Vengeance: Ch. 5 - Not Enough
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Zoe wakes finally, and the crew is jubilant, but Simon knows more than he's letting on. Mal and Inara face the "morning after", Soul wakes up to find that he may have already been taken out of the plan, and someone has yet another suprise to be revealed...


On Board Serenity Ten Hours Out From Persephone

The silence on the ship was shattered by the pounding of Wash’s boots as he raced out of the Bridge and bounded down the hallway. He tore through the kitchen, through the far hatch, and skidded to a stop at the entrance to the engine room, nearly running into Togan, who sat on the stairs leading down into the room. The engineer looked up at him, startled. “Wo de ma!” he shouted, his eyes wide. “What’s got you in such a rush?” Wash didn’t respond. He was too busy trying to search for words. “What is it, son?” Book asked, leaning forward on the hammock, nearly losing his balance, but recovering quickly. “Zoe,” Wash managed to squeak out. Book stood quickly. “What’s wrong with Zoe?” he asked, concern etched across his face. Wash turned to look at him. “She’s awake.” He said. There was a moment of silence. Then Togan stood up and pushed Wash towards the stairs. “Get down to her, then!” he shouted. Wash nodded, dumbly. He was still in shock, and for some reason, his legs felt like jelly. Book pushed past them, jogging down the hallway towards the kitchen. “I’ll wake the Captain,” he said.

* * *

The hatch to Mal’s bunk was closed, so Book rapped on it lightly. He waited a moment, and after no response, he knocked a bit louder. “Captain?” he called out. Still no response. So he took the initiative and pushed the hatch forward. It was unlocked, and it swung open and clanged against the wall. Book peered down into the room, but from his position, he couldn’t clearly see the bed. Turning, he lowered himself into the room. When he reached the bottom rung, he turned to wake the Captain, but found that Mal wasn’t in his room. Confused, he returned to the ladder and climbed back up. “What’s going on,” Etris asked, emerging from his bunk at the end of the hall. Book turned to him. “Zoe’s awake.” Etris’ eyes widened. Then he nearly tripped over the top rung on his ladder as he scrambled in the direction of the stairs.

* * *

By the time Book made it back down to the infirmary, nearly everyone on board was gathered around the windows, and Book had to push his way through. He reached the open doorway, where Gretta stood, her hands on either side of the doorpost. “No offense Preacher,” she said, “But the only person that I’m allowing in this room right now is Wash. The last thing Zoe needs right now is to be smothered to death after just waking up.” Book nodded softly and chuckled. “Of course,” he said. Then he looked around for Mal, but still didn’t see him. “Is the Captain down here?” he asked the doctor. Gretta looked over Book’s shoulder. “He’s right behind you,” she said. Book nodded his thanks, and turned around to face Mal…only it was Etris standing there. “Gretta,” he said, turning back,” I meant Mal.” “Sorry, force of habit,” she replied. Then she shrugged. “I haven’t seen him yet.” “Do you know where he might be?” Book asked. Gretta opened her mouth to respond, but River suddenly appeared beside him. “The warrior and the waif finally had their dance, but now the music has gone out of key, and the rhythm is thrown off.” River looked up at him with mournful eyes. “Once they wake, once they see, the memory of the dance will turn sour. They can’t walk in each other’s shoes, but they can’t stay out of them.” Book looked her, confused. But the confusion only lasted a moment. River smiled up at him, nodding. “You can see, can’t you?” she said.

* * *

The soft rapping on the door woke Mal from his sleep. It was either that, or the throbbing pain that hung over from the night before. He remembered finding Kaylee’s engine alcohol, and the drowning of sorrows that ensued, but beyond that, he couldn’t remember much. He felt the soft carpet on his back, and he made the decision that he was going to stay there until the man with the hammer stopped pounding him on the head. Only the longer he lay there, the louder the pounding became, until he couldn’t take it any more. He carefully slid out from underneath Inara’s arm, and stood, his legs shaking like jelly. It took him a moment to identify the source of the sound as someone knocking on the door, but even then it took him another minute to remember what a door was. He ambled over to the door and leaned against the wall for support, pressing the lock key and disengaging it. The door slid open to reveal Book, and suddenly Mal wished that he had never gotten off of the floor. “Mornin’ Shepherd,” Mal said, his tongue feeling like sandpaper inside his mouth. Book started to reply, but his eyes drifted downward before widening and shooting to the side as the Shepherd turned away to face the cargo bay. Mal followed the Shepherd’s eyes and suddenly realized that he was standing in the doorway without a lick of clothes on him. He smiled at the image that must have been drilled into Book’s head. Just another thing he could use to torture the old man. “Isn’t this how Adam came into the world?” Mal asked, his head beginning to clear. “All naked and proud?” Book coughed, but he didn’t turn. “If you’ll recall, Captain,” Book said, “After Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even he had the good sense to cover himself up.” Score one for the Shepherd , Mal thought. “What are you doing here?” Mal asked, decidedly annoyed now. “I could ask you the same question,” Book replied. “As I recall, your bunk is by the bridge. Might I ask what you’re doing in Inara’s shuttle?” Inara’s shuttle? That was a good question. Mal turned slowly and looked into the dimly lit room, and sure enough, it was Inara’s shuttle. His eyes passed over the glittery curtains, the big bed with all the ruffles, the naked, sleeping form of Inara on the floor, the sofa, the- Inara? Naked? “Oh,” was all Mal could say as the memories of the previous night came rushing back to him. He could feel her lips on his, the touch of her soft fingers against his skin as she pulled off his shirt, the rush when she pressed her naked body against his, the hunger, the desire, and the final cry as he exploded inside her… “Um…I…” Mal couldn’t find the right words as his mind tried to process the events of the night before. He could hear a smile in Book’s voice. “No need to explain it to me,” the Shepherd said. “I just came to inform you that Zoe is awake.” Mal suddenly found that he wasn’t going to need coffee to clear his head after all. “She’s awake?” Book turned slightly and nodded. “I would suggest you get dressed first. You wouldn’t want to scare her back into a coma, would you?” “You know, Preacher,” Mal said, his arms crossed in front of him, “You’ve got a mean streak in you I’m not sure I like.” Book simply smiled as he walked down the catwalk. Mal made to step out and follow him, but then remembered that he was still naked. He stumbled back into Inara’s shuttle and began hunting for his clothes. He found his shirt on the sofa, and his boots thrown to the other side of the room. His pants, however, weren’t as easy to get to. Inara lay directly on top of them. The easiest thing would be to wake her up and retrieve his pants, but he had an uneasy feeling creeping into his stomach. He remembered everything now, but as much as he had enjoyed it, all he found himself thinking about was the Cortex screen that hung half uncovered on the other side of the shuttle. The screen that Inara used to find her clients. Was that how she viewed him? As a client? Just another man that meant nothing to her except a few credits? He looked down at her as she slept. She was beautiful, and he didn’t want to tear his eyes away from her, but he suddenly felt repulsed. What had he done? She was a high-priced whore. Nothing more. He told her that on day one. It didn’t matter what he felt in his heart, because his heart was always broken. Inara had already broken it once. Who was to say that she wouldn’t do it again? He grabbed at the legs of his pants, and with a yank, he pulled them out from under the Companion, rolling her into the bed. Inara yelped as the impact woke her up, and Mal watched as her eyes floated around the room until they finally landed on him. She opened her mouth to say something, but Mal narrowed his eyes, and she shut her mouth again. Mal pulled on his pants and his shirt, and sat on the sofa to pull on his boots. Inara said nothing, and part of Mal was grateful for that. They needed to have words, but not now. That would all come later. He stood up slowly and stared down at her. “Get dressed,” he said, hearing the harshness in his words but not really caring. “Zoe’s awake.” He turned and walked out of the room, not looking back.

* * *


Soul came to very slowly, the world outside his eyelids spinning every time he opened them, so in the end he simply kept them shut. With every booming voice, he wanted to plug his ears as well, but he found that he couldn’t move his arms. He couldn’t move his legs either. At first he was afraid that he might be paralyzed; but then he felt the rough rope on his wrists and breathed a sigh of relief, despite the fact that he was still tied down. He slowly tested the strength of his bonds, and found that whoever had tied them had given him just enough slack to prevent cutting off his circulation, but not much else. “Comfortable?” a voice asked. Soul grinned, despite himself. “You know, I did have a very comfortable sleep, but someone really needs to have a conversation with room service. I ordered breakfast almost an hour ago, and I really need coffee to start my day.” The voice came again, this time from his left. “You’re lucky Talos still has use for you, otherwise I’d kill you now. I don’t have any time for foolishness.” Soul slowly opened his eyes and found Early staring back at him. They were in what looked like an office, with a desk at the head of the room and a few sofas and chairs sporadically placed around the room. Light filtered in from the panels over Soul’s head, as well as the occasional roar of ships passing overhead. The carpet looked like it might have been white at one time, but the passage of too many boots had worn down the carpet and turned it brown. The room was otherwise empty, save for Soul and Early. “Sorry,” Soul said. “Didn’t catch your first name.” Early glared at him. “Jubel Early,” he said. “Like the General, right?” “Don’t you dare try to play friendly,” Early said. “You have your job, I have mine. That’s where our correspondence ends.” Soul looked down at the ropes that bound him to the chair. “Then why am I tied up?” Early offered him a small smile, but something in the grin made Soul’s skin crawl. “I needed to make sure that you didn’t do anything stupid. I’m here to take back River Tam once and for all.” He paused and began to pace the room. “That girl is much more trouble than I would have expected.” “I thought that was my job?” Soul asked. “I was to board Serenity and make sure that River gets delivered to Talos.” “Things have changed,” Early replied. “I’m stepping in to speed things up. You’re just here as backup in the event that I fail, which means that I won’t be needing your help.” This wasn’t how things were supposed to transpire. Not for the first time, Soul wished that he had Alias Mantichorus with him still. Maybe Mantichorus would have seen Jubel Early’s plan ahead of time, and they would have figured out a way to thwart the psychotic Expendable’s plan. But Mantichorus was gone, recaptured at the same time that Soul himself had been. Only God knew what had happened to his friend. Soul sighed “When does Serenity land?” he asked. Early lifted his eyes to the transparent panels in the ceiling. “Soon,” he said. “Soon.

* * *

On Board Serenity 9 Hours Out From Persephone

Seeing Zoe awake and talking eased the weight on Mal’s shoulder, but not by much. He had thoughts of Inara running through his brain, and the look on her face when he snapped at her was imbedded in his mind. He shook his head, trying to clear his thought, and was thankful for once when Simon called his name. “Yeah Doc?” he said, walking over to where Simon stood by the passenger dorms. Simon looked nervous. But then again, he always looked nervous. He was rubbing his hands together, and when Mal approached, Simon jerked his head backwards, indicating for Mal to follow him. They walked into Simon’s bunk, and the Doc slid the door shut. “So what’s the hush about?” Mal asked. Simon looked at him, but didn’t respond. Instead, he began to pace the room. Mal reached out a hand on Simon’s second pass and stopped him in his tracks. “Simon, what’s goin’ on here that you’re not telling me?” Simon stopped and turned to face Mal. He took a deep breath, and in that motion, Mal knew that he wasn’t going to like the news. “There’s a problem, Captain,” Simon began slowly. “Zoe’s awake, right?” Mal asked. “Then where is there a problem?” The Doc looked him right in his eyes, and something flashed across Simon’s features, something that caused Mal’s heart to leap up into his throat. “Zoe might be awake, but that’s not because she’s getting better. There was a lot of internal bleeding, and I stopped it as best I could and fixed what I could, but the damage was so extensive that…” He paused. “Unless we get her to a more sophisticated medical facility, I don’t think she’s going to make it past the next few days.” All of the voices in Mal’s head were screaming, but he couldn’t get his brain to wrap around what Simon had just said. He had already almost lost Zoe once, and now it looked to be happening again. He couldn’t lose her. There was too much about him that only Zoe understood. He wasn’t ready to be alone. “There’s nothin’ else you can do for her?” Mal asked, his tongue once again feeling like sandpaper. Shaking his head, Simon walked over and sat on the edge of his bed. “Having Gretta here is a big help, but even between the two of us, we’re just not…good enough.” Simon lowered his head into his hands at that last statement, and Mal watched as Simon broke down in front of him and started to cry. “I ain’t havin’ none of that on my boat,” Mal said, walking over to Simon and placing a hand on his shoulder. “You tried your damndest, and that’s all I ask for from my crew.” Simon raised his head slowly. “I tried, Mal,” he said, his voice quavering. Mal reached deep inside himself, trying to find that place of peace, that place of strength that his Ma had instilled in him all those years ago. “Let’s not give up just yet, dong ma?” Mal said, turning and heading for the door. “I ain’t givin’ up on any of my crew without a fight.” Nodding slowly, Simon stood up and began to follow Mal over to the door. When they reached the door, though, Simon grabbed the handle and stopped Mal from opening it. “There’s one other thing,” the Doc said. “I didn’t know how to tell Wash this, so I want to tell you first.” Mal turned his head. What else could be going on that Simon was too afraid to tell Zoe’s husband? Mal got his answer less than two seconds later. “Zoe’s pregnant.”

* * *

Etris looked up as Mal grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the infirmary. “Are you still in good standings with the Alliance?” he asked. What kind of question was that? “Why?” Etris asked in reply. Mal hated the Alliance. What was going on? “I need you to Wave the nearest Alliance ship with a top of the line medical facility, and tell them that you’ve got a wounded crewman on your ship that needs immediate medical attention.” Your ship? “What’s going on Mal?” Mal looked around and motioned for the Shepherd to come over. He repeated the request he had made to Etris, and then elaborated a bit. “Zoe’s dyin’,” he told them, ignoring the looks on their faces for a moment. “She needs more help than we can give her, but I don’t think an Alliance cruiser will respond if I’m the one askin’ for help.” He shook his head slowly and looked at Etris. “I can’t believe I’m sayin’ this. Until we’ve got Zoe back with a clean bill o’ health and are very far away from whoever responds to your Wave, Serenity is your ship, and I’m just one of your crew.” Etris opened his mouth to comment, but Mal apparently wasn’t done, so Etris stopped and continued listening. “Shepherd, I need you in case the Alliance doesn’t want to listen to Captain Kurdian here. That magical Ident card might come in handy again.” “Whatever you need, Captain,” Book said, nodding. It made sense to Etris, but he still didn’t like any of it. “Let’s do it,” he said, and the three of them made their way to the stairs and began to climb. Here comes the mighty Alliance to the rescue.

* * *

Eavesdown Docks, Persephone On Board Soul’s Tremor-class Transport

Just aft of the transport’s single crew cabin, behind a large console that Soul had not been able to determine its function, a section of the wall began to hiss and shake. White smoke wafted out from around the seams, and the entire wall slid to the side. A pair of lights hummed to life in the ceiling, illuminating the seven-foot long Cryo tube that sat in the center of the room. The various machines attached to the tube began to flash, and the lid of the Cryo tube split down the middle, the two sides separating to reveal what was underneath. It was a man, and according to the readout on the machine above his head, he was alive and perfectly healthy. Warm air began to pump into the room, and a warm saline solution was pumped into his veins. Finally, after nearly twenty minutes of that, the man stirred and slowly began to open his eyes. For the first time in a quarter of a century, Alias Mantichorus breathed on his own.


Go to Chapter 6.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:54 AM



Next chapter! Next chapter! Must read more!

Another strong piece of writing SOS!

I loved the revelation about Zoe's pregnancy. (It's a cruel twist and it'll be interesting to see how Wash deals with the news if / when he finds out.)

I also loved the part where Book discovers Mal in Inara's shuttle. :)

Really looking forward to chapter six!Keep up the Supershiny work!

- Cos.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 12:21 PM


Oh WOW Soul! Brillo pads! What can I do to bribe you into writing faster??? This is excellent and totally engrossing, I cannot wait to see what happens next. Cue spooky dramatic music. Well done and keep going, I adore this. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:37 PM


Shiny work as always Soul!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 4:20 AM


Very good. Loved it. But can't you make it less time between each chapter?? It's killing me, having to wait so long. And bring back Kaylee!!!
Keep u the good work!!!!

No Power In The 'Verse

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 5:40 AM


Whoa, lots of stuff happening on both Serenity and Persephone! This chapter in particular has been a rollercoaster from the off -- and the appearance of Alias Mantichorus -- hoo, what a way to end. Knowing past cryo incidents, though, he best remember to put some clothes on before he goes anywhere...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 8:58 AM


Great job, Soul. This was another wonderful chapter. I too enjoyed reading the scene where Book finds Mal in Inara's shuttle. At the end of that scene I really wanted to smack Mal and knock some sense into him. There is no need for him to get bitter towards Inara, but alas, this is Mal we are talking about. The man is as stubborn as a mule.

I'm definitely scared for Zoe. Is the baby still alive? Is Zoe going to live? What is going to happen when they get Zoe to the medical facility? Are they going to get her there in time? You left me with so many unanswered questions. Hence, get your booty in gear and write the next chapter so I can find out!

I am loving this story. Keep up the fabulous work! =o)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 7:32 AM


Ok so like I've been hooked since the begining. When do I get my next fix?

Saturday, June 4, 2005 6:59 AM


Very good set of series and very much looking foward to your next chapter. Hopefully it comes soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 11:36 PM


Nice bit of Mal 'portraying' Adam. Good Book stuff all around.

By now, you've got a full box of notices from a late night.

So until we find that bottom to the rabbit hole,

Good luck...

(And try to find Jayne, he's been missing the last few episodes, *wink*)

Keep flyin'


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