Author is in no way the owner of Firefly, nor does he make money for his writing in that wonderful verse. Okay not sue him.
If anyone out there is still interested, here begins the last story of the Shade Verse. Thanks for all the PM's and emails. I appreciate your patience, and will try to reward it as best I can.
"And there's no other way."
The finality of the speaker's tone fell over the conference room with a pall of doom.
"I take it that we're taking actions to find Ironhorse?" Tribal Elder George Flint asked, looking at the speaker.
"We are, and have been for some time," Joseph Many-Horses nodded in reply. "We know that he was part of the Independent Military, and we've tracked his movements from there to about five years ago. From there, it becomes more difficult. He was working aboard a freighter named Serenity at that time, and seemed comfortable there. Problem is, that freighter hasn't been seen in over two years. No one who knows the ship has heard from them."
"Lost?" Flint asked.
"Possible, but unlikely," Many-Horses shook his head. "We believe that the ship has been grounded, or working in one of the larger systems on an extended contract. From what we've been told, the Captain of the vessel is a most formidable man. It is not likely that the ship was lost."
"We have to find him," another Elder spoke quietly. "There is simply too much at stake. Are the other clans also looking for him?" he asked.
"Not to our knowledge."
"Then it becomes even more important that our security is strong. Limited only to those who need to know."
"This has been done," Many-Horses assured them.
"Then find him," Flint ordered harshly. "Make this your primary. . .no, make it your only priority. There is far, far too much for us to lose, if we cannot locate this one son. Make it happen."
"I do not understand why finding this one son of a long dead clan is of such importance, Father," Annassa Flint spoke quietly as she walked alongside her father.
"He is the heir," Flint told her flatly. "So long as he lives, or so long as we cannot prove he is dead to the satisfaction of the Elders, then the land of Clan deMuertos lies fallow. If we can find him, then you will wed to him, and that land will become ours in less than a generation."
"I was not betrothed to him, Father," Annassa reminded him. "As such, there is no rightful claim for me."
"I will say that his father and I reached an agreement before his death," Flint told her. "The Elders will uphold such an agreement, I believe. And the boy would not have known otherwise. He will be left with no choice."
"Do you truly believe that such a man, a man who has shed so much blood, will allow himself to be forced to do anything, let alone be forced into a marriage of convenience?" Annassa asked.
"He will do as I say, or I will see his clan, and their memory, in dishonor," Flint growled in reply. "I will not see this opportunity lost to a whelp of a boy who did not even complete his Raising." He stopped, looking down at his daughter.
"You will be his wife, and your children will be loyal to you, and through you, to me. We will exercise defacto control of deMuerto land, which borders our own. Your children, once grown, will place their own Elder among the council. An Elder who will support Clan Dos Oso in all things."
"We will have a dynasty in the making."
"And if he refuses?" Annassa pressed.
"Then he will die."
"How then will we attain the land?" Annassa inquired.
"It will be more difficult, and very costly," Flint admitted. "But it can be done. But he will do our bidding. I will see to it."
"Very well, Father," Annassa bowed her head slightly. "I will do my part, once we find him." Flint looked at his daughter. So polished, so beautiful. And so very cold.
"Yes, I believe you will, my daughter. Now, let us return home. I wish to monitor the efforts of our agents closely." He resumed his walk.
"There is no room for error."