From the Inside: 2
Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Zoe's dying and Mal has to figure out how to make that not so without using his gun.


The disclaimer is that Firefly and all of its original pertaining characters, bits, and bobs belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy and no self respecting fan would ever try and claim otherwise.

The man was still smiling. He knew that as long as Zoë was lying on the floor, her body yanking itself about as it was, he had the upper hand. He knew that, even with the smell of gun oil from Mal’s pistol in his nostrils, he was safe. Mal knew it, too, and it made him even angrier that he couldn’t make this mei ta ma de hun dan die a slow and painful death. Mal also knew that each second that ticked away took a little more of Zoë’s life with it. He uncocked his gun. “What do you want?” he asked the man, death dripping from every word. The man took a step back from Mal, smoothed his robes and shook to straighten himself out. “There’s no need to get so very upset, dear Captain. There is a solution to your little crisis.” The man walked to his desk and sat on the edge. “It just so happens that the poison your friend there has ingested is very rare, very rare indeed. Had she been anywhere else when she fell ill, she would have had no chance at all.” The man’s voice rolled along and Mal had the certain and disgusting feeling that he had said these very words before on more than one occasion. Why was he saying all of this? He was taking time, too much of Zoë’s time. “However,” the man continued with a flourish, “it is also the case that I happen to have, on hand, the antidote to that very same rare poison. So, the position we are in is quite marvelous…” The man’s speech stopped as Mal delivered a punch that spun his head around. His body twisted and toppled to the floor. He grabbed his jaw in pain and his eyes were wide in shock. “I don’t have the time to listen to you stroke yourself all day. This is not one of your fanciful books where everything’s roundabout and mysterious. This is real and if you don’t give her the antidote right now, I will take you apart piece by piece until I get it.” The man stood and glared at Mal. “You sha gua chun zi. I would rather die knowing that I’d taken another one of you worthless pieces of le se with me than ever let you think you were better than me.” Mal looked into the man’s eyes, his blood boiling. He wanted to drop the hammer on this evil gan ni niang, take the crazy wang ba dan out of the ‘verse. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t. He had to let the madness roll on to its end and speed it in coming if he could, for Zoë’s sake. Mal couldn’t speak. He just waited for the man to say what he had to say, to open the door for Mal to crawl or beg or whatever it was that he had to do before he could shoot the hun dan’s face off. “The antidote is very expensive, so the money in that purse you have there should just about cover my expenses. We’re both business men Captain Reynolds, I’m sure you understand.” The man was of course pointing to the purse he had given Mal as payment for the stolen books. Mal couldn’t believe that was all he wanted. Without a second thought, he threw the purse to the man. “Take it,” he spat. “Get the antidote, now.” This didn’t feel right. Something was very wrong with this situation, but Mal couldn’t put a finger on it quite. He felt like he was in a play, a movie, some kind of show and he didn’t know his lines. The man caught the purse awkwardly against his chest and smiled his radiant white smile once more. “It truly is a pleasure doing business with a man so devoted to his crew,” he said and walked to the wall at the back of the office. He reached up and took a blue leather bound book off of a high shelf and opened it. The pages had been cut out to leave space for a small bottle filled with a yellow liquid. Mal stared, bemusedly. This ruttin’ fool really thought this was a gorram fairy tale he was living in. “Sometimes the oldest tricks are the best ones,” the man said and handed the bottle to Mal. “Now, my dear Captain, to ensure that you don’t try to kill or maim me right now, as I’m certain is your habit, I will withhold giving you the instructions of how to administer the antidote until you have reached your ship and left my planet.” Mal’s gun was back in the man’s face. “You’ll give them to me now and I might let you live,” Mal replied. The man’s smile remained in place, but his eyes went icy cold. “Captain, remember what I said about letting her die. Your misery will be quite sufficient to keep me company in my grave.” The two stared at each other for a moment, neither willing to back down. Mal knew that this man believed what he said. He was well and truly crazy and he believed that he was right and just in everything he was doing. Mal had learned long ago, you can’t scare a man who believes he’s going to heaven. Mal backed away and bent to pick Zoë up and get her the hell out of that place. “You see, Captain,” the man said smugly, “it’s not a matter of brawn or might or who has the biggest gun. It all comes down to intellect, who is smarter. You have simply been outsmarted today, Captain.” “Only if you think that you’ve already won, Gallick.” Mal and the man standing in front of him turned to look in the direction of this new voice. It took Mal a moment to recognize the slave girl. She had changed her clothes and now wore a man’s pants, boots, button up shirt, and suspenders. The suspenders were obviously necessary because all of the clothes appeared to be a size or two too big. “But I don’t think your victory would be the conclusion I’d come to, given all of the facts.” The man called Gallick was spluttering, unable to speak which Mal found astounding in and of itself. “Terra, what!?…What are?!…You don’t come in now!” The girl, Terra, ignored Gallick and continued speaking in a clear and strong voice, her eyes burning and fire in her cheeks. “Allow me to fill you in on what you’ve missed. First of all, you have given Captain Reynolds the wrong antidote. Your first mistake. Captain, that isn’t going to help her at all. Put two drops of this on her tongue.” She reached into her pocket, pulled out a small vial and tossed it to the Captain. “What do you mean it isn’t the right…?” Gallick began once more. His face was turning purple and flecks of spittle were flying from his lips as he tried to speak through his agitation and confusion. Once again, however, Terra cut him off. “Daniel didn’t deliver your poison to the barkeep this morning. He delivered mine,” she said, matter-of-factly. Gallick looked from Terra to Zoë lying in Mal’s arms now as he carefully dripped two drops of the clear fluid into her mouth. Gallick’s mouth was moving, but he was only making nonsensical sounds, gesticulating and scratching at his throat as his face turned an even darker shade of purple. “It displays the same symptoms, but it’s not the same at all. I made it myself actually. I engineered it for just such an occasion.” Gallick was huffing and coughing, almost snarling he was so enraged, and grasping for his cane to strike Terra down with. “Which brings me to my second point. Before you declared yourself the winner, you should have taken into consideration the fact that I poisoned your breakfast this morning and you haven’t got very long to live. A few minutes maximum, if I had to make a guess.” Gallick’s eyes went wide. He was still clutching at his throat and didn’t seem to even notice that a trickle of blood was oozing from both nostrils. He turned his cane to use for it’s original purpose, to help him stand, but it slipped from beneath him and rolled across the floor to stop at Terra’s feet. The rest of Gallick slumped to the carpet where he writhed on his back. Mal watched as Terra calmly and quietly bent to pick up the cane. She walked to where Gallick lay twisting in pain and fear and confusion. “I win, Gallick,” she said so quietly that Mal could barely hear her. “I will never feel your hands on me again. I will never watch you kill another good man at a whim and I will never again be called your slave. Wo xi wang ni man man si, dan kuai dian xia di yu! You lose!” Suddenly she raised the cane in the air and brought it down on Gallick’s face. He screamed in pain and Mal could see that all of the man’s perfect white teeth had been broken out. Terra dropped the cane and walked to where Mal sat cradling Zoë’s head. She had stopped twitching, but she still wasn’t conscious. “Did you give her just the two drops?” Terra asked him. Mal nodded mutely. Mal had wanted to kill the man sure enough and give him no end of pain in the process for what he’d done to his first mate, but he had to admit that the girl had done a thorough job of it, to say the least. “Good, then,” Terra said. “She’ll be coming around in just a minute. Help me get her into the chair.” The two of them lifted Zoë and managed to get her into a sitting position in the chair she’d been seated in before. “She gonna be alright?” Mal asked, finding his voice after the surprise of the last couple of minutes. “Yeah, she’ll be right as rain,” Terra said nodding. “It had to look a lot worse than it really was, believe me. Gallick would have known something was wrong if she’d reacted any differently. This wasn’t the first time he’s done this.” Mal thought back to the way he’d felt about being in a show. He started to make guesses as to why. “The real poison, the one he meant to give to her, is a nasty one. When you got off planet, he would have given you the instructions on how to administer the antidote and for the first couple of hours she would have seemed fine. Then she would have started bleeding from the ears, died, and so would the rest of your crew in a matter of an hour or so. Once the body is dead it becomes wildly contagious. Gallick has a deal with the local pirates. He kills the crew and they get the ship. That way, no one can spread the word that doing jobs for him gets people killed.” Mal got a startling image of dying while bleeding from the ears. He glanced over at the body of Gallick lying in a pool of his own blood and shuddered. “Well, I’m mighty thankful then, I guess.” “Any time,” Terra said, absolutely deadpan. Zoë moaned a bit and started moving. Mal and Terra shifted their attention back to her from where they were kneeling on either side. Zoë opened her eyes and looked around understandably a bit confused. “Take it easy, Zoë, we’re okay,” Mal said. “My head is all swimmy, Mal,” Zoë said, putting a hand up to her face. “That’s normal. It’s okay. You got poisoned,” Terra said. “What?” Zoë asked. “What part of me getting poisoned is normal or okay?” She leaned forward and put her head between her hands. “I feel like I’ve been kicked all over. Ow!” she yelped, finding a healthy sized knob on the back of her head. “You were doing a fair amount of flopping about on the floor, Zoë. A person doing that can only expect a few bumps and bruises,” Mal said, smiling. Zoë looked as if she’d like to give him a few bumps and bruises. “I don’t mean to rush you. You’ll need some time to get your bearings back, but I don’t necessarily think this is the best place to do that,” Terra said to the both of them. “Huh?” Zoë asked. Mal pointed to the body of Gallick on the floor behind the desk. Zoë gave Mal a look that clearly asked if he had done that. He gave a headshake and a jerk that just as clearly indicated that he hadn’t, but Terra had. Zoë gave a nod of approval. She made ready to stand. “Wait, wait just a minute. Before the two of you get moving I have a proposition for you,” Terra said, visibly nervous. Mal and Zoë once again exchanged a look. “I’ll be brief,” Terra said, her eyes pleading, but she rushed on before the two could pass any preliminary judgment. “ Not to be stating the obvious, but I just killed the man who owned me, the biggest most powerful man on this planet and that’s not gonna put me in any good graces with the local authorities. I can’t just disappear in the town because Gallick paraded me around like a prized piece of livestock. Everyone knows he owned me. That’s how he caught me when I tried to run away before.” Terra had a look of utter disgust on her face. A shudder passed through her and she was back to business. “I have a need to go someplace, any place that’s not here and if I understand correctly, you have a spaceship.” Mal and Zoë continued to look at her, listening. “My offer is,” Terra reached behind her and grabbed the purse of money that had been Gallick’s, then the Captain’s, then Gallick’s again, “first of all, this is yours, fair and square. You earned it. Second, I know the combination to Gallick’s safe. Now, I’m willing to offer you half of what is in there right now which is roughly around 24,000 in jewels, platinum, and some Alliance bills. All I need is passage to someplace where I can make some kind of a life for myself.” She finished in a rush. She was obviously afraid that they would tell her no. This was the one part of her plan that she hadn’t been able to guarantee at the outset. The rest of her life, whether it would be spent in a jail cell and then the gallows or whether it would amount to something more hinged on what the Captain and his first officer would decide. They looked at each other and had another of their wordless conversations. Mal remembered the brands. Zoë remembered the look of defiance as she’d been struck down. There was an extra berth in the passenger dorms and the thought of letting this girl die because she’d refused to continue bowing down to her cruel master when they had the power to save her was unthinkable. And being able to divide 24,000 amongst the crew wasn’t too awfully bad either. In a matter of seconds, they’d come to their decision. “Grab whatever bits of precious you might have and let’s get crackin’ at that safe,” Mal said. Terra didn’t smile exactly, but there was a look of hope in her eyes that hadn’t been there before and Mal couldn’t help but be pleased he’d put it there.


