THE DEVIL'S CRADLE: 60. "Big Damn Rescue"
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The cloaked vessel had been unable to hide its' energy signature from his high tech craft but of all the possible destinations he had envisioned this one had not been even on the distant periphery of his imagination.


TITLE: "BIG DAMN RESCUE" SERIES: THE DEVIL'S CRADLE CHAPTER: 60. Sequel to "FALLOUT" FANDOM: "FIREFLY" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL PAIRING: Zoe/Wash Kaylee/Simon Mal/Inara RATING: PG-13 SUMMARY: "It is weird when getting out of the crashed freighter turns out to be the easy part."

"BIG DAMN RESCUE" A "Firefly" story Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

The sound of the cutting equipment blocked out any other sound, Jayne and Book working as fast as they could to get through the crushed side of the freighter to the outside of the ship. Already the air was thick with dust, metal fragments and feeling far too thin oxygen wise.

"Filters not working either." Said River helpfully.

Jayne didn't even give the girl a glare but kept working. He realised that the diminishing air quality was a bad thing. They needed to get out while they were still conscious. Mike Donaldson was cutting from the opposite end of the arc and as he closed in with Jayne and Book they all heard the satisfying creak and strain of metal under pressure about to give. Book gave the mercenary a satisfied smile.

"I think we're through."

Before Jayne could react, River tugged urgently at his arm and yelled for everyone to get out of the way. Puzzled they did so just in time as the section of metal they had been cutting through came flying towards them with an almighty bang, dust and debris showering them as voices cheered then called out to them from the other side. River grinned and stuck her head through the hole as the air began to clear.

Monty's booming voice reached them first. "How many injured ya got?"

Shepherd Book glanced at Donnie. "A few walking wounded, the rest of us are fine."

River turned to look behind her. "We need to leave *mashang*."

"Think I don't know that, moonbrain?" Growled Jayne, though there was no heat in his voice. He was sick of this place.

River speared him with a look. "Need your strength to help them."

Then Monty and Morgan were pushing their way through, the big man telling the children to wait outside. Didn't need any more people going into the freighter than was needed to get those left on it out. Lucy looked like she wanted to argue but Suzie shook her head, a tiny gesture that silenced her objections. Monty glanced around with a frown. "Where's Mal?"

It took less time than anyone feared, the Captain stumbling towards them with help from Simon just until his gorram head stopped spinning. A rag tag assortment of half starved men came with them. At the tail end Zoe was dragging something which she flung in front of her as they reached the others. Monty scowled as the bundle of scruffy rags stood up and tried to dust himself off.

"Wondered what that stench was."

Badger drew himself up with what little dignity he could muster. "*Wei*, can't talk to me like that. I was helpin', see?"

Zoe handed the Captain objects she had taken from the little King Pin's pockets. The Captain's face darkened. "Thought I warned you about stealin' from the dead?"

Several Browncoats bristled, Donnie itching to grab Badger and rip him limb from limb but River interrupted before things could get ugly.

"Have to leave, *mashang*! Revenge and retribution later, *dong ma*?"


The Captain glanced at his second in command, realised she was waiting for his decision and gave a terse nod. The look he gave Badger made the little man quail inside, not that he would give Reynolds the satisfaction of knowing it. Happy that everyone was now out of the doomed ship, River projected her thoughts to the children, noting how anxious and worried they looked.

'*Shenme shi*?'

Suzie responded. 'It is the *jianyu*. Don't know how to describe it.."

'It's melting!' Davie butted in.

River felt her heart go cold. She had sensed something was terribly wrong but with the scramble to escape from the downed freighter everything had got muddled up in her head. Now she knew why. It was the Dust. Behind her the Captain was talking to the Browncoats, his voice deceptively calm but oozing authority. The men reacted to that voice of natural command and helped each other to get clear of both the freighter and what remained of the Alliance ship on top of it. No one wanted to be standing too close in case something else blew. Up until now there had been no sign that any of the Alliance soldiers had survived the impact but Mal was taking no chances. Those *tamade hundan* were evil and sneaky enough without any of them letting down their defences prematurely.

"Don't know what you're fussin' about, no one could'a survived that." Grumbled Jayne.

