Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 5
Monday, November 5, 2012

Mal and Zoe find River while the rest of the crew deal with some new friends.


Story starts here

Chapter 5

One after another River Tam’s steps created small dust storms as she walked across the dry landscape. She did not recognize this place until she reached the top of the hill and looked down at the burning wreckage of the old mining settlement.

“I don’t want to be here,” she said aloud.

“Why not?” a familiarly voice asked from behind her.

River ignored it and made her way down the hill and into the settlement. As she did she took in each of the bodies lying out under the midday sun stopping only when she saw herself standing in front of a burning swing.

“Do something! Feel something!” she screamed at her own image. “Why are you just standing there when these people died because of you?”

“Why did you just stand there?” the familiar voice asked.

River turned to see Sheppard Book standing nearby. His hair was in tight cornrows and his traditional Sheppard’s garb had been replaced with clothing more suited to the surroundings.

“Don’t know,” River answered.

“You don’t know. Aren’t you a genius? Yet you just stood there while people around you rushed to save others, rushed to save me,” Book responded in a harsh tone.

River looked at him stunned by his words, “That’s not fair, I wasn’t…right.”

Book smiled at her, “It isn’t fair. So, why do you still blame yourself child?”

River dropped her eyes, “If it wasn’t for me, you would still be alive.”

The Sheppard walked up to her and put his hand on her shoulder, “Not even you know that for sure. People died because of what they believed in. They believed that people should be able to live as they choose. What is it that you believe in?”

“Simple question, Serenity,” River answered looking into Books deep understanding eyes.

“As you are willing to die for that belief so was I…so was Wash,” Book said gently.

“I’m dreaming,” River said coming to that realization.

“Yes child, you are,” Book’s voice faded.

River opened her eyes and gazed at the above skylight as the morning slowly crept in. She slowly rolled out from under her makeshift covers and sat up. The chilly morning air was refreshing on her bare skin. She reached for her clothing and announced “Stop it,” without looking at behind her.

“Stop what?” Alexander asked propping his head up with an arm.

“You’re gawking,” River replied.

“Gawking is something you do at accidents or the like, I’m admiring,” the young man said lightly touching the small of River’s back sending a shiver up her spine.

River jumped and turned towards him with a smile, “Well stop it we have to get moving,” she ordered throwing his clothing at him.

“So what’s the plan, why are we in a hurry?” Alexsander asked as he removed his clothing from his face and head.

River stood up to dress, “The captain and Zoe will be close soon, we have to meet them.”



“Has there been any word from Mal?” Inara asked stepping onto the bridge where the others had been talking.

“No,” Jayne responded leaning back in the pilot’s seat.

“They’ve been gone all night, perhaps we should go look for them,” Simon said leaning against the co-pilot’s chair where Kaylee was seated.

“Captain said to stay put,” Jayne replied.

“Could be they got caught and need help,” the normally cheery mechanic commented worriedly.

“They may have my sister as well,” Simon added.

“Ain’t no one got ‘em,” Jayne snorted crossing his arms.

“How can you be sure?” Inara questioned.

“If whoever was looking to get them, had ‘em there wouldn’t be three men watching the ship,” Jayne extolled.

“Where, I haven’t seen anyone?” Kaylee asked.

Jayne sat forward, “There’s always two of ‘em milling around just across the street. The third is in a hover van down the road a bit. Waitin’ to snatch that boy if he tries to get back on the boat, two of grab him and the van picks them all up, real quick like.”

“We should warn Mal than,” Inara said.

“Captain forgot to grab a com,” Kaylee said solemnly.

“Well we need to do something, we can’t just let them walk into an ambush,” Simon argued.

“Something…like shoot ‘em,” Jayne replied.

“In the middle of the street? That’s intelligent,” Inara said sarcastically.

Jayne looked at her, “That is what I was pointed out gorramit. It’s not like we can even get off the boat without ‘em seeing.”

“If we could we might be able to do something,” Simon said.

Jayne leaned back in the pilot’s chair and put his arms behind his head, “It’s not like we have a back door we can use, so we can’t.”

A wide smile came over Kaylee’s face, “We don’t have a back door, but we do have a top hatch.”

“You think someone could climb down without being seen?” Inara asked.

“Maybe…should be able to,” Kaylee replied.

“What you all looking at me for?” Jayne asked noticing everyone staring at him.

“You could climb done and get the drop on them, Jayne,” Kaylee explained.

“And then what? Sneaking up on them doesn’t solve our not shooting ‘em problem,” Jayne responded sharply.

“I think I might have an idea,” Simon said.



“You know, Zoe, this is exactly what I did not want,” Mal grumbled as the morning got brighter.

“You mean being up all night?” Zoe asked indifferently.

“Being up all night looking for our pilot, I should have never let you and Inara talk me into this,” Mal responded.

“Never again will I suggest letting the crew have fun, sir.”

“Ahhh,” Mal moaned and he and Zoe walked down an alley separating two warehouses.

“Problem, sir?” Zoe asked with a smile.

“I forgot how bad these were,” the captain replied rubbing his temple.

“Hangovers?” Zoe asked amused.

“Specifically a hangover that hits after being up all night, if you must know,” Mal replied as the two of them exited the alleyway into an open area between groups of old warehouses.

“Sir, we been out looking all night. Perhaps we should head back to the ship. We could at least get a com-link,” Zoe suggested in a more formal tone. “Do you really think we are going to find them?”

“No, but while we are out her it gives them a better chance at slipping back to the ship or something,” the captain replied.

“So we are just keeping those men watching us busy,” Zoe said glancing quickly over her shoulder and catching movement on the roof of a nearby building.

Mal smirked, “You noticed ‘em too?”

“I did. Kinda like New Dunkirk,” Zoe said.

“How’s that?” Mal asked as he kicked some garbage out of his way.

“Don’t you remember when I got cut off you had the platoon make it look like they were trying to pull a flanking maneuver to draw the Alliances’ attention?” Zoe reminded.

“Gave you a chance to slip past them,” Mal smiled a bit, “forgot about that.”

“I didn’t,” Zoe replied with her own slight smile as they turned a corner and headed down yet another alleyway.



“Are you ruttin’ sure about this?” Jayne questioned quietly as he put on the harness.

“It’s simple, Jayne. We lower down the side of Serenity so those men don’t see you and you can get the drop on them,” Kaylee replied leaning up against the hallway wall.

“I got that, I mean is the doc going to hold on to the rope and not drop me?” Jayne questioned.

“Inara and I are going to help him,” the mechanic answered.

“That makes me feel loads better,” Jayne huffed sarcastically reaching up and opening the inner door of the top hatch.

“Okay, we’re ready,” Simon said entering the hallway with Inara behind him.

“Right, here Jayne,” Kaylee said handing the merc an ear piece.

“Still don’t like this,” Jayne grumbled climbing up the ladder into the hatch.

Jayne climbed out of the ship with the rope attached to the harness. He carefully made his way aft, climbing over the gravity ring and onto the engine section.

“Okay I’m goin’ to start down,” he said quietly.

“Roger that,” Kaylee’s voice replied.

Jayne lowered himself over the rounded edge of the ship, “Give me some slack and slowly keep it comin’.”

“Okay,” Kaylee replied into the com from the hallway.

The three anchors held the rope which had been threaded around one of the ladder’s rungs before leading up and out of the hatch. Slowly they started to let the rope out as more and more of Jayne’s weight was added.

“Easy,” Jayne called.

“I think I need to start working out more,” Inara said straining to hold the rope.

“Or Jayne needs to get lighter,” Simon grunted.

“I heard that,” Jayne’s voice replied from the com attached to Kaylee’s jumpsuit, “more slack you’re slowing me up.”

Outside Jayne slowly made his way down the side of the ship, hoping not to slip as he did not trust the others to support his full weight.

“Jayne,” Kaylee’s voice rang in his ear.

“I need more rope,” the merc replied.

“That’s a problem, we’re at the end.”

“Ruttin’ hell, I’m still like 4 meters up,” Jayne replied angrily.

“Sorry, I thought we had enough…Jayne, Jayne you there?”

Jayne did not respond as he unhooked himself from the rope and started down as carefully as he could.

“Jayne, what’s wrong?” Kaylee’s called. Her only reply was a loud thud.

“Gorram it!” Jayne called.

“You okay?” Kaylee called

“Are you hurt,” Simon asked.

“I’m down, twisted my yu bun duh knee,” Jayne replied. “Just get ready!”



“They’re headed north in the alleyway, directly away from my position,” the dark haired scruffy man said into small microphone extending from his ear piece. “Alright, I’ll reposition,” he finished as he lowered the binoculars he had been watching Mal and Zoe through.

As the man turned has ran into the last thing he expected to on this rood top, a tan skinned young man.

“I think I’m supposed to say something witty here,” Aleksander Bernoulli said.

It took the man a second to realize who was standing in front of him but once he did he went for the pistol tucked into his waist band. River Tam’s first blow landed from behind before he could reach it. It was a kick to the side of his head, followed by a hooking punch to his kidney. A kick to the back of his leg finally dropped him to his knees in front of Alexander. The young man clinched his fist and drove it into the man’s jaw, knocking him to the ground.

Tzao-ga,” the young man said shaking his fist.

River flashed him a sympathetic look before bending down and removing the man’s belt, which she then used to bind his hands. “Here,” she said as she handed the man’s pistol to Aleksander. “Do you know how to use it?” she asked as she removed the man’s ear peace and returned to full height.

“Point and pull the trigger, right?” Aleksander responded.

River smiled at him, “Yes. Just make sure the safety’s off. Let’s go,” she finished grabbed his arm and leading him off.



Jayne cursed under his breath as he limped along the row of ships. This wasn’t his idea of a good plan. Mal often came up with some harebrained schemes but at least he and Zoe could be counted on to shoot their way out of trouble. Now Jayne found himself having to rely on the rest of the crew.

“Ain’t a one of them built for stuff like this,” he mumbled to himself. Kaylee had learned to use a gun, but still was not one to fight. Sure she had made a good account of herself on Miranda but shooting Reaves wasn’t hard. Damn things ran straight at you, nearly trying to catch bullets.

Inara must be able to take care of herself with all that training of hers and she was good with a bow…but who uses a ruttin’ bow the merc mused.

Then you had Simon. Sure the doc carried a pistol now, but that didn’t mean he could shoot worth a damn. The boy was to tense all the time. He’d shoot better with a couple belts of whisky in him.

Jayne was now going to be relying on these people to make sure he did not get shot up or worse. As he turned and walked between two ships and onto the street he said a silent prayer.

As Jayne crossed the street he gritted his teeth and did his best to hide his limp. There weren’t that many people out and about but he was able to tuck in behind a couple as he headed towards the hover van parked just up the street from Serenity. As he got closer he looked past the van and caught a glimpse of the two men watching Serenity. Happy that they were not aware of him he continued.

As he reached the van he cut behind it and slowly moved up the left side to the driver’s door. Jayne wasn’t a religious man, but he said yet another silent prayer that the door was not locked as he reached for the handle. It wasn’t.

Jayne quickly threw open the door and punch the man sitting in the driver’s seat. Jayne’s fist landed square on the jaw as the half asleep man did not have time to react. Heavily stunned he fell between to two front seats as Jayne quickly got in the van and shut the door. Jayne leaned down and drove a few more blows home before sitting up and starting the van. He drove slowly up the street until the other two men had seen him. He then sped up and made a quick left turn into Serenity’s cargo bay.

The two men quickly followed their van up Serenity’s ramp, drawing pistols. As soon as they where through the airlock the ship’s doors began to close. The men took cover behind that van which had come to a stop in the middle of the cargo bay. One of them, a blonde headed light skinned man, tried opening the rear doors of the van, but they were locked. His associate a tan skinned bald man tried to peer into the heavily tinted rear windows to no avail.

Signaling for his partner to follow the blonde headed man turned the corner of the van to make his way to the driver’s door. He only took a single step before an arrow embedded itself in his right shoulder. He stumbled back, dropping his pistol. Before his partner could come around the corner of the van and take aim at the archer on the above catwalk he was stopped by a voice from behind.

“Don’t move,” Simon yelled with his pistol pointed at the man.

The man quickly turned to engage the Simon, but before he could one of the van’s rear doors swung open hitting him hard. The man was knocked to the ground and had Jayne aiming a pistol on him from around the door before he could recover. Defeated he threw away his gun.

“Next time just shoot, doc,” Jayne said keeping his eyes on the two men. “Your ruttin’ lucky you didn’t get killed.”

“Sorry,” Simon replied.

“Is everyone okay?” Kaylee’s voice crackled over the intercom.

Simon walked past the crews captives to the control panel and responded, “Yes, we’re fine.”

“Inara, get some rope to tie these hu dans up,” Jayne ordered throwing a quick glance up to the companion, bow still at the ready. “Nice shot by the by.”

Inara lowered her bow, “I was aiming for his head,” she replied with a smile.

“Ha, ha,” Jayne retorted.

“Why not just shoot us?” the blond man asked.

Jayne smiled, “Need to interrogate ya first.”



“River!” Zoe exclaimed seeing the young women at the far end of the cluttered alley.

She was quickly silenced by River bringing a finger up to her lips. She followed with a series of military hand signals both Mal and Zoe understood and then disappeared around a corner.

“What the hell is that girl up to?” Mal asked looking for cover amongst the trash and debris which littered the alleyway.

“Seems like an ambush, sir,” Zoe responded squatting down on the opposite side of the alley behind some discarded crates.

Mal frowned, “I got that. Just hope she don’t bring half a dozen our way.”

“Sir!” Zoe said directing Mal’s attention further down the alley.

The young Bernoulli had tuned a far corner and was now running towards Zoe and the captain. Not far behind him were four men wearing various dark clothing. A fifth overweight man lagged behind the others. It was only a moment before Aleksander ran past the hidden Serenity crew members.

“Here we go!” Mal exclaimed as her and Zoe stood up and trained their weapons on the men.

For a long tense moment nobody moved. Even the fifth man far behind the others stopped. The men were obviously not ready for such an encounter.

“Y’all are going to want to lie down on the ground nice and easy like,” Mal said breaking the moment.

One of the men closest to Zoe glanced at her and then the captain. Neither seems to be looking directly at him. He was going to make his move. Unfortunately Zoe’s keen eyes snapped back to him as soon as he went for his pistol.

Wuo duh ma,” Zoe said out loud pulling the trigger of her Mare’s leg.

Her shot hit the man in the center of his chest, slumping him to the ground before he could bring his weapon to bear.

The other men quickly went for their own weapons. Mal snapped off a couple of shot at one of the men on his side of the alley. His first shot missed, but the second hit his target in the collar bone. The man yelped loudly as he stumbled back.

As bullets continued to fly that fat man down the alley drew his pistol and started to take careful aim. The extreme burning pain in his right knee from the bullet that had pierced him disrupted this. As he fell to the ground he tried to spin to see who had shot him. Before he could focus on anything he found himself staring at the barrel of a pistol.

“Drop it,” the young woman standing over him ordered.

The man let his pistol roll out of his hand and slowly raised both of them over his head. Without a word River stepped over him and grabbed the pistol while turning her attention further down the alleyway. That battle was all but over.

One man lay dead and two others injured. The fourth had taken tenuous cover behind a trash pile on the side of the alleyway. As soon as he saw River approaching his direction he realized the situation was hopeless and threw out his pistol and raised his hands in surrender.

“You okay, little one,” the captain asked River as she moved near covering the men with a pistol in each hand.

“I’m fine,” River answered glancing past him to see Aleksander coming back around the corner to join them.

“Sir, I might have a problem,” Zoe said calmly.

Mal looked over at her and immediately saw her covering the bleeding wound on her right hip.

“How bad?” Mal asked rushing to her side.

“Think it went through,” Zoe answered.

“Can you walk?”

“Yes, sir!” Zoe responded automatically.

“Good, we need to get out of here before the Feds show up,” Mal announced looking at the wounded men.

“Follow me!” River said and immediately began to move.


Monday, November 5, 2012 3:25 PM


Been a long time, but here it is.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 1:48 AM


`Well River got lucky armed men showed up to shoot everyone or Mal would have been very cross with her.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 3:36 PM


Saw your new posting, had to go back and read from the beginning because I forgot what happened! I really enjoyed the re-read, and I see I never reviewed this chapter, so here ya go:
I liked River's confab with Shepherd Book, her attitude towards it, how she made some realizations with the help of Book in her dream. Could have been hopeless, with the different small groups of Serenity's people separated without communications, but they really are a team, and each group makes an effort. I can just picture Inara and Kaylee and Simon trying to lower Jayne down, and struggling with it. Wonder what they're going to find out when they proceed with the interrogation. Meanwhile, I don't think River and Aleksander are completely in the clear, but at least they've met up with Mal and Zoe, and now they can work together. I like the way you described the action scenes -- it was easy to picture.


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Firefly - Albatross Chapter 8 and Epilogue
A message from River set the final events into motion.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 7
River and Aleksander look for a way to contact Serenity, while a Fed follows an unusual trail.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 6
The crew tries to get off Bellerophone but find things getting more complicated.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 5
Mal and Zoe find River while the rest of the crew deal with some new friends.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 4
River goes on her first date but it does not end how anyone expected...with napkins.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 3
Simon plays doctor and big brother, River talks to the dead, and the captain waits for thing to go awry.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 2
The crew heads to Bellerphon to complete their job while River and the ship's guest grow closer.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 1
The crew looks to complete the first part of their job as they get to know their guest.

Firefly: Albatross - Introduction
The crew of Serenity finds its next job while events in the Core unfold.

Firefly: Family - Chapter 6 and Epilogue
The Tams on Blackwood, tissue samples taken from Jayne, the crew tries to make sense of it all.