BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

HOTPOINT

Wolf Pack (Part I)
Sunday, January 25, 2004

Start of a follow-up Sequence to 'Death and Glory' that starts six months later


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 4447    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

THIS FANFIC IS PART OF A ONGOING STORYLINE THAT STARTS WITH "DEATH OR GLORY" CONTINUES WITH "WOLFPACK" THEN "HERE BE DRAGONS" AND FINALLY "HORSE, FOOT AND ARTILLERY". YOU CAN FIND ALL THESE FANFICS AT THE LINK BELOW AND THEY MAKE MUCH MORE SENSE READ IN ORDER TRUST ME!

Hotpoint's Fanfiction

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Disclaimer – Everything either does belong to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

* * *

Transport Ship Serenity – Hanson Township: Lynx – 2520AD

The locals obviously didn’t get too many ships land around here because it looked like a good percentage of the town was waiting outside when the ramp lowered. It wasn’t surprising they didn’t see more traffic there was practically nothing here. Lynx was a small solitary moon orbiting a minor gas giant. It had virtually zero accessible surface mineral resources of its own to speak of and there were no asteroids nearby to compensate and feed orbital industries. The terrain was for the large part diabolical and the weather was frequently abysmal.

Mal looked out at the assorted populace standing out there getting gradually wetter in the light rain. If you looked up “back-of-beyond” on a Cortex Search Engine he thought, it would very likely put up a picture of this community. Hanson wasn’t even a particularly big town by the standards of this moon.

It was absolutely perfect.

Mal took a step out into the rain with Zoe a pace behind watching his back as she had done for most of the last decade and a half. He hadn’t bothered to tell her and she hadn’t thought to ask. He led she followed.

A delegation of locals stepped forward to greet them. Mal noted they were armed, hunting rifles and shotguns mainly although one had a war surplus assault rifle much like the one he sometimes carried himself, although not as well maintained from the looks of it. Mal wasn’t unduly worried. The further out you went the more nervous people became and they tended to greet every visitor with a display of arms rather than open ones.

‘I’m the Captain of this Ship’ Mal announced ‘Like I said on the radio I’m after re-supply and any work I can get I’m not here to start a ruckus’

A man stepped forward presumably the town leader, maybe the sheriff. ‘You’re carrying I see’ he said pointing to Mal’s pistol and then Zoe’s cut down lever action.

You don’t know the half of it Mal thought. Back on the ship there were enough small, and not so small, arms surreptitiously aimed at the group to restart the war, Serenity’s people lived by a simple code that you can never be too loyal, too paranoid or too heavily armed. River said there wasn’t going to be trouble but she wasn’t always right. She was right a disturbing amount but not always. ‘You’re carrying as well and I’m only toting a pistol like you can see’ Mal replied keeping his hands where they could see them.

‘How many more you got on your ship?’

‘I got four men still aboard, same number of women folk and three kids. Not looking for trouble at all what with the children onboard’ Mal said earnestly. They were prepared for trouble yes, wanting it no.

At that moment Cally popped into view and waved from the ramp, she’d been listening from around the corner in the cargo bay and Mal had suggested earlier she show her face at some point. This seemed to relax the locals, difficult to believe that a bunch of pirates or such would have kids with them.

The townsman looked Mal up and down one more time ‘Alright we’ll take you at your word. Follow us back to the town hall and we can talk there. You can have the rest of your crew come along too if you like’

‘No offence but I’d like to have a lot less guns about first. I’m responsible for my people like I guess you’re responsible for yours. Are you the law here?’ Mal asked.

The man shook his head ‘Nope I’m the Mayor. Name’s Joseph Mulligan’

Reynolds reached out his hand which the Mayor shook ‘Captain Melvin Ackroyd’ he introduced himself ‘Captain of the Transport vessel ‘Tempest’. Folks call me Mel’ he told the Mayor.

‘Okay Mel. We’ll get out of the rain and talk. When you’re ready your other people can come into town if they like’ The Mayor turned to the group. ‘Alright everyone go back inside, we ain’t going to be having any trouble looks like’

Most people dispersed and Mal and Zoe followed him to the town hall.

Two hours later and the rest of the crew were with them. The ‘Town Hall’ doubled, or rather tripled, as the saloon and the only place to get a meal in town. Coincidentally the Mayor was also the owner.

There were a few locals who might be interested in hiring the ship to haul agricultural goods the Mayor had told Mal but they wouldn’t be in town until tonight. Until then the crew had decided to get a meal, the local steaks looked okay at least so most everyone had ordered that. It had been a while since they had eaten anything but protein substitute and they figured it was worth it.

Jayne decided to eat at the bar where he could try and chat up the barmaid who had definitely given him the eye when he walked in. At least that’s what he thought anyway.

The Mayor sat with them while they waited for the food to arrive. It was definitely a strange bunch, not many ships flew with children aboard, let alone a Shepherd, and they acted like they were more like a tribe than a crew. The Captain was the tribal chief and sat at the end of the table with his back to the wall looking over his clan. The pilot was apparently married to the Exec, the ships medic seemed to be an item with the mechanic sat to his right and had his sister sat the other side of him, the one with the scarred face had his wife and three kids along and even the big mean looking one who sat on his own at the bar had lifted one of the children over a puddle in the street so she didn’t get muddy.

Oh well at least they didn’t seem overly dangerous just unusual. Actually they were quite a relaxed, personable bunch.

‘How come you’re out this far?’ the Mayor asked ‘Not as much well-paid work for a ship in these parts as closer in’

‘Not as much work but it’s more varied and we kinda like it that way. Shepherds with us because he wants to be out on the rim converting the heathen’ Mal told him. ‘Anyway ship’s our home so it don’t matter none where we are’

Oh well to each their own, the Mayor thought. He left them to eat when the waitress started bringing out the food and went to make conversation with his regulars playing poker at a table nearer the bar.

Four local ranch hands entered the Saloon. The Mayor looked up and winced. They were led by Smithy who considered himself the toughest man in these parts and who certainly had the fastest draw. He was no real trouble, more attitude than actual meanness but he had a big mouth and after looking up at the rest of the crew sitting there eating, talking and laughing he made a beeline for the big guy at the bar.

Best not to interfere the Mayor thought. Election was coming up and he didn’t want to alienate the ranchers. Anyhow chances are it would just be words, they never really got any serious trouble around here.

Smithy sized up the stranger sitting on the stool. He was a big son-of-a-bitch and no mistake and he had a revolver on his hip but if he was travelling with kids and a preacher chances are he looked meaner than he was. The ranch hand also noted that he was talking to Mary behind the bar and she was flirting back, can’t have folks from off-world talking to their women now can we.

‘Sorry friend’ Smithy said ‘but you seem to be sitting on my chair’

The big guy turned to him and looked him up and down ‘It was empty when I got here but it’s right comfortable now. Plenty of others sit on one of them’ he turned back to his drink.

‘You ain’t understanding me boy. That’s the chair I always sit on’ Smithy continued.

‘Not today’ the big crewman stated not bothering to look at him.

Smithy smiled, this would be fun he put a hand on the guys shoulder and spun him around. A split second later he found that the hand that had been on the crewman’s shoulder was now in the grip of the strangers left hand with his fingers being bent back painfully.

‘Best keep your hands to yourself’ the big crewman said.

Not one to back down gracefully Smithy’s other hand snapped down to draw his gun. It had almost cleared the holster when he found a gun-barrel stuck under his chin. The stranger had effortlessly outdrawn him ‘Leave the iron be or I’ll decorate the bar with your brains’ he said.

The Mayor looked at the unfolding scene in horror. The three other ranch-hands were reaching for their own pistols.

He was just about to yell for everyone to calm down when he heard a battery of pistols being cocked. He looked up to the rest of the crew and found they were pretty much all aiming guns at the three ranch hands. The medic had been wearing a two gun rig of what looked like Alliance Issue automatics and had one in his right hand whilst his sister sat next to him must have drawn his left hand pistol and was aiming too although unlike the others she wasn’t actually looking at the target.

The children he noted were sheltering under the table and the Shepherd and unarmed women were leaning back in their chairs keeping out of the line of fire. It just looked so rehearsed the Mayor wondered how many gun-fights they got themselves into.

‘First one of you that has a pistol clear its holster gets himself ended’ the Captain stated with total seriousness. ‘You do not want to test yourselves against us that’s a fact’

The ranch hands looked up at the expressionless men and women aiming a variety of arms at them and decided they would be best taking the Captain at his word and moved hands away from gun-belts.

The Mayor stepped between the two groups ‘I don’t want any trouble here’ he said ‘Smithy take your boys back to the ranch’

‘But this is our town?’ he complained.

The big stranger cocked his pistol dramatically ‘You’re getting good advice take it’ he said and ground the muzzle of his gun harder under the man’s chin.

Smithy looked into his eyes and blanched. He would just as soon kill me as not he realised. He let his pistol drop back into his holster and put his hand in the air.

‘Let him go Jayne’ the Captain ordered.

The big stranger released his grip on Smithy’s hand and un-cocked the pistol although he kept it aimed.

‘We’re going’ Smithy said and keeping both hands in the air he backed off slowly being tracked by several guns. His compatriots followed suit and they all retreated out of the building into the street.

Jayne watched them through the big window. They went to their horses and saddled up. He didn’t return his pistol to its holster until they rode off. Then he nodded to his Captain who holstered his own piece followed by everyone else.

‘All over’ the man with the scarred face said and his kids appeared again from under the table. He smiled at them and started eating again an example which they soon followed themselves.

The Mayor was astonished. One minute they had been about to kill four men and now they were all going back to their meal, even the children looked calm and collected like it was the most natural thing in the ‘Verse.

The big one ‘Jayne’ turned to the wide-eyed barmaid and asked for another beer. In the end she got her wits back and served him one.

‘I liked the draw Doc’ Zoe the Exec said whilst picking up her fork again. ‘Very smooth, you beat Wash and Steve easy, you’ll be quicker than me next’

The medic smiled. A smile that was replaced by a look of chronic embarrassment thanks to his sisters next comment.

‘He’s been practising in the mirror ever since we got him the gun-belt’ she said ‘I caught him in his quarters the other day wearing nothing but the belt, a vest and his boxer shorts’

The medic buried his head in his hands as everyone cracked up into hysterical laughter. Please let the moon open up and swallow me he thought desperately.

When the laughter died down the pilot spoke up ‘I used to do that’ he said.

‘Really?’ the medic asked looking up.

‘Yeah but I was eight at the time’ the pilot joked and everyone started laughing again.

The mechanic put her arms around the medic and kissed him. She looked across him to his sister ‘That wasn’t very nice to tell everyone’ she said.

‘Don’t tell me you’ve never caught him doing it too?’

‘No comment’ the mechanic said desperately trying to keep a straight face ‘I love you sweetie’ she said to her boyfriend.

‘Do you practice your quick-draw Daddy?’ the youngest girl asked her father.

‘No’ he said ‘That’s why I’m so slow. Personally I prefer that I’ve got a life though’ he said grinning.

‘Et tu, Brute?’ complained the Medic.

Joseph Mulligan looked at them. He’d had it wrong, not only were they supremely dangerous people he realised, they weren’t a tribe, they were a rutting pack.

* * *

As night drew in most of the crew had gone back to the ship leaving the Captain and Jayne at the bar. Mal figured that the story of the earlier events would have spread amongst the local community by now so it would be better to not be there mob-handed when he was trying to negotiate with potential clients.

While they walked back to the ship in the failing light River decided to share something with the others ‘I picked up or some of the Town Mayor’s thoughts. He thinks we’re like a pack’ she said.

‘A pack of what?’ Wash asked.

‘Wolves’

‘Interesting notion’ Steven said. ‘I suppose that would make Mal the Alpha Male. Maybe I should fight him for dominance of the pack and gain better mating privileges’

Jennifer smacked him gently eliciting a dramatic yelp.

‘Am I a wolf cub then Mummy?’ John asked. He seemed to like the idea.

