Wolf Pack (Part VI)
Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The new ship gets a new name and there's something on the horizon...


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

* * *

Transport Serenity - Lynx Orbit – 2520AD

‘I’d feel a lot happier with Wash doing this’ Mal stated. The concentration on his face was intense.

‘Better him on that thing than one of us trying to fly it’ Zoe replied ‘It must have five times our mass and only twice the manoeuvring thrust’

‘Which means if something goes wrong it’s me that’s got to get us out of the way’ Mal said.

The big Trance Class Transport edged closer and closer to the docking port. Up close it dwarfed Serenity but you had to give it to Wash he made flying the lumbering vessel look like a precision undertaking as he gently bought the two ships into dock nose to nose.

With an audible “clunk” that echoed through the hulls the two ships eventually docked and Kaylee in the Trance Class opened the airlock after matching pressure between the two vessels. She knocked on the Serenity airlock and Simon opened the lock on the Serenity side.

‘It actually works then?’ he asked.

Kaylee looked slightly peeved at this slight to her ship-fixing abilities ‘Of course it works’ she said ‘It needs a lot of work though their mechanic must have been terrible’

Wash appeared behind her ‘I’ll just have a word with the Captain then we’ll be on our way’

Steven dropped in ‘Are you sure about this? I mean using that thing to push Serenity’

Wash smiled ‘She’s designed to carry a lot more mass than a Firefly and her docking collar is strong enough to hold the two ships rigidly together even if I use the manoeuvring thrusters at maximum. It doesn’t matter that the load is internal or external it’s just mass that needs to be got moving and her drive is more than up to it’

‘Well at least our living space has gone up a great deal’

‘Yep’ Wash said and headed for Serenity’s bridge.

* * *

Transport Serenity – Deep Space – 2520AD

It certainly wouldn’t have looked aesthetically attractive from outside but within half an hour Serenity was being pushed backwards in space stuck to the front of the big Trance Class. Most of the crew decided to have a look around their new acquisition and they were checking around.

Most of the Raiders personal possessions had been dumped back on Lynx after being searched for valuables and there wasn’t actually a great deal onboard. It had come to the moon to steal what it needed and except for weaponry the Pirates travelled fairly light.

The children were soon checking every nook and cranny on the ship whilst Jennifer realised the cargo bay was more than large enough for a squash court and the far bulkhead was ideal. All she needed was a ball, and the children had one that was suitable, and some improvised rackets. Playing squash had been one of her passions back on Toulouse, hopefully one of the crew might make a decent opponent.

Mal appeared in the bay and looked at his crew who seemed very enthusiastic ‘Don’t get too attached’ he said ‘we’re selling this thing remember’

‘Yes but it might be a while before we find a buyer’ Zoe pointed out ‘I think she needs a name until then’

Cally jumped up and down with her hand in the air ‘I’ve got one’ she said.

The Captain looked at her ‘Well go ahead’

The little girl beamed ‘Well it’s in theme with how Serenity got her name so I say we call this ship “Granite Gorge” after another battle’

‘I like it’ said Steven smiling at his eldest ‘appropriate too because although it was a victory we only held the Gorge for a little while’

‘I’m not sure either of you could be considered unbiased on that one but we’ll put it to the vote after dinner’ Mal said ‘In the meantime I’m going to make sure my Pilot and Mechanic don’t fall in love with another hunk of metal. I wouldn’t want Serenity getting jealous’

Jayne appeared from the crew quarters where he’d been hunting for anything worth taking ‘It’s a ship. Machinery don’t get jealous’ he stated.

‘This from a man who names and talks to his firearms’ Zoe pointed out.

‘That’s different’ the mercenary replied.

* * *

Mal made his way down to the Engine Room where Kaylee was still beavering away trying to get to grips with a much larger power-plant that she was used to. The Trance Class lacked the finesse of a Firefly. It was unsubtle brute force engineering and not something you would necessarily fall in love with but it was certainly interesting, at least to a ships mechanic.

