BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

HOTPOINT

Here Be Dragons (Part X)
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

The crew find out why the Reavers are on the move


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3947    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

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

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

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

* * *

AI Warship Shadow Grounded – Revelation – 2520AD

Mal pounded on the side of the ship before sticking his head inside. Kaylee turned to greet him, but before she could, a voice boomed from the nearest loud-speaker.

‘It’s even worse than it looks,’ Shadow stated flatly. In Revelation’s thin atmosphere the AI sounded wistful, maybe even a touch melancholy. Hell, maybe it was melancholy -- it was self-aware, and the things were prone to certain mental complaints just like humans.

‘Can you fix it little Kaylee?’ Mal asked.

‘I’ll never be the same again,’ the AI moaned.

‘Shadow, shut the hell up,’ Mal ordered.

Kaylee pointed to a hole melted in the ship’s hull. ‘I can patch him easily enough, but not with anything anywhere near as good as the rest of his hull. Its super-shiny stuff must have cost a fortune.’

‘What about other systems?’

‘Main power linkages to the weapons were cooked, but that just means I’ll have to rip out the cables and put in replacements. There’s cable we can scavenge that should be thick enough to handle the load in the Reaver ships.’

‘What about the reactor?’

Kaylee took a deep breath. ‘It needs a major overhaul. It’ll work, but if too much strain is put on, it might fail. Perhaps catastrophically. Some of the parts got so hot they warped with the heat. I might even have to panel-beat the casing.’

A thought crossed Mal’s mind. ‘How’s the radiation?’ he asked, suddenly concerned for the integrity of Kaylee’s DNA if she was going to be here a while.

‘If Shadow was crewed it would have killed everyone aboard. As it is, the engine room is a bit hot and always will be. Not overly dangerous, just the effects of a lot of neutron radiation, but I wouldn’t want to stay there very long, so I’ll be pulling out parts and fixing them elsewhere I think.’

‘Anything else?’

The mechanic shrugged. ‘Between the heat, the radiation, and the vibration from re-entry, there’s a lot to fix.’ She paused. ‘Any ship that was not as well built as Shadow would have come apart completely.’

‘But you can do it? Fix everything I mean?’

Kaylee nodded in her EVA suit. ‘Like he says, he’ll never be as good as he was. His parts were beyond state-of-the-art, but I can get him flying.’

‘And fighting?’

‘You’d still have to be nuts to want to go up against him. The armament is intact. Even with the loss of some of his RAM he’s still pretty stealthy, and you can’t match the reaction times. He won’t be as fast or quite as hard to kill, but he’s still meaner than anything else I know of.’

‘I’m second rank,’ the AI said. ‘I could barely hold my own against a Destroyer.’

‘For pity’s sake, Shadow, you’re complaining because you can’t kick the living hell out of a line-warship ship five times your size anymore,’ Kaylee responded.

‘Up until now I could have snuck up on it, blown it to hell, and been out of there before they got a chance to say “what’s that whooshing noise” as all the air gets sucked out through the holes I put in their hull,’ Shadow complained. ‘It’s all your fault Reynolds,’ the AI said bitterly.

Mal winced. ‘I know I’ve asked before, but can’t you do something about this thing’s personality?’

‘The software is so far beyond me I wouldn’t know where to start. We can set basic directives, but as for the basic AI Core, there’s no chance.’

‘Then how did River get him to do that Pirate stuff?’

Kaylee looked away. ‘Well there’s a bit more to it, but basically she fed him a load of stuff from the media files in her computer and then told Shadow it would really annoy you if he used it.’

‘What?’

‘Arr, tis the truth Cap’n,’ Shadow announced. ‘I hate’s ye guts.’

Kaylee turned back to Mal. ‘He doesn’t seem to mind the rest of us nearly as much. He just really dislikes you. He doesn’t want to be here -- we’ve just chained him in code so he has to look out for us.’

‘I was shanghaied, and I’m still not happy about it, especially now I’ve been pulverised to save your sorry Browncoat ass,’ the ship growled.

‘Well, it’s a good job the opinions of a gorram tin-can don’t bother me none then,’ Mal said. ‘Get this thing running again as best you can.’

‘Yes, Captain.’

Mal jumped out of the ship’s airlock back to ground and began trudging back across the frozen surface to the Dome.

* * *

Serenity was docked whilst Wash used Granite Gorge to drag the Reaver ships clear of the Dome. Great gouges were being torn in the frozen ground as the big Trance Class Transport hauled the first Trans-U away using its monomolecular fibre tow cable.

The two Reaver ships that had remained docked were archaic Trans-Us, but there were some parts worth salvaging, and Wash had pulled out the more valuable pieces before he started the disposal work. The replacement wiring Kaylee needed for Shadow had actually been ripped out of the magnetic grapple on one of the ships and was now sitting coiled next to the AI waiting for her attentions.

The computer gear was too many generations old to be much use although some of the engine parts were still viable with a bit of attention. When Shadow flew again, it would have a refit that included parts from one of the Reaver Trans-Us plus spare parts from the stores of both Granite and Serenity. It was going to be a bit of a kludge, but it would work. Or so Kaylee insisted.

Zoe watched through the Dome as her husband dragged the ships away, then turned back to her class.

‘Remember to aim for the target’s centre-mass. A head-shot is more devastating, but it is also far more likely to miss. If you aim here,’ she said, pointing to the direct centre of her torso, ‘you can miss by a few inches in any direction and still knock the target down. Miss here by a few inches,’ she continued, pointing to the centre of her forehead, ‘and your target will just hear a whistling noise as your bullet goes past them right before their bullet goes through you.’

‘What about armour? Don’t people use armour?’ came a voice from the group.

Zoe nodded. ‘Yes, they do, but these rifles are military issue. They have a very high muzzle velocity and fire bullets with a solid core designed to penetrate most body armours. The downside is that they have higher recoil and are a bit bulkier.’

‘One more thing,’ Jayne said, stepping up, ‘Even if the bullet doesn’t go through it’s still got a shit-load of impact and will knock the húndàn flat on his back and might even break his rutting ribs.’ He paused for effect. ‘Then you shoot him again.’

The locals seemed disquieted by the casual profanity. ‘You mean while he’s laying there helpless?’ asked a plaintive voice eventually.

Zoe nodded. ‘That just makes it easier.’

‘I’m not sure I could do that.’

Jayne smiled viciously. ‘If he was shooting at you a second before, you’d be surprised what you’ll be capable of doing to him,’ he said.

Zoe struck her version of a drill-instructor’s pose. ‘Alright. I want the first dozen with me, the rest of you with Jayne here. We’ve set up targets down the road and told the clear-up details to stay the hell away from our shooting lanes,’ Zoe said.

The white-clad colonists began to separate into two groups. They all looked scared although they were all volunteers. The vast majority of the community had decided they did not want to learn the ways of violence despite what the Leaders had told them about the Reavers who had come to their world and who might come again.

‘You okay helping out with this Doc?’ Zoe asked Simon who was milling about.

He nodded. ‘It’s a bit different than teaching Science to the children, but I think I can do it,’ he said. Just then he spotted one of the colonists and pointed to him. ‘You,’ he yelled. ‘Yes, you, the really stupid one,’ he continued. ‘You were told to keep your safety catch on and rest your finger on the trigger guard, not the trigger, when not preparing to fire.’

‘But there’s no bullets in it,’ protested the colonist who Simon had singled out.

‘And if you don’t cure yourself of that habit now, when you do have bullets you’ll blow a whole in your friends or yourself and then someone like me will have to take the bullet out. Do you have any idea how difficult that can be? Well do you?’

‘No, Sir.’

‘Well I do, so in the future, do what you’re told,’ Simon stated coldly. ‘I’ll be watching you,’ he promised menacingly.

Zoe fought back a smile. Simon Tam, Drill Instructor.

To the people of Revelation, it was such a shift in their lives. They had travelled beyond the Rim to seek to avoid the rest of human society, but the violence had sought them out anyway. They thanked God for his mercy and assistance, for it was only their faith that enabled them to survive the upheaval.

* * *

‘Their faith nearly got them killed. The notion’s just so shiny, I can barely stand it.’

‘That’s one interpretation, but is it really necessary for you to sit there looking so smug?’ Book asked the Lancer who was sitting amidst a pile of captured weapons and ammunition, sorting out what to take and what to leave behind for the Colonists.

Steve did not look up but continued checking parts for wear and tear. Jayne had cleaned them up but had not had time to do an in-depth check before getting roped into teaching marksmanship. ‘Things turned out really well, so I can’t help it’

Book sighed, ‘I know you want to explain, so go ahead.’

Steven smiled as he continued to work. ‘The sheep found out that their reliance on faith over reality was a recipe for disaster. I still don’t have to deal with them because as an evil satanic atheist I’m still considered persona non grata, which is fine by me. None of us were hurt, and we kicked the shit out of a bunch of psychotic savages. Like I said, it’s just shiny.’

Book sat down on the decking and started to help with checking the weaponry. ‘It might be argued their faith is helping them through the trial.’

‘It got them into the trial in the first place,’ Steven smirked. ‘I bet it burns a bit that a godless heathen like me helped save their sorry asses.’ Steve chortled for a few seconds. ‘So shiny,’ he said eventually.

‘How are the children?’ Book said, changing the subject.

‘They seem fine. Happy to be on the ship certainly.’

‘Jennifer?’

Steve paused. ‘I’m not sure,’ he said. ‘She really didn’t want to spend time amongst the locals after what they did to Cally. At least we’ve got the clear moral high ground over them -- they beat our daughter and we still saved their lives.’

‘Is that victory enough for you then?’

‘No. There’s an old joke that stress is caused when one’s brain overrides one’s natural instinct to beat the heck out of someone that really deserves it,’ Steve pulled back the slide on an automatic pistol to check the smoothness of the action. ‘You might say I’m still a bit stressed.’

Book put his arm on Steven’s shoulder. ‘But reason prevails.’

‘Of course, that’s what makes us a worthwhile species. We may just be the spawn of monkeys, just another animal, but we don’t have to just follow our basic drives. Reavers do that -- that’s why we kill them.’

Book pointed to a loose crate of mixed caseless and brass-jacketed rounds. ‘Is the ammunition alright?’

‘Some of it looks a bit old and hasn’t been stored properly, so I wouldn’t try a lot of it with the Brimstone, but the rifles will fire it okay. If it misfires, you can clear the breech and try again. I fired off thousands of rounds -- it’ll take me an age to reload all those ammunition boxes,’ Steven said, pointing to another crate filled with empty rifle clips and Brimstone magazines.

‘We ended a lot of lives,’ Book said, a tremor appearing in his voice. His eyes went distant for a second remembering the fighting in the Dome and perhaps other memories further back in time also.

Steve looked at him. ‘We killed hundreds to save thousands, and the ones we killed deserved it anyway. Don’t beat yourself up over it.’

‘I’m supposed to be a man of the cloth. I’m supposed to abide by a higher code,’ Book pointed out. He looked deeply haunted.

‘Shepherd,’ Steve began. ‘It’s pretty obvious that you had a previous career that was not quite so spiritual, but we don’t talk about it because you choose not to. I assume you did something that made you seek atonement with God, but who knows. All I do know is that if I’m wrong and there actually is a God, then if he’s pissed at you for stopping the people here getting eaten he doesn’t deserve your worship anyway.’

Book smiled. ‘You seem to be adopting a very Mal-like simplicity, or should I say directness in your wording you know.’

‘He rubs off on people,’ Steve conceded. ‘I think everyone on the crew is gradually rubbing off on everyone else for that matter. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Jennifer is improving Jayne’s manners.’

Book smiled then nodded. ‘Some of us have lived on Serenity longer than others. Perhaps those other than Mal will rub off on you eventually too.’

Steve rolled his eyes. ‘You’ll never rub off on me enough to get me to accept religion.’

‘Early days yet, heathen.’

‘In your dreams, Shaman.’

* * *

Inara was back in her shuttle. She valued her solitude and with the hatch sealed it was an oasis of calm, especially given the fact the children were running around.

Alone at last she could let her emotions go. Even after all these months, her companion training and instincts could not be simply switched off. She tried to be her true self among others, but even with Mal that was beyond her. All she could manage was to do her best to show him how much she cared and try to be as relaxed as she could be.

It was hard not to play mind games with people. Hard not be the mirror for their desires or wants even when they didn’t really want anything from her anyway.

She loved Mal. She had told him so, and he loved her too. But why couldn’t she let her guard down and really love him as other women loved their partners?

And why did he keep trying to get himself killed, all that stupid posturing, all the macho gôu pì, all the crusading and the incessant tilting at windmills. Eventually his ludicrously improbable run of good luck would end and he’d be gone, and she’d be alone again.

Inara began to cry, weeping at first, then torrents as she let the emotions out. A whole ‘verse of men, even good kind ones, and she had to fall for one of the practically non-existent ones who would die for a cause, a friend, or just a stupid ideal because it was easier than not doing so. Now it was Reavers, before that Alliance agents and Federals, not to mention the criminals and other assorted scum.

Eventually the flow of tears stopped. Inara Sera mopped her cheeks and regarded herself in the mirror. ‘You look a fright, my dear,’ she told her reflection. ‘It’s a good thing the Noble Captain won’t be seeing you for a while.’

Her man had just saved an entire community from horrible death and defilement. It wasn’t fitting that he should have to ever see her like this. He deserved love and a reward.

Inara pondered how best she might reward him. She smiled slightly. Well there was also that thing he really liked.

The smile broadened.

‘Be honest with yourself, dear,’ she told her reflection. ‘It’s not just him that enjoys it.’

She giggled.

* * *

Simon ran into Mal just the other side of the airlock when he arrived at Granite. Wash had docked her in one of the places freed up by the Reaver vessels he’d dragged away, but most of the crew was using Serenity as a base instead, docked 90 degrees around the perimeter of the Dome.

‘Where’s Wash?’ Simon asked. ‘I thought he’d finished stripping parts?’

‘Now he’s helping Kaylee put them back in. To Shadow I mean,’ Mal replied. ‘He’s the only one apart from her who has the remotest clue what to do.’

‘So why did you call me back? I was busy helping Zoe,’ the Doctor asked. Mal breathed. ‘I need you to help out with our prisoner.’

Simon took a breath. ‘Like I told you before when we had Rundle on board, I won’t help you torture a human being.’

‘Don’t need you to. Just need you to make sure he don’t die. Just go outside if it’s bothering you, but wait nearby in case I call.’

River appeared, grasping on of their cache of dual-use stun-guns. ‘It’s got a full charge, Captain,’ she said. ‘Worked very well last time we did this.’

Simon looked very unhappy. ‘I didn’t approve last time, and that was a representative of the people that experimented on you. I don’t want you involved, River.’

‘You don’t control me, Simon. The Captain needs me for this, and anyway if I’m there we might not have to do anything at all.’

Mal had a slight headache and rubbed between his eyes. ‘Your sister suggests we calm him down with a shot of one of the smoothers you give her and then he might be stable enough for her to read.’

‘I tried before,’ River explained. ‘But even when he was still feeling the effects of the tranquillisers we gave him to keep him under, he was too disturbed. I brought along your medical bag from Serenity,’ she said, handing it to her brother. ‘I put a few extra drugs in that seem to work best on me when I’m not quite right.’

The Doctor opened his bag and took a look inside. ‘Alright I’ll help you make him more stable, but if you decide to let Jayne loose on him I’m going.’

‘We only used extreme measures last time because the Academy Agent was trained to resist reading. I don’t think our crazed guest is likely to have been through the advanced telepathic interrogation techniques seminars,’ River said, grinning.

Jayne appeared holding a large knife. ‘So do you want me to work over the gorram Reaver now or what?’ he asked in a businesslike manner.

