Extreme Unction
Monday, February 10, 2003

The living heart of Serenity bleeds to death. A volley at Succatash.


Note: Hi y'all. Succatash wrote one paragraph of a story, then said I wrote it. But what was it about? Well, here it is. It's fresh and has no beta, dong ma? I couldn't just let that paragraph hang there, could I? Even if it turns out like this--a little maudlin and highly melodramatic.

Disclaimer: Firefly belongs to people not me. This is also all Succatash's fault.

Feedback: Hell, yes. And I'm sure there'll be some errors, so really let me have it.

Extreme Unction

Despite the bleeding wound in his groin, Mal stood tall and slowly eyed his crew, one by one. They shuffled nervously before him, avoiding his eyes. He loved them all, though most of them didn’t know it, and probably wouldn’t ever know it, not now. Mal tried to catch Zoe’s eye, but she stared stubbornly down at the floor by Wash’s feet.

It was as if….

It was as if they knew that this was the end. They had come full circle. They were back on Persephone. River was taken. Simon was dead. And no doctor in the verse could help him now, shot in the thigh as he was, bleeding a fountain on the dusty deckplates. Jayne still held his weapon, aimed at some point past Mal’s head, back into the docks. The engines whirred and Wash fidgeted, not liking what he heard.

“Go on! Get outta here.” He felt his heart rip in two as he said it. Then it quartered itself as Kaylee choked back a cry. They stood there in front of him: Book, Jayne, Zoe, Kaylee and Wash. Book’s eyes were shut, his lips trembling a little. “Shut up, Preacher!” Book didn’t open his eyes, even as Mal started to sink slowly to the ground. Jayne roared and Kaylee sank slowly into Wash, leaving only Zoe. Why wouldn’t she look at him?

That morning, only hours before, they had been so happy. A quick stop on Persephone, that was all, before a long-ass run into the black. Get as much space between them and civilization as was possible. See what there was to see on the rim and do what they could to advance the cause of liberty.

When Serenity touched down at the docks, Badger’s men had been waiting for them. Made Zoe a might tetchy, but she had been given a few starts as of late. Mal had figured that Badger was just being thorough. And he was. Thorough enough to make sure the crew of Serenity made their last under-the-table deal for him.

“I shoulda listened to River,” Mal whispered, feeling the grit of the ground on his jaw. “She always knew.”

And that bastard Badger had known too. Put a few things together past their trip to Jiangyin for him.

“Pretty lady, you got there, on that crew,” he’d said, preening in front of a cracked mirror. Mal had fought the urge to smack the asshole’s idiot bowler right off his head.

“Got several pretty ladies.”

“This one’s the youngish one. Very thin. Speaks a lovely tone.”

“That’s my mechanic.”

“No, Mal. It’s not your mechanic. I met your mechanic and though a fine one to look at, she didn’t try to convince me she was from the old homestead.”

Mal hadn’t replied. He knew without looking that Zoe had slipped the snap on her holster. Mal hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

“Long, long brown hair,” Badger had continued. “But I never saw anyone or anything like her off Doyton Colony. So I did myself a little research.” Badger strutted around his office. Mal counted dust bunnies to avoid looking at him, afraid that eye contact would make him want to slap the smirk off Badger’s poorly shaved chin.

“Did you now?”

“I did. And what I found is that she is not and never has been to Doyton. She comes from Osiris.” Mal felt Zoe flinch and cursed her for it. “Ah, Zoe! I’m right, am I?”

Zoe didn’t speak, but cut her eyes at Badger with such force and chill, Mal was positive that he should have frozen and shattered right there on his very nice rug.

“I’m right. She’s from Osiris and she’s worth a great lot of money.” Badger returned to his mirror and continued to preen, adjusting his tie and checking his teeth.

“Ain’t no concern of yours, Badger.”

“Oh, but it is Mal. You see…”

“No, I don’t see.” Mal cut him off. “I don’t see now and I don’t think you have anything I want to take a look at.”

“You do. And you will, because I’ve got Alliance on your ship right now. Any minute, they’ll be in your ship, in your home, and when they find what they’re looking for, won’t I be the lucky one.”

“You’ll be lucky if you aren’t bled from every hole in your miserable body.” Mal’s hand moved to his gun.

“Now, Mal. Let’s not have ourselves a gunfight.” Badger remained infuriatingly smug. “Let’s us just sit here and have a spot of tea whilst we wait for the cavalry.”

“Go to hell, Badger,” Mal had turned to leave. Then, there was the click of a misfire and he was running, praying that Zoe was behind him.

When they got back to Serenity, Wash was frantic. Jayne had armed himself and was pacing the cargo bay.

“Something’s wrong, Mal. Little man upstairs is fixin’ to have a stroke. Says we got incoming and there’s a port lock on us.”

