THE HELLBOUND SERIES: 15. "Nightmares"
Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Inara and Wash helplessly watch a nightmare unfolding. Down on Argent the rest of the crew wait for River to lift off."



SUMMARY: "Inara and Wash helplessly watch a nightmare unfolding. Down on Argent the rest of the crew wait for River to lift off." 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

* * * * *

Inara and Wash stared out of the window and hardly dared to breathe. The Reaver ship was edging closer, taking its' time while a searchlight rotated until it could slowly sweep the length of the darkened Firefly.

"They're scannin' us." Wash whispered.

The Companion didn't speak. Was afraid to make a sound. Fear beat a tattoo in blood inside her head, the horror of what would happen to them if the Reavers boarded something she didn't want to countenance but was unable to block from her mind. Every story she had ever heard about them played out inside her head, splashes of crimson and inhuman cries so sharp in her imagination that they were almost real. A touch on her shoulder made her curse and jump. "*Wo de fozu*!"

"*Duibuqi*, Inara, I never meant to scare you."

Eyes wide, Inara looked at the pilot with no attempt to hide her fear. "What are we going to do, Wash?"

His lips were tightly compressed together, tension seeming to be the only thing holding him together. "We're doin' the only thing we can."

"What about the others?"

Wash swallowed with difficulty around the lump in his throat. "Pray they take their time."


"*Zhen de*, Inara. If the shuttle takes off now we slip from dinner to supper."

"That's not funny."

He nodded but didn't apologise. "No, it's not but right now as bad as it might get I'd rather that not happen than have the others get caught as well."

Inara was struck by a moment of truthsomeness. "I don't want to get caught at all."

* * * * *

Jayne was getting ansty. River Tam still refused to take off, her pale face held at an angle as she sat curled in the pilot's chair, her legs folded under her. The girl hadn't said a word for a good ten minutes and it was driving him *shenjingbing*. "We gotta get outta here!"

"Not gonna argue, Jayne." Said Zoe. "But we wait for River to give the all-clear."

"An' if she don't?"

"We wait until she does."

The mercenary wanted to swear, to open the shuttle door and throw the moonbrain out but part of him couldn't do that. Not after all the things they had been through together. Girl was crew same as that stuck up brother of hers but why did she have to be so annoying and creepifying? He didn't even want to contemplate what Mal would do to him if he tried to ditch either one of them.

Shepherd Book was helping Simon with the woman. Kaylee still sitting next to the Captain, her sad eyes drifting from one to the other and wondering what the good gorram had happened back there. The Captain looked like he had been in a meat grinder but the woman, so far as the mechanic could tell, only had a couple of bruises on her face and neck. Kaylee worried more about the baby which, by the size of the woman, looked about ready to come crying into the world at any minute. Simon hadn't said anything about the baby and the mechanic couldn't tell if the woman's waters had broken.

A long low moan brought Zoe over to the Captain. Her eyes fastened like lasers on the man's blood bloated face. Kaylee held her breath and gave the Captain's hand another squeeze, almost letting go when the hand squeezed back. A blaze of hope lit Kaylee's face. Zoe crouched down beside her. "You awake, sir?"

Another moan. Quieter than the first one but still. Something like a smile twisted her lips then flattened out. Zoe rumaged through their things until she found a canteen of water. It took longer to locate a clean piece of cloth. Tipping the canteen enough to wet the fabric, Zoe carefully wiped the blood from the Captain's face, the cloth sticking a bit when she came to his eyes. Gently now she dabbed more than wiped, wetting the cloth again to unseal the lids. When they opened a crack it was as if her entire life had been vindicated. It wasn't often that Kaylee saw a smile like that on Zoe's lips that wasn't aimed at her *zhangfu* but then all of them had been worrying about Mal. "You torturin' me, Zo?" He slurred softly.

"No sir, wouldn't dream of it."

He would have nodded but that took energy he didn't have. A long low exhalation of breath carried his satisfaction at her dry response. Simon left the woman as comfortable as he could make her and knelt beside the Captain. "Good to see you awake, Captain."

Mal grunted but didn't open his eyes again. Feeling was flooding back into his rag-doll body and it was all manner of painful. A whole medley of hurts competing with each other.

"Captain." The softness of Simon's voice made Mal want to respond. He told himself the boy wasn't worried, he was just being professional. "I need you to open your eyes for me."

