The Treasure of Lei Fong Wu -- Chapter Sixty-One
Saturday, March 4, 2006

Cue the ass-kicking music . . .


The Treasure of Lei Fong Wu

Chapter Sixty-One


“WEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAA-HAAAAAAAAAA!” screamed Hoban Washburn with unfettered glee, as the product of a lifetime of flying fantasies became reality under his hands. Never had he experienced such profound joy at the act of flight as when he took the tough little fighter in a winding course through and around various protrusions on the surface of the Sun Tzu. It was better than sex. Better than sex with Zoe. But it was close. He had flown a lot of different ships over the course of his storied career, everything from an elephant-like Luxor Titan passenger transport a thousand feet long to a speedy little Agni Express courier, countless nameless shuttles, bulk freighters, and, of course, his beloved Serenity. The Marauder beat them all. No contest. It was simply the highest-performing ship he’d ever flown. Designed for speed and maneuverability, the Marauder’s powerful reactor pumped power into the engines with gay abandon, producing a low, throaty roar that underscored every move he made. He loved Serenity – he’d spent more time and attention on the old Firefly than any other ship in his experience, and he loved the way she flew – but this was like trying fine, single-malt scotch for the first time after drinking cheap bourbon all of your life. The Marauder responded to his slightest touch with instant, eager compliance. She leapt ahead like an arrow from a bow when he jacked up the throttle. She spun in tight circles at his command, executed rolls instantly, and banked and climbed almost before Wash told her to. Launch had been a little tricky – apparently after a hundred years of neglect in a nasty hydrogen-and-crap atmo, fighting tremendous pressure and gravity, a few of the launch structures had been sticky – but he had screwed with the attitude controls until she had forced her way out of the bay like a chick poking through its eggshell. Then there had been ten minutes of “getting to know you” time, when he had to evaluate for himself that everything worked and how everything worked. After that, he put her through her paces, using prominent protrusions on the Sun Tzu’s massive hull as benchmarks to fly around. He held her at full throttle for a few seconds to let her “clear her throat”, and then raced from stem to stern of the massive battleship, slowing down only long enough to buzz the Bridge, where Master Lei was monitoring his progress. He had to be careful, of course, as the gravity signature the Sun Tzu had was powerful enough to affect his flying – but unlike most of his other piloting gigs, the Marauder had no internal gravity generators of its own, so he didn’t need to worry with meshing fields humping up his flight plan. He was in free fall the entire time, the way God intended people to fly in the Black. More than any other ship, the Marauder felt like an extension of his body, a part of his soul he needed to pre-flight. The high whine of the injectors, the roar of the engines, the hiss of life-support, and the intense, bone-jarring vibration of the whole package seemed to envelop him, invade him, command him even as he commanded it. It was a perfect mesh of man and machine, united for one purpose. “Oh my God!” he declared as he executed a tighter-than-humanly-possible banking turn around a communication tower – something that would have cracked up Serenity all over the hull, had he tried the same shenanigans with her. The Marauder did it without complaint, and seemed eager to do it again. “I think I’m in love!” He threaded the needle under other protrusions and towers, braked her hard, almost to a stop, then accelerated at maximum straight up in a thrilling climb that took him outside of the gravity well. Then he pushed the stick back down, plunging in a full-powered dive that lit him up like a Christmas tree. He could feel the hairs standing up on the back of his neck, the goosebumps on his forearms, the butterflies in his stomach and the pure sexual thrill run up his spine as he did so. She was sleek, and fast, and nimble. She was everything you could ask for in a high-performance ship. She wasn’t a waddling shuttle, or a mammoth transport, or a rickety tub; she was the aerospatial equivalent to a velociraptor: fast, smart, and deadly. This is why he had wanted to fly. He pulled up only meters away from the outer hull, did a side skid that yawed him sharply to the right, flipped over onto the dorsal side, and wove his way in a slalom through a series of signal detection towers. At the last tower he flipped back over and gunned the engines, shooting ahead like a greyhound. The grin just would not leave his face. “Are you quite finished yet?” came the dry voice of Master Lei. “You’re just jealous!” accused Wash. “Yes, I am,” agreed the monk. “That does not change the fact that you have exhausted almost 15% of your fuel reserves and have yet to approach your first target.” “I had to check it out,” he said defensively, still grinning. “Couldn’t go into battle without knowin’ what she could do.” “And have you established that yet?” “I think we’ve made each other’s acquaintance,” he reluctantly agreed. “But after this is all over – provided we aren’t all dead or in prison – I wanna do this again.” “That can be arranged,” intoned the monk. “Now, can we head for the first drone?” “Roger that,” Wash said. “Feed me the coordinates.” A few beeps later, they were shown on his monitor. “Shiny! Hey, I’m gonna have to cross near that gorram frigate on the way there – you sure they got their teeth pulled?” “Well, it is theoretically possible that they were able to deploy some men in EVA suits with high-powered lasers or portable missiles on their hull – but I think it unlikely. Other than that, they should be in the dark and scared by now.” “Just how I like ‘em! Shiny. Computing an intercept with Bandit One now.” “ ‘Bandit One’?” Master Lei asked, bemused. “Just . . . trying to strike . . . y’know . . . a more military feel to this whole thing.” “Very well,” the Taoist Master said, chuckling. “Good hunting . . . Wildfire!” “Damn straight!” Wash said, pulling a snap roll into a banking turn and speeding off towards the nearest drone. The fierce little ship performed the maneuver perfectly. “Zoe is so gonna get boned when I get back!” Wildfire said to himself. *




