Shadow War - Chapter Sixteen
Friday, April 1, 2005

Evil and servitude.


Red Veil chuckled gruesomely. "You have sent the message then?" Shang Yu barely held his dislike for Red Veil in check when he answered. "Yes." "Good! Knowing Malcolm Reynolds's reputation is a benefit in this case. Your sword should come to you in no time." "If he cares about this companion, have we not ired him to the point of action. I mean, look what he..." "There is not much Malcolm Reynolds can do with the pitiful crew he has." "He did enough to you at one point. Did he not?" Shang asked with a little mirth in his voice. He, as a rule, did not like beating women, but he hated Companions. In Shang's book, no one was better than him. And, registered Companions seemed to think they were the best at everything. His own mother had attended the academy, but did not become registered. She met and married his father and passed on much resentment to her only son. "The only thing Malcolm Reynolds did to me was harm my character. As you can see, I have rebounded solidly, and we are in the middle of taking care of him, no?" "Well, I hope the man you sent after him knows how to take care of himself." "There is no need to worry about Raven. His reputation is impeccable, as was his family's. And, he harbors no love for Malcolm Reynolds, I can assure you. Nor any member of Serenity's crew. Your sword will be returned to you in time." "I hope none of the atmospheric disturbances we have been seeing delays Inara's shuttle. It would be a shame for such a beautiful message to get lost." "She should be arriving soon, I am thinking."

* * *

Jayne, whose bleeding had already slowed, a sure sign that he had only been grazed, was still trying to puzzle out how he had been taken out so quickly. Recognition of this Raven character had been lost on him. He didn't see what Zoe and the Captain were getting so worked up about. But, it was enough to make Mal look a little afraid, and this scared Jayne mightily. For their parts, Zoe and Mal simply did as they were told, for now. If Raven's appearance here meant what Mal or Zoe though it did though, they would have to find a way out of this quickly. The alternative was scary, painful, and no doubt, messy. "Get to the infirmary" Raven grunted. "We must get the little girl here patched up." Jayne spun at being called a little girl. He was put down just as quickly as Raven punched him in the face and leveled his pistol at the other two. "No big ideas. I know what the lot of you are responsible for. Consider me a reminder of your debts that must be payed." Mal, who had tensed the moment Jayne turned around, ready to spring into action, simply raised his hands and continued. "You, and your boss's problem is with me, and me alone. Let my crew alone." "There is no alone. Red Veil wants very much to see you and certain members of your crew. I want the big one here for myself." Jayne gulped audibly. Kaylee, Book, and the Tams brightened when Mal and Zoe came in the room, frowned when Jayne came in with his bullet wound, and look terrified when Raven followed them. "No sword, then, I take it." Book said solemnly. "No sword, old man. Keep your hands where I can see them." Raven said. "Cap'n?" Kaylee said, terrified. "Easy Kaylee. This unpleasantness doesn't have anything to do with you. "He looks just like..." "Yeah, we've been over that." Turning, Mal said "Mister, what do want on this ship. I know we have somewhere else to be, so why are we here." "To the point, Captain. We must get the little girl here" he shoved Jayne" patched up. I have business with him beyond what I have already done." "Where is your medic?" Raven asked. And, with that, Mal heaved a sigh of relief. He didn't know abot Simon or River, which meant he wasn't there for them. If not them, though, who? Simon stepped forward and began tending to Jayne. Seeing Sepia supposedly for the first time, Mal asked "Was there some excitement while we were gone?" "Yes" Book stepped forward "This woman came on board looking for the sword. Kaylee bashed her a good one. We were getting ready to dump her in her ship" he finished, cutting his eyes toward Raven, and letting Mal know that he was being less than truthful. Simon finished with Jayne, bandaging his arm and pronouncing more or less healthy. "Captain, Zoe Warren, and Jayne Cobb, come with me. The rest of you, stay put for now." Raven led them out of the infirmary, where he thrust something into Mal's hand. A fusestrip. "You are knowing what to do Captain, I think. Do it." Mal sighed deeply, and pressed the fusestrip to the door, shielding his eyes as it sparked off and basically welded Simon, River, Kaylee and Book, along with Sepia into the infirmary. "Now, to the matter at hand. Mrs. Warren, if you are not minding, search the ship for your husband, please. Bring him back here in less than two minutes, or this one " he motioned at Jayne "will take another bullet today. He will not fare the better for it." Zoe seemed to visibly shrink. She shakily began to walk off towards the cockpit. Raven turned to Mal. "The Lassiter. Now." To emphasize his point, he jabbed Jayne in the temple with the pistol. "We don't have..." Raven quickly pistol whipped Mal. A thin trickle of blood seeped from the corner of his lip. Mal looked as furious as Jayne had ever seen him. Mal spun on his heel and walked over to one of many hidden spaces in the cargo bay. He hit the catch and removed something wrapped in oilcloth. The Lassiter, the prototype for all handheld laser technology was a priceless artifact. It didn't work, but would still fetch a pretty price from the right fence. Apparently, their quiet attempts to get it sold hadn't been quiet enough. As Mal handed the antiquity to Raven, through the open cargo bay door, Mal saw a flash of reflected light. He knew one of his own shuttles when he saw it, and the fear he had been feeling since the whole mess started jumped up threefold. Inara. But, Inara could handle the shuttle almost as well as Wash could. This shuttle was erratically flying about, and Mal saw what was about to happen. Malcolm Reynolds never prayed. Not since the Browncoats had suffered the historic beating they had recieved in Serenity Valley on Hera. Seeing Inara Serra's shuttle about to crash, he breathed a little prayer, and found that he still had a little bit of faith left in him. The shuttle noseplanted 50 yards away from Serenity. It tumbled end over end, and slid to a halt about ten feet from the cargo door. The shuttle was more or less intact, but it was a nasty crash all the same. Not caring what Raven would do to him or anyone else, he ran for the shuttle. Zoe, who had not quite made it out of the bay, turned and ran as well. Raven jerked Jayne around by his injured arm and followed them. The shuttle door swung open and Mal cursed under his breath. It was a ruin. All of the pretty baubles that Inara had painstakingly hung in the shuttle were everywhere. His breath caught when he saw that Inara was, in fact, in the shuttle. One of her eyes was swollen shut. Crusted blood stained her dress and her face. Blood had poured from her split lip and her nose. When Mal bent to pick her up, he felt some of her ribs shift, and knew that her injuries were much worse than they looked. He turned in a fury, and was met with Raven's gun in his face. "Up Captain. We must go. Now that the whore is here, it seems that the timetable is stepped up a bit. It is appearing that it is Mr. Warren's lucky day." "Dont' you call her a whore!" ,Mal said angrily, as he started to knock the gun away, but was stopped when Inara reached up with her broken wrist, and touched his other hand. "Shang", she croaked "He says you have his sword. He said I'm the message." "Inara" Mal started to say, but he couldn't finish the sentence. He was afraid that he might burst into tears. Sure, plenty of the crew aboard Serenity had been hurt. He had been hurt at least this badly once too. But not Inara. She seemed better than this. Seeing her in such an injured state pulled at his heart and almost made him weep. "Oh honey, said Zoe. "'Nara" Jayne said, sounding as frightened as anyone had ever heard him. "Yes, yes...very touching. We must go. ship is over the hill." As Mal raised his hands again, he noticed Inara's blood on it. He didn't look back as he got up. Everything about this situation was wrong. He couldn't believe he had let things go this wrong. It was a weight he would probably carry for all his years.

* * *

Maintaining a high orbit, the crew of the Contessa watched all this stupified. "Whatever your friend got into, its a mess." "Yeah, Mal's good at that. After they leave, lets go down and see what we can see." "Yes sir" Fiona said.

* * *

Not far from Red Veil's house, an Alliance gunboat landed in a large cave, hiding it from view. Three people emerged, wearing civilian clothing. All wore dusters. The better to hide the massive amount of weapons they were carrying. "Let's go.", Commander Remo said, motioning to the Chief and Lt. Kelly. The Chief smiled. "Yes, sir. Let's go indeed."

* * *

In the cockpit of Serenity, Wash dozed. The decision to take a quick nap would haunt him for years afterward. He did, in fact, miss everything that transpired, and didn't wake up until Raven's ship was well over the horizon. It was the arrival of the Contessa that woke him up. Across the short distance between them, Wash saw Fiona, finishing the landing sequence. "This can't be good." Wash said. In retrospect later, he wished he had been more descriptive.


Friday, April 1, 2005 8:15 AM


Ooooooh, much badness afoot! Can't wait to find out what happens next. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, April 2, 2005 1:19 AM


Wow. I have to go back and read all the other chapters now. That was great. Can't wait to find out what happens next. And OMG poor Inara!!

Update soon :)


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