They got into the safe and got the money without incident. Terra knew the combination to the safe and the disarming code for the alarm. Though the jewels and platinum had to be fenced before they knew a solid amount, Mal judged what with the jewels being uncut and the platinum being unmarked, they’d be easy to unload and 24,000 was a good estimate. When all was said and done, Terra would a wealthy woman and the crew wouldn’t be doing too poorly splitting 24,000 plus the money that was in the purse between the 9 of them, after Mal had taken some out for fuel, parts, and necessities, of course. They got ready to go, put all the valuables into crates and loaded them onto a wagon. Terra loaded a big duffle bag and a large wooden case with a handle on the top that made sort of a tinkling noise as she walked. As they loaded, Mal gave voice to something he’d been concerned about from the time they’d left the office about 15 minutes before. “This is a plantation, so where the hell are all the hands, the overseers, the slaves?” Luckily they hadn’t run into anyone else thus far, but Mal decided it was a mite creepifying how dead the place seemed to be. He kept expecting a party of folk to come around a corner and yell, “boo.” Terra grunted as she set an especially heavy crate onto the wagon bed. “Gallick didn’t mean to let you two sit in that tavern quite so long as you did this morning. He really did have a bit of a crisis on his hands. Apparently, someone set fire to the grain storage silos last night. They managed to put the blaze out before the sun was even up, but everyone is out trying to clean up and salvage what they can.” Terra strained to put another crate into the wagon as she looked Mal in the eye and said, “Isn’t it amazing what one well placed match can do?” An excellent diversion. It kept everyone out of trouble and harm’s way. Mal decided he liked the way this girl thought. Just before they left, Terra went into Gallick’s office to take a few of the books off of the shelves. A few for what they contained, small bottles or jars, strange little devices, but several because she had enjoyed the stories when she’d taken the risk of stealing them to hide away with and read over an afternoon. Stepping to the shelves behind the desk, she took one final look at the man who had tormented her for most of her life, his body a husk, useless and used. Terra felt the end of something as she stood there staring. She had done as she had so often promised him that she would. She had watched him die and been the cause of it. She had taken control away and grasped it firmly in her own hands. She had beaten him by outsmarting him, a vicious man who thought he was a genius. For nine years, from the time she was eleven years old, Gallick had hung a sword of pain over her head. He’d manipulated her mind, beaten her until she’d bled, violated her in ways she hoped that God had never seen and he’d smiled at her and laughed. He’d tried to make her as small as he could to make himself bigger. She’d won now. She’d struck him down as low as a being could go. She didn’t know how that made her feel. She wanted to scream at him even now that he was dead, just open her mouth and let her heart pour out all of the hurts he’d given her, to beat his body, though he wouldn’t feel the pain. Instead, Terra spit in the open eyes of Gallick’s corpse. He was beginning to smell, so she grabbed the volumes she wanted and took her leave of the horrible place by way of the basement and the power system.


