Spartan's Quest - Chapter 32

Author owns no rights to Firefly, and writes only for his own amusement.

T H I S I S A S C E N E S E P A R A T O R (lol)

Jayne watched with some anxiety as everyone return to the ships. He had faith in River, but this was so dicey that it was hard to be calm about it.

"It should work," she said softly, from just behind him.

"I think so, too," he admitted. "It's just. . .risky. Very risksy."

"No victory without risk," she shrugged. He sighed.

"I know," he turned to her. "And, I agree, it's better than trying to take them on the ground, as outnumbered as we are. But the odds are that someone will see us. And that's not good. Without Julio here to block things, and to create 'ghosts' for sensor reports, we're very open. That's all."

"Systems on our two ships are capable of doing those things," she reminded him. "Even without hacker influence. He designed the systems, after all."

"No one knows how to run the better than him," Jayne shook his head.

"Not better, perhaps," River smiled slyly, "but adequately, I think for this application. Have faith."

"Yeah."

T H I S I S A S C E N E S E P A R A T O R

Artemis had entered atmo, and formed quickly with Athena. River's plan was rather simple, in reality. The danger was that not all of Wilson's men would be dealt with. As the two Asgard vessels headed straight for the Wilson farm, Winters' ship banked hard starboard away from them, in order to approach the farm from the north. Meanwhile, Meadows' small cruiser veered sharply to port, and increased it's speed, in order to approach from the south by southwest.

The plan would be for Artemis and Athena to level the place, ship, farmhouse, and all, while the other two tried to make sure no one escaped. Once the destruction was done, then someone would have to go and check the bodies. If they weren't 'dead' dead, then someone would need to administer the coup-de-gras in person.

Jayne had decided he'd do that. River would not be able to go along, since she would be managing the ships ECM systems. The three Team members would go instead.

"Approaching the farm, Milord," Harry called. "We're on course, on time, and Artemis is on our port side."

"Artemis reports on target, systems go," another crew member reported, monitoring the communication systems.

"All right, here we go," Jayne breathed. "Open fire when targets acquired," he ordered.

Ten seconds later, two quartet's of missiles were flying. Artemis was targeting the Lucky Seven, and the grounded ship never had a chance. The missiles struck the ship in four places along the port side, and the ship was an instant pyre.

Athena's missiles targeted the farmhouse. Most of their targets were either in the house, or onboard ship. There were a handful of figures which could be seen running wildly below. As the ships banked for another run, their turrets begin to hammer at the figures running below.

A 30mm caseless round does terrible things to the human body. Designed for use against ships, or other hardened targets, using them against flesh and blood target seemed like gross overkill.

Except when the flesh and blood targets had the ability to regenerate themselves.

Jayne watched impassively as the few moving targets below more or less disintegrated when struck with the large rounds. He felt no remorse, and certainly no sympathy. A great many people had suffered because of these men. Too many to waste any pity on them. And Jayne wasn't over burdened with pity to start with.

The ships made two more runs, stalking anyone moving with remorseless efficiency. After two more passes in which no moving targets were visible to the eye, or the sensors, Jayne ordered Artemis to maintain over-watch, and Harry to set Athena so that the place could be inspected.

Jayne, followed by the nine members of his Team that were on the ship, moved down the ramp, and over the sight. Jayne heard the occasional sound of a sword striking flesh or bone, and wondered that anyone had survived the strafing run. Shaking his head, he continued to move.

The smell of blood was overpowering to the Brethren, but they were well disciplined. They used their senses instead to find that blood, and it's source, often finding an enemy with enough life left to re-generate. They didn't leave them that way.

"We've counted twenty-nine, Milord," came the report finally. "And there's evidence of as many a four on the ship, though there's no way to really know."

"Excellent," Jayne replied, his voice cold. "I trust we've made sure of the bodies?"

"Very sure, milord," the man nodded grimly. "There will be no re-generation for these."

"Then our work here is completed," Jayne ordered. "Get everyone back to the ship. I want to get out of here."

The men hurried across the distance. They were nearly to the ship when Jayne heard River's voice.

"Alliance shuttle on the way," she spoke calmly. "They cannot see us, but are responding to a call of a possible ship crash."

"ETA?" Jayne asked tersely as the last of his men boarded.

"At least twenty-five minutes," River assured him. Plenty of time. "Let's go."

The four ships settled into a loose formation, heading for the black.

T H I S IS A S C E N E S E P A R A T O R

Mal handed the few prisoners over without fanfare to Alliance officials on Londinium. Those officials had eyed him warily at first, but the production of official Justice of Ministry identification, using his own name, had ended that. JoM Marshals weren't common. And they were powerful.

"Well, that jobs done," Neera smiled at him. Mal nodded, as the two walked back to the ship. He had already completed his report during the trip back. He'd be notified for any court actions.

"I'm right glad, too," he replied. "I don't know that I'm cut out for this job, you know?" Before Neera could answer, one of the Hecate's crew arrived at the ramp entrance.

"Marshal, there's a wave for you. From the Minister."

"What minister?" Mal frowned.

"Of Justice, sir," the man replied, puzzled.

"I knew it," Mal sighed. "We're in trouble for this. Damn that Jayne's hide. I shouldn'a never trusted. . . ."

"How 'bout you see what he wants 'fore you start threatening people, Mal," Neera eyed him severely. "Might just want to say thanks."

"Alliance don't say thanks," Mal muttered, but made his way to the terminal in the small galley just the same. He hit the button, to find himself facing an older man in a simple suit.

"Ah, Marshal Reynolds," the man said with a smile. "I hope I'm not intruding."

"No sir," Mal shook his head. "We just dropped off a load o' prisoners into custody, and a group o' folks we saved from the slavers. Social services is helpin'em. 'Spect some been reported missin'."

"That's good. I had been briefed just moments ago. Well done, Marshal. Excellent work."

"Thank you, Minister," Mal replied.

"There's another reason I called. I'm sure you knew that," he smiled. Mal stifled a groan.

"We took as many alive as. . . ."

"I have another mission I need. . . ."

"What?" both men then said at once. Flustered, Mal shook his head.

"Please, sir, you go ahead."

"Very well. I have another mission for you and your crew. I need you to head out to the rim colony of Newhope. It's a small agriculture colony, complete with an experiment station testing new crops, fertilizers, and what not. You can review the file on your way."

"Thing is, there have been a number of disappearances there. Over a dozen in the last three months, including the assistant director of the Station. I want you to go and see what's happening, and put an end to it, Marshall."

"You do?" Mal almost goggled. "I mean, of course, Minister. Send us the file, and as soon as we're fueled and provisioned, we'll be on our way."

"Excellent," the minister smiled. "I must say, Lord Janos said I could count on you, and he was quite correct. I really am trying to bring about some law and order on the rim worlds. It's been ignored too long. And you are just the man to help me get that done."

"Uh, I. . .errr. . .thank you sir," Mal managed to stammer, while Neera fought to keep from laughing. "We'll do our best."

"I know you will, Marshal. Please keep in touch." With that the wave broke.

"I. . err, um, that is," Neera mimicked. Mal turned red about the ears a bit, but was still stunned at what had happened.

"I. . .I guess I'm a gorram Marshal," he muttered. "Didn't really think about. . . ."

"The future?" Neera smiled. "Better start thinking differently Mal," she cooed. "You're a man with serious connections now. Big connections. Things are gonna change for you."

"I guess," Mal shrugged. "Well, meantime, we got things to see to. We need fuel, grub, and ammo. And we need to have someone take a look at damage Hecate took in the fight, and. . . ."

"That's what you have crew for, Marshal," Neera told him. "Time to start giving orders."

T H I S I S A S C E N E S E P A R A T O R

Jayne and River managed to return without Regan ever realizing what they had been up to. She asked if the trip had been successful, and both replied that it had. She assumed it was business, which, in a way, it had been.

With Wilson now gone, and all the children safe, Jayne felt there was just one more bit of business he needed to lay to rest. Brockman.

The only problem was, no one could find him. His friend on Ariel had told him the man hadn't been seen in months. Badger hadn't heard from him either. 'Not since 'e wanted info 'bout Reynolds' Badger had told them. 'Maybe 'e's dead', the little crook had added.

Jayne couldn't accept that, but there was absolutely nothing he could do about it for now. If he couldn't find the man, he couldn't kill him. And there were other duties to attend to.

With Regan's help, Jayne's business dealings were up to date, and she now had a firm hand on all of Jayne's businesses. This left him with little to do, for once, and he was enjoying it. Gabriel Tam had finally hit bottom, and was trying to claw his way back up. He had called Regan to apologize, asking her to forgive him, but not to come home. He didn't want to push his luck.

Jayne had made a quiet call that same evening, and Gabriel had a pleasant surprise waiting for him when the markets opened the next day.

Prim and Inara settled in on Nightside with Simon and Kaylee. They all felt beholden to stay and help with the children, and Prim being there gave another dimension to their security. Everyone was enjoying having so many kids around, and Kaylee was making sighing noises at Simon on a regular basis now about 'kids of our own'.

Inara made no such noises to Prim, of course, knowing what she did about the Brethren. But the two were very comfortable, settling into what Inara called 'keeping house'. Kaylee had chuckled, saying that where she came from, folks called it 'shakin' up'. Inara had looked scandalized, but grinned at the same time.

Zoe, along with Julio and the rest of Serenity's crew, kept flying, picking up plenty of work thanks to Jayne. They were able to stay coreward for the most part, and spend a good bit of time on the ground.

And Zoe was finally letting Julio 'bunk' with her. Things were good.

Everyone just wondered where Brockman was, and what he was up to.

Sooner or later, they knew he would turn up. All they could do was try and be ready.

This is the end of Spartan's Quest. There's the possibility that the character will return once more, in the future, but there are NO PROMISES. I won't make the mistake again of starting to post a story before it's completed. I had never done that until this one. And it took how long? I'm afraid to look.

I have a SHADE story in the works, but don't look for it until it's finished. No promises on when, but soon, I hope. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged, criticized, cajoled, threatened, and pled with me over this and all my other attempts at fanfic. You're the reason I write. Well, that and cause I like it.:)

Bad Karma