“You do know we’re going to have to bail Faith out of jail in the morning, right?” Dawn asked.
Mal chuckled. “That’s convenient, cause no doubt that’s where we’ll be picking up Jayne.”
Inara giggled as they walked up the ramp, despite her attempts to stifle it as she leaned on Mal’s arm.
Kaylee and Simon followed, both of them with dopey grins on their faces, still quite ecstatic about reaching the next step in their relationship.
Willow followed the group, humming a song she wasn’t quite sure of the words for.
The group stopped as they saw Xander and River, dressed in medical scrubs, paging through notebooks.
Mal opened his mouth to say something when River screamed out, “Yes, yes! That’s the spot!” making him jump.
“Oh yeah! Keep doing it just like that,” Xander moaned out.
“What in the nine hells are you doing?!” Mal exclaimed.
“Rehearsal,” the pair chorused.
“OK,” Mal said slowly, “well, you have fun with that.”
Julie came on board carrying a duffle bag that she dropped in order to catch the notebook River tossed her.
River moaned like she was having an orgasm and Xander made a growling sound.
“Move a little more to the left,” Julie read cheerfully. “I need to turn on the aft relays.”
“Like this?” Xander growled lustfully.
“Perfect,” Julie and River chorused in completely different tones of voice.
Deciding they’d rather not know, the group left the three in the cargo bay… rehearsing.
Simon and Kaylee paused at the door to her quarters.
“So, here we are,” Simon said nervously, not wanting to presume anything, but wanting to spend the night with her.
Kaylee began to get nervous, wondering if Simon had just gone along with things earlier because Willow was there.
Willow rolled her eyes and pushed the two into Kaylee’s quarters. “See you two in the morning.”
“Thank you!” Simon called out as the door closed and Kaylee pulled him onto her bed.
Inara drug Mal down the hall.
“Sure this ain’t the drink?” Mal asked.
“We can wait till morning when I’m completely sober where I’ll throw you on the table in the dining room and mount you for all to see or we can go to your bunk now,” Inara said pleasantly.
“My bunk,” Mal said instantly.
“Good call,” she purred.
Dawn and Willow continued on to their new quarters.
“I could use a nice, hot bath right now,” Dawn said wistfully.
“Xander’s growling?” Willow asked with a smirk.
“Something like that,” Dawn admitted, blushing.
“I know how it is,” Willow said, with a far off look in her eye.
“Doubt it,” Dawn replied. “I’ve had fantasies about him since before I technically existed.”
“My first wet dream was about him, when I was twelve,” Willow challenged.
“And since I’m older, I’ve obviously had more fantasies about him than you have,” Willow said smugly.
“Oh, really?” Dawn asked doubtfully, as they entered Willow’s quarters to continue the conversation, “I once had a fantasy in the middle of gym class…”
“OK, have we got all our supplies onboard?” Mal asked over the ship’s com system from the dining room.
“Yes, including a large amount of contraband that the local officers insisted I take,” Simon reported from the medbay, where he was making sure Xander and River hadn’t made a mess of his supplies, despite their reassurances that they’d only used his stethoscope, reflex hammer, and some scrubs.
“Remind me to go through that before our next stop.”
“Will do, Captain.”
“Everything is shiny in the engine room, Captain. Willow and me got her purring like a kitten.”
Mal took a sip of coffee and looked over at Inara and Dawn, who were discussing something about the origin of the current linguistic system.
“Co-Pilot locked and loaded, but the pilot and… pilot stress relief officer act like we aren’t launching for hours,” Julie announced.
Mal and Dawn looked at each other and groaned. “We gotta bail Faith/Jayne out of jail.”
“I’ll join you,” Julie offered from the bridge. “I have a way with law enforcement.”
“I’m Mal, captain of the Serenity. I’m here for two of my crew,” Mal said politely, hoping he was going to be dealing with a reasonable constable and not one of the usual idiots he seemed doomed to run across.
“Well Captain,” Sergeant Jansen sneered at the word captain, “we don’t take kindly to law breakers around here, especially foreign law breakers.”
“We haven’t said who it is yet and in a settlement this big I’m pretty sure you have more than just two people from out of town in jail,” Dawn pointed out, annoyed.
“And maybe we got some empty cells that need fillin’,” the sergeant began only to freeze as Julie shoved her gun in his nose.
“Good morning, Sergeant Jansen,” Julie said pleasantly. “You have two prisoners who you are to produce promptly or I’m going to pull the trigger.”
Jansen hit the intercom button. “I need the two members of the Serenity ready to be released immediately.”
“Julie,” Dawn asked carefully. “What are you doing?”
“Expediting matters,” Julie said cheerfully.
“How is getting us locked up, for threatening local the local law, speeding things up?” Mal asked, keeping an eye out for witnesses.
The door behind the sergeant opened and Faith came out, yawning and scratching herself, along with another officer who seemed completely unconcerned with Jansen’s situation.
“Is it morning already?” Faith asked.
Julie waved cheerfully with her free hand.
“Is anyone concerned that this woman has a gun in my nose?” Jansen asked tersely.
“Not really,” the other officer said. “With the way you like to treat ‘outsiders’. I’m surprised she didn’t shoot you in the leg first to get your attention. Besides, look at her outfit. Core agents have complete legal authority to do pretty much anything they please.”
