HEAVEN AND HELL: 12. "Enigma"
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

"Wash is worried by a slowly growing nameless fear. The more that unravels, the more lost and confused the crew of Serenity feel. Only River knows what it means and she isn't telling."



SUMMARY: "Wash is worried by a slowly growing nameless fear. The more that unravels, the more lost and confused the crew of Serenity feel. Only River knows what it means and she isn't telling." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

"What happens now?"

Predictably it was Jayne who said what everyone was thinking but reluctant to ask. The Captain sucked in a slow breath and looked at his brother. They were in the commons area, Pepper Rawlings and his men interspersed among the crew of Serenity as if they were old friends reunited. Funny how it could work out that way. It was an easy meshing of personalities that often came from people with shared experiences, cultures or passions. Simon suspected it was a mix of all three. The Captain was not sitting down but stood with one hand resting on the back of his chair. River stood next to him. Not touching but so close it was almost academic. Her eyes were scanning slowly, taking in every face and looking behind the varied masks that watched and waited with expectation and not a little trepidation. This was, after all, a first step into a wider 'verse. One that was all kinds of dangerous. Not that the Black wasn't a dangerous place anyway but in the past they had always tried to steer clear of trouble. With the coming of Malcolm Reynolds all that had changed.

Malcolm was seated next to the Captain's chair, Zoe next to him and Wash next to Zoe. Simon sat opposite with Porter Knowles and Slim Redding, then it was Jayne, Lenny and Pepper. Turner Watts and Charlie Watson were watching over the three prisoners and Gary Wright lounged by the door, coffee mug in hand. Eyes bright and dark reminding Kaylee of a coiled snake waiting to strike. Didn't ease her thoughts any that he was on their side. Kaylee couldn't sit still, too on edge to settle. She stood, paced a few then stuck her hands in the back pockets of her coveralls and waited while her eyes did the pacing for her. The Captain reached out and drew her close. Automatically she tucked herself against him for a one armed hug, relieved and comforted just by his presence. He kissed the top of her head, his quiet words a murmur of reassurance. "It'll be okay, little Kaylee."

She nodded, relaxed against him. Bit back tears, then tilted her face towards his. "But Inara... You can't, she can't be..." Kaylee stumbled on the words and couldn't go on, tears flooding her eyes.

The hug tightened and the Captain took a deeper breath. "Kaylee, we have to find out what Inara knows. Book too. You know that, *dui*?"

His soft words broke her heart further. The Captain was sharp, knew her so well, knew it was tearing her up into tiny pieces. She nodded because she couldn't speak. Inara was her friend and Kaylee Frye did not desert her friends. Not ever. She still couldn't believe Inara had betrayed them or rather, betrayed the Captain. In a way it was the same thing. Whoever hurt the Captain hurt them. Just thinking on that hardened her heart but then she thought about Inara and melted all over again. Memories tumbling in a cascade of emotion behind eyes suddenly too bright to see. Of all his regrets - and Davy Reynolds had plenty - hurting Kaylee was the one he regretted most.

It was Simon's quiet voice that brought him back on track. "We can't just sit here. You must have plans."

The Captain looked at his brother. River watched the exchange but remained silent. Seeing more than the rest of them put together. All the boxes opening up but if she was careful the contents wouldn't get mixed up. Had to keep them compartmentalised in her mind even as she sifted and sorted and got closer and closer to the enigma trapped inside. Malcolm Reynolds looked at Simon. "You're right, doctor. We do have plans but it don't need to interfere with Davy an' this boat." That surprised almost everybody. He gave Gary a nod and the man immediately left. Jayne frowned.

"Where's he goin'?"

"To fetch Diamond Harry. It's time we started to get some answers."

"So," Jayne said slowly, mulling over the words before speaking them. "Once ya know what he knows we hit 'em, that it?"

Malcolm Reynolds shook his head. "You're not goin' anywhere, Jayne." He glanced around the table. "None of this crew is."

Jayne opened and closed his mouth. He looked surprised and confused. Wash looked at Zoe but she had not taken her eyes off Malcolm Reynolds. It gave him a hollow empty feeling to see such single minded concentration on her face and not have a gorram clue what in *diyu* it meant.

"I want you to carry on doin' exactly what you've been doin'."


Malcolm's head turned, eyes fastening on the doctor's face. "Because while the Alliance is still following the colourful exploits of your good Captain no one will be looking for me."

The Captain said nothing. Wash waited for Zoe to speak up but she didn't. What was it they were not being told? And why wasn't the Captain filling in all the blanks for them? He didn't like it. The taste it left in his mouth was not a pleasant one.

"Now I know you got questions," Said Malcolm. "Some I'll answer, some I can't..."

"More like won't." Murmured Jayne darkly just loud enough that Malcolm Reynolds heard him.

"You're just gonna have to trust me."

"What about the Cap?" Jayne didn't add *what about US?* but it hung in the air between them anyway. Somehow more powerful for being unspoken.

"Jayne..." The Captain's quiet voice stilled the flood of questions the big man wanted answered. Something in his tone making the big man's heart ache.

Just then Gary Wright reappeared pushing and shoving a reluctant and sour Diamond Harry into the room before him. Malcolm Reynolds straightened. They all turned to look at the man. The Captain walked round the table and dragged an empty chair over to Harry. "Best sit. We got us some questions need answerin'."

Harry swallowed hard and stared at him as if expecting to have his throat slit before he could take the chair. The Captain's mild voice prompted the sweat to run down the middle of his back.

"Best not mistake that for a suggestion."

* * * * *

He woke first. Had been conscious now for at least ten minutes but it was easy to pretend he wasn't. He was lying face down on the hard cold floor, hands bound behind his back but feet untied. He lay on his stomach, head turned to one side. From this angle he could see the chair to which Inara was tied, but did not dare raise his head to see if she was alright. Judging by the silence she must be still unconscious. Their guardians were quiet, rarely spoke. That told him more than anything that they had done such duties before. They would be alert and professional. He must not underestimate them. For a moment he concentrated on his breathing, willing himself to get beyond the pain in his head. Knew there would be a lump on the back of his head where he had been struck down but as his nimble mind explored all possibilities that seemed to be the full extent of his injuries. So. Not dead yet. The Captain was weakening.

Inara Serra came to slowly, her mind sluggish and fragmented. It was a painful awakening but not so much in the physical sense. Alarm shot through her as she realised what must have happened. It took all her training to hold the panic at bay. Now she could feel her arms aching, her body still and complaining in the restraints that bound her firmly to the chair. Where was she? Ah. The shuttle. Inara almost smiled until she realised it wasn't her shuttle. No. This was the spare. Less amenities but it had possibilities. Despite her diminished mental acuity she was instantly aware of the Shepherd lying on the cold metal deck. Knew he was awake. Knew also that two men were guarding them, both heavily armed. Not that it would help either one of them if she chose to make her move. The question was if not when.

Charlie Watson was a big bluff man with a shock of curly sandy coloured hair, large deep blue eyes and a ruddy complexion. He had hands like meat plates and despite his build there was not an ounce of fat on him. His eyes were bright and solemn. In an instant she knew he had looked upon the face of *diyu* and knew every demon that inhabited it by name. The thought made her shudder. The blue eyes clouding over with something she could not name but had seen before. Too many times for comfort. An emptiness momentarily reaching out to her and turning her soul into a wasteland gripped in permafrost. She would have shrank back from him if she could. The other man, Turner Watson, was grim faced but his eyes were more sorrowful, compassionate. The kind of man who would still kill you if he had to but would take no pleasure in the killing. The kind of man who would pause to bury you and maybe even say a prayer before passing on. She could imagine him with a family waiting for him. A vast brood of children and a happy loving wife. What need drove him to leave them for a forlorn hope such as this she could not say. Wasn't losing the war once enough? For any of them?

