Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"The Captain goes with Plan B but doesn't let on just how much he has changed the original plan. He figures the less they know, the less they will worry."



SUMMARY: "The Captain goes with Plan B but doesn't let on just how much he has changed the original plan. he figures the less they know, the less they will worry." 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

* * * * *

As soon as the connection was cut the Captain turned to River. "You hear all that?"

The girl nodded and stepped out of the shadows, her pale face solemn but focused. "Yes."

"He gonna keep his word?"

"Only if you keep yours."

* * * * *

Jayne Cobb was not a man to worry overmuch about others but ever since Monty had been thrown back in the dank cell the man's breathing had been a cause for concern. Just him and Monty, no sign of Wash. Jayne had glimpsed Wash briefly and couldn't help but worry about who else the twisted *tamade hundan* had in his clutches. All to win back some kind of reputation the Captain had taken from him. Didn't make sense to him. They had already given back the money when Mal decided to give the medicine back. Niska had been pissed alright and taken more than his gorram pound of flesh before the crew went in and rescued the Captain, and that was after paying five times the cost of the job to ransom Wash. This man was not the type to make your enemy.


The mercenary moved stiffly off the padded bench and knelt beside Monty. Couldn't see much detail of his injuries on account of all the blood but the man was definitely in pain. "Monty, you hear me? It's Jayne, Jayne Cobb."

Swollen eyes tried to open, a murmur bled its' way out of the oddly distorted mouth. He was black and blue and quite a few shades Jayne was sure had never made it into any colouring book. He didn't look so good.

"What the *diyu* they do to you?"

Monty managed to get his eyes open a crack but when he tried to talk he had to turn his head to spit the blood out. Jayne worried that the man had internal injuries. Once he finished spitting Monty angled his head to look at Jayne then opened his mouth as wide as he could. At first Jayne thought he was going to say something but then he realised what Monty wanted him to see and began swearing.

"Gorramit, they pulled all your ruttin' teeth out!"

The big man tried to grin but it was hard to do it properly when there was nothing to keep his mouth in shape. "Wanted Mal to see."

That short sentence caused a coughing fit and Jayne had to hold him so he could spit the blood out, not swallow and choke on it. Jayne frowned. "We gotta stop the bleedin'."

"*Bu qu*, we gotta stop Mal." Monty growled.

The puzzled look on Jayne's face prompted the big man to explain.

"No way Mal won't do exactly what Niska wants." Monty paused, turned his head aside and spat out another glob of blood. "It's what the *qingwa cao de liumang* is countin' on."

"Ain't that what we want? To get the good gorram outta here? I say let the others come an' when we get Niska I wanna hear him scream like a girl right before I rip his eyes out."

It took a moment or two before Monty could speak again, the big man was visibly flagging. "I think Niska made a deal." "No way would..."

"*Anjing*! Yes, he would. He would if it would save us."

"Mal ain't that *shenjingbing*."

Monty let himself lie prone again, head rolling to the side to let the trickle of blood out of the side of his mouth while he tried to recover some of his strength. When he spoke again his voice was dull. "He is when it comes to protectin' his own. An' when I say that Jayne I mean family an' crew, *dong ma*? Mal ain't gonna let anythin' stop him."

"Ain't just Mal, the whole crew'll come an' don't forget the Shepherd. Don't know how he knows all the things he knows but Book's smart. They'll think of somethin'."

He didn't have the energy to argue. Jayne didn't understand. Monty had still been in the underbelly of the mausoleum Niska was using as a torture house when Wash got dragged in. Had seen Niska open the cortex link and wave Serenity. Had heard more than he had seen but it was enough to know that his stupid but honourable cousin had cut a deal. What hurt him most was that he was powerless to stop the *wangu chunren* going through with it.

