Somnambulism - Chapter Six
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

History, Discovery, Purpose


Almost everyone in the 'verse knew that on Hera, in Serenity Valley, the Independents were dealt a crushing blow by the Alliance that all but ended the war. Most history books given to children cover that fact. They also cover that Hera was mostly a neutral planet, were both Browncoats and Unification supporters could go. The interplanetary civil war that tore at the core worlds all the way to the rim had also tore at some families. Hera was where they could go to meet again. Provided they had the leave saved up, and the means to get there. For some, it was a way to meet your enemy face to face. Whatever reason any soldier went to Hera, there was one bar they could go to and not worry about having to fight, or a fight breaking out, or having to break up a fight. The Rusty Hinge was, for all intents and purposes, a dive bar, and most Alliance soldiers steered clear of it. But, should a group come in, the Independents there were known to remain civil. Everyone would have their drinks, and, like as not, the more drinks they had, the more chance they had of drinking together before dawn. The Skirmish at The Rusty Hinge ended all that. A full three years before the Battle of Serenity Valley, there was a lot less bloodshed at the Skirmish, but, enough to ensure that bad blood stayed on Hera from time out of mind. The neutral reputation the planet had so carefully cultivated was gone. What wasn't in any history book anywhere, however, was who started the Skirmish. It had, in fact, been a young corporal who went by the name of Malcolm Reynolds. For all this, the most frightening thing about that evening for Corporal Reynolds was not that he had started a fight that ended in bloodshed. No, something far more disturbing reared its head that night. Something that would haunt him, and the rest of the known 'verse for a full ten years...that is to say, all the way to the present. The night of The Skirmish at The Rusty Hinge was the night that Mal met Rudd. The Skirmish had lasted only 2 days. Basically, since everyone there was on vacation, no one really had that much ammo with them to continue fighting. More and more reinforcements had come in, and, not for the first time, the Browncoats had caught the Alliance with their pants down, and had eventually managed to take the entire planet...One of the few times during the entire war that they could make such a claim. Mal's best friend, Zoe, and buck private who was the toughest person Mal had ever met, had opted to go home to see her parents, who were ill. Against his better judgement, Mal had taken Tracey, another private, along with him. Simply because he had grown tired of turning down the young man's insistent requests. Tracey had it in his head that he was going to pick up a young Alliance officer, hopefully a blonde. Mal had simply wished to see a place where Alliance and Independents got along. God knows, he couldn't even wrap his head around the idea. It was taking that attitude with him that started everything in the wrong direction. A few hot words (mostly while Tracey was in the restroom and therefore, missed what had started things), thrown punches, and eventually, Mal had drawn his service pistol and shot a man. The reason for this was elementary. The Purplebelly had been about to shoot him. The Rusty Hinge cleared out in a hurry. First, shots rang out on the porch, and a few Independents fell. Then around the back, and some Alliance fell. Before long, both sides were taking pot shots at each other from the strangely shaped rock formations that surrounded the bar. Having run out of both his, and Tracey's ammo (Mal had even thrown some rocks) Mal had climbed up on an outcropping to see what he could see. Tracey had wrapped himself in his coat, which was brown. Since there was no campfire, Mal had lost sight of Tracey completely. That wouldn't do, so he stooped low to feel around and find him. He just missed being hit by a metal spike that whistled past him, and lodged itself in the throat of an Alliance soldier that Mal had not seen coming. In the shadows around them, Mal heard a low chuckle. It was deep, and icy. "Who's there?" He asked. There was no verbal response. There was a response however. Someone began to whistle. Mal recognized the song easily enough. It was a favorite on the trail on Shadow. "Red River Valley" Then, there was a verbal response. "Yes! This will be the Red River Valley...But, not yet. Do you know where I've come from, Malcolm Reynolds?" "How do you know my name?" Mal was not generally the sort to be afraid of anything, but, that was being put to the test tonight. Mal had located Tracey with his foot, and had positioned his body between where he though the voice was coming from, and the sleeping