In hoc signo vinces
Friday, August 18, 2006

My first FanFic. About 4 months Post-BDM. The crew of Srenity are getting back to normal. While resting, Mal receives a wave from an old foe. Critisism welcome.


It was quite on the firefly class cargo transport ‘Serenity’. The crew had finally retreated to their individual quarters, and as the lights dimmed on his ship, Malcolm Reynolds finally had the chance to sit and enjoy the peace. Their last job had actually paid in coin, and handsomely too, so Mal could afford to be a little picky about the job’s he sent the crew on, preferring the one’s with less likelihood of violence. Jayne would be bored though.

Sitting on the bridge of the ship, in the co-pilots seat, he would never take the pilots seat anymore as that was for his little albatross, he was content to just look into the black and fall asleep, knowing that things were going smoothly for once. Sort of.

Though she never showed it to anyone, Zoë grieved something terrible for a long while over Wash, but she finally seemed to be emerging from the fog. Good news for the Captain, as he hated seeing her so unfocused on jobs where violence would no doubt ensue, even if she still was the best marksman on the ship. He suspected that she might blame him a bit for what happened to her husband, but he knew she’d never show it. The only time he’d seen her grieve openly was the second night in the black after Miranda. At the dinner table, he held her as she cried herself to sleep in his arms. Mal felt a little uncomfortable to be honest, not because of the emotion she showed, a rarity if ever there was one, but because this was Wash’s job. But she was still by his side, still following him like a women possessed, even if it wasn’t as blindly.”

Simon and Kaylee were getting along nicely, though Mal hated to think of his mei-mei being corrupted, even by a man as upstanding as the doc. And the doc was helping River deal with the effects the events of Miranda had on both her body and her mind. So she was dealing well enough, even if she would still get the occasional bout of the crazies. Hell, even Jayne wasn’t complaining as much, content to work out or clean Vera whenever he was annoyed. Though Mal suspected that was more often than not, as the big brute had become good friends with the preacher. He even managed a civil conversation with Simon, which surprised Jayne as much as anyone.

That only left Inara. She was back on Serenity, as fact that Mal secretly elated about, though he’d tried to act as if it didn’t affect him. But even he had to admit that lately they were growing closer, talking more, talking about things they’d never even known about each other. He loved her. He knew it, she knew it. Hell, even Jayne knew it. But he still had the curse over him of being able to place his foot firmly in his mouth, calling her a whore whenever an argument erupted, and getting cold stares from everyone within earshot. She was still a companion, though as they’d grown closer, her schedule had become less demanding, which was something he was, of course, happy about. Partly because he knew the job was below her, and partly because he liked to think that maybe she was cutting back for him.

Mal sighed as he felt the pull of sleep overcome his thoughts, and his consciousness give way to a dreamless sleep. Yep, Smooth.


An incoming wave had set sounded, and Mal, ever the vigilant captain, was up and at the screen in moments, slightly annoyed at his peace being disturbed. He flicked on the screen to see something he had not expected. Or rather, someone.

“Ta Da Ma”, was all Mal could manage to get out, the look on his face one of anger, fear and utter dumbfoundedness.

The face he saw was one he had never wanted to see ever again. It was him. The Operative, and it sent an icy chill down Mal’s spine and froze him to the core.

“Captain Reynolds”, said the Operative, a polite nod as he spoke.

Mal was not happy. He was tired, he was a little hungry, but most of all he was confused, “How did you get this ship’s source codes? ” was all he could manage before adding “You can’t track us” as he looked at the trace scrambler he paid a tidy sum for after Miranda.

The last time Mal saw the man on the screen was on Miranda, following an ordeal that saw the death of two of not only crew members, but friends, and as the man walked away that day, Mal had to resist the urge to shoot the man in the back. He didn’t of course, it wasn’t Mal’s way to shoot a man who wasn’t facing him, and the man had done them the kindness of repair Serenity letting them go, and calling off the Alliance. He instead left the man defeated, his only conviction in his life broken. Mal knew the feeling, he’d been through such a thing himself, and for a moment his mind flashed to that moment in the Battle of Serenity Valley. Shaking his thoughts out of the past and focusing on the problem at hand, Mal kept a steely glare on the man who clearly should not be speaking with him.

“I have no intention of tracking you, and I found you easily enough.. A man such as I is trained with many skills… I didn’t just kill people Mal”, was the reply.

He called Mal by his name, not his title. The Captain was slightly taken aback by this, but as he looked into the man’s eyes, he saw something else. Regret. Still, Mal wasn’t about to feel sorry for the guy.

“You didn’t kill people. You murdered ‘em. And I recall you having a hand in some deaths that give me reason to shoot you where you stand. I also recall tellin’ you I’d do just that if I ever saw you ‘gain.”

The Operative smirked, knowing now that Mal was right, “Yes, well, right you are. Though I should think you’d be more concerned with why I waved more than how.”

Mal knew the man was right, and also that the man had just guided him into asking the next question he would.

“And why is it that you waved then?” asked Mal, aggravated at being fooled into actually having a conversation with this hwoon dahn.

