GENIUS SERIES: 26. "Desperate Measures"
Thursday, March 30, 2006

"The Alliance board Serenity and there's nothing the crew can do about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures."



SUMMARY: "The Alliance board Serenity and there's nothing the crew can do about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

The loud clank and grind of metal shifting into place was replaced by the deep solid clunk of two ships joining. One inert, the other in deliberate motion. All movement stopped, the short silence swallowed up by the cycle and hiss of air released under pressure, then heavy feet were pounding, soldiers pouring in through the air lock and checking every room, every inch of the Firefly. As the purplebellies peeled off a cry came from further down the ship and Councillor Tam swept towards it with Commandant Austin trying to hurry on his short legs and keep pace with what little dignity he could muster.

Lieutenant Grey stuck his head into the end of the corridor and looked back at them. "In here, seems the Captain's still awake!"

The Councillor did not let her surprise show. That pressure wave should have knocked everyone out but then she didn't exactly rate Serenity's Captain much above the beasts of the field so why should she be surprised that the pulse had so little effect on him? After all, it was fashioned on brainwave patterns. A weapon to strike at the heart of intellect. Impatient to find her children she simply indicated with a nod for the Commandant to have the Captain bound along with the rest of the crew. She would handle the siblings herself.

In his bunk the Captain had problems of his own, namely the manhandling of the two purplebellies sent to drag his sorry ass into Alliance custody. Not that he could do much to fend them off. He was all kinds of dizzy and the ache in his head was doing more now than affecting his vision. Annoyed that the man was not co-operating, one of the soldiers grabbed Mal's arm and dragged him up off his bunk, his partner quickly snatching the Captain's hands behind his back and cuffing him. Efficient if none too gentle. They smirked at Malcolm Reynolds and began to drag and push him to the ladder. The Captain had gone a mite paler but neither man gave a good gorram.

"Might not wanna be manhandlin' me none, boys." He slurred. "Don't feel so good.."

He got a swift back hand across his face for his trouble, an ugly ring catching his cheek and ripping a tear in it. Oblivious to the flash of pain Mal stumbled, the impact driving him back as the soldier's partner tugged him forward again, the see saw effect setting off a fresh spike of pain and nausea. There was no warning just a brief gagging reflex then Mal threw up, his vision clouding as the pain intensified in his head, legs going weak as he began to crumple. Not mindful of the virulent curses from the two men and hardly conscious of their steel capped boots as they kicked him into the blessed deep dark of oblivion.

The assault stopped when the men realised their annoying charge was not responding. Carl Hackham leant cautiously over the body, wiping a vomit coated hand on the Captain's shirt. The man paused, spat then straightened and gave his partner a dull look. "Guess this means we have to carry the *tamade hundan*."

His partner, Bill Tucker, made a face and took a step back. "You carry, I'll be at the top of the ladder to haul him up."

Before he could protest, Bill shinned up the ladder and leaned down through the open hatch, a grim smile on his face knowing he had left his partner the harder job. Between them they hefted, dragged and pulled the Captain up out of his bunk then dropped him with satisfaction on the metal grating, hoping it would hurt like hell. But Mal didn't move and now they had the prospect of having to carry him onto their ship. Neither man was happy with that but orders were orders. With a grunt and unhappy nods to each other they each grabbed an arm and prepared to haul him away.

Councillor Regan Tam was frowning. Within minutes of boarding the transport ship they had located and found almost all of the ship's crew with a few notable exceptions. Despite checking and double checking there was no sign of River or Simon Tam. Eyes blazing with fury, Regan turned and drilled angry eyes into Commandant Austin. "Search again!"

He was about to say they had already done that, most thoroughly in fact, but the look on her face was enough incentive to change his mind. With a curt nod he turned and began to bark out orders just as Commandant Austin got a transmission from his navigator back on board the Rosencruz. His eyes widening he hurried to the Councillor's side, for once ignoring the look on her face. "Our ship's sensors have picked up something, ma'am."

The barely suppressed excitement in the man's voice sharpened her attention. "*Shenme*?"

"There is a vessel, very small and slow. A shuttle perhaps..."

Light glittered in her eyes as she realised what it must mean. But she had to be sure. "Commandant check the Firefly's shuttles."

She had barely finished speaking when confirmation came back. "One is missing..."

A slow look of triumph oiled its' way across her face. Turning she snapped at the Commandant impatiently and Austin signalled to his men to leave Serenity's crew where they were. Tucker and Hackham dropped the Captain and hurried to follow the Councillor and their Commandant back to the Rosenceuz. Commandant Austin gave a last look around the old Firefly then followed them, a feeling of relief seeping into mind and body as he stepped back on to his ship. With a snapped command they left Serenity adrift in space and turned the Alliance vessel in pursuit of a much smaller but far more valuable quarry.