Simon gave him an incredulous look. "It landed on TOP of us Jayne and we survived."

The mercenary flashed a shit-eating grin. "Any one ya walk away from."

The doctor shook his head and joined his sister. "*Mei mei* we should get going."

"Some not all."

His heart missed a beat, afraid that one of the wounded Browncoats was worse than he thought but River shook her head. Simon noticed River looked somewhat distracted. Not a good sign. "River, what is it?"

Instead of speaking she pointed to the far end of the *jianyu* and Simon realised he could not see it. He frowned. River tilted her head to look back at him.


"What's gone, little one?"

Simon bit back a stir of irritation as the Captain joined them. River pointed again to Titan Station or, more importantly, what was left of it. The Captain narrowed his eyes to see more clearly while in the background he was aware of Monty calling his ship and telling Danny where to land. "*Wode ma*, is that what I think it is?"

Frustrated Simon butted in. "What are you talking about?"

"Doc, you remember what happened on Anaeron?"

Simon nodded, a feeling of dread creeping up on him. "*Dang ran*."

"Look over at the *jianyu*. Should be able to see the back of the compound, it having the highest walls, *dui*?"

"I don't see.."

"That's 'cause it ain't there. I'm thinkin' we got even less time than we thought we had."

Just then Monty sidled up next to Mal. "It's worse than that." He said quietly.

"Just spit it out, Monty."

The big man looked pained. "We can't fit everybody on my ship, Mal. Even laying everyone sideways they ain't gonna fit."

* * * * *

The Minister stared, momentarily dumbstruck. The cloaked vessel had been unable to hide its' energy signature from his high tech craft but of all the possible destinations he had envisioned this one had not been even on the distant periphery of his imagination.

* * * * *

"Will it hold?"

Wash nodded in response to Inara's question but his eyes never left Jerrod Perkin's. The man might have convinced the Companion that he was sorry for what he did and would pose no further threat but the fact remained that Perkins and his men out numbered him, Kaylee and Inara. Kaylee looked torn between being happy that they weren't at war with each other any more and uncertainty about what exactly had replaced it. For now, trust was a fragile thing. One wrong look or word could break it.

"You can lock us up again if that'll help." Jerrod offered.

For a moment that looked a real attractive proposition but Inara just as quickly ruled it out. If they were going to make this work trust had to start somewhere and taking Serenity in search of the rest of their crew meant they might need Jerrod's help at the other end. She could easily imagine Mal's reaction but he was not here and someone had to make a decision. The longer they went with no word from Mal or Monty the more worried she became. No. There was only one option and that was to find the others and with Kaylee and Wash's work on the damaged engine complete they now had the means.

"We're going to trust you - ALL of you - to keep your word, *dong ma*? If anyone does not want to help speak up now. You won't be harmed I promise you but you will be put under lock and key for our own safety until this is over."

Jerrod looked surprised but quickly covered it. The offer was far more generous than he deserved but he also knew many of his men had not liked turning on Serenity's crew. A quick glance confirmed that none would be rejecting Inara's offer. "We accept."

Inara smiled then gave Wash a nod. With a grin the pilot patted Kaylee on the shoulder and hurried to the bridge. None of them had told Jerrod about the rigged engine that Wash and Kaylee had cannibalised for parts before jettisoning it. They needed not only to find Mal and the others but to put as much distance between themselves and that piece of spying equipment as possible. What Jerrod might do with that information they had no idea but why put temptation in the man's way?

* * * * *

"Captain, *hai hao ma*?"

"*Fang xin*, Simon, just a headache is all."

The Captain didn't like the way Simon Tam was looking at him. River's face popped up over her brother's shoulder. "He can tell when you're lying."

"River, *wo keyi*."

"No, you're not." Said Simon. "You're light sensitive and having trouble with your balance even though you try to hide it."

Behind the Captain, Donnie smirked then got back to helping Monty get the walking wounded on to his ship. Morgan and Danny had pitched in to remove some cargo to make more room but it still would not be enough to enable them to get everyone on board the Kingfisher. Malcolm Reynolds took an exasperated breath.

"Can we save all the fussin' 'til we get back to Serenity? I'm all for the brilliant doctorin' but need to survive first, *dong ma*? An' there are plenty of folk worse off than me."

