Point of No Return, Part IX
Sunday, July 3, 2005

He's lost everything and everyone he's ever loved. Now he's faced with a choice: resist the urge for blood and rebuild his life, or descend deeper into that black madness, beyond the point of no return...


Disclaimer: This story is in no way meant to infringe on the rights of Joss Whedon, Universal Studios, Mutant Enemy, or 20th Century Fox. Just wanted to have a bit of fun with these characters is all. Please don’t sue me.

Thanks for reading. Feedback is always welcome. Oh, and if you’re gonna archive this, please have the courtesy to ask me first.

Rated PG-13 for violence, graphic descriptions, and a few Chinese cuss words.

“Point of No Return, Part IX”

***** *****

Everything was gone. He had come into the light, but everything began to tremble and a moment later it was all gone. He was plunged once again into the blackness, even deeper than before.

“Come back…you have to come back…”

Her voice was more faint than ever. Sunyi…Wei…He strained to see their faces, but they were too far away, fading fast in the dark.

Only It was left. Its voice was strongest, drawing him ever closer to…he wasn’t sure, but he was lost. And afraid. And he couldn’t go back. He’d reached the point of no return. There was nothing more to do than surrender himself completely.


Zoe’s silence was intense. Jayne glanced over to try to read her stony expression, but he couldn’t penetrate the stoic mask that fit tightly over her emotions. He never saw the fear that swelled in her throat, only the characteristic furrowed brow she made when she was angry or in deep thought. He gave up and turned back to the view before them.

After an hour of searching, they’d finally found Serenity, not too far out from where they’d first left her. She was spinning sideways in space, reminding Kaylee of the derelict they’d run across months ago. The ship was no longer moving under her own power. Electricity was gone; they could see that all the lights were out. The engine was still turning, though, and that meant life support was still online, likely running on auxiliary power. That was good. Serenity turned to reveal the scorches of Hera’s storms on her belly. Mal winced.

“We’re going in,” he finally said over the radio. “I need you to wait here till —”

“I’m going, too.”

“No, you ain’t. You’ll wait till we get Serenity stabilized, and—”

“Like hell I will,” she forced, then added, “Sir.”

“Zoe,” Mal said slowly, acknowledging her concern, “We don’t know what’s going on. No sense in all of us winding up dead if something dangerous is over there.”

“Never stopped us before,” came Zoe’s reply.

Mal thought about that a moment. She was right about that for sure. Besides, even though she usually backed his decisions, once the woman’s mind was set on a thing only a ruttin’ fool would challenge her on it.

The captain conceded. “We’ll have to match her speed and rotation while trying to dock manually. Think you can do it?”

He should have known better than to ask. Shuttle 2 was already rolling over like a lazy puppy, keeping time with the Firefly’s rhythm as it steadily approached. Mal, less confident in his flying skills, opted to wait for Serenity to turn right-side up before attaching Shuttle 1 to her hull. Kaylee held her breath as she heard the dull thud of the docking clamps secure them to the ship. Mal powered the shuttle down, and immediately felt an odd, floaty sensation.

Damn! Shoulda strapped in, he thought before smacking his head into the roof. Kaylee smiled at the sight in spite of her fear. Mal made a face at her and she straightened up.

“Um…grav couple’s prob’ly got knocked loose,” she said as she rose weightless from her seat.

“Best you get on that, then,” Mal said, “Right after you get us moving.”

“Yes, sir,” Kaylee said, denying her fear.

Mal swam to the doorway and opened it. He felt like he was about to throw up. Never did care much for floating around like a jing chang meiyong de piece of trash. He looked around, straining to see in the darkness. He could make out some boxes, some tools that had been laying around now roaming freely in the emptiness. A bright light suddenly stung him in the eyes.

“Mal!” Jayne said. “What the hell’s goin’ on?”

“You mind lowering that torch just a little bit?”


“Here, Captain,” Zoe tossed him a flashlight.

“Jayne, you help Kaylee in the engine room. Zoe, try to round up everyone else in the galley. I’ll check out the bridge.”

And with that they split up.

“Shen sheng de gao wan,” said the mechanic as she surveyed the mess that was the engine room. She sighed and rolled up her sleeves.

Jayne groaned.


The captain opened the door to the bridge and cussed. Part of the room had been destroyed. Paneling was torn off to expose sensitive wiring. A couple of the lockers had been knocked over and were now floating precariously about the room. Several monitors were broken, including communications and security.

Mal was taking in all this damage when he felt a wet droplet strike his cheek. He wiped it off with the back of his hand and looked. Blood. He tilted his head up and saw a wispy red trail leading to the body of a man.


