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"River," Simon whispered as he descended down the ladder to the cabin he shared with his sister. "River, are you okay?"

"Fine," the young girl reassured him, pulling out a sheet of paper and beginning to draw on it with a charcoal pencil. Some of her strokes contained a strange fury, and at more than one point Simon was afraid she would break the tool in half. He kept his mouth shut as she drew, watching as the lines slowly fell together and constructed something that resembled a ship: no model that Simon was familiar with, streamlined and dark in a background of cloudy stars.

"Safer on the run," River murmured as she drew. "Like us. He can't settle down; can't wait for the rings to rise, can't wait until it's dark enough to see or they might catch up."

Simon's hair stood on end as he drew up a nearby chair. River didn't really truly babble much around the crew anymore. But it was new minds - the mind of the Serenity's latest passenger - that made things difficult for her to translate the usual cryptic phrases. "Who?"

"Riddick."

"I know Riddick, but who might catch up to h-?"

"It's not his fault."

A few more sharp additions and suddenly the ship became an eyeless creature, encroached in shadow. Simon placed a hand on his sister's shoulder and leaned forward so that she would pause in her sketching to look him in the face. "What's not his fault, River? Who is he running from?"

River placed a few more dark marks on the drawing and then put away the charcoal, looking down at the black monster hovering in the middle of the paper. "Death."

- - -

Mal started in on his ninth game of solitaire. He dealt the cards on the table in silence, refusing to meet the prisoner's steady gaze while he played; Riddick's black goggles made him look as if he never blinked.

"Sir," Zoë called warily from the cockpit. "We've got an inbound Alliance cruiser: Tohoku-class."

The captain paused, eyes fixed on the apricot in his hand. "They seen us?" he called back. Though there weren't hardly any fireflies left in the black, any that came close to the inner ring had been 'decommissioned'. The Operative may not have revealed to his former employers what had ever happened to Serenity, but the feds certainly knew of the ship's existence, and that meant no more visits to the core and no more near-brushes with Alliance ships of any kind. A Tohoku-class cruiser was not just bad because of its government ties, but because it was so far from the realm of its usual jurisdiction, and that mean that Serenity was being pushed even further into the outer rim than ever before.

"Yes, sir: they mean to board. We're close enough it's almost certain we've been ID-ed. When that happens-"

"Wǒmen dédào qiē suì chéng xiǎo kuài," Mal finished, gritting his teeth and tossing the card away. He to his feet and walked to the doorway, but remained there and glanced back at the hulking convict in the corner. "Any planets around?"

"Cygnus, sir. If we hurry we might make it, but they'll try and intercept us if we do."

"I imagine somethin'd be wrong if they didn't. Order everyone to their stations and tell them to strap in," Mal commanded, turning to prepare for the new adventure. "We bolt first chance we get."

"So you're not even real mercs, are ya?" Riddick sneered from where he sat. "Wanted criminals tryin' for the bounty on another wanted criminal. You're bringin' shame to the game: whose bright idea was that?"

Mal shot him another glare.

- - -

River buckled into the pilot's chair and took hold of the wheel, sensing Mal's anxiousness as he watched her. She heard the question before he even spoke it.

"Are you sure you can-"

"Yes," River murmured calmly, slowly tightening her grip in preparation for what was to come. "I'm ready."

Mal pulled down the copilot microphone. "This is the captain speaking," he said bluntly. "All personnel should be secured to the ship in some form or fashion immediately if they're not already. Failure to comply will likely result in death by stupidity."

"Hold on tight," River told him with a small, eager smile.

"SERENITY, FIREFLY CLASS TRANSPORT," a tense voice filtered through the speakers. "YOU ARE HEREBY ORDERED TO RELEASE HELM CONTROL, DOCK IMMEDIATELY, AND PREPARE TO BE BOARDED. ANY ACT OF RESISTANCE BEYOND THIS POINT WILL BE CONSIDERED A REBELLION AGAINST THE ALLIANCE, AND YOU WILL BE FIRED UPON. I REPEAT: YOU WILL BE FIRED UPON."

"For fires consume every stone, every tree, and thickets of tyranny smolder by war," River whispered. Her eyes traveled up and down the lighted windows of the Tohoku cruiser as they drifted slowly closer. "From the ashes of empires, new forests grow free: the restless unrooted survive, as before."

Mal started to grow restless: he glanced at River, waiting for her to initiate evasive maneuvers. "We can just… go ahead and skedaddle now, Wordsworth."

"Your flames shall not turn their cruel touch upon me: I'm a leaf on the wind," River finished adamantly.  "Watch how I soar."

She turned the wheel nearly upside-down and pulled the throttle back hard: Serenity changed course so suddenly that to the onlookers on the cruiser, it almost looked as if the Firefly had suddenly vanished from one spot and appeared in another moments later, shooting away and leaving only a faint trail of momentary golden light in its wake.

There was little turbulence to be felt onboard the fleeing vessel in question, due to the fact that their artificial gravity changed with the position of the ship, but everyone riding knew that as soon as they reached the atmosphere of Cygnus, all Hell would break loose.

