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MANWITHPEZ

Somnambulism - Chapter Fourteen
Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's back...well, this is actually a reposting of a lost chapter. Hey! I just refound it myself!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2312    RATING: 0    SERIES: FIREFLY

Kaylee Fry had experienced several emotions since she had first met a young doctor named Simon Tam. The reason she had such strong feelings for him was because even though he often left her confounded in regards to his motives, no single man had stirred her the way he had. Lust, frustration, infatuation, ire, love, annoyance; they all hit her at the same time the instant she realized that Simon had triggered a booby trap. She was not, however, so seized with emotion that she couldn’t act. Had she been much faster, at the very least, Simon would have lost a leg, and at most, three people could have been killed, herself included. A boon to the doctor’s continued health, however, was the quick thinking and actions of three men. As Kaylee quickly grabbed the back of Simon’s vest in an effort to haul him to safety, she was just as quickly shoved to the ground. Malcolm Reynolds had shouldered past her roughly and grabbed Simon from behind. As he wrapped his arms around the smaller man’s chest, he roughly barked an order. “Don’t move, Doctor!” This was almost hammered clearly into Simon’s mind, though as he heard the order, the survival instinct began to overpower his ability to obey. Shepherd Book added his arms to Mal’s in an effort to stop the doctor’s struggles. Though they held him bodily in place, Simon began to lift his foot in an effort to escape. That was when Jayne Cobb stepped on it, slowly and calmly shaking his head at Simon. “If you want to keep that pretty shoe, I’d listen to the Captain.” Jayne said. Simon froze, stockstill. He couldn’t remember ever being this frightened. “Captain?” He began. Mal shushed him and the beeping began to speed up. Zoe had hurried over, Wash in tow to appraise the situation. “That’s a Betty.” she said. “You can tell from the beeping?” Wash asked. Mal, Zoe, Book and Jayne all answered in chorus: “YES!” The beep’s tempo stepped up once more. “Captain?” Jayne said. Mal’s eyes darted around as he tried to think of some way to disarm the Bouncing Betty mine. He had seen plenty of them in the war, though he had only seen them defused with varying success. He didn’t need variables this time, or the mine would shoot to face height and explode, likely killing everyone who had come to Simon’s aid. As he looked around, his eyes settled on Inara, who had placed a reassuring arm around Kaylee. It came to him then. Though Rudd acted like a Reaver, he wasn’t one. He still retained higher brain function. Reaver booby traps have two purposes: death and chaos. Watching Inara with Kaylee helped Mal realize something. “He doesn’t want to hurt us yet. He wants to scare us.” “He’s succeeding!” Simon spouted. With sudden resolution in his voice, Mal said “Jayne, I’m lifting him. When I do, swing for the rafters.” “Buddha’s Balls! You can’t be serious!” Jayne said, even as he reversed his grip on his rifle to a stock out position, grasping the barrel and essentially turning the high powered gun into a club. “Always serious. One...” “Dear Lord, I hope you’re right about this, son.” Book said. “Two...” Kaylee and Wash both emitted a loud “eep”. “THREE!” Mal and Book lifted the doctor. The second his foot was off the ground, a squat cylindrical object shot up to waist height. It got no further, because Jayne, on his guard, smacked it with a high-arcing swing. The mine sped from the group in a hurry, suddenly exploding in a muffled pop of sparks, that, while bright, certainly wasn’t life-threatening. Book, his arms around Mal, who had his arms around Simon, breathed a heavy sigh. “Praise God.” Jayne grunted “Huh. You know, I always wanted to try that.” Simon had barely gotten to his feet when Kaylee rushed him, simultaneously hugging and knocking him down. The doctor wasn’t so grateful for his life that he forgot to look embarrassed. Everyone was happy to be alive and off their guards. Which was why they missed River darting out between boulders to bodily tackle Inara Serra.

* * *

Rudd continued his trek, leading the group tracking him straight to Serenity Valley. His strongest weapon, his all seeing mind had been robbed from him by the like mind of River Tam, who’s very presence sent a sort of feedback loop of excruciating pain through both their heads. Neither one had tried to touch the other’s brain since the last time he’d tried it. The pain was so intense that even someone who thought of himself as a Reaver couldn’t handle it, and he loved pain. When the fake booby trap he had left for Malcolm Reynolds went off, however, he cast his powerfully psychic mind backwards, out of sheer reflex. He was just as surprised to find River Tam amongst the group hunting him as she was to encounter Rudd searching with his brain again. The effect was just as devastating as last time. Rudd howled in pain and heard a like howl in the distance. He writhed on the ground, having just unwittingly saved both Inara and River’s lives.

* * *

River and Inara sprawled onto the rocky sand of Hera, a tangle of arms. Her appearance had frightened some members of the party into complete motionlessness. River’s flesh had turned completely pitch, and her eyes glowed like red lamps. Her fingernails had grown and tapered into claws even more fearsome than they had been earlier on the ship. Simon, more than anyone else, was frozen to the spot, the near loss of his life earlier forgotten in his concern for his sister. Zoe moved first, catching an elbow to the face for her trouble, and Book, next in line, fared no better when River kicked him in the jaw, spinning him to the ground. River raised her clawed hand high, intent on delivering a slashing, killing blow. What happened next seemed to happen in slow motion for Simon. When he saw that Inara was in mortal danger, Simon immediately turned to Mal, knowing what his reaction would be. He wasn’t wrong. Given the criminal nature of most of the crew of Serenity’s work, all of them had seen Mal’s quickdraw. Even Zoe, who had known him longer than anyone else, and had seen him practice it countless times was still impressed with it. To Simon, however, it meant the end of his sister. And, that would have been the case, if River hadn’t suddenly reared back her head in pain, howling and caterwauling to the stars. She narrowly missed being shot in the head by Malcolm Reynolds, someone who almost never missed. Mal swore in Chinese and reholstered his pistol, after he saw that Inara was alright. He strided over to help her up, keeping a wary eye on River as she turned and writhed on the ground. As he bent down to help Inara up, he took his eyes off River for a microsecond. It was all the time she needed. When he looked back, she was long gone. “I never thought I’d say this, but, this job ain’t worth the money.” Jayne said.

* * *

Rudd eventually collected himself and continued moving. Though he couldn’t sense it, and he certainly couldn’t see it, he knew his would be killers were still on the move. He was sure they were moving a lot slower after the escapade with the Betty. Lucky once is not lucky twice, and it was just as well. Rudd had left much more dangerous things in Malcolm’s path. The simple truth, however, was that Rudd wanted to see Mal again. He wanted to see what kind of man he had become after what had happened to his principals in Serenity Valley. Also, he franctically tried to think of a way to deal with River Tam. Her name was almost all he gleaned from her mind before the explosion of pain had taken over. He wanted very much to sink his teeth into her, but, she had teeth too, and his magnificent mind wouldn’t be of help to him where she was concerned. Rudd neared a small granite stand with a brass plate on it. There were several of these littered about the valley, where they proclaimed certain areas to be of historic repute. The one here simply said, “Site of the Independent’s Surrender”. It was a place Malcolm Reynolds knew very well, and the significance of this wasn’t lost on Rudd. He had explored up and down this Valley, though he had been on Hera when the battle had taken place. It simply hadn’t found him. But, he felt the presence of Mal, had sensed his heartbreak from his cave, and, though he had foreseen it all, he knew the effect had been far more devastating than he had thought it would be. He had never sensed such crushing defeat in a single person before, save himself when he had been captured by one of the first set of Reavers to venture from a far off world. Gone was the carefree young man who had started the Skirmish at the Rusty Hinge. The man left was a shell, and Rudd looked forward to seeing Malcolm completely defeated before he took him apart and ate him. Rudd swiped at the memorial plaque, leaving shallow gouges in the brass plating. This was where Malcolm had been when he received the news that his beloved Browncoats had given up. This was where Malcolm Reynolds had learned about the true nature of the universe. It was a lesson that Rudd intended to hammer back into him. First by killing everyone Malcolm held dear and had been foolish enough to bring with him.

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