Vengeance: Ch. 2 - Questions and Answers
Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Serenity is forced to make a stop during their search, Mal finds out that someone unexpected may have the answers that he needs, and Talos reveals the reason why Blue Sun wants River so bad...


In the Black

Soul stepped carefully through the hatch and into cramped control room. The ship that had been provided for him at Ankara was practically a junker, a rusting Tremor-class personal transport. It should have been trashed long ago, but in it’s defense it still flew. Not well, but it flew. The gravity plating failed at random intervals, the environmental controls seemed to be set on “Frigid”, and handling the boat for planet fall was the equivalent of piloting a feather through a wind tunnel. Gorram boat never went where he wanted it to. He settled into the pilot’s chair as best as he could, and pulled up a secure Cortex channel and sent out a Wave. After a few minutes, the screen flashed and the complacent face of Damon Talos stared back at him. Soul hadn’t really wanted to speak with the bigger man ever again, but after reading the small file on Serenity, he had a few questions. “I think you’ve cut me a little short on information here,” he said. Talos grinned. “You’ve got as much as you need to fulfill your mission.” “I’ve got bios on three people: Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Doctor Simon Tam, and River Tam,” Soul said, consulting the computer readout in front of him. He looked back at the screen, annoyed. “Please don’t tell me that the three of them are flying a Firefly on their own.” “Now my boy,” Talos said, and Soul cringed. He hated when Talos said that, and apparently the big man knew it. “I’m thinking that it will be a lot more genuine if you really are meeting the rest of the crew for the first time. After all, you’re not an actor.” Sighing, Soul leaned forward in the chair. “I do have another question,” he said. “Fire away.” “Why are you sending me out to hunt down this ship without giving me its location? I would figure that your men on Shadow must have placed a tracking beacon on Serenity.” Talos’ face contorted into a scowl. “They did place a beacon on Serenity. Several of them, in fact.” “Then what’s the problem? Why are you making me search for them?” “Two hours after Volk left Shadow, the first beacon stopped transmitting. Within twenty minutes, all seven beacons were dead. We can’t give you a location because we don’t know where they are. Some tamade hundan must have found them and disabled them all.” The pieces were finally fitting into place. “So you’re sending me because…” He paused, letting the insinuation hang. Talos grunted before picking up the bait. “You’re the best at this sort of thing. You can track that ship better than anyone else.” He paused, and Soul knew that there was a bigger reason than that, but he didn’t push for an answer. “Then why don’t you just put out a bulletin on the Cortex and send it to every Alliance ship out on patrol? I’m sure you could track down Serenity a lot easier that way.” Talos growled. “You don’t seem to understand what’s going on here.” He leaned back from the screen and sighed. “Fine. If you need to know, then here it is. My superiors do not want the Alliance involved in this.” “Why? All I’m doing is babysitting that ship, right?” Something crossed Talos’ face, an unexplained emotion that confirmed for Soul that there was much more to his job than a ship. “Just do your gorram job!” Talos yelled. “I pulled strings to get you out of Cryo, and I can put you back in just as-” Soul reached up and hit a switch, and Talos disappeared mid-rant. He sat back in the chair. There was obviously much more to this job than Serenity. He looked at the other screen and at the trio of profiles. Malcolm, Simon, River. Was one of them what Talos really wanted?

* * *

Haverton Moon

Serenity set down on Haverton Moon just as the sun was riding up over the dusty fields. The shipment that they had been transporting for Badger was now almost two weeks late, but even after the fuel that Governor Prenatt had provided them with back on Shadow, they were still short on everything else. Surprisingly, no one had argued with Mal on the detour, even after River’s outburst that whoever had Kaylee was hurting her. They were all getting hungry, especially since there were now fifteen people on board Serenity. That count, of course, ignored the fact that Zoe and Anne weren’t too concerned about eating solid foods, since they were both in comas. Of course, even if Anne hadn’t been in a coma, no one on Serenity would have been willing to give her any food at all. Well, maybe Book, Mal thought as he walked down the loading ramp to where two men waited. “You’re bloody late,” the first man said, who Mal realized looked exactly like the second man. Must be twins. The second man looked over at the first. “I don’t think we should pay ‘em, Fanty.” Fanty nodded. “Good call, Mingo.” They both turned and looked at Mal as if expecting him to argue. To even his own surprise, Mal didn’t argue. “That’s fair,” Mal said, noting the looks of surprise on the twins’ faces. “We are late, really ruttin’ late, and I figured that you wouldn’t want to pay us.” Fanty opened his mouth to say something, but Mal continued. “The thing is, though, we went through a lot of diyu in the process of getting this cargo here, and we’re a bit short on food and a bit heavy on crew. So all I’m gonna ask for in exchange here is foodstuffs. Protein bars, whatever you got.” He ignored the moans of his crew behind him at the mention of protein bars. Fanty looked over at Mingo and grinned. “Well, looks like bloody cuz was right on one thing: Malcolm Reynolds is upstanding.” Mingo nodded back. “Badger got somethin’ right for once. Surprising!” Badger called him upstanding? The twins turned back to him. “Tell you what, Captain Reynolds,” Fanty said, pulling a leather pouch out of his belt. “This should about cover everything.” He tossed the pouch and Mal caught it, surprised at its heaviness. He pulled open the top and stared into the bag. “This is three times what we were gonna get for being on time!” Mal said to no one in particular. “Call it a bonus,” Mingo said. Mal turned his head to look over to Zoe, to see if she thought if it was a trap; but Etris was standing there, instead, and then Mal remembered where Zoe was, and why she wasn’t standing beside him. Mal swallowed. “What’s the bonus for?” Fanty grinned wider, and Mal felt uneasy. “Why, it’s just for a small favor that you’re going to be doing for us,” Fanty said. Etris stepped forward. “What favor?” he asked. Mal looked over at Etris, but before he could say anything, Fanty continued. “We need you to deliver something for us back to our hundan cousin. Just a small crate, nothing more.” Mal closed his eyes. They didn’t need another detour, not now. They needed to be searching for Kaylee. “No,” Etris said. “We don’t have time to be doing favors.” Mal spun around and stared at Etris. Who did he think he was, making decisions like Serenity was his boat? “I’m Captain of this boat,” Mal hissed. “I say what favors we do, not you. You’re just a passenger right now, dong ma?” Etris stared at him for a moment, a shocked look on his face. “It’s habit, Mal,” he said. He stepped back. “Serenity is your boat.” Fanty cleared his throat. “Badger also mentioned something about the whereabouts of someone named…” He turned to Mingo. “Katie, was it?” Mingo shook his head dramatically. “No, I think it was Carter.” Mal had heard enough. He marched across the dirt and planted his face two inches from Fanty’s. Fanty looked up at the taller man and gulped. “Of course, he could have said Kaylee,” Fanty offered. When Mal had Waved Badger from Shadow, telling him that his cargo was going to be late, Badger had demanded to know why they were going to be so late. So Mal had told Badger about Kaylee. Not all of the specifics, but just enough to get Badger to back off. “What did he say about Kaylee?” Mal demanded, his teeth clenched tightly. Fanty smiled again and took a step back. “Didn’t say just what. Only told me that he had some information for you, the kind he wasn’t too comfortable giving out over the Cortex.” Of course. “How long to Persephone?” Mal asked, still staring at Fanty. Wash spoke up, his voice cracking from all the crying he had been doing over Zoe. “About five days. Maybe just over four if I really push us.” Mal turned back slowly and looked for Togan. Destiny’s engineer had really stepped in and gotten Serenity back up to full speed faster than Mal would have thought possible. “Can we push that hard?” he asked the thin engineer. Togan thought for a second. “If we’ve got enough fuel, I think she’ll hold together to get us there in four days flat.” Mal nodded and looked over at Etris. The other Captain stared back at him. It was at that moment that Mal realized just how much he depended on Zoe’s intuition and opinion. He almost never made a decision without hearing from Zoe first. He needed her now, but she couldn’t offer her thoughts on anything. So instead, he turned to Etris. The two of them had bonded on Shadow, and despite Etris overstepping his bounds a few minutes earlier, Mal still found that he respected the other Captain’s opinion. Etris slowly nodded, and Mal nodded back. “Jayne, Tark, give Harvey a hand with the cargo,” Mal ordered. “I want us ready to go within an hour. Wash, get with Togan and prep the ship.” Destiny’s former crewmembers nodded at his order just as if Etris had given the order himself. “You’ve got a good crew,” he said, walking over to Etris. “Now you’ve got a good crew,” Etris said in reply. “So, is everything fluid?” Fanty asked. Mal responded without turning. “Just take your cargo and get me that gorram crate.” Book came walking down the ramp. “Might I offer my services in procuring us some food?” he asked. Mal looked at him. “I was planning on doing that my own self, but seein’ how you’re the best cook on this boat, I don’t see what it would hurt having a hand in the, what did you say, ‘procuring’ of the food?” Book smiled softly. “I lend my services any way I can.”

