GENIUS SERIES: 25. "Pressure Wave"
Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Simon and River appear to have won but no one can quite relax. Easy victories are hard to come by in the Black. Meanwhile Kaylee and Simon realise it is time to be truthsome with each other."



SUMMARY: "Simon and River appear to have won but no one can quite relax. Easy victories are hard to come by in the Black. Meanwhile Kaylee and Simon realise it is time to be truthsome with each other." 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

* * * * *

For several minutes Captain Reynolds stared at Thadius Clay, his expression one of stunned disbelief. Slowly the working parts of his brain began to function again, albeit more slowly as he tried to process what he was hearing. His bunk suddenly seeming way too small to hold such a large revelation. Now he knew why Thadius had wanted this talk in private even though he had been intending to get the man alone his own self. Information was not always a blessing. "Why you tellin' me all this?"

Thadius was not smiling now. His steady gaze absorbing the Captain's reaction with a calm that was as soothing as it was creepifying. The dichotomy held an awkward truce in his mind. "Because the time is comin' when you'll have to do somethin' you don't wanna do. Somethin' the rest of us won't be able to do. An' for that to happen you need to have the facts. Facts we can't tell Simon. He isn't ready."

Surprise built on surprise, leaving the Captain feeling a mite light headed. Mal had no clue what Thadius was talking about but he aimed to find out. "An' I am?"


Malcolm Reynolds swallowed slowly. "You might wanna re-think that whole hero thing you got goin'. I lost one war Thadius, don't wanna lose another, *dong ma*?"

A little smile dusted Thadius Clay's lips, a muted sparkle in his eyes holding a promise of more to come. "Might have been on the losin' side Mal but I *know* it wasn't the wrong side."

* * * * *

Austin thought he was a pretty good judge of character but had to admit that Councillor Regan Tam baffled the *diyu* out of him. That and she scared the living *goushi* out of him too. Confused he could not hide his reaction when the woman returned to the Rosencruz alone. "Ma'am?"

For a moment it looked as if the Councillor had not heard him. Just as he was debating whether or not to ask her outright what had happened, she turned and looked him dead in the eye. "What is the nearest planet or moon to our current location?"

The Commandant blinked. "Cameron. It's not technologically developed, could say it's pretty backward. Are you sure you want to go there, ma'am?"

A cold smile iced its' way across her lips, no humour reflecting in her eyes. "*Bu qu*."

He blinked. "*Shenme*?"

The smile widened a crack. Austin was almost surprised not to see puffs of white frosty air expelled from her mouth as she spoke. "I don't want to land on it, Commandant."

"You don't?"

"No. I want you to give the impression we are leaving this part of the system, bypassing the planet. When we are beyond that *lese* ship's sensors you are to have this vessel brought round to the far side of the planet and wait there."

"What if the Firefly doesn't follow the same route? We could wait in hiding and miss them altogether."

"My dear Commandant," Said the Councillor slowly as she closed the distance between them, her soft silky disingenuous words managing to make him sound like a simpleton. "I have a feeling Captain Reynolds will shortly find his ship is low on fuel and just about everything else he needs to stay flying. I don't think they can afford to pass that planet by."

Commandant Austin frowned but did not question the information she imparted so casually. The certainty in her voice enough to convince him. How she knew what she knew did not concern him. "And when the Firefly rounds the planet, then what?"

"By then we will be ready to spring our trap."

Long minutes after the Councillor left Austin alone with his thoughts, the Commandant pondered on just what else this elite ship of the line could do. He chose not to apply the same curiosity to the Councillor.

* * * * *

Kaylee was both ecstatic and worried. Happy that her slow but careful overtures appeared to be bearing fruit by bringing Simon back within her orbit but worried that the other shoe had yet to drop. What would happen? Simon and River had stood their ground and told Regan Tam that they were staying on Serenity. So why wasn't she happier about it? And why did she feel as if her relationship with Simon was like picking her way through a gorram minefield?

