Wolf Pack (Part V)
Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Mal Reynolds gets his hands on a second ship


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

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind

* * *

Hanson Township – Lynx – 2520AD

‘You do have any idea how much effort it took to persuade the locals not to string the lot of them from the nearest convenient tree?’ Steven said rolling his eyes ‘Eventually I talked them into taking them to the Capital for a proper trial but only because I pointed out they might be able to claim a reward for their capture and said they could keep all the money’

‘You’re letting the hicks have the reward?’ Jayne exclaimed ‘We caught ‘em’

Steve straightened and put his hands behind his back. Everybody inwardly groaned. That meant it was lecture time.

‘The best judge of a civilisation is how it treats its prisoners’ Steven declared ‘The chances are they’ll get a unfair trial and a fair hanging anyway but if we don’t at least try to act like civilised human beings then we’re not much better than they are’

Mal knew that wasn’t an argument that would not impress Jayne. He turned to the mercenary and pointed out ‘Jayne we get to keep the ships. Think about what they’re worth’

‘They don’t work. He blew a hole in them’ Jayne said pointing to Steven.

‘Kaylee tell Jayne what you told the rest of us’ Mal ordered.

The mechanic looked around to see if any of the locals were in earshot ‘I can fix the second ship. I can replace the hull plate and internal damage with parts from the other one. When we go we’re taking it with us. Wash has flown one of these Trance Class Transports before and a few of us can fly Serenity’

Jayne looked surprised ‘I thought we were just going to strip them for parts like we told the Mayor. That’s why the locals ain’t complained we only gave them back their own stuff because they said we’d earned our pick of the loot’

‘If they knew we were going to take something as valuable as a working ship they might start thinking they want a slice of the cake’ Wash said ‘The local law might even want to impound them. That thing belongs to us we earned it’

‘We’re still taking bits from the first one. Most of it ain’t any good for Serenity but we can swap them for Firefly parts anywhere and sell the rest. There’s components we can strip out that are worth thousands’ Kaylee said.

‘We’re also getting the first pick on captured weapons and ammo. You can do that Jayne’

‘Most of their guns were lièzhì trash but some are okay and they had plenty of ammo on them’ Jayne said ‘How much is one of those ships worth?’ he asked.

‘Think of a number. More than that’ Wash said smiling ‘Oh oh the Mayors coming’

‘Kaylee, Wash you know what to do’ Mal said ‘I’ll brief Zoe, the Doc and River. Steve make sure the locals don’t change their minds about lynching the Raiders or let them escape or nothing. I’ll talk to the Mayor’

Everyone nodded and went about their business as the Mayor arrived.

‘I’d like to thank you again Captain Ackroyd. And I must say your crewman Sean did a good job calming my people. Quite the voice of reason’

‘Your welcome but the first fifty thanks were enough. Just glad we could help. How is your chain-gang detail working?’

The Mayor smiled ‘Sean’s idea of having the Raiders clear up the town was inspired. I think that’s what helped swing the people to the notion of not just hanging them, they wanted us for slaves and now they’re in chains doing our work. Definite justice there, I’ve got half a dozen men with shotguns guarding them’

‘Sounds good, we’ll be staying until day after tomorrow if that’s alright. My mechanic says she should be able to take all what we can use from their ships by then so your people can salvage what’s left afterwards’

‘Pity you did so much damage’

‘Ain’t it just. Worth a fortune if they worked but we had to disable them which meant putting a cannon round in the engine. Darn shame but at least there’s a few parts we can use’

‘When is the shuttle with the rest of your people arriving?’

‘Should be any time now. I wanted to make sure everything was sorted before I had our kids on the ground’ Mal told him. It was funny how they were definitely “our” children now not just Steve’s and Jennifer’s he thought.

‘Well please make sure to invite them to the party we are holding in your honour tomorrow night’

‘I surely will’

* * *

‘When will you be done Kaylee?’ Mal asked his mechanic.

She slid out from under the Trance Class Transports Engine ‘Be ready to fly by tomorrow lunchtime. Would be quicker if I wasn’t trying to look like I was dismantling it every time a local popped their head in’

‘Had any trouble there?’

