Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Episode ten of my second season of Firefly: On their way back from the very edge of the known 'verse, the crew of Serenity encounters a derelict ship that claims to be from Earth.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1510 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: If I weren't just a poor college student and could finance the series myself, I would, but I can't. So all I can do is just play around in Joss Whedon's 'verse. Also, I don't know a lick of Chinese so I haven't bothered to put the translations because they're probably horribly wrong. If it were Japanese or Latin, well, that'd be another story...
Episode ten of my second season of Firefly: On their way back from the very edge of the known 'verse, the crew of Serenity encounters a derelict ship that claims to be from Earth.
Mr. Khan stared through the reinforced window and into the brightly lit, stark white, padded cell. He ran a well manicured finger along his lips in contemplation as he viewed the sedated form in the cell. There was no one but him in the observation room, standing in the darkness lit only by the flickering lights on consoles. The sound of computers beeping as they measured and monitored were his only company for the time being. His mind was working ten times faster than any of them, however.
The hiss of automatic doors opening broke Mr. Khan's concentration. Tearing his eyes away from the docile subject in the cell, he spotted Dr. Leeds shuffling nervously into the empty lab. Khan's eyes slid off the spineless slug of a man and refocused their attention back on the subject.
"Ni-hao," said Dr. Leeds softly, rubbing his hands together against the frigid cold of the environment. Catching sight of the subject, he went as white as his lab coat. In haste to readjust his small, wire-framed spectacles, he nearly knocked them from his gaunt face. "Th-th--that's..."
"It is indeed," nodded Mr. Khan impassively. His eyes sparkled with interest as the subject finally began to stir.
"Is--is this safe?" swallowed Dr. Leeds thickly, pushing back further from cell. Leeds's legs gave out the moment they brushed against a console and he crumbled against it. "Th-this can't be a-approved..."
Khan gave him a baleful look as if Leeds were an embarassment to the human race. It was momentary, because the subject began to stir fully. There was no sound through the cell, but the movements gave them all the indication necessary. The subject was thrashing violently against the bonds, straining every muscle possible in its desperate, instictive bid to be free. Leeds jumped back again, sweating in spite of the freezing temperature.
"M-Mr. Khan I really, really don't think--"
"That's abundantly clear to me at the moment," said Mr. Khan snidely under a veil of politeness. "You don't trust me, Doctor, and that injures me somewhat. I would not have brought one of them here if I found myself in mortal danger. So long as you remain in my good graces, and not out of my arm's reach, you are entirely safe--safer than a shepherd in a whorehouse, at any rate."
"But that's a Reaver!" exclaimed a desperate Dr. Leeds.
Mr. Khan clenched his jaw and gave Leeds an appraising look. "Quite right, Dr. Leeds, I can clearly see why you're such an accomplished researcher."
Leeds stammered and frowned under the sarcasm, but Khan paid him no mind. The Reaver had the whole of his attention.
"It has become apparent to me that we are much too wasteful in our experiments, Doctor," said Mr. Khan softly while he approached the cell. "They have existed since before the war, and yet this is the first time we're really studying them. We barely know anything of their physiology, psychology, anthropology. It's all a mystery, and it shall remain so once the Alliance gets through with them. Hardly fair, don't you think?
"They were a byproduct of the Pax, and because of that we wrote them off as failures. Look at him, Doctor. He's not a failure, he's a survivor. Of the little we do know, we are aware that survival is key to their existence. They are not barbarians, nor are they primitive. They show an understanding of our technology that go beyond most people's. All for the sake of survival, and to a lesser extent, dominance. They are us, Doctor, without the moral trappings--without shame. How very interesting."
"I am not a Reaver!" said Dr. Leeds emphatically.
"Is that so?" posed Mr. Khan, turning slightly to examine Leeds. "I wonder... If we apply the Pax to you, which side of the coin shall you fall on? The dead? Or the Reavers?"
The good doctor swallowed nervously, having now seen what lengths Mr. Khan would go to satisfy his curiousity in the restrained Reaver looming behind. "I still don't see--"
"Project Gilgamesh, Doctor," sighed Khan in disappointment, turning back to the ever struggling Reaver. "Why else would I summon you here? I fear I was too harsh on the original version. We had two subjects that were perfect--that we should've kept--yet I ordered their destruction because the project itself was a failure. How perfect would they have been for the second version? To train them, if little else? Perhaps assuade the dementia brought on by neural stripping? Alas, we shall never know."
"Valid points," nodded Dr. Leeds in agreement. "But that doesn't explain--"
"We don't have subjects from the original version, but perhaps we have something else to counter the psychosis," said Mr. Khan, who was growing mildly irritated at the interruptions. "I have a hypothesis which you shall test for me, Dr. Leeds. I believe the Reavers' obsession with survival would act as a filter against the dementia. It should focus their psychic abilities to perceive only dangers towards their person, whereas the students of the Academy could not help but perceive everything."
"That might be, sir, but I believe you're forgetting the part where they're psychotic to begin with," said a horrified Dr. Leeds, staring at Khan as if he'd sprouted five heads.
"Then alter the Pax," commanded Khan coldly. "I will grant you access to those files, just as I have with Project Gilgamesh. The Alliance needs ultimate warriors now, more than they did in the Unification War. The guerrilla tactics of the Rebels is the reason Project Gilgamesh was started in the first place. So, scour the data, disect the Reavers, do what is necessary, but know that time is not on your side. We have a finite amount of subjects from the second version of Project Gilgamesh, all residing in asylums. We have a finite amount of Reavers from the Alliance's previous campaign, who are all but extinct. Your best bet is to find someway to alter the Pax, and inject it into those left from the Academy."
For a moment Dr. Leeds believed his world had collapsed in on itself. All thoughts of decency--and indeed, fear of his own longevity--were nearly thrown out the window in his desire to let rip a stream of sarcastic comments regarding the absurdity of Mr. Khan's order. Once those thoughts had been sifted through years of Core upbringing, Leeds was left with the faint-inducing realization that he was actually meant to succeed in this venture.
"You--you're asking for the impossible," whispered Leeds almost inaudibly.
Mr. Khan arched a brow at Dr. Leeds and stepped towards the heavy door seperating the observation room from the cell. Leeds watched in horrific fascination as Khan pressed a series of buttons on the keypad and the door slid open. He stepped through calmly, and unfastened the Reaver from its table with a remote stud on his cufflink.
The Reaver wasted little time in charging at Mr. Khan, but he easily sidestepped the beast; tripping it up at the ankles as he did so. While the Reaver clawed its way back to its feet, Mr. Khan lashed out with a swift roundhouse kick to its ribs, snapping two in the process. Heedless of the pain, the Reaver once again scrambled back up to fight after being knocked against the corner. Compared to Mr. Khan's speed, the Reaver seemed like its arms were shackled down to the floor. In a show of uncanny strength, Mr. Khan clamped his hand around the Reaver's neck and lifted it into the air. It floundered around for a bit until he finally threw it against the table where it was knocked unconscious.
Pressing the cufflink again, the straps snapped back into place around the slumbering Reaver. Mr. Khan stepped through the door just as calmly as when he entered, and simply straightened his tie.
"We are Blue Sun, Dr. Leeds. We make the impossible possible."
"All's I'm sayin' is that we coulda escorted 'em back to civilized space," said Jayne Cobb at Serenity's mess hall, nursing a small flask of hooch. The burly, barrel-chested mercenary was stretched out in the most relaxed of postures; one foot was propped on the chair beside him, while the other was propped up on the tabletop; his back slouched in the chair with his free arm dangling over the back.
Jonah Hex, Jayne's sole companion at this late hour, gave him a knowing smile as he poured a drink for his own self. "I believe the Captain's a mite tetchy at Saffron for destroying shuttle two in her bid for freedom. I'm sure he doesn't want to be anywhere near her vicinity. By default, I suppose that includes Whisper's."
"Well, still," grumbled Jayne around another swig, "woulda been courteous 's'all. Mean, what if that qi tou hundan pulls somethin' on Whisper, huh?"
"Well," said an amused Hex, "from what I've heard Whisper can take care of her lonesome. Course having a big, strong mercenary onboard might not hurt."
"Huh," said Jayne softly, something of a half-smile, half-grimace splitting his face. "Don't think she didn't ask, Hex. Not--not y'know, serious 'n' the like, but..."
"So, why didn't you accept?" Hex tendered the question to Jayne, peering at the mercenary intently with his right eye. "Mercenaries don't typically tie themselves to one job for so long as you have. Might be about time to pick up and start out again."
"I--I ain't--aw hell, Hex, why y'gotta ask a man these things?" scowled Jayne irritably into his nearly empty flask. "'T'ain't right t'be thinkin' such nonsense. I'm here, that's all!"
"My mistake," grinned Hex as he lifted his own bottle and produced another glass. "More booze?"
"Hells yes!" nodded Jayne enthusiastically before he polished off his bottle, and then slid it across to the other end of the table.
Kyo Nagiama could hear snippets of the conversation drifting through the forward corridor and into the flight deck where he sat. Not enough for him to actually eavesdrop, but then if he really wanted to all he had to do was open up his psychic abilities. One of Jayne's conversations certainly wasn't worth the effort, nor the potential mental scarring that might occur. It was the fact that there were people still awake that dug under his skin. Going on half-a-year he'd been on Serenity, and things had never been this lively in the dead of night. Usually it's just him, and occassionally River. No one's up this late--or if they are, they do so respectably in their bunks.
