From Bad to Worse, pt 05
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The feds arrive, a shootout involving the BDHs and Claire's posse ensues.


I found my muse, not sure where it was hiding, but hopefully it will stick around until the end of this series. mal4prez is a little responsible for said inspiration, her delicious mead having had it’s effects on my brain. 16 days until DragonCon and I am fair certain (read: very hopeful) that I will have it done before then.

- - - - -

pt 01,pt 02,pt 03,pt 04

- - - - -

Mal looked around at the little group, stunned into silence by the imminent confrontation that was much closer than he preferred it to be. Aside from Zoe, the rest of them seemed to be in the same state he was. Zoe was checking her weapon, making sure it was fully loaded, and moving up to the catwalks above the cargo bay floor. Gorram if that woman wasn’t as cool and precise as ever even under the stress of the coming gun battle.

“Okay, listen up.” Mal admonished, turning to face the rest of the assembly. “We’ll be in range to trade lead in a minute and a half, and I think we definitely have the advantage. We’ll close up the ramp, leaving only the airlock door open, and wait inside for their entry. I figure they don’t know exactly how many of us there are, so if we spread out through out ship in small groups we’ll have a better chance of taking more of them out before they are able to radio for backup. Claire, you’re with me. Jayne and Zoe will be another group, and the rest of you will be a third.” He paused, turning to face Amos and tossing the man’s gun back to him. He also tossed the man a little black box containing an earwig transmitter/receiver. Amos inserted the device into his ear as Tom walked over to the stairs where Zoe had left his gun leaning against a railing, picking it up and inspecting it to make sure it was ready for the approaching fight.

“There’s a crew member of this ship restrained in one of the passenger dorms,” Claire blurted out, her cheeks reddening slightly at the proclamation. Mal looked at her, one eyebrow raised in apparent admiration for her mercy for the original owners of the ship. She shrugged, looking down at her feet. “We will take the galley, so we have an exit down to the dorms or to the bridge or engine room if we need it. Tom, Amos, and Anya, take the infirmary and common area, that way they cannot get behind either of us.”

Jayne had already begun to follow Zoe up the stairs to the catwalks. “We’ll be on the bridge, plenty of hidin’ places and escape routes there.” He hefted his large gun over his shoulder as he disappeared through the doorway. Claire hit the controls to close the ramp, then nodded to Tom as Mal began to climb the stairs, she followed him toward the galley as the rest of her posse withdrew to the ship’s common area.

- - -

Kaylee entered the cargo bay, smearing a grease mark on her face as she tried to wipe it off. Looking down, she could see Simon and Shepherd Book talking idly beside the bay door controls, and River wandering absentmindedly around the floor, pointing at different spots on the floor as her lips moved silently. She bounced lightly down the stairs, turning her intoxicating smile on the young doctor as she approached them.

“What’s goin’ on?” she asked, cocking her head to one side as she continued to smile at Simon.

“Crime.” He stated plainly, a smile creeping at the corners of his mouth as well, proud to be able to use her expression and tone from the last time the lower cargo doors were utilized for a job. He desperately wanted to be relaxed and playful with her, and he figured this was as good a start as any. “We got the NavSat decoys loaded up and now we are just playing the waiting game.”

Kaylee’s eyes twinkled, remembering their interaction a few weeks ago when she had defended this shuai doctor that she hardly knew to the vulgar mercenary. “Ooh, crime, my new favorite passti...”

“She’s going to get a surprise that she’ll never see coming.”

River’s soft voice carried across the cargo bay, bringing a halt to the conversation. She was standing still, staring off into nothingness as she swayed in place. Simon hastily walked over to her, his features instantly becoming expressionless as his brain entered doctor mode. The incoherency of his sister’s thoughts and spoken words continued to trouble him, giving him both frustration in his inability to cure her and anger at the people who did whatever they did to her.

“River, who’s going to get a surprise?”

River turned to regard him with curious eyes, as if seeing him for the first time in months. “She misses him, and she’s jealous of all of us.” Simon, with a look of confusion on his face, continued to regard her in silence as she continued. “She wants things her way, just like he does, and she is more stubborn than he by far.” She smiled at Simon, turning again to look at the floor. “Six million, two hundred seventy thousand, four hundred twenty so far, how many have you counted, Simon?”

“Uh, well, only a couple of thousand River, I’ve been helping Shepherd Book load the satellites.”

She looked up at him, smiled, sticking out her tongue. “Told you I would do it before you.”

- - -

Ryan Harley walked briskly down the empty corridor, flanked by two pairs of elite commandos. They traveled in silence toward his personal craft, a small ship that was exceptionally fast and should get to the site right as they subdued his target. He had been looking forward to this bit of sweet revenge since the War ended six years ago. Now, within the hour, he would finally be face to face with her again, this time with the roles reversed and the advantage in his favor.

