Out To The Black --- Chapter 18
Thursday, June 26, 2008

Serenity and Free Bird approach Kaylee's home moon. Unfortunately, someone is waiting for them...


Out to the black Chapter 18

Disclaimer: Joss, Fox, Universal Own em’. I’m just playing. No money being made.

This is my first Fan Fiction ever. Constructive reviews are shiny.

This fic takes place two years after Serenity (BDM) and has the established couples of Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara, Zoë/OC and a budding Jayne/River romance.

A/N Get the hankies out folks… Get’s kinda bumpy.

Out to the black

Chapter Eighteen – Re-entry

Zoë entered Free Birds small bridge. Looking for Allan, she spotted the bottom of his sneakers protruding from an open access panel between the two pilot seats. After several minutes of waiting, Zoë lightly kicked one of Allan’s feet. Startled, the engineer jumped.

“Ow! Son of a…”

“You avoiding me?” Zoë asked.

“Zoë?” came the muffled reply.

“Yep, now get up here I ain’t talking to your feet.”

“Just a sec.”

Slowly Allan wiggled himself out of the opening. Once he had extracted himself, he sat on the floor, leaning against the pilots seat. Flashing Zoë a boyish Grin.

“Hey beautiful,” He said, still grinning.

“Don’t you hey beautiful me… I asked you a question.”

Allan’s face fell. Looking into Zoë’s eyes he could tell she wasn’t very happy with him, “Could you please repeat the question?” he said quietly.

Zoë stared hard at him, “I said, are you avoiding me?”

Relief showed on Allan’s face, “Sorry Zoë, I haven’t been avoiding you. Well at least not on purpose.”

“Not on purpose?”

Allan sighed, “I’m a bit of a workaholic. If I get involved in a project, particularly if I’m working mostly by myself, I kind of forget to stop working. Usually I end up skipping meals and talking to people.”

Zoë still looked at him skeptically, “And?”

Standing up, Allan stepped close to Zoë, “And… I’m an idiot. I’ve been avoiding the most beautiful woman on the ship.”

“Leave Inara out of this.”


Zoë tried to hold the angry expression on her face. Conceding defeat, she smiled.

“You really think I’m the most beautiful woman on the ship huh?”

“I think,” Allan said as he pulled Zoë into his arms, “You are the most beautiful woman in the ‘verse.”

“Well if you say it that way, I suppose I could let you off the hook this once,” Zoë said, just before kissing Allan.

As if on cue, Kaylee entered the bridge, “Hey Allan, can you come look at… Oops!”

Allan groaned and Zoë started to laugh, “Great timing as usual Mei-mei,” Zoë said.

“Don’t mind little ole’ me, jes’ pretend I ain’t here,” the mechanic said with a grin.

The moment totally lost, Zoë pulled out of Allan’s arms with a look in her eyes that seemed to say, “Later, you’re mine” Allan sighed, “What did you need Kaylee?”

“Oh… well I finished modifyin’ your suit radio ta’ be compatible with ours. But this weird kinda raft thing fell outta the storage locker and I can’t get it back in.”

“Raft? Oh… the aero shell,” Allan replied.

“Aero what?” Kaylee asked.

“Aero shell,” Allan answered, it’s kind of a life raft for space. If your ship can’t re enter, you put on a suit, take it with you outside and it inflates with ablative foam. Makes it a one-time use heat shield. It has a small retro rocket and whoever rides it down lands with a parachute.

“Zoë looked skeptical, “And this thing works?”

“Well, in theory…” Allan said. “The numbers all work on the computer simulations I did. I haven’t really done a full up test on it…” Allan trailed off.

“Sounds interestin’,” Kaylee said, doubt in her voice.

“Well, I only built it as a last ditch safety system when I was doing flight test’s on Free Bird back on Earth,” Allan said as he shoved the large container back in the storage cabinet.

Allan looked at his watch, “Wow, almost time for supper.”

“And it’s your turn to cook too,” Zoë said, “That’s why I came up here in the first place.”

“See what did I tell you, I forget stuff like that when I’m working.”

“I do that too,” Kaylee admitted, “but Simon usually drags me off fer meals.”

Allan smiled, “Well if you two lovely ladies would like to accompany me back to Serenity, I’ll see what I can whip up for Supper tonight.”

“Deal,” Kaylee giggled as the trio descended through the tunnel linking Free Bird and Serenity.


“They’re late,” the Captain of the old corvette, complained.

“They’ll be along Pa’,” the young blonde pilot replied, “You know how them salvage jobs go, stuff happens.”

“You better be right Wes, we burned a lot of fuel to get here, if we don’t find that damn firefly and get them women, the cost is commin outta your pay.”

“Don’t worry Pa’, they’ll be along… I got a feelin.”


After supper the entire crew had gathered in the common area. Kaylee had broken out the engine wine and everyone was in a good mood. Simon and Mal had become more accepting of Jayne and River being a couple over the last few days.

Even Mal had noticed the change in Jayne. The big man looked more relaxed than the Captain had ever seen him. Even Simon had broken out of his depression about the pairing. He and Kaylee were snuggling on the sofa. Mal sat in one of the easy chairs while Inara leaned against him from her perch on the arm.

River sat in Jayne’s lap, the mercenary’s guitar in her hands. Allan and Zoë sat close together on the coffee table, Allan also with his guitar. As the music and wine flowed, the family that was Serenity healed the wounds from days previous.

About 11:00 Mal reluctantly brought the party to a close. Citing the fact they were scheduled to make landfall on Kelly in the morning.

The crew made their way to their respective bunks, Zoë lingered a moment looking at Allan who seemed deep in thought, “You okay Baby?”

Allan smiled. That was the first time Zoë had called him a pet name, “Fine, just hard for the engineer in my head to shut off. Just going over things for the landing tomorrow.”

“Sure you don’t want me to fly second seat with you?”

Allan shook his head, “I’ll be fine, I designed her to fly with just one. Besides they’ll be plenty of time for me to teach you how to fly Free Bird. However I did promise River first dibs on flying lessons.”

“So I’m second fiddle huh?” Zoë said teasingly.

Allan pretended to look hurt, “I promised that if she taught me to fly Serenity, I’d teach her how to Fly Free Bird and I always keep my promises”

“Best you do,” Zoë said as she kissed Allan, “I best be off to bed, busy day in the mornin.”

“Night Zoë,” Allan said with a warm smile.

“Night Baby,” Zoë called over her shoulder as she climbed the stairs heading for her bunk.

Watching her go, Allan thought to himself, “Damn, I bet she’d look spectacular in a slinky dress.”

Allan headed for his bunk, the mental image of Zoë in a slinky black dress in his thoughts.


The next morning, Allan awoke early, glad he hadn’t indulged that heavily in Kaylee’s engine wine. Opening his strongbox Allan brought out the small case holding the gemstones he had brought with him from Earth. Allan picked out three stones and put them in a small plastic bag. A smile on his face, Allan put the bag in his pocket, and exited his room. Looking for Simon, he found his quarry just exiting the Infirmary.

“Morning Simon.”

“Good Morning Allan,” the young doctor replied.

“Simon… I want to apologize for the other day when I slammed you down on the table.”

“Please Allan, there is no need. I was being a fool.”

“Well I want to make it up to you anyway… Uh, have you bought Kaylee a ring yet? I know she’s been bugging you about that…” Allan trailed off.

“That obvious huh?”


“I… I want to ask her to marry me, but I really can’t afford to buy a ring just yet. This is frustrating. Before I got River out of the Academy, I was quite well off. And we both grew up wealthy. Now…”

Reaching into his pocket, Allan pulled out the small clear bag, “Maybe I can help with that Simon,” he said, smiling.

Simon’s jaw nearly hit the floor when he saw what was in the bag. Inside was a diamond of at least two carats as well as two rubies half that size.

“Allan, I simply cannot accept…”

Allan held up his hand, “Nonsense Simon. Consider this an early wedding present. And this,” Allan said, producing a five hundred credit banknote, “Should more than enough to cover a jeweler setting the stones in a ring. Since Kaylee loves strawberries, I thought the ruby’s were appropriate.”


“Say thank you Allan”

“Thank you Allan,” Simon parroted.

“You’re welcome…”

Allan couldn’t finish he reply as Serenity’s entire structure suddenly shook violently.

“What the hell was that?” Allan exclaimed.

River’s frightened voice over the com gave him his answer.

“Captain, Zoë! Come to the bridge, we’re taking fire!”


Allan entered the bridge in time to hear Mal yell at someone on the cortex.

“You Wang bao dahn! What are you doin’ firin on my ship!”

“Like I told that little tramp you call a pilot, shut down now and I won’t blow you out of space.”

“What do you want?” Mal asked. His face contorted with anger.

“Simple Captain. Your ship and your women, anything else is… excess baggage.”

“You expect me to simply let you waltz on my ship and take what you want?”

“If you want them women to live, if not, well I guess I can make my money on the salvage of your ship’s wreckage… Your choice Captain. I’ll give you five minutes.”

The cortex screen went black. Mal looked at his crew, “I don’t intend to give him what he wants. Albatross, Can we outrun him?”

“No, that ship is twelve percent faster than Serenity, and with Free Bird docked, we do not have the maneuverability to dodge fire.”

Mal looked at the older man the tension clearly showing, “Allan I hate to say it but we need to dump your ship… I’m sorry.”

Allan shook his head, “I’ve got a better idea Mal, Let’s give him two ships to worry about.”

“What do you mean?”

“I break off in Free Bird, Serenity goes to full burn, I drop in on his ass and lock him up with my radar, I may not have anything to shoot him with but he doesn’t know that.”

“Might work, But…”

“No time Mal, we got about two an a half minutes left.”


Allan turned to leave, stopping suddenly he kissed Zoë, “I’ll finish that when I get back.”

“Be careful,” Zoë said, concern in her voice.


Allan made it into Free Bird in just under a minute. Hitting the emergency start button, systems came online in seconds.

“River you copy?”

“Go ahead Allan.”

“On my count, go full burn and start jinking.”


The cortex screen lit back up, “Time’s up Captain. What is your decision?”

“Uh, well there’s a hitch…”

“Three,” Allan said as he shut down the electromagnets in Free Bird’s landing gear.

“What’s that Captain?” the pirate/slaver Captain asked.

“Two.” Free Bird gently thrusted up away from Serenity slightly, landing gear retracting.

“You can go to hell.”

“ONE! Go River go!”

Serenity shot forward, accelerating away from the pirate ship. Caught by surprise, the pirate ship took a moment to start the pursuit. Meanwhile Allan had pulled away from Serenity, pulling the smaller ship into a graceful loop over the back of the pirate ship trailing the tattered remains of the pressure tunnel that had connected the ships.

River opened her mind as she flew Serenity, her mind feeling for the gunners on the pirate ship. Sensing when they were about to fire their guns, she would quickly jerk Serenity out of the line of fire.

Allan fell in behind the pursuing ship, it’s engine’s glow illuminating Free Bird’s bridge. Allan activated his radar, locking onto the ship in front of him. The response was almost immediate.

“Pa’ we’re locked up, the other ships behind us,” Wes called out.

“Evasive boy, evasive!”

The pirate’s old corvette began to maneuver, further throwing off the aim of the gunner’s trying to hit Serenity. Allan stayed with them easily.

“How we doin ‘Tross?” Mal asked anxiously.

“Allan’s plan is working, he is distracting them.” River said tersely, concentrating on feeling the gunner’s and flying Serenity.

Zoë had taken over the co pilot’s position to work the sensors, “Sir, at this speed we’re ten minutes from atmo on Kelly.”

“Enough o’ this go-se,” the pirate captain growled, “Fire the missiles and blow that heap outta the sky!”

“Captain!” River cried, “Missile lock!”

“Two inbound, impact in… ninety five seconds,” Zoë said, voice eerily calm.

“Kaylee! Give me everything you can!” Mal called into the com.

“We’re 110% now Capn’. Any more an she’ll blow!” Came the reply.

“Eighty seconds,” Zoë said quietly.

Allan saw the missiles launch. A growl in his throat, he shoved Free Bird’s throttles to the stops. Disabling the safety systems he brought his ships radion core engine to 120% power and adding in the thrust of the fusion engines, Free Bird roared past the pirate ship less than fifty feet away in pursuit of the missiles.

“Come on girl, you can do it,” Allan urged his ship. Free bird rapidly gained on the missiles. Serenity was visible to the naked eye now, about four miles ahead of Free Bird, the missiles’ only a few hundred yards in front of the smaller ship. Allan noticed that Kelly was getting rather large as well, they were almost in high orbit.

“River, you copy?”

“Go,” she said quickly.

“When I tell you, kill your burn.”


“Kill the burn and when I tell you, hit the gas again… trust me Kiddo.”

Allan pulled ahead of the missiles, his finger hovering over the button that activated the missile countermeasures mounted between Free Bird’s engines.

“River, get ready…”

“Now!” Allan shouted into the com. Simultaneously he killed Free Bird’s engines and triggered the countermeasures. Magnesium flares and metal foil chaff exploded from Free Bird’s aft end…

Serenity’s engine fell silent at Allan’s order. Everyone on board held their breath.

“Come on you electronic pieces of junk, got a big fat target right in front of you…”Allan whispered out loud, Come on, come on, come on…”

Free Birds missile warning system suddenly screamed its alarm.

“Yes! River go!”

Serenity and Free bird shot forward, Allan pulling Free Bird into a shallow turn, missiles in tow.

“What do you mean the missiles aren’t tracking the firefly!” the pirate captain thundered, “Those were our last two missiles! Close back to gun range, I want that ship. And that damn ship that pulled off the missiles.”

