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Boatjack: Part Two of Three

by G Thing

Author's Note: Read Part I first gorramit.

Boatjack Part II

On the first morning after Serenity departed Beaumonde, Zoe and Wash found themselves alone at the mess hall. Neither had slept very well. Zoe was eating silently. Wash looked at her and said, "It's only 48 more hours,"

"Nothing stopping them from turning us into the feds after they're off. Carrying fugitives ain't exactly something people are tight-lipped about."

"Maybe I can sway the professor with my chat about flying gees."

Zoe only tried to look amused. Wash recognized this and said, "Okay, that was a bad joke. Look, if something bad happens, Inara can put a word in for us. We can trust her." Wash scooted his chair nearer to hers and held her hand.

"A word in for us," Zoe said. "We are talking about only one companion's word."

"Her word is better than some other people's"

"We'll have to answer for an ever-growing list of crimes."

Book entered the mess hall at his usual time. "Good morning," he said.

"Good morning, Shepard," said Wash.

"Is this a bad time for me to be here?"

Wash hesitated to answer, but Zoe said, "It's fine."

Book looked at Zoe quite firmly and asked, "What are your problems with our guests?"

Zoe shook her head and answered, "I just don't trust these people."

"I find myself wondering if there is something important we don't know," said Book.

Zoe had an apparent light bulb moment "Yeah, I ... I don't know why the professor absolutely had to use our ship." She gave a brief snicker. "Preacher, you have a way with words."

Wash was confused and said, "This sounds like my dinosaur chatter. Am I missing something?"

Book knew what she was thinking. As friendly as Professor Drake had been to them, her story was still hard to believe. "The moon was ruled unsafe for landing, right?" asked Book.

Zoe said, "Yeah, you know - people getting snatched ain't something the Feds care much about. I've never found out why this planet is so off-limits."

"Did anybody find out?" Wash asked.

"I sure didn't," said Book.

Zoe looked serious and said, "Something down there scared them."

Simon was sitting and reading one of his books by himself in Serenity's infirmary. This activity helped make him feel at home. The rest of the ship was alien to him. Simon knew his place when he had access to the instruments of his profession. Then, Shepard Book came in.

"I need to see your almanac," Book said. "You look bored."

"Frustrated, I'm trying to help River, but she won't always cooperate. I think she's scared of doctors," Simon responded. "What do you need from my almanac?"

They were talking about Simon's electronic almanac that followed Alliance planetary classifications. Users could download updates about current events. Simon had learned to avoid reading the almanac when Mal was present. It was the Alliance's work, and Mal had insisted it rarely told the whole story.

Meanwhile, Mal and Wash were on the bridge. Wash had provided Mal with an update on their position and scheduled landing. Afterward, Wash asked, "Rubiks, didn't he used to do some dealings in these parts?"

Mal was all too aware of Rubiks' fate. "Stay focused," said Mal. "Don't you start saying doubtful things around me. Your wife could speak for everyone."

Jendra again found herself in her passenger dorm with River at the door. "They're opening a book," River said alarmingly.

"All right, we've got something on Trivonia," said Simon. "The entry has been updated within the last year and a half."

"Excellent!" said Book.

Through their communicators, Jendra said, "Dawson, Lang, we shift to Plan Beta now."

Jayne had a comfortable seat near the passenger dorms. After meeting Theresa Brett, he welcomed the privilege of keeping watch on the guards. The guests stayed in three rooms. The three male guards were in one room taking turns for who would sleep in the bed. Jendra and Theresa each had their own.

At that moment, Theresa opened her door. "Jayne, was that your name?" she said to him.

"Yes ma'am it is," said Jayne as he was walking toward her room.

"Are there any spare towels in here? The one I was using got dirty, and I need to take a shower."

"Yeah," Jayne said. He walked in past Theresa and pointed up near the ceiling. "They're in that cupboard up there."

Theresa snuck behind him and put a towel soiled with chloroform over his mouth. After Jayne fell to the floor, Theresa walked to the men's dorm and knocked on the door. Dawson opened it, and Theresa whispered to him, "Go now."

"Wo de tien ah!" said Simon. "There was a plague. Our Professor Drake was the only survivor from the plague."

"That explains why she needed our ship to go back."

"and why we've heard only this fei hua about Trivonia."

"I am in the engine room," Dawson said quietly through his communicator so only Jendra and company could hear him.

Jendra replied, "Good, let's do this as quietly as we can."

Simon read further, "A scout ship examined the planet and they found some bodies." Simon clicked the picture icon. They stood close together and viewed the pictures in silence for roughly ten seconds.

"Their flesh had been eaten," said Book. "Fang-tzang fong-kwong duh zie."

"We know what did this," said Simon. Both men were too appalled to see the gas coming through the ventilators in the infirmary.

Wash already was unconscious. Mal had managed to reach the emergency shelter just outside the bridge doors. He put on a gas mask and saw the cylinder marked O2 FLOOD underneath him. He pulled the lever that was fastened to its valve. It was important for Mal to breathe normally, and get into one of the space suits inside the shelter. Mal wanted to be prepared for whatever environmental condition was outside, and the space suit would help make that possible. Then Mal remembered he had to turn on the large fume hood above him for this to work. The contaminated air had to be aerated out of the shelter, and the fume hood gave it a place to go. In seconds, Mal was able to take off the mask and breathe normally again. After he had closed the valve, Mal thought about what he should do next.

After some thought, Mal reached the bridge in a space suit carrying four gas masks, which was the most he could carry in one trip. He knew, no matter what, he had to vent the air out of Serenity and activate the auxiliary life support - if it was not also contaminated.

As Mal was preparing the main ventilator, he could hear a woman's voice on the intercom saying, "Put your hands up Captain Reynolds."

He turned around and he saw what looked like Jendra and Theresa under gas masks. Indeed, they were armed. With his hands up, Mal said, "Armed guards being shown around the ship. That makes things mighty convenient."

"Stay on course Captain," said Jendra. "I trust there will be no deviation. Running away makes Reavers want to chase you."

Mal was surprised and confused about what she was saying. Then, Theresa came behind him, unlocked his helmet, and removed it.

"Breathe Captain," Jendra said.

Mal had to ask, "Reavers?" before he lost consciousness.

As Mal was waking up, he could hear another voice saying, "Where is River?" The next thing Mal noticed was being handcuffed and tied to a chair. He then glanced to his left and saw that Inara was in the same predicament. Afterward, he looked around some more. He saw the same had happened to Zoe, Wash, Jayne, Kaylee, Simon, and Book. Mal knew that Simon was asking the question.

Theresa said to Simon, "Look above and behind you." Simon did that, and he could see her. River was silent and attentive to the proceedings.

"What the guai did that to us?" asked Wash.

"That was the good-night kiss," said Inara. Her shipmates then looked at her and appeared to wonder how she knew that. Inara responded by quickly saying, "It could have been the good-night kiss. Mal, did that feel like the good-night kiss?" She was obviously rather embarrassed. No one other than Mal knew why.

"Wouldn't you like to know," Mal joked unhappily.

Simon added, "The compound occasionally is manufactured in a gaseous state."

Zoe asked, "How did it end up in our atmo?"

Kaylee looked coldly at Dawson standing in a corner. "Dawson did it," she said as though he betrayed her. "He must have fed it through the main engine. He knew how the main life support system would pump the gas into the atmo."

Jendra Drake walked to her captors. "Now that everyone is awake we may begin," she said as if she were teaching a class. The look of her Asian eyes prompted everyone to expect a lecture. "There are many things about this mission I haven't told you. First off, I was not undercover. I had two other colleagues with me and the colonists were aware of our presence. Both of my colleagues were killed three years ago along with most of the colonists at the town we were in."

"It was Reavers," said Book.

"Some squadrons landed right in the middle of town square. We were defenseless, and they were armed. They had other squadrons patrolling the outskirts making escape nearly impossible. I saw many horrors I don't wish to describe." Jendra sighed as she was thinking of unpleasant memories. "I was raped at least four times. There may have been more, because I was tortured and unconscious here and there. I kept asking them questions such as `Why are you doing this?' That may have kept me alive. The Reavers believed I would analyze the reasons behind their horrors, and I would never find acceptable answers other than pride and hunger. I was one of about twenty survivors. The rest of them began killing each other. Five of the survivors were children - boys between seven and twelve years of age. They began killing too despite everything I did to help them reach some sort of peace. The children saw what the adults were doing, and they began killing to protect themselves. The two youngest couldn't compete with the older ones and were wiped out within a day."

Mal interrupted Jendra. He said, "You're a gorram psychotic. You want to take my boat there so they can get on board and kill us!"

"He's got a pretty good point, Jendra," said Inara. It was obvious Inara felt deeply betrayed.

As if she were teaching freshmen, Jendra said, "Any more disruptions, we will gag you. I will give each of you opportunities to ask questions."

Everyone followed suit. Typically, Mal and Jayne were the most reluctant.

Jendra said, "I didn't want us to be in this position that we are in right now. My plan was for you to drop us off at Trivonia and leave without ever knowing about these horrors."

Mal, Zoe, and Jayne clearly did not believe her. They looked in other directions believing Jendra wanted to steal the ship and leave the crew to die.

"I've come all this way, because I believe it is possible to return the Reavers to society. Before I can do that, I need to figure out what makes them so vicious to everyone they meet. They act as though they've been brainwashed.

"Reavers ain't people. They may have been once, but they ain't no more," said Mal taking the risk of being gagged.

Jendra replied, "Very well, Captain. I'll hear you out," to everyone's surprise.

Mal said, "They've been away from society so long they lost their humanity."

With the intent of getting everyone thinking, Book asked, "So why are they always working in packs?"

Book's words irritated Mal, but most of the other people were interested. "Shepard, please enlighten us," said Jendra.

