Slender Thread - Part X
Monday, February 4, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Freya attempts to get Hank inside, and something really bad happens. NEW CHAPTER


He’d given up. He’d had to. The hatch wouldn’t open, no matter what he did, and he’d had to accept it. Now he sat back on the hull, staring at the stars, and pondered what to do next.

He was leaning towards panicking uncontrollably, but did think that should be kept in reserve. Like for when his oxygen tank showed zero, or his ass got frostbite, whichever came first. It even crossed his mind that perhaps he should push off from the plating and see if his momentum could carry him to the shuttle keeping pace with the Firefly.

“And how would Zoe cope with that?” he wondered aloud. “Seeing me heading for her, then splatting across the window like some bug? All wings and intestines.” He shuddered. “Probably not a good idea.”

Wishing he could ease the irritation caused by the sweat pooling around his waist, he glanced down at the air reading on his wrist again. Less than thirty minutes. So maybe it was time to consider panicking after all.

“I’m gonna miss you,” he said softly, watching the shuttle. “Miss Ben growing up. All the other kids we might have had. Then being able to show our grandchildren how to fly, and teach them all the bad habits you won’t let me teach Ben.” He sighed. “I miss you, Zoe.”

Then someone touched him on the shoulder.

“Gah!” he screamed, leaping to his feet so fast that he lost contact with the hull, and it was only that someone’s fast reflexes stopped him floating away.

The figure waggled a finger in front of him, chastising him, then pulled him closer so he could see through the faceplate.

“Frey?” he yelped.

She smiled at him, the internal lighting illuminating the planes of her face and making her features sharper. She mouthed something, but he couldn’t make out what it was.

“What? Can‘t hear you.” He tried to shrug inside the suit, but it barely moved.

She rolled her eyes at him, and he had to smile. Even out here, facing certain death, and she still got annoyed with him. He’d got them all trained well.

She leaned forward so that their helmets were touching, just glass between them.

“Come on. Time to go home,” he heard, more like a whisper on a breeze even though he knew she had to be shouting. He nodded and let her take him by the arm.


“She’s got him,” Mal said, relaxing just a degree.

Kaylee grinned. “See? Knew she would.”

“Yeah.“ He closed his eyes, imagining her guiding Hank down the side of his Firefly towards the open hatch, maybe chivvying the pilot along as they went.

“She’s one amazing woman,” the young mechanic said.

“That she is.“ He longed to hold her, tell her much he loved her, how proud he was of her, but he couldn’t. Truth was, he never told her enough.

Yes you do. Her voice, warm and slightly amused, just like her, filled his mind. I know how you feel.

Still should tell you.

You sort this out, and you can.

It’s a deal, he promised.


“Nearly there,” Mal said.

“Good. Good.” She played with a tendril of her hair that had escaped the rough ponytail she‘d scraped it back into, a sure sign she was about to break some bad news to him. “Cap’n, me and Simon, we been talking. We think we know what’s going on.”

“Is it going to help?”


He turned to look at her, still leaning on the door, closer to his wife somehow if he didn’t break contact. “Go ahead.”

“What Simon said, about it being a virus … he still thinks that, but now he’s wondering if it ain’t more like an infection.”

“And the difference being …”

“It’s trying to take over. Serenity’s fighting it all the way - that’s why stuff goes down and comes back. But it’s too powerful, too strong.” She shook her head. “I figure that’s why the derelict had so many redundancies, ‘cause they knew it was gonna happen. In fact, if my girl were a newer ship, we’d probably be dead by now. What with the things I’ve done to her, it ain’t like she’s normal, and I think this virus is finding it harder to take her on.”

Mal‘s mouth twitched, just a little. “You mean the space monkeys did some good after all?”

“Little bit.” She flashed a smile. “But I shoulda known when Hank said we were heading back to that ship. Like she’s going home to Momma.”

“Ain’t gonna happen,” Mal said firmly. His lips thinned. “Whatever those hwoon dahns at Blue Sun did, they should’ve blown it to hell.”

“Probably thought they could salvage it some time,” Kaylee offered. “Fix it.”

“So instead they leave it out in the middle of nowhere for someone unsuspecting to come across it.” He exhaled heavily. “Wonder how many others did and never survived?”

“We will, Cap’n,” she said, taking his arm. “We’re gonna survive.”

Suddenly the ship shuddered, and Mal looked up, then stared at Kaylee. “What the hell …”

“We’re going to burn,” she whispered, her eyes wide, horrified. “And I ain’t …” She turned on her heels and ran for the engine room.

Mal glanced at the doorway into the cargo bay, his face stricken, then ran the other way, towards the bridge, encountering Simon on the way.

“What was -”

“Doc, with me,” Mal ordered, his heart beating wildly in his chest.


Zoe sat forward, Ethan still tangled up on her lap, watching as the glow in the aft section of the Firefly began to increase. “What the hell …”

She quickly put the little boy down, turning the shuttle onto an intercept trajectory, then watched in horror as Serenity pulsed and shot forward, her light disappearing into the black.


“What do I do?” Simon asked.

“Sit there,” Mal said, pointing to the co-pilot’s seat even as he slid into the other, “and read off the figures from the centre screen.” He punched up a code sequence, then swore violently as nothing happened. If anything the juddering increased.

“Six five nine,” Simon said. “Six six four. Six seven … Mal, what’s happening?”

“Uncontrolled burn.” Mal’s voice was tight. “If we don’t stop, if Kaylee can’t regulate the fuel flow …” He glanced just once at the young doctor.