‘Nah they wouldn’t know a Gravity Engine from a Coffee Machine. I’ll just finish what I’m dong and come back and get changed for the party’

‘I’ll see you on Serenity’ Mal said and strode out of the Engine Room heading back for his own ship.

As he left the Trance Class he ran into Wash with the mule. The pilot was picking up parts from the other ship and taking them back to Serenity. There he would unload the components Kaylee didn’t need then head for the other ship supposedly to collect parts from there too but in reality delivering equipment needed to fix it.

‘Last load Wash. Kaylee is finishing up for the night’ Mal told him ‘Party kicks off in the Town Hall in an hour. Was going to be outside but it’s supposed to be raining again soon’

‘It’s always raining here. Did they finally clear up the mess River left in the Town Hall?’ the Pilot asked.

‘Yep, not a trace of blood left’ Mal said ‘None of the other stuff from the guy River scared the piss out of neither’ he continued grinning.

‘Used to be only people who knew her were scared of her. Now it just takes a first impression’ Wash joked.

‘Yeah, she’s come a long way. Don’t know if it’s a good way but she’s arriving somewhere seems like’ Mal looked thoughtful of a second ‘still a darn shame she can’t ever go home’

‘She is home. Except for Simon we’re a better family to her than her own was’

Mal nodded ‘True enough. I’ll leave you to it and don’t let Kaylee start fixing something else, she needs to wash up’

‘See you in a few minutes Captain. Tell Zoe I’ll choose my own shirt’

‘In that case I’ll see if I can borrow some sunglasses for the party’ Mal said and headed back to his ship.

* * *

Book had just arrived from praying over the graves of the dead Raiders. The townsfolk had allowed them to bury their own and although the local pastor didn’t want to say words over them Serenity’s own Shepherd did so.

‘Going to the party Shepherd?’ Simon asked. He had just finished treating one of the townspeople who had resisted the Raiders and got beaten badly as a result. Mild head wound that needed a few stitches and he was told no drinking but otherwise he was fine. Around half a dozen men had died defending Hanson originally but most of those were single Ranchers not men with families which was a kind of blessing. The local pastor was looking after the only widow and orphans and they would not be attending the gathering tonight.

‘I wasn’t one of those who helped save them so I wouldn’t feel quite right’

Simon shook his head ‘I never fired a shot myself but I’m going. This is their way of thanking the crew not just those who fought’

‘I’d feel like I’m celebrating the demise of the men I just prayed over’

River appeared behind him ‘No’ she said ‘You’d be giving thanks for the people we saved. We killed but we were righteous and that’s what counts’ she turned to her brother ‘I’m going to wear the blue dress Inara and Jennifer got me’

Simons face twitched ‘It’s very short’ he said.

His sister sighed ‘I’m twenty years old Simon’

‘Not for another two weeks’

‘And that makes so much difference’ she said sarcastically. Honestly he was always going to treat her like a little girl. ‘Anyway I’ve got nice legs’

‘Who says?’ Simon demanded to know.

‘There’s not a man on the ship who hasn’t thought it’ she said. ‘Except you and that would be creepy anyway’

‘Not one?’ Simon said and then looked at Book through narrowed eyes.

‘Um just an appreciation of beauty’ The Shepherd said slightly embarrassed ‘And I thought you weren’t going to read minds without permission’ he said to River.

‘Didn’t read your mind’ River said. ‘I just guessed’ she beamed in triumph.

Book looked to Simon and frowned ‘You’re right she is a brat’ he said.

* * *

After the cheering, endless handshakes and myriad thanks had died down the celebration got going. The local moonshine packed quite a wallop and the food laid on was about the best Lynx had to offer.

Surprisingly the rain laid off and the ground outside was dry enough for dancing so everyone moved outside and a few locals formed a band. Mal was asked to lead the festivities which bothered him a lot less than it would have done without the moonshine and he asked Inara for the pleasure of the first dance.

He definitely lacked her grace and the music wasn’t exactly to her usual tastes but they put in a reasonable showing. They were certainly applauded a great deal.