Simon had to concede he was right on that last point but he had already checked the others and done what he could which just left his most frequent patient to worry about whether Malcolm Reynolds liked it or not. With the well being of them all hanging on that one obdurate, frustrating but oddly noble man Simon Tam was taking no chances. With a sigh the Captain closed his eyes. A brief look of concern flickered in the doctor's eyes but River smiled at her brother, mischief vying with affection in those oh so far seeing and strangely ancient eyes.

"Thinks when he opens his eyes you'll be gone."

Her words surprised a soft snort of amusement but not from Simon. Turning his head he saw Zoe regarding him with a look so solemn he at first thought something else must have gone wrong but then she smiled. It was quick, brilliant, there and gone in less than a heartbeat, but it lightened the doctor's load even so. Zoe shifted her gaze from Simon to her Captain and friend.

"We should get movin', sir."

The Captain responded without opening his eyes. "You go ahead, take the worst wounded first then as many of the able bodied as Monty can carry, *dong ma*?"


Only Zoe could fit entire dictionaries of meaning into the inflection of that one word. Malcolm Reynolds opened his eyes. Gorramit Simon Tam was still there. River patted the Captain's shoulder and whispered one word in his ear before leaving him. "Cares."

"Zoe, why you still here?"

"Waitin' for you, sir."

"I'll follow later, now go on." He waved a hand in the vague direction of Monty's Kingfisher.

Zoe stepped close and crouched down in front of him, noticing that the Captain was squinting to keep her in focus. "We can't take everyone."

"Then we make two trips."

Her voice dropped to that dead ground that made all the hairs on his body stand on end. "What happened on Aneron is happenin' here, Mal. We won't get a second chance."

Their eyes met and something unspoken solidified between them. "Not leavin' nobody behind."

"Neither am I, sir, an' that includes you."

He almost smiled but his head was aching fit to bust, lights exploding like hand grenades behind his gorram eyes. Couldn't quite hide the pain, knew Zoe had noticed, probably wasn't fooling the doc either but they were wasting time they didn't have. "Get as many as you can in that ship."

Then words he thought he would never hear her utter slipped past her lips. "Could send a distress call."

"An' who d'you think would answer it? 'Sides, the Cold Harbour was leaking distress signals all over the ruttin' place an' all we got was a gorram Alliance ship."

"Any port in a storm, sir."

His lips thinned. "We're not there yet."

Zoe's look said they were past that point and he knew it. Could see that the Captain was flagging. Quickly she got to her feet and gave Simon a nod then went in search of Shepherd Book. It did not occur to her to wonder where Badger had disappeared to but someone had noticed. Someone who never lost sight of the many ways a man could betray another.

* * * * *

"Is that what I think it is, *shifu*?"

Minister Heyerdahl nodded, not trusting himself to speak. They watched as the cloaked ship they had been tracking uncloaked and docked at the Skyplex. Heyerdahl knew they had to get out of there. Fast. "Time to go, we don't want to risk detection..."

He never got to complete that sentence. Something unholy shot out at them in a beam of pure unadulterated energy, a laser beam so focused and accurate that they might just as well not have been cloaked at all.

The last thought to pass through the Minister's head was that he had been a fool. Allowed his complacency and hubris to blind him to the possibility that he did not have all the answers. That someone out there would always be several steps ahead of him. It was a revelation that came too late. A knowledge he would take to his soon-to-be-dispersed-on-the-solar-winds grave.

* * * * *

Jerrod Perkins stared at the communications device he had been given what seemed like a Dragon's Age ago as if expecting the gorram thing to explode in his face. Given who it came from that was a distinct possibility. The portable cortex was small, easily concealed but as deadly as any weapon. Activated in silent mode he watched the tiny light flashing, a murmur of vibration alerting him to the incoming call. He knew the source. Hated it. Feared it. To ignore her call was death but to answer was both death and dishonour and he had had enough of both. No. He had given Inara his word and this time he intended to keep it. The whole unedifying mess he had been drawn into by Rufus Pol ended here and not on the Lady's terms but his.

"What're ya gonna do?"

Jerrod started, he had not heard the mechanic come up behind him. Kaylee tilted her head as she looked at him, noticing the sweat pouring down his face and neck and the slight tremor in his hands.

"It's her isn't it?"

Kaylee didn't need Jerrod to confirm her suspicions. The man wet his lips before responding. "If I don't answer I'll die."

"An' if ya do we all die."

For seconds that stretched like hours they stared at each other then Jerrod put the device on the deck and raised his foot to smash it to bits but Kaylee stopped him.

"*Wei*, I got a better idea."

Puzzled, Jerrod stared at the girl but Kaylee beamed back at him then bent down and carefully picked the device up without activating it.

"What're you gonna do?"

Kaylee beamed at him. "Put it where all space trash belongs."

Jerrod followed Kaylee and then chuckled when he saw that she was heading for the air lock. With a grin, Kaylee put the portable cortex in the air lock then shut and sealed it before opening the troublesome device to the atmo. As the laughter died on Jerrod's lips he gave Kaylee a sombre look. "You realise that may not be enough, Kaylee?"

Kaylee shrugged. "Not our problem, *dong ma*? Now, let's go get the Cap'n."

* * * * *

The dark was a creeping morass swallowing up the remains of the dust and debris. Sounds were peculiar oddities that made no sense in his befuddled brainpan. What in the nine hells had happened? Was this *diyu* and if so why was he so rutting cold? Ryan McFarlane couldn't tell if his eyes were open or closed, whether he was awake or in a gorram nightmare. Maybehaps being awake was the nightmare? He sighed and seemingly sucked in some of that gorram darkness because he passed out. A sound like a low rumbling gradually grew louder, the last of the concrete pillars holding up the rest of the *jianyu* creaking under the strain and vibration. Only the collapse of so much else kept the remaining pillars in place, packed in by rock and rubble and the clinging odour of the dead and the dying.

Through the rubble something stirred. A low pain-filled groan leaked out of whitened lips tight with agony. Bits of debris shifted and an arm appeared then sagged. Slowly a head emerged, eyes half blinded but able to see what Ryan had not. Elliot cursed under his hard to catch breath, knew there was no preventing the death that awaited but still some part of him could not, would not give up. Slowly he dragged his failing body up and across the rubble, one goal only in mind. The sound vibrating beneath him and in his ears was getting louder, more invasive, a presentiment of doom which he ignored. Too weary and hurt to concentrate on more than one thing, Elliot strove to reach his friend. With the last of his strength he drew himself to within touching distance of his friend's right arm. The unnatural angle of it told him it was probably broken but it didn't matter, it was the only bit of Ryan he could reach. Stretching carefully Elliot grunted with the effort of pushing through the pain until his own right hand could clasp that of his friend.

The dark was coming. End of the gorram line but Elliot did not care. With a sigh he tightened his grip on Ryan's hand. "Sleep, my friend, I'm here."

Ryan didn't hear him but that didn't matter either. The weak pulse in his wrist told Elliot he had at least got to his friend in time because not nobody should have to die alone.

Then suddenly the dark opened its' endless maw of nothing and in the rushing, rumbling roar of the world collapsing around them they were swallowed up. From dust they came and to dust they returned.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately *wei* = hey! *dong ma* = understand? *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *jianyu* = prison *tamade hundan* = fucking bastards *mei mei* = little sister *wode ma* = mother of God *dang ran* = of course *dui* = correct *hai hao ma* = are you okay? *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *wo keyi* = I'm okay/fine *shifu* = sir *diyu* = hell


Monday, April 14, 2014 7:19 PM


um I think this should be named "Prelude To The Big Dam Rescue"...on the edge of my seat with this series, AliD..more please, quickly, please :D [or should I say mashang?]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:10 AM


Wow, you brought a guest Malsdoxy! You are right, it should have been 'prelude to' except that they did escape from the deadly rock before the gorram Dust got them. I do so appreciate you leaving feedback especially as no one else seems to do so any more. Not long to go until the finale, your patience will be rewarded. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, April 19, 2014 2:19 AM


So who gets left behind only to be rescued by Serenity at the last possible moment?

Saturday, April 19, 2014 10:13 AM


You'll find out very soon, Nutluck. Thanks for the 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.