Here Be Dragons (Part VII)
Friday, April 2, 2004

The Reavers arrive at Revelation to a warm reception


Disclaimer – Everything either does belong to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind.

Thanks to my regular readers for making it worthwhile to continue the story and special thanks to my Proof-Reader Landry.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

Book sat in the tower quietly praying, the Sniper Rifle lying ready next to him. He had not taken a life in many years but it looked like he was about to again. He knew he would do it well. He had a talent for it. He wasn’t praying for victory, he was praying not to revel in it as much as he once had.

Also lying beside him River’s portable computer made a warning noise. It was tied into both the colony central computer and through that it had a link via the main transmitter tower to the AI Warship somewhere out in the Black.

Book opened his eyes and picked up the computer. He pressed the touch screen to receive message and was rewarded with a text message which stated simply ‘Closing on final group of targets. If you are unsuccessful in your defence of the Dome notify and I will return immediately to cover any retreat. Shadow Out.’

The Shepherd sighed. He didn’t like the AI. He couldn’t stomach the idea that an intelligence so clearly lacking a soul could have such power of life or death over God’s creations. It slew mechanically, efficiently and without mercy and was so much better at it than a human could ever be.

Book relayed the message onto Mal via his radio headset then returned to his prayers. He added an extra one for the machine but wondered if he should.

* * *

The bunker was already filled to brimming when Inara led the Serenity Group down the stairs and the short corridor into the complex. It had been built in case of a severe meteor bombardment but made a functional bomb-shelter as well.

Not necessarily the best place to hold out against Reavers who could take a plasma-torch to the Airlock Doors but there were people on the surface who would die before allowing the invaders to get that far. Inara prayed that none of them would have to.

The locals had left a couple of tables free next to the entrance tunnel for their “guests” and were keeping their distance. They were plainly scared but seemed to believe the advice of their leadership that everything was going to be fine. Inara wondered if people who followed others so blindly were really an asset to the ‘Verse anyway.

Irving met them. He threw a quizzical look behind Inara. ‘Who’s this?’ he asked.

‘This is Laura she’s our…’

‘I’m their prisoner,’ the girl stated holding up her handcuffed wrists. ‘They keep me locked up in a cell and if I try and get away or do things they don’t like they give me electric shocks.’

Irving gaped ‘Is this true?’

Inara paused. ‘Well yes but there’s some back story that…’

‘Please save me from them,’ Laura whimpered. ‘I don’t want to have to give myself to the men of the crew for food anymore.’

Inara sighed. ‘That was a nice touch Laura but you may have noticed that the only people carrying guns here are us so it’s doubtful they’re going to come to your rescue.’

‘I insist you free this poor girl,’ Irving stated adamantly. ‘Holding her in bondage is a sin against god.’

‘Oh yes there’s plenty of bondage,’ Laura stated, ‘and this one used to be a companion and they’re all Lesbians.’

‘Alright that’s enough,’ Jennifer said coldly and dragged the younger woman to a nearby chair. ‘Sit down and if you say another word I’ll stun you.’

Jennifer turned to Irving. ‘For the record we do not abuse the girl in any way… well she gets a mild electric shock when she’s being difficult but there is certainly no sexual exploitation.’

‘What gives you the right to treat her like this?’

Inara looked Irving in the eye. ‘You wouldn’t believe us.’

‘Try me.’

‘She’s a trained assassin who was made telepathic by government scientists who operated on her brain. Steven captured her when she tried to kidnap River, who’s our trained telepathic assassin by the way, because he was high on drugs so she couldn’t read his mind.’

To say Irving looked somewhat less than convinced would be the understatement of the decade.

Kaylee looked at the expression on his face and sniggered. ‘Let’s be fair. It does sound a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it?’ she pointed out.

Seizing the moment Jennifer joined in. ‘The same time we got Laura we captured the warship which is currently eradicating most of the local Reaver population. It’s an illegally manufactured crewless Artificial Intelligence with a nasty streak by the way. The government needed to track us with a machine because River could detect any humans that might be following us,’ Jennifer stopped and looked at Irving. ‘Still not buying this then?’

