Quitter: part 23
Sunday, November 11, 2007

In which Mal receives a package and we tie up every loose end. That's All, Folks. The End.


Not mine, but only Joss's and Mutant Enemies. No harm, no foul, no cashy money changing hands.


Serenity waited out at the edge of Persephone’s orbit, and the second shuttle dropped down towards the uninhabited outskirts of the city at dusk the day before the appointed meeting. The plan was that Serenity would not arrive until after Mal and Atherton Wing had their conversation and the shuttle had rejoined Serenity. Mal had sent Lord Warrick a wave saying he would arrive in four days’ time to deliver Isabel’s beef; which they hoped would be enough to establish a time when they were not on Persephone. Mal, Zoe and Jayne parked the shuttle in as secluded a place as they could find and started walking. They had twelve hours to make their rendezvous. They each carried a large duffle, Jayne’s full of weaponry, Zoe and Mal’s full of blankets with which to construct a simulacrum of Inara. Four hours of brisk walking brought the trio to the parade grounds, an empty field just outside the city, used by the local social clubs for fetes, carnivals and polo matches. It was the traditional spot for duels, and as such was studiously avoided by any local law enforcement. People who fought duels were not of a class to brook interference in their pleasures by a mere government employee. Taking turns at watch, Mal, Zoe and Jayne passed the rest of the night. Well before dawn Mal and Zoe walked into the middle of the field and created something that might be a lying down woman; Mal spread a groundsheet and lay down on it next to the might-be-Inara, hands folded calmly on his belly, gun close under his coat. “Okay, Mal, perimeter’s still clean. I’m taking my position,” Jayne’s voice spoke into Mal’s comm link. “Shiny. Zoe’s just on her way, too. I think we’re good to go. Don’t shoot unless I tell you to, dong ma?” Mal said to Jayne on the comm and to Zoe as she stood above him. “Got it, sir,” Zoe said. “But I’m not planning to let him kill you, sir. Just so you know.” “I’m not planning on it, neither. Come on, get, it’ll be time soon. I got my longhandled underdrawers on to keep me warm. It’ll be fine.” Just as the first rays of dawn appeared, Jayne spoke in Mal’s link. “He’s here. Brought hisself, just like you told him. I don’t see anybody else coming behind.” Atherton Wing stood at the end of the parade grounds, looking around in the half light. He saw two bodies lying in the middle of the grounds and cautiously began to approach them. He walked very slowly, stopped from time to time, apparently to watch for any signs of movement. Mal lay as still as death, glad he had taken the trouble to put a groundsheet down to lie on. It kept the dew from soaking him and making him colder than he already was, in spite of his assurances to Zoe. Atherton eventually crept to within five feet of Mal. He stood there, looking, Mal breathing as shallowly as he could. He figured some breathing was all right, since presumably Wing had wanted them alive or he would have just contracted to have them shot on Halcion. After two or three minutes of watching, Wing walked three steps closer and bent down toward Mal. Mal reached out and grabbed Wing’s coat front with his left hand, his gun in his right. “You are one dumb hundan, Atherton,” Mal said. He reached out a leg and hooked it behind Wing’s, bringing Wing down hard on the ground. Mal stood up over him and shook his head. “And cheap, too. Those wangaba dans you set on me were about the sorriest pair I ever met. A very fine woman had to shoot ‘em, they were so sorry.” “I should have killed you when I had the chance,” Wing said. “I should have just killed you right then.” “Maybe so, but you didn’t. Stand up, you lousy bastard, but don’t try anything violent. I’ve got you covered from here to Osiris.” “What are you going to do? Just shoot me where I stand? How very courageous of you,” Wing said, standing warily. “You’re not very polite; didn’t your momma teach you any manners? No, I been thinkin’ and you know, I believe I like the idea of a duel. When honor’s at stake, I think a duel is the answer. Sending that gou se onto my boat to make a bunch of people that you had no quarrel with sick, that was a dishonorable thing to do and I resent it. So, time for a duel.” “I’m not fighting a duel with you, you unwashed thug. Where’s Inara, since I gather this artistic collection of rugs is not, in fact, she?” “I have no idea where Inara Serra is; and I’m actually very clean. Polished my boots and everything. You were happy to fight a duel with me once, but it’s your choice. If you won’t fight I can just shoot you, but I thought a duel was appropriate. Now, as I understand it, since I’m the one who was dishonored, I get to set the rules. Here are the rules. I have two pistols with me, you get to choose the one you prefer. We walk away from one another, turn on command and draw at the drop of a handkerchief. Somebody gets left standing.” “My, my, where did you learn that?” Wing said. “A person can find out anything on the cortex. I’m going to call my second in; sorry, but I can’t provide you with one. An unwashed thug, you know, may not be up on all the niceties. Zoe,” Mal said, “come on in.” Zoe appeared, covering Wing with a shotgun as she approached. “Now, you c’n use my pistol or you can use an extra I’ve got right here or if you’ve got one on your person you c’n use that. Now, Zoe’s gonna drop the hanky – if you shoot too early she’ll shoot you dead right then. Better chance of livin’ if you don’t cheat. I might miss, you know. She won’t.” Mal held out the pistols. “I have my own.” “Good, always better to use a tool you’re familiar with,” Mal said. He began buttoning his coat all the way to his throat, folding the flaps to cover his shirt front. At Zoe’s quizzical look he explained. “I’m a bigger target than he is. Just tryin’ to minimize myself.” “Okay, Ath. Now I think we stand back to back and walk 50 paces away from one another, turn and face one another and when Zoe drops the hanky – you got the hanky, Zoe? – we shoot. Ready?” “This is ridiculous.” “Could be, but it’s my party and this is the game we’re playing.” Mal raised his eyebrows at Wing, who grudgingly stood back to back with Mal. They began to walk away from one another, Zoe counting the steps. When she reached 50, Mal and Wing turned to face one another, guns at their sides. Zoe held out one of Mal’s white handkerchiefs, looked from one man to the other, and dropped it. Both men drew and fired; Atherton Wing fell. Mal held his left shoulder as he stood looking at the fallen man. “He hit you, sir?” “Not enough to tell. Let’s go.” “Gone, sir.” They quickly gathered the blankets and stuffed them into the duffles they had come in. Mal refused to let Zoe look at his shoulder until they had walked an hour toward the shuttle. Inspection showed that Mal’s own assessment was correct; Wing’s shot had torn Mal’s coat and made a shallow groove in his shoulder. The wound was bleeding sluggishly, but could wait for Simon on Serenity for repair. They did not wave Serenity until they were nearly back to the ship.

“Wash, we’re coming in.” “Everybody okay? Should I get Simon up?

“Everybody’s fine except Atherton Wing. Mal needs a weave, and his coat mended, but he’s fine. I’ll tell you about it when we’re in.” **** “Lamby, let me get this straight. You and Mal and Jayne went to the parade grounds so Mal could fight a duel with Atherton Wing?” “Yes, we did,” Zoe answered. “Did you know that’s what our captain was planning? And if you did, why didn’t you stop him?” Wash asked. “I didn’t know; and stopping him didn’t seem reasonable once we were there. For once, Mal’s plan was perfect. Wing’s dead; in a place where anyone could have shot him; and we’re not even on Persephone yet. Husband, I am getting too old to sleep sitting up on the cold ground. I’m going to bed.” Zoe leaned over and kissed Wash passionately. “Do me a favor: don’t fight any duels on my account. They’re exhausting.” *** “Lord Warrick, I’m coming in with the Elysium beef. Where do you want it delivered?” “Right to the docks is fine, Captain Reynolds. Did you have a successful trip to Halcion? How did you find dear Isabel?” Warrick asked. “She seemed extremely well, sir, as far as I could tell. Ranching seems to suit her,” Mal answered. “By the way, Malcolm. I thought you’d be interested to know that Atherton Wing was found shot to death at the parade grounds day before yesterday. It is presumed that he lost a duel.” “It was bound to happen one day,” Mal said. “He was right hot-headed, old Ath.” *** Mal, Zoe and Jayne stood in Badger’s dirty little office. “What in the name of all that’s holy caused you to help Atherton Wing sabotage my boat?” Mal had his pistol right up under Badger’s chin. “’onest, guvner, ah had naow idea ‘e was gunnin’ for yew. Yew knaow ah doan’ ask no questions of people when ah find ‘em what they’re lookin’ for. Ah would never ‘aive set ‘im on yew. Yew’re a valuable person to me.” “A likely bloody story.” “It’s gawd’s ‘onest trewth. Here, naow, I’ll prove it ter yew – I got a noice lil job waitin’ – legal, nearly, and aisy. Yew take, it, guvner, yew take it.” After futher negotiation, Mal did agree to take Badger’s easy, little job. Which, for once was both. Back in Persephone a month later, Zoe went to collect mail. “Win the lottery, sir?” “Not to my knowledge. Why?” Mal answered. “You ordered a pair of boots from Brasingstoke and Winston. You must have won something, sir.” “I never ordered a pair of boots from Brasingstoke and Winston. Officers get their boots made by B and W. I’m a poor infantryman, I wear whatever I c’n find.” “Maybe so, sir, but here’s the box. I picked it up just now. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly Serenity. Return address: Brasingstoke and Winston, sir.” Zoe held out a large box. Mal opened it carefully. Inside was a pair of boots, cut exactly like the pair he wore every day. Also in the box was six pairs of fine merino wool socks, a tin of neat’s foot oil and a bottle of gentian violet. Inside the right boot was a sealed note. “Malcolm – Take care of your feet. You might need to run from bad men. Isabel”

*The End*


Sunday, November 11, 2007 9:56 AM


I was so pleased Mal finally got to take care of Atherton Wing in a manner most fitting. Also, none of our crew came close to death, hey, that is almost a first! Loved the parcel at the end from Isobel, I really ended up liking her a whole lot and it was so kind of her to get him new boots and fixings for his feet. Think she might be turning up in another of your fics some time. Thanks for a good story. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, November 11, 2007 12:03 PM


Very well done throughout, and a lovely ending to the tale! Look forward to more from you soon! :D

Sunday, November 11, 2007 2:16 PM


Absolutely loved this story. Ath was done away with very, very nicely and I loved the boots. I hope we see Isabel again soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007 7:33 AM


An excellent end to a fun read -- the boot gift-box was a really nice touch from Isabel to Mal. Thanks for sharing.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:26 AM


I really liked this whole tale, although I felt perhaps the end with Atherton was a little quick. But I too loved the boots ending ...


You must log in to post comments.



Quitter: part 23
In which Mal receives a package and we tie up every loose end. That's All, Folks. The End.

Quitter: part 22
Isabel and Mal go back to Elysium and pick up the reins of real life.

Quitter: part 21
Mal and Isabel reach an understanding before the crew starts back to Persephone.

Quitter: part 20
Malcolm agrees to Isabel's proposal.

Quitter: part 19
Mal faces his demons. Isabel's got his back.

Quitter: part 18
Serenity makes her delivery to Isabel Warrick's ranch, Inara makes her departure.

Quitter: part 17
Serenity heads out to Isabel Warrick's place to deliver her fancy horses.

Quitter: part 16
Mal is startled to discover that Isabel Warrick agrees with the Jayne Cobb philosophy of public relations.

Quitter: part 15
As he prepares to make the delivery, Mal is nonplussed by a rich girl with a handgun.

Quitter: part 14
Serenity makes Halcion and prepares to meet the saboteurs face to face.