To Have and To Hold Up
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Repost but complete version (and with Coda). One of my better efforts. Diamonds – surgical tables – double crossing and torture. Mal and Saffron and the Firefly crew have their sights on Dr Renway stenner – Surgeon, Torturer, School Developer – man about town… Thanks to Mal4Prez for help on the intro – dedicated to NBZ and SpaceAnjl.



It was straight out of a movie... The red headed woman, sometimes known as Saffron, lingered in the doorway for a moment, her eyes level under a provocatively fallen strand of hair. She was cool. In this heat warped flea ridden shack of a border hotel – she was the only thing that was. Everything else around her just – sweated. Her voice, of course, was low – reaching out to the man before her like a lasciviously beckoning finger. “Well then Captain…” she breathed, “if there’s anything you need – anything at all... I’ll be just across the hall.” She raised an eyebrow – it was like the tugging of a leash – “if you – want me… just whistle…” Her lips flickered. “You know how to whistle, don’t you Mal…? You just put your lips together and…” There was a sensual pause. She broke it – crudely. “Gun HOE-tze bee DIO-se!!!” And, with unexpected violence, slammed the door shut on Malcolm Reynolds..

Well now... whoo! Thought Mal, tutting – and there was surely no call to get so mean mouthed about it. Pretty sure I never conceived of doing that with a monkey before. The bed beneath him creaked as he sat back on its edge – placing the gun he had been holding carefully on the dresser next to it. But Gorram! That woman – he shoulda said something at least in reply, she needed a serious Reynolds education… and he had said nothing. How was it that she always managed to – and of all the people in the ‘verse – to be able to... Slowly he turned to face the anger of his own face in the grimy dresser mirror. But he sat back sharply. No....! There had been – GorrAM it! – a smile on his face.

How in the halls of Hell? How did she – he had to think – and think fast – this wasn’t right – this had be some sorta, y’know, hypno drug induced feminine wiles enhancing seduction perfume at work – and it was probably poison at that. He needed the Doc’ but quickly – if the Tam boy couldn’t get here in time then surely – this could be fatal – this could be- fun???


Episode 1 · The Diamond as Big as your Bitz

Some time earlier…

Hovering over the stagnant bay, the sun – looking for all the world like yesterdays lemon in last nights tequila – was waiting for a shot in the arm. It was a patient sun and it waited a long time. Perhaps something would come, (enter stage left – enter from above), a figure, a sudden upthrusting tree, a vehicle. Something to glint off, reflect upon, dazzle and fascinate. But no, there was just the bay, the bare empty harbour, the shack. Eventually, and with a petulant red glare, the sun gave up. “About Gorram time!” Malcolm Reynolds wiped the sweat from his brow and slopped his heavy frame free of the hammock. Stumbling, for a moment seasick from the hammocks yawing, he moved across the wooden room and to the basin. Started to shave. When he was done, he grabbed the glass of whiskey from the edge of the sink, his gun from under the pillow on the hammock and he opened the shutters on the window. The air, his lungs drew in, seemed… reluctant. He scanned the horizon with the eyes of someone certain in the knowledge that there was absolutely nothing new to see. And for the fifth time in as many days, downed the whiskey and hurled the glass, accurately, at a tiny wooden sign below. It ricocheted off with a clatter, the damp wood absorbing the impact. Welcome to Hades, said the sign. Stubbornly. “You got that right.” Placing his gun in his holster-belt, Mal turned and opened the door. There were men there, two men. Men he had never seen before – and certainly not heard. “Mr Reynolds? We’re here about the diamond.” ………………………………………………………………….

Some whiles earlier still…

“A diamond as big as yer bits – imagine that!” Jayne Cobb laughed. “But whose bits? I’m wondering – because,” – he threw a large arm around the shoulders of the boyish figure next to him – “Doc’ here may disagree – but, way I’m thinking, hell – size matters!” Doctor Simon Tam eased himself from under the arm the way a mouse might free itself from a drowsing Boa snake. He did not, however, manage to avoid the pat on the back that threatened some sort of internal rupture. The rest of the people gathered around the dining table, looked on with elaborately blank expressions. “I might ask you to forgive the crudeness, Doctor”, said Malcolm Reynolds, breaking a cookie in half as he did so. “But, I dare say it’ll speed things along if we just put it on the tab.” Simon nodded tightly. “So then Doctor – and I must say, straight off, that you have my full and undivided attention, for the simple reason that anything – and I really do mean anything – that may cause our friend Badger some squirming, well, that sits just fine on my plate.” He pushed his own towards Simon. “Well,” – Tam’s voice was noticably breathless. He gulped from his beaker. “It’s a good target – the prize is real. But it won’t be easy… or safe.” He blinked.”But then you don’t really do ‘safe’, do you Captain?” Mal remonstrating hand was, perhaps, half hearted. Also seated at the table, the Shepherd, who had yet to finish, liked to savour his food, looked up. “Perhaps you should just explain about that.” Mal cocked an eyebrow. “Hey now – safe – who knows about ‘safe’ anymore – huh? – But I don’t go looking for trouble.” The stern looking woman, sat opposite him, snorted at this. Dr Tam pulled across a mobile projector. It flickered into life. Died. Flickered on again. Then off. “No! No, no!” Simon desperately prevented Cobb’s upraised arm from falling. “Just – just give it a minute.” With a sudden whir, the projector came back on – beaming an image across onto the far wall of the kitchen area in which they were eating. The low lighting, aiding the projection, also shrouded the room… could almost have been anywhere; an old homestead, a ranch, a rude cottage perhaps – not, in fact, the very enclosed and metallic craft they were in. The face in the image scowled sourly at them. “This is Doctor Rennway Stenner. Alliance surgeon during the war. An excellent – well, just an excellent surgeon actually.” Mal held up a warning hand. “Surgeons use lasers – lasers need diamonds.” Simon cut to the chase. “Very neat.” This from the Shepherd. “Yeah… but…” The red headed girl, to the Captain’s left, brushed a quick, reflexive hand across her hair, before addressing the Doctor. “How’d we know he’s still operatin’? And somewhere we can reach him?” “’S’fair point Doctor.” Tam depressed the projector hand control. Another slide. A small green globe. “This is Navaha.” He turned back to face the crew. “I’ve tracked Stenner’s movements. He’s coming there. And he’s coming for this…” Another click. An almost sarcophagus shaped container. Simon grinned. That was enough to get everybodys’ attention. “This is the AcuGate Tristar Optimum mobile surgery. Top of the range – all in one, multiple operations, multiple, you name them, -” “Please don’t.” The Shepherd shook his head. “Uh, Simon? A little drool.” The Doctor coughed. “And it’s powered by a single multi-focus diamond chrystal, as big as – well you know that already.” The Captain nodded. “And Stenner, he wants it?” A nod. “Oh yes. It’s his. He designed it. Used it in the war, for -” “His surgery.” The Doctor looked taken aback. “Oh no. To torture people.” ………………………………………… end of part one. …………………………………………

Episode 2 · Sing it Sister

Even a shack, when you walk through one, can seem suddenly enormous – and the walking of it long – when you are stood between two men with guns. The men in question and the guns they carried, were similarly hard, flat and grey. “Well now,” Malcolm Reynolds was the man long walking. “I must say, I appreciate the sure footed, professional manner of my abduction… the way you boys stole up on me.” One of the man grunted. “I wish I could tell you it was our covert and finely honed skills, Mr Reynolds. But, truth be told, you sleep like a dead horse.” “Ah.” Mal halted. The men frowned. “Now, Mr Reynolds…” Mal smiled. “Now surely you fellas won’t be begrudging an’ if I collect a few things? – Since I have absolutely no idea how far, or how long I’m to journey with you for…” he gestured. There were two rough hemp bags by the broken slatted entrance of the shack. The men looked at each other. “Very well.” “Appreciate it.” Reynolds stepped sideways and hoisted the bags by their straps. He spun on the balls of his feet and the improvised bolas of his bags lashed out. The gun was knocked from one man, another was struck hard in the jaw. The falling pistol went off with firecracker zeal. Mal drew his. Cocked it. “Tut. I take back all I said, didn’t your mother ever teach you ‘always leave the first chamber empty?”. As he chuckled, the men rubbed their fingers and jaws, looked sore. “Very good Mr Reynolds, very good,” called a voice. "Neatly disposed of. Your natural instincts are sharp – but failing to protect your flank? Surely, like Albert’s gun lore, a weakness.” Mal clicked back the hammer, slowly eased his gun back to his belt. “I guess nothin’s what it used to be,” he shrugged. “His name really Albert?” he asked. ……………………….. Stenner’s face leered out from the firefly galley wall. “So, torturer then.” Malcolm Reynolds stroked a hand through his hair – couldn’t prevent his eyes from sliding across to meet those of his first mate. She was looking at him coolly, black sleeved arms folded behind the the edge of the table. “Not the first time.” Reynolds broke stare, turning to Doctor Tam. “In the war – for the Alliance.” Simon Tam had flicked the slide projector back once more to an image of the mobile surgery. Coffin shaped now, definitely, in the minds eye of the crew. “What? Oh sorry, no. Well, yes but, I also found security footage, archived, of Stenner on Merrion.” – Captain Reynolds shrugged. “With the Browncoats.” A beat. “But that can’t be – that don’t necessarily…” The first mate looked perturbed now. “We didn’t use to”- “WE didn’t, Zoe,” interrupted Mal with heavy emphasis. “WE – as in you an’ me.” “But Sir…” “I’m sure you’ve noticed by now Zoe, we ain’t everyone.” “We ain’t everyone with a DIAMOND.” Jayne Cobb’s patience had run out. He had waited at the table, an unusually long time for his turn, but now – “And if that diamond’s in that there box o’ delights, hell, let’s just go grab it!” Simon shook his head. “No way of knowing that for sure. Stenner may have it already. It is detachable and valuable.” “And yet he doesn’t have the, the -” Reynolds pointed “AccuGate Tri-Star Optimum. My -” “Guess is the man had to leave his last job in a hurry. Got forced to leave the… equipment.” The Shepherd’s distaste was clear. His unfinished meal had, now, clearly been abandoned. He was looking at Simon directly. “But, to be clear. Without the diamond, the torture device is useless?” “Oh yes.” “Kinda poses a moral dilemna, don’t it Shepherd.” Mal was curious. “Not really.” Solomon Face was set. “Steal the damn diamond.” “But if we don’t even know where he’s at?” Serenitys mechanic, Kaylee, was also looking at Simon – and as though for the first time. He had watched a torture film. Had he? Had he watched…? Captain Reynolds had taken Kaylee’s spoken question. “Could be in the case… could be he’s got it, so…” Simon nodded. “So we need to put somebody close to him.”… ………………………………………………. “This monkey with you?” The Navaha Hotel – fifty eight miles north of Hades – was crowded, roaring with drunken life. The kind that only comes out at night. Caught up in its midst – steering between wheelers, dealers, fast workers, low earners – everyone desperate to find papers for a way out, off world, – Malcolm Reynolds had collided ignominiously with the red haired singer making her way to the stage. She was glaring however, not at him but at Renway Stenner, smart suited and beside him.Stenner smiled, slowly. “Yes… yes he is.” “Well keep him on a chain next time Mister.” Wiping the gold of her dress with a pair of long white gloves, the singer turned on her heels and flounced off. “Fine looking woman,” commented Stenner. “Huh?” Mal shook his head. “Oh. Reckon she didn’t take that kindly to me.” He was rubbing a newly bruised rib. Stenner laughed. “First impressions, Captain… Place like this? They count for very little.” The two men were easing themselves now into worn leather seats. Mal deftly set up the drinks they had ordered earlier from the bar; two glasses, a bottle, a beaker of ice, cherries. The band were starting to pick up. The singer was taking her place. Stenner finished speaking. “Everyone here is trapped Captain – so, everybody tends to just… rub along.” There was a bright piano fanfare from up on the stage. The player, a small, wary looking figure, chewing on a matchstick was pointing. The sultry looking figure of the singer was leaning forwards, low, with an arm around the microphone stand. The Piano-man yelled, “Take it away Dorothy!” The band bit down on a blues. A pin could have dropped then. The pin they always talk about. You wouldn’t have cared. Her voice was much deeper than Mal had expected. “High times, low times, I’ve had my share… Big dreams and misery. I may look small – but I’ll swallow it all… And that’s about the size of me. The easy and hard, the rough with the smooth… Big men like you Buddy, with something to prove. Well you may be tall… but can you really measure up to the size of me???” Captain Reynolds set his glass down, real slow. Stenner’s mouth opened, closed. Opened again. “Good song.” He murmured. Coughed into his hand. Up on the stage the singer threw back her head to wail out the last, mocking verse. The applause when it came seemed of little interest to the woman. She swayed off, gently, stage right. Chit-chatting with affected brightness to the members of the band. Stenner coughed again. “I see you’re admiring the singer still.” He was toying with a half empty shot glass. “Hmm? Well she seems very, uh – self possessed.” Malcolm kept himself from fidgeting restlessly Stenner grinned. “That she is.” “Admirable trait.” “Yes… ‘admirable’. Something to be ‘admired’. Dorothy is certainly that. But then that is the purpose of beauty – to be admired. And y’know,” Stenner set his glass down finally. “The nearer something comes to fulfilling its purpose, the greater it is. Realising purpose – a thing achieves… purity. Don’t you agree.” Reynolds was watching the woman. She had finished with the band for now. Preparing for her next number. She leaned into position again – but this time blowing the audience a slow kiss. “She seems very…” Mal rubbed his ear. “Pure.” Stenner nodded. “I should know Captain Reynolds. She’s my wife.” …………………………………………………………………….. END OF PART TWO ……………………………………………………………………..


