Volcano's Edge - Part IX
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne is missing, and someone has a tale to tell. NEW CHAPTER


“River, River, please.” Simon was desperately trying to calm his sister. She was on the verge of attempting to force him out of her path, almost at the point of violence in her desire to get to the cargo bay doors.

“Have to find him!” She gripped his forearms until she could hear the bones grating. “I have to find him!”

“The Cap’s out there looking,” Kaylee said, her own hands clasped tightly in front of her, fully aware of the damage the young woman could do if she decided to. “He’ll find Jayne.”

“River. You’re hurting me.” Simon tried not to let it show, but it was there, pain written clear on his pale features.

“What?” For a moment she didn’t move, staring into his face, her eyes ragged and disturbed. Then she let go as if from a red hot poker. “I didn’t mean to …” She hugged herself instead, darting for the door, but Zoe was in the way.

“Wait for the captain,” the tall woman said.

“Need to … have to …”

“Wait, River.”

Simon was at her side again. “Mei-mei, I don’t want to sedate you -”

“No needles!”

“But I will if I have to.”

She stared at him, pleading. “I just want him back.”

“Then try and calm down.”

Finally she nodded jerkily and took a great, shuddering breath, drawing on the hidden reserves of strength within her. Simon silently thanked Freya for helping his sister find even a modicum of control.

“Better,” he said, putting his arm around her shoulders. “River … is Jayne hurt? Can you tell?”

She unfocused a moment. “Unconscious.”

“River, honey, he’ll be okay,” Hank said, keeping his tone gentle. “Mal and Freya are going to find him.”

“They won’t.”


“They won’t find him. Niska has him.”

For a moment Simon wasn’t sure he’d heard. “Niska?”


As they ran from the church, the four of them headed for the only cover around, a scrubby bush next to an abandoned building, deep in the morning shadows.

“He was here.” Mal was down on his heels. “Boot marks.”

“Freshly dead insects,” Freya agreed. “But no sign of Jayne.”

Dillon nodded at Alex, pointing back towards the town, and they split up.


“Adelai Niska?” Simon lifted his head to stare at Zoe. “Is that who you mean?”

River nodded. “He has Jayne.”

“River, mei-mei, Niska’s dead.”

“Not dead. Waiting. Sharpening his steely knives, ready to slake his thirst.”

“But he became a Reaver. You told us,” Kaylee pointed out, suddenly feeling very cold. She would never forget the sight of Mal’s ear lying in that linen handkerchief, nor the relief as they left Wayborn and she was told he would never be coming after them again. Only now River’s words were like chips of ice in her blood.

“Snip. Snap.”

“Okay, River, now you’re scaring me.”


“Here.” Freya dropped to her heels, leaning forward to pick up something bright and shiny. “It’s Jayne’s. It’s Binky.”

Mal shook his head. “What kind of man names his knife?” he asked.

She knew he didn’t really expect an answer, that it was only a symptom of the worry he was feeling. “There’s blood on the blade.”


“Simon would be able to tell.”

He continued to study the ground, then went down onto his knees himself with a surprised grunt, reaching under a stack of broken Blue Sun crates. He drew out Boo. Swiftly he checked the cylinder. “She’s not been fired.”

“We’d have heard if there’s been gunplay.”

“Mal, over here!” Alex’s voice rang across the empty ground.


Hank hadn’t spoken , just stared into the Firefly’s floor, his mind full of the only time he’d faced Niska. He’d thought he was going to die, that no-one would be coming for him. He knew he was a coward for not being able to stand up to that twisted man, for giving in to the fear, but he could still smell the gas as it looped and swirled its way around his ankles, up past his knees. No matter how hard he’d pushed it away, it came back, tasting of roses and death, until all he could do was breathe in. It was almost a relief to feel the numbness come over him, the lethargy fill his bones with liquid until all he wanted to do was lie down and let it all wash away.

“Not a coward,” River muttered, and he looked up into her dark eyes, swimming with emotion.

“I am,” he whispered, not even vocalising the words. “They all survived.”

“So did you.”

He shook his head.


“Down there.” Alex pointed to the dust, and Mal stared down.

Suo-yo duh doh shr-dang …

There, sticking into the dirt, was a tiny steel shell, tipped with artificial feathers. Taking his handkerchief from his pocket, he reached down and carefully pulled it free. A fine needle, like those on a hypo, protruded from the other end.

Cao,” Mal said, aware of Dillon running up.

“What did you find?” he asked, breathing a little heavily.

Mal held it out on the flat of his hand.

“Jutoprocaine?” Freya murmured.

“Probably. Seems to be their drug of choice.”

“At least they didn’t kill him out of hand.”

“But why Jayne?”

“A crime of opportunity. He was on his own.”

“Frey, he’s bigger’n me.”

“So there were a number of them. Mal, I don’t see this as being a one man operation. There might a dozen all told.”

“There’s more.” Alex led them to a disturbed area. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like someone was dragged here.”

“Ain’t gonna,” Mal muttered, following the tracks for maybe fifty yards.

“They’ve stopped.”

Dillon bent down to look closer. “No. Hover. See, there’s the indentations of the control jets.”

Mal’s eyes narrowed and looked at Freya. “I don’t think he’s off planet yet.”

“I agree.”

“What?” Alex stared at them both. “Why?”

“Why use a hover if you’ve got a ship waiting? You’d use a shuttle instead,” Freya explained.

“So he’s still here?” He looked around the landscape. “Do we search?”

“Too many places to hide, and there ain’t enough of us.” Mal ran his hand down his holster. “And there’s a few dozen islands as well, just in this group.”

“A boat maybe?”

“Possible. But we’re not doing any good here. Best we get back to Serenity. Got some planning to do.”

“You think he’s going to be handed back, like Hank,” Dillon interjected.

“Maybe. Can’t see any other reason for taking him.”

“Unless Niska’s upping the ante.”

Mal went to open his mouth, to say again that it couldn’t be that old psychopath, but he stopped. Instead he took a deep breath. “Let’s hope not.”


“They’re back,” River said, jumping to her feet and running to the bay doors. Without even a moment’s thought she slammed her hand onto the control.

Zoe sighed, drawing her gun. “Not a good idea,” she said. “What if they’re being forced?”

“Not.” She stared intently at the gap as it widened, then seemed to shrink into herself. “No Jayne.”

Mal strode up the ramp. “Sorry. No.” He paused by her. “Can you tell where he is?”

“No.“ She shook her head and went back to sit down on one of the crates. “Too fuzzy.”

“I’m sorry, River,” Dillon said, meaning every word. “I wish I’d -”

She interrupted. “Steak.”


Mal waved a hand. “It ain’t important.”

Alex coughed slightly.

Kaylee suddenly spoke. “You’re Alex, ain’t you? Freya’s twin?” She smiled. “Didn’t know you were gonna be here.”

“No-one did,” Mal said shortly. “And, ’cept for Dillon here, I figure introductions can wait ‘til later.”

“Fine,“ Simon said acidly. “But when were you going to tell us about Niska, Mal?”


He nodded towards his sister. “River said. Niska has Jayne.”

“We don’t know that.”

“I do,” River put in sadly, rocking herself backwards and forwards. Freya went to stand next to her, pulling the young woman into her embrace.

“River told me what she believed yesterday.”

“And you didn’t think to share that with us?”

“You’d better be moderating that tone, Simon.”

“What, you figured we didn’t have a right to know?”

Mal’s temper, always on a short rein, snapped. “And what would you have said, doctor? If I’d sat there at dinner last night and told you your sister believed it was Niska behind all this? What exactly would have been your reaction?” His voice was low, dangerous.

Simon didn’t back down. “You didn’t give us the chance to find out.”

“Well I am now. You tell me.”

“I … would have said she must have been mistaken.”

“As did I.” Mal jerked a finger at Dillon. “First proof I had it was Niska came just now.”

Freya wisely didn’t mention her own dreams, knowing it would inflame the situation.

“And now?”

Mal threw his hands into the air. “I don’t know! This may come as something of a shock to you, but I don’t have all the answers.”

“You’re captain. You’re supposed to.”

“Well, maybe sometimes I could do with someone else coming up with some ideas.”

“Like you ever listen to us.”

“Doctor -”

“Stop it!” River shouted, her voice cutting across them. “No. More. Arguing.” She punctuated every word with a step, until she was standing between them. “No. More. Dong mah?” She glared at both the men. “You are worried. Concerned. Anxious. Troubled, afraid, fearful, apprehensive, scared. Terrified. But this will not find Jayne.”

For a long moment there was silence, everyone staring at her, until Hank began to get uncomfortable.

“Um … can we not be going with the killing of each other right now?” he asked. “Later, okay, when there’s nothing else to do and we’re wishing we had some of Kaylee’s home brew, then maybe we can reconsider. But right now, can we behave like adults? Just for a while?”

