviously haven't been paying attention to her at all. Firefly and Serenity are property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Legacy is all ruttin' mine. Feedback: Give, if you value your life!

The Evils of Sake

Zane's hands flashed by almost beyond speed of sight as he shuffled both decks simultaneously, a talent not possessed by anybody else on the crew. In short order, the seventy two short and twelve tall cards were randomized and divided into two piles. With almost imperceptable flicks of his fingers, he began to send cards spinning with surprising accuracy to land directly before each of their intended targets. "You know the rules," Zane said. "Twelve talls in six suits, tall suit trumps, nothing is wild," he flicked one of the circular 'tall' cards, sending it into the center of the table and revealing its value. "Tall card is... Apple. Apple is tall. Ante up." "Ante?" Jacob asked. "Ain't playin' like that, remember?" Zane gave him a look, "Oh, right," he grinned. "What about the stakes?" "Two shots," Friday said immediately, "I'll take two." "Two for the doctor," Zane said, giving her the wanted cards. "No claim on the tall." "Cover and two," Jacob said, making sure he didn't frown at his cards. They weren't exactly good. Well, it didn't matter, really. This was a game most played to lose. "Two. No claim on the tall," Zane paused for a moment. "Just a second, who's flyin' this boat?" "Autopilot," Anne said, scrutinizing her hand. Jacob leaned over, but she shot him a blithely reproachful look. "Three, and claim tall," she said with a smile. "What if somethin' goes wrong?" Casher said, glancing at Anne. "I got nothin'. Fold." "That's a good point," Friday said, frowning now at her own hand. "Who's going to stay sober?" There was a moment of silence, then as one, the entire table, even including Casher, for a wonder, uttered a single word. "Monday." "Tall is claimed, dealer takes three," Zane said, looking down at his cards with an expression so neutral it could be used as an acidic buffer. "Dealer lays two pair, off-tall." "Two pair? That's all you got?" Jacob said with a laugh. "Somethin' tells me I'm goin' thirsty tonight. Straight, five through tortoise, single-tall." "Gorram it," Friday muttered, throwing down her hand, and her shot of rice wine with it. "Casher?" Zane prompted, before knocking back his own shot. "Nothing." Casher followed suit. "Boss?" Jacob took a look at his wife, who was grinning contentedly. He knew his liver couldn't take him losing too often. "What about you?" "Foursies," she laid down. "Drink up." "You know, this might not be exactly wise, sir," Casher said. "The getting plastered and leaving the ship to a stodgy Companion and a lunatic woman, by which I mean." "Sake loosen your tongue already?" He said, scowling at the burn of the liquor as it coursed down his throat. "Just pointing out the painfully obvious, sir." Jacob shook his head. "We're at the corner of 'No' and 'Where', it's a good four days and a whole lot a' nothin' 'tween us an' anything. And I've been hearin' whispers of mutiny from my dear doctor," he refilled his glass. "So, in an effort to mitigate the onset of space dementia, we're havin' a nice friendly game of Tall Card." "You mean morale, sir?" "Exactly!" Jacob said. "New hand." "Alright," Zane said, expertly flicking the cards to their places. A swift motion of the thumb spun another circular card directly into the center of the table, landing it right on top of the previous tall. "Tall card is... Peach. Peach is tall." <> Casher squinted at his cards. Were they supposed to be all... bendy? He'd heard this was a game a fella played to lose, but he figured that he was losing rather badly. At least, that's what his eyes said. Or was it his mouth. One of those things on his face was saying it. He scowled. "An'body gon' claim that tall?" Zane said, one hand on his cards and the other over his shot glass. He hadn't drank much, but the lanky young mechanic didn't seem nearly as able to hold his liquor as anybody else at the table. He hadn't drunk much, because he had an almost legendary ability to win. "Three," Anne said. "No... four." "Can't give four," Zane said. Then he glanced at his own hand. "Ah, hell. Four it is." He'd long ago stopped flicking the cards, after landing one in the tea kettle on the counter. It was an incredible shot to behold, but hardly what the man had intended. He felt somebody touching his leg again. Not helpful. Distracting even. "One," Jacob muttered, and Zane handed over another card. Casher wondered. He wondered what the captain had. He wondered what he had, as a point of fact. It was decidedly hard to tell. "Casher?" "What?" the large man muttered. "Oh, right. Um... I'll jus' stick wi' what I've got." "No claimin' the tall?" "Nope," Friday said from Casher's side. Practically from Casher's lap, in point of fact. It seemed the more drunk she got the closer to him she got as a result. "You're all idiots," Monday said once again. She'd said it rather frequently over the last hour or so, probably just marveling at the sheer idiocy of drinking while pursued by multiple and extraordinarily dangerous enemies. Come to think of it, it didn't seem overly wise. Or something like that... "Well... damn," Zane said, throwing down his hand. It was a straight flush, but in banana, the tall suit. "Dealer forced to take th' tall. Fold." "What y'all got?" Jacob said, dropping his own mismatched and nonconsecutive cards onto the table. Anne had... well, her cards were on the floor, next to her. She was muttering something and rummaging around for whatever it was she'd dropped, and didn't seem to be getting back into the game any time soon. Friday laid down something, that when viewed from a little more than arm's length looked to be five of a dragons. Casher sighed. "Well," he said. "Looks like y'got me." He threw his cards down, only noticing once they hit the table that they ran from tortoise to ace in the plum suit. Royal flush. Well wasn't that just something. "Devious bastard," Friday said, recoiling from him for a moment as she collected her drink and knocked it back. Jacob did likewise, and even Anne, who'd forfieted the hand, grabbed her shot and pulled it down with her. Zane tipped back his head and drained the glass, but overbalanced himself and tumbled backward out of his chair with a crash. And everybody began to laugh. Casher included. "What y'all laughin' at?" Zane asked in confusion. "Ain't a thing... I can still deal." "I think y'ought sit this'n out, little buddy," Jacob said slurredly. "I c'n still deal," Zane asserted. "Just need s'm help gettin' back in m'chair, s'all." "You're all idiots," Monday asserted again. Casher noted that she hadn't moved though. And she appeared to be grinning. Found the situation funny did you? He knuckled his eyes. The lines runnin' every which way on the walls and cieling were getting awful distracting. A maze in blue and gold. Not fair to torment a body like that. Not a fella with poor eyes like his. Finally, Casher groaned and reached over, grabbing the chair leg and tipping the thing back up, bringing the mechanic with it. Zane sprawled onto the table for a moment, before slowly reshuffling the talls and handing out cards once more. "A'right." he said, when all the participants had their cards. "Tall card is... plum. Plums are tall." <> Madness. She watched them all from her place, a quiet corner. They had forgotten about her a long time ago, engaged thoroughly in their game. The game lasted about two hours, ending when Zane finally drank himself into a stupor. Monday just rolled her eyes at the mechanic and took a sip of her tea. She knew how much the Companion was enjoying this. Not the being part of it, simply the watching. She knew that if the woman drank half so much as her sister... Well, she'd be a lot like her sister. After Zane's head met the table for the last time, the drinking game turned to unadulterated drinking. The only pause to be had was when Casher had been sent to drop the mechanic into his hammock in the engine room. Silent as a ghost, she followed him, waiting until the lanky man had stopped swinging to enter the room with its even hum and occasional gurgle as a dollop of fluid was forced out of Zane's still and down around the fuel tankerage. She stole up next to him, reaching out with a gentle finger. When she prodded his belly, he made a gurgling noise of his own, and batted her hand away. She poked him harder, the second time, making him groan and try to roll over. However, being in a hammock, that action dumped him rather painfully onto the floor. "Baah," Zane growled. "What's the where what?" "You hit him," she whispered, and Zane turned up to her. "Not yet," Zane said, his voice surprisingly clear. "Ain't met him yet." "You will. Walk up, hello, and a fist to the face." Zane forced himself up to an unsteady sit. He had much more than a recommended dosage of alcohol flowing through his system. His liver was in terrible danger. "Why you visit'n a drunk like m'self anyhow?" Zane said, calmly pulling over a bucket. "Is he still there?" she asked, her voice small. "Don't know how," Zane said. He held up a finger, indicating he wasn't finished, and leaned over the bucket, emptying most of what he'd imbibed over the last three hours into it. "But he's still around," he finished after spitting the last of it into the bucket. "He had a gift," she said. "Knew the truth of what would be." "So do you," Zane said, now a good deal clearer. "His path ended right there, and he knew it. He knew that you didn't care for him more than a pet, but he loved you." "I know he did," she whispered, staring at the cieling. "Does he still talk to you?" "From time to time." "Is he going to survive this?" Sylvia asked. Zane gave her a level look. "I'm just a drunk mechanic with a dead telepath camped out in his brainpan," Zane said. "Only one 'ere can answer that question, well sure as hell it ain't me." "I have to tell him," she said suddenly, rising to her feet. Zane's hand caught her before she turned, though. "Might be y'want to think this'n through a bit, pet," he slurred. "No. Soon she will break and shatter, and he will run away, and the farmer will kill him, and he needs to know," she said, breaking free. He took one lurching step after her, but landed back on the floor. He let out a slurring yell which sounded almost, but not quite, entirely unlike her name, but she ignored him. As she moved away from the engine room, she came across Monday, who was headed down toward the infirmery. She paused a moment. "Monday," she said. The Companion turned and started a moment, realizing she was there. She had to remember to stop doing that, hiding from her shipmates. But she didn't want them seeing her like this, all broken and scattered and shattered. They'd risked so much to find her, only to find her broken, unable to be fixed. "What is it?" she said evenly. Usually she had a condescending, a pitying, or a wary tone when dealing with Sylvia, but this time, she had a relatively good mood at observing her shipmates make drunken asses of themselves. She had a touch of cruelty to her, by times. Sylvia hoped, not for her own sake, that the woman could put it aside. "Do you love your sister?" she asked. Monday's eyebrow rose. "What sort of question is that?" "You had better," Sylvia's voice quivered at the feel of water bubbling about her toes. She didn't look down. Don't look at the water. Not safe to. The ship was flooding? The crew was in terrible danger... no. Not flooding. Just... "Two paths, one to life, one to death, and each the darker for it. Be sure you know which you walk." Monday shook her head and descended beneath the chill tides, casting a mutter of "Crazy woman," over her shoulder. <> Casher's eyes drifted open again. How had he gotten down here? Before him was the opulent environs of Friday's infirmery, all draped about with silks and hangings, far from the antisceptic conditions he'd... he'd what? As far as he could remember, he'd never been to a hospital before. It was becoming increasingly enfuriating that he had about two years of life that he could recall, and before that, nothing. Like his entire life had been taken away from him by some cruel prankster. "What is it?" Friday said. "Am I boring you?" He realized that she'd kept talking. Oh, damn. That wasn't good. She'd expect him to have listened. Doubly a problem considering he was both divinely drunk and half-deaf besides. And she already seemed a touch hurt, now that he thought on it. "Oh, no, I'm listenin'," he managed to slur. His tongue had betrayed him first, that damnable hunk of meaty, bumpy flesh. Now, every word he said sounded like it was being articulated by a... well... a drunkard, in point of fact. "Well," she continued. "We was all celebratin', seein's we just rightly transplant'd a whole chestful of organs into that woman, an' she done got on the mend, we decided to paint th' town. I musta... well, sake weren't the only thing runnin' through me, I'll have you know. Well, we had this fancy dinner, and in the middle, I go runnin' out to meet up with the boyfriend at th' time. Had ourselves a quick go, and back for dessert." "Right in the middle of th' resteraunt?" Casher said, scandalized. Friday burst into laughter, actually blushing a bit. "Naw," she said, waving the notion away. A part of her seemed to ponder it for a moment, though. "Had it in the bathroom. Was a damn big night for me, y'got realize. So I and the boys, we goes out and start singin'." "Singin'?" Casher echoed. "Yup. Singin'. I think it was... no, it was Serenity Valley, that's the one it was! Well beltin' out that tune on Boros is just askin' for all manner a' trouble, and sure 'nough, trouble came our way. Whole squad of 'fine Alliance Federals'," she took extra care to enunciate that part. "Figured wouldn't be a good idea, us bein' all drunk and happy and such. So they grab my boy, and I get creative." "Creative?" "Yup. So's I keep on a-singin'," she said, her legs, stretched as they were over his lap, twitching as she neared her obvious narrative climax. "An' when he grabs for me, I slip right out a' m'dress." "Really?" "Oh, f'r sure, I did!" Friday smiled at the memory. "Just a little strandy number. I miss that dress. Made people go all a-bibbledy when I walked around in it. Well, now he's got this dress in his hand and me wanderin' about, stark as the day I came screamin' inta' the 'Verse, and there's six other Feds too caught up in the show to remember they got prisoners." "Naked," Casher laughed. "Don't you get laughin'," she chastized lightly, shoving him with her foot. "This here's a morality tale on the evils of sake." "But you were naked?" "Yup. So m'boys, they done run off, and the squad just stands around there, lookin' all manner a' stupid. Took them a gorram hour to arrest me," she chuckled. "So they did arrest you?" Casher pondered. "Yup, spent the night in prison, mostly since the boys was too drunk to get me out on bail. Didn't hurt, none, though," she paused. "Look at me, goin' on 'bout m'self like some sort of ruttin' man! How's about you? Got any funny, drunken naked stories for the tellin'?" "Well," Casher stretched his brain. "I don't... I'm not sure, truth to tell. No, wait, there was one time..." "Go one," she prodded him in the chest with her toe. "Well," he said. "Was about a year back, and I'd just landed on Beaumonde. I was tracking down a lead on some information. You know, for the book," she frowned. "You've seen it." "I don't see how this is drunken, funny, or nekkid," she muttered. "I'm getting to that," he placed her with a hand on her foot. "Well, I was supposed to meet this woman in a bar. Maidenhead, I think it was. Well, she and I got to talking, and all of the sudden, I'm feeling kinda light headed. Soon, I found myself face down on the floor, getting dragged to a hotel not too far away. She handcuffs me to the radiator and rifles through my clothes, taking all the money I had, and dials the Feds. Well, soon as I got my head about me, I realized I was having a bad night." "Bad night? Who was she?" "Never did figure that out," he said. "Weren't my contact, sure as hell. Well, here I am, handcuffed to the radiator, with Feds outside the door, and I figure I got about one shot to get out. So I tear the rutting radiator right out of the floor." "Oh," she said, relishing in the mental image. "Oh, indeed. Well, the first Fed comes in the door, all decked out in that armor the special forces kind get. Well, I smack him with the radiator. All that armor isn't much help against fifty pounds of metal, I'm telling you." "What happened next?" she asked. "Well, the other three see me up and about, and level their guns, so I take my only other option: a flying leap out the window. Needless to say, when I landed in a baker's stall under the hotel, I got some strange looks." "Can't imagine why?" she said, rolling her eyes. "Well, I was naked, jien huo having run off with my clothes, money, and identification. That was not my best day ever. Well, now I got three Feds after me for some minor infraction that just got a bit more interesting by me running around in my altogether out in the streets of New Duinsmire. Hey, are you listening?" She'd gotten a rather dreamy look on her drunken face, and her slow grin was pointed elsewhere. "What? Of course. Just tried to picture you... yeah, that's not an easy task, you realize." "Flattered," he said, shoving her legs off of him. "What? What's wrong," she said, now looking him square in the eye with concern on her face. "You're just like everybody else," Casher muttered. "As long as I can remember, all folk ever saw of me was my body. They figure that since I got the body of a bull, I must have the brain of one too. They talk slow to me, thinking I'm too dense to figure out anything they say that isn't monosyllybalic. Hell, if I was a five-foot nothing shrimp with thick glasses, I'd have my book published by now. Everybody... It gets... It pisses me off." She shook her head. "You think it's bad for you? I got a body built for one damn thing, and that's makin' menfolk drool. Ain't a one of them think that I could perform a coronary bypass, pull out a bullet, Weave a laser burn, and diagnose and treat appendicitis in one damn double-shift. I got all the problems a' lookin' like this, and bein' a woman a'top a' them." "We're both underrated," Casher said. "Nobody'll ever see us for what we are." "I do," she said quietly, her eyes suddenly intent on her feet. "Right. You've got the best brain of anybody on board, so," he said, but she rose, taking a step toward him. His unsteady step back made him fall, slamming his back into the doorframe of her infirmery. "Shouldn't be puttin' yourself down," she said, squatting down next to him, a stubborn look on her face. "You're pretty smart too, you know." Casher smiled. "You're pretty... pretty, I guess. The brain is the most erogenous zone in the body, y'know?" "For a second there, I thought you were going to say something stupid," she smiled. "Why ain't you never said nothin' before?" "Well," Casher said, wiping a palm across his face. "Ain't never did, because I don't deserve to. I don't have money, I don't have connections, hell I don't even have a home. I don't have anything I could offer that would be..." "Alright, now you're bein' stupid," she interrupted. "You got a home. Legacy's home. She's my home, sure as hell, and she's yours too. I ain't never looked for money. Money usually ends up in bad men's hands, anyhow, and connections just means yer willin' to sell yourself cheaper than my sister upstairs." "And... I don't know what to do," Casher said finally. She laughed. Laughed! "Oh, don't look at me like that," she said. "Truth told, neither do I." "Really? And all those men you mentioned... and the women, in point of fact?" Her face became stoic and he might have said dignified, like some sort of Oriental