Blue Sun Rising
Methos mentally ran through his options as the Bridge fell into silence. He was trapped on a smuggler’s ship running from Reavers and, apparently, piloted by a reader with a warped sense of humour and a tenuous hold on reality. The only thing he had, in the shape of a weapon, was one measly dagger and the locals looked more ready to throw him out of an airlock than hand him back his sword.
It didn’t look good
“I don’t suppose you were lying earlier when you said the ship didn’t have weapons?” he asked quietly.
The Captain glanced at him sharply. “No,” he said flatly. “That kinda thing brings too much attention.”
“Right,coz we never bring attention to ourselves—” Jayne began.
The Captain quelled him with look before turning to Zoe. “How are we for ammunition?” he asked quietly.
“Better than usual, but I’m not sure if it will be enough to fend them off if they board.”
Methos wasn’t sure if he was hearing them correctly. Were they actually considering trying to fight them? “They’ll tear us apart,” he said aloud.
“You gota better suggestion?” the Captain asked dryly. “Coz I ain’t too pleased by the prospect either.”
Methos made a face. “I suppose not,” he admitted.
“Right then, now that we’ve got that settled, let’s see what we’re up against,” the Captain muttered, turning to River. “How long have we got?”
“They’re gaining on us,” River said softly. “Twenty minutes, twenty five,tops.”
The Captain nodded. “You heard her; we’ve twenty minutes before we’ve got Reavers crawling all over us. Jayne, I want the forward docking ring sealed up, no need to give them more than one point of entry. Use the blowtorch; I want it locked up tight.
“We could seal up the cargo bay too,” Jayne suggested.
The Captain shook his head. “If we do that, they’ll just make their own entrance. This way we’ll have some say on where they board. Zoe, I want a kill zone set up in the cargo bay, move all the goods up against the hull and make sure we’ve got some cover on thewalkways. Not likely they’ll have guns, but who knows what new toys they picked up along with their shiny new ship.”
“I’ll go with you,” piped up Simon, scrambling to his feet.
“The more hands the better,” the Captain agreed. “But once the fighting starts I want you in the infirmary. The last thing we need is our Doc out of commission. I’ve a funny feeling we’re gonna need you when this is over.”
Simon made a face. “I love your optimism.”
“That was me being optimistic,” the Captain drawled. “You don’t want to hear what my pessimistic side’s saying.”
Methos felt he could hazard a guess. He had never witnessed a Reaver attack,but he had seen the aftermath; it wasn’t pretty. “I could make myself useful,” he suggested, warily noting the questioning glance the Captain threw at River, who shrugged and nodded. “Fine,” he said, “You can help Zoe and Simon in the cargo bay.
Methos looked at River as he followed Zoe and Simon out of the bridge. He wasn’t sure how he felt about the reader’s presence. He had heard the stories, how nothing was safe in your mind when a reader was present, but he didn’t know for sure how much was myth and how much was fiction. He ferverently hoped there wasn’t much truth to the tale.
River smiled and caught his eye. There can only be one, she mouthed.
Startled, Methos tripped over the lip of the airlock door and stumbled into Zoe’s back. “Sorry,” he uttered, summoning a smile as he righted himself. “Forgot it was there.”
Zoe looked at him suspiciously, opening her mouth before hesitating. “Are you okay?” she eventually asked. “You’ve gone a bit pale.”
“Delayed reaction,” he lied. “I’ve never seen a Reaver up close and I’m not looking forward to the experience.”
Zoe nodded, her eyes darkening. “Yeah, I know how you feel,” she said quietly as she descended the steps.
Puzzled,Methos followed her as she silently stalked down the corridor. “Did I miss something?” he asked Simon under his breath.
“Her husband was killed by Reavers a few months back,” he muttered. “She hasn’t smiled much since. Wash was the only guy who could really make her laugh.”
Methos frowned; try as he might, he couldn’t pin this crew down. They were smugglers, of that he was sure, but smugglers didn’t behave like this. They didn’t go around rescuing Alliance warships and they sure as hell didn’t do battle with Reavers. Who were these people?
“I wouldn’t bother trying to figure them out,” Simon said, as if reading his thoughts. Methos threw him a wary look; his sister was a reader, maybe it was genetic. Simon laughed abruptly. “You should see your expression,” he said, shaking his head. “Listen, it’s like this; this crew has been together a while, they’ve got their secrets and they don’t share easily. That takes time.”
Methos raised an eyebrow. “And what about you and River?” he asked.
“That’s another story,” Simon said, sighing. “We joined Serenity’s crew about a year ago. It’s been…an experience.”
Methos’s eyes took in the expensive cut of his clothes. Combined with his cultured accent, it made him yet another anomaly on the ship. He decided to let the matter go, there were more important matters at hand…like surviving the next few hours.
Zoe was already moving the pulley into place when they entered the bay. “Doc, move some of that onto the walkway,” she said flatly, pointing at a small pile of sheet metal leaning against the hull. “Secure it to rails as best as you can.”
Methos ambled to Zoe’s side, helping her to attach the pulley to a pallet as Simon hauled the sheeting up the steps. “I don’t suppose I could have my weapons back?” he asked lowly. “I get the distinct feeling that fending of a gang of marauding Reavers with my bare hands wouldn’t be very effective.”
