BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - MYSTERY

STEAMER

Solar Winds and Silver Skies
Saturday, July 2, 2016

"You're going to shoot a Mountie? They'll hunt you to the ends of the 'verse!"


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2036    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

A legendary officer of the St. Albans Northwest Mounted Police is mysteriously murdered. Bent on finding the killer, his son seeks passage on Serenity to Beaumonde, where he meets a big-city police detective who reluctantly joins him in his search....only to find out that Serenity's crew has their own special interest in finding the culprit.


X-posted to AO3.

If you're going nuts wondering how I plan to cross Firefly with Due South, all I ask is that you read on - and join me in specially thanking my fellow Browncoat-DueSer ButterflyGhost, for both beta-reading and bouncing ideas around like beach-basketballs!

(To translate the Chinese phrases, hover your mouse over the phrase for the translation to pop up as alt-text.)


Cold, white, and clouded, the unforgiving landscape sprawled around the old man as far as his eyes could see. It mattered not where he walked, where he stood, where he went to sleep or where he awoke - nothing but rugged mountains, broad plains, and frozen lakes, all covered with an impenetrable blanket of snow to greet him when he reopened his eyes. He'd spent all fifty-seven of his years on this planet, and even he questioned why people chose to live on St. Albans, knowing that the terraforming process had gone so far awry as to plunge the small world into perennial freeze. Some came to get away from the heavy hand of the Alliance, no doubt. Others came to hide from federal law enforcement, even less doubt. Hardly the concern of the local police - whose forces he had served for the past three and a half decades of his life - as long as they kept to the letter of the local laws, they somehow eked out a living trying to find new and inventive ways for vegetation to survive in the harsh wintry conditions. By and large, St. Albans was a mining planet, but its more daring inhabitants made a go of living on the surface, many of them using the ubiquitous snow to their advantage to melt, distill, purify, and even electrolyse it into more practical states.

He stood at the top of an outcropping on the side of a rocky knoll, looking out at the land. The skies were silver with light clouds, but no snow fell. Even though St. Albans had only one season - winter - an occasional hemispherical tilt, however slight, could increase its exposure to the sun just enough to dry out the atmosphere. These were the days the natives felt worth living for. He himself could see why visitors felt no inclination to stick around for long, but this barren, icy world was his home: he couldn't conceive of living anywhere else. Certainly not thriving, bustling urban worlds like Beaumonde and Boros, and definitely not a gigantic societal melting pot like Sihnon.

A glance at his compass and the light in the sky told him that it was after three o'clock - late in the day. Time to think about getting someplace sheltered to pitch camp. He stepped out of the deep, freezing footprints he'd made at the top of the outcropping and began to pick his way down along the side of the knoll. It dropped off sharply about thirty feet from the bottom of the gorge, and he squatted, carefully climbing, foot below foot and hand below hand, down the jagged face of rock. Presently, his hands cold but not without feeling, he reached the two and a half feet of snow covering the floor of the gorge and started to trudge uphill along the side of the small stream at its centre.

All at once he froze as he heard a loud metallic clack from somewhere behind him. Few other metal objects might make such a mechanical sound, other than an ammunition clip being inserted into a stock. He held still, not breathing, looking around at the dark rock faces surrounding him. Nothing struck his eye - not a movement, not a glint, not a reflection or a shadow in the absent sunlight: no sound reached his ear but that of another clack, accompanied by the electronic whir of a bolt being drawn.

There was no one else in his view. No footprints rustled, no one shouted. He had been alone here in the middle of nowhere for hours without another soul in sight. He slowly turned again, his aged eyes sweeping the sides of the gorge, but still picking out nothing remarkable. Whoever had dared to come out here, they'd come out here for him. He had no cover, nowhere to run. Only a shot in the psychological dark was left to him now.

"You're going to shoot a Mountie? They'll hunt you to the ends of the 'verse!"

