Wolf Pack (Part III)
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

As the relationship develops between Mal and Inara, Serenity returns to Lynx to find all is not well on the Outer Rim


Disclaimer – Everything either does belong to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind

* * *

Transport Ship Serenity – En-Route to Lynx – 2520AD

‘I find it difficult to believe you and Mal did nothing but talk. You’re positively glowing and that expression on your face is rather reminiscent of a lovesick teenager’

Inara blushed slightly despite herself ‘Honestly we just talked all night. Well we kissed a few times but that’s all’

Jennifer smirked ‘Given my husbands description of how Mal reacted when he emerged from your shuttle this morning I find it hard to believe you somehow. Steven said he jumped out of his skin when he said “Good Morning”’

‘I believe what your husband actually did was sneak up behind him put his hand on his shoulder practically yelled “Good Morning” in his ear then after Mals heart returned to his chest he continued and asked “And was it a good night?”’

‘Not the version I heard but that does sound like my Steven. He can be very cruel’

‘In any case Mal and I really didn’t sleep together but that was at his insistence. He can be very old fashioned and proper. I believe he said he actually wants to court me’ Inara smiled ‘It was so sweet I nearly cried’

‘I’m very happy for you both. I feel I must warn you however that Mal may face some merciless ribbing for a while’

‘How so?’

Jennifer chuckled to herself ‘Well for a start Jayne saw Mal leave your shuttle this morning too and told Wash’

‘Oh dear, has anything been said?’

‘Well there was a line about Mal perhaps being less grouchy if he wasn’t going to be sexually frustrated any more’

‘Certainly sounds like Wash’

‘No that was Zoe’ Jennifer told her smiling.

Inara giggled ‘In that case, to quote my new beau. “Darn”’

* * *

Mal would have rather faced a brigade of Reavers armed with nothing a blunt penknife than the crew that morning. Everywhere he went on the ship somebody was smiling or whispering behind his back. Kaylee was by far the worst she beamed at him and sighed every time he appeared.

It was enough to make him want to space the lot of them.

The worst thing was he had to keep himself constantly under check or he worried would have been humming a happy tune and walking about with a dopey look on his face and that would have absolutely ruined his carefully constructed image. His longstanding objections to shipboard romances had gone out of the airlock with Simon and Kaylee but for he himself to be in one was awkward to say the least.

On the other hand he finally had Inara.

He looked around to make sure he was out of sight and grinned. He knew Serenity would bring him joy again.

He wiped the grin off his face and headed for the bridge. Time for the ultimate test, Wash was there. If he could deal with that level of unremitting humour at his expense everything else would be a breeze.

* * *

Mal had reckoned without dinner.

He was sitting next to Inara with the entire crew smirking at the two of them.

Mal ate quietly for a long while until eventually he broke. ‘Hâo le ma. Stop looking at me like that I can’t stand it any more dong ma?’

‘Why Captain whatever do you mean?’ Simon inquired with his tongue firmly placed in his cheek.

‘I’d be well within my rights to declare you all mutineers and have you all clapped in irons’

‘Aye Aye Captain. Shall I open the cargo bay to vacuum and have them walk the loading ramp?’ Zoe asked.

Mal glared at her ‘Couldn’t you back me up here?’

‘Not this time’ she told him ‘best just to get it out into the open and we might leave you alone. It’s not exactly the best kept of secrets anyway’

Inara looked at him. He was such a stubbornly private person that it was quite endearing in itself, you couldn’t necessarily describe him as the strong silent type but he was definitely not prone to displays of emotional attachment, at least not until it really mattered. She smiled at him and nodded.

Mal sighed ‘Alright you all probably know already that Inara and I are…’ he searched for the right word

‘Rutting?’ Jayne said and was immediately smacked on the arm by Kaylee who pointed out the children. They were giggling.

‘Courting’ Mal stated and gave Jayne a look that said keep your mouth shut. It was a look that he directed at Jayne on a near continual basis.

Kaylee beamed ‘That’s a very nice way to say it Captain’ she directed her smile at Inara too who smiled back.

‘All I can say is that I hope you will be very happy as a couple’ Book said ‘and if your relationship thrives, as I hope it will, that unlike certain others, you might opt for marriage rather than cohabitation’ he continued, looking at Simon who decided to look elsewhere.

Thank you Shepherd, Mal thought, direct some of that incoming fire elsewhere.

‘I would make a good sister in law to Kaylee’ River stated ‘I’m not sure what kind of husband Simon would be though. He’s still very much a boob’

‘Hey’ the elder Tam exclaimed.

‘Not too expressive either at times’ River stated ‘he never was the brains of the family’


‘At least I’m not living in sin’ she responded.

‘What’s “living in sin” mummy’ Claire-Marie asked.

Everyone looked at Jennifer. Who was trying to formulate an answer quickly.

‘Living together having sex before marriage’ Cally answered.

The adults suddenly felt very uncomfortable. Jennifer’s mind went into overdrive.

‘Oh is that all’ Claire-Marie said and went back to eating.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

‘What’s sex?’ asked John.

Jennifer turned to her husband ‘He’s the boy. It’s your turn to field it this time around’ she stated. ‘I told the other two’ her expression could best be described as diabolical.

Steven winced and turned to Mal ‘Is the whole walking the ramp into space without an EVA suit idea shelved?’ he asked ‘Because right this second I’m suddenly finding it a very attractive prospect?’

* * *

‘But why do you want all this stuff’ Kaylee asked holding up an empty coffee tin and pointing to the pile of random junk.

‘That’s need to know and you don’t need to know’ Steve told her.

The mechanic decided to take another approach and pouted.

Steve had daughters he was unimpressed.

‘Maybe I could help’

‘Not necessary thanks’

‘Couldn’t you give me a clue?’

Steven though about it for a second then gave her a half-smile ‘Well you could say I’m working on a couple of applications of the laws of motion’

‘Oh you’re doing something for the children’s science lessons. I thought Simon was doing those’

‘My project will eventually be educational but this is not something that involves the Doctor’

Kaylee considered flirting but didn’t think it would work either. He was toying with her. Anyway she’d had an idea.

‘River is already sworn to secrecy so don’t think you can just ask her to read my mind for you’ Steven announced.

Kaylee’s jaw dropped ‘How did you know I was thinking that?’

‘Rivers been giving me lessons’

Kaylee looked stunned ‘She can do that?’

He stared towards her keeping his eyes unfocussed as River was apt to do, then winked ‘No. I’m just winding you up’ he said ‘I’m just sneakier and thought of it first’

‘You really had me worried for a second’ she looked back at the junk ‘you’re not telling me are you?’


‘It had better be good’

‘I’m pretty impressed I thought of it’

‘When will I get to see it’

‘In action hopefully never, but trust me it’ll be really cool’

‘What is it?’ she begged.

‘It’s a surprise’ Steven told her and started picking up parts.

* * *

Transport Ship Serenity – Lynx Orbit – 2520AD

Wash had been about to drop out of orbit when River ran onto the bridge and told him something was wrong and he shouldn’t land.

She’d been right far too often about things she shouldn’t know for the pilot to ignore her so he kept Serenity in a low orbit and he called the Captain to the bridge immediately.

Mal came pounding up the corridor and onto the bridge. ‘What’s wrong River?’ he asked nervously.

‘There’s something very wrong down there. We shouldn’t land in the town’

‘But we’ve already talked to the Mayor on the radio everything seems okay’

‘He was lying. There is danger there’

Mal leaned against the bulkhead ‘Did he realise who we were and sell us out to the Feds?’

‘Not the Alliance. I’m picking up hostile thoughts but not linear and consistent enough for them. Soldiers and Feds have more ordered minds, or rather minds used to taking orders. These are more chaotic more random’

‘Reavers?’ Mal asked nervously.

River shook her head ‘I said chaotic not clinically insane. These thoughts are more undisciplined than they are unholy’. She looked at him ‘reminds me of Jayne a little’.

‘Criminals? Mercenaries?’

She nodded.


‘Are they after us?’ Wash asked.

River shook her head again ‘Don’t know who we are’ she paused ‘townspeople are in danger as well. I think some are already dead. The thoughts of the remainder are pain and terror’

‘Could be Pirate Raiders, they hit settlements out here sometimes. Might be thinking they can get their hands on a Firefly into the bargain so they’re using the Mayor to lure us down’ Mal said ‘Should have asked for payment in advance. Now I’m stuck with a few tons of agricultural machinery instead’

‘We could rescue the town’ River said

‘Not our job to save folks other than our own River’ Mal told her ‘I won’t risk any of my crew if I don’t have to’

‘If we save them we can get paid’ River pointed out.

Mal smiled ‘Now you’re trying to use my nature against me. We can sell our cargo for more money. Hell I’ll send the remainder back to the Mayor’

‘He’ll be dead. They’ll all be dead. It’s getting clearer now. Thoughts are less garbled’

‘Coincidentally our orbit is just bringing us closest to Hanson’ Wash pointed out ‘Not that I really think that’s a coincidence’

Mal looked at her ‘They’re going to kill the whole town?’