* * *

Aboard the Blue Sun Vessel Agamemnon

Talos sat at his desk, his hands clenched in front of him as he stared at the blank Cortex screen. Soul was starting to question things, and there were things that Soul really didn’t need to know. The truth was, Serenity was practically untraceable. With forty thousand Fireflies still in service, tracking one of them without the help of Alliance listening posts or patrol ships was practically impossible. Well, at least, not without alerting the wrong people as to what you were doing. There was already a bulletin out for Simon and River Tam, but even that was drawing too much attention. It was fine when the reasons behind the bulletin were unexplained, but after Ketter and Volk killed all those Feds on Ariel, certain Alliance officials with even more pull than Talos himself began to ask questions that neither Damon Talos nor Blue Sun were willing to answer. The Alliance had always looked the other way when it came to the internal affairs of Blue Sun, as long as the mega-corporation provided constant funding to the Alliance. Project Vengeance had been set up for nearly forty years, but until River Tam had come along, the results had been mostly disappointing. A few low-level pre-cogs had emerged relatively unscathed, as well as several dozen with abilities similar to River. Of course, that was after over seven hundred failures. In the end, they had produced twelve pre-cogs, and eighty-seven “psychics”, out of the almost two thousand that had been tested. Talos stood up and walked across his office to an uncovered portion of the wall. He placed his hand on a section of the metal and waited. After three seconds, the panel flashed, the section of the wall swung outward, and Talos stepped into the cavernous space beyond. This was the true purpose behind Project Vengeance. The Alliance controlled nearly all of the occupied worlds, and the Council ruled those worlds with an iron fist unequaled by any other. Of course, it was all done through the support of Blue Sun, and their financial and military contributions. From armor to weapons to ships, Blue Sun supplied the Alliance with all it needed to maintain control over all the worlds. If Blue Sun withdrew their support, The Alliance would be vulnerable to those factions who had different ideals and the courage to stand up for them. The Alliance wouldn’t let that go so easily, though. The Council would demand that Blue Sun support them in their time of need, and when Blue Sun didn’t offer their support, the guns would be turned on them. Blue Sun should be ruling the galaxy, not the Alliance. Blue Sun was the real ruler, the real force behind everything. They should rule, not the tamade hundans in the Council. Thus Project Vengeance. Talos walked to the edge of the catwalk and stared out over the field of Cryogenic pods. Over one hundred of the chambers lay in rows, wall to wall, each pod occupied with the preserved body and mind of one of the Project’s successes. The Alliance may have millions of soldiers available to fight for them, Talos thought, but I have my one hundred. Together, they are more powerful than anything the Alliance has. He reached into a pocket and produced a slim computer pad, and stared at the small picture of River Tam. Blue Sun has its army. Now it just needs its leader.


Go to Chapter 3.


Wednesday, March 9, 2005 8:37 AM



Great story!

I'm loving the backstory to the Blue Sun Corp. I liked Fanty and Mingo too. Great characters. :)

Inspired stuff SOS! Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds.

More please!

- Cos.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 8:38 AM


Bonus points to anyone who can tell me where I got Mingo and Fanty from...

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 8:57 AM


Oh! Me me me! *waves hand in the air*
Mingo and Fanty are in the BDM, and Joss got the names from The Big Combo.

I don't know how in the heck I know that. I had trouble remebering when my husband's birthday was last year.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 10:17 AM


SOS - once again, you're delivering the quality I've come to expect. Nicely woven - can't wait to see how all this turns out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 11:49 AM


Brillo pads! Love how this is coming together and can't wait for the next gorram chapter. Hope our Big Damn Heroes stay sharp and as for that toad Badger somebody should squash him. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, March 10, 2005 7:17 AM


Well, I googled "Mingo & Fanty", so no bonus points, but aside from the BDM ref, they were *hit men* in "The Big Combo" played by Earl Holliman and Lee Van Cleef, which made for lots of interesting mental imagery on them.

Loving the continuation, Soul!

Thursday, March 10, 2005 12:19 PM


Soul, you are an incredible writer! I just love this series. I can't wait to see what's coming next! =o)

Friday, March 11, 2005 3:24 AM


excuse me for not commenting bfore, but i jus went back and caught up on the story- i dunno why i hadn't read it before, cuz it's brilliant!!!! well written, always keeping me in suspense and altogether it's a great storyline!! on ehting thoughg, what happened to kaylee?? she was nearly killed at the end of last chapter and you don't even tell me what's happened to her? are you trying to drive me insane?!?!
ok, i'm breathing now. anyway, it's a great story and i hope to read some more soon!!!

no power in the verse

Friday, March 11, 2005 3:26 AM


sorry. 'on ehting thoughg' was meant to be 'one thing though' i'm really tired at the moment.

Saturday, March 12, 2005 3:36 AM


Uber shiny, Soul!

I like the idea you have for the Blue Sun's desire to recapture River.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 11:06 PM


I don't think River's much interested in the job.

Smooth exchange with Etris and Mal about the 'good crew'.

Keep flyin'


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