"They seem to develop their own society. They stick together and plan like they are part of a terrorist organization."

"That is conceivable," Jendra said.

"They may also worship some devil-like deity," said Book. "They perform rituals with how they arrange the people they've killed.

It is possible the Reavers could be saved by the way of their own beliefs."

Mal believed he had never heard such rubbish. "That gorram Alliance fed both of you with all this fei-oo making you think Reavers are no different than anyone else."

"Captain Reynolds, it seems to me you keep coming up with more reasons to hate the Alliance. Whenever Inara has told me things about you, your hatred of the Alliance always comes up. Why?" asked Jendra.

"I don't invent reasons to hate them. They are responsible for the injustices my people face."

"Perhaps I should rephrase my question," said Jendra. "Why do you blame them for all these horrors?"

"Before the war the Alliance wanted to conquer and rule the outer planets."

"Where and when did the Alliance leaders say they were going to do this?"

"They couldn't stand the idea of governments, commerce, and industries running independently of them."

"If I remember correctly, their goal was to establish a strong central government. They also wanted to start programs to develop the outer planets moving their primitive commerce and industry up to a level comparable to that of the central planets."

"They figured we would work for them for less money than workers in the central planets."

"They never said you had to work for them."

"The Alliance was going to take our jobs away from us. They wanted to modernize all our systems and make machines do all our jobs."

"That did not justify mass murder," said Jendra in a serious voice that gradually became louder as she went along. "You started killing their people like terrorists. They weren't coming to kill you. Why the guai did you think you were doing any good by killing them. The Alliance had no choice but to bomb and invade your colonies. Everyone knew the Independents had to be stopped. Now, I ask you. Is that any way to have justice? It certainly didn't work in your favor."

"It was better than lettin' em walk all over us."

"I agree with you that the Alliance is self-centered and ignorant toward the outer planets. That might not be the case, however, if a peaceful solution had been found. Shooting at people doesn't make them trust you or care about how you are suffering. You gave up every reason why they should."

Mal was thinking of something else to say. Jendra recognized this and continued. "When it comes to the Alliance walking all over you remember unjust laws are meant to be broken. This is not some totalitarian regime with a ruler like Ivan the Terrible or Saddam Hussein. You had other ways to fight for your independence - ways that would have earned all of you some respect. You only had to read about Mahatma Gandhi to know that."

Jayne asked, "Who are these people?"

Book whispered to Jayne, "I'll tell you about them some time."

Mal, meanwhile, could see the futility of this debate. He decided to let her continue with her Reaver story. "Okay, forgive me for insulting the Alliance during Professor Drake's lecture. Please continue telling us about your whoon dahn mission that involves stealing my boat and leading us to our deaths."

"Certainly, Captain. I was fortunate to be rescued and brought home. Unfortunately, I lost my faculty position at the university, because I refused to shut up about the Reavers until someone would do something about it. Nobody believed me. Obviously, you people know what I am talking about. The faculty didn't. They thought all of this mass murder go se was crazy talk, and they thought I was delusional. I received an early retirement with a healthy psycho pension to shut me up. As a result, I have no one back home at Xenon, because they all believe I'm dangerous. I am doing this, because it really is all I have left to teach people. At the very least, I want to bring the Reavers to the Alliance's attention. There were recordings my team made on Trivonia that would bring credibility to my story."

As Professor Drake was saying all of this, Jayne found himself near Theresa Brett. Now that few people were paying much attention to him, he said to her, "You know, I won't hold this against ya'. After all, it was your boss who got us into this shiong mao niao. You're a mighty fine woman."

Theresa replied, "Nee boo gan kai nee hwang chian. I ain't switchin' sides, Jayne. That's a sort of loyalty I don't think a liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze like yourself could understand. From what Inara told us about you, your captain only wants you here to do the dirty work you do so well. He is convinced you're gonna stab him in the back, and he ain't gonna hesitate to toss you off his boat."

Jayne began speaking with his intelligent voice again. "There's no need for rudeness."

Theresa said, "I haven't seen any sign of heroism from you. Everything you have done around me is very selfish. You wouldn't take any risks for anyone else, would you?"

"Saving my own skin is important," said Jayne.

At that moment, Mitchell came and announced, "We're almost there, Serenity is about to enter Bluedock's atmosphere in two minutes."

"You're kidding," Wash said. "That means we've been out for more than a day."

Jendra turned to the crew she was holding captive and said to them, "Congratulations, you've done the job. You will be paid. I like to keep my promises."

Author's Notes: Just so no one accuses me of plagiarism, the emergency shelter sequence was borrowed from the novelized version of 2001: A Space Odyssey in Chapter 28. Having a fume hood inside, however, was my idea, but I do not know if it would work in today's technology. It is in this story, because I felt I needed a moment for Mal to realize the guests have taken over the ship before he loses consciousness. I conceived this as the ending of Part I, but I changed my mind when I began writing River's big scene with Jendra.

Rubiks is an ill-fated boss mentioned briefly in "Serenity".

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to G Thing

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