Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"Frank Reynolds finds out what happened and the crew of Serenity discover just how implaccable an enemy he can be. River shares a revelation but will anyone make sense of it in time?"



SUMMARY: "Frank Reynolds finds out what happened and the crew of Serenity discover just how implaccable an enemy he can be. River shares a revelation but will anyone make sense of it in time?" The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Frank Reynolds was happy to get the wave from Wash and they arranged to meet each other halfway. He would have liked to have spoken to Mal but no doubt he was busy doing Captainy things. He smiled when he thought about the boy, his heart happy that they would soon be together again. It was the one thing in his life that caused him no pain. No sense in the boy knowing that though. Inara heard the news with relief, Kaylee smiled and River looked distracted.

The two ships met in geostationary orbit, Zoe bringing Inara's shuttle over to ferry her, Kaylee, River and Frank Reynolds over to Serenity. Frank's smile froze when he saw the set of Zoe's face. "What's wrong, *nu haizi*?"

"We had some trouble with the job, *shushu*."

His eyes narrowed. "What kind of trouble?"

Zoe carefully did not look at Inara, Kaylee or River. "Best we talk about this in the commons."

Inara did not like the tightly controlled expression on Zoe's face but could tell she would not be drawn into conversation about it until they got back. Kaylee looked troubled, her happy expression dimmed with worry. "Why can't you tell us now, Zoe?"

"I think it's best to do this when we're all together."

Thankfully River said nothing. She seemed to be lost in her own little world, sitting on the floor making patterns in the deck plating with her fingers. Patterns only she could see. Lines that did not connect in the real world only inside her head. She seemed surprised when she looked up to see that the others had gone on without her.

Frank Reynolds looked for Malcolm as soon as they entered the commons area but could not see him. Everybody else appeared to be present though, their grim faces making his heart quail. "Where's Mal? And what's going on? No more stalling now."

Zoe wanted to calm him but her voice was stuck in her throat. Kaylee was confused. Simon Tam cleared his throat and silence fell. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this but the job on Boros did not go well. The man the Captain was dealing with has been trying to manipulate us. Or rather. Manipulate the Captain."

"I want to see Mal, where's my boy?"

The doctor took a steadying breath. "He's in the infirmary..." Frank Reynolds started to turn around and head straight there but Zoe blocked him. He glared at her until he saw the pain in her eyes. Simon moved to stand close to him. "The Captain's contact was a man named John Michael Anderson. He had a delivery job for us. Nothing fancy - or so we believed. Straight forward only it meant delivering cargo to an outer Rim world called Destiny. The Captain wasn't anxious to go there but work was work and we needed to replenish our supplies and refuel Serenity. So he took the job and later they delivered the cargo for us to load up and take. What none of us - not even Jayne - knew at the time was that Anderson had decided on a little incentive to make sure that Mal took the job. He introduced a poison into their bloodstreams while furnishing them with a meal at his restaurant on Boros - *Pang Zhu Fanguan*. Jayne passed out. While he was unconscious Anderson told the Captain what he'd done and stated he would not give them the antidote until he promised to take the job. When Mal agreed he gave the antidote to Jayne and he woke up not knowing what had happened. He just thought he had eaten and drunk too much and Mal didn't enlighten him. Anderson meanwhile had only given Mal part of the antidote holding the rest back until he returned after completing the mission on Destiny to make sure he didn't try to back out of the deal. But that also meant he had a deadline. Miss the deadline and he would die before the rest of the antidote could save him..."

"*Tianna*!" Frank's face had lost all colour. His deep voice rumbling in anger like a volcano building up pressure ready to errupt. Fists clenched at his sides.

"That was why they left in such a hurry when River reminded the Captain he was running out of time."

Frank Reynolds remembered her odd conversation at dinner. "*Wu de ma*, she knew!" He muttered.

Simon ignored his comment. Wanting to get what he had to say over and done with as quickly as possible. "It didn't end there, Mr Reynolds. We found out what happened before Mal lost consciousness and came up with a plan. As Anderson had promised him the rest of the antidote on his return to the restaurant we would pretend to not know what had been done, to play dumb if you will. So Jayne took Mal back, we followed then hid waiting for the opportunity to go in after Mal was given the antidote and destroy the place once they were clear of the building."

