GENIUS SERIES: 33. "Returning"
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Coming home isn't quite as problem free as Sernity's reunited crew had hoped or is it? Time for everyone to count their blessings."



SUMMARY: "Coming home isn't quite as problem free as Serenity's reunited crew had hoped or is it? Time for everyone to count their blessings." 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

* * * *

Swearing and worrying Mal got to his feet, adrenaline pumping energy into muscles that had rested too long. The sluggishness and the pain pushed to the back of his mind at the thought that his ship or crew could be in danger. Looking down through the front window he could see Serenity on the ground, her cargo bay door firmly closed, but the ship surrounded by ten or fifteen men. All armed and all looking a mite pissed off. *Wode ma*, would they never get a break? Then he got a look at the head man, noting he looked a mite familiar. Before he could tell Thadius to land nearby the man was doing it. Simon came up behind the Captain, his eyes widening in shock.

"What's going on?"

"*Wo bu zhidao* but I aim to find out."

Simon stared at him. "You're not going out there? Anything could happen!"

A grim look settled over the Captain's face. Simon had seen it often enough to know the stubborn man was not likely to listen but he had to try. "Captain, it would foolish to go out there not knowing what you're walking into."

Thadius Clay finished shutting the engine down now that they had landed. "I'll go with him."

"So will I," Said Ruben.

One by one all the Readers stated their intention to go. Feeling as if he was being ganged up on, Simon shrugged. "Oh well if the peanut gallery is going I might as well go too."

Hiding a smug little smirk, the Captain checked his gun then resettled it in his holster. Didn't want any gun play unless it couldn't be avoided but a man had to be prepared. Had seen enough gorram blood to last him a lifetime. Michael slapped the door release then they were walking down the shiny chrome ramp. If Jayne had been with them he could'a trimmed his goatie in his reflection it was that polished. The man in the front of the group of armed men surrounding the Firefly turned and aimed his gun at Mal, his men following suit. The Captain didn't move to touch his gun but kept his hands out to the sides so everyone could see them. More folk died from stupidity than gunfights in any case. He didn't want to alter them odds.

"You lookin' for me?"

The man blinked then scowled. "Malcolm Reynolds?"

The Captain was giving him an intent look, something was sure familiar about the man. Besides the pissed expression on his face. "That's me, I'm Cap'n of this boat an' have to say I don't much care for folk comin' to see me with guns drawn."

"You left us swingin'."

"*Shenme*? What you talkin' 'bout? I didn't leave you nowhere."

"We had an agreement, Cap'n. Got no words to tell you how mad as hell I am, me an' mine kickin' our heels while day by day our profit goes south."

Something clicked in the Captain's weary and bruised brain. "Wally?"

"One an' the same."

"*Duibuqi*, didn't mean to not make our rendezvous. Kind'a got sidetracked our own selves, barely made it here."

Wally had already noted the state of the Captain and his anger cooled a little. "Thought you were tryin' to renage on a deal."

"I'm too poor to bite the hand that feeds me. Least, the hand I *hope* is gonna feed me."

A little smile flashed across Wally's stone face. He took a long critical look at the Captain and those with him, noticing the bloody and ripped clothing and how close to dropping they all looked. Not a one of them had a guilty look in their eyes. Curiosity now got the better of him as he holstered his gun. His men followed suit but more slowly. "What in the nine hells happened to you?"

* * * * *

Malcolm Reynolds would long savour the looks of relief and welcome on the faces of his crew. Kaylee squealed with delight as she ran to give the Captain a quick embrace before wrapping herself around Simon in a death grip, face buried in his chest and crying so hard that the poor man could only hold on tight and whisper gently in her ear. Wally and his men looked more than a mite amused at the exhuberant reception, more determined than ever to hear the story behind it. *Wode ma*, man owed him that much at least for the money he'd lost waiting for a transport that never came while around him his perishables were - well, perishing. Not nobody in the 'verse wanting to buy rotting crops.

As weary as he was, the Captain took the time to speak to each of his crew. A word or two here, a smile, a nod, a hand on a shoulder, even a chuckle or two. Wally watched the interaction and felt himself relax recognising good people when he saw them. Then Inara was waving everybody inside, Zoe checking the Captain out her own self before shutting up the cargo bay doors. She wasn't too sure whether letting all those armed men on to the ship was a wise thing to do but the Captain was still in charge of his boat and she would shoot anyone who said otherwise.

Mal winced as he made his way to the commons room, his crew talking ten to the dozen and over the top of each other in their hurry to know every last detail of what had happened. He was too tired to talk, left the tale of thrilling heroics to Simon and the Readers. The thought brought a little smile to his lips. Huh. Guess he should include the doctor as well as his sister in that grouping. Inara saw his smile and linked her arm in his, concerned that he would collapse before he made it to his chair. He caught her look. "*Shenme*?"

"You're smiling."

His eyebrows disappeared into his fringe. "What? I ain't allowed to smile on my own boat? Gorrammit woman you're one exactin' hellion."

Inara laughed, she couldn't help herself. Once again the frustrating but adorable man had surprised her. Not that she would ever admit to him being adorable. "Hellion?" She could honestly say no one had ever called her that before.

"What? You think I don't know what it means?"

"I'm hardly a child, Mal."

His lips quirked in humour. "But you are troublesome an' mischievous, not to mention your diabolical conduct. I'm thinkin' I should should keep a close eye on you."

Startled that he indeed did know exactly what the word meant she was intrigued by his threat to keep an eye on her. "How close is close?" They had been leaning in towards each other as they spoke, the inches between them closing as if they were a pair of magnets. Each drawn irresistably towards the other. Mal's voice was getting softer, lower. Inara could feel her heart beating faster, the race of anticipation quickening the blood in her veins. "Let me know when I'm too close." Mal murmured. The Companion did not say a word, not even when the Captain closed the distance to kiss those lush cherry lips with his own.

It was Simon who parted them, albeit apologetically. He thought the Captain looked a bit dazed. There was a flicker of irritation on Inara's face but it vanished as soon as the doctor explained. "*Duibuqi*, I need to check the Captain's wound."

Inara felt guilty for forgetting. She had been so relieved to see them return alive and in one piece. For one horrific moment she imagined that the blood splattered on the Captain's clothes was his own. It helped that Simon was so calm and matter of fact, Kaylee taking her arm and reassuring her that it was just a precaution. Inara missed much of what the mechanic said, her eyes taking in the sheen on the Captain's face, the weariness he could not quite hide now that she was looking for it, the way he favoured his right side as Simon accompanied him out of the room. She wanted to follow them into the infirmary but Kaylee steered her towards the kitchen. "Let's have ourselves a nice mug of tea, 'Nara. 'Fore ya know it, Simon'll be finished with the Cap'n an' ya can get back to seducin' him."

The last sentence penetrated with a little shock. She stared at Kaylee. "I was not seducing him!"

Mischief danced in Kaylee's eyes. "Oh, then that was...?"

No, that was not a hint of a blush on the Companion's cheeks. "I was just pleased to see Mal back, to see everybody back." She quickly amended.

But her words did not belie her intent and both knew it, the warmth of Kaylee's grin was like a sun going nova. The pleasure of it bright enough to burn. "Then it ain't just him?"

Inara tried for confusion. "*Shenme*?"

"It's been obvious for a while to them with eyes to see that the Cap'n loves ya somethin' fierce. Good to know it ain't just him."

The Companion blinked, her composure wavering. "I do care for him, I care for all of you Kaylee."

"Yeah but ya don't try to suck the life out of our faces, 'Nara." Inara flushed. "*Fang xin*, we all think it's shiny."

A look of horror stole over Inara Serra's face as she realised everyone had seen her and Mal kissing. It had been such a spontaneous instinctive thing to do, both temporarily forgetting they had an audience. Eyes only for each other. Lips too, it seemed. Mentally she groaned at her brief loss of control but Inara had missed the Captain and seeing him alive and back in one piece had driven all other thoughts and considerations out of her mind.

Kaylee dropped the teasing though her eyes were laughing affectionately at her friend, the commons area chock full of folk with the noise of animated talking and banter a kind of music to their ears. Inara wished she had slipped away to her shuttle but Kaylee didn't want the Companion hiding herself away. Not just yet. And if she knew the Captain he would be making his way back to the commons room as soon as Simon gave him the all clear. After all, the crew wanted to know everything that had happened plus there was a job to discuss. Kaylee glanced at Wally and his men, pleased to see them lounging in chairs around the table and talking with the crew. Zoe remained standing, looking all casual like but Kaylee knew she was keeping an eye on all their 'guests' just in case. Jayne sprawled in a chair across from her, firing questions at Wally as crew and guests tucked into some pretty dull fare. No one had ever said that protein was fun to eat. It helped to fuel the body, nothing more.

Coming in on the end of something Wally said to Jayne, Kaylee felt her ears prick up. "So this cargo of yours is perishable, *dui*?"

Wally nodded, pulling a face as he finished off his protein. Afterwards he stared at his empty plate as if hardly able to believe he had actually eaten that *goushi*. It made him more certain than ever that the deal he wanted to make with Captain Reynolds would go through without any more hitches. "Yeah. Better than what we been eatin'."

"Huh," Said Jayne with a little unimpressed huff. "That ain't hard."

Inara smiled as Kaylee's eyes widened with hope. "Ya mean like REAL food? Fruit, vegetables an' such?"

The man laughed, eyes crinkling at the corners at the mechanic's enthusiasm. "More than ya can eat in a month of Sundays." He boasted. Jayne frowned. "*Diyu*, why would anyone wanna on'y eat on Sundays?"

The men laughed, Inara smiled and sipped her tea. The conversation sparking back and forth, the atmosphere round the table relaxed and friendly. By the time the Captain and Simon rejoined them, it felt as if the two crews had known each other for ages. It was a right comfortable feeling that Zoe welcomed but was wary of. Some hard lessons made a body more cautious. Her face smiled, chipping in with the occasional contribution, but her eyes stayed watchful. River turned and caught her eye.

"Sometimes it is what it is."

Zoe frowned. "What is?"

River smiled. "War's over but not ready to lay down arms."

Zoe's frown deepened but the Captain spoke before she could demand to know what the girl was talking about. Simon stood behind Kaylee's chair, all the other seats being occupied and put his hands on her shoulders. Deliriously happy, the mechanic covered one of his hands with her own, her heart too full with an overflow of happy. The Captain cleared his throat, all conversation draining away as every eye turned to him. "Seems we got some unfinished business with you, Wally. First I'm thinkin' an apology is due though truth to tell weren't nothin' me an' mine could do 'bout the delay but it's fittin' to be truthsome straight off."

The man nodded. "An' I 'ppreciate the gesture. Puts my mind more at ease than a dozen promises, Cap'n Reynolds."

"Name's Mal. You still wanna hire us we're yours now an' more'n willin' though have to say we're a mite short on fuel."

Wally smiled. "That I can do somethin' about. Still got three quarters of the cargo fit to ship, the rest I had to pass on as animal feed. Don't have to tell ya how the price dropped, almost had to pay 'em to take the stuff off my hands."

The Captain had a bad feeling where this was going. Reduced stock meant reduced pay and they were in sore need of coin. "What's the deal?"

"I got three quarters cargo to go to Newhall. Ain't more'n three days out but them people are right short of most everythin'. Have to cut back on the original figure, *dong ma*, but I'll pay half up front then settle the rest on your return trip."

Zoe's frown deepened, her suspicion beginning to kick in. "Why would we wanna return to a *lese* place like this?"

Now Wally grinned. "Because the one thing they got on Newhall is iron ore. Got one of the biggest smeltin' plants this part of the Rim. You'll be droppin' off the perishables an' pickin' up the iron. It'll be all squared off in ingots but heavy as *diyu*. Ya got somethin' to tote that kind'a cargo or I gotta look elsewhere?"

Jayne leaned forward. "How heavy?"

Wally told him and Jayne whistled then gave a slow measuring nod before looking at the Captain. "Mule'll haul it no problem, Cap, but it'll take several trips. Can't load too much at a time."