* * * * *

Zoe couldn't stop pacing. Not a one of the crew could sleep even if there was sleep to be had. Kaylee had been fretting so much that Zoe had sent her off to the engine room to tinker and fine tune Serenity ready to go when the Captain gave the word. Only the Captain wasn't speaking, just looking grim and focused last time she had seen him. It worried her, more than she wanted to admit in front of the others. No matter what *goushi* they faced she and Mal always faced it together. She didn't like the notion that thoughts were going through his head that she wasn't privy to. Unsettled her more than a little.

The quiet in the common room felt eerie, unnatural. Akira Hanimoto was so still that the others barely noticed him. Simon watched Kaylee hurry away, tempted to go with her to offer what comfort he could but knew there was nothing any of them could do until this was over. That was when he noticed his sister wasn't with them. "Has anyone seen River?"

Inara shook her head and continued making tea for everyone. Shepherd Book leaned on a chair and glanced around, taking in their reduced numbers and giving Hanimoto a thoughtful look. The samurai did not react. The Shepherd didn't need to look in Zoe's eyes to see the rage and worry at war in the woman, he could literally feel it coming off her in waves. "Going after Niska this time won't be like the skyplex." He warned.

"We know that Preacher." Zoe responded with deadly calm. Her fierce expression was controlled - for now.

Any speculation was cut off before it could get properly started as the Captain walked in, River and Kaylee tagging along behind him. Zoe's eyes locked on the Captain. Man looked decisive and battle ready. She could feel an answering spark inside, ready and relieved. All this waiting around was killing her. The Captain gave Inara a nod of thanks as he took the proferred mug of tea, allowing himself a small sip before speaking. His crew all but holding their breaths. "Think Zoe's right about where they have our people but that still don't give us an exact location."

"Perhaps I could make a few discreet enquiries..."

Mal shook his head. "Much as I appreciate the gesture Inara it ain't gonna fly. From that feed we saw, Niska has them someplace underground. What we need are plans."

Zoe frowned. "We have a plan, sir."

The Captain raised a hand briefly to stall her. "Not that kind of plan. Plans, I said, as in the kind for sewage an' somesuch."

"You want to crawl through this planet's sewage?" Simon couldn't help sounding horrified and completely unimpressed, as if he had just found out the local asylum was missing a lunatic and his Captain had taken the job.

"Not as such." Mal gave a small wry smile at the doctor's reaction. Man kept himself so clean it was like he was teflon coated. Not that he was complaining, just was a mite unnatural in the Black. Life they led. Still. Helped him be a mighty fine doctor, a fact that had saved him and his crew more times than he cared to count. "But if they're underground there have to be plans of the tunnels an' somesuch." The Captain looked at Book. "Think you know any people who would be able to help us out?"

Shepherd Book nodded slowly, his sharp eyes almost boring into the Captain's. "I'm pretty sure I can come up with some blueprints. Might take a little while."

Zoe frowned, any delay was one that was like to shorten her fuse. "How long?"

Book straightened. "Couple of hours at least."

"Then go, use the cortex link on the bridge. We need to know anything below ground that could look like what we saw."

Book nodded, mentally reviewing Niska's short transmission. "I'm guessin' it was something like an underground crypt, unless there are dungeons hidden away somewhere."

The Captain's look was grim. "Don't wanna guess, we got lives at stake. I wanna know what that place is an' where it is, *dong ma*? An' anywhere else that could be a possibility too." "Sir?"

"Just wanna cover all the bases, Zoe. Ain't fixin' on makin' any mistakes."

"Our plan..."

"Still holds, you hear me? Needs to be a little fluid is all but we hold."

Zoe nodded, looking every inch the stone killer. The Captain was proud of her. Woman had lost Wash once because of him, wasn't going to let it happen again.

* * * * *

He couldn't help it. Wash felt sick, the wave of nausea taking his stomach and what little contents were left with it. Pain wracked his body but his mind was clearing again. The deep strokes of the whip had stopped. Wash sucked in a breath as deep as he could, wanting to steel himself for the next blow only it never came. Hazily he was aware of Niska stepping up to him, his pleased grinning face staring much too close for comfort. The little round glasses glinting as the small mean mouth opened with a smirk. "You are *xingyun*, yes? Today you should die but..." Niska raised a hand then let it fall. His smile widening at the confusion on the pilot's face. For a moment Niska was serious. "You must be very important to him."

