Vengeance: Ch. 7 - Unexpected
Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Serenity docks with the Alliance ship to get help for Zoe, Mal meets up with Badger and gets a suprise, and Soul waits in the shadows...


On Board Serenity

The I.A.V. Armstrong was a long-range vessel, designed with practicality and simplicity in mind, unlike the Alliance cruisers that resembled massive floating cities. The Armstrong was a long, sleek vessel, designed for easy planetfall, as well as quick speeds in the black. She wasn’t as pretty a ship as the Alliance’s flagships, but she served her purpose well. The Armstrong’s mission statement was geared towards peacekeeping, which meant that there were several regiments of soldiers standing outside the docking bay when Serenity’s hatch opened. Etris walked slowly down the ramp, his hands at his sides, open palms facing the soldiers. A squad of soldiers approached him slowly, their guns raised and pointing in his direction. They passed on either side of him and boarded the ship, no doubt to inspect the rest of Serenity to ensure that there were no surprises hiding on board. The entire crew was gathered in the cargo bay, save for Gretta and Zoe, both of whom were still in the Infirmary. To his right, Rian walked up beside him, her hands exposed as well, her Asian features unreadable to anyone but Etris. She was nervous, but only he could tell. On Etris’ other side, Tark stood, his fingers twitching as if they couldn’t stand not holding a gun. “Easy, Spooky,” Etris whispered. Tark stared straight ahead and growled under his breath. ‘Who is the Captain of this vessel?” a voice shouted out. Etris looked over to see a short, balding man marching through the crowd of soldiers. He wore the uniform of an Alliance officer, but walked with the controlled pace of a soldier, as if he hadn’t allowed the rank his office gave him to remove from him the ideals he had as a simple soldier. He was peering down at a small computer pad, and didn’t look up until he was right in front of the docking bay. Etris stepped forward. “I’m Captain Etris Kurdian. This is my ship Destiny. We have an injured crewman on board, and we are requesting—“ The Alliance Commander waved him off. “I am Commander Davies. We received your Wave. I am fully aware of why you’re here. The problem is, I ran your credentials through, and it seems that you’ve not been in good favor as of late.” Good favor? “Um, I’m not sure that I understand,” Etris replied, confused. Davies sighed and crossed his hands in front of him. “Three out of the last seven jobs given to you by my superiors were rejected, without so much as an explanation. You are under a contract, Captain Kurdian, and it seems like you’re not willing to follow it.” “Now listen,” Etris began in defense, “I may be under contract, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a say in what goushi my ship transports-” “Commander, if I may?” Etris looked back as Book stepped forward, his Ident card in his outstretched hand. “I realize that you have your rules and that they must be followed,” Book continued, “But perhaps you could extent a bit of courtesy our way. I for one would be very appreciative of any help you could give our injured friend.” Davies looked Book over, and then nodded to one of the soldiers, who proceeded to take the Shepherd’s Ident card and run it through the reader. The soldier’s back seemed to straighten as he read the result and handed the scanner to Davies. The Commander glanced at the screen, and then again, this time staring at it, almost in shock. He raised his free hand into a salute. “Yes, Sir!” he said crisply. Davies turned and immediately began barking orders. A team of three doctors appeared seemingly out of nowhere and disappeared into the ship, emerging a minute later, two of them carrying Zoe on a stretcher. The third escorting Gretta along, asking Destiny’s doctor a series of questions about the specifics of Zoe’s injuries. The crew of Serenity stood there, all of them staring at Book. Etris was the first to speak. “Mal did say you had some secrets, Shepherd. Would you care to elaborate on those a bit, Sir?” Etris added emphasis on the last word. Book smiled softly and shook his head. “Not at the current moment, Captain. I will tell you one thing, though: when the moment does arrive, I believe Captain Reynolds has the reserved right to be the first to know all of my sordid secrets.”