River shook her head ‘No. Take the younger women and the children to sell as slaves’ she looked at him again ‘we should save them. It’s the right thing to do’ her hands were clenched so tight she could feel her nails digging into her palms.

‘We’re not Crusaders River. We’re wanted fugitives. We can’t get involved trying to right all the wrongs in the ‘Verse’

‘Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. We should stand against evil or we’ll no longer be righteous’ River stated adamantly. ‘I like being righteous’

‘You’re arguing morality when I’m worried about survival and who the hell is Edmund Burke?’

‘18th Century English political philosopher, I was talking to Steven about him last week’

‘He must have been dead for better than seven hundred years and I’m getting mighty sick of people quoting philosophy at me. I had Jayne quote Voltaire at me the other day. I mean Jayne of all gorram people’ Mal rolled his eyes.

“God is not on the side of the big battalions but on the side of the best shots” River quoted ‘Jayne liked that one. He listens in on the children’s lessons. Steve quotes Voltaire a lot’ she paused ‘We’re the best shots. So God is on our side’ River stated with a look of total certainty on her face.

‘Forget it River. It’s not going to happen’

‘The others think we should do it too. I can read it clear as crystal’

‘How would they rest of the crew even know?’ Mal asked. Girl was trying to get one over on him.

River looked shifty ‘Because I turned the intercom on before you came in’ she said eventually.

Mal looked furious ‘I don’t like you trying to get around me by going to the rest of the crew and anyway I’m the Captain and my word is final’

‘I know you. Know you in here ‘she said pointing to his head. ‘You want to do the right thing so much you worry it will overwhelm you so you choose a little right thing to hang on to instead. The ship and its crew is the little right thing you want to protect but sometimes we should do the big right thing because if we don’t there’s no point surviving anyway. We’ll just be empty vessels existing for no reason’

‘Enough’ Mal said through clenched teeth.

River could feel his anger, it came off him in waves, she couldn’t look into his eyes ‘Yes Captain. I’m sorry’ she said ‘I don’t want you to hate me or be angry at me it’s just that I feel so much that I sometimes can’t help what I do’ she was shaking slightly. Wash leaned over from his chair and put his arm around her to offer comfort and she moved closer to him. River liked the pilot in a different way than she did most of the others, he didn’t have a shadow on his soul so he was easy to be with, both calming and caring.

‘She’s right Captain. Just surviving ain’t living’ Wash said. ‘If we can’t live free then we can live right’

Mal looked at his pilot ‘We can’t do everything’

‘Since when is that any kind of excuse for doing nothing?’ Wash asked. ‘We’re here, we can help. Let’s face it compared with some of the things we’ve got away with before a few Pirates ain’t going to trouble us’

‘We’ve been lucky before’ Mal stated ‘luck runs out’

Zoe appeared behind Mal ‘I’ll abide by your decision Sir but it ain’t just luck. We’ve got an edge nobody else in the ‘Verse has’ she pointed at River.

‘She’s not infallible’

‘I said she was an edge’ Zoe replied ‘what makes us mighty is the sword the edge is on and that’s the rest of the crew’

Mal shook his head ‘We’ve got children aboard’

‘They can stay in orbit in one of the shuttles’ Wash said.

Mal looked at Zoe then River. The former was stubborn as a mule and the latter was so much smarter than he was it would be disturbing even without her other “talents” and outright weirdness. They were also right ‘Are we really going to do this?’ he asked.

‘It’s crazy. I’m good at crazy’ River said brightly.

* * *

From the gantry above Claire-Marie watched the grown-ups in the cargo bay. They were all putting on gun belts and loading weapons.

The Captain walked into the centre of the group. He looked around and then looked up as if to heaven, rather than the ceiling ‘I knew it was turning into a Crusade. I’ve been saying it for weeks’

‘Do we have to start calling you Malcolm Coeur-de Lion?’ Steven asked pulling on his ammunition pack. ‘Personally I think a Cross of Saint George would look good painted on the ships hull’

‘Don’t cross me Cavalryman. You’ve been corrupting my crew with your idealistic ravings about justice and morality and such. We used to be decent smugglers and criminals now look at us’

‘Fèi huà. I refuse to believe I could have been such a positive influence on anyone. I tutored for a decade and I doubt I reached half a dozen students. I know that for a fact because most of the rest of them went on to Law School. Face it you were long gone before you even met me’

Mal gave him a look then turned to Book. ‘I want you to stay with Inara, Jennifer and the kids in orbit. If anything happens they’re your responsibility’

The Shepherd nodded his agreement. He would see to it they were safe. ‘What about Kaylee?’

