The idea for some of this actually came from my long-suffering husband. He bought me the Firefly box set, and then realised his mistake. But it wasn't the only box set he gave me, and putting the two next to each other, well, my brain did a horrible thing. Less of a crossover, more of a temporal echo. None of it is mine.
1. A Fistful of Credits
It's the biggest town on the planet. Hell, it's the only town on the planet. Shines like a fallen star in the desert, and like any other oasis seen from afar, up close, it's a mirage. A mean, flashy sinkhole of a place, devoid of morals and driven by excess. There's law of a sort here, but it's a town where you can get anything. Including dead. Life is cheap here. Death is cheaper - all you have to do is to be in the wrong place...
The Kit Kat Klub is halfway down the Strip. Not the newest or the smartest, but popular. The tables are straight, the girls are clean and the drinks aren't watered. Comparatively speaking. Right now, it's a mess. The whole facade has been stitched by gunfire, and not small calibre. The bright neon sign sheds sparks from its shattered tubes, the hologram dancer caught in a spastic jerk more epileptic than inviting. The ion-field windows fizz faintly as the wind whips small flurries of dust against them. The night is so late, that it's becoming early, and there's the rim of gold and rose over the distant mountains, promises a hot day. But in a town that never really sleeps, someone is always working. Sound of an engine in the distance, and the dark bulk takes shape.
This vehicle is designed to stand up to the toughest of terrain, and its dark anonymity simply screams officialdom. It slews to a halt, and the door opens. Dark boot crunches down on the dusty road. The Law has arrived.
Dressed in black, head to toe, the man in charge is stocky, compact. The hair under the flat-brimmed hat is threaded with grey, but the face has the calm intent of a younger man. When he slips off his dark glasses, cold blue eyes assess the scene.
Behind him, his team assemble. First out of the car, unfolding from the driver's seat, a very big black man. Holds himself with that watchful stillness that speaks of imminent violence, curiously pale eyes moving rapidly between the doorway, his boss and the horizon.
Next out, a dark, stocky man in a poncho and stetson. Offers his hand to the next crew member, but his help is disdained. Boss speaks without turning.
"Pancho, you check out the perimeter. Honey, you're with me."
Pancho gives his easy grin, lounges off along the frontage. Casual manner belies the fact that he has the sharpest tracker's eyes in the game.
The woman he called 'Honey', well, there's nothing sweet about her. Dressed in the same black, dark hair pulled back tight, waiting and wired, and obviously just longing for somebody to make a move she can object to. Ducks her head in acknowledgement. First man jerks his chin.
"What you want me to do, G?"
A wintery smile.
"You drew the lucky card, Rik. You and Dodge get to canvas the street, check for witnesses."
Rik rolls his eyes, but makes no other protest.
Dodge is the newest member of the team. Bright and eager, dark eyes jump and roam like his conversation. They are so used to his grin and chatter, that it always comes as a surprise when he goes still, long face intent. They make an incongruous pair as they walk off, the lanky eager kid and the imposing heavily armed man. Brings the edge of a smile to even Honey's lips.
"Reckon he'll make it through the day without Rik sewing his mouth shut?"
"He likes to talk. Rik likes to listen. They make a good team." G shrugs, returns her smile with a quirk of an eyebrow.
"G!" The voice is clear, pleasant and used to being obeyed. The owner of the Kit Kat Klub comes down the stairs to meet them.
Nobody who had ever seen Miss Kitty Fantastico dance forgot it in a hurry. High cheekbones, strawberry blonde, she's fighting middle age with everything she's got, and winning. She turns a dazzling smile, despite her worry, and G's cold eyes soften a fraction.
"Kit. Hear you have a situation."
A most unladylike snort.
"They knocked us over for five big ones, G. Whole evening's take on the tables."
