Title: Big Damn Heroes, Part 1
Fandom: Heroes/Firefly crossover
Genre: Gen, Sci-Fi, Drama
Word Count: 6,397
Rating: PG-13 for violence and language
Summary: Heroes crew the freighter Serenity as they try to do the simplest thing in the verse, keep flying no matter what is thrown at them. Or who.
Here we go...
Big Damn Heroes’ Big Damn Author’s Note:
What is it?
Some time ago my sister brighteyed_jill had this smashing idea for a story. A prolific and dedicated writer of Heroes fanfiction, and a big fan of the Firefly series, she was struck by the thought: “What if the people from Heroes filled the spots in Serenity’s crew?” There is an annual contest in the Heroes LJ community called Big Boom, where writers post stories of considerable length (at least 10,000 words) in a certain amount of time, and this story was to be her entry for that. But try as she might, her muse clammed up, and she couldn’t quite figure out how to get the whole story written in time. (So she switched to an AU Heroes story. If it’s Tuesday, BrightEyed-Jill has a new idea for a Heroes story.)
I had been helping her figure out the roster for this story, which was to be called Big Damn Heroes, when she stalled. The idea, languishing in writing limbo, suddenly came to life in my brain a few weeks later. So I told her, “Hey sister, I think I’m going to write this story.” And she’s like, “Go for it dudette!”
This is going to be a blended fusion of both universes, with the plot being a modified version of Serenity, the pilot for Firefly. (Not Serenity, the movie.) Certain relationships will be maintained, and others will be ignored. Relatives won’t necessarily be related, and characters will be mixed (the Heroes character and the Firefly role they’ve taken will be combined). Ages are going to be played fast and loose, going closer to the Firefly relative ages than the Heroes ages for the characters. Basically, don’t go saying, “Ew, that guy’s way too old for her and anyway isn’t she this other dude’s daughter?” Because that might not be true in this universe.
Spoiler Alert! For those that want to be warned about spoilers, there will be general spoilers for probably up through Season 2 of Heroes with some Season 3 insights, but again, they’ll be modified. For Firefly fans, the specific spoilers will only go up through the pilot, but I might bring in elements from other episodes in the series.
What is Heroes? Heroes is a TV series on NBC that is about people in our world that begin developing superpowers. It has a definite comic-book feel to it. Twists, turns, people switching sides, and things not always how they are at first glance, there’s still a few brave elements of black-and-white heroism in there.
What is Firefly? Firefly is a one-season show that first aired on Fox in 2002. Shown out-of-order, given a death-slot on Friday nights, and just being a strange sort of show, it only lasted a few months. Created by Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, it can best be described as a “western space opera.” People use space ships to get around, but still might use horses to get from town to town on border planets, with better technology being more common in the “core worlds.” They still use guns to settle disputes, but the pool they play in saloons is holographic. Another peculiarity is that the characters swear in a Chinese dialect. The story goes that when humans left Earth, the two dominant cultures were American and Chinese. So everyone speaks both languages, and there’s a decided blending of traits from both countries throughout the Firefly universe. I will be occasionally using some the Chinese swearing and comments, but I’ll be spelling them phonetically, and please don’t ask me to translate! I only can guess what they mean from context! If I need more Chinese, I’m probably going to make up some phonetically appropriate nonsense. Anything else I might rip from the series.
If you want the character conversion roster, just scroll down to the end of the story, and I have it all lined up. For those that want to be surprised, just jump right in.
Disclaimer: I own neither Firefly nor Heroes, nor do I make even a penny off of their excellent shows.
Thanks to brighteyed_jill and Mr. Rigger (of the FanFiction.net community) for betaing!
Big Damn Heroes
After the Earth was used up, human found a new solar system and hundreds of new Earths were terraformed and colonized. The powers that some humans had developed before the Earth was gone might have once engendered fear and jealousy, but had instead become important tools in carving out new civilizations. The central planets that had formed the Alliance had decided all the planets needed to join under their rule. As with any government, there was some disagreement on that point.
