BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - MYSTERY

STEAMER

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 5)
Monday, May 19, 2008

The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, part 5. The crew settles in to hear the true story about their objective before the adventure begins.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1431    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

First of all, reader responses! ;) Angellemarcs, I think the other guy always has a writing quality we wish we had. Your vision of the Academy and the horrors it produced, for instance. I sure couldn't have thought of that! Thanks for staying with it. :D

Yinyang, thanks a heap - that's precisely what I'm aiming for so it's good to know. Here's the next part for ya! ;)

Mal4prez, it's my hope that this'll make up for the lack of a 'Kaylee episode' in the series. I can tell right now you leave (and hopefully will continue to leave ;)) some of the best replies a story can get, for good or ill.

Darbymonster, indeed - but when you taste a lot of bitterness at first, what you eventually find is that much sweeter when you get to it. Thanks a million for stoppin' in.

Katesfriend, that means a great deal and it's very encouraging. Thank you!! And thank you to all who replied, both to the last post and to the blog entry. So let's get on with the fic, shall we? :D

Beta-thanks to PhyreLight, as always. Prologue blurbs, Chinese phrases, cursor hovering....yeah, you know the rest.

Part 4

前进

"Not to be a ying zai yao gao, Cap'n," Robert spoke up as the group filed through the aft door into the dining area. "But I got a notion more's at work here than just local colour." "Seems to me the local colour's brown," Mal answered. "Me and Zoe here spent too many nights and not enough days tryin' to keep the purple out of it. Show me a fly in the ointment, and I'll show you a lot of plus-sized Alliance noses stickin' where they shouldn't ought to." "You ain't allowed to talk about plus-sized noses, y'know," Jayne commented.

"Jayne!" Zoe's tongue might well have lopped his head off at a closer range. "Best be closin' the peanut gallery. We got work to do."

"You get a hold of Whosieface, then?" Kaylee asked as she parked herself near the forward end of the table.

"We did," Mal said simply. "Ray's got just the job. Could get us all the way to the edge and back if the mood strikes."

"So what is our latest hellabaloo of a grave-digging caper?" Wash was all mock eagerness, leaning forward, hands folded eagerly on the tabletop.

"It's of interest you put it quite that way, Wash," Mal said. "'Cause grave-diggin' is exactly where this job is gonna take us in time."

The mockery was gone in an instant and Wash's manner turned downright vexed. "I was....just....being facetious," he faltered.

Jayne leaned negligently back in his chair, chomping down a handful of protein chips that he seemed to have sleight-of-handed out of nowhere. "Make mine an extra foot deep, little man," he said with a callous grin. "Needs me some head room."

The ensuing pause lent itself to confusion, quickly giving way to silent but palpable disgust at the implication. Clearing his throat, Mal put the repertoire from his mind and proceeded with the briefing. "Just gotta do some dead-wakin', is all. Mayhaps some history while we're at it. Which is a bubblin' pot of tricky in and of itself, seein' that the history part ain't exactly buried. Local legend has it that a freight train disappeared roundabouts Yamenmiao Pass, up in the Napoli Mountains, goin' on thirty years ago. Ray says it was carryin' some cargo that was hot shot in more ways than one. Wherever the train got off to, it's a solved mystery for this town and a full tank for us, we get clear to diggin' it up."

As he spoke, his wearied eyes ambled about the dining hall in observance of his crew's reactions. Zoe and Wash were nothing if not attentive: Jayne, having heard the story already, was well engrossed in his protein chips. Book was in his somber and taciturn groove, as if ripening some of his unshepherdly knowledge for the sharing. Kaylee, it was Kaylee who stirred Mal's curiosity. Her expression was ashen, her usual high spirits invisible.

"Somethin' tells me it's more'n just a legend, Cap'n," she said mutedly, looking past him.

At this, Mal realised that his new guest's reaction had gone unnoticed, but when he turned to take note of it Robert seemed downright shell-shocked. Mal might as well have grown an extra head and a half judging by the look he was getting from the younger man, who was lurking in a corner across the room.

"What's tellin' you so, little Kaylee?" Mal asked quietly.

"Rob...." Kaylee had the merest tremor in her tone. "This's old news to you, ain't it?"

Heavily and apprehensively, Robert sighed and nodded. "Damn sure is. It's gotta be the Lickey Banker."

"The Lickey Banker," Kaylee repeated, her eyes widened in awe by the sudden pulse-flattening memory of the story. "That was the train they never found!"

"Train they covered up, more like," Robert said sardonically. "The world's still yet to get a straight answer about what really happened to it."

Mal turned to face him straight on with arms impassively folded, attempting to hide his quickening pulse as the thug's warning came back to him in a rush. "You know a thing or three about it, do you?"

"That's about all. The most of us on the railroad wish we knew more, but all anybody knows is what got wrote on its train order before it made its last run up Yamenmiao Pass. Dated August twenty-sixth, twenty-four eighty-nine. Proceed from north yard limit Janus City to south siding switch Pecola. Okay time twenty-one forty-three – and that's all we know for sure. We had some ideas about its cargo, but the fat-asses in the rear had others."

"What is the name 'Lickey Banker' supposed to mean, anyway?" Book asked.

"Most obscure code name a body ever conjured up. 'Lickey Banker' was the name of a steam engine they used on Earth that was in the mid-twentieth century. Had a few nicknames to it, one of 'em being 'Big Bertha'. And it just happens that 'Big Bertha' was also the nickname of the railroad guns they used during the First World War."

"And wasn't the Banker s'posed to be carryin' some great big modern ones on its last run?" Kaylee said, her face twisting thoughtfully.

"That was one of the longest-runnin' rumours." There was a certain warmth, an affection almost, in Robert's gaze as he refreshed Kaylee's memory. "You ask me, there's gotta be more'n a coincidence there."

"Weren't a rumour," Mal said, taking due notice of Robert's look, and making a mental note to discourage any advances the boy had in mind. "It was more'n just coincidence. Last time anyone saw the train up close, it had nine of 'em on board. Biggest launchers knowed to man."

Slowly, tensely, Robert took a deep breath. Mal could see straight through him. Not only did he know the nature of the train's last run, he shared the belief that it had left the yard and disappeared all those years ago. The train couldn't have been given a code name based on its chief commodity for any less reason than Carabella had for going to the expense of searching for it. And Robert was even more nonplussed than Mal had been to know that weapons of such awesome caliber had been constructed, not to mention lost.

"Mind if I ask you somethin', Cap?" he said.

"Fire away."

"Talkin' of coincidences, you said your guy's name is Ray?"

"Corsetto," Mal said with a single nod. "He put in even longer nights than me and Zoe back in the day."

"Still is, if he wants you to get to the train ahead of that hun-dan Carabella."

"You know that godfather wannabe, do you?"

"Who the hell doesn't?" Robert said. His derisive snort was all the answer necessary. "Wu-dai claims he's just an honest gambler like there's any such thing, but I'm a fourth-generation railroader and he's a God-knows-what-generation extortionist. Three years' time now he's been buildin' his business on everybody else's troubles. I hope Mr. Corsetto's got you some backup."

"Not so much," Mal said flatly. Book's revelation from the history volume was bursting in his memory. "We're told Carabella's got a claim to the goods, but Ray gives me all manner o' reason to doubt it's rightful."

"But what's there for him to claim?" Kaylee said with a confused toss of her hands. "He couldn't be after those guns, could he?"

"Might be, if he can black-market 'em," Wash pointed out.

"Then only if he could sell off guns that big without the Feds noticing," Zoe rebutted. "No, he's lookin' for something else."

"Which brings us back to how much time's left before he finds it," Mal said. "'Cause there'll be hell to pay when he finds the guns along with it. Robert, any notions?"

"Nothin' I can back up," Robert shrugged. "The Lickey Banker – leastways back before it was called the Lickey Banker – ran a lot of hotshot goods on three different divisions out of Janus City, and it was all in container cars with explosive placards. Didn't carry no explosives, though, more often than not – the placards were just cover for whatever precious was really on board. But it didn't make a difference the night the northbound train disappeared, 'cause it disappeared right off the system map with nothin' so much as a drop of steam oil to tell where."

