Bell, Book and Candle - pt 5. Conclusion.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

CONCLUSION: While the Serenity crew are at gun-point, Inara has persuaded the leader of the men to stand down. However, as a hysterical River flees the ship, the shooting starts. Meantime – Mal and the LoveBot™ Sebastian are en-route to find Jossiah Bell and the missing Shepherd Book.


While the Serenity crew are at gun-point, Inara has persuaded the leader of the men to stand down. However, as a hysterical River flees the ship, the shooting starts. Meantime – Mal and the LoveBot™ Sebastian are en-route to find Jossiah Bell and the missing Shepherd Book.

This story is set just prior to Those Left Behind. All credit to Joss and Brett.

part five – Wise Up.

Lancy had no chance to clear the gun from his holster and he died with the same aggrieved look he had been wearing since conceding his right of arrest to Inara. His body span and fell from the difficult footing of the stairwell bounced off a crate and down hard onto the flooring of the deck. Inara froze, shocked. For the merest instant – so did the rest of the posse. Just for an instant. Long enough. One of Zoë’s arms snaked out – ripping the pistol from the belt of the man behind her. Her arm windmill-ed up catching the man under the jaw with the barrel and even as he staggered back, her arm had arced over and fired at the man in front of her. The rest of the men had their guns out – one pointing at Wash – but Jayne took care of that. Simon threw himself sideways and ran for the barrels – a bullet caught his shoulder – he felt the sting – just a graze but it helped, he froze in his tracks. “Shoot me – the barrels go up, we all go up!” One of the gun-men paused, cursing - and Zoë took his legs away with a brutal blow to the knees. She had thrown a spare pistol to Wash – and he caught it, twisting upright in an awkward movement but shooting as he did so. Shots went wild but they caught a metal crate, sparked furious and ricocheted close to another man, forcing him down. One of the remaining men had a clear shot but the battery on the electro-charge was flat – had to make do with throwing himself at Wash instead - the two went sprawling in an undignified heap. Jayne meantime was following his gun down the stairwell nearest his position firing as he did so. Another posse member down – but the rest were out by now – firing in over the lip of the bay. Jayne strode across and kicked out at the man pinning Wash. No/one noticed as a white faced Inara turned on her heel and made off back to her shuttle.


“Oh… Wow.” The girl stood watching Kaylee, grinned, grinned pretty. Pretty vacant. Kaylee meantime, going hammer and tongs inside the hatch cover of a pulser, ignored her. There was wire wrapped around her arms, her pair of flexi-specs dotted with solder flecks and hot grime. The heat was awful still – even without the engines being on-line – sweat was darkening the back of her vest. She was using her free hand to gesture for the watching girl to hand across another tool. “Um, ok…” The girl, who might have called Shawn – or maybe Paige, was still sounding far from focused, but eventually she floated the valve wrench over to Kaylee. “Shiny.” With a couple of twists from the wrench – noisy hissing as the pressure head came down – the job was done. Kaylee untangled herself, rolled free from the engine and lowered the hatch cover back into place. Ai-ya! Please don’t let her say – “Wow…” Shawn/Paige regarded the engines, “that was like – really fast.” “Had to be.” “All fixed?” “You got that right lady.” Kaylee sounded pretty gorram satisfied. And right to. Pulling her goggles off and shoving back into her pocket – she gestured to the access corridor. “We best skedaddle.” “Sure – I mean, Ok.” Shawn’s shaky legs seemed to buckle – and Kaylee was about to make a lunge for her – but then the girl righted herself and tottered forward. “Hurry!” Kaylee may have cut the chains around the girl’s waist and ankles – but Shawn/Paige was moving slowly still. Sucking in a breath, Kaylee grabbed the girl’s hand. “C’mon,” she ordered – pulling the girl along behind her.


River was running wild down the dry rivulet at the sides of the main street, in the wet season this was both drain and trough – for River it was simply a channel – a way to escape – beyond the eyes of curious passers-by. Her feet kicked dust up behind her but that was quickly followed by damp clumps of earth, mud, sludge – and finally black oily water. This was a storm drain – an entrance – kicking her way through the mesh fencing she slipped through and inside the mouth of the tunnel. It swallowed her up. Maybe this would be the safe place – at last – to curl up, to forget…

But even as she ran through the entrance – even as she wrenched open the rusted seal – even as the tunnel narrowed and she made her way up a rusted ladder – into another narrow pipe and along to a junction, guided by senses she had no name for – even as she breathed, something was changing… she was no longer fleeing – her movements were neither panicked nor random… she was on a mission. She didn’t even notice the dark.


Mal meantime was on his way back to the Toyshop. Sebastian was homing in on a signal – though walking the distance seemed to tire the Bot somewhat – its movements were almost somnambulistic, but then sometimes it was the simple things that a Bot would find hard - and a Lovebot™ even more so. Nonetheless – Sebastian had found a way through via the quiet back streets, where the only folk they came across were an old woman, a couple of children and an old spaniel blinking at them from the sidewalk where it lay in a patch of sun. Yup, it’s a good town for sleeping dogs alright, thought Mal.

As they came down an alley – crossing over a wide drain grill and into a yard – Mal realised they were at the back of Bell’s store. The back door was less fancy than the one that faced the main street – also it was open. “That’s right Captain, come right in,” said Bell speaking through Sebastian. Pulling his gun free, Mal did as he was invited – stepping up and into the shadows of the store interior.


There was a man in the darkness – or the mind of a man perhaps – truthfully the feeling of a body was slipping away. It was becoming a memory. I have a lot of memories thought the man… but even that trite thought was not so true – not so real. How many memories had been lost – and how many memories could a man push away? And how many memories hidden – could ride the dark chance and crawl back? That scared him – more than the dark, more than the cold, more than the far off sensations of breathing and coughing and clawing in the water - more than death certainly.

To have unravelled so fast – this would have shameful when…

And I knew – this journey – early on I said, it was not what I expected – when I first began it… there had been tears even then – at the start… and now – there is simply darkness…

Ironic – to find such darkness in a place called Candle – a Beacon-World - if Bell had been truthsome about that. Bell had been right about one thing at least – Candle WAS hollow now. (And what of the other worlds, a part of him asked, are there Beacons still waiting to be lit?)

There have always been demons in the dark and man has known it since his creation. But even as half formed faces, unlit but glittering figures – sudden eruptions of unwanted yesterdays – began to emerge and clutch at his mind. Shepherd Book felt renewed hope. Within the madness of memory’s babbled voices there was another, quiet, sure. And if he knew the truth of fear, he knew hope also. “There is a light.” He heard the voice plainly… and he wondered if a drowning man could weep. Then there was an almighty roaring in his ears and he felt himself go down.


Lucille Drayton’s ‘Brothers’ roared into the port whooping and hollering like the winning side on Unification Day; Four horses and a hover-bike careering through the open gates – in a cloud of dust and gun-smoke.

“Who the good gorram we got gunning for us now?” Jayne yelled of the universe. It was a good question – the remnants of the Posse were like to have asked it themselves, only they were too busy ducking and running. Actually, the running didn’t go so well since the new arrivals cut them off swift as. The apparent leader of the ‘brothers’, the man in the dapper suit, leaned down from the saddle. “Where’s Malcolm Reynolds?” He asked – then upped his volume. “Come on out Reynolds – fore we huff n puff and blow all your gorram piggies away!” “Aint here!” It was a general chorus. “And he’s ours anyhow!” shouted back a crouching posse member – spinning about as he did so, pistols up. “Like hell!” “We got the warrant – the reason and the right of being here first!” “Tellin’ me you aint his boys?” “Hell no!” There was general confusion, consternation and much theatrical whispering. “We want his head!” The Posse spokesman yelled out. “You settle for his feet?” The dapper man seemed open to suggestion. “Sounds fair.”

