Vengeance: Ch. 4 - Confessions
Monday, April 4, 2005

On Persephone, Soul finds more than he bargained for. Togan makes a confession, Wash loses his faith, and Kaylee finds herself in more trouble than she ever thought possible...


Vengeance begins with Destiny __________________________________


The Eavesdown Docks was a world apart from the big cities on Persephone. Instead of the spiraling towers, standing erect and straining for the sky, you had piles of trash and stacks of cargo containers, each serving as unintentional walls, corralling in the riffraff that passed through the docks, either searching for passage or in attempt to sell their wares to those making the brief stop before continuing on the greener pastures, or at least pastures not quite as dusty. You could spend a lifetime walking through the grime-covered streets and not see everything there was to see. When the ships came in, the scenery changed, as well as the stands interspaced throughout the area. One day you could visit a stand and buy exotic dresses from the outer rim worlds, and the next day from that same stand you could indulge in something that, while it resembled some sort of steak, it would probably be better if you didn’t eat it. Most likely, you would notice that the population of stray dogs had diminished somewhat and come to the correct conclusion as to just what was being cooked. That was life at the Eavesdown Docks. From his vantage point between two precariously balanced cargo bins atop one of the many trash piles, Soul gazed out across the circus of people, not really sure what he was looking for. He had been resting when a swath of a voice floated through his head and jarred him from his sleep. He had gone for his gun, of course, but quickly realized that he was still alone, and that the cargo bin in which he had taken refuge was still silent. With the door shut, all the outside noise was reduced to a dull roar, and it was impossible to make out different voices. The only light came from two transparent panels in the ceiling. He had focused for a few minutes, trying to pick out the voice, but all he heard was the constant roar. So now he stood just in the shadows and tried to figure out where the voice had come from. His eyes passed over the crowd, pausing occasionally as he automatically sized up anyone who looked like they could be a threat to him. His gaze settled on a pairing of Feds, and he watched the two soldiers, both armed to the teeth, as they remained oblivious of the girl who was being beat to death not twenty feet behind them. As he watched, though, one of the Feds glanced over his shoulder, and seeing what was happening, he simply shook his head and said something to his partner. The two shared a private laugh. Okay, so maybe not oblivious. It seemed as if they simply felt that the situation was below the level that deemed an actual response from the men who had been assigned to keep order and protect the citizens of the Alliance. They were doing as good a job as the Alliance itself was. Soul shook his head, disgusted as he always was by the Alliance and those who held the same ideals and morals. If you lived in the core, or were from a family with high standings in the Alliance, then you were deemed worthy. If not, well, then you were considered nothing more than a bug whose proper place was under the heel of a Purplebelly. It simply made him sick. It wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. Soul sat back in the small alcove and rubbed his left temple. In the few days since he had been woken from Cryo, he had spent every spare moment Interfaced onto the Cortex, using the implant in his brain to download and assimilate details of the last twenty-five years that he had “slept” through. The turn of events that had transpired during the rise of the Alliance surprised him none, and neither did the war that erupted between those loyal to the Alliance and those who wished to remain Independent. He found himself watching the vids of the war with great interest, especially the ones that had survived the battle of Serenity Valley on Hera. According to many of the news stories, that battle had bent considered as the turning point in the war, and the surrender of the Independents not too long after that seemed to agree with that opinion. In all the vids, however, it showed the Alliance troops in all their resplendent glory raining down fire on the Browncoats, while hardly suffering a casualty themselves. It was more than obvious that the vids had been doctored to only show the Purplybellies moments of triumph, and not their shortcomings. So he did some digging, and found a few vids that were a bit more realistic in their portrayal of the battle. They of course showed the Alliance in all their glory, but they also showed the Independents pushing back the Alliance troops and gaining ground. From what he could tell, the battle had been devastating for both sides, but towards the end, it seemed like the Independents were gaining the upper hand. All they needed was that last bit of air support, and they would have taken enough strategic ground that their victory would have been all but guaranteed. But as all of the vids ended, that air support never came, allowing the Alliance to rain fire