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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
"While trying to fight the tightening grip of the Alliance, Captain Archer realises they are not in Kansas any more. Meanwhile the crew of Serenity have problems of their own."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2526 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "DIFFERENT WORLDS"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: No specific pairing.
STATUS: New. SEQUEL to "NECESSITY".
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "While trying to fight the tightening grip of the
Alliance, Captain Archer realises they are not in Kansas any
more. Meanwhile the crew of Serenity have problems of their
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
'Enterprise' and its' characters are the property of 'Paramount'.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
A "Firefly"/"Enterprise" story
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
Down in Engineering Commander Tucker sucked up a sigh of relief and leaned next to the com switch. "So ya have all weapons back on-line?"
Lt Reed's voiced sailed back crisp and clear. "Yes, Commander."
"Okay. Now this is what I want ya to do..."
The blow was unlooked for and connected with a loud crack to the side of his jaw. Captain Archer sagged back into his command chair. Travis started from his seat but with several weapons turned on him he had no choice but to abort any attempt at attacking their aggressors. Hoshi was afraid. Only Sub-Commander T'Pol appeared to be unphased by the unnecessary display of violence towards the Captain.
Colonel Arrim Matin gave a grim little smile. Eyes like pieces of flint struck sparks off whatever he looked at. He leaned towards the Captain. "Your pathetic lies will not save you."
He seemed to pause, waiting to see if Captain Archer said anything. When he remained silent the Alliance Colonel nodded slowly. "You may speak now. After which your ship, crew and contents will be forfeit to the Alliance. An arraignment for your transgressions and that of your crew will be..."
The Captain stiffened and glared at the Colonel. "We have done nothing wrong and you know it!"
"You are in Alliance space."
"I have no idea what the hell you're talking about."
The Colonel's eyes flashed much darker this time. "Your story is pathetic." He gave a humourless bark of laughter and began to pace the bridge. Short, bitter, truncated. A lot like the man himself. "You are obviously working for the rebels."
He was truly baffled now. "Rebels? What rebels?"
"Call themselves Independents." The Colonel sneered, turning to face him again. His words dripping with contempt. "Too dumb to realise the war is over and they were on the losing side." Another brittle bark. "You would have thought the wall of their butchered dead would have been hint enough." He concluded darkly, his words thick and slimey with malice.
Captain Archer truly began to hate the man. He had a sudden quick sympathy with the Independents. Whoever they were. People like Colonel Matin should be put down at birth.
"And your claim to be in the... What did you call it?"
"The Delphic Expanse."
"The Delphic Expanse." The Alliance officer shook his head. "There is no such place."
"Maybe not here, but..."
Captain Archer's words were halted by a sudden violent shudder as the NX-01 class star ship lurched from an impact. Colonel Matin turned angry eyes on his second in command. "What the rutting hell was that?"
The man listened to a voicecom in his ear. "Sir, we're under attack."
Fury blazed in the Colonel's eyes. "That is gorram obvious!" He glared at Captain Archer. "This is your fault you piece of rebel *gos se*. You have no idea of the trouble you are in for opening fire on an Alliance vessel."
Captain Archer could not believe what he was hearing. "That wasn't us."
"No but I'm willing to bet your Independent friends think they can bloody the Alliance nose and get away with it. You are about to get a true demonstation of our superiority."
Just then the lights flickered. There was another lurch as the vessel shook. Harder this time. Metallic sounds scratching the airwaves. A momentary sense of confusion then voices shouting and the lights came back on. The sight that greeted the Captain was heartening but only for a second. Commander Tucker and Lt Reed dropped down from the hatches in the roof and the bridge flooded with crew members from Engineering and the Armoury from the Jefferies tubes. A frantic exchange of fire at close range left injured on both sides but Captain Archer had the unmitigated satisfaction of stunning a startled and angry Colonel Matin with the phase rifle Malcolm threw him. Within seconds the bridge was silent. Smoke swirled in the air then people started speaking. The babble of voices releasing the pressure like a valve.
