Sailing Beyond the Sunset, pt 06
Monday, May 8, 2006

The crew talks about the findings, River looks back, and Jayne starts some trouble.


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

previous story segments: pt 01,pt 02,pt 03,pt 04,pt 05

- - - - -

“Do you know what it is you’re carrying?” Mr. Universe’s voice rang clearly in Mal’s head. Honestly, he was still unsure as to the complete answer to that question. She was a troubled girl, no doubt about that, but also a very gifted girl. He could see why the Alliance would want to do what they did, though he disagreed with their mentality of making people “better.”

The horrific deaths he had heard of from Badger were still vividly fresh in his mind, making him wonder what possibly could do that to a man. Upon returning to Serenity, and quickly getting off the planet, he had checked the Cortex for any verification he could find. There were several news stories, a couple of them linked to similar findings on Ariel. Wuh de ma, that was the night they had robbed that hospital. All of the feds that had captured Simon and River had died in the same horrific way as the people on Persephone. Mal got chills up his spine as he remembered the cold feeling in the pit of his gut as he shot open the door to reveal Jayne, Simon, and River.

Jayne. Mal still couldn’t bring himself to trust him fully, not after the job on Ariel. He had proven himself time and again in combat, but when it came down to it, he was a mercenary, and money was his ultimate love. Mal didn’t think there was any danger of Jayne pulling a stunt like that again, knowing the details that Badger had told them. He just hoped that damned fool had enough sense not to try and make a run for it on his own. Even a mercenary needs someone to watch his back.

He’d also seen a report of a similar nature from that luh-suh wreck of a space station that Amnon had his mail franchise on. And it had been the entire area around his booth. The images he found that were associated with the reports were crude, but detailed enough to forever burn the sordid scenes into his cranial vault. He stood, his shoulders heavy, and went to find the others.

- - -

Mal went into the dining room where everyone but River was waiting, several of them drinking coffee or tea. Mal walked in, poured himself some coffee, and spent fifteen minutes telling them everything that he knew. Kaylee had let out a cry when he described the bodies, and Inara had even had to cover her mouth to stifle a little gasp.

“It’s obvious to me that they are following us, and it would seem that they are after anyone that has had contact with any of us, not just River and Simon. I don’t know who or what is doing this, but my main concern is how it does it.”

With the end of that remark, five pairs of eyes turned as one to look at the young doctor.

With arms crossed, brow furrowed in thought, Simon didn’t realize that he was the center of attention until Kaylee gave him a sharp nudge with her foot.

“Uhhh, well,” he started hesitantly. “...I can think of several possible plausible causes. The most likely one, in my mind, is a very fast acting virus that attacks the cellular walls of the blood vessels, weakening them. I can think of three major companies offhand that would have the resources and the lack of ethics capable of pulling that off, and one of them receives over 60% of their research funding from the Blue Sun Corporation, which seems to be River’s focus when she thinks about the facility that they had her in.”

He stopped to take a breath, looking around at the others. The Captain was leaning against a bulkhead, arms crossed and holding his coffee, staring coolly through Simon, deep in concentration. Jayne sat leaned back in a chair, eating an apple off of his favorite knife. Zoe was watching Simon intently, chin resting on a clenched fist. Inara had the poise and posture that was emblematic of her craft, but her eyes showed her true worried inner feelings. Sweet little Kaylee. She was holding her head in her hands, face toward the floor. When she looked up, he could see tears at the corners of her eyes. He looked away, focusing on the table in the middle of the room. He had to finish while he still felt like talking about it.

“Another possible and plausible theory is they are using some very specific frequency of electromagnetic radiation that breaks down the cell walls of the vessels, until the pressure from the blood bursts them. It could be very portable and leave.. no... bio-trace?” Simon looked up, closing his eyes and concentrating. “I don’t know how fine of a precision it would have to be, but theoretically it would be possible if you knew which frequency to use. I could probably figure out the necessary frequency, look it up, calculate the...”

“Doctor, we’re gonna need that in English please, not top three percent genius talk, “ Mal said, his mouth a thin line.

“It seems that the most likely method would actually be some sort of electromagnetic radiation, probably from a handheld device. The virus seems less likely to me, as the feds on Ariel were most likely thoroughly scanned in every manner possible and something like that would definitely leave some sort of residue. That’s the best guess I have at this point in time.”

They all continued to stare at him, stunned into silence. Finally, Mal asked, “Well, what can we do about it?”

“I don’t know Mal, this is all new to me. I need to look into it and think about it some more before I can give you any definite answer.”

“Ok, well you can work on figuring that out. What do the rest of you have to say?”