‘It would explain the trouble we had with toilet training’ Cally joked ‘and the smell for that matter’

John bared his teeth and growled at his big sister who responded in kind.

‘If we’re running with this metaphor may I ask who the Alpha Female is?’ Inara asked.

‘Well you and Mal seem to snarl at each other a great deal so maybe you’re the answer to your own question’ Jennifer answered smiling at her friend. ‘I imagine he’d like to think so anyway’

Inara gave her a look and tried to ignore the sniggering in the background. Ever since she’d gone on the run with the rest of them and her days as a Companion seemed numbered, Mal and Inara had definitely been getting closer even though they still antagonised the hell out of one another. The crunch point had actually come one day about a month and a half ago when River had just walked up to them both while they were arguing and said ‘You like her, she likes you. Everybody knows. Stop being so stupid’ and then walked off again leaving the two of them standing there speechless. When asked why she’d done it River replied they were driving her crazy.

Moving on Zoe decided to add her perspective to the discussion ‘Jayne tracks as well as a wild animal. He smells everything too I don’t know if anyone else has noticed’ she said walking arm in arm with her husband.

‘I still think of Jayne as more of a trained ape without the training rather than a wolf’ Simon commented ‘but he does like playing fetch and we really should get him a leash, plus a flea collar for that matter’

‘That was cruel’ Kaylee told him and followed Jennifer’s example and gave her man a gentle smack.

‘Hey Simon’ Wash piped up again ‘When we get back to the ship will you strip down to your underwear and demonstrate your patented quick-draw practice technique’

Simon decided to follow Johns lead and growled in response. He turned to his sister and gave her a look that spoke of retribution to come. She was unimpressed and stuck out her tongue at him.

Book decided he should help the beleaguered Doctor ‘Mercy is a virtue so perhaps we might leave Simon alone on that one’

‘Now you’ve ruined it’ Wash complained ‘I had prepared plenty of grade A material and now I can’t use it because of guilt’

‘Grade A material?’ Book asked ‘Well if it’s than level of quality…’

‘So much for virtue’ Simon interrupted.

‘I’m only human son’ Book replied chuckling. ‘Go ahead Wash’

‘Thanks Shepherd. So for future reference does the gun-belt chafe at all when you’re only wearing the underwear?’ he asked the doctor.

Simon howled like a wolf into the night.

* * *

The Mayor introduced Mal to a couple of the locals who wanted him to haul some produce to the next moon and bring back some agricultural machinery. They’d been waiting for the opportunity but couldn’t usually pay well enough to attract a ship for the business. Mal wanted enough to pay for fuel and re-supply and only a few percent on top to pay the crew and even they could afford that. He did however establish a good deal on buying food supplies for the ship off them at well under market price. It was a fair bargain given they didn’t know when the next ship would come long.

They were definitely getting some looks off the locals. Jayne was sharp enough to stay sufficiently sober for action if it was needed but Mal doubted anything would occur. They were probably being described as the fastest guns on the rim by now given the way small-town gossip spread.

In the six months or so since they left Toulouse this had been the way of things. Stick to the backwoods; take nondescript haulage jobs that wouldn’t attract any attention and indulge in the occasional bout of criminal activity on worlds where the law either wouldn’t get involved or didn’t exist.

The Cargo was going to be delivered to the ship by the end of the following day plus half the provisions as a down payment. The actual job would take just over two weeks there and back which wasn’t so bad and their might be more work afterwards it seemed.

Mal shook hands on the deal. Told Jayne not to get into trouble and set off back to the ship on his lonesome.

When he got there he wondered why in hell everybody started howling their lungs out to welcome him back.

My crew is completely insane he eventually decided.

Part II

COMMENTS

Sunday, January 25, 2004 12:47 PM

AMDOBELL


This looks very promising. I loved how the Mayor underestimated them until everybody drew their guns, and the notion of Simon practising his draw in the mirror with hardly any clothes on was hi-larious! Can't wait for the next part,*xie xie ni*. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 26, 2004 8:40 AM

ARTSHIPS


Loved River. And I'm glad you felt compelled to keep Steve and family instead of just starting a new story.


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