The Hunt - Part V
Friday, February 16, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Wing has Freya in his power ... second bite Friday, and the angst is still riding high. Feedback is needed!


River was in the corner of shuttle two, hunched up, her knees drawn as tightly into her chest as she could manage.

Mei-mei?” Inara hurried inside and knelt next to her.

“Pain,” the young psychic said. “So much pain.”

“Who, River?”

“Freya.” She looked up and Inara was shocked. Sweat soaked the girl’s hair, and her face was white as she trembled. “She’s trying not to scream, but I can hear her.” She tapped her temple. “In here.”

Mal stood in the doorway. “What the hell’s going on?” he demanded, then saw River. “What is it?”

“Freya … they’re hurting her … hurting …” She was panting so hard, trying to breathe, trying to block the sensations of bones breaking, of flesh parting …

“Where is she?” he managed to ask. “Do you know where she is?”

“No …”

Inara tried to hold her. “River, you have to –“

“Can’t see. Only pain. Only –“ She stiffened, then moaned, clutching tightly at her body.

Jethro stepped into the shuttle. “River?”

“No,” River grunted, her whole body jerking, and she screamed. “No!”

“Dear God …” Jethro leaned forward. “What’s happening?”

“She’s … she’s linked to Freya psychically.” Inara glanced up at him. “She can’t let go.”

River groaned, hardly able to think.

Mal swallowed. “What … what are they doing?” he asked. “What are they doing to my wife?”

River shook her head, trembling violently, then sprang to her feet and ran out of the shuttle, the others following as fast as they could. But the girl was quicker. She passed Jayne and her brother on the catwalk, just running, trying to get away from the pain, trying to hide from the torture …

“River!” Simon shouted, chasing her into the infirmary.

She was on the floor, pulling drawers out, her hands scrabbling amongst the contents, trying to find something to make it stop. Her brother grabbed for her and she kicked him away, but that gave Jayne the chance to take hold of her, pinning her arms, holding her close.

“Better do something, doc,” he said, fighting to keep her down.

“No!” she screamed, squirming, desperate to get away …

Simon reached out and picked up one of the hypos, reaching in past her flailing legs to get it against her neck, even as Mal shouted, “No, doc! Don’t!”

But it was too late as he plunged it home, the contents entering her bloodstream in a rush. She turned agonised eyes on her brother.

“Whitefall,” she said quietly before collapsing in Jayne‘s arms.


“Patience’ll know if there’s been anyone landing,” Hank said. “But she’s not gonna tell us.”

“Then we pay.” Mal’s voice was unyielding.

“Sir, we don’t know if that’s where they’ve taken Freya,” Zoe said.

“You got a better place to look?” Mal turned on his first mate. “Any place at all?”

She stood her ground. “No sir.”

They glared at each other until Hank said, “So you want me to change course.”

Mal grunted. “And wave Patience. Tell her … everything.”

“She’ll hold us to ransom.”

“If it takes me selling Serenity I’ll do it. Whatever it takes.”

“It’s a day, Mal. Even at full burn.” Hank was already inputting the code, turning Serenity to the right direction even as he spoke.

“Just do it,” Zoe said quietly.

“We’re going,” he responded. “Just saying, if we’re not sure –“ He stopped as she put her hand warningly on his shoulder.

“And call Dillon. Tell him we know who took Freya,” Mal said. “Tell him to find Wing.” He strode off the bridge towards the infirmary.


She couldn’t feel any more, not the individual bones breaking, or the other damage being done, the violations. Her brain had blurred it all into one ball of agony, where every part of her was crying out equally. And she couldn’t stop them. She’d tried begging, pleading, but they were methodical, uncaring, just going about their job while she writhed and screamed.

Until there was no more breath for screams.

Until the darkness that sat on the edge of her vision crowded in.

Until she managed to say one word through the blood in her mouth. “Mal.”

Until everything stopped.


Mal looked down at the sleeping girl, still twitching but, for her sake, thankfully unconscious. What she’d said, what she was picking up … He tried to hold it back, the rage and despair.

