THE DEVIL'S CRADLE: 52. "Enemy Hands"
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Another rush of sickness swept through Mal's body and for once he was almost grateful for the manacles that kept him hanging free of his own vomit.


TITLE: "ENEMY HANDS" SERIES: THE DEVIL'S CRADLE CHAPTER: 52. Sequel to "CANNON FODDER" FANDOM: "FIREFLY" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL PAIRING: Zoe/Wash Kaylee/Simon Mal/Inara RATING: PG-13 SUMMARY: "Things get more than a mite uncomfortable for the Captain and Badger. Meanwhile Zoe and Monty get ready to mount a rescue. Left behind with a drifing ship, Inara does her best to help."

"ENEMY HANDS" A "Firefly" Story Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Badger was concerned and more than a little angry though he knew better than to actually lose his temper with Red Pole.

"What you doin'? Want him alive, *dong ma*?"

Magnus didn't bare his teeth but the sentiment was etched into his face anyway. "He's still alive."

Badger noticed they had stopped calling him *laoban* once Serenity had been left drifting which made him think his part in all this was already over. Not that he would let on he knew as much. "Need a medic, *mashang*."

The huge man looked amused as he slowly wound his whip back up, taking care to clean off the blood where he had cut into the flesh on the Captain's back. Badger might not be bossom pals with Malcolm Reynolds but he didn't hold with cruelty for the sake of it and on a man manacled to a wall and unable to defend himself. Just wasn't right. Didn't help that he could see himself hanging in his place if the man died.

"Don't have a doctor."

"Must have medical supplies, *dui*?"

Something flickered in Red Pole's eyes. "He isn't long for this world anyway, why're you so concerned?"

"Ain't that. The Lady gave me a task to do, see? Part o' that is deliverin' him alive."

For a moment the big man didn't say anything and Badger wondered whether he had pushed his luck too far, then Red Pole gave a brief nod and left them.

"Ruttin' *diyu*, Reynolds, do you have to make enemies everywhere you go?"

He had not expected the Captain to answer, it being more of a rhetorical question, so Badger was surprised when the man groaned and cracked open a blood soaked eye. "Must be takin' a leaf out of your gorram book."

Badger was more relieved that he wanted to admit. The welts were ugly and some were deep, cutting through the man's flesh like a hot knife through butter. Already the blood pooling at his feet was started to congeal. How much had the man lost? A couple of pints? More? Something of his concern must have showed.

"*Wei*," the Captain whispered painfully "ain't dead yet."

"Yeah, well ain't for lack o' tryin'. Why were you provokin' him? Always thought you had a bloody death wish."

"Never knew you cared."

"Personally I don't but if either of us wanna survive this nightmare we gotta work together, *dong ma*?"

The Captain didn't reply, he was fading fast and Badger didn't know what to do. At that point one of the 49s appeared with an old rusty box and handed it to him. Badger stared at him, the man gave a grunt, said "Medical supplies" and left.

Inside was the sort of supplies you wouldn't use on a ruttin' horse let alone a human being. Looked more like witches potions than actual medicines. Didn't help that none of the dubious looking bottles had labels on them but at least there were some packs of bandages though they looked woefully inadequate to staunch the Captain's wounds. "Wode ma*" Badger muttered to himself as he broke open the first pack with his teeth "why'd these gorram things have to keep happenin' to me?"

* * * * *

"Have to hurry."

Zoe frowned at River Tam, noticing the other children huddled in a group behind. All silent but watching and listening to every word. It was kind of creepifying. "Now you wanna hurry?"

River looked distressed. "They're hurting him."

Her heart missed a beat. "*Shei*?"

"Captain Daddy. They weren't supposed to hurt him."

Book was about to ask what she meant but Zoe got there first. She was all out of patience with being drip fed the odd bits of information River chose to divulge. Even though Monty's ship was smaller than Serenity it had a turn of speed that was more than a mite satisfying even if Zoe still wished it could go faster. Monty was up on the bridge. Jayne had gone with John-Joe to check their armoury and clean both crews' weapons until they shone like gorram glass. Wash and Kaylee had stayed on Serenity along with Inara, Jerrod and his crew still locked aboard the spare shuttle. While the extra manpower would have been welcome no one was ready to trust Jerrod and his crew. Zoe had not wanted River to come along but the girl insisted and where she went the children followed though so far there had been barely a peep out of them. They seemed content to let River do all the talking. Simon brought an impressive array of supplies with him then seemed a little sheepish about admitting that River had said he would need them. None of the information sat well with Serenity's first mate.

"River, you need to tell me what you know. What you see, *dong ma*? You said they're hurtin' the Cap'n?"

"The big one, the Enforcer. He likes to cause pain."

Shepherd Book looked concerned. "I thought Badger was in charge?"

"*Bu qu*, appearances only. They needed him to talk to the Captain."

