Story [Doctor Who/Firefly] The Man With No Name (Now Complete!!!!)

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  1. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty: Unmasked

    ?Oh, well, the night is long; the beads of Time pass slow,
    Tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow.
    The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath...?
    ?Led Zeppelin ?The Battle of Evermore?

    Mal watched all the color drain from the Doctor?s face. ?No.? The Doctor?s voice was a whisper. He reached out as though to touch the floating, shifting symbol. ?No, it can?t be.?

    ?What is it?? Inara demanded, glancing toward the door. Mal, too, looked over his shoulder. Nothing yet, but he had an uneasiness in his gut that said they were running right out of time.

    The Doctor did not seem to hear. ?It couldn?t possibly...?

    ?Doc,? Mal growled. ?Unpack.?

    The Doctor blinked at them, then straightened abruptly. ?Right, sorry,? he said, though he was unable to tear his eyes from the intricate design that hung suspended before them. ?Only that?s a Mokshar sigil, and no Moksha would ever...Oh, God,? he breathed. ?That explains the bit in the psionic matrix, linking into the emotions...oh, nononono, I can?t believe?? He looked sick, both hands reaching up to fist in his hair.

    Mal clenched his teeth. ?I?m gonna go out on a limb here, and guess that these Mokshar ain?t human??

    ?No,? said the Doctor absently. He lowered his hands, leaving his hair standing nearly straight up. It should have made him look ridiculous, comical?but the grave horror in his eyes stole all amusement from the scene. ?They?re an ancient race. One of the oldest in the universe, in fact, even older than mine. Bit avian in looks?skinny, feathery, kinda pointy. Empaths and healers of incredible power.?

    ?Older than ?your people,? huh?? said Mal in a flat voice.

    ?They were probably the closest thing you could find in this universe to pure good,? the Doctor continued, oblivious to Mal?s remark. ?I just can?t accept that one of them would be involved in?in this.? His voice dripped with disgust as he gestured at the lab around them.

    ?Mal?? Inara?s voice was worried. She was watching his face, not the Doctor?s. ?What?s wrong??

    ?He ain?t human,? said Mal. ?Wuo duh tien ah, he?s the gorram alien.?

    ?I dropped you enough clues,? said the Doctor coolly, still busy staring at the glowing sigil. ?You?ve only just now realized? Oh dear. Sometimes I forget how slow humans can be. Can?t be helped, I suppose, it?s the way your brains are wired.?

    Mal clenched his fists, but fought down the urge to throttle the man. ?Ain?t exactly in my world view,? he said, deadly dry.

    ?Sorry, that was a bit rude of me, I guess. I suppose it isn?t your fault.? The Doctor finally looked up at the both of them, and shoved his glasses back up his nose with a finger. ?For reasons I can?t fathom, the other races out there have left this little corner of Creation almost entirely alone. Have to look into that, when I go; I?m sure there?s a fascinating reason. What?s funny, though, is that Earth had made extraterrestrial contact long before your ancestors left the planet. So why have you lot forgotten??

    ?He?s not human.? Inara raised an eyebrow at him that said clearly Mal, you?re nuts.

    ?I?m not,? said the Doctor, before Mal could answer. ?I look human, but I?m not.?

    ?Then...what are you??

    The Doctor hesitated. ?...Let?s call me a wanderer for the moment, shall we? No, don?t get your knickers in a knot?it?s not because I don?t want to tell you. It?s that I?m not sure it?s safe to say, right here and now.? He gestured to the symbol. ?This tells me a Moksha is about, doing all this. But I know the Mokshar, and they wouldn?t do this.? His hands carved the air in vague gestures, like he was trying to capture alien ideas to show them. ?Their whole belief system was such an integral part of their being?it was literally woven into their biology?and they believed utterly in preserving life and free will, in using their abilities to help and heal and teach the ways of peace, and only turning to war when there was no other way. They hadn?t fought a war for millions of
  2. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty One: Uneasy

    ?There's a time when the Traveler
    Is fated to find
    That insight has turned his gaze
    Behind.
    And the steps taken yesterday
    Will beckon again
    And lead to his weary journey's
    End.?
    ?Dan Fogelberg, ?In the Passage?

    The alleyway was dark and narrow, cramped with malodorous refuse, but it was out of sight of the angry anthill that Renier Enterprises. The Doctor suppressed a yelp of pain as he and Inara staggered into a rough brick wall. Inara murmured an apology and eased him down to sit, gasping, against the wall while she checked his shoulder.

    ?Been a long time since I got shot,? he said through gritted teeth, as Inara began tugging loose his cravat and unbuttoning shirt and vest. ?A really long time, in fact. Didn?t like it then, and it hasn?t improved on further acquaintance.?

    Inara pushed aside the sticky, sodden mass of coat, shirt, and vest for a better look at the wound. ?I?m not a medic,? she said in a tight voice. ?But I?ve seen enough wounds on Serenity to tell you that this doesn?t look too bad, if we can just stop the bleeding.?

    ?Lucky I?m wearing a cravat instead of a necktie, then isn?t it? Makes a handy bandage.? He tugged at the knot with his good hand, and pulled it loose.

    Inara folded the length of cloth into a thick pad, and pressed it against the bullet hole. ?Hold that,? she ordered, then began tearing a long strip of cloth from the hem of her skirt.

    The Doctor hissed in pain, but kept pressure on his shoulder. ?Bullet?s still in,? he said. ?It?ll have to be dug out; my biology gets a bit funny about foreign objects left floating about. Humans have an advantage, there. You can go around for years with odd bits left inside you, but Time Lords?well, let?s just say I don?t fancy fever and delirium over a little bit of metal. It just isn?t worth it, at my age.? And wasn?t he feeling that age, just now...

