Death or Glory (Part II)
Thursday, January 8, 2004

This is a follow up to 'Death or Glory'. Please note however it is very different in tone and is far, far more lighthearted. Basically it's Steve from the first part telling amusing stories from his time with the 21st Lancers to the Serenity Crew


Disclaimer – Everything either does belongs to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind, I just think they’ve got by far the best unit badge in the world and their string of battle-honours from The Seven Years War in 1760 to the Gulf in 1991 shows they more than deserve their nickname as ‘The Death or Glory Boys’.

* * *

Henderson Plains – New Yemen – 2508 AD

The area was well named. Shortly after splitting from the main column advancing towards the Capital City a lone Excalibur Hovertank of the 21st Lancers commanded by Lieutenant Steven Hicks passed over the last in a line of low hills and he found himself confronted with an enormous plain that stretched to the horizon.

Just visible was a small town by a river which scouts reported was being occupied by an Alliance Armoured Personnel Carrier and its complement of Infantry. All the civilians had long since fled the outlying communities for the Capital City so with minimal chance of ‘collateral’ casualties Hicks had been dispatched to knock out the enemy APC and deny use of the town to the enemy.

New Yemen was a thinly populated world that was loyal to the Alliance but poorly garrisoned. Supposedly it was well within ‘safe’ territory for the other side so Independence High Command had decided to drop the Lancers in to raise hell and attempt to make the Alliance strip the front lines to bolster defences well inside their own space.

‘We’re just coming into range Sir. Would you like me to open fire on the town?’

‘That’s a negative Gunner. We’ll get a bit closer first’ Hicks turned slightly to address his driver ‘get us another half a klick closer then stop’


The Hovertank flew on another couple of hundred yards then suddenly a huge explosion lifted the 35 tonne machine then bought it crashing to the ground.

‘What the hell was that?’ screamed the driver. Her console was lit up like a Christmas tree and the Excalibur wouldn’t respond to her joystick

‘Calm down Trooper Hart it wasn’t incoming fire I think we just went over a gorram landmine. Is anybody hurt?’

‘I’m fine Sir but she won’t lift’

‘Jones you okay?

‘I bit my tongue when we hit the ground but otherwise I’m fine. Wish I could say the same for my gear’

‘Okay. Damage Control Report’

‘Power-plant’s fine but diagnostics show the gravity motor completely FUBAR so we can’t move’

‘Fire control computer is fried, damn thing always goes wrong. Optical sites are smashed, I’ve also lost the loading gear for the railgun, and there’s no power to the chaingun’ ‘Isn’t that bloody marvellous? So we can’t move and we can’t fight’

‘Oh yeah and the radios busted so we can’t tell anyone’

Hicks opened the turret hatch and looked at the town in the distance. It seemed likely that at any moment that APC was going to come riding up to see them.

It was just at that moment the mother of all daft ideas popped unbidden into his brain

‘Claire you said the power-plant was okay so it’s still capable of running the railgun is that right Mark?’

‘Yes but we can’t aim, fire or load it’

‘Can you get rounds out of the ammunition hopper’

‘Sure. Why?’

‘Troopers I have just had the shiniest idea in the history of shiny ideas. All we need is the spray-paint can, the wire cutters and a big stick’

* * *

Transport Ship Serenity – On route to Toulouse – 2519 AD

‘You have got to be kidding me’ Mal said in disbelief as laughter echoed around the kitchen table. The whole crew was there and it had been my turn to tell a funny story.

‘I swear on my children’s lives’ I told him hand on heart.

‘Say it again because it takes some listening too’

‘Okay. So like I said what we did was, my Driver Claire and I, went to the front of the tank, she got on my shoulders and put a round in the front of the gun. Then I handed her the big stick to push it all the way down the barrel with’

‘This is the part that gets me’ interrupted Wash sniggering.

‘Right so after we loaded the thing Claire would jump off my shoulders climb up on the tank and sight down the barrel using the dots we put on it with the spray-paint can’ I stopped to take a drink.

‘Right’ I continued. ‘So Claire’s looking down the top of the gun saying “left a bit, right a bit” to Mark, who’s still inside turning the turret manually with a hand crank, and when she’s got the thing pointed in roughly the right direction she yells “fire”’

‘Meanwhile I’m standing just underneath the railgun, with all my hair standing on end because of the static field it generates, then when I hear her yell “Fire” I touch two wires together, the bloody thing shoots and the shockwave knocks me flat on my arse’

There were peals of laughter now. Wash was practically crying but still managed to speak up again asking ‘And how many times did you do this again?’

‘We shot better than ninety rounds’ I told him. ‘And let me tell you that girl was getting really heavy towards the end’

Jayne was more interested in accuracy ‘Did you actually hit anything doing that?’

