Communication - Part XI
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. The Marrakech is in trouble, and Serenity flies to the rescue. Good/bad? Let me know!


Captain Branscombe heard the airlock door open, and he turned. “What the …”

“Just be calm, play nice, and no-one’s going to get hurt,” said the man in front, his gun not wavering.

“What do you want?”

“One of your passengers.”

The Captain shook his head. “No. No-one is being taken off my ship.”

“Really.” The man smiled. “I don’t think you’ve got that much of a choice.” He jerked his head, and five of his men hurried past, each heavily armed. They disappeared out of the door.

“Where are they going?”

“To stop your men doing anything foolish.”

“We’re a liner. We don’t have armed guards.”

The man laughed. “Then maybe you should.”

The officer behind Captain Branscombe made a move towards the weapons locker and the sound of the gun firing was loud in that confined space. The officer cried out, clutching his shoulder. Branscombe went to move forward, but the man in front of him moved his gun back smoothly.

“I told you to play nice.”

“Who do you want?” Branscombe asked, trying to ignore the moans of pain behind him.

“No-one of any consequence. A woman. Her name’s Inara Serra.”

Branscombe couldn’t stop the look of surprise crossing his face, and the man smiled.


“River, wait.” Inara tugged on the young woman’s arm. “Where are we going?”

“You have to hide. They’ve come for you.” River’s eyes darted up and down the corridor.


“Men. To stop you.”

“Stop me from what? River, tell me!”

“I don’t know.” The girl fixed her eyes on Inara. “I don’t know yet. There’s no coherence, no facts to be laid out end to end … but I have to hide you. Come on.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

River’s head went up, as if she was scenting the air. “They’ve hurt someone. Please, hurry.”

Inara allowed herself to be dragged along.


The leader of the invading crew stepped into the ballroom. “This is pleasant,” he said, looking around. “This will do nicely.”

“Do? For what?” Branscombe asked.

“Call everyone here.”

“Do you have any idea what the shipboard time is?” Branscombe scoffed, trying to hide his fear. “Everyone will be in bed, asleep.”

“Then they won’t make trouble.” The man sighed. “Call them. Or I’ll send my men to get them. And they won’t be anywhere near as polite.” He lifted a hand towards the four men with him.

“No. No, I’ll call.” The older man stepped reluctantly up to the com. He pressed a series of buttons and his voice filled the ship.


“This is the Captain. All passengers and crew to report to the ballroom. This is not a drill. All passengers and crew report to the ballroom immediately.”

Inara looked up. “What’s going on?”

“They’re trying to find you.” River opened a door. “In here.”

“It’s a supply closet.” Inside were racks of towels and bed linen.

“And you’ll be safe here until Serenity comes.”

“They’re coming?” There was a tinge of hope in her voice.

“They’ll be here soon. But you have to hide until then.” She pushed the other woman inside. “I’ll lock it from the outside, but barricade it with something, and don’t come out until one of us tells you.”

“You’re not coming in?”

“I have to keep them occupied.” She smiled quickly, closing the door and turning the key. Removing it from the lock she placed it carefully on top of the frame, then hurried back down the corridor.

Inara, standing alone in the darkness, began to tremble.


“Sir.” One of the marauders handed over a list. “The passengers.”

“Good.” The leader ran a hand down the names. “Presidential Suite, no less,” he said, appreciatively. “Only the best.” His eyebrows went up. “And she has her sister with her.”

“They’re just two women travelling,” Branscombe insisted, watching as people began to file into the ballroom, seeing the fear on their faces as they realised they were being confronted by heavily armed men. “What could they possibly have done to make this necessary?”

“You think I‘m going to tell you?” the man asked, handing the list back to his associate. “Go to the Suite. Persuade them to join us.”


The man looked back at Branscombe. “I’m not paid to tell you about things like that. Just to get the job done.”

“And that job is?”

“Well, now, I’m sure you’d rather not know.” He patted Branscombe on the arm.

“You’re going to kill her?” He was appalled.

“None of your affair either.” The comunit in his pocket buzzed. “Yes?”

“The suite’s empty, sir,” came a disembodied voice.

“Then she’s probably on her way. Good. Get back here.” He put the unit away, and strode across to the orchestra dais. He cleared his throat and everyone turned to him. “My name is immaterial,” he said, looking out over the assembly. “But for ease you can call me Mr Jones.” He smiled. “I’m not going to hurt you. Not unless you make any kind of undue fussing, but you will help me. I am looking for Inara Serra. If one of you good people wouldn’t mind pointing her out to me, I’ll take her off your hands and you can be on your merry.” His voice lowered a little. “Of course, if you don’t help me here, things could get a little … messy.”

There was mutterings, and people glancing at each other.

“Come now. It’s so easy,” Jones went on. “Just point her out.”

“She’s not here,” said one of the crew.

“Mr Kuo!” Branscombe was outraged. “You are not to help these … men.”

The Purser shook his head. “You heard what he said. If we help them they’ll leave.”

“Keep quiet!” Branscombe thundered. “That is an order!”

Jones looked from one to the other. “Not here?”

“No,” the Purser confirmed.

“How can you be sure?”

“You can’t miss her. Long dark hair, a poise, and quite breathtaking.”

“Breathtaking.” Jones nodded. “Apt phrase.” He drew his gun and fired, the bullet hitting the Purser between the eyes. The man was dead before he hit the floor as people screamed.

Wuh de tyen, ah,” Branscombe breathed.

“So Miss Serra isn’t amongst us.” Jones looked around. “What about her sister? River Serra.”

There was silence, broken only by sobbing from some of the women.

“Very well.” Jones stepped up to the com, activating the shipwide broadcast. “Inara and River Serra. If you don’t join me in the ballroom within the next … oh, two minutes, I will be forced to shoot another of the passengers or crew. And then another two minutes after that. Then another. I am quite happy to leave this ship a tomb. Think on that.”


Inara pulled at the door handle, but it wouldn’t budge. She got down onto her knees, looking through the keyhole, but she could see there was no key. No way of pushing it through then …”Cao!”


“Mal, I’m picking up the liner,” Hank said.

“How far?”

“Ten minutes.” The pilot lifted his eyes. “There’s someone locked onto her.”

“Can you tell who?” Mal buckled his gunbelt about his hips.

“It’s a Delko. Newish.”

”Can we get close enough to board?”

Hank shook his head. “If I get much closer it’ll set off all sorts of alarms.”

“Can’t you scramble them?”

“From here, yeah. But …”

“Do it. We’ll take the shuttle in. Dock at the rear entry.”


Mal looked up at Zoe. “Best get the troops prepared.”

“I think they are already, sir,” his first mate said, leading the way off the bridge.


Jones regarded the large pocket watch. “Funny how time seems to fly, doesn’t it?” he said conversationally. “And yet sometimes it drags, when you’re waiting for something good to happen.” He put the watch away. “Two minutes,” he said, drawing his weapon. “Any volunteers?”

“I’m here,” River said, pushing through the crowd. “What do you want?”

Branscombe groaned. “No.”

Jones regarded the slight figure. “Inara?”

“Her sister. River.”

Jones grinned. “Well, at least now we’re getting somewhere.” He reholstered his gun. “Where is she?”

River shrugged. “She got off. She wasn’t having any fun so she left.”

“Left. You expect me to believe that.”

“I don’t actually care what you believe.”

Jones looked at her, almost impressed. “No. I don’t think you do.”


Mal was impressed. Jayne had enough weaponry about his person to take over a small moon, Jethro was almost as well armed, and even Simon had a double bandoleer across his chest, a shotgun in his hands.

“This a good idea, doc?” the captain asked from the catwalk. “With you not being up to par ‘n’ all?”

“She’s my sister, Mal. If we don’t get her back, how am I going to ground her?”

Mal smiled slightly, then looked down. “No,” he said firmly. “You ain’t coming.”

Freya was standing on the bay floor, her gun on her hip, the crutches under her armpits. “I am. I’ll stay in the shuttle, but I’m coming.”

“What about -”

“I’ll look after the kids, Cap’n,” Kaylee said, standing next to her husband. “You go bring the others back.”

Hank stepped out of the door behind him. “We’re putting out enough static to cover us, least if they’re not looking out of the window.” He took the belt Zoe held out to him and buckled it on. “Time to go,” he said softly.

“That it is.” Mal nodded and headed towards shuttle two.


River let one of the armed men take her by the arm, leading her towards Jones. “What do you want with my sister?” she asked, feeling the fingers bruise her skin, knowing she could break that hand if she wanted.

“That’s between her and my employers.” Jones smiled. “This wangu chunren of a captain asked me the same thing. Do you think I’d tell a little thing like you what I didn’t tell him?”

She put her head on one side. “You don’t know. Just following orders.”

He smiled. “And if I am?”

“It means I don’t have to worry about not killing you.”

“Not …” He laughed, his handsome face creasing up. “That almost makes it worth not hurting you.”


“Oh, yes. Only almost.” He nodded to the man holding her, who leered and stripped the robe from her back, leaving her standing naked. “Definitely only almost.”

to be continued


Monday, March 19, 2007 12:07 AM



Poor River! I love your works, Jane. But... What's happening to River? What's wrong with her?

I find it a little weird that Mal will let her come to the raid.

Jeese, you got me wantin' more so bad i'd almost kill you if you don't post the next one tonight. But, I am only joking. So, yeah. That's brilliant. =)

Love yas!

Monday, March 19, 2007 1:00 AM


KayleeBird I think you need to read the story again, there is nothing wrong with River and Mal did not let her come on the raid. River stowed away with Inara, hence why she is on that gorram ship with her in the first place.
Jane0904 I am loving this but really want something bad to happen to those *tamade hundan*, and as for stripping River's dress off and leaving her naked I'm thinking they are going to pay for that and wish they'd never been born. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, March 19, 2007 6:16 AM


Well, at least if she's naked she won't have to wash their blood out of her clothes. It saves time and avoids all that messy scrubbing and dishpan hands.

Great writing, as always!

Monday, March 19, 2007 10:22 AM


Uh...don't take this the wrong way, Jane0904, but....the final imagery of the intruders strippin' River nekkid? Not taking to the right frame of mind, if ya know what I mean. Still...naked ass kicking will certain be quite the sight to picture, and BSCPatherfan's comment is quite true;D


Monday, March 19, 2007 5:07 PM


Terrific - although like everyone else, I'm just a mite worried about River. But she'll kick ass, naked or not!

I love this and the tension is building quite nicely! More, more, more!

Monday, March 19, 2007 8:26 PM


Sorry. Heh. Amb, I'm sorry about that. :P

I was very tired last night and couldn't get out what I wanted to say. I'll say it proper this time.


Poor River! I love your works, Jane. But... What's happening to River? What's wrong with her? Why is she.. er, naked?

I find it a little weird that Mal will let her- FREYA- come to the raid thing, albeit in the shuttle.

Jeese, you got me wantin' more so bad i'd almost kill you if you don't post the next one tonight. But, I am only joking. So, yeah. That's brilliant. =)

Only almost. :P

Love yas!


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“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

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"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
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Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
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“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

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[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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“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!]

“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!]