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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
"Trip and Malcolm enact the Captain's plan as the Enterprise finds itself engulfed on two fronts. Zoe decides a more subtle approach is needed for the rescue. Then fate takes a hand and everything quite literally goes to hell."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2381 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: No specific pairing.
STATUS: New. SEQUEL to "DIFFERENT WORLDS".
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "Trip and Malcolm enact the Captain's plan as
the Enterprise finds itself engulfed on two fronts. Zoe decides
a more subtle approach is needed for the rescue. Then fate
takes a hand and everything quite literally goes to hell."
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
* * * * *
"So do ya mind tellin' me how two people are supposed to kick the Klingons and those superior human lookin' people off Enterprise?"
Lt Reed could understand how his friend felt but there had not been time to form a committee. "First we have to get to sickbay." He paused at the intersection then veered left. Trip mumbled something inchoherent and followed him.
"I'll tell you when we get there, Commander."
Trip scowled but fell silent. He could feel the thrum of the engines through the metallic plating then sighed softly with relief when they reached the jefferies tube that would take them into sickbay. Lt Reed paused at the top of the inbuilt ladder and listened intently. Trip did not speak or try to hurry him. The fate of the crew rested on their shoulders. After a minute or two the Armoury Officer gave his friend a cautious nod and began to descend. Trip followed in silence. The reality of what they would be up against beginning to weigh heavily on his mind. So many people to protect. So many potential enemies who would care nothing about cutting them down without so much as a thought. He could not stop thinking of the Xindi and what had happened to Earth. His jaw tightened so much it ached but he did not relax. His mood darkening as his resolve hardened even further. Arriving in sickbay was almost an anti-climax.
Lt Reed emerged first. The bright lights of sickbay momentarily blinded him to the length of steel piping swinging in a swift arc for his head. Instinctively he ducked, not having sufficient time to warn Trip. The Commander emerged a half second behind the Armoury Officer. His cautious curiosity sent reeling into oblivion as the heavy pipe connected with the side of his head. Malcolm let loose a trail of colourful invective as the two objects connected with a loud crack and stared in horror as his friend's body crumpled to the floor. He stared at the blood pouring down the side of Trip's face. Malcolm reached out a trembling hand to check for a pulse, the thready rythym reassuring and worrying in equal measure. He raised his head and his phase pistol in tandum. Only prevented from discharging his weapon to deadly effect by the stricken look upon the Denobulan doctor's face when he realised who he had attacked. Shaking with reaction, Dr Phlox looked for a minute as if he was going to cry. Dropping the piping he quickly scrambled down beside the Commander, his normally confident and jovial voice trembling with shock and distress.
"I thought you were Klingons."
"If I was," Said the Lieutenant in an abrupt clipped voice. "You would be dead."
Biv's gentle hands shook. He tried to hide his distaste as he glanced at the metal cuffs Atherton Wing had insisted on. There was no headboard but a heavy ornate little curtain hanging on the wall at the head of the bed in its' place. The curtain was the width of the bed and the tapestry matched the colour of the room's furnishings. It was a hunting scene, an old one in rich but fading colours, with forests ancient and long extinct showing a depiction from Earth-that-was. The curtain was now open, both sides pulled back to reveal two large heavy metal rings set into the thick walls of the room. Captain Reynolds had his hands pulled above his head, each wrist cuffed and locked into the rings. Biv tried not to look at it but his eyes kept noticing and it disturbed him. This man was obviously of no threat to Atherton. Not in his current condition. So why subject the poor man to this? He could only think of one reason and that did not sit well with him. Memories of his own long and abusive association with Atherton increased the shake of his hands. Biv fought back the memories. Told himself that it would not be that bad this time. Lied to himself that this time Atherton would curb his flashes of anger and let the more human side of his nature temper his actions. Assiduously he cleaned the Captain's wounds and carefully dressed the ugly criss cross of cuts on his chest. The deeper cuts he stitched. Atherton allowed him to clean the partly severed ear and put a pad against it to staunch the loss of blood. He would not let him stitch it back on. Biv wanted to ask him about that decision but did not dare. A man's life hung in the balance of unstable and fickle passions and he had learnt long ago that the rich were not only seduced by power but also by the illusion of it.