    Inara?s face was drawn as she tied the makeshift bandage into place. ?Your blood...?

    He glanced at the bright stains on her hands, too pale and lurid compared to the deep crimson of human blood. ?I know.?

    ?Mal was right. You really aren?t human.?

    The Doctor half-smiled. ?Got it in one,? he said.

    She was silent for a long moment. Then, ?I?m going to kill him!?

    The Doctor blinked, confused, then his brain caught up with what she was referring to. ?Ah. Tell me, do you want to kill him for running off to get captured, for having the temerity to snog?sorry, kiss?you, or for picking the worst possible time to tell you how he felt??

    Another silence. Then Inara sighed, and said only, ?Yes.?

    ?Heh. Well, I don?t blame you. Can?t say I don?t understand where he?s coming from, either, especially the last bit. Got terrible timing in that respect myself. You?d think, as good as I am at talking, I?d have it down, but I?m really quite rubbish at it. At least he said it,? he added, a little sadly. ?I always seem to leave it so late it never gets said at all.?

    ?I am furious,? Inara began, with a visible attempt at dignity, but her temper slipped away from her again, run ragged by fear and stress. ?Because he damn well did that on purpose! He knew it would shock me so much I?d do what he told me to?and that?s just what I did!?

    The Doctor was silent for a moment, allowing Inara to finish fussing with the bandage and refasten the buttons of his shirt, studying her face closely. Any minute, they could be set upon by Renier?s security forces. They should get moving. And they would?but not before he?d had his say. They had time?or rather, he did. In his pocket, so to speak. ?It seems to me?no, leave that?? he interrupted himself as she started to button up the vest. He continued, ?It seems to me, Inara, that whatever his reasons for saying it, he meant it nonetheless.?

    Now it was Inara?s turn to be silent. She would not meet his eyes. ?I know,? she said finally, her voice soft, still angry. ?And that just makes me long to hit him all the more.? She caught the expression on his face and added, with a wry smile, ?It?s comp
  3. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty Two: Human Nature

    ?The human animal is a beautiful and terrible creature, capable of limitless compassion and unfathomable cruelty...All animals understand love and affection, but only man shows the propensity to place himself into the shoes of another lifeform. Losing this capability, among individuals of this species, reduces them below their much heralded position, and readies the climate for the likely fall of man, the fall from grace? ??Sophia,? The Cruxshadows

    His head pounded something fierce. Felt like a godawful hangover...had he gone and let Jayne get him drunk again? No, hold a minute, that weren?t right. He wasn?t drunk. Oh, right. Stunner headache. Several times over, probably; he vaguely recalled four or five of the security guards firing all at once.

    So. They?d caught him. Which was no kind of surprise. They hadn?t killed him, though, which was a mite surprising. But that was good, wasn?t it?

    Until they decide to torture you.

    Oh. Crap.

    Feeling began to return to his limbs, and with it came all manner of unpleasant pins and needles. He almost preferred being shot to being stunned; the recovery was less painful. Though come to think of it, he didn?t much care for being shot, either. Speaking of which...He hoped Inara and the Doc had gotten out all right, and weren?t tied up somewhere close by. Make him look all manner of stupid if he hadn?t bought them time to escape. And there was the little matter of the last thing he?d said to Inara....

    He really hoped they?d gotten away. Far, far away. And that his captors would decide he wasn?t worth keeping alive. Hell, he?d lay odds that torture would be preferable to what Inara was going to say if he got back.

    But maybe...

    Mal shoved fears and hopes aside. He owed it to his crew to try and get out of here alive, no matter what Inara might have in store for him. There was enough feeling in his arms and legs by now that he figured he might have a shot at, if not freeing himself, at least some serious struggling. He was sitting upright, at least, in a chair or something similar. Here goes. Mal strained at the bonds holding his arms bound to the chair?s arms?

    ?and nearly smacked himself in the face as they flew up, unhindered by ropes or restraints of any kind. His arms weren?t tied up. Mal moved his legs experimentally. He wasn?t tied up at all.

    He filed this under Deeply Suspicious.

    With the pressing need to get rid of bonds suddenly unnecessary, Mal focused on his surroundings. The lights were off, but faint light from a street lamp filtered in through blinds on a window behind him. He was in?an office? Sure as hell looked like an office: cheap desk, chair, console. Even a fake plant gathering dust in the corner by the door. An ordinary office like any corporate drone might have, bland and lacking in personality. Why the hell would they stick him in an office?

    I?m still unconscious. That has to be it. And I?m having a nightmare about corporate offices. I?ll walk out the door, and I?ll be wearin? some gorram suit and some idiot?ll be going on about pointless drone-work and then I?ll wake up screaming. And then I?ll be tied up and in some cell underground, like I should be.

    It occurred to Malcolm Reynolds that there might just be something skewed about his sense of normalcy.

    He stood slowly. He?d been stunned plenty of times in his misspent life, and was painfully aware that no one reacted to stun the same way twice. He could expect anything from vomiting to muscle spasms to a full-on faint. The only thing that happened this time, however, was a protesting throb from his aching head. Easier on his dignity, at least, to say nothing of his chances for immediate escape.

    Carefully, ears straining for any kind of unwelcome sound, Mal edged his way around desk and chair toward the light-rimmed rectangle of the office door. He slid one hand down the smooth surface, feeling for the touch panel to open it, while his other hand patted for weapons. His gun belt was gone, as
  4. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty Three: Conviction

    ?This is the moment of truth
    At the point of no return
    Place faith in your convictions
    As the boundaries start to blur...?
    ?The Cruxshadows, ?Eye of the Storm?

