Disclaimer: Don’t own HP or Firefly/Serenity.
4th instalment in New Worlds Series.
Take me out to the Black
“You're gonna come with us.”
You like ships. You don't seem to be looking at the destinations. What you care about is the ships, and mine's the nicest.” Kaylee grinned as she stood up as the Shepard stopped to look the ship over.
“She don't look like much.”
“Well, she'll fool ya'. You ever sail in a Firefly?” She walked over, twirling her parasol.
“Long before you were crawling. Not an aught three, though. Didn't have the extenders, tended to shake.”
“So, uh, how come you don't care where you're going?”
“Cause how you get there is the worthier part.”
“Are you a missionary?”
“I guess... I'm a Shepherd, from the Southdown Abbey. Book, I'm called Book. Been out of the world for a spell. Like to walk it a while, maybe bring the word to them as need it told.”
“Well, I'm Kaylee. This is Serenity, and she's the smoothest ride from here to Boros for anyone who can pay.” She paused a beat, worried. “Can you pay, or...?”
“Well, I've got a little cash, and, uh...” He picked up a small wooden box from his luggage. He showed her the contents and she went a little bit wide-eyed, eyeing the contents lustfully.
“I never married.” He argued even as he handed over the money to join them.
Kaylee looked around at the sound of someone chuckling to see a guy around her age watching, a bag slung over one shoulder and she smiled. “Looking for a ride?”
“Where’re you headed?” He asked, walking closer.
“Boros.” She answered as he eyed the ship.
Harry studied the ship, taking in the name, Serenity. He’d been there, doing what he could for the wounded on both sides. That battle had been hell and the amount of time it had taken for relief ships to arrive had seriously made him mad. He dug out the money and handed it over to her, getting a grin. “Boros sounds good for now.” He admitted.
“Then welcome aboard…?”
“Harry Potter, miss.”
“I’m Kaylee, mechanic. Is this all your luggage?”
“I travel light.” he headed up the ramp to wait in the cargo hold, nodding in greeting to the Shepard. A while later they were joined by a serious, well dressed young man and then another man in travel worn clothes.
“Welcome aboard, Mr...”
“Dobson.” The travel worn man answered Kaylee.
“Dobson!” She grinned.
“We just gotta keep our heads down, do the job, pray there ain't no more surprises.” Mal told Zoe and Jayne as they approached the ship while Wash used the mule to load up a large box.
“Please be careful with that.”
“Mal, this is Simon. Simon, this is our captain.” Kaylee introduced the two men who sixed each other up.
“Captain Reynolds.” Simon greeted.
“Welcome aboard.” He turned to Kaylee. “This all we got?” She nodded and he moved into the cargo bay as the passengers stored their luggage.
“Now we have a boatful of citizens right on top of our... stolen cargo.” She whispered. “That's a fun mix.”
“Ain't no way in the 'verse they could find that compartment, even—“ He cut off as Dobson walked by. “Even if they were lookin' for it.”
Mal was thrown by the question. “Cause...?” He offered and she shook her head.
“Oh yeah, this is gonna go great.”
“If anyone gets nosy, just, you know...shoot 'em.”
“Politely.” Mal answered even as Wash called over the intercom that Inara had docked. He moved towards the controls for the cargo bay doors. “Kaylee, I'm locking it up!”
Kaylee looked around once, grabbing her folding chair and parasol. “All aboard...” She whispered before moving in, the doors closing behind her.
Harry stood with the other passengers in the galley as the crew joined them.
“Meals are taken up here in the dining area, the kitchen is pretty much self-explanatory, you're welcome to eat what there is any time, what there is, is pretty standard fare, I guess, protein in all the colours of the rainbow. We do have sit-down meals, the next one being at about 1800.” Mal explained, obviously not comfortable speaking to them all like he was. Harry figured Serenity wasn’t usually a passenger ship.
“I think Shepherd Book has offered to help me prepare something.”
“You're a Shepherd?”
“Thought the outfit gave it away. Is it a problem?”
