Xander looked around eagerly, finding everything interesting. Sure it looked a bit like a warehouse right down to the crates and pallet jacks scattered about, possibly one on a naval vessel like the one he'd once toured as a kid but this was an honest to god spaceship!
"Captain's coming in hot, we gotta be prepared to lift as soon as he gets here!" a voice called out over the ship's intercom. "Someone needs to round up Jayne and River quick like!"
Jayne slapped his hand on the intercom. "Already on board. Anything we need to do?"
"Just be ready to strap in and be prepared if any of the trouble following the captain tries to board," the pilot replied with relief in his voice.
"Will do," Jayne promised. "What do we do with him?" he asked River.
"Stick me in an empty cabin, we can sort everything out after everything's calmed down," Xander suggested.
"That's a good idea," Jayne said, leading Xander up a ladder and further into the ship.
"Thanks," Xander said as they ran down a hall until they reached the door Jayne wanted and he threw it open, revealing a small room that probably hadn't been used in a while.
Xander hopped in and unstrapped his gun belt. "Here, you might need this."
"Best kidnappee ever," Jayne said with a big smile as he put on the gun belt.
"Remember to lock me in," Xander said as he sat down on the single person bed that was bolted to the wall.
"Will do," Jayne promised, closing the door. The door rattled a little before opening again. "Lock don't work."
"I'll see if I can fix it," Xander promised, "you take care of the Captain, I promise to stay in here."
Jayne shot a look at River who gave him a nod. "Thanks," he said and closed the door.
Xander examined the room, it was about the size of a prison cell, ten by ten with an eight foot ceiling and didn't have much in the way of comforts, not even a toilet or shower, but it was a passenger's berth on a starship so he was happy.
He closed his eyes and acquired the land the ship was on, which turned out to be part of the town as they didn't have a dedicated spaceport so much as a number of empty fields that were used when they weren't being farmed. It was a single Colorless Land that could be tapped for either Mana or to refuel a ship and provide supplies. With no reason not to use it, Xander tapped the land, the Mana produced flowing through the ship and restocking the galley as it filled the tanks.
Xander felt the ship around him, acquiring its pattern, a Firefly class ship named Serenity, well cared for, but in need of a major overhaul, and a zero six artifact creature. He was surprised at the amount of information he could see while acquiring a pattern, as the amount seemed to be increasing the more patterns he acquired or possibly just the more attention he paid to the process.
The bed had a thin mattress but no bedding, so Xander created some, including a couple of fluffy pillows. Recalling what he'd promised, he stepped over to the door and spent a Mana to fix it, feeling the wear and tear of its years of service vanish as the lock regained its sharp edges, rust evaporating and hinges acquiring fresh grease.
"We're sky bound in five!" the intercom called out and Xander quickly laid down and fumbled with the belts, not wanting to get thrown around on his first space flight.
The ship shuddered and Xander was pushed down like he was going up a roller coaster for a loop de loop. He couldn't help but hoot as the ship took off. After just a few minutes the weight lessened and he could feel the void surrounding the ship as it flew among the stars. Xander unstrapped himself and laced his fingers behind his head, happy that he'd achieved one of his childhood dreams.
The door rattled a few moments later and then someone knocked on it, so Xander got up and unlocked it, revealing Jayne and River.
"Good job on fixing the lock," Jayne told him. "I don't think this door has ever given me so little trouble. Hell, even the hinges are oiled."
"I did say I'd fix it," Xander replied. "We off to see the Captain now?"
"I kinda have to break the whole kidnapping thing to him first," Jayne admitted, "but we usually all gather in the ship's mess about now when we leave atmo to make sure everything's shiny and all, so I thought I'd get it out of the way all at once with everyone."
"Like ripping off a bandaid," Xander said.
"Best to do it all at once," Jayne agreed and waved for Xander to follow, River waiting to walk behind him so he couldn't escape.
Xander was happy to follow, eager to learn what was going on as this was the nicest pair of kidnappers he'd ever run into and River's glares were downright adorable.
River began to curse under her breath in Chinese, which Xander also found adorable. She was radically different from Cameron who had yet to develop a personality and Xander had decided to let her develop one at her own pace rather than trying to teach her one as John did with Uncle Bob.