“Simon! Kaylee!” Mal shouted as he clanged up the steps. He looked down to see Zoe’s hands freeze above the bay control panel. Badger’s men, with weapons drawn, sauntered around both corners. Three of them stood sight to sight with Jayne and Zoe.

“Captain?” Simon walked slowly up from the rear of the cargo bay.

“Get outta here! Run!” Mal shouted but before the words were all the way out of his mouth, a shot zinged over Simon’s shoulder, hitting the bulkhead, the force of it shoving him forward.

“Captain?” Kaylee this time, but from above him. “We got a port lock I can’t undo, and oh wuh du mah, Simon?”

One of Badger’s henchmen had grabbed him and was holding him around the neck, gun at his temple. Simon had the dignity not to struggle.

“Where is that muffin?” Badger, who had taken the walk from his office to the ship at a far more leisurely pace, sauntered into Serenity, his hands behind his back.

Mal’s mind raced. Book, nowhere. River, nowhere and stay there. Wash, on the bridge, get us out of here. Inara, where are you, don’t come home.

“Where is she?” Badger’s voice rang through the ship, a gutteral cockney singsong. Mal watched Jayne’s arms twitch. Mal willed him to stay steady, not to fire. Not to get them in a close quarters fire fight.

“Get off my boat, Badger.” Mal hadn’t moved from his position halfway up the stairs, even though he had raised his hands. The gesture was half to concede that Badger might, after all, have the upper hand in this situation and half to will Kaylee to stay back and above the bay.

“You’re not in a position to be giving any orders, Captain.” Badger had hissed the last word, spitting out the plosives.

“Thought we had no quarrel, Badger. Thought we got jobs done for you ain’t nobody else would do.” He began to ease his way back down the steps. Serenity shuddered beneath him. He could feel Wash’s frantic push through the deckplates. He heard Kaylee squeak.

“Well, even if I don’t have a quarrel, someone here is worth a fat lot of credits, wouldn’t you say?” Badger began strolling again, making Serenity’s cargo bay into just another office with mood lighting and musty furniture. Mal watched Simon hyperventilate; watched Zoe’s imperceptible moves backward.

“Plenty of ships worth more in these docks. You know that as well as I do.” Mal reached the bottom of the stairs and moved to a position between Jayne and Zoe, close to the door and to the control panel.

“No, I don’t, Captain Reynolds.” Badger made a bee line for Simon. “This is the doctor is it not?” He slapped the henchman’s arm, hitting Simon’s chin in the process. The henchman gave way and Simon fell out of the choke hold.

“Ain’t got a medic on this boat.” Mal knew it was a poor lie.

“Oh yes you do and here he is. Now where is that sister of yours?”

Mal willed Simon to lie. To think quick. To think quicker than he ever had before in all his days in the ‘verse, think quick and lie through your teeth. Simon stammered, but no words came out.

“Simon?” Kaylee, from above, leaning over the rail. Mal watched Badger as Badger watched Simon’s eyes flash up and back.

“Well, that’s that, then.” In a heartbeat, Badger unholstered his weapon and pressed the muzzle between Simon’s eyes. “Where’s that pretty sister of yours?”

Simon’s jaw worked but no sound came out. A lock of his dark hair fell in front of his eyes, shadowing the crease where the gun dug into this forehead.

“I know you, Badger. I know you don’t make deals with the feds.” Mal couldn’t move anywhere. Zoe’s slow march backward was about to end on his toes.

“I make deals with feds when they’re good deals.”

“I suspect you’ll find out how good it is. Jayne, you want to tell them how good a deal he’ll get from the feds?”

Jayne grimaced. His fingers twitched on the triggers of his guns. He stood there, arms out at right angles to his body, muscles straining, the messiah smith, wesson, colt, and vera.

“Gorrammit, Mal! Just tell me which one I can shoot and let’s get outta here.”

“That’s a good thought, Jayne and you hang onto it.” Mal almost smiled weakly, but again felt Serenity shudder beneath him. When he heard Kaylee’s footsteps clang away, he allowed himself an electron of relief.

“I know this ship, Mal. I know your pilot is up there and that he’s doing his best to get you out of here. But his best won’t be good enough. And I might just take on your engineer as my own, when this happy day is over and I build myself a nice cottage in the country.”

“Can I kill him yet, Mal?”

“In a minute, Jayne. First we got to figure a few things out.”

“Simon. There are people coming to call. I forgot to make anything. There won’t be any refreshments.” River looked pleased as she walked slowly from the common area toward the front of the cargo bay. Zoe, who had been motionless to this point except for her attempt to get to the control panel lowered her gun to a hipshot position. It drew the attention of the thug with his weapon trained on her, but no one else.

