Pairings: Kirk/McCoy (background)
Word Count: 2,543
Summary: Star Trek/Firefly x-over. Jim Kirk versus The Operative. Sequel to Gao Guhn and Fei Hua.
Disclaimer: I know this may come as a shock, but I am not, amazing as it may seem, Gene Roddenberry, J.J. Abrams, Paramount or Bad Robot. Joss Whedon, Fox, or Universal, either. Just so you know.
Jeo-shung yong-jur goo-jang. Jien-cha yong-chi gong yin...
The automated computer warning rings in Mal’s ears along with the after-effects of the explosion. He must’ve been knocked out for at least a second, the way his head hurts.
“Oof,” Mal grunts, looking around. Wash is slumped over the controls of the bridge, Zoe and Jayne shouting to one another down in the common area as they try to put the fires out.
“Captain Reynolds.” The Operative’s voice through the cortex is soft, pleading. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Hand over the girl. That’s all you have to do. Hand her over, and we’ll let you go. You only have minutes of life support left.”
Jeo-shung yong-jur goo-jang. Jien-cha yong-chi gong yin.
Mal stumbles to his feet, bending down to send a wave back in an answer. “What was that for, you tyen-sah duh uh-muo?”
The Operative’s eyes are very wide. “It was a warning, Captain Reynolds. I suggest you take heed, and do what you can. Save yourselves now.”
Two hours earlier…
“Uhura, have I ever told you you have the most beautiful voice in the universe?” Kirk is grinning into the cortex like a fool.
“Captain!” The woman’s voice is surprised and relieved; it’s a low voice, confident. Mal likes the sound of it. “Sir, where are you? Where have you been?”
“Transmitting coordinates now.” Kirk nods at Wash, who beams back at him as he punches a series of commands into the console.
“Receiving, sir.” Uhura sounds excited. “You’re two hours away at Warp Two.”
“Two hours is tidy,” Mal says.
“That can’t be right.” Wash’s brow is wrinkled in confusion. He turns to Kirk. “I thought you said they were lightyears off from here?”
“Yeah, around three, if they’re that close,” Kirk says without a thought. Mal and Wash exchange a look of bemusement mixed with astonishment as he resumes his wave. “This ship doesn’t have warp drive, you’ll have to come pick us up. Hope Spock’s been keeping my chair warm.”
“Captain.” A man’s voice, faintly disapproving. “I am relieved to receive communication after such an extended period of time. Might I query as to the nature of the, as you would say, ‘hold up’?”
“Long story, Spock,” Kirk replies. His grin fades as he continues. “How’s Bones?”
“Doctor McCoy has been most vocal regarding your mission. He will be most relieved to know of your continued welfare.”
Kirk’s lips twitch for a moment. “Can you find him for me? Just for a sec?”
“You seem to have a good crew, Captain,” Mal says to Kirk while the connection is transferred. He’d already decided he liked the man, but his crew’s clear pleasure at hearing from their captain speaks to the kind of loyalty in folk Mal respects.
Kirk gives him a small smile, blue eyes bright. “They’re the best in the fleet,” he says with no small amount of pride—and it’s pride in them more than anything. Mal feels his own lips twitch in response, and then there’s another voice on the wave.
“Jim?!” It’s a man’s voice, gravelly and exasperated and—something else. Something Mal can’t quite identify.
“Hi, Bones. Miss me?” Kirk’s tone is jovial and soothing at once.
“Dammit, Jim.” An exasperated sigh. “When are you getting back here?”
“Two hours or so. We—“ He breaks off as the signal dissolves into static. He turns to Wash, who’s busy punching commands into console. “What happened?”
“Don’t know.” Wash frowns. “It’s like the signal got cut off—“
“Hello.” Another man’s voice, low and cultured. A man from the Core. “I wish to speak to Captain Malcolm Reynolds.”
Wash frowns. “Oh, juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan...” he mutters to himself, punching a series of buttons. Abruptly, a man’s face appears on the cortex vidscreen.
“You’re lookin’ at ‘im,” Mal says. “Who do I have the doubtful pleasure of—“
“I have no name,” the man says. “I am merely an Operative of the Alliance. I wish to make a deal with you, Captain.”
“Well that’s all very interesting, now,” Mal says slowly, trying to hedge for time. Kirk’s got his mouth shut, his expression carefully neutral as Wash continues to work. “I wasn’t aware the Alliance was o’erfond of doing business with private contractors like myself.”
The Operative smiles. It’s not a pleasant look. Mal feels cold along his spine; it’s not unlike talking to a snake, talking to this hwoon dahn. “This is true. We are willing to make an exception in your case. In fact, one of our cruisers will be within docking distance of your ship within ten minutes.” Wash looks up at that, glancing back to Mal. They share the same thought: cruisers are fast; if they’re that close they can run but there’s not much good they can do. “We’d like to propose a trade.”
“Oh really?” Mal asks, keeping his voice cool. Kirk eyes him uncertainly, but he keeps his focus on the Operative. “Sounds interestin’. Go on.”
“The Tams. I want them.”
Mal keeps his breathing easy. He’s not sure if it’s better they want the doc and the moonbeam more than Kirk, or not. “Don’t know who yer talkin’ ‘bout. No one here o’ that name.”
“Spare me the song and dance, please,” the Operative says. “We know they’re aboard your ship. We know they will be within our custody shortly. The question is: what is going to happen in the next few minutes. I have a suggestion: We dock with your ship, our agents come aboard, take what’s ours, and we go our separate ways as unlikely friends.”
“As unlikely friends,” Mal echoes. “Somehow I doubt that. And those kids aren’t yours.”
“You’re an educated man, Captain,” the Operative says. “You’ve read The Republic, I assume?”
“Didn’t care for it,” Mal says shortly. “Point. Get to it.”
The Operative gives him a short nod of acknowledgement. “Vae victus, Captain. Might makes right.” He gestures and the vidscreen angle changes, pulling back to show the length and breadth of the battlecruiser’s bridge. A dozen people in immaculate uniforms sit at gleaming consoles, all of them with their heads down as they work busily at—whatever they’re doing. “You are outnumbered and outgunned, Captain Reynolds. We know there are five crewmen on your vessel, plus two passengers. And the Tams.”
Kirk’s eyes meet his, and Mal knows they’re thinking the same thing. They don’t have a clue who Kirk is. Ace in the hole. Kirk gives him an infinitesimal twitch of the eyebrows in permission.
Mal puts on his best confident Captain’s smile as he turns back to the vidscreen. “Actually not so much,” he says. “M’friend Captain Kirk here’s got a ship could blow holes in your ship wide enough for Serenity to fly through.”
“Really?” The Operative smiles pleasantly, the sort of expression men wear when entertaining elderly maiden aunts. Humoring him. “And does this ship of his also have nuclear ballistics? Because we do.”
Mal swallows. Serenity’s got nothing, and the hwoon dahn knows it. To his surprise, this is when Kirk chooses to jump in.
“Photon torpedos, actually,” he says, expression as serious as Mal has ever seen it. “Standard complement for a Constitution-class starship.”
The Operative blinks. “Of course,” he says blandly, and Mal swallows the urge to make a face at him. The man has no idea what Kirk just said and is bluffing. Of course, neither does Mal, but he figures he can pull a better bluff than this guy.
“You should see ‘em,” he says coolly. “Awfully shiny stuff. All—photon-ey—and all.”
Kirk shoots him an irritated glance. “Right,” he says slowly, drawing the word out. “All—photon-ey. The point is, my people are on their way, and you should keep that in mind before things get—too interesting.”
“Hmm. Let me think about that.” The Operative ponders for a second. “Right, I’ve thought about it.” He turns to one of his nearby lackeys. “Fire.”
Jeo-shung yong-jur goo-jang. Jien-cha yong-chi gong yin...
The air feels thick, though Mal knows it’s less to do with the actual smoke than the lack of oxygen. There’s a breach somewhere, and if Kaylee can’t fix it, or isn’t able to—
“Time is running out, Captain.” The Operative’s voice; they’ve lost vid capabilities, apparently.
Kirk groans nearby; he was thrown farther than Mal when they were hit. Something chirps in his pocket, and he reaches for it. “Spock?” he says into a small black device. “Thank God. Look, can you lock onto our lifesigns? There should be nine of us altogether. Yeah? Tell Sulu to do what he’s gotta do. Oh, now would be a good time.”
Mal wishes he knew what the hell that was about, but that’s when the air starts to sparkle around him. “Wuh de tyen, ah!” he cries out as the dazzle becomes all-encompassing, and all of a sudden they are—elsewhere.
They are on some sort of raised platform with lights above and below. All of them: Book catches Wash as the man starts to crumple to the floor; he looks about blearily, face bruised and bleeding. Zoe and Kaylee are coughing, the two of them with their faces dark from smoke. Jayne frowns, puzzled into silence. Simon is inspecting Wash, and River looks around with that odd gaze that seems to see clearly—just not in this world.
“Wooo!” The exultant shout comes from a man in a bright red tunic behind a glass window at some sort of machine. “Good tae see ye back, sir!” he says to Kirk.
Kirk pushes himself up, grinning. “Likewise, Scotty.” He looks at the others, frowning as he sees Wash, Zoe, and Kaylee. “Call for a medteam, would you? I need to get to the bridge.” He’s already moving, and Mal follows him—as does River.
“Explain, Captain,” Mal says to Kirk as he moves at a fast clip through the ship. A ship that gleams brightly from every surface, with brightly-colored crewmen in the halls. He’s never seen anything like it. “Hell just happened?”
“Our matter was analyzed and deconstructed at the molecular level before being reintegrated at a separate location,” says the moonbeam as they reach something like an elevator. “The data transmission from the point of origin to the new axis point was unexpected. I feel sick,” she clarifies at his blank expression.
“Bridge,” Kirk orders into the air, and the elevator begins to move—sideways and up. He turns to River. “Try not to throw up, okay, mei-mei?”
She gives him a sickly smile. “Affirmative, Captain.”
The elevator opens up to a gleaming bridge with a large vidscreen at the front. Everyone turns as they enter. A man in a blue tunic with pointed ears who had been sitting in a central chair gets up immediately.
“Captain,” he says, standing to the side with his hands clasped behind his back. He surveys Mal and River curiously, but says nothing.
“Sight for sore eyes, Spock.” Kirk claps the man on the back as he sits in the chair. “Has the Alliance cruiser been hailed yet, Uhura?” he asks a dark woman in a red dress nearby.
“Not yet, Captain,” she answers.
“We arrived two point six minutes ago, Captain,” says Spock. “When we lost your signal, we proceeded with due haste. I trust your mission was—interesting?”
“Something like that,” Kirk says with a grin. He exchanges a glance with Mal. “We got Serenity behind our shields, Sulu?”
“Aye, sir,” says a man at a console before them. He turns around in his chair to give his report. “We have her in tractor beam, too. She’s damaged but her structural integrity should be maintained within the beam.”
Mal releases a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Thank you,” he murmurs. “Tyen shiao duh!”
Kirk glances at him, and they share a look of complete understanding. He turns back to Uhura. “Open a hailing frequency to the Alliance cruiser.”
The Operative appears on the vidscreen, and to Mal’s delight, he does not appear to be a happy camper.
“Greetings,” Kirk says. “I’m Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation starship Enterprise. The crew of the Serenity has requested political asylum and it has been granted. Might I suggest you cease all hostilities? Like, oh, say, now?”
“We do not recognize any Federation,” the Operative says slowly. “I warn you, we will fire on your vessel.”
The man named Spock turns so that his back is to the vidscreen. “They are armed with nuclear missiles, Captain,” he says to Kirk. “They pose little threat.”
“They are hounds and think we’re foxes,” River states. She turns to Mal. “The animals here come two by two. The ark grows, but Noah only lets them in if they play nice. I’m a monkee,” she adds to Spock.
The man raises an eloquent eyebrow at her. “Fascinating,” he murmurs.
“Yeah,” says Kirk quietly, “tell me about it.” Louder, he continues, “Sulu, fire a warning shot across their bow.”
“Aye, sir.” The man complies, punching a short series of commands into his console.
The image of the Operative rocks on the vidscreen, and he looks unhappier than ever.
Kirk beams at him. “So,” he says almost lazily, “how about that ceasing of hostilities? That sound better now?”
Mal ducks down. “Could you shoot him just once?” he asks quietly. “Just a little one? Payback and all?”
Kirk can’t quite repress a smile. “Tempting,” he answers. “One sec.” He flips a switch on the arm of his chair. “Kirk to McCoy. How are our guests?”
“They’re fine, Jim,” a man’s voice answers. “Close thing, though. Any more smoke inhalation and things could’ve gotten ugly.”
“Thanks for the report. I’ll talk to you later, Bones.”
“Better.” The man’s voice is gruff, but there’s pleasure in it all the same.
Kirk flips the switch, then turns to the Operative expectantly.
“We will withdraw,” the man on the vidscreen says, visibly unhappy. “But the entire crew of the Serenity are now considered fugitives from justice.”
The Operative severs their communications, and his image is replaced with one of the great Alliance battlecruisers. It seems…smaller, than it should. It turns and speeds away.
“You’re a wanted man, Mal,” Kirk says. “But you’re on Enterprise now. I’m serious about the political asylum—we can take you into Federation space. You can even go to Earth, if you want.”
Mal had thought the man was joking about that. “Yeah,” he says, “I’ll think about it.”
“The raven brought the moon back with the wolf,” River tells Mal very seriously. “Didn’t you know?”
Kirk chuckles; as usual, he seems to be the only one who can follow the moonbeam. “C’mon, guys, let’s go down to Sickbay. We all have folks we want to see.” He turns to Spock. “Think you can mind the store for me a little longer?”
“Doctor McCoy will undoubtedly have something to say if I do not,” he says blandly, before allowing himself a small twitch of the lips. He nods at Kirk. “I am gratified at your return, Captain.”
Kirk grins. “Yeah,” he says, “it’s good to be home.”