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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Monty arrives, but is it too late?
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 855 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Archangel – Chapter Forty-One
Author owns no rights to Firefly, and no copyright infringement is intended. Fanfic only.
Serenity broke atmo in the clear, for which Mal was grateful. His worst fear was that reavers would see them, and pursue. With River out, and Kaylee near hysterical, there wasn’t much of a way for them to outrun a determined pursuer.
“We’re in the black, Mal,” Inara told him quietly. He looked over at the regal woman he had come to love more than anyone, and nodded. He didn’t trust himself to speak.
“How is Kaylee?” Inara asked, her voice breaking.
“She was still screamin’, I left to come up here,” Mal told her softly. “‘Spect that’ll go on for a while.” His voice was heavy with both fatigue and sadness.
“It isn’t your fault, Mal,” Inara said gently.
“I know,” he replied. “But. . .it just feels wrong, Inara. Leavin’ Jayne behind. I know that’s what he wanted, but. . . .”
“It wasn’t wrong, Mal,” Inara told him. “It was what he wanted, and you had more to think of than just one man. And you helped them all you could.”
“If only Monty had got here. . . .” Mal began, only to be cut off by the sensor alarm.
“There are at least eighteen ships in orbit, sir,” the sensor officer reported to Monty. “Three are cruiser size, though I haven’t been able to identify them, as yet.”
Monty nodded, and turned to Gerald Book. The former Operative looked serene in his battle dress.
“You sure you aim to go along?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for anything,” Book smiled.
“Best get to the shuttle, then,” Monty ordered. “Good luck.” He turned to the man next to him.
“Captain, carry out your orders.”
“Yes, sir.” He turned to the comms officer.
“Advise all ships, commence Downfall. Repeat, Commence Downfall.”
In the black, the troop transports and drop shuttles separated from the rest of the fleet. Surrounded by nimble gunships and corvettes, they broke for the planet below, ferrying troops who were straining at the leash to get on the ground and destroy the reavers that threatened their homes and families.
The remainder of the fleet, screened by more gunships and corvettes, turned as one to engage the orbiting reaver vessels. The reavers responded to the threat at once, coming about to engage the new ships.
Both forces, eager for battle, rushed toward each other. There would be no quarter from either side. It would be a fight to the death, in which there could be only one winner.
Jayne heard the ships before he saw them. Suddenly an Alliance gunboat swept over them, and filled the streets before them with gunfire, tearing the reavers into bits. He heard other gunboats doing the same.
“Everyone head to your designated shelter. Seniors will report status to me at once on arrival. If you have no assignment, report to me at once.” He turned to the men around him.
“Guard the shelters to the last man,” he ordered. “Those civilians are now your mission. Do not fail.” The men nodded and hurried to their positions. Jayne watched them go, then turned to look up at the sky. It was late in the afternoon, but he could see transports and shuttles following the gunboats to the ground. As the first settled in and began to disgorge troops, he smiled.
Just then, the barricade before him failed, and reavers began pouring into the small ‘fort’.
'Just a little too late for us,' Jayne thought sadly. 'But in time for the others. Not a bad deal, I guess'.
With that thought, he waded into the fight. No sense making it easy for them.
“It’s Monty!” Mal exclaimed, studying the sensor scope. “He made it after all!”
“What do we do?” Inara asked, still at the helm.
“Hold here for a time,” Mal ordered after a minute. “Let’s see how the battle goes, ‘fore we think about headin’ back. We ain’t got no way to fight, so we’ll wait.”
“All right,” Inara nodded, and eased the ship down to snail’s pace, ensuring that their lights were off.
Mal hadn’t been listening to the comm unit, but Inara had been. When she gasped, Mal turned away from the scopes to look at her.
“What?” But then he heard it.
“. . .we’re being overrun, sir,” Jayne’s voice was calm. “Barricade’s are failing, and reavers are inside the perimeter. I’ve assigned men to all the shelters, but the best we can hope for is to hold for relief. We can’t force them back.”
“I know, Michael,” Thomas’ voice came back. “We have done all we can. God will judge us on our intent, not our success.”
“It’s. . .it’s been an honor, Thomas,” Jayne replied.
