HELLBOUND Series: 7. "Settling In"
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"The Captain gets processed. Life inside the prison becomes more about survival than living."



SUMMARY: "The Captain gets processed. Life inside the prison becomes more about survival than living." 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

* * * * *

The processing was bad but not nearly so terrifiying as he had expected. However, the lack of medical attention surprised him. As evil as the Alliance regime most certainly was Mal had never expected the complete ignoring of all human rights. It was as if this place was so deep in the pits of all nine hells that they could literally do whatever the good gorram they wanted. Torture, neglect, biological and genetic experimentation if the mood took them. The only limit was the one imposed by their twisted imaginations. Not that he intended on giving them any pointers. These people could do anything at all, no holds barred, and not no one would know because none of the subjects would leave this gorram *jianyu* alive. As the truth hit him he mentally recoiled, fighting the wall of depression from taking hold. His mind still working, racing through impossible permutations, trying to figure out just what was making his gut twist, his instinct telling him that more was going on than appeared on the surface.

Then it hit him, the incongruity so obvious he felt like a fool. They had no reason to keep him alive but more than he could count to end him. That being the case, what in the nine hells was he doing still breathing?

* * * * *

"Keepin' him alive might be a mistake, *shifu*."

"No." Came the disembodied voice, sounding a mite too nasal for normalacy. Maltby did not query it. His was but to do or die, or. If you were on the other side of the Alliance coin, do *and* die. "The mistake would be letting him go."

Maltby cut the connection. The *laoban* had sounded a bit strange but the cold dispassionate anger seeping through the transmission was real enough. He had the go ahead, the rest would make a mighty interesting change from propaganda vids and whore films.

* * * * *

After being released back into the compound Mal found Casey and lowered himself gingerly to the ground. They sat a foot or so from the nearest prisoners, the exercise yard - what the other prisoners referred to as 'the paddock' - closed off to them as night began to close in. They were roused and led from the compound into a small enclosed yard where the guards proceded to wash them down, not gently neither but with high pressure hoses. Mal had learnt mighty quick to sit on the concrete floor and just let it happen. There would be no towels, no change of clothing, no medical attention, just cold water used to take the worst of the stink off them. Then they would be left to drip dry, ragged agonised little pockets of humanity. Mal knew the why of it. The dehumanisation, the making them feel worthless and so far from even the smallest glimmer of hope that many gave up. Simply sat themselves down and died. But that wasn't him, not ever. Besides, Casey was pregnant. Had shown him a kindness or two and he wasn't a man who could turn his back on them as needed him. Mayhap he could help her in some limited way. Or maybe, just maybe, he could find a way to also help himself.



"Why so quiet? Did they hurt ya?"

He wanted to laugh. No, really. "They can on'y hurt me if I let 'em, Casey. Should know that by now."

Casey frowned slightly. Whether at his words, tone or demeanour he had no idea. The Captain was weary, soaking wet and in pain. Again. Not that he wanted Casey to know but one of the things about living cheek to jowl was that nothing stayed personal. There was a loud clang, no one looked up. Forty odd souls were in that clensing yard and on his little trip to the interrogation room - oops, processing room - Mal had seen five or six similar yards. He had no idea how many levels the *jianyu* had but figured the yards and such were on the ground level, the prisoners being taken below ground at night for their incarceration. Made sense. Better security. Also a million times more depressing. Man needed daylight on his face like flowers needed the gorram sun.

"Then what is it?"

There was no opportunity to answer. The guards got a bit more energetic making everyone get to their feet and herding them into the cages to take them down to their communal cells. Only Mal and Casey didn't get off with the others when the lift stopped. As the lift cage emptied, two guards remained behind, shocks sticks at the ready in case their charges decided to get creative. The Captain felt his gut fill with unease, tried to angle his aching hurting body to give what protection he could to the pregnant woman. "*Shenme shi*?"

Naturally the guards didn't answer him. The only words he had heard from any of them had been orders. Short, sharp and telling him nothing but when to move, where to go and such like. The shove made his anger flare but Casey's hand on his arm stopped him from laying into the nearest guard. Not that he would have won but it would have felt mighty good to lash out. "Move!"

