BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

YOSAFFBRIG

Shiny Relics
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

While trying desperately to escape, Serenity’s crew find out first hand the similarities between their own ‘verse and the myths of Earth-that-Was. (Adventure/General Fanfic, Rated PG for overall subject matter and colorful language)


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 4892    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Synopsis: While trying desperately to escape, Serenity’s crew find out first hand the similarities between their own ‘verse and the myths of Earth-that-Was.

Disclaimer: This story was written just for fun and is not an attempt to make money or infringe on any copyrights or trademarks belonging to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox or Universal. No disrespect is intended; imitation is the truest form of flattery.

This story is a work of general fanfiction. It is rated PG for overall subject matter only. **Feedback is greatly encouraged** (Posted August 2006)

Shiny Relics By Kessa (YoSaffBrig)

A jolt ripped through the ship. Crew and personal effects went flying as Serenity rolled and tumbled through space like there was no up or down. The cosmic freefall seemed to go on forever but truly lasted less than a minute. The ship’s gravity system was still intact so once she slowed down and stillness replaced all the crashing and banging, the crew and their belongings were strewn everywhere.

The pilot’s frazzled voice came in warbled over Serenity’s intercom, “Captain, could I, um, have a word with you up here, if you think you have a moment, that is.”

Captain Malcolm Reynolds dashed up the ladder from his bunk and flew through the corridors of his beloved ship towards the cockpit. His First in Command, Zoe, wanting to be fully informed, met her captain at the cockpit’s entry.

They walked through the door together to encounter a disheveled pilot, strapped into his chair and frantically pushing buttons.

“Would you piece of fei-oo give me a reading?” Wash berated the console in front of him.

“This isn’t one of your best flying maneuvers, Dear” Zoe sarcastically chided her husband.

The pilot responded with a grimace and a deep intake of breath unsuccessfully trying to relax. He continued his frenetic activity.

Mal noticed the panic in his pilot’s response, “What the hell just happened, Wash?”

“Near as I can tell, while we were locked into Fast Burn, we bounced too close to an unchartered star going supernova. The blast sent us through space at speeds more then twice as fast as our engines alone could carry us. I’m just glad we’re still intact but I have no tzao gao idea where we are, Capt’n.”

“No idea, whatsoever?” The Captain’s voice rose to a yell, “Ain’t that gorammit computer ‘spose to tell you that kinda thing?”

“Capt’n, the computer data is based on the triangulation of star positions. Parts of the Rim aren’t entirely mapped out and our NavCom just isn’t as up to date as we need it to be. We could be any number of places in the ‘verse but without a complete star chart, our navigational system is dead in the water. Not to mention that tearing through space at the speeds we did could have done any number of wacky things to the system.” Replied the pilot.

“Well figure it out, Wash, I wanna know where the hell we are, and now! Got it?” The Captain’s agitation increased.

“Here, wait, … Dung ee-miao…would you just steady already?” Wash scolded the console screen in front of him in an attempt to get the rolling images to stabilize, “yeah, okay, …stars don’t quite match up but it looks like instruments are putting us in the Prime Sector.”

“That can’t be right.” Murmured Zoe.

“Ain’t nothin’ worth anything in that sector anymore. Earth-That-Was is long gone; nothin’ else around ‘cept for some gas giants.” Remarked the Captain.

“Capt’n, that’s not what I’m reading.” Wash busied himself with a few more buttons and a radar screen of the area flashed a hazy blue in front of them. “There, the third planet,” Wash tapped on the glass, “Thermal sensors are reading an abundance of life forms.”

Zoe bent down and got in close to her husband, “That’s impossible, isn’t it?”

“Well, impossible or not, ship’s been through the ringer and we may have need to set her down to make repairs.” Mal rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “A breathable planet would make patch-ups less complicated. Head in and try to survey a good spot to put her down but don’t break atmo ‘til I talk to Kaylee. I don’t want to be doin’ nothin’ stupid ‘less’n we hafta.”

“’Kay…Capt’n. At current speed, we should get a clear visual of the planet in about… two hours. So, um, honey,” he turned to look at Zoe who had taken up the First in Command’s stance next to the Captain, “what’s say you come back here in a bit to keep your loving hubby company?” Zoe gave him a questioning glance, “…and so I don’t have to be the only one on the ship staring at the spooky planet that shouldn’t be there.”

“We don’t know for sure that’s what it is, dear. Could just be our instruments are off and we’re not where we think we are.” She offered.

“Yeah, well, you come back and just keep telling me things like that. Have I mentioned how much I love to hear your sultry voice?”

Zoe raised an eyebrow at her spouse as the Captain interrupted the couple’s moment, “Zoe, let’s you and me go find Kaylee and see how Serenity’s farin’.”

* * * * * *

Kaylee was already busy in the engine room trying to make all the inside repairs when the Captain and Zoe walked in.

“How’s she lookin’, mei mei?” Mal leaned in close to her as though he was asking about a sick family member.

“Her innards ain’t too bad, Cap’n.” Kaylee looked up at the Captain, her face smeared with grease. She wiped oil from her hands onto her jumpsuit as she reached for a wrench. “She broke her aft compression coil and a few of her gaskets blew out when our acceleration went all haywire but I can replace ‘em within the hour. It’s her outsides I’m worried about, Cap’n. Whatever is was that hit us, did it hard enough to have surely compromised her hull in more than a few places …but I won’t know how bad ‘til I can get out there and take a look.”

“What done the hittin’ was shockwaves from a supernova. Seems to have sent us clear ‘cross the ‘verse.” Kaylee’s face was back inside Serenity and his words seemed to have little affect on the otherwise occupied mechanic.

He looked at Zoe a moment and then directed his query back to Kaylee, “We’re comin’ up on a breathable planet, Kaylee, you gonna want us to set her down for repairs?”

Kaylee continued to work, “You askin’ me, Cap’n?”

“I’m askin’.” He replied earnestly.

“Give me a bit to fix what’s in here and then I’ll put a suit on and check her outsides. I don’t think it’d be a good idea to try to land her without knowing if’n she can even take entry into atmo.”

“Fair ‘nough. You let me know when you’re ready and I’ll have Jayne suit up to help you out there.”

Kaylee raised her hand in understanding but still had her head inside the machinery. Mal motioned for Zoe to follow him. They both strode through the corridors of Serenity heading towards the most popular meeting place for the crew, the galley.

They found Shepard Book already in the galley taking it upon himself to clean the mess the shockwaves had bestowed on the stocked kitchen. He looked up expectantly at the Captain and Zoe as Mal hit the galley intercom unit.

“Listen up, people. Everyone but Wash and Kaylee report to the galley, pronto.”

Shepard finished sweeping ceramic mug pieces into a dustpan, dumped them into the trash and sat at the long wooden table that served as a central meeting place for the family of Serenity. Zoe and Mal took their places at each of the table’s heads and waited for the rest to join them.

Soon Jayne saddled up to the table followed by Simon Tam and his sister, River. Then, Inara arrived. Still beautiful, she looked a little less put together than usual. Mal figured that the shuttle where she bunked had suffered some of the worst of the fallout from the supernova since her décor was adorned with an abundance of luxury items.

“Okay folks” Mal held up his hand to get everyone’s attention. “Glad to see no one’s been hurt. As you’ve all prob’ly guessed, we’ve hit a snag, so to speak. Shockwaves from a star gone supernova sent us clean ‘cross the verse. Ain’t really sure where we’re at right now but Wash is workin’ on it. Kaylee says ship’s inside damage is minimal but she still needs to suit up and check the hull. Jayne, when she’s ready, I want you to suit up and give her a hand.”

“But Mal, she’s always gittin’ all flustered at me whenever I try helpin’ out.”

“Just pay ‘tention to her when she’s askin’ it of you, Jayne. I need you out there with her.”

Jayne nodded and grunted in hesitant agreement.

“Everyone else, for the next coupl’a hours if you can help out to right what’s upended ‘round the boat, I’d surely appreciate it.” Mal looked over to Book in gratitude, “Thanks, Shepherd, for startin’ in on the galley. I guess cleanliness is the next best thing, so they say.”

“Just doing my part, Captain.” Book addressed the rest of the crew, “I’d just assume finish what I’ve started and tidy up the rest of it here.”

Mal continued his speech, “And once Wash, Zoe, Kaylee and me figure out what’s goin’ on, I’ll get you all up to speed.”

“Mal, what aren’t you telling us?” Inara asked, reading the Captain like he was one of her clients.

“Blue….green…..shiny……they don’t know….will never now…..too young…..much too young….”

“River, sshh, the Captain’s still talking.” Simon tried to pacify his sister.

“Didn’t want to alarm no one ‘til we had it all figgered out.”

“Had what figured out, Mal?” Inara asked again.

Navigation system is actin’ a bit screwy. Been saying we’re in the Prime Sector.”

“Ain’t nothin’ nowhere near there but for some gorram gas giants. How we ‘spose to make repairs?” Jayne piped up.

“Well, that’d be where the confusion comes in. Seems there’s a breathable planet just in front of us. We’re on a course for it now.” Replied the Captain.

“But then how can we be in Prime Sector if we’re picking up readings of a habitable planet,” Simon spoke up.

“Much, much too young...feeling old…indefinite and continuous duration …sequential…amalgamating.” Continued River.

Mal looked at Simon and then the others, “That’d be the question of the hour, Doctor.”

He nodded towards Zoe, “I’ll meet you in the cockpit in two hours.”

* * * * * *

Wash winced, taking a sip from his mug of cold coffee as he tried to relax for the first time in an hour. He figured he must have hit every button and turned every lever he had in the cockpit. The communication unit was scanning any type of radio waves coming from the planet in front of him and the viewing monitor was focused toward the planet.

The planet wasn’t visible yet but he expected it to come into full view as soon as they cleared its moon. So far the only sounds that had crossed the communication unit were garbled and varied fragments. He hadn’t been able to grab onto anything really useful yet but he continued to fidget with the unit’s controls.

He had checked and rechecked the navigational system by running every diagnostic he could and it continued to spit out Prime Sector as their location.

He had also called Prime Sector up on the computer and familiarized himself with the stars and planets that should be in the area if this was their actual location. Looking out of the viewport with his own eyes, his pilot’s intuition had shuddered with the sinking feeling that the navigational system was indeed right.

Just then Zoe entered the cockpit and the room lit up once again with life.

“Slacking on the job again, dear?” Zoe queried sardonically as she handed her husband a new mug full of fresher, much hotter coffee.

“You know me, Sweetie, that’s why I picked piloting as a career…it’s such a boring occupation. Nothing interesting ever happens in space.” He took a sip of his coffee and burned his lip.