Inara chuckled. ‘Come on, it must be true. Who’d make something like this up?’

‘Utter drivel,’ Irving stated. ‘I imagine you’re selling this poor girl into slavery.’

Kaylee shook her head. ‘Captain ain’t got no truck with slavery. We actually took the Granite Gorge off a bunch of slaver pirates when we saved a town from them.’

‘That was after we took out a company of Alliance Infantry on Toulouse,’ Jennifer announced, ‘but before we wiped out a squadron of Alliance Fighters and crippled a Cruiser.’

‘We live eventful lives,’ Inara stated deadpan then went into convulsive laughter.

Irving snarled. ‘I won’t listen to any more of this nonsense. When you leave we shall offer this girl sanctuary,’ he stated then stomped off leaving the women cracking up into hysterical laughter. It was as much a release of tension as anything else but he thought they were just mocking him.

Sitting down at the nearest table watching the discussion Claire-Marie looked to her big sister. ‘Why doesn’t he believe us?’ she asked.

‘Because real life is a lot more complicated than he likes to think it is,’ Cally told her. ‘Do you want to help me load sub-machine gun clips for Mummy and Inara?’


‘The ones in this box are armour-piercing and these are dum-dum rounds. If you load a clip with armour piercing put a ring of blue sticky-tape around it like this,’ Cally said holding up a full magazine.

Claire-Marie nodded. ‘How many do we have to do?’

‘We’ve got ten empty here so we’ll do five of each but if the Reavers get in we’ll have to reload the used ones really fast.’

Claire-Marie nodded. ‘Is Daddy going to be alright?’

‘Daddy is a good soldier. If the whole Alliance can’t kill him the Reavers can’t.’

‘I hope he kills them all,’ the little girl said and picked up an empty sub-machine gun clip.

‘Me too,’ said John who was sneakily eating a chocolate bar from behind a comic book. His father had told him there was nothing to worry about and he knew it was true because the Wolves were up there and you can’t beat the pack if it sticks together.

‘Are you going to share that chocolate?’ Cally asked.

John lowered the comic. ‘I’m hiding it from Kaylee,’ he said. ‘I’ll give you a piece though.’

Claire-Marie nodded. ‘Good thinking. She can’t be trusted with sweets.’

Her elder sister frowned and looked towards Kaylee. She was more concerned whether the mechanic could be trusted with the sub-machine-gun she had slung on her shoulder. Cally decided to take it off her if things got nasty. Kaylee was very nice but she just didn’t have the right temperament for a fire-fight.

Cally turned towards Laura who was sitting down with her usual miserable expression. Now there was someone who could be useful with a gun if the Reavers came she decided.

* * *

‘Okay,’ Mal said, ‘we’ve got two Trans-U’s and a Wasp landing. I reckon on them setting down North, South and West. Jayne I want you to take the south, get it done quickly and then link up with Zoe and River covering west.’

Jayne ran to get into position with Wash following.

‘Steve. I want you firing north first. You’ll be supporting me, so I’ll give the word to open up. Book you’re looking west but I don’t want you getting tunnel vision so keep checking around. You might be able to get a shot in from up there we can’t.’

‘Yes Sir,’ Book replied getting into a comfortable position for aiming the Rifle.

‘Remember. No unnecessary use of fragmentation grenades,’ Mal stated. ‘The Dome should be able to stand ricochets or even a direct bullet hit but you never know what a big chunk of high-velocity shrapnel might do. If we do puncture the thing it ain’t vacuum out there but it’s cold, it’s thin and it ain’t breathable so put on your respirators immediately and get ready to freeze your ass off.’

Simon checked his assault rifle for the umpteenth time. He looked nervous but he had confidence that Mal knew what he was doing. He certainly sounded like it at least.

‘I can feel them. They are very angry,’ River said. ‘Shadow has killed many of them and they thirst for revenge.’

‘Can you pick up any kind of plan?’

‘Too primal, too savage,’ River replied. ‘Maybe when they get closer but for now it’s just undirected rage I feel.’

