GENIUS SERIES: 29. "Higher Power"
Friday, April 14, 2006

"With ship and crew in dire straits the Captain comes up with a plan and takes the initiative."



SUMMARY: "With ship and crew in dire straits the Captain comes up with a plan and takes back the initiative." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Gabriel Tam stood for a long time on the bridge of the stealth ship ignoring the stunned look on his navigator's face when the bottom section opened and a fleet of ugly twisted ships tore out and parted to fly off in different directions like burning pieces of shrapnel, the loss of core containment making them look as if they were on fire. The man knew most of the ship's systems but this section had always been cloaked in the deepest secrecy. Now he knew why. What he had long regarded as myth was revealed as fact. He did not dare to look at Gabriel Tam, for the man had unleashed the ultimate dogs of war.

A smug look settling on his face, Gabriel settled in to wait. However long it took to sniff his daughter out he was sure of one thing, he would find her. And when he did those meddlesome *tamade hundan* who had been sheltering her would learn the true meaning of agony and dispair one second before their pitiful lives ended. It was the least he could do.

* * * * *

Thadius kept his conversation with the Captain non verbal, not wanting any of the crew to step back into the infirmary and overhear them. Oddly enough Mal felt little surprise at being able to not only cast his thoughts so Thadius could hear him but to hear the man's replies. *Guess I have you to thank for that little gift, dui?*

He felt the smile in Thadius Clay's mind and was all manner of joyful about it. The weirdness of it all faded into insignificance given what they were up against. All the Captain's concentration now on the battle before them. *Bu qu, my friend*

*The Reavers are really upon us, huh?*

*They are*

Mal thought about that, cursing the fact that he was on his back and hooked up to enough wires and such to make moving more than a little difficult. Knowing his frustration, Thadius smiled and tapped his IV line. *You don't need these now*

*Then help me get rid of them*

*Simon will be mad at you, you know that don't you?*

*Who's the gorram Cap'n?*

Thadius chuckled lightly and carefully detached the Captain from the monitors, wires and tubes. Mal sensed his worry and tried to reassure him.

*I know what I'm doin' Thadius an' I can't make any gorram decisions flat on my back. Think you can help get me to the bridge of my boat?"

*You'll get there even if I have to carry you on my back*

The Captain paused, memories assailing him from the War. Thoughts of Tracey mailing his gorram body to him in a rutting box. That stupid message playing and leaving an echo of sadness behind like a bitter aftertaste in his mouth. As much a *baichi* as Tracey had been, the man was a friend. Shouldn't have had to die like that even if he was only carrying the bullet. It was still death by his hand and sometimes the memory of it hurt him. Thadius did not intrude on his thoughts and the Captain was all manner of grateful. As he tried to sit, Ruben and Carl came hurrying into the infirmary an ansty Jayne Cobb snapping at their heels. That alone told Mal it was bad.

Jayne paused when he realised the Captain was trying to get up. "What in *diyu* ya doin'? Cap can't fight."

If he hadn't been feeling light headed Mal would have shaken his head. "Ain't fixin' on fightin, Jayne. Quit your jawin' an' help me get to the bridge."

"What ya gonna do? Yell at 'em? They's Reavers Mal, ain't gonna kow-tow to no Captain-y talk. On'y thing they understand is violence an' death."

The Captain grunted and Thadius eased him upright, Ruben and Carl helping to take his weight. Giving an exasperated sigh, Jayne stepped up and berated them for having the Captain on his feet. Way they were going about it they'd just undo all the doc's hard work and Mal had lost enough blood for one lifetime. Thadius watched and listened in quiet amusement as the mercenary made them lay the man down so they could carry him. As they got to the bridge, Inara turned her shocked face from the hellish scene outside to berate them. She barely got her mouth open before River joined them and told Inara the Captain knew best. That drew more than a couple of stunned looks.

Kaylee put a hand over her mouth, her wide eyes fearful. Simon was torn between wanting to comfort her, wanting to fight off the Reavers, and wanting to knock some sense into their *baichi* Captain.

*Set me in a chair so I can see, Thadius*

Thadius, Ruben and Carl convinced Jayne to sit the Captain in the co-pilot's seat. Mal was panting and his face was damp with sweat but he wasn't about to give in. Simon looked apalled. "What the *guai* do you think you're going to do? You can't even stand!" "*Xie xie*, Simon, really appreciate that vote of confidence."

"Simon's right, Mal..."

"Inara, *qing*, ain't got time for this."

"What do you think you can do, sir?" Said Zoe, her respect for her friend just a mite bigger than her frustration at his stubborn refusal to let someone else do the thinking on his boat. "Another couple of minutes an' we'll be over run."

"No we won't."

Every pair of eyes fastened on his. River was smiling.


"Yes, Cap'n?"

He huffed in some more air, anything to make it easier to talk for longer. "Need you in the engine room, *mashang*. Get her fired up double-quick."

Simon raised his eyebrows but Kaylee just nodded, complete faith in her Captain. He watched her run off to do as she was asked, curious despite his reservations. The Captain ignored him, his eyes moving to meet Zoe's. "Need to turn this boat around."


"Not askin' you to take off, Zoe. Just turn her around, *dong ma*?" It was clear that Zoe didn't understand but River did. "I'll do it!"

He would have smiled but Mal was so gorram tired. He blinked at her and River flicked through the switches, pleased when she warmed up almost instantly. Kaylee was on the ball and Serenity was more than ready. The Reavers were almost upon them, no more than yards from the ship. They hesitated as the ship began to turn then as they completed a one eighty the Captain yelled into the com. "Kaylee, go to full burn!"

His mechanic hesitated, sure she had misheard the Captain. "*Shenme*? You know what full burn'll do with us on the ground?"

"Not got time to argue, *dong ma*? Just do it, NOW!"

There was a loud roaring sound as the Firefly went to full burn, the exhaust igniting in the confined space of the underground hangar increasing the sudden surge and flare of heat that belched out of the back end of the ship, her twin engines setting alight to the swarming Reavers. Inhuman cries from once human lips, torn from agonised throats morphing into screams that bled melting skin and bone. The snap and hiss of igniting bodies, the pop of burning body fat, the sound of roaring fire sweeping everything before it to a burnt crisp was horrific and rivetting. No one could look away from a scene more reminiscent of Dante's Inferno than the formerly quiet backwater planet of Haven.

To Malcolm Reynolds it was fitting that the place where his friend Book had died was where their ghastly host met their end. Had a kind of poetry to it.

Seconds passed in stunned silence as the fire slowly died out, the engines shutting down, their job done. Inara looked as if she could not believe they were still alive and that the death and destruction was on the outside of the ship.

"Huh!" Said the Captain in a non-impressed tone of voice.

A joyful and much relieved Jayne Cobb stared at him as if he was mad. "What the gorram is wrong with ya? We won, didn't we?"

The Captain sighed, trying to resist the seductive urge to pass out. "Thought they would'a made a bigger gorram bonfire is all."

"Some folk is never satisfied." The mercenary grumbled but he wasn't cross, far from it. Escaping certain doom always gave him something of a high.

Everyone but the Captain was smiling now. Simon cocked his head at Mal. "I would have thought you would be happier, Captain. Your plan worked."

Instead of answering Simon he opened the com to the engine room. "Kaylee?"

"Yes, Cap'n?"

"How much fuel we got?"

There was a longish silence before the mechanic responded. "That burn kind'a used up the last of the fuel, Cap'n." Horrified, Jayne glared at Mal. "Ya *chunren* sumbitch! Now what we gonna do? We're stuck on this gorram rock!"

Zoe was watching the Captain, noticed he didn't look too worried about that fact. "Sir?"

"We ain't stuck Jayne, just looks that way."

"Then this is all part of the plan?" Asked a confused Simon.

"'Stead of talkin' 'bout what we don't got, let's talk about what we do got."

"Yeah, 'cause dyin' slowly of starvation is hi-larious."

"Jayne!" Zoe warned. He clamped his mouth shut but didn't wipe the unhappy off his face.

The Captain exchanged an amused look with River, he might have known his little albatross had caught on to his thinking. "We ain't got no fuel left but there's a ship out there that has."

Inara paled. "Mal, we can't fly the Reaver ship!"

