Masks - Part XXVI
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Maya. Post-BDM. Has the bomb gone off? And what of Flynn and Chester? This is for Katesfriend and NCBrowncoat, because I couldn't leave you in suspense! NEW CHAPTER






... .. .


“Kaylee?” Zoe took a hesitant step forwards, her eyes fixed on the timer flashing zero.

Kaylee looked up from Cho’s embrace into his face, realising she hadn’t just been rendered into her constituent particles. “I don’t …”

He shook his head. “Me neither, Ms Kaylee.”

“We should be dead.”

“Kinda glad I'm not.”

“Kaylee, what the hell’s going on?” Zoe wanted to know, her heart rate still too high for her liking.

“Not sure.” Wriggling from Cho’s arms, she dropped back onto her knees, scuttling under the console. This time, with a recklessness born of the fact that she had so far not been blown up, she used all her strength to lever the tube from the wall. The stanchions gave with a squeal and she backed out, the bomb in her hand. “Help me,” she said, laying it on the work bench.

Between them it was only the work of a moment to get the end off. She peered inside. “Run tse duh fuotzoo.”

“What is it?” Zoe demanded.

“The detonator’s gone.”


Kaylee held up the tube, showing a distinct lack of something. “The detonator. Someone’s already removed it. That’s why it didn’t blow.”

“Who? Who’d do that?”

For a moment Kaylee didn’t answer, then she lifted her head, her eyes shining. “Only one person I can think of ...”


Chester blanched, as much as his skin tone allowed. “Is that ...”

Flynn looked at the apparatus in his hand as if he didn’t quite recognise it, turning it first one way then the other. “The detonator. You won’t be blowing up the Empress. You, on the other hand ...”

Now Chester felt true fear uncurling in his belly. “You’re insane. You won’t get away with it.”

“I know. But neither will you. I’m not going to let you do this. Not kill all those innocent people.”

“A mercenary with morals?”

“Gunhand. And I guess there must be more of my mother in me than I thought.” Flynn flicked a switch with his thumb, and the detonator began to hum. “Better say a prayer.”

“You’ll die too.” Chester swallowed hard.

“To take you out of the ‘verse?” Flynn grinned. “I’d say it was a good trade.” He laughed lightly. “See you in hell.” He threw the detonator, hard.

Chester tried to step back but found himself against the wall. Without thinking his hands came up to catch the device before it smacked him in the chest. He started to turn it, scrabbling to find the off button before it blew, sweat pouring down his face.

Flynn dropped behind a crate, but as he did so he saw movement at the open door, gun in hand. “Mal!” he yelled. “Duck!” He launched himself forward in an attempt to push the older man to the ground, or at least be some kind of buffer, but the explosion behind him lifted him off his feet, tossing him about like a rag doll before depositing him on the bay floor.

Mal was thrust back, protected from most of the blast by the wall, but something hit him in the chest, bouncing off and away before he could tell what it was. For a long moment the world went dark, and he wondered if he was breathing his last, but then he realised those breaths tasted acrid, and he coughed violently. He forced his eyes open onto a grey world that swirled in front of him.

The smoke was clearing, luckily sucked out of the atmosphere by the air scrubbers rather than a hull breach, and Mal blinked hard, feeling tears cleaning his vision and running down his cheeks.

The first thing he saw was a leg in a boot not a metre from him, but not attached to anything, just ending in ragged bone and blackened flesh. His stomach churned a little, knowing it was that which had just hit him.

“Mal?” A voice, barely audible above the ringing in his ears.

Stepping over the limb he walked forward carefully if unsteadily into the shuttle bay, coming across other, less recognisable body parts. Then, behind a crate ...

“Flynn.” He went down onto his knees, examining the young man, noting the blood covering his chest, and more pooling beneath his leg. Carefully, wary of hurting him but knowing he had to deal with it quickly, Mal pulled the tear in his pants wider, inwardly wincing at the gash down Flynn’s thigh, pumping blood. “Gorram it,” he murmured, leaning forward and undoing Flynn’s belt buckle, tugging it from around his waist.

“I’m sorry, Mal.” Flynn coughed. “I didn’t ... can’t give you excuses ... just ...” Again a cough. “My fault.”

Mal lifted Flynn’s thigh just enough to get the belt around it, above the wound, ignoring the glisten of white bone amongst the red. He slid the tongue back through the buckle and pulled it tight. “Yeah. You took on a job you shouldn’t, and it blew up on you. Literally.” He glanced around. “Is that...”

Flynn nodded. “Chester Lau. What’s left of him.”

“Not a lot, from what I can see.”

