Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"The Captain discovers he is not dreaming about his scary new companion. As the Alliance prepare to hunt them down the crew discover more about Savanna."



SUMMARY: "The Captain discovers he is not dreaming about his scary new companion. As the Alliance await help in tracking down the crew not everything goes their way." 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.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Wash couldn't help but get more and more concerned. As they cautiously circled the place where the ship had come down there could be no missing the activity below. Alliance soldiers were everywhere, most appeared to be guarding access to and from the Firefly. Zoe recognised a holding pattern when she saw one but it told her one thing that was good news.

"They didn't find them."

The pilot blinked at her. "*Shenme*?"

A cold little smirk drifted over Zoe's lips and vanished. "The others."

"How can you be so sure? I mean, look at all the soldiers *bao bei*."

Zoe nodded. More certain now as she peered carefully over the lip of the hill. "Exactly, *zhangfu*. You don't set guard around a ship if you already have the crew."

"Maybe they have the others and are just waiting to catch us?"

Her smile was kind of unsettling. As if she was humouring him and yet he would die for that smile. "*Xin gan* as priceless as you are to me they aren't lookin' for us."

Wash blinked. "They're not?"

"*Bu qu*. They're lookin' for River an' Simon. The fact that they're guardin' Serenity means they ain't found 'em."


"Don't give up on 'em, Wash. We need to get away from here an' find the others without making the purplebellies aware we came back."


The first mate paused and looked at her husband. "Yeah, baby?"

"We're not gettin' out of this are we?"

She closed the distance between them so quickly he almost staggered back out of reflex. Leaning in so close that he could count the pores on her face, Zoe hissed at him. "I'm not givin' up which means neither are you, *dong ma*? Cap'n's relyin' on us to find the others an' if we don't get Simon to him soon it won't matter."

"*Duibuqi*, didn't mean I was givin' up it's just..." Wash trailed off and aborted what he was going to say. "Okay, which way?"

Relief flooded through Zoe's veins. With an approving nod she indicated moving off to the right and Wash followed in silence, eyes quietly scanning as they picked their way stealthily around the bank they had climbed to view Serenity. Carefully looking for anywhere that might afford shelter or a hiding place and any sign that someone else had been there before them. They had to move fast. Not just for Mal but to get to the others before the Alliance brought in more troops and scoured this moon until every one of them had been taken into custody.

* * * * *

Waking was a blur of sensations at war with intellect. Malcolm Reynolds felt oddly safe but the conditions of that safety were confusing. He felt the padded blow before something large and heavy nudged him harder. It didn't hurt so much as shock him. What the good gorram was it? Tentatively he managed to raise his left hand, surprised when something furry brushed his palm. He froze, not daring to move. The sensation of fur against his skin was kind'a creepifying. The movement stopped and something nudged his shoulder again. Mal raised his hand higher and felt the rectangular shape of a fur covered head and felt all the blood in his veins go cold.

A slow deep throated murmur reverberated through the beast and Mal found himself stroking the huge head, muttering soft calming words. To his surprise the beast didn't attack him, the head turning and nudging against his hand for more attention. If he was not so shocked Mal would have laughed. The creature felt huge. Some kind of big cat by the size and feel of its' coat but what the good gorram was it doing and why in the nine hells hadn't it eaten him? Not that he wanted to tempt Fate nor nothing but Malcolm Reynolds had learnt a thing or two about that fickle lady and she didn't have no soft spot for a beaten and 'verse weary Independent Sergeant trying to eek out a living in a 'verse ruled by his gorram enemies.

The big cat turned its' head, warm breath puffing into Mal's face. Not sure what to do he kept talking, his hand lightly rubbing and stroking the fur head. "What you doin' here, hmmm? You hidin' out from them gorram *tamade hundan* as well?"

The cat licked his face. Mal froze. Terror rising in his chest then relief quickly following as he realised he wasn't about to make the beast's meal of the day. At least, not yet. For the first time since the crash the Captain was glad he could not see. The beast seemed to like the sound of his voice so the Captain began to tell it stories. Any gorram thing that came into his fool head. Mayhap this was just a gorram dream. Might be he had a fever. Whatever it was he needed to keep the animal calm but he was so gorram tired. As his words trailed off he vaguely felt a gentle nudge, then the tapping of a huge velvet paw against his face. He mumbled against the paw which patted him again, then felt the coarse lick of the big cat's tongue trying to rouse him. The huge tongue rasping up his neck and the side of his face. Mal couldn't squirm out of its' way or turn his head. A sigh eased out of his slack lips as darkness claimed him. The big cat gazed down at him with great golden eyes, settled its' body carefully across his chest and blinked lazily before laying its' huge head on its' paws like some mythical beast keeping watch over him.

* * * * *

It was Jayne who found the border. More by accident than by design seeing as how he was trying to stay out of the way of all them purplebellies. It was one thing to pick them off one at a time but no way was he going to tangle with a great pile of those *wangba dans*. He left stupid notions of such heroics up to his *shenjingbing* and *wangu* Captain. Picking a direction Jayne headed away from the ship after hiding the latest body as best he could from casual sight. He needed to get away, think of a plan to find the others. Always supposing they wasn't nabbed already. Jayne didn't want to think along those lines because if he did it meant he had exactly no chance of getting off this eerie assed moon. All told he had killed three Alliance soldiers but more kept pouring out of that gorram Alliance ship. That was his cue to move on.

On first inspection the place had looked pretty homey. All them gorram grassed plains and such, like a rutting prairie but with more trees dotted about. Was pretty much flat apart from a few gently rolling hills on what he mentally dubbed the North side. Couldn't tell one direction from another on a moon with two gorram suns. No wonder the place was hot as hell by day and cold as ice by night. He wondered why it wasn't all desert, would'a made more sense. Yet as he worked his way outward, the grassed plain and trees became sparser. Poor soil overtaking the lush pastureland, the soil then becoming naked of plant life altogether. Made him feel all manner of creeped out. At least he thought that was the worst it could get till he hit the flat endless vista of concrete.

Frowning in confusion, Jayne Cobb stared at the most nothing he'd seen in his entire life. Weren't no mean feat either given the kind of life he'd led. "What in the nine hells is this?"

Confused he turned slowly and could just make out some kind of blocky buildings in the distance. Reckoned they were probably concrete too being as they were the same kind of ugly grey. Not only was this a *lese* moon, it was also a boring one too. He was thinking on heading back when he heard what sounded like a vehicle start up back across the prairie where the purplebellies were. That decided him. This place was too gorram open for safety. Like it or not he would have to cross the concrete flats to the only structures he had seen since his life had gone to *diyu*. As the mercenary drew nearer the buildings wavered a mite in the heat almost as if they were moving. Jayne pressed on, his senses on high alert. All he needed was a building with a flat enough roof where he could set himself up and look down his gunsights. Would give him the best view of the lunatics in this crazy asylum. Like they said in the gorram cortex movies - it was all about location, location, location.

* * * * *

"Where should we start?"

Kaylee wasn't sure how to answer Simon. Things looked bad. Real bad. The Preacher's calm soothing tone was a welcome antidote to the anxiety building in Kaylee's mind. "We have to suppose that the others went looking for somewhere to shelter and hide, we have to do the same."

"Yeah, but if everybody is hidin' how we gonna find each other?"

The Preacher smiled at Kaylee. River seemed unconcerned with their predicament, leaning down to look closer at the heads of the grasses, as if incredible microscopic worlds swayed around her feet just waiting to be introduced.

"Our problem isn't simply findin' the others but in makin' sure we don't get caught."

Simon frowned. "That isn't much comfort, Shepherd."

"I never said it would be easy," Said Book mildly, eyes holding a hint of amusement. "As the Captain would say instead of thinkin' about what we don't got let's look at what we do. We're still free, 'at large'. Serenity is still here an' the others are out here somewhere. Our first duty is to stay free. We won't be any good to anyone if we let ourselves get caught."

River tilted her head, no longer looking at the grass stalks. The others did not notice that she appeared to be deeply intent on something *in* the grass.

Kaylee and Simon were looking around, their expressions becoming more dispairing. Kaylee sighed. "There ain't nothin' out here."

"Oh, I don't think you're seeing the whole picture."

"If you can see something we can't," Said Simon. "I'm all ears."

The Preacher smiled slightly. "This is not a natural moon, Simon."

Now he had Simon and Kaylee's full attention. "It isn't?"

Book chuckled lightly. "It's been terraformed or perhaps I should say, they began terraformin' this place."

Without looking up River spoke. "Experiment. Left when it became too expensive with not enough return."

"River?" Simon's sister ignored him. Ignored them all. The grass was talking to her.

"What d'ya mean they started terraformin'?" Kaylee looked at the grassland and the sporadic stands of trees dotted all around. The gently undulating hills the other side of where Serenity was. Only the fact that they had retreated far enough to find some spindly brush gave them any kind of camoflage at all. They had to press on, find somewhere soon before the enemy finished with the ship and turned their attention to finding the missing crew.

