Monday, August 11, 2003

"The crew of Serenity set their plan in motion."



SUMMARY: "The crew of Serenity set their plan in motion." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Jayne staggered a bit. Not just under the weight of his burden but the girls that came to hang on his arms and lean over and kiss him. *Wu de ma* if only his hands were free he would rutting well show them how to kiss properly and no mistake. But carrying the unconscious Captain in his arms limited his options some. He was ushered into the restaurant and the door closed and bolted behind him before he could say *tianna*.

One of the girls looked older than the rest and was the only one to show a trace of concern. She led him to the back of the room but not through the curtain. Jayne laid the Captain on a red plush couch, concerned to see no sign of movement from him. Mal's face was so pale and sweaty. Without thinking he placed a couple of fingers along the side of his neck, not settling against the over hot skin until he found the carotid pulse. It thrummed thready but regular. He did not like this. The Captain was fading fast. He looked up anxiously. Where the gorram was Anderson? If that *gos se tamade* did not show up soon he was gonna rip this place apart. Just then the back curtain swayed. Jayne's head shot up, hand on his gun. A geisha swayed into the room, the painted face angled at him in what was supposed to be a seductive pose. Jayne did not care.

"Somethin's wrong with the Captain. He collapsed on our way here. Can you help him?"

The geisha grinned at him then fluttered over to the couch. Jayne's frown deepened. Looking for any flicker of concern on that painted face but finding none. As the narrow hands began to paw the Captain he got angry and pushed the hands away from him, his voice thick with suspicion.

"You're not Anderson, what kind of gorram game do you think you're playin'?"

The girl shrank back and the curtain swayed behind her. This time Anderson came through them. Not dressed up in anything but his normal clothes now. He looked smug. As if he had been expecting them. "I'm impressed Jayne, I didn't think you'd notice. How did you know it wasn't me?"

He wanted to make a wise crack about his aftershave giving him away but did not dare. Simon had warned him not to provoke Anderson. Not with the Captain's life hanging in the balance and with one of the Preacher's special hells hanging over his head as well. He just managed to hold back his anger and channel everything into looking concerned. "Moved different. Look Anderson we ain't got time for this. Captain made the drop, no problem, but on the way back he started gettin' sick. Then on our way here he just collapsed on me. Gotta tell ya, he don't look so good."

Anderson reached out and began to take the Captain's pulse, pretending to be just as concerned as Jayne. "Did Captain Reynolds say anything to you about his condition?"

Jayne scowled. "Huh? Like what?"

"Did he say he felt ill? Nauseus? That kind of thing."

He shook his head. "No, nothing like that just that we had a deadline to keep." He paused. "Can you help him?"

"I may have some medicine that will bring down the fever, help him breathe more easily. Better bring him out back."

Jayne lifted him carefully and followed Anderson out through the back curtain. He took a careful inventory of the back room, his eyes seeming to roam at random though he was actually noting everything he could see. Anderson fussed about in a cupboard. Jayne was feeling more and more anxious. The man was taking too long for his liking and he did not like the way Mal was burning up. He was about to go and see what was taking Anderson so long when he heard a loud click behind him. Before he could do anything a cold gun barrel nestled tightly against the back of his neck. He froze. Anderson returned with a phial and a syringe, two girls behind him with handguns aimed at Jayne. The big man did not even attempt to look to see who had the drop on him. "Why the guns, Anderson? Not like we came to rob you. We had a deal and we kept our part."

"Just being cautious, *dong ma*?"

The mercenary said nothing. Watched warily as Anderson began to push the needle into the side of the Captain's neck, directly into a vein. "What's that?"

"Something to stabilise our friend."

"Stabilise? How d'you know what'll stablise him?"

Anderson emptied the contents into the Captain, slid the needle out and stroked a hand across the clammy face. He appeared to be considering something then realised Jayne had asked him a question. He looked up. "Oh that. I know because this is the antidote."

"Antidote to what?"

He was holding his temper with difficulty. Knew that if he blew this the likelihood was that they would all die not just the Captain. But it was so hard, he wanted to rip the piece of *gos se* to pieces. "Poison." He paused, now brushing the hair back from the Captain's brow. It infuriated Jayne watching him touch the Captain, knowing he was playing with them. "It was in the food."

