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WAR DIARIES OF A SINNER Chapter 9
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Book wasn't born a shepherd, he was born Brian M. Yong, an ex-colonel surprisingly, and unwillingly, brought out of retirement by the Alliance to fight in the Unification War.----Still on Three Hills, Yong and his troops now even have to take on the forces of nature.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 991    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

The whole moon seemed to have turned against them. The morning after they had established a provisional camp Yong and his troops had left early and continued their march across the open land towards the assumed position of one guerilla nest in the hinterland of Apachin. Well, strictly the whole of Three Hills was hinterland but that was really beside the point. They passed an isolated farmstead here and there but after quick sweeps they all turned out to be abandoned. One of them had actually been booby-trapped, but luckily for them the fuse malfunctioned and the whole building blew up five minutes after the sweep team had left it. Then came the sandstorm. Not one of the usual duststorms they had almost got used to. This one meant business. The soldiers covered their faces with pieces of cloth or whatever else was available and staggered along against the forces of the wind. It was impossible to see further than twenty, maybe twenty-five yards, allowing people only to keep visual contact with the comrades in their immediate vicinity. They lost all sense of direction, and on top of that the sensitive communication equipment got clogged up by the microscopic grains of sand and was rendered useless. Some transmitters still worked on short range but any attempts to wave the command of operation besieging Apachin were futile. They were cut off from the centre. Not only that, they also got cut off from each other. When the storm had subsided, Yong was left with only two companies, the 1st led which was now led by Captain Mendes and the 3rd under the command of Captain Dao. The bulk of his troops had disappeared in the storm, must have taken a wrong turn or gone into a different direction. They were caught in the middle of nowhere and none of the hills and rock formations around seemed to resemble any that had been visible before the storm hit them.

”Damn”, Yong said.

“Sir, what are we doing now?” Dao asked. The face on her skin was red from all the sand that had blown over it. Yong presumed that his own face looked similar. “Try to get out of this hell of a mess.”

“Sir?”

“You heard what I said. What else would you suggest in out present situation?”

“Sorry, Sir”, Dao said, then added after a moment. “But how do we determine our position without our digital maps working?”

“Well, we either find a way to get them working again, or we go by the course of the sun. I know it’s old-fashioned but if I am not mistaken it’s still part of basic training.”

“That’s a long time ago, Sir, and I’m not sure.”

“Stop whinig, Dao, better get digging in your memory until something comes up.”

“Yes, Colonel.”

Yong admitted he had acted a bit unjust towards Dao, but he was just angry with himself and the situation he had got his troops into, not just those physically present. Fortunately, they could pinpoint the general directions when the sun started to set on the horizon. They struck camp under a huge overhanging slab of rock. Another big rock protruding from the ground worked as a kind of protective wall for those retreating forther under the stonoe roof. In case somebody tried to attack them, Yong had the soldiers collect stones and whatever wood was out there and fill up the gaps in their natural wall. They also put several machine guns in place.

The next two days the weather pinned them down in their grotto, and after that the Browncoats and their partisan allies of the area had discovered them, and took over the shift of pinning them down. The Browncoats entrenched in a rugged rock formation opposite Yong’s position and started taking them under fire from there. Yong’s soldiers returned the fire, but the exchanges got sparser over the next couple of days as both sides’ ammunition stores decreased. Only few people on either side, as far as Yong could estimate the situation of their opponents, got hit and among the Alliance soldiers luckily none of the wounds were lethal. But even when the opposite side’s ammunitions dwindled they could still be resupplied by their comrades, and not just with bullets. For Yong’s troops there seemed to be no help coming. He was sure the other troops had not just left, but most likely they were held up somewhere else or were direly needed in the siege of Apachin. Where Yong should be with his people, he thought angrily. Instead he was facing the enemy over a couple of hundred yards of barren wasteland slowly running out of supplies. The few foodstuffs they had taken with them on the mission were soon used up, and they were down to eating the emergency rations in their packs. The aching sense of emptiness in his stomach made Yong reach for his own emergency pack. These were designed to provide soldiers with a special very nutritious mix of proteines in case normal supplies ran out. Small silver vacuum-packs with proteine bars and tubes with nutritious fluids and pastes, similar to the kind that had been used in the early days of space travel, when people had been forced to eat in zero gravity. Yong reached for one of the bars, noticed the Blue Sun logo printed on the tinfoil, and turned to read the ingredients information. After a long list of proteine combinations that only made sense to doctors and pharmacists it said “Innoc Supplements AS, BX, and J-2”. Bastards, Yong thought, so they finally managed to have their drugs thrown into the proteine mix. They were all meant to boost the immune system, enhance performance, and allow people to endure longer without proper food, basically by letting the body feed on its own reserves. A sudden anger boiled up in Yong and he tossed the bar across their defences out into the open. The Browncoats shot a burst at the point where it touched the ground. The soldiers next to him gave him puzzled and slightly worried glances.

“Sir, is everything allright, Sir?” Mendes asked, looking genuinely concerned.

“Ah, it’s nothing”, he returned curtly. “Get back on your post.” In a lower voice, and more to himself he added: “Tzang-huo.”

Mendes let that slide, sure the insult was not directed at him. and turned back facing out of their ‘base’ again. Yong meanwhile looked around. Most of his soldiers were eating the Blue Sun stuff in their packets, and he too was feeling hungry. With another curse he took a second proteine bar, and tore the foil.

At dawn the next day they were awakened by a massive roar. Alarmed everybody looked around trying to find out where the noise was coming from. But they were sure it did not mean good news. Yong had a certain inkling, but he kept it to himself for the time being. The confirmation came a few hours later in the form of a Browncoat riding down the hill towards them, the blazing morning sun in his back and a stained white banner flying from a pole in his hand. The scene had something comically archaic about it, something from the battlefields of old on Earth-That-Was. The man stopped in shouting distance.

“Hey, you in there. Alliance. Someone come out so I can see you. I’m unarmed.”

Yong stepped out and came a few yards towards the rider, his rifle resting on his shoulder. “What do you want?”

“The question is what do you want. In case you hadn’t noticed but your army has left you. Lost their battle here too. Point is, you don’t have a chance of survival for very much longer.”

“Are you trying to threaten us?”

“No, you sha gua, I’m making you an offer. We can either do this the hard way, where you fight to the last man, make a stand, bla bla, and a lot of people get killed. Or you can lay down your weapons and surrender, and nobody will be harmed. Take your pick. I’ll come back in one hour to hear your decision. Choose wisely, man.”

-------------------

Chinese (I think): Tzang-huo: bastard sha gua: idiot

Disclaimer: For the events of the war I am loosely orienting myself on the unofficial timeline on the Fireflywiki. The ‘Verse is of course Joss Whedon’s. But Book’s alter ego Brian Yong is essentially my creation.

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Comments are always appreciated.

COMMENTS

Friday, November 3, 2006 3:36 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Hmm...Book's reaction to the ration bar makes me wonder about whether Blue Sun was invovled in the matter that got Book kicked out of the Alliance military in the first place...:(

BEB


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