Here Be Dragons (Part VI)
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The Reavers are closing in on Revelation Colony but there's an obstacle in the way


Disclaimer – Everything either does belong to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind.

Thanks to my regular readers for making it worthwhile to continue the story and special thanks to my Proof-Reader Landry.

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Under Hard Burn – 2520AD

Ideally Shadow would have ambushed the lone Zheng He class vessel but there just wasn’t time. He had places to be. The archaic ship was slightly out of his way but if he didn’t total it first it might go for Serenity/Granite Gorge, which were under full burn to Revelation and that was unacceptable.

Although with his reactor running at maximum the AI was putting out enough of an EM field for the other ship to detect him, his weaponry was powered down so the vessel would not know what he was carrying until he got well within effective range. It was pulsing its drive, altering its acceleration, which meant a long-range Railgun strike wasn’t going to work so Shadow was going to have to close in and burn a hole in the ship with his directed energy weapons.

The Zheng He was one of the earliest vessels, which was used at the dawn of the colonial period when humanity left Earth-That-Was en-masse. It was armed with primitive lasers and might have some of its original missile armament but neither weapon was even a remote match for Shadow.

To Shadow’s delight the Reaver ship altered course towards him. That would save some time. They were probably so used to being the top of the food chain out here it never occurred to them there might be something in this corner of the ‘Verse a damn sight meaner than they were.

Timed to the split-second Shadow powered up his Lasers and lowered his Particle-Beam Cannon into position just before he entered effective range.

Over on the Zheng He class vessel even its ancient threat recognition software would be able to detect the energy spikes of the five directed-energy weapons being charged, would be able to determine their likely output and would be informing the Reaver crew dispassionately that they were in deep shit.

The AI had a sense of humour. It had inherited it from the personalities of the military personnel its own persona was based upon. He directed a transmission towards the Reaver Ship.

‘You know up until recently I didn’t believe you guys existed,’ Shadow signalled. ‘Given your reputation I don’t suppose you’d consider surrendering at all?’

The AI’s sensors showed an energy spike as the Zheng He powered up its Lasers.

‘I’ll take that as a no then.’

Shadow opened fire.

* * *

Serenity/Granite Gorge – Revelation Orbit – 2520AD

‘Listen up you stupid lâotou, the incoming ships are full of deranged cannibalistic rapists who will eat and screw their way through your entire gorram population if you don’t let us do something about it.’

‘God will not abandon his children,’ replied Irving over the radio. ‘As I told you we have a sealed bunker under the main hall where everyone can shelter until they leave,’

Mal thought about that one. ‘Maybe God sent us to save your sorry asses. Did that occur to you or do you think you’ve got the only possible interpretation of his will?’ he said. ‘Anyway they’ll dig you out if you just try to hide no matter how secure you think that hole is.’

‘We will not allow you to land here. The presence of violent men will only provoke violence from others.’

Mal turned off the transmitter and turned to Book. ‘See if you can talk him around,’ he said. ‘If he doesn’t get it, tell him we’ll land and blow a hole in the rutting airlock if we have to. I ain’t kidding about that neither. Steve would be only too happy to blow a big chunk outta the local scenery with that Recoilless Cannon of his.’

‘I’ll see what I can do,’ the Shepherd told him.

‘Wash, I want you to land Granite in the Valley near the Dome. I’ll land Serenity unload the gear, collect you in a shuttle then you can move Serenity there too. It’s too tight for anybody else to risk it.’

‘I’ll be walking back to the dome afterwards then?’

‘It’s only half an hour away in the local gravity. You’ll be back at the colony long before the Reavers arrive.’

Wash looked down at the planets frozen surface. ‘Lovely spot for a stroll.’

‘Bring a camera. Take some shots of the local scenery,’ Zoe suggested.

Wash pretended to hold a camera and mimed taking repeated pictures. ‘Ice, Ice, Big Rock, Ice, Small Rock, Ice, Ice.’

‘We need something for the photo album,’ his wife told him.

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Under Hard Burn – 2520AD

The Zheng He was tumbling in space with a hole burned right through its hull. Shadow began to accelerate towards the next group of Reaver vessels.

As a parting gift Shadow cut his drive rotated using his thrusters and fired a Railgun round at the crippled ship which, as it was no longer manoeuvring or pulsing, its drive was an easy target.

The AI was already back under full burn and thousands of miles away when a 64 kilo ball of steel 250mm across smashed through the hull of the Reaver vessel ploughed its way through the ship and punched back out the hull on the other side. On the way it smashed the reactor housing.

The nuclear flare that took place a split second later would have been easily detected by every ship in the area.

Shadow had been recording every image from his sensors including the optical telescope used for passive target acquisition. He quickly assembled a group of images and transmitted the data as a high-wattage tightbeam.

Several hours hard burn away a Reaver pilot receiving a transmission activated his console. He was greeted by a image appearing on his screen of a Reaver Zheng He being cut to shreds by Laser and Particle-Beam fire then the image shifted to the same vessel tumbling in space apparently being hit by a mass-driver projectile and detonating in thermonuclear fire as its power-plant exploded.

