The Bouncing Ball Ch 2
Friday, October 1, 2010

A joint effort by Jane 0904 and myself....a mix of her wonderful characters and the ones from my verse...some old faces and more than a few enjoy....Cat saves face...


CHAPTER TWO Time ... Space ... Universes ... all are nothing more than strings waiting to be plucked to the tune of the manipulator. This thought ran through Cat's head as she eased off the throttle on the mule and peeled Declan's hands from his death grip around her arm. Her first jump had almost killed her, but like everything else, she survived. After that, she had fashioned blast shields for the mule, and that made things much easier in the long run for both the jumps as well as the fights that ensued after. Hopefully, this one would end like the others, without confrontation or contact.

Her green eyes drifted to the finger bruises on her arm, from Declan's grip. It was another product of the jumps, muscles contracting ... almost like being spit out from a giant suction cup. Only much, much worse. Pain flashed to her brain, but it would be ignored and forgotten, just as it always was. "What the hell was that?" Declan shook his head, feeling weak and nauseous as Cat took in the area around her. She felt his eyes on the marks on her arm. "I'm..."

"It's nothing," she remarked, the blood in each bruise beginning to be reabsorbed, her skin reverting to its normal colour. "That's pretty ..." He'd heard about it all his life, but to actually see it ... "Sorry," he said automatically. "No big." Cat looked back at Batha, whose ears had perked. "Where?" she asked the panther.

'Past ... but not ours.' She rumbled low. 'Beat us here.' "Fuck." Cat heard the gunfire now and let her nose take in the smells. One was oddly familiar and made her belly whine gently. Turning to Declan, she looked at him. "You stay here." "Umm ... no?" He shook his head, still a bit out of it after whatever the hell had just happened. "Would you tell my father that?" he grumbled, holding tight to the shotgun. "Maybe not," Cat admitted, then threw a right cross that knocked him to the ground. "But then your father would have seen that coming. You didn't and I don't have time to babysit." Her fangs emerged from her mouth as her darker half slowly rose to the surface. They had learned to deal with each other and now, she moved almost effortlessly between forms. Fur under her hand made her look down as Batha pressed against her leg. 'Time to protect the cubs.' Cat nodded. "Just try to keep out of sight. You're rather hard to explain." A slight gentle laugh echoed in her head as the big cat ambled off. 'Says the human with claws and fangs.' ---------------------- They had been told to kill Reynolds again as well as the dark skinned woman beside him. The merc could be left or destroyed, that didn't matter as much as the other two did. The war veterans ... the Independent pieces of shit ... needed to be wiped off the face of the planet. Something stirred behind them, but not a single mercenary noticed as they concentrated all their fire on the trio in front.

"They're hiding behind those rocks. I'll circle around," one of them said, breaking from the pack. A shadow followed him, melting into the bushes like smoke. More gunfire erupted as voices could be heard shouting. “Mal! What the gorram hell did you say to ‘em?” Which meant their targets were still alive so the group already dead or dying were ones just caught in the crossfire. "We've got them penned, sir. Ain't no way Reynolds survives this," one of the men commented, holding tight to the heat seeking rifle, its barrel still smoking.

"I wanna see them die. Need the body for confirmation." With a steady hand, the man in charge reloaded the automatic gun, its display registering the three bodies hiding tight behind the outcropping of rocks.

"Yes, s-" The sir was cut off sharply.

"Sigerson, what did I say about not ..." He stopped as a wet thump sounded behind him, then something bumped his ankle. He reached down, just as there was a gentle susurration of laughter. "Poor little whipping boy all covered in purple and red ..."

A whispered voice surrounded him, making his skin crawl even as his fingers felt for whatever had touched him. A wetness, thick and warm, covered his hand, and dropping his gaze from the scene in front of him, he gasped at the dead lifeless eyes of young Sigerson staring back.

"... tangled with the wrong damn cat ... and now he's lost his head."