“Of course not!” Kaylee denied and then looked at Mal. “It's no problem, 'cause it's not.”
“No.” He agreed and then looked to the group again. “As I said, you're welcome to visit the dining area any time. Apart from that, I have to ask you to stay in the passenger dorm while we're in the air. The bridge, the engine room, cargo bay -- they're all off limits without an escort.”
“Some of my personal effects are in the cargo bay.” Simon said and Mal nodded.
“I figure you all got luggage you're gonna need to get into. Soon as we're done here we'll be happy to fetch 'em with you. Now I have to tell you all one other thing and I apologize in advance for the inconvenience. Unfortunately, we've been ordered by the Alliance to drop some medical supplies off on Whitefall. It's the fourth moon on Athens, a little out of our way, but we should have you on Boros no more than a day off schedule.”
“What medical supplies?” Harry asked, he doubted there were any medical supplies aboard except what was in the ships infirmary.
“I honestly didn't ask.”
“Probably plasma, insulin, whatever they ain't got enough of on the border moons.” Zoe answered.
“Alliance says jump...”
“Zoe, you wanna take 'em to the cargo bay?”
“Anything else you need, just...ask. We, uh, we're here to serve.” Mal and Wash turned around and walked toward the door leading to the bridge while everyone else headed for the cargo bay except Harry who headed for the passenger dorm to grab a bed. “Did you send word to Patience?”
“Ain't heard back yet. Didn't she shoot you one time?”
“Everybody's makin' a fuss.”
Harry nodded as the Shepard joined him in the room and took the other bed. “I hope you don’t mind.”
“No problem Shepard. Going to stay on Boros or keep travelling?”
“I don’t know yet; I’ll have to see what happens. And you?”
“Haven’t found anywhere I want to stay in a long time.” Harry admitted. “I like travelling. And thank you very much for supplying the fresh food.”
“That was my pleasure. And what do you think of Serenity?”
“So far? She’s a good ship with a crew very loyal to their captain.” Book nodded, he’d seen that too. They fell quiet and each read for a while until a noise in the corridor had them both sitting up. Harry put his book aside and slipped off the bed, moving silently to the door, Book following him. they saw Dobson and then they saw the gun he was carrying. “Stay here or go get the crew.” Harry hissed before slipping out to follow the other man. He saw him grab something from his bag and use it before heading for the cargo bay. Harry waited, pulling up a mental map of a firefly before taking another hall.
“Forget your toothpaste?” Mal slugged him, sending him sprawling.
“Are you out of your mind?” Simon demanded, one hand against his lip as he sprawled on the floor.
“Yeah, just about. What'd you tell them?”
Simon stood up and stared in confusion. “Tell who?”
Mal drew his gun, putting it in Simon's face. “I have exactly no time for games. What do they know?”
“You're a lunatic.”
“And you're a gorram fed.”
“Hate to say it, Captain, but you've got the wrong man.” Harry called as he joined them. Both men turned to him. A beat, and both Mal and Simon realised Harry was looking behind them. Slowly, they turned the other way, and understand his meaning. Dobson stood on the stairs, holding a gun on Mal.
“Son of a bitch.”
“Drop that firearm, Captain Reynolds.”
Mal hesitated and then obeyed. “This is not my best day ever.”
Dobson moved the gun to pointed it at Simon. “Simon Tam, you are bound by law to stand down.”
Mal took a moment to realise the man was after Simon. “What -- the doctor? Oh. Is there-is there a reward?”
Dobson ignored Mal, focusing on Simon. The bumbling traveller was now a very intense, tightly wound cop. “Get on the ground. Get on the ground!”
“Lawman, you are making a mistake.” Simon tried.
“I think you best get on the ground, son. The man seems a mite twitchy.”
“I think everybody could stand to calm down a bit.” Harry offered, slowly moving towards the armed man and sending a wandless calming charm at him.
“This isn't your business.”
“The boy's not going anywhere, lawman. It's pretty cold outside and I doubt he can hold his breath that long.”
