Sailing Beyond the Sunset, pt 03
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

With Jayne shot and a train car ripe for the taking, the crew springs into action once more.


with apologies to Robert Heinlein for the bastardization of one of his titles…

previous story segments: pt 01,pt 02

- - - - -

“GORRAMIT that ruttin’ hurts!” yelled Jayne into everyone’s ear. "I’m hit Mal, at least three places. Can you get us the hell out of here NOW ?!?!?”

Good. If he was screaming and cussing, at least he was alive.

Mal looked down at the coupling, then kicked at the switch that would release the last car from the rest of the train.

The switch didn’t move.

Mal kicked again. Nothing.

More sounds of gunfire from above, and footsteps above his head. A leg clad in BDU camo stepped directly on the joint between the cars, pushing right through and kicking Mal in the head, knocking him to the ground. When he hit, bracing himself on his hands, he saw the problem with the release catch. Something had been jammed in there to prevent it from accidentally coming loose.

He drew his pistol, aimed for half of a second, then shot out the metal jam, the release opening automatically, causing the car to shake and slow down and start to descend.

“We’re free River, get some sky under us!” Mal shouted, getting inside the car and bracing himself against two large crates, hoping they were securely fastened.

Serenity slowly rose in the air, an entire rail car dangling below her. The owner of the leg that had fallen through had turned to grab the other car as this one started to rise, and he and another mercenary looked dumbfounded as the car was carried up and away from the track, toward the mountains that would be its new temporary home.

Getting in the air was one hurdle they had overcome, but now came damage assessment, not to mention locating and stopping the third mercenary before he could get to Jayne. The car was also only held on securely by three of the four chains, with Jayne’s body and harness being a human link in the fourth.

“River, is there still a guy on the roof of this car besides Jayne?”

“Yes, and he is working on getting to him right now.”

Mal, thinking quickly and doing the less dangerous of the two things he could think of, moved to the center of the car, climbing up on a crate.

“Zoe, come brace my legs. I have no idea how this go tsao de box is going to float with only 3 chains attached, though it seems like Jayne either got the fourth one or is holding on damn well.”

Zoe braced Mal’s legs from below as he reached up and started removing bolts in the ceiling. After only a moment, he had removed the ceiling panel, dropping it down to Zoe so it did not make enough noise to alarm the man above. With any luck, he was already past the panel and didn’t hear it being opened.

Mal stuck his head out to look, and sure enough, the mercenary was above, making his way toward Jayne. Mal grabbed a length of rope, not wanting to shoot for fear of putting another bullet into Jayne, and quickly formed a lasso.

“River, give me a hard right bank, then hold her as steady as you can for about one minute,” he said, climbing out and securing himself. He saw the mercenary bringing his gun to bear right as the ship banked, almost throwing the man off, and as he brought his gun back up to aim at Jayne Mal tossed the lasso, wrapping around the man’s arms before pulling it tight.

He dropped the gun over the side of the car as he struggled to free himself. Mal, who had been doing this since just after he learned to walk, held tight, using the tension in the rope to hold himself steady as he adjusted his attaching cable, he moved toward the man. Once there, a quick blow to the head eliminated any further resistance as Mal disconnected the man’s grapple and dragged him back to the hole. Zoe was halfway out of the car now, holding the other end of the rope, and as Mal got closer she pulled the slightly conscious man down into the car to secure him.

Mal slowly moved back to where Jayne was as River flew them high into the mountains.

- - -

Inara landed her shuttle at the High Inquisitor’s flat deep in the heart of Ares, the capital city. Her purpose here was twofold. This was the first client she had been able to take since the horrific events on the moon a few weeks ago, and she was happy to return to the life of being on the move, seeing more and more of the universe. The girls at the training house understood, some of them a lot better than she did herself. She still wasn’t sure exactly why she decided to stay, letting her heart make the choice instead of her brain.

