A Firefly fanfic
Author's note: This takes place after "Objects in Space", but before the movie. Also, neither Book or Inara have left, so it's still the standard nine. I haven't read "Those Left Behind", so there's none of it taken into account. Actually, there's not much of anything from the comics besides "A Shepard's Tale" in this story. If things in this comic are canonically impossible or wrong, I apologize. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it. I do not own any of the characters or places involved in this work: they all belong to (presumably) Joss Whedon. I know it probably isn't on the level of "Forward" or any of the real quality stories, but I hope it's good.
Nobody quite knew what it was. The place that just about every scientist started with when asked was where it was and how big it was. That part was easy: the formation (to use but one of the phrases that was used to describe it) was sitting in the orbital path of Boros, and it was about the size of a large asteroid. It spewed vast quantities of light, radiation, and energy at a regular basis. The Alliance called it the Font. Nobody called it anything else, because the Alliance had it monitored, guarded, and more-or-less hidden away.
As to what it was, that was a point of contention and at least one brawl. Some said it was a wormhole. Others said it was some sort of point where ambient energy was absorbed and released on a regular basis. Most just said "we don't know", though most used more scientific terms than that.
This story concerns the Font, though only for a little while. After all, stories need something to start them, and for this one, that would be the Font.
Observing the Font, if you weren't doing tests, was one of the more boring jobs in the 'verse. You weren't allowed to look at it, because you'd go blind or worse. Your job on the facility was to keep it running, keep the people on it running, or keep the higher-ups willing to let it keep running. Mostly, though, it was lots of staring at computers until your eyes fell out.
Then, every detector, monitoring device, and alarm focusing on the Font went off at once.
"Doc, what the hell is going on?" said the Alliance overseer of the facility around the Font.
"Well, the base energy levels of the area around the formation, of all sorts, have gone up," said the doctor. The formation has also stopped emitting energy from its main point. However, the energy in the center, in region A, has increased to over six thousand percent of what it was, while the energy in the-"
"Enough with the scientific jargon. Dumb it down for me."
"Well, it's all accumulating into a very small s-"
At that moment, the doctor, the overseer, and everyone working on the facility, as well as the facility itself, was destroyed. The Font had pulsed with an immense amount of radiation, contracted the matter around it, and exploded forth in a great plume of energy and matter.
And as quickly as the event occurred, the energy dissipated, and the Font was no more. All that remained within the radius of the energy were shredded space station bits, some rock, and a single unharmed space craft that wasn't there before.
The ship was moving at an intense speed, but before long, its engine roared, and the ship spewed energy forward and slowed to a stop.
As it so happened, it stopped directly in front of the Alliance cruiser that was monitoring the area. The IAV Kung Lao dwarfed the smaller unknown craft, and currently, the little ship was quite the point of interest.
"Captain, there seems to be a ship sitting in front of us. Only thing that came out of there intact."
"I can see that for myself, Officer Xian," said the captain. "It appears to be manned, as well."
"Looks like…" Officer Xian squinted at a monitor. "Sir, did the Alliance ever refurbish any Firefly-class vessels into Alliance warships?"
"No, why do you ask?"
"Because, that is exactly what it looks like. Standard paint job for a destroyer, plus I can see she's armed."
"Prep the secondary cannons. Tell the fighters to be ready for launch. I'll see what they have to say."
Officer Xian left the bridge as the captain of the IAV Kung Lao hailed the Firefly sitting calmly in front of the cruiser.
"This is Captain Stephen Bloom of the IAV Kung Lao. Please state who you are and what your current situation is."
The video feed took a second to connect. The man being spoken to was dressed in the same Alliance regalia as he was. The only difference was the cross worn around his neck and the medals on his jacket. Cpt. Bloom looked at him and furrowed his brow. Something about this ship is simply unsettling, he thought.
"This is Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the IAV Serenity. We lost radio contact with the rest of the 'verse for a few days after flying a bit too close to some sort of stellar formation." Bloom heard someone grumble offscreen. "Then, everything went all bright, and here we are."
Cpt. Bloom nodded with mild unease. "Your vessel is rather unique. What is its purpose?"
"Purpose?" said Cpt. Reynolds. "It's purpose is to fly me and whoever's on it where we need to go."
"That didn't answer my question. Your vessel has several armaments that I am sure are not standard on a Firefly-class vessel. The legality of such things is questionable, to say the least."
"Oh, well, look me up then. I believe, given my standing and current orders, the modifications I've made are permitted."
Cpt. Bloom gestured for some of the other bridge crew to start an analysis.