* * * * *

"This is trouble you don't want to be part of, believe me." Leylani cautioned.

Inara stared at her, not quite believing they were having this conversation. "What do you mean?"

"I've already said too much."

Realising Leylani was going to clam up, Inara took a step towards her. "No, you haven't said nearly enough."

For a moment neither woman spoke then Leylani awkwardly cleared her throat. "Inara, there is nothing you can do. It's better this way."

"Better for who? I don't believe that and if you were really my friend you wouldn't believe it either."

Leylani looked beyond miserable, she looked worried. Not for herself or the hapless crew of the Firefly but for Inara. "Their fate does not have to be yours, sister. You are a valuable asset to the Guild..."

Inara cut her off. Horrified and coldly angry now. "An asset? Is that all I am?"

Leylani blinked at her in surprise.

"What happened to friendship? Sisterhood?"

"You should rest Inara, you must be tired."

"You are right." Inara nodded, closing the last bit of distance between them. "I 'am' tired. Tired of the lies. You 'knew' this was going to happen. Sheydra obviously did if she waved to you to warn me. What I want to know is why you made sure I couldn't warn Serenity."

"They are carrying fugitives from Alliance justice."

"Says who?"

Leylani felt uncomfortable. Not sure what to say that wouldn't make things worse. "I'm sure the Alliance will let the others go..."

Her mind already racing through the possibilities Inara shook her head. "*Bu qu*, once the Alliance have my friends no one will escape."

For the first time since the conversation had begun Leylani looked uncertain, almost queasy. "But Sheydra said they only wanted the boy and girl. The crew would be set free."

Inara's laugh was a sharp bitter bark, sarcastic and hollow as an empty grave. "The Alliance will want to destroy any witnesses. In your eagerness to please the Guild you have just sentenced my friends to death."

The poor woman's mouth fell slack, her eyes filled with horror. Distressed beyond words Leylani's eyes soon filled with tears. Inara hardened her heart towards her former friend. Any show of weakness now would lose any ground she had made.

"There may however," Said Inara slowly, as if reluctant to speak the words. "Be some way you can help make amends."

Seeing a way to redeem herself, Leylandi turned bright shining eyes of hope on Inara. "*Qing*, Inara, I'll do anything! Just tell me what I can do to make this right."

Inara gave her a stone cold look. "How do I know you will not betray my trust in you?" Leylani looked stricken. "Inara, I would never betray you!"

"What about unconsciously?"

Leylani blinked in momentary confusion.

"You might let slip this conversation the next time you speak to Sheydra or one of the others."

"Oh no, no, no! Merciful Buddha, I would never do that!" Leylani drew a cross with her index finger over her heart.

Inara gave an extenuated sigh, as if on the verge of dismissing what she was about to say. "It would be dangerous..."

"I'll do it!"

"You don't know what you ask, Leylani. As cross as I am with this situation I cannot ask you to put your own life at risk." "Then don't! I volunteer."

Inara stared at her for a full minute, weighing the woman's resolve. "You realise if you help and get caught you stand to lose everything? Your standing with the Guild, perhaps even your life?"

"Tell me you would do differently in my position, Inara?"

Inara shook her head but resisted the temptation to tell Leylani she would never put herself in such a position because she would not betray her friends in the first place. It would be counterproductive and given Leylani's genuine distress would be cruel as well. Leylani had acted in good conscience thinking only to save Inara. It was Sheydra who had shamelessly used Leylani, manipulating her compassion. It was why Leylani had been used to pass the message. Inara would have seen right through Sheydra's artifice and warned her friends. Inara did not want to think about what that might mean about the inner politics of House Madrassa or why her former friend was going to such lengths to keep her safe.

* * * * *

Jayne Cobb was a mercenary and like to be a mean one if circumstances warranted it. *Diyu*, he was like to be mean and nasty even if they didn't should the mood take him. But now, for the first time since his ma had berthed him, he was truly thunderstruck. The distance across the concrete flats had been further than expected. Winded and breathing heavily from the exertion and the oddly thin air he stared in astonishment at the structures he had viewed as his salvation. Felt like the gorram ground was falling away beneath his rutting feet leaving him adrift in every meaning of the word. Pinned to the turning wheel of this mockery of a moon parading as some brand new world. Yet in some respects the truth dwarfed the fiction. Jayne blinked. The big grey wall swayed before his eyes. Jayne's heart beat faster and faster, the moisture in his mouth gone dry, excitement building once the panic and horror were left with nowhere to go. T'weren't possible and yet here he was. Alive, mostly in his own mind, and staring the impossible in the gorram eye.