"W..what? *Shei*?"

Niska leaned back and nodded to someone Wash could not see. Then his wrists were being unshackled and his arms lowered, a great brute of a man holding him so firmly he could not fall. The man had so many tattoos on him that he could have walked through a city naked and no one would notice until they got real close. Then the 'verse was swimming around him, sight and sound a mixed cacophony of images and noise. The noise bending and shifting, warping around him as if he was on some kind of drug induced high only he wasn't. Everything was pain and everything was confusion. All he knew as darkness claimed him was that he wanted Zoe. Needed her more than the breath in his body. A single tear leaked from his closing eyes, his pain wracked body as much a prayer as his flagging thoughts. *Be safe, bao bei, be safe.* For Wash, nothing else mattered.

* * * * *

Serenity did not land. The Captain said it was too risky, she was a target. Only River's gifted flying had prevented them from being blasted into itty bitty pieces as they had taken off. Zoe offered to take out the gun emplacement but Mal waved the offer away.

"Can't. They'd know we were back an' in the blink of an eye every Alliance ship in sensor range would be swarmin' over this place. No. We keep a low profile, split into teams."

Kaylee didn't like the sound of that and neither did the others. "But Cap'n. we got a map!"

"We got schematics, little Kaylee. Ain't the same thing."

She looked confused. Inara was worried. "Mal, I don't think it's a good idea to split up."

The Captain's lips flattened into a line so thin they almost disappeared. Zoe didn't upbraid her, had been thinking the very same thing her own self. "Not got time to argue, 'Nara. You wanna inch outta my hide you take it when we get back, *dong ma*? Those blueprints Book got us are pretty extensive. Too much ground for one group of eyes to check out, so we split up. Ain't got time to argue."

Simon opened his mouth to speak but the Captain was a step ahead of him. Turning to River he spoke more gently, his eyes on hers as if holding her to a promise. "You stay here, little one. Think you can do that for me?"

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. The Captain gave a little smile but it didn't reach his eyes. He wanted to reassure her but couldn't. "*Xie xie*, may need some of that fancy flyin' before we're done." Then he was looking at Kaylee. "Kaylee, need you to keep Serenity runnin' smooth 'til we need her. Soon as we get 'em back we gotta be outta the atmo of this world. Place is likely to boil like an ant's nest minutes after so if someone's late River's gonna take off. Get everybody safe then lie low 'til it all goes quiet an' we can come back for the stragglers."

Zoe didn't like the sound of that. "We don't leave anyone behind, sir."

"Not fixin' to but timin's like to be a mite tight. Don't matter who the good gorram it is, but if any one of us ain't keepin' up when we get Wash, Jayne and Monty back we go. Anyone a mite slow will know it, wait out our return when it's safe."

He could see by the looks on their faces that they did not like the revised plan but he was the Captain and for now that gave him the edge he needed. Couldn't afford to let them think it through, to see the flaws in the plan. The Captain tapped the schematics, bringing everyone's attention to the parchment laid out on the common room table. "This here's where Zoe an' Wash spent the night an' here's where the tunnels start."

"So we start lookin' there?"

The Captain shook his head at his first mate. "*Bu qu*, they're just tunnels. Access channels for the sewage an' somesuch but this, here, this network is under a cemetery."

Shepherd Book picked up the tale from there. "It would appear to be a quite extensive crypt, fallen into disuse and disrepair over the years. Nobody goes there now except rats and other vermin."

"An' there ain't no bigger vermin than Niska but we do this careful an' by the numbers. Don't wanna tip our hand an' have Niska play out any more of his gorram fantasies on our people. We go in slow an' quiet. Not no radio chatter 'til we're out of the gorram place. We'll wear the earwigs an' listen in on whatever River an' Kaylee have to tell us just in case they notice somethin' happenin' that could mess up our plan. If you wanna answer you click your handset, once for yes an' twice for no. You click three times it means everythin's gone to *goushi, dong ma*? Zoe, you an' Book'll go in from the West side. The entrance is by this ruined church." Zoe nodded. "I'll take the opposite end..."

"Ya can't go in alone!" Kaylee protested. Simon put his arm around her and could feel how the mechanic was trembling.

Before the Captain could reassure her, Hanimoto stepped forward. "I will go with Captain Reynolds."

The Captain was about to refuse when Hanimoto bowed to him. Mouth snapping shut he stared at the Japanese samurai and wondered what was going on. "Ain't your fight, Hanimoto."

"My son fought with you in Serenity Valley, *tomodachi*."

"Your son?"

"Teshi." The Captain sucked in a breath in surprise. Hadn't thought about the boy's surname, the boy so westernised that he hardly thought of him as anything but one of his boys.

"Teshi was your son?"

The man nodded once, his expression grave but serene. It seemed incongruous given the bloody way in which Teshi's life had been ripped right out of his young body. Proximity mines left little but rags of flesh and bone in their wake, the blood a rain of vermillion drops like red tears from heaven. The Captain had been more than upset at the time. Teshi was a good man, dependable, honourable and a damn fine Browncoat. "He write, every day. Only a few letters came during the war but he spoke of you. Held you in deep respect, *taisa*, so much so that he said you would bring him home."

The Captain swallowed around the lump in his throat and looked at Zoe. She looked shocked but recovered so quickly that he marvelled. Wished he had that ability his own self.

"When this is over I will collect my son, *hai*?"

"Ain't much left..."

"You did not leave him there?"

Mal shook his head, offended that Hanimoto would think as much. "*Bu qu*, just sayin' it was bits. Gathered what could be found. Would'a been high in the heat in a day or so, had to burn what was left. Gathered the ashes - you know how it is." Hanimoto nodded but said nothing. "Yeah well, we didn't have no fancy urn or such but I had this box. Heard tell it was ebony. Hard an' shiny an' the best I could do for him in a landscape set alight by cannon fire."

Akiro Hanimoto closed his eyes and bowed again to the Captain. When he straightened his eyes were open. "It is in a safe place, *taisa*?"

The Captain nodded. "That it is. Zoe knows where the box is hid."

Zoe nodded. Had wondered at the time why Mal had fussed with it. Was just a small plain old wooden box, not got much heft to it, but the Captain had handled it like spun silk. Lifted the deck plate in his bunk where he hid the emergency money then sealed it down again. To her knowledge it hadn't been moved since the day the Captain bought his boat. Gave her something of a creepy feeling having the past step back into their lives with the appearance of Teshi's father. Then the Captain was talking again and Zoe was back in the moment.

"Doc, you stay on Serenity. Best get the infirmary ready." Simon nodded. "Inara, want you to stay too."

"Mal, you'll need the shuttle." "*Bushi*, we'll go down in shuttle two. Need you here in case one group or other needs help in a hurry. Can't bring Serenity down, leastways not an' hope to go unnoticed. Now, we all got jobs to be doin', let's get to them *mashang*."

* * * * *

It was hard packed but damp. The earth smelt bad as if everything good had not only died in it but in great and horrific pain. The muddy slippy soil like thickened blood. He hated the way it filled his nostrils with loathing, though every time he tried to get up his footing would go out from under him bringing him down so hard that all the breath huffed out of him. Then pain would attend his wounds, remind him that even drawing fetid air into his pained lungs was all manner of victory. At least until Niska's henchmen returned.


Wash froze, head to one side, one ear just above the filth. Body prone to hide his silhouette though in the darkened cell he wondered that it mattered.

"*Wei*!" A familiar voice hissed. "That you, Wash?" Hope surged through him. Carefully Wash eased himself up on his arms, but all he could see was another cell across the dim corridor. "Jayne?"

