Ok so the spoiler warning for Serenity. Assume anything that occured before the characters deaths is fair game. Comments about events that occured after in their respective worlds I will warn about should they happen.
This is the last character to get picked up so we're straight into the story next (I hope).
Disclaimer: I do not pretend to speak chinese. It has been done as good as we can but aiming at Chinglish rather than idiomatic chinese. Mostly because that is the style of Chinese most commonly spoken by the characters.
Dark and warm, stretching in her sleep, she stirred as the angry sounds filtered through to her hiding place. One, slit, eye opened slowly and her ear twitched as she tried to focus on the sound. These new beings invading her home were clumsy and loud, she mused. Rising to her feet, she arched her back to release the tension within. A flick of her tail displayed her displeasure to the world. A pleasant feeling filled her as she thought of her Mother That Was, a welcome change to her world from Sorrow That Walks.
She ducked into a small tunnel that she often used for wandering around her home. The familiar smells of oil and, strangely, the sea filtered through as she padded quietly towards the sounds of argument. She hesitated when she had to cross the corridor, watching as Sorrow That Walks passed her by. The tension in the air raised her hackles and she stifled the need to hiss to spit it out. Waiting until Sorrow That Walks was far enough away to not spot her; she crossed quickly and entered another tunnel. Climbing a steep incline, she found her way to her favourite perch above the heating vents. She slid forward to dangle her legs off the ledge, resting her head to look down at the figures below.
Wind And Hooves, the obvious leader of the group, stood silent whilst the others chattered around him. The other male, Metal Of The Sea, seemed sullen and stalked from side to side as he argued with Mother That Was. Seated by the table were Soothing Stone and Fading Fear. She watched as Soothing Stone firmly, but gently, pushed food towards Fading Fear.
“Are they still arguing about that gun?” Yvonne asked, pushing another mouthful of food onto her fork; though she had stopped feeling hungry a while ago.
“I think that man is suffering from lack of sleep. What I wouldn’t give for a tranquilliser now.” Janet muttered the last under her breath. She glanced over to where Tara was being hounded with questions and gave a sad smile. Yvonne followed her gaze and frowned.
“Someone needs to make sure he doesn’t bully her too much.” The protective tone in Yvonne’s voice surprised Janet.
“Life isn’t fair,” she said and the two exchanged a glance of understanding. There was a long silence as they contemplated their respective positions.
“Lauren.” Yvonne whispered finally, offering the name as a first step towards trust. Janet accepted it with a nod, giving Yvonne a pain-filled glance.
“I don’t care what he says about destiny!” Speedle’s voice filled the room and the two gratefully turned their attention to him. Tara faced him calmly, though they could see the strain in her posture.
“Then what do you care about?” Tara asked gently, refusing to raise her voice to match his. He stopped at the words, his face suddenly very still. His eyes darted around as he took in their silent glances. He ran a hand through his hair in desperation.
“I should have lived,” he muttered, the heat behind the words gone.
“I’m sorry,” the words filled the air. “But that choice none of you had.” Standing in the doorway, Tay watched them carefully, hoping not to spark off another argument. When no one spoke, she moved into the room. Slung over her shoulder was the body of a man who, though not tall, was taller than Tay. She manoeuvred past them all and placed the body in the pilot’s chair.
“Is he dead?” Yvonne asked, breaking the silence. Tay seemed to consider the question before answering.
“He was never alive,” she stated. “He is but a copy.”
Janet and Speedle eyed the clone with equal parts revulsion and fascination. Tay moved the arms to position them carefully at the controls, making minute adjustments whilst glancing at a small image on the screen.
“I suggest,” she said, taking up a head set and donning it. “That you stay very quiet for this next bit.” She touched a button next to the display and heavy static filled the air. The sound of creaking metal joined it. Tay started to speak but none of those present could understand her.”
Ni renwei ni yao ci. Women dou yao ci. Ni zai ni de shijie keyi ci, huoguo ni zai zhege keyi bang wo, he huozhe...”
A voice called out forcibly over the intercom.
“No, no, no!”
Tay listened intently and another voice followed the first, louder this time, as if closer.
She bowed her head and sighed, removing the headset. She felt the heavy glares of the others on her back and turned slowly.
“You can speak now if you want.”
A small smile covered her face when nobody could find any words.
“We're not alone” A female voice commented urgently.
“EMP!” The first voice shouted again. “Everybody strap yourselves into something. Jayne!”
“Got it.” A reply responded weakly, as if far away.
“We're fried, I've got no control,” the closest voice uttered.
“Where's the backup?” the first asked. “Where's the backup?” Except for the shuddering of metal, silence followed the statement.
“What was that about?” Yvonne finally spat.
“Choices,” Tay replied. “You all made them. So has he.”
Yvonne looked at her as if to say that had not been the question she had asked.
“So what happens now?” Janet intervened, before Yvonne could protest.
“I wait for the right moment.” Tay leant back against the console.
“Backup reads 20%. Can you get us down?” The female voice burst over the intercom, getting everyone’s attention.
“I'm going to have to glide her in,” came the response from the loudest voice.
