RSTC/ Firefly:: Lost

"Food." Carl Jenkins quickly answered.

"Hot shower." Dizzy Flores grinned.

"One of those hot and cold gel packs would be nice." Jeffrey Gossard turned to the medic beside him. "You know what, I used to think they couldn't make those marauder seats more uncomfortable." He slumped against his seat even further.

Doc Lecroix shrugged. "Tell you what. I'll get you that pack from the infirmary, if you do something about those seats." He replied.

"Deal." The mechanic nodded without another thought.

Max Brutto smirked. "Sounds like you're getting old, Gossard. Maybe it's time to retire." He teased.

Gossard rolled his eyes. "You want a turn in the bus, Maxi?" He emphasized the younger trooper's nickname. "Go right ahead. I'm warning you though, there's a level of coordination needed to move that thing." He wagged a finger knowingly.

"Psh." Brutto waved the concern away with a hand. "I'm an All- star buddy.I've got hand eye coordination in spades." He stated proudly.

"Who said anything about hand- eye?" The older trooper challenged smugly. "I'm talking about your brain with the rest of your body." He laughed out loud while the other troopers tried to hold back laughter. "You're lucky Sergeant Zim had that thing with the Marlowe. I'm sure would've loved to have seen that fall you took on the ridge and you fell onto a puddle waving your hands like mad talking nonsense." He barely contained his laughter.

"How'd you ever survive Hydora last week?" Higgins nervously joined in watching the trooper redden significantly.

"Why you little--"

"Zip it!" Lt. Johnny Rico ordered however obvious it was that he himself was trying to stifle his own laughter. "I mean it, Brutto." He added before the trooper could complain. "No raging out today. I'd like to get to the Valley Forge in one piece please." He smiled sweetly. "Sanity. Intact." He added. "In fact, I wouldn't mind sleeping like her." He pointed to the girl whose head was leaning against the shoulder restraint. "How exactly does Andy sleep anytime anywhere?"

Brutto's face relaxed to a sly grin. "She powers off." He replied dryly reviving an old joke about the girl being a robot.

However, the troopers' humour was shortlived. The ship violently jerked to one side silencing the group. The siren above the door to the cockpit swirled in furious red as ship trembled once more. "Roughnecks you better be strapped back there." The familiar voice of Carmen Ibanez echoed through the metal walls. "It's going to get bumpy."

"Dude, what's going on?" A sleepy Ashley Anderson faced the lieutenant rubbing one side of her head in pain.

"Good question." Rico frowned hitting a button on the panel next to his seat. "Carmen? What's going on?" He asked equally confused as the ship rocked again.

There was a moment of reluctant silence before the pilot replied. "We're under fire. " Ibanez spat out bitterly.

Rico's eyes widened in shock. "We're under fire?!" He exclaimed. "From what?"

"Transport bug with plasmas." Came the strained answer.

"What?!" The lieutenant repeated in panic.

"Helmets. Now." Ibanez ordered right before an explosion sent the ship spinning.
-----

Zoe Washburne stared fondly at the plastic toys left on the dashboard of the Serenity. She can't remember exactly how many times she had to help her husband look for them after a particularly rocky landing or a chase or anything that remote rocked the ship. The toys weren't exactly strapped down.

"Wash, no offense, but why don't you just... stow them away?" She used to ask the red head on more than one occasion after handing him the last toy.

"Ah Zoe,"He would shake his head nonchalantly, wrap one hand around her , raise the other hand and motioned to the scene infront of him. "You see that big beautiful space?" He would ask wistfully.

"Sure." She would nod coolly.

Her husband's shoulders would drop and he would look at his lips pressed. "Well, it gets boring sometimes." He would confess dryly.

Zoe shook her head with a small smile at the memory. With a sigh, she admitted quietly to the empty cockpit that her departed husband was right. It hasn't even been an hour since she relieved the captain from pilot duties and she was more or less bored out of her mind. His specific instructions were-- "If something beeps wrong, holler." Well, nothing has beeped wrong just yet and there was still a lot of space to cover from wherever they were to Canton.

Gingerly, she traced the plastic spine of the stegosaurus with a grin. She looked back just to see that the door and the adjacent hall devoid of life. Satisfied, she picked up the two dinosaurs in the dash trying to remember one particular story that her dearly departed husband loved so much. "Ah, yes, this is good. Um..." She paused cringing as the words started to come like Wash was coaching her from behind. "This is good." She nodded bobbing the stegosaurus. "This is a fertile land. And we will thrive... We will call this land..." She paused again not recollecting what he called the land beyond "This land"

She raised the T-rex and changed her voice. "I think you should call it you're grave!"

