Here Be Dragons (Part VIII)
Monday, May 24, 2004

The Crew face the invading Reavers under the Colony Dome


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 jebbypal

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

Book looked through the scope on his Sniper-Rifle. There weren’t enough of the precious Night-Vision Goggles to go around, but Jayne had picked up an Infra-Red Scope sometime in his career and had given it and the Rifle to the Shepherd along with a request not to damage either one.

The Reavers were clearly more than a little distressed. The only light in the dome came from flashes of gunfire and the two pools of light streaming through the Airlocks from the Reaver Ships themselves. Otherwise it was practically pitch-black.

A limited number of the Reavers possessed night-vision gear, possibly goggles or weapon scopes. These exceptions were easily spotted from their movements and body language.

Book methodically eliminated them one by one.

Find a target, aim, fire, pull back the bolt to load another round, find another target. Over and over and over again until it became routine.

Another life ended at his hands, then another.

So many today, but the men he killed today were so few compared with before.

Book quietly wept as he reloaded.

* * *

River held up a hand to stop Zoe before looking around a corner. A moment later she held up four fingers.

Zoe looked at the young woman and nodded. Everything was shades of green, but it was as bright as day through the goggles. She pulled a stun grenade from her combat vest, quietly pulled the pin, and threw it around the corner.

In spite of the weapons fire echoing through the dome, the explosion was deafening. Zoe dived around the corner while River followed in an upright position.

A volley of shots rang out.

Zoe was pleased with herself. She’d taken out two of the Reavers before River could gun them all down.

River signalled with her hands that there was another group close.

Zoe answered with her thoughts, ‘You take point this time.’

The telepath silently, gracefully, moved up the roadway. Zoe checked behind her and the pair began to stealthily hunt the next group.

* * *

‘Get Some,’ Mal screamed at the top of his lungs as he triggered another long burst from his Assault Rifle cutting down a pair of Reavers and sending others scrambling out of the way.

Simon was more methodical with three-round-bursts aimed at the centre-mass on his targets like he’d been taught. Strangely, it was the Captain who’d taught him how to shoot properly, but Mal simply didn’t practice what he preached preferring to yell and scream and add as much chaos as possible.

In the pitch-black Mal’s method seemed to be working. The Reavers were certainly spooked by the howling menace in their midst.

Simon considered yelling a bit himself, but it just seemed so crass.

The Doctor pulled the trigger again, the three shots slamming into an opponent who hadn’t even been looking the right way.

It was reminiscent of slaughter. In the dark they just didn’t have a chance despite superior numbers and ferocity.

In the back of his mind, the Doctor recited the Hippocratic Oath.

He pulled the trigger again. Another life ended.

Better him than me, Simon considered as he reached for a fresh magazine from his pack.

* * *

Jayne was kneeling across the street, half sheltered in a door way. Again and again Reavers appeared stumbling through the darkness and Vera repeatedly spat a Jet-Propelled Slug at them.

Once, Jayne waited until two Reavers were lined up in his gun-sights and took them both down with a single shot which slammed through the body-armour on the first, went straight through him, back out the body armour on the other side, and then ended its journey in the torso of the man behind.

Wash just knew the mercenary was going to tell that story at dinner. The pilot smirked to himself and decided to deny he’d seen it happen for at least six months.

The Pilot was far less terrified than he thought he’d be. It was odd, but the strangely sanitised view offered by the Night-Vision Goggles made it all seem a bit less real. You couldn’t see the red splash of blood as Jayne killed Reaver after Reaver. It looked more like a computer game than anything else, Wash thought. It was almost calming.

‘Are you rutting well gonna do something then?’ Jayne called out.

‘Just enjoy watching a professional at work,’ Wash yelled back before firing a few rounds at a target a couple of hundred yards away.

‘You missed,’ Jayne yelled. ‘Better get your amateur ass closer to the action!’

Wash took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly to calm himself. ‘Lead the way,’ he called out and began to follow the big-mercenary up the road.

A bayonet was stuck on the end of the pilot's Assault Rifle. Mal had insisted on it saying that if Wash found himself standing next to a Reaver, ramming six inches of sharp steel through him was a sure-fire way to get back out of the Dome in one piece.

