Remembrance: The Metal Man
Friday, September 1, 2006

Beware the iron giant.


Now, I despise guns. I have never liked the wretched things, and I probably never will. Some might point out that they are the reason I have a job (For those who don’t know, I used to be a resident trauma surgeon in on of the major hospitals in Capital City, back on Osiris), but I believe they shouldn’t exist at all. The concept of something that’s sole purpose is to end lives horrifies me beyond belief. I have controlled myself long enough to point a gun at a person – but only if the situation called for it – but I have never been able to pull the trigger. Well, not with any reasonable degree of accuracy. The point is though, I hate the things. The only thing I hate more than having to use a gun is having one pointed at me. Those situations mean that things can only get worse.

A situation, perhaps, quite like this one.

In fact, if I remember correctly, there were five guns pointed at us. There were two on Mal, two on Zoë, and one on me. I faintly remember trying not to wet myself. The blistering cold in my nether regions seemed to confirm that I had in fact not emptied my bladder.

The man who had spoken was not holding a gun. I could tell it was he who had spoken, as he was the one who looked even faintly smug, as he was wearing the thickest coat. I once owned a coat like that. When you put it on, you could stand in the black itself with it on, and still be as warm and snug as if you were standing in front of a blazing fire.

God, how I would have given nearly anything to have had a coat like that back then.

I can’t remember exactly what he said as the wind was increasing in speed, but I believe the gist was to stand away from the crate with the gigantic metal man. We understood, and with some encouragement by the nice men with guns, we happily obliged. The man with the lovely coat walked over and peered into the crate, before shouting something to his colleagues. He didn’t sound pleased with what he’d seen, and to emphasise this, he shouted at the crate, and kicked it. Instantly realising his mistake, he clutched his foot in agony.

Then the oddest thing happened. The man’s eyes – the metal one, I mean – flashed on.

I kid you not. I only noticed because I was trying not to stare at the lethal weapons pointed in our direction, and so my eyes wandered towards him. Now, it was quite dark at this time, as the sun had been obscured by the snow falling heavily all around us. So when his eyes flashed on, a light shone out of his tinted lens, a light which was clearly visible to all present.

Now, when you find a metal man in a box on a dead planet where there was supposed to be medical supplies, the last thing you expect him to do is switch on. Yet, I tell the truth, this is what he did. The next thing he did, as all guns focused on him instead of us, giving us the chance to back off hastily, was stand up.

This may seem insignificant, I must point out that apart from some insulation he filled his crate almost perfectly. This made him roughly seven feet by three in size. It was awe inspiring, and more than a little scary. I can’t remember how long we stood there, watching the man watch us. It felt like a lifetime. Then, of course, someone had to go and do something stupid.

One of the men fired his gun. There was a loud clang as the bullets slammed into the metal man (I apologise if you find my continued use of the term ‘metal man’ annoying, but to this day he does not like to be referred to as a cyborg). With a roar, he punched his right fist into the air, and I remember catching my breath as a large blade slid out of his knuckles. In a split second he’d shot forwards, slicing the blade through the man, slicing him clean in half. As the snow began to turn red, I closed my eyes, attempting to distance myself from the gunshots and screaming, but not before I saw Zoë thumb her transmitter quickly on and off, a signal to Serenity to come quickly.

After about a half a minute the screaming died away, and I dared to peek open an eye. The wind had begun to die down, but the snow was falling heavier than ever now, with the temperature falling like a stone. The giant killer was facing us, still as a statue. More accurately, he was facing Mal, engaged in some kind of staring match. I could only hope that Mal would win.

Within seconds I heard the roar of Serenity’s engines pass overhead before it landed nearby. Snow was blown up all around us, but still the two men were engaged in their little war. In the distance I saw a bright light appear as Serenity’s cargo bay door opened up, and Jayne ran out cradling a machine gun. He looked as if he was about to fire, and Zoë, not wanting to provoke the giant into killing us all, something I desperately did not want to happen, signalled to Jayne to hold his fire. Jayne did so, but wisely kept his gun pointed at him.

With the scraping sound of metal-against-metal, the blade retracted. A few seconds passed as we waited with baited breath to see what he would do. Nothing happened. We waited longer. Nothing continued to happen. It was then that Mal took a few cautious steps towards him, and upon reaching him, waved his hand before the man’s eyes. Nothing happened, except that the man fell over backwards, stiff as a plank. This of course sparked off interest among the crew present.

‘Sir?’ Zoë asked.

‘What?’ Mal shouted back, as the wind had begun to get louder.

‘What do we do with him?’ Mal looked bemused at the question.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Good God, Mal!’ Jayne shouted, having noticed the metallic content of the man lying before him. ‘What the Hell is it?’

‘No idea!’ Mal said, not being at all helpful.



‘What do we do with him?’

‘Come again?’ Mal seemed even more confused this time.

‘We shouldn’t leave him here to die!’

‘He just killed them all! You think I’d let something like that on my ship?!’ Jayne looked up, noticed the blood coating most of the snow around the crate, and swore loudly.

‘He saved our lives, Mal!’ I chipped in for good measure. The good Captain seemed to ponder this for a minute, before coming to a decision.

‘Fine, but on your head be it!’ Zoë and Mal hoisted the man beneath the arms and dragged him up. He looked heavy, I could see them buckle beneath the weight.

‘Have you lost what remained of your gorram mind?!’ Jayne shouted.

‘Jayne, grab his legs!’ Mal shouted.

‘To Hell with that!’ Jayne replied, getting right to the point.

‘Jayne, the Captain gave you an order.’ She didn’t shout, and if I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn the wind purposefully became quiet as she spoke, before rushing back up a few seconds later. Knowing better than to tangle with Zoë, Jayne reluctantly helped Mal pick up on leg, while I grabbed the other.

God, he was heavy.

We slowly carried him through the snow to Serenity, and found the inner airlock closed. Jayne thumbed a button on a nearby panel and the airlock opened, but only a fraction. He pressed the button again, but the airlock remained stuck. With much difficulty, he managed to pull his communicator out of his pocket.

‘Kaylee! Open the ruttin’ door!’ When she spoke, I heard her voice not from the little speaker, but from the other side of the airlock.

‘I’m trying, just hold your horses! I think something’s frozen in the door gear system!’ I heard her shout.

‘Well,’ Jayne shouted back, ‘We’re freezing out here! Open the door!’ I heard my sweetheart mumble something that, although unintelligible, was probably some sort of degrading remark about the legitimacy of Jayne’s birth.

Suddenly, and with a rush of noise, the airlock sprang to life, and we carried the man into the cargo bay. I remember Kaylee standing there in her winter outfit, goggles, thick coat and all, and Inara, our resident companion (I’ll explain later) shouting something about not getting her beauty sleep, the sudden silence as the airlock closed behind us, and the curious sensation of my feet trying to press through the floor as Serenity took off. We took the mystery man to the infirmary and laid him down carefully. I felt for a pulse, any sign that he was still alive.

I found nothing. I remember walking out of the infirmary in a daze after telling Mal, who just continued to stare at the man. I walked out to see Kaylee pulling off her goggles. She ran over to me and wrapped her arms around me. For a few seconds, I enjoyed the feeling of her body against mine, before she shrieked, and jumped back as if scolded.

‘Kaylee, what is it?’ I asked, understandably wanting to know what had just caused her to act like that. The sound had drawn Mal out of his trance, and he ran out of the infirmary to see what the matter was. I felt his eyes boring into the back of my neck, as sure as I felt Kaylee’s staring at my chest. Following her gaze, I saw what had caused her to panic. I was covered in blood. Not my own, obviously, but I suddenly remembered some warm liquid splashing on me when those men were cut into quarters. I threw the coat off, eager to rid myself of such a distressing piece of clothing. I kept away from it; as if afraid it might bite. There were a few minutes of silence as the universe settled down, before Mal decided to break it.


‘Hmm?’ I was still a little distracted by the stained coat lying on the floor.

‘I need you to check out that guy, see what he is. Think you can do that?’ I remember nodding obediently, muttering some kind of affirmative, and then walking off into the infirmary.

Kaylee shrieking has that kind of effect on people.


It was about ten minutes later that I standing over the metal man, looking him over from top to bottom. Mal and Jayne stood by, watching me work.

‘How’s our John Doe?’ Mal asked.

‘I’m trying to find out.’ I said, a little nastily if I must be honest. I don’t really like people looking over me when I work.

‘John Doe?’ Jayne asked, not really getting the message my tone was trying to indicate, ‘What sort of sorry-ass name is that?’

‘It’s the name given to corpses when we don’t have their name.’ I told him, in an attempt to satisfy his curiosity enough to get him to shut up, alas, to no avail.

‘Hell, he has a name.’ Jayne pointed my patient’s shoulder. ‘See? Shine.’

‘That ain’t his name.’ Mal argued.

‘And how would you know, hmm?’ As Mal and Jayne continued to argue, I moved onto his head, where upon I found something odd. There was a small indent in his skull, kind of like a button. I pressed it, and the top of his head sprung open with a hiss. The two men stopped their argument, and came over to peer inside. Inside his skull was a brain with several chips stuck in it, like some sort of sick computer. What really caught my attention, however, was a button that was flashing on and off, labelled System Reset.

‘Ew.’ Jayne managed to comment. Just to see what it would do, I flicked the switch, and the skull began to close up again. I managed to pull my hand out just in time. Mal glanced over at me, a strange expression gracing his features, a combination of bewilderment and fright.



‘What did you just do?’

The man screamed.


Friday, September 1, 2006 5:51 AM


Ohh, very nice tale. At first I thought this reminiscent of Terminator as you mentioned some big conflict, but now it seems more Iron Giant.

Either way, nicely written and I'm definitely looking forward to more. I like the pov of the story.

Saturday, September 2, 2006 1:15 AM


So...a brain with microchips in it, huh? Are we singing from the same sheet here? :)

Sunday, September 3, 2006 7:02 PM


So I am guessing the Alliance went with more...crude supersoldiers post-Miranda, huh? Cuz otherwise...I am kind confused over what the freaking purpose of a 26th century Tin Man would be;)



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