A/N: *sheepish*….so OMG I COULDN'T HELP MYSELF DON'T SHOOT ME!!! *sheepish*
A few little bits before we begin. Again I'm playing with timelines a bit but this is another crossover AU so Artistic License. River is fifteen when taken to the Academy (not fourteen) and eighteen (not sixteen) when rescued by and Simon and also at the opening of this story. Riddick has just left Imam and Jack on New Mecca, (sorry guys no Jack this time or Book for that matter) and is roughly late twenties (anybody have a clue about that by the by?) and as with all of my Riddick stories his eyes are a result of his Furyan nature and not an eye shine, the story he gave Jack was just that, a story.
Oh and YAY! I get to play with Wash and a completely FENG LE River. :D YAY! Sorry thus far everything has been post Miranda. I'm a little excited. :D
Story progression is going to move as in tended, never aired episodes appearing in their proper place with Serenity 1&2 being the opening, instead of the Train Job, also we will be going with the original opening for Serenity since it was the way Joss had wanted to open the series though the people at Fox made him change it up. For the especially observant of you. You'll notice a few of the scenes are reordered or switched around and that's only really because jamming an extra character into a series is hard enough and I had to add a few scenes take away from a couple of others just to help the crew along. Also on a side note expect to encounter some drastically different plotlines on once we get going, Riddick's presence changes a lot, though I am going to try my best to keep the basics of the each episode.
I will be posting this is four updates, all of which are written and will go up one right after the other, I just didn't want to make your eyes bleed with 25,000 words in one update LOL. Final endnote is posted at the conclusion of the episode.
Don't own a thing… Wish I did…but if wishes were horses we'd be eatin' steak.
Six years earlier….
"I can hear something…" Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds pulled himself from a hunger induced haze at the sound of one of his private's voices, eight days, eight Gorram days they had been starvin' and dyin' in this gorram hellhole of a valley. "Anybody else hear it?" Mal managed to raise his head and focus on the sound of oncoming engines in the sky.
"Private…" he croaked, pulling himself up into a sitting position and crawling over the lifeless body of one of his soldiers, "Zoe!" he called out harsher this time, gathering all he could muster from some forgotten part of himself, "Signal flare."
Zoe pulled herself up, barely able to focus on the sounds of their salvation.
"There! Do you see it? They're coming!" The soldier shouter louder, hysterical hope lacing his voice.
"Whose colors?" Zoe asked weakly though a part of her couldn't give a gorram shit, anything to get away from the smells of charred flesh and festering wounds.
"A rescue ship! Sir they came!" The same soldier cried out again near tears.
"Whose colors?" Zoe demanded again as Mal helped her to her feet.
"Don't matter none. One or t'other…ain't no difference…" Mal said, his voice laced with defeated acceptance. "Both of you pass the word, sees whose still with us." He ordered to two of his men as he and Zoe stumbled.
"Are those really med ships? Are we really gettin' out?" Zoe asked desperation in her tone.
"We are," Mal reassured her, though his own voice shook.
"God," Mal looked disgusted as he struck the flare, "whose colors he flying?"
Eight months ago…
"Gonna be a lotta questions when we get picked up, might even be a merc ship, so what the hell do we tell 'em 'bout you?"
Richard B. Riddick turned his gaze from the vast expanse of space to the dirty frightened little girl in the co pilot's chair beside him. Just some dumb fuckin' stow away kid he couldn't leave behind to die, somebody that didn't think he was complete shit. "Tell 'em Riddick's dead, he died somewhere back on that planet."
Outer White Sun System
"Vault's sealed, I'm gonna boil it," Mal spoke through his comm, drifting upside down, "Jayne, give me the sticky."
Jayne slowly drifted closer handing over a gel gun, while Zoe held her breath giving as close to a representation of a nod that was possible in a full EVA suit.
Mal gave a vague nod of his own as he discarded the applicator from the gun and hit a small button on the side, the trio pulled back from the hatch, watching as the gel turned acidic, and a tense breath later the locking mechanism blew from the vault hatch.
"Okay we get the goods, we're back on the ship, no worries." Mal ordered.
Safely inside the ship on the bridge, Wash, Serenity's pilot, gave a quick check to the monitors, "Everything looks good here," he told them, before turning back to the more important matter at hand.