Not able to come to any conclusions Kaylee did what she always did when she had a lot on her mind. She turned to Serenity. The thrum of the ship vibrating quietly up through the deck plates soothed her just as the turning of the ship's mechanical heart filled her own with renewed hope. It was just fixings was all. Kaylee hummed softly as she began to tinker and fine tune the engine, her hands deftly working to keep her girl in tip-top condition while her mind wandered and sorted through her feelings for the doctor. It would work out because that was what happened with problems. Just had to have a little faith and now that Simon and River were staying they had all the time in the 'verse to make it work.

Smiling, Kaylee felt the weight lift off her heart. Her sunny disposition a flare of joy dissipating the uncertainty. Her pa had always said that Frye women were strong and more single minded than a gorram mule when it came to going after what they wanted. Oh yeah. Her daddy had said not nothing in the 'verse could stop a Frye once she had her mind set on something. Chuckling softly Kaylee actually felt a tiny twinge of pity for Simon. He didn't know it but the poor boy didn't stand a chance.

* * * * *

After all the tension Simon found it hard to let go and just relax. Zoe gave him a knowing look but didn't press her opinion on him. It was one of the things he liked about her, that ability to look and know how a body felt without announcing it to the whole gorram 'verse. Woman had an uncanny ability to let a person be when necessary. Simon fussed over the hot water for his tea, Zoe sipping her own drink as she watched him over the rim of her mug. No sly glances or words of false concern, just open and silent appraisal. Well, he could manage that. Then with a nod, Zoe got to her feet and left him alone with his thoughts. Odd how the walls of the commons room seemed to close in on him once he was alone. Simon closed his eyes a moment then exhaled. When he opened them again he jumped. "*Qingwa cao de liumang*!"

Not more than a handful of inches from his face, Jayne Cobb's face darkened into an ugly scowl. "What did ya call me?"

Simon took a quick steadying breath. The big man had startled him not to mention how much it creeped him out that a man of his size could tread as lightly as a ghost. "Was there something you wanted?"

"Yeah. You hurt her an' I'll kill ya."

The doctor blinked, all sleepiness vanishing in a stunned heartbeat. "*Shenme*?"

"Ya heard." Jayne growled.

Simon shook his head as if something in it had come loose and fallen out, debating whether or not to pick it up. "I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about, not that that should surprise me."

If anything Jayne's mood got even darker and Simon realised baiting the big man was a bad idea. Jayne shoved his face so close to Simon's that the doctor froze and tried not to inhale, not sure exactly what was going on or why the man seemed to be barely containing his anger. "I'm talkin' 'bout Kaylee. Ya hurt her an' it'll be the last gorram thing ya ever do."

"Jayne, I have no intention of hurting Kaylee."

"Don't care about intentions." Jayne rumbled, his look so intense Simon knew he meant every word. "She thinks you're the ruttin' shiniest thing in the gorram 'verse on'y we both know that ain't so. Kaylee wants ya somethin' fierce an' if ya can't see that you're even dumber than ya look."

"What makes you think I would hurt Kaylee?"

The mercenary didn't say a word, his expression an unwavering wall of unhappy masquerading as simple concern for another member of the crew. As Simon stared at the big man realisation hit him and his eyes widened. "Oh, my God! You love her, don't you?"

Jayne wanted to grab the doc and squeeze the life of him then toss him out of the airlock but he couldn't do it. If anything happened to Simon by his hand it would break the little mechanic's heart and Jayne would never be able to live with that. It took all of his self control to keep from lashing out. "Don't hurt her, that's all I gotta say."

Long after Jayne had stomped away Simon gazed in stunned awe. Who knew the big ape had it in him? For the first time since coming to Serenity, Simon realised that Jayne Cobb wasn't just bone and muscle. The man might not have the same smarts as the rest of them but he wasn't as dumb as Simon had pegged him either. It also put him on notice not to underestimate the big man again.

