The Last One
Monday, December 4, 2006

Post BDM. The BDH's take on perhaps more than they can chew.


The Last One by 22 Claws

After Miranda, Serenity and her crew came to a time of uncommon prosperity. With the Alliance busy with general civil unrest, the aftermath presented them with a wealth of opportunities. The crew’s reputation grew. River proved to be very useful being now more in control of her amazing mind. Simon of course stayed on as ship’s doctor and River’s physician. Along with their prosperity, came the resources to make Serenity the ship she deserved to be. That and the challenges of her new relationship with the doctor kept Kaylee happy and busy. Zoe decided to take some time off, joining Inara on holiday at the Companion’s favorite resort moon. Jayne, after everything, has become a friend to the captain and family to the rest. Everything seems pretty shiny. As for the captain, he’s waiting for the catch.


Chapter One

The Garden

Serenity tears through the black, faster and stronger than ever. River is at the helm. She loves flying when the rest of the crew sleeps. Her mind quiets. It’s just her, the stars, and Serenity. In the last few weeks she’s learned to read the ship like she learned to read people. It’s been an interesting and rewarding challenge. She’s really part of the crew now. An important part. Like Simon. She is the pilot. And, she’s amazing. She doesn’t have a license, of course. She didn’t require formal training. She learned from Wash. He didn’t know she was learning, but she was. She watches everything. What she doesn’t see, she hears. The rest she either knew already or she learned from Serenity. Alone in the bridge she gets something suddenly she hasn’t had in a long time. A bad feeling. Captain Reynolds walks onto the bridge with a bounce in his step. He turns to regard River and stops abruptly. River sits in the pilot’s chair, slouched over, with her knees pulled to her chest and both hands on the wheel, eyes looking ahead, intently. She is wearing only a blue and black silk slip. “What the hell is that?” He says, indicating her attire. River shrugs. “You get that from Inara?” “Malcolm, I’m eighteen years old. I will dress as I wish. I like the way this feels. Besides, everyone is supposed to be asleep.” Mal begins to smirk. River turns away from the helm to look at him for the first time. “I can read your mind.” She says. “Right, then.” He says abruptly, a little embarrassed, but getting used to it. “So, it’s frilly silks and bare feet what gets us further and faster while we sleep?” “That, and I don’t have to worry about scaring anyone while you’re asleep.” River turns back to her instruments smiling. “So, we’ve got a new job.” She says. “No, little darling. We got ourselves a plum.” Mal says, grinning. “I’m not so sure.” She replies. “River, you see a worm in my plum, you need tell me. Otherwise, suffer me, please, to enjoy my moments.” “As you wish.” She answers. “Setting course for Tera: outer, outer rim.” She completes the navigation settings quickly and announces: “ETA twelve hours.” “Seriously?” He asks. She turns back to him and winks. “All right then. I’ll brief the crew at breakfast. Oh, you might, maybe wanna think about...” He hesitates. “Changing clothes.” She interrupts. “Well.” He struggles. “Dahng ran.” She replies coldly. “Shiny.” Mal claps his hands together, and turns to walk off the bridge. River rolls her eyes.


