DISCLAIMER: Firefly is not my copyright. This story's classified as not-for-prophet, no money is being made from it and access to it should not be bought or sold.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: (Spoilers:) some for the 10th episode "War Stories" (Story:) Kaylee's in a shuttle, with River in the pilot seat, and it looks like they're gone'a crash soon... Takes place sometime after the 11th episode "Trash" (Key:) "speaking" ~ [thoughts] ~*emphasis* ~ accent on the word
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

No Power In The 'Verse...
By Jessica Knight


"You do know how to fly this thing. Right?" Kaylee asked nervously, her eyes fixed on the cockpit portal and the atmo rushing by at much to high velocities for her liking.

"Not flying, falling. Mass plus velocity. What goes up must come down. Timing is everything. I have hopes." River replied, her hands on the steering controls, them and the whole shuttle shaking and jittering like it was about to come apart at the fastenings any second.

"Yeah, hopes... Those are good. Good to have hopes..." Kaylee's gaze went from River's hands, almost blurry now from the vibrations, to the window as they broke cloud-side and the ground came clear and ominous in view.

"If we die, I should think you'll be very cross with me." River spoke, and Kaylee was now even more terrified to see a mad kind of smile light River's lips and eyes with a certain kind of peace that she really wished she could feel at that moment.

"*River!*" Kaylee screamed in abject panic as Serenity barreled at them up from the ground at escape velocity plus.

A jerk of the wheel and a turn and they felt the rumbling shudder of Serenity's velocity wake slam into them, the other much larger ship having passed within talking distance of them (you know, were they on the ground and not going by one another fast enough not to have had time to blink). The shuttle rumbled and rolled, set to spinning and twirling uncontrolled. Kaylee got to the floor and held onto the back of River's pilot chair for dear life itself as she felt gravity pull them around like an angry tide. Weightless one second, lurching in any which direction the next. The unmistakable sound of another ship, if anything larger even than Serenity, crossing their wake shook the air and them in it with renewed force. Up was down, down was up and nothing in between made itself sensible. She screamed and held on. A scraping sound and something hard and heavy slammed into her backside.

The world went hazy and her vision seemed to blur. Her eyes watering, her whole body hurting, she felt herself kind of whimpering and wishing for anything she'd never seen the inside of a space ship and that she was back home nice and safe on the ground. People weren't meant to live in space, the thoughts came. You'd think the coldness deep enough to kill would have given us the hint.

Hard to focus, time seemed to stretch unnaturally long and bendy in ways it shouldn't, and still she held on. Images of running through her beautiful ship, laughing and having fun. Real fun with a real friend her own age like she hadn't had is a long time. River'd stolen her apple, and she'd chase her to the ends of the 'verse to get it back. It's just the way things had to be. She caught River and men tired to kill them for the apple. An apple is a rare and delicious treasure. People have killed for less. She was scared and she hid. "Mustn't look, mustn't look" River said, taking her gun from her and going to her feet to face them. Three shots rang out and River smiled at her. "No power in the 'verse..." They both started to say.

A hard shudder, a growling sound. The shuttle shook, but different. What did that mean? Things seemed to blur and slow. [Have to hold on...] She told herself stubbornly. But things were muddy and she couldn't focus. A hard jerk and things seemed to slip from her without her leave.

Time passed.

It was dark and vaguely warm and comforting where she was. No worries. It was familiar... But something was happening, someone wanted her to do something. A hand on her shoulder, shaking her. [Don't want to wake up now. Can't I sleep longer Captain? Engine won't give you a bit a' trouble, Serenity's shiny. I fixed her good and...] Hand on her cheek, warm and soft. [The Captain's a girl? How'd that happen?] Her foggy mind wondered.

"It's all right. We're safe now." The girl from her dreams, that was her. [No power in the 'verse can stop her.] Her mind supplied as she felt a soft touch along her back. More words spoken, though no one seemed to know what. She was being lifted up. Strong arms, slender and warm, holding her to a body, strong and soft. Where were they going? She tried to move or open her eyes, but the light was too bright and it seemed to scare the world from her again and chase her back into the warmth of the black.

Kaylee woke to a sea of all things soft and warm. A familiar perfume, like wildflowers on a clear spring day, settled into her mind. "'Nara?" She questioned, blinking her eyes opened. "What in'tha..." Her mind came back to her as her eyes cleared and she remembered, yes, she did already know what in the 'verse she was doing waking up on Inara Serra's shuttle. She made to sit up, but the shooting pain through her torso immediately told her what a very bad idea that was. "All ideas bright and shiny, that ain't one of them, is it?" She breathlessly questioned herself as she lay back on Inara's couch and stared up at the ceiling. Well, she was in pain, so odds are she t'weren't dead and gone to heaven, so that was a cheerful thought. "River?" She called, looking around the shuttle that she could see from her resting spot. "River. You around anywheres?" She called a little louder, her voice a bit uncertain.

No answer.

She sighed and looked up at the fabric laced ceiling that, along with the rest of the shuttle it seemed, had seen'd more orderly days. "We crashed." She spoke to herself. "[Chinese phrase] What a day." She breathed and remembered. Opal Shire was a world about as far out as you'd likely to go. It had some very well-off patrons though, the kind with their own ideas about how a society should be kept. 'Passive aggressive neigh-sayin'' as the Captain'd called it. 'Land of the irritatin' people' She'd thought was a more like title for it than it had. Everyone givin' you grief when you didn't act proper is what. But they'd been contracted to do a job, sheep had been needed and sheep they'd brought. Sheep were a good deal more botherless than cows, and they'd all be much happy about that.