She loved Serenity. She loved the people that lived on Serenity, even Jayne with his crude remarks and Mal with his incessant pestering and snide ‘whoring’ remarks. She had missed them all in the months she spent at the training house, and now the cosmos had aligned to bring her right back here. Home. She sighed with a smile and started to land, seeing the Inquisitor awaiting her on the landing pad.

Her other purpose for being here, though she would never admit it to him, was to make sure that she could smooth things out for Mal, if need be. That man frustrated her to no end, and had hurt her on more than one occasion, something else she would never admit to him, but she felt compelled to make sure that he stayed safe, well, safer. Was it just that she wanted to make sure she had Serenity, her home, to return to, or was it that she actually cared for the man in a way that she had never cared for any man, or woman for that matter?

She cleared her thoughts as the landing thrusters cut off, and stood to smooth her dress. It was one of her favorite little geisha outfits, deep reds accenting her features, with her hair up in a tight bun held by one chopstick. Her face melted softly into her Companion smile as she proceeded to open the door and welcome the Inquisitor.

- - -

Jayne was caught in the chains, the tension making it impossible to free him until they landed. He was lucky to be wearing such a sturdy harness, or he might have been ripped in half. As Mal looked him over, he saw blood coming from his upper right arm and from a spot where his left leg met his torso. Neither looked particularly, bad, but Mal was sure that they hurt more’n a little. Doc would patch him up as soon as everyone got back on the ship.

River set the car down on a plateau in the mountains that was mostly obscured from view, hovering over it until Mal could get the chains unhooked to let Simon reel them in. She landed the ship as Mal and Zoe fought to support a struggling Jayne, while at the same time trying to free him from his entanglement. Eventually, they got him loose, and stretched him out on top of the train car. As soon as Serenity had landed, Simon and Kaylee came running out of the cargo bay, Simon with his ever-present medkit, and Kaylee wearing a look of concern and carrying the stretcher.

They managed to get Jayne onto the stretcher and down off the top of the car. They carried him into the infirmary, despite his protests that it was just a gorram nick and he was fine. Simon turned on the light as Mal and Zoe pulled away the halves of the stretcher. Simon looked first at his shoulder, where the bullet had hit flesh and muscle but no bone, and passed straight through, leaving a decently clean-cut exit wound. Moving to the other side, he checked the upper leg, relieved to see that it was only a graze.

“You got lucky, ya know?” Simon said to Jayne as he began cleaning the shoulder wound. “It looks like a pretty high powered rifle, and if they had hit bone in either location you would be in a world of trouble.” Jayne grumbled to himself as Simon continued cleaning the wounds, applying a basic dressing to the leg wound before starting the stitches in his shoulder.

- - -

Zoe, Mal, Kaylee, and River searched the rail car swiftly but thoroughly. They had already discovered that they made out a lot better than they thought on this job. The primary cargo had already been located, 3 long, wide boxes that had been half the length of the car. Mal smirked when he had seen them, these large boxes being the reason for their taking of the entire car. Each one contained a very large antenna, taken off of previously used Alliance cruisers, which would now be used to receive Alliance-free broadwaves on some planet or moon out here, wherever he could sell them.

Zoe had relocated the mercenaries to an area in plain sight outside of the rail car, they still being unconscious from Simon’s medication. Mal heard a squeal of delight from Kaylee, inside the car, and ran over to make sure no one was hurt.

“Look what River found, Captain!” Kaylee nearly shouted, holding open a medium sized crate. Inside was a variety of fresh produce, obviously on its way from some outlying farmland to the planet’s second largest city. It smelled earthy and looked as if it had been freshly dug or picked this morning. There were three other similarly marked crates, as well as an interesting looking refrigeration unit. There were a few more crates and boxes, and most of the rest of the stuff in there was personal baggage, which Mal was not about to search through.

“Zoe, get the mule and come help me with these boxes,” he said as he moved to get a better look at the other crates, River flowing after him. Kaylee was still standing at the produce crates, transfixed, and Mal could swear that he saw her pop something small and bright red into her mouth out of the corner of his eye.

River, who had gone ahead of Mal, let out a loud shriek and dropped to the floor, covering her ears with her hands, nails digging into her scalp.

