Chapter 1: This Changes Everything
I had it all. First mate to a captain I admired and respected. Great shipmates...well, mostly. An adoring husband I loved very much. And, a baby girl - our first - due in seven months. Sad thing is, that man o' mine never knew. Figured Wash wouldn't be too keen on the notion, given our previous discussions on the topic. Was gonna tell him - really - but...a reaver harpoon laid waste to that option.
It's been eight years since that fateful day. They say time heals all wounds. Not this one. It festers, made worse by a recurring nightmare. In it, I relive the events of that day - the race to Mr. Universe's complex, the crash landing. I can still hear the last words my man spoke, proud as he was that we were all still alive.
"I'm a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar."
There may have been more. Guess I'll never know. Kinda hard to wax poetic with a long hunk o' metal stuck in your chest. Anyway, as I attempt in vain to resuscitate my dearly departed, a second harpoon slices into the bridge. Mal tackles me just in time, lest I be the second casualty.
"C'mon Zoe - we gotta go - now!"
As Mal drags me out o' the bridge, Wash raises his head and turns toward us, speaking as if he were a puppet, with someone's hand moving his mouth.
"Zoe, come back! Don't leave me here!
I frantically try to get back to Wash but Mal will have none of it. As I scream out his name one last time, I suddenly awaken, strewn out on my bed, drenched in a cold sweat, shakin' like a leaf, though presumably not the one Wash alluded to.
Invariably, Emma, the daughter I spoke of - she's seven now - rushes into the room and into my arms. As we embrace, the conversation is always the same.
"Mommy, mommy...are you ok?"
"Yes, sweetie. Just a bad dream."
"The same one...about daddy?"
But last night, the ending was different. Emma asked somethin' she never had before.
"Mommy...will I ever get to meet daddy?"
I hesitated, not knowin' how to answer, but these words somehow managed to exit my mouth.
"Don't know, baby. Maybe in heaven."
Now don't take that to mean any o' Shepherd Book's sermons rubbed off on me. Never was a God-fearin' woman...still ain't. But somethin' he told Mal 'fore he passed has stuck with me all these years.
"I don't care what you believe in, just believe in it."
Never could accept the idea that my man was gone forever. Wanted to believe that somehow, some way he survived. That my eyes had lied to me. That maybe this dream was tryin' to tell me somethin'.
Today, a face from the past reinforced that belief: Elias Evans - Book's evil twin, as he likes to call himself - a spittin' image of the preacherman. Says after weeks of searchin', he finally tracked me down...with the news I've wanted to hear for so long but dare not give credence to: Wash might still be alive!
I've said my goodbyes to Emma - she's stayin' with a nice elderly couple that think of her as their granddaughter. A mission like this is way too dangerous for a young lady unschooled in the ways of a warrior.
With renewed vigor, I set out with Mr. Evans to verify his claim. If Wash endures, we rescue him... bring him back to Goreaud...become a family. If not, well, every gorram son-of-a-bitch that even looks at me sideways is in for a world o' hurt.
But first...a pit stop...at Santo. Seems a certain down-on-his-luck captain needs a reason to live.