‘Hit anything? Good god we hit every damn thing’ By now I was laughing pretty hard myself ‘We blew a hole in the saloon and the schoolhouse. We knocked down the water tower and the satellite antenna, we knocked the steeple off the church’ I nodded my apology at the Shepard before continuing. ‘We even blew the head clean off the big bronze statue in the town square’

Mal again ‘But did you hit the Alliance soldiers?’ I think that was the Sergeant in him talking but he was still laughing like everyone else.

‘Not unless we knocked a building down on top of one of them we didn’t’ I replied.

Simon stepped in ‘And they were really watching you doing this?’

‘Yes. When Claire and I were loading Mark was looking to see where the last shot went with my binoculars’ I took a deep breath fighting back the laughter ‘He told us that they were watching us with field-glasses too and every time they saw Claire and I had finished loading they all jumped in the nearest trench. After we fired they just got back out of the hole and waited for us to reload again’

Kaylee wanted to know ‘Did you wave or anything?’

I smirked ‘No but Claire pulled open her jumpsuit and flashed them a couple of times and according to Mark they all waved like crazy at us whenever she did that’ I winked ‘A petite woman but everything to scale if you see what I mean’

That was it then. Wash started pounding his head on the table and even Inara the normally restrained companion had her hand over her mouth so as to maintain some decorum.

‘But why didn’t they try to do something about it’ Zoe wanted to know.

‘They did. After a while they sent the APC out after us but when it got within a mile and a half we nearly hit the thing. I guess they decided they didn’t want to get any closer in case we got lucky so they stopped. A few Infantry dismounted and started running towards us but our machine gun still worked so we fired off a couple of belts of ammo which sent them running back to the APC again’

‘You didn’t shoot any of them did you’ Kaylee asked. She had stopped laughing and was looking at me with an expression of concern.

‘No’ I assured her and she was all smiles again ‘By then it was all just too funny a situation for malevolence and I didn’t have the heart to ruin it by actually hurting anyone. All I did was fire over their heads. I guess they thought I was serious though because they got back into the APC and drove back to the town’

‘So then what you do’ asked Simon.

‘Well then I went back to the front of the Excalibur, Claire got on my shoulders loaded the gun and I handed her the big stick’

Everyone starting laughing again.

‘This is a truly wonderful tale’ Book said ‘but I’ve got to ask what happened in the end?’

‘Well eventually I think they got sick of being shot at, and must have thought that eventually we’d get lucky and hit something worth hitting, so sometime late afternoon they all got in the APC and left’

‘And what happened to you?’

‘My crew and I got mentioned in dispatches for showing great initiative in achieving our goal of taking the town from enemy hands’

Everybody started to cheer and applaud so I stood up and took a bow.

‘So what’s become of Claire and Mark since then?’ Inara wanted to know.

I took a deep breath and everyone must have noticed the mirth drop from my face because there was no more laughter.

‘After I made Captain Mark was promoted too and commanded one of the Excalibur’s in my unit. He died in Serenity Valley’

Inara looked mortified ‘I’m so very sorry. I should have thought’

‘No apologies necessary’ I assured her ‘Claire is still alive though’ I said brightening up ‘She made Lieutenant in the end and luckily for her she was slightly wounded in the last battle we fought before the Valley and so she never ended up on Hera. We still see each other on occasion. She lives not too far from Toulouse. I actually named my youngest daughter Claire-Marie for her and my mother-in-law’

Mal put on a commanding tone as the head of the household ‘Okay. You’ve been on the ship for a week and we’ve avoided this so far so tell us about your family’

‘You know he pretends to be a horrible man. But he’s really just a big softy at heart’ Kaylee informed me conspiratorially.

‘I am not a “big softy” I’m damned manly’ Mal responded in obviously mock annoyance ‘Anyhow what about your kids’

‘I think I’ve already told most of you already but I’ve got three in total. Specifically two daughters and a son. Cally my eldest is 10, Claire-Marie’s six and John is two and a half’

‘Which one’s your favourite? Secretly I mean?’ Kaylee asked

‘Claire-Marie because she takes so much after her mother’

‘Hang-on if Cally is 10 that means she would have been born during the war when you were off fighting’ Simon said then immediately shut up when several people made faces at him.

‘Missus probably playing away from home’ commented Jayne grinning. His grin soon disappeared and he shut up fast when I glared at him. Mal looked rather annoyed as well. ‘Didn’t mean nothing by it’ he said to nobody in particular.

‘Despite the dates Cally’s mine and that’s got a story to it too if anybody wants to hear’

Mal signalled for me to continue.

* * *

Stirling Military Base – MacLellan Colony 2509 AD

Newly promoted Captain Steven Hicks got out of the shower put on a towel and leaving the bathroom immediately found that someone had been in his room. His best uniform was laid out on the bed and his boots had been polished to a much better degree than he usually bothered himself.

Captain Thomas knocked the door and walked in.

