The Four Winds, Chapter 17
Monday, June 6, 2011

River finds out what's really going on; Simon and Zoe fall into the wrong hands.


A/N: Because of the rearranging I've been doing, this chapter ended up quite short. Also, the next two chapters need some revision, so I may be a little slower about posting them.


River trailed her fingers along the ends of the stasis chambers that were stacked four deep along the ship's central corridor. The slow heart beats within, the massed sleepers' brain waves, had a soporific effect, and she found her eyelids growing heavy. It would be so easy just to sleep. But then she would dream, and River's dreams were troubled aboard this ship. This ship wasn't like Serenity. Something was wrong, here. She didn't yet know what.

She was approaching the crew's mess. There was a separate mess kitchen for the passengers, stocked and used exclusively by them, but River was just wandering; she wasn't actually interested in food. Voices filtered clearly along the corridor; River wondered if the speakers realized how well the stacked stasis chambers, with their blinking red and green lights, carried the sound.

She was surprised to recognize Frank's voice. "...trouble, when we arrive sooner than they expect?"

"No," said another voice, this one female. "We'll tell them it's just a stopover along our route, and by the time they know any better, it will be too late. Quit worrying."

River paused to listen. What they said was not clear; she listened hard to hear what they weren't saying. What they weren't saying was that the passengers aboard this ship thought they were headed for a colony world out on the Rim. But what River had known all along was that this ship was, in reality, headed for Nassau Point.

Why? Why would the crew carry a bunch of settlers to Nassau Point, instead of to where they thought they were going? She took a few steps closer to the kitchen, listening closely between the words. Frank, who had apparently begun this enterprise as one of the leaders of the settlers, was having an attack of conscience. The woman, whom he addressed as Gliss, was trying to keep him on board with whatever they were plotting.

"They deserve it, don't they?" she purred at him. "They could have elected you governor of the colony, and then it would have been all right."

"But--" Frank said. Glib Frank, motormouth Frank, was having trouble finding words.

"They won't be any worse off. Colony life is hard. This way, they'll be fed, they'll have medical care. And you'll be rich."

River heard clearly between those lines.

These people weren't being carried to a colony world to start a new life of their choosing. They were being carried to Nassau Point. They'd start a new life, all right, but not one they'd choose.

Frank was planning to sell them as slaves.


By the time Coles arrived on the scene, the drop site was a bloody mess, and Blue Sun were gone.

Coles called down a medical team, while the strike team went through the site, looking for wounded.

"Now, listen, I don't know what you people want," said the smallish man in the plaid wool sportcoat who appeared to be the only survivor. He dabbed at his bloodied nose with a handkerchief and waved off the assistance of Coles's medics in irritation. "but I'm an honest businessman, and these were good people here, murdered in cold blood." He jabbed at Coles with the bloody tissue for emphasis. "You're going to find them and see justice done, yeah?"

"Likely not," Coles admitted, as he bent to examine one of the bodies; it looked like the man had died of some sort of hemorrhagic plague.

He didn't doubt, now, that River Tam had really been seen here.

He wondered whether Blue Sun's hunters had found what they came looking for.

"Well then, what's the meaning of all this tramping about putting bloody footprints all over my office?" the weaselly proprietor demanded. "Either I want justice, or I want you lot to be on your way! Got a lot of dead friends here, good men, got to start getting their funerals up, see?"

Coles retrieved a datapad from his aide, and tapped it. He held it out to the odd little man, showing him a picture of River Tam. "Was this woman here?" he asked.

The man squinted at the picture, seeming irritated, and then shrugged. "Nah. Why? She do this?" He waved his free arm to take in the bloody carnage all around.

Coles grunted. He walked away from the proprietor, winding slowly through the mazelike agglomeration of shipping containers and tent poles, stepping around the men who were cataloging the gruesome damage and laying out body bags, glancing at those bodies as he passed. He left one unfamiliar corpse after another lying in pools of slowly congealing blood.

Down a long corridor, a door stood open. Coles could see his people working outside. From the doorway came a shout: "Admiral!"

A marine came in through the door, and met him on the way. The young man was visibly excited. "Two more survivors, sir," he said.

Coles nodded, walking past the marine and out the door into the bright sunlight. He put up a hand to shade his eyes, and looked down.

There, bleeding at his feet, were Simon Tam and Zoe Washburn. Alive. But not looking too well.

And there was another marine, holding a datapad with Simon Tam's picture on it.

The day Coles had tried to avoid had arrived.


Monday, June 6, 2011 3:33 AM


Oh no! SImon and Zoe in the hands of the Alliance! Too short, too short. Leave us hanging

Monday, June 6, 2011 7:19 AM


Uh oh, Zoe and Simon in enemy hands and River on a ship full of slaves-to-be. That can't be good! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, June 6, 2011 8:44 AM


Thats not nice.


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The Four Winds, Epilogue
The end...or maybe just another beginning.

The Four Winds, Chapter 25
The rest of the crew return home.

The Four Winds, Chapter 24
Me and Elwood, we're puttin' the band back together.

The Four Winds, Chapter 23
Inara investigates matters; Mal discovers that the impossible has been done in his absence.

The Four Winds, Chapter 22
River needs Mal to solve her problem; Mal is forced to provide information to the Alliance.

The Four Winds, Chapter 21
When Mal tries to recover the cargo, will he lose more than he stands to gain?

The Four Winds, Chapter 20
Mal makes changes to his plan; River puts her plan into action; Inara decides on a plan of her own; Wash finds something he'd lost.

The Four Winds, Chapter 19
Simon gets an alias; Mal gets a look at his client; Wash gets a shock.

The Four Winds, Chapter 18
Our Heroes - and Our Villains - try to figure a way out of the mess they're in.

The Four Winds, Chapter 17
River finds out what's really going on; Simon and Zoe fall into the wrong hands.