Wolf Pack (Part XI)
Monday, February 16, 2004

The thoughts of the crew turn towards interrogation and River gets ambitious


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

* * *

Serenity/Granite Gorge – Going nowhere (Fast) – 2520AD

Jennifer marched into the Infirmary Cally in tow. She looked more than a little annoyed.

Steve greeted his wife. ‘Good morning Honey. I thought you were going to keep the children in the Shuttle?’

‘I was but then I overheard a conversation between Cally and Claire-Marie and I thought it was best to separate our eldest from the other two’

‘Why? She wasn’t swearing was she?’ Steven asked glaring at Cally.

‘No I wasn’t swearing. I was only talking’ the girl told her father.

‘It’s the subject that concerned me’ Jennifer stated ‘would you like to tell your father or will I?’

Cally shrugged ‘Go ahead’

‘Well apparently our little angel here is perfectly aware of why she and her siblings were being locked in the shuttle’

‘It’s just in case the screams over on Granite Gorge get too loud’ Cally said ‘The Captain and the others are only holding an interrogation I don’t see the problem it’s not like he doesn’t deserve a beating anyway and we do need the information’

Steven stared at his daughter ‘Violence is not a good thing Cally’ he told her ‘it may be necessary sometimes, but it’s a last resort’

Cally rolled her eyes ‘I know that Daddy but if he doesn’t talk they’ll work him over until he does. That seems reasonable to me’

Steven shook his head. This could not be a good environment for his children.

‘It gets worse. Tell your father what I overheard you saying to your little sister’ Jennifer told her daughter.

‘I was only trying to teach her some useful information’

‘Which was what?’ Steven asked.

‘Interrogation techniques’ Cally replied.

‘Be more specific Cally or I will’ Jennifer told her.

‘Well I once heard that a good way to make a man talk is to wire electrotrodes to his genitals’

‘YOU HEARD WHAT?’ Steven yelled and sat upright. Pain lanced through him and he lay back down again.

‘Shall we hazard a guess where that useful titbit of information hailed from?’ Jennifer asked.

Steven fought back the grimace on his face and directed a stare at his daughter she couldn’t return ‘Did Jayne Cobb tell you that?’

‘Not saying’ Cally told him

‘I’ll take that as a yes. What the hell is wrong with the man? You’re a little girl’

This did not sit well with the eleven year old ‘I am not just a little girl I’m a wanted fugitive who’s killed people. You always said knowledge was power anyway’

‘Cally you’ve killed one man and that was practically by accident, you are not a hired gun in training. And how could you possibly think it was okay to teach your sister practical methods of torturing people?’

‘She might need to know someday. You wouldn’t have taught it to her’ Cally replied ‘Anyway I’ll always make sure she never has to really do it’

‘What are you going on about now?’

‘When I’m all grown up I’m going to carry a gun and look after the ship and the crew. I’ll never let anyone hurt Claire-Marie and I’ll do the nasty stuff so she doesn’t have to’ Cally said earnestly ‘Mèimei is like Kaylee, I doubt she’ll ever carry a gun so she needs protecting’

‘We don’t want that life for you Cally. Don’t you see that?’ Jennifer said increasingly upset at the mental image she was getting. She envisioned her little girl in ten years time with scars like her father wearing a pistol belt. It was awful.

‘Live free or die’ Cally stated ‘Better to take up arms than lie under the oppressors jackboot’

Steven winced. Now she was quoting the sort of clichéd nonsense he liked to say for effect but she meant it one hundred percent. ‘Cally you’re upsetting your mother. You really are only a little girl, I’ll protect the family you don’t need to be thinking about such things’

‘You could have died on Macau Daddy. I don’t want you to but you might die the next time, I’ve got to be realistic about that. Alternatively what if something happens and you and the others are wounded or captured? It might be my job to save you and Jayne helps teach me how’

‘Do you think you could really kill or hurt people like that?’

‘Yes’ Cally replied bluntly ‘I’ve killed a man before and I’m psychologically tougher now. The Captain says it’s the crew before everything else and I’m part of the pack’

Jennifer rounded on her daughter ‘I sincerely doubt that Mal Reynolds was thinking about you carrying a gun or some such when he said that and in any case you obey your parents above anyone else don’t you forget it’

‘I know but Daddy does what Mal says even though he outranked him in the war. It’s chain of command and it’s the Captain’s ship’

‘Cally I’ll tell you straight it’s easier to be a follower than a leader and my orders have ended up killing plenty of my own people in the past even when I was doing the right thing. That’s why I obey the Captain because I know how painful his job can be. But in any case we’re going off-topic here. Let me make this clear, you will not teach your little sister how to maim people and you will not learn such things yourself, certainly not until you’re older’

‘The girl you and River captured wouldn’t have been much older than me when they started teaching her how to kill’ Cally argued.

