Broken - Part X
Saturday, February 23, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The crew wait to find out if Hank's plan works, and Mal and the others ponder what to do next. Oh, and River's in labour. NEW CHAPTER


Jayne was dragging the bodies into one corner of the warehouse to keep them out from underfoot if there was another fight going to happen, and taking the opportunity to go through their pockets as he did so, while Mal and Zoe peered gingerly out of the door.

“How many you figure?” Mal asked, trying to see through the still driving rain.

“Can’t tell, sir. Possibly another four. Maybe five.”

“At least the odds are a bit better this time.”

“We could use the mule, make a break for it,” she suggested.

“They’d be able to pick us off too easy, and at least one of us would be likely to be hit.” He shook his head. “And I’m more than a trifle concerned about what he said about Serenity.”

“You think Freya can’t handle them, sir?”

“Frey’s hurt.”

She stared at him. “Badly?”

“I don’t know. She’s not talking.”

Now she could see the tight worry lines around his eyes. She knew them of old, when they were waiting for a patrol to come back from a recon during the war, when he could feel in his gut that something had gone wrong, that his men were lying in a ditch somewhere, bleeding their life into the mud. “She’ll be fine. You’d know otherwise, Mal,” she said softly.

His lips twitched at her use of his first name. “Always figured that.”

“How come no-one’s come to find out what the noise is?” Jayne asked, coming up behind them, unaware of the conversation.

“It’s a public holiday,” Zoe said, surprising them both. “Hank looked it up,” she explained. “And I'm guessing the rain’s keeping most folks inside. Unless they’re crazy.”

“You mean like us?” Mal smiled at her, then looked out of the door. A bullet thudded into the doorframe, throwing up wood chips. He ducked back, swearing, as he reached up to his cheek and dug out a large splinter. He could feel blood running freely down his skin and he pressed against the small wound. He looked at Zoe. “You know, I think someone just tried to kill me.”

“That’s unusual, sir,” she said, deadpan, earning a raised eyebrow from her captain.


“Well?” Simon called, standing by the cargo bay door. “Can I open up?”

Kaylee stood at the top of the catwalk. “Give him a minute, Simon,” she said. “He’s gotta reconnect the spikes and reset the safeties ‘fore anyone touches the hull.”

He didn’t ask why. He didn’t need to, as images of bodies caught in lightning strikes flashed across his mind.

“Do you have to be so graphic?” Freya asked, sitting on one of the crates, a rifle in her hands.


“You’re as bad as River,” she complained. “Projecting like that.”

“Was I?”

She half-smiled. “So maybe I was peeking. My walls don’t seem too good at the moment.” She shrugged then groaned as the action caught at her shoulder.

“You should be back in the infirmary,” he said. “I can’t guarantee you won’t tear the wound open, either, if you try to fire that thing.” He pointed to the rifle.

“Just taking precautions.”

“Can you even lift it?”

She considered. “Maybe not.” She smiled. “So I get to rest it on your shoulder.”

Another image, this time of Freya firing a gun directly next to his ear, made Simon turn pale, and Freya chuckled.

Hank appeared next to Kaylee. “Done,” he said.

“You sure?” Freya asked, getting to her feet and biting back another groan.

“We’re safe.”

She nodded and looked at Simon. “Open up.”


“So we’re not going with the walking away part, Prater?” Mal called through the door.

Prater sounded almost amused. “Seems not.”

“I don’t suppose a little bribery would help?”

“We got you outnumbered and outgunned. We’re gonna take what we came for. You’re just gonna have to live with that. Or not.”

“Outgunned?” Jayne was annoyed.

“He don’t know you,” Zoe said placatingly. “And he’s forgotten we’ve got the other weapons.” She nodded towards the bodies.

“Except we’ve only got the two hands each,” Mal pointed out.

“Knew I shoulda brought grenades,” the big man muttered. “Should always bring grenades.”

Prater shouted again. “Look, Reynolds, you ain't going anywhere, and I can wait as long as you like. But I'm getting wet, and I don’t appreciate that. So you’ve got ten minutes. You can make this quick, or we can come in after you. But you ain't gonna walk away from this.”

Mal sighed and glanced at his first mate. “I'm beginning to think your idea might be the only one.”

They turned to look at the hover mule.


“Well?” Hank asked.

Simon stepped back from the doorway, his face carefully impassive. “Toast.”

The sickly sweet stench of burned flesh filtered into the cargo bay before he could close the door.

Hank swallowed. “They were going to kill us,” he said. “If their aim had been a bit better before …”

“I know.” Simon took a deep breath and helped Freya to sit back down. “We need to get to the others.”

