Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 7
Saturday, October 26, 2013

River and Aleksander look for a way to contact Serenity, while a Fed follows an unusual trail.


Chapter 7

The Mule came to a stop in Serenity’s hull and its occupants jump down.

“Is Zoe okay?” Kaylee asked as she made her way down the stairs.

“She’ll be fine. She’s being treated for smoke inhalation, should be out of the hospital by tomorrow,” Simon responded as Jayne and Inara entered the bay.

“Thank goodness,” Inara said.

“What?” Jayne asked noticing Mal looking his direction with a none too happy face.

“I’m wondering what the rutting hell you were thinking taking people hostage aboard my boat?” Mal said angrily.

Kaylee responded. “We couldn’t just leave them sitting out there.”

“Wasn’t my gorram idea, it was the doc’s,” Jayne huffed.

Mal replied, “Was it the doctor’s idea to call the Tang and advertise you had their men?”

“Mal, it was all of us, not just Jayne,” Inara interrupted.

“Yah Cap’ we just wanted to make sure everyone could get back on board the ship,” Kaylee explained.

“Guess I could’ve just been wondering around like you and Zoe,” Jayne shot back.

Ta ma de, Nimen de bizui,” Mal erupted. “You all were told to sit tight but instead decided to muck things up. You’ll don’t think me and Zoe can see an ambush comin’?” Mal shook his head angrily and turned towards that door to the common area.

“What are we going to do now, Mal?” Inara asked sternly.

Mal stopped at the doorway. He turned around slowly pinching the bridge of his nose. “Zoe’s going to be stuck in the hospital until they release her. Not to mention she going to get question by a fed regarding how she got shot. We don’t know where quay River and Aleksander are and have no means of finding them. We sit tight until River finds a way to contact us and Zoe gets out.”

“If the feds are questioning Zoe you think they are watching Serenity?” Kaylee asked.

Jyane huffed, “More than likely.”

“If River tries to contact the ship the authorities could intercept the wave,” Simon added.

“We’ll cross that bridge when it comes,” Mal said and turned.

“Mal,” Inara called.

“I’m sacking out,” Mal replied wearily and continued to head to his bunk. The lack of sleep had finally caught up with him.

“You’re going to sleep at a time like this?” Jayne asked.

Mal spun around, “Yes, Jayne, I’m going to sleep unless you have some remarkable plan that finds us our missing folks, gets Zoe out of the hospital all while avoiding the feds.”

“Well…no,” Jayne replied meekly.

“Anyone else?” Mal cowed.

Without a mummer from anyone Mal turned and headed for his bed.



It seemed like an eternity before the tube was removed from Zoe’s throat. While the treatment had left her able to breathe freely the tube had left her throat raw. The small sips of cold water were helping but only to a point.

“It is good to see that you are fine Mrs. Alleyne,” Inspector King announced as he entered her hospital room.

“It’s Washburn,” Zoe replied raspily.

“I was told you were no longer married,” the inspector commented as he sat down in a chair across from the bed.

“Don’t see how that is any of your business.” Zoe replied quietly trying not to strain her throat.

“Just trying to get my facts straight,” the inspector replied, “you were found just outside a burning building with a gunshot wound.”

Zoe’s eye’s narrowed, “Than perhaps you should ask about that.”

Inspector King leaned back in the chair and brought one leg across his other, “Okay than, tell me that story.”

“Nothing much to tell. These two kids shot me and held me in that warehouse until they torched it,” Zoe responded.

“So children did this to you?” the inspector smiled.

“They were young, teenagers,” Zoe explained. “The guy was tan, had an angry look about him. Messed up teeth. The girl was fairer skinned with long hair, but I’m pretty sure it was a wig.”

“A wig, why would you think that?” the inspector asked.

“Because it looked like a wig.” Zoe replied.

“So two teenagers, one with a wig, just shot you out of the blue and took you to a warehouse which they then lit on fire?” the inspector asked.

“Never said they shot me out of the blue.”

“Then why did they shoot you?”

“I was about town, near the old industrial zone, and I heard what sounded like gun fire. So I went to take a look,” Zoe explained after taking another sip of water.

“You decided to see who was shooting while unarmed?” the inspector asked.

“Didn’t say I was unarmed,” Zoe replied.

“So, you were armed.”

“Didn’t say that either.”

A slight smirk came to the inspectors face, “Were you armed or not?”

Zoe ignored his questions and continued, “While looking for who was doing the shooting I ran into the guy and girl. Little bit of a tussle happened and I ended up shot. Made me go with them, said something about insurance. Led me to that warehouse tied me up.”

“Did they say anything while you were with them?” the inspector inquired. “Not really, just told me to stay quiet. They started talking but they were too far away for me to hear them.” Zoe responded.