The sequence finished with a text message superimposed on a computer generated image of a sleek black warship firing several weapon systems. ‘I’m even meaner than I look, so if you think you’ll do any better than that sorry piece of crap you are sadly mistaken. See you soon.”

After continuous hard burn for this length of time plus the heat built up by weapons fire Shadow would be glowing in the IR spectrum by the time it reached the next group of ships, so any thoughts of stealth were completely out the window. Given that, the AI had decided to apply psychological warfare. Shadow doubted that the Reavers would appreciate Mars from Gustav Holst’s Planet Suite from an aesthetic sense but it really went well with the pictures he was sending so when he repeated the transmission he sent that over too.

I’m a renaissance killing machine, the AI considered.

* * *

Transport Vessel Serenity – Grounded on Revelation – 2520AD

The Airlock slid open and Mal found himself looking at Irving plus the entire leadership of the colony.

‘Come to give us a hand to unload?’ Mal asked deadpan.

‘We demand you leave now,’ Irving stated.

‘I’ve got a couple of stun grenades if you want me to disperse them,’ Zoe said loudly. She was also carrying one of the captured Academy Stun-Guns.

‘That won’t be necessary,’ Mal said. ‘I think they take us seriously,’

Irving looked behind the Captain to the crew gathered behind him. They all seemed to be draped in multiple weapons and their small cargo-carrying vehicle was loaded with military looking crates.

‘He is specifically barred from this colony,’ Irving said pointing at Steven.

The Lancer stared back with a wry smile on his face and hefted a huge firearm. ‘If you think you could stop me going somewhere you’re welcome to try,’ he said seriously.

‘You don’t like us. Why are you here?’ Irving asked.

‘Perhaps he’s an agent of the Lord?’ Book suggested.

Steven laughed. ‘Nope. I’m more an agent of Voltaire in that I don’t agree with what you jerks have to say but I’ll defend to the death your right not to get eaten by those that subscribe to another philosophy.’

Mal walked down the ramp. ‘You and your people should be getting ready to hide in that hole of yours. Reavers will be here in a few hours.’

‘What of your women and children?’ Irving asked. ‘Will they be seeking shelter with us?’

‘Their bunker is fairly secure,’ River said, ‘or at least they genuinely believe it to be. It might be better than staying in Serenity.’

Mal thought about it. ‘Right,’ he said. ‘Inara you Jennifer and the kids will be hiding with this lot.’

‘As you wish,’ Inara said.

Jennifer appeared from behind a stack of crates. ‘In that case can someone show me how to use one of these sub-machine guns again?’ she asked holding up one of those captured from the Special-Ops on Macau.

Irving shook his head. These people led such violent lives.

‘The selector switch is the one on the right. In this gravity you don’t want to use full-auto because of the recoil, but three-round-burst should be okay,’ answered a child’s voice.

Cally appeared from where she had been loading magazines for her father. ‘Here,’ she said to her mother. ‘I’ll show you.’

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Under Hard Burn – 2520AD

Well they certainly don’t take a hint, thought Shadow as it detected incoming mass-driver rounds and in response began pulsing his drive and embarked upon a series of random course changes to avoid the incoming projectiles.

The other side were doing likewise. They were reputedly insane but apparently still had enough intelligence not to follow a predictable course and speed.

This would be a lot tougher than the last fight. There were five vessels, four of which were armed and included two converted asteroid mining ships. Those things tended to have extremely thick armoured hulls to protect them from collisions with debris and this type mounted powerful lasers for carving up metallic asteroids.

Shadow calculated the odds. Chances are he’d take a few hits from the Reaver Vessels before he could disable them and then smash them to pieces with his Railgun. Given the firepower mounted by the other ships there was however only an extremely low possibility of incurring moderate to serious damage.

A threat warning indicated incoming missiles.

The AI redirected power once again from his drives to his weaponry and ECM systems.

‘As you can see from the power readouts on your threat recognition screens, you are now officially in a whole ‘Verse of hurt,’ Shadow signalled.

The closest Reaver ship signalled back. ‘We will eat your flesh and drink your blood.’

‘My flesh is laminate armour and the only thing running through my veins is hydraulic fluid,’ the AI warship replied, ‘so I hope you’ve got really good teeth and a strong constitution.’

The missiles were closing in fast.

‘By the way,’ Shadow signalled, ‘bite me.’

The AI swatted the incoming missiles with his particle-beam turret and his lasers began to burn into the nearest Reaver ship.

Local space erupted with energy weapon fire, Railgun projectiles and Missiles and soon began to fill with pieces of shattered hull, melted and smashed machinery and bits of Reaver bodies sucked into the void.

Shadow was having fun. It was in the very core of both his personality and his programming to enjoy his work. I maim therefore I am, the AI considered as it switched targets and dodged another projectile.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

Mal was doing a proper reconnoitre of the Dome. At the exact centre was the town hall complex from which four main roads radiated out to the four airlocks at each of the main compass points. There was an open area in the form of a park that ringed the town hall and two circular ring roads one just inside the dome and another half way between the dome and the town hall.