‘I want her on Serenity. She can fly the ship when Wash is with the rest of us on the ground’

‘Still can’t believe I’m doing this. Getting myself killed for a bunch of hicks’ Jayne complained as he loaded his revolver.

River walked up to him ‘You are not going to die. Well not today anyway’

Jayne looked at her ‘You sure?’


He brightened considerably. Girl could see the future.

‘Of course I didn’t say anything about you not receiving mortal wounds today that might take a couple of days to kill you’ River said turning her back to Jayne and winking at her Captain.

Mal grinned despite himself. There was nothing like abusing, or worrying Jayne Cobb to make a day just a bit more special.

Standing by the weapons locker Simon reached over and passed Mal an Assault Rifle ‘Your Sword my Liege’ he joked.

‘Can I have my gun back now?’ River asked her Captain.

Mal turned to Simon. ‘Give your Sister her Carbine’ he told him.

‘I don’t want her getting hurt’

‘I don’t want any of us getting hurt that’s why I’m telling you to give her the Carbine’

Simon frowned then passed the Wolverine to his little sister followed by the ammunition harness of spare magazines for it. She sat down and started to strip and clean it, the mystery was how she knew how. Even she didn’t know, most of her time at the academy was still a black void in her mind streaked with bright flashes of pain and fear.

Claire-Marie spotted her elder sister sitting cross legged on the other side of the gantry watching the adults too and went to join her. ‘Why is everybody putting on their guns?’ she asked.

Cally looked up at her ‘The pack is going hunting’ she said.

Part IV


Wednesday, January 28, 2004 3:40 PM


Loved this, very shiny fic. I laughed and had a warm happy glow at the notion of the Captain *courting* Inara. River was awesome and you made my gorram year by quoting Edmund Burke. That is one of my favourite quotes of all time. *Xiexie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, January 28, 2004 6:20 PM


I've been following for a while, I like the handleing of the developments that needed to happen like Mal and Inara.

What is really impressive is what you've been doing that isn't quite the norm. The other characters fit insanely well, they don't just seem like your standard fic fare. Also the more stable lucid River is a great development for this story, and a powerful direction for her character. The whole chess metaphor from Death and Glory (ESPECIALLY 'checkmate') was excellent for establishing her way.

I'm edge of my seat to see new developments. Keep it up!

(Sorry for going extended review, but I have one more comment. With the children living decently on Serenity it seems Zoe will have all the more leverage over Wash in that respect. Might be interesting.)

Thursday, January 29, 2004 8:35 AM


Can't know for sure, but Joss looked to be keeping the romantic relationships static, probably to keep the tension and provide some plot twists. You've thrown that out the window now, so I'll wave "bye-bye" at it and go back to enjoying your story! You don't need any extra tension.

Friday, January 30, 2004 2:39 AM


To "artships" - In my story arc it's already 2520 which means Mal & Inara have been circling each other for about four years by my reckoning so I had pity on them... and besides I'm an incurable romantic at heart :-)

To "AMDOBELL" - That quotes one of my favourites too.

As for Mal "Courting Inara" I love that old fashioned romantic stuff and I really like him as a character. Actually in the Spirit of Captain Reynolds I'm due to fight a duel for a girls honour in a few weeks... seriously!

The Cad concerned was rude to a ladyfriend of my aquaintance on-line and I challenged him and asked him to choose weapons (we're all paintballers so he chose a paintball gun) :-p

I was clearly born either centuries too late or too early

To "DrBoris" - Thanks for reading my fics and a special thanks for what you said regarding my other characters. I was hoping people liked my approach

As for Wash, Zoe and children... have you been spying on my plot outlines? Not that you'll see this within "Wolf Pack" I've already sketched another sequence beyond it ;-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2004 8:35 AM


Tricky, tricky, Hotpoint. I don't know that I like the plot development with Inara and Mal. It's just that nothing seems to have happened that would change the Captain's views on the success of a relationship between them. He doesn't just keep away from her because he's afraid, he's made a concious decision about it and without anything monumental happening, I don't think he would have given it up so easily. But that's just my 2 bits worth. I still love your writing, dearie.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 2:14 PM


Although I do think your too cheery for your own good (all your clouds have a silver lining), Your writing is just too good!!


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Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits