Prairie Run - Part One
Monday, April 2, 2007

Are the crew of Serenity really all dead? No, it can’t be true! 3rd fanfic featuring the usual post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Constructive criticism or comments are always welcome. Part 1 of 2.


The commanding officer of the I.A.V. Malaga could not just let the vessel pass by the radar. There were too many flags and he needed something to do. The transport class Firefly was owned by one Captain Malcolm Reynolds, flagged as not only having dealings with possible stolen goods, but also of harbouring known fugitives. Colonel Bertram Collins wanted something to do as he was dying of boredom, so he ordered the vessel to be hailed. He reckoned if you searched hard enough there would always be something smelly to find. “There’s no answer, Sir,” squeaked the ensign, who had been watching the clock. He had just two hours to go until he was off duty and it was going real slow. “Do it again,” ordered Colonel Collins, but the ensign came back with no answer. There was something definitely not right. He ordered the grappling hooks deployed and the ship was pulled into one of the large landing bays. Colonel Collins was all about delegation and next he ordered a company down there to check out the ship and secure it. He did not care to move himself, happy to wait and let others do the work. He got out his nail scraper and managed to clean the fingernails of one hand before he heard back over the com. “We’ve broken in, Colonel.” “Yes?” he replied impatiently. “All the crew are dead. There are no life signs.” The Colonel groaned inwardly and was in two minds to get them to dump the transport class Firefly back in space. He did not know how it even managed to remain in space, it was a piece of junk. “What did they die of?” “Uncertain, Sir. But it looks like they all died of the same thing. Have to get the Med team check it out.” “Do it, but make sure no one leaves that section until you are all cleared.” He hoped he had not let some kind of epidemic on his ship, and was starting to wish he had left it alone. This could cause a mountain of paperwork and that was the last thing he needed. He started chewing on his thumbnail and then turned to the ensign again. “See if you can dig up the names of any other crew members. We’ll need to update the records once the Med team confirm cause of death.” Some two hours later Doctor Meyer confirmed that the crew had died of Fingal’s plague – highly contagious and deadly without the right shots. He had insisted that the entire I.A.V. crew be topped up with their inoculations as a precaution, a task which could take days and would delay their arrival at Londinium. Colonel Collins realised he had opened up a big can of go se. He had reviewed the scant records on what was known about the crew. Reynolds was the stickiest, a Sergeant for the Independents in the Unification War. Known associates, and possible crew members; Zoe Alleyne – Corporal in the war, same regiment. Well, the Alliance was better off with them dead anyway. They had been flagged as carrying a Simon and River Tam at some time, who were wanted by the government. He wondered if they were down there too. If that was so, there was possibly a little light at the end of his tunnel, possibly even a promotion in this for him. There was nothing on the rest of the crew that Reynolds must have had in order to run the ship. Collins’ curiosity finally got the better of him again and he made the long journey down to the fifth landing bay. The Med team were still there and he received his own booster shot on walking through the door. The ship itself had gone, he had ordered it towed to the Alliance shipyard on Osiris, a task he relished giving to Major Dedham, who was clearly after his job. He walked over to the body bags. “Would you like to see them, Sir?” asked one of the medics. “Of course I would,” he replied impatiently. The medic zipped back the cover on one of the body bags and proceeded to do the same with the others. Colonel Collins leaned over and viewed them all indifferently. There were six bodies altogether and he inspected them all closely. “Reynolds isn’t here,” he said, “neither is Alleyne. This must be a different crew.” Great, he thought, that made it a lot simpler. Reynolds must have sold the ship on. He shrugged his shoulders, turned around and walked out of the hold. “Incinerate the bodies,” he said to the doctor as he left. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Five days earlier: “Shall we get a border around it?” suggested Kaylee. They were looking at samples laid out on the shop counter. “Yes – but nothing too fancy,” replied Bane, counting out her coins. They were having some captures created of Bane’s farewell-come-welcome party a few days ago. Kaylee chose a simple one and the clerk pressed various buttons in the machine. It made a lot of noise and they had to raise their voices. “I’m starvin’! You got any Pye Eatings on Boros?” Bane was feeling rather hungry herself, but the Captain had only given them two hours shore leave while he picked up some business with an old acquaintance. “Think I’ve some distant cousins in the country, but we don’t have time to get out there. I know an absolutely brilliant place down the street, though.” “Shiny, let’s go. There’s River.” Kaylee pointed out of the shop window. They took the finished captures and paid the clerk, joining River on the street. “I think you’d gone past the point of remembering in this one,” laughed Bane, pointing at the one showing Kaylee tripping over Maloranty, who had passed out on the floor of the galley. Simon had come to her rescue and tried to scoop her up, only to fall backwards onto the chair. The next one was even funnier; Mal, Tony and Zoe at the end of their a drinking competition. Mal kept gasping ‘I’m the Captain’ between each gulp, followed by Tony stating, ‘No, I’m the Captain,’ after each of his shots. River snatched the next one from Kaylee’s hand and clasped it to her chest. “I didn’t know you were filming then,” she said. She gazed at it. Both Bane and Kaylee leaned over to look to see that she was twirling around the room with Stan Togashi and Angel Pye. “I think I was filming that one. That must have been before their arm wrestlin’ match,” pointed out Bane. Their laughing caused them some strange looks from other people on the street. ~ * ~ The newly named Kostova Ship Repair and Storage on Boros was resurrected from the sudden deaths of the Sanchez Brothers the year before. Mal would not have gone near the place, had it not been that Kostova was an old infantry buddy of his. He had waved them about a job and they had made their way to him after leaving Aberdeen. Kostova had been very lean during the War, but had vowed never to starve again and definitely made up for it now. “Zoe, bao bei, you’re too skinny,” he gave her an expansive hug. Mal held out his hand, but Kostova ignored it and grabbed him in an embrace too. Mal thought that while he had been making the most of all the food around him, he had been a bit lean in bathing department. Must have taken him a good while and a lot of hard work to get the shipyard set up again though. “Wu de tyen ah, Koz! You get bigger ever’ time I see you.” Koz laughed deeply and patted his belly proudly. “And you get shorter, Mal,” he replied, and to emphasise he gave a playful but firm punch in his stomach. Koz shouted to someone down the corridor and then ushered them into his office. “Like the décor – you settled in now?” said Zoe, who was just being polite as his office looked like little children had been let loose with spray paint and engine oil. “Well and truly, Zoe, well and truly. Drink?” He did not wait for them to answer, but poured out a couple of shots of something anyway. Zoe and Mal necked the shots and waited patiently for Koz to do the same. He raised his glass in their health and necked it also, it was not as potent as some of the stuff they had been used to, but it warmed the belly all the same. “So, Koz, what’s the deal?” said Mal, who was very conscious that he needed the coin. Koz belched loudly and went through the job. “I need to shift some hot merchandise. Trouble is it’s already been flagged.” Nothing unusual there, but there was something Koz was not telling him and Mal soon realised what it was. “I don’t suppose there’s a buyer either,” he stated, already having a bad feeling. Zoe looked at him, having the same feeling too and silently agreeing to steer clear of this one. “You got nothing else? We’d like to stay off the radar for a little while longer.” Koz looked at them both, sighing, and thinking Mal was maybe getting too cautious in his old age. He leaned back in his chair which creaked loudly, but took the strain. “Interested in a prairie run? Got some folks wanting to go settle out at Kerry, but they are strictly low income.” That sounded safer to Mal, looking at Zoe for the nod and got it. Excellent, he thought. “We’ll take the prairie run, Koz. But thanks for thinkin’ of us for the other thing.” Now that business was over they settled down to talk about old times chased with a few more shots. ~ * ~ The last thing Simon thought he would be doing on Boros would be getting a tattoo. But he was feeling a mite bullied and biddable and under the equal force of Jayne and Karl, who were in the other chairs getting their own tattoos done. He was sure it was not the best idea he had – well, it was not his idea in the first place, it was Karl’s idea. It had been easy to ignore Jayne because he was used to doing that, but Karl could be persuasive. Karl had a tattoo for every ship he had served on and he had decided in their brief shore leave that he would have Serenity’s name inscribed in Chinese characters. He was having it done just above the healing meaty scar on his thigh. Jayne, who was never one to be left behind, was having “Ma” tattooed on his arm. He was going to take a capture of it when it was healed and mail it to her for her birthday. When the