Chapter 5

Jayne smirked, those two security guards were never gonna get their clothes back. He hoped they'd be off the yacht in time to watch them emerge from the shed in their skivvies. That'd be a sight, two grown men tryin' to sneak through a busy space port in nothing but greyish underwear.

He kept his amusement on his face, knowin' a cheerful grin was more likely to get them through security than a grim awareness they could be walkin' into a coffin. The five men workin' security on the outside didn't give them a second glance, wavin' them inside.

Crew must'ha just signed on to not notice two of them had been replaced with he and Mal. What was the point of security if nobody knew which faces belonged an' which didn't? Jayne snorted, rich people, always felt safer with security, but if you knew even basic tricks like stealin' a uniform it was worse than if they didn't have any security at all, since they weren't expectin' folk like them gettin' close. Feelin' like this might go better than most of Mal's plans Jayne strode behind Mal into the ship, exuding brash confidence.

The ship lurched in the unmistakable motion of lift off, and the guards who waved them in started to give them second glances. One's face drew into confusion, and he started to approach. Jayne drew his gun, pointing it at him. Someone yelled "gun!" panicking the small crowd in the entry bay.

What on earth was Jayne up to? Mal turned at the yell of 'gun!' to see Jayne pointing a pistol at one of the guards. He saw several of the crew members fumbling to get their wallets out, and a few with their hands in the air. Jayne moved closer to the wallet offering crew members. What was he doing? This wasn't a stick up. It never went smooth.

As he was about to yell at Jayne he noticed one of the security guards drawing his weapon, before he could get unholstered Jayne shot him in the face, as he pulled one of the crew members close to use as a shield.

The room erupted in panicked screams as the crew milled in frenetic confusion. Mal turned and fired on a second guard. Jayne dispatched the third. The crowd frenzied into the corridors leading off the entry way, and though Mal managed to get the fourth guard before he got deeper into the ship the fifth blended in with the confusion and disappeared.

"So much for in an' out with no fuss." Mal grumbled.

Jayne attempted to laugh, "What would be the fun in that Capn?"

The man he was holding struggled against his arm, but Jayne only squeezed tighter until he passed out, lowering him to the floor. Jayne relieved the man of his wallet, and they nosed deeper into the ship with Mal on point and Jayne on his six. Mal rounded a corner, adrenaline pumping, nothing. Then another, empty. Another, no one. The bubble in his chest softened, morphing from dread into something lighter.

Alarm klaxons blared. They were humped. Well and truly humped.

Mal had done his fair share of urban fighting during the war and a spaceship gun fight would be a nightmare. Corridors rounding back on each other, bulkhead doors could be closed and compartments vented to space. And they were outnumbered. He had a fair guess as to where they were going, but weren't no guarantee it was right.

He stopped, holstered his pistol and grabbed a bigger gun out his bag. Turning, he saw Jayne fastening a row grenades to his belt, Vera slung over his shoulder.

This was going to be tricky. They had only minutes before the ship broke atmo, once they were clear there was nothing to stand in the way of simply opening hatchways and sucking the pair of them out to space.Their only chance was to move fast and hope the enemy didn't manage to encircle them. Jayne gave him a tight nod, and began to run.

Rounding a corner Mal spotted two crew members, Jayne shot one while he got the other. Running past their bodies Mal tried not to notice they were unarmed. They rounded the next two turns without meeting anyone, but on the third Mal barely made it back into cover before bullets zinged past.

He counted two guards moving quickly toward them. Jayne fired Vera and one went down, but the other kept coming, not even glancing at his fallen comrade. He fired indiscriminately at them, Mal fired back, hitting him in the leg. He went down hard, losing his gun. As he started to move toward it, Jayne shot him again, leaving him motionless. They couldn't leave anyone who might move in behind them.

Mal ignored his flesh and scar tissue pulling against him, the consequences of his last tangle against stacked odds. Increasing his pace he checked the map. They raced toward the estate chambers where Inara was most likely to be.


Twisting, he saw four guards moving behind them, getting into cover by using a fork in the hall.

"Jayne, grenade."

Eyes down the corridor Jayne unclipped one, handing it him. Mal turned the top and tossed it in the midst of the four guards. There was a chance of hull breach but speed was more important than possibilities. He ducked down, covering his ears.The grenade exploded into screams of pain. Breathing a sigh of relief he motioned to Jayne and stood up to move forward.

Whump. Air whistled past him, knocking him to his knees, his body pulled by the vacuum toward the hole in the bulkhead. Jayne grabbed him flinging him to the floor. A heavy door slammed shut where he had been, sealing the breach.

The hall started to shake, knowing they wouldn't have much time before the entire ship ripped apart in atmo Mal sprinted down the next two corridors. They were empty. It appeared as though most of the security guards were on the other side of the hull breach. Well. Score one for reckless grenade tossing.

They were getting close, the spartan corridors giving way to rich furnishings. Alarm klaxons punctured by words, "All hands report to damage control stations. Suǒyǒu de rén bàogào gěi pòhuài kòngzhì zhàn." The lights cut out, replaced with red emergency light strips on the floor.

Mal raced along the corridor, if the emergency lighting was on they were down to their last seconds before the ship crashed or exploded under atmospheric forces. Wrenching open a set of ornate doors Mal stopped racing, there was Inara. She looked at him haughtily. Jayne moved up next to him covering their backs as Mal gestured for her to come to them.

"I'm not going anywhere." She said. She was decked in a deep red gown, and perfectly coiffed and poised, acting as though nothing was out of the ordinary, even as the ship lurched under their feet.

"What do ya mean yer not goin' anywhere?" Mal said lowering his pistol in confusion as klaxons blared around them.

"You shouldn't have come Mal. This is where I belong." Inara's voice was hard as she spoke, as if she were biting each word as it left her lips.

"Mal, we gotta go." Jayne interrupted, covering the hallway behind them with his gun.

"Bì zuǐ!" Mal yelled at Jayne, continuing to stare at Inara. She lowered her gaze as another voice spoke, "Bao bei."

"All hands report to damage control stations." The loudspeakers blared as an aristocratic man stepped through a doorway on the far side of the room, a pistol in one hand.

"Inara." Mal said, the word barely leaving his mouth before the sound of a gunshot reverberated in the confined space.

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