Badlands (chapter 3)
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Well. This definitely went in a new direction.



Jayne paced the common room like a caged animal. "I ain’t sittin’ here waitin’ to get shot! Now I jus’ told ya they know where we are!"

"They won’t come at night," Zoe answered calmly. "That’s not Patience’s style."

The rest of Serenity’s crew silently weighed this while Jayne continued to pace and mutter. "Layin’ in a bunk while they surround us don’t sound too restful to me."

"There’s nothing else we can do tonight," Zoe replied. "And if we don’t get some rest before morning, we’re dead in the water."

"Except - you know - in the desert," Wash added.

"Stop helping, honey," Zoe smiled.

"What about captain and the others?" Jayne blurted out. "They’re our ticket off this rock, Wash said so hi’self. We find them-"

"I tend to agree with Jayne," Simon said.

"If I want your opinion, you go se-" Jayne started. "I mean... yeah."

Wash did a double take. "Could we back up to the part where Simon turns into someone who agrees with Jayne? I think I missed that the first time."

The doctor raised his eyes from the floor. "It’s not just the captain out there. There’s the shepherd and... and Kaylee."

As Simon continued, River, who had been curled in a corner, slowly stood and leveled a lowered, piercing stare at Jayne.

The mercenary looked as though he’d just tried Mudder’s Milk for the first time. He shifted, fidgeted, and eventually interrupted Simon just to get his mind off the girl. "Doc’s right. We don’t find Kaylee, don’t none o’ this matter noway." As he finished, still warily watching River, he started moving his head left and right to try to break her visual death grip. She swayed with him.

Then she spoke, distantly, never breaking the connection. "The answer’s there." All eyes turned to her, following her gaze across the room to Jayne. "Just have to show them. That’s how it works."


Jayne left the room, muttering to Zoe as he passed. "At least somebody’s bein’ sensible."


Hooves thundered against rock, and the chill wind of the badlands swept past the faces of three people with no destination.

"Patience must be gettin’ soft in her old age," Mal said. "Time was she’d be right on our heels by now."

The shepherd gave a disbelieving look. "You know she let us go, right? That we’re probably heading straight into an ambush?"

"You'd rather stay and wait for Niska?" Mal asked.

"Good point."

The captain put a finger to his ear. They had found the battered shuttle transmitter in one of the saddlebags, something Patience probably intended as a joke. Mal wasn’t laughing. Kaylee had wired this particular device straight into the ship’s ears, so they should be able to hear anything – incoming or outgoing – that Wash could. So far there was nothing but static.

He pulled on the reins of his horse. "Whoa, there." The two figures flanking him also came to a shuffling halt. "Besides," Mal said mechanically as he surveyed the landscape, "now we got horses, weapons... and just maybe a fightin’ chance. Awful generous of Patience."

"I like ‘er," Kaylee said brightly.

Book slowly turned her way. "Excuse me?"

"My horse," Kaylee smiled, patting her steed. "I like ‘er. Think I’ll call ‘er Serenity."

Mal only heard the final word. "Yeah, this is the place," he said as his eyes finished their sweep over the valley.


"Look where I’m pointing," Kaylee said. "Look."

Jayne made his way across the engine room to a metal panel and opened it, revealing a tangle of wires and flashing lights.

"Now it’s very simple," Kaylee said. "Take the blue wire to your right-"

He reached across the panel, and his fingers closed inside the tangle.

"No!" she grimaced. "That’s the secondary crossover. The right. Your other side."

Jayne’s hand moved to the right and slid back into the tangle.

Kaylee’s eyes closed. "That’s right. Right there."

There was only the two of them now. Everything else was gone.

His hand continued its journey up the inside of her left leg, his other hand circling to the small of her bare back. Both hands found their targets. A shaking moan filled his ears, made him feel like his insides were on fire. Jayne’s arms flexed and pulled her into his lips until he was drunk on engine grease and strawberries.

Her body arched into him. Limbs flailed at sweaty skin. She pleaded his name; pleaded for release from her own passion. There was none. No way to put out the fire.

A hand slid down his face, and Jayne’s eyes opened.

He was in his bunk. Someone was on top of him. His hand shot to a pistol, and he grabbed the figure by the neck and rolled over onto it.

Onto River.

"Ye soo! What’n the..." Jayne stammered. "Can’t ya go be crazy in your own room? I was havin’ a real good dream too."

"I know," River smiled, panting.

He was suddenly very aware of the warmth of her body underneath him.

"River!" Simon had appeared in the doorway. "River what are you...?" His eyes went from River to Jayne and back.

Jayne leapt off the girl as though he had been scalded.

River’s face fell at her brother’s expression. "I’m sorry, Simon," she sobbed. "I just – I just wanted to see how it works."

"It’s okay," Simon reassured her, casting a glance at Jayne. "I’ll take her back to our room." He put an arm around her and led her into the hallway.

They had already disappeared when Jayne regained enough sense to speak. "She could stay..."


The bonfire crackled, spitting out amber sparks. Mal watched them dance in the air, and he thought about the war.

Patience probably guessed he would come to this valley, and why. He realized that now. And if she did, they’d be humped come sunrise.

The shepherd was off resting, but Kaylee had said it was too cold to sleep. So here she was warming her hands and then plopping down beside Mal.

She offered him a flask and he took a whiff. Whiskey. Must’ve been in the saddlebags.

"Still nothin’ but static?" she asked.

He just gave her what he hoped was a steadying smile.

"This ish a nice place. Nice and... blue," Kaylee said, groggily smiling at the sky. "Cept... cept nobody t’dance with." The last word twisted as she tried to choke back tears.

"Now you don’t go readin’ too much into it," he said. "We’ll mount up and go find’em tomorrow."

Her soft weeping continued as she leaned into him. "So cold."

For a few seconds there was only the wind.

"Captain?" Her chin rose, and her words fogged into his face. "There won’t be a tomorrow, will there?"

"Little Kaylee..."

He found himself watching the amber sparks flash across her eyes. They looked so different there. And those eyes had somehow gotten a lot closer to him. Her mouth was forming his name, but there were only heavy breaths and amber sparks.

"-anyone there? Mal, can you hear me?" Inara cried desperately in his ear.

"Wuo de ma!" His eyes went wide, still looking at Kaylee. "Inara??"

Kaylee grimaced, and then shrugged wearily. "Okay. Sure."

"Mal is that you?" Inara said in his ear. "You weren’t waiting."

"Screw it." Kaylee clumsily hurled herself at him, knocking him off balance. "I'm 'nara. Take me ri’ here! Ri’ here in th’ dust!"

"What was that? I didn’t quite get that. Mal?" Inara asked.

Kaylee had passed out before the two of them hit the ground. Mal gently laid her on the desert sand near the fire, his thumb wiping away the paths of her tears.

"I’m done waiting," Mal said to Inara. "It’s high time I left the past in the past. Set my sights on the big picture."

"Mal, what are you saying?" asked the voice in his ear.

He took a long swig from Kaylee’s whiskey.

"Inara, I-"



Shepherd Book crossed the sand, past the dying embers of the fire, to the ghost sitting in the purple pre-dawn glow.

"Quite a sky, isn’t it," Book said.

"I reckon so," came the captain’s croaking voice.

"All those stars and all that sky, stretching out forever," the shepherd said. "You can put things in front of it – obstacles of every kind – but you can’t take it away. Doesn’t matter where I am or what trials I’m facing, I can look at the sky and there’s all of that heaven. All laid out right there reminding me that there’s a higher power."

"You see all that?" Mal said. "Must be some sky."

"What do you see when you look at the sky?" Book asked.

"Sun’s comin’ up."


Chapter 4, finale/epilogue


Wednesday, October 26, 2005 1:36 AM


Oooh, I like, I'm very intrigued.

I loved Jayne's dream, it was perfect! I particularly liked the wire detail. And Kaylee's drunken desperation, kinda sad, but I giggled all the same.

-->"I'm 'nara. Take me ri’ here! Ri’ here in th’ dust!"

You did this very well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 4:19 AM


"But who was the little girl that sprung them?"

Just some girl from the town. The preacher spoke to her from the window and convinced her to free them. Was that too subtle?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 5:58 AM


"sun's comin' up"
typical mal response to a body bein' all poetical


Wednesday, October 26, 2005 6:42 AM


Very much enjoying this and looking forward to seeing what happens next. Hope Mal, Book and Kaylee get back to Serenity before Patience has a chance to do something evil enough to give Niska pause. Ali E :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 10:30 AM


The girl was a trap from Patience... let them think she was a rescue when they were just playing straight into her hands.

Hmmm... I'm trying to follow River, here. As best anyone CAN follow her. What is it she's saying?


Friday, October 28, 2005 4:20 PM


"She can stay..."

Gorram hi-larious!!! Great chapter.

Now onto the end...

- Soul

Sunday, April 23, 2006 11:16 AM


It was good but the drunk, desperate Kaylee freaked me out. Over all it was very well done.


Special Hell ;)


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