"So we been told," Mal said thoughtfully. "But whatever pretties it was haulin', Carabella and his boys don't want us gettin' near it. Or anybody else for that matter."

"All right, so here's what's bakin' me through," Jayne spoke up. "What's got him hot to trot about findin' the damn thing?"

"Well," Book said contemplatively, "what could the train be carrying that would interest a man like Carabella?"

"Could be the small arms," Kaylee piped up. "The Banker had a carload o' those, too, it's said. One guy Rob works with even swears there was a boxcar fulla gold, right back of the engine." She glanced obliquely at Robert for support, gratified to see him nodding his head.

"And you say I've got a hell of a memory," he said with a wry smile. "My granddaddy said it was just coin, but if that part's true, that'd do it. Couple thousand shinies, some pistols and rifles and a railroad gun, and there y'are with everything a militia needs to start something."

"A detail best left unknown, for sure," Book interjected.

"Believe it," Robert nodded. "It was unknown before the train disappeared and it was even less known afterward. Management saw to that."

"So how much?" Jayne asked.

"Hmm?"

"How much coin we talkin' about?" Jayne's expectant half-grin deepened the scar on his cheek.

Mild exasperation could be seen in Robert's raised eyebrows and the deep breath he took before answering. "Now that's one little nugget got lost before the train did. Even the high-'n'-mighty office poohbahs prob'ly didn't know how much it was carryin'."

"Two will get you ten that's what Carabella's after, though," Mal said. "Gets a body wonderin' just how he knows so much about the train. Not that that's any kinda crucial, unless he knows what else is on board."

"They have any notions at the time where it ended up?" Zoe asked.

"Couple, but they never bore out," Robert explained. "Goes without saying that them guys kept it all as tight as a mud ring plug. Track gangs spent weeks combing the whole division for any sign of the train, but far as they could tell, it was never even there. So the fat-asses in the rear decided to keep it that way."

"I wonder how surprised they'd be to find out where Carabella and his boys are lookin'," Mal said skeptically.

"Yeah, the granite quarry off of Red Rock Junction."

"But they tried there, though, didn't they?" Kaylee frowned. "I thought you said the switch was spiked and the tracks was all rusted over. No way the train coulda took a spill into the quarry."

"Guess Carabella thinks elseways. So did my granddaddy, far as that goes. He'd just made engineer when the Banker disappeared, and it never did run true with him what the all-high desk hogs let on to the public. They made deadened sure that the train never existed, far as the rest of the 'verse was concerned."

"But the working stiffs knew better," Mal surmised.

"Much better. Everyone in this part of the world did, only the big boys shut them up, too. Asked the rest of the guys to say so if they had any other ideas where the train got off to, and no one's yet given one. The desk hogs they had back then couldn't run a railroad around a Christmas tree."

"Okay, I'll bite," Jayne spoke up. "Say this story o' yourn's all truthsome. Where's the train at now, then?"

"And could it really be that difficult to find a big long articulated metal object, let alone hide it in the first place?" Wash put in. "I mean, it's got to be somewhere near a mag-lev strip, right?"

"Not in this world, Wash," Kaylee answered with a forced but knowing smile. "Ain't no mag-lev strips hereabouts. Steam and steel, that's how it got done back in the day." It was obvious to more than one of the crew that she was looking very much forward to witnessing those two elements at work.

Robert, meanwhile, answered Wash's surprised look with a wry half-smile. "Just old-fashioned," he said mildly. "But you ain't kiddin', friend. An instance like this makes for one hell of a disappearing act. Like my granddaddy used to say, 'Rusty rails tell no tales.'"

"Used to," Mal echoed.

Robert's eyes dropped briefly. "He went to that big roundhouse in the sky a couple months after Serenity Valley. But he went there believin', same as I do, that the Lickey Banker is in them mountains somewhere sure as there's horses in hay."

Another silent pause drifted through the dining area, though none could tell if it was brought on stronger by the thirty-year-old mystery or the mention of the Valley. "Tell me one more thing," Mal said finally. "You know the mountains well enough?"

