Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"The initial success of their rescue mission is marred by the face that they can't save everyone and the continued silence from Zoe, Wash and Book is beginning to make even Kaylee edgy."


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

SUMMARY: "The initial success of their rescue mission is marred by the fact that they can't save everyone and the continued silence from Zoe, Wash and Book is beginning to make even Kaylee edgy." 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.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

The end when it came was far less final than Simon Tam expected. The shock of not being corpsified numbed him until gradually it sank in that everyone was still in one piece. He blinked at his sister, his surprise like a man coming slowly out of a trance. "River?"

His sister reacted with laughter, too merry a sound for his current mood. "She fooled you! Thought the ship would break up and kill us."

Simon frowned. Survival was good, cruel tricks were not. "You could have explained, *mei mei*."

Instead of replying River rolled her eyes then turned to face the front once more, drawing Simon's attention to the fact that they could not see anything out of the window. Nothing but white. After the drama of nearly dying it was anticlimatic to realise their landing had been cushioned by a deep drift of snow. He unbuckled his seatbelt and stood up, leaning forward on the console as he tried to peer out, mentally calculating how deep the snow must be and whether or not they would have to find a way to dig themselves out.

"Won't have to dig, Simon. It's melting already."

He raised his eyebrows. "It is?"

"We came in hot even though I managed to slow our descent before landing. Friction causes heat. The surface area of Serenity is warmer than the snow." "How long do you suppose..."

Simon broke off as light began to filter its' way through, the snow already breaking up and sliding down the window revealing the storm still raging outside. It gave their situation a surreal quality. For several minutes neither of the siblings spoke. A clatter from the engine room was shortly followed by hurried footsteps then Kaylee appeared startled and breathless, her eyes bright and round with excitement. "It's snowin'! Ain't that shiny? Snow must'a cushioned our fall."

"We didn't fall, we landed." River corrected her friend.

Too happy to care Kaylee simply nodded back, her eyes shining as if they had just been on the 'verse's best rollercoaster and she was getting ready to ask to go again. Simon shook his head and smiled. He envied Kaylee her sunny outlook. To have that much faith that things would work out for the best was beyond him. He never could stop weighing up the pros and cons of every situation. Somehow his methodical appraisal of every situation they found themselves in killed any chance of spontaneity dead. Yet he only had to look at Kaylee to see it was still alive and well, a flame of hope that was always fed and would never die. Oddly enough the fanciful notion comforted him.

Seeing Simon and River just staring back at her, the mechanic put her hands on her hips. "Don't just sit there, we gotta go find the Cap'n an' Jayne!"

Simon turned his head to look at his sister, concerned to see that she was now frowning. "*Shenme shi*?"

The girl's look of increasing agitation made Kaylee's heart sink with apprehension. "What is it sweetie?"

"They've diverged! I can't see them both, Simon!"

"River, *mei mei*, it's alright. What can you see?"

"Not see, feel. It's fading." Her eyes squinted as if she was having difficulty making something out. "So hard, so much pain and he's getting weaker." River's look sharpened on her brother's face. "We have to hurry Simon, he keeps fading in and out."

Kaylee wanted to ask who but her friend was already flying off the bridge, Simon rushing after her and insisting they had to wrap up warm and he needed to grab his medical bag before leaving the ship. Kaylee prayed that they would not be too late and hoped that Zoe and the others would find their other missing crew member because the alternative just didn't bear thinking about.

* * * * *

Finding a way out took longer than expected. Her temper so frangible it could errupt at any moment the ailing Captain said nothing. Not that he had much of anything worth saying anyhow, just needed what strength he had left to put one gorram foot in front of the other. Saffron paused to tuck herself in tighter to his side. The man kept slipping from her grasp and if he fell again she was liable to just leave him. A simple job yet somehow it had gone all kinds of pear shaped. But now, at last, things were looking up. A strong gust of wind blew icy crystals into their faces. For the first time in hours Saffron smiled and it was not a rictus mocking death.

"See that, sweetie? Told ya I'd get ya out."

He didn't reply, didn't even grunt. Saffron tugged on his arm and pressed forward, the Captain stumbling along with her. As soon as they exited the ragged opening the foul weather wrapped itself around them with a vengeance. The freezing cold brought the Captain round, eyes blinking sluggishly as he tried to make sense of what was happening. Wondering why he was up to his rutting knees in snow. Saffron pushed on, almost regretting leaving the mine but knowing that staying put was too dangerous.

* * * * *

Shepherd Book wished he could find some saving grace in their current predicament. Not only had they not found Jayne and the Captain but they were unable to return to Serenity. With the foul weather worsening they had been lucky to find their way back to the shuttle. For once Wash had no snappy response to the glum news that this was one storm they would be forced to wait out. Zoe was not happy. Her full lips pressed into the kind of thin unforgiving line that not even a moron with a death wish would cross. Wash wanted to reassure her, tell her they would find them, but he didn't have the heart to fabricate a lie he couldn't put any faith in. This was bad. Staring out at the inclement weather he felt his heart sink and wondered if things could get any worse.

