Monied Individual - Epilogue
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.” [Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]


A little more than thirty hours later, Serenity was ready to leave Persephone, to start on their way back to Lazarus. There had been leavetakings, promises to meet soon, to keep in more regular contact.

“And I’ll let you know if we find one.”

Freya narrowed her eyes at Breed. “Find one what?”

Her oldest friend laughed, a little shame-facedly. “Well, Dillon’s got some feelers out on the possibility of a used Firefly.”

“I told you not to let Bethie –”

“It wasn’t her. It was Ben.”

“Maybe he was the cats-paw, but I’d bet good money on little Miss Tam being behind it.”

“I don’t think I’d take that bet.” Breed shook his head. “Don’t worry, Dillon won’t get something just for the sake of it. And we’ve been saying for a long time that we should get a ship of our own – we can’t keep asking Alex.”

“He doesn’t mind.”

“He didn’t look too happy that River stole Katya.”

“She apologised.” Freya chuckled. “Just.”

“I’ll keep Dillon from buying a junker,” Breed promised.

“You’d be better off buying something new. It’s not like you can’t afford it.”

“Actually, Dillon doesn’t want something new. He’s thinks it might not be safe.”

Freya didn’t speak for a long moment, then nodded. “I understand. Then if you do find something let Kaylee take a look at it before you pay anything.”

“Wouldn’t she mind?”

“Pass up the chance to dig over another Firefly? What do you think?”

They both laughed.


In the infirmary another conversation was going on, a variant of one already held more than once.

“I’m half a man, Zoe.”

Zoe looked down at her husband. “Well, technically you’re nine tenths of a man.”

Hank’s jaw dropped. “You worked it out?”

“River did.”

Hank lay back on the medbed. “Right.”

“She went down to twenty decimal places.”


“She offered to do it to fifty, but Mal offered to show her the air-lock.”


“She was being helpful.”

“Like coming in to tell me about all those gorram prosthetic sites she’s found on the Cortex?” He glanced at the small machine by his side feeding his body painkillers, and wondering if he could turn it up, just a little.

“For a given value of helpful.”

“Can’t you tell her to stop?”

“Why don’t you?”

“I did. She ignored me.”

“You could always ask Mal to speak to her.”

“I did. He said if she was looking for false legs at least she wasn’t bothering him with eye-glasses sites.”

“I’ll have a word.”

“Thanks.” He closed his eyes, trying to ignore the phantom sensation of something at the end of his left leg.


“And … what?”

“Well, you were saying something about thinking you were less than a man, and how I should find someone better suited to look after me.”

“Yes, I … wait a minute, I didn’t say that last part!” His eyes had slammed wide open.

“No. But I know you. And I don’t need looking after.”

“You need someone better’n me. I’m a coward. A poor, penniless, pitiful coward.”

“Nice alliteration.”

“I liked it.”

“You’re also an idiot.”

“Zoe –”

“Do you really think I care that you’ve lost a bit of you? Not even one of the most important parts, at that.” She looked down pointedly at the dip in the blanket. “Oh, I’d rather it hadn’t happened, but at least it’s one less cold foot warming on me in the night.”

“That’s not funny.”

“No, it’s not.”

“And Jayne offered to carve me a temporary leg.”

“I think he’s working on it in the cargo bay.”

“And Bethie keeps going around calling me peg-leg Pete.”

“Do you think they’d do that if you were any less than the man you were?”

“But –”

“No buts. Hank, if they weren’t dead I’d go back and kill them. Maybe I will, just to get rid of some of this anger inside me from what they did to my husband. Dig up their corpses and shoot them. Toss them out of Serenity’s airlock. Hell, hand ‘em over to the Alliance.”

She was so sincere he had to smile. “You’d do that?”

“Yes. Because I love you.”



“That’s nice. Although I’d rather you didn’t dig them up. I ain’t so sure they’re dead in the first place.” He shuddered theatrically.

“They’re not zombies, Hank.”

“Maybe vampires.”

“Definitely parental controls.”

“You’re going to need them.” River leaned in the doorway. “Can I fly?”

“Is this a rhetorical question?” Hank asked.

“And Jayne is nearly finished with your new leg. I still say we should have taken the old one back to Prometheus. Buried it will full military honours.”

His eyes narrowed. “You trying to get rid of me piece by piece?”

“Or I could have used it in my garden. Compost.”

Hank looked slightly sick. “Uh … no.”

River sighed. “Kaylee said she’d never eat one of my strawberries ever again if I did.”

“She ain’t the only one.” He shuddered slightly, then very obviously changed the subject. “Why were you asking about flying?”

“Ain’t nobody gonna come and get my ship off this gorram planet?” Mal’s voice boomed over the com. “Or am I gonna have to bark myself?”

“That,” River said, pointing upwards.

“Oh. Yeah. Better get to it, pumpkin, before Frey gets there first.”

River grinned and backed out, passing Simon on the way. “Pin cushion …” she murmured.

“What?” Simon looked confused, but that wasn’t unusual as far as his sister was concerned. He held in the sigh and turned back. “You should be resting.”

“I haven’t been doing anything else,” Hank complained, then winced as he moved in the medbed.

Simon adjusted the pain killer minutely. “It will help.”

“And I’m bored.”

“I’ll ask Kaylee to rig up the portable Cortex for you.”

“Well, that might be good.”

“No zombies,” Zoe put in.

Hank shuddered. “Never again. Something light and fluffy instead.” A thought struck. “And something to keep a couple of beers cold.”

“No alcohol,” Simon said sternly. “not as yet.”

“Party pooper.”

Zoe half-smiled, then took a deep breath. “Talking of no alcohol …”


Having beaten Freya to the bridge by a hair’s breadth, River sat at the controls, lifting Serenity smoothly from her berth into the snow-blown sky over Eavesdown.

“I thought it was supposed to clear up?” Mal asked. “Something of a thaw?”

She shrugged. “Another cold front from the north. Everything that was melting is frozen again. Deep, deep in the ice.”

Something in her voice tickled his senses. “Xiao nu, we still talking about the weather?”

She was silent for a long moment, while the sky outside turned from red to Black. Finally, as the planet started to recede and Mal began to get restless, she said, “No.”

“If you’re talking about the Fosters, they ain’t zombies, no matter what Simon’s been telling Hank.”

“Not zombies,” she agreed. “Although it is actually easy to make someone into one. A certain fish, some tree root …”

“You ain’t thinking of trying it on anyone, are you?” His eyebrows drew together. “I wouldn’t take too kindly to that. ‘Less it was Jayne.”

She glared at him then adjusted their heading. “The Fosters are dead. Dead and decaying in their tombs, flesh turned to clay and withered bone …”

“You’re just doing that to creep me out, ain’t you?”

This time it was a wide smile she turned on him. “Thank you.”

“For what?”


“You’re welcome. I think.”

“Of course, being dead doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life …”



The non-sequitur threw him for only a moment. “Greenleaf. We finally get to meet Sam’s daughter, and Hank gets fitted for a state-of-the-art leg.”

“I won’t tell anyone.”

“Tell anyone what?”

“That Freya’s paying for it. From her inheritance.”

He sighed. She was going to know, it wasn’t possible to keep a secret like that from his albatross, but … “You ain’t to tell anyone, dong mah? No-one. Especially not that husband of yours.”

“You’re afraid he’ll suck up to Freya to get a share.”

“He ain’t gonna suck up to anybody, and that’s a mental image I ain’t gonna get rid of that easily.”

“He’s carving Hank a temporary leg, and he’s not worth anything anymore. Monetarily,” she added quickly.

“Yeah, I saw what he was doing. And I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”

“I thought it was sweet.”

“Yeah, well, you’re crazy.”

She nodded matter-of-factly. “Still.”

“And this interesting side conversation ain’t gonna distract me. ’Cause Frey’s been mentioning for some time that something’s coming. And if you’re feeling it too …”

“I do. And soon.” She paused. “Of course, that could be Zoe’s pregnancy.”

Mal laughed. “Right.” Then he realised she was perfectly serious. “Zoe’s … River, are you fooling with me?”

“Simon’s giving the expectant couple the happy news right now.”

Mal jumped to his feet. “So that’s why she threw up … Gorramit. This ain’t fair.” He ran off the bridge.

“And you’ve been trying so hard …” Her voice drifted after him, this time tinged with amusement.

--- -- -

The End – or maybe just the beginning …

It had to be now. He had no choice. He’d Read the plans in one of the doctor’s heads, something the man in question would have been severely reprimanded for, if not had his contract – and quite possibly his life – terminated. He had, after all, had enough training to keep what went on in those rooms strictly at the back of his mind, and yet there is was, bright and pulsing right at the front, and he was congratulating himself on the promotion that would allow him to work on the Project.

The Project.

They meant Naomi.

He’d held his anger in check, banked under days of useless occupation, keeping everyone supplied with whatever they needed. He’d smiled, and nodded, said ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir’ … just so they couldn’t see the hatred he had for them, the desire to see their brains run out of their ears, to tear them limb from limb and scatter their entrails all over the known ‘verse. Yes sir, no sir …

Only now he had no choice. The supply ship was here, and he knew exactly where to hide so nobody would find them, at least not yet. When they did he hoped they’d at least put them off somewhere civilised, or even just inhabited, and not space them. Or worse, bring them back. But he had to try, to save Naomi.

The only nugget worrying at him was the guilt at not being able to take all the children. It gnawed at him, making him second-guess himself, but what he knew they had planned for Naomi was far worse. The others weren’t anywhere near ready for the radical procedures, so he held onto the small hope he could come back and free them too. Somehow.

“Naomi.” He shook the little girl.

“Adam?” She looked up at him, rubbing the heels of her palms into her sleepy eyes.

“Get dressed. We have to go.”

“Go where?” She sat up, her body too thin in her nightdress.

“Somewhere else. Somewhere … safe.”


He couldn’t tell her, couldn’t show her the operations that were going to start, the cutting open of her skull, the stripping of …

Instead he smiled. “Come on, Naomi. Get dressed. It’s an adventure.”



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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]