Here Be Dragons (Part V)
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Crusading across the 'Verse


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.

Thanks to my regular readers for making it worthwhile to continue the story and special thanks to my Proof-Reader Landry.

* * *

Transport Ship Serenity – Grounded on Revelation – 2520AD

Irving was waiting in the Airlock for Mal’s arrival with Jayne keeping an eye on him as he lifted weights. Serenity had its internal gravity powered down so it was only the planets own point-six gee aboard and Jayne had a lot of mass on his barbell to make up for it.

To local eyes all the Serenity Crew looked “bulky”, although the colony was taller on average again thanks to the low gravity. Jayne however looked gigantic. And it was quite unnerving to watch him bench-press what to Irving looked like a small vehicle’s worth of steel.

Mal arrived in the bay and greeted Irving who nodded in response but maintained the somewhat aloof attitude he had displayed towards the crew since the Hicks family had been barred from the dome. The ship was due to boost for space the next morning, which would be none too soon in the opinion of many amongst both parties.

‘How can I help you Mr Irving?’ Mal asked.

‘We were wondering if you planned to dine with us tonight since it is your last night here. We realise that the incident at the school has strained relations but we wish you to know we hold no ill-feelings towards you as a group.’

Jayne snorted and made a not entirely inaudible comment about the local education system and the dubious parentage of its staff. A look from Mal silenced him completely and he went back to benching weight.

‘I will discuss it with my crew but other than Shepherd Book, I don’t reckon you’ll enjoy our company,’ Mal told him.

It was obvious from the barely disguised look of relief on Irving’s face that he doubted he would enjoy their company in the slightest. He had already faced complaints from numerous local families that the continued presence of the outsiders was a threat to their harmony.

‘The remainder of the trade items we are to exchange will be transferred shortly?’ Irving asked.

‘Yep,’ Mal told him. ‘Stack of crates over there is for you and as soon as your people arrive with a loader we’ll swap ours for yours.’

‘Very well,’ Irving told him. ‘If I do not see you before I will see you off tomorrow morning. Good day, Captain Reynolds.’

‘Good Day, Elder Irving.’

The local turned and departed back down the short corridor, which led towards the dome itself. When he was out of earshot Mal turned to Jayne. ‘I don’t want no trouble, but when they get here to unload I don’t want them snooping around the ship. They drop off our goods, pick up theirs and get the hell off my boat.’

‘How convincing am I allowed to be?’ Jayne asked.

‘Start off polite. Work up from there.’


Mal left for the bridge leaving Jayne to continue exercising and wondering how far he could throw someone in this gravity.

* * *

Kaylee was playing with Claire-Marie and John in the Galley. Mal could hear them down the corridor. Cally was with Jennifer in the infirmary having some more of that nasty smelling gel stuff put on her back. Simon swore by the stuff. Apparently it contained anaesthetic, burn cream, anti-septic and agents that boosted skin regeneration. The only problem was it gave the recipients skin a bluish tinge and smelled gorram awful.

Wash was checking the controls. He knew them so well he could do it blindfold by touch upside down in freefall. Actually, that was something he had once won a bet with Jayne on last year after a heavy bout of drinking.

‘We ready to lift?’ Mal asked.

The pilot turned in his seat. ‘No problem,’ he answered. ‘I can boost any time you want.’

‘Good. Still plan to leave in the morning but it’s nice to know we can leave earlier if needs be.’

‘Not expecting trouble are we?’

‘Just ‘cause I ain’t expecting it is no excuse not to be ready for it,’ Mal replied.

‘Do you remember when we lived less paranoid lives?’


‘Neither do I and that’s kinda disturbing.’

Mal went into one of his thoughtful looks. ‘We’re still flying and we’re still all breathing As long as that remains the situation I reckon I don’t much care how we live to accomplish it.’

No faulting the Captain’s priorities anyway. ‘Any notion at all where we’re heading next?’ Wash asked.

‘I’m thinking we go that way,’ Mal said, pointing up. ‘Then sort of that way,’ he said, pointing roughly to starboard.

Wash grinned. ‘I’ll pick a star over there and head towards it then.’

‘Yep, that’ll be fine,’ Mal told him.

* * *

Serenity/Granite Gorge – Revelation Orbit – 2520AD

After River scanned their guest, Mal unlocked the door to Laura’s quarters or, as she liked to call it, not entirely inaccurately, her cell.

‘I’m guessing you were getting a bit claustrophobic in there,’ he said as she shot past him into the corridor heading at full tilt to the “wide open spaces” of the cargo bay.

‘I hate you Reynolds,’ she yelled after her.

Mal smiled. ‘We’re just one big happy ship,’ he said to himself.

