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Story [Firefly/Serenity] Underneath - On All Hallows Eve, the crew of Serenity experience strange visions.

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by madman007, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Good evening.....sorry, was trying out my Alfred Hitchcock impression. Just in time for Halloween, I came up with what may be my first true horror story. Of course, by the end I revert to my usual profound ways. Enjoy and review as you see fit!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Underneath
    Two months after the events of Serenity

    Of all the system planets that Malcolm Reynolds had been to in the Rim worlds, the one in particular named Ghost had not been one of them. Situated in the Kalidasa System, it was the farthest away. They collected the goods on Carter Moon and headed out. That was nearly a month of flying in the dark. Mal had wondered if the payload was worth the coin. The product they were carrying was rather strange, even taking in his crew's history of finding strange things to smuggle.

    The payload consisted of several large crates that contained costumes of various types. Apparently, the villagers of Ghost had a ritual that they continued annually. Somehow it involved costumes. Some were controversial. There were skeletons. There were geisha costumes that would embarrass Companions across the 'Verse, but not the one on board. There were vampires, werewolves, ghosts, which was ironic given the name of the place they were taking them to. There was even a series of strange plastic masks with holes. Those made Jayne ask, "What's so scary about those?"

    River, their new pilot, did research on Ghost. The people there were common folk. Farmers, mostly. There wasn't much in the way of electricity, thank you Alliance. What electricity they did have ran on gas powered generators. River said the people were very much into the traditions of Earth That Was. Mal had hoped the people weren't too much into tradition. Traditionalists were usually pessimistic about the future and optimistic about the past. The plan was to drop down, unload the payload, get paid, and vamoose off the planet. That was the plan.

    River landed Serenity with an ease unlike their previous pilot. River had a seventh sense for many things and one of them was for maneuvering the ship. Mal couldn't praise her in front of his second, Zoe. In fact, to even mention their former pilot was not a good thing around Zoe, even if it was good. Mal chalked that up to the thick skin Zoe developed during the war. Once they landed, Mal and Zoe met with their contacts on Ghost, which was more than a one street town. The fellow paid them and had men come and take the crates out of the hangar. The man in charge seemed to be in a hurry. It seemed they needed the costumes that night. Nothing like cutting it close, Mal thought.

    Once all of the crates were gone out of the hangar, Mal instructed River and Kaylee to start the engines and get the Hell off of Ghost. And that was when chaos began.

    River tried the controls to begin the extenders' thrusts. Nothing happened. She called out to Kaylee on the ship's intercom. "Kaylee, anything wrong on your end?"

    Kaylee's voice beamed back, "Nothing wrong back here, River."

    "I'm trying the correct ignition sequence but nothing's responding."

    "Hmmm, let me look." The engineer took a few moments and then said back, "I don't see anything wrong. Let me try a cold start." She chuckled. "Couldn't try this a few months ago." Kaylee was referring to the full upgrade courtesy of the Operative. Included in that upgrade was a compression coil that was finally replaced after, well, Kaylee lost count on how long Serenity needed it. Along with it were two new extenders that provided twice as much thrust than the previous damaged models. Kaylee was so proud that Serenity was flying so much better.

    Until now. After the cold start failed, Kaylee searched for the usual culprits for a complete stall. She came up empty. Everything was in tip top shape. She was afraid that the problem could be the external power conductors, which meant she had to climb out onto the ship to get to them. Good thing they weren't in the black. Zero G maintenance was not her favorite thing to do.

    Mal came into the engine room. "Kaylee. Talk to me. What's happening with m- our ship? And please tell me it's not the catalyzer again."

    She laughed humorlessly. "No, Captain, it's not the catalyzer. But that don't matter anyway since we're in atmo and breathing regular air." She smiled sweetly at him.

    Mal paused. "I knew that. But what is wrong?"

    She sighed, knowing that she was about to disappoint him. "I don't know. Yet! I think I may have to go outside and check the fuses there."

    "Then you best get on doing that. Don't wanna be here longer than we shouldn't have been."

    After several hours of Kaylee sussing out the problem and not finding it, the rest of the crew went into the town's bistro and bar for food and drink. They were currently stuck on Ghost. Mal noted that Zoe didn't come with them. She stayed mostly in her quarters during down times. That was how Zoe operated. It was near twilight and the crew began spotting children around the town dressed in the very costumes that they supplied earlier that day. They were stopping at every dwelling and yelling something and the people inside dropped items inside each of the childrens' bags.

    While Jayne was working on a plump steak, he looked on. "What are those brats doing? And what is it are the people givin' them?"

    Inara smiled and explained, "They're Trick Or Treating."

    "Trick or whating?" Jayne's voice was muffled by a piece of meat.

    Simon was nursing a drink and said, "Halloween. It's an ancient holiday from Earth That Was. I figured that was what the costumes were for. River and I used to dress up when we were kids on Osiris."

    River said to her brother, "Except you were a zombie, which has an impossibility factor too high to count."

    Simon smiled and said back, "That was sort of the point, mèi mei."

    Inara said, "The children go to houses and yell 'trick or treat' and the owners put candy in their bags. I've seen some of the candy earlier today in a shop here. It's homemade. Confectioners sugar and honey. The recipe is quite simple."

    Jayne repeated, "So you dress up, knock on strangers doors, yell at 'em, and they give you candy. Now that's a holiday." Jayne added as an afterthought, "They ever give money?"

    Inara said, "Maybe a little."

    Jayne scoffed. "Not much profit there."

    Simon joked, "Sure, Jayne, you could join them. Best thing is, you wouldn't need a disguise. You're scary enough without a costume."

    "I'll show you scary."

    Mal asked, "For what purpose was this holiday?"

    Inara stated from memory. "It was originated by the Celtics on Earth That Was in its ancient times. It was on All Hallows Eve, which happens to be today. The Celtics believed that on October 31st, the dead, demons, witches, and goblins roamed free after midnight. The trick or treat was an offering to ward off those creatures for the night. Mostly they offered food to the supernatural to go away. Over time, food became candy as the treat."

    Jayne chewed while asking, "Anyone ever choose the trick part?"

    Simon answered, "Oh, there were tricks done. Not that I'm going to tell you so you don't get any ideas."

    Mal started laughing. "And they all believed this?"

    Inara shrugged. "Whether or not they believed it, they still did it. I suspect the children only did it for the free candy."

    Simon continued. "As I understand it, the Alliance banned the holiday in most core worlds. They don't seem to like free giveaways. Even to children."

    Mal said, "Hence the smuggling of the costumes."

    River stated, "They believe here on Ghost. They believe the stories of the other world. Under reality. Strange occurrences."

    The bartender spoke out. "She's right. Ever since I came here there have been strange goings on here on Ghost. 'Spect it's the name itself."

    "What kind of things?" asked Mal.

    The man shrugged. "Things shakin' for no reason. Strange moaning sounds when there's nobody there. And...equipment not starting when everything seems fine."

    Mal shook his head. "I'll never believe in such things. If I can't see it, it ain't there."

    River countered, "An object not seen is still there."

    Jayne said to her, "And I thought you were done with all that nonsense talk after Miranda."

    "Not nonsense. Only truth. In any world. Ominous things after zero dark."

    "Well, that's just fine," said Mal. "Let's dive into something more tangible. Has Kaylee figured out why Serenity ain't starting?"

    Simon answered since he was the one in the crew who was closer to Kaylee now. "She's spent all day trying to understand the why. She is now spent herself." Simon got up from his chair. "I better go to her. I'm sure she's rattled." He exited the bar.

    Mal stood up himself. "It's about time we pack it up for the night. Come on, it's getting late. We need to rest tonight so we can get out of here tomorrow." Not everyone began to leave. "Jayne..."

    "I'm still enjoyin' my steak."

    "Jayne," Mal demanded, "you're done with your steak. Let's go."

    Jayne pushed back his seat in an frustrated motion and got up to leave. Then they all left.

    Kaylee was at her wit's end. She had tried everything she thought of what the cause of the stall could be. She had River start the engines again before she went off with the others to eat. Still no go. No sound coming from the engine. No firing of the thrusters. Nothing at all. That in of itself was strange. They had more than enough fuel for the trip all the way out here. She finally leaned on the power crank and stopped. There was only silence with everyone off the ship.

    That's when she heard it.

    It was a small scurrying sound. She tried to focus on the noise to find out where it was coming from. The noise continued in a stop and start manner. She followed the noise to the main pressure gauges along the side wall. Then she saw it.

    A single medium sized black beetle.

    "Oh, oh. We have a stowaway. Hold still, you little chóng hài." She grabbed an industrial sized wrench and approached the insect slowly. She got into position and raised the wrench. She quickly slammed it down on the beetle with a loud clang of metal on bug. "No one allowed in here but me and my crew, buddy." She reached for a paper cup she used for water at lunch - how many hours ago? She trapped the now dead bug and collected it in the cup. She dumped it into the incinerator. Then she heard more scurrying. "Great, you brought your friends with you." Kaylee turned to look and gasped.

    There were now several beetles in the engine room. A least a thousand of the beetles were crawling all over the main engine and the controls along the walls. She looked up and there were more beetles running over one another on the ceiling. She was too stunned with fear to move. That is until one beetle fell from the ceiling and landed on her shoulder. Kaylee shrieked and performed the insect-on-me dance. Once it was off, she ran out of the engine room, screaming.

    She ran right into Simon. Instant recognition got a hold of her and she immediately hugged him.

    "Kaylee, what's wrong?"

    "Bugs! Little beetles. They're everywhere in the engine room! Thousands."

    Simon broke away from her but she nearly stopped him from going forward. "Kaylee, let me check."

    "No. Simon, don't go. Don't leave me."

    "Don't worry. I just want to check." He walked forward toward the edge of the doorway to the engine room. He looked around and then looked back at Kaylee.

    Kaylee nodded confidently. "See? What did I tell you? Close the door so they can't get out."

    "I don't think I'll have to. There are no beetles in there."

    "What?" She came up behind him and peeked into the engine room. It was now devoid of all insects. The equipment sat in silence. "But they were just here all over. One even landed on me from the ceiling." She sighed heavily. "That makes no sense. They were in here seconds ago." She looked up at him and said, "I know what I saw."

    "Ok, ok. I believe you. But you know what else I believe? You need a break."

    "A break? I can't! The ship is doing something that I've never seen before. I've checked every system inside and out, and that's literally. Serenity is not cooperating with her engines and I have no clue why. On top of all that, everyone wants to leave and they can't leave until I find out what's wrong, and-"

    Simon immediately shut her up with a kiss planted on her lips. She stayed quiet for several minutes. He parted away for a moment to say, "Let me correct myself. You don't need a break. You need a distraction."

    Kaylee uttered dreamily, "Oh, I love your distractions."

    "See, the brain needs to relax the same way muscles do. The amino acids in muscles act the same wa-"

    This time, she kissed him to interrupt him. "About that distraction...let's go to your place. Now!"

    After he returned back from eating, Jayne couldn't sleep. He began to lift small weights in the hangar of Serenity. He had all but stopped lifting bench weights for the simple fact that he no longer had a spotter. That had been Shepherd Book's job, and each of them would return the favor. Jayne had Simon try spotting him once but he almost dropped the weight on Jayne's chest. That job for Simon ended quick.

    Jayne had been lifting weights as everyone else was sleeping or other. It was quiet in the hangar without the sound of the engines humming. Which was exactly the moment when he heard someone approaching. Jayne dropped the weights on the bench.

    "Mal?" No answer. "Simon?" He called out before he realized that Simon may be too busy with Kaylee right now. "Anyone there?" He was hoping for some answer back, even if it was River. He heard footsteps on the metal grate of the floor. Jayne grabbed the shotgun that he hid under the weight bench. He loudly cocked it.

    "All right, I don't have time for games. If I don't hear an answer in the next five seconds, you'll be screaming your answer in pain. And I do love giving pain."

    There was more silence, until he heard footsteps behind him.

    Jayne did a quick about face and was about to fire his shotgun before he saw who was standing in front of him.

    The man had scruffy grey clothes that was covered in dust. His shirt was torn in places on the arms. There was dried blood circling his jaw. His eyes were vacant. His flesh was the color of decay. What tipped off his identity to Jayne was the red bandana tied around his forehead. The man never went anywhere without that rag on his head.

    "Temperance McCloud?" asked Jayne, unbelieving.

    The only noise coming out of the man was a low moan.

    Jayne chuckled. "Guess you can't talk from that choking I gave you. Which makes this encounter a mite impossible. You're dead."

    The corpse started to come toward him.

    "Stop right there, or I'll shoot." He paused before realizing, "Course, not sure what that'd do to a dead man." The corpse of Temp kept coming forward. Jayne raised his shotgun. "I mean it, Temp, I'll shoot you this time instead of choking you. You do know I had to, right? That money we found on Silverhold was too good to share." Jayne then muttered, "I'm prob'ly talkin' to myself here. You can't be real."

    Then he heard another voice that was more familiar, but no less possible.

    You have to believe, St. Jayne.

    Jayne was confused. He swore he thought the voice sounded like...

    "Book?"