"You deliver the food to Newhall an' bring back the iron an' you'll have two pay days, Mal. The price I already quoted for the food an' double that figure for the iron. What d'ya say? We gotta deal?"

It could never be said that the Captain was a stupid man. Ornery. Stubborn. Pig headed and oft' times opinionated but not stupid. He knew a good deal when he saw one and if he didn't take it his crew would be like to mutiny and have his scalp. Not that there was a chance in *diyu* of him turning it down. Never did see many gift horses in the Black. He paused only to wait for the concurring agreement murmuring in his mind from Thadius. That the Readers approved was all he needed to turn his agreement into fact. "That we have."

Hands were shaken then Kaylee broke out some of her fermenting interengine liquor and before long the atmosphere had gotten a lot more rowdy, Jayne even breaking into song. Only threats of being put out the airlock in atmo shut him up, it being the content of his singing that brought out the blushes and discomfort more than his singing voice which was actually pretty good. Kaylee had patted his arm and assured him it was a good song and he could sing it to her later when no one else was around. Simon had swiftly whisked the mechanic away from the mercenary before either could make good on that. Hours later Kaylee woke with a mouth like the inside of a sewer pipe and Simon sprawled half across her, his warm breath puffing out a tickling tattoo on her bare belly. As the sluggish after effects began to wear off other parts of her anatomy woke up and Kaylee cast a wicked eye on the object of her desire. She had more than a few novel ways to wake the good doctor, and having him scream her name in passion as she did so was the shiniest thing she could think of. Oh yeah, she'd missed Simon. Almost as much as she'd missed the great sex.

* * * * *

The ship had fallen silent. Most all of the crew were sleeping. Leastways no one was wandering around the passenger quarters. Wally Burton and his men had staggered off Serenity about 2am. Were due back with the produce for loading around 11 in the am which suited the Captain and crew just fine. Ruben looked sad, Helen thoughtful, Michael accepting and Carl impatient. Only Thadius knew that the implications of what they had done needed to be addressed and soon before Parliament could rouse itself with a suitable and no doubt deadly response. Thadius was determined to ensure the fallout did not land on the crew of Serenity. He fervently wished he had been able to explain what he planned to the Captain but knowing what a protective sumbitch Mal could be, he was as like to want to go with them as let them go. No. This way was better. He would not repay the man who had given he and his friends their freedom by ensuring his death. Mayhap one day they would see each other again. But if not then let the memories they would leave be happy ones.

Quietly and stealthily they gathered their few personal possessions and padded to the cargo bay door. Ruben smiled even before they caught sight of the slim form detaching from the shadows to speak to them. River's pale face looked ghostly. "You're leaving, like thieves in the night only you didn't steal anything. He'll still feel robbed when he finds out. Loss, sorrow. Too many friends already gone to lose another."

"We have to go," Said Ruben gently.

"*Wo zhidao*," River replied quietly. "Still hurts."

Then Helen opened her arms and hugged River, the others gathering round until the little ball of humanity took and gave what comfort they could to each other for the last time. Thadius raised a hand to wipe a tear from River's face. "Look after him. Look after them all."

River nodded and watched them leave, gazing out of the small viewing window long after the bay door had been closed and locked.

* * * * *

Simon Tam was having the most erotic dream. Hands and tongue, teeth and lips, wet warmth and invasive touches, sweeping strokes and warm sweat limned flesh gliding over his own until he jerked and spasmed, eyes flying open, his libedo on fire. Realisation crowning the glory of his awakened passion just before he came in a mad rush of sensation, the suction of a greedy mouth milking him as busy hands worked to prolong his ejaculation, while his muzzy brain struggled to find words that he could not form. Incoherence did not stop him from feeling though and Kaylee was more than inventive in their love making. He shook and juddered, hips bucking as she swallowed and teased the last drop out of him. His energy sagging as he deflated in her happy mouth.

"*Tian Yesu*, Kaylee...."

Her grinning face peered up at him as she licked her lips clean. "Mornin', *bao bei*. Happy dreams?"

He hesitated then realised what she was alluding to, his eyes beginning to narrow in a playful parody of an anger he did not feel. "Why you little teasing harpie."

"Ain't no harpie, prairie or otherwise. Just keepin' my man satisfied is all."

"Oh, is that what you were doing?" Simon's eyes were sparkling, that Top Three Per Cent already thinking of appropriate ways to reward Kaylee for being so sneaky. Wide awake now, Simon wriggled down for a kiss then before Kaylee realised what he was up to flipped her onto her back and pinned her arms. Leering down he kissed her before raising his head so he could look her in the eyes. "My turn now." With a giggle of happy anticipation, Kaylee felt her body over heating, just about ready to die for want of him. Should be a gorram sin for a man who had vowed to 'do not harm' to make a body wait like that, but once Simon got started he proved even more gifted than Kaylee.

* * * * *

In her shuttle, Inara was luxuriating after a long langorous session with her Captain. She lay in the sheen of their shared exertions, bodies glistening against the silky back drop of sheets pushed back in the throes of passion. She was careful not to hurt him and he was determined that she not be left wanting, his considerable determination turned to pleasing and tormenting her in ways she found new and exciting despite the long years of her Companion training. Loveless coupling could not compare with the heightened senses and feelings of being with the one you were destined to love for the rest of your life. She had not known love could be like this. It was so beautiful it was painful, the tears in her eyes as much an absolution of her past as a celebration of their future.

He lay on his back, eyes closed, Inara on her side watching him sleep. Her right hand ghosting over his warm skin, sailing across his body so that her fingers could trail over the geography she had mapped so extensively through most of the night. Inara smiled, the warm oils she had used had helped to increase his sensitivity as well as letting their bodies and hands glide without friction, the emotional and physical feelings engendered had brought the kind of moans from him that made her almost orgasm just to hear them. How had she come to love this man so deeply? This annoying, charismatic, rough but honorable rogue? How was it he could reach in to the heart of her, see her as she was and not be fooled by the artifice, the mechanics of her trade? It was rare for someone so unschooled to be so aware and yet as much as Malcolm Reynolds constantly surprised her, he delighted her in equal measure. For Inara Serra had found her match in this most unlikely of places. A safe harbour for her heart where she had least looked to find it and for that she could never repay him enough.

Watching him slowly stir, still sleeping but skimming the edge of wakefulness, Inara began to drop tender kisses on his chest, her tongue flicking out to lap across his cooling skin, teasing a nipple, her hands exploring in light teasing touches, her right leg sliding between his then resting there to hold him in place. Her body already getting excited, warming up, ready for him as gently, tenderly she loved him. Putting heart and soul into every touch, the murmur from his lips emboldening her before she latched on to him, her hand forming the funnel through which she brought him straining to erect attention. The throbbing vein pumping blood through the flaccid cells until he was hard and weeping white tears into her hand.

"'Nara? What you doin' to me, *xin gan*?"

"If you need to ask you aren't nearly as bright as you like to pretend."

He would have come back with a acid quip but she was working him to the raggedy edge so skillfully it stole his breath, voice catching in his throat and not making it into speech. She loved him like this. Lusting and incoherent, putty in her hands, yet with that strength, that passion that could undo her every time. Leaning down her lips trapped his, stealing his air and invading his senses with her perfume, her taste, her touch. Her hands and body driving him insane, bringing him dancing around the edge of coming but not letting him find release, he was aching, needing to thrust, to bury himself inside her volcanic heat but when he reached for her she was too quick, too agile, to take the iniative away from her. Sweat pouring off his face he watched transfixed as she drew back to watch his reaction, her own shining aspect dazzling him with joy. *Tianna* he loved this woman.

"'Nara," His voice broke on a husky groan. "Need to be inside you, *mashang*."

Inara smiled and made him gasp again, his mind reeling. He groaned, Inara leaned down and stole the sound from his mouth, her tongue stroking his with the rythym of her hand, the thumb rubbing across the salty slit making his hips jerk, while she oiled her hand with his precum. He couldn't speak now, couldn't gorram think neither. If she was gonna kill him he didn't give a good gorram, just so long as she didn't stop. Inara strung everything out, every feeling, every emotion, every thing he was experiencing. How in the nine hells was she managing to stop him from coming to orgasm, yet heightening the sensation until he was so gorram desperate for her he was almost in tears? Gorrammit he was already weeping in her hand, what more did she want?

