Thursday, August 21, 2003

"The crew reluctantly follow their Captain's orders, more confused now than they were at the beginning."



SUMMARY: "The crew reluctantly follow their Captain's orders More confused now than they were at the beginning." 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

* * * * *

Eros was much as they expected it would be. Wash had been braced for the sand, the dunes, the dry clime, but not the utter and total desolation of the place. It already gave him a creepifying feeling. Death by dessication coming primarily to mind. Mal tried to still the rattlers stirring up in his gut knowing it was only his will that had brought them here. He knew how it looked but then they had just landed. Time enough to think on it once they had taken a look around. Got their bearings. Zoe was dry and to the point, her expression as she squinted across the harsh bright shimmering of unrelenting sand made his heart sink. "Bearings?" Her tone was mild but scathing. Made him wince internally. "You want us to take a moment to get our 'bearings', sir?"

"That was my notion, Zoe."

She glanced off him again and swept critical eyes over the barren landscape in a 360 degree round of angles. Making the turn slow as if to underline her sarcasm. "A bit difficult to take bearings when there's no structures. No landmarks." She turned her piercing gaze back to him. "No nothing."

Jayne scowled and spat into the sand at his feet. "We been set up, Cap. Let's move on."

He did not move. "Can't. Took half pay up front."

That surprised the big man. Everybody turned to stare at the Captain. He felt uncomfortable under their scrutiny. Zoe raised her eyebrows, her voice flat and calm. "And you didn't think to mention this, why sir?"

"Told you I agreed and took some money up front. Why is this a problem?"

"You didn't say half, sir."


"Nobody puts half up front, sir. Ten percent, maybe fifteen if to sweeten a deal. Not fifty percent."

"Maybe she feels she owes us."

Jayne snorted. "On'y thing Patience owes us is a bullet in our brains."

"Well that lets you out then." Quipped Wash.

Jayne spun to face him. "You wanna go little man?"

"We're in the middle of No and Where, where you gonna go, Jayne?"

The Captain was looking off in the direction of the single sun, eyes squinting, body appearing relaxed. Ruby stood by his left leg, just close enough for her shoulder to be touching. As long as she was in contact with him she was content. As if all was right with her world. No sound passed the dog's open mouth beyond a quiet laboured panting in the heat of day. Hotter still because of the tailored heavy vest she was wearing. The dark blue material padded her sleek muscular shoulders covering her throat, chest and belly as well as her back. Inara had done a beautiful job crafting the fit. The original vest carefully picked along the seams so that it could be redesigned to mould to the dog's unique frame. It had to fit her like a hand fits in a glove. That was the Captain's stipulation. The vest was lined with silk from one of Inara's pillows. That idea had been River's. Inara had not thought to question her, the girl insistent that without the silk the vest was useless. It made no sense but then little in this 'verse did. So Inara had made the vest to the Captain's specifications and Kaylee had made sure the special packing was distributed where the dog would need it most for protection. They had wanted to ask a pile of questions at the time but one look at his tight lipped face had stilled them before they could form on their tongues. Only their busy hands had made him relax enough to smile. Kaylee thought the finished article a handsome fit even if she did say so herself. She had never heard of anyone making a bullet proof vest for a dog before. That it was at their own Captain's behest was even more surprising. A tiny smile curled her lips just thinking about it.

Ruby stood as patient as the sands of time themselves. She waited only on the Captain's orders to move or be still. Zoe found herself taking them in as a package, surprised how quickly she had adjusted to accept the presence of the dog simply because Mal did. She watched him now. Arms crossed over his chest as if he was waiting for something. She knew that stance. Knew inside he was as wired as the rest of them, but years of bracing unblooded troops had given him the ability to calm and lead by the appearance of relaxed confidence. A confidence bought with a will of iron. A manner that inspired faith in those that followed him. He did it now. It was not enough to be the Captain. He had to act like the Captain. Anything less would simply be short changing his crew. Even though no one was happy about the situation that had brought them to Eros they all took their lead from him. No one inclined to mutiny just yet.