‘You may be right but that’s the reason I have no real ethical problem with what they’re doing to the liúmáng over on Granite. One of the things that makes us better than him is the fact we don’t turn little girls into killers. Do you see that?’

The girl thought about it ‘I can see your point’ she said finally ‘but that doesn’t mean I won’t choose to carry a gun someday’

‘Cally if when you’re older you want to carry a firearm I won’t stop you but please don’t try and grow up too fast. Your mother and I love you very much and we want you to have as normal a childhood as possible’

‘Okay Daddy’

‘Do I get a hug now?’ he asked

Cally hugged her father making sure not to touch any of his wounds. Jennifer joined in then ordered the girl back to the shuttle where she had to close the airlock and not speak to her siblings any more about interrogations.

After she’d left the infirmary Cally headed up the stairs towards the shuttle that doubled as the Hicks Family home. On the way she thought about the conversation she had just had and made a decision to be more careful in future about discussing things she learned from Jayne. He’d promised to show her the best places to stab someone next time and she was looking forward to that.

* * *

Over in the rather more dilapidated Infirmary on Granite Gorge there was more practice than theory.

The Agent was strapped securely down on the bed and had been blindfolded and gagged for just over an hour to give his imagination a chance to do half the work before the crew got to work.

When the blindfold was finally removed he found himself staring up at four people. Two were the fugitives Simon and River Tam, one was the large man who had smacked him around earlier while the last was the one for had shot him.

The agents eyes darted from one to the other. River Tam looked scared which meant the conditioning was still holding to an extent, the Doctor looked like he was having a bit of an ethical crisis but not enough to try stopping the proceedings whereas the large one had a faint smile on his face and looked like he was going to enjoy himself.

The final occupant of the room who they called “Captain” and who therefore must be Malcolm Reynolds looked very pleased with himself.

‘Had any luck reading him River?’ Reynolds asked.

She shook her head ‘No. My fear of him is making it hard to concentrate and he also seems to be able to prevent me getting any details. I suppose they developed a technique for ordinary people to block telepaths to a limited extent’

‘Any ideas?’

‘I think it’d down to concentration’ River explained ‘he’s very wilful’

The Captain looked across to the large one ‘Let’s try something’ he said ‘Jayne break his concentration’

The large man “Jayne” grabbed hold of his smashed knee and squeezed. The pain was excruciating but the Agent couldn’t scream as they hadn’t yet removed the gag.

‘That’s enough Jayne’ the Captain ordered ‘Did that work River?’

‘It did for a second but then he blocked me again’ she sighed ‘I think we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way. I can still tell if he’s lying once you get him to talk. Also maybe once we break him I can read him clearly’

Simon felt the need to speak up ‘Mal are we really going to torture this man?’

‘That’s entirely up to him. If he’s got any sense he’ll just answer our questions without us having to’ Mal said ‘Personally I don’t like torture it’s been done to me and I’m not particularly sadistic, well maybe a bit on occasion but not as a rule’ he bent down over the Agent and looked him in the eyes. ‘You’re going to talk. We’ve got plenty of time to break you in so don’t delude yourself into thinking you’ll outlast us. Doctor can keep you alive and we’ll take turns if necessary’

‘Sleep deprivation works’ Simon pointed out.

‘If he’s not lucid I won’t be able to read him properly’ River told her brother ‘I can read though pain but confusion not so much’

‘Have you checked his blood group in case we have to give him a transfusion?’ Mal asked the Doctor.

‘Yes and the crash-cart is ready in case I have to bring him back’

The Captain turned back to the prisoner ‘Well lets get the formalities out of the way’ he said and removed the gag ‘are you going to cooperate?’

No reply.

‘Look you poor dumb son-of-a-bitch you’re only going to put yourself through a lot of pain for nothing. We’re not on the clock here’

‘He probably thinks we don’t know about the AI’ River commented.

The Agents eyes widened before he could stop himself reacting.

‘Oh so that’s what it is. You think we’re going somewhere and the AI ship tracking us is going to tell your colleagues where we’re heading so all you need to do is hold out until we get ambushed again’ Mal said ‘Sorry to disappoint you but we ain’t heading for anywhere we’re just flying randomly around the ‘Verse being followed by that gorram machine’

‘I sense a change in mood. He’s not so confident now’ River said ‘No point being a hard-case and trying to last out if you know the rescue party isn’t coming anyway’

‘I’ll try again then. Are you going to answer my questions freely?’ Mal asked.

Again no reply.

‘You might like to step outside Doctor. You won’t like this’ Mal told him ‘I’ll call you if you’re needed’

Simon looked from his Captain to the prisoner then back to his Captain ‘Try not to cause any damage that’s hard to fix’ he said simply then turned around and left the infirmary.

‘Want me to start cutting on him now?’ Jayne asked.

Mal considered for a second ‘We’ll try electric shock first. I checked those stun-guns and you can adjust the setting to suit our purpose. Interesting design feature that, I notice the logo on the things says “Blue Sun” so I ain’t too surprised’

‘Ah bitter irony’ said River with an evil smile on her face. ‘Can I go first?’ she asked.

Mal handed her a stun-gun with the voltages adjusted for its secondary use. ‘I doubt she’ll get bored running current through ya any time soon but if you decide to talk at any time just raise your hand’

‘I’m strapped down’ the Agent pointed out. It was the first words he’d spoken.

‘Then you’ll be having a bad day’ Mal told him.

Jayne started laughing. Sometimes the Captain was hi-larious.

* * *

Book faced off against Zoe at the airlock between Serenity and Granite Gorge. She was under orders to keep him out and he was driven by faith to go through and stop the immoral proceedings happening on the other side of the airlock.

Faith was frankly no match for Zoe’s loyalty, but the Shepherd continued to appeal to her getting nowhere. She wasn’t going to let him through and would use force if necessary. Book was better at hand-to-hand combat than a Shepherd had any right to be but he doubted he could take Zoe she was faster and wouldn’t pull her punches like he would.

They were still remonstrating when the first scream echoed across from Granite Gorge. Book flinched but Zoe was unmoved and unwavering.

After another five minutes listening to intermittent screams the Shepherd gave up went off to pray for the souls of his people. Forgive them Father they know not what they do he thought sadly.

* * *

Some time later Mal walked through the Airlock where Zoe still stood waiting in case Book returned.

‘He break?’ Zoe asked

‘Yeah tougher than I thought he’d be though’ Mal shook his head ‘Don’t like doing things like that’ he said

‘Learn anything useful’

‘I wouldn’t say useful’ Mal replied ‘The word Simon used was “horrifying” and I reckon that seriously rutting understates the situation’

‘We in trouble?’ Zoe asked ‘More than usual I mean’

‘Everybody is in trouble and I mean everybody’ Mal replied.

‘What we going to do’

‘Run for our gorram lives for now’

‘Then what?’

‘First things first Zoe we got the command codes for the AI ship and it’s going to be docking in a while. I’ll go tell Wash to cut the main drive’

‘Why the hell are we docking with it can’t we just tell it to crash into something?’

‘We need it. It’s heavily armed and once we’ve got it tamed it’ll be useful’

‘Why the hell would we need that?’

‘Desperate times, desperate measures’

‘You avoided the question just now. What are we going to do long-term?’

‘Haven’t planned that far ahead, although we may be paying a visit to the Core’

‘What kind of visit?’

River appeared behind Mal and answered the question for him ‘One that begins with a message to the Blue Sun Corporation’

‘What message?’ Zoe asked.

River answered ‘I’m thinking something along the following lines “When the world turns bright, don’t look at the light. Now bend down, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye”’ River told her.

‘The AI ship is carrying a couple of EMP Thermonukes’ Mal explained. ‘River says we should be able to modify them for other purposes’

‘Tāmāde’ Zoe swore ‘we’re getting ambitious aren’t we?’

‘The funny thing is that so far that’s actually the least drastic solution I can come up with’ River announced. ‘Trying to provoke a Civil War or a Revolution might be beyond us, at least given the time restraints’

‘So the Civil War comes later then?’ Mal asked.

‘It’s on my to-do list’ River told him.

Part XII


Monday, February 16, 2004 8:19 AM


We seem to be amasing a lot of resources, including ship-killing ironmongery and a fair amount of intelligence. More, though, I love that you haven't neglected how warped Cally is becoming.

Monday, February 16, 2004 1:12 PM


This is good but mercy, is there anyone we aren't corrupting? Can't wait for the next gorram part. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, February 16, 2004 9:07 PM


"Repeated Victories in the field can't save their souls."

One of the things I like about the story is that you offer both superficial action and success whilst not neglecting the fundamental damage to the characters. These events change people, and you show that.

Thursday, February 19, 2004 2:49 PM


To "artships" - Whilst I must admit to love writing gun-play I do feel the urge to at least try and put some depth there too. Thanks for noticing

To "AMDOBELL" - Not everyone is going to be corrupted. It's just that the list of innocents is going to get progressively shorter over time. I have big plans for Cally and a darker River in the future

Monday, February 14, 2005 7:36 PM


just out of curiosity, you wouldnt be modeling Cally after Matilda in the Professional? 'cause I can definitely see Jayne being Leon.


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