queen from Earth-that-was. "I grew up around sex," she said. "Until I turned eighteen, I thought it would be my livelyhood. After... I guess I wanted to use what they taught me for myself. I'm not saying it was right... but it was my choice." "See? we are so hopeless," Casher shook his head. "We?" her voice sounded a bit hopeful. It damn near broke his heart. "Fine. If this's gonna happen," he stood. "It's going down like this. Next place we stop, I'm takin' you out for dinner. Whatever happens after that... well, we'll just see, won't we?" "Sounds like a date," she smiled, running her fingers along his cheek as she walked away, her smooth gait lasting all of three steps before she almost tripped, belying her intoxicated state. Monday chose that moment to make her appearance, glancing around as if surprised to find him alone. He nodded toward the infirmery, and she gave him a flat look. Shaking his head, he looked at the shower. He felt like he was going to need one. A cold one. Yup, a nice cold shower. <> She found him alone in the cockpit. Good, she needed him to be alone. "Jacob?" she said, spinning his chair. "Ah, Syl. Ni kan qi lai hen you jing shen. Xi huan fen xiang mu ge Sake?" he said. She glanced up her brow at him. He waggled his bottle toward her, making his point especially clear. A light was flickering near his elbow, and she got the feeling that it was important. The truth could wait a moment, at least. She strode past him and flicked the screen on. A man, older than Jacob and horribly burned about the face, stared back. "Well, there's a face I didn't think I'd see again any time... ever," the man said. "Manny! Zeng jing tai zhang!" Jacob slurred. "Yeah, it has been a while hasn't it?" "Zen yang shi chuan?" Jacob asked. The burned man scowled then. "Ship's just fine. That's three consecutive sentences where you ain't said a word of English. That means you're either drunk or gettin' sexed. Please, God, let it be the first one," the man shook his head. "Who's the shiny bit next to you?" "Tai shi yi ge peng you, shi quan bu," Jacob said dismissively. The burned man turned to face Sylvia more squarely. "Do me a favor," he said. "Hit him. Hard." She obliged him, kneeing her seated captain in the ribs. "Ah. Son of a bitch!" Jacob shouted. "What'd you go tell her to do that for?" "Might be that you're woman don't speak Mandarin as well as you, and might not appreciate you goin' on like that." "She ain't my woman, Manny," Jacob responded slurringly. "Really?" Manny frowned suspiciously. "Last Wave you sent our way, you said you'd just got married. And somethin' to do with that stupidity over Boros." "Wife's off... well, vomitin' at the moment. Damn, where's my manners? Syl, this here's my..." "Brother," she finished for him. She laid her hand on her captain's shoulder, and drank it all in. The two of them, growing up together on that ship. There was another, though. Somebody not here anymore. The years of relative happiness, if in purpetual near-poverty. The fire. That hurt her, a pain creeping up her arm and into her heart. The fire which scarred his brother for life, which cost the lives of most of the other family on the crew. She watched as he drifted away. "Imanuel Greyson. Folk just call me Manny. Heard you was gonna be close by, figured I might as well send you a wave." Manny said. "Funny, that don't look like the Jack." "Got myself m'own sh... ship," he gulped. "You gonna lose your lunch?" Jacob's brother muttered. "Might." "Hey, I can call you back. I'll be above Bena for a while," Manny said, raising his hands. Jacob nodded. "Well, I'll be back in a few hours." "Bena. Companion training house," she said. "Lots of pretty girls. No chance. No future." "You wanted to say somethin'?" he said, setting his bottle onto the ground. "Is she transparent?" "Like glass. What is it?" "You need to know something. The truth." "Really?" He said, pulling a strand of hair out of his eyes. "Out with it then." So she told him the truth. Whole and unabashed. "Well," he said, when she finished. "Either I'm drunk or you're crazy." "Popular opinion," she whispered, taking a seat under the windows, lying down to stare up at the stars. "Well, that's a..." Jacob paused. "That's a..." A loud thump sounded behind her as his body slipped off of the chair and crashed to the floor. She wondered if he would remember any of that in the morning. Doubtful. Not the best brain. Abused. She stared up at the stars, and felt a tear begin to roll off her cheek. Shatter. Break. She knew what was coming, but was powerless to stop it. Poor Friday.



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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
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Legacy 3:07, Confederation, Part 3
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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.

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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?