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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The Battle Rolls on, and friends and foes alike began to fall.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 881 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Archangel – Chapter Thirty-Eight
Author owns no rights to Firefly, and no copyright infringement is intended. Fanfic only.
Mal watched from the bridge as the star field in front of him changed. Faster than normal, but still too slow to suit.
“We’re at max power, sir,” the pilot said quietly, as if reading his thoughts. “All we can do, and still be sure of reaching the planet.”
“I know,” Mal replied just as softly. “Just thinkin’.”
“It was the right thing, sir,” the pilot offered. “We belong in battle.”
“No one belongs in battle,” Mal said at once, thinking on his own past.
“We do,” the pilot objected. “It’s all we’re good for, Captain. I know it’s hard to accept, for someone like you. But it’s true, nonetheless. None of us are capable of functioning well in open society. It’s just a fact.”
“Jayne does okay,” Mal pointed out.
“He is stronger than most of us,” the pilot told him. “And he was fortunate enough to find people who cared for him.” Mal flushed at that a bit, recalling his own ill treatment of the big merc, even after he’d done so much to change himself.
“Well, I ‘spect he’s different, sure enough.”
“How we doin’, Kaylee?” Zoe called.
“We’re fine, Zoe,” Kaylee replied. In the engine room, she patted her girl fondly.
“Hear me, Girl?” she whispered. “We’re fine.”
“We’re still a day or so out, even at this speed,” Zoe warned. “We make it?”
“Yep,” Kaylee assured her. “Could go a bit faster, but I know you want us to be able to get out again. Need to make sure we don’t hurt nothin’.”
“That’s fine,” Zoe assured her.
She did want to be able to get out again. If things fell apart, she wanted to be able to get Jayne and River, and as many others as they could, off the planet.
And they would.
Night had fallen on Osiris. Everyone was inside the barricade. The reavers killed in the day action had been pushed away from the fortifications with earth movers, creating a rather bloody and foul smelling revetment some two hundred yards distant. It would help slow the next attack.
“I’d give a pretty copper to know what’s happening over there,” Thomas brooded.
“It’s wrong, that’s all I know,” Jayne replied tiredly. “Reavers don’t never retreat, unless they decided to leave completely, which is usually after they’ve killed everything in sight.”
“I know,” Thomas nodded. “But these aren’t your garden variety reavers, Michael. And they are being controlled, somehow. I fear tomorrow, should they wait that long, will be interesting. In the Chinese sense, mind you,” he added with an amused snort.
“Like as not,” Jayne nodded. “We’re gonna go a rest, and clean up, some,” he told Thomas. “The men who weren’t in the fighting today will be on the ground, sleeping outside, in case you need them.”
“We had seven injured, and three killed, sir,” Jayne added. “Two of the injured are serious, they tell me. The rest can still fight, but I’ll be placing them in the reserve tomorrow.”
“Very well,” Thomas nodded. “There were some injuries among the Acolytes as well, but we were very fortunate.”
“It was a good plan, Brother Thomas,” Jayne pointed out. “Mal says a man makes his own luck.”
“Sounds like sage wisdom,” Thomas agreed. “We’re relaying the mines. And mining the flank approaches as well. I don’t expect a purely frontal assault tomorrow.”
“May not be,” Jayne agreed. “Have to deal, when we see.”
“Get some rest, Michael,” Thomas ordered. “You have done well, my Son. Book would be proud. Your mother would, too.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jayne said quietly, after a few seconds. He turned then, and gathered a weary, almost sleeping River into his arms.
“Jayne? Are they coming?” she stirred, hands reaching for swords that weren’t there.
“No, mei mei,” Jayne soothed softly. “Not right now. Time for us to rest some. We’re going back to the room.”
“Okay,” she murmured, and collapsed again, snuggling closer to him.
You’re going to survive, River, Jayne promised himself. No matter what else happens, the Alliance won’t kill you on this planet, so long as I can help it.
The night wore on, and the reavers continued to scream, and chant, and the city began to burn in places. Thomas, awakened from a short nap at the new developments, took one look through the scopes, and turned to his aides.
“Began preparations for Option Seven. We have a few hours, at most. Make them count.”
“How long?” Mal asked, walking up on the bridge.
“Another four, five hours,” the pilot told him. “Be there at sun-up, or just after.”
“Good,” Mal nodded. “When we’re in range, we’ll start trying to contact Brother Thomas.”
“How much longer, Zoe?” Simon asked, as he and Jazz walked up onto the bridge.
“Another five hours or so,” Zoe shrugged. “I ain’t the pilot that River is, so I’m guessing. Looks like about that, though.”
“I’m prepared as I can be, not knowing what to expect,” Simon told her. “I’m going to try and rest, since I’ll probably be very busy once we arrive.”
“Good idea,” Zoe nodded. “Inara spelled me for a while, and now she’s sleeping. Kaylee’s nappin’ in the engine room. Once we get there, I’m sure we’ll all be busy.”
Their sleep was all too brief, it seemed. Jayne was instantly awake at the gentle knock on his door.
“Sir, it’s time,” the muffled voice told him.
“Thanks,” Jayne replied quietly. He heard the man walking away, and looked to where River was sleeping.
Leaving her to rest, Jayne went to the shower, running the water cold to help him wake. Once he was done, he dressed and returned to the room, finding River stirring.
“Time?” she asked, looking up at him.
“Not a holiday,” Jayne nodded, grinning. “Turn over, and let me get a look at your shoulder.” River complied, and Jayne carefully removed the bandage from her brand. It was red and angry, but looked to be healing nicely.
“Hurt?” he asked, bathing the wound and covering it with a waterproof bandage.
“Not so much,” River shrugged. “Pain is in the mind.” Jayne grinned at that. She might be small, but she tough.
“Not so tough,” River replied to his unspoken thought. “But trying.”
“You’re doing fine,” Jayne assured her, patting her back lightly. “Get cleaned up, and rest a bit. You’re on the reserve today, at least to start. Don’t argue,” he told her, when she started to. “I mean it. Be plenty of fightin’ today, ‘fore it’s over.”
“Yes, Jayne,” River nodded her head tiredly. She crawled out of bed, heading for the shower. Jayne watched her go, then donned his armor.
Interesting day ahead.
“Here they come,” Thomas breathed from his vantage point on the roof. The reavers were starting forward again, slower this time, he noted. More methodical.
“Man your posts!” he ordered over the radio net. Men scrambled to their places on the barricades. Archangels slipped through the openings, and into the street.
Jayne watched from the barricades. He would be part of the reserve today, at least for a bit. He had a feeling that something was going on, and he wanted to see it.
The reavers were advancing too slow, he decided. This wasn’t how reavers fought. He was about to mention this to Thomas when a huge explosion rocked the ground.
“Option Seven, Post A. Mission accomplished,” he heard. Looking to the west, he saw three tall buildings collapsing into the streets, and each other. He couldn’t see it from where he was, but hundreds of reavers that had been stealthily approaching the flanks of the small fortification had just been buried in the rubble.
Instantly the oncoming reavers in the streets howled, and charged. Jayne watched, wondering what else was in store for the day.
The revers plowed over their dead brethren, setting off dozens of boobytraps in the doing. Pained howls of rage emanated from the mass, but it kept moving. Once again, when they were within one hundred yards, dozens of mines erupted around them, and from withing, as some of the ‘overlooked’ reaver corpses hid the mines from view.
The mines were devastating, killing score upon score of the reavers. But again, they did not stop. Soon, they were within range, and the Acolytes opened fire.
And then the Archangels were again fighting.
Sir, we’re over the planet,” the pilot called. “You need to see this.” Mal hurried to the bridge, and gasped. There were dozens of ships in orbit around the planet. None of them looked friendly.
“We’re unable to contact the brethren,” the pilot told him. “All signals are being jammed.” Mal cursed in Mandarin at that. He should have known.
“Okay, here’s the plan,” he told Hayes and the pilot. “We’ll find a whole, and punch down to the surface. Once down there, we’ll follow the sound of the guns, so to speak, and find the others.”
“Then,” he added grimly, “we fight with them.”
Zoe gasped as she saw the ships in orbit around Osiris.
“Kill the burn, Kaylee!”, she ordered. “Quick!”
Serenity shuddered, and bucked once, then her speed dropped dramatically.
“Zoe, what’s. . . .” Inara, hurrying up onto the bridge, gasped in surprise.
“Are all of those reaver vessels?” she wondered aloud.
“Looks like it,” Zoe nodded.
“What are we going to do?” Inara asked.
“Find a hole, and get down there, somehow,” Zoe insisted.
“Can we?” Inara looked at her.
“We’re damn sure gonna find out,” Zoe muttered, and started navigating.
Jayne watched as the battle raged for an hour. Suddenly aware of a presence near him, he looked down to see River.
“Feeling a bit better?” he asked.
“Some,” River nodded. “Glad you didn’t fight without me,” she smiled.
“Can’t go into battle without my back covered,” he winked, and River flushed at the praise.
Jayne had never seen her as frail, or fragile. Unlike the others, he treated her like what she was. A weapon. An unwilling one, to be sure. But she was stronger than the others, especially Simon, gave her credit for.
Jayne wasn’t like that.
For a fleeting moment, she felt a keen spike of envy toward Kaylee. Where would she, River, find a man like Jayne? One that would be accepting of her, as she was?
Not that I’m likely to have to worry over that, she reminded herself. Not after today. We’ll all be dead.
“We’re gonna make it,” Jayne told her, and she felt the wave of confidence roll from him. “Stop worryin’.”
“Try to,” she smiled. “Just thinking about the future.”
“That’s good,” Jayne nodded, looking back to the battle. “Just do your thinkin’ now, and not on the line,” he added with a chuckle.
“Don’t worry,” she assured him. “Once the battle starts, my mind is clear. Brother Thomas helped me with that.”
“He’s a right wonder,” Jayne nodded. “And a good man. Almost good as Book.”
Which was the highest compliment in Jayne’s vocabulary, River knew. For a man, at least.
She fell silent, then, and watched the battle from Jayne’s side. Wondering how long it would be before the two of them had to face the onslaught of reavers again.
“We’re wearing them down,” an aide said quietly from Thomas’ side.
“Are we?” he turned to look at the man who had spoken. “For everyone we kill, another, or two others, seem to take their place. And why are they still fighting? Reavers would normally have gone by now, taking their trophies with them.”
“There’s a fight being offered, sir,” the aide replied. “They won’t leave a fight. Not for anything.”
“True,” Thomas nodded. Had they made a mistake, facing the reavers here?
No, he decided firmly. We have to face them somewhere, and end this threat. That was the plan. We have to stick to it, and hope that help comes.
And that our Ace succeeds in his mission, he added as a dark after thought. Whatever else happens, so long as he completes his mission, this will not have been for nothing. None of it.
Monty paced the bridge of the former Alliance cruiser Wendigo. He was anxious, to say the least. He hadn’t planned on this, but after thinking about Mal’s message, he acknowledged that the former sergeant was right.
This was their best chance to destroy the reavers, and win support from, of all places, a core planet.
“We shall be there in a few hours,” Gerald said quietly. “What are your plans?”
“Kill the reavers,” Monty shrugged helplessly. “Until we see what’s there, that’s all the planning we can do.”
“May I make a suggestion?” Book asked.
“Sure,” Monty nodded. “Take advice from near on anyone, at the moment.”
“The reavers are likely to have vessels in orbit,” Gerald pointed out. “I would suggest sending perhaps half the gunboats, and most of the ground forces, planet side. We should maintain enough forces on board to fight off possible boarders, but send the rest to relive the forces on the ground. The gunboats will give them air support, and serve as an escort for the shuttles.”
“We’ll have to send the transports ground side, we do that,” Monty told him.
“True, but we can punch a hole through the reavers to allow that. And then, we’ll fight their ships in orbit. We cannot allow any to escape, if we can prevent it.”
“What aren’t you telling me, Gerald?” Monty demanded suddenly. The other man looked at him closely, then nodded.
“This is a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of Alliance government,” he said softly. “There are others, like me, who saw the Miranda WAVE, and have left Alliance service. We are all dead men, mind you,” he smiled. “The Alliance will not stop until we are destroyed.”
“We decided, early on, that we would go down fighting. We were sworn in service to the Alliance. But that must include her people. And the Parliament has forgotten that.” He looked at Monty with eyes that were alight.
“We intend to remind them.”
Jayne frowned as the tempo of the battle seemed to shift. The press wasn’t weakening, as it had the day before, but it wasn’t gaining in intensity either. What was happening?
“Many have fallen,” River pointed out, having sense his unease.
“Not enough, though,” Jayne objected. “There’s something else at work, here, little bit. I just ain’t got the smarts to figure it out.”
“He does,” River told him, pointing the rooftop where Thomas was watching.
“True enough,” Jayne nodded. “I just hope he’s on the. . . .” He trailed off as he heard the sound of a ship approaching. He looked up, scanning the sky. It was late morning, and the sun was high already. The day was warm, though not hot.
“Captain Daddy has arrived!” River told him, pointing to the small ship that was heading toward them.
“Everyone, hold your fire on that ship!” Jayne ordered over the com. “It’s friendly!”
“Hope they can tell the sheep from the goats,” Mal murmured, as the pilot wove his way toward the small fortifications.
“They can,” the pilot assured him. “But I’m more concerned about. . . .”
Mal turned at the sound of whistling air, and swore as the pilot leaned forward. A round had cut through the screen, killing him instantly. Mal struggled into the co-pilot’s seat, trying to keep the pilot’s body off the helm, and gain control of the ship at the same time.
“Hayes!” Mal shouted. The big man was there in seconds.
“Take him!” Mal ordered, bringing his now free right hand to the helm.
“And tell everyone to grab hold o’ something!” he added as Hayes carried the pilot’s body aft. “This ain’t like to be pretty!”
Jayne watched in trepidation as the small ship fluttered, dipping dangerously. He let a breath go he wasn’t aware he’d been holding as the ship righted, and began to settle onto the ground, one street back.
“Go on,” he told River, seeing her excitement. She smiled, hugging him briefly, and ran to the ship.
“Hey, Albatross!” Mal smiled as River ran up to him. He was startled by the armor she wore, and she smiled.
“Like Jayne now,” she told him proudly. “Fight for those who cannot fight for themselves!” Mal saw the pride in her eyes, and felt it himself.
“I’m proud o’ ya, ‘Tross,” he told her, meaning it. River’s eyes grew wet, and she hugged him tightly.
“I’m glad to see you, even though it’s not a good place for you to be,” she told him.
“Well, we can’t leave, now,” Mal told her. “Ship took a round through the screen. We’re here for the duration, looks like. Where’s Jayne?”
“Come along,” she ordered, taking his hand. “I will take you to him.”
The armored Archangels had hurried forward, donning helmets similar to River’s, Mal noted. Jayne was already giving orders.
“I want you to go in teams of two, two teams to the street, and relieve the ones battling there. The troops on the barricade can tell you who is freshest. The others fought yesterday, and need rest. Go, and do not fear the Dark!”
Instantly the men were on the move. Mal walked up as they fled.
“Mal, not that I ain’t glad for the help,” Jayne extended his hand, “but are you feng le?”
“Pretty much,” Mal smiled. “We ain’t gonna just hide whilst you all fight, and die, Jayne,” Mal grew more serious. “And that ain’t open for argument, neither,” he added. Jayne smiled slightly, and nodded.
“Well, it’s a mess, but you’re welcome to join us.” Mal looked over the barricade, and whistled.
“That there’s a fair passel o’ reavers, Jayne,” he noted.
“Was a bunch more of ‘em,” Jayne told him. “This’d done be over, ‘cept me and River needed some rest,” he chuckled, and River looked pleased at that.
“She did good,” Jayne told Mal. Mal clapped River on the shoulder.
“Never doubted it,” he smiled, and River’s smiled widened.
“So it’s just wait and let them come to you?” Mal asked, turning back to business.
“So far,” Jayne nodded. “Too many for us to fight’em in the open. This was what Thomas came up with.”
“Looks like it’s workin’,” Mal observed.
“Okay, we’re ready!” Kaylee called. “Just give me a few seconds warning, ‘fore we start in.”
“Everyone else ready?” Zoe called. Inara was in the co-pilot’s chair, and nodded.
“We’re set, Zoe,” Simon answered.
“Okay, Kaylee, we’re goin’,” Zoe ordered.
The ship nosed over, and headed for Osiris.
“Keep trying Mal’s ship on the Cortex,” Zoe told Inara. “Might get through the jammin’, this close.” Inara nodded, and entered the call, placing it on auto. It would keep trying, now, until Mal answered, or she shut it off.
“And here we go.”
“Serenity approaches,” River said suddenly, looking to the sky.
“What?” Mal screeched, following her gaze. “I told Zoe for them to stay clear!”
“And Thomas told you the same,” River smirked. Mal had the grace to look abashed, and nodded.
“So he did,” he admitted.
Zoe’s approach was better than Mal’s. She had managed to guide the ship in on the back edge of the fighting, and avoided all but stray rounds that pinged harmlessly off the hull, spent.
“How we doin’, Kaylee?” Zoe called.
“We’re good!” the engineer called back. “Everything’s good!”
“There they are!” Inara pointed. “And that’s Mal’s ship!” she added, delighted despite the situation.
“Good,” Zoe nodded. “He can take over.” Her dead pan delivery took a moment to sink in, and then Inara giggled uncontrollably.
“We ain’t on the ground, yet,” Zoe shot her a mock glare.
“I’m sure we’ll be fine, Zoe,” Inara was confident. “We’d trust you with anything.” Zoe smiled at that, and nodded. She deftly maneuvered Serenity into the narrow, man made canyons, bringing her gently to the ground near Mal’s ship. Sighing in relief, Zoe went through the shut down, and called Kaylee.
“We’re down, mei mei.”
“Shuttin’ down!” Kaylee was excited. And scared.
For all she knew, Jayne was already dead.
No, no, no! Can’t think like that! Kaylee chided herself. Got to be positive!
She flew to the ramp, which Simon was already lowering. As it hit the ground, Mal, Jayne and River were all standing there. Mal spoke before anyone else could.
“Are you all insane?”
Tuesday, April 29, 2008 4:00 PM
Thursday, May 1, 2008 11:33 AM
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