The shot in the dark failed to avail him. The shot in the light was the last sound he ever heard.

o=/_\=o

The village of St. Petersbury had never interested him before, uneventful as it was. Of the small clutch of communities within his assigned territory, in fact, St. Petersbury was the least remarkable of all. Only ten families lived there on account of a mine collapse years ago that had all but written its epitaph as a town. A town it remained in name only, more of a ghost town really, with nothing but those few remaining inhabitants to justify its existence.

Until today.

He stood on a hillside a short distance away from the Stevens homestead and watched the funeral. The little Firefly-class transport had landed earlier in the day, its crew - a motley, varied lot by the look of them - bearing a large wooden coffin containing the body of the house's oldest son. Tracey Stevens, he remembered: a shifty, disorganised young man with a weird sense of humour. The boy had gone to fight for the Independents in the war and never came home. Joseph Stevens had never gotten a satisfactory answer about what had happened to his son, but here the answer was: and satisfactory though it might be, it was no less heartbreaking. An aged man in the clericals of a shepherd was now reading from a worn prayer book over Tracey's body, undoubtedly reading the 23rd Psalm and begging the Lord's forgiveness for whatever indiscretions Tracey might have committed.

He watched the spectacle without a word. There had been one funeral too many on St. Albans in the past couple of weeks. Nora Hessler, chief engineer of the planet's largest ore mine in the town of Kugluktuk, dead from inhalation: his own father, in whose footsteps he'd followed to become a mounted policeman: now Tracey. He had followed every recourse open to him in trying to get to the bottom of his father's death, and he had gotten nowhere fast. Perhaps it was time to take an avenue closed to him, with or without the knowledge of his superior officers.

Perhaps the crew of that Firefly had the answers he needed. Or if not the answers themselves, then at least some means of getting to them. It was worth a try. Someone had to speak on behalf of the dead.

"Let's go," he addressed his Albanian wolfhound, reclining in the snow at his feet. He turned and began to retrace his steps, the hound trotting after him, panting his heat out into the biting cold air in thick white clouds.

o=/_\=o

"Tell me you're joking," his superior admonished him.

"About what, specifically?" he asked innocently. He remained carefully neutral, directing his stare at her forehead.

Martha Meighen was an atrociously beautiful woman, he couldn't deny it. But she was his senior officer, and her dark, shadowed eyes, mesmeric as they were, could shoot icy sharp daggers through concrete walls. She never let him forget who was in charge, especially when he asked for so much as a personal leave day, as rare as that was.

He avoided her eyes by concentrating on the spot where the bridge of her nose met her forehead. "You know as well as anyone that your father isn't the only one who's died near here in recent weeks," she told him. "He may have been one of ours, but he deserves no more special treatment than any of the others. Nora Hessler was one of the most efficient and respected mining engineers on the whole planet. Do you expect me to direct any less attention to her death than to your father's?"

"Inspector, I'm told that the bullet they extracted from my father's body was a twelve-calibre Werner and Milburne hunting cartridge. Such ammunition is unique to light hunting rifles manufactured by W. and M., and known to be sold by illegitimate dealers on Beaumonde. In approximately six hours, the distance between St. Albans and Beaumonde will - "

"Fraser...." Meighen's eyes narrowed and hardened. "Your father was a legend of this force. Don't think for a second that you're the only one who's hell-bent on finding out what happened to him. You know as well as I do that his death is being investigated to the full extent of our resources, and I can't risk allowing you to become emotionally involved with it. You'll find Constable Rennie at the medical examiner's office in an hour."

"With all due respect, ma'am," Fraser went on, clearing his throat, "I have a few contacts in the federal police who have contacts of their own on...."

"The federal police?" Meighen interrupted. "Pray tell, are these the same contacts who nearly shut down our headquarters while they audited every muscle twitch performed by every officer on this force from auxiliary constable to commissioner? All because you reported one of their division commanders for....what was it again?"

"Excessive speeding, ma'am. He entered atmo via a crowded shipping lane at nearly eighty-eight thousand miles per hour, recklessly endangering the safety of two bulk transports, a half-dozen personal craft and two of our own patrol ships."

"And yet you thought you could report his actions without fear of reprisal."

"Federal officers are no more above the law than any one of us, ma'am."

"Very amusing," Meighen smirked. "But not much more than this request of yours. I'm sorry, Fraser, but you know perfectly well that the mining accident that killed Nora Hessler may not have been an accident at all. That's where your investigative expertise, alongside Constable Rennie's, is needed. That'll be all."

Dropping his eyes, Fraser nodded. Then he drew himself up to rigid attention, pulled a small slip of paper out of his hat, and looked her directly in the eye. "I understand. But you also understand that nothing is going to stop me from finding my father's killer, and bringing him to justice."

Flatly and without any display of emotion, he placed the slip of paper on the desktop in front of the inspector: her gaze flicked down at it for just a second long enough. With a respectful nod, Fraser placed his hat on his head, faced about and marched out of the office before Meighen had a chance to respond.

o=/_\=o

Fraser trod lightly across the hard-packed snow toward Serenity. He'd already been able to pick out the name of the little freighter painted stark white against the sun-like background on the side of its neck: all the while of his approach, he ruminated on the name's meaning to its owner and its captain. Serenity Valley kept coming to the forefront of his mind, but he remembered enough recent history to know that that battle hardly deserved such recognition.

Only now had Serenity's engines cooled enough for snow to start building up on top of them. Already several inches of it covered the transport's bridge and primary hull. The bridge passed from sight above the brim of Fraser's hat, and he spied the first sign of movement, a young woman in grubby brown coveralls and a clean, well-trimmed young man wrapped in a thick black peacoat. As Fraser drew nearer the loading ramp, he picked up a dash of conversation here and there: both of them seemed sorely saddened by Tracey's passing.

Reaching the foot of the ramp, Kaylee Frye sucked in a deep draught of the crisp, snowy air as she paused on one side of an aluminum tote. She turned to one side, her expression downright listless.

"Hell of a shame, ain't it?" she said ruefully. "Feds couldn't just leave the dao mei dan in peace."

"Well, they're not exactly known for that." Simon Tam made a special effort to be conversational, seeing that her blooming, chipper nature was absent - despite being one of the things he liked best about her. "And River and I should know. But it has to be said, Tracey took an awful, awful chance."

"Yeah, but look who he did it for, though," Kaylee said, waving her arm out at the desolate, snow-encrusted landscape around them. "For his family. I mean, just look at all this - " She broke off as she caught sight of Fraser strolling toward them. At once she halted the gesture and drew her arm back: Simon, meanwhile, started at the appearance of the strange man. The wide-brimmed, crowned hat on his head made him look disturbingly official, and the large white wolfhound trotting beside him caused an involuntary grinding of Simon's teeth.

"Good day," Fraser said pleasantly. "Sorry to bother you."

"Oh, not a bit," Kaylee smiled back. She couldn't deny that the newcomer had caught more than just her eye. "Help you with something?"

"I rather hope so, if I may have a word with your commanding officer."

"I'll get him," Simon volunteered. His face was stiff and his voice terse. He still didn't like the look of this character in spite of the outward display of friendly warmth - especially now that he'd seen the way Kaylee reacted to him. She hadn't even looked at Simon since Fraser appeared, and she didn't spare him so much as a glance now, as he turned away and headed back up into the cargo bay, staring daggers at her.

"Let me give you a hand with this," Fraser offered, taking Simon's place at the other side of the tote.

"Thanks." Kaylee beamed at the devilishly handsome, well-built stranger as they lifted the tote in tandem and carried it up the ramp.

"Is this your first time on St. Albans?" Fraser asked casually.

"Actually, yeah," Kaylee burbled. "How'd you guess?"

"Well, it's not exactly guesswork, miss. I mean, you and your companion have a noticeable fondness of heavy clothing, which indicates that you're not accustomed to this climate. And since neither of you sport an obvious skin tone, it suggests to me that neither one of you comes from a particularly warm planet."

Kaylee couldn't decide if she was impressed or taken aback by his observance. "Geez, you're....you're pretty good," she simpered. She led the way to a stack of provision crates on the starboard side of the bay and gestured for him to lower the tote. "So, uh, what brings you to Serenity?"