Behind her, hangdog and glum, her Pit Boss, erstwhile head of security. A potato-faced man, greying hair cut short, with the disillusioned eyes of a man who has crawled into a bottle, and crawled out of it again. Someone got past him, got guns past him, and he is not happy. Has one arm in a sling, but stung professional pride has him still on his feet. Gives G a sour twisted smile.
"Leastways I got you a bullet to match up."
"Appreciate it, Mac. How did they get guns past you?"
"Found something rigged to the sensor array." Jerks his head. "Left it for your girl."
Honey is already trotting off. Anything with wires and like to go boom, that's her province. G looks after her, a crease of worry flitting across his face fast and gone, then he turns a bland face back to Miss Kit. Despite that, he has a suspicion that those blue eyes didn't miss much.
"After you, ma'am." Gestures politely, follows her back up the steps.
Miss Kit has what amounts to a penthouse, top of the club. But she has an office, too, spacious and gracious, behind the main floor. One wall has a bank of monitors. Despite the weathered board and the slightly rubbed velvet of the decor, the electronics here are tight.
G sits intent, absently sipping from a cup of rather good coffee that Honey has placed at his elbow. Rest of the team are back, and ready to report.
"Knock-out on the sensor array was a home-made job, but smart." Honey puts the thing on the desk. It was once a coffee tin - you can still make out the logo. "Luckily the table cameras are on a separate system, or we'd be really blind." Little frown between the dark eyes. "Strange that they blanked out the array, and came in blasting anyway."
Rik confirms it. Jittery in the presence of dice, his eyes move quickly between the screens, occasionally roam back to Miss Kit's profile, and away.
"Shooting started outside the front doors. Just blasted their way in and grabbed everything lying loose."
"I may have found something." G half-turns in the chair, points to the main screen. Obediently, they gather round.
"Most people run from gunfire. These people," finger points, "ran towards it."
"A rival gang?"
"Could be. Look. First shot, and this man," figure is a sweep of long coat, overturning the chair, "reacts. This woman follows..." Glimpse of a dark face, hard and beautiful. "This is where they were heading."
Overhead camera, table five. The dealer is a weasel-faced man, dark eyes a little too close together. Gives a mean little smile, smooths back already slick dark hair. The players - the young man looks over his eyeglasses, face impassive. Every inch the killing gentleman, from the sharp collar to the elegant shoes. At his shoulder, a girl lolls, blank-eyed, a painted doll. Suddenly, startlingly, she jerks upright, face abruptly alive, and with a surprising strength pulls him down off the chair.
"She saw them coming." Honey says.
G shakes his head, gentle admonishment.
"Look at the time stamp." Taps the screen. "That was a full thirty seconds before the first shot. And she had her back to the door."
Miss Kit looks at the freeze frame, eyes narrowed.
"Mac had just come to tell me that table five was winning big."
"Here's the meet." The man in the long coat has reached the pair. Although he's produced a gun from somewhere on his person, he isn't threatening anyone with it. Instead, he drops to one knee, checks the girl. The way he and the woman work, they are clearly a team, and clearly used to this kind of situation. She provides watchful cover. G watches the tapes intently, little frown as he draws his focus in, concentrates on the lips as the two men confront each other. His own move, as he shapes the words he can see.
"...can't leave people bleeding, Captain..."
"...got no kit, Doc. And we got a pressing need to be elsewhere, the law comes looking..."
Pancho takes his elbows off the private bar, and becomes all business.
"Some folks took off in a hurry out the back way, right enough. Followed the boots to the edge of the yard, but I reckon they had a vehicle waiting. Signs there was a mule parked up." Saves his best trick until last. "And I found this in the side road." Small earpiece sits in his broad, brown hand.
Dodge takes up the thread.
"Found their wavelength...stripped out the chatter, and it seems to be co-ordinates to meet. Some place west of town." Holds out a sheet. "Coverage isn't too good, but we got this off a heatscope. It's a ship. Small. Might be a firefly."
Rik gives a sudden rumbling laugh.
"Well, there ain't nothin' the G man likes more'n hunting bugs."