Vengeance: Ch. 6 - Strength and Love
Tuesday, June 14, 2005

River dreams, while Kaylee fights to stay strong. Mal goes to meet with Badger, while Etris heads off to the Alliance for help, and someone waits in the shadows for River Tam...


Special thanks to Werzbowski and Channain for their inputs and betas!!!


The dream began as always…in the chair… thick leather straps biting into her skin. She could scream, but only silently, only in her mind. Their drugs had seen to that. Her eyes… yes, they could move… she could see them, the men with the gloved hands, the blue gloved hands, but only in the peripheral. Something slender and silver drew closer… and closer. You cannot do this to me! You have no right! Words were useless… benign echoes inside her mind, bouncing around amidst silent screams. They had her body, and there was no way out. In a few seconds, they would have her brain, too, and then…what then? What would they do? She shut her eyes. She didn’t want to see any more. Why? She always asked that question, too, and again, it stayed inside her mind. Only this time, she got an answer. You have a destiny, River Tam. Embrace it. Her eyes snapped open, and she pulled against her bonds-- --That no longer existed. The chair…gone. The men…gone. The room…gone. Then where was here? Ariel. Capital City. She had been here before, and that’s how she knew it now. Only it wasn’t like she remembered it. Instead of the bright lights, fancy people and wealth galore, there were bodies, and blood. Lots and lots of blood. And bodies. Too many bodies. All running red. Like an ocean of bodies…and she stood over them all. This is your destiny. You will do all this. You will conquer. You will kill. Her hands flew up to cover her ears, and she screamed. This was not her destiny. No one told her her destiny. Destiny “No!” Destiny… She screamed louder, but the voice was too loud. She could still hear… Destiny… “Stop it!” Destiny… All she could do was scream, and scream, and-

On Board Serenity One Hour Out From Persephone

“River, let’s go!” River opened her eyes, and found herself staring at the ceiling just outside of the Infirmary. She was lying on the sofa, but she had no idea how she got there, or even why she had fallen asleep. She sat up quickly, just in time to see Simon and Jayne hurrying out of the Infirmary, a stretcher between them carrying the girl Anne. River opened her mouth to say something to her brother, but Anne turned her head and stared straight at River. “You have a destiny, River Tam. Embrace it,” Anne said, a vacant expression in her eyes. “Don’t fight it. It is what you were created for--“ “River!” Simon shouted again, this time more urgently. “We need to go now!” River looked up at her brother as he carried the stretcher past her. Something flashed in her field of vision, causing her to blink rapidly. When her vision cleared, she looked up again at Anne. Only the girl was laying still again, her eyes closed. As if she had never spoken to River. But that wasn’t logical. Anne had spoken to her. Hadn’t she? “River, let’s go!” River squeezed her eyes shut as her brother yelled for her yet again. “I can hear you, Simon!” she yelled back. I can hear you too well.

