Browncoat Rising [3]
Thursday, October 26, 2006

Further ramfications of Fess Higgins' meddling. Someone *really* unexpected supports Fess and Mal. And then it happens again...


PART THREE * Once the word is said, the action will be taken Gallant as the dragon and fierce as the tiger. Till the heavens turn cold and the ground we walk unfold. Standing tall as the sky and firm as the ground. May we be together under the full moon. Chinese sayings * Bring me my broadsword and clear understanding... Bless with a hard heart those who surround me. Bless the women and children who firm our hands. Put our backs to the north wind. Hold fast by the river. Broadsword – Jethro Tull * Mal turned to Fess, “Ta ma duh! I ain't going to lead any half-arsed army 'gainst the ruttin' Alliance! They'll blow us all to bits!” “You've got some of the Alliance on your side as well; the ones who've seen the rot in the system and want to change it.” Mal flipped his gun into his hand, “And if I just want to go on my way quietly?” Fess had the courage to face Mal without shrinking, “It's time, Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Time for a change. The folks here and up there are all behind you. Thousands of them and more to come. Even Commander Grayson on Ariel is supporting you, with *his men. They're going to smooth your path when you get to Ariel.” Mal cocked his gun, “Fess Higgins, I do *not want this. Seen far too many die already. I'm not about to lead more men and women to what I suspect will be certain death. Anyhow, some of them's going to take a fair bit more 'n a day to get here. Call 'em off. Call them all off.” Jayne was at Mal's shoulder, “Can I hit him *now?” He followed through without waiting for a response and decked Fess with a single punch. Fess slowly and carefully pulled out a large rolled up sheaf of papers from his inside pocket, “Petition's right here. Got it signed by everyone willing to support you in a popular uprising. There's over two hundred thousand names and more will join their number once you begin. And most of the people I mentioned have been on their way for some time and will be in orbit shortly.” Mal picked up the papers with distaste, almost as if they might bite. He skimmed the sheets. “Ta ma duh! Well, you've been busy, Fess Higgins. You're too young to remember the war, son, so let me tell you how it was. Long, hard, painful and dangerous. Not exaggerating when I say we were often up to our knees in blood or mud or corpses or all three. I didn't always expect to come out alive, but I held the valley with Zoe. Now I'm older and tireder and I'm content with my ship and the best gorram crew in the 'verse. That's enough. Don't want fame, don't want glory.” * “Fame and glory want *you, Captain Reynolds.” For a split second, the voice sounded like Derrial Book, then Mal knew. They all knew who else was standing there and now suddenly visible. It was the Operative. Mal whirled, shooting as he went. Jayne was right at his back, delivering a bullet or six. Mal and Jayne both kept their weapons trained on the man as they walked over to where the man lay on the ground, knocked back by the barrage. The Operative – or rightly – the ex-Operative smiled, “Still got my body armour, Malcolm Reynolds.” Mal set his jaw, “If you did this...” Fess' voice came to them, “He didn't; I've never seen that man till now, I swear.” Zoe's voice joined in, “Vera and I have got Fess at gunpoint, sir.” Mal didn't move the barrel of his pistol by so much as a hair, “What *are you doing here?” The Operative's smile gentled, “I remember you said you'd kill me next time, but I've been aware of how you carry on being at the right place at the right time. Maybe the wrong place at the right time. For what it's worth, the nothing I have become is ready and willing to fight *with you against the monstrosity of the Alliance.” “And you think I'd trust you?” He shrugged slightly, “Probably not, but defeating the machine I used to serve would be some kind of recompense for all the evils I did in its name.” “Not on *my gorram ship!” “I never expected such a privilege, Malcolm Reynolds. I have a modest craft of my own and I am willing to fly with your...fleet, for want of a better term.” Jayne's grin was nasty and without humour, “I say we waste the ruttin' bastard right now; can't trust him with a spoon!” Mal smiled slightly, “I remember another merc a ways back, down on his luck and in need of a bunk of his own and better pay. Could have wasted him several times; wasn't entirely trustworthy until recently.” “I ain't like *him!” “I know Jayne; *you've taken the time to grow a bigger conscience and some smarts.” “Hey!” “And that woman of yours loves you something fierce and you've proved yourself more than handy, so you're worth a lot in my book. But this man; he was probably bred to fight for the Alliance.” “Not so far from the truth, Captain Reynolds.” Mal looked at the Operative, “I know you're an excellent fighter and I hear real truth in what you're saying. But you can see why I have to decline your offer.” “I didn't expect any less from you.” “Hmm. And what about your assertion that fame and glory want me?” * “Forgive me sounding like a prophet, but they have been waiting for you ever since Unification day. The Alliance, I now realise, has become corrupt and indeed complacent. As a former insider, I can tell of all sorts of schemes to subtly and insidiously control people. Sometimes less than subtly. Seeing your message taught me that. And a government capable of things like that is, sooner or later, going to implode. On the other side, there's you and your crew. You've earned yourself the status of folk hero of the 'verse. People love and admire you. They are poised to follow you into the jaws of hell itself if need be to have a chance of better and more open government.” “Hell is probably how it'll turn out.” “The Alliance sees at least twenty thousand people and probably more at their front door, insisting on change, and they will have to listen. Especially if you are there. For what its worth, you *have to be there. The 'verse needs the shake-up and for the underdogs – the Browncoats – to have their day.” It was, Mal thought later, as if the 'verse held its breath whilst he weighed up his response and actions, “I'll talk to everyone when they arrive. They deserve that much. I don't want to be the verse's hero. A hero is a person who gets other people killed.” “I don't wanna get killed!” “Neither do I, Jayne; neither do I.” They walked away, leaving the Operative in the dust. * Mal sat at the com in Serenity's bridge sometime later. He wiped his hands on his pants and took a breath. Zoe was standing behind him to his right, Sarah in her arms, “What are you going to say, sir?” “I don't rightly know, Zoe. I truly don't.” Inara had her hand on Mal's left shoulder, “I'm with you, whatever you decide.” Zoe added, “Some plan that would protect Sarah, Lee and Sam along with the rest of us would get my vote.” “Don't worry, I'm thinking of *everyone on this ship *and all the other ships out there. *And the pleasure of kicking the Alliance where it hurts, truth be told.” Mal took a breath and flipped open communication to all the other ships, “This is Captain Malcolm Reynolds on the Serenity. First of all, thank-you. I didn't know I was so popular! You turning out like this...” He paused, fighting sudden rising emotion, “Well, it means a lot to me and the crew. As much as I'd like to give the Alliance a bloody nose and right a whole pile of wrongs, I think we're likely headed on a suicide mission. Alliance cruisers are bigger and more heavily armed for a start. And the powers that be *like their power and status, they're not gonna lie down. Not even in the face of the evidence against them, I'm thinking. So, it'll mean a fight and a fight we'll likely lose, truth be told. Given how the truth about Reavers and Companions and other things was covered up for so long, I'm guessing we'll be labelled renegades or terrorists and confined to a footnote in history. They'll wipe us out, paper over the cracks and keep going. Wash, rinse repeat. So, I'm saying thank-you from the bottom of my heart for your support, for raising the Browncoat flag again, however briefly; but it's time to pack our bags and go home or on our way quietly.” He closed the switch. Zoe squeezed his shoulder, “Damn fine words, sir.” “Will they hear them, though?” River gazed through the glass upwards to the stars, “They heard. *Everyone heard. House of cards; dominoes. Push one and they all fall down. We're going to walk on the sky with the light behind us. We've got the sun, the moon, the chariot and the world. The tower's going to fall, but the lovers will survive.” She turned to Mal, “It's beginning.” “River, any chance of an explanation?” “I think River's talking about Tarot cards; at least in part,” Hori said, “She named several of the major arcana. Erm...things are beginning, like she said. River described the fool card first, off on his travels into the unknown. Guessing that's us, eh.” River nodded, “Yes; the tower *will fall. Wrongs will be put right.” She smiled at Mal, “Fess was right, so was the Operative. It's time.” Mal prepared Serenity for take-off, “Anyone see what happened to our *friend?” Vera nodded, “He went inside the house with Fess. Didn't see him come out. Surprised you let him live, after what I heard he did to you.” “Surprised myself, Vera. I was most emphatic about wanting him dead the next time we met.” “There's time for me to go out and shoot him!” “No, Jayne. He's largely a spent force after the message from Miranda, and he knows it. I will be watching for him and if he puts so much as a hair out of place, I'll do the deed myself.” * So, they battened down the hatches and took off into space. A host of ships, great and small, hovered either in orbit or hung nearby in space. “There's ruttin' thousands of 'em!” “I know, Jayne.” River put her head on one side, “Five thousand in this system; more to be picked up along the way.” “Good grief!” Vera exclaimed, “It's like half the 'verse is on our side!” River looked at Vera, “*We're on the side of the 'verse; the side it wants to go with.” “So, Mal; what are we going to do?” “*Not head to Ariel, if I've got anything to do with it. From here...well, maybe mosey along to bother Badger a little.” Vera made a disgusted noise, “Tried coming on to me once; little creep! Mind you, he does know what jobs there are around.” “Ya didn't...did you?” “Jayne, no offence to people who come in small packages, but he barely skims my shoulder!” He relaxed, “Well, that's all right then!” “I have a feeling they may follow wherever you go, sir.” “I know, Zoe. They're hovering there...expectant. Like something's about to happen.” River looked to the rear of Serenity, “It's behind us. The happening thing.” * A male, efficient voice broke in over their com, “Excelsior, Excalibur and Enterprise hailing Serenity and the fleet.” “Ta ma duh! Alliance ships! We're screwed!” “News of the...petition has reached Ariel and Alliance headquarters. Things have been jittery in government since the signal about Miranda got out, but the revelation about the Companions and Serenity then helping wipe out one of the major Triad networks has really set the cat among the pigeons. My name is Lieutenant Commander Todd Lawless and I have ten more Alliance ships with me as well the three you can see at the moment. We are here to help you. We want the old corrupt system gone and gone soon. So, Captain Malcolm Reynolds; thank-you for your noble speech, but you're not going to fail. The Alliance is dying and we are all going to kill it off.” Jayne grinned, “We're going to fight!” Mal put a hand out, “Yes, Jayne; we're going to fight. Against some of my better judgement. All for one?” Everyone in the cockpit nodded and chorused, “And one for all!” Mal flicked the three switches above his head with a certain ceremony, “'Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war'.” Vera nodded, getting the Shakesperean reference, “Non nobis nomine, Domine.”


Saturday, October 28, 2006 10:23 AM


Damn...that was some mighty fine speechifying, Vera! Though I definitely would have liked to see some small transition from Mal's "ain't a hero, just wanna go my own way" position to "Cry havoc and let forth the dogs of war"...cuz it seems a tad too sudden, like Mal was faking his tired and humble routine until he had support from the crew to lead an insurrection;)


Saturday, October 28, 2006 11:12 PM


Yes, I know. Mal's about to give at least some of his reasons for changing his mind. You may guess that Zoe isn't an entirely happy bunny right at the moment [G].

Next part...soon as reasonably possible.



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