Mal threw him a glowering glance, but his heart wasn’t really in it. He turned back to River. “I’m sorry, xiao nu. And you’re right. Not the first time I’ve been told today, either.” He could feel Freya’s eyes on him. “Jayne first, recriminations later. And maybe bloodshed. Okay?”

Simon had the grace to blush a little. “Okay.”

“Here.” Mal held out his hankie, the tiny dart wrapped inside. “Can you tell if this went into Jayne?”

Simon studied it carefully, grateful for something to do. “I think there’s blood on the tip. It won’t take a moment -”

“Then check this too.” Freya held out Binky.

“Give me a minute.” He hurried towards the infirmary.

“And we found this.” Mal held out Boo. “River, you wanna take charge of her?”

She nodded, taking the gun and holding it to her chest.

Zoe winced, hoping the safety was on or that it was unloaded, but didn’t attempt to take it off her. Instead she said, “Sir, we found the tag.”

Mal span to face her. “What?”

“The tag. How they tracked us.”

Kaylee moved forward. “It was on the landing gear.”

“I don’t see how that -”

“Kaylee was about to see if she could backtrack it.”

Mal turned to look at his mechanic. “Can you?”

“I think so. Stick a low voltage through it, rig a receiver instead of a transmitter and see -”

“How long?”

“If it works? Maybe … an hour?” Her mind was already a whirl of what she needed to do. “I might have to use the external sensors, make it as big as possible.”

“Do it. Get Hank to help.”

She paused a moment. “And what about Jayne? Ain’t we gonna look for him?”

He put his hands on her shoulders. “Xiao mei-mei, this is our best shot at getting him back. Find the men who took him, we find the man, okay?”

She looked into his blue eyes. “Shr ah.” She gave a slight lift to her lips, then scampered back to her engine room.

“Mal.” Simon was back. “The blood on the dart is Jayne’s.”

“Can you tell what they used?”

“The same. Jutoprocaine.”

“He likely to be having any side effects?”

“There’s no way of knowing.” Simon glanced at his sister. “He got at least a blow in, though. The blood on the blade of the knife isn’t his.” He paused.

“But? Doc, there’s a but hanging above your head blinking in all kinds of neon.”

But there is also a trace of blood on the handle.”

“Don’t tell me. That’s Jayne’s too.”

“I’m sorry, Mal.”

“Don’t be. Not your fault.” Mal gazed at River, still rocking slightly even though she was cradling her husband’s gun. If he could give her something to aim at, something to fight, she’d be better, but this not knowing was … He turned to Alex. “Looks like we’ve got ourselves a little time to wait. And I think we’re gonna start using it by you telling us exactly what you’re doing out here.”

to be continued


Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:12 AM


Excellent! Everybody said and did things I was really aching for them to do and more, truly terrific. And the bit at the end where Mal wants Alex to teel them what he is doing out there is right on the money. Sorry to Freya but I really don't trust him. Could be he's the one who put the tag on the ship for all we know. And please, please, please let Kaylee get a trace on where that transmitter came from. Oh, and don't kill Jayne, *dong ma*? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:13 AM


Ooops, that should be tell not teel. Sorry. My computer can't spell. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 4:00 AM


This as always, was amazing. I have been waiting patiently and will continue to wait, but hurry it up, dong ma? :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 6:32 AM


No killing Jayne. LOL! Other than that, it was very excellent. I am waiting here ready for the next part. Ummm...I'm still waiting. LOL!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 10:07 AM


The first few chapters left me wishing they were longer (probably becuase I've been rereading your other fisc in gulps. The last two, though, have left me more and more worried (and secretly pleased to be so!). The crew aren't playing horror-movie stupid--they're figuring out the elements of the bad guys game, but there is as yet to clear indication they're connected the disparate pieces--like Theo's warning that some entity is after Dr. Tam.... This from the spectator who never could guess the killer in those dinner theater games, so I suppose it's totally believeable.
You and that other Jane (Austen) are rocking my summer reading, Jane!

Thursday, July 17, 2008 5:32 AM


Poor, poor River! And more to the point, poor Jayne, in the hands of a psychopath without so much as Binky to defend himself with! Yikes!

Thursday, July 17, 2008 5:33 AM


Poor, poor River! And more to the point, poor Jayne, in the hands of a psychopath without so much as Binky to defend himself with! Yikes!


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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]