Mal moved casually for his gun. “Not to worry. Put Lord Fauntleroy here in a passenger cell -- won't make a peep 'til you hand him over to –“
Dobson pointed the gun at Mal again. “Get the hell away from that weapon! You think I'm a complete backbirth? You're carrying a fugitive across interplanetary borders, and you think I actually believe you're bringing medical supplies to Whitefall? As far as I care, everyone on this ship is culpable.”
“Well now. That has an effect on the landscape.” Mal said and Harry sighed, of course this guy was resistant to magic, he couldn’t be that lucky. But he did silently reinforce the walls, not wanting a shot to pierce the hull if people started shooting.
“Please, we're very close to true stupidity here –“ Book called as he entered the bay and Harry glanced around, spotting Jayne and Zoe nearby.
“I got a cruiser en route for intercept, so talk all you want. You got about twenty minutes.”
“Might have less than that.” Mal stated coolly.
“Yeah, threaten me…”
“For God's sake –“
“You think I wouldn't shoot a Shepherd? Back off!” Dobson yelled to him and Harry as they moved to bracket him.
Mal grabbed Simon -- and everybody's shouting – “Just take the kid!”
‘Get your hands off me –“
“Stand the hell down –“
“Everybody just stop it! Stop it!”
Kaylee walked in through the other door. “Why's everybody –“ Dobson spun and fired. Kaylee stumbled backwards, slamming into the wall – “What...” She put her hands to her belly, blood running through her fingers. Kaylee slumped to the ground as Simon and Harry rushed to her, Mal dove for his weapon, Jayne drew his, Dobson swung to fire at Mal -- -- and Book was in Dobson's face, a brutal jab in the throat as he grabbed his gun-hand whip-quick, twisted and pulled the gun out, cracking Dobson across the face with it in the same motion and Dobson was down in seconds.
“Kaylee!” Inara screamed form the catwalk as the two dark haired men knelt beside her. They worked together to gently settle her on her back and both grimaced at the sight of the wound.
“You have training?” Simon asked.
“Field medic.” Harry answered quickly. How do you feel?” He asked Kaylee.
“A little odd.” She answered, blinking slowly.
Jayne moved toward Dobson with a purpose, gun in hand, and Book turned to face him. “Outta the way.”
“You're not killing this man.”
‘Not right away...”
“He's no threat.”
Kaylee was whimpering. “Why did he...?”
Simon opened Kaylee's jumpsuit, examining the wound. He shared a look with Harry who nodded, agreeing with his unspoken assessment, it was not good.
“Oh, well, that ain't hardly a mosquito bite.” Mal offered her a smile.
“Big mosquito...” She mumbled as Inara rushed over, joining them. Inara pulled off her robe and bunched it under Kaylee's head.
“Move.” Jayne ordered and Book shook his head.
“Not gonna happen. “
Jayne raised his gun. “I ain't joking with you, Preacher.”
“Jayne!” She had her gun out, pointed at Jayne. “Just tie him up. Do it.” A moment, and Jayne holstered his piece, moving to get some duct tape.
“Can you move your feet? Kaylee. Stay with me. Can you move your feet?” Simon called.
“Are you asking me to dance...?” Her eyes rolled back.
“She's going into shock.” Harry snapped, checking her pulse.
“Kaylee, mei-mei, you have to focus.” Inara urged.
“The gun, Shepherd. Please.” Zoe held her hand out and he handed her the gun.
Simon pushed on Kaylee's stomach and she screamed. “The infirmary working?”
“Yeah, we got it stocked.” The three men moved to pick her up without jostling her.
“Captain, we've been hailed by a Cruiser. Ordered to stay on course and dock for prisoner transfer.” Wash called over the comm.
Mal and Simon looked at each other. Simon rose and stepped away from Kaylee. He was tense, but surprisingly calm. “Change course. Run.”
“Hell with you. You brought this down on us, I'm dumping you with the law.”
“Mal...” Inara tried to interrupt but the two ignored her even as Harry took his shirt off to use it to slow the bleeding.