The crew of Serenity felt free to dispute this - some of them anyway. Stepping up fast to the bay entry, Zoë unloaded a couple of speculative rounds. The ground outside the ship was full of dancing men. “Leave it be! Captain’s ours!” There was an angry fuselage in reply. “Hell, Zoë – there’s a lot of em!” The previously blood hungry Cobb was looking twitchy – and he dropped his voice to a confidential volume. That was near enough for Zoë to shoot him right there. “Hey,” Jayne was saying, “a LOT of em – they don’t want us, hell they don’t even want the gorram crazy girl – just Mal…” Zoë looked at him. “Yeah!” Jayne roared at full volume. “Just you TRY and take him you yang mao nia! ” Vera sang harmony and the men outside ditched dancing in favour of scurrying, ducking, and unloading. “Get the damn door shut!” yelled Zoë. Jayne thudded the wall switch home and the bay doors clanged shut. “What about Mal - and River?” that was Simon. “Wash; get the shuttle out – Jayne get to the entry, high ground. Shuttle can’t locate the Captain? You gotta help him in through there. Any part of that nonsensical to you?” “No…” Jayne couldn’t keep his natural petulance from his tone – but he had the look, Zoë knew he would do as told. So, here I am again, Cobb groused to himself, gotta be the one savin’ Mal again…


The owner of the emporium for fine mechanical figures was stood beside a worn red armchair, its battered velvet matching the dusty floor – the feel of cobwebs – the silence of the watching mannequins, figurines and dolls. “I am Jossiah Bell.” As Sebastian stood silent by his side, Mal braced himself near the entrance. “Let’s get to it,” he said “I can’t stand another fella speeching at me.” “Oh I quite understand.” Bell shrugged. “Very well – you have my oil and…” “Technicality, but that oil? Actually mine.” Bell sighed. “You said you didn’t want to go down that road.” “Just so we’re clear – what galls me is that no/one pays attention to the fact that I did my gorram job! All this? Not a game.” “Oh – I assure you Captain, that this whole sorry affair is something I take very seriously. I want my oil – it is the price of my rehabilitation. My… redemption as your, uh, Shepherd might say.” “Not interested, your business is your business. Just see no reason to make a fool of mine.” Bell tried on a consoling expression. “I meant no harm – as you know the oil was not meant to be discovered – you were to be paid and to forget all about it. Unfortunately you cannot. Also – as long as I have waited for my chance to return, I have waited for my chance to find the man responsible for the destruction of my career and the imprisonment, interrogation, torture and death of my colleagues.” “What is it about ‘not interested’ you can’t follow?” Mal was crouching slightly now and his gun was straight aimed. Bell however was not intimidated. “The man I have been waiting to exact justice on is the man you know as Shep-” “Uh-uh.” Mal cut him with a shake of the head. “Wrong man. I guess you must have very unreliable sources. Yes, you know who I am – Lucille too – and yes I have a Shepherd on my crew. But he is not your man.” “You think?” “I know. Anyway, makes no difference, my crew are my crew. No Shepherd no oil.” Bell sighed again. “This is the stubborn attitude I have faced all my life – myself and scientists all.” “Then why so keen to get back to the day job?” Mal’s attempts to humour folk were never the best – but Bell seemed to warm to the subject. “Oh things are very different now.” He chuckled. “The work I’ve done – I will not be the anonymous lab coat of yesteryear.” Bell gave an expansive sweep of his wide sleeved arms. “Why - the nano technology alone would buy me a research department! But to show the practical applications – to give them self replicating oil - think of it – an endless supply! I cannot imagine what they’ll do. Frankly I’ll be happy with an office, a desk, a cup of poisonous phoney coffee, an eager secretary and a nice clean writing pad. But I’m flexible.” “Well you must have been busy – I’ll give you that.” “I have been on Candle for a very long time.” “So have I. Too gorram long.” “Why so churlish Captain – surely this world holds to your deepest ideals? Independence – hard fought, hard won.” He gave a half smile and added, “Hard cash.” “Don’t recall the winning. Don’t see much independence.” “Ah, but then you are simply a soldier – the subtleties can be elusive I suppose. You might think they simply, uh, ‘grease the wheel’ - but the Drayton’s have maintained what you could not. And I am willing to go deep into the long Alliance night to ensure that they do not come here and rip this place apart and replace it with an ever lasting gas station.” “Noble I’m sure.” “I’m trying to tell you that this place is how you fight your war – you should be pleased.” Mal did not look pleased - didn’t look much of anything but bleak and tired. “Sick of telling folk,” He said, “I aint fighting any war.” “Then I’m wasting my breath.” “Depends you figure liar practice is useful or not… might be handy, you back in the Cortex. Hell, gorram useful enough here.” Bell looked astonished. “What?” “No, after you – I believe you were all fired up to elaborate on how just how such a brilliant scheme came to pass in a toy shop… in a tinkerbell town, on a dull planet in one of the furthest quadrants of the rim? Also, where you hide your tools, laboratory and, yeah, staff.”