Battle of Serenity Valley
Nathan soared in darkness above scorched earth of Serenity Valley, the stench of burned flesh, burned earth, fresh laserglass, and blood reaching his nose even at the high altitude. The Independent forces were losing ground, that was apparent even from above, but he hadn’t lost hope yet. There was a chance they could still win; assuming they could clear the way for air support, assuming the Alliance didn’t have any more nasty surprises waiting for them.
The Indeps only held a weakened line scattered across the floor of the valley, but if they could take out a few gunners’ nests, and maybe some of the Alliance air support, the Indeps could rally. The strategy was sound enough, and even the Alliance had to admit that this was costing far more in men, materials, and manpower than they wanted to spend.
Nathan knew he had to hit the Alliance where it hurt, and he knew how to do it. He had, after all, been one of them.
It had been ages since he’d seen his home planet of Osiris, a glittering jewel in the Alliance’s high crown, and he hoped to never have to go back there. He’d been born Nathan Petrelli, first-born son of a powerful and wealthy family, gifted with every advantage of education and employment. His parents had adored him, and his kid brother Peter worshiped him.
He’d spent most of his time in private, prestigious schools, then the best military academy in the system, learning how to be an officer. Nathan had made the most of his family time in intense bursts of school vacations, cramming in every trip and special moment into the regimented timeframes permitted. His parents told him it would all be worth it, that being in the military was the fast track to a high political office, something that his family longed to be a part of. Nathan had accepted that, accepted the fact that he only had a part-time family, because of the lavish praise and love they heaped on him.
It was the times with his kid brother, a chubby, curly-haired cherub twelve years his junior, that made the intense family pressure bearable. Pete’s innocent trust and genuine admiration untinged by family ambition gave Nathan the strength to bear up under the weight of his Petrelli family name. By the time Peter turned eight, Nathan was already in the military academy. Peter got a special invitation to a school for gifted students, when their parents send him away to pursue that opportunity, his contact with Nathan had been reduced purely to letters.
Despite the family pressure, Nathan excelled in his classes, mastering all the knowledge of warfare, garnering the praise of his teachers, admiration of his fellow students, and getting intense interest from government officials. Peter’s letters became less frequent, but he was getting older and classes were becoming more difficult. By the time Nathan had graduated, gaining a commission of his own, Peter’s letters were rare indeed.
Unfortunately, before Nathan could arrange a visit with his brother for the first time in years, in celebration of his graduation, fate intervened. Nathan manifested. It was such a relatively small thing, unexpected, but not entirely outside the realm of his experience. He found out he could fly. Just looked up at the sky one day while on the rooftop of the academy, thinking about his family, his parents, the brother he hadn’t seen in years, and he was soaring.
No one was afraid of powers; humanity had lived with them too long to be afraid of them, but they liked them to be known. Nathan was a good citizen, a good soldier, and reported himself immediately. After that he was inundated with government officials, all of them asking questions. Not overtly, but at every family reception, every time his ship came into port from patrol, every time he was at the officer’s club or out with his men, one of them was there.
It was expected questions at first, when had he manifested, how long had he known, if he was having any trouble with control. Then the questions had gotten stranger, if he’d gotten any messages from his brother, if Peter had mentioned about himself manifesting in letters, if Nathan had ever been contacted by the Independent rabble-rousers.
“A pain in the neck,” one official had explained with an off-hand laugh. “They don’t agree with power registration. They want people to not be required to disclose their abilities, to not go through mandatory power control training, things like that. Amongst all their other complains. All we’re offering the colonists is standard education, healthcare, and defense, and they’re practically ready to start a civil war because they don’t like the way the Alliance makes its rules!”
Nathan had laughed along with the official, albeit for the first time with a hint of uncertainty. For most of his life he hadn’t questioned the way the Alliance ran. The benefits of Alliance government were unparalleled; that’s what he’d always been taught, always observed. The rim planets and outlying colonies were only poor and rough because they wouldn’t accept the benefits of being under Alliance rule.