Zoe pulled up a stool and sat down next to the pilot’s chair. “Find anything?”

“Maybe, but if I say it out loud it might actually be true so I’d prefer to not talk about it if it’s all the same to you.”

“Out with it, or I’ll hurt you…” Wash raised an eyebrow with eager expectancy as Zoe smiled and shook a finger at him already prepared for his predictable response.

“Look it here….” Wash became serious as he opened the computer file he’d been studying on the Prime Sector. He cross-referenced it with the information Serenity’s scanners had collected of their general vicinity. “All of the stars and planets match up…all of them….except that third one.”

“Earth-that-Was?” Zoe whispered, “but how can that be?”

“Well, we got slammed ‘round pretty hard by the supernova. Speeds we were going aren’t like anything Serenity’s done before. Personally, I always thought the theory bogus but there are those that think if you get going fast enough, you can actually go forward or backward in time.”

“You don’t think?” Zoe looked concerned.

“I’d prefer not to believe it’s possible. I’ve been trying to pick up something good on the comm, something that might give us some sort of definitive answer.” He fiddled with the controls again and they heard music.

“Someone sending musical messages?” Zoe wondered.

“Probably just some errant radio waves...but it might give us a clue as to what we’re dealing with.”

The couple listened as the comm finished playing a slow melody neither of them had ever heard before.

“Kinda nice.” Wash piped up to break the silence but all he got was a shrug from his wife, “…. I mean, nice in a sugar-coated pa chong dong wu kind of way.” He rolled his eyes to shield his almost-sweet comment from her tough exterior.

Zoe pointed to the comm with zeal as a voice boomed over it, “Welcome back, you’re listening to Love’s Greatest Hits. For those of you who took that stroll down Lover’s Lane twenty-five years ago, next up is the number one love song from 1980.

Zoe winced as cheesy music filled the air.

Wash did the math quickly in his head, “That would make the local date 2005.”

Zoe reached for the comm unit’s controls and began to play with them.

Wash feigned indignant, “Hey, that’s my job, your job is looking all tough and stuff, my job is to play with the buttons, get it straight, will ya’.”

Zoe ignored her husband’s comments as she scanned for some other sound byte. Just then, the ship began clearing the moon and the planet they’d been waiting to see loomed a beautiful blue and green in the viewport in front of them. They were both awestruck.

“It’s beautiful.” Zoe gasped.

“Everything myths and legends are made of.” Wash remarked.

He quickly fidgeted with a few more controls and the planet’s image zoomed even tighter into their field of vision.

“So, like the captain said, we should try to find a good place for us to lay her down if we have to.” She offered.

From this distance they could only see the side of the planet that faced them. There appeared to be a large continent with differentiating grades of topography. They decided that a drop somewhere in the middle of the landmass into a mountainous area might be the most tactful place to land. Wash scanned an image of the planet’s surface into the computer and superimposed a grid-system over it to record landing coordinates for their chosen location.

Just then Mal stepped into the cockpit. “So, you two, what d’we got?”

“Do you want the good news or the bad news, Sir.” Asked Zoe

“Brighten my day before you crash and burn it...it’s always a heap more fun that way.”

“The planet is habitable and we found what might be a discreet place to put her down…”

The captain waved her on.

“But…all indications are leading us to believe that we’ve somehow managed to end up sometime in the past, Sir.”

“What’dya mean past? I’ve had enough of my past, Zoe, I don’t wanna be findin’ out I gotta fight the same battles I already fought knowing for sure I’m going to get the Fei-oo kicked out of me.”

“Capt’n, we’re talking a little more past then that.” Wash took over where Zoe left off, “Seems like we just may have time-slipped back…way back…. about five-hundred years back into our past …or rather Earth-That-Was’s past, I mean, …Earth-That-Is’s past.” He slowed his speech down to question the sound of his own words.

“Wash, this ain’t science fiction.”

“It is to them.” He pointed to the blue and green planet taking up the entire view in front of them.

Zoe stood next to her husband as she had for the last hour while they scanned data together. “Sir, he’s right. Everything he said seems to be true. The navigational system puts us in Prime Sector and radio transmissions we’ve intercepted seem to collaborate it. We’re looking at Earth, Sir, probably the year 2005.”

“Hmm, uh...hmm...well, I talked to Kaylee and she says she needs to make several repairs to the hull so, I guess we take Serenity in but…um…hmm…uh, Wash, …be careful.”

“He always is, Sir.” Zoe stood up and kissed the top of her husband’s head. She glanced a supportive-yet-be-cautious look at him before following the Captain out of the cockpit leaving her spouse behind and all alone.

Wash leaned back in his chair and stared apprehensively at the looming planet in front of him. He murmured quietly to himself as he lifted his mug of coffee to his lips, “and we will call this land…This Land.”

* * * * * *

Mal hit the intercom and called the crew to once again meet him in the galley. Kaylee, Jayne, and Book arrived simultaneously, then Inara. Simon and River came in last.

“Seems we got a bit of a situation on our hands. If’n any of you have any ideas whilst we’re discussin’, speak your mind. First all, like I said before, there’s a planet out there with atmo which, ‘ccordin’ t’ Kaylee, we’re gonna hafta’ land on in order to make repairs, otherwise our hull ain’t gonna last long ‘nough to get us back to anywhere. Second all, looks like that planet out there just may be Earth-That-Was. Guess’n that would make it Earth-That-Is. We figure, somehow, we’ve ended up about five-hundred years into our past. Third all, once we done made repairs, how in all of jian ta de gui do we make it back to our piece of the ‘verse. Any of you have thoughts…just jump right in.”

The group looked around at each other speechless. It took a few moments to let their situation sink in.

Simon spoke up first, “If all this is true, are we sure then that it’s okay to land our ship down there. What if we were to mess something up, I mean historically.”

“I reckon’ I don’t really care, son. We’re stuck here, now, and if messin’ with history is the only way to get back, well, I guess I’m willin’ to risk changin’ a few things. Never liked the way things were all that much anyway.”

“Take me only a coupla’ days topside to fix her up right, but then how we gonna get back Cap’n?” Kaylee asked worriedly.

“Don’t know for sure yet, Kaylee.”

”Theoretical time-space anomalies…gravitational rifts in space...dizzying…”

“River” Simon started to quiet his sister but Mal put up a finger as though she might be on to something.

“Zoe, get your husband on the intercom.”

Zoe went over to the unit and patched him through.

“Wash?” The Captain called out.

“Yes, Captain?”

“What’dya know about black holes…?”

River started shaking her head violently and Mal mimicked her realizing he was on the wrong track.”

“Wormholes?” He asked of Wash but looked in her direction. She nodded and he copied her response again without thinking, “Yeah, what do you know about wormholes?”

“Only theory Capt’n, why?” Wash answered puzzled.

“Seems we got one vote for wormholes bein’ a possible way back.”

Jayne grumbled aloud, “A vote from crazy girl? We’re going with a crazy-girl idea? Great, we are doomed.”

“I’d figure if it could be done it would have been done before,” Wash answered the Captain, “but I’ll read up on the theory, check charts for any possible wormholes in the vicinity and do some calculations to see if anything looks sound enough to try.”

“Sound or not, Wash, we ain’t got many options so just keep that in mind. Personally, I’d rather give somethin’ a go rather than nothin’ at all.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Captain.”

“Kaylee, once Serenity’s fixed, could she reach the same speeds she did that got her broke in the first place?”

“She ain’t meant for it, Cap’n, but I could keep her together if need be.”

“That’s my girl!” Replied the Captain proudly.

“Okay, now about going planet side. I’m thinkin’ we wanna have some sort of plan with backup since we don’t know what we’re gonna run into down there.”

“But Captain, if it is Earth-That Was, five-hundred years ago, they’d barely even have rocket capabilities.” Jayne added into the discussion.

“Yeah, well they still got guns and that’s good ‘nough for me.”

“So, what did you have in mind?” Inquired Book.

“I’m thinkin’ we split up, that way, if we see trouble, we’ll have an ace in the hole. I’m suggestin’ Book, Doc, and River go with Inara in her shuttle and hide out around the planet’s moon. It would be tight for a few days but it’s got a small galley and right ‘nough cushions for a whole army of Browncoats so I’m sure you could all make do.” Inara glared at him as Mal continued, “The shuttle would be in close radio contact with Serenity at all times and we’d rendezvous back at your location if all goes smooth.”

“And if’n it don’t?” Asked Jayne.

“Well, then we get message to them and they come bail us out.” Answered the Captain.

“Why us, Captain?” Simon spoke up.

“Book, he ain’t fessin’ up, but sure as gos-se he knows somethin’ ‘bout military operations and I’m bettin’ could lead any mission might come up. Doc, be good to keep you ‘round and safe if’n we should need your services. And River…” River gave the Captain and evil eye expecting sarcasm but instead his words came out rather sweet. “She may well be the brains of the whole caper, can’t be leavin’ the brains behind.” He winked at her and caught her off guard. She secretly smiled.

“Seems like a sound plan to me. I’ll start getting rations and supplies ready, Captain.” Offered Book.

Captain nodded, “I’ll have Kaylee check the shuttle over and get Wash to boost her comm reception and transmission. Doc, get your stuff together and meet in the shuttle bay in about twenty minutes. Everyone else, get yourselves ready to go planet side.”

* * * * * * *

Wash finished wiring the booster cable to the shuttle’s comm and checked over her instrument panel. He turned to Shepherd who was at the shuttle’s command console with him, “Book, this button here will scramble or unscramble any jumbled messages we might send to each other if we think our communications are being monitored. Oh, and I’m sure Inara will point out, her controls list a bit to the left so just make sure you compensate, otherwise she’s in great shape.” The Shepard nodded.

Inara stood outside the shuttle door with the Captain, “Mal, please be careful.” He nodded as she continued, “And take good care of Kaylee.” He gave her an ‘of course, don’t I always’ look just before she kissed him on the cheek.

“You all watch yourselves, too.” He responded before his pilot interrupted them.

“Finished here, Capt’n.” Wash announced, “I’m gonna get back to the cockpit and fly in closer to the moon to let them off, no need for them to waste the fuel. Then, I’ll head for the planet’s atmo.”

“Zoe and I’ll meet you up there, soon as we get them on their way.”

Wash headed for his pilot’s chair and the next time they heard his voice it was over the comm, “Shuttle One, ready for your departure. Shepherd, good luck.”

“See you in a few days.” Came Book’s reply over Wash’s comm as the shuttle’s engines ignited and Serenity released her ward into space.

Wash changed headings and veered Serenity back toward the blue green planet that floated fairly sizeable in front of them. Before long, Zoe and Mal joined him in the cockpit.

“At our current speed, we should be hitting atmo in a little over an hour.” Wash informed them.

“Have you picked up anythin’ new on the comm unit?” Asked the Captain.

“Nothing we hadn’t already figured out. Just some wayward radio waves, nothing directed at us if that’s what you’re asking, Capt’n.” Replied the pilot.

As if in response to Wash’s comment, a voice crackled through the static of the ship’s comm system, “Unidentified aircraft, this is the United States government, please identify yourself. Repeat, please identify yourself. Over.”

Wash, Zoe and Mal looked at each other unsure of how they should respond.

“You want I should answer that, Capt’n?” Wash casually threw out.

Mal glanced again at Zoe and rubbed his chin in thought, “So much for stealth and discretion.”

“It’s not too late to turn around, Sir. We could try and make repairs on the planet’s moon. Much as I’d like to set eyes on Earth, I don’t think I’m too crazy about getting mixed up in some antiquated world’s government.” Zoe suggested.

‘Would take Kaylee ‘least four times longer and make things a heap more complicated for her if we tried to fix Serenity’s hull in zero grav. They already know we’re here, it ain’t like they’re the Alliance, let’s just get on with it.”

Wash handed the Captain the comm’s handheld, “This here’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly class freighter, Serenity. I’m guessin’ our arrival’s a bit unprecedented but we’re in a might need for a place to set down while we make some repairs to our ship. We’re requestin’ landin’ privileges, please respond.”

There was a long moment of silence. Serenity had slowed down but was quickly closing in on atmospheric entry. The mood in the cockpit had become tense. After what seemed like several minutes a response finally came.

“Captain Reynolds, this is General Trask of the United States Government. On behalf of our country, the President and myself, we welcome you. Please follow our Fighters to the landing site once you’ve broken entry into our atmosphere. Over.”

“They seem might nice.” Smiled Mal.

“Can’t say that gives me any warm fuzzies, Sir.”

“Entering atmo.” Wash announced not only to the Captain and Zoe but over the ship’s intercom as well.

The ship bucked a bit as its damaged hull endured the heat of entry. Then darkness was replaced with blue skies mottled with fluffy white clouds.

“Shiny.” Said Wash as he donned sunglasses.

“Have to admit, it is kind of pretty.” Replied Zoe.

Jayne and Kaylee appeared in the threshold of the cockpit.

“All kinds a’ pretty.” Remarked Kaylee.

Wash surveyed the horizon, “Captain, I don’t see any other ships out there.”

Mal reached for the handheld, “General Trask, this here’s the Capt’n of the Serenity, what aircraft might you be referring to. We’re not seein’ anyone else out here.”

A beat went by before a response, “Aircraft Serenity, we have you on our radar, continue descending at your current bearing and our Fighters should become visible at approximately 18,000 meters in altitude, over.”

“That seems awfully low to me, that seem awfully low to you, Wash?” Badgered the Captain.

“Not if they’re inner-atmo ships only. Could be that’s all they’ve got. If it is, I’m betting they’re also not very fast, maybe 1,000 kilometers per hour.”

“That information could be useful to us later, Sir.” Said Zoe.

“See there, told you they ain’t got much rocket power behind ‘em. Should be a piece a’ cake.” Proclaimed Jayne.

“What should be a piece a’ cake, Jayne?” Parried the Captain.

“Givin’ ‘em the what-for-all. Ain’t never gonna know what hit ‘em.” They all looked at Jayne as though he had gone mad. “…if’n the matter ‘rises…Can’t be too prepared, that’s what I always say.” He finished his belligerent statement proudly.

“I can’t believe I’m going to say this, Captain, but...Jayne’s right. I’m not too crazy about any of this. We may be able to easily outmaneuver them but we’re definitely outgunned when it comes to firepower. And once we’ve landed, we’re going to be at their mercy. I’m not sure I like this plan at all anymore, Sir.” Managed Zoe.

“Like it or not, we’re in the middle of it…besides,” joked the Captain, “we’ve got Vera, right Jayne?”

Jayne shook his head.

“No we don’t have Vera? She’s the munitions of the ship, Jayne, what’d you do with her?” Asked the Captain, stunned.

“You said the shuttle would be our ace in the hole if’n we should get into trouble so I gave her to Book. I figger’d if we needed an ace in the hole, that’s when we’d need Vera.”

The Captain and Zoe looked at each other expressing surprised impress at Jayne’s calculated actions. They both nodded.

“That’s some mighty fine thinkin’ there, Jayne.” Offered the Captain. Jayne smiled arrogantly.

Wash became lively, “Fighter’s closing in, port and starboard, Capt’n.”

A voice came in over the comm unit, “Serenity this is Tango One, positioned on your portside, please decelerate to match our current cruise speed of 640 kilometers per hour, over.”

Wash eased up on the ship’s primary drive and paced Serenity with her escorts. Another Fighter appeared forefront to guide her in. As they descended toward their destination, the terrain under them grew closer and closer appearing desolate and quite arid. Finally, a military base full of warehouses appeared in the middle of the desert.

“Serenity, this is Tango One, begin your descent onto the second runway directly ahead and follow its corridor into the fourth outbuilding, over.” With that the Fighters buzzed by, once again gaining some altitude.

Wash efficiently lowered the Firefly class freighter so it hovered over the designated airstrip and in a braggart’s display of expertise, effortlessly sailed it into the assigned outbuilding. He repositioned the ship’s engines and alighted Serenity onto the warehouse deck.

Zoe turned to her husband, “Don’t show off, Sweetie, it’s not necessary to let them know what your capable of...let’s keep it our secret.”

“I love this woman, she’s so smart…and soldierly.” Replied Wash.

“Before we meet up face to face we should prob’ly get our story for the big government folks straight. I’m thinkin’ we leave out the part ‘bout bein’ from Earth-that-Was’s future. No reason they need to be knowin’ ‘bout that right yet. Let’s just let them believe we’re from another planet somewhere out there.” He motioned ambiguously.

“They’ll want more, Capt’n, then what do we tell them?” Asked Jayne.

“Tell them we’re from a planet called Persephone, seem we spend ‘nough time in port there to claim it as half truth. We can say we got thrown way off course caught up in a supernova blast and in need of fixin’ the ship.”

“What if they don’t believe us?” Jayne posed.

“It’s mostly the truth, ain’t it? Seems to me if they don’t believe us, that’d be their problem. Just stick to the story and don’t go pontificatin’”

* * * * * *

Serenity’s gangway lowered and her doors slid open. The on-board crew stood in her entry, all of them yearning to get their first glimpse of the legendary Earth. Zoe and Jayne took their positions in the front, each with a firearm at their side, in the middle was Mal, also at the ready, and behind them were unarmed Kaylee and Wash. The blistering heat hit them as soon as the air mingled with the ship’s ventilation.

“Damn, sure is hot out there.” Proclaimed Jayne.

Zoe surveyed the area. Dust appeared to hang in the air even inside the open warehouse, “Least it’s a dry heat.”

She and Jayne proceeded down the gangway to the indoor landing field with the rest of the crew following them. The entrance to the warehouse suddenly flooded with military personnel all standing at the ready.

The Serenity crew took a step back in harmony and Zoe and Jayne both reached down to finger their holstered pistols.

“Easy does it. Let’s not be the first ones to create a ruckus.” Ordered Mal. The Captain stepped out from the middle of the party and addressed the assembly.

“Hello, I’m Captain Malcolm Reynolds” Mal addressed the uniformed throng in his most official sounding voice, “and this here’s my crew. I’m looking for a General Trask. I believe he’s been expectin’ us.”

“I am General William Trask of the United States Army. Welcome to Nevada, Captain Reynolds.” Countered the General.

The General continued, “I would appreciate you’re handing over to my men any weapons that you and your people may be carrying, I’m sure you understand, Captain.”

“Sure do, you first…” Smiled Mal. He waited a few beats until he realized the General wasn’t even going to ingratiate his comment with a response. With his weapon still at his side, Mal made a slow, friendly move towards the General. The soldiers all cocked their weapons in unison and Zoe and Jayne tensed their shooting arms in preparation.

“Whoa, now,” protested Mal with his hands midway in the air, “ let’s not start somethin’ we’re all really not wantin’ to finish.” He unsnapped his holster and slowly lifted his piece with two fingers. He recognized the focus in the eyes of the soldiers whose weapons were trained on him. Mal carefully placed his weapon on the ground.”

“Good choice, Captain, now please ask your crew to do the same.”

“Zoe, Jayne.” Mal motioned for them to lay down their pistols as well and the two reluctantly complied.

“Don’t have the warm fuzzies at all, Sir.” Remarked Zoe in a very low voice.

“And the others?” Harangued the General.

“They’re unarmed, General. Ain’t barely a reason a mechanic and pilot need to be armed, lessen’ ‘course things get real bad, and they ain’t gonna’ get real bad, in’t that right, General? We’re just here on a friendly visit. Ship’s in need of repairs, then we’ll be on our way. Was hoping we could exchange some friendly gossip and have a few drinks together while we’re here. That is, if you were serious ‘bout that welcome you extended us?”

The General motioned for his men to stand down and the soldiers obeyed.

“We do have our formalities here on the base, Captain, as I am sure you do from wherever it is you come from. You are our guests. Sergeant, please have your men escort our visitors to the debriefing rooms and provide them with refreshments for the duration of their interviews.” With that, the General turned on his heels and disappeared behind the assembly.

The crew of Serenity stood fairly dumbfounded, looking apprehensively at each other. A ranking Sergeant and four of his men swiftly stepped forward, “Please, follow us.” Each soldier paired himself with one of the crewmembers.

The Captain and his crew were lead into a large permanent structure with very few windows. The building was air-conditioned and the chills they each received when they walked through the doors were a welcome change from the stifling heat outside. They came to the first room on the right and the Captain was lead inside as the others were quickly ushered farther down the corridor. Zoe was escorted into the next room on the left and Jayne into the following room on the right. Wash was then directed into the second room on the left and Kaylee was shown the way into the following room on the right. In each room the soldier in charge politely asked if he could bring the occupant any type of food or beverage.

In their respective rooms, Mal and Zoe, with their military training in mind, each held up their hand, declining all food or drink.

“I’ll have a beer, if you’re serving.” Jayne answered the question gruffly.

“We don’t have any alcoholic beverages, Sir. Can I get you a soft drink?”

Jayne shrugged in confused compliance and a fizzy beverage was set down in front of him. He took a gulp.

“Hey, this ain’t half bad.” He exclaimed.

