Those Left Behind - Ch 5
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Allies and Confrontations


A/N: Thanks to everyone for all the shiny comments. This one is longer, I promise. Neroli gets the usual kudos for pointing out the less than perfect scenes.

For Disclaimers, see Ch1.

Chapter 5: Allies and Confrontations Diyu ā€“ hell Go-se - dog crap

After his talk with Inara, Mal had decided that their plans should move slowly at least until Simon was fully on board. The information that Jayne and Wash had extracted from the doctor gave the crew a starting place to find Simon's previous contacts. Hopefully, they would learn that there was only one facility. Otherwise, they would have to hope that River only felt the pain of victims who were held in the same place she had been a captive. Mal dreaded the possibility that this adventure could be the starting point for another war because he doubted he could recruit enough manpower at this juncture.

Mal turned the pilot's chair when he heard footsteps on the stairs behind him. Simon paused in the doorway to the bridge and leaned heavily on the wall. The boy looked like he had stayed awake for the past week. "Have a seat before you fall down Doc," Mal told him.

Simon blinked wearily as if he had dozed off in the short span of time that he had stopped moving. Slowly he straightened and staggered to the rarely used co-pilot's seat. Mal fought a grin as he realized that their positions mimicked the ones they had taken during their first heart to heart session following the events on Whitefall. "Something on your mind son?" Mal asked as much to get the doctor to talk as to wake him up.

Simon blinked several times to bring his surroundings back in focus. He'd spent the morning and most of the day either reassuring River or desperately trying to find something to block these new nightmares or visions that plagued her so. Now the rest of the ship was once again asleep and Simon found himself unable to join them even though his body was trying. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw his sister in frantic terror or began to imagine the types of things that might have been done to her at the Academy. Neither scenario induced a restful state of mind. As a result, he found himself on the bridge with the Captain looking for whatever the other man found in the star field that stretched before them. "I don't know how to make her better," Simon finally confessed to Mal.

Mal leaned back in his chair. "Well, that's a start."

"A start? How can you say that when she's in this type of pain?" Simon demanded angrily.

"Back up there son, I didn't say I didn't want the girl to get better. Iā€™m just saying that it's good you're starting to see you can't do it the way you want to."

"What other way is there Captain?" Simon asked. "What am I supposed to do now? Go and save all the other children too?" he finished skeptically.

Mal smiled in an unpleasant way. "That's exactly what we're gonna do Simon. Hopefully it will help, and if not, River might feel better in that at least she'll get a chance to give those Blue guys a taste of the pain she's felt."

Simon blinked hard. Surely he had dozed off and was dreaming this conversation? Even Mal wasn't crazy enough to think he could expect to assault a secure facility in the middle of the Core and remain alive, never mind free. "You can't be serious."

Mal gave a little chuckle as he turned back to his constant companion, the black. "I am son. So are Zoe and Inara, and I've gotta tell you, I've given up fighting the women-folk on this. If you think you'll have better luck, feel free to try. Now, why don't you go get some sleep? In the morning I'll fill you in on what we have in the works so far."

Simon dropped his head against the back of his chair as his eyes closed. Nothing made sense anymore. For the second time in his life his universe had been shattered that morning and now Simon found that he didn't recognize any of the pieces of the place he now found himself in. Maybe Mal was right and it would make sense after some sleep he thought as his mind slowly shut down in the slumber of the exhausted.


The next morning, Simon awoke to a seemingly empty ship. After several weeks of little to no sleep, the doctor was making uncharacteristically late start on the day and the result was a very empty kitchen. Blearily, he started preparations for a meal when a plate full of potatoes and an egg-like substance made of diced protein was thrust into his field of vision.

"Saved these for ya. Not as good re-warmed, but didn't want to waste the last of the potatoes," Kaylee offered. "Go and sit. I'll get you some milk."

"Thanks," Simon said as he made his way to the table.

"I was going to come wake you soon sleepyhead. Cap'n announced this morning that we'll be having a meeting at lunch," Kaylee told him as she began to mix the powdered milk with water.

Simon almost choked on his mouthful of food. Apparently the previous night's discussion hadn't been a delusion induced by sleep deprivation. "A meeting? About what?"