As he followed Jayne up the road, part of Wash's mind pondered the fact that he was carrying the equivalent of a spear in his hands whilst earlier today he’d been flying a nuclear powered spaceship through the black.

More incongruous than that though, Mal’s other advice had been to use the Rifle Butt as a gorram club.

Talk about human progress.

* * *

The air-recycling system was hard pushed to cope with the smoke that was starting to build up in the dome, but for the most part it was drifting along close to ground level way below Steve’s position up on the roof.

Although he was still firing along the main roadway, the Targeting System on his Brimstone ISWS was tracking several Reavers as they moved along the rim of the dome out of line of sight of the others. A small arrow was projected into his vision through the targeting lens over his eyes indicating their direction and distance.

The group of Reavers was led by one of their number equipped with night-vision gear and they probably thought they would be successful in their efforts to outflank the defenders. They weren’t even yelling or screaming like their berserker brethren, acting in fact in a highly disciplined manner by their standards.

The Lancer waited until they were less than a hundred yards away, then picked up his Brimstone, loaded a fresh drum magazine, walked over to the other side of the roof and set the machine-gun to its maximum rate of fire.

A hundred rounds of 5mm ammunition scythed through the Reavers who were following their leader in a tight group.

The Brimstone went silent. Steve ejected the drum and went back to his previous firing position. It had taken him just under six seconds to empty the machine gun firing from the shoulder while leaning into the stock to fight the recoil. The Reavers had all been dead in the first four.

Steve loaded a two-hundred and fifty round box and reduced the rate of fire back down to a mere five-hundred per minute.

The targeting computer indicated another group near the airlock and recommended a firing pattern, projecting it in front of the Lancers eyes so it seemed to float in front of him.

Steve rested the bipod on the sandbags, pulled the trigger and the Brimstone began to sing again. Man and machine gun in perfect harmony, he thought as supersonic lead streamed towards the Reavers.

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Accelerating Hard – 2520AD

Shadow shot through the midst of the Reaver Vessels with all gun-ports and missile bays closed. A few laser beams lanced out and struck the AI, but it had orientated itself so these would not hit already damaged areas of his hull and they were not in contact long enough to do much more than raise the ships temperature a bit.

The Reavers breathed a sigh of relief. When the sensors indicated the thing was coming back towards them, they had assumed they were about to join their brothers already floating dead in vacuum. Instead the hostile ship had passed them by in pursuit of the fighters accelerating towards the planet.

They were still celebrating their survival when a barrage of missiles slammed into them and exploded converting them to metallic debris and unidentifiable body parts.

Shadow had launched the missiles a few minutes before, but had then accelerated past them so he was long past the targets by the time they arrived.

The AI took some pictures with his aft optical gear compensating for his own drive flare and signalled the images to the Fighters he was pursuing. A line of text was superimposed over the images. ‘Told you you’d be in a world of hurt when I got back,’ it said.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

‘Some of them are thinking about running,’ River announced. ‘We can’t let them leave.’

‘That’s for certain,’ Mal replied. They wanted the Reavers in the Dome, not outside thinking about blowing a hole in it. ‘Okay Steve, gloves are off. Get it done!’

‘Yes sir,’ responded the Lancer. It was time to introduce the Reavers to the Brimstone's other handy function.

From his position on the school roof, Steven had a direct line of sight to both airlocks to which the Reavers were docked. With the locks open and light streaming into the darkened dome from within the ships, they were an easy target even for a man who didn’t have a computer working out the trajectory for him.

The ISWS calculated the distance to the target, compensating for the local gravity. An aiming point appeared hovering in front of the Lancers eyes. He raised the Brimstone slightly so the point where he was aiming overlapped where he should be aiming.

‘On the way,’ he muttered to himself.

The integral grenade launcher fired with a metallic “ka-pung” sound and the first grenade hurtled across the dome. If not for the explosive sound of the Brimstone firing, you would have been able to hear a slight whistle as the grenade flew through the air before ending its flight path and going straight through the dome airlock. Travelling at a shallow angle the grenade actually hit the decking of the Reaver ship on the other side of the lock and skipped up to hit the far bulkhead at almost head height.

The explosion thundered through the dome. The first grenade had been a high explosive, as were two of the four that followed it. The last two were white phosphorus incendiary rounds.

