Core of the Matter, Part 3
Monday, March 6, 2006


The stench of rank human sweat was only sweetened by the spilled alcohol in which they seemed to christen themselves. It was a rim moon way station, frequented by those who would only stay long enough to find another berth or to fuel their ship and go. A couple of long-term buskers had popped up, spaced here and there between ships. A few permanent buildings had cropped up, but most dwellings were prefabricated or converted cargo sheds.

One such cargo shed had been outfitted with tables and massive amounts of alcohol. Exactly the sort of place that saw the most traffic of human bodies through the fueling station.

“No! Not at all. I just wish I knew how to do things like you, taking things apart and being able to put them back together again. I tried to do a paper model once and it was a disaster. I think I got an infection from a paper cut.” Lien downed a small glass of clear liquid and placed it back in a line of others. The table was littered with them. Only half of them stood upright. A few rolled around the floor at their feet.

“But you gotta admit, sitting around all day and making decisions that can affect hundreds of jobs...” Kaylee looks up and points to a blank space, “Your report’s late. You’re fired!” She giggled and took a sip of her own drink.

Barely touched, Zoe’s drink was being nursed slowly. Her eyes kept drifting off to the corner of the room where the Jayne had convinced two girls to join them. One was attached to Jayne, the other trying to sidle up to the Captain. He seemed to be chatting her up amiably enough but the girl was reading much more into it than there actually was.

Zoe took another measured sip from her drink, giving the appearance of sociability without succumbing to the effects of the alcohol. “I don’t think the power of being able to starve hundreds or thousands of families is all that funny.”

“She’s right,” Lien sobered quickly enough. “I had to cut costs one time by shutting down an entire factory. It took over a year for some of those people to find a way to relocate. It wasn’t pretty, but it was all I could do to extend their severance for as long as I did.” She downed the last full glass on the table and ordered more with a wave of her hand. “…Almost lost my job on that one.”

Zoe nodded her head and gave the serving girl an extra glance to hurry her along. “Heard about that. Three years back? Was a big deal, some sort of programming error that had their severance pay continuing until every last one of those workers got off planet.”

Lien winked at her and leaned in to tell her in what was supposed to be a whisper, “There was no programming ‘accident’.”

Kaylee chimed in, “I remember that! Only the workers’ pay came through, not the managers’ pay… That was you!”

Lien laughed, tilting her chin up. “Guilty. It’s a good thing my family is as well connected as they are. I got shifted aside to some inane lunar rep. Not had a promotion or a pay raise since.”

There was a small disturbance over in the corner as Jayne and Mal ran into a small spot of trouble with their company. One of the girls had been sliding closer and closer to the Captain, practically in his lap, and had begun to nibble his neck. He stood up abruptly and walked off to the bar to refill his drink. Her friend, who had been entangled with Jayne took offense, stood facing him, said something and slapped the large man.

Zoe’s hand drifted slowly towards her holster, scanning the crowd to gauge their reaction. The bartender and one or two of the larger patrons seemed to take an interest. What clinched it was one of the girls walking up to said rhino and shrilly complaining to him.

Zoe stood and grabbed Kaylee’s shoulder, lifting her out of the chair. “Time to go.”

Lien looked up, eyes looking blurrily for the other crew members. “Did our tab run out?”

Getting the two other women out the door took everything but a boot to their rears, but at least they were out the door. The rhino was staring Mal down, pushing at his shoulder.

“What? Our Nessa ain’t good enough for ya?” He gave the Captain another shove. “Seems like those in’napendents don’t like anythin’ from the Core, eh?”

“Seems like you’re a frog in a well shaft seeing the sky,” Mal left his drink on the bar and squared off against him.

“Huh?” the man replied intelligently.

Mal shook his head and pointed towards the ceiling. “The sky.”

As the man looked up, Mal sucker-punched him, dropping him like a stone. “Bigger they are…” her quirked a grin at Zoe who had appeared as expected behind his accuser.

“…More friends they have,“ Jayne finished, jabbing a thumb towards the back of the room where more men had picked up a few odds and ends, looking for a brawl.

“Tactical withdrawl, sir?” Zoe looked around as the room had gone deathly still.

A shotgun blast had everyone ducking for cover, the bartender having pulled it from under the bar. As the three crewmembers slipped out, they could hear a second report from the gun, the man attempting to control the crowd with the help of his bouncers.

Reaching the relative safety of the open air, Mal glanced around, finding Kaylee waiting for them but not in the best of shape. She looked wide-eyed, roughed-up, but unbruised. “Where’d she go?”

Jayne searched the area, sizing up exits and possible routes back to the ship. “Cao! Think we just lost our fare, Mal.”


Monday, March 6, 2006 7:56 PM


You have really captured the characters here. I love the exchange between Mal, Jayne, and Zoe after Mal punches the guy. I can really imagine them saying those lines. I can't wait to read more!

Monday, March 6, 2006 8:08 PM


Nice work Kaele. Keep it up lol.

Monday, March 6, 2006 8:35 PM


I was a Guest... that is what happened.


I came by and said the above.


Tuesday, March 7, 2006 2:37 AM


of fer chrissake. That was me. oldfogey.

Thursday, March 9, 2006 9:58 AM


Punch 'em again Mal!

...I mean...

Good work! Keep it up.

Whew, got caught up in the story!

Thursday, March 9, 2006 12:15 PM


Wheeee! Our BDHs in trouble again?

Very fun and interesting. I can hardly wait for more.

The characterization is spot on!

Monday, March 13, 2006 11:54 AM


Good bar fight, excellent one liners! I can totally picture it.


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Core of the Matter, Part 4
This one's a short one. Been hitting a wall lately. It's all in my head, it's just stuck there. Wanted to get something out just to keep the flow. When it's all done, I promise a re-write and edit. PROMISE.

I ain't a professional writer. This is how I see it in my head. Welcome to my world. Sure you wanna stay?

Core of the Matter, Part 3

Core of the Matter, Part 2

Core of the Matter, Part 1
All this is borrowed from a genius whose name rhymes with Just Weedin'. I hope one day to be like him, except for the chubby, male and bald part. He rocks. Like a boat. If by some chance he wants to take this, it's all his and the honor entirely mine.

Edited: 3/9/06
Beta: Curtis

Core of the Matter - Intro
Odd passengers set Mal's hackles up. The money was just too good. (Post-OiS Pre-BDM)

All this is borrowed from a genius whose name rhymes with Just Weedin'. I hope one day to be like him, except for the chubby, male and bald part. He rocks. Like a boat. If by some chance he wants to take this, it's all his and the honor entirely mine.

Dedicated to FollowMal who wanted something to read. Since she's got all the shiny Cap'n pics, I couldn't refuse.

This is my very first virginal attempt at fanfic, so please submit all comments to Or just e-mail me at my address listed under my profile.

Edited: 3/9/06
Beta: Curtis (THANK YOU!)