- - -

Mal and Claire headed to the galley, no words exchanged between them as they checked the room for vantage points. Mal decided on a spot behind the stove as Claire went to look behind the counter containing the cooking range. They both seemed content with their respective findings, and met in the middle of the room, near the large table.

“Whadda ya figure?” she asked him coolly, trying to keep her voice from betraying how she was really feeling about him. “Squads of five, two with radios, two without?”

“If’n they still do things like they used to, I’d say that’s a fair assessment.” Mal looked around for things he could move to create more cover, finally deciding on the dining table itself. He dragged it to the back of the room, flipping it on it’s side near the stove. “Good, solid wood table. Should block most of what they throw at us, seeing as they will most likely have sonic rifles and concussion grenades, try to take us alive so we can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I assume you are still not opposed to killing the Purplebelly hundans.”

“Mal, you know for a fact that I will never be opposed to that, as long as I still have breath within my body. You got a plan, or do we just wing it like we used to always do?”

“The way I see it, they have to come in that door there,” he gestured to the door opposite of his fortification. “I’ll start shooting first, draw them into the room, then you can pop up and surprise them. We should be able to drop an entire squad before they really know what hit them. Sound good?”

“Works for me. Let’s get set.”

- - -

“I figger Mal and that yao guai hu li jing have a history, and I figger you know somethin’ about it, so let’s have it.” Jayne had partially hidden himself in the recess in the front of the bridge, the lower level being optimal for remaining unseen. Of the three groups’ stations, theirs was the most precarious, having a long hallway to traverse before an escape route would be available. “Or, dare I say it, has he known her longer than he has known you?”

Zoe fixed Jayne with a cold stare, re-checking her weapons one final time to make sure they were loaded and ready. “We knew her in the war, she worked special ops. If you think I can be icy and harsh, well, that woman would make me seem tame and cuddly.” Zoe worked herself into a little niche, using the walls to then brace herself for a short climb up to the open area above the bridge. From her vantage point, she could see anyone coming in the room without them seeing her. Satisfied with her position, she spoke once again, “She and Mal hooked up for a while a couple of years after the War, she traveled on Serenity with us for a while. I don’t know why, but one day Mal decided that he didn’t want her around anymore, so he tossed her out on her duff and didn’t look back.”

Jayne laughed to himself, his eyes continuously scanning for any signs of the approaching skirmish. “At least he has good taste when it comes to their looks.”

- - -

Eighteen federal grunts rushed into the cargo bay single file, spreading out along the back wall as they did and covering all of the visible doors with their sonic rifles. Two sergeants entered last, taking positions on either side of the door. The shorter of the two turned, motioning for five men to head up the stairs leading to the bridge. He then motioned to his remaining four men to follow him as he headed toward the rear door of the cargo bay to the stairs that would lead up to the hallway outside the opposite end of the galley.

The remaining sergeant motioned for five of his men to go to the lower door that led to the common area, staying behind with the remaining four men to provide backup when it was needed. His mouth curved into a sneer as he thought about the hefty bonus he would get for apprehending this Priority One subject and her worthless Browncoat friends.

- - -

“Shepherd Book, what did you do before you became a preacher?”

Book turned to look at the young mechanic, a genuine look of surprise on his face. Simon had wandered off to stand beside River, his brotherly and doctor’s instincts intertwined as he continued to attempt to assess what had been done to her in an attempt to help to make her well again.

“Well, Kaylee, that is a bit of a bold question, and the answer lies in many long stories that would be better told around the dinner table or a campfire on a beach. Suffice it to say, I lived and worked on several Core worlds in some mid- to high-level positions.”

“Yeah, but what’d you do?” She smiled her mesmerizing smile at him, eyelashes over big eyes fluttering to enhance the effect.

“Maybe someday I’ll get the chance to tell you,” he winked conspiratorially at her, smiling and continuing in his soft yet stern voice, “but that day is not today.”

Kaylee poked her lip out in a mock pout, then bounded over to where Simon was standing beside a sitting River, the sibling pair looking a bit more relaxed than before.

“Hey you two, how’s it going?”

“We’re counting holes in the floor, River is somewhere over nine million, several orders of magnitude beyond myself. You can, uh, well, you can join us if you’d care to.”

“I gotta get back to the engine room, Wash’s gonna need me there if we need to make a quick getaway for whatever reason. ‘sides, I would have an advantage, seein’ as I already done counted them all myself at least twice.”

Smiling at them, she headed back up the stairs toward the engine room, River’s eyes following her with an envious stare.

- - -

Mal heard the footsteps of the first Alliance squad as it made its way to the bridge. They weren’t exactly trying to be stealthy, but then again, that wasn’t their way. The second squad was making their way up the stairs and into the galley. The first of the group entered, sweeping the room with his rifle as he moved along the right wall. The second moved in and started for the counter that Claire was hiding behind. Mal aimed his pistol at the soldier’s head as their sergeant stepped into the room. Mal could see the comm. unit on his belt, and in a split second decision he changed his target.

Three shots rang out, almost perfectly in time with one another. The fed approaching Claire had a new hole in his throat, which he was clenching with the last fading bit of strength he had as he fell to the floor. Mal’s shot had shattered the comm. unit, penetrating the device, his belt, and into the pelvic bone of the surprised sergeant. The third shot rang out from the bridge, and Mal knew that either Jayne or Zoe had dropped another one. Mal squeezed off a second shot as the sergeant turned to face him, catching him in the dead center of his forehead and knocking his already lifeless body backwards into the hallway, spraying blood and brain fragments on the men that remained standing.

Immediately following the shots was a confusion of shouting from the surviving men that allowed Mal to dive behind the stove and Claire to re-situate herself inside the small pantry, firing a shot that pierced both lungs of the first man into the room. Several more shots rang out from both the bridge and below, as well as the telltale sound of the sonic rifles’ discharge.

Claire dove out of her hiding spot, a shoulder roll taking her to the opposite side of the room. She already had her pistol trained on another man, into whose chest she quickly fired three shots, one of which was stopped by his armor. The fifth and final man of the squad came into the room, aiming at Claire’s crouching form. Mal leveled his pistol at the man’s right ear, pulling the trigger as he turned his face instinctively to avoid the inevitable splatter of bone fragments and gray matter that would rebound from the opposite wall, though it would be too far away to even come close to touching him.

A muffled scream rang out from the passenger dorms below, followed by a soft thumping sound. Claire looked at the dead and dying men strewn about on the floor, then ran to the door through which they came at full speed, crossing the threshold as Mal realized where she was going. Mal heard a gruff voice in his ear as his body seemed to be operating in slow motion.

“Anya’s hit, and we are pinned down. Some help would not be unappreciated.”

“Oh no you don’t...” Mal stuttered out as he leapt over the table barricade, following on her heels as fast as his own feet would carry him. As he reached the cargo bay, he saw the other sergeant headed up the passage leading to the bridge as Claire hopped down the stairs three at a time.

“Jayne, you have more incoming. Try to get the comm. unit so we can call in an All-Clear and keep the reinforcements at bay.”

Mal heard Jayne grunt a response as he continued down the stairs after Claire, seeing her pressed against the wall and aiming into the common area. Mal stepped through the door, pistol in hand, and proceeded to quickly fire off four more shots, dropping the remaining three feds with a variety of injuries. Claire shoved her way past him, giving him a scowl as she headed for her mechanic’s side. Tom had already lifted her, carrying her into the infirmary as Amos continued to cover them, his eyes constantly scanning for any more hostiles.

Mal heard a few more gunshots and sonic rifle blasts, then a loud curse through his earwig from his mercenary.

“Gorram xiongmeng de kuangren has a real gun, shot me in the ruttin’ hand.”

Jayne aimed and fired, returning the injury to his assailant and effectively ending the firefight. Moving himself from his cover, he was on the man faster than a man his size should be able to be. Using his uninjured hand, he grabbed the comm. unit off of the man’s belt, tossing it aside as a murderous look flashed behind his cold, dark eyes...

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pt 06

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Translations ( from ):

shuai (swai) – handsome

hundan (hwoon dan) – bastard

yao guai hu li jing – devil enchantress

xiongmeng de kuangren (shiong-mung duh kwong-run) – violent lunatic


Tuesday, August 15, 2006 8:02 AM


*holy gasp batman!!!* I can see Jayne getting all hot and bothered (and not in the fun way i dream about at night *wink*) by being shot in his hand. want to beat the guy to a bloody pulp eh? *rubs hands together excitedly*

LOVED LOVED LOVED!!! Kaylee asking about Book's past. His way of skirting about the question was perfectly in character. Playful and kind yet giving nothing what so ever away. Classic Book!!!

My favorite bit though, when Mal and Claire are discussing strategy. It felt very nature, you could feel their history and it's a moment of crisis so despite that 5 mins ago each was holding a gun at the other face, it's all about business at that moment.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 8:16 AM


I love how Kaylee asked Book about his past. That was great and how he avoided answering directly was so very in character for him.

I loved the River/Simon/Kaylee moment and this below gave me instant chills.

>River’s eyes following her with an envious stare.

Claire and Mal working together was well done too as was their dialogue.

I'm glad to hear we won't have to wait to read the end of this until after you get back from D*C!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 8:43 PM


Oh...the fluff and action really went hand in hand, RiverIsMyGoddes;)

Definitely loved how you had River react to Kaylee's comment that she had already counted the holes in the floor grates bratty sister moment;)

And even Mal and Claire wanna kill each other...killing Purplebellies comes first;)



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

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

From Bad to Worse, pt 10
Thrilling heroics ensue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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