In sunshine and in Shadow Part Nine
Saturday, May 6, 2006

The finale.


I thought getting the story started was hard; getting the end sorted out is way harder!

The Firefly characters are someone else’s property, I am not getting paid for this.

All reviews welcome.


Mal and Chilli couldn’t get a shot, Marie was shielding too much of Samson’s body, Al was dazed by the impact with the bars, Jayne had no useable weapon and Inara and Kaylee had no weapons at all.

Samson’s eyes flicked round the room, “You girl,” he nodded at Kaylee, “bring me a gun, one of the sheriffs would be nice; or I slit this Jezebel’s throat.”

Kaylee flicked hyper anxious eyes at Mal; he gave an almost imperceptible nod.

She walked over to Chilli and tugged one of his pistols from its holster.

“Hand it to me, butt first; no…” Samson shook his head and smiled, “you put your hand through the bars, I don’t want one of your friends to try and grab me.”

‘Damn!’ Thought Mal, he had hoped that Samson would stick his hand through the bars allowing one of them to snag him.

Marie was balanced precariously on the bunk, Mal could see that the strain of keeping herself halfway upright with the extra weight of her five months pregnancy was beginning to tell.

Priority number one, get Marie away from Samson.

“Now girl,” Said Samson taking the gun from Kaylees trembling hand, “press the button to open the cell door.”

Kaylee obeyed, the door opened with a shush and a clang.

“Everybody drop your weapons.”

There was a series of thuds as they all complied.

“Now into an empty cell, other than my beautiful wife of course.” Samson gestured at Al, “pick up the girl and take her with you.”

Once they were all inside the cell, Samson removed the knife from Marie’s neck, and levelled Chillis gun at her back instead. He backed out of his cell until he reached the buttons controlling the cell doors, locking everyone other than Marie into the cell.

Marie had dropped down onto the bunk; her breath heaving, eyes focussed on Chilli’s. Bizarrely they smiled at each other. Samson held out a hand, “Shall we go my dear?”

Marie got of the bunk with surprising grace, she undid the bolts of the jail door as Samson directed and they walked out.

Jayne kicked a handy and fortunately empty chamber pot across the floor. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Owen Thomas was heading towards the jail followed by twelve heavily armed men moving in formation, gun’s at the ready.

Many of the townspeople seeing the Bravo’s moving with a purpose became afraid again and gathered their kin indoors.

Some braver souls followed at a safe distance, some just wanting to see what would happen, some trying to gather their bravery together to make a stand.

The followers included every damn Whore from the Cat House, led by Auntie Meg resplendent in lime green satin and a dashing blonde wig.


“I’m sorry Captain.” Cried Kaylee, Mal kissed the top of her head, “twernt your fault.” He looked round, “So what do we do?”

Unnoticed Chilli had been scrabbling though his pockets, he gave a triumphant whoop and pulled out a small rounded device.

“We use the remote control.” Chilli pressed a button.


River was near dragging her brother along, clutching his arm in one hand and Lucius’ gun in the other, muttering “All jaggedy, nasty idea’s revolving, people get hurt what ever I do, hurry…hurry…hurry.”


Samson stood a moment not ten steps outside the jail and looked up at the sun, now high in the sky.

He became aware that Owen Thomas was standing before him, the goon’s at his back.

“You have failed me Galahad, my wife slipped away from your protection and see where it has led.”

Owen’s eyes flicked from Samson’s face to Marie’s.

“Seemed the thing to do Mr. Samson, thought you might want your men, thought you might want springing from the jail… Guess I was wrong.”

“You are not the man I thought you were … I…” Samson caught Owen’s eyes flick over his shoulder and looked behind him.

What he saw caused him to turn fast, dragging Marie before him, the gun still pressed into her back.

Mal, Chilli and Al stood out in front of the jail, Kaylee stood behind them dwarfed by every one of Jayne’s spare guns with all the ammo belts slung every which way round her, there was a thrum of an engine and round the corner came the junk yard gunship, wobbling a little under Inara’s inexperienced hands; Jayne riding the back, Vera in her cradle.

From the right came Zoë and Agnes, from the left River and Simon.

