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FRIENDS AND ENEMIES: 1. "By All My Sins Remembered"
Thursday, January 31, 2008

"The Captain contemplates his situation while struggling to understand just what in the nine hells happened."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2421    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "BY ALL MY SINS REMEMBERED" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Mal. Jayne. Crew. RATING: G. STATUS: First in the 'FRIENDS AND ENEMIES' Series. ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at Fireflyfans.net

SUMMARY: "The Captain contemplates his situation while struggling to understand just what in the nine hells happened." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.

"BY ALL MY SINS REMEMBERED"

"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was dark. Hollow pinpricks of light formed splinters in the black dividing the shadows into shades of not-light. Little glittering motes of dust briefly illuminated as the stale air stirred with every shudder from above. He would have closed his eyes but somehow it felt important not to do so, to take in as much of the meagre information he could glean from this most depressing of places. He wanted to speak, question the silence for answers that his tired brain could not grasp. So very weary, pain keeping step with the agony of forcing thoughts into some linear concept of coherence. It was all so gorram vague, remote. Unfathomable and out of reach. Every thought, movement, emotion a tortured elongated journey with no true course beyond the random firing of his befogged and sluggish brain.

He shifted and could not stifle a cry. Hardly aware of the stinking water pooling around his knees, one shoulder leaning heavily against the dripping fetid wall of the room, the foul liquid seeping through his clothing yet barely impinging on his consciousness above the ebbing throb of unrelieved agony. Where in the nine hells was he and what the good gorram had happened? Silence echoed back at him taking form before his eyes in nightmare scenarios. It was his fault. Though he didn't know why instinct told him that much. So rutting weary. The Captain closed his eyes. Big mistake, the shift in perspective from hardly anything to nothing at all was enough for his sense of balance to turn traitor. Stumbling as he fell the cold clamour of dark water closed over his head, the stench invading his throat as he opened his mouth to yell. Mistake upon mistake multiplying with dull regularity in a momenatry flash of panic. He snorted as his head broke the surface, oblivious to the crack on his head running red rings around the surface of his matted scalp. If only he could remember.

By the time he had found another wall to brace himself upright memory began to percolate through the cracks and with a groan it all came cascading back to him. Now, only one thought occupied his flagging mind, body shuddering as the cold water lapped at the last of his body warmth chilling him down to the bone. How in the nine hells was he going to get out of here?

* * * * *

Zoe could not stop pacing. There was late and then there was too late. Wash tried to reassure her but that instinct that made the back of her neck itch wouldn't go away. "Somethin's wrong, Wash."

"*Bao bei*, I'm sure they'll be back soon. There's no Alliance presence here an' it's a dry planet, not enough alcohol to fill a thimble. What could possibly go wrong?"

Her eyes flickered with something almost too fast to catch. "Simple drop an' pick up, *zhangu*." She said drily. "They've been gone more than twelve hours."

Wash looked at her, blinked, then his eyes dulled slightly with too many memories of jobs turned sour. "Yeah, simple pick up." He murmured trying not to sound as depressed as he felt. "Who did you say the contact was?"

Her expression was grim, then Zoe turned once more from him, her gaze looking out into the fast falling night as if willing their missing crew to reappear out of the ether. She had already been out and scoured the area with Book but they had drawn a blank. If Mal and Jayne were out there it was somewhere really well hidden. Either that or they were already off world. The first option gave her hope, the second nothing but a sinking feeling in her gut. The cold wind stirring simply adding to her feeling of disquiet. Wash hated to see her so tense and worried. Hated that he felt the same. "Didn't say."

"But you know, right? I mean, Mal knew the contact?"

It took too long for her to turn and look him in the eye, the studied expression making him hesitant as if he were being particularly slow.

"Right." Wash didn't crack any jokes, didn't try to lighten the mood. His own worry multiplying with every passing second. He felt more than heard the Shepherd join them.

"Perhaps I should take another look around? Might see something missed the first time around."

"Shepherd, as keen as your eyesight may be you won't see much in the pitch black." Zoe paused. She wanted to do nothing more than load up for bear and take this *lese* rock apart until she found them but years of checking her best friend's oft' times reckless nature had made her a study in caution. If something had happened to Mal and Jayne it would do neither any good if she followed their example. Better to wait for first light and make a proper search. Maybe pick up some local help if there was any of a trustable nature. But still, the sense of it did not sit well with her. They had to be in trouble, it was the only thing that made sense of their absence. Hurt somewhere and hoping their friends could find them. Or maybe, just maybe, they were kicking their heels in some hoosegow for spitting in the street or some other equally as obscure infraction of the law hereabouts. It wouldn't be the first time they had run into trouble for not observing some local nicety.

The weight of decision was like a cross upon her back. "We'll head out again at first light. In the meantime I want you to check the cortex, Wash. See if anythin' is happenin' we don't know about."

He opened his mouth to say something, caught the look on her face and snapped it shut again. With a tight nod he turned and hurried away. Shepherd Book peered out into the darkness, his thoughts too sombre for sharing.

* * * * *

The soft deep whimper of pain was distracting. Irritated Jayne with impotent rage especially when he realised he was the one making the unseemly noise. He tried to lock his jaw and stifle the sound but there was something wrong with his mouth. Good gorram, there was something wrong with his whole rutting face. Scratch that. His whole rutting body. Wasn't right for a man to be hurting in so many places at once with no notion as to the why of it.

He shifted slowly, hissing back a pained breath before repeating the manouevre. With one eye swollen shut he opened the other then shut it quick. The place was bright, a big oblong room like a warehouse of some kind only it was all decked out in shiny white tiles. The oddness of it made him open his eye again, this time only to half mast, limiting the light that raised the dull ache in his skull to a merciless drum beat like a pyschotic steel band playing hell for leather inside his head.

At first Jayne assumed the place was empty. That whoever had jumped them had left him for dead. That was when he heard the tiny noise. A scuffle, like scratching almost but not. Something nagged the back of his brain pan. Oh yeah. Like little claws scrabbling across the tiles. He tried to turn his head, get a better view of the kind of rodent most likely sharing his rude awakening. Had to be vermin, mice maybe or more likely their bigger uglier cousins - rats. The movement sent his senses swimming in a flash of vertigo. Jayne closed his eye and groaned. When he opened it again he realised it wasn't his vision that was off. He was hanging upside down from a meat hook. A chill dread stole into the corners of his heart not yet frozen solid by the sheer cold of the place. Oh yeah, rats. And *wode ma* the King Rat was staring right back at him.

* * * * *

"Come on, sweetie. Time to wake up!"

The Captain opened his eyes, the unwanted familiarity of the voice forcing him to surface from one Hell to check the temperature in another one. The flash of red confirmed it. Even his hallucinations were having hallucinations. "Go 'way."

Naturally she ignored him. "You have to wake up, there isn't much time."

He wanted to pretend he didn't hear her, shut out the infernal stupidity of a brain so out of synch with reality that he would conjure up such an unwelcome presence. "Ain't havin' this conversation. You ain't real."

The slap forced him to startle awake with more coherence than any dream could muster. Shock almost robbed him of words, his eyes narrowing as she smiled sweetly at him. "You hit me!"

"Well hubby, needs must when the devil drives."

"Huh, even if the devil wears gorram high heels an' drug inducin' lipstick? Not that I'm sayin' you're real but what in the nine hells you doin' here?"

"Saving your worthless hide."

He shook his head then wished he hadn't, a string of curses streaming from his lips until his head stopped spinning. "If it was so worthless you wouldn't be here. So. What you doin' here an' how the *diyu* did I end up in...." He trailed off trying to find a word to fit his current predicament. Saffron smiled brightly at him. "How did you end up in this pile of *shen goushi*?"

He just stared back. He would have glared but somehow his killer look just wasn't cutting it. Gorram dream, the little thief had even hijacked that.

"Well sweetie, you upset one mean old man too many." She paused to cock her head and eye him critically, the fingers of her right hand reaching out to skim his bruised face. Mal jerked back and almost lost his footing, as if her touch was poison - dream self or not. Her pout looked almost genuine. "He was going to kill you."

"*Shei*?"

"Say please."

"Saffron, or whatever gorram name you're usin' today, if you can't make yourself useful get the ruttin' *diyu* outta my nightmare!"

"My, who got up on the wrong side of the sewer?"

He glared at her, this time it must have had some venom to it because she appeared to relent. Just a little.

"A nasty piece of work called Adelei Niska. I think you've heard of him."

"*Tianna*, why'd it have to be that *chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo*?"

"Lucky guess, sweetheart? You pissed him off."

* * * * *

Simon wasn't worried just pleased that for once his sister was sleeping. It was just a bonus that it was through the latest calamity to hit this doom laden crew. That it was he and his sister that had brought much of it down on them was something he tried hard not to think about. He had guilt enough on his shoulders for being unable to undo what the Alliance had done to River without taking on any more. Not that reason could out talk his conscience even on a good day but for once there was a tiny sliver of silver lining in this latest cloud on their horizon.

Quietly stepping out of her room Simon was not surprised to see Kaylee hovering in the corridor waiting for him. "She alright?"

The doctor nodded. "Yes. Surprisingly River's sleeping. I can't remember the last time she slept this peacefully."

Kaylee smiled at the thought but he could see the worry in her eyes. Wished there was something he could do or say to reassure her but the Captain didn't have the best track record when it came to things going wrong. If it was possible for a man to be struck by lightening out of a clear blue sky Malcolm Reynolds would surely be that man.

"What's so funny?"

The little smile vanished from Simon's face. He had been unaware it had even appeared and felt a brief pang of guilt for finding anything humorous about the predicament they were in. "*Yiwusuoyou*. Come on Kaylee, Zoe wants us in the commons room *mashang*."

As they hurried Kaylee couldn't help asking. "We'll find 'em won't we, Simon? I mean, if anythin' bad had happened River would'a told us."

He bit back the retort rising to his lips that his sister was not a Reader. Even with the evidence staring him in the face it was painful beyond imagining. Kaylee didn't understand, couldn't know, how it tore him up inside being aware of what everyone was thinking. Getting no reply, Kaylee bit her bottom lip and stepped into the commons room with him. Shepherd Book straightened from the wall where he had been leaning. Zoe stood tall and stiff as if bending would break a rib or two, the tension almost painful to see in her. Wash stood at her side but for once they weren't touching and Simon hoped they hadn't quarrelled. The only other person missing was Inara but they expected a wave later in the day to tell them she was on her way back from her last appointment. Kaylee wished her friend was with them now, missed the comfort and reassurance of the Companion's calming presence. Her own nerves so on edge she was trembling. A light touch on her shoulder made her turn her head and notice the chair Simon was pulling back for her. With a tremelous smile she sat then twisted her hands together in her lap, hoping against hope that Zoe knew something they did not.

* * * * *

He couldn't stop shivering. Wet and cold as ice he couldn't form whole words any more. Gritting his teeth together was actually painful, the chattering of his teeth setting up painful aches in his jaw that were the least of his gorram worries. Had he been able to he would have pushed off the hands peeling the wet clothing from him but even his shuddering breaths were becoming more collective huffs as slowly the shivering began to diminish. Somehow he knew that wasn't a good thing but couldn't remember why. A terrible weariness was stealing over him, his icy cold limbs now feeling phantom warmth. A long breath sighed out between parted lips, pale and tinged with blue. The welcome warmth was tingling now, becoming painful with pinprinks of heat piercing his skin.

With a jolt his eyes sprang open, the water on his face icing over even as he took in the nightmare scene. The laughing face leaning over him with demonic glee, the buzz of the device in the man's hand being lovingly stroked as if man and machine were lovers. The Captain supposed given who it was that it was accurate. In slow motion the pinched lips parted, thin and mean with spite, eyes glittering behind glass as the round metallic head of the device was placed in the centre of Mal's chest. Over his gorram heart. Fear spiked through him a second before the pain hit, every nerve in his body overloading and shrieking through his body. The jolt lifted him out of the icy water for bare seconds, the water around him turning to wet steam that stuck to the pores of his skin and sucked the air out of his body. Again. He shuddered, shook and felt every bone rattle, every nerve so sensitised there was only a buzzing agony thrumming and crackling through him.

When the machine could no longer elicit a response the device was removed from the Captain's chest and replaced carefully, lovingly, in its' box. Adelei Niska looked down on his most stubborn and enduring of enemies and pursed his lips thoughtfully. Tilting his head slightly as he considered the unconscious form the crime lord gave a tiny nod, knowing the man could no longer hear him. "Yes, Mister Reynolds, you are quite a man. An *extraordinary* man but this is not a time for extraordinary men."

* * * * *

Daylight came with the strained reluctance of a recalcitrant child. Fitful blurs of almost-light ghosted over the windswept and rain soaked sky. Lowering clouds frowned down on a world only the criminally insane could love. Bleak would have been too hearty a compliment and as the sky wept in icy tears each bluster swept down on the freezing wind felt like the stroke of a lash cutting into bare skin. Wash shuddered, eyes narrowed with worry, every muscle tensed yet filled with frustration. Zoe was pacing back and forth over and over again while seemingly oblivious to the cold air sending chills through the open maw of the cargo bay. Shepherd Book returned with a rifle, spare ammunition shoved in every pocket he possessed, a heavy weight jacket draped over his shoulders like a cape.

Inara had waved just before dawn to say she would be delayed. The vicious turn in the weather had grounded her and her client had graciously offered to put her up for another day until it was safe to travel. Zoe had secretly been glad, not sure she could have handled Inara fretting between insults about the Captain. She simply didn't have the patience for any catty or scathing remarks no matter how witty the repartee. So Inara was left safe and unknowing, her classy world continuing to turn around her without let or hinderance as if the Companion was the hub of that 'verse.

"*Bao bei*, severe weather warnings are all over the cortex."

"Doesn't matter, we have to find them."

"*Wo zhidao*, believe me I'm worried too, even about Jayne but that's not what I meant. Further North they're experiencing the worst hurricanes in half a century."

Her eyes pinned his with such sharp ferocity Wash wished he had kept his fool mouth shut. But when it already contained one foot why not simply insert the other? It would save time later.

"Zoe, we have to face the fact that we can't do anythin' until the weather lets up."

She ignored the sweep of his arm. "We ain't leavin' 'em behind."

"I never said that, *fengmi*. Just need to be rational is all. You can hardly see through that driving rain an' any tracks there might have been will've been washed away in the flood waters."

Before the first mate could respond Book spoke up. "Which is why we should take the other shuttle." At the horrified look on Wash's face the Preacher calmly explained, the deep bur of his voice dampening down some of the pilot's panic. "We should be fine if we use it to just skim the planet surface."

Without a word Zoe punched the red button to close the cargo bay door, the others feeling the immediate improvement the moment the weather was shut out. The deck wet and covered in a scatter of twigs and other debris blown in by the wind. Walking briskly passed Wash and Book, Zoe's words drifted back to them crisp and clear. "Sooner we set out the quicker we'll be back." No one mistook her words for a suggestion.

Book chambered a round, nodded to Wash, then followed Zoe up the metal stairs. At the top of the stairs Simon stood on the catwalk and watched. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask if they were mad but one look at the two determined faces and he kept his thoughts to himself.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = precious/treasure *zhangfu* = husband *lese* = crappy *wode ma* = mother of God *diyu* = hell *shen goushi* = deep crap *shei* = who *tianna* = oh God! *yiwusuoyou* = nothing *chusheng xai-jio de xiang huo* = animal fucking bastard *wo zhidao* = I know *mashang* - at once/immediately/quickly/on the double *fengmi* = honey

COMMENTS

Thursday, January 31, 2008 5:32 AM

HOMESPUN


Goodness, you continue to come up with the most original and amazing descriptions - along with a while new bucket of ways to make Mal miserable. Buckling in for the ride.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 6:37 PM

KATESFRIEND


Poor Mal.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 7:38 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Niska and Saffron together. Can't wait to see what happens to the poor crew and Mal in particular.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 7:40 PM

SLUMMING


Wonderful to see that you posted again. As always, every word was so well crafted! A real pleasure to read!

Sunday, February 3, 2008 10:48 PM

JANE0904


Waiting to see what happens next. Looks like Mal's in for a painful ride.


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