Steven stood up and fired the rest of the ten round clip of mixed grenades through the airlock of the other Reaver ship.

‘Close the locks,’ he ordered.

In the tower, Book pressed the screen on River's Handheld Computer which was still linked to the Dome's main computer. The internal Airlocks slid shut leaving the raging infernos on the other side isolated from the Dome. You could still hear secondary explosions from within the ships right through the locks.

‘They’re cut off from their ships,' Steven announced, slapping another clip of grenades into his Brimstone.

‘We’ve herded them where we want them,’ Zoe announced. ‘There’s a big group stuck between me and Jayne.'

Endgame, just like they'd planned. ‘Give the word, Sir,’ Steven said.

Mal took a breath. ‘Burn them,’ he ordered.

‘No line of sight from here. Correct my trajectory,’ Steven said.

The Brimstone fired another grenade across the dome. It landed between two buildings and exploded in a fireworks display of burning phosphorus.

‘Correct Fifty Yards North,’ Zoe told him.

The targeting computer was set to display a grid so he could correct his aim easily. Steven did so and fired again. The next Grenade landed in the midst of a group of Reavers. They were already blind in the darkness and the sudden burst of light burned their eyes as much as the burning phosphorus burned their bodies. The cries of pain drowned out the noise of the continuing fire fight itself.

‘Direct hit. Fire five more rounds for effect,’ Zoe said.

More incendiary grenades arced across the dome. They exploded in light, fire, burning flesh and screams.

River had pulled off her goggles to watch the display. ‘Beautiful!’ she said in a reverent voice.

They had to have all the Reavers in the Dome before letting Steven do his thing. Use the Grenade Launcher too soon and they might have retreated and taken off. But conversely, let them spread out too far and they wouldn’t be bunched up enough to butcher en masse. It was simple, let the prey into the hunting ground, put them off balance, and then herd them into the killing fields.

Zoe and River started to move as Mal began calling in his own targets. Another salvo of grenades was landing on the other side of the dome when the two women began to move through the shadows caused by a myriad of small fires.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

The Bunker was sealed with its own air recycling system so you couldn’t hear the sounds of firing in the Dome above. There had been the occasional muffled thump of a grenade going off, but nothing more than that until series upon series of thumps in quick succession started to spook the colonists.

Irving came running over. ‘What is that?’ he demanded.

‘Daddy,’ Cally answered proudly. ‘That’ll be Daddy!’

Inara pulled the headset off. ‘You’re right,’ she said. ‘They’re springing the second part of the trap.’

‘What are you talking about? What is that noise?’ Irving asked worriedly.

‘Brimstone Infantry Support Weapons System,’ Cally informed him. Irving ignored her as he repeated the question to her mother. The Colony Leader was clearly none the wiser.

‘My Husband is firing his automatic grenade launcher. Each of those sounds is another grenade exploding,’ Jennifer answered. ‘I’ve heard it used before on Toulouse.’

‘Grenades… you’re firing grenades the Dome will be destroyed!’ Irving said in horror.

‘No, but it will be very messy. Quite charred in places too,’ Cally supplied.


‘White Phosphorus Incendiary Grenades. Lots and lots of them,’ she stated as another series of thumps slightly shook the bunker causing dust to fall from the ceiling lamps ‘Maybe some high explosives on any houses they try to hide in.’

Irving swallowed. ‘But our homes…’

‘Are less important than our peoples' lives,’ Inara said simply. ‘You can rebuild your homes, you can’t resurrect our crew.’

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – decelerating Hard – 2520AD

The Reaver fighters were already starting to decelerate prior to dropping into Revelation's thin atmosphere. By leaving his deceleration to the last second and burning harder than they could, Shadow was actually still gaining fast. However he was still not going to get to them before they made the transition.

The Dome however was on the other side of Revelation. The AI had run the math and it was still possible to get to them before they got to the Colony. However, that meant re-entry was going to be a bit faster than recommended, especially with a couple of holes burned through his hull.

Shadow ran the calculations. Worked out the best angle to hit the atmosphere, allowed for all the variables, ran the numbers a hundred times just to be sure and braced for a very hot, shaky and inadvisable arrival. The AI hoped like hell that the block of plastic-explosive next to his reactor was stable enough to take this kind of punishment. It had already been heated and irradiated and was about to be seriously vibrated.