“Couldn’t let him ... you know.”

Mal tied the tourniquet tighter, hearing the young man groan. “I think you’ve got more of your Ma in you than you like to think.”

“That’s what I ... what I said.” He tried to breathe through the pain. “Can you tell her ... tell her I'm sorry?”

Mal couldn’t help it. He chuckled. “You thinking of dying on me?”

Flynn looked down at the blood soaking his shirt, the mangled state of his leg. “Pretty much.”

“Then I’m sorry to disappoint. Most of that ain’t yours.”

“It’s not?” Flynn seemed surprised.

“Nope.” Mal lifted his head, hearing somewhat hobbling footsteps outside in the corridor. “Doc!” he yelled. “That you?”

Simon limped into view. “You shouted?”

“Got a patient for you.”

The doctor stepped gingerly into the engine room, eyeing a torso. “I hope it isn’t him. Miracles I might be able to pull off, but waking the dead ...”

“Nope. Flynn here. And how did you know we needed you?”

“River, of course.” Simon hurried over, going down onto his knees with difficulty next to the young man. “Is it just your leg?”

“I ... I think so. Not sure.” Flynn tried to scuttle back away from the pain as Simon began to deftly examine the wound, but he could barely do more than tremble.

“Lie still.”

“Better do as he says,” Mal put in. “You really don’t wanna make him angry. It’s a sight, I’ll tell you."

Simon didn’t respond, just sighed. After a moment, though, he said, “I need to get you back to Serenity, as soon as possible.” He glanced at Mal. “I take it we’re not about to blow up?”

“Not us, Simon.” Mal nodded towards the last mortal remains of Chester Lau. “Not us.”

Flynn gasped, then looked up. “Mal, I –”

Whatever he was about to say was drowned out by Hank’s voice over the comlink lying on the floor where it had been dropped.

“Mal, we got company!” The pilot’s voice was strained.

Mal scooped up the link. “Who?”

“Looks like the Interceptor decided to come back. And she’s powering up weapons!”

“Can you run?”

“Where to?”

“Just go! Get my ship out of here!”

“I don’t think he’s coming for us…”

Mal ran towards the window, trying to clear the thick plexiglass with his sleeve, smearing dirt and blood out of the way until he could see enough. “Chur ni duh,” he murmured, wishing he wasn't looking at a small spark of light coming right at him.

“I think he wants to take both of you out.”

“Hank, move!”

“There’s no more ore ready, otherwise –”

“Hank, do what I tell you!”

“I can ram it,” Hank suggested, obviously not intending to leave. “Serenity’s belly is pretty thick.”

For a split second Mal considered it, then something stirred in his mind.



A sudden picture formed, and he shouted into the comlink. “Hank! Don’t! Frey’s on board that thing!”


“Don’t ram it! For God’s sake, don’t ram it!”

“But he’s got a lock on you!”

“I know.”

It was getting closer, well within firing range now of its missiles, and any second he knew he was going to see the flare as they were released, and then feel the vibration as they hit home, just before his brain exploded.

Suddenly, over the comlink, Mal could hear another voice, as if coming from a great distance.

“Yee ha!”

A Pelican-class ship powered into view, sweeping over the Empress and heading for the Interceptor, a ship he recognised all too well. But they didn’t know, couldn’t know who was on board.

“Frey!” Mal shouted, banging on the window as if he could make a difference to what was about to happen.

But if Hank was good, just for that moment Noah Thacker was even better. As Cherokee ate up the distance, he aimed the powerful rail guns mounted under her nose, and let fly. With unerring accuracy the large rounds ripped through the base of the Interceptor’s engine housing, showering space with a myriad of sunbright sparks that died immediately. The crippled ship started to spin slowly under the onslaught, reminding Mal of his own Firefly.

“Hank, scan it!” he ordered.

There was a tense moment, then his pilot came back with, “It’s okay, Mal. Whatever Noah hit, it just disabled them. The main hull hasn't been breached.”

Mal let out a breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding, feeling the pounding of his heart starting to slow.

“Frey?” Flynn asked from his position on the floor, struggling to rise.

“Lie still,” Simon told him, pressing on his chest with one hand while using an emergency bandage pack on the tear to his thigh.

“Is she okay?” Flynn wanted to know, ignoring both the doctor and the pain radiating up his body.



Are you hurt?

Probably a little concussed. You seem very faint.

Just a little way from you, xin gan. We’re going to come and get you.


Mal still stared at the damaged ship, but said, “She’s fine.”

“Thank Buddha.” Flynn dropped back, his own predicament forgotten for just a moment.

“No, boy,” Mal said. “Thank your mother."


On board Serenity, Hank was laughing, staring at the screen then up through the bridge windows. “The cavalry,” he managed to get out. “It’s the gorram cavalry.”

“Uncle Hank?”

He turned, seeing the children crowding the entry. “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be hiding?”

Bethie, standing in front, twisted her foot on the floor, Fiddler held tightly in her arms. “Are they okay?”

Ethan, so close behind her there wasn’t daylight between them, was chewing worriedly on his thumb, something he hadn't done in years. His blue eyes were huge, scared.

“They’re fine, short stub,” Hank assured her, then looked at the rest of the children. “They’re all fine.”

Bethie breathed a huge sigh of relief and turned, poking Ethan with the little dog, making Fiddler bark. “See? I told you.”

Hank didn’t bother hiding the grin, then turned back as the com chirped at him. The grin grew wider.


“Mal, I really do need to get Flynn back to my infirmary. He’s not actually going to bleed to death right this minute, but there’s a lot of damage, and if I don’t get it dealt with ...” Simon stopped.

“I get you. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Jayne doesn’t appear in that doorway any second.” Mal’s lips twisted.


“River. Your sis surely does like to make herself useful.”

“Among other things.” Simon packed his supplies back into the pack.

Mal cocked his head. “In fact, I think I hear footsteps right now.” Still, just in case he kept his gun trained on the doorway.

“Riv said you needed help?” Jayne asked, appearing like a demon. “’Cept I’m gonna take umbrage if you shoot me.”

Mal holstered his weapon, but it was Simon who spoke.

“Umbrage?” The young doctor stood up, using the crates for support. “Have you been reading the dictionary again?”

“Yep. Although there’s a few letters me and moonbrain like to stick around on.” Jayne managed to make the words lascivious.

“Oh, please,” Simon muttered. “I need you to take Flynn back to the shuttle.”

“It’s a long way, doc. Wouldn’t we be better just using the Dragon’s shuttle? It’d be a hell of a lot quicker.”

“Good idea,” Mal said quickly, seeing Simon’s jaw drop. “And as I don’t think I can take many more surprises for today, you’d better get going.”

“Aren't you coming with us?” Simon asked in almost as much surprise.

“I’m gonna go collect the others, get ‘em all back to our shuttle. I have a notion the cruise is over.” The comlink in his hand buzzed again. It was Hank.

“Mal, there’s someone wants to talk to you …”


This time it was a woman’s voice. “Mal, you still alive over there?”


“One and the same.” Jez Thacker, nee Youngblood, sounded like she was grinning widely. “I always did like to make a grand entrance.”

“You almost left it a bit too late this time,” Mal pointed out.

“Yeah, well, we stopped for tea and crumpets on the way.”

“Did you save me any?”

“I'm sure we can rustle something up for you.”

“Shiny. I'm feeling a mite peckish.” An inane conversation, perhaps, but nothing new in Mal’s world. Humour was often used to leaven a deadly situation, or to get rid of tension, like now. “Although I’ve got a favour to ask you first.”

“Go ahead, ask. I might even say yes.”

“Can you board the Interceptor? Frey’s there and I ain’t sure she’s safe. I need –”

On board Cherokee Jez didn’t let him finish, knowing exactly how Mal felt about his wife. “No problem.” She looked down at her own husband. “Can you get a lock?”

Noah’s nimble fingers were already playing an adagio over the control board, matching Cherokee’s spin and velocity to the stricken Interceptor. “What do you think?” he asked, grinning.

She touched his shoulder lovingly, then pulled the internal com down. “Laura, get your guns. We’re going visiting.”

to be continued


Sunday, April 11, 2010 7:25 AM


So glad you updated this again this weekend! I've been reading your stories all the time, although I don't comment as often as I should. But the idea of leaving it after the last chapter for any length of time was not pleasant!

Sunday, April 11, 2010 10:17 AM


Thank you thank you! You made my day. Glad to see a resolution to this and not too much blood spilled. Loved that Flynn redeemed himself and saved the day all at the same time - glad Zoe didn't space him yet.

Sunday, April 11, 2010 5:00 PM


Whew! Just in the nick of time like always, huh?

Sunday, April 11, 2010 5:52 PM


I read the two parts together so not as much nail biting on my part, though would have hadn't you posted the next piece. This is shaping up to be one of my favorites. It has such great depth for your OCs and I always like that in your writing. Flynn is such a great hero/villain

Saturday, April 17, 2010 1:15 PM


How did I miss this? Bravo Jane. Glad to see things starting to go less pear shaped.



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[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

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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. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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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.

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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!]