HELLBOUND SERIES: 27. "Purgatory Rising"
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Jayne gets out of prison. Shepherd Book gets some answers and Mal is on the brink of an abyss."



SUMMARY: "Jayne gets out of his prison. Shepherd Book gets some answers and Mal is on the brink of an abyss." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was dark. Pitch black and seemingly deserted. Something near the ground moved like a shadow breaking away from the deeper darkness oozing around it. Coalescing into the crouched shape of a man. The figure froze, seconds widened into minutes with only the echo of silence to pool around him. After a few minutes the figure rose to its' full height, listening and stepping with care. There was no moon but the stars above his head were bright. Dim as it was he could at least make out shapes. With a grin Jayne Cobb shook himself and brushed off the worst of the soil clinging to every bit of him, every crease of his clothing and every inch of his skin. But he was alive and that gave him a chance to do what his friends surely could not. They didn't know where he was otherwise he would have been rescued by now.

On that sober thought Jayne moved from shadow to shadow, using the change from dim light to dimmer to give him some advantage should the area not be as deserted as it appeared. He could not afford to make any mistakes. Unarmed, hungry, thirsty and mad as *diyu* he might only get one chance to do this right. He had to find Mal and somehow get them back to Serenity. It was the work of a few more minutes to confirm that he really was alone. Jayne felt his elation flat line and tried not to worry. He needed light to see by, light to find clues as to where they had taken the Captain. Even a torch would have been something but he had nothing. Silently cursing, Jayne realised he would have to wait for morning before he could do anything. Feeling around on the ground he picked up a nice heavy lump of rock then settled in to wait. With his rudimentary weapon in hand he at least felt confident that should anyone come upon him he had something with which to fight back.

* * * * *

Simon stared, mouth agape. His brain not quite able to process what Book was saying. "You can't be serious. I mean, how is that even possible?"

Shepherd Book was serious but calm, relaxed almost. Zoe frowned slightly but kept her peace. When Book had called for everyone to meet him in the commons area she had gone with Simon to check on Casey first. The woman was unconscious. River offered to sit with her so Zoe left to see what the Preacher had found out, Simon following a moment later after a quick word with his sister.

"I assure you it is more than possible."

Kaylee sat at the table with the baby in her arms. The infant was fast asleep but the mechanic continued to rock him, whether to comfort the infant or herself no one was sure. She flicked a worried glance from Simon to Book. Zoe got Wash. He needed to hear this too. For the pilot's sake Book started again as soon as the pilot joined them.

"Casey wasn't imprisoned on Argent, that was just a cover, a ruse."

Simon interrupted. "Go to the part where they set the Captain up."

Zoe squeezed Wash's shoulder to stop him saying anything. She knew her *zhangfu* had a stack of questions but now was not the time to ask them. Best to hear the story in full from the Shepherd. Book continued.

"Casey and Brak have a history, a quite extensive one. Contrary to what we have been led to believe Casey is as much Alliance as Brak, but her expertise was in espionage. In simple terms she was a spy. In the course of her deep cover work Casey discovered something unexpected. Something that would make her rich beyond her wildest dreams but to get it she needed someone on the outside. Someone she could trust. Who could be bought."


Book nodded at Zoe. "*Qu*. Casey had the information coded into her DNA, a biological blueprint."

Kaylee frowned. "Where does the baby come in?"

"That was an accident but Casey was right, it was Brak's child."

"She was also raped - repeatedly." Added Simon slowly. "That wasn't a lie."

"No, she was raped but that was only after she decided not to cut Brak in on the rest of the deal."

"Casey said she was raped repeatedly *before* she fell pregnant with Brak's child and the guards just contented themselves with beatin' on her after that but not enough for her to lose the baby. Wait, are you sayin' she tried to double cross Brak? If she was going to double cross him why tell him anythin' in the first place?" Asked Wash.

"Casey was in deep cover but she was always watched. Monitored. The only place where the surveillance was useless was the penal colony. Not only were the walls too thick, the facility too far away but the prisoners were all kept underground. There were 14 levels just for incarceration. Upset the wrong people and you could live your whole life and die without seeing daylight again. But Brak was just as sneaky and paranoid as she was. When Casey put the plan to him and left he followed her with some of his men calling it a furlough to explain their leave of absence from the penal colony. As soon as Casey was located they caught her. Brak's visit coincided with Unification Day and being a loyal member of the Alliance he and his men went to celebrate before leaving. Well, everybody knows what happened next." Book paused and looked each of them in the eye as he continued. "Normally being arrested for fighting in an Alliance bar wouldn't warrant a stay in a maximum security prison complex but during the furore the Captain managed to break the commandant's nose. That, plus him recognising the name Malcolm Reynolds from the Battle of Serenity, and you could say the Captain's days were numbered. The fracas was all the excuse Brak needed. What he hadn't counted on was Casey latching on to the Captain in the prison transport on their way to Argent and deciding to use him to complete her plan instead."