* * * * *

The ship landed, all shiny and precise. As the back opened up rows of red armoured soldiers jogged down the ramp like soldier ants. Zoe swore and ducked down.

"*Wode ma, bao bei*, how we gonna find the others now?" Hissed Wash.

She angled her face towards her husband but her eyes remained firmly fixed on the enemy below. "Carefully, *zhangfu*."

Wash's eyebrows rose in surprise but his wife was not being funny. For a brief moment it flashed through the pilot's mind that whatever they did they would not be able to find Simon and get him to the Captain in time before he bled out. For once he did not feel like sharing his thoughts with his wife. Better to do what little they could and hope for a gorram miracle. After all, it had to be their turn by now.

They crept back from the edge and worked their way down the bank, Zoe's eyes narrowing in concern at the lack of cover. Wash looked a mite baffled.

"There's nothin' here, Zoe. Apart from this hill and a few scattered trees this place is flat as a pancake. How in *diyu* are we gonna find a place to hide in this? An' if there's nowhere to hide how come we can't find the others?"

The voice behind Wash made him jump so hard he was surprised his heart continued to beat.

"Really Wash, where is your faith?"

The relief at finding the Preacher was only outdone by the sight of Kaylee and Simon joining Book seemingly out of the ground. Zoe spared a fleeting smile for her husband and gently nudged his chin with one hand. "Close your mouth *zhangfu*, you'll catch flies."

Wash blinked. "There's flies? No one said anythin' about flies."

Zoe began mentally counting heads. "Where's River?"

A muffled voice answered. "Everything goes underground to escape the heat."

Zoe looked in query at Book. He smiled, Kaylee shrugged and Simon found himself explaining. "We found tunnels."

River's head popped up between some clumps of grass. "Have to get underground, now. *Mashang* before the sleepy heads awake.!"

Even though her words made no sense Zoe and Wash hurried over to the disappearing head and only when they were virtually on top of River's position did they see the cleverly concealed hatch. Wash grinned. "*Wei*! We actually may live to talk about this adventure."

"Go down, *bao bei*, before survival becomes a moot point."

Kaylee and Simon hurried down the hatch with Wash following, Book hanging back to cover Zoe. Reluctantly she followed, her relief at finding somewhere to hide overshadowed by worry for the Captain. She felt like they were deserting him. Leaving him to the dogs of war. Made her all manner of itchy. As they closed the hatch above their heads little motes of light fluttered down to them on shiny grains of crystalline dust. Like specks of diamond glittering in the darkness. There was something very alien about the place but in an emergency any bolt hole was welcome.

"How did you find this place?"

"Book worked it out." Said Kaylee proudly. Simon smiled at her and even though she couldn't see it properly in the dimness she could feel it.

Zoe blinked. Eyes adjusting as she began to make out more detail. The tunnel widened as they moved along and some of the rock faces seemed to glow. It was more than a little spooky but oddly enough she soon accepted it. Somehow the weirdness just seemed to fit. "How did you know this was here, Shepherd?"

"I didn't." Book paused. "My suspicion grew the more I looked around. You see, this isn't a natural moon."

"Then what is it?" Asked Wash, his head turning back and forth as if he couldn't decide what was most disconcerting about the huge open space the tunnel led them into. He wasn't sure he liked it but beggars couldn't be choosers.

"It's man made."

Zoe and Wash stopped walking and stared in stunned silence. Simon could sympathise with their shock. He had felt much the same when Book first postulated his theory. Kaylee moved closer to Simon and took his hand. Simon gave her hand a squeeze and she felt some of the tension ease. Wash nodded, "Yes, but it must have taken a long time to carve out these underground caves."

"They aren't caves." Said River.

Everyone stared at her.

"It's a pretty bauble, hollow inside but no ornament."

"Are you sayin'," Zoe looked from River to Book. "That the whole gorram moon is a construct?"

Book nodded. "Yes. One of the biggest man made structures I've ever seen."

"Why would anyone want to build a moon?"

"Wash honey, they terraform planets."

He gave Zoe a little look of frustration. "I know that, *bao bei*, but that's using planets that already exist. This," Wash broke off and stared around him. "This is makin' a world from scratch. I can't imagine how anyone would go about doing somethin' on this scale or why anyone would even bother."

