THE DEVIL'S CRADLE: 2. "Nothing Gained"
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Jayne finds out something about the people who staged the ambush. Meanwhile, River is having nightmares whilst wide awake."


TITLE: "NOTHING GAINED" SERIES: THE DEVIL's CRADLE CHAPTER: 2. Sequel to "NOTHING VENTURED" FANDOM: "FIREFLY" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL PAIRING: Zoe/Wash RATING: PG-13 SUMMARY: "Jayne finds out something about the people who staged the ambush. Meanwhile, River is having nightmares whilst wide awake."


A "Firefly" Story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Her fear was delicious. A taste he savoured while slowly exploring what was left. She trembled, a sorry heap of humanity praying for death but he had other plans. Would not give her that avenue of escape until he had finished with her. Like a cup of fine wine he wanted to take his time, sip not guzzle. She trembled beneath his touch though his fingers hovered over the top of her head and did not connect flesh to flesh. Within, her thoughts were no longer her own, privacy a screen that had been decimated by the merest expression of his will.

"You fear me as well you should."

Her trembling increased. Butterfly hands knew not where to rest, the creeping sensation in her brain driving her to the edge of despair and hovering there. Unable to hide, to run away, to fight him. He was smoke and mirrors, she was a mind laid to waste yet left living and breathing to witness the infinite delicacy of her own violation. Why did the *tamade hundan* have to drag this out? What sick perversion drove him?

He murmured softly. Words not spoken but dropped into the aching chasm of her mind where every thought touched a live wire and hurt her soul deep.

She was losing weight but he would fix that. Starvation was not an option unless he sanctioned it. Every breath she took was by his command. A slow smile framed her consciousness and terrified her for it wore his face, dwarfing every emotion and thought inside her head. How he did that she did not know.

His thought slid softly through the damaged landscape of her mind.

If she could have willed her heart to stop to deny him she would have done so but she was powerless and the fashion of even the idea of resistance was beyond her. He rifled through her thoughts and memories at leisure, touching a chord here and there and absorbing the melody of whatever attracted his attention. No detail was lost to him, no clue overlooked. When at last he was satisfied he let her rest. For now. The illusion was his gift to her.

* * * * *

The Captain's look was grim, a tightness around the eyes. Tension fairly thrumming off him though appearing outwardly calm and in control. "Who are they, Jayne?"

"Most are just mercenaries but not all." The big man paused, his look grave as a heart attack. "Four of 'em's Triads, Mal."

He paled. "You sure?"

"Yeah. Three 49s an' a 426."

Mal looked at Zoe but she shook her head, the numbers meant nothing to her either. He frowned at his mercenary, preferring clarity to knowing how smart he was. "*Shenme*?"

"Triads use numeric codes to designate rank. The 49s are the foot soldiers, Cap. Ordinary Triad members, one rung up from the uniniated."

"And the... what the good gorram did you call him?"

"The 462?"

The Captain nodded.

"He's 'Red Pole'. The Enforcer." As mighty impressed as the Captain was it was somewhat unsettling to find that Jayne knew so much about the inner workings of the Triads. Kind'a disturbing to think on how he might have come by such information but that would have to be a mystery for another day. "How'd you know his gorram name?"

"His code name, it's a title. Got some weird ones too like the leader is known as the Dragon Head or Mountain Master."

"He got a number too?"

"Yeah. The Mountain Master is 489."

Zoe couldn't quite wrap her head around what she was hearing, as much because of the source as the content. "How do you know so much about them, Jayne?"

"As a mercenary you mix with all sorts, *dong ma*? That means you also have to know who 'not' to mix with. What lines you can't afford to cross."

The Captain was a mite mystified. "How d'you figure out who was a gorram foot soldier an' who was the Enforcer?"

"You know them tattoos they wear?"

Mal and Zoe nodded.

"They ain't just for show. The triangle represents the Triad, the number inside is the rank. It's how they recognise each other an' their place in the organisation.""

Something was nagging at Zoe, making her uneasy. "You said you know so much about them because as a mercenary you have to know who not to mix with, so how come they were workin' with mercenaries, Jayne?"

The Captain had a bad feeling that he was not going to like the answer.

"It means some real heavy *goushi* is goin' down. Don't know what but for some reason it has to do with River."

Zoe looked at Mal. "You think someone hired the Triad an' mercenaries to work together to snatch River, sir?"

"Looks like."

She gave him a puzzled look, something didn't quite gel. "But why?"

Jayne huffed, his patience wearing thinner the more he thought on it. "'Cause she's a gorram Reader, that's why!"

They gave him blank looks. Jayne hated having to spell it out to them but they needed to know. Whatever irritations the girl set off in him paled into insignificance when weighed against any threat of harm to her. Not that he would ever own up to as much. She was crew now, same as him, and that made him feel protective if only by association. Plus, he didn't want the Captain venting him into the atmo.

"You got any idea what a powerful Triad could do if they got their hands on a ruttin' Reader?"

It was almost more than Mal could bear to think on but he knew they had to solve the why in order to get to the who and the where. "An' if they were hired, these mercenaries, maybehaps they don't know what River is. Could be the Triad wants to keep that information to their own selves."

The look Jayne gave the Captain was not reassuring. In fact the whole conversation was unsettling in the extreme. "Best pray that's the case, Cap."

"*Weishenme*? What ain't you sayin', Jayne? Is there more?"

"There's always more, Mal. What I can't figure is why put the two together - mercenaries an' Triads."

A light went on in Zoe's brainpan. "They're expendable." She paused and fixed both men with a steely look. "Think about it. If the Triad is after River why would they use mercenaries as well as their own?"

Mal nodded. "You're thinkin' canon fodder."

"Would explain it, sir. Maybe they sent some Triad members along to make sure the mercenaries did their job but didn't grab the prize for themselves."

It was late, they were all tired but none of them believed they would be getting much sleep that night. Zoe was still puzzling over why the Triad would be interested in River, Reader or not. It wasn't their usual area of interest after all. She caught a flicker of something on her Captain's face. "You thinkin' Alliance, sir?"

He shook his head. "*Bu qu*, Blue Sun." At the looks on Zoe and Jayne's faces he explained. "We know they got their fingers in every gorram pie, why not this one?"

Jayne shook his head. "Triads won't deal with 'em."

"That was then this is now, Jayne."

That piqued Zoe's interest. "What changed? Why would they deal with them now when they wouldn't before?"

"Mayhap they don't know who they're dealin' with, Zoe, but I can tell you this. Unless we figure it out we could have another gorram War on our hands. One that'll make the War of Independence look like the warm up act."

At the look of stunned disbelief on their faces he gave a bitter laugh only there was no humour in it.

"Think about it. Triads fighting over gifted folk, wantin' to use an' control 'em in their criminal activities. Blue Sun an' the Alliance fightin' to keep their hands on 'em an' in the middle of the mess a whole passel of mercenaries for hire on both sides killin' anyone stickin' their noses outta their gorram doors. Not nobody knowin' who's on whose side."

For a long time none of them spoke, each grateful to be having this very disturbing conversation in the cargo hold away from the rest of the ship's crew. Bad enough they had to think these things, worst still to share the nightmare with everyone else. So far it was all speculation but it made a frightening kind of sense. Zoe watched Jayne turn his head and spit out the plug of tobacco he had been chewing then looked sideways at her Captain and oldest friend. "We could just walk away, sir. After all, it's not our fight."

She could see the regret in his eyes, the look of a man who knew the responsibilty and weight of trying to do the right thing. It was why she followed him but not why he was her friend. Some ties bound a person soul deep. He was the Captain, the decision as always would be his and she would stand by him. The sorry was in his voice but there was an underlying steel there as well. "Wish we could but they know us now. Targeted River. I may not know as much about Triads as Jayne but I know this. If there's somethin' they're wantin' ain't nothin' gonna stop 'em keep comin' 'til they get it. Least now we know what we're up against."

Zoe didn't look quite convinced. Her voice was quiet but clear. "We do?"

The Captain straightened and Zoe automatically stiffened her back as well. "We got one lead we ain't followed yet."


Mal nodded. "Yeah, an' we need to find him before he finds us."

Jayne looked as far from happy as it was possible to get. "That's just askin' for trouble, Mal! We need to get as far away from him as possible an' goin' back to Anaeron is us goin' in the wrong gorram direction."

"Still got cargo to deliver, Jayne. We do the job, get paid."

"Yeah, well ya can't get paid if you're dead."