- - -

River sat, huddled against the cold steel of her box, the dead and mangled guard still in a heap, just as he had been since the moment it happened. She hadn’t heard anyone outside the door, or maybe she couldn’t hear through it. The first time she met them she had felt them before even seeing them anyway, a cold stabbing in her guts. After pulling open the thick doors with blue-gloved hands, they had smiled very eerily at her and assured her that a mistake had been made. They took her to a small room with a bed and even a separate bathroom. She had not made a sound for the entire transfer process, still completely inwardly focused on what she had done to that guard.

As she lay down in the bed, her surroundings and the events leading up to this still completely surreal to her, she had the last happy thought that she would have for two and a half years as a stern voice said, “It’s time to go to sleep.”

‘Simon, save me!’ Her mind cried, already dulled by the medication flowing into her bloodstream.

River woke up in her bed on Serenity with an image of the man still in the forefront of her brain, blue gloves holding a needle to her arm, and a cold sweat soaking her hair and pillow.

- - -

“Don’t make no kinda sense,” Jayne finally said. “Why are we worried about some little device that may or may not be able to do this sort of thing? I mean, a bullet will stop anyone, fancy electo-magnatronic device or not.”

“Jayne, with such a device, they wouldn’t even need to be able to see you. They could be behind anything, even armored walls, and you would be dead before you really knew what was happening.” Simon shot back, frustrated. “The existence of such a device could definitely change the way people fight, though I am thinking that if a device does exist it is very much top secret, even with the crumbling Alliance, so we shouldn’t have to worry about mass production anytime soon, just the one that these people, whomever they are, have.”

“Well what can we do about it?” said Kaylee, fear creeping into her voice. “I don’t wanna just sit around and wait for someone to burst all of my blood vessels.”

“Right now all we can do is keep moving, keep from being caught. I really need to do some serious research, try and find out both who is after us and if a device like the one I described is feasible. If it is, I think I have a way to counteract it. One major thing we can do is just to be extra careful with getting jobs, not dealing with usual contacts and possibly even giving false names or information.”

At the mention of this, Mal frowned, but stayed silent.

Zoe spoke up. “What can we do to help, Simon?” I don’t think a one of us can match with you for brains, at least school-taught brains, but we are good at doing what we are told, for the most part.”

“I could probably use some help with the research, which I am must say will involve a lot of reading and not much else. I can show you what to read, and you will basically look for anything out of the ordinary. Well, more out of the ordinary than the deaths.”

“How far do you think their intelligence goes as far as who we are or what we do?” Inara asked the room in general. “Is it safe to keep my appointment, or should I call now and cancel?”

“I don’t know how much they know about us, but no one knew we were coming to Boros besides your client, so I think it would be safe to keep your appointment. Just keep your eyes open and don’t take any unnecessary risks, and if anything looks fishy get out of there as fast as you can.” Mal gave Inara a look of genuine concern then looked back to the others.

“As for the rest of you, make sure your jobs on the ship are taken care of. If they are, spare some time to give Simon a hand so we can be as prepared as possible for whatever is out there.”

- - -

River lay in her bed, half awake, but unable to make herself sleep again. Through blurred vision she saw blue handed men, in a ship, searching. She saw a planet completely annihilated by a supernova, and the splitting of cells to form new life. As a hazy, fitful sleep began to come over her again, she saw another ship in the Black, and...daddy?

- - -

They landed on Boros, blending in with the crowd of spaceships already docked there, at least one of which was another Firefly. Simon and Kaylee left to get some supplies and re-fuel the ship as Jayne, Zoe, and Mal headed into the busy streets to find the contact.

They made their way to the bar they were told to meet him at, being extra cautious along the way. Once at the bar, they double- and triple-checked their surroundings, Simon’s talk on the ship having had an effect on all of them. They entered, checking their guns and choosing seats that let them see everyone, and waited. After a few minutes, Mal went up to the bar, ordering three beers and another drink he had trouble pronouncing. Paying the bartender, he carried the drinks back to the table, passing out the beers and setting the fourth drink in the middle of the table.

Several minutes passed in silence, each of them lost in their own thoughts and beverage. A man passing by with an armful of drinks tripped and fell into Mal, spilling the drinks on the floor as his shoulder hit Mal’s chest. Apologizing, the stranger stood himself up, cursed the drinks now flowing across the floor, and headed back to the bar to get more. They continued drinking in silence until finally Jayne said, “Captain, if you’re not going to drink that, can I have it?”

Mal turned his head slightly, giving Jayne a careful stare before nodding. Jayne scooped up the cup, downing half of the red liquid in one gulp, then turned and spit it out, covering another patron in it. “What the hell was that shiong mao niao?”