"With respect, miss, I think it's best I discuss that with your captain when I meet him."

"If you says so. My name's Kaylee, by the way."

"Benton Fraser. Pleased to meet you." Fraser shook Kaylee's proffered hand just before his wolfhound interceded, sniffing at the tote, pawing at it with interest.

"Oh, hi there, big fella!" Kaylee knelt beside him and rubbed the top of his head between his ears. "How 'bout you, you got yourself a name?"

"As a matter of fact, yes," Fraser supplied. "His name's Diefenbaker. Despite the occasional bout of ingratitude, I daresay he's the most loyal companion a human being ever had."

"I daresay you got that right," Kaylee said, looking past him. Fraser turned to see Simon on approach, accompanied now by a tall, broad-faced man wearing a long brown duster and a pistol on his right hip. The brown coat alone had Fraser squinting slightly - suddenly the meaning of the ship's name had become much clearer to him - but the sight of the gun forced him to fight back a natural tendency to question and arrest.

"Captain Reynolds," Simon said, "this is, er....forgive me, I don't believe I've caught your name."

"Ah," Fraser smiled. "Constable Benton Fraser, St. Albans Northwest Mounted Police." He held out his hand, maintaining his smile even at the sight of the distrustful glare the captain shot at him.

Malcolm Reynolds made no move to shake the hand. Instead he looked Fraser up and down, sizing him up, letting the "Police" part sink deeply into his memory. "What's your business with me, Constable?" he asked finally.

Fraser slowly lowered his hand to his side, recognising the animosity in which he was now held. "Well, sir, I'm on a special assignment, and I rather hoped I could secure transportation on your vessel if you'd be so inclined to permit it."

Nonplussed, Mal leaned over to Simon. "Did he just say what I...."

"He wants to hitch a ride," Simon translated.

"That's what I thought. You and Kaylee finish stowing the supplies. Constable, why don't we talk this over." Mal turned and waved with one hand back aft toward the common area. Without hesitation or question, Fraser followed him, but he didn't miss the nervous reactions of Simon or Kaylee as they scurried back to work.

Mal's gun hand twitched at his side. He'd had enough trouble with Womack and his flunkies and the last thing he wanted to deal with was another cop, local or Fed.

"I'm terribly sorry if this is an imposition, Captain," Fraser said as he followed Mal through the hatch into the common area. "However, time is of the essence, and with our current proximity to Beaumonde, I'm rather anxious to - " He stopped short, in both word and step, as Mal spun around to face him, pulling his gun out of its holster. Yet he didn't level it: he held it lowered at his side and directed a dagger-like glare straight into Fraser's unassuming blue eyes.

"Let's get one thing straight," Mal said in a short, clipped tone. "I ain't crazy about takin' lawmen on board my boat. Last time that happened, a friend of mine wound up payin' the ultimate price."

"Would that have been a young man named Tracey Stevens?" Fraser asked, his voice level.

"What if it was?"

"I watched you bring him home the other day. You know, his father spent years wondering what became of him after the war. I would go so far as to say the entire community is grateful that you gave him closure."

"What would make me particular grateful is if I don't gotta worry about you. Goes without sayin', after what we just flew through, we're a tad-bit on edge on this board. And to top it off, you might say one or two of mine are feelin' a mite trigger-happy of late."

"I assure you, Captain Reynolds, unless you've committed a crime within the bounds of the St. Albans Northwest Territories, I have no reason to be suspicious of you or your people."

"Who said anything about committing crime?" Before Fraser could answer, Mal continued: "My people and I got enough trouble. I damn sure can't spare a one of 'em to keep an eye on you for however long you're on board."

"Sir," Fraser's voice was quiet yet intense. "By taking passage on your vessel, not only do I entrust my life to you and your crew, I also entrust a family tradition dating back centuries. My father - whose murder I'm now investigating - was a Mounted Policeman before me. I myself was named after my ancestor, Benton Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Legend has it that on Earth that was, he came to the city of Chicago on the trail of his own father's killers, and for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, he remained as a liaison officer for many years thereafter. If I trust you with a family history of over five hundred years, Captain, surely you can return some of that trust."