“It could have been poison,” Simon said fretfully, watching his sister. “Those hypos contain all kinds of -”

Inara, standing by the medbed and holding River’s hand, interrupted. “I don’t think she cared. It was too much –“ She stopped, glancing at Mal.

“It’s okay, ‘Nara. Nothing you can say is gonna make what I see in my head any the less.”

“She might be wrong. Maybe it wasn't –“

“They’ve hurt my wife. Somehow, they’ve hurt her so bad that she …” He was holding it together, but only just.

“We’ll find her.” Simon put his hand on Mal’s arm.

“That we will. Then we’ll find Wing. And he’s going to die.”

“There’s not one on board who’d disagree. And most would gladly do it for you. How he can justify -””

“Simon,” Inara said urgently, getting his attention.

The young doctor turned back to the medbed where his sister now lay silent, unmoving. He checked her vitals. “She’s asleep. Resting normally. No sign of …” He looked up at Mal. “It doesn’t mean anything,” he said quickly. “Maybe it’s just that the link’s broken, maybe –“

Mal didn’t answer, just dug his nails into the palms of his hands until he felt the blood dripping from between his fingers.

Outside in the common area, Jethro had his bible in his hands, his lips moving silently as he did the only thing he could to help - he prayed.


“Mind if I set a spell?” Jayne asked, stepping onto the bridge.

Hank looked around and smiled briefly. “Sure.” He glanced behind the big man. “Don’t feel like being with everyone else?”

“Mal’s talking to the doc and Inara, little Kaylee’s got Bethany and Ethan in the engine room with her, and Zoe’s watching that pofu.”

“And Jethro?”

“He ain’t moved from outside the infirmary since River passed out.” He sat down in the co-pilot’s chair, lifting one large foot to perch it on the console’s edge. “Sure seems devoted to her.” He looked surprised.

“They seem to be doing okay. Taking it slow.” Hank looked across. “You shiny with that?”

“Nothing to do with me.” Jayne leaned back and gazed out at the stars.

“So, Freya said you were working for Badger.”



“So … what?”

“Oh, come on, Jayne. Badger? You hate that guy!”

Jayne shrugged. “Kinda didn’t have much in the way of options.” He glanced at the pilot, noting that his grey eyes were honestly curious, his brown hair even more untidy than usual from the dressing across his scalp. “Got me a lift all right from one of those other boats, but that only got me to St Albans. Damn, but that was cold.”

“Wouldn’t they let you stay on board?” Hank asked, his streak of mischievousness playing up. “Didn’t even your winning personality convince them you’d be a welcome addition to the crew?”

“Yeah, sure, they were beggin’ me not to go,” Jayne said, the sarcasm heavy in his voice. “Nah, they were puttin’ in for a major overhaul, take weeks. Seems like their engineer weren’t so hot as they’d thought.”

“Oh. So it was the Humble,” Hank said knowingly, then smiled at Jayne’s baffled look.

“How’d you -”

“Kaylee mentioned Gertlser engines.”

Jayne nodded. “Yeah, guess she’d know. Blew out the main atmo feed first day out. We were limpin’ on auxiliary all the way.”

“So you wound up on St Albans.”

“Yeah. What a dump.”

“Can’t rightly say I’ve ever been there.”

“Don’t. It’s a place people’re always trying to leave. Or coming back to be buried.”

Hank didn’t comment on the odd tone of Jayne’s voice. Instead he said, “So you were stuck?”

“For nearly a week. Not that I recall that much of it, seeing as I was drowning my sorrows at the bar. Weren’t nothing else to do.”

“What happened?”

“Guess I was lucky. A freighter put in to drop off some supplies ‘n’ I managed to charm my way on board. Worked my passage to Persephone, humping boxes from one side of the bay to the other.”

“And you didn’t consider staying.”

“Nah. Surprised we got as far as Persephone, to tell the God’s honest truth.” He looked at the pilot. “You know, I’m beginning to think we’ve got a wonder in Kaylee. Seems to me most boats’re just a hair’s breadth from falling out the sky.”

“You’ve only just noticed?”

“Anyways, soon as we landed I was gone. Headed for the nearest whorehouse.”

“Proving you were still alive?”

“Something like that. Only …” He stopped.

Hank stared. The big man actually seemed to be coming over all embarrassed. “What?” he prompted.

“There was a fight. In the house. Some guys were making trouble, and I … well, the girl I was with was screamin’ and I …”

“Had to play the hero?”

Jayne shrugged. “Barged in, started knocking heads together. ‘Til the Feds came.”

“You telling me you got arrested.”

“Marched outta there stark naked.”

Hank’s lips twitched, trying hard not to actually envision the scene. “So you got banged up.”

“Yeah. So I’m sitting there coolin’ my heels - and pretty much the rest of me too - when who comes strolling in but Badger. Seems some of the other guys were his, and he’d come to bail ‘em out.” He grimaced. “Saw me and damn near laughed that hat of his off his head, he thought it was so hilarious. Anyways, after he’d recovered he asked where Mal was, and I told him we’d parted company. Didn’t say why, a’course.”

“Course not.”

“So he’s looking me up and down and says he could use a good man. Offers me a job.” Jayne scratched his beard. “And as much as I wanted to tell him where to get off, I didn’t figure I had much of a choice. Particularly as how I had no coin on me to make bail, being naked ‘n’all.”

“No, I can see that.”

“’N’ it don’t really matter who I work for … it’s all the same.”

“But Jayne … Badger?” There was a faint look of disgust on Hank’s face.

“I know. Ain’t just scrapin’ the bottom of the barrel so much as diggin’ through the wood.”

“Did you … get all the benefits?”

“Nah.” Jayne grinned suddenly. “Guess I was onto something good here.”

Hank laughed. “Guess maybe you were.”

“Nice to know people can have a good time while my wife’s missing,” Mal said quietly from the door.

Hank flushed bright red as Jayne turned to look at the captain. “It ain’t like that, Mal. You know it. There’s nothing we can do ‘til we get to Whitefall.”

Mal glared at him. “So you think that means you can -”

“Sir, we all know how you feel,” Zoe said from behind him.

“You know? You know?” Mal turned on her. “You have no idea how I feel!”

She didn’t move, just spoke calmly. “Freya may still be alive, sir. But I lost a husband. So I think I may have an idea how you feel. Sir.”

Jayne stood up. “You think we don’t care, Mal?” he asked, his thumbs hooked into his belt. “’Bout Frey? Just ‘cause she’s your wife don’t make her any the less our friend. And you ain’t the only one wants to see her home.” He pushed past the captain and strode off the bridge.

“He ain’t wrong,” Hank agreed softly.

Mal was still staring at Zoe, then something seemed to snap inside him and he crumpled slightly. “No. I suppose he ain’t.” His eyes closed as he said, “Sorry, Zoe.”

“No need to apologise,” his first mate said, exchanging a glance with Hank. “You know Jayne’s always had a soft spot for Freya. That’s why he let her know where he was, what he was doing.”

Mal opened his eyes again in surprise. “He did?”

“Yes sir. Freya told me.”

“She never said …”

“She probably doesn’t tell you everything.”

“You can chastise her when we get her home,” Hank added.

“Home. Yeah.” Mal turned to his pilot. “Try Patience again.”

“Yes sir.”

to be continued


Friday, February 16, 2007 6:46 AM


Oh, how I LOVE double bite Friday! The angst and the way you're describing the crew is absolutely perfect.

I have to wonder though how much Freya can suffer ... it seems she is the proverbial punching bag for just about everyone.

If I were her, I'd either want to die or leave Mal so that she could keep Ethan safe.

Friday, February 16, 2007 9:36 AM


Ah...but Mal would chase right after her, TamSibling. The man has quite the stupid streak when it comes to people hurting any female he loves, platonically or romantically. Xavier Wing is gonna wish he had taken a bullet between the eyes after what Mal will do to him. Make what was done to Atherton Wing in any encounter look...merciful;)

And loved the four-way emotional Mexican standoff between Mal, Zoe, Hank and Wash. Could feel the influence of Joss all around this scene. That and the rather brilliant previous moment where Jayne's telling Hank about what he's been up to since leaving Serenity;D


Friday, February 16, 2007 11:16 AM


Please post this weekend! Keep up the great work.


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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]