The commandos deployed as silently as he could have asked for, each of them moving to a pre-selected spot in the bay. Some climbed aboard vehicles, others began quietly building emplacements in and around them. Jayne took both batteries and disappeared into the darkness, as quiet as a breeze. Johnny found a position well forward of the rest of them, an aisle between a line of lightly armored rollers and another of tall-legged walkers, armored gun emplacements on tall mechanical legs, kind of like a mobile deer-stand. Mal almost wished that they could have activated a couple of those, but he was certain they took some training to drive – if ‘drive’ was the right word. Besides, all those moving parts probably required a significant amount of maintenance to put back into trim. Johnny found a wide spot in the aisle and opened a duffel bag full of flash-bangs and stunners. Chou was ensconced on top of a heavy-duty APC with the 105mm recoilless rifle set up in the crow’s nest, and Jen had prepared an emplacement on the hood of a mule for the laser. The others were spread out, scattered among the vehicles. Mal was pleased. There had been times in his life when he was so far out of his element that only his good looks and his cocky attitude had been standing between him and certain doom, times when he was trying to be someone who he wasn’t quite sure he could be. He had tried ranching, commercial spacing, retail, and other, more improbable occupations before and after the war. Never had he felt as secure with his place in the universe than when he was commanding a squad in battle. He had known that from the first time the lieutenant had nodded to him after the Sarge of his very first unit had got his fool head blown off and said, well, Reynolds, I guess you’re in charge, now. He had been a good soldier. He had become a great non-com. Using a combination of keen discernment, a casual, easy manner, and a tenacious loyalty to the men under his command, he had become Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds, and thirty-odd men had looked to him to be both Mother and Father. The Overlanders had been his home, the first time he had truly felt at home since boyhood. He had had a purpose. He had had respect. He had had a place. Sure, the pay was irregular, the food was . . . call it inadequate, to be charitable, and the hours were terrible, but when the bullets began to fly he had fought his men well – as well as he had ever done anything. Through four lieutenants and five C.O.’s he had shepherded his people through misery and heartbreak, through certain doom and inevitable defeat, wresting victory from the arms of Fortune when every power on Heaven and Earth had insisted that it was impossible. Right up to Serenity Valley. Perhaps there was something to what the Doctor had said. Perhaps he was just an adrenaline junkie. Truth was, he only felt half alive when he wasn’t fighting for his life or pulling one over on the ‘verse. And since Serenity Valley, he had only felt half alive in the best of circumstances. Truth was, soldiering and thieving were the things he was best at, and even if things had gone differently on Hera it was likely he would have found a way to recapture those tense moments when his nerves were taught as piano strings and every breath could well be his last. But there was more to it than that. With the Overlanders he had been walking into battle under the Eye of God, every step sanctified with the assuredness that he was fighting a righteous battle. He had been able to walk into enemy fire secure in the knowledge that what he did well, he did for a high, noble, even holy cause. His successes along the way were proof: how many times had Fortune put him behind the eight-ball? How many times had he seen the path through the chaos and destruction that led to salvation and victory? God had been guiding his hand, putting words in his mouth to fire the spirits of his dejected troops and plans in his head to direct them. God had been his C.O. back then, and his success in battle, his aptitude for applied mayhem had made him worthy in His eyes. Until Hera. Until Serenity Valley. God had walked away from him, then, and no matter how hard and how well he fought his people, he was no longer worthy in the eyes of the Almighty. For reasons known only to Himself, God had turned His face away from him and left him with naught but Fortune for guidance. And Fortune, while a pretty lady, was fickle. Oft as not she turned her back on him. He had learned to live with her – she appreciated his talents, respected his profession – but being found worthy in Fortune’s eyes was a tin prize, compared to the divine glory of his youth. When God Himself found you worthy of His grace and favor, you were sanctified. When Fortune found you worthy, you found four bits that fell out of someone else’s pocket. There was a need within Malcolm Reynolds to feel worthy, and it had been a long, long time since he had ought but Fortune to comfort him. He touched the silly sword he still wore on his hip. It was awkward, and like to get him in trouble when things got hairy – and things always got hairy, thanks to his metaphysical lover – but he still wore it. There was, perhaps, an alternative to Fortune to fulfill his need. Problem was, Fortune had a jealous streak. Jayne silently padded up to him and muttered in his ear. “They’re done.” Mal