“Just what are you implying?” “Aint no implications as I see – just the plain fact of you talking out your hoe-tze duh pee-goo! You expect me to believe your wonder science breakthrough go-se? Gorram it – even the seal on the barrels don’t work. But I bet you could tell me how you made it of the finest bonded molecules this side of Osiris.”

Bell’s face did a very strange thing – it seemed to shrink and harden – the eyes seemed to fold into the flesh but become very bright at the same moment, “You dare,” he intoned, “you dare disbelieve me?” Bell made a circular motion with arms indicating the great works his shop contained. “You think I’m lying to you?” “To me – or yourself, can’t say that I give a hump,” was Mal’s retort, “And all this? If I had an un-natural desire for smoke and mirrors I’d be on Serenity asking Kaylee to clean our vent-blades. I do find it more than a mite patronising that you would consider me – or those that ride with me – fool enough to take any of this as something but funning. What next – Voodoo? Aliens?” Jossiah Bell was barely recognisable – the skin of his face had set like putty – the too-wide smile had gone, leaving simply a gash of a mouth. “Aliens.” The voice too was utterly flat. “How about Dead Shepherds.”

He made a gesture with his arms – Mal noticed a small remote in his hand – and the chair flipped back and down into the dark. Bell looked at Mal with none of the usual magician’s glee – but a far more chilling sort of satisfaction. Mal didn’t bother to bandy expressions. Without warning he simply powered forward grabbing Bell by the throat and belt. Putting all his weight behind him he began to very deliberately push the choking toy-maker towards the hole.


Kaylee was still leading Shawn/Paige by the hand – only now they were outside the ship; The Judgement if the atmo’ scorched nameplate were to be believed. They were crouching low in its shadows, listening to the sound of the gun fire. Kaylee was eyeing the temptingly open Serenity shuttle bay – and casting glances over towards the gate. Which way to run? Shawn seemed uncaring – but the throwing up had stopped. The minute they touched ground – the girl had started retching, overwhelmed by relief – or just drugs maybe. Kaylee didn’t much care which. They were out – Shawn was out. “Our Doc’s real good – we’ll get you taken care of,” Kaylee had reassured her. But – yeah – gotta get to him first. ……………………………

Wash was looking with concern at the gauges of the shuttle – no easy thing to keep her from stalling at low altitude and such a tight pattern. Shuttles were made for darting round orbit traffic – burning through atmo’ and gliding onto a dock. Using them for this sort of trick was – well, a trick and no easy one. But this is my domain, I am Washburne lord of the ju-, I mean lord of the flie…-ers! Flyers! He threw the shuttle into another banking turn – coming around to strafe Candles main-street again. Down below puzzled pedestrians frowned upwards and horses reared up against their harnesses. He could see the toy shop plain as – but some instinct was keeping him from landing… and at that moment, peering down through the flight windows and spying two stumbling sodden figures, Wash knew why.


“Protect me!” Bell gasped frantically - and at the unmoving Sebastian. “Hmmm guess you were right.” Mal grinned humourlessly as he pressed Bell backwards. “Not a slave.” “AAAAAGH!” Bell’s arms and hands flapped useless. His feet were at the edge of the trap. “I will not – die – here!” He dug in with all his weight – the veins standing out on his face – across the naked scalp. “Hell,” gasped Mal, twisting the front of Bell’s belt even tighter – the grip on his throat too. “Maybe your nannies can put you back together again.” One of Bell’s feet was hanging over the void. “Nothing doth fade…” he muttered, bloody spittle across his mouth, “but doth suffer a sea change – into something rich and strange.” The other foot slipped then and with a horrible abruptness Bell fell through the hole – He caught desperately at the sides - trying to grab a hold – but there was nothing – he held himself up on the flat of his hands with another yell. Mal didn’t look away – gazing into Bell’s eyes as the man breathed hard – each breath measuring the moments till his arms gave out. “We all go into the black eventually…” Mal said evenly.