Samson looked at them all, looked up at the sun again and laughed, “High Noon,” he muttered, just loud enough for Marie to hear.

Chilli’s gun was in Samson’s right hand, Al’s knife in his left.

Mal remembered it slow. Syrup from a jar slow.

Samson raising the knife, Marie’s eyes wide with horror.

Chilli and Al, as one; launching themselves at Samson.

Jayne sputtering bullets, driving back the goons.

The Townspeople running, throwing themselves in the dirt.

Zoë and Agnes shooting goons, back to back.

Owen falling, a bullet in his calf.

Samson shooting Chilli.

Chilli flying, like a puppet yanked by a string, blood blooming on his shirt.

Marie twisting, screaming, crimson flowing across her neck, her dress flying and floating.

Mal straining for a clear shot, the women in the way.

Marie clawing at Samson, him slapping her down.

River dancing among the goons:

A foot in the gut,

A spin,

The heel of a hand to a nose,

A twist,

An arm bent to the point of dislocation.

Inara screaming, a Goon trying to drag her from the Mule, Jayne diving at him from above.

Simon dragging Chilli out of the melee.


Al got a couple of punches in before Samson knocked her flat; and went for her with her own knife.

Mal raised his gun to shoot, but Jayne and an unfortunate Goon cannoned into him sending him sprawling, Mal’s gun spiralling away.

Mal sprang up, got a punch to Samson’s jaw.

Samson slashed at him with the knife, Mal hit him in the gut, aimed a round house punch to finish the deal but his left leg gave way and he went down, a long slash through the muscles of his thigh…

Samson had got him with the knife,

Zoë flew to battle, slamming the butt of her rifle into Samson’s gut, putting him on the ground.

Al’s knife skittered away.

Zoë the calmest and most self possessed fighter Mal Reynolds had ever known; lost herself.






Finally, Zoë un-holstered her pistol, pointing it straight at Samson’s head.

“So many monsters in the ‘Verse, so many can’t help themselves, what’s your excuse?” She cocked the gun.

Samson, finding a reserve of strength from somewhere grabbed her ankle and pulled. Zoë went over hard, stunning herself. He forced himself to a kneeling position and placed the barrel of the gun neat between Zoë’s eyes.

Mal unable to stand was dragging himself towards them; Al shaking her ringing head was fumbling for a knife that wasn’t there.

A hand snaked round Samson’s neck and yanked up his chin.

Al’s knife flashed in the sunlight…

Samson’s eyes flew wide, and then he was gone, face down in the dirt, blood gushing as his heart pumped uselessly.

And there is Owen Thomas, one hand now clamped to the freely bleeding wound in his calf, Al’s knife hanging loosely in the other, eyes locked with Mal.


Great chunks of ‘tight spots,’ are remembered blurry, but snippets get recorded clear and detailed, sometimes big and important things, sometimes tiny things, all jumbled up. These things stuck with Mal:

Inara, a great rent in her dress holding a pad to his wound, the sunlight on her face as she looked up at him.

The clump of dirt in the back of Zoë’s hair.

Kaylee running somewhere.

Jayne thumping a goon who was too stupid to stay down.

River collecting the goons guns, Agnes on guard, rifle ready.

Dennis Baedillion-Treahearne trying to comfort the wounded of both sides.

Al yelling at the townsfolk, “BLANKETS, HOT WATER, BANDAGES, MOVE!” clutching a cloth full of ice to her head.

Owen drawing pictures in the dirt with Al’s knife, a handkerchief tied round his wound.

Simon leaving Chilli in the dirt, feeling no pain, nothing more to do. Turning his attention to the wound in Mal’s thigh, sealing it quickly and moving on.

Marie holding Chilli’s hand white knuckled, His head in her lap pressed to her swollen belly, his breathing noisy.

Marie talking quietly to Chilli, stroking his hair “Samson’s dead honey, he’s dead, he’s gone, we’re ok now.”

Chilli twitching, smiling up at Marie foggy eyed, croaking “Baby just kicked me in the ear…” right before he died.


The jail got turned into an infirmary, Dr Downing in charge. She tried to protest when Simon took over her office to treat Mal, Owen, and Marie, but Agnes got her cooperation.