"Sure would work to your good if that was true," Mal said flatly.

"Sir?"

"The answer's no, Constable. You want to talk family history, here's a recent slice o' mine. Feds came trompin' on board not even three days ago and made death of my friend. Tracey may have been a full-bird gui hun ben bo, but that didn't make him any less my friend. Whenever lawmen come on my boat, trouble ain't far behind. That Fed base in Shaughnessy Village ain't nearly far enough away, but I'd estimate you'd have a lot better luck there. If it were me, I'd get skippin'." With that, Mal holstered his gun again, but he still stood rock-solid in front of Fraser, holding in no uncertain terms that the Mountie was out of luck.

Fraser lowered his head, twisted his hat briefly in his hands and placed it back on his head. Mal couldn't possibly know why the reference to Shaughnessy Village had so deeply punched him below the belt, but the hint had been dropped. Passive-faced, Fraser looked Mal in the eye and nodded once. "Thank you kindly for your time, Captain Reynolds." He turned and started toward the stairs back to the cargo bay. He was almost to the hatch when Mal turned and started toward the stairwell to the upper level - but then Fraser abruptly turned back just before ducking through.

"Oh, by the way," he hailed Mal. "Do you suppose your father ever wonders whether you survived Serenity Valley?"

"No," Mal said without missing a beat. "I don't reckon he does."

There was nothing more to say. Fraser turned again and ducked through the hatch, leaving Mal to turn and make his own path to the stairs leading up to the aft hallway. He had just reached the bottom step when he paused, overcome with retrospection, and stared hard at the fourth step from the bottom without seeing it.

"You know, considering how that battle turned out, I doubt he or anyone would hold it against your father for losing all thought of you."

Mal didn't even look up as Shepherd Book approached him from the passenger dorm. "My father's dead, Preacher. He's been dead longer than I've been alive. Horse thieves gunned him down on his own front porch when my mother still had a month to go with me. I never even knew him." He turned away, jaw clenched, trying to put it out of his head.

"You and that young man have something in common, then," Book stated.

"It's about all we do have." Mal finally turned around and glared at him.

"Except that I very much doubt horse thieves are to blame," Book continued as if Mal hadn't even spoken. "Horses aren't exactly plentiful in a climate like this. Constable Fraser and his colleagues might seem more at home on woolly mammoths if they weren't long since extinct."

"Boil it down, Shepherd," Mal said curtly.

"St. Albans is not known for being plagued by criminal activity. As you yourself pointed out, there's only one federal outpost on the entire planet. Unlike most people, we didn't land here simply because we had something to hide."

"Most people ain't tryin' to get home any which way they can."

"Either way, what you have to ask yourself is who thought they could murder an officer of the St. Albans Northwest Mounted Police and get away with it. Whoever it is, I'd say it's a safe gamble that they consider themselves well above the law."

Mal didn't even need to see the knowing gleam in Book's eye to understand the inference: all he needed were the words, and Book's many nuggets of unshepherdly knowledge of the criminal mind he'd shared already. Silently, Mal held an unflinching stare at him for a very long moment. Then he looked away, turned back for the stairs and pounced on the second one from the bottom, bounding up to the upper level of Serenity with newfound determination.

"Zoe," he called out to his first mate as he entered the dining area. "We're starside in thirty. Tell Wash to start getting her warmed up."

"At it, sir," Zoe Washburne acknowledged. She had just stepped foot away from the kitchen counter when Mal accosted her and spoke again, this time in a much quieter tone.

"We're gonna have a rider," he told her. "He's a St. Albans Mountie."

"A local lawman, sir?" Zoe's expression was perplexed.

"Says he's just looking for a lift to Beaumonde. Won't be with us but a couple of days."

"You cotton to this, sir? You remember as far back as Lame Duck Larry."