It was the dog stiffening at his side that alerted the Captain. His gaze shifted. He did not even have to look down at Ruby to know where to look, the slight pressure on the side of his leg told him all he needed to know. Tuned into that subtle pressure he looked where she looked. He murmured softly, not for the dog but for the benefit of his crew. "Nine o'clock, edge of the highest dune. See 'em?"

Zoe squinted and followed his direction. Saw the light spray of dust in the distance and shaded her eyes the better to see clearly. "*Tamade*, there must be at least twenty riders."

"Looks like." Said Mal calmly.

She shot him a look. Eyes narrowing with suspicion. He was entirely too relaxed and she did not like the fact that the Captain had not taken his gun out of its' holster. "Sir?"

Keeping his eyes on the horizon he answered her. "Yeah?"

"What's going on?"

A prolonged pause. Still he did not turn his head in her direction. "Told you."

"I'm not talking about the official story." She said quietly.

He could feel the sweat sliding down his neck. A tremor of ice in his hot veins. "Ain't nothin' to add, Zoe. We'll have answers soon enough."

"Don't like this, sir."


Zoe paused. Frustrated when he did not say more. "If Patience has rifles they can pick us off before they come close enough for our handguns."

"That they could."

His mild response worried her more than she could say. Had they been alone she would have called him on it but with the others listening intently she held her tongue. Captain had never let her down before. She prayed he would not do so now. He carried on watching the distant dust of horses' hooves, judging how far away they were. How long they had. He turned to look at them. His crew.

"Now I'm needin' obedience and no questions, *dong ma*? Anyone got a problem with that?"

No one spoke, all waiting for him to cut to the chase. He gave a tight nod then looked at Wash. "Wash you get Serenity ready for lift off. Everyone else hop on board."

A big smile of relief spread over Jayne's face. "Yeah, let that *pofu* eat our dust."

"Soon as she's ready to fly you take off."

Wash paused on the ramp, making the others pause with him. There was an odd tickling sensation in his back brain. "We just leavin', Captain?"

"That you are."

The firm flat tone of his voice had the pilot turning back to face the Captain. "You too?"

The Captain shook his head. "Not right now. Got some business to finish first." Alarmed Zoe and Jayne walked back down the ramp. The Preacher put a hand on Kaylee's shoulder to stop her following. Simon stared wide eyed from the shadow of the transport. At the top of the ramp River and Inara stood like mute statues. "We're not leavin' you, sir." Said Zoe. Her flat tone matching his.

"Not an option, Zoe. We want this to go smooth you have to trust me. I'll use my transmitter when I want you to return."

"Return?" Said Wash anxiously. One minute the Captain said he wanted Serenity to lift off with the rest of them on it now he was saying he would call them when he wanted them to return? "Where are we going?"

"We're not going anywhere." Said Zoe before the Captain could answer.

The Captain chanced a look over his shoulder, calculating how much time he had left. "Zoe you are minutes away from gettin' us all dead. Don't gotta tell you how unhappy that'd make me feel."

She flinched slightly. "Then give me one good reason why we should lift off and leave you to face Patience and her gang alone?"

He turned back to face her. "Ain't Patience comin'." The breath left her lungs. "But you told us..."

He shook his head. Had no time for this. "Didn't lie, Zoe. Patience gave me the job."

"Then who's that riding out to meet us?"


Deadly silence. Zoe nailed him with a look the others could not interpret. "Constance is dead."


Wash did not understand any of this. "Who's Constance?"

"Later, husband." Zoe paused, trying to wrap her brain around too many variables.

"Zoe," Said the Captain in a voice he rarely used. "Go now. Bottom line is trust. You got none in me say so, we take off then part company. Simple maths."

A pause. A very tight nod then Zoe snapped around and marched up the ramp making the others go with her. Her face was hard and expressionless as she nodded to the Shepherd to hit the button. With a hiss the ramp rose and shut with a dull clang then sealed. He stepped back and watched Serenity take off. No longer bothering to watch the approaching riders. He put the blocky transmitter to his mouth and pressed the switch. "You hear me, Wash?"

"Loud and clear Captain."

"Need you fast gone and out of sight."


"Do it or bury me now."

