Fandoms: Stargate SG-1/Firefly
Characters: Vala Mal Doran, SG-1 team, the crew of the Serenity,
mainly, Jayne Cobb, and Mal Reynolds with cameos by the others.
Prompt: #17 brown
Disclaimer: SG-1 and all related characters belongs to MGM, Gekko Film Corporation; they are not mine. Firefly is the creation of Joss Whedon; again not mine, they are only ‘borrowed’ for the purposes of the story and will be returned after I am done with them.
“Boomtown or Bust” by Karen
The Mule cut through the cloud like an over-sized bulky knife cutting through cloth. The thrum of its engine a constant if muffled background in its passengers’ ears. Jayne Cobb groaned and muttered with each buck, roll, and thud and as he was just about to let the pilot know in no uncertain times his opinion on the matter.
However, the next jounce caused him to lose his balance, and the strap on his harness snapped, and fell over backward off the rear end of the vehicle.
“Everyone okay, back there?” Kaylee asked over her shoulder without turning around.
Jayne had just time enough for one last muttered oath and suddenly and the next thing he knew he was grasping for dear life at the jutting upright metal strut at the back of the small personnel craft for dear life.
Oh, he was not afraid, it was not like they were being chased by an Alliance or other type of authority, despite the several warrants out for their arrest, and they were not being shot at; so there was that. Jayne felt more than a little pride in keeping his cool in the middle of a firefight, but this was different was it not?
River had turned around in her seat, her eyes wide and liquid in pixie-like face as she stretched out her hand to him, in an attempt to haul him back aboard the craft. If he hadn’t known any better, he would found the entire situation knee-slapping hilarious. Tiny, slender all of ninety pound girl trying his haul ass up when he outweighed all of them by a good fifteen pounds or more.
In the back of his mind Jayne thought, “Damm gorram luck. Mal is never going to let me live this one down.’
Fifteen minutes later, Mal Reynolds, with a wry only partially apologetic smile creasing the lines of his face, brought the Mule to a landing on the pad several clicks outside of the town and unstrapped himself from his own seat.
Hopping over to where Jayne dangled, leant over at the waist and grabbing his other wrist, helped River pull back onboard.
In the back of his mind Mal thought, “What the hell, the big lug is useful to have around in a fight, and I’ve gotten accustomed to his ‘charming personality, anyway, what difference does it make?”
“About bleeding time,” Jayne groaned as he reached out to accept the hands outstretched to him.
As soon as they let go and Jayne sprawled breathing heavily for a few seconds, feeling quite boneless and a little bit conspicuous in that position with the remainder of the crew busy unloading the supplies and preparing to leave the ship and go out into the nearby town.
Jayne stood up and with a wry grin, he muttered to Mal, ‘Thanks, I think.”
River, for her part, nodded and wandered off to help Kaylee with packing the last of the supplies.
“That the last of it?” Mal asked.
“Yes, sir,” replied Kaylee with a cheerful grin curving the corners of her mouth, the bright colors of her head scarf catching the mid-morning rays of the sun slanting down from overhead.
“Okay, then, let’s go.”
Their destination was a planet in the Sagittarius sector designated on their star charts as PSX-0058, a planet with promising reserves of a vital element in the processing of the Naquada according to the preliminary reports of the probe that they had been sent through about a week ago.
Another mark in its favor which General Landry had also been quite eager to point out during the pre-mission briefing was that it was far enough away from most of the major space traffic to likely not attract the attention of the System Lord or more importantly, the Ori.
Daniel Jackson had his own ideas of what to expect, and after emerging on the other side of the gate and walking into town, he was a little bit taken by surprise. Mostly because the town seemed so out of place.
It looked more like a way-station or the stage set out of an old western movie. Not that he was any judge of such things; after all his area of expertise fell into the category of ancient civilizations and language; old Earth folklore he did not.
Daniel realized with a start that he was staring and with Vala’s sharp elbow poking him in his flank, he started walking again.
Standing still in the middle of the street he realized that he was in danger of getting run down by a man on horseback barreling down from the opposite direction.
Daniel moved aside at the last minute ignoring the darting glare the man on horseback favored him with as he swept past.
Cameron Mitchell and Teal’C where discussing in hushed undertones the best way to approach the locals on the subject of mining rights or where to begin searching for the promised minerals.
While they were doing that Vala was looking around, her long dark braid swinging behind her and an inquisitive gleam in her eye, which, to Daniel’s way of thinking never boded good for anyone caught up in her wake.
If Vala heard Cameron’s whispered caution to stay with the group she chose to ignore it.
The locals seemed only mildly curious about the newcomers as they went about their business. Vala tossed back her head and choosing one of the many drinking establishments apparently at random, walked towards it and swept through the door, leaving it swinging behind her disappearing form.
Cameron sighed and shrugged as if to say, “What else can we do? We go after her.”
The bar was crowded and noisy, and smoky, but apparently doing a thriving business. Daniel finally spotted Vala making her way through the crowd to a table in rear of the building. They caught up with her and sat down at the table she had chosen. Nearby another group came in.
Daniel, curiously looking up caught the gaze of a girl with a pixie-like face and the biggest most liquid brown eyes he had ever seen.
The man she was with had his hand clasped around her elbow, and Daniel thought, ‘He looks like he believes she was made of glass and cobwebs, as if he’s afraid that if he lets her go, even for an instant, that she’ll shatter into a million pieces. What is he so afraid of?’
Mal chose a table near the back of the bar, allowing the others to order for him as he glanced around without being too obvious about doing so, wondering where in the hell their contact had gotten to.
Despite a little engine trouble starting out, which Kaylee had dealt with in her usual style and skill, and rescuing Jayne from his tumble off of the Mule, they had still made good time arriving her. Badger should have been waiting for them, and if he was running late, should have sent a message at least.
Okay, so they were technically flirting on the fringes of being on the wrong side of the law, but still common courtesy dictated some kind of message.
A man showed up his hair standing up in tufts like a field of brown grass, his long duster coat draped around his lanky frame as he shuffled into the bar and made his way to the table where Mal Reynolds and the others waited for him. “Sorry, I’m late,” he said to the group in general as he took the empty seat at the table.
“Badger, we had a deal,” Mal replied.
“I realize that,’ the man called Badger replied,” and really, Mal, how long have we known each other. You know I never back out of a deal. I’m here now, aren’t I?”
Jayne glanced over at the smaller man and made a show of cracking his knuckles before adding. “Yeah, wanna make something of it!” Jayne rumbled.
“Down boy,” Badger smiled a tight wry grin.
“Look, I did as you asked. I got the permits for the iron ore, easy as you please, and the authorities need never know that you had anything to do with it.”
Badger smiled and this example looked very smug and pleased with his own cleverness, unlike the previous example which had appeared forced and a little uncomfortable with not only Jayne’s implied threat but also his proximity. The big man had a reputation for a short fuse and mean fighting style.
Vala, after placing their orders for a round of drinks, got up from her table and sauntered over to where the others were engaged in discussion on low grade versus high grade iron ore. And with her fists on her hips she smiled and said. “Howdy, boys and girls, pardon for me interrupting, but I couldn’t help but overhear, and I was wondering if you could help me out of a little bit of a jam?”
Mal looked up and caught her eye. “Yes, what can we do for you?”
“Well, as luck would have it, we seem to have similar interests. You’re looking for something special am I right? My friends and I,” she pivoted on one heel and paused to gesture with her thumb at the rest of the SG-1 team seated at the opposite table. “are also looking for something special, except we don’t even know where to begin looking for it.”
“Why are you looking for it?” asked Jayne suspiciously and in the back of his mind Jayne thought, “Okay, I admit it, I am a sucker for a pretty face, but I haven’t survived this long to be fooled into thinking that this dame might not be an Alliance spy; or she could be on the level. There’s always that.’
“Cam, Daniel,’ Teal’C , Vala said, “Come over here, I’ve got someone you guys should talk to. I think they can help us.”
“I know a dodge when I see one,” Mal added.
“I’m not avoiding the question,” replied Vala, “I’m just making certain that we get it right the first time.”
“You’re assuming an awful lot,” Badger said with an nervous tic beginning at the corner of his right eye.
“Of course,” Vala smiled pretending not to notice the twitchy man’s nervous tic.
“Again, why are you looking for the ore?” Mal asked curious despite his initial doubts and his own cautious and oftentimes paranoid nature. Thus far neither side in this negotiation had made any over threatening moves, but it only took a little to tip the balance over into a fight.
“I think introductions are in order. The name’s Cameron Mitchell, these are my friends, “Doctor Daniel Jackson, Teal’C, and you’ve already met Vala Mal Doran.”
Cameron paused and then thought over his next words before adding. “I understand that you’re also interested in the ore. I think we can work out a mutually beneficial deal where we both get what we want, what do you say?”
“I’m willing to hear you out,” Mal replied with a brief nod, and the name’s Malcolm Reynolds, this is Jayne Cobb, Kaylee Frye, and the Tams, River and Simon.”
“Okay, with that out of the way,” Daniel added and then trailed off uncertain of how to proceed.
“Look, our sources indicate that there should be more than enough to go around. Our problem is we don’t know where to begin looking for it. Maybe if you could help locate or even point us in the right direction, we could split the take.” Cameron sighed and reached up to comb his fingers through his short crew-cut ash blond hair.
Mal liked the idea but he was uncertain whether or not to trust this stranger, after all the clothes they wearing said more than a little that they were representatives of some kind of military outfit, one that he did not immediately recognize, but his gut instincts were screaming at him, that this was an opportunity to good to pass up.
“For the sake of argument,” Mal replied. “Let’s say we agree to help you, what’s in it for us?”
“Now we come to it,” Daniel muttered under his breath.
“Shut up, Daniel,” Vala whispered back.
“We come along, we get a take of whatever we find, no questions asked.”
“Agreed,” Cameron replied and stretching out his hand across the span of the tabletop closed the deal.
The dig site was far enough away that it was unlikely that the locals would come all the way out here to dispute their digging up the ground. Vala actually did not mind the fact that Captain Reynolds had insisted on getting a piece of the action, in fact, she admired that trait, for the promised cut of the profits.
Her own teammates were not as interested in making the big score, too busy as they were to play by the rules but there was always room for a little fun. Goodness knew she could use some after everything that they had been through.
“The bigger the risk the bigger the payoff.“ That had always been her motto and it was a good one.
She was quite conscious of the big man, Jayne Cobb, admiring glances on her but Vala did not really mind. In fact, she might have been offended if they had not been.
The amusement value that came from having the proper accessories to go with the standard issue green and olive field flak jackets had begun to wear a bit thin. Vala would not let a little thing like the bad fashion sense of her Tauri allies deter her for long. It was vanity, yes, but a little ego-stroking was all to the good, right?’
Once actual full-scale digging had begun one thing stood out in Mal’s mind, all of the supplies that Cameron Mitchell’s crew had brought with them bore the stamp of power that had not been seen in any part of the ‘verse’ for hundreds of years.
In fact, if Wash had been there he would have immediately recognize the horizontal blue and red stripes and stars as originating on the Earth-that-was. Mal had a good mind to press Mitchell and his team on the matter, but shoved it aside as more pressing matters demanded his immediate attention.
Mitchell and the big fellow introduced as Teal’c both stepped forward with some kind of hand-held gizmo that whirred and clicked and whose readouts lit up with a pastel green glow.
“Let’s get to it. Jayne prep the explosives,” Mal said.
“Consider it done, boss,” replied Jayne.
Jayne had the padded headsets already unpacked and on when lit the fuse on the explosives warning everyone to step back . The heat from the blast was intense, hotter even that of the sun.
The others once they had access to the rare element put on gloves and armed with shovels, ropes, and metal canisters formed into two teams, and to be fair, Mal had to agree that if they were going to share in the profits, it made sense to share in the labor of getting the stuff out; equally divided among the members of both crews.
River and her brother had been teamed with Cameron Mtichell and to Mal’s way of thinking he hoped for both their sakes that River did go all dreamy and strange on them in mid-task.
Many hours later, and at could half a dozen metal canisters filled to the brim with the ore, Mitchell called a rest break. Gratefully sinking down on the crowd Mal took off his brown coat and wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his white shirt sleeve.
He accepted with a nod of thanks to Kaylee the offered flask of water and tilting it back Mal swallowed it down. “I just hope all of this was worth it.”
Vala stepped up beside him. “Try and be more positive.”
“You know what you’re problem is?” Jayne remarked as he plunked down a heavy canister.
“No, but I suspect that you are going to tell me,” Mal replied.
“You’re just sore from doing manual labor, that what it will be, right enough,” the big man replied.
“Indeed,” Teal’C rumbled from where he stood with Doctor Jackson who was tabulating the weight, quality and properties of the ore and figuring out the percentage of take each team would receive once they were finished up here.
Simon Tam, curious despite his initial reservations about the undertaking from the get go ambled over and peered over their shoulders at the numbers scrolling across the screen of the device. He frowned but aside from that seemed to agree with what he saw.
River had been quiet up until now and Mal had hoped that it was a good sign, that whatever the Alliance doctors had done to her she was beginning to recover, or at least lessen her occasional outbursts.
She rocked back and forth, alarming but not dangerous. River eyes glazed over and she grasped onto Mitchell’s arm. “When troubles come, they do not come like single spies, but in battalions; be ready.”
Shaking off River’s grip and the unease he felt at her words, Cameron Mitchell turned to her brother, and asked “What the hell is going on here?” he demanded.
Simon Tam for his part just shook his head and replied. “She is usually much more lucid than that. My guess is as good as yours, but I’d say we’re in for some trouble.”
The first sign that all was not well were the tearing of shrubbery and the crinkling of dry grass underfoot.
The locals were armed with old-fashioned flint-lock pistols and a few sported more modern laser pistols. Mitchell turned to his teammates, and said. “Maybe we can reason with them, barring that, defend yourselves if attacked, but try not to hurt them.”
Jayne darted a glance at the tall, slender man and shrugged. “Don’t sit right me, the way I figure, they attack us, we fight back, none of this pussy-footing around.”
“You got a better idea, now would be an ideal time,” replied Cameron with a shrug of his own.
The apparent leader of the group was a big man with salt and pepper hair and a matching mustache. He was a big, heavy-set, with dark heavy-lidded blue eyes. He probably had been strong in his youth but it appeared that much of his bulk had run to fat, still it would be a mistake to underestimate any of them.
“The ways I see it, we can’t have folks from outside come ‘around these parts, a digging’ up our land.”” he said by way of introduction.
“We have permits,” Kaylee chimed in. “If you want proof that we have every right to be here.”
The leader stumped forward and reaching out a free hand he waited for Kaylee to produce the papers. “I’m a fair man, girlie, let me these papers, then.”
Kaylee stepped back a pace but then with a grin grabbed the back lying at her feet and rummaging through it for a second finally came up with the documents and showed them to the big man.
He took them from here and glanced at them. “It all seems to be in order.”
Vala added “I fail to see the problem here, we were acting on the understanding that if we managed to obtain proper documentation, then we could dig anywhere we wanted to, within reason.”
“Is she always this annoying,” Jayne asked Daniel Jackson who stood beside him in their ragged two rows deep line.
“Actually, this is relatively mild example,” Daniel replied with a sigh. “But she does have a point.”
“I was hoping for something more along the lines of you violating our land and mining rights” the big man sighed as he handed back the documentation to Kaylee. “However, I’m a fair man. How much have you already collected?”
“Enough,” Mal replied and Cameron stepped forward to emphasis that they had not been all those hours of labor to walk away empty-handed.
“Okay, the big man replied. “You can take what you got already, just don’t come back here no more. I ain’t entirely sure what the stuff does, but it’s valuable right enough.”
“Agreed.” Mal and Cameron said at the same time, sharing a significant glance with each other.
A potential fight had been averted, and in the back of his mind Cameron felt thought that he should be grateful that they had Mal and his team along, getting to the element was hard enough, but they needed that rare element if they were going to have enough Naqauad on hand to be able to fight off the Ori. He did not care to think why Mal and his crew needed it; but at this point Cameron figured it did not really matter.
Jayne plunked down on the crates stacked in the hold and thumbed back the plastic cap from a nondescript brown bottle.
He sighed and rocked back and forth before lifting a brown bottle to his lips and downed a healthy swallow of the liquid inside. It was just like Mal to allow a big score to slip right through their fingers at the very instant they would have closed on the payoff. Okay, so it really was not entirely Mal’s fault.
The locals were restless and how were they to know beforehand that it had some kind of religious or historical value going into the deal? Badger should have warned them, but it had been just like him to omit that vital piece of information.
Meanwhile, back at the SGC Vala finished drying out her long hair, fresh out of the chair convinced that she had scrubbed out the worst of the dirt and grit and sand from her hair and skin, thinking that it had not been a bad idea to team up with Captain Reynolds and his crew.
In fact, if it had not been for their help they would never have come away with a good metric weight of quality iron ore: mission accomplished,” she thought as she hung up the towel and moved to pick up her clothes.
Vala sat down on her bed and pulled on her undergarments, and then her shirt and slacks.
And really now that big one, what was his name, Jayne? Well, not everything we do has to be about extracting the best possible military, diplomatic or strategic value from it.’