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Author Topic: From the Firefly Verse: A Long Wait (part 1)  (Read 1306 times)

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Offline Firefly23

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From the Firefly Verse: A Long Wait (part 1)
« on: August 05, 2010, 07:22:42 AM »
  •     The fires burned  bright that night, casting shadows across the terrified faces of his  soldiers.  Mal stood just outside the  glare of the light, watching each face and gauging their reactions, their  feelings.  Tomorrow, the battle would  begin, and there had been rumors of the amount of men the Alliance would bring  to the battle.  As it stood, there were  only a dozen platoons scattered around Serenity valley, surrounding the  Alliances' ground forces.  What happened  in the air wasn't their strategic problem, but they had a few ground to air  rockets around, and Mal was hoping to have the opportunity to use one of  them.  He swirled his battered tin cup,  the drink sloshing dangerously close to the rim.

    Letting his gaze  drift from the men before him, Mal took a bit of time to further associate  himself with his surroundings.  His  platoon was huddled inside a half-cave that extended a fair distance back to  provide cover.  From where he stood, Mal  had a good view of the valley.  He could  see over a hundred small points of light flickering in the dark night;  campfires of both enemy and ally.  Above  them stretched the limitless sky, stars scattered in the thousands.  In the dark, the landscape looked terrifying,  intimidating, and wild.  It didn't look a  whole lot safer in the daylight; the addition of light, however, brought color  to the world.  Shades of green and brown  covered the ground with smatterings of pinks and purples and blues bringing  life to such a wild area.  Down at the  very bottom of the valley was a desert, with browns and tans, some greens to  bring life to the world.  Mal was almost  sad that he wouldn't have the chance to appreciate it.  They were only here to obliterate the  Alliance.  And as beautiful a thought as  that was...

    "Thinkin' about  tomorrow?" asked a familiar female voice.   Tearing his gaze from the valley, Mal looked to Zoe, his most trusted  companion.  Despite her lower rank, he treated  her as an equal, and she respected him for it.  She was tall; taller than him, and built like  an Amazon.  Zoe was the only woman in the  platoon, and she was more than proud of the fact that she could keep up.  All of the soldiers had either a healthy  respect or a healthy fear of her.

    "Thinkin' about  them."  He inclined his head towards  the soldiers.  A few of them had gathered  into small groups, telling nervous stories to try and ease their nerves.  He could hear them laugh awkwardly, almost  stiffly, and shook his head sadly.   "They're not ready."

    "They will be if  you lead them right."  Zoe leaned  against the same post Mal was, scanning the men.  She crossed her arms across her belly,  drumming her fingers against her biceps.   "You're a good leader, sir.   You can make anyone ready."

    "We gotta  be.  If we're gonna pull through  tomorrow, we gotta be strong."  Mal  took a long drink from his cup, draining it dry.  "Well...time for me to cheer these poor  men up."  With a sideways grin, Mal  pushed off the pillar and moved towards the clusters.  Zoe watched him, fascinated, as he offered  words of comfort, encouragement, and humor to each man in turn.  She leaned her head against the pillar,  continuing to watch him.  It was amazing  the ease with which Mal could calm even the most frightened young soldier,  could make him smile honestly and breathe a little easier.

    "Sir?" came  a tentative plea.  Mal turned to see a  little young man standing cautiously behind him, shoulders hunched like an  abused puppy.  A welcoming smile from Mal  calmed him a bit, but he was still nervous.   "C-can I t-talk to you, sir?"   He shifted his weight from foot to foot.

    "If you promise  to hold still."  Mal winked and took  the young man about the shoulders, glancing back at Zoe with a small  smile.  She smiled back, nodding her  appreciation.  "Yes, of  course," he said, returning his attention to the man with him.  "What can I do for you, Tommy?"

    "Sir, I'm...I'm  really nervous.  All shakes."  Tommy hung his head, trudging along slowly  beside Mal.  "I can' help but think  that maybe...maybe I won' make it tomorrow..."

    "Hey!  Don't you be sayin' things like that.  We'll all make it tomorrow."  Far enough away from the campfires to not be  heard, Mal stopped and turned Tommy to face him.  The young man, who couldn't have been more  than about 19, stared at the ground between Mal's feet, too afraid to even look  at his commander.  "Look at me when  I talk to you, nan zi."  Cringing,  Tommy looked up at Mal, who was staring at him, arms crossed and face  serious.  "I swear to you under God,  we'll make it tomorrow."

    "Yer a religious  man, Serg?"  Taken aback, Tommy  blinked a few times, his brow furrowed in confusion.  "Never pictured you as a man who  believed in religiosity."

    "I'm a  surprisin' man."  When he realized  that that answer would not suffice, Mal sighed and scrubbed his face with his  hand.  "I find havin' faith in the  On High helps nights like t'night."   He tapped his sternum, his shirt forming a silhouette of a cross.  "I got this wooden cross few years back  on my first campaign.  My sergeant gave  it to me as a kind of...good luck charm.   Thought he was addled in the brain pan til the Battle of Intent, when we  got backup just as he said.  He'd prayed  all night, and durin' most of the fight, always muttering under his breath  about somethin'.  Then backup arrived,  and..."  He shrugged a bit, hooking  his thumbs into his belt.  "Guess I  been a solid believer since."

    Tommy stood quietly  for a moment, looking back to the cross Mal wore from time to time.  Finally, he looked back up at Mal's  face.  "Any other trivia I oughtta  know about you b'fore tomorrow?"

    "Had a cat named  Fei once.  Bastard thing.  Ate my boots."  It had the desired effect; Tommy smiled, and  then laughed.  Mal laughed himself,  patting Tommy heartily on the back.   "Better now?"

    "Yeah, thanks,  sir."  Grinning from ear to ear,  Tommy straightened and offered Mal a hand.   "G'night, sir."

    Mal shook Tommy's  hand, clasping the same arm tightly.   "You'll be good tomorrow, Tom.   Promise."

    "Yessir."  Tommy nodded awkwardly, bobbing his head a few times before darting away to his  companions, who welcomed him back to the fire with grins and laughs.  Mal stood for a moment in the dark, watching.  Once, Tommy looked up and smiled his thanks  before he turned back to his friends.   The smile on Mal's face spread wider and he faded into the night,  heading for his bedroll.  It was going to  be a long series of days and night until the Alliance was put under, once and  for all.

 

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