Monday, March 19, 2007

"The crew receive a disturbing message and help unlooked for achieves the impossible".



SUMMARY: "The crew receive a disturbing message and help unlooked for achieves the impossible." 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

* * * * *

They gathered in the commons room. Nothing formal. No plan as such. Just hearts and minds thinking in concert. Kaylee looked at Zoe but the first mate wasn't talking. Her face set in an implaccable adamantine mask the warrior woman methodically stripped, cleaned and loaded her mare's leg. The silence was only broken by other crew members doing the same. Wash wanted to say something - anything to break the tense atmosphere - but knew this was not the time. When Zoe was satisfied she straightened and every eye in the room was drawn to her. "Let's go get him back."

Jayne huffed as he got to his feet, enough ordnance on him to start a small war - or finish one if he was feeling generous. "*Diyu*, ain't interested in no dead body."

The first mate frowned but before she could berate him Jayne gave a fierce grin.

"I'm gonna get that *tamade yaoguai* an' end him for once an' all." The mercenary paused, his eyes glinting with a cold mix of fury and anticipation. "Think I'll get me an' ear. Maybe an eye or two. I ain't fussy, can kill him after. Long as he dies in gorram agony."

Kaylee shuddered and tried to block the images from her mind. Shepherd Book had a rifle with a handgun tucked into the front of his waistband. Wash had an ammo vest on with several handguns now loaded and slotted into the pockets and one in his side holster. Simon Tam wasn't armed nor would he be, he already knew that he would be staying on Serenity with his sister and Kaylee, waiting to patch up whoever survived this fun little outing into madness. He wasn't surprised at the crew's reaction, had been on the ship long enough to know that this was more family than crew now and anyone who hurt one of them hurt them all. What did surprise him was how much he agreed with Jayne. A man like Niska could not be allowed to continue. Even Book did not try to moderate Jayne's need for revenge. Maybe he was an Old Testament Preacher or maybe he just thought enough was enough. Niska had been given plenty of chances to walk away from this and the crew had certainly paid him a small fortune for the privilege but he was a vindictive and spiteful old man. It was time to end this.

The mechanic was trying hard not to cry, fidgetting and wringing her hands together. It felt wrong. Everything off kilter and out of synch. Made her uneasy. Bad enough to lose the Captain, she didn't want anyone else to die. River reached out and wrapped her hands gently but firmly around Kaylee's, the strength from her touch stilling the shaking of the mechanic's hands. "No one will die."

Kaylee's eyes widened, her look turning hopeful. "They won't?"

River nodded. "Only those who are meant to and they will die screaming."

The hopeful look turned to one of horror. Before Kaylee could think of a response Simon moved up to stand beside her making room for Inara to join them. The Companion looked pale but composed. Simon waited for the right moment to speak. "I'm happy to report that Monty is responding well to treatment. He had numerous open wounds and some weeping sores. His ribs will be sore for some weeks but they're bruised and cracked not broken. I've given him three units of blood and set up an IV to rehydrate him and put him on a course of antibiotics." He paused and looked at his sister. "You were right, *mei mei*. He wants his new teeth made of bone."

"So," said Wash as if this was his cue "we're setting course for Lilac?"

Zoe ratchetted her gun. "After we deal with Niska."

The pilot's mouth went dry at the expression on her face. This was Zoe at her most deadly and only a complete *baichi* would try to stand in her way. "Right. *Dang ran*. We have that whole killin' the bad guy to do first."

River shook her head. "Won't matter."

Every eye turned to her. Inara looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"Doesn't matter." River looked at each of the crew, making eye contact with all of them as if to impress her words on them. Engrave them into their brains. "You need to do this. See for yourself."

Simon felt his gut twist. Kaylee looked to him for reassurance but he had no answers, all he could do was take her hand and give a comforting squeeze. He had no answers, *diyu* with River half the time he didn't even know the questions but she was his sister and he loved her more than the breath in his body. "River, what do we need to see and why doesn't it matter?"

"We saw what we were meant to see. Heard what he wanted us to hear. Doesn't think we'll come. No profit in it."

Before anyone could respond a noise distracted them. Book frowned. "What was that?"

Jayne shifted, his movements quick and lithe with a hunter's grace. "Huh, someone's bangin' on the cargo bay door."

Immediately everyone followed him. Not knowing what *goushi* might be waiting for them no one was taking any chances. When Jayne got to the big door he put his face up against the small square window but couldn't see anything. He frowned. "Ain't no one there."

"He's gone."

Jayne's head spun round. "What ya talkin' about moon-brain?"

"Don't call her that!" Snapped Simon. "She has a name."

River was not looking at any of them, just staring at the closed cargo bay door. "Left a message. No words. Doesn't know what it means."

The crew looked disconcerted then Zoe nodded to Jayne. "Open the door, Jayne."

He was about to argue but Zoe had that stone cold look in her eyes so he just did it. Shepherd Book was the first to venture down the ramp, scanning the horizon in every direction but there was no one in sight. He looked down and stared at a box left at the bottom of the ramp. The girl was right. It was a message.

Zoe walked passed him and walked around the box. It wasn't that big, a foot and a half square. No writing or markings on it and not sealed neither. Just a box only River had said it was a message and that set all manner of warning bells off in her head.

"*Diyu*, ain't ya gonna open it?" Jayne asked impatiently.

"We don't know if it's booby-trapped." Said Book calmly.

"It isn't." River assured.

"I don't like this, *bao bei*." Murmured Wash. Zoe gave a little nod, she didn't like it either but they weren't getting any wiser just staring at the gorram thing. She looked at Jayne, "Open it!"

The big man took a step back. "Why me?"

"It's just a box."

"Then you open it."

Not wanting an argument to start, Book hunkered down next to the box. "I'll open it, but I suggest the rest of you step back just to be on the safe side."

Zoe and Jayne aimed their guns at the box and stepped back. The Shepherd lifted off the lid and for a few moments was unable to speak. He stared down, his mouth dropping open as he absorbed the full import of what he was seeing. "Oh my, this isn't good."

The others crowded round him, needing to see what was inside but wary as well. Zoe's heart missed a beat. It was the Captain's gunbelt, neatly rolled in the bottom of the box. But that wasn't what hurt so bad it made her eyes prick with tears. The gunbelt was covered in blood.

* * * * *

It took more effort to rouse him this time but Niska could be patient. He had what he wanted and intended to enjoy every agonising minute of it. He nodded to Richter. "Again!"

The man didn't hesitate, the shock going through the limp body and making the air spark. The Captain began choking. Richter rolled him on to one side to help Mal free his airway naturally then stepped back. Niska took his place with a smile. "Welcome back, Mr Reynolds. I don't want you to die any more. We have unfinished business, yes?"

Mal couldn't speak. Couldn't focus or hardly get his gorram breath. Everything hurt even the ends of his hair. Weariness and pain almost blocked out the evil little man riven with excitement and glee. Niska kept it restrained but it was there, like an energy field telegraphing his perverse enjoyment while others suffered. What Mal felt for him at that moment went way beyond simple hate.

It hurt, so gorram much but the will to live was strong and he never did know when to quit. Even the knowledge that letting go and dying would end the *liumang's* entertainment was not enough to make the Captain stop fighting, even if all he could summon up was the ragged remnants of dark humour. "That the best you can do?"

Niska's eyes sparkled. Oh yes, Malcolm Reynolds was a very exceptional man. "Is almost a pity you have to die." "No, don't have to die." The Captain trailed off into a short coughing fit. Annoyed at himself for not being able to control it but unable to do anything for a moment or two. "You could just let me go seein' as how you've won an' all."

"Ah, but people need to know there is no more Malcolm Reynolds, just Niska."

"Last man standin', huh?"

"Before then, I still want my five days Mr Reynolds."

The Captain was lying on his back again, eyes foggy with brief confusion. Niska was leaning over him, smiling.


The crime lord reached out a hand and Richter put an instrument similar to a scapel in it. Just then there was a loud sharp knock on the door. Niska's smile turned into an unhappy frown, straightening he glared. "Always with the interruptions!"

Richter went to see who it was, Niska's other two henchmen repositioning themselves so that they could go and help if there was trouble and protect their *loaban*. They never got the chance. In a whirl of activity Hans Richter came stumbling back from the door, ribbons of blood flying off his body as he jerked backwards, his gun sliding noisily across the floor with the right hand still attached. The other two men ran forward on instinct, a blur of bright flashing metal arcing through the air and slashing through flesh and bone like a knife through butter. The downward sweep of swords so fast the two men were disembowled before their suddenly slack bodies crumpled to the ground. Niska edged round the table where Mal lay, as if looking to Serenity's Captain to save him but the man in question was too busy trying to see what the good gorram was going on. "What the...?"

