NO DOMINION: 7. "Faith"
Thursday, September 4, 2003

"Enterprise attempts to shake off her enemies and in doing so complicates the plans of Serenity's crew to reclaim their Captain."



SUMMARY: "Enterprise attempts to shake off her enemies and in doing so complicates the plans of Serenity's crew to reclaim their Captain." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. 'Enterprise' and its' characters are the property of 'Paramount'. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly"/"Enterprise" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *


Sir Warwick Harrow stared at the wave for a moment in silence. Always pleased to see the elegant Companion he was nothing if not astounded by the audacity of her claim. Yet. He had seen the look Atherton Wing had given Captain Reynolds. Knew how deep his humiliation burned. How warped the man's spite could be even though most of his knowledge came from rumours. Direct evidence was always somewhat lacking where Atherton was concerned. A hint here. A suggestion there. Vapor trails that vanished under close scrutiny. Was it true that Atherton had somehow conspired to capture the Captain? For something as lowly and purile as revenge? Looking at the concerned face of Inara Serra he could not doubt that Inara at least believed it but he had to be sure. "You have proof that Atherton has him?"

Inara nodded. "One of Atherton's accomplices. A man named Black."

The Lord shook his head. "I've never heard of him."

"You would have to haunt the gutter to know his name."

Sir Warrick raised his brows. He liked the subtle fire that lurked behind Inara's eyes. Had felt the spark of something between her and the young Captain. Had found himself warming to the brash unpolished young man with his forthright manner and somewhat rustic charm. As much as his lowly status separated him from Lordhood, Sir Warwick had been drawn to the truthfulness of the young man's passion. His niave belief that some things should be sacrosanct and were thus worth dying for. The honour of a Companion being one of them. In his ready defence of his friend the Captain had wiped the smirk off Atherton's face and raised himself a notch or two in the Lord's regard. But was it enough for him to come to the young man's defence now? To perhaps risk his reputation on the well being of a man barely known to him? Yet. If all Inara told him were true it would be a deep satisfaction to see Atherton Wing brought to account for his actions. A man so lacking in honour had no place among them. First though. He would have to be convinced beyond a doubt of the truth of the Companion's claim. He gave a slow cautious nod.

"If you can prove the veracity of this claim I will not only help you to free your Captain, Inara. I will personally see to it that Atherton Wing pays for his crime."

The relief on Inara's face froze as the Lord raised a cautionary finger.

"But know this, Inara. If the claim cannot be proved I will not lift a finger in Captain Reynold's defence nor will I whisper a single word of condemnation in the house against Atherton. His position will be inviolate and you will have exposed your position in the Guild to worse than ridicule. You stand to lose much, madam, if this be a foolhardy venture."

She nodded solemnly. Not telling him that she stood to lose much more than that. Somehow she sensed he already knew. "You will have your proof, my Lord Warwick."

"How long until you dock?"

"Within the hour."

"I look forward to seeing you then."

* * * * *


Weary and wary Captain Archer wiped the sweat off his brow but was careful not to loosen the mask. He stared at Lt Reed while leaning heavily on the console in the transporter room. "You're sure that's the last of them?"

The Lieutenant nodded, his dark hair plastered to his skull. "Yes, sir. Quite sure."

Captain Archer straightened and looked at Sub-Commander T'Pol. "Very well. Let's go back to our stations and get the hell out of here."

They got back to the bridge with ten minutes to spare before the deadline. The Captain patched into Engineering. "Lt Hess?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Give me maximum warp."

"Yes, sir!"

"Hang on everyone." He muttered, his hands gripping either side of his chair. The others followed his example.

Lt Reed watched his console anxiously, fingers hovering over the photon torpedo button. Wanting to fire so badly. To send them into the kind of oblivion that skipped Heaven and Hell and would simply reduce them to sub-atomic particles. It was no less than they deserved. The Captain seemed to read his mind. "Lieutenant?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Do not fire unless we are fired on."

"But, sir..."

