From Bad to Worse, pt 03
Thursday, July 6, 2006

The crews search the wreckage for their valuable treasure as Wash and Book attempt some thrilling heriocs.


pt 01,pt 02

- - - - -

“Gorramit, where is that ruttin’ gold?” Jayne grumbled after liberating and prying open what seemed like the hundredth crate. “You don’t think someone else got here before us, that Enrique is just running us around for missin’ that other job, do ya?”

“No, I don’t think he would do that. He is one of the most constant sources of work for us, and he knows that we’d probably want to get even for a stunt like that. Besides, there are still several crates to look through, not to mention the secondary hold.” Mal kicked through shin-high piles of splintered wood, headed for one of the remaining crates. “Zoe, any luck over there?”

“Nothing here sir. Seems like that kind of payload would be secured better than this lese is anyhow. Most of these crates are empty, or full of useless junk. I think we should go ahead and get to the secondary hold.”

Wash’s voice crackled over the comm. in Mal’s pocket. “Mal, it looks like the job got double booked. We’ve got company in the form of another Firefly, though they landed behind a hill, so I am not sure what their game is just yet.”

“Keep an eye on ‘em, and keep the engines hot. Looks like this simple job just stopped going smooth.”

At that moment, Kaylee bounded up from the engine room, grease smears and a smile on her face. “Found us a catalyzer Cap’n, though it doesn’t look to be in much better condition than the one we already got. Found us some other spare parts that’ll save you enough coin to be able to afford a new one though.” She smiled at him, her bottom lip barely protruding in a mock pout. “I’ma head back to Serenity, put some of these parts to use.” Kaylee headed for the cargo bay doors as Mal’s comm. sounded again.

“Uh, Captain? There’s some increased chatter on the 2-6-2, can’t rightly tell what they’re saying, but I am pretty sure they aren’t swapping brownie recipes.”

“Tama de!” Mal exclaimed. “One easy job, is that too much to ask for?” he asked sarcastically, looking straight up for a split second. He looked back down, meeting Zoe’s gaze. “Wash, I am sending Kaylee your way, go ahead and open the door for her. After she is there, lock it up and keep it hot. We don’t get this payload, we won’t have enough to fly outta this system. Jayne, you cover Kaylee, then come find me and Zoe in the second hold.”

Kaylee clutched her rough burlap sack to herself, fear in her eyes. Jayne moved to the door where she was standing, bringing a large automatic rifle from his shoulder to his hands. Kaylee waited for him to get a good view of her path, then turned and began to run toward Serenity. Mal and Zoe watched Kaylee go, then climbed through another doorway hurriedly, trying to find some sign that the cargo they were after was still in the wreckage.

- - -

The mule screamed across the barren plain as Claire urged it to go faster, knowing the crew of the other ship might already know that they were there. Hopefully they could surprise the ones already inside the wrecked ship, if there were any, and offer to spare their lives for a safe getaway.

As they got closer, she thought she could make out the cargo doors of the other Firefly opening and saw a long figure running towards them. The bag that the girl was carrying wouldn’t even hold five percent of the treasure they were looking for, which presented two possible scenarios: either she was carrying the first load or the last one. If it was the first, then Claire would be able to surprise them without much trouble, if it was the last one, then there would be no way to catch them in time in the mule, and it would have to be a space pursuit. Either way, she was determined to get paid.

She felt a cold void in her gut as she saw the markings on the side of the ship, instantly recognizing the one thing she didn’t want to see there.

- - -

“Mal, hovermule approaching from the other Firefly, will be on you inside of five minutes.” Wash replaced the comm. unit, turning to face Shepherd Book. “And I had really hoped that this one would go off without a hitch. I guess if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

Book looked down at him, his arms crossed. “It seems to me that Mal and the rest of you seem to get into these little, uh, situations, a lot, and it always works out one way or another.” Book paced back and forth, looking at the spectrum scanner every time he passed it, listening for anything that may tell him what was going on. “On a moon this size, that base has three or four patrol ships at best, a couple dozen at the worst. Still, it’d be tough to handle them in this one ship.”

Wash looked up at him, a surprised look on his face. Book cocked his head to one side, straining to hear what he could from the scanner. Suddenly, he hurried over to it, bending down until he was almost touching it with his ear. Wash could hear him mumbling to himself, and thought he could barely make out the words ‘Harley, you old sonofabitch’.

Looking over at him, Wash was about to ask who Harley was when Book pre-empted his question by saying, “Well, they are definitely headed our way. Six ships, if I am not mistaken, probably with a squad or two each of armed feds. We’ve got twelve, maybe fifteen, minutes before they are in visual range.”

“Do they know it is an illegal salvage operation, or are they just out on patrol?” Wash asked, knowing the answer before he had even finished the question. One ship, maybe two, would be a patrol, but six was definitely something to worry about. In an instant, he had the comm. in his hand again.

“Mal, we’ve got more company. Alliance patrol ships, headed this way, Book says it sounds like at least six of ‘em. You guys want to get back to the ship, mashang?”

“Jian ta de gui! Like I said before, we need this cash to keep flying. Take off once li’l Kaylee is on board, and fly some direction away from them. After a few minutes, drop the pulse beacon out the bottom cargo doors, then load the NavSat decoys into that bay. Actually, see if the good Shepherd and the doc can help Kaylee with both of those, I want you at the helm. Keep flying until you are sure that they have stopped here or wherever you drop the beacon. That other Firefly may work out to our advantage after all.”


“Yeah Wash? Somethin’ important on yer mind?”

“Be careful, and please make sure my wife makes it back in one piece.”

Wash looked out the front of the cockpit, seeing Kaylee almost at the open cargo bay door. He looked over to Book, questioningly. Book silently nodded his acceptance, turning to leave the bridge as Wash prepared Serenity to lift off as soon as her mechanic was securely aboard.

- - -

Jayne watched Kaylee run up the ramp into the ship, a confused look plastered to his face as they lifted off. ‘Did we just get left?’ He headed back to find Mal and Zoe and see if they had found the gold yet, or at least an explanation of why Wash was taking the gorram ship and leaving, kicking splintered crates out of his way as he climbed further into the ship.

He found Zoe standing guard outside of the secondary cargo hold. She motioned him inside, keeping her eyes on the passageway he had just come up. It was narrow and somewhat compact, and would make a good holding point when the crew from the other ship got here. Dealing with the Alliance squads would take another kind of finesse altogether, but they would cross that bridge when they came to it.

“Wo de ma, we’re rich!” Jayne’s voice rang out from the cargo hold, echoing down the small confines of the passageway.

“Jayne, shut yer ruttin’ mouth before I sew it shut.” Mal hissed. “We got no shortage of trouble ridin’ in on us and letting them know where we are on this wreck is just asking for the job to go south, well, more south than it already has gone.”

“You gotta plan, Sir?” Zoe asked stoically, her eyes still scanning the passageways for any signs of their adversaries.

“Yeah, and does your plan involve Wash flyin’ off with yer ship and everyone else aboard it?”

“Yes, I have a plan, and yes, Wash flying off is part of that plan.” Mal glared at Jayne before continuing. “While y’all are makin’ such a fuss, you could be shuttin’ up so I can tell you about it.”

Jayne sneered at Mal, and Zoe gave him a cold look, but neither said anything more.

“The idea is to figure out who exactly these other salvagers are, get the drop on them. Wash’s flying away should give us enough time to load the goods onto their ship, which is a Firefly, and to fly off in another direction, meeting up with Wash after we lose the feds.”

“Well, what if the ruttin’ feds don’t follow Wash? You got a plan for that one?”

“Well, if that happens, the plan is obviously right out the window.”

“Sir, can you even fly the Firefly?”

“Well, no, but I am sure I can learn it easy enough. Besides, maybe we can hijack their pilot, seeing as our Secretary of Public Relations can be very persuasive.”

Jayne smiled big at the mention of his faux title, looking down at the array of weaponry he was carrying.

“Jayne, find somewhere to hide yourself so you are covering us, I want them to think they have the advantage on us. Zoe, help me load this treasure into the bags.”

Jayne left, climbing up several bulkheads and rafters to find a point that couldn’t be seen except from the secondary hold itself while affording him a view of the entire passageway on both sides of the hold’s entrance.

Zoe and Mal began loading the heavy bars into large black canvas bags, working in silence for several moments, then Zoe looked up at Mal, breaking the silence.

“You really think this is going to work Sir?”

“Do you even need to ask?”

“Well, it’s just that things never seem to go according to the plan. We aren’t just dealing with irritating middlemen here, these are squads of armed feds. You do realize what they will do to us, don’t you?”

“Tryin’ not to think about it, darlin’. We gotta do the job, everything else is just details.”

- - -

Claire left the mule on the far side of the wreckage, out of view of anyone on Serenity that may be watching. She led the way around the ship, hoping to use the same entrance Mal and his crew had used. Tom was following her, his eyes and automatic weapon constantly scanning for any sign of an opponent. Anya followed Tom, a heavy pistol in her hand, and Amos was watching their backs, creeping backwards along the crushed metal hull of the ship.

