Destiny: Ch. 8 - They Are Coming
Monday, November 29, 2004

Reavers! The Blue Hands call down their clean up crew, and while the two crews prepare to make their getaway from Shadow, the two Captains send their best fighter into the fray to rescue the missing members of their crew, and someone won't be returning...



Mal made his way slowly across the tarmac to where Destiny sat, silent and alone. Etris walked beside him again, and again he understood enough that he didn’t speak. As far as Mal was concerned, Etris could walk with him wherever his feet led him, so long as he respected Mal’s silence. Ma… So many thoughts swam around in Mal’s mind, making any coherent thinking impossible. He had visited her grave only three hours earlier, and the ground had been as untouched as it had been the last time he visited her. She was already dead then… He closed his eyes and stopped walking. He heard Etris stop as well, but still the other man didn’t speak. If she’s dead, then how did I just introduce her to my crew? So his ma was alive. Somehow, despite his vivid memories of her scorched body, she had laughed with him not fifteen minutes earlier. Her. Ma. She had been as real to him as the cross she had given him years before. The cross… How had she gotten the cross? The lock had been unbroken. For that matter, how had she known where to find the cross? And how had she clawed her way out of the grave? How? How? That simple question haunted him. With every fiber of his being he wanted to believe that the woman that he had brought back to his ship was his mother, alive and well. But in his heart, in that place that he guarded with walls and barb wire and a moat, he knew that she was dead. What in the good gorram is going on here? “She knows, like I know, but she doesn’t know what I know.” The voice permeated Mal’s thoughts. “She’s a veil and she’s blinded you from what’s really real.” Mal opened his eyes, and for a second he could have sworn he saw River standing in Destiny’s shadow, but when he turned his head for another look, she was gone.

* * *

Inara wanted to usher the pair of brother and sister inside, but Governor Prenatt’s room was just around the corner, and she had left his door open when she had walked to the balcony. “Who’s coming, River?” she said urgently. River kept her eyes closed and her head tilted towards the sky. “He knows, but he doesn’t understand. He can’t comprehend.” She lowered her head and stared into Inara’s eyes. “Just like me,” she said solemnly. “Mei-mei, you’re not making any sense,” Simon interjected. River turned to her brother. “You never understand me.” She closed her eyes again. “We need to go now. They couldn’t find what was stolen from them. Now everyone’s in danger.” She turned back to Inara and opened her eyes. “No one can remember, or else they fail.” “River, what are you saying,” Inara pleaded. “I don’t understand.” The girl pointed up into the night sky. “Too late,” she said. “Dinner time.” Inara opened her mouth to speak but a roar from above cut her off, and she looked up as the massive shape of a late model Trans-U filled the sky. “What-” Her question was cut off when the first round of explosions lit up the sky like the sun.

