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you can't take the sky from me, seven

Title: you can't take the sky from me (7/?)
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairings:  Ensemble from A:tLA and Firefly
Summary:  The Gaang find themselves in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar technology, and must rely on the only kindness they can find.  Unfortunately, kindness appears to be an endangered creature in this new place. x-over with Firefly/Serenity, post-movie, Wash lives!
Chapter Summary:  Katara makes a decision, Mal gets pissed off, and Suki is an agent of chaos.
A/N:  Mal uses some creative cursing in this (and the next) section.  At the bottom, you'll find translations of what he's saying.  Also, I know that Suki's carrying a lot of this whole sequence, but, um.  That's just how it is.  In later "episodes," other characters (from both fandoms) will get their moments to shine.

one... fivesixseven. eight. nine.


episode two:
sihnon shuffle

chapter three:
(got a secret)


"What in the hell -- " was all Mal managed to say, before disintegrating into violent cursing.  Zuko blinked at the place Suki had been seconds before.  Beyond the hall she had disappeared into, there was a short, clipped shout, the sound of running, the snap of fans closing, and then silence.  He glanced at Sokka and then they both took off running, rounding the corner and seeing two dead guards laying on the floor, throats cut by Suki's razor-sharp fans.

It hadn't even been a minute since the sirens had started.  Sometimes, Zuko thought, Suki was downright terrifying.

Mal composed himself -- or, well, something close to composure, though his face still betrayed a fury that Zuko hadn't previously thought possible -- and motioned to Jayne and Wash.  "Jayne, take Sokka and scour this floor for either Zoe or the other girl.  Wash, Zuko, same thing, upstairs."

"And you?" he asked.  Most likely, Suki had taken the flight of stairs heading down, since they were the most readily accessible, so he wondered why Mal was wasting their time and splitting them up to search the places that she probably hadn't gone to.

"I'm going downstairs," Mal replied coldly.

--

Suki leaned against the wall, using the mirrored finish of one of her fan-handles to see beyond the corner.  Four guards, all on high alert, coming at her.  On the one hand, her attempt at awesome ass-kicking had failed so spectacularly that it almost wrapped around to success, but on the other hand, the guards had heard something suspiciously like a person careening through the intersection and were now coming to inspect the sound.

She had maybe fifteen seconds before they descended upon her.  Not enough time to re-learn guns, and she sure as hell didn't trust herself with the grenades.  She evaluated the odds: four on one, with an untold number of guards lurking around any and possibly all other corners.  She was armed with her two short-range fans and whatever else she might be able to wrestle from the arms of her enemies.  Bad odds.  She'd faced worse, true, but she hadn't exactly come out on the winning end of those fights.

(She had survived, though, and sometimes that was a win all of its own.  This, however, was not one of those times.)

Ten seconds.  She glanced around for a last-ditch weapon, and then remembered the keys on her hand.

Behind her, the prisoners banged on their doors, demanding to know what was going on outside.  The cells all had those automatic locks, kind of like the ones Kaylee had shown her on Serenity, which meant that somewhere, there was an automatic unlock function, the key to which she was surely holding in her hand.  Find that, she thought, and solve all kinds of problems.

She gripped her fans and prepared to take on the four guards.  She would have to move fast, to keep them quiet.  Ever-so-softly, she stood up and braced herself against the wall.  With a high enough kick and a couple of good tosses, she could probably take out three of them in the first moment.  If she timed her landing right, she could come down on the final guard and silence him immediately.

It wasn't a great plan, but it was all she had.

Five seconds.

--

"Yes, but -- "

"Do not engage the subject," the man said.  Hal glared through the screen at him.

"We're investigating a murder.  We have to talk to her."

"She has been in the company of Tam for almost a year.  There's no telling what she might know."

Hal resisted the urge to find a cigarette or, failing that, something a little harder from the confiscated drugs locker.  He neither knew nor cared who River Tam was, besides the fact that she had a bounty on her head that would pay for his early retirement, and he sure as hell didn't know why this all meant he couldn't interrogate his suspect.  "I'm sorry, but the law states -- "

"This is above the law."

Hal blinked.

Now, he was intrigued.

--

"River!" Katara and Inara both cried at the same time while Toph and Aang assumed bending stances.  The girl's eyes were wide with sheer panic, and she was babbling something about twos and hands and blue -- and oh no there were more of those men?  And no doubt they were coming right here to pick her up while the rest of the crew was out rescuing Zoe.

