Shan Yu! I Bite My Thumb At You - Part Two
Thursday, December 13, 2007

Slavers attack Hannover and one of Serenity’s crew has first-hand knowledge of their ship, which might mean it can be stopped before it breaks atmo. 17th fanfic featuring post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Grateful thanks to BlueEyedBrigadier for the beta. Having feedback is like charging my battery, please comment. Part 2 of 2.


There were too many ships and not enough armed Deutschlanders to prevent them. Zoe and Mal, positioned behind the mule for cover, shot to kill. River had been right, they were not Reavers, but they were trying to take people. “Slavers!” Zoe shouted over the noise. They both turned as screams sounded behind them, some of the children were being herded up the ramp of one of the shuttle. Zoe stood up and broke cover, still firing, so did Mal. Two of the children among the group were Ishmael and Lukas. Before they could reach them, they saw River seemingly fly through the air to land a kick on one of the slavers, before twisting another man’s neck, breaking it quickly and efficiently. Mal fired at the next man aiming his gun at her, but a fraction too late, so a bullet caught her in the shoulder, flinging her to the ground. Mal turned as he saw one of the shuttles take off again, full of people. Mal ran to River, but she was already sitting up and holding her shoulder. Her eyes widened as he crouched down to help her. “I’m alright. You need to find the main ship. Bane’s in trouble. Go!” she added at the end. Mal looked around. Zoe fired at another slaver, right between the eyes, before running up the ramp to take out the pilot and any others. “Zoe!” he shouted, “Don’t shoot the pilot!” Mal then shouted to Hans, who was already running towards them. “My son iz safe?” Mal pointed to where the children had been herded. “Yes. We need to find where they’ve taken the others.” Hans nodded and called out to his mother who was tending to his injured father. Without hesitating, she threw him his gun. ~ Bane watched the huge behemoth come down to land and approached from the blind side, fully aware of how much notice they would take of a tiny lone person on a mule. It would not be hard to get on board, but it would be hard to get to the engine room undetected. Bane did not intend to allow this gé zhi wō ship to take off ever again, even if she could not escape afterwards. All other thoughts about letting someone else know where she was, going to the back of her mind. She loaded herself up with all the mule had to offer; her tools, explosives and two guns, and snuck aboard after the cargo ramp was clear of people. She heaved at the all too familiar and horrible smell of unwashed bodies, just managing not to be sick. When she lived on board this ship, she had taken some notice of its workings, and now she tried to scout out where the engine room was. She kept to the shadows, but there were not many people around, most of them being in the shuttles off collecting more people. This was when the Mamma was at its most vulnerable. Bane rubbed her eye, only realising then that it could mean she might have a blackout. Her belly contracted with fear, she had to find the engine room fast and almost missed the big white sign pointing her in the right direction. The noise from the engines were deafening. There were four huge turbines, like Serenity’s single one, powering the ship, and they had not been shut down. It would probably would take them two hours to power up if they had, which did not bode well for quick getaways. She could see at least four people in there, their ears covered with protectors. Bane threw a mini-EMP to the first turbine and then ran swiftly to hide behind part of some other machinery. All four, no five, people came running to check out the reason it was de-powering. Bane moved from her hiding place and took out the putty from her tool belt. She split it into three and wired them up, finding she was frustratingly slow with her vision impaired. She came out from her hiding place and got two stuck in place on each turbine. For the third she added a box full of industrial tacks used for the fencing. Bane moved back behind her hiding place and set the timers, allowing herself enough time to get out. She set it for ten minutes. The first shuttle had arrived back into the cargo bay and was off-loading as she was about to step out to escape. Bane had to quickly climb some stairs and run along to find another way out, in case she was seen. In the stairwell she surprised one of the crew and, knife already in her hand, cut his throat before he could cry out. There was nowhere to hide the body, so she left him bleeding to death where he lay. On the covered balcony, she heard someone coming up the steps she was heading towards, and she had no option but to find a door to slip through. It was the wrong door. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light with some difficulty, she got an eyeful of a man raping a woman, who was pregnant. He was so intent on himself and what he was doing, he had not even heard the door open and close. Bane flinched as he started talking, thinking he had discovered there was someone else in the room. He was informing the woman that she was not to go anywhere – he seemed to find it amusing, because she was already restrained – he was just going out for refreshments. It was then she recognised his voice. It was former Alliance Colonel James Dedham, the man who she had supposedly helped put in prison. Bane had a gun in her hand, even before she thought about it. She cocked it real slow and it echoed loud enough for the noise to be heard by him. Dedham lifted his head from buttoning his trousers, but Bane was still in shadow and he could not see who it was. He was no stranger to the sound of weapons. “If that’s you again, Lacey, you can wait your turn. Or find another – there’ll be plenty of fresh meat to choose from soon. This one’s mine.” Bane watched him place a protective, caring hand over the woman’s distended belly, making her feel sick again. She was moving very little, looking to be unconscious, but she was breathing. Bane took a breath and walked into the light, determined and shaky. The colour drained from Dedham’s face, as he recognised who it was and what a vulnerable position he was in. Thinking fast as always, he started to smile and edged off the bed to stand up. “Well, well – Deena Court – or should I say Bane Pye. The legendary escape artist. This is a fortuitous meeting.” Bane could feel her hands shaking and a bit of sweat dripped into her eye, stinging. Dedham looked down at the woman on the bed and smiled again, knowing how he would work his advantage. “This ship’s not going anywhere, Dedham, and neither are you.” Dedham laughed at some joke of his own and took a few steps towards her. It was as if he had not heard her. “You know you’re a legend on the Mamma as well? When we clapped eyes on this one,” he nodded to the woman on the bed. “All the stories came out. Course they called you Deena Li, but I knew it was you. Eight escape attempts, including almost blowing up the entire ship. Until they took you to The Farm. And you ended up with Adelai Niska? That’s an even more impressive resume than your brief bomb-making career. I can see why you were no longer afraid of me on the Malaga. Tell me, are you afraid now?” Bane turned again to the naked woman on the bed and edged forward to try and see her. Dedham knew what she was after and he took a few more steps forward to prevent her. Finally Bane asked, just like he wanted her to. “Who is she?” her entire body felt like she was freezing slowly from the feet up. Dedham grinned nastily. “Had to get me some more Pye, and I found this one waiting right here for me when I came on board.” Bane moved closer. The woman on the bed looked to be a couple of months away from full term. She kept Dedham in her sights and moved alongside the bed, the woman’s face coming into view. “She’s not as tough as you though – kinda takes some of the fun out of it.” “Corren,” she whispered in horror. It was Corren Pye, her cousin, or someone who could have been her once upon a time. Her face was swollen with bruises and her wrists were bleeding from pulling at the restrains. The ship rocked with a large explosion, Dedham lunged without hesitation, and Bane’s gun went off as he bowled her to the floor. The shot missed and the gun flew from her hand, bouncing off the wall and back towards them. Bane reached for it as Dedham’s face took on its familiar insanity, one of his hands coming around her throat, and the other also going for the gun. Bane kicked and squirmed for her life, but she was finding it difficult to breathe, as well as see. Dedham grasped the end of the gun, flipped it and then trained it on her face grinning madly. Bane stopped struggling. “I’ve always wanted a threesome,” he said, grinding his hips into hers on the floor. “Think of it – me, sandwiched between two hot pieces of pofu Pye.” He prodded one of her breasts viciously with the gun, then waited for her to speak, convinced she would have something to say to get him aroused further. Bane, who had been scared and sickened nearly to disgracing herself, finally grimaced at him chillingly. “How about a foursome?” she suggested. After a couple of beats, Dedham took in her full meaning and turned his head ever so slowly, like it was on a spit. “How about just a Washburne and Dedham mixed salad?” said Karl, kicking him in the face. Dedham sprawled over the top of Bane, allowing her to recover and move to the bed. Before he had enough sense to go for the gun again, Karl had grabbed him by the ears and lifted him away from the two women. Bane picked up the gun and stuffed it back into her pants. She did not even look around as she heard a crunch of bone and Dedham’s high pitched scream. She untied Corren’s hands and picked up the discarded dress. She barely seemed conscious and there was no way she could take her out on her own, she would have to be carried. “Corren!” she tried, shaking her shoulder gently. “It’s Bane. I’m here. You’re safe.” Corren did not even stir. Karl looked down in contempt at the snivelling heap of go se in front of him and shot him in the leg. With a broken arm and a leg wound, he was not likely to try anything in a hurry. There were shouts and screams coming from outside the room, as well as gunfire. “How did you find me?” Bane asked shakily. Karl looked up from his business. “Had some trouble, but then I found your bloody footprints – I’d recognise those boots anywhere. I got on the com, but the others were already on their way.” “She needs to be carried, Karl,” Bane said. “She’ll be fine now, he’s not gonna do anything else to anyone.” Bane looked at him pleadingly. “It’s my cousin, Corren, I can’t leave her.” Karl walked close enough to the bed to see for himself. “Wu de tyen ah,” he exclaimed. He would not have recognised her, if Bane had not assured him it was so. He turned back to Dedham and picked him up by the hair. “You are one sick bastard, an’ I’m gonna make sure the Alliance throws away the key this time.” Dedham, very close to passing out from pain, allowed himself a sickly smirk. “Who do you think got me this job, shee-niou?” and Karl smashed his fist into the man’s face, letting go at the same time with the other hand. He used the same ropes that Dedham had used to tie up Corren, to bind his hands and feet and then he went over and picked her up, baulking a little at her weight. The door burst open as they were about to leave. It was Hans, Mal and Zoe and other Deutschlanders. “Karl!” Hans said, and they lowered their weapons. Bane explained in German quickly about what Dedham had said, and that the ship was likely filled with human slaves. “Show me,” Hans ordered. Bane looked back at Karl, wanting to stay with Corren. “It’s all right. I’ll make sure she’s safe,” he assured her. The very last thing Bane wanted to be doing was exploring the ship she had once been a prisoner on, but she went with Hans and the others. “Liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze fuh ur-tze! Is that Dedham?” asked Mal. Karl adjusted his burden and spat the bile from his mouth. It landed on Dedham’s arm. “And this is Bane’s cousin, Corren. Seems Dedham was tryin’ to relive old times.” Zoe picked up his feet with distaste and Mal took the other end. Karl took the unconscious Corren out of the rat stinking hovel that someone had dared call a ship. Likely she would need familiar faces around her when she woke up, and the last thing she probably wanted to be seeing was a man. He blinked at the bright sunlight as he walked down the ramp, before heading in one of the ship’s mules to Jayne and Esper’s place. ~ * ~ It took hours to search the ship and Hans and the others, now joined by Mal and Zoe, had rounded up all the crew, who were now being held in one of the rooms where they had previously kept others imprisoned. With the engine blown to hell they could easily use the ship as a jail. The harder part was what to do with all the human cargo they had been trafficking. There were over two hundred people, mainly women, and children of both sexes, all scared and all traumatised. To Bane the noise of their wailing and terror brought back stifling memories of her own and she longed to go outside again. Hans would not let her go until he had been over every inch of the ship to make sure there were no others locked away. Another door lock was released and they entered the room. Bane had been in this room before and she reeled backwards at the smell, not wanting to go in, but there were others pushing her in from the back. It was The Farm, the place where they bred the babies to sell on the Black Market. In front of Serenity’s crew and the Deutschlanders were two long rows of beds filled with restrained women in various stages of pregnancy. There were a number of horrified expletives uttered. Bane bolted from the room, fell on her hands and knees, and threw up outside the door. Zoe joined her. “Come on, Bane. You have to help.” Bane shook her head. “I’m not going in there again.” “I know it ain’t pretty, but the sooner we clear them out, the sooner we all get off this piece of go se and back home.” Bane got up and started walking away. “No, Zoe, I ain’t goin’ back in there, ever – I’m gonna see to my cousin. You’ll probably find an empty bed in there that she was chained to.” Zoe looked at her keenly, knowing that Bane was not one to shy away from the job. “You were in there too, weren’t you?” she asked, already realising from Bane’s terrified expression what the answer was. Bane was already running away down all the hundred of stairs and corridors, wanting desperately to get outside again and breath fresh air. She reached the outdoors and took a lung full of air and then threw up again. The darkness was coming to her vision. It was no quick blackout this time, but a gentle fading of view. If this was going to be the last time she would see, then there was no way she would allow her last sight in the ‘Verse to be that room. She had to see Karl. Bane ran and jumped on board the mule that she had used before, racing as fast as it would take her back home, through the gap in the fence. She was nearly there when the mule hit a rock and overturned throwing her from the seat. Leaving the engine turning over, she picked herself up shakily and ran towards the half-constructed buildings that made up their haven, praying that was where Karl would be. It was like trying to reach the end of a black tunnel before the doors closed locking her in forever. She went Jayne and Esper’s house, hitting her shoulder painfully on one of the building supports, and flung open the door without knocking. He was sitting in a chair in front of the fireplace with Jayne sitting opposite him taking a stiff drink. Karl started to rise at the sight of Bane, breathing heavily, blood spattered and looking wildly terrified. She held out her hands to stop him. “No stay there,” she ordered. “I want to remember this,” she said, walking closer as the darkness closed in further. She took in them both in their favourite chairs, drinking as always, and moved to kneel in front of Karl. Jayne, although he had never seen Bane look so scared, stayed where he was, flicking his glance once at Esper, who had come in the room. Bane reached up and caressed Karl’s moustache like she had done many times, only this time would probably be the last time she would see it. She squinted in the hope of holding it off. “Kiss me,” she whispered, tears running down her cheeks. “Bane, what’s go-“ he started. “Just kiss me, my gorgeous Viking,” she said. Karl leaned down smiling and Bane had to consciously fight to keep her eyes open, instead of instinctively closing them as usual. His blue eyes fixed with hers one last time as the blackness took over and she felt his lips on hers. She moved her hands from his thighs to around his neck, and now closed her eyes, for there was no reason to keep them open anymore. Esper had moved silently over to Jayne, put her hand on his shoulder and they both looked on, worried. When they broke apart, Bane snuggled into his neck and Karl stood up, picking her up in one swift motion. Jayne opened his mouth to say something and Karl shook his head. He took her outside into the bright sunshine, walking away from the houses. “That’s it then,” she said, as he eased her to the ground and then sat beside her. “I’m grounded now. No more space travel.” “You can still go into the Black,” said Karl, looking at her intently. Her face was in direct sunlight and she was not even squinting, just staring blankly, her dark eyes luminous with tears. She seemed no different, looking like she would get up and dash off any second to do the next task on the list of hundreds racing through her head. Only now she would not be able to find her way; the whirlwind was stilled. Karl felt his nose grow hot and tears burn his eyes. Bane reached out her hand for his face and got his shoulder. Her hand travelled upwards to find his face and she ran her thumb familiarly along the line of his moustache and across his cheek. As she brushed away his tear she felt one on her own cheek. “At least you won’t have to worry about me running off anymore,” she joked. Karl grasped her to him, a sob escaping from deep within his chest. He stroked her head like he would give a child for comfort, but it was more for himself than Bane. When he had taken enough deep breaths to compose himself, Bane kissed him again softly. “I’m sorry for what I said earlier, I know you were only thinking of my well being an’ I was ungrateful.” “And stubborn,” he added. Bane laughed quietly, the months of tension and stress of worrying when the blindness was going to take her, was now over. Only now could she give distinction between the brownish blackouts she had and this complete black she was seeing now; like space without stars. “And stubborn,” she conceded, smiling lovingly at him, or just over his shoulder, Karl noticed. “Tell me about that ship, Bane. How did you know about it?” he asked, watching her expression darken with fear and loathing. She shook her head and Karl took her hand, squeezing it for reassurance. “Whatever it is, you need to get it out. Tell me.” Bane felt the tears form again and she let them fall. “It was where Niska bought me. I don’t really know how long I was on there, but I tried to escape too many times from the brothel on Ariel, and the owner just handed me over to them, when he bought his next shipment of girls. After my first couple of escape attempts on the Mamma, they told me that I would be no good to sell on to any other brothel, as I would just do the same thing – it was not good for business. They put me to work on the ship; cooking, cleaning, a quick gang rape in the corridor, basically servicing the crew. Over many months, I got hold of some tools and constructed a bomb. I fully intended to blow us all into the Black, and nearly did, but unfortunately it was discovered. For my punishment they put me in The Farm. That’s why I had to come back to you, I couldn’t let my last sight be of that place,” she looked towards him, her eyes spilling over with tears and anguish. Karl really did not want to ask, but knew he must. “What’s The Farm?” he whispered, chest tightening. Bane faced the warmth of the sun, bringing her knees up to her chin, wanting to be far away, instead of reliving the past. “It’s the place where they grow babies to sell, only the real cheap way. Rows of women chained to beds moaning in sadness, with nowhere to escape to. They stopped my shots and nature took it’s course. There was no escape an’ I tried so hard.” Her voice caught in her throat. “In the end all I could do was watch my belly grow, like all the other women around me.” “Tian shi,” Karl whispered in anguish, trying not to picture Bane in the same position as they had found her cousin. He failed, and had to swallow the bile that rose again in his mouth. “My ancestors believe that a child is the sacred vessel to which you pass all your knowledge, love and understanding. By not protectin’ that vessel you are damned to Hell.” Bane wiped her running nose on her arm. “The child in my belly was little more than coin an’ I would not let them have it. When the so-called doctor came to give me vitamin injections, I managed to get one of the other girls to distract him an’ I swiped a scalpel.” She felt Karl’s hand tighten in hers. Bane tilted her head. “Do you see that scar on my neck?” “Y-yes,” Karl answered, but he had not noticed it before. “I was trying to work myself free, but the scalpel slipped and cut into the vein. They thought I was trying to kill myself an’ other the women in the room kicked up such a noise, that they found me before I could get away.” Karl was already wishing that he had not asked Bane the question in the first place, but he could see it was important for her to tell someone. “They patched me up, but only because I still had a month to go, and they wanted to save the child, their commodity. The stress must have bought on labour, and when the baby was born just hours later, it was dead. I don’t remember it because apparently I almost bled to death – I still don’t know why they bothered to save me.” “What was the child?” Bane shrugged. “They dint trouble themselves to tell me, and they were not inclined to put me back in there to try again, on account of how I had practically caused the whole Farm to give birth prematurely. That’s when I gave up and stopped talking. It did not matter what they did anymore, an’ I thought it couldn’t get any worse. So when some of us were lined up in the cargo bay, as we had been many times before, I dint look down at the floor, I looked up an’ into the eyes of Niska. He saw my defiance and wanted the challenge of breaking me. My Little Canvas, he used to call me as he carved me up, talking incessantly, but I never spoke a word or cried out, despite the pain. He never touched me any other way, although occasionally he would let one of his men have their pleasure if they’d been good.” “Shan Yu met his match,” stated Karl. “Shan Yu? I remember him sayin’ that a lot. What is it?” “Mal told me