* * *

The first explosion shook Jayne off of his stool. The second brought him back to his feet as his instincts kicked in. He pulled out the revolver he had strapped to his thigh, only barely noticing that Spooky had done the same. “Tah mah de!” he shouted. “What in the good gorram-“ “Reavers!” Wash shouted as he raced through the kitchen, cutting Jayne off. Reavers! Jayne knew that the color was draining from his face, but he didn’t care. Ten men against him didn’t scare him. A crazy bull didn’t scare him. Hell, Stitch Hissen with a shotgun pointed straight at his head didn’t even scare him as much as Reavers did. Spooky came up beside him. “I thought they were only stories,” he said, and Jayne was pleased to note that the other man looked just as shook up as he felt. “I seen ‘em once,” Jayne replied. “We all did. Well, we saw their ship. They chased us down and nearly caught us. They’re real enough.” Zoe emerged from the door Wash had run through. “Wash is getting us ready to leave, but we’re not leaving without everyone.” Jayne gritted his teeth. They should be leaving now! “Cap’n is right outside,” he hissed. “Who’re we waitin’ for, then?” Jayne saw something flash in Zoe’s eyes. “Simon and River,” she said. What? “Thought they was in Kaylee’s bunk,” he stated. Zoe shook her head. “They were.” Jayne wanted to scream. “Where did the Doc and his moonbrained sister run off to, then?” “Don’t know,” Zoe said, but she was interrupted by Mal as the captain ran into the room. Mal looked at Jayne. “Find them. Now.” “We ain’t got no time!” Jayne cried. Mal stared back at him, his eyes narrowing. “They’re my crew, and unless you want to stay and be a basket lunch for those freaks out there, you’d better find them fast.” Jayne gulped. Ever since Ariel, ever since he had betrayed Mal…well, betrayed was such a strong word for what he’d done. Anyway, he didn’t feel that the time was right to test Mal’s temper. “And Jayne,” Mal added, then paused, “Inara’s out there, too.” Something unspoken passed between the two of them, and as if a bridge had finally been gapped, Jayne nodded and ran to his bunk. He emerged a moment later with Vera in his hands. He raced down the stairs and out of Serenity’s cargo bay, stopping only a moment to stare at the growing fires and the Trans-U circling overhead. Then he noticed his company. Spooky was armed to the teeth, as was…what was her name…gorrammit…Elise! That was it. She was armed and waitin’, too. Jayne looked over to where Destiny sat, her engines running but the ship was still on the ground. He wanted to question why they were rearing to help him, but he was in too much of a hurry to ask. He raced towards the town, Spooky and Elise following behind.

* * *

The first set of explosions brought Governor Henshan Prenatt running out onto the balcony, much to the surprise of the three people standing just outside the curtains. Inara tried to shift herself between the Governor and the Tams, but it proved to be pointless; Governor Prenatt was too busy focusing on the mayhem and screaming “no, not again” to notice Inara standing there, let alone Simon and River. The Governor’s eyes widened in horror, and for a moment he seemed frozen in place; then a loud explosion shook him and he spun around, screaming and stumbling over his robe as he made a mad dash back inside. The remaining trio stood there for a moment, almost as frozen as the Governor had been, before River grabbed Inara’s hand and began pulling her towards the edge of the balcony. “River, what are you doing?” Inara cried, trying to pull her arm back. River stood her ground. “We have to go now. We have to run.” She looked up at Inara, and once again the Companion’s heart swam with compassion for the girl; but this time there was something else there, something that she didn’t expect: trust. “Okay, River,” Inara said. “Let’s go.” River nodded. She released her hold on Inara’s arm and swung her legs over the balcony railing. Simon came running forward. “What are you doing?” he yelled, but Inara stopped him. “She’d saving us, I think,” Inara said. Then, the Companion climbed over the railing herself and began to scale down the ivy, right behind River. Above her, she could see Simon reluctantly doing the same. More explosions shook the building, and Inara lost her hold, tumbling through the air and landing hard on the ground. Luckily, she had only been a few feet from the grass. Behind her, Simon finished his descent, and the two of them looked around for River. River was gone. Suddenly, an otherworldly scream pierced the air and Inara and Simon both spun around. From around the corner of the building, with bloodstained hands gripping bloodstained guns, a pair of Reavers ran across the grass and straight for them. Inara screamed as she stared into the face of hell.

* * *

On board Destiny, a flurry of preparation was taking place. Togan was in the engine room, coaxing the engine to work, and to not fail him in his time of need. Harvey had tied down the last of the boxes and now stood at the airlock door with Gretta; a pair of guns in his hands, as well as the rifle in Gretta’s serving as their (hopeful) deterrent to anyone or anything that might try to board Destiny uninvited. On the bridge, Hesh was planted in his chair, his fingers flying over the various switches and dials as he prepared Destiny for a quick departure from Shadow. In their bunk, Rian was screaming at Etris. “Why are we still on this rock? And where are Ellington and Elise?” Etris turned from the pair of revolvers he was loading ammo into and grabbed Rian by her shoulders. He looked her straight in the eye and held that look until she calmed down. Rian almost never lost control of her emotions, but when she did, only Etris could calm her down. “I spent Spooky and Elise to help Mal’s man Jayne. They’ve got two crew members unaccounted for, and I didn’t feel that it would be right to leave without offering them any help we had.” Rian made to speak but Etris interrupted her. “Harvey and Gretta are guarding the ship. No Reaver is going to get on this boat without a fight.” “I thought that Harvey’s greatest fear was Reavers,” Rian stated. Etris tried to crack a grin. “Harvey’ll stand up to anything if it means keeping his cargo bay clean. I don’t think he would be able to handle bloodstains all over his neatly organized cargo.” Rian stared back at Etris for a moment, and then finally nodded. “Besides,” Etris said, “Inara is still out there as well. We’re not leaving anyone behind.” He thought of his brother Davis then, his first engineer. “Not this time.”

* * *

The unlikely trio of mercenaries ran into the town, guns at the ready. The Trans-U still circled overhead, still dropping incendiary bombs on the town below. Elise looked up as the third shuttle in as many minutes detached from the Trans-U and landed somewhere amidst the flames and pandemonium. Pulling her rifle tighter into her shoulder, Elise continually scanned the area, her brain on search-and-rescue mode. Movement to her left and she spun, barely holding her fire as yet another civilian ran past her, screaming. “Ruttin’ fools gonna get themselves killed, running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” Jayne muttered. Elise looked over at Serenity’s mercenary. As big and dumb as he seemed to be, Elise couldn’t help but admire the man. Out here searching for his crewmates instead of running away like everyone in town seemed to be doing. Her and Tark had been asked by Etris to accompany Jayne, not only to find Serenity’s missing crew, but also to bring back Inara. Inara. Why were they putting their lives on the line for a whore? Almost as if he knew what she was thinking, Tark looked over at her. “She’s crew,” he said simply. Elise growled. “Whose crew is she, though? Ours or Serenity’s?” Jayne spoke from in front of them. “Don’t matter what ship she goes with when this is all over, long as we get her out.” He glanced back at Elise, and for a brief moment, Elise could have sworn that she saw a flash of compassion in the mercenary’s face; but it was quickly replaced, this time by an emotion that Elise could read very well: determination. If Inara Serra brought out something like that in a man as tough as Jayne, well, was it possible that she had misjudged the Companion? Tark broke through her thinking with an urgent shout. “We’ve got company!” And then a hail of bullets tore apart the air as the first of the Reavers screamed and charged.

* * *

Hesh sat in his chair on Destiny’s bridge, his fingers twitching as he used every ounce of his will to keep from grabbing the controls and lifting the ship off of Shadow and away from the Reavers. The only thing stopping him was the knowledge that Elise was still out there. Elise What kept drawing him back to her, he didn’t know, but what he did know was that he loved her, despite all their differences. Ever since she had come on board three years earlier, ever since the first time he had grabbed her and kissed her on Osiris, back when they picked up Gretta. He had loved her a long time. He turned in his chair and peered down the long hallway as the Captain and Rian emerged from their bunk. The two of them shared a quick kiss, one of the few times Hesh had ever seen them display any affection towards each other in public, and as Rian turned and headed for the stairs to the cargo bay, Etris made his way onto the bridge. “What’s the latest?” he asked Hesh. Hesh pointed out the window at the Trans-U. “They’re bombing the di yu out of the town, and they’ve already sent down six shuttles, but for some reason, they haven’t sent anything towards the docks yet.” Etris grimaced. “That’s probably because none of the ships parked here are armed. We’re not a threat, at least not as far as they’re concerned.” Growling, Hesh clenched his fists. “If Elise comes back with so much as a bruise, I’ll show them a threat.”

* * *

Flames dancing all around her, Elise coughed violently as she made her way towards the Governor’s Estate, shooting at any Reaver that came her way. Jayne and Tark ran beside her, their own guns firing almost continually. It seemed like for every Reaver that went down, two more took its place. Elise tried not to focus on their mutilated faces, but every time she killed one of them, she couldn’t help but watch their eyes as they fell. Complete savages, even at the end. The three mercenaries rounded a corner, and the Governor’s Estate lay sprawled out before them. The massive white mansion was quickly turning black as flames ate away at the structure. At the far end of the property Elise could see Inara’s shuttle on the landing pad, as yet untouched by fire or Reavers, but neither Inara nor anyone else was in sight. Jayne pointed towards the open front doors, and the three of them prepared to run inside the house, when a scream caused all three pairs of heads to snap towards the corner of the building where the scream had come from. It hadn’t been the scream of a bloodthirsty Reaver; it had been the scream of a woman. “Inara…” The mention of her name was all that it took, and Elise took off for the corner of the house, Tark and Jayne right behind her. Another group of Reavers emerged from the flames across the street, and Jayne and Tark spun, weapons firing. Tark yelled without turning. “Elise, go!” Elise never even stopped long enough to respond to Tark. She rounded the corner full steam, and what she saw made her blood run cold. A Reaver stood thirty feet away from her, it’s rifle raised and aimed at Inara. The Companion, standing not ten feet from Elise, appeared frozen by fear. Elise acted, raising her own rifle to her shoulder, taking quick aim, and pulling the trigger. Click! The gun was dry. Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng! There was no time to reload the rifle, so Elise did the first thing that came into her mind: she dropped the gun and ran for Inara. Pushing herself harder than she ever had before, and fueled by emotions that she didn’t understand, she covered the ten feet between her and Inara faster than she would have thought possible. Even as the gunshot from the Reaver’s rifle sounded in her ears, she slammed into Inara, throwing the Companion to the ground a split second before the bullet that was intended for Inara ripped through her own stomach instead. A flash of pain exploded through her body, and even as Inara screamed again, and Tark and Jayne rounded the corner, their guns ripping the Reaver apart, Elise Dyan saw a blinding light in her field of vision, and she fell, her last breath passing through her lips even before her body hit the ground.

* * *

From their vantage point atop the General Store, Volk, Ketter, and Anne stared out over the carnage that they had brought upon Shadow. Ketter had a wide grin across his face, one that Volk was sure that he had never worn before. “No one will survive this,” he said triumphantly. He turned to Volk. “Find River Tam. She’s out there, hiding, but my dogs will drive her out soon enough.” He turned to Anne. “Go with him. Kill anyone who stands in your way, by any means necessary.” Anne smiled back at Ketter, her grin colder than ice. “With pleasure.”


Go to Chapter 9.


Monday, November 29, 2004 1:19 PM


Oooh, creepifying and exciting. Jayne gets to be a Big Damn Hero which is terrific and can't wait to see what happens next. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, November 29, 2004 6:15 PM


one word... SHINY!!!!
time to make Hesh's vow good in the next installment

Monday, November 29, 2004 7:14 PM


Grand! I particularly liked Mal's part, where he figures out that couldn't possibly be his mother--well played and written.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 9:10 AM



Creepy, tense, explosive, fast paced, , exciting, tragic stuff all the way to the end!

There were also a lot of nice touches like:

* " Inara screamed as she stared into the face of hell."

(I loved the imagery to describe the Reavers running across the grass too.)

* "Jayne knew that the color was draining from his face, but he didn’t care. Ten men against him didn’t scare him. A crazy bull didn’t scare him. Hell, Stitch Hissen with a shotgun pointed straight at his head didn’t even scare him as much as Reavers did.

(This made me smile. I could almost hear Jayne saying this out loud.)

The cliffhanger endings are also still top notch!

I have to agree with Jasaf. It would be interesting to see if Hesh actually goes through with that vow and how he deals with the news of Elise's death.

Supershiny work SoulOfSerenity!

Well done! Can't wait for chapter nine!

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 2:05 AM


I liked River intruding on Mal's thoughts about his mother, trying to bring him back on an even keel, strengthening his doubts against whatever's taking her form.

The statement about her standing in Destiny's shadow...

Definitely let me see it...

Keep flyin'

Thursday, December 23, 2004 9:04 AM


Whoa... so much for eating my lunch. It's getting cold whilst I sit here staring slack-jawed at my screen.

Thank the Great Whoever that I waited for Chapter 9 before reading this.

Excellent characterizations all around. I did notice that Mal is conspicuously absent from this installment, but I figure you'll make up for that... right?


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