    There was a steaming mug of coffee on the desk in front of him. Real coffee, too, not the fake luh suh that was all he could afford. He hadn?t had real coffee in...well, actually, he wasn?t real sure he?d ever had real coffee. Not like this stuff, anyway. His nostrils twitched at the rich smell, but his stomach was a twisted knot of snakes. They watched him, the four men, with an air of expectation, Vharaj with?he couldn?t be sure, but he was pretty near certain there was a smugness on the alien?s pointy face.

    ?Is your coffee all right, Sergeant??

    Mal reached out and wrapped his hands around the ceramic, letting the heat warm his fingers. His hands were cold, and it wasn?t from the stun. They wanted something from him. That much was obvious. It explained why they were playing nice instead of breaking out the thumbscrews and nerve-drugs. ??S fine,? he said, pretending to take a sip and getting a scalded upper lip for his troubles. ?And it?s not ?sergeant? anymore,? he added, eyes watering slightly. ?War?s over.?

    ?For some of us,? said former-General McKinney, ?the war will never be over.?

    I?ve had this conversation before. Where...oh, right. That dumbass Alliance twerp who hauled us all in over the Reaver-hit ship. God, that feels like a long time ago. Less than two years, though.

    ?So long as the Alliance stands, and is free to commit atrocities on the people, the war will not end.? That was Rhineholdt. Mal squinted at the man, recalling a number of nicknames (some invented by himself) applied to the man. He?d hadn?t been the worst C.O. Mal had ever dealt with, but he came damned close. Rhineholdt had been a gorram fanatic, the kind that made someone like Mal Reynolds?who was passionately devoted to the Independent cause, but not fanatic?nervous. And how many platinum would you lay down that the whole Reaver thing is his brainchild? Hah. No bet.

    ?Atrocities?? Mal leaned back in his chair, still cradling the mug. Kind of them to just hand him a weapon like that... ?You mean, like what just happened to the folk on Three Hills? That kinda atrocity??

    And to his surprise, Rhineholdt actually looked away. Okay, then?maybe the fanaticism only goes so far. But McKinney, now, he didn?t look even a mite upset. His idea, then. Great. ?Necessary sacrifices,? he said, and in his eyes Mal saw the true, worrying fire of a genuine fanatic. He?d lost none of the shine to his insanity, as Rhineholdt had.

    He couldn?t ignore the words, though. ?Necessary sacrifices?? he repeated incredulously. ?Where in all the hells d?you get off callin? an entire settlement?three settlements!?of folk a necessary sacrifice? They weren?t doin? nothin? but tryin? to scrape out a living on that dirtball!?

    ?The army must be tested,? said Vharaj smoothly and without, to Mal?s ear, any kind of concern. ?To ensure that it can be controlled. If we were to loose it on the Alliance and the creatures slipped free of control?well, there would be far more than military casualties. You wouldn?t want them rampaging freely, would you??

    ?What, so you?ll turn ?em loose on civilian casualties first? Seems t?me, bird-man, that there?s a big gorram hole in that logic.?

    ?They will not be missed. Attacks occur in this part of space all the time.?

    This was so patently horrible?and worse, not without truth?that Mal couldn?t think of a reply scathing enough. He glared instead, though the alien appeared not at all bothered by this. ?And you came after me and my crew because we saw too much, is that it?? he demanded finally .
    McKinney steepled his fingers and gave Mal a cool smile that, he supposed, was supposed to make him feel more at ease. Instead, his fingers clenched more tightly around the coffee mug. ?At first, yes,? said the ex-general. ?We had no idea who had
  5. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty Four: Garden of Memories

    ?A million roads, a million fears
    A million suns, ten million years of uncertainty
    I could speak a million lies, a million songs,
    A million rights, a million wrongs in this balance of time
    But if there was a single truth, a single light
    A single thought, a singular touch of grace
    Then following this single point , this single flame,
    The single haunted memory of your face...?
    ?Sting, ?A Thousand Years?

    River had quieted as soon as they brought her through the door, but she still lay curled up in a ball in the center of the floor. Zoe watched Kaylee stroke the girl?s hair and tried not to think hard on the fact that the whole gorram ?verse had just gotten extremely weird. On some level, she wasn?t particularly surprised that the Doctor was not, after all, human. It surely explained why she couldn?t read the man...It surprised her a little, though, that she still thought of him as a man. But that?s what he looked like, and, for the most part, acted like.

    This room bothered her some. It didn?t feel wrong, exactly, but there was an oddness to it that set her teeth on edge. It looked similar to the big room they?d first entered, and the corridors she and Jayne and Kaylee had raced down with River: greens and golds and a faintly organic look. Thing was, though, it felt...silent, in a way no room she?d been in during her thirty-four years ever had. It was as though nothing, solid or intangible, could get in. In a way, it was kind of peaceful. In another way, it was kind of bothersome.

    She felt a brief twinge of pain in her abdomen, and experienced an equally brief stab of panic. But the pain was only momentary, and the muscles of stomach and uterus remained still. That would, she thought, be exactly the sort of thing to happen to them?her going into labor at the worst possible time.

    Not yet, little one, she thought at the life inside her. It?s too soon. And I don?t want you to be born on an alien?s ship. That would be too gorram...weird.

    Jayne sat against the wall near the door, arms resting loosely on his drawn-up knees. He was watching River with a kind of worry. Zoe wasn?t sure if it was because he was afraid she might suddenly go buggy on them?which she had been known to do, from time to time when she?d been under great stress?or if it was for the girl?s own sake.