‘Okay we’ve got three ships coming in,’ Mal announced, ‘so chances are they’ll attack the dome from three directions at once.’

‘Do we hold them at the airlocks?’ Zoe asked.

‘Negative. If we let them inside they’ll not want to blow the dome so we make sure they’ve got personnel in here.’

Zoe pointed to the tower on top of the town hall. ‘Good place for a sniper. Fire down each access road all the way to the airlocks from there.’

‘Yup,’ Mal agreed. ‘Book, you happy to be up top with Jayne’s Sniper Rifle?’

‘Yes Captain,’ the Shepherd replied.

Mal paused and turned to Book ‘I’ll expect you to shoot to kill this time, you realise that?’

The Shepherd cast his eyes to the ground. ‘I know.’

‘Can you?’

Book looked up again and made eye-contact with Mal. ‘Given the circumstances, yes I can.’

‘Good. Bring a sub-machine gun and a few grenades in case they reach the town hall. That long-gun is no use up close.’

‘Yes, Sir,’ Book replied and went to grab the required weaponry.

Mal looked around. ‘The building there has a decent view of these three firing lanes and if we set up a ladder the person up there can still bug-out pretty easy out of opposition sight.’

‘Steve and the Brimstone?’ Zoe asked.

‘That’s what I was thinking. Nothing like a storm of lead from above to dissuade folks from moving where we don’t want them.’

‘That’s the school house you know?’

‘Good. It’ll maybe stop him firing a grenade at it if he’s sitting on top of the gorram place.’

‘What teams?’

‘Me and the Doc, Jayne and Wash, You and River.’

Zoe nodded. ‘Makes sense. Reckon Simon is up to it?’

‘He’ll be fine. Got a lot more guts than most people would reckon, probably more than he thinks he’s got himself.’

‘Wash is going to love pairing with Jayne.’

Mal smiled. ‘I need a thinking man with Jayne and a rutting mean and nasty one paired with Wash. It’s a good team.’

‘So each team takes a direction.’

‘Nope. They’ll only be coming from two directions.’

Zoe frowned. ‘But you said three ships landing at three Airlocks?’

‘Yeah, but they’ll only be coming out of two of them.’


‘I’ve got an idea.’

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Under Hard Burn – 2520AD

Shadow left the shattered Reaver ships and a small part of his own hull behind as vapour and accelerated towards the final group of target vessels.

The AI would arrive at the last cluster of armed Reaver vessels at around the same time as the unarmed trio would be grounding on Revelation.

As before, Shadow had recorded his kills and was assembling some choice images to relay to his next opponents. They would already be well aware of what he had just done to their other ships and should be pretty concerned, assuming they had any sense whatsoever.

Time was not on the AI ship’s side. He had calculated a course that would get him to the next group before they could possibly target the dome assuming the crew down there held off the Reaver ground attack, however to do it he would have to take drastic measures.

There are two kinds of folks in the ‘Verse that don’t mind running without radiation containment; insane Reavers who don’t fear radiation sickness and AI’s who don’t have to worry about their DNA being shot to bits by high-energy particles.

Shadow shut down containment and ran his reactor hot as hell so he could push even more power into his drive.

He had one more trick that the Reavers couldn’t do as well.

Surrounding his fusion core was a container filled with Lithium Deuteride. When exposed to radiation from the unshielded reactor the Lithium 6 Isotope fissions into Tritium. Dump the resulting mix of Tritium and Deuterium into the Engine and you’ve just stuck an afterburner on a Fusion Rocket ship.

After this escapade the Drive would need a major overhaul, the reactor and the engine room would need serious decontamination and Kaylee the mechanic would be busy for weeks completely servicing the ship but one thing was for sure. Shadow could really haul ass when he had to.

With a storm of thermonuclear fire blasting from his white hot engines, the AI tore across space towards his prey.

Four hours to next target.

Part VII


Tuesday, March 30, 2004 10:19 AM


'Bout damn time. I was going thru withdrawal.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 11:28 AM


Abso-fraggin-lutely brilliant, gorrammit! I am fast developing a hero fix on the AI ship, sad but true! This is so very good and you have done an awesome job with the action and giving the ship a personality. Can't wait for the next shiny part, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 11:29 AM


Shadow is just too cool. And just that one little bit with Cally... Superb storytelling again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 5:41 PM


The fact that all of them on Serenity/Granite Gorge work as a finely-tuned, well oiled machine is just so shiny....another gripping chapter, Hotpoint, thank you

Thursday, May 11, 2006 5:51 AM


Wash looked down at the planets frozen surface. ‘Lovely spot for a stroll.’

‘Bring a camera. Take some shots of the local scenery,’ Zoe suggested.

Wash pretended to hold a camera and mimed taking repeated pictures. ‘Ice, Ice, Big Rock, Ice, Small Rock, Ice, Ice.’

‘We need something for the photo album,’ his wife told him.

Funny funny stuff!!!


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Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits