Quest - Chapter 20
Saturday, March 20, 2010

Quest has been attacked. The crew is in grave peril. Can they escape?


Disclaimer: Joss, Fox, Universal Own em’. I’m just playing. No money being made. The situations come from my own twisted mind as do my original characters.




Quest-Chapter Twenty


The port airlock and access to the docking arm was thirty five meters aft and one deck down from Quest's galley. As the crew pounded across the deck plates, only one thing was on their minds... survival.

Rachel was the first to reach the airlock lobby, Derick on her heels, followed closely by Melissa, Meghan, Joe and Sherri.

Cordell Olsen, Vicki Baxter and Alex Woodard were a few yards behind. Bringing up the rear were Jefferson and Hipolito.

Just as the two men were about to run through the door to the main airlock, the first missile struck. The explosion knocking both men off their feet. Before Jeff and 'Lito could regain their footing, the second and third missiles struck Quest. A low rumble could be heard throughout the ship as the fuel tanks ruptured.

“Go!” screamed Jeff as he tried to pull Hipolito to his feet.

“I'm fine! Get moving, Jeff!” the mechanic screamed back as the gravity suddenly failed.

Outside, Quest shuddered for a moment as the fuel tanks began to ignite. The fuel flashed in the darkness for just a moment. The air inside the ship feeding the flames for a second of so. Not long but long enough.

Quest's hull ruptured midway down the ship's length, where the space frame was weakest. The junctions of the three docking bays. The force of the explosion breaking away the entire aft end of the ship. The impact was so great that while still attached to the dockyard, the forward half of the ship broke away, trailing most of the docking arm along with it.

“Cap'n!” screamed Joe Park as he and Commander Olsen tried to pull Jeff through the open hatch. The air in the compartment was howling through the opening. Venting into space through the many hull breaches.

Derick was manually holding the override for the automatic airtight doors. As the atmo in the entire forward half of the ship tried to exit through the last open door.

In the maelstrom of air, Jeff tried to hold onto Hipolito's hand. Everyones ears began to pop as the air pressure dropped rapidly.

“Come on!” Jeff urged.

“Leave me!” Hipolito screamed back.

“You go, we go!”

“Cap! We're loosing all the air!” Joe yelled.

To Jeff's horror, Hipolito tried to break free, “Are you feng-le?” he screamed over the din.

“You're gonna be a father... tell Sara I'm sorry!”

With those words, Hipolito wrenched his hand free from Jeff's and was immediately sucked down the corridor and out the widening hull breech just a score of yards away.

Alexandra screamed his name.

With a last heave, Joe and Cordell hauled Jeff through the hatch. The task made easier without the drag of the now lost Hipolito Flores.

As soon as Jeff cleared the door, Derick released the manual override and the automatic door slammed shut.

Without the flow of air, Jeff was flung across the compartment in the now weightless environment. He bounced off the opposite bulkhead.

“Gorrammit!” Jeff bellowed. Furious both at the Alliance mechanic and the sudden pain in his shoulder from his impact with the wall. It felt like he had just dislocated his shoulder.

“We don't have much air,” a visibly shaken Sherri said. The compartment was just barely lit by the emergency lights.

Derick pushed off and made his way to a computer terminal. With difficulty, he was able to bring up some of the backup system displays.

“We're humped,” the nineteen year old engineer said after a moment, “The aft end of the ship looks like it's broken away from the forward half. And all the internal bulkheads out of here are sealed.”

“We're floating free,” Rachel said as she looked through the only window they had. The window in the main door that led to the docking arm, “The docking arm has broken away from the platform.”

An alternating vista of stars and Londinium could be seen beyond the mangled docking arm as what was left of Quest tumbled in space.

“Cao!” Jeff swore.

“This is the the airlock lobby... how many EVA suits are there in here?” Melissa asked.

“Six,” Joe Park replied.

That news sat heavily on the survivors. There were ten people left in the compartment.

Cordell and Jeff shared a look. Jeff nodded.

“No!” Rachel yelled, reading the two men's minds, “There must be another way!”

Jeff shook his head and floated over to his 'cousin'. Pulling her close with his good left arm, “I'm sorry Rachel... this is the only way.”