But for the first time in his life, he doubted. And he had no real idea why. The doubts came to him while he was flying, rocketing through Osiris’ atmosphere on his regulated power practice runs, free from all distractions. The gently prying questions had begun to feel more intrusive every time someone asked. It left him feeling uneasy, off-balance, as if his internal compass that let him know up from down had suddenly began to spin, leaving him in freefall.
Nathan thought he’d known when the turning point came. After another round of questions in the officer’s club, this time with the questions inexplicably centered on his brother, Nathan had gone back to his quarters and looked through his letters from Peter. Every single letter, dating back to when Peter had entered the special school. He read them carefully, really read them, reading them like a stranger rather than a brother.
He realized those letters had become a sort of palliative, their presence alone giving him feelings of warmth and brotherly love. Just knowing that Peter was happy and healthy had been enough for him. But in re-reading them, Nathan began to experience a chill of fear. The letters had become more and more generic, sounding less and less like Peter, not even referencing their parents very often, and shared childhood experiences, never. As a matter of fact, the latter ones sounded like nothing so much as form letters.
How could he have been so blind for so long? How could he have not noticed the substance of the letters, of his brother, dwindling for years? Nathan had stared at them like they had turned into poisonous snakes, and had left to look for an antidote. What guided him was nothing more than a lifetime of living on the side of “right.” When you spent all your life there, you knew intimately where the side of “wrong” started.
That was how he found himself attending underground Indep meetings. He listened quietly, seeing past a fairly justified amount of paranoia to see the truth in their complaints. How the promised defense would strip farms of needed young men and women, the promised healthcare would not be available for those who couldn’t pay, and the promised education allowed no room for opposing views. How those with powers considered too dangerous were captured, shipped away, and never seen again. How those with powers particularly useful to the government were locked in special academies, drugged, experimented upon, and brainwashed into submission. Some were killed when they became intractable.
Peter, my God, Peter… Nathan had remembered thinking. All those questions about his kid brother made sense now, and Nathan felt sick when he considered that anything he might have said could have led to Peter being hurt. It had been too long though, far too long, and Nathan knew there was nothing left of Peter to save. There was no possible way, though money or military or family connections, than Nathan could breach the security of one of the government’s special schools to retrieve the shell of his brother, if he even still lived.
But there was a way to save thousands of other people from the same fate, from poverty and sameness and despair.
Nathan had been gifted with the ultimate expression of freedom, flight, and with the manifestation of his powers came the birth of his conscience.
Leaving Osiris in the company of Indep rebels, Nathan had shed his family name, becoming a deserter, taking on a new identity. His old world of wealth, power, and glittering privilege had become small and confined. Now he would spread his wings to shelter and protect the freedoms of everyone that he could save.
He’d become Nathan Reynolds, become a sergeant in the Independent army, using all of his knowledge and power to fight against the Alliance in what had become a bloody, one-sided civil war. But wasn’t ready to give up, not by a long shot.
“Down there Sarge!” Private Rosen called to him off his left “wing,” pointing down to a small, dark circle on the ground that means fortifications. Nathan was faster and could fly higher than Rosen, but the younger flyer had eyes like an eagle. Both hurled themselves at the ground, too fast for a potential weapons’ lock, landing outside the fortifications so their own side wouldn’t shoot them.
“Thunder!” a voice challenged from behind the dirt walls.
“Flash!” Nathan responded with the password, and ducked low, passing into the encircling arms of the open-air bunker.
“About time, sir,” Claire said, her pale skin smudged with dirt. The gun at her side was pristine, cradled in her arms like a baby, but the bandana holding her dark hair back was scorched from stray laser fire. A half-dozen bodies, dead from the same, slumped near the far wall, and Private Bendis was huddled in the lee of closer wall, a shell-shocked expression on his face. Damn it, Nathan thought. The Alliance must have shelled them just after Nathan and West had left.
