Family (Part 12/14)
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The crew's fighting for their lives, and Mal concocts the worst back-up plan in his unseemly career.


Mal was crouched down by the window, armed with nothing but his handgun, and cursing himself for not bringing more weapons into the Cobb home. But then again, he hadn't expected an attack.

Or had he?

In hindsight, it was clear that they should've been better prepared for this kind of situation. He should've known a man like MacHaig was crazy enough to pull a stunt like this. He'd credited him with too much intelligence, and the rest of the people in town with too much bravery and common sense. It was so obvious now.

He should've listened to Jayne, was the horrifying conclusion to this train of thoughts. Should have let him gun down the hundan at first sight. He'd miscalculated the situation completely, perhaps not even bothered to calculate it at all.

"Zoë!" he hollered towards the kitchen, where his first mate and Fergus had gone to cover the back. The radios were back on Serenity and the only way of communicating was by shouting, and it was hard being heard over all the firing. "D'you see anythin'?"

"Only the torches!" Zoë yelled back. "I'm countin' ten back here."

Mal cursed again. It was the same at his front. In the blackness of the night, they could only see the lights, not the actual men carrying them. And he saw at least fifteen moving torches in addition to Zoë's ten.

Twenty-five men, then. At least.

He quickly scanned the room. Radiant was to his left, hunched down by the other window, at the moment reloading her rifle. Mattie was still by the trap door, gripping his gun with a passion. His eyes were wide, but glued to the door; he was ready to perform the task Jayne had left him with. River lay on the floor next to him, whimpering with terror. And Simon was in the corner with Obadiah, and Mal noticed how he was working a lot slower and less frantically now.

Not a good sign.

A wave of guilt washed over him. This was all his fault. He had accused MacHaig for being arrogant, and now he'd made himself guilty of that very same thing.

This was Heart of Gold all over again.

Shouting out in anger and frustration, he spun around and started firing out the window again.


"There's three more by the barn," Jo declared from her position at the opposite side of the first-floor window they both were flanking. Jayne glanced over at her. She had put on her night-vision goggles and was peering around the frame, scanning the yard in front of the house.

Jayne decided to have a look for himself, but he could hardly make out anything out there. "Recognize any of 'em?" he asked his sister.

"Nah," she replied after a few moments. "Must be hired guns. Probably lumberjacks."

"Yeah," he agreed. "They'll do anythin' for pay. Can you take 'em out from here?"

"´Course I can," she snarled, and raised her rifle, taking aim. Seconds later she fired it and a malicious smile graced her face for a moment. "Gotcha!"

At the same time Jayne caught sight of another thug moving about in the shadows and fired his gun at him. His round hit home as well.

Yes, they were doing some damage, he and Jo, and undoubtedly so were Zoë and the captain. But not enough. There were simply too many people out there, and most of them he couldn't even see.

Gorram cowards to hide in the dark like that!

"Come on!" he yelled at them through the open window. "Come face me like men!"

All he got in return was a hail of bullets that forced both him and his sister to hit the floor.

And then a blazing light suddenly pierced the darkness outside. "What the…?" Jayne began, but Jo had already scrambled back unto her feet to see what was going on.

"They've set fire to the barn!" she exclaimed.

Jayne got up as well and crouched down by the window next to her. The barn was indeed burning, and suddenly the whole yard was bathed in light. Jayne couldn't help but grin at the sight. Even though the fire was a threat to them should it spread to the house, it also provided them with some much-needed visibility. He could see the men now; they were running senselessly around, hooting and shouting and firing at will, like a herd of undisciplined farm animals.

"Idjits," he muttered.

And then he spotted MacHaig. The bastard was at the back, safely out of shooting range, perched upon his hovercraft from where he watched the slaughter from a distance. Jayne felt the blinding anger boil up in him and he stared firing again, even though he knew he would never hit the man from here.

The men outside fired back of course; Jayne heard several bullets whizz right past him, probably closer to his head than he liked to think.

And suddenly Jo yelled out in pain and went crashing to the floor. Jayne wasn't one to lose his cool in battle, but in that moment he did, and for a few excruciating long seconds he forgot to pay attention to anything else. He turned away from the window and called out her name.

She was on her back, clutching her right side, her face contorted in pain, but when she heard him shout, she looked up at him. "I'm okay," she hissed. She removed her hand to inspect the wound with a quick glance. "It only grazed me." She grinded her teeth and slammed the palm of her left hand hard against the floor. "Okay, now I'm pissed!" And with a loud yell she rolled over, fumbled around for her rifle and scurried back to her battle station by the window. "Die!" she screamed. "Die, you he chusheng zajiao de zanghuo!"

"That's the spirit," Jayne mumbled and continued shooting.


They were running out of ammo. Everybody knew it, but it was Zoë who first addressed the issue. "Back-up plan, Mal?" she yelled from the kitchen. "Because we might need one soon."

"Yeah." Jayne was suddenly at the top of the staircase, shouting down his agreement. "We can't hold 'em off for much longer. I'm almost outta rounds, and so's Jo."

Mal double-checked his own belt and pockets, even though he already knew he was on his last magazine. He had to come up with something. Fast. They were counting on him to do it. Waiting for his orders.

And he had none.

His mind was blank. Empty, just like his gun would soon be.

He opened his mouth to let it form an answer on its own, because he'd learned to rely on his instincts when everything else failed him. But before it got that far, his vision was blurred by the agonizing pain of a bullet tearing through his right shoulder. The floor tilted upwards to knock him over, and he heard Kaylee cry out in fear, and the next moment Simon was suddenly beside him, tugging at his arm to inspect the injury. Mal shook him off, ready to yell at him to get back to Obadiah, but then he suddenly realized that the older man lay awfully still and quiet in the corner, and he turned back towards the doctor to have his horrible conclusion confirmed.

Simon had no trouble interpreting the look on his face. "There was nothing I could've done," he solemnly explained. "There was too much trauma. He bled out in less than a minute."

"Sir?" Zoë's voice tore through the bubble of emptiness and immobility that somehow had engulfed him. He turned his head towards the sound of it, and saw that she was hunched down in the doorway, still waiting for his move.

"We need to get to Serenity," he said, forcing himself into action.

"Oh, I'm with ya there," Jayne dryly replied. "But in case you haven't noticed, we're surrounded. How you figure we'll get there?"

"Well," Mal said, glancing outside. "Maybe it's time we used the darkness to our advantage?" He hissed with pain as Simon put pressure on the wound in his shoulder. "If for instance Wash could get there, we could use the ship for aerial support. Might scare these miscreants enough to think twice 'bout what they're doin'."

Wash looked positively petrified. "You want me to do what?" he exclaimed.

"We'll provide a diversion, of course," the captain continued, thinking out loud. He was already feeling a little dizzy on account of the loss of blood. "We could send someone out the front door, make it look like we're trying to give ourselves up."

"Do these people strike you as someone who'd give a damn about that?" Radiant retorted from her place by the window.

"Not at all," Mal admitted. "But that's not the point. It'll draw the attention away from the real plan."

Zoë shook her head. "It'll be suicide," she darkly remarked.

"I know," Mal nodded. He swept his gaze across the room, eyeing each of his people in turn. "I'm the captain. I should be the one doing it."

"No." Mattie suddenly spoke up and they all turned to face him. "I'll do it."

"No!" his mother intervened almost instantly, her eyes wide with fear. "No!"

He looked at her. "Yes, Ma," he said. "It should be me. I'll be dead soon anyway. At least this way my death will mean something."

"Your death?" she shouted. "What about your life? No, I won't have it!"

"Ma!" Jayne broke in from the top of the stairs.

Radiant turned to face him. "Don't tell me you agree with him," she hissed.

"I don't," he replied. His voice was surprisingly calm. "But I believe it's his call."

Radiant spun around to look at Mal, something that surprised him a little. Did she really care about his opinion? "I agree," he said truthfully.

Radiant glanced back at her youngest son. "No," she sobbed and crawled across the floor towards him. "No," she repeated, her voice broke as she took his arm and held on to it, as if she was trying to physically hold him back. River, who was still on the floor next to them, joined in by reaching out and grabbing hold of Mattie's legs.

"People!" Fergus suddenly yelled frantically from the kitchen. "If you have a plan, you better perform it fast."

"Let me go, Ma," Mattie insisted. "It's me or it's all of us. You know that."

And just then Jo's muffled voice rang out from upstairs, and Jayne, who was closest to her, relayed her words to the rest of them. "She says to look outside!"

Mal wriggled himself out of Simon's grip and hurried back to the window. And now he could hear how the sounds from outside had changed. Now he heard the sound of horses, the sound of more guns, more shouting – more panic.

He mused into the half-dim darkness, and saw what he had hoped to see the entire time.

He turned back towards Mattie. "Never mind, boy. As much as I 'preciate your bravery, we won't be needin' your sacrifice."




Tuesday, March 13, 2012 10:55 AM


Yay, sounds like the townsfolk have turned up to help! Least that is what I am praying for. Phew, they really do get themselves in some scrapes and where are Jayne's beloved grenades when we need them? Love this, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me"

Thursday, March 15, 2012 7:58 PM


Yep, gotta agree that it was a back-up plan without much going for it. At least Jo had her night vision goggles. But it looks like help has arrived. Agree with Ali that Jayne shoulda brought his grenades! I'm counting on you to pull them out of this disaster, MK. Exciting chapter.

Saturday, March 17, 2012 12:39 AM


Yep, Ali and eb, Mal should probably let Jayne handle these kind of situations in the future. Often the simplest solution is the best :)
Thanks for commenting.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 6:22 AM


Certain moments in the BDM are getting a whole new context, mainly the moments of Jayne being a one-man arsenal before the trading station robbery (and Mal's refusal of the grenades). Shoulda learned, Malcolm...shoulda learned ;P


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Angels We Have Heard (Part 2/5)
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The Night Before (revised and reposted)
It's the night before Christmas and Jayne is having spiritual problems. Literally.

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Mal drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly, closing his eyes for a moment. "Gorram preacher," he muttered.

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Kaylee comes clean and River goes for a swim.

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The captain dances, Inara's feeling out the new girl and the first secret is revealed.

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Zoë and Inara have a heart-to-heart, and Mal discovers more shades of grey.