Lilac Syndrome: Chapter 15
Sunday, June 1, 2008

The New Haven Series; Post BDM; M/I, S/K: The captains get what they want and Mal finds out what makes Virgil the best.


"I got it!" Sterling called out, everyone else looking up at him, Wren coming from the front. Emma had opened a safe to find a small treasury, and the two younger found people ready to be sold off to slavers or bawds locked in one of the sea trains.

"Where?" Fiyero turned as the women and children fled, he and River had told them to run and never look back nor speak of their goodwill.

"Well I coodun't find records, but 'ere in the videeo feed." He pointed to one of the cargo bay ship camera's he had zoomed in on some crates, the labels stating they were pharmaceuticals.

"The Mercurian Wind." River looked to another feed, and pressed her finger to the glass. "There. Aught-Two Firefly. Eavesdown Docks" Sheathing her weapon, she turned around and jogged off towards the entrance.

"You heard the lady." Fiyero followed as the others filed in behind.

Sterling caught a glimpse at the safe and scuttled over. "Well now." He crouched and grabbed a few few bags of platinum coins. Looking around to make sure no one was looking, he tucked them in his jacket.

He was a pirate after all.


Inara's heart raced as she walked into the restaurant with Badger.

The anticipation was mind wracking as she made her way with Badger towards the velvet drapes. Gershwin's Prelude in C# Minor was playing beyond the curtain, and what made it even worse was her escort's smile and his blind assumption everything was alright.

Badger pulled back the curtain. "Afta you Miss. Serra." He followed closely, yet froze in his steps.

Virgil East and Malcolm Reynolds were sitting at their table. East had his boots propped up on the table, sifter of cognac in his hand as a partially smoked cigar rested in an ashtray next to the plate of eaten food. Reynolds sat there, his plate clean as well with a half drank glass nearby, smiling like a cheshire. Scattered on the floor were his lifeless waiters, pianist and bartender, the smell of death was beginning to linger off of their cold, grey skin.

The piano stopped, and Simon turned around with his pistol.

Genevieve and Pike came out from opposite corners.

Roxy lifted her rifle onto the bar.

Jayne got out of the chair and pointed Vera at Badger, taking a swill of beer (he figured it was best not to drink too heavy on the job, he was probably going to have to fire at something).

Inara pulled her gun and pressed it against his side.

Badger looked at her, stunned, as she backed away. Slowly his face began to glower, seethe at the treachery. His teeth bared, and his voice came viciously. "I knew it." His eyes darted to Mal and Virgil. "Reynolds, you hou dan jiao-gen. When I..."

"Oh, you don't want to even bother insultin' me." Mal interrupted. It had taken him awhile to be so relaxed, as such particular moments were often done standing with a gun tense and waiting in his hand. But Virgil was a man of certain style, and since the day Mal had known him, was as cool as a popsicle on St. Albans when it came to broaching situations such as this. It wasn’t his particular style, but it felt a sight better then the way the last bit of crime they had pulled had ended. He did admit, he felt concern for Inara’s position as she came towards him. "Best fixate those beady eyes on the person to my left." Inara walked over and stood next to him. He looked to her as she put her gun away, able to relieve himself of his concern. "How'd it go?"

"According to plan." She cleansed herself with a deep breath, resting a hand on his shoulder.

“Good.” He reached up and squeezed her hand, the touch lasted for but a moment, and his hands slipped and folded accordingly in his lap. “Now get behind me.”


River looked at the aught-two.

It was a little smaller than an aught-three, stockier, but it wasn't unattractive at all. As a fan of the Firefly design, she liked the ship. But critiquing and enjoying the finer points of spaceships wasn't what they were going to do as they lingered around the Good Dogs food vender, loitering and watching the ship with their cargo. The scrappy little dogs in cages yelping with pleading eyes for freedom and chickens clustered and pecked at the dirt for scraps of bread the canine meat was sandwiched between.

"So what are we doing?" Fiyero asked in a low voice, scuffing his boot to the dirt, he accidently booted a chicken, making it and several others cackle and flutter. He jumped back instinctively.

"We're taking the ship."

River's voice led all eyes on her, and she was firm in her suggestion. "Wren flies, I play mechanic."

Sterling rubbed his mouth for a moment, human eye shifty and skeptical. "Ya sure ya can dew it Miss River?"

You can glean Kaylee if you must.

River didn't know if she could, there was quite a distance.