The grin he gave his mercenary was almost feral. "Then best teach that lesson to Burke. We can't stick our heads in the gorram sand, Jayne. Temptin' as that might be they know about River, know about us an' Serenity an' with the Triads involved this ain't gonna go away. No, we need to end this before every low life *liumang* comes gunnin' for us, *dong ma*?"

Jayne Cobb didn't like it but he knew Mal was right.

* * * * *

She was having nightmares only River had not gone to sleep. Couldn't bear to close her eyes because of a nameless fear crouching in the back of her mind. Stealthy. Waiting. A nightmare in hiding. Her whimper was soft but loud enough to bring Simon. He was in his sleep pants, hair touseled and bare chested. River was too distraught to feel guilty for disturbing his sleep, hardly aware of anything but a building sense of desperation. Simon slid the tatami door open and stepped inside, his feet bare on the cold floor but not seeming to notice, all his attention on his sister's huddled form. River was not in bed but sitting on the floor next to it, her body curled in on itself as she trembled in her thin dress.

"River, *mei mei, shenme shi?*"

Her eyes were large reflecting pools that trapped him in her misery. Slowly she realised who it was but the knowledge barely calmed her. "The hungry silence consumes my soul, Simon, one bite at a time."

"Ssssh, I'm here River. It's going to be alright."

She shook her head and seemed to get more distressed not less. "*Ni bu dong*, Simon! There's nowhere to hide."

"Hide from what?"

"Searching, searching, always looking. Eyes in every corner, we aren't safe!"

"Who's searching?"

River's eyes seemed to lose focus making Simon's heart quail. He hated this, thought she was getting better. His arms carefully cradled her, alarmed by how cold she was. With one arm around her shoulders he reached for a blanket and dragged it off the bed, quickly wrapping it around her then hugging her to his chest. Some coherence came into her voice but none of it made any sense to him. "They change their names, walk paths no one can follow. And now they're on the hunt, Simon."

"*Shei*? Who's on the hunt?"

"The monsters have woken. They find us one by one, one by one, two by two..."

It was worse than Simon thought. He needed to get her a smoother, help his sister to sleep. The rest would do her good, take away the nightmare. As if picking up his thought River's hand shot out and caught his, her grip firm as if afraid to let go.

"She isn't crazy, Simon, and they aren't nightmares if they're real."

"*Mei mei*, you're safe, you're on Serenity."

"They see into my head." She whispered, the horror of it writ large on her face.

"That's impossible River, you know no one can do that."

A spark of anger and frustration made her push against him. "You don't know them!" She railed.

"*Shei*? You haven't told me who can do these things, River, so how can I hope to understand?"

To his consternation she began to cry, softly then in hitching sobs that tore at his heart until he thought it would break. He felt as if it was his fault, he was a doctor, Top Three Per Cent of his class and he couldn't heal his sister. So he did the little he could do, he rocked her, hushing her quietly and telling her he would always be there for her, that he loved her, that truly there was nothing to fear, he would not leave her. None of them would. But Simon didn't understand and River didn't know how to explain to him that she wasn't the one in danger.

* * * * *

Anaeron was an industrial world. Most of its' wealth made from mining. The soil though was nutrient poor, much of it little more than sand and dust. Years ago, when planet wide terraforming had been deemed too costly several huge geodesic domes had been set up instead and soil had been shipped from New Holland. Surface water was scarce but there were deep artesian wells which were tapped and used to keep the biosystems watered. Crops were raised and living conditions improved for those hardy souls who settled there. Wasn't long before the shanty towns became centers of commerce and merchants moved in bringing the gambling houses and distilleries in their wake. Folk living and breathing the red dust drank their throats dry to clear it. Trade was booming, longevity was not. For the dust got into the lungs, carried microscopic parasitic spores native to Anaeron, and before long everyone living both above and below ground had lungs riddled with them. There was no cure. Visitors and residents alike now wore filter masks and transports willing to pick up or deliver to the colony commanded a high premium which was why Malcolm Reynolds was determined to complete delivery. Couldn't afford not to. They would land but didn't have to kiss the ground. Fact was, he would have preferred not having to land at all.

"Still think we should find another way, sir."

He was grateful Zoe had waited to get him on his own before making the comment. "An' if there was another way I'd take it."

"What about DeSouza?"

They were at the top of the metal staircase to the cargo bay where Jayne and Shepherd Book were getting the cargo ready.

"He's on Richmond."

"Was. Heard tell he was finishin' a run to New Holland."

He paused as he began his descent and raised an eyebrow. That meant she'd been on the cortex. "Did ya now?" She resisted the urge to feel guilty. After all, who could be trusted to have his back if not her? "*Qu*, so he'll be comin' out empty, sir. No work to speak off 'til he returns to Persephone."

"An' your plan would be?" "Contact him, meet him on New Holland before he sets out for the return leg. Get him to finish the delivery. He contacts us when it's done, we let Badger know, get paid, everybody's happy."

"Except it cuts into our profit." They'll be watchin' for us, sir. No one will think twice to look at DeSouza."

"Unless they got spies on New Holland."


"Can't say I ain't tempted, Zoe, but if a Triad is involved they're gonna flag us when we do the meet an' greet with DeSouza. Won't take much for them to adjust their plans to fit the change in ours, *dong ma*?"

"It would buy us valuable time, sir."

He stared at her. Couldn't deny the notion was mighty tempting. "Before we decide anythin' maybehaps we should check we got fuel enough for a detour. Not that I'm sayin' we'll do it, just. Don't hurt to consider our options."

Zoe nodded and stepped back onto the catwalk, wanting to get to the bridge and have Wash do the math before the Captain could change his mind. Jayne's voice sailed up to Mal from the cargo bay. He didn't sound too happy.

"You intend on helpin' any time soon?"

Book hid a little smirk. The Captain shook himself out of his reverie and hurried down the stairs quickly joining them. "I 'am' the Cap'n you know Jayne." He growled gumpily.

"Yeah, well, crates don't move theirselves an' they's heavy."

The Captain didn't say anything else but got to work helping Jayne with one of the larger heavier crates. A thoughtful look crossed Book's face. Once the cargo was settled ready for despatch, Jayne said he was going to get something to drink and stomped off. Book turned to Mal, his deep rich voice deliberately low, intended to carry only to the Captain's ears. Sometimes it was a mite unsettling how much the Preacher intuited without being told.

"*Wenti*" "What makes you say that, Shepherd?"

He did not reply right away but watched the Captain for a minute. "They say a problem shared is a problem halved."

The Captain forced a smile but Book wasn't fooled. "I'll be sure to remember that next time one comes up."

* * * * *

She watched her screen avidly. Eyes still sharp, missing nothing. Mind as bright as a shiny button even in advancing years. To look at her you would think she was in her sixites not late seventies pushing on eighty. Her hair was carefully coiffed and arranged on the top of her head, the golden tints and highlights making the most of advancing years and dying pigment. She looked regal not old, her wisdom sharpened on years of cunning and deft mental footwork. The things she knew could get many senior members of Parliament imprisoned for life and even some of the highest in the judicial circle trembled beneath her austere visage. This lady was not one to take lightly or to ignore. When she rang she was always answered.

To her eyes the man was impossibly young but on closer inspection his eyes held the steady wisdom that belied his years. Yes. This one would do nicely. "Ah, my lady, to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?" Her smile warmed only the surface of her face, the spark of her intellect honed to the matter at hand. The old fashioned courtesy did not impress her but at least it did not offend. He listened in curious silence, hiding his reaction well. If the man was surprised at her knowledge or request it did not show. "It will cost a considerable sum."

The woman nodded. Of course it would, anything less would not be worth her attention let alone the risk. Ah, but the beauty of it was that none of it would be traced back to her. The ring was almost complete. The circle would not be broken. "Gold as agreed."

Matthew James Wong gave a slight bow. As the screen faded to black she allowed herself a true smile. Age did not diminish her and when at last she grinned, the points of her teeth were sharp. Like a predator's.

* * * * *

Kaylee was upset. It had been months since River had taken such a bad turn for the worse. Simon was baffled as to the cause and tried his best to reassure his sister that she had nothing to worry about. They heard the Captain's heavy tread before they saw him, River's head was hanging down, her matted hair obscuring her face. As the Captain stepped into the infirmary his eyes alighted first on Kaylee, who he had been looking for, then quickly flicked over to where River sat on the infirmary bed, her thin legs hanging over the side, shoulders slumped, head down. The picture of utter dejection.

