Vengeance: Ch. 3 - ...To Fallen Friends
Thursday, March 17, 2005

The collective crew finally faces their losses, while Kaylee tries to find a reason for her situation. Soul thinks about his past, and someone unexpected is waiting for them all...


On Board Serenity In the Black

Harvey Breisch walked slowly around the cargo bay, examining every piece of cargo and checking it off against the inventory sheet on the clipboard in his hand. Most people preferred to use computer pads for inventory, but Harvey didn’t really trust computers. He put much more faith in a simple pen-and-paper method. Besides, he was on Serenity now, not Destiny, and he had a strong desire to prove that he was a vital member of the crew. After marking off the last item on the sheet, Harvey sighed and wiped an arm across his brow. The temperature on Destiny had always been cool and comfortable. Captain Reynolds seemed to like things a bit on the warm side, and the bit of fat around Harvey’s midsection served as insulation. He was a bit too pudgy for his like, but his arms under his black skin were pure muscle, the result of many years spent as Load Master to seven different ships. He could bench press with the best of them, and his plan was to prove that fact. Setting down the clipboard, he walked over to where the small crowd was gathered around the single weight bench underneath the catwalk. He looked up to the right towards the door to shuttle two. With fifteen people on Serenity, living space had been cut a bit short, so Harvey had opted to be the one without a room. Instead, he stored all his belongings in Togan’s room, which was the empty room across from River and next to Simon. He slept on a cot in shuttle two, which he didn’t mind at all. The shuttle had its own environmental controls so he could lower the temperature to where he liked it. As for the rest of Destiny’s former crew, Etris and Rian shared the empty crew quarters by the bridge, and Spooky and Gretta slept in the spare room across from Book. That room, of course, had been a storage room before, so Harvey had moved everything from that room into an empty set of lockers next to the weapon lockers. It had originally been suggested that someone stay in Kaylee’s room for the time being, but that idea had lasted long enough for Captain Reynolds to shout it down. Personally, Harvey couldn’t blame the man. Harvey was still reeling over the loss of Elise and Hesh, but at least he had the first-hand knowledge that they were both beyond pain. Captain Reynolds had to live without knowing anything about Kaylee’s condition, and the not-knowing was obviously killing him, not to mention that his first mate was lying in the infirmary in a coma. Malcolm Reynolds hid the pain well, but all you had to do was look into the man’s eyes and you could see his tortured soul. As he passed the last bit of cargo, another thought crossed his mind. At least Hesh and Elise aren’t tortured anymore. He paused, and squeezed his eyes shut as a single tear traced its way down his cheek. For the first time since they had left Shadow, his knees felt weak, and after a second, he gave in and collapsed to the floor, and finally let the tears come. For that moment, he no longer cared about looking strong in front of Serenity’s crew, because some things simply mattered more. He had lost two of the best friends he had ever had, and he hadn’t even really thought about that since that day on Shadow. All the emotion he had been hiding and trying to keep distracted came crashing down upon him in that moment, and he could tell by a soft sobbing somewhere in front of him that he wasn’t the only one who had been keeping everything inside. A soft hand brushed his cheek, and Harvey opened his eyes to see tears streaming down Gretta’s face. He reached up and brushed a bit of blond hair out of her eyes, and then grabbed her in a hug. Together, they cried for the friends they had lost. Spooky knelt down beside them and put his hand on Harvey’s shoulder. Behind Spooky, Togan stood, blinking away tears. On the catwalk, Rian stood with Etris, and while Harvey expected the tears in Etris’ eyes, he was surprised to see that Rian was crying almost as much as her husband was. Everything that had happened on Shadow must have really chipped away at her usually impenetrable skin. Scattered around the cargo bay and on the catwalk, the core crew of Serenity stood, tears in some of their eyes as well. Even Jayne Cobb’s manly demeanor looked like it was cracking. Then something happened that Harvey had not expected. Captain Reynolds walked down the stairs and stood on the catwalk, his emotionless eyes sweeping the group. He raised his right hand and showed them all what was in it: an old milk jug, sloshing like it was full of liquid. “This is what’s left of lil’ Kaylee’s stash of engine-ale,” Mal said. “We’ve got two more days to Persephone, so I had a thought: we take what’s in this here jug, and we drink to fallen friends.” Harvey caught Inara’s face near the doorway to her shuttle, and by the shocked expression she wore, he knew that Mal had just done something the likes of which he had never offered before.

* * *

Aboard the Blue Sun Vessel Agamemnon

Kaylee sat alone in her little room, her knees pulled up to her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs. She sat on the bed, trying to make herself as small as possible, praying that maybe they wouldn’t see her next time they came. Five nights in a row now, they had taken her to Talos’ office and placed that helmet on her head. She had even asked him once what the helmet was for, in an attempt to delay the inevitable, so he had told her. The Wand that Volk used would kill her if she wasn’t wearing the helmet, but the helmet didn’t block out the extreme pain. Talos had also said something about the helmet being a transmitter as well, and that there was someone out there who they wanted to share Kaylee’s pain. Of course, Talos had said that part with a big grin on his face. Mei you muqinde xiao gou! Kaylee tried to squeeze her body, to make it smaller, but she knew that the next time the door opened, she wouldn’t be able to hide. She didn’t deserve this! And the worst part was, they weren’t even telling her why they were hurting her. All she ever saw was the face of the man who Talos talked to every day, and it was that face that was burned into her memory every time they put the helmet on her head. The door hissed, and Talos’ face appeared on the screen. Or at least, it would have if Kaylee hadn’t disassembled the screen after the first time they tortured her. She hadn’t been able to find the camera or the speakers, though. “And how are we tonight?” Talos asked through the speakers. Kaylee ignored him and tried to push herself further into the corner. “Come now, Kaylee,” Talos said. “Don’t make me get Volk to come and get you. That little Wand of his hurts a lot more if you’re not wearing the helmet.” Kaylee didn’t care. She wasn’t budging. “Kaylee,” Talos said again, this time with a trace of anger in his voice, “If you don’t come, I have some friends of mine in their own cells who haven’t seen a woman in months, and I’m sure that they would love to meet you.” Kaylee began to cry. She didn’t want to give in to Talos, but she had no doubt that he would carry out his threats. She slowly unwound her legs and stood, shakily. “Now there’s my good girl.” The door hissed open, and Kaylee slowly stumbled out into the hallway as the tears ran down her face. It wasn’t fair!

* * *

Persephone The Tremor-class transport dropped through the atmosphere like a brick, and Soul held onto the controls like the ship would fall apart if he let go. Of course, it’ll probably fall apart anyway. Two days earlier, he had begun the usually tediously long process of tracking Serenity. Unlike most other trackers, though, he had always had a bit of help. He had joined the Expendables when he was only eighteen, and that was only to get off of the rock he lived on. It was in the early days of the Alliance, back when their iron grip wasn’t as tight and talk of independence was just that: talk. After two years, he had been called in and set up as part of a core group that the Leadership called its best and brightest. Soul was the youngest one in the group. They spoke to them about an experimental bit of technology, something that, if it worked, would improve communication within the group and give them an unarguable upper hand. Soul had agreed before they even explained what it was. Blue Sun, the huge conglomerate of corporations, had developed a interface device that could be installed in a person’s brain, allowing them to interact with any computer controlled communication device, as well as mentally access the Cortex. It would give them a huge advantage in their line of work. Twenty-four men and eight women went under the knife. Thirty-two of them in all. Over the course of the twelve hours of surgery and three months of rehabilitation, nineteen men and six women died from various degrees of mental destabilization. In the end, though, the five men and two women that did survive recovered fully, with the Interfaces successfully integrated into their brains. They were called the Magnificent Seven, and they worked together better than any Expendable team had before. The Expendables were basically assassins for hire, political soldiers sent to do the bidding of whoever paid the high price to hire them. The Seven were the best, and they came with the highest price tag. Soul did his work, and left his conscience at home. That is, until the day he was sent to kill Alias Mantichorus. It was a solo assignment, one that was given such a high likeliness of success that the Leadership felt that the mission could be done with the use of only one of their soldiers. By the time the job came around, Soul had begun to slowly try to ease his way out of the Expendables. One of the rules of the Expendables was that you could not be married or have any emotional ties to anyone, since emotions cloud judgment. Unbeknownst to the Leadership, though, Soul had gotten married six years earlier, and on top of that, he had a five-year-old son. He still did his job exceptionally well, but he began to reconsider what he was doing now that he actually had a family to worry about. So when the job came up, Soul approached the Leadership and made his proposal: he would do the job, but it would be his last. They could wipe his mind and remove the implant when he returned, but he wanted out. After a brief meeting, the Leadership agreed, and Soul was assigned and sent on his way. Alias Mantichorus was described as the leader of a small “Freedom Force” that had kidnapped a Governor’s daughter several months back. The daughter had been returned in the end unharmed, but the Governor himself wanted Mantichorus to pay for the kidnapping. Soul tracked Mantichorus to a small moon orbiting one of the Alliance’s failed terraforming experiments, and to a cleverly concealed hatch in the moon’s dusty surface. Soul disabled the lock, snuck inside, and waited until he was sure that Mantichorus was alone. It would have been a simple matter of sneaking up behind the man, breaking his neck, taking him back to Soul’s ship and shoving him out the airlock once they were deep in the black. So Soul did just that. He snuck up behind Mantichorus, his hands prepared to grab the other man’s head, when Mantichorus turned to face him. In that instant, something snapped in Soul’s mind, and the wall he had put around his conscience crumbled. The man he was about to kill looked at him, not with the usual fear or hate, but with compassion, something that he had never seen directed at him before. It was simply more than he could handle, and the reality of his “career” finally settled in. So Soul made a deal with Mantichorus: if Mantichorus disappeared, and agreed to stay hidden, Soul would report to his superiors that the mission was a success and Alias Mantichorus was nothing more than an object in space. Mantichorus agreed, and Soul left. He sent a Wave to the Leadership telling of his success, but then he did something even he himself was surprised about: instead of reporting back and letting them wipe his brain and remove the implant, he ran. The only way they could track him was if he used the Interface, so after sending a coded message to his wife, he didn’t use the Interface again. The Leadership sent men to hunt him down, of course, because Blue Sun didn’t like the idea of top secret technology running free in the ‘verse. They never found him, though. It wasn’t until many years later, on board a Firefly-class ship called Sidere, when Alias Mantichorus boarded that same ship, that set on course a series of events that ultimately led to his recapture. He was tried and convicted of every job he had ever run on, and sentenced to a lifetime in Cryo-sleep. It had been so long since the implant had been installed, though, that no one thought to mention that Soul still had his. Either that, or Blue Sun figured that in Cryo, he couldn’t use the implant, and he couldn’t tell anyone about the top-secret project that had developed it. So then, twenty-five years later, he used the implant for the first time in over a quarter of a century. He wasn’t worried about it being traced, though. Mantichorus had repaid Soul for sparing his life by using a bit of his computer expertise and reprogramming Soul’s implant to be untraceable when he Interfaced onto the Cortex. The one thing the piece of lese ship did have was a fairly sophisticated listening system, specifically designed to listen for transmissions that passed through the black. So Soul Interfaced into the ship’s systems and set up a search for any transmission that contained any combination of Malcolm Reynolds, Simon Tam, River Tam, Serenity, and Firefly. He wished he would have had more to go on, but all he had was the small bit of information that Talos had given him. It was to his great surprise, then, when not even twenty minutes later, the computer identified and copied a short transmission that contained at least two of his selected keywords. He isolated the file, and then replayed the transmission. It was encrypted, but the computer had decoded part of it when it came through and picked out just enough to let him know that a miracle had just occurred. From what he could gather through the heavy accent the speaker had, he picked out the words “Firefly”, “Serenity”, and “Malcolm Reynolds”, as well as the ship’s intended destination: Persephone.

* * *

Soul stumbled out of the open hatch and dropped to his knees. There was no way in diyu that he was going to go back up in that gorram ship, so he prayed that he hadn’t traveled for two days for nothing. He looked around the Eavestown Docks, and spied a ship roster up ahead. Standing shakily to his feet, he made his way over to the screen and looked over the list of ships currently docked. Serenity wasn’t among them, but hopefully that just meant that they hadn’t arrived yet. So all he had to do now was wait.

* * *

On Board Serenity En-Route to Persephone

Mal lifted the jug to his lips and tilted it all the way back, draining the last bit of the alcohol from it and swallowing loudly. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve and looked around the table in the gallery. His crew had certainly grown, but it wasn’t the way he would have preferred for it to happen. Zoe was still in a coma, and Kaylee had been kidnapped. Etris had lost two of his crew, both of them dying to save member’s of Mal’s crew. Etris had also lost his ship, again in a sacrifice to save Serenity, and Mal still wasn’t sure why he had given that order. Of course, the big question among his crew was why Mal had ordered Simon to do everything he could to keep the girl Anne alive. Mal’s initial reason was the thought that if they could revive the girl, they could find out where Kaylee had been take to. Later, though, another reason surfaced, and it seemed that only now, when he was drunk, could he actually face that reason and examine it. When he looked at Anne, he thought of River. Try as he might, he just couldn’t shake the thought that Anne was the result of the same experimenting that Simon had rescued his sister from. Seeing River’s “hands of blue” in the form of an actual person had helped push that thought through as well. Part of Mal wanted to kill Anne for helping the man who had shot Zoe and taken Kaylee, but another part of him felt…well…he hated to admit it, but he felt compassion towards the girl. “They took down her walls, just like me. Only they built new ones for her. Simon rescued me before they built them for me.” Mal turned slowly as River spoke for the first time in nearly two weeks. He didn’t know if it was the alcohol or not, but he actually understood what she had said. He opened his mouth to say something in response, but River shushed him and placed a slender finger over his lips. “Hush now. She needs you more than you let yourself realize.” “Who…?” he asked, confused. River smiled softly. “Two hearts with one mind. So blind that they can’t see that they need each other to survive.” Mal shook his head. Gorram girl was making way too much sense now. “We can’t-” he began, but River cut him off. “Both walk paths of night. Neither can see. Together, they are the lantern for each other.” River paused and turned to stare at the open doorway. “The warrior and the waif.”

* * *

Inara heard the soft rapping on the door to her shuttle, so she quickly dabbed her eyes with a soft strip of cloth and stood up off of the floor where she had laid for the past several hours. An empty bottle of wine sat beside the bed, so she nudged it under the big blanket to hide it. She took a moment to compose herself. “Come in,” she said, her voice cracking. She expected it to be the Shepherd, or maybe Simon coming to see how she was holding up, but when the door opened, she was shocked to find Mal standing there. “I…um…I was just…” Mal stumbled over his words, and Inara could tell that he had had as much to drink as she had, if not more. “Please Captain, come in,” she said, indicating the small sofa. He stumbled through the door, and then righted himself and shut the door behind him. He stepped over to the sofa and sat down. Inara sat next to him. “Is there something I can do for you, Captain?” she asked. He turned and looked at her. “I’m not Captain right now,” he said. “I’m not here to do something ‘captainy’”. Her eyebrows wrinkled in confusion. “I’m sorry Mal,” she said, switching to his name. “I was just assuming…” “See, that’s the problem here, isn’t it?” He turned to look at her. “We keep assuming the worst when it comes to us.” “Us?” Inara asked, her pulse quickening. Mal sighed. “I’m sick and tired of always being sick and tired. We keep doin’ this gorram dance, and I don’t think I can take it anymore. I’ve got too much on my mind right now, what with Kaylee and Zoe and all…” Mal paused, and squeezed his eyes shut. To Inara’s surprise, she watched as tears began to force their way past his closed eyelids, and all her walls that she had put up collapsed. She reached out for him and pulled his head against her chest, and he sobbed into her dress. “Mal…” she said softly, as tears of her own started flowing again, just as they had been before Mal had entered her shuttle. Only now, she had someone here with her who could understand her pain and her loss. Together they cried, and occasionally spoke softly to each other, telling of the things that each of their tears were for. Mal spoke of Zoe, and of how lost he felt without her by his side. Inara talked about Hesh and his sense of nobility, and of Elise, how she had jumped in front of the Reaver’s gun and taken the bullet that would have killed Inara. They both thought about Kaylee, about how lost they both felt without her constant cheeriness. “It’s my fault, Mal,” Inara said, finally admitting to him the one thing that weighed the heaviest on her heart. Mal shook his head and took one of her hands in his, his calloused fingers caressing the back of her hand so softly. “Buqu, ‘Nara,” he said. “Ain’t your fault, and I ain’t gonna let you talk like it is.” “But if I hadn’t sent you that Wave…” her voice broke. “You were used,” he said. “Simple as that. We all were used.” “But because of that, Hesh and Elise are dead, Zoe’s in a coma, and Kaylee’s gone. How can you tell me that what I did didn’t help all this to happen?” “Because no one with a heart as big as yours could be responsible for something like this.” She blinked away her tears and looked into his eyes. “But Mal-” she began, but Mal silenced her with a finger on her lips. He then traced the curve of her cheek and the line of her chin. With his other hand, he brushed the hair away from the side of her face. Her breath quickened. No one had ever touched her like that before. Not even Atherton Wing, and he had claimed to have fallen in love with her. Mal’s touch was so much more. Mal leaned forward, and even though Inara knew what was coming, she didn’t expect the explosion of emotions that roared through her when their lips finally met. That kiss was all it took. The bed was only a few feet away from where they sat, but they never made it there.

* * *

Persephone Eavesdown Docks

“So they’re going to be landing tomorrow?” Badger turned slowly in his chair to face the man who had just entered his office. “If my cousins are tellin’ the truth, then you’ll have Reynolds tomorrow.” The other man smiled. “It’s good to hear that you’re holding up your end of the bargain,” he said. “I give you Reynolds, you don’t send that report, right?” Badger shivered involuntarily as he spoke to the man. The man smiled and turned to leave, and Badger shivered again. “I don’t like being blackmailed,” Badger said, but Jubel Early had already left the room.


Go to Chapter4.


Thursday, March 17, 2005 3:54 PM


Oh good gorram, that snivelling low-life Badger needs to be put down! Love it that Mal and Inara finally let their barriers down but I worry about Kaylee and can't wait to see what happens next. Very shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, March 17, 2005 4:32 PM


I have two comments.

1. I really want to punch the gorram hell out of Talos.

2. Mal and Inara - perfect.

Keep up the excellent work.

Friday, March 18, 2005 4:44 AM


Evil, evil stuff!..

Talos is some piece of work.. Poor Kaylee!

... And that double-crossing Badger!!!

Brilliant story! Keep up the supershiny work!


Friday, March 18, 2005 7:06 AM


I love this series, it's the perfect continuation of the its predecessor. Your characterization is perfect. Thank you for resurecting Early, I can't wait to see what he does. I also want more info on this Soul dude, do we ever get to meet his family. Also the overall tenor of the piece was heart renching, very Les Mis.


P.S. On a personal Mal/Inara fan note, this is one of my favorite hook up scenes. It makes sense that they would have to both be drunk and extremely depressed to finally connect. It's both ironic and poignant that in the end Kaylee was the one to bring them together.

Friday, March 18, 2005 8:12 AM


I'd have to agree with Pheadra on all points and add that I'm seeing some serious morning-after regret in Mal and Inara's future.

The Kaylee scene reminded me of "Empire Strikes Back"

Han: "They didn't even ask me any questions."

No one suffers in silence among this crew, do they?

Oh, and Harvey Breisch and I are kindred souls. I'm probably one of the last fountain pen/leather journal fanatics you're likely to meet.

Saturday, March 19, 2005 5:44 PM


NICE!!! I mean SHINY!!!(yeah that's it)

Monday, March 21, 2005 10:56 PM


mal and inara- finally!! i just loved tha part- took my breath away. so glad their together. don't you dare do anything to jeopardize them now. can't anybody be happy in firefly verse?
oh, and poor kaylee!! i feel so sorry for her, she probably feels like edmond dantes in the count of monte cristo- not even knowing what has happened and what she has done to deserve this. heartbreaking.
i'm glad you still talk about the destiny crew, and haven't just forgot about how they feel about the loss of their crew.
altogether a great story, can't wait for more.

no power in the verse

Wednesday, March 23, 2005 6:41 AM


Early's back... And of course, how could I argue with my cameo?
Good story Soul, but I've gotta ask - will I reappear?

Saturday, June 18, 2005 11:17 PM


I'm just wondering if Soul's Firefly Sidere happens to be our own venerable Serenity...

Keep flyin'


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