STOLEN MOMENTS: 26. "The Name of the Game"
Monday, May 30, 2005

"While Atherton Wing savours his revenge the crew go to retrieve their missing Captain. Zoe makes sure Jayne knows he is on probation. River waits for the right moment to unfold for the real heroes to appear."



SUMMARY: "While Atherton Wing savours his revenge the crew go to retrieve their missing Captain. Zoe makes sure that Jayne knows he is on probation. River waits for the right moment to unfold for the real heroes to appear." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

River couldn't help it. It was a burden sometimes being the only one who could see. The others meant well but they weren't even reading off the same page. Not interfering had been hard but if she had told them what she knew, what she sensed, Simon would have given her a smoother and the only chance they had of getting the Captain back would be lost. The crew needed to feel they were doing something so she made no comment about the plan to go and get him out of that hole. River closed her eyes. The doorway had opened and shut again. They would come back empty handed but it would appease the ungrateful Gods that resembled the serpent in the Garden of Eden more than the architect of the 'verse. And while everyone was distracted she would do the impossible. It would make her mighty. Besides, the Captain was too gorram pretty to die.

* * * * *

The hand upon his bare skin was soft, the touch a gentle caress. Weary beyond words he surfaced slowly as if her movements upon him were drawing him up from the dark well into which he had fallen body and soul. As waking brought a surge of memories flooding back other hands impinged on his consciousness, warm bodies cradled close to his. Hands, hips, thighs. He blinked up at the woman stroking her fingers down his chest. "This ain't right." Her mouth painting warm breath across his skin as she planted slow kisses from his collarbone and worked down, her attention to detail making his throat catch as her tongue licked and teased a nipple, her movements a languid exploration. He would have shaken her off but there were others, hands roaming, pinning him down. Touching, seeking, not yet doing more than tease as if they needed him fully conscious. Mal could not understand why he was so rutting weak. Unable to hide the flush on his face, he had the feeling that he was somehow taking advantage of them though in truth it was the other way around.

The Captain understood now. When he had beaten Atherton, held the tip of his sword to the man's throat but not killed him he had been humiliated. Forced to accept mercy while the better man walked away. It had festered like a foul canker in Atherton breeding hatred and contempt along with a thirst for revenge. Now Malcolm Reynolds was the one humiliated and not once neither but over and over again while his enemy had watched. Didn't know how long that had lasted before he passed out. The only joy in waking was that Atherton was gone, leaving him in the women's fervent clutches, dependent upon their tender mercies.

Mal knew he had to end this, get back to his ship, but his body was bruised and so very weary. He raised a hand to rub over his face and caught sight of the bandage out of the corner of his eye. He stared then lifted the other hand. Both wrists had been dressed. Part of him was surprised they would bother. After all he was their plaything now, at least until he could find his gorram way out of here. As if reading his thoughts the one curled against his right side lifted her head and looked him in the eye. "You were bleedin' on the sheets."

The Captain blinked at her. "*Shenme*?"

"The sheets." Said Carla, her voice warm and sultry, her eyes faintly amused as well as troubled and somehow anxious. Concerned. For him. Now why in the good gorram would he think that? They had obviously been well paid to seduce him and judging by the number involved the cost had to be more than he was worth. What was it Inara had said? Oh yeah, Atherton Wing didn't skimp. Now wasn't that generous of him? Must remember to pay the man back in kind, well - not kind exactly. What Mal had in mind would not put a smile on that man's face. He wanted nothing more and nothing less than to be the one who would carry the bullet that would end him. It was the only language that perverted *wangba dan* deserved or understood.

The Captain shuddered as a hand slid down between his legs and flexed around him, tried to push it away but his hand was caught and raised to ruby lips. Eyes fastened on his, the girl deliberately taking his index finger in her mouth, warm tongue swirling suggestively over the pad of his finger as she watched his reaction and began to suck. Who was this one? Anna? Was that the name? Mal opened his mouth to speak, to protest, and was annoyed how his dry aching throat had difficulty forming the words. One of the women shifted beside him, a coolness touching his bare side as she got up to fetch him water. It was oddly affecting how careful - caring even - they were towards him. He was a mite baffled how easily he knew that, them being strangers and all. The teasing stopped and hands helped him sit then he was sipping cool clear water, the relief so profound he briefly closed his eyes in bliss. "*Xie xie ni*."

The cup was retrieved and a pair of lively green eyes looked deeply into his own. Her name was Carla. Seeing him frown she brushed a hand over his forehead, sweeping back the damp locks before kissing his brow. Despite the return of their distracting hands he managed to peer around at his surroundings wishing his head were clearer. A lushly furnished and padded room, the rich tapestries and hangings evoking the colour and form of Inara's shuttle. With a jolt a painful certainty formed in his sluggish back brain.

"I'm in a gorram whore house!" The words were a quiet condemnation of how far he had fallen not an accusation against honest womenfolk plying their trade. Oddly enough their caresses became more soothing to his jangled nerves than offensive, as if wanting to calm him not cause him further distress. He snorted softly. After everything that had happened last night and most of this morning any scruples he might have had were gone, ripped away like barnacles off the skin of a whale. And since when did he get so rutting fanciful or so gorram forgiving? Must have hit his head harder than he'd thought. "I can't stay here..."

Carla shushed him, her lips closing gently over his while several pairs of hands eased him onto his back. He should protest, struggle, throw them off him but he was so gorram tired. As his head hit the pillow pain fractured his ability to think, the head wound making him dizzy again then it hit him. He froze for a moment and his eyes widened in surprised realisation.

"I can see!"

The women froze and several exchanged worried glances. Carla kissed his cheek and tried to calm him down. "Of course you can see, Mal."

"No, *ni bu dong*. I was blind." He tried to sit up, to explain, but had no energy to make the push. What the *diyu* was wrong with him? It was almost as if he had been drugged or somesuch. Mal sighed and stopped struggling, tried not to drift back to sleep but it was so gorram hard. The black behind his eyes so rutting seductive. "Have to get back to my ship..." He mumbled, eyes involuntarily closing. "They'll be worried... look for me..."

The women watched him drift off, their hands and bodies falling still. No need to keep up the pretence once he lost consciousness. There were five of them. Carla took up the role of spokeswoman. "He's right, he can't stay here."

Evie laid the Captain's hand over his stomach, flicked an appraising eye over him then looked at Carla. "What can we do? You know Atherton, that temper of his will be the death of us."

Carla's look hardened. The Captain was well and truly out of it now, his breathing deep and even. It was safe to talk. "Yes, an' how many of us bear the scars? I don't know about the rest of you but I'm tired of bein' beaten, havin' to endure that man's ideas of foreplay while he takes his pleasure. An' what about the young ones? *Wode ma* I've seen him leerin' at little Patty an' she ain't even twelve!" There were murmurs of agreement then Anna voiced what they were all thinking. Her voice only trembling a little. "What are we gonna do?"

"Help him."

"What?" Evie's eyes widened in shock at Carla's words. "We do that all of us're dead meat, *dong ma*? Then who'll shield the little ones?" "It won't come to that."

"Oh yeah?" Said Evie in a tone bordering on anger. "You psychic now?"

"No, just desperate." She glanced down at the sleeping man, her look thoughtful. One hand opening to rest palm down on his chest, as if reassured by the steady beat of his heart. An inkling of a solution forming in her mind as she gazed at him. The notion taking root she looked up at the others, her eyes searching theirs with solemn intent. If her plan was to work they would all need to be in agreement. "Malcolm Reynolds is a Captain, right? That means he's got a ship. We help him get away an' in return he helps us escape. *Jiandan*" Hope and fear vied with each other while Serenity's Captain slept on. Marie looked down at the Captain and trailed a warm hand down his arm, her look thoughtful and sad when she realised how much would rely on this one man. "If this doesn't work it won't be just us that pays the price."

The look on Carla's face was grim but determined. She looked each of the girl's in the eye before responding. "Do you really think he'd want to live like this? A man like him bein' played an' toyed with while a piece of *goushi* like Atherton looks on an' gloats? 'cause that's what his life'll be like an' we'd be the ones doin' it. Again an' again an' again." She paused. "Like the Captain said, it ain't right. But it could also mean salvation for us. So. Choice is clear. Do we kow-tow to Atherton an' continue doin' his dirty work or do we take a chance an' try to gain freedom for us all?"

* * * * *

It was odd and beyond unsettling. Shepherd Book paused and looked at Zoe. "Are you sure this is the place?"

Tense and so keyed up her normally fluid movements seemed brittle, Zoe marked the path they had taken with keen eyes. The murky fog now clung lower to the ground so she could make out their surroundings with a clarity that had not been there first time around. The place had a funny dank smell. Musty almost. River had called it methane gas. But Zoe possessed a very acute sense of direction and she was sure. "It is."

Jayne leaned foward cautiously and stared down the hole. It was pretty much rectangular in shape but even he could see, deep as it was, it was empty. "Huh, ya drag us here to look in a gorram grave?"

"It isn't a grave." Corrected the Shepherd calmly. "A grave would be five, six feet deep. A little longer and wider than a coffin - for obvious reasons." Jayne shuddered at the thought but Book ignored him. "This is something else. Looks to be a good ten feet down and notice how the sides aren't completely vertical?"

"Don't see how that makes no difference." Jayne grumbled, getting pissed off and more unamused by the second. Didn't help that he was getting that creepy feeling again.

"Then what is it?" Zoe asked.

"My guess would be an exit or entrance."

She blinked then stared at him, stunned. "*Shenme*?" There was almost a laugh in her voice as she resisted the notion. "If that were the case there'd be a way out of the hole, Shepherd, an' no offence, what I'm seeing is a place with no way out."

"Not now." Nodded Book. "I would say the sides have crumbled a fair bit, enough to make getting out near impossible. All that movement has most certainly covered the entrance."

Zoe gave him an incredulous look. "Are you sayin' the Cap'n went down into the earth, Shepherd?"

He laughed briefly, surprised into a flash of humour that quickly vanished as he replied. "*Bu qu*. I'm sayin' the Captain would not have been able to get out on his own."

The uneasiness building in Jayne was making him twitchier than a man dancing on the pressure plate of a mine. Gorrammit, he knew he shouldn't have come back. Rutting ghosts were playing with their gorram minds. "He ain't here, let's go!"

Both Zoe and Book stared at him. Book's expression held a measure of understanding and compassion. "Shouldn't we look around first? Maybe find out who took him."

"I got a better idea." Zoe had to shake herself out of her depressing thoughts to keep track of the conversation. "What's that?"

"I say we find Badger. He set up this meet, reckon he's behind what happened."

"I hardly think that would be the case, Jayne." Said the Shepherd slowly. "After all, he has used the services of Captain Reynolds and this crew many times. Why end that association now?"

Jayne shrugged. "Maybe he got a better offer."

The mercenary failed to notice the way Zoe shuddered at his words as if someone had just walked over her grave. Made her a mite jumpy. To Book's surprise she seemed to be taking Jayne's suggestion seriously. "I agree. Cap'n ain't here, best we go speak to Badger."

Zoe was one of the bravest people Book knew so why was it that he could literally feel the waves of fear coming off her? What was it she was not telling them? As for Zoe she knew the Shepherd didn't understand about her and the Captain and was in no mood to explain it to him. They were very private people and she was reluctant to turn her back on a friend but with no clues as to what had happened it made sense to review the events that had brought them here starting with the jumped up little King-pin who had hired the Captain in the first place.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shenme* = what? *wangba dan* = fucking bastard *xie xie ni* = thank you *diyu* = hell *wode ma* = mother of God *dong ma* = understand *jiandan* = simple *goushi* = crap/dog shit *bu qu* = no (lit. no go)


Tuesday, May 31, 2005 10:34 AM


Oh, no! Zoe means to fly off to Badger right when Mal's new friends are trying to get him to his ship. Good story!

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 8:30 AM


A fine character assassination of Atherton Wing! Horrible slime-ball that he is.

And more nice whores! Yay!


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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.