“And the fire?”

Zoe sat up a little in the bed before beginning, “After a while the guy started to stack some stuff up and lit a fire. The two of them left real quick, just left me.”

“How did you get free?” the inspector asked leaning forward. “Was able to work my hands free.”

“You don’t have any rope burns,” the inspector replied rubbing one of his own wrists.

“It wasn’t ropes, it was napkins,” Zoe said.


“Yes, cotton dinner napkins. You know the ones they use at fancy parties.” Zoe explained, “That’s what they lit on fire. Think the warehouse was full of them.”

The inspector sat back once again, “Than you got out of the fire.”


“What I don’t understand is why you would go looking for people who are shooting and how two teenagers were able to get the better of a Browncoat Corporal.” the inspector commented.

“Guess I’m getting old.” Zoe replied sternly.

“Okay, but again why go?” King asked.

“Might’ve been someone I known shot.”

“Do you know a lot of people in New Buffalo?”

“No.” Zoe replied dryly.

“I would ask you why you though someone you know may have been shot but I expect your answer would be yet another none answer. Is there a reason for that?” the inspector asked a bit annoyed.

“Don’t like feds,” Zoe answered.

“Now that I believe,” Inspector King began. “Even with that dislike you are not willing to help bring the people who nearly killed you to justice?”

“Not really. Any hope I had for justice died in a valley,” Zoe said sternly.

“I see,” the inspector said getting up from his seat and heading for the door. “One last thing, where is your husband?”

“I told you that is none of your business,” Zoe replied.

“Do you know he is listed as deceased? Cause of death was listed as accidental. Perhaps I need to look into the death of Hoban.” King said seriously as he reached the door.

Zoe did not respond and after a moment of lingering at the door the inspector left. Nothing good was going to come out of him asking questions about Wash’s death, for him or for her.



River Tam reached down and grabbed a small amount of dirt from the bottom edge of the wall she was leaning against. She and Aleksander were in a small alleyway waiting. Just down the alley was the back door to a place they had been looking for. Now they just had to wait for the occupants to leave so they could make their attempts to get in. Luckily it was already late afternoon and this particular shop would be closing soon.

“Now,” River said quietly as she started moving down the alley. They had made their way out of the old industrial zone and were now very close to main thoroughfares and people. People who may have seen the report to be on the lookout for a young man and women matching their descriptions.

“How are we going to get in?” Aleksander asked as he followed closely behind the young Tam.

Without reply to Alek’s question River spit onto her finger tips were she held her dirt. A few more steps and she smeared the wet grime onto the small camera lens which was just above the small thumb scanner to the right of the steel door. Happy that the camera’s view had been obscured she reached down and removed a small knife from her boot.

“Did you have that the entire time?” Aleksander asked.

“Yes,” River responded and she began working the blade along the edges of the scanner.

“Why would you take a knife on a…”

River turned and looked at him quickly, “A knife is very useful, not just a weapon,” before returning her focus to the scanner.

After a few minutes River was able to release the two catches that held the scanner in its bracket. Slowly removing it she studied the three wires which ran back into the wall. After a few moments she said, “Hold this.”

Aleksander grabbed the scanner and held it as River worked on the bracket with her knife. Soon she had it removed and was able to reach the wire she was looking for, cut it and stripped one end.

“Give me your belt,” River ordered.

“My belt, for what?” Aleksander asked.

“Have to strip the live wire so I can bypass the system, need to wrap the handle of the knife to insulate it,” River explained.

Aleksander took off his belt with his free hand and handed it to River. The young women quickly wrapped the handle of her knife with a few lengths of the belt. She then slowly placed the live wire which was going to the scanned against the stone of the building and started to strip the protective insulation. Finally she carefully cut through the copper wire.

“Okay, when I touch these two together it should unlock the door,” River explained as she put down her knife and carefully grabbed the still insolated parts of the two wires.

“Just tell me when,” Aleksander responded placing his hand on the door handle.

“Now,” River said as she made contact between the two wires.

Aleksander pulled down on the door handle and the door cracked open. River quickly and carefully placed the wires back into the wall and replaced the scanned to make it look as nothing had been disturbed. Once done they entered the building, making sure the door did not shut all the way and once again lock.

As they entered what seemed to be a storage room River scanned the darkened building for signs of a security system. Happily she found none. They made their way through the room to another door which was opened and led into the main store front. Work uniform shops such as the one could be found all around New Buffalo. The floating estates over the nearby ocean provided the city largest source of employment. Rows of different style and sized uniforms hung on racks with signs above them.

“Any idea what kind we should take?” Aleksander asked as he looked at one of the racks.

River scanned the store for a few moments, “No, you?”

“It seems like these black ones are the most common,” Aleksander responded. “I’m pretty sure the white ones are for cooks and the like. Some of the others I don’t know, but these black ones seem pretty general to me.”

“Black it is then,” River said as she started looking for her size and trying to stay out of view of the windows at the front of the store.

It took only a few seconds for River to find her size and begin to change. As she undresses she felt a certain pair of eyes on her. “Eyes front solider,” she said playfully.

“Yes, ma’am!” Aleksander responded continuing looking for his own disguise.

Once she was finished dressing River walked over to a display of duffel bags and grabbed one. She packed her clothing and the weapons she have been carrying in it. “Here, throw your things in here when you are done,” she said walking over to where Aleksander was changing.

“Hay, it’s not fair that you get to peek,” he said.

“I don’t play fair,” River smiled as she tied her hair into a rough pony tail trying to hide its length. “We need to hurry if we are going to catch a shuttle.”



“Simon, are you all right? I heard a…oh,” Kaylee said entering the infirmary and taking in the scene before her. Simon was leaning on the back counter with his head down and a tray of medical instruments strewn across the floor. “It will be okay,” she said moving closer to him.

“How can you be sure?” he responded, his tone tense.

“Just I’m,” Kaylee said trying to keep her normally sunny disposition.

Simon turned to look at her, “and what about next time, or the time after that?”

“What’d mean?”

“What I mean is that River and I are not wanted anymore. We were on the ship because it was safer for her. Now it seems she is getting put in the line of fire more and more,” Simon explained. “There doesn’t seem to be much reason to go through all this anymore.”

“Are you thinking about leaving Serenity?” Kaylee asked with worry, “ River don’t want to leave.”

“I know, that doesn’t mean WE have to stay.”

Tears started to well in Kaylee’s eyes, “What are you saying?”

Simon stared at her for a long moment. Her hair was haphazardly pulled back, her face was dirty and she was on the verge of tears but somehow she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “Look,” he started breaking the silence, “I’m just …just worried about River.”

“Promise?” Kaylee asked.

“Promise,” He responded taking her into his arms. It was a lie, but he did not want Kaylee upset.



Inspector King sat in his small office working on his cortex screen. He was surrounded by stacks of files and old papers. He could not shake the feeling that something with his current investigation was far from right. A veteran of the war allowed a couple kids to get the jump on her. That she did not want to cooperate with the investigation. Add the fact that the two men found dead had known ties to the Tang Syndicate and this was not something King could wrap his head around.

He leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes and began replying everything in his mind. A few moments later he sat up, the man that was with Captain Reynolds at the hospital, he looked somehow familiar. King started digging through old stacks of warrants but had no luck. He was about to give up when it hit him and he got up from his chair and walked to one wall of his office. It was covered with old warrants and case articles. Pulling a few down he found what he was looking for.

Doctor Simon Tam the warrant read above the picture of the man he had met at the hospital. Next to his face was his sister’s, River Tam who bore a resemblance of the young women who people had seen shooting the first victim on the street.

King sat back down to see if the warrant was still valid. He had initially taken interest in it because it was a bit odd, no mention of a crime, a cortex contact address which was not normal law enforcement. King entered the warrants ID number into the cortex and waited. “Not a valid number” soon shown on his screen. That could not be right, the inspector re-entered the numbers and again the cortex told him it was not valid. Even if the warrant had been rescinded he should still be able to pull it up. Warrants don’t just disappear.

The inspector started searching the cortex to find out who exactly the Tams were. This proved fruitless as he could find a single mention of them anywhere. King leaned back in his chair, whatever the hell was going on he was going to get to the bottom of it.



Inara climbed down the ladder into Mal’s bunk. He was lying face down on his bed, his suspenders pulled from his shoulder and his boots off, but that was as far as he got before collapsing. Inara carefully took a seat on the edge of his bed and began to run her fingers through his hair.

“Come to tell me how much of a bastard I am?” he said groggily.

“No...besides it wouldn’t make a difference,” Inara replied a bit whimsically.

“Good. Any word?” Mal asked turning his head but not opening his eyes.

“Nothing yet,” Inara answered continuing to play with his hair. “Don’t you think there is something we can do? It just feels like we should be trying to find River instead of just siting here.”

“Yes it does,” Mal said sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “The truth of it is there ain’t much we can do.”

“We could look for them,” Inara responded quickly. “You and Zoe were able to find them.”

“That also got Zoe shot. Look we go out and start looking in the places that girl may hide and someone might take notice. That could very well lead them back here. Last thing we need is to give the Feds a reason to search the ship.” Mal explained.

“I understand that,” the Companion responded, “but how long do we wait?”

“As long as we have to,” Mal said getting to his feet.



The shuttle hub was filled with hundreds of people going to or coming from work on the floating estates over Bellerophon’s oceans. River and Aleksander blended in easily with their new clothing. Inside the large open building were rows of terminals. River scrolled through one until she found a shuttle she had a feeling would do.

“Come on,” she said to Aleksander as she turned a headed outside to the rows of landing pads.

“Just like that you picked one?” Aleksander asked?

“Very few stops, means lots of staff coming and going at each stop, easier to blend it” River explained.

They found their shuttle and boarded making sure to sit in the very back. They had only seen one fed at the station, and he was preoccupied, talking to a group of young women.

River watched the light of the afternoon sun dance on the waves of the Bellerophon ocean. River had wondered what it was about this planet had made someone think of Bellerophon, the ancient Greek hero from Earth that was. The myth tells that Bellerophon used a chunk of lead to defeat the Chimera. Perhaps it was the fact that this planet had deposits of lead as well as other metals that prompted the name. More likely someone just though the name sounded good, having no idea of the myth.

Had it not been for the predicament she was in River would have been enjoying the fight. The transport shuttle was surprisingly nice. The seats were comfortable and clean. Large windows ran from the floor up to the very top of the ship, curving to form most of the ceiling. Looking out from her window seat she could almost get the sensation of flying by looking out over the sky and ocean.

Whatever small bit of enjoyment River was taking from the fight was soon gone as the floating estates came into view. As the shuttle approached each of its stops River watched carefully out the window. After the first three she decided the next one would do. Like most of the estates the landing pad was away from the main house. This one had a landing area surrounded by high well manicured hedges. There was a large walkway to the main entrance, but more importantly a hided walkway to the employee entrance, which was lined with the same type of high hedge. Obviously mean to keep the help from being seen coming and going, it would also prevent anyone from easily seeing River and Aleksander.

As the shuttle landed River reached over and took Alek’s hand and gave it a slight squeeze. He understood they would be getting off here, but by now had learned to follow River’s lead. Just as the last few workers who were disembarking at this estate exited the shuttle River got up, with Aleksander right behind her. The shuttle pilot turned and gave them a look meant to indicate his frustration at them taking so long. River ignored him, but Aleksander mumbled, “Sorry” as they passed.

Now off the shuttle they walked to the small opening in the hedges that led to the hidden walkway. “Wait,” River said as they were about to turn the corner. She began pretending to dig through the duffel bag they had, to make their pause look more natural to anyone watching from the departing shuttle.

After a moment they entered the walkway, now far behind the small group of workers. They moved slowly and quietly down the long path. The high hedges on both sides of them reminded River of mazes she and Simon would go through as kids. River knew that if any of the regular workers saw them they would be questioned.

At the end of the walkway was a slight corner which the other workers disappeared around. A few moments after they did River took off in a full sprint. Aleksander followed, nearly shouting out to her. She had to hurry. Turing the corner she saw the employee entrance and the door which was quickly closing. She had no identification card to gain access so she had only one chance. She rushed forward and lunged for the door handle. Just in time. River stopped the door from shutting and locking. As soon as Aleksander caught up they entered the estate.

It took a moment for River to decide which direction they should go in the simple gray hall way they were now in. Finally they headed left, away from the other employees.

A handful of yards down the hall River stopped outside a simple steel door. It had no locks. “In here,” she said to Aleksander as she opened the door. They entered what looked to be a maintenance access room, one which was hardly ever used.

“What now?” the young Bernoulli asked.

“You are going to stay here,” River said.


River was looking around the room not seeming to pay attention but responded, “Because your shoulder is starting to bleed again. That and I can move faster alone.”

Aleksander glanced back at his injured shoulder. River was right, he could just make out a couple of wet patches on the black uniform her now wore. “Okay, but what if someone comes down here?’

“They won’t. Only access to some of the house simpler systems here, only need to access them to make repairs,” River reassured.

“Things do break sometimes,” Aleksander said taking a seat in a corner with the duffle bag.

“Yes, but it is unlikely to happen. I’ll be back,” River said as she headed for the door.

“Hey,” Aleksander called.

“I will…be careful that is,” She said looking back at his with a smile as she turned off the rooms lights and exited.


Friday, November 1, 2013 11:36 PM


Ooh! Exciting chapter! I especially liked Zoe's way of answering questions and not giving things away. I also appreciated how Mal did not mince words in pointing out the boatload of complications his crew's actions had brought to their door, and I liked your detail about how he collapsed in a heap--even BDH's need sleep, no super-human powers here. Meanwhile, your action plot-line with River and Aleksander is getting even more exciting. Looking forward to reading more.

Saturday, November 2, 2013 10:03 AM


As always thank you for your comments EB. They are much appreciated.


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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.