The attendant in Wash’s room brought him a cup of hot coffee and a small box filled with donuts. Simultaneously, Kaylee’s escort was working double-time to provide her with all her requests. In front of the young mechanic was a spread of fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, chocolates, and lemonade. Her face lit up as she took a bite of the juiciest of peaches.

While alone and awaiting the government’s next move, both Mal and Zoe studied their particular rooms. They were uniform stock white with no windows. A meeting table with chairs was placed smack-dab in the middle. High in the corner of the farthest wall was a camera with microphone pointed towards the detainee.

General Trask and a guard walked into Mal’s debriefing room for the first of the five interviews. The guard took position by the door while the General sat down at the long table opposite the Captain.

“Were you asked about refreshments, Captain?”

“I was, but I’d rather get to the point of all this, General.” Answered Mal.

“Very well.” Continued the General. “My soldiers and I represent the Homeland Securities Division of the United States Government. It is our job to make sure our country remains a safe place to live for all its civilians.”

Mal cut the General’s words short, “Look, I realize your world don’t have a precedent set up for all this but we’re one ship with a crew of five and no on-ship weaponry, I’m thinkin’ your home land is secure, General. From one commander to another, I was hoping the rest of my crew could go ‘bout their business fixin’ things while you and me toasted to our particular worlds in some watering hole nearby.

“Captain Reynolds, I’m sure you understand that my boss, the President of the United States, would like to know a little more about whom we’re dealing with. We’d like to know who you are, where you came from, how you ended up here and what your intentions are for starters.”

“Already told you most of it, General. No need to get yourself in a panic over our presence. I’m Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the Firefly class freighter, Serenity….”

Later the same inquiry was asked of Zoe and she continued, “ We’re from a planet called Persephone, General. While we were traveling the Rim, we somehow got caught up in the blast from a star gone supernova and it shot us into unchartered space…”

And of Jayne, “Whatr’ya asking me fer? Sure the Captain done told you all that already.” He sat back in his chair and took another gulp from his third cup of soda, “We gonna be finished here soon, General, I gotta shake the snake, ya know what I mean?”

And next of Wash, ”Look, it’s easier for it to happen than people really want to think about. If you don’t have the most up-to-date Nav system you can get yourself into trouble out in the black real fast, take for instance…”

And then of Kaylee, “Shockwaves. They sure ‘nough fractured Serenity’s outsides in more than a few places. I just need to get out there with a welder and start fixin’ her up so’s she can be safe to fly ‘gain real soon. Would you like one of these here chocolates, General? They’re very good.” She gave the General an unfettered childlike smile.

After his last interview with Kaylee, General Trask instructed his men to bring all the visitors into the main lounge of the building.

“I’d like to thank you all for your candor in our meetings.” The General announced, “I, personally, feel confident that none of you are a threat against our great nation but, as a high-ranking government official, I do need to follow our established protocol. Taking effect immediately, you will all be quarantined and detained in this facility for the next eight weeks. We will provide cots and amenities and any food service you may request. During this time, we will ask that you voluntarily submit to full physical examinations and further interviews so that we can come to better understand your world and its people. Thank you.”

The General turned and walked briskly out of the room without looking back. Had he glanced back, he would have seen Mal rushing after him like a wild man.

“Trask!” But Mal’s voice didn’t reach beyond the closed and locked double-glass doors of the lounge. He banged his fist once against the doors in utter frustration. The group then watched as two soldiers appeared and took sentry one on each side of the entrance.

“Cap’n?” Voiced Kaylee timidly. “We left Serenity wide open. What d’ya think they’re doin’ to her?”

The Captain slumped down onto the dormitory style couch and rested his head in his hands.

“Sir?”

“Don’t go sayin’ I told ya’ so, Zoe, I don’t be needin’ to hear it from you right now is all.”

“Then I’ll say it,” piped Jayne, “told ya’ so, Capt’n…So, is it time to give ‘em the what-for-all yet?”

“We still need to get Kaylee onto Serenity and get her patched up.” Remarked the Captain, “‘Till then, ‘fraid we ain’t ready for nothin’. I’ll try to talk with the General one on one and see if he’ll agree to let Kaylee onto the ship. If’n so, mei mei, you could get word…”

Zoe interrupted the Captain with an obtrusive, authoritative stance and a subtle nod toward a camera and microphone similar to the ones in the debriefing rooms discreetly suspended in one corner of the lounge.

“Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng! Je shr shuh muh lan dong shi!? Nee ta ma duh tyen shia suo-yo duh run doh gai si!” Mal swore, “ I’m gettin’ mighty tired of bein’ pissed on today, ain’t it somebody else’s turn to get wet?”

* * * * *

General Trask was sitting around a table with five other high-ranking officials. A console was before them and the crew of Serenity was displayed on the monitor.

“What’d he say? Play it back.” Commanded General Joseph Whittaker as Mal’s expletives flooded out over the speaker. “Wonder what he’s saying.” He turned to one of the two Lieutenants in the room who were standing at ease and ready to serve. “Get a language specialist down here on the double, Lieutenant.”

“Yes Sir.”

In less than five minutes a specialist was on the job with his laptop working out the sounds of Mal’s explosive tirade.

“I realize there is not much to go on, but is there enough for you to figure out some of their alien language Mr. Simmons?” Asked Whittaker.

The specialist typed a few key sounds into his computer and quickly responded to the General, “It’s Mandarin, Sir.”

“What?”

“Chinese.” He reiterated. “Mandarin…it’s the primary dialect of Chinese. He’s cursing frontward and backwards in Chinese. Quite colorfully I might add.” The trained civilian looked up from his keyboard and gave the General a momentary smile but wiped it from his face when he saw that none of the other Officers in the room found it amusing.

“Thank you, Mr. Simmons, that will be all. Please remain in the building in case we have further need for your translations.” And with that, the language specialist was ushered out of the room.

General Adams, the eldest of the generals, spoke up first, “Commies. They’re Commies. They’re being Eastern infiltrators explains their fascination with the Western dialect. We had heard the Chinese were planning on being the next to touch down on the surface of the moon. Didn’t think they had gotten this far. Their aerospace technology is much farther along than ours then.”

“Something must have gone wrong with their mission and they had to make an emergency landing.” Guessed Colonel Caufield.

“They don’t look Chinese, though.” Dr. Kevin Mitchell, the only high ranking scientist in the room, brought to their attention.

“Then they’re Western moles working for the Chinese. Either way, we need that technology, gentlemen, and we need to find out exactly what it is they’re hiding. I will not tolerate any Commie spies infiltrating our great nation.” Expressed Adams.

“Sirs, I’ve been aboard the ship. It’s obvious to me that with today’s technology there isn’t any country in this world that could create such a feat of engineering. I truly believe it is of non-terrestrial origin.

“Mitchell, you’re unrelenting with your sci fi scenarios. Next thing you’ll be trying to convince us is that they’re part of some federation of planets.” Colonel Jensen laughed sarcastically.

“Gentlemen, either way, we do need a much closer inspection of this aircraft and its equipment. Captain Reynolds mentioned speaking with Trask about getting the young one they say is the mechanic onto the ship to make repairs. I think we should acquiesce and send a team with her to help her out and to learn as much as we can about their technology. I want to know everything there is to know about this group and their aircraft,” conveyed General Whittaker, the highest-ranked of the group. “Trask, set it up. Mitchell, you lead the team. Jensen and Adams, you stay and continue to monitor the group. And Caufield, you’re with me. We need to disclose what we know so far to the President. He is not going to like this.”

* * * * *

River was on Inara’s bed quickly pouring over several huge tomes of astrophysics. She was tearing pages out of the books left and right and creating her own private novel.

“River, where did you get these books?”

“Cockpit…Wash’s...Out of date...relevance…idle theory…missing crucial components…”

“No more tearing, River.” Simon tried to stop her but she wiggled free, grabbed the torn pages and escaped to a dark corner in the shuttle.”

“She going to be okay?” Asked Book sincerely.

“I think it’s the confinement in such a small space. I think she’ll be as okay as she ever is anymore.” Responded her brother sorrowfully.

“I’ll go check on her.” Added Inara as she headed in River’s direction.

“Shepherd, Doctor.” There was utter urgency resounding in Inara’s voice. The two hurried over to where she was kneeling by River. In River’s hand was an activated Callahan full-bore autolock laser with customized trigger and double-cartridge thorough gauge. By the glow of the high powered weapon the three could see River’s face light up as though she had become privy to the answer to the universe.

“River, shiao mei mei, give Vera to me.” Simon gently took the gun out of River’s offering hand and handed it back towards the Shepherd who immediate powered the weapon down. Inara gave a small sigh of relief.

* * * * *

General Trask walked into the lounge and was immediately accosted by an angry Captain.

“You have no right to keep us like this, General.”

“Actually, I have every right, Captain.”

“It’s inhumane to lock us up, like some kinda animal.” Mal countered.

“Until we get some answers, Captain, you will all remain precisely where we can keep a close eye on you.”

“Answers? We’ve done told you everythin’…”

“Everything? Like, why it is you speak perfect English, with a western drawl I might add, and can curse fluently in Mandarin. What are the answers to these questions, Captain?”

Mal stood there silently. He looked toward Zoe hoping she would think faster on her feet than he was in this particular instance.

“Our people have been here before, General.” Zoe saved the moment and Mal collected his thoughts and jumped in.

“Zoe, don’t tell him anymore.” He bluffed.

“They’ll figure it out, Sir.” She turned to the General. “Our people have had your planet under surveillance for many years, General. Good explorers such as ourselves are always prepared to meet with anyone we know that exists in the ‘verse. Figure knowing two of the most prominent languages on the planet can help solve a lot of misunderstanding.”

Mal continued Zoe’s thought, “Perhaps we were wrong, General. Has this somehow compromised our situation?”

“You might say it has at that. There will be further inquiry, Captain. But let us not say that my people are totally without conscience. The top echelon has sanctioned the mechanic of your crew to begin making repairs to your ship. She will be provided with one of our own work teams to help her in any way possible. She can begin work tomorrow morning at 07:00. Until then, meals should be arriving shortly and for anything else you might need, please ask one of the sentries.” Once again the General turned on his heels and walked briskly away.

“I’m getting’ a might tired at just how often he does that.” The Captain rubbed the back of his neck.

“We need a plan.” Grumbled Jayne.

“I need a shower.” Mal subtly motioned for the others to follow him.

Wash whispered to his wife, “Dear, why are we all following the Captain into the washroom.” He smelled under his arms, “I don’t feel I need a shower that bad.”

“He wants to tell us something, Dear.”

“Then why do we have to bathe with him, Sweet potato?”