“But not today Captain,” said a voice from behind him. Book’s voice brought Mal around sharply. And there he was – dripping water and oil and sewage – but alive. Shepherd Book. Nor was he alone – a small figure was beside him. The Tam girl – somewhere under the muck. With a sudden movement she threw herself up against the Captain. Never awkward when it came to bear hugs his arms went around the girl easily. Odd though, hadn’t noticed before – mainly on account of the last time River had been this close they had both been swaddled up in the inflated padding of their EVA suits – but the girl was strong – and balanced. River shifted in his arms and he looked down at her expecting – well, you couldn’t really do that with her but – he looked down at her as she looked up. River’s eyes were still wild and teary but her voice was calm. “Mine beats,” she said.

Mal raised his eyes to the Shepherd. “It is rare that we have a chance to be merciful Captain,” said Book, dignified even in his bedraggled state. Mal said nothing – but despite the mess she made to his shirt - he kept an arm around River and walked forward in a straight line to the door and through it. Outside in the red glow of the early evening Reynolds saw the shuttle and the waving figure of Wash. Shepherd Book watched for a moment as Sebastian jerked into life and went to help the desperate Toy-maker, before he too turned and left. Outside, River had climbed into the shuttle and Mal was following – but he turned his face to the Shepherd as Book approached. Book read his expression aright. “The girl saved me,” he said.” Mal raised an eyebrow. “That so?” he said thoughtfully, “huh, interesting to note.” “Less thinking more of the frantic escaping!” yelled Wash. Weren’t but a few seconds later that the shuttle was blazing away and back towards Serenity.

Back in the shop, Bell flopped into the arms of the Lovebot™. “Thank you Sebastian” he said feebly. “I exist only to give satisfaction,” the ‘Bot replied calmly. ……………………

“Chur ma duh!” yelled Wash as he piloted the shuttle. “I’m a taxi already?” He’d filled the Captain in on the bare essentials of the situation back on Serenity, “Men, guns, oh you know, the Bad,” which was all Mal needed to feel up to speed. But now – as he circled over the landing ground flaming the men below as much as possible – while Mal leaned from the open hatch and squeezed off some eerily accurate shots – now there was Kaylee and… and… “Who is that exactly?” There was a girl watching him. As Kaylee crouched low behind the shadow of a ships wings – the other girl stood up, waved and grinned. She looked weird. “We picking up the weird?” Mal was moving back from the hatch. “We ever pick up anything else?” Wash hissed from between his teeth but he brought the shuttle around and low, screeching to a halt (or as near to as a shuttle was able). Mal beckoned urgently – but Kaylee needed no prompt – she grabbed the other girl by the hand and hoofed it but good. As the girls tumbled in – Wash scrambled the shuttle up – a volley of gunfire rattling the hull. “W’hoo!” he yelled, grinning manically. “Reminds of the time…” his voice slowed, “the time… ok, not such a good time now I think about it. Better just” – “WASH!” “Oh sure Captain – we’re there! We’re there!” The shuttle heaved itself with relief into Serenity’s dock.

First thing Mal did was head for the loading bay – taking in the carnage Wash had described. He nodded at Simon who ran past him to go to River. He could feel the eyes of Shepherd Book too looking down at the bleak corpse covered scene. Jayne naturally enough was looking happy as the proverbial as he merrily picked every pocket he could find. The clothes would be next. Made sense – why throw a good pair of boots out the lock just coz of the body wearing them. Mal was still staring when he felt Inara at his elbow. She pointed at the bodies. “If Jayne hadn’t…” The Companion looked pleadingly at Mal – her eyes anyway, the rest of her face was set and determined the reverse of Zoë whose face was calm whilst her eyes raked fire across the looming prow of Jayne Cobb. “What makes you think I care – problem? Not mine. Jayne get to the engines – Wash get us gone.” “But Mal…” “No ‘Nara – no buts – I don’t wanna hear it.” He turned his back – but if he was hoping to head for the flight deck easy, he was wrong. Book was still behind him. “Captain… this…” “Spare me Shepherd – My eyes are still working. I can see just fine.” “That’s more than I can.” A beat. “You done?” Mal didn’t want the Shepherd dripping any on the access gangway. “Captain,” Book was considering his words. And still dripping, Mal noted. “Captain – I want to preach again.” “Shepherd – I understand you’ve been through it – and some, but now, is NOT the time.” He made to go but Book caught him by arm that Mal pulled roughly from his grasp. “Shepherd…” “No Mal,” He put his hand out again, “you don’t understand. I want to preach – properly, in a church. It’s what I should be doing – it’s what I am SUPPOSED to do. It’s what I WANT to do.” Mal nodded and quicker than a disconcerted Book had expected. “Fine, ok,” said the Captain. “Fact is I already had some thoughts on that matter. Next place we land – we’ll find you a church. And that’ll be soon on account of our failing to earn a magic bean out of this job.” “I have your word?” “You have the arm I need the use of.” Book saw something in Mal’s eyes that reassured him – and he let the Captain go.


The minute the shuttle was back in Serenity – those few posse members unkilled or toasted ran for their ships, one ship – damn if there weren’t enough crew left to fly both. The newly nominated Captain ran into the cockpit with his pilot and buckled in but good, yanking on the inter-com as he did so. “I want us off and I want us quick!” he yelled. “Get the guns on-line – that damn Firefly aint got no cannon on her.” There was a beep from the console, a green light came on. “We are gonna kill you so bad.” The Captain vowed – flooring the power pedals. With a shattering roar the pulser engines kicked into life – and hot fuel sprayed straight through the scrubbers into the vent and out onto the waste-ground of the port – almost instantaneously the tanks of ignition fuel and accelerant were emptied. Without oil the lift-jets span on empty for a moment – and then died, black sooty steam filling the engine room with an acrid stench. Up in the cockpit, the pilot threw up his hands as the gauges fell to zero. The new Captain slammed a fist into the arm rest of his seat. Up on the monitor – Serenity’s backside could be seen vanishing into cloud cover and gone.


With Serenity back between the stars, Kaylee was stood in the med bay next to the reclining figure of Shawn/Paige. “Capt says we’re all fine and heading out – we can drop you next stop, know a place – kind folk, good people.” Mutely, Shawn/Paige nodded her thanks, her eyelids closing. Kaylee looked across at Simon “You really gotta…?” Simon nodded looking troubled. “Yes – I’m afraid, when she’s slept… I know – it’s not easy but… I could use a nurse right about now… that is – Shawn could.” “Ok…” Kaylee winced, looking at the wreckage of the girl on the med-bay table. Simon asked a question, asked it softly. “Is that – did I understand her – She was some sort of reward for…” “Uh-huh… down payment for the Captain’s head.” Kaylee shook hers. Always knew this was a good ship – good crew – no chance of them… or - and yet there was the shadow Jubal Early still prowling the corridors of her memory. When Simon touched her gently on the shoulder – Kaylee jumped. But then so did Simon as the crazed figure of Jayne rushed in to the med-room and began to thrash about by the shelves and cabinets. “Stop! STOP!” yelled Simon angry – and confused. “Please,” he added, “What are you – looking for?” “Acid – poison – hell if I know!” A stricken looking Jayne howled back. From the corner of his eye Simon noticed his sister creeping in as Kaylee made a smart exit - but it was Jayne who demanded attention. “Medical attention!” Cobb yelled. “What – what is the problem?” Jayne stopped – for a moment too embarrassed to say, then he blurted. “I got worms!” Simon was nonplussed. “Worms?” He sounded sceptical. “Yeah worms – Doc’, robot worms! Your genius of a sister tells me that oil was full of the ruttin’ things!” He jumped forward and grabbed Simon roughly, desperately. “You kill em for me right Doc? I mean – kill em ruttin dead!” His hands went back to the top of his head. “Just get em out of me!” He was rubbing himself vigorously now – as if insects were crawling all over him. “I don’t want no robot worms in my gizzards!” Simon opened and closed his mouth. “Oh, wow…” came a faint voice from the med table. Jayne howled again and snapped the cap off a bottle of detergent. “No – don’t!” Simon yelled. “Then do something Doc’!” “Can’t clean the inside,” River trilled stepping forward. “River please that’s – not helping.” Simon admonished. Jayne was still flailing about with a wild look and calming him down was going to be far from easy. He tried a different approach. “Jayne – stop, STOP! There’s no point – it’s true. You can’t get rid of them.” Cobb gave an anguished wail. Simon pulled the best sombre doctor face he could. “No, really Jayne – I’m sorry but they’re just too strong, designed to be. In fact they just keep getting stronger – that’s why the oil was such a high grade. These nanites bond with whatever they’re in and make it invulnerable – and that makes them invincible, you can’t kill them.” He sighed, patted Jayne on the shoulder in condolence and walked slowly out of the bay. Mimicking him elaborately, River did the same. Jayne, still ashen, stood very quietly for a spell, looking down at his body forlornly, imagining the piratical critters swarming through his system and attaching themselves – making everything… invulnerable? “Hey Doc’?” No answer. Carefully Jayne peered around the med-bay and then, reassured, he flexed his muscles, stretching out his arms and chest. “Gorram…” he breathed, “I’m gonna be invincible!” The laughter of River Tam would at that moment perhaps have burst Jayne’s bubble – but standing in the corridor outside and to the side of the door, Simon had his hands across both their mouths. …………………………