“It’s too far on foot,” she said, almost dropping the rifle before he took it out of her fingers and leaned it against one of the cages. She grimaced as a wave of low grade discomfort swept through her.

“Freya, look at me.” He lifted her head, gazing into her eyes as his hand automatically found her wrist, checking her pulse. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” she said, feeling it dissipate. “Nausea, mostly.”

“You’ve been shot. And if you’re sure you weren't hurt in any other way …”

“Getting shot was enough, Simon.” She managed to smile at him. “If you’re sure …” He didn’t sound convinced, but looked up at Hank on the catwalk. “Does the landlock mean we can’t disengage the shuttle?”

The pilot let a grin spread across his face. “I like how your mind works, doc. You’d make a decent criminal.”

“So it’s been said. I’ll get my bag.” He turned towards the common area but paused at the sight of his daughter in the doorway.

“Daddy, Auntie River needs you,” she said, a lifetime of seriousness in her young brown eyes.

He put two and two together. Freya feeling bad, River’s odd behaviour, her running from him … “Is it the baby?”

Bethie nodded. “She’s hiding.”

Simon sighed heavily. “That sister of mine’s going to make me go grey.”

“You have to stay,” Freya said, trying to stand up. “I’ll go with Hank.”

“And do what? Faint with extreme prejudice?” Simon reached out to her shoulder. “Damn it, Freya, you’re bleeding again.”

“Language,” she murmured automatically.

“I’ll go,” Kaylee offered, gazing at her husband. “You need to stay here with River, Frey’s hurt, and … well, there ain't no-one else.”

“You’re hurt too.” He put his doctory face on. “You’re not going anywhere.”

Freya smiled slightly. “I don't think any of us are.”

“What?” Simon lifted his head, and felt the shuttle disengage.

“I think Hank decided all by himself.”

“Then that solves that little problem, doesn’t it?” He looked at Freya. “Infirmary. Now.” He looked at Bethie. “Then you’d better take me to your Aunt River.”


“Mal, we gotta move,” Jayne said earnestly. “River’s … she needs me.”

Mal looked across at the big man, noting the sudden strain on his face. “Labour?”


“Well, you tell me how we get out of this and we’ll go.”

“If’n I had an idea, I would.”

For just a moment Mal considered all the options open to him, and came up more or less empty. Maybe it was time to do something stupid. “Okay. Jayne, unbolt the doors. Zoe, fire up the mule.”


“Serenity, this is Argus Port Control. You do not have permission to take off. Return to your ship immediately.” The face on the small screen looked rather angry.

“Not going far,” Hank said, turning the shuttle into the storm and feeling the winds buffeting her.

“That is irrelevant. It’s already been explained to you why you’re landlocked. Did you think we’d make an exception for a shuttle?”

“So we make a smaller splash.” Hank thrust his thumb down on the control to cut the man off, then looked at his reflection. “He seem annoyed to you?” Then he grinned. “Maybe craziness is catching,” he said to himself and set a course.


“Ready?” Zoe asked.

“No.” Mal smiled tightly from where he sat at the controls. “But since when did that ever stop us?”

“Think it’ll go smooth, sir?”

“Always a first time.” His gaze flickered to Jayne standing by the entrance. “Do it.”

The big man unlatched the big doors, leaping back as Mal gunned the hover mule’s engine, sending it roaring forwards.


“Here,” Bethie said, tugging Simon’s hand towards a door in the dining area.

He walked forward, touching the metal. “River?”

“Go away.” Her voice was pale, taut, and in pain.

“Let me in, River.”

“No-one here by that name.”

“River ...”

“No!” she yelled, the sound reverberating through Serenity.


“Where the diyu are you?” Hank muttered, eyes straining to see through the water sliding over the shuttle’s window. “Zoe, come on, tell me where you are.”

His hands were beginning to sweat as he gripped the steering yoke. Then ... “Yes!” he shouted, but his face tightened as he realised what he was looking at, and put the shuttle into a steep dive as the doors to the warehouse sprang open, and a hover mule barrelled out.

The downdraught from the shuttle’s thrusters pulled the rain into a maelstrom and caused the men waiting outside to duck.

Never one not to take advantage of a situation, Jayne ducked out into the storm, raising his gun and firing at the figures. Three were down before they knew what was happening, although one of the others managed to get some shots off, and he felt a sharp sting up his right forearm. From the corner of his eye he saw Zoe letting loose with her Mare’s Leg, and as the mule’s brakes kicked in and it slewed to a stop. Mal jumped from the driving seat and advanced on the men, but it was already all over.

“Don’t shoot!” said the last standing man, dropping his gun and putting his hands into the air.

“Jasper?” Mal asked.

“Oh, shit,” the man murmured, his face ashen.

Mal controlled the smile that wanted to show itself. “I seem to recall a conversation we had back on Bernadette, about us being mean desperadoes and you not wanting to cross us.”

“Yes, sir, I remember that too.”

“So why’d you not listen?”

“I ...” Jasper swallowed hard.

“So you wanna give me one good reason I don’t just shoot you now? Or maybe let him do it?” He nodded towards Jayne, who was advancing with determination written in large letters across his face.

“Um ... just following orders?” Jasper tried.

“Not sure that’s good enough. You got a brain, ain’t you?”

“Um ...”

Mal glared at him, then sighed. “Zoe,” he said.

She swung her gun at the man’s head, and for the second time in their short acquaintance Jasper found the world switching off as he pitched face first into the mud.

“Roll him over so he don’t drown,” Mal ordered, stepping over him.


“Prater still alive out here?” Mal called. There was a cough, and he headed in that direction. “You Prater?” he asked, standing over a man clutching his chest, blood turning the water around him pink.

“Yeah.” He coughed again, and grimaced with the pain. “You gonna kill me?” He managed to grind out.

“No. Not today. Seen too much death today. But I’m not calling help for you either, so I guess it’s in the lap of the gods whether you die here or not.”

“I won’t,” Prater promised. “And I’ll find you again, too.”

Mal shook his head. “See, that’s no way to talk to a man who’s showing you mercy. Just take it that it was a bad day, you lost, and be on your merry. It’s a hard enough ‘verse out there without looking for trouble.”

“Sullivan gypped me out of –“

“Then you take it up with Sully.” Mal wasn’t in the mood to argue. “It’s done.”

“Mal.” Jayne touched his arm and nodded to where Hank had brought the shuttle in to land a little way from them.

Mal nodded, and watched as the big man loped away. He turned back to Prater. “And don’t go thinking your little beacon’s gonna be working. It won’t.”

Cao ni niang,” Prater spat.

“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” Mal asked wonderingly, walking away from the bleeding man towards where Hank hung out of the shuttle’s hatch.

“Your timing’s perfect,” Mal called.

Hank grinned. “I aim to please.”


“Just a little wounded. Simon says she’ll be fine.”

Mal felt some of the tension unwind from his gut.

Zoe joined him. “Do you think that was a good idea, sir? Leaving him alive?”

Mal glanced over his shoulder. “Not killing a man when he’s down, Zoe.”

“No, sir.” She stopped. “I’ll drive the mule back.”

Mal smiled at her. “Thanks.”

“Come on!” Jayne yelled, pushing Hank to one side. “Got me a wife’s about to drop a baby!”

to be concluded


Saturday, February 23, 2008 3:24 AM


Well now, this chapter was certainly action-packed. And very well done, by the way! :D

Saturday, February 23, 2008 4:30 AM


Wondering whether we're going to see Prater and Jasper again. Even though mercy is the mark of a great man, a good plot device is revenge, best served cold. All your actions led to a great big culmination which you do so very well - kudos to you! Great story once again.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 4:58 AM


Action packed and full of complications. Prater and Jasper can exact revenge but there's still the matter of Sully. I know Mal's not going to be too happy with him either.

What about Bethy, Ethan, Hope and Jessie? I hope the are OK.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 6:21 AM


ARGHHHH! That's no place to leave off!

Great work, as always. I'm surprised that Jayne doesn't kill Prater, but, in his defense, he does have other things on his mind, lol.

Maybe once the baby gets here, River will be okay again. Well, as Okay as River can be. Come to think of it, though, that's not all that okay, is it?

Interesting to see what 'talents' the bambino has too, seeing as it's one half genius and the other half. . .not.

Really enjoying this arc, Jane!

Sunday, February 24, 2008 12:18 AM


Loved this, that was full of tense moments and nice to have Hank being all Heroic and giving our benighted friends the chance to turn the tables on Prater and his gang. I am hoping whatever wound Prater has will kill him nice and slow so he can contemplate all his errors in life, like being born. Leaving the man alive will prove to be a mistake I am sure because I can't see you leaving him alive for any other reason. As for River, I hope she will let Simon help her and not put the baby in more distress than necessary. At least Jayne will get back in time for the birth! And hooray, you didn't send a wounded Frey out to help Mal and co. Can't wait to see them all reunited! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]