Crew, But Not - Chapter 12
Friday, December 14, 2007

Mal, Zoe, and Jayne come back to the ship while Book gets Wash and Kaylee, but they haven't escaped yet.


Chapter 12

“I’ve never been bound before,” said Kaylee, sitting on the bench with her knees drawn up under her chin.

“Yeah, it’s not like Mal to let things get so bad,” said Wash, pacing a little.

“You think he’s okay?” asked Kaylee.

“Mal’s always okay,” said Wash, coming over and sitting next to Kaylee. “And Zoe too, probably. Jayne has an uncanny ability to survive.”

“Do you think Simon and River got away?” asked Kaylee.

“I’m not all that good with evaluating plans,” admitted Wash.

Their cell door burst open, and a guard came in.

“Can I help you?” asked Wash with an innocent raising of the eyebrows.

“The charges have been dropped,” said the guard, coming forward and unlocking their handcuffs.

“Well, that was all to be expected, since we didn’t know what they were,” said Wash calmly.

“We can go now?” asked Kaylee.

“Yes, and your crewmate is waiting for you,” said the guard.

“I knew Cap’n would get us out!” exclaimed Kaylee with a little jump of joy.

“You’re Captain’s under arrest if we find him,” informed the guard. “Best get to your ship.”

“Right,” said Wash.

“But who?” asked Kaylee, as they walked out of the cell towards the lobby. “Oh, Shepherd!”

Book came forward, relief and concern mingling on his face. “We have to go quickly.”

“Well, yeah,” said Kaylee.

Wash didn’t say anything, just looked surprised. They left the station hastily, and then Kaylee turned to Book.

“Is everything okay?” she demanded. “What happened?”

“How did you get us out?” asked Wash.

“We need to leave before they examine the paperwork too closely,” said Book. “The Captain is on his way to the ship as we speak.”

“And Simon and River?” asked Kaylee.

“They should be fine,” said Book.

“What on earth went wrong?” wondered Wash. “I thought for sure you’d run with the Tams,” he added.

“Do you know how long it took me to find a suitable ship?” answered Book.

Kaylee grinned. “You sure are a good man, Shepherd.”


“I can see Serenity,” said Zoe as they drew near in the shuttle. “Door’s shut.”

“Feds must be guarding her,” said Mal.

“Do you know how to lock in the shuttle manually?” asked Zoe.

Mal grimaced.

“Didn’t think so,” Zoe sighed.

“We’ll land and give a knock,” said Mal. “They won’t have more than a few guards, and we can handle that.”

Landing on the nearest docking platform, Mal exited the shuttle quickly with Zoe and Jayne. The coast was remarkably clear.

“They didn’t share the details with all the feds, I take it,” said Zoe.

“I’m not surprised,” said Mal. “Listen, Zoe, we’ll need to takeoff and make the rescue before the feds get in touch with each other.”

“How’re we planning to break in an Alliance station?” asked Zoe.

“By force, if necessary,” said Mal simply. Zoe didn’t look convinced.

They moved quickly up the ramp. Zoe drew her gun and stood on one side of the small door, while Jayne stood on the other. Mal gave a quick knock, his other hand on his holster, and was slightly surprised when it opened after a second without a fuss. The door was half open when Mal nodded to Jayne. The mercenary stepped forward quickly and hooked a punch around the door. There was a sound of fist meeting flesh, an oof, and a body hit the floor. Mal pushed the door open and he and the others barged in, guns drawn.

“Simon!” cried River, suddenly crouching down where the doctor was neatly laid by Jayne’s punch.

Mal felt a twinge of guilt at her broken tone, but Simon was only out for a few seconds.

Blinking and looking dizzy, Simon slowly sat up. “What was that?”

“Didn’t mean that, doc,” said Mal, an apology in his tone. “But what are you doing here? Shepherd said you were in hidin’,”

“He’s gone to get Kaylee and Wash,” said Simon, standing up and pressing his hand against his face with a grimace.

“How’s he gonna do that?” asked Jayne.

“Forged paperwork,” explained Simon, stretching his jaw and shaking his head a little.

Jayne nodded, surprise and grudging appreciation on his face.

“Let’s hope he did good work,” said Mal. “Nice disguise,” he commented, noticing the shepherd’s robes and the moustache on his dangerous passengers.

“We need to get in the air as soon as possible,” said Zoe.