* * * * *

It was not very often that Bran knew real fear. He was more often than not the cause of creating that emotion in others so the unfamiliar sensation that his world was about to be ripped apart was more than unsettling. Adelei Niska was not a man to be crossed and normally this mantra was one he fully endorsed. He had no respect for the weak minded but that was before the prisoner had mysteriously escaped. And not by digging himself out of the blocked in tunnel they had thrown him in. With the help of some of the other men Bran had personally gone to see how the *hundan* had managed to get out only to find the only possible exit was a shaft running vertically from the surface to intersect the tunnel and carry on down for tens of feet below. Yet he was puzzled. Reynolds had been injured, not enough to kill him but certainly enough to make him too weak to make such a climb up or down the shaft.

He peered up but the slick slimey walls of the shaft precluded anyone gaining a useful hand or foothold to climb up. Shining the torch down he had to lean right over and peer down, the odd way the light refracted telling him that the bottom of the shaft was waterlogged. How deep? Bran tilted his head and listened. No sound. No splashing of someone making their way through the tunnel, not even the smaller sounds of a body breathing and moving out. It was quiet and that silence was too eerie for his liking especially given the volatile temperament of his *laoban*. Bran did not relish the idea of being on that man's bad side or returning to tell him that he had found no sign of Malcolm Reynolds. Steeling his resolve, Bran turned to Cassidy, Buchanan and Sharp.

"On'y one way he could have gone."

Sharp spat a plug of tobacco out of his mouth and pulled a face. "Think he fell down the shaft?"

That possibility had not occurred to Bran but it didn't matter. If the *wangba dan* was down there it was up to them to find him. Dead or alive they would drag the Captain's worthless hide back to Niska and let the crime lord peel the skin off it if that was what he wanted. Just so long as they didn't go back empty handed. "Don't matter, we're goin' down to get him."

"Shouldn't we go back for some rope?" Asked Cassiday hesitantly. He didn't fancy going down into that festering waterlogged tunnel in the first place let alone without the aid of a rope.

Bran flashed a feral grin back at him. "Nah. If Reynolds jumped it can't be that much of a drop."

"I don't think that's a good idea."

Bran glared at Cassidy and lowered his voice. "You wanna be the one to go back an' tell Mr Niska you need a rope?"

It was kind of comical to watch the man's eyes widen in alarm. "No, no, no. I'll..." The man broke off, gulped and looked down at the shaft, not sure if it looked better in torchlight or in darkness.

"Tell ya what," Buchanan smiled "ya go first an' we won't tell him you wanted to chicken out."

"But I didn't..."

Before Cassidy could finish speaking Buchanan took a step forward and nudged the young man with his shoulder. Cassidy lost his footing and with a yelp fell down the shaft. Buchanan grinned and shone his torch after him. "Ooops!"

Looking up he noticed the scowl on Bran's face. Buchanan shrugged. "Maybe Reynolds did fall."

* * * * *

For all that Serenity's hull had begun to melt the snow against the hull, they were still in a deep drift of snow. Simon could feel his eyelashes freezing together, the chill on his face making him ache with the cold. He had wanted Kaylee to stay with the ship but she wanted to help, plus the thought of being alone on the ship while the rest of the crew were out looking for the Captain and Jayne just seemed plain wrong. River turned to face her friend.

"Need you to stay."

"River, if ya find 'em you're gonna need all the help ya can get to get 'em back to Serenity."

"They're not the only ones who may need us."

Kaylee blanched. "*Shenme*? Ya mean Zoe an' Wash an' Book?"

"We're all lost in the woods, someone needs to be base camp." "I wanna help. I mean, Simon's goin'..."

"Simon's a doctor."

"Yeah but, you're goin'...."

"I know where to look. You need to stay with Serenity, keep the engine ticking over and listen to the radio."

For a moment Simon thought Kaylee would argue but then he saw her working it out and the moment when logic over rode her fear of being left alone in a white hostile world. "Oh. But you'll take radios?"

"*Qu*, though I don't know how much use they'll be in this." Simon admitted.

"Reassure me why don't you."

"Oh, *duibuqi* Kaylee, I didn't mean..."

Kaylee gave him a playful shove. "Go on. Sooner you find 'em, sooner you'll be back, *dui*?"

He nodded and pulled the ugly knitted cap Jayne had given him one Christmas down over his very cold ears. River tugged on Kaylee's arm as she turned to go back up Serenity's ramp. "Soup."

The mechanic frowned at her. "*Shenme*?"

"When we find them they'll be cold, need warming. Soup."

A smile lit her face. Nothing made Kaylee happier than knowing she could do something to help. She nodded happily back and hugged herself against the cold, swirling eddies of frozen air making her feel as if they had stepped into an ice box. "I can do that."

River smiled back, gave a distracted wave and turned to go. Simon wanted to say something to reassure Kaylee but couldn't think of anything. "Stay in the warm, okay?"

She nodded. "Okay. Be careful."

Then they were gone, trudging off through the snow but soon lost to sight. The wind whipping the snow up and turning the air to thick frosted glass. It made Kaylee shiver and not just with the cold. Running up the ramp she slammed a hand on the red button to close the door and blew on her hands, already feeling the chill seep through her bones. Trying to keep the worry at bay she checked on the engine then went to see if she could raise the shuttle one more time. There was no response. Heart quailing, Kaylee bit back the urge to cry and forced herself to go to the commons area. Most of the cans had their labels missing but shaking them and listening to the contents slosh about she found enough soup to tip into a pan then hunted around for some dried pasta. Breaking the strands up into short lengths Kaylee added it to the thin soup to give it some body then went hunting for some spices and anything else she could throw in. Half a bag of lentils and dried peas later she had the makings of a hearty soup but even though she was doing all she could to help her friends the empty echo of the ship only accentuated how lonely she felt. She missed them. Worrying as she felt some nameless fear inch towards her heart with foreboding. "River'll find 'em." She told herself firmly. But just like the big empty ship, the words sounded hollow to her ears.

* * * * *

The fierce gusts finally began to die down. The crashing waves diminishing as the water began to retreat with each subsequent wave. The tide was going out. Upon the rocks at the waters' edge a ragged bundle stirred so slowly that it might have been a trick of the eye. Snow began falling again but it seemed to lack energy, direction or the heart to turn into a proper blizzard. The figure was unaware, barely conscious and a hair's breadth from being dead. For minutes the movement was not repeated, the noise of the wind ripping through the air drowning out any other sound.

Jayne Cobb was dreaming. Or maybe he was the dream, a figment of some other *hundan's* imagination. In his mind he was somewhere warm and getting warmer. At first it was all manner of comforting and turning slowly his face felt the flush of heat from the fire. He would have smiled but for some reason his face was stiff and trying to move the muscles in it hurt. But it was the flames in the firelight that captivated him. Figures forming out of the changing colours, moving and taking on lives of their own. His mama smiling at him then looking stern and shaking her finger, one hand on her hip as if admonishing for something. The flames changed from yellow to orange and his mother morphed into his little brother, grinning all gap toothed and proud as punch as he held up a bloody tooth on a bit of string. Boy was no more'n eight. Little Mattie was so full of life and mischief but with a heart as big as the sky. It made Jayne hurt with the emotion of it all, back to summer days when nothing and no one cast a shadow upon the world in which he lived. Then Mattie had got sick and he never smiled at him again. Ruttin' *diyu* he would give every last tooth in his head to see that boy smile again. But now, now he was burning. What the gorram was going on? Had someone piled on more logs? But no, there was no fire. So where had all the flames come from? Gorramit, the house was on fire! Panic rose in his chest but he couldn't get his legs to work, opened his mouth to cry out for help but the words wouldn't come. Frozen tears that wouldn't melt in the heat glazed his eyes while the flicker of light mocked him. Mattie! Jayne tried to swallow past the tears in his throat then felt bile crowding back up his windpipe, chocking him. He closed his eyes and felt icicles crunch into little splinters, the wet on his cheeks too salty for tears. Soft layers of snowflakes sliding down his face as his heart stuttered. The hand on his face drew no response. Something shook him but he paid it no never mind. If this was living he'd take dying any day. Then something brushed his ear. It hurt something fiercesome but he could not turn his head away. Pain puffed against his eardrum and it took forever for enough sound to register in his brain as words. Words?

"Jayne! Jayne, you have to wake up, *dong ma*?"

He couldn't respond. Simon felt anxiously for a pulse while River rubbed the big man's frozen hands vigorously, carefully avoided the many cuts and wounds on his body. Simon shot his sister a look then did a quick assessment, prying the mercenary's eyes open to shine a light in them. That produced a faint pain-filled groan. To Simon it was music to his ears but it was only too obvious that even with River's help he would not be able to get Jayne back to Serenity.

"Too heavy."

Simon finished checking the big man over and looked at his sister. "We need help. First we have to get him off these rocks and into some shelter if we can find any."

His sister shook her head. "Too dangerous."

"River, he'll die if we don't find a way to raise his temperature *mashang*."

"*Wo zhidao* but it isn't safe."

For a moment Simon just stared at her, his heart missing a beat. "You mean...?"

She looked agitated. "They're not looking for him, Simon."

Simon was confused and glanced nervously over his shoulder then back at his sister, as if expecting enemies to appear from behind every rock. "Where are they?"

