Tall Ship - Part VIII
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Just a little firefight on Hammond. NEW CHAPTER


Before the bullet had even fallen spent to the ground, Zoe had grabbed Hank and thrown him down, drawing her Mare’s Leg as she hit the deck. Freya’s gun was also out, but she was watching the hover come across the ground towards them from a stand of trees, followed by a dozen men on horses, and noting the flashes of muzzle blast from among the bushes at their base as more gunfire erupted. Snipers – at least one, probably two.

“Frey, get down!” Zoe called, but she took no notice.

Crosby and his men had scattered, taking up positions next to Serenity, using her as a minimal cover and firing back at the intruders, but they were still too distant for handguns.

Scooping up the laser rifle Crosby had dropped, Freya reached into the crate and pulled out a box of ammo, cracking it and sliding a magazine into the breech. She didn’t notice the sudden pain of a graze across her left forearm, or if she did she ignored it. Bringing the rifle to bear, she sighted on the hover, and pulled the trigger.

The recoil thudded into her shoulder, and she realised her shot had gone high. Adjusting for the unexpected power of the weapon, she fired again. The hover seemed to twist in the air, and was suddenly rolling end over end. It hit a rock and almost bounced, then exploded into a white ball of flame.

The horseriders scattered, some still shooting sporadically, as Crosby and his men fired back from their shelter next to the Firefly, their accuracy a hell of a lot better than the raiders now the distance had shortened.

Freya heard a familiar gun open up next to her, and knew Zoe was taking some out too. She nodded grimly, and aimed at the muzzle flashes still showing in the trees. She fired, once, twice, three times, and the flashes stopped.

“They’re running,” Crosby shouted, leaping to his feet. Two more riders were down before they were out of range. “Get the horses!” he ordered. “Get after them!” His men ran back towards the house.

Freya lowered the rifle, her face not showing any emotion.

Zoe got to her feet, holstering her Mare’s Leg. “You okay?” she asked Hank as he sat up.

“Winded,” he admitted. “You’re stronger than you look.” He rubbed his chest.

“Next time I’ll just let them shoot you,” she said, satisfied he was okay.

“You’re only saying that to get out of the wedding,” he commented, levering himself to his feet.

Crosby turned to Freya. “Thanks.”

“Just looking after me and mine.”

“Well, in this instance it included me, so I’m grateful.” He smiled a little.

“This is a good weapon,” she said, looking the gun up and down. “Can I buy one off you?”

Crosby laughed. “Keep it. Sign of good will. And now we know what these things can do, and so do they. They’ll think twice about coming back.” He nodded. “I figure it’s a good deal.”

“Thanks.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Hank, you fit to fly?”

“I’m shiny, Cap ...” He stopped, realising what he was about to say. “Frey, I’m –“

She ruthlessly stamped down on the flare of agony in her heart. “Then unload the rest of the crates and get us into the air.”

“I ... sure, Frey.” He hurried back into the Firefly and started tugging out the cargo. Zoe gave Freya a single look, then went to help.

Crosby was unaware of the undertone. “Are you sure I can’t tempt you to stay a while?”

Freya shook her head. “Need to go.”

“I understand.”

They shook and Crosby strode back towards his home.

“Is everyone okay?” Simon asked, coming out of the common area, Sam following him.

Zoe straightened up. “Freya’s wounded.”

The young man hurried over. “Where?” he asked, checking her over.

Freya stared at him. “I’m not hurt.”

He gently lifted her left arm. “I think you are.”

She looked down in surprise at the blood that was staining her shirt. “It’s just a graze.”

“Let me be the doctor, just this once,” he suggested. “You might need stitches.”

Kaylee hurried out onto the top catwalk. “What happened?”

“Just a little gunfight,” Zoe said, lifting the last crate with Hank and carrying it outside into the sunlight.

“I figured that, mostly from the shooting. I meant specifically.”

“Does it matter?” Freya asked, pulling her arm away from where Simon was trying to examine it.

“If someone’s shooting up Serenity, I think maybe it –“

“Just leave it, Kaylee!” Freya’s voice reverberated through the cargo bay. “It ain’t your concern!”

Simon glanced up at his wife, then back to the woman in front of him. “I think you need to come to the infirmary,” he said softly.

“Why? So you can dope me like you used to dope your sister?” There was a viciousness none of them recognised in her tone.

