The Blackened Sky

Chapter One

Mal watched as the retreating Rebel ships floated upwards and away from the smoking carnage of Serenity valley. It was heartbreaking, like watching a lover turn their back and walk out of your life never to return. The Gallant, a heavy-transport troop-vessel from Hillditch Sanctuary, ploddingly cut through the air directly above his head and for an instant the sound of battle was replaced with a rushing tornado of air that threw him sideways. He stared up at the ships white belly and the many small emergency lights that blinked stupidly along its hull and raised one imploring hand to it.

Wait!

Come back!

Don't go!

Don't leave us!

The ship angled sideways with the grace of a glacier and started to climb into the sky. Then, like a firework exploding in reverse, the ship was torn apart as thousands of points of light from the surrounding sky congregated upon its head. A fireball engulfed the front of the escaping ship. Series of explosions erupted along the length of its body, travelling from its head to its massive tail. It began to lurch downwards as its engines spluttered and Mal prayed for escape pods to find the time to launch. Instead, only Alliance fighters reeled through the sky around the falling behemoth, breaking away at the last moment as the broken ship belly-flopped onto one of the mountains that formed the walls of the valley and broke into two sections.

The tail section was torn away from the main body of the ship under the force of gravity and began to roll down the mountain side, bouncing off rocky escarpments and gathering momentum until it finally rolled into and over the fleeing rebel forces below. Their own ships were falling out of the sky to kill them. It was judgement from on high.

Choking smoke was blasted up the valley towards Mal's position and he slipped down behind some cover and put his head in his hands. It was over. They were over. The rebellion had been stopped and the Alliance had won. Anyone who had witnessed what had just happened to the Gallant could not fail to realise that God was on the side of the Alliance. Mal fished his crucifix from within the layers of his clothes and held the small piece of golden metal between his thumb and forefinger. He raised it to his lips and shaking mightily, kissed it and begged God for forgiveness, for mercy, for peace.