Unfinished Business -- Chapter Three
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mal makes a deal, reminisces about old times, and Simon considers an outing.


Unfinished Business

Chapter Three

Except for the bright yellow paisley-patterned sari, Thorvald Larson looked every inch the ancient Viking, from the flowing golden hair and beard to the knotted muscles of his biceps. Of course, Thorvald had never seen an ocean of any sort, but he would have looked perfectly natural on the deck of a longship, peering through the mists at an unsuspecting village. He used his size and overbearing manner as a business advantage, much as his Scandinavian ancestors had, by intimidating – sometimes accidentally – clients and vendors into better deals. Since most of his deals were clandestine, it also kept the number of disagreements to a minimum. Thorvald ran the warehouse block near the frozen port at Valhalla’s tiny mountainous capital, Bifrost. As such, he also ran the smuggling operations that kept the two Alliance inspectors away from contraband goods. As both of them were brothers-in-law, he had a pretty stable operation, and one utterly without competition. It was all too easy for him to sic his brothers-in-law on them than it was to indulge in using muscle. Most other men who enjoyed that kind of power in the demimonde would have abused it, gotten greedy and made enemies. Not Thorvald. He liked people, generally, and was expressive and generous to a fault, displaying Scandinavian hospitality with the expansiveness of a Texan. He used that, too, to his business advantage. When smugglers had a good, reliable drop and a ready market, they were more inclined to bring their trade to him, and return if they were well treated. Thorvald would rather make friends than enemies, he declared over and over again during the meeting, and he went out of way to prove it. “Caviar? My cousin Rori sends me some from New Melbourne, sometimes,” “Gives me gas,” Mal admitted. “Then herring – Rori’s wife Linda makes the best pickled herring, you must take some home!” he insisted. “I’m partial to herring,” agreed Mal, knowing from personal experience that the caviar would have been a far more generous and expensive gift – but that would also have colored the rest of the negotiations. If you took the herring, he knew, you went into Thorvald’s ‘just folks’ category of client. The caviar-takers got excellent service, as well, but at a much higher rate. And the herring category had other advantages as well. “So, you want these cigars?” Mal asked, offering a box. “Whether you do or not, I insist you take this box, my gift to you for all of your hospitality. Always a pure pleasure taking your trade, Thor.” “It is always a welcome day when Serenity hits atmo,” declared Thorvald. “Miss Zoe, where is she? And Wash? I see you left Jayne behind . . .” “As to that,” Mal said, his heart falling in an all-too-familiar way, “We tangled with some Reavers, a month or so back. Wash didn’t make it,” he said, sadly. “To be truthful, we all got banged up some. Do you remember that Shepherd what rode with us awhile? He passed away, too.” He didn’t go into detail. He was sick of it, already. In war, death was a simple, sudden, thing where there were rituals to keep the outpouring of feelings at bay until you were in a safe enough place to deal with them. You wrote the guy’s family, you sent his stuff to the Red Crystal to be sent home, and you spent your next leave blind drunk and weepy. By the time you returned to duty, you were more concerned about keeping his replacement alive than you were about your loss. Things were different, now. Wash had made plenty of friends out on the Rim over the years, and telling everyone he ran into about it was like reliving it all over again. He kept the details minimal, and the conversation short. Thorvald looked heartbroken. “Oh, my, Mal! The Reavers, they did not—” he asked, horrified. Mal cut that thought off before it could grow. “No, no, he wasn’t et. Or . . . violated. It was quick. He didn’t suffer,” he assured. “But Zoe’s still torn up about it, so she’s stayin’ close to the ship.” “Oh, that is tragic, really tragic,” he said, his eyes tearing up. “I will pray for him. The preacher too. Oh, what is this ‘verse coming to? The Reavers . . . its as if the trolls of legend had been reborn! You heard how this happens? The government? It makes me so mad . . .” Mal had the presence of mind not to point out that the Alliance, for all of its benign villany, had provided the legal regulations on cargo that made Thorvald’s business so lucrative. “Please, you tell Miss Zoe, she come to Thorvald any time. I’ll treat her right! Anything I can do, anything,” he said. Looking around the crowded storeroom he grabbed a few random bottles of liquor out of a crate. “My gift to her. Tell her to drink to his memory in my name. And I will pray for him. Oh, so sad, so sad.” He shook his head, and Mal had no doubt that he meant every word of it. No doubt Zoe would welcome the booze, too, unfortunately. “But to