You can do it. You're strong enough, you just need to focus

With the boost of encouragement from the mental voice of Emma, she nodded her head. "I can, you can help."

Sterling knitted his brows.

She rolled her eyes at him and his lack of catching on. "You can talk to the ship?"

"Well I dunno about talkin' ta it, but I's can interface."


"Nice to finally see you face to face, Badger." Virgil took another sip, the light dim and the fire of candles casting a devilish silhouette on one side of his face, his burnt umber eyes seeming to flicker themselves. "You know who I am?"

The fink paled at the thought, his Adam's apple bobbed, and his skin blanched like old parchment. He looked to Inara, who was standing next to the pianist and was blocked by Jayne. His eyes told her she was traitorous concubine before they went back to East.

"Now, first of all, I'd like to thank you for this lovely meal. Personally I've had better veal, but the foie gras was superb." He began sincerely, yet his gaze became overwhelmed with darkness, a dark rumble of anger. "However my kindness climaxes there and takes a rather steep drop. You see, we need to talk as business men."

Badger wet his lips, his eyes looking for something, anything. His eyes kept finding his slaughtered men, stiff on the floor with their complexion that of ash. That drove fear into his bones. The security cameras weren't working or something, because the local authorities should have been crawling all over the restaurant and a ten block radius.

"People are dead, Badger, because you didn't practice good business, and no one's gonna save you this time." Virgil didn't move as he reached into his coat and pulled out his gun, resting it and his hand on his inclined leg in non-chalance. "Now, you need to understand, I'm a business man too. I ain't some corn fed war boy who went off, bought a ship and decided to call himself captain." He turned to Mal. "No offense."

"None taken." Mal responded tightly.

"I was a captain in the war, and afterwards I turned into an entrepreneur. Like you, I am in the people business." He pointed with his free hand to his chest. "I do jobs, I then trade so the product gets to people and help people, I also own a few establishments that cater to needs. I'm all about people and providing for their needs Badger, I'm an honest laissez-faire businessman, I treat people well and they treat me well. Except for you." He pointed to the smaller man with the barrel of his gun. "You didn't treat me well. Instead of being honest and good to your word, you poached me. People don't poach me, cause I gotta good reputation, and I gotta bad reputation. And I make examples out of those people that think they can take advantage of me." He pulled the pin back on his gun and put it level to the space betwixt Badger's eyes. "So due to your transgressions I'll be killin' ya, and taking whatever of value you have. A good example will be made, I'll be reimbursed and the galaxy will be put back in order."


Most of the crew had walked away from The Mercurian Wind.

Sterling led the way inside, and no one was there to object their intrusion as Wren drove the hovermule in and Fiyero was last and hit the switch for the cargo bay doors to the close. The interior was smaller than an aught-three, yet still with ample room as they fanned out.

Someone came out of the engine room.

River head butted them, then seized their arm and dislocated it. The man crumpled to the ground with a ground, and she calmy walked over their body.


"Mal," Badger sweated out, his fingers twitching as he gave a weak smile. "Mal, ya can't let 'em do this ta me."

"Who was it that called the feds on me?" Mal baffled, glancing back at Inara. "You remember that? Right? No wait... I'm sorry that was four years back, you weren't with me then, how silly of me."

"Mal, that weren't me I swear!"

Mal further talked to Inara. "How many times did he not pay us for a job? Particularly that last job that nearly left us broke 'n starvin' right after Miranda."

"Kaylee got sick, all of the stress." Inara remembered vividly, Kaylee wasn't built for skipping meals as her enormous amounts of sunshine took adequate calories, and the strain on her body from exhausted food and water rations and working hard to keep Serenity from crashing had cost her.

"Didn't eat fer two days." Jayne grumbled as he and his cast iron stomach recalled that all too easily. "Not till we settled." That too was also true, he had gone out and hunted immediately after they had touched down. A buffalo had kept the freezer packed and their bellies full until they had been able to barter work for groceries.

"I'm so sorree about that! I'll make i' up to ya, swear I will anythin' ya wish." Badger seemed fit to cry, his face was beet red.

"I'm pretty shiny where I sit right now." Mal announced.

"You can't lettim..."

"Four years you've brought me trouble and less pay than you advertised. I got honestly no qualms."

"Come on Mal, what ar' ol' friends...."

"Ba bai-dao ni zai pin-zhong dai de nong." Virgil commanded in a voice that was simple, middle range, yet carrying a heinous edge. He set his feet down on the floor to plant himself and straigthen his spine, making him look even taller and more intimadating.

