Author's notes: N/A
Legacy 1:06, Wounding Whispers
Legacy 1:06, Wounding Whispers
Jacob flipped off the last switch and the craft settled down onto its extended legs, a giant cloud of dust wafting out in all directions. He didn't rightly know why anybody'd want to come to Whitefall, especially after the Reavers came through and tore the whole gorram place down. Course, having a tough woman like Patience in charge probably had a great deal to do with the reestablishment of the moon's population.
Leave it to Patience to be tough enough to survive the Reavers.
He turned off the engine and sauntered into the bunk that Anne had taken residence in. He slid down the ladder and gave her a smile.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Like I got a bullet in the head," she answered with a grin. "Real dizzy."
"Looks like we'll be saying goodbye to our passengers," he said softly, seating himself on the edge of the bed. "Noreen'll be settin' down roots in no time flat, 'specialy with Patience for fertilizer."
"Did you just call her gos-se?" she said. He leaned over. Yup, Friday still had her on the drugs. And he didn't blame her one bit. Not every day somebody took a bullet to the brainpan and walked away from it. "Yes," Jacob said. "Just don't you tell her I said it." She grinned, eyes sliding closed. They didn't open again, and her breathing evened out. Asleep. He leaned over and kissed her brow. Stay safe, he thought. Stay flying.
He quietly hauled himself up the ladder, pulling the hatch closed. He turned up the hall, and beheld Sylvia carrying more weaponry than any woman had rights to.
"Are we invading?" Jacob asked. She really did look rather ridiculous. Were those grenades?
"I've got a bad feeling, boss," she said simply.
"We are here to pick up another job, one that takes us away from Whitefall, dong ma? Don't need to try intimidating people, and Patience ain't one for intimidatin'."
"You ever met her?" Sylvia said. She still hadn't conceded that she didn't need her artillery.
"Not personally, but I've heard some tales."
"How's Anne," Syl asked.
"Sylvia," he officially ran out of patience. "Put everything explosive back into your bunk. Then, once you've done that, put half the rest. Once you've done that," he said.
"Half it again?" Sylvia asked. She shook her head and lowered herself out of view. Zane peeked his head around the corner.
"So we've gone from buying a Mule to invading?" he said to the descending Sylvia. She let out a dry laugh. "Seriously though, I'm sick and tired of hauling all that crap from the ship to the buyer by hand. Might be strapped like a body-builder if I keep it up, but it takes so gorram long."
Jacob shook his head. "For the last time, we're getting a gorram Mule. Stop begging."
"If you're feelin' in a giving mood," Friday's voice came up from her bunk. "How about some more pop? Might do Anne a bit of good."
"Is everybody choosing now to run up my Yule list?" Jacob threw up his hands and stomped past them. He was stomping so determinedly, in fact, that he almost run down Hugh and Noreen Kivette. They both let out short yelps, probably at the look on his face.
"Well, ah," Hugh stammered, running a hand through his grey hair. "I suppose this is goodbye. It's been a damned eventful ride, ain't it?" he tried for a smile. Almost succeeded, too. Jacob offered a hand, but the big man pulled him in for a hug instead. "Thanks to you, man. I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't stopped that maniac."
Noreen smiled sweetly, and she too gave him a hug. "Nice to know," she said, "that there'r still still heroic types out there."
"Weren't heroic," he stammered. "Didn't have anything else for doin'. 'Sides, he hurt Anne."
"We all fight for what we love," Hugh said simply. Jacob had gained a liking for that man. He was simple, guileless as a child, honest as a bell, and a damned good cook besides. Ship might feel a touch empty without Hugh and his rugrats zipping around.
"Good luck on Whitefall. Maybe you'll stick around for one last dinner?" he said.
"Might just do that," Noreen said. Jacob felt in somewhat better a mood as he walked down the ramp and into the driving dust. It was windy this morning, and the sand was already blasting the red concrete of the prefabricated buildings into a drab brown. And in the midst of the people moving about in this maelstrom was a squat, white-haired woman. She looked very much a woman to stand against anything nature had to throw at her.
He stood at the edge of the tiny town's square. She was heaving curses and abuse around at her gang and her workers, thinking a touch more pain might get the job done that much faster. He waited a long moment for Patience to turn around, and when she did, she prodded him very hard in the shoulder.