"Well, state your current orders, then," said Cpt. Bloom.
"My orders are the transportation of three specific individuals," said Cpt. Reynolds. "Any more would be telling classified information."
"And I am assuming the identities of these individuals are also classified?"
"Yes they are." Cpt. Reynolds smiled, shiny and almost sincere.
"Sir," said one of the officers on the bridge of the IAV Kung Lao, "there is no ID for any Firefly-class vessels in the Alliance fleet, nor any by the name of Serenity, or any record of- no, there is a Captain Malcom Reynolds, but he was only one of the Independents that had surrendered after the Battle of Serenity Valley. He is the captain of a Firefly-class transport ship called Serenity, but it certainly isn't Alliance."
Cpt. Bloom leaned back, crossed his arms, and cocked an eyebrow. "Well?"
"Oh, I was at the Battle of Serenity Valley, alright. I dominated those Browncoats. Led the final push, and I personally executed the last officer of the Independent forces in the valley. That's where I got most of these from." Cpt. Reynolds pointed to the medals on his chest.
"If you're so decorated, then why aren't you on record anywhere?"
"Well… hm. That's certainly odd." Cpt. Reynolds thought for a bit. "Oh! The mission, and the people. Must be completely black ops. If I had to guess, we've been stricken from the records. Or, your records might be off." He shrugged.
"Captain Reynolds," said Cpt. Bloom. "Understand that our vessel is five times the size of yours, ten times as well-armed, and has a contingent of two hundred fighters which could each outmatch your vessel. Now, if you are truly on the record about these individuals, I'd like to be talking to one of them within a minute."
"Captain Bloom, please, I don't-"
"Oh, I feel like if he wants an audience with one of us, he shall have it. Besides, I would like to speak with him myself."
That was a different person aboard the IAV Serenity, and his voice alone rattled Cpt. Bloom. It reminded him of a scalpel, cold, clinical and dangerous.
"As you wish. God be with you, Captain Bloom." Cpt. Reynolds left the image, and was replaced with another man.
"Good day to you, Captain Bloom," said the man. He had the voice he heard earlier, and the appearance to match it. He was gaunt and emotionless. His face had a scar running from under his right eye to the top of his lip. He wore glasses that, for a moment, reflected the light of the computer screens and obscured his eyes. Which Cpt. Bloom would have preferred, honestly, for his eyes were cold, gray, and piercing. He wore what looked like a black lab coat, and blue gloves that were presumably latex.
"Good day. Who are you?"
"I do not feel like I need to tell you that. I am an Operative of the Alliance, and that is all that needs to be known."
"An Operative…" Cpt. Bloom had heard of Operatives; Alliance spooks who could get away with basically everything and anything. Seeing their faces was almost enough to guarantee you being silenced in the near future. On the other hand, Bloom had also heard of certain parties calling themselves Alliance Operatives as a conveniently unverifiable alibi. Regardless, Operatives had to be marked down somewhere, so Cpt. Bloom decided to get his men working on finding out.
"What do you want, then?" asked Cpt. Bloom.
"I wish to inform you that you are to power down your secondary cannons and cancel the orders given to your fighters."
"I wasn't aware of you knowing of those orders."
"Oh, I know about a lot of things, Stephen. I am a very smart man."
Cpt. Bloom glared at the Operative. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't blow you out of the sky here and now."
Officer Xian re-entered the room. "Sir, power has been lost in all weapon systems, and the fighters are all locked down."
Cpt. Bloom looked at Officer Xian, and back to the Operative. All he did was smirk.
"Since I have the upper hand here, and I know that I have been stricken from all records, Alliance or otherwise, I feel like humoring you a little bit. My name is Simon Tam. Go on, look it up." The Operative sat down in the captain's chair and leaned back. "I can wait."
Cpt. Bloom did so personally.
"Simon Tam…" said Cpt. Bloom. "Known fugitive. Harboring another fugitive, known as River Tam, your sister. One of the higher bounties in the 'verse."
The Operative looked surprised for a millisecond. "My relation with Subject 06 is only genetics, nothing more. And I am no fugitive."
"Tell that to the records. Officer Xian, put out a warrant on this vessel, the "Serenity". Firefly-class, painted up like an Alliance vessel."
"I see." The Operative whispered something to Cpt. Reynolds, who nodded and left. For a while, he simply stared Cpt. Bloom down. "Your logs and records seem full of errors, Stephen."
"Or maybe you and your captain are just deluded, or liars. Officer Xian, give the order for-"
At that moment, Captain Stephen Bloom's head whipped back with a loud crack, and he fell to the floor of the bridge. Officer Xian and the rest of the bridge staff looked in horror at the Operative.
"Gentlemen, I bid you farewell."
And with a wave of his hand, the video screen went off.
"That was absolutely unnecessary."
Captain Reynolds walked back onto the helm. The pilot of the ship turned and looked at him. He nodded. "Get us to whatever planet is closest, and has people on it."
The pilot pulled away from the IAV Kung Lao before it could recover and retaliate.
"It's looking like that would be…" said the pilot, "Boros. But, with all due respect, sir, considering how they have our number, and we sort of killed the captain of a cruiser, we'd be shot on sight."
"An excellent point," said Cpt. Reynolds. "Speaking of, Mr. Tam, why the hell did you kill an Alliance captain in cold blood?"
"He was in the way," said Mr. Tam. "Besides, I was not the one who utilized Subject 06 in such a way."
"You gave me the order knowing full well you'd stab me in my sleep if I refused."
"I wouldn't dream of it. I don't like knives."
"Look, regardless, we've got the Alliance on our backs now, and we're running low on fuel."
"Mending the relations between us and the Alliance would be easy-"
"Now, covering up all that would be a bit too much, probably even for her. Not to mention that's a whole lot of men whose minds are being tampered with. Good men, too, if they're with the Alliance."
"Hey, can you two have your morality debates somewhere else, please?" said the pilot. "We're currently being monitored quite heavily, and I need to focus."
"As you wish, Sgt. Washburn," said Cpt. Reynolds. He and Mr. Tam exited the helm, leaving Sgt. Hoban Washburn alone with the stars.
"Well, as I see it, there are two issues," said Mr. Tam, as the two headed towards the containment area. "The first one is the death of the captain of an Alliance cruiser through ways that do point to us."
"You hammed it up like nobody's business. Acting like some sort of omnipotent force of evil. That's entirely your fault."
"The second issue, which is not my fault, is that myself and Subject 06 are both inexplicably fugitives, and that all records of you and your accomplishments have vanished."
"That is more of an issue, yes. Got any ideas?"
"Sir." The engineer of the IAV Serenity ran up to the captain and the Operative. She shot Mr. Tam a quick, loathsome look. "Everything important is alright. Sure, we're going to run out of fuel, and most of the weapons electronics are sort of fried, but all the big problems are fixed, so… yay?" She shrugged and started to leave.
"Kaylee, you're good at problem-solving, aren't you?" said Cpt. Reynolds.
"Mmmm… yeah, yeah I am. Why do you ask?"
"After going through that formation, suddenly, to the Alliance, I am apparently a Browncoat, and our mutual friend here is a fugitive. Why?"
"Whoa, hey, I'm an engineer, not a gorram philosopher. I solve practical problems."
"Alright, then, get back to work."
"Hold on, hold on," said Kaylee. "I have… no, no, it's ridiculous."
"No, please, go on," said Mr. Tam.
"Well… those are basically mirrors of what you are, aren't they?"
Cpt. Reynolds and Mr. Tam nodded.
"Well, I used to watch old, old programs. Stuff from Earth-That-Was, old relics, that sort of thing. It's what they base a lot of shows and movies on."
"One of them was a science fiction show. Oh, it's completely outdated – aliens, completely wrong starships, that sort of thing. Anyway, one of the episodes had another universe, where good was bad, and the heroes were evil."
"That is relevant in what way?" said Mr. Tam.
"No, no, I see where she's going. You're thinking that we're there now?"
"Yeah. Thanks to that… whatever. That help you two?"
"It did. God be with you, Kaylee."
Kaylee rolled her eyes and headed elsewhere.
"Why do they do that so much, anyway?" said Cpt. Reynolds.
"She may be sick of how often you show your faith," said Mr. Tam.
"Or maybe she's been hanging around Evans too much."
"You blame him too much. Just because his faith is different from your own-"
"He doesn't have faith at all. That's the issue. That man doesn't like God, pure and simple, and he has a problem with the fact that I do."
"I believe I've noticed. Quite often, in fact."
"Hey, the fights keep us in shape. Besides, if you two had such a problem with my faith, you could go elsewhere, I'm sure."
"It is hard to go elsewhere in the middle of the black."
Cpt. Reynolds sighed. "I was using a metaphor. Now, what to do about this situation we're in…"
"What do you think about Ms. Frye's theory?"
"I don't know, I mean, that thing could have done all sorts of things." Cpt. Reynolds paused in thought. "We could ask …her."
"You know, the Subject. She might know."