on the valley and claim victory. For a long time, all of the vids he found ended with the firebombing of the valley. He couldn’t find one that had any of the aftermath, almost as if there was a grand conspiracy to keep those images under wrap. He ended up making a few inquiries and came away with a soldier’s personal vid of Serenity Valley after the firebombing. He watched the vid at least six times, and he couldn’t tear himself away from what it showed. Even with as much death that he had seen and caused with his own hands, what he saw on the vid brought tears to his eyes, and he found himself crying. The vid was silent, as if the microphone was dead when the recording was made, but the images spoke louder than any sound could have. He saw Browncoats and Purplebellies coming together to try to help the immense number of soldiers who if they weren’t already dead, most of them were pretty ruttin’ close. The dead and wounded littered the ground like a carpet, and it was all the people that were still alive could do to keep from stepping on someone. It was horrible seeing so many soldiers literally torn apart by the brutality of the battle, and it was even worse to see the people who were trying in vain to help them. An Alliance doctor working on patching up an Independent. A pair of Browncoats transporting injured Purplebellies to a makeshift medical tent. Both sides, abandoning their differences to help each other survive. It killed him to watch the vid, but he did, again and again, until he felt like he understood at least some of what those soldiers had gone through. Soul sat in the alcove now, watching as the two Alliance Feds laughed and had a good time while not even lifting a finger to help the girl who was still being beaten right behind them. He gritted his teeth until he couldn’t take it any longer, and he grabbed the long rifle from where it lay beside him. Taking careful aim, he waited until the two men involved in the beating were both directly in his line of sight, and he squeezed the trigger. The boom was muffled somewhat by the crowd, but the effect of the bullet was obvious even from his perch. A hole appeared in the back of the first man’s head as the bullet cleanly sliced through his skull and ripped not quite as cleanly out of his forehead. The second man didn’t even have time to whisper a quick prayer before the bullet entered his left eye and made a mess of the back of his head. Soul had made careful calculations before firing, and the bullet safely dug into a trash heap behind the men, its path not intersecting with anyone other than the two intended victims. Soul backed into the shadow of the alcove before anyone could look up and see him still holding the rifle. He watched the girl who was getting beaten stand up slowly and look around, confused. Then he watched as the two Feds, with weapons drawn, placed handcuffs on the girl and arrested her. Soul shook his head, and nearly raised his rifle to end the two stupid Feds. Instead, he watched as they dragged the girl off kicking and screaming, while they left the two bodies to be cleaned up by someone else. Typical sign of the Alliance: arresting the innocent while allowing the guilty to run free. Soul reloaded the rifle and leaned forward again, resuming his scan of the crowd. “Nice shot.” Soul spun around, his rifle raised, but found himself staring back at the empty cargo container. He had heard the voice again, and this time it was perfectly clear. The problem was, it hadn’t seemed to come from anywhere. It was as if Soul had spoken the words himself. He turned back around slowly and something caught his eye across the crowd. Standing about one hundred feet away, a tall black man stood, an empty expression on his face, but his eyes boring directly into Soul. Soul jumped back, but the man’s eyes shifted and remained on him, almost as if the man could see him in the shadows. The man’s lips moved, and despite the noise of the crowd and the distance between the two of them, Soul again heard his words as clear as day. “Talos says ni haody.” Staring across the ocean of people, Soul lowered his gun. How was that possible, that he could hear the man’s voice… Soul’s eyes widened as he raised his left hand and touched the side of his head. The implant? Was it possible? From one hundred feet away, the black man nodded. So he had an implant, too. Which meant that Blue Sun must have perfected the implant for use again, and Talos must have gotten himself another group of Expendables to experiment on- Talos! Soul finally caught on to what the black man had just said. But why would Talos send someone else if he had already sent Soul? Soul didn’t get an opportunity to think of an answer to that question. There was a shuffling sound from behind him, and out of the corner of his eye he say a figure jump down from the top of the cargo container. Soul spun around, raising his rifle, but something exploded against the back of his head, and his world tilted upside down. He collapsed to the ground, and as consciousness raced away from him, he caught a last glimpse of the black man as he smiled maliciously and spoke to him across the distance. “You can call me Early,” the voice spoke in Soul’s head, only seconds before everything became black.

* * *

On Board Serenity 12 Hours Out From Persephone

“So why didn’t you drink tonight?” Togan jumped at the sound of the voice and slammed his head into the underside of the engine housing. “Gorrammit!” he yelled as he slid out from underneath the engine. Then, noticing who was standing there, he said, “sorry Shepherd.” Book smiled softly. “Its alright, Togan. Believe me, I’ve heard much worse by others on this ship.” Togan chuckled, his hand rubbing the quick forming lump on his head. “I haven’t drank in a long time,” he said softly. “It got me into trouble once before, and I don’t feel like having a repeat incident.” Nodding, Book stepped into the Engine Room and gingerly sat on Kaylee’s hammock. Togan saw him glance at the hammock and frown, his eyes softening. “She was a damn good mechanic, Book,” Togan said. Book shook his head. “Is,” he said. “What?” “She is a good mechanic. Not was .” Togan lowered his head. “I meant no offense, Book.” He could hear Book attempting to smile. “We’re all a little stressed right now,” Book said. “I just prefer to stay optimistic. I have faith that our Kaylee is still alive and we will find her.” “You gotta have faith to survive out here in the black, don’t you,” Togan stated. Book chuckled this time. “It seems that Captain Reynolds does not quite share in that line of thought.” “Yeah, so I’ve noticed,” Togan agreed. “What about your Captain?” Book asked. Togan settled down onto the raised hatchway. “Etris is a really good man. He has his own kind of faith, his own optimism. Nothing ever really seems to get him down. Not even losing Destiny, as well as Hesh and Elise.” Togan paused at that, and once again tried to fight back the tears that threatened to come running down his face. He closed his eyes and lowered his head. He felt a hand on his shoulder. “We’ve all lost someone, son,” Book said gently. Togan couldn’t take it anymore. That was why he had disappeared into the Engine Room when the others had gone off to drink away their feelings of loss. He didn’t like to show his true emotions. It had been bad enough back on Shadow when he almost lost it in front of Tark after their contact man Chang had threatened them over the marked protein bars. He didn’t like guns, he didn’t like fights, and he didn’t like risking his life. Hell, he didn’t like any part of his life out in the black. The only reason he was out in the black was because of what had happened on Ariel… “You got time for a confession, Preacher?” Togan asked, raising his head. It was time for him to get his past out into the open. The odds were high that he was going to die sooner rather than later, and he didn’t want to go to his grave with this still on his chest. “I’ve always got time,” Book said.

* * *

Wash sat in his chair on the bridge, his plastic dinosaurs forgotten for once as he stared out into the black. Usually, sitting on the Bridge at night when he was worked up about something calmed him down, but tonight was different. Tonight, he was alone again, and Zoe’s side of the bed was cold. He couldn’t sleep in the bed without her in his arms, and he couldn’t take spending yet another night in the Infirmary holding her hand, praying that she’d wake up, or at least squeeze his hand back. Even with all of the alcohol he had drank with the others, his mind was still crystal clear, almost as if his body simply wouldn’t allow him to have five minutes without Zoe running through his mind. “Wo bu neng,” he whispered to the ceiling. I can’t do it. “Have to do it,” River whispered from behind him, and for once, Wash didn’t jump at her surprise appearance. “I can’t,” he repeated, still staring at the ceiling. “Zoe makes me complete. I never realized how much that was true until now.” Silence. For a long while, neither of them spoke. River moved to the chair opposite Wash, but she didn’t say a word. The stars streaked by outside, and Wash tried to take comfort in that, in the order of the universe. It was how things had always been with him; the black just seemed to comfort him, like the universe was saying that in its infinitely complex plan, everything would work out in due time. Ever since he had scraped together all of his money and bought passage aboard a ship on Haven, just to get through the smog filled sky so he could actually see the stars. He had left his mother behind, promising that he would be back for her one day, when he had enough money to get her off of that rock and take her someplace where she could actually have a life of her own. When he finally made it back, though, the Feds had already found her and arrested her for aiding and abetting a criminal. They threw her in a maximum-security prison on Bankard with a life sentence, all for helping out the man who had forced them to move to Haven in the first place, to stay hidden from the law: Wash’s father. Despite that, Wash never hated his father. True, he had never seen Marshall Washburn in person, but through the pictures and the stories, his mother had instilled in his mind that his father was a good man, who only wanted the best for his family. Wash believed her, which made her arrest all the worse. He had no one to hate for it, no one to blame for him losing his mother, too. So he retreated to the black, took comfort in its silence. Then he met Zoe, and found that the things about the black that brought him comfort could all be found in a warrior woman. The strength, the comfort, the unflinching loyalty, and the assurance that no matter what happened, all would be right in the end. Now, his faith in the black, and in the universe itself had been shattered. Zoe wasn’t here to comfort him; no, she was dying, and there was nothing he could do to save her. He felt powerless again. He never really had a father. He had lost his mother. Now he might be losing the only woman who loved him for who he really was, overactive imagination and everything. All that he had put faith in was failing him, and he had nowhere else to turn. He felt a warm hand touch his, and River dropped something cold and small into his hand. “It doesn’t make sense, defies all logic,” River said, cryptically as usual. “Its only a symbol of a story. The Captain threw it away because he thinks that the symbol failed him, but I found it and saved it. He would be mad if he knew.” Wash looked up at River quizzically. “What are you saying?” River smiled softly. “I’m giving you faith.” She patted his hand and walked out of the bridge. Wash lowered his eyes slowly until they rested upon the object in his hand. It was a cross, a small gold cross on a chain. Faith… Wash turned quickly to try to catch River; but the hallway was empty. He looked back down at his hand. River had given him faith. Wash had never been a very religious man, but he had never completely shut out the idea that there was some higher power out there. He had even whispered a prayer or two when his flying needed the extra help to keep Serenity in the air. It had worked then. So why wouldn’t it work now? He closed his eyes and squeezed the cross in his hand. Okay God, you’ve got one chance. I have nothing else to lose. Please don’t take Zoe from me. She’s my life. The tears began to come again, but before he could give in to them, the intercom chimed, and Wash had to wipe the tears out of his eyes to find the right button. “Wash,” Simon’s voice spoke out of the speaker, “You need to get down here right now.” Oh God, no! She’s getting worse. Or she’s dead! His voice shaking, Wash hit the button to respond. “What’s wrong?” he asked, unconsciously squeezing the cross tighter. There was a pause, and Wash was about to hit the button again when Simon’s voice returned, and all of Wash’s faith came screaming back. “Wash, Zoe’s awake. And she’s asking for you.”

* * *

On Board the Blue Sun Vessel Agamemnon

Talos threw the helmet against the wall and screamed out a line of curses, and Kaylee flinched against the bonds that held her against the chair. For the fourth time in a row, all within the space of an hour, Talos and Volk had placed the helmet on her head, hooked up all of the wires and tried to use the Wand on her. Every time they began, it was like it had been before; but after a minute or two, the pain diminished, and each time, Kaylee could swear she heard River’s voice telling her that everything would be okay, that all she had to do was be strong. So Kaylee didn’t scream anymore, and apparently that was what Talos wanted to happen. So now, instead of using the helmet to cause her pain, he strode over to her and smacked her hard, jolting her senses and knocking her chair over. She fell onto her back, and her head slammed into the floor. The carpet softened the blow, but the impact still made her ears ring. She could hear Talos’ heavy breathing and the impact of his boots against the floor, and felt his rough hands grab her shoulders and pull her up. “Its River, isn’t it?” he asked with a snarl. “You’re too weak-minded to resist this on your own.” She opened her eyes slowly, but the room was still spinning. “I don’t…I don’t know,” she said, squeezing her eyes shut again. He apparently didn’t like that answer, so he slapped her again. This time, she landed on her side. She waited for his hands again, but he left her lying there. From somewhere in the room, Volk spoke. “She’s much stronger than we ever anticipated. These sessions were supposed to use Kaylee to destroy River’s mind, but apparently, River is not only resisting the pain the helmet is sending to her mind, she’s reversed the current and is trying to reduce the pain on Kaylee.” He paused. “Its intriguing.” “You don’t think I see that?” Talos screamed. “How are we supposed to even get close to River if she’s developed this much control? We might be able to get her to us, but there’s no way we’d be able to capture her, not without her knowing about it ahead of time.” “We have to confuse her,” Volk said. Kaylee heard a smack and Volk yelled out in surprise. “You told me that this would work!” Talos yelled. “You promised that you would make up for losing Anne and Ketter and failing to bring me River when you were on Shadow.” “Talos, I-” Another smack , and Kaylee forced her eyes open as Volk stumbled into her field of view. Blood was dripping from his lip, and he tried to wipe it away with one of his blue-gloved hands. Then Talos appeared, his hand disappearing into his jacket and re-emerging with a wicked-looking gun in his grasp. “I’ve given you too many chances,” he snarled. “Ketter was a better Operative than you, but River Tam killed him. Now I’m left with your sorry pigu, and as it turns out, without Ketter, you’re pretty much worthless without him calling the shots. I think I’m pretty much done with my use for you.” He raised the gun. “Talos, wait!” Volk cried, his hands held out in front of him; but that was all he got to say. Kaylee watched with a sort of grim satisfaction as Talos pulled the trigger once, twice, three times. Volk’s body jerked as the bullets tore into his chest, blood slapping against the wall and the carpet. Yet still he stood, staring back at Talos with a look of shock. He opened his mouth to say something, but all that came out was a dribble of blood. Talos raised the gun a foot higher, and pulled the trigger one final time, wiping the shock off of Volk’s face, as well as most of his distinguishable features. His body collapsed to the floor, and Kaylee could feel the impact through the floor plates. For a moment, she stared at Volk’s bloody corpse, and felt closure, at least in the knowledge that he couldn’t hurt her anymore. But then Talos turned and raised the gun in her direction, and she felt all the blood drain from her face as he spoke, his words dripping with venom. “Now we do things my way.”


Go to Chapter 5.


Monday, April 4, 2005 10:17 AM


Oh good gorram, poor Kaylee! Hurry River, time to bring the cavalry in fast and hard. Talos needs sorting out and that bit with Early in it was downright creepifying. Very good myth, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, April 4, 2005 10:37 AM


It's not nice to leave me in such suspense!!!! I have so many unanswered questions!!!! Is Kaylee going to be okay? What the heck is Early going to do? Can River save the day? Well someone give Talos a well deserved kick in the ass?

*takes a deep breath, calms down*

This chapter is another wonderful peice in your story. I can't wait to read the next. Great job, SOS!

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 5:16 AM


*Sharp intake of breath!*


*Slowly exhails*

Okay, I'm good now... (I think..) Wow... I'm not sure where to start. That was strong stuff.. VERY good, strong stuff!

I loved the moments between River and Wash and Book and Togan. They were both nicely written and I could imagine them vividly in my mind. I especially loved the part where River tries to restore Wash's faith by giving him Mal's cross.

The 'sharpshooter' moment at the beginning was well written. Jubal Early's appearance was creepyfying too!

Also, Poor Kaylee!!! I agree w/ AmDoBell. The calvary need to arrive ASAP! Talos is completely off his axle!!

Keep up the Supershiny work SOS! I'm loving this and can't wait to read the next installment!

- Cos.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 6:11 PM


I like the way you disposed of the blue hands and bringing Early into the story as an expendable is uber cool!

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 10:24 PM


very good, very intriguing and poor Kaylee. i feel so sorry for her.

no power in the verse

Friday, April 8, 2005 8:48 AM


“She was a damn good mechanic, Book,” Togan said.
Book shook his head. “Is,” he said.
“She is a good mechanic. Not was.”

Damn STRAIGHT! Nicely done!

I'll write faster if you will!

Saturday, June 18, 2005 11:26 PM


Take it to heart that your writing is improving sir.

Nicely done,

Keep flyin'


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