* * * * *

"I can't tell you nothin'." Yelled Harry.

Though no one had laid a hand on him, his imagination was doing handstands. The Captain stepped back as Malcolm Reynolds walked towards them. Malcolm did not look at his brother, his whole attention on the man sitting in the chair sweating like a man on death row. He hunkered down to eye level and stared at him. "Oh you're gonna tell us any gorram thing we wanna know, Harry."

The man's eyes widened in sudden alarm. The Captain stiffened and took another pace back then realising what he was doing stood firm. His lips compressed as if this was another battle and he must hold the line. The room was so quiet it made the ears ache. Harry was staring at Malcolm, looking absolutely terrified.

"Now," Said Malcolm almost conversationally. "About the ring. How did my brother get it?"

Harry's eyes were darting everywhere, trying not to make eye contact with any of them. Malcolm leaned forward and gripped Harry's head in his hands, holding him still and making him look right into his eyes. The man was whimpering now. Not caring how pathetic he sounded. Simon hoped he did not die of fright before telling them anything. "I... I..."

He was fighting it, he really was, but Malcolm Reynolds was stronger than he expected. Harry had recognised what he was seeing the instant he had looked into those eyes. Fear multiplying faster than bacteria. He could hardly hear the frantic beat of his heart; mind and body numb and trembling. The intrusion was slow, deep and inexorable. He could not shut him out. Harry cried, tried to wriggle free but the strong hands held him in a vice like grip. No physical pain. There would be no bruisiing. No shattered bones. No cuts or contusions but he would be broken as surely as if a block of concrete had fallen on his head from a great height. Only one way to survive intact and that was to give in, surrender. The whimper grew louder, tears pricking his eyes as he struggled to hang on. Knowing if he gave this man what he wanted he was dead anyway. No way would the Mother of Sorrows let him live.

"The ring." Said Malcolm softly.

Harry's focus was a distant thing. His mind screaming, his thoughts bright brilliant flares burning to ashes in his head one by one. The mental agony was acute. His will being stripped from him leaving him no resistence to that unrelenting implacable will. "He carried it, told me where to place it."

"Who? Who carried it?"

Though his struggles were weaker he tried to protect the name. Not because of any loyalty to the man but because in the spider's web all strands led back to the lair. And the lair had to be protected at all cost. Malcolm went deeper, aware on the periphery of his consciousness how unsettled his brother was becoming but that could not be helped. Davy was a man now and it was time he knew not only the value of things but the price in human terms. Couldn't afford to get sentimental over no spy. He already knew who it was, who it had to be, but the confirmation was needed. Not for him but for his brother. Davy still had some archaic ideas about chivalry, honour and somesuch. Even the gorram war hadn't taught his little brother that such things were only ciphers and metaphors. Not real in their own right. Peeling away the artifice should teach him that. Strip away the last of his innocence. In war there were always casualties, the walking wounded were often the worse. People looked at them and called them Heroes. Survivors. The lucky ones. Malcolm knew better. They were the sacrificial lambs, the altar strapped to their backs and waiting only the flame that would ignite all they held dear as their flesh bubbled and burned and covered the stone with the offerings of their faith. Dead men walking every one. Only he knew the truth of it and he aimed to see that they exacted a most fitting revenge.

* * * * *

It was later. Darkness seemed to haunt the ship like the evil twin of night and none of them felt much like sleeping. Harry had given up Tyrone's name then passed out. Wash had been all kinds of upset though not sure why. Man was a gorram spy yet there was something cold and cruel about the way Malcolm got what he wanted that chilled him to the bone. The Captain could be cold, could be cruel too, but there was a balance to it, boundaries that stopped him taking it too far. A sense of the rightness of things that gave honour to his actions even when the why of it needing some explaining. He did not see that in Malcolm. A different kind of control ran through that man, one honed to razor sharpness and pretty much divorced from normal feeling.