A crew bunk door slid open, and Kyo turned his head slightly in interest. River was still asleep in his bunk, Jayne was awake, so that left either Zoe or Mal. The heavy foot falls a second later answered the question for him. Only Mal had that gait, that stride.
"Lively night, tonight," remarked Captain Malcolm Reynolds with a slight edge brought on by a man who couldn't sleep.
Kyo pushed himself around with his feet up on the pilot's console. Mal was standing in the middle of the flight deck, staring thoughtfully out into the black, with more than half the buttons of his shirt undone. He gave out a yawn, but there was a certain stubbornness in his steel blue eyes that said he wasn't really tired.
"Was just thinkin' that myself," said Kyo, folding his hands into his lap. "Reckon a visit from the missis does that to the crew."
Mal made a playful scowl at Kyo before settling himself in the copilot's chair. Kyo smirked at that and let his head loll back against his chair. Both men settled into a comfortable quiet as they stared out into the black just beyond Serenity's window.
"We on course?" asked Mal, shifting into his captainy mode.
"You're at the copilot's chair, you can tell for yourself," said Kyo with his eyes closed. Mal made a rude gesture towards Kyo, which made him chuckle slightly. Much more soberly, Kyo asked, "Got a real destination in mind? I mean, I can understand your wantin' to stick to the very edge of the known 'verse so you don't run afoul of Saffron again, but..."
"That's the problem with havin' money," sighed Mal as he poured over the nav sats and Cortex. "Makes you complacent, soft. Gets you all sorts of lazy 'til you wake up and find yourself with a powerful lack of it."
"We could get stupid if you're up for it," said Kyo with his eyes still closed. "Got a few contacts in the Core. They could probably be needin' some reliable carriers with the war goin' on and all. Course there's always the option of takin' on passengers."
"Yup, there's that," agreed Mal distractedly. "Or we could stop by Three Hills to let Jayne visit his folks; maybe it's 'bout time he checked in on Matty in person. Or Whittier to let Kaylee introduce the Doc to her folks. Reckon she might just explode like a sun if I tell her so. 'Sides, we gotta refuel 'fore we even think 'bout hittin' the Core."
"Yeah," sighed Kyo wearily, finally cracking open his eyes to stare back out at the black. It was the black--the same black he'd always stared at--but somehow it was different. There was no definable quality to the difference, but it was there. "Knowin' what made the Reavers, I still can't help but think of the old legends; 'bout them bein' men what saw the edge of space and went mad. Bein' here now? I can kinda see where that came from."
"Yup, it's the whole unchartedness of it," said Kyo lazily, closing his eyes again. "Kinda like teeterin' on the edge of a cliff. I mean you can slide yourself all the way to the edge to take a peak, maybe sit a spell, but you push too far and... Well, there ain't no comin' back. No way you'll reach a fuelin' station, or someone to find you, or even a rock that might support you. That's it. You're humped. Course that don't make me homicidal, that just makes me wanna go somewhere not hazardous."
Mal chuckled slightly as the screens picked up a hail; not from the Cortex, but a purely audio source. Intrigued, Mal raised his hand up to tune their com to the frequency transmitted. He jumped in his chair at the blaring sound of horns, a driving drum rhythm, and jangling guitars. Kyo snapped to attention as well and began scanning his console, thinking his boots accidentally turned on a music channel from the Cortex.
Gentle fingers curled over his shoulder, and he looked up to find River smiling down at him in her white nightgown. "Didn't want to miss the party."
"Ain't no party goin' on here," said Mal, though the upbeat, jazzy music spoke otherwise. That answer only made River smile down at Kyo like Mal was a child. "And I saw that!"
"Cap? What in the ruttin' hell's goin' on here?" demanded Jayne as both he and Hex made their way into the bridge. River took the opportunity to make room for them by slipping onto Kyo's lap. "What is that yan nan-hai de jian-jiao?"
"Swing music," said River like an instructor, though she couldn't help smirking at Jayne's ignorance.
"Did you accidentally access a historical file on the Cortex?" wondered Hex in his gravelly voice, sneaking a look over Mal's shoulder.
"No," frowned Mal as he tuned down the volume. "It's comin' off a transmission I picked up. Been tryin' to localize its point of origin."
River typed up the search into the pilot's console with her one hand, keeping the rest of her body curled up against Kyo. He assisted her the best he could manage, considering his new status as her chair. Between the two of them it didn't take long until they pinpointed the source.
"It's a ship," said Kyo, reading what the screens were reporting. "Too far out to get a visual. None of the information seems familiar to me though. I've never seen these kinds of readings from a ship before."
"Relay satellite?" asked Mal.
"That's too big for a relay satellite," commented Hex, watching the screen on the copilot's console. "Far, far too big. I'm in agreement with Kyo, however, I've never seen those kinds of readings from a ship. Not even the Reavers."
"Aliens?" said Jayne fearfully. Most of that fear was a result of the alcohol burning its way through his blood, but primarily it was just Jayne being Jayne. "It's aliens ain't it? Gorrammit, I knew we shouldn'ta came out to the ruttin' edge!"
"Jayne, calm down! There ain't no such thing as aliens," said Mal.
"Debatable," countered River, staring pointedly at Jayne. Kyo and Hex gave little snorts of laughter at her look, which went completely unnoticed by the mercenary in question. "The universe is made up of many galaxies, each with an as yet undefinable amount of planets. Impossible to calculate finite odds on existence of extraterrestrial life. It's improbable, not impossible."
Mal was cut off by the signal becoming garbled and distorted. There was a brief moment when everyone's eyes bulged at the sound of warped, atonal speech coming through the com. After a few seconds, the signal began to steady itself and become understandable again. Jayne breathed a sigh while he crashed into the third seat behind the copilot's.
"He-hello, my na--my name's Arthur Dent," said a breathless, nervous voice over the com. Kyo immediately pressed a button nearby to commence recording the transmission. "I'm a research scientist from Earth."
Everyone had a dumbfounded look on their faces as they stared at each other.
"Ain't no ruttin' way..."
River shushed them with her finger over her lips. Her eyes scanned around the air as if they saw something no one else could see, and her head was tilted in deep contemplation.
"Ah--I'm not sure if this is recording or not," continued Arthur Dent, and Mal put down the microphone he'd snatched. "Every system I can spare, I've shut down or diverted, and that includes communications. We--we struck an asteroid or something, and the computer woke me out of cryo. I've--I've tried to repair our ship the best I can, but the--the autopilot's disabled. I can only pray I've made the correct course adjustments and that this takes us to the Exodus survivors. On board this ship are the last remnants of Earth artifacts we could find; history, technology, clothes, anything. This ship also holds my family, which I consider to be the most valuable. Please...please take care of them..."
The recording ended in static for a moment before a low, lamenting jazz number started up. Everyone stared off into the black with sadness written plainly on their eyes. Mal swallowed down his sympathy first to rise up from the copilot's chair. "Kyo, get us to that ship. River, find out what you can." Mal raised up his hand again to switch channels on the com. "All hands, rise and shine! We got ourselves a situation!"
"Gold?" asked Jayne hopefully from his seat. "Like the Lassiter, right? We's rich?"
"A.S.S.E.D.," said Simon Tam, who was peering contemplatively through the window of Serenity.
"Assed?" choked Jayne with a snort, wiping excess alcohol from around his beared lips. "What kinda ruttin' fool names their ship Assed?"
"Anglo-Sino Space Exploration Division," said Simon blandly, pulling a face at Jayne's immaturity level. "That acronym hasn't been used since before the Exodus. It's name is Hope."
"Exodus?" inquired Kaylee curiously, poking her head up from the copilot's console that she shared with River. "What was the Exodus?"
"To those who stayed on Earth it was called the Exodus, but to those who left it was called Project Seeds," explained Simon professorally.
"Basically it's a fancy term for all of us," said Mal shortly as he tugged his gunbelt around his waist. "What d'you got for me, Kyo?"
"They're flyin' dark," said the pilot, who'd unlatched the cylinder of his Peacemaker to check if it was loaded. "Can't get a bead on anythin' operatin'. We probably would've missed 'em entirely if it wasn't for that message."
"Why are they broadcasting that message?" frowned Inara Serra as a speech about having a dream became the background noise of Serenity. "None of it makes sense. Random speeches, music of all genres, and then his message."
"Way, way back in the early days of space exploration, countries used to send out satellites into deep space," said Hex at the far back with his snow-white hair tied into a ponytail and his arms folded. "They were akin to time capsules, but they were also meant to be a non-threatening welcome message for any extraterrestrial life form that it might come across. Found one on my many adventures. Still worked."
"Must have it on that ship of theirs," said Kaylee definitively. "Not gettin' no readin' from the ship's systems. Must be one of them relics that Arthur Dent talked about."
Mal looked out towards the drifting ship. There were numerous damage marks and scrapes along its white hull to corroborate with Arthur Dent's story. Generally speaking, the ship resembled something of an elongated, athletic shoe with an array of engines slapped onto the back. They could clearly see the cockpit up at the top because of the windows' reflection. Everything else, however, was a complete mystery to Mal.
"All right people, get suited up! You know the drill," ordered Mal, already on his way out the flight deck.
"Whoa, Mal, we ain't ever exactly have the best record with these things," said Jayne resonably from his seat.
"Like I said," said Mal pointedly, "you know the drill. That includes you crawlin' into your bunk like a coward."