“We’ve been bracketed,” Nathan reported. “But get us some air support and we can give these arrogant sons-of-bitches a thrashing.”
Claire looked over briefly at the nest near the bottom of the hill, at the two distant Alliance aerial fighters covering their sector. A jag of a dark brow over her blue eyes asked the silent question, “What about our playmates?”
“We’ll need to clear them out soon as we can for the angels,” Nathan answered. The Indep aerial squadrons always called themselves angels, a conceit that the sergeant found damn heartening, considering all the times they’d saved him and his men.
“We’d need a lieutenant’s authorization for the air support,” Claire pointed out.
Nathan had no more time for regulations, not when the battle was going against them. Claire didn’t either, but not even the Independents would send in their few and valuable aircraft against overwhelming odds without some solid chance of victory. And Nathan couldn’t let everything go to hell, not now, no matter what.
Nathan ran over to Anderson’s body, turning him over and ripping off his lieutenant’s patch, and thrust it into Claire’s hands. She was ten years his junior, barely twenty-five, but five times the soldier he was at times; she wouldn’t let him down.
“Congratulations, now get me some gorram air support!” he nearly shouted. Claire went to the radio, chanting out authorization and location with a steady and calm voice as Nathan considered his options. Bendis, poor kid, wasn’t going to be good for much.
“Private Rosen,” Nathan said. Rosen was practically quivering next to him, unnerved by the nearby explosions and laserfire, pale and sweating at the sight of all the bodies that had recently been his squadmates. “Fly out of here. Get back to base and tell them we need air support, now!”
West was off like a shot into the air, fear giving him speed that rivaled Nathan’s. Claire’s message would get through, Nathan couldn’t doubt that, but West Rosen was a talented scout and the Independents needed him. He wasn’t strong enough to take either Claire or Bendis to safety, and Nathan knew he couldn’t carry either for long. The remains of Nathan’s squad could try to save themselves, or they could stay and help lead the charge when the air support came. Save the individual or save the war.
“Message sent, sir,” Claire reported. Everyone ducked as an Alliance flitter, sharp wings glittering in the fires below, strafed their position, pressing themselves into the earth to avoid the bursts of laser fire.
“I think someone just made themselves an unwelcome guest,” Nathan said, levering himself back out of the dirt. Claire only nodded in agreement, and Bendis shivered, rocking against the wall, banging his helmet repeatedly.
“You want the lascannon sir?” Claire asked almost diffidently, already crouching closest to the Alliance nest further down the hill.
“That’s the plan,” Nathan said breezily, with a bravado he didn’t quite feel. That damn cannon was the only thing that could take down the flitter at a safe distance. Anyone with abilities strong enough to do that wasn’t on the Indeps’ side of this fight, so it was hopefully down to pure firepower.
“Think we’re going to make it, sir?” Claire asked as she paused, waiting for his order, showing just a hint of uncertainty. Nathan was almost glad to hear it as he pulled his cross from his shirt, kissing it and silently praying for safety and victory. They were both, underneath their battle-hardened courage, just as scared as the cowering Bendis, after all.
“Have I ever let you down?” Nathan asked instead, tucking the cross back in. Faith had helped pull him through the worst of these battles, faith that despite everything, freedom would win out in the end. He couldn’t stop believing in that now.
“Never, sir,” Claire asserted, and he heard her thumb off her rifle’s safety.
Nathan heard the roar of Claire’s gun joining his own as they sprinted down the hill, spraying the nest with laser fire. He rolled into close cover as return fire speckled their former position, hearing Claire trying to command Bendis out of his shell to help cover. But the kid wouldn’t move, and Nathan couldn’t wait. Stripping a grenade off his belt, he lobbed it in a sideways toss, protecting his head from the explosion and keeping down as Claire picked off the remaining Alliance trooper.