Zoe raised an eyebrow. “I’ll think about it,” she said, as she grabbed the pulley’s controls and moved the pallet against the wall. “Although, I don’t think the sonic rifle will do anything except annoy them.”
“The sword, then?”
“You’re very attached to that, aren’t you,” she observed dryly as she swiftly removed the pulley from the pallet and moved to the next piece of obstructing cargo.
“I’m old fashioned, that way,” Methos said, not seeing any point in denying it. Thankfully, carrying a sword had become popular again on many of the colony planets. A pretension rather than a real need, but he wasn’t about to complain. If the rising aristocracy were foolish enough to resort to duels in order to settle their differences, it was no skin off his nose.
“Hmmm,” Zoe said, noncommittally, as the second pallet rose into the air. “I’ll think about—”
A loud thump echoed through the bay, and Zoe’s eyes shot towards the airlock doors. “Seems they’re early,” she said, as she unholstered her pistol and threw it at him. “You’ll have to make do with this.”
Methos automatically checked the chamber. “I’ll need ammunition.”
“It’s up above,” Zoe threw over her shoulder as she took the steps two at a time. Methos swore and followed on her heels, grabbing the box of ammunition she lopped at him as he gained the walkway.
“How bad is this going to be?” he asked, as she loaded a rifle.
Zoe threw him a long look. “Let’s just say you won’t be sleeping easy for a while.” she said, before turning to Simon. “Best be gone, Doc.”
“Good luck,” Simon said, with feeling, as he retreated back into the ship.
A resounding crash heralded the Reavers entry into the airlock and Methos took a deep breath as the inner doors slowly creaked open,grasping hands suddenly appearing through the crack.
“Don’t bother,” Zoe said quietly as he aimed the pistol. “Minor wounds won’t slow them down. Go for the head or the heart, anything else is just a waste of bullets.” Methos nodded, turning his head as he heard the clatter of footsteps in the corridor.
“They through yet?” the Captain asked as he appeared through the doorway, Jayne at his shoulder.
“Any moment now,” Zoe said grimly.
Her words proved prophetic as the doors suddenly gave way, and a snarling tangle of bodies fell through the doorway. Methos felt his throat go dry. He hadn’t seen such horrific mutilations since his Horsemen days, and Caspian’s little projects weren’t usually up and running about after he’d finished with them. The sharp bark of Zoe’s rifle brought him to his senses and he quickly aimed as they swarmed across the bay, felling one with a shot to the head.
“Good shot,” Jayne muttered under his breath as he brought his rifle to bear. “Betcha I could do better.
“I didn’t realise it was a competition,” Methos said sharply, dropping another Reaver as it gained the steps.
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist. It was a compliment…sort of.”
Methos took a double take as Jayne smirked. Was it his imagination or was that a joke? Chui niu, and I thought Kronos’s sense of humour was bad…and what the heck am I doing? Keep your eye on the ball, old man.
The next few minutes were a blur, and Methos lost count of how many times he’d reloaded as the Reavers kept coming, ignoring the growing heap of bodies on the cargo bay floor. “We’re running out of ammunition,” he heard Zoe say, and a quick glance at the bullets he’d left confirmed this as a fact.
“We’re going to have to fall back,” the Captain muttered, and Methos felt his heart sink as he heard the defeat in his voice.
The pad of bare feet resounded on the walkway, and Methos resisted the urge to wipe his eyes as he turned and stared at the scene unfolding before him.
Her hair flying wildly behind her, she blurred along the narrow walkway, his sword held firmly aloft in her grasp as she leaped into the empty air over the cargo bay. The jump should have been impossible, but when her feet rested lightly on the pallet swinging from the pulley, it seemed the most natural thing in the world.
“What the hell are you doing, girl,” he shouted before he could stop himself. “Come back here right now.”
“Oh, the old man is angry,” River said impishly, as her toes curled around the edges of the pallet. “Don’t worry; I’ll bring it right back.”
Methos watched in disbelief as she dropped onto the cargo bay floor, and the Reaver’s fell on her. “Aren’t you going to do something?” he asked, rounding on her crewmates, who stood grimly silent. “That crazy girl has some kind of death wish.”
“Watch,” Zoe said softly, jerking her head at the cargo bay floor.
Methos turned, his hands gripping the rail, as he realised what he was seeing. He watched in horrified fascination as the girl danced through the swarm of Reavers, the sword never missing its mark. She wasn’t smiling anymore; the blankness on her face was chilling. It was like something out of a dream, or a nightmare; the blood was everywhere, tainting the floor, the walls…he hadn’t seen this kind of carnage in centuries.
The silence came suddenly, and Methos blinked as he noticed that the only person left standing below was River. She had killed them all, simple as that. Slowly, she picked her way through the bodies and climbed up the steps, and Methos straightened as she came to halt before him, the sword now limp in her hands. “They’re quiet now,” she said as she handed him the blade.
He turned the sword in his hand as he looked down at her bloodied trail of footprints. It seemed that there was a new game in town, and he didn’t know the rules.
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