Humped - Part One
Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Pyes encounter the crew of Serenity once again, but the reunion isn’t that shiny. Set about nine months after my first fanfic, Hun Dan. Set after BDM with no resurrected characters. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Part 1 of 2.


“You’ll sleep there above Stan’s bunk,” explained Bane to the new recruit. “There’s not much privacy, I’m afraid – jus’ have to get used to it.” Corren had not closed her mouth since she stepped aboard. She braced herself against the side of the bunk as the ship left the planet, whereas Bane just rocked on the balls of her feet, quite used to the motions. “Tony will speak to you before dinner ‘bout what he ‘spects from you an’ you better heed his words.” Corren nodded obediently, this was so much better than being stuck on her parents’ farm on Haven. Bane scratched one of the many scabs on her back, a result of their recent stop on Salisbury.

Now that she was away from her parents, Corren was for the most part well behaved and enthusiastic, a born spacer in fact. Ragen’s cousin had begged them in a wave to take her, as she was proving too much to handle on Haven, especially when there was so much to do. But regardless of the worrying report, Corren proved to be a hard-working and useful addition to the Rosalyn, despite her youth. She was a typical Pye in features, Earth-That-Was Eurasian, with various mixes over the centuries, dark brown hair and brown eyes. Of them all only Lee Shoo had uncharacteristically blue eyes, a trait from one of his other ancestors. Corren was apprenticed to Angel in the engine room while they were on the ship, having expressed an interest to work there, but took turns with them all when they were planet-side and doing the Eatings. The first few months were always the hardest, but she had managed to get her shipboard crushes on Tony and Stan out of her system fairly quickly, and with the minimum of embarrassment.

“Where we doin’ the Eatings next?” Corren asked enthusiastically. Tony glanced at her over his cards and placed a careful but unimaginative bet. He was not a good bluffer and Corren matched it smugly. After eight months on the Rosalyn the only person she could not beat was Stan.

“We’re headin’ to the Space Bazaar. Got requested,” replied Tony, with a quick glance at Bane. They had not just been requested to provide Eatings, and Bane had been making munitions to order for some weeks now. She was just now taking a brief food break before getting back to it.

“Don’t they take a mighty slice of any profits we make?” asked Ragen, who was reading on his bunk, but adding to the conversation occasionally.

“They take a high percentage, more than twenty per cent,” explained Tony, “But they have promised that we’re the only eatings, ‘cept for a few dog meat counters.” That was the Pye Family term for independent fryers who served what could hardly be called decent eatings. Having been in the business for generations, Pyes could get quite superior in their views of other food vendors.

“A Space Bazaar? What’s that?” Corren’s eyes were alight with excitement and she totally missed Tony’s tell. Fortunately Lee Shoo Pye did not and raised his bet. Before Corren came on board he had been the youngest at twenty two, although he was turning twenty three in a couple of months, he enjoyed not being the youngest anymore.

“The Bazaar is a space station that’s set up to cater for most types of entertainment, high rollers as well as normal folk. It’s a big place and easy to get lost in,” explained Lee Shoo.

“Yeh, like that time Mal lost himself in that’s girl’s eyes – what was her name?” teased Bane. Maloranty, flicked his plait in irritation and mumbled something, pretending to be really interested in his hand of cards. He had been about to fold.

“Penny? Wasn’t it?” added Ragen, “You were all ready to settle planet-side with her too.” Corren was open-mouthed again.

“Was she very pretty?” she asked Mal directly, so he could not ignore her question.

“Yes, she was, but she wasn’t interested in settlin’ down or flyin’ off and cookin’ for a living.” They all remembered what he had been like after leaving the Bazaar the last time, grumpy and morose for about two months. Penny had trampled over Mal’s heart and they had all been glad to leave the Bazaar. Maloranty laid his cards down with a superior smile and everyone groaned, throwing their hands in, except Corren. She just smirked and laid down her nice little winning hand.

Kwin-gwe-je deh,” exclaimed Maloranty, “How do you ruttin’ do that?” Maloranty usually did not mind losing at cards, he did frequently, but he hated losing to an eighteen year old. Maybe he was getting to old for all this.

