NO DOMINION: 12. "Respite"
Thursday, September 4, 2003

"With the crew of Serenity reunited there only remains the tricky question of how the hell Captain Archer and his crew are going to get back to the Delphic Expanse."



SUMMARY: "With the crew of Serenity reunited there only remains the tricky question of how the hell Captain Archer and his crew are going to get back to the Delphic Expanse." 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

* * * * *


Captain Reynolds lost consciousness before they could get him to sickbay. Simon hovering over him anxiously and lamenting the blood loss from re-opened wounds. Biv watched quietly, no less concerned. His solemn eyes taking in everything. Captain Archer watched the little procession of faces and shook his head. Playing Devil's Advocat he stepped in front of Zoe, Jayne and Kaylee impeding their passage so they could not follow. Jayne looked ready to rip his head off and Zoe did not look much friendlier. Kaylee just looked upset. Jayne's frown deepened.

"Why can't we go in there with him? What ya tryin' to hide?"

"I'm not trying to hide anything but this is the sickbay and Dr Phlox can't work with everyone in his way."

"Ya let Simon and that gaunt guy go in."

"Simon is a doctor, so I understand is Biv."

Zoe did not look at Captain Archer, her eyes were fixed straight ahead where the doors had swished shut behind him. They had stayed too long. Begun to get comfortable. It was always a mistake.

The Captain took a deep breath and tried to look sympathetic. "Look, I know this is hard. You don't know us that well but we do have your Captain's welfare at heart. He will be taken good care of and as soon as Dr Phlox says he can have visitors I'll let you know."

"Said he was stabilised." Muttered Jayne darkly as if the doctors on Persephone had deliberately lied about their Captain's condition.

"I'm sure he was but Captain Reynolds was pushing himself. He should have been in bed resting not walking about pretending he hadn't been injured."

Jayne glared at him. "You sayin' its' the Cap's fault?"

Captain Archer shook his head. "No, and I apologise if it sounded that way but he should have been resting and that is a fact."

Kaylee sniffed. "He gonna be alright?"

"Yes, he just needs taking care of. Dr Phlox will examine him and probably give him something to make him sleep."

The mercenary snorted. "Do that an' you'll make the Cap real mad."

Just then Lt Reed came walking briskly towards them with a couple of armoury officers in tow. Inwardly Captain Archer sighed with relief. "Lieutenant, I want you to post two guards outside the infirmary. If anyone tries to enter without my express authority throw them in the brig."

Shock was palpable on all their faces. Zoe had hardly said a word but now her gaze shifted from the door to Captain Archer. Something dark and implaccable settling behind her eyes like a sniper taking position over enemy territory. Her voice when she spoke was calm, cool and set in steel. A hundered percent deadly. "You said your ship collided with us by accident."

Her words shook him. Woah, where did that come from? It sounded like a... "Yes, we went through a window, chute, whatever and came out in your universe not ours."

She did not blink. Her dark liquid eyes fastened on his like limpet mines on a target. "Hardly seems likely."

The tone was flat. Not accusatory in and of itself but telling nonetheless. She didn't believe him. He felt Lt Reed stiffen at his side. Knew the man was armed and for a moment he was grateful for his obssessive paranoia. "Everybody just needs to calm down. As soon as Dr Phlox has examined your Captain we'll be able to give you an update."

"Don't much care for updates." Zoe continued. "One of us needs to be with him."

Captain Archer started to shake his head. "I'm afraid I can't allow that...."

Zoe flicked her coat back, her right hand settling on the butt of her handgun. "Don't recall askin'."

Quickly he shoved an arm across Lt Reed's chest to prevent him drawing his phase pistol. This was getting out of hand real fast. He could now see the Shepherd walking up behind Kaylee and Jayne. Seconds later Inara and Wash came and stood behind him. Captain Archer swore under his breath. It was the Preacher who spoke next. "What's going on, Captain Archer?"

He repeated what he had told the others and waited for the man to yell at him or make thinly veiled threats. To his relief the Shepherd did neither.

"You have to understand Captain Archer, in our 'verse trust is a very expensive commodity. Highly sought after and very rare. We don't know you. Taking our Captain and keeping us from him is eroding the little store that we had built up between us. You do see that don't you?"

He nodded. "Of course."

"Captain agreed to come and look at your facility, should have been enough for you." Said Zoe.

"He collapsed. We had to do something."

"Yeah, well we have our own doc." Sneered Jayne angrily.

