BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JAMESTHEDARK

Legacy 2:23, That Place of Darkness, part 2
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

With the secret in hand, Anne makes a desperate bid to spread the news to the 'Verse. But the Operatives are just as desperate to stop Legacy, and are willing to do anything to destroy her.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1258    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Well, here it is, the season finale. I can't tell you how much work went into this one, to make it the worthy end to a difficult season. I actually had to tear it apart and revise it a few times when I came up with something which made it that much better. This begins exactly where the last one left off (surprise surprise), and wraps everydamnthing up from this season. That's right, when Season 3 hits (coming this fall, everywhere but Fox), you'll have a whole new and entirely different plate of fish to look forward to. It might surprise you to know that I wrote this entire season for one of the last lines that Jacob speaks in this one. You'll know the one when you see it. I have to thank everybody for reading, those that spoke up and those that didn't (both about the same number, coincidentally), my family for putting up with me, and most of all, to Joss, without whom this likely would never have happened. You're the man, Joss. You da man. Feedback: Do I even need to ask? *smirk*

That Place of Darkness, Part 2

She tossed another folder over her shoulder with a growl, her dark eyes scouring the room that she'd broken into almost a decade ago. It would still be here, in this cul-de-sac room, with its rows and rows of information in various medium. Some of the information was useful, most of it wasn't. Some of it she'd already filed away, but it wasn't what she was looking for. Oh, this would go a damn long way in shootin' down the Alliance, but she couldn't find that one silver bullet that would put it down for good. "Where are you, you little pian duan hou zi shi?" Anne swore, as she pulled another file down from the stacks. Of course, the stack was understandably mum. She scanned the file. Like the last few, it was a ledger of financial connections with the Blue Sun Corporation. Not worth her time. She threw this to the ground. "This ain't workin'," she muttered to herself. She took a deep breath. There had to be a way. In the back of her mind, she saw Jacob and that crazy bitch fighting. She saw their bodies collide, and knew that moments later blades would be flickering out in a lethal dance. Like with Atherton, except a hell of a lot less one-sided. She saw her husband, her love, failing slowly. She had to hurry. She had to think. There had to be a way... Her head snapped up as an idea struck her. She ran back to the door, opening it wide and turning off the lights. She ran into the center of the room, smashing her hip on the table which hadn't moved in years. She stifled a curse, then turned toward the nearest wall. She reached up and began pulling down folders at random from those nearest the cieling. Her hunch fulfilled, she flicked on her flashlight. Sitting atop everything was the red plastic shell she vaguely remembered from all those years ago. She squatted down, cracking the thing open quite unkindly, pulling out the data-disc and moving it to the table not too far away. She had just about set it into the player when she saw a shift of human movement behind the desk. Anne's revolver was out in a flash. "Please, don't hurt me!" the woman... girl, actually... pleaded. She couldn't have been more than twenty years old, and likely didn't have an ounce on Anne herself. The frail woman cowered in the crevasse under the desk, at the moment. Anne scowled. This girl worked for the enemy. On the other hand, she likely was about as much a threat as Monday in a donnybrook. She put up her gun. "Get out of here," Anne snarled, and the gangly woman was quick to oblige. The clacking of her heels as she awkwardly made a brake for it filled the otherwise silent halls. Anne rolled her eyes, then stared at the screen as it began to display the schematics that she'd disregarded as unimportant before. Suddenly, it weren't nearly so unimportant. Hell, it was a gorram revelation. "Those sick... twisted hun dahn..." she muttered as the massive structure unfolded before her. It had to be hundreds of miles across, something so large that it could be seen from space. Which was why it was buried underground. How many people had died for this? The number baffled her. Heian Difeng, they'd called it. That place of darkness. <> The smile on her lips was so absolutely malevolent that he would have taken a step back, had he the capability to do so. Unfortunately, with a sword 'twixt his innards, he didn't have much to do except stand there and be in incredible pain. Jane frowned. "That was too easy," she muttered. "Sorry t'disappoint," Jacob grunted. She shook her head. "I thought it would be harder. That you'd pull some sort of..." "Can't take a victory like a pro?" Jacob muttered, and the Operative scowled at him. His questing fingers finally pulled the hilt of the woman's abandoned sword, the one Jacob had pulled from his brother's chest. He jerked his blade up, but felt it slammed back down toward the ground. With an almost comical ping, the blade snapped in twain. "That's more like it," she said, her grip still strong on the blade piercing Jacob's innards. "I just didn't want to have killed you had you not put forth a full effort." "You want a full effort?" Jacob wheezed through the blinding pain. With a roar of a dangerous creature driven mad, he forced his legs into motion, driving the blade deeper into him, and bull-rushing her backward. Her back collided with the shelves, and an almost debilitating shock of purest agony threatened to stave out Jacob's knees. His arm tore through the air, the snapped blade still clutched in its fingers, driving the ruined impliment into Jane's chest. Her grunt of impact was mirrored with a grunt of shock and pain. She stared down, almost disbelieving, at her own sword peircing her flesh. "Do you know what your sin is?" Jacob rasped. Jane grinned, a feral, pain-addled grin, as she leaned forward, until their noses practically touched. "Pride," she answered. Jacob grabbed the hilt of the blade that was impaled through him, and with a mighty, and unbelieveably painful tug, removed it from his chest. As the blade came free, Jane wormed against his weight, trying to free herself from the blade which nailed her to the wall. Jacob wasted no time slamming the blade, still slick and crimson with his vital fluids, into her chest on the opposite side. Jane let out a pained groan, but her grin didn't fade. It became something sublime, transcendent. Her green eyes no longer seemed to focus on the present, staring off into the infinite. Jacob took a step back, surprising himself with the grind of metal against concrete. He flicked the blade up with a toe, since bending down just might have killed him. It was his own weapon, virtually identical to both of hers, except it was still relatively unstained, and still whole. He stared hard at her, and her features, lit celestially by the chemical flare behind him, were distant. "All I wanted was to make a better world," she whispered. "First thing y'ought ask is whether folk want to live in your perfect world," Jacob slurred over gritted teeth. "Y'ain't got the right t'do what you did." "All of them... better worlds..." her voice gave a bit at the last part. "There ain't no room for better worlds," Jacob retorted, testing the edge along his thumb. Good, still sharp. "And folk don't like bein' made into what they ain't. That's why you fail." "I'm