Brothers - Part VI
Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mal has been betrayed, while Freya and Zoe face a few problems of their own ... Thanks so much for the feedback! It's fantastic!


“Where’s Mal?” Simon asked as Vinnie jogged up to them.

“Mal?” Vinnie looked at them both. “You mean he ain’t with you?”

Harry pushed himself from the wall. “He came to find you. You must have seen him.”

“No, didn’t see anyone,” Vinnie said. “He must have gone down a different passage.”

“There isn’t one,” Simon said, lifting the map.

“Has to be. Maybe this is wrong,” Vinnie said, shrugging. “Prob’ly got himself lost. We’ll come across him.”

“You handed him over,” Harry said suddenly, having been staring at his brother.

“What?” Simon asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Vinnie said. “We’d better get going. Mal’ll prob’ly catch us up.” He tugged at Harry’s sleeve. “Come on.”

“I thought I was wrong, that I hadn’t seen what I saw. But I did, didn’t I?”

“Harry, what are you –“ Simon began but was interrupted.

“You were talking to them, talking to those hun dan, just before I didn’t see you again. They told me you’d escaped, but … Vinnie, no-one escapes on their own from this place.” Harry stared at Vinnie. “What did you do, Vinnie?”

“I didn’t do nothing!”

“Did you promise to bring Mal back here, if you could get away? Is that it?”

“Harry –“

“You sold him out.”

Vinnie started to protest, to shake his head, but the look on his brother’s face broke him. “It was the only way!” he insisted, holding onto Harry’s arm.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” Harry asked, pulling away. “We don’t trade lives!”

“You think I wanted to die down here?” Vinnie asked in turn, suddenly angry. “That I was gonna let you die down here either?”

“They’ve got Mal?” Simon put in, but he was ignored.

“Vinnie, we don’t do this! Not to anyone, and most definitely not to Mal!”

“I wasn’t gonna leave him here,” Vinnie protested. “The said if I brought him back, they’d let you go. Then once they did that I was gonna go get him, use his crew.”

“You think they were really gonna do that? Let me walk? Oh,Vinnie.” Harry shook his head.

“Okay, I’m stupid. But what else was I supposed to do? This place was killing us.”

“Then that’s what we do. We die. We don’t betray our friends.”

Nee mun doh bee-jway!” Simon barked. “You gave Mal to them?”

“I didn’t want to!” Vinnie protested. “But I couldn’t see another way of getting Harry out.”

Simon drew his fist back, about to strike out, but Harry stepped between them. “No,” he said. “Vinnie did wrong, and we’ll deal with that later. Right now we have to get Mal back.”

“Get Mal back?” Jayne echoed, coming round the bend. “You mean that go tsao de idiot got himself pinched?”

“Something like that,” Simon said, not stepping back but lowering his arm. Part of him was shouting that he wasn’t like this, didn’t hit people, but he ignored it.

“I hate to break this up,” Hank said, running up, “but the bad guys are coming?”

“Where’d they take him?” Simon asked, his face close to Vinnie’s.

“I don’t know.”

“But you have an idea.”

“Maybe.” Vinnie shook his head. “But they’re between us and him. We’ll have to go the long way round. Take us time.”

“How long?”

“Maybe too much.”

Simon looked at Jayne. “How much have you got left?” he asked.

Jayne stared at the young doctor, impressed even if he was intent on not showing it. “Coupla grenades and one six-pack.”

“Should be enough.” He turned his cold gaze back to Vinnie. “Better get moving, then.” ---

“They coming?” Zoe asked, checking the clip in her carbine.

“That they are,” Freya said, looking carefully out into the darkness. “I can make out at least four. No, make that five.”

“That’s not really fair,” Serenity’s first mate commented. “Out-numbered like that.”

“Yeah. They should really have a few more to make it even,” Freya agreed, smiling a little.

“You don’t think we should have let River stay down here, do you?” Zoe asked as she moved behind the stack of crates to the left.

“What? And let her have all the fun?” Freya checked once more then slid behind a cage. “’Sides, she’s been a mite erratic lately, and she could have just decided to throw soup at them.”

“Which would have been fine if it were still in the tin,” Zoe answered, stepping back out of sight.

“Yeah. A big tin of soup can do a hell of a lot of damage if thrown accurately and with sufficient force. I should know.” Freya went down onto her haunches. “Here they come.” ---

“Don’t you want to know how we found you?” the man in charge, who had given no name, asked during a pause.

“I kinda managed to figure that out,” Mal said. “Vinnie.” His face hurt. He was pretty sure his nose was broken, from the grating in the bone – that and the blood that had run down his top lip and chin. One eye was beginning to close, too. He wasn't sure about his ribs, but there were deep aches in his belly. Great. The doc was going to have a field day with this.

He’d come round to find himself bound to a chair in a small room, a single light panel glowing brightly behind him. It threw sharp relief onto the goon standing next to him, flexing his fists. Not just flexing, though, but immediately pounding on him with them.

“We keep close tabs on our property,” the man went on. “Photographs, details where we can. Of everyone we own.”

“You don’t own me.”

“The mine paid good money for you, Captain Reynolds. You and the men with you.”

“They ain’t yours either.”

“You can make it a lot easier on yourself,” the man sighed theatrically, repositioning his cuffs fastidiously. “Then we don’t have to do this any more.”

“How could I do that?” Mal asked curiously.

“By dying. Or you could just tell us where your comrades are.” He moved a little closer. “And don’t think of rescue from your ship. The men I've sent will see to that.”

“You sent men to my boat?” Mal asked, tensing for a moment. Except, as Freya had said, he’d had to leave the better half of his crew behind. “Hope you got enough money left over for a nice obituary for ‘em.”

“Captain Reynolds, by now your ship is a tomb.”

Chur ni-duh,” Mal said, almost smiling.

“Now that just isn’t polite.” The man nodded at his companion, who took up position in front of Mal again, lifting his hands and grinning.

Mal tensed himself, waiting for the pounding to begin again. At least if he could keep them occupied for a while, it would give the others a chance to escape. As the goon jammed his fist into Mal’s solar plexus, a single thought crossed his mind before he blacked out: Freya was not going to be happy with how he looked. Oh, that and the fact that she was damn certain to say ‘I told you so’. ---

Zoe wasn’t holding her breath, just letting it move slowly in and out of her lungs. She’d never, in all her years in the army, then working with Mal, allowed nerves to get the better of her. Do that and you end up in the dirt watching your blood soaking away, or see the men who relied on you broken and dying. Still, a little fear did heighten the perceptions, made you sensitive to your surroundings, and that had saved her life more than once. Just so long as the fear didn’t make her hands sweat.

There was a small sound outside and a shadow moved inside the door, followed by a man carrying a rifle. He looked around the bay, then slipped inside, followed by the others, until all five were standing against the bay doors.

Zoe studied them, noting the tension in their hands, the closeness of their fingers to their triggers, and decided they hadn’t come to take, but to kill. That made her actions even simpler.

The men all looked at one of their number, who nodded, indicating the staircases up to the next level, then pointed towards the infirmary. They began to fan out, one staying by the door. Good. That meant there probably wasn't anyone else outside. Zoe moved slightly to get a better aim.

The sound of a single gunshot rang out and the man at the door slid down to the deck, leaving a blood smear down the metal. The others span around, firing indiscriminately towards Freya, who ducked down low, moving away to her right to take cover behind the old mule.

Zoe stepped around the crates and fired, her carbine taking out two of them before they could get their rifles around. She dropped back as the remaining two jumped for cover, shooting as they went. The thought crossed her mind that Mal was not going to be pleased as bullets thudded into the bulkhead.

Freya fired once more, and there was a cry as one of the men was hit in the chest, staggering out to collapse on the bay floor, bleeding profusely.

The last man obviously thought better of waiting around, and made a break for the door. Zoe’s gun boomed, and he fell like a sack of potatoes.

The women came out of their cover, and met in the middle of the bay.

“I ain't cleaning that up,” Zoe said, looking down at the man Freya had shot.

“Mal’s good with a mop,” Freya said, wiping her forehead on the back of her hand. “I think we should leave it to him, don’t you?”

Neither Zoe nor Freya were laughing, nor had they wasted a single shot. ---

“Captain Reynolds.”

The voice was very insistent, repeating through his brain until he couldn’t take it any longer. He forced his eyes to open and found himself still tied to the chair, still facing the same men, and still with an overwhelming urge to push their faces through his engine. Unfortunately, this wasn't likely to happen any time soon.

“You caused a lot of trouble before, Captain Reynolds.” The man studied his fingernails. “And my principal is not happy.”

“Principal?” Mal repeated, slurring his words a little. His tongue felt swollen and he knew the inside of his cheeks were lacerated.

“The man who owns this mine. And, frankly, he’s are not the kind of person you want to cross.”