* * *

Mal walked ahead of the stretcher as they carried it up the stairs. His original idea had been to leave the girl in the infirmary, maybe even get some medical help for her as well; but that would have raised too many questions about the girl: who she was, where she came from, among others. Then there was Jayne’s question: why hadn’t they just let Anne die after River shot her? Why fix up the person who helped in Kaylee’s kidnapping? Mal had found himself bouncing that question around in his head as well. His answer, as is had been before, was that Anne was like River, only the Blue Hands had finished their work with her. Simon had apparently gotten River out before they were done with her. What would River Tam be like if the Blue Hands had finished whatever they had been doing with her brain? Mal shook his head. He wasn’t sure he wanted an answer to that question. They reached the second shuttle and Simon and Jayne carried the stretcher inside. They laid the stretcher on one of the benches and strapped Anne down. It wouldn’t be good to have the girl thrown around during the flight, especially not with the larger-than-normal number of people that were going to be on board the shuttle. Mal looked around as Simon sat River down on one of the other benches. Jayne was checking his array of guns. Mal instinctively reached down to his own gun, ensuring that it was still in its holster. It was, of course, but that simple check made him breathe easier. He walked over to the door and stepped out onto the catwalk, walking over to where Etris stood. The two Captains stared at each other for a moment. The last thing Mal wanted to do was turn the control of his ship over to someone else, but like Simon said, Zoe would die if they didn’t get her the appropriate help. He wished it could have been done some other way, but taking her down to Persephone and carrying her to a Hospital that would fix her up---hopefully with no questions---asked didn’t seem like the best way to get the help they needed. Besides, much to his chagrin, the Alliance doctors had fixed up Book rather well. The Alliance ship they had contacted was on its way, only fifteen minutes out. Mal hoped that between Etris and Book, they could get Zoe patched up, without getting themselves arrested or his ship impounded. “Tell them that Gretta was the one who worked on Zoe,” Mal said, speaking about Destiny’s doctor. “Try not to mention Simon or his sister.” “I think I can manage keeping those little details out,” Etris replied. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Serenity for you.” Mal nodded slowly. “Just don’t like askin’ for help is all. Especially not from the Alliance.” Etris chuckled. “I don’t blame you,” he replied, placing a hand on Mal’s shoulder. “I used to be Alliance, and even I hate working with them.” Mal stepped back and turned to look out over the cargo bay. He knew he would be back, but for some reason, it felt like he was abandoning Serenity. “I’ll take care of her,” Etris repeated. Nodding slowly, Mal turned back towards the shuttle. “She’s your ship,” he said to Etris. “Only for a little while,” Etris replied. Mal walked to the shuttle door, pausing only long enough to turn to his crew, to those who were staying on Serenity. He knew Wash was still down in the Infirmary with his wife. He could see Book standing with Inara. Mal nodded at Book, but when he turned to Inara, she avoided his gaze. Figures. “Etris is the Captain until I get back,” Mal said. “Treat him as such.” Book nodded in response, and to Mal’s surprise, so did Inara. There would have to be a talk between him and Inara, but it would have to wait for another day. With a final glance at the inside of his ship, Mal turned and stepped into the shuttle, shutting the door behind him. “Everybody strapped in?” Mal asked. Jayne chuffed. “I ain’t gotta strap in,” he said. “I ain’t no kid, and you can’t--” “Fine,” Mal replied, cutting him off. He didn’t need an argument with Jayne. Not today. Looking surprised, Jayne sat down onto the bench. Mal turned and walked into the cockpit. Only instead of an empty seat, he found Harvey strapped in and going through a hand-written pre-flight checklist. “Um, might I ask what you’re doing?” Harvey spoke without turning, keeping his attention focused on the switches and knobs in front of him. “No offense, Captain, but I was Destiny’s pilot long before Hesh came into the picture. I may be a lowly Load Master now, but I still have my wings.” He finished the last item on his list and turned to face Mal. “Besides, I talked to Wash about your flying. ‘Like a monkey painting a portrait’ I believe was the phrase he used?” Wash really said that about him? Mal knew that flying wasn’t his greatest skill, but he didn’t think he was that bad. He had flown the shuttle plenty of times before. Granted, not the smoothest rides ever, but he made it there in one piece. “When we get back, no more talkin’ to Wash, you hear?” Mal ordered, only half joking. Harvey laughed a deep belly laugh, while hitting the controls that released the shuttle from its docking clamps. Mal patted Harvey on the shoulder and made his way to the bench next to Jayne. The mercenary turned and glared at him. “You really gonna let him fly?” Mal shrugged, and Jayne turned back to fiddling with his revolver. Mal bent down and reached under the bench, his hands hitting the box that Mingo and Fanty had given him to deliver to Badger. If Badger had anything to do with the man who had taken Kaylee… Mal let the thought hang in the air. Mingo and Fanty had said that Badger had information about Kaylee. He better have a good ruttin’ excuse for how he came across that information. Mal sat back on the bench as Harvey expertly piloted the shuttle towards Persephone.

* * *


Early produced a knife from a sheath on his leg and proceeded to slice the ropes holding Soul to the chair. Soul rubbed his sore wrists, but didn’t say a word. He simply glared up at the black man and fought back the urge to pull out a knife of his own and run it through Early’s gut. “Killing me right now would not be a good idea,” Early said calmly. “River Tam is on her way here.” Soul stood slowly. So River was on her way, right into his lap. Or into Early’s lap. “So what do you need me for?” Soul asked. Early told him.

* * *

On Board the Blue Sun Vessel Agamemnon

Kaylee sat in the chair, naked and afraid, but with every ounce of strength inside her, she managed not to cry. She stared straight ahead, not even grimacing when Talos smacked her. As he had told her, he wasn’t using his full strength; he only wanted to visibly bruise her face until he drew blood. He said that he needed the image. Then he told her to cry, but she refused. His next swing knocked her chair over. Still, she didn’t cry, knowing in her heart that she would make her Captain proud. Mal. Just thinking of him gave her strength. He remembered Wash’s mention of how Mal had stayed strong while Niska was torturing them, and of how he kept pushing Wash to keep him strong, too. She had heard stories from the war, whispers from Zoe, and even from Mal on occasion. He was so brave, so strong. She admired him, and she liked to believe that she learned her own strength from his example. Her heart, though, belonged to another. Simon Tam. Now, thinking of him almost made her want to cry. Not because thoughts of him didn’t give her strength, but because of her regrets. Sure, Simon could be somewhat high and mighty, and sure he wasn’t the most suave fella around her, but he was different. Special. Kaylee regretted never approaching him, and always waiting for him to make the first move. She knew he had feelings for her, but he never knew just how special he was to her. Just how much he meant to her. Just how much she…loved him. That was the thought that did it. A single tear fell out of the corner of her eye, and made its way down through the blood on her cheek. ‘That’s more like it,” Talos said. Kaylee wanted to tell him that the tear wasn’t for him, that there would never be a tear worthy of shedding for him, but she knew that he would hit her again. So she stayed silent, waiting. Waiting for her strength, and her love. They would come for her.

* * *


Soul looked up as the shuttle flew overhead, swinging around before settling down in the dust. He tensed and brought his rifle up, peering through the sight as the door to the shuttle hissed open. He waited, patiently, as he had been trained to do. Early’s instructions were clear: don’t fire, keep a lookout for River Tam, and send up an alert if the girl was on the shuttle. Glancing down at the radio Early had given him, Soul was debating over whether or not to use it. This wasn’t part of why Talos hired him. If Early caught River, what then? Would Talos keep his promise and stay away from Soul’s wife and son? Knowing Talos, the answer was more than likely “no.” Soul shifted his legs, and looked through the sight again, just in time to catch Malcolm Reynolds exiting the shuttle carrying a small box, followed by a big man armed with more personal ordnance than Soul had ever carried for one mission. The image Soul had of Reynolds was obviously out of date; the man looked like he had seen quite a few years of hardship since the last time he stood in front of a camera. The other man…well, he was obviously a mercenary or a hired gun, but there was an unmistakable air of familiarity between the two men. A third man stepped out of the shuttle, this one a burly black man with a bit of a paunch. A few words were exchanged between Reynolds and the black man, who then received a handgun from the mercenary. An agreement was reached, and Reynolds started out with long, purposeful strides in the direction of where Early was waiting, followed by the mercenary. Soul followed them with the scope for a moment, and then swung the gun back just in time to catch the black man pulling the shuttle door closed. But not before a familiar face flashed in the opening. River Tam. Soul lowered the rifle slowly, and grabbed the radio, raising it to his lips. A moment before relaying the information to Early, something stopped him. He looked over at the shuttle, and although he couldn’t see in through the window, he had a strange feeling in the back of his head that someone was staring at him. He lowered the radio slowly. Early can do without knowing about River Tam just yet. Soul used the ball of his thumb on the volume knob on the handset, and turned the unit off. Early was a liumang---he should have kept Soul tied into the chair. Grabbing his rifle off of the ground, Soul stuck to the shadows and began to make his way across to where River Tam sat, his for the taking.


Go to Chapter 7.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005 10:46 AM


Nice... keep 'em coming.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 12:50 PM


Glad to see another post, it is way too long before chapters! I hope River does not fall into Soul's hands. Liked how you showed Mal's reluctance to leave Serenity in someone else's hands albeit briefly, reminded me of when Han Solo let Lando Calrissian take the Milennium Falcon. Like he was never going to see her again. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 1:33 PM


Very nice, now just got to wait for the next chapter. :o)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 9:57 PM


Nice work Soul. You're keeping the tension up, while keeping the story moving at a decent pace.
Lookin' forward to the next chapter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 10:06 PM


Finally!! I have waited so long for this chapter. I'm glad Kaylee's being strong. More soon please!!!!!!!!

No Power In The Verse

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 7:53 AM


Well worth the wait I'm glad to say :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2005 3:33 PM


Another good installment. Tension high. If I'm rooting for Soul, does that make me a bad person?


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