Shadow War - Chapter Eighteen
Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Red Veil Revealed! The Wounding of Serenity! The B Team Makes a Plan! The Real Dobson! Simon: Gone! A Shepherd's Duty!


Fiona Raydor watched the tall bounty hunter drag off the doctor and his sister. Suited her just fine, as she was more than a little afraid of River Tam. She ordered the rest of the crew to pick up the wounded and retreat. She did not see Wash pick up her own discarded pistol and level it at her. "Not so fast Fiona. Do you know what's going on around here?" Fiona only goggled at Wash, but kept the presence of mind to silently direct the rest of the crew to leave. In the infirmary, Book and Kaylee were doing what they could for Inara. There wasn't much they could do. One of her wrists were broken, she obviously had at least three broken ribs, and her face was swollen and bloody. As Book moved her shawl, he cursed loudly in Mandarin, something Kaylee had only seen him do once before. Inara had been stabbed twice. Not too deep, but enough to be life threatening, if nothing was done for her. They administered what first aid they could, and Kaylee doped her, trying to be strong, and failing in some points. "Wash" Fiona purred "You're not going to shoot me. You're not the type." "Obviously, I've changed. Regardless, my wife is missing, and I can't help but think you might know where she is." "You'd shoot me for your wife?" Wash didn't even blink. "Yes." Fiona sighed deeply, "I'm sorry you feel that way." She made a quick move towards Wash. Wash flinched and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. "I don't keep one in the chamber, Wash. I told you you couldn't do it. That's why I was always number one, and you'll always be behind me." She high kicked the gun from his hand, grabbed it, and ran for the door. Wash started to pursue, but Kaylee called back for him. "Wash, we have to get Simon back, or Inara might not make it. Let her go." Wash considered going anyway, but Kaylee was right. Wash helped Kaylee and Book out of the broken window. All three armed themselves with the guns that had been left by the Contessa's crew. Fiona and her crew had moved faster than Wash thought they could have. The three looked around, trying to find Sepia. She was not moving so fast. River was putting up a struggle even as Simon was trying to convince her not to. Wash, Kaylee and Book took off in a run towards them. Sepia saw them coming and leveled the laser at them. They stopped, but Book took aim at the bounty hunter. Sepia saw this, and moved Simon in front of her. As she did, River jumped up in another startling gymnastic display and looked as though she meant to kick Sepia in the head. Sepia pointed her hand, palm out at River, and a small dart shot out of her glove, taking the girl in the leg. "River!" Kaylee screamed. Simon began struggling in earnest, thinking his sister had just been killed. River hit the ground, started to rise, but fell down, unconcious. "Doctor! Stop making a fuss. I didn't kill your sister. You're the one I want anyways. Your sister has a fair price on her head, and its one I mean to collect, but I don't have time or patience with tomfoolery right now. I can always find her again. I mean, I found you two this easily, didn't I? You did help out though." She tore the small tracker she had placed on Simon's vest and threw it on top of River. She turned to face the other three, always keeping Simon between her and Book. He might be a Shepherd, but he obviously knew how to handle a gun. "Since you three mean to follow me, and I'm afraid I can't have that..." She pointed the laser at them. All three ducked, but Sepia suddenly raised the laser, and fired at Serenity's newly repaired port extender. White hot smoke rose from the gash the laser was causing as Sepia moved towards the rear of the ship. Wash watched this with his mouth hanging open. Kaylee gasped. Book never took his eyes off Sepia, but the girl was not giving him an opening. He could have killed her, but he knew it was something that he never could accomplish. With a billow of black smoke, the port engine dropped completely off of Serenity as the extender parted. Burned wires and various manifolds glowed bright pink for a bit before quickly cooling to black, and Serenity was wounded to the point of never flying again.

* * *

Raven led his three captives into Red Veil's home. In the foyer, Zoe apparently had had enough of this, and tried to make a break for it. She waited for Raven to extend his gun past her shoulder. She grabbed his arm and hyperbent it, meaning to break it, but he pulled back with considerable strength. Jayne rushed him from the side, and Mal tried to grab the gun itself. He stopped when the tip of a samurai sword floated gently into view, right in front of his face. "Up." Shang Yu said, quietly. Mal made to jump for him, but Shang quickly stabbed him in the shoulder. Not enough to seriously wound, but certainly enough to back him off. "I don't want to have to kill you Captain...Not yet, at any rate. You have business with my partner, and then you and I will talk, if you're able." Shang delivered this coldly, and calmly. If there had been fire in the man, Mal might have tried to fight him, sword or not. But, this man was all business, and it appeared his business was killing. "You hurt one of mine. You deserve to die, and I deserve to be the one to end you." "That may be, Captain, but that won't be happening today." He turned to Raven and delivered what sounded like a scathing speech in Russian. Zoe caught some of it, having picked up a little Russian in the war. It was a little used dialect, as most people with Russian blood were from a small area, and a few Russian Browncoats had thrown in their lot with the Balls and Bayonets Brigade. "Zoe." Mal said. He didn't ask. He knew she knew some of what they were saying. "He's just degrading him, sir. Telling him to be more careful with their 'enterprise'." "We're enterprise?" Said Jayne. Raven, visiously kicked Jayne in the side. "You're not!" Shang led them past a number of armed guards to a chamber were Red Veil sat, his silk box and red gloves in place. Raven bowed to him as he entered. When he spoke, the three captives all had different reactions. Zoe steeled herself for what was to come. All emotion dropped from her face. Mal looked visibly shaken. His fear was not for himself, but for the other two, mostly Zoe, as Raven had claimed Jayne. He was disgusted with himself. He had had the power to kill this man at one time, and had let it slip. Jayne merely hung his head and prepared to die this day. "Chain the woman to the wall, and bring a chair for the Captain." Raven moved to act out these orders. He grabbed Mal under the arm. Mal wouldn't budge. Raven pulled harder, and that's when Mal reversed his resistance and elbowed Raven in the face. Shang started to move, but was not fast enough as Mal ran straight for Red Veil. "Why this game? Why not face me like a man?" Then, Mal felt the cold metal of a blade pressed to his throat. "You are right, Malcolm Reynolds. There is no needing to hide anymore." And, with that, Adelai Niska removed his mask and gloves.

* * *

Commander Remo watched all this from a nearby window. "Good lord, is that Adelai Niska?" "Of course it is, Remo. Don't know as much as you think you do, do you?" Dobson growled. Lt. Kelly kept a watchful eye on Dobson. Though there probably wasn't much she could do. He had already disarmed her and the Commander. "All our intelligence said that he died when his Skyplex exploded." "Yeah, Alliance intelligence is a mighty big contradiction of terms." The Commander turned to face Dobson. "It was enough for me to know who you really are. Lt. Kelly, permit me to introduce you to Lawrence Dobson Sr. Oh, I know you thought his first name was Thomas, but Thomas Dobson died under suspicious circumstances some five years ago, right Chief?" "Since we're dropping all pretenses, Remo, you can call me Lawrence." "Right, Chief here killed an actual Alliance Master Chief and took his place. How he did this was rather ingenius. But, Chief, did you honestly think I wouldn't recognize you? I mean, your son was the spitting image of you." Dobson punched the Commander square in the jaw. When he did, Lt. Kelly made a grab for his gun. Dobson simply wrenched it from her grasp. He made to pistolwhip her, but thought better of it. He wasn't a cruel man, and Lt. Kelly had been terrorized enough in her career. "Kelly, this man ain't worth protectin'. Do you know how he got the rank of Commander so fast?" Lt. Kelly didn't even flinch. "He was a war hero." Dobson laughed heartily. "Right, darlin'. Except there's not many war heroes I know that kill as much of their own side as they do the enemy." Lt. Kelly made a show of not letting this get to her, but she cast a sly glance towards the Commander. Commaner Remo, spitting out a mouthful of blood looked back at her. "That's right, Lt. Kelly. I did kill for both sides in the war. Independents and Alliance. It assured my climbing the ranks and cemented my identity as a hero when there are no witnesses to the contrary." Dobson looked as though he were going to strike the Commander again. This time, Lt. Kelly made no moves. "Remo, I know you don't have any children. So, I'm gonna spell this out for you. I have three, or had, rather. Lawrence Jr. Not the brightest star in the sky, but my boy, nonetheless. His brother, Nathan, and a sister, Sepia. I know you know what happened to Nathan. He stayed alive long enough to send me a wave about what you'd done. I'd never in my life try to take on the Alliance, even through legal channels. That way lies madness. So, I infiltrated your ship, and learned as much about you as I could. Even missed the death of my own wife on this little caper. But, a long laid plan is about to pay off." Commander Remo only laughed. "How can you call this paying off? If you kill me, the Alliance will be all over you. If you fire that weapon now, Niska's little army, and Shang Yu will be all over you. You don't have any options here. Why do you think I let you come along if I didn't think I could handle it." Dobson advanced on Remo, coming to eye level with the Commander. "You like philosophy quite a bit, don't you. I mean, you're always quoting that Shan Yu, who's great, great...whatever is in yon room. Well, here's a lesson in shadow and light, Commander. You have no light. You are, and always have been too confident in your abilities. You think it matters to me if I'm caught? You think it matters to me if I'm killed? See, you knew who I was, and I guess let this play out so you could expose me at some time when you could kill me and avoid any nasty questions about my son. In the five years its taken me to pull this off, do you think there's any part of it I haven't taken into account?" Commander Remo's bravado dropped at once. "Let's go. Back to the ship. With any luck, I should have a little surprise waiting for me there. And don't go making any noise. If you think those guys in there are going to be any better for the famous Commander Remo than I am, you're stupider than I've ever given you credit for." He started to guide Remo on. He turned back to Lt. Kelly. "You comin'" Torn between her duty and her newfound personal loathing of Commander Remo, Lt. Kelly didn't know what to do. Her sense of duty was great, and she followed the two of them back to the cave.

* * *

The Contessa engine whined as it began its launch cycle. Fiona Raydor was in a big damn hurry to get the hell out of here. She had seen what had happened to Serenity, and did not want the Contessa to follow suit. Kaylee and Wash stood helplessly at the torn wing of the now lopsided Serenity. Kaylee was weeping and holding on to Wash for support. Wash was dumbfounded. He and Kaylee had seen and repaired this old ship through any kind of problems she had. But this was too much. River had since woken and was standing next to them with mute fear and dread on her face. Only Book, who had run inside to see if Inara was okay was spurned to any kind of action. Inara was awake, and spoke a few fleeting words to the Shepherd, but quickly passed out again. What she was made her afraid. Not of the Shepherd, but for whoever might cross his path in this state. He came charging out of Serenity's cargo hold. He was holding on to Jayne's prized possession. A gun, a very large gun that Jayne had named "Vera". "Kaylee, I need you to get together your tools for a hydraulic patch job. River?" He started to hand the gun over to the girl, but she protested. "The windows aren't clear." "I guess I'll have to do it." Wash couldn't believe what he was seeing. "I thought Jayne kept those things locked up." "He did." was Book's only reply. River, looking hard at the Shepherd withdrew the override remote for Serenity, and began rapidly punching buttons. On the tiny screen, Wash read the words, "RECODING", and started to put two and two together. "Wait! That might kill them!" "It might. I guess it'll be in God's hands." River pushed on of the many buttons of the remote. The Contessa was on the rise, high above them. Fiona began looking around wildly as alarms began going off. Zilan, still groggy from his head bump became concerned. "Fiona? What the hell is that?" "Gorram remote. They're using it to open the cargo door. We can't break atmo!" Book began to take careful aim at the ship. As Kaylee said "What're you goin to do?" Book fired. Wash didn't so much hear the gunshot as he felt it. It kicked up the dust around them in a ten foot circle. At first, it looked like nothing happened. But then, River turned and began to guide Kaylee back into Serenity. The cargo door of the Contessa swung wide, far too wide. In the cockpit, all hell broke loose. "We're losing hydraulic pressure! There's a leak in the main cargo door strut!" The Contessa began losing altitude. "I hope this girl's a good a pilot as you say." Book said to Wash. Wash looked at Book incredulously for a second and turned his attention skyward again. The landing feet of the Contessa came out, but only partially. The Contessa thumped to earth hard enough to shake their teeth. River and Kaylee came out with a cart, loaded with several things, chief among them, Kaylee's welder, several feet of tubing, and a pump. River and Book made a run for the Contessa. Well, Book made a run for the Contessa, and watched River come along beside him. He started to tell her to stay with the others, but he was pretty sure that if he got in a jam, he might need her. No one aboard the Contessa was injured, and all were too startled by what had just happened to put up a fight. Book led them out, River happily walking along behind them. Watching all this, Wash turned to Kaylee and said "What the hell is going on?"

* * *

In Niska's home, Zoe was chained standing upright against the wall. Raven emotionlessly slit the buttons from her shirt. She wasn't exposed, as Mal, sitting in the chair he had been tied to, thought she might be. He had witnessed Zoe get tortured before, as she had him. Apparently, it was something that never got better with time. He surged against the ropes holding him. They held fast. Jayne had been bound too, he was standing in the corner, watching the scene unfold stoically. From his chair, Niska called over to Zoe: "I met you once, young lady. But, I have wondered since: Did I meet the real you? Shall we?" Raven grabbed one of Zoe's fingers, and without preamble, broke it. She barely flinched. Mal knew she would never scream. He hoped it wouldn't press their captors to do more. Raven turned to Mal. "You are the one who killed my twin brother Crow, no?" "I surely did. He was after my crew." "Mr. Niska has paid me handsomely. It is why I didn't kill you earlier. Your turn is coming." And, without taking his eyes off Mal, he broke another of Zoe's fingers. She grunted, and glared at Raven with a fire Mal had only seen in battle. Raven seized her other hand. He turned to Jayne. Jayne watched him impassively. "Mr. Niska has not paid me for you. You are a gratuity. You shot my brother's leg, allowing him to be captured, no?" "Gorram right, I did." Raven broke another of Zoe's fingers. Jayne never moved. Mal turned his eyes from her. He didn't think he could take it. He glared at Niska. "Gorramit Niska. This is between you and me! You have a problem with me, then you take it out on me!" Niska chuckled. "I AM taking it out on you. After having you tortured, I was knowing that you do not hurt for yourself. But, you will hurt for your crew. You will bleed, even." Mal's eyes widened in fear as Niska produced a device that Mal had seen in his nightmares many times. It looked like a long wire with a small suction cup attached. But looks were decieving in this case. Niska hit a button, and several small blades sprang forth from the head of the thing. "No.", Mal whipsered, as Raven took it in preparation of attaching it to Zoe.

* * *

Sepia Dobson and Simon Tam landed in her Death's Head ship at the mouth of the cave. Simon was trussed, strangely compliant now that he knew his sister was out of danger. Sepia grabbed him in a vicious headlock and dragged him to the others that were already waiting there. "An Alliance gunboat. What a surprise. I guess you're going to turn me over?" Simon said apathetically. She roughly threw him to the ground, and ran to hug one of the two men standing there. She cried "Daddy!", as she had not seen her father in five years. There were tears in her eyes as she presented Simon to her "Daddy". "Simon Tam! Not a pleasure to meet you." Simon blinked. He would never forget the fed he had encountered upon removing his sister from captivity to Serenity. He supposed he looked enough like his father. Simon recognized this man in an instant. "Dr. Tam, meet Commander Remo...the man who killed my other son." And, with that, he raised his pistol and blew Remo's brains out. "Nope, don't guess we are going to turn you over, Simon." Sepia said, sarcastically. "Now, Dr. Tam. Is there anything you'd like to say about my son, Lawrence Jr.?"


Tuesday, April 12, 2005 7:48 AM


I KNEW IT!!!!!! I knew that Red Veil was Niska! This is just getting better and better. What in the good gorram is Book's plan, though? Great stuff here. More!

- Soul

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 7:05 AM


Oh wow, much action on several fronts and poor poor Zoe! Very in character that she would not cry out as that cowardly piece of *goushi* Raven broke her fingers. Niska is certainly right in realising that the best way to hurt Mal is by hurting his friends and crew. Gorrammit, I hope Jayne and Mal get free before Raven can put that device on Zoe and then put it on HIM. Please hurry with the next part! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, April 14, 2005 7:56 AM


You know, I was gonna polish this and enter it in the Blue Hands contest, but it needs SOOOO much polish, I don't know...It may do to just scrap that idea, and write a new one. I mean, I'd finish this one here...


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