"Enough to run a train through 'em, not so much for rock climbing."

"Well, descent's foremost on my mind," Mal said with quiet firmness. "Way I see it, the most of folk hereabouts want this mystery solved. Now if that includes you at all, kid, and if you feel up for it, you come with us. Serenity's suckin' fumes - she ain't never gonna get off the ground without a fill-up, which means we can't get her into the mountains to pick up the cargo. Chances are the shuttle won't hold a one of those guns, and even if it could, Carabella'd be onto us long before we're done. But you can help us find the train, you can help us bring it to light, and you can help us bring it to the barn."

For an overweight beat he and Robert eyed each other. Any escalation in its intensity would have elevated it to a standoff – trust wasn't even visible between them, let alone mutual or even complete. It was at this point that Simon entered the dining area, but the silence almost rooted him to the stairs as he stepped over the door sill and his entrance went unnoticed. Not a word was spoken about the table until at last Robert marshalled his thoughts.

"Help you out," he repeated askance. "Unless I missed something Chinese and obscure, you're lookin' to beat Carabella to it, and you're lookin' for me to do the same. So what's my motivation?"

"How about our only chance to get it out from under his nose?" Mal pressed on. "You lend a hand, we got a chance to take the whole load at once and bring it down here before he even knows we've made our move. He gets wise and raises a fuss, we got our ways of handling him." Mal jerked his head in Jayne's direction, drawing some welcomed attention to the big mercenary's malignant smirk.

"Well, I don't know if you ever been here before, but this planet's got only two rules written in the pavement." Eyes hardening to a blistering glare, Robert began to edge toward the forward door. "You don't steal from the mob and you don't cross the Carabellas. Hate to break the news to you, Cap, but you're on your own. There's any chance that bastard will catch on, I'm out." He shot his glare briefly at Jayne, executed a curt military turn and set off for the door. Book, standing nearest the stairs, made no move to stop him: he knew all too well that he wouldn't have to.

Mal was already pivoting into the boy's wake. Tuned by years of command, his raised voice caught Robert only a few feet short of the steps.

"I know you're devoted to your own, son," he said with the tone of a snapping whip. "You ain't gotta explain that to no one. Least of all Zoe and me."

Robert felt his pulse flatten as he held stock-still. Mal had just re-ignited a fuse within him that had been smouldering for nearly eight years. Slowly he turned: his glare had softened but steadily met the stony expression on Mal's face: the fire in the captain's eyes iced the fire of any locomotive Robert had ever run. "How's that?" he asked quietly.

"The Battle of Boros. Your old man saw that Alliance gunboat bearin' down on him and his regiment, jumped up on top of an outcropping and emptied his every mag into the Alliance entrenchments on the ground. He was still there when the gunboat opened fire and flattened the hill." Mal paused, studying Robert's reaction. The eyebrows had lowered; a thoughtful expression was beginning to cross the younger man's face, an expression of understanding, of what Mal vaguely identified as relief. Robert looked away, eyes misted ever so slightly as he stared blankly at the tabletop.

"Nobody ever told you how your dad died, did they?" Mal asked.

Robert shook his head in a sober moment of reflection. "Not so much. But how do you know who he was?"

"Eric Berakis loved talkin' the past. Loved to talk about the old country when we was takin' our rations, how his pop worked the railroad and his kid was dyin' to join in and how they was doin' their piece to keep our front lines supplied. Might be all's you did was mechanical work, but he was still proud as Dyton what you did for the war effort. Said one time, for you and the rest of his family, the least he could do was make damn certain he died on his feet. And he died on his feet, with a gun in his hands and no helmet on his head, yellin' who-all knows what when the gunboat opened up. He did what he thought was right by the people and the world he loved. I know you're gonna do the same."

Silence fell, heavier and wider-spread than ever before. A half-smile crinkled one side of Robert's face: Mal studied him as his eyes dropped to the deck at the captain's feet. A stray memory crept out of the back of Mal's mind, a memory of Niska's passion for the writings of Shan Yu. Robert might not have been looking down the barrel of a volcano, but Mal nonetheless knew it was this moment that would make or break him as an ally. When he looked up, perhaps half a minute later, no signs of bemoaning were in his eyes.