on the winning side," Jane whispered, her weight held in place by both of her swords. "Don't mean it's the right one," Jacob completed. He held the blade before him, but her head drooped down until her chin rested on her busom. With a nearly numb hand, he pulled her head up by her hair. The light, fevered and crazed as it was, had already left her eyes. "Na shi na, feng kuang de mu gou," Jacob muttered. Gorram, he was getting tired. "Sir!" a voice came. He couldn't see anymore. Strange, since the flare was still lit. He could hear it burning. Not far away. So cold. "I'm jus' gonna pass out for a min't," Jacob muttered to nobody in particular. Just as he lowered himself to the floor, the incredible pain spreading in waves throughout his body, he felt himself begin to float. He tried to see, but it was so very dark. "Don't worry, sir. I've got you," that voice said. <> Burning pain worked its way up Zane's shoulder from the bullet which clipped him as he tried to drag Sylvia away from her falling point. Her eyes had rolled back in her head, and she was as limp as a polititian before medication. "Zane, you're bleeding," Friday said, spotting the fact that his grey shirt had turned suddenly and inexplicably crimson. "S'just a fleshwound," Zane said, giving the telepath one final tug and settling her next to the twins. Better to leave her here, where the bullets were all stationary and the people were at worst ambivilent. The zinging of bullets flying into the hold made all conversation practically inaudible, and more than once a richochetting bullet spanged back and nearly hit one of the people hiding within. With the senseless woman in as close to safety as could be found on this god-forsaken rock, Zane leapt back behind the sad shelter provided by the stack of crates. "Watch where y'r going," Dan groused as Zane's flight fell short. Of course, the reintroduction with the deck-plating was incredibly painful, so the mechanic didn't bother responding. Dark helmeted heads leaned out from the APCs which were parked at the bottom of the ramp. Zane could almost see the anticipation on their faces. "One thing I haven't figured out," Monday muttered during a lull in the gun-play, "is why they haven't used any artillery." That was a worry all its own. "Could you tell the woman t'shut up? She's damaging my calm," Dan shouted as he unloaded yet another clip toward the Feds, but they ducked back without sustaining so much as a scratch. "Discipline," Zane shouted. Elias leaned against the crates to the mechanic's side, smirking like a cat who just ate the neighbor's budgie. "Don't shoot less'n you're out to hit something, dohn luh ma?" Dan gave Zane a scowl as he tossed the empty clip to the sisters, who tossed him a full one to replace it. Elias looked all manner of smug. "What?" Zane quietly demanded of the dead telepath. "She always was lovely when she was sleeping," the large man said wistfully. "And here I was hopin' you'd have somethin' a touch more useful," Zane groused as he stared down the barrel at the APCs. "Not everything I say has to be groundbreaking or even relevant," Elias pointed out. "Besides, can't I have a little fun every now and again?" "Not when our lives are on the line!" Zane hissed. "That's the very best time," Elias laughed. "Shouldn't you be... I dunno... concerned, that your woman's lyin' there like the dead?" Elias shook his head slowly. "She's not my woman. She never was. I know that now. I wonder if she even knows what's going on in her heart..." "Not relevant!" Zane shouted, his aim jerking to the side and the trigger slamming back. The bullet spanged off a leaning head, knocking the man down, but didn't do any real harm, as the helmet turned the projectile aside. "You're really starting to scare me, Zane," Monday said, halting in her bullet-replacement for a moment until her twin cuffed her in the back of the shoulder and got her going again. "We all die sooner or later, Zane," Elias said, his face taking on a philosophical bent. "Some of us live on through our children, or through our acts. I was never allowed to affect the world, and whatever get they've sired of me'll never know the man who donated half their DNA," he levered himself to a squat, his silver eyes scanning the torn and scattered sod at the foot of the ramp. "For all intents and purposes, I ceased to exist. Except for inside you're admittedly lacking mind." "Lacking?" Zane demanded. "Had I made it one more step, I'd be in a telepath," he noted. "You can't read minds, you can't do any of the dozens of things I learned to do with my gift. Your shortcomings are become my prison." "I'm sorry to disappoint," Zane said as he squeezed off two more shots. The Feds were getting more cautious, and the best he did was take off a man's earlobe. "I'm not bitter. It's better to live on vicariously than to cease to exist entirely," Elias continued. "Maybe you could do something productive, and tell me when they start coming..." the mechanic muttered. "Not possible. I can only act on what you see, hear, or feel. Like I said, limited mind," the telepath replied with a shrug. "I can only inform you of something you can see, but aren't looking at." "Well, that's a lovely thing to inform me of at this precise moment," Zane muttered. "Here they come!" Dan shouted as he began to unload on the grey and purple tide which flowed toward the ramp, secure behind their balistics shields. Zane and Dan opened fire, and the twins huddled together in the corner. Time seemed to slow to a stop as Zane's aim shifted from possible target to possible target. No purchase. No kill shots. Dan let out a cry of pain as a bullet broke his arm. The gun fell from his benumbed hand and he fell back under the crates. Zane's firing continued as they made it to the foot of the ramp, and began to slowly make their way in. He watched in horror as the slide locked back. Out of ammo. Of course, had that been the morning's only disappointment, he'd have leapt with glee. The slug shattering his shoulder screamed catastrophe to the young mechanic. His shattered joint howled with waves of pain, adding to the wound on the back of his other shoulder. Desperate, bloody and with no other choice, he grabbed Dan's neglected weapon with his left hand, and began to fire, fighting nausea and blinding pain all the while. Bang. Lodged into a shield. Bang. Into the wall. Bang. Into the cieling. Bang. Deflected off a helmet. Click. People began to fall dead. Zane thought for a moment that he'd lost his mind. Then the deafening cacophany of rounds tearing through the air struck Zane as odd. Mainly, because nobody, not Zane or Dan, nor the twins, nor even the advancing ranks of Feds were firing anymore. But bullets still fired. And they slammed into the unprotected backs of the purplebellies. A blast of force knocked Zane onto his ass, and a wave of heat filled the ship, and suddenly he couldn't hear anything but an odd ringing. He shook his head, trying to clear it, but only marginally succeeding. When he peeked back over the crates, the mob was turning about in confusion, and there was a crater where the APCs once sat. And hovering directly above that crater was a Firefly. With an odd clarity of vision, he could see a tall, pale form vaulting into a chaingun turret bolted just inside this craft's airlock. Hell, he could see her red eyes, and her smile as the weapon began to belch out hundreds of rounds. He ducked back under the pane of the crates as the shells began to tear the Federals apart. After a maelstrom of fire and ringing, there came an odd silence. The twins leaned around the corner, and Friday made her way into the gap. Zane tried to shout that she should get back inside, but it didn't come out right. The ringing subsided, and the chaingun slowed to a halt. The albino woman hauled herself back to her feet, and strode to the edge of her own ship's ramp. "Tell Casher that he's back to three he owes me!" the woman shouted, holding up three white fingers to punctuate her point. Satisfied, the ship scudded slowly away, moving to the far side of the park. "Who was that?" Zane asked. "Celia. She broke onto the ship while you were comatose," Friday answered, bafflement plain in her voice. "I guess that's why Syl wanted her to live..." <> The sounds of explosions, audible though they were, were muted and muffled. Not surprising, considering how far under the ground she was. But the fact that she could hear them was an unpleasantness she didn't want to have to worry on. Explosions like that could only mean one thing. That somebody had gotten sick of bitty guns and decided to switch over to the big toys. The beam of light her flashlight made was narrow and fitful. As she moved through the sterile halls, she began to wonder if she remembered correctly when she made that turn what seemed like ages ago. She turned another corner and let out a vile and colorful profanity. Dead end. And she'd been so sure this was the way back out. "Can this day get any gorram worse?" she muttered to herself. As if answering her question, the flashlight went completely dead. "Oh, now that ain't even funny!" she yelled. "Is somebody there?" came a man's voice from the darkness. "If you can hear me, come this way. The stairway's collapsed." "Now he tells me," Anne whispered as she carefully stole her way through the blackness. Jacob's sneakiness was beginning to rub off, it seemed. "The elevator's not working, and this bulkhead leads to the emergency shaft," the man continued, as if talking simply to calm himself. "But the door won't open, and I can't fit through the crack to release the door." "And you assume I can?" She muttered sardonically. "You are a woman, aren't you?" the man responded. Anne halted, her skin pebbling. That man had ears like a dog, it seemed. "Your powers of deduction floor me," she said sarcastically, if only to hide her unease, before moving forward again. "Hey, I just meant... You know... You're probably a lot thinner thant I am," the voice continued. Now that she thought on it, the man did sound like he'd packed on more weight than was neccessary in any but a drought-and-starvation situation. She smiled a bit at the image of him fleeing cannibals from Earth-that-was. When the loin-clothed cannibals became peirced-fleshed Reavers, her smile soured quickly. "I might be," she said, then continued forward. The voice wasn't far away now. She could feel a slight change in the air, as if it were actually moving here. She could hear the fat man's nervous breathing nearby, and guessed that the bulkhead in question wasn't far. "Oh, there you are," the man said. "The bulkhead's right over here," the sound of knocked metal drew her toward the wall. "Just on the other side is the emergency release, which makes the thing operate on manual. Flip it and I'll come through." Anne rolled her eyes in the blackness and felt along the cold metal until she reached its edge. She checked the space, and found it distressingly close, even for her. She'd have to hold her breath to get past it. For once, she was thankful she was an A-cup. Anything larger, and she'd likely get wedged. Without word nor warning, she blew out her breath and forced her way through the crevasse. She inhaled deep on the other side. "Alright, now let me through," the man said. She turned, casting a glance over her shoulder, her hand unconsciously moving to her belly, over the life so fragile growing inside. She scowled, and kept on walking. "Hello?" One foot in front of the other, until she turned the corner, and was confronted by a surprising sight. There was a small pool of light where the shaft traversed, but illuminated in that pool was a Federal. She reached for her gun before realizing that the Federal was bent at an extremely odd angle, and was motionless but for the listless swinging of his arm. A gunshot sounded above, then the sounds of a scuffle, with grunting and all the rest. Then, when the grunting halted for a moment, there was a resounding crack and a dark from plummeted down along the ladder which went both up to the surface and down into the sub-basement. The body fell past Anne, heading down the hole directly opposite the one above, and likely passing through the next five, before landing with a dreadful thud. "That'll teach you to shoot at a helpless..." She blinked at the voice from above. "Casher!" she shouted. A dark spot appeared above, a head leaning over the hole. It moved slightly, as if to take her in. "Anne? Thank God, I was afraid I wouldn't find you," Casher shouted down. "Get up here quickly. We need to get back to Legacy." "Where's Jacob?" she shouted, grabbing the ladder. "He's... here," Casher said, hesitantly. Anne almost lost her grip on the ladder. "Talk to me Jacob... Let me hear your voice," she said, hoping the quaver didn't carry to the men above. Silence greeted her. She moved faster. In what seemed like no time at all, she hauled herself up into the better lit room above. Casher was squatting on his heels, looking up above as if trying to ignore her. "Jacob?" she said, looking around. Then she saw him, lashed to Casher's back with some cord and bungies like a pickaback child. His head lolled against Casher's wide shoulders; his skin was deathly pale. "No... no no no no, please." "He's alive," Casher said, his voice unexpectedly hard. It was as if he was falling back into familiar territory. "As long as he's alive, we carry him. Simple as that." "Where's..." "Straight up and we'll be in a hidden shaft running up into the lawn. I don't know much about security, but I know architecture when I see it," he said, his voice clipped and curtailed, as if he was restraining himself from using some sort of lingo, for her sake. Without another word, he began to power up the ladder, hefting her husband as if he weighed no more than a smallish sack of tea. Without any other course, she followed up after him. <> "Report," Casher said as he pounded onto the ramp. The crater outside the ship was singularly impressive, but Anne's attention was focused solely on the passenger the large man had taken to carrying. She hadn't even noticed the knots of ships flying overhead as she sprinted to keep up with the massive man's enormous but casual strides. Friday was already at work, it seemed, putting slings on both of the men. Casher found a bullet riddled crate in his way, so he kicked it aside; it skittered across the entire hold, coming to a halt next to the false fuel tank. Zane, as usual, was the worst damaged of all of them, and yet still the most optimistic. "We're alive and they ain't," the mechanic offered. "How's that for a... What happened to...?" Zane trailed off as Jacob came into view on Casher's back. As if remembering the captain was there, Casher hauled him off, settling him down on the deck, which was already running with blood and other bodily fluids. Casher hadn't even taken his hands away when Friday moved in, giving Jacob the shortest evaluation ever. "Get him into the infirmery, and throw Syl onto the couch. "What happened to Sylvia?" Anne asked. "Took a concussion grenade to the braincase," Daniel muttered. "Miracle all her innards stayed inwards, takin' a blast like that." "Ain't a miracle," Friday countered. She followed as Casher quickly moved him into the infirmery, "It's Syl." "What's the plan, sir?" Casher said, turning down to Anne's comparatively puny form. She frowned a moment. Jacob should be making the decisions. He was the leader, and everybody knew that. Before she could respond, Friday shooed