"You heard me, Lt Reed. Besides, I think your creative use of the transporter will be more than enough to occupy them while we make good our escape."

Lt Reed's disappointment vanished to be replaced by a self satisfied little smirk. He wished he could see their expressions on the other ships. He looked at his watch. In another eight minutes to be precise.

* * * * *


He tried to block out the face hovering over him with such malevolent glee. Atherton Wing drew his index finger slowly up and down the raw crease of the Captain's left ear. Varying the pressure gently as he stroked. Newly reattached it was extremely tender and sore. The touch creating sensations in his damaged nerve endings that had him wanting to crawl up the walls. But it was the memories the touch sparked off inside his head that was driving Captain Malcolm Reynolds mad. Atherton had experimented until he got the reaction he wanted. Seeing the man jerk and tremble beneath him gave him an exquisite sense of power. It really was quite glorious. The Captain longed to wrap his hands around Atherton's throat and squash the life out of him. If only to make him stop. Atherton's voice was deceptively mild. Conversational even. "Tell me, Captain."

He gritted his teeth. "*Cao ni ma!*"

Atherton smiled and traced the raw sensitive edge held closed by new stitches. Watched with pleasure the way the Captain trembled at his touch as he turned his hand and scraped his fingernail delicately along the bloody edge. The touch by turns featherlight and sharp. "You should watch your language, Captain." Said Atherton mildly. Seeking out the most sensitive spots to concentrate his attention on as his fingers continued to caress the damaged ear. "Caleb told me you had nightmares. Tell me about the nightmares."

He got a stream of abuse back in Chinese. Not surprising really but the Captain was beginning to get repetitive. "*Ni liou coe shuai du biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze! Take your gorram hands off me." He leaned closer and licked along the crease to wet it with his saliva then blew his breath across the damaged ear watching the Captain shudder in agony and revulsion. His blue eyes glazed with pain but glaring back at his tormentor angry and bright with defiance. Atherton smiled. "You should mind your manners, Captain. I can do a great deal more to you than this."

"I'm gonna kill you Atherton."

Atherton laughed lightly. "I think not. You had your chance but you couldn't do it."

"Don't bet on that happening' a second time. I'm not rightly known for such generosity."

Over by the sink Biv tried not to watch. Even though Atherton was not actually inflicting physical harm on his patient, watching his sick form of torment filled him with revulsion. Hearing that the Captain had passed up on the chance to kill Atherton once before he could not help but reflect on how different their lives would have been if whatever pity had stayed the Captain's hand had been absent. He closed his eyes and willed the long day to come to an end. Suddenly feeling the weight of his fifty years as if it were a hundred. He touched something beneath his shirt and prayed. Merciful God, let this day end and let the Devil take Atherton.

Hours later even Atherton tired of his diversion. The room was darkening. He looked at Biv, noticed how uncomfortable the man was. Found pleasure in it and stifled a yawn. "You will remain here, Biv. I will have a cot brought in for you."

Biv wanted to protest but could not bring himself to leave the Captain alone with his nightmares. Maybe he could not do anything but at least he would be able to give him some company however pathetic. It was not much but it was all he had. The Captain's eyes were closed but Biv was sure he was not asleep. He looked at Atherton to see the man eying him with cool speculation. The look unnerved Biv considerably. As he began to tremble Atherton relaxed and smiled at him.

"I will have food sent up. You can give some to the Captain if you wish. Remember, if he dies I will skin you while you bleed to death."

The doctor nodded numbly. Too terrified to form words in a mouth that would not work. Atherton went back to the bedside and drew his fingers down the side of the Captain's face. He did not open his eyes but Atherton was pleased to feel the slight tremble at his touch. "We will resume this tomorrow, Captain. And you *will* tell me your nightmares or I will give you new ones."