There was a little choked sound, the line went dead, then he watched as Serenity turned and rose swiftly cutting to a hard burn to take her up into the atmo.

* * * * *

As soon as they were high enough to be beyond detection from the ground, Wash turned to look at Zoe. Everybody had crowded onto the bridge. Silent faces bearing the strain through slow moving shock. Not quite able to grasp what the hell was happening or why. "Who's Constance?"

Zoe sighed. "Patience's daughter."

Everyone looked surprised. Jayne was scowling. "Patience can't have no daughter."

"She can and she has." Said Zoe wearily.

"But that means someone had to have..." The mercenary's words trailed off, failing him. He made a face, disgust only too evident. "Ugh, that is all kinds of unwholesome and unnatural."

"Just imagine a leaner, meaner, younger version of Patience."

"I'd rather not." Said Wash.

"Me neither." Said Jayne. "Why didn't the Cap tell us?"

"Because we wouldn't have gone along with this if we'd known." Zoe paused. A thought occurring to her. "Wash, I want you to check if we got any other transmissions before the Captain had his little talk with Patience."

"What am I looking for?"

"Something that don't add up."

Simon had a thoughtful look on his face. "You asked what was valuable enough here on Eros for Patience to want to hide it. And why she would ask the Captain to bring it back to Whitefall."

They all looked at him. Wash nodded. "Yeah, why?"

"What if it's not packages we're picking up but people?"


"Yes. What if Patience wants her daughter back?"

* * * * *

It was the low growl in the back of Ruby's throat that stirred the hairs on the nape of his neck. Mal turned and faced the fast approaching riders. They shimmered in the hot sands like a mirage only this one got more solid the nearer to him they came. It had been years since he had last seen Constance. He was not looking forward to seeing her again but a job was a job and they needed the funds a mite too desperately for him to get choosy. He kept reminding himself why he was letting this happen. Why once again he let Patience sucker punch him in the full knowledge of what would be coming if he took the deal. Sometimes he really was a dumb sumbitch. When he had wavered Patience had upped the ante. Put a full half of the money up front. She had never done that before and the look in her eyes told him she knew he was in no position to refuse it. Now he would have to suffer Constance rubbing his nose in it. As nasty and twisted as Patience was, she was no match for the sheer devious invention of Constance.

The swirl of riders churned to a halt not three feet from him kicking up a cloud of dust so thick that for a moment the Captain could not see or breathe. He closed his eyes and shook his head blinded as they swiftly dismounted, trying to clear the sand out of his throat and eyes just as several pairs of hands came out of nowhere and held him fast. Swear words tumbling from his lips as a gentler touch settled at his hips and began to undo his gunbelt. He did not see or hear Ruby, just the sudden cries and shouts of outrage that told him her teeth had found something worthy to sink into. His smirk was short lived as he heard her yelp, tossing off the slackening hands that held him to step away and break contact. However momentary.

"Keep your ruttin' hands off me and leave my dog alone."

The dust was settling now but fine remnants still swirled and filled the air like a fine gritty mist. The dust was kind to Constance. Smoothed and smudged hard edges and softened somewhat a face that never smiled and lips that only curled up in sardonic spite where a smile should have been. She was smiling now and it chilled him to the bone. Constance was ten parts predator, no part prey. "Dog?" She snorted in derision. "Mama always said you were too soft for this kinda work."

"Found you didn't I?"

"Only 'cause I wanted to be found."

That made him pause some. Too truthsome for comfort. While Constance could lie with the best of them she was subtle enough to know when the truth could be far more devastating. Rattlers stirred in the pit of his stomach no matter how much he tried to pay them no mind. "Why d'you want that when you an' Patience ain't spoke since the partin'?"

She stepped up close to him invading his personal space but there was nothing he could do about it. He could feel the rifle barrel digging in his back between his shoulder blades. No hand on him now but no gun at his hip either. He could not hear Ruby nor feel her comforting warmth leaning against his left leg. He hoped she was alright. That these gorram *hundan* had not hurt her. He did not dare look down. Not wanting to draw attention to her.