"Damn sure I do. That's why you're gonna keep your eye on this fella day and night. Seems decent enough, but you don't gotta remind me that us and the law don't mix. He gets nosy or makes any trouble, fire at will."

"Wo dong xi, sir." Cool and collected as ever, Zoe turned away and headed forward to the bridge.

Mal followed her as far as the forward hall before he turned aside and headed down the stairwell to the cargo bay. There he came upon Book and Kaylee well into getting acquainted with Fraser - and no one less than River Tam sitting cross-legged on the deck, petting Diefenbaker.

"Well, isn't this a ke le ga da hui," Mal observed.

Fraser looked up and bridled. "Oh, I - I'm terribly sorry, Captain Reynolds. I'll be on my way." He glanced down at Diefenbaker and beckoned. "Dief, let's go."

Diefenbaker looked up and whined - he couldn't have made it any clearer that he was enjoying River's attention. Mal, however, halted Fraser in the midst of taking his first step. "Not so fast, Constable. Fair to say cooler heads have prevailed. And Beaumonde ain't but two days' flying time from here if we lift off within the next twenty-odd minutes. You might maybe have your shot."

Fraser's smile was considerably wider than Book's. "Very much appreciated, Captain."

"Wait, so - two days' time you'll be on our board?" Kaylee grinned with bubbling excitement. "Qi miao! I can show you the engine room if you wanna show me - "

"Actually, Kaylee, what you can do is get your hindquarters up there and build us up a decent head o' steam," Mal interrupted. "And you, Constable Fraser, can keep your little white friend's nose out of my people's effects." He gestured at Diefenbaker, who was licking River's hands enthusiastically.

"Yes, well, I imagine there are boundaries that need setting...."

"As with any hierarchy, the lines to be drawn are within the purview of the alpha being," River chimed in suddenly. "His decision to make and his responsibility to make sure each one is followed without question. Just a matter of adequate training." She smiled, but she was alone in doing so. Fraser and Mal exchanged a look - neither man could know how oddly sensical River's ramblings were to the other.

The loud clearing of a throat drew both Mal's and Fraser's attention around 180 degrees. Simon stood behind them, his face incensed. "Would you mind separating your dog's tongue from my sister on your way out the door?" he said pointedly to Fraser.

"Doctor!" Mal said with a winning smile before Fraser could respond. "Right shiny of you to offer to make yourself useful. Why don't you lay aft and fix up a room for our guest here."

"Our - what was that again?" Simon balked.

"You heard me. Constable Fraser here is hitchin' a ride out to Beaumonde, so the least we can do is offer him some halfway decent accommodations."

"Actually, I'm quite sure I can manage...." Fraser began, but Mal fixed him with the stare of a veteran soldier.

"You can manage to follow my orders as long as you're on my deck. Until we hit Beaumonde, you're under my charge. And that gives you fifteen minutes to stow your gear before we're airborne."

"Understood," Fraser acknowledged. "Dief." He started toward the ramp, but Diefenbaker lingered, growling deeply in his throat.

"River," Simon said, beckoning. But in similar fashion, River gave him a withering look.

"Diefenbaker...."

"River...."

"Are we not friends and countrymen?" River responded. "The hounds to the hunters?"

"Well, I know of one hound who is grossly fortunate that hunting is no longer of the essence," Fraser said. "But he has his burdens to bear as well as any one of us, and it's high time he bears them on board the ship."

"Oh - well, do you need a hand?" Kaylee bounced on her heels. "'Cause I got - "

"You got an engine to fire off," Mal broke in. To Fraser, he went on: "And you got gear to stow, and you - " now he turned to Simon - "got a room to fix up. As for you two...." he addressed River and Diefenbaker. "Just....don't get frisky."

Simon was last to leave, though he couldn't seem to make up his mind which of the new guests to glare at. First he scowled at Diefenbaker, who now brushed his whiskers across River's nose, earning an amused giggle for a reply: then he scowled at Fraser, whose back was now to him as he walked down the cargo ramp to gather his belongings. Shaking his head, Simon shot another dirty look at Diefenbaker, only to get a similarly dirty look from River. Clearly, she would have none of his fussing. With a forlorn sigh he turned around and repaired aft to attend to his assigned duties.

