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AMDOBELL

FRIENDS AND ENEMIES: 4. "Some You Win"
Sunday, March 9, 2008

"Just when it looks like things cannot get any worse the other shoe drops."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1836    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "SOME YOU WIN" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Mal. Jayne. Crew. RATING: G. STATUS: Sequel to "UNRAVELLING" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at Fireflyfans.net

SUMMARY: "Just when it looks like things cannot get any worse the other shoe drops." 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.

"SOME YOU WIN"

"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

The mother of all storms continued to rage, whipping already fierce winds into an unholy frenzy. River didn't try to fight her way through but jerked and dipped in the sudden eddies. Twice Simon lost his footing. Kaylee fared better having her hands braced on the engine housing but still they could hear her cursing between the sounds of frantic tinkering. From time to time both the tinkering and swearing would stop and Simon knew that was when the mechanic was hanging on for dear life. After hitting his head a glancing blow with his second fall, the doctor scrambled into the co-pilot's seat and strapped himself in. River did not so much as flick a look his way, all her concentration on simply staying airborn and more or less on course.

"*Mei mei*, the storm's too violent!"

"Can't turn back, Simon."

His teeth rattled as the Firefly shook every bone in his body. River's arms were braced, her knuckles white with tension. Simon began to worry that they might be in more need of rescuing than their missing crew if the weather did not abate soon.

"Erroneous assumption."

"River..."

She shook her head but did not look at him. "Storm's in a cycle Simon, has to run its' course. If we wait we'll lose them both."

The doctor's heart skipped a beat. "But you know where they are?"

"*Qu*. The closer we get the more the paths diverge." She frowned. "Makes the variables less easy to calculate. More room for error."

"If we don't set down soon it isn't going to matter."

"Hold on."

"I am holding on River. I'm even strapped in."

River didn't bother trying the com but yelled loud enough for Kaylee to hear in the engine room. "Kaylee, hang on!"

Simon was about to say something when his sister turned her head and looked him in the eye. "Not so much a leaf as a stone."

When her brother just blinked at her she actually smiled, the wrongness of it not connecting in his brain with the words spilling out of her mouth to the contrary.

"It means we're going to crash."

As his mouth dropped open his stomach beat him to it, the ship plummeting so fast he thought he would be sick before the impact with the ground could kill him.

"Won't die."

Somehow his sister's calm assurance was no reassurance at all.

* * * * *

It was so much harder in actuality than Saffron could have imagined. Even with the added complication of Malcolm Reynolds who would have guessed that the weather on this *lese* planet would play into Niska's hands? The master con artist and thief braced herself harder up against the flagging Captain. One hand wrapped around his waist in an effort to keep him upright, the other firmly pressed over his mouth. It didn't matter a good gorram that the Captain was barely conscious she wasn't about to give him the chance to make a sound. Mouth open to minimise the noise of her own breathing Saffron stretched her ears to catch every word through the opening several feet above her head. Not large enough for her and Mal to crawl through but enough to tell her how close they were to the outside and the voices floating down to them.

'I tell ya, he ain't happy.'

Someone gave a snort then came the sound of spitting. 'Get used to it.'

'I heard tell he tortured his nephew to death.'

'So?'

There was a shuffling sound then a moment's silence. The voices now sounded much closer. They must be standing near the small opening. 'Yeah, but he was family *dong ma*?'

'Sooner him than me.'

'All I mean is if he'd do that to family...'

The voice trailed off awkwardly, a hint of a whine tapering into uneasy silence.

'Cassidy?'

'Yeah?'

'Shut up an' keep lookin'.'

The shuffling sound was louder this time, mixed in with the sound of someone stomping their feet. Must be mighty cold up there. "What the *diyu* does he think we're gonna find on this rock?'

The other man was snarling now, his voice turned deep and ugly as if about to rip Cassidy's throat out. 'Your dead body if'n ya don't shut yer bellyachin' an' keep a look out.'

'*Yesu*, Franklin, keep yer gorram hair on.'

'I'll skin your's off yer worthless hide if ya don't shut up. Or maybe you wanna demonstration?'

Silence fell so completely Saffron wondered whether Franklin had killed him. But no, they wouldn't be that lucky.

'It's all clear up here.' Cassidy mumbled after a minute.

Franklin grunted. 'Okay, let's do one more circuit then back inside before we freeze our balls off."

Saffron closed her eyes and listened intently to the fading footfalls. She could feel the Captain slumping again but didn't dare shake him. If she took her hand off his mouth to rouse him she would not be able to stiffle any groan and Niska's men were too close for comfort. She let a full ten minutes pass in silence before turning her attention back to Serenity's Captain. There was very little light but at least the air was getting better the nearer they got to the surface. If they were going to do anything it had to be now.