River walked slowly but certainly toward Badger, who grinned at her with a mouthful of rotting teeth.

“Hello, Miss. I’ve plenty of refreshments in my suite. Care to join me for a cuppa?”

“River, don’t.” Zoe’s voice was preternaturally steady.

“You’re River, then, for sure.” Badger snatched out a hand and grabbed her wrist. River tried to twist away, but couldn’t. “You’re River?” Badger snagged her close to him so that they were touching nose to nose. “You’re River Tam, lately of Osiris?”

“River drops by occaisionally,” she stuck her bottom lip out in a pout.

“Good enough for me,” said Badger and shot Simon between the eyes.

Simon crumpled to the deck. Zoe took two hipshots, wounding her thug and Jayne’s. Jayne fired once on his own thug, who was dead before he knew it, and one at Badger. Mal beat on the hatch button, but the door wouldn’t rise.

Badger pulled River toward him and herded her out of Serenity as fast as he could. He fired out blindly to his right. Jayne and Zoe fired continuously, but couldn’t hit him. Mal had drawn a bead, when Wash’s voice came over the comm.

“Mal? Zoe?” He sounded as frantic as he ever had.

“Lock it down!” Zoe screamed a return that he couldn’t have heard over the shots. “Lock the bridge down!” One of Badger’s bullets hit her in the side, slamming her onto the floor at Mal’s feet. She lay there, trying to catch back the heaves and stop the burning beneath her armor vest. She was struggling to her feet when the first drops of Mal’s blood hit her.

Mal and Badger had locked onto each other, but the force of Zoe’s body against his had thrown Mal’s shot wide. The distraction of it had thrown Badger’s low. And with River by the neck under one arm, he hit Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the thigh instead of the heart. He didn’t wait to see if Mal would fall. Wound like that in the artery would only take a very few minutes to kill. He pulled River, kicking and screaming, into the crowded docks and disappeared.

Zoe scrambled up as Kaylee and Wash flew from the top decks. Book came from the opposite direction.

Mal pushed Zoe away from him. Jayne emptied a few cartridges into the already dead thugs.

“Tzao gao!” Wash caught Zoe as she wheeled backward. Kaylee tried to press between them to Mal, but Wash pulled her back as well.

Book knelt next to Simon. He rose after only a few seconds, with blood and brain on the knees of his trousers.

“River is taken?” Book breathed at Jayne, who in turn favored him with an unrivaled look of reproach. Wash’s head snapped back and forth between Simon, dead behind him, and Mal, dying in front of his eyes.

Despite the bleeding wound in his groin, Mal stood tall and slowly eyed his crew, one by one. They shuffled nervously before him, avoiding his eyes. He loved them all, though most of them didn’t know it, and probably wouldn’t ever know it, not now. Mal tried to catch Zoe’s eye, but she stared stubbornly down at the floor by Wash’s feet.

“Go. Get off this boat.”

“Cap’n!” Kaylee wailed. She doubled over and retched.

“This ain’t a home no more!” He looked at them. Preacher not bothered by brains on his knees. Jayne, slackjawed. Zoe. Kaylee, turning green, nowhere to look that someone she loved wasn’t dead or bleeding to death. Wash, white and trembling, his eyes welling with defiant fury.

“Goodbye, Mal.” Zoe looked at him, calm and still and strong.

And Malcolm Reynolds closed his eyes and died.

And after that, Kaylee screamed. And she kept screaming. Book held her but she would not be comforted.

Zoe’s orders were precise. Jayne, get your things. Get Kaylee’s things. Get as much as you can carry on your back. Wash, shut her down. Post a message for Inara, but code it. Tell her that as far as the shuttle takes her is where she should leave it. We leave together in ten minutes.

And ten minutes later, Kaylee was motionless. She stood at arms length from Book, unblinking.

“You comin with us, preacher?” Zoe asked. Her voice was flat and distant.

“No. I reckon my journey’s at an end.” Book took a last moment to memorize their faces.

“See you on the rim,” Zoe muttered. She and Wash heaved packs up onto their backs. Jayne cradled Kaylee. The four of them walked out of Serenity.

Book turned around, knelt and quietly prayed for Simon and for Mal. Then he prayed for himself as he waited.


Monday, February 10, 2003 9:08 PM


OMG!!!! You can't kill them! NOOOOO!!!! Please write more, okay? Maybe some closure too....Now I have to go cry.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003 4:28 AM



Dang girl! I'm a Simon fan!

Still, when the end comes, that's the way to end it.

I'm now going to curl up into another fetal postition and suck my thumb.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003 5:14 AM


BTW, HUGE kudos for taking the idea and spinning a compelling yarn, even if I'll need therapy after this!

Sarah, you're a master! Can I have your autograph?

Tuesday, February 11, 2003 5:51 AM


You killed my Simon.
And made Kaylee cry.
(Another sniffle)
Good story....but... Whaaaaaaaa! You killed my Simon!

Eagerly awaiting your next story. Great job!

Tuesday, February 11, 2003 12:12 PM


You killed him. You killed the Captain.

You did it fairly well, but you still killed him. I am in shock.

If Badger dies slowly and painfully in the sequel, preferably at the hands of River and Zoe, I will consider forgiving you. (Don't make Kaylee take part in the revenge, though, unless she kicks him once for Serenity.)

(Editorial comment: 'thigh' and 'groin' are significantly different.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2003 2:11 PM



"Book knelt next to Simon. He rose after only a few seconds, with blood and brain on the knees of his trousers."

Excellent, brave work, Sarahetc! I can't believe how well you tied the story to the original paragraph.

You are god. Who else has the guts and ability to do what you have just done?

Tuesday, February 11, 2003 8:02 PM


Sarah! This is ... I'd say wonderful, but it's not a happy piece at all, so that seems ... inappropriate? It is, however, powerful, moving, and fantastic. Even if (as someone suggested) Mal better wake up and decide it's all a dream soon ...

Phil. (of De Nile)

Wednesday, February 12, 2003 1:09 PM


on the one hand I have to say--whoa, good prose.

the other hand wants to smack the monitor and make it spit out the happy ending.

tell me you're just working out your angst about the cancellation and this is all just a psych trip. could ya? pretty please?

Wednesday, February 12, 2003 1:13 PM


on a side note, "groin" and "thigh" are in the same general area anatomically, but not quite the same, but I figure you were going for the artery in that area...i can't believe i'm having this discussion either!

you killed MAL!! then again, good death scene.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003 4:13 PM


Hi y'all--

Don't know if anybody will read this. I started to make this a thread all its own and then decided that that would be egomaniacal.

A few notes: thigh-groin. Yes, the big femoral artery. Low groin, high thigh. Play along, okay?

This is not the first "death" fic that's been written. It per may haps be the bloodiest. I didn't think it would freak all y'all out so much, or at least as much as it did. I mean-- Channain went Kirk on us! Come back, man!

And I'm going to say it one more time: this is Succatash's fault. I couldn't leave that paragraph hanging there, without resolution, draped in my name. If he wants to write some more Chronicles of Fanfic Writing with some more sample paragraphs, I might see what I could do with those.

Seriously, y'all, I really appreciate the kind words. They are like crack--like roses and cheesecake, as it were.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003 5:01 PM


You. Killed. Mal.

Bad girl. (I shake my head at you.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2003 7:54 AM


wow. someone is reading these. cool!

so I went a little wonky. it may not be the first death scene written, but since I've only been able to spare enough minutes in the day to read one author--and truly enjoy your stuff--that's the first for me.

i'm OKAY. <snicker> no, really.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003 10:52 AM


WTF??? I guess, live by the gun, die by the gun. But why?!? I almost feel the same way I felt when FF was put on hiatus, like ALL things good just ended.
And there will be nothing to ever make me feel like a kid again. I can't say I was entertained, but I certainly feel something. Disturbed?

Wednesday, April 7, 2004 10:44 AM


you did a great job taking the hit. it hurts, but it is good.

Thursday, May 20, 2004 4:20 AM



I have no clear idea what to say to this. I haven't blinked since Simon went down. Masterful, powerful writing, Sarah, as always. Real enough that I can see the scenes in my head. *shudder* Now I'm gonna go wash my brain out with some of your fabulous Wash/Zoe stuff...

Friday, December 3, 2004 12:56 AM


Evil. Pure evil. But definitely excellent despite the lack of Beta. Hopefully Succatash goads you into a sequel where something else other than people being fatally shot happens.

Keep flyin'


You must log in to post comments.



Red Rocket, White Candle
I ain't sayin' there's any peace to be had, but if there is, Wash will find it in the Western sky.

Married and Madly in Love
In the aftermath of Saffron, Wash and Zoe talk marriage, stars, and geese.

Consistent Resurrection
A short history of Zoe.

First Mate
Wash is injured-- physically, and by Zoe's reluctance to make him her first priority.

Laid Bare
Ever wonder what happened to that ambulance? A little bridge between Ariel and War Stories.

Natural Talent
Kaylee and Wash? It could have happened, but it didn't.

Over and Over and Over
Moments of Zoe, in the spaces of War Stories.

Extreme Unction
The living heart of Serenity bleeds to death. A volley at Succatash.

The Heart of Her
Wash proposes.

Mood to Burn Bridges
Mal's original edict on shipboard romances