about Niska’s hero, Shan Yu, the dictator. Long and short of it was that Shan Yu believed you could live with a man for forty years an’ never know him, but tie him up and hold him over a volcano, and then you would meet the real him.” Bane grimaced at the apt description of Niska’s methods and gave a long sigh. “Niska never got that far, Dedham beat him to it. That night on Osiris when he shot my mother …” Bane shook her head, not wanting to articulate further. “… he did things, and I begged for him to kill me. I was only twenty-one. Age and time gave me the strength to endure Niska,” she stated quietly. Dedham was her Shan Yu, but Niska had pretensions to the throne. That night, a lifetime ago, was her volcano – anything after that was just surviving. Torturing her with knives and psychological tricks, Niska had come close. Any longer with him and she might have begged him to put her out of her misery too, but in the end it had been easier to just stay silent and go to far away places in her head. “You came back though,” Karl said, breaking her thoughts. Bane smiled, and tried to wade out of the melancholy that she had created. The dark memories of the past were hard to erase, especially as she could not look at anything but blackness to try and distract herself. “When my brother found me I dint speak for near two months. In my nightmares I thought that is was just another one of Niska’s tricks to make me talk.” “It’s over now,” said Karl. “Yes, it’s over now,” she repeated patting his hand, meaning more than just her past. She felt Karl’s hand touch her face and she tilted against it. “I’ve never noticed your freckles before,” he said, trying to make his voice sound lighter. Bane wrinkled her nose, she hated her freckles, which only appeared when working hours in the sun like today. Karl smiled at her silly face. “Well I think they’re cute,” he stated, kissing her on the nose. Bane smiled back and stood up. “We better go back. I want to see Corren, an’ I reckon I’ve some explainin’ to do,” she said. They walked back into Esper and Jayne’s house hand in hand. “Are you going to tell us what’s going on now?” Jayne asked seriously. Bane looked towards the sound of his voice. “You remember that time the Alliance arrested me an’ I almost died?” Jayne nodded and waited for her to continue. “Well, do you?” she asked again. Jayne frowned. “Course I do. Fact you stopped breathin’ an’ Karl brought you back.” Bane’s hand tightened in Karl’s. “Whatever those Agents did, it damaged my eyes. I started having blackouts where I couldn’t see, an’ Simon said it would only get worse.” Bane heard Esper gasp as she caught on. “Today’s possibly the last day I got to see. It’s all gone dark now.” “You’re ruttin’ havin’ me on?” said Jayne angrily. Karl shook his head at him. “It’s true,” he confirmed. “But you don’t look no different.” Bane’s eyes filled up with tears again. “Nor do you. You’ll always look the same to me now.” “Wahg-ba dan duh biao-tze!” Jayne responded emphatically. By the vehemence in his voice Bane expected to hear the sound of breaking things, not be engulfed in a forceful bear hug by him. She could smell the scent of gun oil and a little horse manure, as well as the lingering smell of Esper on him. Karl smelt of leather and a kind of dark musky scent that was all his own. She would have to get used to this now, recognising people by their smell and sound. She broke away. “Can you take me to my cousin? She’s here, isn’t she?” “I had to fight Berta for her, but yes, she’s here,” explained Karl. Esper could tell that the two men needed time alone, they both looked like wrecks, so she took charge. “Come on, Bane,” she said, taking Bane’s hand gently. “I’ll take you. She hasn’t woken up yet, and it’s just as well. Simon’s still at the ship, an’ likely won’t be back for a while.” Esper kept talking and Bane let go of her hand and followed her voice instead. There were only a few rooms that Corren could be in, as the upstairs was not yet furnished. “There’s a chair this side of the bed you can sit on.” She bought Bane’s hand forward so that she could touch the edge of the bed. “I’ll bring you a drink.” “Thanks, Esper,” said Bane. She felt on the bed cover and found Corren’s hand as she heard the door close. By the fireplace, Jayne and Karl barely had time to sit down when there was a knock at the door. Esper, having just come back into the room, went to answer it. It was Mal. “Found the mule overturned out the back – is everythin’ alright?” he saw Karl and Jayne sitting comfortably as if everything was alright, only there was tension in all their faces. “Where’s Bane?” “Upstairs with her cousin, Corren. She ain’t woken up yet.” “That’s an expensive mule for her to just discard like that. She have a good reason?” “She can’t see no more, Mal,” blurted Jayne, before Karl could answer him. “Say again?” “It’s true. Simon told her it was going to happen at some point, no one knew when.” “You’re sayin’ she’s blind?” Mal asked again. Karl and Jayne nodded. Mal tried again. “She spends the morning alone at the fences, runs off and blows up the engine on a slave ship and saves the people of Hannover from bein’ taken prisoner or worse. Helps us search the entire shit heap for others they have on there, runs off again, back here, and you tell me she’s blind?” Karl and Jayne nodded again. “You’re all ruttin’ insane!” He paused, frowning. “How long?” “How long what?” asked Karl. Mal gave him a serious don’t-mess-with-me look. “How long have you known?” “Since the Quaker job,” said Karl quietly. Mal’s eyebrows raised. “You don’t think it was my right to know as Captain that Bane was likely to stop seeing at any moment?” Karl shrugged, only Bane could answer that one and he was still too raw from the day’s events. Mal was quiet as he thought about Bane’s behaviour in recent months - smoke and mirrors, just like the Quaker job. “That explains why she’s quadrupled her orders with Monty. ‘Spect she was trying to get as much done as possible before it happened. I can see why she would want to keep that quiet.” He paused as this new knowledge sunk in. “I guess that’s it then.” Karl sighed heavily, glad finally that it was all in the open. “That won’t stop her, Mal. The last three orders Monty’s had, she made blindfolded,” he said, downing the rest of the spirit. Jayne and Mal’s mouths opened simultaneously, and it was Jayne who spoke first. “She made all that stuff with her eyes closed?” he asked. Karl nodded. “And knows her way around Serenity as well. She was worried you’d kick her off, so she’s bin breakin’ her back tryin’ to learn how to do things without seein’.” “Please tell me she ain’t bin piloting my ship blind?” “No,” said Karl, not elaborating, mainly because he did not want to get River into trouble. “I still say you should have come and told me. She coulda put us all in danger.” ~ * ~ Bane snapped upright, having fallen asleep with her head on the bed. For a fleeting moment she thought it was night time and then she remembered everything. She had no way of knowing it was night time anymore, or daytime. She still held Corren’s hand which was limp, but warm. Something else had woken her and then she realised what it was. The smell of fresh blood. She let go of Corren’s hand and tried to find the door too quickly, smashing into the wall. “Esper!” she called. “Anyone!” She found the door knob and wrenched it open. She heard someone coming. “Something’s wrong, I smell blood.” It was Esper who rushed past her and she heard others following. “Wo de ma,” Bane heard Esper exclaim. Bane felt an arm go around her shoulders, knowing it was Karl. “What’s happened?” she asked. Esper turned to Jayne and Mal. “Get Simon now!” she ordered, and Jayne did not need a second asking. “Tell me what’s happened!” Bane asked louder, getting frustrated. “She’s bleeding. Too much,” Esper replied. Bane shook off Karl’s arm and headed back into the room, knocking her shoulder on the doorway and banging into the bed. Corren Pye was dead by the time Simon got there, never regaining consciousness and never knowing that she had been rescued. Bane stayed holding her hand and talking to her, while Simon and Esper prepared the body. It had been a long and unusual day for Simon, and there was still work to be done. On his way over to the Cobbs, Jayne had told him about Bane’s sight. He cursed then and there that she had not been to see him in months for a check-up, evading him each time he had asked and he had been too distracted with other things to pursue it. While he and Esper had worked, Karl had not left Bane’s side, his hand resting comfortably on one of her shoulders. “I want to look at your eyes, Bane,” he said, washing his hands. “No point, doc,” she replied. “You said it was inevitable, an’ there’s nothing that can change it.” Simon bit back a pointless retort about how she could might have been helped, if only they had been on a Core planet. But she was right, it was too late now. Bane decided not to mention that she had got a second opinion, as Simon would likely get offended. “Nevertheless, I’m still your doctor. Let’s go downstairs.” “What’s the time?” Bane asked. “’Bout nine o’clock at night,” answered Karl. “Sun’s settin’.” Karl steered Bane through the door and then held her hand. To Simon, he looked a little well practised at it. By the time they got into the main room, Simon was angrily giving them both a piece of his mind, which saved Mal the trouble of asking why Simon had not told him about Bane’s worsening condition. Esper ordered them all to calm down or she would turf them out, and they could shout all they want outside. It had been a long day for them all. “Better do as she says, she has big wooden spoons,” chuckled Jayne, easing the tension a little. Simon put his bag on the table and opened it, ordering Bane to sit down in the chair. As he held the ocular scope to her eyes, he could see that this would be no temporary blackout, Bane could not even tell that there was a bright light shining in her eyes, she just starred blankly past his head. Simon stood up again and packed his bag, longing to get back to Kaylee and see her happy shining face, to take away the memories of all he had seen today. Today he had seen how low a human being could stoop in order to make money. Bane insisted that she wanted to sleep in her bunk on Serenity and not at Jayne’s house, like Esper had offered them. Once on Serenity Bane knew her way around, having practised with a blindfold late at night, ever since the Quaker job. He let her lead the way towards the crew quarters before climbing down behind her. “How are you feeling?” he asked gently. “Like someone took out my plug and let all the water drain out,” she responded quickly, making Karl sniff with amusement. Bane went over to the sink and washed her face before brushing her teeth. “I have to let my brother know about Corren, and her family on Haven.” In the confines of this room, he could easily believe she could see. He stripped and got into bed. Bane got into bed as well, and before long it was clear that neither of them were particularly wanting to go to sleep. Bane moved suggestively against him like she always did, wrapping her legs around him and wanting to blot out the day’s events. Karl could have rode the whirlwind like he always did, but he remembered her uncle’s advice to him and stopped kissing her. “No, tian shi,” he whispered softly breaking apart, “No wild space monkey sex tonight.” Bane choked on the laughter that bubbled up, glad that she could find laughter again, after the day’s events. “Wild space monkey sex?” “That’s how it normally