HELLBOUND Series: 6. "Waiting"
Monday, March 26, 2007

"Meanwhile on Serenity the crew is tense as they head for the Argent Penal Colony."



SUMMARY: "Meanwhile on Serenity the crew is tense as they head for the Argent Penal Colony." 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

* * * * *

It seemed such a long way out but at least they were moving. In flight. Yet Zoe couldn't sit still, nor stand still neither. Although Wash understood it was quietly driving him nuts. "*Bao bei*, you should try to rest. It's a couple of days to Argent."

That was another thing that bothered her. How come the Shepherd knew so much about the Alliance? The amount of detail he had given about the Argent Penal Colony had chilled her. She knew the others were curious too but not in the same gut wrenching way she was. Then there was the fact that along the way they would need to refuel. With no job to speak of it would be tight making the coin they had left stretch that far. Just one more worry to add to a bag full of sorrow. Didn't bear thinking about the weight.

"*Fengmi*? You even listenin' to me?"

Zoe mentally shook herself out of her fugue. It wasn't Wash's fault she was wired tight enough to snap. Had to relax. Take the long view. But the best part of a lifetime of memories made that a hard thing to do. It wasn't like they were leaving Mal behind just the opposite. But every passing hour made her more anxious that they just weren't moving quickly enough. Time was their enemy not their friend. She put a hand on Wash's shoulder, felt his tension ease a mite at the familiar and welcome touch. Truth be told it grounded her too. "*Qu, zhangfu*, always. Just can't relax 'til we find him."

Similar thoughts were running through Wash's head along with some less welcome addendums. "Jayne says they did quite a number on Mal." He said quietly.

She did not reply. Wasn't sure where her husband was going with this. Hoped he would change the subject. Naturally it didn't happen.

"An' from what Book was sayin' that colony is pretty much the worst one the Alliance have."

Zoe's eyes hardened. "What you sayin', *bao bei*?"

"Just that we don't how badly he was injured." Wash said gently. He knew it was something his wife did not want to think about but he wanted her prepared for whatever they found when they got to Argent. It was not likely to be pretty.

"Cap'n ain't weak, Wash. He'll hold."

The pilot said nothing to that. It wasn't that which was worrying him. After the fun bit of hospitality he and Mal had endured in Niska's hands he knew the Captain could withstand all manner of torture and pain. The man's courage and stamina were not in question but it was the not knowing how far those rutting *tamade hundan* would go that bothered him. After all, the Captain made no secret of his hatred for the Alliance and it was mutual. The thought of Mal incarcerated in the most secure and evil place in the 'verse while those goons did God knows what to him made the pilot all kinds of anxious. It also added to his worry remembering Book's last words on the subject. *People go into that place and never come out*. Yet here they were, heading straight for the Lion's Den. It was beyond folly but nothing short of what the Captain would do for any one of them. Wash swallowed slowly and hoped and prayed that they would be rescuing the Captain and not bringing back a corpse. Because if the latter happened he wasn't sure his beautitul but deadly wife would survive it.

* * * * *

Simon checked on Jayne despite the big man's protests. River watched in silence, big round eyes wide and staring at nothing. It creeped him out, almost as much as Simon's detached compassion made him squirm. Only Kaylee radiated a sincere warmth of concern though not enough to bask in. Truth be told they were all worried and each handled it in a different way. As soon as Simon was satisfied Jayne stomped out of the infirmary and made his way to the commons room. He needed a drink.

The Shepherd looked up as Jayne stepped into the room, Inara pouring the two of them mugs of tea. At the look on Jayne's face the Companion went to get another mug but the mercenary shook his head.

"No offence, I want somethin' stronger than that."

Book raised a brow, his tone mild. "Are you sure you should be drinkin' with the medication you're on?"

Jayne sneered, not mad at Book but having no real target to lash out at. "I'll drink if I gorram want to. Couple of pain pills won't make no difference." "Jayne, we need to keep a clear head." Inara cautioned.

"Did you get beaten up? Then shut your gorram trap!"

The Shepherd jumped to his feet, a stern look of outrage on his face. "Jayne!"

"*Shenme*? What ya defendin' a whore for anyway?"

Steel now underlined the Preacher's words. Too angry for shouting. "I think you've said quite enough."

"It's alright, Book." Inara intervened gracefully. "We're all worried about the Captain."

Book was about to disagree when he caught the look in Jayne's eyes as the man turned to stomp out of the room, bottle in hand. The look had been anguished, haunted. He remembered the Captain's motto *Leave no man behind*. Recalled when Wash had used those words as a rallying cry before going against Niska in his skyplex. Another seemingly impossible act born of determination and a refusal to accept what was and was not possible. It was what made them mighty. Inara caught Book's eye and gave a slight smile.

"He feels bad enough."

The Shepherd didn't say anything. Inara was right and that was the only thing about this whole business that was.

* * * * *

In the infirmary Simon was tidying up, putting things away. River still sat on the chair in the corner, so quiet he had almost forgotten she was there.

"Won't be what we expect."

Simon turned and stared at her. Blinked slowly. "River?"

She shook her head, not really seeing him. Unfolding herself from the chair she straightened. "It never is." Before her brother could ask what she meant River left. With a sigh, Simon looked at Kaylee. "I thought she was getting better."

Kaylee's kind heart reacted to the sad echo of defeat in his voice. Patting his hand she managed to rustle up a smile for him. "Some days are just better than others, Simon."

He watched her leave and let his eyes bounce off the gleaming white work surfaces of his infirmary. A place wiped clean of emotion as efficiently as it was kept disinfected. Usually this place calmed him, it was familiar and his area of expertise. Today it gave no such comfort, all he could think of was whether they had enough supplies then wished like crazy that they wouldn't need them. Kaylee loved this ship, they all did, but Simon wasn't that sentimental. It was just a metal shell powered by an engine that kept running more on prayer and hope than good design. Serenity. His eyes glanced around more slowly this time, echoes of too many frantic operations flashing through his mind. He always thought the name had a vaguely funereal sound.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = precious/treasure *fengmi* = honey *qu* = yes (lit. go) *zhangfu* = husband *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *shenme* = what


Monday, March 26, 2007 10:49 AM


Love Simon's introspection at the end. So wonderful. And while I understand Wash's need to try and prepare Zoe for the worst, he's got to know she won't be able to accept the Captain's death ... possibly ever.

Brilliant and sad!

Monday, March 26, 2007 7:44 PM


Sorry I haven't commented on the previous chapters yet.

I thought this was really good. I was especially touched by Wash's talk with Zoe. It seems like kind of a role reversal for Wash to be trying to prepare Zoe for the worst, but in this situation it was very fitting. It really made me feel for them both as well.

Seeing their love and concern for Mal makes me hurt for the captain even more.

One thing I've been wondering (and forgive me if there's a line I've missed along the way) is how come Mal was shipped off to this awful place without even a sham trial?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 10:40 AM


You're not the only one wondering about that, jetflair. I know I have wondered why Jayne ain't right there beside Mal...he's bound to have a laundry list just as long as Mal's full of naughty behaviour:(

And I gotta say your skill with the cursor and keyboard really shone through here, Ali. Between Wash trying to prepare Zoe for the possibility that Mal is already dead (or close to), and Jayne's verbal assault on Inara? Honestly thought I was reading an episode transcript;D


Tuesday, March 27, 2007 10:44 AM


There is a reason Mal got picked out for special consideration which will become obvious as the story continues to unfold but the sharp eyed might have picked up a clue. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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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.