Experience so far told him that these creepy buggers could camouflage too well. The dark spaces and hidey-holes made excellent cover.
They had slick black armour, long scorpion like tails and acid blood… and then there was the drool.
But there were the other aliens as well, just as ugly, but more like him.
Armed with weapons he admired and tracking skills to boot.
He began to creep quietly up corridor towards the visible stars through the view port. The ship was stationary. Dead. Only life support was running.
He reached the cockpit, his senses told him it was here. He was a hunter after all. But where was it?
There was a sudden squishing noise and then a sudden slicing pain through his shoulder.
He looked down to see the shiny black spear-head piercing out of his chest.
Pain was now irrelevant and he pushed it away.
He spun around ignoring the agonising sensations radiating from the wound. The beast was pulled into towards him as he stabbed the creature through the torso, the acid blood instantly eating through the metal and burning his hand. But the damage was done, and the beast was dead.
He pulled away quickly, avoiding more acid burns and removing the tail from his shoulder.
To his knowledge that was the last one, only the other aliens were –
A battle cry echoed down the hallway followed by the angry scream of one of the beasts… apparently there was one more.
He rose quickly running towards the rear of the ship and the source of the commotion.
He stopped, two of the aliens were engaged in battle with the beast; one of them had it pinned with a long pole whilst another blew a neat little whole in its head. They both ducked for cover as the head exploded sending acidic blood everywhere.
The two aliens rose from their cover and walked towards each other, they noticed him… a standoff was imminent.
He primed his weapon–
He wasn't quick enough, one of the alien's had blasted him clean through the chest… he could feel his blood pouring away, he was getting weaker… he could hear the aliens communicating as they walked towards him.
He wasn't gonna let them think they could beat him! If he died… they died. He reached for his grenade pack-
There was a slicing sound… it gave him… pause. He looked down to see his arm was gone. One of the aliens looked down at him and shook its head.
Everything was going dark… he was just glad he couldn't feel pain from his arm.
Eight Years Earlier…
Jayne Cobb had been around for many years. He had been to the edge of known space and beyond. Not even his beautiful River knew all that he had seen. There was just too much for her to read in such a short space of time.
He recognised the alien vessel when it had latched onto Serenity. He had come across them before.
On a planet beyond the Rim.
He had found enough evidence to tell him that these two races were part of some great war. He figured the black aliens with tails were animals like wolves and dogs… pack hunters. Primitive, yet deadly. Not to be underestimated, not if the carnage on the planet was anything to go by.
The other aliens were a civilized if, war like race. They were well armed.
He had been chased to the planet by some rival gang, he had the bounty they were both after. A good bit of coin. But they wouldn't leave him alive to tell the tale.
Jayne ventured away from his damaged craft. The landing had been rough, but he had walked away. He could see the other craft landing less than 100 meters away. He picked up his backpack and weapon.
The bounty: a decorated and expensive egg.
Jayne figured it was a simple escort job, but he wasn't told until he arrived at the pick up point that it was a gorram egg!
With the "bounty" safely in his backpack he headed for a nearby ridge, time to put his sniping abilities to good use.
He settled in to position and checked out his pursuers. They were checking out his crashed craft, looking for signs of him.
There were two by their ship, standing guard. Two shots and they were nothing to worry about.
That left three in his ship and two outside.
There was a rustle, his instincts kicked in and he rolled to the side quickly drawing his hunting knife and plunging it into thin air.
He pulled out his knife; it was covered in a green liquid. The area in front of him shimmered as tiny lightning bolts rippled around to reveal a 7 foot… creature.
It was not a pretty face. It had pincers on its mouth, its skin was a brownish green. Well muscled. Clearly a warrior, with a spear.
A gun shot echoed and pinged off a nearby rock. Jayne ducked. Great, he wasn't just being hunted by dumb mercenaries like himself but also weird creatures. He heard a slithering noise and looked back at the rock. There was something behind it uncurling rising up.
A huge black monster with an elongated head reared up. A long thick serrated tail with a spear head was swaying over its head like a serpent ready to strike.
Jayne knew this was bad. He had surprised the other creature but this one was going to be a different fight.
Its mouth opened and it hissed; a small head protruded from inside the larger head, sharp metallic like teeth snapping.
Ok, this was not only a tougher fight, but a more disgusting opponent.
The tail suddenly struck, nicking his left bicep, he pushed the pain away and sliced at the tail.
He was surprised at how easily the knife was able to chop the spear off.
He heard another hissing noise… but not from the creature.
He looked down to see his favourite hunting knife melting in his hands. He dropped it quickly.
Great, tougher, uglier and now poisonous opponent.
Jayne was out of knives. He figured a gun as bad idea. No point blowing holes in a creature with blood that will kill you. No telling how much blood splatter a bullet will cause.
The alien spear. He rolled over to his right were the dead alien lay and grasped the spear, quickly cataloguing its features. There was a button on the thick handle, he pressed it and the spear retracted.
"Oh that's just brilliant." He berated himself.
The alien monster hissed and leaped at him. Jayne quickly rolled the dead warrior alien on top of him as a shield just as the monster landed.
He angled the spear and prayed as he pressed the button.
The spear extended through the body he used as a shield and he heard the angry screaming from the monster.
Jayne rose up and once he gained his footing he pushed pinning the monster and the warrior on the rock.
The screaming stopped as the monster went limp and died.
Only a minute had passed since the monster had been revealed.
Jayne slid over to his snipers rifle and checked out his pursuers. Damn scope had bent when the alien warrior landed on it.
Two of the men were trudging towards his position; the third was guarding his ship. He took out the third, impressing himself with his own skill.
He checked the cartridge. Empty.
He was out of bullets. The remaining two men had quickened their approach when Jayne's shot rang out.
Jayne ran over to the impaled aliens, he pushed the button to retract the spear, confused, some how it hadn't melted.
Time to be confused later.
He pulled the warrior on top of him as cover and waited as the final two approached. He heard them stop, shocked at the site of the creatures. He heard one of them vomit.
The other approached; Jayne felt the dead weight shift as the man kicked it with his foot.
There was the sound of sliding metal as the spear sprang open and the man was impaled through the heart. He fell, instantly dead.
Jayne threw the man off and quickly approached the last man, who was fumbling with fear as he tried to cock his gun.
Jayne speared him through the heart too. The man wasn't cut out for this type of work, and Jayne didn't feel the need to make him suffer.
Jayne retrieved his backpack and was about to make his way down to his ship.
A sound reached his ears, far and undefined.
Jayne climbed to the peak of the ridge.
He peered over and froze.
A huge pyramid like structure rose from the centre of a large plane. Hundred… thousands even, of the black creatures were pouring up the pyramid.
A ship hovered above the pinnacle of the pyramid which was flat and not pointed.
Jayne retrieved his rifle and peered through the scope.
On top he could see twenty-two of the warrior creatures destroying wave after wave of the black monsters.
Jayne was impressed.
One of the warriors fell beneath the ocean of monsters and the remaining warriors closed the gap.
It was military precision.
Jayne's sweat turned cold as he realised that if the warriors fell, the monsters would be after him.
Of course if the monsters fell, the warriors could also come after him.
Jayne slid back down the ridge slope and discarded his rifle. He didn't need the useless weight.
He headed back to his ship.
On his way he picked the bodies clean of decent weapons and ammo. His ship was totalled. So he entered the other ship and prepped for takeoff.
As the ship shot off into the outer atmosphere, five of the warrior aliens appeared; the leader was draped in a cloak and was adorned with trophies of his many conquests.
They had been watching the fight between the various creatures.
He was impressed that this creature had managed to take out not just one of his own, the monsters they hunted, but also those of his own kind.
And he had not bled a single drop.
"He was going to blow us up." River stated matter-of-factly.
"Is that all of them?" Jayne asked as he kicked the warrior lying in the cargo bay. River had sliced its arm clean off.
"There is one more." She told him quietly.
"Monster or warrior?" He asked in hushed tones.
"Warrior, and leader." She informed him.
River turned to face the airlock as the final alien appeared.
Jayne raised Vera; he would not let them harm anyone.
But the warrior raised his arms in supplication as River gently pressed down on Vera's barrel, lowering the gun.
Jayne trusted his girl, but his eyes never left the warrior and his finger never left the trigger.
The warrior pulled two long objects from under his cloak and laid them on the ground.
He inclined his head and marched off Serenity and onto his own ship.
The airlock sealed. The alien vessel disengaged.
"They are gone." River said removing her hand from Vera. "He left you a gift, a memento of another battle."
Jayne looked down at his wife. She couldn't mean that battle.
"I will release the locks on Inara's shuttle and let the crew out." She told him.
Jayne watched as she ascended the stairs. Then turned and walked over to the objects that had been left.
His busted rifle and the spear he killed the monster with.
Jayne smiled as he realised that the warrior must have seen everything that day.
His blood ran cold as he realised just how many he nearly had to fight.
River opened the shuttle door and was immediately accosted by a crying Kaylee.
"River I was so worried about you." She cried hugging her mei-mei tightly to her.
"What the hell happened out here?" Mal demanded. "'Nara and I wake up to find the whole gorram crew in our quarters and all this screaming is coming from outside!"
"Runtse de fwotzoo, ching baoyo wuomun..." Came Inara's plaintive prayer as she saw the carnage.
The crew turned to see the huge black creature impaled to the hull of his ship.
"River, you best start explaining." Mal said seriously.
"The hunters were after their prey, they came aboard our ship on the last moon." There were gasps as realisation dawned. "The hunters boarded our ship after we shut down for the night and started to hunt."
"Ok, so why were we all trapped in the shuttle?" Wash asked, having finally found his voice.
"We drugged you and dragged you into the shuttle to keep you safe. Only Jayne has experience of these aliens and I have read the reports in the Alliance records… and Jayne's mind."
"Jayne fought these things before?" Zoe was clearly impressed.
"The day he got Vera." She informed her as she descended the stairs, the crew in tow.
"Why… how… what…" Simon was at a loss; barring mutant cow foetus' he thought aliens were a myth.
"IS MY GORRAM SHIP MELTING?" Shouted the captain as he stormed over to the ever growing hole in his cargo bay floor.
"Mal, don't touch the black ones," Jayne called over, "Their blood eats through most things."
Mal jumped back and kept backing up till he hit Shepherd Book.
"Well you two can clear these things off my ship before we spring a leak." Mal ordered.
"Fine, Mal." Jayne groused. "First me an' River gotta sweep the ship just to be sure, in the meantime hose these guys down with cold water, it'll water down the reaction of the acidic blood."
Jayne grabbed River before she could speak and dragged her off towards the infirmary, stopping briefly to pick the armour and weapons off the dead warrior.
Wash was prodding the huge black carcass as the rest of the crew waited on Kaylee to retrieve the hose.
"Husband, stop playing with the deadly aliens." Zoe admonished.
"I was just wondering how Jayne knew how to deal with these things." Wash mused.
"I imagine River told him, they are more than just a couple, but also a tried and tested team." Book noted.
"How did she know?" Kaylee asked as she came up behind them with the hose.
"Basic chemistry," Simon informed her, "what do you do if you get an acid burn?"
"Well I think we should be able to flush these things out the airlock as long as we don't touch the blood." Mal suggested.
"Green blood?" Inara asked, "Has anyone ever come across green blood?"
"Its just… so… science-fiction-y." Wash said. "Yes I know… we live on a spaceship." He said preventing his wife from pointing out the obvious.
Jayne and River reached the infirmary but didn't stop.
"Jayne, there aren't anymore aliens onboard." She told him, unsure what was going on.
"I know," He responded as he threw her a smile over his shoulder. "I just figured we deserved some alone time as we dealt with those hun dans all by our lonesome."
It was the sound that Jayne adored; the happiness of his beautiful wife like birdsong in the mornings.
River sped up to reach their bunk quicker.
It was only ten minutes later when Kaylee was hammering on their hatch.
"Jayne, River? Sorry to disturb you, but the Mal's gone and messed with the bodies and he's not only burnt his hand but also spilt more acid blood."
"I'm gonna kill Mal."
Jayne was shocked. He never thought he'd hear River say that.
Kinda turned him on.
"Use more water on the blood and tie the cap'n to a chair." Jayne called through the hatch. "We'll be up in twenty."
"We'll be up in thirty." River corrected.
"Aye-Aye sir!" Came the cheeky mechanics response.
"Hmm, thirty minutes." Jayne mused. "I hope you're gonna make it worth my while Darlin'."
"Don't I always?" River smiled innocently.