man. "I know everything. I know nothing. Where I've come from isn't as important as where you're going. My name is Rudd." With that, a huge form stepped out from behind a rock startingly close to Mal. The moon cleared some clouds just then, and Mal saw something he would never forget. The form's lips were split in the middle and short spikes pinned them back on his face. These wounds looked fresh, but, with flesh that mangled, how could you tell? Mal drew his pistol instinctively. Whatever this thing was, it didn't know he didn't have any bullets. "But, I do know you don't have any bullets, Malcolm." "How? How do you know?" Rudd bent down and sparked a flint, making a fire on a heretofore unseen pile of wood quicker than anyone Mal had ever seen. Mal wished he hadn't. Now, he could clearly see Rudd, and it was something he truly didn't want to see. Rudd's eyes were black, and souless. That is, the one that didn't have the eyelid cut off. That eye had suffered internal hemmoraghing and was quite red through the pupil. "I was special, even before they found me. Found us. I'm the only one. The only one left." Rudd began to weep. Mal had stepped a little closer, but Rudd suddenly drew a huge knife and charged him. Mal staggered backwards, tripping over Tracey. But, Rudd simply ran past them to the corpse of the Alliance soldier he had killed earlier. With one swing of his huge knife, he had hacked off the arm of the soldier and had begun knibbling on one of the fingers. "Blech! Purplebelly doesn't suit me much, Malcolm...Shall we see what Browncoat tastes like?" He took a step in Mal and Tracey's direction. Tracey, as usual, was taking his sweet time waking up. Later, he would tell Zoe that Mal had saved his life that night. Tracey didn't know just how true that was. Unfortunately for Rudd, and very fortunately for Mal and Tracey, Rudd's fire had attracted some unwanted attention. A high pitched whine filled the air. Tracey snapped to attention, immediately looking out over the rock. Mal saw that Rudd didn't know what the sound meant, turned, and roughly shoved Tracey in the opposite direction. The Alliance Shrieker was a heat seeker, as most were, and Rudd's fire had attracted its attention. He had started after the two young men, when the small bomb landed right into his fire and exploded, peppering his face with shrapnel, even as the heat and flash from the explosion all but cooked the eyes right in his skull. He wailed into the night, and Tracey, who had not seen, or even heard Rudd jerked at the sound. "Mal? There was someone back there!" "Not anymore, there ain't." Mal said. He added, under his breath, "Thank God.", and fingered the cross he wore under his coat. That was how Malcolm Reynolds had gotten any information he had on what would become Reavers. Having heard about Reaver behavior, Mal came to know that Rudd wasn't a Reaver, as such. He was a survivor. The Reavers that had attacked him (to Mal's way of thinking) had somehow forced him into becoming them. It wasn't until he saw the same thing in an earlier stage later on that he understood. He never told anyone what had happened that night. He never told anyone that he had started the fight in The Rusty Hinge, either. His mind, unable to completely grasp all it had been shown, had rejected many things out of hand, until the could no longer be rejected. As to why he had never told Zoe, or Tracey, or any of the other Balls and Bayonets Overlanders, he couldn't say. Rather, he could, but...just didn't. So his state of unease quadrupled when he saw that the call for a very well paying job was located on Hera. The call came from The Rusty Hinge.


Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:43 AM




Thursday, November 17, 2005 1:40 AM


what can i say? morbid and creepifying and informative my friend!

Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:22 PM


Oh yowzers, I love this! Great background building up to the start of what looks to be a very shiny story. Can't wait to see what happens next. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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Somnambulism - Chapter Fourteen
It's back...well, this is actually a reposting of a lost chapter. Hey! I just refound it myself!

Somnambulism - Chapter Thirteen
Trap. Hunt. Enemy. Trap

Somnambulism - Chapter Twelve
The Plan, Negotiation, Landing, Hunt

Somnambulism - Chapter Eleven
Wash's Orders, Mal's Revelation, The Other, Captiulation

Somnambulism - Chapter Ten
Mal's Dream. Walt's Problem. River's Regain.

Somnambulism - Chapter Nine
Safety. Recollection. Explanation.

Somnambulism - Chapter Eight
Simon's Dream, Mal's Choice, River's Verdict

Somnambulism - Chapter Seven
Memory, Atavism, Hera

Somnambulism - Chapter Six
History, Discovery, Purpose

Somnambulism - Chapter Five
Malice, Theory, Opportunity