    She was worried about River, too, but if the girl was anything she was resilient. Most of the great gnawing worry Zoe felt was for Mal. The idiot, gone and got himself caught. Which said to her that he?d gone and done something stupidly noble again. She?d never known a man who could shift gears so quickly as Mal Reynolds. One minute, he was the coldest bastard she?d ever seen, and the next he was getting all manner of idiot heroic?and he never did either at the appropriate time. What was it Minty and Fango had said? He ran when he should stand and fight, fought when he should run...something like that, anyway. He hadn?t been like that during the war. Then, mostly, he?d just stood and fought regardless.

    Other issues related to her condition were making themselves impossible to ignore any longer. She shifted. ?I?m goin? out,? she announced.

    Jayne looked up from his brown study, startled. ?What? Why??

    ?Ought to know something about our location,? replied Zoe. ?And as River doesn?t look to be in any more immediate danger, I?m gettin? mighty tired of waitin? here.?

    Jayne shot an uneasy glance toward the doors. ?Oh, I dunno if that?s such a good idea, Zoe,? he said slowly. ?This place is gorram weird.?

    ?I don?t think anything?ll try and kill me,? said Zoe coolly. ?And a bit of reconnaissance wouldn?t hurt.? She wasn?t about to tell him that her actual, important reason for leaving the room was to see if she could locate a gorram bathroom. She hadn?t exactly had time for any such thing during the battle and escape, and now that the adrenalin had worn off the knowledge that the baby was doing jumping jacks on her bladder was becoming painfully acute.

    She watched the expressions c
  6. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty Five: Without Shield or Protection

    ?And in the fury of this darkest hour
    I will be your light
    A lifetime for this destiny
    For I am Winterborn
    And in this moment...
    I will not run, it is my place to stand.?
    ?The Cruxshadows, ?Winterborn?

    Mal blinked, feeling dust gritty in his eyes. He knew this place. In some ways, he?d never really left it. Around him fires burned, lighting up the night, their roar mingling with the shouts of men and the sound of gunfire, the familiar tian fuhn di fu of war. A dull howl made him look up, in time to see a skiff wheel overhead. He knew that skiff; he?d shot it down his own self nearly a decade ago.

    ?Juh shi shuh mo go dohng shee?? he demanded of the sky.

    ?I thought, Captain Reynolds, that you could use some reminding.?

    He whirled to see Vharaj standing several yards away, his arms clasped before him and shoulders tucked in a manner that made him look all the more birdlike. ?What the hell is going on here?? he demanded. ?What is this??

    Vharaj tilted his head, eyes widening. ?Surely you recognize where you are??

    Mal?s eyes narrowed. ?You know damn well I do,? he growled. He looked around again. Despite the noise around them, he saw no one else. ?This is in my head, ain?t it??

    ?Of course,? said Vharaj, inclining his head.

    ?Get out,? snapped Mal. ?Get the hell outta my head.?

    ?No.?

    With a low snarl, Mal hurled himself toward the creature, closing the space between them in long, angry strides. But Vharaj flickered and was no longer there. Mal stumbled, caught himself. Gritty earth bit into his palms. For being in his head, it felt gorram real. He spun around and spotted the Moksha standing atop a jumbled pile of rock some twenty feet away.

    ?The Battle of Serenity Valley,? said the alien. ?I?ve studied this civilization?s history. This battle...it was a fierce one.?

    ?You have no idea,? Mal said coldly.

    The alien cocked one bright eye at him. ?Oh, I think I do. I, too, watched my hopes crumble in fire and dust, Malcolm Reynolds. I know exactly how it felt.?

    ?Then it?s damn clear you didn?t learn much.?

    ?Didn?t I? I don?t want to see something like this repeated.? Vharaj gestured around them. ?And it will happen again. You know it will. The Alliance will seek to bring the border worlds more tightly under their control, and war will erupt again.?

    ?Explain to me, then, just how turnin? a lot of Reavers loose is any different?? Mal folded his arms. ?Carnage is carnage. At least here the folk weren?t puppets dancin? on a string.?

    ?I?m certain you are familiar with the concept of a preemptive strike, Captain. A single, hard strike at the heart of the Alliance will cripple them, shatter their foundations.?

    Mal let out a shout of bitter laughter. ?You really believe that luh suh? I suppose that?s what McKinney thinks, ain?t it. The Alliance is gorram huge, bird-man. They got fleets spread out all over Core space, and more?n enough out here on the Rim. Even if your monsters took Londinium...? He broke off, and drew a sharp breath. ?Ai yah tien ah. You?re gonna hold the world hostage. A whole gorram world.?

    The alien?s features arranged themselves into something like a smile. ?You are a great deal smarter than you let on, Captain Reynolds. I?m impressed.?

    ?Yeah, I?m a picture of brains,? he snarled. ?And you think that?s gonna work? You think the Alliance won?t firebomb Londinium rather than let you hold it ransom??

    ?Since the government is on the planet, I imagine they will be interested in preserving their lives and those of their families from a horrific fate. All they have to do is surrender control of the government.?

    Mal snorted. ?You really are some kinda ai chr jze se duh fohn diang gho, ain?t ya? That?s a plot out of some gorram holo-comic. It?s stupid.?

    ?They will comply,? said the alien. ?Because you are going to convince them to. You are a very persuasive man, Malcolm Reynolds. As the symbol and figurehead of the new Independent faction...they will listen to you.?

    ?Like h
  7. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty Six: Surrender

    Hold your head up high-for there is no greater love
    Think of the faces of the people you defend
    And promise me they will never see the tears within our eyes
    Although we are men with mortal sins, angels never cry
    ?The Cruxshadows, ?Winterborn?

    ?I still don?t like it.? Jayne?s voice was tinny over the communicator, but his reluctance rang clear. ?I mean, at least Mal had somethin? like a plan, most times. And usually it weren?t completely nuts.?

    The Doctor rolled his eyes and raised the little radio to his lips. ?Stop arguing about it, Jayne. Are you and Zoe in position??

    There was a grunt, crackling with static. ?Near enough. Though I still don?t see how we?re gonna??

    ?Just do as I asked, Jayne, all right? It?s not hard?or it shouldn?t be, so long as Zoe is the one who uses the psychic paper. Don?t you dare touch it, do you understand? No telling what it?ll come up with if you get your hands on it.?

    Zoe?s voice cut off Jayne?s protests. ?I?ve got it just fine, Doctor. Stop fussin? and get on with your half of things.?

    The Doctor sighed, lowering the communicator. ?Please, tell me again that there was no possible way to convince her to stay aboard the TARDIS?? he asked Inara. ?Sending a pregnant woman out into that offends all my?admittedly old fashioned?sensibilities.?

    ?If you?d argued with her any longer, Doctor, she?d have shot you. And it is possible that their part of things won?t be required.?

    ?I can hope,? said the Doctor, ?but considering how my days usually go, I think it?s a feeble hope at best.? He shook his head and lifted the comm again. ?Kaylee??

    ?Shuh muh??

    ?You in position??

    ?Yep. All shiny here. Not a guard in sight. Looks like they all went home for the night.?

    ?I expect there?ll be a few around Vharaj?s lab,? the Doctor muttered. ?Sit tight and wait for my signal,? he told her. ?It all depends on you, Kaylee.?

    ?No worries, Doc, I got it covered.?

    ?I imagine you do. And don?t call me ?Doc.?? He glanced around at Simon and Inara. ?All right, then. Are you two ready??

    ?If you are,? said Simon. He tugged uneasily at his collar. ?You do this a lot??

    ?What, surrender? All the time. Funny thing is, though, the bad guys almost never take me up on it...? The Doctor loosened his tie, ran a hand through his hair, and shot a final look at the TARDIS?s closed doors. ?Of course,? he added softly, ?that could be because I never really mean it.? He winked in the general direction of his ship. ?Let?s go.?

    He?d landed the TARDIS in the corridor he, Inara, and Mal had crept down just hours before, not far from the security gate. There was no reception waiting for them here, but he didn?t suppose for a minute that it was because he?d managed to pull one over on Vharaj. The Mokshar was well aware of his ship?s capabilities, and if he didn?t have a squad of soldiers awaiting them as soon as the TARDIS materialized, it was because he was playing a deeper game. Let?s see just how deep you can go, shall we, Vharaj?

    Several minutes passed in tense silence. At the Doctor?s insistence, none of them were armed. Because he?d chosen to take along Inara and Simon, he hadn?t got a lot of argument about it; neither of them were as attached to weaponry as, say, Jayne or Zoe. And I hope to heaven that Jayne and Zoe succeed in their task, or things upstairs could get very bad.

    Finally Simon broke the quiet. ?Is this going to work, Doctor??

    ?Oh...sure. Of course. Why shouldn?t it?? He didn?t sound convincing, even to his own ears. His talent for lying in this regeneration was, to his frustration, erratic at best.

    ?What about Mal?? asked Inara. ?Do you think he?s all right??

    The Doctor sighed. This wasn?t a good time to be having this conversation. ?Do you want an honest answer, or a comforting answer??

    She said nothing, but the fear in her dark eyes told him that she didn?t need to hear either one; her imagination was already supplying her with plenty of fodder. And she can?t even imagine the worst of it, like I can.[
  8. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty Seven: The Storm Unleashed

    I bring the winds to free you from your hesitation
    I call the storms to remind you what you are
    My faith endures for the sake of something less and more in them
    And so I bring the winds, to echo in your heart...
    ??Windbringer,? The Cruxshadows


    The Doctor fell silent, shoulders heaving as he struggled for breath, though the awful, ragged screams still echoed in Inara?s ears. She clutched Simon?s arm tightly, as much to keep herself from trying something stupid?like snatching away one of the security guards? guns and killing Vharaj herself?as for support. Is that what he did to Mal?

    It was hard to identify expression?s on the Mokshar?s alien face, but everyone else in the room seemed frozen in horror, even Vharaj?s ex-Browncoat allies. Inara eyed the staring guard nearest her, and wondered if making a play for a weapon was as stupid as all that. Everyone seemed utterly caught up in the awful drama playing out between Vharaj and his victim...

    And then the Doctor began to laugh.

    If you could call it a laugh. Inara thought it was the most chilling sound she?d ever heard, a low, cold chuckle with only the blackest humor in it. A ripple of shock ran around the room. Vharaj blinked, clearly as surprised as everyone else.

    ?I have invaded your mind, Doctor,? he said gravely. ?I felt your shields shatter. What is this??

    The Doctor got slowly, painfully, to his feet, still laughing softly. His eyes, when he opened them, were fever-bright. ?So you have, Vharaj. But you?re not the first being to batter your way into my head. Probably you won?t be the last.? His teeth bared in a swift, scimitar smile, as chilling as his laughter of a moment before.

    Vharaj took a step backwards, then caught himself. ?What is this?? he demanded again.

    ?Shall I let you in on a little secret, Vharaj? Of all those beings who have ever broken into my mind, not a one of them succeeded without my letting them.?

    There was a moment of silence. Then, ?Even a Time Lord?s defenses cannot stand up to someone with my training. You?re bluffing, Doctor.?

    ?Possibly,? agreed the Doctor affably. ?And I won?t try and convince you all that screaming was an act. That was bloody painful, Vharaj, I?ll have you know. You really did batter through my shields.?

    Vharaj?s eyes narrowed, and Inara thought she saw a flicker of uncertainty in the alien?s great eyes. ?Your mind is mine, Doctor. Your will. Your self.?

