Into the Black— Summerfair to Bernadette
‘Kaylee, I’m not getting speed,’ River commed from the bridge.
Kaylee slipped out of her hammock, where she had been hiding from her family. Privacy was hard to find in 35 metres of spaceship with ten people aboard.
‘Looks like some of these fuel cells is underpowered. They’re practically new, too.’
Investigation showed that a dozen of the cels were definitely no longer producing their marked power outputs. Further investigation….
‘Hey , Riv, you better plot a course for the nearest world with a decent supply depot. Some hundan passed off crappy counterfeits from Beaumonde as real FSWs. We gotta replace them pronto if we wanna make Bernadette.’
‘So how much is this gonna cost?’ asked Mal at the supper table.
‘We can get replacements at Regina. But usually we can trade the done cells for recycling or retrofit. No one is gonna take this crap.’ Kaylee rubbed her temples in frustration.
‘And there’s layover time.’
’That’s not a problem, sir,’ said Zoe. ‘Waved Bernadette and got quotes on new and retro fit cells. Not much difference in price and if River an Kaylee do the buying we should get a good deal on quality goods.’
Between Kaylee’s charm and expertise, and River’s ability to read people the two made a smart bargaining team. It didn’t hurt that many merchants were disconcerted by the tough bargaining from two pretty girls. Even more useful was River’s ability to know when someone was planning to cheat them.
‘It’s my fault, capt’n,’ said Kaylee. I should have installed ‘em myself. Check the readings better.’
‘We thought we were getting a good price on them at the Space Bazaar. And we was all distracted by Inara’s legacy letter.’ Mal kissed the top of his wife’s head. She smiled up at him. ‘So, Regina. We been there before right?’
‘Not since our honeymoon, sir.’
Simon’s husband, David, looked from Zoe to Mal in shock. The rest of the crew laughed.
‘We done a job there and then got pinched,’ Ma explained. ‘Me and Zoe tried passing as newlyweds looking for work in Paradiso. That din’t go so good, but Inara got us out.’ He rubbed his jaw.’That woman looked so delicate and laddish, but she packed a mean punch.’
‘Punch,’ crowed the baby, crawling onto her daddy’s lap and patting his face.
‘Yeah you’re tough when you got your gang with you,’ he said, kissing her ginger curls.’ Punch,’ she repeated and fell asleep on his shoulder.
‘If we plan on an overnight on Regina, and a one day…’
‘Two,’ said River. ‘Up a lazy river.’
’Two day layover, Kaylee, would fresh cells give up any benefit?’ Zoe finished.
‘Not really. Faster than we been going, but not three days worth.’
‘Well, needs must.’ said Mal.
River took Emma to the bridge to observe the course correction for Regina. The pilot seems to work on instinct so quickly did her mind do the calculation. Emma went step by step, checking River’s work. But she had inherited some of her father’s skill and had already , at twelve, surpassed Mal as a pilot.