That was when the blurry figure coalesced into a face the Captain recognised. Shock stunned him and it took a moment for him to find his voice. "Not that I'm not grateful but where in the nine hells did you come from?"

Akira Hanimoto bowed to the Captain, his *katana* and *wakizashi* dulled by the blood dripping off them on to the stone floor. Hanimoto used the *shiburi* technique to shake the blood off his weapons but made no move to re-shealth them. Even as he spoke to Mal the samurai kept a close eye on Niska, for him there would be no escaping destiny. The howling hoardes of *nezumi* would not be missing their most despicable brethren for long. "*Konbanwa, taisa*. I am the part of you that is hidden."

If he had not been feeling so weak and in pain Mal would have laughed. "Huh, think I'd notice a part of me that could knock the *goushi* out of three *tamade hundan* without breaking a sweat."

Thinking to make a run for it while the two men were distracted, Niska was unprepared for the speed and dexterity of the samurai. In one quick fluid flick of his left wrist, Hanimoto released his *wakizashi* which sailed through the air almost without sound. The bright blood dulled blade turning slowly and mesmerising the terrified crime lord. Before Niska could react the blade caught his shoulder and he dropped the scapel with a cry of pain. Ignoring Mal, Hanimoto advanced on Niska, his movements slow and almost exaggerated. Niska was babbling now, offering to pay Hanimoto anything he wanted. Hanimoto stopped a foot short of Niska who froze, the look on his face saying he was all too aware that he had run out of options.

"Even the *jikokuni ochimuratachi* would disown you." Hanimoto raised his *katana* above his head so the blade pointed straight up. Niska's eyes travelled up the blade then flicked down to stare at the samurai, recognising in that moment that he was facing his executioner. Opening his mouth to make one last plea the sword descended before any sound could leave Niska's mouth, the blade flashing and slicing down through the top of the crime lord's head and cleaving him in two. As the two halves of the body fell apart in a wash of blood and entrails Mal was fascinated to see Niska's glasses fall in seeming slow motion, the little metal round rim spectacles cut in two.

"Well," said the Captain in a voice subdued with shock "that's somethin' you don't see every day."

Hanimoto cleaned off his swords on a blanket folded in one corner then resheathed them. As the samurai walked over to Mal, the Captain had to resist the urge to slide off the table and put some distance between them. Hanimoto stopped short, something suspiciously like the ghost of a smile on his face. It vanished so fast that the Captain wasn't even sure he had seen it.

"What I do to earn a *yojimbo*?"

A rare laugh spilled out of Hanimoto's mouth before he could stop himself. He was not aware the Captain knew the term but it pleased him. This time there was no missing the twinkle of mirth in his eyes. "*Tomodachi*, I am but a poor *ashigaru* - a foot soldier - in a war that never ends." He gave a little bow. "Now we are even, Malcolm-san."

"You want even? Help me outta this gorram place an' you can have anythin' you gorram want."

* * * * *

No one spoke. Simon finished the test and swallowed against the bile in his throat. "It's the Captain's."

Zoe nodded, not surprised. There would be no sense in Niska sending the gunbelt back with anyone else's blood on it.

"I think I'll get me two eyes!" Jayne growled darkly, more mad than he had been in a long while.

"Why send it?" Asked Book thoughtfully.

The first mate frowned at him. "You not been listenin' Preacher? This is Niska, he doesn't need a reason for the things he does."

"I disagree. Everything Niska does he does for a reason."

She was just about fed up with all the Shan Yu crap. Had heard it all last time the Captain had been nabbed and wasn't wanting to hear that *fei hua* again. "Niska is a an evil twisted *liumang* an' nothin' you say can change that."

"I'm not disagreeing with what he is Zoe but Niska has his reasons, warped and sick as they are. River was right, this *is* a message."

"Huh, looks more like Niska wants to rub our noses in it." Said Jayne.

"No, he wants something far more interesting."

Everyone stared at the Shepherd. Simon couldn't think what Niska could possibly want now that he had killed the Captain. "*Wo bu dong*."