    The Doctor raised an eyebrow. ?Is it? Is it really?? He grinned savagely. ?But here?s a thought to worry you, Vharaj. Now that you?re in my mind, can you get out again?
    ?
    Vharaj?s eyes widened. ?Wh?what have you done??

    ?You seem to have forgotten some of the basic rules of psychic combat, Vharaj. One in particular?that in the moment an attacker succeeds in breaking through his opponent?s defenses, in that moment his own defenses must be lowered to allow him in. Now, that?s not usually a problem. I?m not surprised you didn?t remember it?I was certainly in no position to take advantage, was I? Only I?m not alone, Vharaj. While you were busy showing off how tough you are in the face of the hapless Time Lord?s pathetic psychic defenses, I?ll guarantee you never noticed the very human psychic making mincemeat of yours.? The Doctor lifted a hand.

    And from the hall behind them glided River, smiling serenely past the security team. She had, until now, been waiting in the TARDIS, relaying orders and waiting for the Doctor?s call. ?Snap,? she said.

    ?Whoops,? said the Doctor. ?Too late. You?re nicked now, old chum, and you aren?t getting out until I say otherwise. No, don?t,? he said, as the security team made as though to raise their guns. ?Tell them to put their weapons down, Vharaj.?

    The Mokshar?s eyes narrowed. ?No.? Then he gasped, and swayed, the feathers along his head flattening.

    ?I can make it hurt worse,? said the Doctor flatly. ?Now tell them to put their guns down.?

    ?Do it,? snapped McKinney, eyeing the two aliens with sudden, w
  9. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Twenty Nine: Sacrifice

    I may be numberless, I may be innocent
    I may know many things, I may be ignorant
    Or I could ride with kings and conquer many lands
    Or win this world at cards and let it slip my hands
    I could be cannon food, destroyed a thousand times
    Reborn as fortune's child to judge another's crimes
    Or wear this pilgrim's cloak, or be a common thief
    I've kept this single faith, I have but one belief...
    ?Sting, ?A Thousand Years?

    Mal opened his eyes, and discovered that it didn?t hurt any more. More than that, he recognized where he was. He sat up slowly, taking in the familiar surroundings of his childhood bedroom. Everything was exactly as it lived in his memory, from the faded old quilt on the bed to the few books he?d actually liked, to the Bible on his night stand. Out the window, through the worn curtains, he could see the horse corral. If this was Vharaj?s idea of a mind game, he had no idea what the alien was getting at. This place held only security, and old, sad memories.

    And yet...this didn?t feel like something in his head. Despite the fact that he knew that his mother?s ranch?like everything else on Shadow?was nothing but a blackened, bombed-out ruin this was perhaps the most real anything he?d experienced had ever felt.

    ?Alice Through the Looking Glass. Odd book, but I always liked it. Lewis Carroll was a bit of a nutter. Mind you, he made a good tea.?

    Mal twisted around on the bed to see the Doctor standing on the other side of the room. He knew it was the Doctor, in the same way he felt that this creepifying, real-even-though-it-couldn?t-be thing was really happening. But the man standing a few feet away from him didn?t look much like the Doctor he knew, for all that he seemed to be tall and skinny and wearing a suit of some kind. In fact, Mal realized, if someone asked him to describe exactly the man before him, he wasn?t sure he could find words that made any kind of sense. He saw him, perceived him in a way he wouldn?t have thought possible. He saw...

    ...Something more than ancient. He saw eternal. He saw wisdom, and foolishness, compassion and cruelty. Towering arrogance, but still the capacity to be humbled, to admit a mistake. A child?s eternal wonder, and a desire to hope and believe, but battered and stained almost past the ability to forgive. Mercy, torn to shreds by tides of war and darkness. A man, full of weakness and frailty and sin?but for all that, he shone like the heart of a star.

    ?Well now,? breathed the Doctor, staring at Mal in return. ?This is something unexpected.? There was something like awe, or fear, in his voice. ?It seems we?ve been given a gift.?

    ?What are you?? Mal demanded, feeling that same strange, fearful awe steal over him.

    ?I?m...me,? said the Doctor. ?And...I think you?re really seeing that. The whole picture. What a curious thing...? He was still staring at Mal in obvious fascination.

    ?The whole?what in the name of suo yo duh doh shr dang is going on here??

    ?Come on.? The Doctor held out a glowing hand. Mal eyed it suspiciously, but took it and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. The Doctor steered him toward the full length mirror that vain-teenager Mal had hung on his closet door. ?Look in the mirror.?

    And Mal did. Even had he considered refusing, the gentle but inexorable pressure of that voice, of the hands on his shoulders, compelled obedience. His own reflection stared back at him. It had to be his reflection, though he couldn?t possibly...

    ?Tell me what you see, Malcolm Reynolds,? said the Doctor?s voice in his ear. ?Better yet, tell me what you really see.?

    ?That can?t be me.? Mal stared in fascination. ?But I?you?we?re the same.? Well, not quite the same. But he saw something as shining as the Doctor, looking back at him from the mirror. Perhaps a little less battered and stained, and the darkness there did not run so deep?the result of a shorter life, maybe??but equally glorious and every bit
  10. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Chapter Thirty: Redemption

    Heaven bend to take my hand
    And lead me through the fire
    Be the long awaited answer
    To a long and painful fight
    Truth be told I tried my best
    But somewhere long the way
    I got caught up in all there was to offer
    But the cost was so much more than I could bear
    ?Sarah McLachlan, ?Fallen?

    The worst hangover of Mal?s life had been the summer he turned eighteen when he, in some gorram stupid idea of demonstrating adult-ness had gone out and gotten into his Uncle Hap?s store of apple moonshine. His ma?s complete lack of sympathy the morning after had not noticeably helped.

