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COSMICFUGITIVE

Schism part 5: DELIVERANCE
Friday, April 22, 2005

It's time to face your fears...


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3105    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

This is the final instalment of The Schism series. It's also the hardest story I've ever written.

A special thanks goes to Channain for providing much needed beta support. THANK YOU!

A huge thanks goes to AmDoBell, Guildsister, Phaedra and SoulOfSerenity for supporting this crazy story arc from day one. I wouldn't be writing this story without your kind words and support. Hopefully all your questions have been answered!

In the immortal words of Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell: "Finish it!" :)

DISCLAIMER: The Firefly characters and locations featured in this work of fiction are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Inc and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. I'm just borrowing them for a while. (No breach of copyright intended.)

The following work of fiction contains scenes of graphic horror, violence and scenes of an adult nature that some Browncoats may find offensive.

This story is rated R.

~ Prelude ~

PERSPECTIVE: Jayne

Jayne Cobb slowly crouched into position beside a large cargo container. He propped the barrel of his gun, Vera, against the lid and aimed it towards the cargo bay door. He’d been waiting for what seemed like an eternity. “Gorram it! What’s takin‘ them so long?!” he hissed. Mal popped his head up from behind a barrel across the room. “Give them time.” he called. “Reavers know what they’re doing. They’ll want to take it easy. Check their surroundings. They’ll send someone to scout the area first." “Makes more sense just stormin’ the place, if you ask me.” Jayne grumbled. “Well, I ain’t.” Mal replied. “Remember, we shoot on sight. Don’t want any of these things reaching Inara’s shuttle.” Jayne nodded and moved back into place. Seconds passed into minutes. Minutes passed into hours. Jayne snorted. The captain was right. Gorramn Reavers were taking their time. Mid-bulk transport filled with nine, tasty, human sized snacks on board and they were nowhere in sight. “Dumb-ass Reavers…” he muttered Suddenly the airlock handle twisted open. Jayne’s attention switched to the door. It was a Reaver. He glanced over to the captain; a glint of excitement filled his eyes. Mal held out a hand, signalling to hold fire. Jayne frowned. How much rutting longer did they have to wait? The creature inched forward, sniffing the air. Jayne grinned, playfully re-adjusting his aim. He had a perfect shot. All the major body parts were ripe for the picking. Suddenly gunfire erupted from behind. The Reaver screeched and fled towards Inara’s shuttle. Jayne’s eyes lit up. What the di yu was going on? He turned, spotting Mal, Zoe and Wash standing with guns raised. The gunfire ceased and the Reaver’s carcass slumped onto the floor. Fresh blood trickled through the grating. “Damn it Mal!” he snapped. Mal, Zoe and Wash came into view, guns lowered by their side. Mal stepped forward with a satisfied grin on his face. “There.” he beamed. “That wasn’t too bad now, was it?” Jayne glared angrily at the captain. He had never heard him give the order. He could have easily taken the shot. Mal frowned. “What?” Zoe placed a disarming hand on Jayne’s shoulder. She looked firmly into his eyes. He snorted and quietly walked away. “Did I do something wrong?” Mal asked innocently. Zoe gave the captain a knowing look and then joined the mercenary. Mal smiled, bemused by their behaviour. “What?” he asked. They cautiously made their way out, guns pointing in all directions. The Reaver lay face down in the middle of the floor. Mal stepped forward, gently kicking it onto its side. He paused, catching sight of the creature’s appearance. It looked like a young man, mid to late 20’s, with dirty blonde hair. A chill ran down Mal’s spine. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was Bester. “Stupid son of a bitch…” Jayne twitched nervously. He didn’t like it when Mal came out with stuff like that. It made him all manner of jumpy. “What we find? ” he asked. “What’s wrong?” Wash said, growing concerned. Zoe turned. “It’s Bester.” she explained. Wash reluctantly raised a hand. “Uh, I’m sorry, I seem to be missing something here. Who’s Bester?” “The mechanic we hired before we took on Kaylee.” Zoe replied. “Oh right! How could I forget him?” Wash beamed. “I’m never any good with names. Blonde hair, built like a powerhouse, tattoo on his face right? Nice guy - except for the turning into a Reaver part. How’d that happen?” Mal dropped down onto one knee, taking a closer look. “Probably got hit by Reavers when we left for Paquin.” he assumed Jayne began to sweat nervously. “I say we just dump the body and get.” “No.” Mal said, rising to his feet. “I’m sure we can find some use for him.” “Capt’n?” Zoe’s voice cracked with concern. Mal stood quietly for a moment, Bester’s face looked calm and peaceful. A stark contrast to the flesh-eating monster that he had became. Mal wearily drew a hand across his face and sighed. “We could, uh, use the body as bait.” Zoe’s eyes narrowed disapprovingly. “I don’t like it. It sounds like a bad idea.” Mal raised his eyebrows. It had been a long, damn while since Zoe had disagreed with any of his plans. “A bad idea?” he grinned, the words almost turned to laughter. “How?” “No offence sir, but aren’t we trying to keep these things off the ship?” she noted. “I dunno.” Jayne grinned. “Sounds kinda fun.” Zoe angrily nudged Jayne in the ribs. Mal stood quietly, staring down at the body. “Sir?” Zoe inquired. “None taken." Mal mumbled. He looked back at Zoe, now standing with a confused look on her face. “Offence, I mean. Besides, it don’t matter whether it’s a bad idea or not Zoe. It’s the only one we’ve got right now. See no harm in giving it a shot.” Zoe nodded half-heartedly. The captain, despite his flippant attitude, had a point. Jayne stepped closer and peered down at the blonde mechanic. He realised that he had never seen a Reaver before. He knew roughly what they looked like, heard tales from the bedtime stories his mother had once told him, but never had the opportunity to look one in the face. He grimaced at the sight of rotting human flesh sewn across Bester’s cheeks. “Ugly lookin’ piece of gou shi ain’t he?” he snorted. Suddenly the floor began to shake. Mal and Zoe looked at each other, as a low growl reverberated throughout the ship. Jayne’s eyes widened. “I didn’t mean it!” he whined. “’Course you did.” Mal quipped, reaching for the body. “Come on. We don’t have much time.” Jayne looked worriedly around the cargo bay. The Reaver’s snarls grew louder. It had begun…

~ 1 ~

10 HOURS EARLIER...

PERSPECTIVE: Simon and River

“The words come out but they make no sound… Why won’t they listen? It’s cold now. So cold. It’s okay; I know what to do… It’s okay.”

Simon Tam sat quietly at the foot of River’s bunk. Fear and confusion chipped away at his conscience. He looked worriedly at his sister as she rocked back and forth by his side. The proximity alarm blared throughout the ship. An indication that trouble was now on their tail. The words ran through his mind once more. They didn’t make sense. How could it possibly be okay? Suddenly, River scrambled to her feet and exited the room. “Wait!” Simon cried. River poked her head around the door “Hurry!” Simon frowned, disturbed by the tone of her voice. River smiled, then slowly drifted out of sight. “River!” Simon quickly made for the door. Anxiety built up inside. He called her name once more but she wouldn’t listen. He regularly found himself wandering the decks of Serenity - an activity that failed to impress the captain most days. This time it was different. Something had gone wrong. “River, stop!” River froze at top of the stairs leading off the infirmary. She stood quietly, childlike, as she waited for her brother. Simon stepped forward and gently placed his hands onto River’s shoulders. He looked worriedly into her eyes. “Why did you run away?” “Hungry.” River muttered. Simon smiled. “I’m sure there’s some-“ ”I’m not hungry.” she interrupted. Her eyes slowly lingered towards the ceiling. “They are.” Simon sighed, perplexed by River’s meaning. “Who is? River, you’re not making any sense.” “Shhh.” River placed a finger over her brother’s lips. She smiled as her focus drifted between two states of mind. Simon let out another sigh. He was beginning to lose grip of his bedside manner - something that he’d learned to control so well as part of his medical training. He held out his hand. “I really think you should lie down.” River looked warily at her brother. “No time for being sick...” she rambled. ”Yes!” Simon agreed reluctantly. ”I need… I need to make you feel better.” River’s hand inched closer, then paused. She frowned, cursing herself for having the inability to carry out such an easy task. Reluctantly, she took a hold of Simon’s hand and made her way back down the stairs. A faint smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she muttered. “Reavers.” Simon stopped. Their name still made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. “Shenme?” “Mal thinks he’ll save the ship. He’s wrong.” River declared. Simon drew a hand through his hair. “I’m. I’m sure Mal knows what he’s doing.” he said firmly, although the words carried a hint of confusion. “No. He doesn’t.” River shrugged her brother’s hands away. “Too proud.” ”You need to rest.” Simon said anxiously. River’s head snapped towards the ceiling. The darkness called out and she could now see its face - a sneering terror intent on pain. She had already seen death unfold once. Premonitions of a blood stained future were only a heartbeat away. There was still time to change all that. River let go of her brother’s hand and made her way back up the stairs. “I need to fix what’s broken!” she cried.