‘I’ve been told the old man wants to see you and according to the adjutant you’re apparently in deep Tzao gao. Something about granting too many weekend passes to your Troopers’

‘Gorramit Sean I thought I’d already settled that with Major Chen’ Hicks pointed to his bed ‘I’m guessing you got out my uniform and did the boots. Thanks a lot’

‘No problem Steve. I’ve got a jeep outside by the way. Apparently the Colonel is sorting something over at the Drill Hall so I’m to take you to meet him over there’

‘Okay Right. I’ll get dressed and meet you outside’

Five minutes later the Jeep containing the two officers pulled up outside the Base’s oversized drill hall. Hicks had noticed the route had been noticeably free of the usual crowds of Lancers milling about on a normal Saturday morning but he reasoned that the majority might well be sleeping over a hangover. This was the first extended break for re-supply and reorganisation that the 21st had had in a long time so the situation was generally more relaxed than usual.

One mystery that did remain was the presence of two of the Regiments Excalibur Hovertanks just outside the main entrance. Captain Thomas didn’t seem bothered though and the two of them marched up to the door where Thomas halted suddenly and turned to face his fellow officer.

‘You should be made aware now that the crews in each of those Tanks are under orders to open fire if you come back out of these doors either running or alone’

‘What the hell are you talking about Sean?’

‘Don’t say you weren’t warned’ Thomas said and winked before pushing open the big double doors.

Much to Captain Hicks surprised about half the Regiment was lined up in rows with a gap between them stretching to the other end of the hall. It was the sight at the far end that really got him though.

* * *

Transport Ship Serenity – On route to Toulouse – 2519 AD

‘You really had no idea?’ Simon asked.

‘Not a clue. I’m amazed nobody had let slip because everybody was in on it. We just walked in the door and there was the Regimental Chaplain, the Colonel and my Fiancée in a wedding dress’

‘What did you do?’

‘I just stood there stunned and then Sean turns to me and says “You’re about to get married, I’m your best man, and oh yeah remember about the Tanks”’

‘Do you mean to say she arranged all this with the Colonel behind your back?’ Inara asked. ‘That’s amazing’

‘She’s a wilful woman my Jennifer. We were engaged before the war but when I signed up I told her I wouldn’t marry her because I didn’t want to leave a widow. In the end she took the thing completely out of my hands, got in contact with the Colonel, explained everything, hitched a ride on a cargo-ship hauling spare parts from Toulouse to MacLellan and presented me with a fait accompli’

Wash was laughing again ‘Let me get this straight. You had a shotgun wedding with Tanks?’

‘Two 35 tonne flying battle-tanks which can blow a hole in a house at ten miles and can move at up to 200 miles per hour is a damn sight more effective a threat than a shotgun I can tell you’

‘So you married her’

‘Yes. Colonel gave her away. Jennifer had bought the rings along herself. Sean gave a really good speech at the reception afterwards’ I shrugged. ‘We got married’

‘That is one of the most romantic things I have ever heard’ Kaylee was beaming.

‘It brings a warm glow to my heart and a shiver down my spine every time I tell that story. Anyhow the Colonel gave me a week off duty until Jennifer took a ride back to Toulouse and we must have been using the time productively because Cally was born nine months later’

Something had struck Simon and he spoke up with a look of sudden realisation in his eyes ‘I just realised why she’s called “Cally”’ he stated.

‘Mal said you were top 3 percent. She’s called “Cally” because if it wasn’t for those Ex-cali-burs she wouldn’t exist’

‘You actually named your daughter after a Tank?’ Inara asked somewhat taken aback.

‘No my wife did. I didn’t meet Cally until after the war ended. Jenny sent a framed photo of her though’ I paused. ‘I once worked out that at the very moment Cally was born I was leading a squadron of Tanks down the Granite Gorge on Fosters Moon’

‘Wash. If we ever have children, under no circumstances are we to ask this mans wife for advice on names’ Zoe stated seriously.

‘You know Cally really likes the story, she thinks it’s sweet’ I told them.

Mal again ‘You were on Fosters Moon. I was always sorry I missed that one. Got any good stories from there?’

‘A couple, but I’ll save those for tomorrow. I promised River I’d play chess with her tonight’

‘Simon’s too predictable’ she said smiling at her brother before turning back to me ‘Whereas you’re not quite right’ she said happily.

Part III


Thursday, January 8, 2004 1:39 PM


Loved this, and River's comment at the end put a great big smile on my face. Can't wait for the next part, *dong ma*? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 26, 2004 4:01 PM


There really is a giant difference between the first and this one. Not just because it's more lighthearted, but because it feels more real. I liked it very much.

Friday, March 12, 2004 11:52 AM


This is a nice, enjoyable piece bringing the whole crew of Serenity together, much like the family moments in the show. These new characters seem to take the lion share of the attention.


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Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits