Salvage - Part V
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. While River tries to talk to Jethro, Mal's in serious trouble on the other ship ... Next part is the conclusion, so let me know what you think!


“Sir. Hold on.”

Mal tried to open his eyes, wanting to take a breath but finding there wasn’t enough oxygen left to do more than gasp. His vision cleared a little and he saw Zoe beside him. She was fiddling with her own supply.

He realised what she was doing, what must have happened. “No!” he managed to say. “Ain’t taking your air!” He tried to move away but Jayne must have been behind him.

“Gorramit, just stay still, Cap, till I get the sealant working.”

An area of intense cold was biting into his back, burning his skin, then suddenly it wasn’t there anymore. Did the space of cold finally destroy nerves before it killed you, he wondered idly. Then he took a breath. And another. “Damn it, Zoe, I said no,” he said through dry lips.

“Sorry sir, I don’t think I heard you.”

“Don’t go moving too much,” Jayne advised, pushing himself around so he could see into Mal’s faceplate. “That sealant’ll hold, but not if you decide to do anything stupid.”

“What …” Mal began but Jayne was quicker.

“Busted your pack on the wall,” he explained. “Took out your air and tore a neat little hole in your suit.”

“Wondered why it was so cold.” He looked from one to the other. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, sir.” Zoe nodded.

“Hank, are you there?” he said, glancing entirely unnecessarily towards where he thought his Firefly was hanging. There was no response. “Hank.”

“It’s no good, Mal,” Jayne said. “I been trying. The explosion must have knocked out the coms to the ship. The suit radios are still working, but they’re only close range so …”

Mal looked at the big man. “Then we’d best be getting out of here,” he said, straightening up.

“Well, unless you’ve got some miraculous way of escaping, we ain’t going anywhere.”

“What? Why?”

“The explosion sealed us in.” Jayne swung his flashlight around so Mal could see the twisted metal where the door had been.

“The other rooms?” he asked.

“No exits I could see, sir,” Zoe said.

“We’ll just have to wait for the others to come get us,” Jayne added.

“We can’t let them do that,” Mal said quickly.

“Why not?”

In response Mal lifted the big man’s torch up towards the ceiling. There, nestled amongst wiring, was another explosive charge. He followed the wires across the wall to a second, then a third, before the wiring disappeared through the bulkhead.

Tien Yehsoo. It’s been booby-trapped?” Jayne said in disgust.

“No, I don’t think so.” Mal pushed them carefully just a little closer. “I think it’s a little more dangerous than that.” Now they could see the small ident flag on the case.

“Alliance?” Zoe asked.

“I think Badger’s informant wasn’t as accurate as he was led to believe,” Mal said softly. “They ain’t towing this to the scrap belt. They’re taking it out right here. Blowing it to pieces.” He laughed without humour. “We’re sitting on a demolition job.”

“And that first explosion?”

Mal shrugged, somewhat difficult inside a space suit. “Maybe we knocked it, or it just wasn’t our day. But we were damn lucky it didn’t cascade.”

“How long d’you figure we got?” Jayne asked, eyeing the explosives warily.

“Could be a day, maybe more, maybe less. Badger said it was four days when we were on Persephone, but as he ain’t exactly well-informed …” Mal paused. “But that ain’t the problem.”

“It’s not?”

“How much air’ve you got, Zo?” Mal asked.

Zoe checked her read-out. “About an hour.”

Mal looked at her. “See, that’s why I told you not to share it. You and me, we’ve got about thirty minutes before it ain’t gonna matter one way or the other. Looks like Jayne‘s gonna have his greatest wish and outlive us both.” -

“Hank, what’s happened?” Freya ran up the stairs to the bridge.

“Mal told everyone to get back to Serenity, then there was a sound like … I don’t know what, and then nothing.” Hank was frantically pushing buttons, trying to get some kind of contact.

“Freya …” River stood in the doorway. “He couldn’t breathe.”

The older woman nodded, her face tightening. “I know.”

“But he’s alright.”

Freya stared. “You sure?”

“I can feel him.”

“Can you tell what happened?”

“An explosion. I think.” She shook her head. “I can’t tell properly.”

Freya turned to look out of the bridge windows at the freighter, trying to project her mind, to get through the fog that still surrounded her … “Qiang bao hou zi de hun dan,” she muttered, and Jethro, standing behind River on the stairs, winced slightly.

“Do you want me to …” The young psychic stopped as Freya whipped round to face her.

“Can you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Please. Try.”

River nodded. She gazed out at the freighter, concentrating hard.

“What’s going on?” Simon asked, having heard the commotion. Kaylee was right there with him, Inara behind her.

“There seems to be a slight problem,” Hank said, watching River closely.

“What kind of problem?” -

“Sir?” Zoe looked into Mal’s faceplate. “Are you all right?”

Mal was staring into nothing. “I think River’s trying to communicate,” he said quietly.

“Can she do that?”

“Beginning to think it’s more a case of wondering what she can’t do.” Mal held up his hand. “Just …”

Zoe nodded and fell silent.

Jayne was taking a closer look at one of the explosive packs. “Chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo,” he said loudly.

“Jayne,” Zoe warned.


“Just shut up a minute.”

The big man pushed himself around to stare at them. “You don’t care we’re gonna blow up in about half an hour?” he asked.

This time it was Zoe’s turn to look confused. “What are you talking about?”

“This thing’s on a timer. I was seeing if I could maybe diffuse it, but it’s got an anti-tamper mechanism - you try and it blows. Figure maybe that’s what happened with the other one.”

“But half an hour?”

“They’re all individually timed. This one …” He nodded back over his shoulder. “…says twenty-nine minutes.”

“Great,” Mal muttered. “So we get rendered into our constituent particles or die from lack of oxygen.” He added, “And then get rendered. Looks like Badger really did have it wrong.”

Zoe looked at her captain. “What did River say?”

He shook his head. “It wasn’t quite like that. She didn’t … speak, as such, just …” Mal glanced at Jayne then back at Zoe. “I tried to make her understand they have to get away. Leave us.”


“Not rescue them?” Hank was appalled. “He thinks we’re just gonna fire up Serenity and get on with our day?”

“He’s insistent,” River said softly, still reaching out. “He doesn’t want us to die.” She turned enough so she could look into Freya’s eyes. “He wants you to live.” She sighed and collapsed, Jethro just managing to catch her before she hit the floor. Simon was at her side immediately.


She looked into his face, tears on her cheeks. “It took so much control, just to …They don’t have long,” she whispered. “Not long to save them.”


“Jayne, what in the name of Buddha are you doing?” Zoe asked, floating in the middle of the room, attached to Mal by her emergency oxygen tube.

“Getting the goods.” He grunted from the other room.


“Hell, I ain’t intending to die here, so might as well make sure we’re gonna get paid.” He groaned with effort, then … “Yes.” A moment later he reappeared in the doorway, attaching a bag to his belt.

“Well done,” Mal said, only a little sarcasm in his voice. “We’re rich.”

“And just how were you planning on getting out of here to actually get your money?” Zoe asked.

Jayne laughed. “You don’t really think they’ve gone, do you?”

“No,” Mal muttered angrily. “I ain’t figuring that at all.”

“Good.” The big man grinned and reached behind him, pulling out the emergency connection. He plugged it into the back of Zoe’s pack.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“You think they’re gonna let me back on board without ya?” he asked, flicking the switch so they were all sharing the same oxygen. “Gives us a few more minutes, don’t’cha think?”

“Jayne …” Mal was about to thank him when he took a breath of air. “Wu de mah, Jayne, what have you been doing …”

“Aw, sorry, Mal. Didn’t get a chance to change my clothes before I put the suit on.”

Zoe just stared at him. “Sir, I think I’d rather suffocate.”


“Can’t we use one of the shuttles?” Inara suggested. “Get in close, maybe cut the bulkhead open?”

“If what River saw is right, we don’t know where all the explosives are,” Freya said, pacing the small bridge. “And if they’re linked, if we hit just one …”

“It’s a Kuyper, isn’t it?” Jethro asked unexpectedly. “The freighter. A Kuyper?”

“That it is,” Hank confirmed.

“I thought I recognised it. I worked on one when I was going to the Abbey.”

Freya looked at the young man. “Jethro, I know you want to help, but -”

“There’s another airlock. On the dorsal ridge.” He pointed out of the window. “About half way along.”

Hank stared then went back to his screen. “It ain’t on the plans.”

“But you’ve got the original blueprints, right?” Hank nodded. “I remember Captain Jorgensen saying the Kuyper had been adapted almost immediately, with more cabins and another airlock. In case of intruders.”

“Show me,” Freya ordered.

Jethro leaned over Hank’s shoulder and tapped the screen. “Right there. It’s narrow, and the access corridor is difficult, but it should be viable.”

“In a suit?”

The young man paused. “Maybe.”

Freya thought for a moment. “I don’t think we’ve got any choice.” She looked at the others. “We’ve got two more suits.”

“I’ll go,” Hank said quickly.

“No. You’ve got to be ready to get us out of here.”

Simon glanced at Kaylee, obviously about to volunteer, but Jethro spoke first. “I’ll go.”

“You’ve never been in a suit before,” Freya said.

“And you’ve never been on board a Kuyper. It has to be me, otherwise you’ll never find them in time.”

She stared at him, then nodded. “Thanks.”

“They’re trapped,” River said softly, looking up at Jethro. “In the captain’s cabin.”

“I can find them,” he assured her.

“I’ll get the cutting gear,” Kaylee said, running back towards the engine room.

“Freya …” Simon began.

“Hank, keep the engine running. If it looks like we’re not gonna make it, you get going, dong mah?” Freya said over him.

“Frey -”

Dong luh mah?”

“I understand,” the pilot said, turning away from her.

“Good. Time to go.”

to be concluded


Wednesday, February 7, 2007 2:16 AM


Oh no, Freya, don't go! If anything happens to you Mal will never survive the loss. Plus, there's only two suits right? So if Jethro has one I'm thinking someone who knows how to use the cutting gears needs to be in the other one so it would probably be Kaylee or River. This is really good and I loved Jayne going for the cargo so that if they did get out he'd at least get his cut. And Zoe sharing her air with Mal? That's what best buddies do. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 4:59 AM


“Aw, sorry, Mal. Didn’t get a chance to change my clothes before I put the suit on.”


I have to agree with Amdobell about who should go. If size is a problem, then River is smaller than any of them, and might fit through the wreckage, even with a suit. Great job as usual!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 5:50 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER that was just brilliant writing! Lots of crunchy angst mixed in with some squishy humour:D

Gotta nark though...can't really imagine Mal using the word "casade" without some tiny mangling, even intentionally, though;)


P.S. The joke about Jayne smelling and then sharing his air? Priceless:D

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 10:45 PM


The best part about Jayne smelling was Zoe's response.

I agree, Freya heading over there, probably not the best idea - and god, what will happen to River if something untoward happens to Jethro? Yikes!


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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]