"Mal!" Tentatively Saffron shook him but there was no response. She waited, still listening for any sign that the men had returned but the silence from above was unbroken. This time she gave Mal a hard shake. "*Wei*! You need to wake now, I can't carry you."

A low moan leaked out of slack lips like blood exanguinated from a cut throat. Saffron inwardly winced knowing the man had to be in pain but that wasn't her problem. She had to find some way to get them out of the mine and elicit the help of both the Captain and his crew. No easy task when she was at the top of a very long list of his least favourite people. Again. Not her concern. Blaming her for her nature would be like cursing water for being wet or the sun for not shining all through the night. Saffron was cold, wet and had long since lost her very finite store of patience. Pulling her hand back she slapped the Captain across the face, his head snapping back at the force of the blow. Mal's head cracked against the rock wall behind him and a cry of pain heralded his abrupt return to consciousness.

"Thanks for joinin' the party."

Her sarcasm was lost on him. Clinging to consciousness was taking all of his energy. "Huh?"

"Eloquent as ever, Cap'n, but we need to move *dong ma*?"

His eyes opened a crack. Saffron shook him again. "Wh...wha..."

"Awake!" She demanded, her face now inches from his. The Captain blinked.

"Wha... hap'ned?"

Relief almost robbed her of speech but she quickly masked it. "Niska dumped you in a partly collapsed tunnel after your latest little round of torture. He blocked you in, kind'a a make shift cell, but he left the shaft un-guarded."

The Captain frowned. As Saffron watched, the bruises on his face seemed to acquire bruises, swollen and puffy as well as black and blue. One ear was bleeding and he had a deep cut to his bottom lip but he still had two eyes and two ears and that was something. Mal took a deep breath sending him into a coughing fit. Worried that the noise would bring unwelcome attention to their little corner of No and Where Saffron put her hand over his mouth, the warning in her eyes the only apology he would get. When the coughing fit passed she took her hand away and made a point of wiping it on his soaked shirtfront, ignoring the fact that he was filthy. A girl had standards to keep after all.

"Shaft?"

Her smile looked as if it belonged on a crocodile. Mayhap it did. "Yeah. The tunnels are partly collapsed an' those that aren't are flooded."

He looked down at himself, part of his back brain wondering why he wasn't shivering. "That how I got wet?"

Saffron smirked realising that he didn't remember her telling him what happened the first time round. "*Bu qu*, that was me. I managed to climb down a shaft from the surface and get out on the level of your tunnel. Shaft goes down maybe twenty, thirty feet more."

She watched him look around for the first time and noted the confusion on his face with a shake of the head.

"This isn't it. Niska's men were comin' back for you an' there was no way I could get you to climb back out the way I got in so I went for smooth."

Mal really didn't like the cat-got-the-cream look she was giving him. The twisted *pofu* was enjoying herself. "I'm guessin' I ain't gonna like this?"

"Wasn't nowhere else to go hubby an' we were outta time for Plan B so I pushed you down the shaft."

His eyes widened. "What, twenty, thirty feet? Are you *shenjingbing* woman? You could'a killed me!"

"Quit makin' a fuss, got ya out didn't I?"

"You callin' this out? 'Cause I have to say looks like we're still in the gorram mine."

"Malcolm Reynolds," she practically purred as she pressed herself up against him and giving him her most alluring look while enjoying the way he began to vibrate with anger "you are not the man I married."

"We ain't married an' I ain't your anythin'."

Saffron pouted, the effect slightly ruined by the filth in her hair and the slime and dirt clinging to her clothes and face. "Keep your voice down, sweetie."

"If you think..."

His voice was climbing, anger and agitation making her worry that one of Niska's men would hear them and come to investigate. Saffron shoved him causing the Captain to slip enough to bring them eye level. "You talk too gorram much, Reynolds."

Before he could get another word out her lips closed over his. Shocked the Captain froze for a moment, Saffron taking advantage and shoving her tongue down his throat. When she finally broke off both of them were staring at each other, the Captain breathing heavily, Saffron smiling sweetly. She slid a hand down his chest and cupped him through his pants.

"Don't get excited *fengmi*, first let's get out of here then we'll talk compensation."

She squeezed harder than was necessary to punctuate the last word, giving him a wicked smirk. The Captain's mouth opened and closed without a sound.

"You owe me big time for this an' I know just how you're gonna repay me."