She stopped, facing him not six inches away. "My reasons are my reasons." Her breath in his face, her eyes locked like heat seeking missiles on his. He would have stepped away but the gun at his back killed the notion. He could feel the solid bodies crowding carefully round him, offering no way out. The look in her eyes not a friendly thing. He tried to still the inclination to panic. Things likely to get out of hand way too fast.

"What reasons would those be?"

A crafty disingenuous smile warped the austere planes of her unforgiving face. It was a strong face, long boned but with a harsh kind of beauty to it if you were looking for strength not sweetness. Angles not curves. Grim determination not resolve. Her eyes were dark brown and reflected no light dispite the harsh glare of the sun reflecting off the sand as if off a polished mirror. The glare hurt his eyes. He squinted at her and waited. Twenty to one were odds he did not favour. Foolish he might be but he had no death wish. She closed the last few inches, her lips skimming his lips to slide along his right cheek and taste him, her eyes still fixed on his though being so close sacrificed sharpness of focus. She was all kinds of intimidating. The only thing she lacked was man parts, all the woman in her poured into a mean and spiteful spirit that posed as female. Yet a long time back she had carried a kind of soft spot for him. Now he wondered if that was what would finally get him killed. Not a bullet but some sick version of revenge. It did not matter that he was innocent of any wrong doing. It only mattered that Constance had wanted Mal and he had thwarted all her efforts to have him. What Constance wanted she always got. No was not a word in her vocabulary. Now she was back. Had him where she wanted him and there was no rutting way she was going to give up that advantage.

She made no sign to her bully boys that he could see but he suddenly felt heavy hands fall on his shoulders and arms keeping him in place. Constance flicked her tongue out, licked his cheek slowly, her eyes watching intently for his reaction. Almost daring him to struggle, to do something stupid enough to make his a slow and painful death. He stilled and just stared back at her, not letting her quell him or subdue him with a touch. Letting her know that the control was his not hers. She spoke between languid flicks of her tongue, not touching him with her hands and not needing to. "I used to want you, Mal." Another longer lick of the tongue, all along his left jawbone, a slow wet trail that glided over his weather tanned skin towards his ear. He resisted the urge to shudder. She gloated. Knowing he was powerless was a wonderful feeling. "Time was I'd a done near anythin' for you had you been man enough to ask."

Man enough? Only a fool would touch Constance. And while he was a hundred times stupid he was no fool. Had enough smarts to evade her pointed advances and still take work from her psychopathic mama. For some reason Constance had considered that a betrayal not a rejection. He waited until he was sure he could keep his voice steady. Deaden the anger that threatened to spill over and fragment his will. "No need to be doin' this, Constance. Just doin' a job is all."

"Who says I want to go back to Whitefall?"

"You say no that's it. I leave, tell Patience."

"But then you'd only get half the money."

He felt something cold fasten its' claws inside his gut. The twist was more sickening that painful. How did Constance know that? Only way she could know was if she had been in touch with Patience but they were not supposed to be speaking. For near on eight years.

She paused at his distraction then drew her tongue around the shell of his ear, puffing her sour breath down the canal before sliding her hot wet tongue inside making him squirm inside. She sucked his ear lobe and kept teasing with her tongue, now gently tugging with her teeth, one hand drifting forward to rest upon his chest. Fingers splayed out to cradle the beat of his heart. Words huffing out of her busy mouth in quiet but firm pairings as if the words were holding onto each other for support. "What if....I don't... want to.... let you.... go?"

This time he closed his eyes and shuddered. The hand on his chest began to move, deft fingers slowly undoing the buttons of his shirt. Her tongue snaking in and out of his ear, her breath making him feel all kinds of creepy. This could not be happening. He had to get out of here, end this, but how? A cold cruel smile impressed its' image against his cheek as if she knew exactly what he was thinking and revelled in it. Inside he was furious, impotent with rage, trying hard not to feel the walls of dispair closing in on him. No rutting way was he going to let her bed him. Let her poison another well. Her hand began exploring. The blood rose to his face just moments before rushing down to his loins. Her other hand now pressing against the front of his thick cotton pants, stroking up and down then squeezing him until he was hard. He bit his bottom lip hard just as she worked his pants open and slid her hand down the flat of his stomach. He hissed. "Don't..."

