Disclaimers: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or Firefly. Hallowed are the Whedon. But, seriously, I make no money here, folks.
Note: Set post Buffy/post Angel, obviously, and pre Serenity.
Series Introduction: It was no coincidence that Wolfram and Hart seemed to disappear off the face of the planet the day a few thousand humans vanished into thin air, amongst them the offspring of Champions, Connor Reilly and Dawn Summers. The two wake into an unfamiliar 'verse where there are new friends to be made and old enemies to be hunted down. What's the connection between Wolfram and Hart and the mysterious Blue Sun? Did Jayne Cobb once go by another name? And are the Hands of Blue more than experiments gone wrong? Join the Relics of Another Age and find out.
Word Count: ~1250
"But the ghosts aren't dead yet."
Her voice was low, but those dark eyes pierced Mal with such ferocity that he fully stopped what he was doing. He recognized the expression on her face as worry building up to something more, and raised his brow, not realizing he had about a second left before that "something more" reared its head.
"They're not dead!" River screamed. And she stopped, to breathe. Her voice soft, she added, "They wanted them here and not here. Dead and not dead. Got what they wanted, but then they lost them."
The cargo bay went quiet.
Jayne groaned, chewing his jaw, and slammed down his tool on the side of the box. "What's the gorram hold up?"he snapped. "Tell nutty there that we're in the middle of somethin' important."
Zoe seemed to agree, but she kept quiet, shooting Mal a questioning glance. It wasn't often that the captain got so caught up in River's ramblings, but this time…this time he looked transfixed by what she'd said and that didn't leave Zoe sitting happy.
Finally, Mal pulled away from her pinning gaze, actually looked at what he and his crew were doing.
They'd been sent on a job in the Blackout, and it was simple enough. One of their associates had been running on a mangled ship and missing the right equipment for the pick-up, so they'd called on Serenity's crew, offering a percentage of the find. All the crew had to do was collect and hope the merchandise in the floater was worth the fuel out there.
As it turned out, the floater in question looked like it had been through hell and back. No identifying marking of any kind, untouched by Reaver and Alliance alike. It was almost eerily blank of insignia, and it was no small wonder that no one had picked up on it before…The vessel itself was damned near tiny, as if its whole cockpit had been blown, and the make of it even Kaylee couldn't quite determine. Inside, though, they'd gotten lucky. Two fine bins, well sealed, and bearing the curving indigo logo for Blue Sun. Beneath the one logo was another, one they didn't quite recognize, but it was embossed into the metal latch, forming squarish letters: W&H.
Food or meds, likely; was still promising more than a few platinums worth of goods, that was for sure. A nice haul. Or so they'd hoped.
River reached out, touching the side of the first bin. Mal followed her movement, his fingertips against the cool metal, and a sense of dread settled over him.
"Zoe, go get the doc." He shot his old friend a glance. "We might have a bit of trouble."
She gave him a curt nod and took off. Jayne shook his head, confused, but, for once, he kept his mouth shut.
"Ghosts," Mal said, echoing the young woman. "One in each?"
River nodded in reply. "They come, two by two," River assured. "They've been quiet so long…"
"River! River are you alright?" Simon called, his feet clattering against the stairs, Zoe at his heels.
River didn't reply to him, softly caressing the metal beneath her palm. Mal stood up straight again, turning to face the younger man.
"You did some research on cryo." A statement of fact, because everyone in the bay knew Simon didn't do things half-way when it came to keeping his little sister safe. "Know anything about the older models?"
Simon looked confused as to why he and his kit were in the cargo bay, then his eyes widened a little when they hit the bins. "Wait--are you saying… You think these might be cryogenic stasis pods? But, these aren't shaped anything like the ones we use today. For starters…" His voice trailed off, and he shook his head. "You're right, though, they do resemble the earliest models. Though, surely there wouldn't be a Blue Sun marking on such an…antique."
"The ghosts aren't dead," River said, as if to remind everyone.
Simon's brow wrinkled, then smoothed with understanding. "I'm afraid you're wrong, mei mei.
These pods are far too old to still be in use."
Jayne waved his hand, catching their attention. "You sayin' there ain't anything worth selling in these?" At their silence, he growled. "Ruttin' waste of time that was."
River rolled her eyes, apparently tired of waiting around, because she crossed to the other side of the box in an instance and slid her hand over a lever that the crew had missed. A loud hiss sounded, and the men jumped back in alarm.
"No, River," Simon breathed, but it was too late. She'd already moved to the second pod.
When the damn mist lifted, Mal raised a brow at the contents. "Huh. Didn't figure this would happen again."
Jayne shook his head. "We ain't gonna get a single bill for this, are we?"
The girl had been the first to awaken, and she hadn't been none too pleased to find herself in the present of Malcolm Reynolds. The captain found himself apologizing to the flailing youth, which, in itself, was so miraculous that it left the others stunned.
River had appeared, the little thing somehow hidden away during the worst of the panic, and whispered something into the girl's ear. Whatever it was, the stranger paused, took a breath, and stared out at the infirmary with widened eyes.
"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore," she said, her first words that weren't a screaming threat in the captain's direction.
Simon was careful with her, checking vitals. "Do you remember your name?" he asked.
She looked at him like he was an idiot, and Malcolm found himself fighting a grin, despite his bruised ribs. "Dawn," she replied, "why wouldn't I remember that?"
And she'd blacked out.
The girl, Dawn, had helped when the boy had come around. They'd asked if she knew him, and at first, she'd said no…Then the cobwebs had cleared.
"I know who he might be," she had finally said.
He was just as cautious as her, just as alarmed. And the dangerous glint in his eye told Mal that if the boy decided he didn't care much for the crew, his fists were gonna do some proper damage. The captain kept his hand on his gun.
"I'm Dawn," the girl said, an introduction.
"Connor," he replied. His brow folded. "You're Dawn Summers…the Slayer's sister?"
And they broke into a lot of terms and names Mal couldn't keep up with. Didn't sound much like purple belly talk, but he was cautious, listening for code.
"We're not in L.A., are we?" he asked.
River stood at the doorway, and she answered for Dawn. "You're ghosts," she said, "but you can still breath. They wanted you dead, but not dead. You're neither."
The boy was nodding, as if the words were his instead of hers.
Dawn raised a brow. "Say, huh?"
Mal approved, a girl after his own mind.
Truth be told, Mal was lying when he made the argument to dump them. Every fiber of his being told him they were a liability, worse even than the brother/sister duo he'd allowed to stay aboard, but there was something else, some deep seed inside him, that made him believe it was in his own best interest to keep them around. They felt... precious, like some heirlooms he couldn't quite give up.
He'd let the ladies, Simon being amongst the count, convince him to keep the kids, least til they were back in their right state.
'Course, that was before they mentioned the part about being 500 years old. If he'd known that then, he might have echoed Jayne's sentiment: "Gorram wonderful."