"What are you waiting around for, we've got four more buildings to go up before we can even call this place a town!" she shouted before leaning over and spitting between the gap in her teeth. The spittle landed just short of Jacob's boot.
"I ain't one of your hands," he said simply. "Delivery. Another family of settlers, supplies, and whathaveyou."
"Don't just sit there, then," the ornery old woman shouted. "Git'it into the bank!"
"Bank?" he asked, looking at the identical buildings that surrounded him. She pointed vaguely at the building directly opposite him, then turned away. He caught her arm, then caught her stick upside his head.
"Don't you ever touch me, kid," Patience said. "What?"
"You got any Mules for sale?" Jacob asked.
"Y'ain't got a Mule?" she asked.
"Got took a few weeks back," he lied. She shook her head in disdain, and pointed to the building adjacent to the 'bank'. "Zane!" Jacob yelled.
The young man came bounding off of the ship, spitting out dirt every time he tried to grin. "Hey boss!" he coughed and sputtered. "Where's the chop-shop?"
Jacob nodded his head toward the building next to the bank. "Remember. It's gotta work, its gotta have torque, and haggle, haggle, haggle."
"Don't worry, boss, I'm gonna rob that sucker blind," he said. Jacob gave him a severe 'bee jway' look, before noticing that Patience was nowhere nearby.
She was now at the other side of the square, browbeating and just-plain-beating them's that couldn't keep up with her lofty expectations. Sylvia finally made her appearance, appearing with no weapons visible. It was a vast improvement. He wondered exactly what she was packing.
"Still got that bad feeling?" he asked her as Zane made his way across the square. She stood beside him, staring into the horizon.
"Worse," she said. She didn't wait for him, even to ask directions, heading out in a bee-line towards the building that Patience said was the bank. Something was a bit off, he felt. Still, he was going to be off this mo yi di nao tan keh planet and on to places... a bit less dusty.
"Captain?" he heard Sylvia's voice rise. Zane poked his head out the door, but Jacob shook his head. Zane ducked back into the mechanic's shop as Greyson pulled the door to the bank open.
Sylvia was kneeled on the floor, fingers laced above her head. Several very dusty men were stomping around the building, long shotguns in hand. One of them grabbed Jacob by the collar and tossed him rather effortlessly to the floor next to his crewmate. He gasped to pull some air back into his lungs, and put himself into the same position Sylvia had assumed.
He shook his head, "Son of a bitch."
"come one Kasey, open the gorram vault"
"please don't hurt me please don't hurt me"
"I should have just enlisted. Pa couldn't have been that wrong"
Syl realized that she was shaking. Rather badly, but there weren't a thing to be done on it. She was trembling now, her hands only remaining still by virtue of fingers being laced together and palms flat against her skull. Her teeth chattered, instead.
"Just my gorram day. Try 'n do the right thing, and we get robbed," Jacob groused. "An' that ain't right, gorram it."
"Everybody stay on the ground, and nobody gets a bullet to them," one of the robbers shouted. He was waving around a poorly maintained shotgun looked more likely to explode then fire.
"Bu yao yih dong, woh men buh jiang shang hai ni," another repeated.
"Hey," the first one shouted into the back of the bank. "Where's that vault?"
"Ain't got it yet, boss," came the voice. Somehow she instantly connected it to the name Kasey.
"I think we're humped," Sylvia said softly, trying to keep still despite the sudden palsy that seemed to overtake her.
"Really," Jacob said quietly. "What gave you that impression?"
Jacob rose to his feet. "Y' know, we've got business needs attending to, and we don't much care who we deal with," he offered.
"Down, or you get a bullet," the supposed leader barked. Greyson shrugged and sat himself down.
"Can't say I didn't try," he uttered.
"so fine to rip the flesh, so fine to stitch, to stitch the flesh"
"Why was I on that ship?" she asked quietly.
"On the BlackJack?" Sylvia said. Maybe a bit of distraction would pull her together.
"Niska hired you," he said simply, hoping to leave it at that.
"No, you recommended me, out of a room of better folk, and Niska assigned me onto your ship," she said. "Ain't exactly a secret in some circles that you 'n Niska were close. So, why did you finger me out?"
Greyson sighed then, like something he'd not wanted to tell so long he'd forgot how to tell it. He leaned back on the wall. "Y'ever meet somebody and know from the first peek of them that they're goin' places? Know that the very best you could do is latch on and hope you don't fall off?"
"I think I do," she said, remembering a pair of silver eyes.
"That's what I got when I saw you kicking your heels on the Skyplex," Greyson said. "Weren't much to look at, gotta say, all tiny and gangly and whatnot; I was rackin' my brain wonderin' how in the Nine Civilized Hells you were going places. Hell, might have been wrong all along and not even know it yet."
"Thanks," she said, "for everything but the last part," Jacob smiled. "Greatness. Ain't that a tickler. Weren't it for Anne, I'd might had to kiss you for that," she chuckled.
He laughed, drawing a curse from the robbers. "Much obliged," he leaned over to her, staring at her hands, of all things. "Why're you shaking?"
"Don't know," she said. "Just can't keep still."
She shuddered and shivered for several long seconds while Greyson doubtless considered whether to comfort her. She was his crew, but she weren't his lover. He'd made his decision, and put an arm over her shoulder when the door swung open and a wizened old face appeared against the swirling dust.
"What in the great guay is going on in here?" Patience screamed. The Chinese-speaking robber wasted no time in squeezing off a shot. The bullet spun her about, dropping her back outside the door, from which came a string of profanities so foul and well constituted that were they taken down, they could be used by opposing armies to start a battle in lieu of a declaration of war.
Then the world crashed in on her.
"let me out, I don't want to be here"
"gorram it, job ain' never runnin' smooth"
"to drink the blood, it burns so sweet, burns like the flesh"
"Ni mun doh bee-juay!" Sylvia shrieked. Several dozen voices fell silent as one, both those that came through her ears, and them's what didn't. One remained, though.
The moment of shock stretched out where robbers and hostages tried to work out what to do with this screaming banshee, most of the thought centering on 'what the guay was that?'.
"Reavers," she whispered to Jacob. His face went dead pale.
"You're sure?" he said, hoping she was lying, no doubt. But he knew. She didn't know how, but he knew.
"Not so much as a question," she said. Jacob's gaze focused on her nose, for some reason.
"When I said shut up," the 'leader' shouted, finally shaking of whatever it was she'd done. "I means shut up!" he swung his shotgun down to clip her jaw.
There was no time for this.
She twisted her head back, letting the butt swing past her and allowing him to throw himself dangerously off balance. With his center of gravity so far forward, it was an easy thing to rocket upward from her croach and crack shut his jaw with her crown. His jaw closed wetly, as if he'd not got his tongue all the way back in before his teeth slammed together. As he pitched back, Sylvia shifted her weight onto one foot and drove the other with all of her might squarely into his scrotum. The others were shocked, to say the least, as she pulled a gun out of her shirt and planted a bullet into the Chinese-speaking robber's kneecap. This one went down with a scream as the third, the box-man Kasey, appeared out of the came into view. Seeing Sylvia, for some reason, made him throw up his hands in surrender.
She turned back to Jacob. "Go find Patience."
"And God comes with us"
Greyson didn't waste any time, bolting out the door and returning a few seconds later holding up the wizened old harridan, who clutched at her shoulder in pain. "You got some skill, I gotta say," she said, face a little screwed from the wound she held.
"No time for that, Patience," Jacob said. She turned to face him. "We've just got a short-Wave from our ship," he lied. Sylvia kept her face smooth, "sayin' a pack of Reavers is comin' in hard and fast."
"I've survived Reavers before," Patience growled. "An' I'll survive them again."
Sylvia scoffed. "You survived them last time by bein' somewhere else. There ain't no way to get you all out. An' s'I see it, you've got about five minutes before you get a right close introduction with tough, dark and cannibal."
Patience seemed to ponder this for a long moment, her pride battling with her instinct for survival. Her instinct won. She shuffled back to the door. "Everybody git in here now!"
It was astounding how quickly they obeyed. Patience continued. "A pack of Reavers is comin' in to hit us again. An' they ain't gonna find us when they get here, dong ma?" a chorus of affirmatives sounded. "We're all goin' down into that vault, and we ain't getting out until the nice men with the purple hats come a'knockin', dong ma?"
People began filing into the bank, moving directly for the vault. "And what are you going to do about them?" Greyson asked.
"What d'you mean?" she asked snippily.
"How cruel do you feel? Will you take them with you, and hang them when the Reavers are gone, or will you just lock them out and let the Reavers have them?" He slipped himself out from under her arm, letting her support herself on the counter. "'Cause it'd have a lot more heart to put a bullet to them now."
Again Patience pondered a moment, then pulled out her pistol and leveled it at Kasey's head. One shot, and he crumpled to the ground. Two more shots followed, each with another robber lying still in the end. "Folk gotta respect the law," she said as she hobbled toward the vault. Sylvia grabbed Jacob's shirt and dragged him out of the bank.
Zane was smiling tightly in the blowing dust, displaying proudly his purchase of a new Mule.
"What the hell happened, boss?" he said, face suddenly serious. Jacob tore free and scooped up a woman who was approaching and dropped her onto the back. Sylvia instantly recognized her as Noreen. The farmer's wife gave a shocked look as she was so deposited.
"Not now, Zane, get this thing onto the ship and chain it down. Noreen, is Hugh and the li'l 'uns still back on Legacy?" Jacob barely waited for her nod before pressing on. "Get back and make sure that boat's ready to fly."
"Why?" he asked.
Greyson paused a moment. Word had spread, and now people were sprinting to the bank. He looked up into the sky. "Reavers," was all he said.
"No problem in that," he said. "We've dealt with Reavers before."
Sylvia shouted. "We dealt with one Reaver, who was already half dead when we found her. This time, we run."
"she does not suspect"
"Go!" she screamed as her arm lashed out, catching a running woman across the face. The strike cracked her nose rather loudly, and blood began to rill down the lady's chin. She didn't scream. She roared.
The woman in the pink-floral dress bounded back up, pulling a jagged-edged knife out of her skirt as she closed on the retreating Sylvia. She pulled the shotgun from the holster she rigged running down her leg, took aim, and fired.
The first shot hit her low on the abdomen, slowing the woman. Sylvia uttered a curse and racked the gun again as the woman roared again, picking herself up to a run. The second shot took the woman in the left shoulder, tearing off most of the tissue and leaving the appendage dangling useless at her side. She didn't even slow. Sylvia racked the shotgun again, and fired. This next shot struck low, making a ruin of her right leg. The woman finally stumbled to a stop.
"No mercy!" the woman screamed. She was right. She didn't know how she knew, but she was right.
Sylvia racked the gun again. The Reaver-woman forced herself into motion again, hobbling with surprising speed toward Sylvia, completely oblivious to the critical condition of her frame. She aimed again, firing a cloud of buckshot into the center of the woman's chest. The woman slowed considerably, but was still coming forward. That last shot would be considered universally fatal in pretty much anybody else, and all the rest she'd take were totally debilitating, and this Reaver woman was still coming. Sylvia felt her back bump into a wall, and the Reaver kept coming, a smile of viscious triumph broad across her face. Sylvia allowed a smile of her own, as she racked the gun again, bringing the final shell into the chamber. Almost casually, she reached out and placed the barrel against the approaching beast's body, right where the neck met the shoulders. A final shot, and the Reaver fell into a twitching mass, finally unable to kill. It still tried desperatly to fight, Syl could see it in the creature's eyes, but this one was put down. She looked across the square. The Jacob, Zane and Noreen were still staring at her.
"We," Greyson said, almost caught and vanished in the wind and blowing dust, "are going to have a very long talk."
She didn't see his lips move.
Noreen had entered a state of shock as Sylvia placed her shotgun against the chest of the still-advancing Reaver-bitch and plugged it with one final shot. It fell backwards, finally completely unable to kill anything. We are going to have a very long talk, Greyson thought. Sylvia was now bleeding profusely from her nose and the corners of her eyes. She beamed triumphantly before collapsing as if boneless to the ground.
"Get them onto the boat," he shouted at Zane, who snapped out of his state and forced the vehicle to churn away into the dirt toward the ship. Jacob forced himself to a run, stopping for just a moment beside Sylvia. He reached over and grasped the right hand of the Reaver, noting it was encased in a glove made from a larger man's hand. He slipped it off and shoved it into his back pocket, and hefted Syl onto his shoulder. He was somewhat surprised by how light she was. Her blood leaked onto his shoulder as he bolted toward Legacy.
"Chain that Mule down," he shouted at Zane as the ramp and airlock closed, and he felt the ship buck a bit as it made its escape. He wondered if Friday'd gotten some flight training. Weren't anybody else able to fly this boat. Zane was already draping the chains over the four-wheeled craft when Jacob shouted, and he forced onward, leaping through the door and down to the short steps into the common area. Hugh was standing in his way.
"What's goin' on here?" he asked.
"Grab your kids and hold on," Jacob ordered. "Reaver's are over Whitefall."
Hugh took a long step back, looking very much like he was going to faint. Noreen followed a moment later and took her husband to task as Jacob flung open the doors to the infirmery. Friday stared back at him.
"Take care of her," he said. Then his brain caught up with him. "Wait a gorram minute, who's flying this boat?"
"I'll deal with her if I can," Friday said, "and you know who's flying this boat."
Greyson stared into nothing for a very long moment. Couldn't be. Then he was sprinting again, taking steps three at a time, throwing himself into the cockpit. There she was, head wrapped up in bandages, burning atmo into the black.
"How do you feel?" he asked, astounded by the stupidity of the question the instant it came out.
"I've got a headwound, I haven't eaten in three days, my body's full of morphine, and I'm runnin' from the Reavers," she replied. "I'm just shiny."
"You can do this," he said. She smiled at him.
He took his place at the copilots seat and watched as the powerful surveying sensors scanned, located, and tracked the incoming object that approached at tremendous speed. As it dove down into the air, its reaction flare burned a thick and cancerous black. a smog that he could practically smell from where he sat. He didn't recognize the ship, except that the plating was mutilated. The sensors could pick up each of the sixty-four human cadavers that were strung along its bow, every tearing pike they'd added for when the ships got close enough to ram. The paired electromagnetic snares. Those would be the hardest do defeat. Especially with an engine running completely without containment, and able to exert more thrust on its worst day than Legacy could on its best.
"Any ideas?" Anne asked.
"They' seen us," Jacob said. "And if we run, they have to chase us."
"Really?" Anne asked. Jacob nodded.
"It's their way."
"Boss," came Zane's shout. "Mule's chained down, cargo's secure, and Noreen's coralled her kids."
"How long until we break atmo?" Jacob asked.
"A few seconds. What do you have in mind? We can't pull a blowback in the black, and an Ivan'll just drop us right into their lap."
"We could try a Maverick?" he said. "Problem is, what do we do then?"
"I got that covered, boss," Zane came in, shooing Jacob from the copilot's seat. Jacob gave him a very flat look.
"Get up," he said. "I need that seat."
Jacob finally grunted and pulled himself to his feet. Zane reached for the paneling above the seat and pulled it out. It flipped down, revealing another screen that came to rest just at eye level for someone sitting down. He also popped what looked like a false back off of the flight-stick. "Remember how we didn't get any burn out of the number one tank?" Zane said as he flipped a set of switches that activated this new screen. Jacob grunted, even though he didn't remember much of what happened after that first Reaver-bitch took his eye. "That tank ain't a tank," Zane explained. "It's a camoflagued housing for a Diamondback Missile launcher."
"Ain't those things illegal?"
"Highly," Zane laughed. "Which is why it's hidden so gorram well. Ain't exactly common to have Alliance weaponry on Independant ships."
"We've cleared atmo. Readying for the Mave..." Anne said.
"Not yet," Greyson said. "Not until they've cleared atmo, too."
"I'm getting a massive influx of energy off of that ship," Zane said. "It's powering its grapplers. Wait... I think, yeah, it's cleared atmo."
"Starting the..." Anne began again.
"Not gorram yet!" Jacob shouted. Everybody turned to look at him. "That thing moves like a hare, but turns like a cow. We give it room to get a bead on us, it'll tear us apart. We gotta wait till the last possible second."
The entire ship seemed to go silent as the Reaver's ship came closer. Closer. Its fetid contrail vanished, leaving only the black and dark brown of its natural 'paints' to distinguish it from the clouds and dirt of Whitefall beneath it. It was still getting closer. Closer.
"I want you to know," Anne said in the silence. "If we don't make it out of this..."
"None of that," Jacob said softly, laying his hand on her shoulder. "None of that."
"Anne!" he shouted, and she did what she did best. Even with a headwound, an empty stomach, and a bloodstream full of morphine. The entire ship seemed on the verge of flying apart as the thrust instantly went from all forward to all reverse, and the Reaver ship suddenly filled the viewscreens. Its EM grapplers arced and spat, launching well in front of the now steadily reversing craft. The Reaver ship followed, leaping into the front of Legacy, its pods still crackling with energy and its thrust pillar burning over-bright.
"And here is why we rock," Zane said with a small smile. His finger pulled in on the trigger, and a grey streak leapt out from Legacy, a long contrail burning quickly toward one of the EM grapplers that was still overcharged. It impacted into the right hand pod, its explosion bursting capacitors and other technical whatnot that kept that prodigeous charge from filtering back into the ship and frying all manner of systems, which was exactly what happened once the formerly mentioned whatnot weren't working.
The Reaver ship's drive flare faltered, sputtered, and died, leaving the massive craft drifting into a slowly degrading orbit. He could hope that the damnedable thing would hit the atmosphere and explode in a very large and pretty fireball, but it knew they'd have the thing fixed. They always managed to have the damned thing fixed.
"Get us out of here," Greyson ordered.
"Don't need to tell me twice," Anne muttered, spinning up the engine and leaving the Reavers to drift in the black.
"Friday!" Jacob shouted as she closed the door to the infirmery. "You took her off the morphine as soon as I went off that ship, didn't you?"
Friday stared him down for a moment. "I did. Can't spare the pop, have to stretch it out."
Jacob nodded very slowly, "Good job," he said. "Don't ever do it again."
"I hear ya," she said. She turned away.
"Wait, what about Syl?"
"I don't have the first clue what happened to her," She said, not turning around. "'s 'sif her brain just forced out a pint of blood for no good reason."
"How long till she's on her feet?" he asked. She turned and shook her head.
"You ain't listening. I've never seen this before. Might have been top of my class, but top of class on Boros don't mean much compared to the Core. I can't help her, outside of replacin' what blood she lost," her voice faltered near the end. "Ain't nothin' else. Can't deal with a bleeding brain here."
"It's all fallin' apart, ain't it?" Jacob whispered. "'Sides the pop, what about Anne?"
"Responding astoundingly well, tell the truth," She smiled a bit at this. "Never heard of a woman recovering so quick from a bullet to the brain."
"I'm glad she has you for a doctor, you know," he said.
"Ah," she smiled broadly. "So sweet. Weren't you taken, I'd..."
He waved her off before she completed the sentence, which was probably for the best. She shrugged and went up to his bunk to check on Anne. He plunked himself down onto the long sofa and ran his fingers along the spine of that old book he'd found. As he was contemplating reading, Noreen's head popped out around the corner where the rest of her family was asleep.
"I assume this is as good a time to talk as any?" she said.
"Reckon so," he said, patting the arm of the chair on the other side of the corner. "What's this about?"
"Well," she said, obviously uncomfortable with the situation. "We're gonna be on this ship a mite longer than we'd agreed, and, well, we ain't got a thing to trade outside out government lot."
"Is this about payment?" he asked. She nodded slowly. "I ain't gonna charge you for savin' your lives. We're headed for Hera. From there, don't even know. You want to get off, you can."
She smiled then, an expression of such genuine delight he felt a part of him lifted. She leaned over and gave him a hug.
"You don't know how many'd make us pay for the extra leg, didn't they just dump us on a Reaver-hit planet and have us do as we can," she rambled.
"Ain't my way. Things'll be a bit tight on the ship, but we'll get where we're going," Greyson said, standing up. "You got my word on that."
She backed up toward the bunks. "You know, ain't many heros left in the 'Verse," she said.
Jacob shook his head. "I ain't a hero, missus. Any man worth his salt would have done the same."
Noreen shook her head. "You know that ain't true," she said slowly. She vanished for a moment as she informed her husband of the good news, then leaned back out. "I guess that makes you a big damn hero."
Title: Legacy 1:06, Wounding Whispers
Series Name: Legacy
Author: James the Dark
Details: Series | PG-13 | gen | 27k | 01/13/06
Characters: Other - Jacob Greyson and the crew of Legacy
Summary: The crew of Legacy land on Whitefall, which is still recovering from its encounter with Reavers. If only they had enough common sense not to walk right into a robbery on the go.