Learning Curve- Chapter III
Friday, December 7, 2007

An Alliance attack forces Mal to step up and take charge.


Feb. 2507 Firebase Poker, Three Hills ---------------------------------------

The Winter Campaign was in full swing. Mal understood the historical reference from Earth that was, but on Three Hills it was summer and it was hot.

He made his way into the camp. The patrol had been uneventful. “The heat must be taking a toll on the Alliance as well.”

After checking in, Mal made his way to the small wedge tent he shared with Morgan. He stripped off his shirt as he entered the tent. Morgan was gone. Something was brewing Mal thought as eased into his cot. Morgan had been in the command bunker, before he left on patrol. He had learned by now to rest when he had the chance and he laid back and closed his eyes. His thoughts drifted to Shadow. It would be spring there. New calves on the ground, horses to be broke and his Ma cracking a whip on the hands, to spring clean the bunk house.

“Wake up Mal.” Morgan said kicking the leg of the cot. Mal swung his feet to the ground and rubbed his eyes.

“Must have been some dream. I came in here and you were grinning like a jack ass eating cactus.”

Mal snorted a laugh “Dreaming of home.”

“Oh, thought you might have been dreaming of that whore on Persephone.”

Mal let out a soft groan and placed his head in his hands. “Ain’t planning on letting me forget her are ya?”

“Forget her? Hell Mal, she had a face like a horse and the rest of her weren’t much better.”

“I was drunk, and near as I remember you was the one that brought her over to meet me.”

“I was testing, to see how you handled you liquor…. You failed.”

Mal shot him a dirty look. “Did you wake me up just to rub this in my face again?”

“No. We drew scout duty. Think there may be trouble brewing. Get the unit together and rally at the south gate.” Morgan pulled the flap to the tent open. “One other thing” He said “When you got her excited, did she neigh?”

Mal threw his boot in Morgan’s direction as he ducked out of the tent. ----

They were only 15 minutes out of base when word of the attack came over the com. The Alliance had hit almost every Independent fortification at once. As their shuttle swung round to return to base the comm filled with chatter from all over the front. Frantic talk, gave way to panic screams, as pleas for support filled the air. Mal followed Morgan to the cockpit. The co-pilot pulled up a visual of the base. Streams of tracer rounds poured into the firebase, as tanks and troops converged on the area. The screen changed to an overview. Mal saw two large signatures on the screen heading towards the battle.

“Those are Centaur class Corvettes” The co-pilot said in awe.

“Sorry Sarge. We run. Those ships will mash us like a bug.” The pilot said as he swung the shuttle into a tight turn. “The hell we run.” Mal said angrily.

“Mal go to the back”

“But Sarge we can help. Let them run if they want but put us on the ground.”

Morgan’s hands were a blur as shoved Mal hard into the wall. Grabbing his jacket as he bounced off the hull, Morgan pulled him face to face. “Time comes you outrank me, you can make that call. Till that time you’ll follow orders, Corporal Reynolds. Now clear the bridge.”

Mal was infuriated as he reattached his safety line and took his position by the door. Morgan had never spoken to him like that and he had never seen the man backed down from a fight. When they were on Boros, Mal and three other had to drag him from the field when they were ordered to retreat. All the time Morgan had been yelling into the comm., that the line would hold. Slowly it sunk into Mal’s brain. Morgan hadn’t backed down from a fight, he thought he could win. Mal had been wrong. He stomped his foot on the deck no longer mad at Morgan. He looked up to see Morgan running from the bridge.

“Everyone rope up, Gunship spotted us.”

Mal quickly unsnapped and pulled the coils of rope from the overhead compartment. Morgan did the same on the port side of the shuttle. With the ropes stacked and attached the soldiers moved to position. Morgan hit a switch and the doors on both sides retracted. The howl of the wind made it impossible to hear. Mal watched close for the hand signal. The shuttle banked hard and dropped towards the deck then reversed thrust and leveled out over an opening in the trees. Morgan held up a fist until the shuttle settled, then flashed the go signal. All eight men jumped from the shuttle into the forest below.

Mal landed harder than he expected. The uneven terrain threw him off this feet and he rolled into a dry creek bed. As he crawled out, he heard a scream, above him Private Lacoy and Morgan floated, tangled in the lines. The shuttle started to drop, lowering the men to safety. They were almost under the tree line when a missile clipped the starboard engine. Mal crouched in the creek as the other soldiers scattered. Morgan hit the ground first. Mal swore he heard a bone snap, even over the shuttle engines. Lacoy hit the ground hard and didn’t move. Mal closed his eyes expecting the shuttle to crush them both. The reality was not much better. He opened his eyes to see the shuttle recover and leap back towards the gap in the trees, dragging the slack lines taunt. Morgan swung his knife at the same time Mal drew and fired. One of them hit the rope. Lacoy, unconscious, flew back into the air. Before Mal could fire again the shuttle made the tree tops and veered off. The rope holding Lacoy snapped as he smashed into a tree.

“Mal” Morgan called.

Mal knelt beside him. He saw the bone sticking from Morgan’s forearm. “Edwards, get over here.” Mal said.

As Specialist Edwards started over, Morgan held up a fist, stopping the man. “Guess your time to lead got here a little sooner than expected. Gunship prob’ly marked our position. You won’t have a much time to get clear of here.”

“Let Edwards see to your arm sir” Mal said motioning the medic over.

“Ain’t just the arm, think I cracked a couple ribs.” Morgan said through the pain. “Leave me boy, Get em out of here.”

“Just let Edwards do his job Sarge. He’ll have you patched up and ready to move.”

Morgan grabbed his shoulder. “I’ll slow you down” He struggled to breathe as the adrenaline began to wane.

