badinlatin: ("let's moon 'em")
It's raining, and Mal loves it. Feels nice, new, clean.

He's checking around for the last of the tools just outside the open cargo bay door, moving things back inside and getting ready to close up.

All it takes is one footfall from the man that has been watching him for the past few minutes for his hand to fly to his gun. Without turning to face him, Mal shouts, "If you're here to tell me we ain't finished, then we will be real quick."

The Operative doesn't step toward Mal. "Do you know what an uproar you've caused? Protests, riots - cries for a recall of the entire Parliament."

Mal finally turns, adding, "We've seen the broadwaves."

"You must be pleased."

"'Verse wakes up a spell. Won't be long 'fore she rolls right over and falls back asleep. It ain't my worry."

"I can't guarantee they won't come after you," the Operative finally steps closer. "The Parliament. They have a hundred men like me and they are not...forgiving."

"That don't bode especially well for you. Giving the order to let us go; patchin' up our hurt."

"I told them the Tams were no longer a threat - damage done. They might listen, but I think they know I'm no longer...their man."

Mal picks up a rag from the toolbox he had been carrying and wipes his hands. "They take you down, I don't expect to grieve overmuch. Like to kill you myself, I see you again."

The Operative smiles, almost...human, to Mal's eyes. "You won't. There is nothing left to see." This garners him an odd look from Mal, and they almost turn their seperate ways, but then the Operative adds, "'Serenity'. You lost everything in that battle. Everything you had, everything you were...how did you go on?"

Mal continues walking up the cargo bay ramp and hits the button to close it, eyeing the man on the outside.

"You still standing there when the engine starts, you will never figure it out."

The door closes between Mal and the Operative, and Mal moves further into the cargo bay, toward Zoe walking to meet him.

To himself, almost accidentally, but ringing true: "What a whiner..."

badinlatin: (that makes us mighty)
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.
"I do."

"You willing to die for that belief?"

"I am."
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.

badinlatin: (mal manip 1)
Wash had said "Wait..." and Mal knew, knew in his gut that everything was gone.

It only took looking out through the windscreen of the ship to see he was right. Every single visible building was broken and torn apart, and any bodies visible weren't moving. No way they could have moved, what with most of them having bullet wounds in numerous places.

The burning Alliance ship that had crashed in one corner of Mal's plane of view wasn't moving either.



Jayne surveys everything at once before the rest of the crew even step off the ship. Mal hears Kaylee calling out for Book, but Mal doesn't understand how she could really expect an answer from anyone out here. Mal moves away from the crew instead, Jayne moving close beside him, half-running behind a bunker with the cannon mount, finding Shepherd Book crew laying broken beside it.

"Get the Doc," Mal barks, and at once Jayne disappears. Mal puts down his gun to take Book's hand, not noticing the blood that covered it.

"Shepherd...Don't move." Just don't, dong ma?

"Won't go far..."

"Shouldn't've been you," Mal chokes at him. "I'm so sorry, it was...they should've hit us. They should have hit me."

"You'll lose, you'll always lose. You already have lost."

"That crossed my mind." Book coughs, bringing up a faint spray of blood. His head tries to roll toward the Alliance ship, telling Mal, "I shot him down--"

"I seen."

"I killed the ship...that killed us. Not...Not very Christian of me."

Mal's jaw sets so as not to fall to pieces. "You did what's right."

Book's dark eyes set to Mal's, not entirely unkindly, "Coming from you, that means -- almost nothing." Book lets out a groan of pain. "I'm long gone..."

"No," Mal charges. "No, you're not. Doc'll bring you 'round. I look to be bored by many more sermons 'fore you slip - Don't Move ---"

"You can't order me 'round, boy - I'm not one of your crew..."

It is becoming very hard to see clearly for Mal. "Yes you are." Of course you are.

Book raises his hand to the left side of Mal's neck, smearing blood. "You...It's on you now. All this death, this shit...you have to find a course. This can't mean nothing. River...you have to..."

Mal can't not stare at Book with a newly-found horror. And fear, oh aye. Fear.

"I don't care what you believe! Just...believe it." Book coughs again, languishing. "Whatever you have to..."

The sound of Book's breathing slows...slows. And stops. Book's hand falls, and Mal can feel the hot blood on his face. He stands as he hears Jayne and the Doc coming, but Mal can't look at them yet. All he sees is Book friend crew on the ground. Dead.

"Zoe," Mal hears Jayne start in restlessness, "How come they ain't waitin'? They know'd we was comin', how come they only sent one?"

Zoe voices the conclusion they both reach. "They didn't know we would come here -- Wash, get on the Cortex. Wave Li Shen, the Sanchez brothers - anyone who has ever sheltered us after a heist. Tell them to get out. Get out now."



All Mal can do is stare at the vidscreens on the bridge. Sanchez boys were down, Li Shen, everyone - gone. Mal doesn't know how much time went by before all seven vidscreens he had been watching changed to the same feed of the Operative, looking...stern.

"I'm sorry," came the shockingly sincere-sounding apology.

"You - what?"

"If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to," the Operative explains cooly. "You should have taken my offer - or did you think none of this was your fault?"

"I don't murder children."

"I do. If I have to."

"Why?" I need to know. "Do you even know why they sent you?"

"It's not my place to ask. I believe in something that is greater than myself," came his explanation. Like a schoolteacher instruction. "A better world. A world without sin."
Do you know what your sin is, Captain?

"So me and mine got to lie down and die so you can live in your better world?"

Again with the schoolteacher voice, correcting the slowest child in the class. "I'm not going to live there. How could you think - there's no place for me there, any more than there is for you. Malcolm, I'm a monster." At least Mal and the Operative agree on something. "What I do is evil, I have no illusions about that, but it must be done."

Mal looks to the one remaining open vidscreen to check the comm status. "Keep talkin' - you're not getting a location trace off this wave."

"And every minute you keep River Tam from me more people will die."

You think I care?!"

The Operative vaguely nods in response. "Of course you do. You're not a reaver, Mal. You're a human man and you will never--"

Mal cuts all power to the bridge comm off, all screens going blank.

Reavers

"The Lord is frequently known to favor those who execute an unexpected sneak attack with heavy weaponry, skilled soldiers, and solid tactics."

Captain Reynolds has a plan.

badinlatin: (big damn hero)
There had been no sight of the Alliance when Serenity descended into atmo about 70 miles or so away from the Training House. The hairs on the back of Mal's neck were still standing up though. He's always felt that prickling at times when others are watching.

As soon as Serenity is hidden away, Mal flies off to the Training House in Inara's old shuttle.



Getting in was easier than expected. This did not cheer Mal at all, even if he did smile to himself at seeing Inara in the flesh again.

Still in the oversized red shawl that Inara had left in her shuttle, Mal kneels beside her, head still covered.

"Dear Buddha, please send me a pony, and a plastic rocket, and ---"

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badinlatin: (Default)
Malcolm Beauregard Reynolds

July 2017

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