When Malcolm had first come aboard Wash had been eaten up with curiosity about him. Wanted to know what had happened to him, how long he had been held in captivity, what they had done to him and so on. Spending time with the man had changed his outlook. Now he didn't want to know. Didn't want to look into the darkness he carried inside and be touched by it. Was afraid of what might happen to the Captain now that his heroic older brother had put in an appearance and shown himself to be a puppet master of the highest degree. Did the Captain see it? Probably not. There were none so blind as those who would not see and all the Captain's loyalty and devotion had been poured into protecting the destiny of this one man. The Captain was a man who had willingly given up his own life to lead anothers, to protect his brother so that he could go on to do what exactly? Why all the planning and scheming, the long months of cat and mouse with the Alliance? What the good gorram was really going on? Was Malcolm Reynolds everything he appeared to be? Or were they all being manipulated for some other darker, less wholesome purpose?

He was pretty sure that Pepper Rawlings and his men believed Malcolm was the embodiment of a new beginning. A foolish if gallant rebellion to shake off the yoke of their oppressors. But even if they had ten times ten the number of Independent rebels it would be no more than a drop in the ocean compared to the forces that would be ranged against them. So. Not a frontal assault then. How do you fight a vastly superior force with numbers so few you could almost count them on your hands? And why had Malcolm Reynolds put his brother through every stage of the cross if there was no second coming? What the *diyu* did it mean? And why did he get the feeling that the Phoenix was something else entirely?

* * * * *

They talked long into the night then everyone went to go and get what rest they could before the new day dawned. The Captain was sure he would not sleep. Would have stayed up talking all night and all the next day to his brother had River's gentle hand not deflected that thought. Her look was gentle, tender. So filled with love. He felt his heart melt and let her lead him to his bunk. *Their* bunk now. Simon had been hoping to get a moment alone with the Captain but realised it would have to wait till morning. As he turned he noticed Jayne watching him. The man's eyes reflecting a mix of confusion and concern that Simon understood completely. He knew Jayne wanted to talk but somehow wasn't up to it right now. Not until he knew how things really stood with the Captain. Zoe gave Wash a kiss. "Go on, *zhangfu*, I'll be along in a minute."

Wash hesitated, immediately worried and trying to hide it. "*Shenme shi, bao bei*?"

"Nothing's wrong, I just need to talk to Malcolm."

Wash didn't like the sound of that but could hardly say so. He cut a glance towards Malcolm Reynolds but he was deep in conversation with Pepper. Everyone else had now left the commons area to get some sleep. Pepper and his men bunking down in the cargo hold where Kaylee had been laying out blankets for makeshift beds. Pepper had two of his men relive Charlie and Turner then followed Wash out. Zoe didn't say anything, just waited. After a couple of minutes silence Malcolm walked over to her and stared into those chocolate brown eyes, letting their velvet depths envelope him. The puff of her breath on his face was a sweet confection he had almost forgotten.

"I've missed you so much, Malcolm."

He raised a hand to gently graze her cheek, their eyes locked. Souls touching a fire that could burn them both to ash. "Not as much as I've missed you, *xin gan*."

Then his lips were on hers and they fell into a hungry abyss of want and longing that was bottomless. Zoe wrapped her arms around him and held on, the sweetness of it making her heart ache so fierce that she began to cry. It seemed forever before they broke off, parting just enough to look into each others faces while they caught their breath. Malcolm wiped the tears from her face, his hands so gentle that she hardly felt them. Her body tingled, her nervous system ringing with want just at the proximity of him.

"You married then."

It was not a question. She nodded. "Seemed the thing to do."

He smiled and for a moment it was like the years rolling back. Why did it have to change? Why did the gorram war have to ruin everything it touched? Every *one* it touched? "I'd say you made a good choice, *bao bei*."

"But Mal..."

He stilled her next words with a finger to her lips. "No regrets now. We both knew what we were gettin' into, *bao bei*, an' what it would cost." He paused. "You love him?"

"He's a good man."

Malcolm nodded. "He'd better be."

The slight huskiness in his voice made her stomach flip. It would be so easy to push the boundaries. He seemed to read her mind. Always had.