Zoe gave a gentle hush to her husband as Mal turned the shower on. “Listen up, Jayne’s got it right, we need a plan.”

Jayne grunted in agreement.

“Kaylee, once you’re on Serenity, you’ll need to get word to the others to let ‘em know what’s goin’ on. Have ‘em monitor the comm to be at the ready. We may be needin’ a diversion to help us get airborne and Inara’s shuttle may be our only ticket outta here …oh, and make sure you use the scrambler when transmittin’. Fix what needs fixin’ without showin’ that bureaucrat horde too much…and in the meantime, we’ll try and figure out a way to get us all on board at the same time.”

“Yes Sir, Cap’n.” Kaylee responded enthusiastically.

“Captain, I’m betting they’ll let me in to recalibrate the cockpit’s instrument panel if Kaylee makes it look like she had to make repairs to maneuvering. That way, I might be able to let the shuttle know what our final plans are and get the ship ready for take off at a moment’s notice.” Wash proposed energetically.

The Captain nodded and Zoe squeezed her husband’s arm in approval. He turned and whispered to his wife, “Does this get me membership into the ‘Rebel Outlaw Warrior Club’, Pumpkin?”

“We’ll see, Dear” She smiled and patted his arm in feign patronization. Wash tried his best to give her a look of mock offense in return.

* * * * *

The Captain didn’t see much point in waking up early. He and most of the others slept in the next morning but Kaylee was awake and waiting for the government team to come by and pick her up. She helped herself to the breakfast that had been delivered by the guards. It was a buffet fit for generals. She soon discovered that a croissant with strawberry jam was a wonderful morning indulgence. After finishing two of the pastries and a mugful of hot tea, the team of scientists finally arrived.

Kaylee heard her Captain stir just as the men were about to escort her through the door, “Mei mei.” She turned to see him groggily propping himself up in his cot, “Jun ta ma yao ming. Joo-ee. You be careful, hear me?”

“I will Cap’n.” She said as the double doors closed and she disappeared down the hallway ushered along by the scholarly group.

The mechanic winced upon entering Serenity. Traces of the intruders were all around her. As she entered the engine room with her entourage of scientists in tow, she reached out to caress some of Serenity’s inner workings and whispered tenderly, “It’s okay, girl, I’m here, ain’t no one gonna hurt you now.” The team leader watched her silently and unnoticed.

Kaylee first ran diagnostics and checked all the mechanics in the engine room, making sure that the group of scientists hadn’t been fussing with anything before she had gotten there.

The team of four scientists seemed to quietly hinge on her every move. Finally, the team leader of the over-educated group of colleagues, a handsome thirty-something gentleman, addressed her just as she was finishing up the testing. “Miss Frye, we’d like you to go over the schematics of the propulsion system of the ship with us. Tell us how you create fusion in the tail of the aircraft, how you supply it and how it translates through the mechanics into your fuel source. We’d also like a rundown of the aircraft’s design and it’s architectural integrity.”

Kaylee scanned his nametag as she quickly pondered how to successfully evade his questions, “For starters, Dr. Mitchell, we ain’t ‘round no military bigwigs down here so you can forget all the frillies and just call me Kaylee. Secondly, Don’t know what you’re ‘spectin’ outta me but I’m a mechanic, doctor, I ain’t no engineer. I can fix her up real good when she gets broke but don’t ask me how them designer folk made her in the first place.”

She smiled one of her innocent, impish smiles, grabbed a nearby welding torch and unexpectedly twirled around and skipped through the back corridor of Serenity. She energetically shimmied up the ladder leading topside: her scholarly playfellows in reluctant pursuit.

Once Kaylee was positioned, she began studiously patching up the outside of the ship. She tried to get every scientist involved, sending them on errands for tools, handing them welding torches, screw guns with metal platings and diagnostic kits to test the integrity of each repair. Making sure she had every one of her new colleagues otherwise occupied, she excused herself to the cockpit to make a few adjustments to maneuvering.

“I’ll come down with you and help you out.” Volunteered Dr. Mitchell.

“Doc, I appreciate your wantin’ to help down there, but you’re much more help to me up here checkin’ on all the mendin’. The adjustments I need to make’ll only take a few minutes. Best ask Wash to give you the grand tour of the cockpit. Nobody should be messin’ with the controls in there but the pilot.” And with that she slid down the ladder before the scientist could disagree.

* * * * *

Dr. Mitchell already knew that this was the most important project he had ever been assigned to lead, General Trask hadn’t really even had to mention it to him after their meeting the previous day. Kevin, in his early thirties, was considered young for a lead scientist and he fully wanted recognition from the generals he now considered his peers. He had worked long and hard all his life in the field of science to get as far as he had. He had finally received this promotion when his friend and supervisor left the military for a government sanctioned technological think tank. From his new high-profile position, his former boss had written him a gleaming letter of recommendation for the position. And now, this assignment gave him the chance to prove himself and his unconventional ideology to his more conservative colleagues.

The scientist had always had a love affair for all things extraterrestrial and he desperately wanted to believe that the mechanic and her crewmates were aliens. Mitchell had only two needs; to accomplish his first project for the generals successfully and to finally prove to himself and the others that extraterrestrials truly did exist. There was no way he was going to let the young woman vanish on him.

Mitchell turned to his team of scientists who were studiously working on Serenity’s hull, “I’m heading into the ship to keep an eye on Miss Frye, gentlemen. If you need me, please contact me on the radio.” He patted at the device clipped to his belt.

The Doctor climbed down the ladder into the upper corridor of the ship and immediately silenced his radio in order to follow the young woman more stealthily. He quickened his pace towards the cockpit but was careful to remain just enough paces behind to go fully unnoticed.

* * * * *

Kaylee reached the cockpit door and double-checked to make sure no one had followed her. She didn’t see anyone. She quickly turned to the controls and confirmed that they had not been tampered with, and then turned on the comm and its scrambler unit.

“This is Kaylee to Shuttle One, does anyone read me?” She paused only a moment, “Inara, Shepherd, please answer.” And she added to herself under her breath, “Quickly would be good.”

After what seemed like an eternity, she got her response, “Kaylee, this is Book, we’re ready to rendezvous. Is everything on schedule?”

“Oh Shepherd,” she sighed, “Ain’t nothin’ on schedule. Ship’s been detained by the local authorities. The Cap’n, Wash, Zoe and Jayne are locked up and I’m stuck with a whole crew of scientists watchin’ me fix Serenity. I gotta hurry ‘fore someone comes lookin’ for me. We’re gonna need you to keep listening to the comm and be ready to take off fast. Cap’n has a plan and it includes you bein’ a diversion. Wash will hopefully be able to contact you when we’re ready.”

“Kaylee, you and the others, be careful.”

“You be careful too, preacher. Don’t fly low ‘nough to engage their fighters. They got the firepower, they just ain’t got the altitude capabilities. I’m sure Wash will fill you in. Kaylee out.”

“Book out.”

Just as Kaylee turned off the comm she heard a voice behind her, “Who were you talking too, Miss Frye?”

She jumped and let out a short shout, “You done startled me, Dr. Mitchell. I just finished up adjusting the control panel, ain’t much needin’ to be done with it, though. Wash is good at keeping it spot on.” She gave her new colleague a nervous smile and began to walk towards the cockpit door.

“Miss Frye, you didn’t answer my question. Whom were you talking to?”

Kaylee looked around for an out but couldn’t find a suitable distraction. She fiddled with her hair, “I don’t know what you mean, Doctor.”

“I distinctly heard you speaking to someone on the radio.” Dr. Mitchell took a step closer to Kaylee as though he were going to tell her a secret.

“Let me make this easier for you, Miss Frye. I am certain you were talking to another ship. I assume they are just out of our sensor range. I can verify that easily by having our Communications Specialist break your radio signal’s code.” For a moment he looked lost in his thoughts, “Or, you can promise me a favor that will enlist my aid in getting your ship and its crew out of quarantine and back into space and no one will ever learn about your latest communiqué. It’s your decision, Miss Frye...Kaylee.”

Kaylee stood there not sure of what to do. She and the others could really use an ally on this planet. But could she trust him? Would the Captain trust him? Did she really have a choice?

“What is it you might be wantin’, Doctor Mitchell?”

“Simply, I want off this planet. I want to be on this ship right along with its crew when you leave this place.” He said without any affect.

“It would be for good, Doctor.” Kaylee tried to dissuade him. “We ain’t never comin’ back and where we’re headin’ may not be ‘xactly what you think it is.”

“I’m ready to explore the cosmos. I’ve been ready my entire military career, hell, I’ve been ready my entire life. When the space program turned me down, I made sure I was stationed out here so I would at least be close to any top-secret technological flight advancements. But this, this is more than I ever could have dreamed. I don’t care if it’s not what I imagined. I want to be out there. I need to be out there…” He leaned over and whispered in her ear, “And I am willing to defy my country in order to get there.”

Kaylee stepped back, looked him in the eye and paused. “After all that extra help today, ship should be ready ‘nough to take off. What we’re needin’ is to be able to get the whole crew on board and have ‘nough time to comm our shuttle so’s they can give us a bit a distraction to get us airborne and into a higher atmo than your fighters can climb. Then, we’d be home free.”

“Can’t you just shoot the fighters down if they get in our way?” Asked the Doctor.

“First all, that ain’t our style, we ain’t lookin’ to hurt anyone. Second all, Serenity’s a freighter, not a battleship. We’re all ‘bout speed and maneuverin’, Doctor.” She gave a modest smile to compensate for the compliment to her own abilities.

“Fair enough. I’ll get you the window of opportunity that you need. I rank high enough to instruct that your whole crew be brought on board to show me every aspect of the ship’s engineering. There will be a few guards, though; I have no control over that. I’d lay a wager that there will be two or three armed soldiers on board with us. Your people will have to deal with them in whatever way they think is best.”

Kaylee nodded.

The Doctor continued, “I can also let the tower know on the sly that we will be testing your aircraft. That will give us maybe a few more minutes to get airborne before the General is informed and initiates a station-wide alert. Now, I have your promise that I will be joining your crew and will not be harmed?”

“I give you my word, Doctor.”

The scientist’s eye’s met hers and captured her attention,“Kaylee, I believe I can trust you but can I trust your shipmates?”

“Cap’n always keeps his word, Doc, and in this case, I know he’ll keep mine.”

“Good enough. And Kaylee, please, call me Kevin.” He tried to lighten the mood with a smile. “We better get topside before the others start to wonder.”

Kaylee nodded again and motioned for him to lead the way. She closed her eyes and gave a deep sigh before following her new compatriot.

* * * * *

“I ain’t happy ‘bout this.” The Captain rubbed his tense forehead as the crew gathered once again in the tiny bathroom.