business,” Thorvald said, finally. “You have . . . chalk?” “Six thousand pounds of it,” agreed Mal. “What will you give me for it?” Thorvald named a price – one slightly higher than Mal had expected – and explained the new factories that were starting to ring Bifrost needed such things. Agriculture would not be an economic factor here for some time, but the Valhallans were excellent precision craftsmen, and they were starting to beef up their industrial base. Mal didn’t dicker – he knew better that to look Luck in the face and sneer. But he was pleasantly surprised at not losing money on his cover cargo. The cigars he sold at a tidy profit, after Thorvald tried one out, and he even took half of the god-awful licorice liquor off his hands. “You deal fair, Thor, as usual,” Mal admitted. “What do you have for sale?” “Where are you going from here?” “Muir. Maybe hit Ita, too.” “Muir? Strange place, Muir. Oh, you go to the Reunion!” he said. “There might be another ship or two about,” Mal agreed cautiously. While the Reunion was a secret, it was an open secret, and word had already spread through the demimonde. “I give you great deal, then, something the tree people will love,” he declared, hopping up. “They need them, too. You make big profit, for Thor will sell it to you for such a barest fraction over what he paid for it!” “What might that be? Not machinery – them folks got funny ideas about machines. Like to get blowed up, from what I hear. “Yes, yes, no, no machines.” Thorvald walked down the empty corridor and searched for a particular bay. “No, that is not – maybe this one? No – Ah! Here it is.” He punched in a security code and the door opened gracefully. Mal followed him in, the light coming on automatically. “Here it is, perfect for tree people,” he said, slapping a medium-sized crate with his hand triumphantly. “They love this sort of thing.” “What is it?” Mal asked, skeptically. “Bees!” “Bees?” “Bees! Honeybees! One point three million of them, all in hibernation. Twenty queens, all ready to go. But not just any honeybees, my good friend Mal! These bees, their honey . . .” he leaned forward conspiratorially, “they make a special compound in their honey. Aphrodisiac. Made up for rich playboy farmer. I have papers, they say what it is, how to get it out of honey. Take honey, and your root will be stiff as—” “I get the picture,” Mal agreed, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “Aphrodisiac, you say?” Such things had a market everywhere, of course. A couple months back they had turned a tidy profit on smuggling mastodon penises from Wuhan to Madonna. It would also be something the neo-Luddites of Muir would be interested in – a cash crop that didn’t require disturbing the precious biosphere. He could find a buyer there, he was sure. “I’ll take it. How much?” “For you? A mere two thousand, Fed. Or a thousand platinum. You have platinum?” he asked, eagerly. Since the Miranda Incident captured public attention, the Federal notes that served as the interstellar standard of exchange had lost value against hard metals, and folk were eager to hedge their investments against further decline by converting them to metals. “Two thousand, Fed, I’m afraid,” Mal said. They still had a little of the haul from Lilac that had started the whole Miranda Incident. “When can I pick these up?” “I’ll have Ormar deliver,” Thorvald said, nodding. “He will be picking up the monies, too. Though I am wishing it was shiny platinum he’s picking up,” he said, the closest he got to a push. “Sorry, Thor, all I got is Fed notes. None too happy about it, neither. But it still spends good – for now.” “Yes, I know it is terrible, what they say! On Sinhon, over a hundred thousand people protest the government. Riots on Hera – again. There was a coup on Silverhold, and Merovingian premier took his own life. Mutiny on two Alliance ships! And that was just on this morning’s wavecast! Such times we live in,” he clucked, shaking his head. “Well, never too fond of the Alliance government, myself,” he said with a grin, as he flourished his browncoat for emphasis. “Hate to see folk hurt and killed, but then again I hate to see folk what ain’t got a say in how they live. You reap what you sow, Thor, you reap what you sow. And those gao yang jong duh goo yang deserve everything they got comin’, after what they did.” “It is just sad, that so many have to suffer so,” Thor said, as he deactivated the light. “I wish some one would come along and make it right. Make it good for the little people again. I see a storm coming, my friend. Maybe our savior rides on its wings.” “Can’t wait for that, Thor,” Mal disagreed. “You gotta make your own way. You wait on someone else to do it, well . . . you might have a long wait. You just got to pick a direction and go there. And stay committed. Things will change, if you do that. Commitment is the first step. You lay low, you ain’t gonna see anything change.” He shook his head as he gathered up his gifts. “That’s the way of the ‘verse. You want change, you gotta be committed.”


“I have only one question to ask you. Are you . . . committed? Committed to the idea of liberty? Of freedom from tyranny? Of . . . independence?” the preacher asked, his eyes ablaze with righteous fury. The barn was crowded with folk, shoulder to shoulder, mostly young men and boys but plenty of women, as well. It was an eager crowd, and a well-armed one – Mal hadn’t seen a single hip go by unadorned with a pistol. And Shepherd Fong was on fire with the passion of his convictions. “For a hundred years the good people of Shadow have transformed the barren wilderness into a fertile globe, saw it go from rock to greenery, seen the atmo clear and the rains fall and mix with the honest sweat of their brow; this sacred soil holds our dead, until the day of Rapture, and it holds the promise of a better day to come!” He pounded the impromptu podium with his fist for emphasis. “The land of this world is sanctified with our blood, our tears, and our sweat – would you give away that hard-earned birthright to a bunch of sissified politicians on Londinium? Will you send your sons and daughters to the Company headquarters on Ariel in chains, along with your rents and taxes?” “NO!” the crowd shouted as one. Mal heard himself join in, along with Royce’s enthusiastic shout next to him. The air was thick with excitement and cigar smoke and the smell of moldy hay. “We have fought the world and died, we have fought the land and prospered – and now the so-called Alliance wants to return you to your shackles just moments after you’ve shed them! They want to control the price of your crops, the education your children get, the way you decide to celebrate your accomplishments!” A wordless roar echoed through the crowd. The cancellation of the Penumbra Fair had been a highly unpopular move by the Alliance-friendly administration. “When the next Company press-gang comes through town and tries to indenture your neighbor, will you stand idly by? When the next strutting cockerel from the Core comes in and tells you not to teach your children about the struggles of their ancestors, will you meekly bend your neck?” “NO!” the shouts came. “When a man stands up and says no to a thieving Company weasel, will you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him? Or will you let him hang at the end of a rope alone?” There was another visceral shout – and Mal had a bizarre tingling up his spine. The preacher was talking about his dad. Mal’s eyes blazed, now, and many were looking at him. Joseph Reynold’s execution had been far, far more unpopular than the cancellation of a fair – indeed, there had been a riot and other signs of discontent, despite his mother’s appeals for calm in the wake of his death. But Mal could never forget that awful day. He was somewhat gratified to know his neighbors had not, either. “I ask you again, Patriots of Shadow, are you committed? To Freedom? To the battle against Tyranny? To Independence from an unfair hegemony?” “YES!” “We aren’t alone,” promised the preacher. “On Boros, the Planetary Assembly has recalled their ambassador in protest of the Alliance’s insistence on the abhorrent practice of involuntary indenture. On Persephone, the Council of Nobility has passed legislation authorizing the establishment of a planetary militia! On Hera, the Congress has voted to resist the attempts by the Alliance-backed Company robber-barons to extend into perpetuity the Company’s one-percent land tax!” That was another unpopular issue on the Rim: every planet’s terraformation company had built into the constitution a perpetual 1% fee on the value of land every time it changed hands. Land that had already been paid for, in full. It didn’t seem like much, at first, but when taken on an annual basis it added up to a substantial sum of cash that went off-world and stayed there. The Preacher continued. “All over the Rim, there is a wave of discontent with those who would be our overlords! On little Freya the Alliance ambassador was turned away and the embassy burned to the ground by an angry group of . . . concerned