“They’ll come at you sideways. It’s how they think. It’s how they move.” Shepherd Book (Serenity)
BEFORE: SPIDER & FLY AND DROPS OF WATER
Everyone knows how hide-and-seek works. You can’t hide forever. But the odds are usually in your favor. There’s only one person looking for many. But what happens when the odds are flipped and it’s many looking for one?
After they took LIBERATION to StratX Salvage Yards for repairs and upgrades, the crew split up. Mack, Abel, and Zan went to Hangar 84B in town to check in on the Ice Pony, Doc Edward’s stolen ship. Pennington, Benjamin, Quinn, and Edward rode out on a salvage job in the Barrens. But, Randa and T’sien remained to continue their personal projects.
But in the end, the trip to 84B turned out to be a trap. Asante and some of her bounty hunters were already there, and took out Abel and Mack with Zan’s help.
So Benjamin loaded up the rest of the crew and headed out to Hangar 84B to rescue the two knuckleheads. But again, the entire thing was a trap. Before they entered the hangar, a man in a dirty leather trench and wide brimmed hat stepped out of the shadows.
“Will you walk into my parlour?” he said in a gravelly voice. “Said the Spider to the Fly.”
But of course, Benjamin won’t go silently. All hell broke loose. The man slipped back into the cover of the alley as the crew cracked off shots at him. Everyone kept blasting. The crew has usually resorted to “might makes right” in most situations. Except for Edward.
The Doctor shoved his key card into a slot, hit a button and huge, thick, blast doors opened from the sides and the top and bottom. He rushed inside, abandoning the others. T’sien arrived at that moment, having heard the gun shots from his position on the other side of the hangar.
“Go!’ shouted Benjamin. The crew reacts to the Captain’s orders. They all pile into the dark hangar. Edwards hasn’t bothered to turn on the lights yet. Evil men love darkness, after all. The blast door opens into a short hallway that has the glow-in-the-dark arrows on the ceiling, that point to an elevator some fifty feet away.
Edward stood inside the elevator, watching as the others dashed towards him. Randa was in the front, Benjamin pulling rear guard. He fired two more shots, trying to cover their escape. The elevator doors started to close. Edwards smiled wickedly.
The elevator doors started to close. Edwards waved, the smile still on his face.
“Gorrammit!” shouted Randa as she slammed her fist on the closed elevator doors. Pennington, Benjamin, Quinn, and T’sien looked around finding no cover in the narrow hallway.
Benjamin gritted his teeth. “We stay together.” He glanced back at the open blast door some fifty feet behind them. “If he comes at us, we got nowhere to go ’til that elevator comes back.”
Quinn checked her magazine, finding it lacking. She stashed that one in a pocket, and pulled a fresh one from her belt mag pouch. Slapping it into place, she glanced at Ben. “This isn’t a good hold point.”
Randa nodded, pushing herself against the wall and pointing her rifle towards the open blast door. “We’ll be fish in a barrel,” she said. “We could try to make a run for it. Go back-“
They watched as a team of four Alliance shocktroopers ran past their field of view. They all looked at each other. Obviously the situation was getting worse. Now it wasn’t just a Federal Marshall in an alley. Now it was Alliance. Heavily armed, ready to kill.
“Bottle neck,” mumbled Pennington. “We’ll get pushed back against the elevator doors.”
T’sien nodded. “They won’t come through here.” He shook his head. “Explosives.” That’s what I would do. “Put the enemy down, then finish them off.”
“Shut up, all of you!” Benjamin’s tone was commanding. He raised his firearm. He glanced around. “Randa, rearguard. T’sien, get those elevator doors open. Now.”
Just then there was a vibration and a humming sound. The elevator was coming back. T’sien nodded to Benjamin. They both understood that anything could be in that elevator when the doors opened.
Seconds later, the doors open. It’s empty. No orders have to be given to get them all to move. As they pile into the elevator, something fastballs through the blast doors and bounces down the hallway. It hits the left wall, rebounds to the right, and spins in the middle of the floor about ten feet away. It’s a grenade, of course.
The doors close just as the thing pops off. They hear the explosion, and it deafens them all in that tiny metal room as they move ever so slowly down. Benjamin looks around at his people. Pennington and T’sien seem clam enough, considering the situation. They both have firearms but lack experience. Quinn was tough, She’d hold her own. And he could rely on Randa. She was a Browncoat. Fought in the War. The three of them would make it out, but the other two might not. And the Doctor, well, he was seriously damaging Ben’s calm at the moment.
The elevator door opened to another explosion. It blew them all off their feet. They ended up all elbows over assholes laying in the elevator on top of each other. They recover quickly, looking out into the dark, empty hangar.
Another explosion, this one to the right of them, rained down a bunch of equipment — and part of a catwalk — right in front of the door. They all ducked and cringed, waiting for the smoke and debris to clear. Benjamin looked to the others, gesturing ahead of them.
“The crates, there and there.” He pointed quickly. “Go!”
In the mostly black hangar, Benjamin and Pennington took positions behind the crates on the right. Quinn grabbed a spot on the left, putting her back against the crates. Randa stood calmly, her back to the elevator, loading her sawed-off. T’sien was inside, hacking at the panel to make sure that it won’t go back up to the Alliance.
“Randa,” said Quinn. “Hurry up.”
“Doing the job, Quinn.” She glanced back at T’sien who was mumbling to himself. “Almost done in there?” She smiled at the technician. He didn’t seem to notice. He was too busy cutting and twisting wires, talking to them as if they were alive.
And then the lights flick on, revealing the entire hangar. The platform where the Doctor’s stolen ship should be docked was occupied by a host of Alliance soldiers. In front of them was a Blue Sun Operative, blue hands crossed in front of him, a smile on his pastey face.
Off to the left stood a second Hand of Blue agent. He was kneeling down in front of Edward Edwards. It seemed that the Doctor was the target of the explosions. He’s down, and bleeding. His body all twisted in odd angles. The agent is holding a grenade launcher in his right hand.
“The Doctor is incapacitated but alive,” reported the second Blue Sun agent. “We have him.”
T’sien stepped out of the elevator with a smile which quickly faded to a frown. Randa looked to the Captain who was already taking aim at the first Blue Hand. Quinn and Randa locked gazes, both knowing that Benjamin wasn’t going to surrender. This would be their last stand.
The agent laughed. “Take them.” He gestured towards Benjamin and his crew.
The soldiers surge forward, some fifty or sixty Alliance soldiers all in heavy armor, taking formation, rifles up at the crew. “Drop your weapons!” One of the soldiers shouts loudly. “Drop ’em now!”
Benjamin fires the first shot. The blast hits the first Blue Sun agent, taking the man off his feet to the floor. That’s all it takes for all Hell to break loose. The soldiers open fire, and start to walk forward, fire concentrated on the crew.
“Gorrammit, Captain!” Randa drove forward towards Quinn and the crates. T’sien didn’t move fast enough, and his chest exploded with flesh and blood. He jerked backwards a few times, and slammed unmoving to the floor.
Pennington went down next. He broke from cover, seeking something more solid than the crates. Benjamin cursed, and reached out to grab the mechanic, but it was too late. He was hit in the back of the thigh, the ass, and twice in the back. He screamed loudly, flailing and landing face first on the floor a few feet from T’sien and the elevator.
Randa stood up, and walked forward, almost in a trance. He cracked off three shots before the soldiers put her down. She’s hit three or four times in the chest, falling backwards as Benjamin and Quinn both jump up from the crates firing their weapons.
But there are just too many soldiers. For every one that they hit, two more hit them. Automatic fire sprays death at them, and in seconds both Quinn and the Captain are down, bleeding with the rest of the crew.
The soldiers stop advancing, and cease firing. The downed Blue Sun agent stands up, picking a blue finger into the ballistic vest. There is no blood. Benjamin’s bullet never even hit the true mark.
“Gather them all,” ordered the second agent. “We take them to FREEDOM and then to Perdition.”
The soldiers walked forward towards the crew. None of them were moving. They started to gather them roughly, dragging them away, leaving swaths of blood on the hangar floor.
TO BE CONTINUED IN: PERDITION