"-and a few punches might have got thrown," a tall dark haired man in a brown coat told the crew gathered around the table, "but I didn't throw the first one."
"You didn't," a fit, dark skinned, young woman agreed, "you just pointed out the similarities between his wife and certain livestock."
"You have to admit, there were some remarkable similarities," he defended himself.
"And I'm sure it had nothing to do with him talking up the Alliance," she said dryly.
"Hey, did we pick up a paying passenger?" the dark haired man quickly changed the subject as he spotted the three.
Xander reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of rolls of gold coins, tossing them to him. "Is that good for the trip?"
"Is this gold?" he asked with a pleased smile.
"99.999 percent pure," Xander agreed.
"Then this is a pleasing amount," he agreed. "Don't recognize the coinage, but the weight's real nice," he offered a hand. "Captain Malcolm Reynolds, at your service. Anywhere in particular you're looking to go, because we're heading to Sanctuary at the moment."
"Alexander Harris, my friends call me Xander," he replied as he gave him a friendly shake.
"We kidnapped him," Jayne offered making the Captain's smile fade into confusion.
"What?" Malcolm asked.
"They were polite about it," Xander assured him, finding the entire situation amusing.
"Mei-Mei," a clean young man who bore some resemblance to River asked carefully, "Why did you kidnap him?"
"He's made a girl like me!" River snarled out.
"Looked like her anyway," Xander agreed, "but except for their appearance I doubt they're anything alike."
"I read it in his head," River said firmly.
"A cyborg bodyguard," Xander explained, "not much personality, but seriously good in a fight."
"And did this involve any cutting open girls or kidnapping?" Malcolm asked softly, though his eyes held a dangerous glint.
"Nope," Xander replied. "Not on my end anyway, I imagine every new technology probably involves someone doing some fucked up shit along the way, but the T-800 series uses vat grown cells over a robotic body."
"You seem pretty calm for someone who's been kidnapped," the dark skinned woman noted.
"Jayne's been nothing but polite to me and I don't have anywhere in particular I need to be," Xander replied.
Everyone turned to look at River who slowly nodded.
"Sorry for the kidnapping," Malcolm apologized.
"I didn't mind," Xander assured him, "saved me time booking passage to some place more interesting."
"Sanctuary is pretty boring," Jayne said. "It's barely more than a bump along the way, doesn't even have a decent saloon set up yet."
"It's someplace I've never been, so I'll be interested," Xander assured him.
"You want your guns back?" Jayne asked, drawing attention to the ivory handled six shooters he was wearing.
"You keep them, they look good on you," Xander told him.
"Thanks," Jayne said brightly, caressing the handles.
"Welcome aboard," Captain Malcolm said with a shrug, unsure what else to say in this situation.
"Zoe," the dark haired woman said, offering a hand.
Xander shook her hand, "Nice to meet you."
"He's reading you!" River exclaimed as Xander shook her hand.
"I get a read on anyone I touch, same as animals and machines," Xander agreed, not seeing a reason to hide it, "it's automatic."
"You can read machines?" a freckle faced redhead in coveralls asked excitedly.
"That's how you fixed the door," Jayne realized.
"One touch tells me everything that's wrong," Xander agreed.
"And does that work with human bodies as well as minds?" the young man sitting next to the redhead asked hopefully.
"I can instantly tell you everything that's wrong," Xander told him.
"But you can't read people you aren't touching?" Malcolm asked.
"I probably could, but it'd take some effort," Xander replied as he considered the many different Blue spells and how he could go about learning telepathy, "and I don't know that I want to read what everyone around me is thinking, so I haven't tried."
Everyone looked to River who nodded once more.
"I have so many things for you to touch!" the red haired woman said excitedly, reminding him of Willow. As everyone turned to stare at her she blushed. "Not like that! I meant Serenity!"
"I'm reading Serenity right now," Xander replied, "I can tell you what's wrong, where the spare parts to fix it are, what spares need to be fixed and all that."
"Really?" she asked.
"Really," Xander agreed. "I can even tell you where everyone's porn stash is."
River snorted and Xander turned to look at her. "I know where everything hidden in the vents are."
"Eep!" River squeaked and ran away.
"My sister has a porn stash?" the young man asked, sounding upset.
