Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"The Captain and Zoe go down to New Melbourne to meet a contact. River tries to warn the others when it all goes horribly wrong."



SUMMARY: "The Captain and Zoe go down to New Melbourne to meet a contact. River tries to warn the others when it all goes horribly wrong." 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

* * * * *

"Why did you do it?"

The Captain frowned at his second. What the good gorram was this? "Do what?"

Although she was squinting into the harsh sun of New Melbourne he felt it was really a frown at him. Her subtle mark of disapproval aired on a neutral planet. "Forgive Jayne."

"Who said I forgave him?"

This time she turned her head and looked him in the eye. "Still walkin' an' talkin'."

The reference to Patience was not lost on him. And she had shot him twice. First time could be forgiven. The second? His stupidity. Only Zoe had a way of not saying it that hurt more. Like he had somehow let her down in the process. Kind of the feeling he was getting now but sharper. The only one besides Jayne who had been pleased with the Captain's decision had been the Preacher but then that was no surprise to anyone. Apart from the 'turning the other cheek' part of his faith, Book and Jayne were friends. Or. As close to it as made no never mind. Mal wasn't quite sure what that made him and the mercenary but the upside was that he didn't fear being set up or betrayed by the man again. Hence the upturn in his mood as his body recovered from this latest brush with death.

They stopped at the approach to a large town square. Even without any scanning equipment they could tell it was empty. More than that the standing structures looked so delapidated as to be ready to crumble, every brick and stone carrying an air of abandonment. The desolation disfigured the shine on their expectations. The Captain felt a deep sense of unease grip him. It grew exponentially as the minutes dragged and nothing changed. All he wanted was to get the good gorram out of there. Didn't fancy being shot again, this time fatally. He was still feeling sore and a mite tender from last time.

"You sure the contact wanted to meet here?"

Zoe nodded. "Checked it twice."

The Captain turned to stare at her. Agog. "What? You came, saw this, an' still thought it was a good idea?"

"Never said it was a *good* idea, sir."

He sounded irritated now. Annoyed if she was any judge. "You never said it was *fei hua* an' a waste of our gorram time either."

"Must have been an oversight, sir," She deadpanned. "Won't happen again."

He nodded slowly. "Good, 'cause if it did? I'd have to rethink..."

The Captain never finished his sentence as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head and watched as figures began to emerge out of formerly deserted and empty ruins before his very eyes. Involuntarily he began to step backwards. Putting distance between himself and any possible threat. It took a second before he realised Zoe hadn't moved.

"Zoe..." His voice trailed off as he glanced over at his second, alarmed to see her raising both hands in the air. Real careful and slow like. As if someone had the drop on them. Mal turned and looked behind him, his breath catching as a gun barrel was shoved in his face. Why couldn't anything ever go smooth?

* * * * *

Simon had to admit that seeing Jayne sulk was improving his own mood. The mercenary was always trying to rub him up the wrong way, making comments he in no way had any right to make about Simon, his sister or Simon's feelings for Kaylee though the latter never happened when Serenity's mechanic was close enough to hear. So any time Jayne ended up on the wrong side of happy was a bonus for the doctor. Besides the man *always* deserved it.

"Not true. Penance."

The doctor almost jumped at River's sudden proximity, her words whispered softly into his ear. It was disturbing how often she seemed able to pluck the thoughts out of his head but the Captain was wrong. She wasn't a Reader. Just a damaged little girl.

"Not so damaged I can't heal." She sing-songed seriously. "Not so little either."

Guilt flared inside him then pain. She had been doing so well. Hadn't needed medicating in more than a year. It was another reason he was annoyed as *diyu* with Jayne.

"Not his fault." Said River, her voice conversational now but still quiet enough that the big man never heard. "But he's changing."

That caught Simon's attention, warily he looked at his sister, making sure he could still see Jayne out of the corner of his eye as the big man rumaged for something to eat. Something not protein cubes. "Changing?"

River nodded, a smile touching her lips, eyes sparkling with something he could not quite define. "The only one who needs to worry about Jayne is Jayne."

Simon blinked. Disappointment crowding in. He had thought she was going to say something coherent. River sighed then suddenly her head jerked up, all the quiet happy musings drowned out with incoming. "Betrayed!"

Her brother was about to ask what she expected from a mercenary but River was not looking at Jayne. She was staring wide eyed with terror at him. "River? What are you talking about?"

At that moment the Preacher and Kaylee came into the commons. Inara's shuttle was due to dock with Serenity in the next hour. Should give the Captain and Zoe time enough to meet their contact and find out what the job was. River turned, her eyes wide and grief stricken. Alarmed, Kaylee began to run towards her but River shook her head, dodged the Shepherd's comforting hand and stopped in front of Jayne. Her look pleading, anxious. Ready to beg. He was mashing something gruesome looking in a bowl but seeing the look on her face froze. He hadn't forgotten the time she had cut on him. "Betrayed!"

His expression turned pained then twisted into a scowl. "That's in the past, Cap said..."

She cut him off. No time for misunderstandings. Her small cold hands caught his, the bowl rocking on the work surface when he let go of it in surprise. It was not often River deliberately reached out to touch him. "No, different. Set up."

Understanding crashed in on him hard and stinging. He didn't need telling twice. Girl was crazy but seemed to have an inner gorram radar when it came to looking after this crew especially its' bullet-prone Captain. "You sayin' they're in danger?"

River nodded, her hands tugging on his more urgently now. "Surrounded, can't let them be taken. Have to hurry!"

Shepherd Book was looking anxiously from Jayne to River. "Taken?"

It was Jayne who answered not River, all thought of food forgotten. "Zoe an' the Cap. Looks like this is another job *qu nanfang*." The big man was already moving, his expression set grim. "C'mon Shepherd, we got us souls need savin'."

Simon and Kaylee exchanged startled glances, River hurrying after Jayne. After a moment's hesitation Book followed them out of the commons area then headed for his room to get his rifle. Kaylee looked worried. "Cap'n an' Zoe in trouble?"

The doctor did not know what to say to her so drew his wife into his arms and hugged her. So many emotions could be put into a hug that were too awkward for his clumsy words. He understood that now. He began to soothe and hush her as Kaylee trembled. "It's going to be alright, *bao bei*."

Jayne was all economy of movement now, his long brisk steps eating up the distance to his bunk. Climbing down he didn't at first notice that River had followed him, smoothly checking each piece before tooling himself up. His last armament was Vera, the satisfying sound of the chamber being racked brought a feral grin to his face. As he turned he found himself staring into River's face. The girl had a determined look on her face, one hand held palm out. Jayne shook his head.

"Uh huh, I give ya a gun Mal'll kill me for sure."

"Don't want a gun."

He blinked. "*Shenme*? Then whatcha got your hand out for?"

"Want two."

He was about to rip into a tirade about how she couldn't have any weapons when Wash's voice came over the com reporting some kind of disturbance on the surface. Split second decision made, Jayne gave her two handguns. "Hope you know what to do with 'em." He growled, pushing passed her.

"*Fang xin*, I never miss."

He made no comment on how much that thought disturbed him, scrambling back up the ladder as if his bunk was on fire. Shepherd Book was already waiting for him, they jogged to the bridge to see what Wash had to say. The pilot looked grim. "Looks like trouble. A few minutes after the Cap'n an' Zoe went into the ruins some men appeared, too many for the planned meet."

"Bring Serenity in as close as ya can without bein' seen." Said Jayne.

Wash's eyes widened. "Are you *shenjingbing*? They can see us now, how do you suppose we land without being spotted?"

"We don't, we take the shuttle." Said River calmly.

Book nodded. "Good idea." He looked at the pilot. "Is the spare shuttle fueled?"

"*Zongshi*. Cap'n insists."

"Well, this is one time his foresight has come in useful."

Wash wasn't sure how to respond to that as he watched them leave the bridge. Within minutes the shuttle was taking off. Heart in his mouth, Wash watched and prayed. He didn't think his heart would survive if anything happened to Zoe.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*fei hua* = garbage/nonsense *diyu* = hell *qu nafang* = to go south *bao bei* = precious/treasure *shenme* = what *shenjingbing* = crazy *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *zhongshi* = always


Tuesday, July 12, 2005 10:30 AM


I just love the way you write Zoe deadpanning. Spot on.

And what a change to have Jayne being the one who understands River. After all this time, how can Simon be so dumb!

Looking forward to the next one

Tuesday, August 2, 2005 12:17 AM


At last - chance to catch up with this series. Reckon I must read slower than you write, Ali. And then there's holidays ...

Anyhow, another great chapter. You know what I loved about this? River and Jayne - it wouldn't take much to convince me of that pairing right now *g*

Zoe was brilliant in this too. Absolutely spot on.

Monday, July 10, 2006 10:24 PM


I liked Simons reaction to Rivers conversation.

It sounds like Simon, believing everything that's written in the books even when his own experience tells him the contrary.

Also I get to see river kick some ass.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.