"Then how come I didn't get sick?"

"You did. When you passed out you were hours from slipping away. I needed leverage to use on the good Captain." He smiled down at the pale face. The Captain did not stir. Anderson looked at Jayne again, his expression so smug that it was driving Jayne crazy not being able to wring his neck. "I told the Captain what I'd done, told him the only reason he was still conscious was because he didn't stuff himself as much as you did." Anderson laughed at the look on Jayne's face. "At first he refused but as he got sicker and you started to slip away he changed his mind. He wouldn't let you die." Anderson paused and seemed to consider Jayne. "Doesn't matter now, I don't need you so the question to be considered is - do I let you live or do you die?"

"There's no need for this. We did the job. You owe us."

"Ah yes, that. The money."

Anderson snapped his fingers and a girl produced a cloth drawstring money bag. He indicated for her to put it on the table nearest Jayne. He made no move to touch it. Anderson raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you going to count it?"

"What about the Captain?"

"He'll recover but he'll work for me now. If you're wise you'll do the same."

"Why in the nine hells would I do that?"

"So that you can go on living. Breathing. Enjoying life."

"What makes you think the Captain will have anything to do with you after this little stunt?"

There was a low pain-filled moaned. The Captain stirred slightly but did not wake. Anderson now running his fingers through the Captain's hair, an almost absent minded gesture until Jayne looked up and saw how Anderson was looking at him. In that moment he realised everything Anderson did was calculated to get a reaction. His eyes narrowed. He was still playing with them. "That antidote you gave him?"

"What about it?"

"He'll be good as new?"

"For a while."

Silence fell heavy between them. The Captain moaned again. Louder this time. His body began to shake. Anderson turned his head slightly and spoke to one of the girls behind him. "Fetch a bowl Jasmine."

She went to the kitchen and began to rumage around in one of the cupboards.

"What do you mean for a while?"

"I can make use of someone like the Captain. His ship will be a good addition to my operation and knowing he has such a loyal crew I won't have to worry about being cheated."

Jayne growled in the back of his throat. "What makes you think we'd do anything for a *wangba dan* like you? I'd as soon as slit your gorram throat!"

"Oh, I'm sure you would but the Captain won't have that luxury. I've given him enough of the antidote for him to survive this little demonstration but without regular doses of the antidote he'll die. A nice slow painful death. Not at all pleasant. In fact, you brought him back just in time."

He was stunned. Jayne had met many evil men. Many clever bastards who thought they held all the cards but Anderson was something else. "What happens now?"

"That all depends on you."


Anderson nodded and took the Captain's pulse again. Pleased that it was much stronger. He would be conscious soon. The girl returned with the bowl. Anderson had her lay it down on the floor next to the couch. "Yes. I run a lucrative operation. You could be part of that."

"Along with the Captain?"

"Naturally. I need him more than I need you. His ship, his crew."

"You could just kill me."

"I could but a good businessman doesn't waste resources and as the Captain's already demonstrated he has a great deal of loyalty to his crew. Though I must confess I'm not sure why. Man can't afford to be sentimental in business. Makes him weak, able to be manipulated." He paused. "I need your decision now."

Jayne pretended to think about it. Eyed the Captain who was slowly coming round then the bag of coins. Payment for a job completed. But the price. The price had been too gorram high. Made him feel unclean to even think of the offer on the table. An unusual feeling for him. "If the Cap agrees I'll do it."

He shook his head. "Not good enough. Yes or no, Jayne. Live or die."

He hissed in a breath. That gorram male bitch was gonna make him decide before the Captain regained consciousness. "Okay, I don't exactly have much choice do I?"

Anderson smiled and stood up. Just as he stepped away from the Captain, Jayne realised Anderson was taking something out of his pocket. To his consternation it was another syringe. Fear raced through his body. "What the hell's that for?"


He swore and braced himself ready to fight when a prick to the back of his neck had him spinning round on his toes. What the hell...? The woman behind him was also holding a syringe. Only hers was now empty. In her other hand she was holding a sawn off shotgun. The one he had felt pressed up against the back of his neck. He felt a moment of confusion and looked at Anderson. "I don't understand. If she's injected me why do you have a syringe?"

"Ah, my faithful Lara has administered the poison. This," He said holding up the syringe. "Is the antidote. Relax. Sit down. Once the Captain comes to I'll explain your next mission." He checked his watch. "You should have enough time to complete the job with a few hours to spare. Try to double cross me and you both die."

* * * * *

Inara was not completely comfortable with Frank Reynolds. Oh, she liked him well enough and the man had a definite charm about him. It was his all too knowing gaze that unsettled her. As if he knew not only what she was thinking but could sense her feelings too. A dangerous combination of insight. It made her feel vulnerable, exposed. A feeling she was not used to and did not like. Kaylee though had no trouble at all. He was the Captain's uncle and that made him one step down from God. The Captain could never do any wrong in Kaylee's eyes, a fact that had frustrated Inara on a number of occasions. But the easy acceptance of Mal's uncle did not sit well with her. The man in question had insisted they all gather round the table to eat. Inara found herself watching him, noted that he had many mannerisms in common with his nephew. A slight frown formed between her eyes. Kaylee was chatting away comfortably, River smiling indulgently at her as she arranged the food on her plate into a happy face. Inara noticed River did not actually eat any of the food.

She looked up to find Frank Reynolds watching her. So far she had counted four members of his crew. She was beginning to think that was the full compliment. The man had a very direct look about him and she sensed he was someone who liked to approach problems head on. His next words proved her right. "Miss Serra I didn't have time to enquire about the job my nephew is currently engaged on. I had the notion things were a mite hurried back there. Any problems I should know of?"

"I am sure Mal is just being cautious, Mr Reynolds."

"Perhaps, but I didn't come all this way, spend near six months looking for him to lose him."

Inara took a sharp breath. The man certainly did not pull his punches. Kaylee looked up and gave Mr Reynolds a radiant smile. "Cap'n's shiny, you ain't gonna lose him."

He smiled a genuine smile back at her. A wealth of easy affection that Inara found interesting. As if he had taken to the mechanic as soon as he had set eyes on her. Perhaps he had. Kaylee had a way of getting under most people's radar without even knowing it. It was just who she was. Inara turned her attention to River. "You haven't eaten anything yet, River. Aren't you hungry?"

The girl looked up with a distant smile. "Food's poison." She looked down at her plate unaware of the stares around the table. "Pretty colours though."

Mr Reynolds looked at Inara. "What's up with the girl?"

"Oh River's fine," Rushed Kaylee, anxious to defend her friend from any hint of criticism. "She just says things sometimes. Don't mean nothin' by it."

River looked up suddenly and looked straight at Mr Reynolds. "Don't eat at foreign tables. Bad manners to get sick and die."

They just stared at each other. River smiled brightly and popped a potato in her mouth and began to munch happily completely contradicting her own pronouncement. Kaylee patted her hand and smiled at Mr Reynolds. "See?"

* * * * *

Zoe was more than anxious now. The Preacher stared off towards the run down building, not saying anything. He looked deep in thought. Simon was fidgetting. He shot Zoe a worried glance. "What's taking so long?"

"I don't know."

The Preacher turned his head slightly so he could look at them but still keep the restaurant in sight. "It doesn't mean anything's gone wrong."

"No?" Said Simon anxiously. "They've been gone almost an hour! I don't like it."

"Relax, Simon."

He turned back to face the Preacher. "How can you be so calm? Anything could be happening in there."

"No gunfire."


"If something had gone wrong there would have been gunfire."

For a moment Simon began to calm down. The Preacher had a point. Then he remembered why they were here in the first place and mentally groaned. This plan was beginning to seem worse with each passing minute. He looked at Zoe. She looked tense but contained. He willed himself to get a grip then saw the Shepherd stiffen. "Someone's coming out."

Zoe braced her weapon and waited. The Preacher looked through his rifle sights for a better view. He breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed a little but kept his gun trained on the building. "It's alright, Jayne and the Captain are coming out."

