Saturday, February 17, 2007

Reavers all over the place on Ariel. Mal & co decide to go to safety elesewhere. Picking up supplies from the arsenal. Reavers attack the same. Cliff gets wounded. Arrival at the stronghold. Someone unexpected from Jayne's past turns up. Ares the dog has an interesting encounter with another dog.


PART NINE * The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling Way down in the valley tonight There's a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye And a blade shining oh so bright Theres evil in the air and there's thunder in the sky And a killers on the bloodshot streets And down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising Oh I swear I saw a young boy Down in the gutter He was starting to foam in the heat Oh baby you're the only thing in this whole world Thats pure and good and right And wherever you are and wherever you go Theres always gonna be some light But I gotta get out I gotta break it out now Before the final crack of dawn When the day is done And the sun goes down And the moonlight's shining through Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven I'll come crawling on back to you * Bat out of Hell - Meatloaf [So I'm an old rocker chick – so sue me!] * Vera cocked her guns, “Thinking the Reavers isn't the only reason you got Mal and Inara back.” Grayson inclined his head, “No, but it's a gorram pressing one and we could use every gun and weapon hand we can get.” Zoe gave Grayson a hard stare, “And the children? How are we meant to keep them safe?” Grayson gestured under the dais where Mal and Inara were sitting. “Hidden compartment right there.” Under the sound of pounding on the roof and screams getting closer, Zoe and Kaylee hurried their children to the space. Sam and Lee began to cry, Sarah was protesting loudly. “Don't want to go in there.” Zoe grasped Sarah by the shoulders, “It's far too dangerous out here, sweetheart. Reavers are worse than the big bad wolf and every evil stepmother you've ever heard about in fairy tales. I'm trying to keep you safe, along with Sam and Lee. *Please; imagine you're playing hide and seek.” At that moment, one of the windows was smashed in and a couple of Reavers swung in on chains. They were still wearing tatters of Hunter uniforms. Sarah took one look and screamed, “Bad, ugly men!” “You got it; in there, please!” * As she was ushered inside, someone else dealt with the two Reavers. Kaylee quickly kissed the twins and bundled them in the space, closing the door. She did her best to ignore them crying. She stood nearby, loaded gun in hand, along with Zoe. Then the fight really began. More Reavers burst in through all the doors and the windows in a full on assault. “Gorram ruttin' evil...” Jayne had his teeth gritted in determination as he fired. He hadn't been face to face with Reavers very often, mainly because they scared the living daylights out of him and everyone else who wasn't mad or a Reaver themselves. What the Reavers thought about anything wasn't known and no-one wanted to hazard a guess. The Serenity crew and the armed 'welcoming team' formed a solid crescent in front of the dais. “Thanks for finding us,” Mal managed, in between shooting Reavers. Zoe took aim, “Had a feeling you'd be here, sir.” * Ares was standing between Jayne and Vera. His hackles were raised at the Reavers and he was vibrating from nose to tail in anger at the Reavers as he growled. This was worse than encountering that crab. He had enough canine sense to realise that attacking the humans who smelt wrong would be a fatal move. Oncoming Reavers were dispatched quickly and relatively efficiently. Aiming for the head seemed to be the best strategy. Some of them were armed with guns, so the pile of dead or injured on the defending side grew; but the pile of Reavers grew more quickly. Eventually, after some hours, there was a lull in the onslaught. Grayson's radio crackled into life. He flipped open the connection. “Grayson speaking. Yes. They're everywhere? Bombs? Fires? Okay; time for the “Tolkein” scenario. Arsenal? Yes, I'll see if we can pick up some too. Grayson out.” He turned to all those who were still standing and conscious. “The Reavers are over-running the city. All the living Hunters, remaining Reavers and some new...recruits. Thousands of them. Bombs, pillaging and the rest. Army's working with the Air guard and taking everyone from the city out to the Zhai*. Intel is that there's more Reavers on their way here and they've got bombs; big bombs.” he looked at Mal, “How many folks can you fit in Serenity, sir?” “Think we can get all that's living in there, Grayson. Is the Zhai prepared to receive us?” Grayson gave a curt nod, “Always is. I'll double check on food supplies and the water reservoir. If you can take the extra payload, we could use as much weaponry from the arsenal as possible.” Mal nodded, “She'll take quite a bit of weight before she complains. Once had a whole herd of cattle in her safely across the black, with people and supplies as well. Kaylee, can you nurse the engines to carry the heaviest payload possible for safety?” “Sure thing, Capn'.” She was already at the hidden compartment, fetching out her children and Sarah. The little girl was curled up in one corner, chin set even though her lips were wobbling slightly. Sam and Lee were dozing on her knees. “Lee 'n Sam were howling, so I cuddled them tight 'n then they went to sleep.” Zoe choked back a huge surge of emotion as she retrieved her daughter, “That's my good girl; you'll make a great Mummy one day.” “Don't like them yelling. It was too loud,” then she saw the bodies of the Reavers, “Ooooh, yuck!” Zoe held her closer, “I know, but they won't be hurting you, Sarah.” Mal sighed softly to himself, then his chin came up, “Okay, we're going move and stand fast in the Zhai.” “We ain't gonna stay and fight?” “When we get to the Zhai, Jayne. Lots of fighting then. The place will withstand just about anything, up to and including a direct nuclear strike.” * Everyone worked their way back to the roof in a phalanx, checking every doorway and corner along the way. It was getting dark when they made the roof garden, with fires burning across the city in all directions. The air was full of smoke, screams, sirens and explosions. Windows shattered in the streets nearby. Down in the plaza on one side and the wide boulevard on the other were smashed vehicles, bodies and the stench of death. At the end of the boulevard a dark mass was moving towards them. It was an army of Reavers. “Merciful Buddha,” Vera breathed, “Assimilating the Hunter squadrons has made them organised; well, *more organised.” Jayne looked at her. They were both tired, spattered with blood from assorted Reavers, their own superficial wounds and from a number of Grayson's troops. “We're getting' outta here, darlin'.” “Shame Serenity can't drop bombs.” Vera commented. Mal grinned, but without much humour, “She can! It won't be precision, but we can lob down grenades and mortars through the hatch in the cargo bay.” * Grayson nodded and made signals to two of his men as they got into Serenity. The two soldiers rushed back into the building and brought back armfulls of mortar shells. Some of the Reavers ran forward in the mean time and began planting bombs at the base of the presidential palace. Serenity got airborn in the nick of time as the palace exploded in a fireball beneath them. River and Cliff went around in a holding pattern, then swooped down once the flames and smoke subsided slightly and the mortars and grenades dropped down into the Reavers. Ares even cocked his leg over the gap. Jayne grinned, “That's my dog! C'mere, you mutt!” Ares ran to him, tail wagging. The flight to the arsenal was spent allocating people to spare bunks and the other shuttle, then making space for weapons and the extra troops in the cargo bay. * Serenity touched down on the roof of the arsenal as night desceneded on the city. It was a low, squat, grey utilitarian building with rather anachronistic Oriental decorative flourishes at each corner of the roof. A line of supply was set up, with guns, bullets, bombs and grenades being passed from one person to the next and up into Serenity's cargo bay. Cliff was somewhere near the bottom of the line, sending messages up to Mal to ask if such and such an item might be useful and would fit. Jayne and Vera were helping him. Simon was busy in the infirmary, patching wounds. He asked for more medical supplies and they were sent up the line. An urgent shout came down the line. Reavers were in the street outside. There were heavy bangs and thuds on the door not far below Cliff. “Keep going till the last minute, eh!” he urged, “We need more bullets and explosives!” Jayne hefted a couple of big grenade launchers and their ammunition and walked back up the line. There weren't many others in the present company who would be able to carry that much all at once. He huffed a bit, as the load was at the limits of what he could carry. Vera picked up extra granades and was turning to pass them up the line when the front door bust open and Reavers streamed in. Everyone began to run for it, Cliff last. He was in the act of closing one of the internal blast proof doors when a three pronged Reaver scarifier weapon caught him in the back. He tore free, got the door shut and bolted behind him and collapsed in a sea of blood. Two of Grayson's troops carried him back up the line. Everyone piled into Serenity and she took off. * Cliff was semi-conscious by the time he got to the infirmary. Simon took one look and hooked up an intravenous drip immediately, injecting a good dose of morphine into the mix. He cut Cliff's shirt off. Three deep gouges ran from the top left to bottom right of Cliff's back. Simon sucked in his breath. He washed the wounds as best he could, then pulled down Cliff's pants to give him antibiotics and tetanus injections in his rump. Then Simon prepared a special poultice and was in the middle of spreading it over Cliff's back when Zoe came in. “How is he? Someone told me he was badly hurt.” Simon nodded, “Reaver scarifier. Cliff's got three nasty wounds going diagonally across his back. I've dosed him up with painkillers and other medications, now I'm applying this poultice to seal the wounds temporarily and draw out any poisons.” “Is he going to be okay?” Simon knew that Zoe would want the truth, “I hope so. He's lost quite a bit of blood and goodness knows what kind of foreign matter got introduced by the scarifier. It's up to him now. I'll keep an eye on him, of course.” Zoe gently and tenderly smoothed a lock of hair back on Cliff's head, “I don't think I could bear to lose another lover to the gorram Reavers.” Her lips were trembling. Simon knew how much it had cost her to reveal that, “I promise, I'll do my best. He'll need lots of rest, though. I'll get a better idea in a few days when that poultice comes off. Looks like some of the gouges went down to the ribcage. I just hope they didn't damage his spinal cord.” * Serenity flew straight and true, if a little lumberingly, straight to the Zhai. The whole citadel had been carved out of a granite mountain range. There was one way in and out, through a small gap which was half way up a steep cliff. A huge fissure in the rock led to a massive, thick, reinforced steel door which was currently raised open to receive the fleet of fleeing craft. From just above the entrance, a thick steel cable descended to lift up anyone arriving across the wide plain in front of the mountain. It was in the middle of lifting up a jeep and an armoured truck on a special platform. Serenity was directed to a bay in the enormous hanger just beyond the door. Craft of all shapes and sizes were arriving; military, private and carriers like Serenity herself. Kaylee practically drooled as she descended the ramp with Lee and Sam, a bandolier of bullets around her torso. “Wow. Flown that, nice engines in that one, couple more fireflies...” Vera was just behind her, “Looks like almost every sort of engine in the 'verse is in here.” Kaylee gasped and pointed at a particularly sleek shiny red craft with a weird-looking cone on the nose end, “Ohmygod...” she was practically babbling, “They've finally done it! That's a SHARP engine. Ohh, what I wouldn't give to see one of those babies working!” “A what engine?” “They've been trying for *years; even back on Earth-that-was. Someone's finally cracked tapping into the Zero Point Energy Field in space!” Vera got the point, “An anti-inertia drive?” Kaylee nodded, “That's the one! It's been the stuff of science fiction and fringe science until now!” Vera shifted the box of ammunition she was carrying, “Must have cost a *bomb.” * The next hour or two were spent in performing a reverse of what had occurred at the arsenal; making a line of people to take armaments and supplies to the correct destinations. Jayne was just returning from carrying the grenade launchers to the defensive positions when the sleek red craft with the SHARP engines finally opened a door in the side. Steps emerged, then a very tall woman. She was ice blonde, swathed in white furs, dripping with jewels and wearing six inch red heels. Every inch of her reeked money and status. “Wow,” Vera commented, “One of the nobs from Cambridge heights, probably.” The unknown woman sashayed towards them, nose in the air. Around her neck was a diamond collar. Her white blonde hair was artfully swept back into a French pleat and secured by more diamonds. “Oooh, pink diamonds. Someone's got money.” Jayne grinned, “Hello, Becky!” The lady's head turned, “I don't believe I know you.” Every word reeked of distaste. “Cut glass accent too,” Vera commented. * Jayne was currently scruffy, dirty, still spattered with blood, covered in a film of sweat and he knew it. He tucked his thumbs into his belt loops and his grin just got wider, “Sure you do. 'Twas about fifteen years back. You'd not long married that billionaire arty farty guy of yours. He was worried about other guys touchin' you or robbin' when you went out and about. Hired me to protect your ass around town. Kept my part of that bargain and played it by the book. Yes, sir; no sir; three bags full sir. Shot some bad guys who were tryin' to get too close to all that ice you wear. Never laid a finger on you 'cept to protect you; mainly because Henry Whatsisface the third had promised to remove my balls from my body if I did. We were goin' along fine until he had to go away on business. *Then you teased me summat rotten; comin' down in your nightie and little wisps of stuff that had steam comin' out my ears. Finally you grabbed me by those long red talons of yours and I'd built up such a head of steam that I couldn't resist. You rode me like a banshee for three days and three nights; then threw me out of the house. So Becky; was I better than old Henry?” “My name is Rebecca D'Lacey and I refuse to give any credence to the web of lies you've just spun.” “Huh; your loss; I'm wed now,” Jayne pulled Vera closer, gleaming briefly down at her, “An' sex with her is a hundred...mebbe even a thousand times better than how it was with you.” Suddenly part of Becky – or Rebecca's – coat moved, revealing huge black doe-like eyes and a pink tongue. Vera was moved by plain curiosity, “Is that a dog you've got there?” Rebecca picked up a tiny, pure white thing with a matching pink diamond collar and pink painted toenails, “This is Felicity Humbolt the fourth and she's a priceless pedigree.” The tiny dog curled up in both of Rebecca's hands and preened herself. “Good grief!” Jayne commented, “It's a ball of fluff with legs!” * Ares had scented female dog and came barrelling over. He took one look at Felicity and fell head over heels in doggy lust. He made a sound which translated into any known language as 'Phwoar'. The fact that he was visibly aroused helped the translation. Felicity gazed back and began to tremble. Rebecca made an affected moue of distaste, “Kindly keep that randy, dirty, *disgusting mongrel away from my little Felicity!” “Thinkin' she's wantin'a piece of rough, just like her owner!” Rebecca flounced off. “Did you *really have sex with her?” Jayne made a noise of pure disgust, “Yeah. Tall, thin bag of bones. Probably not gettin' it from Henry, at least not often enough. Lots of appetite for it, but absolutely no finesse. I just never forget any of the women I've sexed up.” He shrugged and kept his arm around Vera as they went to move more boxes from Serenity. Vera looked at where Ares was gazing longingly in Felicity's direction, making whimpering lusty noises, “What are we going to do about Ares? He's fixated on that little dog.” Jayne grinned, reaching down to fondle Ares' ears, “You have my permission and encouragement to find little Fluffy there and roger her until she begs for mercy.” Ares eyes flicked up, indicating without words that this was exactly what he had in mind. Vera chuckled, “Having sex *and defending against the Reavers! I'm thinking it'll be dealing with the Reavers first.” “Well, if you don't mind me bein' dirty, sweaty and scruffy..” Vera laughed softly, “I seem to recall that it's a personal turn-on.” Jayne chuckled right back, “I ain't forgettin'! Kay; when we finally get a room allocated to us, I'll give you a quickie. It'll keep the edge off until after.”

*Zhai = stronghold


Saturday, February 17, 2007 2:09 AM


Author's note:

The SHARP engine is of course theoretical, but some scientists are trying to see if something like it is at all possible.




I stole the name SHARP from Arthur C Clarke who put one in '3001...'.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007 10:34 AM


A bit short for my taste, Vera...but definitely a rollicking good read in any case;D

Gotta say though...thought you were stealing from "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis" with the whole "Zero Point Energy Field" technology till I saw your comment above. That and I ended up recalling the SHARP engine from when I read "3001: The Final Odyssey"...10 years ago;D



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