Objects in Space
Notes Episode information
Credits Details & Cast
Intro "We're all just floating."
Act 1 "She killed them with mathematics."
Act 2 "Maybe I've always been here."
Act 3 "You folk are all insane!"
Act 4 "Some kind of genetic experiment."
It's just an object

While travelling, we don't know where from, to New Melbourne, they get boarded by Jubal Early.


Everything occurs in one day.

Inara tells Early that she has been on the ship a year.


Jubal mentions that he has tracking them since the Feds were tipped off on Ariel. Inara is to be dropped off on New Melbourne in a few days.


Inara tells Early that she has been on the ship for a year. This cannot be true. In Bushwhacked she says she has been on board for 11 months. This occurs before Our Mrs. Reynolds which takes place six months before Trash which occurs before this episode, so Inara has been on board for a minimum of 17 months and probably much more than that.

Transcribed by: Based on shooting script (modifications by me)
Original Air Date: December 13, 2002
Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Richard Brooks
Jubal Early
We're all just floating

We see a small, lonely moon sitting in space. Serenity glides into frame, passing the moon and taking us with it. We are above and behind the ship, and we glide with it a bit, keeping pace.

the top of Serenity as the camera goes THROUGH it, into the labyrinth of wires and pipe and spaceship innards, moving about rabbit-fast, twisting and turning, ending up looking down through a grating at:

River, sleeping.

Cut to EXTREME CLOSE UP on River's closed eyes. There is talk, chatter from every shipmember, like static in her head, rising slowly. The noise builds until --

Man We're all just floating.

--her eyes snap open. That voice could've been in the room with her.

She rises, sits on her bed. She wears a dress, no shoes, seems to be in a slightly dreamlike state. (No huge change there,- but we may do something with the lens occasionally to accentuate that.) Laughter pulls her from her room.

She moves slowly, finds Kaylee and Simon on the couch. Kaylee is lying with her legs (her feet are also bare) over the sitting Simon, innocently intimate. Laughing.

Kaylee You couldn't possibly have -- Simon No, I wish I was lying... I just... (pause)
Simon (cont'd) You know, we'd all just made surgeon. That was it. We were the elite. The world was ours, you know? Kaylee So-so you had to be naked? Simon Naked. Yes. And, uh, on top of the statue of Hippocrates.

(Kaylee laughs)

Can you just picture me? Kaylee What, naked?


Oh, well, hmm. Let's see. I'm gonna have to conjure up a... Yeah, that's-that's gonna be difficult.

Kaylee laughs again, nudging Simon in the jaw with her bare foot.

Kaylee So, the Feds come? Simon Mm-mm. There were no Feds.


Until I started singing.

Kaylee and Simon are both laughing now.

Kaylee Oh no! What did you sing? Simon This is not funny. This... this is a morality tale about the evils of sake.

River has been watching them the whole time. They suddenly turn to her, the laughter draining from their faces.

Simon (to River) I would be there right now.

And then, oddly, there's a JUMP CUT to the two of them laughing again, as though that moment never happened.
River looks mildly confused, then starts up the stairs

Simon I mean it was... it was... it was either that, or the national anthem. I... reports vary.

They don't seem to realize River is there. River looks confused and upset, and turns to leave.

Kaylee And you don't remember any of this?

River begins walking up the stairs, away from Simon and Kaylee.

Simon (O.S.) I remember talking the Feds out of telling my father. Or-or paying the Feds not to tell my father. I get fuzzy on the aspects.

River comes into the hallway, touching the walls as she goes, looking at her hands. She finds Book and Jayne, also in mid- conversation. Jayne is cooking scallion cakes on the griddle. Book is at the table.

Jayne (O.S.) So like, never?

Book and Jayne are making themselves a meal in the kitchen. Jayne is at the grill, with a towel tucked into his belt like an apron.

Book Well, no. Jayne Not ever never? Book Some orders allow Shepherds to marry, but I follow a narrower path. Jayne But, I mean, you still got the urge. They don't... cut it off, or nothin'? Book Mm, no, I'm more or less intact. I just direct my energy elsewhere. Jayne You mean like masturbating? Book I hope you're not thinking of taking orders yourself. Jayne Oh, yeah, that'll be the day.

During all this, River wanders unnoticed right between the two of them. She turns to look at Jayne, who looks back guiltily.

Jayne I got stupid. The money was too good.

Startled, River slowly turns to Book, who is looking away from her.