nodded. “You sure you wanna do this?” Jayne looked insulted. “Well, it ain’t like some o’ the stupid stuff I used to do.” “Thank goodness you’re beyond all o’ that.” “I’m surprised you ain’t flippin’ me for it,” “I’d . . . prefer to direct,” Mal admitted. Though the thought had crossed his mind. “Need to make sure these fellas stick to the script. Remember, don’t kill ‘em, just shake ‘em up a mite.” “Consider ‘em shook. I’d be obliged if you wouldn’t let anyone shoot me durin’ the performance. I’d find that off-puttin’.” “I’ll do my best,” Mal promised. Jayne nodded, then turned to go. He caught himself and looked back at Mal. “From our side, too,” he added, his brow furrowed. The Imperial commandos had not been pleased with the condition in which he left the facilities at the Camp, nor had warmed up to the gruff-but-lovable-and-a-little-gross side of him that Mal and the crew had come to know and tolerate. “I’ll make a note,” Mal agreed, with just a trace of reluctance. “I’d take it as a kindness. With our luck, they’d just pop one in my arse-cheek instead o’ my back.” With that he disappeared back into the gloom. Jayne was the lead. When he was ready, they would start the assault. Mal had planned dozens of assaults in his career, and all of his best work had used the elements of surprise and fear to the best advantage. This was no different. To just walk up to the bounty hunters, guns blazing, would see them immediately respond – an armed assault was well within the realm of possibility. Mal didn’t want his opponents that comfortable when he did press home his assault. He wanted them confused and frightened and off-balance. He wanted to take them out of the expected and kick them square in the balls with the completely unexpected. Behind him he heard the whine of the engine starting up. He checked the bad guys through the binocs and noted that in their complacency they hadn’t noticed it above the ventilation. Then Jayne opened the throttle and the unmistakable growl of a hydrojet kinetic transfer engine echoed in that huge room like the hunting cry of a tiger. The noise oscillated a little, lingering a moment at the top of the cycle before coming back down to a low-toned roar. And it was loud. That woke them up. The bounty hunters were instantly on their feet, guns in their hands, nervously scanning the dim expanse of the bay, seeking the source of the roar. It didn’t take them long to figure it out. Jayne drove past Mal on a Konsaru-Honda 811 motorcycle, tires squealing painfully and engine revved up to a predatory howl. He had added a combat helmet to his wardrobe for the occasion, which almost obscured the mirrored goggles and toothy, idiot grin on his face as he raced by. Yes, Mal had been tempted. The K-H 811 was a classic bike, and this one had been built to combat specs. They had chosen a bike for the opening act because of its simple design and the likelihood that it would actually work just by adding power. The hydrogen bath would not have degraded, and none of the moving parts should have corroded either. And Jayne knew how to ride one. Had insisted on it, in fact. He turned on the blazing white headlamps and pushed the throttle to maximum, then steered it with his legs for a moment while he drew two machine pistols and emptied their magazines at the doorway at the far end of the chamber. The muzzle flash and the staccato bursts added to the effect nicely. In five seconds, Jayne had thrown the enemy camp into confusion. When the guns were empty he discarded them, then prepared for his finale. He took his speed up as fast as he dared. Then he very carefully laid the bike over, letting its momentum carry it forward while he made a gingerly exit from the seat and away from the big piece of metal, plastic, and Japanese engineering – Mal estimated close to a thousand pounds. Force equals mass times acceleration. The bike struck the enemy camp like a rock in a pond. Jayne wasn’t content with just letting go, however – that would have wasted an opportunity. As he was flung clear of the bike he drew his favorite big black .45 revolver and barked six heavy shots after the bike before his shoulder stopped his slide with the help of the wheel of a jeep. When he realized he wasn’t hurt, Jayne rolled off behind an APC to collect his thoughts. As the bike crashed splendidly into the far wall, Mal nodded towards Johnny, who wasn’t looking at him. He knew what his cue was. Johnny drew the bat Master Lei had made for him, fished a flash-bang from the bag next to him, activated it and threw it up in the air. Then he smacked the hell out of it. He had called it ‘batting practice’, and insisted he could drop grenades on them from afar with greater accuracy than a grenade launcher. After three quick shots, Mal was inclined to agree. Explosions echoed through the bay as the loud, bright charges blew up over the heads of the bounty hunters. When the third grenade landed, everyone else opened up, too. That should hump with their inner peace. Mal dropped the binocs and picked up his own assault rifle and started taking potshots at the bad guys, who were scrambling for cover. He aimed to scare, not to kill, of course, but that still meant lots of fun. Happy as a kid at Christmas, he fired off shot after shot, and he could feel Fortune sidling up beside him like an old lover. She wasn’t the best girlfriend . . . but she was comfortable.





Campbell and River sat huddled against a bulkhead in a side corridor a few dozen feet away from the entrance to the Engine Room. River pulled her knees up under her chin and closed her eyes. Campbell kept watch through a little mirror he had placed on the other side of the corridor. From here he could see the two guards that held post here, a couple of Anglics that appeared unacquainted with the joys of bathwater. They held their guns like drunken pirates and slouched like sacks of potatoes. In his professional opinion they were the basest kind of mercenary, little more than bandits and thugs. Campbell was not impressed. “It shouldn’t be long now, my dear,” Campbell said quietly. “When they are drawn off I will remove any further obstacles and we can proceed.” “They aren’t very nice men, most of them,” River said conversationally. “They’re scared. And stupid.” “Most soldiers are,” agreed Campbell, “although extending them the courtesy of that title might be overgenerous.” “When I was a little girl I used to steal Simon’s soldiers – his toys – and I would invent all manner of stories with them,” River said. “Mother never approved. She said it was unladylike to play such games, and she would buy me more dolls. Tall, blonde, beautiful dolls with large wardrobes that I hated. I used to have Simon’s soldiers kidnap them and do . . . terrible things with them,” she admitted. “They were stupider than the soldiers by far. Empty plastic heads and big plastic boobs. That’s how Mother wanted me to be. Mother would get very upset when she caught me playing like that.” “All mothers want their children to conform to their own ideals of what they should be,” Campbell commented. “Rarely are they realistic ideals.” “Really?” River asked, curious. “I’ve only had the one. Not enough for a valid statistical sampling.” “Such has been my experience,” Campbell assured her with a smile. “She hated it when I played with Simon’s toys. She thought I should be interested only in dolls and dresses. How utterly boring. She kept taking me to counselors because of how I was.” “You must forgive her. Our parents usually have the best of intentions, but the largest of blind-spots when it comes to their progeny.” “Forgive her,” River said, staring at Campbell. “Why?” “I’m sure she only wanted the best for you. Was she really that poor a mother?” “No,” River said slowly. “Apart from sabotaging my intellectual development at an early age, imposing outmoded societal mores on me, and forcing me to conform to some pre-existing and archaic ideals of class and station.” “That doesn’t sound so unusual,” Campbell said with a slight smile. “She also sent me to a brutal brain-washing camp where they stole my adolescence and performed invasive brain surgery on me ninety-two times, essentially destroying my sanity and permanently altering my base personality,” River added. It was Campbell’s turn to stare. “Well,” he said slowly, “there is that.” “It does cast kind of a shadow on our relationship.” “The teenage years are always rough,” he conceded. “At least you were spared the inevitable disappointment of your prom.” Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of explosions a few sections over, muted by the intervening bulkheads. Campbell perked up. “It looks as if Captain Reynolds has begun. It shouldn’t be long now.” “Good. My butt is asleep.” Sure enough the two guards had perked up as well, bringing their weapons into a more useful position as they looked around alertly. There was a stirring within the Engine Room as bounty hunters came and went, trying to determine the situation. A few minutes of this and orders started to be shouted. In quick order a group of a dozen or so bounty hunters departed the area, more like an angry mob than a disciplined military unit. “That is our cue,” Campbell declared as the last of them disappeared around the corner. “They left their two sentries, but I should be able to handle them in short order. Are you certain you don’t want a weapon?” “I hate violence,” River said, wrinkling her nose in disdain. Campbell nodded. “Stay here,” he said, securing his carbine on its harness. He began a stealthy creep towards the sentries. Campbell crept slowly and silently, keeping his breath shallow and his movements fluid. His feet made no sound when they touched the floor. His mind was carefully blank – people could tell when they were being watched, being focused upon. The slightest thing could alert an enemy sentry to your presence, which would invite