River turned back to Diefenbaker, rubbing the sides of his neck and smiling. "Don't worry," she murmured. "Simon says, touch your ears with your eyes."

Diefenbaker rumbled just above his breath, arching his head upward again to nuzzle River's chin. "Because Simon doesn't say touch his mind with my mind," she replied. "But I like to do it anyway, just to ban si zhi."

o=/_\=o

Course: St. Albans to Beaumonde. Date: January 7, 2518. Time: 2330, galactic standard. Much earlier than Fraser had accustomed himself on St. Albans, but if Mal was as deadly serious as he had been so far in dealing with him, Fraser knew he'd best get used to it. If he had any one advantage, the unforgiving cold of outer space was nothing new to him. He had never been in space before, but the temperature within Serenity was only somewhat warmer than a night's camping near Shaughnessy Village, within sight of....no. Fraser fought off the notion with a deep, sharp breath. That thought, he couldn't even allow to take form in his mind.

Instead he occupied his thoughts by looking down the surface of his bunk as he tried to draw the thin blanket up to his shoulders, only to find Diefenbaker's weight keeping it pinned at the foot of the bunk. "I wouldn't get used to this if I were you," he advised. "A few days on this vessel, perhaps a few more days on Beaumonde, and assuming we succeed in our mission, I estimate we'll be back on home turf in....oh, two weeks at the outside." Diefenbaker grumbled, pawing at the rumpled cotton blanket underneath him.

"Yes, I realise you're more comfortable on a walrus pelt, but it didn't occur to me to pack one. I believe it's entirely up to us to make ourselves at home in these conditions. So if you would kindly stop trying to commandeer the blanket, we could both use a decent night's rest."

In the next room, River lay on her side and stared through the corner of her eye at the bulkhead near the head of her bunk. Eyes half-closed, she tried to shut out the thought, but it was too strong - despite Fraser's concerted effort to rid himself of it. The scar it had left on his mind was so deep that River almost felt she could empathise with him.

"Whatever helps you sleep, whatever keeps you warm," she murmured under her breath. "When she comes back to haunt you and you must ride out the storm."

To be continued....

COMMENTS

Saturday, August 20, 2016 2:05 PM

JANE0904


Interesting start, and an equally interesting idea of combining these two shows! I wonder what you have planned ... keep going!


POST YOUR COMMENTS

You must log in to post comments.

YOUR OPTIONS

OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR

Solar Winds and Silver Skies
"You're going to shoot a Mountie? They'll hunt you to the ends of the 'verse!"

Where They Don't Follow (Prologue)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 2, Prologue. Roughly six months after 'The Guns of Yamenmiao', Inara says her final farewells before Serenity returns to Roma on a new job. This time, Mal's treasure quest must run the gamut of a not-quite-right scientist, a nameless, ruthless privateer, and a deeper penetration of the Alliance than Mal has ever attempted before.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Epilogue)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Epilogue. Kaylee and Serenity are once again flying. Mal and Inara are once again at odds.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 16)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 16. The crew reaches the end of the line, only to find out that the confrontations - and the mystery of the ghost train - are by no means finished.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 15)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 15. The stakes are no less than Inara's life when Mal commences the last fiery showdown.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 14)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 14. Mal has a trainload of destruction behind him and a passel of violent criminals ahead, holding Inara hostage. With no backup, how can he emerge victorious without destroying himself and his crew?

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 13)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 13. Mal's cover is altogether blown, and he must figure out how to keep the mission from going south - but he has only one dangerous way to get the word out.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 12)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 12. Tensions mount on the Yamenmiao expedition, coming to a head when Mal enters exactly the dire strait he feared the worst.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 11)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 11. The crew finds that their venture to recover the train is not without its unspoken fear of grievous injuries or death - but River finds herself concerned by something altogether different.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 10)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 10. The train has been found, the plan has been made, and Mal and the crew are all set to head out and put it into action - before an unexpected hitch forces them to act far faster than hoped.