Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 6
Thursday, July 11, 2013

The crew tries to get off Bellerophone but find things getting more complicated.


Chapter 6

“Don’t know why you’re bothering to fix’em up, doc. We’ll most likely have to shoot’em any ways,” Jayne huffed from his crate, pistol in hand.

“More likely you’ll be the ones that end up dead,” one of the captives said from his spot on the cargo bay floor.

“I’m a doctor, Jayne. No matter what it’s my responsibility to treat them. Besides, if we have to make some sort of deal with their…organization, it will be better if they’re in good health,” Simon responded as he finished his work.

“Organization, have you heard of the Tang syndicate?” another man snorted.

“We know you hwoon dahn, not too worried about it,” Jayne said gruffly, “Now y’all stay still.”

Jayne and Simon walked to the other end of the bay, to where Kaylee and Inara were waiting. The big merc kept one eye and his pistol on their three prisoners and trying not to show the concern that he had whirling in his mind.

“The Tang syndicate, that doesn’t sound good,” Inara commented quietly.

“It ain’t,” Jayne huffed.

“They’re a pretty big crime organization, aren’t they?” Kaylee questioned unsure of herself.

“Big enough that they could make us very dead,” Jayne responded still keeping his pistol pointed at the three men.

“So what do we do?” Simon asked. He did not get a response as the group looked at each other for the answer.

“I think we need to wait for the captain, he’ll know what to do,” Kalyee replied.

“And what if he don’t get back? What then?” Jayne questioned harshly.

“Mal will find a way, he always does,” Inara said trying to reassure herself as well as the others.

“The captain has gotten himself into trouble before and needed help out. Plus my sister is still out there,” Simon pointed out.

Jayne stood a little taller, “I say we contact the syndicate and make a deal for these men. Maybe we can get our crew back. They only want the boy I say we let them have ‘em.”



Mal shut the door to the warehouse with a thud. He quickly grabbed the nearby metal bar and ran it through the doors handle making sure the ends reached the frame. Happy that the door was somewhat secured he headed into the warehouse to join the others.

Dust particles danced in the light streaming into the center of the building from the skylight. The light was made even brighter by the pile of bright white cotton napkins directly underneath. River had already begun tearing some of those napkins to make a dressing for Zoe’s wounds.

“How bad?” Mal questioned as he approached. Zoe’s pants had been stained a deep red from the soaked blood.

“Bleeding hasslowed, bullet went through clean. Didn’t hit bone,” River replied as she worked to dress the wound.

“Zoe?” Mal asked looking at his first mate.

“I’ll survive, sir. A bit weak from the blood loss and it’s really starting to stiffen up. I can still make it to the ship,” Zoe responded in her normal confidence.

“Is that the plan? Get back to the ship?” Aleksander asked.

“Get back to the ship and get off this rock,” Mal responded quickly. “Zoe?”

“I can make it, sir,” Zoe responded automatically.

“No you can’t,” Mal retorted, “and even if you could someone is likely to take notice of that blood stain.

“My coat will cover most of it, captain.”

“It ain’t going to cover his shirt,” Mal argued pointed at Aleksander’s own torn and bloody shirt.

“Then you’re going yourself?” Zoe asked sitting down tentatively on the pile of cotton napkins.

“I’ll get the mule and some clean clothes and be back to get you,” Mal explained.

River looked as him with an odd look, “Won’t remember the way unless you use markers.”

“Don’t worry, little one, I’ll find my way. Now you all just sit tight and keep quiet, you should be fine,” Mal responded as he turned to leave.

“Sir, what if we have to move?” Zoe asked.

“Leave me some type of clue of something,” Mal responded as he turned towards the exit.

Zoe looked at River and said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”



Mal paused for a moment and checked himself over before stepping out of the alleyway and onto the main street. The early afternoon sun worked to reminded Mal that he had been up all night and hung-over. He carefully scanned the street for any hint of a problem. He found none and continued on towards the docks.