"To populate empty sky." River explained. "It's what you do when you already own everything else."

They stared at her, more than a little uncomfortable at the turn of conversation. A nasty thought occurred to Simon. "Then they know this moon is hollow?"

Book nodded, not looking at any of them now. Zoe noticed the Shepherd was looking above their heads and tried to fathom what he was looking at. It took but a moment to realise he was listening intently. Book did not speak for a moment or two, when he did his voice was soft and hushed. "Not the men on the ground perhaps but certainly their commanders."

Zoe's eyes narrowed. "Why do you say that?"

"Because knowledge is power and whoever holds the power wants to keep it that way. It wasn't only the politicians of every age that wanted to keep the people ignorant."

Her skin began to prickle putting Zoe on edge. "Where's Jayne?"

"We haven't seen him since we left the ship. He was covering us." Book said slowly, his voice sounding concerned but not yet ready to panic. Jayne was a mercenary and a very good one at that. His survival skills were probably even better than Zoe's and the Captain's. "When the Alliance showed up the only way to stand a chance of not being spotted was by splitting into smaller groups speaking of which where's the Captain?"

"Got injured. We had to leave him in a cave while we came lookin' for Simon."

Simon's head spun in her direction. "Injured? How did that happen an' how bad is it?"

"It's bad. When Serenity crashed the Captain was in the hold tying down the cargo. Some crates slid as the boat dipped and he got crushed between the crates and the mule. Think he maybe cracked some ribs."

"Where's the cave?" Said Simon, inwardly lamenting that all he had was a basic first aid kit. The only thing he managed to grab before they left the downed transport.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shenme* = what *bao bei* = precious/treasure *zhangfu* = husband *xin gan* = sweetheart *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *dong ma* = understand? *duibuqi* = sorry *tamade hundan* = fucking bastards *shenjingbing* = crazy *wangu* = stubborn *lese* = crappy *diyu* = hell *qing* = please *wode ma* = mother of God *mashang* = quickly/at once/immediately


Tuesday, August 22, 2006 3:39 PM


Can't wait to see what happens next!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006 7:53 AM


ooh, this is so good, Ali. I love this line, so poetic and true:

"Because knowledge is power and whoever holds the power wants to keep it that way."

a secret man-made moon with tunnels and giant cat things...very interesting and deliciously creepy! and what about inara--will she show up and nurse the captain through his trying time? ;) can't wait for more.

Saturday, August 26, 2006 7:27 PM


Oh...the intrigue just got a whole lot thicker, eh Alison?


Loving this series to bits, since I really wanna know why the Alliance specficially went to all the trouble of creating an entire moon from scratch.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006 2:13 PM


AliD! This is getting really interesting. I like the concept of a constructed moon (hmmmm...thoughts of the death star come to mind)Very good, and this cat thing bringing a little angsty comfort to Mal, fabulous thread there.

On to the fic....

"We're not gettin' out of this are we?" *Loved this Wash line, just like him, and I loved Zoe's follow up to it, forcing him to get it out of his head.

The beast seemed to like the sound of his voice so the Captain began to tell it stories.*LOL, this was so very cool and out of the ordinary, I can see Mal going on with war stories and the like.

As the mercenary drew nearer the buildings wavered a mite in the heat almost as if they were moving. *Great picture here. Got it solid in my head.

"I never said it would be easy," Said Book mildly, eyes holding a hint of amusement. "As the Captain would say instead of thinkin' about what we don't got let's look at what we do. We're still free, 'at large'. Serenity is still here an' the others are out here somewhere. Our first duty is to stay free. We won't be any good to anyone if we let ourselves get caught." *I really like Book here, taking words out of Mal's mouth and giving them back to the crew members as a source of comfort.

Inara's laugh was a sharp bitter bark, sarcastic and hollow as an empty grave. "The Alliance will want to destroy any witnesses. In your eagerness to please the Guild you have just sentenced my friends to death." *Good Inara here.

Zoe spared a fleeting smile for her husband and gently nudged his chin with one hand. "Close your mouth *zhangfu*, you'll catch flies." *LOL again, as I read this it hit me that Wash does actually spend a lot of time with his mouth agape in confusion or wonder.

I really like this story. Its taken me a bit to get to it, but I'll be reading the next parts soon. Keep it coming.


Saturday, November 5, 2011 5:21 PM


Totally loving this, but I would think Kaylee would have been injured, not just Mal, what with the engine getting torn up and such, since she's usually in the engine room. Shiny writings!!!!:D


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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.