BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

ARCADIA

Over The Hills and Far Away - Ch 4
Thursday, March 2, 2006

Set after OIS. Much to Inara’s chagrin, Mal accepts a job offer that takes Serenity far away from New Melbourne and to an unremarkable moon called Three Hills.... Mal and Inara are at the Landowner's Lunch while Zoe works on brining down the party...


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2425    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Ch 4

Mal walked into the banquet hall in the center of town with Heather on his arm. The shindig wasn’t nearly as fancy as the one he’d taken Kaylee to on Persephone. Names were not announced as they walked into the room. There was no invisible screen checking for weapons or a flying chandelier. Instead there was a large hall with hanging chandeliers, crystal by the look of them, which were mounted on a ceiling of mirrors. The hall was carpeted in red. The walls had red and gold floral wallpaper, looked like a print from an ancient Chinese dress. There were about twenty circular tables in the room, each adorned with white, lacy table clothes, crystal wine glasses, and fine silverware of every variety. Mal made a mental note to watch Inara to see which fork to use for what salad and such. Each table seated six folks. This was the Landowner’s Lunch, the first event in a week of festivities that would celebrate the opening of the new textile factory on Three Hills.

There were five days of events planned – all for Landowner’s Only, as if they were the ones who mattered, the beating hearts of the small towns scattered all over the moon. Three Hills was a lot like Shadow in that way. The majority of the citizens were ranchers and hired hands. They didn’t own property of their own, or if they did, not enough to warrant an invitation to a fancy meal. There were sixty male landowners, give or take, on the moon, each of whom had come to the lunch bearing brides.

Heather led the four to their table. The girl was a clever fox. Mal had taken a liking to her immediately. He could sympathize with her plight. It wasn’t right for the Alliance to barge in and take what didn’t belong to them, to change the way of life that the people on this gorram moon had held dear for generations. They took their seats at the table in the very center of the room. Through the labor of some wily manipulation on Heather’s part, Heather Zagorska and Gilbert Crane were entitled to the most prestigious seats at the event. They would be sharing a table with the two people Heather hated most – Senator Aurelia Woo and Mayor Morris Kentdale.

“Heather,” Kentdale said, extending his hand towards the young woman. He was a big man, just a hair shorted than Jayne, with a bulging gut and a wiry, salt and pepper colored hair and beard. He was dressed all too similarly to Mal. Their clothing was identical save for the fact that Mal was in back with a red tie, which Kentdale’s was coat was blue and his tie yellow-gold, just like his vest. Mal was surprised to see genuine warmth in his eyes. “It’s been too long, my dear, too long,” he said, and kissed Heather’s hand before turning to Mal. “And who is your handsome escort?”

“This here is Malcolm Reynolds,” Heather said, smiling giving Mal’s arm and affectionate squeeze. “He’s my second cousin on my mama’s side,” feeding the mayor their agreed upon lie, “came here all the way from Lilac.” Inara shot him a look, recognizing the deeper falsehood instantly. Mal avoided her eyes. He didn’t make a point of lying about himself more than was necessary, but given Shadow’s fate after the war… it was a conversation so easily avoided, and so he avoided it. “We’re gonna be married in a few months time. Daddy always did want the money to stay in the fam’ly…”

“Congratulations, Mr. Reynolds!” Kentdale exclaimed, ceasing Mal’s hand and shaking in vigorously. “You’ve caught yourself one hell of a woman.”

“Reckon I have,” Mal said courteously. “My darlin’ Heather tells me this is your third term?”

“That is it,” Kentdale answered, “that is it. Gilbert!” he exclaimed, taking a step past Mal and ceasing the hand of the sweaty-palmed boy on Inara’s arm. “I was wondering if you’d be coming. You didn’t attending the Christmas dinner last year…”

“Well, I was… you know my…” Gilbert began to sputter. Kentdale put his hand up to stop him.

“I understand, I understand. Family first,” he said, turning his gaze to Inara. “And who is this fine woman?”

“That is Inara Serra,” a woman’s voice said. Mal spun around. Senator Aurelia Woo was a short woman, no taller than five foot three. Her hair and eyes were black as midnight. Like Inara, her face was completely unreadable. And yet… When Mal looked at Inara’s face, unreadable as it was sometimes, he always got the sense that something was glowing behind it, that it was…. Warm, that she was warm, caring… He always got the sense when he looked at her that she valued him, his crew, Serenity… that she… and that she would…. There was kindness in her, kindness that she couldn’t mask, couldn’t hide. Her heart…. Senator Woo wasn’t like that. Her face was unreadable, and cold as ice, even as a smile red-lipped smile spread across her face. “Your reputation precedes you.”

