BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA

MANWITHPEZ

Shadow War - Chapter Twenty One
Monday, May 9, 2005

The CONCLUSION!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2558    RATING: 6    SERIES: FIREFLY

In Serenity, Simon was trying to administer as best he could to Inara. Inara wasn't as bad off as she seemed when she arrived, but she was in mortal danger. He saw to her, stitching up what he could. Simon was especially proud of his sutures, and used the tiniest ones he could find to prevent Inara from scarring much. As he finished, he didn't think they'd be to noticeable, but, women, he had found, had a different point of view of these things.

"You're not a mirror, Simon." River said, as she assisted, something she had done more and more lately in the infirmary.

"I don't mean to be, mei mei. I just want her to feel comfortable with carrying on her...profession, should she choose. Personally, I don't think I could."

"Which is why you're not a companion." River smiled.

"I suppose not.", Simon added after a moment, checking Inara's vitals.

* * *

Adelai Niska found himself in a precarious situation, again. He found the crutches he hated so much in the bottom chamber, but he knew that leaving the compound right now would be suicide. All it would take was for the wrong someone to spot him, and this cursed metal leg, for all its tricks, was quite heavy. He hobbled over to the exit, well concealed as it was, and waited. If Malcolm Reynolds came down the escape tunnel, Niska was through, and he knew it. He tended to trust in a higher power when such times came to pass. He had not been led wrong so far.

He looked out the exit again, and saw the strangest thing. An Alliance officer in undercover apparel. After years of seeing such things, Niska thought the Alliance could find a better way to cover their officers.

* * *

Shang swung an elbow around Book's last punch and nailed the preacher on the back of the head. Mal watched this, horrified. He had been knocked cold from such a hit before, and from Jayne's grunt, he could tell that sympathy for Book was a crew wide phenomon right now. Book had taken a few rough punches, and hadn't really been able to gain any kind of ground on Shang so far. Mal's hand slipped to the butt of his pistol, and he saw all of the crew present doing the same thing.

"Why take up with these people, Meriah? I don't profess to know who hired me to kill you, anymore than I know why. Are you with the crew of Serenity for protection? Are you hiding?" Shang asked his questions mirthily, smiling as he did so. He was clearly enjoying taking the old man apart.

Book didn't immediately answer. He seemed to be catching his breath, and the crwe had a bad feeling that they would be the ones dealing with Shang. Mal didn't mean to stand around and watch Shang kill Book, but he took to heart Book's warnings about the man. If Book said he was dangerous, that was good enough.

"I don't hide, Shang. I don't need anyone's protection." He pivoted on one foot, and began to jump for what looked like a spin kick. Shang started to duck. Book brought his foot down quickly, and swung with the other, catching Shang full in the jaw. Shang spun and dropped.

Book smiled.

Shang did not. He bodily tackled the Shepherd, something Book obviously did not see coming. On top of the Shepherd, Shang reached under his belt and pulled a small dagger. It never got the chance to come into play, as a shot rang out, and the dagger arced out in the air, away from Shang, and his intentions to use it on Book.

Shang looked up, surprised, but not as much as the crew thought he might be. Zoe levered another shell into her carbine, the smoke from the barrel forming a perfect ring as she did so. Mal had not even seen her draw.

Book bucked wildly, throwing the younger man off. He turned angrily to the crew.

"Do not interfere! I don't think you understand what's happening here!"

"Don't give us a reason to, preacher." Zoe said, lowly.

Mal wasn't the only one thinking that they could end this now if they just shot Shang. Book circled right into the crew's line of fire. Mal didn't know what the Shepherd was playing at, but he saw in a second as another shot rang out. Book had to have felt the wind off of it. Shang moved like a blur, seeming to dodge the bullet that Jayne had fired from the Desert Eagle Kaylee had been carrying. Shang used the diversion to pounce on Book, whipping the older man's head about with a ringing slap as he punched him simultaneously in the ribs.

"Jayne. Don't." Mal warned.

Jayne sighed exasperatedly.

"You never know til you try, Cap." was he only response. Mal had been thinking along these lines as well, and didn't reprimand Jayne any further. Now they knew though. When Book had told them the guns would do any good, he hadn't been lying.