"Yes, yes, this is a fertile land, and will thrive." The blue Stegosaurus told the red plastic T-Rex, "We will rule over this land and call it," Wash paused, he hadn't really thought that whole thing through, "This Land!" He called out in a stroke of brilliancy.
"I think we should call it… You're grave!" The T-Rex laughed manically as it charged for the Stegosaurus.
"Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!" The Stegosaurus cried.
"HA-ha! Mine is an evil laugh! Now Die!" The T-Rex laughed as their battle began.
A sudden flashing red light on the console brought Wash back to the bridge, he stop battling and eyed the radar, sweeping away another herd of dinosaurs to be able to see it better he swore, "Oh motherless son of a bitch."
Back outside the derelict ship Zoe allowed herself a small smile, "We got full pressure, goods must be intact."
"Assuming they're still there," Mal remarked with a grunt as he slid his arm inside the newly blown hole and yanked, opening the hatch from the inside. Jayne pushed past to lean in with a flashlight and it was Mal's turn to smile as Jayne's light struck on three large sized crates. "Looks good."
His smile however was short lived as Wash's voice broke out over all three pairs of headsets, "We got incoming! Alliance cruiser bearing down right on us!"
"Ta ma de! (fuck me blind)" Mal swore, "Have they spotted us?"
"I can't tell…"
"Have they hailed us?" Mal demanded.
"If they're here for the salvage we're humped." Jayne pointed out the obvious.
"They catch us at all we're humped. Thievin' ain't exactly…" Zoe started to snap, but Jayne cut her off.
"I don't like this Mal."
"Bi zui (shut up)! Wash shut it down, everything but the air," Mal ordered.
"Gotcha Cap' shuttin' down." Wash called back over the comms as he started frantically hitting switches. "Kaylee!" He yelled through the onboard intercom, to the ship's mechanic, "Go to black out, we're bein' buzzed."
"Shi a (Yes, Affirmative), goin' dark." She answered back, hitting every switch and lever she could, resorting to climbing on top of the engine block to pull the last lever and the engine room went dark. "Okay," she said to no one in particular, as she looked hopelessly around the room she could see absolutely nothing in, "now I can't get down."
Outside in the endless black Mal, Zoe and Jayne traded nervous glances, "Where's the crybaby Wash?" Mal whispered.
"Right where we left her, you want her to cry?" Came back over his headset.
"Not yet. They slowin' down?" He asked.
"That's a neg, don't look like their interested in us, we should be eatin' wake in another minute or two."
"All right, they do a heat probe you holler."
"Shi a (Yes Affirmative)."
Mal exchanged a look with his first mate and gun hand, the trio all holding in their breath, afraid to move an inch as the massive vertical Alliance ship came into view. Huge, sleek, antiseptic, the name I.A.V. Dortmunder in AngloSino script emblazed down one of its vertical columns. Mal snorted, even through the faceplate his disgust was more than evident, a sentiment shared by the whole of his crew, as they silently waited for the pretentiously massive ship to drift passed. A collective sigh of relief being released as the ship cleared the wreck.
"Looks like we're clear…" Wash's words were suddenly stunted by another flashing alarm, "Ai ya, huai le! (Shit on my head), Captain we're humped! They got a heat signature off us! Officially time to panic!"
"Fire it up Wash!" Mal ordered, "We move these in double time," he snapped to Jayne and Zoe, which was all the encouragement they needed as each one grabbed a case and made a break for Serenity's air lock.
"Kaylee!" Wash shouted over the comm, "Fire it up!"
"I'm all over it!" she yelled back, and muttering to herself as she groped blindly in the dark, "Just gotta find the gorram… waahhh!"She yelped, as her fingers found and pulled the lever but the process of flipping it sent her toppling from her precarious perch, a stream of Mandarin poured out from her lips as she scrambled back to her feet and finished running through the engine start up sequence.
Jayne was the last to clear the airlock, slamming down on the door controls as he passed through. The moment they were sealed in Mal hit another, gravity kicking in; they landed on the ground crates clattering on the grating. "Wash, we're in! Go!" He ordered through the comm.
"Let's moon 'em," Jayne smirked.
"Cry baby cry." Mal ordered.
"Make your mother sigh," Wash joked hitting the switch to trigger the decoy, a small device drifting in the black some thirteen clicks away that would signal a distress call from a passenger ship. "Hang on travelers," Wash said through the comms as he fired up the engines a flash of plasma spewing in the face of the cruiser as Serenity made a break for it. A few tense minutes past before Wash finally announced over the comm, "We look shiny Cap. They are not; repeat they are not coming about."
"That was close." Zoe said looking up from one of the crates.
"Any one you walk away from right? Long as these crates ain't empty I call it a win." Jayne smirked lugging a crate further into the hold.
"Right," Mal spoke quietly, "we win."
The crew gathered around the freshly plucked cargo and watched as Jayne jimmied one of the crates opened with a crowbar, popping the lid he took a step back as Mal leaned in to pull the top off. "Well that sure enough don't hurt to see," he smirked lifting what looked to be a gold bar up out of the crate but was in fact freeze dried survival rations.
"They're awfully pretty," Kaylee remarked leaning around Jayne to peek at the cargo.
Wash let out a whistle, "I'd say it was worth the risk."
"Yeah, you did some pretty risky sittin' back there," Jayne snorted.
"That's right of course, 'cause they wouldn't arrest me iffin' we got boarded, I'm just the pilot. I can always say I was flyin' the ship by accident." He snapped back.
"Bi zui (shut up)!" Mal snapped harshly as he flipped the bar over, a sick feeling settling in his stomach as he saw the Alliance marking on the back. Quickly he shoved the bar back into the crate and yanked the top back on.
"Problem sir?" Zoe asked an eyebrow raised.
Mal hesitated trying to swallow back his uneasiness, grateful none of the crew had seen the marking, "Couldn't say, but we best be rid of these 'fore we run into another Alliance patrol."
"What they doin' this far out anyhow?" Jayne complained.
"Shining the light of civilization of course," Kaylee piped in.
"Don't do us any good."
"Well that's 'cause we're uncivilized," she giggled.
"How long 'til we reach Persephone?" Mal pushed himself back up and turned his attention to his pilot.
"Three or four hours," Wash answered.
"Can we shave that?" he asked running a hand through his unruly brown hair.
Wash looked down at his toes, running a few numbers through his head, "We're down to the wire on fuel cells as it is. We run hot, might not even make it."
"Play it as close as you can, this catch is burnin' a hole in my ship."
"You think that cruiser coulda Id'ed us?" Zoe asked concerned.
"Gotta hope not. Contact Badger, tell 'im the jobs done. Don't go to mentionin' the cruiser, keep it simple like."
"Sir, we sure there's nothing wrong with the cargo?" Zoe pressed, she'd been with the Captain for a long time and she knew when somethin' wasn't sittin' right with him, knew his looks and his tones, and right now somethin' was definitely up.
"Its fine," Mal said using his 'don't ask questions, just get it done', captainy tone, "I just wanna get paid. Kaylee, Jayne let's get them crates stowed. I don't want any tourists stumbling over them."
"We takin' on passengers Cap?" Kaylee asked hopefully.
"That's the notion. We could use a little respectability headin' to Boros. Not to mention the money."
"Pain in the ass…" Jayne gripped as he shoved a crate into one of the secret compartments in the hold.
"No it's shiny! I love meetin' new people, they all got stories." Kaylee defended cheerfully.
"Captain, could you please stop her from bein' so gorram cheerful?" Jayne rolled his eyes.
"I don't believe there is a power in the 'verse that could stop Kaylee from being cheerful." He smiled up at her as he hefted one of the crates. "Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and drop her in one of the storage holds for a month."
Kaylee giggled grinning as she stood on her tiptoes and pecked the captain on his cheek, "I love my Captain!" She smiled before running off back to the engine room to check on her girl.
Wash followed his wife up the ladder and into the bridge only half listening to what she was saying, more intent on enjoying the view.
"All's I'm sayin' is somethin's not right baby."
"Honey, we're crooks. If everything was right, we'd be in jail." He joked back.
"It's just the Captain's so tense."
"Of course he's tense, he's awake." He smirked kissing her, "Look, we drop the goods on Persephone, fly away rich and prosperous, then when we get to Boros, we take a couple of days shore leave." He moved in closer wrapping his arms around her, "You know the kinda place that brings food to your room, ya know, food with actual food in it."
"Mmm, wouldn't mind a real bath." She smiled against his lips, "If the captain says it's all right."
Wash froze, pulling his face away from hers and stepping back, "What if we just told Mal?"
"He's the captain."
"Right," Wash rolled his eyes and flopped back into his chair, "And I'm just the husband."
"Look I'll ask him okay?" Zoe answered him, more than a little tired of this same old conversation.
"Don't forget to call him 'sir' he likes that."
"Who likes what?" Mal asked hauling himself up the ladder into the bridge.
"Nothing sir." Zoe covered, instinctively her manner changing, her posture becoming military.
"After you talk to Badger, see if you can raise the Ambassador. Let her know we're out of Persephone fast. She's got business pendin' she'd best squeeze it dry and send it off. We ain't waitin'."
"I'm sure the Ambassador will appreciate your colorful phrasing." Wash snorted.
"Inara knows our timetable, I'm sure she will be checkin' in on her own." Zoe answered, once more playing peacekeeper.
"Well if she don't, rouse her, you know how she gets wrapped up in her work." Mal responded, with just a twinge of bitterness in his voice.
"Do you really have to leave?" The young man looked up from his cup of tea, "I mean I, my father is very influential, we could, well I could, arrange for you to be…"
Inara stopped him with a gentle touch on his arm, smiling a knowing smile with only a hint of sadness around the edges.
"It was very good." the man finished.
"I enjoyed our time very much," She told him rising to escort him to the door of her shuttle.
"Your clock is probably rigged to cheat us of our fun," he tried to joke but immediately realized his error as the smile quickly vanished from Inara's face, rather than commit further offense he merely left, the shuttle door hissing closed behind him.
The Eavesdown docks drew to a slow boil beneath the summer sun, in contradiction to the elegant edges and refined lines of the city in the distance, the docks were a chaotic hodgepodge of races and languages shaded beneath faded tarps and patched together ships, the distinct smell of sweat and engine grease was heavy in every breath one took. Under the boiling heat it was not unlikely for trade to quickly turn to theft, and from theft to outright honest violence; in short it was the ideal place for the crew aboard the Serenity to do business.
Excepting today the captain of Serenity, had an itch. It had started when the Alliance Cruiser had appeared out of gorram nowhere in the black, travelled up his spine when he realized the goods they had lifted had been marked Alliance goods, and settled too comfortably for his liking directly behind his ear just as Wash had settled his boat on solid ground. Itch like the one he had didn't usually go away until cashy money was in hand, and the ship was blowin' clean through atmo, somehow he got the feelin' it wasn't gonna be so simple to get rid of this particular itch.
"This shouldn't take long Kaylee, put us down for departure in about three hours," he said to her, as the crew headed down the airlock ramp.
Kaylee punched in their departure time into the computerized place card in front of their docking space. "Sure would like to find a brand new compression coil for the steamer," she hinted with just the smallest twinge of actual hope mixed with just a dash deadly warning.
"And I would like to be the King of all Londinum and wear a shiny hat," he snapped back sarcastically, "Just find us some passengers. Them that can pay, all right?"
"Compression coil busts we're drifting." Kaylee warned again crossing her arms and attempting to make a stand for her girl's sake.
"Best not bust then." Mal answered over his shoulder as he turned, "Zoe, Jayne, let's move! "Wash get her fueled up and any supplies we're low on, wanna get this done and get gone. Got money to be made people."
"Zoe!" Wash called out from behind the wheel of an ATV "Zhen ta ma yao ming zhu yi (watch your back)"
"We will baby," she smiled at him and turned to catch up with her captain.
He watched her go, not turning away until she disappeared completely from his view, a sight he should have been accustomed to by now, but it never got any easier.
"They'll be shiny Wash," Kaylee smiled at him setting up her rickety folding chair, "back in the black 'fore you know it."
"Hopefully with some weight in our pockets." He snorted.
"What's the worst that could happen?" She asked plopping into her chair and spinning a tattered umbrella.
"You do crew on Serenity right?" He cocked his eyebrow at her.
"Ain't been chased outta Eavesdown yet," she shrugged.
"It's the ease that you say yet, which worries me."
Riddick pulled his goggles down over his eyes before opening the shutters of his dingy motel room, running a hand across his freshly shaven head he leaned both arms against the ledge, his gaze drifting towards the docks. It had been five months since he left Jack and the Holy Man on New Mecca, kid would probably hate him forever, he'd left at night without even a note, just a shiv he'd slipped under her pillow so she'd know he'd been there. He snorted to himself. What the fuck did she expect some tearful farewell at a space port? And it wasn't like he had dumped them the moment they touched ground, he'd stuck it out for a couple of months, tried the whole rejoining the human race thing, playin' watchdog to a teenage girl and a Holy Man just wasn't the kinda shit he was cut out for, towards the end he had to stop himself from imagining what it would be like to slit the Holy Man's throat, just to keep him from spoutin' out any more of that self righteous redemption crap. Jack woulda been really pissed then.
He coulda taken her with him, he didn't mind her so much, on the rare occasions she was able to keep her fuckin' mouth shut, kid could be pleasant company. A low growl reverberated in his chest, loneliness, that's what Carolyn had made him remember, that's why he'd try to stick it out. Wasn't no doubt about it somethin' in him had changed back on T2 after the lights went out, and he fuckin' hated it. Being alone never bothered him before, he'd actually preferred it, now, now he spent his days wonderin' if Jack would come along if he went back for her, and a fourteen year old girl had no business travelin' the black with a murderer.
A murderer. That's all he was. When he was gone, when some merc finally got the lucky shot in or he managed to live long enough to get old and slow, wasn't a single body in the 'verse that would cry over him, 'cept mayhap Jack, iffin' she didn't think he wasn't the biggest prick bastard in the 'verse right now that was.
Riddick inhaled the stench that was Eavesdown deeply, dried blood, moldy plaster, engine fumes, desperation. Jack didn't belong here, and in truth totin' a kid around the 'verse really didn't seem all that appealing anyway. She'd probably get herself shot and then he'd really feel like hun dan (bastard). Carolyn would have been better company, but she had to go and get herself dead. The steady growl that had been building in his chest rumbled past his lips. What the fuck was wrong with him? Why the hell was he even thinkin' on this shit? He was just getting antsy that's all, been dirt side too long. Fuck it, he thought to himself, as his gaze rested on the rows of ships, through his eyes they appeared bright white from the reflection of the sunlight, it was time to kick on.
Zoe repressed the urge to wrinkle her nose as they made their way down through the tunnels of what was once, though the smell hadn't quite given up yet, an underground sewer. The occupants of said sewer didn't seemed to mind it however, and tended to get tetchy over such insinuations so Zoe kept her face stoic and her trap shut. Jayne on the other hand was less then tactful in such situations.
"Smells like crap on a barbeque down here Mal, let's get done and get out."
The burlier of the two guards which had escorted them down growled low in his throat.
Mal didn't bother shootin' Jayne a look, havin' learned awhile back it usually didn't do much good, 'cause Jayne never seem to translate it how he should. 'Shut the gorram hell up' was usually read as, 'by all means Jayne please continue on this destructive line of conversation, which will most likely wind up gettin' us all shot.'
"Let me see your teeth," it was Mal's turn to repress his shudder, though the smell had nothing to do with it, it was more like Badger's voice had a tendency to grate down his spine.
The trio watched as the squat sweaty man in a three piece wooly suit and a tank with a crushed bowler hat inspected the teeth and smile of a dirty young woman. Jayne was a bit smarter than most gave him credit for and he refrained from remarking on how he really didn't see how Badger had any right to be the judge of a body's teeth. Mainly 'cause he wanted to be paid.
"Good, she'll do." Badger decided before acknowledging the crew of Serenity, his tone and manner abruptly turning harsher, "You're late." He snapped as he walked behind his desk.
"You're lying." Mal retorted.
The sudden shift in the room was palpable as Badger turned, "What did you just say to me?"
"You're well aware we landed two hours 'fore we planned to, with all the goods you sent us after intact and ready to roll. So your decision to get tetchy and say we're late means you're lookin' to put us on the defensive right up front. Which means somethin's gone wrong, and it didn't go wrong on our end so why don't we start with you tellin' us what's up?" Mal answered, cool accusation in his voice, while the itch which had settled behind his ear moved like fire to his fingertips.
Beside him, both Zoe and Jayne stood a little taller, acutely aware of the number of men in the room, six with Badger, who didn't look armed, but the other five sure as hell were. Jayne mentally swore wishin' to hell he had brought Vera, mental note, when Mal says you don't need her, bring 'er, he told himself.
"You're later than I'd like." Badge amended.
"Well I'm sorry to hear that." Though Mal didn't appear to be truly apologetic in the least.
