THE HELLBOUND SERIES: 14. "Hopes And Wishes"
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"The rescue appears to go without a hitch but Serenity's crew is never that lucky."



SUMMARY: "The rescue appears to go without a hitch but Serenity's crew is never that lucky." 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

* * * * *

Wash could not believe his eyes or their luck. "*Wode ma*, this is *yichang zainan*!"

The Companion stared, blinking slowly. "*Zhe shi xingshi geng fuza le*."

Wash shot her a look of disbelief and exasperation. "You think so?" When Inara just stared at him, Wash changed tack. They had to push themselves beyond the mind numbing shock and think of a way out of this pile of *goushi* quickly or none of them would make it out of this area of space alive.

"We have to warn the others, Wash."

The pilot looked as if he had swallowed a mouthful of poison. Hating what he had to do even as he shook his head. "Can't. Radio silence."

Inara stared at him in horror and disbelief. "But we have to..."

He cut off what she was going to say, a mite calmer now that he knew just how screwed they were. This was not about pulling off the rescue of the century any more but damage limitation. Survival. "We have to shut down, Inara. Run silent. No lights, no turnin' of the engine."

"Wash, if we can see them..." She couldn't finish the sentence.

"*Wo zhidao*, they can see us. With or without core containment you can bet the Reavers on that ship know we're here."

* * * * *

Only when Jayne and Book had carried the Captain to the shuttle did Simon put the rest of the plan into action. Book watched as the doctor selected the two vials from his case and handed them over. "Are you sure you don't want me to do this?"

The Shepherd shook his head. "*Bu qu*. You need to stay here and look after the Captain. As soon as Kaylee and River have finished wiping the footage I'll send them back to you."

At the door of the shuttle, Zoe waited anxiously. This was taking too long but neither Simon nor the Shepherd would be hurried. Book gave her a small smile. "We have plenty of time, Zoe. If we try to rush we might make a mistake, *dong ma*?"

The first mate nodded. Agreed with him even, but she was still feeling unsettled and increasingly ansty. Not speaking was the best way not to bite his head off.

"You need to pick a couple of people at random. I suggest a guard or two plus one of the prisoners. Inject just behind the knee." Simon indicated which of the vials to use then handed Book a prepped syringe. "Once you've done that inject a third of the contents of this syringe behind the other knee. The two bottles go in the air conditioning. Kept separately they remain in suspension, put the two together and the chemical reaction produces a gas. A much better dispersal system than trying to inject everybody plus we don't have the time. When they come round the culture will already be starting to affect them, the three you injected being more advanced."

Zoe frowned. "Why two injections?"

"The virus is a simple bacterial strain very similar to influenza but more virulent. People tend to think all cold viruses are the same but they aren't which is why it's so hard to create one antidote to fit them all. The second strain while less insidious causes a higher fever, flushing and if left untreated affects the nervous system. It won't kill you unless your immune system is already depressed and you are malnourished so make sure you pick three of the healthiest people to inject."

Jayne scowled. "Huh, don't know why all the fuss. Just dump it on all of 'em an' let's be gone."

"Jayne," said Simon slowly in his talking-to-dummies voice "if the Alliance are to believe this is a genuine outbreak then they will expect some people to be worse hit than others."

Before Jayne could ask another question Book gave Simon a nod and hurried back towards the prison. Zoe cast a look back at the doctor. "This had better work."

Then Zoe and Jayne followed the Shepherd like a pair shadows. Simon watched until they disappeared back inside the building then closed the shuttle door and locked it. He took a steadying breath before turning back to his patient. Despite the less than sterile conditions he needed to stop the bleeding from the deeper wounds and make the Captain as comfortable as possible until they got him back to Serenity. His focus on his work, Simon's hands were steady, pushing back the part of his brain fretting for his sister's safety. He had to trust that Zoe, Book and Jayne would keep both her and Kaylee safe.

* * * * *

As the door to the prison complex closed behind them Jayne drew his gun and glanced at Book. "Why the good gorram did the doc tell ya to inject behind their ruttin' knees? That don't make sense."

None of them stopped moving. "Actually it's very smart, Jayne."

The big man pulled a face, confused. "It is?"