“Cap’n,” came Stan’s voice on the com, “Wave for you.” Tony eagerly gathered up his remaining chips and left. Bane left the others too, making her way back to her workshop. It was a massive order she was making and had taken some investment in raw materials. The pay-off was big though. She had finished the three crates of EMP grenades, the other two crates were nearly full with an assortment of detonators, Pye-recipe putty and a few other tricks. In the cramped space of her workshop there was little room, and she sat down at her desk again and continued to work, her stomach full and her mind active. This had possibly been the biggest order she had done since the War. Could bring in a load more business too – there weren’t many people who could do unmarked munitions fast and on the move. It had always been a side-line to bring in extra platinum, but it was becoming more lucrative as the word got around.

Bane worried about it though, because as the word got around it was more than likely the Alliance might get a sniff of it and come looking. Tony was careful, and only took jobs on recommendation from a trusted source - a trusted criminal source, that is. The hardest part was hiding it all from Corren, Bane feeling she was still too young to not go off yabbing about their extra-curricular activities. She now locked herself into the workshop when working, but as a result she had to make sure she came back to the bunk room every so often to make a appearance. She would wait until Corren was asleep and then return to the workshop. It was no good trying to sleep anyway while there were still things to build.

She penned another schematic in her ledger. Although Bane was an engineer, she had learned during the war not to record anything digitally – Alliance could not scan paper and it burned real easy. Since coming on board the Rosalyn she had filled three ledgers with diagrams and notes. It all helped when creating something new as she could refer to an old trick or two. Tony’s voice came over the com asking her to come up to his quarters. She closed the book and climbed over the crates and out of the workshop, locking the panel behind her.

“Got a wave from Sharp,” he said, when she had closed the door to his quarters behind her, Ragen was on shift in the pilot’s chair next door.

“Anything to be worried about?” asked Bane.

“No, except he’s booked us a room in A Deck.” Bane whistled, it was the richest section of the sleeping quarters. As long as they were paying it was alright by her. Bane had perched on his bunk, and was smiling at the capture he always had pinned to the wall. It was an old family capture, taken when they were all still children, the five of them and their parents. She could not remember which planet the capture had been taken on, only that she had been about eight and Tony had been about fourteen or fifteen. She did remember that her Ma had dressed her in a horrible blue dress, being the only girl, but by the time they had all been collected together for the capture her hands, knees and legs were covered in dirt, and Marcus and Harry, two of her other brothers, were sporting black eyes. She did not mind wearing dresses now. Of course, only she and Tony were left now. She turned back to Tony, realising that he had stopped talking.

“What is it?” she asked, now a little apprehensive.

“Promise you won’t hit me?” Bane relaxed a little, crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to speak. She could tell it was not that serious, but she was making no promises. Tony cleared his throat and looked a little embarrassed. “Well, we’ve got no problem with our crates being scanned in that area because, well …”

“Out with it, Tony,” she insisted.

“Well, that is, Sharp’s set you up as a Companion called Nandi. That way no one searches or asks questions,” he finished quickly. Bane stood up, hands on hips.

Liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze fuh ur-tze,” she shouted. “No way. How could you agree?”

“He’s already done it, I had no choice,” he cracked his knuckles nervously. “I know that it’s something you haven’t done for a while. Once Sharp’s sure it’s safe, the buyer will make contact.” Bane was really uncomfortable putting on an act unless it was on her terms, and when she had done the research herself. During the war when she played a Companion in order to extract information, researching the character was critical and having someone else do it was insanity. She was not shiny with this idea.

“Great, I’d like to get my hands on the xiao gou tsao de wang bao dahn. Am I going in alone?”

“We need to get you a servant, make it look proper. I was thinking about Corren?”

“She’s way too young and she don’t know anything,” she argued but Tony disagreed.

“Corren’s proved herself an’ I think it’s about time we brought her in. Besides, you’ll need some help sewing something rich to wear, an’ the rest of us look too disreputable to pass as a servant of a Companion.” Bane allowed herself to smile; Tony was always neatly dressed and hardly disreputable, but he was right, it would be difficult to pass any of them off as her servant, except maybe Lee Shoo. She sighed, capitulating.

“Tony – you like pushing everything the extra light year, don’t you? What about a dress? We don’t have any material I could use to make a fittin’ garment that ain’t covered in engine oil or food grease.”

“There’s bound to be something in the family trunk,” Tony stated, having thought about all of this before he called her up to his quarters. Bane had to admit he was right. Always gorram right, that was why he was Captain, and it was very annoying. She had wondered how they would get the goods aboard the Bazaar without detection and being a guest on A-Deck was the way to do it. Bane looked back at the family capture.

“We’re a few worlds away from being them, ain’t we?” said Bane. Tony smiled with the same distant memories.

“Yeh,” he agreed, “You don’t fight people if’n they tease you for wearing a dress no more.”

~ * ~

“That dress is real shiny on you, Bane,” said Corren. Corren, like everything else, had taken the news of Bane’s other skills in her stride. Bane was standing on a chair while Corren checked the hem was straight.

“We have to get you one as well. I also need to rich this up a bit.” It had been a plain old brown dress of her mother’s but they had turned it into two parts; a short sleeved top that finished just below the bust and a skirt that hung from her hips. When she had first put it on she had felt quite naked with her stomach and back bared to the world, as well as more than a little cleavage on display. She jumped down off the chair. Corren was already rummaging through the trunk which had been pulled from storage and the contents were now scattered around the bunk room.

“Can I wear this?” she pulled another dress out. It was sky blue with home-embroidered flowers, another one of her mother’s.

“That’s perfect – try it on and we’ll see if any adjustments are needed.” Bane helped her put it on over her existing clothes. It was too long both in the length and the sleeves but certainly adjustable. Corren suddenly looked serious.

“You won’t have to, I mean you won’t be a real Companion, will you?” she asked with slightly embarrassed curiosity. Bane smiled at her reassuringly. She realised that she had been two years younger than Corren when the war started and she had grown up real quick as a result. In wartime she would do things without hesitation, including sleeping with a Fed to gain information, because they were fighting for the cause. The war had ended now and she had already paid the price several times over.

“No, it’s just pretend, Corren. It means we get the high roller quarters and we won’t be searched.” Corren seemed satisfied, but was still full of questions. Bane told her to get up on the chair so she could pin the hem to take it up.

“After the job is done, do you think I could get a tattoo? Like yours, but not as big?” she paused. “It’s really beautiful.”

“And painful,” Bane cut in. She had finally decided that instead of hiding her scars she would have them tattooed. She had it done just before they had returned to Haven to hire on Corren. It had been very very painful and she had been very very drunk during, and for a week after. The scabs had been especially itchy. Tony had uncharacteristically sworn and raged at her, but at least she no longer drew attention to herself – tattoos were very commonplace, even if they did not usually adorn the whole of one’s back. The Doc aboard Serenity had been right. The fact that it no longer shocked her meant that it no longer shocked other people. She could comfortably wear a vest now when it got hot without people giving her horrified glances and awkward questions. With the brown outfit and hopefully some gold trim, her tattoos would actually look good. And she never ever thought she would hear herself say that. Stan walked in and stopped dead, mouth open.

Wu de tyen ah!” was all he could manage to say. Angel was close on his heel and just as shocked.

“Well, I haven’t done my hair yet,” said Bane, suddenly self conscious. She turned around to find a shawl or blanket but Angel came over and bowed.

“May I have this dance?” he said and Corren giggled, giving her a push.

“Don’t be silly, Angel,” but he took her hand anyway and gave her a little twirl around the room. Stan grabbed Corren and did the same, although not quite as gracefully as she kept tripping over the dress she was wearing. After one circuit they swapped partners. Lee Shoo came in and hit the com for some music. It got quite raucous when he tried to cut in and have a go too. There was lots of shouting when Maloranty came in from the shower to ask them to keep the gorram noise down. The central table had been pushed to the side with Corren and Bane being flung from partner to partner. Of course he had to get involved as well.