Captain Reynolds said nothing. Atherton left and both men held their breath as the random locking device clicked into place sealing them in their furnished tomb. Biv approached the bed cautiously, not wanting to startle or upset the Captain. The Captain sensed him draw near and opened his eyes slowly. Biv froze. Even though the Captain was the one held captive he had the feeling he was looking at another prisoner. This one trapped within tight walls of fear that only allowed a feeble trickle of air to steal into his terrified lungs and oxygenate the slow murmur of blood that filled his quaking veins. A deep sense of compassion washed through him. It took a moment for the Captain to wet his lips enough to form words. "*Ni hou ma?*"

Biv's eyes widened in surprise. He could not believe that the Captain was asking him how he was. The Captain's voice was quiet, tone soft and gentle as if afraid to startle him. An air of concern in his voice that brought swift tears to Biv's rheumy eyes. Alarmed, the Captain tried to reassure him. "*Dui buqi*, I didn't mean to upset you." He paused. "*Nin gui xing*? I think you already know who I am."

Biv nodded. "*Qu*, you are Captain Malcolm Reynolds. *Wo xing* Daniel. Biv Daniel. *Wo shi yisheng*."

"*Hen gaoxing renshi ni*. Thanks for patching me up." There was a moment or two's silence while the two men regarded each other. Biv was amazed to see no sign of censure on the Captain's face. "Biv, how long you been with Atherton?"

"Too long." Biv stopped himself and cast a wary glance back at the door. He swallowed slowly and brought his gaze back to meet the Captain's. "I'm a drunk." He paused and swallowed hard at the unexpected confession. What was it about this man that made him want to lower his defences? To trust him? If Atherton found out he was worse than a dead man.

"What happened?"

The doctor toyed with lying to him. Then with simply ignoring the question though that hardly seemed fair. He was saved from making a decision by the sound of the door lock cycling. It opened with a quiet hiss and one of Atherton's security men handed Biv a tray with covered dishes on it. Another stepped in behind the first man and passed a bottle of liquor and a flagon of cool water to him. Biv nodded his thanks, not trusting his voice. The men retreated with barely a glance towards the Captain. They listened to the random locking mechanism reactivate and seal them in again. For long moments neither moved or spoke then the Captain roused the doctor from his depressing reverie. "Got any water there, Biv?" "Yes. Sorry." He hunted around for a glass and filled it with cool water from the flagon, his hands trembling. Crossing to the bed he realised he would have to hold the glass so that the Captain could slake his thirst. It was awkward and he spilled almost as much as the Captain was able to swallow but seeing the man's gratitude made him wish he could do more. Seeing the shame in Biv's eyes, the Captain tried to distract him.

"What's your story, doc?"


The Captain felt a smile tug at his lips. Tired and weary as he was he wanted to know this man's story. "*Qing*. I want to know, Biv, but only if you want to tell me. *Dong ma*?"

Biv looked at him for a moment then nodded slowly. "*Wo dong*." It would be a relief to tell someone. "I used to gamble, Captain." He sighed. "It was not a hobby but an obssession. I used to have a grand house, manicured grounds, tens of servants." His laugh was bitter and self mocking. "I got into debt and gradually sold off everything I had. My home. My family. Until all I had left to sell was myself..." His voice trailed off painfully.

"Let me guess, that's when Atherton stepped in? Offered to help you?"

The gaunt man stared at him. "How did you know that?"

"I have met many snakes, Biv, but all of them have certain things in common. Atherton's a lot like a snake. Doesn't matter how brightly coloured his markings are he'll still sink his fangs into you if he can and then you better watch out for the poison."

"You speak as if you know him well."

The Captain shook his head slightly. It made him close his eyes a moment as a flash of red pain filled the back of his eyes and made him giddy. It was not a pleasant sensation.

Alarmed, Biv leaned over the bed and looked at the Captain in concern. "*Gandao tengtong ma*? Where does it hurt?"

"*Wo touyun*. Don't worry, it'll pass."

"I can give you something, stop you feeling so dizzy, so sick."

"*Bu qu*. No drugs, doc."

Biv watched the Captain quietly for a moment. The food on the tray forgotten where he had placed it on the floor. "You are very stubborn, Captain Reynolds."

