Crossing Over :: How to fix an alien ship 101, by Kaywinnit Lee Frye.
"Kaylee, the thing's gotta belong to someone. Giant an' mysterious spaceships don't just pop out of nothingness." Jayne ducked his head and gave the star-struck girl a knowing look. "Even real purty spaceship's like that one."
If there was anything Jayne knew, it was when to score points. Simon sneered at him over the top of Kaylee's head. The mechanic bee-lined for the stranded alien ship with single-minded intent. Jayne sneered right back at the doctor.
Kaylee ignored them both in favor of stumbling over the annoying terrain – annoying because it was between her and sheer perfection – and opened both arms wide, murmuring tenderly to the far too big craft she snuggled up to the second she was in reach.
"Oh, you beautiful perfect lady," she crooned, eyes crinkling in dismay at the scorch marks and gouges marring the great expanse of alien metal. "Just you wait, we'll have you fixed up and right back up there where you belong in no time."
"Um. Mei mei? With what're you plannin' to do that, exactly?" Mal tried to sound nice and polite. Really hard.
From the brief look Kaylee spared for him, pondscum clearly had better manners than he did.
"Find it? Find it?! Did you see how BIG that thing is?" He waved his arms a few seconds to demonstrate, then gave up. It was that big.
"Don't you call her a thing! Can't you hear her singin' at us? Be nice and don't you dare hurt her feelings again or I'll set you straight, capt'n sir!"
"Her? That ain't ours! Ain't our Serenity! We don't need to fix this flying death- OW!" Shielding his head and dancing out of throwing range – he hoped – Mal squalled in indignation, sparing a brief glance for the wrench still rattling at his feet before glaring at his mechanic with the most righteous glare he could muster. "KAYWINNIT LEE FRYE!
"NO NAME CALLING HER! No hurtin' her feelings!" Mal scowled and pointed a finger at her, but Kaylee was entirely lacking in anything resembling being intimidated. "Nu huh! I'm not talking to you, Mister Capt'n Tightpants SIR!!! Not until you find me what I need to fix her!"
Jayne winced and took a step back. Simon pursed his lips, silently hated himself and also took a step back.
"An' you call her Lady and nuthin' else, you hear me?"
They weren't going anywhere until the alien ship was fixed and good as new.
Mal cursed and stomped and cursed some more, while River stared up with wide eyes, mouthing words no one understood. Calm and competent as ever, Zoe tuned out the roars of her captain and starting calculating their funds and listing places where they might find the right combination of alloys Kaylee would need to effect repairs.
Kaylee snuggled up to a metal that felt like none she'd ever seen before and murmured gently and reassuringly in answer to vibrations only she could hear.
"Huh. Nice aim with that wrench."
"Be quiet. Maybe if they don't know we're in here they'll leave?"
"Uh... I don't think it works that way?"
"And what the frag is that squishie thing doing to Xantium?" Whirl muttered irritably from within the cluster of mechs surrounding the sole functioning external camera. "And can I shoot it now?"
Xantium's vents hissed in irritation, and without any ceremony, an upper panel dropped from its moorings to neatly smack the top of Whirl's head.
The other Wreckers exchanged looks, and in unison, took a careful step away from the helicopter.
As Whirl cursed some more, another panel followed the first.
"Ti likes the squishie?" Scoop murmured, sotto voice.
"Ti likes the squishie," Twin Twist confirmed, one hand pressed flat against a wall that hummed in happy confirmation.
#So, here's what we do. We lay low and-#
#Lay low? On Xantium? Why are we letting the squishies traipse about while we lay low? That's what I wan-#
#Whirl... just shut up.#
#But we can just squish 'em and then go away! We don't need their help to do repairs! And they'll put all sorts of disgusting squishie things all over Xantium!#
#I'm with him on the repairs bits.#
#Not so much the squish 'em bit.#
#That's nice to know. Hi.#
#Hi! Um. Ah...#
#Scoop? How long has the squishie been IN THE ROOM?!?#
#Um. She asked really politely if she could come say hi earlier while I was on patrol and, um... hi?#
#I like him.#
#That's nice - Wait. How does she know Cybertronian?#
#I picked it out of your brains. It was fairly easy, actually. You're all far less confusing to read than squi- humans.#
#Primus save us all.#
#I think Springer crashed.#
River grinned from her perch, feet swinging in empty air. They were all so easy to process, minds clean and sharp and organized.
She was, she reflected, maybe just a little bit in love with the whole concept of giant sentient robots.
"Did you see those cannons?!"
"Yes Jayne, I saw the cannons."
"Those are some mighty fine cannons."
"Real big too."
