Leaps of Faith - 9
Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mal and gun-runner Hadley Emerson finally face off and things get ugly.


Disclaimer: Not mine, no pay.

Thanks: To Jacqui, Josh and to Rion, my own personal BDH. You guys are the greatest.

Rating: PG-15 for violence

Remarks: Mal’s job goes all to hell.

Set after “Objects in Space”. Inara has departed from Serenity and things on board ship are getting more difficult. Click on my name to read the backstory. They’re all backstory.

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Leaps of Faith

Chapter Nine

Mal and Zoë have dragged the unsealed crate out in front of the others and flipped up the lid to show the weapons within. Awaiting the approaching men, they are both tense, wary. Both have unsnapped the peace straps on their weapons in the event things get ugly.

Mal can feel the tall, dark woman behind him like an oak tree. She stands, feet well apart, where she has many times, one of the few people in his chaotic life he trusts and can depend on.

“Now Zoë, anybody starts shootin’, we can use that stack of crates for cover. Anything happens to me, get the hell outta here and back to the ship so you can come rescue me, dong ma?” “Just one thing, Sir?” she asks, her voice low and wry. “Am I supposed to rescue Jayne, too?”


Emerson and his men come to a halt about twenty yards from the crates. All are rough sorts, heavily armed, and dressed in a mixture of cast-off military and civilian clothing. Their mounts snort and stamp; the men are still, wary.

The one-eyed man cocks his head back, stares hard at the two before him, takes in the open crate, the stack of more. He laughs once, a hard sound more like bark.

“So you’re Malcolm Reynolds. You Monte’s brother?”

Mal is still, watchful. “Nope, we’re cousins, fought together back’n the war. His boat’s broke down so he hired me to make his delivery to ya. Got off Santo clean as ya please and we’re just ready to get paid and head home.”

Emerson nudges his horse forward a few steps, cranes his neck to look at the contents of the open crate. “Them’s some right powerful lil’ pieces in there, ya know. How come the Alliance seal’s broke on this one?” He nods at the crate.

Mal keeps his voice level, easy. “Just had to make sure we were haulin’ what you ordered, is all. Don’t need no surprises in our line of work.”

“As you can see, there are all fourteen crates here and all the rest have their seals intact, so if you’ll just hand us our wage, we’ll be pleased to leave you and these gentlemen to load up your goods in peace.”

The silence is tense and uneasy, broken only by the squeak and jingle of tack on the horses and their soft, animal sounds. The men accompanying Emerson are clearly takin’ their cues from their bossman. One hand crossed over the other on the pommel of his saddle, Emerson just sits his horse, starin’ Mal down.

Mal thinks about Jayne’s warning and knows in his gut this is going south fast.

“Now, Mr. Emerson, as you can plainly see, we’ve fulfilled our part of this agreement. I’m hot and tired and would appreciate you bein’ a man a your word and payin’ me so we can be on our way.” There’s a firmer edge to Mal’s voice.

A nasty smile splits Hadley Emerson’s face and he laughs, rough and low. “Well, well, I knowed Monte was a gorram fool, but that trait sure seems to run in the family.” He spits, the brown-stained tobacco juice landing very close to Mal’s boot.

“Boy, you may be stupid, but I gotta give ya credit for balls. Here you stand, with nobody but a woman for back-up, and I got six armed men here to the two a you. Who’s to say I shouldn’t just shoot ya both and use that purty lil’ flyer to haul off my guns?”

Mal clears his coat behind the holstered pistol on his thigh and he can hear Zoë cocking her mare’s leg behind him.

“It doesn’t need to go like this, Emerson. Odds here aren’t nearly as much in your favor as you might think.” The corner of Mal’s mouth rises in a subtle smirk; his blue eyes never leave Emerson’s single brown one.

On the ridge above, Jayne watches through the rifle’s scope, the trigger just shy of release, listening to Mal’s half of the conversation.

The gun-runner spits again, this time even closer to Mal’s boot. “I hope ta God you don’t play poker, boy, ‘cause you can’t bluff worth a damn.” Just as the spurt of coffee-tinged spittle splatters on the gravel, Emerson whips his pistol free and fires off a round that nearly clips Mal’s ear.

Simultaneously, Zoë and the Captain let fly, backing quickly to take cover behind the stacked crates as Emerson’s men join the fray.

From his vantage point above, Jayne zeros in on Hadley Emerson and fires, the round taking the big man in the left shoulder and knocking him from his horse. Bullets are flying thick and fast as gun smoke and dust swirls, obscuring everyone’s vision. A horse screams and goes down and bullets hit and ricochet off the wagon, the crated arms, even the hull of the shuttle.

Mal’s wearing a grim smile. Their gunfire takes out one of Emerson’s thugs, wings another. The gun runner rolls to take cover behind the dead horse, firing off shots as he’s able.

"Damn!" Zoë curses. "Cap'n, I'm hit!" Mal turns to see blood streaming from her right bicep, the flesh ripped by the bullet's passage. The dark woman's teeth are clenched, her gun hand limp. She shifts her weapon into her left hand, aims and fires as best she can.

At the same moment, Mal feels the red-hot score of a bullet just above his ear and yells into his earbug, “Jayne, this might be an excellent time to get your ass off that hill! Zoë’s down.”

(To be continued...)


Saturday, April 15, 2006 11:43 AM


Well, we knew someone would get hurt. At least it's not Jayne...yet. Way too short, but you're posting 'em quick! More please!

Saturday, April 15, 2006 8:37 PM


Kinda surprised ya didn't have Jayne put a round through Emerson's good eye, hisgoodgirl...though maybe Jayne's up for some 1-on-1, up close and personal payback;)


Sunday, April 16, 2006 3:03 AM


Ooooh, now the trouble is really starting! Wait till Emerson sees Jayne coming down the hill.

Love the description of the action.

Sunday, April 16, 2006 12:26 PM


ooh, quick, keep writing! You can't leave it off just when it all goes to go se...

Monday, April 17, 2006 7:08 AM


It's all written out before ever I start posting, Ravenhair. I'm just an evil tease and like long wet kisses that last for days...and stories that keep readers hangin' on. <wink!>

Saturday, June 24, 2006 4:52 AM


tease!?! ooh, you little minx...



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