Back Stories III, Chapter 24
Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mal returns to a few familiar places.


Back Stories Book 3 Chapter 24.

Disclaimer: It belongs to Joss and all those business people. I'm just playing.

Links: The Fish Job, Easy Tickets, BS Book I, BS Book II, BS Book III, Chapter 1. Timing, pairings, and canon blurbs are in my FFF blog.

Many thanks to desertgirl for the beta read. And many more thanks to the readers who have left reviews or sent me notes encouraging me to roll with those updates. I’m looking at you ebf! :)

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On some level, he was aware. His eyes took in patterns of color and brightness, his ears received words and sound, he tasted the air he breathed. But the signals passed through his conscious mind as if none of it could have anything to do with him, not the exotically beautiful black-haired woman pleading as she touched his face, not the purple uniformed soldiers pulling him away from her, not the sadly slouching couple who stood aside as he was led through a empty cargo bay to his ship’s airlock.

The cold white lights and neat straight corridors of the vessel he entered didn’t cause the slightest ripple on the placid surface of his mind. He didn’t attempt to measure the time that passed while he sat in a small room, a cell he might have called it, if he’d bothered forming words. He simply stared, eyes fixed to a blank white wall, and waited.

It was all the same to him when soldiers reappeared, pulled him to his feet, and led him through harshly lit corridors and out into a fine mist of rain under a gray sky. He entered a building with an atmosphere of quiet and cleanliness and an odor of medicines and antiseptic. He didn’t register these details as either pleasant or disturbing; he didn’t ponder them at all. Even when white-coated men removed his coat and his boots, then his pants and shirt, replacing his clothes with loose cotton pants and a matching top, his inner stillness was untouched. He stood up when his arm was pulled and followed where he was led.

But then he entered a round room, spotlessly empty except for a reclining chair in the exact center and a control board off to his left. For the first time in days, a flicker of activity stirred his thoughts. As he was guided toward the chair, a high pitched buzzing noise suddenly tore through the soft, protective cloud wrapped around his wounded mind.

“No,” he said softly, his long unused voice cracking. He tried to plant his feet and resist, but firm hands tightened their grip on his upper arms and dragged him forward.

“Not again,” he said.

He was pressed into the reclining chair. Padded straps were fastened over his arms and legs, and a band fixed around his head. He couldn’t move. He fought the straps, his self-imposed numbness now completely replaced by blind panic.

That sound. He didn’t know if he spoke aloud or only thought the words. That gorramned sound.

He felt a brief but sharp sting as a young female doctor put an IV in his arm, then she used a syringe to inject a carefully measured dose into the line.

“Don’t do this,” he told her. “You really shouldn’t do this.” His eyes must have been wild as he tried to turn his head to face her. “Trust me about that.”

If there was a reply, he couldn’t comprehend it, nor could he understand the soft sounds that rose from the control board: hushed words, the tapping of keys, a barely audible whir of fine machinery. And still, that buzzing, a sound from a dream he didn’t want to recall.

He had no choice. He felt a nightmare lurking just out of sight around a short bend, a giant, hulking thing waiting to pounce on him, crush his bones and devour what was left of him. With his numbness shattered, he couldn’t avoid it. Alone, unable to see anything but a blank ceiling fitted with a neat, symmetric pattern of lights, he was helpless to do anything but wait for the alarming sounds to blur, then fade, as the drug and the dream took him.

* * *

The sun is down and darkness complete when Malcolm rides into the stable yard at a full gallop. He pulls the mare up hard, dismounts, and begins to jog toward the ranch house, but he stops after a mere two steps. As much as he’s burning to act as soon as possible on the decision he’s made, he can’t leave the mare winded and sweaty in the cool night air. He goes back and removes the horse’s saddle and bridal, then halters her and leads her to the pasture. The walk gives him a chance to cool as well, which is for the best. If he comes in the house out of breath and talking like a senseless hot head, his mother will never hear him out.

The cold, distant sparkle of stars gives him pause, and makes him consider again what it is he means to do. He hasn’t been off his own continent before, much less off the planet. Not that the idea of travel frightens him, but he’s happy with the life he’s living. He’s grown up with every expectation of taking over the ranch someday, passing his years peacefully while raising a family of his own. But it’s beginning to seem that he’ll never have any of that, not if he doesn’t fight for it now.

These thoughts are filling his mind as he nears the side door that opens directly into the rambling house’s kitchen. He passes the yellow light of an open window and starts at the sharp slap of a hand against a hardwood table, followed by his mother’s voice raised in a way that he seldom hears.

“Damn that sweet-talking gŏu tuĭ zi! How dare he act like it’s some kind of gift he’s bestowing on us simpletons and fools!”

“It’s just a different way to go about things,” a man answers, his deep voice slow and patiently drawn out.

Malcolm steps up to the window, looking through the parted curtains. The senior ranch hand, a steady man who doesn’t seem to age so much as get tougher and thicker as the years go, sits at the table nursing a mug. Malcolm has never seen Reggie get roiled, not in the worst midsummer storm or the harshest spring freeze. The man’s calm seems to stir up more anger in Malcolm’s mother.

“Reginald Ashe, don’t you even start telling me you’re that stupid! I know you don’t believe the gōu shī they’re throwing at us! You can’t!”

Reggie is as placid as ever as he sorts through a pile of colorful leaflets spread over the kitchen table. When he replies, his voice is firm. “Stelara Reynolds, I been workin’ with my back and hands my whole life. Seems that havin’ a break from the toil ain’t the worst way to go. Might make things run smoother, and give us all a little free time for—”

“I don’t need free time, and neither do you!” she interrupts. She picks up a handful of flyers, but crushes them in her fist before Malcolm can make out any of the words printed on them. “Don’t you see? This is how they do it. First they get us to use their machines—and guess who we need to buy those machines from? Guess how many suppliers of this high tech fancy feed I can choose from?” She drops the crumbled papers in disgust. “One! That’s how many! And when Blue Sun starts telling me what to do, how to run my place like they know best about every damned thing, guess how much choice I’ll have?”

“You’re takin’ it a little too far,” Reggie mutters, but his words can’t stop her tirade.

“It’ll give me free time, huh? Free time for what? For buying their video screens and watching their brainless entertainment lā jí, sitting on my butt until my legs hardly work anymore. Before you know it, they’ll be tearing up my land, putting in shiny little shopping centers and big, plastic houses right on top of each other. My boy will watch his children grow up like they’re living on any planet in the Core. I can’t have that! I won’t have my grandchildren turning into stupid, mindless drones like most of this gorramn `verse. If that’s how I wanted my life and my children to be, I wouldn’t have come out here in the first place!”

Reggie holds out a hand, trying to calm her as if she was a jittery horse. “Now, easy there, Stel. You’re gettin’ a bit ahead of yourself. They ain’t trying to take over…”

“The hell they aren’t!”

Malcolm is shocked at what she does then. His normally placid and calm mother, while emitting a string of profanity vile enough to make even him blush, goes through each of those colored bits of paper, holding a few choice selections up for particular expressions of insult and disgust before she tears them to bits. Soon, a rainbow confetti covers the kitchen table and spills onto the tiles of the floor.

Reggie shakes his head and shrugs his surrender, then rises and heads for the door.

“You just wait and see!” she calls out after him. “You’ll see what they’ll do to our world if we let them in! It won’t be at all like what we have now, and then you’ll be sorry that you didn’t speak when you had the chance!”

“Goramnit woman, it don’t have to be a bad thing,” Reggie mumbles under his breath as he comes out the door, but he doesn’t say it nearly loud enough for Mrs. Reynolds to hear.

“Night, Reggie,” Malcolm says, just to let his presence be known. The old man’s probably on the edge of saying something that he wouldn’t want his boss’s son to hear.

“Oh, uh… `evening, Malcolm,” Reggie replies, then he steps closer and speaks quietly. “You best keep your distance. There ain’t no talkin’ to your Ma at the moment.”

Malcolm smiles and nods, but passes by and enters into the kitchen anyway. It may go against common sense to walk into this storm with the news he’s bringing, but it could be that his mother’s anger will aid him in his argument. He’s willing to roll the dice.

He finds her gathering up the bits of colored paper and scooping them into the stove. She glances over her shoulder when she hears Malcolm enter, but doesn’t say hello. She’s still full of anger; he can see it as a tightness in her shoulders and a rare bright burn in her eyes.

She finishes clearing the paper shreds, then stands watching the flames work. After a long moment, she shakes her head. “Even the paper they use isn’t natural,” she says. Malcolm can see what she means. The embers of the dinner fire are still glowing orange-red, and the scraps of colored paper lying over the coals should be going up in a warm yellow flash. But they stay whole, flames of blue and green licking along their edges as the fragments of printed words slowly char to black. Malcolm wonders what those sheets are made of, what kind of poison makes the paper fight its natural end.

He turns away from the struggling flames and looks at his mother. “You gonna tell me what’s goin’ on?” he asks.

“Speak properly, Malcolm.”

“Are you going to tell me what’s happening?” he says with exaggerated clarity.

“Have a seat,” she orders. She takes a minute to fetch a fresh log and sets it in the stove, taking care to cover up the slow smoldering of the false paper, then shuts the stove’s door and settles her back against the wooden counter. She folds her arms and gives Malcolm a long, hard look.

“Did you listen in on the meeting tonight?” she asks. “The one at town hall?”

Malcolm had sat down when she told him to, and now he reclines, stretches out his legs, crosses his arms, and returns her look defiantly. “No. I was havin’ a drink at the Tap.” It’s something for him to admit that freely, but he’s a man now, a man who’ll go to the pub when he chooses.

To his surprise, she just nods for him to continue.

“I heard a lot of talk,” he says. “A lot of arguments, really. Old Kelly was going on about the changes that are coming. He had family on Greenleaf when the Alliance moved in. He had a lot of not-nice things to say about how it went. ‘Course, some didn’t agree with him. Some said that such changes are inevitable, and should be welcomed as the natural course of things.”

She nods knowingly. “Things are changing all right. I’m one of those who doesn’t like it, but I can’t see that I can change a thing.” She takes in a deep breath. “I guess we might have to run our place a bit differently next season.”

“Is that what those flyers were about? The ones you tore up so eloquently?”

She glances at a few wayward scraps of paper still laying about, then looks at him sharply. “Has my son been eavesdropping?”

“No ma’am. I was just… ” He looks toward the open kitchen window and grins. “I was just admiring the very fine work you did on those curtains. From the outside, they look fresh and homey.”

He’s ready to be called out for his cheek, but she only smiles. It’s a sad, distant smile, one that he doesn’t understand until she speaks.

“Malcolm, you are so like your father sometimes.” He shifts uncomfortably. He’s never known his father, and they don’t talk about him much. Much? They don’t talk about that ghost ever.

She shakes the mood off. Her face turns serious and her voice firm.

“Those flyers were handed out at the meeting. You know that the Alliance is setting up an outpost on the far side of the world, and there’ll be new trade lines into the Core. Like some people have been saying for years, we’ll have a bigger market for our meat and goods.”

Malcolm nods and, by rote, finishes the tale that’s been recited over and over lately by a few of his least favorite acquaintances. “And that’s a good thing for us. Better prices, since there’s always someone in the wider verse looking to buy…”

She sighs and takes a seat across from him at the table. “That is what you hear, but there’s more to it. If we want to sell our goods in the Core, we have to follow the rules. We can only give our stock feed that’s approved by the government Livestock Safety some-such Committee. We have to use feeding machines that control how much each animal gets, and we have to keep them penned up so they don’t get exposed to diseases from all possible creatures that might be out there in the wild. We can’t choose when our animals go to slaughter. We get told by the Committee, so they can control how much meat is on the market.

“In the meantime, we won’t need all the hands any more, once things get automated. We can just hire a few tech experts to visit on occasion and keep the machinery going, and then you and I can sit inside and push buttons all day.”

Her jaw clenches at that idea, and Malcolm’s does too. It isn’t their way to put their feet up while machines do their work.

“Do we have to get into all that?” he asks. “Can’t we just say no thanks and continue our own way?”

She leans forward, her elbows on the table and hands clasping each other. “Malcolm, I hate to admit this, but I’m afraid we won’t have much choice. Once there’s a trade line to the Core, goods will come in as well as out. Those who sign in on this agreement can buy Core technical gear, and they’ll get the biggest share and profit in the new trade. If we don’t sign on, we’ll lose our market, bit by bit. By the time I’m gone and you’re running this place, it’ll get tight. I bet you’ll have to sell off land just to get by, and I bet again that you’ll find someone eager to buy it. A clone of that smooth Blue Sun man from the meeting tonight will come knocking on your door with a big friendly smile, soothing words, and a tidy pile of money. Not too much, just enough to save you from going under. Just enough to set you up like all the other fools...”

She leans back and folds her arms, and a chilling hardness comes into her eyes.

“This life we’re living will be gone, Malcolm. It’ll be just like the Core. That’s how it goes: as soon as a world is worth living on, the Alliance shows up. Those who did the work are shoved aside and forgotten, and the things we built, all that is ours, is taken away.” She exhales sharply. “Well, technically, it’s seized in exchange for some officially approved reimbursement. That’s to soften the fact that saying ‘no’ is not an option.”

Hell no and NO and NO, Malcolm thinks as he clenches his fists—that’d be his answer. He can’t imagine letting some stranger just take away his land, the land his mother fought so hard to tame. He stands up and walks across the kitchen, pacing as he gathers his thoughts. It’s time to have his say, and now he’s even more sure of his choice than he was before. After a few turns he stops near the stove and raises his eyes. He’s startled to find that his mother is watching him closely, her mouth pulled into a tight line.

He takes a deep breath. “Ma, I’m gonna share some news about me, and I don’t want you fightin’ it.”

She lets his bad diction go, but only because a storm of a different kind is gathering on her face.

“A regiment of Independents landed a few days ago,” he continues, “They’re stayin’ on the southern continent, and I can just –” “You are not joining them,” she says, quietly but in that way she has, like the decision is made and there’ll be no debate.

Malcolm remains firm. “I’ve got every right to choose my own path, and this is what I’m doing.”

Her voice is tightly controlled. “I need you here.”

“You’ve got hands a’plenty. You don’t even need all we have.”

Her control slips; she slaps her hand against the table and raises her voice. “Shadow’s not part of the war!”

“It will be soon and you gorramned know it!”

Malcolm stops and puts his hand over his mouth, and his mother crosses her arms and waits. He takes a deep breath; he isn’t going to back down, but he has to go about this right. Logic is the only way to win over such a woman as his mother.

“I’m sorry, Ma. I didn’t mean to speak to you harsh. But I have to do this.” He looks her in the eye. “You said it yourself. It’s my future at stake here. Those people doing the talking at the town hall came here dressed up nice, talking pretty and handing out cookies, but they might as well be dropping bombs. They aim to take what we’ve got, to change it around so this world’s not ours anymore.”

She snorts out her impatience, her frustration. “You certainly have been talking to Old Man Kelly. Probably three deep in whiskey.”

“But is he wrong?”

Her mouth twists for a long moment, as if she wants to lie, but then she drops her head and closes her eyes. Her voice is suddenly soft. “No. I can’t say that he’s wrong.”

“We have to fight back. I have to fight back.”

She shakes her head, her eyes still tightly shut. “No. Not you.”

“Why not? If not me, who? ”

She puts a hand over her face and sits motionless for a long moment, drawing a handful of slow breaths. When she drops her hand, he’s relieved to see that her cheeks are dry, but when she speaks her voice is unsteady.

“You’re all I’ve got, Malcolm.”

He doesn’t know how to answer. Her words are completely untrue, but at the same time they hide a thin sliver of hard reality that he can’t argue against.

“I know,” she says suddenly. “Of course I know you have to go. I guess I just… I guess I hoped that you wouldn’t figure it out.”

It takes him a moment to realize that he’s won the argument. It’s a hollow victory, one that leaves him feeling empty and lost. He returns to the table, sits, and takes his mother’s hand. They stay like that for a long moment, waiting for the sting to die down.

“When?” she asks.

“They’re not staying long, so I hear. Not here to take recruits, just to rest up for a day or two. Kelly’s got his connections, said he’d get me in. As soon as he hears back, I can go to meet them.”

His mother gives his hand a squeeze, then lets go and rises to take a few turns of her own across the kitchen.

“You are like your father,” she finally says.

“That a bad thing?” he asks.

She gives him a measuring look, studying him as if she hasn’t really seen him in quite some time. “In all truth, I don’t know. He was a good man in his soul, but I could never change his mind either. All the arguing in the `verse just made him dig in his heels deeper. And he broke my heart, just as much as you’re breaking it now.”

She says it matter-of-fact, not like she’s trying to cut him with guilt, but Malcolm drops his eyes to the floor. He’s ashamed of his stubbornness, of the distress he’s bringing to a fine woman who’s been nothing but good to him. She doesn’t need the worry he’s causing her.

“I’m sorry, Ma.”

“Don’t you be sorry,” she replies sharply. “If you’re going out to defend your home, you’ll do it with a clear conscience. What you’ll be fighting for is right. It’s God’s way that each person has the right to choose their life, as long as it does no one harm. This Alliance has lost sight of the right path, and they need to be taught. Taking part of that kind of battle is something you don’t ever need to apologize about.

“The only thing you’ll need to be sorry for is if you don’t come back.” Her voice cracks at this. “I don’t plan on running this ranch forever, you know.”

And then Malcolm finds himself pulled to his feet and engulfed in a hug the likes of which he hasn’t had since he was a boy, a hug that wraps him tight and lasts for some time, and when it finally ends he has to pretend that he doesn’t see his Ma wiping her eyes. He has to turn away and pretend he isn’t wiping at his own.

“Well, let’s see to getting you outfitted,” she says. “No good putting it off. Brown, right?”

* * *

Malcolm opened his eyes to find himself in a bright, clean room.

It had an intangible feel of newness, perhaps from the glow of the pristinely white ceiling, or the crisp shine from the light fixtures. The decor was harmonious and calming; the walls were painted a tranquil soft honey color and featured muted watercolor seascapes. A large, green plant sat on a wooden table between two deep, soft chairs beside a wide window. Outside, nothing could be seen but the top of a gently swaying tree and a bank of gray clouds breaking up to reveal a freshly scrubbed blue sky.

Malcolm immediately disliked the place.

He laid still, eyes roving but body frozen, while he tried to figure out what was bothering him. It was more than the discomfort of waking up in a foreign bed (for this surely wasn’t any part of Shadow that he knew.) No, something particular about this room made him uneasy, maybe even a little afraid.

Certainly, after growing up in the clutter and wear of a ranch house, he was unaccustomed to such a contrived effort of interior design. His home had been worn into a kind of messy comfortable softness that a place like this couldn’t come close to capturing. This room, though pretty enough in its way, felt like a lie. Even the smell…

The odors emanating from a cattle ranch might not be the makings of fine perfume, but were much preferable to whatever concoction tickled his nose here: flowery but stinging, like air fresheners made strong to cover chemicals, perhaps antiseptics and cleaners.

Something clicked in his mind, and he realized exactly why he’d rather be elsewhere. Only one kind of place smelled like this: a hospital. It looked to be a nice hospital, one that spared no expense in disguising itself as a comfortable inn, but the prettiness of it didn’t set him at ease. Rather the opposite. This place couldn’t possibly be a facility run by the Independents, and didn’t seem likely to roll out a welcome for the likes of him. Anyhow, no matter what kind of hospital it was, a young man setting out to join a war definitely did not want to find himself laid up before he even saw his first battle.

Which begged the question: how had he ended up here? He didn’t even remember leaving his mother’s house, just going to pack…

And now he was here?

He tried to lift a hand, meaning to scratch his head in confusion, but his wrist wouldn’t budge. He raised his head to look down: his lower arms were bound to the frame of the bed. They were gently encased with padding, but bound all the same.

Something else caught his eye—on the back of his left forearm, near his elbow. A nearly invisible, pencil-thin streak of white cut across his skin. A scar. He remembered the wound, not for the pain of it as much as the inanity.

… a soldier in brown in front of him, pushing through thick foliage in the darkness. A barely noticed sting as the greenery lashed back, released too suddenly, and a sharp sting as a thin but strong branch bit deeply into his arm.

Odd, but he remembered that small moment with perfect clarity. He hadn’t been concerned with the shallow cut at the time, in fact he hadn’t thought of it for days, not until it ached with infection. He’d been a bit busy, given the distraction of stealing tanks from a hilltop and hurrying to join a battle, saving the asses of his superiors and earning himself a metal in the process…

Malcolm smiled to himself. Oh, how that had pissed Zoë off, to see him getting recognized for breaking the rules. She’d spared him none of her harsh words over the matter, but he’d seen more behind her sharp tongue than abuse. As much as she’d tried to hide it, he’d sensed the warm glow of Zoë Alleyne’s respect, shining on him in full for the first time.

He’d won something from Zoë that day, some higher level of regard that she didn’t hand out to just anybody. And he might have started a shift in the way she did things herself, because he made her see that following orders was not always the best way to go, not even in a war.

He glanced at the thin scar on his forearm again. His part of that war had lasted four long years, and such a small moment as a scramble up a wooded bluff in the dark had left a mark on him. Not the biggest mark. He knew he had others, greater and deeper, with far darker stories behind them.

But… four years?

The halfway pleasant memory he’d been walking through crumbled beneath a pile of tough questions. How was that possible, to have been through four years of war when he remembered, with unmistakable sharpness, those final moments in his mother’s kitchen? Only half a day ago it seemed. How had there been four years?

And… more years afterwards? Yes, he knew there’d been a longer time, possibly even a worse time that had followed the fighting. The whole string of events had somehow hidden themselves from him, the weight of his adult life removed from his shoulders, until now.

Zoë, a stranger. She mocks the uniform his mother had so carefully constructed, and before long sets him and his attitude straight with a few hard punches to the nose…

The perfect aim he’d prided himself on as a boy on Shadow means death for nameless Alliance soldiers creeping toward him in the dark. Nameless and faceless to him, but a relentless inner voice tells him that they must have been well known to families on distant worlds. No longer…

Corporal Alleyne needs his help. He finds her in a dark place, one so twisted and horrible that he can’t get her free without taking a piece of that horror with him…

He brings death to his own as easily as he kills the enemy. Not that he means to, but what he “means” no longer seems to matter. That’s what it is to be a leader. He goes on, making the hard choices because he believes that this war deserves nothing less…

Fire rains down. In that instant his mother’s words come back to him with a hollow ring that tears his soul: What you’ll be fighting for is right. It’s God’s way…

The dead rot on hillsides as days pass. No one is coming to help. No god is on anyone’s side and there is no such thing as “right.” There is only the torment of being defeated, of having other men’s heels on your throat, no hope for justice…

The words of his mother are meaningless. The kitchen he grew up in, with its charming curtains, large wooden table, and warm stove is gone. The fertile soil that once fed hundreds of head of cattle is reduced to nothing more than a thimbleful of dust. If he could go back to the cinders of Shadow and look close enough, he might find, amongst the ash, the last remainders of his mother’s bones…

There is no home to go back to. Accident or intentional atrocity, it doesn’t matter. The thing he’s fought to protect has been destroyed, burned down to the bare stony skeletons of the world. Even before he’d been crushed by his own defeat in Serenity Valley, his home had been lost…

The first time, Mal’d had several years to accept the change in his understanding of himself and the world he lived in. There’d been time between harsh discoveries and losing battles, weeks and months and even years for him to settle into the new reality of the post-war ‘verse.

He had no such luxury now.

* * *

Translations gou tuĭ zi: person who helps or flatters evil people (running dog) gōu shī: crap lā jí: garbage

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Sunday, April 1, 2012 2:21 PM


He's back.

But I don't think it's going to go pretty.

And I'm even more concerned about what they might have learned from him after putting him through the whole process. And what subconcious bits of manipulative conditioning they might have slipped in.

Sunday, April 1, 2012 2:21 PM


The flashback was a good one though.

Sunday, April 1, 2012 2:36 PM


He's back! And you're back, Mal4prez!
And now finally some Mal POV. This is very interesting, to see his POV on the mental fog he fell into a few chapters ago...and it's the return to that room (still on Oeneus?) that stimulates the first reaction he's shown in a while.
The backstory was excellent. Particularly liked: “You are like your father,” she finally says. “That a bad thing?” he asks.
You succeeded in making that comfortable, clean, bright room creepy right from the get-go. He's in a hospital, he's still restrained, and this is definitely *not* good...
Thank you, m4p, for this new chapter. Hoping you're on a roll, and that we'll see the next before long!

Sunday, April 1, 2012 6:22 PM


Cool hopefully we will be seeing more of your work again.

Monday, April 2, 2012 2:24 AM


Wow, absolutely brilliant! I love how you write and the creepy, scary reality Mal finds himself in makes the mouth go dry and the heart quail. Lots of excellent detail from his last days on his mother's ranch on Shadow to memories of the war and then the realisation he may be in a squeaky clean clinical environment but it is still enemy hands. Chilling. Can't wait for more, Mal4Prez. Your story rocks, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Thursday, April 5, 2012 2:36 AM


Loved to see more of this - nice to finally come full circle back to that room. Mal's thought's on, well, everything, was the real treat, as his thoughts about his past were always the unknown that defined him as a character. Loved how you wrote this, how you were in his head but he was a passive observer to his own fate - chilling and horrifying. Looking forward to more.


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Back Stories Book 3, Chapter 25
Zoë nodded. “I’ll bet there’s a little committee of suits back there trying to figure out how best to lie.”&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp

“Or how to tell some horrible truth,” Inara replied softly.&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp

“Or how to make the most effective use of medical waste incendiaries to get rid of our bodies,” Wash chimed in.

Back Stories III, Chapter 24
Mal returns to a few familiar places.

Back Stories III: Chapter 23
The BDH’s find themselves enmeshed in too damned many OCs. But hey, they’re necessary. Plottiness and all.

Back Stories III, Chapter 22
Inara tells the story of why she left the Core. Well, half of it anyway.

Back Stories III, Chapter 21
The battle with the Reavers continues, and Mal makes a choice. All decisions have consequences.

Back Stories III, Chapter 20
Finally a little Mal POV, but it doesn't last long.

Back Stories III, Chapter 19
The trials and tribulations of an older, wiser River Tam.

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 18
The aftermath of an unexpected encounter. Except—not all of the crew are accounted for…

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 17
A lovely day in the mountains: friendly locals and fresh air under a clear blue sky. What could possibly go wrong?

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 16.
Zoë tells of her soiree with terrorists on Oeneus.