Vengeance: Ch. 9 - Twists and Turns
Thursday, September 1, 2005

Badger shows his suprise, Soul sees a ghost, Wash makes a decision, and the twists keep coming as everyone edges further towards the inevitable showdown...


Persephone Eavesdown Docks

With a final spark, the door to Serenity’s shuttle two cracked open, the seal made by the magnesium strip having been seared apart by the flame from Jayne’s torch. A pry bar was jammed into the opening from the outside, and then joined by another from inside, and between the combined forces of Jayne and Harvey the door was forced open. “Fancy meetin’ you here, Jayne,” Harvey quipped as he stepped, blinking, into the sunlight. “What’s a brute like you doin’ in a trash heap like this?” “Gettin’ your ass free is what,” Jayne replied, hoisting the torch rig up onto one shoulder. “Where’s the Doc?” “Right here,” Simon replied, stepping through the opening, his face a mixture of anger and loss. He looked around. “Where’s the Captain?” “Mal’ll be around in a bit. He’s got some business to attend to.” “Business?” Simon asked. Jayne nodded. “You’ll see.” Opening his mouth to reply, Simon was cut off as a ship passed overhead, the roar of its engines making all talk impossible. Harvey looked up at the ship hovering overhead, and his jaw dropped in surprise. The ship was a Firefly, but the similarity between Serenity and this ship ended there. She looked brand new, but nearly every inch of her was covered with heavy protective plating. The port and starboard engines looked larger, and given the number of additions on the Firefly, it seemed that the engines would have had to be upgraded. Twin barrens poked out from underneath the bridge, rotating on hidden swivels. On either side of the cargo door, Harvey could see a pair of missile launchers slightly concealed behind movable plating. Along the underside were two doors on either side of the secondary hatch. Harvey could only guess what they concealed. The Firefly drifted a bit to the right, and began to settle to the ground. “Whoa,” was all that Harvey could say. Jayne snickered. “Nice, ain’t she?” Harvey nodded.

* * *

On Board Vengeance Somewhere in the Black

Soul found that he couldn’t speak as the ghost of his former friend walked into the room and sat in the copilot’s chair, so Alias Mantichorus spoke for him. “It’s been a while, huh?” “Yup,” Soul managed to say, still refusing to believe his eyes. Manti leaned forward. “So how have you been?” “Good.” “You know, we’re not gonna get anywhere with one-word answers like that.” “Yup.” Manti chuckled and shook his head. “Nice reception.” “Well,” Soul replied, finally having found his voice, “I wasn’t exactly expecting guests, at least not ones of the incorporeal variety.” “I’m not a ghost, man. I’m real. A bit out of place and out of time, but I’m real.” “How in the diyu did you get aboard?” Shrugging, Manti replied. “The hell if I know. I woke up back there in a Cryo bed. I gotta tell you, them things are cold!” “Yeah, I know. I woke up out of one of ‘em not too long ago myself.” Manti looked around the control room. “So how long exactly were we under? Nothin’ here is dated.” “Twenty five years,” Soul said, to which Manti replied with a stream of curses. “Twenty five ruttin’ years? Why the hell didn’t they just keep me in there?” “Why are you here, anyway?” Soul asked, his curiosity piqued. It was the most convenient timing in the world, as a blank look crossed Manti’s face, and his eyes snapped shut. Soul had seen this before, so he sat in silence. After a moment, Manti reopened his eyes, and dabbed a finger at a small trail of blood running from his nose. “Damn,” Manti said. “You would have thought they’d have fixed that.” “Vision?” Soul asked. “Yeah. At least I don’t pass out now, and I can sometimes call them up on command, like that one.” He leaned forward and hit a few buttons on the console, bringing up a map of the space in front of him. He tapped a point on the screen. “Avoid that area like the plague. Alliance fighters are doing practice runs out there with live ammo. We go that way, and we’re fair game for target practice.” “Thanks,” Soul said, adjusting his course. “So I guess that would be why you’re here, to make sure I get to Talos without any trouble, right?” Manti shrugged again. “I don’t even know who this Talos is. All I know is that I woke up here, and my brain is telling me that I’m supposed to be your watchdog. Do you even know where the hell it is you’re going?” “Not a clue. I was sent a set of coordinates, but when I got there, I was alone. Then I got a Wave with another set of coordinates, and another no-show. I think this is the fifth or sixth set I’ve been sent, and it’s starting to piss me off.” Manti nodded. “So,” he began, “Any chance you can fill me in on the last twenty five years?” Soul nodded. “It would seem like we have the time.”

* * *

On Board Serenity En-Route to Persephone

After setting the course back to Persephone and engaging the autopilot, Wash made a beeline back down to the Infirmary to be by his wife’s side. It was his new plan: to spend every waking (and sleeping, for that matter) moment by Zoe’s side. He was going to wait until she was better, until she was healthy enough, until they had Kaylee back, until everything was the way it was supposed to be, and then they were leaving Serenity. That was his decision, and for once he was going to stand up for himself, and for his wife. They deserved to be able to have a normal life, away from all the shooting and the torture. They should be able to have a family, and raise children, and not have to worry about asphyxiating themselves on a rusted boat out in the middle of nowhere. The only problem was Mal. Wash was sure that he could get Zoe to leave the ship, to leave the crew, but he knew that she would never leave Mal. As much as he hated it sometimes, Wash had to admit that without Zoe, Mal wouldn’t be able to stand on his own. Wash hated it sometimes, knowing that someone else relied on his wife as much, if not more, than he did. He paused in the hallway. What was he doing? Here he was, his wife clinging to life, crewmates missing, friends dead, and he was focusing on removing the one constant from his Captain’s life. He was being selfish. He had a good reason, though, right? Wash shook his head. He was arguing with himself again. The only thing he needed to be concerned about at the moment was his wife’s wellbeing. He started walking again, making his way down the stairs and into the cargo bay. He passed Etris and Rian, nodded to them, and stepped through the hatch towards the Infirmary, when the sound of voices reached him. He could see Gretta through the window talking with Book, both of them standing over Zoe with their backs turned to him. Wash walked further, but stopped dead in his tracks as soon as he could make out what they were saying. “So she’ll be okay?” Book asked. Gretta nodded. “They did a good job on her. Patched her up real well.” “And the baby?” Gretta turned and looked at him, one eyebrow raised. “How did you know about that?” Smiling softly, Book said, “I was in here when they brought her back. I heard them talking about her, and her baby.” Gretta shook her head, but grinned none-the-less. “The father is supposed to know before anyone else, but yes, she’s fine. It’s a miracle, really…” They continued talking, oblivious of Wash’s presence, but the pilot drowned out their words. Zoe. Pregnant. She. Wash realized, in the space of a few heartbeats, that he was going to be the father of a baby girl, and in that moment, his entire life changed. We are leaving. I am not going to raise my family here. I’m sorry Mal, but when this is all over, I have to take Zoe away.

* * *

On Board the Stealth Gunship Vapor Trail In the Black

It wasn’t a large control room, by any means, but it was big enough to fit six people comfortably. There were no lights, save for the glow coming from a bank of computer monitors that occupied one entire wall. On one of the screens, a short video played over and over again, the grainy images taken from a security camera outside of the Governor’s estate on Shadow. It displayed a showdown between a Reaver and a Companion, and the sudden life saving appearance by a Mercenary who threw herself into the line of fire from the Reaver, taking the bullet that was intended for the Companion and losing her life in the process. The video repeated from the moment the Mercenary entered the screen to the moment she died, until a slender finger reached out and stabbed a button, cutting the playback just as the Mercenary died again. “Tired of watching that?” a male voice asked. “I’m tired of watching myself die,” Elise Dyan replied, wincing as pain once again lanced through her stomach. “I’m sick of that other video, too, the one where I can see you flying Destiny into that Trans-U. Makes me sick.” Hesh Davoy chuckled inappropriately. “Lucky me, huh?” “Yeah, lucky that the escape capsule actually worked. I’m still surprised that no one found that hatch under your seat.” Destiny’s former crewmembers, one a pilot, the other a mercenary, were by all official records dead. Only three people knew otherwise. One was a doctor who had worked feverishly to revive Elise and patch her up. Another was a plastic surgeon posing as an Undertaker, who had taken Elise’s body from Etris, only to return to Destiny’s Captain another cadaver whose face had been made into a mirror image of Elise’s. The third man’s face swam into focus on one of the computer screens in front of Elise. “General,” Elise said, nodding. “I’m assuming that this Wave is secure?” “Narrowband, and highly encrypted, as always. I would think you would have more faith in me than that.” Behind Elise, Hesh spoke, a smile in his voice. “We’re dead, General Book. Dead people don’t have faith, do they?”

* * *

On Board the Armed Firefly Leaving Persephone

“I call ‘er Ass Kicker,” Badger said, proudly and matter-of-factly. Mal stared at him. “You’re kidding me, right?” “Ass Kicker,” Jayne laughed. “What do ya know, little man has a sense of humor after all.” “Ass Kicker,” Mal repeated. “You know, while I am grateful for this, not to mention a mite suspicious, couldn’t you have come up with a better name?” “She’s my ship, Reynolds, and I’ll name ‘er whatever I want,” Badger replied. “As far as my reasoning, let’s just say that you forced me to have a hand in this. Part o’ the bargain with the late Mister Early was an avoidance of a certain bit o’ information getting to the proper authorities. Now while I don’t mind him dead, him not being alive puts me in a hard place. This employer o’ his is now in possession of some fairly incriminating information that could shut down my business for good. There’s no way I can let that happen.” “I could,” Jayne remarked with a sneer. Badger glared at him. “The only reason you’re here is because your Captain won’t let me throw you out the airlock.” Mal stifled a laugh and turned to where Harvey was plotting a course. “How are we looking?” “I sent Serenity a Wave with a rendezvous point. Well meet ‘em there in about thirty minutes or so.” “Did they say anything about Zoe?” “All I got back was a confirmation Wave. Sorry.” Mal sighed deeply and ran a hand through his hair. Despite his laughter a moment earlier, his mind and his heart were going through the worst turmoil since Serenity Valley. Not just because Kaylee, and now River had been taken, but also because he had failed, both as a Captain and a friend. Kaylee looked up to him, like he was a father figure or something. River, for reasons only she knew, seemed to admire him, but Mal couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t like he was some upstanding citizen; he was a criminal, given, one with a bit of an honor code, but a still a criminal. Mal shook his head. Most things in his life failed to make sense any more.

* * *

The Infirmary on board the Ass Kicker was well stocked, more so than Simon had ever managed on board Serenity. It was like Badger had repeated their job on Ariel and stolen an equal amount of medical supplies and kept them all for himself. Simon stood in the middle of the room, turning slowly as he gazed upon a medical set up that rivaled some of the most expensive emergency rooms back on Osiris. If he had had this setup when Zoe was shot… He let the thought trail off in his head without finishing it. Gretta and him had done their best and more to patch up Zoe, and instead of letting himself think that he hadn’t done enough, he instead chose to believe that Zoe wouldn’t be alive had it not been for the combined efforts of both Doctors. His only prayer now was that the Alliance Doctors could finish what he had started, and that Zoe’s baby would make it through as well. Simon couldn’t bear having to tell Wash that his daughter had died before she was born. A wet cough from the examination table brought him out of his thoughts and back to the present. Simon turned to where Anne, the girl from Shadow who had helped in the kidnapping of Kaylee, lay strapped to the table, and he felt a sudden rush of rage race through his body. He could picture himself grabbing a surgical blade and shoving it through the heart of the girl on the table, making her pay for…for what? Wasn’t a shotgun blast to the chest enough? He was a Doctor after all, not a murderer, and he had no reason to entertain such thoughts. He mentally chastised himself. He loved Kaylee, that much was simple. What would she think if he became a murderer? “Where…” Simon immediately broke into what Jayne called “Doc Mode” when he heard Anne speak. At the same time, warning sirens were blaring in his head, reminding him that the girl on the table had a tendency to get inside people’s heads. A bit like River, huh? He paused as Anne’s eyes fluttered open, and noticed for the first time how young the girl really was. About River’s age. It was something he hadn’t noticed before, instead choosing to view the girl as a dangerous killer, nothing more. Now… “You’re safe,” Simon said. “It’s okay now.” Anne looked up at him. Her eyes seemed to take a moment to focus, but then they settled on him. “You’re…Simon Tam.” “I’m--” flash “Simon!” River moaned from the table, straining against the straps holding her down. “You have to let me go, you’re not safe!” Simon grabbed his sister’s arm to calm her, but it felt different— flash Anne coughed, and Simon stumbled backwards, crashing into the cabinets behind him. He reached out to one of the drawers, desperately searching for a tranquilizer— flash “Simon, please! Let me go!” River screamed, her voice piercing Simon’s brain. Simon leapt for the bed, forgetting the open drawer. “River, calm down. I’m sorry, but I can’t let you go. You might hurt yourself--” flash In another fit of coughing, Anne’s concentration was broken and Simon fell backwards again. This time he dove straight for the drawer, his fingers closing around the package containing the hypodermic needle. He ripped off the protective cover, and turned back to Anne, inserting the needle into her arm and depressing the plunger even as— flash “Simon…” River whispered— flash “What in the diyu is goin’ on? Mal yelled as he ran through the doorway. Simon stepped back slowly from Anne’s unconscious body. “She woke up.”

* * *

On Board Serenity In the Black

They were all crowded into the Bridge as the other Firefly approached, save for Gretta, staying with Zoe in the Infirmary, and Book, who was in his bunk. No one spoke at first as the Ass Kicker approached, but Tark couldn’t help but grin as he saw the other Firefly. “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” he shouted. Beside him, Etris grinned as well. “You know, I’m thinking that we might actually be able to accomplish something now.”

* * *

Forty-five minutes and several shuttle trips later, the crew of Destiny was once again aboard their own ship, plus one grouchy middleman. The docking of two Firefly’s in space was a fairly impossible maneuver, so Mal opted instead to transfer the various crewmembers through the use of the Ass Kicker’s starboard shuttle, made even easier with the fact the Serenity’s own starboard shuttle was still down on Persephone with a door that just wouldn’t seal anymore. Badger initially threw a fit about the transfer of crew, shouting that since the Ass Kicker was his ship, he should have a say in who flew it. In the end, Mal and Etris talked him down, but the middleman was still fuming when the shuttle docked for the final time. On board Serenity, Mal stood beside Wash, his hand on the pilot’s shoulder. “So where are we headed?” Wash asked. “Harvey says that they’re ready to go, and that all of their crew is aboard.” Mal started to speak, but was cut off as Book entered the bridge, holding out a small computer wafer. “What’s this?” Mal asked, taking the wafer. “It’s a signal,” the Shepherd said. “If you follow it, I believe it should lead you to our two lost lambs.”

* * *

On Board Vengeance Somewhere in the Black

“What in the good gorram is that?” Soul asked, rising to his feet and staring out the viewscreen. Beside him, Manti stood as well. “Big ship,” he commented. “Yup.” “Don’t start that again.” “That ship is dead center of the latest set of coordinates,” Soul said, lowering his eyes to examine one of the computer screens. He looked up again slowly. “I think that’s our stop.” The comm blared to life, a female voice shrilly calling out their docking procedures. Soul complied, and pointed the ship towards a very large set of doors just below the massive black bow. As he did, another voice spoke out from the speakers. “Thank you, my friend,” Talos said, his deep voice seeming to vibrate the speakers. “You have fulfilled your part of the bargain, now I will fulfill mine. Come, and receive your reward.”


Go to Chapter 10.


Thursday, September 1, 2005 11:00 AM


Whoa... there's all kindsa stuff goin' on here... Shiny.

Thursday, September 1, 2005 11:03 AM


Woa... I mean... just... woa.

Thursday, September 1, 2005 12:31 PM


Hmm, a mite spooky in places and all feels as if it is building up to a shattering climax. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, September 2, 2005 2:14 AM


Whoah... Very, very nice!

The character voices were really strong, and the action/drama was nicely paced too. Really solid stuff!

I loved the part where Badger revealed the name of his new ship. :D 100% Badger!

Looking forward to Chapter 10! Keep it coming! Supershiny work!

- Cos.

Monday, September 12, 2005 10:27 PM


Well, it looks like I'm back. Great story, and great dialogue. But wouldn't Badger have called it the "Arse Kicker"?

"Don't start that again."

Friday, March 5, 2010 11:18 AM


I'm fairly certain that I "jumped the gun" with this chapter...


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