Simon Tam looked relieved. He peered through the underbrush they were hiding in but could not see much. It was enough though to confirm the two men were alone and from what he could see the Captain seemed to be walking under his own steam if a little unsteadily. He let out a huge sigh of relief and smiled at Zoe. She did not smile back. In fact she looked tenser now than she had before the two had emerged. He frowned at her, "*Shenme shi*?"

"Something's wrong."

The Shepherd squinted back down his sights and noticed that Jayne appeared to be scowling. Every now and then he put a hand out to steady the Captain. Zoe began to crawl backwards and hissed for Book and Simon to do the same. She did not want anyone from the house to see them just in case. Only when she was sure they could emerge out of sight of the building did she get to her feet, moving back behind another building to waylay the Captain and Jayne once they were clear. Simon looked anxiously from a pissed off looking Captain to a very angry Jayne. "What happened?"

Jayne sucked in a breath. He sounded annoyed and a little scared. "They sucker punched us."

Zoe frowned at him. "*Shenme*?"

"What Jayne means is that Anderson is an even more slippery *wangba dan* than we gave him credit for."

"But you're okay," Simon asked cautiously, peering carefully at the Captain. "So the plan worked, *dui*?"

The Captain sighed and shook his head. "Not exactly."

Zoe tilted her head to get a good look at the Captain. He still looked mighty pale but just seeing him up on his feet again was a great improvement. Certainly better than corpsified. "We expected you out almost an hour ago, sir."

"Anderson has the antidote," Said Captain Reynolds. "But he only gave me enough to last 24 hours."

"An' that ain't all," Grumbled Jayne, more than a little upset. "I got injected too. So unless we do another job for Anderson we don't get the rest of the antidote and this time tomorrow we can kiss our asses goodbye."

The Preacher's expression hardened. "Then he leaves us no choice."

The Captain looked from Book to Zoe. "What are you talking about?"

"We have to go in and raise that place to the ground, Captain."

The Captain raised a disbelieving eyebrow at him then looked at Zoe and Simon. "And this is your solution? To just flatten the place and destroy the only antidote there is?" He paused to watch their faces as his words sank in. "Am I the only one thinking this is not such a good idea?" He said drily.

The Shepherd looked at him. "It's still a good plan, Captain, only we don't flatten it until after we get the antidote."

"Oh," Said the Captain with false cheer. "That changes everything!"

Zoe frowned at him. "What are you so upset about, Sir?"

"Zoe, Anderson has fifteen people in that place with him. Mostly women. And that's only them as I've counted. But all of them have weapons. How do you think the four of us are going to take them out, get the antidote, then flatten the place? Go on, tell me because I'd really like to know."

Jayne put a hand on Mal's arm, a look of concern on his face. "Calm down, Captain, remember what Anderson said."

He shook the hand off angrily. Zoe narrowed her eyes at him. "What did Anderson say?"

The Captain muttered obscenities in Chinese half under his breath and turned away from her. Zoe looked at Jayne and waited for him to explain.

"It's the poison. We have 24 hours but if we get upset the poison moves faster in the bloodstream." He looked at the Captain's furious face. Watched him staring back the way they had come. Knew the Captain was not angry with them. He was mentally kicking himself for being outsmarted. As if he could have done anything about it while being pretty much comatose with the effects of the drug. "We could lose as much as 8 hours." Jayne added.

"*Gos se*." Muttered the Shepherd. This was bad. "We have to go in and get that antidote, Captain. Not just to counteract the poison but to stop Anderson doing this again. If we don't stop him now you and Jayne will never be free of him."

The Captain took a couple of deep breaths and turned to face them, trying to force himself to calm down so that he could think. He knew the Preacher was absolutely right but that did not make it any easier. "In that case we need a new plan."

The Preacher straightened up. "I'll go, Preachers can go places other people can't...."

The Captain was already shaking his head. There was a real look of regret in his eyes. "Not that I don't appreciate the offer Shepherd but Anderson's done his homework. Knows all kinds of things about me and Jayne that ain't on our birth certificates. And he don't seem the God-fearin' kind. No. There's only one way to handle a sick conniving *hundan* like that. Best we go back to Serenity."

Simon looked worried. "What can we do there? Forgive me saying so, Captain, but all we'll be doing is wasting time. Surely we need to act now?"