Still feeling leaden footed after a couple of days in reduced gravity, Mal set off for the engine room where Kaylee was powering up the reactor for the drain the main drive would put on it. Leaving Revelation had been totally uneventful. Jayne never even got to demonstrate his intimidating manner and all trades were made super smoothly.

Wash had become very skilled at docking the smaller Firefly with the larger Trance Class. He had mastered it, actually, turning it into a smooth manoeuvre, which he called “kissing” since the two ships were face to face with front locks joined. He had powered down Serenity and headed for the Bridge of Granite Gorge to choose a star to head towards.

Mal nearly tripped over John as he charged about with his model of Granite Gorge. It was nice to be back in space.

Mal arrived at Granite’s big engine compartment. ‘Running sweet, little Kaylee?’

‘Shiny, Captain,’ Kaylee replied. ‘I’ve told Wash he can get going when he likes.’

The engine changed tone slightly as the pilot engaged the drives and began to push the ships out of orbit. The initial compensators meant you couldn’t really feel the acceleration but there was definitely a change in the ship when it was under power. Mal wondered if it was vibration from the engines but never sought to ask, preferring to think it was the ships purring in happiness at being underway.

‘Before I go, is there anything mechanical I should know about?’ Mal asked. He was a great deal more attentive to the ship’s machinery since being shot and nearly asphyxiated because he’d once ignored it.

‘No, Cap’n. Everything is working fine on both my babies,’ Kaylee reassured him. ‘I’ve got parts I’d like to service on Granite but I can put the spares in while I do it so we won’t have to power down.’

‘Just keeping busy, Kaylee?’

‘Well, I just did a major overhaul on Serenity and if I don’t make a bit of a fuss of Granite now, she’ll get jealous.’

‘Well, I don’t want no jealous ships getting all cranky and unresponsive,’ Mal told her, ‘so I expect you to keep the green eyed space monkeys away.’

‘Yes Sir,’ the mechanic said, and pulled open a panel.

She was whispering sweet nothings into Granite’s Gravity Engine when Mal headed up to see Wash.

* * *

Serenity/Granite Gorge – Heading for “the third star on the left” - 2520AD

Mal stomped onto the Bridge and gave Wash a baleful glare. He was still tucking in his shirt and was more than a little red-faced.

‘This had better be good Wash. I was busy.’

‘So I would have guessed. The smell of Inara’s perfume is good on you, by the way.’

‘It’s the middle of the rutting night.’

‘Mal, I wouldn’t have called you from your bed, or rather someone else’s bed, if it wasn’t important. For one thing, you’d have done it to me and Zoe every night for a week out of sheer spite.’

The Captain took a deep breath. ‘Just get on with it.’

‘Transmission from Shadow. He’s picking up a vessel on sensors and reported it to me.’

‘Heading our way?’


‘Close to us?’


‘Then why in the nine hells did you drag me up here for something you could have mentioned in passing over breakfast?’

‘There’s a bit more to it, Captain’

Mal grimaced. ‘Tell the entire thing so I can get back to what I was doing.’

‘Shadow reads it as a Zheng He Class armed merchantman. Kinda old and unusual but that’s not the issue. The issue’s the drive.’

‘Go on.’

‘It’s running hot. Really hot…as in, no containment.’

‘Wode tìan,’ Mal muttered under his breath. ‘Gorram Reavers.’ He paused. ‘But they ain’t heading our way?’

‘No. Hell even if they did Shadow could feed that ancient bucket of bolts it’s own drive without even breaking a sweat. But that ain’t it at all, Captain. It’s heading for Revelation.’

Mal sighed. ‘Okay we’ll do our good deed for the day. Tell Shadow to get over there at Max Burn, toast the gorram thing then get his ass back here ASAP.’

Wash shook his head. ‘There’s more.’

‘Why did I know you were going to say that?’

* * *

The Captain had dragged everyone else out of bed, too and they were gathered bleary-eyed in the galley on Serenity.

‘Would you care to run that by me again?’ Simon requested, rubbing his eyes before taking a swig of coffee.

Mal was standing up at the head of the table. ‘There are Reavers heading for Revelation.’

‘That bit I got,’ Simon replied.

‘There are lots of Reavers heading for Revelation. I guess they moved into this part of space and located themselves an all-you-can-eat buffet.’

‘We sending Shadow over to intercept?’ Zoe asked.

‘Already on the way, but it ain’t that simple,’ Mal told her. ‘Hang on. I’ll show you.’

Mal grabbed several coffee cups from the table. ‘This here is Revelation,’ he said. ‘There are four different groups of Reavers heading from different directions, here, here, here and here’ he said, setting out the cups. The smallest group is a single ship, which is the one closest to us. Shadow is going to take it out en-route.’

