Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mal and the crew have a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.


This is the second installment, still no idea on a title. Feedback really appreciated.

All characters but the panther belong to Joss Whedon; the panther belongs to Alison Dobell, from her "The Pursuit Series", borrowed with permission and much gratitude!

Not real sure where this is going yet, and it isn't beta'd, so please be gentle!! *************************************************

Zoë moved to the weapons locker and silently began strapping up. There was no telling what they’d find when they caught up with Mal, and she wasn’t of a mind to try and decipher any of River’s cryptic riddles. Better to be armed than not.

The rest of the crew trickled onto the bridge, Kaylee and Inara both wondering aloud at all the fuss, and the panther snarled as River breathed, “Hurry.”

Shepherd Book laid a calming hand on Blackie’s head and directed his words to both the mechanic and the companion. “Mal ran into trouble.”

Zoë elaborated before anyone could respond. “Captain’s hurt. We’re goin’ after him. Jayne.”

The big mercenary looked over at her, for once keeping his mouth shut on any smart-assed remarks. “Yeah?”

“Get your weapons. Don’t know what’s goin’ on yet; rather be safe than sorry.”

Jayne nodded once and headed aft for his bunk.

“Kaylee, I want you standin’ by the ramp, ready to open her up, but first I want you to prep the mule. We might need it. Simon, be ready in the infirmary. ‘Nara, you might want to help him.”

Inara nodded wordlessly and followed Simon out the door. Book looked at Zoë. “I’d like to go with you. I’m a fair hand with the mule, and can help you with Mal, if there’s a need.”

Zoë nodded. “I ain’t gonna try to talk you out of it, Preacher. You’ve proven yourself before.”

“Follow the river,” the young psychic whispered. “Follow me.”

Zoë didn’t know if River was talking to them or not. Given that she had said that Mal called her, she could just as easily be talking to him, anchoring him in the here and now. If that was the case, the first mate wholeheartedly approved.

The next twenty minutes weren’t the worst of Zoë’s life, but they certainly weren’t among the best. She didn’t pace, like the cat did, but it was a near thing. She nearly jumped when River spoke again. “Land here.”

Zoë ran for the mule as Wash prepared to set down. Blackie passed her, and was already in the mule when Zoë got there.

Mal always maintained that the mule didn’t run well with five, and Zoë had had occasion to learn that he was right, but this time it was going to be overloaded. She wasn’t going to be the one to tell the cat she couldn’t go.

As soon as they touched down, the mule was down the ramp. Wash’s voice came over the com. “River says to keep going north, stay on the river.”

“Got it, baby!”

It wasn’t long before they spotted the captain. Mal was unconscious, most of his body submerged in the icy river. As they jumped out and raced to their fallen leader, they could hear men approaching the cliff above them. Zoë trained her mare’s leg on the cliff, while Jayne and Book wrestled Mal from the water. The captain was completely unconscious, dead weight, unable to help them at all. They were laying him gently in the cargo area when Blackie snarled.

The first of the men they had heard had arrived. Bullets began to rain down on the mule in earnest. Keeping low, Book took over the pilot’s seat as Zoë and Jayne opened fire. Blackie crouched protectively over Mal, snarling like a maddened thing.

Through the darkness and the flying snow, Zoë couldn’t see much more than shadows that could have been trees as easily as men. She fired wherever she saw muzzle flashes while Book got the mule turned around. Some distant part of her brain heard Jayne yelp, then the spate of growled Chinese swearing that told her he was relatively okay. She didn’t turn to check. She herself made no sound, only flinched a bit, when a bullet grazed her arm.

Book shouted a warning, then the mule shot forward, back toward Serenity. Neither Zoë nor Jayne lowered their weapons until they were certain no one was following. Zoë breathed a sigh of relief when the mule entered the cargo bay. Carrying five had drastically reduced their speed. But they were home now, and she had other concerns. While Book and Jayne carried Mal to the infirmary, she stepped to the com. “Wash, we’re on! Get us into orbit!”

Not waiting for his response, she followed the men to the infirmary.


Book stood quietly by, face grim, while the doctor worked over the captain. Mal had yet to regain consciousness, and Simon felt that meant a possible concussion.

The bright lights of the infirmary were merciless. Under their glare, Mal was pale and worn. It wasn’t the first time the captain had been injured—far from it, in fact, but Book had never grown used to it.

“Why is he soaking wet?” Simon asked, not looking up from where he was stitching up Mal’s leg.

“He was in the river,” Zoë answered. “All but completely submerged. Don’t know how long.”

Simon had stripped the captain, blushing as he did so, since Zoë was not leaving, and laid a blanket over him, leaving the wounded leg bare. “Well, he lost a lot of blood. I’d say the cold slowed the bleeding, or he’d have lost more. The head wound looks like it came from the river, a boulder or some such. It’s not that bad, and he should be coming around soon. All told, he’s as stable as I can make him right now.”

Nodding, Zoë thanked him, and left for the bridge. Simon moved to clean his instruments. “Mal will need to rest, but I just don’t see that happening.”

Book frowned, and cocked his head questioningly. “Why not?”

Simon glanced up at him with a rueful smile. “Do you honestly see the captain letting me keep him in the infirmary, or even in bed?”

The shepherd had to smile at the thought of the fuss that would ensue. Mal wasn’t one to let folk force him into anything he didn’t want to do, least of all Simon. Where Mal actually liked River, the same couldn’t be said of her brother. The captain tolerated him better than he used to, but that was about all.

Privately, Book suspected that Mal cared more about the Tam siblings than he let on. In actual fact, Book thought there was much more to Mal himself than the captain let anyone see, the sole exceptions to that being Zoë and River. Zoë because of their history together, and River because nothing could be hidden from her.

“Conjure you’d be thinkin’ rightly there, doc,” came Mal’s tired voice. Both men turned to see the captain sitting up. As they watched, Mal got off the exam table and hobbled to the stack of folded clothes Zoë had left.

“Captain,” Simon tried, “you really shouldn’t be up. You’ve probably got a concussion—“

“Ain’t the first time, likely ain’t the last,” Mal interrupted. He dressed, moving stiffly, and regarded Book. “We still planetside?”

“In a manner of speaking,” Book told him. “Given the circumstances, Zoë thought orbit would be a mite safer.”

Mal nodded, unsurprised. He and Zoë did tend to think alike, for the most part. “Take it that means we still don’t know who wanted me corpsified?”

“Pretty much.”

“Captain,” Simon tried again. Mal smiled at him, but his eyes were implacable. “Now, doctor, I know you’re about to tell me about how I need to rest and all, and I conjure you might be right, but I got captain-y things to do right now, so unless you feel to explain how I can do those things from my bunk…?”

With a sigh, Simon gave up. He’d never had a chance anyway, not with Mal, and they all knew it. Book chuckled, not unkindly, and Mal grinned at him. “I’m grateful for the patch job, doc, but I’ll be on my merry now. I’ll promise you this much: soon as I can, I’ll go to my bunk. That work for you?”

“Sure.” It wasn’t as if Mal would give him a choice.

“Good.” Mal headed for the door.


Once out of the infirmary, the affable smile slipped away, and Mal’s eyes hardened. He was going to find out who’d seen fit to blow a hole in him. Serenity wasn’t leaving St. Albans until then. And when he found the son of a bitch, there would be a reckoning.


Monday, May 7, 2007 7:37 AM


Oh...someone is SO screwed right now! Cuz Mal is about to lay down a painful smackdown on those who want him dead. Though I get the feeling that the new enemy will wear a friend's face:(


Monday, May 7, 2007 4:15 PM


I'm not telling yet! ;) I will say this much: the character in question is familiar. There, something to chew on!


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Mal and the crew have a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.

Mal and the crew have a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.

Mal and the crew have found a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.