Family (Part 13/14)
Monday, March 19, 2012

Rescues, executions, guilt trips, burials and news.


The posse was at least fifty men strong, and they barged into the yard on horses and hovercrafts, weapons a-blazing. They weren't targeting the house but the thugs attacking it, and they soon had them surrounded and hurdled together like sheep. Those who tried to escape were pursued and easily apprehended, those who were stupid enough to fight back were efficiently killed or wounded. The whole thing was over in a matter of minutes, and then the sounds of battle died away.

Mal had been watching through the windows, and now he staggered to his feet, gently swatting at Simon's fussing hands, and made his way towards the door. Before he could reach it though, someone called out from the other side. "Don't shoot, we're friends!"

"Same to you," Mal shouted back, but didn't lower his gun.

"Radiant, you and yours alright?" the person at the other side of the door continued.

Radiant finally let go of Mattie's arm, then rose and straightened out her clothes before making her way to the door. Mal and Zoë followed her, at least pretending to be ready for more trouble, but when she unlocked and opened it, it was clear that the fight was indeed over. She stepped outside, acknowledging the man who'd called for her with a nod. He looked relieved to see her, albeit a little ashamed.

Before neither could speak a word, Jayne came rushing down the stairs. "Gorramit!" he yelled, barging his way out of the door, pushing away both Mal and Zoë in the process. "Don' let him get away!"

"He won't get far," the man insisted. "He's got nowhere to run."

Jo came too; she was limping a little and clutching her side with a bloodstained hand, but her eyes were at least as determined as her brother's and she bore them into the men. "'Bout time you grew a backbone," she said, but the tone in her voice told them she wasn't totally ungrateful for their intervention.

Mal leaned against the doorframe, feeling even dizzier now. "You here on behalf of the law?" he muttered.

"No, mister, we're simple factory workers," the leader replied. "Here to honor Matthew Cobb's memory. He meant a lot to us, we couldn't let MacHaig slaughter his family." He turned back towards Radiant. "We headed out as soon as we heard. We wish we'd come sooner."

"So do I," Radiant replied. "But you came in time to save most of us. Thank you." Her gaze flickered around a little and came to a rest on her daughter. "Jo, you're hurt!"

"I'm fine," Jo shrugged, but her mother was already trying to pry her hand away to inspect the injury herself.

Just then some commotion started to spread among the people, there was some hooting and some shouts, and then the crowd split up in the middle to reveal four men pulling MacHaig towards the house. He was still struggling against their grip, although he must have known it was a futile attempt.

"You really think we'd let you get away with killin' babies?" one of the men snarled at him as they forced him to his knees. "Jayne, he's all yours."

Everybody had found their way out unto the porch by now, and Jayne reclaimed his gun from Mattie and stomped determinedly towards his kneeling enemy. Mal did nothing to intervene; he'd promised Jayne he wouldn't stand in his way when the time was right. Nor did he really want to.

The gun cocked loudly and Jayne aimed the barrel at MacHaig's head. The older man glanced up at him; despite his plight, his eyes were still venomous and full of loathing. But so were Jayne's. "I wanna hear you say it!" he demanded.

"Say what?" MacHaig spat back.

"That you killed my father."

MacHaig chuckled bitterly. "And why would I grant you that satisfaction, boy?" he snarled. "You'll kill me anyhow."

"Oh you bet," Jayne replied. "But you come clean and I'll put a bullet in your brainpan. And if you don't, I'll just string you up in the woods and let the dogs have ya. I'll have Jo use you as bait."

"They like live bait," Jo coolly chipped in.

MacHaig threw her a short glance, then turned his attention back to Jayne, still scowling. And not talking.

"Going once," Jayne said and lowered the gun. "Twice…"

"Alright," MacHaig hissed through clenched teeth. "I did it." He straightened his back and spoke loudly, so that everybody heard him. As if he was proud. "I killed Matthew Cobb."

For a couple of seconds everybody was dead quiet. Then Jayne wordlessly took aim and pulled the trigger. And with the sound of the shot still echoing in the air, Mal glanced over at Radiant. Her face showed no satisfaction as her husband's killer's dead body slumped to the ground, only relief.

Black spots began to flicker in front of his eyes again, the 'verse was spinning, he heard Zoë call out his name, and –


He woke up on the living room sofa. For a few moments he was a little confounded as to where he was, then everything came rushing back to him and it felt like a fist in his gut. He glanced around. His shoulder was neatly bandaged and his right arm tied to his chest in a sling. Pieces of glass still covered the floor and somebody had covered the windows with tarp that made flapping sounds in the cool breeze.

Aside from himself Zoë was the only one there. She stood with her back against him, her arms crossed in front of her, silently staring through the open kitchen door. Mal followed her gaze and caught sight of Radiant tending to Obadiah's body.

Another fist in the gut.

As he moved about a little, trying to get a better view of his surroundings, Zoë heard it and turned around to face him. "Captain," she greeted him.

"How long was I out?" he asked.

"Not more'n an hour or so." She let her arms drop. "Everything's fine. The townspeople have gotten the fire under control; Jayne, Wash and Kaylee are helping out. Fergus took his family home, River, Mattie and Jo are upstairs resting and Simon's tending to the wounded."

With his free, uninjured arm he pushed himself up into a sitting position, waited a second to regain his balance and then swung his legs over the edge of the couch. "Come on, Zo'," he said, staring at his hand. "Go ahead and say it."


He looked up at her. "You're my first mate. It's your duty to question my decisions."

"Alright." She grabbed a chair and sat down in front of him, her brown eyes looking intently into his. "Was this really your plan? Provoking MacHaig into doing somethin' stupid so the townspeople would finally get the guts to rally against him?"

"Well, it didn't play out exactly they way I'd planned it," he slowly admitted.

"The hell it didn't! It got Obadiah Cobb killed. And if those people hadn't showed up when they did, we'd all be screwed. That includes two children we have no reason to believe they'd spare." Her eyes softened a little. "But you already know all this, and you don't need me hammerin' it into you."

When he didn't reply, she reached out a hand to touch his arm. "I don't know what got into you, Mal. You're always the one telling us not to rely on luck."

"I don't know either," he mumbled. "All I know is I messed up."

She rose. "You try and play odds like that again, I'll lead the mutiny against you." It was a genuine warning, he knew that, but he could still hear the love and concern hidden in it. She nodded curtly, then left him to join Radiant in the kitchen.

"I sincerely hope you do," Mal muttered to himself.


They buried Obadiah the next day, next to his brother in the garden. It was a simple ceremony; there was no preacher, only a guy reading an appropriate passage from the Bible, and for some reason it made Mal really miss Shepherd Book. Then the pipes were played and a hymn was sung, before Jayne and Fergus silently but efficiently filled the grave with dirt. And that was that.

Kaylee had cried her eyes out; she'd grown to be quite fond of the man during time they'd spent here. Radiant and Jude had cried too, even Jo a little. Mattie had only watched with a solemn look on his face, but afterwards he'd been so exhausted that Jayne had had to carry him back to the house. The whole thing had been torturous, and as they retreated to the porch, Mal wished he was lightyears away.

Fergus reached out his hand to Jayne and offered up the silver coat of arms he'd taken off Obadiah's plaid. "I suppose you're head of the Cobb clan now," he said.

Jayne didn't take it right away, but after a long silent beat he eventually did and held it up to his face to study it more closely. He sighed. "Come on, Ferg," he said. "We all know that's Jo."

He turned towards his sister and held out the emblem, passing it on to her. She only stared at it, then at him, seemingly uncertain of what he was playing at. He saw her hesitation. "This ain't about me runnin' away from my responsibilities no more," he assured her. "This is about how you've pulled my job for years. It's only fair you should have it."

"Damn straight," she replied and took it.

Wash gazed out over the field in front of them, frowning a little. "We still don't know why MacHaig wanted this land so badly," he pointed out.

"Doesn't matter now," Radiant muttered.

Simon cleared his throat. "Actually, I think I might have the answer."

Everybody spun around to face him. "You do?" Jayne growled, a little disbelievingly.

"Yes. That day we went into town, Kaylee and I, to… well… you know, I swung by the city hall. I hacked into their computer and…"

"You hacked their computer?" Wash wide-eyed interrupted.

Simon looked a little embarrassed. "It wasn't that hard," he said, and as Wash opened his mouth for a follow-up question, he waved him off, "I'll tell you later. Anyways, I downloaded all the information regarding the factory and I've been going through it on my spare time, and…" He pulled out his pad and fumbled a little with it. "This morning I found this."

He turned the screen towards them to reveal some sort of drawing that at first glance didn't make much sense to anyone. "Whassat?" Jayne asked.

"Blue prints. For the New Inverness docks."

"New Inverness ain't got no docks," Jo said.

"Not yet," Simon nodded. "These are, as I mentioned, only the blueprints of the docks MacHaig was opting to build. Seems he had grand plans for the factory; wanted to expand it, maybe start exporting off-world. And for that you need a landing strip for ships. Look," he turned the screen towards Radiant, pushed a button and a map appeared on it, "he was planning to put it right here on your property."

A moment of stunned silence fell upon them. Then Zoë spoke, "Makes sense. This is the perfect spot. It's close to the river, it's relatively flat and hardly any trees need cuttin'."

"Precisely," Simon said. "He'd save a lot of time and money building it here. Especially if he could get your land practically for free."

Radiant shook her head. "This is what my husband died for?"

"Well, that too," Simon replied. "But I think the theory Jo offered the other day played a part as well. Matthew was fighting for workers' rights, for better wages, health plans and so on, and he had followers, a lot of them. This way MacHaig got rid of a troublesome employee and made sure you lost your income, increasing the chances of you going bankrupt."

Radiant kept her eyes intently on the map for another moment or two, then she straightened her back and crossed her arms in front of her. "Well, I'll tell you this, there ain't never gonna be no landin' strip on my land!" she hissed, and then turned towards Mal, adding, "'Cept for you. You're welcome to park your boat here whenever you want."

Mal wondered if she knew how those words cut into his very soul.

Simon smiled a little. "I also have some good news." He changed the screen again and showed them a chart that probably meant something to him. "I have the results from the blood tests. Jude's not a carrier of the Anson gene, which means her children aren't either."

Jude and Fergus both sighed with relief and embraced each other. "Thank you," Fergus told Simon over his wife's shoulder.

"Now, that is good news," Radiant smiled.

"You're clean too, Jayne," Simon continued but then he frowned a little. "But Jo has it, I'm afraid."

Jo only shrugged. "Well, I wasn't plannin' on havin' kids anyway," she said, smiling a little. "That gorram gene dies with me."

"Thank you," Radiant offered again. "For everything. To all of you."

Mal couldn't stand it anymore.

He walked away.




Monday, March 19, 2012 9:16 AM


The funeral was a good touch of writing, as was Zoe calling Mal out and his continuing guilt over his plan not working out as well as he'd wanted.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 8:13 AM


Loved this chapter. Thank god the towns people came to help.

I'm glad that Jayne was the one to shoot him...

Can't wait for another chapter:)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 1:43 PM


And so ends the loathsome MacHaig. Actually, I'm amazed he got away with his bullying for so long. I'm glad the factory workers finally stood up to him, and surely it was only just in time for the Cobbs and the crew. And not in time at all for Obadiah. Jayne's passing of the crest to Jo was a fine moment. Liked the scene between Mal and Zoe. Mal's plan was not so very brilliant this time, although I imagine parts of it went as planned.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 2:15 PM


I really liked that MacHaig got ended by Jayne after admitting he killed his daddy. Very old testament but fitting. Also how Zoe was so in character with putting Mal right when he already knew it but needed it saying. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, November 24, 2012 6:31 AM


Mal is a strange duck...he's far from stupid and can come up with plans rather well, it's just that Mal is getting too reliant on Hail Mary plans that are resource-intensive but will pay off big if things work out right. Didn't pay off right this time and he's really starting to doubt his ability to command because he can't see not taking a higher road that is morally better but reality poor :S

Fantastic climax to the story, MarKomi!


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Angels We Have Heard (Part 5/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 4/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 3/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 2/5)
Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 1/5)
Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

The Night Before (revised and reposted)
It's the night before Christmas and Jayne is having spiritual problems. Literally.

Book of Secrets (Part 8)
Mal drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly, closing his eyes for a moment. "Gorram preacher," he muttered.

Book of Secrets (Part 7)
Kaylee comes clean and River goes for a swim.

Book of Secrets (Part 6)
The captain dances, Inara's feeling out the new girl and the first secret is revealed.

Book of Secrets (Part 5)
Zoë and Inara have a heart-to-heart, and Mal discovers more shades of grey.