The Shepherd moved up slowly and put a hand on Jayne's arm. Though the man still glowered he did let the Preacher move passed him. Now he was standing next to Zoe. Wash stood next to Kaylee and put a hand around her shoulder. The poor girl was trembling and looked ready to bolt. At that moment the door behind Captain Archer swished open and Simon walked out to speak to them. His face was pale and he looked harried. He looked at all the tense faces. "It's alright, the Captain's going to be fine. I'll be staying with him so there's no need for any of you to worry. Go back to Serenity and as soon as I have more news I'll let you know."

Zoe looked at him hard. "What happened?"

"He tried to do too much. Re-opened the wounds on his back. Lost too much blood and passed out. It could have been worse. At least there's no infection." He paused, a small smile quirked a tired mouth. "You know how he is, Zoe. Too stubborn for his own good which is why he's got us, *dong ma*?"

She relaxed. Even managed a ghost of a smile for him. Her hand moved away from her gun butt letting the flap of her coat fall back into place. Everybody visibly took a deep breath and began to relax. Jayne grunted, straightened up then headed back the way he had come. All of a sudden he didn't like this ship any more. Didn't like the fact that their boat was stuck in the landing bay like Jonah in the belly of the whale. It was too much like a gorram Alliance cruiser for his liking. All that spit and polish of bright metal. Not a lick of dirt on anything. Didn't seem natural for a working vessel to look so clean. Made a man nervous.

An hour later Captain Archer found Trip in the mess hall shoving mashed potato and steak into his mouth. He wrinkled his nose in appreciation at the smell of the mushroom gravy it was swimming in and smiled. Trip looked up mid-swallow. "Tough day?"

He sighed. "Nearly had a war on our hands." Seeing Trip stiffen he quickly explained. "Our visitors were all ready to start firing those ancient weapons of theirs and all because their Captain is in our sickbay."

Trip frowned. Puzzled. He took a gulp of his coffee before speaking. "They didn't seem like trouble to me."

The Captain gave him a look and Trip felt a slight flush rising up his neck.

"Hey, that's not fair! All those things that happened to me could'a happened to anyone, ya know that."

"They just happened to happen to you though." Said the Captain, his lips tugging up slightly.

His Chief Engineer scowled and the Captain dropped his baiting. He had bigger problems on his mind.

"Where's T'Pol?"

"She went back up to the bridge to see if she could find anythin'. Not that there's a snowball's chance in hell of findin' anythin' in a sky with no points of reference if ya take my meanin'. This whole thing's gettin' beyond a joke, Cap'n. We gotta find our way back."

"I know Trip and we will. Perhaps if we can retrace our route we can..."

"What? Re-thread the needle? That's an awful slim hope, Cap'n, an' ya know it."

"I'm open to suggestions."

Trip pushed his plate away. His dinner half eaten. He was no longer hungry anyway. Captain Archer watched as he ran his hand back an dforth through his hair. he gave a deep sigh then stopped. Froze for a moment. When he looked up the Captain saw a gleam of something in his eye. "Open to suggestions, huh?"

The Captain nodded and waited. He knew that look.

"We don't have anythin' on our star charts 'cause this ain't our universe, right?" Another nod. "But this universe is full of other folk. Like Cap'n Reynolds and his crew. They have to have star charts for this place. Come to think of it didn't they use some kind of navigation to plot the course to Persephone?"

He watched his Captain's face begin to light up. "That's right, they did." Then just as suddenly as the hope sparked in his eyes it fell flat. He was remembering the tension outside sickbay. The anger, the suspicion. The accusatory looks. He sighed. "Somehow I don't think our new friends are feeling too trusting right now, Commander."

Trip nodded as if he had been expecting that. "Let 'em sleep on it."


"They're worried about their Cap'n, can't blame them for bein' loyal and nervous. By mornin' things'll look better, ya see if I'm not right. Cap'n Reynolds will have had a good night's rest, everybody will be a lot less itchin' to start a firefight. Might even be ready to listen to reason and perhaps help us out. How's that sound to you, Cap'n?"

Captain Archer gave his first real smile in hours. "Sounds like a plan!"

* * * * *

The dimmed lighting did not wake him. Nor the odd disjointed squeaks and chitters of Dr Phlox's medical menagerie. No. It was the distinct feeling that he was being watched. Like an itch he could not scratch. It started at the back of his neck and kept moving. He opened his eyes the barest crack, careful to keep his breathing even. No tell tale movement now. He resisted the temptation to frown. Where the rutting hell was he? He felt something touch him, a hand resting gently on his forehead. A cool soothing touch to his fevered brow. He must have twitched or something because soft words floated down to his ears. "I know you're awake Captain but we can pretend you're not if you prefer."

He opened his eyes and waitd for them to adjust though he had recognised Simon's voice instantly. "Where the gorram am I?"

Simon Tam smiled. Took his hand away and reached for a small flannel that was lying in a bowl of cold water on the small table beside him. He wrung it out and folded the flannel then placed it on the Captain's forehead. He closed his eyes and absorbed the cold wetness of the cloth relieving him of the heat. It felt wonderful. "You're in sickbay on Enterprise. You know, they did offer to let you have a walk around and take a good look. You didn't have to collapse to do it."

The Captain's eyes opened again, he squinted up at Simon. "Ha, ha, very funny. Shouldn't you be wearing a red nose and big flapping feet? The kind you can stick in your mouth every time you open it?"

If anything the doctor's smile widened. Simon was sitting on a stool next to the biobed. He crossed his arms and looked amused. "Someone's feeling better."

The Captain grunted non-commitally, was about to say something when Dr Phlox came to see what all the commotion was about. He gave the Captain a huge v-shaped grin, his merry eyes twinkling with genuine warmth and pleasure. Happy to see that his newest patient was wide awake and holding what appeared to be a coherent conversation. As soon as Mal saw him he yelled and almost rolled off the bed in a bid to get away from him. Simon put a hand on his shoulder. From his seat in the corner Biv rose and came to stand on the other side of his bed. The Captain wondered if the poor man ever slept. "It's okay Mal, this is the Enterprise's doctor." Biv explained gently.

Wild eyes flew from Biv's face to Simon's. Sure he was trapped in some kind of gorram nightmare. Dr Phlox smiled benignly. "It's quite alright, Captain, I'm not offended. I'm a Denobulan. I had much the same reaction the first time I saw a Human."

Captain Reynolds was slowly calming down though he had to admit the Denobulan was a creepifying sight. "Huh, seems this 'verse is full of clowns."

Dr Phlox chuckled. "In that case would this clown like something to eat or does he want to go back to sleep?"

* * * * *

Morning was something of a relief to everyone. For a start Captain Reynolds got to see his crew. They filed in kind of sheepishly which made him suspicious that something had happened and they had not got up the courage to tell him. For another, the creepy doctor had put him inside some body scanner then been using something called dermal regeneration to knit and heal his wounds. He had been pretty freaked out at first, the scanner being so coffin like and all. Gave him flashes of Tracey and that gorram box he'd mailed himself to him in. Never wanted to see a thing like that again. But the best bit. The piece of magic that almost made him want to hug and kiss the weird guy was the job he did on his ear. He could not stop touching and bending it. Unbelievable! No painful hopscotch of rucked up skin where the ear had been roughly reattached by Biv without anaesthetic and thread as thick as strips of cowhide. No. This job was so neat you could not see the join. Honest. Would this face lie? Well. Forget the lying, a man had to do what a man had to do and it was an unforgiving 'verse.

Zoe looked relieved. He was better than she had expected though Simon would not let the Captain sit up. Kind of odd she thought with all those wounds across the Captain's back. But then she was no doctor. Not no nurse either. But she was here. Had to check on her Captain. Make sure these starfleet people weren't trying to pull anything over them. After the jitters of last night she wasn't taking any chances. Even Jayne looked relieved. The Captain lay back on a couple of pillows and looked at the little sea of faces crowding round his bed. He could not keep the silly smile off his face. Wash beamed back, enjoying seeing the Captain happy for once even if it was just the drugs. Zoe looked at Simon while Kaylee clutched the Captain's hand, her little face lit up with joy.

"What did you give him?"

Simon looked nonplussed. "*Shenme*?"

"The Captain. What drugs did you give him?"

"Oh, he's not on drugs. At least not now. We had to heavily sedate him last night." He did not tell her why. Figured it was best to keep that little embarrassment to themselves.

Zoe gave the Captain a wary look then gazed at the doctor as if trying to detect a lie. "He's smiling."

Simon nodded and looked damn pleased with himself. "Well yes, he is."


"Why don't you ask him?"

She looked at the Captain and sighed. "Sir?"