The Captain smiled. The first genuine smile Biv had seen on the man's face. "Mal, call me Mal. Don't feel very captainy right now."

Biv flashed a quick grin back then remembered the food. "*Ni ele ma*?"

The Captain's gentle smile widened. "Famished!"

They ate in companionable silence. Biv carefully feeding the Captain imbetween feeding himself. The Captain noticed that his hands hardly shook now. It was the first time he had seen the gaunt man relax and that thought both saddened him and gave him pleasure. Sad to think of the years he must have spent cowering in fear in the service of Atherton Wing. Pleased that he could have even this small respite. If he ever got out of this *jianyu* he vowed he would take Biv with him. However many years the man had left he should at least have the opportunity to spend them free. Biv gave him more water then made sure he was as comfortable as he could be. It was a fight for the Captain to keep his eyes open. Biv spoke softly, voice gentle as he fetched a soft blanket from a concealed cupboard in the wall.

"Do you believe in God, Captain?" He asked shyly.

The response was a soft mumble, eyelids fluttering with the effort to stay open. "Once. Long time ago. Outgrew God."

Biv thought it was the saddest thing he had heard pass his lips. "May I give you a gift - as one *pengyou* to another?"

Captain Reynolds was almost asleep. Heard the vague jumble of words from the hesitant doctor's mouth. Anything that would give the poor man some comfort was alright with him. "Sure, Biv. Knock yourself out."

The man smiled and put his hand under his shirt, carefully removing the silver cross and chain. He smiled down at the Captain, noticing he had drifted off to sleep. Gently he placed the cross and chain around the Captain's neck and rested the cross so that it lay across the bloody scars over his heart. Biv pulled the soft blanket up over him then bowed his head in silent prayer. Maybe the Captain has lost his faith but he had enough for both of them.

* * * * *


Laarg could not believe his eyes. One moment he was pounding the strange Alliance vessel, the next his bridge was filled with oddly dressed humans. As he leapt to his feet with a thousand curses on his lips the men began to regain consciousness. All of them having been untied before being transported. Little did Laarg know that all over his ship the same scene was being repeated. He shot the first two before the third discharged a weapon he had never seen before, the liquid plasma burst igniting his right arm in flames that flowed along the heated gel. He screamed. Today was definitely *not* a good day to die.

On the Alliance vessel the Colonel was rigid with horror and shock. What were these creatures? At first he found himself rooted to the spot then barked swift orders to contain the intruders. The problem was he had never had any dealings with Klingons before. They awoke rapidly, were aggressive and very quick with their reflexes. It took several hours for the Alliance crew to subdue their unexpected guests. While they licked their wounds and counted their dead the Colonel glared at his viewscreen and swore in a long string of Chinese curses. There was no sign of Enterprise but to his consternation two ships of an unknown configuration had turned their bird-like wings to face him. In the concomitant burst of fire he gave the frenzied order to attack.

Meanwhile the Enterprise had gone to warp. 4.2 was the fastest Lt Hess could coax out of the warp engine at such short notice but she was proud to be able to give the Captain that much. Up on the bridge Sub-Commander T'Pol was trying in vain to find some way to tell where they were. Nothing matched their database. The whole of this universe seemed to be black, devoid of the clusters of stars that made ribbons of twinkling lights for them to follow in their own universe. Was Travis right? Had they really fallen through a chute, a doorway, a window in the space-time continuum? Or were they in some parallel universe? Some knot in space, lost in the folds of superstring? If so how were they going to find their way out again? The same thought was occurring to Captain Jonathan Archer. Now that they had their ship back to themselves he was ready to face the next problem. Where they were and how to get back to the Delphic Expanse.

"Lt Hess?"

Her voice quickly responded to his com making him smile slightly. He wondered how long she had been hovering near the com waiting to hear from him. "Yes, Captain?"

"Bring us out of warp. Time to check our bearings and find out exactly where we are."

"Yes, sir."

The Captain looked at Sub-Commander T'Pol. "So where are we, Sub-Commander?"