    This...felt worse. And that was saying something. Felt as though someone had been stirring his brains with a stick...

    And there was something else, nagging just at the edge of his brainpan. Something had happened. Something wonderful, and terrible, hovering right beyond conscious memory...
    He sat bolt upright, ignoring both the shrieking protests of his muscles and the nausea threatening to overwhelm him. He caught a confused, blurred glimpse of Inara?s face, and River?s, before his eyes fell on the still shape of blue suit and unruly brown hair a few feet away. His breath stopped. No, that can?t have been real...

    The bulk of blue cloth stirred, and the Doctor pushed himself up onto his forearms, groaning and clutching his head. ?What the hell...?? His eyes lifted, and met Mal?s, and his eyebrows snapped together in a frown. ?Hang on, this isn?t right...? He pushed himself up further. ?My God...? he breathed. ?Vharaj...?

    Mal followed his gaze, and saw a pitiful heap of blue-brown feathers. Just beyond stood McKinney and his pals, staring down in shock.

    ?Mal??

    He turned to see Inara, her great dark eyes full of tears. He felt vaguely guilty?dammit, he?d gone and made her cry...But then she was in his arms, holding on so tightly he wasn?t sure where she ended and he began. And there was River, his albatross, smiling and throwing her arms around them both. Simon was there a moment later, joining the heap that was rapidly threatening to smother Mal. ?If y?all don?t get off me, you?re gonna need another miracle,? he gasped, but he was smiling. He didn?t even really mind Simon, though he was far more interested in hugging Inara, thank you so much.

    But there was something else that needed answering. Mal disentangled himself from his crewmates?and where were the other three??and climbed painfully to his feet. He crossed to where the Doctor knelt beside the Mokshar, his head bowed. McKinney and the others backed nervously away as Mal approached. He ignored them. ?He?s dead, ain?t he??

    The Doctor nodded, and lifted grave eyes to Mal?s. ?It seems, in the end, he chose to let his soul shine.?

    He said nothing more, but he didn?t need to. Mal, with a flash of memory that brought chills to his skin, realized what the Doctor had meant by ?too sacred to remember.? Something impossible to put words to?and he knew he would never speak of it with anyone else. Even the Doctor, who had been there. ?Does it make it right, what he did before??

    ?No. But it is, perhaps, an atonement of sorts. I...hope it?s so.? He reached out to touch the dead man?s crest. ?I forgive you,? he said softly.

    Mal offered the Doctor a hand. As he pulled the other man up he said, ?Do you really mean that? That you forgive him??

    ?You know, I think I really do,? said the Doctor, looking faintly surprised. ?I...didn?t think I had any forgiveness left in me.? He smiled. ?I think I may have learned something, too, Malcolm Reynolds.?

    ?As I understand it, Doc, that?s something of the point of bein? here.?

    ?You?re probably right. And don?t call me ?Doc.?? He glanced over at the dead Vharaj?s partners-in-atrocity. ?Now what about you lot, hmmm??

    ?Please, let me handle them.?

    They turned to see a small, slender man in an extremely filthy uniform enter from the hall. Behind him came Zoe, Jayne, and Kaylee, and with them a number of other men?also in bloody, stained uniforms. None of them looked ter
  11. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Epilogue: The Meaning of Freedom

    Through this world I've stumbled
    So many times betrayed
    Trying to find an honest word to find
    The truth enslaved
    Oh, you speak to me in riddles,
    And you speak to me in rhymes
    My body aches to breathe your breath
    Your words keep me alive...
    ?Sarah McLachlan, ?Possession?

    Inara found Mal on the catwalk, watching the rest of the crew play a ball game down below in the hold. The Doctor had, with very little pleading from Kaylee, gamely put on a t-shirt in lieu of his usual button-down and joined in. He was not, Inara noticed, proving much of an asset to his team, although he seemed to be very good at tripping up Jayne. The game itself was extremely lopsided, since Zoe couldn?t play and it was, with the addition of the Doctor, now uneven. But so far as she had ever been able to tell, the game didn?t have any rules anyway, and so it hardly mattered.

    ?You should join in,? she told Mal, coming up beside him. ?It looks like Jayne and Simon are outnumbered.?

    ?It?s good for ?em,? said Mal, smiling faintly. He looked less tired, with nearly three days? recovery behind him. She could not quite dislodge the memory of his dead face, though. ?Jayne should always be outnumbered, anyway,? he added. ?That?s a law of the universe. Or it should be.?

    She smiled at this, and they spent several minutes? comfortable silence watching the noisy game below.

    ?I offered him a place with us, you know,? said Mal finally. ?The Doctor. I told him he could stay.?

    ?He turned you down.?

    ?Yeah. Can?t say I was terribly surprised; man?s a born leader. Can you imagine the kinda ruckus raised, havin? he and I on the same boat? He looked pleased, though.?

    ?I think...? Inara paused, considering. ?I think he must be terribly lonely. I can?t imagine what it must be like, to be the only one left of all your kind. To live so long, and see so much. I remember, when he faced down Vharaj, that I couldn?t believe I?d ever thought him human. He was so...different. Terrifying. But watching him now, down there, playing, I wonder if what I saw then was only my imagination.?

    ?He is different,? said Mal. ?But in the ways that really count, he?s just like us, ?Nara. Just like us,? he repeated, softly, and glancing at him Inara saw that his gaze was very distant, seeing something in his thoughts, or his memory, something that brought a light to his eyes she?d never seen before. After a moment, though, he seemed to shake himself. ?I told him he was welcome to come and visit us anytime,? he said. ?He said he would, and gladly. Apparently, he promised Kaylee a trip in his ship, and he?s been badgering Zoe about baby names since we left Paquin, so I expect he?ll turn up once she?s had the kid. Man got downright giddy about it. It?s a wonder Zoe hasn?t shot him yet, way he?s been ?suggesting? names. He does seem to be trying not to give away the baby?s sex, even though he?s coming down awfully heavy on the girl names. He keeps it up, and she might just shove him out the airlock.?