Zoe had to repeat herself - twice - before he looked up from Kaylee. "What's up Zoe?"

"You're smiling, Sir."

The smile became a grin. She frowned. Now that was downright creepifying. "Yep, guess you caught me out Zoe."

"Why, Sir?"

He twisted his ear and wiggled it. Her frown grew. Puzzled, Wash leaned in close and took a good look at the Captain's ear. A big grin slid across his face. He pointed at the Captain's ear and grinned at Zoe. She was going to kill them both. "Sweetie, look! They mended Mal's ear."

She bent down and took a look. When she straightened up again she was a bit stunned. The Captain grinned at her. "You can't see the join! And Zoe, my ear don't buzz no more. How about that?"

"Stunning, Sir." She deadpanned in a flat emotionless voice. Yep. They were both going to die.

* * * * *

It took three days. Three days in which the two crews veered from being big gorram friends to having the biggest most orneriest fight in the history of space flight. Serenity's crew were on edge because even though the Captain was making remarkable progress Dr Phlox and Simon wouldn't let him out of that shiny sickbay. The Enterprise crew were uptight and getting more ansty because they had to get back to the Delphic Expanse and the sense of time running out was not improving tempers. Trip tried to calm folk down, put a light spin on things but even he found the whole thing wearing. It was with a huge sigh of relief that he greeted the news that Dr Phlox had finally agreed to let Captain Reynolds out of sickbay. To celebrate the event Captain Archer had insisted that they all had a sit down meal in the mess on Enterprise. Considering that the last meal had been on Serenity no one could really complain and this way more of the Enterprise crew got to meet and mingle with Mal and his crew. Inara had politely declined the invitation and taken River aboard her shuttle. Simon felt guilty leaving her there but Inara insisted he go and join the others. River had smiled sweetly at him and kissed his cheek, shooing him out and giggling when he hesitated.

Trip and Malcolm sat n a table at the far side of the mess hall and watched th epeople crowding in with a sigh. "This is a mad house."

Trip nodded. "Ya said it, Malcolm. A coupla days ago you couldn't give some of this food away now everyone who ain't on duty wants to line up for the leavin's just so they can sit an' gawp."

The armoury officer chuckled drawing Trip's eyes away from the crew of Serenity who were currently being bombarded with questions and pleas for stories from every damn quarter. Even their Captain hd got in on the act, a fact which Trip found mildly amusing. Lt Reed suddenly laughed outright. "What's so funny?"

"Look at them. They look like extras out of some spaghetti western. What do they know about starships?"

"A lot more than us, Malcolm. Don't forget compared to them we just got here. Don't let the clothes fool ya. They've seen things I hope I never live to see." Trip shuddered. Remembering some of the stories Jayne had told him on Serenity.

"What kind of things?"

"Just 'things'."

"You mean like aliens and that kind of thing?"

"Nope. Accordin' to Cap'n Reynolds they don't have aliens in their 'verse."

Lt Reed thought about that. "No Vulcans?"

"Nope. No Denobulans or Klingons either."

That thought silenced them for a moment. Both of them thinking about their enemy the Xindi. Lt Reed resumed the conversation, his voice quiet and tone serious. "Do you really think they can help us?"

"The truth?" Lt Reed nodded. Trip sighed and looked across to the central table. "I don't know but if there is any kind of God out here I sure hope she's listenin'."

Malcolm raised his eyebrows. "She?"

Trip laughed and raised his mug of hot chocolate in a silent salute. "Long story."

They waited until the bulk of crew members had had their seven minutes of fame and drifted off to do other things. Soon there only remained Serenity's crew and the Enterprise command staff. Trip nudged Malcolm in the ribs and hopped down off the table. "Come on, Lieutenant. Let's see if they can help us."

Captain Archer looked up and smiled slightly as his Chief Engineer and Armoury Officer joined them. Trip gave them a wide grin. "Room for two more?"

He nodded and shuffled his chair over so they could pull two more chairs around the table. Trip looked at Captain Reynolds. "If ya don't my sayin' Cap'n Reynolds you look a sight better than ya did a few days ago."

"Thanks, Trip." He turned to Captain Archer. "You're 'unconventional' doctor does good work, Captain Archer."

"I told you to call me Jon."

He paused to let a smile settle on his lips. "Jon."

The two men nodded. Captain Reynolds held his gaze a few seconds then spoke in his quiet soft voice. "But that isn't what this is really about - is it - Jon?"

The conversation hushed. Trip realised the Captain of Serenity was a lot sharper than he looked. Not much appeared to get passed this guy. He looked sideways at Lt Reed and saw him nod slightly.

"No, it's not, though you are more than welcome to the food. To be honest I was wanting to ask you for your help."

Zoe was sitting in Wash's lap. He felt her stiffen but other than that she did not move a muscle. Simon tried to read the meaning behind Captain Archer's words but the subtext was not clear. If River had been present she would have been able to tell him in a heartbeat. Whether or not he would have understood her ramblings was another matter. Jayne scowled and watched to see what Mal would do or say. He had learnt the hard way to respect the Captain. Kaylee did not seem to notice any tension. She was happy and enjoying herself. She grinned across at the handsome Chief Engineer and felt a little flutter when he grinned back. Shepherd Book looked thoughtful but kept his own counsel.

"As you may recall we were travelling through a part of space known as the Delphic Expanse when we fell through a tear in subspace or a hole in the space/time continuum. Not sure what it was but it propelled us out of that part of space to this one. I'm not sure how much of your universe I can grasp to be honest, and tales that your Earth was abandoned 500 years ago because all the resources were used up is a little hard to believe."

"No more believable," Said Captain Reynolds calmly. "Than your story that 400 years in the future some alien race no one's gorram heard of is gonna wipe out the entire human race in a pre-emptive strike." He paused and looked straight at Sub-Commander T'Pol. "A fact that yoru science officer believes to be an impossibility."

Captain Archer looked surprised. When had Captain Reynolds spoken to T'Pol? He looked at her but her expression gave nothing away. A slight frown flitted across his face.

"Given that neither of us can entirely swallow each other's story," Said Captain Reynolds easily as he leaned carefully forward, elbows resting on his knees and every eye on him. "How do you think me and mine can help you?"

It was Trip who answered him. "Well sir, if this is your 'verse it stands to reason you know your way around here. Like my Cap'n says we don't. Don't have any charts nor anythin' to make this piece of sky familiar to us but I'm guessin' ya do. I seem to remember ya doin' some navigatin' to get to Persephone. When we somehow left the Delphic Expanse and ended up here we collided with your vessel. I'm wonderin' if there's some way you can backtrack to that point in time and maybe locate the area you were in when it happened? That'd give us a good idea where to start to look for a way back."

Captain Reynolds nodded, it was a good point and he liked the fact that the Chief Engineer had just come right out and said what he wanted. He looked at Wash. "What d'you think, Wash? Think you can retrace our path to the point of impact and help these folks out?"

Wash tilted his head a moment, thinking. He slid Zoe off his lap and they both stood up. His eyes bright and sparkling, eager to get on it. "Don't see why not, Cap'n."

Trip jumped to his feet and looked at Captain Archer. "Is it okay if I go with him, Cap'n? Might be able to get a few ideas."

His Captain nodded and Trip fell in step with Wash and Zoe, the two men soon getting into an animated discussion on the pros and cons of time travel. Captain Archer smiled then watched as everybody started to drift off. Captain Reynolds did not move but gave him a look that said he wanted to talk. They waited until they were the only ones left in the mess hall. Captain Archer waited to find out what Mal wanted to say. He did not have to wait long. "Why didn't you just ask for our help?"

Captain Archer felt uncomfortable. "I wasn't sure you'd want to help us."

Mal raised his eyebrows. Surprised. "Oh? Why's that?"

"After you collapsed we took you to our sickbay. Your crew were not very happy about that. I don't think they trusted us not to harm you. It was pretty tense for a while."

"They were just bein' a little over protective is all."

Captain Archer smiled. "I can understand that."

He watched Mal get up carefully. Noted that though Serenity's crew had left the mess hall, their doctor appeared to be hovering just outside the doors.

"Looks like you have an escort waiting for you."

He turned his head, caught sight of Simon in the corridor and resisted the urge to swear. He parted from Captain Archer and as he stepped into the hallway noticed Simon was not alone. With him was a rather grim faced Shepherd Book. Mal frowned. "Why do I get the feelin' this isn't good news?"

"I think we should go back to Serenity Captain." Said the Shepherd.

Mal searched his face for some clue as to what was making the Preacher nervous. He looked at Simon. Simon looked sad. "We'd better hurry, Cap'n. It's your friend Biv."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*dong ma* = understand *shenme*? = what?



You must log in to post comments.



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.