In Sunshine and in Shadow
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Plot partially stolen from the favorite Western of my childhood. Please review but be a little gentle, it was written during a bout of insomnia last night.


It was Unification day.

As per usual Mal had insisted that they find an Alliance friendly bar, but the day wasn’t going to the usual pattern.

Maybe Inara’s presence was exercising a restraining affect, or maybe Alliance supporters were feeling a little less fired up post Miranda, but it was quiet, no toasts, and no real aggressive drunks. In fact they were having a ‘nice’ time.

Jayne had taken a look round and found him a girl to hit on; she was hanging tipsily of his shoulder while he was playing pool.

Kaylee and Simon had stayed for one drink then disappeared who knows where.

River had stayed on the ship.

Inara was watching the world go by, seeming at her ease in the rickety bar chair, the conversation between herself and Mal floating around.

Mal was almost enjoying himself, he could have made a fight happen, but had always preferred the first aggressive move to come from someone else and no one was playing so he just let it go. The one thing niggling away at him and taking the edge of his pleasure was Zoë.

She’d been drinking, though Zoë had a hard head she wasn’t really a drinker, but she had been sinking them steady and by now she should have been drunk but she wasn’t.

What she was, was so full of tension it was like a twanging wire. Inara was feeling it too; Mal being so tightly attuned to every nuance of Inara’s body language he could see it like she had an aura, waves of frustrated sympathy hitting the brick wall that was Zoë these days.

Zoë was spoiling for a fight, she hadn’t tried to dissuade Mal one bit from the annual trip to an Alliance bar, and she’d been working the weights and the punch bag real hard too.

Well the reason was obvious, one dead husband and the kind of Widow who wouldn’t weep or wail and who could beat the innards out of most men living was an explosive combination. The trouble is Mal didn’t know what to do about it.

The bar door opened and Zoë’s head shot round to check the new comers, checking or hoping for trouble.

Mal checked the door as well, though a mite more subtlety. A great grin spread across his face.

“Owen Thomas, where the hell you bin?”

Before Mal could get up his had and arm had been griped and pumped by the man at the head of the group of four new arrivals. Owen Thomas was not too tall but he was lean and whipcord fast. He had a reputation as a gun hand and no small talent at leading men. He and Mal had never served together but they’d come across each other in the Alliance hospital after Serenity Valley and worked a couple of jobs afterwards that gave Mal some of the cashy money to buy his ship.

They both worked in the never-world between legal and illegal commerce, Owen almost exclusively as a gun for hire and bodyguard. He was in addition aggressively proud of his Welsh heritage.

While gripping onto Mal Owen had taken stock of the occupants of the table, he spotted Jayne as part of the group as he’d stopped his game of pool and was standing watchful. His eyes widened slightly at Inara and then he spotted Zoë.

He hoicked Zoë out of her chair and gave her a bear hug. Zoë stood there rigid. Mal and Inara held their breath as Owen released Zoë and looked up into her face with a cheeky grin.

“Zoë girl, it’s been too long, now where...?”

Mal butted in at high speed. “Owen you stop bothering my first mate and get yourself up to the bar with me.” He slapped Owen on the back, adding a little push to get him moving.

Owen was sharp enough to get the hint; he waited until they reached the bar and had ordered their drinks, neither of them made any move to go back to the table.

“Ok boyo, you going to tell me what’s wrong with Zoë, normally she tries to hit me when I grab her, this time she stood there like a statue.”

“Wash’s dead.”

“Cachu! Daria! How long?”

“Bout a month.”

Owen took a drink, “It ain’t like a friend dying in the war, you almost got used to that and we were all in the same boat.” Owen rubbed a stubbly chin, “What the hell do I say?”

“It might be best if you don’t say anything.” Both men jumped as Inara drifted softly up behind them and spoke low. “I’ve tried, I live in fear of what River might say but she hasn’t yet and Kaylee’s scared to. There are some people who ought to try but don’t.” Inara turned a brittle smile on Mal.

Mal had opened his mouth to protest when a distraction was caused by the opening of the bar door. As usual most of the patrons checked the new comer for trouble.

It was a woman, she looked un-remarkable and most eyes returned to their drinks. Mal and Owen’s didn’t, perhaps because they were the closest to the door and could see more clearly. Owen in particular stiffened.

She wore a round hat with ornate studs round the rim, it was an ugly hat. As a result you couldn’t see much of her face. Her clothes were well worn, serviceable but plain as if she had no desire to attract attention which made her choice to wear the hat even more confusing.

All patrons were required to check their weapons at the door, but this woman didn’t even have a holster.

They watched the hat turn slowly as the woman checked out the room. She must have seen what she wanted because she started to move with a purpose.

Owen’s companions, three fairly un-prepossessing bravo’s had taken a table a few steps from the one where Zoë was still sitting.

The hat and its wearer stopped in front of the table.

“Harry Bigelow?”

All three men looked up, one nodded.

The woman took off the hat; she had dark hair scraped back in a knot in her neck.

Zoë was watching.

The woman threw the hat on the table.

“Do you remember that hat?”

Harry Bigelow picked it up, puzzled and turned it round in his hands, then something clicked in his face and he looked up at the woman his expression somewhere between wariness and anger.

“Maybe I do girl, what’s it to you?”

