Snowball - Chapter 11 The Conclusion
Monday, January 21, 2008

Life on Hawthorne will never be the same, now that our BDH’s have escaped.


Summary – Life on Hawthorne will never be the same, now that our BDH’s have escaped.

If you haven’t read the whole thing, I would recommend going back to -

Of course - Its Joss’s world and his characters, but I sure am enjoying playing with them.

Thanks to Mal4prez for all her time and effort, reading, coaching and encouraging.

I have really enjoyed sharing this with all of you, thanks for all the great comments.


Chapter 11

“Lieutenant?” asked the young desk clerk in the primly starched uniform, holding out a brown expanding folder wrapped in elastic that looked as if it was stuffed full with documents. “This arrived by special currier.”

Lieutenant John Savage, chief of detectives over the homicide division at the Hawthorne Central Enforcement Agency, reached for the packet of papers, removed the elastic and opened the package. “What kind of currier?” he asked dryly after glancing briefly at the title listed on the topmost article and reclosing the package.

The desk clerk shuffled his feet as he answered, “Delivery service from the print shop on Second Avenue, sir. Seems this information was sent in via the cortex with special instructions for it to be printed and hand delivered to you personally. You have to sign, sir.”

The desk clerk handed him a signature pad, which he signed without hesitation. An event of this sort was unusual, but not unprecedented. Occasionally someone wanted the homicide division to have certain information, but did not want to be responsible for providing it, particularly when the implicated party was well connected and well known for the removal of obstacles. Unfortunately, information received in this manner was incorrect as often as it was accurate. Either way, all information received without a proper trail of discovery was illegal to use for prosecution. The information in this packet would have to be verified and, if truthful, rediscovered. Even so, rediscovering things is easiest when you know where to look; it would be helpful to have a line on its source.

“I’d like to speak to this currier,” the Lieutenant requested. “Ask him to come here please.”

The clerk stepped out, returning a few moments later with a scraggly bearded man dressed in a green uniform shirt, a green speeder-bike helmet under his arm.

The Lieutenant gestured for the currier to have a seat before speaking. “What can you tell me about this package, Mr. uh -” he glanced at the man’s name tag, “Anderson.”

“Not much, it was a cortex order.”

Savage stared at the currier, demanding more information. He looked nervous; either he was involved or it was his first time inside central enforcement. These civilians always think we’re going to lock them up just for walking in the building, Savage thought wistfully.

The currier kept squirming in his seat as he finely added, “we were to print three sets of these documents and deliver them to three specified locations.”

“Who paid for them?”

“There was just an account number, sir. We made sure the account was solid before we printed, but we didn’t seek out the name, that’s our procedure.” Again an event that was unusual but not unprecedented. He had the feeling that someone really did not want his or her name to get out.

Lieutenant Savage opened up the package again, and pulled out the thick stack of documents, this time taking a more careful look, feeling his stomach hitting the floor as he did so. The paper on top was an article entitled “Cardiac implications of Hztriethospine compounds,” by Donavon Espinoza. He flipped through the documents. The first eight were similar, academic articles on chemical compounds. These were followed by a crime scene report stating the lack of blood found near the body was not consistent with a gunshot as a primary cause of death. The rest f the documents were financial statements. He would have to examine them carefully, but at first glance it looked like movements of money within Espinoza family accounts.

Now it was the Lieutenant’s turn to squirm –he was being paid to suppress just this type of information. He and his superiors both had to make sure nothing ever involved anyone in the Espinoza family. Not just for the payoff but for the sake of their security and that of their families, this information could not get out. Donovan Espinoza called the shots here at Central. If he wanted some low life transport captain implicated in the murder of his brother, than that’s what was going to happen.

He took a deep breath and set the package aside on his desk. He would shred them momentarily. Then suddenly something else the currier had said registered in his mind and he started to sweat anew.

“Mr. Anderson?” he asked the currier, “You said there were three of these packages printed. I trust I am the first one to be delivered.”

“No sir, the order specified you to be the last. I delivered the other two earlier today, one to the Hawthorne Capitol Gazette and the other to someone at Interplanetary Network News. I can give you the names of the people who signed for them if you want.”

The currier smiled, he actually thought he was being helpful, considered the lieutenant. The dolt must have no idea that he just delivered the lieutenants death warrant, as well as his own.


“Are you glad to be leaving the Core?” Inara asked earnestly. Her feet were dangling off the center landing of the stairs at the back of the cargo bay where she sat sipping tea with Mal. They had spent many evenings here on the cargo bay landing over the past year, sometimes drinking Kaylee’s ship produced wine, sometimes just sipping tea. More often than not, they ended up saying mean things to each other.

Mal looked at her as if she had just asked how he liked her new horns. “Let’s see,” he said. “Are Reavers flesh eating monsters? Is the Alliance a self serving corrupt he chusheng zajiao de zanghuo? Does Jayne like women?”

Inara couldn’t help it; she burst into laughter, shaking so hard that the tea cup sitting in its saucer on her lap rattled; the hot liquid sloshing precariously near the edge. When she calmed enough to look over at Mal, he seemed to have caught her laughter, sloshing his own mug that he held in his one free hand, his other arm trussed to his body in a sling.

He was probably just laughing because of all the pain meds Simon had him on, Inara thought. She was glad he had finally consented to let Simon take a look at his sore shoulder. Why he had to be so stubborn about some things, she had no idea; it drove her nuts. He had insisted that the shoulder was fine, but she’d known different. She’d seen the fall and the large man that had landed on him; besides, Mal winced at the slightest jostle. She had thrown every creative barb she could think of in his direction trying to force him to seek out the doctor; finally after they had cleared Hawthorne space, Mal gave in. Although, that could also have been because Kaylee refused to serve him dinner until he let Simon examine him.

Mal had continued to insist that there was not a thing wrong with him as the entire crew had tromped down to sick bay from the dining room, their dinner growing cold on the stove. Once in the infirmary, Simon had made Mal hold his arm in a series of crazy positions before pronouncing him to have a torn rotator cuff; and informing Mal he would be reporting to him every day for physical therapy.

“I don’t need any therapy, you just give me that sling there and I’ll be fine,” Mal had said, but his protests didn’t last long.

“He’ll be here,” Zoë had informed Simon, giving Mal a look that would have stopped a lion in its tracks.

As Inara looked at Mal now, holding a mug of tea and laughing, she suddenly realized that even with Zoë attempting to force him to do physical therapy, he was going to resist every step of the way.

“But seriously,” Mal said when they finally were able to stop laughing. “It’s good to be leaving, but even better to be leaving with cargo in the hold.”

Inara looked down; past her dangling feet that poked out from below deep wine colored skirts was a large silver box sitting in the middle of the cargo bay, lights blinking on and off along its side. It was hard to imagine that inside that tough exterior was a pussy cat, soft and sweet, but with no qualms about killing you if it thought it needed to. It occurred to her how much that box and the man sitting next to her resembled each other; Inara almost called his attention to it, and then thought better of it. He wouldn’t find it funny.

After a while, she grew weary of thinking.

“Are we going to have enough fuel to get to Beaumonde?” she asked Mal. “We did a great deal of extra flying back there on Hawthorne.”

“Not sure,” he responded. “We may have to hit the Martanno Space Station. Depends on how River plots the course. But it don’t matter, even if we stop, we won’t be going much out of the way. And we did get paid in advance in cashy money.” Mal smiled at how well everything had worked out.

They sat quietly for a few moments sipping tea, this pause seeming not quite as awkward as the last one. Eventually Mal turned and asked her a question.

“And how are you doing?” Mal asked her, “Reavers attacking lately?”

She looked at him solemnly. “You know, they seem a bit farther away this evening.” She smiled at him.

“Yeah? What’s driving them off?” he asked, honestly interested in her emotions.

“I’m not sure.” Inara stared at her toes as she spoke, trying to hide her amazement that he was actually interested in her well being. “Perhaps it was being able to help you get away from that ski patrol entanglement. It feels good to be able to escape from a real situation, whole and intact with everyone still alive. Perhaps it was being able to contribute in so many different ways to the outcome of this little adventure. But, somehow, I once again feel that I can create my own destiny. I haven’t felt that way since, since before.” “It’s good to feel in control of your own destiny,” Mal responded. “Makes a person feel free.”