Jayne's face fell at Mal's comment, while everyone else's turned into smirks. Mal smiled in some meager attempt at an apology as he stalled near the door. "You don't gotta come on the inspection, but if there's anythin' of value onboard, you'd best be ready to pull your weight. Can't get a cut if you don't do the job, dong-ma?"
"And the family, sir?" asked Zoe evenly.
"We'll do as the man asks, if his story's true," replied Mal on the way out. "We were lookin' to head on back to civilization ourselves."
"Yes, civilization," said Simon softly with a quirk of his mouth. "I'm sure that's exactly what they'll call it."
Serenity pulled up against the front tip of Hope, and River guided them neatly together. Mal, Zoe, Kyo and Kaylee were all dressed up in their pressure suits, waiting for the docking sequence to complete. When the lights of the locked down cargo hold shut off except the red on the ramp's surface, Zoe stepped forward to open the door.
Kyo stepped in first with his Peacemaker in his left hand and an atmo-scanner in his right. The door led them straight into the cargo hold of Hope. Except for some kind of luminescent cell bisecting each wall lengthwise, the whole ship was plunged into darkness. Judging from the area of the cargo hold, it appeared it took up the entire lower section of Hope. Every square inch of it seemed crammed with sterile, cargo crates or old-fashioned wooden ones.
"They're runnin' completely dark," said Kyo through their com. "No life-support at all. Probably ran out of fuel."
"Would you look at all the pretties!" exclaimed Kaylee from her spot in the middle of their line. She pressed her gloved hand against the smooth frame of some sort of four-wheeled transport. Mal scrunched up his brow at its design, thinking it looked like a wannabe shuttle without any of the flying parts.
"Not the priority, Kaylee," said Mal gently from the rear. "We'll take inventory when we can actually see everythin'. That's your job."
Quietly, they navigated the rows of crates until they came across a claustrophobic ladder shaft near the aft of Hope's cargo bay. Flush against the rear wall itself was another door that opened towards the engine room, if the sign hanging above its frame was any indication. Mal gestured to Zoe that she should escort Kaylee into the engine room while he followed Kyo up to the bridge.
The bridge was just as dark as the rest of the ship, except for more of those luminescent cells. Kyo thought they had to consume barely any power to still be active after all this time. Through the window of the bridge, Kyo spotted River, and she waved at them in greeting. Kyo chuckled at her, but it died on his lips as he spotted the body seated in the pilot's chair.
"Dead," said Kyo, looking over the immaculately preserved body of Arthur Dent. "Guessin' the lack of atmosphere must've preserved the body. From the looks of him, I'd say he starved to death."
Mal grunted to indicate he heard since nodding translated poorly with their helmets. He continued to wave his light around the low-ceilinged bridge that seemed to share the same wall as the engine room. Aside from the forward console, there seemed to be a small, corner kitchen, a media center, and another room that opened up to a bathroom.
"I'm not gettin' any power to the console," said Kyo over their suit's com. "Kaylee?"
"Everything's shiny in the engine room, Kyo," came Kaylee's bright voice right against his ear. "Looks to be they just ran outta fuel 's'all. Zoe and I are switchin' 'em up now!"
"Copy that," said Kyo, who then spent his time familiarizing himself with the controls presented. "The controls are gutted. It's like an amalgamation of duct tape, chicken wire and prayer. Most of it seems patched into auto-pilot from what I can see. There's some burn marks, and I reckon that's from the collision he spoke of. Probably from a short within the system."
"I found the family," said Mal through the calm, and it seemed as if three people took simultaneous gasps. He ran his light over the tall cylinders in the bedroom; they were about the only furniture in the closetlike space. "Got a wife and a little girl from the looks of it. They're fine, but I think I'd like the Doc to take a peek 'fore we move 'em. Third one must've been Dent's, and it's got its innards all spillin' out and pumped back into the ship."
At that moment the power came on to fully illuminate the light gray walls along with Kaylee's voice, "Life-support should back on in a few, Cap'n. 'Til then we best keep the suits on."
"All right," said Mal over the com. "Get on up here and help Kyo. Zoe, stay down there. I'll join you and we'll see to that cargo."
Jayne strode through the cargo bay with Mal, Zoe and Hex. Every crate he touched made his smile grow a notch at the possibilities of more fortune. He was doing the math in his head and had already ran out of fingers and toes to count. All he knew was that if the Lassiter had brought in as much money as it had, then a whole ship full of artifacts would bring in more.
"We're rich!" he exclaimed in a voice full of giddiness. "Biao-zi yu de tian! We're ruttin' rich, Mal!"
Mal flexed the muscles of his jaw as he looked up from a crate, remembering his thoughts surrounding the Lassiter deal. "Not quite, Jayne. Got some stuff to sort out first."
"What're you talkin' 'bout?" said Jayne in confusion, raising his head from a crate full of clothes. "Earth-that-was artifacts are valuable ain't they?"
"They are," nodded Mal, tucking his thumbs into his gunbelt. "We got some problems to solve first. Some of these things might be personal effects belongin' to the folks we brought on board. Gonna have to have 'em sort it out whenever Simon wakes 'em. Then there's the fact we ain't got room on Serenity to hold a sixth of what's on here. Means we need to be selective on what we pick. Finally there's the notion that rare artifacts go down in value when they suddenly ain't rare." To emphasize his point, Mal flipped open the crate full of thirty-six Lassiters in front of him.
"Whoa, WHOA!" frowned the mercenary as he skipped around a few crates to stand before Mal. "You mean to tell me we're abandonin' this gold mine for whatever tamade hundan might come by to pick our seconds? Where's the sense in that?"
"We ain't takin' it all with us, Jayne," said Zoe reasonably. "Serenity won't be weighed down by greed. What're we gonna do if we come 'cross an Alliance ship on the way back in?"
"Well, hell, we get Kaylee and Kyo to fix up this ship!" demanded Jayne desperately. "Y'heard 'em up there; there ain't nothin' wrong with this here ship 'cept she's gone without fuel! We get someone to fly her somewhere we can hide her! A little retirement fund or somethin'! Mal, this is too big to throw away and you know it!"
Mal turned the possibilities over around in his mind. Jayne had a fair point, even if Mal was loathe to accept it. If the ship could fly, then it wouldn't hurt for them to land it somewhere safe. But then, in this 'verse, what was truly safe? What place could they keep it that wouldn't be found by some lucky scavenger, or worse, Reavers?
"Let me take it," said Jayne, and Mal and Zoe collapsed together in laughter; however, Hex kept his attention rooted on Jayne with a frown. He hadn't yet burned through the booze from earlier in the night, so undoubtably he was being truthful. "Gorrammit, Mal, I mean it! I quit! Give me this ship 'n' whatever cargo you can't carry!"
There was a dead silence as both Mal and Zoe looked over Jayne carefully. The mercenary hadn't moved an inch from his spot against the crate full of Lassiters, nor had his eyes shifted away from Mal's own. Hex thought he might have to intervene in a sudden scuffle and so his eyes ping-ponged between Mal and Jayne.
Hex had little to worry, because both Mal and Zoe burst out again in another round of laughter. "Jayne I'm thinkin' you knocked back one too many tonight. Must've killed half of whatever brain cells you had if you reckon I'm gonna leave you with all this as some sorta...quittin' bonus! Hex, take Jayne back to Serenity and have the Doc sober him up some!"
"I-I ain't jokin', Mal!" said Jayne with a frown of confusion as Hex led the man back through the cargo bay. "I-I'm serious! I'll take the ship if you don't want it!"
Every word Jayne said just made Mal and Zoe laugh harder until they were leaning heavily against the crate. Once Jayne was gone the laughter trailed off into a sad whine from both of them.
"You know he was serious, sir," stated Zoe with a ghost of a smile left on her face.
"I know, Zoe," nodded Mal, looking down into the crate of Lassiters. "I know."
"What're you gonna do, sir?" questioned Zoe seriously, no humor at all in those words.
"Don't rightly know," admitted Mal as he straightened up and smoothed out his shirt. "I do know we're gonna have to talk with 'em folks 'fore we do anythin'. See to Kyo or Kaylee, maybe they might want some of Hope for use on Serenity. All's I know is that I ain't gotta come up with a decision right this minute."
"Are they the family?" asked Inara from the door to the infirmary. The woman on the operating chair was tallish, with dark, wavy hair not unlike her own rather than River's, and a serious face even in sleep. Laying on the long counter to the right was a girl around the age of twelve or thirteen with shorter, red hair. Arthur Dent's body was lying in that small space between the cargo bay and the actual hull. Had they the spare shuttle, they might've laid him to rest there instead.
"Yes," said Simon as he readied a shot into the hypodermic. "I was just about to wake the wife now. Thought it might be best for her to wake up first and get settled."
"Right, of course," nodded Inara in agreement, looking over towards the girl that Kaylee was hovering over. "She'd be better equipped to calm the daughter if there's any complications."
"Question is: Who's going to calm her?" sighed Simon heavily before pressing the gun against the woman's neck. There was a sharp hiss in the quiet infirmary as the drugs were pumped through the woman's skin with air pressure instead of a needle.
"Perhaps we should have retrieved Jayne or Zoe for this?" said Inara with a vague trace of humor in her voice as they all stared at the woman expectantly.
"Or the captain," said Mal suddenly from behind her, giving them all various stages of a heartattack. Humorlessly he went on, "This is the sorta captainy thing I'm expected to be notified on, y'know."
"No offense, Mal, but you're not exactly the type of person to tell a woman her husband's dead and she's spent a 150 years in space," said Inara shortly, sparing Mal the slightest of glances.
Mal glanced around at Simon and Kaylee with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Now why on Earth would I be offended by that statement?" Dropping the false smile, he returned to addressing Inara, "In my experience, 'Nara, honesty's the best policy in a situation like this. Toss 'em in the deep and let 'em swim a spell."
"And if they can't swim?" asked Inara sharply.
"It's a hard 'verse, 'Nara," said Mal shortly. "They can't deal with that, there ain't a place anywhere they'll be able to live."
Further arguement was stymied by the woman's sudden coughing fit as her eyes fluttered open. Simon leapt into action immediately; his eyes darting towards the screen set over his shoulder to monitor her vitals; his hand applying firm pressure on her shoulder to keep her down on the chair. "Lie back, fang-song," he told her softly in his concerned, knowledgable doctor's voice. "You've spent a long time in cryo-sleep. It'll take some time for you to, well, thaw..."
"Arth-Arthur? Ran-Random?" the woman croaked with her rusted voice before she became overcome in another coughing fit.
"Take your time," encouraged Simon, purposefully avoiding the need to answer her questions. "Just take a minute or two to reorient yourself."
After two or three deep breaths, the woman seemed to calm significantly. Her bright, intelligent eyes took in Simon's well-dressed form standing beside her along with the sterile environment around them, obviously marking it as either a hospital or infirmary. The shimmering, smooth and colorfully dressed--in a tactful way--woman before her drew her attention next, followed by the ruggedly dressed man beside her. They all seemed to be such an oddly matched group.
"You're on my ship," said the man, dressed in a plain cotton shirt and trousers, though those were held up with leather suspenders. Lord almighty, she hadn't read of anyone doing that since after World War II. The gunbelt slung low at his right hip gave her some cause for alarm, and the woman seemed to pick up on that immediately.
"Mal, your gun," she hissed in an undertone. The man, Mal, frowned in confusion and seemed to simply brush off her admonishment.
"You're on my ship," he began again, this time stepping past the woman to stand within the room proper. "Her name's Serenity, and I'm her Captain--Malcolm Reynolds. That there's Inara Serra, a registered Companion; at your shoulder's Simon Tam, our gifted medic; just past him is his wife, Kaylee, our genius mechanic. There are more--five to be factual--we can get to them later."
Her eyes slipped over the grease-covered mechanic to the still form lying behind her. At that moment her heart felt like it'd been kidnapped by fear and dragged straight to the lowest pit of hell.
"No, no!" exclaimed the mechanic, Kaylee. "Y-your daughter's shiny! She's just still sleepin', ain't that right, hun?"
"Ah, yes," said Simon with a visible wince as both he and Kaylee stepped aside so that she could see it was so. "All I need is to administer the correct drug to counter the affects of your cryo-sleep."
The logical portion of her mind snapped on to that statement; eager for a piece of fact to keep itself afloat. "That--that can't be right. You'd need to do that only if we slept too long. We should've been asleep for eighty to a hundred years. That's how long the projections were for Seed. How--how long were we sleeping?"
She saw Simon, Kaylee and Inara look at each other with faces full of worry and apprehension, but it was Captain Reynolds who stepped forward without fear.
"150 years," stated Captain Reynolds in a brusque, no-nonesense way. It was solid--hard, heavy, but solid--and she felt a semblence of gratitude for it.
"Why did you push so far out?" she wondered, knowing he probably didn't have the answer for her.
"We didn't," he told her. "You took longer'n needed to get here on account of you runnin' out of fuel. What with your auto-pilot failin' the way it did, you were lucky to have made it at all."
"But we couldn't have ran out of fuel," she protested weakly, feeling--and hearing--her heart race starting to pulse. "No, the system was supposed to wake up Arthur every time we ran low on fuel so he could slip in a new set of cells. And what happened to the auto-pilot? Where's Arthur? Why isn't he here to tell me this?"
There was another tense silence that even the Captain was lost in, but again he was the one to provide the harsh answer. "Nearest we can piece together, some forty years after you left Earth, Hope crashed into an asteroid passing through. The collision deep-fried your auto-pilot and woke up your husband. He couldn't fix it, but he--ah--he--what'd he do, Kaylee?"
"He--he salvaged the auto-timer for the engines," said Kaylee uncomfortably to be the one to bear bad news. "Put Hope back on course for our galaxy, then reset the timer to u-use the cells as con-conservatively as possible..."
"That tinkerin' included him usin' his cryo-cell," said Mal, taking over the narrative, and once again she felt her heart being stolen. "He stayed alive as long as he could manage, but eventually he ran out of supplies. He starved to death. He's left you logs he made in the interim. We ain't read 'em."
"A-are you all right?" inquired Simon softly as everyone noticed the monitor's beeping had increased rapidly. She tried to nod, to say anything, but all she could manage was dry heaving over the side of the chair; there was nothing in her stomach to be expelled. Kaylee, Inara and Simon immediately rushed to comfort her, but they were all too strange, too foreign, and they only boxed her in further and further.
With a sharp explosion of motion, she leapt from the chair and pushed through the three strangers. She hit the ground hard, but didn't stay still enough to register the pain along her hip. Every piece of her needed to escape--needed to be free of the madness around her. All the muscles in her thighs were weak and protesting, but she ignored them and pushed on. The Captain merely stepped aside as she scrambled past--lost, aimless and wild.
"Brilliant idea, Mal!" snapped Inara harshly while Kaylee and Simon made to take off after her.
"Leave her be," ordered Mal, blocking their motion. Eyeing the Doctor refilling his hypodermic, Mal made a wry face. "If that ain't your answer to everythin', Doc. Look, she's fine, she just needs some time to take things in. 'Sides, she ain't goin' anywhere." Turning around, he clicked on the intercom nearby. "Zoe, Kyo, you're about to have company--the wife. Give her some space, but if she goes crazy..."
"Got it, sir," said Zoe on the other end, looking over her shoulder towards Kyo, who was descending the ladder. No sooner had the warning come through than did the woman burst through the door. She was agitated at first, but calmed visibly at the running lights in Hope. Zoe's hand inched to her primary weapon, the sawn-off strapped to her right hip; Kyo merely stared through the rungs of the ladder that he was leaning against.
Even though he wasn't using his full psychic abilities, the grief radiating off of her body was toe-curling and palpable to Kyo. It was coming to a crescendo, however, as her fingers ran along crates and the hull of the ship. Confirming the harsh truth of whatever Mal had told her, they watched as the woman collapsed into a sobbing heap. The grief for her husband's sacrifice almost made Kyo crash to the floor as well; if it hadn't been for the ladder, he might've. Therefore it was Zoe who moved towards the woman, opening up her own reservoir of grief at her own lost husband.
In the middle of Hope's cargo bay, the woman weeped into Zoe's inviting arms as she comforted her. Kyo closed off his powers the best he could manage to give Zoe her privacy. For an added measure of seperation, he climbed back up the ladder to let them grieve in private.
Hours later, and with a fresh meal prepared by Hex, Zoe introduced the woman to the crew as Fenchurch Dent. Her daughter was Random Dent, but they held off on waking her up until Fenchurch explained her story.
"Arthur, Random and I lived in the Ford Prefecture on Earth. You see, after the Exodus all of us were forced to live underground. For some, it meant in the infrastructures beneath the gigantic cities that were. For others, that meant building supports for volcanic caves. Things weren't as bleak as you'd imagine. Hydroponics and gen-seeds, combined with the very best in holographic technology created some wonderful forests. We had the walls set up with holograms to represent seasons, day and night, even weather. It was nice, bright. We salvaged many of our technology before the ice age settled in."
"Yeah, sounds like a great little imaginary world of yours," remarked Jayne tetchily from his spot at the rear of the table.
"Don't mind Jayne," said Mal lightly. "His mouth and his brain've been at odds with each other for sometime."
"No, it's all right," said Fenchurch with a slight smile. "There were many who felt the same. Actually, that dissent and need to reclaim what was lost are what forced us to flee like we did. You see, there were some who thought we were better off living underground as we were. Others thought that we should utilize the technology we salvaged to see if we couldn't give mother nature a push. I guess, while you were finally settling this system, we were starting the Phoenix Project. Arthur was in charge of the project. He was so proud, before he usually complained nothing ever happened to him."
"What went wrong?" inquired Simon as something akin to a professional interest.
"Many things," sighed Fenchurch despondently. "Primarily we lacked sufficient terraformers, having loaded almost all of them on your transports. Beyond that, power was a huge issue. We tried to compensate with geothermal energies, but the convertors overloaded and the feedback fried our main generators. We could've fixed that, if the surge and the brief terraforming hadn't caused a seismic instability on Earth."
"Why you?" asked Hex from behind the kitchen counter; his snow-white, shoulder-length hair still pulled back into a ponytail, and a rag was draped over a shoulder. "Your husband's message led us to believe you're the only survivors. How is that possible?"
"Arthur," said Fenchurch with a sad, watery smile. "His hobby was collecting any artifacts he could manage. His prized possession was the ship we used. It was a prototype for the ones your ancestors used in the Exodus. He kept it in full working order and even built up the auto-pilot to take us here, thinking we might use it to send word to you if things went right. We never expected..."
"Well, we got some seventy worlds for you to pick," said Kaylee brightly, sitting beside Simon as usual. "Course, not all of 'em are really habitable, and if you're lookin' to be most like Earth, you're probably better off with the Core. Or you can just go travelin' from world to world! There're some that choose that."
