Shadow War - Chapter Seventeen
Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Heroes are falling left and right. The B Team steps up. The Contessa and its crew.


Wash sat up rigidly and began toggling com buttons. "Zoe! Mal!...Jayne?...ANYONE!!!" Aboard the wreck of the Zigos, the radio chirped with Wash's paniced voice loudly. Where it was doing no one any good. Wash rose and bolted for the cargo bay. He didn't hear Kaylee and Book hammering on the glass of the infirmary window as Simon tried deperately to calm his sister, who had burst into tears. Something about "The Companion's pain." and Mal. Though her speech was erratic, she seemed to be weeping more for Zoe than for anyone else. Book took this as a sign to hurry and find a way out of the room. But, he was having no luck. There didn't seem to be anything heavy enough to break the windows. In the cargo bay, Wash made a beeline for the door, and stopped short at two discoveries he made there. The first was Zoe's carbine. The weapon she carried into nearly every fray. The fact that he knew she took it with her before she left, and it was now sitting here, amid a pile of guns, mostly Jayne's, and Mal's pistol among them, was not lost on him. The second thing he saw that brought him up short was Inara, crawling in the dirt. Both discoveries were heart wrenching for him. As quickly as he had picked up the gun, he dropped it and ran for the wounded companion. Inara didn't say anything as Wash reached her. He bent down and gently lifted her. She groaned in pain, and screamed as Wash adjusted his carry so he could walk. "I know, Inara...Just hang on. I'll get you to Simon as quick as I can." In the distance, Wash saw the crew of the Contessa approaching. He cursed lowly in Chinese, carried Inara over to the door control panel, and akwardly punched the button to close the ship.

* * *

After telling Zoe the instructions for programming his shuttle for autpilot, Raven sat the three of them against the wall and held his pistol on them. He had already proved his speed and strength, and none of them, not even Jayne had any ideas about trying to rush him. The three of them sat, forlornly. The image of Inara being hurt so fundamentally had stuck with them. Zoe had not seen Mal look so downhearted since Serenity Valley, and that was saying a lot. Any suspicions she had concerning the Captain's feelings for Inara were confirmed thus. Her heart went out to him, and she patted his hand. To no effect. Jayne, who, in this instance, would be looking for a way to strongarm out of the situation, sat in stunned silence. He had no special feelings for Inara that Zoe knew of, but Jayne had been known to demonstrate deep wells of feeling for the crew (the doctor and his sister notwithstanding)and Zoe knew that Inara's injuries had unnerved him as well. She did not pat his hand, however. Jayne took no comfort from such actions, and Zoe didn't particularly demonstrate her feelings well either. She started to say something to the Captain, when Raven cocked his pistol, motioning that she should remain silent. She stared at Raven coldly. "So, was he your twin?" Raven said nothing. "You know, it wasn't our fault..." Raven said nothing. "We tried to..." Raven lashed out with a fist and caught Zoe on the lip, silencing her. He raised the other, and as he brought it down, Mal caught it in his hand. "I'm sorry for what's happened to you and yours. But, believe me when I say that hitting this woman is not something you'd want to be trying again with me in the room. Gun or no gun." This was delivered in such a low, guttural voice that Jayne scooted over in his seat away from the other two. Raven even backed up a step. Zoe, after her vision cleared, was certain that Raven was going to hurt Mal in some way. But, he didn't. He blinked, laughed briefly (without emotion) and dropped back in his seat. He pulled his odd knife and gestured at the Captain. "Does this scare you, Captain Reynolds." Mal's facial expression never changed. "It surely does. I'd have to be stupid for it not to." "Good. Then you are having an understanding of what waits for you. The three of you would be better off being quiet, I think." He pointed the knife at Jayne. "I have orders about these other two. You, however, belong to me." And, with that admission, Jayne's fear melted away. Jayne responded to a lot of things. Money, whores, food...but, it would be a cold day in hell before he would respond with fear to anyone he considered an adversary. "Then I wish you'd quit gabbin' and get on with it. You tryin' to push everyone around like some gorram school bully's gettin a might old." "In good time, Mr. Cobb." Raven chuckled again, as the shuttle began its landing sequence outside Red Veil's home.

* * *

Zilan and Fiona were standing outside Serenity's cargo bay door. They had already looked in the shuttle, but, no sword. And, since both of their shuttles were pretty much in good repair, no need to gut it. "Fiona, would you mind knocking for me, please?" "You got it." came the sunny reply, as Fiona pointed a handheld control back towards the Contessa. The Contessa automatically overrode Serenity's door mechanism, and the cargo bay door slowly and loudly began to fall. "You know, my darling, you are so much better at crime than you let on. Will that remote override everything on this heap?" "You bet, but, I don't see any need to work anything besides the door." "Neither do I, but I'm just glad to know what you can do." With this, he motioned the rest of his crew aboard Serenity. Wash heard the door as it fell, but he was far too preoccupied to care. He made his way to the infirmary, and was confounded by what he found there. Inside looked like an argument. Book and Kaylee were wildly hammering on the windows. The bounty hunter that had been talking to Simon earlier was tied to the table. River was staring out the other window and crying as Simon was pulling on her arm and trying to get her to sit down. Upon seeing Inara in Wash's arm, Kaylee fell apart. Book was visibly shaken. Simon was the last to notice them. He stood stockstill. After another low groan from Inara, Wash looked down at her and said: "How long did I nap?" River stop crying and turned and murmured something to Simon. Simon looked at her like she was a dinosaur. She brushed past him, opened a drawer, and withdrew a grease pencil. She walked back to the window and brushed her hands against every square inch of it. Wash moved to the other side of the door. He knew the crew of the Contessa was on its way, and he didn't want to be seen if he could help it. River, in the meanwhile, had begun writing what looked like mathematical equations on the window. It looked like gibberish to everyone. Even Simon, the genius doctor, was stupified. "River, what are you doing?" Wash heard Book ask, his voice muffled by the window. The equations had taken on a pattern. It was circular, emanating out from a point left of center of the window. She finished writing, not bothering to answer the Shepherd, and drew a small circle on window. She turned and went back to the drawer. She drew a weighted cylinder that Simon used to transport hypodermics, and some medical tape. She sat on the counter and began taping the cylinder to her left foot. Simon, who had stopped trying to puzzle out the equations, had taken to looking out the window at Inara. A doctor always, he was thinking of ways he could treat her when and if he got out of here. Kaylee, near hysterics now, walked to Simon and almost collapsed into his arms. She never took her eyes off the companion. Simon hugged her, but never kept his eyes on his potential patient. Which is why they missed seeing the seven members of the Contessa's crew come up to Wash's left. All had their guns out, pointed at the infirmary windows. Book backed away with his hands in the air. River stood, walking strangely with the cylinder attached to her foot. Zilan and Fiona had now noticed Wash, and Zilan was pointing his gun at the pilot. Everyone's voices rose to a shout as River jumped in the air, spinning twice. She arced her foot, where it connectedly solidly with the point she had made on the window. The window exploded, and the heavy cylinder flew off her foot, striking Zilan on the back of the head and instantly knocking him out. Fiona fired her weapon, but the shot was wild. Inara cried out as Wash backed away. River jumped again, fast as lightening through the shattered window, landing in an easy flip, and instanly regaining her feet. The rest of the crew of Serenity watched this with silent awe. Pinwheeling and somersaulting, River flipped through the air. She seemed to be moving so fast that she was dodging bullets. She knocked another member of the Contessa's crew out, as she took his weapon, and fired four times. Each time, she hit the weapons of the rest of the crew, except Fiona. She merely looked at Fiona. Fiona threw her gun to the floor. "I'll take the remote, too." River said, pleasantly. Fiona handed it over as Wash began handing Inara through the window to the other three. As soon as Inara was in the infirmary, River seemed to visibly shrink. She dropped her gun to the floor and began to cry again. As Inara was laid down on the counter to the left of the operating table, Sepia's eyes snapped open. She immediately closed them again when Book walked in front of her. River made a dash for the window. "Simon!" She cried, but it was too late. A thin blade whisped out of the cuff of Sepia's sleeve, cutting her bonds. She moved so fast at cutting the rest, that Book didn't see her until it was too late. She solidly cracked the Shepherd, not knocking him out, but certainly slowing him down. She held the knife out with one hand, and began pulling small parts out of different places on her uniform. Assembling them with one hand looked difficult, but the lady had obviously practiced. Soon, too soo, as it turned out, she had a small, handheld laser pistol pointed at the crew. "Simon Tam, River Tam, you're coming with me. Now!" She fired the laser over Simon's head. Calmly, as was his way, Simon began to speak. "This woman will die without immediate medical attention." "You will die if you stop to give it to her. Or, maybe your sister?" She pointed the pistol at River, who shrank against the wall behind her. "No! No. We'll go." Kaylee grasped Simon's hand. "You can't take him. You can't take either of them." Sepia leveled the laser into Kaylee's face. "I don't want to have to kill any of you for these two. They're not worth it. But, I will. Back off!" Sepia rolled Simon out the window, even as Simon was trying to yell instructions to the rest of them on how to treat Inara. Kaylee awkwardly jumped through the window and began following them out. Wash followed her as well. Book began to do what he would for Inara. * * *