"Must be one helluva following you got under your hatch," he said loftily, glancing around at the rest of the crew.

Mal visibly relaxed. "You better believe it."

"Cap'n," Kaylee spoke up, so quietly that it took Mal a moment to realise she was speaking. "Don't wanna rain on no one, but if it comes up the train really is buried in the quarry, how's Rob s'posed to pull it outta there?"

"Just 'cause Carabella's tearin' up the quarry don't mean the train's there to be found," Mal said. "Methinks he would've found it by now if it was."

"So you're planning to start where exactly?" Wash sought.

"That's what I'm lookin' to suss out tonight. See if you can pull up a map of this area and highlight the rail line over Yamenmiao Pass. Robert, you show him the quarry and the roundabouts. Should oughta help narrow the search a little."

"Okay, whoa, hang on one second," Wash interrupted with raised hand. "I've got kind of a hair-raising recollection of our most recent train job and what happened afterward. Pray tell, have you managed an up-close peek at Carabella's torture chamber?"

"Seems I remember a notion about movin' the whole train at once," Mal rebuffed. "Won't take near as long as tryin' to manhandle every gun, which gives us a stab at movin' the lot of 'em before Carabella even realises it. Once you get us a starting point, prep the mule. The three of us will go and see what's goin' on at that quarry."

"Uh, Mal..." Wash said tersely, looking up from the deck. "I hate to be a wet blanket, but the mule kind of sacrificed itself to save you from Niska's Skyplex."

"I'll be sure to give it a proper memorial," Mal forged on without missing a beat. "We'll take Shuttle Two, then. Zoe, ship's yours till we get back. If you hear from Inara, call me right away. She's in a bad spot right now and I don't want Carabella scratchin' her if he starts to get itchy."

"You know Inara, sir," Zoe objected respectfully. "She's mighty tight-lipped about her contacts."

Mal nodded wordlessly: indeed he was painfully aware of Inara's sense of privacy. However, he also knew that it would prove even worse for her if something went wrong. "I know," he said, unfolding his arms. "But if Carabella gets wise to us, privacy's gonna be the least of her worries. All right, let's get to work. I want to be ready to roll tomorrow afternoon."

The crew separated for the second time that day, but went about their duties with renewed vigour: the job was plainly spread in front of them and the solution to the mystery was nigh. Listening to the resumption of hustle and bustle spreading from the dining area out to the rest of the ship, Mal remained leaning against the bulkhead, watching Wash and Robert duck through the doorway into the foredeck. His mind drifted away from the dining area, alit from Serenity, broke free of atmo: back it wandered to Boros, to one of the precious few lulls in Alliance bombardments on the Independent bastions. There was Eric Berakis, no-nonsense steely-eyed manner and all, making no bones about his willingness to lay down his life for God and country. No matter anybody else's claims, Mal maintained that the corporal's valour in the face of certain death should share in the legend of brown-coated heroes systemwide. If Robert Berakis was at all his father's son, the dense fog surrounding this job might just be about to lift.

***

Robert took a few seconds' pause before following Wash onto the bridge – his gaze had been drawn, and rightly so, by the dazzling entrance to Kaylee's room. He drank in the sign and the surrounding lights with folded arms and a half-smiling face: he'd only known Kaylee for a month in the past two years, but anybody who knew her a third as well as he did could expect nothing less bright. Some things never changed, he thought with an amused shake of the head. Even if it wasn't always the most pleasant fact of life.

"Light at the end?"

He turned, almost starting at the sudden appearance of the slender, dark-haired girl beside him. "Come again?" he said quizzically.

"Sometimes the darkest path is the only path to take," River said. "The darkest ones are the only ones strong enough to take it – see who will bring them the light at its end."

"Well, you know what they say about the light at the end of the tunnel. Oncoming train and all that."

"What if you're running the train?" River smiled, cocking her head.