"This is a road we can't be travellin', *dong ma*? I knew you'd take care of Davy for me, it was the one thing that kept me goin' while I was bein' tortured."


"Hush now Zoe, it's true. So many things happened, you wouldn't believe how sick those gifted *wangba dans* are. Never knew it my own self till I was taken away."

She frowned. Surely he didn't mean...?

"They called it a 'research facility'." Zoe went cold. He gently stroked a hand through her hair, willing her to stay calm, to let him say what had to be said so that he would never have to speak of it to her again. "They opened me up, Zoe." Her breath caught, her arms gripping him tighter. "Not my body but my head." Her eyes widened. Oh no, oh no, oh NO! "Sssh, wasn't so bad."

It was. They both knew it. Zoe had the daily reminder of River Tam to tell her so. "What did they do?"

He fluttered a hand towards his head then brought it down to rest lightly on her shoulder. "They messed around some, rearranged a few things, tinkered an' optimised others. Played around with a little thing called the pineal gland until I was just about ready to scream to infinity for 'em to stop. Put pictures an' thoughts in my head they could switch on an' off at will. Sensations, emotions, you name it *bao bei*, those sick *tamade hundan* did it. But I ain't nothin' if not smart my own self."

She swallowed slowly, not daring to speak. Hardly breathing.

"I watched what they did, learnt what was happening. Understood. They didn't reckon with that. In the end I turned the tables on 'em. It was so gorram sweet, *bao bei*, I wish you'd'a been there."

She could not speak for emotion, body starting to shake with reaction. He shushed her, held her so gently before kissing her one last time. Zoe clung, putting all her feelings and fears and need into that reunion knowing it would have to last her for the rest of her life. A memory to hold and cherish for as long as she lived.

Wash was on his way to their bunk and stopped in his tracks. Indecision solidifying. He turned and walked back, intending to wait for Zoe and walk back with her to their bunk. When he got to the doorway he froze. Malcolm and Zoe were standing in the middle of the room oblivious to everything but each other, so lost in the kiss that he could have gone storming in with strippers and a marching band and not disturbed them. His face drained of colour, his hands bunching into fists commensurate with the way his heart was contracting into a painful decompression as his whole rutting world caved in on itself. Numb and stricken he turned and stumbled back to his bunk, eyes wet with tears as he half climbed and half fell down the steps. For a long time he just stood in the middle of the room and cried, the silent tears running down his face in perfect time to the breaking of his heart.

"Before the tears I've cried have even dried She'll be with him They'll look in each other's eyes and with her lips still warm with lies She'll kiss him. And though she knows she's wrong She just keeps on Keepin' me hanging on Tell me

What's a man to do when the one he's promised to Finds somebody new? Should I just stand by, watch the love I've lived for die Lord I wish I knew Tell me what's a man to do?"

- 'What's A Man to Do' sung by Vince Gill

For so long he had been at odds with the Captain only now realising he had been jealous of the wrong Malcolm Reynolds.

* * * * *

Shepherd Book watched the changing of the guard. Some dark amusement touching his lips and making his eyes sparkle. It was a momentary lapse but caught her eye nonetheless. He was waiting for her decision. Content to play this out any way she chose. He raised an eyebrow. She shook her head. It was enough. Book relaxed and tried to get comfortable. It would be a long night but the morning. Well now. That would be interesting.

* * * * *

Her hands glided over his warm skin while dark blue eyes stared up at her, his heart laid bare like his love for her. He was so *meili* she caught her breath. It made her feel weak and strong at the same time. She loved him so much, would do any gorram thing to keep him safe. Safe. She blinked back the threat of tears. Alarmed he began to sit up, wanting to comfort her. Though her form was slight she had the advantage of him and used it to the full. He groaned softly, her smile curling around him as she tasted the salty head. Her tongue teasing back and forth across the slit while her hands caressed and stroked him. They were both naked. He had wanted to hold her until they both drifted off to sleep, she wanted to love him all through the night. Didn't take a genuis to guess who would win.

"*Xin gan*..."

"Hush." River's single word slid out in a whisper almost drowned out by another louder groan as she got busy with her mouth. Didn't want to waste it on talking. She was thinking of the saying from Earth-that-was - 'actions speak louder than words'. She intended to prove it to him with such intensity that she would empty his dictionary and teach him new words of her own. Passion rose in her, words fragmenting from his lips as she took him higher and higher, his hips twitching and trying to buck but held down by her impossibly slight frame.

It was all in the technique and River knew all about technique. She licked his shaft and swirled her tongue across the head making him jerk beneath her, a hand rolling back his foreskin while he throbbed hot and hard in her fingers. All the blood pumping and flushed, straining to the rythym she set as she slowed down her delicious torture to drag it out. To hang him over precipice of want and need until he begged for mercy. Only when she was ready would she let him come, in the meantime she excited him and brought him again and again to the brink of orgasm. Her happy tongue tasting the rivulets of jism leaking from him like a bitter salty wine. He was beyond speech now, the perspiration oiling his skin. So shiny. He tried to buck up into her gifted mouth, urge her to go faster, harder, but she moved a hand down his shaft and applied precise pressure to stop him from being able to come. The groan became a whimper, a cry, a plea that wept from his lips.

Grinning she eased off just enough to position herself over him, then looking him straight in the eye she sat down. He grunted, sweat now pouring off him, the thick slide of him engulfed in her hot moist walls was too much but still her hand gripped the base, held him in check while she began to rock on him, all the air huffing out of him as he strained to give her what she wanted. Only when she was close to orgasm herself did River let him come, the one setting off the other. He came so hard he literally saw stars, River washing over and around him, their fluids intermixing. His eyes had closed. She teased a nipple with her fingers, rubbing and pinching it until he opened a sleepy sated eye.

"You are a wicked woman, River Tam."

She smiled and gave him a smug grin. "Gifted."

"Huh, that so?"


"Anybody ever tell you that you were modest?"

Her eyes were laughing down at him. He loved it. Loved *her*, beyond the passion of his body or the joy of his heart.

"'Cause if they did, *xin gan*, they were lyin'."

Her giggles were warm and loving, her body bending in slow motion as she leaned down to kiss him. Her hair damp with exertion, her muscles toned up and ready for the next bout. He saw her intent and cradled his hand gently to her cheek.

"Not gonna be able to do anythin' for a while, *fengmi*. Think you may have to let this old man sleep, *dong ma*?"

She nodded, happy to agree to anything he wanted just so long as she didn't have to move off him. She could feel him shrinking inside her and lamented the loss. Then as she draped herself over him and felt the Captain pull the covers over them she began to plot and plan novel ways to wake him up once he had drifted off to sleep.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*dui* = correct *diyu* hell *zhangfu* = husband *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *bao bei* = precious/treasure *xin gan*/*ai ren* = sweetheart *dong ma* = understand *hundan*/*wangba dan* = bastard *tamade* = fucking *meili* = beautiful/pretty *fengmi* = honey


Tuesday, March 30, 2004 5:57 AM


Wow! Talk about sudden plot swerves. My head is still reeling from this one. Can't wait to see Wash's reaction.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 8:31 AM


Mal's not Mal. Zoe's not a steadfast wife. Inara and Book are no friends. Oh, I see where you're going.

Kaylee's really a Martian, right?

Seriously, you're really pushing the envelope of credibility, here, but I know you're up to the challenge of making it all work. Just... Don't leave us hanging!

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 9:29 AM


Dang... I mean, dang! Can open. Worms everywhere. And now Zoe's kissin' him...

Keep goin'!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 10:55 PM


Zoe being in love with someone other than Wash isthe most shocking plot twust I've ever read in firefly fanfic. I mean its worst than Book saying Mal I am your father or Kaylee being a secret agent. The Names Frye. Kaywinnit lee Frye. Duhdunduhduh.


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.