“Got enemies aplenty,” Mal said, spitting blood onto the floor. “Don’t feel the need for any new ones.”

“He went to a lot of trouble to get you back.”

“Just to kill me? Hell, people have been trying to do that for years.”

“Oh, he doesn’t want you dead. That’s just me. He merely wants to make you really uncomfortable and then put you back to work. Give you one of those fancy collars and make you dig. You and your men.” He leaned forward, so he could look directly into Mal’s eyes. “No-one leaves Tetris, Captain Reynolds. Ever. And that’s something you’re going to find out.”

Mal couldn’t help it. He spat into the man’s face, noting with satisfaction the disgusted look as blood speckled his skin before everything went black again. ---

Freya watched as the ship landed a short distance away, about to get up from the pilot’s chair when Inara’s voice came over the comlink.

“Why haven’t you left yet?” she asked angrily.

Freya exhaled and lifted down the link. “Just making a few more preparations.”

Inara, staring out at the stars, wished with all her heart that the other woman were standing in front of her. Her hand tightened on the comlink. “It takes you this long? It’s been – ” She stopped as she realised the truth. “You’re not coming, are you?”

“Inara –”

“Don’t lie to me!”

Freya sighed. “Maybe not straight away, no.”

“I’m coming back.”

“No!” Freya said firmly. “You ain’t. And we’ve rigged the docking clamps so you can’t.” She looked up into the sky. “Just stay out of it, Inara. Keep River and Kaylee safe.”

“Stay out of what?” Inara asked.

“They’ve already tried to kill us, Inara. Stay away.”

“Tried to … Tzao gao.”

“It’s important that you don’t come back yet, Inara. Can’t be worrying about you too.”

“Frey, what are you up to? You can’t go anywhere near the mines, so what are you planning on doing?”

“Well …”

“Leon. You’re going after Leon, aren’t you?”

“Sometimes you can be really annoying, did you know that?” Freya asked.

“Damn it, Freya! He isn’t the kind of man you can hold to ransom!”

“We have to try.”

“He’ll kill you.”

“There must be some way of making a deal with him. If we talk to him …”

“That‘s what I’ve been trying to do!” Inara couldn’t believe it. “And talking about things hasn’t ever been your strong suit, either of you. You’re too much like Mal.”

Freya allowed a small smile. “Thanks. I think you’ve just given me a compliment.”

“It wasn’t meant to be!” Inara took another deep breath, trying to calm down. “Let me try again. He’s going to be landing soon –”

“He’s just landed.”

“Then let me talk to him. He’s not unreasonable –”

“He wants to kill Mal. I call that pretty unreasonable.”

“He was angry. Let me try again.”

Freya glanced around at Zoe who stood in the doorway. The first mate nodded. “You got thirty minutes, Inara. Or we do it our way.”

“Okay.” She signed off.

Zoe gazed at Freya. “Thirty minutes?”

Freya stood up and checked her gun was fully loaded. “Might work,” she admitted.

“But we’re not relying on it?”

Freya smiled grimly, a look reflected on Zoe’s face as they left the bridge.

to be concluded


Sunday, October 29, 2006 12:32 PM


Oh, I just *love* Simon taking charge when he finds out that Vinnie betrayed Mal into the hands of the enemy and it was nice to see Harry as disgusted at what his brother had done. But oh boy, did Zoe and Freya kick ass! I just hope Inara's attempt to reason with the mine owner doesn't plunge everyone into even more trouble. Thinking she should just do as Freya said and stay out of it. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, October 29, 2006 2:26 PM


I really hope Inara can use all of her talents of persuasion to convince Leon to let Mal go, but I'm a mite worried that ain't gonna work.

Gotta love Zoe and Freya taking a stand and protecting their home! And I too loved Simon getting into the thick of things! Bring on the next!

Sunday, October 29, 2006 4:32 PM


Poor Mal, being duped like that, and now with the beatings, you can't help but feel sorry for him.

I agree with everyone that Simon being so assertive in that situation was awesome!

Somehow, I get the feeling that when all is said and done with this little adventure, Harry is gonna kick his brother's ass (assuming they all survive)!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 3:06 PM


Oh...why do I get the feeling this Leon character is gonna force Inara to make an Atherton that's about as successful as the first was with its namesake:(

Still...I am definitely hoping for Simon-led heroics. Cuz damn it, the time is ripe for a BDR executed by a Top 3 minded person;)



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