Outside Red Veil's home, the Chief, Commander Remo, and Lt. Kelly had had to duck behind a wall to keep from being seen by a shuttle that had suddenly appeared over the hill. An eartquake ripped the ground very near them, an ominous portent of what might lie for them if they weren't careful. "I hate having to sneak around like this." Commander Remo said. "Its necessary. Red Veil's security isn't as thinned out as I'd like, but they seem to be preoccupied with something." "You know, chief, I think that's the first time you haven't called me sir since you've been in my command." "Just trying to blend in..." A low beep eminated from the bracelet Chief Dobson was wearing. With a smile, Chief Dobson began to hatch his long laid plans. He drew a nasty looking, non Alliance sactioned pistol from his belt, and aimed it right at Remo's head. "What the hell are you doing, Chief?" Chief Dobson backhanded Remo. "Shut the hell up!" Lt. Kelly began to draw, but was a bit slow, as the Chief lowered his gun right in her face. "That will be enough of that, darlin'. Get over there with your boss." Everything about the chief had changed. His voice, his demeanor. It wasn't even the same man standing in front of them. "So, I guess now, we'll meet the real you?" Commander Remo said with a smile. Dobson didn't even try to hide his shock.


Tuesday, April 5, 2005 7:35 AM


Mmmm, an intriguing tangle of action on several fronts. I really loved River zipping into action but a bit unnerving when she then folded in on herself afterwards. Could have used her genius to take Sepia out. And poor Inara. Hope it won't be long until the next part is posted. Ali D :~)

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 7:35 AM


Mmmm, an intriguing tangle of action on several fronts. I really loved River zipping into action but a bit unnerving when she then folded in on herself afterwards. Could have used her genius to take Sepia out. And poor Inara. Hope it won't be long until the next part is posted. Ali D :~)

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 8:03 AM


Why would River be afraid of Sepia after that display? What was the first thing she said after she realized Sepia was awake?

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 9:37 AM


See, now I read the earlier chapters when you first posted them. Great stuff. I got busy when you posted the new stuff, and I didn't get to read them all until now, but I'm glad I did. This is a good story, and you've got the characters down very well. I'm looking forward to more.

- Soul


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Somnambulism - Chapter Fourteen
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Somnambulism - Chapter Five
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