* * * * *

River started, her eyes springing open with a sharp awareness informing her brain at the speed of light. Her room was dark but she didn't need to see with her eyes, the illumination in her mind was dazzling. Danger crowded into the corners but it was an ambiguous thing, giving no indication of what was coming or how to counter it. All she knew was that they had trouble coming. Pulling the covers back, River slid out of bed, her bare feet connecting with the deck and helping her to stay in the moment. She paused, her mind reaching out to touch the crew one by one. Reassure herself that everyone on the ship was accounted for. Thoughts of Jubal Early tickled her back brain but this had nothing to do with deadly bounty hunters and everything to do with enemies of a different kind.

She had to warn the others. The imperative now so strong it impelled her to hurry but as soon as she got to the door the pulse hit. Waves of pain shot through her like a lightening strike to the brain. Her scream echoed and bounced off the walls, her body jerking and spasming but not falling. As if she was a puppet unable to fall until her strings were cut. White flashes seared her brain, danced like radiation in her mind's eyes, stripping out her motor functions and blanking out every thought until nothing but the agony remained.

Thirty seconds. It ended as abruptly as it had started, River Tam now insensate on the floor, her body twitching in little aftershocks, her pale doll-like face staring upwards and seeing nothing. As the temors died away her lips began to stumble into movement, unable to form words but wanting to speak. Her vocal chords too clumsy and alien to understand the disjointed messages from her brain. She was scrambled, her brain fried. Her fingers twitched then stilled. The last coherent thought to stumble from the wreckage of her mind was that they were screwed. But it meant nothing. Meaning and understanding on some distance shore untouched by the ebb and flow of her drifting mind. Broken.

Thirty seconds after the pressure wave pulsed through the ship only one man was left unaffected. Jayne Cobb was so focused on his feelings for Kaylee and anger at Simon that his only warning something was wrong was when the lights flickered then went out. Cursing he started to climb back out of his bunk when River's scream turned his blood cold. As the cry echoed away the only sound in the whole gorram ship was the heavy thunder of the mercenary's feet as he ran. In his hands his favourite gun was gripped so hard his fingers were white. Teeth gritted in determination he hoped and prayed it wasn't Reavers. Not nothing in the 'verse terrified him more.

It took Jayne seconds to skid to a halt when he realised something else was wrong. Ship wasn't moving. Not so much as a murmur from the engine. Serenity had a gentle thrum that reverberated up through the deck plates even when she wasn't going nowhere, her engine on idle but turning and keeping the power running through the ship. Power that ran the lighting and pumped air into the Firefly. Jayne didn't have Simon's smarts but he wasn't no backbirth, he knew at once that this was serious. Changing direction he ran to where the suits were kept and with fingers made clumsy by haste prepped the three that were closest. Hoping and praying they wouldn't be needing them, Jayne left them hanging ready then cocked Vera and moved with a lot more caution. His steps deliberate and wary. Steathily and silently creeping his way through the ship to find the Captain.

* * * * *

Commandant Hugo Austin stared open mouthed, his ears sure that the Councillor's calm words had been an aberration. "You did what?"

Fortunately Regan Tam was feeling generous plus there was some entertainment value in springing this surprise on the man. She watched him make fish impressions, his eyes as round as saucers as he watched the sensor information scroll across the screen with undisguised horror. Slowly Austin blinked and stared at the scariest woman in the 'verse.

"We got an EMP?"

To his consternation the Councillor threw back her head and laughed. Oh, he had no doubt it could be a merry sound but coming from this woman it filled him with an unreasoning dread. Regan brought herself back under control and gave a warm smile. "No, Commandant. An electromagnetic pulse would be too benign."

He wasn't sure how to grasp what she was saying. All he knew was that he had to sit down or he would fall down. Oddly enough none of his crew seemed to be as affected. It slowly occurred to him that they must know the capabilities not only of this ship but of the Councillor they were carrying on it. His heart felt faint, giddy with unease. His mouth dry, his tongue trying not to choke him with ill timed words but as sense began to return to him the need for information over ruled his natural desire to steer clear of the woman's deadly orbit. "What did you do?"

Regan looked smug. The image of the Firefly now on screen as they came out of the eclipse of the moon. The little transport dead in space, just drifting, dark and without power. A prize for the taking. "Harmonics, Commandant."

* * * * *

As Jayne worked his way through the ship he became more and more worried. The only sounds were the ones he was making. Never had he craved the sound of another voice more than now. Swearing and cursing silently he quickly checked out the commons room - empty. Okay, so maybe the Captain was on the bridge. Nope. That was silent as the grave too, not a soul about. Abandoning stealth for speed, the mercenary ran to the Captain's bunk and kicked open the hatch, yelling down and not caring how much noise he made. "Mal! Mal, ya gotta get up here!"

No sound. No movement. Trying to calm his heart so that he could think about the erratic thunder of panic mounting in his ears, Jayne gripped the sides of the ladder and slid down. Turning he stared agape in the dim interior of the cabin, the Captain laying at an awkward angle where he had fallen. The man's eyes were closed and there was a trickle of blood running down his face from his nose. A couple of feet from him lay Thadius, he also had blood trickling down his face. Hands now shaking, Jayne knelt cautiously beside the Captain and put a hand to his neck, feeling for the carotid pulse and holding his breath. Gulping in relief he closed his eyes and thanked God. There was a pulse. Strong but uneven. As Jayne moved to step away and check on Thadius he saw the Captain begin to stir, a low agonised moan squeezing out of pained lungs as if the man had been crushed.

"Mal? Can ya hear me?"

The Captain was not exactly cognisant of what was going on or his surroundings. Jayne's anxious words didn't even register as speech. Jayne frowned when the Captain did not open his eyes.

"Gorrammit Mal," He growled in frustrated concern. "Gotta get up, *dong ma*? We been hit by somethin' an' it might be Reavers."

Jayne shook the Captain but when that didn't have the desired effect, eased him into a sitting position. The movement roused the man, eyes blinking rapidly as a fit of coughing hit him. Jayne frowned, worried and impatient. This was taking too long and who knew what or who was gonna try to board them. It was the only thing that made sense to him. The Captain tried to focus, everything a jumble in his head and nothing making sense. He was about to speak when a wave of nausea hit, just managing to turn his head in time to avoid throwing up on Jayne. Jerking back in disgust Jayne scowled at him then relented when he saw how pale and shaky the Captain was. He got up and pulled out the foldaway sink, wet a cloth and shoved it in Mal's hand. For a moment Jayne feared he would have to wipe the man's face for him but then some remnant of focus returned to the Captain and he cleaned himself up. "*Duibuqi*, now what in the nine hells happened an' why do I feel like *goushi*?"

"Huh, least you're alive."

That roused the Captain better than the cloth had done. "*Shenme*? What you talkin' about?"

Jayne helped the Captain get up and watched him sway, not liking the look of him. Man looked as if he might pass out any minute and Jayne needed him not only conscious but able to function. Guiding Mal to the chair, Jayne was relieved when he took the hint and sat in it, a look of non comprehension on the Captain's face as he stared blankly at Thadius Clay. The Captain frowned slowly, all his movements sluggish as he tried to process what he was seeing. The disturbingly vacant look superceded by a look of alarm as Mal realised he was not the only one affected. He began to get up when Jayne put a large but steady paw on his shoulder. "Stay there, Mal. Let me check him, *dong ma*?"

Confused and worried, the Captain nodded and ran a shaky hand through his hair. He felt awful, a headache growing behind his eyes making him see patterns the rival of any migraine. He watched Jayne check on the man, disturbed when the big man looked worried. "He ain't stirrin', Mal."

Despite how bad he felt Mal slid off the chair and knelt beside the fallen man. He helped Jayne roll Thadius on to his back. The pulse was thready but no amount of shaking or cajoling would rouse the man. Thadius Clay was out for the count. "C'mon Jayne, help me get him on to the bed. May not be able to do much for him but no need to leave him on the floor."

Mal had to brace a hand on the wall as he caught his breath, recovering slowly from the small exertion. He missed the way Jayne's eyes narrowed with concern at his weakness. "What we gonna do, Cap?"

It took a moment for the Captain to answer, the room spinning in a most disturbing fashion. He swallowed slowly and waited to make sure he wasn't going to be sick again. "Best we check on the others." Jayne nodded. It was what he would have done if he hadn't been able to wake Mal but he was all kinds of relieved to have the Captain making the decisions. "You find anyone else before you found me?"

"*Bu qu*, came lookin' for you first." Jayne paused, the hesitation catching the Captain's attention.

"*Shenme shi*?"

"Heard screamin'."

Mal's already pasty face paled further. "Who...?"

"Don't know but it sounded like River." Propelled by a sudden urgency the Captain started for the ladder. "C'mon Jayne, we ain't got a minute to lose."

A confused look settled on the mercenary's face. "*Weishenme*?"

The Captain gritted his teeth, more certain with every second that passed that they were running out of time. "'Cause whoever set this up is likely on their way an' fun as it is to be talkin' about this we gotta move fast."

Jayne followed him up the ladder, noticing that as unsteady as the Captain was his resolve was as strong as ever. "What if we're the on'y ones conscious?"

Mal turned a disbelieving eye on his mercenary. "Anyone ever tell you you're a very up guy?" Jayne scowled. "Huh, thought not." The Captain mumbled.

* * * * *

The smile slid slowly across Gabriel Tam's smug face. He waited until his man had finished speaking, the triple encrypted wave giving him everything he wanted. "Transmit the co-ordinates."

Devereaux was quick to comply, anxious not to arouse any suspicion. A short time from his work station could easily be explained away but a prolonged one would draw the kind of attention that sealed men's fate faster than a heart attack.

* * * * *

The Captain was frantic. Every member of the crew was unconscious and all of Thadius's people were out for the count too. The small trickle of blood on their faces alarmed him too though he had been pleased that when he had wiped his own face there had been no more blood. Was probably pressure though what the good gorram had been used on them he didn't know. He'd ask the doc but the man was as non responsive as the rest. Mal was about to suggest they haul the others one by one to the infirmary when he froze, the distinctive sound of a ship docking telling him and Jayne they were out of time.

"*Wode ma*", Growled Jayne in angry frustration. "We're humped."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*qu* = yes (lit. go) *dong ma* = understand? *goushi* = crap/dog shit *qingwa cao de liumang* = frog humping sumbitch *shenme* = what *diyu* = hell *duibuqi* = sorry *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *weishenme* = why *lese* = crappy


Sunday, March 26, 2006 3:37 PM


Ohh, very interesting....everyone's out, huh?

Kaylee's renewed determination to catch and keep Simon was nice. Would like to see more of Simon's thoughts on the subject, too. And will Jayne's little - revelation - spur Simon into actually maiing a move? I certainly hope so!

Don't keep us waiting too long for the next chapter!

Sunday, March 26, 2006 7:10 PM


Oh....this is getting real good! Though I have to ask: did Regan just use a giant version of a HoB Rod (Hand of Blue wand thingy) or can she do that with her brain!?!

Also....I have to agree with Jayne. They're humped if Mal and him are the only fighters available:(


Tuesday, March 28, 2006 1:57 AM


Loved this chapter!

Regan just gets more & more evil and I'm wondering what Gabriel has in mind too.

I loved that Jayne was so focused on Kaylee, that the weapon (what was it?) didn't affect him.


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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.