Robert's own half-grin was as detached as it was discomforted. "Now how would you know about that?" he queried.

"A little chickadee whispered in my ear. Smiled and laughed and lit a candle while the blackbirds cursed the darkness."

"Hm." Robert squinted, edging backward away from her. "Thanks for clarifying that."

"Well, at least she's not hurling all manner of medical instruments and containers at your head," Wash called down from the bridge. "I'm linked up, want to take a look?"

"Yeah." Nodding briefly to River, Robert turned around and marched crisply up the stairs to the bridge, trying to shake off his nervous feeling that the odd little girl was still watching him.

"What is she, diagonally parked in a parallel universe?" he muttered as he bent over the helm beside Wash.

"Something like that. Not to worry, though, she doesn't bite." Even as he spoke Wash was wondering if he should mention the butcher-knife episode.

"Ain't worried on that so much as what-all I'm gettin' myself into here."

"Well, take it from me, there's no call to fret, long as you do your part of the job and do it right. Mal and Zoe both survived Serenity Valley, and Mal didn't name the ship after it for no reason. You do wrong by Mal, you get fired, and if you do wrong by Zoe, you get fired at. But as long as you do your thing as you've been asked, won't bring yourself any trouble."

"Good to know," Robert said, taking a deep breath and tapping the map screen as it lit up with a satellite mosaic of the Napoli Mountains. "All right, here we go. Just hope that captain o' yourn knows how to get the impossible done."

"Any other place up there that could hide a whole train?"

"Uhhh...." Robert squinted, wracking his memory of the lay of the pass for a possible hiding place, but Mal got to him a split second before clarity did.

"How we lookin'?" the captain broke in as he strode onto the bridge.

"Just gotta brush up on my land navigation and we're just about there," Wash said positively.

Mal leaned in between them, peering at the map screen. "Here's Yamenmiao Pass," Robert said, pointing at a red line running through the southern edge of the mountains. His finger trailed upward from the bottom of the pass, stopping at a point near what looked to be a low hump of a mountain peak. "The forest up there is thick as thieves till you hit Red Rock Junction. The quarry siding's here – pretty much the only track that still connects with the main, but it was a dead end even then."

Mal's right eye squinted imperceptibly. His finger rose and prodded at the screen, pointing out a barely discernible scar in the woods near the quarry siding. "What's this?" he asked.

"Just an old spur that runs off in the woods, but the switch got tore up about fifty years ago. No way the train could've been diverted onto it."

"So how exactly are we expecting to turn anything up around there?" Wash frowned.

"Think it's time we find out," Mal said. "But it could be we got a ways to search yet. Go on and get that shuttle prepped."

Nodding wordlessly, Wash arose, sidled past him and headed aft. Mal dropped into the pilot's seat after he had left: for some time he sat leaning back in the chair, eyes fixed on the map screen, staring at the area between the rail line and the low mountain peak. The train was there somewhere – Carabella believed it, Robert believed it, Robert's grandfather had believed it. No secret could stay kept indefinitely, so long as it still lurked in the deepest abscesses of one person's brain. Still, even though they had found as good a starting point as any, it didn't answer the prevailing question of where the Lickey Banker was hidden.

The questions were many and the answers were none.

"You know, Cap, Mr. Corsetto seems awful interested in that train for a guy who ain't got much reason to be," Robert mused. "Think he's got one after all?"

"Somethin' else is definitely gettin' played at here," Mal said distantly around his index finger. "Hell if I know what. But I'll damn well know by tomorrow night."

Continue to Part 6....

For those about to feed back, I salute you! ;)

COMMENTS

Monday, May 19, 2008 3:39 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


:) You are sweet to say those kind words!!

Robert is quite intriguing, but then I like orginal characters. It's a lot harder to write them in a world, that has already been made.

I love reading about Wash again. You do him perfectly and I miss him.

Overall, I love the continuing adventure. It is well written and suspenseful. I loved Wash telling Mal about the mule and its sacrifice. Very funny!!

