Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Four
Monday, April 28, 2008

The excitement of piracy, the agony of waiting, and the anticipation of a completely stupid stunt!


The Stiles family had a long and distinguished career in piracy. It had been the family business, off and on, for nearly five decades, in between rounds of low-key smuggling (when real piracy was impractical) and one extended, purely unintentional grounding of their ship that had resulted in an unlikely farming enterprise. If they got really desperate, the Stiles sibs would even stoop to honest commercial hauling – but the margins were low, and piracy was in their nature. Their reputation was certainly helped by their boat, the Daydream. An old medium transport built to flit among the many moons of the Delta system over a century ago, the only reason the old Dragonfly caravel was still flying was still flying was because of the extensive modifications a series of brilliant mechanics had made on her. Tinker Stiles was the latest in a long line of them, but none had matched their ingenious grand-uncle Nikos, who had altered the solar mast and bank of panels in such a way as to render the ship virtually invisible to radar when deployed just so. And that’s just how the Daydream’s sails were deployed, as the ship snuck stealthily up on the Alliance gunboat. Only she wasn’t precisely the Daydream, at the moment. She was armed, and as such had become the ship’s alter ego. Daydream was now enhanced with an entire bank of weaponry deployed across a steel superstructure (complete with additional gunnery capsule, an auxiliary reactor, and a large, less-than-tasteful lurid mural of a stylized Jolly Roger). The addition made the caravel look a little more top-heavy and a hell of a lot more deadly. So deadly, and so different from its civilian configuration, that the Stiles Siblings had adopted the nomme d’guerre of Nightmare for their ship. Viktor and Tinker had been some of the most successful privateers under the Black Star during the war. Not only was their ship ideally suited for the task of lightening the load of fat Alliance transports, the family’s natural talent for the pirate’s art was profound. Often the Nightmare would return to an Independent port unscratched and stuffed with purloined goods or towing a prize ship back, while ships thrice its size and crew came back half-empty, and battle damaged. With their sister Sara at the stick, there weren’t three more skilled pirates in all the ‘verse. Of course, that was arguable. “That’s your rutting plan?” Sara asked, slackjawed in disbelief, half-turning around in the pilot seat to face her big brother and captain. “And you’re considered the best pirate in the ‘verse?” “It’s not a bad plan,” Viktor Stiles insisted, defensively. “I . . . well, we’ve done it before . . .” “And you’re still alive and able to breed,” Sara said, shaking her head. “There must be a God and she must be drunk.” “Hey, out of such as we, legends are made!” Viktor said. “Big steaming piles of legends,” snorted Sara. “Look, I can see getting close to them and taking them by surprise – that part works for me. But the fei hua about tagging them lightly and then sprinting away? Vik, you’re sloppy in the brainpan. We picked up about eighty tons of additional mass when we strapped the Nightmare module back on her back. We ain’t ‘sprinting’ nowhere.” “It will work,” Viktor insisted. “Trust me!” “If I had a credit for every time I heard that . . .” “Look, just get us within a few thousand clicks without them knowing,” he explained patiently. “Tink already has the big capacitors charged up, and they’re behind the shield. I’ll use the precision controls to aim just at the base of their communications array and fry their electronics.” “You mean the heavily armored comm array?” Sara asked. “Heavily armored in battle configuration,” corrected Viktor. “Right now they’re not looking for trouble, and they have their dainties out and exposed like Sister Twister’s cleavage on holiday. One tiny low-power shot in the right place, and they’ll be effectively silent.” “What about all of those codes and stuff,” Sara asked skeptically. “Won’t that mess up the plan?” “Not really,” Viktor said, examining the coded comm. board. “As soon as they activate our new cortex relay, the gunboat won’t suspect anything is amiss – they’ll just blame it on a comm. malfunction. Those happen all the time,” he reasoned. “Only we’re going to be raking a 10 gigawatt laser across their hull,” reminded Sara. “That’s bound to be novel.” “Ah, but they won’t know it’s a 10 gigawatt laser, my sweet sister,” Viktor pointed out. “Nothing around to bounce our flash off of, and the heat exhaust vents behind our cloak. They won’t even suspect until they suit up and send someone to look at the damage. Even then it will probably be inconclusive. Could be a micrometeor, mechanical failure, little green men, mutant space slugs . . .” “ ‘Mutant space slugs’?” Sara asked, her eyebrows raised. She shook her head. “No wonder