Mal took a deep breath, and tried to refrain from commenting on exactly how... gushful Jayne was about the whole thing. (Gushful was a word now, and no one better argue with him about it too.) Zoe looking just a little bit wide-eyed while trying to hide a smile each time she took a peek at said big guns wasn't helping though.
He was doomed.
He was NOT jealous. Of the really big – and shiny – cannons. Nope sir. Not one bit.
Jayne breathed out the word, eyes for nothing else but Xantium's cannons.
Kaylee beamed in approval as he very determinedly declared his undying love to the stranded ship.
Xantium, in the grand scheme of things, was secretly quite pleased with being addressed as "Miss Xantium, ma'am!"
And added another squishie to her quickly growing collection without a second thought.
(It was rather hard for any of the Wreckers to argue with the humans' sentiments in regards to Xantium's weaponry, though they had the feeling they had somehow been upstaged by the humans unabashed approval and adoration. Ti instantly playing Pin-a-Wrecker the second one of them looked funny at the humans was a broad enough hint for them to get a clue or two, there.)
Springer - appreciating that he was not the one being harassed and bedeviled by his crew for once - watched Mal curse and swear and generally sulk and was very, very amused by it all.
"He would have loved being here and seeing this. So much." A small hand reached out, hovering over the metallic surface but not quite touching the corner of one of the consoles. "And he would have had so many questions for your Xantium."
Zoe smiled unsteadily and looked out of the viewscreen of the sentient ship's main bridge, breath light and fluttery. She stood ramrod straight and steady, face slightly turned away as she looked outside, imagining the dusty vista surrounding them to be a starfield instead.
A somber Roadbuster stood nearby, careful of the edge of the navigations array and wary lest should the fragile being somehow manage to fall, all the while doing his best not to loom.
He didn't understand what she was saying, but he didn't need to.
Loss and sorrow for the fallen needed no explanation.
It had taken Twin Twist all of three seconds of exposure to the mechanic for him to decide that Kaylee was absolutely the most interesting biological this side of creation. (Kaylee smiled at him cheerfully and was quite grateful Twin Twist was 1) a robot and 2) waaaay too big for her in any way, or else Simon would have had quite the run for his money.)
As it was, the drill quite happily carried about everything she requested of him and Kaylee thoroughly enjoyed having a like-minded mech to natter on and on at about repairs.
That they technically didn't even speak the same language had nothing at all to do with the work they were doing, and thus was entirely irrelevant, it turned out.
(Xantium cheated and threw in diagrams galore into the conversation, but no one needed to know about that!)
The explosion wasn't all that big but it was Simon's instant reaction which had Top Spin feeling smug, even as he leaned down and hovered over the two small humans in the middle of the engine room, twitching nervously at not being able to do anything.
"She's okay! Just a scratch, stop waving your arm at me Kaylee and let me patch it up or else I'm going to tranq you up, hear me? Besides, do you want to bleed all over Xantium?"
An exclamation of dismay greeted the last statement and Simon grinned ruefully as he patched up the no longer struggling mechanic (it really was just a small scratch) and murmured promises of taking better care of her bumps and bruises later (Kaylee grinned and made plans for the second they were left alone in the engine room and hoped Xantium wouldn't mind too much.)
#Medic,# Top Spin asserted later on, smugly, collecting his winnings from the others. Scoop grinned knowingly and then stretched out a hand towards the other mech's newly acquired wealth.
#Maybe so, but she's the one that's the most like you in other regards,# he declared with mock solemnity, ignoring the pained groans the rest of the Wreckers aimed his way.
Topspin cursed and turned over his earnings when Xantium offered cheerful corroboration.
Her calculations were flawless and River knew it wouldn't be half as long as they thought until Kaylee would have things ready and the ship patched up. As to how long it would take mechanic and ship to admit this to the others, River wasn't quite as certain. So she still had some time before she told them about the weird black hole they'd have to go through to go back home. At least, it seemed to be anchored to the planet itself, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Maybe.
In the meantime, one did have to stand up for one's crewmates. Mal had taught her that much and she did mean to do him proud.
#Kaylee is the best mechanic in the 'verse and if she says she can get the alloys you need, she can. She lives to repair ships. So shut up and let her work and stop looming inand intimidating her already.# Still staring at Whirl, River smiled charmingly and finished her tacked on one last word, for good measure. #Fragger.#
Whirl hadn't even finished taking the first step that one of Xantium's loading arms had him neatly pinned to the wall. River giggled cheerfully. The rotors made him look kind of like a bug, and the mad clicking as he tried not keep control and not scream in indignation completed the entire mental image. That she was maybe kinda sharing with him as best she could while giggling like a little girl.