Atherton Wing watched in silence until the doctor had done all he could. He could tell that Biv wanted to work on the damaged ear. He tilted his head and looked down at Malcolm Reynolds thoughtfully. "Wake him."
The doctor hesitated a fraction. "Sir?"
"I said wake him. Now."
Not daring to refuse the doctor carefully roused the unconscious man. Slow sluggish groans of pain leaking out of him as he began to rouse. Atherton felt a smug smile of satisfaction slide across his face and shook the Captain's shoulder to speed his return to consciousness. He blinked slowly. Struggled to focus.
"Ah, Captain Reynolds. So nice of you to join us."
He felt too dizzy to shake his head. Sound was warping like a badly tuned radio and kept fading and blaring distorting the words into meaningless fragments just out of reach of making sense. The voice though. That was familiar. Atherton watched the confusion on the Captain's face still as he frowned and tried to work out where he was and what had happened. The shattered pieces of the mirror began to fit back into place throwing back nightmare images that he was not yet ready to fully embrace. "Where am I?"
The frown deepened. Captain Reynolds blinked. His vision began to shimmer then resolve into blurry focus. He felt like *gos se*. "Where?"
"Persephone." Atherton paused. "Do you remember what happened, Captain?"
Gears shifted in Malcolm Reynold's mind. A jumble of memories surfacing punctuated with pain. "Atherton?"
The man was amused and pleased by the muted sound of surprise in his voice. "At your service, Captain."
Even in this predicament the Captain knew when he was being mocked. He flexed his hands and tried to bring them down to his sides only to realise they were held fast above his head. He looked up and saw the metal cuffs, the heavy solid rings of steel binding him. He jerked angrily on the cuffs sending shocks of pain shooting back through his body, his teeth gritted to stop himself crying out. Nasty thoughts began to collect and multiply in the rattly ruin of his malfunctioning brain. "I very much doubt that." He responded darkly.
Atherton laughed lightly. Oh, he was going to enjoy this. "You are on my private estate, Captain."
That surprised him. "What the gorram am I doing here?"
"Bleeding all over my bedding."
More confusion. "I am?"
Atherton could not tell if he was surprised to be told he was bleeding or that he was on Atherton's bed. Or perhaps it was the unlikely combination? "Yes. You have been injured. I had you brought to my estate to be treated."
That did not make sense to the Captain. Why would his enemy do that? And how did he get to Persephone? Last thing he recalled he was on Bounty. "Enough with the mind games, Ath. Where are we really? And why am I fastened to the gorram wall like some common criminal? Last I knew you were no gaoler. The truth now. No need to spare my feelings."
An ingenuous smile crept over Atherton's face. "I am telling you the truth, Captain."
A pause then thoughtful words slowly coalesced into dialogue. "O-kay, so we're on Persephone. Why, how and what the ruttin' hell for?"
Atherton Wing was pleased to note that the Captain was not only fully conscious but in command of himself again. He was looking more alert as the seconds passed. His question was not answered. Instead, Atherton turned his head to make eye contact with Biv and gave him a nod. The Captain was not aware of the non-verbal communication. While he tried to puzzle out what had happened, Biv threaded a surgical needle then began the slow painstaking task of stitching the partly removed ear back in place. The Captain's cries pleased his captor. Assuaging some of his anger and frustration at the many lives of Captain Malcolm Reynolds. The cries rose in intensity not volume, like partly muted screams as Biv worked. The images fired off by the doctor's touch taking him back to Niska's skyplex and reliving every second of torture inflicted on him by that vile man. Biv tried to hide how much it unsettled him to work without the use of anaesthetic knowing Atherton was enjoying this man's pain. He knew now why Atherton had wanted him conscious. Wanting the Captain to feel every stitch. To know that it was by Atherton's intervention alone that he was being put back together. Time enough later for the good Captain to find out that coin had changed hands to make it so.