Shadow closed the armoured ports over his optical sensors just before smashing into the atmosphere. It was a good idea and should protect them from damage. A human might anthropomorphise and say the ship was closing his eyes to the danger. Shadow couldn’t do that even if he wished he could, his Radar and other sensors were still working fine.

Ignorance is bliss, thought the AI as the ship entered the atmosphere.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

The smoke was getting thick. ‘Respirators on,’ Mal ordered as he pulled his own mask over his mouth and nose. It was connected to a small, though surprisingly heavy, one litre air tank fastened to the small battle-pack on his back.

The little airtank was at a very high pressure. Well over a thousand atmospheres, high enough in fact that the gas inside was actually a liquid which is why it was so heavy. Well that and the very thick casing required to keep that much pressure from messily escaping and taking the wearer with it.

Back in the war, Mal had once watched a man get shot in one of these tanks during a fire-fight on a moon where the terraforming was still incomplete and you needed oxygen if not a full EVA suit. The resulting explosion when the tank went up made a grenade going off look like a cherry bomb. They had to scrape bits of the soldier off half the platoon.

With the masks on communication was muffled, but you could still make yourself understood if you spoke clearly, and very loudly. ‘We’re moving up. Put an extra round in anything you see already on the dirt. Might be dead, might just be wounded or might be keeping low to avoid the smoke,’ the Captain told Simon.

‘Yes Sir,’ the Doctor responded. Up until now they had remained a reasonable distance from the Reavers, sniping at the enemy from the darkness. Now they would get in amongst them. It was not an attractive notion.

‘Let's go son,’ Mal commanded and began to move with Simon covering his rear. When he halted, he would cover Simon as the doctor moved up. Nothing fancy just good military sense, a moving target is hard to hit and a stable firing platform was good for the other man in case anything appeared. Just keep sharp, keep alert, and kill anything that moves, re-kill anything that doesn’t.

Too much going on to be scared.


* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Revelation – 2520AD

Shadow opened his optical sensor ports again and scanned ahead. The four Reaver Fighters had a lead on him, but nowhere close to his drive output so he was still gaining tearing through the atmosphere.

The AI ship had never had a chance to dump its excess heat. After firing his energy weapons, being struck by others, running his reactor at redline for hours on end and then making a very unpleasant re-entry, not only was the hull hotter than hell, but he was having to dump coolant into both the controls and his own electrical systems just to prevent a total system shutdown.

The missile bays had gotten so hot he was worried one of the warheads might cook off. The bay doors themselves were so warped by heat expansion he couldn’t even open them. They’d need the attention of Kaylee the mechanic and possibly a plasma welder and a hammer to fix them now. Directed Energy Weapons were still off line as was the Railgun.

The Ship was in a very sorry state.

Shadow sent a wave to the Reaver fighters, ‘Four on one. I’m shot to pieces, my hull's halfway melted, my Lasers ain’t working and you’re still running away.’

No reaction.

‘Cowardly gôushî bùrú,’ he taunted.

No reaction.

‘I’m going to have bits of your fighters bolted to my hull as trophies you know!’

Three of the fighters pealed off and began to head towards him.

‘When I’m done with your buddies, I’ll pay you a visit,’ Shadow signalled to the fourth fighter still streaking towards the Dome.

‘I do enjoy a good old fashioned dogfight!’ the AI announced as he began to violently jink and drop flares and chaff to avoid the ship-to-ship missiles that began to streak towards him.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

The Infra-Red sight on Book’s Rifle wasn’t coping as well with the small fires. It was one of the inferior designs used by the desperate Independent Forces towards the end of the war and had a tendency for the image to flare if there was a lot of fire about.

Every so often he still got a clear shot and ended another Reaver Life, but he could no longer fire indiscriminately with his own people on the move down there. This meant he finally had time to seriously think about his actions.

Dozens of human beings were lying dead or wounded because of him today. There had been so many Reavers to shoot at that after a while he had just begun to act mechanically and the tears had stopped.

Now they started again.

I wanted so much to escape this life. To devote myself to God, to make atonement, Book thought. Now I’m a killer again.

Another Reaver appeared in the clear

The Shepherd gunned him down.

So many deaths at my hands, he thought with regret as he reloaded once again.

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Revelation – 2520AD

The ship had easily avoided the missiles and was now apparently running for its life, flying at less than a hundred feet from the ground jerkily trying to avoid the laser fire from the two Reaver ships on its tail. It was stupid. You can’t really dodge a Laser, you can only keep moving to avoid proper burn through. That tactic was not going to work very long.

The strange craft appeared to be broadly a stretched diamond in shape and was black as night except for the places where previous weapons fire had burned through the hull. It was clearly very stealthy in both shape and material judging from the difficulty Radar had in getting a decent lock.

On Infra-Red Tracking; however, it positively glowed.

The closest Reaver fighter closed for a kill.

Shadow watched the two pursuing fighters on his tail through a rear optical sensor. They were close now, almost the perfect distance.

Towards the bow of the AI Warship, canard wings slid smoothly into place. Paddles moved into the engine exhaust at the rear. Armoured panels in the ships nose opened up.

Shadow flipped the canards nose and dropped the paddles into his exhaust to vector the thrust in the opposite direction. Small retro rockets across the ship flared to assist the manoeuvre still further.

In the blink of an eye, Shadow flipped his nose upwards and his stern downwards before the closest Reaver Pilot could even hope to react.

For a split second Shadow was actually flying backwards and upside down.

The closest Reaver pilot found himself looking straight into twin chain guns. The next to last thing that went through his mind was, 'Oh shit!' The last thing that went through it was a 30mm round of Depleted Uranium.

A short burst of cannon fire tore the Reaver Fighter apart. The other fighter on his tail pulled up sharply to avoid the fire.

The pilot couldn’t hope to match Shadow's speed of light reflexes. The AI had already re-pitched his canards and thrust vectoring to compensate and the second fighter actually flew straight through a line of 30mm shells that tore off one wing sending the craft spinning to the ground.

The AI flipped again so that its nose faced straight up and thundered skywards. The third Reaver fighter had been keeping more distance and accelerated away as soon as it saw the fate of its comrades.

Shadow pulled around in a tight loop and was soon flying alongside the third fighter.

The Reaver banked violently, dove, then pulled a loop of his own. When he looked, he found the other ship had matched the manoeuvre perfectly and was in the exact same relative position as it had been before he tried to escape.

‘Just getting a few pictures,’ Shadow signalled across. ‘Okay that’s enough.’

Retro rockets fired fore and aft and the ship was suddenly flying sideways through the air on inertia with its drive cut for an instant. The twin cannon fired another burst punching a series of holes right along the side of the fighter from the cockpit to the engine.

Shadow was accelerating again as the pulverised fighter fell from the sky smashed into a low hill and exploded lighting up the surroundings.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

Zoe was loading another magazine when River got up and started running. If anyone else had done it, Zoe would have thought they were crazy. Zoe knew for a fact River was crazy, but she did have the telepath thing going for her which made up for a whole heap of sanity in a fire fight.

River ran around a corner with her Wolverine Carbine shouldered at the ready and ran down a group of Reavers who were moving stunned, blind and aimlessly in the dark. Seven Reavers, so seven bursts of fire at a dead run. Keep moving, don’t stop.

Another Reaver, put a three-round-burst through the chest dropping him instantly. Keep moving, don’t stop.

Turn a corner, wounded screaming Reavers on the ground. The smell of burning flesh and phosphorus even through the mask, fire the rest of the clip. Pull your pistol shoot the rest. Holster the pistol, load another clip into the carbine. Keep moving, don’t stop.

Three of them firing in all directions except the one you’re running down. You know this, you’re reading them. Gun them down. Keep moving, don’t stop.

Up the pace, finish this quickly.

Keep moving.

* * *

This was sheer unmitigated slaughter. Mal knew the Reavers were rabble, worse the burnt dregs of rabble scrabbling in the dark being hunted. No discipline. Berserker fighters, brave to the point of being suicidal. But they had no coherent tactics or strategy and they were a far more deadly adversary as a collective than as individuals. On their own they’re just psychotics, and insanity is no match for a clear head when the other side is working to a plan.

Not a complicated plan but a plan nonetheless. Draw them in, disorientate them, cut off their retreat before finally cutting them down. Steer them with firing lanes and grenade traps while trusting them to be unimaginative enough not to realise what was going on until too late, if ever.