Mal, Zoë, and Terra finished loading up the wagon and made their way toward town and Serenity. Terra had climbed in the back of the wagon and tucked all of her hair up underneath a wide brimmed hat so that if anyone should see her, between the men’s clothes and the lack of long corn silk hair, they’d be hard pressed to say it had been her. Mal and Zoë rode along in the front of the wagon talking about what supplies Serenity needed and where they’d be going to next. Mal glanced behind them to make sure they weren’t being followed. They were in a valley, so he couldn’t see much. He knew that Terra would be able to tell them of a pursuit, but he liked to be sure. Just before he turned back to face front, he saw a tendril of smoke rising over the top of the hill and remembered what Terra had said about the grain silos. That had been a good idea. He was glad she’d taken control of her life and sent that qiang bao hou zi de hun dan to the hot place. He was hopeful for her, hopeful for all of them. He liked it when things turned out right, when the ‘verse seemed like it had order and justice. Well, he amended, not too much justice or he’d be out of a job. As they were climbing to the top of the next hill, Mal looked overhead at the bright sun beaming down. All things considered, today had been a good day. “You know, I think we’re even gonna make it back in time for supper, if Jayne doesn’t get to it fir…” The Captain was interrupted by an explosion coming from behind. The horses were spooked, but he managed to get control of them. He stood up on the seat of the wagon and looked back. From where they were at the top of the hill, they could see all the way back to the plantation a few miles behind. The manor house was engulfed in fire. Part of it was in flaming pieces, which were still falling to the ground as Mal and Zoë watched in surprise. Terra, unmoved, just watched. “Isn’t it amazing…” she said as a thoughtful smile played across her lips.

mei ta ma de hun dan = mother humping son of a bitch sha gua chun zi = retarded moron le se = garbage ga ni niang = motherfucker wang ba dan = bastard Wo xi wang ni man man si, dan kuai dian xia di yu = I wish you a slow death, but a quick ride to hell qiang bao hou zi de hun dan = monkey raping son of a bitch


Wednesday, February 9, 2005 11:58 AM


Glad to see Zoe isn't gonna die. As for Terra...interesting. She obviously has no problem killing people. Lets hope she doesn't try anything with the wonderful crew of Serenity. But if she does, I'm sure Mal can kick her ass. =o)

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 1:10 PM


Excellent! Loved that *liumang wangba dan* getting his come uppance from the girl he had tormented and used as a slave for nine years. Has a kind of poetry to it. Can't wait to see what happens next. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 2:49 PM


Like it so far.
The bad guy of the mansion (I don't remember his nme right now XD) made me think of a 50's Hammer productions villain so in my mind he looked like a mix between Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee.
I like the way you write, by the way, it makes the reading smooth and entertaining.

A little criticism is that Terra seems to be too perfect. Too cool, too smart, too centered (a little psico too, but that's not bad)... dunno, yet I really want to see what's to come next.

Thursday, February 10, 2005 8:02 AM


Well this is certainly going in a direction removed from where I thought it was... feel free to keep me guessing :-)

Thursday, February 10, 2005 9:17 AM


Your take on Zoe in this series is excellent! I have one little teeny tiny critique: Remember in ARIEL when Simon gives values in credits and in platinum? The "common immune booster" was "20 credits, maybe 50 platinum" so raw platinum can be valued from that at 2.5 platinum units to a credit.

I'm picking nits, I know, but I like this enough to want to put in what I hope you'll see as constructive critique. No offense meant!

Thursday, February 10, 2005 10:28 AM



Trust me, there is no offense taken. I was having a lot of trouble figuring out relative values for things. Part of my difficulty is there isn't a named currency (i.e. dollars, pounds, euros, etc.) The closest I've got is credits. So, thank you immensely for giving me a star to sail my fanfic by.

Thursday, February 10, 2005 10:37 AM


Terra is one intriguing girl. She certainly got her revenge, and rightly so. I'm interested to see what happens next, and just what kind of trouble Terra gets Serenity and her crew in. More!

- Soul

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 9:19 AM


I found myself reading faster just so I could see what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed this. Can't wait to read more of your stuff.


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From the Inside: 2
Zoe's dying and Mal has to figure out how to make that not so without using his gun.

From the Inside
This is the first part of a multi-part series. It's just the openning of the door so it's a short one. Zoe and Mal on the job, reflecting on what's important, and as always, a bit of peril.