Owen got seen too first, got the bullet dug out of his thigh.

Marie had stitches inserted into the shallow slash on her neck, Agnes took her home.

Mal had the sealant removed from his thigh wound and the muscle and skin painstakingly stitched together.

The Ran’s where still there, Zhimu and Maokun proved to be fine nurses, as did Inara, she gave him the best medicine, pulled the screens round, climbed into Mal’s bed and held him tight until Simon came in to sedate Mal for the night and made her leave.


At around two am Al walked into the Doctors Office and found Lizzie Appleby tending a great pan of broth on a portable stove.

“Hey Lizzie, that smells something good, can you spare a bowl?”

“Sure nuff, Miss Allana, here.”

Al took a spoonful and gave a heavy blissful sigh.

“Bin talking to your Auntie Meg, tell’s me your gonna take up cooking professional, you need a recommendation you got one.”

Lizzie smiled wide, the gap in her teeth shocking in the dull light. Al caught her chin, tilted her face up until she could see the damage better.

“Din’t see you in the fight, how d’ya get that?”

“Weren’t nothing.” Lizzie pulled her face away, smile gone.

Al shrugged finished the broth and went next door to the infirmary.

Part of Mal’s screen was back, she could see he was sleeping. In the next bed Owen was lying still awake; his face telling her his wound was hurting.

He gave her a penetrating look, focussed mainly on her head.

“Why in hell you wearing that god damn ugly hat again?”

Al grinned, removed the hat and turned to show him where hair had been shaved to stitch the scalp wound she got from the bars of the cell. She put the hat back on and sat by the bed.

“Why in hell ain’t you got the Doc to give you something for the pain?”

“He’s worrying about his drug stocks, lot of injured people on this rock… What are you doing here?”

“Got some thing’s I was wondering about, thought I might sleep better if I got some answers.”

Owen fidgeted a little, looked a bit pissed.

“Why’d you kill Samson?”

“Saw an opportunity, man was crazy, no profit in working for a crazy man. I came to the jail house with the intention of busting him out and then seeing him dead. Man did half the work for me. Reckoned I could take over where he left of.”

Al gave him a thoughtful look, “The way I see it by the time you took a knife to that piece of shit it was pretty clear that the fight was gonna leave Marie in charge, so either you’re a mighty fuzzy thinker or the last bit’s a lie.”

Owen opened his mouth to say that he was a fuzzy thinker, then thought better of it; he shrugged turning his face away.

“You know what.” Said Al, “I never got to know Marie, she spent most of her life out of town at the big house. But I knew Chilli real well; he was real close to Johnny Diamond, the man who used to wear this hat. Hardest case you’d think to meet, didn’t think much of women; but Marie got to him, from what I’ve seen of her I reckon I can understand it.”

“If you’re getting all sorts of romantic ideas lose them, I admire the woman’s guts is all.”

Al stood up, “I reckon I’ve got a better impression of you than you deserve Mr Thomas but I also reckon you’re a better person than you want to admit.” She shook her head and rubbed her face, “Hell I’m tired, don’t think that made sense at all.”

Al went to leave, but Owen stopped her, “Reckon I’m stuck here a short while, but I’m thinking I may stay around, plenty of opportunities on this rock. Maybe I can learn a few things, reckon I could learn from someone who travelled half across the verse to settle with the men who killed her friend.”

Al scowled, “I aint proud of what I did so don’t admire me for it.” “Why d’ya do it then?”

Al pulled a face, “They killed an old man who didn’t carry a gun for no good reason. Sooner or later there would have been someone else’s Johnny Diamond dead and I couldn’t rest with that. Chilli would have done it but Patience wouldn’t let him go.”

“That’s what I mean; I gotta a lot I can learn round here.”

Al shook her head at him and raised her hand in farewell.

Lizzie Appleby forestalled her, coming in with bowl of broth.

“I… I thought you’d be gone, reckoned Mr. Thomas would like something to eat.”

Al stepped back to let her pass.

Something was wrong, Lizzie Appleby was carrying the bowl awkward, one handed, her other hand hidden in her skirts. She came up to the bed and bent as if to present the bowl to Owen.

