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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The battle takes a turn for the worst, and time begins to run out for defenders.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 816 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Archangel – Chapter Forty
Author owns no rights to Firefly, and no copyright infringement is intended. Fanfic only.
Mal and the men he’d selected went to work right away. Mal had Zoe work on the rear approach, while he took the right flank himself. With the eastern approaches blocked, at least for a while, by Thomas’ method of falling the buildings into the streets, those were the two most vulnerable places.
Mines were placed, demolitions lain, and earth movers pushed every obstacle they could find into the streets. Anything that would slow down the reavers’ advance.
All too soon the cries of massed reavers could be heard even above the din of their work, and Mal gave the order to fall back into their hastily prepared fighting positions.
Before his own men were in place, he heard Zoe giving the same orders.
“What are you thinking?” River asked, eyeing Jayne suspiciously.
“What?” Jayne looked at her, startled from his own thoughts.
“What are you thinking?” she repeated. “You are deliberately hiding your thoughts from me.”
“No, just single minded at the moment,” he shook his head. “That’s all.”
“You’re lying,” River accused at once, though there was no heat in her voice. He looked at her for a moment, then smiled.
“Just trust me, mei mei,” he told her finally.
Jayne resumed his observations, while River allowed her mind to wander. She would find out what was going on.
Monty was pacing again. Time wasn’t passing quick enough to suit him.
“Your pacing will not get us there any faster,” Gerald observed quietly.
“Won’t slow us down, none, either,” Monty shot back. “Just think better when I’m movin’, that’s all.” The other man nodded, in understanding.
“Sir?” the Comm’s officer called. “There’s a wave for Mister Book.” Book rose from his seat and crossed to the screen.
“Sir,” the man on the screen stiffened. “The mission has been accomplished, though not by us.” Book frowned for a moment.
“What has occurred?” he asked.
“Minster Azili was. . .the Minister was a plant, sir,” the other operative informed him. “He. . .sir, he’s an Archangel. He had slaughtered the Cabal when we made entry.”
“An Archangel?” Book mused. “How. . .interesting.”
“I thought the same.”
“Very well. Have the other teams checked in?”
“They have. Team Gamma has failed, died in the attempt. All other teams report success, though not always completely so. Losses were. . .heavy.”
“We did not expect to live,” Book pointed out, and the man nodded.
“Assemble the others, and stand by,” Book ordered finally. “Things are moving quickly, and speed may be of the essence. You are aware of the battle on Osiris?”
“Yes, sir,” the former Operative nodded. “Though it’s being described as ‘civil unrest’ at the moment. Caused by remnants of the Rebellion.”
“Well, that’s a complete fabrication. Osiris is besieged by the reavers.”
“We learned that from Minister Azili, sir.”
“Very well. I’ll contact you when the battle is decided. If we survive. If we do not, you are to authorize End Game, on your own authority. You will also aid Minister Azili, should he require it.”
“By your order, sir.” The screen went blank. Book turned to find Monty looking at him, hard.
“Eleven ministers had effectively plotted to seize power,” Book informed him evenly. “Apparently they allowed a serpent into their midst,” he grinned evilly. “One of them was a member of a rather blood-thirsty Protective Order known as the Archangels. He has dispatched the Cabal.”
“Eleven High Ministers?” Monty looked astonished. “How. . . .”
“According to legend, Archangels are very resourceful,” Book said evasively. “And they rarely fail, even if they die in the doing. Remarkable people, really.” He paused a moment, and smiled.
“Captain Reynolds’ mercenary, Cobb, is one of their strongest.”
“That ape?” Monty looked shocked.
“Do not be fooled by his actions, or his appearance,” Book warned. “Archangels are not stupid. And they are formidable opponents.”
Inara sat on the bridge of Serenity, monitoring the battle. She was ready to lift off at a moments notice, in case things didn’t go well. Kaylee was standing by in the engine room.
She hoped that Monty would make it on time. Mal’s orders had been stringent.
“The minute those Archangels start fighting, no matter who ain’t on board, you close the ramp and get clear. Don’t wait for anyone who ain’t here,” he’d ordered.
She had tried to argue, but Mal’s eyes had gone steely, and realized that the ‘Captain’ had been replaced by the ‘Sergeant’. The man who had led the defense of Serenity Valley. She had ceased to argue.
Instead, she listened to the channels in use by the defenders. And prayed that Monty and his ‘fleet’ arrived in time to make the difference.
Zoe watched, her face stoic, as the men under her command worked to hold the reavers at bay. Mines took a terrible toll on them, and having to scramble over the rubble made it easier to pick them off.
But she knew that eventually there’d be too many. And then they’d have to fall back. And start over.
All that mattered was holding long enough for Monty to arrive, and maybe even the playing field.
If they could do it.
Jayne sighed as he heard the news of another Brother having fallen in action. He glanced at River.
“We’re gonna have to go back out, little one,” he told her. She nodded.
“I am ready.”
“I know you are. Let’s go.”
The two of them slipped through the safety barrier, and launched themselves at the reavers who were about to overwhelm the three remaining warriors before the barricades.
The onslaught of the two helped to drive the reavers back, slightly, and gave the other three a chance to catch their breath, and reform.
They would meet the next rush as a wall.
Jazz was overloaded with data.
Her camera was going constantly, as well as a separate recorder. She was also pausing to take stills on occasion, when the scene was particularly eye-catching.
Before she had joined Serenity, she would have seen this as The Story. The one story that reporters looked for to make their name.
Having spent time getting to know several of the people involved, and seeing the carnage and destruction brought by the attack, her attitude had changed significantly. Now, she simply saw it as her duty to make sure that the information got out. Was distributed as far and as wide as possible, no matter what.
She vowed to herself, that it would. Even if she didn’t survive. Even if she was hunted for the rest of her life because of it.
No matter what the result, the risk, this story would be told.
Those who lay wounded and dying deserved no less.
Jayne and River were once again back-to-back. Another Archangel had fallen, and no replacement had arrived as yet. Thus the two remaining pairs had placed their backs to one another, and simply worked to avoid being overwhelmed.
Jayne sensed it before it happened. A push, a shove, of bodies, surging forward. Whoever was calling the shots had realized how weak their position was, and was literally forcing their front ranks into the defenders by pushing them with their follow-on formations.
It was too much. No four people, no four Archangels, could stem such a tide of weight. The embattled foursome withdrew slowly, forcing the reavers to pay dearly for every inch of blood strained street they managed to gain.
Jayne switched to his private comm, and sent a message, heard an acknowledgment, and nodded. He looked to the two men with him, gave a curt gesture, and the two surged in front of Jayne and River. Giving them an instant of respite.
River, still surprised by their movements, missed the flicker of sadness in Jayne’s mind, and his intent. He suddenly grabbed her up, and in a single, flowing motion, literally threw her over the barricade behind him.
She hadn’t even finished falling when she realized Simon was there, waiting. Before she could stop him, Simon had injected her with a sedative. She fought it, but it was too much for her, fatigued as she was.
“Why, Simon?” she asked softly, as she began to go under. “Why would you do this?”
“Jayne told me too, mei mei,” Simon whispered softly, cradling her in his arms and starting for Serenity. “Made me promise. Made Mal promise.”
Simon looked down at her, feeling her pain.
“He loves you, mei mei,” Simon smiled slightly. “He made us promise you wouldn’t die here.”
And then she was gone, taken under by the powerful sedative.
Simon’s eyes leaked tears as he made his way back to the ship. He knew in his heart that he would never get the chance to thank Jayne Cobb.
And he was surprised to find that it hurt.
Mal eyed the situation before him grimly. They’d been fighting for hours, but there were just too many reavers. They couldn’t hold much longer.
“Sir, we’re losing it,” Zoe called. “We can’t hold any longer.”
“Get to the ship, Zoe,” he ordered. “We’re done here.”
“Sir, I. . . .”
“Get to the boat, Corporal,” Mal ordered again, gently. “We’re done, Zoe. And I promised Jayne. Least I can do is keep that promise.”
“Understood, sir,” Zoe replied at once. Mal switched to the command frequency.
“Sir?” he said.
“I know, Malcolm,” Thomas’ voice was calm in his ears. “You should go, while you can. Please see the wounded to safety, and as many of the civilians as you can. Go with God, my son.”
“I. . . .” Mal tried to speak, but found he couldn’t.
“I feel the same, Malcolm Reynolds,” Thomas assured him. “You have done well. Do not allow your faith to falter again. Book would be proud.”
“Thank you, sir,” Mal managed to gasp, and headed for his ship. He switched frequencies once more, on the way.
“Busy, Mal,” Jayne grunted, and Mal could hear reavers screaming, and steel clanging.
“We’re. . .we’re going, Jayne. We can’t do no more good, and Thomas asked, well, ordered me to get the wounded, and as many civilians off world as I can.”
“I told him you could do it, if it could be done,” Jayne told him, and Mal smiled in spite of everything. Jayne had complimented him.
“Girl safe?” Jayne asked, grunting. Though none of them could see it, Jayne had just taken a solid hit, one that had staggered him.
“Yes, Jayne,” Inara’s voice faltered a bit as she spoke. “Simon brought her on board a few moments ago.”
“Inara, will you. . .can I ask you to. . .” Jayne couldn’t finish. He just couldn’t.
“Yes, Jayne,” Inara sobbed gently, knowing what he wanted. “I will.”
“I love her more than anything, Inara. Don’t let her forget that when she’s mad at me.”
“I won’t, Jayne. I swear.” Jayne didn’t hear the rest, switching to the Archangel’s net.
“We’re done, Brothers,” he said calmly. “Withdraw to Omega positions. Withdraw to Omega positions.” With that, Jayne and the two men left with him made their way through the barricade trap, and started to their own places.
It was almost over.
Mal and Zoe arrived at the same time, running. Survivors of their small commands were with them, but rather than board the ship, they simply took up defensive positions. Mal looked at them, but the set of their faces told him. They weren’t going.
“Sir?” Zoe said quietly.
“Where are we on loading?” Mal asked Simon.
“We’re overloaded,” Simon admitted. “But Kaylee says we can fly.”
“Good enough,” Mal nodded. “Let’s get. . . .”
“Where’s Jayne?” Kaylee asked. They looked up at the catwalk, where Kaylee was leaned over the rail.
“He. . .he ain’t comin’, mei mie,” Mal strangled out.
“What?” Kaylee’s cry echoed through the ship. Mal hit the ramp controls, and the ramp started up. Kaylee was flying down the stairs, but he and Zoe restrained her.
“Kaylee, he. . .he won’t leave the rest to die alone,” Mal told her, eyes damp. “He asked me. . .he don’t want you to be mad at him, Kaylee.”
“He can’t do that!” Kaylee screamed. “You call him, Cap’n! You make him come back!” She was screaming now, and struggling to get away. Zoe hugged her tightly.
“Go on, sir,” Zoe ordered. “We’ll manage.” Mal nodded, and ran to the bridge. With River out, Inara was on the bridge alone.
“NO!” Kaylee’s scream followed him, and he knew it would haunt him for the rest of his days.
Back in the bay, Zoe struggled to stay calm.
“Mei mei, please,” she pleaded softly. “There’s nothing we can do. He won’t leave his men, and he won’t allow you to be in danger. He loves you more than anything he’s ever had. His most prized possession.”
“He can’t. . .I can’t. . . .” Kaylee trailed off, suddenly, falling apart in Zoe’s arms, sobbing into the older woman’s chest. Zoe comforted her as best she could.
But she knew, from bitter experience, it would never be enough.
She felt the ship shudder slightly, and then rise, easing out of the formation below. Inara guided them gently through the man made canyons of the city, and then into the open.
Serenity climbed for the sky, straining for all she was worth.
Below, Jayne watched the ship leave, and smiled slightly. It was mixture of sadness, defeat, and satisfaction.
Inara, had she been there, would have recognized it. She had seen it once before, what seemed now like a lifetime ago.
As the ship disappeared from sight, Jayne turned his attention to the battle.
It was nearly time.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:59 AM
Thursday, May 01, 2008 12:40 AM
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