River thought of this as a chess-game, all move and counter move. Mal thought of it as slightly organised mayhem. Didn’t much matter anyhow, they were winning.

Doc was holding his own. He didn’t have the killer instinct yet; but he was smart, fast, and no where near the piss-poor shot he’s used to be. Did his job and allowed Mal to do his.

The smoke was getting thicker and thicker. Several homes were now ablaze although fire-suppression sprinklers were stopping the whole gorram place from burning down. Good thing they had these masks and goggles or they’d be in the same mess as the rutting Reavers. There was not much wood about, but the plastics burned well enough and made a thicker blacker and more choking smoke.

Now it was easy kills for the most part. Most of them were still screaming and hollering like they usually do to scare the folks they’ve come to kill. Lots of them were screaming thanks to the phosphorus Steve had dropped all over them.

Guess the Lancer was going to be having a few more of his nightmares after this.

You had to say one thing for the screaming though it made it easy to find them. Find them and finish them off.

The headset crackle to life again. ‘I’m out of targets. Coming down to mop upm’ Steven announced. ‘Anybody need me?’

‘Bit of action down here,’ Jayne declared yelling over the sound of Wash’s rifle going full-auto very close to his head.

‘On my way!’

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Revelation – 2520AD

The atmosphere was frigid which made the ship stand out even more against the surroundings as it gained on the fourth fighter which would be tracking it by Infra Red.

Shadow sent a signal to the Reaver fighter. It was a live video feed from Shadow's optical gear showing a fighter getting bigger and bigger in Shadow’s gun-sights until you could actually see details on the hull.

‘You can keep flying and take it like a bitch or turn around and try your luck,’ Shadow signalled. ‘I’m going to tear you a new one either way.’

The Fighter banked sharply.

The AI chuckled to itself. So easily provoked, if it had kept going it would have got to the Dome before Shadow could catch up.

The Reaver fighter continued to turn until it was heading straight for the AI.

‘If we’re playing chicken you should know I ain’t got any balls, but I’ll bet that’s more than you,’ Shadow signalled.

The two ships kept going on a collision course. The Fighters lasers lanced out and began to burn into the AI Warships nose.

It was on the verge of almost doing noteworthy damage when Shadow's chainguns ripped it apart.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

Unlike the other teams, Jayne and Wash had found themselves involved in a sustained fire fight that precluded much movement. A few of the more disciplined Reavers had holed up and poured constant, although inaccurate, fire back towards the pair.

The mercenary was a good shot. He had found himself a nice spot and let Vera do her thing gunning down target after target. Although he could appear to be prone to uncontrolled aggression, Jayne was actually very methodical in his work, or rather his craft as he liked to think about it. He practised rigorously, studied his field as much as he could, and looked after his tools.

Jayne had no qualms about killing folk, not that Reavers qualified as people anyway. Others may agonise about it, but he already knew he was likely going to hell so it didn’t much matter now what he did.

As he reloaded once again Jayne looked over to Wash. He could never really decide if he liked the pilot or not. He was funny alright, but mocked him and not always fairly to Jayne’s mind. On the other hand, he was a great pilot who had saved his life on more than a few occasions. The other man was also willing to step up and bare iron when needed, proving he sure wasn’t no coward.

The mercenary shouldered the Callahan once again and began firing just as Wash dropped his Rifle.

‘I’m out,’ he yelled pulling his pistol.

‘I rutting told you not to waste ammo!’ Jayne called back.

Wash took aim, but didn’t fire. To do so with a pistol at this range would be just another waste of ammunition ‘Don’t tell Zoe,’ he called out. ‘She’ll kick my ass.’

‘She’ll have to join the queue,’ Jayne declared and pulled the rifle's trigger. Another jet-propelled Callahan slug ended another Reavers time in the ‘Verse leaving behind only a trail in the smoke.

A storm of tracer fire lit up this part of the dome streaking past Jayne and Wash. The pilot turned to see Steven walking up the road with his brimstone shouldered firing a stream of rounds. The soldier was using his own firing as cover because not even Reavers were going to look out with that lot headed their way.

‘This is going to be loud,’ Steven called out and triggered his grenade launcher sending a trio of high-explosive rounds into the side of a building which promptly collapsed onto the Reaver position.

‘Rutting hell Steve, that was a bit drastic,’ Wash called out once the echoes died down.

‘Don’t like the locals much anyways!’ the Lancer declared pulling an empty ammunition box off his machine gun and loading another from his backpack. ‘Take them ages to clear this mess up!’

‘We're moving,’ Jayne said rising to his feet.

‘Only a few left. Can’t let River have all the fun,’ Steven agreed.

‘I’ll lead,’ Jayne announced.

‘I was going to suggest the same thing,’ Wash responded, ‘you leading I mean.’

The mercenary frowned and began to move.

* * *

The dome began to shake. ‘What the hell is that?’ Zoe called out.

‘Ship lifting from the South lock,’ Wash replied. ‘I guess we didn’t cripple her with the Recoilless and they must have got the fires under control.’

‘They’re going to take off and ram the dome,’ River announced. ‘Ship's pilot is thinking of nothing else.'

‘She’s off,’ Wash declared. You could see the drives of the Reaver ship lighting up the Dome as she lifted. ‘She’ll move away so she can build up some speed before ramming just to make sure.’

The big transport did as Wash predicted drifted slowly away under power until it was a half mile from the dome, then it spun and you could see the end light up as it powered up its main drive.

Mal thought he should speak words, but none came. There was no justice to be had in the ‘Verse.

Something black moving too fast to see streaked over the dome followed by a sonic boom that shook the entire colony. Cannon fire lanced out smashing into the transport tearing off its port thrusters then hammering along its body. It crashed to the ground and exploded making the Dome momentarily bright as day.

When the darkness came again the shape returned and hovered over the dome for a few seconds before turning and landing just outside the colony. When it set down, steam began to boil from the frozen surface. It must have been hotter than the fires of hell.

Another voice tuned into the frequency being used by the crew. ‘I would just like to have it stated for the record,’ it began, ‘that Von Richthofen was a pussy!’

The AI warship powered down his engines and hoped he was in some way repairable.

* * *

The last few minutes of the fighting were pure mopping up. River’s charge through the midst of their ranks had devastated the Reavers and the last pockets of resistance were crushed underfoot.

When the firing finally subsided, River radioed Mal and told him there were no more Reavers still fighting. He then ordered her, Wash, and Simon back to the town-hall.

Simon wanted to know why, but his sister grabbed him and dragged him along. ‘This isn’t for you,’ she told her brother. ‘Only for those that can live with it easier.’

‘I’ve got one in decent condition over here,’ Zoe declared. ‘Tied up, stunned, and gagged.’

‘Want the lights back on?’ Book asked.

‘Couldn’t see properly with the smoke anyhow and it’d only interfere with the goggles, so no,’ the Captain replied.

‘Wouldn't want to see the colours anyway,’ Zoe said simply.

Jayne put down Vera. Steven dumped his Brimstone and pulled his pistol.

‘Make it quick and clean’ Mal ordered.

‘Yes Sir.’

Captain Reynolds moved over to the closest wounded Reaver. He was burnt along his back by phosphorus and looked like he had a hole in him to boot. Mal aimed his rifle and fired. He then looked around, spotted another one, aimed and fired again.

The four crewmen moved around the dome. Single shots continued to echo for the next twenty minutes.

Eventually all was silence.

Part IX


Monday, May 24, 2004 12:47 PM


Glad to see you back in harness, Hotpoint, with a bang-up ending to a bad lot. Glad you had time for some character moments, like between Wash and Jayne. All in all, well worth the wait.

Monday, May 24, 2004 1:23 PM


Oh wow, this is so brilliant and it was sheer joy to see you had a new part up and posted. Way too long since your last fabulous chapter. As for the AI ship, I love it! Not only is it the smartest hunk of junk in the galaxy it has a great and seriously warped sense of humour. Yup, must have been modelled on our Captain. *Xiexie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 24, 2004 1:56 PM


I'll say it was worth the wait...great, that was just great, Hotpoint. Always knew Mal was battle-smart...Please keep'em coming

Friday, May 28, 2004 5:39 PM


Great piece of action/battle writing--clear, concise, and with good character workmanship throughout. Well done!


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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