“Somethin’s going on downstairs, boss,” called Ragen on the com to Tony’s quarters. Tony sighed and got off his bunk. He bet it was Lee Shoo arguing with Maloranty again. He murmured some curses to Ragen and they stomped down the steps together. He would bet his life he would not forget the sight of Lee Shoo and Maloranty dancing around the bunk room together in perfect and chaotic harmony. Then he saw his sister looking radiant and happy. She had been right about the tattoos on her scars, but he still could not help a little shudder because he knew how she had earned them. Tony stepped forward and gave Stan a gentle push.

“Captain’s prerogative,” he defended. Stan looked momentarily put out, but then cut in on Angel and Corren. It all stopped abruptly when the proximity alarm went off. Ragen rushed back to the cockpit and then announced that it was another ship heading to the Bazaar that had come a little close. Apart from Tony, the rest of them had collapsed on the bunks or chairs, out of breath and laughing.

“Been a long time since I bin’ to a shindig,” stated Lee Shoo. “Reckon I didn’t know what I was missin’ til now.”

“Do they have shindigs at the Bazaar?” asked Corren excitedly. She could not wait to get there.

“Sometimes, but they are crazier and like to end in fights,” explained Lee Shoo, knowing full well that they would probably all go anyway. He had a hankering to dance with more pretty ladies.

~ * ~

Bane walked through the main hanger with her luggage and servant in tow. Her chin was raised and she tried to look as regal as possible. They drew quite a crowd, which is why she had hidden herself for a day before appearing inside the station; she did not want to advertise that they had come off the Rosalyn. She had coiled her hair on her head and curled the ends which hung down to shape her face. It was some distance through corridors and lifts to A Deck. She did not look at the people she passed, but had to mutter to Corren to close her mouth a few times. Once they reached A Deck they were shown to the quarters by an attendant. Bane paid him off and then tapped in the room code that Sharp had given her brother. The room was lavish and lushly decorated, pretty hideous décor in fact. The bed was large and central to the room and there were swathes of material hanging above and around it. She saw there was a note on the bed which invited her to the lounge later on that evening. Corren started to speak and Bane put a warning finger to her lips. She opened one of the bags and took out her home-made bug counter.

“Unpack those bags first, dear,” she said loudly, “and do those other ones later when I’m not here.” Corren nodded in confirmation, she got the message.

“Yes, Mistress. Would you like me to run you a bath?” she replied loudly.

“That would be a good idea. I feel quite dirty after our journey with that crew – some of them were very uncouth.” Corren smirked. Bane’s bug counter flashed red, it had located one bug, untagged, by the door to the bathroom. “Mary!” she shouted at Corren. “How many times do I have to tell you – always unpack the music first.”

“Sorry, Mistress. Where do you want me to put it?” Bane indicated the spot with her finger and moved away.

“Over there, so I can hear it in the bathroom. Put something relaxing on.” Corren turned the dial on the portable com station, turned up the volume and went over to join Bane at the far side of the room. “We’ll have to be careful. It’s an untagged bug so it could be for us or anyone.” Corren was thrilled.

“This is so exciting – is this what you did in the War?” she whispered.

“Not quite, but you need to remain in character or I might very loudly have to fire you, dong ma?.” Corren nodded, but could not wipe the enthusiastic grin off her face.

“Yes, Mistress,” she replied meekly and Bane had to laugh. They continued the charade until Bane was ready to leave to meet the contact. She had changed clothes again into another outfit but in the same style. They had made another dress from rose coloured bed sheet found in the trunk.

“You will escort me to the lounge and then come back here and tidy up. Prepare the room and make sure you’re in bed by the time I return,” Bane told Corren.

“Yes, Mistress,” Corren answered with a smirk. Corren put on her headscarf and Bane adjusted it for her. They went out of the room and walked down the corridor. At the door to the lounge, Corren whispered for her to be careful and Bane told her not to answer the door. Heads turned as Bane walked into the room. It was a large space with card and gambling tables set up. Off to her right was a darker room which is where she headed now. She had no idea what the contact looked like only what he was supposed to be saying to her first and it was hard to see anything in this room, it was so dimly lit. As she glided past she saw numerous men and few women. They were mostly in booths, but there were others sitting on couches talking or fondling. There was instrumental music in the background and two couples gliding in circles on the small dance floor. Bane sat herself down in a comfy cubicle and signalled to the waiter. She was nervous, but confident.

“Excuse me, Miss Nandi?” A gentleman had approached. Bane turned to him and waited for him to continue. “I am given to understand that you might consider me as a client?” He was word perfect so far.

“Provided you can give me the name of the person who recommended you,” she responded.

“That would be Lord Sharp of Boros,” he responded correctly. Bane nodded and indicated that he should take a seat. He ordered some drinks from the waiter, who had now appeared at the table. She could tell he was comfortable with dressing smart, so he was the buyer rather than another go-between like Sharp. Once the waiter had gone he spoke again, “Sharp said I would be doing the exchange with a woman, but I had no idea you would be so enticing, my dear.” He boldly reached out and touched her arm. Bane shifted her arm and glared at him.

“This is purely a transaction for merchandise,” she replied stiffly, “Not an invitation to my person. Where is the platinum?” The man looked a little angry at her words, but composed himself. He put his hand inside his coat and produced a large pouch bag. Bane took it discretely and fastened it securely inside the sash she had draped over her shoulder.

“Where are the goods?” he asked, equally as stiffly as Bane. He had hoped for a little entertainment, before the end of the evening, but it was clear that the bitch was not going to accommodate him. Bane smoothed her hand over the sash, checking again that the money was secure before answering.

“In my quarters. The room code is 669853. We can go back there now and –“

“Why Nandi!” said a voice behind her, “What in the wide ‘Verse are you doing here?” Bane stiffened and turned around slowly. Had she not been concentrating very hard her mouth would have dropped open.

“You have the advantage of me, Sir, have we met?” She flicked her gaze to the man next to her to see he had put his hand in his pocket and Bane assumed it meant he was armed. She shifted her body so that she was in his line of fire.

“Sir Theo Harbatkin. We met last year at the annual ball on Persephone. I’m hurt you don’t recall.” He pouted and offered his hand for her to take.

“Oh, yes, I remember,” she almost stammered, “How nice to see you again.” She held out her hand and he bowed over it formerly. The tension of the man sitting next to her was almost tangible.

“You promised me a dance and I did not collect. I’m sure this gentleman won’t mind if I steal you away for a dance. Will you?” and before either of them could refuse, she was whisked on to the dance floor.

“It’s very nice to renew acquaintance an’ all, Captain Reynolds, but I’m in the middle of a transaction here.” She was about to disengage herself but Reynolds gripped tighter.

“You’ve been humped,” he said, and whirled Bane around so her face was not visible to the man at the table.

“No, you’re wrong. He came through a reliable contact. Sharp would never –“

“Sharp’s bin pinched by the Feds. You used him too often and he attracted attention. Likely they blackmailed him to bring you in.” Mal’s eyes were sweeping the room for trouble, but he still managed to keep in step.

“How did you find out?” she asked through her teeth, smiling sweetly as she came into view of the man sitting impatiently in the booth.

“We were making a mail call, I saw you walking through the main mall looking all shiny and dollified – very pretty, by the way. Jayne near had a fit.” Bane flushed, but it made no difference in the dim light of the lounge.

“Yes, thank you Mal,” said Bane, her mind working furiously, “but that still doesn’t explain –“

“The ID Sharp gave you,” stated Mal hurriedly, “belongs to a dead former Companion. I know this because I seen her die.” Bane knew that the minute she had walked on board it would have shined all kinds of lights with the Feds. Impersonating a Companion was all very well, impersonating a dead Companion could get you bound-by-law and that was not including the stuff she was selling. She tried to think quickly but they were out of time.

“He’s coming,” hissed Bane, as she saw the man was coming towards them. Mal clasped Bane tighter by the waist.

“Might be I buy out your client and spend the night with you instead,” he stated loudly.

“It doesn’t work like that, Sir Theo, my client has already paid,” she replied, equally as loud. Mal was glad that she had made the drop – at least they would not lose out. The man put his hand on Mal’s shoulder to formerly cut in. Mal was carrying off his character well otherwise this Fed would not be acting so polite.

“Her time is mine, Sir Whoever-you-are, kindly return the whore to me,” and Mal punched him full in the face. He fell heavily to the ground, out cold. Bane starred at them both in turn.

“Great, make a scene, that’s just what we need,” she said angrily. Mal was unperturbed and he looked around. A few men and staff had approached with worried expressions on their faces.

“Is everything alright?” asked one of the staff nervously.

“Gorram wang bao dahn insulted my wife,” stated Mal, “Accused her of being a Companion whore.”

“It was just a mistake, lambkins,” replied Bane, falling in with the role, “there was no need to hit him,” she added through her teeth. She knelt down and did a quick non-qualified check – the fact that he was still breathing was all she could determine.

“And you,” Mal turned on her, puffing out his chest and thoroughly enjoying himself, “Taking a drink with him? What would little Turner and Marylou say if they knew their mother was drinking with strange men?” The people around them looked embarrassed and avoided looking at her directly. Bane felt embarrassed too, as if she really was being unfaithful, it made her more than a little angry that Mal was so competent in carrying off a role. She vowed to get her own back some day.

“We’ll take care of him, sir,” said the waiter, kneeling down next to the prone man. Mal took Bane by the arm and dragged her from the room. She stumbled a few times before catching her feet. Once they were in the corridor Mal looked both ways, trying to judge which way to go. Bane was seething and ripped her arm out of his grip.

“We should have taken him with us – I gave him my room code,” shouted Bane.

“That was a bit forward of you,” he said. “Mind you, in that outfit–“ He did not finish his sentence but let his eyes travel down with a sardonic leer. In the space of a beat, before Bane had chance to retort, Mal then started moving down the corridor with her in tow again.

“We’re going the wrong way, gorram it,” she said, pulling her arm from his grip and turning around.

“Leave it – you’ve got the money,” he stated, and made to grab her again, but Bane picked up her skirts and started to run in the opposite direction.

“I can’t, my cousin is still in the room. I have to fetch her,” she explained.

“You and your fong luh cousins,” Mal grumbled and then followed her. They caused a few startled glances from others walking in the corridor. Mal had to punch one guy who tried to stop him, thinking he was up to no good chasing a woman down the passage.

“Cap’n we got trouble –“ Zoe’s voice came on the com and then cut out. Bane had reached the room, breathing heavily, and she tapped in the code to open the door. It slid open and she dashed in.

“Corren!” she called and Corren guiltily sat up. She had been dozing on the giant luxurious bed. “We’ve been humped!” she added and Corren did not need telling twice. She jumped off the bed and then drew a gun from nowhere, as Mal had followed Bane into the room. Mal’s hand went instinctively to his own gun, but he did not draw. “He’s with me,” Bane explained urgently and Corren lowered it. As Bane searched for anything else that might incriminate them – well, apart from the five crates of tricks. Mal stood by the door, actually agitated, and kept looking down the corridor. Corren had stripped off her dress to reveal the t-shirt and trousers underneath. She holstered her gun, which she had persuaded Lee Shoo to give her, without telling Bane or Tony. She knew it was not the appropriate time to tell her cousin how much fun she was having. Mal spoke sharply into the com he carried.

“Zoe! Tell the Rosalyn we’re taking his sister and her cousin on board. We’ll wave him.”

Jien tah-duh gway!” shouted Bane, “I know we need to get out of here, but we’re going back to the Rosalyn.” Bane secured her sash by tying it around her waist, sure they were not going to lose the money, even if the deal had gone sour.

“No, Serenity’s closer – we have to leave now.” There was something in his voice that made her stop arguing and pay attention. Corren was out of the door and following Mal before Bane, who took a final glance at all her hard work, pursued them both. They all ran back into the corridor and headed towards the main walkway. Bane noticed that Mal had run straight past the lift and she shouted at him to stop, but he just carried on, ignoring her. The main station alarms sounded, a loud a piercing noise that made Bane wish she could put her hands over her ears, but it would only slow her down.

“We’re humped!” she shouted over the noise.

“The whole station is,” said Mal in a quieter voice. He did not remember the corridors being this long on the way in and he was now breathing heavily himself. They stepped out onto the upper walkway and looked down on the mall below. The sight that greeted them confirmed that they really were all humped. Reavers had decided to attack the Space Bazaar and they swarmed amongst the terrified people below. Bane wrenched Corren around to face her.

“Listen to me, Corren, you’ve heard the stories ‘bout Reavers. Whether we get out of this mess or not, you save one bullet for yourself, and you shoot them in the head – dong ma? DONG MA?” she emphasised by shaking her by the shoulders. Corren nodded emphatically, petrified but determined, like Bane. They followed Reynolds along the walkway and tried to ignore the screaming and savagery going on below them. Mal was wildly hoping that they were going in the right direction. In order to gain access to A Deck he had got River to re-dock, but this place was so big he was not sure he was still going in the right direction. His thoughts almost cost his life as a Reaver appeared in front of him, he shot him point blank before the machete could come down on his head. Bane shot the next one that came straight after the first. Mal picked up their weapons and distributed the weapons to Corren and Bane.

“Stay close, we’re almost there,” he said, picking up speed again and recognising where they were. Bane looked behind her to check on Corren and saw another Reaver running up behind her. He was almost on her and she raised the axe.

“DOWN!” she screamed, and swung the axe with all her strength. If Corren had not ducked in that moment, then it would be her head now flying down into the throng of bodies below. “Go!” she shouted again and pushed Corren ahead of her. Mal had turned left and was running up some stairs. He shouted into the com but kept running, occasionally checking that the others were still behind him. They came out into one of the smaller docking bays. It was full of people fleeing for their lives, but no Reavers yet. The three of them pushed their way through to the docking port for Serenity. There were already people hammering frantically on the door begging to be let in. Mal shouted into the com again and the door opened. The throng of people temporarily froze as Jayne and his big gun stood in the doorway. Mal took advantage of the momentary still and pushed Bane and Corren through. The spell broke and the people tried pushing in behind him. Mal burst through the cargo bay door and sealed it shut behind them. With a few choice words to Jayne, he carried on up to the cockpit.

“Go!” he shouted down the com. Breathless, Bane had her hands on her knees and was trying to recover from all the running.

“Is he going to leave all those people?” Corren asked Bane, taking in her surroundings at the same time. Being younger she was also fitter and hardly out of breath at all. Bane had opened her mouth to ask the same question but Mal had disappeared up the stairs and already the ship was pulling away. She had to find out if the Rosalyn had got away.

“Stay here,” she told Corren and gathered up her skirts to run after him. She heard Jayne shouting after her. She burst into the cockpit and was then swept forcefully into the wall, as River swerved the ship to avoid a Reaver ship’s fire.

“Gorram it,” said Mal and reached for her from his chair, Jayne was supposed to make sure they were strapped in like the others downstairs. He managed to grab Bane’s ankle. There was no other chair in the cockpit and Zoe was already in some kind of tight-lipped trance, probably remembering the last time they were in a Reaver fire fight. At least River had not lost it - yet. She rolled the ship again and Mal lost his grip on Bane who went sliding across the metal floor. Damn the woman for hardly wearing any clothes! The ship jolted again.

“Report!” He turned his attention to his pilot. River was in another world, she was in Wash’s world. She could hear Zoe in her head repeating his mantra ‘I’m a leaf on the wind.’ The Captain’s words did get through and she answered.

“We’re being chased by one of the smaller ones. I can lose him, Captain!” Bane had now managed to grab onto Zoe’s chair stand. She cursed Mal and herself in the same sentence.

“What about the Rosalyn?” she gasped. River banked again and Bane held on to the chair stand, the rest of her sliding across the uneven floor made up of metal grates and panels. She finally managed to brace her feet against the Captain’s chair stand, at least now a little secure, if uncomfortable.

