Wish I Was Somebody Else, 12/26
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Balch's job gets unpleasant. But what can you do?


12. Can We Maybe Vote on the Whole Murdering People Issue?

Balch and Toupin found the Professor on the floor of Balch’s office. There was blood in the chair, blood on the desk, blood on the broadwave console, blood on the floor.

“Get him up,” Balch said. Toupin moved the body; Balch shoved his chair out of the way. Ignoring the blood on the console -- he was already pretty filthy, from checking out the destruction on the mine, so what did it matter? -- he keyed in the broadwave code for the Alliance destroyer. When their comms officer appeared, he said, “Uh, we got us a problem down here – explosion on the Number Three line. Wondered if you all might send us some help for the wounded.”

The comms officer relayed his request, and soon Balch was talking to the destroyer’s captain, who promised to send aid as soon as they returned to the planet. Returned? Where had they gone? When had they gone? Oh, well. “Got some bad news, I’m afraid,” Balch said. “That fellah you wanted alive? Well, he got caught in the blast.”

The captain stepped offscreen, and an Alliance Commander stepped into it. “Is he dead?”

Balch looked over his shoulder. Toupin had laid the Professor out on the floor. At Balch’s inquiring glance, Toupin shook his head and mouthed, not yet.

Well, close enough, Balch decided. Certainly nobody looking at that bloody mess would assume the man was still breathing. “’Fraid so. Sorry ‘bout that.”

The Alliance officer nodded. “I’m sure it wasn’t your fault,” he said. “Coles out.”

The screen went dead.

“Well,” Balch said to Toupin, “That was a mite too easy. Whaddya think? Is he too far gone?”

Toupin shrugged.

“All right. Get him to the infirmary, put a couple of units of blood in him -- or whatever else he needs -- if we got it -- and stitch up that gash.”

“What if triage --?”

I’m triage, and I’m putting priority on people who are valuable to me. The Professor there is as valuable to me in his way as you are in yours. Dong ma?”

Toupin looked surprised, but nodded. “Your call, Boss.” He lifted the Professor’s limp form easily, and carried him out.


Coles cut the transmission. So Washburne was dead. Well, it wouldn’t matter now; he had Serenity. Would have ordered the man killed soon enough anyway.

“Coming up on the beacon now,” the comms officer reported.

“Bring it in,” Coles said, and left the bridge to go and meet his captives.

He arrived in the docking bay to find four crewmen standing around a bit of space junk. “Where’s Serenity?” he demanded.

An Ensign gestured at the space junk. “Right here,” he said morosely. To Coles’s plain incomprehension, he offered a fuller explanation, with gestures. “Here’s her distress beacon and transmitter. Power source. Pulse beacon. Looks like they ripped the stuff right off their own ship and flew on without it.”

A trick.

Coles turned on his heel and strode to the intercom, where he punched the bridge code. The Captain answered. “Take us back to Haven,” he snarled. “Fast as she’ll fly.”

He cut the intercom, and another thought occurred to him. Washburne. Another trick? In a blinding rage, Coles made for the nearest broadwave console and ‘waved the mine. The rotund Foreman’s face appeared, filthy and sweating and solicitous.

“Do you have Washburne’s body?” Coles demanded.


“The man I told you to keep alive – do you have his body?

“Uh,” the Foreman mopped his brow. “Sure.”

Coles’ eyes narrowed. Muting the broadwave, he punched the bridge code into the adjacent intercom. “How soon will we be at Haven?”

The answer came back: “Four hours.”

Coles drummed on the console, near to exploding with impatience. “Could we get there any faster?”

“Not Polyphemus,” the captain replied. “But I have a scoutship that could be there in less than three.”

“Send it. Now!” Coles ordered. He reactivated the broadwave. “You hold that body for me. I’m sending someone to make sure that man is dead,” Coles growled, and cut the ‘wave.


Balch’s infirmary had four beds. Right now they were all occupied; those who could sit up were in the chairs along the wall. Some of the rest were on the floor. Balch stepped carefully over and around the wounded, looking for the Professor. Washburne. Balch grimaced. He hated knowing names. It made his job harder, when he had to do the unpleasant bits. And his memory was such that once he’d heard a name, he never could forget it. Rotten luck for him that the Alliance Commander had let it slip.

The Professor was in a chair against the far wall – sitting up, conscious, a messy zigzag of fresh stitches above his right ear and a nearly empty bag of blood hanging on the wall behind him, dripping into his arm. This Cat was sitting in his lap. Balch stopped in front of them.

“You’re looking a mite better,” he observed.

Washburne – Professor, Balch corrected himself stubbornly – just looked up at him wearily.

Balch grabbed a miner who was tending the wounded. “Find Toupin,” he said. “Send him to me.” The miner nodded and left. “I told the Alliance you died in the blast,” Balch said to the Professor. “Thought that took care of your troubles and mine. But they got some kind of grudge against you, and they’re sending somebody to make sure.” He waited, but the Professor didn’t react. “They want to see a body.”

The Professor closed his eyes.

Balch dug out his keys, and unlocked a medicine cabinet that stood nearby. He pulled out a vial, checked the label, and then fished a syringe out of a nearby drawer. He noticed the Professor watching him warily.

“I don’t really like much to shoot people,” Balch offered, by way of explanation. “Especially the ones I’m partial to.”

“That’s nice,” the Professor said. “That makes me feel so much better.”

Toupin appeared. “Get a coffin,” Balch said. To the Professor, Balch said “Alliance wants to see a body, I got to show them a body. Can’t be helped.”

The Professor just stared dully at him.

“Waste of two units of blood,” Toupin observed.

“Well, now, that all depends,” Balch said, drawing the drug from the vial into the syringe. “Say good night, Professor.”

“Go to hell,” the Professor said.

“We’ll all be there soon enough,” Balch said mildly, and pushed the syringe into the IV.


Thursday, February 8, 2007 11:46 AM


I am so cheering Balch on, hope the drug he dopes Wash up with will fool those *tamade hundan* when they go to check if he is alive or dead. I'm also thinking the coffin is a nice touch, just as long as you don't really kill him, *dong ma*? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 8, 2007 12:52 PM


Sorry, I've already been chastised once about spoilers, so I don't dare tell.

Thursday, February 8, 2007 2:27 PM


Wonder if the stuff Balch just shot Wash up with is the same kind of medication used on Simon and River to get them into St. Lucy's on Ariel? Cuz that could do the trick nicely;)


Friday, February 9, 2007 10:09 AM


Omy I really hope that the crews hopes of finding Wash **alive** were not in vain!


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The Four Winds, Epilogue
The end...or maybe just another beginning.

The Four Winds, Chapter 25
The rest of the crew return home.

The Four Winds, Chapter 24
Me and Elwood, we're puttin' the band back together.

The Four Winds, Chapter 23
Inara investigates matters; Mal discovers that the impossible has been done in his absence.

The Four Winds, Chapter 22
River needs Mal to solve her problem; Mal is forced to provide information to the Alliance.

The Four Winds, Chapter 21
When Mal tries to recover the cargo, will he lose more than he stands to gain?

The Four Winds, Chapter 20
Mal makes changes to his plan; River puts her plan into action; Inara decides on a plan of her own; Wash finds something he'd lost.

The Four Winds, Chapter 19
Simon gets an alias; Mal gets a look at his client; Wash gets a shock.

The Four Winds, Chapter 18
Our Heroes - and Our Villains - try to figure a way out of the mess they're in.

The Four Winds, Chapter 17
River finds out what's really going on; Simon and Zoe fall into the wrong hands.