Shadow War - Chapter Nineteen
Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Book's Plan. Niska's Pettiness. Wash's Hands. Zoe's Victory. Raven's Mistake. Jayne's Secret.


Wash was a little less confused now that Kaylee had taken a small bit of time to explain what was going on. Book watch Wash's face sink, and then set in a look he had only seen once before. Wash had this look when they went to rescue Mal from torture. Book had gone to great lengths to explain his plan to Wash. River had stuck around for the beginning, but had wandered off under Book's protest. "We need that girl." "For what? Jayne doesn't need stabbing, he needs rescuing, and God did that sound strange out loud." River, meanwhile had walked over to where Kaylee was giving instructions to the crew of The Contessa. They were more or less listening, not because they wanted to, but because Kaylee was holding a gun on them. She was waving it around to illustrate her points, and they were afraid of getting shot by accident. They could tell she wasn't a killer, but, as River came up silently behind Kaylee, they snapped to attention and began to heed everything Kaylee had to say. The hydraulic patch job was going to take a little time, and Wash was growing more and more impatient. He had strapped Zoe's carbine to one thigh, and Jayne's eight shooter to the other. He looked more or less ready to go. "Why can't we just take two shuttles? Wouldn't that be faster?" "Yes, it would be faster, son, but we may the kind of power a Firefly carries. Even this one." He gestured with Vera towards The Contessa. "Fine." Wash sighed. The work on the patch job was going quicker than anyone expected. Whatever Kaylee couldn't express quickly, River got the point across silently. The Contessa's crew were horrified of her, and Book could tell she was enjoying it a little. Kaylee lit her welder and repositioned her goggles. The actual patch itself wasn't so much work. The problem was replacing the hydraulic fluid that the Contessa had lost. Several large ducts and tubes were running from deep inside Serenity to the Contessa, replacing all she had lost. As Serenity lost fluid, her landing legs began to give out, and the dangerously tipped ship began to move some more. Book went inside to check on Inara. She was comfortable, or as comfortable as she could be made. The infirmary was listing to one side, and Book couldn't be sure if Inara would slide off the table or not. Her eyes flitted open. "Where are you going, Shepherd" she managed around her split lip. "The crew is a bit scattered. We have to go get them." Inara's eyes flew open in alarm. "But Shang..." "Don't worry about him, Inara. I've dealt with him before, and I'll do it again." And, with no explanation, he left, Vera hanging between his shoulders. Inara had never seen Book like this before. She had seen him focused, of course, had seen him torn over things he had seen onboard Serenity. What she saw now was a strange combination of the two. It made the preacher look...dangerous. She feared what straying further from his path may take from him. Then, the drugs swept her back into painless unconsciousness. The Contessa's landing legs began to pump back up to their normal landing level, and just in time, as it looked like Serenity might finally flip over at any minute. Kaylee consulted a pressure gauge she had hooked to the adapter she had placed over Book's bullethole in the cargo door strut. She motioned for River to stop the Contessa's crew from pumping any more hydraulics into the ship. Serenity stop leaning any further, and seemed to settle down on the left side of the ship's "belly", as Kaylee called it. Kaylee fired up her torch again, and sealed the hole. Carefully, but quickly clearing her equipment, she armed herself, and with River, walked over to Book. Book was just finishing tying up Fiona Raydor, who had started to protest, but stopped as soon as River gave her a disapproving glare. "How did you know I had a remote for The Serenity?" "It's just Serenity!" Kaylee growled, brandishing Fiona's own pistol at her. "Don't know. Just did." River said gently. "Right" Book said slowly. "River and I are taking shuttle two to go after Simon. I wouldn't dream of asking Wash to go anywhere but after his wife, just as I wouldn't ask River not to go after her brother. I would appreciate it if you would wait for us, but I can see you're not going to. So, you two take The Contessa. Make sure you watch out for Red Veil's guards. There are a lot of them. Also, watch for snipers. We will be with you as soon as we return Simon to the infirmary." "Kaylee, you ready?" Wash asked. Kaylee nervously smiled, showing that she was anything but, and suddenly Book was sure this wasn't going to work. "Sure you won't wait, son?" Wash pulled Jayne's eight shooter and cocked in answer. "Didn't think so."

* * *

Lt. Kelly tried to hold back her gasp of surprise over what Dobson had just done. Commander Remo's corpse lay just a little ways from her. "Don't waste any breath on that piece of go se, darlin'. He ain't worth it." Dobson said. He reached down and picked Simon up by the neck and slammed him into the cave wall. "As you can see, Dr. Tam, I ain't playin' around here." To illustrate his point, he pistolwhipped Simon's temple. As his head flew in that direction, Sepia slapped him hard enough to rattle teeth, and just as quickly, Dobson backhanded him again. His vision began to swim as he began to pass out. Dobson grabbed a handful of hair and slammed Simon's head into the cave wall. "Not yet, Doctor. Stay awake." Simon groggily said "I didn't kill your son." Dobson paused for a moment. "If you didn't do it, Doctor, who did?" Simon had already forgotten what he had said, still groggy from the quick procession of blows. He stared blankly at Dobson. "Then, I suppose we should go collect your sister then, huh? Bet she knows. If you didn't do it, then she probably did. Lord knows, I've read enough on her to know what she's capable of." "Its all true, too, Daddy. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. But, I took her down. Shouldn't be too hard." Sepia said, not taking her eyes off Simon. Simon began to panic. He wasn't afraid to die. He had put his life on the line several times aboard Serenity and a few times before, extracting his sister from her captivity. But, he hadn't protected her this long, hadn't given up all he had lost to see these two take her and kill her, or worse. "No! No. I killed your son. If you want to take revenge, do it on me. River has nothing to do with it." Dobson seemed to consider this. Then, he pistolwhipped Simon again. "You misunderstand me, Doctor. We're going to take your sister no matter what. She's worth a damn sight more than an Alliance Master Chief makes, I can tell you that." Lt. Kelly watched all this impassively. She wasn't sure she was going to live to see another day, and she decided she wasn't going to go out like a coward. "Chief! You know whatever you do, the Alliance is going to catch you. I'll see to it myself." Dobson didn't even turn. "Might want to get started on that then. See you around, Kelly." Lt. Kelly got up and ran from the cave. Simon bunched himself for an attack. If they were going to kill him, he would try to at least injure them to slow them down. Anything he could do for River. Dobson saw this and laughed. He stepped back and took off his duster. He threw his gun down. "Sepia, cut him loose. I want a pound of flesh from this boy for what he did to my son." Sepia smiled dangerously, and cut Simon free. Simon was still woozy from the beating he had taken, but he had come back from worse. He tried to summon all his calm, as the Shepherd had taught him, and frowned as Dobson took a fighting stance very similiar to Jayne Cobb's. This wasn't going to be easy.

* * *

At Adelai Niska's estate, four gun turrets looked down on the main complex. Four men looked indifferently around, waiting for their shift to end. They wouldn't dare try to nap, or leave their posts before then. Niska's punishments for lazy guards had intesified since his Skyplex had been taken out. In the main chamber, the small torture device sat on the armrest of Niska's chair. He patted it from time to time. He had gotten the reaction from Malcolm Reynolds that he had wanted, and, for now, was fine to let it rest before he attached it to Zoe Warren. On the other armrest sat the Lassiter. Niska would wave it around from time to time just to show Mal exactly what he had taken from him. Raven had taken to beating Zoe with his bare hands. Every blow he landed echoed throughout the chamber. Zoe refused to scream or even show that she had been hurt. One of her eyes were swollen shut. Mal winced as she spat a mouthful of blood along with a tooth onto Raven's shirt front. " a...gorram...girl." she wheezed. She began to laugh, and ignored Mal's silent plea for her to be quiet. While Mal was the captain, and she always did as bid, she knew herself that she was a better stategist than her captain. She thought from time to time that he knew it to. But, not today, apparently. If she could anger Raven enough, he might make a mistake she could exploit. She decided to test the theory. Raven, quick as a flash went to punch Zoe again. Just as quickly, Zoe ducked her head down and winced as Raven hit the top of her skull. She smiled as she heard one of his fingers break. As he bent down in pain, she headbutted him, drawing blood from his mouth. "Zoe." Mal warned. Before anything else happened, Mal was stopped by Niska's applause. "Magnificent. You have stocked your crew with the most magnificent creatures, Malcolm Reynolds. Your pilot, and now your first mate! Hold, please!" Niska shouted this last to Raven, who had raised his fist to strike Zoe again, having backed away from her a step at least. Raven listened. "You may play with your toy, for now." Niska gestured at Jayne, whose eyes bugged out. Raven smiled, and approached Jayne, drawing his knife. he stopped to pat Mal on the cheek, who wheeled his head away. Jayne, having gotten over his initial shock, stared at Raven impassively. He continued to stare at Raven as Raven stabbed him roughly in the shoulder. His expression didn't change once as Raven began to exert more pressure on the knife. Outside there was engine noise. This had been going on the whole time they had been here. The assorted mercernaries on the planet were flying everywhere, looking for the sword of Shan Yu. Mal began to formulate a plan whose details flitted away from him as Niska raised his voice a bit. "Quite a stepping down from my Skyplex, no? Well, once people heard that the great Malcolm Reynolds had escaped me not once, but twice, they were on me like carrion." Niska's expression hardened. "Finally, in a full on assault, they were blowing up my beautiful Skyplex. I managed to escape, but my wife. Not so lucky." Niska hung his head for a moment before continuing. Raven withdrew his knife from Jayne's arm, and cast the blood on it away. He punched Jayne in the face, and backed away when this drew no repsponse from the big man. "Now, I am having the Lassiter, the last fence of yours I am hearing about before explosion. It was worth the expense to draw you here." Mal finally spoke up. "Was it? I mean, we found the crash site of this ship you were talking about. Funny thing sword." He directed this last at Shang, who stood in the corner, bored. He perked up. "Yes. I'm am apologizing Shang, but it was necessary that you believe your sword was gone. Actually, you have the real sword with you now." "You...You used me, old man? You used me to find a transport ship smuggler? I ought to kill you myself!" He started towards Niska, but was stopped when a bullet tore the floor inches from his feet. Raven reholstered the pistol. "That's close enough, Shang." Coldly, Shang turned to face Raven. "That gun isn't going to stop me, idiot." He advanced on Raven. As he walked past Mal, Mal lashed out with his foot and kicked Shang in the knee. On his way down, Shang delivered a chop to the side of the Captain's face that rang his ears. Outside, the engine noise picked up as a few gunshots rang out. This too was normal, as some of the ships had taken to flying too close to "Red Veil's" home. They were warning shots. The shots picked up in intensity and frequency as Mal heard the distinct sound of a Firefly passing overhead. "Zoe. Sounds like an angel, don't it?" Mal said, smiling. What Mal couldn't know was that Wash and Kaylee, the two least likely fighters on his crew were the only ones aboard that Firefly. And that Firefly wasn't his precious Serenity, but The Contessa, flying in all her green glory. Niska stared out the window as some of guards ran past to the front of the house. One of the four turrets, guard still in place and firing his gun, came crashing down to the ground outside. Mal stopped smiling when he looked at Jayne, whose face was a rictus of pain. He was trying to reach his hands, still tied behind his back, to the stab wound on his arm. Of course, he couldn't but that never seemed to stop the boy before. "Niska! Wait! Let us go, and I'll give you something worth as much as that Lassiter." "Jayne!" Mal and Zoe both cried, disgustedly. "Gorramit Mal, I can't take this no more. Let me just turn 'em over before we get killed." "Jayne! They're on the way! What are you doing?" Mal yelled, disbelievingly. "Yeah, and they gotta get past twenty armed guards to do it. I don't mean to die today! Raven, I'm sorry for what I did to your brother..."He seemed to be near tears now" I'm sorry. Just let me go and I'll tell you something worth a fortune." Niska considered this for a minute. Outside, another turret fell as the gunfire's volume rose. "JAYNE!" Zoe hollered. Niska raised his hand at Raven "Cut him loose...after he tells us." Raven breath caught. He had obviously been looking forward to torturing this man. Jayne began speaking, but at a volume so low, Raven had to bend to hear. "Onboard Serenity, there are two people..." As he said this, Raven didn't see that Jayne's face cleared, the look of pain was gone. "Two people who can tie one hell of a better knot than you!" Jayne's unencumbered hands swung around his body as he used the arm Raven had stabbed to punch him in the face. He then planted his heel and spun, just as Book had taught him. It was damn near balletic, Mal thought. He was a little more than confused right now. He started to rise, chair and all, but a familiar sword blade touched his neck. "Stay put." Shang Yu said. Jayne ratcheted his elbow back, meaning to catch Raven in the spine. Raven turned and blocked the blow, swinging bodily and knocking Jayne Cobb for a loop. "Your man will pay for that, Reynolds." Raven growled. Raven picked Jayne up in a headlock, and slowly began to choke the life from him.

* * *

Outside, the last gun turret fell as Wash rammed it with the bottom of the Contessa. Kaylee was watching all this with awe, ducking from time to time when an errant stone flew up over the ship. She didn't particularly care that the ship was being hurt. It wasn't. The first thing she had done was check the engine. Wash had a particular move in mind, and she had to make things ready. But, the engine room on this piece of crap made her want to puke. Usually, engines were sensuous to her. But, this room had been painted jet black. Not a hint of a lived in look at all. The engine was the same as Serenity's but it was all bright and shiny. This engine spoke to her, but she didn't like what it had to say. It wasn't hers. It wasn't Serenity. Now, she was trying not to panic. Not at the aspect of having to go and fight when she wasn't really a good fighter, but Wash was flying like a crazy man. As he usually did when Zoe was in trouble. Fifteen armed men were taking potshots at the Contessa from the front of Red Veil's house. This was what Wash had been waiting for. He charged the ship at them, full on. Kaylee thought he was going to ram the house, and ducked under the console, but, at the last minute, Wash pushed the thrusters forward. Engine wash scattered the guards all to hell, bodies flying this way and that as the Contessa began to fly backwards. She landed roughly on her landing feet, digging huge grooves in the earth as she did so. He grabbed his guns and motioned for Kaylee to follow. She would have felt better about this enterprise if Wash was speaking to her, but he wasn't. The calm reserve that he usually kept for flying in tricky situations was still in him even as he ran down the stairs for the Contessa's cargo door. He dropped the door, drew Zoe carbine, racked the lever, and ran like hell, not looking to see if Kaylee was behind him or not. Two more guards had shown up, and Wash shot at them on the run. Kaylee hid behind Wash as he fired at them and missed. He was close enough to rattle them, and they dove for cover. In Niska's chamber, Niska made a hand gesture at Raven that Raven obviously liked. Keeping Jayne in a monstrous headlock, choking him all the way, Raven grabbed the torture device and firmly planted it between Zoe's breasts. It had just started to work its blades into Zoe as Wash kicked in the door. Behind him, Kaylee was firing into the air to keep the other guards at bay, hoping she wouldn't have to try to fire directly at them. She didn't know if she could. Wash had drawn Jayne's eight shooter. Just after he kicked in the door, Shang Yu sliced a deep groove into one of his arms. But Wash managed to do two things first. Actually, four things. The first was he threw Zoe carbine high in the air in her direction. Secretly, Mal had once told Zoe that he thought Wash had the devil's hands. He was so calm and fast in flying conditions that made most pilots weep. His eyesight was better than perfect. Here, he displayed those hands and his pilot's eye to great effect. He fired three times before anyone in the room could believe what they were seeing, his left hand fanning the hammer. The first bullet tore into the wall above Zoe, sending her chains clattering to her head. The second shot caught the wires a scant inch from the head of the torture device that was bedeviling his wife. The blades instantly retracted where they had only begun their work. Zoe's hands were still connected by the chain, but she still managed to catch her gun, ignoring the pain her broken finger sent shooting up her arms. Wash's third shot seemed to go wild, but really hadn't at all, as it caught Niska in the right knee. This did not have the effect Wash thought it would. A metallic ping echoed through the suddenly quiet chamber. Through the bullet hole, Mal could see the gleam of metal. "Huh?" said Mal. No one had much time to consider this, as Jayne suddenly reached up and grabbed the same point on Raven's wrist that Simon had grabbed to great effect on Jayne earlier. Raven howled in pain, but not for long as Zoe took her rifle, braced it in Raven's adam's apple, and brought her knee to the back of his head. A sharp crack let everyone know that torturing Zoe was probably not the smartest thing Raven could have done that day. His lifeless body slid to the floor as she whipped the carbine up, cocking it, and took steady aim at Shang Yu. "You cut anymore on that man, and I will end you." She said, coldly. "Hey Lambytoes." Wash said, grinning and wincing. "Hey Sweetcakes." Zoe said, tiredly, smiling back. When Shang Yu suddenly ducked, Zoe fired. Her fingers screamed with pain, and it didn't help that Wash was so close to the line of fire. Shang Yu grabbed the gun Wash was holding, and put it to Wash's temple. Wash didn't even have time to gasp, it was done so quickly.

* * *

Aboard shuttle two, Book was trying to tell River what their plan for saving Simon was. He didn't even notice that she was giving him directions and he was following them. "Now when we get there, what are you going to do?" "Get Simon." Book sighed in frustration. "That's right, sweetheart, we're going to get your brother. But, there is someone there who we may have to face first. Which reminds me. How did she end up getting the drop on you. I don't profess to know anything about ESP, but can't you read people?" "She doesn't play fair. She moves like thought." Book considered this. "You mean she moves faster than she thinks?" "Affirmative". River had taken to using this term after Jayne had said it to Mal one day. Jayne had never said it again, as far as Book knew. "Then you'll have to fight like she does. That confounded suit of her though. Who knows what she's got in it!" "I do." River said, quietly. On the ground, a woman Book instantly recognized as an undercover Alliance officer was running from the mouth of a cave. "There." River pointed to the cave. "Simon's a winner." River smiled. "The team's full. No one gets to pick." "You mean there's more than one person besides your brother in there?" "Affirmitive." River stated, still smiling. Book sighed and cocked Vera. Not an easy thing to do with all the new safeties Jayne had installed on her since River had taken to sleepwalking with guns not long ago. "Remember, we're not here to kill anyone. Got it?" "Affirmitive." The grin had not left her face. "Then let's go, sweetheart." Book began to pilot the shuttle a little ways from the mouth of the cave.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005 1:35 PM


Thoroughly enjoying this story and can't wait to read the next part! Loved Wash flying in to the rescue, hope Niska gets puts down. Very good myth, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 2, 2005 9:48 AM


So what's up with Niska's metal leg?

That was a sweet rescue there! Wash is the man! I can't wait to see River's showdown with Sepia. More!

- Soul


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Somnambulism - Chapter Fourteen
It's back...well, this is actually a reposting of a lost chapter. Hey! I just refound it myself!

Somnambulism - Chapter Thirteen
Trap. Hunt. Enemy. Trap

Somnambulism - Chapter Twelve
The Plan, Negotiation, Landing, Hunt

Somnambulism - Chapter Eleven
Wash's Orders, Mal's Revelation, The Other, Captiulation

Somnambulism - Chapter Ten
Mal's Dream. Walt's Problem. River's Regain.

Somnambulism - Chapter Nine
Safety. Recollection. Explanation.

Somnambulism - Chapter Eight
Simon's Dream, Mal's Choice, River's Verdict

Somnambulism - Chapter Seven
Memory, Atavism, Hera

Somnambulism - Chapter Six
History, Discovery, Purpose

Somnambulism - Chapter Five
Malice, Theory, Opportunity