“Right,” said Mal. “Zoe, up to the cockpit, Jayne, be ready to let our folk in. I’ll get the shuttle.”

As the three went off on their appointed tasks, Simon nursed his aching jaw and frowned. He decided that, despite the lack of gratitude, he should be grateful that Jayne hadn’t led with a bullet. “Come on, River,” he said.

Just then, Wash and Kaylee dashed in through the door, followed closely by Book.

“We’re all right,” reported Kaylee to Jayne. “Cap’n?”

“Get in, we gotta go,” said Jayne.

Wash dashed up the stairs while Kaylee looked to see if they were all safe. “Whoa, doctor!” she cried.

Simon wondered if there was a bruise already, and touched his cheek.

“No,” said Kaylee, touching her upper lip.

“Oh,” said Simon, remembering the disguise. He reached up and pulled off the bit of hair on adhesive.

“That was real smart, Shepherd,” said Kaylee, turning to Book as he and the Tams made their way to the back of the cargo bay. Serenity’s engines began to fire up, rattling the cargo. Simon heard the ramp rise as he and River went back to the infirmary.

“We should get changed,” he said to River.

“Comfortable,” said River, stroking her collar.

“It’s not ours, River,” said Simon, but in his mind the outfit was anything but comfortable. It was itchy and hot, like wearing a wool sweater—but those were River’s favorite.

She sighed and followed as the ship shuddered and began to rise.


“Okay, so what’s going on?” demanded Wash as he reached the bridge where Zoe was at the helm. She swiftly moved aside as he came in.

“We had some minor difficulties,” said Mal.

“Minor?” Wash exclaimed. “We were taken by the feds!”

“Just a little dispute that grew unnecessarily out of hand,” Mal tried to soothe.

“Ah yes, like usual,” sighed Wash with a hint of snark.

“Just get us up in the air before they call in the cavalry,” said Mal.

“I thought you said this was a small dispute,” said Wash, but he took the controls in hand.

“Well, a small dispute from a man with clout,” said Mal with a little shrug.

Serenity rose heavily, and Jayne came bounding loudly up.

“Kaylee says not to try anything too fast,” said Jayne. “She ain’t had time to fuel up, and we ain’t been conservin’ enough, she says.”

“Kao!” hissed Mal under his breath. He was leaning on the copilot’s seat, watching the horizon out the windshield as Wash brought them to the air.

“We contact Inara?” asked Wash.

“Soon as we got on board,” assured Zoe. “She’ll meet us a little ways off tomorrow.”

“What kinda escape is this, ‘zactly?” asked Jayne suspiciously.

“We’ll see how she flies,” said Mal, to the obvious distress of the other two men.

There was a beep on the monitor by Wash’s console.


Simon had brought River to the infirmary, helped her out of the robe, which she gave a last fond stroke to before Simon took it to fold it. He watched her closely, worried at the lack of signs of worry in her face. Situations such as this had most people slightly unnerved, and he knew her well enough to know that she was not merely hiding it. Never had she reacted exactly like most other people he knew, but River was not like this. River was quirky, but she laughed and furrowed her brow like any other—this River, this—did he dare even think the word ‘broken’—this broken River laughed when she should cry, and cried when she should laugh. And now she was calm in the face of approaching thunder. For Simon had no doubt that things were not yet over.

He saw Book pass hastily by the infirmary towards the stairs, and moved quickly to the door. “Shepherd?”

Book stopped, and turned. Simon rested his hands on the doorframe, and asked in a hushed voice, “Have the feds discovered our deception?”

“That is hardly our concern,” Book began to explain, his forehead wrinkling. “Were you not informed of what happened?”

“Uh, no,” said Simon, simply. “I—well, I was knocked out and promptly ignored.”

Book shook his head. “I do not know it all, but I believe the Captain had some foul relations with the client.”

”I am in deep shock,” intoned Simon dryly.

Book gave an understanding sigh, and then looked towards the stairs as there was a slight shudder in the ship. “I believe I may be of some use in the engine room.”

“Cap’n?” came Kaylee’s voice, loud and full of frustration from the engine room above.

Book departed, and Simon turned back to River. He had apparently done his part, and was needed no more.

Book went up the stairs quickly, and nearly ran into Kaylee as she was about to leave the engine room.

“Oh, Shepherd, there you are!” she said, her face hot and greasy. “I didn’t want to have to get Jayne, y’know.”

