HELLBOUND Series: 9. "Argent"
Friday, March 30, 2007

"Serenity arrives at Argent and Book puts his paln into action. Mal and Casey try to figure out what their gaolers are up to."



SUMMARY: "Serenity arrives at Argent and Book puts his plan into action. Mal and Casey try to figure out what their gaolers are up to." 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 Argent Penal Colony pretty much was the only thing on that God-forsaken planet. A dustbowl of a world just far enough out from the Core worlds to let the idle rich stay comfortably and blissfully unaware yet close enough to Alliance military routes for convenience. Shepherd Book felt a cold shudder ice its' way along his bones, memories deeply buried stirring unbidden and unwanted. The past had a way of raising its' ugly head at the most inopportune times but he was commited now. This ship, this crew, had somehow wormed their way under his skin. Made himself more of a home among them than the one where he had been born and raised. Made him think that the good Lord had a twisted sense of humour or perhaps that was just because he was beginning to see things from a certain Captain's perspective. A possibility that was worry enough without the extra baggage that went with it.

Wash was dying to ask Book about Argent but before he could pin the man down the Shepherd turned and walked briskly off the bridge. The pilot gave Zoe a look. They were the only two left on the bridge. "Was it somethin' I didn't say?"

Zoe patted his shoulder, a thoughtful look on her face. After a minute she followed the Preacher, finding him talking to Simon and River in the infirmary. Simon was holding up a vial with a pale gold liquid in it.

"How long will it take to disperse?"

Before Simon could answer River spoke. "Two hours under pressure, six without. Add another two for the activated state to do its' work."

The Shepherd nodded slowly as if what River said made complete sense to him. "How long after it activates will it take to go dormant again and how much time will we have before they wake up?"

This time Simon spoke. "Depending on how efficient their air circulation system is we're probably looking at no more than five or six hours." "Then we'll assume five at the most. No point in taking chances we don't have to."

Zoe pursed her lips, watching Book handle the vial as if he did this every day. "Sure you know what to do?"

"I think I have it covered." She frowned. "Don't want you to think you have Shepherd, lives are dependin' on this goin' smooth. Need you to be certain."

"*Wo zhidao* and I am."

Simon watched the Shepherd put the vial carefully in his pocket. "Not to sound a dischordant note but won't the guards search you?"

For the first time since the plan had been mooted Book smiled. "*Fang xin*, they won't find the vial I assure you."

"No offence Shepherd," said Zoe drily "but I think they'll check your pockets."

He laughed lightly but the humour quickly vanished again. Serious now he gave a nod in River's direction. "We have that covered."

Alarmed, Simon glanced from Book to his sister. "What does this have to do with River?" Shepherd Book picked his bible up off the infirmary counter and opened it in the middle so that Simon and Zoe could see it clearly. The inside had been cut out of the middle part of the book, just wide and long enough to cradle the vial. Zoe stared for a moment before looking at the Preacher. "What if they scan you?"

"It is undetectable. There are no metal components and it is not mineral glass, nothing to trigger a sensor."

"What about the liquid inside?"

"It reverts to a gas on exposure to the atmosphere."

"Not a gas in the bottle, Shepherd." He smiled. It was something he appreciated about the first mate. She wasn't stupid. "No, but the glass and the book form enough of a natural barrier to render it invisible to detection."

"Hope you're right." She murmured.

Book just nodded. It wouldn't do to voice his own fears and misgivings. This would work because it had to. A little sleight of hand could accomplish a great deal.

* * * * *

They didn't doze for long. Not only had they already slept through most of the night but the dim and dingy lighting was not enough to convince them another day had passed. Weary and injured though he was, the Captain couldn't shut off the thoughts inside his gorram head. With a sigh he opened his eyes and glanced at Casey. The woman was not asleep as he had supposed but was lying with her head on his uninjured shoulder, staring quietly at him. Oddly enough she seemed calm, relaxed even.

"*Ni hao ma*?"

"*Hen hao*, Mal. You?"

"Been better. Been worse too." He paused, wondering how best to word what he wanted to know. "How come you got put in this ruttin' *jianyu*?"

"Wouldn't bow an' scrape to the all mighty Alliance."

Mal raised an eyebrow. "What does that mean?"

Her tone became bitter, words hard edged and full of barely suppressed anger. "They wanted me as a soldier's comfort but I ain't no man's whore."

"Then you on'y been here a few months?"

Casey's eyes flashed. A brief harsh fire that warned he was stepping over a line. "Six months is more'n a few, Mal, especially when the first couple I was more on my back than upright - an' not by choice neither." A harsh laugh scraped out of her throat making the Captain wince in sympathy. "I may look good now but you should'a seen the bruises. Lost three teeth an' cracked a rib or two. They had to sew up a couple of the tears just to stop the bleedin' but they were careful."