***

~ 2 ~

PERSPECTIVE: Mal and Wash

It didn’t take long for Mal to respond. The sight of a Trans-U ship bearing down on Serenity’s cockpit had sent a clear message to its Captain. They had to run. Breaking the news to the rest of the crew was the least of his problems. They had some ‘experience’ with Reavers. A couple of minor dealings out on the Rim and they lived to tell the tale. “Wash, get us out of here. Ma shong.” Mal ordered. Wash flicked three switches above his head and took a firm grip of the steering wheel. “With pleasure.” Mal unclipped the intercom and held it to his mouth. He paused, gathering his thoughts. “No!” came a voice. Mal turned, spotting River in the doorway. Simon came into view, struggling to catch his breath. “I couldn’t stop her.” he wheezed. “Although, I believe River-" “We don’t have time for this doctor.” Mal said bluntly. “But Captain-" Simon gasped. Mal pointed to the cockpit window. “There’s all manner of go-se heading this way. I don’t much care for-" “It’s Reavers isn’t it?” Simon said urgently. Mal frowned, perplexed by Simon’s accuracy. He looked curiously at the young doctor. “Alright, you have my attention.” “I believe River can help us.“ Simon explained. An amused smile crossed Mal’s face. “And how exactly can she do that?” “I’m not entirely sure, but I believe that she knows something.” Simon explained. “Of course.” Mal replied “She’s a lot smarter than all of us doctor – including yourself I might add.” Simon let out a frustrated sigh. “That’s not what I meant. I believe that she knows something that’s about to happen – something that could save us.” “That’s a whole lot of something’s there doctor,” Mal noted. “Not hearing too much of ‘anything’ that could help us right now.” Simon drew a hand across his face. “I understand River hasn’t been feeling herself lately but-” “When ain’t she?” Mal interrupted. The conversation was beginning to grate on him. “Remember the time she attacked Jayne with a knife? Or when she took out those guards without even looking? You said it yourself once. The girl ain’t right. She may appear normal but on occasion she’s a more than a little unstable.” River looked on innocently, absorbing the captain’s every word. Simon glanced nervously at his sister and then back to the captain. "I didn’t quite phrase it like that.” he said defensively. “It don’t matter how you phrased it.” Mal replied. ”What matters is the safety of those on my boat. When it comes to Reavers, there ain’t no one in the ‘verse that can help us - not even your sister. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to inform the rest of my crew.” Suddenly River stepped towards the helm, and stared calmly out the window.

Out in the black, shadows consume me Pain grows, like fading twilight.

Curtains fall on this, lowly theatre of life, Madness unleashed brings forth the dogs of Hell.

I feel their hunger, hear their cries - Suppressed anger, held deep inside.

Scattered voices riddle my thoughts Pushing, wriggling inside my brain!

They don’t belong here, These voices in my head!

Can’t find a way to make it stop!

They don’t know the torment I’ve seen The pain I’ve endured.

Why won’t they listen? Why don’t they see?!

Everybody will die

Mal raised his eyebrows. “Now, see that’s disturbing. Does she always do that when there’s danger?” Simon frowned, unimpressed by Mal’s humour. Suddenly Wash cried out as River started taking over the controls. Simon ran forward and took a hold of her arm. “River, what are you doing?!” he exclaimed. River struggled, unwilling to move away. “They come while you’re sleeping…. Take away your soul…They pull and they scratch and they claw until there’s nothing left!” Wash sat helplessly as the pair fought at the helm. “Uh, Mal?!” he called. “I need some assistance here!” Mal marched towards the siblings and forced them apart. “Gou zao de! That’s enough!” he snapped. “Ain’t nobody gonna die!” Simon collected himself. River stood unhappily, sleeves hanging down over her fingers. Mal and Simon watched in disbelief as she made for the helm again. River screamed and sobbed as Mal grabbed her around the waist. Her arms and legs flailed wildly as she tried to escape. She couldn’t move. The captain’s grip was overpowering. Finally, Mal released her and she fell to the floor. River sat up, hugging her knees into her chest. Her long hair now covered her face. She sobbed and punched the floor in frustration. There wasn’t a gorramn thing she could do. “Not rational!” she cried. “I’m sorry Captain I didn’t… I mean, I don’t know what came over-" Simon stuttered. “I don’t want to hear it.” Mal interrupted. “I suggest you take your sister and lock yourselves in your quarters until things blow over. Don’t want her running around the ship while we’re still in the air. Dong ma?” he said emphatically. “Of course.” Simon replied. “Good." Mal replied. River stuck her tongue out at Simon. He frowned. He couldn’t understand River’s behaviour. Mal turned to activate the comm. “This is the Captain. There’s no easy way of saying this, but we’ve got incoming. Reavers to be exact. Don’t have much choice out here so we’re gonna make a run for it. We’ve been here before. If everyone stays calm and in their quarters we’ll get through this. Captain out.” Simon looked down at his sister and pulled her to her feet. River frowned, slapping his hands away. She stared at the captain for a few moments. Scenes from a troubled future raced through her mind. She blinked slowly, then turned to face her brother. “Jien tah da guai.” she muttered. Simon quickly ushered River off the bridge. He hoped the captain had been out of earshot of River’s last comment. He didn’t want a repeat of what had just happened. It was clear that she knew things and that worried him - more so than the Reavers heading towards the ship Captain’s decision was final. He respected that, although there wasn’t a gorramn thing he could do to change it.

*** ~ 3 ~

PERSPECTIVE: Inara

Inara sat up in bed with a blanket wrapped around her waist. She had heard Mal’s announcement over the Comm and grew concerned. They were light years away from the nearest core planet, mining colony or border moon. Stumbling into the path of an Alliance cruiser seemed more than welcoming right now. Inara slid her legs off the bed and stood up. Her eyes lingered towards a tiny box by her side. She ran her fingers across the floral design adorning the lid and sighed. Inara had contemplated using the tiny syringe held inside once - a quick and easy solution if anything untoward happened on the ship. Inara let out another sigh and drew her hand away. The sight of needles didn’t bother her as much as the thought of injecting herself with its content. Inara looked around the shuttle. In a matter of hours, all this would be gone. She opened a drawer and took out some candles. She realised that she would be here for a while. Inara sat down on the floor, placed a black, cone shaped candle in front of her and carefully lit the end. She had learned many things during her time at the Academy - spent months studying ancient Chinese rituals from the Earth-that-was, mostly to encourage a harmonious or sexual environment. She never thought that she would have to use it to protect herself or those on board the ship. Inara closed her eyes and muttered under her breath. Hopefully, it would all be over soon.