“Clear!” she shouted, and Nathan leapt over the nest wall. He thrust himself under the shoulder braces of the lascannon, calling up the targeting computers with the ease of long experience. The screen flickered, slightly damaged from the explosion, and then steadied, the flitter now within the glowing boxes that meant it was in range.
Nathan gripped the triggers, spraying the powerful lascannon blasts into the stars, and shouted in triumph as an explosion lit up the night sky. The grin on his face lasted only as long as it took for him to realize the flaming wreckage was hurling towards him. Flying like a shot, he barely managed to tackle Claire behind the sheltering walls of the bunker before the flitter crashed onto the nest.
Laughing at their escape, Nathan scrambled up to his knees, tucking himself against the wall next to the shivering Bendis. At least the kid had stopped banging his head against the wall, and was actually focusing on Nathan’s face.
“We’re all going to die,” Bendis sobbed, finally giving a shape to his fear.
Nathan was vaguely aware the radio was chirping again, and Claire going to answer it. Far above them, Nathan could hear the faint roar of in-atmosphere engines. The air support!
“We’re not going to die Bendis. You know why? Because we are so very, very pretty. We’re just too pretty for God to let us die,” Nathan said, feeling almost giddy. Nathan Petrelli had practically been a poster boy for the Alliance, and as Nathan Reynolds he wasn’t above making the occasional inside joke about his own past, even if no one got it but him. He gripped Bendis’ face in his hand to focus the young private’s attention. “Look at that chiseled jaw, right? You hear that above us? The Alliance said they’d waltz through Serenity Valley and we choked them with those words. That’s our angels up there, getting ready to rain down fire on these arrogant-.”
“They’re not coming,” Claire said suddenly, looking over at them both with eyes wide with disbelief. “Command says it’s too hot. We’re to lay down arms.”
Nathan stared at her, disbelief and fear expanding from a tightly controlled speck in his heart to an all-encompassing hollow feeling in his chest.
“No, that’s…” he trailed off, mouth gaping, as he stood up to look over the valley. The roaring above them increased as ship after square, regimented ship descended, sprays of fire lashing out from their bellies to destroy every hint of the Independent forces. He was vaguely aware of Bendis standing next to him as Nathan watched his hopes die in fire and blood.
Silence filled his ears as Sergeant Nathan Reynolds stared at Serenity Valley, death all around him, and the Alliance bearing down to sweep every trace of them away. He barely even registered a spare round of laser fire spearing Bendis through the heart, only a vague thought that Bendis was the lucky one.
After the War, many of the Independents who had fought and lost drifted to the edges of the system, far from Alliance control. Out here, people struggled to get by with the most basic technologies; a ship would bring you work, a gun would help you keep it. A captain's goal was simple: find a crew, find a job, and keep flying in any way possible.
Three years later
Nathan had managed to find that precious ship, a Firefly-class cargo ship he’d named Serenity, a reminder of all he’d lost and gained. He took whatever work he could find, transporting legitimate goods or smuggling illegal cargo, whatever came his way. Whatever he had to do to survive, he did. Along the way he’d managed to hire a crew, bound to him by anything from loyalty, to the thrill of life on the edge, to sheer money. And also, all of them had powers.
Powered people certainly weren’t unheard of, and really not feared, not anymore. On Earth-that-was, being able to fly or bend time might have incited fear or jealousy. But when humans had had to abandon their home, any sort of power became a useful tool when carving out an existence on a new world. And a tool was all it was; sometimes it wasn’t the right one for the job.
Powers showed up in maybe one out of every ten thousand people, but there was no telling what could crop up, or where. Sure, Nathan had thought, he could fly. It had only done him so much good in the war; flying would have made him a prime target in a firefight if he weren’t careful. Oh, a few times he’d done the Independents a good turn as a messenger, and once or twice he’d been able to get the drop on the Alliance, literally, but all in all, it had a lot less useful than at first blush.