“So there’s an old joke… Man walks into a bar. Looks at the singer who’s performing. Listens for a spell. Barman asks him, “so what’dya have?” Man says – “I’ll take two of her with some ice and lemon.”

So sue me – I’m not exactly living in joke-central here. Used to, mind, used to. Herbie Van Michael and his Hot Stuff - We had a time of it, songs, singers, swingers – ooh boy, a lotta action… running between places, playing both sides of the shining coin they call the ‘verse - the Blue and the Brown.

Y’ever see ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – real old, old film – Earth that Was. Scarecrow. Scarecrow stands at a crossroad. Looks at a girl. Girl’s wondering which way to go. This way, that way. “Of course, they do go both ways,” says Jim Crow.

He’s a good man, Jim Crow. One time he looks up in the sky and sees a message for the girl, written high up there in the clouds. Surrender Dorothy Wicked Witch wrote that. Y’know, I heard tell that back in the day – back in the War, Civil War, just gone – General called across the black to the Browncoats floating in Mattox atmo’ – “Surrender Dorothy.”

‘Course, in the story, Dorothy didn’t do any such thing – gets up, kill the old witch. Drops a house on her, or some such – hell, I forget. Point? Life aint like that. Of course they do go both ways. Sometimes the only way in life is down.

Now take HER f’r’instance. This little lady right here.

Hotter’n a May Day in Hades (an’ I should know, - this IS Hades). Red headed – seems fittin’ don’t it – got a little Irish in her, I shouldn’t wonder. (I really shouldn’t). Got the looks, every excuse for a thing that breathes round here’ll tell you that, and plainly. Got the voice – wouldn’t believe it, little thing like her – voice real low down, “Put it right here – or keep it out there…” like whiskey in the throat, the Lord’s own tobacco. So, yep, no mistaking – looks and a voice, make a wolf out of any of you. “You should be ashaaamed…”

But she got balls too – not to get impolite – I’ve heard her cuss a fool boy back by a hundred yards. Y’ever heard the Irish cursing in fluent Chinee? Well – that’s something. So, yep. Balls.

Hey – I’m getting to it! BRAINS – naturally the dame has brains. Stuck here in this fleapit, no papers, no traffic, no ways out – what’s a girl to do… She’s getting married of course.

Moneyed fella too. Off-World. Hell, good for her – stuck here, six months drive anyone plain nuts. Stuck here.

But I knew she wouldn’t stay stuck. Got a nose for these things, knew she was going places… an’ I was right. Just maybe places people aint s’sposed to go. Places you don’t come back from.

Huh? Oh, I’m sorry – you didn’t like that? Well, don’t mind me, Buddy – ‘nother song a long real soon. Don’t pay no attention to me. I’m just the guy that plays the piano. I’m just the man bangs out the tunes.

………………………………………………. .................


Episode 3 · objects of value

Back to back, the man and the woman were clearly hard pressed. They were at a cross roads, the two of them. No way forward was clear. Being shot at just made matters worse. She called him Mal. He called her Saffron. And they stood with the gunfire whistling around them. And the men with the guns shouted that they would both be – “real dead, real soon!” The woman was swearing in Chinese. The man was answering in English. “Hell,” he said, firing wildly. “Don’t be puttin’ the heap of blame on me now lady! Things happen – a job can go … and well, ok, but planning just ain’t my middle name!” “Yi C_** Wa-!!” “Huh? No, that ain’t it either,” two more shots. “That’s between me, my Mother and the good deal of whiskey she had in her when she named me.” Malcolm Reynolds fired twice again – then staggered. His chest was bloody. “Gorram…” He sagged, falling to one knee – fired from a low crouch, but the other knee went and he sprawled to the ground. The red haired woman glanced back at him, her face twitching. Then a shot took her also – high in the back shoulder. Her gun clattered to the floor. She clutched at herself, protectively. Reynolds raised his voice, yelling out hoarsely – “We’re done here fellas! Your boss‘ll be well pleased with the deadly accuracy of your shooting… Just, just give us a minute…” There was a negative response. “C’mon – we’re all honourable people – well, ‘cept her of course – I’m honourable. Honourable through and,” his fingers felt the sticky under his shirt. “Through.” The woman beside him was furiously tidying herself up, making herself ready, as if deciding to be, at the end, a fine looking corpse at least. “Never shoulda fallen in with you, Malcolm Reynolds.” She sighed, forced to apply her lipstick with her unharmed left arm. Malcolm Reynolds looked up at her from the floor. “Kiss me,” he said fiercely. “Kiss me quick!” …………………………………………….. “People are so weak, don’t you think?” Renway Stenner was looking at his wife across the curve of a corner barroom table. She was stroking his hand. “And blind – can’t see their own weakness. Not until it’s reflected in the face of someone – superior.” He gestured to the empty seats beside them. “Then they’re afraid of him.” The woman nodded sympathetically. “I get that. Folks realise you’re different – can’t find the potential in themselves to – even aspire to… And yet you still, you struggle on – dragging them up, helping them rise outta their own mud, to walk in the world… erect… and with strength – like you.” She kept her eyes on his. Stenner looked rueful. “Yet they call me a monster.” The woman grasped his hands now. “They call you a monster? Sweetheart… I think it makes you some kind of a hero.” She leaned in close. But there was the sudden interrupting presence of a large man behind her. Stenner looked up. “Talking of Heroes. Ah, Mr Reynolds – good of you to join us.” Malcolm Reynolds inclined his head in acknowledgement. “I would ask if you slept well, Mr Reynolds – but people so rarely do here, there seems little point.” Mal smiled with a downturn of his mouth, sat himself down. Stenner gestured to his wife. “Dorothy this is Malcolm – I believe you’re already acquainted.” Dorothy snorted. “Me? With this big palookas?” Mal smiled pleasantly. “I believe your elbow has been introduced to my rib.” “Woman was born of a man’s rib…” Stenner was gazing deep into his glass. “I was told you two were arguing last night upstairs.” “We… mighta had some words, yeah…” Reynolds glared at Dorothy. “Well I was on my way to sing – and hell, you were just plain clumsy and” – “And I was trying to apologise and – and didn’t you tell him all this?” Renway cut the squabbling couple off. “I was out last night. Business. And it’s business we should be talking about.” Reynolds nodded but Dorothy obviously wanted the last word. “And for why honey? You trust this guy?” Stenner laughed coldly. “It’s not a matter of trust my dear – it’s a question of employment. Even heroes need employment.” He turned to Reynolds. “Isn’t that right Captain? I know of your hatred for the Alliance – but those days are gone. You’ve won a battle since, I grant you – dented public confidence – a smidgeon – when you blew the whistle on things best left alone… but the war is still over.” He smiled. “Y’know how you can tell the losing side after a war Captain Reynolds? They’re the one’s out looking for work.” Mal’s fingers were taut on the table edge. “Looking for work – ain’t looking for insults.” There was a tense moment. It was Dorothy suddenly who broke the tension. “Come on Boys, play nice.” Stenner nodded. Grinned. “Certainly – I’m very sorry Captain Reynolds – I believe my nerves are frayed – yes dear,” he smiled at his wife, “even I get edgy. Last night was… difficult – but the delivery has been arranged.” Mal lowered his voice, “the… ‘Table’?” Stenner seemed amused by this. “The table… yes Captain. I just need to sort out a few details. But you’ll be ready?” “Willin’ an’ able.” “Waiting on a table.” Stenner laughed. “I like that.” He rose. “Well, I’ll be back shortly – and then it’s action stations. Mal,” he kissed his wife on the cheek, “Dot’.” Dorothy murmered a Chinese endearment and Renway moved away. Mal turned to the man’s wife. “So, does he have it?” Dorothy laughed. “Ain’t that always a man? Just got to know, got to compete, comparing -” Reynolds grabbed her by the shoulder. “The diamond – Saffron – does he have the damn diamond?” She knocked his arm away. “Yes – you piece of crap. He has the ruttin’ diamond.” ………………………………………… “Now wait a gorram minute – you can’t be serious!” Jayne Cobb had leapt back from the table as though it were electrified. “Oh – I’m very serious,” said Malcolm Reynolds. “You are too aren’t you Doc’?” Simon Tam gazed around the anxious looking Serenity crew. “Yes. Yes I am.” He drew a breath. “Putting the Captain amongst Stenner’s men only gets us so far – not close enough. We would have to rely on an opportunistic moment. With someone really on the inside…” “Deep cover.” Shepherd Face was the only the one not registering alarm. Simon smiled. “Yes, thank you Shepherd. Deep cover… a technical term. Well with someone like that – we can plan properly – and move seperately with more than one aim.” Zoe cocked an eyebrow. “You mean snatch the mobile surgery AND the diamond?” Simon nodded. “Maybe – if they are separated. But also – we can find out what Stenner’s up to…” “Torture. You said.” Face looked grim. “But for whom?” Tam’s earnestness was only unsettling the crew further. Reynolds placed a palm down on the table. “Well ok – what has our man been up to of late?” Dr Tam clicked the projector, one final image. An Alliance photo – blurred – some children filing into a vehicle. “This is a security feed from the Fruition Centre on Valticos – an elite school – these children are being evacuated.” The crew were attentive once more. “A few months ago – the place was shut down – the children taken off world. I have no idea where – or why exactly. But they were… distressed.” Captain Reynolds leaned forward. “And our man?” Simon pointed with his finger at a figure, hunched as though against a great wind, half hidden by the flaps of a coat. “There.” There was a low torrent of Chinese from Serenity’s mechanic. “Those children?” Kaylee was pale. Captain Reynolds placed his other palm down – a gesture of finality. “Under the circumstances, I think it likely that Saffron… is the least that – man – deserves.” “Agreed.” Zoe was resolved. Reynolds nodded. “Let’s go to work.” The crew got to their feet quickly. “Who’s Saffron?” called out the Shepherd, vainly. …………………………………………… A stone whistles through the air. Falls with a muted PLOP! Renway Stenner and Malcolm Reynolds stood outside the barn-like, two-storey shack that the Captain had been living in. Gazing out at the dusk scented bay. Stenner threw another stone, idly, out toward the unmoving waters. “Seems to me, you’ve been coming out of Hades – and into the Habitations – just to yell my name. Talking about how I might just be holding a somewhat priceless diamond. I am a modest man Captain. Well, no – actually I’m really not – genius should know its worth.” He grinned. Mal tossed a stone out himself. “Got a man on my crew might be agreeing with you there.” The stone skipped and skimmed across the flat surface of the water. In the gathering dark, the ripples it made, if any, could not be seen. “At any rate Captain – you’ve got my attention – and I’m assuming that’s what you wanted.” Stenner turned in the shadows, spreading his arms. “I may have an object of value – I may have more than one… I may be expecting delivery of… another.” Mal knew better than to interrupt. “Objects of value need protection Mr Reynolds. And deliveries require transport. Seems to me you have muscle – and a ship.” “Agreed.” “Now I can get BOTH – in time, but I shall be honest and tell you that I am not a patient man. Call that my weakness.” “Ok, I will. I think Your weakness just found itself a little busines.” “Then my weakness is very glad – and I would like to offer you a job.”

…………………………………………………. End of pt 3


Episode 4 · nabbing - grabbing - blabbing

With a cold hiss the Alliance medical transport landed in the darkness. There was a dull metallic rumbling and a hatchway opened like a refrigerator door. Even in the hot Navaha backwater night – the Alliance cast a chill. The tall figure of Malcolm Reynolds stepped up from out of the night. He was instantly spot lit. Armed figures dashed down the vehicles side rampings and covered him. Seconds later, more figures emerged from the craft wheeling a large and ominously coffin shaped object. There was a civilian with them – in rags and shackles. Reynolds waved a slow hand. “This the Table?” A dark figure came out from behind the object. Like Reynolds, he was holding a pistol. “Browncoat trash – no/one said we were dealing with”- Dr Renway Stenner came out from the shadows. “No need for nastiness – this is strictly business. I need to see that my equipment is functioning.” Reynolds smiled at the guard. “Fella don’t like nastiness. Don’t that make for a pleasant change.” Stenner was pointing at the child. “Who’s this?” The girl in question, whimpered – tried to hide behind her guard. Another uniformed figure came down the ramp, grabbed her chains and forced her into the light. He looked at Stenner. “One of yours. You don’t recognise her? She’s got your school stamped all over her.” Stenner cupped the girls face in his hands. Stared into the wild face. “Feral now…” He sighed. “They all looked alike to me.” He let the child’s head drop back. “Where d’you find this one? I thought the place was… cleansed… when they – when you – threw me out.” The man in the uniform had produced a scanner and was waving it at the metal object. “Sources told us she was the one who whistle blew – maybe – she was at our hospital. A happy… accident. Figured, she’s the only one of your children left – you might want to ‘talk’ to her.” Stenner looked thoughtful. “I might at that. Now let me check the Accu-Gate.” The object was wheeled closer – Stenner gesturing to Mal, whose gun had not wavered. “If this is a trap.” Stenner murmured. “They’ll spring it now.” He had picked up a heavy case. But there were no sudden movements as the Doctor opened a unit in the side of the machine. Clicked switches. “So far so…” He nodded at Mal as he hefted the case, holding it on both sides and operating a hidden mechanism. Reynolds waved away the curious Alliance on-lookers. There was a hum and the lock on the case was open. The top of the case lifted up. Stenner kept it balanced. Reynolds took what was inside and, turning, inserted it into the large machine. There was a pause. The pause lengthened. “What the hell?” “Boss?” Reynolds leaned in, fanning his gun arm out at the same time. “Something wrong?” A perplexed looking Dr Stenner had dropped his case and was thumping the machine. With a curse he pulled his object back from inside. “This!” He yelled. “It’s a fake!” He waved a large white crystal. “It’s a damn fake – how? I don’t –“ He shook his head once, anger blanching the cheeks. “Dorothy….” He raised the crystal now like a weapon. “My wife…” Reynolds looked concerned. “Told you not to trust that Dien Chi**##!!” Stenner gestured into the dark. “She’ll be trying to leave – right now. Stop her Mal.” Obeying the order, Reynolds raced into the night. Stenner turned to the Alliance crew. “No payment till this is working – understand.” There was a hubbub of complaint – but Stenner was suddenly commanding, pulling a communicator from his pocket and yelling instructions. Quite suddenly his rage exploded and he threw the chained girl into the side of the craft. “D’you see – all this – all this because of your whining tongue!” The girl cringed. ………………………… “Now would be a good time to run.” Malcolm Reynolds was standing in a room at the Navaha Hotel. Breathing hard – his face smeared with dust and the insects caught up as he had raced the mini-mule here. Stenner’s wife looked up from packing a rucksack. “Oh? He suspects me huh.” She leaned back, flicking strands of fiery hair back, behind her ears. “Already. Quick as that.” She let fly an unexpected fist – sending Malcolm crashing to the floor. “You piece of crap! You sold me out – you and your ‘This time we’ll make an honest woman of you’, go-se!” Reynolds waved at her from the floor – a smile flickered at the edges of his mouth. “Now – now, it weren’t like that! Things just moved fast is all.” “Hell – I aint even the one with the ruttin’ ice!” There was the sound of running feet from outside. “You can tell your husband that when you see him.” Mal was beginning to sit up. The woman standing over him swore. Turning on one foot she grabbed a gun from a side table. Reynolds was on his feet. “Out the window.” His voice was urgent. “We can drop to the balcony below and head for the stables from back inside.” “You parked your mule in the stables?!” Reynolds said nothing – simply kicked open the window and leapt. There was a heavy knocking on the hotel room door. Needing no further urging, Renway Stenner’s wife jumped clear. …………………………….. Moments later – The pair had re-entered the hotel and were racing along a corridor. Booted feet were close behind them. …………………………….. Moments after that – Mal was dead and the wounded woman was kissing his corpse. ………………………. “Education. It is – quite simply – the greatest gift that one intelligence can bestow upon another.” Renway Stenner was lecturing. He moved around the cramped interior of the transport proudly. His voice was smooth and his eye forever upon the middle distance. He was, clearly, insane. This was not helpful information to the people near him; a chained girl and a bound and wounded woman. “Giving life – that is quite easy – a moments effort. Not…” – he gazed down at the woman wearing the gag. – “unpleasing, perhaps, but always with messy repercussions. Death – that too is simple – ask your Captain Mal. Well, ask his corpse – as soon my incompetents have claimed it. Seems some folk don’t know the value of a corpse.” He had picked up a small instrument from a metal dish. A drill. “Since I lack the payment for my surgery – and the key to operate it – I am afraid, my dear Dorothy, that my means of interrogation will be necessarily crude. They shall not, however, be ineffective – and they will, as I have promised – be an educational experience.” The drill began to whir. Dorothy’s eyes were wide and dark. The girl in chains began to mutter. “Be quiet you mad wreckage!” Yelled Stenner. “And don’t worry – by the time I get to you, my surgery will be in full working order.” He smiled suddenly – and as if on a whim tore the gag free from his wife. She retched. “There now” Stenner was still smiling. “I should at least offer you the chance to beg and plead and – oh, whatever else you may want to do right about now.” The woman spat. “I’m not that weak.” Stenner nodded, regarding her. “True. And, of all the people I have met lately – you are the only one who seemed to grasp what I was trying to do – to show people – a better way to be…” The woman’s eyes blinked now. Her voice had dropped. “Yes… I could see that – I felt a part of something… greater – just for a moment.” Stenner nodded. “But you were lying of course.” He applied the drill. Ignored the screams. There was a knock and the door to the tiny cell opened. A uniformed figure came in carrying a tray, some pills and a glass of water. “Ahh… refreshments.” Stenner popped one of the pills and sipped a small mouthful of water. Placed the tray next to his open case. He waved at the woman. Ignored the child. “But where are my manners” He chided aloud. “Surely it would be better to dress for dinner, hmm?” He reached slowly into his case and drew out of it two neat blue gloves. …………………………