“They’re away,” was River’s curt reply, and she banked again to avoid another laser burst from the Reaver ship. Bane rested her head on her arm, relieved. It was several very long shaky minutes before they were able to make full burn. All River’s knowledge and training kicked in and the screams of the people left on the Bazaar were getting fainter. River pressed buttons, cursed eloquently in Chinese and changed course several times. When the ship was no longer rocking violently from side to side Bane got up from the floor. Everything had happened so fast. It was hard to judge the time, but it seemed that barely twenty minutes ago she was taking money from a Fed. Mal un-strapped himself and got out of the chair. He took off the tie and undid a few of the buttons on his shirt so he could breath again.

“That was a little too close for me,” he said. “Nice driving, Albatross.” River did not reply, as she was still concentrating on getting them well away from any Reavers. Her back did straighten with some pride though.

“They’ve never hit a space station before, Captain,” said Zoe. She realised that her finger nails had pierced the armrest in the chair. All she could think of was watching those wooden stakes coming through the cockpit and spearing her husband’s body. She shook her head to try and get rid of the image.

“Guess they got hungry,” replied Mal, who was already switching to other matters. “Are you gonna tell me where in the hell Jacobsson got to? He was supposed to be on the door with Jayne. Or are you just gonna leave me guessin’?” Zoe was unperturbed and Bane left them to it. Whoever Jacobsson was he better be dead or injured. She made her way back down to the cargo bay, where she found Corren openly admiring Jayne’s gun in the seating area, and she came over all maternal.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

“Fine,” said Corren brightly, “Apart from being covered in Reaver blood – thanks, for that by the way.” Jayne’s mouth hung open, as he viewed Bane from head to toe and then repeated the process several times. Bane folded her arms and looked back at him.

“Good to see you again, Jayne. Thanks for looking after my cousin.”

“Figured she must be related, you all have a similar look. She took some gettin’ in the chair though.” Corren flushed and defended herself.

“Well, I didn’t know what you were doin’. Seemed to me like you was fondlin’ me.” Jayne smirked and tried to look as innocent as possible, but achieved rakish instead. He stood up and Corren reluctantly handed back Vera.

“I ain’t saying nothin’, as your cousin here does things with knives. Wish I’d had to manhandle you too though,“ he added, looking Bane up and down again. After the tension and fear of the last hours it felt good to laugh.

“Help please,” came Simon’s voice from the Med Bay. They all rushed there. He was trying to hold down his patient – possibly the unfortunate Jacobsson – and administer shots as well. Bane leant over his legs and Jayne held the rest of his body. He was covered in blood and seemed to be bleeding from several wounds. Simon managed to dose him and the patient finally lay still. Bane stood up and discovered that his main wound was down his thigh and now a good bit of that blood now covered her. She removed her sash which was now soaked through. Only when it hit the floor with a thump did she realise that the money was still tied inside it. “Thank you both,” said Simon, when he had stabilised him.

“What happened?” asked Corren, her curiosity taking priority again.

“Reavers sliced him up some – didn’t move out the way in time,” explained Jayne. “If he’d stayed by the ship like the Captain said, he wouldn’t be in this mess and I wouldn’t have had to carry him back.” Bane wondered if Jayne had been exactly following the Captain’s orders as well in order to be in a position to bring him back.

“You saved his life?” asked Corren, gazing up at a now grinning Jayne. Bane rolled her eyes and pushed her out of the door, the last thing she needed was for Corren to get a crush on Jayne.

“Let’s leave the doc to his work, shall we?” Bane needed to have a bit of peace and quiet to gather her thoughts, although she could not push away the feeling that she was glad to be back.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007 6:23 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER THAT is what I call quickly-paced! Definitely have to agree with Bane's assertion it only seemed a few minutes start to finish;D

The Reaver attack on the Space Bazaar does make me wonder about whether they are starting to get more bold or cunning about who and how they attack. Hitting a space station is a definite chance in SOP...



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