"Close but they're looking the other way." River paused, head tilting, a far away look in her eyes then after a moment or two she straightened. Worry flickered across her face then a steely resolve replaced it. You couldn't save everyone.

He was about to tell her they couldn't leave Jayne when he noticed River was walking away from them. Frowning, Simon was about to shout out when he saw his sister bend and tug at something half buried under the snow. As she brushed her hand across it he gave a little smile. It was a piece of boarding. Where it had come from he didn't know but right now it was the answer to a prayer. River dragged it over to him and between them they eased Jayne onto the board then with a lot of tugging and pushing managed to drag their friend's unresponsive body down the side of the waters' edge until River indicated a long flat slab of rock and they pulled the makeshift sled onto it. "River..."

"Ssshh, no talking."

Simon dropped his voice to a very quiet whisper but continued to drag the board with his sister's help, amazed when they got around the corner of the bluff to find a more or less sheltered beach but instead of sand it was covered in snow. "Where are we going?"

"Where no one will follow."

"I thought you said no one was looking for him?"

The look on her face said she thought he was a boob. "They aren't but the situation is fluid."

"It is?"

River wondered how much to tell him. "There are too many of them and they are looking for something."

Simon wasn't sure he was following her. "But not Jayne?"

She shook her head and half tugged and half guided the board while inwardly fretting. Before Simon could put two and two together she interrupted his thoughts. "Hurry!"

Alarmed, he checked over his shoulder but there was no one there.

She frowned at him. "Don't think, Simon. Do."

"Yes, but if someone is coming they'll see the tracks in the snow."

To his consternation, River did not seem concerned. Instead she gifted him with a blinding smile. "Exactly!"

* * * * *

He couldn't stand. The turned ankle had to be broken, it had to! Cassidy was sure he could feel the broken bones rub against each other if he tried to move it. A big hand caught him by the arm and pulled him to his feet. With a cry he almost folded but the hand wouldn't let go. A voice growled in his ear like an angry and impatient bear.


Cassidy swallowed hard, recognising Buchanan's voice. "I c...can't. It's broken."

In the dim light he could not make out the expression on Buchanan's face but knew it would be a mean one. He did however, hear the distinctive click of a gun being cocked. "When a horse can't walk 'cause it's lame you shoot it."

Fear trickled down his back. "I'm not a horse, you can't shoot me!"

A dark chuckle answered him. With a jolt he realised the cold barrel had been placed against the side of his head. Cassidy shut his eyes and felt his whole body tremble. "You fell. Ain't like the boss is gonna come an' look see, *dong ma*?"

"Enough!" Bran pushed the gun away from Cassidy's head and shone his torch at Buchanan. "No one gets killed unless the boss says so."

Buchanan looked as if he wanted to take a swing at Bran, except even he wasn't stupid enough to take on the mountain of a man who could snap him in half with one hand. Didn't mean he had to like having him spoil his fun. "Was just gonna scare him a little."

Bran turned his torch and played the light across Cassidy's torso, stopping when it illuminated a spreading damp patch. Buchanan howled with laughter and put his gun back in its' holster, Cassidy flushing with shame. As Buchanan stomped off down the tunnel with a chuckle Bran gave Cassidy a serious look. "If you can't put your weight on the foot you'll have to hop 'cause we won't be comin' back this way, *dong ma*?"

Nodding, Cassidy eased himself upright and tentatively put weight on the damaged ankle. It hurt like a bitch but the ankle held. With a grunt Bran waved for the man to follow at his own pace after making his own assessment. "Ain't so bad, just a sprain."

Half hopping and half hobbling, Cassidy followed the other two painfully along the tunnel, cursing the stinking water that got deeper as they continued, and trying not to slip on the uneven ground. Over an hour passed in near silence as the tunnel twisted and turned before begining to rise. A couple of hours later they reached an opening to the surface, the snow giving some light to the falling darkness but not before they spotted the signs of someone having been there before them. As cold as it was, all three men were heartened at the thought that their efforts were about to bear fruit. Cupping his hand around the end of the torch, Bran made a sign for the other two to be still and shone the light down on the snow. A slow smile of satisfaction formed on his cold lips. Not only was the snow disturbed leaving deep heavy tracks going away from the tunnel and up the mountainside, the glistening white of the snow was tinged with crimson.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*mei mei* = little sister *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *hundan* = bastard *laoban* = boss *wangba dan* = fucking bastard *shenme* = what? *qu* = yes (lit. go) *duibuqi* = sorry *dui* = correct *diyu* = hell *dong ma* = understand? *mashang* = at once/immediately/on the double *wo zhidao* = I know


Thursday, March 20, 2008 9:59 AM


Well done, am looking forward to the next chapter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008 11:38 AM


Wow, everybody's in such a state! I'll be interested to see how you write them back to health again! :D


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.