citizens! The Silverhold colonies have rejected the imposition of a special tax to fund the very naval base that would keep them under the thumb of the Alliance military! The unrest reaches even into the very Core itself, my comrades, the very Core itself! On Yuan the people have already risen up to re-establish their chosen form of government, not one imposed by Alliance gunships! On Londinium itself there are riots and assassinations by stalwarts unafraid to take their unhappiness out on the symbols of oppression! We are not alone, my brothers and sisters. In Liberty and Freedom, we are never alone!” The crowd was roaring loudly now, so loudly that the PA system had a hard time coping with the volume. Mal’s own voice was lost in the cacophony, but he kept screaming anyway, just to add to the noise. “Now, my friends, is the time to organize,” insisted the preacher. “I have walked the length and breadth of this world trying to put order to our discontent. We have cells in Penumbra, in Twilight, in all the major cities! Everywhere my comrades are organizing the locals against the day when purple-suited combat troops invade your very homes and fields and shops! Organizing to stomp out the smoldering sparks of oppression as they arise, before the fire o’ertakes us and drives us to desperation! And that’s what I’m doing here tonight: I want everyone who is willing to commit their lives, their pockets, and their sacred honor to sign up for a cell – and when the time comes, we shall call on Shadow’s Faithful, and her sons shall ride to keep Freedom alive!” Mal and Royce walked over to the crowded table where the list was being kept, both glowing with the power of the speech. Mal was elated. He had never before felt part of something like this. He felt . . . important, somehow. “That was so incredibly shiny,” Royce intoned, solemnly. “I didn’t know all them other worlds were havin’ problems, too.” “Stands to reason,” Mal agreed. “We ain’t the only ones what dislike busybodies.” “It’s the slavery issue,” a young voice said behind them. They both turned to spy the fourteen-year old form of Rachel Chambers. She lived on the outskirts of town, between Finley and Corpus, where her family ran an apiary service. Had run, Mal reminded himself. The Government had shut them down last spring, at the height of their season, because they were operating without a proper permit. The Chartered Shadow Company enjoyed a near-monopoly on pollination services, and they didn’t like competition, no matter how small. Even protests that the Chambers were manufacturing honey, not marketing pollination, came to naught. CSC enforcers had come out and torched the apiary, all the hives, and two outbuildings, while the sheriff had stood there and kept Mr. Chambers from getting himself shot. Old Man Chambers worked in a small machine shop in town, now, and had leased his lands out. He was broken, his dreams of establishing a commercial meadery dead on the vine. “Who let the kiddies in?” demanded Royce, teasingly. Rachel ignored him. “It’s slavery what’s inspirin’ all o’ this,” she repeated. “Boros passed a law banning the practice. All indentures. Said the next slave ship to touch down wouldn’t lift again with human cargo. Even got a police force specially designed to back it up. But their Company has got the ear of an Alliance minister, and he’s sending troops to enforce the Alliance’s edicts now. Gonna be a fight, an’ it’s gonna start on Boros,” she declared with the certainty of a sixty-year-old pundit. “Well we ain’t real happy with it around here, neither,” agreed Mal. “Company tried to get my Dad to run slaves – he wouldn’t, so they fired him.” “And then hung him,” Rachel said, her eyes full of sympathy. Mal tried to ignore it. His Dad was his Dad, not some symbol to be remembered by. “Indenture for indebtedness is just . . . wrong,” agreed Royce. “Fall a little behind in your mortgage, and before you know it you’re shoveling gravel on Beaumonde or some other hell-hole and not seein’ your kids ‘till they’re grown. Maybe,” he