‘How’re you getting on little Kaylee’ Mal asked.

‘I could spend a month fixing everything that’s been done wrong on this thing’ she answered ‘I hate sloppy workmanship. It’s just been kludged together’

‘It won’t break down on us will it?’

Kaylee shook her head ‘No. And I’ve got plenty of parts from the other one in any case if it did. It’s just running a good ten percent below the fuel efficiency it should have’ she groaned ‘Can you believe what they did to the tokomak coil’ she said pointing at the readout from the Fusion Reactor.

‘Remember we’re just keeping it until somebody offers a good price’

‘I can push the price up a good few thousand if I get it working better’ she responded ‘and Serenity is running smooth as silk so I don’t need to spend as much time on her as normally’

‘Dinners in an hour. The galley on this thing is a disgrace so we’ll be eating on Serenity. Don’t be late and make sure to wash up first’

‘Yes Captain’

As he left the engine room heading for Wash on the Bridge Mal heard a cry of despair from behind him ‘Gorram lièzhì Raider Mechanic wúnéug de rén’ Kaylee yelled out to herself ‘Don’t you know what a Helium extractors for?’

Up on the bridge Wash had the flight console opened up and was checking the circuitry. When Mal walked in he looked up.

‘Hi Captain’ the pilot said and went back to the console.

Mal looked around in distaste. The previous pilot had plainly been unconcerned by cleanliness the Bridge was a dump ‘I’ll get somebody to clean this up’ he said.

‘That would be appreciated. I’m too busy finding out why this ships been cross-wired seven ways from Sunday’ Wash replied.

‘No major problems?’

‘Nothing ‘Verse shattering. I just need to change a few things in a few panels so they work right’ Wash looked up again ‘We should have let the locals lynch them. I really dislike people who don’t treat their ships with respect’

‘How’s it fly?’

‘Like a brick. Handling is awful, you can’t turn fast enough. It’d be a lot slower than Serenity even if it wasn’t pushing her. No fun at all… well it’s a challenge docking or landing her but that’s no compensation’ Wash looked at a display screen ‘Last time I flew one of these I quit after two months. Drove me up the wall’

‘Worth a lot of platinum though’

The pilot smiled ‘Oh yeah. If you just want to haul cargo it’s great so there’s usually a big demand. Not my preferred kind of flying but she’ll make us pretty wealthy for a while even if we have to sell well below market price ‘cause it’s a bit hot’

‘Find out the real owner?’

‘According to the log it looks like the Pirates took her a year and a half ago. Owner was the Captain and from his last entry I reckon he died defending his ship’

Mal nodded, that’s how he’d go in the same circumstances. You’d get Serenity over his dead body ‘Well at least those that did it are likely to finish on the end of a rope’ he said.

‘Nice to know we did our bit to put things to rights’ the Pilot responded ‘I’m going to patch the controls through to Serenity. That way with a bit of creative programming on the controls I can use her thrusters to help steer’

‘Did you hear Jayne’s idea about a shooting range?’


‘Well he figured with both airlocks open he could set up a backdrop and fire from the far end of one cargo bay to the opposite end of the other bay right through the airlock. Between them they’re long enough to be worthwhile he says’

‘You ain’t going to let him are you?

‘Not a chance. But if he talks to you about it tell him it’s too dangerous from the ships point of view or something’

‘Will do, I’ll throw in some technical jargon, you can just see his face go blank and his eyes go out of focus whenever I do that to him’ Wash said with a smile.

Next order of business ‘You able to leave the Bridge to eat on Serenity?’ Mal asked ‘Dinners in an hour’

‘Nothing but dust between us and the next stop three weeks away. Because we’ve got two ships I’m talking a route well away from everything. We can take the risk of a catastrophic mechanical failure because of the spare’

‘Then I’ll see you at the table’ Mal said and went off to have a good look around himself.

