Captains and Spies, Pilots and Princes. Chap 2: Corporal Jones
Monday, April 10, 2006

Follows on from Zoe's Letter. Not everyone at Serenity Valley was a volunteer....


Battle of Serenity Valley – 2511 Corporal Thomas Jones of the 72nd Pioneer Regiment moved along the ridge with rest of his section, their backs loaded with digging charges and ammo. In the distance the section could see flashes followed by the low rubbles. Two Wolfhounds flew low and fast heading to the front. Thomas didn’t expect them to be flying back. The flare from engines brightened the sky around them and the section ducked instinctively. To the left and right and behind them Thomas could see the rest of 2 Platoon, B Company duck as well. They were all nervous. They had been in Serenity for several weeks now, mostly doing rear guard duties, convey escort, building FOBs for Independent Fighters, guarding POWs (not that there was many coming back) and the myriad of other duties that was the role of a Pioneer in any army.

Their tour in the valley had been pretty eventful. Both sides regarded this as important battle and the Alliance had sent their crack assault battalions to attack the Independent rear lines, and it had been 72nd who’d had repelled them. Thomas didn’t regard the valley or the war as important. He was a conscript, along with most of the men in the regiment, and was only concerned with surviving.

But the ruperts in the headshed had decided that a big push along the valley was what was needed to tip the balance in their favour. To do that they needed to move the big guns forward so that they were in range of not only the front but also the rear lines as the Alliance retreated. But before the artillery could come in, someone needed to build the firing positions. And that someone was the 72nd Pioneers. Bō hóu pì gu!

They arrived at the coordinates given to them and fanned out, taking up defensive positions, waiting for Lieutenant Jamieson and Sergeant Tesia to decide where set the positions. To his left he heard Pioneers Sally and Davies muttering and shifting about. “Shut the Vloek up, otherwise I’ll paint a nice shiny arrow on your helmets for the Alliance snipers!” he told them. “Sorry corp, it’s just what the qing wa cao de liu mang are we doing here!” replied Sally. “Well we all got stuck on an Independent planet that decided that everyone should be involved in the war and so everyone either faced conscription or prison. We made the stupid choice.” They all had a little nervous laugh, then Sergeant Tesia thick accent came over the radio. “Beta-Two-Zero to Beta-Two-Three, Korpral Jones, do you read? Over” “Beta-Two-Three to Beta-Two-Zero, Roger Sergeant, Over” “Beta-Two-Zero to Beta-Two-Three, Jones, set up a deep position, 5 meters down the east side of the ridge to front. Over” “Beta-Two-Three to Beta-Two-Zero, Roger that, Deep position, 5 meters down east side of forward ridge. Over” “Beta-Two-Zero to Beta-Two-Three, Reads correct. Out” Thomas signalled for the section to follow him, and he led them to the ridge in front of them and down the east side. He stopped and scanned for enemy activity. Nothing. He gathered the section around him and briefly explained how he wanted the position built. They spread out and got out their digging charges and spades. Soon a large hole and been dug and formed. Perfect, thought Thomas. The section took up defensive positions waiting for dropshots to arrive……..


Two days later, in the Alliance med ship, his left arm missing and his section dead or in one of the beds around him, Thomas couldn’t think of anything other than that he was glad that it was all over. The big guns had arrived in the belly of the dropships and had been shot out of the sky by the Alliance during their descent. The falling wreckage had come down on top of them and had crushed Thomas left arm. He had blacked out, and when he woke up, the rest of the platoon was anywhere to be seen. Just cries of pain from his men, that became less as more of his men died. What seemed like a lifetime later, an Alliance patrol had arrived. Thomas hadn’t tried to fight back, hoping they would put him out of misery. He laid down his rifle. He had seen a medic look down on him concerned, a prick in his arm and then.………


Eight years later in the camp of those who had been forgotten by both sides, Thomas looked across at the new arrival asleep on his bunk. Hoban Washburne. That was the name that the guards had told Thomas. Funny name he thought. They would have to think of something shorter to call him by. What about “Hoburne”. No made him sound like he was simple or something. “Hobbit”. Well he was abit pasty and funny looking, but no need rub it in. Well “Wash” sounded okay for the time being, bit stupid, but it would do. “Wash” had been in and out of consciousness for the last 5 days now.

He had eaten little and talked even less. Didn’t help that he couldn’t remember nothing. He had asked the Camp Commandant for any details they had on Wash, and had been told, dismissively, that it would be looked into. Thomas wasn’t surprised. The Colonel wasn’t a bad man, just uninterested. Thomas didn’t blame him. All the prisoners here were men and women who had been declared dead in the war, and whose families were too poor or far away to start looking for the bodies of their loved ones. So certain interested parties in the Alliance would direct these forgotten souls to the camp and so they became lost in the mess of bureaucracy that was the Alliance. Here they could be used in trials for all sorts of tests. Experimental medical techniques mostly, but also tests for new body armour, self protection systems intended for the next generation of Alliance Soldier, and occasionally various types of weapons, whose lethality persons higher up were interested in confirming. Experiments that needed to be performed on real human beings but carried a fairly large element of risk to them. Lethal in some cases. The Prisoners where fairly well treated though. No point in conducting tests on “…unhealthy āng shu qiú fàn!” as the Warden liked to call those who were weak. And the Commandant let them run as much of their own affairs possible. Helped to keep the spirits up. Thomas sighed and looked across at Wash. The guy needed to get out of his room, get some fresh air and start to become part of the little community that was the camp. That was how they had survived. People died, and though less and less these days, people came. Well he wasn’t about to the camp’s newest member become a āng shu qiú fàn, otherwise he wouldn’t survive. Wash stirred and began to……….


Awake. That was what Captain Malcolm Reynolds was. Not asleep. Awake. Which was a dying shame, considering he was due on the bridge, and hadn’t slept in……well it was too long since his last sleep. He pulled on some clothes, and climbed up the ladder from his bunk to the corridor that led to bridge. Here he found his Little Albatross guiding Serenity into Space Station where Amnon Duul, the post man would be waiting with their post. Hopefully no dead bodies of old friends this time, Mal thought. River reading his thoughts, no doubt, said “It is statically unlikely that anything as strange as what you received last time will be sent to you again” “Well, now that is a great comfort to hear, nyen ching-duh. Now just guide her in nice and slow.” “Aye, aye Captain.” “Don’t want any trouble.” “Can’t guarantee that.” Mal hoped she was joking.


Bō hóu pì gu! – Great Monkeys Arse! Vloek – Damn (in Dutch) qing wa cao de liu mang - frog humping son of a bitch āng shǔ qiú fàn – Filthy rat prisoner nyen ching-duh – young one


Next Part Chapter 3: A Message for Mal


Monday, April 10, 2006 2:47 PM


Hope you enjoy it. It is going somewhere, don't worry. All comments welcome, particually about dialoge within the established charaters.

Monday, April 10, 2006 8:18 PM


Uh...should we be concerned that Wash has ended up in a special prison camp used a test centre for Alliance military tech? Cuz I am worried about how things will turn out for Wash if he has been tinkered with....


Tuesday, April 11, 2006 4:33 PM


Yeah, I know my diolog was week in the fourth part of the storie that you read. I could'nt get the proper and polite attitude of Simon so I made it sound like he had gotten used to using a more relaxed sort of speaking around the crew. Thnks for the advice.


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