STOLEN MOMENTS: 33. "Deliverance"
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"While searching for the Captain, Jayne accidentally stumbles across a clue. Badger looks for someone to blame for his predicament."



SUMMARY: "While searching for the Captain, Jayne accidentally stumbles across a clue. Badger looks for someone to blame for his predicament." 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.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Zoe Warren was beyond frustrated. The further into the graveyard they went the more tense and bad tempered she became. The Preacher said nothing, knowing that her worsening mood was caused by worry. Jayne was less diplomatic.

"Told ya this is *yige cuowe*. Never should'a come back."

Zoe spun round on him so quickly that the mercenary found himself taking a step back before he could stop himself.

"You'd best pray we find the Cap'n otherwise you won't be comin' back, *dong ma*?"

His eyes widened in alarm. "*Wode ma*, Zoe, ain't my fault."

"Yes it is. You panicked Jayne. Shot me an' left the Cap'n behind. I'm in no mood for any of your whinin'. Only reason you ain't already dead is 'cause we may need the firepower to get Mal out."

"*Duibuqi* Zoe, didn't mean to leave him behind." Jayne muttered in low pained voice.

Zoe realised that the mercenary actually felt bad about what had happened, upset and embarrassed at his less than heroic reaction. Funny how different the graveyard looked without that foul mist. "What about shootin' me? You plan on that, Jayne?"

"*Diyu, bu qu*!" He blurted before realising it was Zoe's gallows humour but even that mocking darkness was skating thinly over a most definite and immovable edge of steel. Jayne was not stupid enough to think much of his chances for survival if they lost the Captain. His life would not be worth a prayer and he knew it. Couldn't say he wouldn't deserve it neither. Was more than a mite sobering. Plus he really did want to make this right. He liked the Captain, respected him even and that wasn't nothing. "We'll get him back, Zoe."

She raised her eyebrows and just stared at him.

"If he ain't already dead."

Eyes flashing like struck flints Zoe glared at him. Jayne spoke quickly, his voice taking on the urgency of desperation. He hadn't meant to say that last sentence out loud. Rutting *diyu*, when would he learn to keep his gorram mouth shut?

"Not sayin' he's dead nor nothin' but this *is* a gorram graveyard an' it's spooky as *diyu*."

"Jayne," Said Book calmly. "The mist has gone."

Jayne leaned in towards the Preacher, his expression so grave and serious that no one could doubt he believed what he was saying. "Ain't the mist we gotta worry about, it's the gorram ghosts."

"Jayne!" Snapped Zoe impatiently. "For the last time..."

A long low groan seeped through the air and froze the words forming on Zoe's tongue. Jayne visibly paled while the Preacher turned in a slow deliberate arc, his eyes narrowing, hoping to find the source of the sound.

The mercenary stepped back again and this time he stumbled, eyes flying wide as his heart leapt into his mouth with dread. "What the...?"

Then he disappeared in a tumble of backward wheeling arms and legs, his words strangled then muffled. Shepherd Book had been cradling his rifle but now the weapon was cocked and pointed where Jayne had been standing. "Jayne? Answer me!"

No reply. Zoe cocked her gun and walked carefully towards the mercenary's last position, a nod to Book encouraging him to carry on talking. Seconds later she stopped and peered down at her feet. The ground was tussocky and vegetation grew in clumps, some large enough to hide behind. It was behind one such clump that she found what Jayne had stumbled across. A hidden entrance. Leaning down to look into the opening, her words were cautious but calm. "Looks like Jayne did come in handy after all."

* * * * *

"Stop complainin'!"

Badger couldn't help it. Everywhere seemed to hurt coupled with which he was in the foulest mood he could remember in living memory. The doctor went back to peeling off the scorched clothing, each tug taking another layer of skin off with it. The little King Pin was spitting out obscenities and threats imbetween crying out with the pain.

"You gorram saddist!"

The doctor paused. "I can leave any time you want me to." He said mildly.