"What went wrong?"

"Anderson." Growled Jayne.

"He injected Jayne with the poison and only gave Mal enough antidote to keep him alive for another 24 hours." Said Zoe.

Frank Reynolds sucked in a painful breath and hoped his heart would keep beating long enough for him to ring Anderson's neck. "Then we still have time?"

"Um, I'm not so sure."

Frank glared at the doctor. "*Shenme*? How much time has my boy got?"

He noticed the worried glances but the only reaction he was interested in was Simon's. He was the rutting doctor after all. "I don't think Anderson told us the truth."

Frank Reynolds gritted his teeth and closed the distance between himself and Simon. Noses almost touching he growled a deep dark warning. "How long has he got?"

"Mal's very sick, Mr Reynolds." He hesitated to get the next words passed his lips. "He's dying."

* * * * * Odd how calm he felt now that there was no more struggling. No more pressure on him to do anything. All the decisions had been taken from him and breathing was becoming a long extenuated period of labour. Not that he minded. The pain had dulled some thanks to the intervention of the doctor. A fine young man though he had no intention of telling him so. Couldn't go giving the man ideas above his station, top three per cent or not. A man in his line of work should keep some humility. Not that he had much use of it his own self. He hoped Simon would keep his word if this did not end well. He wanted to be able to help him find an antidote for Jayne if nothing else. He drifted again. A sluggish tide dragging and pulling on him in directions that had one thing in common. All of them were dark and formless.

He did not hear her come in. Was unaware of the small cool hands reaching out to touch him. Her pale face angled and staring down at him like some sad moon. She made no sound on her bare feet, the whisper of her breath like a last sigh. She sat cross legged in the chair beside his bed, oblivious of the cold impersonal neutrality of the infirmary. Simon's Place. That was how she thought of it. And now it was Mal's though he had not come here by choice and it brought him no comfort. She leaned forward and laid her head on his chest, tilting her head until her ear rested over his heart. Listening as the broken pieces fought to keep their fading rythym. She knew he was not doing well. The sands were running faster than his feet could go and now his body could not carry him. She thought of the soldier who had mailed himself to Mal and Zoe. He had said that when you could no longer run you crawled and when you could no longer crawl... you found someone to carry you. That was what Mal needed now. Someone to carry him.

River did not lift her head. Here came the pall bearers now only they weren't dressed in black and no one was going to beat a slow drum or walk behind the coffin. Frank Reynolds did not disturb her. Strange girl that she was he sensed an affection for his nephew that was oddly touching if a little creepifying. He knew she was not right. Was fragile. And Mal being Mal he would no sooner turn his back on her need than desert his own, whatever he might say to the contrary. He stood the other side of the bed and gave a heavy sigh of sorrow. Gently he brushed back the overlong fringe on Mal's face, so many memories this boy held for him. He did not see Zoe turn to bury her face in Wash's shoulder. Everyone looked sad and unhappy. Jayne looked pissed. His own feelings solidifying into the need to destroy the *wangba dan* who had done this to their Captain. Frank dipped his head and kissed Mal on the forehead, a light kiss of blessing and love. A prayer on his lips urging the boy not to give up. To fight the good fight.

Shepherd Book stood off to one side watching silently. He made no move to go near the bed or to offer any preacherly advice or comfort. Kaylee was crying. Inara's arms wrapped around her. The little mechanic looked up through eyes bleary with tears and noticed the Preacher just standing there. Staring. It seemed incongruous. Wrong. Yet she could not put her finger on why.

Minutes ticked by in an agony of suicidal seconds. River raised her head and looked straight into the eyes of Frank Reynolds. "You love him not for who he is but for who he could have been."

He froze. Heart contracting. "What are you talking about?" He whispered, voice tinged with anguish and half hoping she would have no answer.

"His father loved her so much but so did you. Two into one won't go and three is a number that doesn't add up. Nowhere to go but to the beginning and even then the maths change."

"You're talkin' crazy, girl."

River shook her head at him and placed a hand on the Captain's chest where her head had lain. She could still feel the fleeting warmth of it. Was comforted by the beat of his heart beneath her fingers though it was not so strong now. "He doesn't know and you won't tell him. Got your hands caught but she didn't cut them off. Too kind to do the right thing. Too good to do the wrong."

