Broken Wings: Chapter 8 (Repost)
Monday, November 12, 2007

River begins her quest. Simon gets closer with an old 'friend'. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.


Chapter 8

Mal pulled the body of their communications officer over to him and yanked out the man’s radio. He kept his head low and his body pressed to the ground as he called into the handset for reinforcements. He yelled until his voice was raw, but all he got in return was static.

“Not a good place to get caught out in the open, sir.”

He glanced around the flat terrain, at the charred remains of the structures that had once stood in this valley. Nothing was whole; there weren’t even many trees to shelter beneath.

“I see that Zoe.” He shook the handset and exhaled a sigh of relief when a familiar voice came over it. He silenced them immediately with, “we need someone to drop a big, bad bomb about three clicks to the north east before they send us back to Earth-that-Was – in little bitty pieces!” Mal brushed the back of his hand against his forehead, wet with sweat and filthy with three days worth of dirt and blood.

He received confirmation, gave the order for his people to lay low and smiled with relief when he heard the familiar whine of a missile - he only hoped it was headed away from them instead of at them.

He lifted his head and glanced once more at the flattened and utterly destroyed buildings that littered the landscape, at the bodies lying barely recognizable beneath the rubble. As the missiles whirled overhead, he desperately hoped his men would not add to that body count.

Today was not a good day to die.


Simon had avoided Mai for most of the past week. It helped that their specialties didn’t really coincide that much, and that they seemed to work different days and different hours. Simon didn’t have time to think about her, he had a job to do, plans to execute, and at the same time had two children to love and support – even though they lived with his parents.

He finished typing commands into a nearby terminal, glanced around the room, and cut the connection. It wouldn’t do for anyone to look over his shoulder and see what he was doing. When finished, he took the chart off the counter and continued his rounds.

He’d told a few old friends that were still at the hospital what had happened – the truth of it all, except the part where his sister was alive and not truly dead. He could see the sympathy in their eyes and they’d all been very happy to have him back where he belonged.

It irked him now, the way everyone in the Core looked down on those who lived on the Rim, or lived their lives sailing through the Black, taking jobs as they came – living free. He’d never noticed it before. He’d never noticed that he was truly just like all of these people that he’d chosen to surround himself with – until he’d been shown a different way of life, one more freeing than he could have ever imagined.

Lost in thought, he didn’t notice Mai until it was too late, until he’d collided with her and knocked the chart she held to the ground – along with his.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” He bent immediately to pick up the charts. He was quick to note that she let him.

“Simon –“ he could hear the hesitation in her voice and was shocked when she rested a light hand on his forearm. “I’m – sorry.”

It took him a moment to kick start his brain. “It isn’t you who should be apologizing.”

She smiled, in that way he knew so well, and waited.

“And I –“ he shook his head. “I can’t apologize for something I would do over again – if given the chance.”

She cocked her head and stared at him, unblinking. He briefly wondered if she would reconsider hitting him in a public place. But instead, she simply nodded. “She was your sister.”

Simon’s heart thudded sharply in his chest. “And my son’s mother would have been my wife – if she’d lived.” He wasn’t sure why he’d felt the overwhelming need to add that last comment.

A very unhappy Mal glared at his doctor. “I’m thinkin’ there needs to be some sorta ceremony, yes?”

“I’ve asked. She said no.” Simon didn’t want to have this conversation right now.

At least Mal had the decency to look shocked. “She said no?” he shook his head. “That girl’s been wantin’ you for –“

“She’s got me.”

“Ain’t right her bein’ in the family way and not havin’ a ring to show for it..”

Simon sighed. This really wasn’t a conversation he should be having with the captain. He should be talking with Kaylee about it. But she’d said no. She didn’t want to get married for the wrong reasons.

He’d tried to see it from Kaylee’s perspective, but he’d still been hurt and disappointed. It was just who he was, how he was raised. You married the mother of your child. It was old fashioned and Simon knew it, but it was something from his past that he’d tried to cling to, since there wasn’t much left.

Having Mal, who wasn’t happy about her pregnancy in the first place, dig into him like this only served to make him angry.

“Yes, well, there’s not much I can do about it right now. She said no.” Simon didn’t even try to keep the bitterness out of his voice. He couldn’t be this short with Kaylee, but he could with Mal. “And besides, why would she want to marry me? I’m a fugitive. She couldn’t even take my name without risk. Why give that curse to a newborn?”

It was one of the few times where Mal didn’t instantly have something to say. Simon felt smug. Hurt but smug.

His name echoed around them and he glanced toward the speaker on the wall above his head. He blinked rapidly to shake the memory from his mind and muttered a quick, “I’m sorry.” It sounded lame to his ears, but in those two words, he hoped she understood that it was an apology, not only for right now, but for back then as well. He’d hurt her when he’d disappeared with River.

The wounds of his losses were far too fresh and painful for him to give a fuller explanation. Even if he hadn’t told her about everything that had happened in his life over the past year, he knew their mutual friends had. It was clear by the look on her face.

She waved down the hallway that would lead toward one of the emergency bays. “Go save some lives, Doctor Tam.”

Relief flooded his chest and he wasn’t sure why. He just needed to get away from her, from the memories. He hurried down the hall without another word.

He ran down the hallway and in his minds eye he could see himself moving along another familiar pathway, one that sent tingles down his limbs whenever he thought of it.

He could still smell her. On his skin, in the clean, crisp sheets changed nightly by the housekeeping staff; in their son who cried for a mother he would never know. When he reached his destination, he was in the doorway to the engine room. The lights flickered as she bent over some piece of equipment, talking to it while she worked as if it was a person. The ship shook and he braced himself between the doorframe until the tremors subsided.

A smile crossed his face when he heard a loud exalted cry and saw Kaylee straighten, a small metal piece clutched in her hand.

“Gorram thing was caught in the intake valve. My girl’ll run smoother now.”

Simon looked around the dirty room. He was always afraid for her in here; all of the metal pieces, spinning at dangerous speeds, the volts coursing through rusted and substandard parts. But then she smiled at him, and most rational thought fled his brain. When she would saunter over to him and touch him with grease-stained hands, brush her smudged cheek against his, there was no place else he wanted to be – and with no one else.

The stark light of the emergency room replaced the dirty, dark engine room and a different memory pushed itself through his mind, one he’d been all too quick to forget.

“Status?” he asked the technician as he pushed himself through the doors.

“Unidentified female, hover crash, appears to be in late term pregnancy.” Simon examined the woman as the aide repeated her vitals.

“Someone page Doctor Cheung.” Simon said as he worked to extract a piece of metal embedded in the woman’s side. “I need her here stat. This baby is coming. I can’t deliver it and keep her alive at the same time.”

Mai Cheung arrived when Simon was elbow deep in the woman’s side, struggling to control the internal bleeding from the multiple injuries she had sustained. She barked orders to the waiting staff and then disappeared between the unconscious woman’s legs.

Simon worked furiously, and dimly heard Mai snapping orders to the aids waiting for her instructions. He knew it wasn’t going well and expected to lose both mother and child. It didn’t matter what he did, the mother’s blood pressure continued to drop and she was hemorrhaging more blood than he could possibly replace.

When Mai pulled the baby from its mother, Simon heard nothing. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before glancing up at the monitors that tracked the young woman’s life signs. With the baby released, the woman’s heart rate and blood pressure were stabilizing.

He continued to repair the internal injuries and after several hours of work, succeeded.

He felt an unusual urge to check on the baby, and after he’d discarded his bloodied scrubs, he made his way to the neo-natal icu. When he glanced inside, he saw Mai removing her own bloodied coat. He moved to intercept her when she left the room, and she smiled weakly at him.

“The baby?” Simon asked, feeling dread grow in the pit of his stomach.

Mai shook her head. “I always think it will get easier.”

“But it never does,” Simon finished. He knew how she felt. He’d lost more patients than he could count, and it never got easier.

He pushed through the doors and the emergency crew immediately began to speak. He listened and nodded, snapped on gloves and stopped cold when he noticed the woman lying on the bed. If she hadn’t died in his arms, Simon would have thought, at first glance, that it was Kaylee. He shook his head to clear the lingering remnants of memory and moved forward to assess the woman’s condition. She was not Kaylee and he needed to stop seeing her in the faces of every injured woman that came into the ER.


Buildings both ancient and beautiful towered into the sky, visible for miles even in the darkness. Tight, impenetrable security surrounded them, encouraging the rumors of the awesome power that governed from within. Everyone knew this was the seat of Alliance power on Shinon. No one but those with official business, or those who had been invited, even approached the place.

Until tonight.

A slim shadow crept along an outer wall. Its inquisitive eyes darted forward, to the side, covering all angles of its approach. There were many compounds to infiltrate before it would reach its target. It moved steadily forward, then paused, tilted, and bent almost inhumanly before disappearing into the darkness.

It moved unhindered through passageways long forgotten. Shadows came and went, blown in whatever direction the wind carried them. And this one was carried far and fast. So far below the building, defensive measures had been neglected. No one had access to construction plans. No one could infiltrate such a structure.

Overconfidence was just one weakness to be exploited within the juggernaut that was the Alliance of Allied Worlds.

Once inside, the shadow moved swiftly through unmarked hallways. It moved with purpose, direction. It was no stray leaf, floating on an errant breeze. It had a mission, a purpose. The mind pushed away all outside thought – except the memories of what they’d made her. They were too strong, overpowering.

The shadow came to a stop outside a large ornate wooden door. It could slip in undetected, slit the throat of the man sitting unawares inside – it was, after all, trained by the best – but it had other plans. It would complete the assigned task in its own time, until then, it wanted to play a game.

The man would remember this game. He played it often. He was the one who’d taught the shadow how to play.

The shadow slipped into the room undetected and stood inside the closed door, waiting . . . The man could sense he was being watched, but, spoiled in his sense of security and haughty in his position, did not deign to look up,

The man sat hunched over a desk, scanning mission reports, reading from the safety of his office just how many soldiers had died on the battlefield today.

River glided toward him on silent feet.

He didn’t lift his eyes until he could feel her breath on his cheek.

“You.” His Academy’s most prized student had come home.

The man’s eyes widened and out of some inborn instinct for survival reached futilely for the button that would call security to his aid, but a slim hand darted out and slapped it away. She leveled him with a stare that pinned him in place. They’d taught her well. They’d taught her how to stalk her prey but not pounce before it was time.

“Tell me your secrets,” she whispered. She pushed with her mind, already knowing he would say nothing with his lips.

“How did you –“

River raised an eyebrow. “I am a leaf on the wind. I blow where the current carries me.”

River could feel his confusion. Surely he had seen what the experiments had done to the other children.

A smile spread across the man’s face and he clasped his hands together. “We thought you were dead. It’s so good to have you –“

“Would be dead if Simon hadn’t come for me.” River’s eyes narrowed only a fraction. “You would have failed. No mind can take such strain. I’m already crazy.” She stood and squared her shoulders. “Better to be crazy than dead.”

The man swallowed thickly. “We can help –“

“You do not seek to help the gifted. You seek to exploit them.”

The man slowly rested his sweaty palms on the wooden desk. “What do you want?”


“I won’t tell you anything,” the man said stubbornly.

She narrowed her eyes and barreled through his mental defenses.

The man screamed when he realized what she was about to do but River simply smiled.

“You won’t have to.”

TBC ------- The one chapter I haven't yet located the feedback on. ------------



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Simon and Kaylee discuss other - avenues, as they lay in bed. Oddly, this is a pretty PG story.

Simon and kaylee disturb the ship with their nocturnal activities. Post BDM. Part of a challenge table. Rated NC-17 for adult content.

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