Allan saw the corvette accelerate back after Serenity as he pulled abeam going the opposite direction, less than five miles away.

“Okay assholes, let’s give you a taste of your own medicine,” Allan growled as he tightened his turn, heading for the aft end of the pirate ship.

“Zoë, where’s Free Bird?” Mal asked, concern in his voice.

“Coming about, heading back for the pirates,” Zoë said, fear showing on her face for the first time, “he can’t be planning to do what I think he is?”

“He is,” River said, her eyes beginning to moisten.

“Allan!” Zoë’s voice came across the com.

“Hey Baby,”

“Don’t you hey Baby me, what the hell are you doin?”

“Just cleaning up the trash… Be with ya in a bit,” Allan’s voice was icily calm

“You better be.”

“I always keep my promises. Getting kinda busy here, call you back in a minute.”

Allan was now two miles behind the corvette and gaining quickly, the missiles just one hundred yards behind him.

Collision alarms screaming, Allan cut Free Bird’s engines and popped the flares and chaff for a second time as he thundered by the corvette even closer than he had the first time…

The missiles deprived of a target momentarily by the chaff and flares, continued on their previous course…

Allan had just cleared the length of the corvette when the missiles struck the larger ships engines…

The explosion ripped the pirate’s corvette stem to stern, throwing debris in all directions. The fireball was huge…

In the center of that maelstrom of fire and jagged metal was Free Bird…


All that could be seen from Serenity was the explosion. River swung the transport around, headed back in the direction of the explosion.

Allan’s consciousness returned slowly. At first his ears were assaulted by the sound of nearly every warning system on Free Bird. The one that got his immediate attention were three simple words spoken by the computer, repeating over and over…


Allan’s eyes shot open, smoke hung in the cabin and several panels were shooting sparks. The smoke seemed to be drifting aft out of the bridge. Allan coughed, the overpowering smell of burned insulation heavy in his lungs. Throwing off his seat belt’s Allan heaved himself out of the pilots seat. Almost as an afterthought he tried the com.

“Serenity, you copy?”

“Serenity, you copy?” he said again.


Allan painfully made his way aft to the airlock. He felt like some one had put him inside a bag and then beat him with sticks… everything hurt. Allan’s ears popped “Gotta get my suit on, cabin’s dumping quick,” he said out loud, voice rough from the smoke.

Allan’s vision began to blur and he noticed his nail beds were beginning to get blue. He had to hurry. Finally Allan sealed his helmet. The rush of pure oxygen making his head spin for a moment. Allan made his way back to the bridge just before the cabin pressure hit zero.

Looking out the windows actually made Allan dizzy. The ship was tumbling on all three axes. Allan, tried the auto recovery switch… nothing, climbing back into the seat, he tried the manual controls. Still nothing. Outside, Allan noticed that Kelly was close, too close and getting closer by the second.

Keying up his suit com, Allan tried again, “Serenity, you copy?”


“Tross, anything,” Mal asked his pilot.

“Nothing on sensors,” she said. I can’t feel him either, there’s too much emotion on the ship, blocking it out.”

“Keep looking River, all we can do for the moment,” Looking to his first mate, Mal inquired, “Zoë?”

“I’m fine sir.”

Mal shuddered. She’d said it in the same cold voice she had used after Wash had died back on Mr. Universes moon. “Not again, please not again,” Mal thought, “I don’t think Zoë can do this twice.”

Static and a faint voice broke over the overhead speaker…

“Ser…ty, you… py?”

Mal couldn’t believe his ears, “Allan that you?”

“Mal?” came the static filled reply.

“Yep, what’s your status?”

“Up the creek without a paddle.”

“Say again?”

“I’m in a suit, hull’s been breached, controls are gone, engines are gone, ship’s tumbling ass over teakettle and it looks like I’m about three minutes from atmo.”

“Anything we can do?” Mal asked, knowing in the pit of his stomach that there wasn’t.


“Aero shell,” Zoë said quietly.

“What was that Zoë?” Mal asked.

Zoë grabbed the com, tears in her eyes, “Use the aero shell thing you showed me Allan.”

“Not sure it’ll work, Zoë. Ship’s tumbling pretty bad and I know I’m going too fast,”

“Gorramit Allan you will try!” Zoë nearly screamed into the microphone, “You promised…”

“Okay Zoë, I’ll try.”

Zoë lost it then, tears streaming, she ran for her bunk. Inara who had been standing quietly at the back of the bridge, looked at Mal quickly and then followed Zoë, hoping to comfort her friend.