Book's arm was twisted precariously as he was on his knees, reeling from the punch to the ribs. Shang lowered his head slowly to Book, and began whispering.

"You know I'm going to kill them, right? As soon as I finish with you. I think I'll start with the pretty mechanic. She looks like she would scare easy. Shan Yu once claimed that the world of men was governed by shadow and light. Do you think she would like to meet my shadow?"

Book's face contorted. He twisted his arm from Shang, surprising the younger man. It was nothing more than a feat of strength that Shang had obviously thought Book incapable of to this point.

"That's right Shang...Give me all the reason and motivation I need to end this the right way. To get to the crew, you have to come through me, and you'll find I'm more of an ostacle than I appear to be." Book hissed.

Shang feinted to the left. Book didn't fall for it. Shang tried to the right, but Book still met him head on. Shang, standing right where he was, declined but an inch, and leaped, flipping directly over the preacher and attempted to put Book in a choke hold. All of Serenity's crew, even Wash, who was watching from his chair (Jayne had picked up the chair with Wash in it, and brought it to the stairs) gasped in surprise, and Wash had been silent in what had surely been gasp inducing situations before.

Shang's choke was not successful, as Book managed to get both arms in between him and Shang. He leaned forward, and bodily hurled Shang. Shang landed in the dirt and skidded. Unfortunately, he skidded very close to his ancestor's sword. He reached for it. Three bullets tore the earth in front of his fingers. He hopped up in a cartwheel, took his sword, drew it, and raised it in time to deflect a shot from Mal this time. Mal cursed low, and holstered his pistol. It was frustrating when you couldn't shoot the man you were itching to.

"Put them away!" Book called over his shoulder, never taking his eyes of Shang. The crew did as bid for the last time. With one exception. Mal kept his pistol at the ready. Book might put his trust in God, but Mal trusted his piece to get him out of a scrape.

Shang began to twirl the sword so fast that it almost became invisible to the naked eye. Book kept watching, apparently unmoved by the addition of a weapon to the fray.

"So, you would fight in dishonor just to win?" Book said.

"The only honor is in survival, Meriah, and I plan to keep my family bloodline continuing."

He flipped again, thrusting the sword forward as he landed. Mal and company couldn't believe it when Book ducked in the nick of time, and grasped Shang's wrist. He squeezed mercilessly, but Shang would not relinquish the sword. Book took to some acrobatics of his own. Still holding Shang's wrist, he leaped over the other man's arm, twisting as he went. The sword fell, and Kaylee quickly rushed forward to kick it away. Shang howled in fury.

Book didn't take another punch or kick in the fight. The two men locked together in what looked like dual blocks. They grunted with the exertion. Book planted his foot behind him and gave a great heave, knocking Shang's own fists into him. He threw a knee and an elbow simultaneously, and Mal smiled as he heard the crunch of breaking bone. Shang leg twisted and would not support him, even as blood gushed from his broken nose. He rose, despite his injuries, and took a modified guard. Book rushed forward, clapping both his hands over Shang's ears, and planting a foot squarely in the man's chest. Shang flew into the dirt, and seemed unable to rise. He was still conscious.

Book turned to the crew, out of breath, and said: "Load up, now! I don't think he can stop us now."

Book's legs fell out from under him in a vicious kick. Shang rolled on top of him and began to choke Book. It didn't last long, as Book reached up and grabbed Shang's nose and twisted is viciously. Book bucked Shang off again. Shang had now learned not to wrestle with the preacher. He could cause too much damage on the ground. Shang rose slowly, favoring his injured leg tangled with the Shepherd again. Their arms were locked, when Book suddenly dropped to his knees, and Jayne actually laughed when he heard Shang's forearm break. Wash clapped. Book headbutted Shang, and Shang fell, unmoving.

The others had been making arrangements to lift Wash, chair and all back to the Contessa. All three men had stab wounds, Zoe had broken fingers, which left Kaylee and Book to steady the chair as Mal and Jayne carried it to the Firefly. After they had loaded, Mal again demanded to know what happened to Serenity. No one would tell him, and he took this as a grave clue as to the fate of his beloved ship.

Jayne walked back down to the courtyard to collect his guns. Shang was still unmoving, but Jayne gave him a wide berth. He collected his pistol and his Vera and a few other things and made for the shuttle. Someone had to take it back to Serenity. Book got out and walked to Shang, bending over the man, and lightly slapping him back to consciousness.