***

PERSPECTIVE: Mal and Wash

Wash sat focused at the helm. They had been running for the best part of an hour. Mal stood behind the pilot’s seat and placed a hand on Wash’s shoulder. “How we doing?” Wash shook his head. “Not good. They’re still picking up strong on our radar. We’re already at full burn and they’re gaining on us pretty fast. I’m not sure how much more of this we can take.” “Long as it takes.” Mal said, turning to leave the bridge. “I won’t allow this ship or its crew to be taken by Reavers.” Suddenly the ship lurched violently, sparks crackled and jumped around the tiny cockpit. Wash let out a startled yell. “What was that?!” Mal frowned, checking the controls. “I’m not rightly sure.” The cockpit began to rattle. The strong smell of burning wires and plastic lingered in the air. Wash gestured to the billion or so stars sliding into perspective outside the window. “Uh… Captain? We appear to be slowing down.” Wash informed. “No need for the play by play Wash.” Mal replied. He pressed the comm. There was nothing. He flicked some more switches. It was dead. “They must have fired the magnetic grappler.” he assumed. Wash swivelled in his chair. “Can they do that? I mean, they’re not within range, are they?” he asked worriedly. “It would seem to be the case.” Mal said bluntly. “Now what?” Wash cried. “Not rightly sure at this juncture.” Mal replied. Wash stared quietly out the cockpit window. The ocean of stars that spread out before him seemed almost welcoming. The Reaver ship loomed closer. The unfriendly flicker of the Trans-U’s magnetic grappler came into view Wash looked worriedly at the Captain. “This is it.” he declared.

***

~ 4 ~

PERSPECTIVE: River and Simon

Serenity’s navigation failed as the Trans-U’s grip tightened around its prey. The Firefly class transport shuddered as it was slowly drawn in. River screamed. Simon had grown accustomed to his sister’s outbursts. He had never heard River scream like this before. “Shh…Mei mei. It’s alright.” Simon whispered. “Can’t stay here!” River cried. Simon sighed. ”The captain is doing his best to protect everyone on the ship.” “Can’t stay on the ship!” River explained. River made for the doorway once more. Simon reached out, unable to stop her. “The captain told us to stay in our quarters. I don’t think he’d like it if he found you wandering.” Simon hissed. “He won’t.” River replied. Simon let out a frustrated sigh. River had swiftly moved out of sight before he could stop her. It was becoming a tiresome habit. Simon followed his sister until he walked out into the cargo bay. Simon watched as River made her way up to Inara’s shuttle. “River, come back!” Simon hissed. River ignored her brother’s pleas and continued to climb the stairs. Simon let out a sigh and followed suite. River burst into Inara’s shuttle, startling the companion. “What’s the matter bao bei?” Inara asked. River wrapped her arms around the companion and started to cry. Inara frowned, confused by the young girl’s behaviour. Eventually Simon came into view. Inara looked worriedly at the young doctor. “Is everything alright?” “I tried to stop her.” he gasped. “Actually, it’s becoming quite a habit.” “They come out of the shadows… Scratching…. forcing their way in…Won’t leave until you let them!” River cried. Inara frowned. She could sense that River was frightened of something far beyond her comprehension. “She won’t stay in her quarters. I’ve tried.” Simon explained. “You can stay here, both of you." Inara declared, stroking River’s hair. “What about the Captain?” Simon asked. “I mean, didn’t he tell us to stay in our quarters?” River’s head whipped round towards her brother. “I’m not going back there!” she snapped. “I’m sure he won’t mind.” Inara said calmly. “'He won’t mind’ what exactly?” came a voice. Inara turned to face the shuttle door. It was Mal. She rose to her feet, sensing the anxiety in his voice. “I felt a shudder. What’s happening?” she asked. “Change of plan.” Mal declared. Inara’s eyes widened. “Change of plan?! Mal, what’s going on?” “No time to explain.” Mal said bluntly. His gaze wandered to River cradled in Inara’s arms. “What are they doing here?” Mal said sternly. “I thought I told them to stay in their quarters?” “You did-” Simon replied. “It’s alright." Inara interrupted. “I wanted them to stay.” “Alright then." Mal said “As long as River doesn’t start pushing buttons or getting everyone killed, that’s fine by me. Now, onto the reason I’m here. I need you to prepare the shuttle.” Inara stepped forward. “What about the rest of the crew? I’m not leaving the ship.” Mal let out a frustrated sigh. “I don’t have time for this. Do as I say and we might get out of this alive.” Mal abruptly walked out of Inara’s shuttle. The meeting with Inara had left an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach. Not the usual butterflies that he felt whenever he was near the companion, but a sick, numb, feeling of anxiety. He rubbed the spot between his eyes and sighed. His attention turned to a figure standing at the other end of the balcony. It was Jayne. Mal watched as the merc tried to open the airlock leading to shuttle two. Mal stepped forward “What the di yu are you doing?” he called. Jayne nervously swung round. “Nothing, cap’n." Mal sighed. “It don’t look like nothing. Round up your weapons and tell everyone to meet in Inara’s shuttle straight away.” Jayne nodded and rushed off. Mal let out another frustrated sigh and leaned against the shuttle door. It was time to face his fears…

***

~ 5 ~

PERSPECTIVE: Mal

The crew gathered in Inara’s shuttle. Feelings of anxiety were etched on their faces as they waited for Mal to break the news. “I think you all know why I’ve brought you here.” Mal began. “A Reaver attack will be upon us soon. We’re dead in the water and that don’t give us many options out here.” Kaylee frowned. “What’s gonna happen?” “I plan on mounting a defence.” Mal explained. “Anyone capable of using a firearm can join me in the cargo bay with Zoe and Jayne. Everyone else can stay here. Shepherd can board up the door once we’ve left. I believe it’s the safest option we have. Now, we don’t have much time and I need volunteers. Who’s willing to join us?” Wash stepped forward to join his wife. “Good. Anyone else?” Mal asked. There was nothing but silence. Mal looked around the rest of the group. He could see the apprehension in their eyes. It was clear that they wanted to stay on board the shuttle. Suddenly, River stepped forward. Simon rushed to her side and pulled her back into the group. “No River, you can’t.” “She stays here.” Mal demanded. River began to cry. “Don’t want to die!” Simon comforted his sister. “Shhh… River, it’s okay. Shh… You’ll be safer in here.” he assured. Mal let out a frustrated sigh “Keep an eye on her, will you?” Simon bowed his head nervously. “Yes, of course.” “Okay, Zoe, Jayne and Wash, you’re with me.” Mal declared. “Shepherd, make sure that door is sealed once we’ve left. Don’t want anything coming in or out of here. I want that door solid.” “I understand.” Book replied. Mal closed the shuttle door and started loading a shotgun. He snapped the chamber back into place and handed it to Wash. “Now, I shouldn’t have to tell you how to use this. I believe you have some experience of handling weapons?” Wash nodded. “That I do captain.” “Good.” Mal replied. “You might want to handle the smaller pieces though. They pack a smaller punch but they’re efficient none the less. Don’t want you flying around when things go down.” “I’m used to being in the air!” Wash quipped. “I need everyone to work as a team." Mal stressed. “No one tries to be the hero. Best thing we do now is get into position and wait for them to arrive. When they do, we stand our ground. Dong Ma?” Zoe nodded. “Yes, Sir.” “Loud and clear cap’n.” Jayne replied. Mal swung his shotgun over his shoulder. “Well then, let’s go kill us some Reavers.”

***

PERSPECTIVE: Inara

It had been 4 hours since they had heard any word from the other side. An eerie calm filled the shuttle. Inara sat on the floor writing Chinese pinyin on a sheet of parchment. River sat alongside her brother, engrossed in the companion’s artistry. Shepherd sat quietly in the corner reading his bible. Suddenly a couple of gunshots rang out, forcing him to look up for a moment. “Looks like it’s started.” Book remarked. Another couple of rounds erupted around the cargo bay - each one louder than the last. Simon ran a hand nervously across his face. “That sounded quite close.” “…That’s gonna leave a stain…” River muttered. Inara chuckled, amused by River’s comment. Eventually, Simon and Book couldn’t contain their amusement and joined the companion. Despite the unseen horror that unfolded behind the shuttle door, it seemed to help ease the tension in the air a bit. River frowned, confused by their behaviour. It didn’t make any sense.

***

~ 6 ~

PERSPECTIVE: Mal, Zoe, Wash and Jayne

It didn’t take Mal and Jayne long to move Bester’s body. Propping it against the side of a cargo container was the best place if any. The Reaver’s snarls reverberated around the ship once more. “What the hell is that?” Wash cried. Zoe placed a reassuring hand on her husband’s shoulder. “It’s alright.” Wash smiled and grasped his wife’s hand affectionately in return. “Looks like they ain’t waitin'. That sounded pretty near.” Jayne noted. Mal looked around the group. “Are we set?” “Ready as we’ll ever be cap’n.” Jayne commented. Wash and Zoe nodded in agreement. “Good.” Mal replied. “Zoe, I need you to take position on the catwalk. Jayne, don’t let the Reavers get anywhere near Inara’s shuttle - best taking point on the stairs. Wash, I need you to provide some cover fire on the floor. I’ll be near the doorway.” “Uh, Captain?” Wash asked. “What happens if we run out of ammo?” ”Hopefully it won’t come to that.” Mal remarked. A loud bang reverberated around the ship. Mal’s eyes glanced towards the cargo bay door. “Hurry! I need everyone in position now.” he urged. Zoe, Wash and Jayne rushed into place. Mal crouched behind a cargo container and quickly loaded his weapon. “Remember, we shoot on sight!” he called. Suddenly the bay door burst open and a cloud of smoke filled the air. As the smoke cleared, a guttural roar came from the other side. “That sounded too close.” Mal muttered. He kept a keen eye trained on the doorway. There was nothing but silence. The putrid smell of rotting flesh gradually lingered into the air. Mal kept an eye trained on the doorway. Eventually, the first wave of Reavers came into sight. Mal observed the first group as they entered the cargo bay. From his position, they looked like ordinary people - farmers and merchants that made a living out on the Rim. Decent folk who’s lives were snatched away by cannibalistic monsters. Mal raised his gun and took aim at the crowd. He gently squeezed the trigger until he saw a group of children down the end of the barrel. “Sir?!” Zoe cried. Mal swallowed and lowered his aim. He had seen many things during the war. Young soldiers with explosives strapped to their bodies, grown men calmly walking into the line of enemy fire. Nothing could have prepared him for this. “Sir!?” Mal shook himself, oblivious to the chaos unfolding around him. “Open fire!” Mal yelled. On Mal’s order, Zoe, Wash and Jayne opened fire. Gunshots mingled with the sound of agonising screams. The Reavers persisted, surging forward. “Gorramn it! How many of them are there?!” Jayne yelled. “I’d rather not find out. Keep firing!” Wash cried. Jayne smiled, amused by the little man’s enthusiasm. He raised his weapon and unloaded a full magazine in the Reavers’ direction. He grinned as he pumped their bodies full of lead. The creatures lurched back and forth helplessly, arms flailing in all directions. Fresh blood sprayed from ruptured body parts. Jayne chuckled. He had never had this much fun. Hell, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had this much fun – Reavers or no Reavers - and that were saying something. Suddenly a sharp feeling pierced his stomach. Mal heard the sound of Jayne’s gun misfire and watched as the merc hit the ground. “Jayne!” Mal watched in horror as Jayne was suddenly dragged to the floor. A single Reaver swarmed around his body, clawing and ripping at his clothes. Mal could hear the pitiful click of Vera running dry as Jayne fought for his life. A shiver ran down his neck as he heard the mercenary call out his name. Mal clambered to his feet. He’d be damned if he would let some Huh choo- sheng tza - jiao duh tzang-huo murder his crew. Mal took aim and pulled the trigger. The Reaver let out a grunt as the bullet penetrated its skull. Jayne let out a muffled cry as the Reaver slumped across his chest. He looked disapprovingly at the Captain. “Was that ruttin’ necessary?! I nearly had him!” Mal raised his eyebrows apologetically. “You okay?” Jayne grunted and clambered to his feet. Between the din of gunfire, Wash could be heard whooping with excitement, a stark contrast to the level of bloodshed that surrounded him. “Ha! You missed me you ching-wah tsao de liou mahng!” he mocked. Mal turned, trying to locate the plucky pilot. “Wash, could you keep it down? Don’t want to give them the impression that we’re winning.” he said sarcastically. “I thought we were cap’n?” Jayne remarked. Mal smiled and resumed fire. Zoe stood on the catwalk taking pot shots at the Reavers as they came through the other side. She glanced at her husband below. She watched as he struggled to reload his weapon. Suddenly a couple of Reavers closed in on Wash’s position. Zoe glanced over towards Mal. He edged backwards, unable to hold back the advances of a pack of Reavers. “Wash! Look out!” she cried. Wash looked up at his wife, oblivious to the impending attack. Zoe watched helplessly as the Reavers lunged at her husband. By the time she raised her weapon, the Reavers had surrounded him. She couldn’t risk taking the shot without killing her husband. Zoe turned away. This was a sight that she couldn’t bear to see, despite her military training. Zoe cursed under her breath. Everything was beginning to fall apart. There wasn’t a gorramn thing that she could do about it.

***

~7 ~

PERSPECTIVE: Simon

The decks were now a graveyard of disembodied parts - rotting carcasses floating in a shallow river of blood. The Firefly transport had been transformed into its very own Reaver sanctuary. A voice rang out through the dark. “This way!” It was Simon. He had been running around the ship like a frightened mouse trapped in the maze and unable to find the cheese. “We can’t leave her behind!” came a voice. Kaylee stumbled into view. Her face was tight with distress, a stark contrast from her usual cheerful manner. “We have to leave, right now!” Simon urged. He took a firm grip of Kaylee’s hand and made his way towards the cargo bay. Their footsteps squelched across the catwalk. Blood and entrails covered every inch of the floor - a freshly made slaughterhouse of the ‘men-gone-mad’ variety. They quickly moved down the stairs and out of sight. Simon pulled Kaylee alongside him and slipped the shotgun off his shoulder. The Reaver’s hungry snarls grew closer. Simon tore the left sleeve off his shirt and ripped it in half. Kaylee stared in disbelief as the young doctor wrapped the bloodied sleeve around his forehead. “What are you doing?!” Kaylee hissed. “I’m not ready.” he explained. The Reaver’s snarls grew louder. Simon grabbed his shotgun and reloaded the chamber. Kaylee’s eyes widened “Hurry!” The Reaver finally came into view. It moved slowly across the catwalk, head cocked towards the ceiling. Simon struggled to load the shotgun. He had experience with the most advanced medical equipment back on Osiris, yet handling basic firearms seemed more than a little problematic. The Reaver inched closer, seeking out its prey. Kaylee could now see the white of its eyes. “Simon!” she hissed. Simon slotted a couple of rounds into the barrel, wiped the sweat gathering around his top lip and stood up. The Reaver snarled, blood and saliva dripped from its jaws. A cold determined look filled the doctor’s eyes. “Someone needs their medicine.” he declared. The Reaver’s jaws widened, revealing a row of sharpened teeth. It was angrier than ever. A wry smile tugged at the corners of Simon’s lips. It was a turkey shoot. A shotgun blast rang out across the cargo bay. The Reaver staggered, unfazed by the bullet now permanently lodged into its leg. Simon cursed and lowered his weapon. “Nice work doctor Tam.” Kaylee grumbled. “Actually, I was aiming for its head.” Simon blushed. The Reaver lunged forward, gathering speed. “Simon!” Kaylee cried. Simon fired off another round. Sparks flew off the catwalk as he missed the shot. He slotted another round into the gun, snapped the chamber back into place and pulled the trigger once more. A shower of blood burst from the Reaver’s chest. It lurched backwards, slippery, blood soaked hands grabbing the railing. Another gunshot rang out. The Reaver flipped over the balcony and let out a bloodcurdling scream. Simon breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. Kaylee sobbed into Simon’s chest. For a second, she thought she could see a flash of humanity in the Reaver’s eyes as it fell to its death. Simon gently stroked the top of Kaylee’s head and pulled her closer. “Sssh. It’s okay.” he whispered. Kaylee looked up through tearful eyes. “Simon…” He placed a finger gently across Kaylee’s lips. She stared longingly into his eyes. He stared back, tucking a strand of hair away from her face. For a moment, they stood quietly, minds focused on nothing but their warm breath on each other’s faces. Simon leaned in, then paused. He had lost count of the amount of times this moment had played out in his mind. It had been twelve months since he wanted to kiss young Kaylee and now he couldn’t bring himself to do it. They stared at each other, until, finally, their lips met. Kaylee ran her fingers through Simon’s hair, slowly untying the makeshift bandanna around his head and allowing it to fall to the floor. Their lips met once more, full, hungry kisses filled with longing. Simon unbuttoned Kaylee’s brown boiler suit, his fingers sliding the material gently down over her shoulders. Kaylee arched back, allowing herself to push up against the side of the railing. Simon began kissing her neck, lips gently moving down towards her collarbones A sharp feeling grazed his left cheek. He gasped. Something had gone wrong. He could feel Kaylee’s skin stretch and burst against his face. Warm blood and torn flesh ran down his cheeks. Simon gasped and quickly pulled himself away. Kaylee stood motionless, hair draped over her eyes. She looked up, forcing Simon to step back. His eyes widened. He couldn’t believe what was happening. A white grin shone through Kaylee’s crimson face. Her eyes were dark and soulless, not unlike the Reaver they had just encountered. Kaylee playfully licked the fresh blood from her index finger and grinned. “Always wanted to take a bite out of you...” Simon gasped and moved his hands away from his face. He touched his cheek, checking his face for blood. A million thoughts raced through his mind, until he slowly he realised he was still aboard Inara’s shuttle. He looked to the left, spotting Kaylee lying next to him. He drew a hand across his face and shuddered. It was a dream? Kaylee stirred, smiling sweetly in her sleep. “Doctor?” came a voice. Simon let out a yell, suddenly aware of the person standing by his side. It was Zoe. “Are you alright? Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” she remarked. Simon sat up, and checked his surroundings. “I’m…I’m, uh, I’m fine…” The words struggled to reach the young doctor’s mouth. He took a deep breath and looked around the room “What’s… What’s happening?” Zoe smiled. “We’ve finished. Captain’s removing the last of the bodies as we speak.” Simon frowned. “Excuse me?” “We would have told you earlier if you hadn’t fallen asleep.” “I missed the action?” Simon asked Zoe smiled. “That you did.” “What about River? Is she alright?” Simon asked. Zoe smiled. “River’s fine. She’s in her quarters. Come on, let’s get you out of here.” In the cargo bay, Mal stood over the body of a fallen Reaver and put a bullet in its head. He looked down at the lifeless corpse and pulled the trigger once more. The body flinched as Mal pulled the trigger over and over again, until he fully discharged the magazine. “I think you got it.” Jayne remarked. Mal turned to face the mercenary. “Just making sure is all.” Zoe marched down the staircase, with Simon in tow. “I’d say this calls for a celebration” she declared. “I second that!” Wash beamed rushing to embrace his wife. “A celebration it is then. Tell the others we’re having a party.” Mal replied. Simon stepped forward, observing the carnage that surrounded him. Bodies littered the cargo bay floor. Every surface was drenched in human blood. Mal turned to face the young doctor. “I believe that you slept through most of the action?” he beamed. Simon stood with a bewildered look on his face. “I… I guess so?” Mal laughed. “You missed a good show. We would have nearly lost too if Jayne hadn’t have come to the rescue.” Simon frowned. “What happened?” “It’s a long story. One that I’ll have to share with you another time. Let’s just say it involved the body of our first mechanic and a well placed gun. For now though, I’d say I need to change out of these clothes.” “What about the ship? Aren’t we still attached to the Reaver’s hull?” Simon enquired. “Kaylee’s working on that as we speak.” Mal explained. “Won’t take too long. We’ll be on en route to Orpheus within the hour. I believe Badger has a job lined up for us.” “I see.” Simon replied Mal slapped the doctor on the back and walked away. “I’d better attend to the bodies.” Simon called. “Don’t be too long Doctor.” Mal replied. “I hear Kaylee makes a mean strawberry pie.”