them out, slamming the door behind her as she rolled up her volumnous sleeves and went to work. Anne waited by the door a moment as Jacob's limp form slumped on the table before turning to the massive fellow behind her. "I don't know," she admitted. "I don't know what to do." "Most people don't, in a situation like this," Casher said neutrally. "But these people are depending on you now. With the Captain incapacitated, they're looking to you for leadership," He set a massive hand on her shoulder, engulfing it entirely. His eyes nailed her to her place. "So give them leadership." The small woman swallowed, staring at her striken husband. Then her gaze drifted upward, past the bulkheads, past the sky and into the black well above it. Sure as hell she weren't a leader, but they didn't have a choice. She sighed, taking a step away from Casher, toward the stairs which marched up to the upper portion of the ship. He nodded, then turned back toward the infirmery. "What...?" she began. Casher rolled up his sleeve as he pulled open the door. "Jacob's lost a lot of blood, and it so happens I'm a universal donor," the giant man answered. Anne forced her eyes shut, and made her way briskly up the stairs. Almost in a fugue, she moved forward through the ship. It was almost as if she could navigate its inner passages and chambers blind. It was her home. They were trying to destroy her home. She wasn't gonna stand for that. She strained upward to pull the intercomm down from its lofty perch, activating it as she moved toward her seat. "We're headed up, and things are gonna get more'n a touch rocky. If y'all've got any business needs seein' to, you'd best get it seen done now." Her admittedly short announcement concluded, she powered up the engines and began her rapid ascent into the Black, all of the other Fireflys over New Paris forming up into a tight cluster. <> He raised his head from the panel; it felt like somebody had crammed his cranium full of puff and spun him about a few dozen times for good measure. He shook his head like a stunned dog, waiting several long seconds as his vision coalesced into something that was the slightest bit useful to him. Dark eyes flit about, taking in his surroundings. How in the hell had he gotten here? His chest began to ache. He glanced down, noting that his bandages were now coated in blood. His blood. Some of his stitches must have pulled loose at some point. He scowled, staring at the space battle that he found himself on the edge of. With one calloused hand, he pressed the mostly useless bandage to the insideous wound he'd gotten from that can bao di zui fan, Niska. Laser burns resisted most attempts at recovery, as he had personally learned. With a scowl, he pushed the pain away and let his fingers quest along the rest of his battered form. Unexpectedly, the fingers became wet and sticky and warm. He pulled them away from his forehead, then found a similar splat of blood on the console... Well, wasn't that something. He must have made it all the way to the ALREV before the ship capsized. He vaguely recalled starting the launch sequence... but not a thing more than that. He began to run his nimble hands over the controls, getting the ship back onto a real course. He felt something was amiss, as he worked through several month's worth of old injuries and a few new ones atop them. Something drew his attention, though. From the great green and blue sphere of Bernadette came a swirling mass of movement. He toggled the overlay onto the screen, zooming in on the odd motion. As the image grew increasingly larger, his eyes widened. "Impossible," he muttered. The swarm was a cluster of Firefly class vessels, weaving their way through the maelstrom. One of them, though was quicker, more nimble than all the rest. He could see it, even though it was at the center of the cloud. That one was a paragon of grace and maneuverability, even though the craft seemed every bit as makeshift as any around it. He knew that ship. He'd seen it before. Legacy. The cloud seemed to form to Legacy's movements like a flight of some communal bird, with Legacy moving first, and the rest following suit within seconds. On the one exception, where one did not follow Legacy's lead, the errant craft found its thruster smashed off by a missile that tore right through it without even bothering to explode. The ship spun off, slamming into the armored skin of a ship which was dead in space. The Operative smiled, despite the pain and nausea. The cloud of ships burst apart upon clearing the waning battle, every ship flying in a different direction. But he'd seen what he needed to. He knew where to go, and he could hunt them down. This ship was faster than Legacy, and infinitely better armed. With a grin that would have put his partner 'Jane' to shame, he activated the engines. Klaxon's screamed at him, and he stifled the urge to swear profusely. The engines had taken a hit, and were all but worthless. It would take hours to repair them. He stared at the vanishing shape of Legacy slipping away into the black. Hours... Damn them. <> Anne leaned against the stairs as the ship made its way through the constant black, watching the infirmery despite the painful position the descent forced her into. The door, standing open, let the sounds of the occupants reach her as readily as if she were standing in the room, even though neither of them could see her from her awkward perch. Rasping breaths came from one occupant, soft words from another. Sylvia had her hands on him again. She hated when that yellow-haired chit got grabby, even if the logical part of her brain knew that this was the only way he could be helped. All the surgery in the 'Verse could only delay the inevitable, and even Casher's ready supply of blood was not helping with as much of it pouring back out as went in. So Anne tolerated the telepath's hands. Even as it clawed at her. Sylvia made a grunt of futile frustration and leaned back, raising a hand to the windings around her head. She'd woken up hours after leaving Bernadette, surprised to be alive, and somehow relatively unharmed. When she saw Jacob with a new hole in him, she'd immediately jumped into action... which accounted nothing in the end. Just a lot of pawin' at him and practically screamin' in frustration. "I can't do it," Sylvia sobbed. Jacob grinned, that slow, absent grin he usually displayed when drunk. "You tried," Anne's husband replied. "I don't know why. It just gets harder every time, and now..." she trailed off, her eyes dropping to the floor. Jacob's arm swung out, as if trying to pat her on the shoulder. It missed, drifting too high, and patted against the telepath's cheek. Anne almost rose in a jealous fury as her husband locked eyes with the blonde. "I can't do it," Sylvia whispered, her eyes damp. "Yes," Jacob retorted. "You can." "But..." Jacob smiled. "I believe in you," he said. Sylvia's head jerked up, and her hands flattened against Jacob's wound once more. This time, though, Jacob's back arched upward, and he gasped in a painful breath. Sylvia made an almost identical noise, pushing away after only a few moments, slumping against the cupboards. Jacob winced, quietly regaining his breath, then tilted himself over the edge of the table, unfortunately not finding his balance and collapsing to the floor. This time, Anne did rise, moving to the bottom of the stairs, and from there into the infirmery. Jacob accepted her hand, and let her bring him to his feet. He was chuckling as he made his unsteady stand. "Are you...?" Anne began. "Well enough. How long was I out?" Sylvia made her own way up without any help from Anne, which was just as well, because the smaller woman wasn't about to offer it. Anne took a deep breath. "Almost a day," she answered. Both of them stared at her. "Fei hua," Jacob muttered. "Not so much," his wife countered. "Only reason you're still here is because you've got about three quarts of Casher in you. I can't... You scared the hell out of me, Jacob. I don't want my baby growin' up without a father." "Ain't gonna happen," Jacob chuckled. "I'm too damn ornery t'die," after his chuckle dissolved into a painful sounding wheeze, which thankfully came up un-bloody, he looked back to her. "So, we got a rudder?" Anne nodded, leading her husband up into the galley. The rest of the crew was waiting there, in various states of injury from the previous morning's exploits. Both Zane and Jacob's last living relation were slung and bandaged such that the mechanic damn near looked like a mummy, and Daniel not far short of that. Anne guided him to his seat at the head of the table, then moved back toward the engines, turning at the threshold. "Y'all know me," she began. "We've seen shit t'gether ain't nobody ought t'see. Hell, y'all stuck by me in times what was particular rough, and for that, I conjure I owe all y'all a debt ain't easy to repay. Which makes what I'm about to ask a bit hard to stomach." She stared at the crew, noting their rapt attention. "Our heading is for Shadow, and we'll be there in less than an hour." The twins both sat forward in their respective seats, and Casher crossed his arms over his chest. "Why would we want to go there?" the giant asked. "Everybody knows that world is as dead as the seagull." "I ain't so sure on that," Anne replied. "That planet was bombed all to merry hob, there ain't no denyin' that, but now I know why. We finally got what we need to push the fight to these bungers, 'stead of only bein' able to react. We know the truth, and it's our job... hell, it's our duty as ruttin' human beings to explode that truth onto the 'Verse, where nobody can bury it no more." "What truth?" Jacob asked, his dark eyes seeming to calculate. "You read the schematics, didn't you?" she asked the mechanic. Zane nodded. "It's a building, and by the looks of it, a damn big one. Hell, this thing's bigger than any building I've ever heard off. Should be visible from space, now that I think on it," the mechanic trailed off. Anne nodded. "It would, if it were above ground," Anne confirmed. Casher leaned backward, an odd look on his face. "There are more'n a thousand people in that building. Prisoners, every one of them," she explained. Zane got a dark look on his face as she continued. "Some are legitimate prisoners, criminals and nasties and whatnot, scum of the Alliance. Most others, though, not so much. Those one's crimes range from political activism, teaching the wrong subjects in schools, to just bein' born different from other folk." "Are you saying?" Jacob began. "They're being experimented on," Anne intoned. "The facility on Londinum is a showroom, a place where subjects are taken so bigwigs can visit them at their leisure. This place... Heian Difeng, is the production site. They trained telepaths and tested weapons there. They made telepaths into weapons..." "Like Elias McKenna," Zane muttered. Several heads turned toward him, but he didn't seem to notice. "Like River Tam," Sylvia offered. Anne nodded. "And the Hands of Blue, let's not forget them," Anne said. "This facility used to be run by both the Alliance and the Blue Sun Corporation. God only knows what else they bodged together down in that hellhole." "And we're headed there?" Jacob asked. "Kell's boys are almost a day behind us, and with the falling out betwixt the Feds and the Blue Boys, that place ain't gon' be over well protected," she said, but was interrupted by Monday. "This is reckless. Dangerously reckless." "Nobody said it weren't," Jacob answered. "But if this'll get our lives back into our own hands, by pullin' a Serenity Wave on somethin' which might just galvanize all the former Independant planets together... We've already survived everything the Operatives could throw at us, the Reavers, a crazy mobster and two of his get, as well as a gang of blue gloved hun dahn what wanted Syl for all manner of unpleasant things; that makes us mighty." "You've done the impossible," Anne said softly, making all heads turn back to her. "But now I'm askin' you for just a little bit more. I'm asking for you to see this through... to the end. I'm asking for you to go into that place of darkness and dig out the secrets that they've fought so damn hard to hide. So, do you wanna?" Daniel rose his good hand. "I just got here, but I know full well what they're willing to do. I'm goin' to Shadow." "Same here," Zane said, and was echoed by Casher and Monday. "They were going to send me to that place..." Sylvia whispered, brushing back the errant strands of her hair with a thumb. "They wanted to lock me in that place... I'm going in." Jacob smirked. "Do you really need to ask?" he said as she looked to him. He carefully rose, then scowled and turned to Monday. "What?" the Companion groused. "It's not like I stand much of a chance if I don't." "I'll take that as a whole-hearted hell-yeah," Zane laughed, moving forward in the craft. Anne smiled, feeling hope boil in her stomach for the first time that she could remember. They were so close. "I'm feelin' the desire to see the Black at this moment," Jacob said as Anne took her place at his side. The crew had already begun to filter out to the places they would be found, and she helped him make his way toward the cockpit. She set him down into the rear-most seat, then tried again to put the intercomm back onto its perch. She couldn't reach by a healthy measure, once again making her curse her short stature. Zane helpfully extended the thing up to its position, and she rewarded him with a smile which he recieved with a chuckle. Her only task done, she moved back to her husband's side as the great black-and-sickly-blue ball of Shadow came closer with every passing minute. "Hector," Jacob said. "It's a girl," Anne responded, leaning carefully against him. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and tried to lean toward her belly, but couldn't quite make it. With a wince of pain, he returned to his seat. "My ass it's a girl," Jacob countered. "Still, should have a girls name," she teased. "What, Hector won't work for a girl?" he asked. "Jayne worked plenty well for a man." "I heard that story; his papa was fallin' down drunk when that hulking man ape gone wrong thing got named," she stated flatly. "Fine... Chloe," Jacob offered. "Chloe?" "Somethin' wrong with Chloe?" Jacob said with mock offense. "Actually, no. Chloe. I like it," she said, squirming closer to her husband. "Then it's decided. Chloe if its a girl, and Hector if its a boy." "Ain't gonna be a boy," she muttered. "My ass." The two simply remained close, for a time that seemed to stretch on forever. Zane leaned forward, after pointedly not paying attention to the pained yet amorous couple behind him. "Uh, boss?" he said, his tone rising. "What is it?" Jacob said over her shoulder. "I'm gettin' a damn queer reading coming from our six," he said. "Probably just a shuttle out of Qartuph," Anne muttered. "That's a neg... It's bearing down on us," blue eyes focused on the screens in front of him. "Oh, no..." "What?" Jacob demanded. He was answered when the ship was jerked to the side, and alarm klaxons began to scream. Husband and wife exchanged a startled glance, then Anne vaulted into her seat, her hands soared along the controls she knew well enough to manipulate while under the influence of dead. "That just took out our rear targeting pylon," she said, casting a hot glare to the handicapped mechanic. "I thought you said you repaired that?" "I did," Zane responded, his own good hand reaching about as much as was possible, considering. "Didn't much expect we'd have to fly through a battle twice and take a shot in the ass on top of 'er, though." "So we can't shoot back unless we turn around," Jacob's voice came from behind. She looked back, and he was staring at his own screens. She felt a pang of fear for him. Sylvia's abilities were at best, nowadays, partial. She didn't want to do him any undue harm. But if she did nothing, whoever it was that conjured to shoot them would do all manner of harm. Zane pulled down the 'com. "Passengers, get yourself strapped in. Seems more'n like we're to hit some turbulence. How long until we hit atmo?" Zane unexpectedly asked, this last part not into the 'com. "A few minutes, now," Anne answered. "That ship is an ALREV. Faster than snot on a griddle in space, but all manner of awkward in the air," Zane said as he put the device back. "Full burn us into the upper atmosphere, and we'll see..." he was interrupted as another jolt overtook the ship. "...We'll see how we fare." "If I full burn, I won't be able to stop," she said, even as she twisted the craft into a new heading. "You will," Zane said with a wink. Anne rolled her eyes. "Well, all this is..." another jolt, "...tzao gao, who's piloting that thing? Fine. Hold onto something." The view spun about, pointing ass-first toward the approaching ground. The Black stared back at them through the transparent ablatives in front of her, and she could just about see the form of the craft dogging them. She could much more easily see the paired contrails of missiles screaming toward her. With a clipped shriek, she twisted the craft, even as she activated the engines. One of the deadly impliments missed as the engine pylon lifted out of the way. The other one didn't miss. It exploded not far behind the cockpit, and a shriek of wind began to tear through the ship. "We've got inner breach!" Zane screamed. "Seal it!" Anne shouted back. "Bulkheads ain't closin', that shot must have blown their mechanism," Zane looked up at her. "Less'n we get on the ground real quick, it's gonna get a peck colder in here." "What about that...?" Jacob said, interrupted when the ship jolted again, and there was an odd, loud bang. Anne cast a quick glance backward, noting in anguish that the emergency bulkhead had slammed shut in front of the engine room. Jacob glanced around. "What was that?" "That's the sound of us dying, dear," Anne replied as the ship began to twist and fall sideways into the upper atmosphere. "Anne... Why are we?" "Why is the engine sensor dead?" Zane asked, as unable to see the calamity behind her as her husband. "Because," she began, but then Legacy continued its spin until it was facing the direction it had come from. She then shrugged, and pointed at the rear assembly of Legacy's Pulse-Drive, which was making its own fiery way through the upper atmosphere. About a kilometer above where Anne was sitting, in point of fact. The three occupants of the cockpit stared at it, and the rapidly approaching figure of the ALREV, in silence. During that silence, only one was shocked into stillness, though. "Reserves are at fourty percent," Zane said. "An' that's gonna be goin' down real fast." "Why?" Jacob asked, as the silence changed into a singularly unpleasant howl, and the sound of wind began to rush by the wobbling ship. Zane smirked, pulling down the display for the missile system. Another missile screamed toward the ship, barely missing the cockpit, and slamming into the cargo-bay door. As if prompted by that action, Zane reacted by hammering on the triggers. The missiles flew out as if at random, which was possibly the case, considering that the aiming pylons had been blasted to bits. Several of them slammed into each other before even reaching the now-atmo hindered ALREV. Several others burst near the craft's metal skin, shaking it drastically. The thrumming of ordnance screaming through its launch tube under the cockpit suddenly went silent. Zane threw back a look to the captain. "Very last one," he whispered. Without looking forward, he triggered once more. The missile flew out, several hundred meters behind the pack, which was filling the high atmosphere with shockwaves and shrapnel. The cloud of detritus completely blocked the view of the craft pursuing for a moment, and a ball of fire expanded out of it. Jacob let out a cheer of truimph, which was cut off and transformed into a defeated groan when the sleek fighter burst clear of it. "That's it..." Zane said, his voice slow and dragging. Legacy tossed and turned as it continued its ass-first descent into Shadow's surprisingly robust atmosphere. "We did as much as we could," Anne moaned, dropping her eyes to the deadened panels. "Uh, honey?" Jacob muttered. Anne turned to him, noting that he was pointed at the Black. Her dark eyes went back out to the truimphant craft... and she realized it wasn't so damn triumphant anymore. "Is it s'posed to be doin' that?" Zane asked, as the ALREV began to tumble sideways, waves of heat shearing off its maneouvering flaps. Anne watched in shocked relief, and had almost gotten her brain around a response which would have begun with 'Um, well...' when the thing snapped in half, each portion burning off in its own direction, the rear, with the engines still burning hard, exploding a few seconds later. "Huh," Jacob said, summing up everybody on the cockpits' opinion neatly in a single syllable. There was a moment of silence, then Jacob tried to get Zane's attention. The mechanic, unable to divert his gaze from the black, was not acknowledging. In response, Jacob kicked off his boot, landing it directly into the back of Zane's head. "Ow, what the hell?" Zane shouted. "Had to get your attention," Jacob answered. "What's the reserve at?" "Twelve percent. Firin' off them missiles drained us pretty damn far." Anne scowled. "We've got a twenty second burn in us, but not a jot more," she explained. "Can you get us on the ground?" Jacob asked. "Pretty definitely," she muttered. "An' if we're especially lucky, it'll be in less than three pieces. Three minutes to the ground. Those were the longest three minutes of her life. If she could have, she'd have spent them with Jacob. With the blasted surface rising up to meet them from a direction she could not see, with the wind of their passage blasting through the ship from its crippling breaches, with everything she wanted to say and do, she only had one regret. That she'd never meet her own child. She clenched her teeth so she wouldn't bite off her tongue, and slammed on the thrusters. The deceleration was brutal, without the gravity drive to mitigate it in the slightest. And as unpleasant as that was, the next jolt was a thousant times worse. Darkness fell over everything. <> For just an instant, Jacob was fairly sure he was dead. The next instant, though, he'd decided better on it. Now, he wished that he was dead. It would certainly be an improvement over the way his head felt. He tried to raise his head, and failed the first attempt, smacking it back down onto the kitchen table. How'd he get on the kitchen table? How much did he drink last night? No... it wasn't a hangover. He knew that with a great amount of surety, because Anne wasn't sleeping on his back. How he managed to find himself on the table was still something of a mystery. And why it was so wet. And cold. And windy. Windy? The sound of howling wind puzzled him to no end. And the wetness. And the slantyness. He tried rolling over, and succeeded a lot more quickly than he expected, falling onto the floor, and rolling down into a pool. He sputtered and spat out the breath full of water he'd managed to inhale, then looked around. Upon doing so, he realized why it was so cold, windy, and wet. Most