disaster. He had that drummed into him while still an Imperial recruit, and hammered into a law of nature by countless exercises and missions over the years. Accidentally kicking a random piece of metal debris across the floor, for example, is usually not the best way to approach an enemy sentry. In fact, it attracts quite a lot of attention. When Campbell’s boot did just that, and the twisted piece of metal rattled its way ten feet across the corridor, both men were immediately looking in his direction. Campbell didn’t hesitate. He was still trying to handle this in a stealthy manner, as he was certain that there were yet more bounty hunters within the Engine Room, so he did not draw a weapon. Instead he launched himself across the intervening space and began hand-to-hand combat before either one could manage to raise the alarm. At least, that was the plan. As he collided with the first of the two men, a broad, heavy man with a sloping forehead and a jaw like an asteroid, he took half an instant to lash out with his left leg and smash the smaller man in the temple with the point of his boot. Not hard enough to kill – but unfortunately not hard enough to render him unconscious, either. It just pissed him off real bad. The angle was wrong for a forceful kick, as his balance was thrown off by treading on another piece of debris in mid-attack. Fortunes of war . . . Campbell had his hands full, then. He gave Big Man a hammer blow across the larynx with both hands while his right leg struggled to find sure footing. When his foot finally did take steady root on one clear spot on the floor, he was able to drive his left knee up against Big Man’s chest, where it hit his armored vest with a respectable amount of force. For a smaller man, the contest would have ended there. Meanwhile, Small Man was reeling from the blow to the head, one hand on the floor to steady him. He yelled in pain, the yell turning into a coherent shout for help and back-up. He got out two whole sentences before Big Man had been sufficiently subdued to spare him another kick. Only Big Man wasn’t all that subdued, which made the second kick as ineffectual as the first. Campbell was tempted to laugh. Here he was, a spy, an assassin, an Officer of the Imperial Military Intelligence Corps, veteran of hundreds of missions – being shown up by the combat equivalent of a couple of drunks in a bar. If he wasn’t so desperate to end this farce, he would have acted on his temptation and laughed hysterically. Whatever else, he was successful at keeping either of his two foes from drawing a serious weapon. He was also too busy with that to draw one of his own. And the floor, for some reason, was strewn with hundreds of bits of charred and broken metal debris, which made finding solid footing an impressive feat in itself. Oh, he landed blows, punishing Big Man solidly, but between the armor and the considerable natural padding he had, no blow he struck had been decisive. He was glad his hand-to-hand instructors weren’t there to witness it. Long before he was ready to tackle a new challenge, four reinforcements arrived from the Engine Room. Three were as scruffy and unkempt as these two, while one had a shaved scalp and determined step that screamed ‘professional mercenary’. All four had their guns out. That was more trouble than Campbell was willing to take responsibility for, so he began to look for an exit strategy that would leave him with the least number of gunshot wounds. As suddenly as the newcomers had arrived, he saw a blur out of the corner of his eye that seemed to be the form of River Tam . . . walking up the body of Small Man like he was a staircase. In half a moment her bare feet were standing more or less on his shoulders, though it didn’t seem as if her weight was really on her feet. Then very carefully, but very quickly, she kicked three of the men in the face with brutal efficiency. Small Man, at that point, had realized he was being used as a staging area for an ass-kicking. He lurched to the side and flailed wildly with his arms to dislodge his unwelcome passenger – but it wasn’t enough to avoid two wild blows thrown by his comrades attempting to neutralize the whirling figure of a ninety pound wisp of a barefoot girl in a floral print dress. River took it in stride by the simple expedient of stepping off of one man’s shoulders and onto another one, launching another series of kicks while she did so. More flailing and wild punches were thrown, none coming even close to the speeding figure. River ended her fusillade of footwork by dropping lightly to the floor in a split that took her under the range of their fists and guns and into a forest of legs. Campbell was in awe, so much so that he had missed opportunities in his own conflict to land a decisive strike. He didn’t mind – watching River Tam fight was like watching an intricately choreographed ballet. She put her hands to the floor and spun her legs in a circle. Men fell off balance and careened into each other. They tried to kick at her, but she seemed to find the exact moment when their strikes put them off balance and push them with her dainty toes just far enough in one direction or another to become completely ineffectual, if not a complete hazard to their comrades. Still, no blow struck River. She used her own fists after she came to a rest, pulling her knees under her. There were crotches aplenty for River to strike, and a flurry of lighting fast strikes with her hands that rendered at least two of the men out of action. When the easy targets fell from range, she sprung to her feet in a perfect Howling Cat form, perfectly still, perfectly deadly, and ready to pounce. About three seconds had elapsed. She found his eye and for a crystal perfect moment, everything seemed to stop. “I don’t like violence,” she proclaimed. “But I’m very good at it.” Campbell didn’t know how to respond, so he finally pulled Big Man down with a jiu jitsu throw and knocked him unconscious with his elbow on the way down. River sprang back into action. The bounty hunters were doing their best to struggle to their feet and get into a defensive stance, but River was impatient. One by one she attacked them with a precision and viciousness like they had never before experienced. Slapstrike across the throat, leg sweep and then a floral-covered knee to the forehead as he sank. Back kick at thigh level into the solar plexus, then a full twisting turn that allowed her to kick the living snot out of his face with her other foot. Duck-and-sweep through a grasping attack, then a carefully placed kick to the anklebones that left the man’s foot a fleshy bag of bone shards held together by a boot. At the end of the routine, she went into a Turtle stance, waiting for someone else to invade her personal space. About that time, Big Man finally hit the floor. Everything froze for a moment once again. Baldy the Mercenary was still standing, if reeling, and Small Man was conscious and on his knees. Both looked closely at the slight girl during that second, and two pairs of eyes went wide with recognition. “It’s the Tam girl!” Baldy declared. “No guns!” At the same time Small Man choked out “It’s you!” at the same time River looked at him, narrowed her eyes, and said in a low growl, “You!” Small Man and River knew each other. There had to be a story there. River didn’t let the recognition get in the way of her next series of attacks. Working back and forth between the two she dodged their attempts to grapple with her, and laid down a rain of wicked blows on them. By her third pass she had finished with Small Man, and now faced off with Baldy, who apparently knew a thing or two about fighting. The contest lasted a full three seconds – right up to the point where River was landing one rabbit punch after another on the man’s chest and throat until he slumped to the floor unconscious. River adopted a Mountain stance, looked to see if Baldy was ready to get up and take another beating. When it was clear he wasn’t River sneered dismissively and intoned: “Ni shi wo de biao zv, tah ma de! You are so my bitch!” “Wow,” Campbell said, impressed. River was panting with the effort, but seemed otherwise unfazed. “I know you said to stay behind, but I couldn’t let those –” “I know, Miss Tam,” Campbell interrupted hurriedly. “I find myself much in your debt.” “Um, best not mention this to my brother,” she said, guiltily biting her lip. “He doesn’t really . . . understand, sometimes.” “It needn’t concern you. A girl has to have some secrets, after all,” he said with a laugh. “Are you ready to proceed?” “I’m just following you,” she insisted, dropping the fighting stance. With a little shake of her hair she was no longer a devestating killing machine and was instead transformed into a slightly gawky teenager whose hair never seemed to get completely out of her eyes. Campbell bowed, then took out his carbine again and thumbed off the safety. “Then by all means, let’s finally finish this foolishness.”