“No. So I can clean out the graze and wrap it up.” He wasn’t going to take offence, and kept his voice gentle. “Freya, I know how you feel –“

“You lost a husband?” she asked, glaring at him.

“No, but –“

“Then don’t presume to tell me how I feel!”

“What’s going on?” Hank asked, coming back up the ramp, Zoe next to him.

“Nothing,” Freya said. “Just close up and get us out of here.”

“Frey’s being unreasonable,” Kaylee explained.

“I’m not.”

“Then what’s up?” Hank looked from one face to the other.


“I think there is.” Zoe stepped closer. “Frey, why don’t we talk while Hank gets us into the air?”

“I don’t need to talk. Just need to be away from this place.”

“And then what?”

“What?” Freya looked at her sharply.

“Then what? What do we do then?” Zoe asked.

“What we’ve always done. Keep flying. I know we had news of a job over on Harvest. We can –“

“What about River?”

“She’s fine with Inara.” She was almost dismissive of the young psychic.

“And Jayne? We’re supposed to be picking him up.” There was a belligerence in her manner that was like nothing they’d heard before. “Or are you planning on leaving him on Three Hills?”

Hank backed away a little.

Freya stood up, facing Zoe. “He can get a transport and meet us somewhere. I'm not going back there.”

“You’re not? Who put you in charge?”

For a second there was just the possibility that Freya was going to hit her. “Mal was my husband,” she said softly, steel underneath.

“And he was my friend. And my captain. I was first mate. I believe that makes the ship mine.”


“Some of my money’s gone towards keeping her in the air. I think that gives me rights.”

“You think. You think.” Freya stepped forward. “I don’t think it gives you shit.”

“Freya –“ Sam began.

She glanced at him, darkness seeping from every pore. “Stay out of this.”

“No. I won’t.” He put up his hands. “I know how you feel. I lost a wife. Most people on board have lost someone. But this isn’t the way to –“ He stopped as a bullet hit the wall next to his head.

“And I told you to keep out of this.” Freya slid her gun into its holster, but her hand stayed close.

He didn’t back down. “Or what? You’ll shoot me? Go ahead, but Freya, it isn’t me you’re angry at. It’s Mal.”

Her jaw dropped. “At ... at Mal? You’re ...” She couldn’t find the words she wanted, the feelings almost overwhelming her, and ended up just shaking her head. “You’re fong luh.”

“It’s part of the grieving process,” he explained. “If you’d only talk to me –“


“Freya, he’s right,” Hank put in. “After Risa –“

“What is this, some kind of conspiracy?” She stared from one to the other.

“Just talk to Sam,” Kaylee pleaded from halfway down the stairs.

“I don’t need to talk to anyone,” Freya insisted. “I’m fine.”

“So shooting the wall is fine?” Simon asked. “Only I’d like to know, just in case someone’s accidentally standing in the way when you do it next time.”

She threw him a glare that should have withered him on the spot. “If everyone would just leave me alone, there wouldn’t be any shooting.” She strode away from them through the doorway into the common area, heading for her temporary quarters.

“Sam?” Zoe asked, turning to the therapist.

“I’ll try again later. But I think for now, it’s best to do as she wants, and leave her alone.” He still looked worried, though.

“So?” Hank asked Zoe. “What do I do?”

“Which is closer? Three Hills or Lazarus?”

He thought for a moment. “At the moment, ‘bout the same.”

“Then Three Hills. We’ll pick up Jayne then go get River.”

“Okay.” A shadow crossed his face. “And if Freya tells me something different?”

I’m telling you Three Hills. If Freya says anything, you tell her to come talk to me.”

“Zoe, you ... you didn’t mean it about Serenity being yours, did you?” Kaylee asked diffidently.

The first mate shook her head. “No. I ... this is Mal’s ship, even if he ain’t here anymore. But I hoped she’d want to ... that I could get some kind of reaction out of her.”

Sam touched the bullet hole in the wall. “I think it worked.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.”

“Just let me know next time when you’re planning on doing something like that. I’ll duck.”

“Don’t worry. I will.” She slammed her hand on the button to close the bay door. “Hank, get us the hell out of here.”


Freya stood in the middle of the tiny room and unbuckled her gunbelt. Dropping it onto the bed, she ran her hands through her short hair, feeling the ache at the back of her skull.

She knew she’d gone too far, that they were only trying to help, but she couldn’t let them. Not with this. If she did what they wanted, if she let go, she’d fly into a billion pieces and nothing and no-one would be able to put her back together again. She'd apologise later, but right now she needed to be on her own.

She dropped her head, suddenly feeling as if she could sleep for a month. Maybe she should have let Simon dope her. Maybe if she did sleep, without the dreams that haunted her, she’d wake up and be able to function like a proper person, instead of some kind of monster just going through the motions of a human being.

Her eyes lit on a capture on the small table by the bed. It hadn’t been there earlier, so someone had been in her room, put it there. Probably Kaylee, although she’d found a few things that Bethany had left too, like a stuffed toy that she thought might comfort her.

She picked it up, turning it over and over in her hands. She didn’t want to look, to see what was on it, but something inside made her run her finger over the switch, activating the picture and sound.

“Don’t know why you want this,” Mal’s voice filled the room. “It ain’t like you need it for posterity.” He was just sitting on the bed, their bed, in their bunk, holding a small bundle.

“That’s exactly it.” Her own voice, slightly distorted by the recording. “That’s your first born you’re holding there, Mal. I want to have something to show him when he’s all grown up, and bringing his girlfriend home to see us. Maybe blackmail him with when he’s being ... ornery.”

Mal grinned. “You’re vicious.”

“Don’t tell me you hadn’t thought of the same thing.”

He laughed, and the Freya of the here and now had to sit down suddenly, not being able to breathe.

“I hadn’t necessarily considered it in those terms,” the Mal recording said. “I was thinking more in terms of the customary picture of a naked baby on a fur rug.”

“Did you have one of those too?” The Freya recording laughed.

“Of course.” Mal looked down at his son. “Every Reynolds as far back as anyone can remember had their picture took like that.”

“And the Rostovs.”

He smiled up at the capture. “Then I don’t think we should be breaking with tradition.”

“Well, if you put it like that ...”

A small wail began.

“Hey, I think your son needs a feed,” Mal said, holding out the bundle.

“How come he’s my son when he needs something?”

“Frey, the truth is, and I hate to break it to you now like this, but I don’t have breasts.”


“No. So me trying to feed our son ain’t gonna work.”

“You have nipples.”

“And believe me I’ve often wondered why.”

“Because I like them?”

He laughed. “Could be. Permaybehaps God looked into the future and saw that Freya Reynolds liked nipples on men and that was why He created Adam with them.”

“On one man,” she corrected. “And that’s as good a reason as any.”

He peered at her. “I think you need to speak to Simon. I’m pretty positive he can give you rhyme and reason on why men are endowed with them.”

“Probably.” The image tilted a little, then steadied, apparently because the capture maker was put down on a table, since there was movement in the picture and Freya appeared, sitting down next to her husband. “Better give him to me, then.” She began opening her shirt.

“Frey, that thing still running?” Mal asked, nodding towards the screen.

“I think so.”

“Then don’t you think you should turn it off before getting ...”

She smiled. “I was actually thinking that you could keep it, for when we’re old and grey, and you need something to remind you that once I was beautiful.”

He put his hand on her cheek. “Don’t need reminding on that, Frey.” His voice had changed, become tender. “For as long as I live, and longer, I’ll know. Always beautiful, xin gan.”

“My husband.”

They leaned together, their son between them, and kissed, but Freya wasn’t watching any longer. She’d slid from the bed to the floor, curled up into a foetal ball, tears soaking into her hair.

to be continued


Sunday, December 9, 2007 11:23 AM


Ah, poor Freya. My heart went out to her in this. I loved the shoot out and how Serenity and the crew tipped the balance with sending off the bad guys. Good that they got paid and Freya got a shiny new rifle out of it but also good to see how her bereavement has hardened her and how the rest of the crew try their best to crack that shell. Think the capture just did that. Now we need Mal to start remembering and for Freya to never forget. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, December 9, 2007 11:27 AM


You must enjoy ripping people's heart's out and stamping on them. SO sad and so close to the truth of grieving. If I didn't know Mal was alive this would be too much to take. Too bad Freya doesn't know it yet. Your writing, as always, is wonderful.

Sunday, December 9, 2007 1:32 PM


Sitting here with a few drops of water on my eyes. Not to say that I'm crying but my heart aches too.

Wondering if that shiny new rifle will have anything to do with getting Mal back?

Sunday, December 9, 2007 7:01 PM


Excellent, heart-wrenching work. My hat's off to you!


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“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

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"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

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Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]