Cpt. Bloom and Mr. Tam walked through the last doorway before reaching the containment room.
On an unmodified Firefly, it would be the infirmary. On the IAV Serenity, though, it was the holding chamber for Subject 06. The drawers were sealed shut, and the operating chair that would normally be in the center was replaced with a small metal chair bolted to the ground. At the request of others on the ship who have seen Subject 06 "at work", the room's walls and floors were replaced with softer rubber. Nevertheless, near the doorway, there was a smear of blood.
Subject 06 herself was currently in the far corner of the room, sitting in the fetal position more-or-less calmly. Cpt. Reynolds knew that if she was being that still, though, her mind was far from calm. God knows what was going on in her brain, and Cpt. Reynolds felt like that was something to keep between Him and her. Her hair was a mess and there was a trickle of blood dripping from her temple. The captain didn't know how exactly she ended up hurting herself when she used her powers – he watched her "at work" once and refused to watch her again.
When Mr. Tam entered the chamber, she balled up tighter and stared intently at her knees.
"Subject 06?" said Mr. Tam.
Subject 06 looked at him for a second before looking back at her knees.
"We think we might be in another universe. Are we?"
When answering questions, Subject 06 tended to shudder, mutter, rock back and forth, and look downward. Cpt. Bloom still found it unnerving. It was too close to a seizure for his liking.
After a minute, Subject 06 stopped shuddering and looked up.
"The world we travel now is not the same. We flew through space and passed into the void." She talked slowly and metrically.
It took Cpt. Reynolds a bit to realize that that meant "yes". If Mr. Tam was confused, he didn't show it.
"And there is another Serenity there? With a crew not unlike our own?"
"Now, Mr. Tam, why do-" said Cpt. Reynolds, but Subject 06 cut him off.
"The mirror shows the faces of this crew. They differ, though, and that cannot be changed."
"And there is another Subject 06 on board as well?" asked Mr. Tam. There was an unnerving excitement in his voice.
"In my triumphs the failures she reflects. She is broken, but still is River Tam."
For a second, Mr. Tam looked like he might strike Subject 06, but did not. Instead, he smiled.
"Excellent. Thank you."
"We are the prey thanks to what we have done," said Subject 06. "We are both on the run from those who rule."
"Hm, yes, I forgot about that fact. Now, our captain says that you're not to go and undo that as a whole."
Subject 06 looked at Cpt. Reynolds. She looked like she was trying to say something, wanted dearly to say it, but physically couldn't.
"Since there is another Serenity, and they will be after both ships… of course. Tell them that there will be a specialized ship, not to be named, that will be tracking them down. The standard procedure. And make sure that I am not to be harmed or arrested."
Subject 06 started trembling again. It started to get more and more violent. Cpt. Reynolds took himself and Mr. Tam out of the room.
"I am assuming that is acceptable, captain?" said Mr. Tam.
"It'll do," said Cpt. Reynolds. "One quick question, though. Who is River Tam?"
"That is not relevant. Do not ask me that again." That was the angriest Cpt. Reynolds had seen Mr. Tam in a while.
"I'm just saying, she said that her reflection was her, and you asked if there was another… unless… is she… you wouldn't…"
That thought made Cpt. Reynolds stop.
"Is she… is Subject 06 your sister?"
Mr. Tam turned and placed some device into Cpt. Reynold's neck with a great deal of pressure. He couldn't see what it was, but it felt vaguely round and dangerous.
"Only genetics," said Mr. Tam, his voiced harsh with tranquil fury. "Nothing more." He pulled the device away. "Never mention that name or that fact again. It is with mercy that I do no more."
"Rung tse song di ching dai wuo tzo… And I thought you were cold before…"
"If I wasn't that way, I would still be an unknown doctor." He smiled, and Cpt. Reynolds was even more unnerved.
"Get her back to normal once she's done. I will tell the crew what we're doing. God be with you both."
Cpt. Reynolds started to make his way back up to the bridge, but someone unexpected popped up. Or rather, since she was hanging by her legs from the ceiling, dropped in.
"Hiya, cap'n!" It was his blonde, blue-eyed, and bubbly second-in-command.
"Zoe, I've told you this so many times, don't just pop up out of the shadows like that!"
"But Malcolm, I've got to keep my skills sharp!" Zoe dropped to the floor and stood by Cpt. Reynolds's side.
"Yes, of course. Anyway, walk with me. We have a new plan."
"Hmmm? What's going on now?"
"Well, apparently, we're in a parallel universe of some sort. There are copies of us, and we're going after them."