“Piss?” Jayne asks, a sharp skepticism in his voice. “Drug-free urine samples.” Simon answers. He, Jayne, and Kaylee sit and talk and eat at the breakfast table. Simon continues. “When I was on Osiris, it was discovered that some of the hospital staff took liberties with available pharmacology.” “He means stealing.” Kaylee offers. “Well, stealing, yes, and, more importantly, useing.” Simon continues. “Anyway, in an attempt to check this behavior, they established a policy of random, and somewhat less than random, drug testing. While I generally never needed assistance of that kind, I did hear things.” “Money for piss?” Jayne asks. “Generally?” Kaylee asks. “On the cortex. You could find, for a price, alternative solutions. “Piss.” Jayne says. Kaylee giggles. “Drug-free urine samples.” Simon answers. “Tian xiz shou you de ren dou galsi, I’m drug-free!” Jayne exclaims rather loudly. Then, noticing the expressions on his friends faces, he mutters, with a shrug and a frown: “I just mean, I reckon I’ve pissed away a fortune.” Simon stifles a snicker. Kaylee laughs out loud. Captain Reynolds walks into the room. “Where’s River?” “She’s not late, Captain.” Kaylee says. “She’ll be along.” “Do you know--” Kaylee says coming to her feet. “--how much speed we loose when she engages autopilot?” Mal shrugs. “A lot?” “A hell of a lot.” Kaylee glances quickly at Simon, then continues. “That’s also the whole difference between a reasonable pace, and the boo yao ming duh soo doo way she flies.” “Now, wait a minute.” Simon starts. “I’m sorry, sweetie. She pushes the engine, and she burns twice as much fuel as Wash did. Twice. And it weren’t like he was timid.” She adds. “And look, I’m all knowing she’s jing tsai.” Kaylee continues. She helped me plenty tweaking the systems, and had some shiny ideas to boost engine efficiency. It’s just, I think she’s reckless sometimes is all.” Kaylee sits back down. “Is she dangerous?” The captain asks. Kaylee fidgets a moment, looks at Simon, then shrugs. Mal gives her a look. “I’m just saying.” Kaylee continues. “Lucky for me, I’ve got the best mechanic in the ‘verse.” Mal says. “And, the best Pilot.” He announces to River who everyone just noticed is standing in the back of the room. “Tzao gao, River! When did you get here? Kaylee asks. “Just now. Thank you Malcolm.” River takes a seat. Jayne chuckles. “I think the captain has more to tell us.” She adds. “Right.” Mal says, taking a seat himself. “We have a job.” “What, without Zoe?” Jayne asks. “We won’t need Zoe.” Mal answers. “This is just a rich Matron throwing a purse at us for nearly no effort. “Don’t be so sure.” River says. “What’s she talking about?” Jayne asks. “Jayne.” The captain says. “And the rest of you. A rich girl’s simple sister ran away from her gilded skyplex digs to a nearby moon. All we have to do is bring her back and get paid.” “How paid?” Jayne asks. Mal considers a moment. “Wobbly-headed doll paid.” Mal answers. “Shiny. Why do they want us? Jayne asks. “Reputation.” Mal answers, somewhat proudly. “Really?” Kaylee asks in disbelief. “We might also have been the closest transport ship.” River adds. “What’s the catch?” Simon speaks up. Mal grimaces deliberately. “How did you and your sister ever get so cynical? “I wonder.” Simon replies sharply. “Must there always be a gorram catch?” The captain asks. “That’s for you guys to find out.” River says. “Distance to Tera--three hours on autopilot.” She stands to leave. “I’ll be asleep.”


Kaylee docks Serenity at the skyplex Orpheus, orbiting the moon Tera. Captain Reynolds, Simon and Jayne disembark, pass the gate and are received by armed guards and directed to a kind of parlor. The parlor of the Orpheus is luxurious and strange. Earth that Was artifacts stand in display all about the room. Unlike Haymer’s random display on Bellerophon, these relics have a common macabre theme. A collection of ancient swords, and battle axes, a series of tapestries depicting violent conflicts, and a bloodstained guillotine are just a few items to provoke conversation in the spacious waiting room. In a few moments a well-dressed man of slight stature enters the room to greet them. “Hello, gentlemen. How do you do? My name is Hugo. I am the caretaker of this facility. Mrs. Keeler will be along shortly to meet with you.” Hugo gives a slight bow, then goes on. “Can I bring refreshments for any one? Tea, cider, some brandy, perhaps.” Jayne perks up. “Right here!” “Very well.” Hugo answers. “Please make yourselves comfortable.” He says indicating a couch of oak and red leather. “I’ll be right back.” The three men sit on the couch. When Hugo leaves Mal asks: “This place seem a bit, I don’t know, spooky to you guys?” “I think River was right.” Simon answers. “Fei hua.” Jayne scoffs. “Just people what’s rich and weird. Relax.” Hugo returns soon with a small tray holding a crystal decanter of brandy and three glasses. He fills each one for the three guests, first for Jayne. “Thankyeh, Hugo.” Jayne takes the glass and drinks. Simon and Mal take their drinks politely but wait cautiously. Just then, a woman enters the room. She is middle-aged, tall, well-dressed, with dark hair and antique eyeglasses. “Hello gentlemen.” The men stand. “My name is Kitty Keeler. It was I that summoned you.” She walks over to the group. “Malcolm Reynolds.” She continues, gesturing to indicate his long brown coat. “I imagine that’s you.” “You imagine correct, ma’am.” Mal brings his glass to rest on a nearby coffee table and continues. “These are my associates, Jayne Cobb, and Dr. Simon Tam.” “I’m very pleased to meet you. Please, sit. Make yourselves comfortable.” She answers. She pauses, awkwardly, then gestures to Hugo. Hugo nods, and leaves. “I’m afraid that I may have inadvertently misled you, Captain.” Mrs. Keeler says carefully. “Mislead?” Mal replies simply, “I’m afraid so.” She answers. Hugo returns with a fourth glass which he fills with brandy from the decanter and hands to Mrs. Keeler. She takes a drink and adds: “Thank you, Hugo. Could you give us a minute.” “Very well, Ma’am.” He says and again leaves the room. “When I first contacted you, I told you that my sister had ran away.” Mrs. Keeler starts. Mal nods, taking a drink himself. Mrs. Keeler continues: “It seems now, I’m afraid, that she has been kidnapped.”


River wakes suddenly. Serenity. Her room. Her bed. Her life. She’s okay. Everything’s okay. Fists unclench. She exhales. Where’s Simon? Back on Orpheus, things have taken a serious turn. “Kidnapped?” Mal asks. “We discovered a ransom demand seventy-five minutes ago.” Kitty answers. Mal takes another drink. “How much?” Mal asks. “That’s not important.” Mrs. Keeler answers. “They won’t be able to hold her. My sister’s very smart, and she’s very strong. She’s also very, very unbalanced. She needs to be medicated and watched constantly. It’s only a matter of a short time before this gets ugly.” “Sound familiar?” Jayne quips. “What do you know?” Mal asks. Mrs. Keeler takes another second and another drink then continues. “She went missing yesterday, along with the station’s only shuttle. With the shuttle’s limited range, the only place she could have gone is the moon.” “Is anyone else missing?” Mal asks. “Um, I don’t believe so. No.” She answers. “If she was kidnapped, then the shuttle was probably a distraction. She could be anywhere.” Mal explains solemnly. “Run-tse duh Fwo-tzoo!” She swears. “So, I guess we wake up River.” Jayne says. “What does that mean?” She asks. “Never mind that.” Mal says. “Can we see the ransom demand?” Mrs. Keeler again summons Hugo and gives him instructions. He nods and leaves promptly. “What about your sister. What can you tell me about her?” Mal asks. With a deep breath Mrs. Keeler starts: She’s short. About 5’2”. Thirty-one years old. Long brown hair. Petite. But, strong. Very strong and crazy. You must be very careful with her. If she becomes violent, you cannot engage her. In fact, I’ll provide for you a battery of sedatives and a tranquilizer rifle. Contain her. Please, bring her back. Do not fight her. At all cost, you must not fight her. She is dangerous. Dong ma? “Check.” Mal answers simply. “We won’t hurt your sister.” Mrs. Keeler considers a moment, then accepts. “Okay, then.” Hugo returns. “This is the ransom note.” He says, presenting it. “Note.” Mal replies, suprised. He looks it over carefully, then passes it to Simon, giving him a look. Simon looks over the note then nods to Mal. “Does your shuttle have a pulse beacon?” Mal asks. ‘”Yes, I believe so.” She answers. “It will be easy enough to track the shuttle. We’ll find that first and decide what to do next.” Mal takes a communicator from his coat, keys it and says: Kaylee.” “Yes Captain?” Comes the reply. “I need you to trace a shuttle pulse beacon, I’ll give you the sig shortly.” Mal says. “Copy that.” Kaylee answers. “If I can send Jayne to collect that information from you staff, along with those supplies, we’ll get to it.” Mal says. “Of course.” Mrs. Keeler answers. Mal and party, with a new job and new toys, head back to Serenity.