you don’t have a girlfriend . . .” “Trust me! A quick jolt, we wait for them to come out and size it up, then we hit them with another jolt, then we skip off in a carefully-selected random direction and . . .” “. . . And?” Viktor exhaled. “And we play it by ear.” “That’s your plan?” “Piracy is an art, not a science,” Viktor said, smugly. “Improvisation is a part of the art. It’s not as simple or straight-forward as a bombing run, Sissy.” “Oh, no, it’s the enchanting, romantic enterprise of . . . stealing. Only this isn’t even a gorram commerce raiding mission, hu-un dan, it’s a gorram strike-and-fade harassment with no cover and no back-up!” “Sissy, I’ve thought this out,” Viktor began, sternly. “And quit calling me Sissy, gorram it! I’m not six any more!” she shot back crossly. “Look, you’re the captain – God alone knows why – and it’s your gorram plan. I accept that. I just think it’s a crock because I doubt your innate ‘genius’ because I’ve seen you screw up since you were a kid. Now go crawl into your little gunnery tube and I’ll let you know when we’re in position. Your sanctimony annoys me.” “I’m gonna tell Mom . . .” Viktor mumbled as he retreated from the cockpit. Sara sat back, frustrated. She enjoyed flying the family transport, of course – Daydream was a gem to fly, and if the additional weaponry made her sluggish, it also made her dangerous. But putting up with her brothers and their slap-dash, sloppy approach to things was testing the limits of her patience. She was far more fighter pilot than transport pilot, used to a definite set of mission objectives and carefully-thought-out flight plan. Improvisation was not her strong suit. An insistent beeping on her screen interrupted her thoughts, and she toggled her comm. “Vik, just got the signal: the dummy cortex relay is in place, tested, and green. You have the go-ahead to commence pain-in-the-ass operations. Which you’ve gotten a great start on, by the way.” “Thanks, Sissy. Tink, heat ‘er up!” “Don’t call me that!” “The chamber’s hot, Vik,” the sweet tenor of Tinker – or Valdemar, as their mother called him – said on the same circuit. She could imagine him staring down at the hole in the deck where the huge homemade lasing chamber was concealed, checking coolant gauges and such. “Burn at your discretion.” “All right,” Viktor said, the anticipation thick in his voice even through the electronic circuit. “Switching to precision controls now . . . keep her steady, Sara . . . okay, I got a visual on the section . . . looks like a standard military grade ansible array . . . got some other stuff around it, probably waste treatment module . . . I’m targeting the power coupling where it enters the hull . . . part of it is in shadow, but—” “Jesus, Vik, spare me the gorram commentary!” Sara shouted into the comm. “Can’t you fart without making it into a compelling narrative?” “It’s his sense of the dramatic,” Tinker pointed out. “He gets it from Dad. You remember the year he dressed his pressure suit up like Santa Claus, and—” “All right, enough chatter!” Viktor said, crossly. “You’re blowing my concentration. Okay, burn in five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . burn! . . . um . . . oops.” “Oops?” Tink asked, alarmed. “What’s ‘oops’?” “You remember that thing I thought was a waste treatment unit?” Viktor asked, hesitantly. “Yeah?” Sara watched in horror as the whole side of the Alliance gunboat erupted in purple flame. “It, um, wasn’t, exactly,” Viktor’s voice said with a sigh. “Looks more like a . . .” “He hit a ruttin’ fusion junction and blew the hell out of their hull, is what he’s trying to say!” Sara screamed as she goosed the engines up and prepared to engage the grav drive in a hurry. “He didn’t just bloody their gorram nose – did you at least hit the ansible – he kicked ‘em in the plums! Vik? Ai ya! Their moving to a battle configuration! Did you hit the rutting ansible or are we gonna have company? VIK?” “I . . . I’m reviewing the footage . . . good news – hit the ansible. Well, the plasma leak did, and that did the trick. The bad news is that the plasma flash was a hell of a lot stronger than the laser flash, and they’ll probably noticed the big hole in the sky where the stars used to be . . . right where we are. Commence ‘getting-the-hell-outta-here’ maneuver!” he said as he frantically began strapping himself into his gunnery chair. “Oh, give it a rest,” Sara complained as she brought the throttle up to full and pulled a tight turn away from the gunboat. “I’m running, I’m running. How about you figure out some gorram genius pirate gambit that will keep us from getting gorram nuked, Big Brother?” she demanded. “Or is that too much to ask?” “I’m . . . working on that,” Viktor assured her. “I’m good at improvisation, remember?” “With your aim, I can see why that would be a prudent cultivation!” Sara spat back, disgustedly. But as her hands flew over the controls her heart was pounding, her blood was racing. She felt alive, more alive than she had since Hera during the War.




“God’s pustulant bunions, I hate the waiting!” Lt. Otto “Turk” Pamuk complained as he kept his eye glued to the monitor the techs had installed in the cargo hold. “I can handle the bullets and the screaming and the smell of guts and blood and—” “Don’t worry the young ‘uns!” Lt. Zoë Washburn hissed, glancing back at where their two platoons were taking their ease with dice, cards, reading, and general bull sessions. “They’re keyed up plenty. Don’t get ‘em rattled afore we even get off the boat.” “Relax,” Turk said, exhaling cigar smoke into the ventilation intake. “They’ll be fine. They’ve been training for this for weeks, now.” “And how well did your training prepare you for the actual battlefield experience?” Zoe asked, pointedly. Turk considered. “I soiled a pair of trousers,” he admitted. “See what I mean? Battle is scary.” “They weren’t my trousers,” Turk added, straight-faced. Zoe ignored him. “What they need to see is a calm, stoic leader who sees this as just another operation, just another drill, nothing special, nothing that could get them all killed,” she continued, her voice low. “Why do you think they need that?” Turk asked. “Because that’s what I’d like to see. Right now. And my C.O. on this sleigh-ride is two ships over and one back.” Turk grinned. “First time on your own command? According to rumor, you and Mal pretty much ran the defense of Serenity Valley.” “That’s what you get for following rumor, then. No one ‘ran’ the defense. After a while, we just ran out of officers and we didn’t get any more in supply. Mal didn’t try to keep it organized, he just kept making good suggestions and I kept knocking heads to get the grunts to listen.” “Welcome to the class they call ‘command theory and practice’ back at the Gopher Hole,” he said, amused. “All the other feh hua is just that. You make good decisions. You make people listen to them. You hope to hell you don’t hump up anyone else’s good decisions. And you refrain from getting killed.” “And to think I missed all that valuable OCS stuff,” Zoe chuckled. “Seriously, what do you think we’ll be up against? Mission specs were a bit . . . sparse on enemy numbers.” “Figures they probably got a couple of hundred guards – figure light infantry, mostly for riot control and stuff – and maybe a hundred heavy infantry for more secure stuff. Should be a cakewalk.” “You know, I’m thinking that the term ‘cakewalk’ should be banned from the military lexicon, on account of how rare such a thing really is.” “I take your point,” Turk chuckled. “So, how are you adjusting to the idea that there are Browncoats left in the ‘verse?” It was a question casually asked, but with a great deal of seriousness behind it. “Yi xiyar,” she admitted. “It’s . . . strange – Passing strange. You really think that . . . that the Black Star will fly someday again?” She said it in hushed tones. She had been too long amongst the Alliance-occupied moons to feel comfortable with such speculation out loud. That way often led to fistfights or gunplay all too frequently. Turk shrugged. “Not like it did before. Too much history. But another Independence movement is ‘bout inevitable as taxes and orbital decay. ‘Specially if it gets helped out by political insurgents. Last time, we built the whole fang zi out of raw protein powder and hunting rifles and spit. This time, we know what we’re doing. The Generals and such are smart – real smart – and they’re doing what they can to weaken the Alliance in strategic places.” “That’s gonna take an awful lot of weakening,” Zoë said, doubtfully. “I’ve known Browncoats who think like that, plant bombs and such and blow up innocent folk. Didn’t make many friends. Including me. No future in that. No, the purplebellies are gonna take a whole lot of weakening.” “Not as much as you might think – their whole fang zi is falling down, now, thanks to Miranda.” Zoë winced at the name of the world that had made her a widow, but Turk didn’t notice in his enthusiasm. “It’s only a matter of time. Something will happen to shake things loose from their control, and we’ll be there to take advantage of it. Oh, we’re aware of the independent operatives who act locally, usually out of revenge and desperation. When we can find them before they act, we recruit them. But we try to discourage that sort of thing. “No, we’ll build a solid political organization using local issues to organize locally, while inspiring a sense of Rim-world solidarity through subtle waves of subversive propaganda. We’re organized through a cell-structure, promoting the movement through a series of youth camps and subversive outreach programs to the very poorest folk, and infiltrating existing political movements. From there we install Independence-leaning governments all across the Rim. “Plus, we infiltrate the essential heavy industries and seed product lines with dual-use designs – shuttles that can be converted to interceptors and dropships, terraforming control satellites that can double as defense platforms, tractor designs that can be transformed into armored vehicles, and a thousand other things that we learned we needed in the last war, but didn’t get until it was too late. We make the Unification Reconstruction Commission’s good work promoting slave-labor industrial plants into a pre-conflict construction and munition program.” “Your tax dollars at work,” quipped Zoe, wryly. The URC was the agency most responsible for dolling out cash and resources to the conquered Independent worlds after the war in a highly visible, highly publicized way that made the pro-Unification folks in the Core feel positively grand about the re-civilizing efforts – while the lion’s share of the cash went for subsidies to corporate interests, who used them to build pissant light industrial plants in showcase occupation worlds like Persephone, Beaumonde and Hera. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of the Rimworld post-war population starved or were enslaved in less well known moons, safely away from the Coreworld captures. The URC was almost universally despised outside of the Core, and Zoe was encouraged to hear that the underground had plans for the factories. “The rest is fairly straight-forward: coordinated guerilla action against strategic targets, pre-placement of material and personnel at specific enemy strong-points, preparations to blockade strategically important trade routes, clandestine attacks on important Alliance installations, infiltration of key offices by collaborators and saboteurs, propaganda battle in the Core itself, all of the normal stuff in a revolution. The important thing is to gain the hearts and minds of the locals on the Rim, and unite them around a revived-organization, one that’s identifiable with the old Independence movement, but more relevant to their daily lives and how they pertain to the paternalism of the Alliance.” Zoe stared at her friend in shock. Enough so that he grew uncomfortable. “Um, you spend a lot of time hanging around staff meetings?” she finally asked. “Not much else to do in the Gopher Hole when you’re a field officer,” he said, at last. “Or a grunt. I guess that did sound an awful lot like a load of crap.” “No, no,” she assured. “It’s a sound strategy. Now that the Core has conquered us, the Alliance has pretty much ignored the welfare of the people. You’re right – this could work, especially now.” “You sound less than enthused,” Turk observed. “I know,” she said, with a grunt. “I guess I’m just not as young and idealistic as in my youth. Don’t want to get my hopes up, I guess.” “Yeah, total defeat will do that to you – we have a whole department devoted to rehabilitating old, tired Browncoats into a new generation of leadership.” “You really know how to chat up a girl, don’t you? ‘Old, tired Browncoats . . .’” “Yeah, well, let’s see how well you do on this mission,” he soothed. “Might could be there’s hope for you yet. Hell, you could be a great asset to the movement, Zoe, you and Mal both. Lots of folk look to you.” “Yeah, well, we’ll see,” she said, uncomfortably. “Me an’ Mal have had a lot of fun being outlaws. Great adventure. Good – if irregular – pay. Hate to give that up for . . .” she trailed off. “A chance to believe in something again?” supplied Turk. “A steady job, clean uniform, and a real mission in life?” “I . . . I kinda had a mission, until recently. I lost my husband to Reavers. Maybe I’m lookin’ for something like that again.” “You look at your boys and girls, back there, all in uniform and ready to jump to your every command. You look, and then tell me it doesn’t feel good to be back in the Army again.” Zoe looked, despite herself, and she knew Turk was right. As much as she loved following Mal around the ‘verse – the man attracted trouble like Jayne attracted whores – she hadn’t felt like she belonged anywhere since her Army days. The closest she had gotten was with Wash, when the prospect of starting a family had started to settle in. Now, without him to anchor her, she was feeling even more bereft of stability, and it was wearing on her. Without meaning to, she thought suddenly of Mal and the rest of the crew, once again at the center of the spiral of chaos – but without her. She knew a part of her stress and anxiety was genuinely attributable to the thought of Malcolm Reynolds loose in the ‘verse without adult supervision. Zoe knew that he was already there with the rest of her friends, and she felt guilty about not being there with them. She devoutly hoped that Inara – or maybe Rachel, she seemed to have some sort of influence over Mal – could play the ‘voice of reason’ role Zoe had played for Mal for so long. He could bully Kaylee, intimidate Jayne – who was useless for that sort of thing anyway – and ignore the doctor, but Inara might be able to provide him some useful advice and maybe keep him from doing something outrageously stupid. If he’d take military advice from a whore. Then there was River. She was like a hole card you had up your sleeve in the middle of a high-stakes game – only you never knew if she’d fly out an Ace, and win the hand, or a deuce, and let things go all to hell. So far it had been about even, in that regard, depending upon how you measured such things. But River and Mal had some sort of strange connection that Zoë was aware of, even if she didn’t understand it. She was like Mal’s good-luck piece, only now she was the pilot, too. She had adopted the handle ‘Albatross’, but Zoë had privately thought that ‘Wild Card’ would have been more appropriate. She had mixed feelings about the girl taking over Wash’s spot, but she couldn’t argue the point, either – not without enduring Mal’s attempts at creative piloting. From a purely professional perspective, the team had lost an edge without Wash at the stick. Her baby had been one of the hottest pilots in the Black, and imagining Mal trying anything more complicated than a take-off, a reentry, or a docking made her cringe. River had shown that she was twice the pilot Mal was. But was she half the pilot Wash was? That remained to be seen. Her personal feelings aside, River had yet to be truly put under fire. She could be brilliant sometimes, Zoe was perfectly aware of that. But would her preternatural talents extend to keeping Serenity flying? Despite what Mal said so poetically, so often, it wasn’t just love that kept a ship in the sky. It was knowledge and skill, daily competence and brilliance in a crisis – and a big steaming pile of luck. Wash had had that in spades. River . . . River could very well get everyone she loved killed. Just like she had gotten Wash killed. Zoe couldn’t help it – and she tried – but there was a small, tiny part of her that blamed River Tam and all of her associations for Wash’s death. She knew intellectually and emotionally that it was the Reavers who had fired the fatal shot, but if it hadn’t been for River and her troubled past Serenity would have been safely trading fire with hired goons on some mudball over a couple of hundred ounces of platinum, not in the firestorm over Mr. Universe’s abandoned wordlet. But there was a tiny, irrational part of her brain that saw River as the responsible entity. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right, and it wasn’t even technically correct – the damned Alliance was at fault, ultimately – but that small, tiny, almost invisible part was there. Part of her personal mission here was to process that. To try to not just accept the idea of River at the stick, but to keep from wanting to tear her throat out in mindless vengeance over her grief. If she could somehow play a role in finding and punishing the parties responsible for Pax, Miranda, and ultimately the Reavers who had been the instrument of destruction for her chance at happiness, then perhaps she could put her silent rage at the girl to rest. It wasn’t the most important part of her mission, but it was there. Perhaps it would bring her peace. Or death. Or both. But at least she was doing something. Going on with her life on Serenity as if nothing had ever happened, as if Wash had never been there, that was an empty, hollow existence, devoid of meaning. To her surprise she didn’t even care that what she did might resurrect the Independence movement, which she had sacrificed so much for. She discovered that while she wished the underground Browncoats well, she didn’t have the stomach for another lifetime of fruitless war. She wasn’t here for that. She was here to do something. What she did here would mean something, she was sure. She didn’t know what, but it would mean something. “God, I hate waiting,” she sighed, shifting her feet around to keep them from going to sleep. “It makes you think too gorram much.”