Zoe was watching the Captain thoughtfully. "Don't think that's what the Cap'n has in mind."

Thadius Clay listened to the to and fro of conversation, his mind sailing thoughts not always put into words. Sometimes what was said could never match actions but he liked Zoe's mindset. Stubborn and unyielding yet pliable enough to be able to adapt as circumstances changed. A fluid mind was a thing of beauty and to see the familiarity of the Captain's mind echoed in Zoe's was as welcome as it was comforting. He waited for the Captain to finish outlining his plan, enjoying the anticipation of the crew's reactions.

"We're just gonna take the fuel from the Reaver ship an' put in it Serenity."

There followed a moment of stunned silence. Jayne stared at the Captain then turned an accusing eye on Simon Tam. "How much gorram medication did ya give him?"

Malcolm Reynolds was visibly flagging. Unobtrusively Thadius stayed close, giving subtle support when the man sagged knowing the Captain would hate appearing weak. The doctor's lipped compressed into a thin line. Unamused.

"Not enough apparently."

* * * * *

Gabriel Tam was getting mighty impatient. They should have had some news by now. He began to pace while pretending he wasn't. Mr Smith and Mr Brown did not stir, their expressionless faces giving away none of their thoughts. Gabriel checked the time again and came to a decision. "We'll have to monitor the groups one by one. Perhaps something has happened?"

Mr Smith gave him a look he could not fathom. There were times when it sucked not to be a Reader. "If you do that anyone monitoring transmissions will realise what is going on."

His lips pulled back just short of an angry snarl. "*Wode ma* I don't care a good gorram who knows what just so long as I get that ship!"

* * * * *

The Captain was unaware he had lost consciousness, Simon half tempted to leave him where he was as a kind of punishment only knowing what a *wangu baichi* Mal was he would miss the subtle censure it implied. Jayne watched Thadius and Carl take the Captain back to the infirmary, Ruben and Helen remaining on the bridge and staring out of the front screen at the blackened underground hangar as if still in shock. River tilted her head. When she looked up there was satisfaction in her eyes. "Ship's empty."

"River," Said Zoe carefully. "We can't know that for sure. There has to be someone on board if only a pilot."

The girl shook her head. "*Bushi*. Once they landed all they were thinking about was killing. Anticipating fresh meat and the lure of blood. They didn't know their food would fight back."

Not quite sure she could afford to just take River's words at face value Zoe hesitated. River smiled at her.

"You know I'm right. It's safe."

Ruben turned from the window and nodded. "The Reavers are dead but we should move now before more come."

Simon's eyes widened in consternation. "More?"

It was a grease smudged Kaylee tripping excitedly on to the bridge that brought a lull to the disturbing turn in conversation. "Did it work? Tell me it did."

Despite how worried he felt Simon smiled and without thinking reached a hand out to Kaylee. Relieved and happy, the mechanic took his hand and beamed at everyone. Only as her eyes drifted to the window did the happiness on her face vanish. All them bodies burnt to a crisp. In death they looked like anyone else, especially with the immolation giving each body annonymity. "They're all dead?"

"Better them than us." Growled Jayne in a subdued voice, his hands gripping Vera a mite more tightly than was necessary.

"They were people once." River admonished, her voice sad.. "Like us but they forgot. All the checks and balances gone, no moral compass." She paused. "Fertiliser now."

* * * * *

In the end Jayne went with Kaylee to run a line to the Reaver ship so they could refuel Serenity. Zoe took up a covering position just in case. No matter what the Readers said she was taking no chances that any of the Reavers had escaped the destruction even though nothing stirred.

Thadius watched the Captain sleep, knowing it would be time to move again soon. Carl left him in the infirmary with Mal and went to check on the others. Thadius settled in a chair next to where the Captain lay, a little smile of apology on his lips for hooking Mal back up to the monitors and IV lines. He knew in a few hours time the man would be back on his feet again and less groggy. Recovery a lot faster if he got a few hours of complete rest now. As for Mal he was dreaming. At least he thought he was. A disembodied voice sending a shiver down his spine.


The Captain's eyes sprang open. The fuzzy cloud of disorientation parting in a moment of painful clarity. "*Shenme*?"