There came a moment when the muted cries of agony stilled as the Captain adjusted to bear the pain in silence though his body twitched in reluctant response to the shiny dip and pull of the needle and its' coarse thread. Captain Reynolds looked calmly at Biv. Something rose from protected depths in those eyes and Biv could not look away. Rose to meet him and thank him for doing what he could to help. It stunned Biv. Made his hand falter. The Captain bit back a cry of pain and looked at Atherton. His blue eyes blackening with hatred. His only comfort was that Inara was safe from this *wangba dan*.
"Alright, Atherton. I'm takin' it that Black and Stone were under your hire?"
Atherton smiled down at him, his eyes moving from the Captain's face to his injured ear. Watching in calm quiet joy as Biv finished on the ear. He gave the doctor a tiny nod and the gaunt man moved back trying to hide the fear he felt bubbling up from his gut. He wanted to stay, to hover close in case the Captain needed him though he knew he could do nothing. A look of irritation surfaced on Atherton's face and Biv quickly went to the sink to clean the blood off his hands. It would not do for Atherton to detect his sympathy. Nor would his body respond so favourably to the caress of the whip as it had done in days gone by when a strong robust body bounced back and aided his healing. No. Today he was a man of rag and bone. A pathetic excuse for nobility bought and kept by fear and debt. Only the burning kiss of alcohol gave him any release from the tension of a life he loathed but was wedded to by force of circumstance. A victim of his uttermost folly. But this man. This man was strong still. Young, determined, resistant to the wiles and casual cruelty of his master. He did not think he could bear the thought of watching Atherton break him.
IN THE BLACK
In the darkness of space the strain and groan of metal twisting and pulling filled the silence as the exchange of fire ceased. The Klingon bird of prey had managed to dislodge the Alliance ship from where it had been docked to Enterprise and was now docked in its' place. The second bird of prey hovered like a hawk above it keeping the Alliance ship from attacking Margon's vessel. Impatient and haughty. Laarg longed to obliterate the Alliance ship and Enterprise but they needed to capture Jonathan Archer. Capture not kill. The Council had been very clear about that. The hated Archer was the prize and that fact alone ensured the survival for now of both ships. If they destroyed the Alliance vessel now it would take Enterprise with it. Impatient, he activated the com again. "Margon! Answer me! What is happening?"
The silence stretched. Laarg peeled his lips back to reveal sharpened teeth, his face contorting in rage. "Something is wrong. Why doesn't he answer?"
Kentar, his brother, turned from the science station monitor. "Perhaps the other ship is aiding Enterprise?"
"Then we will remove it!"
Kentar nodded. Laarg leaned forward in his Captain's chair, his right hand fisted before him. Eyes burning. "Bring us in closer then drive that vessel away."
"We can destroy it."
"Not yet. It is too close to Margon's bird of prey and Enterprise. First we capture Archer then we destroy BOTH enemy ships!"
His bridge crew grinned back, the blood rushing in their ears at the promise of enjoining battle. Kentar glanced at his brother. "What of Margon?"
Laarg stiffened slightly in his Captain's chair then growled darkly. "Margon can take care of himself. If he can't then he does not deserve to be called a Klingon warrior."
Inara Serra stared at them as if they had all taken leave of their senses. "Whatever else Atherton is he is not a kidnapper."
Jayne sneered as he leaned towards her. The others crowded round him with grim faces. "It's true, Inara."
