Broken - Part VII
Monday, February 18, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Serenity lands on Argus, but things never go smoothly. NEW CHAPTER


Mal stepped onto the bridge and looked out of the window as Hank brought Serenity in to land. Argus was supposed to be one of the prettier of the Rim moons, all blue oceans and white-topped mountains fringing the large icecaps, with just a few outcrops of large rocky islands and archipelagos in the temperate zone. From space it looked idyllic: it was only down on the ground that it was obvious people were struggling to survive.

Not that it looked all that wonderful closer up, either, as Hank tilted the Firefly’s thrusters to drop through thick clouds.

“Whoa, did you see that?” he asked, leaning back in his seat.


“I just thought I saw … never mind.” The pilot adjusted their trajectory a little.

“If it’s something I need to know –“

“Just thought I saw a house, is all.” Hank looked slightly embarrassed.

“Well, the winds they way they are up here, wouldn’t be at all surprised.” Mal hitched his thumbs into his belt. “Are we going to have trouble landing?”

“Well, Port Control weren’t too keen on it, but I told them I'm a damn good pilot and I’d get us down in one piece.” He patted the console. “Hear me, baby? One piece.”

“Always a good plan,” Mal agreed.

“Frey having breakfast?” Hank asked, fighting the yoke a little as they passed through the topmost of the winds.

“I conjure.”

“Only you were both late up this morning. Not like you to be late. Not at all.” He flashed a grin over his shoulder.

“Keep your eyes on the road and your mind outta the gutter,” Mal advised.

“Out of gutter. Right.”

Mal hid the smile that threatened to show. In fact, they had been late, and it was more than just not hearing the alarm clock.

He’d been shaving, staring at himself in the small mirror and concentrating as he removed the stubble that had pressed through his skin. He didn’t know she was awake, and after the experiences of the previous night he was inclined to let her sleep, getting ready for the day as quietly as possible. It was only when he felt a hand snake around his waist and lay splayed on his belly that he realised he was wrong. He jerked slightly then yelped as a small bloom of pink appeared in the foam on his cheek.

“Sorry,” she said, kissing his naked shoulder.

“Thought you were asleep.” He dabbed at the small cut and felt the soap stinging it.

“With you standing there with no clothes on?” Her mouth drifted down to his shoulder blade. “How’s a woman supposed to get any rest with you naked?”

“You want I should get dressed?” His voice had deepened as her lips reached the small of his back.

“You do and I’ll divorce you,” she promised, sucking the skin gently.

“Cut yourself shaving, sir?” Zoe said, bringing him back from the then and mighty pleasurable to the here and now.

“Huh?” He half-turned to look at her.

“Shaving.” She tapped her own cheek.

He reached up and found a tiny area crusted with dried blood. He rubbed it off. “I was in a rush,” he explained.


He glared at her. “The mule loaded up?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well, soon as your husband gets us down, we’ll be leaving.” He strode off the bridge.

Hank chuckled. “He really ought to know by now that these walls ain’t as thick as he thinks they are.”

“Just land the boat,” Zoe said, but her lips were twitching.


The rain was coming straight down, with an occasional gust of wind blowing it at right angles. Jayne glared out at it.

“Why the hell can’t we go someplace nice ‘casionally?” he grumbled. “Once in a while.”

“People live where they can,” Mal said, walking towards him and buckling his gunbelt. “At least they can fish, if nothing else.”

“Yeah, but at this rate they won’t have to get to the sea to do it.”

“Jayne, you complained about Marley,” Zoe pointed out.

“Yeah, but this is wetter. There I was just sweatin’ like a pig. Here I ain’t got a hope in hell of staying dry.”

River handed him his slicker. “Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow,” she murmured.

“Than I must be a gorram thoroughbred,” he commented, pulling it on and buttoning it tightly up to his chin. “’N’ if I drown, you make sure I'm buried proper, okay?”

She smiled and reached up, placing a kiss demurely on his cheek. “Hurry back,” she whispered. With that she turned and walked slowly towards the common area, touching everything she passed.

“Should she be up?” Mal asked quietly.

“You wanna tell her?” Jayne countered.

“Not particularly.” Mal took his own raincoat from Freya. “You sure you want to stay behind?” he teased. “Don’t fancy coming out for a nice ride?”

She shook her head. “No, not really.” She absently rubbed her back.

“There a problem?” he asked, stepping closer to her.


“Only it looks like your back’s hurting.”

Freya raised her eyebrows in surprise. “No.” She stopped, realising what she was doing. “At least I don’t think so.”

“Maybe you should get Simon to take a look. Be on the safe side.” He thought, but didn’t say, that she’d been through so much.

“I'm fine.”

“Humour me.”

“Gorramit,” Jayne said, jamming his cowboy hat down hard on his head. “Can we just get going?”


“Uncle Hank, can you play with us?” Bethie asked, peering in the bridge doorway.

The pilot turned and smiled at her, seeing Ethan and the other children standing behind her. “Depends. What were you thinking of playing?”

“Hide and seek?”

Hank grinned. “Now, short stub, you know your Daddy said you couldn’t play that no more. Not since he got upset when he couldn’t find you and he was convinced we’d left you behind on that moon.”

Bethie giggled. “He got cross.”

“I thought he was gonna have a heart attack.” He shook his head. “Besides, ain't it time for your lessons?”

“Auntie Freya said we wouldn’t, just for today.” A small frown crossed the little girl’s head. “I don’t think she feels very well.”

“Anything specific?”

“Auntie River.”

He understood. “Then maybe you should be keeping an eye on the both of them.”

“Peeking’s bad.” Bethie sighed, screwing her nose up. “And Auntie River hurts.”

“Then you need to play quietly anyway.”

“Isn’t hide and seek quiet?” Ethan asked.