"Ooh! Sounds fun!" Zoe paused for a second. "Why?"
"Our benefactor, that's why."
"Why don't you ever call Mr. Tam Mr. Tam, cap'n?"
"Because, if you give someone a real name, it humanizes them, makes them relatable. He certainly isn't relatable, now, is he?"
"Nope. So, is that all that we have on them? Got a place?"
"Not a thing. I figure we'd set down on Persephone – decent place, not too bugged with the Alliance that might still be after us – and get resupplied. We're low on everything. Then, we'll see what we can hear."
"Sounds like a really good plan, sir. Better than usual, even! Soooo, what will I do once we find them?"
"Help us get to them. Once they're beaten, I suppose I can let you take out all of your pent up rages on their analogues to certain crew members here."
"Ooh! Yay!" Zoe's mind filled with possibilities, most of which would get her in very deep trouble. "I know that you'll find-"
That was when Zoe and Cpt. Reynolds reached the bridge. The moment Zoe saw the pilot, she stopped talking and dropped her perpetual smile. When she entered, the pilot stopped piloting the ship, and turned to look at her. They gave each other looks, mostly a stew of hatred and loathing with a pinch of sexual tension. After a few seconds, Zoe seemed to vanish from Cpt. Reynolds's side. If there was one thing she was the best at, it was making herself invisible.
"Ugh," said Sgt. Washburne, turning back to his ship, "that da shiong la se la ch'wohn tian-"
"Hey. None of that," said Cpt. Reynolds. "Slight change of plans. We're heading to Persephone instead. Less questions asked there."
"Well, sir, pardon a bit of insubordination, but I've started heading that way already. I checked the Cortex, and they did seem to be quite up in arms about us, but all the announcements on the public feed just went off a little bit ago." Sgt. Washburne paused and looked at the captain for a second. "Why is she still on this ship?"
"Because, I've had her at my side for longer than most men keep married-" Cpt. Reynolds realized that that might've been the exact wrong thing to say.
"Yes, quite a bit longer, especially for her. Especially because of you. You two were always a lot closer than me and her, and you hadn't even slept together until we got divorced!"
"Hey, you're the one sticking around! You hate the two of us so badly, why haven't you just left?"
"Well…" said Sgt. Washburn, taking a second to crack his back and focusing intently on the navigational commands, "I'm the only one that actually knows how to work this thing and you know it. There are guns on this girl that you don't even know about. Besides, working here, I'm sure I know too much, and I'd be assassinated."
Cpt. Reynolds shrugged, knowing that the last point was probably true.
"Anyways, I'd appreciate it if you'd head out about now. Maybe have some quiet time with my ex-wife. I'm sure you'd love that."
"Alright, fine. God be-"
"Juu koh. Go."
"Okay, okay. Fine." Cpt. Reynolds left the helm.
"So," said Mr. Tam, appearing in front of Cpt. Reynolds out of a passageway. "The plan is set?"
"Yeah, everyone who needs to know knows now. I'm assuming we're going to take them down once we find them?"
"Of course. But not lethally. I want to destroy them personally, one by one. And I need Subject 06 alive. She will be ours."
"What about you? I'd suppose you'd have a copy running around on that ship as well."
"If he is everything I am not, he is not a threat to anyone. The same can presumably be said of yours as well, captain."
"Was that a compliment? Anyways, we should reach Antenora in a day's time. We'll get more details there, I'm sure."
"Well, that will be excellent. I cannot wait for when the two ships meet."
Mr. Tam left as suddenly as he arrived. Cpt. Reynolds took the moment to stop and think. The situation was out of his control. It often was, after Mr. Tam and Mr. Evans moved onto the ship. He couldn't back out, or else he'd have Alliance men after him. That was the one thing about this new world that scared him: the Alliance didn't recognize him. He always liked that his loyalty to the Alliance was rewarded with prestige, but here, it wasn't.
It didn't matter. He was still serving them, and serving Him, and if it meant taking orders from a black ops sociopath, so be it.
Cpt. Reynolds sighed and grasped the cross he wore. "For God, and the Alliance." And he went to tell the rest of the crew what the situation was.
The hunt for the other Serenity was on.
Author's Note: So, this is a Firefly Mirror Universe fanfic. I have no idea if it's been done before, but here it is in my personal version. The beginning is probably going to be the worst part of this story by virtue of it basically giving the mirrored characters a reason to be in this universe as well as the information they need. Don't worry; it should be improving once the conflict starts. Also, I'm taking the Chinese swears straight from the Firefly wiki, so if there are any mistranslations or words that don't make sense in context, blame them.