Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The attack on Pity gets properly underway. Warning: (10th) character death.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1162 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
To say that Bytemite beta-ed this in no way just justice to her massive input. Anything science-y came from her. Thanks Boff!
Colonel Tug and his bridge crew watched in horror as their sister carrier, entering the atmosphere slightly ahead of them, was consumed by a series of explosions which ended with it breaking into uncountable pieces. Pieces of ship; pieces of man.
“Christ!”, the Comms officer shouted above the more controlled grunts and groans of the other men on the bridge.
“Mason!” Tug rebuked. He drew himself up; let out a breath. “Carry on,” he said grimly.
With what? thought Major Yan, staring at Tug. The massacre of another Rim settlement -
Yan saw Tug’s mouth drop open, looked to where he was looking: through the carrier’s broad screen, at a piece of the wreckage of the carrier colliding with their patrol ship.
This time, as the patrol ship seemed to blossom like a flower of fire, there was silence.
Mal was ready to relinquish Serenity’s controls to River when she and Dogger scrambled onto the bridge. They were going to need all of River’s still-developing piloting skills to manoeuvre Serenity into position.
They felt the first impact and explosion as River started to glide Serenity backwards towards the settlement’s bicarium chamber. Mal strained to look around Pity: was there anyone who hadn’t made it to the mine? Then he looked up and saw that it was as River had said: the ASREVs were coming in fast; one larger vessel was holding at altitude.
River’s concentration didn’t seem to waver under the beginning barrage; Mal wondered if Dogger was silently guiding and encouraging her. As she began setting Serenity down, only yards from the chamber, Mal headed towards the back of the ship.
Ground-shaking impact; one by one Pity’s structures were collapsing under concentrated ASREV fire.
But why were they bombing the whole settlement? No matter what the Operative had said, it had to be Serenity – and River – that they wanted.
Mal was already unfurling Serenity’s fuel pipe and dragging it towards the chamber when River joined him with Dogger, as ever, at her shoulder.
Mal grunted as he kicked the door to the chamber open. He and River set to turning the wheel on top of the standpipe that led into the ground inside the chamber.
While two fighters pounded the settlement, the remaining three followed the Colonel’s order to scout the surroundings. The Firefly was there, clear for anyone to see; but it looked as though the settlement had been abandoned. The three scouting pilots reported to Tug, expecting to be told to finish the Firefly.
Bent into an uncomfortable position over the chamber’s main standpipe, Mal strained to hold open the tightly-hinged casing to the control panel in order for Dogger to reverse the direction of the gas flow. Serenity’s fuel pipe was hooked over the bicarium standpipe. River was explaining what Dogger was doing. Mal looked at both of them. Dogger’s whole demeanour was different from the one that Mal was familiar with: Mal understood that he had been triggered, just as River had on Maidenhead. Usually gentle, distant, absent even, now Dogger was intent on the defence of his territory to the exclusion of everything else. This was not a person; this was what had been done to a person.
Mal shifted his aching hands and shoulders a little. He flashed to the moment when they’d first come to Pity, when River had said that Dogger had liked her, and Dogger had smiled. The boy was autistic; he had had things done to him on account of that; but he was a human being, a feeling creature, all the same.
That feeling creature had been taken, changed, into something with an over-capacity for violence, an affinity with violence, an ease with violence; a knowledge of what to do, at his best even, in violent situations. Militarized. Damaged. Lessened. A sort of machine able to act only in accordance with past conditioning.
Dogger’s expression, as he worked with a screwdriver at the bottom of the bicarium standpipe was grim but calm. He didn’t see the human cost of what he was proposing; he didn’t know, or care about, what Serenity meant to Mal. Mal, watching Dogger, saw his own sometimes single-minded self. His motivations might have been different than Dogger’s, but in the end what difference did it make?
What difference did it make to those in his orbit? The people he loved. The ones that had to live with how he felt - that life was only an inch from being over – and the way that he acted, because of feeling like that.
He could hear the ASREVs making passes over head. His hands and shoulders wanted him to let the casing snap back into position. River, as though in a sort of trance, seemed to be blurting Dogger’s thoughts into speech.
“Bicarium a by-product of terraforming, unusual metalloid compound, compression altering the chemistry of existing rock bodies and producing – odd things.
“Cerium compound. Hydrous form, tritium all on its own. Catalyst reaction at 2,000 Celsius. Serenity’s engine – plenty hot. Tritium comes, feed it back. Feed it right back.”
Mal, who’d been wondering how to free one of his hands to wipe a slick of sweat from his brow, jerked his head up.
“What?” he said, staring at River. “Say that bit again.”
River stared back, almost unseeing.
Mal wanted to grab her, shake her, but he couldn’t let go of the casing. “River! The plan is to blow her up, right? – that’s all?”
“Theoretically,” River answered.
“By feeding the tritium from the bicarium reaction back into her engine, Serenity becomes a fusion bomb.”
“What! Jesus! What! How’s long he going to frigging be? He wants me to stop this casing from snapping back and cutting his hands off while he’s planning to blow half of this world to kingdom-come anyways?”
“It’s efficient,” said River flatly, and Mal wasn’t sure if this was Dogger’s response or hers.
“If you want to irradiate everything of anything that’s left! This is a living, working planet. You can’t do that!”
“Five ASREVs leading the attack, no ground to air defences, no choice,” said River in the same flat tone.
Dogger wasn’t even looking up.
“Hold on, hold on,” said Mal, speaking to him even though he wasn’t reacting. “You’ve got pipes running all under Pity, like they’re building on Cornelius, right? Fuelling the settlement? Gas? Use Serenity. Go ahead. But just as the spark, not as a nuke. We could shut down her engine before she overloads? We could do that, couldn’t we?”
Dogger continued to work.
“Get the ASREVs overhead, fire up the engine, ignite the gas – boom!” Mal continued desperately. “They’d be right over the pipes, it’d blow them straight out of the air, maybe the carrier’d get caught up in the shock wave.”
He stopped. Dogger was ignoring him; he was triggered, empty, cold. And Mal, looking at him thought ‘what has become of me? is this it?’
“There is a choice,” he began – but Dogger was gone. Running helter-skelter back towards Serenity and the other end of the fuel pipe. He was wrenching it, grappling with it, dragging it backwards up the ramp.
River got up, took off with her usual nimble grace towards the ship.
Mal straightened, ignoring the pain in his back, and followed her. He had just reached the top of the ramp when Serenity was hit for the first time. Whatever strategy the Alliance had been following that involved destroying the settlement before targeting the ship, it looked like it had just changed. He hauled himself up the stairs and hurled himself along the walkways towards the engine room. Dogger was working frantically to attach the fuel pipe in place. Mal left him to it, expecting to find River in the bridge. But it was empty. Where was she? Another hit. No time.
He sat down at Serenity’s controls. Wanted to run his hands over them, just once; say goodbye.
He started her up, turned his head, listening, feeling for any difference in the engine’s familiar sound. There was a shudder: was that something that always happened? And then, over the comm, River’s voice: “Get to the shuttle. Above you.”
“Got to get to Dogger first,” Mal called, before spinning and shooting from his seat, stumbling over the ledge between the bridge and the walkway and hurtling towards the engine room.
Dogger shouted wordlessly when he saw Mal, whether in frustration or triumph Mal couldn’t tell.
“Going to shut her down,” Mal stated. “No need for this to get nuclear. Come with me. Or you’ll go up with her too.” Dogger stood completely still, saying nothing and Mal lunged at him suddenly, planning to knock him out. Dogger leapt back, bounced on the balls of his feet, eyeing Mal with the sharp, shining eyes of a woodland animal. But even if Dogger hadn’t been young, and agile, and trained for any defence scenario, Mal knew that he wouldn’t have had time - not to incapacitate him and make it back to the bridge, carrying him, in time to shut down the engine before fusion occurred. No time. Not another Haven. No time.
That’s what he told himself as he raced back towards the bridge, while through his head pounded the words: ‘Another one left behind.”
As he shut down the engine he felt another explosion. Was it another Alliance missile or the bicarium chamber going up? River’s voice screamed suddenly over the comm: “No time! No time!”
“Not – very – encouraging,” Mal panted out, scrambling back along the walkway, up metal staircases, up, up, towards the top of Serenity. He pulled himself out on to her hull, looked around, took in the wreckage of the chamber, knew it was only seconds before the explosion ripped along the fuel pipe into Serenity, and from there along the gas pipes into the settlement –
River had lowered the shuttle as far as she could, but still Mal had to leap for the open hatch. Below him, as he clung on to the hatch’s frame, kicking to find the power to lift himself up, the central area in front of the store, around which the settlement’s homes and workshops had only a short time before been standing, erupted. He was flat on his stomach now, almost completely inside the shuttle, as River, pushing it to its maximum speed, took them from the edge of the blast radius and away from the inferno. He could see over his shoulder through the closing hatch: Serenity, no more. Just fire. The air seeming to blaze, waver, dance with the energy that rose from where she had been.
Good girl. She had done good. Two of the ASREVs had been caught in the blast, exploded outright. The other three knocked clean out of the sky by the shock wave rising from the explosion of Pity’s gas pipes.
He lay unfeeling with his cheek on the shuttle’s metal floor.
“Good girl,” he whispered, while, from over near the shuttle’s controls he heard River sob: “Poor little friend boy!”
Friday, December 18, 2009 3:30 PM
Friday, December 18, 2009 7:16 PM
Friday, December 18, 2009 8:57 PM
Saturday, December 19, 2009 4:46 AM
Saturday, December 19, 2009 10:51 AM
Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:51 AM
Sunday, December 20, 2009 12:49 PM
Thursday, December 31, 2009 9:42 AM
Monday, January 04, 2010 4:27 PM
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.