Simon reached out and touched her shoulder gently. "River?"

She did not turn her head. Simon did not understand but Frank did. He just did not want to admit it even to himself. He had carried the burden too long to give it up now. His penance was too comfortable. "You don't know what you're saying."

"Do so. Too many acorns not enough trees." She paused and cocked her head at him. "And some fell on stony ground..."

Frank Reynolds shuddered. Wished he could walk away from her but he couldn't. The boy was dying, he needed him and even though his own feet had turned to clay he would not desert him now. A commotion to his left saved him from any further creepy revelations. Jayne Cobb could not believe they were all just standing around not doing a gorram thing. His face was twisted and darkened with a mix of anger, anguish and disgust. His muscles bunched up, fists clenched, whole body tensed for action. "What the rutting hell are ya doing? Why is everyone standin' around waitin' for the Cap'n to die?"

They all looked stunned at his outburst.

"You're not gonna tell me if any of us were lyin' there and the Cap standin' here that he would just watch us fade away and not do a gorram thing? He'd either find a way to put it right or hunt down the *chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo lei* who did this. Never seen a man alive less likely to give up than Mal so I ain't givin' up on him. 'Sides, don't know how long I got before the poison takes me. I say we go and sort out that *goushi buru* Anderson for once and for all. And if none of you wanna come with me it's up to you but I'm goin'."

Jayne turned to stomp out but the Preacher stepped in front of him. "Hold on Jayne, no one's saying we won't come with you. Don't you think we want to do something?"

Jayne gave him a penetrating look. Eyes narrowing with rare perception. "Don't know, Preacher, suppose you tell me?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I been watchin' you and you ain't even said a prayer for Mal, why should I think you'd lift a finger for me or any of the others?"

"You're making assumptions."

"No," Chipped in River listening to the exchange with interest. "Observations. You don't help not because you can't but because you choose not to."

It took effort for Book not to lose his temper. "That's nonsense! You have no idea what you're talking about."

Simon bristled slightly. "My sister's creepy not stupid."

Jayne made a face. "You mean there's a difference?"

The doctor paused a beat as he looked at Jayne. "In your case - no."

It was Frank Reynolds who put a stop to any further argument. A face like thunder, he dragged them out of the infirmary. His voice hissed quietly with the kind of intensity that could drive straw through solid brick without bending the stalks. "If there is ANY chance to help Mal we're takin' it, *dong ma*? Now you get me to this rutting restaurant and I'll do the rest."

Jayne scowled at him. Zoe looked concerned, wondering what he had in mind. "Don't think it's a good idea goin' anywhere near that rat's nest on your own."

"I won't be on my own," He bit off. "I have a couple of good fightin' men on my boat. And this Anderson of yours won't know them from Adam."

"I'm comin' too." Growled Jayne.

"So am I, *shushu*."

Frank Reynolds shook his head at Zoe. "No, *nu haizi*. I want you to stay with Mal in case he regains consciousness. Don't want my boy..." His words trailed off, sticking painfully in his throat. He had been going to say he did not want his boy dying alone but could not bring himself to say that. Not to himself and certainly not to Zoe. Girl was like a daughter to him. *Tianna* what would he do if Mal died? He glanced back into the infirmary. Watched River holding one of Mal's hands while Kaylee stood next to her looking small and kind of lost. He could not be sure but it looked like Kaylee was crying. Simon was speaking quietly to them.

He was surprised when Inara Serra spoke. "Can I help?"

If things had not been so dire he would have laughed at the idea of taking a Companion to help attack a brothel. Made no difference that it called itself a restaurant he had heard enough description from Jayne to know what it really was. "No, Inara, I think we can handle this."

"I was thinking you might want to use my shuttle. The shuttle's smaller which means you could land closer without the risk of being seen."

"She does have a point." Said Wash. "In fact, Serenity has two shuttles. We could split up our forces, half go in one shuttle, half in the other. Land either side of the restaurant and come at them from two sides." Wash paused and looked at Zoe. "I could pilot one of the shuttles and Zoe the other one. What do you say, *bao bei*?"

Before Zoe could answer Inara cut in. "I think I should pilot my shuttle and Wash the spare one. I won't be in any danger as I'll be staying with the shuttle."

Looks were exchanged then nods. It made sense. "So," Said Zoe carefully. "Who's going down? And how much time do we have to find the antidote?"

"I think we ought to take the doc with us. As for Mal I'd say we're racing against the clock. He don't look so good." Said Frank.

"What do you want Simon for? Shouldn't he stay with Mal?" Asked Wash anxiously. Afraid they would find the antidote at the cost of the patient.

"I'm thinkin' folks like you and me stand no gorram chance of knowin' what in the nine hells we're lookin' for, Wash. How about you, Jayne? Think you'd be able to recognise the antidote?"

"Hell, I don't know Frank. I was unconscious."

Zoe frowned. Anxious that they were spending too long talking when they should be doing. "Why don't we just grab everything and sort it out afterwards?"

Frank Reynolds shook his head. "Don't have time to play 'hit and miss' Zoe and I'm not takin' any chances. We take the doc with us and make sure. Then when we know we got the right stuff Anderson and his people can go straight to Hell!"

"Now that bit," Said Jayne through gritted teeth as he hefted Vera. "I like."

The decision made Book was left to watch over Mal with River and Kaylee. Everyone else split up in the two shuttles, the bulk of Serenity's crew going with Inara. Frank and Wash in the second shuttle would stop off at the Lightstar and pick up Frank's crew. Simon was anxious and none too happy about leaving his patient but as the Shepherd pointed out if it didn't work out Mal would be needing his services more than the doctor's. Somehow his words were not the comfort he had intended them to be.

It was as they were boarding Inara's shuttle that a thought occurred to Zoe. She turned to Jayne as he sealed the door and Inara moved to man the cockpit for take off. "What was the job Anderson had for you and Mal? Surely it would have been easiest to do the job, go back and get the antidote then take out Anderson?"

"You're forgettin' Zoe we tried that already first time round and just got stuck with another dose of poison." Jayne paused, shuffled his feet and lowered his voice. "Besides, no amount of threat nor nothin' would've made Mal take the job."

Her eyebrows rose. "Why not? He took the first one."

"Yeah, that was unknown cargo. Still don't know what was in those gorram crates and don't want to."

"What was it this time?"


She looked shocked. "*Shenme*?"

"Yeah, that's right. That pile of *gos se* wanted us to return to Destiny and bring back - what was the term he used? Oh yeah, 'twenty nubile young women'."

Zoe hissed in anger, understanding why Mal had no intention of carrying out that job. However low he might be forced to stoop, Malcolm Reynolds would have no truck with slavers. He had punched Simon when he discovered he had smuggled River aboard in a statis container thinking he was doing that very thing. It was only later when he explained that River was his sister and he had smuggled her out of an Alliance facility where they had been experimenting on her that realisation had dawned that Simon was not in the skin trade after all. Another thought occurred to her. "Mal said he counted at least fifteen women, all armed with guns."

"Yeah. How many do you think Anderson got the same way?"

*Tamade*. She felt sick. Her hand unconsciously dropping to her gunbelt and the comforting feel of cold steel. It would be a toss up who would get the honour of killing Anderson.

* * * * *

It was cold. But worse than the keen biting wind flapping through his coat was the knowledge that no reinforcements were coming. He ducked down as bright tracer fire stitched a long arc across the sky. A trail of dotted luminescence seeking targets that multiplied in the sky without pause. They were losing and all of them knew it. He hung his head and gritted his teeth. Tried not to look at the wall of bodies. Young faces staring up at him often with parts of their faces missing, eyes burst and flesh ripped but just enough left to know them for his own. It made him sick. Made him rail against the dark tyrrany whose yoke they could not shift. The burden of their cause weighed down by a God who no longer cared. So righteous they had been in their cause. And like young people of every age they thought themselves invincible. Too gorram pretty and too good to die.

"Once upon a time there was a tavern Where we used to raise a glass or two. Remember how we'd laugh away the hours? Think of all the things that we would do. Those were the days my friend We thought they'd never end We'd sing and dance forever and a day; We'd live the life we choose We'd fight and never lose Those were the days, oh yes those were the days..."