*** ~ 8 ~

PERSPECTIVE: River

Several hours had passed since the crew’s ordeal. River sat alone in her dorm - a routine that was becoming more and more familiar to her every day. She tilted her head, listening to the laughter coming from above deck. She was never one for parties. They had a nasty habit of nearly killing people on the ship. River turned, hearing footsteps. It was Simon, carrying a plate in his hand. “I brought you some cake. It’s not much but-” he began. “Not hungry.” River interrupted. “Are you sure?” Simon said sitting down. “Kaylee made it especially.” River stared blankly at the wall. Simon’s smile dropped slightly as he looked at his sister. It was clear that it had been a very long day. River blinked slowly. Simon looked on, unsure whether or not she had heard him speak. “We’re safe now.” Simon assured. “They come out of the black… pushing… scratching…until there’s nothing left.” Simon sighed. “We’re safe now. There’s no need to be afraid.” River shook her head and jumped off her bunk. “Can’t see in the dark… Can’t find their way out…” Simon rolled his eyes. “Not again…”

***

PERSPECTIVE: Mal

The rest of the crew had retired to their bunks. The best place to be after a long, stressful day. Mal sat quietly on the catwalk, the events of the last few hours running through his mind. Mal’s attention turned to the bulkhead wall. He stood up, disturbed by the sound of scratching coming from the other side. This was buo hao but curiosity drove him forward. He carefully removed the metal grating and took a closer look. Suddenly a bony hand reached out from the black and grabbed Mal by the throat. He gasped for air as a Reaver tightened its grip around his throat. Suddenly River strolled out from behind a cargo container nearby. She smiled sarcastically. “Hi.” The Reaver let out a startled grunt as River pressed a gun against the side of its head. “You’re not welcome on my ship." she declared. The Reaver’s eyes bulged as River pulled the trigger. Mal shielded his eyes as the creature’s head burst from its shoulders, scattering fleshy lumps of membrane onto the floor. Mal watched as the Reaver slumped to the floor. He crinkled his nose at the sight of blood squirting from its headless corpse. River stood quietly transfixed by the sight of blood on her arms. “Well.” Mal gasped. “Glad that’s over.” River turned, hearing Simon running out from the infirmary. “I’m sorry Captain, I couldn’t stop her.” he wheezed. “It’s alright doctor.” Mal replied. “I believe your sister just saved my life.” Simon frowned. “She did? I mean… How?”” Mal pointed to the headless corpse lying on the cargo bay floor. Simon raised his eyebrows. “I see. That’s… a good thing… I suppose.” “You suppose?” Mal replied. River smiled. “It’s okay.” she declared. “I think River needs to rest. It’s been a really long day.” Simon declared. Mal smiled. “Tell me about it.” he quipped. He turned to face River. “One thing bothers me though. How did you know I would be attacked?” River smiled knowingly. Mal raised his eyebrows, bemused as Simon and River began to walk away. “I’d really like to know.” Mal pleaded as he joined them. River shook her head and giggled. “I think you should quit while you’re ahead Captain.” Simon remarked. Mal raised his eyebrows “You do, huh?” “Yes. You’ll never know.” Simon replied. Mal chuckled. “Maybe you’re right. I think we’ve all had a little too much excitement for one day.” Beneath the cargo bay floor, several pairs of eyes stared out from the black. Slender fingers pushed their way up through the grating.

River was right.

They would come while they were sleeping!

~ THE END ~

COMMENTS

Friday, April 22, 2005 8:03 AM

AMDOBELL


Oh, spooky chilling horrific gorram Reavers! Yikes, now we'll all have rutting nightmares of those twisted *wangba dans* coming up through Serenity's grating and the walls and floors of our houses... Gulp! Very fine if scary myth, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 7:31 AM

PHAEDRA


God I love unhappy endings. This was beautifully disturbing. Thank you for finishing up this series. This is the End. Right?

Monday, May 2, 2005 9:34 AM

SOULOFSERENITY


Aaarrgggghhhh!!!!! Of course, you just had to end it without really ending it, didn't you. This was good stuff, Cos!

- Soul

Thursday, September 15, 2005 9:08 AM

BELLONA


OH MY F*CKING GOD!!!!! *slaps face* sorry, it's just...wow. beyond words right now

b

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 3:52 AM

ITSAWASH


"Mal raised his eyebrows. It had been a long, damn while since Zoe had disagreed with any of his plans." Great line, utterly in character for these two and it needed to be said.

"Beneath the cargo bay floor, several pairs of eyes stared out from the black. Slender fingers pushed their way up through the grating." Evil, wicked, crafty Reavers laying quietly in wait even after one of their number is given a dirt nap by River. Shite, CF, you do this stuff VERY well. I've got a bit of the shivers still. Nicely nicely done, Man. Am grateful you gave the link in chat the other day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 7:36 AM

RIVERISMYGODDESS


I love how you work in things from the episodes, different things that are mentioned. I also like how you mentioned the 3 switches that Wash talks about on the DVD extras. SHINY!


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