Xander shrugged. "Just because I know where stuff is doesn't mean I know who it belongs to. I was teasing her, because I figured she was the one most likely to hide things in the vents."
"I'm going to have to talk to her," he said with a sigh.
"Why?" Jayne asked. "It's the first normal thing I've heard about her."
"Jayne," Malcolm said, giving him a look.
"Just saying is all," Jayne argued.
"And you two are?" Xander asked.
"Kaylee," the red head said, offering a hand, "ship's engineer."
Xander shook her hand. "And a damn fine one who has her own talent with machines."
"What, really?" she asked, surprised.
"If you love what you do you tend to develop a certain level of talent," Xander told her. "Love, faith, hope… all are words with power behind them, despite what most people think."
"Sounds like you'd get along with Shepherd," Malcolm decided. "He's big on faith, being a man of the cloth and all."
"Good name for a preacher," Xander said, "but when I said faith, I wasn't talking about religion, I was talking about believing in friends and family, at least that's where my faith lies."
"It's a good place to put it," the Captain agreed.
The young man stood up and offered a hand. "Simon, ship's doctor."
Xander shook his hand. "You really need to have more sex."
"You have a lot of stress hormones," Xander told him, "you need to have more sex."
"You can tell that?" Simon asked in disbelief but not denying it.
"You also need more sun," Xander told him, "but I'm sure you already knew that."
"Um, yes," Simon said, embarrassed as he retook his seat.
"Don't need to be a reader to know Doc needs to get his ashes hauled," Jayne said with a snicker.
"So what do you do besides making robot girls?" Malcolm asked.
"Anything I feel like," Xander said with a shrug.
"Yeah, I guess being able to read things by touch would make finding work pretty easy," Malcolm said thoughtfully.
"It would also explain why you were so calm about being kidnapped by Jayne and River," Zoe added.
"Haven't read River," Xander said, "but Jayne is pretty straight forward and one of the best kidnappers I've ever run into. Plus, since River said it was about me making girls, I figured they just wanted me for my talent and not anything anyone would harm me over."
"You get kidnapped often?" Malcolm asked before answering his own question, "With your talent I can see why people'd grab you."
"River was subject to a number of illegal experiments," Simon said, "so if you could help me identify some of the things that were done to her, I would really appreciate it."
"I'd be glad to help," Xander promised him.
"So what all do the robot girls you make do?" Jayne asked, breaking the mood.
"Bodyguard work mostly," Xander replied, happy to change the subject.
"So, they aren't… complete down there?" Jayne asked, gesturing to his crotch and causing half the crew to roll their eyes or sigh.
"You'd need an X-ray to tell they aren't human, though they can't get pregnant," Xander said, "but getting one to have a sex doll would be like buying a ship because you need some place to store your camping gear."
"How many people does it take to operate one?" Simon asked, thinking of how complicated their systems would have to be to mimic a human body to that degree.
"They aren't remote control, they have onboard AI," Xander replied.
"B-but even the Alliance hasn't cracked true AI!" Simon exclaimed.
Xander shrugged. "I haven't told them."
"But you told us," Malcolm said.
"And are you going to tell them?" Xander asked, having no idea what the Alliance was but could easily tell they didn't like them.
"Well, no," Malcolm admitted.
"Most people never even realize a T-800 isn't human, much less that I built them," Xander said, seeing a way to skate around the truth. "The usual assumption is that I kidnapped someone and brainwashed them, so anyone who hires a bodyguard from me tends to be… respectful of my privacy."
"And if River hadn't been a reader we wouldn't know either," Kaylee said.
"So you hire out robots as guards, make a good amount of money from their wages, enough to retire at your age… and just decided to go traveling and see the verse," Malcolm puzzled out.
"IF you had all the money you'd ever need, what would you do?" Xander asked.
"Fix up the ship, continue flying," Malcolm replied easily.
"Same," Kaylee offered.
"It is quite a nice way to travel," Simon said, taking hold of Kaylee's hand.
"I don't see much reason not to keep on doing what we're doing," Zoe said, "probably be a bit pickier about the jobs we took though."
"Drown myself in whores," Jayne said firmly.
Xander laughed. "Best kidnapper ever," he said once more.
Typing By: Abyssal Angel