Mal had unholstered his pistol as soon as he stepped onto the lift heading to Mr. Universe's black room, images flashing through his mind faster than he could possibly hope to keep up with: Reavers, Alliance, crashing, Wash
, Zoe and his crew buying him the time to broadwave the signal, Inara watching him leave.
"I'm not going anywhere." she had said.
Nobody better go anywhere, gorramit. The lift doors close.
The black room is blacker than usual. As Mal turns the corner to head to the nearest broadwave port, he finds a severe lack of any
broadwave anything appearing to be functional. All of it's been destroyed.
"No..." is the only moan Mal can pull off at surveying the damage, looking down to see...a trail of blood, leading from Mr. Universe's chair, to the couch where he had finally died, curled up next to his lovebot.
Almost not believing it necessary, Mal bends down to pay a second of respect for the man. He turns to leave, but a quick spoken "Mal --" stops him.
"Guy killed me, Mal," the recorded message plays through Lenore. "He killed me with a sword. How weird is that? I got...a short span here...they destroyed my equipment, but I have a backup unit, bottom of the complex, right over the generator." Mal finally lets himself flicker a smile. "Hard to get to. I know they missed it. They can never stop the signal. They can never...stop..." Lenore's head rolls back toward Mr. Universe, and Mal sprints off.
"Hard to get to?" Mal repeats to himself once he gets to the generator room. There's no walkway to the unit in the center of the room, above a generator with more spinning and death-causing parts than he cared to think on, chains hanging haphazardly from the ceiling, and a horizontal set of ladder rungs strung from one end to the other.
"That's a fact." Mal takes his jacket off, climbing precariously onto the railing in order to jump to the ladder rung. He promptly falls down again onto his back when he gets a laser burn straight at his spine.
Owwww. Mal stands as quickly as possible, turning to face the Operative sneakyass hun dan and gives him a painful smile. Piss him off.
"--Shot me in the back. I haven't...made you angry, have I?"
"There's a lot of innocent people in the air being killed right now."
Mal shakes his head. "You have no idea how true that is," he returns, straightening himself up for a fight. "I know the secret. The truth that burned up River Tam's brain and set you after her. And the rest of the 'verse is gonna know it too."
Flat. "Do you really believe that?"
Believe. Whatever you have to.
"You willing to die for that belief?"
Don't look don't look
Mal draws his gun first, and fires - again - again - push him back - again - again.
"'Course that ain't exactly plan A." Holstering the gun quickly, Mal jumps to the ladder rung and moves hand over hand to the backup unit. The Operative has recovered though and catches up to him, placing a kick to the same laser burn from earlier, making Mal drop onto a chain loop. Kick him! Before Mal can, the Operative flips a lever that makes Mal's chain drop and send him smacking into the plexiglass platform, forcing him to scramble upward.
The Operative doesn't give Mal room to breathe, not that Mal expected him to. He manages to draw his gun again before it gets kicked out of his hand somewhere near the base of the backup unit before Mal and his attacker exchange blow after blow, one of the Operative's landing square in Mal's eye, causing stars to float in his vision as blood vessels pop. When the Operative turns - Mal knows what's coming - to pick up his sword, Mal fishes out the only pointy he can find - a bitty screwdriver.
Spinning, moving, blow and parry and thrust - Mal stabs the Operative in the hand with the screwdriver - then a bigger thrust and slow exhalation as the Operative runs Mal through the belly with his sword.
Finally showing exertion, the Operative spits, "You know what your sin is, Malcolm?"
Eyes still wide, Mal smiles weakly. "Aw hell - I'm a fan of all seven." Mal headbutts the Operative, forcing him backward before punching him, sending the Operative down. With a sickly liquid sound, Mal pulls the sword out and holds it above this...monster.
"Right now, I'm gonna have to go with Wrath." Mal thrusts down, but the Operative rolls and kicks Mal's knees out from under him, punching him in his stomach wound.
Mal doesn't have the adrenaline anymore to put up a good fight, with the Operative kicking him in the face and stomach, finally standing him up, and piercing
Mal's right side with his hands. For a moment, Mal can't move, can't do anything.
"I'm sorry," the Operative starts, picking up his sword.
Mal twitches his right hand, unnoticed by his attacker.
"You should know there's no shame in this. You've done...remarkable things, but you're fighting a war, you've already lost." Mal watches him come toward him with his sword, completely unexpecting Mal to palm his arm over and twist his swordhand, elbowing him in the neck.
"Well, I'm known for that." As serious as death, Mal spins the Operative and puts him in a full nelson - the kind that breaks your arms at the shoulderblades - and sits him against a railing. Picking up the Operative's sword, Mal informs, "Piece of shrapnel tore up that nerve cluster...in the war." Bending to meet the Operative's eyes, "Sorry about the throat. Expect you'd wanna say your famous last words now. Just one trouble." Mal uses the Operative's own sword to lock him in place against the railing.
"I ain't gonna kill you."
Standing, Mal makes quick work of prepping the backup unit for a system-wide broadwave. "Hell, I'm gonna grant your greatest wish." The cylinder clicks into place and alights. "I'm gonna show you a world without sin."
Mal gives the Operative one short disdainful glare, but he doesn't notice. He's too horrified by the transmission playing on the twenty screens in front of him to care about Mal.
One push of the controls on the backup unit extends a small plate-bridge from Mal to the other side as he picks up his gun and straightens himself to rejoin his crew, one hand to his stomach.
He never looks back.