The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 13)
Monday, July 21, 2008

The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 13. Mal's cover is altogether blown, and he must figure out how to keep the mission from going south - but he has only one dangerous way to get the word out.


Well, folks, it goes without saying that I'm in pretty bad shape right now. However that ain't gonna make me leave you hanging for a week or more without an update or some responses. As River said in the last post - which, apparently, several of you appreciated - I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.


PhyreLight, what makes you think you get blamed for everything? I'm just making a little merry, is all. God knows some merriment is badly needed now, and this time I have a hell of a lot more to thank you for than just beta work.

Angellemarcs, thanks - any River cuteness I can insert, in it goes. (Okay, I know 'River cuteness' is redundant but there it is.)

Jane0904, I saw you left a comment right before the site went Reaver and ate it. As I recall you also said something about River quoting 'The Little Engine That Could'. Can't remember what else you said, but whatever it was, thank you. You're most helpful keeping this thing in the air.

AMDOBELL, truth to say, I have been a little worried lately about infusing the fic with too much technical detail. Fortunately this should be the last of it for awhile. Unfortunately I never did get my steam engineer ticket before leaving my last job, but have since found that running a steamer is like riding a bike in more ways than one (amongst them, much much less pollutive than a diesel :P).

MDRLTC, *sigh*....I didn't even think of that. What I did think of, though, was an actual occasion when I moved a tank car that had been sitting out in the open and exposed to the elements for about that long. But thank you for enjoying it despite the inaccuracies. As to the bit with Book's breviary, yes, that was sort of a generic reference to a prayer book.

Katesfriend, don't get too used to the tension because I'm about to amp it up again. This is going to be the kind of post that, if televised, my mom would be unable to watch. Thank you for sticking by; you, too, are really helping to keep both me and the fic flying.

darbymonster, actually no, you never have said that about fitting all the characters in. I actually have had a pretty hard time making Jayne fit, along with Simon and Inara - but you know, it's called an 'ensemble' cast for a reason. Everybody needs their fair share of air there, crew as well as OCs. I think you'll find a lot more where that came from in this post. (I'm in the Upper Valley of NH/VT, so not terribly close to where you were - but maybe about twenty seconds from spitting distance.)

However, Mal's unwelcome company is about to get even closer....

Part 12


"Okay," Wash said to himself, stepping forward into the guard van's doorway. "Now I'm learning about scary!" He poked his head as far as he dared out of the door, leery of being decapitated by an outcropping until he could see the tunnel exit just ahead. Nevertheless, holding Serenity in position above a speeding train was to him a far less daunting prospect than jumping off of one moving at a near plod.

"I ain't so sure about this, Mal!" he hollered at his radio.

"You're not afraid of dyin' now, are you?" Mal replied.

"No, I'm afraid of breaking my neck and then living!" Wash almost dropped the radio in his haste for the grab irons as the guard van rocked over a low spot.

"Yeah, then maybe you'll get that first up-close peek at Carabella's torture chamber," Mal pointed out. It was all Wash needed to hear – he took a very deep breath and held it, pocketing his radio, death-clutching the grab irons on either side of the doorway and watching the last couple of cars exit the tunnel ahead of him.

"All right, okay," he continued to himself. "Less with the torture chamber and more with the courage bottle. How hard can it be? Just gotta, I dunno, pick a spot....kinda ease myself out the door here, try not to trip and fall!!!" He barely caught himself from doing just that as Robert increased throttle and the coupler slack stretched abruptly, almost jarring Wash out of the doorway. "Regroup...." he puffed. "Wait till I see the shuttle....wish I had my own stunt double at times like this....extend one foot, wish for happy landings, God save my battered and ruined body and shen sheng gou shi!!!" he finished in a wild yell as he released the grab irons and leaped from the doorway.

For momentum's sake he had jumped in the same direction the train was moving, but the guard van had rocked the wrong way at the wrong time, throwing him off balance and sending him sprawling forward as he landed. His adrenaline surged on his impact with the ground, and he barely twisted his upper body in time to hit it rolling instead of impacting full force on his face. He heaved himself up onto his knees, the guard van's rear end clunked past him and he looked across the tracks, wheezing – but caught his breath a second time at the sight of the reinforcements dashing into view. He couldn't make out the yells of the two miners still hunkering behind the rock-pile but they were both motioning wildly at the withdrawing train, egging their cronies on toward it.

With a muttered curse, Wash leaped to his feet and made a mad dash for the shuttle. He was upon it in half a dozen strides, fumbling for the lock and shooting a frantic glance over his shoulder, just long enough to see that it was not the train but him and the shuttle being set upon by perhaps eight of the enemy. Damn, what I wouldn't give for that assault rifle! he thought as he punched in the release code on the door lock. The door wasn't even half open before he flung himself through it, bolted for the cockpit and thereupon secured the door.

He had never timed himself prepping either Serenity or one of the shuttles for flight, but he was positive of breaking his own speed record in snapping off the standby and punching his way through the ignition sequence. The miners were almost upon the right-of-way and approaching at a dead run by the time he had fired up the engines. Channelling all thrust to the repulsors, he lifted the shuttle no more than ten feet off the ground, banked sharply and throttled up, swooping in low upon the band of encroachers.

The miners flung themselves for their lives to the ground – but even though the shuttle was at a harmless altitude, its repulsors made a potent psychological weapon. For an unbearable second their heat enveloped the miners and left them prone on the ground, anxious to ascertain that none of them had reached ignition point.

"Ha-ha!" Wash shouted triumphantly as he pulled the shuttle upward. "Let the last horrible laugh belong to me, and only me! Ahahaha!" It was a laugh he reserved chiefly for his dinosaur play, but working up courage enough to win the first round inspired him to make an exception. He ascended and looped briefly around the tunnel entrance just to make sure that none of the miners were still of the mind to pursue the train on foot – even though it was well beyond such a distance. The last gun car was now crossing through the switch onto the main line, with only four cars left to follow.

"We're all clear, Mal!" Wash yelled into the comm speaker. "Party's over for those guys!"

"All right, get up here," Mal responded. "You'll take the shepherd and the kiddies off the other engine and take 'em ahead to Pecola. Gonna need the best outta you here, Wash, we ain't got time to stop!" Leaning out of the gangway, he waved to Zoe, who was already leaning out of the other engine awaiting orders.

"Zoe, get those three ready to hop the shuttle when it gets here!" Mal shouted. "And be ready to do it on the fly!"

Zoe half-saluted, half-waved in acknowledgement, and pulled back into the cab to find that she already had the undivided attention of Book and the Tams. "Time for you three to go," she instructed firmly. "Wash'll be up here in a second, but we ain't even got that many to lose. Best get you off afore we get movin' too fast."

Book, she could see, was perturbed but calmly understanding of the situation, as was River. Simon, on the other hand, was wide-eyed with fear, though whether he was more fearful for his sister's safety or his own it was difficult to say. What they were about to do called not only for a feat of aeronautic agility that none save Wash could achieve, but for a degree of intrepidity and balance by all three of them to detrain with all their bones intact. Zoe gently nudged River clear of the coal gate on the front of the tender, opened it, and led the way through, starting up the loose pile of coal toward the top of the water tank.

Biting her lip tensely, Kaylee eyed the steam gauge: it was still steady at 225 pounds, but the water level had dropped – any lower and it would be in the danger zone for a boiler explosion. Robert was steadily increasing throttle, approaching twenty miles per hour and already it was undebatably clear that slowing down was not an option. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Kaylee increased the oil flow and then the injector feed, as far as she could reckon was necessary to recover the water level while keeping the pressure steady. She couldn't afford to lose steam now, but she could afford even less to risk blowing the engine sky high.

Tempting though it might be to skim the roof of the train, Wash wasn't about to take chances with turbulence. He raced the shuttle over the treetops at a safe distance for no more than a few seconds before he saw Zoe clambering to the top of the coal pile on the second engine's tender. The loose pile was a considerably more daunting climb than the rocks at the end of the mine's escape passage, but she made it far enough to attain a solid hold on the grab iron rimming the water tank and pull herself onto it: a quick squatting pivot and she extended a helping hand to River, Simon, and finally Book as Wash winged the shuttle up alongside the tender. He throttled back and yawed slightly to starboard, the better to prevent his three passengers from tripping even though he was a scant four feet from the side of the tender. The shuttle was moving at a dead crawl as far as he was concerned, but his airspeed concerned him far less than maintaining the safest possible distance. The proximity alert was already going almost haywire squealing the gap between shuttle and train.

"I have a very bad feeling about this," Simon said, venturing a peek over the side of the tender at the ground rushing by at an ever-increasing pace.

"Just don't look down, whatever you do," Zoe instructed. Waving through the cockpit windows to Wash, she made a hand motion to pantomime opening the door: within a second of Wash's nod, the door to the shuttle was sliding aside, forcing him to fight the turbulence of in-rushing air.

Zoe picked her way along the top of the rocking tender back to the other three, all of whom were squatting or kneeling in the middle, all but River eyeing the waiting shuttle door. The head engine, exhausting at four strokes per second, was now leading the charge at only twenty-five miles per hour but the wind and the passage of the landscape gave the tender-top quartet a perception of at least sixty.

"Someone's gotta go first," Zoe said tersely.

"Last shall be first and first shall be last," Book quoted. He gingerly rose, widely bracing his feet apart against the rocking motion of the tender, and regarded Simon and River with a compassionate smile: it would be best for all if he boarded the shuttle first to help them inside. Then he turned around and launched himself toward the gaping doorway.

Wash gnashed his teeth as the shuttle yawed sharply to starboard with the sudden jolt of Book's entrance. He struggled briefly but evened his flight in a second, looking over his shoulder, seeing that Book had managed both hands and one knee inside for starters. From there it was an easy finish as he lifted his other leg far enough to boost himself, with no shortage of effortive grunting and gasping, into the shuttle, where he flopped on the deck next to the door.

"You okay, Shepherd?" Wash called.

"Fine," Book puffed. "River's next. Hold it steady."

"More or less a given," Wash muttered under his breath. He glanced ahead to see Kaylee leaning out her window on the lead engine, Mal leaning out of the gangway behind her, both enraptured by the thickening tension at play just behind them.

Despite the ascending grade, the track was ramrod-straight as far as the eye could see, allowing Robert to increase speed steadily and Wash to keep pace with him purely by vision. A light haze of smoke began to spew from the stack, and Wash swallowed hard, leery of flying by instruments alone if the smoke grew thick enough to obscure his view. Book, meanwhile, rose onto one knee and leaned halfway through the shuttle door to see River striking a pose identical to his just before he jumped on board. Simon was still half-kneeling behind her, holding her waist as if unwilling to let her go.

"Ready?" Zoe called to Book, who nodded an affirmative. "It's all you, little one," Zoe addressed River. "You can make it."

River didn't seem to hear. She wasn't even looking at Book's outstretched hand: she was staring fixedly at the threshold of the shuttle door, and none of her companions could know that she was calculating solely by eyesight the distance from the side of the tender to the safety of the doorway.

"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...." she chanted under her breath, her tongue keeping perfect pace with the head engine's exhaust. Taking into account the length of her own stride and wind resistance, she all at once broke free of Simon's grasp and bolted for the shuttle. Her first step found firm purchase on the top of the water tank and her second right on top of the grab iron at its edge: then her dancer's grace carried her smoothly off the edge and within range of Book's hand. Each grabbed the other's forearm in a quick but solid hold, Book hauled back and pulled River cleanly into the shuttle, where she flung herself flat on the deck as Wash hastily compensated for her weight.