    Inara laughed. ?I thought she seemed irritated.?

    ?I hope he does come back, and welcome,? said Mal, ?and that ain?t something I say about many folk?though I hope he won?t bring such trouble with him again.?

    ?Come on, Mal, that wasn?t his fault.?

    ?Maybe not?but from what he?s said he surely does find it nonetheless.? He snorted softly. ?Though he was a big help smoothing things over with Badger.?

    Inara laughed. ?Yes, I saw that thing he hauled out of his ship. What was that, anyway? His explanation didn?t make any sense.?

    ?Near as I can tell, it?s some kind of toy he picked up on some alien planet?and I can?t tell you how weird it is hearin? me say that. Bio-technology, he called it. Looks real and acts real, but ain?t much more than a fancy robot. Badger was in transports over it, when I showed him the vid. I think he might even be so happy he springs a bonus on us.?

    ?Badger? Really??

    ?No.? Mal grinned. ?But seein? as our luck has actually been something resembling good these past few days, a man can hope. I find
  12. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    Frosty! [:D]

    I eventually found this story at ff.net and finished reading it there. :p I figured you'd forgotten to post it here as well... :p

    It's lovely, the ending is dramatic, and I love the scenes inside the TARDIS. :) And actually, I might go back and re-read the whole thing, it's been a while since I finished it... :p

    He is indeed! :D And that cliffhanger at the end of episode 3 made me scream at my laptop "YOU BASTARDS! YOU EVIL BASTARDS!!!" for about five minutes. :p It's so cruel of Moffat and Gatiss, making us wait for more episodes until next year! Luckily, there WILL be more episodes, thank BBC, and I hope they'll have more this time. I know they're 90 minutes long, but surely they can manage at least 6? Although I'd rather have less GOOD episodes than more CRAPPY episodes...

    Needless to say, I'm now in love with Benedict Cumberbatch and totally want him to play the next incarnation of the Master. :D Benedict DID hint heavily at appearing in multiple episodes of Doctor Who in an interview, after all... and I think he'd make a great Master to Matt Smith's Doctor.

    And my currently top favourite Sherlock quote:

    "Are these human eyes?"
    "Put those back!"
    "They were in the microwave!"
    "It's an experiment."

    [face_laugh]
  13. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    Oooh. I haven't seen any interviews...but I'd *love* to see him as the Master. Or maybe even any kind of villain/guest star/companion.

    I love the bit with the head in the fridge. And the expression on John's face when he opens the fridge to find the head staring back...priceless.
  14. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    It was in this interview. When asked if he was going to appear in a DW episode, he replied, with a rather meaningful look, "Not AN episode."


    "It's a severed head!"
    "Just tea for me, thanks."

    [face_laugh]
  15. Darth_Bliss Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 22, 2008
    star 1
    Wow... Thanks for a really, really good story! I found it two days ago and have now been sitting up waaay too late two nights in a row to read it. Thank you for posting it. =D=
  16. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    On Cumberbatch appearing in Who: Squeee!!!

    Darth Bliss: thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    For those who may be interested: The Man With No Name has just been converted into audio format, and will soon be available on an audio fanfic website. I didn't do the work of recording it (I didn't even know there was such a thing as audio fanfic), but the lady who did the job had done an excellent job. Stay tuned for the link!
  17. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    Audio fanfics? Now that's an interesting idea. :) Then again, if you can have normal audiobooks, why couldn't you have audiofanfics? :p Can't wait to see... err, hear it! ;)

    Oh, and re: Cumberbatch on Who, I think this picture is full of win:

    [image=http://a0.twimg.com/profile_images/1090739712/Heroes_final.jpg]

    Someone titled it "The Doctor, The Master, and The Moff". :p That would be fantastic, let's hope that Moffat will come up with something terribly clever and enjoyable.
  18. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    And here at last is the link to the audiofic site where "The Man With No Name" has been uploaded.

    http://audiofic.jinjurly.com/man-with-no-name


    Remember, though, it's pretty much a novel-length story, so the audio version is 9+ hours. Personally, I'm a fan of the listen-to-it-driving-to-and-from-work thing. :)

    And many thanks and credit goes to Liannabob, who read and recorded the fic. She did a great job, overall, and I'm quite chuffed with the results. Someday I may get off my lazy butt and record it myself, but only after I've seriously dusted off my ability to do British accents...:D Anyway, I've got a graphic-novel version of it to hammer out first.
  19. Fanficfan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2005
    star 3
    You know, I was truly beginning to wonder if I'd ever see the end of this fic. I was ust hanging out in the RPF and I thought to myself "I wonder if there's any new stuff in the NSWFF forums."
    I actually did a little happy dance when I saw a post from you here. Which was nothing compared to the (frankly quite embarressing) noise I made when I discovered you'd posted the completed work.
    Absolutely loved the story, especially the Doctor & River. You write those two so perfectly.
    All-time favourite part though, when the Doctor got Vharaj inside his head. There's not a power in the 'verse can stop the Doctor when he's pissed off and Vharaj certainly managed that.
    Thanks for not leaving this one unfinished, I'm off to FF.n to favourite this one.
    fanficfan
  20. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    Finally got the time to finish this! I have to say, very well built story: plot worked out very well indeed! I particularly liked how you managed to just nail the characters in the beginning when you made the introductions - it really was like wathcing an episode from Firefly. =D=

    Consider yourself watched from now on...[face_thinking] :D
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