"No offence, Shepherd, but that's an awful lot of supposition."

Book shook his head at Zoe. "It isn't supposition."

Simon raised his eyebrows. "Casey told you that?"

"She did."

"*Shenme shihou*?" Asked Zoe.

The Shepherd blinked at the first mate's suspicious tone. "*Shenme*?"

"You tellin' us she talks in her sleep?"

He ignored the sarcasm and the frown on his face eased. "No, she woke up."

The doctor did not look happy. "You were going to tell me."

Book held up a hand. "It was only briefly Simon but in that time I managed to convince her to tell me the truth."

Wash looked thoughtful. His mind a whir of doubt. "Let's just say we accept this story for now from the Queen of Liairs. What in the nine hells did she want Mal for?"

* * * * *

It seemed safe. Quiet. No exterior sounds. No bindings to hold her down. With her eyes still closed Casey checked in with each of her senses and reassured herself that she wasn't linked up to any drip feeds or monitors. A smug smile formed in her mind. Amateurs. Her eyes sprung open as she readied herself to roll off the infirmary bed. The eyes that pinned her in place were not the Shepherd's but were too knowing for comfort.

"*Cuode*." Said River in a cold emotionless voice. "You're the amateur."

* * * * *

Jayne managed to doze in fits and starts, nothing so useful as actual sleep but it did help. As soon as the first rays of pre-Dawn illumed the dark sky he was back on his feet, his mind trying to work out all the permutations. Carefully he tracked the immediate area. There was no sign of Vera but he managed to find his knife. No discarded com though. He guessed that would have been smashed to bits or taken with them. A further bit of scouting brought him to a small fitful stream which ran in a broken manner as if something was blocking its' path further into the high ground. Jayne didn't want to look, didn't want to know and couldn't afford the distraction. Greedily he drank his fill then looked for something to put water in. There was nothing so with a sigh he took another few mouthfuls and splashed the cold water on his face.

The light now was good enough to see by and the big man lost no time in carefully pouring over the ground to distinguish tracks. There were signs of something being dragged - probably Mal - and further out he recognised the heavy tracks of the argicultural machinery. Jayne started to turn away from those then stopped. Might not be a bad thing to find out where they could stash something that big. Curious but cautious, Jayne followed the deep tracks over a stretch of semi desert and frowned. A good half an hour later he could make out rocks in the distance. It was only when he got closer he realised it was actually a small mountain range. He stopped. What the good gorram would anyone want with agricultural machinery in the mountains? That was when it hit him. Mountains. Caves. There had to be a hidey hole up ahead. Quickening his pace it didn't take long to find. The two huge machines were covered in the fine dust that seemed to cover everything. Though Jayne searched the cave thoroughly there was nothing else in it.

Turning, the mercenary was about to step back outside when he heard the distinctive sound of something landing. Whatever it was had to be small, something even smaller than a shuttle. He peered carefully around the side of the cave mouth and held his breath. A small hover flyer was skimming passed his hidey hole. Jayne narrowed his eyes against the sun which was getting brighter and rising higher into the sky. As he watched he realised the little flyer was heading over to the oubliette where he had been imprisoned. He had to think quick. It had taken him almost an hour to get to the cave but it would take the skimmer minutes. Five maybe ten to cover the same ground. Jayne couldn't catch up in time but maybe he could do better. Selecting a hand sized boulder the mercenary stepped out of the cave and wound himself up for the best throw of his life. Pretending he was hefting a grenade, Jayne launched the rock with all the strength he had then held his breath.

Impossibly it seemed as if everything went in slow motion. The noise of the little craft obviously masked any small noise Jayne had made and the only reason Jayne's ad hoc plan stood any chance at all was because the rider had slowed down as he passed the cave to make sure everything was alright. As the man began to open the throttle to pick up speed the rock hit him. Not in the head as Jayne had hoped but in the right shoulder. The effect was immediate, the man lost control of the craft as he was spun forward with the impact, tumbling as the flyer went out of control and falling out of it. Jayne didn't stop to watch and enjoy the show but broke into a run, his long legs eating up the ground as adrenaline fueled the speed he needed to get to the fallen man before he could recover his wits. The man was on the ground, face down, rolling over with a groan as something big and heavy smashed into his back. Jayne didn't want to kill him, at least not yet but sometimes he didn't know his own strength. Rolling the man onto his back Jayne let out a frustrated howl. He had knocked him unconscious but at least Jayne had got to the man before he could signal his friends. Plus, now he had transport.

* * * * *

He was dying. He was rutting sure of it. Felt like he was bleeding from every inch of his gorram body, the flesh and bone going a mite pulpy as well by the sense of it. Had to imagine as he was kind'a numb apart from the bright buzzing pain worming its' way through his brain and setting his teeth on edge with the vibration. Gorramit he hurt, could almost wish it was over except he had people looking to him to lead them. Counting on him. Wasn't in his nature to just lie down give up.

Prising his eyes half open, Malcolm Reynolds looked up through his lashes and into the face of a man devoid of expression. The long pale face held dead eyes in a mockery of living flesh. The suit was dark and ill fitting as if the man had lost weight rapidly and not seen the point in downsizing his wardrobe to fit. But it was the hands, the hands that make him shake like an unstable wormhole inside. Covering the man's hands were thin blue latex gloves. 'Two by two, hands of blue'. The thought sang in his brain in River Tam's voice. It was then he saw the thin instrument the man was holding, two little silver rods springing out from each end. Oh good gorram, this couldn't be good.

So intent was the Captain on his current predicament that he took no notice of the muffled screams on the other side of the observation window. Death was coming and he had no clue how to dodge it but that didn't mean not trying. Screwing up his courage and the last of his energy he did the only thing he could think of, he brought his knee up as hard as he could and aimed at the groin. It was odd watching that pale impassive face screw up in agony, the body recoiling from him with a jerking motion. The device though was still in the man's hand and Mal had enough presence of mind to know that little thing was a bigger threat than the man weilding it. Struggling to his feet the Captain used his manacled wrists to smash down on the hand dislodging the little device which clattered to the shiny metal floor. Before he could think about his action, Mal stamped down again and again on it until the thing shattered. Brittle bits of metal shearing off like some broken toy.

Staggering towards the door, his relief was short lived. As the Captain reached the door he saw that he had only solved half the problem. Staring back at him through the glass was the other half to the Blue Sun tag team. The sallow faced man drew back his lips in a deadly snarl and raised his right hand. Another of the deadly devices was clearly visible in a blue gloved hand, the man's intent written clearly on his unemotional face. Malcolm Reynolds was going to die and it wasn't going to be pleasant.

* * * * *

"I could kill you."

Casey didn't even blink back. "You wouldn't do that, you need me to get back your precious Cap'n."

River shook her head. "You overstate your value. Always did. Until you stooped to murder."

"I do what I have to in order to survive. You know how it is."

"*Ni shuohuang*. You're twisted, warped. Enjoy leading people on then turning on them when they've served their usefulness. Even the snake in the Garden of Eden was more honest."

"*Wei, qing* don't lecture me! You're on the Alliance list of Most Wanted, you know nothin'."

"I know we don't need to keep you alive to use the code."

The woman froze and glared at River, pure hatred in her eyes, body tense. Ready to launch herself at River and rip her limb from limb. Spookily enough River laughed.

"You wouldn't make it off this bed. We have the baby, don't need you."

"I have the code, the baby is a decoy."

River shook her head and lowered her voice. "*Bushi*. Even now you can't stop lying. You told us you were repeatedly raped until Brak made you pregnant then he allowed the beatings to continue but refused to let anyone rape you again to protect the baby. You told us the code was placed in the baby's DNA but it wasn't. It's in yours. Not that it matters because you had the code implanted into your DNA before you fell pregnant. The baby naturally has his mother's DNA ergo he has the code as well."

Casey watched River carefully. "What difference does that make?"

"All the difference in the 'verse. The baby wasn't a decoy but insurance."

For a long time neither girl spoke, nor did they break eye contact with each other. An inward battle was waging a war and Casey was not winning. At last she blinked, slowly, defiantly, not admitting that it was a flag of surrender. Bad enough to have to face Derrial Book without having a Reader run rampant inside her mind. Her eyes narrowed. "What do you want?" "Where are they holding the Captain?"

"If I tell you what happens to me?"

"I can't answer for the others but we won't kill you."

"That's not much." Casey spat.

With a tiny little smile echoing someone else's words River answered. "It's enough."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *zhangfu* = husband *qu* = yes (lit. go) *shenme shihou* = when *shenme* = what *cuode* = wrong *ni shouhuang* = you lie (lit. tell untruth) *wei* = hey! *qing* = please *bushi* = not so



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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.