“I have news Mal, and I am afraid it does not bode well…for anyone of us.”

Mal almost choked on his breath from the shock, instead he just gagged a bit.

“Shuh ma? Dung ee-miao. Us?” was all Mal could manage.

The Operative shared a knowing sigh with himself, “They are coming, and this time they will let nothing stand in their way.” The man’s eyes seemed to take on a tinge of sadness.

Mal just looked at him, confused and a little dumbfounded. He thought that in the infitecimable chance he ever even heard of the man who was once so intent on his crew’s demise, it would be because he had taken up the hunt again. Instead, he apparently had just warned Mal, once his quarry. Still, how the hell did he find us? And warning us of what?

The Operative read the look on Mal’s face. And he knew that being cryptic was not the way to go right now.

“It’s me. They are coming after me Mal.”

“Alliance?” was all Mal could manage.

Okay, this was getting weird and Mal was getting closer to ending the transmission with every word uttered. Still, this man’s appearance did not bode well, and the man seemed what? Scared?

“I really don’t see how your dying should be something I should care about.” was Mal’s reply.

Making this simple, the Operative stated, “They found me Mal, only because they were looking for me. I didn’t think they would do either of those things, but they have. And they are trying to kill me because of you. I protected you, I let you go, I told them the threat you posed was gone. They believed me then. Now they don’t.”

“This don’t make any kinda sense, why are you waving me?”, Mal was worried. No, he was scared. If the Alliance was hunting Serenity again, he knew for certain this time that nothing could stop them, because that meant that Miranda was not the only thing this ship harbored that they wanted.

“I protected Serenity back then Mal. I protect her still. I told you they would let nothing stand in their way”, he could see Mal’s face change as he realised what he was being told, “Well right now Captain, that nothing is me. And when I am gone, and I will be soon enough, then there will only be the black between them and you.” The man’s eyes were full of something, an emotion Mal had never seen in his eyes before, but what was it? Sadness? Maybe. Fear? A little. Mal knew it. The assassin was sorry.

Mal’s heart actually went out to the guy, or it would have if it wasn’t busy skipping so many beats. “Why tell us? Why protect us? Why any of it?”. Mal was no longer scared. He was terrified, and though he suspected he might know the answer, he needed confirmation and to understand.

For the first time, the Operative broke his gaze from the screen, if only for a moment, to gather his thoughts. “When you saw me last, I was a man without a purpose, as you once were, and for the longest time I was lost that way. I wandered the ‘verse as a purposeless thing. And try as I might, I could not find anything before me that could tie me down. I lived only to continue my existence, and that way of living was becoming tiresome. It was ending.” A twinge of hope, happiness even snuck into the man’s tone, “Then I heard the name Serenity as I walked down a backalley on Osiris, and I finally realised that I existed, I was alive, to keep your ship, it’s crew, it’s secrets…to keep them free. To keep them safe.” Mal was slightly bemused at the show of emotion the man was exhibiting, until he saw shame fill the assassins eyes and tears form in them, “And now I have failed spectacularly” the man finished, as a tear rolled down his cheek.

Mal looked at the man and held a finger up as a gesture to wait a moment. The he got on the ships comm and, setting the switch to ‘all’ grabbed the walkie, “Everybody wake up….report to the bridge, we have…” Mal paused, unsure how to phrase the next part of his announcement, “..we have a situation.”

Mal and the Operative sat in silence until everyone had arrived. And the looks on everyone’s faces as they saw the man on the screen when they stepped on the bridge ran the gamut of shock to just plain pissed off. Mal relayed the conversation he’d just had with the assassin to the crew as he looked on. And everyone looked at River.

“Don’t look at me. If I have what they want, I sure as hell don’t know it”, she defended herself, then looking to Simon for support, then to Mal, she tapped her finger to her left temple and continued, “and I am pretty sure I am getting to know all that’s in here pretty well now.”

“ ’Cept your still as mad as a hatter” Jayne quipped.

Ignoring Jayne’s comment, Mal looked at his crew, and noticing the concern on their faces, turned to the man who was waiting patiently on the screen. “Can you wave us again in about a half hour?”

“I can” was the assassins reply.

And with that Mal flicked off the screen to end the conversation. “Everybody to the kitchen.”

With everyone in their seats, they began the discussion of the Operatives mysterious appearance. And while everyone was at first almost positive the man was again trying to kill them, there was also a general consensus that he was not under the Alliance’s thumb. The Alliance had good reason to try and kill him, and no reason to try and employ his services again. His betrayal of the Alliance was unforgivable. However, having looked into his eyes on the days he was trying to kill them, that day he walked away from them on Miranda and just before in the wave, Mal knew that this was a man who had believed in something so blindly and fully, that when it was revealed to him as a sham, it had broken him. He lost everything that day at Miranda when the recording was broadcast across much of the ‘verse. He had no quarrel with the enemy of the Alliance, because in every way the Alliance had become his enemy.

So Mal convinced them to trust the assassin, or at least give him the benefit of the doubt. Still, Mal reasoned, there was no way to even know if the man was telling him the truth.