* * * * *

Gabriel Tam was tempted to laugh. Oh, what he would have given to have seen his dear wife's face when she found the children gone! But the humour was short lived, he had to move and move fast. It would take minutes only for Regan and the Rosencruz to catch up with the Firefly's shuttle. He could not let her get her hands on the children. They were the future. The cornerstone of everything he had worked for all these years. The reason he had tied himself in a loveless match and suffered the excruciating boredom of married life.

While his wife had been busy tracking down their errant children he had not been idle. With a nasty little smile settling on his lips, his expression twisted into a grimace. It was time to let his dearly beloved get her first true glimpse of *diyu*. The order sent, he leant back in his chair and waited for the fireworks to begin.

* * * * *

He was so rutting cold. Couldn't feel his gorram fingers through the thick heavy gloves, his limbs aching with the need to keep his charges tethered and close to the underside of the hull. Trouble was, unconscious meant when the bodies drifted on their short tethers he was the one who had to hang on and keep them from knocking against the side of the gorram ship. It was kind of a shock when the shadow passed over Jayne Cobb's head to realise the Alliance ship was leaving. The profound relief was joined by a swell of triumph that made him want to yell and punch the air at having outwitted them. Truth to tell he had thought the Captain's plan was *chun* but had to admit Malcolm Reynolds was nothing if not a resourceful man. It was part of the reason he respected the Captain, that and he was one *wangu* and tough sumbitch.

Jayne waited, impatient for them to be out of sight before putting the rest of the plan into operation. He knew the clock was ticking. Had to hope the shuttle was far enough away that by the time it got boarded he could get some of Serenity's crew up and functional again. Because they would only get one chance at this. Failure was not an option any more than trying to chew vacuum was a viable alternative to death. Even a backbirth could have done the math.

* * * * *

It took less than an hour to locate the shuttle. Councillor Tam smiled, relaxing slightly and only just keeping her excitement in check. Losing control now would be a very bad thing. The little shuttle was not moving fast. She smirked. It was probably out of fuel, these *lese* craft were not intended for journeys of any distance but as short range ferries between the ship and a nearby planet. Regan tried another mind cast: nothing. It was becoming more than irritating now. She should be getting something even just a rebuff. Then she remembered when she had first boarded the Firefly to speak to Simon, the readers effectively blocking her from touching her son's mind. *Wode ma* they had even been protecting that thief of a Captain. Yet the readers had been left back on the Firefly which only left River and Simon on the shuttle. Or did it? An uneasy feeling settled in her gut as the shuttle was pulled into the huge cavernous maw of the Rosencruz's cargo bay.

Regan turned to speak to the Commandant but he was already barking orders, a team moving to board the shuttle. By the time she managed to voice her concern that they should proceed with caution it was too late. The explosion tore out a complete section of the hold, the soldiers who had been coverging on the shuttle struck by pieces of hot fragmenting metal as their hair caught fire, the blast throwing them back until a hole blown out of the superstructure sucked several of them out into the atmo. Alarms rang all over the ship. Baffled and angry the Commandant totally ignored Regan's attempt to speak to him, his mind a scatter of concerns that had nothing to do with her or her parliamentary privilege. Right now she was simply taking up space. Eyes glaring she rose to her feet, intending to make her way to the hold herself and see exactly what the damage was. To her surprise an erudite young soldier blocked her path, a polite mask momentarily hiding his intent from her.

"Move aside, I must see what has happened." The soldier did not so much as blink. "Ma'am, Councillor, I have a message for you."

The response was so unexpected that for a moment she blinked stupidly at him. "What are you talking about?"

Nothing betrayed his intentions. No fleeting premonition, no touch of his mind to warn her. The man was a blank slate, mind teflon coated so that the images of his thoughts did not linger. She had nothing to fasten on and no information to glean. A second was all it took then she was stumbling backwards, shock on her face. Understanding a slow sluggish trickle mirroring the crimson trail running down her face. Puzzled she raised a hand and touched the trail of blood. Staring at her stained hand without comprehension. She looked at the man as if expecting some kind of explanation. Noted with a strange abstraction the thin rod as the extended sides retracted. Calmly the soldier put the rod in his pocket.

A vaguely remembered word tumbled from her numb lips. "*Weishenme*?"

The man shrugged as if she were a fool to even ask. "To build a better world."

In some vast foggy recess of her mind she was connecting dots. Gabriel! It had to be but how had he done it? How had he found her? Was he connected to the Trojan Horse in the ship's hold or had that happy circumstance been nothing but a bonus for him? Regan felt light headed, her mind losing what little coherence it had left. Pictures in her mind turning inside out like negatives, memories blurring into impressionist works of art that bore no resemblance to anything she could grasp. "Who... who are you?"