Badger held up a piece of digital paper, an Alliance security bulletin. "If you'd gotten hear sooner, you might've beaten the bulletin that a rogue vessel, classification Firefly, was spotted doin' an illegal salvage on a derelict transport." He spat out, slamming the paper back down on his desk.
Mal shrugged, "Didn't ID us, don't lead to you." The wheels in his head spinning, there was somethin' else goin' on that he was missin'.
Badger took his time sliding into his chair, "No, it doesn't, but the government stamp on every molecule of the cargo just maybe might."
Zoe pointedly turned her glare on her captain; her gut had told her this job was south from the get go.
"Oh, you noticed." Badger continued at Mal's hesitation, "You were gonna hand over imprinted goods and just let me twist then, is that the case?"
"We didn't pick the cargo," Mal shot back, his temper flaring.
"And I didn't flash my gorram ass at the law! Deal's off!" Badger yelled.
"That ain't fair," Zoe's voice was solid, "we did the job we get paid."
"Crime and politics little girl, the situation is always fluid." He waved her off.
"Only fluid I see here is the pile of piss refusin' to pay us our wage." Jayne growled out, his fingers itchin' somethin' fierce he went for his gun.
Every gun in the room raised in reaction, and this time Mal did shoot Jayne a glare, one he blessedly understood for what it was, 'Raise that gorram gun and I'll shoot you myself.' "Don't have to go this way." He told Badger, his voice still cool and even, "You know you can still unload those goods. Sos I can't help but thinking there's somethin' else at work here."
"I don't like you." Badger answered plainly.
"Ain't askin' you to like…"
Mal didn't have a chance to finish as Badger cut him off, "What were you in the war Mal,?" He asked eyeing him, "A Sergeant?" He snickered, "Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds, Balls and Bayonet Brigade, big tough veteran, now you got yourself a ship, and you're a captain!" He paused to lean in closer, "Only I think you're still a Sergeant, see. Still a soldier, a man of honor in a den of thieves." He paused his voice raising when he spoke next, "Well it's my gorram den, and I don't like the way you look down on me. I'm above you," he sneered, "better than. I'm a businessman, yeah? Roots in the community." He straightened his dirty lapels, "You're just a scavenger, you're a bagman Mal, you come and go at my beck and I say you go. Get out." He turned his back on the crew of Serenity.
Mal raised his hands up, "Maybe I'm not a fancy gentleman like you with your… very fine hat… but I do business," his face hardened, "We're here for business."
"Try one of the border planets, they're more desperate out there, course they might kill you," he shrugged, "but you stay here and I just know the Alliance will track you down, got that feelin' ya see?"
There was a long beat of silence before Mal spoke again, the choice of walkin' away from a fight he was more than itchin' for felt like a physical blow as he forced his next words out from between gritted teeth as he turned to walk away, "Wheel never stops turnin' Badger."
"That only matters to the people on the Rim," he scoffed back.
Riddick made his way through the shipping crowd on the docks, coming to a stop in front of the destination board, he dropped one of his duffels to the ground while he eyed the listing of ships, weren't many that weren't checkin' papers and that was gonna be a problem.
"Lookin' for a ship you ren (friend)?"
Riddick resisted the urge to snarl at the idiot who'd placed a hand on his shoulder, "Ain't your friend," he rumbled instead, shaking off the man's hand.
"Not yet we ain't," he smirked, clapping him on his back, undeterred, "need safe passage? Got a good ship here, best ship in the 'verse, The Brutus is. What's your destination, you ren? We're hittin' the outer rims."
Riddick took a quick look up at the ship the ass was hocking, and shook his head, "Ain't interested," he answered and reshouldering his duffel he moved to walk away. When the gorram hun dan (bastard) reached out to grab his shoulder again, Riddick did growl, and he spun catching the fucker's wrist, "I will break your gorram wrist iffin' you touch me one more goddamn time. Go. Away."
"Sure thing Lao ban (Boss)," he stuttered out as Riddick released him, deciding to try his luck with a dark skinned preacher instead, they didn't tend toward violence.