of the cieling was gone. He sat back, blinking in shock. He picked himself up, flicking away the wet which would not come off for anything. He looked back up. Air. Didn't those old reports say that the atmosphere on Shadow got oxidized, blasted out into space? And the rain didn't feel particularly acid-y or poisonous. Something sure as hell weren't right. Anne. Oh, hell, Anne. "Anne, where are you?" "Right here, hon," she said, turning the corner from the engine-side stairway. She was soaked through, several layers of his shirts plastered to her slender form. And she was completely alright. "What...?" "We crashed, and Legacy's... well, she's not flyin'. But we are. We're still here," she said, pulling him behind her as she went down into the lower deck. He shook again once he was back in a place where there wasn't rain a-fallin', staring sadly at the bulkhead still slammed shut in front of the engine room. Or rather, the almost-room where the engine used to be. Hell, it must be spread out over a quarter of the continent, by now. "Where are the rest of them?" Jacob asked as he descended the stairs. She nodded toward the infirmery, where the twins were dealing with Daniel. Friday spared him a glance, then went back to working on Daniel's right arm. Again, it seemed. "Broke the arm again when we crashed. It'll be months before that thing's sorted out," Anne muttered, as if to herself. "Where's Casher, and Syl?" he asked. "Or Zane, for that matter?" "They went out. Didn't want to have to wait until you came around to make for Heian Difeng. Weird as it sounds, Zane actually led 'em straight to the shafts. Like he knew right where they was," she responded, taking him past the infirmery, and toward where Jacob's heart fell for the second time since he woke up in a puddle. The front of the cargo hold was blackened and twisted, one of the airlock doors laying in the middle of the hold. Jacob sighed as he walked around it. "We'd best be after them. Where was this place of darkness anyway?" "It's under what used t'be Canterberry," she said. Jacob stared at her. "Those bastards buried that thing under Shadow's capital?" he asked, as he stepped past the former threshold of the inner airlock. "And the Alliance killed almost a billion people to keep it from fallin' into Independant hands." Jacob hopped down onto the blasted turf, his longish hair being whipped about his face as the wind caught it and dragged. He conjured that on this blackrock, wind fell from the mountains, blew cold and constant, without so much as a sausage to slow it down, until it hit another mountain. The driving rain blasted him a moment, then stopped entirely. He looked up, as the clouds were hurled almost too swiftly through the sky. Then the setting sun came out, red against the black horizon. Jacob looked up at the thruster. It was still spinning. "Why's that..." he managed to get out before he was interrupted. By a sharp looking sword darting over his shoulder. Jacob didn't even realize that he was moving when he caught the arm, twisting the blade away from lancing his wife, and took it in both hands. A blackened face appeared, eyes wide enough to see the whites around equally black pupils. Jacob twisted, and the blade flew out of the man's left hand, flying through the air, until it got caught in Legacy's intake and got dragged into the engine with a thin ping over the wind. Jacob felt a tugging sensation, then the man took a step back, pointing Jacob's own Mauser at Anne. Jacob stepped in front of his weapon. "You're making a mistake if you think that will stop me," John's voice came out of that ruined face. The Operative panted, his chest showing a number of bleeding wounds, some new, some very old, but not healed well. With every breath, a streamer of blood frothed on John's lips, dribbling down his chin and onto the soaked dirt. His right arm bent upward in an unnatural angle at an unnatural place. And Jacob's Mauser trembled only slightly in the man's grasp. "Not stop," Jacob said. Something was off, he realized. He couldn't figure out what it was, but there was something about this situation he was missing. "But bullets are slaves to velocity. The velocity of that bullet will be halved just blowing its way through my ribs, and more'n like deflected too. The first bullet will miss. And that's all I can hope for." John panted. His left eye was almost swollen shut as he tried to glance around Jacob, trying to get an angle on his wife. What was it Jacob had forgotten. "I will..." John said, then dissolved into bloody, frothing coughing. Jacob made a grab for his gun, but John danced back a step, keeping the gun leveled through Jacob at Anne. "You'll what?" Jacob taunted. What the hell was it? It was so close, he could almost taste it. "You will be the first... to die. Then her..." It was right then that Jacob remembered what was so off about this situation. He had to restrain himself to not burst out in laughter. Jacob took a step forward, slowly, letting the barrel press against his solar plexus. "You know what I think?" Jacob said, a cold smile spreading on his face. "I know you don't have what it takes to kill me." Now, it was John's turn to laugh, a bloody adventure which left red flecks temporarily on Jacob's chest before they seeped into the soaked fabric. "I've endured things you couldn't imagine, seen things you wouldn't believe, just to be in this place, at this time. As you no doubt noticed, I have no compunctions whatsoever to ending your lives." Jacob shook his head. "No, no no no no," he chided. "I meant, you don't have what you need to kill me," he smiled. John snarled, and Jacob watched as the hammer rose and fell. A click flew into the air, getting swallowed quickly by the wind. "Because I never got around to reloading my gun," Jacob finished, punctuating it with a left hook directly into the Operative's already broken nose, driving him back as Jacob's right snatched back his pistol. The Operative laid back, in the mud, trying to regain his feet. His hand went to his sword, still strapped to his back, but had a hard time pulling it with his off-hand. His endeavor was cut short when Anne's boot slammed down on his, hand, kicking it to a side, and lowering a long, black barrel at the limb. A loud bang sounded, deadened only somewhat by the wail of the wind. Anne hefted the shotgun back onto her shoulder, as John writhed in the mud, blood pouring out of his now amputated stump. Jacob stared at his wife, and she stared back. He gave her a 'what the hell?' look, and she smirked, an odd thing to do considering the blood on his boots. "He wanted to hurt my baby. So he..." "Wait," Jacob said, moving between his wife and the Operative floundering in the mud. Jacob twisted his fingers into the government man's hair, tilting the head back and staring down at him. "All you wanted was a better world, eh? A world without sin. And all your acts of monstrosity, you don't even grasp the irony in that you're destroying everything you claim to work toward." Jacob let out a bitter laugh, standing and sweeping his arms out around him. "Do you want to see your better world!?" he roared into the wind. "You want to see... a world without sin!? Well, here it is!!!" Jacob's arms fell wetly to his sides. His voice gave out a bit, and when he continued, his voice cracked a bit. "Here it is... Isn't it... glorious?" "Jacob," Anne began. "What?" "What in the sphinter a' hell happened here?" Sylvia voice came over the wind. He turned back to her, and started a bit at the metal monstrosity she was standing in front of. The thing hovered a few feet off the ground, and looked like it could drive straight through a building. Hell, it looked like it wanted to. "Just takin' care of a loose end," Anne said, lowering