“She's dying.” Simon pointed out.
“You're not gonna let her.”
“Yes, I am.”
“No, you can't.”
“No way the Feds'll let us walk.” Zoe added and it as true.
“Then we dump him in the shuttle and leave him for them.”
“Everybody's so mad...” Kaylee mumbled.
“It's okay, baby.”
“Do you know what a stomach wound does to a person?” Simon asked.
“I surely do.”
“Then you know how crucial the next few minutes are. She needs a surgeon, not a medic.” He glanced at Harry who nodded. Oh, he had the skills after being a doctor many times but they didn’t know that.
“You let her die, you'll never make it to the Feds.” Zoe snarled.
“She'll still be dead.”
“You rich kids, you think your lives are the only thing that matters. What'd you do? Kill your folks for the family fortune?”
“I don't kill people!”
“Then do your job!”
“Turn the ship around!”
“Enough! Captain, do it.” Harry snapped at the bickering pair. “She doesn’t have time to waste.”
“Don't ever tell me what to do on my –“ Mal started but Kaylee screamed again as Harry pressed firmly. “Zoe. Change course.”
“Help me get her up.” Simon ordered and they lifted her between them, heading for the infirmary.
Zoe hit the com. “Wash, change course and go for hard burn. We're runnin'.”
Harry took his bloody gloves off and leant against the counter, tired from over five hours of surgery.
“I can't do anything more until she stabilizes.”
“Will she?” Mal asked, he hadn’t left her side so they’d let him stay and monitor her vitals while they had worked to remove the bullet shards and fix the organs that had been hit.
“I can't say yet.” Simon admitted.
“I want know what's going on here.” Inara looked between the men from where she’d been hovering in the doorway.
“Well then why don't we find out?” He moved quickly from the room.
“What are you... no! No!” Simon followed at a run.
Harry remained with Kaylee, unwilling to leave her when she was still so close to death. He gently brushed some hair from her face, he liked her, she was so sunny and generally nice. He wouldn’t let her die. It was a shock a few minutes later when Inara and Simon returned with a naked and obviously disorientated girl who Simon quickly sedated. “Who?” he looked at Inara.
“Simon’s sister River.”
“Huh. Well this trip is definitely not boring.”
“You’re different.” Harry looked over at where River had been sleeping but now she was staring at him.
“So quiet, everyone else is noisy and I can’t shut it out.” She whimpered and Harry moved to gently clasp her hands.
“Shh, it’s alright, just focus on me.” He whispered and then he gently reached out to her mind, finding she was wide open. “Those monsters.” He hissed and she stared at him in shock.
“You’re like me?”
“This is the captain.” The com came on and they fell silent. “We're passing another ship. Looks to be Reavers. From the size, probably a raiding party. Could be they're headed somewhere particular, could be they've already hit someone and they're full up. So everyone stay calm. We try to run; they'll have to chase us. It's their way. We're holding course. We should be passing 'em in a minute, so we'll see what they do. Zoe, you come on up to the bridge.”
River whimpered and Harry soothed her gently. “It’ll be okay; I won’t let them hurt you or anyone else on board. Promise. Just go back to sleep.” Okay so magic was cheating but the poor girl needed sleep to allow her mind to try and heal.
“You are psychotic.” Wash managed to get out past laughter.
“No, but you should have seen his face... Oh... I'm a bad man.”
“And Kaylee's really okay?”
“Yeah. Tell the truth, I didn't expect her to heal this quick. Doctor and Potter know their trade; I'll give them that.”
Wash looked at the console as it beeped. “We're being hailed.”
“That'd be Patience. We're close enough for vid. Put her up.”
“I have to say I didn't look to be hearing from you anytime soon.”
“Well, we may not have parted on the best of terms. I realize certain words were exchanged. Also, certain... bullets. But that’s air through the engine. It's past. We're business people. Besides, your days of fightin' over salvage rights are long behind you, what I hear. What are you, mayor now?”