As the crew waited for the assassin to call back, Mal was thinking over Zoë’s reactions to the discussion held earlier. Whenever Mal let the crew have their tiny bit of democracy, he always looked to Zoë, really only counting her opinion. So when he’d asked her for it and she just rose from her chair and left the room, he knew what she was trying to say.

This was the man who caused Wash’s death, and now they were all about to entrust their lives to him. She knew it was foolish of her to not trust Mal’s instincts, but in a way she just couldn’t follow him as blindly as she used to. Still, she knew that if what the assassin was saying was true, then they really had no choice. Mal knew it too.

When the wave came in, Mal answered it before the alarm could sound.

Flicking the screen on, Mal was greeting by the Operative, but noticed the man’s surroundings had changed. Always on the run.

Mal was quick to the point. “You serious about protecting this ship?”

“I am” was the reply.

“And you have proof the Alliance want us dead?”

“I do.”

“Send it.” was all Mal said.

When the information the Operative sent flickered up the screen, everyone on Serenity took a deep breath, as if trying to work the shock out of their system and process what was before them. Mal’s eyes lit up with a mixture or anger, fear and something like awaking from a perfect dream and finding yourself in hell.

Mal looked at the screen and right into the assassins eyes.

The Operative spoke first, “I have more.”

“Where are you?” asked Mal.


The look on Mal’s face said it all. So the Operative laid it out for him. “The best place to hide from someone, Captain, is often right under their nose.”

“Have they started hunting us down yet?”

“No, they want me first. They don’t care what you do. Right now, you don’t matter. They know I have this information, so now they are in damage control.”

Mal looked over his left shoulder to Zoë, standing just outside the door. She just nodded at him, and he could tell from the look in her eyes what she was thinking. She’d go along, but she would not be happy. And she would not forgive Mal if it cost her. Then she looked at her feet, turned and left, afraid she would be sick. As soon as she was around the corner, she ran to her room, where she vomited her dinner into the sink. For only the third time since Wash’s death, that night Zoë cried herself to sleep, and hoped she would not have to wake up.

As Zoë turned and left, Mal faced the screen, “Londinium?” he asked, wanting to be sure.

“Indeed” was the Operative’s reply, a curious expression on his face.

Lowering his head in disbelief, Mal sighed. Looking up again, he looked into the assassin’s eyes.

“Meet us on Persephone, the Eavesdown Docks, a fella called Badger. You find him, and we’ll find you. We’re a week out.”

Mal flicked off the screen, turned around and met the gazes of each member of his crew one at a time. River spoke first, turning to Simon she simply stated “It’s not safe again”. Turning and exiting the room, she added sadly “Things are going to get much worse.”


Friday, August 18, 2006 6:15 AM



Friday, August 18, 2006 11:53 AM


This is really good but if I were Mal I would have taken the Operative's warning then gone to find somewhere deep and far away, not go to meet him on Persephone. As sure as eggs are eggs if the Alliance are all out looking to hunt down the Operative then anywhere near that man is a death sentence for Serenity and *all* her crew. Poor Zoe, and why can't River say something besides how much worse it is going to get? Not exactly useful information. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, August 18, 2006 8:44 PM


Thanks AMDOBELL, but the reason Mal doesn't, or rathera can't take Serenity further concerns what they all see on the screen. Running right now is not an option. They have no leverage to run. If they see the Operative, he might be able to give them information they can use.

Monday, August 21, 2006 7:38 AM


Hey, this is one I'm looking forward to continuing - like the way you set the scene. Things starting to go well enough until the appearance of the Op. Good characterization of the possible change in Mal and Zoe's relationship:

"She'd go along, but she would not be happy. And she would not forgive Mal if it cost her."

Monday, August 21, 2006 11:43 AM


Mucho props to ya, BornToFly for taking the plunge. You have more cojones than I do right now;)

Gotta admit...I am very intrigued at what the Alliance thinks the Operative and the BDHs know that makes them still viable targets to be hunted. Really wanna see where you take this:D

Now..for the critique for future shininess:

1) Mal and the Operative neither have their final confrontation (where the Operative tells Mal about how the Alliance could still hunt them down) on Miranda nor does Mal send the Miranda Wave from Miranda. The wave was sent from Mr. Universe's Moon (only name I got for it) and the Mal-Operative moment in the rain occurs on Persephone

2) Your take on River seemes less than steady. The first time you have her speak in the story, she seems to talk like Jayne would ("Don’t look at me. If I have what they want, I sure as hell don’t know it") rather than the more formal cadence she uses during the series and movie. The final comment from River appears more like how she would be still.

But hey...your story, so you're the driver here. You want River to be a tad more blunt and rough, then I will allow you the opportunity to do so;)


Monday, November 6, 2006 6:09 PM


You captured The Operative briliantly.

Friday, December 29, 2006 11:56 AM


Very nice take on the Operative, in particular - and your Mal and Zoe - both as characters individually and their (changing) dynamic - ring true.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 7:01 PM


Oooo more?


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In hoc signo vinces
My first FanFic.
About 4 months Post-BDM. The crew of Srenity are getting back to normal. While resting, Mal receives a wave from an old foe. Critisism welcome.