Simon swallowed and looked back down. “Seven one eight.”


Kaylee was frantic, opening some valves, closing others, but nothing seemed to work. The noise level in the engine room was increasing, and Serenity was screaming.

“Help me,” she pleaded, looking into the spinning heart threatening to tear itself from its gimbals. “Help me.”


“Mal …” The urgency in Simon’s voice got his attention.


The young man pointed to something on the screen.

“Shit!” Mal was out of his seat and at the doorway, shouting as loudly as he could down the corridor. “Kaylee! Containment’s going down!” He turned back to Simon. “Red button. Keep pressing it. Try and keep it closed.” He himself almost fell under the console, pulling open a panel.

Above the hammering of his heart, Simon could hear Serenity whining. “I can’t stop it, Mal!”

“That opens up, we’re all dead!”

“You think I don’t know that?” He pressed the button harder until he felt sure his finger was going to go through the metal. “Do something!”

“Nothing’s working …” Mal leaped to his feet and slammed his hand on the com. “Kaylee! Get out of there. Now!”

Simon was up and out of the chair in a moment, shouting, “That doesn’t work!” He jumped for the steps, but Mal grabbed him.

“Stay here!”

“It’s my wife!”

Mal didn’t pause, just hit him, a powerhouse to the chin that had him down on the floor of the bridge, his eyes dazed. “Gorramit! Learn to take orders!” Mal shouted at him as he slammed the door closed and ran down the steps. He pounded along the corridor, swerving around the table in the dining area and into the other passageway. “Kaylee! Get out!”

The mechanic looked up at him, her face white, her fingers still moving so fast they blurred. “I have to vent the systems!” she said, tears of frustration on her cheeks.

“No, Kaylee!” Mal jumped down into the engine room, grabbing her arm. “Bridge. Now, God damn it!” He dragged her towards the door.

“No, Cap!” She threw his arm off, darting back to her console. “It’s Serenity …”

“And you ain't gonna burn with her!” He picked her up bodily, the whine of the engine reaching ear-splitting levels.

She struggled. “Let me see to her!”

“No!” Mal drew back his arm, preparing to knock her out, when silence almost floored him, the light from the engine doused as if water had been poured on a fire. “Wha …”

“It stopped.” Kaylee peered into the black interior of her engine room. “It stopped.”

Mal could feel his heart beating so hard inside his ribs he was sure it was going to break out. “I think I figured that one out myself, mei-mei.”

She wriggled free, feeling around the floor for the torch, switching it on and hurrying to her console. “Containment’s back. And the fuel …” She reached out with a trembling hand and touched the engine, for once not turning. “We’re okay. Safe. For the moment.”

“And the rest?”

“Most everything else is still offline, Cap,” Kaylee said quietly. “Including the power. We’re coasting.”

“Life support?”

“Auxiliary only.”

“Then we’ve no choice.”

She looked at him, the torchlight making her face eerie, even if she wasn’t white as a sheet. “Last resort?”

“Last resort.”

“And Frey? Hank?”

Mal shook his head. “I don’t know.” He hadn’t looked, hadn’t wanted to find out his wife hadn’t reached the hatch in time, had been swept from the hull and was somewhere -

We’re inside, Mal. Freya’s voice flooded his mind. We’re both okay.

“Cap?” Kaylee asked, seeing him close his eyes, afraid of the answer.

“They’re in the cargo bay.”

She grinned suddenly, hugging him. “See? Told you!”

Put her down. Freya sounded amused. And next time you plan on doing that, let me know first.

I will, xin gan, Mal promised. I will.

“Kaylee?” Simon staggered into the engine room. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine, honey,” she assured him. “We’re all okay.” Her brows drew down as she saw him holding his jaw. “What happened?”

“I hit him,” Mal admitted. “And you can return the favour later, okay? We’ve got work to do.”

to be concluded (with possibly and epilogue)


Monday, February 4, 2008 6:02 AM


My heart was in my throat during this entire chapter! Ai ya, woman, what are you going to do next?! :D

Monday, February 4, 2008 6:22 AM


That was intense. Most of the crew is spread all over the verse now.
Hate to see this story coming to an end.

Monday, February 4, 2008 8:18 AM


Absolutely brilliant! Now if I can just get my poor heart re-started... I can't remember how many times I cried "Oh God", that was heart in my throat time. Bit puzzled as to why the AI didn't finish them off but them if the vessel is all screwed up it is going to be doing some things randomly I guess. Don't know how long our valiant crew can survive with all this near death stalking them but I am hoping like crazy you have a way out for them. Great work, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, February 4, 2008 9:45 AM


It's like Fright Night in Space! Awesome!

Monday, February 4, 2008 9:49 AM


I have a feeling that the crew needs to thank the Space Monkeys, otherwise they'd already been gone. I admit that I have a special place in my heart for Kaylee and her abilities with the engine.

They'll figure it out somehow. They always do.

Monday, February 4, 2008 3:45 PM


What a ride that was! You must like knowing you're putting people's hearts in their throats. Truly exciting - looking forward to hearing how Serenity fared. Poor Zoe.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 2:44 AM


well you are still out to induce comment fatigue huh? another great chapter - a sense of genuine peril - and the reader is always in the thick of the action.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 5:57 AM


GAH!!! I just about had a heart attack! Sheesh.. talk about angst.


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

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

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

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

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

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

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

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

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

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

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

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

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

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

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

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

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

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

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

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