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River Twine Holt Forums • View topic - Writer's Challenge #3: River Twine AU

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:04 am 
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Location: Independence, Oregon
Write a scene featuring your character in an alternate reality.

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Last edited by Whit on Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:26 am 
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Location: Independence, Oregon
(I don't think this is especially effective, but I still couldn't resist. And heck, three crossovers for the price of one!)

UNIFACATION DAY

The mining camp’s jail was a small, dark room with two free-standing iron cells built against the back wall. Several crates and trunks were stacked against the north side of the wall; apparently the jail also did double-duty as a warehouse for the mercantile operation next door. The odor that drifted in through the cabin’s iron-barred windows was thick with the scent of pig manure.

“Some things just never go easy,” Captain Mal Reynolds muttered to himself, before working at a loosened tooth with his tongue. The taste in his mouth was a salty mix of blood and raw whisky fumes, and he knew without needin’ a mirror that some dirtsider’s left hook had set his right eye swelling up all ripe and fruity.

“No sir,” answered Zoey from the cell across the way, nursing bruises a-plenty of her own. “And strangely enough, that seems particularly true come Unification Day.”

“I shoulda just let you two duke it out and enjoyed me the show,” Jayne said mournfully, his face certainly no prettier after the afternoon’s excitement. “Would of, too, if that gorram little fop with the chamber pot for a hat hadn’t been tossed into my lap. Snotty-nosed’ little pi-yan spilled my booze. And it was good booze, too.”

“Just dry you eyes there,” Mal retorted. “As soon as Wash and Kaylee show up to pay our bail, we’re makin’ for the wide and welcoming black just as soon as our tanks have finished fillin’. Ain’t nothing on this chou ma niao piece of rock worth cryin’ over,”

“You would all do well to be a little more civil,” called a voice from the front of the room. Deadwood’s sheriff was parked at his desk next to the front door, doing paperwork by lantern light in his dark corner of the cabin. He had a rough whisper of a voice, the kind of voice that was made of smoke and whisky, and the lawman spoke quiet, as if he had the confidence that the rest of the world around him would just shut up and listen. “Just so happens it’s my home you’re calling names. And that man with the foul hat is the camp’s mayor.”

Zoey made a small sound of dismay. “Jayne put the camp’s mayor through that saloon’s front window? Captain, forgive me if I doubt we’ll be making port at Lilac on schedule.”

Mal’s own stomach had turned itself into knots at the sheriff’s words; they had delivered high-mass goods here at Deadwood’s dusty little port, and had hardly cleared enough on the deal to cover what it cost Serenity to fill up her water tanks and top off the ship’s fuel cells. They had the promise of a good, solid job waiting for them on Lilac, but only if they got there within two days. Lilac was already three days outbound from Deadwood; they’d already have to make a hard burn to get there in time. Fisticuffs with the mining camp’s’s mayor threatened more law than just a few hours in the drunk tank waiting for the rest of the crew to show up with creds enough to cover the bail. “You think that little man will take offense?” Mal said, shifting his seat on the bunk to get a clearer view of the lawman. “Little fellow like that should have known well enough to get clear of a barroom brawl.”

Deadwood’s lawman gave his inmates an amused glance. He was a slender fellow, all wiry muscle and grizzled dark hair that looked like it needed a trim a month ago. There was a scar on his chin, barely visible though the shadow of a beard. “Mayor Farnum, you mean? Yes. He’s offended. But he’s not the man you should be worrying about, Captain Reynolds. That was the Gem you and your crew choose to pick a brawl in. You’re lucky I arrived when I did to arrest you. If I’d been any later, Mr. Wu’s pigs would be belching you up come morning.”

Zoey’s expression remained stoic, but Mal restrained a twitch at those words. He remembered the hard eyes of the mustached man who’d broken up the brawl; he remembered those eyes far clearer than the dark barrel of the shotgun the man had pointed at Reynold’s chest. Hard eyes, and colder than the deep Black. “If that’s the case, lawman, then you’ve got my thanks on the matter. But you know it was those miner boys who threw the first punch. So why keep us locked up in here? Why don’t you just let us out and we’ll be on our way, all quiet and nice-like. Me and mine got ourselves a job waiting for us, and it’d be a shame to be late.”

The sheriff gave him another look, an amused glance of pale eyes and a flash of sharp white teeth. “Consider this a mercy. I’m not waiting for your coin for bail; I’m waiting for guns of my own to back me when I escort you down to dockside. Because when I let you out of here, Swearingen’s men will be waiting.”

“We’ll take our chances on that. Better men have tried.”

The lawman nodded, then picked up a file on his desk. He stood up and flipped through the hard print pages of the file, casually leaning one hip against the edge of the desk. When his pale eyes looked up again from the contents of the file, there was a wolfish gleam to his stare. “Interesting. A bulletin came through the Cortex just this morning. Unidentified Firefly class, suspected to be carrying a pair of fugitives. Looks like someone back in the Core wants those two pretty bad. Quite the hefty reward offered.”

Jayne swore something fierce under his breath. Mal simply traded a glance with his firstmate; Zoey’s expression was as blank as glass, but the cold look in her eyes was little different from the hard man back in the saloon – it promised murder, if that proved necessary.

“Well sir, that’s mighty interesting,” Mal drawled, at his most studied innocent. “How much is the reward? My engineer wants a new gravboot, so we’d jump at the chance to claim that reward, should we see the ship you’re looking for.”

“You mean to say you don’t have undocumented passengers aboard your ship?” the lawman said, his smile as innocent as Mal’s own. “That’s a pleasure. Then it wouldn’t do any harm for me to come aboard for a look around.”

The jailhouse’s single door open, flooding the cabin with sunlight. A balding, ruddy man and a woman in greasy leather pants and a feathered hat stepped in, each carrying a shotgun and wearing deputy badges. Mal tried not to wince to see them, hoping Simon would quick enough to wrangle his crazy sister into one of Serenity’s smuggling holes when the lawman and his two deputies came aboard. The sheriff closed his file and dropped it on the desk, then walked toward the two cells with his keys in hand.

“We’re free to go then?” Jayne said, unfolding to his feet from the corner he’d wedged himself in. “You gonna give us our guns as well?”

The sheriff paused outside of Zoey’s cell, and eyed her as he unlocked her door. “Browncoats,” he said, more a statement than a question.

“Yes sir,” Zoey replied, her voice cold and edged.

Those pale grey eyes moved from her toward Mal as the sheriff’s key rattled the next lock. “We’ve met before, you know,” the sheriff said, the hint of humor to his rasp of a voice. Back on Hera. Figured it was you, when I saw the name of the ship incoming.”

Mal felt rather than saw Zoey’s curious glance. He stepped out of the cell door which the sheriff held open for him, then stood for a moment to look the man in the eye. The face was older, but of a sudden he recognized those pale eyes. “Sergeant Farscout, isn’t it? Seth Farscout, of the 17th Greenleaf Brigade. You scouted for us for twenty days, then didn’t come back from behind Alliance lines.”

“Took two bullets to the leg and one to the chest. When they finished patching me up, they shipped me out to a re-education camp on Nivens Station. Hope you don’t hold it against me for missing the worst of it.”

“Course not. Just meant more rations for us,” Mal replied.

He got the ghost of a smile at that, and then the lawman turned away, nodding to his deputies. “Let’s go then,” he said to them. “Jane, give them back their weapons. Charlie, is the way clear?”

“That limey cocksucker is standing up there on his balcony, but I passed your message on to Dorrity at the bar. Seeing as how I got out of there without a load of shotgun to my ass, I think your offering to settle their bar bill was accepted. Swearingen’ll want to ask you some questions about it tho’,” the balding man said, giving Mal and his two crewmen a look that said eloquently that he, too, wanted to know more.

“Then let’s go,” the sheriff said, gesturing for Mal and his crew to proceed toward the door. “With any luck, Captain Reynolds, you’ll make that job of yours on time.”

Mal delayed a step, giving the lawman the look that good-wish deserved. The lawman owed them nothing, but looked to be giving Serenity’s crew a break just the same, and at some cost, too.

Farscout returned his look, eye to eye, and again smiled that ghosty hint of a smile. “It’s Unification Day,” the lawman said. “You can celebrate in your way, Reynolds, and I’ll celebrate it in mine. Come on. Let’s see if we can’t get you back aboard your ship without providing dessert for Mr. Wu’s hungry pigs.”

_________________
Whitney **send to me at farscout@rivertwine.com**


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 10:30 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:05 am
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:36 pm 
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Location: Uppsala (occasionally also Örnsköldsvik), Sweden
Why oh why am I so late in finding this? These are brilliant! Are we still "allowed" to write AU-stories in this thread? (I'm guessing so since it's open, but I thought I'd make sure before I go berserk XD)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:08 pm
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Location: Boston, MA
I think the notion is that it's fine to post in this thread. :) AU stories are just something we wouldn't post to the website.


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