I’m sorry Cap’n. I just didn’t know what…”

The Captain cut her off, “Kaylee, don’t you ever go ‘pologizing for makin’ a command decision like that. Said I ain’t happy ‘bout it, never said I ‘d do it any different…‘cause I wouldn’t…don’t mean I gotta like it though.”

“Do you think we can trust him?” asked Wash.

“Don’t rightly have a choice now, do we, dear.” Responded Zoe cynically.

“Well, now, love-muffin, we don’t have to fill him in on all our rebellious intrigue, we just have to drag him along for the ride, right Capt’n?” Retorted Wash in self-defense.

“Just don’t like having someone blackmail us, is all.” She growled.

“Zoe, I don’t like it much either,” the Captain put his hand on his First in Command’s shoulder, “but it’s all we got at the moment.”

“Honestly, Cap’n, he don’t seem that bad.” Kaylee edged her way into the conversation.

“So, what’s the plan, Capt’n?” Jayne jumped in, “Time to give ‘em the what-for-all?”

“Looks like now’s that time, Jayne. We’ll plan on there bein’ three guards. You, Zoe and me’ll each take out one of ‘em soon as we get on board. Now don’t go shootin’ anyone in any vital-like organs, just knock ‘em out or shoot ‘em in an extremity. I don’t want any dyin’ to be done. Wash, soon as we start, you head for the cockpit, start her up and contact Shuttle One. Kaylee, when Zoe, Jayne and me throw these uninvited guests out, you hit the close button on the doors, then head directly for the engine room to prepare for a possible hard burn in atmo…and mei mei, keep this Dr. Mitchell with you at all times.”

* * * * *

Dr. Mitchell stood in one of the meeting rooms with General Trask and a few of the other high-ranking officials.

“My team learned a lot from the young woman yesterday but she as soon admitted that she is only their mechanic. It has become clear that I will need to find out what each crewmember does in order to get a feel for the applicable technical and field data. Only then could we even consider attempting to recreate such an engineering feat. I suggest letting me see them working on repairing their ship as a crew. I want to see what each member is responsible for in order to put the operation together as a whole.”

“That’s too risky, Doctor. We still don’t know their true intentions.” Responded Trask.

“Than give me guards, General, but I truly believe this ship is extraterrestrial and I feel this is too significant a study to pass up.”

Trask brooded over the scientist’s words. “I will permit this but only with an armed patrol. If there is even a suggestion of insurgency amongst these ‘visitors’ my men will be ready to put a stop to it. Do you think you can sufficiently get that point across to them, Doctor?”

“I do, General. Thank you, Sir.” Mitchell turned and left the room before the General had any second thoughts about the situation.

* * * * *

Doctor Kevin Mitchell grabbed the leather bag for his computer and finished packing it with as much as he could fit alongside the laptop. An extra set of clothes, a few personal belongings, the spare battery for his computer, a bunch of his published works saved to disk and some professional papers crowded the case. He hoped no one would notice the bag bulging at the seams.

His state-of-the-art laptop would have quite a few working hours available on it before his power sources died, perhaps by then he would figure a way to merge the alien technology with his own. His hardrive was already packed with useful scientific resources like complete survival guides, his former colleague’s latest comments on the Think Tank’s aerospace bioengineering texts, an advanced linguistic anthropology program and a multitude of space charts. He had always wanted to be prepared for any journey.

The scientist met the crew of Serenity at 07:00 hours inside their confines. He furtively told them about the conversation he and the General had the evening before and asked if the deal was still on.

“Don’t back down on any deal, Doctor. You just follow our lead and stay close to Kaylee at all times. And don’t be getting’ in anyone’s way, we have a job to do.” Mal made sure the Doctor knew who exactly was in command.

Dr. Mitchell gave the Captain a big thumbs up. Mal looked over at Kaylee and rolled his eyes irreverently.

Jayne, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a donut in his mouth, pushed between the scientist and the Captain. With his mouth full, he added, “Like the Capt’n says, just stay outta our way and we’ll all get along.”

Mitchell pretended not to be nervous by the large man’s bullying. He readjusted his computer bag and motioned for the group to head out. “Shall we, gentlemen…and ladies.”

As they passed through the locked glass double doors, three armed Lieutenants joined the group and escorted them to their ship.

Once inside Serenity it all happened very quickly. Wash took off for the cockpit and Kaylee pulled the scientist out of the way as Zoe, Jayne and Mal began brawling with each of the guards. Zoe ultimately used her man’s own weapon to knock him out, Jayne used brute force and struck his foe in the head with his own forehead. Mal was the last one struggling. He got some good punches in and had disarmed the guard but was still getting thrown around a bit himself. After one particular hit, the soldier went spinning into Jayne who punched him one more time to make sure he was down for the count. The Captain nodded thanks in Jayne’s direction.

Jayne grinned, “See? Piece a’ cake.”

They each grabbed one of the guards and threw them off the ship as Kaylee hit the close button and inter-commed to Wash that they were ready. The engines ignited and Kaylee and the scientist took off for the engine room.

* * * * *

Book got off the comm with Wash and looked over at Inara, Simon and River, “They’re ready. Doctor, cross those two wires I showed you earlier and hit that blue button.”

“What precisely will this do again?” asked Simon.

“It’s an old trick, the wires connect to our sensor array. We can magnify and manipulate our energy signature. That way, if they’re just tracking us by radar waves, we’ll look a whole lot bigger to them.”

“And that will help us in what way?” Simon was shaking his head, unsure of the plan.

“Son, we can’t do a lot for them but we can fly just within the ground force’s sensor range and make it look like Serenity’s the small ship and we’re the big ship. Hopefully the intimidation factor will make their adversaries hesitate long enough to be of some help. Here we go…Inara, disengage the scrambler unit from the comm.”

Book turned his attention to the hand held comm unit, “Serenity, this is the Mother Ship, The Protector. We received your distress signal. Do you need reinforcements? Repeat, our weapons are at the ready should you need our help. Please reply.” Book gave the others a satisfactory grin.

* * * * *

“General, Fighters have been launched. ETA with the alien craft is two minutes.” Reported one of Trask’s soldiers.

“What the hell happened?” He turned towards the Tower’s ground control crew, “Why wasn’t I alerted the moment their engines ignited?”

“We were notified that the ship would be testing their engines. We didn’t think anything was amiss until the aircraft began to lift off. We then called you immediately, General.” The Ground Control Crew Leader stated.

“Who notified you?”

“Doctor Mitchell.” The Leader replied.

“Mitchell. I hope you get what’s coming to you.” The General said into the air.

The Ground Leader interrupted the General’s thoughts, “Sir, you better listen to this. We just received a signal coming in from a much larger ship in orbit around the planet.” He played the message from the ‘The Protector.’

Just then a voice was heard over the Tower’s communication system, “General, this is Tango Leader. We have visual on the aircraft. Please advise. Over”

And Shepherd Book’s voice boomed in, conveniently over the same radio frequency, “Serenity, this is The Protector, we are aware of enemy fighters closing in on your location, we are prepared to employ our munitions. We’ll purge the enemy squadron on your mark.”

The General grabbed the handheld radio from the Ground Leader, “Tango Leader, this is General Trask, keep on the alien aircraft but have your squadron back off one half click and do not open fire, repeat, do not open fire. Over.”

“Ten Four, Sir. Roger. Over.” Came the Squadron Leader’s reply.

Wash watched as the Fighters dropped back, “Kaylee, get ready for inner-atmo hard burn…”

Kaylee turned to Doctor Mitchell who was looking a bit uneasy, “Get ready, Doc, and find something to hold on tight to.” She went back to her efforts, darting in and out of Serenity’s heart muscle.

“Kaylee, now!” She heard Wash bellow as she threw the necessary levers into full gear.

The freighter pitched as they came about and the engines blazed awake as they rolled into hard burn.

Moments later, Wash’s voice was heard beaming over the comm once again, “Three, two, one…Captain, we’re at 18,200 meters in altitude and are clear of all inner-atmo aircraft. We’ll be entering orbit in approximately one minute.”

The Firefly crew cheered as they approached orbit and their freedom. Meanwhile, the General and his ground and air forces agonized over their tactical defeat.

“The President will not be happy about this.” General Trask said reprimanding everyone around him as well as himself.

* * * * *

“And breaking out of atmo in three, two, one...” Wash informed the crew once again over the comm. There was a momentary shift and Serenity was back in the black. “Doctor Mitchell, you may want to find a portal and take one last look at Earth-that-Is.”

Mitchell gave a puzzled glance toward Kaylee who had just decided to ignore Wash’s last comment. She figured he’d learn about Earth and its fate soon enough from the Captain and the rest of the crew.

“Lemme show you a good spot you can look out from, Doctor.” She offered compassionately.

“Please, Kaylee, call me Kevin.” He reached out and touched her shoulder affectionately.

“Kevin.” She blushed and gestured for him to follow her.

Kaylee brought the scientist to one of the portals that stood just off the galley corridor. “This here’s one of my fav’rit places to think ‘bout things or sometimes just stare out into the black.”

Kevin glanced out the portal and saw Earth from space for the very first time. “This is all pretty remarkable.” He turned and locked his eyes with hers. “You’re pretty remarkable, too.”

Kaylee gestured nervously. “I should git back to the engine room to clean up what all’s been upended.” She stuck her hands in her pocket, “You’ll be okay here. I’ll be back in a short bit to show you ‘round and find you a place to sleep.”

“Thank you,” he whispered.

The young man’s eyes were still fixed on her as she backed away giddily. As she disappeared down the corridor, Doctor Kevin Mitchell turned and smiled to himself. He was happy. He stood at the portal gazing out at his home world. He had done it. He had finally made it into space.

* * * * *

The Firefly freighter grew bigger in her viewport as Shuttle One closed in.

“I never thought I’d be so happy to see Serenity.” Simon remarked.

“I’m always glad to come home to her.” Expressed Inara.

“Does make the mind wonder what we would have done had she not come back.” The Shepherd, sitting in the co-pilot seat, reflected out loud.

“I’d rather not think about it.” Replied the Doctor.

Wash’s voice came in loud and clear over the comm unit. “Shuttle Bay Port Hatch green for docking.”

Inara aligned the shuttle with its awaiting bay and effortlessly glided the small ship in.

“You’re locked in, Shuttle One. Good to have you back.”

“It’s good to be back.” Replied Book nodding in agreement with his crewmates.

* * * * *

“Come on, Doctor.” Mitchell still stood there quietly looking out at the stars, “Kevin, come on, let’s go meet up with the others.” Kaylee offered him another one of her warm smiles. “Havin’ second thoughts?”