* * *


Carrying the small crate given to him by Mingo and Fanty, Mal walked down the long hallway, both sides bordered by stacks upon stacks of crates. He could hear Jayne’s heavy lope behind him, as well as the Mercenary’s mumblings about Mal’s order to keep his guns holstered. The reasoning has been straightforward; no need to make Badger feel threatened before he gave up what he knew about Kaylee. Jayne, however, had expressed his concern of a trap, and even though Mal agreed (yet another surprise to Jayne), the Captain still kept the order standing. Their guns were to remain holstered until it was absolutely necessary that they use them. They rounded the corner, and the first of Badger’s thugs stepped into view, his rifle already raised and trained not on Mal, but on Jayne. “Smart man,” Mal whispered to Jayne. “Hundan,” Jayne mumbled back. They stepped into the room, where the box was taken from Mal’s arms, and a man stepped up and frisked him. The man got as far as Mal’s holster before Mal grabbed his arm. “I would stay away from that,” Mal said calmly. “And I object to anyone walking into my palace without being disarmed first,” came the voice from across the room. “Palace?” Jayne said. “I’ve seen whore houses prettier than this place.” From his chair, Badger glared at Jayne, adding his piercing stare to the armament of guns already pointing at the Mercenary. “All I’d have to do would be to lift my finger,” the middleman said, letting the threat hang in the air. “And all I’d--” Jayne began, but Mal cut him off with a look. “Ain’t here for a pissin’ match,” Mal stated simply. “Just here for some promised information.” Mal let the fire in his eyes serve as his expressed threat. “Box,” Badger ordered, turning away from Mal and gesturing to one of his men to bring him the crate Mal had brought in with him. “Your cousins send that with high regard,” Mal said. Badger looked the box over. “Mingo and Fanty sent this, eh?” Mal nodded slowly. Badger passes the small crate over to one of his men. “Take this to the back room, and have Jennings open it,” Badger said, grinning. The man nodded and carried the crate away. Badger swiveled his chair until he was facing Mal again. “So…you’re here for a bit of information, I gather,” Badger said slowly. “You know gorram well what I’m here for,” Mal replied, stepping forward, “So how’s about we get not tiptoe around the real reason for this visit.” Several guns turned in Mal’s direction, but Badger raised his hand and waved them off. Indicating the chair on the other side of his desk, the middleman gestured for Mal to sit. “I have no intention of tiptoeing anywhere,” Badger stated. “I’ve always had a fondness for the engineer of yours.” “So what do you know?” Mal asked plainly, fighting to keep his temper in check as he dropped into the offered chair. “She’s on a ship,” Badger replied matter-of-factly, and then sat back, absently brushing at the front of his brown shirt. The room was silent for a moment as Mal waited for Badger to reveal more information, but none was offered. “That’s it?” Mal growled, rising from his chair. “If we wasted all this time for that little bit, I swear to you--” “Sit down, Captain!” Badger said, surprising Mal by not using “Sergeant” as he usually did. “I wouldn’t have asked my moronic cousins to send you out here if I didn’t have something of some use to you.” He brushed his shirt again, and this time Mal’s eyes followed Badger’s hands down to the pair of wooden crosses hanging from a thick cord. “I’ve never known you to be a very religious man,” Mal said, slowly lowering himself back into the chair. Badger was trying to tell him something without actually saying anything, that much Mal could tell. But what? And why? “Well, a man has to do things some times to ensure that he remains respectable,” Badger replied, adjusting the crosses so that they hung next to each other. He cast a quick glance to the right, nervousness crossing his features for a split second; but then his face returned to normal, his gaze returning to Mal’s face. What was that all about? A not-too-distant thump shook the room and caused dust to rain down from the ceiling, distracting Mal from his line of thought. Badger chuckled. “Ah, my cousins never fail to disappoint! Although one would think that they’d come up with better ways to try and off me by now.” “I’ll help ‘em next time,” Jayne added from across the room. “Make sure the job gets done right.” Badger yelled back at Jayne, and Mal dropped his eyes back to the pair of crosses. Pair of crosses. Two crosses. Double crosses— Double cross!! Mal pushed back from the desk, grabbing his revolver out of his holster and swinging it around to the point in the room where Badger had cast his nervous glance, preparing for the split-second decision he would have to make when his eyes settled upon— Kaylee! Naked and tied down to a simple wooden chair, Kaylee Frye sat just inside the office across from Badger’s desk. And behind her, with a look of pure murder on his face, stood Jubel Early.

* * *

Soul crouched down in the shadows, only a few yards away from where Serenity’s shuttle sat. He had managed to stay out of sight all the way to his current position, or at least, he hoped that he had. Now all he had to do was figure out how he was going to get River Tam out of the shuttle. His solution came sooner than expected. The door to the shuttle slid open, and the big black man stepped into the opening. Soul could hear voices from inside the shuttle. “Hey Harvey, I thought the Captain said not to open the door until he returned?” That had to be Simon Tam’s voice. Harvey shook his head and spit out onto the dirt. “I just need some fresh air,” he replied, raising his hands above his head in a stretch away from the revolver tucked into his waistband. A perfect opportunity. Soul pulled his rifle off of his shoulder and took careful aim, but he found that he simply couldn’t get his finger to squeeze the trigger. I’m not a murderer anymore. Soul squeezed his eyes shut and lowered his rifle. He was doing this job because the lives of his wife and son were hanging in the balance. Even if he succeeded and brought River to Talos, would he deserve to have his family returned to him, a murderer once again? No. He couldn’t do it. There had to be another way. He looked over as Harvey began to lower his arms. Soul was losing his moment of opportunity. The solution flashed into Soul’s mind so fast that he barely had time to process it before he found himself racing across the dirt-covered tarmac. His heels kicking up dust, Soul pushed forward and dove at the surprised Harvey, ramming his shoulder into the larger man’s stomach and driving him back into the shuttle. They crashed into the far wall, and Soul felt Harvey sag beneath him, knocked out cold. Soul spun around, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the small remote that Talos had left him at the Ankara Penal Colony. Soul felt something strike the side of his head, so he kicked out hard, feeling his boot connect with something solid and hearing a yelp of pain. He turned his head as Simon Tam fell backwards into one of the benches. Simon smacked his head hard on the metal bench; it didn’t knock him out, but it did disorient him. Now all Soul needed to do was get to River Tam. He stood up quickly and spun towards the cockpit— As River Tam planted a boot in Soul’s face. The ex-Expendable felt the grit dig into his cheeks as River’s boot ground into his face. He lost his footing, and dropped to the floor. “Son of a--” Another kick caught him in his side and flipped him over. He hadn’t prepared for this kind of resistance, but he did have a failsafe. He looked up as River raised her foot, preparing to bring it down on him again; and he lifted the remote in his hand, his thumb depressing the button. Like a switch had been flipped, River Tam crumbled to the floor. “Good gorram!” Soul coughed, rolling himself over and getting to his feet. “You’ve got quite a kick there, girl.” River, of course, did not respond. Soul bent down, pocketed the remote, and lifted the girl in his arms, surprised at how light she was. He walked to the door and took one last glance back at Simon. The doctor and the mercenary stared at each other for a moment. “Don’t follow us,” Soul ordered. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I’ll do what I have to do.” With that, he stepped out of the shuttle and turned to the door controls. He shifted River in his arms, and pulled a small strip out of his pocket. Peeling one side off, he stuck the magnesium strip to the edge of the open door, and then peeled off the backing. He hit the controls to shut the door, and watched as the door hissed shut, closing on the magnesium strip and instantly sealing the door closed. “Come, River,” he said, turning towards the Tremor-class transport that he had arrived on Persephone in, currently sitting on the far edge of the tarmac. It was true, he didn’t want to hurt anyone, but his family lay in the middle of all of this. As he carried River across the dust, he whispered a silent prayer, asking for forgiveness. He had sworn to be a better man, but it seemed like once again, he was falling short. Was there no way out? They reached the small vessel, and for the first time, Soul noticed a name scrawled into the metal plating, almost too faded to read. Vengeance. That’s what it was all about, wasn’t it? River had been stolen from Talos, and now Soul was the pawn, acting out Talos’ revenge, and bringing back what had been stolen. Even if River Tam had never belonged to Damon Talos in the first place. A single tear traced its way down Soul’s cheek. This wasn’t him. Damn Talos. Damn him. He thought of his wife. I’m sorry, Layla. Then he thought of his son. God, Hoban, I am so sorry! With a final look over at Serenity’s shuttle, Soul opened the door to his own ship. He stepped inside, and let the door slide shut behind him.


Go to Chapter 8.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005 9:10 AM


Shiny story!

I loved how you revealed the origin of the series title 'Vengeance' here. I wondered why it was called that... Clever stuff!

Top marks again Soul. Loving this series to bits.

Favourite line:

“Palace?” Jayne said. “I’ve seen whore houses prettier than this place.”

100% Jayne Cobb. Made me laugh out loud. :D

Keep em coming! Can't wait to read more!!


Tuesday, June 21, 2005 10:03 AM


Excellent... as always.

The remote's effects truly surprised me.

Keep up the shiny work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 10:16 AM


Nice piece of storytelling. Waiting on Chapter 8 (which should be longer if you're taking requests)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 11:03 AM


Nice, curious what soul is going to do and can't wait till he meets his son.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 11:18 AM


How many more times do I get to tell you what a supershiny writer you are until it goes to your head?

Nice set up - Simon's going to go berzerk!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 11:08 PM


Wow, that's just... wow.
I could praise your pacing again, but I'd just be repeating myself. I liked River and Soul's fight.
Plus, the origin of the name of this part of the saga -- pure genius.

Friday, July 22, 2005 3:47 PM


Okay Soul, you promised a Chapter 8, so get writing! I must know how this all ends!

What are you doing? Stop reading, start writing! Right now! Go! Go now!!


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