epilogue: Those Left Behind.

Shepherd Book gazed around the church – shaded as it was from the early morning sun yet everything in the spacious stone clad church was visible. Font, pulpit, altar and pew… even a few people – a handful. There had been more – some even listening to his words, his readings and his sermon but now… “Thieves!” Book heard the chorus again from outside – among the throng, the commotion of the robbed. “Browncoats too looked like! You believe that?” “Believe it when we find ‘em!” yelled another voice. But not in the church – the interior of the church was still, calm, contemplative, restful. Long as you discount the steady stream of Chinese invective spewing from the Preacher that is.



fic scribbler’s notes: the story is ended - but there's a little more of Book's arc to come...

Choices: This fic tried to tie up some threads: Wanted to suggest something of Book prior to his otherwise extreme actions in Those Left Behind. Also, why Zoë is so mysteriously pissed with Jayne in TLB. Establish a little more of Mal’s retro frostiness in the TLB and the BDM. Keep to his character arc from TLB through the BDM – the Mal from my post-BDM fics is a little different from the Mal in this fic. Fill in a little on Inara’s complaints in TLB and her actions through the BDM and beyond – plus tie up some loose ends from Heart of Gold. Bump River from the conclusion of OIS back towards TLB and especially the BDM. (There are links to previous fics as well, but none essential I hope.)

I can only hope I managed to do a couple of the things on this list plausibly.

Special thanks – credit to Ken Wharton for the essay on the Alliance and science in Serenity Found. Longstraw - for pointing me towards an episode of Enterprise which helped generate ideas and details for the fic as a whole and especially the final chapter. SpaceAnJL for inspiration and idea generation. And to all whose comments have helped me redraft a few things before posting or will help with the next fic!

A few lines (cough!) are not mine: Jossiah Bell quotes and paraphrases Shakespeare’s tempest, Sherlock Holmes and Joseph Bell. Book paraphrases the Bible and Aimee Mann. So does Kaylee.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008 2:21 AM


A rip roaring ending to this story but am I mite surprised that Book wanted Mal to let Bell go. Maybehaps more a product of his own near death epiphany than true forgiveness. Thanks for a good tale, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 2:52 AM


SO very very good! I agree with AMDOBELL about Book. You have done wonderfully explaining the events prior to TLB and I could see this happening to our BDHs. Can't wait for your next work of art!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 5:46 AM


Thanks for writing! your best work to date. When I have time, I'll comment with more adulation... really!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 6:17 AM


Wheee! Sweeney Todd's chair, even!