Half way through the first song the rest of the crew joined in followed by the locals and soon the whole town was dancing around a fire made from the wreckage of the houses Steven and Jayne had respectively destroyed during the fighting. Steven had left bad about that when he met the family that owned the house by the rest of the town were going to help them build another and they were going to receive a good share of the reward to help them get back on their feet.

Jayne was slightly annoyed that Cally grabbed him to dance with. He had been hoping to get himself better acquainted with somewhat older females at the party but to his surprise after the first couple of dances he actually got a great deal of attention from the local ladies. There he was all tall, heroic and single and apparently good with children as well. That was fairly appealing to the unattached womenfolk and he found himself very much the centre of attention. Cally eventually had pity and let him go cutting in on Zoe and grabbing Wash for a dance instead.

After a number of energetic dances Steven decided he lacked the energy for another and decided to rest up for a bit. Simon and Kaylee had youth on their side, Mal and Inara the energy of new love whereas Steven was at heart an unenthusiastic dancer with half a pound of ten-year old shrapnel in his leg. He slumped onto a blanket and Jennifer sat down beside him.

Jennifer was far more perceptive than he and after a couple of minutes she pointed out a sullen looking River.

‘She’s not dancing’ she said.

‘She was earlier’

‘Yes but that was alone. Everyone else is a couple so she stopped’

‘Lots of local boys’

‘Who were there when she killed five men, I think they’d find that more than a little intimidating despite her charms’ Jennifer looked at him ‘Ask her to dance’

‘She’ll know why I’m doing it’

‘But she’ll know we care’

Steven sighed, dragged himself back to his feet and went to River ‘May I have the pleasure of this dance’ he asked.

River saw right through him, you didn’t need telepathy, but as Jennifer had said she was happy to know he cared and accepted the offer.

As they began to dance Steven whispered in her ear ‘I heard what you said to Simon and Book earlier’ he said ‘I think you’ve got nice legs too’ he said and winked

River blushed and then smiled broadly as they danced.

‘Let’s keep that between ourselves though’ Steven went on to say ‘Jennifer would take a dim view of me saying that to another women’ he said conspiratorially.

Between songs Simon came over whilst Kaylee was getting drinks ‘May I ask your intentions towards my sister?’ he asked.

‘I’m dancing with a girl half my age. My intention is to make my wife jealous’ came the reply.

‘Fair enough carry on’ Simon told him ‘but if you’ll excuse me I’m going to ask your wife to dance to make you jealous in turn’

‘Looking at both you and your sister I get by far the best of the bargain. Jennifer just gets you and I get the second most beautiful girl at the party’ Steven told him.

‘Who’s the most beautiful?’ River asked

‘That would be my wife but I’m biased so perhaps it is you’ Steven told River and then when the music began again led her in the next dance.

* * *

By midnight everyone was danced out and Steven was put his children to bed. Cally didn’t want to go but Claire-Marie was tired and John was already asleep.

As the fire started to die down Mal and Inara sat on a blanket with another wrapped around the two of them. Jayne had disappeared with one or possibly two girls and everyone else was gathered in a circle talking. Once the merriment had faded into the dark the townsfolk left them alone, they were grateful but still harboured some fear of the crew and besides which they were very clannish.

Wash nodded in the direction of the Captain and his Lady ‘Doesn’t that bring a warm glow to your heart’ he said

‘If you want a warm glow I recommend this stuff’ Simon responded taking another swig from a large bottle filled with something that resembled battery acid but not quite so tasty ‘I can feel my IQ dropping with every mouthful’

‘I’ll take some of that’ Zoe requested and Simon passed it over. She took a drink and passed it to her husband as the bottle began making its way around the group.

‘This stuff is vile’ Wash said and grimaced before taking another belt and passing it to Book.

‘So are we heading off tomorrow as planned?’ Jennifer asked.

‘Maybe later in the day than I thought’ Kaylee answered ‘Might be that I’m not up for fixing machinery first thing’

The bottle reached River who took a huge swallow before Simon could say something like she knew he would. She shuddered and felt her face go red ‘I fail to see the fun in this’ she stated.

‘Few more belts and everything will become clear’ Wash advised her ‘then very hazy’

River decided to test the theory and drank again before passing the bottle to Jennifer who was taking a slug as her husband arrived. She’d drunk before but nothing quite this potent, lets face it the engine degreaser Kaylee used probably wasn’t this potent.

