Chapter Nine: Rescue
"Keep moving, hands where I can see them," the officer barked, his gun pointed at Jayne's back.
The second officer with his bruised nose trained his gun on River who was shaking. She was twisting her fingers nervously, and Jayne could see her lips forming silent words.
"Crazy," he hissed, "knock it off."
Jabbing him in the back with the gun, the first officer snapped, "No talking. Damon, call back up."
The broken-nose officer reached for his radio with his gun on River. "Requesting position."
"Coordinates 47-60, Less than ten minutes," a man's voice crackled back.
"Hear that?" The first officer smirked. "In a few minutes you two will be well on your way for a nice long stay in prison."
Jayne gritted his teeth, glaring at the man who continued on, his voice smug.
"See, we just happened to spot a ship entering atmo in the middle of nowhere, and decided to do some reconnaissance. I have to say, I am surprised you and your girl here would be wandering around," he paused, "unless, of course, that is your ship. Well, not to worry, we will have a team deployed on the ship shortly."
"No!" River shouted, suddenly springing into action. She twisted, trying to escape from the second marshal's grip. "Don't take away the pieces! Bite and rip, can't put it back together!"
Jayne watched in disgust as River pitifully tried to tug her arms away. He couldn't tell if she was just being a nuisance or couldn't get out—either way, it was for the best. Jayne didn't really feature himself getting shot.
"Bi zui!" The officer holding her commanded, tightening a pair of handcuffs around her wrist. "I had been hoping not to have to resort to restraints, but apparently, you disagree."
River shook her shackled hands, making a rattling sound. "No, no, no…" she mumbled. "Lock her up, force things down…make you scream, make you holler."
Jayne wondered why in the hell the girl needed to go even crazier while they were being held at gun point.
He opened his mouth to yell at River before the officers decided to shoot her, but he caught a glimpse of her face and saw the expectant look, the one that clearly said "do something!"
It took him a moment to realize she was, at least partially, orchestrating this as a distraction.
"Cannot obtain!" River was shouting again, struggling against her restraints. The marshal's jaw tightened, and he smacked her across the face.
Jayne first instinct, strangely, was to ask if the girl was alright, but instead, he waited for the gun to shift just a little…
"Damon, quiet her up," the first officer snapped, turning to face him.
"I'm trying," Damon managed, "but, she's rather strong for a—Wei!" he stopped as he saw Jayne snap his elbow back, straight into his capturer's face.
"Argh!" The man instinctively dropped his gun, clutching his nose. Blood poured down, coating his fingers.
Damon swung his gun at Jayne, only to receive a kick in the neck from River. She swung around, landing another one square in his stomach.
"You," he gasped, grabbing his stomach. "Bitch."
"Not a female canine," River replied sensibly, imitating Jayne's method and elbowing his face.
Jayne grabbed the abandoned gun and pointed it at both officers. "Ya know, this's the second time in recent mem'ry that girl here an' I've rendered ya a bit weaponless. Now I don't know who's been trainin' ya both, but 'parently, it sucks." He stepped forward to second officer, fishing through his pockets for the key.
River turned around, waiting for Jayne to unlock the handcuffs.
"Yar shtupid," the first officer spat, "ya think yer can run?"
"Yep," Jayne replied, the gun tapping the man's forehead, "Did before."
"Are you going to kill us?" The second one asked contemptuously. "Because mortally wounding an officer is a serious offense, and they will hunt you down."
"Well," Jayne drawled, "it'll be fun." He aimed the gun at the man's head, ready to pull the trigger.
"Deployment," River interrupted clearly. "They're here."
Jayne spared a quick glance at the sleek ship arriving. "Great," he muttered, "that's just great. Crazy, I thought yer were a Reader or somethin'!"
"Don't be a dumbo," River retorted, "not omniscient, just clairvoyant."
"Well start clairvoyantin' what we're gonna do!" Jayne snapped back.
"Give synapses a moment!" River's brow furrowed as she stared hard at their former capturers, now hostages.
"Render unconscious once more," she sighed and Jayne complied instantly.
"That ain't gonna hold 'em forever," he warned, watching the shuttle come closer. "An' ain't helpin' with that."
River followed his gaze. "I know."
"Just give me a moment!" The pilot replied, holding up his hand.
Mal stared out the window at the shuttle. "Don't like where it's headed."
"Yeah, Mal, for us," Wash snapped. "No way we can out run them."
"Sir?" Zoe questioned, looking at the Captain.
Tense, Mal kept his hard gaze on the shuttle, sighing a little. "Load up. An' someone go to Jayne's bunk an' git some of his guns."
"Yes sir," Zoe replied and disappeared out the door.
"Wash, yer sure we can't git outta this one?" Mal confirmed, feeling his stomach drop.
"We're too close in range," the pilot admitted, "dammit."
"So, we just wait," Mal's voice was tight.
"Simon," Kaylee hissed, tugging on her boyfriend's sleeve. "We gotta get ya outta here."
"Wait," he said, searching through his things. "I can't find my bag."
"Bao-bei, it'll be here when ya get back," Kaylee insisted firmly. "Now, come on."
Simon sighed, feeling his eye twitch from stress and lack of sleep. "I just need to get River's books—"
"Simon," Zoe's voice broke through as she stopped by his room. "Captain wants ya hid. Kaylee—"
"I know, I know," the mechanic cut her off. "We're goin' now."
Simon reluctantly let her lead him out, her warm hand gripping his. "Where are we going?"
"Out," she replied, "we'll hid in one of them crevices in the rock 'till they're gone."
Simon swallowed nervously as the approached the hatch. "Won't that be dangerous?"
Kaylee gave him a look. "Better than goin' with Alliance."
Simon tightened his hold. "True," he sighed, "I'm sorry to get you muddled up in trying to save me when you should be getting Serenity ready to go."
"Simon," she met his eyes firmly, "I love ya. It's nothin' if it means yer safe."
"But I want you to be safe," he protested as the hatch slid open.
"I will be," Kaylee replied stepping off quickly. "With you."
"They're still comin'," Jayne said unnecessarily.
River rolled her eyes. "Fruitless observation." Suddenly her face brightened. "Communication devices! Minor modifications for optimal use, surely someone is listening; we'll knock."
Without any prompting, Jayne bent down, grabbing a scanner off the officer. "Here."
River fiddled with the dials. "Secure the line, limit the eavesdroppers…" she squinted then smiled. "Ready."
Jayne took the radio back, pressing the button. He tried to remember the code he and Mal had set up back a while ago. "Uh...bear on land, nearby…with, uh, moon."
River gave him a doubtful look. "Correct usage of cryptic jargon?"
"No gorram clue," Jayne muttered. "But maybe Mal'll hear it."
Inara frowned, lowering the headphones Mal had given her. She trying to be helpful by listening to the scanners, but after hearing the odd message, she stopped.
Quickly, she pressed the comm. "Mal?" She spoke hesitantly, "I think you should hear this."
No more than a minute later, Mal burst into the shuttle. "What?"
"I just heard something odd…" she slipped on ear on, staring intently at the lines on the screen. "Wait! Here it is again."
Mal snatched the headphones out of her hand, placing them on.
"Uh, tryin' again…bear nearby on land with, um, moon."
Mal yanked them off. "Jayne."
"Jayne?" Inara echoed. "Wait, what does that mean?"
"It means he's up at the top of the canyon…I think," Mal answered. "'least his alive an' with River."
"Moon," Inara affirmed. "Do you want me to continue listening?"
"No," Mal said slowly, "I think I got an idea."
"I don't know, Crazy, but we gotta stay outta sight," Jayne replied, peering around from their hiding spot as the shuttle lowered into the canyon.
Suddenly the scanner in his hand buzzed. "Hey, uh, bear and moon, stay. Tightpants has a plan," Wash said and then it went quiet.
"Guess lil' man figured out how ta talk back," Jayne said. "Now we're just…sittin'."
"You feel useless," River acknowledged, drawing her knees close. It was bizarre to be awake and this close to the mercenary. Their elbows kept bumping, and River could feel heat pouring from him.
It made her skin tight and tingly.
"Well, yeah," Jayne answered, "Ain't no fun if yer hidin'. Kinda itchin' for a good fight, even if ain't smart."
River smiled a little, almost bittersweet. "I should think we match."
Jayne eyed her warily. "Why's that? 'Cause I ain't crazy or a girl, so no similar-ties."
Leaning forward conspiratorially, River told him, "The yen to violence. Not really the girl, more what they made her…just like you."
Scoffing, Jayne rested his head on the rock. "Nobody made me, girl."
"They did," River replied solemnly. "You harden over time, like amber. People change you, make you different."
Jayne turned away. "Let's not talk."
"Why not?" River persisted. "The objective of humanity is to find connections…find people to share with."
"I ain't a sharer," Jayne corrected.
"You're human," River trumped.
"Don't matter," Jayne snapped, angry. "We should be quiet-like, waitin' to hear from Wash."
River sulked. "Fine, retreat to your corner."
"So…this is all of your crew?"
"Yes sir, it is," Mal replied, managing a smile.
The head officer eyed them all, his cold eyes burning. "We received a call from two of our men insisting this was a rouge vessel for transporting two wanted individuals."
"Well," Mal laughed, "this is just my crew. Ain't no passengers."
"Mind if we look?"
Mal crossed his arms. "Do ya got a warrant of some kind?"
The man smirked coolly. "Do you have authorization for those crates?"
Grudgingly, Mal moved out of the way to let two assistant officers search the place. He turned back to the head officer who was trying to stare him down.
It was only a few minutes before the two men returned, shaking their heads. "There's no one else on the ship."
"You searched everywhere?" The officer questioned.
"Anywhere two people could possibly hide," one said.
The officer opened his mouth to tell them to continue looking when his scanner crackled. "Sir, we need medical attention up here. Two officers down, I repeat, two officers down."
"Damn," the man swore and replied, "Take them to the nearest hospital, we're done here." He turned to Mal, "Clearly, you don't have much to do with this, but I get news of your ship here again, and I will have you arrested. Dong le ma?"
"Crystal," Mal replied watching them back up off the ship. "Bye now!" He waited until the hatch closed before turning to the Wash.
"Soon as they leave, git Kaylee an' the doc back on an' radio Jayne, tell 'im we're comin' back up an' gittin' the hell of this rock."
"Yessir, Captain!" Wash replied, smiling wide at their escape.
Jayne watched as the two officers were carried on stretchers onto the shuttle. He picked up the scanner. "All clear here, lil' man."
"Big bear, we're coming to you."
Jayne growled back, "Gorram roger that."
River peeked at him through her hair. "Going home."
"Yeah, Crazy, we're goin' home."
They heard the rumble of Serenity and slipped out of their hiding spot, squinting as the ship settled in the dust, opening wide.
Simon immediately ran off the ship, grabbing his sister in a rib-crushing hug. "Oh, mei-mei, I was so worried."
"She's… fine, Simon," River managed, "however her…breathing is…restricted."
He let go, smiling sheepishly. "I'm just glad you are alright."
Jayne rolled his eyes at the touching display. "Sure she's fine," he grumbled, "she gorram started the whole thing."
River shot him a look. "Did not! You insisted on a ludicrously long path!"
"Well, maybe yer genius self coulda said somethin'!"
River inched closer to Simon, sticking out her tongue.
Jayne resisted the urge to retaliate childishly by giving her his meanest glare.
"Hey!" Mal shouted, "Git in here!"
All three clamored back on, watching the hatch close and feeling Serenity rumble to life.
"So, how'd it go out there?" Mal questioned.
River's chin tilted up. "My olfactory senses tell me Jayne needs a bath," she said and turned on her foot, heading to the mess.
Simon snorted, stifling his laughter as he followed his sister out of the cargo bay.
Mal turned to his mercanery. "Ya do smell a bit ripe."
"Shut it, Mal," he snapped, "an' if ya ever leave me with Crazy 'gain I'll damn well shoot myself."
Laughing, Mal clapped the man on the back. "Albatross give ya that much trouble?"
Jayne shrugged the arm off. "She's crazy, Mal, a moon brained girl with weird tend-ancies to make a man feel a lotta uncomfortableness." He stalked off in the direction of a shower, leaving Mal behind.
He sighed, smiling a little. "All's right in the 'verse again."
River found herself wandering late at night, running her hands along Serenity, getting reacquainted.
As she glided into the dinning area, she felt the last person she expected.
The mercenary glanced up from his bowl. "Aw hell, it's you."
"Yes," River replied, "No multiples."
"Huh?" Jayne grumbled, frowning.
"Never mind," River said quickly, sliding into the seat across from him.
"Listen, I've had enough of ya, so go bother someone else now," Jayne told her, slurping his drink.
"Everyone is enjoying their restful state," River reminded him.
"Well, ya can still go," Jayne prompted.
"No thank you," River replied pleasantly. "I wish to sit in this spot."
They sat in silence for a moment before Jayne spoke again. "I just wanna have a nice end of day alone, alright, Crazy?"
River smiled softly. "Dans chaque fin, il y a un début."
Jayne's brow creased. "I don't know what garbled language yer speakin' 'cause it don't make a lick of sense."
"It's French," River informed, "means: In every end, there is also a beginning."
Jayne paused, chewing thoughtfully. "Now, that's kinda pretty."
"Yes, it reflects Serenity's continuous cycle...the way of 'verse."
Jayne shrugged. "Guess so." He stood up and placed his bowl in the sink. "Go ta bed, girl. Brother'll git mad if yer up."
"Good night, Jayne," River said, ignoring his advise.
When he was out of ear shot, River smiled enigmatically. "It's our beginning too."
(reviews are fantastic, there will be a sequel tentatively titled: Vanishing Point)