* * *

They had him strapped securely into a chair and had already fed him a syringe full of mood stabilisers and mild tranquillisers when Mal woke him up in the most direct way possible -- by throwing a bucket of ice-cold water over him.

The Reaver had already been cleaned up some by an earlier drenching with somewhat warmer water when he was totally unconscious. He had been more than a little bloodstained although this was likely more due to prior butchery than the recent battle. He was actually unwounded except for a large lump on his head, this being the result of Zoe’s rifle-butt when she’d captured him after practically tripping over him as he scrambled alone through the dark. The plastic handcuffs she’d bound him with had since been replaced with manacles that the crew had found on Granite thanks to its earlier time as a slave ship. Everyone was sure that their new guest was much more deserving of the chains than anyone else who might have worn them.

Mal guessed he was in his late twenties. Horrifically scarred, although these could have been self-inflicted as Reavers were known to do, desecrating their own flesh as they did that of others. There was, when you looked hard enough though, a certain symmetry to many of the scars, which spoke of an underlying pattern perhaps. Maybe it was partially decorative?

River could hear her Captain’s thoughts. She wondered if he knew much about anthropology, but she could well imagine him studying some lost jungle tribe in the wilds of Earth-That-Was. She envisioned him in a Pith Helmet and resisted the urge to smile -- it might give the Reaver the wrong idea.

‘Okay, Reaver-boy. Here’s the situation. We need to know more about you, and you’re going to tell us.’

Their captive was gagged, and mumbled something beneath it. Mal looked at River, who nodded.

‘Take off his gag, Jayne,’ Mal ordered, ‘and watch out for those teeth -- they look sharp.’

The big mercenary looked more than a little concerned but untied the gag and pulled it off the Reaver’s head. He wore his hair long and unkempt, and it needed pulling free of the knot where it had tangled up with it. As soon as it dropped free of his mouth, the Reaver snarled and made to bite Jayne, who pulled his arm out of reach.

‘I thought he was drugged.’

‘He is,’ Simon replied. ‘I wasn’t sure of the dosage -- in part determined by body mass and partially by temperament. I guess I should have measured out the prerequisite dose for a total psychotic.’

The Reaver’s pupils were dilated with the drugs, but he continued to snarl and began fighting with his chains.

‘He can’t break, those can he?’ Jayne asked. ‘I’ve heard tales of crazies having super strength and such.’

‘He’ll snap his wrists before he snaps those chains,’ Mal responded.

The Reaver began growling, and the fight against his bonds became frantic.

‘He’s totally out of his tree,’ Mal observed. ‘Give him another injection.’

Simon reached for his case. ‘I can only give him so much before he either dies or passes out. I’ll give him another 10 CC’s but that’s it.’

‘He really doesn’t like that idea,’ River observed. ‘Not the dying, the talking I mean.’

Mal reached over and smacked the Reaver around the head to get his attention. ‘You’ll talk. If the drugs don’t work, Jayne there will,’ he said, pointing out the mercenary who was holding up his over-sized knife. ‘We’ll give you scars that’ll make you the hot-date at all the best Reaver functions.’

The Reaver spat, but his aim was off, missing Mal’s face by a whisker. His reaction was swift with a left jab that sent the Reaver’s head backwards where it lolled for a couple of seconds until he bought it back with a look of hatred on his face replacing the previous crazed one.

‘Hey, the lights are on it looks like. Guess you will be able to tell us what we want,’ Mal said with a smirk.

‘Oh shit,’ River suddenly swore and was bringing her stun-gun up when suddenly the Reavers face contorted and he spat again, this time hitting Mal in the chest.

A smear of blood and saliva remained on his jacket as something else fell off and hit the floor. Blood began to drip from the Reavers mouth, but he seemed to be smiling.

‘He bit his rutting tongue off!’ Jayne exclaimed.

‘Sorry Captain, I didn’t know what he was going to do until it was too late,’ River said as Simon dashed in to stick a needle in the Reavers arm.

Malcolm Reynolds pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his jacket clean. Simon’s injection kicked in fast, and the Reaver suddenly looked very dreamy and placid despite the blood dripping from his chin.

With a neutral expression, Mal leaned in face-to-face with the Reaver. ‘Nice try son, but a bit of a wasted effort. We don’t need you to be able to talk out loud,’ he said. ‘That girl there can read your gorram mind,’ he said nodding to River.

‘By the way,’ Mal continued, ‘I hope that really fucking hurt.’

* * *

Transport Ship Serenity – Grounded on Revelation – 2520AD

Wash looked dubious. ‘I know they’ve been vandalising their way across the rim for years but…’

River groaned. ‘No, I mean they’re like Vandals.’ She seemed to be trying to emphasise what she was saying. ‘Alright, think Goths.’

‘The pale youngsters in too much black makeup -- what the hell have they got to go with anything?’

Another groan. ‘Communication could be hard if you’re on a different wavelength,’ River thought.

‘Are we talking barbarians here?’ Steven asked.

River looked skyward. ‘Yes that’s what I mean. I’m sorry. I sometimes have trouble getting the message across.’

‘Really?’ Wash asked. ‘Because we’ve never heard you communicate by metaphor before.’

Zoe turned to her husband. ‘Stow the sarcasm, dear. You seem to be following, Steve. What’s she on about?’

The academic looked to River, who nodded. ‘Alright,’ he began, ‘for those lacking a classical education. During the decline of Rome as a Great Power, it was beset by a series of Barbarian invasions from the East. One of these groups was called the Vandals, which is where we get the word vandalise from because they sacked Rome. The Goths were another one.’

‘So the Reavers are barbarians. We know this,’ Mal said. ‘What’s the big discovery you were talking about?’

‘Not invasions. Migrations. Waves of them pushing each other along,’ River responded. ‘The Reavers are migrating this way because they have to.’

‘A migration would explain the unprecedented numbers, but why are they moving?’

River frowned. ‘Think Huns,’ she said.

‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ Steve exclaimed. ‘Huns?’

Mal looked annoyed. ‘What the hell are you talking about?’

‘Oh, sorry, right,’ Steve replied quickly. ‘It turned out that one reason why all these Barbarians were moving further and further into Roman territory was as much they were being pushed that way as they were expanding their territory.’

‘Pushed?’

‘Yes, there was another group of even more militaristic expansionistic barbarians called the Huns who were pushing west, and the Goths, Vandals, etc were being pushed along themselves. It was all started by a load of bad harvests and a plague but that’s another story.’

Jayne looked thoughtful. ‘As in Atilla the Hun you mean?’

Everyone looked at him.

‘I saw an old movie once. Guy on a horse with a spiky helmet and a load of guys with axes and swords chopping folks up.’

‘That’s the guy. Chief warlord of the Huns,’ Steven said. ‘Not that that’s relevant. Anyway I think River’s trying to tell us that the Reavers are migrating because someone else moved into their space and kicked them out.’

‘Yes, exactly,’ she replied. ‘Forced migration.’

‘Hang on,’ Mal said. ‘Are you telling me that there is something out there so bad that the gorram Reavers ran away from it?’

‘No, at first they fought back. They usually run alone, one or two ships, but they had to team up to try and fight back, died by the thousand, won a few minor victories, but in the end they had to retreat. The Reavers are scavengers -- the weapons and technology they have are looted and pillaged and much of it is obsolescent. These new arrivals seem to have more modern equipment and an industrial base to replace their losses. In the end, the Reavers gave up and headed this way. They wanted Revelation as a new base, not just as a source of food and supplies.’

‘So are there going to be more Reavers heading this way?’ Zoe asked.

‘Yes, lots more. They have a temporary base to galactic spinward where many of their remaining ships are grounded for repair. Their new enemy gave them a severe bloody nose in their last battle before they ran, and they needed to hole-up before moving on.’

‘How long?’

‘Maybe a few months, then this place will be knee-deep in cannibals again. A lot more that we can handle.’