The teen aged psychic blinked back tears, “Sara's gonna kick your ass all the way to hell when it's her time...”

Jeff snorted once, “I reckon you're right.”

“No, Jeff,” Melissa stated, “Hipolito was right. You're going to be a father.”

“I'm the Captain. It's my responsibility.”

“As it is mine,” Commander Olsen said as he floated nearer to Jeff.

“Jien tah-duh gway, Cordell” Vicki snarled.

“You and Chief Woodard will don suits. That's an order, Lt. Commander.


“It's an order, Vicki... please.”

“Gorrammit, Cordell,” Vicki said as she launched herself at her commander and lover. Kissing him fiercely.

Jeff cleared his throat and looked at his crew, “I need two volunteers...”

“I'll stay,” Joe Park said immediately. He was former special forces and knew that death could come at any time.

“I... I'll stay,” Derick Marsh said after a moment.

Jeff shook his head, “No Derick... not you.”


“I'll stay,” Melissa said.

“Sis!” Derick exclaimed.

Melissa blinked back her tears and pulled her adopted little brother into her arms, “Take care of Mom...”

Derick hugged his big sister.

“Now we got that all settled, get those suits on, Ma-shong!” Jeff ordered, a hitch in his voice. They didn't have much time for goodbyes.

Meghan had already begun to pull pressure suits out of the storage lockers. As she activated the first one, a burst of static could be heard from the suit's com.

“... Quest, this is Heracles. Do you read?” said the very familiar and welcome voice of Captain Roberta Sutherland.


Bobbie Sutherland and her small crew had just returned with Heracles from a shakedown cruise after the ship had received an overhaul. They had just hit high orbit over Londonium on the other side of the planet from the Blue Sun yards when she had gotten the alarm that Quest and the dockyard were under attack.

She had immediately gone for hard burn and sling shotted around the planet. Arriving too late to stop the attack.

But maybe in time to save Quest's crew.

“Bobbie... that you?” Jeff said into the suit com.

Bobbie sighed with relief, “Good to hear your voice, Jeff.”


“What's your status?” the Heracles' Captain asked.

“There's ten of us in the port airlock lobby. Not much air and only six EVA suits.”

Bobbie swore to herself. She had just checked the trajectory for what was left of Quest, “Gets worse Jeff. Looks like you're about twenty minutes from atmo. The yard is scrambling a tug but I don't know if it will make it in time.”

Jeff scowled and glanced at Rachel. The genius shook her head. They had approximately fifteen minutes of air left. There was a small leak somewhere and the pressure was slowly dropping.

“Don't think we've got that much time. We're still loosing atmo.”

“Cao,” Bobbie swore, “Can you jettison what's left of the docking arm?”

Jeff looked at his only remaining engineer. Derick nodded his head, “Might be able to do it but I'm gonna need Alex's help.”

The Alliance mechanic had been floating in the corner of the room, tears floating off in the zero gravity. All she could think of was that the last words she had said to Hipolito had been fairly harsh. At the mention of her name, Alex looked up, “Shenme?”

“Derick thinks he can get what's left of the docking arm jettisoned. But he needs your help, Alex,” Jeff said quietly.

Alex nodded and pushed off the bulkhead towards the teen aged engineer. “What do we have for tools?” the fleet maintenance tech asked.

“Just the EVA kits from the suits,” Derrick replied.

“We'll make do,” she replied as the pair set to work.

Sherri was floating from person to person, checking everyone's nail beds for the first signs of cyanosis. After consulting with Jeff, it was decided to let Alex and Derick use a pair of the suits so they could continue to work as the air pressure dropped.

The pair worked as quickly as they could. Rewiring the emergency jettisoning system and trying to find power somewhere to activate the explosive bolts.

Meanwhile, Bobbie maneuvered Heracles closer to Quest's remains. The ship was tumbling in all three axises. If they could get the arm jettisoned, it would be tricky trying to dock. Bobby knew she was a skilled pilot. Probably one of the best currently flying in space. She hoped she would be good enough. Because if she couldn't, the best pilot in the 'Verse would probably kill her if anything happened to Rachel Cobb.

Bobbie was not ashamed to admit, River Cobb scared her.


“Need power from somewhere...” Derick said. His voice muffled by the oxygen mask he wore.

“What... about... the lights...” Jeff gasped out. The air was getting thin.

“Not enough juice,” Alex replied as she blinked away tears. Her head was killing her as the pressure dropped, she swallowed to try and equalize the pressure in her ears. Both she and Derick were wearing EVA suits sans the gloves and with the helmet visors open. It was the best way to keep then working efficiently.

Meghan and Sherri held each other and tried not to use too much air. Likewise, Cordell held onto Vicki. Jeff sluggishly put his good arm around Rachel. Pulling her close.

“I got it!” Derick exclaimed as he ripped open the cover on his suit's power pack. Working quickly, he jumped wires from the jettison control panel to the contacts on the power pack.

A spark jumped and the young man swore, his fingertips taking the brunt of the arc. Just as he thought it hadn't worked. The muffled thumps of explosive bolts firing could be heard.

“Yes!” he yelled as the oxygen stopped flowing in his suit, the power cell depleted.


Bobbie was getting nervous. They were moments from hitting atmo. Already atmospheric drag had slowed the two ships. Luckily it had slowed Quest's rate of tumble as well.

“Come on, come on...” Bobbie chanted.

“Hell yeah!” she cried out as the mangled docking arm fell free of the ship, propelled away by the force of the explosive bolts.

“Hang on guys, we only got one shot at this,” Bobbie said to her co-pilot who had crowded the small bridge along with the weapons officer.

Thrusters bursting all over the hull, Heracles matched Quest's tumble. With a burst of the main engines, the small warship shot forward, slamming against Quest's airlock.

“Kevin, Go!” she shouted over the intercom to her first mate who waited in the ships airlock.

Overriding the safeties, Kevin Lucas opened the outer door, ignoring the hiss of escaping air from the imperfect seal. Working quickly, he and Heracles' engineer forced open the outer and then inner airlock doors leading into Quest. Praying that they were in time.

Shining lights into the darkness, they were rewarded by the sight of Alexandra Woodard moving about, and getting her shipmates ready to move. Heracles' medic was waiting just outside ready to assist in any way she could.

With the rush of air from the other ship, Derick began to grab his nearly unconscious crew mates and float them towards Heracles.

In moments everyone had been moved off Quest. “If we got everybody, close the door! We're hittin air!” Bobbie called from the bridge.

Kevin smashed the door close button and the hatch slammed shut, “Go, Bobbie!”

Heracles' engine pods swiveled and blue fire erupted from the exhausts. The ship shot away from Quest's hulk and reoriented itself for a proper reentry. As the cutter began to slow, Quest pulled ahead, already parts breaking off and burning up in the atmosphere.

Quickly, Bobbie calculated the most likely debris path for Quest and grumbled. It was entirely possible that large chunks of the ship could land in or near New Halifax. With a silent prayer, Captain Roberta Sutherland fired six missiles into Quest's burning hulk.

What was left of the ship would now fall harmlessly into the sea.


While the drama in orbit around Londinium played out, Allan, Zoë , Mal, Inara, Kaylee and Simon sat around the Bryant's dining room table, enjoying their after dinner drinks.

River and Jayne had already excused themselves as they didn't want to waste the opportunity provided by Jesse, their youngest, being out of the house and staying with friends for the weekend.

Jayne had mentioned something about 'Rutting in every gorram room in the house' before being dragged out the door by a giggling River.

Simon nearly spit his wine across the table while the rest, merely chuckled. Since Jesse was the only child of Serenity that still lived at home, River and Jayne were trying to catch up with the rest of the crew, who's children were either working or at school.

Mal raised his glass to Allan, “Here's ta' Allan. Smartest man I know.”

“Hear hear,” Simon added, raising his glass as well.

Allan chuckled while Zoë pecked him on the cheek, “That's my man,” she grinned.

“Thanks,” Allan smiled.

“So, now that Freebird is officially the fastest ship in the 'Verse. What's next?” Mal asked.

Allan grinned, “She won't be the fastest for very long. Kaylee and I finished the modifications to Tranquility this afternoon. All she needs is a quick flight test and she'll be the fastest Firefly around. We've also got the retrofit kit built for Sara Jane. As soon as we head back to Earth, we'll install the kit and Sara can fly her own ship back.”

“Now' that's somethin,” Mal replied.

“What are your plans for the system, Allan?” Inara asked.

“Right now, I want to keep it close to the vest. From the Wave I got from Jeff this morning, Someone out there has the entire design plans for Quest. And the proprietary software to control the FTL system.”

Mal grumbled at that, “My boy say who done it?”

Allan shook his head, “Said he hoped to find out tonight.”

“Do you think it's a competitor?” Simon asked.

“I'm almost certain it is.”

“So that is why you want to keep this new system a secret,” Inara said.

“Yep,” Allan nodded, “The first generation system is revolutionary enough. Now that nearly any vessel with a radion core engine above a certain size and power output can travel faster than light... Well, imaging the havoc that would occur if the wrong people had access to the technology”.

“Even cruisers would be under threat from a small ship since the attacking vessel could jump in and out of weapons range before the other ship could even react.”

“That is a might troublin,” Mal agreed.

“Until the 'Verse is ready for routine FTL travel, I'll think we'll keep this toy for ourselves.”

“Good thinkin...” Mal was interrupted by a crying River and upset Jayne barging through the front door.

“Quest's been attacked,” Jayne said without preamble, “River done seen it all. Our girls been hurt.”

Inara immediately pulled the sobbing River into her arms while casting an alarmed look at her husband. Mal and Zoë 's faces hardened.

“Jefferson?” Mal asked. Fearing the worst.

“Alive,” River sniffled. Inara immediately relaxed, “But injured.”

Allan headed immediately for his study and the secure cortex link to Blue Sun headquarters.

“Kaylee?” Mal asked, “Tranquility able to fly?”

“Shr-ah, Cap'n. She's fit to fly on the regular engine and we was gonna try out the FTL in the mornin anyway,” Kaylee replied.

“Get her prepped, Mei-mei,” Mal ordered, “Soon as Allan finds out what's happenin, we'll be on our way.”

“I'll grab our things,” Inara said as she stood slowly, Jayne taking over in comforting his wife. While calm outside. In his mind, the former mercenary seethed with rage. He would rip the hwoon-dahn's arms off if he ever caught who had tried to kill his little girl.

Mal and Zoë shared a look. A look they hadn't shared in years. A look that said that they were going to kill someone once they knew who to target.

Simon slid back his chair, “I'll go get Kaylee's and my things. Then I'll get Tranquility's infirmary prepared.”

“You do that, Simon,” Zoë said quietly, “I need to round up me and Allan's gear.”

Each family kept a few bags packed in case they had to take off in one of the ships quickly. For times just like this.

Allan stepped from his study, his face red with anger, “Someone's gonna fuckin die...”

Zoë was at his side instantly, “What is it, Baby?”

“Quest's been destroyed... totally... gone. Attacked while docked at the Yard. One dead... Hipolito Flores...”

Inara gasped and Mal's face grew stony, “Ain't he one o' the Alliance folks went to Earth?”

Allan nodded, “One of the Maintenance techs for the gunships. Not sure what he was doing on board since all the Alliance people have been returned to their previous duty stations.”

“Jefferson and Rachel?” Inara asked hesitantly.

“Injured. Ship was decompressing. Everyone has a little vacuum shock and cases of the bends from the pressure drop. Jeff's got a dislocated shoulder to boot.. Heracles was in orbit and was able to rescue everyone... thank god,” Allan sighed.

“Reckon we owe Little Red for that,” Mal replied.

Allan nodded, “If it hadn't been Bobbie at the stick... well. We wouldn't have had this good an outcome, I'm sure.”

“How soon can we be on Londinium?” Inara asked.

Allan grinned slightly, despite the seriousness of the situation, “Ten minutes after we break atmo...”




Saturday, March 20, 2010 9:05 PM


The tech is good.
Sounds like Mr Pike will get to dance with River.

Saturday, March 20, 2010 11:57 PM


Terrific stuff. Your action is tense and well-written, while the idea that the rest of the clan are enjoying their meal while all this is going on is classic. And yes, now they go to war.

Sunday, March 21, 2010 1:31 AM


A few Alliance Cruisers asking for a courtesy inspection of their
destroyers under construction at Altair Shipbuilding could be appropriate.


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