No Sympathy
Sunday, September 21, 2003

Mal and Zoe in the war. They were told to lay down arms, that it was over. But was it?


Mal Reynolds had only let his anger get the best of him one time in his life. Well that’s a boldfaced lie, he thought. He could remember several times. He remembered this one time though, and it sickened him. Nor is he ever likely to forget it.

* * *

“They’re not coming.”

At first he thought he heard her wrong.

“We’re to lay down arms.”

He slowly stood up, thinking it was the Angels coming down to help ‘em, but, it wasn’t. The Alliance ships were wreaking havoc on Serenity Valley as he stood and watched the destruction happen before his eyes. He didn’t know how long he had stood there, just gazing as the missiles tore from the ships and landed with a supersonic boom on the planet. He tore his gaze away to look at Zoe who was equally shocked. She looked at him, seeing the light of the bombs flicker in his eyes, and they both looked down at Bendis lying in a heap on the floor.

“I…I just told him…” Mal managed to stutter out. He just told Bendis that they were too pretty for God to let them die. But, Bendis was dead, so where did that leave them?


He didn’t hear her at first, still gazing at his soldiers dying out there.


He swiveled around and looked at her, eyes wide open, and she saw the anger finally seeking in.

“Sir, are we to lay down arms?”

He grit his teeth so hard they started to ache. He knew what he was going to do, but he did not want Zoe mixed up in it.

“You are. I’m going to help the rest of the soldiers.”

“Then I’m going with you.”

“No you’re not Zoe. You are to stay here and do what Command ordered.”

“Like hell I will!”

“That is an ORDER Zoe!”

“What are you gonna do if I disobey it, sir? Kill me?”

He got in her face, the only time he wasn’t scared of her was when he was pullin’ rank on her, which he only did once before. For which he got a shiner under his right eye. “This is my fight Zoe, not yours. You can still live a full and happy life. But I’ve got nothing left. My family’s gone, and I’ve already accepted that I’m gonna die on this rock. So get out of my way, and let me go do my job.”

“Well, I’m sorry sir, but you’re not gonna be doing it alone!” She grabbed a fresh mag and popped it into her gun, grabbed the rest of the gear lying around and suited up. “Let’s do this thing!”

He smiled at her, knowing she would have gone with him all along, but just wanting to give her the choice without sounding like a wuss. They made their way out of the bunker, and slowly headed to the valley, bumping off feds along the way. The met up with a few straggling Browncoats, and had them throw down their arms and turn themselves in. Most of them did, but there was one or two that came with them. They were up on one side of the valley, helping a squad that had been holed in. They had gotten them free, and told them the same thing; throw down arms, and give yourself up. One of the soldiers came up to him.

“Sir, I’d rather fight my way out of this like you guys.”

Mal knew what he was feeling, and he looked at the boy who barely was old enough to hold a gun.

“Son, you got family?” The boy nodded. “Then go home to ‘em. They need you more than we do.”

The boy smiled at Mal, who looked at him remembering his own self when he first signed up, ready for action. He watched him walk to the rest of the squad that was waiting, and he and Zoe gave cover fire as they left.

They continued firing round after round at the feds, but something made him look back at the group. He watched in horror as they were taken out by sniper fire. The kid was still alive and he motioned to Zoe and they both took off in a sprint. They were about a half a klick away when he watched a group of feds surround the downed group. He and Zoe dove for cover and trained their weapons. The soldiers lifted the boy off the ground, he had a gunshot wound in his arm, and his knee was blown, from what Mal could see. A man walked over to the boy and was asking him questions. Mal tried to listen in, but couldn’t hear what they were saying. Then the fed pulled out a knife and played with it in his hand. The boy was scared, Mal could see the fear in his eyes through the scope of the rifle. Then all of a sudden, the soldier with the knife raised his hand and brought it down between the boys eyes. Mal looked aghast, and started screaming.