The conversation was clearer to her now as she started bobbing the other toy again. "Ah! Curse your sudden--"

"Curse who, Zoe?" A voice suddenly made her back straighten quickly placing the toys back. "You not be cursing me now are you?"

She glanced to see a humoured man looking down at her and the toys. "Of course not, Captain." She answered looking away.

"Good." Captain Mal Reynolds grinned picking up the stegosaurus. "Because, I wouldn't want to --" He cleared his throat. "Curse you for your sudden but inevitable betrayal." He finished the dinosaur line she had started.

Zoe looked at her lap trying not to laugh along with the captain. When she looked back up, a gray speck in the distance caught her eye. Suddenly, the firefly rocked. Something was grating against the hull of the ship.

"What was that?" He asked bewildered.

"I think it came from there, sir." Zoe replied pointing at the growing gray speck while giving the pilot's seat to him. It was all business now.

She watched as he tried to search the on board computers for some answers but the answer confused them even more. "It's Alliance?" Zoe was taken by surprise. The computer identified the ship was one of the Alliance's but it didn't have any markings that they knew of. The computer couldn't even identify the model. The fact was, the pair had never seen an Alliance ship like this before.

"Is that a ship?" A curious girl asked behind her. "Never seen that before. Is it Alliance?" She questioned. A smile broke upon her face. "Is it new? Can we check it out?" She added excitedly.

Zoe eyed the girl carefully. "We don't know make or model, Kaylee." She stated plainly.

The mechanic just shrugged coyly. "Aw hell, it ain't like she's going anywhere. She's dead on the water." She pointed at the ship. "See there? Starboard side engine is missing-- completely ruined. Betcha hull's breached, poor baby."

"Figure that's what we went over." Mal sighed. "Zoe, tell Jayne we're going to scavenge an Alliance ship." He decided grinning from ear to ear. "Might be something there we could sell."

-- -- -

Dizzy Flores winced at the bright light that filtered from the storage bay. She moved to touch the hands of her friends beside her alerting them that someone had found them. Her smile faded when she saw the figures that emerged. She didn't recognize the uniform of the men that came in. Their suits were bulky with padding and layers of rubber like they were haphazardly sewn together. She couldn't believe it actually worked.

It didn't matter. SICON or not, it was a miracle that someone had been able to find them before the power in their suits drained. Even when they adjusted their power suits to use as little energy as possible, there was always a chance that nobody would find them-- that they were just delaying the inevitable.

"Roughnecks." She heard Rico whisper over the comm.

Three men came in. One slightly smaller than the other two. She couldn't hear what they were saying but they paused in the middle of the aisle that ran between the benches where two rows of troopers sat still. Waiting. The largest one decided to lower himself to check the stone- like Max Brutto across her. The man's hand tilted Brutto's head back.

"Ho!" Everybody answered loudly coming to life just as Brutto's restraint came swinging upwards hitting the man's jaw squarely. He stumbled backwards. Dizzy pushed him back to the center where his friends had their guns drawn aiming at every trooper that had their morita at the ready. They were outnumbered easily.

"Carmen, Higgins, Brutto. Take away their weapons." Rico ordered slowly moving forward himself to make sure the person he had infront of him felt that the morita's nozzle was right against his back. A threat not to do anything funny. Dizzy watched the three collect the guns quickly.

"Doc, Gossard. Escort them out to their ship first." Doc and Goss pushed the three to the storage hold. The Roughnecks carefully filed out following their lead with weapons ready. And within a few minutes, Dizzy found herself awestruck and confused in their prisoner's ship.

-- -- - -

Inara Serra had seen many things in her life as a companion but she's never seen Alliance officers like these before. She stood in line with Kaylee and Simon with a gun on hand in the bay just like Mal had told Kaylee to do. River was half hidden behind Simon peering at the soldiers that had taken the captain, Zoe and Jayne hostage. As the three came back followed by the nine in form fitting military like suits she couldn't identify, she had exchanged shocked expressions with the two more soft spoken crew members.

"We're humped." Kaylee mumbled.

The companion shook her head. Sometimes, she wished that Mal would just think things through.

Slowly, she watched everyone take their helmets off. But the soldiers still had their dangerous looking rifles aimed at all of them. Inara knew why Mal hadn't done anything yet. They were sorely outnumbered by these Alliance men. She knew that if there's one thing Mal was concerned about, it was protecting his crew.

But it helped knowing that his life was in danger too.

"Houzi de..."Mal let his curse trail as a nozzle nudged him forward. "Don't push me around in my own ship, gorram it." He exclaimed in frustration. From where she stood, Inara noticed something peculiar. One of the soldiers, a dark haired girl, tilted her head to one side ever so slightly.

"Lost." River murmured behind her brother.

"Tell your people to put their guns down." The young man holding the rifle to the captain said calmly.

"You folks put your guns down!" Mal rolled his eyes in anger.

"Look, we're not looking for trouble here. I didn't even know civilians are allowed to fly in space. We're just--" the man continued.

"Sure." The captain cut him off sarcastically. "Wo xiangxin ni."

"We just need to contact the Valley Forge or anyone in SICON so they can get us out of here." The man finished with a small nod.

"Son, I have no idea what you just said." Mal huffed.

The man groaned in dismay. "Then just tell them to put the weapons down so we can talk." He suggested impatience starting to mount in his voice.

There was a moment of silence before the captain conceded. "Put 'em down." He grumbled reluctantly.

"But Captain, we can't have Alliance...." Simon started to argue.

"You want to take them? Go right ahead." Mal said with a cheeky shrug.

Inara couldn't help but be fascinated with the new comers. "Roughnecks, stand down." was all the leader had to say for all the other eight to silently and efficiently store their weapons behind them. It was a kind of precision she had never seen even on the core planets. If it wasn't clear to anybody else, it was to her. They weren't dealing with people from the Alliance. They were something else entirely.

"Great." The man said. The relief on his face was eminent. "I'm Lt. Johnny Rico of the Strategically Integrated--" He started. But when Mal turned to face him, he also had a fist ready to hit this lieutenant hard and fast. But this man named Johnny Rico was faster. Not only had he dodged the captain's surprise assault, but he had also thrown him over his shoulder and had him pinned to the ground with a handgun to his head before anybody else could move to help him. Not that Zoe or Jayne or any of them could. The other eight had already retrieved their weapons.

"Oh Mal..." She moaned disapprovingly.

"Wow." Kaylee marveled at the scene beside her. "I ain't seen moves like that-- ever."

"Are they even... human?" Simon slowly made his way to them with River in tow.

"We're definitely humped." The mechanic said.

"Let's try this again." The newcomer sighed. "I'm Lt. Johnny Rico of the Strategically Integrated Coalition of Nations. SICON for short. Please don't try that again." He stowed the hand gun on his pack and let the captain go. The soldiers relaxed albeit more unsure this time.

"We ain't ever heard of no SICON." Jayne glared at soldiers as menacingly as he could. The rounder on nearest him took a quick step back. "Dong ma?" He growled.

"Wha- what?How? SICON controls the whole known world?" The soldier asked Jayne whipping out some sort of device. "And what's a dong ma?"

Zoe crossed her arms looking equally bewildered. "Not this one, boy" She replied facing her superior with arched eyebrows. "Captain?" She called out seemingly exasperated by the whole event.

"Like Jayne said." He faced the smaller leader. "Never heard of 'em."

Inara watched their faces fall one by one as their strict discipline melted away. Two, a red head girl and a very pale boy moved towards their leader and they began quietly talking. One girl, the same girl that showed a reaction just a little while back, stood stayed in her place looking like she found something was very interesting on the ceiling. However, several of them looked to the only lady in a black suit.

"Great Ibanez, you flew us in to an alternate universe." One of the smaller well built men said wryly.

"You'd rather be space dust, Brutto?" The girl defended herself.

"Look, maybe Goss can find some parts in this heap and get the comm link fixed so we can hail fleet." The darker man suggested.

The man beside him looked around shaking his head. "I don't think that's possible." He shrugged. "This ship is... old school."

"Hey!" Kaylee suddenly erupted. "Serenity's special."

"Besides," the red head girl crossed her arms. "What do you say? Hello Marlowe? Plasma bug blasted us back to wild wild west." She shrugged.

"Yeah, where are we anyway?" The pale headed boy asked Mal.

Inara smiled watching how the stares of these soldiers made Mal shift uncomfortably. "We just came from Persephone to do a job in Canton?" He offered sounding uncertain. Although she was sure that he was now just humouring the confused people infront of him now that they didn't seem to be interested in doing anything else except getting things in order. River was right. They just really seemed lost.

"Where?!" The boy beside Jayne reacted first.

"Okay okay okay." The lieutenant raised one hand to his soldiers while massaging his temples with the other. "Who knows anything about..." Then he sighed when he caught the blank faces staring back at him. "Andy, please tell me you know something." He eyed the raven haired girl looking at every inch of the bay area.

She gave her superior a small sly smile. "I'll do you one better later, L.T." She nodded. "Duibuqi," She bowed slightly to the captain surprising them all with her small gesture of respect. "We need to get ourselves to Ariel if it's possible." She requested

--

some translations :)

houzi de... = monkey's ...

wo xiangxi ni= i believe you

dong ma?= "do you understand" or shortcut "understand?"

duibuqi= i'm sorry/ excuse me