He got a tired smile back. Zoe realised that the Captain was pretty much dead on his feet. She did not like to think how close to accurate that might be. After all. They only had Anderson's word that the Captain and Jayne had 24 hours. Wisely, she kept the unsettling thought to herself. Her paranoia did not need company.

"Can't act now, Simon, much as I'd like to." He rubbed his forehead, holding back a heavy sigh. He had a headache building making it difficult to concentrate through the pain. "Need to rest a little, think straight. Anderson's done his homework and we need to do ours, *dong ma*?"

The others nodded. He was still the Captain. If they did this right it would stay that way.

* * * * *

Inara Serra was worried. She could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. Kaylee watched her pacing. They were together - her, Kaylee and River - sharing a large but functional room much like their commons room back on Serenity. Inara stopped. That was it. Serenity. They had to go back. Good or bad, wise or foolish, they did not belong here. River had been sitting on the floor playing a game with Kaylee. She suddenly looked up and stared off at a blank wall. "Daddy's coming but it's all wrong. Lies and games. Nobody plays by the rules any more."

Kaylee stared at her, not sure what to say. "That's nice."

River looked at her. "No, it's not." She then looked at Inara. Inara stared back. "The lies are worse than the games." She jumped to her feet. "Time to go home."

To Kaylee's surprise Inara nodded at River as if the girl had made perfect sense then went to find Frank Reynolds. It was definitely time to go home.

* * * * *

Simon Tam did not say anything but he was getting worried about the Captain. Jayne was sullen but talkative and they had let him ramble on knowing it was the safest way to allow the man to let off steam. But the Captain had been silent, walking with head bowed, rubbing his forehead from time to time and concentrating simply on putting one foot in front of the other. Simon frowned. Wanted to examine him properly, take blood tests and fathom exactly what had happened to him. Somehow he did not trust the course of events described to them. It did not add up. He kept glancing at Jayne. The man had overly heightened colour but that could just be from the brisk pace they had set and the effects of the adrenaline rush. His breathing was good and he was not sweating. All in all, to look at him you would not suspect there was anything untoward. At least. Not medically.

The Captain on the other hand was not so good. He was at least conscious, walking and sometimes talking. But instead of getting livelier he seemed to be fading again and he was pretty sure the man had a raging headache too though convincing him to own up to the fact was more work than he felt up to right now. He would wait until they got back to the ship and he could get him into the infirmary. His territory. Then he planned to find out just what Anderson had done to him. He would take blood samples from Jayne as well and compare the two. It would be useful to see the pathology of the drug used on a man recently injected as Jayne had been and someone being giving a cocktail alternating between the poison and the antidote. Just a slight error in the dosage and they would have one dead Captain on their hands. He did not even want to think how Jayne would react if that happened. The Captain might not be the mercenary's favourite person but he was the one he respected most. He had seen the man slowly changing. The old selfish single minded Jayne Cobb was still there alive and well but now he was learning the advantages of being part of a crew. Not just any crew but this one.

They got back to Serenity to find a worried Wash waiting for them. He looked relieved and nodded happily. "I was beginning to worry, *bao bei*."

Zoe gave a faint smile and let him kiss her. He pulled back with a look of concern on his face. "What is it, sweetie?

She did not look at the others but gave her husband a solemn look that stopped his heart dead in its' tracks. "We have a problem."

He looked wildly from face to face. "Problem? What problem?"

Jayne scowled not bothering to hide how unhappy he was. "Anderson screwed us."

"What? We didn't get paid?" He looked at the Captain when he said this but Mal did not look back. In fact the Captain was not looking at any of them. Wash frowned. He looked at Zoe, "What's going on, *xin gan*?"

"Anderson gave the Captain the antidote just not all of it." Wash's eyebrows rose. She continued before he could say anything. "He also injected some of the poison into Jayne."

Wash gave Jayne a look of alarm then began to frown when he could detect nothing different about him. "I don't mean to sound callous or unsympathetic," He said slowly. "But shouldn't you look, you know, ill? Sick?" He paused then pointed at the Captain. "Like him?"

They all followed this exchange. The Captain finally raised his weary head and pinned Wash with a look he knew only too well. "Not exactly helpin' here Wash." He said quietly.

"Um sorry Captain. I'm glad to see you awake and on your feet just thought you'd look - well - better."

Simon interjected quickly. Not wanting the Captain to get upset and make his medical condition worse. He was still trying to figure it out for himself. "We should take off now, Wash, and sooner would be better than later."

The pilot nodded at the meaningful look in the doctor's eyes. "Right. Taking off. I can do that."

Wash and Zoe hurried to the cockpit. The others hung around a little in the cargo bay, waiting to see what the doctor wanted to do. Shepherd Book shut the ramp and told Wash they were all aboard. When he asked for a destination Zoe told him it didn't matter because they weren't going anywhere. He blinked in momentary confusion until she explained. They just needed to be off planet for a while. Needed a little time to figure this out and decide what to do next. Wash nodded and did just that.

Simon was fussing over the Captain which was pissing Jayne off. No one seemed worried that he had been poisoned as well. The Preacher said comforting words to the mercenary explaining that being the strong healthy man he was he could withstand the effects of the poison better than most. That seemed to mollify him a little but he still kept giving worried glances in the direction of the Captain and Simon as they followed them to the infirmary. Once they got there Mal ignored the exam table Simon was trying to guide him to and sat on the floor. Not much caring for comfort. Needing the cold steel under him and at his back. Anything to cool the fire raging in his skin. The tension twisting in his gut making him all kinds of nauseous. Simon knelt beside him unable to hide his concern.

Up in the cockpit Zoe sat next to Wash and put an arm around him, her head resting on his shoulder. Taking a moment or two to enjoy the closeness. Inhaling his clean scent and comforted by his physical presence. She gave him a kiss and released an almost soundless sigh. He gently rubbed her back, his voice quiet and soothing. "That bad?"

She nodded. He knew enough to say no more. For now. His mind working overtime as he tried to puzzle out what had happened. Or rather. What had gone wrong. He did not have all the pieces yet but it seemed as if there had been some kind of double cross. He wished he knew what in the nine hells was going on and why that *tamade hundan* Anderson had poisoned two of their crew. What was it with this guy and poisons anyway? Wasn't poisoning the Captain the first time enough for him? He had not liked the look of Mal when they got back and the way the others had reacted around him reinforced his instinct that things were not good.

In the infirmary, Shepherd Book stood just inside the door. The Captain sat with his legs stretched out and head back, eyes closed. The doctor was taking his pulse with one hand and had the other hand on his forehead. That the Captain was allowing him to fuss over him without any complaint was worrying. When Simon at last took his hands away the Captain muttered something the Preacher and Jayne could not hear. Simon dipped his head a moment as if thinking about what he had said then nodded. Jayne frowned, about to ask what the gorram was going on but the Shepherd caught his eye and gave a stern shake of the head. More worried than annoyed Jayne shut his mouth. Simon looked up. There was a sadness in his eyes that Jayne did not like the look of at all. "I could use a little help getting the Captain on to the examination table."

Without a word Jayne and Book went over to him and lifted the Captain up. They carried him over to the examination table and laid him down without comment. The doctor nodded. The Captain lay with his eyes closed seemingly drifting off into a fitful sleep. His skin was turning a pale shade of grey which Simon did not like at all. He was relieved that Jayne had not asked him if he was going to die. As he looked at the Captain one thought kept running through his mind. Why couldn't things ever run smooth?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Manadarin - Pinyin)

*wu de ma* = mother of God *gos se tamade* = fucking crap *dong ma* = understand *wangba dan* = bastard *shenme shi?* = what's the matter? *shenme* = what *dui* = correct *gos se* = crap *tianna* = Oh God *bao bei* = baby/darling/treasure *xin gan* = sweetheart


Tuesday, August 12, 2003 11:45 AM


WOW! Again, I am spellbound. Please write the next chapter soon! Excellent suspense!

Friday, October 14, 2011 8:35 AM


Ohhh this is amazing! I love at the end how Simon is thinking "why doesn't it ever go smooth?" you've dine a great job of capturing his character!!! And all the others for that matter.... And you've come up with a downright creepifing villain!


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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.