Somnambulism - Chapter Twelve
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Plan, Negotiation, Landing, Hunt


Mal paced tersely in the galley of Serenity. He had called everyone in to sort out all the trouble that had been visited on him this day. Even Wash, who had placed Serenity in orbit over Hera, was in attendance.

"Report. Make it quick-like too. Wash says we have a half hour until our window to land at the Rusty Hinge comes back around. We got a lot to sort and not a lot of time to do it."

"Well...River's crazy. And dangerous..." Jayne started.

Book overrode him. "It would appear that little River is changing, and not for the better."

"That's right." Inara said. Her normally cool exterior was belied by the fact that she was pacing the other side of galley. "But, there's more than just River in there."

The girl in question, River Tam, was just off the head of the table, Simon at her side. Kaylee sat across from them, eyeing them both nervously. She had been injured, kidnapped, and had control of her body wrested from her today. Simon feared that what effort the two of them had made to become friends again after the crwe had found out that River was deadly, was lost for good.

"So, you're saying that this Other, is a split personality inside River. But, that's not what was controlling her during her trip through the ship earlier?"

"Yes." Inara said. She was prepared to argue. The Captain could be overpractical at times, but, Inara knew what she had experienced.

"Okay." Mal said, simply.

"There's something else." Inara said, hesistantly. "The more people that are around River...The less control that this Other seems to have. I don't know if it's River fighting back in concern, or if the sheer number of people is the problem. But, she can't control all of us all the time if it's a large group."

Mal paused. Zoe could almost see the innerworkings of the Captain's mind, at least the stategy making part of it, turning.

"Walt called while you were out, sir." Zoe said "Said that whatever this thing is..."

"I know what it is, Zoe." Mal said.

Zoe's withering look was lost on Mal. "Whatever it is is capable of abducting people in the middle of large groups, in broad daylight. There's more to this than what he's telling us."

"Doesn't strike me as out of the ordinary, Zoe."

"Then, what are we up against?" Zoe said, clipping her words briskly.

Mal struggled for a bit. It was Simon who answered.

"Given River's claims...or, The Other's, rather, it would appear that we are hunting a kind of Reaver."

There was a general disruption at the table.

"God's Balls! Captain, I didn't sign up with this outfit to be et!" Jayne popped off.

"Biz wuay!" came a cry. Most everyone was expecting that it was Mal that would say it. Most were shocked to see it was Book calling for silence.

"There is a force, or person, or Reaver, or whatever it is on that planet's surface. It is killing people indiscriminately for some reason, and Serenity has been charged with rooting it out. I can't think of anything that needs doing more than this right now."

"Plus" Mal added, turning his eyes on Jayne "There's a monsterload of money involved."

Wash grinned at Jayne and nodded vigorously.

"Okay" Jayne said, the fear not leaving his face, nor his hand leaving his gun.

"Captain" Simon said "What exactly does River have to do with this?"

"Well, Doc. Every hunting party needs a hound dog."

Before Simon could interrupt him, Mal outlined his plan. Fifteen minutes, and it was done. Everyone, including River...especially River wanted this over and done with. Mal's plan included everyone. Book, Inara, Wash...everyone would be a part of this job. Book looked strangely satisfied. Inara looked horrified. Wash smiled. Simon and Jayne were the only two in the room that looked as though they would rather skip it.

* * *

Per the usual, Wash coasted Serenity smoothly towards the Rusty Hinge. He passed over one of the few areas of the planet that wasn't developed. He had started to ask Zoe or Mal what it was, then thought better of it. The look of the valley below him told him everything he needed to know. Though, not nearly as much as the stolid way his wife was not looking at the ground, but, rather, the sky ahead.

Serenity landed roughly 500 feet from the old bar, which hadn't changed much since Mal had last been here. Walt was standing outside, and Mal's grip on the chair in front of him audibly tightened. With a look at Zoe, he turned and walked slowly out of the cockpit. Zoe followed him as far as the cargo hold, and made her way to the hold door. She went out to meet Walt.

Mal went to the infirmary. He couldn't say that he felt much for River Tam. She really was more trouble than she was worth. But, there was something about her, something vulnerable that spoke to Mal, and, from time to time, reminded him of Bendis, the young private who lost his life at Serenity Valley 7 years prior. River was made of sterner stuff, and Mal knew it.

Simon was adminstering an injection to River, who was lashed to the table. Simon was clearly not happy about this, but, he felt he was doing what needed to be done, so that River might gain whatever of herself was left. He knew about the academy activating her, and was saddened that he was unable to free her of that place before she had been set to kill...well, anyone!

"Okay, Doc. My turn." Mal said, offering his arm to Simon.

Simon had laid out a cloth with several bottles of clear liquid on them. One for each member of the crew, minus River. He now loaded one of the bottles into his autoinjector, and, as gingerly as he could, adminstered the shot of stimulant to Mal. It had been on Mal's orders that they all get the shot so that they could stay awake while River was out. The shot Simon had just given River was, of course, a tranquilizer.

"It's going to work pretty fast." Simon said, injecting himself, and picking up another bottle, as Kaylee, Inara, Jayne, and Book filed into the infirmary. He gave them all their shots, and they went on their way. Mal was watching River quietly. Her fingernails, which Simon had clipped back to their normal size, had suddenly started growing again. Her eyes flashed black on red at Mal, before she blinked and they returned to brown.

"I can see that." Mal said, blinking against his stinging eyes.

"I meant the stimulant, but, as you can see, she'll be gone again in a minute. I don't mind telling you, Captain...I'm uncomfortable..."