‘Cally was difficult’ Steven said dropping to the ground by his wife and taking the offered bottle from her ‘she’s so damn opinionated’ he said taking a drink. ‘I blame the parents’

‘So do we’ Simon agreed and took the bottle back again. Kaylee grabbed it and took a drink herself.

‘Why are we doing this to ourselves’ Kaylee asked wincing at the strong liquor.

‘Peer pressure’ Wash replied.

Book addressed his somewhat inebriated congregation ‘Well I hope that our experiences here show that doing the right thing pays dividends in this life as well as the next. We saved these people and as a reward…’

‘We all go blind’ Steven interrupted and then went “ouch” as Jennifer elbowed him in the ribs.

Book continued ignoring the interruption ‘… we get to know we did the right thing’ he paused ‘and we get to go blind on cheap alcohol into the bargain’ he finished nodding to Steven.

‘No good deed goes unpunished’ River declared. For some reason she really wanted the bottle to hurry up and make its way back to her. It must be working she thought.

‘To good deeds rewarded or punished’ Zoe declared taking a drink. She looked at it ‘nearly empty’ she said.

‘Want to start another?’ Steven asked pointing to a pile of bottles a few yards away.

‘Plenty more IQ points left to go’ Simon said and went to retrieve a bottle. He actually came back with two.

‘Come and join us Captain’ Kaylee called out. They’d let them be for long enough, time to get everyone in the circle together. The fire was dying down but it was still bright enough to see everyone.

Mal and Inara joined the group as the bottles were being passed around one circling left one right. Inara took a drink and to the surprise of some recoiled a lot less than most.

‘So how are the young lovers?’ Jennifer asked.

‘Very happy thanks’ Inara replied. She rested her head on Mals’ shoulder and cuddled up to him while he stroked her hair.

‘Good grief you look like a pair of fourteen year olds in the back seat of a theatre’ Steven stated grinning ‘Ah young love’ he said

‘Only young compared to you’ Mal responded ‘How those grey hairs coming along?’

‘Frankly I’ll be happy if I have hair enough left to go grey at the moment’ Steven said sadly ‘though they say going bald is a sign of virility’

‘Going bald is a sign of not being able to afford the drugs to prevent it’ Simon commented ‘although out here I don’t know we could find them anyway’

‘It’s alright I’m not quite vain enough to worry about that’

‘I’d rather have a husband with hair thanks. We find a place that’s got them we buy them’ Jennifer stated.

‘My wife is very shallow’ Steven told the group sadly. ‘She only married me for my looks’

‘Why’d she stay with you now you’re old and balding then?’ Mal asked getting into the swing of the group.

‘That would be my phenomenal sexual technique’ Steven replied.

Jennifer was taking a drink at the time and nearly drowned thanks to spontaneous laughter which set everybody else off too.

Steven pretended to be offended ‘Hey I don’t come here for abuse’ he said over the laughing.

‘What moon do you usually go to then?’ Wash asked. The old jokes are still the best.

River took another big drink ‘This definitely improves the more you have’ she said ‘I could get used to this’

‘Wait until the hang-over’ Zoe told her ‘stuff like this really bites you on the ass next morning’

‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ River replied.

Steven stood up ‘If we’re quoting Nietzsche “God is Dead”’ he called out.

‘I prefer “Nietzche is Dead” quoting God’ Book threw back.

‘None of that tonight’ Mal ordered ‘we get enough of that normally’

Steven dropped back to the ground ‘Apologies to all. I’ll call a ceasefire in my ongoing campaign against religion for tonight’ he said.

‘Praise the Lord’ Book said and took a drink.

Wash piped up ‘Anybody know any songs?’

‘How clean do they have to be?’ Jennifer asked.

Steven looked at his wife ‘Not the one about the Asteroid Miners Daughter please’ he begged.

‘This sounds good. Go ahead’ Wash said

Jennifer started to sing. Steven cringed.

* * *

None of the crew was to be found in town. The Mayor guessed they were still a little fragile after the previous night. He hadn’t left the party until way after the majority of the town had stumbled home and the crew were still going strong belting out a song that had something to do with having sex in freefall.