"Malcolm." The voice continued, this time more insistently. "Listen!"

Mal blinked. Half tempted, half in awe at what he was seeing. "Am I dreamin'?"

"Not in the orthodox sense."

A pause. The Captain lived in a place where confusion reigned, it was the only explanation. "Huh, must'a died an' gone to one of them Special Hells."

He could almost feel the heat licking at his body only it wasn't from the flames of *diyu* but the warmth of a smile too long missed. "*Bu qu*, Captain, you are quite alive but your remaining so depends upon what you do next."

"This a quiz? 'Cause unless you're truly not comprehendin' my predicament I ain't exactly goin' nowhere, *dong ma*?"

The rich deep laughter was quiet, subdued, and too brief for Mal's liking. He would have enjoyed basking in it for a good long while yet. Years, preferrably. "You have to warn them." Said Book in a solemn voice, his eyes hardening as if to impress on the Captain that this was serious.

"What makes you think I can do a gorram thing, you bein' dead an' all?"

"You are the Captain."

It should have sounded stupid only it didn't. Weariness tugged on the Captain and he snorted softly. "Why would they listen to me? I'm shot up, barely conscious. They'll think I'm ruttin' hallucinatin'."

"And since when has that stopped you from doing anything you set your mind to?"

The Captain fell silent, thinking it over. Book's voice softened a little.

"It doesn't matter, Malcolm. Saving the others is *all* that matters."

The words penetrated the thickening fog in the Captain's mind, his eyes so gorram heavy it was like lead weights had been welded to them. By force of will alone he sought to push back the deepening darkness holding his soul hostage. "You gotta plan, Shepherd, better spit it out. Preferrably while I'm still able to hear it."

The last thing Malcolm Reynolds remembered was the sound of Shepherd Book's laughter ringing in his ears.

* * * * *

One by one the Reaver ships returned to base. The bottom section of the stealth vessel opening to swallow them into it's great maw. The ship not yet cloaking, waiting for one last ship to complete the tally. It never came. Gabriel Tam's eyes glittered. Snapping out commands he had the missing ship's trajectory retraced, his heartbeat quickening as the advanced systems revealed a planet that was a little far out for the purposes of a search and thought to be too barren and dead to be a possible hideaway. Then Gabriel Tam remembered something and felt his dark spirits rise. Haven. Of course. This place had sheltered that *lese* ship and crew once before and the cost of that hand of friendship had been a harsh death sentence for everyone on that planet.

Who would think to look for the living hiding out among the dead? But that still did not explain what had happened to his ship full of Reavers. Mr Brown turned wide pitiless eyes on Gabriel Tam. His voice lacking in any trace of emotion. "You should not underestimate them."

"And they should not underestimate me! My daughter is on that ship and I *will* reclaim what is mine."

No one spoke, they didn't have to. The light of madness was shining in Gabriel Tam's eyes, his whole concentration now upon finding River and punishing those who had the temerity to keep her from him.

* * * * *

Kaylee couldn't understand why Simon was so jumpy. "It worked, Simon. Why ain't ya happy? Refuelin's almost done an' once it's finished Jayne'll detach the fuel line an' close off the port so we can lift off."

The doctor watched Kaylee fussing over Serenity's engine, unable to put his finger on what was wrong. Truth to tell he hadn't thought the Captain's plan would work. Using Serenity's unique ability to toast the Reavers then having the audacity to take the fuel from the Reaver ship to replenish their own showed a level of lateral thinking he could only admire. No, it wasn't the clever plan that troubled him nor the last minute escape from the jaws of death that this crew seemed to excel in pulling off. It was some other unnamed worry inching its' way under his skin and filling him with a presentiment of impending doom.

It had taken just over three hours to siphon off the fuel they needed and they hadn't taken it all. The Reaver ship was bigger than Serenity with tanks to match. Kaylee had commented that it was just under a quarter full, what in most ships would be the reserve. The time taken to get the fuel having been hampered by Kaylee and Jayne having to wear EVA suits because of the poor containment on the Reaver vessel. Zoe had decontaminated the suits while they were still wearing them before she would let either of them back aboard Serenity. So Kaylee could not understand Simon's reluctance to rejoice at their achievement. Seeing her face fall he felt a stab of guilt but Simon was a poor liar. He squeezed her hand in apology.

"*Duibuqi*, Kaylee. Something just feels off."

Kaylee frowned. Too used to River to dismiss his concern out of hand. Happy that the engine was okay she turned all her attention on Simon, not that it was a chore. He was after all her most favourite thing in the 'verse. Next to Serenity. But Simon didn't have to know he came second to a gorram ship. "What d'ya mean off?"

"*Wo bu zhidao*, it just seems too easy." He shrugged.

The mechanic's eyes widened. "*Rongyi*? We on'y bested 'em by the skin of our teeth an' on'y 'cause the Cap'n woke up enough to come up with a plan. I don't call that easy an' gettin' that fuel was risky too. Wouldn't'a been able to do it without them suits neither."

"Kaylee, *bao bei*, I'm sorry - I didn't mean anything by it but..."

When his words trailed off she stared at him, her anger cooling again. She never could stay mad at Simon. "You still think it was too easy?"

Simon just nodded then tugged her hand to pull her close enough to hug. Any residue of annoyance she felt just melted away at the feel of his arms around her. Kaylee sighed and hoped he was wrong. The last thing they needed right now was any more complications.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *diu* = correct *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *baichi* = idiot *diyu* = hell *guai* = devil/ghost *duibuqi* = sorry *qing* = please *mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately/quickly *dong ma* = understand? *shenme* = what *chunren* = fool/jerk *wode ma* = mother of God *wangu* = stubborn *bushi* = not so *lese* = crappy *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *bao bei* = precious/treasure *rongyi* = easy *xie xie* = thanks


Friday, April 14, 2006 5:57 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER ain't "The A-Team" but the plan certainly came together;)

Really liked how you had Mal risk his own ass to be on the bridge for the defence against the Reavers...very in-character. Also, liked the exchange between Simon and Kaylee at the end...really want these two get back together, but I am not holding much hope without some serious angst in the middle:)


Friday, April 14, 2006 8:01 PM


Excellent chapter!

So Gabriel is behind the creepy! And he wants River back but not Simon? Does he not know Simon is with them?

Oh, good, now Simon and Kaylee are alone....please tell me they'll get more than a few minutes to 'reacquaint' themselves with one another...? :)

Friday, April 14, 2006 9:57 PM


Leiasky, not sure why you persist in believing Gabriel would know Simon is still alive. Remember back to the airport way back when Simon was trying to escape and switched clothes with the guy in the toilets. It was Gabriel's thugs that killed him hence the attention switching to finding River. Gabriel believing he's the only sibling left, the only one with the crucial DNA.
- Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, April 14, 2006 10:17 PM


Another great instalment Alison. You write so well, as I read I get the pictures in my mind, just like I was watyching it on TV. Sorry, that sounds a bit pathetic, but I hope you know what I mean.

And I just love your descriptions..

"He clamped his mouth shut but didn't wipe the unhappy off his face."

And how great to hear Book again.

Looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, April 15, 2006 2:14 AM


Great retribution for the Reavers and using their fuel is a stroke of Genius! Both yours and Mal's.

Wonderful stuff and as usual I can't wait for more.

Saturday, April 15, 2006 4:54 AM


>Leiasky, not sure why you persist in believing Gabriel would know Simon is still alive.

I would have thought Gabriel could feel his son :)

Boy, its going to be a shock when he does find out...heee! Can't wait!

Post more soon. I'm definitely hooked on the story:)

Give S/K some happy private time before you split 'em up again pleaseeeee - because I just have this sinking feeling that you plan to do just that!

Saturday, April 15, 2006 4:56 AM


Hi Leiasky, Gabriel Tam is *not* a Reader, Regan was. That was why he married her, all part of his grand scheme. Thanks to everybody for the kind comments, much appreciated. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, November 4, 2011 7:46 PM


Shiny!! The Reavers are scary O.o.
He was after all her most favourite thing in the 'verse. Next to Serenity. But Simon didn't have to know he came second to a gorram ship.
^^^^ hehehe I loved this part!!!!! So true to Kaylees character!!!<3


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.