As she came around the corner, she turned to look at the other Firefly, her eyes opening wide in amazement when she saw that it was no longer there. She figured that they had either gotten the cargo, or that someone else entirely had also known about this and had gotten here before both of them. There was also the chance that some emergency had drawn them away and the treasure was still intact. That slight chance led Claire to believe that she should just at least make a quick scan of the ship and its cargo.

Making it around to the door, she peered inside, gun hand leading in case of an ambush. Several years in the Browncoat army and countless battles and skirmishes had made her cautious no matter what the situation was. As her eyes adjusted to the room, her heart plummeted into her stomach. There were dozens, hundreds maybe, of smashed crates scattered throughout the room. She entered cautiously, her sidearm and eyes still scanning for any possible threats. The rest of her posse entered, spreading out and taking flanking positions along the walls.

Claire kicked through the debris, cursing herself for not getting here sooner. She considered heading back to her ship, trying to follow Serenity, but they might be out of the system by now, so a few more minutes wouldn’t matter. Odds were good that their fence was on Boros, and a simple wave would make sure that they would be stopped as soon as they landed.

Claire and Amos headed up the stairs on the right as Tom and Anya continued to check through things on the cargo bay floor. Claire was glad that she had avoided seeing Mal, as she didn’t know how she would have taken it. She was also pretty sure that he would have gotten quite a shock at seeing her again.

Her ears perked up as they climbed the stairs, causing her to stop, putting a hand out to stop Amos. She could hear the soft sound of metal on metal, repeated over and over again. She crept up the stairs, Tom and Anya coming over and following to see what had gotten their leader so quiet. As she reached the top of the stairs, she looked around the corner, hoping that she had correctly determined the source of the sounds.

Her eyes confirmed her suspicions, and her heart began to race at the two surprises before her. She had never expected to see Malcolm Reynolds again, much less to catch him off his guard. She also hadn’t expected the gold to be still on the ship. Smiling to herself, she brought her gun to level with the backs of the two brown-coated figures, her smile growing bigger when he jumped slightly at the sound of her voice.

“How’s tricks, Mal?”

- - - - -

pt 04

- - - - -

Translations ( from ):

tama de (ta ma duh) – fuck me blind

lese (luh-suh) – garbage

mashang (ma shong) – now

jian ta de gui (jien tah-duh guay) – like hell

wo de ma (wuh de ma) – mother of god


Thursday, July 6, 2006 8:13 AM


Really like your Mal. Of course, him putting Jayne in his place is always fun too.

Thursday, July 6, 2006 8:50 AM


I grinned from ear to ear when you dropped the word "posse" in!!! I'm so frecking excited to see how it goes.

More... uhm now?

Love the smart ass jayne stuff. gotta love it

Friday, July 7, 2006 8:29 PM


Major cool beans here, River..Goddess! Though I gotta wonder at Mal calling Zoe "darlin." Can see him using that for Kaylee, River and Inara, but Zoe? Probably would beat him silly for the nerve;)


Tuesday, August 15, 2006 9:18 AM


Woo-hoo! It's very fun. I agree with BEB on the darlin', though, and your Mal speaks a little too clean sometimes.

I am loving the setup with Claire! Must go on to the next...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 2:59 PM


I have to agree on the point of Mal calling Zoe darlin'... that just ain't their relationship.

Also, I notice there isn't as much dialog between Claire and her crew as there is between Mal's crew. I'm wondering if we'd know her crew better if they spoke. I like that she has a team, and if you ever revise, give them a little more dialog. ;)


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From Bad to Worse, chapters 1-10 (COMPLETE)
This is a re-post from before the BSR got hit a few weeks ago.

The story takes place in between ‘The Train Job’ and ‘Bushwhacked.’ According to Inara, there is a three-ish month gap here, so I thought it would be perfect for this little story and its epilogue.

From Bad to Worse, pt 10
Thrilling heroics ensue.

From Bad to Worse, pt 09
Mal, Zoe, and Jayne come to the rescue, and backup from the engine room arrives.

From Bad to Worse, pt 08
Claire is put to the ropes, though the cavalry is on the way.

From Bad to Worse, pt 07
Mal, Jayne, and Zoe make their way back to Serenity, and Claire and her posse run into even more troubles.

From Bad to Worse, pt 06
The fighting is ended for now, though revenge is on more than one person's mind.

From Bad to Worse, pt 05
The feds arrive, a shootout involving the BDHs and Claire's posse ensues.

From Bad to Worse, pt 04
The gold is recovered, and a getaway is planned.

Sailing Beyond the Sunset, pt 17
Several crew members dwell on things past while one reunion is made and a wave from an old aquaintence is received.

From Bad to Worse, pt 03
The crews search the wreckage for their valuable treasure as Wash and Book attempt some thrilling heriocs.