BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

BRUCEPLUTO

Polished Memories 2.0 - The Mission
Sunday, November 20, 2011

Howdy Coats!! Been a while since I’ve been able to jot something down, but here goes. …Continuation of the “ Polished Memories” series, and more of what Mal remembers about the battle of Serenity Valley. We can see that the pain, and suffering, and casualties of war are chipping away at the Captain’s beliefs. Is Mal losing his soul? Only the Shepherd would know the soldier at this point, and maybe his Corporal, Zoe. Read on for clarification….


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1464    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Polished Memories 2.0 ******************** The Mission ********************* A question: There’s a thing, a machine, an actual piece of working equipment, how often can it break down and how many parts can go un-repaired before it stops working? Now there’s a human, a person…..how much of their soul can be lost before they forfeit any peace that can be found by them in heaven?

Shepherd’s Chronicles : 2519 _____________________________________________________________________________

People & Places:

Tantalean Gully Breakpoint Pass Lieutenant Ben Baker Corporal Alleyne (Zoe) Private Bendis

Code words & phrases:

“Screamers” or, “Hamsters Balls” as they are sometimes referred to --- are inflatable rubber spheres the size of beach balls, with a small motor unit inside that moves them around. There is a heat transmitter inside that simulates body heat, and the reasons they are know as Screamers or Hamster Balls are for the facts that they attract the attention of the heat seeking satellites in atmo the Alliance uses over certain battlefields. Also, their movement mimics the movement of a hamster moving around a room inside a clear plastic globe, so the term “Hamster Balls” was coined by a browncoat soldier. These are used to trick and confuse the enemy. Much like the dummy parachutists dropped over the French countryside during the ETW- WW2 era.

Quail Party --- Diversionary maneuver, used to focus the enemies attention in the wrong direction.

AIR-15 --- described below… ________________________________________________________________________________

Malcolm Reynolds looked out into the evening of a beautiful Hera sky. Even with all it’s pain and misery, this valley could be a majestic wonder once the noise stopped. It was silent now, but the browncoat line was expecting a counter attack at any moment, a revenge attack, a response to the Brownghost attack in Batean Gorge. The browncoat line was thin, but they were expected to hold. They waited, a bit on edge, but certainly ready. Luckily the attack never came.

Early the next morning Malcolm Reynolds heard the scuttlebutt that there were talks going on between the Independence army and the Alliance forces. A treaty was being discussed, a ceasefire may be underway. Hope was, that the Alliance had come to their senses, and maybe the rim and border planets would be allowed to conduct their business more as they saw fit?

That was but a pipedream. By noon, the talks had broken down and it was back to war, back to filling the trenches and ravines with blood.

Lieutenant Baker had instructed his sergeants to be ready for an attack within the next hour. No faulty Intel this time. A purplebelly force was massing in Batean Gorge, target area, right through Malcolm Reynolds’ unit.

“…..But we have a surprise waiting for them Sergeant. Your troops may not have to fire a shot,” the Lieutenant told his Sergeant. Baker looked calm and confident. Malcolm hoped he was right.

At 14:30 hours there came a loud roaring sound. Two Independent, fixed wing “Cluster Busters” came racing through the ravine across from Malcolm’s position, their engines screaming, as they headed through the gully then exited towards Breakpoint Pass. They hadn’t been idle with their fly-by. During that time each had dropped a cluster of about thirty grapefruit sized black spheres. These were radiant bombs and were racked under each FF9-80Z. They were antipersonnel weapons that were triggered by the radiant heat of an approaching object, ie.., an Alliance soldier.

The Independent forces had, at one time, a secondary option for triggering these bombs. They could be detonated by remote control, but the purplebellies had learned the code and would explode them before they could be used effectively, so the Freedom Fighters had removed the signal. Now the battlefield was laden with thousands of unexploded ordinance. It would be some time before Serenity Valley would actually resemble anything like it’s namesake…..due to the mines each side had placed on the battlefield.

Lieutenant Baker soon made an appearance after the bombs had been dropped.

“ Be ready troops, there are about two hundred purplebellies massing around the curve in that gully. Pass the word, Sergeant Reynolds, for your people to stay focused!”

“ Done sir,” Mal spoke as he waved for Private Bendis and Corporal Alleyne to do as requested. The Lieutenant then made his way down the line. Mal had about fifty personnel under his command. Two platoons folded into one, with a couple of stragglers here and there. Still they were an effective fighting force and he expected them to make an account of themselves. He passed along the line for his soldiers to switch “Safeties Off“.

Now was the beginning of those uneasy feelings. Each soldier got them, and each had to deal with them in their own way. Mal had his own way with dealing with this. He concentrated on his leadership skills. This took his mind off of his nervous jitters. He tried to make sure every one of his troops were ready and equipped. He’d also made sure that the field medics were in position to attend the wounded.

The Independent medical corp. was somewhat of a joke as compared the Unification teams, but what was one to do? The browncoat army had to make do with what it had. Many of the Independent medical personnel weren’t much more than veterinarians. Animal doctors set out on the rim to attend to the livestock. Still, he couldn’t fault them, they did what they could.

He again busied himself for the upcoming attack. His soldiers were nervous, but they knew what to do. He kept Bendis close, as communications operator and Corporal Alleyne near enough to shout orders to.

As time crept by the entrenched browncoats listened for the approaching Unification force. They didn’t have to listen hard. As soundless as they tried to be, the Alliance force could not remain stealthy. Once the purplebellies were in sight there were some eager fingers stretched across triggers, ready to squeeze at the first provocation, but the order had been given to stand down until the enemy was within range.

All of a sudden the area around the attackers went red, not only from blood, but from the prominent dirt of Serenity Valley being blown into the air. The purplebellies had found the radiant bombs, or rather the bombs had found them. There were explosions every couple of seconds. Sometimes the browncoat line could hear two or three blasts going off at the same instant, and it was horrid thinking what was going on down that ravine.

Even though these were the enemy, it still was unthinkable, the carnage going on. Screams weren’t colored brown or purple.

There were blasts of random gunfire from the invading force as some of the Alliance soldiers in their confusion pulled the triggers on their weapons. But these were shots aimed at no target in particular. Some of the browncoats responded to that fire, not that they needed to, the bombs were doing well enough on their own. but you can’t keep soldiers from firing when their nerves have been tightened into coiled springs. Malcolm let his troops release that tension.

After a while the gunfire and the explosions of the radiant bombs subsided, and the Alliance made a retreat without causing a single casualty to the Independence side. Mal received a pat on the shoulder from Lieutenant Baker and kudos from High Command back at HQ. Elevated praise indeed for a warrior who’d really done nothing to earn it. Still, Mal accepted the honor. No telling when another would come his way.

That evening Lieutenant Baker approached him.

“Sergeant Reynolds…….Mal, we need a recon patrol, and the fewer personnel, the better. I’ve picked you and Sergeant Radcliff from 4th platoon. The Major wants two experienced soldiers for this duty. At 23:00 hours you are to make your way with the Sergeant and infiltrate Batean Gorge, but actually, that is not your target. Beyond the slopes on the south side of the gorge, we think you’ll be able to locate the munitions depot the brownghost squad was looking to destroy two days ago. Find it, plot it on the grid map, and return with the Intel ,qu keyi (*quick as possible) understood?”

Mal registered that he did.

“You know Sergeant Radcliff ?”

“Yes sir, I went through “Boot” with “Joss” , I mean Sergeant Radcliff back at Fort Pleasant. The Sergeant is an excellent fighter and I’m pleased to have ‘em with me.” Mal spoke.

The Lieutenant was satisfied by his answer.

“ Sir, by chance…..?” Mal continued…

“Yes Sergeant, you can scout for Lieutenant Gardner’s bod……,” the officer hesitated a second, “…..well, you can search for him, and the others of the missing team of the ghost squad. But don’t delay…..we need you back here pronto!”

Lieutenant Baker looked at Corporal Alleyne and Private Bendis standing next to Mal.

“Your in command Corporal, until the Sergeant returns,” he said. He again looked at Mal, “ I needn’t tell you that this mission is *AIR-15?” (code for *no assistants to be given)

“No sir, understood.” Mal replied. The Lieutenant turned and headed back towards HQ. Malcolm looked over at his second. They did not speak. They didn’t have to. Each knew what the other was thinking. Then Malcolm Reynolds headed off to find his mission partner from 4th platoon. Corporal Alleyne and Private Bendis watched as he faded into the darkness. Bendis looked over at Zoe.

“ What is AIR-15 Corporal Alleyne?”

Zoe viewed the Private.

“ Well for code talk, it has several meanings,………Don’t get caught, don’t talk if you do, you’re on your own, and God help you, all in one.”

************ Josilene Radcliff, or “Joss” as every commander caller her, was an excellent Sergeant in the 57th regiment. Mal remembered her from their time spent together cleaning up the latrine at Fort Pleasant. A pretty girl, and small in stature, yet she was as rugged as a Deadwood badger, and tough as a St. Aldans night is cold. She was well qualified to accompany Mal on this patrol. Fact was, she could lead it herself had she not been outranked by 1st Sergeant Reynolds by the tiniest fraction.

Lieutenant Baker approach them both for one final briefing.

“Your mission is to collect Intel. You are not to engage the enemy unless fired upon and you aren‘t to be sidetracked from your mission unless you come across a browncoat friendly. A “LIVE” one,” the Lieutenant emphasized the word “LIVE” as he looked at Mal.

“Now, things have been pretty quiet all evening so we think they aren’t expecting anything,” he paused a moment, “just the same, we will be devising a “Quail Party”(*diversion) using fifty *“Screamers” as decoys down marked ravines in order to give you cover and confuse enemy tracking devices (ie… satellite heat trackers)

Mal and Joss nodded that they understood the orders.

“Good luck and good recon,” Lieutenant Baker spoke his final words. Mal and Joss headed out into the night.

*********** It was extremely dark, which worked out well for the two Sergeants. Cover that they could use, cover that they thanked God for. They were able to take the same path that Lieutenant Gardner had taken some time earlier. They crossed paths with no living thing. They arrived at the Alliance “dummy” control base, and paused before continuing further. It seemed to be deserted. There were a couple of canopy lights stationed high above, here and there, to keep the area lit, but there was no sign of Alliance presents. Mal knew that there would be surveillance equipment set up, to keep an eye on the area. These could be avoided without much trouble by sticking to the shadows.

Radcliff followed him to a steep bank of a hill on the southwest side of the gorge. They flattened themselves against a large rock and stayed within it’s dark cover until they were ready to make their next move. Mal motioned to his partner that he could see a slope in a hillside that they could use to make they way to a vantage point. She agreed.

They hugged the ground and traveled almost with a shuffling crawl to the spot they wanted. Mal got out his field binocs and surveyed the ground ahead.

Yepper, it was an Alliance camp. Pretty much decked out with every piece of equipment the Unified military could muster. It would make an excellent target for the Independent Air force.

“Our Angels could pretty much have a field day with the targets in this valley,” Mal told his partner. They plotted the location on the grid map. There was plenty of activity going on in the camp, but it didn’t seem as if they were preparing for anything. Just settling in for the night, which the Alliance forces hoped would be a quiet one.

Mal and Joss crawled backwards to the bottom of the hill. Time to make their exit. The mission had been a success so far, in another forty minutes they could call this one complete. Eventually, when they made it back to Independence lines, they were to pop green smoke. That was the signal that friendlies were approaching. No sense getting shot by your own folk.

Mal and Josilene wormed their way through a maze of obstacles upon their regression, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. They seemed to be making fair progress towards their own lines, but you can never let your guard down. That could get you killed.

Things did seem a bit brighter around Batean Gorge. Maybe the Unified forces “alert status” had been elevated to a higher level because of the Screamers, Mal deduced. He would be right. The Alliance forces, down in the small valley has been notified by “Air Patrol” that there was activity around the perimeter of their encampment. Of course it was their duty to investigate.

Mal and Joss now had to navigate through a maze of brighter lit staging points. Areas where the Allied forces had been tipped-off of nocturnal activity. This meant that the way back would take longer. It didn’t matter, it wasn’t as if Mal had a dinner party to attend. Thing is, he felt his partner was getting anxious.

The 1st Sergeant was right. Josilene Radcliff was becoming a bit on edge. Not because she wasn’t an excellent soldier, nor because she wasn’t accountable in a aggressive fight. This was different though. She wasn’t being attacked, and she wasn’t in command. Her nerves were a bit jittery and she just wanted to get back to familiar territory.

Mal sensed this, and was becoming a little apprehensive himself. The sooner they got back the better.

Guess you could say that things went well until they were about three hundred yards from their goal. There came a popping sound and immediately afterwards the streaming sparks of flares lit up the entire ravine as if it were high noon in Dodge City.

“ Great!” Mal whispered, “ guess shooting at us in the dark was against the rules…..” he spoke as though popping flares was an unfair advantage the Alliance wasn’t supposed to use.

WRONG! All’s fair in love & war, as the saying goes. The Unification forces would use whatever advantages they had.

Anyway, by their way of thinking, it had been the brownoats that had spoiled the “Serenity” of the evening (pun intended). After peace talks just that very day, why was the independence army pushing events? The purplebellies were more than a little angered by this. Still, it wasn’t as if a recon patrol couldn’t be forgiven, if no one on their side was killed.

“Just let us get back, I promise I’ll not disturb you again!” Mal thought about the enemy occupying their gun positions.

Well……the Alliance had no way of knowing what Mal was thinking, nor would they have cared. They had no idea what the browncoats were doing, for that matter. Better to be safe than sorry. MG fire soon broke the silence of the dark night into a thousand pieces, and there were mortar blasts which awakened the sky. Had they been spotted?

If there hadn’t been a war ongoing, Mal and Joss woulda thought that they had started one. He was sure by now that everyone on both sides were on pins and needles. He picked up his pace and decided to be less cautious than before. Of course, Josilene being the slower of the two, with shorter legs, Mal began to outdistance his recon buddy. But he wouldn’t leave her. If they made it back, they would make it back together.

All of a sudden there was a loud explosion behind them……..

********************** ########## BAM ########### *************************

A mortar round had detonated just to the rear where the two Sergeants had been.

********************** ############ BOOM ########### *************************

Another had exploded just to their right. Mal could hear blasts going off in the distance as well, so he wasn’t sure if the fire was being focused on them, or if the Alliance was just peppering a blanket response? It didn’t matter though, that last one was too close for his liking anyway. They’d better make hast if they were to gain the browncoat compound before being blasted to shreds…..

Mal turned his head to look back at his partner….

********************** ############# BOOM ########### *************************

Just then another shell went off behind the two scouts and Joss let out a cry that told Mal she was hit. She crumpled to the ground in a fit of pain.

“bangzhù wo zhu (*help me Lord),” she spoke. But she was also cussing herself for not being fasted. Mal reached her side in two seconds.

“ Joss, how bad!!?”

“I don’t know Mal, I can feel something in my legs, and in my back! Go on! I’ll catch up to you later!”

Mal had been examining her wounds, blood stained the back of her pants, and there was a small trace on her back. He pause to look at her face. She knew better than that. A coat didn’t leave another coat out for the purple buzzards! That was unheard of!

What was the old saying? “ When you can’t run you crawl, and when you can’t crawl you find someone to carry you!”

Mal had no intention of leaving her. He was a strong man. He hefted the Sergeant onto his shoulder and resumed his flight. Only this time, with a bit of a slight burden upon his shoulder.

There were one hundred and twenty yards to go before reaching the browncoat lines! Mal ran as fast as he could. Now one hundred! Now seventy!