Well at least a couple of them were still capable of functioning anyway. The Mayor found the pilot and the mechanic still apparently stripping parts from the disabled transports. You couldn’t say they looked particularly healthy though.

The Captain appeared too. He spotted the Mayor and walked down to meet him. The strange young woman who had killed the Raiders in the Town Hall was with him and looked by far the healthiest of the bunch.

‘Good day Captain’

‘I’ve had better ones’ he replied. He was wearing a pair of dark glasses.

‘Weren’t you drinking then?’ The Mayor asked the young woman.

‘Oh I was but I had the sense to drink plenty of water before I went to sleep. A hangover is mainly just dehydration’

The Captain looked at her ‘She also got her brother to give her a couple of the strongest painkillers in the infirmary. He was in no state not to give in to the nagging’

The Mayor laughed ‘So are you leaving today as planned?’

‘Any minute now in fact’

‘Really but we were going to give you a big send-off’

‘We preferred to leave quietly’ the Captain said.

The Mayor noticed that the loading ramp was closing on one of the grounded transports.

‘Well not quietly but at least unexpectedly’

The thrusters on the transport engaged.

‘What are you doing?’ the Mayor gasped ‘I thought you said it didn’t work’

‘It didn’t so we fixed it’ the Captain explained.

‘But you can’t just take it’

‘Well there’s two points there to address. Firstly we are just about to, thus invalidating your initial premise and second do you think you could stop us?’ the young woman said.

‘But you saved us then lied to us’

‘We’re righteous. Not necessarily one-hundred percent honest’ The Captain said and started making his way back to his own ship just as the other Transport took off. The woman followed him.

‘Captain Ackroyd I must protest. That ship may be considered evidence in a trial’ the Mayor yelled over the sound of engines.

‘You’ve still got the other one’ the Captain said continuing to walk.

‘Captain Ackroyd I bind you by law’

The Captain halted and turned to face the Mayor ‘You have no idea how funny that is’ he paused ‘wanna tell him?’ he asked the young woman.

She nodded smiling.

He looked at the Mayor again ‘Name ain’t Ackroyd. It’s Malcolm Reynolds this here is River Tam. I think we’re just about the most wanted folks in the known ‘Verse right about now. We’ve got Feds, bounty-hunters, corporate goons, hit-men, criminals and the Alliance Military after us. Frankly being bound by law by a hick politician is a mite hilarious’

The Mayor gaped ‘I’ve heard of you. You wiped out a platoon of Soldiers on Toulouse’

‘Alliance toned the story down. It was a whole company we took down and there were only a handful of us. River here killed the equivalent of a platoon all on her own, took ‘em out in less than three minutes point-blank at the run’

The woman looked at him ‘Probably best not to tell anyone who we are. If you do we’ll come back and it’ll make your Raider problem look like a mild disturbance’

Her threat seemed deadly serious ‘I won’t tell anyone’ he said.

‘He’s telling the truth’ she told her Captain ‘I can read minds’ she told the Mayor and grinned.

‘Glad to hear it’ the Captain said and started walking to his ship again. The two of them reached the loading ramp where the young woman stopped and turned back to the Mayor.

‘By the way we loved the Wolf Pack analogy’ she shouted over the engine noise then howled.

Thirty seconds later the Mayor watched the Firefly take off following the vapour trail left by the larger ship.

‘Hang on’ he said to himself ‘what the hell did she mean by Wolf Pack?’ He thought for a second and remembered something ‘but I never told them about that. I never told anyone about that’ he mumbled.

‘Tiānna’ he exclaimed finally ‘she really can read minds’

Overhead the ship went through the sound barrier on its way to orbit.

Part VI


Tuesday, February 3, 2004 12:27 PM


Still very shiny, please keep at it (and when this ends, other stories.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2004 9:40 AM


Can't decidde if it's the story, the characters, or the things you have them say (like Wash talking about River) that's my favorite part. Regardless, don't stop!

Tuesday, March 2, 2004 11:24 AM


A very good showing. I think this one might be my favorite so far. It has a lot of variety of action.


You must log in to post comments.



Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits