Shadow War - Chapter Five
Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Mal continues a little walk aboard the ship prior to Pegasus planetside.


Mal continued in long strides down the steps that led to the cargo bay. He heard grunts and the slap of flesh that sounded amazingly like a fist fight. He put all of his weight on his hands and kicked down the long stairs. He almost kicked Inara in the face. "Mal! What are you doing?", she asked as Mal drew his pistol. "Do you not hear what is going on down there?" he gestured with the gun. Inara had ducked twice to keep the barrel of the gun outof her face. Now, she gently grasped Mal's hand and wrist and slowly put his gun back in the holster. "I do hear it, and it is, in fact, instruction." Mal, getting a little angry that he already had to sort out a fight, and that Inara was being a little condescending, removed his hand from where Inara's were hovering. From under the catwalk, Simon, the ship's medic was slowly walking backward in a defensive pose. Not a bad one, either. Jayne was sitting on a crate, watching what was unfolding in front of him with his usually bemused look, which is to say, he looked confused and angry. Mal almost asked who Simon was sparring with, but realized a second before Book walked out on the offensive that there were few people Simon would take fighting instruction from on the ship. There were two, actually, and Mal was talking to one of them. While Jayne, Zoe, and Mal himself were the best at what could only be called a streetbrawler type of fighting, Book and Inara had been trained to fight hand to hand. Book swung so quickly at Simon that Mal hardly saw it. To his utter shock, Simon caught Books arm at the wrist, so that Book's hand was right in front of Simon's face. This, of course (And Mal saw it coming, Inara too, from her hiss of inhalation) set Simon up for a quick slap to the face. While Simon's eyes were closed, Book lowered himself quickly and kicked Simon's feet out from under him. Jayne, for his part, was visually impressed. He actually clapped when Simon went down, but that may have more to do with the doctor being injured than with any appreciation of fighting style. Simon was not injured; not in any lasting way, anyway. He rose, and bowed to Book before taking Jayne's place on the crate, as it appeared to be Jayne's turn. Jayne went immediately on the offensive, with a roundhouse swing that would have knocked Book cold, had it connected. Book easily ducked it and the next one before planting his foot on the back of Jayne's heel, spinning, and pistoning an elbow into Jayne's back. Jayne's back arched and he seemed to have lost possesion of his ability to walk. He hit the floor of the cargo hold heavily. "Jayne, son...why do you leave your back open all the time?" Book sighed, hardly out of breath. "Ain' back there!" Jayne wheezed. Book helped Jayne up so that he could walk it off. Mal watched all this intently. Not for the shock that Simon had actually taken an interest in fighting, but it was always good to know how Jayne fought. Jayne and Mal had had disagreements in the past, and Mal wasn't sure he could take the big man in a roll around, shirt jerking match. From behind Simon, barely visible was Simon's sister, River. She was watching the sparring very intently. Mal wasn't sure what to make of that. The girl was so smart that teaching her to take out a bigger opponent may not be a good idea. Simon had not seen her, or he would have stopped immediately, and asked her if anything was wrong. Jayne came back into view as Book stepped out of the way and gestured to Simon. Simon hung his head for a second and stood. Jayne waited for him to approach with a wicked grin. River also seemed to be grinning, and, given the situation, Mal headed down to the cargo bay proper. Simon and Jayne circled each other. Jayne feignted a couple of times, and Simon flinched. Jayne's grin widened as he ducked to the side and punched Simon on the shoulder hard enough to knock him over three steps. While he was off balance, Jayne grabbed him around the neck roughly. Simon began to turn red. For the first time, Simon caught view of his sister, and her smile renewed something in him. Simon looked down at Jayne's wrist, raised two fingers, and pinched in a known pressure spot. Jayne first grunted, and then howled as he released Simon and pushed him away, but not before tripping him and knocking him roughly to the floor. Simon still didn't release Jayne's wrist, and the only thing that kept Jayne from kicking Simon full on in the head was Mal's stern look of warning as he reached the floor. Simon was still on the floor gasping and in a full flinch with his eyes closed, expecting a crashing blow. When it didn't come, he gazed up in amazement at what at first had appeared to be mercy from Jayne. When he saw Mal there, he immediately released Jayne's wrist and stood. His lip had split a little when he hit the floor, and a drop of blood fell onto Mal's boot. "I'm sorry, Captain. I'll pay for that...somehow." "Not to worry, Doc. Not the first time I've gotten blood on me. Not the first of yours either, as I recall. What are you doing down here?" Book stepped forward. "A little instruction in the defensive arts can never hurt, Captain." Jayne, rubbing his wrist turned from the three men and spotted River, who was smiling knowingly at him. If she had seen the whole spar session, then she knew some of his weaknesses, and that didn't sit well with him. "Doc, lil' sis has been awatching." he grunted. "I know." Simon said, matter of factly. "Ain't you gonna see to her? Last I knew, she wasn't supposed to be wandering around the ship." "She's diong much better, lately." Simon said to Jayne as much as to Mal. "River, " said Book "would you like to learn too?" "NO!" said Jayne, Mal, and Simon at once. Inara joined the men, clucking her tongue. "For shame! All these big men afraid of little River." Mal drew her to one side. He was about to tell her why it would be a bad idea, but, since River was right there, and had a tendency to know things she shouldn't, he let it go. She could probably beat the hell out of all of the put together right now anyways. "Shepherd, "Mal said, regrouping " did you learn to do all of this?" "At the Abbey, son. All Shepherd learn a little hand to hand. It helps in meditation." "Meditation? Right...Well, don't do meditatin' on me anytime soon, okay." Book grinned and wiped his forehead with a towel. "Inara, would you care to join in a match?" "I'm sorry, Shepherd Book. There's just too down here for me to expose my ladylike fighting experiences. Some other time, perhaps. River, would you care for some tea in my shuttle." "Simon's bleeding. Jayne made him bleed after Simon squeezed the nerves on the metacarpal cartilage in Jayne's wrist just above the point of isthmus. That's where they used to crucify people." Inara only smiled. "I'll take that as a yes." She led River up to her shuttle as all the men watched them leave. "I have some captainy things to say. Jayne, I need you to get Zoe and some tie downs. Get some of these crates stowed before we land on Pegasus. Doc, is the infirmary stowed away proper?" "Sure. There may be a few things here and there, but, its pretty square." "Well finish the square" Jayne looked confused...again. "We're still a day away from Pegasus. Why do we have to do all this now?" Mal only looked at Jayne, and Jayne, in turn, looked at the floor. Mal immediately felt sorry that he shamed Jayne in front of everyone else, so he said "I have a bad feeling about this one. I mean more so than usual. Just get those things stored. I plan to tell everyone what I'm thinkin' at dinner. Dong ma?" "Yeah." Jayne said, happy that he had not lost face in front of Simon. Plus, he always liked the sound of trouble. Book just started to wander off when Mal said "Shepherd, a word?" Book, always happy to contribute anywhere he could, immediately perked up. He had voiced feeling useless before, and was always glad to help out the crew whenever he could. "Two things,"Mal said "one, could you help Kaylee mix some cerepoxy for the extender. We've got a crack, and you seem to know your way around the ship a little bit. Two, watch what you show the crew in the way of fightin'." Book started to protest, but Mal cut him off. "I don't mind Simon learnin' to fight. Boy needs to, in my opinion. But, little River was watching the whole time, and she doesn't need any new knowledge in how to hurt people, okay." "I wasn't teaching them how to hurt people. I was teaching them to defend themselves." "Yeah, looks like the good doctor's lip is still tryin' to learn some defendin'" Book looked down, and said "I understand, Captain." "Good! Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to prep a couple of suits. Three actually. You feel like a little space walk, today, Shepherd?" Book immediately brightened. "It's been a while, but I don't think its the kind of thing you forget." "Nope, I don't reckon so."

* * *

On Pegasus, a special platform was being built to recieve their "honored" guests from Serenity. Red Veil watched from behind his silk hood, seething. If he could not control his anger, it would get the better of him, and everyone would know it. It would not do. Not at all.


Tuesday, July 6, 2004 8:48 PM


I did chuckle at River and the self defence class. Mal certainly has good instincts,just hope he can keep something up his sleeve to help them out of the fix they seem to be heading into. Good myth, keep going! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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