Quest - Chapter 23
Thursday, April 8, 2010

Allan's plan begins to come together and an old friend joins the team. We also see what's been happening with Sara on Earth and what's been happening to Maria.


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.


AN: Starting to build here folks.


Quest - Chapter Twenty Three


“How's the wing, Jeff?” Allan asked his son-in-law.

Jeff moved his arm around, “Still a little sore. But it's workable.”

“We all loaded up?” Mal asked as he strode up to his friend and son.

“Just waiting on the last missile loads from the armory, Dad,” Jeff replied.

Mal grunted. Not one hundred percent happy with arming his ship. Again. Neither did he feel entirely comfortable with some parts of the plan. “Still don't like your part o' this operation, Allan.”

“It's not like I'm going in alone. I'll have Zoë with me.” Allan replied.

“Neither o' you are spring chicken's no more.”

“Same can be said for you too, Dad,” Jeff remarked.


Mal was interrupted as a hover approached the three Fireflys parked outside the large Blue Sun hangar complex. On it's cargo bed lay the deceptively innocent looking crates that held over thirty ship to ship and ship to ground missiles.

The ground crew accompanying the cargo began to unload the hover and move the preloaded missile racks inside the Firefly, Jeff had named, Endeavor.

On either side, additional crews were doing the same for Mal's ship Tranquility and Cordell Olsen's ship, The Flores. Named after Hipolito Flores. The Alliance maintenance tech who had been killed in the attack on Quest.

“Frigates all set?” Jeff asked

Allan nodded, “Bobbie and James are on test hops. Heracles and Challenger should be back in a few hours.”

“Good,” Mal replied, “What about the other boats?”

“I took Endeavor up this morning,” Jeff replied, “I gotta hand it to you Uncle Allan. Your new drive is shiny...”

Allan smiled, “Cordell and Vicki took Flores up a little while ago with Rachel along to train them up on the FTL. Said the same thing.”

“The jump is so smooth...” Jeff began.

Allan interrupted his son-in-law/adopted nephew, “That it should be safe for us to go get Sara, Becca and Clay once this is over.”

“Why not first?” Mal asked.

“Sara's carrying my grandchild,” Allan said, “And you know her. She'd be on the front line of this, baby or not. And Becca would be right behind her.”

“You're right,” Jeff nodded.

Just then, a shuttle landed nearby. It's engines didn't even shut down as a single figure debarked. A tall woman with graying blonde hair and carrying several duffel bags over her shoulders. She began walking purposefully across the concrete of the landing area. Allan's face split into a grin when the woman got close.


Captain Sylvia Marsh dropped her bags and ran to Allan, giving her old friend a hug, “Hey there, Ge-ge.”

Allan stood back and noticed what his old friend was wearing. Sylvia was dressed in Jeans, boots, a plain blouse, overcoat and most noticeable, a nickel plated automatic strapped to either hip. Allan smiled even wider, “Going somewhere, Syl?”

“Yeah... to help you kick the ass of the sonzabitches that tried to kill my boy.”

Mal grinned as did Jeff, “Glad to have you with us, Aunt Sylvia,” the younger man said.

“How are you doing, Jeff?” Sylvia asked. Noting the slowly fading bruises on Jeff's face and arms.

“Still sore but I'm not as purple as I was.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“Not that I don't mind you taggin along, Sylvia,” Mal began, “But ain't you still Captain o' Kansas?”

“As of yesterday, I am officially retired,” Sylvia grinned.

“You mean the Alliance had enough to pay your pension?” Allan asked jokingly. It was an old joke between the two of them. Sylvia, Like Allan had been born on Earth. And she had commanded the Kansas. An Exodus ship that had been nearly destroyed in an accident.

Kansas had drifted into the system nineteen years before and Sylvia along with several others had been the only survivors in cryo. One of the survivors was Jeff's crewmate on Quest, Mellisa Forbes.