"We're all uncomfortable with this, Simon. It's got to be done. For her sake. For the people who are still dying on Hera's sake." He added quietly "For my sake too."

"Very well, Captain. But, Zoe had better hurry. River's changing much faster here on the planet's surface than she did in space."

"Zoe'll get the job done, Doc."

* * *

"Walt." Zoe said, not shaking hands with the bar owner.

"Zoe Warren!" Walt said "Let's get down to it. What do you need from me."

"I need to know, Walt, just what kind of thing can kill and kidnap in broad daylight in front of a group of people, and no one sees anything."

Walt swallowed.

"Zoe. That's the thing. No one knows what it is. It kills almost everything the Alliance has sent against it. I've heard things, of course..."

"What have you heard Walt, and be fast...I'm two seconds from loading up and taking off. I have more important things to deal with..."

"But, what about Mal? Does he have more important things to deal with? Hell, for all I know, this could be his fault!"

"Walt." Zoe said, beginning to anger "Speak fast. Do you know what's in the hills here?"

"Yes. It's Rudd." Walt said.

"If you knew this much about it, why didn't you tell me?" Zoe asked.

"I would have thought, all this time that you've been flying with Malcolm Reynolds, that he would have told you. Or, Tracey at least..."

"Tracey's dead, and the Captain's business is his own. Is it a Reaver, or not?"

"Not, I would think. But, he thinks he is, and that might make him more dangerous than a Reaver."

Zoe huffed. "How could he be more dangerous than a Reaver?"

"Did you not hear me, Zoe. He thinks! He's intelligent. And, from what I've heard, he knows things. He's a reader."

"A reader Reaver?" Zoe said. "Thanks Walt. We'll be back for payment. The rest of it, anyways."

Zoe held out her hand as Walt reluctantly passed half of their payment (Which was still more then they had been paid for any single job yet) into it. Zoe turned with no more words and walked on.

* * *

Zoe came back on board, with just enough time to close the cargo door. The crew split up into seperate shuttles, and took off. Walt, watching from a distance didn't understand one lick of what was going on, but, he knew that if the crew of Serenity couldn't pull off this job, he would probably be looking at the business end of a hangman's noose.

Simon, who, along with Kaylee, Jayne, Mal and River were in one shuttle, posted not far from Serenity. River was still trussed up, but had started to giggle, and her eyes now seemed to be permanently stuck in the red.

"Jayne. Do it" Mal said.

Wordlessly, Jayne drew his Bowie knife, affectionately named Binky, and cut River's bonds. She immediately took a swipe at Jayne with her fingernails. Jayne, with some effort, twisted her arm behind her back, and shoved her through the shuttle door. River pounded on the door, screaming, and cursing, the effect of this on Simon was clear. It was agony. Kaylee put her arm around him, but it didn't seem to accomplish much. After a time, the pounding stopped. They heard River's boots shamble off.

"Kaylee?" Mal said.

Kaylee pulled a handheld reciever from her toolbelt. It was beside the gun that Mal gave her earlier. Simon too, was armed, as they were dealing with more than his sister at this point.

"She's going south, Cap'n."

"Jayne?" Mal said.

Jayne cocked Boo, his eightshooter, shouldered Vera, and Lux, his two heaviest guns, and stepped out of the shuttle. He was on his way to join the others in the opposite direction. Mal had seemed to know what direction River would take off in, and had placed his crew accordingly. He had sensed that he would need Simon and Kaylee close to him before this was over. It made sense, seeing as they were the two members of the crew that River cared for the most. Mal also had the very strange feeling that all the members of his crew were going to be necessary on this job.

He was right.


Wednesday, December 6, 2006 1:24 PM


Unusual story, poor River - she really does get put through the mill. I hope they can sort things out in time and get River back to herself with no one else sharing her head. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 3:24 PM


YESSS!!! I just recently found this series digging throught the blue sun room, and I must say, awesome work! One of the most original stories I have read here, and best of all, it makes a terrifying kind of sense which in turn makes for a very gripping read. The earlier explanaiton was because about by Ch.9 I belive, I had suspicions on what Rudd was, and was happy to see them confirmed. Cannot wait to see what happens next.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 3:24 PM


exclamation, that is

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 3:44 PM


Oh cao...a Reaver still in control of his higher brain function and in posession of freaky mind powers!?! Things just got one step closer to complete FUBAR territory:(

Still...mighty glad to see you're still in saddle with this, manwithpez! It's been a while...but the tension continues to be ripe;D


Wednesday, December 6, 2006 8:14 PM


Poor Simon...

...sorry. Binky? I can't wait to see what happens next!


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Somnambulism - Chapter Fourteen
It's back...well, this is actually a reposting of a lost chapter. Hey! I just refound it myself!

Somnambulism - Chapter Thirteen
Trap. Hunt. Enemy. Trap

Somnambulism - Chapter Twelve
The Plan, Negotiation, Landing, Hunt

Somnambulism - Chapter Eleven
Wash's Orders, Mal's Revelation, The Other, Captiulation

Somnambulism - Chapter Ten
Mal's Dream. Walt's Problem. River's Regain.

Somnambulism - Chapter Nine
Safety. Recollection. Explanation.

Somnambulism - Chapter Eight
Simon's Dream, Mal's Choice, River's Verdict

Somnambulism - Chapter Seven
Memory, Atavism, Hera

Somnambulism - Chapter Six
History, Discovery, Purpose

Somnambulism - Chapter Five
Malice, Theory, Opportunity