It was Lt Reed that restored a sense of urgency to the situation. Voices falling silent as he delivered his update. "Sir! We are under attack and not by these people."
The Captain just shook his head. Would this confusing day never end? "Then who is it?"
Commander Tucker was tempted to smile at him but his black eye was joining hands with his split lip so he put the dry humour into his voice instead. "This time Cap'n it really IS the Klingons."
SERENITY VALLEY - IN THE BEFORE
Smoke thickened the blood soaked valley. Pockets of soldiers held to their appointed tasks. Minds numb from the unceasing carnage they clung to the few simple orders that held them all together. They had to hold position. Reinforcements were on the way. Not long now and they would throw these Alliance dogs off their world. Remove the yoke from their necks and show them what it meant to be free. But freedom was more dream than reality and the nightmare had no end.
The noise of battle was shattering to both ear and heart. The eyes of the impossibly young looked out from dirt grimed faces. Old before their time they were children yet to him. His heart lurched. In more pain that the bullet wound in his leg or the graze that stung his cheek. "Hold firm! Reinforcements'll be here soon."
They murmured and went quiet around him. Still believing. Squinting out through gunsights that slipped through their greasy hands. Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds would be glad when this day ended. Too many had died where they had fallen. The first aid supplies had been an early casualty of the war. Food came a second best. They only ate what they stole off the enemy now. And then it was too little for too many. But whatever they had they shared and that was a source of pride to him. That even in the depths of dispair his people thought of one another. Hands reaching out to their neighbour. Friends formed in the mist of battle. Loyalties forged that would never break. He was so gorram proud of them. Yet so weary of war.
The room was richly furnished. His staff a busy bustle of practised calm. Voices silent or so muted that they did not penetrate his thoughtful gaze. Frowning now he made his way to the small well appointed room which held his captive. Only his most trusted personnel had access to this room and only when he called them. For now it housed a sole occupant. One whose life he held in his hands. Powerless and at his mercy. Was that not as it should be? His wish come true for the taking of it. Why then no thoughts of joy, of sweet revenge? Why the dry bitter taste of ashes in his mouth? Why did it all taste so sour? He sucked his bottom lip and tried to act as if all was going to plan only it wasn't. As he hesitated but a moment outside the locked door another question surfaced in his unwilling mind. What in the nine hells was he going to do with him?
Atherton Wing glanced at the man by his side. A singular sallow fellow who was in his debt many times over. Thin and gaunt looking with hollow cheeks and eyes that looked out of twisted retinas surfacing from an alcoholic haze steadied the blur of reality into a not so sharp but easier image to grasp. A man he had bought with redeemed debts. A man once skilled in medicine whose true talent had migrated to the sinking swirls of colour in assorted bottles. No bar was safe from his perusal. His hands shook in near constant agitation as the proof of it. But only when he was awake. Sleep, the mercy of oblivion, brought no such tremor on him. Now. Bleary eyed and wakeful he clutched his bag to his chest and gave Atherton a frightened nod. He was ready or as ready as he could be. Atherton uncoded the door and they entered. The lock settling back into its' random security on closing the tightening arc behind them. All appearance of normalacy ended the other side of that door.
Malcolm Reynolds lay swathed in blood and sweat. Not conscious but not lying still either. For some reason his restless pain drew Atherton closer. Stirring a dark unseemly pleasure that took secret delight in his agony even while another part of him was repulsed by it. Like some morbid curiosity, Atherton stretched forth a hand and touched a burning cheek. The Captain did not react. He watched soundless lips move and wondered what words they would have spoken. He knew he should kill him. That he could not afford to let him go. But he was still owed his pound of flesh and Atherton had not yet been paid. A war of emotions ruled him. Not yet in his cups he was sober and thoughtful. Mind racing to work out a way to both collect what he felt owing and divest himself of this unsettling situation. Yet as he watched he began to enjoy the sense of empowerment that flowed through his veins. Remembering how this man had humiliated him in front of Inara. To see this niave yet pretentious man brought low and at his mercy. It had a rightness to it. A piquancy he found beguiling.
The nervous doctor trailed a shaking hand towards the Captain's neck seeking the carotid pulse. Counting the seconds off in his head as he gauged the rate of his pulse, the strength of his heartbeat pumping blood through stumbling arteries while mounting nightmares took him. A thick sloughing of lifeforce oozing like a red slime from poorly tended wounds that would fester with infection if left untreated. The man was soaked from head to waist in blood. Atherton gave the doctor a level look. No emotion showing. "You will not let the Captain die, Biv. Not unless or until my word gives that notion substance. *Dong ma*?"
Biv dipped his head nervously, the better to hide his unhappiness. "*Wo dong*."
Atherton's eye roamed from the injured Captain to take in the rest of the room. Besides the bed, a small table and two well upholstered armchairs there was a small bathroom and sink. A shower cubicle but no bath. Heavy drapes curtained a generous window. The panes fastened in their iron grates in walls five feet thick. A castle in all but name. Air flowing through concealed vents blew hot or cold at his discretion. Fair guest room or prison it would rise to either occasion and it was so well situated that there was no easy access from the outside of his sprawling mansion. He had chosen the room well. No screams would penetrate to disturb the occupied parts of the house. And there was a cunningly concealed exit through a hidden hatch in the floor. Down through the basement and into tunnels which criss crossed this most secret part of Atherton's domain. He was nothing if not a cautious man. While liking to gamble he preferred only to gamble on a sure thing. Any outcome he could not control he walked away from. But not this time. Almost he had toyed with letting the Captain go but now that he was back on his own estate the affront to his person irked him anew. A blaze of longing for retribution sent the blood beating a restless tattoo in his temple. Yes. He would let Biv tend the man's wounds. Keep him alive while he thought of a suitable punishment. But he must not be allowed to escape either. His eye returned to the doctor. Noticing with pleasure that he had done nothing to ease the Captain's condition but waited for his next instruction.
"Clean him up."
Biv hesitated. A flash of irritation leaked into Atherton's voice. "What are you waiting for?"
"I.. I thought there would be some help."
"I need to remove the clothing. Wash out the wounds."
"Then I suggest you begin."
For a single moment Biv met Atherton's steady gaze. He swallowed and nodded. Understood. There would be no help. Atherton wanted this kept quiet. No witnesses. With shaking hands Biv undid the cuffs of Captain Reynold's shirt and slid down the suspenders to remove the blood soaked rag. He paused and caught his breath at the angry cuts criss crossing his chest. The blood in sticky congealed wads between the brighter rivers of red from newly reopened wounds. Moving him had torn the ruptured skin apart again and blood flowed in sick meandering arcs. The bed on which he lay was quickly becoming soaked. Neither man commented on it. Biv stood up and went to the sink. Washed his hands and began to roll up his sleeves. "I'll need bandages and more supplies, sir."
Atherton nodded. Not looking at the doctor but leaning over the tormented man. His whispered words fanning the perspiring cheek but not cooling him. "You will learn that it is not wise to cross me, Captain."
Again the lips moved but he could not hear his words. Atherton tilted his head and brought his ear close to make out the words but the soft mumble died away before he could do so. He frowned with irriation as if the Captain were deliberately thwarting him. Before he finished with Malcolm Reynolds he would know all his secrets. And whether he lived or died it would be by his own whim. First he needed the man conscious. Alive enough not to die on him before that decision was made. He looked at Biv. "Make a list of what you need and I will see that you get the supplies. When you have washed him down I want him cuffed."
Biv's eyes widened in surprise and shock. "Atherton," He chanced nervously. "This man is not going anywhere."
His captor nodded. A smooth cold smile touching lips that held no mirth. "Exactly."
They could hear fighting. The sounds of angry voices and the discharge of weapons getting closer to the bridge. Trip was worried knowing two distinct factions were fighting for control of their vessel. Right now the immediate threat on the bridge had been neutralised, the invaders lying stunned and unconscious on the floor. Two killed outright, four wounded. Only a couple of their own people had been injured and from the looks of it none of the injuries were serious. Much as he hated the Klingons they were at least a known quantity. He did not know what to make of the ones who looked like humans. Captain Archer was talking in an urgent undertone to Sub-Commander T'Pol and Lt Reed while Lt Hess kept her weapon handy should any of the people they had taken down return to consciousness. Trip was glad that they had not brought Toby with them. As keen as the man was he was too young and too eager to give a good account of himself. Trip was not sure that he would not have gone barrelling in half cocked just to prove to his Chief Engineer that he was made of the 'right stuff', whatever the hell that was. Several of Malcolm's team were systematically disarming the enemy. Sub-Commander T'Pol inclined her head as if listening intently to the Captain but as Trip turned his head her eyes fastened on his. He frowned slightly, trying to work out what that look meant. Was she trying to tell him something? If so why not just say it? Or was she warning him to keep quiet?
A thump on the door roused him from his reverie. Lt Reed nudged the phase pistol in his hand as if to indicate for him to get ready. Trip did not like this one bit. He glanced behind him and was relieved to see that Travis was armed. Hoshi looked nervously at the weapon in her hand and Trip hoped she would not have to use it. Forlorn hope that it was with the enemy beating at their door and no way of knowing how bad things were in the rest of the ship. What communications they had were now off-line thanks to the dual assaults from the Alliance vessel and the Klingon bird of prey. He wondered if it was the one vessel or all three. Somehow the numbers no longer mattered. Lt Reed indicated the jefferies tube. "Come on, Commander, you can day dream all you want once we have our ship back."
The Captain now crossed the bridge to join them. He put a hand on Trip's shoulder and he noticed the Captain was bleeding from a cut lip and right cheek. The bruising was already starting to come out. "You okay, Cap'n?"
"Fine, Commander. I'll be even better once we get these people off my ship." He paused, glanced around the bridge, then nodded to his friend. "Go on. Lt Reed will explain the plan as you go."
Not quite sure what sort of plan they had come up with in such a short space of time Trip wanted to demand more information but the expressions on his friends' faces told him there was no time. Trusting them he scrambled after Malcolm and felt a pang of guilt as they slid the cover back in place. Leaving some of his and Malcolm's people trapped on the bridge with the Captain. Lt Reed knew what he was thinking and paused to hiss in his ear. "It's okay Commander, this is the Captain's idea."
"Divide and conquer."
Trip snorted. "What? All *two* of us?"
Impossibly, Trip heard wry amusement in the Lieutenant's voice when he responded. "Where is your sense of adventure, Commander?"
The Klingon bird of prey had stopped firing but only because they could not tell what damage if any they had inflicted on the strange floating structure that was the Alliance ship. The blocky design made it look more like a building in space than a ship. Seeing it docked to the Enterprise they had been reluctant at first to get too close, wondering what manner of trickery Captain Archer had planned for them. Karaan shook his head, his mane of black hair making him look wild and unhinged. "Why don't they answer?"
Margon snarled as he checked his instruments. "Perhaps we damaged their communication system?"
"I would rather have their weapons off-line."
Margon swore in Klingon. "I have never seen this kind of ship before."
"Then take a good look, Margon, because you will not be seeing it for much longer." He paused and the two shared satisfied grins. Karaan settled back in his chair and gave the order he loved the most. "Fire!"
The first volley was met with rapid return fire of a kind they had never seen before. The Klingon vessel shuddered. A fierce exchange of fire followed, explosions ripping through the consoles on the Klingon battle bridge. Just as Karaan was on the point of withdrawing a light flashed on his console. He hit the communication button to open a channel, the voice of Laarg filling him with a renewed lust for battle. He smiled. "Where were you? We thought you had got lost."
"No," Came Laarg's unsettled response. "Whatever this place is Karaan it is not in our database. Let us finish the battle and withdraw."
"Not until we have Archer."
"Is Tarak's vessel with you?"
"I lost him in this black hole. Do you know where we are?"
Karaan threw back his head in a lusty roar. "I know all I need to know, Laarg. I am within minutes of destroying the Enterprise. When we return with Archer we will be heroes. Next time we meet it will be to toast our victory with blood wine!"
Black did not know what had hit him. One minute he was swaggering off to make the rendezvous with Stone and pick up his money, the next he was lying on the metal deck of a Firefly class transport with some pretty pissed off people glaring down at him. Only when the big one threw his hood back did he recognise them. That bit of information made his gut twist with trepidation. He knew he was in deep *gos se* now.
Jayne leaned down and grabbed Black round the neck, hauling him unceremoniously to his shaky feet. Simon got a chair and placed it next to Black but any hope he had that it was a solicitous act vanished when he saw the look in the young man's eyes. That sense that all was definitely not going in his favour quadrupled when Simon brought his hand into view, the syringe setting off so many alarm bells inside Black's head that he was all but deafened with panic. "What's that?"
The man blinked. Confused, worried and expecting to see his life pass before his eyes. Jayne put a hand on Black's shoulder, keeping him in the seat while Simon began to roll up the man's right shirt sleeve. He was beginning to hyperventilate now. Zoe crossed her arms and just glared at him. "No, no, this ain't right. You can't drug me."
Zoe's expression was as hard as granite. "Watch us."
"Why should we care what you want, *ben dan*?" Growled Jayne. "You took our Captain and now it's payback time."
"Wh..wh..what do you want?"
Jayne leaned close to Black. So close he could smell the sweat forming in his glands a second before it beaded his face. "We want to know where Captain Reynolds is. Who hired you and what they want with him."
The man was really losing it now. The fear like a naked flame in his eyes. "You're too late."
Zoe took a step forward. "Not really the answer we wanted to hear." She said with deadly calm.
Wash wanted to pull her back but knew she would be furious if he intervened. She would do whatever it took to get the Captain back. Anything or anyone aiming to step in the way would suffer the consequences. All of which would be incredibly painful. Life threatening even. Swallowing back the taste of bile in his throat he willed himself to stay calm. He wanted Mal back as badly as the others did but he did not want to be a witness to torture. It brought back too many terrible memories of Niska. Made him whimper inside with the pain and horror of it. Mal had been there too. Made things go easier for him by distracting Niska. Zoe had bought Wash's freedom at a price and the Captain had paid it. Now he was in trouble and needed them there was no way they could or would back down. As messy as it might get Wash was determined not to be the weak link. These men had taken the Captain. Who knew what was happening to him? And what did Black mean when he said they were too late?
The answer when it came stunned them more than anything they could have imagined.
They were in a duct. Tight enough for one. Damn claustrophobic for two. Both were sweating heavily and trying to move as quickly and quietly as they could. Commander Tucker blew out cheeks red with exertion. "How much further, Malcolm?"
The Lieutenant was huffing as much as the Commander but somehow managed to look and sound a lot cooler. How did he do that? They paused when the ship trembled around them. The men exchanged worried looks and tried to move faster. "We should reach the intersection in another...." He paused a moment. "Twenty five metres."
Trip shook his head and droplets of sweat flew off him. Malcolm made a face but said nothing. Trip did not have room to raise his hand and brush the moisture out of his eyes. "Kind'a precise for a guess."
Lt Reed jerked his head forward. Trip had to twist to see. "It wasn't a guess."
He could clearly see the intersection now. Only his profound relief stopped him chipping in with a sacastic comment. "I sure hope this plan of the Captain's works, Malcolm."
"So do I, Commander. So do I."
CHINESE GLOSSARY (Mandarin - Pinyin):
*gos se* = crap *dong ma* = understand *wo dong* = I understand
*ben dan* = moron (literally, 'bad egg')
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