Preacher's Prayer Ch 2
Tuesday, March 16, 2004

People from Book's past cause trouble for the crew.


Preacher's Prayer Ch. 2 Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me. Until Joss's movie comes out, I'm just entertaining myself and others.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Summary of ch. 1: Book, Wash, Inara, and Zoe have been taken by people after Book.

Mal crouched next to Simon. "Well, Doc?" Simon glanced at him, then at the man hovering a few yards a way with the large gun on his shoulder.

"There are no obvious injuries, Captain. I need to take her to the infirmary."

"If there's no injuries maybe she doesn't need to go?" Mal suggested with a hard look. He was desperately trying to let the boy know letting these psychotics on his ship was the absolute last thing he wanted to happen.

Simon shook his head. "No, there is something wrong, but it appears to be an aggravation of an older injury," he explained. "She is experiencing loss of sensation in one of her legs, but her pulse is fine. Also, she is experiencing some shock."

"Captain-dummy talk please?" Mal asked with a blank expression.

"Something is pressing on a nerve somewhere," Simon restated with a sigh.

Mal looked over at Nate, the apparent head of this group of kidnappers, vigilantes and psychos. The larger man was getting very restless and it was obvious from his demeanor that the outcome of Mayli's situation would have definite consequences for those he'd taken as hostages. Mal was not eager to have the man on his ship with a large number of armed men with him. "Fine, get Jayne to help you transport her."

"Well?" Nate asked as Mal approached him.

"The doctor thinks he can help her, but he needs to be back on the ship to do it."

"Let's go then." Mal put his hand on the other man's shoulder to stop him.

"Only you and one other can go to the ship with us. I'm not going to have you deciding that Justice needs my ship too." The taller man glared at Mal. His face gave Mal the impression that he was imagining several ways to kill him, but suddenly he gave a quirky smile that didn't reach his black eyes.

"Don't worry Captain, your ship is safe. Now let's get Mayli and the doctor where they need to be." Turning from the other man, Nate addressed the rest of his group. "Weera, you're with me. The rest of you head back to camp."

The walk to the ship was short, but Mal managed to drop in beside Kaylee and River. "Cap'n, what is it they think the Shepherd did?" Kaylee asked worriedly.

Mal gave her a one armed hug to reassure her. "I'm sure it's just a case of mistaken identity Lil' Kaylee."

"No mistake. Same person, different life. But life exists so it must be ended," River intoned as they walked. Mal glanced at the teen worriedly. The last thing they needed today was for the girl to have a fit around a bunch of twitchy, violent and armed men.

"Kaylee, you need to look after River. I'm going to try to make sure y'all get to stay on Serenity. Keep her calm and make sure the ship's ready to run, dong ma?"

"Yes Cap'n," Kaylee chirped certain that her captain could pull off another miracle even though they were badly outnumbered. Nate joined their little group and pushed Mal away from the girls.

"You stay with me. No need to have any conspiring going on," he ordered.

Mal rolled his eyes as they arrived at the ship. "I think you've got enough conspiracy to go around."

"Sure hope the good doctor gets that crazy woman in tip top health," Wash muttered as he and the other hostages wearily stumbled into the vigilantes' camp.

"The doctor's good at his job. I'm sure we have nothing to worry about," Inara soothed. Zoe just gave Inara a look.

"You mean nothing to worry about except the part where Book's mysterious past has us being held hostage and a trial on the morrow?" Wash snarked.

Inara maintained her composure in the face of Wash's sarcasm. "Book is always good at getting people to see reason, even Mal."

Zoe sat down beside a campfire as their "guide" indicated. "It's easy to get people who don't have a grudge to see reason. Seems to me that this woman at least is nursing a grudge and looking to see the preacher in a world of hurt," Zoe interjected.

Inara and Wash made themselves comfortable at the fire while Zoe took in the surrounding camp. It appeared to be well organized and the men were disciplined. Although they pushed and cursed, no hands had abused the preacher on the trip and as soon as they entered the campground, he had been marched off to a small tent that was closely guarded. She couldn't see any children, which argued against this location being a separate settlement. The number of arms readily available made her wonder why the neighboring town allowed a seemingly raider-like group to exist so close to it.

"Here's some chow. Help yourselves. Going to be a clear night, so you'll sleep by the fire," one of their escorts said. The man placed a pot of food on the fire in front of them and handed several cups to Zoe. "Oh, and before you start thinking of making a run for it, you should know that this place has some indigenous carnivore creatures that roam these woods. Settlement pays us to patrol and make sure none get overly bold, but I wouldn't go running about these parts unarmed."

"Would you tell us why you want the Shepherd to stand trial?" Inara inquired quickly before the man left. He just laughed.

"No sense in spoiling the surprise. Gonna be fun to see the looks on your all's faces," he replied with a head shake.

"Well, hopefully dinner is something other than protein cubes," Wash said hopefully. Zoe just handed him a cup and worried about what the morning would bring.


The man who had accompanied the group to the ship stayed in the cargo bay while Nate accompanied Mal and Simon to the infirmary. "I'll need to sedate her for the scan so she doesn't move. I'll let you know the results when I'm done," Simon stated, his intention to get the two men to leave the cramped confines of the sickbay so he could work.

"In a minute, Doc. You two mind waiting outside for a few minutes?" Nate said with the tone of an order rather than a suggestion. Mal nodded as he and Simon left the room.