added, morbidly. “They just plain gotta be stopped,” agreed Mal. “That’s why I’m signin’ up,” agreed Royce. “Me, too,” nodded Mal. “Me, too!” Rachel piped up. Both boys stared at her like she had suddenly grown a second head. Royce laughed. “You might wanna grow a pair o’ tits afore you try to sign up!” Mal didn’t laugh, exactly, but he did grin. “Really, Rache this might get a little rough. Really not a place for—” “Bi xue, hun don!” she interrupted, spitting derisively. “You think it weren’t rough to see every penny my Daddy ever made go up in smoke so that the Company’s stock could go up maybe a quarter point? Remember Beth Tsiao? She was in my class. She’s been indentured because her family couldn’t pay the atmo rates this year, and the bank wouldn’t give ‘em more credit. She’s gonna be a whore on Persephone, on a Blue Sun farm, now. You don’t think she ain’t got it rough?” the teenager demanded, indignantly. “Storm’s comin’, fellas, an’ we’re puttin’ an umbrella together. Gonna take all kinds, fourteen year old girls included. So shut the hell up and sign the gorram book!” she said, emphatically. To Mal’s surprise, the line ahead of him had disappeared, and now he and Royce stood directly in front of the wizened figure of Bob Renshaw. Once he had been a spacer – he had served with Mal’s dad, before they had both taken to country living. He had settled here, married, and had been the territorial constable for years, up until he had had to bring in Mal’s dad to face Alliance justice. After that he refused to run for reelection. He had been farming some, since, but mostly he had been agitating against the Company goons and the Alliance garrison. “Well, well,” he said appreciatively. “Nut don’t fall far from the tree, now do it?” “Hello, Mr. Renshaw,” Mal said, hesitantly. Renshaw was a friend of his Mama’s, and he was sure that the old man would rat on him. “Proud to see you here, son,” the man said, kindly. “Your Pa, he’d be proud o’ you, too. And you, Mr. Tesarollo, I thought I might see you here. You ready to sign?” “I was born ready!” he said, throwing out his chest. He bent and added his chop to the growing list. Mal did the same, wordlessly. “You might wanna send this ‘un home, Mr. Crenshaw,” Royce said, thumbing at Rachel. “She was lookin’ for a dolly tea party and got lost—OWW!” “Move aside, pork-for-brains,” Rachel growled. She elbowed her way past the two and put her chop down on the list. “There. I’m official.” Then she paused and raised her eyebrows. “Um, what am I officially doing, here?” “You three are now part of my crew,” Crenshaw said, smiling. “We’re in charge of all that happens in these parts, west of the Little PeeDee. East of the creek is Lamont’s territory.” “So . . . what are we gonna do?” asked Royce, hesitantly. “We’re gonna keep our eyes open and . . . discourage anyone who crows too loudly about the Alliance,” Renshaw said with satisfaction. “First meeting is this Sunday, after church. You boys know about the spot on the far side of the reservoir? The part you can’t see clear from the road?” “Yessir,” they answered in unison, with straight faces. They were intimately familiar with it. “Be there on Sunday. And bring your sidearms. Not likely to be shootin’, mind, but we might plink at some cans. To practice,” he added with a gleam in his eye. “Little lady, you got a firearm?” Much to Mal’s surprise Rachel produced a small, sleek black automatic .38 from somewhere under her dress. “Little bit,” she agreed. “I got it after they came, last time. Ain’t gonna be comin’ back another time, not without my cold corpse blockin’ their way!” “Good, good, I like your fightin’ spirit,” agreed Renshaw. “It shows commitment, an’ that’s what we’re gonna need. We got a good crew, I think, at least fourteen signed up so far. So all three o’ you, at the reservoir at about thirteen o’clock, just after the planet sets. Got it?” “Yessir!” all three of them said, proudly. “Great, you are all fine patriots, and I count it an honor to lead you. Oh, and children?” “Yessir?” “Wear something brown.”




“There!” Simon said, triumphantly. “I found it!” “What?” Kaylee said, lazily. “Some new position we ain’t tried yet?” They were laying down in Simon’s bed, between bouts of lusty exercise. It was River’s watch, so the passenger dorm was clear of interruptions. They could get as loud as they wanted – and Kaylee could be pretty loud, in a fit of passion. “No, no,” Simon replied, absently. “I found the citation I was looking for. I knew it was in here . . . I did a lot of basic background research after we got those images of River’s brain on Ariel. I rembered reading this. In the Annals of the Royal Academy of Neurology, Londinium. A paper on advanced amygdalar degeneration in autistic patients – fascinating stuff,” he said with a sigh. “Of course, I only get about a third of it, but . . .” “But I thought you was a doctor – and a good one, too?” Kaylee accused. “I am – but I’m a surgeon. Very little clinical research experience, I’m afraid – never had much patience for it. This is not only research, its neurological research – real brain stuff,” he translated. “So?” Simon thought for a moment. “What would you say you’re best at? As an engineer?” “Fixin’ what’s broke!” “I mean, which system do you feel the most affinity to?” “Oh, that’s easy. The reactor an’ main drive. I’ve always been a power-train girl, I guess . . .” “Exactly. And if the Captain asked you to program the navicomputer, could you?” “I could try,” she admitted. “But I wouldn’t wanna ride in her after I did. That’s programming.” “Exactly. See, our jobs aren’t that dissimilar! This man knows the ‘programming’. More importantly, he knows more about the nuts and bolts of the amygdala than any man alive, I think.” “Yeah? So?” “So he’s retired – semi-retired, I suppose. It says right here, ‘all correspondence should be sent care of . . .’ Anyway, he got sick of the academic environment and emigrated, just before the war. To Muir.” “Oh. Oh! This doctor—?” “Shin. Lester Shin. He’s a rutting genius.” “So he’s on . . . Muir? Why the hell would he go there?” “I have no idea,” admitted Simon. “But if I can get over to see him . . . it says here he has offices in . . . Buckminster? That’s where I need to go. You think the Captain will let me take a shuttle for a day?” “Don’t see why not,” shrugged Kaylee, prettily. “If you let River pilot. By why is seein’ this doctor fella so all-fired important?” “He’s my best hope of fixing River,” Simon said with quiet determination. “I thought she was all better, after . . . Miranda,” she whispered. “Well . . . yes and no. The psychosis she developed from carrying around that horrible secret, that seems to have resolved itself. But her underlying problem is still the same. She’s been butchered. Her amygdala – that’s a tiny, but very important, part of her brain – it was surgically stripped, and then augmented with a microfiliment superstructure of some sort. That’s apparently why she can read thoughts.” “So, this doc can fix her?” “If anyone knows how to, he will. I wonder if they had involved him in the project? He’d be a natural for that. I bet they at least consulted him, at some point. He’s my best place to start. I just can’t stand to see her like this, Kaylee. I mean, you know how she is now . . . you should have seen her before. A little shy, maybe, but bright and engaging, always ready with a cogent argument – that infuriated mother – and tenacity like you’ve never seen! “Now,” he said, wistfully, “she’s tortured. She’s withdrawn, and only partially lucid, and her memory is tricky. Plus she’s forced to eavesdrop on everyone’s internal dialogue. It’s like she’s a shadow of her former self, and it’s killing me! I need to find a way to restore her, Kaylee. Now that we’re – theoretically – not being hunted by the Alliance any more, I’ve got to find a way to bring her back to where she was.” “She’s pretty nice, if you ask me,” Kaylee offered. “Sure, she’s a mite unpredictable . . .” “Yes, that whole destroying a gang of Reavers with her bare hands thing – didn’t see that coming,” Simon admitted, wryly. “I just think you need to let River be River.” “Kaylee, I appreciate what you’re saying but . . . I just can’t do that. I can’t give up on her like that. I’ve got to find a way to bring her some peace, some normalcy.” “Yeah, because we live such normal lives. I’m just sayin’, seems like puttin’ her right ain’t gonna be as easy as fixin’ the reactor.” “But I have to try,” he said, quietly. “It ain’t your fault she’s like this,” Kaylee reminded him. “You’re the one what broke her out!” “I know it’s not my fault,” agreed Simon, a little irritatedly. “This isn’t guilt that’s motivating me—” “Isn’t it?” “No! It’s . . . she’s my sister. I’ve got to help.” “I know, sweetheart,” Kaylee said softly, biting her lip to the response that would have launched an argument. “You go see that doc. Let him look at her brain. Maybe he can help,” she said, unenthusiastically. “Thanks. I see what you’re saying, but . . .” “Look, Simon, this ain’t my specialty, okay? It’s yours. You see that doc if you think he can help. Hell, she can’t be much worse, I s’pose—” “Oh, yes, she can,” corrected Simon. “But you gotta quit obsessing about it! You need to let some of that guilt go. An’ you need to pays some attention to your gorgeous, oversexed girlfriend!” she said, throwing off the covers to expose her naked body to emphasize her point. “You seem to be in an awfully chipper mood,” Simon observed as he watched various soft round parts of her do an intoxicating dance. “We got the Reunion in just a few days!” she explained, excitedly. “Ships from all over the ‘verse. Lots of food an’ music, an’ dancin’, an’ booze. It’ll be fun, I promise! “A gathering of malcontented veterans and professional criminals getting drunk and high in the middle of a desert. Sounds like a laugh riot.” “You . . . you make it sound so bad when you say it!” “Hey, I’m a criminal, too, don’t forget. A better one than most of them, I’d imagine. I should blend right in.” “Um . . . yeah,” Kaylee said, doubtfully. “You look more like a cop.” Simon sagged. “Thanks, loads.” “No, don’t get all angrified on me,” she chided. “There’s some good things about lookin’ like a cop.” “And what might those be?” he asked, a little sullenly. Kaylee grinned, licked her lips, and made eyes at him. “Cavity search,” she said, softly, her eyes agleam.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006 7:19 PM


great as always, though I think you are going to spoil us pumping these out so fast. Not that i want you to slow down. i just know you can't keep it up.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 8:50 PM


The Viking implying there's a storm coming brings 'American Gods' to mind.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 10:52 PM


I am so very much loving this series.

It's refreshing and intruiging to see Mal in his youth. Especially compared to what he is now, it really emphasises the changes he's gone through in his life to become the man he is.

And Simon still trying to fix River..will that boy ever give up? Methinks not, and I hope that little path leads somewhere interesting.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006 6:38 AM


>“A gathering of malcontented veterans and professional criminals getting drunk and high in the middle of a desert. Sounds like a laugh riot.”

Sounds a lot like Burning Man to me. :)

Nice balance of Simon wanting to try and 'cure' River and not having Kaylee fly off the handle at him too badly. Their whole conversation was very well done.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 2:17 PM


Oh to fan the winds of war! I am getting a deep unsettling feeling about what is being stirred up on Shadow and the price the crew or some members of the crew might have to pay for it. As for Simon and Kaylee I liked Kaylee's comment about Simon letting River be River, but sadly in Simon's eyes his sister will always be broken. Not sure he will ever accept that maybe there is no way back, only forward. Whatever he decides I hope he rememebers that River has a right to choose what is done to her. It is after all her decision to make not his. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, October 13, 2006 7:20 PM


Well now...that was all manner of exciting! Definitely loved the linkage between Mal's conversation with Thor and his memories of signing up for what eventually became the Shadow chapter of the Independence movement:D

The Simon/Kaylee conversation was interesting though. Actually thought it would be about Zoe's chances of reproducing via a forgotten sample of Wash's DNA or something...but this makes for mighty interesting stuff. Especially if the retired doctor can actually do something significant to heal River's damaged mind. Though I wonder how much brilliantly-written angst this will generate when River finds out about this;)


Wednesday, December 27, 2006 10:11 AM


geez, all this bowing at the geeklord's feet really does your back in...



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Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty-One
The battle begins, Rachel changes plans, and River meets the politest baboon she's ever met.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty
The Uprising Begins

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Nine
A whole lotta folks get ready to do a whole lotta stuff.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Eight
The Confession of Dr. Rendell.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Seven
River remembers her birthday and meets a monkey . . . sort of.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Six
Inara Serra's Temptaion: The Lady, or the Tiger?

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Five
Inspector Simon and Dr. Romano have a little chat, and Fate gives him a gift

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Four
The excitement of piracy, the agony of waiting, and the anticipation of a completely stupid stunt!

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Three
Serenity arrives on the Suri Madron.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Two
Simon gets tested, Zoe gets quizzed, and Kaylee gets . . . satisfied. For the moment.