Volcano's Edge - Part V
Monday, July 7, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The crew leave Phoros, and head for a meeting. NEW CHAPTER


Simon insisted that Peter Frye stay in the infirmary for twenty-four hours in case there were complications from the drug that had knocked him and Hank out so effectively. He’d finally managed, from the blood he’d taken, to identify it as something called Jutoprocaine, which worried him.

“It’s almost exclusive to Alliance hospitals, in the psych wards,” he told Mal. “Its immediate effect is useful in subduing aggressive patients, but the side effects can be disquieting.”

“The allergic reaction? Like Pete had?” Mal spoke quietly as they stood in the common area outside the infirmary. “But it didn’t affect Hank.”

“They were lucky,” was all Simon would say.

“Alliance.” Mal hitched his thumbs into his pockets. “But you said it was only almost exclusive?”

“Well, no drug remains under lock and key forever,” Simon explained. “No matter what it is there’s someone willing to pay a price for it, to try and get a high.”

“Does it? Make you high?”

“In tiny amounts, yes. It also destroys your kidneys, pulmonary system, attacks the –“

Mal held up a hand. “I get the picture.”

“That’s why I wanted to keep Peter under observation.”

“In case something else came up.”


“And now?”

Simon glanced back through the window, looking into the cool blue room to where Kaylee was laughing and joking with her brother. “He can go home. I can leave a syringe of the antihistamine with him, but I doubt sincerely he’ll need to use it.”

“Look, if you ain’t sure he’s gonna be okay –“

The young doctor crossed his arms. “I'm sure.”

“Anyone would think you didn’t wanna spend time with your in-laws,” Mal commented, walking out of the common area, a smile on his face.

As he reached the bridge, though, Freya was waiting. “I just got a wave back from Dillon.”


“We need to meet with him. He was clear on that, at least to me. He has information we need.”

“Meet?” Mal’s smile switched off. “Persephone ain't exactly my most favourite place right now, Frey. Too many Alliance.” He held up a hand. “I know I said we needed to be going out there, finding out who’s chasing us, but there’s a difference between being hands-on and being stupid.”

“And you’re never that.”

“Not knowingly, no. Well, not that often.”

“Anyway, who said Persephone?” She chuckled. “Dillon suggested a place we both know. Where we first met, in fact.”

“And where would that be?”


It was difficult leaving the Fryes, but considering what had happened in the short time since they arrived Mal knew he was doing the right thing. Even watching Kaylee saying goodbye to her mother brought a lump to his throat that he couldn’t quite swallow back.

“You take care, you hear?” Ellie said, hugging Kaylee tightly. “’Specially now.”

“Now? Why now?”

“You’ll see.”

“Ma, you seen something I need to –“

“Kaylee, now, you know I don’t talk about things like that.” She pushed her daughter away enough so she could look into her face. “But it won’t be long.”

“Ma –“

“I’m sorry, Kaylee, but we have to go.” Simon, glancing at Mal and seeing him tapping his metaphorical foot, smiled apologetically.

Ellie squeezed gently. “Go, go.” She kissed Kaylee’s cheek then let go and stood back. “Keep that family of yours safe.”

“I will.”

“And you do the same,” Ellie said, glaring at Mal. “I hear something bad’s come to pass, and I’ll tan your hide, grown man or not.”

“I’ll look forward to it,” Mal responded, making her laugh out loud.

And now they were on their way, Kaylee in the engine room checking over her baby and probably having something of a little cry at the same time, while Simon counted the dressings and suture kits in the infirmary. Jayne and River were in their shuttle, but the rest of the crew were on the bridge watching the sky turning black.

Hank adjusted their course, taking them away from Phoros and out into deep space. He blinked hard several times.

“Honey?” Zoe asked quietly.

“I'm okay,” he said, glancing up into her dark face, seeing the concern there. “Just a little double-vision. It’s going away now anyway.”

Mal moved forward a step. “If you ain't fit to fly –“

“I didn’t say that,” the pilot insisted. “Hell, I can take off and land with my eyes closed.”

“Sure feels like you do sometimes.”

“Oh, ha, very funny.” Hank adjusted the engine burn-through. “And I wasn’t the one with the problems.”

“Pete’ll be okay,” Freya said, sitting in the co-pilot’s chair. “Mrs Frye isn’t going to let him out of her sight for some time.”

“A grown man, under the thumb of his Ma.” Hank chuckled.

“Do you think Ben’s going to be any different?” Freya raised an eyebrow at him, and Hank looked guiltily up at Zoe.

“How it should be,” Mal put in, his arms crossed in front of him. “But that don’t get away from the fact someone took the pair of you, and I'm feeling more than a little bemused as to why they let you go without harm.”

“I’m pretty grateful for that,” Hank said quickly.

“The point is they could’ve done anything, from torture to just shooting you dead. But whoever’s doing this wants us to sweat.” He shook his head. “I'm just hoping Dillon has some decent news for us.”

“And to that end, I’m kinda wondering what our destination is.” Hank half-turned in his seat. “Much as I like seeing where your wit and whimsy takes us, I’m presuming we actually do have someplace to go.”

“We do. Ephesus.”

“That half-assed place?”

“Not my choice.” Mal turned his blue gaze onto Freya. “Seems my wife here and Dillon met on that sorry piece of rock, only that’s all she’s told me.”

“You sure he’s sly?”

“Lately I ain’t been sure of anything.”

Freya smiled sweetly and stood up. “Since it’s going to take us the best part of two days to get there, I’m going to prepare for lessons.” She looked at Zoe. “If you wouldn’t mind getting the children together in a few minutes.”

“Of course.” The first mate watched as her friend left the bridge. “She really hasn't told you about her adventures, sir?”

“Nope.” If anything, Mal’s arms were tighter than ever. “Not a damn word.”

“You could always try ordering her to.”

“Since when did that work? With any of you?” Mal groused and hurried after his wife.

Hank laughed, working out the destination and quickest route. “Can we go along and eavesdrop?”

“They’re not going to fight.” Zoe lowered herself into the still warm chair.




“How come she ain't told him, though?” Hank glanced up. “I mean, thought they didn’t have secrets?”

“You know as well as me we all have secrets. All of us.”

He didn’t need to look to see the expression in her eyes. “I guess we do. ‘Cept some of us are trying to change.”

“I know.” Her voice has softened, and when he did raise his head, he was relieved beyond measure to see her smiling at him. “I know,” she repeated.

Outside in the corridor Mal smiled. He knew he shouldn’t really be listening in to a private conversation, but sometimes he heard stuff that made his job as captain easier. Besides, there were occasions when he wondered whether eavesdropping was the only thing he was good at. Still, he was glad he had this time. Since Newhall, there had been moments when he had the notion Zoe was trying to come to a decision, and he worried it might be one that left him without a pilot, but from what he’d just heard, it sounded as if she’d forgiven him. Maybe getting kidnapped had helped.

Satisfied that Hank didn’t have a date with the airlock today, he sauntered into the galley, where Freya was setting up the portable Cortex link. He watched her for a moment, then said, “Can you make do without that thing? In your lessons.”

She looked up in surprise. “The screen?”

“Yeah.” He crossed the room to stand next to her. “I know it sounds crazy, and you can get Simon to dope me if you like, but I’m kinda wondering if this ain’t how they tracked us.”

“Using the Cortex?”

“They had to know where we were, Frey. It ain't like they had someone waiting on every planet we’ve ever been, so they either followed us or they knew where we were gonna be. The former ain't likely, ‘cause Hank’s too good at his job not to notice, so I tend to think it’s the latter.”

“That would mean they hacked the system, figured out our individual address ... Mal, the Cortex code is supposed to be unbreakable.”

“You believe that?”

“About as much as I believe in Santa Claus.”

He smiled slightly and slid his arm around her waist. “And I thought he brought you to me.”

“There is that.” She put her head onto one side. “You really think they’re capable of pulling off something like this?”

“Honestly? No. But I just don’t want to test the theory more’n I have to.”

“Then I’ll make do with something else.” She smiled. “And before you ask, we were hiding.”

He looked confused. “What?”

“Me and Dillon.”

“You been peeking again?”

“No. But you don’t cover up the fact that you’re curious.”

“Not curious. Just ... interested.”


“Look, just tell me.”

She grinned. “Well, my old boss on the Lancaster said we were just taking a break, but we – the rest of the crew – figured someone wasn’t too pleased with the job we’d just pulled, and we were having to lie low. I met Dillon one evening in church.”

His eyebrows raised. “Church? But I didn't think you –“

“No more I did. Or do. But it was the one quiet place in town where I could sit and think, decide what I was going to do.”

“You mean join up or not?”


“I didn’t know you were acquainted with Dillon before the war.”

“Lot of things you don’t know about me, Mal.”

“Ain't that the truth.” His eyes narrowed. “Wait a minute. You told me you introduced him and Breed, and that you knew the latter first.”

“And that’s true. I already knew Breed.” She moved out of his embrace and sat down. “Don’t you want to hear the story?”

He pulled his chair out quickly and dropped into it. “Now I’ve finally gotten you talking about it? A’course I do.”

“Breed was on the Lancaster too, working his passage until he could get home. I think I was the only one on board who knew he was sly.”

“He trusted you.”

“Not quite sure why.”

“He probably just looked at you and fell in love, even a little bit.”

“Mal, the man likes other men.”


She smiled and shook her head. “Anyway, Dillon was on Ephesus doing pretty much the same as us, only he was in the church to pray. We got talking.”

“What about?”

“Things. Nothing in particular. Just talking.”

“Why do I get the feeling you ain’t quite telling me the whole truth?”

“Not sure. So we talked for hours, and after that we kept in touch.”

“You didn’t pimp Breed out then?”

She hit him on the arm. “You’re disgusting.”

“But you love me.”

“Sometimes I wonder. And no, I didn’t. I didn’t introduce them for another six months, when I knew I could trust Dillon, and just before I signed on the dotted line and lost six years of my life.”

Mal leaned forward. “Found me, though.”

She copied him. “And that took even more time.”

“Sorry ‘bout that. Can't help being stupid sometimes.”

“As long as you’ve come to your senses now.”

“You come down to our bunk and I’ll show you ...”

Their lips touched, and as much as they knew and understood each other, it was like the first time again.

Someone coughed.

“I think your students have arrived,” Mal said, hardly moving back at all.

Freya grinned. “I think you’re right.”

“Auntie Zoe, how come Uncle Mal and Auntie Frey’re always kissing?” Bethie asked.

“I think you’d have to ask them that,” Serenity’s first mate said, adding dryly, “Only if I were you I’d wait a few years.”


Kaylee spread out the tiny parts on her workbench, each one on its own lint-free piece of cloth. Something this small, even a bit of fluff could stop it working properly, and she wasn’t going to have that. Not for the two beacons she had in mind. With what happened to Hank and Pete, she was determined to have them ready for when they landed next.

As she moved them about, deciding what would be best where, she let her mind wander over who could be after them. It wasn’t like they didn't have enemies, people who’d prefer them dead than flying. Not that the Cap’d let anything happen to them. Not a one. He’d be out there, Jayne and Zoe at his side, Frey too, taking down the bad guys ‘fore anyone could say interengine fermentation product.

She almost wished she could, too. Wear a gun and protect her family. Not that she hadn’t at times, but she knew her heart wasn't in it. The Cap was right – better she stay behind the scenes and make sure Serenity stayed healthy.

She reached out for the microdrill, then stopped, staring at her hand. It was shaking slightly. She shook it, tightened her fingers into a fist, then tried again. Nope, still shaking. And now a wave of nausea was creeping up on her, making her insides clench.

Kaylee sighed and let her hand fall back to her side. Probably all the tension, she decided. Just breathe through it and ... “Gorramit.” That same hand was now jammed over her mouth as she ran down the stairs for the passenger dorm bathroom, barely making it before she threw up her breakfast.

“Kaylee?” It was Simon. “Are you okay?”

She sat back against the wall, feeling the cool tiles against her fevered skin. “Shiny,” she managed to say.

“No, you’re not. Were you just sick?”

“It ain't nothing, Simon.” She pulled herself to her feet and ran some water into the basin, splashing her face.

“I want you to come to the infirmary.”

She closed her eyes, then looked at her reflection in the mirror. Sometimes being married to a doctor, even one as cute as Simon, was really annoying. “I'm okay. Honest. Just ... stress.” Yes. Good word. That might put him off.

It didn’t.

“I want to check your blood pressure.”

“Don't need it, honey.”

“Remember when I said I thought Serenity was making an odd noise? What did you tell me?”

Her reflection pouted. “That I was the mechanic and you were the doctor and you shouldn’t go talking about something you don’t know about.”

“Exactly. And I worry about you, bao bei. So two minutes, in the infirmary. Or I’ll tell Mal to come and get you.”

“That ain’t nice.”

“Not being nice would be telling Jayne.”

He must have walked away because it went quiet outside.

Kaylee watched as her lips muttered something obscene. Women’s problems. That’s what she should have said. He would have left her alone if she’d said that. Except he knew exactly when she was ... Her eyes widened.

to be continued


Monday, July 7, 2008 7:41 AM


i love twist endings. i swear i hope kaylee is pregnant!!! lovely

Monday, July 7, 2008 10:52 AM


Kaylee might be pregnant!! Awesome!! Love the story and the plot. :)

Monday, July 7, 2008 1:31 PM


I think Kaylee's pregnant as well but I do hope the distraction doesn't stop her getting back to fixing the two beacons before they need them. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, July 7, 2008 3:37 PM


Getting thicker an thicker in the plot department,aren't we? Looking forward to where you're going to go with this.

Monday, July 7, 2008 3:37 PM


Getting thicker an thicker in the plot department,aren't we? Looking forward to where you're going to go with this.


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“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?”

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[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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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.]

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

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

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[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

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

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“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!]