"You mean so we would let them board Serernity?" Said Zoe as things began to slot into place.

"*Qu*. Not his idea, he thinks he's a dead man walking."

Just then Monty joined them, an urgency to his step quickly matched by his voice. "We're pickin' up that gorram freighter."

Shepherd Book looked worried. "Do you think they know we're following them?"

"I had Danny drop back outta sensor range. Appears to be a small planet up ahead but it ain't in our nav system."

"Titan Station." Said Zoe. Shepherd Book nodded.

Monty's eyes narrowed. "You know the place?"

"*Bu qu*. River, best you tell us what you know of this place an' why Badger's takin' the Cap'n there."

* * * * *

Inara was beyond anxious. Not only were there too many things happening at once but she could not see how it all connected. She glanced down at the two men, both still tied but slowly beginning to come round again. It went against everything she believed in to keep them sedated but how could they be trusted? Had they only decided to help once they realised that Jerrod would not get away with his treachery? Or was it a ruse to gain their trust so that as soon as there was an opportunity they could free Jerrod and the others from the second shuttle?

The knock on her hatch was quickly followed by Kaylee, her face flushed, smudges of oil and dirt on her face and hands. "It ain't no use, 'Nara. Engine can't be fixed!"

"What about the things that can be fixed?"

Kaylee stared blankly at her. "They weren't firin' at nothin' else."

"Are you sayin' the only damage to Serenity is her engine?"

"*Qu* an' without it we ain't goin' nowhere!" Kaylee wailed.

"Where's Wash?"

"Left him in the engine room. Thought if we put our heads together we could maybe jury rig somethin', but sometimes a thing gets broke it can't be fixed."

Kaylee was on the verge of tears and she had cried buckets already. Inara needed to think, for some reason Badger and his new friends wanted the Captain but not his ship yet knew enough to leave Serenity crippled so his crew could not follow or mount a rescue. Fortunately they did not know about Monty but what did they really want with Mal? "None of this makes sense, Kaylee."

"*Wo zhidao*, everythin' was fine 'til Jerrod got that wave."

Inara's look sharpened. "What wave?"

"It was somethin' Book said. He must'a overheard or seen Jerrod get a message an' realised we needed help. Just had time to wave Monty."

"Then they caught and sedated him?"

Kaylee nodded. "What I don't get is who called Jerrod an' why'd that make him turn on the Cap'n? Cap'n saved his life, 'Nara, him an' his crew. Could'a just left him on Anaeron to perish."

That was what was puzzling Inara. "Why don't you get washed up and change, *mei mei*? I'll make some calls, see if there's something I can do."

The mechanic's face lit up with hope. "You can do that?"

Inara had to smile though it vanished all too soon. "I'm not promising anything, Kaylee, but I have a few ideas. Let me see what I can do then I'll meet up with you and Wash."

Kaylee jerked her head towards the two sedated men. "What about them?"

"I think we'll keep them tied for now, at least until we know for sure whose side they're on."

"Yeah well, we used the last of the sedative. Just so's you know."

The Companion sighed. "Then we're going to need some rope so they can be tied properly."

"Can't we just, yknow, let 'em go?"

"Kaylee, we can't take the chance, *dong ma*? We aren't going to hurt them but we can't afford to let them hurt us. If you can ask Wash to bring some rope we can make sure they're secure."

Reluctantly the girl nodded, she knew Inara was right. Inara waved a hand at her and shooed her out of the shuttle. Once Kaylee was gone Inara locked the shuttle door, checked on the two men then drew back the curtain to access her cortex screen. It was time to test the strength of a friendship or two.

* * * * *

Gorramit, he felt terrible. Head swimming, guts churning, every gorram part of his body aching plus there was something wrong with his eyes. His ears worked fine though. "You cryin'?"

As soon as he spoke silence fell. The Captain was beginning to wonder if he had imagined the sound of sobbing when someone sniffed then cleared his throat. It took a moment for him to recognise Badger's voice, it being all querulous and unmanly. "Why they doin' this?"

"You think they're like to tell me? They're your ruttin' men."

"*Bushi*, they serve the Lady not me."

Another rush of sickness swept through Mal's body and for once he was almost grateful for the manacles that kept him hanging free of his own vomit.

"*Chusheng xia-jiao de xiang huo*! Can't you turn your ruttin' head an' spew that *houzi outo* somewhere else?"

The Captain's voice came back a mite pained. "*Bu shi wode cuo*, can't see a gorram thing."

For a moment there was silence. "What, nothin' at all?"

"*Bu qu*, it's like I'm *shiming* which is *chun* right?"

The silence was more awkward this time.

"Badger? You still there?"

The little King Pin forced himself to sit up. He owed the man that much. "Don't know how to tell ya this Reynolds but you 'are' blind."