"Wo de ma," he heard one of his men murmur. Blinking his hazel eyes to clear a little of the dust, movement on his left made him look and then just stare. Only a few yards from him stood a creature he thought he'd never see. It was a legend, a nightmare. Told to Alliance soldiers to scare them like children's tales of Reavers. Red hair cascaded over tanned skin, touched by the sun, but not burned by it. Green eyes that appeared to glow, like emeralds struck from the most flawless stone. Beautiful... deadly...

"Perfect." The word slipped from his lips in an appreciative whisper. "Thank you."

"Cat 1313," he replied, reaching for the pistol at his side.

She cocked her head, blood dripping from her long clawed fingers down to the decapitated corpse at her feet. "You know my name. Good for you."

"Your capture will look good on my record." He seemed mesmerised as she raised her finger to him, a piece of skin still hanging off it, his eyes following when she flicked it absently away.

She ignored his statement and issued her own warning. "Got two choices.Take your gorram asses back to the hell from whence you came or ... and this is the part I like ..." Her voice deepened and harshened with each passing word. "... I gut every one of you before you ever have a chance to unload those clips."

"Sir?" a few asked as their eyes flickered between the man that commanded them and the monster covered in their buddy's blood. A look passed over his chiseled face as he held up the large gun at his side and leveled it on her. Sharp fangs flashed in the sunlight as her long tongue rolled hungrily across her curling lips. "We don't run away from anything. Especially when we out number it, fifteen to one," he replied as she snickered.

"We rather like it when you run, but more's the pity." She growled, but stopped quickly when something caught her eye. A lone gunner had emerged close to where Mal and his crew were hiding, and even from here Cat knew there was no way she'd get to him in time.

Suddenly, a roar echoed in the air as well as in her head, the dark shadow of her feline companion slamming hard into the gunman, driving him to the ground in a sickening thump. Screams carried, but only for a moment as they changed to gurgles and then quieted altogether.

Growling low, Cat turned her attention back to the commanding officer, his face having lost all its color, the gun now clasped so hard in his grip his hands were shaking.

"Any last words?" she asked before a series of shots resounded in her ears, metal slugs tearing into her flesh. None of that mattered though, as her long claws and lithe body devoured the soldiers of mis-fortune with ferocity unmatched.


Body parts ... a leg here ... an arm there ... blood dripping from her hair as she wiped what she could from her mouth. It tasted wrong, but then she never quite could get the hang of human blood. No one stirred from their execution, Cat made sure of it. No one to go home and report of their failure. It would give her more time ... time to explain Batha. Time to explain herself. Declan? a thought called out, but was banished just as fast. Man wasn't 'Ski and she knew it. Instead, she listened, the sound of five heartbeats, six if she included herself echoed gently in her ears. All human save one ... the quickened tempo of her panther a welcome counterweight to the pace of another she hadn't heard in some time. Different universes ... same rough cadence.


She could smell him as he approached, the war still on him as it always had been. Even when he died, she could still smell the first war and the last. A smile came to her lips as he stepped on a twig and then another. Same old Mal ... never one for quiet approaches. Of course, that's what he kept her for, was it not? But it wasn't until she saw the mop of his brown hair, the deep blue of his eyes, and the look of confusion on his face that the realism hit home. For a second, Cat couldn't breathe and then pulling out the first words that came to mind, she muttered, “Hello, Mal.” The big man on the right hand side, holding a gun almost the same size as himself, squinted. “Friend of yours?” he grunted. “Not that I’m aware of.” Mal looked down. “Did you … do this?” “I couldn’t let them kill you,” the woman explained. “Not until we’d had a chance to talk.” “Right. Right.” His brain, normally very quick at working things out, was taking its time digesting the facts. “And you did this … how?”

For a second, something in her seemed to almost break. He should know who she was, what she was ... what she tried to be for him. Logic, though, and her other half set her right quickly. This wasn't her Mal: the one she had run with was dead and that same fate would happen to this one if she didn't get back on target. Mal's jaw dropped as her body seemed to ripple, and claws extended from her elegant fingertips. Fangs, which he had thought he'd seen the first time she spoke grew longer and she smiled with eyes that glowed an eerie, but beautiful green. "I was made this way." Mal stood blinking as Cat gazed at the three of them, her eyes going from one to the next, remembering the past as if it was yesterday. Jayne was clutching tight to Vera, a gun that he always had in any universe. The big merc stared at her, trying to determine if killing her would be the best option, though somewhere in that brain, she knew he was thinking other things. Or ... maybe not. River ... it was River she smelled on him. Somehow, she'd always known it would have worked out that way and a quick glance at the tattoo around his ring finger confirmed it. Zoe was next and Serenity's first mate shifted to attention at her scrutiny. They had parted ways badly in Cat's universe. The dark woman always blamed her for Mal's death, though in truth there was nothing either could've done to stop it. Cat would never be fast enough and Zoe would never be strong enough to stop him from throwing her out of the way of the bullet. In essence, Cat knew Zoe really blamed herself. This one though was slightly different from the warrior she knew, softer somehow and not as lonely. A male scent was on her and a gold ring decorated her left hand. This Zoe had found love again. And then her eyes traveled back to Mal. He was younger than when she had seen him last, and thicker ... the bullet had made him lose weight as it robbed him of everything that made him Mal. Still the brown coat, still the suspenders, still the hair that lay untamed on his head ... It was the eyes, though, that were different. This Mal had already found what he needed in life and with a sigh, she knew he didn't need her in the same way her Mal had. What made it even odder was ... her sigh wasn't one of despair, but of relief. 'No longer guilty.' Batha slid her long form next to Cat, sitting down on her haunches, and they shared a look before her hand rested on the panther's head. 'Still could die,' the woman answered back, understanding what the panther meant. Mal was the first to recover, coughing just once to cover any embarassment he'd deny all knowledge of feeling, and apparently decided the best policy right now was to behave like things were normal. "Uh ... right." He glanced at Zoe. "Go check the perimeter - I don't want anyone unexpected turning up." "There's no-one else," Cat said. He ignored her. "They didn't get here on foot either. See if you can find their transport." "Yes sir." Zoe disappeared into the trees. Mal stepped forward, avoiding the pools of blood as much as possible, although it was difficult. It looked like maybe he'd miscalculated the number of bad guys, since out of the corner of his eye he could see more ... bits ... tossed into the upper branches of the trees, and maybe his respect for this strange woman grew a little. Nobody should be able to do that. Except she had. Stopping by the least mutilated of the shooters, he kicked the man over, his face barely betraying any disgust as the corpse lolled onto his back but his innards stayed on the ground. A badge sewn in the inside of the bloodstained vest caught his eye. “Private company,” he said, going down onto his heels, ignoring the smell of iron. Purple body armor he didn't recognise from a manufacturer he'd never seen before lay split down the middle, a piece of the kid's intestine just barely hanging off a serrated edge. It hadn't even given her claws pause. “Seems like maybe we’ve pissed someone off after all.” "Expensive mercs." The woman pushed her red hair out of her face before attempting to clean more blood from her hands. “They wanted to kill you.” “Not the first time.” Mal stood up and turned, facing her. “And I’m pretty sure we ain’t ever met, so why’d you come in on our side?” “Mal, we ain’t sure she is,” Jayne said, Vera not moving an inch, although it troubled him that he couldn't decide which was the greater threat, the woman or the cat. She raised an eyebrow. “You really think you can pull the trigger before I gut you?” she asked. “After what you’ve just seen me do?” “Maybe we should try it and see.” “Jayne.” Mal’s voice was the one where he expected to be obeyed. "Listening would prove affective. I'd hate to watch you die again." She growled, the threat of being shot with Vera more of an annoyance than anything. "This woman's talkin' crazy, Mal." He watched her for a moment before sighing at the look coming from Mal. "Fine." "Good call." She smiled before her ears caught something and a low growl echoed gently in her mind. “They’re comin’,” Jayne said, not unduly worried. “Huh?” Mal lifted his head and listened. Sure enough, there was the familiar low whine of a certain hovermule getting louder, and in only a few seconds it had come into view, pulled up, and three people jumped down. “Mal?” Freya hurried over to him, checking him visually for signs of bullet holes. “I’m okay, xin gan,” he assured her, then looked to the two men with her. “Simon, I don’t figure we’ll be needing your services this time around.” He glanced down at the bodies. “I’d pretty much have to say life’s extinct.” The doctor studied the corpses. “I think you’re probably right. What did this? Some kind of wild animal?” “Somethin’ like that,” Jayne growled, his hands holding the Callaghan steady, aimed at the stranger’s midriff. At this distance, a full load would cut her in half. Cat grinned wickedly before catching herself, the beast in her almost wishing Jayne would take the shot. More blood for the spilling ... Hank hung back. “Frey said we couldn’t get Serenity close enough,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, trying hard not to stare at the remnants of maybe a dozen human beings. “That’s why we brought the mule.” “Where’s Riv?” the big man wanted to know. “Back at the ship,” Freya responded. “If they were after you, they might make an attempt on Serenity.” “She was more than a little annoyed,” Simon said, standing up, then adding, “And I see you’ve lived up to your reputation.” He nodded at Mal’s shoulder. “What?” Mal pressed his hand to where it was stinging, his fingers coming away red. “S’just a graze. I think I’ll live.” “Didn’t duck fast enough?” Everyone stared at Freya and the redhead. Both of them had spoken the same words, at the same time. “That’s … creepy,” Hank commented. “Ain’t that the truth,” Jayne agreed. Freya tentatively reached out her mind, then mentally recoiled. The redhead’s barriers were strong, but more than that, they pulsed with darkness. And there was a duality, a reflection of something old, violent, familiar … The other woman stared at her, then ever so slightly tilted her head curiously. Simon, unaware of the subtext, had stepped forward. He’d noticed the bullet holes in redhead’s clothing, surrounded by fresh blood. “You’re hurt,” he said, lifting his bag. “I’m a doctor. I need to –” “No, you don’t.” She pulled her shirt to one side, exposing creamy, unmarked skin. “I’m not in need of your services either.” Simon glanced at Mal, who shrugged. “Nope,” Serenity’s captain said. “I’ve got no gorram idea what the hell’s going on either.” Cat smiled. “You haven’t changed.” “What?” Mal turned back to the red-haired woman, aware of her green-eyed scrutiny. “You know me?” “Mal?” Freya stepped forward, her hand on her gun. “Is there something you want to tell me?” “Nope,” he said, shaking his head. “'Cept that she somehow managed to save our lives, I'm fair sure I ain’t ever had the pleasure of her acquaintance."

"Not in this universe, no." The soft green glow of her eyes made Mal and Freya share a look. Behind them the bushes began to shake as Serenity's first mate emerged with a prisoner stumbling in front of her. “I found this one watching us, sir,” Zoe said, her Mare’s Leg in the small of his back. The man looked around at the crew, pausing on Hank and Freya. He was certain they hadn't been in his father's stories and the way Cat stared at them, he was positive they weren't anyone she knew either.

“He’s with me,” the redhead said quickly. “Really.” Mal studied the young man, noting the darkening shadow on his jawline. “That your handiwork?” he asked Zoe. “No, sir.” “She hit me,” the young man admitted, rubbing his jaw at the same time as pointing to Cat. “I was going to help, but she wouldn’t let me.”

"Couldn't have you getting killed," she muttered gently before walking over to touch Declan's face. He pulled away for a moment in pain and then let her continue with her inspection. "Simon can help with the discomfort."

"Don't need anything, except maybe your trust that I can handle myself." He stared at her with a look she had seen several times on his father, and her belly ached from the memories. She nodded, just once, before she turned back toward Mal. “Why?” Mal shook his head. “I mean, why were they after us? It ain’t like we’re more unpopular than normal.”

"Because you threaten their existence." It was a statement, nothing more as she moved away and reached to gather the weapons off the dead, the way she had done for him every time they had fought the enemy.

"Her name's Cat," the young man stated, not adding a last name or her number. "And I'm Declan Reddik. We're not from around here." Though he really wasn't sure where here was. People who were long since dead stood before him, almost the same age as he was. And this sure wasn't Hera, at least not the one he had been standing on a few hours ago. Whatever happened, at least with the looks he was getting, made him feel like he wasn't the only one clueless.

Cat dropped three or four guns on the ground in front of Mal and the woman they called Freya. She smelled of Mal and it didn't take much for Cat to figure out this was the love of this Mal's life. She was pretty, not like Inara in the exotic sense, but in the down home beauty that always had attracted Mal. She was real, he would comment, not made up to be something she wasn't. Her eyes stared at Cat, and the redhead could feel that same featherlight touch in her mind again. Interesting. "So where are you from?" Jayne asked, not giving an inch. He didn't like this stranger, although he wasn't going to admit it was partly because she reminded him of River on her bad days - only much, much worse. To him, she was a threat, her and the gorram huge cat at her side. 'Not a cat,' he heard in his mind, like fingernails down a blackboard. 'Panther.' He risked a glance down, and felt something walk over his grave. The huge cat ... the panther was staring at him, like it was figuring out when it could take him down, and where to hide the body after it was done. 'Batha,' Cat thought. The panther grumbled lightly. 'Just a scratch.' 'Don't.' This time Cat internalised the sigh, and turned back to the people facing her. It was obvious they all had the same question on their mind, and she knew she had to answer it. "When Declan says we're not from around here, he means it. We're not. We're not even from this part of the 'verse." "I knew it," Jayne growled, sounding more like Batha than he realised. "She's Alliance." Cat felt her claws want to grow again, but she held them in check. "You couldn't be more wrong." "Then I think maybe it's time you explained," Mal said, his gun still in his hand. She smiled a moment. "You won't believe me." "Darlin', I've believed half a dozen impossible things before breakfast afore now. Try me." Her belly, already in turmoil from seeing him again, contracted at the endearment, even though she knew it wasn't meant that way. It was just ... he sounded so ... real ... Check yourself, Human. A dark voice in the back of her mind muttered as her other half grumbled a complaint. Blood from before had satisfied the lust for the moment, but walking back into the family thing wasn't in her best interests. It made them both weak.

She took a deep breath. "My name is Cat 1313, created in a lab under the Hellion Initiative. I share the DNA of the panther beside me and I was made to be a super soldier for the Alliance."

"Told you." Jayne grumbled, but stopped at a glare from Mal. "Can't say I've heard of such an initiative," Mal admitted, glancing at Freya and seeing her shake her head slightly. "'Though it's a big 'verse." "Bigger than you think," Cat said ruefully, then went on, "Several years ago, I was given a mission. To kill fifteen different Independent soldiers. Of them, one stood out, a Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds."

At his name, Mal looked confused and Freya moved her hand back to the gun at her hip. Cat made herself relax as she began to again feel the uneasiness. Still, this needed to be said. "I eliminated six of them before I came to the Sarge, my rifle posed at the ready, but I couldn't pull the trigger. Instead, I laid my gun down and asked to join him, to fight beside him for his cause and slowly it became mine." A lie she knew she'd regret later, but then maybe keeping her life with him as her lover shouldn't be be spoken of, at least yet. She didn't want to make a bad situation worse. And after all, this wasn't about their relationship, not really. Right now was about another promise altogether.

Mal took a breath. "You know, I was there during all that. Don't seem to recall someone like you trying to kill me. Would remember that." He shifted toward Freya just a little, to be closer to her. Something was just unsettling about the way this Cat spoke of him.

"I figure you would." She almost smiled. Almost. "You know a smart man told me once that every decision we make creates another universe, alternate to the one we live in. Decisions that seem almost petty now could change the course of our futures a great deal ... say sparing a life or not being created at all." Hank looked more than confused. "Am I the only one not getting this?" he asked, looking from one to the other of his crewmates. Zoe spoke, considering her words carefully, but it was to Cat, not her husband. "You're talking about yourself. That you shouldn't be here." "Huh?" Hank stared. Cat nodded. "Someone put a knife in the crack between worlds and twisted, and you tumbled through into this," Freya muttered, as if repeating something she'd heard once.

"You sayin' you're..." Jayne couldn't even begin to wrap his head around the idea. "You were created," Mal said, in more or less the same state as his ex-merc, but woe-betide anyone who pointed that out. "In another 'verse." "An alternate 'verse," Cat confirmed. "Are you here too?" "You mean are you likely to come across two of me?" "Uh ... yeah." "Only one of me. Only ever one of me."

Mal would swear forever after that she sounded wistful.

'Me too,' the panther at her side added, but no one seemed to notice. Declan held his breath, the realization of the added crew members sadly explained, but if there was no Cat, would his dad still be alive? And if he wasn't, was Dec himself about to wink out of existence? For a moment, each stood silent with their own thoughts, then Cat spoke again, almost amused. "Really not from around here."

"Those men ... trying to kill us. We're somehow important," Mal commented as the redhead nodded solemnly.

"I can't fill you in on everything. Me being here has thrown the universe out of balance. We were never meant to meet, but without Batha's interference, you'd be dead." Her eyes closed for a second at the thought of seeing Mal die again. "Still, they will send more. Your universe is the only one left that they can find refuge in. All the others have been eradicated." She rubbed Batha behind her ear as she spoke, more for moral support than anything. "Cat, is it?" At her nod Mal went on, "Look, Cat, I'm grateful we ain't lying in a pool o'blood, but what you've just said ... well, it takes a little getting used to. I conjure none of us know what to think, and you saying you can't fill us in ... well, it's not making things any easier." 'Steady.' The word repeated in her mind as Cat sighed.

'They are skeptical.' 'So were we.' A purr echoed in her ear as they shared a second of memory. 'God man spoke truth.' 'Yes, he did. Guess that's why we're here.'

'No.' The panther rumbled. 'Protecting cubs. Good enough reason.' Jayne hadn't heard the conversation, but his brain was trying to get to grips with everything she'd said. Still, all he could come out with was, "Lady, you're fong luh!"

'Not protect him', Batha added, making Cat chuckle.

A soft buzzing came from Freya's pocket, and not taking her eyes off the other woman she reached in and tugged a comm unit free. "River?" "You weren't listening," the psychic accused. "What?" "Trying to tell you something, and you were ignoring me." Freya's lips twitched at River's annoyance. "Sorry. We've been ... busy." "You're about to get busier." Immediately everyone was taking notice. "What?" Freya asked, opening her mind. "Shit." "Frey?" "The dead men walked in," River explained. "But their ship is waiting, and they didn't hear, so they're coming." Mal moved closer. "How long, albatross?" "Minutes."


AN: thanks to Werzbowski for his loan of the wonderful character 'Ski. Declan happens to be his son and for those who don't know who that any of Cat's stories and also the 'Chronicles of Werzbowski'

More to come so Watch this space... ;)


Friday, October 1, 2010 6:10 AM


Ooh, this just gets better and better. Plus I love your dialogue, such true voices and enough creepifying bits and intrigue to drown a city. Love it, can't wait for more! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, October 1, 2010 7:47 AM


I'm with Jayne... my brain hurts now.

Very intriguing premise, can't wait to read more.

- 'Ski

Friday, October 1, 2010 1:11 PM


Very nice work Angelle and Jane0904!

CAT as bloody as ever with body parts all around and people not knowing her. I’m glad that it didn’t become bloodier ;)

More please…..BPZ

Saturday, October 2, 2010 4:58 AM


Just started reading this and I have to say wow...creepy and cool, I like it!


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