The pilot was utterly still, drifting lifelessly through Serenity’s null gravity. Mal went to him, checking him to see where he was injured. Wash was bleeding from his left arm, and there was an ugly bruise on the side and back of his neck. Mal felt his neck for a pulse. Not dead. Yet. The captain snatched the first aid kit from its hiding place and hastily wrapped Wash’s arm. His skin was ice cold. Mal started to remove his coat.

“It’s too late,” a weak voice said from…somewhere. “He’s already gone.”

Mal swung his light around. Damn River. What was she up to now? Prob’ly thinks this is —

“…Some kinda game?” she finished his thought aloud. “It ain’t. Less it’s hide ‘n’ go seek.” She mimicked Mal’s accent to the hilt. “He’s It.” There was something in the way she said the words that told Mal she wasn’t playing after all. She was as serious as could be, trying to tell him something, warn him of something, the only way she knew how. The only way she understood.

Even so, he wasn’t in much of a mood for her ruttin’ riddles. “What happened to the ship?” he asked as he wrapped his warm brown coat around Wash’s motionless body.

“Tried to hide and got lost in the dark,” she said cryptically. She wasn’t talking about Serenity, but her real meaning was lost on Mal.

He gave up questioning her. Wasn’t likely to get a straight answer out of her anyway. Better to give her something to do. He motioned her over. “Help me strap him down to keep him safe.”

She obeyed, swimming over and grabbing the unconscious pilot’s legs. Together they buckled him into a chair (good thing the furniture on the bridge was fastened to the ground). As she fastened the buckle River’s hand brushed the edge of Mal’s coat.

— In a white flash, she’s transported to another time and place. A ship, but not Serenity. An alarm is going off. She’s running, lost. People are chasing her. She sees Monty ahead trying to open the escape hatch. A man tries to stop her. Alliance. Medical. She pulls the trigger, no time to think. He’s got three kids. Monty waves her over and she tries to follow, but there’s the woman from earlier. She’s got a gun. River shoots again and the woman falls. It’s raining upside dOwn. It’s niGHt, dark, and she’s blind. It’s cAlling hER, It wants to Use her. She tRiEs to ignore It, buT Her family is deAd —

“Oh no.”

Mal looked at River. “What now?”

A tear rolled down her cheek. “Hide ‘n’ go seek,” she said, mournfully. “Found you.”


Zoe checked the cargo bay first. Plenty of places there for a body to hide, but she found no one. She turned and headed for the infirmary. She knew it wasn’t like the doctor could have done much good in the dark, but it didn’t hurt to look. She went to check the passenger quarters, but the door was stuck. Lock must’ve jammed. She banged on it hard.

Inside, Book raised his head, straining his eyes to see in the darkness. Through the small window he saw Zoe’s light. He pushed off against the wall and sailed over to the door.

“Preacher,” Zoe shouted through the door so he could hear, “You alright?”

“I’m fine,” the shepherd shouted back. “The doctor’s out. He fell pretty hard.”

“Where’s the others?”

“Wash was on the bridge. I don’t know where River is.”

Zoe heard a small whisk behind her. She turned sharply, shining her light down the hallway, but she saw nothing.

“Help me open the door.”

They tried to pry the portal apart from each side, but it refused to budge.

“Hang on, I’ll get something,” Zoe said.

Book suddenly noticed a small gleam in the background her as a spidery figure emerged from the shadows above.

“Look out!” he cried, but it was too late. Zoe turned as the dark shaped descended upon her. The air rushed from her lungs all at once as the whatever-it-was hit her squarely in the stomach. Her torch slipped out of her hand. She was against the wall now, gasping as cold hands wrapped tightly around her neck. Zoe brought up her knee forcefully, making sharp contact with her assailant’s groin. Not waiting to catch her breath, she threw all her weight into a swing of her left fist. The blow connected with flesh, and she felt the creature move away from her. She looked around but could see nothing. She was blinded by the darkness. Zoe gathered enough breath to make another wild swing, but this time her knuckles met only bare metal. She grunted in pain. A strong kick to the small of her back sent her crashing headlong into the bulkhead, and her crumpled figure floated unconscious down the hallway.

Book tugged at the door in frustration, unable to see in the black and powerless to help. Zoe’s flashlight hung in midair. He could still sense its presence, lurking, just beyond that sealed door. Fear took root in his mind. He felt the sweat on his palms as he pressed them together.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the old man began, “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort —”

An evil face suddenly slammed against the thick door window. Book jumped. It let out a chilling hiss, and then it faded into the shadows as quickly as it had come, its glinting brown eye disappearing into blackness.


Mal was having a hard time trying to reroute the primary systems from the main conduit. The idea was to not have the system overload itself all at once when electricity came back online. He mopped the sweat off his brow and kept working, wishing Wash would hurry up and come around. He couldn’t call Kaylee for help because the comm system was out. River hadn’t said a word in several minutes, keeping just still enough to hold the flashlight in place for him to see what the hell he was doing. The captain looked at her out of the corner of his eye. She looked…distant.

“What’s up, little River?” he felt compelled to ask.

“In the land of the blind,” she answered.

He knew the saying. From long ago. “We ain’t blind,” he closed the panel. “We each got two good eyes apiece and a workin’ torch, so you don’t…”

“No we don’t,” she interrupted.

Before he could ask what the hell she meant, the flashlight flickered.

“Gorram it,” he cussed as the last bit of light died away and left them in near complete darkness with only the gloomy starlight for company.

“Um, okay then,” Mal sighed. “Stay here with Wash. I’m gonna go check on Kaylee and…”

“No, don’t!” River pleaded. “Not safe. Prey…”

“Pray?” Mal raised an eyebrow. “Best leave the prayin’ to the shepherd.”

River shook her head vehemently. That’s not what she meant. The words were not her own. She was being interrupted. It was hard to find the right words. It was getting too crowded.

They were coming back!

River tugged desperately at Mal. He pulled away and went out into the hall.

“Stay here!” he ordered as he pushed the door closed behind him. He then turned to head for the galley. There was nothing but silence as he made his way down the empty corridor.

He could feel the emptiness as he entered the dining area. The crew would surely have gathered here by now. Something wasn’t right.

There was a low bumping sound off to his left. “Zoe? Jayne?” he called as he flew towards it, one hand on his pistol, pulling himself along the wall with the other. He inched closer until he felt the opening where he’d heard the sound.

“Preacher? Doc? That you?”


Mal put the gun away. The ship suddenly lurched with a loud CHK-CLNNG and steady hum. The lights flickered once, then burned steady. Serenity was back online. The captain smiled, glad that he had the best mechanic in the ‘verse flying with his crew…

Suddenly he was tumbling forward. He rolled over and scrambled to his feet. Before he could fully react, the dark shape was upon him, thin limbs outstretched like a monstrous spider, its dark eye flashing with hate.

Mal drew his gun, but a swift claw sent it clattering away. The creature then brought its hand back across Mal’s face hard. The captain went spinning backward toward the kitchen. He grabbed the edge of the counter to steady himself. His attacker leapt again, but this time Mal put up both legs as it came, planting his feet firmly into its midsection. It backed away, and for the first time Mal was able to see clearly into his opponent’s face.


The young man sprang forward again. Mal pushed off and jumped straight into the air as Kai sailed under him. Mal twisted and made his way to the table. Kai grabbed several dishes and hurled them at him.

“All dead because of you!” the boy screamed. “Ruttin’ war! Ruttin’ Browncoats! Ruttin’ Alliance! Ruttin’ Reavers!” Kai winced at the pain. The memories still hurt and the voices were getting louder. Her voice was fading, drowning out. He banged his fists against his temples. “Leave me the hell alone!”

Mal took cover under the table. What did the war have to do with –

Hide ‘n’ go seek, he remembered River saying. He’s It. Found you.

He suddenly understood.

“People die in war,” Mal called, trying to calm the little Reaver down as his mind raced. “You and I both lost folk we cared about. Guess we got that in common.” Mal raised his hands and slowly got up from his hiding place, turning to face the creature eye to eye.

Kai trembled on the verge of tears. “You hear It too?”

Mal nodded. “Me too. But that don’t mean we have to carry it with us always.”

The boy put his hands to his face in confusion. HE LIES, It said to him. I AM ALWAYS WITH YOU. USE ME NOW!

Kai yelled in a voice that was not his own, and suddenly launched himself across the room, spinning, wielding two large cooking knives. Mal slid under the table and popped up on the other side. Kai tossed one of the blades, missing his mark by less than an inch. Mal went for the pistol, but felt a sharp shock dig into his left shoulder.

Kai twisted the knife as his victim howled in pain. He wanted to savor his kill; this wasn’t just any prey. Through River’s eyes, he had seen his parents fall. He died their deaths and the deaths of his sister and brother again and again at the hands of this man he once called “alpha,” the man who was now at his mercy.

Mal drove a hard elbow into Kai’s stomach, then turned and gave him a right uppercut that sent him sprawling. But by the time he snatched the knife out of him, Kai was on him again, wrestling him with surprising strength. He gave Mal a quick chop to the throat and took the knife back. Mal drifted, gasping, bleeding, and beaten. Kai raised his weapon, fully intent on completing his revenge. Mal closed his eyes…

…but the final blow never came. He looked up. Kai hesitated.


He blinked.


Kai lowered the knife.


And then a single shot rang out. The boy flew backward, bloody, and crashed into the wall behind him.

Mal looked around to see Zoe floating around the corner, keeping her trusty carbine trained on the Reaver’s crumpled form.

“Took you long enough,” Mal coughed.

“I was taking a nap,” Zoe cracked a half-smile. Kai stirred. She cocked her weapon.

“Don’t,” said Mal, regaining his breath. “Tie him, but don’t kill him.”

“A moment ago he was about to end you,” she said in all seriousness. “What makes you think he won’t try again?”

“Cuz this ain’t the land of the blind,” he said, patting his friend on the shoulder.

Zoe frowned. He was starting to sound like River.


“Hold steady, Jayne!”

“Damn it, girl, you try to hold steady in Zero G!”

Kaylee rolled her eyes. “Just hold me steady a few more seconds, and we won’t be in Zero G anymore.”

“Pian zhi de jiu cha yuan…”

“Less talking, more steady,” Kaylee stuck out her tongue as she slowly twisted the last coupling in place. As she did, she felt herself sink slowly into the big man’s arms. “Just a little more…” she muttered, and snapped the conduit in place. Jayne bounced, glad to finally feel his weight on his feet. Kaylee hugged him happily as he helped her down, then ran off toward the bridge to find the Cap’n. When she got to the galley she noticed the smears of blood on the walls and the dining table.

“Wo de tian, a!” She quickened her pace to the bridge.

The place was a mess. Kaylee noted the grim expression on everyone’s faces, looking from Book to Simon as he inspected Wash’s wounds, to River, then Zoe and finally Mal.

“What’s the mat…” her voice trailed off as she looked out the window.

They were out in the middle of nowhere. Crippled. Defenseless.

Nose to nose with the Reaver ship.


Sunday, July 3, 2005 4:10 PM


Nice, reaver ship huh? This should be interasting.

Monday, July 4, 2005 8:09 AM


*Wode ma* this was ultra terrific and more than a mite creepifying! Very good and just begging for the next part. Please let Wash be okay! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, September 26, 2005 6:21 AM


Yikes. What a roller coaster. You're a fiend, you know that, right?

OMG - when River said "Found you" I was nearly crying with her. Everything seemed so bleak and hopeless at that point.

Excellent fight sequences, but it's the turning points you do so well. Hmm - ergo the series title, eh?

Brilliant. Applause

Only one more chapter. sulk


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Heart & Soul, Part II
Book is visited by a mysterious man from his past and gets in a fight. Meanwhile Inara, ever calm, ever graceful, finds herself on the raggedy edge.

Heart & Soul, Part I
Mal's trying to adjust. Inara's trying to adjust. Book's journey takes him in an unexpected direction. And someone ends up dead.

Play It Again, Tam
The doctor reveals a hidden talent that touches Mal in a way he didn't think possible. A one-shot.

Point of No Return X, The Conclusion
Serenity is disabled, left without communication, and cornered by the Reaver ship. The only way out is for a member of the crew to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Point of No Return, Part IX
He's lost everything and everyone he's ever loved. Now he's faced with a choice: resist the urge for blood and rebuild his life, or descend deeper into that black madness, beyond the point of no return...

Point of No Return, Part VIII
A bad situation becomes desperate. Kai relives his troubled past, and Wash takes a dangerous risk. Plus: Mal and Monty's great escape.

Point of No Return, Part VII
The crew take on a new job, thanks to Jubal Early. Book gives Simon a helping hand in his investigation; Kaylee and Mal find themselves in a deadly situation; and Wash realizes they're not alone.

Point of No Return, Part VI
The day that Inara has been dreading for weeks finally arrives. Simon can't understand the connection between his sister and the Reaver, and the controversy continues over Serenity's newest crew member. Plus: River gives Mal a startling prediction.

Point of No Return, Part V
Jayne's plan backfires big-time; Kaylee is rescued by an unlikely hero with a troubled past; Book and Wash have words; and Mal considers a change of heart.

Point of No Return, Part IV
Simon tries to figure out River's relationship with his newest patient; Mal has a hard time trying to figure Inara out; and a simple job goes south in a hurry.