Book nodded, threading his way along corridors which looked identical. Zoe frowned but didn't say anything. The place was a maze to her. "The Alliance will be going through this place with a fine toothcomb. They won't think of looking for injection sites behind the knee. They'll check all the usual places - the arms, neck, even the chest and thigh." A thought occcurred to Zoe as Book took them down another unmarked turn. "How does Simon know about something like that?"

"I think there's a lot of things about our doctor we don't know, Zoe. He had to acquire a lot of expertise to get into that facility and break River out. I can't imagine MedAcad teaching him that, can you?"

Jayne was about to speak when Book paused and raised a hand. The three of them froze. After a moment the Preacher nodded. "It's okay."

Rounding a bend in the corridor they met Kaylee and River coming the other way.

"Is it done, Kaylee?"

"Sure." The mechanic smiled at Book but the smile did not reach her eyes. "Piece of cake."

Zoe looked at River, the girl's eyes were flicking back and forth. Not a good sign. "River? *Shenme shi*?"

Instead of answering River went back the way they had just come and took a quick left, her steps breaking into a run. "*Mashang*!"

Swearing colourfully, Zoe sent Book and Kaylee to go to the air conditioning control and took Jayne with her. The journey was short but fast, River not pausing or explaining. The girl was muttering something under her breath but neither Zoe nor the mercenary could make out what she was saying. Abruptly they came to a lift cage. Pulling the ironwork gate back, River darted inside and waited impatiently for the other two to get in then stabbed a button. With a jerk the carriage went down. Zoe and Jayne exchanged a look but held their tongues. Jayne tried not to think about the noxious bugs Book was releasing into the gorram air. The sooner they found the woman the sooner they would be out of this death trap.

* * * * *

Inara could not believe they were doing this. Her hands gripped the corner of the pilot's console so hard that her knuckles were white. Wash didn't look at her, his eyes fixed on the front window, watching the big looming Reaver ship with his heart in his mouth. What they would do if the Reavers decided to board them he did not know. Serenity did not have any escape pods and trying to get away in the other shuttle would be like offering the Reavers a ready meal. No. They would have to sit it out and hope the bluff worked. Wash prayed they had already eaten. A stuffed Reaver was a happy Reaver, right?

* * * * *

Simon cleaned the last of the open wounds. The Captain's back was a criss cross of angry weals and cuts, the worst of them had been packed to stop the bleeding until Simon could get him to the infirmary. Those not so deep were closed with weaves. The bruising on the man's face, chest and neck looked bad but would heal. At least two ribs were broken and a couple more looked to be cracked. Malcolm Reynolds was a mess but he was living and breathing and for that Simon was grateful. Any one you walked away from or had friends carry you away from was a win. Jayne's words rearranged inside his head gave an odd kind of comfort. Simon shook his head slightly and checked the Captain's vital signs again. He was just putting the blood pressure cuff away when the man stirred. His movement sluggish and pained.

"Captain? Mal? Try not to move, you're on the shuttle."

The Captain managed to partly open one eye but it was shutting again as if gravity was conspiring to keep him in the dark. His whole face reminded Simon of a badly discoloured puffa fish. Even his bruises had bruises. "*Shenme*? 'm I dreamin'?"

"No, Captain. You've had quite a beating but you're safe now."

Mal paused. His right eye opened even more slowly the second time, opening wider through sheer force of will. Simon winced, knowing it had to be painful but the Captain was nothing if not a stubbon *wangba dan*. "*Anquan*?"

"Yes, Captain, safe. Or, relatively so."

He tried to turn his head but pain radiated through him and bile rose quickly in the back of his throat. Simon just managed to turn him on his side in time. Never a fan of projectile vomitting the doctor mentally apologised to the Captain for causing him more pain but better that than have Mal choke on his own vomit. He could just imagine the fun little conversation he would be having with Zoe and an airlock if he let the man die after all their efforts to save him.

"You 'kay?"

The Captain was slurring badly and probably only hanging on to consciousness by a thread. It made Simon rush to reassure him, not wanting him to get distressed. "*Wode hao*, Captain. You were the only one injured."

Mal closed his eye. "Mmm, good."

The doctor frowned, had expected the Captain to quiz him about the others but a closer look showed that he had passed out which was probably a good thing. With a sigh, Simon found a blanket in one of the small lockers and draped it over the Captain then cleaned up the mess. Now all he had to do was wait for the others to return so they could get back to the ship.

* * * * *

"The code cycles through a complicated set of equations every time it's used." River paused as she came to a cell door. Glancing at Zoe she explained. "A random cycle for added security."

Jayne was getting impatient but also worried at her words. "Ya sayin' ya couldn't break the code?"

She cocked her head to one side. "Just did the math."

"Well do the math now an' get this gorram door open!"


He scowled at Zoe's word of caution. "Why she have to yammer so ruttin' much?"

Zoe raised her eyebrows as River put a key in the lock and opened it. Her smile was a blaze of brightness in a very dark place. "Guard won't miss it."

Laughing softly Zoe stepped in the room after her, Jayne staying by the door to keep watch even though everyone from the prison complex was unconscious. It was all manner of creepifying. The woman was half slumped in a corner, her face hidden from view by a long tumble of dirty blonde hair. River crouched in front of her but did not speak or reach out. Moving around River, Zoe knelt by the woman's side and brushed the hair out of her face. Hearing a sharp intake of breath, Zoe turned her head and caught a look of surprise on Jayne's face. She frowned at him. "You know this woman, Jayne?"

The mercenary shook his head and stepped right in the room. "No. She's *meili*." He breathed in a hushed voice.

Zoe's frown deepened. "She's also pregnant, Jayne. Give me a hand."

Without a murmur Jayne got on the other side of the woman and they lifted her carefully. Mindful of the precious burden the woman carried. River watched intently, her face solemn. "Uses her surname as a Christian name to keep people at arm's length."

"Huh," huffed Jayne as he took more of the woman's weight "can see how well that worked."

The sarcasm just prompted a little sad shake of the head from River. The girl rose to her feet smoothly. "They took her by force. Again and again and again..."


Zoe's bark and disapproving glare shut off the creepy comments. Not sorry but chastened, River picked up her pace and led them out. They met Book and Kaylee by the exit, a nod from the Preacher reassuring Zoe that they had done everything they had intended to do. When they got to the shuttle, Kaylee's eyes went wide at the sight of the Captain laying like a casualty of war on the cold metal floor. Book and Jayne carried the woman to one of the benches, Simon rising to his feet to see how she was. Kaylee looked from the woman to the Captain and back again. "They gonna be okay?"

"The Captain will be fine once we get him to the infirmary though he won't be able to play hoop ball for a while." Simon quipped, trying to lighten the mood.

Kaylee knelt beside the Captain and took his hand, not daring to touch him anywhere else in case she hurt him. Tears crowded the corner of her eyes like unwilling spectators. Zoe's kindly hand on her shoulder was fleeting. "Doc says he'll be alright. Be bossin' us about in no time."

The mechanic nodded but didn't speak. Instead she gripped the Captain's hand harder as if by doing so she could will him to get better sooner. Zoe looked around and noticed that River was just standing inside the shuttle door. The first mate's eyes narrowed slightly. "River, we need to be takin' off now, *dong ma*?"

"Not yet. Have to wait for the right moment. Movements of blood and shadow."

Kaylee's head jerked up. "Blood?"

Jayne looked cross. "What's she talkin' about now?"

But River wasn't taking any notice of Jayne. She wasn't taking notice of any of them. Looking straight up she ignored them all, her head moving slightly as if she was watching something move very slowly above their heads. Simon was about to get up but Shepherd Book shook his head and started to move towards River to see if she was alright. Zoe's voice stopped him in his tracks. Her voice quiet but no less authoritive. "No Shepherd, let her be."

Jayne Cobb looked confused but Zoe was remembering all the times the girl's odd behaviour had been warnings. Only when they failed to listen did things go wrong. Zoe hoped and prayed that nothing would go wrong this time.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wode ma* = mother of God *yichang zainan* = a disaster *shenme* = what *zhe shi xingshi geng fuza le* = this has further complicated the situation *goushi* = crap/dog shit *wo zhidao* = I know *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *dong ma* = understand? *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately/right away *anquan* = safe *wangba dan* = fucking bastard *wode hao* = I'm good *meili* = beautiful


Wednesday, April 18, 2007 10:21 PM


Ooh, all sorts of tension. And I love River's comments ... so very much in her voice.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 2:03 AM


Nice plot twist - didn't see it coming!


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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.

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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.

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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.

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Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

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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.