Chapter: 7 / ?
Fandom: Firefly / Serenity
Characters/Pairing: Crew, Mal/Inara
Disclaimer: I don't own Firefly. It's just for fun.
Summary: A few years post Serenity the movie. Totally AU and made up from there.
Warning: Non-con and torture ahead and probably more to come. I’m evil, what can I say?
Previous Chapters: 1|2|3|4|5|6
According to River, nightfall came at exactly the right time. But where Zoe was concerned it took entirely too long to arrive. Her patience was wearing thin. Luckily for Jayne though, it came just in time to save him any retaliation for Zoe’s annoyance. She was angry that they were even here when Mal was being held by the Alliance. It made her easily irritable and Jayne’s consistent grumbling only added to her ire. But deep down, Zoe knew that Mal would want her here. He would want her to make sure that Inara was safe first. She knew Mal too well and as per her usual, she was willing to do what he wanted.
They easily scaled the fence under the veil of night, Jayne taking out the first security guard with the grip of a pistol to the back of the man’s head. River took care of two more with her bare hands just as swiftly and efficiently as Jayne had with his pistol. Zoe was thankful to see that the girl was in top form, completely understanding of what their mission here was. And even now, two years after the Miranda incident, she marveled at River’s skill and grace.
The trio stayed close to the carefully manicured brush as they crossed the land between the fence and the house. They were less likely to be noticed this way. At the back entrance there were three guards. Two stood by the entrance and one was just beginning to patrol down the long stone pathway that led to the back gate. Zoe pointed Jayne to the left and River to the right. Both took off in opposite directions and Zoe laid in wait for the man on patrol, sinking further back into the bush so as not to be seen until the last minute.
Out of the corner of her eye she could see the shadowed figures of Jayne and River scaling the back porch on either side of the house to confront the two guards there. The minute the patroller looked back and noticed the scuffle on the porch, Zoe pounced. She stood and used her rifle to put a choke hold on the man. It held him for a moment before he flipped her over and onto the ground. He drew a knife which Zoe kicked out of his hand into the nearby brush as she began to get back on her feet. On the way up she grabbed her rifle again and stood, using that momentum to slam the back end into his face.
The minute he fell back into the stone walkway she knew that she had him. She aimed the barrel of her rifle at the man and shot. She knew that Mal would have just knocked him out. Mal would have stopped her from shooting unnecessarily. But Mal wasn’t here. And she had lost a certain amount of restraint when Wash had died, a restraint that she had yet to regain without Mal to reign her in. Without a second thought or a moment of hesitation, she turned to walk up to the porch. The other two guards had been knocked out. Jayne and River stood there waiting for her both looking inherently proud of their work.
They stepped inside of the open entryway that spanned the length of the house, front to back. It was dark save for a few nightlights that illuminated the priceless artifacts and artwork that adorned the space.
“This place bein’ all hugemongous, how’re we supposed to know where ‘Nara’s doin’ her whorin’?” Jayne whispered.
“Upstairs. To the left.” It didn’t matter that River wore large combat boots. She still moved light and graceful to the staircase almost completely silent as she ascended the steps two by two.
Zoe and Jayne followed close behind, not quite so silent but stealthy enough due to experience in working on Serenity with Mal. “How’d you know that? Somethin’ the voices in that moonbrain head of yours tell you?”
River glanced back to Jayne, her expression blank and her voice matter of fact even when in a whisper. “I saw the light on from outside.”
Smirking, Zoe glanced to Jayne who was rolling his eyes. They continued up the stairs behind River. The girl didn’t stop until she came to a door at the left end of the hallway where a light was indeed on and noises could be heard. Zoe put her back to the wall beside the door and after a heartbeat peeked inside to find Atherton on top of Inara on the couch.
The most wicked of grins spread over Jayne’s lips as he listened. “Sounds like she’s workin’.” He whispered so softly that the words were almost just mouthed.
“Reckon it’s better to have the upper hand.” Zoe replied just as quietly.
She looked to River and tilted her head slightly, motioning for her to enter the room since she could do so with more stealth than she or Jayne could. Waiting for River to gain ground into the room, she nodded at Jayne and they both walked in, weapons drawn and aimed at Atherton’s back. “Think maybe you should be gettin’ off of her.”
Atherton sat up atop Inara and looked back to Zoe and Jayne. He rolled his eyes and began to stand up and pull his pants back up. “I should have seen this coming. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have thought that your Captain could give orders even from the confines of an Alliance prison.”
“’Lo ‘Nara, how’s the whorin’ goin’?” Jayne couldn’t resist asking, his lips curled into an amused smirk.
“I think that you can see how it’s going.” Inara sat up, shifting the pitiful excuse for a gown that she wore so that it covered everything that needed to be covered. She cast Zoe a look that was pure gratitude and she couldn’t hide the tears that settled in her eyes. She didn’t let them fall though, not yet.
Zoe nodded her mutual understanding to Inara and then looked back to Atherton. “He didn’t send us here. Just doin’ what’s right. Now are you gonna let us take her in a peaceful way or are you gonna give us some problems?”
