BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

The Hunt - Part XI
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal faces Wing ... the conclusion to this arc, but it continues in AFTERMATH. Please let me know what you think, as all feedback helps enormously!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1767    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Mal’s skin was crawling being so close to so many Alliance supporters, people who’d never fought in the war but claimed victory over those that had. The money behind it all. The only real winners.

“Why tents?” Hank asked. “If they’re that rich, why tents?”

“They’re playing,” Zoe said quietly. “Pretending they’re at the Battle, about to wipe out the Independents.”

“And they had tents there?”

“They’re not really tents. It’s a game.” She shook her head. “Not a one of ‘em ever got close to a battlefield except like this.”

“They’re Alliance,” Mal said. “What do you expect?” He looked at his crew. “Okay. You know what you have to do.”

“Yes sir,” Zoe said, tapping Hank on the arm and heading into the rapidly descending night. Jayne had already gone.

“Where are they going?” Dillon asked, watching them vanish.

“Got work to do,” Mal answered shortly. “So where’s Wing?”

“This way.”

He led them through the tents and temporary buildings, keeping out of the light, until they came to a ship standing a ways off from the rest, the main tent more grand, more solid and imposing than the others.

“There are guards,” Harrow whispered, and indeed they could see two men by the front entrance, and a slight movement suggested there were others to the rear.

“Then we take care of them.”

Dillon nodded and went to the right, while Harrow sighed and went left. Mal stepped out from the gloom.

“Hey, there,” he said, smiling sloppily. “Kinda think I got myself lost round here. Any idea where I can find the Bilbao?”

“The what?” one of the guards asked, his rifle trained on the man walking unsteadily towards him.

“The Bilbao. My ship. Only I think I got turned somewhere.” He tried to tap his nose and missed. “Too much good stuff floating around, if you know what I mean.”

The guard exchanged amused looks with his companion before relaxing a little. “Never heard of a ship by that name, friend. What type is it?”

“Type?” Mal looked thoughtful, as if he was trying to remember. He clicked his fingers. “Avocet. She’s an Avocet. Beautiful thing too.” He’d gotten between them, putting his arms around their shoulders. “Course, I could be biased here.”

“I’m sure you are. Well, I don’t think I’ve seen one of them either, so you’d best be going to look someplace else, friend.”

“You know, I ain’t your friend,” Mal said, moving his hands quickly to the sides of their heads and pulling, stepping smartly back so their skulls cracked together. They slumped to the ground.

“Are they dead?” Dillon asked, materialising from the darkness.

“Does it matter?” Mal turned as Harrow appeared. “Done?”

“Done.”

“Then let’s go inside and say hello.”

---

“I'm going to check around,” Zoe said. “Are you wearing it?”

Hank nodded, trying to ease the rubbing of the body armour she’d bought him some time back. “It’s still chafing.”

“We’ll try and get Jayne to fix it. But at least you’re being sensible.”

“Always with you.”

“Good.” She looked about them. “Stay here,” she murmured, melting into the twilight.

“Sure,” Hank called softly. “I’ll just … wait.”

He peered around the corner of a tent, trying to look inconspicuous. Large fires had been set up in front of most of the largest tents, and people were sitting around drinking and eating. Music was playing from various quarters, the occasional firework was being let off, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Apart from him. His stomach was rolling over and over, and part of him – the great, big, cowardly part – was wishing he’d stayed on board Serenity. It didn’t matter that he used to be part of the Alliance army, but a deserter before getting to Hera … if anything, that made it worse.

“Just play it cool,” he told himself. “You’re just here as back-up. That’s …” He stopped, seeing a face in the firelight that made his blood run cold. It was one of them. One of the faces that had leaped from the drawings River had made. One of the faces he was never going to forget.

He looked around for Zoe, wanted to tell her, to warn her that he’d found one of the men, but she wasn’t anywhere in sight.

The man stood up from his seat, stretching, laughing with the rest. Then he started to walk towards the pilot.

Hank couldn’t duck back in time, only having sufficient presence of mind to lean nonchalantly on the wall next to him.

The man grinned at him. “Get yourself to the fire,” he said as he went past. “There’s plenty to go around.” He slapped Hank’s shoulder. “Just gotta go drain the lizard.”