Katara looked around the cargo bay.  No water to be seen, though there was always water in the air.  Not much.  Not enough.

Three moons meant extra-powerful bending.

River turned to her, eyes pleading don't let them get me, and Katara knew she couldn't let the girl down.  River had come to her, wanting to learn, and she had smiled and joked and tried to teach her first aid, and they had stood in that shop and discussed dolls of all things, and River had pulled her through the crowds on the street, never letting go, even for a moment, even when it might have meant a cleaner escape for herself.  Katara couldn't betray that.

"Only two coming this way," Toph muttered, hand on the floor.  "Walking.  That's weird."

"They don't need any more," River breathed.

Katara closed her eyes.

--

Mal all-but leaped down the stairs and hit the hallway at a dead run, either to save Suki's life or kill her himself, but when he reached the intersection, all he found were four bodies, laying one on top of the other, throats slashed cleanly, in a pool of blood.  No sign of Suki.

Had the situation not been really gorram delicate, he might have taken the time to admire her handiwork, or at least yell a few choice curses, but instead he had to keep moving, keep hunting for Zoe.  Suki could take care of herself, that much was obvious, and he wasn't going to leave his first mate to rot in prison while he hunted down a bloodthirsty maniac with a pair of fans.

Fans.  Of everything he'd seen since taking on these crazy new passengers, that probably had to be the weirdest, and that included scarface wielding fire like a gun.

He stepped over the bodies of Suki's latest victims and tried to decide which direction might take him to Zoe.  Now, he thought, would be a really good time to have a map.  But no.  That little si pi yan with the stupid fans had screwed up that plan royally.  Usually, he might have admired her initiative, but right now, Zoe was somewhere in prison and he was running out of time to find her and he was absolutely not in the mood to deal with any changes to his pretty straightforward plan.

Growling under his breath about cao ni zuzong shiba dai (directed at, of course, Suki, but also at the Alliance in general), Mal picked a direction at random and ran.

--

Zuko fumbled uselessly with his gun, wondering why he was even bothering with it.  He looked around at the guards and mercenaries that he and Wash had inadvertently walked straight into -- a group of six fully-armed men, all very quickly getting over the shock of intruders -- and decided to, as Suki had said, screw this.

He glanced at Wash, who was already raising his weapon.  There was no way the two of them would be able to take out six armed men in a fight like this.

It was right about now, he thought, that he could really use a cup of tea -- and then he cursed his uncle under his breath.  And then he breathed a jet of fire.

On the plus side, he had successfully thrown their opponents so utterly off their guard that he and Wash now had time to not die, but on the down side, the terrified and painful screams of six men, all in various states of being on fire, were certain to draw an awful lot of attention.  Wash glanced at him, nodded, and then began shooting.

--

Gunfire.  Suki cursed under her breath.  That was bad news, bad for her, bad for Zoe, bad for everyone.  Distant echoes of shooting and screaming floated down from above her while much closer shouting came from every direction around her -- things like what's going on? and get the warden! -- bad, bad, bad.

Suddenly, a door to her right burst open and three men spilled out, running forward and stopping dead when they spotted her.  A single moment passed, and then she was moving, fans out, into a whirling attack that would hopefully at least throw them off their balance.  She managed to cut one of the men across the chest, but all three were pulling out their weapons and preparing to shoot her.  Time for desperate measures.

She leaped forward and grabbed the injured man, punching him hard in the gut and wrenching his gun from his hands.  It was large and unwieldy, and she didn't trust herself with using it properly, so she used it instead as a bludgeon, hitting the guard right in the open gash she had given him, and then used him as shield while she backed into the room they had just fled from.  She chanced a quick glance behind her -- it was empty, thank the spirits, and had a table in the center with a bunch of blinking lights and video screens set up around the room.  She would have to take her chances.

"Don't shoot," she said dangerously.  "Or you and all your friends die."  The men all froze, no doubt wondering who this crazy girl was, and what she wanted.  She jerked her head behind her.  "Inside, all of you.  Hairy, there," she nodded to the ugliest of the bunch, whose arms were covered in thick, dark hair, "shut and lock the door behind you."

"What do you want?" the injured man wheezed, struggling against her grip.  Abruptly, she shoved him against his two friends and used her newest weapon to hit him against the temple as hard as she could.  Unfortunately, this was a little too hard.

She jumped back, startled, as the man's head cracked open and he fell to the floor, convulsing.  The two other guards jolted into action and rushed towards her, so she dropped the gun and ripped out her fans just as a sharp, vicious, nigh-unbearable pain tore through her thigh.  It was almost enough to drop her.

Almost.

One of her fans flew out of her hand and embedded itself in Hairy's throat while her other went straight for the other guard's eyes.  She didn't hesitate, moving straight from the face to the throat, cutting off his scream of pain before it could even form.  Now she was alone in the small, locked room with the three messiest kills she'd probably ever made, her thigh was a torrent of blood and agony, her clothes were ripped and stained well beyond salvation, and -- worst of all, perhaps -- one of her fans was bent.

Suffice it to say, Suki was pissed off.

She tore one of the guards' shirts up and formed it into a makeshift bandage, knotting it tightly over the bullet hole, and then limped over to the video screens, hoping and praying to all of the gods and spirits and even Malcolm fucking Reynolds, that she might have found something useful.  And there, on one of the small screens, was a slightly fuzzy image of Zoe sitting, handcuffed, at a table.  She sighed in relief and cast about for an identifier, something that would tell her where the feed was coming from.

There it was, labeled right underneath the video, but it was in another language.

She resisted, admirably, the powerful desire to scream expletives until her throat collapsed.  "Okay," she muttered to herself.  "Gotta find a way to talk to Mal."

She didn't have any of the fancy links that Wash, Mal, and Jayne were wearing, although there was an intercom... But that would be a terrible idea, and would merely draw attention to them and to Zoe.  She could always give some kind of hint in a code, but that was more Sokka's specialty -- hers was hitting enemies until they stopped hitting back.

"Plan B, then," she muttered, and looked for the floor's manual lock override -- there, on another panel underneath some other video screens.  This gave her pause: those three guards had been in this room before, right?  And she could clearly see at least some of the halls she had used to get here, so why hadn't they used the knowledge that was obviously open to them?  An ominous fear rose in her gut.  Only reason to do something like that was if you were leading someone into a trap.  It seemed like they'd survived thus far because she, Zuko, and presumably Sokka had not been expected.

The already really, monstrously, impossibly bad situation just continued to get worse.

"Oh, well," she whispered, and began trying keys in the manual override.  The seventh one gave a satisfying click, and she heard a horn sound out in the halls, followed by the metallic chunk of every door on the floor simultaneously unlocking and opening.

It was one of the most important rules she had learned in the war: if everything else failed, cause as much chaos as possible.

--

The curses that subsequently flew out of Malcolm Reynolds's mouth were quite possibly the most vile words that had ever been spoken by a human being on any planet or any universe, ever.

--

Aang held his staff at the ready while Toph stayed low to the ground, both to listen to the earth and prepare for a fight.  He didn't know who was coming, but River's panicked scream was still ringing in his ears, and he did know that when someone like River panicked, things were bad.  It was kind of like seeing Toph cry -- it only happened when everything had gone to hell and there was no chance whatsoever of salvaging anything.

So he clutched his staff tightly and watched.  Before long, two men in suits seemed to materialize out of the darkness, one of them pulling out a small object, no larger than a pen.  He held it out in front of him and Aang didn't know why, but that scared him.  Without thinking, he attacked, surprising the man with a burst of wind that knocked the pen object out of his hand, and it went skittering across the floor.  The other man didn't stop, and, in fact, pulled out one of his own.  He glanced at Toph, prepared to unleash holy hell on the two men, when all of a sudden, they froze in place.

"Who are you?" Katara asked coldly, and he turned.  She was gliding down the stairs like a vengeful spirit, watched by a shocked Inara and a ghostly River, hands outstretched in front of her.  "Why are you after River?"

The men didn't answer, but glared at her with shock and hatred.

"Katara?" Toph whispered.  The closer Katara got, the more obvious it became that she hated what she was doing.  Tears glistened in her eyes and her face was pale, but she didn't waver, not even a little bit.

"Answer me," she demanded, in a low voice.  "I have full control of all of your bodily systems.  You don't want to imagine the pain I will put you through if you don't tell me who you are and why you're here right now."

"They're from the Academy," River said dreamily, from directly behind Katara, who, to her credit, didn't flinch.

"We're here for River Tam," one of the men said unnecessarily, forming the words like they were causing him physical pain.

