HANDFUL OF STARS: 2. "Enemies A-Plenty"
Monday, October 11, 2010

"Mal, Zoe and Jayne bring the rest of the crew up to speed leaving them all none the wiser. River gives obscure hints and the Captain can feel the time running out with no clue as to from where the danger will come."


TITLE: "ENEMIES A-PLENTY" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: None. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "WARNING". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Mal, Zoe and Jayne bring the rest of the crew up to speed leaving them all none the wiser. River gives obscure hints and the Captain can feel the time running out with no clue as to from where the danger will come." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

The discussion was quiet, subdued. St Helens far behind them, Wash laid a course for Cheverell. Inara said nothing even though it would take them further from the Core worlds where her most monied clients lived. Jayne had calmed down and was nursing a mug of coffee as black as oil topped off with the bitter whiskey residue of bad home brew. It wasn't Kaylee's inter engine mix but a cheap brand he had bought too many bottles of to waste. Alcohol was alcohol and he inhaled it like an addict.

"Did the man say why he was warning you, Captain?"

Mal blinked at Simon Tam as if he were stupid. The doctor was a little dishevelled from sitting for hours hunched up over a cortex screen in the infirmary reviewing River's meds and scanning every medical text to see if there was anything new out there that would help. He looked worried and Mal knew any threat to him or his crew was immediately viewed as a threat to River. It was all manner of sad to him that Simon never factored himself in that doomsday scenario, as if his own life held no worth next to that of his gifted but whimsical sister.

"*Bu qu*."

Shepherd Book had been listening quietly while Mal, Zoe and Jayne had related the disturbing little incident. "You said he looked strange?"

The Captain waved his hand in front of his face. "His skin was all mottled or somesuch, different shades of skin an' he was bald..."

"With one of them pigtails." Jayne added.

Kaylee tilted her head. "He was Chinese?"

"*Bushi*. Too tall."

The Shepherd gave a small shake of his head as if in gentle admonishment. "Captain, I have known many tall men of Chinese descent."

"No, no, the face had kind'a Chinese features but they didn't look right, *dongma*?"

"What do you mean?"

It was Zoe who clarified her Captain's confused account. "It was as if he'd been in a fire or had a skin graft."

"So that was why the skin was mottled?"

"Yeah, Simon, I think maybehaps it was somethin' like that though there was somethin' real odd about him."

"Odder than a man with a patchwork face, pigtail an' carryin' a death threat?"

The Captain glared at Wash but he wasn't really annoyed at him. He was unsettled and anxious because he didn't know who the man was or who had sent him and that put him on edge. Knowing who your enemies were meant you could be prepared against them. The stranger had denied them that ability leaving him with an unwelcome feeling of vulnerability. "Wish I could tell you more but we didn't hang around."

"So, this oddness?" Book prompted.

"He had really old eyes."

At the looks on his crews' faces, the Captain hurried to explain.

"It was weird, like someone or something incredibly ancient lookin' back at me. An' before you say anythin' I know how *shenjingbing* that sounds. It was more than a mite creepifyin'."

Kaylee's voice was quiet, as if she hesitated to pinpoint the part of the story that worried her the most. "He said you were gonna die by midnight?"

The Captain nodded. Book was quick to try to allay anyone's fears. "Maybe that only applied if the Captain stayed on St. Helens."

"Wasn't what he said." Grumbled Jayne darkly as he stared into the bottom of his now empty mug.

Everyone turned their attention to the Captain. "*Shenme*? I ain't dead yet."

"Two hours, fifteen minutes and thirty two seconds."

Simon turned to look at his sister, her face pale, eyes distant. "*Mei mei*, you're not helping."

"Can't out-run the bullet that carries your name."

The crew fell silent and the Captain felt that chill run down his spine again. "You sayin' he's right, little one?"

She blinked slowly as if coming back from somwhere far, far away. "*Ni bu dong*. He is what he was created to be, no malice aforethought."

Mal stared at her. What in the nine hells did that mean? "Um, that's good."

River Tam shook her head and tried again. "Precision instruments don't need to feel, just carry a sharp enough edge."

In horror, Kaylee stared at her friend. "You sayin' he's the one who's gonna kill the Cap'n?"

"Still standin' here."

They all ignored Mal, all attention fixed on River awaiting her response.

"Not his job but he's watching. Someone has to keep score."

* * * * *

He didn't ask whether the message had been delivered. Knew it for a fact. The man was his creation after all.

"The ship took off."

He nodded. So far the prey was acting exactly as predicted. Malcolm Reynolds wouldn't be trusting many worlds, if any, for a while now. Or until food and fuel supplies ran out. Which meant he would be looking elsewhere for the necessities of life and like any good hunter he had planned for that as well. If he was an emotional man he would have been salivating at the very thought, the bright burn of revenge a tightly controlled drug that kept every thought oiled to perfection the better to best the man who once bested him. They said that revenge was a dish best served cold but they were wrong. His was white hot and eating him up like a canker inside but a canker whose descent into annihilation he controlled. Soon it would feed on much sweeter flesh and who among his brothers could deny him that?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *bushi* = not so *shenjingbing* = crazy *shenme* = what *dong ma* = understand? *mei mei* = little sister *ni bu dong* = you don't understand


Monday, October 11, 2010 5:53 AM


I almost get a sense of... Alliance, or Blue Sun. Something from the war, or maybe that Sanda guy from Better Days.

The only way staying away from other worlds could still kill Mal here is if he ingested something.

Monday, October 11, 2010 10:11 AM


Wow. I think River has a habit of making obscure hints to keep people guessing. Loved the 'carry bullet' reference. As well as the description of the odd man. Old eyes was a very good way of putting it. Love it and am nervous as to the hour approaching. No killin off the hear me?! ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010 9:11 PM


Interesting, the final guy sounded like a reaver kinda.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 2:57 PM


Very captivating story Alison

Who is this mystery person? One that’s been bested by the Captain of Serenity once already, and one that can create a messenger, human or mechanical to do his bidding?

So far it could be someone from Mal’s past that we know about, or someone completely new……I am ready to find out more….

Good story…BP

Monday, November 22, 2010 9:41 AM


I love it that Mal has to interject that he's still alive while they're all treating him as if he's already dead. Great fun -- and very true to the dynamic of the series. I'm still intrigued and will keep reading. Keep writing! *grin*


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The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

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The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

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Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

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Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.