HANDFUL OF STARS: 22. "Big Damn Rescue"
Saturday, February 26, 2011

"When Mal discovers half his crew is missing he is determined to get them back whatever the cost. To his surprise he ends up with more help that he expects."


TITLE: "BIG DAMN RESCUE" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: None. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "THE ENEMY WITHIN". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "When Mal discovers half of his crew is missing he is determined to get them back whatever the cost. To his surprise he ends up with more help that he expects." 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

* * * * *

Monty couldn't help it, he had to ask. Did you an' Zoe ever..."

"*Shenme? Bu qu*! We were never like that. Zoe's family."

The big man nodded but there was still a lingering speculation in his eye. One Malcolm Reynolds wanted to stamp out for once and for all.

"It would be like bein' with my *mei mei*." Mal shuddered at the thought. "Would you ever go with your sister?"

It was kind of satisfying to see Monty go pale. "*Diyu*, no. That would be all manner of *cuode*."

They walked off, a companionable silence briefly settling around them. A couple of steps behind them Ritchie Thomas and a couple of Monty's crew kept their eyes sharp, making sure they were not being followed. "Besides," Monty added with a sly twinkle in his eye "I don't have a sister."

Wash was hovering at the foot of Serenity's ramp, his face wreathed in anxiety and worry. The Captain knew how he felt but he couldn't be having this. Needed his pilot sharp, calm, not falling to gorram pieces. "You know what to do?"

"*Qu*. You should let me come with you."

"Been through this, *dui*? Need you ready for the quick get away. Even a man with your wondrous talents can't be in two places at once, Wash."

"But she's my 'wife'!"

"*Wo zhidao* an' my best friend. We work best when we work together, *dong ma*? Soon as we leave you take off again. Keep radio silence 'til I break it. Don't need to go far just high enough to put Serenity in cloud cover."

"What about Kaylee?"

Mal had taken Kaylee over to Monty's ship as soon as they had landed. Simon being Simon, he had managed to break down the chemical make up of the substance used to shut down the Kingfisher's engine and come up with a solution to break the bonds by the time they landed. Now all Kaylee had to do was flush it through the engine. "Ain't goin' nowhere yet. Kaylee should be finished within the hour, when she gets back aboard you take Serenity up. Monty'll have his ship fastened up tight. Anyone comes snoopin' they'll think she still can't fly."

Wash looked at the men with Mal, not sure why in the nine hells that useless Sheriff was tagging along and still coming up short. "Thought you had four men, Monty?"

The big man nodded and resisted the urge to run a hand through his much diminished whiskers. It would only depress him. "I have. Old man Ellis wanted to come too so he's with Tommy helpin' Kaylee clean out the engine. Denny's stayin' to fire her up once they're done to make sure they get it all outta the system."

"That might be a bad idea."

Everyone stared at Wash. Mal raised a brow, surprised at his objection. "There somethin' you wanna tell me, Wash?"

"Yeah, um." He looked at Monty. "You said Petrie had groups of men sneakin' around?"

Monty nodded. "*Qu*. At first they was just hangin' around the ship then leavin' again. Figured they was makin' sure we still couldn't go nowhere but then up at Old Man Ellis's place we got attacked. Must'a followed us."

The Captain didn't like the sound of that. "You sure it was the same folks?"

At Monty's nod Wash looked a mite puzzled. "Why would they do that? They already know you can't go anywhere."

"My guess is they were worried Ellis might help us get round that problem what with that huge yard of his. I hear tell he's got parts for almost every ship that was includin' mine."

For a moment no one spoke. Ritchie gave Wash a thoughtful look. "Why'd you say it might be a bad idea for Denny to fire up the engine, Wash?"

"If Petrie's men are hangin' around, firin' up the engine will tell 'em Monty's ship can fly again. They went to such a lot of effort to ground her I don't like to think what they'll do if they think the engine's been fixed."

"Then don't let the engine fire up." Said Mal. "Monty, you wanna wave Denny from Serenity? We need to get everythin' ready for when Kaylee gets done an' rejoins us. I'm thinkin' best not to leave anyone on your boat just to be on the safe side. Them as don't wanna come with us can stay on my boat."

As much as he hated leaving his ship empty, Monty couldn't argue with Mal's logic. Petrie's men had shown themselves to be surprisingly tenacious when it came to him and his crew. At first they hadn't tried to do more than keep them pinned down but the stakes had risen when they were attacked at Ellis's place. If the old man hadn't had that store of gunpowder and the know how to use it they could all have been wiped out. The very thought made Monty go cold but not with fear. Anger, deep and powerful, was building inside him. He just hoped he'd get the chance to wrap his hands around the neck of that sick *tamade hundan* that thought torturing his friends and attacking his crew was such a shiny thing to do.

* * * * *

Jayne Cobb was stunned. It wasn't like he hadn't hoped for rescue just that it seemed more than a mite unlikely. He had no idea where the others were, whether they had been injured or worst still killed but him being alive gave him hope. Kind'a. Seeing the door of his pokey little *jianyu* come off its' hinges was a sight for sore eyes but the hope was quickly quashed by the figure that stepped through the doorway. Backing up, Jayne's eyes widened. Captain had said the messenger weren't no Reaver but it made no never mind to Jayne's imagination. The ripped, miss-matched layers of skin only made the tormented man's face scarier and Jayne Cobb didn't do scary. Not unless he was the one wielding the gorram knife.

"Get away from me!"

An impossible voice chided him. "Don't be afraid."

Confused, Jayne stared at the nightmare figure and tried to match what he was hearing to what he was seeing. "Moonbrain?"

The girl danced out from behind the monster, her laughing face an antidote that was almost painful to the mercenary's deep rooted fears. "He isn't the enemy, Jayne."

"Could'a ruttin' fooled me." He growled.

"We have to hurry."

A second more welcome surprise almost left Jayne speechless as River handed him Vera and the rest of his gear. "How the *diyu* you get my stuff?"

River shook her head. "No time, explain later. We have to go, *mashang*!"

Jayne didn't argue just slid binky back in her sheath and quickly slipped his jacket on, the pockets happily bulging with his temporarily lost treasures. Feeling more confident now that he was armed, Jayne was still not too happy about the company they were keeping. River tugged at his jacket sleeve.

"Come ON, Jayne! Can't be a Big Damn Hero if you don't MOVE!"

"Okay, okay," he grumbled "I'm comin'."

* * * * *

Hardy hated this. The wound bled like a stuck pig and it was slowing them down. "They're gonna kill us!"

His companion didn't seem very worried. "We got away, don't be a baby."

"Huh, weren't you got hit."

"Be still, once I get this bandage in place we can get a move on."

Begrudgingly, Hardy snapped his mouth shut and glanced away. Fortunately the bullet had gone right through his shoulder, trouble was it was his right shoulder and he was right handed. While he could still fire a gun the recoil was a bitch. Shooting left handed was almost more dangerous that being fired on.

"Hemming's gonna hunt us down you know that, don't ya?"

Davy sucked in a breath. Their attempts at stealthily stealing away when the other groups had joined together to attack the house had not gone smooth. One of the men had alerted Hemmings and that was when the group had split up, half attacking the house, the other half turning on Hardy and him. "We need to get outta here, *dong ma*? Think you can move?"

"Got shot in the shoulder not the legs." Hardy grumbled as he pushed to his feet but there was no heat in his words. He wasn't mad at Davy just all manner of annoyed at himself for not being sneaky enough. Davy seemed to read his mind.

"Not your fault."

Hardy wanted to laugh but not the hah-hah kind. "How you figure that? I messed up."

"There's no 'i' in 'we'."

Hardy stared at his friend then slowly blinked. "You bein' *huaji*?"

"Didn't ya go to school?"

This time Hardy laughed outright. "Nah, an' don't tell me you did 'cause I know different."

"We had a church an' when I was little the Preacher took a Sunday School. Taught us a bit o' bible readin' an' our letters but not much else. Couldn't wait to get outta there."

"*Weishenme*? Sounds like it was useful."

His friend shook his head. "We were kids, Hardy. What kid wants to be shut up with an old fossil spoutin' fire n' brimstone 'tween learnin' to read n' write?"

"Yeah well, you did better'n me so don't go complainin'."

They fell silent as a branch snapped some yards behind them. Sucking in a hasty breath, Hardy remembered that they weren't safe. Not here and maybe not nowhere else but waiting for Hemmings and his men to catch them was not an option. With a soft grunt he eased his sore body into motion and carefully followed Davy. They needed to get as far away as possible. The longer they stayed in this area the more likely it would be that Hemmings would send someone to get the dogs and if that happened they could kiss any chance of freedom goodbye.

* * * * *

Zoe felt sick to her stomach. Listening to Book sell out the Captain was one of the most painful things she had ever had to do. Her body was taut with tension, anger coursing through her veins and filling her with adrenalin. Petrie ignored her, all his attention on the Shepherd, his eyes glittering with the kind of maniacal glee that should be extinguished at gorram birth. Without even glancing back at her, Petrie hurried out of the makeshift surgery with Book. The scientist, Dr Fox, hung back and it was with a jolt that Zoe realised he was moving closer to her. For a moment their eyes met. Zoe could not read his expression but tugged at her restraints, her eyes asking what her lips could not. Didn't know whether Petrie was waiting out in the corridor for Fox to join them. A tiny flicker of regret was the doctor's only response then he turned and left the room taking any small hope of freedom with him.

Inwardly fuming, Zoe tried to calm down. The Captain always used to say you couldn't think straight when you were angry. Might explain why so many of his jobs went south, not that she would say as much. He was, after all, the Captain. Not her place to judge not unless she was willing to step up and show him how it was done and that just wasn't something she ever wanted to do. She'd back him to the hilt through thick and thin but she didn't want to walk in his shoes. Too many times her *shenjingbing pengyou* had turned their failing fortunes around with nothing much more than the power of his belief and sheer gorram *wangu* will. No. Whatever his faults, Malcolm Reynolds was a born leader. Her job was to keep him alive long enough for it to matter and yet here she was, strapped to an operating table with wires connected up to the muscles in her body, waiting for that *feng le heishoudang liumang* to return and start torturing her. Not for knowledge but for fun.

* * * * *

When Kaylee, Denny, Thomas and Old Man Ellis joined the others at Serenity, Malcolm Reynolds was ready to send out a gorram search party. As soon as Kaylee appeared he shot her a look of accusation, ignoring the worsening throb in his gorram head. "What in the nine hells you been doin', Kaylee? You said an hour!"

Her smile did not diminish one iota, too full of happy to be dampened by her Captain's irritation. "Took longer than I thought but she's as clean as a new pin now, Cap'n. Course I would'a liked to have started her up but..."

"No startin' the engine, that was the deal."

"*Wo zhidao* but what if there ain't anyone watchin' the ship? We could'a made sure the engine would fire. Would save time in case they had to lift off in a hurry."

"You willin' to risk Monty an' his crew's lives to prove that theory, little Kaylee?"

She flushed a mite. "*Bu qu*, just was sayin' is all."

The Captain put an arm around her shoulders and lowered his voice, each word toffee coated and coaxing in her ear like a balm for any hurt he had caused her. "*Wo dong, mei mei*, an' if I could be sure it wouldn't bring all manner of hurt down on everyone I'd'a wanted that too. We do the best we can with what we got, *dong ma*?"

Her disappointment assuaged she smiled up at her Captain. "You're a good man, Cap'n."

Mal snorted, amused. "No I ain't, I'm a mean old man."

Her hug surprised him. Kaylee whispered softly, just for his ears. "Yeah, but you're my mean old man."

It was on the tip of his tongue to ask what Simon would think about that when he remembered that time was not their ally. They had folks a-waitin' on them and a ruthless, evil torturer to put an end to. No time for wasting. "Best you board now, Kalyee. Keep my boat runnin'."

As Kaylee grinned and nodded her agreement, Mal turned to Old Man Ellis and the odd mix of people waiting in a little clump at the foot of the ramp for his attention. Though he didn't say so, Mal was all manner of grateful that Monty's pilot Denny had driven over from the Kingfisher in their old but reliable mule. It wasn't as well tuned as Serenity's on account of Kaylee keeping it well maintained and shiny but it was bigger.

"Ritchie, I understand you know how to get to that *tamade hundan's* secret hideout?"

"I do."

The Captain gave him a firm look, wanting some reassurance that the man was up to this. "Ain't expectin' you to do any fightin'..."

Ritchie cut him off. "I ain't an ornament, Mal." The Captain paused and stared. "I'll fight an' if I get the chance I'll fillet than son o' a bitch an' slice every scrap of meat an' muscle off his hide 'fore I let him die."

Well. That answered that question.

Old Man Ellis stepped forward and offered the Captain his hand. "Name's Don Ellis. Thought you could maybe use some supplies."

The Captain's eyebrows rose. "We got guns a-plenty but if you've got extra ammo wouldn't say no to a sack full."

Ellis laughed though his eyes were bright and solemn. A man used to making hard choices and not regretting the cost. "I got explosives, Cap'n, chargin' caps an' such as well as some Mortisen Grenades."

"Thought they were outlawed?"

The way Ellis grinned reminded Mal that this man used to blow holes in mountains for a living. Putting a few in living folk was such a little step when the men concerned were enemies. "On'y by the Alliance, Cap'n." His eyes twinkled darkly. "You see any purplebellies around?"

"I surely don't." The Captain paused, watching as Monty indicated for Denny to board Serenity, the rest of his men including Thomas the mechanic staying with the mule. "They as devastatin' as I hear tell?"

"No, Cap'n." As Mal's face fell, Ellis gave him a smug smile. "I increased the yield an' blast range."

"How much?"

When Ellis told him the Captain paled a mite then let a slow satisfied smile flit around his tight lips. "*Hen hao*. We blast our way in an' send anyone who tries to stop us to *diyu*."

With a wave to Wash, Mal climbed up onto Monty's mule and got Denny to stop far enough away to be out of the ship's wake as the Firefly lifted off. He waited until the ship was lost to sight then urged Denny to get going. So far they hadn't seen sight nor sound of Petrie's mercenaries but that didn't mean they weren't out there. Wouldn't do for them to be jumped before they got to the hideout and rescued his people.

* * * * *

Zoe lay back with her eyes fastened on the chrome ceiling, her thoughts dark and murderous. It took a moment to realise someone was creeping through the door. Before she could turn her head River Tam danced over and beamed down at her.

"River! How did you get away?"

"Wasn't caught. Thrown back in the blast and got covered in bits of rock. Pieces too small to cause injury but enough to hide me."

Then Jayne was shoving past, his big hands quick and deft as he hurried to unstrap Serenity's first mate. As Zoe sat up, River cautioned her. "*Deng*, need to remove the wires first."

Zoe nodded. Had almost forgotten in her eagerness to get off that gorram table. River helped, Jayne hefting Vera and going to take post by the door. It wasn't until Zoe was free of all the wires and joined him that she noticed he was not alone. Shock turned to alarm but before she could say anything River slid in front of her.

"Not what you think. Friend not foe."

"He tricked the Cap'n, River."

"Wasn't his fault. Re-wired."

Her words sent a shudder of revulsion through Zoe just as shockwaves reverberated through the room making her stumble. The messenger slammed the door shut. For a moment Zoe thought Jayne was going to shoot him. "What the good gorram you do that for?"

"Not safe."

"Yeah, well neither's holin' up in a room with no exit, *ben dan*!"


His head swivelled round at Zoe's command voice.

"He ain't one of us an' I don't trust him."

"No one's askin' you to but he's right."

Jayne blinked, confused. "He is?"

It was River who explained. "Daddy's coming and he's brought friends. Not safe to leave the room until he says so."

"Daddy? What the ruttin' *diyu* you talkin' about, Moonbrain?"

The messenger turned from the door to glare at Jayne, his whole manner bristling with menace. Ready to rip Jayne Cobb into little bitty shreds for insulting River. The girl patted the man on his forearm as if calming a child. "*Fang xin*, he doesn't mean me any harm."

Jayne opened his mouth to speak when explosions rocked the door, stone dust puffing out from around the doorframe and making them cough. "Gorramit, they're gonna bring the whole gorram mountain down on top of us!"

River grinned. "No, they won't. Captain Daddy brought an expert with him."

Jayne and Zoe exchanged a look. Jayne's was stunned, Zoe's disbelieving. "Are you sayin' the Cap'n's here?"

Her nod was happy and proud. "Heard we were missing and came to get us."

The mercenary drew back his lips in a feral grin. Just then there came frantic banging on the door. Before River could stop him, Jayne shoved the messenger aside and flung it open, expecting to find Mal on the other side. Lincoln James Petrie pushed his way through, blood running down the left side of his face and madness in his eyes. In his hands he held a gun which he waved to keep them back, his free hand shooting out to grab Zoe and yank her close. Jayne swore, unable to get a clear shot at him without risking hitting Zoe. She would have just told him to take the shot but Jayne knew he would be the one who would have to explain why he had got her killed to Mal and that was a conversation the mercenary wasn't going to have. Not ever.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shenme* = what *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *mei mei* = little sister *diyu* = hell *cuode* = wrong *qu* = yes (lit. go) *wo zhidao* = I know *dong ma* = understand? *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *jianyu* = prison *huaji* = funny/commical *mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately *weishenme* = why? *wangu* = stubborn *shenjingbing* = crazy *pengyou* = friend *feng le* = mad/insane *hen hao* = very good *heishoudang liumang* = gangster/asshole/bastard *deng* = wait *ben dan* = moron *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *dui* = correct *wo dong* = I understand


Saturday, February 26, 2011 8:57 AM


Just when you think things might finally be going right...

But, old man with ZOE as a hostage? lol. Way to underestimate, Petrie.

Saturday, February 26, 2011 2:16 PM


Thanks for the feedback, Bytemite. As for underestimating Petrie, it ain't over just yet. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Sunday, February 27, 2011 4:33 AM


Interesting. You know when you say rescue... it's suppose to go a certain way... of course, in the Firefly world, that is the wrong way every time. Great way to keep the 'verse on an even keel. :) Now, Petrie best not be killing Zoe... dong ma? ;)

Sunday, February 27, 2011 4:43 AM


Nice to see some happy start to happen in this story. You gotta love a rescue!

Sunday, February 27, 2011 7:09 AM


Terrific stuff. And I agree with Byte - you just don't go taking Zoe as a hostage when she's awake and not tied down!

Sunday, February 27, 2011 11:59 AM


You are SO right Angellemarcs and we all love a shiny rescue, Katesfriend. As for taking Zoe hostage, Petrie is going to be all kinds of sorry, Jane0904. Thanks for the shiny feedback, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Thursday, April 7, 2011 5:27 AM


Been busy at work, so I'm just catching back up to your amazing story.
Best part of that is I don't have to wait for the next chapter ;)


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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.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

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.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

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.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
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.