"Well, you can't have her," Toph insisted, standing up and crossing her arms.  Aang, keeping his eyes trained on the two men in Katara's thrall, walked over and picked up the small object that he had knocked out of one of the men's hands.  It was a cool, thin rod of metal, with a button near the center, and it looked like the two ends could pop out.  He considered pressing the button, but thought the better of it -- in his short time on Serenity, he had already learned well the lesson of not pushing any buttons unless you were very certain what would happen when you did.

Luckily, he happened to be staring at two people who could tell him what it did.  "What is this?" he asked roughly, holding out the object.  River's eyes went wide and then she turned away, hands stuffed in her ears.

Neither of the men spoke.  Katara gritted her teeth.  "I'm not going to sit here and play twenty questions with you.  Either answer him or answer me, but I want an explanation now."  She twisted her hands and both men convulsed, falling against the floor in what had to be agony.  After a single moment, she brought her hands up again and held them up like a marionette, blinking tears out of her eyes.  "Why are you after River?"

"To return her to the Academy," one of the men said, in that same pained tone.

"Not good enough," Katara growled, and twitched her hands so that their whole bodies jerked.  "Answer me!"

"You don't want to do this, little girl," the other man told her, face blank of emotion.  It was downright eerie.  "You're crying."

"I'd rather do this forever than let you take River," she whispered.  "Why can't you just leave her alone?"

They started laughing then, in unison, a harsh, mirthless laugh that was undoubtedly the scariest thing Aang had ever seen.  Toph blinked, and finally had enough, bolting out the door and bringing in enough rock in to encase the two men up to their mouths in stone.  Allowed to relax, Katara's shoulders slumped and she crumpled to the floor.  River, on hands and knees, crawled over to her and pulled her into a tight hug.

"More coming, fast, lots of them," Toph cried, hands shaking.  "Aang, tell Kaylee and Simon to get us out of here!"

He turned to the pedestal where he knew the comm-link was, but he didn't know which button would do what.  Desperate, unnerved, and stressed-out, he just started jamming buttons at random.  The airlock closed, and then opened again, and then the doors closed, and then finally Kaylee's voice floated over the intercom.

"Everything all right down there?"

"No!" Aang shouted, holding down what he dearly hoped was the transmit button.  For once, he was in luck.

"What's happening?"

"Did you not see the ship that touched down like ten feet away from us?" Toph shrieked, strangely frightened.  That worried him.  The only reason Toph would be freaking out like that was if there were more blue-handed men coming or hordes of men coming, period.  He presumed the latter.  And with Katara exhausted and horrified from blood-bending, and with all the real gun-hands off the ship, it was up to Toph's metal-bending -- which she seemed reluctant to use, probably because of Serenity's intricate design -- and possibly earth-bending if she could get enough of it to use, his airbending, and whatever River and Inara might be able to do.  Against lots of trained soldiers with guns.  Bad odds.

"No!" Kaylee cried, "I didn't -- nothing's coming up..."

"Look out the window, gorramit!" Toph screamed.  "Use those eyes you people take for granted!"

"Toph, stop panicking," Aang said, trying to soothe her.

"I am not panicking!" she replied.  "If Kaylee doesn't get us in the air, though, you will see me panicking!"

"I'm working on it!" Kaylee yelled through the intercom, and then everything went silent.  For a long, horrible moment there was no sound but the oncoming footsteps and Katara's soft sobs, and then they rose shakily into the air.  As they rose, Inara walked unsteadily down the stairs and placed a hand on Katara's shoulder.

"What will we do with them?" she asked, nodding to the two men.  Aang had to give her credit: she was taking everything remarkably well.

"I say we chuck them out the door," Toph replied softly, but Aang shook his head.  "Twinkletoes, this isn't the time for -- "

"They might know something," he said sharply, cutting her off.  "About this Academy."  Across the room, Katara, River, and Inara all looked up at him, and he shrugged.  "If there are more people out there being... hurt, then I don't want to sit here and let it happen."

"Mal won't go along," Inara said.

"He doesn't have to," Aang whispered.




*si pi yan -- damned asshole
*cao ni zuzong shiba dai -- fuck your ancestors to the eighteenth generation

Comments

jade_sabre_301
Sep. 12th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
:-D

I was not complaining! I was mostly marveling. :-D

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zutarashippers
katara_zuko
Katara x Prince Zuko Shippers

water & fire


One moon (one moon)
One star (one star)
I love the one we are
One thread (one thread)
One line (one line)
That runs through our lives

After all is said and done
One and one still is one
When we cry, when we laugh
I am half, you are half
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