‘Tāmāde,’ Mal swore. ‘We can’t haul all these people out of here in that time.’

‘If we stand and fight we’ll all be killed,’ River stated flatly. ‘We can’t defeat the barbarian hordes here -- it’ll just be our Adrianople.’

‘Battle where a Goth offshoot called the Visigoths defeated the Roman Army,’ Steven explained.

‘So what do we do?’

‘We boost off and leave them to it with all the weapons we can spare,’ Zoe said.

‘So we save them then abandon them?’ Book said. ‘We could save the children?’

Mal nodded. ‘I reckon that’s the best we can do. I won’t have my crew dying in a hopeless cause. One with a marginal possibility of success I can deal with. Certain death is a bit too…’

‘Certain?’ Jayne offered.

River leaned back in her chair. ‘I have another option,’ she said.

‘I’m listening,’ Mal responded.

‘The Reavers are all pretty bunched up on the planet where they’re under repair. Most of their ships are stripped down and can’t move.’

‘So?’

‘Pre-emptive strike,’ she said. ‘Classic military tactic.’

‘Attack them?’ Jayne said incredulously. ‘You’ve gotta be rutting kidding.’

River stood up. ‘They’re grounded for repair. What they can put up at the moment, Shadow can knock back down easily enough.’

‘What you thinking?’

The telepath took a breath. ‘We still have the two thermonuclear devices that the AI was carrying. We can spare one for this operation. A Five Megaton airburst detonation taking place a couple of hundred feet over their base will be more than adequate to curtail their operations,’ she paused. ‘Shadow can run interference whilst we drop the device from Serenity. All we really need is a big parachute and an improvised fuse.’

Total silence whilst everyone digested what River had just said.

Jayne burst out laughing. ‘Reaver weather forecast,’ he said ‘Hundred-Thousand Degrees. Very Cloudy.’

Inara had been listening quietly until now but spoke up. ‘Are you seriously proposing we fly straight to a Reaver base and attack it with nuclear weapons?’

‘I have become Shiva, destroyer of worlds,’ River said without a hint of emotion in her voice. ‘Really bad worlds.’

‘It has a certain excessive appeal, I’ve got to admit,’ Steven said, starting to laugh himself, which started Jayne off again. ‘Lets face it -- what’s the chances they’ll expect an old transport ship to be nuclear capable?’

An image of the people he’d found hanging butchered on hooks on board the Reaver ship flashed through Wash’s mind and the promise he’d stated to himself at the time.

‘Let’s kill every fucking one of them,’ the pilot said. ‘I’ll fly the mission. No problem with doing that at all.’

Everyone looked to the Captain. It was his call.

* * *

Cally was very annoyed that once again she had been excluded from the conference. She was waiting for everyone when they left.

‘So what’s going on?’ she demanded to know.

Everyone went quiet as they thought what to say to the young girl. Well except for Jayne.

‘We’re going to go drop a nuke on a Reaver base,’ the mercenary replied.

Cally thought about this for a second.

‘That’s really shiny,’ she said with a broad smile. ‘Can I come?’ she asked hopefully.

Part XI

COMMENTS

Wednesday, June 2, 2004 2:06 AM

GEEZER


Oh, Man. It just gets better and better. Love the forced migration concept providing a whole new level to the Reaver problem.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004 9:28 AM

ARTSHIPS


One of the things I love about your stories is that you handle the dialogue so well. Text, dialect, and character, all authentic and believable. The history you throw in just makes it better. Thank you, Hotpoint!

That being said... Who's tougher than Reavers?!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2004 1:16 PM

AMDOBELL


Oh wow, talk about kicking ass! And I loved the grumpy AI personality still having a grudge against the Browncoats in general and Mal in particular. As for nuking the Reavers in a pre-emptive strike I'm just so gorram glad that River is on our side! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, June 9, 2004 1:14 PM

MALSDOXY


Another really great chapter in a riveting story...god, what could make the Reaver's run scared ? Can't wait for the next chapter, Hotpoint


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After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

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

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

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

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

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

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