THE RETRIBUTION SERIES: 2. "Heroes and Villains"
Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Zoe and Wash indulge themselves, Simon finds a way to spoil Kaylee. Shepherd Book finds the solace he needs and the Captain has a rude awakening. For Jayne things go from bad to worse."



SUMMARY: "Zoe and Wash indulge themselves, Simon finds a way to spoil Kaylee. Shepherd Book finds the solace he needs and the Captain has a rude awakening. For Jayne things go from bad to worse." 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

* * * * *

It was one of the most luxurious places either of them had ever seen. Wash turned slowly, his eyes trying to drink in as much as he could at once. Zoe smiled, not the fleeting small smile of transitory pleasure but the deep full smile of a woman knowing she was about to get exactly what she had been longing for. Wash's mouth flapped a couple of times before he managed to form coherent speech.

"Can we afford this, *bao bei*?"

The marble tiles on the floor alone probably cost more than the crew could have earned in a year, the place was huge but fortunately not cold. No, anything but that. Slowly they walked and took in the beautiful sculptured figures dotted around the cavernous room, life size anatomically correct men and women posing unashamed in their naked glory. Wash's eyes were wide as saucers until he looked up. Zoe had wandered off to check out the walls, long involved mosaics portraying the kind of life a body could only dream of. It seemed to echo tales of ancient Rome or Greece on Earth-That-Was. "If we can't," said the warrior woman, "this would be worth stealing for."

When Wash didn't answer she dragged her eyes away to look in his direction, her eyes lifting up to see what had him so mesmerised. The breath in her body fractured in shocked awe. Moving without realising she was doing so, Zoe came to stand beside her husband. The centre of that great domed hall being the perfect location to gaze up at a map of the heavens painted in glorious fabled shapes, Gods stretched across the stars embodied in the constellations, their heroic proportions leading them across the Black and populating it with new wonders of delight.

The quiet courtly voice had to speak several times to get their attention. "It is to your liking?"

Zoe forced herself to flick a quick glance at their host. "*Qu*, it's beautiful!"

The woman smiled. "Then come, the baths are ready."

* * * * *

Wherever he was it was dark and not just from the stupid sack over his head. In fact Jayne was a mite surprised not to wake screaming. Or. To wake at all. Unable to get free the mercenary forced himself to calm down. Had to think. Use his gorram senses to work out where he was and what the good gorram was happening. The first thing he noticed was the damp. It seeped through his pants and made the air musty. Huh. Jayne sniffed, the smell confirming his suspicion that he was in some kind of cellar. It was cold, not so much in the air as in the stone he was sitting on yet he could also smell earth. Damp, wet, an odour of decay clinging to it that deepened his apprehension.

* * * * *

Disappointment was a fleeting thing. The vendor had all manner of fruit but no strawberries. Seeing the way Kaylee's face had dimmed with disappointment Simon would have given anything right there and then to produce the fruit out of thin air but he couldn't. He was no magician but perhaps he could find something equally as shiny.

"What's that?"

Simon smiled. "It's a pineapple."

Although she had heard of such fruit Kaylee had never seen one before. Glimpses of the lush fibrous fruit had always been in its' prepared form never like this. It was bigger than she would have expected, larger even than the coconut one of her uncles had once brought back. Her eyes were shining with anticipation. Eager and trying not to be too obvious about it. "Is it good to eat?" "Tastes like sunshine. Sweet and juicy and ready to melt in the mouth."

Kaylee laughed at River's description, already sold before Simon paid for the fruit. When he handed it to her, the mechanic's eyes widened at the weight. "*Wei*, it's heavy!"

"Well then, why don't we ask this kind gentleman to prepare it for us so we can eat it?"

Her eyes wide, Kaylee looked from Simon to the fruit seller and back again as if he had just suggested they spend every penny in Serenity's coffers on this one thing. "We can do that?"

"*You* can do that, Kaylee. It's your pineapple."

For a moment Kaylee just stared at Simon. No one had ever done such a generous thing for her before and all of a sudden it felt selfish to stuff themselves with something so shiny and not share it with the others. "Shouldn't we save it 'til we get back an' can share it with the others?"

A smile settled on Simon's face before he shook his head gently. "No, Kaylee. This is for you. If you want we can get another to take back."

Squealing with delight even the vendor laughed, no one embodied happy like Kaylee did. Hardly able to surpress her eagerness, Kaylee watched with her mouth watering as the fruit was expertly prepared then cut into cubes. Waiting for Simon's nod she took a square, the juice running down her fingers as she brought it to her mouth. Utter bliss swept over her face, her lashes fluttering closed as if she had died and gone to heaven. River giggled in the background, the sun on Kaylee's face momentarily blocked just before a pair of lips warmed her own surprising her eyes open. Simon! It was meant to be a little kiss, a show of affection, but Kaylee wasn't one for letting her chances slip by without making the most of them. Before he could draw back, Kaylee's arms wound round him pulling him closer, her mouth opening and teasing his lips apart. "K.. Kaylee, I think um..."

The half chewed piece of pineapple slid from Kaylee's tongue to his, her kiss sweetening the taste even further. Minutes after the fruit had gone Simon surfaced to the sound of someone clearing their throat. Why were they doing that? As if he had been in a deep dive, it took time for him to surface back to reality. His eyes opened to find Kaylee staring at him, eyes wide and full of love and mischief. She looked incredibly smug. Another loud cough. Simon turned his head and felt himself blush. As patient as the vendor was, he was still waiting to be paid.

* * * * *

The removal of the sack didn't improve things for Jayne. Trying to hide how much the place was creeping him out he tried to concentrate on Niska and ignore the bully boys spread out among the broken slabs of concrete which littered the place. The crime lord seemed amused as if he could read what the big man was thinking and enjoying his discomfort.

"This place," He waved almost dismissively, "was crypt. Mausoleum. Place for the dead, yes? Fitting I think for what we do now."

"Ain't dead yet."

Humour twitched at the thin pinched mouth then Niska was serious again. "Twice Malcolm Reynolds shamed me. For once I would kill him, for twice... I am thinking this time he needs bigger lesson, yes? I need to hurt him more."

"Ya already killed him."

Something dark and delighted flickered in Niska's eyes, his glasses seeming to accentuate the lurking darkness that was the pit of his soul. Made Jayne feel sick. "Yes, but he did not stay dead. Had to bring him back. I couldn't hurt him any more when he was dead."

A horrible apprehension was creeping up Jayne's spine. It was no secret that he didn't always agree with Mal. *Diyu* the man was often so far beyond stupid you couldn't find it with a gorram map but somehow he always managed to survive the odds and that kind of earned a man's respect. Plus the man was smart, sharp even, often coming up with flashes of brilliance which made Jayne pay closer attention. Writing the man off as a crazy lunatic was not even scratching the surface of what made the Captain tick. Maybe that was why Zoe was so gorram loyal to him yet it didn't explain why Jayne himself stayed. Niska though was just plain twisted and evil. The mercenary had been unsure how much of that dying and being brought back had been true but now hearing it from Niska's mouth he knew it was and that just made him mad. Niska leaned closer, feeding off his fire.

"You don't like that I do this?" He said softly, the words whispering like dry bones falling to dust.

"*Chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo*!"

Niska chuckled and nodded, a signal for Jayne to be dragged to his feet. "Are you familiar with the works of Shan Yu?"

"Shan who?"

* * * * *

He couldn't help it. Mal was restless, body worn and mind sore from being spun about. Try as he did to forget the last words he and Inara had said to each other they were indelibly burned into his memory. Not the little exchange in her shuttle when he had gone looking for Kaylee but the words they had spoken before that. Bitter words of spite that had left him reeling. Oh, he had hidden how much they had affected him, how much the hurt buried deep. Best to leave it there. Knew in fact that the woman had a powerful low opinion of him but sometimes, every now and then, he thought he caught a spark of something else. A softening of her attitude as if at last she was beginning to warm towards him. Yet if she hated him so gorram much why in the nine hells did she stay? And why in the name of all that was holy did he let her?

Sighing, the Captain stared without seeing. It was a puzzle he was nowhere close to solving. The familiary of Serenity's cockpit a soothing balm to his weary soul. He knew that sooner or later he would have to sort out this thing with Inara. Later, not now. For now he would take comfort in Serenity, in walls of steel that protected him and had never let him down. Asked for no more than he could give and accepted him as he was. Relaxing for the first time in days he closed his eyes, letting the soft veil of sleep shield him from the worries of the day. The job had gone smooth, they had been paid. For once, life was shiny.

* * * * *

"Woah, this is...."

Zoe watched her *zhangfu's* face as the girl poured hot water down his back. Kissing his smile with one of her own Zoe barely noticed the girl leave. It was that kind of discretion that made the Raisa Bathing House such an elite establishment. The indulgence of paying for a day and night at the most expensive place on New Tokyo paled into insignificance compared to how much they were both enjoying it. And each other. Here, they could do what they liked, when they liked, with whomever they liked. Zoe had made it plain from the start that they did not want other partners so the staff had been discreet, doing what needed to be done like replenishing the cooling water, providing food, drink or simply clearing away the debris of their excess then leaving so quietly they could have been invisible.

"I could get used to this, baby."

Zoe kissed him. "We have a few more hours until night time, take as long as you want."

His eyes widened. "You want me all wrinkled an' pruned?" Zoe laughed and Wash enjoyed her carefree happiness. It made his heart ache that they had so few days like this. Too few to squander in fact. "We can't spend all our time in the water, Zoe."

Sliding up close to him, Zoe slid her body against his then captured his lips in another kiss. This one more ferocious than the last. They parted with both of them panting for air.

"Zoe, I really need to..."

"Need to what, *zhangfu*?"

"You know, do that manly thing." His words amused her, especially as his hand slid under the water and homed in on that special place that had her squirming upon his hand. Squirming but not trying to break free he noticed with a grin. "What manly thing is that?"

Wash was proud of the gasp in her voice, his fingers deftly manipulating their way gently into the core of her. Loving the way her eyes half closed, her voice deepening slightly in lust.

"Why don't I show you?"

Hours later they had managed to drag themselves to the luxurious bedroom laid out for them. Water was sloshed all over the floor of the baths but Zoe knew within minutes of them leaving the staff would be quietly cleaning up after them and leaving everything as pristine as it had been before they entered this heavenly house. They had one night left and she intended to use every minute and second of it teaching her husband just how much she loved him. If he was lucky she would let him return the favour.

* * * * *

"Told ya, don't know nothin'."

Niska did not seem worried, in fact he seemed not to really care whether Jayne told him anything or not. They were further into the crypt or whatever the gorram this underground hell hole was. Had been all kinds of disturbing how the place had dampened and swallowed his screams until he had to wonder whether any sound had come out of his mouth. He was strung up, just high enough so that his toes touched the ground but not enough so he could use his feet to relieve the weight off his wrists. The metal cuffs of his manacles dug in but that was nothing to the fire burning across his bare chest. The whip marks across his back had lumpy welts buried among the vermillion stripes. The whip had little spikey metal discs scattered along its' length. No doubt a variation that Niska had dreamt up to add to the effectiveness of that little torture device. The only thing that kind of baffled Jayne was that when they whipped him he only counted six strikes. It hurt like a bitch but not nearly as much as he expected.

Then the *heishoudang liumang* had started on his chest. Some weird ass machine that clamped on his skin and sent ribbons of fierce hot pain lancing through flesh and bone like an electrical rutting shock. Each application was a brief journey into the netherworld, not enough to make him pass out, but enough to have his heart beating so fast he thought it might never slow down again. Sweat poured off him and he longed to drop his head, to rest albeit momentarily but he did not dare. Would not give that *tamade hundan* the satisfaction. "You are strong, yes? My Crow was strong. Magnificent." Niska looked him over carefully, Jayne tried not to shudder at the look in those small dead eyes. Cold as a fish but not nearly so benign. Niska waved one of his men over. "I think we need some more detail. Here, and here."

Niska indicated the mercenary's face and Jayne felt a flicker of fear as the henchman selected a long narrow knife, the blade thin and sharp. For gutting. Gorramit, he didn't want to lose an ear or worse yet an eye. He felt the blade kiss his right cheek, tried to hold back the scream as it slid down streaming tears of red in the blade's wake. Gritting his teeth, Jayne steeled himself for the next blow, the man patiently taking his time to cut both sides of his face. Then just as he thought that was the worst of it the knife began to cut into his chest, not deep slashes but thin biting circuits leaving him messy but alive. Jayne remembered Zoe telling them what she had told Wash, that Niska had wanted to torture Mal for days. Drag it out and relish each moment of pain, savouring the agony before killing him. Weakened but still strong Jayne wondered how many days he would last but then someone threw a switch and his scream blotted out the last thought in his head before the world went black.

* * * * *

Shepherd Book was enjoying himself. The Temple of the Heavenly Light was every bit as special as he had hoped. More than a hundred years old and thick with the smell of burning incense. The outside of the building had curved sloping sides to the roof, each curve ending in a carved dragon and painted red. The colour of wealth and good luck. One side was open to the elements, a welcoming aspect for travellers from every corner of the 'verse. Inside the temple was dominated by a huge golden Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakya meaning 'mighty in charity' and 'muni' meaining 'one who dwells in seclusion and silence'. To him all honour was given as the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Guatama. The warrior class prince who had given up everything to go in search of enlightenment. The story of the Buddha touched Book, his simple but enduring story a legacy of peace in a violent 'verse.

It did not trouble the Shepherd one iota to give respect to the Gods of other men. Rather, it merely strengthened his own articles of faith. With head bowed and a smile on his lips, Book placed a few coins in the box and lit his incense. Allowing the sweet smell to carry his prayers in the high content that a power greater than his own would be listening.

* * * * *

The crackle and hiss of static finally impinged on the sleeping Captain. With a jerk Mal sat upright, eyes widening and blinking the sluggish air of sleep clinging to him. It took his ears a moment or two to place what had roused him then sleep vanished like a fog before bright sunshine. The cortex was receiving an incoming call. Mal rubbed his eyes then activated it. As the logo vanished a face from his nightmares appeared. Cold touched him deep inside, its' icy fingers reaching for his heart. Adelei Niska was smiling back at him, his death's head wizzened face creased in a mockery of pleasure and joy.

"Ah, Captain Reynolds, we have unfinished business - yes?"

"The only unfinished business I got with a *meiyou muqin de xiao gou* like you is a bullet needs placin' in what passes as your brain-pan!"

Niska shook his head slightly and pursed his lips. "Tsk tsk, Captain. Be careful what you wish for."

The Captain brought his heart rate down with an effort, the enforced deep breathing not doing nothing to make him feel any happier about this nor the nagging worry about how in the nine hells Niska had managed to wave his ship in the first place. He did not want to think on what that might mean. "There a reason you're sendin' me this wave? Thought halloween was long gone."

"I have something you maybe miss?"

The frown on Mal's face vanished as Niska stepped to one side. The bloody vision of Jayne Cobb hanging up like a side of beef, riverlets of bright red blood streaked down his chest, head hanging down, made his heart and throat contract with emotion. "What the *guai* have you done to him you *qingwa cao de liumang*?"

Pleased at the Captain's response, Niska took his time to reply. "He is, shall we say, paying your debt, yes?"

"Don't owe you nothin' but a painful death an' you know it."

Niska's eyes lit up. It was not a comforting sight. "Ah yes, painful death, but not - I think - mine." All humour fled from the man's face as he leaned closer to the camera. "You were meant to die Mr Reynolds."

"I did die, *jide*?"

"Yes, but I did not get my days. You took my reputation, now people remember you as the man who cheated Niska. People need to know that however long it takes Malcolm Reynolds will pay."

"If you want me come after me but let him go!"

A smile bloomed on the wrinkled leather of the crime lord's face. "He said you would not care, that you would not come for him, but we know different. Malcolm Reynolds he does not leave anyone behind, yes?"

"War's over." Said Mal softly, valiantly trying to contain his rage.

"Ah yes, but which war?" Niska paused, his beady eyes watching the Captain intently. "How many more of your crew must suffer, Mr Reynolds? I can kill them one by one, make you watch them die. How long will you hide behind those you should protect?"

"What do you want?"

The smile was cold. Not calculating, not taunting even. Just devoid completely of any emotion. It made the Captain think he was finally seeing Niska's true face. "I want retribution, Mr Reynolds."

A scream of abuse fell on deaf ears but Mal could not stop himself. Revenge. Pain. Fear. Anger. Emotion swept through him like a firestorm even as the screen went blank hiding the face of his enemy from the Captain's fury. By the time he had stopped his hands were shaking, eyes haunted. As much as Jayne Cobb was wont to try his patience the man was on his crew and, surprising as others might view it, he was a friend. As long as he lived and breathed he would not leave his mercenary in the hands of that *wuneug de ren*. Running a trembling hand through his hair, Malcolm Reynolds reluctantly considered his options knowing he would have to cut his crew's visit short. He needed everyone's input on this one. Not only in finding out where Niska had Jayne but also how he had got to him in the first place and how in the sphincter of *diyu* he had found his ship. On top of that worry was another one, one that ate into his heart and soul like acid. If Niska had Jayne, how long would it take before he had the others?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = precious/treasure *qu* = yes (lit. go) *wei* = hey! *diyu* = hell *chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo= = animal fucking bastard *zhangfu* = husband *heishoudang liumang* = gansgster asshole/bastard *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *meiyou muqin de xiao gou* = motherless cur *guai* = devil/ghost *qingwa cao de liumang* = frog-humping sumbitch *jide* = remember *wuneug de ren* = trash (despicable person)


Saturday, January 20, 2007 10:10 AM


Something tells me that getting Jayne back and putting Niska down once and for all will be a lot harder than any of the crew can possibly fathom. Cuz Niska is smart enough to know he's gotta anticipate and control any and all potential actions the BDHs could take:(

Still...brilliant work here, AMDOBELL! Definitely can't wait for part 3;)


Saturday, January 20, 2007 11:06 AM


I really like your Niska voice here. He seems to be a hard character to write well but you did him justice here.

I like Mal's fear that Niska won't stop with Jayne and will go after everyone else as well. I can't even imagine his reaction if Inara or Kaylee were captured.

Like your Wash and Zoe scene too. Made me giggle. And the sheer sweet innocence of the S/K scene made me smile happily.

Saturday, January 20, 2007 2:33 PM


I can't write Niska - and I've tried! I love the juxtaposition of the light-hearted and the plain nasty. Joss would be proud!

Saturday, January 20, 2007 3:12 PM


Thanks for the shiny comments, it is appreciated and keeps me flyin' - Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, January 21, 2007 12:38 AM


Brrr......I don't like Jayne, but I still have to feel for him, being in Niska's clutches and all. I like Mal's rage and guilt, although I think he'd hold it together a little better while actually talking to Niska, the emotion is very much in character. Next chapter soon??

Sunday, January 21, 2007 7:32 PM


I loved your S/K scene. You expertly captured Kaylee's enjoyment of the special fruit and her appreciation of Simon's kiss ... *sigh* so lovely!


You must log in to post comments.



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.