“Thanks,” Hank said, wanting to scrub his skin clean. He took one more look around, vainly searching for Serenity’s first mate, then turned to follow.

---

“What the hell are you doing in here?” Xavier Wing demanded, reaching for a small, elaborate gold bell on his desk.

“Don’t bother,” Mal said, his voice low. “No-one’ll hear. No-one to help.”

Wing looked past him thought the doorway. “My men –”

“Are incapacitated or dead.”

Wing narrowed his eyes. “Do I know you?”

“I don’t think we’ve ever met, although I believe you’re acquainted with my wife. I’m Captain Malcolm Reynolds.”

It was impressive how Wing managed not to show he recognised the name. “Really. And that’s supposed to mean something.”

Mal shrugged. “I figured you’d remember the man who killed your son.”

Now anger flared across his features as Wing pulled open the desk drawer. But Mal was quicker. He upended the furniture with one heave, sending the pistol that had been concealed flying across the room.

“Now, that’s just not nice,” he said. “Just as we’re getting friendly and all.”

“Get out!” Wing shouted.

“I don’t think so,” Harrow said from behind Mal.

“You …” Wing couldn’t speak for a moment, just staring at Harrow and Dillon. “Is this what you’ve come down to? Consorting with common criminals?”

“I don’t think you should be playing quite the innocent,” Dillon said, his gun pointing at the other man’s belly. “Not after what we saw. What you did to our friend.”

“Your friend?” Wing scoffed. “I have no idea what you mean.”

“Really.” Mal was calm. “Now, why do I find that particularly hard to believe? Especially since we got the proof right here.”

---

Jayne scanned the groups of people in front of him. They were getting to be the worse for wear, and there would be any number of hangovers next day, but he wasn’t thinking about getting drunk. Just looking for the men who’d hurt Freya. The anger he’d kept under control was beginning to burn through.

A man pushed past him, glaring into his face because he didn’t get out of the way fast enough.

“Him.” Jayne heard River’s voice in his brain.

“You sure?” he thought.

There was no reply, just an overwhelming impression of River’s ‘boob’ look, and he grinned. Course she was sure. But just for the sake of things he formed the words in his mind, “Stay outta my thoughts, moonbrain,” as he followed the man.

They reached a darker area, a junction behind various tents.

“Hey,” he called.

The man stopped. “What’ya want?” he asked, turning on his heel.

“You work for Wing?”

“Who wants to know?” The man had his hand very close to his gun.

Jayne put his widest smile on his face, knowing it didn’t reach his eyes. “Wondered if there was a place for a good man. Figured there might be money in it.”

“You looking for a job?”

“Always looking for something better. You know how it goes.” He moved closer.

“Sure.” The man dropped his hand. “Might be a spot for someone who knows what they’re doing. You know what you’re doing?”

“Oh, yeah,” Jayne said, now so close he could smell the alcohol on the other man‘s breath. “I know what I’m doing.”

He drew his knife in a smooth movement, grabbing the man by the back of the neck. He looked into surprised eyes as he slid it high into the man’s belly, drawing it down. The eyes widened and he took breath to scream but Jayne slammed his bloody hand, the knife still in it, across his mouth, holding it there. The man struggled ineffectually, trying to pull the wound closed, feeling hideous slipperiness engulf his fingers. Jayne glared into his face, watching as he began to weaken.

“That’s for Freya,” he said softly, letting him go to fall wetly to the ground. The man squirmed a little, his heels scuffing on the dirt, then was still.

Jayne waited a moment then leaned down to clean his knife on the dead man’s shirt, slipping it back into its sheath before disappearing into the darkness.

---

“Got something of yours,” Mal said, and Jethro stepped into the tent, a woman’s arm held tightly in his hand.

“Xavier!” Sheydra cried, tugging herself free, running to him. “They made me, Xavier! The girl … she read my mind! I didn’t want to –” She clung to him.

“There, there,” he said softly, putting his hands either side of her face so that he could look into her eyes. “I understand.” He smiled.

“Xavier –” And in that moment she knew.

The sound of her neck breaking filled the tent, and for a moment she hung in his hands, her eyes wide, before he let go and she slipped to the floor.

Harrow and Dillon looked as if they were going to be sick, and Jethro turned quickly away. Only Mal had no expression.