In the corridor, Mal observed the two who had caused his crew so much grief on this day. By appearance alone they were a mismatched pair, what with the man's excessive height and muscular build – he towered over even Jayne. Next to him, Mayli seemed like an enlarged porcelain doll. But there was a hardness about both of them that indicated their lives had been full of trials. Mal had seen nothing to indicate that the smaller woman had any softness about her, but it was obvious that she was very important to her comrade. In a way, it reminded him of the side of Zoe that had been exposed by her relationship with Wash. Nate's rugged face lit up whenever he was talking to the younger woman. It was odd to see a man so obviously made for violence and war to be so caring and tender, but then it wasn't often that Mal saw his adversaries around their loved ones. Seeing that the dark-haired man could show kindness gave him hope that maybe they'd be able to reason their way out of this without too much bloodshed. Of course, that assumed that the woman, Mayli, listened to Nate's counsel.

"Simon, I'm sure I don't have to tell you how important it is that this goes smooth?" The doctor shook his head and started to talk. "Quiet now, just listen. While I'm not telling you to hurt her, it might make things a bit easier if she sleeps a good long while, dong ma?" The younger man just nodded as Nate exited the infirmary.

Nate scowled at the two men. "Whatever you two are thinking, scratch it. I want you to know Doctor, that whatever the result of your work is, I'll see to it that your captain is dealt the same hand. Now, Cap, how 'bouts you show me where we can get some coffee on this boat while we wait." Mal glanced at the doctor and gave him a nod before turning to lead the other to the galley.

Nate sat down at the table as he waited for Mal to prepare the drinks. Relaxing marginally, he ran his hands through his close-cut black hair as he made conversation. "You've got a fine ship here Captain. Can't say that I understand why you'd risk it for a non-essential crew member." Mal handed the other man his coffee and sat across from him.

"Were you in the war Nate?" Nate's square face closed down completely at the question. Mal finally spotted the cold hardness in his black eyes that matched the woman's. Maybe the pair was made for each other after all.

"That's neither here nor there Reynolds. War's over."

Mal nodded. "For some that's true enough. However, I had to leave far too many men on the battlefield to justify leaving anyone under my command behind ever again. An honorable man like yourself shouldn't have to have that 'splained to him, I'd think." Nate tightened his hands around his metal cup until the knuckles were white, ignoring the heat of the liquid inside. Guess honor is touchy subject among kidnappers and vigilantes, Mal thought to himself as he inwardly winced in sympathy for the other's fingers.. When Nate left the room without an answer, Mal went to look for Jayne. They needed to formulate some type of a plan that didn't include the mercenary going off half-cocked.


Nate stepped into the infirmary just as Simon had finished the necessary scans. "Well, Doc?" Simon jumped upon hearing the gunman's voice behind him. Gathering his professional demeanor, he turned to face his questioner.

"She has shrapnel in her back that appears to have been jarred free of the surrounding scar tissue. I'm going to need to operate to remove it," he informed the man. Nate didn't react in any way to the news. "May I ask why the shrapnel was never removed before now?" Simon asked with concern. There could be something about the case that he wasn't able to detect with Serenity's less than-stellar medical equipment

Nate moved to Mayli's side and took her limp hand. "Her homeworld was attacked by the Alliance for providing the Independents with supplies. The Independents eventually came and provided some help while getting new enlistments, but they didn't have enough med supplies to go around to those who weren't going to fight." Simon remained quiet as he watched the man stroke Mayli's hair. "She always said it tweren't nothing. Once it healed it didn't stop her from keeping up or doing her share, but from time to time, well let's just say her less than sunny disposition would get much worse."

Nate tenderly placed the woman's hand back on the gurney and gave Simon a measured look. "You fix this doc, you'll have my gratitude. I can't pay you and I can't do what I know you'll try to ask for, but once this ship leaves this rock, you ever need anything I'll do what I can." Before Simon could answer, he found himself just nodding to the man's back as he walked swiftly out of the infirmary.


Mal found Jayne in his bunk. Nate's man wasn't showing too much brilliance to just let the merc go off on his own. Mal was pleased to see that Jayne had used the time to collect every small, concealable weapon available in his arsenal. "You're not going to war without me are you?"

"Figured we could take 'em quick while there's only two of them as can fight."

Mal shook his head. "We'll take those weapons, but if we do anything against those three, we'll be killing the rest." Mal leaned against the ladder. "Besides, if we play along with this trial, we might finally get to know all the preacher's secrets."

Jayne started to smile at the thought, but it quickly turned into the usual puzzled expression that indicated the man was thinking something through for once. "But what if he turns out to be someone important and these loon-jobs say we were the ones that killed him?"

"That's a thought. Mayli and Nate don't strike me as the types to give others credit for their kills though."

"Walking into their camp full of armed men don't strike me as smart neither."

Mal sighed. "We'll play it by ear. I intend to get River and Kaylee left. Bring as many weapons as you can without drawing attention and try to find a time that you can arm Wash and Zoe."

Mal was climbing back up the ladder when Jayne spoke again. "Never figured I'd be this uneasy on the other side of a trial before." Mal shook his head and grinned. Honestly, he never thought he'd see Jayne on this side of a trial at all, he thought with a chuckle.

*** TBC in Chapter 3


Tuesday, March 16, 2004 1:46 PM


Oooh this is so good, I am really enjoying it. Makes me wonder what in the *diyu* Book did that makes his executioners so reluctant to spoil the surprise by telling our heroes what it was. Can't wait for the next part, very shiny. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, March 16, 2004 7:41 PM


the anonymous post is me...sorry, got logged out and didn't realize it till later.


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