Then Saffron turned and cast a critical eye around them, pausing only long enough to pick the most promising route out. They were so very close, the foul fetid air giving way to sharp cold air that both refreshed flagging lungs while chilling every breath they took. A ton of things whirled inside Mal's head but he was still processing everything that had happened while the headache from *diyu* was doing a tap dance with hob nailed boots on inside his gorram skull. The temptation to close his eyes and pinch himself was almost overwhelming but as the cold air got increasingly more frigid it seemed to clear his mind, memory bringing a sting of urgency to this little pantomime. Jayne! What the good gorram had happened to him? If Niska had him things were beyond dire. Even at his most irritating Mal wouldn't leave the man behind and there was a large part of him that looked on the mercenary as something of a friend. Maybehaps not one he would trust with the family silver but still. He was crew and you don't leave crew in enemy hands. But first he had a powerful need to get the *diyu* out of here and scrub the filth off him. And that included Saffron. Not that he expected the cunning little *pofu* to make it easy for him. After all, where would be the fun in that?

* * * * *

In the land of terrible ideas this one had to be the worst. Digging her heels in a foot of snow, Zoe stopped dead in her tracks and glared at the Shepherd through snowflakes freezing on her eyelashes. "This is a waste of time!"

Even though the words were shouted at him, Book only heard one out of every three as the fierce biting wind snatched them away but one look at the first mate's expression told him all he needed to know. The Shepherd felt bad, this had been his idea and what had seemed so straightforward and simple when they left Serenity now looked like an exercise in madness. How in the nine hells had he expected to find anyone in this? It would not have been so bad if the mine wasn't so delapidated as to be totally unstable with some sections completely impossible to get access to. Now they were trying to make headway through a gorram blizzard. If God knew what to do He wasn't saying.

Wash couldn't stop shivering and shuffled as close to Zoe as he could get so that he could tug at her sleeve without pulling his arms too far away from his body. Even that small movement let more chill worm its' way to his bones. "*Bao bei*, we have to go. Get back to the shuttle."

She frowned and shook her head. Couldn't hear him. Wash leaned close to her ear and tried again, this time getting a nod of agreement back, his breath forming tiny icicles on her outer ear. She moved her lips to his ear this time. "Can't take off in this, Wash." He shivered, harder this time. Teeth rattling together like an unquiet skeleton being shaken out of its' closet. "*Wo zhidao* b.b..but at least we'll be w..w..warm an' able to dry out 'til the w..w..weather improves."

Her look good as said *will it improve*? But Wash didn't know the answer to that. All he knew was that visibility was down to inches not feet and he could no longer feel his extremities. Every shaft and tunnel they had found was a dead end, some literally. Tripping over what he thought were loose stones had been sobering, the bones breaking beneath his feet. Cold and brittle and so long dead that it seemed a travesty to disturb them now and pointless to make a grave. Too many bones for one body and too scattered by whatever passed for predators on this ball of ice. Didn't matter an iota that a day or so ago it had been one third rock, two thirds water. As far as Wash could tell it seemed to be all ice now.

Shoulders slumped they made their way back to the shuttle, almost missing it in the dreadful weather. The shuttle looked like nothing so much as a snow covered rock. Zoe frowned, worried. She did not need to look up into the leaden sky to know the weather was actually getting worse. Bad enough that they couldn't rescue the Captain and Jayne she now had to wonder who in the sphincter of hell would be able to rescue them.

* * * * *

The crack of gunfire was short, sharp and punctuated only by a thin trail of upwardly rising smoke as Adelei Niska handed the gun back to Bran. Cassidy watched nervously, trying hard not to look down at his former partner. The outward growing pool of blood where his head had been more than a mite distracting. After a last check to make sure everything was secure, Niska had sent them to fetch Captain Reynolds. Finding the prisoner no longer in the blocked in tunnel had filled both men with dread. Facing Niska with the news had proved that fear well founded.

"Always, I am surrounded by incompetents, yes?"

Cassidy did not reply, he did not have to. It was a rhetorical question. He watched Niska pace, the crime lord's expression far from happy. Beside him, Bran looked calm and stoic as if very little phased him. Cassidy assumed the huge wall of muscle had seen just about every kind of perversion working for Niska. It seemed the rumours he had heard were just the tip of the iceberg. Niska paused and clicked the fingers of his right hand as if summoning a waiter. Bran moved closer.

"I want a search. A **very** thorough search, *dong ma*? Malcolm Reynolds must be found. He is not to leave Sentosa."

The big man nodded and left. Now it was just Niska and Cassidy. The crime lord watched the tension in Cassidy's body, the way beads of sweat were trickling down the young thug's face. It amused him but he had no intention of killing him today. "Is not good to fail Adelei Niska." "Yes, sir!"

Niska stepped towards Cassidy, humour fleetingly brushing across his thin narrow lips as the man failed to hide a shudder from his boss. Niska tilted his head and light caught the round lens of his glasses hiding his eyes for a moment. Cassidy could feel his fear increase a notch, his heart pounding as it laboured to keep beating through his pale attempt to deny the onset of utter terror. "I trust you will not fail me, Mr Cassidy?" The silky voice purred setting the hairs on the back of Cassidy's neck on end.

"No, sir!"

"For you, I would like not to kill, yes?"

Cassidy nodded vigorously in reply to that mild creepy voice, unable to form words for the fear gripping his throat. Niska gave a benign looking smile and took a step back. Fear was a good thing. Healthy. Intelligent. Only stupid men had no fear. Stupid and honourable men like Malcolm Reynolds. But even stupid men could be brought to heel and once his men located the Captain he would teach him very patiently just how much incurring Niska's displeasure would cost him. Yes. By the time he finished with Malcolm Reynolds he would envy the dead and beg to join their number only Niska would not be so merciful. This time he did not want days from Serenity's Captain. Oh no. He would make the agony last weeks, months if he could. His last henchman had been good at inflicting pain, very good, but Bran was showing much promise. Refined his techniques into a much more subtle form of torture. To Niska it was like watching an artist at work. The crime lord clasped his hands together and tented the index fingers, tapping them against his lips as he considered the gamut of pleasures yet to come.

With an absent minded wave of the hand he indicated for Cassidy to remove the body allowing the petrified man an excuse to escape before he defecated himself, threw up or did both. A little sigh of pleasure escaped Niska's pursed lips as he reviewed the implements of his singular passion. Almost reverently he reached forth and opened a box, the round head of the device inside sparking nothing but joyful memories. Niska stroked a thoughtful hand over the head avoiding the power cable even though it was not switched on. This time he would be more careful. Bringing someone again and again to the point of death was so much more satisfying that killing them outright and reanimating the corpse before it cooled. There was only so much a physical body could endure and Serenity's Captain must not be allowed to die until he had finished with him. Yes. Days would be good. Give him time to savour every cry of pain and every tear of blood. But weeks. Ah, yes. Weeks would be better still and Bran had the more delicate sensibility when it came to eliciting the most exquisite levels of pain, the most dire of agonies, and the most drawn out levels of torture. It would mean needing to tend the worst of the Captain's wounds in order to preserve his life but not enough to heal him. No. Malcolm Reynolds would not die. He would just wish he had.

* * * * *

The sea was a raging torrent. Where the undertow dragged everything that could be moved below its' immense tidal pressure the irregular rocky ground beneath causing objects to catch and snag, some breaking up as the foul weather and stormy sea competed for dominance. The body was heavy, weighed down with clothing soaked in water and blood. Too pale skin took on a bloated aspect, bruises livid and dark crowded across face, neck, chest and arms. Tatters of cloth ripped away from the torso, matted hair clung to the scalp like a second skin. A big wave lifted the body before letting it fall, a scatter of bigger rocks catching it above the water line. The weight and sudden compression caused by impact forcing the lungs to deflate, the body tumbling and rocking the diaphram open again. Tossed about like a rag doll air was forced through the reluctant body, salt water pouring out of the sagging mouth like tears, motionless heart kick started into erratic racing tremors. Limbs twitched and a dead man gasped. Not awake, not dreaming. The nightmare too real for the mind to be entertained.

Lying half broken upon the rocks, it was the icy hand of Mother Nature that woke Jayne Cobb. With a startled gasp he managed to turn on one side just in time to throw up. The rattle in his lungs and pain in his chest told him he had several cracked or broken ribs. Flopping on to his back took all the energy he had left. *Wode ma*, he didn't care. He was alive and for now that was miracle enough.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*mei mei* = little sister *qu* = yes (lit. go) *lese* = crappy *diyu* = hell *dong ma* = understand? *Yesu* = Jesus *wei* = hey! *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *pofu* = bitch *shenjingbing* = crazy *fengmi* = honey *wo zhidao* = I know *bao bei* = precious/treasure *wode ma* = mother of God

COMMENTS

Sunday, March 9, 2008 11:22 AM

SLUMMING


*gasp* This chapter was quite harrowing! Your descriptive language is altogether too convincing!

Monday, March 10, 2008 4:23 AM

WYTCHCROFT


woah - didn't see this coming!:)
you got a surefire prose style too!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 3:40 AM

JANE0904


Good work! I love Saffron telling Mal she's intending some interesting compensation, but Niska's plans are somewhat ... terrifying! Need more soon!


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