"That ain't funny, Badger."

"Nor's havin' your gorram eyes gouged out."

There was a stunned silence. "You sayin' those *tamade hundan* took my eyes?"

Badger choked back a fresh sob. He wasn't doing too well himself but next to the Captain he was fine and dandy, even if his broken left arm didn't work any more at least he had not been manacled to the gorram wall of this stinking cell. How had things gone badly so quickly? Thought the ruttin' Lady wanted Reynolds alive but it seemed her hired thugs didn't care one way or another. And if they didn't care about Reynolds what did that say for his own life expectancy?



The Captain's voice was a lot quieter now and oddly enough Badger found himself listening more intently. "We gotta get outta here."

He actually laughed. Kind of a rough, stretched and unfunny sound but a laugh all the same. "You should be on stage crackin' jokes like that."

"I'm serious."

"So is the possibility of us dyin' before we can come up with a plan."

"About the keys to these manacles...."

"Ain't got no key."

"*Bi zui* an' listen, *dong ma*? Need you to get the keys."

"*Bu keneng*. Case you're feelin' slow Reynolds I'm locked in this cell with you. Neither of us're goin' anywhere."

If Malcolm Reynolds could have closed his eyes he would have but something odd was trickling in the back of his brainpan. Something that made no sense and no rhyme or reason to the predicament they were in. If only he could remember what the *diyu* it was.

* * * * *

Wash couldn't see why he was tying Billy and Howdy Marks up more thoroughly.

"There's no more sedative Wash and even if there was I would not be happy using it."

The pilot was confused. "It wouldn't hurt them, Inara."

"One or two doses probably not, but how many doses is too many?"

Wash crinkled his brow in an attempt to work it out but gave up and shrugged. "*Wo bu zhidao*, we can ask Simon when he gets back."

"In the meantime I don't think we should take any chances."

As Wash finished Billy Parker regained consciousness, he scowled up at them then frowned when he realised he was securely bound. "Why am I tied up?"

"Why did you betray us?" Asked Inara.

Billy turned his head and his eyes widened. He did not think he had ever seen anyone as lovely as the Companion. As his memory returned he remembered glimpsing her aboard Serenity and he had to wonder how Malcolm Reynolds could afford his very own Registered Companion. "Wasn't my idea."

Wash glanced at Inara, wondering how she wanted to play this.

"We aren't going to hurt you but neither can we let you go."

As Billy digested that, Howdy Marks gave a low groan and began to wake.

"What about Jerrod an' the others?

Wash tilted his head. "What about them?"

"You need to talk to them."

"We aren't talking to anyone just now." Inara stated, rising gracefully from her seat to stand next to Wash. "River seems to think you wanted to help us."

Both men were nodding now.

"I however am not so easily convinced."


"Wash, I think we should move our 'guests' to the spare quarters. Different rooms, *dong ma*?"

Wash tried to figure out why she wanted the two men separated but realised Inara was not going to explain in their hearing. If Billy Parker and Howdy Marks had been trying to help them then they could not be put in the spare shuttle with Jerrod and the others much as it would have solved the security problem and she did not want them in her shuttle when she was waiting to hear back from one of her contacts. The less they knew the better.

* * * * *

Down on Titan Moon the prisoners were getting what rest they could while they could. The men were exhausted but also on edge. Up in the command room Ryland Wilkinson gazed at the monitor with some confusion. Looking over his shoulder Dyer was just as perplexed. "Why aren't they movin'? Should'a landed by now."

"*Wo bu zhidao* but I don't like it." Wilkinson turned to Marty Lawrence. "Try to raise them again."

Marty sent another wave to the Cold Harbour but the huge freighter just hung above Titan Moon as if stranded there. "They aren't respondin', *laoban*. What do you wanna do?"

Wilkinson straightened and rubbed a hand over his chin, his eyes narrowing on the screen but unable to fathom what could have happened. Had there been a prison break? Or was it as simple as the ship losing power and being unable to tell them? "Keep tryin'."

* * * * *

Magnus gave his report in full. No embellishments just cold hard facts delivered like bullet points. The Lady inclined her head as he finished.

"You have done well."

Red Pole had one further observation. "He would not break."

"*Hen hao*, our information was correct."

The Enforcer made no comment but waited for further orders.

"Are they awake yet?"

He shook his head. "*Bu qu*. The last round was particularly tough." A quick grin flashed out of nowhere and vanished the same way. "The one called Badger couldn't stop squealin', of course none of it was of any value, my Lady."

"You must be gone before they wake."

For the first time Red Pole seemed a little uncertain. "Should I leave a couple of men on board?"

"No, their work is done - for now. *Fang xin*, I want to monitor what happens next."

"As you wish, my Lady."

* * * * *

"What is that?"

Monty leaned over his pilot's shoulder. "*Shenme*? Are they firin' at somethin'?"

"*Bu qu**, laoban*. Looked more like a small craft though I've never seen anythin' that small move so fast."

"See where it goes, Danny."

"You want me to follow it, *shifu*?"

"No, we're here for Mal. We need to check out that freighter. Don't stop us seein' which direction that little ship's goin' though."

Danny turned in his seat, wide eyes fixed on his Captain. "Um, is that wise?"

Monty's laugh was full of not-funny, his expression grim as he checked his weapon. His eyes flashed with a dangerous glint. "Best pray that back stabbin' piece of *goushi* hasn't done anythin' to Mal."

Danny didn't answer. The last person he was worrying about was that little weasel Badger but there was something very disturbing about a ship of that size just sitting there going nowhere. He also was none too happy that they were now in full sensor range.

* * * * *

Kaylee's squeal was deafening and no one could be immune to the happiness radiating off her like a sun going nova. "An' he's gonna get a new engine out to us? Don't know how ya pulled it off 'Nara but Cap'n's gonna be real happy when he gets back."

The Companion's smile slipped a little at the mention of the Captain but she quickly recovered. "How long do you think it'll take to fit the new engine?"

"Gotta remove the old one first. When did they say they'd get to us?"

This was the hard part. "Two days."

All the sunshine bleeding off Kaylee suddenly dimmed. "Two days!"

"Kaylee, even with help the engine has to be purchased then transported out to us, it isn't a five minute job."

"Yeah, but TWO DAYS?"

"Two days should be more than enough for you to dismantle and remove the old engine using Serenity's lifting gear. It should also give you a chance to get everything ready for when the new one gets here."

"I know but..." Kaylee's voice trailed off then she got control of herself. "*Duibuqi*, just disappointed at the wait, I don't mean to be ungrateful 'Nara."

"I know, *mei mei*. Ask Wash to give you a hand. In the meantime I'll make us something to eat."

"What about the prisoners? Can't keep 'em locked up with no food or water."

"*Wo zhidao* but it won't hurt them to wait a little longer."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*dong ma* = understand? *laoban* = boss *mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately *dui* = correct *diyu* = hell *wei* = hey! *wode ma* = mother of God *shei* = who *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *qu* = yes (lit. go) *wo zhidao* = I know *mei mei* = little sister *bushi* = not so *chusheng xia-jiao de xiang huo* = animal fucking bastard *houzi outo* = monkey vomit *bu shi wode cuo* = it's not my fault *shiming* = blind *chun* = stupid *tamade hundan* = fucking bastards *shenme* = what *bi zui* = be quiet/shut up *bu keneng* = impossible *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *hen hao* = very good *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *shifu* = sir *goushi* = crap/dog shit *duibuqi* = sorry


Friday, September 13, 2013 1:24 AM


gouged out his eyes? that is a bit surprising.

Friday, September 13, 2013 10:34 AM


Wow, some serious developments here. I am sorry to see Mal abused so severely; I hope he still has a chance at recovery. He'd better not really have lost his eyes! Let's hope it's Badger who's not seeing clearly. It seems that the brutal guy who has Badger and Mal under his thumb is simply acting on the Lady's plan, though much more sadistic than necessary. Hopefully Monty swoops in to the rescue right away, before anything else can go wrong. I like seeing Inara take charge and use the resources at her disposal; I think she will deal with their prisoners in a fair and effective manner, too. She has already put Kaylee back on the right track, and as long as Kaylee has hope, she will be able to fix things.

Friday, September 13, 2013 11:27 AM


All sorts of surprises coming up, Nutluck. As for what has happened to Mal and Badger at Red Pole's hands all will become much clearer in the next chapter, Ebfiddler. Monty is a force to be reckoned with in his own right and Inara taking the iniative will help to keep those left on Serenity calm too. *Xie xie ni* for the shiny feedback, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, September 13, 2013 11:34 AM


All sorts of surprises coming up, Nutluck. As for what has happened to Mal and Badger at Red Pole's hands all will become much clearer in the next chapter, Ebfiddler. Monty is a force to be reckoned with in his own right and Inara taking the iniative will help to keep those left on Serenity calm too. *Xie xie ni* for the shiny feedback, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, September 13, 2013 11:35 AM


Oops, sorry for the double post! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, September 13, 2013 8:35 PM


So, um, so, huh? they gouged out Mal's eyes!!??!! or is it an elaborate ruse of some sort and what the diyu does that gorram lady, oh, sorry, Lady want?? confuzzled a bit is all, so next chapter, please? very intriguing AliD, xie xie

Saturday, September 14, 2013 9:17 AM


You will be as somewhat wiser in the next chapter, Malsdoxy, though of course not everything will be revealed. As for the Lady that is one person you really do not want to cross. Thanks for the confuzzled feedback, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.