Diplomatic Immunity, Part 10: Two By Two
Monday, November 14, 2005

The Tam Estate is attacked. River loses a fight. Jayne wins one.


Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, except for Amos Sanders, General Liu, David, and Darielle, who are mine. Mainly because I haven't the courage to stick in a Mary Sue. Also because Joss is awesome. Will continue to live vicariously through Mal. *******************************

Note: Diplomatic Immunity, plus Our Co-Pilot Tam, is now my NanoWrimo submission.

******************************* This is Chapter 10 of the story that began here:

Part 1

and continued here:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5 Part 6

Part 7

Part 8 Part 9

and is a continuation of Our Co-Pilot Tam, which can be found here *************************************

She was pretty, blonde, full of energy and smiles, excited to be there. She decorated the walls of their room with bright posters, and said “shiny” a lot. She would skip when she ran, and liked to dance as well. She and River would clear all the furniture to one side of their room and dance together all night. * River placed a white stone on the board, surrounding seven of Zoe's pieces. Quietly, she removed them from the board as Zoe took up another black piece. “Well played,” Zoe said, studying the board. “Thanks,” said River. “I used to love wei chi. I haven't played it in a very long time.” “Well, you're still beating the guay out of me,” Zoe replied. * She was the first one on their hall to be taken. They brought her back that night, two of the blue-gloved attendants. She was quiet, subdued, didn't say hi to River or anyone else, just curled up in her bed. River knew she was weeping without looking. After that night, she never danced with River again. * “Alive,” River said, placing a stone one intersection away from the corner. “Whew.” Zoe nodded, fingering a black stone, and placed it to cut off another of River's groups. River attacked at another part of the line, forcing her way through and cutting off one of Zoe's stones. “You're too good,” Zoe said. “I think you've got me.” “You've still got a chance,” River replied, looking intently at the board. * She tried to escape, several times. Once, she even made it out of the building, but the moon had not been terraformed for atmosphere, and she was caught stealing a suit. They held her all night, then, and brought her back in the morning, and then took River away to the lab. When River returned, all her things were gone. River never had another roommate. * River reached out to place a stone and dropped it. The stone skittered across the board, breaking cleanly into two pieces. River held her head and lowered it to her knees. “What's wrong?” Zoe asked. “They're here,” River whispered. “I can hear them.” “Who's here?” asked Zoe, reaching for her gun. “Puppets,” said River, getting up and sitting on her bed. “Puppets with strings. They don't know how to break them. Their minds are closed. Empty.”

River saw her once after that, being wheeled into the lab. She didn't recognize River, and River didn't have the chance to do more than wave. A week later, the men came and made River sleep, and she awoke in the cargo bay of Serenity. River never thought of her again, forgetting her as she forgot the Academy, except in terror-filled dreams where reality and madness blurred. * The door opened suddenly, flying all the way to the wall. “Mal?” Zoe said, looking up from the game. “Not Mal,” River said, getting to her feet. The figure in the doorway was dressed in a black suit, with blue gloves covering small hands, and blonde hair pulled back into a sharp bun. “Hello, Darielle,” River said. “Hello, River,” Darielle responded. “What are you doing here?” “This is my house,” said River. “What do you want?” “To warn your brother,” said Darielle in an even tone. “He should leave well enough alone. Now where is he?” “He's not here,” said River. “What in gorram hell is going on?” Zoe asked, rising to her feet. “You are lying,” said Darielle in the same even tone. “I won't let you bother him,” replied River. “It's a shame it had to come to this,” said Darielle. “Eta kun nas me!” River fell unconscious.


Jayne got off the floor and oriented himself. The Tams' living room was on fire, flames pouring from between the thick wooden beams of the ceiling and enveloping the walls. An explosion had taken out most of the windows and the thin wall separating the stairway from the living room. The stairway wasn't afire yet, so he made his way toward that. Simon and Gabriel, or River and Zoe, must upstairs and could need help. A figure appeared on the stairs as he reached the bottom. In the smoky dark he couldn't tell who it was. “Simon?” he called up. “Zoe? River?” The figure leapt down the stairs, foot smashing into his chest and sending him flying back into the cabinets under the windows. “None of 'em?” he muttered, sliding painfully on broken glass to fetch up by the liquor cabinet, shattering its doors. He began to struggle to his feet, but the figure was standing before him, fumbling with something in its hands, which Jayne just now noticed were sheathed in bright blue gloves. “I'm sorry,” it said in an even voice. “Your friend should have kept to himself,” and a loud humming filled Jayne's ears. He could feel his blood throbbing in his head, and tricking down his nose. After a moment, he tasted it in his mouth, along with a searing headache. His heart was beating louder and louder, faster and faster, blood beginning to pump out of the scratches on his legs. “No!” he cried, reaching into the liquor cabinet. His hand, already wet with blood from his fingernails, closed on a bottle of something. He drew it out, swinging it in a wide arc to shatter against the Blue Hand's wrist. The device went flying, along with a spray of flaming alcohol, one spark setting the Blue Hand's hair ablaze. The Blue Hand stepped backwards, trying to brush out the fire. Jayne rose and in one smooth motion smashed the broken neck-end of the bottle into the Blue Hand's face, then followed up with a punch to the gut. The Blue Hand doubled over, then grabbed his foot as he kicked at his face, pulling him off balance and into the back of a chair. Groaning, Jayne got to his feet in time to block a swift kick, but was too slow to return the favor. Bits of flaming wood were falling from the ceiling, one causing his jacket to smolder. The Blue Hand readied a strike, then looked back for a moment at his device on the floor. That was all it took—Jayne launched himself forward with one punch, taking the Blue Hand in the jaw and snapping his head back. The Blue Hand fell hard against another chair, coming to rest with head lying at an unnatural angle. Jayne checked him—dead, neck broken. He looked young, not at all like the first two. He left him there, striding over to the device, which he crushed beneath his heel, then to the liquor cabinet. “Can't let this go to waste,” he said, pulling out a bottle and taking a swig, before arming himself with another full bottle and dumping the rest out the window. “It'll all go up when the house does,” he said to himself, and moved back to the stairs with a look at the fallen Blue Hand. “Easier than I thought it'd be,” he muttered, taking the stairs two at a time. He heard voices down the hall, arguing. Not Simon and Gabriel, women's voices. The first door he broke down was Gabriel's bedroom suite, empty and as yet unravaged by the fire. He resisted the urge to plunder it and moved on to Simon's old room, also empty. The next room, the bathroom. The voices rose louder, and were stopped by a thump and a loud crash. Forgetting the other rooms, Jayne hurried toward the source of the shouting, the last room at the end of the hall. Setting aside his bottle, he drew his pistol, already hot from the fire in the living room, and pressed his ear against the door. There was another loud crash and the sound of broken glass, and the sounds of fighting ceased. The door opened suddenly, and Jayne righted himself just in time to avoid falling onto River. River smiled up at him, blood tricking from her nose and framing her face. “Are you enjoying my family reunion?” she asked.


Darielle stepped over her body and approached Zoe. With one swift kick she sent Zoe's gun flying through the window. She reached out, grasping Zoe's wrists, and drew her to the bed, pushing her to sit down against the wall. “Where is Simon Tam?” she asked. “I don't know,” said Zoe. “Get your gorram hands off me!” She wrenched free of Darielle and made to push her out of the way, but Darielle was too fast and hammered a fist into Zoe's solar plexus. Zoe collapsed back onto the bed. “I will kill you,” Darielle said emotionlessly. “I'm not in the mood for games.” “They haven't come back yet,” Zoe gasped. “'Least they haven't come up here.” Darielle glared back at her for a moment, then nodded. “You don't know.” She reached into her pocket and drew out a small device, unfolding a blue cylinder from each end. “I'll have to kill you anyway,” she said. “You've seen her.” Zoe gestured to River's body, on the floor. “She's seen a lot of people,” she said. “You going to kill them all?” “It is necessary,” replied Darielle. “Necessary?” asked Zoe. “That's completely fong luh. You go back and tell your employers--” “Keep talking,” said Darielle. “Simon Tam will not escape us.” She fixed Zoe with an impassive glare, and asked “What do you think is going to happen here?” Zoe shrugged. “River'll get up and kick your pi-gu?” Darielle flew into the air, her feet cut out from under her, as River delivered a leg-sweep and stood up. “How?” asked Darielle breathlessly, rising to her knees. “The Doctors don't know everything,” River replied, kicking her in the stomach. An explosion rocked the house, sending River off balance and making her second attack miss as Darielle rose to standing. River retreated to the door, recovering her balance, as Darielle followed. She aimed a punch at Darielle, who caught her and threw her against the wall, stepping in for the kill. River lashed out with a foot, catching Darielle mid-step and hurling her into the antique side-table, which broke apart with a crunch. Then she was on her, and the two Academy students rolled over one another, trying to grip the other's throat. Darielle slammed River's head down onto the wei chi board, sending stones flying, but River countered by twisting up to plant her knee in Darielle's kidney and roll herself on top. Darielle smashed her forehead into River's nose and got up. River swiftly followed her, rushing at her, but Darielle stepped to the side, ramming River head first into the window. A shard of glass sent blood trickling past River's ear, but she turned around unbowed to face Darielle. “You're good,” said Darielle. “I always did love to dance,” replied River. Darielle feinted, then aimed a punch at River's battered face. River anticipated the move, grabbing Darielle's arm and throwing her over her shoulder and through the window. Darielle fell thirty feet in a spray of glass, bouncing off the first-floor eaves to land in a heap on the lawn. River brushed the blood from her cheek and strode over to the door, opening it to reveal Jayne, pistol in hand, with crusted blood under his nose, eyes, and fingernails. “Are you enjoying my family reunion?” she asked.


The morning dawned grey and cold, echoing the mood of the eight people seated around Serenity's dinner table. They all wore their clothes from the previous night, and none had slept more than an hour or two. Jayne looked half dead, with deep bruises running down his cheeks and fingers. River, sitting beside Mal and holding his hand under the table, had a long bandage covering the side of her face that had been pushed through the window. Simon, leaning on the table next to Kaylee, looked half dead from having spent the night bandaging River's cuts and treating Jayne's internal bleeding. Outside, the servants were walking the fire marshals through what remained of the house. The entire living room was gone, as were the kitchens and the rooms above them. The furnace had exploded, and only the house's strong stone foundations had kept River and Gabriel's rooms from collapsing into the first floor. The attic was gone as well, from water damage incurred in putting out the fire. “It was the Academy, we're sure?” Mal asked. “Darielle asked me where Simon was,” River said. “She was my friend there, until no one was. She was sent to dissuade him from running for Parliament. The Academy fears us.” “Of course it fears us,” Gabriel added. “Now that it no longer has Parliament to keep it above the law. Do we have any proof that it was them?” Zoe nodded. “The woman...Darielle, was it? She escaped, but the one Jayne killed is still in the living room.” “Good,” Gabriel replied. “I'll have the fire marshals take care of that, and have an autopsy done on it.” “Him,” said River. “I knew him too. He was named David. He was from Ariel—I didn't think he'd make it through the program.” “These were your fellow...students?” asked Inara. “Yes,” River replied. “They are what I was to become. Puppets, with no minds. No way to break their strings.” “And they've got an army of those things?” Jayne said. “Tyen shiao de, where do we hide?” “We don't hide, we fight,” said Gabriel. “I've got a court date tomorrow on the negligence charges I filed. We'll get some answers starting then.” “Don't you think we're a bit beyond that stage?” Inara said. “They burned down your house. Clearly they have no respect for the law.” “We can't fight them face to face,” Mal said. “They ever figure out how to send more than two of them at a time, we're toast.” “They're not going to turn away, either,” added Inara. “Not after risking this much. I'd be willing to wager that the house of every other reformist candidate got a visit last night, if they've got the manpower.” “They do,” said River. “They'll keep coming. No matter how much we take, they'll keep coming until they get it back.” Gabriel shifted in his chair, turning to his left to face Simon. “Well, Simon,” he said, “Are you going to back down from this?” An uncomfortable silence descended over the room. Simon looked back at his father and began to speak, then fell silent and turned to Kaylee, questioning. “Still want me to?” he asked. She looked back grimly, then, fixing Gabriel with her gaze, spoke to Simon. “You fight this,” she said. “What kind of a future could we have, always looking over our shoulders? Assuming we've got one,” she qualified. “I'll risk it,” Simon said. “Looks like I'm still running.” He turned to face Gabriel, and added, “My way, though.” “We'll see,” said Gabriel. “Your way had better produce results. You don't yet have General Lang's endorsement sewn up.” “I won't fail,” said Simon determinedly. “Don't go all central worlds on us, though,” Kaylee said. “I won't. The way I hear it,” Simon replied, “Members of Parliament can do pretty much whatever they want. Including patching up wounds on a Border freighter in their spare time.” With the engines off, the sound of furious rapping on the cargo bay doors could be heard throughout the ship. “Must be the fire marshals,” Gabriel said, rising. “You'd think they'd com,” said Mal. “Let's go see who it is. Zoe, the table is yours,” he added, following Gabriel down the stairs to the common area. They crossed the cargo bay silently, Gabriel standing by as Mal keyed the lock and hauled open the door. Amos Sanders staggered into the cargo bay, bleary-eyed and out of breath. “They hit you too?” he gasped. “What happened?” asked Mal, closing the door. Amos halted, breathing deeply, and looked around. “Nice ship,” he said. “Where was I? Oh, I came into work this morning and found receptionist...dead. Not just dead, all her capillaries had burst. She was at her desk, and blood was everywhere! I checked the security cameras, and it happened last night, at around nine. Two people, a man and a woman, in suits, wearing blue gloves. They asked her all kinds of questions about River, but she wouldn't tell them, so they took out this weird blue thing, that burst all her capillaries. Then they trashed the place. Millions worth of equipment, all busted. I figured I had to warn you.” “Well they certainly hit us as well,” Gabriel said. “Who are they?” Amos asked. “River's fellow students,” explained Mal. “That would explain certain things,” said Amos. “It's a shame about your receptionist,” said Mal. “Come on up to the kitchen and have a drink.” “Thanks,” Amos sighed. “First Boros and Ariel, then this. I thought we didn't live in interesting times anymore.” “Boros and Ariel?” asked Gabriel. “You hadn't heard?” said Amos. “I got it on the news this morning. Boros got Reaved last night—yesterday afternoon, Boros time. The local garrison thought it was a false alarm, so they didn't react until it was too late. Admiral Liu was the only commander who reacted in time—Liu was a Member of Parliament from Ariel, he got impeached for Miranda,” he explained to Mal, “And this morning he sent out a release—here, I'll show it to you.” Amos drew a newssheet from his pocket and unfolded it. Across the top of the page, under a huge headline saying “BOROS REAVED; LIU TO THE RESCUE,” was a picture of a portly Chinese man in full Admiral's uniform standing on the bridge of an Alliance cruiser. Amos read. “Parliament is incapable of handling the Reavers. Without a firm guiding hand, it will blunder from mistake to mistake, with disastrous results. It is for that reason that I am entering the contest for Ariel's open parliamentary spot. I will retake my old seat and set these matters to right.” “That's—that's illegal,” Gabriel said. “Didn't stop huge crowds from demonstrating in Ariel City for him,” Amos said. “You can probably get the newsfeed on the com now.” “Are they serious?” Gabriel asked incredulously. Amos nodded. “It could blow over. But Liu's pretty popular in Ariel, as I've heard.” “I hope it blows over. Gao yang jong duh goo yang,” said Gabriel. “If they elect him, they'll be in direct contravention of the Alliance Laws of Election, and if he accepts, he'll be in open rebellion.” “I hope you'll pardon me while I find this development absolutely hilarious,” said Mal.


Monday, November 14, 2005 9:51 AM


“What kind of a future could we have, always looking over our shoulders? Assuming we've got one.”

Ouch. I hope Kaylee is speaking globally ("they're gonna kill us all") rather than personally ("I'm done with you, Simon"), but at least Simon asked her this time. She's gotta give him credit for that.

And Jayne continues to score points. The blue hands can take out a garrison of Feds, but damn if Jayne's going out that way. And winning via a bottle of booze is quite the nice touch.

Monday, November 14, 2005 12:39 PM


Ooh, looks like the 'verse is going to *diyu* in a handbasket! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 12:27 AM


go jayne! go jayne!

also, “I hope you'll pardon me while I find this development absolutely hilarious.” hee!


Thursday, November 17, 2005 1:25 PM


Hell yes! Very good job on the fight scenes, very good detail. I could see the hole thing being played out in my head.

Also, Thank you for involving river alot! River is my favorit character to read about, and you do a great job of writing her.

Love the developement of the story, its very interesting and captivating


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