is,” he chuckled, looking down at her surprised face. “Not that I don’t like that – fact is I do, in spite of the bruises. But I want you to let me be your raft tonight.” Bane’s expression grew serious. All that she had been through had been stripped away today; she was shipwrecked, as Karl was suggesting. He knew everything now and he was asking her to trust him. She reached up to cup his face and then traced the line of his moustache with her thumb before bringing his head down to kiss her in ascent. Karl brushed his hand lightly over her breasts and down her torso making her arch against him. He bent to kiss her on the ear, then neck and lower, listening to the soft noises she made that he had never heard before. She was laid bare in the literal sense of the word. Afterwards Karl looked down on her sleeping form in the lamplight. She had cried at the end, the last of her pain flushed out as she submitted to him like she had no other. They were bound to each other now, whatever the future might bring. Her brow was free from frowns of anguish and her face was serene again, the tears under her closed eyes still glistening as she slept. Karl had cried too, it was not easy to see the raw of someone peeled away and not have it affect you. He wept to think of what kind of life Bane could have had if there had been no War. She would have followed the customs of her ancestors; sailed the Black, cooked and made babies. But then he would never have met her and he was certainly not going to let her get away, however much she might try and push him. He traced one finger across the sheet covering her belly. “I love you,” Karl whispered, and lay his head to sleep on the pillow beside her. * * * * * * * * * * * “How’s River?” asked Hans. He had spent the last whole day processing this nightmare that could have been a whole lot worse, if it had not been for Bane Pye disabling the ship. The other shuttles had been either disabled or captured and there were three deaths, one woman and two children. There were many more injuries, including his father, which was why he was overseeing it all. “She’ll heal. Bullet went straight through, just damaging tissue,” said Zoe. River was in her quarters on Serenity with Esper, while Simon was helping out the other doctors in Hannover. “How’s Lukas?” asked Mal. “Coping better zhan zee rest of uz, I sink,” he said, with a trace of amusement. “Sounds like Ishmael,” replied Mal. Both boys had thought it a briefly terrifying, but exciting adventure, and Mal was still fielding questions about his and Zoe’s shooting prowess. “Gut,” said Hans. “I came to varn you zat I haff to call zee Alliance on zis one. Zey’ll be here soon.” “Mal?” asked Bane, knowing he was there, but wanting to make sure she had his attention. “Dedham said that the Alliance hired him to work on that ship.” “You must have heard wrong,” she heard him say. “That ship is run by scum.” “It’s true,” said Karl, defensively. “I was there when he said it. He seemed very smug about it too.” “Why would the Alliance want to be part of the slave trafficking market?” asked Zoe. “Why would the government need to drill into a perfectly healthy brain?” put in Jayne, surprisingly insightful. “Forget platinum, the most lucrative commodity this ‘Verse has is people,” stated Bane, echoing her earlier thoughts. Hans, understanding the conversation, but needing to put his thoughts in his own language, spoke. Bane shook her head in response to his question. “What?” asked Zoe. “He wants me to stay and take all their statements, make sure it’s all recorded before they get here.” “Sounds like you’re the best person, you speak German better’an all of us,” reasoned Mal. “Not doin’ it, Cap’n,” said Bane reactively. Mal folded his arms. “How ‘bout I order you to do it?” “Sir,” started Zoe, but Bane had already resigned herself to the task, knowing he was right. She supposed she should get used to being planetside as well. “Okay, Cap’n, but let me go take a walk first.” She looked up to where she thought Karl might be, as his hand was on her shoulder. “Can you find Kaylee? It’ll be real nice to go take a walk down to the river with her.” Best thing before dealing with all that pain and anguish, was to talk to someone who always saw the brighter side of life. Kaylee was not far away and was burning with questions to ask Bane about her blindness. After they had gone, Mal had already seen the dark looks on Karl, Jayne and Zoe’s face. “There’s somethin’ else you ain’t tellin’ me or Hans.” “Bane was on that ship.” “I figured that, as she helped us search the place,” he reasoned, and Hans nodded. “She was in The Farm too,” explained Karl. Hans went white with shock. None of them wanted to ask the question about whether Bane had a child or not, their memories of that room were still vivid in their minds. Karl was not about to enlighten them either, figuring it was Bane’s story to tell, and having no bearing on the current events. Mal came to a decision. “If the Alliance is on it’s way, then we’ve gotta go. Reckon we can take any contraband goods with us to Persephone, in case any searches are done.” “Wouldn’t put it past them,” put in Jayne, before turning to Karl. “We’ll look after Bane while you’re gone.” “I’m not going! I’m stayin’ right here. I’ve a house to build for one.” “And a price on your head,” reminded Zoe. “I’ll arrange for zee guds to be brought out here tomorrow morning,” said Hans, nodding to Zoe. They both turned to leave. “Just one thing,” said Mal. “If the Alliance is involved with that slave ship, then they ain’t gonna be too happy if you find out how.” “I’ve haff already started to make duplicate records. I vill see you tomorrow morning.” Mal grunted, aware that there was not a lot any of them could do if the Alliance decided to bury it. All news, over time, becomes faded and unimportant, just like Miranda. “You’ll wave us when it’s safe to come back?” he asked Jayne. “You can count on it.” After Mal left, Jayne sat back down in front of the fireplace, almost longing for winter so he could finally have an excuse to light it. Karl sat opposite him in what had now become his chair, as Esper preferred to sit in the window seat Jayne had made for her, or on his lap, when they were alone. “I meant what I said, we’ll look after Bane.” “I know. Only she don’t always take too kindly too it.” “That what most of your problems bin about in the last few months?” Karl looked up, allowing himself a brief snort of amusement. “She’ll always be stubborn, but at least she can still do her trade an’ earn money for herself. I kinda wish I’d had another month or so to bring her round though.” “Bring her round?” “The night I was over here celebratin’ your impendin’ fatherhood, I went back an’ asked Bane to marry me.” “But you could barely string a sentence together!” exclaimed Jayne. Karl looked into the fireplace, his face grim. “Still, I did it, an’ she refused to answer. Yesterday mornin’ I went to sort it out an’ we argued again. I was still convinced I could talk her round later.” “You still could.” Karl shook his head. “I won’t be asking again.” “Why?” he asked, confused. “Because she’ll reckon that me wantin’ to marry a blind person makes no sense an’ refuse.” “You don’t want to marry her cuz she’s blind,” stated Jayne. “I know that – but that’s not how she’ll see it. You know how she is.” “Woman’s moonbrain,” he muttered. “So whatcha gonna do?” “Build my house an’ hope she’ll live in it with me.” Jayne leaned back in his chair. Gorram stubborn woman dint know what was good for her, he thought, glad that he had someone like Esper by his side. * * * * * * Mal had just finished sending a wave to Badger about an unplanned delivery of Deutschland goods. He wanted to lift off before midday to avoid any Alliance trouble. Mal turned at the noise of River bursting into the cockpit, and saw her face shining with new wisdom. He sat back in his chair and a warm smile spread across his face. “You’ve finally thought of one then?” he said, eyeing her bandaged shoulder. River pouted, not liking Mal sitting there all knowing, but then he was the Captain. She slipped past him and sat in her pilot’s chair, bringing her knees up and swinging around to face him. “I was gettin’ a bit worried that I’d set you too hard a task for that genius brain of yours.” River threw him a bratty look usually reserved for interfering big brothers. “I could’ve just chosen something easy like Serenity or Ning Jin De.” “That’s the Chinese for Serenity,” said Mal patiently, and River rolled her eyes in annoyance. “But you didn’t want something so obvious, I knew that.” “So, genius, what have you come up with?” River was not going to let him have it so easily, it had taken her a pile of weeks to come up with it and he could swing for a bit. Mal, although not a reader, knew exactly what River was like, and put his hands up behind his head. “I went through old Earth-That-Was history, different languages –“ “Including German, I should imagine.” “Especially German. You need a German teacher now, I’m your person. But I just could not find the right word or group of words.” “How did you come up with the right word?” Mal asked kindly. “Read your poem – the one with the albatross.” Mal chuckled. “It’s very long and confusing sometimes.” “Confusing for you?” queried Mal. “It’s about the sea, but not about the sea. It’s about a man who does penance for a wrong and wanders the earth telling his story.” “For the most part,” added Mal in a quieter voice. “There were too many layers,” frowned River, remembering. “I tried to make sense of it by looking up all the references, but in the end there was only one solution.” “What was that?” “To come home,” answered River, looking around the cockpit lovingly. She looked at Mal and smiled in response to his own. “This ship is home, but this place we’re building is our harbour.” She paused dramatically. “Gang Kou. We should call this place Gang Kou.” Mal closed his eyes and mulled the words over in his head. Gang Kou – Harbour. Yes, it fitted. “I think that’ll be shiny,” he replied, and looked across at River, but she had already dozed off to sleep, her task completed. * * * * * * * * No.18 - Reavers Return!


Thursday, December 13, 2007 11:06 PM


Please please post your thoughts as (good or bad) it inspires me to keep writing.
Synopsis on crew members Bane Pye & Karl Jacobsson:
Bane Pye: First contact with Serenity shortly after BDM when Mal contracts her for a heist (Hun Dan). Doesn’t get taken on as crew until the following year (Humped). Like Mal and Zoe she fought in the war but did sabotage work blowing up Alliance facilities with her mother. She can conjure up an alias as sure as breath. She can also conjure up a bomb in the same way.

Karl Jacobsson: Signed on to Serenity in November 2518, after Hun Dan. Skills: Gun-hand and muscle like Jayne. Criminal past like Jayne but also served time as well. You can imagine why they get on so well. Karl does think about the bigger picture more and after Ghosts in the Past, he has a major secret of his own revealed.

Friday, December 14, 2007 2:24 PM


Excellent work! And I'll admit it, I shed a tear or two when Bane's sight finally went. Beautifully done!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 7:27 AM


Oooh, it broke my heart the way Bane finally loses her sight, but makes it to Karl just in time.'s sorta over the top, but in a good way. You handled it just right, without making it too sappy.


Friday, February 29, 2008 5:17 AM


this too is one of my faves HR - and shows your versatility! top notch!:)


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