“Not when your Uncle Simon starts shouting, no.”

“Come on,” Bethie said, taking young Master Reynolds’ hand. “Let’s go watch Auntie River knitting.” She plodded back down the steps. “Adults,” she added in an undertone.

Hank grinned. Then a small beeping noise on the console drew his attention back.


The delivery was to be made to an address on the other side of town, but the streets were empty of people as they crawled along. The rain made visibility poor, and Zoe didn’t really fancy running into anything, particularly with the crates of power packs safely stowed under the tarp in the back.

“You know, there are days I'm glad we bought this thing,” Mal said from the seat next to her. “We’d never’ve got the old mule through the mud.”

“Wash would’ve tried,” Zoe responded.

“Yeah, he did love that old vehicle, didn’t he?” Mal wiped the rain out of his eyes, but was immediately blinking hard again. “He spent weeks putting her back together after that time on Niska’s skyplex.”

“It was therapy.”

Mal glanced at her. She’d never really spoken about that time, after they’d rescued him from a fate that was proving to be a hell of a lot worse than death. “Therapy?” he asked.

“Nightmares,” Zoe admitted. “Feeling useless.” She looked across at him. “He blamed me for a while for choosing him rather than you.”

“He …” Mal shook his head. “That man could drive a priest insane.”

“I told him he had to put that idea out of his head.” Zoe gazed into the rain again. “He was the one wanted to come get you. He just had a bad time of it for a while.”

Mal studied her face, her stoic, impassive, beautiful profile. “Glad the mule could help.”

“Anyone got a bucket?” Jayne asked from the back seat.

“Bucket?” Mal half-turned. “Why, you feeling seasick?”

“No. I'm drowning.” The big man lifted one of his feet. “I'm ankle deep back here.”

Mal looked down. The water was indeed lapping around Jayne’s boots. “I’ll let Kaylee know when we get back. Maybe some drainage holes would be a good idea.”

“Too right.” Jayne squirmed slightly, feeling moisture where it had no right to be. “How much further?”

“Just ahead,” Zoe said, nodding into the gloom.


“Look, there’s no need for this,” Hank said, staring at the official on the vid. “We ain’t going anywhere right now, and even if we did, I’m the best pilot you’ve seen. I could take off blind in a snowstorm and still not hit anything.”

“The landlock is for your own good. Our storms can be unpredictable, and we don’t intend having a ship crashing.” The man tutted. “Apart from the possible loss of life, we just don’t carry that kind of insurance.”

Hank couldn’t believe it. “You landlock us for no good reason, and you talk about insurance?”

“You’ll just have to wait until the storm clears. Then you can be on your way.” The man leaned forward towards the off switch.

“No, wait …” Hank said quickly, but the screen had already gone to static. He closed his eyes. “Qi you ci li,” he murmured.


The drop point was yet another warehouse, smaller than the one they’d picked up from on Bernadette, and more dilapidated, but the large double doors were the same. They were also locked.

Mal banged on the wood. “Hey!” he called. “Anyone there?”

There was no response. He banged again, with the same result.

Zoe drew her gun. “We’re on time,” she said softly.

“Maybe they’re late. Got caught in the storm.” Still, Mal had his own pistol out. “Jayne, take a look around. See if you can find anything.”

“Yeah.” Something was tickling the back of his neck, and it wasn’t rainwater.

“Keep an eye out, Zoe,” Mal warned.

“Always do, sir.”

Jayne prowled around the outside of the building, his gun securely in his hand, feeling mud sticking to his boots, but there was no sign of life. Getting back to the main doors, he glanced at the others and shook his head. “Got me a bad feeling about this,” he said.

“The door.” Mal nodded towards a normal sized opening.

Jayne nodded and kicked at the lock, the wood splintering around the metal, but only bouncing in its frame. He grunted in surprise then pushed at it. It only opened a couple of inches, then seemed to jam on something. Putting his weight behind it, he pressed harder, but it barely moved. Reaching round warily, he felt something leaning against it, fabric under his fingers, and wetness. Drawing back his hand he saw redness before the rain washed it away.

“Blood,” he said softly. “A body.”

“Zoe,” Mal ordered.

His first mate nodded, ready at the crack in the door. Mal and Jayne pushed with all their strength, and Zoe managed to slip inside. A moment later there was the sound of something being dragged away and the door opened.

“Three dead,” she said succinctly.

They stepped past her into the gloom, and Jayne went down onto his heels next to the body Zoe had moved. “Throat’s cut.” He rubbed his fingers together. “Recent.”

“This one’s still alive,” Zoe said, touching the chest of the second man in the middle of the floor.

Suddenly a boom of gunfire filled the warehouse, and the injured man’s head snapped back, blood and brains spraying across the hard-packed earth.

“And you’ll be joining him if you try anything,” came a voice from the darkness.

to be continued


Monday, February 18, 2008 4:09 AM


Wow, another job gone south. Why am I not surprised?

I thought no none knew the "Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow" saying.

Monday, February 18, 2008 5:57 AM


Things just never go smooth, do they? Landlocked, shootings, and a pregnant psychic with control issues. Just a standard day on Serenity!

Great job, as always!

Monday, February 18, 2008 11:29 AM


Rule of thumb...when no one answers, leave the door closed! :D

Monday, February 18, 2008 1:15 PM


Things never run smooth do they? I wouldn't have opened that gorram door either. I'd have listened to Jayne and got the good gorram out of there. And why do I find that landlock suspicious? Who wants to keep them there because no way in *diyu* do I believe it is for their own good. Also worried about Freya. And now some lowlife has the drop on our Heroes. Gulp! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, February 18, 2008 4:48 PM


Never a lack of excitement in your verse, is there? What could possibly go wrong next?


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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!]