"Better explain fast Book 'cause I'm runnin' out of patience." Zoe warned.

"This 'message' is intended to ensure we don't go after him."

The crew looked stunned but River smiled and nodded at Book. Zoe was not convinced. "In case you've forgotten we don't leave our people behind."

"Except this time that is exactly what Niska wants you to do."

Wash had been listening in silence up until now. "*Weishenme*? He has to know we aren't gonna leave it there. He killed the Captain!"

Book's eyebrows rose. "Did he?" At Zoe's enraged look he hurried on to explain, his voice staying low and calm, not wanting anyone to go off and do something stupid. "Or is that what he wants us to think?"

"But," Kaylee wiped the tears from her eyes, not sure she was hearing the Preacher right, "we saw him die, an' the blood..."

As Simon squeezed her shoulder Kaylee grasped his hand, grateful to have him there.

"He wanted retribution." Book looked at Wash. "Last time Niska caught you and the Captain you said something about how the Captain died?"

The pilot nodded, not liking to think back to that time but also intrigued. "Yeah. It was after you came an' got me. Mal told me about it after Simon patched him up an' I was givin' him blood. He said Niska had shocked him until his heart stopped then shocked it into startin' again. Somethin' about not bein' able to hurt him any more when he was dead."

Zoe nodded, her look even grimmer than before. "He's alive!"

"So all's we gotta do is find out where he's keepin' him?" Said Jayne.

Wash had an idea. "There're some maps, charts an' such on the bridge. I'll go trawl through them, maybe get an idea of where he would hole up."

"I'll come with you, *zhangfu*." Zoe paused at the doorway. "The rest of you get somethin' to eat an' drink. Rest up if you can. Few hours from now we'll be headin' out to end this thing."

As they reached the bridge Wash broke into a run, the static telling him someone was trying to call in. Wash flicked a switch, Zoe putting a hand on his shoulder to steady both of them. "This is Serenity, who's callin'?"

"Wash, that you?"

Zoe caught her breath and Wash almost dropped the com. Even though the voice was weak they would have recognised it anywhere. "Mal? Thought you was dead?"

"Seems to be gettin' a bad habit gettin' killed an' all."

"Sir, it's good to hear your voice. What happened?"

There was a little pause before he could answer. "Had a little help now I could use some more."

"Anythin', sir."

While Zoe got directions from the Captain, Wash sent a ship wide broadcast to tell the others, the bridge quickly cramming as everyone came running.

"You really ain't dead, Cap?"

They could hear the smile in the Captain's voice. "No, Kaylee, I ain't dead but ain't so good neither."

That was enough for Simon to badger the others into not asking so many questions and getting to Mal's location *mashang*. In a daze Inara heard the exhanges in silence, her eyes suspiciously bright and her heartbeat so uneven it made her feel short of breath. A cool hand touched hers and as she looked down River smiled up at her. "Mal, bad, like the penny."

Inara frowned. River's smile turned into a grin filled with sunshine.

"The bad penny always turns up."

Then Inara was hugging her, using the moment to shed a few tears without anyone seeing but River knew. Understood. And hugged right back.

* * * * *

It was less than two weeks later. The Captain was well on the mend, Monty had his new teeth and had rejoined his ship and crew, everyone all manner of happy that Niska hadn't killed him. Akira Hanimoto could feel a curious set of eyes boring into the back of his neck as he walked towards the commons room. No one asked him why he was still there but he knew they were curious. Wondering what in the nine hells he was waiting for. Hanimoto turned and waited for Jayne to speak.

"How d'ya do all that martial arts stuff?"

"Practice. When you are clear of mind you can be clear of purpose."

"I seen ya with the Preacher."

"*Hai*, he knows the discipline."

Jayne frowned. "Discipline?"

"Discipline, art. He must have trained under a master."

"That good, huh?"

"That knowledgable." Hanimoto corrected.

"Not that I'm pryin' nor nothin' but..."

Hanimoto cut in before Jayne could finish. "You wonder why I am still here?"

The big man nodded and waited. Hanimoto did not seem offended but took his time answering as if they had the rest of their lives for just this one question. How could such an answer be rushed?

"I will be going soon."

"Seems like you're waitin' for somethin'."

"You notice many things." "I ain't stupid."

When Hanimoto said nothing Jayne tried to prompt him.

"So what ya waitin' for?"

