Dead Man's Chest - Part XII
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne has remembered - with a little help - where he found the gold coin, and Mal has a little conversation with the law. NEW CHAPTER


Huo Yan Shan.”

“Where in the sphincter of hell is that?” Mal turned in the pilot’s seat where he’d been alone, taking a last look at Serenity’s readouts before heading for his bunk, and stared at the young psychic standing in the bridge doorway.

“It isn’t in the sphincter of hell, Captain,” River said, just a hint of disapproval in her tone as she combed her long hair with her fingers. It was some kind of displacement activity, and Mal wondered what the rest of her brain was thinking about. “Logically there can be no such place, since Hell doesn’t have a –“


“And you shouldn’t swear. Not with children on board.”

Mal smiled slightly. “I have the feeling they know a lot worse than that already.”

“Don’t feel proud.” She found a knot and frowned deeply at it.

“You wanna tell me about this Huo Yan place?” Mal prompted.

She let her hands drop. “It’s a very large rock formation some distance from town. It means –“

“I conjure I know what it means. Mountain of Flames or some such.”

“That’s where Jayne found the coin.”

“He wasn’t any more precise?”

“It was a small cave. He didn’t go in very far – it was dark and cold.”

Mal chuckled. “You mean he was scared.”

Her glare was almost hot enough to melt carbonised steel. “He was nine.”

“Then I’ll let him off. ‘Though I always figured Jayne came fully-formed outta someone’s skull.”

River shook her head, at the same time appreciating the classical reference. “He’s not a Greek god.” She paused. “Although –“

“You just stop right there. And it was a goddess, if I recall correctly. But seeing as Jayne is a girl’s –“

“Don’t. Otherwise I’d be forced to hurt you.”

He grinned. “Nah. Not my albatross.” He swivelled back to the console. “So where’d you head off to after leaving Jolene’s? Zoe said something about you having something to do.”

She wafted up behind him. “I was visiting.”

Mal didn’t look up. “Jayne’s ma?”

“I took flowers.”

“That’s nice.”

“I’ll go back again before we leave. Take Caleb.”

“I'm sure he’d like that.” Mal flicked an idle switch. “Is he coping okay? Jayne. I mean, he ain't been back, not since the funeral.”

“He’s all right. We help each other.”

Now he glanced into her pale face. “Yeah, I figure you do.”

Placing her hand gently on his shoulder, she looked out through the windows at the night, warm golden glows lighting the houses out beyond the port area itself. “I didn’t realise it had taken so long to hypnotise Jayne.”

“Wasn’t that long,” Mal admitted. “It got dark an hour or so ago, and everyone seemed to like the idea of an early bedtime, given the activity of the past few days. ’Sides, it’s not like we can do anything tonight, and I ain't that keen on treasure hunting when I can’t see a gorram thing.”

“Are we going treasure hunting?” she asked ingenuously.

He smiled. “Now you know exactly what I’m planning on doing.”

“Not reading you.”

“No. But you know me.”

“Perhaps.” She stepped over to the window, peering out into the night. “There is badness here. It isn’t safe.”

Xiao nu, that you being crazy, or might you have some real reason for saying that?”

She turned to look at him, and for a moment he felt his whole being spread out in front of her, just waiting for her to consume. Probably with chopsticks.

Her nose wrinkled. “You have bad thoughts.”

He couldn’t help laughing slightly. “I thought you weren’t peeking.”

“Maybe a little.”

“And you shouldn’t make an old man feel quite so …”


“Stop that, ‘fore I put you over my knee.”

She settled into the co-pilot’s seat. “We have never felt that way about each other,” she said idly. “Not even when I came out of the box.”

“If you’re trying to make me blush …”

She shrugged, but a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. “Prude.”


She sighed happily, until her mind skittered back to the matter in hand. “We should leave things well alone.”

He turned the chair to face her. “I take it you mean the Hoard.”

River nodded. “It’s been hidden a long time. Let sleeping dogs lie.”

“That’s one of Frey’s favourite sayings,” Mal commented.

“It’s accurate.”

“We could do with the cash.”

Her dark eyes bored into his. “You turned down the Rostov money.”

He bridled a little, but only out of habit. “That ain't nothing to do with you. And I don’t doubt it would’ve come with strings.”

She sighed. “Probably.”

“Ain't making Frey feel beholden to ‘em, no matter Alex is family.” He leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees. “Look, River … do you really think there might be something gonna go wrong?”


“That’s not exactly a certainty.”

“Nothing ever is. Apart from death.”

He was instantly more alert. “You thinking it might come to that?”

“Eventually it always does. That’s why it’s a certainty.”

He withheld his own sigh, barely, wondering if the young woman next to him was pregnant again, or just having a bad day. Or, more likely, she was just enjoying winding her Captain up. “Maybe I should ask Frey.”

“Mother will be worried about you as she always is, and that will colour her judgement.” She stretched out her legs and rested her heels on the console, careful not to disturb any of the switches.

“She’s not your mother, River.”

“In another life …”

Mal’s eyebrows raised. “You mean …”

“Many centuries ago Jayne was a warrior, and I his bride. Simon learned his craft at the feet of Galen, while Kaylee kept his house and gave him many children. You were in the first wave of settlers into the old West, Freya your wife. We fought off raiders together.” She smiled, staring out through the window.

“You’re just making this up.”


“Okay, I’ll play. What about Zoe? She always thought Wash was her soul mate, only now she’s got Hank. How does that fit in with your little game?”


Mal laughed, a deep rich sound that warmed her through. “Darlin’, you might be crazy still, but I love your imagination sometimes.”

“We all fit,” she said, standing up silently, her dress moving gently around her as if she was standing in a slight breeze. “Here, in this place. Meant to be. And I see trouble if we go after the treasure.” She sighed again, deeper this time. “Unfortunately, Jayne will go one way or the other, so we have to go too, keep him safe.”

“Maybe you know that man better’n any of us,” Mal commented. “Figured he might have that gold fever, considering the expression on his face. And although looking after him isn’t exactly the reason we’re going hunting, I figure we can do that as well.”

“Good.” She leaned down and kissed him lightly on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“What for? I didn’t exactly agree we were in danger.”

“You listened. And forewarned is forearmed. Another of Freya’s favourites.” She ran off the bridge, her hair flying behind her, singing something about a bottle of rum.

“You really are spending too much time with my wife!” he called after her.


As Mal opened up the cargo bay to Ezra’s morning, he was surprised to see Dan Jefferson waiting. “You been here long?” he asked, walking down the ramp.

“Few minutes.” The sheriff was half-smiling, his thumbs caught in the ubiquitous gunbelt.

“Anything specific you want, or just planning on passing the time of day?”

“Maybe I was just walking in this direction and thought I’d join you for breakfast.”

Mal found himself mirroring the other man’s stance. “Somehow, I doubt you ‘just’ do anything.”

“Maybe so.”

“Anyway, we’ve finished eating, but I could probably find you a cup of coffee if you wanted.”

Dan shook his head. “Nope. I'm fine. Although you’re up pretty early to be done already.”

“Things to do.”

“Oh? Like what?”

Mal made sure his face was open, friendly. “Nothing to be worrying the law about. Just the usual. Getting in supplies, making sure we ain't gonna come fallin’ out the sky when we take off, that kinda thing.”

“Right.” Dan studied him for a moment, then said, “I checked the Alliance alerts.” He noticed Mal’s sudden tension but didn’t comment on it. “Turns out Ephraim Ingleby’s been missing for more’n three months. It was kinda hazy, but reading between the lines whoever posted it wasn’t that fussed about finding him. I get the feeling he was something of a thorn in someone’s side.”

“Enough to get rid of him?”

“I doubt it. And not like that, anyway. It reads like he was pretty determined to get rid of himself. He took a leave of absence from the Museum, which no-one minded much, as he was within a hair’s breadth of being fired anyway. Apparently he was off his meds, and kept going on about having found the location to something.”


Dan shrugged. “He wasn’t any more forthcoming, just that it would be the greatest discovery in the history of the Alliance.”

“He sounds pretty crazy.”

“I think he was. Only reason he got that job was ‘cause of his family connections, and most of them’re dead now anyway.”

“So’s he.” Mal’s lips twitched. “Seems like that’s a fair amount more info than you’d normally get, just reading an alert.”

“Well, maybe I was curious enough to wave the Museum direct, and I happened to get someone who didn’t like him much and didn’t mind talking.” He glanced towards the horizon. “The ... uh … Alliance are coming to claim his corpse, by the way.”

The half-smile died and Mal dropped one hand to the butt of his gun. “When?”

Jefferson didn’t take offence. “I didn’t have a choice but to notify them. Thing is, seems like there ain’t a ship local enough at the moment, so it looks like next week some time.”

“That’s awkward.” Mal hitched his thumb into his suspenders again. “I mean, for them. Having to come all this way just to pick up a dead body.”

“Pritchard, the undertaker … he’s happy enough to keep Ingleby in cold storage, since he’s thinking someone’s gonna pay him for the privilege, but the sooner the corpse is gone, the better.”

“Just so long as he don’t stink up the place.”

“If he does Pritchard’ll just double his costs.”

“Mal, you wanna take the shuttle or …” Jayne stopped, seeing who was keeping the Captain company.

“Shuttle?” Dan looked at Mal. “Not thinking of doing a little prospecting yourself, are you?” he asked astutely.

“Would that be illegal?” Serenity’s captain asked in turn.

“Maybe. Depends on where.” Dan settled his shoulders. “And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a permit.”

“Did Ingleby?”

“Nope. I got the forms for ‘em, and he never came near me. So anything he found he wouldn’t’ve been able to sell, and if we’d found it on him, the court would have confiscated it. We do have laws here, Captain Reynolds.”

Mal sighed. “What’s it gonna cost me?”

“Nominal fee. Ten credits. Then you’re all above board and legal.”

“Well, I admit we were considering going and taking a look around, see if we couldn’t tell where the man had come from.” Mal glanced at Jayne. “We’ll be taking the mule, so get her ready. I’ll go with the Sheriff and get the permit. Just in case.”

Jayne dragged him to one side. “Don’t you think it’s a mite foolish telling the law what we’re up to?”

“Don’t you think it’s gonna be a mite suspicious you doing this?” Mal countered, tugging his arm free. “And if we’ve got the right permits, anything we do find we’re gonna have a better claim to. Dong mah?”

The big man thought for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah. Guess you’re right. I just wanna get out there and … you know.”

Mal could almost see the money signs rolling over in his eyes. “I know.” He turned back to Jefferson, asking, “You wanna do this now?”

“Give me five. I gotta head over to the Golden Dragon, give ‘em one final warning.” He nodded towards the Clipper sitting not too far from Serenity.

“They still creating trouble?”

“Will do until they leave, I reckon. But Terry still hasn’t fixed their engine, so most of ‘em’ve got nothing much to do except head into town and make a ruckus.”

“I’d offer my own mechanic to help make it sooner, but she’s kinda pregnant at the moment.”

Dan shook his head. “With that crew, I ain't letting a lady get anywhere near ‘em.”

“I think I might just have to tell Kaylee you called her a lady. Probably make her day.” Mal smiled. “Well, just give me a shout when you’re ready. Or if you need back-up.”

Dan grinned. “Might just take you up on that.” He strolled towards the newer ship.

Mal waited until he was out of earshot before turning back to his gunhand. “Jayne, get the mule down and make sure she’s fuelled up. And check we’ve got enough supplies in case we need to stay out tonight.”

“Who’s coming with us?”

“Frey, Simon and River. Hank’s staying behind in case we do find anything and need the shuttle to cart it away, and Zoe volunteered to keep him company.”

“You know what they’ll be getting up to, soon as your back is turned.”

“Long as it ain't on my bridge, I'm shiny with that.” Still, a small shudder ran through his frame.

“Kinda surprised the doc’s happy heading off into the desert. Although he could do with getting some colour into that lily-white skin.”

“He insisted. The idea that he might be the one to discover something no-one’s seen for a coupla hundred years has his juices going.”

Jayne’s face showed faint disgust. “That’s just …”

“Yeah. Sorry about that.” Mal shook himself. “Anyway, it’s probably better to keep him and River out of the way of the sheriff for a while. I don’t think he’d turn them in, if he knew who they were, but I don’t feel like taking the risk.”

“Me neither.” Jayne pulled his work gloves from the pocket on his cargo pants. “I’ll get the mule down,” he said, heading back into the bay.

A look of mischievousness resembling his son’s flashed across Mal’s eyes, and he said, “Jayne, hang on there a sec.”

The big man turned back with ill grace. “What?”

“Just wanted to say … blue banana.”

The ex-mercenary glared at him, then hurried inside, leaving Mal smiling into the early morning.

to be continued


Wednesday, February 11, 2009 1:34 PM


I just know that other crew is going to cause all kinds of trouble before this story is through. I really like the sheriff, he seems a good sort and smart enough to read between the lines which may or may not be good for our BDHs. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 1:59 PM


Hahahahaha .... Blue Banana ... gotta love Mal. xD

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 1:59 PM


So good! I just love the twists an turns that you keep us on. I agree with AMDOBELL though, I really like the sheriff. He does seem smart, but I still think the man would think twice of putting our BHDs back in jail.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:11 PM


Great lead up to the real story to come. I agree - the other crew is trouble, but I smell a happy ending around here somewhere.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 4:25 PM


Legal prospecting, hmm? We'll see! I'm somewaht relieved to hear that their predecessor was off his rocker before he hit the desert, but still...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 5:00 PM


"Legal prospecting"? That's a new one for the crew. Good start on the story and like everyone else I think the other crew will be a heap of trouble.


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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

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

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

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

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

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

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]