The bowl got flung in Owen’s face; he threw up his hands and gave a yell as the scalding broth hit him. Lizzie whipped out her other hand from the folds of her skirts brandishing a knife.

Al grabbed her knife hand from behind before Lizzie could bring it down. They struggled frantically, Al’s strength was at low ebb from lack of sleep and her head wound.


Owen managed to sit up and tried to get a hold on Lizzie, Lizzie threw herself backwards to avoid his hands and she and Al crashed through the curtains straight onto Mal’s bed and his wounded leg.

The noise had stirred Mal from his drugged sleep, now he sat up with a howl and grabbed the first thing that came to hand, the water bottle from the nightstand; and brought it crashing down on Lizzie’s head. The girl collapsed on top of Al who was stuck on top of Mal.


A bleary eyed Simon came belting into the Infirmary. He stood for a second his mouth work uselessly. “What?...How?...”


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ They locked Lizzie up, though not in the jail. Her Auntie Meg came to apologise to Owen, “See her husband used to knock her about something cruel.”

Owen shrugged, “I aint in any position to complain, I hit her right and true.”

“Well I’m damn complaining.” Groused Mal, “Damn girl opened my leg up again, got me more stitches.”


Most wounds were healing by the day of Jacob Chilli Peppers funeral; Mal had a crutch, Owen a cane. The stitches were still in Marie’s neck showing black against the high neck of her white mourning dress.

Al had had her hair cropped all round but the shaved patch still stuck out so she tied a white mourning veil over her head.

Dennis Baedillion-Treahearne read the service well enough; towards the end he fumbled in a pocket and pulled out a much folded piece of paper.

“Er… I have been asked to read… asked to read this…” He looked up at his sister confused.

Al made an impatient noise and took the paper of Dennis’ hand.

“Chilli weren’t a man for reading much, but Johnny Diamond used to quote this poem at him, kind of a joke, and he got to like it. I found this copy in his desk.”

Al took a deep breath and began to read to them all, the crew of Serenity, Marie, Agnes, Owen, Auntie Meg and the Cat house Whores and near every able bodied inhabitant of the town, all in the church yard.

“Gaily bedight, A gallant knight, In sunshine and in shadow, Had journeyed long, Singing a song, In search of Eldorado…” 1


About six months later the crew were picking up the mail, Mal got a letter with a picture in it, Marie standing somewhere sunny with a baby in her arms.

The letter was from Al…

‘The baby came along fine, Marie keeps telling me she looks like Chilli, I loved the guy but I hope she’s wrong. Poor girls name is Níng jìng Allana Agnes Pepper.

‘By the way tell Inara, Owen just brought me a jade green silk dress…’

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1. Poem lyrics of Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe.

Chinese Translations tā - He dòng shǒu - to hit with hands or fists; to start work; to touch zhòu mà - Damn fán nǎo - agonize; agony; annoyance; upset; vexation; worries kuà - thigh; leg níng jìng - tranquil; tranquility; serenity


Friday, July 7, 2006 8:32 AM


A wonderful tale! Surprised by Al and Owen at the end, but after another read of their conversation, it started to make sense.

You may have borrowed the plot from somewhere else, but you truly made it your own. (God, I sound like a judge from American Idol.) :)

More please?


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In sunshine and in Shadow Part Nine
The finale.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part 8
Samson's going to jail, Jayne gets a sandwich.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part 7
A trail leads to a Rat's nest and Chilli finds his guts again.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part Six
Chilli is mostly upright, Samson get's madder by the minute.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part Five
There's a drunk to sort out, River has fun with Jayne (Not the rude kind)and Lizzie Appleby's Auntie turns out to be a right little Madam.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part Four
Mal brings his people to Whitefall, into a situation which looks darker and nastier than before.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part 3
A nice dinner and a little gun fight.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Pt 2
A new passenger has come aboard, Jayne's had one of his itches scratched, a dangerous gunman is due for dinner and something nasty is brewing ready for the crew....

In Sunshine and in Shadow
Plot partially stolen from the favorite Western of my childhood. Please review but be a little gentle, it was written during a bout of insomnia last night.