Sailing Beyond the Sunset, pt 09
Friday, May 12, 2006

Inara/Mal interactions, then a strange package from an old friend arrives.


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,pt 06,pt 07,pt 08

- - - - -

Inara re-joined the crew on the other side of the world, then they swiftly left and set a course for GreenLeaf. The journey passed relatively uneventfully, though Mal couldn’t help going to the cargo bay a couple of times to take a couple of shots with the Lassiter at random empty boxes and anything else he could find to shoot. During the last of these shooting sessions, Inara had gracefully descended from her shuttle, her interest engaged by the sound of the gun being discharged.

She watched from above for a minute, admiring the things she liked about Mal. He was still somewhat of a mystery to her. When he had showed up in that yu bun duh costume at the training house, on a mission to save her, she had feigned anger at him walking into the trap. Honestly, she had felt a great relief at seeing his face, that intoxicating smile of his beaming as he called her a tease.

He had saved her life by coming to get her, there was no doubt about that. The Operative would have left her dead without a second thought, caring more about cleaning the fresh blood from his blade than about the life that he had just ended. Even though she hated to admit it, his care for her well being had definitely endeared her to him, and after the shootout at the Heart of Gold and Nandi’s words to her, they both knew how the other felt, which had scared her into running away in the first place.

Mal’s boyish grin brought her back to the present. He genuinely looked like a boy on Christmas morning, no worries in the ‘verse except not having enough hours in the day to work in all the fun he had planned. He drew the gun, shooting from the hip, and incinerated an empty protein container. He mimicked blowing away the smoke from the end of the barrel, which caused Inara to let out an almost inaudible giggle. Mal looked up at her, smiling even bigger when he realized who it was.

“Guess you’ve been watching for a while,” Mal said, looking up at her.

“Well Mal, you’re not the only one on this boat who knows how to eavesdrop,” she shot back with a smile. “I didn’t realize that was working, nor that playing with a priceless artifact had become an acceptable pastime.”

“River actually got it working, though she locked us all out of the ship while doing so. Still, it is an amazing piece, and if I can’t make any coin off of it, I might as well put it to some use.” He looked down at the laser, smiling again, then offered it to Inara. “Wanna give it a try?”

Inara looked at the gun, tempted to refuse his offer just to spite him, then recanted and took the offered piece. Mal set up another protein box, then stepped back to let her take her shot. She purposefully raised the gun clumsily and pointed it in the direction of the target, not anywhere near where it would need to be to hit it.

“Whoa woman, careful where you point that. Don’t want you putting any holes in my ship. Let me help you with that.”

Mal walked over to Inara, stepping up behind her to help her to steady the weapon. With his right arm he helped to steady her right arm, his left wrapping around her to show her how to support the bottom of the gun herself. He held her steady as she squeezed off a shot, barely missing center but incinerating the target nonetheless.

“I wish this thing had been working when I caught Saffron off her guard on Bollerophon,” she said, happy that her deception had worked. She pressed her body against his slightly, turning her neck up to try and catch his scent. He smelled musky, sweat and dirt mixing with his natural smell, with the slightest odor of gun oil to balance and mix into a scent that was distinctly Mal’s.

His nose caught her scent, rising from her exposed neck. She smelled of sandalwood and rose, her bare skin perfect. Everything about her seemed perfect. She always wore outfits that showed her slender figure, and her hair was always done just the right way, no matter what style she decided on. Mal looked down at her neck and jaw line, fighting with all of his resolve to keep from placing his lips there.

“Captain, you may want to come up to the bridge,” River’s singsong voice rang over the com. “There’s a ship up ahead that may be of some concern.

Mal reluctantly disengaged himself from Inara, focusing intently on the sight and smell of her before heading upstairs to the bridge.

- - -

When Mal made it up to the bridge, he was greeted with an unwelcome sight. Directly in their path was an Alliance cruiser. Mal stared at it for a moment before River brought him back to the present.

“They haven’t hailed us yet, Captain. We can alter course to avoid them, if you like. If we do continue our present course, they will most assuredly pull us in and board us. I would like to avoid that if possible, and I am sure you would too.”

“Yes, little albatross. I’d like to try to not be too obvious about it, but at this point almost any action we take will raise their suspicions. Try to find a vector that will give us a good escape route if they send out their gunships.”

River disengaged the auto-pilot from their previous course, searching for a vector on the NavSat that would get them shy of the cruiser’s range. A moment later, Serenity and her crew were safely around the cruiser, that hadn’t seemed to even notice them, and back on their way to GreenLeaf.

“Good work little one. Let me know when we are about to break atmo.”

Mal left the bridge, headed for his bunk, as River stared out into the all-encompassing Black, lost within her own dark and convoluted thoughts.

- - -

They landed on GreenLeaf at the designated site and began to unload their cargo. They received the second half of their payment, parting on good terms. Mal couldn’t help but think that he had endangered the lives of these men by dealing with them, but he still had to make a living, creepy stalkers or not.

As he headed back up the ramp onto the ship, he heard a voice behind him.

“You’re a very hard man to catch up with, Captain Reynolds.”

- - -

River felt the men outside the cargo bay before she looked out to see them. They had a familiar feel to them. It was a feeling of warm compassion, of understanding, and of a fellowship that she didn’t quite understand, which was odd, because she usually understood everything. She stood and thought about it for a long time, a deliberate frown on her face.

- - -

Mal turned around slowly, keeping his hands in plain sight.

The sight that greeted his eyes dumbfounded him, his jaw going slack.

Three men, each wearing the clothing of a Shepherd, stood around a large wooden crate. A ground-based mule was nearby, hooked to the trailer that carried the crate.

“How?...Why?...What??...Who are…?” Mal stuttered, trying to comprehend the situation. “Why were you looking for me?”

The Shepherds were all standing in a non-threatening position, two with their hands clasped in front, the third with his arms at his side. It seemed to Mal that they meant no harm, but he knew better than to trust anyone for what they appeared to be, so he kept his hand prepared to grab his gun but relaxed at his side.

“This crate is for you. We have instructions to deliver it to you.”

“Really? Well, what is it? Who is it from?” Mal had been hesitant to accept unknown crates ever since that damn fool Tracey had mailed himself to them.

“We don’t know what’s in it, we didn’t pack it. We just have instructions for delivery. However, we can tell you who it’s from.”

After a moment that stretched into a lifetime, Mal asked “Well, who is it?”

“The late Shepherd Derria Book.”

Silence. The words echoed in the cargo bay and finally sunk in.

“Gao yang jong duh goo yang!”

How the hell could this be from Book?!? Mal’s head was spinning, his brain overflowing with possible explanations.

“We had instructions to bring some of his personal effects to you upon his death. He left very specific instructions as to what to bring, and who everything goes to. Other brothers at the abbey packed it, we picked it up on our last visit there. We have been following you for a couple of weeks. As I said, you’re a hard man to catch up to.”

“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

“His instructions say to mention ‘A Special Hell’ to you and to remind whoever Jayne is about ‘poems and songs.’

Mal looked at Jayne, who nodded. He turned back to the men.

“Alright, we’ll take it. Jayne, help these guys get it into the cargo bay.”

Jayne and the three Shepherds each grabbed a corner of the large crate. They carried it into Serenity, the Shepherds walking solemnly out in a single line. The one who had spoken stopped and offered his hand to Mal, who absentmindedly shook it, still thinking about Book. The Shepherds boarded their mule and headed west, toward the city.

Jayne already had gotten out a crowbar, eager to see what the box contained. Everyone else was gathering around as well. Mal walked up the ramp, closing it behind him, and joined the rest of the group.

Jayne finished removing the top of the crate, tossing it aside. Inside was a very odd collection of objects. Jayne pulled out a couple of packages and stepped aside to look at them. One was a box of finely crafted hand rolled cigars, the other a bottle of some decent bourbon.

Mal approached the crate, seeing Jayne distracted with his things. He began to pull out more items. There was an old beaten Bible with writing in it and page missing for River. For Kaylee there was a package of freeze-dried strawberries. Inara received a small white box, which promptly disappeared into her robe. There were two exquisite pistols, of the highest craftsmanship, adorned with the most intricately carved grips they had ever seen. Mal removed them from the crate almost reverently, handing one to Zoe before turning his over in his hands to further examine it. After a moment, he put it aside, saving the treasure for a future inspection. He pulled several electronic encyclopedias out and handed them to Simon. He removed a thin, flat package with his name on it and held it under one arm.

The last package, at the very bottom of the crate, was a rectangular box, cold steel, and roughly the size of a shoebox. Mal hesitated before grabbing it, staring at it with a contemptuous look.

River walked over, knowing what Mal had seen but needing to verify it with her own eyes. As she peered into the box, her face devoid of all emotion, the electromagnetic waves that were absorbed and processed by her optical nerve verified what the neurons in her brain had seen through Mal’s eyes.

River’s name was on the shiny box, right beside a Blue Sun logo…

- - - - -

pt 10

- - - - -

Translations ( from ):

yu bun duh - stupid

gao yang jong duh goo yang – motherless goats of all motherless goats


Friday, May 12, 2006 11:18 AM


I LOVE the Mal/Inara stuff at the beginning - perfect!

This is set up really nicely - can't wait to see what's in the box. :-)

Meg x

Friday, May 12, 2006 11:49 AM


Like always you add a little something at the end that leaves you dying for the next part.

Good chapter, very vivid.

now post more or i'll kick you

Friday, May 12, 2006 5:22 PM


aw, wonderful use of wiles! You go, Inara! Ooh, and what's the package for River? And what's the other thing for Mal? A capture, with Book explaining a little of the big mystery that surrounds him, maybe???

Friday, May 12, 2006 9:38 PM


A gorram 10 like the others, River, but I'd give it a 1,000, if I could. Shiny as hell and so close to hearing your voice in my head as to help me sleep tonight.

Fave line (although the whole para this is in is jing zi): "Honestly, she had felt a great relief at seeing his face, that intoxicating smile of his beaming as he called her a tease." Perfect, ruttin' perfect. All your Mal/Inara is, but this bit....her classifying our captain's smile as intoxicating (gods yeah, it is) and her being pleased that he called her a tease...Sigh. Yeah, River. You got me with this chapter. More, please.

Friday, May 12, 2006 10:03 PM


Ok, so I had to come back for seconds, and admire some more of your best lines: "The Operative...caring more about cleaning the fresh blood from his blade than about the life that he had just ended." Jesu Cristo, so true!

"...after the shootout at the Heart of Gold and Nandi’s words to her, they both knew how the other felt, which had scared her into running away in the first place." We genuinely needed this, good of you to remind us of how H.o.G events, words, took her from Mal.

"Mal...genuinely looked like a boy on Christmas morning, no worries in the ‘verse except not having enough hours in the day to work in all the fun he had planned."--I see your own sons at play in this line. Love Mal begin boyish too, and 'Nara noting it.

Mal/Inara voices read perfectly. She, stilted, professional, formal. He, rambunctious, natural, down-home. Sigh. I want to write these 2 BDH's this well.

Mmmmm @ Inara pretending to mis-aim so Mal would cup her to him, help her get the shot right, and her smiling knowledge that her ploy worked. I would SO do that, were I she.

"Mal looked down at her neck and jaw line, fighting with all of his resolve to keep from placing his lips there." Pardon me while I become Inara and raise on tiptoe, tilting my face hard up into Mal so as to help him lose control...

"Mal had been hesitant to accept unknown crates ever since that damn fool Tracey had mailed himself to them." Nice plot addition, we like Shepherds, never got enough info about them from Joss, really, and your adding the bit about Tracey ties us firmly to you and this fic. Refs to prior eps are shiny.

Ohhhh, @ the gifts from Book! Each is spot-on appropriate. Loving reminders of how well Book could read each of our heroes. Nicely done.

And you KNOW I love this: gao yang jong duh goo yang – motherless goats of all motherless goats.

Not sure why, exactly, but you know how I've complained that some of your chapters are far too short? This one is just right. Were I Goldilocks, I would surely curl up in this chapter and fall fast asleep. Might be that it's concise, compact, fits much info into the paras, descriptions are crisp, characters' voices are so satisfying, and possibly the fact that I get a taste of all the characters by way of Book's gifts to them all. Ahhh, and the Mal/'Nara scenting looking touching thinking on each other. Yeah, it's a combo of all those things.

I won't kick you if you don't post more soon, but I will kiss you till you're breathless and thus try to get you to agree to give us Chapter 10 of SBtS quick-like. Hurry home, River. We wait, and we ain't necessarily patient.

Sunday, May 14, 2006 6:51 PM


Loved everything here, River! Especially Inara's moment of wiles to have a touchy-feely session with Mal in the guise of shooting lessons with the Lassiter:)



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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.