---

The man had gone into a small hut, from the smell some kind of toilet facilities. Hank looked around frantically for Zoe, but there was still no sign. She’d probably come back for him, found him gone and was now searching for him. But if there was another exit it could be hours before they found him again … Hank steeled himself and walked inside.

The man was standing at the wall, relieving himself. He glanced over. “Drag up a pew,” he said.

“No, I …” Hank couldn’t think.

“Ain’t you gonna take a pee?” the man asked, shaking himself off and doing up his pants. He stared over his shoulder, seeing the other man, pale-faced, looking as if he was going to throw up. “What do you want?” he asked, reaching for the gun belt that was hanging on the hook next to him.

“You,” Hank said quietly.

“What for?”

“What you did to my friend.”

The man grabbed for his gun, pulling it around to aim, but for once Hank was faster. His gun boomed in the confined space, tossing the man back against the wall, blood spattering the wood from where the bullet had caught him high in the throat.

Jayne rushed into the hut but he wasn’t needed. Hank was standing over the body, his gun in his hand.

“You okay?” the big man asked.

Hank nodded. “I’ve never … I don’t think I’ve ever killed a man before.”

“This weren’t a man,” Jayne said, not even glancing at the still form on the floor. “Whatever he was, he wasn’t that.”

“He hurt Freya so much …” Hank was beginning to feel the effects of shock setting in.

Jayne clamped a hand on his shoulder, turning him around. “You did good, little man. He ain’t gonna hurt no-one ever again.”

Hank looked into his face. “And the other one?”

“I dealt with him.”

The pilot nodded, pulling himself together. “Then let’s go help Mal.”

“Hank?” Zoe asked from the doorway, smelling the distinctive scent of gunpowder.

“Don’t worry about him,” Jayne said. “He did okay.”

“I thought you said I did good?” Hank asked a trifle belligerently.

“Don’t go getting too cocky,” the big man advised.

Hank nodded and looked at Zoe. “Come on,” he said, smiling weakly. “Before someone comes to see what all the fuss is about.” They ran out of the tent together.

---

Harrow was staring down at the body of the Companion. “Why …why …” he stammered.

“She betrayed me,” Wing said. He dismissed her without another thought. “I don’t suffer people who betray me.”

“And is that what you think we did?” Mal asked.

“You killed my son.”

“After he poisoned my friend, almost got another gutted, and tried to do the same to me.” He perched on the upended desk. “I’d say that evens things out.”

“I don’t. I simply did what a man has to do to avenge his family.”

“A man doesn’t go after defenceless women and children,” Mal said softly.

Wing mistook his quietness for weakness. “Your wife? Defenceless?”

Suddenly Mal was in his face, his gun pressed into the other man’s neck. “He comes after me. Me!” He pressed harder, forcing the muzzle into Wing’s flesh. He clicked the safety off. “A man doesn’t torture women. Doesn’t watch his men break her bones, hear her scream until she can’t scream any more …”

“I didn’t watch.” There was distaste in amongst the arrogance and pain on his face. “I’m not a monster.”

“You can do all of that and still say …” Mal couldn’t believe his ears. He leaned harder on the gun, taking up the slack from the trigger.

“Captain,” Dillon said warningly.

It seemed an eternity but finally Mal moved back, holstering his gun once more, the safety back on.

“So now what?” Wing peeled himself from the wall with care and rubbed at the dark red mark on his neck. “Your tame do-gooders hand me over to the Authorities?” He sneered. “You think they’re going to believe you? Over me? It won’t even come to court.”

“No.” Mal stood still. “See, the truth is, you couldn’t even get that right. Freya’s alive. No matter what your men did to her, she survived because of who she is. She‘s alive,” he repeated.

Wing stared, immobile, disbelieving, until everyone but Mal was beginning to feel uncomfortable.

“So what –” Wing began, then stopped as Hank and Jayne barged into the tent, Zoe at their heels.

“Well?” Mal asked.

“They’re dead,” Jayne said. “Got one each.”

“Thanks.” Mal still hadn’t moved.

“Is that it?” Wing asked. “Your gorillas going to do your dirty work for you?”

The sound of fireworks began overhead, celebrating another Unification Day.

“No. I was just waiting.” Mal drew his gun and fired.

Wing, looking almost as surprised as his son had done, fell back, a hole in the centre of his forehead, his brains decorating the wall behind him. He slid to the floor to lie with his head in Sheydra’s lap, his blood soaking into her dress.

Dillon looked at Mal in shocked surprise. “I thought you’d want to …”

Mal holstered his gun. “Torture him? Do to him what he did to Freya?” He shook his head. “I just wanted him out of this ‘verse.”

“Because you’re better than he is?”

Mal looked at him. “No. Because I’m just not as bad.” He turned on his heel and headed back to his family.

---

Voices. Talking. Over and around each other.

“You didn’t bring me his head.”

“No. Sorry. They wouldn’t let me.”

“Never mind. It was metaphorical anyway.”

“I didn’t mean to kill him.”

“I know, dear. But you had to.”

“It still makes me feel sick to think of it.”

“Then don’t. But I’m glad it does.”

“Is it over now?”

“I think so.”

“And Freya?”

“It’ll take time, sweetheart.”

“Is this what life’s like out here?”

“Sometimes. Thankfully not always.”

“I wish we could have saved her …”

“Yes.”

She opened her eyes onto a bright blur.

“Frey?”

“Mal?” she tried to say, but only her lips trembled a little.

“Don’t try to move, honey. We’ve got you all … just stay put.”

She tried to focus. “Mal?”

“Everything’s okay. You’re home.”

She tried to form another word but couldn’t.

“She wants to know if Ethan’s safe,” River interpreted.

“He’s fine. Just glad his Momma’s back,” Mal said.

“Mal, I’d better sedate her again, just for a while.”

“Sure, doc. But she’s gonna be fine now.”

There was a pause. “There. You’ll drift off again in a moment.”

She thought loudly.

“She’s saying it was Wing.”

“I know.” Mal stroked her hair. “I know, ai ren. And he’s dead. I killed him for you.”

“She’s glad.”

Her eyes closed again.

“She’s asleep.”

“Thanks, doc.”

“I think we’d all better get some rest.”

“Good idea.”

“You think I can sleep? After all that’s been going on?”

“Try, dear.”

She could hear the relief in their voices, the release of long-held tension, yet over it all she could hear someone else, a man, saying “My name is Xavier Wing. Your husband killed my son. And when he finds your body, what’s been done to it, he will know how it feels.” And there, just at the edge of her consciousness, moving ever closer, was the darkness, waiting to consume her.

-------------

COMMENTS

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:30 PM

SPACEANJL


I would just like you to know that you gave me nightmares last night. Thank you. It's been a long time since someone weirded me out like that. It was the sound of little bones giving way, and a voice on the edge of darkness.

Thursday, February 22, 2007 7:05 AM

TAMSIBLING


Amazing resolution! You managed to give Mal the chance to exact revenge without making him a monster, which I think giving the situation was very difficult.

I'm a tad worried about Hank though ... I don't know if in the end he'll be okay with it - think Fred and Gunn in S4 of Angel after they killed Fred's professor ... still, hopefully Zoe can see him through it, especially since she has killed before.

Thursday, February 22, 2007 7:06 AM

AMDOBELL


Mighty glad that evil *wangba dan* is out of the 'verse and that his henchmen were also taken care of. How Wing could think himself not a monster because he didn't stay to watch Freya's bones being broken one by one is beyond the pale. Cold, heartless and thoroughly despicable. Can't wait now to see Freya heal and everyone settle down to a nice hearty celebration in the safety of the Black. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 22, 2007 10:25 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


Fantastic as always!

Can't even think what's going to happen after all this.

Thursday, February 22, 2007 1:14 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


This was utterly and completely brilliant, Jane0904! Between Jayne and Hank's differing-but-joined moments of confrontation with Wing's men, and Mal's little showdown with Wing himself...I am in awe:D

Gotta say I am concerned for Hank and Freya though. Hank, while very Wash-like in behaviour, is a lot less capable of using potentially fatal force than Wash was...this moment with the thug in the toilets is a brilliant look at how the meek can do something mighty and troubling when they have to. My concern about Freya? The amount of abuse she took at the hands of the unnamed hundans is rather impossible to properly fathom, so her psyche - I think - gonna be rather Reaverish due to all the bottled up rage and fear:(

BEB


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