Hell of a lot of good it did him now as a spaceship captain. He could only fly in an atmosphere, so it didn’t help him in spacewalking. And flying around on Serenity was a good recipe for a broken skull. The only use he got out of it now was on the rare occasions when they were in rural countryside, and then it was really more the equivalent of a good walk than anything else.
Now Claire’s regeneration had been very useful during the war, but she hadn’t let many people know about it. An unkillable soldier of her caliber could have been sent on mission after suicide mission if the Independents had ever gotten desperate enough. Toward the end, they could have been. Not to mention what the Alliance might have done to her if she’d ever gotten caught. She’d simply kept it very quiet.
Even before the war, the Alliance had made a push for powered people to join government service, starting with power registration. And after the war it got a lot harder to refuse them. There were still a lot of unregistered powers on the outer rims and fringes, but if the Alliance caught you, the odds of getting a fair trial were almost nil. Yet another reason former Indep Sergeant Nathan Reynolds, now Captain Reynolds of Serenity, kept as far away from being caught as possible.
It didn’t stop him from tweaking the Alliance’s nose from time to time though. Like right now, as he and his crew were salvaging cargo from an abandoned transport ship. Some would call them vultures. Nathan called it getting paid.
“Still sealed. The goods must be intact,” Claire said with satisfaction, nodding at the green lights on the panel. The transport ship was a wreck of twisted metal, lit only by the light of a nearby star, but a few crucial compartments remained intact, and with them, their precious cargo. Nathan only nodded at Claire’s statement, but his strongman Elle gave a shark’s-tooth grin of greed.
Elle was a relative wisp of a woman, a slightly built blonde, but she was stronger than she looked, had the tenacity of bull, and the sting of an electric eel. Dangerous powers and an even more dangerous mind, she remained loyal to Nathan as long as the money kept coming. This cargo would be the most lucrative they’d had in far too long. If they pulled this off successfully, Nathan would stop having nightmares about Elle “accidentally” frying the ship’s electronics during descent.
Nathan knew he was unusual in that all of his crew had powers. So many in one spot increased the potential for an accident, because people could get careless about hiding them. It was because of that that he knew he’d have to take on passengers sometime soon after this job; the pay for that wasn’t great, but it kept the crew in power-discipline without him having to snap like a drill sergeant. Those days were behind him.
“Get the sticky up here, I’m going to pop it.” Nathan passed the “glue gun” up to Claire, and she used it to lay down a line of adhesive acid, a wire running through it to activate the chemicals. All their attention was on the hatch, and they had no time to look around for any unwelcome guests, trusting their backs to Serenity’s pilot.
“Everything looks good from here.” Above them, in the hovering Serenity, two dinosaurs walked amongst the dials, monitors, and switches of the pilot’s console.
“Ah yes,” the stegosaurus said with satisfaction. “This is a good land and we shall thrive. We shall rule over this land, and we shall call it… The Land.”
Hiro Nakamura plodded the plastic stegosaur and his accompanying buddy the tyrannosaurus rex by the fake palm trees next to the scanner-lagoon. Hovering and waiting for hours on end for his captain, crew, and wife to finish with their latest scheme could be coma-inducing to someone who didn’t know how to entertain himself. Hiro was a past master at that.
“I think we should call it your grave!” the T-Rex growled, turning on his friend.
“Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” the stegosaurus cried.
When Captain Reynolds had learned of Hiro’s power to bend time and space, he’d laughed. He hadn’t been laughing at Hiro, and he’d explained the joke after Hiro had been hired. Nathan had learned of Hiro’s abilities through a rather amusing incident with a police officer, a potted plant, and a case of mistaken identity, which had luckily happened after Nathan had seen Hiro’s piloting skills, or he would have never let him near Serenity’s controls.
“You know what my power is? I can fly,” Nathan had explained. Hiro had laughed then too. “But I can’t pilot Serenity as well as you can. So… you bend time and space? How does that work?”
That had been the honest truth. Hiro couldn’t quite manage to get exactly where and when he wanted to be. When trying to help a friend in a tight spot some years earlier, he had ended up six months too early and a half-continent away. His father had always said Hiro had a great destiny waiting for him, but was continually disappointed by Hiro’s lack of ambition and inability to focus.
Hiro just didn’t want to work for his father’s firm. That wasn’t his place, his interest, or his expertise. Hiro hadn’t even been sure of what his expertise was. If Hiro had stayed home much longer, he was certain he’d end up in government service whether or not that was what he wanted. It had been getting harder to control his abilities all the time.
So Hiro had lit out on his own, trying to see if something, anything, would lead him to the purpose he lacked. Perpetually cheerful, he hadn’t been particularly bothered that he was more or less directionless. He was a much a believer in destiny as his father, but he didn’t believe that serving the Alliance or sitting around an office was going to get him to where he needed to be.
Besides, destiny had this uncanny ability to find you when you were least expecting it.
Whim had led him to flight school, where an unexpected talent had shown itself. Talent had led him to job after job, always seeking the right ship, the right crew, and the right captain. Hiro just knew that the others he’d worked for weren’t the ones he was supposed to be with. How he knew that, he wasn’t sure. But he’d know it when he saw it.
It was Serenity that had turned out to be his godsend. This was a ship he could fly well, with a captain that didn’t care if he could bend time or bend taffy as long as he could keep his ship in the sky. Then there was Claire. First mate, veteran, beautiful, and capable of handing him his own head on a platter, he’d fallen for her almost instantly. She, even more than the ship and its captain, had convinced him he’d found his way.
And if he couldn’t drag the whole ship forward in time to meet a deadline, at least he’d figured out how to never be late for dinner.
“Ah-ha-ha! Mine is an evil laugh! Rwar!” the t-rex growled, chomping on the stegosaurus.
“Oh dear God in heaven!” the stegosaurus cried.
As the bloodless battle washed over the radar, blinking lights that were not part of Dino-Land alerted Hiro that the real world was about to intrude. Swearing creatively, he swept his tableau aside to look at the incoming blips more carefully. Recognizing the signatures, he nearly fell out of his chair to grab the comm.
Out in the black, the hatch door blasted past the others, revealing the cases of cargo within. Elle began hauling them out as Hiro’s call came in.
“Alliance cruiser headed this way!”
“If they find us with this stuff, we’re humped,” Elle growled, tugging the cases out violently.
“If they find us here at all, we’re humped,” Claire corrected. With Nathan, the three of them each grabbed a case and began to push themselves upward through the wreckage.
“They’re coming right toward us,” Hiro said. Nathan turned to look through the black, spying the familiar enormous angular bulk of the cruiser, all massive sides and pointed ends, glimmering with lights and dotted with docking ports. Too familiar…
“Shut everything down!” Nathan ordered.
“Molly, go to blackout, we’re being buzzed,” Hiro’s voice rang out in the mostly-empty corridors. Out from the galley ran the ship’s engineer, a slender, cheerful-faced young woman in her early twenties, her long light brown hair streaming behind her in an untidy tangle. Down one set of stairs and through a corridor, she reached the warm glow of the engine room in record time. Leaping up onto a strut, she started slapping one bank of switches after another, pulling a lever, yanking a cord, twisting a dial with the ease that only came from personally repairing and rebuilding the room from the ground up at least twice.
The room plunged into darkness, and Molly was stuck on the strut, clinging to it so she wouldn’t inadvertently pull out any vital wires in a leap down. She made an annoyed face in the darkness and just stayed put, hoping it wouldn’t be too long.
“Molly? Where are the others?” Hiro’s voice whispered through the ship. Molly grinned unseen. Claire would have kicked Hiro around the galley table twice for having Molly double-check their position during missions, which was why Hiro and Molly never let her know about it. Molly closed her eyes, seeking out Claire in her mind’s eye. If she knew who she was looking for, there was nowhere in the length and breadth of the ‘verse someone could hide from her.