Both Kaylee and Simon sighed heavily with relief at River's safe entry, but Simon's sigh gave way to a deep gulp as his turn drew nigh. Teetering and tottering, he drew himself up to his feet, trying to brace himself against the rocking but still needing support from Zoe to keep his balance at first. Book and River were now both crouching on either side of the doorway, hands extended, beckoning. He snapped his head to one side to avoid a cloud of smoke that suddenly enveloped it and as suddenly passed by: but what happened next set the standard for all future suddenness as Simon made his move.

Another smoke cloud shot between him and the shuttle in the same instant, and he shortened his stride only a smidge too far – next thing he knew the helping hands were out of reach, and he was toppling off the side of the tender as his foot caught under the grab iron. He vaguely heard River's scream over his own, but Zoe's yell went completely unnoticed as she jerked forward and grabbed him by the waist. Her yank was near painful but far less so than his impact on the top of the water tank, knocking the wind out of him. In his struggle to breathe he didn't even see the shuttle veer away from the train with River and Book pulling quickly back inside.

"Ohmigod, Simon!" Kaylee squeaked, leaning almost halfway out of her window at the horrifying sight to the rear.

"Wash, what the hell!" Mal roared into his radio.

"It's getting awful smoky back here!" Wash yelled. "Can't hardly see what I'm doin'!"

Kaylee's breath caught in a gasp – she'd been so anxiously watching the midair transfer that she hadn't even noticed the smoke blowing past the shuttle. She twisted forward with soaring pulse to see that her increase of the oil flow had created an ever-darkening plume of smoke, which at their present speed didn't quite spew high enough to pass over the shuttle.

"Sorry!" she cried, reaching indiscriminately for the oil valve.

"Blower, Kaylee!" Robert shouted, pointing. "Use the blower!"

"Okay, okay, okay!" Kaylee's hands danced frenetically as she disregarded the manifold and went for the blower, a small valve mounted by itself at the side of the backhead. A couple of quick twists on the valve and a high-velocity steam jet was upward bound from the stack, increasing draft on the fire, blowing the smoke clear but not easing Wash's respiration as he steadied his flight path.

"Okay, that's better," he radioed.

"Simon!" River's scream made it apparent that for her it was far from better. Clinging to the doorjamb, she hung almost halfway beyond it, unable to feel anything beyond terror and pain from her brother.

At length Simon rolled over and lifted his head far enough to manage a shout. "I'm okay!" he hollered. "But I don't know if I want to try that again!"

"Doc!" Zoe barked, bending over him. "It's either this, or get blowed up with us if we run into more trouble! You're here and your sister's there, now what's it gonna be?!"

Simon was almost hyperventilating, but Zoe's vehemence and the sight of River's desperate little face in the shuttle doorway made up his mind. Wash had winged back over the train, reduced throttle and then altitude, keeping pace, and taking only a couple of brief glances over his shoulder to see if his efforts were paying off. The proximity alert bleeped furiously, its screen showing the shuttle twenty feet off the ground but less than ten feet from the edge of the train.

"Can he make it from there?" Wash shouted over his shoulder.

"It'll be a long shot," Book answered. "Drift right about four feet if you can, just to be safe."

"Seems kind of a contradiction at this point," Wash commented. He breathed deeply, eyeing his airspeed and the pace of the train, loath to drop Simon off its side as he slipped the shuttle ever so slightly to starboard.

"Down, nice and easy!" Book called, his voice barely audible over the wind. "Few feet and he should have it!" Looking down, he concentrated not on Simon's terrified visage but on the tender deck, relatively steady beneath the shuttle. "Simon, can you manage one step off that handrail?"

"I'll do anything to get out of this nightmare!" Simon cried.

"Be grateful this isn't a volcano," Book said, forcing a wry smile. "Easy now, Wash! Just a couple more feet...."

Wash's breath hissed in and out between his teeth as the proximity alert indicated eight feet, then seven, then six. He should almost have it. One nerveless hand clutched the control stick while the other rested on the altitude control, reducing repulsor power a tick, ready to throttle up again. The proximity indicator went from a furious bleep to a constant squeal as it approached the five-foot mark.

Simon closed his eyes, opened them, and beheld River, her expression no longer desperate but encouraging as she and Book again reached for him. He took a deep breath and expelled it in a fear-stricken yelp as he sprang for the shuttle with the power of his will to survive, pushing himself far enough for Book and River to grab him by both arms and haul backward, pulling him over the threshold and into the shuttle.

"We got him!" Book shouted. Almost instantaneously Wash shoved the repulsor control to full forward, lifting the shuttle a safe distance away from the train as Book secured the door. Simon collapsed flat on his back, wheezing with relief and smiling at River, who was tiredly grinning back from her leaning spot against the bulkhead.

"Thanks," he managed after several deep breaths.

"Gotta learn to fly some time," River puffed.

"Okay, Wash," Mal's voice crackled through the radio, barely drowning out the thunder and still-increasing cadence of the exhaust. "Straight to Pecola with you. Tell Ray what happened first thing when you get there. I got a hunch we ain't out of the woods yet, and if he can rustle up some backup, I want it before we pull in."

"Roger that," Wash answered. As Book sat next to him in the co-pilot's seat, he let his gaze focus on Zoe for the first time since the mine. She was rising from the crouch she had assumed on top of the water tank, holding onto the back bulkhead of the coal bunker: but as the only member of the crew whose safety was still in question, it was time for her to see to it. Wash held the shuttle on course just long enough to catch her gaze, and hold it just long enough to toss her a kiss. Nodding briefly, she blew one back to him before turning forward and heading back down the coal pile as Wash banked the shuttle away from the train, throttling up and flying off ahead.

On to the next thing, Zoe thought to herself as she jumped back from water tank to coal pile. Her primary means of descent turned out to be sliding – she maintained her footing only by steadying herself against the side of the coal bunker until she reached the gate and ducked back into the cab. Thus followed the second most interesting sequence: squeezing out the tiny door in front of the fireman's seat and onto the running board on the side of the boiler, clinging for dear life to the grab iron above it. Inch by inch, Zoe resolutely picked her way along the running board toward the front end, taking some optimism from the dead engine's coldness – if the boiler were at operating temperature her undertaking would be all the more hazardous. She dared not look down, but concentrated on the back of the lead engine's tender and determining the least dangerous approach to boarding it - which would no doubt be the most interesting part.

She found it even easier than she'd expected when she arrived, eased down the steps from the running board and stood on the dead engine's pilot, clinging to the headlight bracket. The distance from the pilot to the running board on the back of the tender was even less than that of the shuttle jump, and far less likely to fluctuate. Gathering herself to pounce, Zoe released her handhold, struck out with her other hand and leaped onto the tender, reaching around to the ladder on its side, finding purchase immediately on one of the rungs. There she remained for several seconds to regroup and catch her breath before pulling herself around the corner of the tender, scaling the ladder to the top of the water tank and running forward to the cab.

"Zoe," Mal greeted her completely deadpan as she dropped into the gangway. "Glad you could make it."

"That makes two of us, sir." Zoe sat heavily on the tool box bolted to the deck, leaning against the front of the tender, her face and her breath haggard from the exertion of the past ten minutes. She took a quick look around for the lay of the land: Mal and Jayne stood to either side of her, hopefully ready for the next crisis. Robert was firmly attached to the throttle, which now jutted from the backhead at a 75-degree angle, and Kaylee, still smarting from her brief failure to maintain a clear stack, was bent over the manifold with great care in adjusting each valve. The needle on the speedometer was now trembling just below 40 miles per hour, the steam gauge rock-steady at 225.

The sky had brightened considerably, but was inversely proportional to Mal's mood. He took a long step forward and leaned in next to Robert, whose trained ear now needed only the cadence of the exhaust to determine the engine's speed.

"How much further?" Mal questioned.

"'Nother two miles to the top of the pass, then a few twists and turns and ups and downs afore we start downhill. But the mountaintops up here don't like radio signals too well. Won't be able to call ahead till we start back down the pass."

"And there's no other way you can raise a body back in Janus from up here?" Mal grated.

"Sorry, boss, John Wayne time," Robert answered with a grim shake of the head. "Don't think I can even raise JP-twenty-three to find out how far ahead they are."

"Should be a good couple of hours, though, shouldn't they?" Zoe said.

"Yeah, but a lot can happen in a couple of hours," Mal said. "Might be the party's over for them miners, but two will get you ten another one's bein' throwed up ahead. Whether it's Carabella or that other train doin' the throwin'."

"Aw, hell, I don't see the big fuss," Jayne piped up, throwing up his hands. "We got the biggest guns in the 'verse on board here, what more do we need?"

"The wherewithal to load 'em," Zoe answered without missing a beat.

"A stable platform," Mal added. "They're on board for shipping, not shooting. Try to fire one of 'em and it'll just blow itself right off the end of the train. Do worse damage to us than the mobfolk."

"Then whaddawe do when we run this load o' fireworks up the ass o' that other train?" The cynical expression on Jayne's sneering face rendered his question rhetorical – there was no need of a reply and Mal knew it. He glowered at the big mercenary before turning away, infuriated as much by Jayne's unanswerable question as by his inability to think of a response. Robert's eye was the only one in the cab not looking to Mal for a solution he didn't have.

In the gathering light, the crest of the grade could now be seen from the cab, just over a mile distant. It was only there that the train would gather any more speed, but Robert was still debating whether to tell Mal that the series of winding curves at the top of the pass would slow them right down again – not to mention the heightened risk of rear-ending the train ahead. Behind him, Mal leaned against the front of the tender, wondering at the weariness in his legs before looking into the brightening sky and realising that he had been on the move for almost twenty hours straight. It was nothing new to him, but he hoped fleetingly that he could convince Corsetto to consider the physical toll this venture had taken on the crew when they settled on payment.

He looked over at Kaylee, who had sat back from the manifold and relaxed a tick. By the look on her face, she was still flagellating herself for almost losing Simon by overfueling the fire and making smoke. Stifling a yawn, Mal crossed the cab and leaned in beside her, gratified to see her familiar smile.

"How you doing, Kaylee?" he asked.

"Tad better," Kaylee nodded. "Cap, I'm terrible sorry for smokin' it up like that. Shoulda been watchin' what I was doin'."

"Probable you should, but don't stick to frettin'. Just keep us on the roll and soon enough we'll be back to flyin'."

"Can't happen soon enough for me." Kaylee didn't even realise that her smile was to Mal as gratifying as it was reassuring. With an encouraging pat on her back he turned again to the gangway, but hadn't even taken his second step when Kaylee's voice stopped him short.

"Hey, Cap'n!" she exclaimed. "Wash is comin' back!" She pointed skyward through her window, spurring Mal to whirl around and return to her side, peering upward with her through the window. At first he couldn't see the shuttle against the tree-covered mountainside coming up on the left side of the train, but presently it dipped and the downward movement of its wingspan caught his eye. Frowning, he fumbled in his pocket for the radio.

"Wash, what's wrong?" he called. "Thought I told you to get ahead and warn Ray."

No answer. Moving away from Kaylee, Mal swung around the bulkhead behind her and braced himself at the top of the gangway ladder. "Wash!" he repeated. "Wash, what's goin' on?"

"It's me, Mal." The voice froze his blood, first with surprise and then with a dreadful rush of understanding.

"Inara?" Kaylee said in disbelief.

The shuttle banked and then looped, and as it straightened out parallel to the train less than a hundred feet away, Mal could indeed see the dull red 1 painted on its door. It was unquestionably Inara, and her voice was unquestionably strained, much as it had been with Mal at the wrong end of a sword.

"Inara, what the hell...." he spluttered under his breath. Lifting the radio, he continued: "Inara, tell me you didn't have help finding us."

"Oh, she did," an all-too-familiar man's voice responded cheerfully. "My help, by way of yours. Hope I haven't had to step over any more of my men's bodies to lend it."

It took every pound per square micrometer of Mal's emotional restraint not to crush the radio in his bare hand and fling it to the ground: there was no mistaking this voice either, even though he had heard it only once the previous day.

"Carabella," he sneered. "You son of a bitch!"

Continue to Part 14....


Monday, July 21, 2008 11:59 PM


Holy crap! Very exciting but Damn that Carabella for using Inara (AND the shuttle) to steal a march on our heroes. I'm just hoping that Wash manages to get Ray to have a really good welcoming party at the other end. I worried like *diyu* way back in the story when Inara confided in Carabella in the first place but it seemed yelling at the computer for her to keep her mouth shut didn't work! LOL. Can't wait to see what happens next, I am loving this story. As for your fear that there was too much technical stuff in it for the running of the train etc no, don't agree, those details just added authenticity and made it all the more realistic. Bravo! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 5:38 AM


Who says *I* wasn't making a little merry? (Brandybuck? No, FUN!)... Yeah, okay. I just read a post from Joss, so I'm a very Jossian mode right now. :p

And, as always, you're welcome. ;)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:25 AM


It's going to take a week for me to catch my breath! Wonderful feeling of speed, and I could hear the wind whipping past my ears as Simon tried to jump into the shuttle. I was coughing along with him! As for Inara and Carabella ... I echo Amdobell's comment!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 12:03 PM


I think Wash had the best line in this one with being afraid not of dying, but breaking his neck and living. I love your Wash, and how you bring him to life. Poor Simon - glad he's got River to look after him. And you had me convinced, due to the excruciating detail of it, that Zoe was going to slip and fall getting back below, so I was very relieved when she ended up safe in her nonplussed Zoe way. But quite a cliffhanger you left us with. When's more? Writing is good therapy for you and us both!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 2:25 PM


Great bit of action with Simon and the shuttle jump. Loved the first line by Wash. I think breaking my neck and living is not okay. :)

Great job, my friend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 2:25 PM


Great bit of action with Simon and the shuttle jump. Loved the first line by Wash. I think breaking my neck and living is not okay. :)

Great job, my friend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 4:56 PM


Ok. I don't think that joke I made in my first comment made all that much sense. NM.


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Solar Winds and Silver Skies
"You're going to shoot a Mountie? They'll hunt you to the ends of the 'verse!"

Where They Don't Follow (Prologue)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 2, Prologue. Roughly six months after 'The Guns of Yamenmiao', Inara says her final farewells before Serenity returns to Roma on a new job. This time, Mal's treasure quest must run the gamut of a not-quite-right scientist, a nameless, ruthless privateer, and a deeper penetration of the Alliance than Mal has ever attempted before.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Epilogue)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Epilogue. Kaylee and Serenity are once again flying. Mal and Inara are once again at odds.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 16)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 16. The crew reaches the end of the line, only to find out that the confrontations - and the mystery of the ghost train - are by no means finished.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 15)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 15. The stakes are no less than Inara's life when Mal commences the last fiery showdown.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 14)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 14. Mal has a trainload of destruction behind him and a passel of violent criminals ahead, holding Inara hostage. With no backup, how can he emerge victorious without destroying himself and his crew?

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 13)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 13. Mal's cover is altogether blown, and he must figure out how to keep the mission from going south - but he has only one dangerous way to get the word out.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 12)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 12. Tensions mount on the Yamenmiao expedition, coming to a head when Mal enters exactly the dire strait he feared the worst.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 11)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 11. The crew finds that their venture to recover the train is not without its unspoken fear of grievous injuries or death - but River finds herself concerned by something altogether different.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 10)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 10. The train has been found, the plan has been made, and Mal and the crew are all set to head out and put it into action - before an unexpected hitch forces them to act far faster than hoped.