Chapter 28 – Shootout

Jayne glance out the cargo door, first left, then right. He came back in through the airlock and punched the switch to close the outer door with no response.

"Gorram port lock." He growled. "It looks like we have two units out there now. One left and one right."

"Two?" Zoe sounded concerned. "One was bad enough."

"I don't get it. Both Units is just waitin, staring at each other. Why ain't they killin us? Jayne complained, looking up at Inara's shuttle. "Heck – I sure wish Mal would hurry up and get down here."

"Maybe they're just waiting for the Captain to get here, so they can kill us all together."

"Oh." Jayne replied, seeing Zoe's point. "He could take a little longer then."

The two didn't have to wait long.

"Zoe." Mal strode through the rear door of the cargo hold and tossed Jayne scope to him. "So what's happening out there?"

"Speak of the devil." She replied. "Nice of you to join us Sir."

"So…?" Jayne asked quietly. "Did you and 'Nara…?"

"God Jayne!" Mal snapped back incredulously. "Do you ever think of anything else?"

Zoe just smiled as she checked the action on her sawed-off.

"Not you too?" Mal said defensively.

"So what kept you, sir?" Zoe said through grinning teeth. "You were up there for quite a while."

"She let me send a wave is all. Her Com ain't locked down like ours." Mal said testily. "Had a long conversation with a purple bellied pencil pusher. He added, loading a carbine. "You know how bureaucrats go on and on."

"Right Sir." Zoe replied, still smiling.

"I had to make sure they fully understood our position in all this." He replied. "Still not sure I got my point across. Jayne, how many are out there?"

"Two units Mal."

"Port Lock?"

"Still on, sir." Zoe answered.

"Aren't we all just full of good news." As he crouched behind his cover, checking the load in his gun and glancing toward Inara's shuttle. She stood half concealed behind the doorway holding a carbine and smiling down at him. "Yeah, all sorts of good news."

The sound of the gunfire erupted outside as he spoke. Zoe ducked back behind a crate as a bullet ricocheted off the wall. She tossed a grenade out the open bay hoping to slow the attack. A neat round laser blast burned a hole in her palm the second she release it, but the small sphere did its job. Jayne returned fire, laying down a broad spread of high caliber bursts.

"How long do we have to hold?" Zoe said, wrapping a rag around her hand and taking up her Repeater.

"River's got 10 to get us out of here." Mal replied. "Then we 'Rabbit' according to plan."

The container next to Jayne exploded into a shred of metal shards as the strike unit returned fire with their own heavy caliber weapons.

"Ahee, my leg. Gorrammit Mal they got poppers." Jayne screamed as he pulled a blade of scrap metal from his thigh. "They rip our airlock with them and we ain't going no place."

Small arms fire opened up outside Serenity. Bullets and blasters were flying everywhere. Orders were shouted frantically, angry curses, a few explosions and chaos broke out everywhere. Mal and Zoe joined in, until they noticed not all of the fire was targeting Serenity. Soon the two units outside were only engaging each other, leaving the three warriors inside looking at each other in confusion.

"What the…?" Jayne babbled.

"We're looking at this all wrong." River said to Wash's ghost, who was now lying on the floor, face down, counting the rivets. The sound of gunfire started moments earlier and hadn't stopped since. Wash, even as a ghost, was taking no chances.

"We keep asking for permission, hoping they will think we are important enough." River continued. "We can't fool them."

"What are you saying?" Wash was confused.

"We keep thinking like Wash, when we should think like Mal." River answered.

"Look – I'm your figment. I can only think like me." The ghost defended from the floor.

"What would Mal do?" River asked the ghost.

"He'd hit them where it hurt."

"We should take them down." River mumbled. "If you can't hit the head, step on the toe."

It didn't take long for River to find a hole in the network's security code of another ship. Soon she was in to the other ships accounting system, and then another's. Within minutes every ship in Eavesdown was Serenity. The spaceport computer put them all automatically on port lock.

"What would Mal do?" She mumbled as she typed frantically at the console. "What would Mal do?"

A minute later the dockworkers had all been fired and the port fees had gone up 500%. The spaceport computer locked out the night shift and automatically accessed every bank on Persephone. Managers across the city, from Southdown to Landsdown, were pulled away from their evening affairs or woken from their sleep to handle a glut of overdrawn accounts and angry ship owners.

"What would Mal do?"

The girl's fingers flew skillfully over the keyboard sending a shower of cyber havoc over the spaceport. River was working on changing the port authority's compensation package when somebody panicked. The computer systems all went down, all of them. The port lock dropped.

Wash looked at River with a combination of amazement and pride. "You played the people – not the machine. They panicked."

"Kaylee!" River barked into the intercom. "Fire her up, we're leaving."

Without a moment's hesitation, clearance or permission, the Firefly lifted from the pad and left Eavesdown. Soon Persephone has fading behind them.

River looked at Wash proudly. "I am a bit in the stream – watch me code."

"Looks like you got to the right people, Sir." Zoe said, looking from Mal to Jayne with relief in her expression. "Airlock's holding. Blast didn't damage it."

"Well thank God for that, anyway." Jayne picked up three empty weapons and hobbled toward the infirmary. "Glad that's over."

"Thank God for that?" Mal mumbled considering the statement. "I'll have to ask River what Book has to say about it."

"Who'd you talk to anyways?" Zoe asked.

"An old client of Inara's." Mal said. "I the Commerce Department."