A smile. Almost charismatic in its' art. Devereaux watched her like a hawk, not stepping aside but not touching her either. The deed was done. Alone on the bridge of the finest ship of the line, the crew scrambling to put out fires and repair the damage for the less glorious return trip. Empty. Regan opened her right hand and gazed down at it without knowing why she was doing so. Her vision blurred, she stumbled. Devereaux took a single step back and watched. Waited. Slowly things slotted into place and Regan managed to look him in the eye.

"My... my children. W...where are they?"

"Not here."

She frowned. "The shuttle..."

He shook his head, a flicker of something fluttered in his impassive eyes as if momentarily impressed. "Empty."

Her look was a lot duller now. Sentience fading fast. "Empty?"

As if as a concession to her vanishing senses, Devereaux leant towards her and whispered his response without inflection. "No one was on board."

Bewildered now, her eyes darted everywhere but saw nothing but confusion. "But..."

"Explosives. High yield detonation. Increased impact by being confined within the ship's hold." The soldier paused. "Quite clever really. Inventive even." She blinked, a hand braced against one of the units to keep herself upright. "You did this."

"No, but I wish I could take the credit."

Before she could ask him what the good gorram he meant the deck beneath her feet swayed and the dark of the Black washed over a mind quickly closing down. Dead before she hit the deck at his feet, Councillor Regan Tam lay with a puzzled look upon her face. Again the ship lurched. Devereaux stepped over the body and walked calmly through the ship, crew rushing passed him as he made his unhurried way to the escape pods. Settling into the small cramped compartment he closed the airtight door and pressed the ejection button. As he was flung out of the ailing ship Devereaux sent a last tight beamed signal. Just two brief, succinct words. Mission accomplished. Then he armed and triggered his own device, no expression on his face as the smaller but equally as deadly bomb ripped through his own rib cage shattering him into a messy pulp of blood, tissue and bone as his insides liquified.

* * * * *

The rushing in his ears made him feel more than a mite sick but it was the noise that finally roused him. The sound so harsh and grating on his eardrums that it was like a physical blow. The Captain groaned, hardly aware of large hands pulling him upright then patting him down. A voice rumbled, half concerned and half tense with impatience. "Gorrammit Mal, ya gotta wake up *dong ma*?"


Swaying, he was swaying. Everything a blur. Memory, motion, light, sound, every gorram thing in the 'verse was a method of gorram torture.


He could not respond, kept fading out, nothing making sense but the pain. Really worried now, Jayne took more notice of the man's condition. Alarmed to see that the bullet wound had reopened and fresh blood was oozing up through Mal's shirt. That and the drugs couldn't be good but Jayne needed the Captain to stay with him. Couldn't do this a-rutting-lone.

"Mal! Cap!" Jayne shook him. Harder than he should have but panic was making him less than gentle. Concern sharpening the look in his eyes. "C'mon Mal. This is your ruttin' plan, gotta pull yourself together or we's all gonna die."

Something penetrated the mush currently masquerading as Mal's brain. "W..what?"

Relieved, Jayne was a bit gentler this time. Firm hand holding the Captain steady while easing him to his feet. Not liking the way the man seemed to have no balance. "Mal, we gotta move *mashang* an' I can't fly this gorram boat."

The Captain blinked, his slurred speech actually starting to form broken sentences. "Huh, w...what? Boat?"

Jayne nodded. "C'mon, wanna be long gone before those *tamade hundan* discover we tricked 'em."

"We did that, huh?"

Despite how desperate things were Jayne grinned at him. "Oh yeah, just wish I could'a seen their gorram faces when the shuttle exploded."

He began to half drag, half carry the Captain across the cargo hold, heading for the steps up to the bridge. The Captain's head was killing him but the pain was beginning to bring him round. As he began to remember what had happened the Captain dug in his heels causing Jayne to stumble. "What ya doin'? We gotta get to the bridge!"

The Captain shook his head, immediately regretting it. Gritting his teeth he tried to concentrate, too many images of Jayne overlapping in front of him to be sure which one was real. "*Bu qu*, infirmary."

"No time for that, we'll stitch ya up once we're safe."

"No, not for me."

Jayne frowned but didn't stop the Captain when he lurched forward on stumbling feet. The mercenary deciding to keep Mal talking in an attempt to keep him conscious and moving, puzzled as to why he wanted to get to the infirmary so bad.

"River. Simon..."

"They're out of it, Mal. In fact, on'y you an' me's conscious."

They were up the stairs now and Jayne was trying to steer Mal to the bridge but he stubbornly made for the infirmary. Sucking in a frustrated breath Jayne followed, grumbling and swearing as he went. Once in the infirmary the Captain rumaged through drawers and cupboards. Jayne frowned. What in the nine hells was he looking for? Then Mal found the right cupboard, stood leaning on it for a minute or two, then straightened. He gave Jayne a steady look and the mercenary found himself hoping that the worst was over. Man looked like death warmed up but he was conscious and breathing. Jayne called that a win.