After what seemed like an eternity Mal could see her, Serenity, in the distance. She sat quietly in the long line of ships at the edge of the port. He almost wanted to run just to make sure he would get there before…

As the thought crossed his mind a long black hover limousine pulled over in front of him. Before he could get around it a one of the rear doors opened and a women stepped out. She was dressed in a dark, no nonsense business suit. Her strawberry blond hair was pulled back into a tight bun at the base of her neck.

“Captain Reynolds,” the woman called.

Mal looked around as if he was looking for someone before replying, “Who me? Sorry you got the wrong person.”

“No, I don’t,” she replied sternly. “You need to get in the limo captain.”

“You know, I’m thinking not so much,” Mal said as he started to step past her.

“I’m sure the port authorities will find the stolen vehicle and kidnapped men in your ship’s hold very interesting,” the women said quickly.

Mal stopped, “uh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan,” he whispered to himself.

“Seems that your crew did not like men from our organization watching your ship,” the women continued. “So if you don’t want me to put a call into the authorities I suggest you get in the vehicle and hear me out.”

Mal stared at her for a moment, “I guess it is a nice day for a ride,” before getting into the hover limousine.

Mal took seat in the spacious limo as the women entered and took a seat facing him. Soon the door was shut and the limo was moving. Mal watched through the heavily tinted windows as they drove past his ship.

“It seems your crew is very keen on getting you back,” the women started.

“Really?” Mal questioned as he looked around the interior. The screen separating the drive was up and most likely bullet proof. Only he and the women were in the passenger compartment and he doubted she was armed. That could only mean she had the upper hand and knew it.

“Yes, I was surprised when they contacted us and offered a trade for our men,” she continued.

“Jayne,” Mal said quietly.

“He said we could have our men and the boy if we gave them you and the rest of your crew…unharmed.”

“And now you have me, so you have something to bargain with,” Mal replied.

“Don’t think your man would take just you. Besides you misunderstand my intent. I have been tasked to come up with a solution to the current state of affairs,” the women explained.

“You mean the state where you don’t have the boy and don’t know where to get him,” Mal stated. He had realized who he was dealing with, the Tang syndicate.

The Tang were a big time smuggling outfit in the Red Sun system. They supplied independent repair and fueling stations all thought the rim. They would also loan money at pretty reasonable rates. Mal himself had borrowed money from them in the past. Always felt safe in do so because the Tang operated more like a legitimate business than a criminal origination. They were big enough that the threat of being black balled from their facilities and goods were normally enough to make sure people paid them back. Not that they couldn’t use force, they just hardly had to.

“That is precisely what I am speaking about,” the women answered. “You see young Bernoulli’s mother owes us a very large sum of money. Unfortunately she ran to Sihnon.”

Mal smiled a bit, “One of the few places you can’t get close to her. So you came up with this very complex plan to steal the boy in hopes she would come running and pay up.”

“It was not my personally plan, but yes,” the women responded. “Direct conflict on Greenleaf was to be avoided. The plan was to take the boy someplace remote, such as Lennox.”

“As big as you are moving on Bernoulli while on Greenleaf was too risky, has too many friends there,” Mal extolled. “You figured he be less willing to make any move once you had his boy.”

“Now we don’t have the boy or any way to force his mother or father to repay the debt without substantially high losses of business,” the women said leaning forward. “However the one thing we do have is the ability to tie up your ship and keep it here until we find the boy.”

Mal leaned forward bringing his face close to the women’s, “That is if the feds don’t find him first. People getting dead kinda puts a twist on the whole mess.”

The women leaned back with a smile, “So you can see how much of a problem this is for everyone involved. I’m hoping we can work together to find a mutually beneficial solution, Captain Reynolds.”

Mal leaned back, an idea coming to him, “Maybe we can.”



“They ain’t got’em,” Jayne snarled as he came down the stairs into the cargo bay.

“Are you sure?” Simon asked.

“Yah, dumbass I was talking two started right in on the threats instead of negotiation. If they had ‘em he would have played it different.

“So what now?” Kaylee hopeful Jayne had an answer.

“We sit and wait until something changes,” Jayne huffed.