It took effort but when the Captain set his mind to do something it knew better than to disobey. With a groan he forced the lids open a crack and wished he had two matchsticks to prop them open. They felt as heavy as lead and the light on his eyes made them water, the blood seeping in at the corners making them smart. Simon's voice was coaxing as he examined the Captain more closely.

"Try not to close them."

Mal wanted to obey that voice, really he did, but it was as if his body was in another time zone. He could feel himself slipping, only vaguely aware of Simon's hands checking him over. Calm, professional and with an expertise that accurately logged each and every physical injury. By the time Simon had checked his vital signs the Captain was unconscious again. Simon sat back on his heels for a moment.

"Is he gonna be okay?"

Simon looked at Zoe. "*Qu* but I won't be happy until I can check him properly in the infirmary."

Zoe nodded. "An' the woman?"

The doctor pursed his lips together. Kaylee felt her heart miss a beat. "She should recover completely."

It was Kaylee who pounced on what he didn't say. "What about the baby, Simon?"

He stared at the mechanic, not wanting to say more but knowing she would fret and pester until he gave her an answer. "I'll know more when I can examine her properly."

"Simon, ya ain't told us nothin' about the baby."

"Right now the baby is in the safest place - the mother's womb. I refuse to speculate on the condition of the child until I am able to do so with the right medical equipment." To his surprise and relief Kaylee didn't ask any more questions. Zoe gave him a thoughtful look then went to check on River. They really needed to get back to Serenity. Jayne looked at the still unconscious woman, a thoughtful expression on his face. He wondered who in the nine hells she was and why River had insisted they had to bring her with them. What was her connection to the Captain? And why did he get a disturbing ache behind his ribs every time he looked at her?

The thrum of the shuttle as it powered up surprised Jayne out of his speculation. Kaylee gently patted the Captain on the shoulder. Soon they would be back on Serenity and this nightmare would be over.

* * * * *

The Reaver ship stopped, it's searchlight bathing Serenity in its' harsh illumination. Wash held his breath, hands slippery on the console from perspiration. Inara's mouth had gone dry.

"We should wave the others. Warn them."

Wash turned his head in shock. "You want to ring the dinner gong?"

"Wash, in minutes this ship is going to be boarded then - if the stories about Reavers are true - we'll be raped to death, eaten and have our skins sewn into their clothing."

"If that's true why turn a two course meal into a banquet?"

The Companion blinked at him. "We have to do something!"

He shook his head, his voice calm. "No, Inara. Do you really want Kaylee an' River to face that? I know I would never forgive myself if anythin' happened to Zoe that I could have prevented." He paused, his voice going quieter, softer. "I know this is scary an' believe me I'm terrified but we have to stand firm. Not for us but for them."

A sudden clanging against the side of the ship sent spikes of fear and alarm through them. "Sweet Bhudda, we're going to die aren't we?"

Before Wash could answer a light blinked on his console. He stared at it for a moment before panic overcame him. "No, no, no *bao bei*. Run, RUN!"

Inara shook him. "Wash, snap out of it, what is it?"

He stared at her, eyes wide and on the verge of tears. "The shuttle, it's returnin'."

"Warn them, we can..."

Wash shook his head. "Too late, they've seen it." The Reaver ship broke off its' attack on Serenity and turned to intercept the returning shuttle. Inara put her hand to her mouth, a scream trapped in the back of her throat, thinking of the rest of the crew, her friends, about to become unwitting victims of the most savage and unreasoning monsters in the 'verse.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wo de fozu* = my Bhudda-ancestor *duibuqi* = sorry *zhen de* = really *shenjingbing* = crazy *zhangfu* = husband *qu* = yes (lit. go) *bao bei* = precious/treasure


Sunday, April 22, 2007 5:43 PM


One can only hope River's as good of a pilot as she is a fighter. You've got me hooked here, I can't wait for the next installment.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 6:04 PM


Oh...I really hope River's got a crazy plan to get the Reavers off their tails, cuz damn if they ain't screwed if she can't!

So...really great chapter here, with lots of brilliant dialogue. The tension, as provided by Wash and Inara, was great as well;D


Sunday, April 22, 2007 6:16 PM


Post the next one soon, please??? The tension is killing me here! Great stuff, as always!


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