He and Zoe took off firing their weapons at the soldiers, picking them off one by one. He came up to the one soldier and hit him with the butt of his rifle. Zoe had taken care of the others and stood watch. Mal went over to the boy, and pulled the knife out. He was sick to his stomach. He should never have told them to give up. He never should have sent them off like that. They only had handguns to defend themselves with, he should have given them a rifle or something. This was all his fault. He fell to his knees, and screamed. “WHY! Why God why?” All Zoe could do was watch. She saw the fed move, and she came over to him and trained her gun on him. He just looked up at her with a sneer on his smug face.


He looked over at her, and she saw the coldness in his eyes. He grabbed the knife he dropped, and stood. He walked over to the soldier and picked him up. The soldier did nothing, except smile at Mal.

“Is this your knife?”

The soldier stared at Mal, and nodded.

“Well then… I think you should have it back.” With that, Mal took the knife and shoved it into the mans innards, several times. Then finally, before the man could take his last breath, did the same thing that he did to the boy.

Zoe watched in horror, and was sick to her stomach. She turned away, and placed a hand over her mouth to keep from throwing up. She probably would have done the same thing, but to see Mal do that, was totally different.

He saw her look at him. He couldn’t believe this himself. When did the war change a man so much as to kill a person in cold blood? When did he become no better than the enemy? He picked himself up off the ground, looking at the blood soaked uniform, then realizing that it was his own uniform, but not his blood. He turned away from Zoe and started throwing up. She came over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, but he batted it away.

“No. No sympathy for me, dong ma? I make my mistakes, and I’ll live with ‘em.”

* * *

“I’m wondering why a man so anxious to fly under Alliance radar would house known fugitives. The Alliance had her in that institution for a purpose, whatever it was, and they will want her back. You’re not overly fond of the boy, so why risk it?” Book asked, following Malcolm Reynolds to the heart of the ship.

“Only cause it’s the right thing to do.” Mal says as he looks at the engine room with disgust.

“I begin to wonder if you yourself know why you’re doing it.”

“Well what about you, Shepherd? How come you're flying about with us brigands? I mean, shouldn't you be off bringing religiosity to the fuzzy-wuzzys or some such?”

“Oh, I’ve got heathens aplenty right here.”

“If I'm your mission, Shepherd, best give it up. You're welcome on my boat, God ain't.”

* * *

He only thought about it when something triggered it, and his conversation with Book triggered it. Why was he keeping Simon and River on board? Was it cause of that boy he sent away? Was it cause he feared what the Feds would do to them? He pulled something out of his dresser in his room, and looked at it for awhile. He flipped the name tag over and over in his hands as he thought about that night. The name tag he pulled off the boys neck, and sent it’s replica home to his mother. He never kept any of his soldiers nametags, normally buried them with the soldier, or gave them to the families. But this one, this soldier was his fault. So he kept it. And every time he thought about it, he’d come into his room and find that tag, and read the name over and over in his brain. Zoe and Mal agreed to never say a word about that day. But sometimes, when he’d do something that she didn’t agree with, he’d see that look all over again. And it scared the hell outa him.


Sunday, September 21, 2003 4:17 PM


Shiny, fed. Very frightening look at the inside of Mal's mind.

Monday, September 22, 2003 2:30 AM


Good story Fed, well thought out. Nice description and dialog. We all know Mal has a darker side and that there is some reason for it. This was a good description of both.

Monday, September 22, 2003 7:20 AM


Absolutely brilliant! Not only was it a darn good story, it felt *right* as part of the mythology and background of the Captain and I could imagine Zoe being just as stubborn as Mal, not willing for a split second to leave him to throw his life away and die alone. The part about keeping the boy's dog tag was really moving and the sort of cross I can imagine he would bear. A living witness to guide him into better choices in the future. Like taking in Simon and River and being gorram determined as hell to keep them safe. Yep. Didn't like this, I loved it! Thanks, so shiny I am blinded. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, September 22, 2003 10:51 AM


Really good, you go the tone just right. I'm well impressed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 1:51 PM


WOW! Thank you so much for the outstanding compliments. I'm so glad you liked it...I wasn't sure about it myself...I never am about my fics. I'm a perfectionist, so it's kinda hard, cause I'm always wanting to redo it, but...WOW! I'm in shock. WOW!

Sunday, September 11, 2005 7:50 AM


poor mal, he's just another tortured soul lost in the woods...


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