“Can I see your badge, please?” Jansen asked carefully.
“I’m sorry, your security rating is insufficient to access that information,” Julie replied. Truthfully, her current undercover status meant all records of her were classified, Indigo level and above. “That’s why I stuck my gun in your nose. I’m authorized to shoot you, but not to show you documents beyond your security rating.”
“Do you have to shoot me?” Jansen asked anxiously.
“I don’t have to,” Julie replied after a few moments of thought. “But your records clearly show a marked belligerence towards anyone not from the local area, so shooting you would really speed up our departure, as the officer who replaces you is much more likely to put duty above any distaste for people born elsewhere.”
“I could forgo my personal distaste this once, saving you the time needed to replace me,” he quickly offered.
“You’d do that for me?” Julie asked hopefully.
“Yes, Mam,” Jansen offered promptly, causing her to withdraw the gun.
“We have Faith, but where’s Jayne?” Mal asked, deciding to just go with the flow this time.
“Big, rough looking man?” the officer who’d brought in Faith, whose badge read Officer Thompson, asked.
“Sounds like him,” Mal agreed.
“He was arrested for advertising for prostitution by passing out business cards, but he pointed out that according to the law it was only illegal to advertise for women’s services and he was advertising his own. He talked Sergeant Sagat, who was going off duty, into hiring his services,” Thompson explained.
“I’d been working on getting her to go out with me for weeks too,” Jansen groaned.
“He had a great line,” Thompson said. “I am a man-ho, that means you get to skip the bad date and go straight to the wham-bam until you say ‘Thank you, man’ and I won’t be hanging around making puppy dog eyes at you when all you wanted was a one night stand.”
“And that worked?” Mal asked in shock.
“Perfectly; he even said she got to choose what to pay him after they were done, based on how good a job he did.”
Mal’s com buzzed and he answered it, while Faith explain how she’d ended up in jail, this time, “I was last one standing after the brawl, but my shirt got torn all to hell, so they nailed me for public indecency.”
“Jayne’s back at the ship,” Mal announced. “Let’s pay Faith’s fine and get to steppin’.”
“No fine,” Thompson said waving it off. “Standard procedure is the same as public drunkenness, stick them in the cell till morning or someone comes for em.”
“Well it was nice meeting you all,” Julie said cheerfully. “But we really have to go if we want to make our flight window.”
“Bye,” the two officers chorused, one much more cheerfully than the other.
“I can’t believe you got away with saying they weren’t cleared to see your ID,” Dawn snickered as they headed back to ship.
“Bureaucracy,” Julie shrugged. “It seems to have a negative effect on people’s IQs.”
“How’d you get Jansen’s records?” Mal asked.
“I’m an expert hacker,” Julie said proudly. “So while I was out hunting down records for an abandoned shipyard, I hacked into the local government database to see if anyone would give us any trouble when we bailed Jayne or Mal out of jail.”
“I don’t get arrested all that often,” Mal complained.
“Shipyard?” Dawn asked curiously.
“During a border skirmish about eighty years ago, Core forces used the first Q series bomb on Otlan Five,” Julie began.
“They glassed it?” Mal interrupted.
“No they hadn’t perfected the Q series yet. The Q series bomb was designed to be a neutron bomb, killing people but leaving all the buildings intact.”
“How’d it go from that to glassing a planet?”
“Well this being their first test they discovered it worked almost exactly as they wanted. It killed all the people and left the buildings untouched, but it also left everything as hot as a reactor. So the design was altered to insure it didn’t leave unacceptable amounts of radiation behind, so the worlds could be reclaimed later.”
“How’s melting everything an improvement?”
“Because it doesn’t kill anything beneath the surface, like the first one did. Any planet with a halfway decent seasonal variation will cause cracks in the glass that plants will grow in making more cracks, so in fifty years you have a planet devoid of animal life, but teeming with plants and fish, ready for occupation.”
“The only worlds the Core glassed in the last war were the ones closest to it. Do you mean to tell me the war wasn’t about succession but was just a huge land grab scam?” Mal asked in shock.
Julie shrugged. “It was probably nine-tenth succession and one-tenth planning for future Core expansion, but we’re getting off topic. Otlan Five was hit with the very first Q series bomb, leaving it untouched but radioactive, eighty years ago. Since then the border shifted away from that sector of space and all that’s remembered is that the planet was hit with a Q bomb. In other words, glassed.”
“So, what’s on Otlan Five and what do we do about the radiation?” Dawn asked, seeing where Julie was heading.
“The fragmented report I read said it would be at least eighty years before the radiation died down to safe levels,” Julie said with a grin. “And as for what’s there… it was the headquarters and main manufacturing yard for the Hotaru con-glom.”
“Hotaru con-glom?” Mal asked.
“Hotaru…” Dawn said thoughtfully. “Isn’t that Japanese for firefly?”
“Firefly?” Mal asked intently
“Their flagship product,” Julie smirked. “We’ll need to be well stocked on food and fuel, cause it’s really off the beaten path, but it should have all the parts you’ll ever need to keep Serenity flying.”
Mal’s mouth opened and closed but no sounds came out.
“So, have I made myself an indispensable member of the crew yet?”