His eyes drilled into hers, his heart hammering with a slow building fury as he waited for her to finish. She gave a slow nod before continuing.

"Once they knew I was pregnant there was always an officer present. Made sure none of the men rutted too hard or too long, didn't want the Alliance *hundan* inside me to be at risk."

The Captain frowned. "That don't make sense."

"You callin' me a liar, Mal?"

"*Bu qu*, just can't figure why they'd want to make sure the child lived. Ain't exactly a nursery you're livin' in."

"Possession is nine tenths of the law."

Mal blinked. "*Shenme*?"

"It's about possession, property. Who owns what. They reckon they own me, can do what they gorram like with me, an' a child - sired by one of their filthy *wangba dans* - would be property too. Someone they could raise in the ways of the Alliance."

"Don't take this wrong Casey but they don't seem the nuturin' type."

She seemed to sag, deflate. The fire in her eyes dying out. "*Diyu* if I know what they're up to, just tossin' ideas about. Nothin' makes sense but then it don't have to. Long as they get their fun out of someone else's misery."

Malcolm Reynolds stared at her and realised he had no answer to that.

* * * * *

"This ain't workin'."

Maltby's mouth twisted as he chewed on a plug of tobacco. "Give 'em time."

"The *laoban* sent a wave."

Maltby's head jerked up, eyes narrowing dangerously. "Why didn't ya say?"

"Just did." Jordon look perplexed. "What the *guai* is his interest anyway?"

This time the sour look on Maltby's face gave way to laughter, his eyes shining with pleasure as if relishing an inside joke. "Don't ya know?"

Eli Jordon shook his head.

"Huh, seems while the General was on furlough he was in a bar with some of the boys. Celebratin' our great day of victory. When in waltzes that *shenjingbing tamade hundan*. Starts a gorram fight!" Maltby broke off before the laughter bubbling up choked him. It took a second for him to get himself under enough control to continue. "General Tobias Brak ain't a man to mock, Eli, an' that stupid sumbitch head butted the *laoban* just as he was tryin' to break the fight up. Broke his gorram nose!"

His colleague stared at Maltby in disbelief. Guffawing with amusement, Maltby let himself out of the observation room to give his governor the latest update. Shaking his head Jordon turned back to the one way mirror and watched the Captain sitting in the near dark, the pregnant woman tucked into his side. They were speaking too low for him to hear but by their manner it seemed the man was comforting the woman. Oddly enough, Jordon felt the stirring of a goodly respect. Not that he would ever admit as much. It was one thing to look in on the misery of the damned and feel compassion, quite another to be on the other side sharing that version of hell.

* * * * *

Inara Serra listened as Shepherd Book explained the plan one last time. This time they were all there. Kaylee looked impressed, Simon solemn, River eager, Zoe subdued, Wash concerned. Jayne had a look on his face that said he thought they were all nuts.

"What makes you think they'll let you in?"

The Shepherd straightened. "Men like a man of God, they find it reassuring and a place such as this is even more likely to appreciate my services."

Kaylee frowned. "You mean sermons an' such?"

Zoe shook her head, catching on quickly to what was left unsaid. "No, Shepherd's talkin' about Last Rites."

The mechanic's mouth dropped open, panic making it hard for her to speak. "They ain't gonna kill the Cap'n?"

Simon reached for her hand. Kaylee hung on as if it was a lifeline.

"Place like this," said Jayne darkly "they all end up dead. You'll be the same if you go in there, Preacher."

"Not if I go in alone."

"About that," said Zoe "think that's a bad idea."

"It's the only way this plan will work. If I'm alone they'll let their guard down. Not see me as a threat. Now, time I was going. Wash, you ready to send that wave?"

Inara wanted to say something but there were no words. While she worried about Book's safety part of her wanted to hurry him along, to get to Mal before it was too late for any kind of plan to help him. She just hoped this plan would work because if it didn't she didn't think her heart would be able to take the loss.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wo zhidao* = I know *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *diyu* = hell *guai* = devil/ghost *ni hao ma* = how are you? *hen hao* = very good *jianyu* = prison *hundan* = bastard *laoban* = boss *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *tamade hundan*/*wangba dan* = fucking bastard *shenme* = what? *shenjingbing* = crazy


Friday, March 30, 2007 4:12 PM


I can't wait for the next chapter and to find out what the little doxie is really up to.

Sunday, April 1, 2007 12:42 PM


Hmm...gotta wonder if Casey just slipped up with her tale, cuz I agree with Mal: why would the Alliance asshats running Argent Penal Colony give a crap about Casey's child unless there was something interesting going down.

Still...great work here, AMDOBELL! Really liking the Mal/Casey moments, even if they turn out to be false. Dunno why I would, if that's the case though;)



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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.