“The local feeds are asking residence to be on the lookout for a young man and women connected to a couple of shootings,” Inara announced as she made her way down from her shuttle. “The description sounds like River and the Aleksander.”

“If the feds catch them who knows what might happen to River. We need to find them!” Simon insisted.

“Were the guay do you plan to start looking for them?” Jayne replied.

“I don’t know, but it is better than just sitting here waiting for them to get captured, or worse,” Simon snapped back.

“If they know we have their men they might try and get them back,” Inara said placing a hand on Simon’s shoulder from behind.

“She right, they come we better have people here or they could take the ship,” Jayne said smugly as he sat down on a nearby barrel.

“We should wait, cap’n and Zoe always figure things out,” Kaylee started, “well except that time with the train, or when the captain got taken by Niska….or…”

“We get the point,” Inara interrupted.

“See, we need to do something,” Simon added.

Jayne went to respond but the sound of the air lock door opening caused him to draw his pistol instead.

“Mal!” Inara exclaimed as the captain stepped up into Serenity.

“Captain, is everyone…” Kaylee stopped at the sight of a strange women entering behind Mal.

“Jayne, put the gun down and get those men untied,” Mal ordered.

“Shuh muh,” Jayne asked confused.

“Just do it,” Mal said sternly as he walked up to the group.

Jayne spun around grumbling and started towards the bound men.

“…and who is this?” Simon asked.

“Kaylee, need new clothing for Zoe and the boy,” Mal ordered ignoring the question and punching the controls to lower the ships ramp.

“Where’s my sister and who is this?” Simon demanded.

Mal turned to face him, “She safe, but we don’t have time to argue; now get your med kit and don’t ask questions.”

Something in Mal’s face got everyone moving.

“Quit the crew,” the blond women commented. Mal ignored her.

Jayne led the untied men over the captain at gun point, “Here they are.”

“You got your, now just hold up your end,” Mal said to the women.

“Of course,” the women said motioning to the men to get in the van.

“Mal, what is going on?” Inara asked as women got into the van and it pulled out of Serenity.

“Deals been made. Bernoulli pays what is owned but until than we keep the boy.” Mal responded.

“What do we want the rutten’ kid for?” Jayne responded.

“We keep him because Bernoulli doesn’t trust the Tang with him and the Tang need some assurance that Bernoulli will pay.” Mal explained moving to bring the mule down. “So we keep the boy away from Bernoulli and his mother until the debt is paid. We don’t the syndicate comes after us.”

“Great, put everyone at risk for that dumbass kid,” Jayne snorted.

Mal stopped, “We got little in the way of options here. We hand him over and Bernoulli looks to punish us. We lose yet another job contact. We don’t make a deal with the Tang and they call the authorities who find men tied up in our hull.”

Jayne huffed and started helping bring down the mule.



“They’re coming,” River said standing up from her seat of cotton napkins.

“Who is?” Zoe asked quickly.

“The feds, they have a hover craft, scanners,” River replied while looking around the warehouse.

“Should we run?” Aleksander asked.

River ran over to the closest shelving unit and started to dump boxes of the cotton napkins on the ground.

“River, what are you doing,” Zoe asked as she stiffly got up.

“Need a distraction, going to set a fire.”

“Won’t that attract their attention?” Aleksander asked.

“Yes, but that’s the point,” Zoe explained, “You two just need to be gone before it does.”

“We all do!” River said stopping to look at Zoe, “You’re coming too.”

“No, I’m not.” Zoe said sternly, “You know I will slow you down. Besides I start running again and my leg is going to start bleeding. I lose much more blood I won’t be running anywhere.”

“Can’t leave you…won’t.” River replied stopping and turning to reveal a troubled face.

“It’s not up for debate lil’ one,” Zoe said. “I’ll be fine, tell’em some story or the other. You two don’t have that luxury.”

“River, maybe we should…” Alexander started.

“Here, take this,” Zoe interrupted handing Alexander her Mare’s leg. “Lose it if you have to, but I kinda still like it.”

“Zoe,” River muttered. Zoe had become a sort of mother to River. It had been Zoe that had sat up many nights with her on the bridge when she first started to fly Serenity. River understood that part of that was because she was sitting in chair that was Wash’s. The other was Zoe enjoying River becoming a bigger part of the crew, a bigger part of the family. Now she wanted River to leave her, injured and alone.

“Go!” Zoe ordered as she limped over to the pile of napkins River has made, lighter in hand.



Smoke, and a lot of it. Mal had a very uneasy feeling as he and Simon sped towards the warehouse where the others were hid.

“That’s not coming from where they are, is it?” Simon asked.

“Starting to look that way, doc.” Mal said somberly.

“Something must have happened, we need…”

“We need to stay calm,” Mal said cutting him off. “Likely fire crews and feds in the area by now. Last thing we need make a stupid move and get pinched ourselves.”

As they got closer to the warehouse it became apparent that the fire was indeed coming from it. Mal turned away seeing a whole mess of official vehicles and men in the area. He knew there was going to be no way to get close now.

“What now?” Simon asked as Mal pulled the Mule to a stop on a side street.

“Try and figure out where they went?” Mal said folding his arms and putting his head down on the controls.

“How do we know they got out,” Simon said morbidly.

Mal’s head came up, “If they didn’t they’re dead….and they ain’t dead.”

“We don’t know that.”

“Than what do you suggest?” Mal asked angrily. “Should we cut and run, is that what you want?”

“No,” Simon responded quietly. “Sorry…so how do we go about finding them? Is there any place Zoe is likely to head other than the ship?”

“She wouldn’t head to the ship, to dangerous. She’d try and find some way to contact us, but from some place out of the way,” Mal explained.

“Most public cortex screens are pretty out in the open,” Simon replied.

“She might…” Mal began only to be interrupted by the buzz of the communicator in his coat.

“Captain,” Kaylee’s voice cracked from the small black square, “Zoe’s in the hospital.”

“Come again,” Mal replied.

“Sister of Charity hospital sent Serenity a wave, said Zoe was there,” Kaylee explained.

“Did they say anything about River?” Simon asked.

“Kaylee, what else did it say?” Mal butted in.

“Nothing, they only said she was there. They did use her maiden name,” Kaylee responded.

“Does that mean something,” Simon asked the captain.

“Not really, she never did officially change her name. Kaylee, where’s that hospital at?”

“It’s right downtown, you need direction?” Kaylee responded.

“No, should be able to find it.” Mal responded.

“What about River and Alek?” the mechanic asked.

“Don’t know, yet,” Mal said, “We’ll find ‘em.”



Her throat and lungs burned for air. The terrifying thought that she may have stayed to long flashed through her mind as she struggled to find the door. The flames had spread far faster than she had anticipated. Before she could make her way to the door they had spread to the nearby shelves and boxes. Now she wondered if she would make it out at all as she started to cough and hack. Franticly her hand felt in front of her as she walked foreword through the thick smoke.

Suddenly the sound of breaking glass came from behind her. The old glass in the skylight had shattered from the heat and fallen to the floor. Mercifully this allowed enough of the trapped smoke to escape to that she caught sight of the way out. Each step took all her strength. Blood had started to once again run from her hip and her coughing and gasping was getting almost uncontrollable.

Zoe finally flung open the warehouse door and stumbled out of it. She coughed and wheezed as she crawled away from the black smoke now billowing out of the building. Finally across the alleyway she clasped onto her back and tried to catch her breath. It felt as if she was drowning. She could hear the sirens and alarms of the local authorities in the distance. Perhaps for the first time in her life she was glad to hear them. Fading into unconsciousness she hoped they would not be long.



Black smoke began to rise from the warehouse not long after River and Aleksander left. River had almost turned around sensing Zoe was in trouble, but that felt her relief. So the young pair continued to make their way through the maze of abandoned warehouses and factories.

“I hope Zoe got out of that,” Aleksander said looking back as the plume of smoke.

“She did,” River replied as she tucked under a set of metal stairs.

Aleksander took a seat next to her, “I am sorry…for all of this.”

“Not your fault,” River replied surveying their surroundings. In front of them was the dusty open yard of the factory they hide near. This would be a good place to hide, but ultimately they need a way back to the ship.

“If I had not asked you out…” Aleksander started.

River cut him off smiling. “Not all of it has been bad,” she said taking his hand and giving it a squeeze.

Aleksander smiled, “I will defiantly never forget it.”

“You better not,” she replied playfully. “Now, need to contact Serenity.”

“We should be able to find a public terminal,” Aleksander said.

“No, feds will be listening to public cortex traffic. We need a private terminal,” River started before turning to her companion with a smile, “we need uniforms!”

“For what?”

“Just come on,” River said pulling Aleksander by the hand.



Light streamed in as Zoe opened her eyes and her awareness of her surrounding came back to her.

“She's awake,” a familiar voice said.

“Miss Alleyne you are in the hospital, don’t try and speak, “A different voice said. “We have you on a ventilator and are administering medication to help clear your lungs.”

As her vision cleared an older man’s face came into focus. Obviously he was her doctor. Simon was also standing next to her bed, as was Mal. She went to speak but was quickly stopped by the feeling of the tube in her throat.

“You need to keep that in,” Simon told her. “Smoke inhalation can have lasting effects if not treated properly.”

“What is the prognosis, doc?” Mal asked the older gentlemen.

“Your friend is right,” the doctor started talking to Zoe as well as Mal. “You were brought in pretty quickly and we were able to start treatment so you should make pretty much a full recovery.”

“Pretty much?” Mal questioned.

“I would say at least 99 percent of lung function, the treatment is not perfect. Her gunshot wound should heal well and giver her no problems.”

“I would like to know how she got that bullet put in her,” a new voice called from the doorway.

Everyone in the room turned to look at the figure entering the room. He was an older man dressed in a gray federal uniform. His face was weathered, covered in wrinkles and gray stubble which matched his very short gray hair. As he walked in his blue eye scanned the room from behind heavy lids.

“Can I help you,” the older doctor asked.

“Yes, I am Inspector King, I’m investigating the fire,” the officer answered.

“Unfortunately, she can’t speak until her treatment is finished,” Simon said.

“Very true,” the inspector replied walking up to Simon, “but perhaps one of you knows something of the story. You are whom?”

“A member of my crew,” Mal answered quickly, the last thing he needed was fed hamming Simon on his identity. “I’m Captain Reynolds; Zoe here is my first mate.”

The inspector turned to the captain, “Well than, perhaps you know how your first mate was wounded and ended up in a burning warehouse.”

“I will leave you folks alone,” Zoe’s doctor announced as he exited the room.

“Surely I don’t,” Mal answered.

“A captain that does not keep track of his crew. Not very conducive to getting work done,” Inspector King said as he turned and walked away from Mal.

“Work was done. Let everyone have a night off.”

The Inspector turned around, “And what work was that?”

“We delivered and installed fancy pumps for a mill in the city. You can check with the forewoman she’ll tell,” Mal answered easily not showing his frustration.

“Well, it seems I will just have to wait and get the story from Miss Alleyne…or is it Misses Washburne? It seems there is some confusion regarding her marital status,” the Inspector said.

“No confusion, she was married, not anymore,” Mal replied.

“Okay, I will come back and talk to her later,” King said as he walked out of the room.

Mal looked down at his first mate, “Hope you have a good story to tell.


Thursday, July 25, 2013 4:21 PM


Now for a boatload of complications! Jayne's negotiation techniques are not especially subtle, are they? But once the Tang were aware, Mal was boxed in; he's probably done the best he can, given the situation. Lots of action in this chapter. I hope Zoe ends up okay, glad she got medical treatment; but it's out of the frying pan, into the fire, because now the Feds are involved, too. Gotta hope that we don't see any Blue Hands or Operatives on the horizon!
I am very glad to see you back, nick, and hope you have a few more chapters of this tale up your sleeve. Thanks much for posting.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 2:28 AM


Thanks for the comments EB. Hopefully I will have more time to work on the next chapter.


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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.