HANDFUL OF STARS: 3. "Middle of No and Where"
Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The deadline passes but the Captain can't relax. Meanwhile their situation becomes a mite more desperate."


TITLE: "MIDDLE OF NO AND WHERE" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: None. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "ENEMIES A-PLENTY". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "The deadline passes but the Captain can't relax. Meanwhile their situation becomes a mite more desperate." 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

* * * * *

"What're you doin', sir?"

"Makin' a list."

Zoe peered over the Captain's shoulder as he sat at the big oak table in the commons room. They were just a few hours out of Cheverell and so far as she knew they still didn't have a job lined up. Cheverell being almost smack bang in the middle of No and Where made her concerned as to Mal's thinking especially with fuel also running low. It quickly became clear that Mal was not intending to elaborate. Zoe concentrated on the list.

"Don't see Badger's name, sir."

"If'n he was gonna kill me he wouldn't'a sent a warnin'. Would do somethin' mean an' sneaky, put me an' mine in the way of bein' dead rather than do it his ownself."

Sitting at the far end of the table, Jayne paused while cleaning under his nails with his favourite knife. "Should'a killed him months back - that cheatin', lyin', back stabbin' *wangba dan*."

"He's a middle man, Jayne. Can't go takin' out the middle men or there'll be no work, *dong ma*?"

"As in we got work now?" Growled Jayne.

The Captain sighed. He had an idea or two but needed to sound them out private-like before making any promises or suggestions that would sound like promises to his crew. Knew he wouldn't hear the last of it if he raised their hopes only to dash them again. They'd all been more than a mite battered over the last year and the death threat had unnerved them all even though the deadline had been and gone six hours now. He should have felt relieved but something was nagging at him, making him more cautious and wary. Not yet ready to announce that the danger was over. Would feel a whole lot happier if he could figure out who set up the man to deliver that warning. He paused and looked up at Zoe. "Any you wanna add?"

She frowned at the list for a moment. "Pretty sure Reardon's dead, sir."

"Didn't see no body."

"Not much left of it after the mortar."

Mal held back a sigh. "Right, scratch him off."

"What about Henderson?"

"Nah, he got old an' fat. Would take a reinforced mule to move him. Wouldn't think me worth the effort."

"He could hire someone."

Mal looked up. "An' waste good coin?"

"Good point, sir. Henderson's out."

Just then Kaylee walked in with Simon a step behind her. Smudges of grease and oil on her face that didn't dampen her cheery smile one bit. "Who's out?"

Inara and Book wandered in after them. Any minute now the Captain expected Wash to join them while Serenity crashed on the rocks.

"Won't crash, just run out of fuel. Drift and burn."

The sudden appearance of River popping up behind him startled the Captain. Zoe smirked but wiped the humour off her face when the Captain turned his head. "River, what did I say about jumpin' out on people?"

She shook her head. "Wrong question."

Kaylee moved up to her friend, her smile dimming. "What do you mean we're gonna run out of fuel, drift an' burn?"

"It's a possibility."

Irritated, Mal folded the paper he was writing on and shoved it in the top pocket of his shirt. "Ain't a possibility 'cause we're landin' on Cheverell."

The little genius tilted her head and looked at the Captain. He made an heroic effort not to squirm, girl saw more than was healthy for both of them. "Didn't answer your wave."

"You waved someone? *Shei*?"

Mal wanted to ignore Inara's question but too many ears were listening and too many eyes sparked with interest. Gorramit, why couldn't they let him make his gorram enquiries and wait until he had a deal in the bag? He was the Captain after all. Now Zoe was opening her mouth and that was an interrogation he didn't feel up to enduring.

"Just been makin' enquiries. No need to make a fuss."

"You got us a job?" Squealed Kaylee, her eyes widening hopefully.

He was just about to answer when Wash's voice came over the com telling him there was a wave. Smiling more with relief than pleasure, the Captain rose quickly and headed up to the bridge, his crew trailing along behind him like a mother Hen with her chicks all in a row.

* * * * *

The Blackout was weird, made no gorram sense at all. Mayor Pearson called the Sheriff, he called the Councillor who called the line engineer who claimed there wasn't a thing wrong with the rutting electrics. But something was shorting out systems making the overhead lines crackle and frizz with energy bouncing between lines in crazy arcs that had folks running and ducking just before sparks flew like the fourth of July on Earth-That-Was and plunged the main town of Rootham into darkness. Not a light flickered in a single window. Only them as had wood fires had any glimmer of light in their houses. The railtrack was dead, the council offices a cachophony of folks yelling for torches and gorram candles. The Sheriff wasn't too worried, he always thought the amenities of modern life much over rated. Folks relying on technology always got their gorram fingers burnt both figuratively and sometimes for real. Kind'a amusing come to think on it.

Something moved in the shadows, hugging the edges of buildings. Slow, stealthy, and completely soundless. In the chaos of the Blackout panic had yet to grip the town but the stranger didn't want panic, he wanted anonymity.

* * * * *

"Gorramit, you're a sight for sore eyes!"

Monty laughed, eyes twinkling, his girth as big and impressive as ever. "Might have somethin' for you, Mal."

The Captain blinked back his surprise. Too many faces crowding in behind him to look a gorram gift horse in the mouth. "Have you now?"

"Remember Ritchie Thomas at Cold Creek?"

Mal would have preferred to have forgotten that no good scoundrel but as irritating as the man was there was no real harm in him. Not much in the way of intelligence either. "What happened to him?"

The smirk on Monty's face nearly carved a smug path through his bushy growth of whiskers. "He made Sheriff."

A chuckle replaced the Captain's earlier suspicion, convinced he was being spun a line. "You makin' this up, Monty? What town would have Ritchie? *Deng*, don't tell me. Someone paid 'em?"

"*Bu qu*. Heard tell he got married after the fiasco at Cold Creek. They upped sticks an' moved off-world, lookin' for some place far outta Alliance lanes."

An odd feeling crept along the Captain's bones, sticking closer than a second skin. Kind'a like a premonition if he was wont to believe in such things. "Where did he go?"

Monty leaned closer to the cortex screen. "A no count world called Cheverell."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wangba dan* = bastard *dong ma* = understand? *shei* = who *deng* = wait *bu qu* = no (lit. no go)


Thursday, October 14, 2010 1:17 PM


Ominous shadows and familiar faces....getting a little worried...especially since they are heading toward's hoping our BDHs don't end up in jail. ;)Wonderfully written.

Friday, October 15, 2010 1:05 AM


Nice, but I want LONGER chapters. :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010 10:55 AM


Glad to see Monty again =) but it feels like the calm before the storm...looking forward to the next!

Sunday, October 17, 2010 3:37 AM


Yes...I enjoy seeing Monty surface again too!

Enjoying the story Alison, ready for more!


Sunday, October 17, 2010 9:32 AM


Thank you for your comments everyone, they are much appreciated. And to answer your private wave BPZ, no it is not who you think! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010 12:45 PM


Well….you can’t fault a boy for guessin….lol ;)


Monday, November 22, 2010 9:53 AM


"Curiouser and curiouser," as Alice once said. Your story is definitely keeping the suspense at a healthy level. Will read more.


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

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Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

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If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

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.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
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.