‘Have we got a relative scale?’ Steven asked.

Mal shook his head. ‘It don’t matter. The problem is that Shadow says it only has time to intercept the lone ship and two of the other groups before the one coming from over that way gets to the planet.’

‘Couldn’t it head straight for Revelation and intercept them all there?’ Zoe asked.

‘The two groups it wants to intercept have mass-driver armed vessels amongst them. They could crack the dome from orbit, or maybe a lot further out if they still have working targeting computers and we’ve got to assume they do. Best move is to knock them out before they can get off a decent shot.’

‘Orbital mechanics play a part too. Shadow says it wants to ambush when the planetary orbit and rotation mean they can’t even get off a shot at the Colony and that means hitting them a good way out. Even so, by the time he reaches this lot they’ll be getting pretty close.’

‘What about the unarmed ships?’

‘They get to land. There just isn’t time for Shadow to hit all of the groups.’

‘We warned the colony?’

Wash rolled his eyes. ‘Sent a tightbeam transmission. They say they aren’t concerned as God will never abandon the faithful and in any case, Reavers are a myth.’

‘I swear if I ever meet the Alliance húndàn who started spouting that gôu pì about Reavers being a myth, I’m going to drag him out here and feed him to them.’ Zoe stated seriously.

‘The people on Revelation are unarmed. Even a small force of Reavers would butcher them… literally,’ Book said.

‘That’s why you’re here. At full burn we can be back at Revelation before the Reavers are. Do we do it?’

Jayne stared wide-eyed ‘You want us to go fight a bunch of gorram Reaver yaoguài to save that load of sanctimonious assholes?’

Mal looked at him. His vocabulary was definitely improving if not his delivery.

‘I want to hear what everyone thinks.’

‘Screw them,’ Jayne stated simply and unsurprisingly.

‘What about our non-combatants?’ Steven asked. Thinking of his children, but definitely operating in military mode.

‘We’ll have to bring them with us in case there are other Reaver ships about. We can ground both vessels away from the colony powered down. There was a valley nearby we could hide them in. We’ll be there before the Reaver ships are in proper scanning range.’

‘I don’t want my children endangered,’ Jennifer said simply.

‘Worst case scenario we call back Shadow blast our way out and leave the colonists to their fate. I’ve got my priorities,’ Mal told her.

‘There are hundreds of other children on Revelation who need our protection,’ Book said. ‘We should offer it.’

Steven looked at his wife, who nodded. ‘When hearth and home are threatened and things are at their worst, with cries of Death or Glory…’ he muttered. ‘I’ll dig up my Lancer Beret,’ he said.

‘It’s righteous Crusaders time again then, is it?’ Zoe asked. ‘I’ll go where you go, Captain.’

River looked around. ‘Code of the warrior,’ she said. ‘Defend the weak and innocent. Fight and, if necessary, die with honour and valour. Eternal loyalty to the king.’

Jayne looked around. He knew where this was going. ‘Gorramit, I can’t believe I’m going to do this again,’ he moaned. ‘Guess I’ll be loading clips for Vera,’ he said, utterly convinced of his impending doom but determined to face it with his best weapon in his hands and the ground around him awash with enemy blood before the end.

‘Prowess with weapons is another part of the code,’ River said.

Jayne snorted.

River turned and looked out into the black. ‘Here be Dragons,’ she said quietly.

Her Captain looked around at his crew for what seemed like an eternity, looking from face to face. Kaylee was scared, but knew they had to try, and was holding hands with Simon who had the fatalistic look he tended to adopt at such times. Steven and Zoe both had the thousand yard stare of folks who had seen much battle and were facing it again. Jennifer and Book both seemed to be praying.

Inara looked back at him with love.

‘Here be Dragon Slayers,’ he said to himself.

Part VI


Thursday, March 25, 2004 2:18 AM


Excellent Hotpoint! Loved it, loved it, LOVED IT. In my mind at the end I was muttering "Bring on the Dragon Slayers" and naturally was hearing it in Mal's gorram voice. This is really good and I can't wait to see what happens next. "Xiexie ni" for a very shiny story, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, March 25, 2004 7:26 AM


After easily defeating the Alliance cruiser and fighters I wondered what could tax the talents of our intrepid crew and their unbeatable flotilla (well, Shadow). A whole mess of Reavers? With ship battles and hand-to-hand? Can't wait!
And a wonderful counterpoint to the previous episode. Thank you!

Thursday, March 25, 2004 4:25 PM


As always, HP, very, very entertaining and engrossing...bring on VI...


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