two of them had both started to dig at him, Simon had caved in. He thought that Kaylee would like it if he got one. He was having a small ‘K’ with a simple flower done above his right hip. The moment the tattoo artist began he regretted it, but by then it was too late. It was painful as hell. Jayne and Karl, however, were laughing like they were being tickled by feathers. Karl’s took the longest, but as Jayne and Simon were done fairly quickly they decided to leave him to it. “Wish we had longer than a coupla hours, I could really do with Boros hospitality, if you know what I mean.” Jayne unnecessarily nudged Simon in the ribs. Everyone always knew what Jayne meant and Simon did not want to spend the rest of his shore leave with this giant space monkey for company. “The Captain’s given me some money to top up the Med Bay. I’m sure you don’t want to come with me.” Simon itched his tattooed area without realising and then winced, regretting it. “Hell, Doc, I get the message. Bet you really wanna buy somethin’ frilly for Kaylee to wear –“ “Bye Jayne,” and Simon walked off in the opposite direction. ~ * ~ “You got about ten minutes to lock away your valuables an’ move your stuff in with the others for a few nights,” Mal was talking to Simon, Kaylee and River. As the girls had arrived back first, Mal had them clearing the cargo bay and gym area. Jayne and Karl had conveniently arrived last, when most of the work had been done. “You can bunk with me, River,” said Bane before Jayne could make some dumb comment. “Kaylee,” shouted Mal, as he saw her following Simon to the guest quarters. She jumped guiltily and turned to face him. “Yes, Cap’n?” she said innocently. “You’ll have plenty of time with the Doc later. I’m sure Zoe’ll put you up in her quarters.” “Sure, Cap’n,” answered Kaylee, who then turned back to continue following Simon. “You can help him pack later,” said Mal, fully aware of what her intentions would have been, “I want you to keep the engine room off limits. We’re gonna have children aboard – like as not they’ll get to wandering.” “How many we got comin’, Cap’n?” she replied, just as cheerily. “’Bout thirty adults and seventeen young’uns, plus their livestock and luggage.” He turned to Bane, “I want you to clear all the food away an’ lock the pantry. I don’t want any of our own supplies goin’ missing.” “Sure the stolen merchandise wouldn’t have been less hassle, Cap’n?” added Zoe, pushing the last of the crates over the other side of the bay. “It’ll be fine, Zoe – couple of days run to Kerry, then I think we should pay a visit to Badger see if he’s anything for us.” Mal was confident that this was going to be an easy one. They broke atmo from Boros an hour later. Mal did his best impression of a stern but benevolent captain, giving their passengers his rules and regulations. The cargo hold was now noisy and chaotic, with Jayne muttering that he preferred a cargo of cattle to all these people. All the crew were overwhelmed with the amount of noise that forty seven people and their animals could generate, spread all over the cargo bay, both shuttles and the guest quarters. Dinner had been a quick and quiet affair, with everyone keen to just keep out of the way of their cargo. Kaylee and Bane had agreed between them to not bring out the captures until it was just the crew again so they could all enjoy them together. Both of them were busy anyway, Bane had spent the last hour fixing the broken nozzle on the one and only shower, located in the guest quarters and Kaylee had been sorting out some broken lighting. After Bane had finished she passed Zoe leaning on the balcony watching all the passengers with a stern eye. She stopped beside her. “You reckon they’ll give us trouble?” she asked. “Probl’y not,” said Zoe. “Jus’ reminds me of different times is all.” Zoe was never big on conversation, but when she did want to talk Bane liked to hear it. “I was one of those children once,” she continued, using her head to indicate one of the children running around the bay. “Shipped out to a new terra-formed planet, all giddy with excitement.” She sighed heavily, “Within three years, both my parents were dead from a mix of malnutrition and exhaustion, an’ I had to go work in the mines so’s I could feed myself. Always wondered how it’d be different if my parents had stayed in the Black where I was born.” “How old were you when they died?” “Twelve,” she replied, scraping a curl back behind her ear. She always kept her emotions in tight check, so Bane could not tell if Zoe was sad or upset and then decided on neither as it had clearly been a long time ago. “People will always try and make a better life for themselves,” Bane suggested. “And they won’t always succeed,” Zoe answered pessimistically. “We’re all tryin’ to make a better life for ourselves, ain’t we?” Bane did not see any difference between these settlers and themselves, but she could see that Zoe was locked in her memories at the moment and decided to leave her to it. She carried on through the empty galley to the cockpit. “Too much noise,” said River when she arrived. She was flying the ship with her feet and had her hands over her ears causing Bane’s heart to nearly stopped. She quickly sat down in the Captain’s chair, pressed a few buttons and took over, figuring that River was probably due a break anyway. Simon had explained a little of how River took in information and she sometimes wondered how River kept going with all the noise of reading people in her head, must be like permanently have the cortex pumped into her brain. She thought of an idea to try. “Put the headphones on, River,” Bane suggested. “Can’t stop the signal. I didn’t know goats mate for life,” she stated, surprised. It was not something Bane knew either. “Trust me and put the headphones on,” she repeated more sternly, and River gave her a bratty stare before trying them on. Bane pressed the com and selected some tunes for River – one of the first things she had done on arriving was upload her music collection into Serenity’s database. River closed her eyes and relaxed her shoulders. It seemed to be working and for River it was like a barrier, blocking out all the voices and she was very grateful. “He wants you to play cards with him,” she shouted across to Bane, re-taking the controls. Bane released the wheel and muttered a ‘you’re welcome’ to River as she left the cockpit. Most of the crew had gone to ground in their quarters, so she figured if there was a card game like River said, it would either be in Jayne or Karl’s quarters. Jayne’s was the one with the open door so she called down and it turned out they were both in his quarters, so she climbed down the ladder. Bane loved to play cards, but would never bet real earned money, it was too precious to her. She played chips only, or nothing else. “River said you wanted to play cards,” she said. Jayne slammed down his hand and took the winnings from the pot. “Not if it means we can’t bet real money,” he moaned. Bane shrugged. “Oh. She must have got it wrong. I can go.” She put her hand on one of the ladder rungs to start back up again. “No, stay,” said Karl quickly. “I don’t want to lose anymore money to Jayne. Deal her in.” Jayne grumbled and removed the money from table. Karl was relieved, as Jayne always insisted on playing with money and he always won. Bane sat down on the edge of Jayne’s bunk, not having been in his quarters before. It was entirely Jayne, all the weapons were clean and either displayed or neatly arranged. Everything else was a complete mess, smelling of gun oil, sweat and underused air freshener – a lot like her bunk had when she moved in. Bane silently prayed that she was not sitting on any dirty underwear. Karl had wisely chosen Kaylee’s old quarters when he became crew, but Bane had no choice, hers had been the only one left. Each of the quarters she had been the same, having a bed, desk, shelves, two chairs, toilet and sink. It was pretty basic. She saw that Jayne’s desk was covered with gun parts, much like hers was covered in a mixture of paper and wires and it gave her an idea for something she had been mulling over in her head for a while. “You got a ten or twelve bore I could use – ‘bout the size of Zoe’s Mare’s Leg?” she asked Jayne and saw him considering before adding, “Pay you for it.” Jayne was definitely interested now. He reached over behind Bane and pulled down the cloth that hid one of his gun displays. It was an impressive array of firepower. “Got a full length twelve bore. It was part of a deal I was making for another gun. Never used it, but as it only fires two at a time before reloading, I’ve never been much attached to it. I’ll saw off the barrel for you and you can have it for seventy.” “How ‘bout I saw it off myself and you let me have it for sixty?” she suggested. “Deal,” said Jayne quickly, knowing that she was saving him some hard work. “Whatcha’ want a gun for?” asked Karl. “A little experiment I’m working on,” said Bane mysteriously. “Just don’t go shooting your foot off, or the Captain’s gonna be real pissed at me,” said Jayne before turning to Karl. “Your tat itching yet?” Jayne had a bad hand and was trying to distract the others from knowing it. “Yep,” said Karl, frowning. “Trying not to think on it though,” he added through his teeth, annoyed that Jayne was now making him think of itching it. “You guys got tattoos?” asked Bane with a smirk. “Yeh – and Simon. Got ‘em while we were on shore leave,” said Karl. “Simon got one too?” Bane was shocked as she did not figure Simon for the tattoo type. “You bet he ruttin’ did – Kaylee’s probl’y checkin’ it out at this very moment,” leered Jayne. Fortunately the walls between the quarters were thick, so none of them would know what was happening at this very moment. Kaylee had persuaded Karl to bunk with Jayne for a few nights so she and Simon could have some quality time together, instead of having to sleep separately. Kaylee was an expert in that kind of persuasion and Karl was an easy-going type of person. “What did you get, Karl?” Bane asked curiously. Before getting her own tattoo she had never been much interested in them, but now it was like she had joined some kind of club and she liked admiring the different artistic work. “I got one for Serenity. I’m just followin’ the tradition of gettin’ the names of the ships I bin on.” Jayne threw in another few chips for the next round of betting. “Show ‘er where it is.” “Do I need to cover my eyes?” laughed Bane. Karl grinned and scratched his beard as he decided how much to bet. He folded instead before responding to Bane’s question. “You seen that part of me afore – had it done just above my Reaver scar.” That did not surprise her, it would be one memory of his time crewing on Serenity that he would not forget in a hurry. “What did you have done?” she asked, turning to Jayne and he flushed with pride. He placed his cards carefully face down on the table and pulled up his t-shirt sleeve. She could just make out the word ‘Ma’ and hoped it would look better once the scabs had dropped off. “Ah, Jayne. Your Ma will love it,” she said politely. “Reckon I’ll get Kaylee to record a capture so’s I can mail it for her birthday. When she’s finished nailing the Doc that is.” Just when you thought he was going to stay with the nice, he comes out with the go se, she thought. Bane used the diversion to call Jayne’s bet and she won the hand. Jayne groaned, threw in his cards and then said to her, “Still reckon your tat is the best though.” “Oh yeh?” said Karl, interested. “And where’s yours?” he was doing a fair impression of a leering Jayne at the moment and Bane rolled her eyes, the two of them could be scarily similar sometimes. “Nowhere I don’t count private, but I ain’t whippin’ it out for no art show now,” she replied, collecting the cards and giving them a shuffle. “Go on,” encouraged Karl. “Must be impressive if Jayne’s taken a shine to it.” Bane looked at them both and swivelled around, lifting up her t-shirt. It was the first time Jayne had seen the work up close and he ‘ooh’d’ and ‘ah’d’ with great respect at the workmanship. Bane, who was accustomed to flinch when anyone touched her back, instinctively arched away when Jayne reached out his hand. “That’s some fancy artwork, Bane,” said Karl, who was much more polite. Whoever had done it had truly been an artist. It did look odd though and he was about to say something else when Bane let go of her t-shirt and turned around again. She dealt out the next round of cards. “I agree with Jayne, that’s some nice work. Who was the artist?” “Guy called Reggie on Salisbury,” said Bane, trying to make up her mind whether to bet or not. “I might look him up if we ever go there,” replied Karl. “Going back to the captures,” she said, changing the subject. “Kaylee and I had the ones from the party done.” She looked wickedly at Karl, “Reckon we’ve a good one to send to your mother, Karl.” ~ * ~ The next morning Mal was greeted by a bleating goat on climbing out of his quarters. He hoped that it had not managed to get into any of the food coming through the galley, aside from the fact that someone was supposed to have closed the door to prevent the animal getting this far into the ship in the first place. He tucked his shirt in and wandered to the cockpit to make sure it was not full of chickens. Bane was at the wheel, having insisted that River get some sleep in her quarters. She had ended up losing all her chips in the poker game with Jayne and Karl very late, and had been piloting for about four hours. “No chickens in here then?” said Mal. Bane glanced around and then did a double take at the goat peering in around his knees. “No chickens, Cap’n. But do you know there’s a goat behind you?” Mal decided not to respond, he needed coffee before anything else. He turned and pulled the goat roughly through the galley and out the other door. Let it make it’s own way down the stairs, he grumbled. He closed the door and made his coffee – at least it had not been a cow, he mused, they’re a whole lot harder to manoeuvre. He pulled up his braces before sitting down at the table. Peace and coffee, nothing better. He then heard a hatch open and heard Kaylee call. “Promise me you’ll stay in that position, Simon. I’ll be right back.” Mal winced as Kaylee walked into the galley dressed in just a robe. “Oh, hello Cap’n,” she said cheerily. “Din’t know you were up.” “Yes, apparently. Look, Kaylee, I have no problem with you and the doc sexing it up, as long as you keep it to your quarters an’ not start announcing it all over my gorram ship.” “Sorry, Cap’n Grumpy. Hey, does that mean we can’t do it in the engine room no more?” “Kaylee!” Mal warned, and Kaylee smirked – what the Captain did not know wouldn’t harm him. She unlocked one of the cupboards to get some provisions thinking that she had Simon all to herself for a few more hours, and she intended to make the most of it. Mal poured himself another hot coffee and went to sit in the cockpit. The next few days were going to