“The man who wore that hat raised me and my brother when our parents died. You shot him. You and two friends”

“I’ve shot a lot of people girl; the old fart who wore that hat was a cheat.”

“No, he was good is all, he had no need to cheat, but you and your two friends were bad losers, sides he was kind of an old man.”

Bigelow snorted. “So what ya gonna do girl?”

“It took me eight months but I caught up with your two buddies and you’ll notice I’m still standing; now I’ve found you.”

“You calling me out?”

The woman just nodded and walked outside.

There was something of an exodus to the yard outside the bar. The Woman was standing quietly waiting.

Bigelow and his buddies stepped out together buckling on their guns.

“You two drop your weapons.” It was unmistakably an order, barked out by Owen and it was obeyed.

“Mr Thomas, this girl’s calling me out.” Whined Harry, appealing to a higher authority.

“And I’m going to let that happen Bigelow, I’m a might interested to see how she is going to do this, look you, she has no gun. Sides,” he said, giving his man a thoughtful look. “It shouldn’t have taken three of you.”

Harry looked at the girl, she just stood, hands loosely at her sides.

“Being female ain’t gonna hold me back girl. Nee TZAO ss-MA?”

She just stood.

“Damn.” Harry looked around a moment, he was being honest when he said that her sex wouldn’t hold his hand, but he was un-nerved, she was just standing there with no sign of a weapon.”

“Aw shit.” He swore and went for his gun.

Before he got his gun half way clear of the holster there was a knife in his neck. There was a whole lot of blood which made Inara turn away with a hand to her mouth and a great deal of scrabbling and kicking as Harry clutched the knife in his throat trying to hold his life in. It took what seemed an eternity for him to bleed out and lie still. No one made any move to help him.

Owen and Mal looked down dispassionately at the corpse.

“You think he’s dead now?” Asked Owen

Mal poked the body with a toe

“I reckon, course I could get my ships Doctor to be sure.”

Owen shot Mal a quizzical look, “You got a ships Doctor? Daria! You gone up in the world?”

The woman walked over as calm as ever and pulled the knife free with a gristly sound. There was movement from Harry’s two buddies and Owen and Mal spotted them going for their guns.

The first bravo had his gun shot out of his hand by Zoë and looked up to find himself covered by both Zoë and Mal. Owen had made no attempt to draw his weapon, just gave him a look. He stood up and made no more moves towards his weapon.

“You want to come to dinner?” Said Mal out of the corner of his mouth to Owen.

“I’ll be there boyo, I’ll just take my boy’s inside and get them a drink and we’ll all be happy again.”

Once Owen had escorted his boys inside, Mal and Zoe relaxed. The bar owner and one of the staff appeared and carted away the corpse without fuss.

The Woman watched the corpse go, calmly wiping of her knife with a cloth, she returned it to its sheath located inside her shirt at the back of her collar.

“You’re gonna need to get off this rock in a hurry.” Observed Mal.

“Ain’t that the truth?” Remarked Zoë dryly.

The Woman shrugged. “I’ve done what I set out to do, question is what now?”

“If you got the coin, I got a ship.”

The Woman looked at him hard.

“I got some coin.”

“Then we can maybe do a deal,” Mal stuck out a hand “So, who the hell are you?”


Welsh Translations Daria – Damn Cachu – Bullshit

Chinese translations

Nee TZAO ss-MA?” – You want bullit?


Tuesday, April 25, 2006 1:58 PM


Good story and nicely told, wish you had the girl introduce herself at the end though. Or is this the first in a series? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 4:36 PM


Well now...tis might interesting to see someone break out the mother tongue these days...or at least when I am, even if it's to express dismay in such a colourful manner;)

Still...loving how you set this up, Pony (if I may call you that, as PonyXpressInc is a decent mouthful) ;) Really wanna find out who the mystery lady is....


Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:21 PM


Being brought up on watching westerns and nearly every John Wayne/Clint Eastwood flick(Thanks DAD!), I can point out the movie plot here like you said. but I won't spoil it for the other. Keep up the good Writing, hoping to learn the ladies name and looking forward to the next installment if there is a next?

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 3:06 AM


Great beginning! Love the touch of Celtic language. You can always tell an author who goes that extra mile to do research for a story!

Saturday, July 1, 2006 4:20 AM


i like owen, he's a damn cool man!! and so's the scary lady with the knife.



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In sunshine and in Shadow Part Nine
The finale.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part 8
Samson's going to jail, Jayne gets a sandwich.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part 7
A trail leads to a Rat's nest and Chilli finds his guts again.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part Six
Chilli is mostly upright, Samson get's madder by the minute.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part Five
There's a drunk to sort out, River has fun with Jayne (Not the rude kind)and Lizzie Appleby's Auntie turns out to be a right little Madam.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part Four
Mal brings his people to Whitefall, into a situation which looks darker and nastier than before.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Part 3
A nice dinner and a little gun fight.

In Sunshine and in Shadow Pt 2
A new passenger has come aboard, Jayne's had one of his itches scratched, a dangerous gunman is due for dinner and something nasty is brewing ready for the crew....

In Sunshine and in Shadow
Plot partially stolen from the favorite Western of my childhood. Please review but be a little gentle, it was written during a bout of insomnia last night.