“Will that work?” The woman sounded sceptical but there seemed to be no time to reply. Everyone standing around the intercom flinched as the sound of a huge crash echoed in the room. Silence fell a few moments later.
“I’m a leaf on the…” The words were uttered gently. Tay flicked a switch, cutting the sound off, and then stepped away from the console.
“Soar.” The word uttered by the body in the chair made everyone jump, except for Tay who seemed to wait patiently.
“Mori de yeshengde houzi, what a ride!” There was a pause and the man turned his head slightly. “By god it’s clean in here, where’s Serenity?”
Silence followed his question and he turned around to find them all staring at him.
“I’ve been knocked out,” he muttered. “I’m unconscious and dreaming. Great, just my luck. Get eaten by Reavers for sure.”
“They prefer the living,” Tay said quietly. He looked at her confused. With a sigh she repeated the words she had spoken over the intercom. His face paled.
"Wha...whu..." He twisted wildly in his seat, hitting the intercom button and checking the radio and dials..."ZOË!"
Tay stepped forward and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. Those watching seemed to shrink back, realising that they should not interfere.
“She can’t hear you,” Tay said, watching as his shoulders slumped. “But she lives.”
He looked up and looked her in the eye, his scepticism clear. Tay held his gaze steadily.
“They all will live.”
He gave her a sad smile as tears started to form in his eyes.
“You know. You sound just like River when you say that.”
“Come, I’ll show you to your room.” Tay motioned for him to follow and after a final brief glance at the console he did. The hush that had fallen over the room vanished as soon as they did.
“What the hell was that?” Speedle asked, waving at the now empty chair.
“Bleeding place gets weirder by the minute.” Yvonne muttered. Tara sat down wearily, her mind seemingly elsewhere. Janet looked at her, worried.
“Are you alright?” she asked, her professional tone catching Tara’s attention.
“Are any of us really alright?” Tara murmured.
“Can you explain any of this?” Speedle asked, leaning over Tara suddenly. Yvonne seemed ready to intervene but Janet was faster.
“That’s it,” she said, rising to her feet. “You will leave her alone!” She moved in front of him and though Speedle could look down at her she did not seem in any way intimidated.
“You aren’t curious what she knows?” He asked, thinking back to Tara’s knowledge of what Tay had done to the gun.
“She knows as much as we do.”
Speedle leaned forward.
“You do not want to fight me.”
Janet scoffed at him, making him eye her in surprise.
“I may be a doctor. But I passed my combat training, civilian.” She said the last word like an insult though part of her hated doing it. Speedle glared at her but stepped away from Tara with a growl.
“Nobody will tell us what is going on.” He said, calming himself and letting his analytical mind take over. “We are all here for a reason but do any of us know what it is?”
“There will be one last battle for Théoden of Rohan.” Théoden stated clearly comfortable with this.
“A battle,” Janet said quietly and Yvonne could have sworn she blanched slightly. “Well they’ll need a doctor then.”
“And the rest of us? The girl,” Speedle queried.
“I have fought before,” Tara said gently. They looked at her sceptically and she blushed under the scrutiny. Tay reappeared by the door thankfully drawing the attention away from Tara.
“We are done here.” Tay said. “We are heading back now.”
“Back? To where?” Yvonne asked. Tay purposefully moved to the pilot seat.
“To the land of the Fallen,” she replied.
Tay had gently but firmly suggested that they retire to their rooms as she made the descent from the limbo in which she hung to the atmosphere of the planet rapidly appearing in the view screen. As soon as they were gone, she opened up a channel to the central hub.
“Tay on the inbound, full complement.”
The radio crackled then a voice replied.
“Full complement again! Congratulations.” Tay ignored the comment and the voice continued. “You can put down in bay 4. The council will want to debrief you as soon as you land.”
“Who is meeting me?”
“Tasha,” the voice replied and Tay breathed out a sigh of relief.
“Okay, will be with you shortly.” She switched off the link and leant back allowing the ship to finish the landing. She pulled out a small pad and started to type.
“I hate reports.”
The sound of the landing shuddered through the ship and, sitting in their rooms, the passengers waited warily. Tay knocked on each door in turn and asked that they follow her from the ship. With no baggage to pick up, they all moved quickly. A large hatch opened and light flooded thorough from the vast hanger that the ship was now standing in. Tay led the group down the runway to the figure waiting at its foot.
“Tasha,” Tay nodded towards the group. “Take good care of them.”
The tall blond woman smiled as she eyed the group. Her stance was obviously military though her clothing was casual.
“Where the heck are you going?” Yvonne asked, placing a hand on Tay’s shoulder. Tasha raised an eyebrow in askance but, at Tay’s look, did not move.
“I have a meeting to be at. You will see me again,” she said, removing the hand. She stepped away from them and walked across the hanger to a small door. Tasha seemed to tense just as she reached for the door handle, as if in anticipation. As the door swung open the group could see a ragged dry landscape beyond it. Dried leaves whipped in through the door, carried by a breeze. Above the whistle of the wind a deep booming voice called out. It repeated on an endless loop.“The battle lines are drawn and now we call our fallen ones to our aid. Let them come for the price of blood must be paid.”
The door swung shut, instantly plunging the hangar into silence and the group stared in shock.