Salvage - Part IV
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. River and Jethro need to talk, and the job may not be going as smoothly as planned ... Feedback is still gratefully received!


“I’m sorry.”

Jethro looked up from the chair in the common area. River was coming down the stairs, her soft dress floating around her. He stood up, wincing at the pain in his ribs. “River, I don’t know what the rest of the crew is used to, but I don’t like being … violated like that.”

“They don’t like it either,” she admitted quietly.

“Then why do you do it?” He was honestly curious.

“What people say, the gestures they make …they can lie. All my life people have lied to me. But in your thoughts, below the mundane and the everyday, there’s the truth.”

“Don’t you trust anyone?”

“I’ve had little cause to.” She sat down, pulling her legs under her.

“That sounds terrible.”

“It was.” She looked down at her hands. “Here, on this ship, are the only people I trust.” She glanced into his face. “I want to trust you too.”

He stared at her, so young, but with the weight of centuries apparently on her shoulders. He joined her on the old sofa. “Then I should apologise as well. I didn’t understand.” He shook his head slightly. “I still don’t.”

“Then we’re both sorry.” She smiled up at him, but it was only tentative. “There’s so much you don’t know about me, and …”

“And what?” he prompted.

“I'm afraid you won’t like me if I tell you.”

“Why wouldn’t I like you?” She looked so sad that he reached out and put his hand on her knee. “I'm sure there’s nothing you can tell me that would matter that much.”

“I don’t think I can tell you.”

“You don’t have to. But I was going to be a Shepherd, River. I can keep secrets.”

“That isn’t why.”

“Then what?”

She shook her head firmly. “Not yet.”

He sighed. “I know you’re psychic. What else can there be?”

“So much …” Her eyes unfocused as images of death and destruction filled her mind. Blood, hers and others, on metal probes, on a black and white floor …


The explosion had ripped open the entire length of the cargo bay, which ran from bow to stern of the ship, spilling her contents into space. Most of it had been removed a long time ago, but there was still the odd empty crate floating close to the hull.

“She’s been picked clean, Mal,” Jayne pointed out. “How’s Badger know it’s still here?”

“He doesn’t.” Mal turned to look into the other man’s faceplate. “But it hasn’t shown up on the open market, so he’s hoping. Besides, the folks that did this likely didn’t know there was anything else to find.”

“Lot of maybe’s floatin’ around here.” Jayne couldn’t leave it, worrying it like a dog with a rat. “And I ain’t happy about takin’ on a job on that hwoon-dahn’s say so without a bit more -”

“Jayne.” Mal’s voice stopped him in his tracks.

“Badger said what we want’s in the captain’s cabin, sir,” Zoe said, looking around, the beam from her flashlight disappearing into the darkness. “Which Hank puts as one level up, forward.”

“Okay then.” Mal pushed off from the floor and drifted towards an open doorway above him. “Let’s find this piece of fei-oo and get back home.”


“So much blood …” the young girl murmured, staring into the blueness of the infirmary.

“River?” Jethro took her arm. “What is it?”

She looked at him, having to concentrate on his earnest face to bring herself back. “I’ve done things, seen things … you have no idea.”

“Then tell me.”

“I can’t.”

“Then … then show me.”

She stared at him. “What?”

“If I let you, can you show me these things you’ve seen, done?”

“I don’t know,” she admitted in a small voice.

“Can you try?”

She shook her head. “I might hurt you, and I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t have the control, not yet, not to be able to …” She began to shiver.

“River …” He put his arms around her, holding her close. “I want to understand.”

“So do I.”


Mal orientated himself so that he was hanging approximately the right way up and moved along the corridor, just a small push now and then keeping him going. He came to a junction, two more passageways leading off left and right. “Zoe.”

“It’s not on the plan Hank brought up,” she said, shaking her head inside the suit.

“Looks like someone’s modified this hunk o’ junk,” Jayne muttered.

“It surely does.” Mal pressed the external com button on his suit. “Hank, are you there?”

“Well, I was thinking of going out for coffee,” the pilot said in his ear. “Maybe Boros -”

Mal interrupted his attempt at wit. “We’ve got something of a quandary here. We’re on the right level, but there’s a fork in the road. Can you give us a hint of which way to go?”

Hank brought the plan of the freighter back up on the screen. “You’re on the first level?” he asked.

“That we are.”

“How far along?”

Mal turned around so he could look at the doors behind him. “Looks like we’re just passed a store room. It‘s labelled G28.”

“Right, right.” Hank sat forward. “It figures they added in another layer of bunks, Mal. But the original plans show the captain’s quarters to be snug against the right hand main bulkhead.”

“Then we go right?”

“I’d say so.”

“Keep on the com,” Mal ordered. “Just in case we come up with a few more surprises.”

Wu de mah!” Jayne shouted.

“What the diyu was that?” Hank said quickly.

Mal turned, and saw the big man holding a body at arm’s length.

“Where’d you get that?” he asked.

“Just opened the door and there it was,” the mercenary said, G28 gaping blackly behind him.

“We’re not here to go sightseeing,” Mal pointed out. “We’re here to do the job.”

“It’s just a body anyway, Jayne,” Zoe said quietly. “You’ve seen enough of them.”

“Yeah, but generally the dead ones don’t come tapping on your shoulder.” The big man pushed the corpse away. “Why didn’t they clean up?”

“Must’ve known you were coming,” Mal said. “Can we get on now?”


“Why don’t you try?” Jethro asked.

“I can’t.”

“Then tell me.”

She stared into his eyes, indecision in her own. “I‘ve never … what they did …“ She looked so upset that it hurt him.

“What who did?” he asked gently.

“Hands of blue …” She was trembling.


“This is it,” Mal said cheerfully, smiling broadly.

“How’d you know?” Jayne asked.

“Because it says so.” Mal tapped the nameplate then opened the door and glided inside. His flashlight showed a large compartment, some pieces of furniture still in place revealing this was some kind of office, among them a large desk bolted to the floor against the wall. Two more doors suggested this was only part of a larger suite.

“They lived pretty well,” Zoe commented, looking at the pictures on the walls.

“Yeah, well, it didn’t stop them dying though.” Mal indicated with his torch. “You take that room; Jayne, the other. I’ll look in here.”

“Why didn’t he say where the goods were?” the mercenary grumbled as he pulled himself towards the door.

“Because no-one was supposed to know it was on board, Jayne,” Zoe said, going the other way.

“Hey, I got a bathroom here,” the big man said.

“How would you know?” Hank’s voice filtered in from Serenity, reminding them he was still listening.

“Watch it, little man,” Jayne threatened. “I’m just in the mood to kill somethin’.”

“Not a good idea to threaten the man who still has to pick you up,” Hank pointed out.

Mal ignored their bickering, knowing from experience that they would still get the job done despite it. Instead he began searching himself, lifting the pictures from the walls and pushing them away, looking for a safe. Nothing in the more obvious places, but then …

“Hey, I think I found it!” Jayne sounded jubilant. “I just need to get …”

Mal turned, pulling himself along towards the other door, then stopped. Something had caught his eye, just above the edge of his vision, and he levered himself around so he could look up. “Tah muh duh,” he breathed, shining his flashlight the edges of the ceiling. Then, louder, “We need to leave. Now.”

“Cap, I’m just getting the gorram thing open,” Jayne whined. “What for you want us to -”

“Because otherwise we’re going to end up in little pieces.”

“Sir?” Zoe’s voice now.

“Now, people!” Mal used his sergeant’s voice, the one that everyone knew meant obey or else. But it was too late. He began to turn, pushing himself around, but before he could complete the manoeuvre the wall next to him rippled, buckled and exploded, thrusting him backwards, slamming him into the bulkhead behind him. He hit his head inside his helmet, and as blackness engulfed him, he realised he couldn’t breathe.


Freya, in the middle of settling Ethan down to nap, snapped her head up. “Mal.”

In the common area, River tried to take a breath. “Captain.” Jethro stared as she ran out into the cargo bay.

“Mal!” Hank shouted into the com.

to be continued


Tuesday, February 6, 2007 4:35 AM


Well, if it isn't another fangzong fengkuang de jie.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007 8:23 AM


Okay, damn frustrating cliffhanger. It would figure that the place with the goods would be booby-trapped. Makes me wonder whether Badger knew that, hence allowing Mal to knock down the division of his cut. Like Jayne I don't like or trust that dirty little weasle. Great story, hope the next chapter is up soon! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, February 6, 2007 1:45 PM


Oh...that was quite the chapater, Jane0904! Between River's struggle with explaining to Jethro that she's not simply an eccentric psychic and the Job Trio getting suckered by Badger - again! - the amount of tension and action was quite wonderfu:D


Tuesday, February 6, 2007 9:11 PM


Can we please kill Badger now? Or maybe cut off some bits ... the man needs to be taught a lesson!

But oy, what a cliffhanger! I liked how you started to bring in River's struggle to tell Jethro what had happened with her reading of what had gone on (or might happen) on the other ship.

And I would really like to see Freya start using her abilities again ... just a little!


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