They were in the commons room now and slowly the rest of the crew were gravitating to it as well. Shepherd Book passed by them with a nod and smile and went to put some water on. Even though it wasn't a meal time everyone took a seat at the table, Inara helping the Shepherd with the drinks just as Simon followed the slowly moving Captain into the room. Smiles bounced around the room, the atmosphere light hearted and filled with happy. This was the first day that the Captain had been up and about under his own steam. The look on his face told them he was mighty relieved to be back on his feet. Jayne nodded to himself, realising this was what Hanimoto had been waiting for even though the why eluded him.

When the Captain got settled Simon fussed a moment or two then moved to take his seat beside Kaylee. Inara sat next to the Captain with Jayne sitting at the other end of the table next to Book. Hanimoto sat opposite Inara and watched Zoe and Wash sit to Inara's right while Kaylee was sitting to Hanimoto's left and Simon next to her. River watched until everyone had taken their seats before sitting on the other side of Simon. For a moment the talk was general, then Mal caught Hanimoto's eye. "Hear tell today's the day?"

Hanimoto inclined his head. "*Hai, Malcolm-san*."

"You gonna tell me where this place is we're goin'?"

Hanimoto told them about his home. Where it was and the co-ordinates Wash would need to get there. Wash nodded. "That's less than a day's burn." He looked at the samurai in surprise. "I thought it would be a lot further."

"You have your name for things, we have ours."

The Captain smiled, his smile widening when he felt Inara's hand resting on his. The squeeze of her fingers made his heart feel light. It was good being the Captain.

"Yeah, but Greenleaf?"

Hanimoto smiled at Wash. "Everybody must live somewhere, *hai*?" The man then turned to the Captain and his smile vanished, a sun hidden by clouds. "It is time to bury my son."

"Yeah, about that..."

"There is a reason I have waited, *tomodachi*."

Everyone held their breaths.

"An' that would be?"

"My Teshi was an honourable and courageous man and a good son. He would not follow anyone he did not respect."

Mal stared into his mug, memories coming back to him like it all happened yesterday. "That he was, there's no denyin' it an' he's sorely missed."

"*Hai*. I told you that only a handful of letters came while he was fighting. Not so when he died."

The Captain looked up and gave him a sharp look.

"All his letters came to me then, *taisa*, and as I learnt about my son's courage in battle I also learnt about the man who led him. You saved his life many times."

"Couldn't do nothin' about the last time. Wish to *diyu* I could'a brought him back Hanimoto."


The Captain nodded. "Akira." He paused then stood carefully. "Best I fetch those ashes."

"Sir." The Captain glanced at his first mate to find her rising from her seat as well. "Be an honour if you let me go, sir."

Mal nodded and Inara helped him sit back down. The only part of his body Niska hadn't hurt was his manhood. Even weeks down the line some of the sores were still weeping but the criss cross of stitches were holding. The rest was up to time to heal. Zoe came back carrying a small wooden box. It was black and shiny, the wood ebony. Zoe handed it to Mal who solemnly handed it to Hanimoto. The samurai didn't speak but the rare emotion on his face was enough. Rising from his seat Hanimoto raised the wooden box over his head and spoke in Japanese, no one but River able to follow what he was saying. Then as he lowered the box he kissed the lid and blessed the contents.

The rest of the day was spent quietly with the crew going about their business a mite subdued. When they got to Greenleaf Hanimoto invited them to the funeral but only the Captain and Zoe accepted. When they returned to the ship they were alone, Hanimoto remaining with his family. As Serenity rose high enough to break atmo Kaylee gave the Captain a thoughtful look. "He really take out three of Niska's men with just a sword?"

Mal smiled. "It was two swords actually, one really long one and the other kind'a like a long knife."

Wash stared, eyes wide as he tried to imagine it. Zoe had no trouble at all. Wash shook his head. "Wow, that's..."

"Great timin'."

Wash blinked at the Captain's interruption. Took in what he said and smiled. "Yeah, it is."

Kaylee excused herself and went to find Simon. It would be three days before they made their next stop and she had a hundred and one things she wanted to say and do if her doctor was willing. The Captain left Wash to set course, Zoe slipping passed him to sit on her husband's lap. Hiding a smile the Captain took a slow walk around his ship, happy to see his crew all in one piece and smiling back. They were in a good mood and so was he but one face was missing. Inara. Pausing on the catwalk to rest a moment he quirked up a brow as River ducked under his arm. Mal let go of the railing so she could worm imbetween the railing and her Captain. "What you wantin', little one?"

"Been patient, can't wait any more."

His eyebrows rose, amused. "That a fact?"

She shook her head. "Not me, Inara."

At his look she laughed lightly, a sound that reminded him of little silver bells. Now where in the wide world had that memory come from? River poked him to get his attention and gave a mock scowl. "She won't wait forever."

He didn't need further urging. Dropping a kiss on the top of her head the Captain continued on to Inara's shuttle. The door open but curtain across. He thought about knocking then just moved the curtain back with his hand. Inara was kneeling in front of her altar, her dress off her shoulders and pooled on the floor, a bowl before her. Mal swallowed, about to back out and let her finish in peace but she must have heard him.

"If you're coming in close the door. It's chilly."

It was on the tip of his tongue to say she was the one who had left it open but now was not the time. Fascinated he watched her hand bring the natural sponge up to her glowing skin, the water adoring her body even as it clensed it. After a moment or two Inara turned her head. "Mal, the door. *Qing*?"

"Oh, yeah, was gettin' to that." He shut the door and closed the curtain too for good measure.

"Why are you standing all over there?"

Mal could hear the smile in her voice, knew she was teasing him, even as his ears burned bright at being caught staring. When he didn't answer Inara put the sponge down and rose to her feet. Before he could turn around and give her some privacy Inara stood before him. "You've been avoiding me."

Somehow he couldn't seem to drag his eyes off her body. Her very beautiful and naked body. His mouth went dry. "I uh, I've what?"

"Mal, look at me."

Obediently he raised his eyes to meet hers. Saw the laughter sparkling back at him as he flushed. Inara would never have thought the Captain the blushing kind when she first met him but he was a strange mix of hardened veteran and shy youth. Man was uncomfortable about a whole range of things especially anything to do with sex and women. Put the two together and it was the nearest a body would get to having the Captain tongue-tied. Inara smiled, enjoying his discomfort but not planning on cutting him any slack. "How is it my body embarrasses you when you quite happily stood naked in front of the whole crew when that *pofu* Saffron left you?"

"That was different. I ain't never been awkard with my body."

"And mine?" Inara teased softly as she closed the gap between them.

He couldn't speak, his eyes big and wide and trying to find something safe to look at but he was only human and his eyes kept gravitating back to her. It took a second to realise that Inara was gently sliding his braces off his shoulders. "Hey now, what you doin'?"

"If I need to explain then it really has been too long, Captain."

His response was muffled by soft lush lips covering his own. *Wode ma*, he was going to that Special Hell. By the time he could breathe again he didn't care. Hungry lips responded. Carefully Inara continued to undress him, all the while guiding him over to the bed. By the time his back hit the silk sheets he was naked and Inara was doing things to him that was the sweetest kind of torture known to man. It vaguely occurred to him to lament that they only had three days before the next planetfall. However would they fill the time?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *tamade yaoguai* = fucking monster *mei mei* = little sister *baichi* = idiot *dang ran* = of course *goushi* = crap/dog shit *bao bei* = precious/treasure *liumang* = bastard/asshole/criminal/gangster *laoban* = boss *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *weishenme* = why *fei hua* = garbage/nonsense talk *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *zhangfu* = husband *mashang* = at once/quickly/on the double/immediately *qing* = please *pofu* = bitch *wode ma* mother of God


*katana* = the samurai long sword, part of the daisho *wakizashi* = short sword *shiburi* = flicking technique used to clean blood from a sword *hai* = yes *nezumi* = ratlings, a race of human-size rats *konbanwa* = good evening *taisa* = captain *jikokuni ochimuratachi* = the lost, warriors fallen into hell *yojimbo* = bodyguard *tomodachi* = friend *ashigaru* = foot soldier *-san* = suffix: honoured/sir


Monday, March 19, 2007 11:03 AM


Holy...cao! I'm honestly trying to decide whether to grunt "Squee!" "GUH! or "Whoa!" to hint at just how I feel about this conclusion, Ali....maybe a "Squhaoa!" perhaps?


Utterly brilliant writing and I am utterly in awe of your ending! Definitely can't wait for whatever you come up with next!



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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.