Irritatin' people aside though, it was one of the nicer colony worlds you'd ever like to find out here. Not near as shiny as one of those Alliance worlds mind, but well kept and growing with a fair shopping district. The logistics of it was that the other shuttle had been contracted out to a local land barren for his own use while they'd been there. The rest were busy with the sheep and all, and Inara had taken a client in the governor of the colony, 'a rich former industrialist with his head in the clouds' as she'd been told. And knowing Serenity was in need of some parts and such, and seeing an opportunity to sneak in a little shopping for frivolous things in the process, Kaylee had asked Inara (whom she knew would not be using her shuttle for her activities with the governor) if she could give her a ride over and then use the shuttle to go into town and pick up supplies. River had, strangely enough, asked to go along with her. And though she was still kind of nervous and unsure around the girl since what had happened on Adelei Niska's space station a while back, Kaylee hadn't seen the harm in it. Scary girl or not, she had saved her life an' all. Kind of makes a'body indebted, don't it?

They'd been in the market more than an hour before they'd come back to the shuttle, just a little behind schedule and smiling, having actually had a great time together. River had been normal as she'd ever been and things had seemed like for once, a job would go smoothly for them. The commotion they'd heard from the streets behind them as they loaded up their purchases, however, put a damper on that. She remembered, she'd turned to River whose face had turned a mask of foreboding. "The hollow ones have come for us." She'd spoke. Kaylee had rushed to the hatch to look out at the sky and seen it, a Reaver ship breaking through cloud-side. Some Chinese cures later, she was turning and running back in, the sound of the shuttle's engines starting up greeting her as she entered. River had been at the controls and prepping for take-off. Kaylee'd seen the necessity of closing the hatch and securing the rest of the cargo right quick. Somehow the fact that River might not know what she was doing in a pilot's chair'd never seriously crossed her mind back then. And she'd hated to leave without trying to take on a few from the colony, but there weren't any near and if they'd stayed, they'd've die too. Sure as gravity.

"The shimmers don't see us in here." She heard spoke and turned to see River standing in the doorway and looking somewhere in the room she couldn't tell where. All the sudden though, the other girl's eyes found hers and River walked over to her and quickly knelt by her side. "How's your back?" She asked, her face full of concern and her eyes seeming to be searching for any visible problems.

"Hurts." Kaylee replied simply. "I tried to sit up, but didn't like that. What happened?"

"We went down." River spoke, looking interestedly at Kaylee's arm and tracing one of her veins as though trying to figure out a puzzle. "Simon's not here." She again met Kaylee's eyes.

"Figured that." Kaylee said. "How bad do you think it is?"

"I know how to play doctor. It shouldn't present a problem." River spoke seriously, lifting up Kaylee's shirt a little to reveal bandages holding her ribs in place. "Two cracked ribs - fourth and eighth. One broken - second. You need to eat." This last said urgently, getting up and going to scrounge around through their supplies.

"River..." Kaylee spoke, looking after her apparent physician.

"Calcium would be best, potassium and protean. Vegetable and potato soup is needed as well." She turned to Kaylee. "I made it bright." She smiled, grabbing a few things and scurrying out the door back outside.

"River, wait..." Kaylee called out, wincing as she shifted a bit in the effort.

"Yes?" The girl's questioning face showed around the corner of the door.

"I... Oh, never mind." Kaylee said. "Thank you."

River smiled. "Don't worry. I won't leave you." She assured, and then she was gone again.

Kaylee sighed and laid back, glancing down at the bandages on her ribs again before laying her head completely back and looking at the ceiling again. "I am in so much trouble." She told the ceiling.

Some minutes later, Kaylee had almost nodded off to sleep again, but River had reappeared with a fresh cooked meal she'd apparently prepared outside on a fire she'd started. Kaylee had been a little dubious about eating something the other girl had prepared, wondering if it'd cause her hair to turn funny colors or something. But it had smelled so good, and she had been really hungry. Starving hungry actually, now that the smell of food was there to remind her of it. She'd taken her first spoon full with an expectant looking River looking on, apparently intent on judging her reaction to the food with complete precision. And oh had the soup tasted good. The smile and look of delight on her face must have met with River's approval for she'd declared herself a success and the smile on her face had shown just how much it meant that to her that she had been.

"It feels nice to be useful." River spoke happily as they continued to eat, a silly look on her face as she alternated between looking at Kaylee and looking at the soup in her hands.

"Yeah... I guess it does, doesn't it?" Kaylee mused, laying back a bit and looking over at River.

"Mm-Hmm." River nodded. "We're not astronauts anymore." She spoke.

Kaylee paused. "What's an 'astronaut'?" She asked.

River just pointed up and looked up at the ceiling. 'Astronaut', apparently, being an old world term that didn't get much use outside of a classroom or such anymore.

Seeming to understand, Kaylee nodded. "Do you think they're alright up there?" She asked. "I mean, they'll come back for us soon, don't you think?"

River met Kaylee's eyes. "It's not for us to say..." She said. "The clouds don't seem to think they'll be disturbed again for a while though." She seemed to ponder her own words. "I think we'll be all right though." She smiled. "Sometimes, you just got'a believe."

River seemed so serene saying that, Kaylee couldn't help but feel a little less worry. "You might be right about that."

"Of course I'm right." River said. "I'm very clever, you know. Wise even." She said that last part a little like she were sharing a secret. "You don't have to worry."

Kaylee laughed a little. "You know? Strangely enough? I think I believe you."

The End

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