“The honor is mine, Michael. Godspeed.”
Mal clenched his fists until his knuckles cracked.
Too late! His mind cried out. Too gorram late!
Jayne hacked his way through the mess of reavers, his mind in turmoil.
'I’m sorry Kaylee. I’m so sorry. Things should have been different, better. I should have told you I loved you more. I should have held you more, kissed you more.'
He continued to fight as these thoughts ran through his mind, along with others.
'Don’t hate me, River. I know you would have stayed. But it ain’t your time. You’ve got livin’ yet to do, and it ain’t right for you to die here. Please, please, don’t hate me. I owed you my life. It was the only way I could repay you.'
'I know', he was startled to hear her voice echo in his head. 'And I don’t hate you, ge ge. Love you always, just as I do Simon. Saved me, too.'
'River?' Jayne thought, sure he was wrong.
'Yes, ge ge,' he heard back clear as day. 'I can hear you. And I could never hate you. And I’ll look after Kaylee.'
'Thanks, mei mei,' Jayne replied, and felt tears on his bloody face. It was a relief to know. . . .
He never saw the blow coming. He was still smiling when the world went black around him.
Onboard Serenity River sat up with a shock. Her armor had been removed, and someone had placed a gown around her before placing her in the passenger dorm she found herself in.
She stood, still slightly woozy, and made her way into the lounge, wrapping a blanket around her. There were people everywhere, many injured, all afraid. The minds would have overwhelmed her if not for Thomas. She smiled sadly at that thought.
“Mei mei!” Simon called from the infirmary. “You shouldn’t be up! You shouldn’t even be awake!”
“Stronger than before, Simon,” River smiled at him. “Better.”
“Still. . .” Simon started.
“Jayne has fallen, Simon,” River told him softly. “I felt it. He is beyond my reach, now. Where is Kaylee?”
“I. . .are you sure?” Simon croaked.
“Yes,” River nodded, a single tear trailing down her cheek. “I need to talk to Kaylee, Simon.”
“She’s in her bunk, mei mei,” Simon told her. “You’ll have to wait a little while. She was. . .well, she was hysterical, and I had to sedate her. She’ll be out for a while.”
“Then I will wait,” River told him. “Where are my things?”
“In your bunk,” Simon assured her. “Everything.”
Monty watched as the space battle developed. It was something foreign to him, which was why Captain Devoe, the senior ship commander among those who had rallied to him was in command.
Devoe was very good at his job.
“Task Group One, concentrate all fire on target Sierra Three. Groups Two and Three to concentrate on Sierra Two. Gunboats to screening positions.”
The various groups began to hammer the two largest reaver vessels, pummeling them with missile and gunfire. The reavers, despite the ‘control’ of their handlers, did not fight as a unit, preferring to strike out on their own.
Devoe intended to make them pay for that.
“Shimmer and Willa are gone, sir,” the sensor officer reported quietly, seeing the blips representing the two corvettes blink away. Devoe nodded in silent acceptance.
He was sure they wouldn’t be the last ones.
On the ground, Gerald Book looked at the carnage around him. Though he wanted to be in the fight himself, he had been given command of the ground mission, and knew his place was behind, directing units.
“Sir, First Battalion reports that the fortifications are overrun,” an aide informed him. “The defenders are still fighting, but they can’t hope to hold out.”
“Order Third Battalion to move immediately to their assistance,” Book ordered. “And have the gunboats resume strafing runs, but only on known reaver formations. Let us try and avoid any friendly fire incidents.”
“Sir,” another aide reported, “Second Battalion has secured the West side of the fortification, but their way into the barricades is blocked by ruble.”
“Have them move around to support the Third, then,” Book ordered. “And tell them to make haste.” He turned to yet another aide.
“Prepare two companies of the reserve for shuttle insertion, Lieutenant,” he instructed. “We may need to place them inside the fortification by air.”
“Right away, sir,” the aide nodded, and hurried to carry out his orders.
Hold just a bit longer, Cobb, Book urged mentally. We’re coming as fast as we can.
“River, what are you doing up?” Inara asked, startled when the young woman walked onto the bridge. River had hurriedly showered and dressed, then made her way to the bridge.