Mal ignored him and knotted a handkerchief then stuck it in Morgan’s mouth as Edwards administered a sedative. Morgan bit deep into the kerchief as they straightened the arm. Then he passed out.

Mal rose to his feet. Any doubt he had on the shuttle vanished. ”Keep him doped.” Mal barked at Edwards. “Kershaw, Riley, rig up a stretcher. Jennings, Kelly go fetch Lacoy’s body.”

It was time to lead.

Mal said a few words over Lacoy’s body. They had laid him to rest in the creek bed and collapsed the bank over him. Mal knew when the dry season passed, he would be swept away, but the clock was ticking. He had spoken with command and the withdrawal had been ordered. A shuttle was being sent for them but the evac point was miles away. If they missed the shuttle the Alliance would have them.

Mal moved to the edge of the clearing. “Damn” he muttered, as he eyed the Alliance AA skiff hovering in the field. They must of crack our encryption Mal thought as he turned to his unit. Morgan was still out. Edwards knelt at his side. The others had spread out around him, securing the perimeter. He would have to call off the rescue shuttle. The anti aircraft gun would chew the shuttle up. He was about to squeeze the comm when he saw the skiff hatch open. Mal watched the purple belly pull him self out of the top hatch. He walked the armored hull to the gunner. The gunner spun the turret to face the other soldier. They both consulted the small holo scroll. They were lost. A third soldier exit the hatch and jumped to the ground.

Mal chirped a local bird call and the unit formed up. Using hand signals he communicated the plan and they moved to position. If time had been on his side, Mal would have waited for the skiff to move on. Even with the tree cover, attacking the AA gun from a distance would be tough. But that wasn't an option. If the shuttle saw the gun they would abort, if they didn’t get shot down first.

Half the unit stayed behind in the trees. They would be the distraction. Mal and the other half, belly crawled into the field.

Mal could make out the two men still arguing over the holo. He scanned for the third. The high grass made it impossible to see him without giving away his own position. He was out of time. He reached for the comm mike and clicked it twice. Fire erupted from the tree line. Mal and the other soldiers rose to a knee and flung grenades towards the skiff. Before Mal could see if they had knocked out the skiff, a bullet whizzed by his head. He spun to see the third purple belly 20 yards away, he had been relieving himself. Now he had a pistol in one hand, the other holding up his pants. His second shot caught Private Kelly in the leg. Mal lunged towards the man, firing. His bullet caught purple belly in the shoulder spinning him. His next shot landed center of the back and he dropped. Mal looked to the smoldering hover craft.“Check Kelly” Mal said to Jennings, as he walked to the downed skiff.

He approached cautiously but there was no need. One of the grenades had landed in the open hatch, gutting the skiff. The men topside were either taken by his men in the trees, or the grenades that landed outside. Mal waved an arm to the tree line and the rest of the unit broke cover, carrying Morgan.

Mal switched the comm channel. “Halo two six this is Delta one seven. We are at the EV and popping smoke.”

“Roger Delta one seven we are inbound your location. ETA three minutes.”

“See ya soon. Delta one seven out”

Mal moved to Morgan’s side, he was awake and smiling. “You ok Sarge?”

“Keep this sorta stuff up and they’ll make you an officer.” Morgan replied.

“You let em do that and I’ll regret dragging your ass out of here today” Mal grinned.

-------------------------------------------- April 2507 The newly liberated town of Point Comfort, Jiangyin

Mal and Morgan walked through the streets of Port Comfort. The festive feeling was hard to resist and they had giving up trying several beers ago. The towns people had opened their arms and bars to the Browncoats.

“Quite a party” Mal said over the crowd. “Sure is” Morgan’s eye caught a shop as they passed by. “Hey, this way.” Grabbing Mal and leading him through the throng of people.

They entered the little clothing shop. “What, you need some new drawers or something?” Mal joked.

Morgan rolled his eyes. “Gimmie that jacket.” He said pointing at Mal.

“My jacket why?” Mal said defensively.

“You need something a bit more fitting a Browncoat soldier.”

Mal grabbed the bottom of the jacket and held it up. “It’s brown.”

“True, but I’m not rightly sure it started out that color.” Morgan moved to the store window and took the long brown coat off the mannequin and tossed it to Mal. Mal eyed the coat close. It was a fine one to be sure he thought. He shrugged off the old jacket and swung the new coat on. He strolled to the full length mirror and admired the fit. Mal turned to see Morgan heading out the door.

“Pay the man already. I’ll be in the bar ‘cross the street.” ---- Mal stepped up to the bar and scanned the room for Morgan. He couldn’t resist the urge and brushed his long coat back and hitch it behind his pistol. The bartender approached “What’ll it be?”


Mal took the cold mug and leaned back against the bar. He searched the faces in the room. Most of the crowd was soldiers, with a few locals mixed in patting backs and shaking hands. Still he didn’t see Morgan.

The back door to the bar flung open. Morgan stood in the door way franticly waving to Mal. Mal tossed a coin on the bar and ran to the door.

“What it is Sarge?”

“I saw him Mal. Dressed in civvies, but it was him.”

“Saw who?”

“That purple bellied son of a bitch from Hera” Morgan said “The officer Mal, the one that killed my platoon.”

To be continued…


Friday, December 7, 2007 10:55 AM


Very good. I liked the way Mal wouldn't quit but took out the purplebellies and their skiff instead, as well as making sure Morgan made it out with them. *That's* why people follow him. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 7, 2007 2:39 PM


So, now we see where Mal got his duster. I'm enjoying every minute of this! Great job!


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An Alliance attack forces Mal to step up and take charge.

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