Kevin smiled back, “No, just never really thought I’d see Her from this direction.”

As they walked, Kaylee began giving Kevin a short tour of the ship. They approached the cargo bay where they met up with Inara, Book, Simon and River exiting Shuttle One’s docking bay.

“Hey there.” Giggled Kaylee.

“Hey you.” Whispered Inara, “You all had us worried.”

“Nah, Cap’n had it under control the whole time.” Kaylee stated simply.

Just then the Captain’s voice joined them from behind, “Don’t be lis’nin to her, Inara. Was Kaylee that done the thinking on this one, ain’t that right, Doctor?”

Dr. Simon Tam looked around to find his moniker answered by a handsome stranger.

“Uh, Yes Sir, Captain.” He nodded and winked to Kaylee, “Miss Frye and I came to a mutual understanding. I wanted off of the planet and, well, so did your crew. Seemed to work out well. Thank you, Captain.” The Captain motioned for more attention to be paid to his mechanic as well. “And of course, thank you, Kaylee.” The scientist grinned happily at his new friend.

Simon stepped up and lightly put his hand on Kaylee’s back to begin ushering the group down the stairs into the cargo bay to join up with the rest of the crew. He glanced back, quickly assessing the new young man on board and then focused all his attention onto Kaylee, “So, you’ll have to fill us in on the whole story.”

Kaylee looked back, making eye contact with Inara. In one facial expression she spoke silently to her friend, ‘ain’t jealously a wonderful thing.’

* * * * *

The entire crew of Serenity, except for the pilot, had found their way to the cargo bay and was elated to be safely back together again. Jayne absent-mindedly grabbed a sports ball and began bouncing it around the deck to relieve his nervous energy.

“Preacher.” He called out as he passed the ball. The Shepherd turned to catch it and in turn passed it on to the awaiting Captain.

Kaylee unsuccessfully tried a few times to get the entire groups attention. Finally, she cleared her throat loudly. The crew took notice and she immediately recomposed her cheerful self, “Everyone, I’d like you to meet our newest passenger,” she put her arm around his shoulder and smiled, “this here’s Doctor Kevin Mitchell. He’s an aerospace scientist from Earth’s military.”

Mitchell spoke up, “Please, call me Kevin. I’m not really sure what my designation is worth anymore.”

“Well, if you’re an engineer, maybe you can offer some insight on how we might be able to get home.” Remarked Simon insipidly.

“Doc, the new doc hasn’t rightly been enlightened as to our current situation.” Broached the Captain as he bounced the ball back to Jayne who held onto it but continued to fidget.

“Current situation? What do you mean?” Asked Kevin.

“We have a working theory.” Reported Wash as he began descending the metal stairs from the cockpit. “I did some looking up of Wormholes like you asked, Captain. There is one this side of the galaxy that we could get to within a few days at Fast Burn. Seems to me though, that the only way we could utilize it would be to create a very large explosion in its mouth and just as the blast expands the sides of the hole, we push through. We then traverse the rim of the extension with Serenity at Fast Burn for just a few seconds. It’s only a theory.”

“It’s all we got.” Remarked the Captain.

“Wormhole? Are you talking about time travel?” the scientist looked around at everyone incredulously, “but that’s impossible.”

“Let’s hope it ain’t, Doctor or you’re in for a real short ride.” Replied the Captain, “Let’s get on with it then.”

“Captain, there is a problem with the plan.” Wash remarked.

“Ya’ mean more than it’s a dumb idea and will kill us all.” Criticized Jayne.

The whole crew gave him an evil eye. He bounced the ball.

“I’m not sure how to create an explosion that would be big enough to expand the opening of a wormhole.” Continued the pilot.

Just then River appeared from the back of the group and slid a powered-up Vera into the middle of the cargo deck floor. “Shuttle propulsion…laser detonation… boom.” Her smile lit up the room.

Simon and Book rushed over to River just as Jayne went for the gun to suspend its energy source.

“Oh, juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean-jan! How in Hell’s blazes did she get a hold of Vera?” Doctor Tam and Shepherd Book exchanged guilty glances at each other as the Captain continued to chastise. “Doctor, I thought we already done had this discussion once. You had better keep closer wraps on that girl. And Jayne, you sure ‘nough better keep a closer eye on,” the Captain paused, “your girl, too.”

“Jing-tsai. Mal, she’s right though.” Wash became animated.

“’Course I’m right” River said matter-of-factly as she brushed her brother and the Shepherd away.

“If anything’s going to work, this could be it.” The pilot was on a roll, “We take the propulsion units from both the shuttles, tie them together and jettison them towards the hole, just as they hit the entrance, Jayne fires Vera into the fuel tanks and…”

“Boom!” grinned River.

“…We take off.” Finished Wash.

“Like a bat outta Hell. Let’s do it, people. Make it happen.” Ordered the Captain.

* * * * *

Wash, Kaylee and Jayne all suited up in order to execute the removal of each of the shuttles’ propulsion units. It was slow going in zero grav but the three crewmembers worked in synchronicity. First they disengaged the systems and harnessed each of the components to themselves as well as to a safety line. They had to manually haul each unit up on top of Serenity where they joined the units together and attached them to the hull. From there, the units could be released and sent adrift when the time was right.

Wash’s voice crackled sarcastically over the suit’s comm unit. “Nothing like having a megaton bomb strapped snuggly to our hull. Makes me all warm inside.” The other two tried to ignore his comments.

Kaylee spoke through her comm, “’Kay Captain, we’re all done out here. We’re headin’ towards the airlock now.”

As the three crewmembers passed by one of the ship’s portals, they saw a face peering back at them. Kaylee smiled and gave the onlooker a big thumbs up.

Dr. Kevin Mitchell marveled at what he was able to watch of the undertaking from the ship’s portal near the galley. Close by, a brooding Dr. Simon Tam, lost in the shadows of the ship’s lounge area, subtly watched Serenity’s newest passenger.

And farther down the corridor, River stood in the dim light playing with the textures of the wall and staring at her brother. “Shouldn’t think so much,” she whispered to no one.

* * * * *

Kevin unzipped his black carryall and sat down at the galley’s long wooden table with his laptop computer, dexterously typing away on its keyboard.

“Whatch’ya working on, Doc?” Asked Jayne more outta habit than real interest.

“I’ve decided to start keeping a journal. Right now, I’m amazed and mystified by everything I see.”

Jayne grunted, more involved with his food preparation than really listening to the Doctor’s answer.

He sat down with a large bowl of something, “Zero Grav always makes me hungry.”

“Everything makes you hungry, Jayne.” Announced the Captain as he entered the room with Zoe.

Next, Wash entered the galley looking for coffee, “Should be approaching the wormhole in about twenty hours, Captain. Right now, everything’s looking pretty routine.”

“Ain’t nuttin’ routine ‘bout throwin’ ourselves into a gorammit hole in space not knowin’ when or where we’re gonna end up.” Muttered Jayne.

“S’all we got Jayne, so either we plan on settlin’ down on that pretty planet we just left and never sail the black again or we give this a try. Way I figger’, we got little to lose.”

“I realized this would be a one way trip, but I never thought it could be over so quickly.” Remarked Kevin. “Why is it, exactly, that we need to make the trip through this wormhole? No one ever really clarified the whole situation for me.”

Kaylee and Inara entered the room and joined the others at the table as the scientist was speaking.

“Supernova blast somehow slipped us back in time, Doctor, and this here’s the only prospect we have at getting’ us back home again.” Managed the Captain.

“So, where exactly is home?” Asked Kevin.

“Same chunk a ‘verse, different time; though this sector’s ‘bout as far out on the rim as a ship can get. Not much left out here in five-hundred years or so. Earth-that-Was is just a bunch a legends.” Finished the Captain.

“Good legends.” Wash threw in to try to give some levity to the situation for the now despairing new passenger.

Jayne wasn’t as astute, “Yeah, like the beginin’s of the Alliance. That story’s real shiny, ain’t it, Mal?”

“The Alliance had quite a few perfectly good reasons for forming, Jayne.” Stated Inara.

The Captain gave Inara a crazed look, “Yeah, ‘cause it’s always a hoot to oppress the masses.”

Jayne snickered then turned in exaggerated astonishment as Kaylee grabbed a piece of his crusty bread and began munching on it.

Simon, Book and River entered the galley and sat down with the rest of the crew. Simon pulled up an extra chair, purposefully sitting down next to the mechanic.

The Captain continued, “Does seem like we done got a first hand account of some of the Alliance’s forefathers. Understand why you were so anxious to leave, Doc…don’t think very much of your home world.”

Kaylee stuck up for the scientist and his home, “Cap’n, Governments ain’t never what you want ‘em to be. Can’t be judgin’ a planet by the laws that be, though, gotta see her through her people,” She nodded towards Kevin, “...and her lovely food pickins.” She bit into the piece of bread coyly as she reminisced about some of the food she’d indulged in on Earth.

“So, what’s next?” Simon asked changing the subject?

“Once we get close enough, we just let go of our little homemade bomb, detonate it and jump into the perimeter of the hole at Fast Burn.” Replied Wash.

“It’s all guesswork?” Simon continued to inquire.

“No,” Wash said indignantly and looked around the table, “I’ve done the calculations. When we hit the hole, we’ll be going the same speed we did when the supernova blast hit us. I’ll try and skirt it for a few seconds; same amount of time we were carried by the shockwaves that got us here. If it works, it should either get us somewhere near where we started…or send us back another five-hundred years.” Wash grimaced.

Zoe put her arm around her husband, “If anyone can do it, my man can.”

“Let’s hope so.” Commented the Captain.

Book lifted his Bible, “I’ll say a prayer.”

A silence fell over the room until Wash spoke again. “Mal, there’s more.”

“More Wash? I’m not thinkin’ I can take much more of this whole gorammit situation…” The Captain rubbed his forehead and crossed his arms over his chest, “You got my attention.”

“Well, if this does work, we’ll have pushed the ship’s limits twice. Soon as we make it back, we’re going to be just about out of fuel…and without any back up elements from either of the shuttles.” Wash looked around to gauge the effect his words had on the rest of the crew.

“Jen dao mei. And us without a gorram coin to our pretty names.” The Captain spat out. “Ain’t likely gonna be getting’ a job this side of the ‘verse, so’s anybody got any suggestions best come out with it.” The Captain was obviously irritated and overtired by their ongoing circumstances.

As soon as his words came out, each of his crewmembers looked around the table. One by one their eyes fell on Kevin’s beloved laptop computer.

“I think we just solved least one of our problems.” The Captain seemed to perk up, “I’m bettin’ we could get ourselves a whole heap a fuel, maybe even with a little somethin’ left over.”

“That’s what I like hearin’. I could stand getting’ paid for my troubles for this here outing. Plus, so far our scientist’s been jing-tzang mei yong-duh. Don’t he have to pay to be a passenger like everybody else?” Jayne pointed to Kevin.

“Jayne, let’s just let the man get himself situated before bringin’ up any kind a’ payment.” Responded the Captain.

The crew’s scheme suddenly hit Kevin, “Wait a minute, my computer? You want to sell my computer?” Kevin was noticeably upset. “It’s my only reminder of home.”

“Sorry Doc, that there aspect’s just what could bring us the big money. Not to mention prob’ly help to get yourself settled on a planet a’ your choosin’.

“…But my laptop.” The scientist whispered brokenheartedly. Each crewmember stared down at the piece of table in front of them elusive of a single consoling word amongst them.

“Well, on a more cheery note,” As usual, Wash attempted to lighten the mood. He turned and smiled at his wife, “I don’t have to be back in the cockpit for a few hours, cupcake.”

Zoe’s eyes blazed mischievous as she addressed her boss, “I’ll meet up with you later, Captain,” she stated matter-of-factly, “I need to go take advantage of this man.”

Wash’s eyes lit up as his wife got up from the table and pulled him through the galley’s entryway and down towards their bunk.

* * * * *

Nineteen hours later, the Captain and Zoe met up with Wash in the Cockpit.

The pilot was strapped into his chair flipping levers and analyzing data screens diligently.

“How’s it going, Wash.” The Captain asked concerned.

“We’re just about ready, Captain.” Wash grabbed the ship’s comm unit, “You ready where you are, Jayne?”

“Yup.” Came a gruff response as Jayne resolutely donned the helmet of his zero grav suit and fidgeted with the oxygen containment field fitted around his firearm in order to allow it to ignite in the void of space.

The Captain took the comm unit from Wash, “Jayne, you don’t have to be the one to do this. I told you before, I can do the shootin’.”

“Much obliged, Capt’n, but with this girl,” He patted Vera, “I’m the best shot. Should be me.”

Wash took the comm unit from the Captain. “Jayne, when I say ‘now,’ disengage the units from the hull and get yourself ready.”

“Got it.” Jayne replied soberly.

Wash handed the comm unit back to the Captain, “People, this here’s the Captain. We’re just ‘bout ready to do this, so I suggest everyone gettin’ to a safe place, stayin’ put and holdin’ on…And Jayne, you done get yourself safe faster than you ever done before after shootin’ off Vera, that’s an order.”

“Yes Sir, Captain.” Came the response.

Nervously, each member of the crew bunked down in his or her own quarters and waited.

Zoe and Mal strapped themselves into auxiliary cockpit restraints and watched as the cosmic chasm of turmoil appeared closer and closer in the ship’s viewport.

“Wash?” Stammered the Captain.

“Wait, we need to wait…” The pilot uttered unconfidently. The hole grew even closer.

“Wash?” The Captain uttered a second time as their ship plummeted toward the spatial abyss.

The seconds seemed like hours.

“Waaash?” He impatiently bellowed a third time.

“Jayne, NOW!” The pilot finally shouted.

As Jayne released the propulsion units, Wash revved the reverse engines. The units accelerated towards the void as the pilot strained against the controls to slow the ship and keep it one step behind their homemade mega-bomb. It seemed like slow motion as they watched the connected units spiral in on the wormhole. Finally, the parts reached the rim of the approaching chasm and Washed yelled again into the comm, “Jayne, FIRE!”

Jayne’s marksmanship was flawless. The units detonated into a near blinding explosion as the wormhole seemed to momentarily distort. Wash fought with the controls to revert the engines and throw Serenity into sudden Fastburn. The turbulence was immeasurable by any of the cockpit’s instruments. The crew bucked and dodged, narrowly escaping the airborne debris.

Wash strained against the controls to veer the ship out of the mayhem and to drop Serenity back down into Slow Burn. Just as soon as it had all started, there was, once again, calm. The crew’s possessions littered the ship everywhere. There was a collective sigh of relief as each crewmember relaxed a little in his or her respective safe place.

The Captain’s voice came in over the comm, “Jayne?”

There was no answer. “JAYNE?” The Captain yelled louder and angrier, “You answer me, ya’ hear.” Still, there was no answer.

“Doc, meet me in the airlock NOW.” The Captain flung the comm unit at Wash, unstrapped himself and ran towards the airlock.

When the Captain reached the airlock, Doctor Simon Tam was at Jayne’s side. He had already removed his crewmate’s helmet and had pulled the zero grav suit down to his waist.

“Is he breathin’?” The Captain asked hesitantly and out of breath.

“He is now.” The Doctor turned toward the Captain holding a rather large needle, “Adrenalin can be a useful thing.”

Tam acknowledged Zoe and Shepherd Book who had appeared behind the Captain and addressed the three of them, “We need to get him to the infirmary immediately.”

Malcolm Reynolds and his crew didn’t stop to argue orders, they instantly followed the doctors command. They hefted their large compatriot into the air and headed for the ship’s medical center.

* * * * *

A few minutes later, everyone but Wash was in the infirmary by Jayne’s side. Even Dr. Kevin Mitchell was concerned for the man who had risked his life to get his crew back on target.

Simon Tam finished cortically scanning his patient and bandaging his wounded head.

“He gonna be okay, Doc?” The Captain asked the question that was on everyone’s mind.

“As okay as he ever is.” Smiled the Doctor. “All he needs right now is rest. He received a lot of contusions and a serious concussion but the swelling has ceased and the medication I gave him should restore any brain function activity to…. normal.” His intonation went up to relay sarcasm.

The large man on the medical bed stirred. Jayne squinted at the faces surrounding him, “Whatchya’ll starin’ at me fer?”

“Just good to have you back, Jayne.” Smirked the Captain.

“Did we do it?” He asked feebly.

“We’re still alive, ain’t we? That’s somethin’…Don’t be thinkin’ that makes you some kinda' hero, though. ‘Mean, I’m glad you’re still with us, Jayne but don’t be spectin’ us to write any gorram songs ‘bout you.” The Captain grinned and all but Kevin chuckled.

“Cap’n, has anyone heard from Wash whether we made it back?” Asked Kaylee.

We’re still waitin’ to hear from him as to our exact whereabouts.”

“You let me know, Capt’n.” The patient mumbled as he drifted back to sleep.

Mal looked to the Doctor who resumed his caretaker role, “I’ll watch over him, Captain.”

“Thanks, Doc.” The captain and the others turned around to head toward the cockpit, leaving the Doctor and his sister in the infirmary to care for the patient.

“Hey Captain,” Simon called back to him. “Please, keep us informed.”

The Captain nodded and continued on toward the front of the ship with the rest of the crew close in tow.

Suddenly, the Captain stopped in the middle of the corridor and turned to his mechanic, “Kaylee, shouldn’t you be checkin’ Serenity for repairs.”

“I can hear her, Cap’n. She sounds good.” The mechanic fidgeted. “I’m really wantin’ to find out where we are, if’n it’s alright with you. Then I’ll git myself down to the engine room and check her…inside an’ out.”

“Guess we’re all a might twitchy ‘bout our standin’.” The Captain gave a knowing nod and kept walking with his entourage close behind.

* * * * *

“Wash, What’s our status?” The Captain asked even before fully stepping through the cockpit’s entryway.

“Took me a while to line up the stars and enter all the info into the NavCom but it looks like we’re on the direct opposite side of the ‘verse from Prime Sector. Heard some chatter and plugged into it. Requested a ChronoUpdate download.”

“Chatter is good…and…?” Replied the Captain rolling his hand to speed the pilot along. The pilot looked up at his wife and the Captain and smiled. “We did it. The gorram theory worked. Looks like we’ve entered the Eleusin Quadrant chronologically almost six months after we originally left the Dahshurn Quadrant.”

The Captain hit Wash on the back in a congratulatory fashion, “Looks like you just made history.”

Zoe bent down and gave her husband a huge kiss, “You done good, sweet potato.”

“And Jayne?” Asked the pilot.

“He’ll be as good as ever.” Replied his wife.

Hearing the news of their location, Kaylee, Kevin, Book and Inara celebrated just outside the cockpit entrance.

“Too bad no one will ever believe our little adventure.” Wash thought aloud.

“Well, one good thing may have come out of all this. If we’ve been off the Alliance’s radar for six months or so, maybe they’ve done given up chasin’ us. Zoe, you feel much like going to give the Doctor and his sister the good news?”

“Yes Sir, Captain.” Just as she turned to leave, alarms started blaring.

“What the hell is that?” Shouted a panicky Dr. Mitchell from the corridor.

“Proximity warning. Ship coming in.” Wash threw a few levers and punched a few buttons. “Captain, Alliance Cruiser bearing straight down on us.”

The pilot looked anxious, “Kay-leee?” But the mechanic was already halfway down the ship heading for the engine room.

The comm unit buzzed alive, “Firefly-class transport, this is the Alliance, you are hereby ordered to release control of your helm.”

The immense government ship emerged threateningly into their field of vision.

“So much for them giving up. Kwai chur hun-rien duh di fahng. Wash, we’re runnin’, go to Fast Burn, now!”

“Kaylee, give me everything she’s got left!” Wash yelled over the comm.

Down in the engine room the skilled mechanic swiftly rerouted the power flux to boost what fuel they had left while in the cockpit, the veteran pilot seized the controls, banking the ship hard and spinning her out. Serenity flew straight up over the Alliance ship, her tail lighting up as she disappeared into the black.

* * * * *

The End…

COMMENTS

Thursday, August 10, 2006 2:29 AM

AMDOBELL


Absolutely fabulous! And the whole going back to Earth-That-Was and the reception they got was spot on. Loved the whole crazy ride but you do realise you have set yourself up for a sequel, *dong ma*? Really would love to see what happens next. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, August 10, 2006 7:35 PM

ECAMBER


Ok, this was just a hell of a lot of fun to read. I love the dialogue, but agree with Amdobell. You really have set yourself up for a sequel. I want to know what happens with the love triange of the two doc's and Kaylee blissfully in the center. And how is the new doctor going to get his bearing in the Alliance 'verse? What the hell is he going to do with himself?

Friday, August 11, 2006 8:10 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh yeah! Mighty shiny, YoSaffBrig, mighty shiny! Definitely loved the setup and eventual escape from our time, but I gotta ask for a sequel too...please?

Definitely wanna see if things are drastically different for the crew, as it wouldn't be a time travel story without some mucking about;D

BEB


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