“I’m not a fighter.” River says. She and Mal are alone talking seriously on the bridge. “I have training and conditioning, I know, but, I’m not like you and Zoe. Or, Jayne. You’re different. You’re willing. To hurt. To Kill.” She bites her lip a moment then adds: “And I know. There are times.You like It, a little. Sometimes a lot.” “It’s not that simple.” Mal says. “I know your thoughts. I know exactly what it is, and is not for you. I’m not like that, despite their best efforts.” River looks down, bereaved. “I hate it. It hangs on me, terrifies me, and torments me. Anyway, I’m the pilot. Just the pilot.” She looks up “Okay? Okay?” She asks. “ETA Tera moon? Mal asks. “Did you hear me? River asks. “I heard you. ETA? Report.” Mal demands. “We’re there.” She answers. “The shuttle is docked at a mansion with a garden and an orchard.” “Intel on the mansion?” Mal asks. “Just a moment.” River responds. “Okay.” She continues. “It is owned by a Napoleon Jackson. He’s shady. He’s guilty. I know it.” “That’s good enough for me.” Mal says. “I need you, Simon and Jayne to go with me to this mansion and investigate. Mal adds. “What were we just talking about?” River asks. “I understand. I said investigate. You’re just along for your brain. But, this might get sick and Zoe’s on leave. So, you’re coming.” Mal says. “Okay.” She answers. “Lets get to the shuttle.” River pilots the shuttle to land quickly and discreetly near the mansion. The crew disembark, and head in. Mal and Jayne are armed as usual, plus Jayne wields the tranquilizer rifle. Simon brings his bag. River is just River. They check the Orpheus shuttle. It’s empty. The captain tells Jayne to check it out. Within minutes, he’s done with the shuttle and investigating the surroundings. Here a broken branch, there a footprint. He’s an expert tracker. Minutes later, he’s ready to report. “It looks like you were right, Mal. One person took the shuttle. One person left the shuttle. One person with very little feet. Where I the type to indulge on the speculative, I’d call this a runaway--not a kidnapping.” Jayne finishes. “Ai ya!” Mal curses. “River?” Mal asks. “You got anything?” She looks around, shrugs and says simply: “Let’s check out the mansion.” The front door to the mansion has been smashed from the outside. Mal draws his pistol, and stepping over debris, leads the party inside. “River?” He asks. “Whatever happened is over. There is no one alive in here but us.” In the dining room, on the floor they find the body of Napoleon Jackson. Simon looks over the body. “His neck is broken. So’s his jaw. I would guess from one severe impact to the head. He’s been dead less than an hour, I’d guess.” “His soup ain’t even cold.” Jayne observes. “That means whoever or whatever did this is probably still here.” Simon adds. “Well then. The captain starts. “I expect we’d best find our distressed damsel before such events of any more undue harm should be befallin”. “River?” He asks. “The garden.” She answers. “Some one’s back there.” “Let’s go.” Mal orders. “Some one strong.” No one hears River whisper. The garden is walled by an impressive ten foot high wrought iron fence. Dense vine growth entwines the iron making it impossible to see inside. The gate is open. Mal points to the gate and with a few hand gestures establishes marching order and directs the group to follow him inside. First he, next River, then Simon, and finally, Jayne with the tranquilizer rifle, brings the rear. Once inside they walk a cobblestone path. There are short stone walls dividing some of the garden’s sections. They walk into a section of tulips and see a small gaunt woman in a print pattern dress picking flowers. She fits the description. In a loud voice, she sings: “You’ll show ‘em you’re a tiger...Show ‘em what you can do...The taste of Tony’s Frosted Flakes...brings out the tiger in you!” She jerks her pointing finger vigorously toward the sky. She waits a moment, as if for applause, then frowns. Mal signals the group to spread out around the woman. All move to order, except River. She stands transfixed, her face an expression of pure terror.


The woman in the garden stops suddenly. Her stance adjusts automatically. She looks up and says, “Visitors. I wasn’t expecting. Visitors.” She turns to regard the party and looks across the faces until she finds the captain. Seeing Mal, she drops her basket. Her eyes become first very wide, then, with a chill, very narrow. “You.” She growls. River screams. Jayne fires the tranquilizer rifle just an instant too late. The woman charges at Mal visciously. He reaches for his pistol, instinctively. She jerked it from it’s holster with her first action of interception. Uselessly, it spins and clatters across the cobblestone nearby. Mal and the woman tumble as she collides with him hard and fast. They both hit the ground rolling, each coming back to their feet quickly. She backhands him heavy across the face and spins to elbow him in the stomach with fluid devastating effect. Then, she swings a punch at his face, but River grabs him and flings him from the field of engagement. Without missing a beat, the woman launches an assault against River. The battle is almost casual at first, like a dance. But, as River’s defenses hold, things escalate quickly. River is very fast, but the woman is extremely strong. Superhuman. And, it would seem, some kind of expert martial artist. She adjusts and changes styles to buckle River’s defenses. She uses tactics and terrain to her advantage. However, River is also an expert, and a psychic. Attack after attack, River dodges or redirects. She’s not fighting the woman. She takes no opportunity to attack. She’s managing her--and she’s losing. A shaken Mal, from the ground, yells, “Jayne!!” Jayne, the tranquilizer rifle changing position points rapidly in his grip yells back, “She’s all over our girl, captain. There’s no shot!” River, giving ground, dodges blow after crushing blow for several more seconds before the woman locks her wrist and tosses her to the side, quite high and far. River summersaults in the air and lands on her feet. The momentum causes her to stumble and fall, hard. Jayne smiles and says, “Thankyeh Ma’am.” He fires the rifle. “Wu de tyen ah!” Jayne exclaims. The woman snatches the dart out of the air right before it hits her. She looks up, smiles slyly at Jayne, and says, “Thank you Ma’am.” She hurls the dart in a lateral spin with impossible velocity directly into Jayne’s heart. He slumps to the ground with a comical hurt frown. Simon rushes to help Jayne. The woman surveys the surroundings and again finds the captain. Mal, suddenly realizing his position, scans the ground around him desperately for his lost weapon. The woman continues to smile, and walks slowly toward him. Captain Malcolm Reynolds stands up. “Look miss, I got no notion as to why you want to go to war with me and mine. We sleuthed you out meaning no harm. But, if it’s war you want.” Her eyes blaze. “Come on, then.” He answers. She is on him in an instant. The captain is an experienced soldier and a very capable brawler, but he is hopelessly outmatched. He tries to hit her and she seizes his hand and twists and breaks his wrist, casually. She brings her elbow down and breaks his collarbone. He falls to the ground from the force of the blow. She glares at him. THWACK. The dart hits her in the back. She pulls it out, and turns to see Simon holding the rifle. “Well, look who just came to the party.” Simon struggles to ready the rifle for another shot as the woman closes on him. A shaken River, from the ground to a dead run, races to intercept. The woman is on Simon. She tears the rifle from his grasp with her right hand and then knocks him unconscious, with one blow, from her left hand. Completing her spin, she snatches River out of the air and hurls her with terrible force into the nearby stone wall. The wall explodes from the impact, leaving a cloud of dusty white powder. The woman stops. Breathes. Takes a moment to scan her surroundings. Then, she walks deliberately towards Mal. With pure malice she whispers slowly, “So, that’s everything. No weapons. No friends. No hope. Take all that away, and what’s left?” BANG. BANG, BANG. BANG, BANG, BANG. Blood erupts from the woman’s torso as the bullets burst through her from behind. With a grimace she falls to her knees. “Me.” River announces, solemnly. She’s holding Mal’s pistol. The woman puts both hands on the ground in front of her. Blood is soaking her dress and pooling on the ground around her. She looks up and with blood in her mouth says, “Okay, now I’m really pissed.” Then, she collapses. “River!” Mal yells. “Gwai-gwah long duh dong!” River just looks at him breathing heavy. “Get... BREATH Simon’s... BREATH bag!” River pants. She drops her arms to her side holding the gun like it weighs a hundred pounds. She begins to cry. “River, gorrammit, who the hell was that shlong-mah duh duang-ren? River takes a deep breath and says, sobbing: “Her name... BREATH Buffy Summers, BREATH ...She’s the Slayer.”



Monday, December 4, 2006 6:17 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER've resurrected Buffy?!? wonder she was trying to rip Mal to shreds! Other then a significant shift in dress sense and a variation on accent (Caleb, to me, sounded a lot more Southern than Mal does), it would seem Caleb is walking amongst the land of the living again! At least to Buffy;)

And why do I get the feeling "Kitty Keeler" is Dawn or Willow in disguise...


P.S. Need sequel ASAP! Cuz this is just shinier than chrome:D

Monday, December 4, 2006 6:46 PM


This is the tip of the gorram iceburg.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 6:43 AM


Caleb had a Texas accent but not really understanding why you have Buffy turning up in Firefly when there is no indication this is a crossover. Really loved how you did the action sequences. I hope Jayne is alright with that gorram dark hitting him in the heart and nice to see Simon come the Captain's rescue. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 6:44 AM


Ooops sorry about the typo, I meant 'dart' not 'dark'. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 6:59 AM


I am not a huge fan of crossovers, so a warning at the top would have been nice. I really like your writing style. Not sure if I buy Buffy in the Firefly 'verse, but it's definitely an interesting premise.


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