A/N: I'm so glad that there are a lot of people who want me to continue this story, it makes writing it even more fun. Thanks to everyone who fav/alerted it and even left comments, I love to hear what you all think.
Disclaimer: I do NOT own these characters, I only play with them. Joss is Boss.
"Now don't go'n do somethin' yer gonna regret." Mal pulled a gun from its snug holster and aimed it at the woman.
"I ain't the one that's gonna be regrettin' anythin'."
A large figure stepped from the darkness of the tress, the man held a shot gun pointed at Jayne.
"Hands where I can see'em." He growled. Behind him came two other burly men with guns aimed at Jayne and Zoe.
"Yer out numbered." The woman announced.
"Not by much." Mal's heart swelled with pride when Zoe unholstered her guns and trained them on two of the men while Jayne pulled out his. There was an unspoken agreement to not go down without a fight.
"I've got more men in the forest, yer surrounded."
"I'm willin' to call yer bluff."
"It ain't a bluff."
"How we surrounded when there ain't nobody over there?" Jayne pointed with one gun to the empty space behind him. One of the three men moved to occupy the space.
"Thank you, Jayne, for your clever observation." Zoe hissed angrily.
For a second, Mal actually thought about shooting the merc in the foot. When he decided not to was when he felt something small and hard hit him at the back of his head. The captain turned to see where the object came from, he saw a small dark thing coming at him from the trees. Mal was too slow to move, it hit him square between the eyes.
"There's...there's someone out there." He pointed to the dark cover of trees. His eyes felt heavy and his body seemed as light as a feather. Mal's eyelids fluttered and closed as his head tipped back too far, he fell hard to the ground. Pain radiated from his spine, slowly he began to loose his grip on reality.
"Are you alright, sir?" Zoe's familiar voice reached his ears.
"Step any which way in his direction'n I'll shoot." The other woman's slight twang threatened. "I swear - "
Mal's hearing faded as he drifted into unconsciousness.
"Someone wanna tell me why ya'll were tearin' into my graveyard?"
"Hwoon dahn, no one's shot'er yet?" Mal could feel a hard lump forming on the back of his head.
"Oh, they tried, but they weren't quick 'nough." The woman gave a little chuckle. "My shooters disarmed'em in record time." She boasted.
Mal tried to move but found himself bound hands and feet. He looked around to see Jayne and Zoe fashioned likewise. "And ya let'em tie us up?"
"Looks that way, sir." Zoe looked forlornly at her weapons at the foot of one of the three burly goons.
"Why. Were. Ya'll. Tearin'. Up. My. Graveyard?" The woman's voice rose angrily with every word until she was shouting, demanding a answer. "What were ya'll doin' with Jolene's casket?" She released a shell into the barrel of the shot gun. "I ain't gonna inquire again."
A small cry, followed by a muffled sound of something heavy falling, came from the darkness of the tree line.
"Leda, what was that?" Asked the man standing over Jayne.
"How I'm s'posed to know?"
The sharp distinct sound of bones snapping and tendons tearing reached the ears of those in the graveyard. It was amazing how clearly sound traveled among trees.
"Go check it out." Leda ordered.
Hesitantly, he positioned the butt of his gun against the groove of his shoulder and slowly stalked into the shelter of the tall trees.
Leda held her gun steady. Listening and carefully watching after her hired hand, she stayed alert for any other sounds.
"They released'n evil soul or somethin' when they digged up the grave." Another man claimed.
"Eh, bi zuie, don't be startin' in on that spirit fei hua." Jayne shouted.
"Close yer yap!" Leda commanded. Her twang bounced off the tombstones and tree trunks echoing in the air. As it faded, they heard the sick breaking of bones again.
Mal pulled himself into the upright sitting position. He took the moment of distraction as a blessing, the best one he would get in a situation such as this. The woman had her gun trained on him although she was starring hard into the thick cover of trees and darkness. Mal scooted inch by inch toward the woman with the intent to disarm her.
'I wish I could use my arms.' He tried to work his hands free. The holds only grew tighter, biting deep into his skin. 'Ai ya, I'll have to make do.'
Before he could surprise attack Leda by using his feet to knock her legs out from under her, shots sprayed out from the trees. The gun men screamed. Leda dropped her gun as if it were on fire, she doubled over cradling her right arm to her chest. A scream pushed through her clenched teeth. Another round of shots rang out lightening quick and perfectly accrurate.