* * *

Hide and seek had become practical again because the ship was new to everyone whereas the children already knew as much, if not more, about Serenity’s nooks and crannies than the Captain.

River joined in but was not allowed to seek. Even if she didn’t read minds she could usually sense their locations and was too good at the game. John was told not to go anywhere no one else could fit and Claire-Marie had been ordered by her mother to change clothes first because she shouldn’t get her dresses dirty.

Cally was seeking when she ran into Mal.

‘Playing?’ he asked.

‘Hide and seek. This ship is huge. I can’t even find Claire-Marie and she’s rubbish at this game’

‘If you don’t find them in half an hour go on the intercom and tell them to get ready for dinner’ Mal ordered.

‘Yes Sir’ she said and saluted before turning to go down to the crew quarters. There were twelve compartments there alone most with double bunks. They badly needed a clean though and would have needed more than that if Simon’s recommendation that they open the ship to vacuum hadn’t been taken. Explosive decompression is a good way to reduce rodent and cockroach numbers if a messy one.

Mal watched the girl. He’d swear she was imitating the way Jayne tracked. It was amazing how kids pick things up and sometimes you caught the mercenary adding his own additions to the children’s curriculum. Cally was actually becoming quite good at throwing a knife although her mother would go nuts if she found out. Meanwhile Claire-Marie had taken a shine to Wash and said she’d like to be a pilot someday because you got to fly through space and still play with toys. She was also happy to hear that the loud shirts weren’t compulsory.

The other side of the airlock in Serenity’s own bay Steven and Book were shifting boxes of parts stripped from the ship that had been left on Lynx. Jayne meanwhile was stripping and cleaning various captured small-arms. Some would be sold on whereas others were destined for the ships already impressive arsenal of lethal hardware. The ships Recoilless Cannon was dismantled and locked in an anonymous crate of its own as were a small number of mixed projectiles for it.

‘How you getting on Jayne?’ Mal asked.

‘Had to cannibalise a few for parts but most just need a good clean. People who use guns for a living should have more respect for ‘em’ he replied.

‘Kaylee and Wash say the same about the ship there. Not looked after properly’

‘If a piece of machinery might save your life you care for it otherwise you deserve to die for being a dumbass’ Jayne stated looking into the receiver of an assault rifle ‘Firearm or Spaceship if it fails you stop breathing’

‘Get much for ‘em you think?’

‘Should raise a decent sum’ Jayne replied ‘Not like some of those bits there though’ he said pointing to the boxes being moved around ‘Kaylee told me there’s a few parts there that’ll raise nearly five large apiece. One maybe four times that ‘cause it’s really high-tech and made from platinum or palladium or summat’

‘Plans for how you’ll spend your share?’

‘Be the most I’ve ever had in my hand at one time since we finally got rid of that laser pistol. I ain’t gotta clue’

‘You could try and keep it for retirement’ Book suggested listening in. ‘Maybe even donate some of it to charity’ he continued slightly tongue in cheek.

‘I doubt I’ll live until retirement Shepherd. As soon as I get old and slow down someone will probably put a bullet in me’ Jayne replied. ‘I suppose you’ll be giving anything you receive to the Church’

‘That’s what I always do’ Book told him ‘Except for a modest sum for myself and things I like to do for the crew. What about you Captain, invest back in the ship?’

Mal nodded ‘This is my home so I’ll likely do that. Although I’m thinking I can get some nice things for Inara. What about you Steve, what’s your share being spent on?’

‘No idea. I’ll have to ask the wife’ Steven told him ‘I hope she raises my pocket money though’ he joked.

‘You are so whipped’ Jayne told him.

‘Only on special occasions’ Steven deadpanned then grinned at Book ‘I might see if I’m allowed to donate some money to The Agnostics and Atheists Society to help counteract the Shepherd here though’

‘Dante put your kind in the Sixth Level of Hell you know’ Book told him.

‘Yes indeed I’m bound for the City of Dis with the other heretics’ Steven agreed. ‘Or otherwise I’ll just rot in the ground. I’m good either way’ he said.

‘Is that worse than the “Special” hell’ Mal inquired.

‘Not quite but you’ll be neighbours’ Book told him.

* * *

At dinner Mal announced he wanted volunteers to clean up the other ship. After most of the crew agreed he announced conscription and drafted the rest to do so as well. Only Kaylee and Wash were exempted on the grounds of ‘protected occupation’ as they already had plenty of work to do.

Food stocks were very good and Jennifer had prepared cuts of meat marinated in something alcoholic and mixed with various herbs. She refused to say exactly what was in the marinade but it was a fine meal that earned her much praise. Mal told her she still had to help clean the other ship though.

The rest of the crew then voted and unanimously decided that the Captain had to clean the dirtiest part of the other ship. Zoe pointed out that with the airlock in use she couldn’t make the mutineers walk the ramp and in any case she was with them.

‘Alpha male my ass’ the Captain mumbled to himself.

Simon announced that it was coming up on annual medical check time and he had already spoken with the Captain to make it compulsory. This elicited many groans from those who had been with the ship long enough to experience it before. The Doctor took the notion of “thorough” to a ludicrous degree when it came to his job.

‘Got the extra big rusty needle for blood samples again this year’ Wash asked.

‘Only for the children’ he said. And gave what he hoped was an evil smile to Cally and Claire-Marie.

They were less than convinced because Simon was a big softy who gave them sweets when he treated them for anything. He kept them locked away in the medicine cabinet to keep Kaylee from eating them instead.

‘Having seen the state of some of that ship can I request a course of inoculations before I go cleaning in there’ Steven asked ‘I’m thinking Bubonic Plague, Smallpox and Tallmann’s Disease for a start’

‘They’re all extinct’ River stated ‘Although I did hear once that they’re keeping Tallmann’s in a lab somewhere so they can make vaccine if it turns out somebody is keeping it for Bio-Warfare’

‘Now there’s a horrible thought. If I remember my history it killed two hundred million people in the last years on Earth-That-Was’ Book said.

‘The thing that always sickens me’ Simon declared ‘is that it was people from my profession who helped develop the thing. What kind of sick mind goes out of their way to develop a Genetically Engineered super-virus’

‘According to the history books it was a deterrent weapon’ Steven pointed out ‘but once those Nukes started flying deterrence didn’t mean a thing. Worst thing was it was my ancestors in the European Federation that tried hardest to prevent the war and it was us that got hit hardest by it. First by the bombs and then by the plague because our medical infrastructure was so shattered’ he shook his head ‘I despair of our species. The only thing in our defence is that it’s easier to destroy than create but we still haven’t blasted ourselves back into the Stone Age so we can’t be all bad’

‘Thinking about what you said about our species and moving to a less horrific subject does anyone think we’ll ever meet intelligent Aliens out here?’ Wash asked.

‘Statistically given the size of the Universe it’s albeit impossible for there not to be other technologically advanced cultures out there. The question is how far away’ River said ‘We might be the only one in our Galaxy though’

‘If we ever meet another space-faring race God help them. We’ve spent our civilisations entire time-span developing better ways to kill each other. How do you think we’ll react to a genuinely different race?’ Steven said. ‘Can you imagine the Alliance reacting peacefully to such an eventually. It would be blast them before they think to blast us and we’d be singing Homo Sapiens Uber Alles all the way to their homeworld’

‘You have a very poor opinion of human nature. Not to mention a streak of pessimism’ Book said.

‘A pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist’ Steven replied ‘anyway like I said earlier we can’t be all bad or we wouldn’t have made it this far’

‘Was he always this downbeat?’ Inara asked Jennifer of her husband.

‘I wish I could blame the war but he was always a strange mix of ardent cynic and idealist. It’s amazing I ever fell for him he was such a pain whenever we went to parties’ Jennifer replied.

‘Thinking of parties I still have half a dozen bottles of the Lynx moonshine’ Zoe said ‘The rest of you were too drunk to retrieve them before we went back to the ship’

‘My wife, always in control’ Wash said and kissed her.

‘Can I have a bottle of that for the Infirmary’ Simon asked ‘I doubt my antiseptics are anywhere near as lethal to bacteria’

‘That would be a terrible waste’ River said ‘Can we drink it on my birthday?’

‘I think that can be arranged’ Zoe said ‘Not every day you stop being a teenager’

‘Does that mean you’re nearly a proper grown-up’ Claire-Marie asked from the children’s table’

‘Age has nothing to do with it’ Zoe said ‘My husband has never been a proper grown-up’ she said.

It might be noted that Wash made no effort to dispute this claim.

‘What about the name’ Cally asked.

‘Good point’ Mal said ‘As some of you know we need a name for the other ship. Cally has suggested “Granite Gorge” in keeping with Serenity Valley. I said I’d put it to the vote but before I bother with that I need to know if there any other suggestions anyway?’

Nobody came up with anything.

‘Alright then given the lack of another name “Granite Gorge” it is’ Mal said.

‘Woohoo!’ Cally yelled out.

Definitely spending too much time with Jayne everybody thought.

* * *

Serenity/Granite Gorge – Deep Space – 2520AD

‘Captain to the bridge’ echoed over the intercom ‘that’s Granite’s Bridge’ Wash continued. He tended to move between ships and Mal had been caught out before.

Mal leaned over to the intercom ‘Is this important Wash I’m busy’

‘I’m picking up a ship on the outer edge of our radar. I thought it was a glitch but I think we’re being followed’

‘Darn. I’ll be there in a minute’ he turned to Inara ‘sorry duty calls’ he told her.

Inara regarded him coldly ‘If you think you’re getting out of this that easily Malcolm Reynolds you’ve got another thing coming. I’ll teach you to Fence if it’s the last thing you do’

‘Sharp Steel is no match for a good handgun’

‘It’s not a question of weaponry it’s a question of learning the ways of a gentleman. And for that matter you will also learn to dance properly’

‘We’ll continue this later’ he said and headed over to Granite Gorge. The worst thing was it was he that suggested learning how to swordfight but the fact that Inara was so much better than he at it was grating.

Mal arrived at the Bridge at the double and dropped into the co-pilots chair. ‘What you got Wash?’ he asked.

‘Occasional blip. Like I said I thought it was a glitch but it’s been appearing randomly for a couple of hours and the diagnostic says radar is fine’

‘Can you get a long-range scan on it? Use the laser rangefinder?’

‘If I do they’ll know they’ve been made’

‘Can we outrun it?’

‘No idea what it is. Granite’s almost certainly too slow but lets face it Serenity is quick for a transport but not the fastest thing in space by a long chalk’

‘Keep an eye on it. If it gets closer let me know. In the meantime I’ll break out the weaponry’

‘Steven says the Recoilless will work in space. We could set it up by the rear airlock’

‘Accuracy and muzzle velocity are way too low unless we’re point-blank. I know he said he once took down a Reaver ship firing an Excalibur out the back of a Transport but that was using a Railgun and there ain’t no dodging one of those’

‘Still might be worth assembling it, load it with one of his new canister rounds and it would sure make a mess of a boarding party’

‘You didn’t used to be one for the brute force approach’

‘I found the truth in scripture “Ye though we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death we will Fear no evil… ‘cause we’re the meanest, best armed sons of bitches in the whole damn Valley”’ Wash said.

‘Amen Brother’

Part VII


Thursday, February 5, 2004 1:38 AM


Loved this to bits! I wonder who those 'mean asses' are who are dogging our heroic crew? Can't wait for the next chapter which just goes to prove what a good writer you are. Kudos and *xiexie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 5, 2004 8:59 AM


Seemed a little uncharacteristically slow to my mind. Sort of a breather, as it were, between some fast action and some more... Oh, I see. Can hardly wait!


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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