The rollers were getting ready to crest the hill; at least that is what the scout said. They needed to stop the rollers from cresting because if they did it was all over. An explosion rocked the ground near his position; a little too close to comfort. “Move out!” Mal barked at his squad as missiles lit the sky. “We’ve gotta stop those gorram rollars.”
“Yes, Sir.” His second in command barked back at him. “Hutchins, Yao you’re with me.”
Sgt Reynolds watched as Zoë headed into the hellhole that was this battlefield. Some nitwit had given it the oh so cheerful name ‘Operation Grand Ballroom.’ The sky lit up as the Alliance rained down hell around their position. The ground was shaking as they impacted one after another faster than he could count. He could hear a scream as someone was hit by something; and sent up a prayer that their death was fast. Mal turned to the three soldiers with him in the makeshift command post. “Hold this position. Got it.”
“Yes, Sergeant.” Came from all three of them. A new recruit named Bendis, and two slightly more seasoned soldiers a girl named Lebedev, and a kid who hadn’t started shaving yet by the name of Facciano or something like that. His accent was so thick no one could understand him.
“Hold this position.” Mal emphasized one more time before grabbing a rifle and heading out to try and take out what he could of the Alliance squad behind the rollers. If he could take out their position it would lessen the damage they could do to his squad. Around him he could hear bullets flying; the whining of seekers overhead; and his heartbeat in his ears. He could smell fear in the air; and knew that some of it was his.
A hand grabbed his shoulder and he turned narrowly missing being hit by roller round. “Mal, Mal.”
“Damn it Lebedev; I told you to hold.”
“Mal, wake up. You’re having a dream.”
Captain Reynolds opened his eyes to see Inara standing over him. He looked around he’d falled asleep at the dining table while he was cleaning his weapon. The parts were spread out on their piece of leather; Caroline was drawing with River in the common area before lessons. Wash and Zoë were keeping an eye on them.
“You were muttering in her sleep; something about holding and Lebedev. Who’s Lebedev?”
Mal closed his eyes for a second; he really didn’t want to answer that question. Golensa Lebedev. An interesting woman; the mother of his daughter, he looked over, and caught Zoë’s eye. She nodded knowingly; understanding as only another soldier can. And she knew who Lebedev was; Golensa Lebedev.
Wash looked up and saw the look pass between the two of them. This look he understood; he’d held Zoë many nights when her demons became too much for her to bear alone and she’d woken up shaking, sweating, and sometimes screaming.
“Sorry; I must have dozed off.” Mal ran his hand through his hair.
“Would you like a cup of tea; I was just making myself one.” Inara understood nightmares; she might not have been a soldier. But, she was a companion.
“Thanks.” Mal tried to look casual; but, Caroline coming on board had brought back old nightmares for him. Images he’d been in no hurry to see ever again; and that he’d hoped had been buried forever. “Little one was up last night; nightmares.”
“Mmm…” Inara nodded as she placed the cup of fragrant jasmine tea by Mal and walked over to look at what the girls were drawing.