He moved. Casey put an arm around him to help and much as Mal wanted to shake it off he knew he couldn't walk more than a few steps without help. It galled him but still. At least he *could* walk or rather, hobble. He wasn't too sure how long the Alliance would allow him that little luxury. The corridor was dark and dingy, the lighting not so much subdued but looking as if it was about to give out. Abruptly the guards stopped at a cell door and one of them reached to push Casey through the open door. Angrily the Captain spun round to protest, "*Wei*, no need for hands on!"

The shock stick connected with his already cracked and bruised rib cage, electricity shooting through his body and unbelievable pain throwing him several feet back, his body jerking with aftershocks as he lay moaning in pain and fighting for breath. Casey knelt beside him, her anxious face hovering over him. He barely heard the heavy cell door clang shut, the guards parting words lost to his senses. The gentle hand on his bruised face the last thing he was aware of before darkness claimed him.

* * * * *

He woke to find her hands on him. Gentle, almost soothing if it weren't for the gorram pain. He gasped as one hand swept across his rib cage.

"*Duibuqi*, Mal, I didn't mean to hurt you. I need to take your shirt off."

The Captain tried to fend her off, his breath more than a mite painful and too much movement making what little breath he had catch. Oh yeah, definitely a broken rib or two now. "No need, just let me get my breath, darlin'."

"*Gei wo kankan*, Mal. Let me see, I may be able to do somethin'."

He blinked at her. "You got medical supplies I ain't heard about?"


"Then all you can do is look an' right now I ain't up for a maulin', *dong ma*?"

Her smile was kind of off center but who was he to speak? "I wasn't goin' to do anythin' medical, Mal."


The buttons to his shirt were already undone, a few even torn off. Her hands were a gentle caress, her actions confusing him then something clicked in his back brain and he put a hand over hers. She looked deep into his eyes, gently moving his hand aside and picking up where she had left off before his interruption. "I thought a little distraction might be in order."

He swallowed thickly. "Casey, this ain't the time or place. I ain't exactly up to much."

She leaned forward and kissed his chest, the dampness and exposure to the cold air of the cell raising goose bumps on his skin. "Let me be the judge of that."


Her lips stilled any further protest then she paused as she leaned back to look at him. With a sigh she could see he was flagging fast. Catching one of his hands in her own she laid both on his chest and laid on the floor beside him. "We'll sleep, just sleep. Take what comfort we can in sharin' our body heat. How does that sound?"

Mal felt relief flood through him. Touched that she wasn't going to just do what she wanted without his say so. Made him feel a rush of gratitude for her even as sleep pulled at him. "Sounds perfect, *bao bei*."

She smiled at his mumbled words and dropped a gentle kiss on his cheek. "No," she murmured softly as she snuggled as close as she dared without hurting him "when we make love Malcolm Reynolds, I want you conscious an' breathin'."

The Captain didn't hear her and once she was certain he was asleep the smile on her face vanished. The poor dim lighting finally succumbed to darkness. The only sound Mal's fractured breathing. It was a long time before Casey Bernhart was able to follow him into sleep.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*jianyu* = prison *shifu* = sir *laoban* = boss *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *wei* = hey! *duibuqi* = sorry *gei wo kankan* = show it to me *bao bei* = precious/treasure *dong ma* = understand?


Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:14 AM


I really liked this chapter.....angsty, I never turn down angsty. But it was rescued from utterly depressing grimness by Casey - I'm very glad that for the time being at least Mal has a sweet person to show him some comfort and kindness. But considering who put them together and why, I'm worried for them both.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 11:27 AM


Oooh...this ain't instilling me full of warm and fuzzy feelings, I must say. More like creepy and ulcer-inducing:( jetflair said, loving the angst you're building up here. Definitely makes the mind take a turn at trying to figure out why Mal is being kept alive instead of being torture or experimented on.


Thursday, March 29, 2007 10:50 AM


So like Mal to defend the woman trying to do him in, even if she is being used by the Alliance.


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