'Those Were The Days' sung by Mary Hopkin

In his dreams he saw them yet. Ghosts that knew him by name. Voices silenced in life berated him in death. Mocked his call to arms with calls of their own. Greedy hands seeking other flesh to ply a highway that had no foothold in the living world. They chilled him with their hideous smiles, torn from laughing faces as the gunfire brought grim reality ever more graphic into his nightmare visions. Each face more than a name to him. More than someone's son, brother or father. Friends. Family. Neighbours. They had trusted him and he had failed them. His eloquence before the battle was nothing compared to the dispair that followed. It seemed the greater cruelty that he had been spared. Spared to carry the burden of his life's excess, to tread the mud that formed red with the blood of innocents. If not for Zoe he did not know how he would have made it out of that valley. In some ways he had never left. Trapped beneath the bodies. Eyes staring up through the blood and the gore waiting to see who would carry the bullet that bore his name.

Each waking was a testament of the wickedness that stained his soul. Zoe had tried to reason with him. It was not his fault. They had been overwhelmed by greater numbers, a better armed and more brutal foe. The news that his younger brother Davey had followed him bright eyed and joyful to war had been the bitterest of all blows. That flower of innocence would never bloom in a peaceful land. Would never gain his majority and live a full and happy life. Never know what it was to love and be loved. To take to him a loving woman and bring forth kith and kin and bless their union. It seemed wrong to him that the old men remained to tell their tales of glory while their children lay unburied to rot on foreign fields with the blush of youth still upon their cold and mouldering cheeks. He wept for them. Not in waking but in sleeping. His nightmares were his payment for surviving. At times like these he almost envied the honoured dead.

Now though the weeping seemed to come from a source other than himself. So weary yet his curiosity piqued. Heavy limbs being dragged down and down into the darkness halted at the sound. His attention drawn to it and reaching out, needing to know who was weeping. To comfort if he could or avenge the loss if he could not. It was all he could do. Sluggish, pain driven yet familiar was his agony. Slowly, so slowly that it seemed another tableau was opening before his fluttering lids. Brightness pierced him and he heard a soft moan. The weeping hitched. He struggled. Fancied something touched his cheek. Again he rose to the challenge, fought to open his eyes, this time steeled himself for the shock of light. So harsh and blinding. Unremitting. Again that touch. Softer now and more lingering. Almost loving though he was surely worthy of no such thing. Then a voice gentle and vibrant brushed vowels and constonants against his dull ears with the memory of sound. He squinted and tried to concentrate, the words seeming to come from so far away. Moisture pooling on his cheeks but not from his tears. The one that wept for him knew his name. The least he could do was acknowledge the gift. A treasure worth more than any King's ransom for within it lay the hope of redemption for his lost and benighted soul.

* * * * *

John Michael Anderson was a popinjay. A fop. A vainglorious peacock with feathers stolen from the coats of others. He prided himself on his intelligence. Gloried in his own measureless corruption. The delicious debauchery of his jaded appetites piled calumny on calumny multiplying the depth of his offence through the lies and casual deceits that paved his path up the sliding heaving pit of misery and human suffering on which he fed. Joying in the despoiling of minors, the depredation of any kind of honour seen or perceived in others. His greatest pleasure was dragging others kicking and screaming into the gutter of his filth then glorying in it to their unending horror. Oh the giddy humour of it all. He thought about Captain Reynolds and smirked, knowing the man had been horrified and galled by the latest task set him. Knowing that the mercenary who travelled with him would have less scruples when weighed in the balance of their survival against unknown faceless strangers. The slide into depredation was succulent to his perverted tastes and he wanted to savour it.

Lara watched him apply his make up. The girls knew better than to speak unless invited to do so. No words would ever cross their lips of reproof or censure. He had raised them to accept their lot in life and for this reason chose them young. Not yet blooded but with promise. They knew his ways and were fearful of him but also accepting. His whims and desires acquiring the unwholesome familiarity of the norm. Within the closed circle of his little empire they knew no different. They were there to pleasure him. To service those he wished to cultivate and despatch from this life those he did not. The rules were as simple as they were absolute. Now he waited for the return of his latest recruits. Looking forward to the Captain's reaction when he paid him not in money but in kind, then revealed to him the contents of that first cargo. It would be a wondrous revelation. He could hardly wait. His chuckle of anticipation raised no eyebrows. The girls applied their own make up and got the restaurant ready. Anderson checked his resources. Laughed to himself with childish delight over the sleight of hand he had practised with the mercenary. Wished he could see his face but that would come later. Let them both labour under their various delusions. In his own little sick realm he reigned supreme.