“Do you need assistance?” asked Book, rolling up his sleeves.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Kaylee, hastily returning to the heated engine room. “The strain’s going to be too much if I can’t reroute the cooling tubes into the longer system—wait a minute.” She ran back to the door and gave a shout. “Cap’n, we can’t burn this fast yet!”

“Where do I go first?” asked Book, his arms ready and willing.

Kaylee gave a relieved smile, and pointed to one side. “Ya know what the cooling system looks like?”

Book answered with an assuring smile, and began to work.


Kaylee’s shout went almost unnoticed in the bridge.

“What is it?” demanded Mal as the console beeped.

“Ke wu,” muttered Wash, reaching to flip three switches above his head. “Captain, we’ve got an incoming vessel headed straight towards us.”

“Feds?” asked Mal.

”Negative, it’s a private vessel,” said Wash. He turned a dial on the dashboard and then looked up. “And armed.”

“Get us away, Wash,” said Mal, mostly calmly.

“We’re still fully loaded,” answered Zoe, as Wash seemed distracted with the various controls. “Serenity can’t get us out of here fast enough.”

“What do they want?” asked Jayne, obliviously staring puzzledly at the blip on the console that indicated the ship that was following them.

A flash of light streamed past them out in space.

“I think they want the evidence gone,” said Zoe slowly.

Wash turned around in his chair, demanding, “Mal, what did you do to these guys?”

“Honey, we’re being fired upon,” said Zoe, spinning his chair back to face the wheel.

“Okay, I’d like to declare this an officially bad situation,” said Wash. “Mal, what side are they on?”

“They’re straight behind us,” said Mal, looking at the screen.

There was a jerk and the sound of an explosion. Serenity rattled unappreciatively.

“That was not good, Wash,” said Mal.

“I think I figured that out,” said Wash snappily.

“They’re going steadily, honey, you can dodge them,” assured Zoe.

There was another shot, and a red warning light began to flash on the dashboard. “We can’t take another hit like that,” explained Wash. “Everyone hang on!”


Book heard a little yelp as the ship jerked, and then saw Kaylee jump up from where she had been messing with cables under the engine, putting a hand to her forehead.

“We got hit!” she exclaimed.

“Should I go see what’s going on?” asked Book.

“No, it’s gotta be the folks Mal made mad—feds don’t fire on sight,” said Kaylee. “Quick, do you know where the fuel bypass system is?”

“Uh,” began Book unsurely, but as Kaylee used her free hand to point to it, he recognized it and quickly went over.

“Just hook the green line into the—that grey box there,” said Kaylee, keeping her hand pressed on the little gash in her forehead.

Book was thankful for the simplification, and followed her instructions quickly. Kaylee knelt down and picked up her wrench with her free hand, brushed a strand of hair from her eyes, and finished tightening a bolt. “Almost there,” she murmured, blinking to keep the sweat out of her eyes.

There was another shake as a shot hit closer to the engine. “Oh Wash, don’t let us blow,” murmured Kaylee, giving a last twist to the bolt. “Shepherd?”

“All set,” he responded.

“Okay, I think we need to focus on the buffering before—”

Suddenly the lights flickered, and there was a slight displacement of gravity as Serenity did a sudden corkscrew followed by a swift dive. There was a lurch as gravity was restored, and then the engine and all lights died.

“Oh, no, no, no!” cried Kaylee in the dark. “Wash!”

No one needed to be told. They were stalled.

Book fumbled his way out the engine room and waited for Kaylee, and then rushed up to the bridge.

“Wash, I told you nothing—” began Kaylee, but she stopped.

“We’re sitting ducks,” said Mal with a sigh.

There was a pause.

“Why ain’t we dead yet?” asked Jayne.

“They can see what happened to us, right?” asked Wash.

“Kaylee?” asked Mal, turning to her.

“I can’t do anything till lights come back, and then it’ll be a couple minutes,” she said apologetically.

“Are we—is something wrong?” asked Simon, who had quickly come to join them. River followed silently, and stood by the entrance, watching.

The small ship rose into their sights as Serenity floated freely in space. It’s guns were ready, and it moved slowly towards them.

“They want to board us,” said Mal with a sigh.

“What do they want?” asked Wash. “What exactly is our situation?”

“Orders, sir?” asked Zoe.

Mal leaned on the back of the copilot’s chair, tapping his finger, a dark look clouding his face.

Simon was worried, more than before. “If they’re going to board us, shouldn’t River and I—”

“They don’t care about you,” said Mal, standing up and facing his crew. “They want to make sure all the evidence is destroyed at once.”