She gave his ear a last lick then began to nip, lick and suck her way down his throat and over his chest. Her hand now kneeding him between harsh strokes, her tongue finding a nipple for her teeth to bite. He jerked and tried to move back but firm hands held him rock steady. Constance smiled and began to get a little lost in her play. Her hands doing things to him that should only happen behind closed doors. She gave a grunt and someone kicked his legs apart. He did not know if it was her or one of her minions. Right now he would have given anything he possessed to blow her rutting brain to pieces. If only he could find his gun and keep his gorram hands steady long enough to pull the trigger.

* * * * *

Everyone was crowded around the screen in Inara's shuttle. The cortex was a mine of information for them as knew how to navigate it. And Inara had some very useful friends. They read everything they could find about Constance. The Preacher crossed his arms over his chest and glowered silently at the screen. Wash was puzzled and looked sideways at Zoe's tight impassive face. "*Bao bei, wo bu dong*. According to this Constance has been dead eight years. Why would Patience be digging up her dead daughter?"

Jayne scowled darkly. "Maybe she ain't dead."

Kaylee's eyes widened with fright. "You mean... like a ghost?"

A comforting hand rested on her shoulder and gave a little squeeze. "No, Kaylee," Said Simon, shooting Jayne a frown of annoyance. "Perhaps the reports of Constance's death were just that? Reports." He looked at Inara. "Any eye witness accounts?"

Inara shook her head. She looked worried as she scanned the history file on Constance. "This woman was crazy."

"Huh," Said Jayne. "You only have to look at her moma to know that."

The Companion looked up, eyes concerned. She flicked a glance at each and every one of them. "I mean crazy as in sick. Twisted. A very nasty mind lurks in that head of hers."

"Then I hope she is dead." Said the Preacher.

Everyone stared at him. Simon raised his eyebrows. "Not a very Christian attitude, Preacher."

"The woman is more devil than human. Look at that entry." He pointed to a report of a small uprising on Clementine eleven years ago. Constance had *business interests* there. The uprising was cutting into her profit margin so she went in with a team of her henchmen and slaughtered every last one of the insurgents. After slitting the ring leader's throat she calmly drank his blood from the gaping wound while the workers stood in horror and watched. Afterwards she had grinned at them and asked if anyone else wanted to rebel. Not surprisingly no one did. She never had another uprising on Clementine.

"*Gos se*," Muttered Simon in horrified shock. "And we left the Captain to face her alone."

No one spoke for what seemed the longest time. River had a far away look on her face, no longer taking in anything on the scrolling screen while Inara accessed entry after classified entry. They read in silence. River tilted her head slowly, lost in thought, then looked up - her pale face like a piece of honesty with the outer skins peeled off so the milk white membrane of the plant shone through with ambient light. "Not a ghost. Not dead. Coming, coming closer. Fingers of ice and teeth of steel. Cold eyes and twisted heart bent on revenge."

Kaylee shivered. Simon put his arm around her. Zoe just stared at the screen not wanting to say how much River's words unsettled her. The description of Constance was too accurate for comfort.

"What," Asked Simon in a hushed and hesitant voice. "Do we do now?"

Jayne had no problem making a decision. He pumped the chamber of Vera and straightened up, ready for action. "Now we go back and get the Cap outta there."

"We're talkin' hours, Jayne, since we left him." Said Wash carefully. "If Constance is still alive he only had minutes at best. And Constance wasn't alone. That was a mighty big dust cloud."

"Don't you go countin' the Cap down and out, little man."

"And don't forget Ruby." Piped up Kaylee.

They looked at her, more pity than reassurance on their worried faces. Kaylee swallowed hard. If the ghost got the Captain what would happen to Serenity? What would happen to them all?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyiin)

*tamade* = fuck *dong ma* = understand *pofu* = bitch *bushi* = not so *hundan* = asshole/bastard *bao bei* = baby/darling *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *gos se* = crap


Friday, October 14, 2011 3:43 PM


Kaylee shivered. Simon put his arm around her.
So he can do something right!!! ;)
Ohh this is very good!:D worried about Mal... O.o


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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.