“As does yours,” Inara greeted, smiling serenely. “It’s an honor to meet you, Senator.”

“Believe me, Lady Serra,” Woo said with darkness in her eyes, “the pleasure is mine.”

~*~

Kaylee retied her bonnet for what seemed like the hundredth time. No matter what she did it seemed lopsided. She put it on, tied it, noticed it was leaning left, took it off tied it, noticed it was leaning the other way…. It didn’t matter much really, to look at it, but Kaylee didn’t like the way it felt. It was bad enough that it made her head feel thick and fuzzy, she didn’t want it to make her feel unbalanced, too. She had no idea how the captain tolerated it the way he did. As she finished tying, Zoe approached. “You understand your part in all this?”

Kaylee nodded, avoiding eye contact with Zoe. For a moment, the sight of one million tiny pieces of glass scattered across the floor of the engine room flashed before her eyes. “You ain’t got to worry ‘bout me,” Kaylee said, more for her benefit than anyone else’s. Zoe had moved on, talking to Jayne quickly and then turning to Rye, their employer. He’d provided them with transportation to the Factory site and its adjacent Town Hall. It was in the latter that the Landowner’s Lunch was being held. Mal and Inara were there right now.

Normally, Wash would drive them to location for a job, but he was off buying fuel and a few parts and, Kaylee cringed, Zoe’s replacement present. River was with him, probably being more or a hindrance than a help. Shepard Book had promised Simon about a hundred times that morning that River would be safe as long as she stayed away from the factory and the Town Hall. Wash had been reluctant to take her at first, but when Zoe started showing signs of worrying that the constant debate between Book, Wash, and Simon concerning River would delay the job somehow Wash immediately offered to take River with him. Kaylee wondered if she knew, if River had the power to walk through Wash’s memories, if she’d seen what Kaylee did. She wondered if River would be mad, if she would tell… if she would tell Simon. Kaylee sighed. She really didn’t need to worry about River telling Simon. He probably…. Simon was with the Shepard and… well, he didn’t seem to much care.

Kaylee smiled politely and Rye walked up to her. The Town Hall had been built decades ago, maybe even a half century. It was an old, two story yellow brink building. It’s multiple, large, glass windows were trimmed with white siding and shutters. The shutters had been painted recently, probably in an attempt to make the building look nicer. Instead, it just made the yellow brick look that much older. Two alliance feds stood outside the building in formal dress, guns in the holsters. There were no camera security systems in the build. They had to rely on eyes, on guards.

That’s why Kaylee was in a bonnet, and a strange, worn, dirty brown skirt and an equally worn tan top that made her look like something from a history book or a cattle ranch, or, in this case, a sheep farm. Rye was dressed in equally worn clothing. They were posing as a married couple. They would go up to the guards and cause a distraction, a diversion. Rye offered Kaylee his arm. “You ready?”

~*~

Simon tapped the girl’s knees to check her reflexes. “So far, so good…” he assured the harassed looking mother who was sitting in the corner. His patient was a seven-year-old who seemed to have the flu. When he’d tried to tell her mother this the woman would have none of it, insisting that Simon perform a proper examination. This was an inconvenience. A first-year med student could tell that there was nothing seriously wrong with the child, nothing some chicken soup, bed rest, and a regular dosage of Tylenol wouldn’t fix. Simon watched the girl’s pupils respond as he waved his finger in front of her eyes. “Pupil reactions are good, pulse is slightly elevated but nothing to worry about… You’re daughter’s going to be fine.” The mother didn’t speak a word to him as she gathered her daughter and walked away.

Simon was getting used to this kind of treatment. When Book had asked him to come into town and play doctor Simon had welcomed the prospect – well, after being assured that he wasn’t walking straight into the arms of the Feds he’d welcomed it. It was nice to be practicing medicine again, seeing patients, diagnosing a variety of maladies… but he’d forgotten how difficult patients could be. Well, not entirely. River was easily more difficult than every patient he’d had all day rolled into one, but… she was different. She was his sister.

Months ago Simon would never have considered it, but time was forcing him to acknowledge that he needed more than his life on Serenity. He needed a goal, a plan. Perhaps it would be better if he chose a small moon and settled there with River. He could have a career like this, as a country doctor. As difficult as patients could be sometimes, they were be grateful for him. He and Kaylee could get some property, maybe…

Kaylee. He cursed under his breath. He could never stop himself. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he pushed her away… she had gotten under his skin. All his dreams, they included Kaylee. But she would never leave Serenity….

Mal was always going on and on about how the Alliance was pushing out further every year. It probably wasn’t safe the settle. It was safest on the ship. Still, there was something inside him….

Two women walked into the tent Simon was using as his make-shift office. One was tall and dark-haired, fingers rough, but she smiled kindly. She was guiding a shorter girl inside by her shoulder. The girl was stout, blond, and clearly developmentally delayed. “Hi!” she said to Simon with a big smile.

“Well, hello there…”

“Brelin, her name is Brelin,” said her caretaker, “I’m Andrea. It’s nice to meet your ‘quaintence, Doctor…”

“Simon, just called me Simon,” he said, helping Andrea lead Brelin to the cot that was functioning as his exam table. Brelin began to struggle. Andrea flashed Simon and polite smile as she sat next to the girl, putting her arm around Brelin’s shoulders and running her fingers through her hair. At Andrea’s touch, Brelin calmed. For a moment, the sight washed over Simon like cold water. His thoughts went immediately to River and his heart started to constrict…

“I got to pet the kitty,” Brelin slurred cheerfully. This brought him out of his stupor. Suddenly, he felt so away from them, so separate. Simon flashed the girl a false smile.

“What seems to be the problem?” He asked.

“Brelin here has been feelin’ mighty weak… ‘fact she’s been faintin’ a lot as of now,” Andrea explained, sorrow in her eyes. “And… Listen, doctor, I don’t want to waste your time. The girl’s got a heart defect and I was wonderin’… well, I just wanted to know how long ‘til… how much time she got left.”

Simon let out a deep sigh. “Do you know what she has?”

“Co-acrch in the atrium… or…”

“Coarctation of the aorta?”

“Yes, that’s it,” Andrea confirmed.

Simon nodded. Her took out his stethoscope, warming it up with his breath much to Brelin’s amusement before putting it on the girl’s chest and asking her to take a need breath. He could hear it… the defect, the coarctation of the aorta. The girl’s aorta, the blood vessel through which blood left her heart and circulated through the rest of the body, was too narrow. It caused a wide variety of symptoms – muscle craps, headaches, nosebleeds, cold extremities, dizziness, fainting….

This was the part of Simon’s job that he’d forgotten he hated, telling patients and their family members when they were going to die.

~*~

Jayne saw Kaylee fall to her knees, weeping, out of the corner of his eye as he and Zoe moseyed into the building, straight through the front door, no less. The girl was something of a marshmallow, always letting things get to her and the like. Jayne’d been worried that she’d feel bad about deceiving people and the whole operation would be blown to bits. But, it hadn’t been. They were in.

Zoe quickly directed him towards as door labeled ‘staff only.’ The Zagorska girl had called them the catacombs. Servant’s tunnels, she said. Zoe and Jayne’d be able to take them to the kitchen, then to the basement and then out some exit that she said would only open from the inside, which is apparently why they’d had to walk in through the front door as opposed to not the front door. There was a lot to consider. Jayne watched as Zoe pulled a map out of her pocket. Jayne didn’t see why she only had to carry a map and he had to carry a gorram bag filled with all sorts of unmentionable. She cocked her head to the right and they began to walk.

For a while things went on like that, Zoe leading and Jayne following, all in silence. Jayne liked that about Zoe. She was on powerful woman, and damn… precise. She didn’t clutter jobs up by talking too much or doing the wrong thing. She kept things simple, did them right. If Mal was leaning… hell, they’d have probably been lost by then.

It was then that Zoe stopped dead in her tracks. “What is it?” Jayne asked immediately. Zoe met his eyes, pupils burning. It sent a chill down Jayne’s spine.

“Faulty map.” She handed it to Jayne. He stared at it for a few minutes, looking at the red line that indicated their path, trying to remember which turns they’d taken and where. Jayne remembered some of it. Right, right, left… Now, they were supposed to take another right. Jayne looked up. There was no right.

“Son of a bitch.”

~*~

Mal laughed politely at yet another sheep joke. Heather was leading him through the crowd on her arm, stopping to chat with one couple and then the next, and then the next. This is how it had been for the last half hour, how it would be for the next half hour. It was the meet-and-greet portion of the shindig. Honestly… Mal hadn’t had enjoyed any sort of overly large social event in… well, possibly never.

“Having fun?” Heather asked.

“Something like that,” Mal told her. He didn’t want to say that he was having fun. Walking around playing nice to people he didn’t have any great interest in knowing wasn’t fun, but thus far it had been pleasant. The people on Three Hills reminded him a lot of the people on Shadow. They were ranchers, though they herded sheep instead of cattle. They knew what it meant to love the land and work it nice. Mal could relate to them. “So, who’s next on the list?”

“Oh, you’ll like this guy. Leopold Wilkes,” Heather said, gesturing towards a beanpole of a man. Leopold Wilkes had to be at least six foot three and thin as… thin. “He’s pretty well known. He once drove a half-heard right through town square at three in the morning. And he was naked.”

“Naked?” Mal repeated.

Heather smirked. “Naked,” she confirmed.

“Now, that puzzles me,” Mal said, eying Beanpole again. “Why is it folk always feel the need to go ‘bout business naked?”

“I don’t know,” Heather said with scoff. “Why don’t you ask your Lady friend?”

Mal could feel himself cringe. There was a chill inside his chest. He looked at Inara, standing on the other side of the room. As usual, she… she stood out. She was beautiful, illuminated. For a moment, Mal imagined her…. He cleared his throat. “That she might,” Mal said. “But it ain’t no business of mine. Let’s be headin’ towards this naked fellow of yours.”

Heather smiled. “This way, captain.”

~*~

Wash hadn’t expected the market place to be so dusty. He should have known better. Most of the ports they landed in, most of the markets they shopped in were filled with dust. It was always there, swirling… But when Wash landed and saw the hills themselves – and there were definitely far more than three of them – covered in glass and flocks in the sunset, Wash had briefly imaged that the market would be more like that. He’d thought it would be green. But no, it was dusty just like all the others.

“Wool. Make from hair of from the Caprinae species, sub family Ovis, species name Ovis Aries. Smuggling off of the planet is called Owling,” River muttered to herself. She turned to wash. “Are we buying sweaters?”

“Not unless sweaters come in the color of compression coil cleaner,” Wash said, putting a hand on her back to guide her towards the mechanic’s shop. It was smallish, though Wash had certainly seen worse. “We’re going to stop inside here and get some supplies for Kaylee. Do you think you can come inside?” Wash asked her.

She looked at him, suddenly accusatory. “Blue isn’t a good color,” she said sharply. “Cuts like glass.” She stalked inside. For a moment Wash stood there, stunned, remembering the thousands of shining pieces spilled across the…. He sighed, following her in. The interior of the store was as simple as its exterior. In the back was a register and a clerk. The walls were lined with products, some smaller parts that boats needed to replace frequently. Mainly, the place sold softer supplies – cleaning fluid, engine oil, wires.

“Hey, hey, you don’t want to do that!” Wash exclaimed, jogging up to where River was bent over a canister of greenish looking liquid, he nose pressed against the bottle. He quickly grabbed her by the shoulders and guided her upwards. “You’ll be extinct faster than the dinosaurs if you keep doing stuff like that in a place like this. Got it, lil’ Rex?”

“Rex. River. Alliteration.” River sat down on the floor and hugged her hands to her knees. “She will be down, down, down where she can’t be found.” Wash patted River on the head. The girl said all sorts of bewildering things, but so far she hadn’t been too much trouble. Wash scanned the stock for the cleaner he needed. And, of course, it wasn’t there. Again. Wash was rather fond of the Firefly he sailed, but it was growing more obsolete by the minutes. Parts and supplies were harder to come by then they should have been. Wash quickly walked to the back of the store and asked the clerk to see if they had anything in the back. When Wash turned around to check on River, she was gone.

~*~

Christmas. Two nutcrackers guarding the snow castle on the North Pole… but it was painted yellow for Easter, and the nutcrackers had been painted grey. They didn’t look like bunnies. But she couldn’t concern herself with the holiday when there were two souls waiting beside the Lamb. And now River was a Spirit, and she needed to get inside. But she didn’t have until Sunday. No Pentecost. Too much fire. She needed not to be seen.

The rocks on the ground didn’t have eyes. Slowly, River bent down and picked one up in her hand. Small rock. Light, but it didn’t have the bones of a bird, not hallow inside… Everything was dense, all of her. She was aware of the incredible weight. She closed her eyes, feeling it in her hands, the smoothness of the stone on her fingers, whispering to her skin. Its voice wasn’t very much like a stone’s should be. It carried like a voice under water, games she and Simon played in the pool during summer time.

She took a moment to feel him, far away, tending to the sick, and the Shepard standing outside the tent blessing and infant in a red-haired woman’s arms… Kaylee speaking with the dark-skinned man, giggling when work was done… Wash, confused in the crowd… Mal Reynolds, looking at the only lady in the room, and the lady pretending she doesn’t notice…. Zoe and Jayne, lost in the tunnels, and the bunnies scurrying all around….

River opened her eyes.

The two at the door had an erect posture. Put your shoulders back, River. Keep you spine straight, River. But they had never had the dancing lessons. Only River truly knew how to dance. River and the stone knew… but they didn’t know, and so they would stand like a stone should. It was confused inside her head, who was still and who was not still. Men unmoving while stone sailed.

Rived danced. Everything moved all around her, stones and men and bunnies… nothing was still and longer. So she danced, danced right through the door. They couldn’t see. How could they? Now it was dark. Easter was over. Time for Black Friday, except that it was Monday afternoon. She took the steps in the right direction. She could hear lambs calling. But it was the wrong holiday.

Now the bunnies were back, grey bunnies in a black room. They chirped questions. Name. Rank. Mission. Who are you and what are you doing here? The questions were old and tired, so she put them to sleep.

~*~

Book handed the baby back to her mother. “Bless the lord,” she said, once again. “Thankie, Shepard.”

“It was my pleasure,” he assured her. The woman smiled, Josephine, holding baby Iris to her breast. She turned and walked away. Book smiled after her. Baptism was one of the more pleasant duties of a Shepard. He hadn’t had much practice with it lately. In the Black life seemed to be all blood-shed and burials. Book frowned. Unfortunately, that way of life was very familiar.

“Is that the last of them for today?”

Book turned around to find Simon stepping out of his make-shift exam room. “It’s the last for spell, anyway,” Book confirmed with a small nod. “It’s noon meal, a time to break bread. Family is very important to the folk in these settlements. I imagine we can expect another rush of them in the later after noon, but for now…”

“Now, we take a break,” Simon said, sighing. He crossed his arms over his chest. “What do you think of this place?” he asked.

Book looked out at the world. It was beautiful, large, green hills rising all around him, trying to kiss the cloud covered sky. “It’s quite a view,” he said.

“Yeah,” Simon said.

Book looked at him. His eyes were shadowed, lips curved in a slight frown. “What troubles you?” he asked.

Simon sighed. “I met a girl today, a patient. She… she reminded me of River.” He paused. “She’s going to die.” Book bowed his head and began to pray.

~*~

Immediately, Zoe’s gun was in her hand, raised, ready to take care of any threat that came its way. Jayne’s was the same, raised, ready to aim, ready to fight. They’d both heard it, the sound of echoing footsteps through the catacombs, but now there was silence, silence that stretched across seconds, then across minutes. Zoe kept her gun raised.

“Found you.”

The voice came out of nowhere. It echoed. Zoe franticly scanned for the source of the sound. “Up here.” Zoe led with her gun. She found herself staring up the barrel at River Tam, who had wedged herself between the walls and was hanging gracefully from the ceiling like a spider. “Coming down now. Don’t shot. Friendly color.”

“Now what in all the hells—”

“Jayne.” Zoe silenced him with a word as River climbed down from the ceiling. Her mind was racing with the same question. What was the girl doing there, and almost more importantly, how? “River?” she questioned.

“You were lost,” River said, picking up the faulty map from the ground where Zoe had let it fall. “Came to show you the way.”

“River honey,” Zoe said, putting her gun down. She put her hand on River’s cheek, positioning the girl’s face so that she could look her in the eyes. “River, this isn’t a game.” It wasn’t. Having River Tam so close to the Alliance… it was a risk, a complication. Mal wasn’t going to like it. It jeopardized the job. More importantly, Zoe thought as her heart rate began to accelerate, it could get River killed. “Do you understand, sweetie?”

“Game,” River repeated. Zoe watched as her eyes went vacant. Suddenly, she was back, face animated in excitement. She turned around and started running. “We’re playing follow the leader! Hurry!” she called back in a whispered shout as she went. Zoe took off after her immediate, Jayne running behind him, muttering swear words in Chinese under his breath. Zoe had similar sentiments. She… River stopped abruptly. She turned to Zoe and Jayne. “Understand the rules now?” she asked, walking forward. Zoe noticed for the first time that she had bare feet. “Down,” she whispered, taking her first step forward, “down, down, without a sound….”

Jayne shot Zoe a significant glance, a glance that conveyed his surprise and… well, mainly surprise. Jayne was never one for thinking too much at once. Zoe was. Her thoughts were jumping, each coming faster than the next. A reader. The girl was a reader, saw into the truth of things. She saw that they were in trouble, came to get them out of it. She could see into the building, see through the catacombs in a way Zoe couldn’t. She was useful. She’d come to help them.

Zoe let River lead, let her take them through the narrow tunnels. Her hand was on her gun when she saw the bodies of two alliance guards spread on the floor, but it fell back to herself when she saw River walk over them, unconcerned. Zoe followed. She stepped over the bodies in the floor without any hesitation. “Sleeping,” she heard River mutter as the girl led she and Jayne through the dark path. Sleeping. Dead. Zoe didn’t care to know which implication the girl’s word carried. There was a job to be done.

~*~

Inara folded her napkin in her lap the same way she’d been folding in since she was twelve years old listened politely to the conversation Mal and Kentdale were carrying on across the table. This was a peculiar gathering. Everyone was dressed in Inara’s clothes, but they spoke Mal’s language. Inara had attended more dinners and dances like this during her time sailing the black than she cared to admit to. At times, they made her missed a certain security she had when she lived on Sihnon, the security of knowing that no matter what situation she found herself in she would always know how to belong.

For a moment memories – the pain that coursed through her body, a soft hand resting on her cheek – jabbing into her like needles through her eyes, and the nostalgia was gone. “…there he was, standing buck-naked in front of the entire regiment…” Inara cocked her head with interest and flashed Mal an appropriate half-smile as he told his story. Inara could hardly hear it. She felt far away.

Silently, Inara reviewed her most current altercation with Mal. That man didn’t know what he wanted, he didn’t… Inara stopped herself from going down that path. It was one she had too often wandered down as of late in her journey through the woods, and she knew exactly where it would lead her. That path would lead her to no where. It never could. There were just some things that couldn’t happen, no matter how much she might want them to, some things that shouldn’t happen…

“… and then he stopped singing. Everyone just sat there, mouths open, couldn’t believe it…” Mal finished. The table erupted into laughter. Inara joined in. Their eyes met unintentionally. For a moment, the memories flashed through her, so different from her memories of Sihnon. Memories of Mal were warm memories, full of laughter, full of… She withdrew her gaze.

Suddenly, the floor was a flurry of activity. Servants came from the secret rooms where only they were welcome, each pushing a cart with a silver platter towards each of twenty tables scattered throughout the room. End of act one, Inara though as a silver platter was wheeled to their table. She caught Mal’s eyes again. This time, it was he who looked away. She didn’t know why. There was no reason he should be ashamed of this. It was his work. It was what he did. The platter was put onto the table. A white-gloved hand curled its fingers around the handle, preparing to lift the cover.

There was screams, gasps, shrieks of terror. Across the room she saw a woman faint. People were popping out of their seats, getting away from the tables. Inara sat in her chair, watching it all, watching Mal push his chair back and not stand up and Gilbert jumped and Heather backed away. The Mayor and the Senator both were on their feet, mouths agape. Inara could see their minds thinking already, making lists of suspects and motives….

In the center of the lamb, where their meal should have been, was a dead baby lamb, its small eyes still open, wrapped in a bloodied Alliance flag.

. . . .

Thanks for being patient between chapters. This was a difficult one to write. I hope you enjoyed it.

Coming up in ch 5, more about Aurelia Woo and Morris Kentdale...

COMMENTS

Thursday, March 2, 2006 2:36 AM

BOOKADDICT


Yuck! Dead lamb..but good place to end.

Great installment I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next?

Thursday, March 2, 2006 3:02 AM

AGENTROUKA


PS: That was me.

Thursday, March 2, 2006 6:51 AM

SYZG


great cliffhanger...dead lamb...

*shudder*

I like your Inara. Very subtlely done with a hint of tragedy behind her...*sigh*


Something about Woo made me shiver..bad bad bad.

Thursday, March 2, 2006 9:58 AM

TAYEATRA


I really don't like Heather. Please can you arrange for Inara to slap her...please? It would make my day!


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