Slowly she straightened and gave him a calm level look. "I do not believe we are in the Delphic Expanse, Captain."

He felt like giving her a slow hand clap but that would hardly be fair. Biting back his irritation he tried another tack. "I am aware of that, Sub-Commander. Do you have any suggestions?"

The Sub-Commander was about to answer when they dropped out of warp and felt a sudden jar shake the ship. The Captain swore and glanced at Lt Reed. "What the hell hit us? I thought you said we hadn't been followed?"

Lt Reed was watching his console intently, his fingers flying over the controls to glean as much information as possible. "We haven't been followed, Captain."

"Then what hit us?"

It was Sub-Commander T'Pol that answered him. Her voice sounding almost apologetic. "We are not under fire, Captain. It would appear that we have dropped out of warp and struck another vessel."

That gave him pause. He was glad they had their sensors back on-line but they were at limited capacity and useless at long-range. Once Trip was back on his feet it would be the first thing he would get him to work on repairing. "A vessel? Is it Klingon?"

He hoped against hope that it was not another bird of prey.

"No, Captain. It, it appears to be something much smaller."

"How much smaller?"

"If I am not mistaken Captain it is a transport of some kind."

His eyebrows rose. He looked at Lt Reed. "I confirm the vessel has no weapons, Captain."

Captain Archer swore inwardly. "How badly are they damaged?"

"They appear to have lost propulsion, sir. In fact the vessel is spinning end over end. The thrusters must be damaged as well."

He closed his eyes and sent up a silent apology. When he opened them again he looked at Ensign Hoshi Sato. "Ensign, open a com channel."

Hoshi opened the channel and nodded. The Captain cleared his throat.

"Unknown transport, this is Captain Jonathan Archer of the star ship Enterprise. I apologise for the collision between our vessel and yours. We wish to offer you our assistance. Please respond."

For a moment the only response was a lot of crackling and static. He was about to repeat his hail when a voice sailed over the com channel sounding a bit panicky and more than a little pissed off. "This is the Firefly transport Serenity. What the gorram do you think you're doing?"

Captain Archer frowned at T'Pol. She shrugged. Lt Reed shook his head. Travis grinned. The Captain frowned at him. "What are you grinning at, Ensign?"

"It's a transport, Captain."

The Captain sighed. "Transport ship Serenity, we are sorry about the collision. Prepare to be brought aboard our vessel so we may assist you with repairs."

Another voice came on line. This time it was a female. More cautious than the male had been and wary with it. "No offence Enterprise, how do we know we can trust you?"

Lt Reed looked at the Captain. "Good question."

"Serenity, I am the Captain of Enterprise and I give you my word that you will not be harmed. We were in a hurry coming out of warp. I apologise."

There was a long pause.


The female voice cut back in a little sharper than last time. "Hold on, we're thinking."

Travis could not stop grinning. Hoshi shot him an irritated look. "Is something about this funny to you?"

He shook his head. "No, just feels good to meet a transport vessel that's all."

Lt Reed gave him a dry look. "Well I hope you still feel that way when we meet them face to face and try to explain why we almost scattered the pieces of their ship all across this quadrant of space." He paused to let his words sink in. "It might also be a good time to explain to them who was at the helm." The boomer flinched and his face paled. "Sorry, sir."

Just then another transmission came from the Firefly. It was the male who had responded initially. "Enterprise this is Serenity. We would welcome any aid you can give us. Preferrably before I throw up all over my shiny console."

Everyone on the bridge exchanged amused grins except T'Pol. The Sub-Commander raised an eyebrow and wondered what even more humans were doing in this unknown part of space. The Captain looked at Travis while responding. "Okay Serenity, hang on. We're going to bring you aboard." He gave Travis a nod. "Travis, see if you can reel them in with the grapple." He got up. "I'm gonna go and check on Trip. Lt Reed, I want you and Sub-Commander T'Pol to meet our guests. I'll join you shortly."

