A Weird Western Saga
in "Serenity: season II"... "We have no more time to eliminate the obstacle. We move now.” Thus spoke Elizabeth Byrnne last episode, gathering her ensorcelled followers around her (including Deputy Richter) -- and so it begins...
“And so, we commit our brother, Avery Cobb, unto the earth. May his soul find rest with our heavenly Father.” Reverend McCallum closed the bible and surveyed the crowd. “Ashes to ashes. Dust…to dust.”
The congregation mumbled its Amens and wandered its separate ways. Raven Clark watched Deputy Lake and Elsa Benjamin walk away arm-in-arm and found herself missing Lily, though she wasn’t sure why.
Marshal Boxer replaced his hat and headed for his office, Deputy Richter at his side. “We’ll wait a few hours, then we need to round up the volunteers to get all this glass and shi-”
A violet orb of energy buzzed Boxer’s ear, knocking him to the street. It hovered for a moment, then arced over the church and blazed for the horizon.
Toward the Outskirts.
Boxer, still on his knees, snatched his hat from the dust and found Raven Clark’s eyes across the street. She looked from Boxer’s eyes to Lake’s, staring wide at her from in front of the church. Lake looked from Raven to the marshal, and found Boxer looking back at him.
All three ran for the Marshal’s office.
Screams and shouts welled from the street. “Calm these people down, Bump!” Boxer’s order came from over his shoulder as he dashed for his office.
“Shur thing, Marshal.” Richter giggled and strolled toward the crowd.
Raven was the last one into the marshal’s office. She slammed the door behind her and locked it. “What’re we going to do? Did you see where it was headed?”
“Yes.” Boxer was at his desk, drumming his fingers. Raven had never seen him nervous.
Lake swiped the hat off his head and scratched his head. “We have to figure out what that thing is, y’all, before it comes back and hurts somebody.” Raven and Boxer shot him looks and he knew he was lost. He swallowed. “What?”
“Are you kidding me?” Raven’s hands wrung against her will. “That was one of The Four. The one we saw explode in the mine. Don’t you remember?” (wa-ay back in Serenity: Season One, Episode 13: "Battle!" ~ the ed.)
The memory forced Lake’s eyes wide. “Yeah, I remember.” He looked to Boxer. “Oh fuck.”
“I know.” Boxer’s fingers drummed as a bead of sweat blossomed on his brow.
Raven sneered at the marshal. “You have something to do with this. I know you do.”
“I don’t.” Boxer wiped his brow. “I swear.”
“What’re we going to do about this?” Lake crossed to the gun rack and grabbed his rifle. “We have to do something.”
“You saw where it was headed.” Raven spoke to Lake, her eyes stayed on Boxer. “It’s going back to the mine. We have to get up there and stop it from doing…whatever it’s going to do.”
Lake’s hands quaked slightly as they loaded the rifle. “Right. But, what’s it want up there?”
“I don’t know.” Raven cocked an eyebrow. “But one of us might.”
“I know what you’re thinking.” Boxer was on his feet. “You think because The Four created me, I must know what this One is up to.”
“That or you’re in on it.”
“I’m not! Look,” Boxer drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I know what you think of me. I know you don’t trust me. I know you’ll never trust me. And I know I’ve done things you’ll never forgive me for.”
Raven jammed her hands on her hips. “But?”
“But, I swear to you, Raven.” Boxer glanced at Lake. “I swear to both of you, I don’t know anything about this and I’m certainly not in on it. I know who and what I am. I know I’m nothing but an evil creation to you but." He clasped his hands over his chest and looked to the ceiling. “God as my judge, I want to help.”
“You want to help?” Raven stepped into Boxer’s face. “Then, for once, do your job. Protect this town, Marshal. Get these people ready for Armageddon, because it’s probably coming. And prepare yourself.”
Raven yanked opened the office door. “If Stu and I fail, you’re all Serenity has left.” She nodded to Lake and they were gone.
Boxer sunk into his desk chair, fear creeping into his chest for the first time in his life.
The voice from over his shoulder startled more sweat from Boxer’s brow. He wheeled in his chair to find Tom Putnam blinking at him from the holding cell.
“What’s The Four?”
Lake pulled the saddle strap tight around his horse. “So, you really got no idea what we’re headed for at The Outskirts?”
Already mounted, Raven shook her head. “Other than it’s likely to kill us, no.”
“Ah.” He climbed into the saddle. “Well, that’s comforting.”
“Isn’t it?” She patted her pockets. Her two-shot Derringer was in one pocket; Nolan Paige’s journal was in the other. She didn’t think either would save them.
Lake pulled his horse around toward the stable gate. “You’re pretty calm for a gal headed off to certain death.”
“You do it often enough, you get used to it.” She cracked the reins. “Go Apollo! Hah!”
Left in the dust, Lake cocked his head, his lower lip puckered. “Yeah. I suppose you do.”
They crossed Serenity’s border side-by-side and headed north.
By order of Marshal Boxer, the citizens of Serenity were quarantined to their homes until further notice. For Elsa Benjamin, that meant being alone, something she couldn’t bear with Stu Lake out of town. She didn’t know where he’d gone or why, “official town business” was all the marshal would say.
Menace hung in the air. Before the last door locked, Elsa scurried to the general store. With a husband in jail and three children to answer to, Harriet Putnam was glad for the company and the helping hand.
The sun headed west. The three Putnam children were locked in their two rooms. In the lengthening shadows of the Putnam parlor, Harriet and Elsa Benjamin tried their best to have a normal tea.
It didn’t last long.
“Why did Tom shoot that man?” (see Episode 5: "Duel Redux" ~ the ed.)
Harriet snorted into her tea. “Excuse me?”
Elsa retreated into her cup. “I-I’m sorry. I shouldn’t pry.”
“No.” Harriet saucered her cup. “It’s fine. I don’t know why Tom shot that man. Neither does he.” (due to the forgetful spell that made most of the town forget events from Serenity: Season One - remember? ~ the ed.)
“Oh.” Elsa sipped and peered out of the window. “This is all very frightening.”
Harriet placed her cup down and folded her hands in her lap. “Yes.”
“Do you think the vampire men are coming back? Do you think that’s why we have to stay inside? Because the marshal got word?”
“I don’t know.” Harriet’s gaze joined Elsa’s out the window. “So many strange things have happened.”
“Yes. What do you think of Raven Clark?”
Harriet’s eyes shifted to find Elsa’s staring at her. “M-Miss Clark? I…I don’t know. I don’t know her very well, but she seems-”
“I think she has her eye on Stu.” Elsa’s eyes shot back to the window. “I think she’s who he’s on ‘official business’ with right now.”
“Oh.” Harriet fidgeted with her skirt. “I wouldn’t know.”
“Neither would I.” Elsa had visions of haylofts and rolling. “But I think it’s about time I asked.”
Under a bright, starry sky and a full moon, Raven and Lake trotted for The Outskirts. There was no time to allow the horses rest, so the riders had to accept the reduced pace or risk their horses’ collapse. Lake pulled even with Raven, swallowed hard, and finally brought himself to say it.
“There’s something about you I’ve always wondered.”
“Oh?” Raven answered without looking at him.
“Yeah.” Lake scratched the back of his head and pressed on. “The last time we were in the mine, one of The Four tried to clobber you.” (once again back Serenity: Season One - Episode 13: "Battle!" ~ the ed.)
“Yes.” She still didn’t look.
“Well, when its arm got near your head it…blew up before it could touch you.”
“Yes. It did.”
Lake ran out of things to say before the question, so he took a deep breath and asked it. “Why did that happen?”
She looked over with a moonlit smile that startled Lake. “About time you asked.”
“Heh.” Lake’s hand found the back of his head again. “Well, I didn’t want to pry.”
Raven laughed for the first time since Lily left her and looked back to the road ahead. “When I was little, my mother had a sister who was a witch.”
Lake’s eyebrows arched. “Is that right?”
“She and my mother didn’t get along at all. My aunt insisted I was special and needed protecting. My mother, who wanted a boy to please my father, didn’t think so very much of me. My father died when I was four. My mother blamed me.” Raven glanced over. “We didn’t get on very well after that.”
“I wouldn’t reckon.”
“When I was five, my aunt came to my bedroom window and said I should follow her. I was scared, but I did as she told me. She took me to what I now know was a witches’ coven.”
“My aunt and her witch sisters cast a spell over me.” She glanced at Lake again. “Care to guess what for?”
“Yes, but only from the purest evil, that’s all they could manage. I can be trampled in a stampede, I can get hit by a stray bullet from a decent man’s gun, but pure evil can’t touch me.”
Lake slapped his hat on his saddle. “I will be dipped. That is the godammedest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Raven’s eyes went dark. “Yeah. It had its consequences though.”
Lake replaced his hat. “What?”
“My mother woke up while I was gone. She was waiting for my aunt and I when we got back. She reported my aunt to the town. Between the church and town hall, my aunt and her coven didn’t stand a chance.”
“What happened to them?”
Raven’s answer was a glare.
“Oh Jesus. Hanged?”
Raven nodded. “To a witch.”
Lake’s hat was off again. He held it over his heart. “So sorry, Raven. I guess I shouldn’tve asked.”
“No.” She managed a smile. “You’re entitled to know.”
“Well, I certainly apprec-”
The violet orb arced over their backs and splashed to the dirt before them. The horses reared and whinnied. As Raven and Lake regained control, the violet orb elongated, snaking up into a human shape. Raven and Lake brought their horses round and found Elizabeth Brynne standing in the road.
Her grin made Raven shudder. “It’s mine.”
Lake reached for his rifle, but she was gone before he could level it. Elizabeth Brynne was an orb of violet energy once again, streaking back over the horizon from which they’d come.
Back to town.
Elizabeth Brynne was The One.
Raven and Lake galloped for Serenity.
Next - Episode 12: The End (part II)
Previous - Episode 10: Night Siege (part II)
Serenity is copyright by Jason Chirevas. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)