“Just about. You telling the truth about that cargo? 'Cause your asking price is a bit too reasonable for that much treasure.”
“It's imprinted -- Alliance -- hence the discount.”
“Oh, government goods, huh?”
“That doesn't work for ya, no harm. Just thought you could use –“
“Alliance don't scare me. Just collating data, as they say. I like that you're up front about it. We can deal. I'll upload coordinates for a rendezvous point outside of town.”
“See you in the world.” He hit a button, ending the talk. He stared down at the console for a long beat. “I believe that woman's planning to shoot me again.”
“She meant to pay you, she'd'a haggled you down some.” Jayne agreed.
“Just a little effort to hide it would've been –“ Wash fell silent as Mal knocked his dinosaurs off the console.
“Sir, we don't have to deal with her.”
“Yes, we do.”
“Here's a little concept I been workin' on. Why don't we shoot her first?”
“It is her turn.”
“That doesn't get us what we need, either.’
“There's moons on this boat we ain't seen. We could try our luck – “
“Our luck?” Mal snapped angrily. “You notice anything particular about our luck these past few days? Any kind of pattern? You depend on luck, you end up on the drift -- no fuel, no prospects.... beggin' for Alliance make-work. And towed out to the scrap belt. That ain't us. Not ever. Patience has got the money to pay, and she will, one way or another. There's obstacles in our path, and we're gonna deal with them. One by one. We'll get through this. We will.”
“He took her.” Kaylee gasped out in pain as Harry walked back into the infirmary. He picked her up and gently set her back on the bed.
“Dobson and River?” He asked and she nodded. “I’ll handle it; you stay in that bed.” He ordered and she nodded as he quickly covered her with the blanket before heading for the cargo bay. Laws existed for a reason yes but this lawman was taking it too far. Then again from what Simon had told them the Alliance was moving even deeper into corruption. How did they think they’d get away with what they were doing to the children for very long? They were lucky no one found out before Simon. And what the hell were his parents doing to not act for their daughters’ sake? He moved silently across the catwalks until he was above Dobson and then he dropped down on top of the other man, sending them both sprawling but he recovered faster, moving both guns out of reach even as Dobson scrambled up. River backed away while Harry attacked, letting his anger out on the Fed.
“Reavers! Reavers incoming and headed straight for us. We are in the air in one minute.” Wash’s voice came over the comm and Harry grimaced. Simon came running into the bay and grabbed River, pulling her further away as Book joined them, blood trickling down his face. Harry kicked Dobson down the ramp and onto the dirt even as three horses thundered up. A single shot sounded and the Fed dropped even as Mal strode on board, holstering his gun. Harry nodded and moved back as they all came up the ramp.
“Wash we’re on!” Zoe called into the comm as the ramp closed.
“The lawman said they'd keep looking for her. Something about her brain being all special. Important to the Alliance brass. Sooner we dump them two, the better.”
“Suppose so.” Jayne got up to leave. “Funny how the lawman got out of his room. You having tied him up so well and all.”
“I didn't have nothing to do with that. Anyway it all turned out just fine. Buzzards're the only ones gonna find him...”
“But he did try to make a deal with you, right?” He looked at Jayne, who said nothing. “How come you didn't turn on me, Jayne?”
“Money wasn't good enough.”
“What happens when it is?’
Jayne smiled. “Well... that'll be an interesting day.”
“Imagine it will.”
Jayne left, rudely bumping into Simon, who was on his way in. Simon came up next to Mal and saw Mal's arm was a bit bloody.
“You need me to look at that?”
“Just a graze.”
“So, where do you plan on dumping us?”
“There's places you might be safe. You want the truth, though, you're probably safer on the move.” He turned to face him. “And we never stop moving.”
“I'm confused. No wait, I -- I think maybe you're confused.”
“It may have become apparent to you that the ship could use a medic. You ain't weak. I don't know how bright you are, top three percent, but you ain't weak and that's not nothing. You live by my rule, you keep your sister from doing anything crazy, you could maybe find a place here. 'Til you find a better.”
“I'm trying to put this as delicately as I can... How do I know you won't kill me in my sleep?”
“You don't know me, son. So let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing me, and you'll be armed.”
Simon smiled slightly. “Are you always this sentimental?”
“Had a good day.”
“You had the Alliance on you, criminals and savages... half the people on the ship have been shot or wounded including yourself, and you're harbouring known fugitives.”
Mal looked out at the black sky. “We're still flying.”
“That's not much.”
Mal answered, almost to himself. “It's enough.” A beat, then Simon went. Mal just kept looking ahead. “What about you, leaving or staying?”
Harry stepped onto the bridge and moved up beside the Captain. “Leaving at Boros, some business’ come up I have to deal with.”
“Thought you looked familiar so I looked you up, Lieutenant.”
Harry shrugged. “That was six years ago. I have to ask, why name your ship after the battle we lost?’
“Cause it felt right.”
“Well I hope I run into you again Captain. You’ve got a doctor now but if you need a medic…”
Mal nodded and Harry left the bridge.
Harry waved as the crew finished loading up before turning and disappearing into the crowds of the docks on Boros. He made his way to the more affluent cities and then booked passage for New Cardiff, Londinium. He’d been there once shortly after arriving in this universe to get a feel for the government. At the time he had found it corrupt, as most governments were, but it worked well enough. Then the Unification war had started and he’d chosen to join the Independents, wanting to know what they were fighting for. And he’d found he believed in their cause. In the last six years he’d stuck to the boarder planets, using his medical skills to help people and pay for passage most of the time. But now he was going back to do something he had only done once or twice, confront a government with an ultimatum, clean up or he’d do it for them.
Harry walked towards the city inside a city that was the Parliament buildings and their protective barracks. No one paid any attention to him as he walked right through the front gates, invisible to even the cameras that were always watching. He walked right into the room where Parliament was meeting along with several Department Heads, sealing the doors and making sure all weapons were inoperable before becoming visible. There were gasps and calls for guards before Harry snarled. “SIT DOWN!” unsurprisingly they did. “A government is meant to protect its citizens, to do what is best for them. Congratulations, you have failed miserably.” He placed a pensieve down and began playing the memories for all to see, watching their reactions. Only River had known his plan from Serenity and she had willingly shared her memories of the Academy and the torture there on the chance that it could help. One way or another the Alliance was going to change.
“Mal! You have to see this! Everyone!” Wash shouted and they all scrambled onto the bridge. They all watched in shock as the government admitted to the real reasons behind the Unification War, their various war crimes, the Academy, everything. A pardon for Simon and River Tam as read out as well, much to his shock. River just smiled secretively, Harry had done it.
Simon and River stood at the bottom of Serenity’s ramp, staring at the couple across from them. There were no hugs or tears of joys as two abandoned children stared at the parents who had chosen the government and safety over their own children. In the end River turned and went back aboard without saying a word and Simon followed her.
“Children are the greatest gift you can be given and you squandered that gift. You chose to listen blindly to a corrupt government instead of your own flesh and blood.” A soft voice stated and they turned to see a Companion watching them. She then moved and boarded the ship as well. The Tams just stood and watched as the ship took off with their children aboard.
“Harry!” River called, laughing as she threw herself at the medic who laughed and caught her.
“Every day.” She smiled and curled into his side as he wrapped an arm around her. She led him back to the ship and he smiled at seeing her. After two years of ‘fixing’ the government it was good to see the ship that had started it all.
“It’s Harry!” Kaylee yelled as she spotted them and soon the whole crew was there to say hello.
“He left a month ago to settle down with a whole mining town to teach.” Inara answered and Harry stared in shock at Kaylee’s rounded stomach before glancing at a very content Simon.
Of course then Zoe came into sight with a baby on her hip and Harry shook his head. “I think I missed a lot. That’s if there’s room Captain?”
Mal made a show of thinking it over before nodding and holding his hand out to Harry who grasped it. “Welcome aboard Mr Potter.