“Well, I took a settlement. It really would have bankrupted the pension fund if they had to back date things, four hundred years,” Sylvia joked. After Kansas had been salvaged and turned into a traveling museum ship, Sylvia had returned to command the vessel.

Mal smiled, “Good to hear.”

“Where should I put my gear?”

“Derick's my Engineer for this mission,” Jeff said, “I got room.”

Sylvia shook her head, “If Rachel's on board. I don't want to crowd my son.”

Mal chuckled, “I'm sure Jayne wouldn't mind you crowdin him a might...”

Allan smiled and thought for a moment, “Cordell's running a little short handed,” he said.


Allan nodded, “Cordell Olsen. Just retired from the fleet himself. He was with us on the trip to Earth.”

Sylvia nodded, “Derick told me about him. Think he could use a co-pilot?”

“I think that's a given. You still remember how to drive a Firefly?” Allan grinned.

“In my sleep, Ge-ge...”


Introductions were quickly made. However, Vickie growled something under her breath when Cordell smiled at Sylvia.

“Relax,” Sylvia said, “I know a taken man when I see one. Besides. I'm not looking for anything but payback against the assholes who tried to kill my son.”

“I will be glad to have your experience, Captain Marsh,” Cordell said sincerely.

“You've probably got more experience at this sort of thing than I do. And it's just Sylvia. I left the gold braid behind when I retired. Before Kansas, I was a fighter and test pilot. I'm just here to help Vicki fly.”

Vicki seemed to relax. Before anything else could be said, Alex Woodard Walked up to them. She looked terrible. Like she hadn't slept in days. Considering what had happened, that was the likely scenario, “Engines and FTL are ready to go,” the mechanic said.

Sylvia took a long hard look at Alex. She was holding it together in order to get the job done but she knew from her own personal experience and psychology degree, Alex needed to properly grieve for Hipolito.

Sylvia, put out her hand, “I'm Sylvia Marsh. Derick's Mother.”

Alex took the offered hand and sniffled once, “Hello..”

Sylvia frowned slightly and pulled Alex into a hug, “I'm so sorry for your loss. When this is all over, You and me are going to find a bar, get plastered and I'll tell you all about how I lost Derick's father and you can tell me all about Hipolito.”

Alex sniffed again and nodded against Sylvia's shoulder, “I'd like that.”

Cordell cleared his throat, “We need to get ready for departure. We're first due for takeoff.”

“Right, Skipper,” Vicki replied, “Come on, Sylvia, let's get you gear aboard and then we can start the preflight.”

At random intervals over the next five hours, three Fireflys and two frigates departed the Blue Sun port complex. As soon as each ship broke orbit, it set course for a different destination. To anyone watching, everything looked like business as usual.

Heracles and Challenger, on their normal flight plans, shuttling between Blue Sun's various facilities around the 'Verse. The two brand new Fireflies being delivered to their new owners and Tranquility setting course as expected for Boros.

As soon as each vessel was beyond planetary sensor range of Londinium, they engaged their FTL drives and jumped to a rendezvous point Near Newhall. One of the three moons orbiting Pengali in the Kaidasa system. The other being Belix and of course, Oberon. Home to Altair Shipbuilding.

As last to depart, Tranquility was next to last to arrive. Having had to drop, Allan, Zoë and Melissa off at Serenity Acres in order for them to retrieve Allan's ship, Freebird.

Once everyone had arrived, a large conference was held over the cortex between the vessels. Including a new arrival. An old friend who had rounded up their two impostor Reaver ships and fitted them with the necessary equipment to allow remote control.

That old friend was Mal's cousin, Monty.


You sure this will work, Allan?” Monty's gray bearded face said on the cortex screen, “Ain't no one hardly believed in Reavers when there were some. Now that they is all gone...”

“Not entirely,” Monty,” Allan replied, “Had a run in a week ago.”

“On your test run... damn. I sure wouldn't mind a shiny FTL drive for ole' Walrus here.”

Allan smiled at his old friend, “Once this is over, I'll see what I can do.”


“Everything is proceeding normally,” said the obstetrician.

Sara nodded and pulled her shirt back down. The doctor had just confirmed her due date as well as getting the first Doppler of her child's heartbeat. The faint thrumming of her baby's heartbeat had made her grin from ear to ear.

“Development is right on track for nine weeks,” the doctor continued, “How have you been feeling?”

“Like go-se...”

“Pardon me?”

Sara chuckled slightly, “Sorry, Doctor. Go-se is Chinese for crap. The morning sickness has been murder.”

The doctor nodded, “I can prescribe an anti-emetic to help. You need to keep your weight up if you're having trouble keeping food down.”

“Anything you can do for the mood swings? They've locked up my guns for some reason...”

The doctor paled, “Guns?”

“A joke, Doc,” Sara grinned.

“Oh... quite.”

“My mom was a soldier and cop. I've been around firearms all my life.”

The doctor nodded, “It is quite hard to fathom that you came to Earth from forty light years away.”

Sara smiled and sat a little straighter, “It was a lot of work. I just got a message the other day that I've been nominated for our version of the Nobel Prize in Physics this year.”

“Congratulations,” the Doctor smiled.

“Thanks. I didn't do it alone. Your next patient is my best friend. She helped with the development as well.”

“Does she hold a doctorate too?”

Sara shook her head, “Masters in Propulsion Engineering. That's what my minor was.”

“You are both so young,” the graying doctor commented.

We get that a lot. My IQ is over one eighty. Becca's is around one seventy. About that same as her dad's. Mine is a couple of points higher than my Father's. Mom is about one twenty five.”


“No... that's Becca's Aunt. Well sorta mine too, unofficially. Aunt River's IQ is almost off the charts. More than two fifty.”

The doctor's eyes shot wide, “That is unheard of.”

“Just about. My Dad said Aunt River should have been the next Einstein. Instead she was tricked into what her parents thought was a special school. It wasn't. They did things to her. Well, she teaches high school art and dance now.”

“A terrible waste”

Sara nodded in agreement, “She did help me with some of the calculations for my FTL system though...”


Rear Admiral Stephen Henderson sat back in the flag chair on the bridge of the destroyer, Navajo, “What is our ETA, Captain Suzuki?”

Nobu Suzuki turned to face his superior, “Twenty eight minutes, Sir.”

“Very good.”

“Sir,” Suzuki began, “I was wondering why you, as the director of the Bureau of Ships needed to come all the way out here to inspect Altair Shipbuilding's operation?”

The admiral nodded, “Fair question. You've been in destroyers, most of your career, correct?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Makes it easier to answer then,” the graying admiral smiled, “Altair has never built a warship before. All they had built before were large bulk ore freighters and passenger transports. They placed a bid that was thirty percent lower than their nearest competitors for the new destroyer contract.”

“Thirty percent?” Suzuki asked, surprised.

The admiral frowned, “That was my reaction as well. This contract was signed before the shakeup at the Admiralty. By Rosales himself.”

Suzuki matched the Admiral's frown, “That does begin to explain some things.”

“It does,” Henderson replied, “It's the only reason I'm sporting this star on my collar instead of the eagles you are, Captain. I was thinking of retiring until the scandal hit. The housecleaning opened up a few flag rank slots and I was the senior captain with the engineering background to take over at the Bureau of Ships.”

The Captain grinned, “I just drive em', Sir. I don't know what makes them work.”

Admiral Henderson chuckled, “Hence the answer to your original question. Do you want to drive a totally new class of destroyer that was built by a yard that underbid both Allied Shipbuilding and Blue Sun. Without a through inspection of their building practices?”

“Certainly not, Sir,” Suzuki replied, glancing across the bridge to where the dedication plaque for his ship was mounted. Proudly proclaiming that the Navajo was built by the Blue Sun Yards of Londonium.

Henderson grinned wider, “And don't give me that, 'I only drive em', line. I looked at your folder. You've spent as much time as a ship's engineer as I have.”

Suzuki chuckled, “All in Tin Can's, Sir. I didn't help salvage the Kansas like you did.”

“Read my bio too, huh?” the Admiral chuckled.

“Just a little,” the younger officer admitted.

“Well in that case, why don't you accompany me down. I could use a destroyer-man's perspective.”

“I'd be honored, Sir.”


Jordan Pike smiled as he stepped down the ramp of his yacht. The CEO gazed across the green lawns of his estate, set alongside the sparkling mountain lake that lay behind the huge house.

“The staff has done well keeping the place up,” Pike commented to his assistant.

The large man nodded. The 'staff' as Pike called them were not employees. Slavery had been outlawed for decades. As was forced indenture. That didn't stop Pike.

Oberon had only been terriformed and certified for habitation for six years. His shipyard was rebuilt from the original main terriforming station in orbit. Nearly everyone who worked in the shipyard or as the 'staff' at his home wasn't there of their own free will. Other than some very well paid enforcers to keep the slaves in line. Pike was a user.

Just like he was about to 'use', Maria Flores. Hipolito's twenty year old sister.

“Has the girl been prepared?” Pike asked.

His assistant leered, “She's been brought to the 'room' and cleaned up.”

“Good,” Pike smiled, “I'll be...”

“Mr Pike!” called a new voice.

The CEO grumbled, “What?”

The man running up seemed out of breath, “Sir... There is... and Alliance destroyer pulling into orbit. An Admiral Henderson is requesting an inspection... of the dockyard...”

“Cao!” Pike swore.

“Orders, Sir?” asked the newcomer.

“Have the Admiral escorted to the yard. Then arrange for an... industrial accident. The Admiralty cannot find out about how we build their ships or our FTL ships.”

“Yes, Sir,” the second man replied, clearly not happy but unable to do anything about the situation.

“Now, let's go see, Ms. Flores,” Pike grinned.


Maria Flores was beyond frightened. A month previous, she had been pulled from her own bed in the middle of the night and then held captive in a small room.

Six days ago, she had been abruptly removed from her cell, cleaned up and then taken to a spaceport. She didn't know which since she had been blindfolded the entire time. Five days on a ship and now she was somewhere else.

The somewhere else was worse than the cell. She had been allowed to clean up again. Had a real shower. Then an exhaustive medical screening was given by a man with sad eyes. Like he was being forced to conduct the humiliating exam.

She was then told to dress in a skimpy negligee and a leather collar was locked around her neck . Maria was then forcibly dragged to a room with no windows. The room frightened her even more. It looked like something out of a Gothic novel. A chain was attached to her collar and the other end fastened to a hook on the wall. Maria's arms were bound behind her and she was forced to kneel next to the wall.

Tears were running down her face but she refused to scream or plead. The one time she had screamed that she wanted to go home, the man who guarded her simply smiled.

She knew in the back of her mind, what was about to happen but she refused to consciously admit it. One day at a time, one moment at a time. That is how she remained sane. Just trying to survive.


“Aw, shit,” Allan breathed as he saw the Alliance destroyer pull into orbit around Oberon.

“What the hell are they doing here?” Zoë said in the seat next to her husband.

“Dammed if I know,” Allan muttered.

“Do we abort?” Melissa asked.

Allan was thinking furiously, “Not our part,” he said after a moment, “Baby, get Mal and Monty on the line... I got an idea.”




Thursday, April 8, 2010 8:03 AM


Coordination with the alliance inspection would be more efficient.
River or Rachel would help.
Chaos makes for more heroics.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 11:06 AM


Do slave workers get safety protocols or industrial accidents?

Sunday, April 11, 2010 12:17 AM


Great stuff. I agree that the inspection team should be advised of the situation, because not only are thye likely to be sympathetic to Allan et al, but the latter are going to be entirely necessary to stop the 'industrial accident'. Can't wait to hear more!


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