Thursday, May 15, 2008 2:33 AM


Excellent! I love Jayne's pleading for something to get the nanites out of him, and then believing he's invincible. Until a certain ninety-pound girl get hold of his man-parts ...

Friday, May 16, 2008 4:15 PM


Wonderful conclusion to a very entertaining series. I love the way you write!

Sunday, May 18, 2008 5:16 AM


Hey you,

Apologies for not leaving feedback lately, I've been terribly busy and feedback has fallen by the wayside. And I'm sick on top of it, so woe is me ;o)

The story was good, I liked the overall premise, but I have to add my one little complaint again that it felt rushed to me. I found I had to read sections more than once to grasp what was going on because evertyhing was happening so fast - again, that could just be me, and in the end, I'm pretty sure I got what all went down, but I found this one more difficult to understand than 'Wages'...

I really liked River running away from the ship when all the shooting was about to happen, and then her running slowly changing into a purpose, a mission, that was neat. To the outsider, it very well could have just appeared that River ran off to save Book from the outset, but the truth is more complex and interesting than that. Very nice.

Jayne and the nanites at the end... Hilarious. Oh. My. God. :oD Goin' from freaking out to thinking he's gonna be invincible, too much fun! Until he steps in front of a bullet at least *G*

Liked seeing the love bot... it's interesting to think about them, in terms of where they fit with Companions and whores and the like. Are they the equivalent of today's blow up dolls? or something more? Is there any stigma attached to using one? Could they have an impact on the Guild's business? Who exactly writes their programming? Would there be celebrity versions of love bots? The Companion version for instance? Lots of things I'm suddenly thinking of, which is really running off on a tangent...

Enjoyed the story, would still like to see it slowed down a bit, but it's your style and it works for you and you continue to write them well. :o)

Friday, August 29, 2008 4:08 PM


“Gorram…” he breathed, “I’m gonna be invincible!”


*wipes away laugh tears*



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Independently Blue parts complete 3 parts
just a coda to wrap things up is all.

Bell, Book and Candle - pt 5. Conclusion.
CONCLUSION: While the Serenity crew are at gun-point, Inara has persuaded the leader of the men to stand down. However, as a hysterical River flees the ship, the shooting starts.
Meantime – Mal and the LoveBot™ Sebastian are en-route to find Jossiah Bell and the missing Shepherd Book.

Bell, Book and Candle pt 4
Book has been vanished. Serenity taken hostage. Mal is getting annoyed. Kaylee's getting curious. Inara is getting ambassadorial.

Bell, Book and Candle Pt 3
new chapter: Pt 3 of 5. The crew held hostage, Mal off to settle a score, Book in a very strange shop...

Bell, Book and Candle pt 2
Serenity has found a cargo of wine is actually oil.
There are complications. Book and Kaylee are taking in the town of Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle - pt 1
New Fic. Pt 1. The Serenity crew at work and... not so much,
serious and - not so much.
Easing myself back into the game with this curio.

The Wages of Sihnon - CONCLUSION
Inara and Saffron are on Sihnon, attending a ceremony between Companions and Shepherds. Radha Brook and Phil Yip are also there investigating some missing girls.

The Wages of Sihnon - pt 5 (of 6)
Having been summoned to Sihnon, Inara is attending a Temple shindig between the Guild and The Shepherds. For reasons not yet fully explained, Saffron is with her. Phil Yip and Radha Brook are investigating the disappearance of some young Companions in Training.

The wages of Sihnon pt 4 (of 6)
Inara has been summoned to Sihnon to liaise in meetings between the Shepherds and the Guild. Meantime some trainee companions are missing and GIA Agent Radha and Private 'Tec Phil Yip are investigating. Saffron appears to be in cahoots with Inara and is disguised as a novice companion.
This chapter - a nosy journalist and the High Priestess.

The Wages of Sihnon - pt 3
Inara has been summoned to Sihnon where the Shepherds are visiting. She has brought with her a young woman to act as aide to the Abbott. Meantime some Trainee Companions are missing from a shuttle and the Guild have apparently sent Radha Brook to investigate. Phil Yip, an irritable detective for a private security firm is also on the case.