Riddick eyed the last row of ships on the docks critically, half of 'em didn't look like they could break atmo without blowin' a coil and the ones that did we're checkin' papers. Riddick growled low, annoyed and hot as hell, the sun practically blinding him even through his darkened goggles. His eyes finally landed on a mid bulk transport class half way down. Firefly class, smuggler's choice, lotta nooks and crannies to stow your less than legit cargo, throw some payin' customers on and you got yourself a decent cover. Ship like that didn't ask questions unlessin' you did and tended to avoid the law and Alliance checkpoints, something he was definitely of the same mind on, just cause he could handle trouble didn't mean he wanted to go lookin' for it. Adjusting one of his duffels he headed over for a closer look at the ship.
"You're comin' with us," a bubbly female voice piped out from behind a tattered Chinese umbrella.
Riddick couldn't help but smirk, "Am I now?"
"You like ships, you're not even lookin' at the destinations. What you care about is the ships, and mine's the nicest," she twirled her umbrella smiling.
He took a moment to give the ship a look over, "Don't look like much."
"Oh she'll surprise you. You ever fly in a Firefly?" Kaylee asked sweetly.
"Not an aught three, didn't have the extenders, tended to shake." He answered jerking his head up toward the portside.
"You wanna shake?" Kaylee raised an eyebrow, and jerked her chin to the left, "Sail the Paragon there, you'll barf 'fore you break atmo."
He followed her gaze, and shook his head, "Gustler engines always get a mite twitchy, ain't lookin' to drop outta the black," he smirked, "Aught three still use the trace compression block?"
"'Til theys make somethin' better," Kaylee answered eyeing the man a bit more critically, the goggles weren't a surprise it was gorram bright as hell out, just two black duffels at his feet, maybe a merc? "Sos how come you don't care where you're goin'?" She asked curiously pressing for information without outright demanding it.
"Just got the itch to go, don't overly matter much where, just some where's else. Some men get a little funny with solid ground under their feet too long, I like the black, ain't nothin' to crowd a man up there." Riddick answered honestly, almost surprised at himself.
Kaylee smiled brighter and nodded her head in approval, "Sos you be wantin' that ride than?"
"Got private bunks?"
"Long as you got the coin," Kaylee smirked, "Cap, be back in less than an hour, that all you got?" She asked gesturing to the duffels at his feet.
"All I need."
"Well then," Kaylee smiled broadly, "Welcome aboard Serenity, Mr.?"
"Richards, Rick Richards." He smirked.
"Parents weren't really all that creative were they?" She blurted out.
Riddick shrugged still smirking as he shouldered his gear, "Can't choose our own."
"Suppose not," Kaylee shrugged back.
"Explain to me Mal, whys we didn't leave that sonofabitch in a pool of his own blood." Jayne snapped as they made their way back to the ship empty handed.
"We'd be dead, can't get paid if we're dead," he answered brushing off Jayne's tone.
"Can't get paid iffin' ya crawl away like a little bitty bug neither," he snorted, "I got a share of this job and ten percent of nuthin', is, wait let me do the math, is still nuthin'."
"So we try to find a buyer on Boros." Zoe cut in before the two men started threatening to cut on each other.
"Boros is too big, crawlin' with the ruttin' Alliance." Mal shook off her suggestion, "They could be there just sittin' and waitin' on us."
"You really think Badger will sell us out to the Feds?" She asked.
"If he hasn't already," Mal answered through the side of his mouth as they passed a pair of security officers on the corner.
"Alliance catches us with government goods we'll lose the ship." Zoe said.
"That ain't gonna happen." Mal's face went hard.
"Sir, we could just dump the cargo."
"No ruttin' way," Jayne cut in, "we ain't had a job in weeks, I didn't sign on with this crew to take in the sights, we need coin."
"Jayne," Mal warned as he stopped to look at him, "Your mouth is talkin', may wanna look to that."
"Oh I'm ready to stop talkin Mal." Jayne growled, still hyped from the almost shoot out they'd just walked away from.
"You're right though," Mal admitted startling Jayne out of his anger, "last of the jobs we had were weak tea, ain't got nothin saved and takin' on passengers won't help near enough. We don't get paid for this we won't have enough to fuel the ship, let alone keep her in repair. She'll be dead in the water."
"So we do like Badger says and try the border planets?" Zoe asked.
"Thinkin' Whitefall, maybe we talk to Patience." Mal said quietly.
"Sir, we don't wanna deal with Patience."
"Why not?" Mal shrugged not seeing the issue.
"Sir, she shot you," Zoe said bluntly, in case he had forgotten, which she was really hoping he had, otherwise it meant that he was willingly going back to deal with someone who tried to kill him, things couldn't really be that bad.
"Well yeah she did a bit." Mal admitted causally.
"So we find somebody else," Zoe told him firmly, not wanting to admit that apparently things were really that bad.
"Who?" Mal challenged.
"He can't afford it." Mal scoffed.
"He wouldn't touch it. Want me to go through the list? Capshaws are brain blown, Rubix's dead."
"He's dead?" Zoe interrupted turning to look at him.
"Town got hit by Reavers, burned it right down."
"I ain't goin' nowhere near Reaver territory, them people ain't right." Jayne shot out, iffin' there was one thing in the 'verse that Jayne Cobb was 'fraid of it was Reavers, not that'd he'd admit it to anyone o'course.
"Whitefall is the safest and the closest," Mal insisted again, "it's been a long time since Patience shot me and that was a perfectly legitimate conflict of interest. I got no grudge. She owns half that damn moon now, she can afford what we got and she might just need it."
"Still don't think the old lady's the way," Zoe shook her head as they stepped back onto Serenity's ramp.
"I'm not sayin' it won't be tricky, but we got no gorram choice, just gotta keep our heads down, do the job and pray there ain't no more surprises." Mal lowered his voice eyeing a prissy looking core boy overseeing the loading of one of his crates.
"Mal, this is Simon," Kaylee chirped introductions, "Simon this is our captain."
"Captain Reynolds," the core boy offered curtly as they sized each other up.
"Welcome aboard," he matched Simon's curtness with a nod and a dismissal, "This all we got Kaylee?"
"Three in total Cap, that over there is Mr. Dobson," she pointed to a man around the captain's age fumbling with a suitcase near the center of the hold, "and there's Mr. Richards," she pointed to a larger man digging through one of his duffels, Mal didn't miss the blade strapped to the man's calf nor the one on his opposite thigh, and he especially didn't miss the modified handgun on his other thigh, but wasn't it unusual of a drifter and he had other things at the front of his mind.
"Al'right them, get 'em loaded in." He told her nodding his head and turning to catch up with Zoe who was already aboard, leaning against the stairway rail, and eyeing with more than a little trepidation the close proximity of one of the passengers to one of the stash holds.
"Now we have a boat full of citizens right on top of our stolen cargo, that's a fun mix." She told him as he approached.
Mal didn't miss her sarcasm, "Ain't no way in the 'verse they could find that compartment," he paused as one of said citizens passed by him, "even if they were lookin' for it."
"Why not?" She challenged.
"'Cause." Mal looked at her.
"Oh yeah, this is gonna go great." She half snorted.
"If anyone gets nosey ya know, just shoot 'em." He offered turning to head up the stairs.
"Shoot 'em?" She asked smirking.
"Politely," Mal corrected over his shoulder.
Zoe merely shook her head as she walked away, seeing more than a thousand ways their current plan could go to gorram hell and nearly everyone of them ending with Mal gettin' shot again.
Not but fifteen feet away from who Riddick judged to be the Captain and his first mate, he smirked to himself having heard the whole of the conversation. Compartments weren't as concealed as they thought, at least not to him anyways, he counted as least five in the bay so far and he hadn't even had a chance to look proper. The conversation itself was promisin' iffin' the crew was hauling' stolen cargo meant they'd be takin' a wide berth 'round any security checkpoints.
The other two passengers who had boarded with him however gave him an itch. The core boy was looking mighty twitchy, one eye on the large crate they'd loaded with him at all times, and Riddick had a pretty good idea what was in that crate too, having been transported in more than one. It was the kinda cryobox people used when they was tryin' to keep it discreet like, only question was what in the gorram hell was a core boy doin' with a body on ice, riding economy class on a ship he could have bought three of just to keep parked in his yard for the bird's to shit on?
The other one, Dobson, man had one eye on the twitchy boy whenever he thought no one was lookin', wasn't payin' much mind to the crate, just the boy, and Riddick woulda put good money on that bulge near the man's boot bein' a gun. What bothered him the most though was the man's constant fumblin', only did it when he thought people was watchin' 'im, and he hesitated a moment before somethin' would fall or he would trip, that kinda shit was purposeful, that kinda shit meant he was concealin' skill, too bad he was shit at it.
Riddick was actually a bit surprised none of the crew had noticed it yet, further proof they had somethin' else besides haulin' passengers on this mind. Could be all kinds of fun.