Kaylee rolled her eyes. "A job silly. What else would we have a meeting about?"

Simon pushed his plate away from him. Suddenly, he wasn't very hungry. "I just remembered something I need to discuss with the Captain. Do you know where he is?"

"He and Zoe are checking out shuttle two I think. Do you want me to save your food?" Kaylee asked only to look up and see she was talking to an empty room.


Simon found Zoe and Mal having a heated discussion in the empty shuttle. They both stopped talking when they noticed him in the door. "Mal, I need to speak with you," Simon stated.

"Well talk then. Got work to be done," Mal replied. Zoe just crossed her arms and glared at her boss. If Mal thought she was done with their discussion, he was wrong.

"Umm, about our discussion last night," Simon started hesitantly.

Mal rolled his eyes as he began to check the ship's supplies. "Zoe set all this into motion Simon, you can speak your piece in front of her."

Simon nodded. "Well, I'm not sure that everyone on board should be included in the details of your plan."

Mal turned his attention to the doctor as Zoe replied. "What are you getting at Simon? I don't see how the details are going to upset River any more than she is presently?"

"Jayne?" Mal asked as he ignored what Zoe had said.

Simon nodded. "You knew?" he asked.

Mal groaned as he saw the questioning look on Zoe's face. He knew he'd forgotten to tell her something. "Jayne and I already had our reckoning over that Simon. I was planning on revisiting our discussion with him though."

"I'm definitely going with you now," Zoe declared in a tone that brooked no argument.

Mal shook his head. "You're forgetting whose ship this is again. Inara and Jayne will go with me while you do the job I have lined up. Jayne's not expecting anything so I won't have a problem. Now, if everyone is finished discussing my plan, there's work to be done."

"Fine," Zoe growled as she shouldered past Simon.

"Don't ask," Mal said in response to Simon's questioning eyebrow.

"So lunch is about the job or your plan?"

"The job. Plan still needs some refining and info before the whole boat learns of it," Mal answered.


Mal sighed with weariness as he looked at the people with whom he was sharing a shuttle. Inara was busy piloting while Jayne dozed against the gray metal wall a few feet behind where Mal sat in the co-pilot's seat. Zoe was still upset that she was not accompanying him on this trip to meet with Monty. Simon's ill-timed revelation about Jayne's role in the incident on Ariel had only made her more determined to join the mission. In the end, she had capitulated only after several hours of argument.

"I still think that bringing Jayne was a bad idea," Inara stated quietly a short time after their destination appeared through the windows.

Mal leaned forward for a clearer look at the moon before answering. "Yeah, well you're not the Captain. Besides, he and Zoe didn't think much of you coming along either." Inara refused to answer his barb. "Look, he'll be able to look after you while I talk to Monty. And you can observe Monty from a safe distance without worrying about being kidnapped by pirates or slavers."

"I'm a big girl Mal, I can take care of myself," she replied indignantly.

Mal nodded with only a hint of a smile on his face. "I know that. But I need you drawing attention to yourself and I'd worry if I didn't know someone was with you."

"So how long am I supposed to leave the two of you alone together?" Inara asked as she began her approach into the moon's spaceport.

"Twenty minutes should be enough unless you see me give you a signal."

Jayne woke up when he felt the ship touch down. "Did I miss anything exciting?"


The three crewmembers walked into a saloon that catered to individuals in the middle of the social strata. Mal quickly spotted his former comrade in arms and motioned for the other two to follow him.

Monty took in the sight of Mal, Inara, and Jayne with a wide grin. "Mal, don't tell me you went and got hitched again?" he asked with a laugh.

Mal smiled widely as he sat down with the large man. "Not hardly, Monty. This here's Inara ā€“ she's a Companion who rents one of my shuttles. The other fellow is a member of my crew."

Monty nodded a greeting to both Jayne and Inara. "Well Miss Inara, if you are here to tell me that you can't stand Malcolm Reynolds' uncouth ways for one second longer, I'd gladly find a space on my ship for you to rent."

Inara smiled and delivered a small curtsy. "I'll be sure to keep the offer in mind in my dealings with the Captain. Considering the lengths he has gone to in order to delay our introduction, I know you're ship and crew must be of a much more refined nature." Monty laughed heartily when Mal just gave her comment an eye roll.

Mal stopped Jayne from taking a seat with a small shove. "Jayne, why don't you go help Inara get us all some drinks."

"Cap'n?" Jayne asked incredulously.

"You heard me, now get." Jayne grumbled as he stomped past Inara to push a path clear to the bar.

"That one looks to be a bit more concerned with his coin than most of your crew Mal," Monty observed.

"He's a quick learner," Mal explained. "Jayne and I have come to an understanding."

"Fair enough, now how 'bout you explain exactly why I had to fly my shuttle out to the armpit of the beyond to meet with you Mal," Monty ordered.

Mal gave his old friend a lopsided smile. "You sound suspicious of my intentions old man."

Monty narrowed his eyes at the younger man and leaned across the table towards him. "I trust you, Mal, and that says a lot. I respect your smarts too, but I know you wouldn't resort to this type of arrangement unless the stakes were high. Now I ain't got enough to go risking it unless there's some money to be gained out of it." Leaning back, Monty picked up his pipe and took a puff before finishing. "Now Zoe didn't lead me to believe there would be much of a payoff, but she got me curious. So talk or call your pretty girl back over, I'm getting tired of looking at your ugly mug."

Mal removed a small video player from his coat pocket and slid it across the table. "Before you look at that Monty, I need to tell you a story. Trust me when I tell you I had a hard time believing it even after staring the living proof in the face," Mal began.

Across the room, Jayne was getting annoyed. Inara wouldn't let him return to the Captain's table, but she insisted he drink no more than two glasses of alcohol while they waited. Hell, he still didn't know why they were meeting Monty out in the middle of nowhere either. Hopefully the other man had contacted them about a lucrative job, he thought as he continued to observe their surroundings. He frowned when he saw Mal give Monty a video player. What in the diyu were they doing here anyways?

Inara watched Monty's face as carefully as she could from her position. The other man was clearly finding Mal's story farfetched. His skepticism remained even after he turned on the small player and watched the prepared video. Unfortunately they had been unable to record either of River's earlier fits. As it was, the video Monty was watching only showed a clearly disturbed girl, but lacked in any type of coherency. Changing her attention to the Captain, she spotted the signal indicating he was ready for their return.

"Mal, you gotta be joshing me. You want me to help you storm a military facility in the Core based on this go-se?" Monty demanded with a skeptical look.

Mal stared at his old friend with stony expression. "I'm deadly serious Monty. I know it sounds like paranoid ravings, but in this case it's the god's honest truth."

"And exactly how do you propose to pull this off?"

"I'm still working at that. Right now, I'm looking to organize the man power. I hope that we'll be ready to move in no more than three months."

Monty shook his head as Inara and Jayne approached their table from behind Mal. "You were crazy during the war Mal, but you've become downright psychotic since then." He accepted a full glass of beer from Inara as Jayne set down beside him heavily.

Mal stood and roughly pulled Jayne up. "We got business to attend to. Inara, we'll come back to collect you when we're done."

Inara nodded and smothered a chuckle as Jayne complained about being forced to leave before he was drunk. She turned to face Monty when she felt his questioning gaze. "So, you knew Mal during the war?" she prompted.

Monty nodded, but didn't answer. He continued to fiddle with the player in his hand, rewinding and forwarding it over the image of River's haunted face. "You're on Mal's ship right?" At her nod, he continued. "What's your opinion about this child then? She naturally crazy or what?"

Inara paused before answering, considering her words carefully. She sensed that the older man was intrigued and deeply disturbed by Mal's story even if he was reluctant to believe it. "She is profoundly troubled, but at times the medicine allows us a glimpse of the child that Simon knew."

"Simon, that's the doc that got her out?"

Inara nodded. "And her brother. He had held onto the hope that he could fix her and undo the damage, but, well the past few months have shown him that the damage may be ongoing."


Outside the saloon, Jayne was tired of being ordered and pushed around. "Cap'n, wha's going on? Is Monty offering us a job or what?"

Mal just continued to walk down the street before turning into an alley. After walking far enough to be out of sight of the street traffic, he turned on the mercenary following him. "I have a better question. Are you going to be content to follow my orders or are you going to get stupid again?"

Jayne blinked in surprise at the question. "What are you going off about? That's water under the bridge."

Mal stepped closer to him and kept his voice quiet. "Maybe you haven't noticed, but there's someone on my crew in pain. I mean to do what it takes to help them. Now the question is, are you going to follow my orders or are you going to stay behind?"

Jayne's eyes got wide as he began to understand the Captain's plans. "You're gonna go up against the feds and whatever else took that girl's brain apart?" Mal just remained silent as his hand brushed his duster behind his gun holster.

Suddenly sweating, Jayne considered his options. He felt badly enough for River, but the last thing he wanted was to gain first person knowledge of all that she'd gone through. Jayne had thought that Mal would talk some sense into Zoe when she started digging around into the Doc's past about how he got his sister out. Instead, it was starting to look like River's insanity was spreading. "Look, I don't even know what your gorram plan is, how am I supposed to decide if I wanna take part in it?"

"Look Jayne, it's really pretty simple. You're either in and learn the plan as it develops or you're out and you never have to worry about it again."

"Fine then, when we get back to the ship, I'll say goodbye and you can drop me off on Persephone."

Mal shook his head. "Doesn't work that way Jayne. There won't be any goodbyes other than me watching you walk away from this alley."

"That ain't fair, Mal. I don't have all my gear with me."

"I consider it compensation for the damages incurred by the bounty hunter that located us off of your tip on Ariel. Now start walking," Mal ordered as he pulled his gun.

Gorramit, the man was a certified lunatic. To tell him he couldn't say his piece to the rest of the crew and refuse to give him his gear, it just weren't right. Course, maybe he was just crazy enough to pull off the impossible too. Job like attacking that Academy, there would be lots of fighting. Those Hands of Blue, they had sounded pretty scary on Ariel, but it weren't like they was Reavers or the like. "Fine, I'm in. Can't believe you'd be so mean as to not let me say goodbye," he complained as Mal put up his weapon.


Monty turned off the player and sat it down close to Inara's glass. "You understand this all sounds like some elaborate con. And if it's on the up and up, it sounds like Mal's finally gone and found his suicide mission."

Inara struggled to not react to Monty's words. She had wondered at his relationship with Mal and Zoe both during and after the war. Perhaps this was the man the crew had to thank for Mal's continued existence after Serenity Valley? "Mal has moved slowly in order to assure that we have every chance of succeeding," she finally answered. "I assure you that this girl's condition isn't fiction. If you like, we can send you a copy of the medical scans and you can get a second opinion."

Monty laughed at the suggestion. "I see why Mal brought you. You have a lot more honey to offer than Zoe." He stood as he placed some coins on the table to pay for the tab. "Tell Mal I need to think it over. I'll be in touch," he said before leaning down to apply a chaste kiss to Inara's cheek. "And I was serious about my first offer too," he told her with a wink.

Inara met Mal and Jayne outside the door of the saloon. "He said he'd consider it."

"Huh. That was more than I expected," Mal stated with open surprise as they walked back to the shuttle.

*** TBC in Chapter 6: Uninvited Guests


Thursday, May 13, 2004 6:03 AM


Things are moving right along. I'm certain we can trust Jayne. Surely. This time.

Thursday, May 13, 2004 7:09 AM


Shiny! Can't wait to see what the Captain's plan is and how they go about pulling it off. I also like it that Inara gets to help for a change. Good story, *xiexie ni* Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, May 13, 2004 3:05 PM


Shiny indeed!! This is a nice sized bite for the reader, gives us a nice piece of the story and has us longing for the next. can't wait for more.

I think I caught a typo for you to edit. see the insertion below:

Mal nodded with only a hint of a smile on his face. "I know that. But I [DON'T]need you drawing attention to yourself and I'd worry if I didn't know someone was with you."

Loving it!!

" I am."

Saturday, May 15, 2004 1:16 PM


love it.

Monday, May 17, 2004 8:57 AM


Really enjoying the story, and the thoughtful setup/buildup to the action. Good character play. Thanks for sharing!


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