Badger turned to East. "You don't 'aveta kill me East! Look, we can wurk all this out!" He stumbled forward, eyes streaming with pathetic tears. "Please... give me another chaunce! I'm so sorree!" Shaking, he dropped to his knees and groveled in front of Virgil's chair. "Please... please... I'll... I'll foreva be 'n your debt! You can 'ave all of it! I'll wurk for you! Cai yu wo yi ji-hui!" His hands clawed at the chairs legs as he gasped for air. “I got family.” Virgil's gun had followed him, and the cool metal pushed flush against his forehead, making Diggory Badger shiver and sob uncontrollably, his words becoming jumbled vowels and squeaks.

Mal swallowed the thick pity in the back of his throat. He knew what he would do in such a situation, a second chance. More like a seventieth chance for Badger, but still, he would give mercy to such a contemptible, snot faced little toad.

Inara felt sick to her stomach, she glanced at Simon, who was watching in horror as Badger's tear stricken voice cried out for clemency.

Jayne's lip twitched. He felt bad for the knave, but if it were him he'd let him have one last drink before popping him in the head with lead.

Pike squinted, obviously slightly disturbed. He was Core man, and he had never adjusted to such practices.

Roxy knocked something back in a shot glass and sucked air through her teeth. Unmoved, she practiced blowing 'O's on her hundred bit cigar.

Genevieve was a statue.


Emma threw the remaining crew members, bound and gagged, into a passenger bunk, that she in turn had Sterling come over.

His metal arm swung back and a blue stream of fire came out of a nozzle. Welding the door to the frame, he turned and nodded his head in approval as the engine rattled to full capacity. There was a jolt, and both of them braced themselves on a wall. "Ting sounds as bawd as me ah'fter a cortex virus." He grimaced.

Emma looked to the engine room and left, heading up to the cramped space were River as giving Fiyero rushed, half sensical instructions. Without asking, she threw a switch, and the ship stopped rattling.

River stared at her, overwhelmed as reading Kaylee from so far away was taxing.

I can read her, as can you, now stop and relax. Cleanse your mind of all other thoughts and focus.

The Tam girl hesitated.

"I need lift." Wren's voice crackled over the com.

Emma turned and began to adjust the intake. Concentrate, I'll assist.


"YI... Yi wo qi de ni." He gripped the chair's legs, his eyes wide and pouring tears that shimmered in the low light. Gasping for breath, face red in anguish, he rested the side of his head against East's pant leg as if he were a dog seeking attention from the master. The muzzled was still pressed against his head as he gritted his teeth. "'Ave mercy... 'ave mercy..."

Virgil had not lost his indifference the entire time, and had the look of someone that had found dirt under his fingernails across his dark features. He glanced to Mal, Inara, the crew, and read their emotions. With the flick of his wrist the gun pulled up and the muzzle pointed safely to the sky.

Badger let out his breath and collapsed, his head falling onto the carpet. "Bless y..."

"Mal, Inara, Genevieve, Simon, Pike, Jayne, Roxy." Virgil said efficiently. "I want you to leave this place."

Badger looked up from his puddle of tears, sweat and mucus on the carpet. His face was stricken with fear.


Taking a deep breath, River concentrated.

Everything. Everything and nothing at the same time, that was the world, that was her process. Break the cycle. Break the cycle and break the mold. Out of the mold would be a new River. Better River. Real River. Wanted so badly to be a real River. But reality was hard to grasp. Reality came at once and not at all. Twisted and tangled. Never clear, never tangible. Always invading. Always hard to sort out. Sound normal. Sound real. Be real. Push it away. All away. Focus.

Focus on one, not all. Singular. She could do it. Stronger than before. Long distance call. One line.

River's eyes snapped open as she could feel it.


She reached over and told hold of the situation.

Emma stepped back, and for the first time, smiled at River.


Genevieve stepped forward while Mal and most of his crew were in shock. "Sir."

"I take it he has a vehicle outside. I want you to procure it and wait for me. No questions."

Mal stood up, his face tight and hollow towards what his old friend was about to do. As the others filed out, some with loot, he lingered behind with eyes that were a blazing blue. "Virg..."

"Mal, this is why I'm the best." He said soberly, Badger shaking and cowering at his feet, a sharp smell in the air as the man on the ground defiled himself. "I don't falter..."

""Ave a heart... please..." Badger reached for something in his jacket.

Virgil saw and replied to both of them. "I gave mine up a while back." He turned quickly to Mal with a unwavering glare as a final warning.

The other captain looked down at Badger, and walked to the drapes.

"Mal... Mal please..." Badger whimpered, his fingers around the knife in his jacket.He didn't have a gun, he couldn't fire the damn things, that was hat lackeys were for. He had gotten through lockup being fancy with a blade as well as his tongue. With a quick strike it jabbed into into Virgil's calf.

Mal whipped around and skinned his piece.

Virgil slammed the cognac bottle onto Badger's head as his leg jerked back. "No Mal." Calmly, as Badger lay there, swimming in cognac, he reached down, bared his teeth and pulled out the knife. Looking at it, the glint dulled by his own blood, the captain tossed it on his plate and took out a handkerchief. "It's just a hiccup." He bent, pulled up his pantleg to see where the leather of his boot had been punctured and blood oozed out. Above it he tied a tournequet to staunch the bleeding, rolling the pantleg back down as if it were a kitten's scratch.

Badger moaned on the ground as his face was scratched by glass and his brain was foggy.

"Best get a move on, friend." Virgil prompted with a tone that meant what he was about to do was unwatchable.

Mal pulled the drape back, telling himself he was getting his meds and Virgil was getting what he wanted. Before he could slip out, he caught the glimpse of East rising out of his chair with a favor to his left leg and swiftly kicking Badger under the jaw with the right. The sound of teeth clipping together and a body falling backwards filled the air as he left the room with heavy, forced steps.

"A knife? I must say... you and I are gonna have a very short but very imperative chat..."

"I'm sorree!" Badger choked out, his voice muffled and liquidy, vocal evidence of blood pooling and spilling out of his mouth from the blow that had to have destroyed teeth.

Mal shut his eyes for a moment as he walked quickly to the door.


As the employed crew of Diggory Badger ran to the empty dock slip, shouting at the heavens, The Mercurian wind soared off.


Mal walked to the large hovercraft.

Badger hadn't skimped, the white vehicle was an enormous piece of parts, enamel paint, chrome and tan leather. Genevieve sat in the driver's seat, her hands knuckling the inlaid wood steering wheel as she watched him come over. The sunroom was open, and Jayne and Roxy were sitting under it as Pike, Simon and Inara took to the ample third row of seats.

"Where's the driver?" He asked, opening the front passenger door and climbing in.

"In the trunk." Jayne replied.

"Oh, well..."

The loud gunshot from inside of the Seine froze their blood.

Simon let out a heavy breath as Inara gazed down at her hands and Pike clenched his back teeth.

Mal exhaled noisily out his nose and looked to Genevieve with a face that hardened to hide his objection towards Virgil's ideology.

Virgil came out, walking briskly yet with a limp as he neared the hovercraft and climbed in the middle seat. Hitting a button, the door closed on it's own.

"You good?" Genevieve asked, partially concerned by his gate.

"The 'Verse is back in order, but we may need to step on it." He dimissed her concern with his injury all together. Getting away came before tending to his leg.

"Overstayed our welcome?" Mal asked as the hovercraft purred and Genevieve threw it in gear.

"I think so." Virgil exhaled, as if he was disappointed with such a quick departure. "Somebody definitely heard that, there are people in refrigerator trying to get out and the little worm had a emergency ring on his finger. Hit the button and called the feds."

Serenity's crew gawked.

Sirens came off of the overpass.

"Excuse me?" Mal blurted.

*** *** *** TRANSLATIONS/DEFINITIONS hou dan jiao-gen: Back birthed heel

Ba bai-dao ni zai pin-zhong dai de nong: quit groveling you inbred sack of pus

Cai yu wo yi ji-hui~: Just give me a chance!

YI... Yi wo qi de ni: PLEASE... please I beg of you

****As always, the writer appreciates all comments whether they be positive, negative, or suggestions.**


Monday, June 2, 2008 6:12 AM


Now, this is fascinating. It shows the entire difference between a bad man who can be a little moral - Virgil - and a good man who has to do what he can to survive - Mal. All in all, I'd rather be with Mal. But you've written this very well, and maybe Virgil is the way a man has to be to live out on the Rim, and Mal's just lucky.

Monday, June 2, 2008 12:58 PM


I think this may be one of your best chapters. Like the show, you present Mal with realistic moral dilemma scenarios. This has grown into an interesting take on Mal and Inara post BDM because she is getting drawn into the very life Mal wanted to keep her from. Plausible and unfortunate, sounds like Firefly to me.


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