    Temp then lunged at him and Jayne fired a shot. The corpse of Temperance McCloud instantly disappeared.

    Jayne looked around to check if dead Temp wasn't hiding anyplace else. He was alone in the hangar once again.

    Jayne muttered with a slight dose of fear, "Well...so that happened."

    Zoe retreated to the cockpit after she spent most of the time in her quarters. She didn't feel like eating so she didn't join the rest of the crew at the bistro. She didn't feel much like doing anything during the past two months besides her duties as second-in-command on Serenity. She hated long periods of waiting. That meant she had too much time with her thoughts. Thoughts of Wash.

    She shook them off once she entered the cockpit. Immediately, she noticed Wash's dinosaurs on the main console. At first, she felt nostalgic, as if Wash had left them there while he was on a mission with Mal or on a spare equipment hunt with Kaylee. He'll be back to put them away. That thought lasted only a few seconds and reality came back for a swift blow to her stomach. She now knew he would never come back.

    She started picking up the toys and suddenly wondered how they were taken out in the first place. The little one, their new pilot, must have been curious as she always was. The small metal container that Zoe kept them in was nearby. She had the notion to put them away in her quarters. No, she thought. They belong here on the bridge. When she put the last of the plastic dinosaurs into the metal box, she closed the hinged lid and put the box in the cabinet behind her and locked it.

    Sorry, hun, I'm just putting your toys away.

    She was tired but she didn't want to go back to her quarters. For some reason, she could feel Wash better here in the cockpit, where he was eighty percent of the time. She felt the tears coming but quickly prevented them from spilling. She couldn't confide in anyone else on the ship. Certainly not Mal. She had to put on a brave face for the crew. One tear drop and she knew she would lose it. She then decided against staying in the cockpit. To many close memories. She headed toward her quarters when she turned around to take one more look at where Wash thrived for all these years. She turned...and gasped.

    The dinosaurs that she just put away in a box and locked in the cabinet seconds ago were once again laid out on the main console. Her mouth gaped open as she shut her eyes and looked again. The toys were still there. And she wasn't asleep. Her confusion got the better of her.

    Then she heard it. A voice that she found all too familiar, yet impossible to be real.

    Figured on staying a while, babe.

    "Wash? Is that you?" She meant to say it out loud but it came out a hoarse whisper.

    She focused on the toys as she edged closer to them. The metal box she had placed them in laid on the console next to the dinosaurs. Her concentration was on full alert. Then...

    The sound of a shotgun blast startled her so much that she shrieked.

    The shotgun blast woke Mal up from a semi-sleep. He had been hovering in that state between awake and deep sleep when he heard the shot. He sat up, got dressed, and grabbed his pistol. He was about to climb the ladder to the main corridor when he heard it.

    Mal.

    A voice from his past. A voice that he should not have been hearing. Mal stepped away from the ladder and turned around. Disbelief filled his mind as he saw the figure whose voice he was hearing.

    Private Tracey Smith was standing on the opposite side of the room. He was pale and Mal could see the wound on his chest was in the later stages of decay. The wound that Mal created.

    Tracey spoke. You shot me, Mal. Why did you shoot me? I wanted to see my parents while I was still alive. Guess that's not happening anymore.

    Mal didn't dare answer it. It wasn't there. It wasn't real. Mal spoke, "You're not real. I don't believe in you."

    The corpse of Tracey began dissolving into the air until it completely disappeared. Then, Mal heard another all too familiar voice. This one was more assuring, though no less possible to exist.

    Belief, Mal. What did I tell you? Belief doesn't always mean belief in God.

    "Book?" Mal whispered.

    No answer.

    Mal switched on the intercom for the ship and announced, "Everybody meet in the hangar."

    Mal approached the walkway stairs in the hangar as he saw Jayne look bewildered while carrying his shotgun. The smell of gunpowder filled the air, thus proving that the shot they heard came from Jayne.

    "Jayne," Mal cried. "Any particular reason you're shooting that thing in my hangar?"

    Jayne answered with shaky confidence, "It misfired."

    "And the odds of one of your guns misfiring is about the same as me finding another wife on Triumph." He descended down the stairs and stopped in front of Jayne. The others started appearing in the hangar.

    "Honestly, Mal, I really don't know what I was shooting at."

    "That, I can believe." Mal paused and said, "You saw something, didn't you?"

    Jayne's voice turned sheepish. "I might have."

    Mal looked around at the rest of them. The only one who wasn't present was their pilot, River. "Seems you may not have been the only one. Am I correct?"

    Kaylee admitted, "I saw beetles in the engine room."

    "Beetles?" Jayne asked.

    "Thousands of them. But they weren't really there."

    Simon said, "I just thought it came from her stress of the whole day. Has anyone else been seeing things?"

    Mal turned to his second. "Zoe?"

    "I...I thought I saw Wash's dinosaurs on the controls. After I just put them away."

    Mal said, "And I saw someone who was impossible to see anymore."

    "Me too," said Jayne. "It was one of my old partners."

    Simon asked, "Wait, do you mean everyone has had hallucinations tonight?"

    Inara spoke. "I didn't."

    Mal turned to Simon. "Is that even possible? Multiple people having hallucinations at the same time on the same night?"

    Simon went into Doctor mode. "There's many causes. Many of which I can rule out for all of you. None of you have Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Could be migraines, but the chance of four people having migraine's at the same time are slim."

    Jayne suggested, "Maybe the townsfolk put something in our drinks tonight. Some kind of drug."

    Kaylee raised her hand and said, "Except I didn't drink anything there, since I didn't leave Serenity all day."

    River entered the hangar from the med lab. "Not a drink. Not a disease. Forces from outside our realm."

    Mal dared to ask her, "Can you see them?"

    "Yes. And no."

    Jayne glanced at Mal. "You were expecting a sane answer?"

    "What are they, River?" asked Inara.

    "They are from underneath. They are here and not here."

    "Well, that clears that up," said Jayne.

    River continued. "They are here each for their purposes." She looked in turn at the ones who experienced the visions. To Kaylee she said, "Insecurity." To Mal she said, "Guilt." To Jayne she said, "Fear." And to Zoe she said, "And grief."

    Jayne asked her as if she were a five year old, "Are the people from underneath still here?"

    "No. Lessons learned."

    "Were you able to stop them?" asked Mal.

    "I didn't. Our crew members did." River started climbing the stairs.

    The rest of the crew was confused. It was Simon who asked his sister, "You mean us?"

    River answered back with a smile, "No silly. Our former crew members."

    Mal asked her, "How is that possible, Albatross?"

    She reached the upper level of the walkway and turned back to Mal. "Belief, Captain. It doesn't always mean belief in God."

    Mal whispered, "Book."

    Jayne said, "Yeah, I thought I heard Book, too."

    River said casually, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a ship to fly." She disappeared into the corridor to the cockpit.

    As soon as she was gone, the next sound they heard were the engines of the extenders firing up. All were astonished but no more than Kaylee, who put on the brightest smile. "We're back in business."

    The sound of River over the intercom was heard. "Kaylee, if you would be so kind to man the engines."

    Kaylee shouted, "Aye, aye Captain!" On a raised eyebrow from Mal, Kaylee corrected, "I mean pilot!" She kissed Simon on the lips before she said, "Excuse me, but I have to help fly a ship." She quickly ran up the stairs to the engine room.

    Jayne yelled, "Finally! Let's get off this rock."

    Zoe came up to Mal. "Book? And Wash?" she whispered. "Former crew."

    It took a few minutes before Mal could admit, "Earlier in my room, I saw Tracey. I could see where I shot him. He was blaming me for not being able to see his parents before he..." He looked down at the grated floor but went on. "I heard the voice of Book. He said the exact same thing River said about belief."

    Zoe said, "I heard Wash's voice. It was as real as if he were right in front of me. Said he was going to stay awhile."

    "Did we really hear them, Zoe?"

    "Well, we are on a planet named Ghost, Captain."

    "Remind me to never come here again. Ever." He paused and asked, "Think they stalled the engines?"

    "Can't say."

    Inara came up to them and quoted, "Just as no one can be forced into belief, so no one can be forced into unbelief. Sigmund Freud. The answers all depend on you."

    Mal breathed out and finally said, "If that's the case, then I do believe that Serenity is very well protected."

    THE END
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
    pronker and Mira_Jade like this.
  2. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    =D= Very, very good and timely this week. I liked this part
    because Firefly, IMHO, was unlike Star Trek in that we didn't hear Engineering Division tech heads spouting pscience but went with the 'it just won't work don't know why' aspect. *although it's been ages since I watched Firefly*[face_alien]

    For a moment after reading this
    it seemed the story might veer into a truly gruesome fate that awaited the two because of Halloween The Movie's slant that any canoodlers were doomed simply because of being lovers. Glad it didn't happen and the mood stayed spooky without gore![face_pumpkin]
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
    madman007 likes this.