Allan crawled to the aft cabin. The gravity seemed to be malfunctioning now. The ships tumble throwing him around. Wrestling the bulky aero shell container into the airlock, Allan clipped a tether from his suit to the container. Closing the lower door, Allan used the little remaining air in the backup airlock system to pressurize the lock. He hoped that when he blew the emergency release on the outer hatch, the air pressure would shoot him clear of the ship like a cork from a bottle of champaign.

“Here goes nothing,” he said to himself as he pulled the hatch release.

Allan shot into the black and luckily wasn’t tumbling all that bad. The shell’s attitude jets should be able to handle it. Working quickly he pulled the tethered canister to him. Taking a deep breath, he pulled the inflation lanyard…

Nothing happened, “Why you half baked, screwed up, piece of crap… oh… oops, helps if I release the safety pin… Allan, you’re a moron,” he said to himself.

Pulling the lanyard again, Allan was rewarded with the casing bursting open and the aero shell expanding to its four-meter diameter. Climbing into the small molded seat, Allan began to strap himself in. Praying that the parachute still worked. Not that it mattered. At the speed he was going, he’d probably burn up on the way down. He wouldn’t feel it either, knowing that he would lose consciousness from the G forces well before the heat shield failed.

“Mal, you there?”

“Right here Allen,” mal replied over the com, emotion in his voice.

“Zoë there?”

“She… she left the bridge.

“Probably for the best then. Well, I’ve got the shell deployed, I’m gonna try a retro burn with the pack, see if I can slow down a bit, back to you in a minute.

Allan used the small retro units thrusters to turn himself around. Closing his eyes, he triggered the small rocket motor…

It kicked like a mule, Allan strained to keep the motor steady in his hands. Twenty seconds later the rocket ran out of fuel.

“Sure is a nice view from up here,” Allan said into the com. His eyes taking in the vista laid out before him.

“That it is Allan,” Mal replied quietly

Allan triggered the jets to re orient himself for entry, “River, you there?”

“Right here, Da-shu,” She replied, tears running down her cheeks.

“You have Free Bird in sight?”

“I have her on Radar, we’re about one hundred and fifty miles behind.”

“About? You’re slipping Kiddo.”

A small laugh escaped her lips despite the tears, “I shall endeavor to be more accurate in the future.”

Allan smiled at that, “River, can Serenity pick up a signal on 406 mhz?”

“Yes, I believe so. Wait a moment,” She replied, “I have a signal Allan.”

“Okay, that’s me, if by some miracle this works, I’m gonna need to thumb a ride. You can track me with that.”

“Understood, Allan.”

“Mal, still there?”

“Right here Allan.”

“Do me a favor would ya?”


“Tell Zoë…tell Zoë that… that I love her.

“You can tell her yourself once we hit dirtside.”

“Not likely. I designed this rig to handle an orbital speed bailout. I’m going about eight times that speed… Don’t worry, I won’t feel it, I’ll be out from the G forces well before the shield burns through,” Allan paused a moment, “Starting to hit some air now… not much more time before radio blackout… Mal, everything in my strongbox is yours. Keep the ship flying. River, you can have my guitars and Jayne can have my gun’s. Take care of each other… Getting some G’s here now… the plasma is actually pretty cool to watch… Hoist a couple o’ beers for me Mal.”

“You got it Allan.”

“Good b…” Alan’s voice was cut off by static.

Visible through Serenity’s bridge windows, two fiery streaks could be seen crossing into the night side of the moon called Kelly, one large, one small. The large one was of course the remains of Free Bird, small streaks of light shooting off as the ship began to break up in the atmosphere. The smaller streak was Allan…


Translation: Da-shu /Uncle

You Wang bao dahn / Dirty bastard


Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:44 PM


Noooooooooooooooooo! Maybe the atmosphere is thinner than Earth's, so his plasma shield will work better? Maybe River can catch up with him? I'm counting on you to get this all straightened out, here. As Jane said, he's an engaging OC, and she has already killed off the FFNet quota of sympathetic OC's for the week!


Friday, June 27, 2008 2:04 AM


Double wow. And I agree with Freeverse ... I've done enough killing in my story - don't you dare kill Allan! Maybe River can use Serenity to put between him and the atmo ... I shall now have no fingernails left if you don;t update soon!

Friday, June 27, 2008 2:18 AM


"Mine is an evil laugh...."

Not to fret my friends...the next chapter is in progress as we speak.

As for the angst... Well I learned from the best. That would be you Jane.

I've got something up my sleve but you won't know until the next chapter to find out.


Friday, June 27, 2008 4:09 PM


It seems I'm going backwards, I read the next little peice first. I'll try to go back and start at the beginning! :) Sime mighty fine writing.!


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