Inara sipped her tea, thinking about her life. The time she had spent at House Madrassa had been magical, her life at the training house fulfilling, but it was here on Serenity where she felt the most free. Never in her life had she been in less control of her own affairs, her and her work were subject to the number, the location, and the success of Mal’s jobs. But only here, with these people, could she risk being herself.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a small thud and a sharp pain on her lower calf, followed by an icy cold sensation running down her leg.

“Oops, sorry ‘Nara,” Kaylee said. Her voice emanated from behind and below them, coming from the hatch leading to the passenger dorms. “My aim’s just not that good.”

Inara looked down through the metal grating she was sitting on to try and see her friend. Kaylee was hiding behind the hatch and carrying a five gallon bucket about half filled with snow. She stepped into the cargo bay then quickly took cover behind Jayne’s weights, kneeling down to form a handful of snow into a round weapon. She didn’t have time to finish.

Out of the corner of her eye, Inara saw three well aimed snowballs fly at Kaylee from the other side of the cargo bay.

“Hey,” Kaylee yelled, “You said you was out of ammo!”

At the same moment, Mal yelled to the warriors, “I don’t want any frozen water flyin’ though the ship, melting into things it shouldn’t!”

Mal was immediately pelted with snowballs thrown from both behind Jayne’s weight set and from the vicinity of the airlock.

“Don’t be such a curmudgeon, Captain,” Kaylee yelled from below him.

Inara heard the sound of the air lock door opening, and looked up to see a dark blue skirt swirling through it. River must need more snow.

As they had lifted out of The Cottonwoods, the avalanche that had descended upon them had ushered both Jayne and several feet of snow into the ship. While Mal and Zoë had taken the hover mule and Cryo box to collect their cargo, Simon and Jayne had shoveled much of the snow that had landed in the cargo bay out onto the streets of New Glenwood, but by the time the hover craft returned they hadn’t gotten the snow out of the airlock. Mal had declared they would open the door and let the snow get sucked into the vacuum of space once they were deep in the black, but they hadn’t done it yet. Perhaps they wouldn’t either; it seems the snow was quite the source of entertainment for certain members of the crew. It looked like fun.

Three of the snowballs connected with Mal, one missed by inches and one, probably thrown by Kaylee, hit Inara in the shoulder. Within seconds of the impact Mal was on his feet and racing down the stairs, shouting, “Now I know why you made the doc truss my arm up!” He grabbed a bucket set atop a brown crate and headed towards the snow pile. “You two have no idea how deadly accurate a well made snowball can be!”


Tuesday, January 22, 2008 3:24 AM


Oh, I like this, even as I'm sorry it's ending! And the delivery of the papers to the Feds *after* they went to the news agencies - inspired! And the crew get to have some fun with the snow left from the avalanche - aahh. Well done!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 4:30 AM


Fun ending to a very fun, fast-paced story!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 10:21 AM


Oh, I'm sad. It's all over! You have another one in the works, right? RIGHT?!

Nicely done and paced. And they even had some snow left to play with in the end . . . !

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 4:15 PM


Loved how you brought this to a happy conclusion -great story!


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Snowball - Chapter 11 The Conclusion
Life on Hawthorne will never be the same, now that our BDH’s have escaped.

Snowball - Chapter 10
There’s a daring escape, and our hero’s finally secure some cargo. Chapter 10 of 11, we’re almost there people :)

Snowball - Chapter 9
High tech video surveillance catches up with our hero’s causing no end of problems. This is the ninth of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 8
Mal and Inara discover a clue that could possibly clear Mal of the murder charges, but can they use it? Jayne races Adria to prove his pass and maybe get some... This is the eighth of eleven chapters. Find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 7
Mal and Jayne both ease their way through treacherous encounters with the Cottonwoods Ski Patrol. This is the seventh of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 6
Sometimes long lost family members spell trouble. Simon knows this but can he convince the crew? Can he even contact them? This is the sixth of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 5
Our BDH’s finally do some skiing, well at least most of them do. It’s the chapter that inspired the whole epic. The fifth of eleven chapters, which you can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 4
They can’t leave and they can’t stay. Fortunately for our BDH’s they have on board a criminal mastermind disguised as a doctor. This is the fourth of eleven chapters. Find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 3
Our hero’s deliver their cargo, only to run into some unexpected complications. This is the third of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 2
Mal discovers he does not have as much control over of his life as he thought and he learns just how people conduct legal type business deals near the Core. Chapter 2 of 11, find out all about it in my blog.