the shotgun again. "No," Jacob said. "Let him live. When they find him, it'll make 'em think twice about sendin' anybody else after us. He'll be the message, starved and wasted away, and maybe they'll cotton t'that anybody comes after us is lookin' to be made a corpse of." "That's... kinda brutal, boss," Zane said, leaning over the side of the intimidating hover Mule. "One thing," Jacob said. "Where the hell did that come from?" Casher answered, swinging down to the ground with a squelch that could be heard all the way to the ship. The man's boots damn near made craters. "I can answer that one, sir," he said. "As we headed out Zane's way, some folk out of old Canterberry decided to visit some ugly on us." "And they...?" Jacob asked. "...didn't give this up willingly, sir," Casher said with a smirk. The smirk faded, though, as he looked into the ship. "Best get the twins and the kid. We're going to have to hit Canterberry soon. Security's a joke, which serves us well, since there's a nasty storm coming. Mule won't run too fast with eight, but it's a damn sight better than walking, sir." Anne scowled at John, pausing only long enough to shoot him again, this time taking off one of his feet, before finally tossing her weapon to Syl and heading into the craft for the twins. Jacob walked up to the belly of the ship, reaching out his hand and resting it on the blackened metal. She'd flown as far as she could, tried her damndest to deliver them from evil, even though it killed her. "I'll come back for you," he promised quietly. "I swear it." "Jacob, no time to waste," Syl said, vaulting back up onto the Mule. "The storm's a-comin'." Jacob slid his pistol, which hung for a damn long time in his hand, back into his holster and dragged himself up onto the craft. It was a lot less painful, now that Syl worked her magic. A few moments later, Anne crawled up, and deposited herself on his lap, ostensibly to save seats. Jacob didn't even notice if the others got on, nor did he particularly care, at the moment. He stared into smiling brown eyes. "We did it," she said. "Yup, we sure did," he smiled. His hand ran down the flattened mass of her short hair. It almost reached just past her jaw, now, since she hadn't gotten time for a haircut in months. "You're gon' need to visit a barber soon," he noted. Anne reached up, her eyes closed as she pulled herself closer to him, and toyed with a soggy strand. "You know, I'm thinkin' about lettin' it grow," she murmured, as the craft began to move. <> Thunder played above him as he crawled. Pain was the only thing keeping him alive. He realized this as he dragged himself by one arm which ended just above the elbow, with another broken nearly in the same place, and pushing off with one stump of a foot. They underestimated him. He would survive. He would recover, and he would be after them again. Nothing could stop him. He was so close. He could smell her... smell... her. Thunder illuminated a figure standing not far before him. John's eyes didn't catch anything but a silhouette before the flash faded. He crawled further. It didn't really matter where he went, so this direction was as good as any other. He just had to keep moving. Keep the pain, so his mind would stay focused. He drew closer, and the lightning flashed again. Again, only a silhouette. "He is naive," came that so familiar voice. It was Prion, the greatest of them. When John had been training, it had been Prion who directed the tests. John knew that voice better than he knew his own. Prion had vanished several years ago, but most simply believed he had gone into a deep mission for the Alliance. What was he doing here?" "What?" John said, with difficulty. "Jacob, he is naive," Prion continued. Lightning flashed, and this time the shape was kneeled toward the ground. "He does not understand how much we are trained to endure, how much more punishment our bodies can take, compared to theirs'. Moreover, he assumes that you have no particular interest in this mission over others." "I..." John attempted. "He does not know that you, Ishmael, are obsessed. The one which got away. You lust for her. You want to have her, and the only way you know... the only way I trained you... to possess her, is to destroy her," John got the impression that Prion shook his head slowly, since there was a long pause before the soft, careful voice continued. "You could... finish..." "I?" Prion asked. "Oh, no. Damage done, this mission for you is over," he chuckled. "They have already entered that place of darkness we have created. In a few hours, everyone in the 'Verse will know why we started that war, why we destroyed an entire planet. And they will be galvanized." "We... will beat..." Prion chuckled again. "Last time, they were, as the name suggested, Independants. A group of scattered and dissonant fighters, each fighting their own private wars on their own private borders. Only a handful of units actually moved with the war. Like, for point of example, the 57th Overlanders," was that a hint of pride in the man called Prion's voice? "No, that was a war against a group of individuals, who only fought together because it was expediant. What you have done is forced a secret out into the open, and that secret will bring those individuals into a solidified whole." "The war... is... over," John sputtered. "I think, Ishmael, that this war is only begun. Kell struck the first blow. Soon, things will be getting very difficult for the Alliance, I think." "Then... help..." "I once believed in a perfect world," Prion suddenly interrupted. "I believed in a world without sin. And that I was a monster that would bring it about. But it was shown to me... dragged kicking and screaming through my thick skull, you might say... that any world that requires monsters to create will be monsterous in nature. I lost my faith in the perfect world, and have since learned that the imperfect one is all that we ever truly need." "What are you...?" "And I would not have it any other way," Prion said with finality. Lightning struck again, a series of flashes which lit up Prion for several seconds as the bolts rained around. John's eyes widened first at the white collar ringing the master Operative's dark neck, then at the spectacles on his nose, and lastly, and most deservedly, for the beaten brown duster which rested almost naturally on the man's shoulders. "You..." "I must commend you," Prion said, with a sound of metal ringing against the storm. "If you hadn't have clung to this silly quest of yours, you would never have forced young miss Greyson to remember that secret, and it would have simply been forgotten. Due to your actions, the Alliance, as it stands, will fall. What comes after is no concern of mine. Oh, and while Jacob might be naive," Prion said, his voice deepening a bit. "I am not." Lightning flashed once more, as steel flashed down from the former Operative in the brown coat, framing the last sight the man called John would ever see. <> If everyone cared and nobody cried, if everyone loved and nobody lied, If everyone shared and swallowed their pride, then we'd see the day when nobody died. And I'm singing, amen; I'm alive...

COMMENTS

Friday, August 4, 2006 8:03 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Tian Yesu...now that was one hell of a f-ing ending, JtD! You definitely have knack for ending with a moment that instills a "Holy shit! Did you see that?!?!" vibe in people:D

So...Shadow's got tapped for the true Academy, huh? And the Alliance bombed her back to supposed blackrock to protect that secret? Oh...please tell me that Mal's righteous fury at his former home being perverted like this will be shown in the next season! Please?

BEB


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