Then he saw it, in the hooded dark passion in her eyes. Everything clear as crystal. He opened himself up to her, the only choice left to him - unconditional surrender. If Inara wanted it all then that was what he would give her. When she finally, carefully, lowered herself on to him his body shuddered, the docking manouevre so like coming home that he was sure he was dying. Within seconds he came crashing, his orgasm so intense he almost blacked out. Her hips framing his to reduce the amount of movement he needed to finish. As he drifted off he realised what she had been doing and why, building up the mad intensity to a crescendo so that they could enjoy coitus without reopening his wound. Crafty gorram woman. As the thought settled in his consciousness he smiled the sweetest smile. Gorrammit, he loved that woman.

* * * * *

The only regret Ruben had was in taking the little Alliance stealth ship. Thadius calmed his reservations. *We are simply taking it back*.

*Somehow I don't see the Alliance thanking us for this little excursion*. Michael thought calmly, his structured and orderly mind like a still pool.

*This has to look like Gabriel Tam's failure has come back to haunt him*

Helen looked worried. *We will be caught, tortured then put to death. What will that achieve?*

Impossibly, or so it seemed, Thadius smiled. *We will not be going back empty handed."

Carl frowned. *What good will returning the ship do? They will think we are behind what happened.*

*That is why we will not be on board when they find it*

*We won't?*

Instead of replying, Thadius let them see what he was planning. One by one the Readers smiled. They had a present for Parliament, but first there was a little detour on the way to *diyu*.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wode ma* = mother of God *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *shenme* = what *duibuqi* = sorry *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *dui* = correct *goushi* = crap/dog shit *diyu* = hell *lese* = crappy *wo zhidao* = I know *tian Yesu* = sweet Jesus *bao bei* = precious/treasure *xin gan* = sweetheart *tianna* = oh God! *mashang* = on the double/at once/immediately/quickly


Tuesday, April 25, 2006 8:54 AM


Oh! And I thought this was all wrapping up... can't wait to see what the Readers have in mind!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 9:43 AM


I'm so glad there was no big battle and the two groups were able to come to an arrangement!

And the S/K moment was awwwww. I'm glad they're finally together. Hope it will be permanent!

And the M/I was nice too! Was wondering how they'd do the deed without hurting his wound, nicely done.

Now, the Readers... what are they up to? Hmmm. Looking forward to the next chapter!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 10:39 AM


Great chapter! I loved all the moments. Aww on the Inara and Mal kissing, being so involved in themselves that they didn't notice the others! Of course I loved the S/K scenes! Can't wait for your next post!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 2:54 PM


Oh...damn....this was both hot and lovely:)

Really liked how you describe Mal and Inara's private moments. Nothing too graphic but filled with powerful imagery and so much gorram emotion I thought someone was gonna explode....I walked into that one, didn't I?


And Kaylee getting Simon all riled up? Classic Kaylee:)


Tuesday, April 25, 2006 4:58 PM


Nice homey reunion scene, and a good deal on a job for the crew for once!!

very much loved seeing Mal and Inara kiss in front of everyone, and Inara's irritation as Simon interrupted them before it turned to guilt and then embarassament! hee...

And some of your descriptions were wonderfully new and titilating! white tears, that's all I'm going to say... lovely moment between M and I... so much love *sighs*

And then ther's all the intrigue of what Thad has in mind.... sad to see them go though :o(

Sunday, May 1, 2011 5:04 PM


how heart crushing will it be for Mal when he learns they're gone? and that he won't be able to protect them? Really great series, AliD

Friday, November 4, 2011 8:30 PM


Aaaaaa LOVED this!!!! All the Simon/Kaylee wad gorram SHINY!!! and the Mal/Inara!:D

"Yeah but ya don't try to suck the life out of our faces, 'Nara." Inara flushed. "*Fang xin*, we all think it's shiny."


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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.