"I don't know how I'll manage," admitted Fenchurch nauseously.
"For starters, I'm thinkin' we might educate you on the way things are," said Mal as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Got ourselves access to the Cortex. You'll be able to browse some of the history files they got, but I wouldn't put too much stock in what they say. Had ourselves a little civil war recently, of which three of us participated in and lost. Got any questions 'bout that, just look for the ones in brown. We'll also need to discuss your ship."
"What about?" frowned Fenchurch, already curious about the war now that it was mentioned.
"Earth-that-was artifacts are pretty rare 'round these parts," said Mal, sparing Jayne a quick glance. "They'll fetch a good price, and considerin' your lack of funds at the moment, you'll need it. Other'n that, your ship's valuable in the sense of spare parts and the newfangled technology available."
"You people are scavengers?" stuttered Fenchurch in disbelief.
"Among other things," said a nodding Mal swiftly before any others could comment. "Fact still stands you ain't got money, which is something you'll be needin'. We do. We'll pay a reasonable penny for whatever you'd like to part with, but we can't leave this empty-handed. We'll leave you to make your decision on the matter."
The meeting adjurned, and everyone began to filter about to their own duties, except Zoe, Simon and Kaylee. They remained to help Fenchurch sort through things that she was still fuzzy one.
"Would you like me to revive your daughter?" asked Simon softly, moving up to where Fenchurch was sitting at the middle of the table.
"No!" said Fenchurch a little emphatically. "I--ah--I'd like to find out more about life here, if possible. It--it sounds like things are so different. M-my husband, will you hold onto him until we can give him a burial?"
Simon looked uncomfortably to Zoe who decided to field the question. "Nearest habitable planet is two weeks away. We don't have the adequate preservatives for keeping a body, and..."
"I understand," said Fenchurch quickly, eager to fill the uncomfortable void Zoe was about the make. "Besides, I guess a funeral wouldn't really make sense. I mean, no planet here's our home. Space is just as good a place as any."
Zoe placed a reassuring hand on Fenchurch's shoulder and Kaylee slipped away from Simon's side to grasp Fenchurch's hand.
"Cap'n might seem like a mean ol' man, but he's really nice," assured Kaylee cheerfully. "We won't take anythin' outta Hope you don't agree with. If you don't wanna keep the ship, we'll take you to wherever you want free of charge!"
"Thank you, but I believe I don't need the ship," said Fenchurch as she dug nervously into the table with her thumb. "I--ah--don't know how to fly. That was Arthur..."
"I can relate," said Zoe with a melancholy, yet proud, smile of her own.
She woke up. She didn't know how, but she did. All she remembered was her father's face as he helped her into the cell, telling her everything would be fine, then a long stretch of blackness, and then she realized she could move her limbs. Her head bounced against something hard above, and the pain was so sudden and unexpected she hadn't time to cry out.
Fear and panic gripped at her when she realized she wasn't in her cryo-cell, nor was she on Hope, and neither were her parents around. Random felt like crying, which made her mad because she was too old to be crying. But there was really nothing else to do; she was lost and alone and sore.
Before she started hyperventilating, Random heard a soft humming being carried through the walls. It was the same song her mother used to hum as a lullaby, when she was a baby back in the Ford Prefecture. Her mother told her it was by the Eagles, which she always found preposterous because nowhere in her books did it say eagles could sing.
Regardless, Random followed the song out the room she was in, up the stairs to her right, and into the larger room full of crates. A stripped-down hovercraft hung above her, and Random wondered if it still worked. Most of the hovercars she'd been in were larger and much more shiny. At the center of the room was a girl older than her, with pale skin and long, wavy hair. She looked pretty in a sad way, even though she smiled as she played with the plastic dinosaurs.
The girl looked up and stopped humming; her big eyes pinned Random to her spot at the door. With a secretive smile, she placed a slender finger upon her lips and resumed playing with the toys.
There was something strange about her that Random couldn't quite place, but there was also something trusting and knowledgeable too. Wanting to play with the dinosaurs because they'd always been her favorite, she tentatively walked over and sat down on the floor.
"Been thinkin' 'bout our shuttle situation," said Kyo as both he and Mal made their way from the flight deck through the forward corridor.
"Saffron's payin'," said Mal shortly.
"Yeah, I got that," chuckled Kyo. "Course, it'll take her some time to cover the debt and meanwhile we ain't got no shuttle. While we wait for payment that'll never come, I drew us up a blueprint for a new shuttle."
"You're gonna build one?" asked Mal, stopping at the top of the stairs that led down to the cargo bay.
"We got plenty of raw materials out there," said Kyo, gesturing with his sketchpad, "and Fenchurch says she don't want it. That'll cut down on the build costs. We'd be stupid to turn away the engines anyway, Mal. Those alone would be expensive as hell, and they provide a helluva lot more thrust than the ones Inara's got. We could have ourselves a long-range shuttle for once."
"And why would we be needin' a long-range shuttle?" inquired Mal suspiciously as they resumed their slow walk down.
"Maybe our recent run in with the bounty hunters has made you think Serenity could use somethin' more than just defensive mechanisms?" answered Kyo with another question.
"Might be so, but Serenity ain't carryin' no weapons. You know that, that's why we didn't take any off the Wolfhound when you joined up."
"Yeah, puttin' weapons on Serenity's like paintin' a giant bull's-eye on our backside to any Alliance ship that comes sniffin'. That's why we put 'em on a shuttle. Give ourselves our own little fighter. Run interference if Serenity finds herself trapped like fei-pan lao-shu an-fang wei-xing long-zi. Case you haven't noticed, there's another war goin' on; this one funded by the type of folk we typically work for. Alliance is bound to start crackin' down on us."
"And who'll pilot the fighter?" asked Mal sharply, pausing again just before the catwalk.
"Know any other former fighter pilot's onboard?" replied Kyo with a smirk.
"That's still the bitty ship against an Alliance cruiser at the least," pointed out Mal skeptically.
"You can do a lot with a little," shrugged Kyo unconcernedly as he continued to walk down the stairs. "We all did durin' the war."
They both paused at the catwalk, stalling the conversation as they took in the sight of River playing with a very awake Random on the cargo bay floor. Mal looked to Kyo for a explanation, but he seemed to be just as confused as Mal. Just as Kyo was going to call out, River raised her head to them. That caught the attention of Random, who likewise looked up at Mal and Kyo. Feeling a little afraid, Random began to slide closer to River, exposing Wash's old toy dinosaurs to the dumbfounded men.
"Go get the Doc and Fenchurch," Mal ordered as he made his way down the stairs. Kyo gave a nod and took off towards the passenger deck the moment they hit the floor. Meanwhile, Mal took slow, gentle steps towards the girls with a kind, yet bemused, smile on his face. Well before reaching the girls, Mal hiked up his trousers some, so they wouldn't split when he crouched, and looked down at the toys scattered about.
"River, might you be explainin' to me how Random here woke up?" inquired Mal softly. "I don't recall your brother givin' her no shot."
"She wasn't sleepy anymore," said River as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Mal was quite sure she kept up her riddle-speak simply because it knotted everyone else's minds so.
"Random!" exclaimed Fenchurch the moment she, Simon, Zoe and Kyo filed into the cargo bay. Kyo was quite surprised to find Zoe sitting with Fenchurch talking at this late hour, but chose not to pry where he might not be wanted.
"Mom!" exclaimed Random in a voice thick with emotion and disuse and excitement. Everyone watched as mother and daughter reunited in a strong embrace, right in the middle of Serenity. Simon could only watch in stunned silence at the girl who shouldn't be awake; Zoe's eyes found their way to the toys that River was picking up; Mal and Kyo just stood on the side to let the family have their moment.
"Simon, best give the girl a quick look at," said Mal softly. "I'm sure they'd appreciate some time to catch up."
"Right," said Simon, instantly snapping into his doctor's mode at the request. He went around to the women and gently began to guide them into the passenger deck. River tailed them with the toys gathered up in her floral skirt. Once they were gone, Mal took the opportunity to glance at his second-in-command inquisitively.
"I haven't gone back to my room all day, sir," said Zoe, taking a lingering look back towards the passenger deck. "Mostly I've been helping Fenchurch through things. She's adjusting some, but it'll be some time 'til she makes a choice on where to stay."
Mal nodded silently for a moment before commenting, "It's nice to see them out and about, ain't it?"
"Yes, sir," said Zoe with a soft smile as her fingers touched the black necklace that would probably never leave her person.
"Kyo, get started," said Mal after a moment. "Come tomorrow I'll get Kaylee to start work on salvaging the engines. Zoe, has Fenchurch decided on what she's to keep?"
"She's marked out a few containers," reported Zoe in a more businesslike manner. "Mostly clothes and such. As to what's valuable onboard Hope that we might take to sell? I'm not sure any of us has the faintest idea, sir."
"Yeah," sighed a resigned Mal. "Can't make heads nor tails of those things to begin with, let alone know what respectable folks might consider collectable. Well, we ain't needin' to be anywhere soon."
The Alliance frigate Mauser loomed in the black like a shark, which wasn't so different from its actual physical appearance. On the pristine, white and gray of the ship's bridge stood Captain Kittle; his posture was every bit as stiff as his starched uniform. He prowled across his bridge, taking care to spy over the shoulders of every subordinate there, knowing there wasn't anything more interesting to see out the window.
"Captain?" asked an eager Lieutenant from his console.
"What is it?" asked Kittle with a heavy sigh.
"I have a vague reading on our sensors," said the young Lieutenant, indicating towards his screen. Kittle saw it and frowned--the "vague reading" looked to be nothing more than an overly large star against the black.
"Captain Kittle?" said Kittle's first officer, and he turned to address the man. "New orders from command, sir. They just came through the Cortex."
Kittle thumbed the pad offered to him, activating the transparent, paper-sized screen with his thumbprint. The grid fell away to reveal the orders, coming apparently, from the Prime Minister himself. Kittle was perturbed, but mildly interested at what the orders read, and once he'd finished scanning through them, he released his thumb to shut off the screen.
"Orders, sir?" inquired Landers, the first officer.
"Lieutenant, what do you make of that...'vague reading?'" asked Captain Kittle instead.
"Ah, I think it could be a ship, sir," said the Lieutenant nervously. "There's not supposed to be anything out there, sir. It could be a smuggling vessel trying to circumnavigate our patrols. Or a vessel in distress."
"Or it could be Reavers," said the Captain evenly, watching with some detached amusement as the Lieutenant paled. "Forward the coordinates to com. Ensign, take us there at best speed."
Mal stood against the ladder in Jayne's bunk with his hands folded across his chest. Jayne gave off the impression of a man sleeping, but Mal knew it wasn't so. Just a man being in Jayne's bunk unannounced would be enough to wake up the mercenary. Mal'd seen the man wake up from a lot quieter.
Finally fed up with waiting for the man, Mal started talking, "I got me other captainy duties to attend to, so I'm just gonna ask straight: Why so bent on retirin'?"
Jayne didn't stir, though all Mal could see of the man was the top of his head and shoulders, but he got the impression Jayne was searching for an answer himself.
"Just drunk talk, Mal," said Jayne quietly.
"No--well, I'm sure you were a mite tipsy--but you were serious," stated Mal, relaxing his posture to take a few steps into the bunk. "You would've done it, and we all know that so let's not bother with the dumb way around."
"She asked me to join her," said Jayne gruffly, crawling closer to the other blanket that hid part of Jayne's arsenal. "Whisper. She wanted me to join her, but I didn't, but she knew that anyway."
"Still not connectin' the dots, Jayne," admitted Mal with an amused grin; he leaned back against Jayne's desk and folded his arms again.
"Whisper ain't--ain't like no other," said an obviously struggling Jayne. "Gorrammit, Mal, I ain't ever... All's we done is talk and fight, I ain't even sexed her up none! I got me a powerful need to, lemme tell you, but there're other stuff too..."
"Why Jayne, are you admittin' you actually want a normal relationship?" remarked Mal with an ever growing grin.
"No!" said Jayne emphatically, finally rolling around to face Mal. Seeing that Mal hadn't bought the flimsy lie, Jayne looked down at his covers shyly. "All right, say that's so, that don't mean nothin' since I don't know how! Hell, we barely see each other!"
"So you're thinkin' if you were rich, you could settle down and show her a good time?" asked Mal, finally drawing the big picture.
"It's a thought," said Jayne defensively.
Mal unfolded his arms and leaned closer to Jayne, the smile all but gone from his face. "Jayne, let me give you some advice; retirement'll come when you're ready for it. You ain't ready, Jayne. I've known you some long years--longer than most I'm thinkin'. You get rich and you settle down now, with your booze and your whores--maybe not, maybe just the booze and Whisper--and you'll probably find yourself holed up in some lock down, ready to be shipped off to a penal moon after a tussle gone wrong. You ain't dumb; ain't no top three percent like the Doc, but you ain't dumb. You see that, and that's probably why you ain't fought harder'n you did when I said 'no.' Give it time, Jayne. Give Whisper a chance. She's good for you."
Jayne said nothing as he rolled back onto his pillow; his eyes were staring contemplatively up into the ceiling. Having said his piece, Mal made his way back to the ladder. He climbed up two rungs before he paused to inform his merc, "Was thinkin' 'bout puttin' in a stop at Three Hills on our way back in if you're interested?"
Leaving Jayne to stew over this thoughts, Mal continued his climb out the bunk.
"Ain't'cha feel strange pickin' bones when the owners are about?" said Kaylee into her hands-free com; she was squeezed between the very back of Hope's hull and the cylindrical starboard side engine. There were three positioned equidistantly in the engine room; two smaller ones at the port and starboard side, and a larger one equal to Serenity's right in the center.
"Not when the owner gave permission, no," replied Kyo from his position beneath the console of Hope's bridge.
"But what if they wanna travel?" asked Kaylee as she tugged on the large fasteners with her spanner. "They could use Hope."
"They don't know how to fly," said Kyo simply, picking through the systems that would be most valuable towards a new shuttle.
Kaylee grunted after loosening the fastener successfully. "You could teach 'em."
"They're not the type, Kaylee," said Kyo after a brief stretch of quiet. "They're not so much lookin' for home as they are wantin' to be there now. It'd be a waste; teach 'em to fly only to have 'em settle down on the first dustball they come across. We got better uses for this ship."
"But it's been five whole days since we picked 'em up and they haven't chose a place to settle," remarked Kaylee as she made her way over to a switchboard near the broad, double-door entrance of the engine room. "We should let 'em the chance to browse some 's'all."
"It's a complicated 'verse they've found themselves in," stated Kyo, extracting himself from under the console to toss the system in his hands into a nearby basket. "Can't expect 'em to untangle it in a couple of days. Gonna take months at the least, and a steadier foundation than Serenity to stand on."
"Aw, now see that I just don't agree with! What's not steady 'bout Serenity?" said Kaylee while she closed her tool box and clipped it onto the bandolier she wore.
"For us? Nothin'," shrugged Kyo. "But they ain't spacers, Kaylee. Hell, they've lived underground all their lives. Thinkin' they might like real fresh air and sunlight 'stead of some holographic illusion."
"Well, guess you got a point there," sighed Kaylee, resting the flat of her hand on a set of three switches. "I'm gonna shut off the gravity drive, now!"
"Copy," said Kyo, moving around to tether himself down to the floor of the bridge along with all his things. "All set."
"All set with the winch on Serenity, Kaylee," said Hex over the com.
"Comin' through!" said Kaylee as she flicked off the switches. There was a slight whine as the system powered down, and it only took three seconds for lack of gravity in space to lift up anything not strapped down. She reached out to grab a handlelike piece of the engine, and began to guide it out through the wide doors of the engine room.
Fenchurch sat quietly on the stairs of Serenity's cargo bay with Simon's encyclopedia in hand as Random and River played below--each with their own dinosaurs in hand, apparently in some elaborate chase sequence. Inara glided out of her shuttle to stand over the shoulder of the relatively young widow, keeping her gaze focused on the girls below.
"Random seems to have taken a liking to our River," commented Inara in practiced politeness, though with a truly fond smile as she observed them.
Fenchurch gasped in alarm and scrambled hurriedly up to her feet in the presence of Inara. The Companion couldn't help but take in the flustered appearance and aversion of eye-contact. That was much more than a simple startled reaction.
"My apologies," said Inara gently. "I didn't mean to startle."
"No, no!" said Fenchurch quickly with a nervous laugh. "I was just so engrossed with everything. Um, Random, yes! She, uh, has taken a liking to River. I'm glad she has a friend here; someone who can understand her. Lord knows Arthur and I had our troubles."
"Have you decided on a location?" inquired Inara, shifting smoothly over the subject of Fenchurch's deceased husband.
"No," admitted Fenchurch sadly, staring down at the still active pad. "It's all so overwhelming. So many cultures to learn--traditions, social roles, rules--I feel like I've become an anthropologist all of a sudden! The Rim is almost barbaric compared to what I'm used to, but the Core seems far too rigid and structured. I mean, I don't think I'm quite ready to be 'tagged and scanned' when I pass through every doorway."
"Perhaps one of the border worlds, like Persephone?" suggested Inara, leaning close as a test to her hypothesis. Sure enough, Fenchurch withdrew slightly away from Inara.
"Maybe, but those are still..." Fenchurch trailed off hopelessly.
"Not home?" finished Inara with an arch of her fine brow. Fenchurch nodded at Inara, gratitude and surprise written plainly on her face for the understanding.
"I'm sorry," apologized Fenchurch, looking embarassed for her reaction in Inara's presence. "I'm just not... It's just that... We don't have Companions on Earth. Just whores. I mean, I know you as a person, and you're not--a whore, but a Companion's just out of grasp."
"River, what have I told you 'bout runnin' 'round my gorram ship?" shouted Mal as he and Kyo heaved more blades of hull plating into the cargo bay. "You fall and shred yourselves on these things, I ain't pickin' up the pieces."
"I'll hose you off the deck, lai, no worries," said Kyo in a deadpan while he dusted off his hands.
"Don't worry yourself over it," said Inara in amusement to Fenchurch. "Even people here find the notion of a Companion out of their grasp." Inara's eyes darkened as she remembered what Kyo had told her in regards to Saffron. They were too far out for Inara to discuss anything with the Guild, but she wasn't quite sure that was a discussion she'd want to hear. Almost inaudibly she added, "Sometimes I'm not even sure."
Fenchurch leaned against the railing to support her as she sighed. "I just want to go home again, but that's not possible. I suppose that's fine since it wouldn't even be the same without everyone there."
Inara pursed her lips thoughtfully before laying a consoling hand on the woman's shoulder. "Maybe there's someway to compromise."
"Eden-Two?" blurted out Mal in the mess hall; his blue eyes raked over every inch of Inara's face to see if she were joking in the slightest. "'Nara, I ain't 'specially want--"
"They're from Earth, Mal," said Inara sharply, overriding any protests he might offer. "You heard Gabriel when we transported Mr. Collins to Wu Yo; Eden-Two's a perfect duplicate of Earth-that-was. If there's any place in this 'verse the Dents might find some ning-jing de qi suo-you, it's Eden-Two!"
Mal's jaw tensed visibly in the eyes of Inara. It was the way he set down the cup of cofee he'd gone to fetch for himself that put Inara on edge. The brief gaze towards an equally tense Kyo and Zoe didn't help the growing, disconcerted feeling that'd latched onto the back of her mind.
"What's wrong, Mal?" asked Inara a little more gently. She looked over to Kyo and addressed him when Mal's response was to avert his eyes, "What aren't you threetelling me?"
"How're we gonna contact Eden-Two, 'Nara?" Mal demanded to know.
"A broadwave!" said Inara, which only served to exacerbate the tense expressions on the Browncoats' faces. "A bulletin on the Cortex, then! You remember what Gabriel said about our open invitation. Why wouldn't they take in the Dents?"
"Gabriel's dead, Inara," Mal admitted finally, and so suddenly that Inara had to question whether Mal spoke those words at all. Inara looked around to Zoe and Kyo, who both wore expressions of mingled anger and sorrow. "So's Eli Collins, 'long with the good folk of Prospector's Hill on Wu Yo. Alliance bombed the town to ashes not long after we left the system."
"No..." was all Inara could manage.
"River tipped us off," said Kyo softly. "Checked it on the Cortex. We didn't want to worry any of you..."
"That's why we ain't gonna be callin'," said a very serious Mal.
Inara regained her previous composure at the stubbornness of Malcolm Reynolds. "So you'll condemn a family to suffer for the rest of their lives?"
"Ain't no sufferin'!" cried out Mal in surprise. "They're able-bodied folk! Should be able to stand on the Core, or a border world!"
"But they don't belong!" retorted Inara sharply, leaning over the counter to stare right into Mal's eyes. "They have centuries of information to catch up on, Mal, and no one to help them ease in, or any that may believe them!"
"What about Dr. Hikari and Simon's folks?" asked Mal, turning his attention towards Kyo.
"Haven't heard word for weeks," said Kyo with only a hint of worry. "They're still trying to find a stable base somewhere."
There was a triumphant raise of Inara's brow that just had Mal grinding his teeth. "Forget the Alliance trouble it might rain down on our necks, what makes you so sure they'll get the message?"
"Faith," said River from the forward corridor with Random standing behind, each holding onto their own toys. "Faith like her father."
Mal stared past River to Random and he could feel any iron resolve melt away. The man had asked whoever heard the message to care for his family; had sacrificed his own life so that they could live. Mal couldn't ignore that anymore than he could ignore the sacrifice Mr. Universe had made. He gave a jerky nod and marched to the flight deck.
With the help of River, he managed to at least encode the message somewhat before broadcasting his call for a meeting with an Eden-Two representative. Mal doubted the strength of their signal would even reach a civilized world of any kind, but River seemed all sorts of confident in the way she sat back within the copilot's chair.
"Keep an eye out for...well...anythin'," said Mal tensely to Kyo in the pilot's chair.
"Won't be long," said River loftily as she pointed out controls to the very inquisitive Random.
"Company," elaborated Kyo tightly, turning his chair to focus on long-range scanners. "Comin' in fast!"
"Alliance?" asked Mal worriedly, still hovering over Kyo's shoulder.
"Uh..." drawled Kyo uncertainly as the ship was too far out to get an accurate reading.
"No," said River quietly in her haunting way. "Reavers."
Mal looked to Kyo, then back to Zoe, and finally to Inara at River's proclaimation. Random frowned fearfully at the way everyone was acting and drew closer to River for comfort.
""Nara, get the the girl and her mother to your shuttle!" ordered Mal tightly. "See if you can't get Hex on the way. You might need to firepower if..."
"Mal," whispered Inara, but he ignored her with a sharp look to Zoe. She nodded at the silent order and began to lead Inara out of the flight deck. Sensing Mal wasn't going to spare any time with goodbyes that might not be needed, Inara beckoned to Random, "Come, mei-mei."
"I don't wanna!" cried out the girl, looking up at River.
"Need to stay," said River apologetically. "You need to go."
"Why?" demanded Random.
River simply picked up the T-Rex and showed it in front of Random. "Need to keep the monsters away. You need to keep everyone else safe."
With that, River left the toy dinosaurs in Random's hands and turned back around to the copilot's console.
"Reavers?" exclaimed a very scared and slightly perturbed Fenchurch. "What are Reavers? I haven't gotten to Reavers yet!"
"They're...bad," said Inara hesitantly, sparing Random a quick glance as the girl climbed into the shuttle.
"Jayne, get that gorram door closed!" shouted Mal over the intercom.
"What about the scratch?" grumbled Jayne as he shut the ramp door and then proceeded to shut the cargo bay doors. "We ain't leavin' all them Earth-that-was artifacts, are we?"
"Ain't got time to be arguin'!" snapped Mal. "You wanna stay and get raped, skinned, murdered and ate in any particular order, be my guest!"
Fenchurch stood frozen on the threshold of the shuttle. Inara winced, and gently tried to steer the woman into the shuttle. "They're very bad," Inara elaborated apologetically as the shocked woman shuffled into the shuttle.
Jonah Hex stormed up next, the jangle of his spurs giving away his presence. Inara looked at him over her shoulder, and her eyes fell specifically upon the snub-nose revolver he was currently checking.
"Isn't that a little...small to be effective?" inquired Inara concernedly.
"This isn't for the Reavers," said Hex ominously--the effect only enhanced by his scarred visage and shoulder-length hair. "This is for us if we get caught."
"Got the all clear from the cargo bay," said Kyo, curling his fingers around the control yoke of Serenity. "Detatchin' from Hope in three--two--one."
Serenity gave a slight shudder and drop as it pulled away from Hope's port; now missing a few engines along with hull plating around the cockpit. It turned around sharply, presenting its glowing main drive to Hope, while a decidedly uglier ship started to close in. That ship had a very long, narrow nose with five fins at the rear--three of which were welded sloppily onto the hull--and a very distressed hull covered with scoring.
"Why are Reavers out here in the first place?" asked Simon tenatively at the rear of the flight deck. "Miranda and Reaver territory are all the way on the other side of the galaxy."
"Well, it's to be expected," said Kyo tensely as he laid a course into the nav com. "We spent damn near a week sittin' in the middle of nowhere. Something's bound to come 'round and find you."
"'Sides, the Alliance's gone and done a thorough job," remarked Mal in dark admiration. "Reavers are all but extinct, and those that aren't have started to spread themselves out."
"Course set, Kaylee give me a full burn!" Kyo shouted over the intercom.
"Got it!" returned Kaylee over the com. Kyo hit the lever, and the rotating drive on Serenity's rear burst into a cloud of yellow and green as she hit full speed.
"What we got?" asked Mal tentatively; his left hand pressed hard against the console above, and his right hand dug deep into the cushion of Kyo's chair.
"We rabbitted pretty hard," reported Kyo. "But there's the notion of us with our big ass cotton tail in a wide field of black! Ain't no hidey-hole for us, Mal."
"What course did your set?" inquired Zoe from the third chair on the flight deck.
"Nearest planet is Whittier," said Kyo tightly without turning around. The air froze with tension, and Simon couldn't help but sneak a look back through the door to the engine room.
"You know they'll follow us there," said Zoe evenly.
"Well, if we keep pushin' like we are, we'll run out of fuel long 'fore we hit Whittier," said Kyo in a voice full of false cheerfulness. "They'll probably hit us while we try to refuel. That'd be a good time to launch the shuttle, but it wouldn't reach Whittier either."
"Tamade sui xiang-wei!" cursed Mal under his breath.
"Knights in tarnished armor," said River serenely from her copilot's chair.
Alarms rang on Serenity's console and Kyo turned his attention towards it. "Oh...shiny," he said defeatedly. "I'm reading an Alliance signature being bounced out; frigate from the general shape and size."
"Knew I shouldn't've sent that gorram message!" said Mal to himself.
"They after us or the Reavers?" asked Zoe.
"Doesn't matter, you need to get us out of here!" exclaimed Simon; his eyes falling onto River in the copilot's seat.
"See, here's where a fighter could come in handy," remarked Kyo to Mal, ignoring everyone else's overlapping sentences.
"You sold me already, now steer us clear!" a very tense Mal ordered.
"Hate to say, but that might not be happenin'," admitted Kyo, looking up at the screen above; both Serenity and Reaver ship were closing in rapidly on the Mauser. "Mauser's armin' her EMP, and she's gettin' to release her children."
"'Children?'" inquired Simon with a face that clearly read he didn't really want to know.
"Gunboats," said Mal over his shoulder. "They'll board us then drag us in once the pulse disables us."
"Is the EMP aimed at us or the Reavers?" was Zoe's amended question.
Kyo took a deep breath and threw open the door on his psychic abilities. Sweat slick fingers twisted around the yoke as a warm tingle spread from the back of his head outward over his mind. He knitted his brow and focused his concentration on the thoughts coming from the Mauser, which were no more than whispers in a very lively party. Like a lifeline, he tried to follow it back to the source, but the savagery of the Reavers were just too much.
"Can't," he breathed in exhaustion. A quick look to River showed she couldn't tell either. "When they fire you'll know."
Serenity kept on her course, which would take her just past Mauser. She was fearless in the face of a gunboat swarm, and the glowing blue cannon featured prominently on the underside of the frigate. All the while the Reaver ship clawed itself closer and closer to Serenity's tail. The gunboats spread out like a wide net to avoid the EMP pulse when it fired, and they would collapse upon the wounded vessel the moment it was tagged.
The blue beam cut through space once Serenity reached the point of no return--that being the point where Serenity could not safely avert course away from the EMP if it were aimed towards them. All the same, Kyo still yanked hard on the yoke to starboard. Serenity cleared the shot by a good distance, and it impacted cleanly into the Reaver ship. She continued past Mauser at full speed, and none of the gunboats even blinked.
"They--they were after the Reavers," said Kyo with a frown, not slowing down for anything.
"That doesn't make sense," commented Zoe with her arms crossed. "Why pulse the Reavers? Why not just blow them out of gorram space?"
"Not our concern," said Mal, reaching up to raise the intercom. "All clear, people. All clear."
An almost collective gasp of breath was released simultaneously at that announcement.
Two days later, Serenity received word from Eden-Two. Still on their way to Whittier, but at a much more conservative pace, they met up with a nondescript freighter that looked like something even the Reavers might ignore. It fit Eden-Two's profile so far as Mal knew. Gabriel had chosen their meeting point to be a rundown shanty on Prospector's Hill.
Jayne, Kyo, Mal and Zoe were all armed as they waited in the cargo bay. The salvage from Hope cluttered most of it, giving any invader plenty of cover for an assault, but there was still a good vantage point from the catwalks, which was where Jayne and Kyo were positioned. Mal, Zoe, Inara and River flanked Fenchurch and Random just beneath the Mule. Their chosen belongings were stacked neatly before them, though all Random could stare at was the black, mylar bag that held her father's body.
At the opening of the ramp door, Jayne cocked his shotgun and Kyo cocked his Peacemaker. Mal's hand fell to the grip of his pistol as he watched the tall, white-garbed man step through.
"Ni-hao, Captain Reynolds," said the handsome, blonde individual with radiant blue eyes. "My name is Michael. My apologies for the delay, we might've met sooner but it seems you made a promise to one of our representatives in a past life, and it's one he's not particularly anxious to see if you meant."
"I don't make promises I can't keep," said Mal, and after a beat he added, "Well, I do, but I try not to make a habit of it. I mean in my line of work--"
"I know, Captain Reynolds," smiled Michael politely, raising one hand to stem Mal's stumbling apologies. "We are aware of many things. Zhu-he on you and your crew's recent good fortunes, Captain. May you have many more. And you must be the survivors?"
"Fenchurch Dent," said Fenchurch in introduction. "And my daughter, Random. Is--is Eden-Two really...?"
"Yes," smiled Michael brightly. "A direct copy of Earth-that-was. You can live out your life in peace, on its surface no less, or explore it just as our ancestors had. You can make any life you desire."
"M-my husband..." gestured Fenchurch to the body enclosed in the bag.
"A shining example of humanity," said Michael beatifically. "He'll be known by all for the sacrifices he's made. We shall ensure he has a proper burial."
Fenchurch gave a watery nod and hugged Random closer to her side. She gave a grateful smile as Michael gestured back through the ramp.
"Thank you, Captain," said Fenchurch, grasping his hand tightly. "For everything."
"Weren't nothin'," said a somewhat uncomfortable Mal.
Fenchurch tugged at Random's hand, but Zoe took that moment to kneel by her side and place a hand on the girl's shoulder. In her other hand was a bag of all Wash's dinosaurs.
"Take this, sweetie," said Zoe, pressing it into Random's chest.
"Zoe..." gasped Fenchurch, knowing full well who had owned them.
"It's all right," said Zoe thickly; a sad smile tugging at her lips. "He'd want someone to use them and enjoy them. 'Sides, my man weren't that forgettable."
Random nodded, but first dug around the bag until she extraced a bright yellow and white pterodactyl. With an encouraging nod from River, Random offered that back to Zoe.
"Keep that one, it's special," whispered Random. Zoe took it and could only manage a nod in return. By the time that exchange was done, other members of Eden-Two had already whisked away the luggage and Arthur Dent's body. Random and Fenchurch waved their enthusiastic goodbyes from the door before stepping off Serenity.
"You don't seem too disappointed," commented Mal before Michael left.
"About what, Captain?" said Michael with a curious tilt of his head.
"Seems I recall you folks findin' Earth-that-was information to be mighty valuable," remarked Mal, tucking his thumbs into his gunbelt. "There's a whole ship back there that's either lost to Reavers or the Alliance. Should make you a mite miffed, I imagine."
"You delivered to us that which is most important, Captain," replied Michael, folding his hands behind his back again. "You gave us people--real people from Earth. People with stories to tell of the lost years. We have no use for trinkets or baubles, Captain." After a beat, Michael continued with a smile, "Besides, Mauser is still tied up with the Reavers. Apparently the Alliance wishes them to be captured alive. Why we have no idea, but the facts remain. We've sent our own team to retrieve the ship."
"Don't that mean we get some sorta compensation?" inquired Jayne; his shotgun still trained on Michael's head.
"I believe the term you use is...'finder's keeper's?'" asked Michael in amusement before he slipped through the door and closed it.
"Mal?" came Jayne's voice through the forward corridor. Mal paused on his way down to his bunk and stared at Jayne. "I--uh--well--um--we're headin' for Kaylee's folks, right?"
"That's the general notion," nodded Mal slowly. "Kaylee says her father's shop would be a perfect spot to assemble our new, fancy shuttle. We'll be sittin' planetside 'til they're done."
"I was thinkin'--ah--if we'll be sittin', I could take a transport to Three Hills," said Jayne, shuffling nervously from foot-to-foot. "Visit my Mom 'n' Mattie 'til y'all are done, like y'said."
Mal looked Jayne up and down for a moment before answering, "Don't see why not. Stay outta trouble, though! Won't be havin' none of us to bail you out if you need it."
"Sure, Mal!" agreed Jayne readily. "I ain't gonna make no trouble 'round my Mom! She'd tan my hide if that were so!"
Chuckling to himself, Mal continued his climb down the ladder and shut his bunk. He would've paid good money to see that, and almost considered going along with Jayne himself--but then he realized he'd be on a vacation of sorts with Jayne, and he weren't no babysitter.
Author's Notes, Justifications, and...well...Excuses:
So...this wrote itself alarmingly fast. Two days. Record of all the other episodes, I think. Obvious ties to Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the names Arthur Dent, Fenchurch, Random, Ford Prefect(ure), and the description of Hope, which is actually the description of the Heart of Gold. Even River's brief line about "improbable" is a slight reference to the Improbability Drive of the Heart of Gold. The Eagles reference is because they recorded the theme song (or, well, a version of it, I suppose...it wasn't used for all episodes). I chose Fenchurch cause, well, I like her more than Trillian to be honest. Mostly because I pity Arthur so much in the books. Yet here I am, killing him in my own story, haha.
I toyed with the idea of making Marvin the enemy, but the homicidal robot thing's been played to death.
Project Seeds is a Trigun reference to the similar Exodus...only without Knives sabotaging things apparently, haha.
One of those non-plot pieces with more character stuff than anything else. Addressing Zoe's loss of Wash in this was just a by-product of the story, but I kept that private cause Zoe's a very private person without Wash. Jayne also has some growing complexities thanks to women. Plus, I needed to get everyone back to civilization somehow, along with acquiring a new shuttle. Yes, most of my episodes are pre-planned. I do not make this up on the fly. Sometimes a plot is just born out of necessity.
We do see Mr. Khan again--who I sort of consider to be Mayor villain in Buffy (my all-time favorite season, I think). Obviously, this boy's just not what he seems to be.
The line about the Eden-Two representative refers to the Operative and his final lines with Mal, who we saw in Fathers and Sons.
For those wondering about what Kyo told Inara about Saffron, that'll be addressed in the next episode when they finally hit civilization. Also, you'll have Simon meeting the in-laws...always fun...along with yet another very minor character from Firefly that appeared in just one episode. Not a villain though, but he might become one to Simon. I'll be amazed if you guess what character.
Jayne (and Hex) will also be splitting up from Serenity while she's grounded and they'll have their own adventure. Whether that'll be enough to fill one whole episode, or if I'll have to intercut it with the as-yet-to-be-written episode eleven remains to be seen.
Truthfully, I didn't mean to set out and explore most of our BDHs' pasts. Things sorta grew organically in the grand scheme of things. I really doubt I'll get around to Inara's or Zoe's, however. Or Book's. There is a very, very slight chance I might do something with Wash. Very slight. Might not come until way later.
Sunday, April 02, 2006 3:40 AM
Sunday, April 02, 2006 5:08 AM
Sunday, April 02, 2006 6:18 AM
Sunday, April 02, 2006 7:17 AM
Sunday, April 02, 2006 7:57 AM
Sunday, April 02, 2006 1:49 PM
Sunday, April 02, 2006 4:02 PM
Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:29 PM
Friday, April 28, 2006 6:16 PM
Friday, April 28, 2006 11:47 PM
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.