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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
A different crew in the Firefly 'Verse. The Captain reviews his past and some doubts arise as to the location of their next drop...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1810 RATING: 8 SERIES: FIREFLY
Six Years Earlier
When the explosions finally stopped, Lieutenant Etris Kurdian lifted his head and peered over the rock outcropping that he had ducked behind moments before the Alliance, his damn superiors, had started bombing the valley. The ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng of a Commander hadn’t even given the evacuation order before dropping balls of fire on Alliance and Independents alike. He had heard the screams, felt the heat wash over him, but by some miracle he had been left unscathed. The miracle, however, hadn’t been extended to the rest of the valley.
Flame-eaten corpses lay strewn out as far as he could see, and the smell of death permeated the air. Bile came rushing up his throat, and he doubled over, vomiting. His entire unit, slaughtered, lay less than fifty yards away, killed by the same people they were fighting for.
When his stomach settled somewhat, he made his way down the rise, picking between bodies, looking for any survivors. At one point it was so bad he was moving detached body parts, searching out anyone who was still breathing. After nearly two hours, he confirmed his fear: everyone that had fought under his command was dead. All of them.
He threw his head back and screamed. His insides felt as if they were tearing apart. He had fought long and hard for the Alliance against a foe that his superiors swore would destroy civilization if they weren’t stopped. He had faced seemingly insurmountable odds before and had walked out of them without a scratch. This would have been his biggest victory. His boost to a command post.
But not now.
Tears streamed down his face as he cursed the Alliance, cursed the Independents, cursed everyone he could think of. His future mattered nothing to him now, not after leading forty men and women to their deaths. Not to mention the countless others who lay dead in Serenity Valley. All those people dead, and for what? A cause that he now questioned? Was the threat really bad enough to deserve the slaughter of thousands? No one deserved that.
He forced himself to relax. He needed to be in control now more than ever. He breathed deeply, his nose wrinkling at the horrid smell; then he pushed beyond the boundary of his unit and out into the valley.
He made his way slowly, methodically, checking every body, Alliance and Independants alike. Purple-bellies and Browncoats. For a long while all he came across were still corpses, most so burned he couldn’t tell which side they had fought on. Parts of the field still burned, so he kept to the rim. Finally, he found someone still alive.
The soldier was badly burned, and wore what used to be a uniform of the Independents. His hair was gone, burnt away along with part of his face. Kurdian dug the man out of the pile of corpses he rested in and checked the rest of his body. He nearly retched again: the soldier had no legs and only half of one arm. His chest was burnt, his ribs exposed; but despite all the logic that filled Kurdian’s head, the man was still alive.
The soldier tried to speak, his dry tongue clacking in his mouth, so Kurdian bent down to listen. The man swallowed and his chest shuddered, his breath fading fast.
“Speak, boy,” Kurdian said.
With a voice that faded almost as soon as it spoke, the soldier whispered his last word, and it chilled Kurdian to the bone.
The pained eyes looked up into Kurdian’s and saw their last sight. The soldier’s breath faded, his body shuddered once more, and then he lay still. Kurdian reached down and closed the boy’s eyes. He whispered a prayer, just like his mother had taught him, and stood up again.
Why? It was a damn good question, and he wasn’t sure anymore if he had the answer.
The voice rang out behind him. He spun and saw a woman up ahead, looking in his direction and waving. He jogged over to her, grateful to find that someone beside him had survived.
“We’re moving everyone alive up the hill,” she stated, gesturing to the soldier at her feet. “Can you help me?”
Kurdian nodded, bending down to grab the soldier’s legs, thankfully finding them attached. The man moaned in pain, but he was still alive. He wore an Alliance uniform, but it was so burnt that only tatters of purple cloth remained. Kurdian’s own uniform was so muddy and torn that only his shoulder patch was still visible. He glanced at the woman. She was tall, dark and bruised, with a brown uniform that was as dirty as his.
“Are you an Independent?” he asked the obvious.
She nodded. “I’m Zoe.”
A Browncoat then, helping an Alliance soldier. Obviously not the monsters that Command made them out to be.
Zoe looked him over. “Are you Alliance?”
He looked down at the patch on his arm, the one he had proudly worn for so long. The symbol of the great Alliance that now merged into one with the face of the burnt soldier. He carefully shifted the man’s legs to one arm, and then reached across and ripped the patch from his uniform, throwing it as far as he could.
“Not any more,” he answered.
Behind him, unseen, the patch floated on the wind until it was swept up into the flames, where it began to burn.
* * *
En-Route to Shadow
Captain Etris Kurdian sat on the bridge in the co-pilot’s seat, a cup of strong coffee in his good hand as he stared out the windows at the sky. A twinkle of lights flashed on the console in front of him and on the pilot’s console to his right, but other than that, the bridge was dark. The stars outside, as multiple as they were did nothing to brighten the room, which was fine with him. He preferred the dark sometimes, found it to be a better companion than the light. Darkness hid the ugly things, the scars and memories of scars; the light made everything too clear.
He felt the hum of the engines rumbling through the deck plating, and it was a comfort to him. Something familiar to relax in, like a mother’s soft hug, or a father’s crushing one. A reassurance that no matter what came, no matter what changed, he would always have something to remind him that in the end everything would be okay.
He looked down at his arm, the bandaged one and smiled. Gretta had done a good job. He was finding more and more reasons to be grateful that Tark had fallen for her back on Sihnon and that she had agreed to come on board Destiny. She was a damn good doctor, and God knows they needed one from time to time. They might be on an Alliance contract, but during those months in between their “official” jobs, they needed to make some extra cash one way or another, and sometimes those ways only came with the exchange of bullets. He thought about their job back on Florida Moon, back when their simpler times had gotten a lot harder really fast, back when his trust had been broken by someone he would have died for-
Kurdian turned from his thoughts, put his memories aside. Behind him, Togan Hamrik walked through the doorway and onto the bridge. The engineer was wiping his hands of on a rag, and as usual, his hands were the only things on him covered in grease. Somehow he managed to stay clean, no matter how hard he worked on the engine.
“So Harvey tells me our drop is on Shadow.” Togan spoke in the same crystal clear tone he always spoke in. He was smart as hell, and educated at the best schools in the core, but yet he had chosen to ship out with Kurdian for reasons that he still avoided explaining.
“Harvey talks too much,” Kurdian replied.
Togan chuckled. “That he does.” He finished cleaning his hands and shoved the rag into one of the many pockets on his jumpsuit. “So what’s the cargo?”
“According to Patience, it’s mostly foodstuff, protein bars and the like.”
“That’s a lot of protein in the hold right now. I saw them loading the stuff. Any clue how she got her hands on so much of it?”
Kurdian shrugged. “I asked her about it, but I guess it’s a sore subject. She kept mumbling about some hwoon dahn named Reynolds.” He turned back to his coffee and drained the cup in one lone swallow.
“I don’t think going to Shadow is such a good idea, Captain,” Togan said, his voice actually sounding unsure for once. “You remember hearing about what happened there.”
Kurdian spoke without turning. “It’s been a long time since then, Togan. They’ve recovered pretty well, no thanks to the lack of help from the Alliance.” He set down the cup on the console. “There’s good people on that rock, and we’ve got a job to do anyway.”
Togan said nothing in reply, and after a moment Kurdian heard him shuffle back out the door. The bridge was silent again. Was going to Shadow a bad idea? Maybe back during the war it would have been, but now?
Harvey tossed and turned in his sleep, nightmares of Shadow racing through his brain. He sat bolt upright in his bed, sweat streaming down his face, and his memories came rushing back to him. Memories of Shadow, of the town where his Uncle once lived, and of the single event that had torn Shadow apart.
“Tzao gao!” he cried, and he voiced the word that ripped through his nightmares:
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