At fifty yards The 1st Sergeant heard a MG60 blast from a Unified position that was closer than he was aware of. Mal felt a sharp pain in his lower, right side. The force of the bullet tore a hole there and caused him to tumble forward. He spilled flat upon his chest and Joss came falling from his arms as she hit the ground before him.

“Joss you alright!!?” Mal asked as he recovered.

The soldier laying face up opened her eyes and looked at the Sergeant.

“ I might have done a better job running myself!” She said, then smiled.

Mal picked her up again, and flung her across his shoulder. The pain in his side was intense, but they were almost home!

He popped green smoke and at twenty yards Zoe and Bendis came from their fortified bunker and helped bring them in. Mal lay down exhausted, and in the matter of a minute, was out cold.

*********** Malcolm Reynolds awoke in the confines of a Browncoat medical tent. There was a deep pain in his right side and he looked down to see what had happened. There were blood stained bandages covering what looked to be a pretty severe wound. He could see a medic standing a few feet away, but his back was to the Sergeant and he seemed to be busy with another casualty.

Mal was obviously back at the Independent MASH unit. He had questions about his injuries, about Sergeant Radcliff, and about what had happened? In a moment Zoe and Bendis arrived.

“How we feeling sir,” his Corporal queried?

“You asking me to dance?” Mal smiled, Zoe was silent but smiled back.

“ You’re too pretty to die Sarg!” Bendis put his two coppers(cents) in with a grin.

“ Ok you two, the Sergeant needs some rest,” It was Lieutenant Baker come to his side.

Bendis and Zoe exited after wishing their leader a speedy recovery.

“ How you feeling Sergeant?” he paused, “We need you healed, and back on the line,” on the surface it seemed like a cold statement. Wanting a soldier to recover from his injuries so that he could rejoin the fight. But in truth, Mal knew that the Lieutenant knew with him in command, more lives could be saved. Not that Corporal Zoe wasn’t an excellent soldier, she was the best Corporal the 57th had, only Mal’s troops had gotten used to his leadership.

“ Lieutenant? Sergeant Radcliff?” Mal asked. The Lieutenant’s expression changed in a split to one of sadness.

“Sorry Mal, she didn’t make it,”

The future Captain of Serenity was stunned. He’d been struggling with his religious beliefs for a time now. Something that his mother would duly frown upon. Still where was God when the bullets were flying?

“The doc said that you where carrying a dead Overlander for the last hundred yards.”

Mal looked at his commanding officer.

“That’s quánbù crazy! I spoke with her not sixty feet from our trenches!

The Lieutenant stepped aside just as the medic that Mal witnessed earlier was finishing up with his patient. The surgeon turned towards the browncoat soldier.

“ Doc Holcomb, this is Sergeant Reynolds,” Lieutenant Baker introduced the two. The doctor was in the process of removing his BLUE………….blood stained, surgical gloves.

“How are we doing today Sergeant? My advise is that you stay off the line of several days,” and he added looking at Lieutenant Baker, “….. maybe not return at all.”

“ I’m not feeling worth a lashi (*crap) sir!” Mal said, extremely depressed over the news of Sergeant Radcliff, “…….. and if I want advise, I’ll talk to a REAL doctor, not some horse surgeon!” Mal’s anger came out in his words.

The medics eyes widened at the soldier’s words as he began to disrobe out of his surgical scrubs. Mal notice a bright purple uniform underneath. With plenty of fruit salad on the chest (medals).

“ I am a real doctor Sergeant,” his scrubs completely removed, there stood an officer in the Alliance medical corp.

“Marshal Delano Holcomb, bonified surgeon United Medical Corp, ST-1-11570” the doc paused a second,

“Sorry about the loss of your trooper Sergeant. I wasn’t on the medical team that treated that patient ,” he stopped to review Malcolm’s face. He could see signs of weariness, of battle fatigue as it was better known.

Lieutenant Baker stepped in to update his Sergeant.

“There’s been another ceasefire. The Alliance offered help with our casualty list. We took up their offer.”

Mal looked over at the Purplebelly doctor.

The man had almost a blank expression on his face. Maybe there was a half smile, there for the purpose of relaxing him, and wanting to explain to the soldier what had happened during the operating procedure. It seemed as if he were questing permission to continue.

Mal just focused his attention upward, at the bottom side of the tent top.

“You received a pretty nasty wound Sergeant….. damaged a pretty good portion of your External Abdominal Oblique, and part of your Sciatic Ner….,” the doctor stopped there. He could see that all his medical terminology meant nothing to a soldier of the field, “ well, lets just say that there was a nerve cluster that needed to be moved, which I performed, and leave it at that.”

END

COMMENTS

Monday, November 21, 2011 5:27 AM

EBFIDDLER


Nice bit of pre-series history, BPZ. I imagine there are a lot of stories one could tell, to fill out what happened in Serenity Valley.

I liked how you told about pre-battle jitters, that Mal wasn't free of them, but a regular human like everybody else: "Mal had his own way with dealing with this. He concentrated on his leadership skills. This took his mind off of his nervous jitters. He tried to make sure every one of his troops were ready and equipped. He’d also made sure that the field medics were in position to attend the wounded." I can see him dealing with his nerves in exactly that way.

Loved this line: "Screams weren’t colored brown or purple"--so true.

Liked this bit of battlefield humor: "If there hadn’t been a war ongoing, Mal and Joss woulda thought that they had started one."

Also, your story answers that question of, just why did Mal have that nerve cluster moved? Thanks for writing.

Monday, November 21, 2011 5:35 AM

EBFIDDLER


Forgot to say, I also liked the little detail you put in about how the medical personnel for the Browncoats included veterinarians...basically anyone with medical knowledge of any kind was better than nothing. I bet some of those veterinarians made pretty good field medics! But it's a telling little detail, just shows what a different place the Core world and Rim world folks are coming from.

Monday, November 21, 2011 8:11 AM

BYTEMITE


Oh, I loved the veterinarian thing. Very western! In fact, it reminds me of 3:10 to Yuma, in which Alan Tudyk plays a veterinarian turned doctor with his classic sense of humor. But I think Alan may need to start renegotiating the terms of his contracts.

Monday, November 21, 2011 2:21 PM

BRUCEPLUTO


Howdy ebfiddler!

Great to have your input on the story. You are totally right, there are many, many untold stories left to tell from the Joss verse. I’ll bet that Jayne Cobb could have 106 all on his own!

Yepper, brought in a whole bunch of familiar faces from the FF series. Bendis, Zoe, Lieutenant Baker, and introduced a couple new ones like, Josilene Radcliff & Doctor Marshal Delano Holcomb. The bit where Doc Holcomb removes his surgical gloves….I mean his BLUE surgical gloves may mean something, or maybe not. Might be an avenue worth exploring.

Also, doesn’t it seem ironic that an Alliance medical doctor was responsible for moving the nerve cluster that changed the history of the verse? Even helped it along?

Anyhoo, thanks for the posts and telling me what you liked with the fic. Brightened my day you did. Sorry for all the mistakes. Finished the last two pages rather quickly, just to get it up and posted….

See ya….we hold…BPZ

Monday, November 21, 2011 2:21 PM

BRUCEPLUTO


Hiya Bytemite!

Glad that you enjoyed the veterinarian link to the browncoats medical team. I didn’t want the story to come across as the Freedom-Fighters having the worse conditions for fighting “ In this whole crap hill verse.”,

I’m sure things were very unpleasant on the other side as well……….and me implying that every Browncoat medic was a horse doctor , well I know the fic readers on the site here knew that not EVERY independent doc was an animal doctor. Even if they were, didn’t mean they weren’t good at their duty.

“ ….it reminds me of 3:10 to Yuma,”

Yepper, saw it, and enjoyed seeing Alan in it! You are so very right, Alan does need to up his cut of the take. Not only the characters that they played on Firefly, but the actual actors themselves are some of the “most down to earth” folk I’ve seen in the entertainment industry. Their human appeal to the masses is very high.

See ya, fellow browncoat …..BPZ


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