War Stories: Awaiting Orders
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This is the fourth of a series about the Unification War. (As if it needed to be said) Pre-series. Our Big Damn Heroes impatiently await orders. Gossip and games, confusion ensues. Cameos by some of our missing cast members.


Finally, I am getting this up. I know it's been a week or two, but I've been really busy. I'm at Starbucks right now as it is. :)

The usual disclaimers, Jossy, Mutant Enemy, you know that the site has these at the bottom of every page, right?


"Are you alive?" Dodd asked, and his voice sounded as bored as Zoe felt.

"No." she replied, bouncing a ball off the wall and deftly catching it again. She was sitting on the arm of the couch in the commons, and Dodd was sitting on the actual couch next to her. The other end of the couch was currently occupied by one of seven poker players. Only the occasional whoop for joy when one of the players realized they'd just won the pot broke the living dead atmosphere of the base.

It'd been like this for almost a week now. At first, everyone had been giddy and excited and ready for a fight, but after about three days of waiting for the orders that seemed to the soldiers would never come, the energy had died down; a stupor came over them all.

"Were you alive on Earth-that-was?" Dodd continued.

"Yes. Only five left." Zoe answered.

Dodd took a deep breath and began recounting the facts that he'd already discovered, "So, you're a man, you're Sino in origin, you killed a buncha people on Earth-that-was, and you're a military official... Hmm..." Dodd said as he thought it over. "You write anything?" he asked, tapping his chin, as he so often did.

"Mmhmm." Zoe said, "Four."

"You a poet?" Zoe could hear the sudden stroke of inspiration that lit his voice and knew he would win this round. He was a good kid-for she thought of him as an exuberant puppy, even if he was only a year younger than her-and she often wondered why he'd chosen a military career. He could've been one of them lofty intellectuals, but instead he preferred saying "ain't" and blowing shit up. Certainly made him a more interesting person to have around, at least.

"Yep." she said, throwing the ball again.

"A Sino warrior-poet that's dead and killed a buncha people on Earth-that-was?" Dodd asked with a grin, and it amazed Zoe that he still had the spirit or energy to grin like that right now, "Well, you gotsta be Shan Yu."

"You win again, and with three questions left. Impressive." she said, and he beamed, which actually made Zoe give a little chuckle.

"My turn, then?" She nodded and he scrunched his face up in concentration, then said, "Okay, go."

"You a man?"


"I swear, if the troops don't ship out soon, my legs are going to fall off from over-occupation." Nandi said, sighing as she stared out the window of her chambers where she and Inara were relaxing-hiding.

"I don't think I've ever heard it put quite that way," Inara said, giving the tiniest of laughs, "But I know exactly what you mean. I think I liked it when business wasn't so... booming." she said, closing her eyes and slowly stretching her legs out on the couch.

"I couldn't agree more." Nandi said. "I'm about ready to lead them into battle myself." She smiled that crooked smile of hers, the one Inara thought was so adorable.

The younger woman smiled in return, "You'd probably do a better job than the zombies that are running the military right now. I saw General Evvyon going into the priestess' chambers a few days ago, and I could have sworn that little puffs of dust came out of his mouth every time he exhaled." she giggled. Nandi was the only person who could bring out this side of Inara.

"Oh, I know." Nandi agreed, "And I keep waiting for General Talmond's jaw to fall off. Have you seen the way it hangs open all the time? I'd hate to be sitting beneath him for any reason, for fear that there would be unexpected showers." When it was just the two of them, they could gossip like the rest of them.

"I've never been more appreciative of guild law." Inara said.

"Agreed. It might be beneficial to the house for us to accomodate them, but the priestess looks after that well enough. At least we can choose not to."

"When she's not pressuring us to, anyway. How do you refuse the house priestess that's raised you for the past eight years?" Inara sighed. Nandi's ears were the only ones that had ever heard a complaint come from her lips.

"I thought that's what we were doing here. Avoiding her." she laughed. Inara couldn't help but laugh back.


"All of these flight jokes get me to thinking about my first lesson in aircraft evacuation. We had the most amazing instructor! During class he would always take the time to answer any of our stupid first-timer questions." Wash was saying, his face alive with animation. The ghost of the chuckles from the previous joke could still be seen on the faces of his audience-other pilots that would have been bored out of their mind waiting for orders if Wash hadn't been around to liven things up.

Wash smiled as he continued, "One of my classmates asked, 'If our chute doesn't open, and the reserve doesn't open, how long do we have until we hit the ground?' Our instructor looked at him and replied, perfectly deadpan," Wash paused for dramatic effect, "'The rest of your lives.'" He imitated the face of his instructor as he said this. It was a true story, even if he was telling it as a joke.

The other pilots burst out laughing. "Nice one, Wash." came one voice.

"When this is all over, you should look at a career in stand-up comedy." another one said.

"Are you kidding? This guy was born to soar. All leaflike, y'know? On the wind." This voice belonged to a man named Boris Velkan, and he and Wash had sort of taken to each other. They were very much alike, though Velkan rarely showed it. He enjoyed the silence very much, and if it was anyone but his new best friend speaking, he'd probably tell them to shove off and shut up. For some reason that was known only to him, he was able to put up with Wash.

The other pilots looked at him, their faces a bit surprised that he'd actually spoken-and that it'd been something nice. Wash just beamed. "What he said. I may be a comic by choice, but I'm a pilot by birth. God messed up, see," he said, "He meant to make me a bird, but got distracted at the last second."


Bang! Bang, bang, bang! Fourteen year old Kaywinnet Lee Frye looked out her window from the loft above the mech shop to see what all the shooting was for.

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang! She heard the volleying shots at the same time she saw a man dive out of the bar across the street, still smoking gun in hand. Her eyes flicked back to the door to the bar, then back to the man. It wasn't uncommon for random gunfights in the bars around here-and sometimes even the streets. Which is where this gunfight had spread.

She watched as the man stood up and darted behind a large metal refuse bin. He was firing again before she had even realized that a bouncer and a portly fellow had followed him out of the establishment. Kaylee opened her window to hear what was going on better.

"-toldja I wanted ter be left alone!" the first man was shouting. He had a nice voice. Kaylee leaned out to see a little better. He was quite handsome too. Quite possibly the most handsome man she'd ever seen, and quite as possibly would visit her in her dreams in the future. Kaylee was sure that she could never forget this man. Her head snapped back up as the portly fellow started speaking in a wheezy, squeaky voice.

"I only wanted a moment of your time, there was no reason to shoot at me!"

"An' like I said, I ain't interested in fightin' in no gorrammed war! Shoulda pissed off when I toldja to and this coulda all been avoided!" Kaylee was captivated by his growly, almost grunty and guttural voice.

"Who cares?" The bouncer finally spoke, "Just stay the hell out of here!"

"I was leavin' anyway!" Sexy Man shouted back, and Kaylee's heart fell. The bouncer spat and the portly fellow wiped at his face, before both of them went back into the bar. Kaylee watched as Sexy Man stomped off towards the docks until she couldn't see him anymore, then withdrew back into her room, closing the window. Couldn't say she blamed Sexy Man for not wanting to mess up that stunning physique of his by going to war. And what did the portly fellow expect, recruiting people in a bar? Seriously.


"They look so different from here." Mac's voice broke the silence. It was low and melodious, and Mal thought that he could have drifted off to sleep to its rhythm. He'd actually done it before. His drowsy eyes opened to watch Mac raise her hand up in front of her face and block out some of the stars, as if comparing how they traced the delicate contours of her hand here to how they did back home.

Mal gave a soft chuckle, stroking her hair with his free hand as he turned his gaze to the sky as well. His other arm propped up his head. Mac's head was resting on his stomach. It was just like it used to be, back home, on Shadow. Well, except that the stars were different and Monty was sitting a few feet away playing a banjo he'd found in a storage closet inside.

The point was, they'd snuck out to look at the stars and enjoy the evening. They were violating curfew by being outside right now, but Mal didn't think they'd get more than a slap on the wrist if they were caught. The higher ups were just as apathetic and bored as they had been for the past few days while they waited for orders.

"What'd you expect?" Mal asked softly, "That the black looked the same everywhere?"

Mac sighed, dropping her hand, "No. I s'pose not." she replied. For a few moments, the only sound came from Monty's gentle ministrations on the banjo. "Reminds me of home." She finally said, "'Cept for the different stars, o'course."

Mal gave another soft chuckle, and let his near arm rest gently around her. "Not gettin' homesick already, are ya?"

"No." came her reply, and it was so small and soft and impactful that it surprised Mal. There was silence again.

"What's goin' on in that pretty little head o'yours?" Mal asked, rubbing her arm.

It almost seemed as if she wouldn't reply, but then she said with a sigh, "Nothin' you'd be int'rested in." Without warning, she sat up, pushing his arm off of her. Monty stopped playing and looked up at her sudden movement.

"S'matter?" the sasquatch asked.

"Nothing. I jus' think we oughtta be gettin' to our bunks 'fore we're missed is all." she said. Monty shrugged, but got up. Mal followed suit, looking more than a bit confused. "G'night boys." she said, before either of them could say anything else, turning on her heel and disappearing into the building in three seconds flat.

"What was that all about?" Mal asked, shaking his head at Monty.

Monty merely chuckled, "That?" he said, stroking his mustache as he pondered how best to answer the question, "That was an act of desperation. Mayhaps she thinks a slap in the face will open your eyes."

"Open my eyes to what?" Mal asked, completely missing the point.

"Oh, I'm sure you'll find out soon enough." Monty said, chuckling again, heading inside himself. As he too disappeared into the building, he was shaking his head and Mal thought he heard him say, "Young people." If Mal had been able to see his face, he'd probably see him roll his eyes as he said it.


"Report?" the operative asked.

"Success. With our new program, we've been able to locate several possible assets. I'm sure we'd have more if it weren't for this damn-" The man quickly changed his wording, it wouldn't do to show any disgruntlement towards the Alliance in front of an operative, "If it weren't for the war, we'd have more information."

If he weren't an operative, the black man might have smiled at the other man's slip up. "Names?" he asked.

"Names? Right," the man looked at the view screen in front of him, "Ken Cho, Lily Kwan, Derrial Stevens, Jubal Early, River Tam-"

The operative cut him off, as he had been watching the files go by over the man's shoulder, "Pull up the file for Ken Cho. We'll begin in the most logical of places. The beginning." He said in that gentle, almost comforting voice of his. The man knew better than to fall under the spell of that voice. He knew very well what the other man was capable of. The operative had a very deceptive appearance and demeanor. His already graying hair and gentle voice made him seem like a kindly old man. Maybe even a grandfather. The man repressed a shudder as he tried not to think about how many people had made the mistake of thinking the operative as a kindly older gentleman. Whatever the number, it had surely been their last mistake.



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Chinese Phrases
I always have difficulty finding the Chinese phrase I'm looking for, so I've compiled a list. I thought it might be helpful to everyone else too, so I wanted to share it :) I'll update it every time I find a new phrase, feel free to add your own in the comments.

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