Setting down her fork, Aurora gave a contented sigh, sitting next to her, Leyna did something similar. With a smile Kaylee rose from the table and cleared away the plates.
"Thanks," Aurora said as she leaned back. "It was fantastic."
The mechanic's smile broadened. "Oh, it was nothing."
Aurora turned her gaze to the crew of Serenity. Everyone sat or stood around her and Leyna, looking on expectantly.
"Well," Mal said at last. "Are you going to tell us how you got onto that shuttle?"
Leaning forward, Aurora nodded. "I suppose I will. Where to start..." She thought for a moment which just made the crew even more anxious to hear. "It all started when Leyna and I first took on crew members, after all we are only two women and we can't do absolutely everything. Soon we had quite the ragtag crew, they weren't exactly the most trustworthy as far as shady characters go but they knew what they were doing and they were good at it.
"We had two men hired for their muscle, a pilot, a doctor, and a mechanic. Each of them had their own bizarre background and their own tales to tell. I trusted them all despite my instinct. That's where it all went wrong, ignoring my instinct."
Aurora sighed before continuing. "Recently we took on a job from a complete nut job. And I don't mean the kind of guy who needs a padded room. The only way to keep people safe from him would be to shoot the bastard."
"Who was it?" Mal's eyes narrowed slightly. "And what was the job?"
"The job was a piece of cake. Just steal some valuables from party A, an Ariel museum and bring them back to party B, Niska." At the name Mal leaned back and crossed his arms while Wash went a little stiff. "There was a new shipment of artifacts and art, Niska wanted them for his private collection, we went in and got them. Over all, the stuff we stole would make enough to buy a small fleet, if sold to the right buyers."
Jayne nearly fell off his chair. "What are we waitin' for? Let's go get that cargo." Mal shot him a look and motioned for Aurora to continue.
"Six days ago we were about to arrive at the rendezvous point when my crew suddenly decided the money was too good to pass up. All of them, except Sparky, mutineed."
"Sparky? That's a nice name," Kaylee put in cheerfully.
"That's just his nickname. Billy was my mechanic, damn good one too. He was he only one that was trustworthy. Real sweet, that one." As she spoke, Aurora's tone got sadder. The thought of what had happened to her friend still pained her. At the looks she was getting from the crew she quickly added, "He was a good friend of mine."
"What happened to him," Kaylee asked, listening intently.
"That's the worst part of the story." Aurora shook her head sadly. "Nick, the leader of the mutiny, had Leyna, Sparky, and myself all rounded up. Sparky tried to protest but Doc shot him. Execution style. And in the name of science. Liu kou shui de biao-ze he hou-zi duh ben er-zi!"
Everyone was silent for a moment. No one could seem to fathom the idea of a man being executed by mutineers in the name of science. It was just disgusting to think that anyone would do such a thing.
Quietly, Aurora continued the story. "We were thrown in a shuttle, and left for dead. Then you came along and saved us." She sighed. "It probably won't matter though. If Niska finds us we're as good as dead."
Leyna looked down at what was left on her plate. What Aurora was saying was right, they really were lucky Serenity had come along when it did.
"Just doin a days work. Ain't no need to thank us." Mal said. "The two of you should probably get some shut eye. We need some time to discuss this situation as a crew, Im sure you can understand that..." his eyes shot to Aurora. "...being a fellow Captain an all."
"Of course." Aurora managed, yet was disheartened that it was even up for 'discussion.'
"Doctor," Mal said and Simon's eyes shot up. "Take these two to their rooms."
"Fine." Simon said then turned to the girls. "This way."
Leyna and Aurora followed Simon out of the kitchen and down the stairs towards their rooms.
"You think they'll help us get the Gemini back?" Leyna asked as they walked.
"I hope so." she answered.
"Those two lost cargo that belonged to Niska…?" Jayne started out in a loud whisper as soon as the girls had left the room. "I figure he's gonna be looking for 'em and he aint gonna be happy."
"I reckon you're right." Malcolm answered as he sipped his drink.
"What if it gets traced back to us?" Jayne said, in an upset tone. "Niska has it out for us already as it is…"
"Right, " Malcolm nodded his head. "He would like a piece of us, which puts us in an interesting position."
"Trade the girls into Niska?" Jayne asked his eyes narrowed.
"No." Wash said speaking up for the first time. "Captain, you know what would happen to them if Nisk.."
"That's not what I'm thinkin' Wash." Mal calmed him with a glance.
"Why not?" Zoë spoke up. " It could help our relations with Niska. We don't know these girls and we don't owe them anyth…."
"I know these girls…well one of them" Wash said and seemed to look bewildered at Zoë.
"No, Hoban, you KNEW her….seven years ago." Zoë said as though she was trying to keep herself from yelling. "You have no idea what she is now or where she has been."
"No one's denying that…." Mal tried to break in and gain control of the conversation but Wash was still defending Aurora.
"I know she's a friend who needs help…why is this even up for discussion?" Wash said looking around at the crew for some support.
"A friend? Seems to me like you think of her more as a lover," Zoe stood up and was stareing down Wash.
"Right now she's more of a lover than you are." Wash said right back to her. "She has actually hugged me within the past 24 hours."
"Hey! What did I tell the two of you's about arguing." Mal broke in, his voice was followed by an uncomfortable silence.
"Well, I like them." Kaylee said quietly after a moment. "It's gotta be hard on someone who had everything going for them then all of a sudden they lose everything on account of people being greedy. Then findin' out her dead fiancé is alive yet married to another woman."
"Now here's how it is..." Mal said with a tone of finality. "They say they know where this Nick guy was taking the shipment. We'll be hard pressed to catch up in time since theyre a week ahead of us. We get the girls to their ship then we take the cargo as payment..."
"What about Niska's men?" Jayne asked.
"We worry about Niska and his men if and when the time comes." Mal interjected. "Right now we deal with whats in front of us, and thats getting that cargo back."
"Awh hell, why not..." Jayne grumbled. "The little ones kinda cute."