Whatever Kaylee had told Xantium about her, it seemed the ship was giving her leeway in picking on the big giant root. And possibly, also was enabling just a bit.
This was fun!
The repairs had been done and though Xantium had delayed leaving a bit longer than Springer liked, he had to admit it was her decision to make and her gift to bestow. Twin Twist had been positively ecstatic at the sentient ship's decision and between the two of them, none of the Wreckers had stood a chance.
And so the giant robots had stuffed something inside the guts of his ship and Kaylee hadn't been allowed to look (she had both hands plastered over her eyes and kept hopping up and down in glee) because it was a surprise.
Mal hated the universe.
The universe, it turned out, felt it perfectly fair to hate him back in return. The ship's comm crackled and blared to life.
~Alliance fleet, incoming sir!~
Mal swore and cursed and ran, shouting over his shoulder.
"Prep for transition to space and do it fast! We'll," he paused, letting out a short bark of exasperated resignation as he paused to glare at the bots gathered outside his ship, "we'll distract 'em somehow while you get up there!"
~All thirty of them, captain?~ Zoe sounded almost sympathetic over the ship's comm.
"NO! I DO NOT HAVE A PLAN, ZOE!"
~Oh good,~ Jayne chimed in over the comm, surprisingly cheerful. ~No plan means everything will be fine for a change!~
River snorted and slammed the doors of the hangar bay shut and prepped for departure faster than any pilot had ever dared to do.
Within seconds, Serenity was rising from the ground and setting an intercept course for the Alliance armada.
The Armada commander was quite pleased with himself when the smuggler's ship ID was finally confirmed. Even orders to catch all on board alive didn't affect his good mood too much.
The ship the size of a planet which joined the fray seconds later however pretty much ruined his day.
That there was never sight nor trace found of said ship after his report was handed in pretty much ruined his career.
1 year later...
Kaylee blinked as she sensed a shift in Serenity's vibrations. Still blinking she sat up in bed. Simon huffed slightly moments later, the weight of one hand firmly planted in his stomach as Kaylee scrambled over him to get to the doorway more than enough to wake him up.
Ten seconds later and still trying to wake up, Simon reached for another shirt, relieved that at least most of her had been covered before she scrambled down the hallway towards the engine room.
"Mei mei... what's wrong with my ship?"
Mal hovered testily in the doorway, only too aware that he was seconds away from having a wrench thrown at him if he pushed too hard. As much as iSerenity/i was his, he'd admitted to himself long ago that the ship herself would probably cotton to Kaylee far more if given half a chance.
"It's the box she gave me!"
"The box? What gorram box? That who gave you?"
Kaylee paused in her inspection of the engine's guts to give him an uncharitable look over her shoulder.
"Xantium's box. Captain Tightpants. SIR."
Mal knew that tone of voice only too well. He took a step back and tried to smile ingratiatingly.
"All right. The box. So. What's wrong with the box, Kaylee?" And then Kaylee's words caught up with his brain. "And why is it in Serenity's engines?"
"Cause they put it there, of course. You were there, you harassed them the whole time they were doing it. And she said it was because she trusted me so don't you make any smart remarks about her, you hear me?"
Mal opened his mouth, thought it over and then closed his mouth. Firmly. Bit his tongue. Counted to ten.
"Kaylee, is everything all right?" Zoe leaned in the doorway and pretended she hadn't just nudged her captain with the butt of her rifle. Honestly though, the man needed to get survival instincts transplant or something. Maybe Simon would help. A snicker from the hallway - and a smug grin once Zoe looked over to identify the origin of the snicker - disproved that theory. Mal was on his own.
"Yes, Zoe! It's just Ti's present finally... um... oh wow." Brilliant blue light spilled through the engine room as Kaylee stared down through the opening of a newly lifted panel. And smiled in wonder.
"Cap'n. I think you need to come see this."
"It's glowing blue."
"Are we blowing up again?" Jayne, newly arrived, peered through the doorway and glared suspiciously at the blue light.
"No. Now come here, Capt'n!"
"...I don't wanna."
"Now!" Kaylee glared and Zoe nudged some more, all the while ignoring the snickers from Simon and the grunt of irritation from Jayne.
Mal stumbled over to the open panel (WHY was his ship's engine glowing blue anyway?) and peered inside.
The blue orb floating within the energy shields of the box Xantium had given Kaylee pulsed happily.
"Simon, I think the captain needs your help."
Zoe smiled serenely down at Mal, and promised herself she'd never, ever let him live down having fainted at the sound of his ship claiming him as a parent.
Maybe someday she'd stop being jealous about it, too.