"Tzao gao!" Mal ducked behind a tombstone, the hard coldness seeped through his jacket and shirt and spread goosebumps along the flesh of his back. Although bullets were raining down in his general direction from a seemingly experienced shooter, all he could think of was River's safety and making it through the next few minutes to see her large brown eyes again. To smell the soft wild flower scent that clung to her dark locks.
Peering around the headstone, Mal watched the two remaining tall burly men clutch at their wrists and knees and fall to the ground. Leda was writhing on the ground, unarmed, dripping blood from her hands and knees. Groaning and crying filled the air, all was quiet from the forest.
"Zoe?" Jayne called uncertainly, "Mal?"
"Still here." Mal replied.
"Me too," Zoe finally called out after a handful of seconds.
'There hasta be some way of finishin' the job.' Mal eventually thought when he decided that worrying about River at a time like this was too much for him to handle, he'd rather face what was going on this very second. Mal's eyes darted from the tree line to the casket shining in the light of the flashlights to the gun only inches from Leda's right arm.
With his back to the roughness of the headstone, Mal began rubbing the ropes binding his arms against a sharp edge. He rubbed furiously trying to free himself as fast as he could.
Soft footsteps crept closer and closer, pausing once or twice.
"Sir?" Zoe's voice sounded louder, closer than it was a few seconds ago.
'Should I answer? Wouldn't wannna give up my position to the gunners. Zoe whatcha doin'?'
"Sir?" She was only a few feet away, the beam from her flashlight bobbed around in the darkness looking for something to land on. "You can come out now, sir. We're safe."
"Define safe.." He could see the tip of her boot only two feet away from him.
Her flashlight cast a small circle of light that flooded his face, the captain's eyes squinted in the sudden brightness, she quickly lowered it to his chest. "Safe as in the bad guys have been disarmed and we've been set free." She closed the space between them in seconds. One hand held the flashlight, the other held a knife, she used it to cut the ropes from Mal's hands and feet.
Mal stood a little unsteadily, but soon found his balance. He followed Zoe towards the casket, kicking the gun further away from Leda. Jayne had a gun pointed at the man who had been previously standing over him, now the roles were reversed. He was shocked to see River safe and present. She grabbed the other man's gun and slung it across her chest to rest near the other two guns already slung across her body.
"We should get movin'." Mal mumbled, he rubbed his head. He should have been accustomed to this kind of confusion already.
"What 'bout'em?" Jayne nodded toward the three people still writhing on the ground moaning and gritting their teeth.
"Don't kill less you hafta." Mal approached the casket, trying to find a way to carry it to the ship. "Well, let's get to it. Jayne."
Zoe found her gun and stood watch as the men began to pick up the coffin.
River walked over to the long shiny box and kicked the base of it repeatedly with all of her might.
"Hwoon dahn!" Jayne yelled. "What the hell are you doing? Don't hurt the merchandise!"
"Don't stand there, get'er." Mal demanded. He would have done it himself, but he didn't trust himself to touch her. The jolt of electricity from the last time they touched was still too fresh in his memory.
Jayne tried to grab her around the waist and carry her away, but the little reader put up a good fight. Her boot clad feet kicked the coffin one last time. Jayne threw her to the ground. Mal could feel a protest on the tip of his tongue, but swallowed it when he heard a soft click followed by a release of pressure.
"What was that?" He growled. He didn't have time for River's crazy fits.
"Jen dao mei," Jayne groaned. "She broke the box."
River crawled in the dirt, scraping her knees, to the casket. Mal moved around the big object to see what she was doing. Her tiny hands pulled at a dislodged piece of metal until it revealed a hidden compartment, a shelf with a large square shaped object wrapped in layers of cloth and plastic. River pulled the object from the shelf and set it in her lap. Mal and Jayne stared at her in wonder.
"Shumma?" The word fell from Jayne's open mouth.
"Leave the casket." River said brushing dust from the plastic, her round dark eyes locked onto Mal's. "This is the job."
Hwoon dahn: Son of a bitch.
Bi zuie: Shut up.
Fie hua: Bullshit.
Ai ya: Damn.
Tzao gao: oh shit.