Disclaimer: I don't own "Firefly" or any of its characters.
Summary: This story is a sequel of sorts to my previous story "Captures of a Son." Read that one first.
Conor Washburne sat in Serenity's pilot seat absently turning a plastic stegosaurus around in his hands. Janey Tam, the first mate of Serenity stood behind him, leaning one arm on the back of his chair. In the co-pilot's chair sat Amir Kaman, the ships doctor who doubled as a co-pilot when needed. And leaning against the consol was Hoban (Hobie) Tam, Serenity's mechanic.
The four crewmates were silent, each lost in their own thoughts and realizing that the next few minutes could change all of their lives forever.
Conor stared at the toy in his hands. Like all the dinosaur figures that adorned the ship's controls, it had once belonged to his father. As he moved his hands over the hard plastic he tried to imagine what his father would say in this situation. It was a difficult task seeing how he'd never met his father, but it was something he did a lot.
All four heads turned as Mia Reynolds, captain of Serenity, walked onto the bridge. "So I take it you all saw that?" she said.
They nodded. Mia was referring to the wave she had just received from the commander of the newly reformed Independents Army. He told Mia that the war had begun and ships were needed.
Over the past five years rumors had grown in the core planets that the Independents were gaining momentum on the outer planets. Rumors about the origins of Reavers and secret projects that messed with peoples' brains. After thirty-eight years the Second War was upon them. They had a choice, fight or not.
We're too young for war, Conor thought. He was only thirty-one years old himself. And he was the oldest of Serenity's crew. Amir was twenty-seven, Hobie and Mia were twenty-one, while Janey was the baby of the group at nineteen.
You were also too young to crew a ship but you've managed that alright, another voice in his head said. It was true. Mia had inherited the ship from her father a year ago and at first people had laughed at this young crew.
But they didn't laugh for long. Hobie, Mia, Janey, and Conor had grown up on Serenity. They knew every inch of every room. Hobie could take the engine apart and put it back together, more than that Serenity could talk to him, like she talked to his mother. Janey's mind was as sharp as Zoë's and she was as brave as her namesake. Mia had her father's gift of leadership and fierce loyalty to her crew. She knew how to haggle for jobs, when to stay and when to run.
Amir, he had found them during a job. He'd been working at an Alliance hospital on the core planets and walked in as Mia, Janey, and Hobie were stealing medicine to bring to the outer planets. Instead of sounding the alarm as they expected, he'd helped them load up and sneak out of the building. It turned out he was an Alliance hater himself and jumped at the offer of ship's doctor. In the six months he'd been with them, he'd become family and one of Conor's closest friends.
As for Conor, even Mal had to admit he was as good a pilot as his father. Serenity talked to him as well, different than she talked to Hobie but she talked. Kaylee used to say that flying was to him like swimming was to a duck. That had launched into an explanation of what a duck was since Conor had never seen one. But it was true, flying was something that came natural to him and nothing else in the world made him feel more free or closer to his father.
"What do you all think?" Mia asked after a minute of silence passed between them.
Amir sighed. "Fight a war we have little chance of winning?"
"Not like anything we done's ever had a great chance of success," Janey pointed out.
"If we fight," Hobie said, "who will protect the Haven? What'll happen there?"
"What'll happen there if we don't go?" Mia answered. "You think they'll be safe? Soon as this war starts none of the outer planets are safe."
"Yes but we can't protect them fighting in the war," Hobie retorted.
Mia put a hand on his shoulder, "We can't protect them anyway baobei."
Conor smiled inside as he watched the two of them. No one could have imagined a less likely couple. Mal said it was stranger than even Conor's parents. Mia and Hobie had grown up together, it was true, but they never seemed to do anything but fight. Then one day, about eight months ago, Janey had overheard them screaming at each other in the engine room. When she went to check it out, she found them in a rather heated embrace.
Not a lot had changed since then, Hobie and Mia still fought constantly, but there was tenderness in it that hadn't been there before. Mal had been angry and overprotective at first but it was all a show. He loved Hobie like a son and wanted his daughter to be happy.
"What do you think Conor?"
Conor was brought out of his thoughts by Mia's question. He put the dinosaur back in its place on the consol and looked up at his captain and honorary little sister. "I think that we've all grown up knowin' that one day the Alliance would pay for what they done. I think that we owe it to our parents and to River and everyone like 'em to fight. Jayne once told me something Shepherd Book said to him, 'if you can't do something smart, do something good.' Now the way I see it, neither option is all that smart, so we might as well do the good thing."
"We have to go back first," Janey said. "Have to tell 'em what's goin' on."
"We ain't but a day out," Hobie said.
"Alright," said Mia, "let's go."
Conor nodded and plotted a course for the only non-ship home he'd ever known.