She searched their faces one by one. Zoe looked ready to crush anything that stood in her way. A darkness to her eyes that unsettled the Companion. A darkness she had seen at times in Captain Reynold's eyes. She did not want to think about the battlefields they had shared or the experiences that had put that look there. Dr Simon Tam looked concerned but equally committed. A strength in him that they had first glimpsed when they discovered what he had done to rescue his sister. A stern unremitting strength of purpose that she had not expected to encompass anything other than the sibling bond that was his lifeline to both sanity and his existence. When had that singular loyalty come to encompass the crew of Serenity? When had that determined will fallen into battle lines that included the Captain? The two had butted heads on a number of occasions and the men could scarcely be different but they shared a basic core of goodness that made them firm allies now if not friends. And Book the Shepherd. He still puzzled her though she trusted him. For a man of God he was wholly too conversant with the weapons of violence and destruction. More the avenger of God from the Old Testament of Earth-that-was than the man of peace he often projected. And Kaylee. Dear sweet Kaylee. The look on the young mechanic's face pulled at Inara's heartstrings. She did not deserve to see violence first hand let alone be part of it. But Kaylee adored the Captain. Had done from the first moment they met. It was a weird, child-like, instant leap of faith that for some reason had never been shaken no matter the terrible things that had happened to them or the Captain's somewhat mercurial temperament.
Inara turned her head to find River staring at her. The young girl unsettling in her sudden sharp awareness. She was the wild card in every sense of the word but Inara loved her as much as she loved the rest of them. They had become family in a 'verse where affection sometimes carried the deadly ring of steel. Nails in a coffin each and every one but she embraced that fact for the comfort it gave in the meantime. Knew she had changed too. Wash stood with his shoulder touching Zoe but hands on his hips. A firm horizontal line formed by lips compressed in a tight expression she was coming to recognise. Part of her lamented the loss of his light hearted banter and innocence. His merry soul muted by anger and a determination to make their family whole again. Whatever the cost. River's words brought Inara's attention back to the young Tam.
"He won't kill him. Not yet."
Inara went cold. "Atherton is not a killer." She said but her words had a hollow ring that made her heart falter.
River tilted her head. Pale face a sad detached glow. Eyes wide and dark. A pit full of sorrow. Seeing so many things. Not all of them in the present. "Yes, he is. But he kills in pieces."
Inara shuddered. Simon put an arm around River's shoulders. She was still looking intently at Inara but she looked detached now, her mind focused elsewhere. Her thoughts an echo of the seer's craft across the ages. "He has him in a strong place." She said quietly. In the silence they heard every word. Not one of them inclined to disbelieve her or interrupt. "Fortified. No towers but thick walls. No moat or drawbridge. Not Camelot. More like Mordred than Lancelot especially when he smiles." River smiled at Inara.
"That girl is downright creepyfying." Murmured Jayne.
Unable to answer Inara simply nodded. Wash looked at their stunned faces. "What are we gonna do? We can't leave him there."
"No," Said the Shepherd with quiet determination. He stepped forward and looked at Inara. "We will go and get him. But first I think Inara should make a call."
Inara blinked. "A call?"
A faint humourless smile dusted the Preacher's lips. Something was shining deep in his eyes that she could not grasp or fathom. There was a ruthlessness about the Preacher that obeyed the smooth control of his intellect. She had thought his faith contained him. At times like this she was not so sure. "I believe the Captain impressed Lord Warwick."
"I am not sure that he would be willing to intervene."
"Not sure is not no, Inara. Where is your faith?"
For a second she studied the Preacher more closely but whatever it was she saw in him told her nothing new. He was as much a mystery to her now as he had always been. She nodded gracefully. "I'll do it right away."
The Preacher nodded and watched her go. Wash gave Zoe a hug. "I'll set course for Persephone."
Zoe nodded back and glanced at River, her brow furrowing slightly before she left with Wash. Jayne sucked his teeth then turned and left at a brisk walk to get his weapons ready. Kaylee raced off to the engine room determined to get every last ounce of power out of the ship so they could get the Captain back. Simon kissed the top of River's head. She turned her face slightly but was not looking at him. Her eyes had gone glassy as she watched the Preacher. He was not looking at them and appeared for a moment to be lost in his own thoughts. "The avenging angel is fire and brimstone. His clothes are on fire but he will never burn." She whispered.
Her brother longed to ask her what she meant but at that moment the Preacher turned his head and looked at them. Simon felt the need to speak. Anything but stare into those suddenly empty depths. "Do you think Lord Warwick will help us?"
For a moment he did not speak. He was looking at River. Something in his eyes changed and when he looked at Simon he was the Preacher he had come to know. "Yes."
Simon was surprised by the unequivocal response. Curiosity tickled at his back brain. "How can you be so sure?"
"Because he respects the Captain."
"Atherton should have died at the end of the duel."
He was shocked. What with Book being a Preacher and all. "The Captain was being merciful."
"No." Said the Preacher firmly. "He was pressing home a point. He humiliated Atherton in front of his peers. The correct thing would have been to end it."
"You mean the Captain should have killed him?"
The Preacher nodded. Simon frowned.
"That's not a very Christian attitude."
"The Captain lost his faith on the battlefield. Remember?"
Simon watched the Preacher's face intently. "What about you?"
A faint look of surprise crossed those granite features. "Me? I'm a Shepherd, Simon."
"Yes, and I'm a doctor." He paused. "Did you lose your faith?"
"Sometimes. But God has a way of giving it back to you. Whether you want it or not."
On that enigmatic note the Preacher left him. Simon stared, trying to comprehend whether that had been a yes or a no. River tilted her head up at him. Her voice serious but light and musical. "More angels than demons."
He smiled down at her. "What?"
She smiled back and gently touched his cheek with one hand. Her fingers a cool brush of skin that told him she wanted to connect with him. For him to understand. "Not everything is what you see. We all wear masks, Simon. Some of our armour is shiny but we can't see it for the dust."
Simon laughed gently and kissed her hair. "You make us sound like mediaeval knights River. From a tale of Earth-that-was."
"Only the clothes change, Simon. Look in the mirror and ignore what you see."
He hugged her. Not understanding but happy that she was safe. With him. "Come on, mei mei. Let's hope Lord Warwick will help us."
Captain Archer could not stop fidgetting. Travis Mayweather watched the deepening concern on his Captain's face and tried to be positive. "It's only been ten minutes, Captain."
The Captain shot him a look. Before he could answer Sub-Commander T'Pol spoke up. Her cool impersonal voice grounding them. "Actually it is 8 minutes and 42.3 seconds, Ensign."
Travis grinned and was relieved to see the Captain smile. "I am sure we are all grateful for that extra minute or so."
T'Pol arched an eyebrow and the tension on the bridge relaxed a little. The Captain looked at Hoshi. "Anything to report?"
She shook her head, a frown on her face as she tried to stretch her hearing to pick out anything usual from the cracking static. She touched her ear again then after a moment shook her head apologetically. "Sorry, Captain, but the Klingons aren't transmitting to us. I am picking up some background chatter but not enough to tap into their communications ship to ship."
He did not like the sound of that. "How many Klingon vessels are out there, Ensign?"
Normally the sensors would have told him that but they were off-line. Fortunately everything else was back on-line. A fact for which he was inordinately grateful. "Two at least Captain."
He nodded. "And that other ship?" He looked down at the still unconscious Alliance officers. Knew they would be waking soon and was glad Lt Reed had insisted on tying them up before leaving with Commander Tucker.
Hoshi shook her head. "Nothing. Either they are using a different system of com channels or they just aren't saying anything."
Just then all heads turned as a metallic sound indicated someone was coming out of the jefferies tube. The Captain relaxed when Lt Reed poked his head through. He frowned when his Armoury Officer stepped on to the bridge alone. "Where's Commander Tucker?"
"In sickbay, sir. Dr Phlox was expecting Klingons."
The Captain frowned. Was about to launch into interrogation mode when Lt Reed uncharacteristically forestalled him. Time, after all, was of the essence. He began to pass out the rebreather masks to everyone on the bridge except the overpowered Alliance officers. "We don't have much time, Captain. While the Commander and I were making our way to sickbay we could hear pockets of fighting going on. It may be quiet now but there is no telling how long that will last or exactly what we are going to be up against. I gave Dr Phlox another two minutes."
Captain Archer nodded then put on his mask. Everybody did the same. Giving them a nod he watched as they activated the masks internal scrubbers. It was the longest two minutes of his life. Lt Reed did not wait for the doctor to flood the air with the chemical gas but quickly crouched down next to one of the Alliance officers and shook him hard to rouse him. The man glared up at him and began to make threats, his words suddenly tailing off when he noticed the Lieutenant was wearing a gorram mask.
"What are you rutting doing?"
Even behind the filtration mask, the Alliance officer could detect cool amusement tinging the steel of Lt Reed's tinny voice. "Taking back our ship."
Suddenly Enterprise jerked hard, a wicked shudder going through the vessel and causing all of them to mentally hold their breath. Why was it when you thought things could not get any worse they invariably did?
A smug smirk began to slide over the Alliance Officer's face. It was at that precise moment that the colourless gas hit him. Lt Reed watched with cold satisfaction as the man's eyes fluttered and widened in alarm. He groaned softly then collapsed unconscious. The Lieutenant checked his pulse. Captain Archer bent over him. "Well? Did it work?"
"Yes, Captain. He's out cold and his pulse is steady and strong."
The Captain felt relief go through him. He was not opposed to killing an enemy in battle but doing so in cold blood was something he could never sanction. "Let's hope it works as efficiently on the Klingons."
"Dr Phlox assures me it will be just as effective."
"How long will they be out?"
"Between four and five hours, sir. The doctor did not think it wise to make the mix too concentrated as our own people will be as affected as the intruders. As it is the after affects will not be pleasant."
He frowned. "Can't you be more specific about the time, Lieutenant?"
"Sorry sir, the doctor said it depended on a person's body weight but the minimum is four hours."
"Okay, let's set our watches." He broke off and set his watch to nought. All the bridge crew doing the same. When he looked up his expression was grim. "We don't have much time so let's get to it. I want every alien off my ship within the next four hours."
Travis's eyes widened. "You're going to space them?"
The Captain shook his head. "Not unless there's no other way, Travis. We're going to transport these intruders back to their own ships and get the hell out of here before they wake up."
Sub-Commander T'Pol had not said much since the whole idea had been mooted. "A neat trick if you can pull it off, Captain." She said drily, mimicking something she had once heard Commander Tucker say.
He gave her a grim little nod. This was one trick they could not afford to mess up. "Okay, let's get these men to the transporter room."
Willing hands were quick to make good on the Captain's order. The next shudder of the ship stilled any further conversation. The intruders might be unconscious for the next four hours but they still had to deal with at least three hostile ships. The Captain could only hope they were more reticent about blowing the Enterprise out of the sky with their own people still on board than taking odd pot shots at the starfleet vessel. The only person the Captain excused from this onerous duty was Lt Anna Hess. "Get back to Enginnering, Lieutenant, and be ready to go to maximum warp the minute the ship is clear."
Captain Archer looked at Sub-Commander T'Pol. Noted the elegant arch of her brow which seemed to mock the sense of his plan while at the same time acknowledging his determination to fight back. With a nod he turned from her and began to drag the first Alliance officer towards the door. The others copied his actions and as quickly as they were able they dragged the unconscious men to the transporter room.
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Madarin. Pinyin) *wangba dan* = bastard (lit. means 'turtle egg')
*gos se* = crap *mei mei* = little sister
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