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Subject:Fic Update
Time:10:51 pm
Title: The Space Mariner & His Celestial Albatross

Author: J.J. O’Robert (jezzjamer)

Rating: G (for now, rating may go up)

Genre: General/Romance

Word Count: 1,131 (per MW)

Disclaimer: The Firefly/Serenity characters and storyline are the Property of 20th Century Fox/Universal/Joss Whedon, I’m not sure who owns all the rights but I know its one (if not all) of them. However, the plot of this story and all additional characters are from my own imagination.

Warning(s): Mal is 32 years OLDER than River in this fic...and in the actual series. NOT pedophilic.

Pairing(s): Mal/River (eventually), Simon/Kaylee (eventually), Wash/Zoe (later established), Jayne/???, Inara/…Clients, Book/…um…God?

Summery: Altered Universe! Retelling of the Firefly story starting Pre Unification War through Post BDM. Mal/River friendship, later romance. Mal/River Centric.

Synopsis: Mal first meets River when she is a very young child just before the start of the Unification War. Then a second time just before she sent to the Academy. Then he meets her for the final time after she has escaped from the Academy. The story goes on from there to recount the adventures of the Crew of Serenity with a whole lot more involvement of from River.

Author's Notes: Altered Universe, not alternate, just altered. Some proper names and events have been changed to fit the plot and my own sensibilities. Dates, when applicable, will be show as year-month-day. According to my sources, Firefly starts in A.D. 2516 and Serenity starts in A.D. 2517; Mal was born in A.D. 2468 September 20 and River was born in A.D. 2500 December 19. The Unification War began A.D. 2506 and ended A.D. 2511 with the victory of the Union of Allied Planets over the Independent Faction. Now for the purpose of this story, the Union of Allied Planets has been renamed to the Interstellar Union of Sinoanglia and the Independent Faction has been renamed to the Alliance of Independent Planets. I have also changed River birth date to A.D. 2500 July 24 to fit the plot. As well as the outcome and end of the Unification War which, for the integrity of the plot of this story, ended in a stalemate in A.D. 2513 and has carried on into a Cold War between the Interstellar Union and the Independent Alliance.

Thanks to Haloarcher for agreeing to beta this for me.

A/N2: There are footnotes at the end of the chapter to reference certain ideas in the story text. If there is something you didn't understand that is not referenced please leave a review and I will attempt to explain either in a reply or in a future chapter.

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Prolog One: Part II

Mal and Young River stepped off the lift onto the recreation deck to be greeted by the sight and sound of dozens of off duty Spacers and Star Marines taking their leisure. Little River was obviously overwhelmed, she cast her gaze around the room franticly, unable to settle on one activity before going to the next. Mal thought she might become dizzy at this rate and decided to show her around to see if she was interested in any of the many recreational activities available.

The first station Mal showed her had a paddleball table set up with a bench on either side. There was a group of Spacers making use of it now, competing in a small tournament. Mal and River watched for a few minutes but River became bored with this very quickly and asked to move on to the next station.

The next station he showed her had a few Star Marines standing around a billiards table. They too were engaged in a tournament but this one was a bit more intense with lurid and obscene comments being thrown back and forth between the participants. Mal didn’t let River stay long to ask him questions about the Star Marines language.

Another station had a mixed group of Spacers and Star Marines sitting at an octagon-shaped game table, playing cards. Mal stood back a bit to watch but noticed River standing on her toes next to him hopping in place trying to get a better view but not succeeding. So Mal stooped down to scoop her up into his arms and held her against his side so she could see. River watched the Spacers and Star Marines play for a moment before turning to him and asking in a very serious tone; “Mister Sergeant Mal, why are this people playing such a simplistic and facile game when there are so many other more challenging games?” Mal and many of the Spacer and Star Marines sitting within hearing range turned to glance at her in bewilderment.

“What'dya mean lil’darlin’? This here is one of the most challengin’ card games I can think of.” Mal replied with a bit of uncertainty.

“But Mister Sergeant Mal, this game is not challenging at all. It’s not even complex, all you have to do is taking into account the value of cards you have in your hand at the current moment verses what you where dealt and what was played by your opponents in the previous hand. Then you use deductive reasoning to determine what cards are currently in play and what cards are left in the deck. Based on those variables you can easily win the majority of every game played.” Little River declared with the utmost confidence. Mal and the others around the table just stared at the little sprite of a genius girl, their eyes wide and jaws on the deck-floor in stunned disbelief.

Taking a moment to collect himself, Mal closed his jaw with a click and shook his head in an attempt clear his muddled thoughts. Making a mental note to address this situation with his little charge later; Mal replied, “That may very well be bao bei, but not everyone knows how or even likes to play that way. Some think it’s too much like cheating because there are a lot of other people who aren’t as good with maths. Dong ma?”

Little River scrunched her face up in contemplation then nodded her head at him. “Okay Mister Sergeant Mal, that makes sense. Thank you for explaining it for me.” She said with a smile. Mal smiled back at her and turned to walk on to the next station with the flabbergasted stares of the card players boring into his back.

Subsequently they came to a station with a large shelf littered with several tabletop games such as chess, mahjong, xiangqi, Stern-Halma, pachisi, backgammon, checkers, dominoes and many, many others. River looked mildly interested so Mal stopped to let her have a closer look while asking if she’d like to play any of the games, to which she replied; “Perhaps later, I want to look around some more first. Maybe there will be something more interesting at a different station.” Little River paused for a moment then looked at him quite seriously. “Unless you would like to play one of these games Mister Sergeant Mal, then I’d love to.” She said at last with a big smile.

Mal chuckled and replied, “No lil’darlin’ I could stand to look ‘round some more iffin you’re takin’ to the notion.” Little River nodded her head vigorously then thrust her arm out to point to the next station across the room.

All around the deck, they saw people participating in some form of activity, a few played Virtual Reality (VR) games, while some were watching a holovid on a large cortex screen, still others where at various live-cortex screens watching some form of sporting event. Each person sitting before a cortex screen wore an audio-link in his or her ear so as not to be disturbed by the background noise. In a partitioned section of the deck, a large group was watching a couple of Star Marines sparing on a roped-off platform located in the center of the room with a few others using exercise equipment positioned along the walls.

In fact the only section of the deck not in use was a an art station in far corner set up with several easels, tables and stands and a shelving full of art supplies such as: regular and colored pencils, marker pens, paints and brushes, paper, poster board, blank canvas and modeling clay. The moment Little River spotted the corner filled with art supplies she let out a squeal of joy, jumped out of Mal’s arms, and hit the deck running.

Several people looked up from what they were doing startled, trying to determine the source of that very out of place sound. Upon sighting a girl-child in their midst many shuttered in distaste, some looked on in befuddlement, while the rest went back to what they were doing in disinterest. Mal paid them no heed, his focus completely on the little spitfire of a child in his charge.

Mal just stood there where she left him watching in bemusement as she happily chattered away to herself bouncing from art activity to activity until she noticed that Mal was no longer by her side. She stopped bouncing around and looked up at him as if to say Well don’t just stand there you big boob, get over here and finger-paint with me. Mal grinned at her and waked over to see what she would like to do. “Well now lil’bit, I’ve got the strangest notion you’d like to use these here artsy things.”

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[1] Spacer — general descriptive term for a member of the Alliance Space Navy; be they enlisted personnel, non-commissioned officer, commissioned officer or admiralty.

[2] Star Marine — general descriptive term for a member of the Alliance Star Marine Corps; be they enlisted personnel, non-commissioned officer, commissioned officer or general staff.

[3] Bao Bei — treasured object, sweetheart, darling

[4] Dong ma — understand

[5] Mahjong — is a game for four players that originated in China. Mahjong involves skill, strategy, and calculation, as well as a certain degree of luck. Depending on the variation which is played, luck can be anything from a minor to a dominant factor in success. In Asia, mahjong is also popularly played as a gambling game. The object of the game is to build complete suits, or melds, usually of threes, from either 13 or 16 tiles. The first person to achieve this goal wins the game. The winning tile completes the player's set of either 14 or 17 tiles. {Source: wikipedia}

[6] Xiangqi — is a two-player Chinese board game in the same family as Western chess, chaturanga, shogi and janggi. The present-day form of Xiangqi originated in China. Therefore, it’s commonly referred to as Chinese chess in English. Distinctive features of Xiangqi include the unique movement of the pao ("cannon") piece, a rule prohibiting the generals (similar to chess kings) from facing each other directly, and the river and palace board features, which restrict the movement of some pieces. {Source: wikipedia}

[7] Stern-Halma — often called Chinese checkers, is a board game that can be played by two to six people. The objective of the game is to place one's pieces in the corner opposite their starting position of a pitted 6-pointed star by single moves or jumps over other pieces. There are 121 marble slots on a Chinese checkerboard.

[8] Audio-link — is something I made-up because is sounds more future-tech than “wireless headphones”

[9] Virtual Reality Games — VR games exist today, but I figure they may completely replace video games in the future.

[10] Holovid — I couldn’t think of any other future-tech term for “movie” so I went with it.

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Next up, Prolog One: Part III in which there is a timeskip and Mal prepares for River's departure.

Then there will be Prolog Two. I'm not sure if it will be in one part or more but it invalves teenage River a month or two before she goes off to the Academy and Mal about a year after the war. Man and his Crew save River and her family from Reavers while they are on vacation. 
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