Chapter Title: The Fall (7/7)
Prompt: Pride; #16 Purple
Rating: PG-13 (violence, character death)
Word Count: 350-ish


Jayne Cobb was the best gorram tracker in the 'verse. Everybody knew it. And the newest job on Whitefall would give him yet another chance to prove it.

With sign language Jayne explained to River that he would sneak up on the man whose tracks they were following and take him out. She was to take the high ground and keep an eye out for more of Patience's men. He watched as she climbed, sure footed and quiet, into the overgrown bush and waited to hunt his prey until she was completely out of sight.

It was almost too easy, he thought.

After quickly disarming the bandit and breaking his neck, Jayne set up the sniper rifle, adjusting the scope carefully in order to keep the entire party in his line of sight. Just as Patience grudgingly handed over the bag of money a shot rang out, echoing throughout the canyon.

Mal and Zoe both drew their weapons, firing and retreating in a repeat performance of the last time they were on this lousy moon. Jayne did his job, taking out everyone that tried to go after them, this time leaving no one behind.

When he got the all-clear from the Captain, he switched frequencies on the comm and called to River. The only answer he got was static. Jayne rolled his eyes and stomped off in search of the moon-brain girl, grumbling and complaining the entire way. But when he got to the top of the ridge he felt his stomach drop.

There in the dirt with her eyes wide open and empty, her purple paisley dress fluttering in the hot, dry wind, lay River Tam. One neat bullet hole in the middle of her forehead and a crumpled piece of paper in her hand were the only clues as to what had happened.

Jayne crawled over to her lifeless body and closed her eyes gently. Prying her hand open he read the missive aloud to no one.

"One down, six to go. Catch me if you can Jayne Cobb."

Evidently, he was not the best tracker in the 'verse. Not anymore.