* * * * *

Frank Reynolds had ensured everybody had a hand communicator. Blocky and old fashioned they served their purpose. Timing would be everything. He spoke at length over the coms to Jayne, gleaning every last detail he could about the interior of the restaurant and the type of man Anderson was. Wash listened as he piloted the shuttle, his heart thudding too loudly in his chest. Worried that Mal's uncle might go in guns blazing and get Zoe injured or worse. He knew nothing he could say or do would stop her being a part of this and he was proud of her. But another part of him quailed with panic every time she placed herself in harm's way. As if knowing what he was thinking, the big man took the time to explain his plan to Wash. He and his men would approach the restaurant first. While they occupied Anderson and his ladies the crew of Serenity would position themselves and await the signal to storm the building. Frank Reynolds intending to ensure that the door was left insecure for them. He did not intend to be alone in the building more than a few minutes before calling the others in. Speed and surprise would be his twin engines of destruction.

Wash said nothing. In the silence that fell while he landed, he was not too proud to admit to himself that he prayed. For Zoe. For Mal and Jayne. For them all.

* * * * *

Anderson checked his wall clock. Jayne and the Captain would be returning within the next hour. The deadline was fast approaching. He knew he had left little room for error this time. He wanted them to sweat, to panic, to know the deep and utter all-consuming fear of staring death in the face. Just as he was about to get up and check his drug store one last time he heard the distinct hammer of someone knocking on the front door. He grinned and despatched Lara and Bliss. He checked the mirror and eased his wig into place. The white face paint made an excellent contrast to the black hair. He liked dramatic gestures. Easing his metal tipped fan out of a voluminous silk sleeve he got up and prepared to create a suitable entrance for his guests.

The voices confused him for a moment. He paused. Frowned. Tilted his head and listened harder. No, that was definitely not the Captain's voice. Nor did it sound like the mercenary. It sounded rich and hearty. Anderson stepped out into the restaurant, letting the heavily embroidered silk curtain close behind him. A little group of men stood just inside the doorway, all big burly types. Lots of wide grins and flashing smiles. The one in front was openly leering at Bliss and trying to see down her cleavage. He surpressed a chuckle. This could be fun. He had some time to kill and these men looked to have already been drinking so would be easy to separate from their coin. He looked them over as he approached. Lara looked back towards him, her expression wary, wanting a sign from him as to whether or not to allow the intrusion. He canted his head and she relaxed. Then suddenly everything changed. The swaying men staightened and produced weapons, spraying the room with rapid fire as the door behind them burst open. Bodies poured in, all armed, and all firing in a controlled sweep of the room.

Anderson felt a surge of fear then anger. He flicked his fan at the first brute to reach for him the sharpened edge a blade that cut three fingers from Frank's pilot's hand. Tunny screamed in pain. In the sweet joy of that distraction Anderson missed the movement that slid up behind him until he felt a thick heavy forearm choking off his air supply and a deep voice growl menacingly into his ear. "Miss me, you *gos se wangba dan*?"

As the air thickened with weapons fire and bodies spun passed him, Anderson vaguely noted the time on the clock face. Jayne was early. Sooner or later he supposed one of his pets would manage to beat the deadline.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*nu haizi* = girl *shushu* = uncle *Pang Zhu Fanguan* = Fat Pig Restaurant *shenme* = what *Tianna*! = Oh God! *Wu de ma* = mother of God *wangba dan* = bastard *gos se* = crap *chuseng xai-jiao de xiang huo lei* = animal fucking bastard *goushi buru* = lower than dogshit *dong ma* = understand *tamade* = fuck *gos se wangba dan* = crappy bastard *bao bei* = baby/precious/darling


Friday, October 14, 2011 9:27 AM


So good! The part with Mal waking up was just beautiful :')


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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.