"*Tianna*, little man, was sure you was dead!"

Despite how lousy he felt Wash chuckled then rolled onto his side before sitting up. Why the good gorram was his corner of hell so rutting wet? Bad enough to be tortured without Niska trying to drown him. "You okay, Jayne?"

The mercenary grunted. "Will be when I get my hands around that *wuneug de ren*, Niska. How come you're in another cell anyway? You was over here before." Wash couldn't understand that it mattered. "Special treatment." He murmured, his voice fading in the swell of his mouth. "What about you?"

"Dunno." There was a slight pause. "Hey, Wash? You alone in there?"

If it wouldn't have hurt his ribs too much Wash would have laughed. "*Shenme*, you think I got dancin' girls in here with me?"

"No, just ain't seen hide nor hair of Monty."

There was a moment or two of silence. Wash wondered if he had heard him right. "Did you say Monty?"

"Yeah, seems Niska set a trap an' caught him too."

"*Weishenme*? Monty had nothin' to do with that job."

"*Wo zhidao, ni zhidao, but Niska don't care."

"Then why snatch him?"

"He wants to hurt Mal, that's why." Jayne paused to spit. "They're cousins."

The shock took Wash's mind off his pain for a moment. "They are?" How come he didn't know they were gorram cousins? Next Jayne would be telling him Zoe and Mal were sister and brother. No. Not that. Some things were too horrible to joke about, even for Jayne.

"Where d'ya suppose we are?"

Jayne stumbled over to his cell door and leaned on it, his hands gripping the bars to keep himself upright. Wash responded by gripping the bars on his cell door and using them to push himself painfully to his feet. Felt a mite dizzy but it was so good to be standing upright. "If this is sphincter of hell I reckon we're a good mile up it."

"Huh, that don't help."

The pilot cocked his head. "Why so curious?"

"Just wanna know for when we get out."

"Jayne, we ain't gettin' out 'til Niska throws what's left of us out with the trash."

"We'll get out." Jayne growled.

Wash pushed off from the cell door and managed to get to the dirty padded bench without falling. "Yeah, well when that miracle happens you wake me, *dong ma*?"

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *diyu* = hell *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *qingwa cao de liumang* = frog humping sumbitch *anjing* = quiet *shenjingbing* = crazy *dong ma* = understand? *goushi* = crap/dog shit *wangu chunren* = stubborn idiot *xingyun* = lucky *shei* = who *bao bei* = precious/treasure *xie xie* = thanks *bushi* = not so *mashang* = at once/immediately/quickly/on the double *wei* = hey! *tianna* = oh God! *wuneug de ren* = trash (as in a despicable person) *shenme* = what *weishenme* = why? *wo zhidao* = I know *ni zhidao* = you know


*tomodachi* = friend *taisa* = captain *hai* = yes


Tuesday, February 27, 2007 4:59 PM


Well, you're certainly tugging on every heartstring I've got, here! I felt horrible for Monty, and the scene with Wash getting whipped made me want to cry. He's such a kind and sweet person that it seems so horribly unfair that he should have to suffer cruelty and violence. You did write him very much in character though, I think - utterly miserable but above all concerned for his wife.

I'm glad Mal is calm enough to think and to plan carefully; also very much in character. I'll bet Niska is downright planning on a double-cross from him, so he better tread very gorram carefully.

:waits with bated breath for new chapter:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 10:51 PM


Oh damn...this was just all kinds of painful, AMDOBELL. Definitely struggled not to flinch my own self when I read the parts about Monty's condition post-torture session and Wash's treatment. That and I loved how you started to explain Hanimoto's connection to Mal;D


Wednesday, February 28, 2007 12:02 AM


Wow, there is so much tension in this it's rippling off the screen. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Thursday, March 1, 2007 8:37 AM


This chapter made me cringe and that's not easy to do:) Ahh, the pain, the torture! Nicely done!


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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.