Masks - Part XXVII
Thursday, April 22, 2010

Maya. Post-BDM. Jez faces General Harrington, and memories of her own father begin to surface. NEW CHAPTER (and apologies for the delay)


Mal waited until the Golden Dragon’s shuttle launched to take Flynn and Simon back to Serenity. Jayne, a capable pilot, had carried the stricken man on board, then stuck his head out of the airlock once more.

“You sure you don’t want me to come back?”

“No. I don’t think there’s any fight left in them, and if there is, I’m sure your wife can deal with it.”

Jayne grinned. “Yeah. My moonbrain ain’t to be trifled with.”

“You really are expanding your vocabulary, aren’t you?” Mal shook his head in good humour.

“She does me word lists, like Frey does with the kids. Makes me learn ‘em. Then we practice using ‘em. Sometimes all night.” The chuckle he gave was about as dirty as a man could get, and considering just who this particular man was, it was downright filthy.

Mal looked pained. “You know, I really think I didn’t need to know that.”

Jayne ducked back but appeared again almost immediately. “Hey, remember when I nearly had to deliver Ethan ‘cause the shuttle went down? That was a day and a half. Think you’re ever gonna get her knocked up again?”

“Jayne. Go.”

Jayne grinned and disappeared, the shuttle door closing immediately. In just a couple of minutes Mal felt the shudder that announced they had successfully disengaged, and he turned towards the bay door. The figure of a woman had him drawing up short in surprise.

“Zoe.” His first mate stood gazing at him, smiling slightly. “You planning on giving me another heart attack?” he asked, his hand on his chest.

“Not particularly, sir.”

“Good.” He glanced behind her. “Where’s Kaylee?”

“Well, since the Empress isn’t gonna be blown up any time soon, she’s working with the liner’s engineers to get their power back up and running.”

“We sure about the not being blown up part?”

“Pretty much. I think the timer getting to zero and nothing happening is a damn good indication.”

“I conjure you’re right.” Mal nodded. “So I’m figuring she wouldn’t leave.”

“Nope. She insisted.”

“That girl’ll do anything to work on an engine.”

“That she will, sir.”

“Reckon she’ll be asking for a raise?”

“I don’t doubt it, sir.”

“Me neither.”

“River, on the other hand, was wondering when you were going to get back to her. She’s got the other Laus at the end of Vera, and I don’t think her trigger finger is all that steady.”

“You found her?”

“Just now.”

“Then I’d better stop her ‘fore she spreads parts they need across the bulkhead. And break the news about their brother.”

“Their brother?”

“Chester. He’s the one makin’ a mess.”

Zoe looked around at the human detritus, her expression barely changing. “I’m not sure they’ll cry.”

“Then I’ll bring in my secret weapon.”


“Yep. She’ll make anyone feel sad, she turns on the waterworks.”

“I think Simon would rather you didn’t.”

“Ah well. Then they’re just gonna have to put up with me.”

“I'm sure they’ll cope, sir. What about Frey?”

Mal glanced out of the window towards the Interceptor, Cherokee approaching the damaged vessel. “Jez is dealing with that right now.”


General Harrington had spent the last several minutes swearing loudly and with imagination at his ship, all the gods he could think of, and particularly the bastard who’d taken out his engine.

Freya didn’t make matters any better by insisting on grinning widely and calling out, “Oops.”

“Shut up,” he snarled back at her, continuing to attempt resuscitation on the control boards, knowing he was a sitting duck if he couldn’t bring his guns to bear, but nothing he did was ever going to breathe life back into dead circuits.

Interceptors, by their very nature and armaments, usually won any fight they were in, and it was this fact that had persuaded the new crop of designers at Blue Sun, in their infinite wisdom and from the height of hubris, to decide at the blueprint stage that a shuttle wasn’t necessary on a Viral class. Besides, it would have ruined the sleek lines of their creation. It was only due to the insistence of the Alliance inspectors that an escape pod was a hasty addition, but it was slipped in directly under the engine so as not to be too noticeable, and the rail gun’s rounds had penetrated to its release mechanism. The way things stood, Harrington wasn't going anywhere.

Saffron, in the sweaty lull between contractions, put in, “You deserve everything you get.” She glanced down at the man currently between her thighs, not an uncommon sight but perhaps not in these circumstances. “Well?”

Dr Barkin looked up. “Soon. You’re actually progressing really quickly now.”

“Good.” Saffron could feel another wave coming. “The sooner the better.”

“Okay, get ready to start panting.”

She swore at him, proving that in some ways it really was like father, like daughter.

Harrington stormed into the small lounge. “It’s all your fault,” he said, kicking at Freya, connecting with her thigh even though she tried to scramble away.

She bit her tongue, preferring to taste blood rather than allow herself to give him the satisfaction of crying out. Instead she waited for the pain to subside a little before managing to say, “Interesting point of view.”

“Who the hell are you?” He glared down at her.

“Nobody. Nobody at all.”

“For a damn nobody, someone’s going to a lot of trouble to get you back.”

“I guess I’m just lucky that way.”

“Well, you won’t be much longer.” He reached down, about to release the cuffs, ready to tug her to her feet. “I might not be able to shoot your ship out of the sky, but at least you can go for a long walk.” He glanced significantly towards the airlock.

“No!” Barkin shouted, getting to his feet. “You leave her alone!”

Harrington turned slowly. “Are you planning on stopping me?”

“If I have to.” Barkin balled his fists, holding them up in front of him in the classic pugilist attitude.

Harrington smiled as he drew his gun, his demeanour as cold as ice. “It looks like my daughter is going to have to do without her doctor, too.”

The ship shuddered.

“Too late,” Freya whispered.


Cherokee crept forward until their airlocks mated and Noah got confirmation of a firm seal. “Jez, we’re set,” he said over his internal com. “Cherokee’s overridden their controls so their door will open when ours does.”

“’Kay. We’re going in.”

“Be careful.”

“Aren’t I always?”

“No. Otherwise I wouldn’t say it.”

Down in the cargo bay Jez smiled tightly at Laura, then nodded. The gunhand opened the inner airlock door, the Interceptor’s following suit.

Harrington stared at the two women framed in the doorway. “What the hell ...” He dragged his gun around, determined to end these interlopers on board his ship.

Freya was quicker. She swept her legs, her calves connecting with his shins, pushing him off balance. He fired, but the bullet whined over Laura’s head into Cherokee’s bay, burying itself in a crate.

Laura, her reflexes on a par with Jayne’s, resisted the urge to duck – which would have been far too late anyway – and pulled her own trigger.

Harrington’s gun flew from his fingers to hit the wall, dropping to the deck with a clang that seemed to reverberate throughout the small ship. He tried to get his equilibrium back, but Freya kicked out, the toe of her boot catching him behind his knee and throwing him forwards onto his chest, winding him.

Hands gripped him, turning him over, and he came face to face with a woman with dark, chin-length hair and a strong nose.

“Do not shoot up my ship,” Jez ground out, the barrel of her gun grinding bone under Harrington’s chin.

Saffron screamed, despite the painkillers Barkin had given her, and he was back at his station in a moment, checking her progress.

“I want to push,” Saffron ground out.

“Not yet.”

“Don't you rutting tell me when I can gorram push!” she yelled at him. “Who’s having this baby?”

“Mrs Reynolds –”

“Don’t you Mrs Reynolds me!” In a strangely appropriate way, the congested colour of her face was rapidly coming to match her hair.

“Mrs Reynolds?” Jez asked, spoke to Freya, her gun not moving a micron. “There something I’ve missed somewhere?”

Freya sighed, but made the introductions. “Jez, meet Saffron. Saffron, meet Jez.”

“Saffron? As in the Saffron? As in the leaving of a certain Firefly captain naked in the middle of the desert Saffron?”

Another sigh, bigger than the previous, erupted from Freya’s lips. “The very same.”

“As in the trying to get him arrested for bigamy Saffron?”


“As in the –”


Jez risked raking her eyes up and down the pregnant woman. “You think there’s something Mal’s not telling you?”

“Laura, can you get his key?” Freya ignored her comment, saying instead as she rattled the cuffs, “It’s in his vest pocket.”

Laura went down onto her heels, feeling inside Harrington’s jacket and coming up with the key. It was only the work of a moment to release Freya, helping her to stand when her knees tried to give way.

“Are you okay?” Laura asked, her eyes full of concern.

“Concussed, I think,” Freya admitted. “Someone hit me.” She managed to straighten up. “I’ll be fine.”

“Best you get your Simon to take a look at you when you get home.”

“Home.” Freya had to smile. “I can’t wait.”

“I know the feeling,” Laura agreed fervently.

All the while they were talking, neither Jez nor Harrington had moved, but now Cherokee’s captain said, very quietly, “Take them back on board our ship.”

Laura’s eyebrows drew down. “No, I think I should stay with you.”

Jez grinned, putting everyone in mind of a shark eyeing up its next meal. “It’s okay. I’ll be fine. Just take them with you. I think this gentleman and me need to have a little chat.”

“Jez –” Freya began.

“It’s okay. Make sure Mrs Reynolds here is comfortable. I'm sure Ida will help.”

Freya studied her face, and, if truth be told, tried to read her mind a little. For a long moment she considered staying, but with the concussion she was sure she had, she’d be little use. Instead she nodded, then moved closer, whispering something.

Jez's face hardened. “Thanks,” she murmured. “Mal told me a little, but …”

“Just be careful,” Freya warned, then followed Barkin as he assisted Saffron out into Cherokee’s main bay.

Laura took one long, last look at her best and oldest friend then strode after them, stationing herself just the other side of the airlock, gun still drawn, and damn her orders.

Jez let Harrington sit up, holding his hand to the rapidly-forming bruise under his chin, feeling a little blood where the barrel had broken the skin.

Puo foo,” he spat.

“Not nice.” Jez moved slowly backwards until she could sit on the padded bench along the wall. “And here I am sincerely wondering whether I’m going to let you go or not.”

“Of course you are.” He examined the redness on his hand. “I'm General Sean Harrington, and if you touch me again I’ll have you hunted down and executed.”

She held it in, the hatred every Browncoat felt for the man who’d left so many of their compatriots to die while he discussed the fine print of the surrender of Serenity Valley. Instead of gutting him there and then, she merely said, “You think so, do you? Because as far as I can see, you were the one about to fire on another ship, probably on the liner too. But then, I suppose you can't leave witnesses, can you?”

His lips tightened. “No idea what you’re talking about.”

“Of course not.” She smiled slightly. “So what was this all about? Taking hostages, including a pregnant woman.”

“She’s my daughter.”

“Is that so? Because I didn’t see much in the way of fatherly concern over her. More like you were looking at her as a brood mare.”

“Nonsense. I was merely taking her home. And this is none of your business.”

“Hmmn. See, I might agree, except that I know different.” The words Freya had whispered to her friend danced around her head like leaves caught in a funnel of wind. “Somehow I don’t think her welfare is at the top of your agenda.”

“As I said it’s none of your affair. But just to satisfy your curiosity, she carries my grandson.”

“No. She carries her son.” Jez looked at this man, glaring at her, probably wishing she would spontaneously combust. She studied him. “And you were going to take him from her.”

“What if I was?” He’d had enough. He got to his feet, slowly, carefully, leaning on the bulkhead. “My daughter is a disgrace. Do you know what she does? She marries men then robs them. Do you think that’s a good mother for my grandson?”

“That’s not up to you to decide.”

“But it is.” He stood straight. “I won’t have this boy raised by someone like that. My name dragged through the mud.” He moved slightly to his left. “The child will come with me. He will be raised properly. To respect his elders.”

Jez heard the words, but it was from another man, echoed back from more than twenty years, sitting behind that damn desk, his hands clasped on the green leather. He’s my grandson. And I’ll make sure he’s brought up to respect his elders. Unlike you. Different face, same gorram attitude. “No.”

General Harrington glared at her. “You have nothing to do with this. He belongs to me.”

“I won’t let you.”

“You honestly think you’re going to be able to stop me? My dear woman, do you have any idea who I am?” He made it sound like an insult. “I have money. Connections. You have nothing. You’re insignificant. I will get what I want. Whether it’s now or later. But I will have that child.”

“Oh, I know exactly who you are. And I’m telling you, it isn’t happening."

He’d been moving, almost imperceptibly, travelling along the wall towards the bridge, and now he lunged, grabbing the gun that had flown from his fingers, aiming and firing in the same movement.

to be continued


Thursday, April 22, 2010 4:54 AM


This is soo good, my friend. I am loving the action and Harrington is just a real bastard. LOL! You make me what to love to hate him and that is the work of a great writer. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010 5:43 AM


What is it with rich idiots don't understand the concept of mortality?

I'll explain for Harrington, in small words. Bullet plus brain equals no hunt down. Corpse plus airlock plus that little piece of ordnance on the Empress? NO EVIDENCE, and no jury on earth would convict them, what with there being many advocates still alive and unexploded.

Looks like we're rapidly coming to a resolution here, unless of course, he's just shot Flynn's mother and escapes, which actually wouldn't surprise me. God only knows why Jez didn't just shoot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:39 PM


Hanging on the edge of my seat... as usual :-)

Thursday, April 22, 2010 2:14 PM


What is it with rich arrogant men and a death wish?

Glad this cliffhanger is a bit easier to wait for than your last one.

Saturday, April 24, 2010 1:36 PM


Late as usual but still it's a wonderful chapter.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 2:39 AM


Haven't commented in a while.. letting the story take shape.. and I can say without a doubt, you are the mistress of cliffhangers... AHHHHHH!!!!

Yes Please.. May we have another???

Monday, August 30, 2010 9:30 AM


Oh crap, please don't let anything happen to Jez. That gorram piece of *shen goushi* Harrington needs to take a walk out of the airlock - without a gorram EVA suit. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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Monied Individual - Part VI
“This is one of those dreams, ain’t it? Where Jayne ends up riding an elephant and singing in Latin.” He looked at his crew again, all of whom were, at least metaphorically, drawing back from him. “Okay, so you don’t have those. Maybe I am going crazy after all.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters are keeping a lot of things up their sleeves, and Mal is determined to find out what.]

Monied Individual - Part V
“Well, let’s see. Hank and Kaylee are off seeing if they can get that generator back to strength, and Zoe’s watching out for ‘em. I ain’t letting Simon or River in the same room as Badger if I can help it, and as much fun as it could be seeing Inara trying to buckle on a gunbelt around that pregnancy of hers, it ain’t gonna happen. That leaves Sam, and I ain’t even gonna try and warp his sensibilities by suggesting he wear one.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Badger holds a tea party, Hank works for his living, and the results are in. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part IV
“Pleased to meet you,” Hank said, having to stop himself from wiping his hand down his pants. The touch of the other man’s hand had been like old paper, dry and brittle. It reminded him of one of the vids he’d watched recently, about a mummified corpse coming back to life. Except that was ridiculous.

[Maya. Post-BDM. It's time to meet the enem- sorry, family.]

Monied Individual - Part III
“You two really need to get a room.” Simon’s voice drifted through from the rear of the cargo bay.
“We had one,” Mal growled. “And you shouldn’t be listening in to private conversations.”
“Why not?” the doctor asked, walking towards them. “It seems to be the major preoccupation of this crew. When we’re not actually doing crime, of course.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew get their first sight of the Triskelion mansion, and Simon stirs the pot.]

Monied Individual - Part II
“I don’t know what you all have against me being rich. I’d share, you know that. But you seem determined to keep me poor!” He stormed out, the door crashing closed behind him.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew learn more about Hank's good fortune, and try to come to grips with the Triskelion family tree.]

“After we deliver the goods we can set Serenity down somewhere cold. See some real snow.”

Merry Christmas to everyone! Just another in my occasional series of Mal/Jayne conversations, this time with a season theme. Enjoy!

Monied Individual - Part I
Hank’s parents had died when he was young, and his grandmother had brought him up. Mal considered it was her fault he was the way he was, but that was unfair – Hank was who he was always destined to be. Or possibly he was meant to be someone else entirely.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A new story for your delectation and delight. Persephone, Badger and lawyers ... what could possibly go wrong?]

Secrets - Part XXVIII - Conclusion
River shook herself, turning from the rabbit hole. She didn’t feel like being Alice, and while Jayne’s grin sometimes made her think of the Cheshire Cat, the dormouse was asleep and likely to remain so. Of much more interest were the secrets. So many, some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue. And for once she didn’t care if she was referencing the Earth-that-was marriage ceremony. That wasn’t the point. Inara, the Bodens, Harper Lecomb and the Culver diamond, Randall Lecomb and his homicidal tendencies … all secrets, overlaid with the flavour of the Alliance and their need to control.
[Maya. Post-BDM. Secrets comes to a conclusion, but some are still waiting to see the light of day.]

Secrets- Part XXVII
“I don’t always trust him when he’s operating on Jayne. A slip of the scalpel, too many drugs, too little oxygen, and I would be a free woman. My worries. Not his thoughts. But he is my brother. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. And we have experienced them all.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Home stretch now on Secrets, with the crisis passed for now and decisions made. Thanks so much for those of you who have stuck with this!]

Secrets - Part XXVI
"Have you never done that? In all those times you were treating someone in the hospital, when you were the great Doctor Tam, didn’t you once tell less than the truth to someone if it made them feel less desperate?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's fate, and what follows. My apologies for the wait!]