be testy with the crew all bunched into such a small area. He sat down and was about to tell Bane she could go get something to eat when there was a com from the cargo hold, some of the settlers had locked themselves in one of the shuttles. “I’ll go,” said Bane, taking one look at Mal’s face. “Bin like this all night, Cap’n. I’ve had to fix the shower three times.” It took her an hour to fix the lock to the shuttle door, mainly due to the fact that it had been smeared with a sticky substance. There seemed to be children running everywhere and their screaming was going a fair way to doing her head in. “You got a lot of fanciable men stowed away on this ship,” said a girl standing beside her. She could not have been more than seventeen and she was not the only one, but Bane noticed that she had been hovering around each time she had been called out to one of the problems. “They all spoken for?” Bane groaned inwardly and refused to pimp out her shipmates. “The doc is, the others are fair game, I would say.” “Can’t they come out and fix things?” she wheedled. “Doesn’t have to be just you and the other girl.” Bane’s mouth tightened as she wondered whether all the jobs they had been called to were genuine or provoked. “Kaylee and I are the only ones able to, the others are more fitted to lifting and shooting,” she paused and gave the girl her full attention. “I better not find out these things have been done a’purpose, otherwise I’ll get the Captain to drop you on the nearest planet an’ you can find someone else to take you all to Kerry.” The girl looked innocently back and Bane felt like slapping her. She wiped the last of the gunk off the keypad and unscrewed it, before resetting it so that the door opened allowing the people inside to get out. She then wired it so that it would stay open all the time, at least until they had all left. She went to do the same with the other shuttle. When Bane returned to the galley she was glad to see that breakfast was already set up. She intended to have a hearty one followed by some sleep. Kaylee and Simon were absent from breakfast, otherwise it was a full table. Mal had put the ship on autopilot for a while, but this run could get its mishaps, so it did not do to leave it on for long. Within five minutes of sitting down another request came on the com to move around some of the crates. Mal got up with a sigh, but Bane knew what it was about. “There are a few sharks down there, Cap’n. Looking for fodder to work their new farms with. They’ll be after any unattached male and will use any means to hook them.” When she had done the Eatings on the Rosalyn, it was a common sight, and her cousins and brother had always been cautious with settlers. Apparently not Jayne or Karl though, who had sat up to attention and then rushed to finish the last of their breakfast. Bane shook her head and held up her hands. “You’ve only yourselves to blame – I warned you.” Although Mal wanted to go too it would not look good for him to accidentally go and get himself married again without so much of an ‘I do.’ Jayne and Karl were not so careful and definitely up for a little female admiration. “Boobs,” said River, rolling her eyes. Bane took her tea and scaled the ladder to her quarters without spilling a drop. Like as not the next few days would bring a fair number of problems before they reached their destination. * * * * * * * * * Kerry was a small moon and they had been touting for settlers for some months. There was no specific landing place set out yet and only a few shacks for buildings, but there was a lot of construction in progress. They were not the only ship there either, which Mal noticed as they broke atmo. Bane made her first try at landing: ‘a little too jolty’ were River’s words. River did not mind that Bane had a interest in flying as well. She knew it soothed the Captain’s mind to have a backup pilot on account of her unpredictability, she did not hold it against him, as she was always chief pilot. She was still trying to deal with all the gorram voices in her head. The headphones had helped, but she could not walk around the ship with them on, though at least they had helped her get some sleep. Bane had kindly let her sleep on her bed, insisting that as pilot she needed a proper night’s sleep. Bane had slept on the floor, when they were not doing shifts in the cockpit, on the large green rag rug she had bought over from the Rosalyn. River could see that Bane was used to making her own little sanctuary with whatever tools she was given. She liked her room and the way she had decorated it – borrowing some of Kaylee’s yellow paint – but could not in any ‘verse understand why she had so much bits of paper scattered around, it was so inefficient. River pressed the button to open the cargo bay ramp to let everyone off. The smell of goats, sheep and cows had started to permeate into all parts of the ship and they would all be glad that this prairie run was over. She helped Bane to power down and they both went to help offload the people and animals and get some much needed fresh air. It was a noisy and excited chaos for a while and River walked away from the ship and voices for some peace. In the cargo bay the two of them met up with Simon who looked like he had no sleep for the four days it had taken to fly to Kerry. He had no regrets about getting the tattoo now, Kaylee had been extremely touched by the gesture and he had enjoyed the rewards. As always, he had bought his bag in case there was no doctor on the planet and he was needed. River had unnecessarily told him he only had himself to blame for being worn out. Bane too was glad to get out into the sunlight, even if it the dust made her cough. She saw that Mal was already some way off with Zoe, walking over to find out who owned the other ship. “Gorram it, come here!” shouted Jayne, who was chasing a sheep past her and out of the hold. Karl had his arms full of goat and a very forceful woman directing him out of the cargo bay. They had landed a little way from the few buildings, as Mal said that if they were any closer they would likely be blown down. Bane hoped that these people would be able to make a life for themselves here and not end up like Zoe’s family. She waved at one of the children as they had turned around to catch their last view of the ship. She caught another whiff of manure and decided that the best thing for all of them was to get that stuff off the ship too. Bane noticed that someone had already thought of that job and had left a couple of spades by the ramp, starting to deal with the mess while the others went off to the settlement. It was smelly work. Bane took a breather on the ramp a short while later and then caught movement in her side vision. She squinted and saw Mal and Zoe running back at speed towards them from the other vessel. They were some distance away and Mal was shouting something. She was about to react when she felt a gun against her head. “Move off the ramp, slowly,” said the voice sharply and she obeyed. She looked and saw there were at least five of them, all armed. The rest of Serenity’s crew and the settlers had moved further away from the ship, but some of them had stopped what they were doing and were moving towards them slowly, being real careful about their movements. Another gunmen moved into the ramp. “Stern,” said the man, with his gun still trained on Bane. “Fire her up.” He dug the gun further into her back, “Do you have a Doc on board?” Bane stiffened, she was not going to help these men in any way. “No, ‘fraid not.” “I’m a doctor,” said Simon, who had been close enough to hear what was going on. Bane glared at him for speaking up as it seemed obvious they were going to take the ship anyway, better they all just leave them in peace. She saw that Mal and Zoe were still too far away to be any help. “You’re coming with us,” he said to Simon, and they pointed the gun at him. Simon came towards them and passed Bane. The man with the gun gave her a push so she landed in the dirt on her hands and knees. As he moved back into the cargo bay another of them, a woman, pressed the button to bring up the ramp. “Simon!” shouted Kaylee running towards them. The others were running back from the settlement now as well. Before the ramp closed completely they all saw Simon struggle and throw his med bag out of the narrow gap. Bane, as the nearest, did her best to catch it but she missed and it crashed on the ground. She heard something break inside. She caught it up and then raced out of the way as the engines started up and Serenity took off without them. They all watched in shock as the ship broke atmo. In the midst of this Mal and Zoe had reached them. Mal ran straight up to Bane, catching the clothing at her neck and lifting her up to his level. “Why in hell’s sphincter did you let them take my ship?!” he ranted at Bane. She found it difficult to speak with Mal choking her and she tried to push at him. “They took Simon and had guns on us. We’ll get it back,” she explained, struggling to free herself, but Mal was not listening. The others, who had also now reached them, were too shocked to react. “You let them take my ship,” he said wretchedly, letting his emotions puncture his voice. He dropped her before she could kick him somewhere it hurt. Mal stood and starred at the sky. It was then that screaming started to come from the new colonists, as they were now running back from the makeshift buildings. “They’re dead,” said River in a quiet voice.


Thursday, April 5, 2007 12:16 PM


Ooh...this is all kinds of not good. Though I am hoping since Colonel Collins didn't identify Simon amongst the 6 people found dead on Serenity, that he managed to esacpe before the malady killed the ship thieves.

Still...definitely can't wait to see where you take this tale, hermitsrest. Lots of angst between Mal and Bane to come, I imagine. Cuz we all know Mal's gonna be the grumpiest Gus around until he had his boat back;)



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