“She came to me.” Atherton said, stepping forward and putting a hand back to push Inara back. “She’s mine. Tell them, Inara.”
The moment that Zoe said her name, River appeared seemingly out of nowhere behind Atherton. She landed a hard hit to the back of his head, causing him to sink to the floor unconscious. “It doesn’t make the right sounds.”
“Damn right it don’t.” Jayne answered, a sly grin curling over his lips. It was always fun to watch little River kick some man’s tail, especially when that tail wasn’t his. He looked to Inara. “Zoe here thought we should rescue you before we rescue Mal so as to make him not mad at us. Way I see it he’s gonna be mad at us either way… and he’ll sure as hell be mad at you for whorin’ yourself to this hundan.”
Inara smoothed out the short skirt she wore as best she could and stood up straight, her shoulders back and chin lifted. “I admit that it wasn’t one of my finer ideas. Thank you for coming for me.”
“Intention was good enough. But we’re not gonna get the Captain safe standin’ here talkin’ about how wrong you were.” The answer was blunt and made Zoe’s feelings on the whole situation known. She turned on her heel and started out of the room, a sneering Jayne on her heels.
River linked arms with Inara and they followed. “Zoe does make the right sounds. Time to be silent.”
“If only we could make Jayne be silent on the way back to the docks and Serenity.” Inara sighed, exhaling a slow breath of air. She just wanted to get back to the shuttle to pick up the shattered pieces of her dignity and put herself together again.
“I can knock him out with my thumb and forefinger.” The statement from River was matter of fact and deadpan.
Inara had to make herself remain quiet so as not to actually ask River to do so. She did smile though. She was going home.
Mal came awake with a start, the nightmares slowly melted away into the reality he was currently living. The floor was cold and wet beneath him. And he still felt the heavy metal shackles around his wrists and ankles. For the last two days he had awoken to the sounds of Admiral Wetherford turning the pages in his book. This time there was silence. Mal knew that that in no way meant that he was alone.
On both days he had been asked to repeat the words that now taunted and tormented him. He had been asked to pledge his loyalty to the Alliance. On the first day he had adamantly refused until they had drugged him again. His mind had slipped into the same hell, his nightmares magnified tenfold into a reality that he couldn’t escape. Peace had only come when he had given in. Yesterday it hadn’t taken the drugs to make him say the words. He tried to tell himself that they were just words. He didn’t have to believe them. But that lie didn’t quell the way his heart broke a little every time he said them. It didn’t change the way his soul and his resolve dissolved just a little bit each time he remembered that he had given in no matter the horrid circumstances.
He knew that this was Admiral Wetherford’s plan. It was a game. Most people in the Verse didn’t understand how Mal worked. While he didn’t welcome it, he could withstand most any physical pain. The way to cut him down wasn’t with physical torture. He had been there and done that many times over. And he had made it through. Mal’s weakness didn’t lie in the physical. It lay in the depths of his mind, in memories of innocent blood shed on his watch, in less than stellar choices he had made and in his own failings as a man, a soldier and a captain. They were dark thoughts that he normally kept buried deep inside hidden away from everyone.
Mal could fight off almost anything. And he wasn’t a man who would ever easily give up or give in. But a drug that destroyed his control over himself and brought those dark thoughts to the forefront turning them into something seemingly tangible that everyone around him could see… he couldn’t fight that. It wasn’t for lack of trying.
“Just because you’re still doesn’t mean that I don’t know that you’re awake, Malcolm.”
“Aiya.” Mal whispered so quietly and yet the curse seemed to echo off of the walls anyway. The Admiral was indeed in the room, sitting behind him in the same chair that he had occupied the last week and a half. “You just don’t stop, do you?”
Case chuckled and curled his fingers around the closed book in his lap. “Not when I have a particular favorite, no. I admittedly become a bit obsessive when a prisoner grasps my interest as you have. Although I must also admit that you’re losing some of your spark.”
“Conjure torture’ll do that to a person.” The words were said matter of fact and dry. Mal didn’t turn over to look at the man behind him. Instead he stayed on his side with his scarred back to the Admiral. It hurt to move. It hurt to think of moving. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think.
“Not just torture, Malcolm. My understanding is that you’ve been tortured before. We’re changing you here… permanently.” Uncrossing one leg from over the other, Case leaned forward in his chair, studying Mal’s demeanor. He was trying to figure him out, to know what his next move should be.
He tapped one index finger over the edge of his book. “Why don’t we start today with your telling me what you know I want to hear?”
Mal smirked; a forced sound in a veiled attempt to keep some of his own self through what he knew was coming. Case was right in one thing: this was indeed permanently changing him. Mal just wasn’t sure what it was changing him into. “You mean that bit about where you’re wantin’ my loyalty to be at? That what you mean?”
“I think you know what I mean. And what you say next will decipher which path we will take in our agenda for the day.” Case answered. “So choose your words carefully.”
Pressing his lips together, Mal stalled for a moment. He knew if he didn’t answer at all or if he gave the Admiral another smart-alec remark that he would be drugged. He wasn’t sure that his mind could take that nightmare again right now. The words were whispered so soft as he heard himself saying them. It was still so surreal to him every time he said them and his heart physically ached with each word. “I pledge my allegiance to Alliance rule.”
A wicked grin spread over Case’s lips as he drew a deep breath of accomplishment. “I didn’t hear you. Once more please, a bit louder.”
Mal wanted to tell him to go to hell. But he knew where that would get him too. If this were physical it would be different. He would take anything they could dish out. This went so far beyond what he could take though. He repeated the words, louder this time. “I pledge my allegiance to Alliance rule. Make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?”
“Extremely.” The Admiral stood up and began to slowly pace the front of the room back and forth. He held his book behind his back with both hands. “Your less than amusing side notes tell me that you haven’t quite reached the point that I want you to be at.”
The slow thump-thump rhythm of the Admiral’s boots pacing the floor sounded in his ear that was pressed to the ground. “Oh yeah? What point is that?” Mal heard the skip step only a second before he felt the toe of a boot hit his spine. He cried out at the attack on skin already torn and raw from the whip lashes days earlier. Then he felt his own blood running down his back as the ripped skin opened again, scabbing disturbed by the vicious kick.
Case knelt down, cruelly fisting a handful of Mal’s hair to lift his head and leaning in close to his ear. He whispered, his voice a wicked hiss against his prisoner’s skin. “Broken. We own you… Malcolm. And we want you broken.”
He slammed Mal’s head against the concrete floor and then lifted it again with a tug at his hair. “What are you again? Tell me what you are.”
Mal’s head swam with the impact. “Nothin’. I’m nothin’.” He knew it was the answer that the admiral wanted. But he also didn’t miss the close proximity of the admiral. Of course he was chained, but they weren’t pulled tight. He wasn’t dangling from the ceiling. He was chained to the floor, the chains linked together in an iron hook on the ground next to a drain where all of his bloodshed had gone along with water.
“That’s right. You are nothing. No one is coming for you. Even if they were… this is the dungeon. They can’t get down here without getting caught and imprisoned themselves.” Admiral Wetherford continued. He slammed Mal’s head down into the concrete again and then pulled it back up. “You are forever nothing. Who do you belong to, Malcolm?”
Gasping for air, Mal answered again with the words he knew that the Admiral wanted to hear. “Alliance. Belong to the Alliance.”
The minute that Case released his hair, Mal turned sharply around. He grabbed one end of one of the chains around his wrist and wrapped it around the Admiral’s neck. He pulled tight on both ends. His body ached and cried out in protest at the movement. But it was the pain that kept him coherent at the moment. “Now you listen and you listen close while I interrupt your changin’ of me in a permanent way. You’re gonna be unchainin’ me real quick like or your men are gonna come in here to find that less than pretty face of yours less than alive. Dong le ma?”
“They’ll kill you.” The Admiral squirmed on the ground, trying to get away or to break the hold of the chains around his neck.
“Reckon that’s a chance I’m gonna have to take.” Mal answered, tugging on the chains to tighten them a bit impatiently. “Now, what’s it gonna be?”
Case held his hands up and then slowly moved one to his pocket to retrieve the magnetic device that unlocked the chains. “And what would your plan be after I unchain you? There are guards everywhere. You’re in the belly of the beast, Malcolm.”
Mal thought for a moment, watching the admiral carefully as the man pressed the magnet to the chains at his ankles. The cuffs fell loose with a light clank to the floor. “Hadn’t really gotten that far yet. Been in the belly before though… same beast, different belly. You important enough for me to use you to get me all the way out of here? Probably not, huh? Guess it’s fightin’ time then.”
“In your condition?” The admiral actually laughed at that as he unlocked the cuffs at Mal’s wrists. “You haven’t eaten in days. Your body is bruised and beaten. You’ve lost most of the blood you should have in you. And you’re still shaking from the shock treatment you received three days ago. Also, a naked man is hard to miss.”
“Good points, all of ‘em.” When the cuffs fell from his wrists, scars reopened there too. Blood began to spill down his arms. He gripped the chain tighter and forced himself to think past the pain to formulate another step. This was only one step and he was already so tired. That was when he noticed the pistol at Case’s hip. He shifted the chains to hold them with one hand and grabbed the pistol with the other. Finally he let go of the chains and aimed the pistol at the admiral. “Best be takin’ your clothes off then. I might be needin’ ‘em.”
Case looked back to Mal as if he’d gone mad, the older man’s eyes wide and disbelieving. “You cannot be serious.”
“Oh on the contrary… don’t think I’ve ever been more serious in my life. Start gettin’ naked…” Mal scooted back to the wall behind him so he could lean back against it. His chest heaved with labored breath from the exertion of the movement and he waggled the barrel of the pistol to urge the admiral on. “Now would be good.”