THE DEVIL'S CRADLE: 4. "Things Unspoken"
Friday, April 20, 2012

Though her eyes were closed it was as if every nerve ending knew that an even greater danger had arrived. Greater than what? Frantically she tried to remember.


TITLE: "THINGS UNSPOKEN" SERIES: THE DEVIL'S CRADLE CHAPTER: 4. Sequel to "STRONGER THAN STEEL" FANDOM: "FIREFLY" AUTHOR: Alison M, DOBELL PAIING: Zoe/Wash Kaylee/Simon RATING: R SUMMARY: "Kathleen passes from one hell to another. Meanwhile, Serenity gets re-fueled and Zoe discovers a caveat and addendum not mentioned by the Captain. On Anaeron there is still a cargo needs delivering."


A "Firefly" Story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

'Soon you will go free,little one'

The monster coos, her mind shuddering in mental aftershocks that she has no control over. He lingers as if to savour his handiwork. Knows she does not believe him but that is of little consequence.

'This may hurt but you will feel better soon'

What the *diyu* does he mean by that? Then the pain hits and it robs her of everything except sensation. The one thing she would block if she could he leaves intact. Twisted perverted *chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo*. He does not commune with her again, too busy wiping out all trace of his interference. Her mind a shiny new thing that reflects nightmares while appearing so clean, so innocent. As he works he hums quietly and the action steadies him in a way that normal conversation or interaction cannot. Her name was Kathleen but he gave her another and though she will answer to her given name he can control her with the other. It is neat, precise, and such a simple solution that he revels in its' elegance. Yes, she can go free but only for as far as the tether allows.

* * * * *

Wash shook his head. Partly amused and partly annoyed that their courageous but *shenjingbing* Captain had not told them his plan in full. Even his stern but loyal wife looked less than happy though of course she was not about to say so. Sometimes he wondered what it would take to shake her trust in the man but when his intellect caught up with that little green spark of jealously he really did not want to know. For all his faults, Malcolm Reynolds was a good Captain. A fair if an oft' times autocratic one but his position necessitated his being someone who could make decisions on the fly and do the impossible, often by dint of sheer will power alone. As Captain, Malcolm Reynolds had to make the hard decisions, the ones no one else would want to have to make. The longer Wash knew the man the more crazy he thought Mal was, that and utterly insanely brilliant though that last confession would not leave his lips even on his gorram death bed. Some things his glorious Captain did not need to know. What they were about to do now left a dry dusty taste in his mouth that was too much like ashes for comfort. What was that gorram saying from Earth-that-was? Oh, yeah. The Devil is in the Detail. Details he and Zoe had not known until now.

"I still don't understand why he didn't tell us earlier, *bao bei*."

Her look could have silenced the five thousand but on Wash it was pretty much an afterthought, his mouth already working several steps ahead of his thought processes.

"I can keep a secret, you know I can."

Inwardly, Zoe sighed. She did not want to have this conversation with Wash, with anyone in fact. Only because they were at Ithaca Station did she speak at all, and when she did she was terse and to the point. "We'll discuss this later, *zhangfu*."

That brought him up short. "No, no, how about we talk about this *xianzai*?"

Her expression was frustrated, clearly annoyed and fast losing her very finite store of patience with him. When had that happened? "You really want to go there, Wash? Here and Now?"

Wash blinked at the fierceness unleashed in that quiet but deadly tightly controlled hiss. Suddenly his bitching seemed a mite more life threatening that whatever might be facing the Captain, Jayne and Book down on Anaeron. "*Duibuqi*, what was I thinkin'?" He murmured in his most conciliatory tone.

For a moment his wife just stared at him, making sure nothing else was going to come tumbling out of that mouth of his. Damage control was so much easier when nothing was said. "You just have to learn *xiangxin*."

It was on the tip of his tongue to smart mouth her back but one look at the unamused warning in her eyes and he decided discretion was the better part of valour. Wash gave a tight nod and waited for her to take the lead but Zoe didn't move.

"Stay with the ship."

Wash opened his mouth to protest, sure that the reason was more a punishment for complaining than tactics but her lush full lips had flattened into a line he knew better than to cross. He gave her a quick kiss so he could whisper how much he loved her and wanted her to take care. A ghost of a smile touched those tight lips but vanished too soon. She watched him go back to where Serenity was berthed, all the while taking in the people at the station through her periphery vision. Who was where and doing what. Was anyone taking special note of them? Wash's little outburst had been as unwelcome as it was probably predictable, drawing attention to them that they could ill afford. She should not have thought of taking him with her once Serenity was re-fueled. It was a mistake she would not repeat. Right after she pinned the Captain's ears back for leaving them in the dark. Maybe in hindsight she would agree with him but they were a team. She could not watch his back if she wasn't there, couldn't temper his more outrageous plans if he didn't discuss them with her first. That he was doing both at this most critical of times did not make her happy or good company, even for herself. But she had a job to do and for now that priority trumped all others.

* * * * *

Her body trembled as the ghost ship came in to land. Though her eyes were closed it was as if every nerve ending knew that an even greater danger had arrived. Greater than what? Frantically she tried to remember. To recall the recent past but it was all a muddy blur. Like having a very bad hangover without the pleasure of having been drunk first. Had she hit her head? Was that why the whole 'verse was fuzzy?

Armed men poured off the diminutive vessel. All dressed in grey, the uniforms - such as they were - being a kind of webbing and having a matt finish that did not reflect the light. Probably bullet proof too. The masks were the same colour grey, the weapons small spring loaded devices that dispatched at the flick of a wrist from hiding. These were men who clung to the shadows and made them their own. Eight disembarked in quiet orderly fashion, automatically parting for the hulk of a man emerging from behind their ranks. He wore no uniform, no insignia and no mask. His expression might have been pleasant once before his mind became warped with the creed he had been adopted into. His bald head was bullet shaped and seemed to sit on his massive shoulders as if his neck had sunk under the weight leaving no gap for even a narrow tie. Yet for all his size he was fearsomely agile, his footsteps silent and barely disturbing the dusty ground beneath his feet. He stopped at the huddled form. The prize. Eyes narrowed he lifted his head just a fraction and the men peeled off left and right, conducting a silent but thorough search. They returned empty handed and he was not pleased but the girl. Ah. At least the hunter had remembered to leave his prey.

Without a word spoken he turned and marched back onto the stealth ship, the girl swept up in his wake. The soldiers boarded with quick, practised efficiency and with a quiet hiss the door sealed shut behind them and the vessel took to the wing. Its' black coated surface shimmering as if it was made up of every colour of black and dark grey, confusing the eye and vanishing even as the air around it seemed to warp in an attempt to avoid contact with it. Almost silent. The landing, retrieval and take off had taken less than seven minutes but would cost a lifetime.

* * * * *

"This ain't funny, Mal!"

"You see me laughin'?"

"Thought they was expectin' us? Feels more like a gorram set up."

The Captain seemed oddly calm and considering where they were and the creepy assed reception it both baffled and angered the big man. The Shepherd watched the Captain but said nothing, perhaps sensing something Jayne had not. The Captain indicated for Jayne to steer the mule to the back of the warehouse. It was on the tip of the mercenary's tongue to ask why they were rutting bothering but the Captain put steel into his voice with not an inch of give in it.

"Just do it, Jayne."

Annoyed, Jayne did as he was told and was surprised to find several people waiting for them. All wore the small but efficient filter masks to keep the dust out. They were armed but looking out passed the Captain, Jayne and Book. Mal gave a nod and room was made for them to drive right up to the back of the warehouse which opened seamlessly before them. Jayne's mouth popped open then broke into a shit eating grin. About to say something the Captain was quick to indicate silence. The big man frowned but nodded and took them inside the warehouse. Once safely ensconced inside the huge door rolled shut behind them, sealing as closely as if there had never been an opening there at all.

"That's mighty fine work." Noted Book quietly.

Mal nodded. Jayne was about to jump down from the mule to start unloading but the Captain shook his head. Jayne scowled. "What're we waitin' for?"

"Ain't polite to drop off the cargo before we meet our contact."

Jayne blinked. It wasn't? Since when?

Figures appeared from behind boxes and hover cranes. One peeled off from the rest and walked right up to the mule, his eyes settling unerringly on Malcolm Reynolds' face. "Cap'n Reynolds?"

"The same, an' you would be?"

Book could hear the smile of humour in the man's voice only slightly muffled by the mask as he replied. Possibly even a little bit of approval. "Jerrod Perkins."

"You got my coin?"

The humour was obvious now. "If that's my cargo."

"It is." Then Perkins was laughing and his men moved in to unload the mule, a purpose built hover crane doing the job of four men in a tenth of the time. Jayne cast an envious eye at it. Book leaned close to Jayne's ear. "It wouldn't fit in our cargo bay, Jayne."

"Huh, *kexi*."

Jerrod didn't check the contents of any of the crates but handed the Captain a weighty drawstring leather purse.

"Mind if I count it?"

"Be offended if you didn't."

That brought a raised eyebrow from the Captain. He quickly checked the contents matched the weight and gave a satisfied nod, his features clouding over a mite now that their business was concluded. "Would I be right in assumin' you have problems with folk tryin' to relieve you of your rightful property, Mr Perkins?"

Perkins chuckled. "Called me Jer. I on'y stand on ceremony with fools an' Alliance *hundan*."

"Okay, Jer. Question still stands."

"We got too much activity in that department, Cap'n. Was all smooth as silk for years but then these gangs moved in. Kind'a bewilderin' the manner an' mix of 'em too. Wasn't just normal Tongs but the Triads an' a couple'a those warrin' with each other which left everyone else in the gorram middle. Luckily we're local, *dong ma*? Used to the harsh environment an' keepin' goods sealed from the dust."

Mal nodded. That explained the near hermetic seal on the doors but back entrance delivery? "Do I take it the front door's a dummy?"

"*Bushi* but them as need to go in front-ways don't know our ways, *dong ma*?"

The Captain nodded, understanding. Anyone seeking to get in through the front entrance was not friend but foe and those going around the back would be watched and vetted. Anything suspicious or funny would leave folk dead but not gain them entry. "That's a mighty good system."

"Keeps me an' mine alive an' still tradin'."

There was a pause in conversation then Book quietly cleared his throat drawing Perkins' eye in his direction. "Forgive my asking but we were fired upon as we came into the Warehouse District."

Perkins eyes were bright and shiny but though he gave Book a nod he turned back to the Captain to answer. "Which is why you won't be leavin' the way you came."

Something cold and icy slid down Jayne's back. Gorrammit, this was a set up after all!

"Got an alternative I think you'll like Cap'n."

Puzzled, the Captain wasn't sure what that could be. They were firmly out in the middle of No and Where, with open dusty land between them and Anaeron Docks. How in the nine hells were they supposed to get back without being seen? As if reading his thoughts, Perkins eyes danced with mirth.

"We can get you out by other means, you an' your mule, but it'll cost you."

A hard look crept into the Captain's eyes, just holding the not happy in check until he heard the man out. His voice was deceptively mild, calm, could even say conversational. "You pay us for delivery of your cargo only to take it off us if we wanna leave?"

* * * * *

Simon felt dizzy. He had only meant to show Kaylee a sign of his affection when he kissed her but the girl was done waiting and Simon had made the first move. Pinned as he was, Serenity's doctor found himself getting hot under the collar, his clothes twisting up beneath her busy fingers while she sucked the air out of his lungs. It took a supreme effort to pull his lips from hers.

"Kaylee, anyone could walk in on us!"

Her smile glittered with the heat of passion and genuine amusement. "You seen all of us naked, Simon, why so shy now?"

"We're in the infirmary!"

Laughter bowed her busy lips while she carried on discarding the buttons that would not undo quickly enough. Simon took in a sharp breath, his voice tinged in genuine alarm and rising almost an octave higher. "This is my last good vest!"

"*Fang xin*, ain't nothin' a needle an' thread can't fix."

"K...Kaylee, anyone can see in."

She paused only long enough to grin at him, not at all repentent. "You kept me waitin' this long, Simon Tam, ain't got no call to question the settin'."

"But this room is sterile."

"*Hao*, ain't likely to catch anythin' while we see what fits where."

Before he could protest further the front of his pants came away in her hand, his vest and shirt already hanging open, Kaylee wasting no time bringing her tongue and lips down on his bare chest. He closed his eyes and groaned as she licked a nipple making him tremble, one eye on his face watching his reaction as she slid her free hand lower and lower until he yelped as she closed in on her prize, eyes flying open in alarm. She wanted to laugh so much but her mouth was kind'a full.

"K...K...Kaylee, we should go somewhere p...private..."

He never got another word out and by the time she had finished with him, all the energy had gone out of him. Kaylee had a smug happy look on her flushed face, loving how debauched Simon looked and knowing it was all her own doing. He stared at her with a dazed look. "What have you done to me, Kaylee Frye?"

The words were barely whispered but she heard him and chuckled. Her hand cupping him as he deflated, no longer so much embarrassed as astonished that he had let them make love on the infirmary bed in his once pristine work place. He tried not to think how much cleaning and disinfecting he had ahead of him. Knowing his luck the Captain would return either riddled with bullet holes or slashed to within an inch of his life. With luck he wouldn't have to do emergency surgery on Jayne or Book but he didn't like to rely on luck. With this ship and crew it always seemed to be in short supply. Kaylee gently caressed him and Simon twitched in her hand, deciding turn around was fair play. When he rose up suddenly and twisted Kaylee squealed, surprised by the move and the fact he had any energy left but Simon had always kept fit and now that parts had been awakened that had long been ignored he had some sweet torment to inflict of his own. Kaylee only pretended to struggle, more in order to get comfy beneath him than to push him off but Simon didn't notice. He had his second wind now and more than his need for revenge was aroused.

* * * * *

Her lips were vinegar thin. "Dead?"

"No, my lady, but the wound is serious."

"One shot you say?"

He nodded and she considered. So, Serenity's Captain had a halfway decent crew and at least one who was enough of a sharp shooter to take out her sniper. "Any sign of the ship returning?"

"*Bu qu*, my lady, but it is unlikely to have gone far. Do you wish a search made?"

She shook her head, knowing other eyes would be likewise seeking the Firefly. Sooner or later Serenity would have to return to Anaeron to pick up the Captain. "Do nothing for now, *dong ma*?"

* * * * *

He shook his head. "We ain't robbers, least not from our own or those we take as our own. You're welcome to leave as you came if you'd rather but I ain't gonna guarantee you'll get back in one piece if at all."

"Then why we here?"

Perkins blinked. "*Shenme*?"

"Why have us deliver to a place where we are like to be bushwacked or you part of that, Jer?"

All the warmth and humour was gone now. Book stiffened and felt Jayne do the same. He did not like the odds if they had to try to shoot themselves out of this very secure warehouse.

"Ain't behind it or toleratin' it but as quick as we take out their gorram snipers they send more. Figure better to outsmart 'em than try to out-gun 'em, *dong ma*?"

For a moment no one spoke, the Captain taking the measure of the man. "An' your very fine solution would be?"

"Badger said you were a suspicious *sishengzi*."

"He set this up?"

The humour was back in Perkins' eyes though a mite muted. "He don't know what my security arrangements are just that I got 'em. Said to offer you another way out if'n you choose to take it."

The Captain didn't comment on that little nugget of information. "What'll it cost?"

Perkins named a sum that made Jayne feel a fury rise up inside him but it wasn't as much as the Captain had expected. "Why so generous?"

"We don't get many willin' to ferry cargo on an' off world. Gettin' harder to find Cap'n's willin' to take the risk."

"Well then," said the Captain slowly, in a voice as warm and smooth as drizzled toffee. "Seems to me you could cement such a mutual arrangement by waivin' the fee."

"An' if I don't?"

"Then maybehaps we'll have to take our chances. Not that we don't appreciate the offer of help but it comes at a price that means me an' mine can't re-stock properly for food an' supplies. We live on the wing, Jer. Don't got time nor the luxury of steppin' out an' replenishin' when an' where we please. If you ain't willin' to help us now could be we ain't gonna be disposed to return the favour when you next need goods transportin'."

The man's eyes glittered then settled. Perkins nodded and held out a hand. "Pleasure doin' business with you, Mal."

Jayne frowned as the two men shook hands. Was that a yes or a no? He turned his head and could swear Book was smiling behind his gorram mask. All he knew was he wanted to get back to Serenity and shake the dust of this place from his boots and never come back.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo" = animal fucking bastard *shenjingbing* = crazy *baobei* = precious/treasure *zhangfu* = husband *xianzai* = now *kexi* = pity *hundan* = bastard *dong ma* = understand? *bushi* = not so *hao* = good *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *shenme* = what *sishengzi* = bastard (not an insult)


Friday, April 20, 2012 10:04 AM


Hmm is that a second villain to show up? The Wash/Zoe scene was very fitting.

Friday, April 20, 2012 11:58 AM


That would be telling, Nutluck. Glad you liked the Wash/Zoe scene and thanks for the feedback. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, April 20, 2012 5:20 PM


Who is that gorram woman? Do we know her? Someone Mal pissed off lately? ARGH!! questions upon question, you really know how to snare us, AliD...eagerly awaiting the next chapter

Friday, April 20, 2012 6:24 PM


Who is that gorram woman? Do we know her? Someone Mal pissed off lately? ARGH!! questions upon question, you really know how to snare us, AliD...eagerly awaiting the next chapter

Friday, April 20, 2012 11:45 PM


You will have to wait and see, MalsDoxy, but thanks for saying it twice! Lots more to come, think you are confused now? Ooooh, you have no idea.... LOL. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, April 21, 2012 4:09 AM


um, yeah, sorry about that, cat walking across keyboard sent again...keep flyin'

Monday, April 23, 2012 5:57 PM


Love the Wash and Zoe scene!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 2:02 AM


Thanks, Ebfiddler, and I did laugh about the cat Malsdoxy. They have a tendancy to do that. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:33 AM


Wanted to get back to this to add, I also really like Mal's dealings with Perkins -- particularly Jayne's line, wondering if it was a yes or a no. As usual, you've got some interesting twists!

Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:14 PM


Thanks for the added comment, Ebfiddler. It is appreciated, 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.