Despite the agony he was in Badger had sense enough not to send away the only doctor he could find who would treat him. And just as importantly keep no records. No way in *diyu* did he want this getting out. Had enemies enough without setting himself up as a source of entertainment. Badger was panting heavily with the effort to stay calm. "Just get on with it doc before I'm tempted to have my men peel the skin off your ruttin' body, see 'ow you like it."

Dr Paul Robbins gave Badger his only warning in a masterpiece of understatement. "This is going to hurt."

A sarcastic murderous comment was about to expel from the little King Pin's mouth when a new wave of bright searing agony struck him. Words were beyond him, there was only pain. Dimly he was aware of the droning voice of the doctor, the implaccable hands continuing to peel off the clothing that was melded to his skin. Tears were running down Badger's face. Then a cool soothing balm was carefully applied to his burnt body with particular attention being paid to his back which had taken the full impact of both blast and flame. He could not tell how many times he passed out, the emotionless march of hours having no mercy. When he next opened his eyes he was lying on his uninjured stomach. The gel cool enough to take the heat out of his wounds making the agony only marginally more bearable. "What ya doin' to me?"

"The body is not a pleasure park for arsonists. You are lucky to be alive."

"If that's supposed to cheer me up you're *cuode, dong ma*? Can't say I approve much... Ow! Watch what you're doin'.... of your sense of humour."

"*Zhenjing xialai* I didn't mean to upset you."

Badger was about to demand something for the pain when he began to feel detached from what was happening. Whatever the doc had put in the gel it was good stuff. A smile joined up the blisters on his face but he didn't feel a thing. Amazing! The doctor gave a little sigh then got back to work on the long laborious job of cleaning Badger and Finney up then grafting new skin to replace the old. He could have just given Badger something to knock him out but the man had been getting on his nerves something fiercesome and while his hypocratic oath needed the salve of giving the annoying little man pain killers, keeping him just this side of awake was enough entertainment to dull the distaste of putting him back together.

* * * * *

Kaylee was anxious. "What d'you suppose is takin' so long?"

She was in Inara's shuttle, barely able to do more than wring her hands together while the Companion tried to calm her. Truth to tell she was worried too but admitting as much to Kaylee right now would not help. Someone had to stay calm while they waited for word from Zoe. "I'm sure we'll hear something soon. It's a very big graveyard Kaylee and they won't want to rush this in case they miss something."

"What if they don't find the Cap'n?"

Inara's response was firm. "They'll find him."

"Yeah, but how can you be so sure?"

The Companion put an arm around Kaylee's shoulder and looked her in the eye. They were sitting on the end of her bed, two cups of tea lying untouched on the tray on Inara's small table. "If there is one thing I know about Malcolm Reynolds it's not to underestimate him. That man has walked away from more appointments with death than I can count, *mei mei*."

"An' what about River?" Kaylee sniffed, her heart heavy and getting waterlogged with tears while more moisture crowded into the corner of her anxious eyes. Worried for her Captain and terrified for her friend.

"*Fang xin* Kaylee. Between Jayne's tracking skills and Zoe's determination Mal and River are as good as found."

As comforting as Inara's words were Kaylee could not embrace that certainty but the Companion had no intention of letting the mechanic dwell on anything.

"There is something you can do to help, *mei mei*." The girl looked up hopefully. "Anythin' 'nara, just tell me what to do."

Inara smiled, she was very fond of Kaylee. They all were and with good reason. "*Qu*. Why don't you go and spend some time with Simon? He must be going out of his mind with worry. Right now I think he could use a friend."

A prick of guilt brought a flush to Kaylee's cheek. "Good gorram, I clean forgot about Simon!"

"Then go!"

Kaylee stood up then looked guiltily at the now cold tea. She could not keep the sorry out of her voice. "I didn't drink my tea. *Duibuqi* 'nara, I know how hard it can be to get supplies..."

"Friends are more important than tea, *mei mei*." She said kindly. "In fact, friends are more important than anything."

Even as anxious and upset as she was Kaylee had to smile at the heart warming thought. "an' we're friends, ain't we 'nara?"

"Yes, Kaylee, *zui hao de*."

* * * * *

The Captain had to admit that they had been walking for rutting hours. To his mind one gorram tunnel looked much like any other. With a huff of frustration he looked at River, not in the least disconcerted by the calm almost serene look on the girl's face. After all, this was River.

"Where you takin' us, River? Don't feel no closer to the gorram surface, *dong ma*?"

She smiled at him. "Have to get the children first, Captain."

He blinked and looked at the pale faces that echoed her own, all dutifully following River just as the Captain and whores were doing. "Might wanna rephrase that, seems the children are all here."

River shook her head, her eyes glazing with sadness. A sharp poignant distress pierced the Captain's mind and he had to close his eyes against the pain. "*Bu qu*, the children."

Images of babes in arms and infants, toddlers at best, blossomed in his mind. He felt the heartache of the whores and realised with a pang that she was talking about their children. In River's mind the Lost Ones that had been found were not children any more. They were survivors. Orphans in mind, body and spirit that River intended to bring back into the world somehow. He wasn't quite sure how she intended to do it, there being no doubt wanted posters on every one of them. The gorram Alliance might give up on the odd escapee but not twenty of them and geniuses every one. As for the whores' children he was abashed to admit even to himself that their existence had slipped his mind. He turned to Carla. "How many kids we talkin' about?"


Her reticence was kind of puzzling to him. Back at the whore house he had difficulty shutting them up, now they were quiet and subdued in a way that was all kinds of unsettling to him. "How old?"

"Mine - Zack - is 18 months old." Said Carla, trying to keep from showing the emotion that was tearing her heart into itty bitty shreds. "Anna's girl - Trisha - is nearly three. Emma has twins - Christian and Lucy - they're nearly two."

Mal nodded. Relieved it was not more then feeling guilty at his relief. The guilt was short lived though, there being no mileage or help in regret. It was up to him to deliver them from this evil and he aimed to do it even if it took the last breath from his body. Not nobody was going to harm a hair on those children's heads. "Where he keepin' them?"

Before the women could answer River spoke, voice now urgent. "*Mashang*, before he moves them!"

The Captain opened his mouth to speak when River flooded his mind with images. Horror on horror, he saw that evil spiteful *wangba dan's* intentions and had difficulty hiding the fact from showing on his face. No need to tell the womenfolk. They were hurting enough. Time to face a world of sorrow if Atherton Wing went through with his plan before they could stop him. Annoyed not to be armed he fed his anger and picked up the pace, holding up the skirt of his dress so he could walk faster. Behind him Carla and the women exchanged anxious looks. No idea what was happening but knowing they were too committed now to turn back. Besides, Carla trusted the Captain though what to make of River she had no idea. As for the Lost Ones, they had not said a word between them and it was beyond creepifying. Not that she expected violence from them but she had hoped to relax her own fears and anxieties by learning their story and sharing some common ground. Looking at them Carla realised something that left her sad. They didn't have any common ground.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*yide cuowe* = big mistake *dong ma* = understand? *wode ma* = mother of God *duibuqi* = sorry *diyu* = hell *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *cuode* = wrong *zhenjing xialai* = calm down *mei mei* = little sister *qu* = yes (lit. go) *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *zui hao de* = the best *mashang* = on the double/immediately/quickly/right away *wangba dan* = fucking bastard


Tuesday, June 28, 2005 9:14 AM


Very nice as always.

Friday, July 1, 2005 7:28 AM


Very funny in parts at the start. Jayne and his big mouth "If he ain't already dead". LOL. And Zoe's "Looks like Jayne did come in handy after all."

And I have to admit to smiling at the idea of Mal having to lift his skirts so that he could walk faster. That was a very Joss-like moment, combining the ridiculous with the downright scary.

Sweet, sweet scene between Inara and Kaylee. Poor Simon!


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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.