Backstory.

Mar. 4th, 2006 10:08 pm
badinlatin: (why did you leave?)
It's never quiet on a battlefield. Not even after both sides have 'laid down arms'. It's just a different kind of noise that lays over the Valley now, scattered and as jarring as the broken bodies laying still where they had fallen ... one week? two weeks? more? ago.

Zoe and Mal had taken to sleeping in shifts, if one could call it that. Mal couldn't - he called it more one of them shutting their eyes tight to block out the screams of the dying while the other tried to find anything that would burn in order to keep their fire going.

There were too many things to choose from to burn, here. They went cold and clung to each other before letting themselves think of the next closest source of fuel. This was one of those nights - Zoe had managed a fitful and altogether uncomfortable sort of sleep, Mal pulling off his rank and regiment markers on his coat and flicking them into their pitiful excuse of what Zoe called "a signal light".

Mal was trying very hard not to pay attention to MacAvoy, who had curled into a ditch earlier that day, having lost what little sanity and reason was left to him.

"How loud are the drums of War, they come when you call..." was all Mal could make out from what MacAvoy was mumbling, and it was all Mal could do to not pull off his last boot and chuck it at him to shut him up.

A short grunt focused Mal's attention elsewhere, as a young man - Mal wants to say lieutenant, but rank markings don't matter here, if they ever did - was inching his way toward him, probably the most put together out of anyone still moving up on Zoe and Mal's hill. He had one hand to his thigh, but it didn't look like he was seriously wounded. Not that Mal was really noticing anything besides how the lieutenant's red hair made his fire look even more pathetic by comparison.

"HEY!" shouted the newcomer to MacAvoy, who retreated further into his ditch. "Shut up or I will shut you up, dong ma?"

Mal liked this guy already, but the fear in MacAvoy's glance worried him. The newcomer - Mal just called him Red - sidled up next to Mal, looking at the flames.

"Think we're gonna die here?"

Great. Another cheerful one.

"You maybe," Mal croaks, throat dry. He hasn't seen water for awhile. "Not me."

A laugh from Red, which throbs in Mal's ears like adrenaline after firing off a round at an Alliance skiff. "Good answer." There is an uncomfortable stop, then, which only ends when Red reaches to Mal's chest, pointing a finger - too pale for battle, who is this guy? - at Mal's crucifix.

"What you got that still hanging around your neck for?"

A swallow. Zoe is still asleep, for as much as she ever sleeps. "Used to think God was flyin' my colors."

"Oh yeah?" Another laugh. "Whose colors is he flyin' now?"


He was the first one to hear the medships. He moves to wake Zoe first, before looking to his other side to see if Red was still there.

Long gone. Mal convinces himself he was never there in the first place, forgetting most of whatever invented conversation had passed between them.

He does take his crucifix off before he lights the signal flare, shoving it roughly in his back pocket. He has other crosses to bear heavier than this one, now.

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Malcolm Beauregard Reynolds

July 2017

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