There was also no way the Alliance would have let her go free if they knew about her, not when she could find their fugitives for them. Which was why her dad Matt and her sometimes-boyfriend Micah had made sure she was as well-versed in starship mechanics as her natural inclinations and talents could take her. A position on a constantly moving ship meant a better chance of safety.
Molly saw Claire clearly hovering by the wreck below and nodded. Fumbling around in the darkness for the comm. switch, she pressed it.
“Just where she’s supposed to be, worrywart,” she chastised gently. Hiro heaved a sigh of relief, and they both turned their attention to the looming Alliance craft.
Alliance Ship Stratus
“… about six months ago. All crew ejected. She’s just been drifting,” the comm. officer was saying. The commander looked over the wreck with a hint of interest. Scanning the fringes was a tedious job, and not one he cared for, but this wreck was the first thing approximating an event in two weeks.
“Scan it,” he ordered, and the comm. officer frowned as a blip registered.
“Residual heat,” he offered.
“Let’s get a closer look… unless you have anything to add?” the commander asked over his shoulder, stiff politeness masking unease. Leaning against the bulkhead was a tall, dark-haired man, his heavy eyebrows shadowing the expressions of his eyes. He gave the tiniest shake of his head, and the commander gave an almost inaudible sigh of relief.
“They’re getting closer… I think they spotted us,” Hiro said, alarm entering his voice.
“Power up,” Nathan ordered instantly, as the three drifted upward, the cargo bay hatch only a few yards away. Inside, Molly gratefully began bringing Serenity back to life, power thrumming through her engines. “Crybaby cry,” Nathan added decisively.
“Make your mother sigh,” Hiro finished, a small grin crossing his face. “Activating the Crybaby.”
Further out in the black, away from wreck and cruiser, an empty cargo drum bristling with doctored transmitters began to blare on a wide band.
“Sir, I’m getting a distress call from… sounds like a personnel carrier,” the comm. officer said suddenly.
The commander glared at the now-active reading from the Firefly, clearly visible on the scanners as it powered up. “Vultures feeding off the bones of the dead,” he said with a superior sniff. “The personnel carrier takes priority though. Put out a bulletin on the Firefly; I want these people caught as soon as they hit the net. Let’s go help the carrier, helmsman.”
The cargo hatch closed with a solid tung, and Nathan activated the atmosphere recycler. Air and gravity returned abruptly, dropping the three now-heavy crates to the deck.
“We’re in Hiro, go!” Nathan called.
The faint vibration picked up to a bone-deep rumble, as the engines moved them off the wreck and into open space.
“Let’s moon ‘em!” Elle said with a savage smile. Hiro was far from loathe, and the vibration became all-encompassing as he brought Serenity about. With a flare of power and yellow energy from the vanes of insect-like vents, Serenity vanished into the black, leaving the cruiser far behind.
Chortling at their escape, Elle began to haul the crates further into the cargo bay.
“Any one you can walk away from, I’d call that a win,” she said, eyes dancing as she saw profit in every line of the insignificant-looking crates.
“Yeah,” Nathan said softly, looking around at the small, held-together ship, his small crew, and his small criminal life. He loved them all; they were all he had, all the freedom he could count on…
I could be bound in a nutshell and count myself the king of infinite space, were not that I had bad dreams.
Serenity’s Crew/Heroes cast conversion roster. (For those interested in the thinking behind these choices, pop over to here: Big Damn Heroes Casting Choices.)
Captain Malcom Reynolds – Nathan Petrelli
Zoë – Claire Bennet
Wash – Hiro Nakamura
Jayne – Elle Bishop
Inara – Jessica Sanders
Kaylee – Molly Walker
Dr. Simon Tam – Dr. Mohinder Suresh
River Tam – Peter Petrelli
Shepard Book – Monica Dawson