* * * * *


Captain Malcolm Reynolds woke early. No more than an hour after dawn. He blinked, wished he could stretch and get off the gorram bed but it was a little beyond him what with being manacled to the wall. He sighed softly and turned his head, taking in the semi-recumbent figure of the doctor slumped fast asleep in the chair alongside his bed. The doctor had one hand on the soft coverlet, the other in his lap. As the Captain stirred the movement woke the man. He blinked rapidly then the man's grey eyes met the Captain's blue ones.

"*Duibuqi*, I didn't mean to wake you Biv."

The doctor gave him a gentle smile. "*Mei guanxi mei shi*, I would have woken soon anyway." He paused. "How do you feel?"

"Tired. Sore. Like wringing Atherton's neck. You?"

Biv laughed lightly. It was the first happy sound the Captain had heard from him and it made him feel good. "The same."

The two men smiled then Biv looked down at the coverlet, his hand playing with the soft material. "You were dreaming."

Captain Reynolds felt his throat tighten. "I was?"

"Yes." Biv raised his eyes to meet those vivid blue ones. "You were condemning God."

"I'm sorry if I offended you, Biv."

The doctor shook his head. "You didn't but I would like to know when you lost your faith."

His expression tightened, his eyes turning bleak. Biv felt a deep sadness in his heart.

"If you don't want to talk about it that's okay but I was curious."

Something sparked in the Captain's eye. "Curious? About what?"

"I know a good man when I see one, Captain."

"Mal, I thought we agreed on that?"

Biv nodded. "Mal. If I can recognise a good man what makes you think God cannot?"

For a long moment neither spoke. He could have told Biv to mind his own business but he did not want to do that. The man had troubles and pains of his own without having his bitterness turned on him. He cast his mind back to his childhood. His mother had been a great believer. Not so sure about his father. Those memories were futher back. Lost now in the mists of time. Or perhaps buried with good riddance. But mama had loved God with a passion that had stirred the young Malcolm Reynolds with a faith so strong it had carried him right through the war with the conviction that in the end. No matter how terrible things got. God would come through and give victory to the just. The triumph of good over evil. It was funny but mama had believed in God without question but not angels. Yet it was the appearance of an angel when he was young that had given him an unshakable faith in God. Odd. Now that faith was gone and not even the angels would have him. He looked at Biv, his expression serious, his voice soft. "You believe in angels, Biv?"

"I'm not sure, Mal. Why? Do you?"

There was a far away look in the Captain's eye. "I did."

"And now?"

"Not so much."

"Can you talk about it?"

The Captain looked at him for several moments, memories surfacing that he had not dusted off in a long time. He spoke quietly and Biv did not interrupt. It was a story he had only shared with his mother. She had never laughed at him but it had hurt that she had not believed him. Now he could not help but wonder if she had been right all along.

"I was walking home from school on a winter day Took a short cut through the woods and I lost my way And I was scared and alone But then a kind old man took my hand and led me home. Mama couldn't see him but he was standing there And I knew in my heart he was the answer to my prayers...

Oh, I believe there are angels among us Sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hours To show us how to live, to teach us how to give To guide us with a light of love..."

'Angels Among Us' sung by Alabama

In the silence that descended on them, Biv placed his hand on the Captain's shoulder. The Captain was not looking at him but staring straight up at the ceiling. Biv said a silent prayer and pretended he could not see the unshed tears in the Captain's eyes.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin. Pinyin)

*Cao ni ma* = Go screw your mother *Ni hou ma?* = How are you? *Duibuqi* - I'm sorry *Ni liou coe shuai du biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze* = You salivating son of a bitch and a monkey *Nin gui xing*? = May I ask your name? *Qu* = yes *Wo xing* = My (sur)name is *Wo shi yisheng* = I am a doctor *qing* = please *dong ma* = understand *wo dong* = I understand *Gandao tengtong ma*? = Do you feel any pain? *Wo touyun* = I feel dizzy *Bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *Ni ele ma*? = Are you hungry? *pengyou* = friend *Mei guanxi mei shi* = never mind *jianyu* = prison



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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.