“Get out of my head, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!” she screamed to no one in particular.

“Kaylee, go get the doc. KAYLEE!” Mal yelled as River kept repeating herself.

Kaylee ran out to find Simon as River changed her screaming to a singsong chant that Mal had heard before.

“Two by two, hands of blue, two by two, hands of blue…”

Mal was genuinely dumbfounded as to what to do. He didn’t want to upset the girl further, and he didn’t know how to calm her down, so he decided that the best course of action was to go and look to see if he could figure out if there was anything back there that had set her off.

“Wuh duh ma huh ta duh fung-kwong duh wai-shung doh! What did you do to her?!?!?” Simon demanded, rushing to River’s side as she continued to chant and rock back and forth.

Mal looked at him indignantly, realizing that he was only saying that because he was worried about his sister. She hadn’t had one of her episodes since before Miranda, and he had been grateful for that. Seeing Simon there comforting her and looking to him for answers, he motioned toward the back of the car. Kaylee came up to hold River as Simon joined Mal at the back of the car, eyes smoldering from his unanswered question. Mal pointed to a box, and Simon’s mouth literally dropped open.

There was a small crate in the back of the car, with the Blue Sun logo plastered all over it. There was also the universal symbol of medicine on one side, along with an itemized inventory. Simon moved to check the list, then turned and looked at Mal. “Where’s your crowbar?” he asked in an excited tone. Mal handed it to him and he hastily opened the crate, Mal stepping back in anticipation of something nasty, which never came. Instead a small sound of glee escaped Simon’s throat as he pulled a complex-looking electronic device from the packing materials.

His face lit up like a boy on Christmas morning who had just gotten the train set his parents told him was too expensive. He was fiddling with the device, and smiling from ear to ear. He reached back into the box, digging through the packing material.

“So, what is it?” Mal asked, a little impatiently, though he had only seen Simon this happy when Kaylee was somehow involved.

Simon looked at him, still grinning, and said, “This, this is a hand-held positronic neural scanner.” He looked up from the device to Mal, the words he just said obviously not finding definitions in Mal’s brain.

“A posi-what neruo-who?” the captain asked, frustrated at the unknown terminology.

“A positronic neural scanner,” repeated Simon. “It makes complex neural scans, analyzing multiple factors through complex combinatorical relations to determine…”

“Doc, what did I tell ya about the medical jargon?”

“It’s a brain scanner,” said a small voice behind them, “A smart brain scanner.”

The both turned to look at River, who had significantly calmed down but was still being held by Kaylee, smiling her eerie little smile up at them.

“What’s she mean, a smart brain scanner?”

“Well, the positronic part is able to make deductions for itself, analyzing data much faster and more efficiently than a human brain. It can take the slightest variations in brain activity and determine if there is a problem there.”

“Shiny,” Mal said flatly, glad that his doctor had a new toy. “Get what you need out of the crate, then take your sister and your new toy and get back on board Serenity. Whole lotta gorram people gonna be wonderin’ where their baggage is about now, so we need to make ourselves no longer present. Leave the luh-suh crate here, we don’t need anything else on board that may trouble the little one.”

She liked the pet names Mal gave her, even though some of them could be taken as an insult, were she not able to see the caring behind them. “Take that one too,” she said softly, pointing at the refrigerated box. “Jayne will really like what’s inside.”

As Simon dug through the small crate, getting out wires and probes and manuals, River took one more look around the car, then shrugged to herself. They left the Blue Sun marked crate empty at the back of the car and made their way back to the ship, the grin still huge on Simon’s face.

“I believe that boy has found something that will give you a run for your money,” he teased Kaylee, who had taken another strawberry out of the crate and was now enjoying it with an immense look of pleasure on her face. She stuck her very red tongue out at him. “Let’s stop eating this stuff and get it on the boat.” Zoe, Kaylee and Mal loaded up the mule and got the 4 crates and refrigeration unit into the cargo bay.

Mal went out and splashed some water in the faces of the bound mercenaries.

“Drink this, it’s water,” he said to the men. “The heat up on these rocks can get pretty intense, and I wouldn’t want you dying after all the trouble we went through to not kill you.”

After giving each of the men several swallows of water, he went to a device and pressed a few buttons, the LEDs on the panel lighting up.

“Why didn’t you kill us?” the biggest of the three asked.

“Cuz we ain’t murderers, just thieves. Maybe if the opportunity ever comes up, you’ll repay the kindness. There’s enough killin’ in this ‘verse without our adding to it. Your companions will be here soon enough to retrieve you.”

He turned on the beacon, then walked up the ramp into Serenity, the cargo bay door closing behind him. The ship took off and headed for the other side of the planet, avoiding the major cities.

Jayne was limping around the crates in the cargo bay as Mal walked up.

“Doc said I was real lucky, coulda been maimed or kilt by those guys. We really gonna leave them alive?”

“Yes,” Mal said, taking a seat on a crate of produce. “We don’t need someone else after us on a revenge mission, and maybe they’ll take heed and do the same for someone.”

“Y’ain’t getting soft on us, now are ya captain?” Jayne smirked, limping toward the large refrigerated box.

“What in the devil are you doin’?” Mal asked, changing the subject. “If your gorram leg hurts so bad why don’t you stay off of it for a while?”

“Well, ya see, I would Captain, ‘cept our crazy pilot girl told me there was something I would really like in it before she got us in the air, and I’m more’n a mite curious.”

Mal stood up and walked over to help Jayne get the box open. They opened it up, and it was their turn to make open-mouthed stares. The box contained dozens of steaks, looking like they had been cut fresh no more’n a day ago. They both gawked for another minute, then Mal regained his senses enough to close the box and keep the cool air in, until they could be properly stored and/or cooked.

Mal smiled, “Overall, today was a good day.” Jayne nodded in agreement, his wounds already beginning to heal from the skilled touch of their medic. “Now, let’s get Inara and get off this rock before someone comes lookin’ for us.”

- - -

River doubled back once or twice to be sure that they weren’t being followed, then brought the ship to a rest near a grove of trees outside of Ares. Simon, still staying close to her to make sure she was ok, was deep into reading the manuals for his new toy. She smiled at him, then stood up to wander around the ship while they waited for Inara. Simon knew she was doing much better, but he still hadn’t been able to get her to talk about what they did to her. He did know that it was somehow connected to the Blue Sun Corporation, which was a step in the right direction. Maybe one day he would be able to figure out how the largest commercial company in the ‘verse was connected to the government’s top secret program that had done such horrible things to his sister.

- - -

Inara was pleased that nothing had interrupted her session with the Inquisitor. Hopefully that meant that everything had gone ok with the job and that everyone was safe. She bid him a fond farewell and took off, headed for home. She was docked and ready to go within twenty minutes, and decided to take a short nap before venturing out into the ship.

- - -

River sat on the girders above the bridge, out of sight of anyone who didn’t know exactly where to look. Right now, there was a course set for Persephone, so she was free to get out of the chair and move about. Truthfully, sitting in the chair made her a little sad, because of the happy memories of Wash in that chair and the realization that there would not be any new ones. Thinking about it, River would have never imagined in a million years that she would be on a pirate ship in deep space, far away from her "home." No, Serenity was her home, it had just taken her 17 years and a lot of tribulations to find it. She did miss her father though, even though Simon had said that he would never come looking for them. Somewhere, deep down inside, she knew this to be not true.

She looked down as Zoe walked onto the bridge, alone. This was a common occurrence, at least once a 'day'. She just stood and stared out into the deep Black, focused completely inwards. River knew that she missed Wash somethin‘ fierce, but had never talked to her about it. River knew a lot of things about every person on this ship, most of which never made it into a conversation.

"I think it's good that you miss him," River said softly. "It shows how much you really love him."

Without turning, Zoe said tersely through pursed lips, "Don't make it hurt any less."

River could feel the intense hatred inside Zoe, mostly directed at the reavers and the Alliance for making them, but an ever so slight fraction of it was aimed at Mal. Did she really blame him for Wash's death? No, she blamed the Alliance for it, but River did feel the slightest bit of it directed at Mal.

"We'll get them, or what's left of them." River said, pulling an image of the Alliance logo to the forefront of Zoe's brain.

Silence. Hatred. Rage. All contained within the cool outer shell that was Zoe. River had hardly talked to her since setting foot on the ship, and Zoe wasn't sure that she wanted to change that at the moment. Zoe headed back down the hall to the dining room, leaving River alone with the all-encompassing Black.

- - - - -

pt 04

- - - - -

Translations ( from ):

go tsao de – dog-humping

wuh duh ma huh ta duh fung-kwong duh wai-shung doh - holy mother of god and all her wacky nephews

luh-suh - garbage


Wednesday, May 3, 2006 8:44 AM


oh my, this... this is good

I like that river freaked out and that she got the box for Jayne

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 9:51 AM


This is so well written, I can really see it unfold in my mind. Keep up the good work :-)

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 3:04 PM


Holy shite, River. Ummmm, you're gettin' better every chapter. I got lost in this one, and tried to slow my eyes at the reading of it more and more as the end neared. Give me more and make it soon, okay?

Fave lines: "Her face melted softly into her Companion smile as she proceeded to open the door and welcome the Inquisitor." melted softly--lovely and just like her.

“I believe that boy has found something that will give you a run for your money,” he teased Kaylee, who had taken another strawberry out of the crate and was now enjoying it with an immense look of pleasure on her face. She stuck her very red tongue out at him.--LOFreakin'L. Perfectly done, Mal and Kaylee. (And River, Author-Extraordinaire.)

Thursday, May 4, 2006 11:40 AM


Better and better. Strawberries! Jayne getting shot in the leg again! Mal being all sensible about killing people! Love it.

More please. Update soon!

Friday, May 5, 2006 6:55 PM


Another wonderful chapter, River! Have to love Mal's chain-yanking of Kaylee concerning Simon's new obsession over the positronic neural imager:)

And have always thought River and Zoe should chat more. Both could help each other out...


Monday, May 22, 2006 5:00 PM


Getting really good.

Favorite lines:

1.Jayne was caught in the chains, the tension making it impossible to free him until they landed. *Jayne always seems to end up as a link in a chain...very spiritual if I do say so myself.

2.Kaylee was still standing at the produce crates, transfixed, and Mal could swear that he saw her pop something small and bright red into her mouth out of the corner of his eye. *I love it when writers throw a little nugget in, great job*

3.“A posi-what neruo-who?” the captain asked, frustrated at the unknown terminology. *So Mal - great character capture*

moving on to episode 4


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From Bad to Worse, chapters 1-10 (COMPLETE)
This is a re-post from before the BSR got hit a few weeks ago.

The story takes place in between ‘The Train Job’ and ‘Bushwhacked.’ According to Inara, there is a three-ish month gap here, so I thought it would be perfect for this little story and its epilogue.

From Bad to Worse, pt 10
Thrilling heroics ensue.

From Bad to Worse, pt 09
Mal, Zoe, and Jayne come to the rescue, and backup from the engine room arrives.

From Bad to Worse, pt 08
Claire is put to the ropes, though the cavalry is on the way.

From Bad to Worse, pt 07
Mal, Jayne, and Zoe make their way back to Serenity, and Claire and her posse run into even more troubles.

From Bad to Worse, pt 06
The fighting is ended for now, though revenge is on more than one person's mind.

From Bad to Worse, pt 05
The feds arrive, a shootout involving the BDHs and Claire's posse ensues.

From Bad to Worse, pt 04
The gold is recovered, and a getaway is planned.

Sailing Beyond the Sunset, pt 17
Several crew members dwell on things past while one reunion is made and a wave from an old aquaintence is received.

From Bad to Worse, pt 03
The crews search the wreckage for their valuable treasure as Wash and Book attempt some thrilling heriocs.