end of pt 4


Episode 5 · Reading and Learning and Getting an Education

There is a band – there is a stage, an audience, smoke, light – shadow and noise. There is a piano player who starts a number – flaring a grin out and above the crowd. At least one of his teeth catches and holds the light, a glitter bright smile. The singer moves easily into the centre stage with a trained finesse and a dancer’s poise. Her eyes are wide and real and blue – yet they glitter with the same cold light as the piano man’s smile. She wears her red hair long and plaited. She wears a dress of sheer purple. Her curves and lines move with an astrolabes precision. She has small and delicate hands and she holds her audience in them. Her voice is low and husked. And she sings: Diamonds are Forever – Diamonds a Girl’s Best Friend… Diamonds tell the tallest tale – Diamonds make my Happy End… ……………………………….. “Now you’re learning.” Renway Stenner stood looking down at the bruised figure of his wife. He ran a blue-gloved hand through her hair. “Now you know about power – punishment… important things, without which, values mean nothing.” His wife looked up groggily. “Yes… I… understand.” Renway smiled. “No, you can’t possibly. But you’re eager to please – that’s a start. Where’s my diamond, Dorothy?” The gloved hand stroked again. “Do you know what it’s like to be exiled?” – The woman nodded. – “Really? I mean ‘exiled’ not merely a vagabond or,” he pointed at the young girl cowering in the corner, “a refugee.” A dirty word, “Refugee… refuge – seeking refuge… refuse… trash, detritus – refuse, well you are refuse. Hmm – refuse, to refuse – well, you did refuse your education – so, interesting.”He looked back at his wife. “They were supposed to be ‘gifted’. Ha! They REFUSED the gift.” His wife nodded. “Yes, yes, an education – they were dumb after all.” “Quite. Yes, dumb animals… and they were lead away. My people were…” He clenched a blue hand tightly, “displeased.” The other hand reached up with the drill once more. “Where – is – my – diamond?” His wife shook her head. “I don’t – I don’t have it… I was just an informant – just distraction – to keep you off-balance… Mal-colm…Reynolds, he had the ice.” There was an ugly pause. Stenner laughed. Loudly. “Ha! – Of curse, he switched it – the oldest trick! Well, well. That is MY lesson then – never forget the classics!” He laughed uproariously again. “Well, I believe you now leastways, you have told me the truth.” He pressed a blue hand onto the bullet broken shoulder. His wife bit back a scream, consciousness shorting out inside her eyes. “The truth shall set you free, Dorothy.” He pressed harder. “You are so very nearly free. You gave me truth and I give you… well, what more is there?” “Love,” said a voice. “There is love.” Stenner turned drill in hand. The child he had overlooked was standing and looking at him. She was clearly free of her chains. Despite himself, Stenner took a step back. “You? You pathetic – what could you know of -” “Quite a lot actually.” A second voice, there was a man in the doorway. Wearing an Alliance uniform. He was smiling at the girl. “Who are you?” demanded Stenner. “I’m her brother.” With an unexpected and demented roar – Stenner lunged at the man, knocking him to the floor. The drill screeched angrily in Renway’s hand. Stenner opened his mouth to speak but closed it again, feeling cold metal at his temple. “Now, now,” rasped a voice, tired, but unmistakeably that of Malcolm Reynolds. “If the Doctors start killing each other – what’ll the sick folks do?” He gestured with the gun and Renway stepped slowly out of the compartment. Another armed man, half out uniform, his dark chest gleaming under the access corridor lights, was covering him. “Shepherd,” said Mal. “He’s in your care, for now.” The Shepherd nodded, beckoning Stenner forwards along the cramped interior toward another tiny door – for what seemed little less than a storage cupboard. Reynolds had already turned away. There was a flurry of activity. Simon Tam had taken River’s hand and was peering at her with concern “Are you Ok? Did you – ‘read’ him?” River nodded. “No love in him – just darkness.” Her voice was thin. “I don’t remember yet – his – the things… it was dark. I don’t want to look. Do I have to remember?” She looked at Simon wildly. He shook his head. “Not now. Not now.” “Doc’” Reynolds was examining Stenner’s wife, freeing her from her bonds. She was clutching at him feebly. “This is a nasty gun wound.” Simon stepped across. “Yes – we’ve got to get to Serenity quickly.” He was out the door and running, River close behind him. Mal slicked back some of the woman’s pain damped hair, gently. “I’m sorry Saffron – didn’t expect it to play this way.” He looked at her eyes for acknowledgement. She seemed to want to speak, to be gathering herself for one last effort. He leant forward to hear – and the head butt, when it came, was sudden and effective. He sagged onto the metal floor. Saffron released herself into unconsciousness then. Smiling. ………………………………. The Shepherd and Stenner were standing by the door in the wall. Simon and River hurtled past them. Stenner started his sentence again. “Now, you’re a man of Faith, Shpherd. I respect that. Faith, at least, is an aspiration – a desire for something higher.” The Shepherd said nothing – as the flying vehicle lurched slightly, he braced himself against the door latch. His other hand was on Stenner’s shoulder. It was clear he did not want to bandy words. Stenner seemed to recognise this but was determined to finish before entering his cell. “But you too are weak, Shepherd. You’re all alike… people with ‘Faith’ don’t push their own potentials – they hide from things – truths they cannot accept … and they dress up this weakness and make a virtue of it – and call it ‘conscience’.They call it ‘mercy’ Slaves. You may lock me away – but I am not a slave.” “Well…” the Shepherd spoke finally. “I s’pose we all have lessons to learn.” He depressed the lock and – in a roar of alarms and depressurised air – threw Renway Stenner out of the craft. “And yea, he that causes pain and torment and suffering to be reeked upon his fellow man… let him, like Satan, be cast out, howling, into utter darkness.” The hatch slammed closed. “All alike my ass,” he added. ………………………………………. In the cockpit of the craft Zoe moved the controls with a practiced air, ignoring the scowls of the big man sat beside her. “We’re nearly home Kaylee. Hold on.” She was talking to the intercom. “Shiny,” came the reply, “That’s my baby you’re flying. I didn’t fight to keep her – just to lose her on a re-entry.” Zoe nodded to herself, clicking the switches above her head. “Wash’s baby too.” There was a pause on the comm’ circuit, then – “Yeah…” The transport – not quite the Alliance medical it claimed – headed toward the welcoming bay of Serenity. Moments later Simon Tam was wheeling the stretchered figure of Saffron off to the medical bay – and the Shepherd was carrying Mal to his cabin. ………………………………………. Saffron struggled, pale faced as she tried to rise from the med bay couch, lip bitten back, hand touching the rawness of her wound. She looked at the doctor and noddded in comprehension. “It was you I guess, Dr Tam as tracked me? You found me… now I owe you my life.” She was smiling now despite the pain, but her voice still came in tiny gasps. “I thought I musta been dumb leavin some kinda obvious trail – but now I’m glad of the fact.” Tam eased back the bandage – cleaning and re-dressing the wound. Oddly, it did not appear to be quite as bad as he’d imagined. He was relieved. He shook his head. “It wasn’t obvious, you can be very… subtle when you want to be – I just – I had access to the security visuals.” “So you saw me – on TV?” “Uh-huh” Saffron’s smile began to widen, opening out like a pair of welcoming arms. “Did you – was I good… to watch? Simon?” Tam drew back – and instant rage lit saffron’s face like a flare. “God – what IS it with you people! you’re not human!” Simon shuffled uneasily. “I – I’m a doctor saffron, I have to be more than human – I have to be… humane.” Saffron flinched – as though struck. “Is it inhumane to feel Simon? – you can feel can’t you, you have… feelings, I know – for your sister… for River – you love her don’t you.” “Of course I do.” “But do you Simon? Do you even know what love is?” “I think so.” Eyes soft with understanding, Saffron leaned forward her finger tips touching the doctor’s shoulder. “Have you ever been with a woman, Simon? Put away your scanners and your stethoscope – you don’t need them to listen to a heart… I can hear yours right now…” ………………………………………. Swimming back to consciousness – Malcolm Reynolds wondered vaguely what he was coming round from; the gun shot wound – the narcoleptic lip stick he had needed to play possum – the head butt. Life had been showing its rusty edges of late. As always these days seemingly, his eyes focused on those of Shepherd Face. “You just – keep bringing me back from the dead, Shepherd.” “I hear Lazarus complainin’?” Reynolds sat up slowly, taking in his surroundings – he was in his cabin. “No – no, I aint ready to slip my coil just yet. What am I…?” He gestured. “Oh, I found you – again – laid you here – you aint heard none really – not after the drugs and the patching up we did on you before.” Reynolds could still feel the tight grip of the bandages under his shirt. “And Stenner?” Face clenched his jaw. “Cat’s in the well”, he said simply. Reynolds started to react – then stopped. He was patting his legs rapidly. “You on fire Son?” Face raised his eyebrows. “Gorram!” Reynolds threw up his arms. “She took the damn diamond!” He spluttered for a moment, before. “Where the hell is Saffron now?” “Med-bay.” The Shepherd told him. “Dr Tam said she was hurt pretty bad – he” “Did he now. That…” cursing in the Galactic tongue, Reynolds staggered past the Shepherd and out onto the Serenity walkway. ………………………………………. Swimming back to consciousness, Simon Tam reflected that as a surgeon he had put many people to sleep – even his sister. But the times had been unconscious himself were few. He never liked it. Groped with his fingers and came slowly to his feet, his head woozy and his tongue thick. He wasn’t even sure if he remembered what had happened, and where – He found himself suddenly pinned against a wall and fighting for air. Powerful hands were wrapped around his throat. An angry face was staring at him – the eyes in the face were hard and dark and slightly mad. “Captain!” Simon gasped. “What?” His voice choked off. Mal was himself lost for words – he shook himself, and Simon, for good measure. Eventually he opened his mouth and growled. ”You – you are a piece of work Doctor. If I hadn’t come along before – hell, maybe I shoulda let Stenner kill you.” He relaxed his grip. Slightly. Doctor Tam breathed gratefully. “I don’t – I don’t know what – when – you were unconscious.” “Oh – I was shot and beat and drugged half to hell alright – but that weren’t nothing – coz I come too, all new and mended… and find that MY SHIP has been turned into a… with that man loose – and yr’own kin…” He ran out of words once more. “River was never in any danger – I swear Captain.” “Oh I don’t doubt it – Chi**n Mai Ph**g – but you made her a part of it.” “River understands…” “That girl’s, your sister – she’d jump off a cliff an’ clean onto a nest a spikes an’ if you asked her!” He swore again. “You USED her. To get what you wanted – you made her a torturer.” “Torture, Captain – what? We never – I never tortured Stenner.” Simon looked taken aback. “No, that’s right. You just sat back and waited. Watched him – and Saffron. – J*n Mi**g Ch*! – You didn’t torture him for the information – you tortured HER.” Tam’s face was unreadable. “But think Captain – all the secrets – who Stenner worked for – in the war, on both sides – and all he did with the Blue Sun Corporation – the, the… schools he was involved with…River will KNOW. She’ll have read them.” “Or you hope so – I look forward to hearing it from her – and I look forward to hearing you explain to my crew, to Zoe, just what… And this – this was in your mind from the start? Well, I’VE a mind to”- His hands were back around Simon’s throat. “I’m touched Mal, really.” The woman’s voice came from nowhere. Reynolds leapt to a wall communicator. Punched buttons. “Zoe?” “It’s a shuttle Captain, one of ours – right along side. Got the call to patch through to you – a minute ago.” “Don’t try to find me Mal – and don’t feel bad – I’ve had…worse times.” Mal shook his head. “Well, you are – something. You got my diamond of course.” “THE diamond – as in, MY diamond now Captain? Yeah… I got it. Seems fair.” “Oh you think?” “Sure. Everything of value can be exchanged – and every exchange can have value. I learned that…” Her voice was heavy with emphasis now. “From a teacher, at a school, once.” If the crew were expecting snappy comebacks – they were to be disappointed. “Seems to me I heard that myself, once.” “Well – you got what you wanted from me – and I got the diamond. Let’s leave it at that.” There was the audible sound of switches being pressed. Mal started to say something – but the woman cut him off with a sarcastic -“Don’t get all mushy on me, Prince.” A moment later she added, “Goodbye Mal.” After a while, Malcolm Reynolds turned away from the wall.

END. ………………………………………….


The Legend of Badger – Nance:

Closing his eyes, Badger allowed himself a moment to listen his mind to the soothing words of a favourite song – music to soothe the savage breast or wotever… Maybe it’s coz I’m from Londinium – that I love… He opened his eyes and regarded the object in his hand, placed it slowly on his desk and spoke – in a slow, measured – professional voice. “It’s not a weapon you twonk – it’s a game”.

Badger smiled with his mouth – beady eyes blearing around the office – strewn with the troves and hoardings of… how many years now? The shiny and the glittering and the worth some gorram coin. If you ignored the flickering power to the lights – the fact that the Blue Station Vii was always off and the toilets didn’t work. There was however an apple – fat, green and daily – sat on the desk. Priceless. An apple a day keeps the doctor away – and the punters in their place. Right. “Where was I?”

“It’s a game.” “Oh, yeah right – DARTS mate, sport of the ancients – back from the Earth-that-Was. Back when it was Publicans versus The Bill – or… – don’t you know yer ‘istory? And – Oy! Am I boring you?” “Sorry Mr B – It’s just – if I could sit down.”

Badger sighed, pacing on his restless bowlegs. “Awright awright – somebody get this bloke a chair!” It is always very satisfying watching underlings do the… undering. He looked hard at the solid form of the seated man. A little nervous looking – but a bit of the mean in there too. Dancin’ round the corners of the eyes. Interesting…

“Feelin’ better? Spiffin’. I like my crew to keep happy.”

There was a none-too subtle tittering from the open alcoves adjoining the office. “Knock it off! – You see? We like our… fun. Mister…?” “Square, Albert Square.”

“Well Mr Square – I gather you’re lookin’ fer work on account of the unfortunate demise of your guv’ner one… Rennway Stenner - nasty piece of work – or so I hear. Alliance. Can’t say as I take too kindly to Alliance.”

The man in the chair looked up. “You’d like ‘em a lot more if fings had gorn right an’ Reynolds was dead.”

Badger bounced the distance between the desk and the chair in two swift movements. “Reynolds? Did you say… Reynolds?” “Yeah, thas right. Malcolm Reynolds – bleedin’ Browncoat ponce if ever I saw one.” “Well, well – I’ve met the bloke – kept ‘im his place too – yeh, he’s up ‘imself is that one.” “Too right.”

Badger pulled his hat from his head – a worn bowler – and his most prized possession. “You see this hat – my most and very FAVOURITE hat? Bastard shot me through this hat once – took weeks to get it repaired. Still…” He tapped the top – and there was the dull noise of steel under the fabric. “It fixed up a treat.” He popped it back on his head. “Any’ow – what brings you to me – Mr Square – that is – why ME exactly.” “I ‘eard you was on the up n up.” “Straight up.” The two men shared a common chuckle.

“Well – you ‘eard right – ‘specially compared to some geezers like Fanty and Mingo whose names I won’t even bovver mentioning.” He spat. “Slick – they think themselves – so very bleedin’ slick. Any’ow – It says ‘ere…” - a rustle of paper – real paper, mind, - “that you have proved to be a stone cold killer. Vicious. That true?” Albert nodded enthusiastically – the plied wave of his grey hair, bobbing. “Oh not ‘alf.”

Badger nodded. “Hmm… you got anyone in your sights now? Anyfing you oughta be telling me?” “Jus’ Reynolds – Mr B. I see ‘im – and pop goes THAT weasel. Har har! I got it from a very reliable source that you have dealings wiv the fella.” “Needs must Mr Square – needs must – can’t pretend I wouldn’t wanna see the man brought dahn a peg or two…” “Exactly. Well, when I see’s ‘im – I kills ‘im. Nice an’ simple. – I heard you don’t do no killin’ yourself – bit of a nance – I mean a bit refined that way.” “That what I HIRE people for – it’s beneath me – awright? I’m a business man – I aint gonna sully my lily whites with wet-work.” “Right you are boss, right you are. I’ll do it for yer.” “Do what exactly.” “Kill Reynolds.” “That might not be so easy.” “Nah – I can take ‘im – he aint nuthin but a stuffed shirt anyway.” “Well he is something else actually.” “Wha’s that then?” “Well he is stood behind ya with a gun at yer back.” “Eh? Oh… Oh. Bollocks.”

Malcolm Reynolds tapped Albert firmly on the shoulder with the barrel of his pistol. “Now, now – ALBERT – aint no call for that kinda language. We can communicate in a civilised way, surely? I mean – we’re all gentleman here right?” Badger groaned. “See? Up himself.” Albert twisted in his seat – his face registering confusion and anger and then – unconsciousness… as the steel bowler connected with his head…all things considered, his fall to the floor was remarkably graceful. “Call me a nance…” said Badger.

Reynolds shook his head with mock disapproval. “Now that aint no way to treat a – hat, is it? Leastways one so precious to you…” “Shut it Sergeant.”

The tall Captain scowled. “Hey hey – we getting’ personal now – don’t recall you saying anything about getting me down here to trade insults.” He regarded the fallen Albert. “Not that I aint grateful to” –

“Bloody right you are!” Badger pounced. “You owe me big time for this.” The Captain nodded ruefully. “Fine, ok then – I grant you. Under the circumstances we can safely call things… even. Might say as how we’re… ‘square’.” “Even? Don’t think joking’s gonna – you OWE me.” “Even.” Firmly. “Owe me!” outraged. “Even.” Brooking no argument. “OWE me.” Livid. “Even.” “Owe.” And on and on around the sun…



Thursday, December 27, 2007 4:00 AM


The Captain nodded ruefully. “Fine, ok then – I grant you. Under the circumstances we can safely call things… even. Might say as how we’re… ‘square’.”

“Even? Don’t think joking’s gonna – you OWE me.”

“Even.” Firmly.

“Owe me!” outraged.

“Even.” Brooking no argument.

“OWE me.” Livid.



And on and on around the sun…


Lol I could immagine Mal and Badger bickering - hilarious :D I really enjoyed this, it really cheered me up. Well done!

Keep flying ;)

Friday, December 28, 2007 6:27 PM


I missed this when you first posted. So glad you reposted. I really enjoyed the story, and especially your dialogue. Excellent stuff.

Monday, December 31, 2007 2:28 PM


You can't say "movie" in what people will think of, as a movie.


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Independently Blue parts complete 3 parts
just a coda to wrap things up is all.

Bell, Book and Candle - pt 5. Conclusion.
CONCLUSION: While the Serenity crew are at gun-point, Inara has persuaded the leader of the men to stand down. However, as a hysterical River flees the ship, the shooting starts.
Meantime – Mal and the LoveBot™ Sebastian are en-route to find Jossiah Bell and the missing Shepherd Book.

Bell, Book and Candle pt 4
Book has been vanished. Serenity taken hostage. Mal is getting annoyed. Kaylee's getting curious. Inara is getting ambassadorial.

Bell, Book and Candle Pt 3
new chapter: Pt 3 of 5. The crew held hostage, Mal off to settle a score, Book in a very strange shop...

Bell, Book and Candle pt 2
Serenity has found a cargo of wine is actually oil.
There are complications. Book and Kaylee are taking in the town of Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle - pt 1
New Fic. Pt 1. The Serenity crew at work and... not so much,
serious and - not so much.
Easing myself back into the game with this curio.

The Wages of Sihnon - CONCLUSION
Inara and Saffron are on Sihnon, attending a ceremony between Companions and Shepherds. Radha Brook and Phil Yip are also there investigating some missing girls.

The Wages of Sihnon - pt 5 (of 6)
Having been summoned to Sihnon, Inara is attending a Temple shindig between the Guild and The Shepherds. For reasons not yet fully explained, Saffron is with her. Phil Yip and Radha Brook are investigating the disappearance of some young Companions in Training.

The wages of Sihnon pt 4 (of 6)
Inara has been summoned to Sihnon to liaise in meetings between the Shepherds and the Guild. Meantime some trainee companions are missing and GIA Agent Radha and Private 'Tec Phil Yip are investigating. Saffron appears to be in cahoots with Inara and is disguised as a novice companion.
This chapter - a nosy journalist and the High Priestess.

The Wages of Sihnon - pt 3
Inara has been summoned to Sihnon where the Shepherds are visiting. She has brought with her a young woman to act as aide to the Abbott. Meantime some Trainee Companions are missing from a shuttle and the Guild have apparently sent Radha Brook to investigate. Phil Yip, an irritable detective for a private security firm is also on the case.