Down the Rabbit Hole - Chapter Three
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Mal and Simon on the run from the Feds. Continuing trouble and snark. Not slash. Ever notice they don't see things eye to eye? Yeah. This has been posted on LJ. I figure a chapter a day here until I run out? That OK? Thanks for the very nice support. Oh, and there is rollover translation.


Chapter One Chapter Two


Mal silently stepped back across the water and, leaning against the curved wall, motioned for Simon to follow. Footsteps were clearly audible now, originating from a tunnel intersection visible ahead of them. Mal inched forward, gun first, always gun first, scanned around the bend, and returned. He held up a finger to denote one man, and indicated they should stay put. Simon felt unexpected relief. It would be all right. Someone wouldn’t be searching for them alone, and if Mal had thought the intruder was a threat, he’d have acted. Instead, they would just…wait. Until whoever it was decided to leave. An amplified voice burst off the chamber walls and sent his heart racing again.

“You see anything down there?”

“All quiet here,” a second voice replied, a man much closer to them than Simon had realized. “Not even a saboteur to welcome me.”

“Makes a nice switch.”

“Sure does. Guess everyone’s busy elsewhere. All right, terminus grate is secure. I’m going to lock it up.”


“Look, I’m heading straight out from here so I don’t have to go through those gorram roadblocks again. You sign me out, yeah?”

The com piped something indistinguishable before the voice relented. “Fine.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Almost there, Simon thought. Go on home. Go on---

And the floor was vibrating.

Tzao gao! Come on!”

They raced around the curve in time to see a circular iris door closing in on its center to cut off the route before them. Simon glanced behind him – a similar door was sealing the way they had come. There was no time to think before they were diving through the shrinking opening and Mal was rolling to his feet, gun trained on the soldier at the controls. The Fed had frozen, his hand halfway to his hip.

“Cut it.” Mal indicated the controls.

The man obeyed and the door stopped short of sealing.

“They’ll notice,” he challenged, with all the bravado endowed by an Alliance badge. But Simon knew from Mal’s dismissive tone that had spotted it: the insignia identifying the soldier as a military engineer. A builder, not a fighter.

“They’ll only see a hiccup.” Mal was scanning the controls and the tunnel, keeping his gun trained on the Fed. Some 20 feet beyond them, the tunnel ended in a circular grate, taller and twice as wide as an average man. Late daylight patterned the tunnel floor. Above, a manhole hatch was open.


“What?” The engineer swallowed nervously.

Mal gestured toward the tunnel behind them. “In,” he repeated. “There’s air. Lights. You close up end of day, next shift opens it up in the morning, right?”

The Fed nodded. Mal smiled in what Simon supposed was meant to be a non-threatening manner.

“Shiny. You hop in, sit tight, we go on our way. Come daybreak, we’ll just be unpleasant memories for each other.”

“They’ll look for me.”

“Not ‘til tomorrow,” Mal said amiably. He was halfway to the grate, glancing outside. “Overheard your little chat. Sorry to ruin your plans for the evening but---”


Simon started forward the instant the Fed’s arm moved toward the intercom, but neither his nor the soldier’s reflexes were as swift as the captain’s. Mal felled the man with a single shot, and even before the echoes of the report had faded, Simon knew he could be of no help. Still he knelt and shakily felt for a pulse.

“Anything?” Mal’s voice was brisk, businesslike, as he crouched beside Simon. “No.” Simon stared at the black wool under his fingers. How many times had he seen that uniform at his door, and opened it to find another of his friends, flush and grinning upon his acceptance into the elite? “No,” he repeated, gritting his teeth.. “You did a very thorough job.”

Mal half-laughed, and Simon could feel his incredulity shape the words that followed.

“Tell me, Doc,” the captain spoke as he efficiently stripped the gun off the dead man and checked the magazine, “tell me that’s not the usual morally-superior sarcasm I’m hearin’ in your voice. Wait, I know it can’t be, seeing as I just saved your sorry pi gu.”

“You didn’t have to shoot him. You didn’t have to kill him.”

“I didn’t---” Mal gave his head a brief shake before returning to his scavenging. “We do not have the time to discuss this, Doc, nor do I have the inclination.” He relieved the engineer of a small flashlight, a handheld writing tablet and an ident card, then, standing, hoisted the body toward the tunnel opening. “Get his feet.”

“You sure you don’t want his boots?” Simon spat. He fell silent at the glacial look he received in response.

Mal stepped through the partially open hatch and Simon guided the Fed’s feet through, then dropped them, entertaining the notion of punching the hatch closed and leaving the cán ren dú cái zhe there. Before he had progressed much past the delightful idea of ignoring the yelling and hammering, the captain reemerged and, stalking to the control panel, hit the keyboard he had so brutally prevented the engineer from pushing, sealing the iris hatch. He peered briefly up to the manhole above them, head back, mouth open, before quietly ascending the ladder. A moment later he dropped back down next to Simon, the manhole cover closed.

“Still too much daylight topside. We’ll wait here a few.”

And that was it.

As though there was nothing more to say. As if sealing the door had sealed away the past few minutes. The captain moved off toward the grate, seemingly intent on observing what he could from the shadows, leaving Simon to stare around the truncated tunnel.

Burned bridge behind them. Impassable grate in front of them.

Single, narrow, entrance and exit above them.

And an unfeeling automaton for company.

This was hell. He was a game fish in a stocked pond.

Chapter Four


Wednesday, January 3, 2007 9:47 AM


Only one a day?


But I want to read it now!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 9:58 AM


Wednesday, January 3, 2007 10:18 AM


I first saw this on one of the firefly sites on Live Journal.

It's a fantastic story. I don't care for Simon at all but somehow you are making me like him.

I hope the rest comes soon.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 10:52 AM


Wow. Excellent take on Simon's reaction to Mal killing someone, and this is so true of Mal as well. He'd shoot someone without visible remorse, because someone has to do it to get them out alive. And, of course, Simon wouldnt' appreciate that.

I've never read your stuff, homespun, and I'm really warming to it. No little errors or uncharacteristic bits to distract from an interesting story, and the action and dialogue are given without excess flabby words. It's a very good read!

I'm so tempted to skip over to live journal... but I'll let it play out here so I can leave comments (it's a New Year's resolution of mine!)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 1:29 PM


I cheated... I did read it - but I'll read it again and leave comments as each piece goes up. It really is excellent.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 1:30 PM


Perfect use of dialogue here, Homespun. Even Mal's incredulous and sarcastic responses. You've handled the nuances very well. Looking forward to the next chapter. Keep 'em short and keep 'em wanting...

"You're like a trained ape, [i [without the training."

Rob O.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 1:32 PM


Perfect use of dialogue here, Homespun. Even Mal's incredulous and sarcastic responses. You've handled the nuances very well. Looking forward to the next chapter. Keep 'em short and keep 'em wanting...

"You're like a trained ape, without the training."

Rob O.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 1:59 PM


Brilliant as ever. As for Mal killing the man, he couldn't afford to sift through possibilities and politely tell him not to activate his radio. The solution while seeming brutal was a hard necessity. While Simon might never see it that way and just consider the Captain an unfeeling and cold automaton it is that ability to act automatically to danger that has kept Simon and his sister alive so long in the Black. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 6, 2007 9:27 AM


Yep...definitely brilliant work here concerning Mal and Simon's actions and dialogue, homespun! Really loving Simon's noble but naive perspective vs. Mal's cold but pragmatic view on deeds needing doing:D



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