Or, at least, more of it than had been unleashed already; the gunships that were immediately deployed from the Alliance cruiser had opened fire on Serenity. The tiny ship's only advantages were its small size, its slight head-start, and its psychic pilot.

River's hands flew over the controls like lightning, flipping switches and adjusting settings so fast that Mal could hear the firefly groan near audibly as it was pushed to its limits. The thrusters were in constant motion, spinning back and forth to propel the ship hither and thither through the field of combat: back and forth between streams of deadly laser beams, here and there between darting gunner shuttles, but always closer and closer to open space where a break could be made for Cygnus. Though no one was around to see, the engine deep within the hold was rotating so fast that friction was causing sparks to fly off from both ends.

For all of River's abilities, shots still riddled the flanks of the firefly with dangerous grazes before it got free. One of the turbines took a bad hit and temporarily ignited, spewing smoke for a brief moment before the empty black sucked it all into oblivion. River used the thin veil of debris to her advantage as best she could, twisting the ship around for a moment to hinder the vision of their hunters at least somewhat while Serenity darted away.

Mal's eyes scanned the surrounding screens intently. "There's a gunship on our tail-"

"Saw him," River snapped. Her sudden venom surprised the captain a bit, but if her mind was mostly intact he didn't really mind what she said so long as the boat kept up.

A flash of light suddenly broke across the windshield and illuminated the cockpit. It was warm, impenetrable, and almost too bright to see through: the Cygnus star.

"Morning," River said almost cheerfully, squinting at her controls through the sunlight as she maneuvered the ship suddenly upwards; the pilot of the pursuing shuttle would be temporarily blinded enough to lose his lead on the firefly for a minute or two.

Mal engaged the intercom. "We're breaking atmo, entering the gravitational p-"

The ship jerked so suddenly that its passengers lurched forward and back: Mal nearly ate his microphone in the process. "Tū hóu de érzi!" he exclaimed, grabbing onto the sides of his seat to brace himself. "Duìyú kū chū shēng lái, try to hold'er steady, will you?"

Serenity rattled loudly as it ran parallel to the Cygnus air, sliding its belly through first before the rest of it penetrated the vague barrier and burned with the intensity of entry. Objects toppled off of shelves and flew out of unfastened boxes all over the ship, hurtling about as the Firefly changed course suddenly and rolled away to one side to shake off its pursuers.

Mal's heart flew into his throat for a moment and he groaned as his head spun. "Wǒ kěyǐ tǔ zài nǐ shēnshang…"

"Still on," River murmured. "They can hear you."

Mal shot his hand up and disengaged the microphone. "Less spinnin' would be nice."

"One of our turbines is writing its last will and testament," River replied bluntly, flicking switches without removing her eyes from the approaching landscape. "More spinning reduces the entropy of trying to fly straight with a dying thruster and makes our pursuers less expectant of a sharp turn."

It was a pity that it was probably the largest group of sane words that River had uttered in the past month, because Mal could barely understand what she had just said.

"Uh… right. So can we lose 'em?"

"Need to get out of scanning range and find a good place to crash."

"Crash?"

"Crash."

Mal sighed. "Shiny."
Part 2: [link]

Part 4: [link]
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:iconartandlight:
Artandlight Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2011
"You're bringin' shame to the game: whose bright idea was that?" LOL exactly what I was thinking shame on you mal for turning in one of your own. Also this is the best writen chapter so far many many good lines in here. Also did that poem come from any place or was it all you (Other than the leaf on the wind part of course :D We know thats all wash) any way much love
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:iconambassador-brouwer:
ambassador-brouwer Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Yes, all the poems in my Deviations are mine - though of course this one wouldn't exist without Hoban Washburne.
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:iconmiss-kaori:
Miss-Kaori Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2011
I never watched the Riddick series, but this is great! I just wish you'd have the translations. ^^;
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:iconambassador-brouwer:
ambassador-brouwer Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Translations of what?

...or do you mean transitions?
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:iconmiss-kaori:
Miss-Kaori Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2011
No, I meant translation, I was talking about the Chinese, I always had subtitles on when watching Firefly; So, I really very interested to know what they're saying. :D
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:iconambassador-brouwer:
ambassador-brouwer Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Oh, right! :blush: Well, you see, for most of my fan fictions, whenever I write phrases in another language, the words are usually pretty redundant - the English is enough to get the point across. I just use the other languages to help with the aura of the story, like in my Jason Bourne fan fiction. And I didn't really feel like there was a need to be as vulgar as the show if nobody could understand it...

So, in cases like this, the Chinese really only means stuff like "I think I'm going to be sick," or "You're a complete moron," or "We're all gonna die."
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:iconmiss-kaori:
Miss-Kaori Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
Ah! Thank you~
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:iconhellhoundp2k:
hellhoundp2k Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Gorgeous. 8D The action is so perfect, like the previous chapters, I can so easily, easily visualize all of this. I love it, so much! Keep writing!
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:iconambassador-brouwer:
ambassador-brouwer Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks! I appreciate it!
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:iconangelbaby11231:
Angelbaby11231 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Awesome sauce
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:iconambassador-brouwer:
ambassador-brouwer Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks!
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