"I know you're not going to listen to me when I say this, but don't follow us. Don't try. I don't want to have to kill you Shang, but this is our third meeting, and even God would forgive me for killing you should you try again."

Shang blinked at the man and rose.

"I will follow you to the very end of the black! You can not escape me."

"I already have, Shang" Book said gently. He turned to leave and didn't even hear the clicking of a small pistol that had emerged from Shang's sleeve.

He never got the chance to fire. Two shots rang out, both bullets hitting Shang in each knee. Mal stood, facing the preacher.

"Well?" Mal said, expecting some dressing down from the Shepherd.

Book sighed heavily and kept walking.

They flew off, Jayne in the shuttle, and the rest of the crew in the Contessa. Shang lay in the dust, cursing and screaming and swearing vengeance on both Malcolm Reynolds and Meriah Book. He dragged himself over to his sword, only to find that the scabbard was the only thing left. Jayne had taken the sword.

* * *

Aboard the Contessa, the crew helped Wash settle into the pilot's seat. Being in the Contessa mad Mal ill, and Zoe could see it. She didn't know what had happened to Serenity, and right now, she didn't want to know. Jayne piloted the shuttle ahead of the Contessa, and Mal whispered some instructions in Wash's ear. Wash looked surprised, and then smiled. He told Kaylee to go to the engine room, which she did, without much enthusiasm.

Jayne flew the shuttle forward on to Serenity. He had heard was Mal had planned, and didn't want to stay around. The danger to the shuttle, and thus, him, was too great.

"So, Shepherd, do you want to leave this in God's hands?" Mal asked, with a smirk.

Book, who was more than little sore after his fisticuffs with Shang said nothing.

The Contessa flew over the nearest volcano. It was a huge crater with lava seeping from the sides, and all of a sudden, Book didn't want to see any of this. He went to the engine room to offer what help he could. Out of sight, out of mind, was his thinking on the subject.

"So Wash, down on this planet we have quite a few people who would kill us as soon as look at us. I plan on hindering these people from finding us any time soon, and I hope we can stop a couple of them permanantly. What do you say?"

"I say KAYLEE! Are you ready."

Over the comm, a staticy enthusiatic burst came over. "Hell yes! Let's blow this dog stand!"

"Then here we go! Full Burn...Now!"

The rear of the Contessa kicked to life in brilliant display of green and gold. The roar of the fusion explosion that propelled the Firefly into deep space very suddenly was deafening, but not so deafening as the blow black that flew directly into the volcano, triggering a massive explosion coupled with a spontaneous eruption.

"You do know that we should never do a full burn in atmo, right Wash?" Mal said grinning.

"I know a lot of things, sir. I know we seem to do this a lot, for something we're not supposed to do." The jerking of the yoke stung Wash's stab wound, as the vibrations hurt his leg. He didn't show it though, grinning just as wide to Mal. He stopped grinning when he looked at Zoe, cradling her broken fingers. She sat, slumped and tired. a thin trickle of blood seeped from the corner of her mouth. He carried out the rest of his orders determinedly, hoping against hope that the volcano's eruption got not only Shang, but Niska as well.

* * *

Lt. Kelly had come over when Niska had called. She knew who she was, but she couldn't leave him like this. His white suit was torn and dirty, and Niska, when he wanted to, could seem downright paternal. She gathered the old man up, and helped him to his ship. She entered and piloted away from Pegasus. She didn't go far.

* * *

In a cave, very near the explosion, Dobson carried his only child, a daughter named Sepia, to her ship. They were going to go after the Firefly, when the explosion occured. Lava spewed from the cave, engulfing the gunboat. Dobson barely had time to start the ignition cycle and get airborne before the whole of the ground they were on was covered in blast furnace hot lava. Sepia was still unconscious, and Dobson now had no Alliance to fall back on. He supposed the fact that he had no weapons was the fault of that River girl. He was unarmed, and Sepia's suit, usually so full of weapons was now empty. Even the Death's head had had all of the assorted weapons from its interior taken. The only thing he had was the ship, and that would need to be reoutfitted. He piloted towards where Sepia told him she had disabled the Firefly.

* * *

River excitedly pointed to shuttle 2 coming over the horizon. They were safely far away from the volcano, but they had felt the blow back, and subsequent eruption. Few on the planet could say that they didn't.

"Affirmative!" She cried out the lopsided cargo door.

"You mean, that's Jayne in there?" Simon had become almost expert in interpreting his sister.

"Affirmative" She said, her smile fading.

"River? What is it?" Simon asked, slowly.

"The vector! The ruttin' vectors!" She turned and ran back into the ship, straight to the infirmary. Simon tried to follow her, but was still a bit groggy from the beating Dobson had handed him. He wondered if it affected his work, but he was confident in his work as a doctor. Inara was well cared for, despite how thoroughly he had been beaten. He would never let an infimity of his stop him from helping a patient.

When River reemerged from the ship, she was holding the small remote Fiona had brought in earlier. She rapidly began punching buttons, and Simon read on the screen. NEW SHIP RECONFIG. REWRITING. READY. AWAITING NEW COORDINATES

Just as Jayne was getting ready to land the shuttle, Sepia's ship appeared over the horizon, coming in fast and low. The Death's Head rammed the smaller shuttle, knocking it roughly to the ground. Its engine locked up, shutting down roughly. River pointed the remote at the Death's Head and pushed the CONFIRM button. The Death's Head lurched roughly to the sky, and took off like a flash.

"What did you just do?"

"Sent them home." River said, contemplatively. "Home?" Simon asked.

"Alliance headquarters."

Simon grinned, and went to help Jayne as he exited the shuttle.

* * *

CORTEX WEEKLY NEWS DISPATCH

FAMED GANGSTER ADELAI NISKA, THOUGHT TO BE DEAD, WAS CAPTURED IN A CUNNING RAID OF HIS HIDDEN FORTRESS ON PEGASUS TODAY. HIS CAPTOR, CAPTAIN KELLY, OF THE IAV DURMSTRANG HAD THIS TO SAY: "HE OFFERED ME ALL KINDS OF CREDITS TO TAKE HIM FROM PEGASUS SAFELY. I GUESS HE FORGOT THAT THERE WAS A REWARD ON HIS HEAD."

ALLIANCE OFFICIALS HAVE ALSO HEARD NEW DETAILS CONCERNING THE FUGITIVES SIMON AND RIVER TAM. THE BROTHER AND SISTER CRIMINALS WERE SAID TO BE ON PEGASUS WHERE THEY WERE PLUNDERING STOLEN SHIPS FOR ILLEGAL GOODS. THEIR CURRENT WHEREABOUTS ARE UNKNOWN AT THIS TIME.

* * *

Niska sat in his small holding cell onboard the Durmstrang. A new commander had taken over, one that was a good deal more humane than Remo had evr thought about being. The newly minted Captain Kelly had recieved an above the board promotion for bringing Niska to justice as well as revealing the truth about Chief Dobson. What she knew about Remo and his dealings, she decided to hold on to until the time was right. That was, the time that it would help her the most. Remo might have been a murdering bastard, but he knew how to get ahead in the Alliance, and Kelly had studied hard under the man.

Niska looked down at where his leg ended. The Alliance had taken his leg during processing, and left him in this tiny cell to await transport to a court. He knew he would never be found innocent of the myriad charges against him. When he had his Skyplex, just his reputation had been enough to keep the Alliance away...mostly.

Kelly stuck her head around the corner. She looked at the pathetic old man who had caused such a ruckus. She felt sorry him. He looked up at her.

"Ah. Captain Kelly. Good to be seeing you again, I suppose. Are you here to laugh at the unfrightening old man?"

"No, Niska. Tell me, how did you get the reputation for being the most feared criminal around?"

Niska smiled. "A reputation is something that can be manufactured easily enough. If you care to consider my offer, I can show you."

It was Kelly's turn to smile. Since she had come back to the Durmstrang a week ago, she had grown quickly disillusioned with the Alliance. For every Remo that had been killed there were ten more working safely within the system. The whole ordeal had opened her eyes. Sometimes, she wished they were still closed.

"Become a common criminal? I don't think so, Adelai."

"Think about it." Niska called, as Kelly turned the corner. He knew she would.

* * *

Dobson had eventually had to tear the console apart to stop whatever had taken control of this ship. His daughter cursed every time something new fell to the floor. When Dobson had found out they were headed to the core, he had begun to panic, something that frightened Sepia to no end. The two of them were a little worse for wear. They found the nearest dry dock they could and began to repair the ship. They would need it now that they were more determined than ever to find the Tams.

* * *

"You know, "said Zilan Raydor kneeling in the dirt "It's a damn shame what happened to Mal's ship. I mean, she's an ugly mostrosity, but she is a Firefly. No one deserves to have that happen to a Firefly."

"Oh, shut up" came Fiona Raydor's exasperated reply. "Do you think he's just going to let us go. I mean, he hates you, and he has our ship now."

"Mal might be a criminal, but he's a fair one. You'll see. He'll give us the Contessa back."

"Yeah, we'll see."

The Contessa came in low over the horizon. There were several dings in the hull from the stones of Niska's house, and the green paint on the aft section was singed, but she was still flying. The crew disembarked next to the crew of the Contessa. As Zoe walked out, she kneed Fiona in the head.

"OW! What are you doing?"

"I'm sorry, sweetie, I didn't see you there in the dirt." Zoe said, trying to hide a little smile. She didn't try hard.

Mal walked over to Serenity and fell to his knees beside the fallen engine. The engine itself was a mess. Most of the fan blades had broken in the fall. The engine was unsalvageable. He hung his head and lovingly ran a hand over the engine cowling. He felt like weeping. Of all people, Simon came over and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Captain?" He said.

Mal said nothing, not even when he felt another, bandaged hand on his other shoulder.

"Mal?" Inara, said weakly. She had risen and exited Serenity against Simon's orders, but he knew he couldn't stop her short of doping her, and he didn't really want to.

Mal looked up, and this time, he did weep, as he swept Inara up in a spinning hug. She cried out a little in the pain of it, but she couldn't stop smiling.

Simon didn't have much time to warn the Captain that he might not want to do that. Kaylee had come running full tilt and tackled him, wrapping her arms and legs around him and covering his bruised face with kisses. Simon was dumbfounded, and didn't have any idea how to react. In the end, he just held her as she ran her hands over him, checking to be sure that he was really here.

Mal sat Inara down and said, businesslike "What did you do to my shuttle?" Before breaking into a grin and hugging her again. Inara didn't have much time, because every member of the crew, even Jayne came over to see about her and hug her. Simon didn't have much time for repose, as every member of the crew, save Book and Kaylee needed medical attention.

After things had settled a bit, Mal and Kaylee stood next to the engine.

"Well?" Mal asked.

Kaylee didn't say anything. She was too busy staring at the Contessa.

"What Cap'n?"

"What can be done about this?"

"I'm looking at the solution right now, Cap." Mal followed her gaze to the Contessa's port extender. Mal smiled.

"Won't Zilan be happy to hear this."

"Cap'n, cutting the wing off that piece of go se is only an improvement." Kaylee said, a little testily.

* * *

Three weeks later, Wash and Jayne stood aways out from Serenity, which was propped on a jury-rigged scaffolding system Jayne and Kaylee had built with various parts from both ships. The engine was already reattached and repaired. Kaylee, against Mal's wishes, who just wanted off this rock (The Alliance had been through a couple of time, but, unbelieviably luck had been on their sides) was blasting the green paint off the new extender. Kaylee was not happy about having to both put a "foreign" (as she called it) part on her boat, and use the Contessa's crew for labor. Jayne and River had given her plenty of help in keeping them in line. But, though they had the complete resources of two Fireflys a their disposals, supplies were starting to wear thin. Zoe, Mal, and Book had done a masterful job of repairing both shuttles, and setting Inara's back to its former splendor. The hydraulic fluid had been replaced, and Mal had taken all the fuel cells the Contessa had. Serenity was ready for flight. She hadn't even been tested, but such was Mal's faith in his mechanic's abilities.

More than once, arguments between Mal and Zilan had been heated to the point of blows, but Book had managed to keep them from killing one another, so far. Zoe and Fiona, however, were at each other the whole time, with Wash staying firmly out of the middle of it. The rest of the crew kept their mouths shut, horrified that Jayne would make good on his promise to "take an ear".

Everyone was healing nicely. And, Mal found himself actually grateful that they had a medic as skilled as Simon, even if he and his sister were so wanted that they could barely ever leave the ship. Mal had already stopped three escape attempts from Zilan today, and swore to the other Captain, that he would hog tie him and leave him in a volcano is he didn't stop. As it was, though they were taking the Contessa's engine, they were leaving its shuttles, rather than taking them to replace Serenity's. And, they were leaving a good deal of food for the Contessa's crew. This did not make Zilan any happier.

In the distance from Wash and Jayne, was a Blue Sun cola can. It already had a few holes in it, but these came from Jayne. Wash had tried any number of ways to duplicate the shooting he had accomplished at Niska's. All to ill effect. Not only did he not hit the can, he kept dropping the gun, forcing Jayne to curse, stop and clean it before they could start again.

"Gorramit, Wash! How did you ever manage that trick back at Niska's?" Jayne said, testily.

"I don't know!" Wash said, trying a quickdraw, and firing, the bullet hitting a good ten feet to the right of the can.

"Listen Little Man, you keep pullin' that trigger instead of squeezin', and you'll never hit nothin'!"

"Jayne, I'm a lover, not a fighter. I'm a pilot, not a marksman. Maybe this had something to do with Zoe being in danger, or maybe I could always do it. But, I can't now, and I'm not terribly bothered by it. Now, if you don't mind, there's dangerous things happening in dinosaur land that I must tend to."

"You could tend to your wife, you know?" Zoe said, testily, from on top of the wing.

"What do you mean, sweetie?" Wash asked. He had been more than helpful, if a little slow to Zoe lately. He had to use crutches for a while, but that had only lasted two weeks. He was healing as fast as the rest of the crew.

"I mean, I'm a little hungry, and you two standing down there shooting ain't accomplishing anything up here on this wing. Either help us, or fix me something to eat!"

"Yes dear," Wash hissed through his teeth. He spun suddenly, and fired three times, catching the can in the air for the last two.

"Here Jayne, I've got to make some Husband Soup" Wash said, handing the gun back.

Jayne stared at the gun. Then the can. Then the gun.

"Lover, huh? I don't see how that would help."

* * *

In the Contessa, guarded by Book, the crew slept, Serenity's crew slept in their ship. Mal suddenly showed up around midnight, and left a great deal of food in the galley.

"Come on,Shepherd. We're off this rock, and I mean yesterday."

"We have been here a while, haven't we? Where are we headed?"

"Well, I'm hoping the sword of Shan Yu will fetch a pretty, but I'm not holding a lot of hope. I can't believe we got the Lassiter back, actually."

Zoe had gathered the Lassiter from Niska's before they left. She didn't tell Mal about it until he appeared to get over the shock of what happened to Serenity. So, they now had two priceless antiquities. He had sent a wave to Badger, who, while unable to help them with the Lassiter, had found a buyer for the sword.

Book and Mal left the Contessa's ship quietly. Everyone was asleep, but that would change when they heard Serenity taking off and leaving them with some food and two working shuttles. No weapons though. Jayne had cleared them out. They went to the cockpit in Serenity, where the entire crew was waiting with bated breath. Except Kaylee, was still making adjustments in the engine room.

"Kaylee?" Wash said, to no immediate response. Finally one came.

"Go ahead." Kaylee said, slowly, and all could hear she was holding her breath. She had never repaired such major damage before.

Wash flipped three switches, turned, and began the ignition cycle. The port engine hiccuped, spat out black smoke, and roared to life. It was joined by its twin, and Wash gently piloted the ship up into outer atmo.

There was much congratulations when Kaylee go the bridge with a jug of her interengine fermented wine. Even River had a cup. Just one, as Simon stopped her. Wash set a course, and began the three day journey to Persephone.

* * *

"We can do business, mate" Badger lolled with his Titan accent.

"That's all I ever want, Badger. Maybe next time, you can leave the armed guards behind?"

"Doubt it. Here's your cut. Minus my 25% of course. Now, piss off!"

"As always, a pleasure, Badger." Mal smiled as he layed the sword of Shan Yu on Badger's cluttered desk. For a fence, Badger was a messy guy. Mal collected a bag with a good deal of money in it. This he handed to Zoe, who immediately began counting it.

"Oh, come now, Captain. Surely, I've gained some trust with you by now?" Badger said, his bowler bobbing in time with his agitated words.

"Surely" smirked Mal. Zoe signaled that it was all there. Mal dropped a little smartass bow, and backed out of the room, Jayne and Zoe in tow.

"Markus!" Badger yelled, as soon as they were out of earshot.

One of Badger's heavily armed lackeys came out and collected the sword to take to the new owner. He didn't get far into the Eavesdowne Docks before he was stopped by someone. Someone with a heavy limp. Someone who supported his weight on a sword scabbard. Someone who broke Markus's neck and took the sword.

And that's how Shang got back his ancestral sword. He swore he would stick it in Book's gullet one day.

* * *

Incredibly, as they came back to Serenity, Mal saw that they had two new passengers. One was a very young, and very cheap doctor who was flying to Ariel to see his parents, and the other was an old woman who could afford no other ship besides Serenity to take her to Beaumonde for her sister's birthday.

"This it?" Mal asked Kaylee, as she stored her customary chair and parasol.

"Afraid so, Cap. Think I might be losin' my touch."

Mal looked at the port extender and grinned.

"That I doubt, mei mei. Let's go."

"All Aboard!" Kaylee called out of habit.

"I wish you could stop her from doin' that, Captain." Jayne whispered.

"Never" said Mal, as he smilingly made his way to the bridge.

* * *

In the infirmary, Simon checked over Inara's wounds, and pronounced more or less ready to return to work. Mal frowned as he walked by and heard this. But, he kept walking. River stopped him in the hallway, and he warily paused to hear her out.

"The pretty..." she started.

She meant the Lassiter. She had taken to calling it that when she saw it before Mal had restowed it. "Yes, River?" Mal asked.

"Its worth a party. Want a party?"

Mal stared, confused, but took her words as a good omen, bowed to her, as she curtsied to him, and both went their ways. He to the cockpit, and she to the infirmary.

In the galley, he met Zoe and Wash, Wash was busily cooking some more of his horrid soup, while Zoe waited patiently. Her bandaged fingers were mending well. Probably more than Wash suspected, but he was all too happy to provide for his wife.

"Wash...We're ready."

"Be right with you Cap." He placed a bowl before Zoe and took off quickly for the bridge.

"Zoe" Mal said.

"Sir?" Zoe asked.

"How long you gonna keep those bandages on? I know you've been healed about a week now."

"Yes sir, I know...I think Wash does too, but we're having fun with this game, and I'll think we'll keep it for a while."

"As you will." Mal walked off, grinning as Zoe ate a spoonful of soup, grimaced, and kept eating.

In the hallway before the bridge, Book was showing Jayne a thing or two about pressure points. When Mal walked past them, Jayne was huffing in pain as Book held two fingers behind his ear. The two nodded at him as he passed. He just kept walking.

In his customary chair, Wash began the ignition cycle, preparing to take off. He favored his leg and the arm he had been stabbed in, but he got along just fine. Serenity rose slowly over the docks and began to coast towards the sky.

"Sir, do you think Niska and Shang made it off Pegasus?" Wash asked abruptly.

"Don't care" was all Mal said.

"Suits me" Wash said, as Serenity broke atmo. Unbeknownst to their new passengers, Mal had a job lined up on Beaumonde that involved some gun running. Mal looked out the front window of Serenity as blue gave way to black, littered with stars.

"Suits me too." Mal said, running a hand over the window frame.

COMMENTS

Monday, May 9, 2005 10:34 AM

ERINGILES


Ah, brilliant story!! You should apply to write te 2nd film for Joss! Some of the lines in this are absolutely hilarious and something you should most definately be proud of! :)

Monday, May 9, 2005 12:13 PM

AMDOBELL


I really enjoyed this and like the way you had Shang recover his sword and the hint that Kelly would do a future deal with Niska so the bad guys can rise up on some new horizon. Just know our Big Damn Heroes will be ready for them! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 6:03 AM

SOULOFSERENITY


Wow! Great stuff, Pez!! This was a gripping story, and your writing is excellent. I hope you've got a sequal planned...

- Soul


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