“Cannot keep me down,” she smiled faintly. “How are things going?”
“Can’t tell, ‘Tross,” Mal told her quietly. “Not yet. How you doin’?”
“I am able to work, if you need me,” River assured him. Inara rose without a word, leaving the pilot’s chair for River. She moved to the co-pilot’s seat as River took her place at the helm.
“Jayne is gone, I think,” she told them softly, looking out at the stars. “I felt him, in my mind, but he was suddenly gone. I fear. . . .” She broke off, suddenly, unable to finish.
“Stubborn hundan,” Mal muttered quietly, as Inara shed silent tears.
“Do not feel that way,” River said softly. “If he is gone, it was an honorable end, Captain. One worthy of respect, and remembrance.”
“Ain’t arguin’ that, ‘Tross,” Mal promised. “Just wish he hadn’ta done it, that’s all.”
“Come far in a short time, Captain Daddy,” she smiled weakly at him, and Mal had to chuckle ruefully.
“Guess I have at that, little one,” he admitted.
“Kaylee is just broken,” Inara said quietly. “I don’t know if. . . .”
“She will be fine,” River said, her voice confident. “We will be here for her, and she will be fine. She will grieve, and she will hurt, and we will help her to heal.”
“We will,” Mal nodded firmly. “We all will.”
“Sir, Barbarossa is hurt badly.”
Devoe looked to the now red blip for the heavy cruiser, and nodded.
“Have them withdraw,” he ordered. “If they can repair their damage quickly, tell them to assume the right flank guard.”
The ‘rebel’ fleet had lost five corvettes, so far, and seven gunboats. Wendigo and her remaining sister, Hammurabi, were both damaged, but still able to fight.
They had accounted for the heaviest reaver vessels, three heavy and two light cruisers, along with a number of the lighter combatants. While there was still work to do, the fight was going fairly well. If they could just. . . .
“Sir!” a comm tech called. “Hammurabi reports boarders! Their Marines are fighting reaver boarders!”
“Dispatch our reserve force by shuttle to the Hammurabi,” Devoe ordered at once.
They couldn’t afford to lose the cruiser. They could afford even less for the reavers to take her, and turn her guns against the rest of the fleet.
“I think I’ll tag along, Captain,” Monty said quietly. “I’m useless here, anyway.”
“I’d prefer you didn’t, sir,” Devoe replied evenly. “We can’t spare you.”
“Hogwash,” Monty snorted. “You’ve got things under control here, and I’m just in the way. That will be fighting I understand, at least.” He smiled, and offered his hand.
“Good luck, Captain.”
Gerald Book looked calmly over the battlefield, watching as the troops under his command fought their way into the barricades. The gunboats had made a difference, he knew. Without them, the battle would have been hopeless, instead of merely impossible.
“Sir, the fortifications have been retaken,” an aide reported. “Casualties were heavy, sir,” he added.
“Have the shuttle force moved there at once, to assist with securing the area,” he ordered. “And we’ll be joining them.”
Book walked toward the shuttle. The battle was far from won, but it was looking better. A flash in the darkening sky caught his attention, and he realized that a ship had just gone up.
Ours or theirs? He wondered. Then he shrugged.
That wasn’t his fight.
Medics were running to and fro when Book walked off the shuttle. The barricades were back in place, and the heavy fire of the defenders, supported by the gunboats, were steadily driving the reavers back.
“Captain, make sure we see to the wounded promptly,” he ordered the first company commander he came across. “Especially any dressed like that,” he pointed to a fallen Archangel. “We need such men.”
“Yes, sir,” the Captain nodded, and started barking orders.
As he looked over the carnage, Book spotted a familiar figure lying on the ground, blood pooled about him. Hurrying over, he knelt beside the man known as Jayne Cobb, a sad look on his face.
This man had known his father. Had held him in high regard. Despite the larger man’s hatred for him, Book could not help but feel a sense of kindred for him, and it saddened him that their efforts had not been in time to. . . .
Book’s thoughts froze as Cobb’s body was wracked by a heaving cough. The man was alive!
Sunday, May 25, 2008 12:53 AM
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