"*Shenme shi?*"

The doctor turned his head, not happy to see the Captain but not able to say as much. He was the Captain and sooner or later he would have to explain about River. He had just hoped to get her settled with a smoother first. He turned back to his task of filling the syringe. "I'm just giving River a smoother, Captain."

His sister raised her head and Simon froze but her eyes were not fixed on him. They looked in mute appeal to Serenity's Captain. "You have to tell him, he won't listen."

Mal frowned. "Who?"


Simon sighed. "River's having nightmares, Captain. I was just going to give her a smoother to settle her down."

River turned angry eyes on her brother, the hurt closer to the surface than the anger. "Not nightmares, I wasn't sleeping!" She looked back at the Captain, her look steady and unsettlingly sane. "*Ni zhidao*."

"River, best you start from the beginnin', *dong ma*? In the meantime Kaylee, need you in the engine room *mashang*."

Serenity's mechanic opened her mouth to protest then closed it again. There was nothing she could do for her friend. With a nod she forced a smile, not so much for him but for River. The smile saying everything was going to be alright. "On my way, Cap'n."

River was watching the Captain, her mood immediately calming. It always amazed Simon that Mal could have that effect on his sister when even his best efforts often made her more erratic not less. He felt his sister's eyes on him and an absurd sense of guilt assailed him. Her eyes were wide luminious pools in the bright lights of the infirmary, as if she knew everything which was of course impossible.

"Because you don't listen, Simon." She said quietly.

"I do, *mei mei*, it's just - I don't understand."

She nodded. Knew. Didn't want to hurt him but while her brother heard the words he as quickly dismissed them, gave no weight to what she tried to say, as if they were no part of his vocabulary. When the Captain listened he paid attention, read between the lines and as often as not connected the dots to the picture she was trying to draw. Why couldn't Simon? Was it because they were too close or was his intellect making him over think everything? Demanding meaning before understanding and ignoring gut instinct? She realised that the Captain was speaking and turned her attention back to him. Deliberately recalling her thoughts so she could tell him what had spooked her so badly.

Malcolm Reynolds did not laugh or dismiss her concerns. If anything his worry deepened, eyes serious and fixed upon her pale face. "You got any notion on who could be doin' this?"

She shook her head. "No names, no pack drill."

So, lifting army phrases out of his brainpan but it worked. Made their understanding easier. He almost smiled, she was a clever little witch but she was their witch. "What can you tell me about it? Was it one mind or several?"

River hadn't considered that possibility but did so now, her brow creasing in concentration while one wary eye watched her brother. She didn't relax even when he gave a tiny defeated sigh and put the syringe back on the instrument tray. Simon was too quick by half to turn to chemicals to solve those things he could not understand. River reviewed everything until her memory crystalised into a central point of focus. "One. Singular. Powerful. A lighthouse."

He caught her meaning. "You sayin' he's searchin'?"

River beamed at the Captain. Simon felt even more frustrated. To him the conversation was gibberish yet the two of them seemed to be egging each other on in the crazy department. How in the wide 'verse could the Captain possibly know what his sister meant when he could barely follow a tenth of the words that spilled out of her mouth? Mal turned his head and looked at Simon and for a split second he wondered if the man was a Reader too. But no, that was impossible.

"Maybehaps I'm crazy too."

Jayne Cobb guffawed in the background, no one had noticed him follow the Captain. River glared at Jayne then turned her attention back to the Captain.

"Need you to tell me everything you remember, *dong ma*? Don't matter how foolish or insignificant it might seem."

She nodded. By the time River had finished several anxious faces exchanged worried looks. Simon frowned at the expression of enlightenment on the Captain's face.


"Crazy as this may sound Simon, I think whoever is tryin' to get their hands on your sister has been tryin' to reach out to her with his gorram mind."

The doctor's mouth dropped open, ready to protest, but the Captain raised a hand.

"Ain't finished yet. This ain't about you believin'. Fact is you still can't accept River is a Reader despite all the evidence an' somesuch. Seen many crazy things in my time, doc, things that make your sister look saner than any of 'em."

"It was just a nightmare..." Simon protested weakly. Even to his own ears the explanation seemed no explanation at all.

"I wasn't asleep, Simon."

The Captain tried to put it into words Simon could accept if not understand. Knew the boy would never agree because he did not want it to be true just needed him to be open to the possibility. That was a door worth opening a crack. "Simon, sometimes you gotta suspend disbelief if you wanna find the Truth."

His eyes widened. "That's *shenjingbing*."

"It is what it is an' you refusin' to even see the possibility don't make it untrue just unpalatable. You want facts Simon, I'll give you facts. Someone IS after your sister or do you think that ambush was a gorram dream too?"

For a moment Simon looked trapped but realised the Captain was right. At least with that last part. "*Bu qu*, I know what happened, of course I do." "Then don't be closin' your mind to possibilities beyond your experience however crazy they may sound. We need open eyes as well as minds, folks we're up against."

That last comment caught Simon's attention and his look sharpened like a laser on the Captain's face. A certainty growing inside him as he looked at the man. "You know who's after my sister." It was not a question.

"Got a notion or two but don't know who's behind it. Aim to find out though."

There was something chilling about that prospect. "Is that wise, Captain?"

Mal wanted to laugh but Simon was so serious. Boy was strung tighter than cat gut in a gorram bow from Earth-that-was. "You seen the life we lead, you think any of this wise Top Three Per Cent?"

The words were softly spoken as if not intended to hurt but they were arrows that hit home all the same. Simon had no answer to that especially as he and his sister had chosen to be a part of that life too. It still confused him at times but gradually the confines of his very elite education and privileged upbringing were being pushed back giving him a new perspective of the 'verse that was as chaotic as it was strangely compelling. Maybe he was the crazy one. Or maybe, just maybe, he had been looking for sanity in a 'verse devoid of the trappings of true civilisation. In the Core people played at it, acted as if their very existenece meant something more than that of the common man living out on the Rim or beyond the reaches of the almighty Aliance. Once that thought had comforted him, now it terrified him. For if the 'verse were turned upside down where did that leave him and what did it mean for River? He took a slow swallow, tried to steady the beat of his heart and calm down the fears multiplying in his head. He need clarity not confusion.

"What happens now?"

* * * * *


*tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *shenme* = what? *dong ma* = understand? *goushi* = crap/dog shit *weishenme* = why? *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *liumang* = bastard/asshole/gangster/criminal *mei mei* = little sister *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *shei* = who *qu* = yes (lit. go) *wenti* = problem *ni zhidao* = you know *mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately *shenjingbing* = crazy


Wednesday, April 4, 2012 8:38 AM


Very cool chapter. Loved the Mal/River gibberish talk that both perfectly understood.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 12:34 PM


Glad you loved the Mal/River gibberish talk Nutluck, those two so often seem to tap into the same wavelength which is shiny. Thanks for the feedback, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 5:51 PM


I have been meaning to ask you. Are all of your stories more or less connected or are they all stand alone? I have read so many I get them mixed up in my head. So maybe it is obvious one way or the other if I would reread them.

Thursday, April 5, 2012 12:15 AM


Most of the stories have a shared set of storythreads running through them but some are standalone. This series takes place after "Heart of Gold" but before the Big Damn Movie. The reason all my multichapter stories are given a series title and numbered is to make navigation easier for the people reading. You will also notice in some series there are semi-recurring characters so they will follow the timeline and thread of some other series that link those characters. Hope that helps, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Thursday, April 5, 2012 12:33 PM


oh man, does somebody new have Mal in their crosshairs? I was trying to think who could've resurfaced but you, you bloody clever girl, you've dreamed up someone new, haven't you? got me, hook, line and sinker, already anticipating the next chapter, thank you, AliD

Friday, April 6, 2012 2:17 AM


That would be telling, Malsdoxy, but poor Mal - someone 'always' seems to have our heroic Captain in their gorram crosshairs. Glad you are hooked, lots more to come. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, April 9, 2012 8:35 PM


Ooh, interesting developments. These Triad folks sound very dangerous. I especially liked the scene with River, Mal and Simon at the end. Just love how Mal is able to find meaning in River's words while Simon hears but doesn't understand. Loved watching those three characters interact; very well done.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 1:47 AM


Glad you are enjoying the story as it unfolds, Ebfiddler. Yep, Triads are always scary and writing dialogue for River, Mal and Simon is always a joy. Thanks for the shiny comments, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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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.