‘Taking one alive might be an idea,’ Steve commented. ‘We really know nothing about them other than what they do. Their motivations are a mystery.’

Mal thought about that. ‘Okay at the end find the one with the smallest wound and stun him. Kill the rest.’

‘Captain…’ Book started over the radio.

‘Humanely,’ Mal interrupted, ‘kill them humanely, a bullet to the head.’

‘That’s not really…’ Book continued.

‘That’s the best deal I got to offer Shepherd,’ Mal stated firmly. ‘I don’t want any thoughts of mercy out there especially from you Doc. Just ‘cause they might be wounded don’t mean they ain’t a threat. They’re mad dogs and that means they get put down.’

‘Yes Sir,’ Book responded. He looked to heaven through the clear polymer of the Dome and went back to checking his weaponry.

‘Has everybody got everything they’ll need on them?’ Mal asked. ‘I don’t want anyone getting killed because they ain’t ready.’

‘So it’s okay to get killed if we are ready then?’ Wash asked.

‘Nope but it’s a darn sight less embarrassing,’ his wife announced. ‘Your last thoughts ain’t likely to be, boy was I dumb leaving my spare ammo over there.’

‘Well I’d hate to commit a combat faux-pas,’ Simon commented, ‘so I’ll check my equipment again.’

‘You comfortable up there Steve?’

The Lancer stood up on the school roof and waved. ‘This is great,’ he said into his radio set. ‘Good views, lots of space. I’ve laid out some blankets to lie on and I’ve even got a pillow. This is going to be the most comfortable fire-fight I’ve ever been in.’

‘Better than fighting sitting on your ass in a tank?’ Zoe asked.

‘More leg room,’ Steven replied. ‘Anyhow, I particularly like the sandbags I’ve set up.’

‘Where the hell did you get sandbags?’ Zoe asked.

‘It’s a school. I dug up the sandpit from the playground and stuck it in old sacks. In this gravity it was easy to haul them up here. What did you think I was doing all this time?’

Mal groaned. ‘Why the hell didn’t I think of that?’

‘That’s why I was an officer. I think my way around problems. Anyway like I keep telling you the Cavalry have more brains. Besides which you’ll be fighting a more mobile battle than me. I just have to sit up here pulling a trigger and drawing fire.’

‘If we need you to move how fast can you get down here?’

‘Fast as you like, I’ve got a spare box of ammo next to the bottom of the ladder if I have to get down quickly and don’t have time to reload first. Hell in this gravity I’d risk the jump if I had to.’

‘Company’s here,’ Zoe said pointing to the three ships that had just come into sight.

Mal took a deep breath. ‘Stick to the plan and we go home on our feet not in a bag. Check your targets, stay calm and kill everything that ain’t one of us.’

‘Are you sure this thing’s gonna work?’ Jayne asked.

‘Steve says he’s almost positive,’ Mal replied. ‘You might want to keep your distance, Wash.’

‘Rutting hell,’ the mercenary swore as the pilot looked at him and took several steps back.

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Decelerating Hard – 2520AD

Shadow had his rear end to the Reaver vessels burning hard as he entered final approach. He needed to cut his closing speed a lot or he wouldn’t have enough time to take out any of his targets before he shot past them, as it was he’d just be able to take out one of them before going back out of range.

Primary target was the Railgun equipped vessel. It would have a shot at the dome by the time Shadow could return to the group to engage for a second time. Hopefully by then the Reaver landing party would have been defeated which meant it might well decide to total the Colony in revenge.

The other ships would not be a threat to the colony before Shadow could make a second attack run and he had time to decelerate, reverse course and come back to tear them apart at leisure. The largest unarmed vessel was a huge ore-freighter, which could be carrying hundreds of Reavers on board, not that they would ever set foot on Revelation. Shadow would be back on them before they could get to the planet. They’d end their days getting sucked through one of the holes the AI was planning to blow in their decrepit vessel or if they were luckier they’d just be reduced to very small bits when their reactor went up.

As always the AI’s timing was impeccable. He cut his drives rotated to face the opposition and began powering up his weaponry just before he entered effective range. He’d been transmitting pictures of the other ships he’d already taken out, plus musical accompaniment for some time now and he assumed they’d be more than a little riled by now.

The AI fired a transmission. ‘Greetings to the Brotherhood of Psychotic Cannibals. My name is Shadow and I’ll be your executioner today,’ it began. ‘If you are under any illusion that any of you will still be alive tomorrow I hate to burst your bubble, but I will however greatly enjoy burning through your hulls with any one of the choice armaments at my disposal.’

Shadow was about to start firing when he noticed some very strange power readings coming from the largest Reaver Ship.

The AI put his optical telescope to maximum zoom and watched the front of the Ore Freighter open up.

Shadow swore, a lot, in every human language, more or less simultaneously. It wasn’t carrying troops.

The AI sent a high powered signal back to Revelation. ‘I just met an improvised Aircraft Carrier, this could get very messy’

Shadow identified the Aerospace fighters that began to launch from the ship. They were old Independent craft, the type christened Angels during the war. How the hell they got them Shadow couldn’t begin to guess but they did complicate things considerably. There were only four of them but that was four too many, The AI was on the clock.

Primary mission was the same. Take out the vessel that offered an immediate threat to the Colony.

The math was simple, at least to an AI, because of how fast he was going to go past the group he would have to target the Mass-Driver vessel with all weapons and couldn’t manoeuvre too much either. That meant he was going to take a beating from those fighters, they couldn’t accelerate fast enough to catch him but they’d get in some good hits before he was out of range. He was too close to risk firing off a few ship-to-ship missiles. If they got in a hit with his armoured bay-doors open he would likely incur severe internal damage. He’d just have to grit his virtual teeth and take the hits.

‘Enjoy yourselves while it lasts,’ Shadow signalled to the Reaver ships. ‘I may be about to lose some armour but when I get back here, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.’

The AI warship opened fire. Sensors indicated his hull was taking an uncomfortable level of retaliation. I’m going to badly need a new paintjob after this, the ship thought as Radar Absorbent Material, and then laminate began to get scorched from his hull.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

The ships that grounded to the north and east attached airlocks and finding the internal doors closed as expected they overrode the mechanism quickly and spilled out their crews into the Dome. They charged through screaming bloodthirsty cries of rage. Their brethren in space had been slaughtered. In their vengeance they would bathe this colony in blood.

At the western lock however, the internal doors were already open before the Reavers opened their own side. As their airlock slid open a burst of rifle fire caused them to dodge out of the way.

One of the Reavers was caught by the fire and fell to the deck wounded but still able to look out. He could see a man not a hundred yards inside the dome kneeling with a large metal tube on his shoulder.

Jayne Cobb pulled the improvised trigger. This thing had never been meant to be fired from the shoulder but in this gravity it was just light enough to handle properly.

A coffee tin full of lead shot blasted backwards down the road towards the town hall.

The device that sailed straight through the open doors of the Reaver Trans-U was considerably more lethal. One of Steven’s Plastic-Explosive HESH warheads impacted with the far internal bulkhead of the Reaver ship detonated and turned a good chunk of the wall into shrapnel which tore through the mass of Reavers who had been waiting to spill out into the Dome.

Jayne was dropping the Recoilless Cannon as Book in the tower remotely closed the western airlock doors. Inside the Reaver ship the explosion had resulted in an inferno, which was burning out of control and causing ammunition stocks to detonate in spasms of fire and destruction.

‘All Wolves engage,’ Mal hollered into his headset microphone.

The Dome erupted into a frenzy of fully-automatic fire.

* * *

AI Warship Shadow – Decelerating Hard – 2520AD

That could have gone a lot better, thought the AI as it checked the damage to internal systems. The most important problem was the burn through into the main power transfer system that fed the Energy Weapons. It was fried and would need replacing.

Shadow had taken out the Mass-Driver Vessel and had also managed to get in a nice rail-gun hit on the Ore-Freighter/Aircraft Carrier on closest approach but the fighters and the other armed vessels had given the AI a serious pounding.

The worst thing was in other circumstances Shadow could have swept through smashed the fighters and then gone back for the rest with nothing more than a warm hull to show for it. As it was he would have to use his missiles on the other ships and that was a waste of irreplaceable resources out here.

The AI cast an active scan back towards the Reaver ships.

This is less than good, he thought.

The fighters had peeled off and were now heading towards Revelation at high acceleration. Shadow did the math, it wasn’t good, he might not be able to get back and overtake them in time.

The AI drove his engines far beyond safe limits. It hoped the colossal amount of money spent on his construction had been properly used on over-engineering his reactor beyond its formal specs because if not he was going to melt a big hole in his engine room.

* * *

Colony Dome – Revelation – 2520AD

Steven was pouring long bursts of fire down towards the north lock. His first salvo had chopped a platoon’s worth of Reavers to bits and he was now pinning the rest down very successfully leaving Mal and the Doc to take pot-shots at any lone Reavers that tried to return fire.

On the western approach Zoe didn’t have the same level of firepower backing her up but she did have River, which was a hell of a good exchange as far as she was concerned.

Zoe had reluctantly abandoned her lever-action for an Assault Rifle realising they needed firepower to stop the mass of attackers more than they need stealth or skill. Throw enough lead and you have to hit something and even the ones that miss tend to keep heads down nicely.

Reavers were nuts but they weren’t quite nuts enough to charge down a full-auto with a clear field of fire.

An explosion just clockwise of the airlock indicated the Reavers had just run into one of the little presents Zoe and Mal had been setting up. Nothing fancy just a short-fuse concussion grenade with the pin pulled out lying in a tin can. The grenade is tied to some thin black yarn, snag the yarn you pull the grenade out of the tin.

The classic ideas are always the best and the two Reavers who went sailing through the air a surprising distance in the low gravity would have agreed if the explosion hadn’t killed them already.

Reavers were still pouring through the airlock with only god to know how many of them there were in there. River was firing from a doorway, methodically gunning down the ones she thought were the biggest immediate threat. Three round bursts over and over again. She was reading Zoe’s mind to make sure they would not both be reloading simultaneously.

Book was firing too with his bolt-action sniper rifle. He didn’t have the volume but he made up for it in accuracy. River knew his secrets. She knew how skilled at this he really was. If she ever thought he would become a threat she’d kill him but for now she kept his secrets and valued his presence. He was a competent soldier and that’s what they needed here.

There were still too many to stop like this. They were delaying the inevitable, or at least that’s what the Reavers would be thinking.

The sky began to darken as the colony entered night. The street lights automatically came on to balance the lack of sunlight coming through the Dome.

A jet propelled slug whistled past Zoe. She kept firing but inwardly smiled. There is something unmistakeable about a Callahan round going past you. Jayne was in the game.

More and more Reavers came from the ships. Steven lowered his firing rate so he wouldn’t have to stop to reload so often but he was burning through his ammunition and it seemed the enemy was inexhaustible.

Revelation spun pretty fast on its axis. Night came quickly here.

Mal fired another burst. ‘Here we go. Better hope this works,’ he said into his radio. ‘Do it, Shepherd.’

Book leaned over and pressed the screen on Rivers portable computer. It relayed the command to the Colonies central computer.

All the lights went out.

The targeting system on Steven’s Brimstone couldn’t care less about the lights going out. It just switched over to Infra-Red Search & Track mode and continued feeding him images.

Zoe smiled as she pulled down one of the captured Academy Special-Ops night-vision goggles over her eyes. This was definitely her game now.

Flashes of weapons fire sporadically lit up the dome as the Wolves abandoned their positions and started to hunt for prey in the black.



Saturday, April 3, 2004 3:59 AM


All our favorite characters shine, and the action is intense and gripping. Hope Shadow survives to help them start te revolution. Hope Laura takes the opportunity to read the crew and decide to join them.

Thanks for another good time, Hotpoint!

Saturday, April 3, 2004 11:04 AM


Book says a prayer for Shadow...Classic...this was great, HP

Sunday, April 4, 2004 9:23 AM


Great dialog interplay between 'our' crew getting ready for the battle--spot on.


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Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits