Volcano's Edge - Part XV
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Okay, back to the angst! But the rescue is underway, and retribution is at hand. NEW CHAPTER


Alex peered around the corner, feeling his wet clothes sticking to his back and riding up in places they had no right to be riding up in. “I can’t see anyone. Doesn’t mean they’re not about,” he whispered.

“Close,” she agreed, slipping past him, her form clearly outlined in her damp dress. “And you shouldn’t be looking.”

“A man who’s about to die should have some pleasures in the short remainder of his life.”

“Not going to die.” River’s voice was barely above a breath. “As long as you stay quiet.” She seemed to glide on silent feet, already bringing one of her guns up as the door opened along the corridor.

A man stepped out. “What the –“ He drew, very fast.

There was a pop, barely loud enough to register, but he fell back, his weapon dropping from nerveless fingers.

“This way,” River said, moving forward and delicately avoiding the spreading pool of blood, a drift of smoke meandering from the silencer.

Alex stepped over the body of the guard, and he had to swallow hard not to throw up. “Right.”

“It’s just a body,” she pointed out.

“I ... I know.” A body without a face, his treacherous inner voice added.

“He’d killed so many.”

Alex looked up in surprise. “You know that?”

She nodded, not taking her gaze off the corridor in front. “Niska surrounds himself with such men. They kill without thought, without hesitation or remorse.” Now she looked at him, her dark eyes unreadable. “And they enjoy it.”

He shuddered, then took a deep breath. “Then we’d better go get my sister and her husband, hadn’t we?”

A smile ghosted across her lips. “You know, we’re related.” She moved off.

“What?” He hurried to catch up.

“Freya is my mother. So you must be my uncle.”

“She’s your ... what?”

“In spiritual terms.”

He looked at the young woman at his side, and realised she wasn’t joking. “Then ...” he began slowly, “maybe I am. And I'm proud to be.”

The smile widened into brilliance and she was about to speak, but it froze on her face.

“What –“

She touched his lips then held up two fingers. Two more guards, she was saying.

Alex tried to control his heart pounding in his chest, and nodded.


Hank brought Serenity in low, skimming the wavetops as the Firefly sped forward. He was flying by instruments, not even looking out of the window, but he trusted them totally, and as they approached the yacht he spoke into the open com.

“Get ready. Landing in five …” He initiated the retros, drastically reducing their speed. “… four …” Serenity dropped lower, and the drag from the water slowed her even more. “… three …” He swung her around, eyes fixed to the sensors. “… two …” She was almost in position, her belly just a few feet above the sand. “… one …” The old ship nestled close to the new, within kissing distance. “We’re down!”

Dillon slammed his hand down on the outer cargo bay door controls, the ramp falling with a thud. Immediately Zoe activated the remote she and River had cobbled together. Tiny lights scrambled across its surface, and after only a few seconds the main airlock on the Denari began to open. Inside red lights began to spin, and a voice issued from speakers.

“Unauthorised access. Warning. Unauthorised access. Warning. Unauthorised –“

“I think they know we’re here,” Dillon muttered.

“That’s the general idea.”

Dark figures could be seen milling further back in the yacht’s shuttle bay, and someone seemed to be trying to close the doors, but every time it appeared to be working the remote caught up a moment later. Finally someone fired, the bullet ricocheting into the night from Serenity’s hull.

Zoe glanced at the men next to her, hunkered down behind the crates they’d lined up as cover inside the airlock. Even in the darkness she could see Jayne’s teeth as he grinned, a maniacal look in his eye. Briefly she wondered if Simon hadn’t overmedicated the big man, but she realised it didn’t matter. He was here, and he was going to stay here until River was back on board, preferably with the others.

A gun fired close by, six shots, close together. In the Denari a man fell, making the others scuttle for cover.

“Like you said,” Dillon commented, reloading. “They’re supposed to know we’re here.”


Niska heard the faint alarm bells, then booted feet running past the closed door. He looked at the guard. “Find out,” he commanded.

“Sir.” He slipped out.

“You got company?” Mal asked, experiencing a strange sense of déjà vu.

“Is no matter. My men are good.” He turned back to his torturer. “Continue.”

Mal gritted his teeth.


Alex couldn’t help but admire the young woman with him. She seemed so ethereal, so other-worldly, but the way she handled her guns meant she was deadly. They’d met less resistance since the alarms had sounded, almost giving him a heart attack until she had smiled at him. That was the plan, he knew, but it still didn’t actually help.

Besides, it was less resistance, but that certainly didn’t mean no resistance.

As they both came around the corner there were two men dragging rifles up to bear on them, and she dropped into a crouch to fire. Except in doing so she missed the door opening behind them, and a third man sliding out. Alex caught the movement out of the corner of his eye, and half turned, almost hearing the slack being taken out of the trigger.

“River!” He threw himself backward without thinking, between the gunman and her body, as the sound of the gun firing filled the corridor. He could almost see the bullet heading straight towards him.

But as fast as he was, she was faster. Even as he was moving, so was she, twisting on her heel, her hand coming up to push him down, crouching forward herself to protect him, the passage of the bullet lifting the hair on her head. She fired, and the gunman fell back gurgling, his life blood arcing from a mutilated throat.

She looked down at Alex, and for just a moment saw another face, younger, with just the suggestion of a grey collar about his neck.

“Jethro,” she breathed.

“Who?” Alex struggled to push himself up, and the apparition vanished.

“Someone I knew once,” she replied, a smile breaking out. “Someone I couldn’t save.” She stood upright and held out a hand.

Letting her help him to his feet, he said fervently, “Well, I'm glad you saved me.” He squeezed her hand. “Thank you.”

A grin, so joyful it heated his skin, flashed across her face. “You’re welcome.” Then she was all seriousness again, apart from the renewed determination in her eyes. “Let’s go bring them home. Kaylee first.”


The men outside the cell door looked at each other. Someone had screamed, a long drawn out wail that ended in a sort of choking cough. “What the hell was that?”

The taller of the two gave his companion a withering look. “What do you think it was?”

“Do you think we shouldn’t at least go and help?”

“If the boss’s men can’t handle it, what do you think we can do? Besides, we were told to stand guard.”

“What, you think she’s going to try and escape? Look at her, man! She can’t even get up.”

“I'm obeying orders.”

“They might only need another couple of guns.”

“Fine. You go. I’ll wait here. And when the boss says she’s ours, it seems like I’ll get first go.” He glanced into the cell through the tiny window. “Anyway, I'm thinking if things go wrong we can use her. As a bargaining chip.”

“Are you crazy?”

“Who else do you think they’re coming after?”

The sound of automatic weapons fire drifted up.

“They need our help!”

“I'm not stopping you.”

He glared up into the other man’s face, then drew his gun, flicking the safety off. Sneering slightly in disgust he headed down the corridor.

The taller man grinned and put his hand on the entry pad. “That’s better. Now it’s just you and me, darlin’.” He opened the door.

Kaylee blinked at the sudden light, then realised someone was standing looking at her. She tried to pull the coveralls up further over her body, but her hands had stopped working properly again, and all she managed to do was push them away.

There was a low laugh, and it skittered up her spine like ice water.

“What the boss don’t know …” He advanced into the room, hands busy unbuckling his belt.

Kaylee whimpered.

Hold on, honey. Cavalry’s coming.

The man was only two feet away when a sound like an explosion ripped through the cell and he jerked to a standstill. For what seemed like an eternity he didn’t move, then blood bubbled from his mouth as he tried to speak. He fell as if his legs had been cut out from under him, very close to Kaylee's feet.

“It’s okay.” Another man, and Kaylee wanted to scrabble away. “Kaylee, it’s okay. It’s me. Alex. Freya’s brother.”

“Frey …” she managed to say between teeth chattering with fear.

He knelt down next to her, trying to ignore the body as he pulled her towards him. “It’s a rescue,” he said, somewhat unnecessarily.

Alex had killed before. There was the time he was visiting one of the remoter Rostov holdings on Osiris, up in the mountains, where they were mining Odonerite. Someone decided he would be worth kidnapping, and tried to take him off the road. His driver had been shot, and he’d scooped up the gun and fired back, killing at least one of the raiders. It didn’t help.

As he lifted her onto his thighs, she was pushing at him. “Kaylee, it’s okay, I'm not going to hurt you. Kaylee, please.”

She peered up at him, trying to place him. He looked so familiar, but it was hard to think anymore.

“Here.” River, keeping watch from the doorway, tossed a hypo to him. “The antihistamine. It will help.”

He nodded, injecting Kaylee in the arm.

She whimpered a little at the sting.

“I'm sorry,” he whispered. “But I had to.”

River glanced into the room. “Bring her when she’s feeling better. I need to go. Now.” She slid away, her guns ready.

“No,” Kaylee managed to say, feeling some of the fog clear away from her mind. “You … go with her.”

Alex shook his head. “She told me to stay with you. And I'm not about to argue with that young woman.”

“And I'm tellin’ … you to go.” She struggled to raise herself onto her elbows but didn’t manage it. “Needs your help.” Her words, while still slurred, were strengthening.

“I'm not leaving you, Kaylee.”

She fixed him with her brown eyes. “Then you’re gonna … have to carry me.”


“Sir, we’re being attacked.”


“Looks like a Firefly, sir.”

Niska turned, looking down at the man strapped to the bench. “Your friends don’t obey you.”

Mal ran his tongue across his dry lips, tasting sweat and blood. “Never ... never did. Can’t see why ... they should start now.”


“This ain’t going well,” Jayne said, ducking back down below the line of crates. “And Mal ain’t gonna be pleased they’re shooting up his boat.”

“As long as we get them out –“ Zoe paused to fire Jayne’s precious Callahan, and one of Niska’s men fell back with a cry. “– I don't think he’ll mind too much.” Again the rifle spat, and someone keened. “How are they doing?”

“Good. Got Kaylee. Going for Mal and Frey.” He sounded annoyed, wanting to be in the thick of things and not even able to do much more than watch Zoe shooting with Vera.

She couldn't help the slight smile as she glanced at him, then at his hands. “Can you use a grenade?”

That was better. He grinned. “Where do you want it?”


There was a dull thud, and the ship shuddered a little.

“Get them. Bring them to me,” Niska ordered. “I think I would like to see Mr Reynold’s face when they die in front of him.”

“Ain’t gonna happen,” Mal grunted. He looked past the old man towards Freya and saw the corners of her mouth twitch so quickly that he wondered if he’d imagined it.

The flunkey hurried out of the room.

“So much to look forward to. And all because your crew are … what is the word. Mutinous?”

“Like I said, they never did like obeying orders. But it ain’t mutiny.”

“Then what would you call it?”

“A diversion.” River fired a split after her words and the torturer’s head exploded into blood, bone and grey matter, his hand opening reflexively as the glove flew into the corner of the room. She advanced on Niska, her aim not moving a micron from between his eyes.

“No,” Mal gasped out, feeling the pressure growing slowly but inexorably in his chest. “You don’t.”

Her brow furrowed. “He hurt you.”

“That he … he did. But you just … keep him there.”

Freya, meanwhile, was struggling with her restraints, then saw her brother carry Kaylee into the room. “Alex! Get me out of these things!”

He nodded and placed the young woman in his arms on the floor, inadvertently coming face to face with the body, still oozing. He stared.


He started guiltily, tearing his eyes away as he hurried to his sister’s side and managed to undo the cuffs. “Frey …” he murmured, his breath catching at the sight of her wrists, torn and bleeding.

She ignored him, stumbling to the corner and picking up the glove. Sliding it onto blood-slicked fingers, she hurried to the hologram, lifting her hand and releasing the tension. Immediately Mal felt the pressure ease, and he could breathe easier.

Ai ren …”

“This will hurt,” she whispered, concentrating on the control box.

“I know.”

She looked up and saw such love and trust in his eyes that she almost lost herself. Pulling back, she flicked a switch.

Mal couldn’t help it. His back lifted from the bench as he screamed, the Quicksilver flowing back to his skin, appearing on the surface first as a sheen like sweat, then thicker, more substantial, as it gathered in a pool at his belly.

Blinking back tears as she felt his pain, Freya picked up the vial, her hand trembling slightly as she held it against his body. She gestured with the glove. The liquid moved as if it were alive, tendrils reaching into the glass until it sat inside, glistening malevolently.

Alex stoppered it quickly, taking it from her and placing it back in the box.

Only then did Freya dare to breathe, stripping the glove from her hand and dropping it to the ground. Her knees gave, and she would have fallen but for Alex’s arm around her. “No,” she said, pushing at him. “Help Mal.”

“Cap’n?” Kaylee asked from her position on the floor, clutching her coveralls to herself.

“It’s okay, mei-mei,” Mal said as Alex undid the restraints. “I'm gonna be fine. What about you?”

“Oh, shiny. Soon as my bits start working again.”

“Too much information there, Kaylee.” He groaned as Alex got him into a sitting position.

“I can’t carry you both,” Freya’s brother said.

“Not being carried out of here, Alex,” Mal said, patting him somewhat awkwardly on the arm. “Didn’t intend to do it dead, and I sure as hell ain't planning on doing it alive.” He slid off the bench to his feet, honestly surprised that he could stand almost upright. Adrenaline, that’s what it is, he told himself. Or some other fancy such name Simon’d give it. Gonna be hard when that gives out.

I’ll be here. Freya’s voice touched his mind.

I know. He didn’t look at her, didn’t need to, just keeping all his attention on the man cowering against the wall. Half turning his head, he said softly, “You stay back now, you hear? This ain't your fight.”

River glared at him, the words building up behind her lips, but she didn’t say them. Instead she whispered, “I already killed him. Your turn.”

to be continued


Tuesday, July 29, 2008 1:29 PM


Good BDR. And I'm glad Alex didn't actually throw up.

Niska needs to be chopped into little, itey, bitey pieces and then be fed to the sharks. I guess I'll have to wait to see what Mal actually does.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 4:08 PM


Are you gonna make sure the job gets done this time, Evil One? So that there is no more sequel to this bad guy? Please?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 5:27 PM


I have some very VERY evil things in mind ifn you need some suggestions. :) Very good!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:15 AM


Absolutely brilliant! Please, please, PLEASE let Mal finally kill that evil twisted *wanga dan* then blow his body into itty bitty tiny pieces so no one will ever be able to put him back together again! This was utterly brilliant, you probably heard me cheering all the way from England! Very shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, August 3, 2008 9:23 AM


Gotta love our favorite Captain...standing after that. Just never does lie down, does he? :D


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