As Mal turned to answer him, a slight smile on his face, a huge meaty fist slammed across Jayne’s face, knocking him clean out of his chair. Mal looked up at the owner of the fist, who was half covered in the drink Jayne had spit upon him moments before. He was easily Jayne’s size, a bit bulkier around the midsection, and wearing an interesting shirt that was faded green and grey and more than a little dirty. Several other men around the bar had on a similar shirt, and though they didn’t get up, Mal could see their grips on their drinks tighten.

Zoe was on her feet before Jayne even hit the floor, one leg snaking out behind the large man as she shoved her shoulder into him, knocking him back onto his table. Seven men around the room stood up, a couple of them pulling knives and a few more breaking beer bottles, all of them moving toward Mal and the others threateningly…

- - -

This section is another one based on a fic that I have read and liked where it was going and decided to expound upon it. The stories can be found here: Journey Home and Journey Home: Chapter One. The author is Rielpryn . I recommend reading both before continuing.

“Ya got any more good war stories, Captain?”

“Please, call me Monty. An’ I could tell you war stories all night long, seein’ as I can’t sleep.”

Grace stepped up into the galley, stopping behind the counter to grab a glass, then joined Monty at the table. He had a bottle of bourbon in front of him, roughly one third empty, and his revolver was in pieces on an oily rag next to it. He was wearing his browncoat, as he always did, and absentmindedly stroking his chin.

“D’ya mind?” she asked, nodding toward the bottle.

“No, help ya’self, ‘ere, I’ll getcha yer first.” He gracefully swept up the bottle, poured a good double in his glass, then poured her an equal shot. Setting the bottle down as he scooped up his glass, “Cheers.”

They both sipped the bourbon in silence for a second, Monty enjoying a guilty pleasure, Grace enjoying a taste she had not tasted in more than ten years. After another moment, Monty cleared his throat and began.

“Me an’ Mal and Zoe were stationed together on Boros in the war. There were three other with us, backed into a ruined building by some skirmishers. Mal n’ Zoe rigged together some explosives, sat it with a pressure plate in the middle of the room, then we all fell back to the rear of the house. Those purplebellies came running in, rank n’ file as they tend to, and by the time the third one had stepped on the plate the first one realized what it was and stopped. Blew all five of ‘em up at once, an’ quite a site to see.”

Monty laughed heartily, a warm noise that filled the room. Grace laughed along with him, his laugh being very contagious. Being around this guy just made her want to be happy, which she would be when she found out a little more about Mal.

“When’s the last time you saw ‘em?” she asked, downing the last of her bourbon. She grabbed the bottle and poured a little more for her, refilling his glass at his request as well.

“Last time I saw Mal, hell, that wus when I found out about Bridget, that lying space whore. That sumbitch prob’ly saved my life that night, me’n everyone on this ship. I suppose I owe him a wave at least, see if he’s still alive, tell ‘em thankee…”

Grace sipped her bourbon as Monty started into another story involving Mal and a mysterious lack of clothing…

- - - - -

pt 07

- - - - -

Translations ( from ):

wuh de ma – mother of god

luh-suh – garbage

shiong mao niao – panda urine


Monday, May 8, 2006 12:29 PM


Me like story, me want more story... why not more story *grunt*

no but seriously, who's grace, now I'm all worried for monty... *bites nails nervously*

Monday, May 8, 2006 12:42 PM


So often in fic, Simon doesn't sound right when speaking medical jargon. He does here. Well done.

Monday, May 8, 2006 2:09 PM


I'm with ducky, WANT MORE! :D

Monday, May 8, 2006 2:21 PM


I've read them all and I really like it !!!! Yes More please !!!

Monday, May 8, 2006 3:30 PM


RiverIsMyGoddess, this line could be describing you: "Monty laughed heartily, a warm noise that filled the room. Grace laughed along with him, his laugh being very contagious. Being around this guy just made her want to be happy..."

Excellent Simon-izing. His voice as you wrote him is spot on. The part where you gave us snippets of the cast, each in a listening pose? Masterful speaking in each of their voices without using dialogue.

Love this chapter. As always when I read ya, the only thing wrong with it is it's never long enough. Give me more, lest I pine away for want of you.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 3:03 AM


Hasn't been as well written as the others. Still, I can't wait until the next installment! Well, I can, but you know what I mean.

Keep it up!

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 9:00 AM


I love Simon's speech, spot on! This is getting really interesting :-)

Monday, May 22, 2006 6:19 PM


Like I've said before River you do a wonderful job of capturing the character, just like we know'em.

on to chapter 7


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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.