Monday, May 19, 2008 5:23 AM

2X2


Heh, as soon as I left feedback about the Lickey Banker, I realized it was the train, silly me *G* But I'm sick - least, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it ;o)

I'm really enjoying this! The idea is great and Robert is a very interesting character, not that I fully trust him mind, but I liked the story of his father's heroic death.

And all things trainline/quarry related and such reads very real and natural, not like you've read a bunch of books and are quoting passages back at us to dazzle with your knowledge :o) Which is not to say you dont' dazzle with your knowledge, but not in a hit-me-over-the-head kinda way. It's a good thing :o)

Thouroughly caught up now, and excited for more!

Monday, May 19, 2008 9:42 PM

JANE0904


Just starting to get into this. good stuff.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 4:32 AM

MAL4PREZ


OK, I am loving the feel of wild west with the talk of trains and quarries and gun-toting bad guys. I can almost smell the desert-y mountain dust... And a whole disappearing train? That's a new one! I'm very curious to hear how you're going to explain that LOL! Can't be easy to make a whole train disappear and hide in the mountains! I kind of wish you'd left it a mag-whatever train, to keep with Firefly's mix of past setting and future technology. By whatever - maybe it's mecessary for your plot. No big.

The dialogue was fun. I was a little confused here and there but it was my own fault for not reading your earlier chapters. You caught me up to the full situation in the end. My curiousity is piqued - we're in for a fun ride, I think!

There was only one thing that sat with me wrong - the line of Wash's that starts with "Well, take it from me, there's no call to fret..." It's too cowspeak. I hear Kaylee saying it, not Wash. Maybe you wrote it for Kaylee then changed it to Wash without adjusting the verbage? (I do that kind of thing a lot.) It was odd, since you're usually spot on with the voices.

Speaking of which - I love how Mal read Robert. The good father figure Sergeant came out for a minute there. Cool.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 4:25 PM

KATESFRIEND


Quite an adventure you're setting up here - lots of background and promises of future action. Very well planned storyline and lots of possible choices in which way to go. Looking forward to more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 4:00 AM

AMDOBELL


Big relief finding out that Robert isn't a bad guy after all, and it was moving the way Mal told him how his father died. I am curious about that broken off spur where a line would have gone off into the woods. I also am thinking that Ray should have furnished Mal with some men to help him. I don't like how he has given them a seemingly impossible, not to say deadly, task yet no back up and no funds. Also, how is Inara faring? Don't like to think of her in that mobman's hands even figuratively. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


POST YOUR COMMENTS

You must log in to post comments.

YOUR OPTIONS

OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR

Where They Don't Follow (Prologue)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 2, Prologue. Roughly six months after 'The Guns of Yamenmiao', Inara says her final farewells before Serenity returns to Roma on a new job. This time, Mal's treasure quest must run the gamut of a not-quite-right scientist, a nameless, ruthless privateer, and a deeper penetration of the Alliance than Mal has ever attempted before.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Epilogue)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Epilogue. Kaylee and Serenity are once again flying. Mal and Inara are once again at odds.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 16)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 16. The crew reaches the end of the line, only to find out that the confrontations - and the mystery of the ghost train - are by no means finished.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 15)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 15. The stakes are no less than Inara's life when Mal commences the last fiery showdown.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 14)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 14. Mal has a trainload of destruction behind him and a passel of violent criminals ahead, holding Inara hostage. With no backup, how can he emerge victorious without destroying himself and his crew?

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 13)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 13. Mal's cover is altogether blown, and he must figure out how to keep the mission from going south - but he has only one dangerous way to get the word out.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 12)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 12. Tensions mount on the Yamenmiao expedition, coming to a head when Mal enters exactly the dire strait he feared the worst.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 11)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 11. The crew finds that their venture to recover the train is not without its unspoken fear of grievous injuries or death - but River finds herself concerned by something altogether different.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 10)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 10. The train has been found, the plan has been made, and Mal and the crew are all set to head out and put it into action - before an unexpected hitch forces them to act far faster than hoped.

The Guns of Yamenmiao (Pt. 9)
The Old That Is Strong - Book 1, Part 9. Mal and company at last reach their objective, only to learn what a true horror they've uncovered....


OUR SPONSORS