"What ya got there?"

The Captain was filling his pockets with little rubber capped bottles and rumaging around for a syringe. "Sedatives."

"Gorrammit Mal, didn't ya hear? We're the on'y ones awake, what the good gorram ya want sedatives for?"

Mal stumbled out of the infirmary and driven by curiosity now, Jayne followed. "River an' Simon."

"They's out."

A lot steadier now the Captain hardly stumbled at all as he went down the stairs, back into the cargo bay he picked his way over the unconscious bodies of his crew until he got to River. Jayne had placed brother and sister next to each other by the weight bench. Zoe lay a few more feet further on. Inara by the door and Kaylee within arms reach of her. The Captain carefully knelt beside River and took out one of the little bottles, pressing the needle of the syringe through the rubber cap and filling it. "Can't risk 'em wakin' up."

Alarmed, Jayne almost knocked the gorram needle out of the Captain's hand, his brows drawing together in a frown. "Thought ya said it was a sedative?"

"It is."

"But they's unconscious."

The Captain carefully injected River while he explained, knowing they did not have a lot of time. "Safest they stay that way. Once we've done Simon we'll have to do the readers as well."

"*Wo bu dong*."

Mal's headache was getting worse. He could feel his hands begin to tremble. He paused until he felt a little steadier then removed another bottle, filled the syringe and injected Simon in the crook of his arm. "We ain't got time for no discussion Jayne so let me speak plain. River an' Simon are Readers *dong ma*? Which means another Reader can sense 'em, pick up what they're thinkin'. Like some gorram radio."

The mercenary was absolutely sure that the Captain had lost it. He shook his head. "Mal, the Readers is out cold. Gorrammit, everyone but us is OUT COLD."

"Not them I'm concerned about, Jayne, but them as are followin'."

Jayne stiffened, his fingers tightening around Vera. "We bein' followed?" It was kind'a comical only no one was laughing. Mal was convinced he would lose the rest of his gut through the gunshot wound if he did laugh. "If we ain't it won't be long now. Our on'y chance is to keep 'em knocked out. That way the Readers after us got no trail to follow."

"Ain't Readers I'm worried about, Mal. It's them *shenjingbing* Tams."

The Captain had reached Thadius now and once he had finished with him moved on to Ruben. Only when he finished injecting the last Reader did he look up and meet Jayne's eyes, his own expression now clear. "Where d'you think they got their gorram abilities, Jayne?"

The big man frowned. "Thought they wasn't blood kin?"

"It's called gene manipulation." The Captain was back on his feet and hurrying back up the metal staircase, Jayne relieved to finally be making for the bridge. The sooner they got Serenity flying again the happier he would be. Happier still to have Kaylee fussing over the engine and Zoe there to watch their backs. "I reckon they used some of Regan Tam's genetic material but the rest has been carefully selected to augment their psychic ability."


"Enhance, make any ability they have much stronger."

"What for?"

Mal slid carefully into the pilot's seat and closed his eyes. The pain was scaling new heights and he didnt' want to risk passing out. Plenty of time for that once his ship and crew were safe. Noticing how pale the Captain was Jayne gave him a critical look.

"Ain't gonna die are ya?"

A hiss proceeded the Captain opening his eyes. Jayne thought they looked bloodshot. Man looked terrible. "Not plannin' on it, now make yourself useful."

"What ya want me to do?"

"Watch that gorram screen an' yell if you see anythin'."

"Like what?"

The Captain resisted the urge to get something heavy and hit his mercenary over the head with it. Knowing his luck he would break something they would need later and he wasn't thinking of Jayne Cobb's head. "Anythin' that moves that ain't us."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *shenme* = what *diyu* = hell *wangu* = stubborn *chun* = stupid *wode ma* = mother of God *lese* = crappy *weishenme* = why *dong ma* = understand? *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *mashang* = at once/quickly/immediately *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *shenjinging* = crazy


Thursday, March 30, 2006 1:17 AM


Wow. Fantastic, all those twists and turns!!! Worth waiting for :D This story rocks!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006 2:16 AM


Wow! Regan's dead and the assassin too? Good ending for them. The Captain's plan was great.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 5:56 AM


Wow, excellent chapter! Regan is dead but she isn't the only one that wanted Simon and River. . .

Now what is Gabriel up to...

Looking forward to the next chapter!

Thursday, March 30, 2006 3:13 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER fic is getting weird by the moment. And in a good way!

Interestingly, Regan's death scene resurrected a question I have pondered before since seeing "Ariel": do psychics suffer worse than normal humans when victims of Hands of Blue Rods? All that extra brain power must get pretty fritzed when the tool gets used....



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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.