Saturday, March 4, 2006 1:53 PM


Fortune may be all friendly now but I doubt that'll last.

Also I'm placing my request for River's harmonica to feature again soon!

Sunday, March 5, 2006 7:08 AM


Yes indeed, Small Man is almost certainly my author-created namesake from earlier on in the story :)

I have to say, that River lass delivers one hell of an ass-whuppin' :) Brilliant stuff!

Monday, March 6, 2006 1:28 AM


oh God, this can't be happening. suddenly, after 89 consecutive, uninterrupted chapters, i have to wait for an update . . . liable to make a fella a might twitchy . . .

seriously though, this is masterful work, totally fluid weaving of all these separate little happenings. this is easily more suspenseful and endearing than most published works i've read, and i've read A LOT.

your work is a perfect translation of the spirit of Firefly into the written word. it sickens me to think of how crazy cool this story is going to end. but sickening in a good way . . . a very good way . . .

Tuesday, March 7, 2006 10:45 AM


I see Wash attended the Lord Flashheart School of Aviation: "Treat your plane like you treat your woman: get inside her five times a day and take her to Heaven and back! Woof!"

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 8:08 AM


WHOO! I love your Wash, I love your River. This has to be one of the best chapters ever! (Not to sound like the Simpson's Comic-Book Guy.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006 7:03 AM


*whoop!* go river!! go river!! *does cheerleader-type dance*

i thought the small man was the guy who's ass wash kicked at an arcade game.



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Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty-One
The battle begins, Rachel changes plans, and River meets the politest baboon she's ever met.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Thirty
The Uprising Begins

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Nine
A whole lotta folks get ready to do a whole lotta stuff.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Eight
The Confession of Dr. Rendell.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Seven
River remembers her birthday and meets a monkey . . . sort of.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Six
Inara Serra's Temptaion: The Lady, or the Tiger?

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Five
Inspector Simon and Dr. Romano have a little chat, and Fate gives him a gift

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Four
The excitement of piracy, the agony of waiting, and the anticipation of a completely stupid stunt!

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty-Three
Serenity arrives on the Suri Madron.

Unfinished Business -- Chapter Twenty Two
Simon gets tested, Zoe gets quizzed, and Kaylee gets . . . satisfied. For the moment.