Blue Sun Rising
The chatter in the ship’s mess rose to fever pitch as he stepped out into the corridor and Methos looked over his shoulder uneasily. It seemed he had become suspect number one.
“Relax,” Zoe said, shutting the door behind them. “They’re not going to throw you out the airlock…yet.”
“I noticed you didn’t say ‘we’”
“I’m still reserving judgement.” A hint of a smile hovered around her lips as she nodded in the direction of his bunk. “You first.”
“At least her gun is still holstered,” he thought, feeling her eyes boring into the back of his head as they made their way down the narrow corridor. His mind flitted back to the Captains words. Why were the crew of Serenity on the run from the Alliance?
He wasn’t completely stupid; he knew damned well what a Firefly class ship was used for this far from the core, but the Alliance usually regarded smugglers as a minor annoyance, not a deadly threat to be hunted down.
The arrived at his bunkroom and Methos opened the door without prompting. All things considered, he didn’t think he should antagonise his hosts even more. An Immortal couldn’t survive being spaced; that was a lesson he’d learnt the hard way on the Enright. He winced at the memory; it hadn’t been his fault, but Cam had blamed him nonetheless.
Zoe followed him into the room, and cast her eyes at his luggage. “I’ll need to go through that,” she said, her tone matter of fact. “And while you’re at it, take off your coat.”
Her lips fell into a flat line. “It’s a very good tailoring job, it must have cost you a fortune, but the outline shows when you duck your head.” she said, nodding at the low doorway. “So take it off...and don’t even think of trying something.”
Methos eyed her hand as it rested on the butt of her pistol. “Very well.” Slowly, he slipped out of his coat and draped it on the bed.
“Hands in the air, turn around and spread you legs.”
Resignedly, Methos did what he was told and Zoe frisked him, quickly finding the dagger at the small of his back and the derringer strapped to his ankle.
His other dagger, strapped to his thigh, she missed.
He heard a brief rustle behind his back, and knew instantly she’s found the split in the lining when he heard a short gasp. “Is this real?” she asked.
Methos glanced over his shoulder, his mouth quirking as he spotted the look of awe on her face as she tested it in her hand. “If you’re asking if it’s a sword, then the answer would be yes.”
Zoe threw him a dirty look. “That’s not what I meant, and you gorram know it,” she said. “It’s old, real old; I’m guessing it’s old enough to be from Earth.”
“It’s a family heirloom,” he lied. “May I put my hands down now? It’s getting a little uncomfortable.”
“Do you always carry heirlooms in your coat?” she said, examining the hilt as he slowly let his hands fall to his side.
“Let’s put it this way, would you pack it in your luggage travelling this far from the core worlds?”
“You got a point, I suppose,” she muttered, laying it carefully on the bed. “So, what do you pack in your luggage? Am I going to find a few more surprises?”
Methos thought of the sonic rifle he’d stashed, in case of emergencies. “In the long carry all,” he admitted, knowing she was going to find it anyway.
Wordlessly, she unzipped the canvas bag and pulled it out. “Nice,” she observed. “Jayne is going to love it.”
“What about the sword?” he asked, an edge creeping into his voice.
Zoe looked at him sharply. “You’ll get it back when we’re sure you won’t stick it into someone’s ribs,” she informed him coolly, before turning her attention to his luggage.
Methos winced as she threw his clothes onto the bed and searched the bottom of the luggage bags, immediately finding his journal. He eyed her as she flipped through the pages. “I don’t recognise the language,” she observed. “Or should I say languages.”
“I’m a linguist, I specialise in old Earth dialects,” Methos prevaricated.
She looked at him, as if trying to sniff out the lie. “You’re not telling me something,” she stated.
“So are you,” he countered.
The silence grew uncomfortably long, as she stared him down. “I don’t trust you,” she eventually said.
“I am not working for the Alliance,” Methos said, grimly. “I wasn’t even going to get on this rust bucket until I was left with no other option. Ask Kaylee if you don’t believe me.”
“Don’t worry, I will,” she said, dryly, as she gathered up his weapons. “As the Captain said, dinner is in an hour. I’ll come and collect you when it’s ready.” The door closed behind her, and he heard the snick of a lock. Great, just great, now he was a prisoner. Could this day get any worse?
“Damn it,” he muttered, under his breath. “Why did I have to think that?”
Zoe paused, and snuck a look down the corridor to make sure nobody was watching, before she gripped the sword with two hands and swung it in the air. “Take that, and that.” She grinned, laughing at her own childishness, but she couldn’t help herself. She’d never before seen a sword like this outside a museum, let alone held it in her hands. Mal was going to love it.
Shaking her head in amazement, she lowered the blade and made her way back to the mess. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t figure out what made their new passenger tick. Oh, he was polite, and surprising cooperative, considering the situation; but what kind of linguist carried that much weaponry? She knew that border planets weren’t the most peaceful of places, but there was such a thing as overkill. Hell, she didn’t carry that much weaponry around, and she had reason to.
No, he was holding something back; she just hadn’t figured out what, yet. Funnily enough, she found herself hoping it had nothing to do with the Alliance. She had a funny feeling he would be interesting to have around…
“Well?” Mal asked, looking up as she entered the mess. “Did you get anything?”
“If you mean the truth? Fat chance,” Zoe said. “But his luggage was…different.”
Zoe placed the sword in the middle of the kitchen table. “Guess what I found?”
“I know we’re in a bad way, Zoe, but I don’t think we need Excalibur yet,” Mal drawled.
“My God, is that real?” Simon exclaimed, his finger’s touching the hilt.
“As far as I can make out,” Zoe said, grabbing a chair.
“This must be worth a fortune!”
“Is it?” Jayne said, perking up. “Great! We can hock it after we throw him out the airlock.”
“Let’s not get carried away with ourselves, shall we?” Inara said, dryly. “We don’t know yet if he’s actually Alliance, I’d hate to think we’d killed an innocent man.”
“Pretty,” River declared, dropping her apple to grab the hilt. Zoe automatically leaned back as River held the blade aloft, a smile of delight on her face. She’d seen what River could do with a sharp edged weapon.
“River,” Mal said, warningly. “Best you put it down.”
River pouted. “I’m being careful.”
Simon gently put his hand on her arm. “River, do what the Captain says.”
River stuck her tongue out, but placed the sword on the table. “It’s old, like him.”
Simon laughed. “I don’t think our guest is that long in the tooth, River.”
River threw him a look, before silently taking another bite of her apple. Not for the first time, Zoe wondered what River wasn’t telling them. It was strange; she was usually keen to blurt out all the stray thoughts she caught. Why was she being so secretive all of a sudden?
“Ya know, this is all very interestin’, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the Alliance is still hot to catch us,” Jayne drawled. “And I say this Alex guy is the only one on board we can’t trust.” As one, the crew turned and stared at him. “Ha, ha, very funny,” he muttered, uncomfortably.
. “Zoe, what do you think?” Mal asked.
“Other than the fact he likes really shiny swords?” Zoe shrugged. “I can’t get a read on him, to tell the truth. The guy writes in dead languages and carries an antique sword around with him.”
“The operative was rather fond of swords too,” Mal pointed out.
“Cheap knock off,” River said softly. “Not the real deal”
“Thanks for your input, River…anything else, Zoe?”
Mal raised an eyebrow as Zoe threw the rest of the weaponry on the table. “Seems our boy likes his toys,”
“And I’m pretty sure I missed a few things,” Zoe said. “He looked a little too relieved when I finished searching him.”
“So let’s just say, for arguments sake, that he’s probably guilty of something,” Mal said, leaning back in his chair.
“We’re all guilty of something, Mal,” Inara pointed out. “There isn’t one of us in this room that hasn’t been at the wrong end of the law at some point and-”
“Trouble,” Zoe jumped as River slammed her hand on the table and leapt to her feet.
“River,” Simon said, impatiently, “There isn’t any trouble anymore, remember? We lost them.”
River’s eyes sharpened and, for a moment, Zoe caught a glimpse of the girl she must have been before the Alliance messed with her head. “I’m not six, Simon,” she bit out. “I do know how to tell the time.”
A bridge alarm went off, and Zoe scrambled from her chair when she recognised it. “Proximity alert,”
“Trouble,” River agreed, beating her to the door.
“Damn it,” Mal hissed as he brought up the rear. “Just one little break, that’s all I’m asking for.”
“River was already poring over the console by the time they caught up with her. “We’ve got company. One Alliance and one—” River fell into her seat, her hands frozen over the console.
“River, honey,” Mal said gently. “One what?”
“Reavers, we’ve got Reavers.”
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