“What evidence?” asked Wash.

“Us, the cargo,” said Zoe. Mal nodded.

“We’re gonna fight, right?” asked Jayne.

“He’s not going to have sent more than a couple dozen in that ship,” said Zoe, looking to Mal.

Simon looked out, seeing the ship as it drew close and extended an airlock.

“A couple dozen?” asked Kaylee nervously. Wash echoed her tone in his look to Zoe.

“That’s suicide,” said Book gravely.

The lights flickered back on, and Kaylee made a hasty departure.

“If we can hold them back so Kaylee can get us running, we might have a chance,” said Mal grimly.

“Might,” said Wash, emphazing. “That’s the operative word there, you understand?”

“They might kill us on sight,” said Zoe.

“Yeah, that too,” agreed Wash.

“Then we don’t let them have a sight,” answered Mal. “Jayne?”

“I’m on it,” said the mercenary, seriously and yet with a bit of glee.

Mal turned to Book and the Tams. “You all can take refuge in the shuttle, take off if things go poorly, meet up with ‘Nara tomorrow. Can you fly?”

Simon hesitated. “Well, I have a theoretical knowledge—”

“I can get us out if it comes to it,” said Book more confidently.

Mal nodded, and they all began to leave to take up their positions. Simon’s heart was pounding again as he realized that their brush with certain death was by no means over. “River?” he said, reaching out for her.

“You won’t leave without me,” she asked.

“No, of course not,” said Simon.

“Can’t touch the shuttle,” she said explainingly.

“It’s all right just this once, River,” Simon said. “Come, we have to go.”

Book was lost in thought for a moment, then turned to Simon and nodded. “Take her. I’ll follow once I know how things are going.”

“We may not have much time,” said Simon, frowning.

“Don’t worry, I can tell if a battle’s lost,” said Book darkly. “Go.”

Simon took River by the hand and hurried out and across the catwalk to the shuttle. He had felt tired as they waited in the infirmary, feeling every shake and jolt of the ship as it was hit and then turned, but now he was frighteningly on edge. He had almost felt away from danger over the past couple days—it had been a foolish feeling.

As he and River entered the shuttle, he looked out to see Book place himself on the catwalk only a few paces away. Jayne was on the far side of the ship, weapons in hand. Mal and Zoe were hidden among the cargo. Wash was somewhere, and Kaylee was in the engine room. Book looked to Simon and nodded. For a moment, Simon felt like joining in on the action instead of waiting behind doors for catastrophe to strike. Then he felt River’s hand on his arm, and the feeling faded away. His life wasn’t his own to risk, even to protect the ship that had offered them shelter so far.

He shut the door, isolating himself and River from whatever would take place. He was part of the crew—but not enough for this. Outside, he heard the other ship lock on. Any moment now, and they would board.


Sunday, December 16, 2007 3:46 AM


Very interesting plot. I am enjoying how well you are keeping the events in synch with the series, not advancing any relationships unless they were shown that way originally. Very well written!

Saturday, December 22, 2007 12:56 AM


hadn't spotted this here - well worth the finding!:)


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Crew, But Not - Epilogue
FINALLY! The final chapter, as the crew gets back to normal and Simon reflects a little on the adventure.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 13
Lord Tembriar and men board Serenity, while the crew try to hold off until they can escape.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 12
Mal, Zoe, and Jayne come back to the ship while Book gets Wash and Kaylee, but they haven't escaped yet.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 11
Mal needs to escape, and the rest of the crew find themselves in sticky situation of their own, while River and Simon follow Book's plan.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 10
The job is turning out to be troublesome. What's up with Lord Tembriar, and what will the crew do about the incoming feds?

Crew, But Not - Chapter 9
Arriving on Greenleaf, Mal and co. go to finish the job, and Simon and River are left on the ship again.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 8
Things are both better and worse for the crew. Simon starts to wonder about River, worry about his duties on the ship, and what was in that cryo box anyway?

Crew, But Not - Chapter 7
Simon and River find something odd with the cargo, and Simon and Inara match their skills in a game of chess.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 6
Finally, a new chapter! The cargo comes aboard, and Simon starts creating patient profiles.

Crew, But Not - Chapter 5
Simon and River struggle to find their place in Serenity's crew. Mal and his team finally meet the client, while Wash and Kaylee spend some time with the new crewmembers and Book.