“So, not sayin’ that we are gonna do this,” Mal said quietly, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, “but sayin’ we were – hypothetically – going to rob the joint. How would one undertake that?” “I can’t believe you,” Inara said, shaking her head. “You’re about to be in the middle of the biggest firefight since the war, and you want to take time out to conduct a petty larceny?” “I’m thinkin’ might not be so petty,” Mal shrugged. “Besides, it’ll give us something to do to occupy our time.” “Best bet is to wait ‘till they get distracted,” Jayne grinned. “And I foresee a distraction in their future.” “Yeah, yeah, that follows – probably not gonna be exactly well-guarded in the ensuing festivities,” Mal agreed. “When there’s an invasion going on, your first thought isn’t to hide the silver.” “Silver? I thought it was platinum?” Jayne asked, confused. “No, it was purplebacks,” Kaylee corrected. “Ai ya! A whole robbery just for a bunch o’ credits?” Jayne whined. “They still spend,” Mal said. “Just ‘cause you gotta stack up more of ‘em than last year, don’t mean it’s not money. ‘Sides, that lieutenant mentioned platinum. And a vault. Been a while since I did a vault. But it’s all money – and I’m fair certain you ain’t gone and got allergic to money.” “A fair point.” “Gotta figure out where it is, first,” Kaylee observed. “That’s gonna take some stealth, some real intelligence gathering. We got squat on this wreck that ain’t a dozen years old. Could be anywhere.” “No, it’s not going to be in one o’ the prisoner access areas,” Mal said. “That narrows it down considerable.” “What if it’s way up towards the bridge?” Kaylee asked. “That ain’t gonna be easy. Especially not in the middle of a shootin’ war.” “Why would they put it in the bridge?” Inara asked, tossing her hair with a practiced motion. It looked a little incongruous, considering she was wearing the shapeless coverall she had bought at the Gopher Hole. “A bank is going to be where the commerce is.” “Base PX,” Mal said, snapping his fingers. “O’ course.” “Won’t be no proper PX out here in the Black,” Jayne said, skeptically. “They’ll still need one,” Kaylee countered. “Got to – every ship’s got some sort o’ store. Any ship of appreciable size, that is,” she corrected. On Serenity, the crew was too small and intimate to bother with such things. Most things were held in common, or intensely personal. “You’re right,” Inara admitted. “Any time you have more than a score of people in one place, commerce usually breaks out.” “Guards gotta get paid,” Jayne reasoned. “And if you’re paid, folks gotta spend somewheres. Ain’t been on many big boats, but they did always have some where to buy deodorant and toilet paper.” “I find it hard to believe you were interested in deodorant,” Inara said, flatly. “So where is the PX going to be?” Kaylee asked. “That’s the question,” agreed Mal. “And it ain’t just gonna be a store: officer’s club, lounge, some sort o’ tavern . . . you can’t keep folks from drinkin’, even out here. Gotta be a bar.” “But he said he had a vault,” Mal said. “A cash register is nice, but a vault’s got to be better. If we can find it.” “Now that might be near the bridge,” Inara conceded. “Only one way to find out,” Mal sighed. “If only we had some sorta sneaky spy that could ferret out that particular nugget of information. Wait, here comes one now . . .” Rachel was descending the stairs from the catwalk, dressed head to toe in a dark gray not too dissimilar from the color of the Suri Madron’s bulkheads. The suit had pockets and pouches on it all over, and there were three visible pistols and a wicked-looking blade at her belt. She had her hair completely wrapped in a matching hood, and a veil that would cover all but her eyes was hanging from one side. “You about to go a-ninjain’?” “That’s the plan,” she agreed. “Mind a brief little side-trip?” “What do you have in mind?” Rachel said, carefully, eyeing each member of the crew in turn. “Oh, nothin’ that would jeopardize the mission,” Mal dismissed. “Just want to know where the vault is. And the PX, if they got one.” “The vault . . . and the PX.” She considered the matter. “I’ll see what I can do.” “You’re just going to let them loot the place in the middle of the rescue?” Inara asked, aghast. “The mission parameters were planned with a large degree of improvisation built in,” Rachel explained. “Since we don’t know nothin’ much about the conditions on the ground, it was best that way. So if Angel wants to pick a pocket or two and get hisself shot up in passing, that’s y’all’s business.” “That’s a pretty cavalier attitude,” Inara said, disapprovingly. “That’s pretty much the way the Browncoats have always operated,” Rachel countered. “When you ain’t got nothin’, then you steal what you need from those who do.” “Ain’t that a double negative?” Jayne asked, confused. “The point is, all works out well, that money would be vaporized anyway, and that don’t do no one good. Whereas we would all be especially good caretakers, feed it, love it, spend it . . . it’s a thing o’ mercy we’re doin’,” Mal grinned. “I’d feel better about this if Zoe was around,” Inara said. That earned a hard look from Mal – Zoe’s defection was an open wound. “I’d best be goin’, if we’re gonna keep schedule,” Rache said, changing the subject. “According to plan, the Nightmare has started playin’ tag with that gunboat, and if I don’t get my part done there ain’t gonna be a party. If I come across that particular piece of information, I’ll squeal it back on channel four. Sound good?” “It does indeed,” Mal said, smiling. “Thanks, Rache. Sorry you’re gonna miss out on the fun.” “Oh, I’ll be havin’ a barrel of giggles,” Rachel said as she buttoned up her stealth suit. “It’s gonna be one big gorram fiesta!”


Monday, April 28, 2008 10:29 AM


Back again!

Monday, April 28, 2008 2:28 PM


very nice, was starting to wonder about you again. Glad to see another chapter.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:02 AM


Gorram Awesome!

When I say 'What's not to love', it's as much a statement of fact as it is a compliment.

The pirate family and their inter-relationship, the talk of how another Independance movement might come around, Mal and them plotting their robbery...

Everything is described in such rich and logical detail, I wonder if you part time for military intelligence and NASA.

As if the attention to detail wasn't awesome enough, the characterization is outstanding. Zoe's thoughts on River, Mal planning trouble in the middle of a fire fight and well, everything you've ever written up until now.

Hope to see more of this fine work!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:44 AM


I just about passed out when I saw the new chapter. Fantastic as always. I loved the thought of the Jolly Roger on the "Nightmare." Keep the chapters a flow'n...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 6:15 PM


THANK YOU! It's finals week for me and this made my month. I really like Zoe's conflicted anger towards River. Your capacity for character development is especially evident by the realistic and totally irrational emotions that Zoe's grief is causing. Moreover, your flare for suspense is impeccable. Interspersing humor with drama (and the horrible mistake) among the Stiles family was very "whedonesque". Hope you're on a Firefly tear, we're so close to the big invasion!

Sunday, May 4, 2008 1:17 AM


Excellent stuff.

New instalments always welcome!


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Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty-One
The battle begins, Rachel changes plans, and River meets the politest baboon she's ever met.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty
The Uprising Begins

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Nine
A whole lotta folks get ready to do a whole lotta stuff.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Eight
The Confession of Dr. Rendell.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Seven
River remembers her birthday and meets a monkey . . . sort of.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Six
Inara Serra's Temptaion: The Lady, or the Tiger?

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Five
Inspector Simon and Dr. Romano have a little chat, and Fate gives him a gift

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Four
The excitement of piracy, the agony of waiting, and the anticipation of a completely stupid stunt!

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Three
Serenity arrives on the Suri Madron.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Two
Simon gets tested, Zoe gets quizzed, and Kaylee gets . . . satisfied. For the moment.