Book (deadly) I don't give half a hump if you're innocent or not.


So where does that put you?

JUMP CUT back to reality -- the men are laughing, Book still sitting, and River has walked between them unnoticed. She heads to the foredeck hall as the men continue:

Jayne It ain't impossible! Saint Jayne, it's got a ring to it. Book I'm just trying to remember how many miracles you've performed. Jayne I once hit a guy in the neck from 500 yards with a bent scope. Don't that count upstairs? Book Oh, it'll be taken into consideration. Jayne (O.S.) You made that sound kinda ominous.

River moves into the foredeck hall, is about to turn right when she sees Wash and Zoe on the bridge. The door is half shut and they are a ways away, but she is suddenly awash in their energy.
Which is different than anyone else's, seeing as how Zoe is sitting on Wash's lap, facing him, smooching him.
Their clothes are on, (it's the bridge, already), but though they are playful, their energy is intense, their eyes locked. We see them as River feels them, VERY CLOSE up, wide angle lens roving around them, sweat and smiles and the sound of the ocean, waves breaking as River nearly staggers back with it, suddenly perturbed to be in that intimacy.
She moves away, hugging the wall, down into:

And now she's coming down the steps as Mal and Inara are in quiet conference at the entrance to her shuttle.

Inara I've put out a few waves to some old acquaintances -- I may even be able to find something in New Melbourne, if you need the shuttle free. Mal Only thing you're gonna find in New Melbourne is fish and fish related activities. Unless you got an overwhelming urge to gut sturgeon -- and who hasn't, occasionally -- Inara But it's a layover point for almost every planet this side of the system, and I could... I just don't want to draw this out. Mal You decided when you're gonna tell the others? Inara I... no. I appreciate your not saying anything. Mal I don't. So make up your mind.

River appears on the scene, walking down a flight of stairs. CLOSE IN on River's face.

River stops near the entrance. Inara looks at her, says:

Inara I'm a big girl. Just tell me. Mal None of it means a damn thing.

That ocean noise again, and River looks pained, nothing is as it should be here, she stumbles down the steps in a jumbled series of jump-cuts...
She walks along the floor of the cargo bay, steps on something.

Steps on a branch. She gingerly steps off it, then bends over to look at it, her head coming into frame, staring.

ANGLE: FROM HIGH ABOVE we see the entire cargo bay floor around her is littered with branches and leaves.
She picks up the branch. It's smallish, curved to fit well in her hand.
She studies it, uncertain.

River It's just an object.

(looks up)

It doesn't mean what you think.

She smiles comfortingly --

Jump-cut to reality -- Simon and Kaylee are standing in front of her, yelling -- Mal yelling as well from above...

Simon River, you know that's not to be touched... Kaylee Everybody just be real calm already -- Mal Get it away from her -- Simon Just put it down!

River looks confused at the sudden cacophony. Looks down in her hand -- and there is a BIG DAMN GUN in it. Pointed at Simon and Kaylee, the latter of whom looks shit-scared.

River lowers the gun, looking grouchily confused, as Simon comes to take it from her. She looks over at Kaylee, who fades out to the passenger dorm, unable to deal.

River Kaylee? Simon What were you thinking? How did you get ahold of this? River It was in my hand. Mal (O.S.) I'm not mad. Just let me...

Mal steps into frame and grabs the gun from River's hand.

Mal Thank you.

(removes clip from gun)

Fully loaded, safety off. This here's a recipe for unpleasantness.

(to Simon)

Does she understand that? River (turns to Mal) She understands. She doesn't comprehend. Mal Well, I'm glad we've made that distinction. No touching guns. Okay? River No touching.

River moves quickly to exit the cargo bay.

Simon River... River It's getting very, very crowded!

And she's out. Mal looks at Simon.

Mal Thought she was on the mend. Simon Uh, her... her medications are erratic. There's-there's not one that her system can eventually break down, and -- Mal When want a lot of medical jargon, I'll talk to a doctor. Simon (beat) You are talking to a doctor. Mal Yeah, okay, my point is could've been you she might have shot just then. The doctor, as you just made note of. And who exactly could fix you? Not nobody. We're deep in space, corner of No and Where. You take extra care with her, 'cause we're very much alone out here.

Serenity continues on, as the camera comes around to see that there is another, smaller vessel RIGHT behind and above it. Sleek, quiet.
They're not so much alone out here.


Act 1
She killed them with mathematics

We move in on the smaller craft as it hugs Serenity's wake. Move in closer to see the windshield, and a single figure inside the cockpit. (It's way too small to be called a bridge -- if Serenity is a family van, this is a Harley.)

He's called Early, and for the next while, he will say not a word. He merely goes about his business with quiet, intense efficiency. His business is hunting.
He watches the ship below him as readouts come over the windshield 'screen'. Among them:
-- Serenity heat scanned with infrared, showing a small model of the ship with heat signatures indicating where everyone is.
-- A blueprint of Serenity that shows her layout, names the rooms, shows points of egress, lists components and operating systems
-- A graph of two lines coming together that then flashes: TRAJECTORY SYNC COMPLETE. LOCKED ON TO FLIGHT PATH.

While he works the controls beneath these readouts, the camera pans over to see a picture stuck to the hull near his head. A picture of River -- the one the Blue hands sported in the Train job. Around it is a warrant showing River with the legend, FUGITIVE, and at the bottom, REWARD 200,000 CREDITS, Alliance Bond Standard. WANTED ALIVE.
There's also a picture of River and Simon, and a beat up picture of an older black woman with a dog on a lawn.
Early takes the first picture of River off the wall, stares at it a moment, returns it. Then slips out of his seat.

Wash is at the helm, Zoe beside him. He's talking, but also concentrating on his readouts.

Wash Little River just gets more colorful by the moment. What will she do next? Zoe Either blow us all up or rub soup in her hair, it's a toss up. Wash I hope she does the soup thing. It's always a hoot and we don't all die from it. Zoe That poor kid... Wash (looking at screen) Yeah, she's definitely... got...funny. Zoe Something wrong? Wash I'm just getting a weird heat bounce off our wake. Zoe Engine flux? Wash Sensor probably got turned around. I'll climb up top when we hit land.

Over this last exchange, Jayne and Mal enter, talking.

Mal The lockers were sealed. We both know -- Jayne I don't leave my guns around, Mal. And I don't leave 'em loaded. Mal Well somehow she got her hands on your hardware. Suppose she took up something with hull-piercing bullets? Jayne Bullets is soft lead, Mal. Even Vera could barely breach hull and she's the best I got! Anyhow, let's direct this conversation in a not-Jayne's- fault direction. I didn't make her crazy. Hell, I didn't want her on the damn ship. Mal (in his face, quiet) Is that the direction you want this conversation to go in?

Jayne looks guilty, covers...

Jayne I just don't like taking a lashing for what I ain't the cause of. Zoe Where's River at now? Mal In her room., which I'm thinking we bolt from the outside from now on. Wash That's a little extreme, isn't it? Jayne Anybody remember her coming at me with a butcher's knife? Wash (remembering fondly) Wacky fun... Jayne You wanna go, little man? Wash Only if it's someplace with candlelight. Zoe Sir, I know she's unpredictable. But I don't think she'd harm anyone. Jayne ("Hellooo...") Butcher's knife... Zoe Anyone we can't spare. I mean, far as we know, the girl's never even picked up a gun before. Kaylee That ain't so.

She's standing in the doorway, looking upset. They give her their attention.

Mal Kaylee, you got something to say?

She looks at him, not sure where to start.

We are close on Early's ship, near the bottom as a door slides open and he glides out. Pushes a few keys as it shuts, then looking down, steadies himself a moment --
And pushes off, floating down toward Serenity. We pull out wide to show the three objects: The big ship, the smaller ship, and the tiny man floating rapidly from one to the other.
Close on the top of Serenity as he hits the top, landing gently as possible. He walks, slowly and deliberately, pulling his feet up with the slight effort of disconnecting magnets. Walks to the window. Very slowly, looks in.

We see his head -- briefly -- by the fore window, looking in at the group that contains everyone save River.

Kaylee It was when... when the Captain and Wash got took by Niska. Mal Ain't like to forget that any time soon. Kaylee Well, we all went in, me too... Didn't make much account of myself, I'm afraid. Mal (touches her head) I got no problem with the notion of you not killin' nobody, Kaylee. Simon What's this got to do with River? She wasn't even in that fight. Kaylee Well, no, she was. I got pinned down, there was three guys and I couldn't... and then River comes up and she looks out, sees 'em all. They was spread out, you know, had some cover, but she just looked for a second and... She took my gun. Closed her eyes. Killed 'em. Simon She shot them?Kaylee All three dead in an instant. With her eyes still closed. Jayne Well that's fay-fay duh pee-yen狒狒的屁眼
a baboon's ass-crack
. You saw it wrong.
Kaylee Not a jot. And it weren't autofire, or luck... she just... she just did the math. Zoe You understand how that sounds... Jayne What? She killed them with mathematics, what else could it have been. Kaylee You couldn't've done it, Jayne. Nor you, captain; not nobody can shoot like that that's a person. Simon So River's not a person?

As they continue, the camera moves suddenly down to the floor, THROUGH the floor, pipes and wires visible, to the ceiling of:

Where River is standing directly below them, feet on the railings of the catwalk, ear as close to the ceiling as she can get, hearing every word. Or sensing them.

Kaylee (O.S.) Please don't be mad... Simon (O.S.) I just want to understand what you're saying here. I thought River was your friend.


Kaylee She is. But Simon... the way she... right after, she looked at me and smiled, like nothing was wrong. Like we were playing.

(to the group)

Scared me.

There's a moment, as the group takes this in.

Book Could be she saved your life, Kaylee. Kaylee I'm all aware of that, I'm not trying to -- Simon She probably didn't even know what was going on! Thought it was a game. Jayne Later on you can explain to me how that's a comfort. Might have to use some'a that math we been hearing about... Mal (running over Jayne) What we got here to deal with is the larger issue. And the larger issue is we got someone on board this ship might be a danger to us.

Now the camera moves UP, again through pipes and wires, through hull, to:

Where Early kneels, holding a listening device to the hull. The voices are coming through, somewhat static-y.

Mal (O.S.) It's not a question of whether we like her... some of us have grown attached...


Mal Kaylee, I know you have or you'd've spoken up sooner, which by the by you should have. I find River pleasant enough myself. But she's got an oddness to her, and it ain't just her proficiency with fire-arms. Girl knows things she shouldn't. Things she couldn't. Jayne Are you saying she's a witch? Wash Yes, she's a witch, Jayne. She has had congress with the beast. Jayne She's in congress? Wash How did your brain master human speech? I'm just so curious. Inara Bee-jway, neen hen boo-tee-tyeh duh nan-shung闭嘴,您很不体贴的男生
Shut up, you inconsiderate schoolboys
! This isn't a joking matter. This is about your -- about our lives. And River's.
Mal Thank you. Simon She's deeply intuitive, it's true she has a -- Mal I don't think she's just intuitive, Doctor. I think she's a reader. Zoe Psychic? Wash Is that even remotely possible? Mal (to Simon) You tell me. You been studying what they did to her. Simon They've definitely altered the way she reacts to things, even the way she perceives... but I'm not... Wash Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction! Zoe You live in a spaceship, dear. Wash So? Jayne (suddenly more uncomfy) Back up a sec. You're saying she might really read minds? Mal Or near enough. Am I the only one thinking along those lines? Book No. Jayne I don't like the idea of someone hearing what I'm thinking. Inara No one likes the idea of hearing what you're thinking. Book The alliance could have any number of uses for a psychic. Zoe A psychic or an assassin... Simon She's just a kid.

His voice is quiet, but it stops them.

Simon (cont'd) She just wants to be... a kid. Mal I wish it were that simple. Jayne Yeah, and if wishes were horses we'd all be eatin' steak. What do we plan to do about this? Mal Well, that's the question. Simon I don't think she'd ever hurt any of us. Mal Maybe you're right.

He looks around, at all of them.

Mal (cont'd) Well, I ain't making a decision on anything till I've thought on it awhile. It's late.

Simon turns and goes quickly out the back. Kaylee follows.

He is rounding the corner as she stops him.

Kaylee Simon -- Simon I gotta go check on my assassin. Kaylee Simon please don't be mad at me. I had to say something.

He turns to her.

Simon I'm not mad at you. I just... she loves this ship. I think it's more home to her than any place she's been. Kaylee What about you? Simon I'm... I thought the hospital was home. I was really making a difference there... and embarrassingly large stacks of money, and I could've... I would be there right now if she hadn't... if they had just left her alone. Kaylee Is it so bad here? Simon I don't even know if the captain'll let us -- Kaylee No, but, isn't there anything about this place you're glad of?

He looks at her. Something passes between them, something that draws them closer --

Book G'night, you two.

He passes right through the moment and blows it completely. Simon and Kaylee go back to being awkward.

Simon Uh, I -- Kaylee No, yeah -- Simon Good night. Kaylee Don't let the space bugs... bite...

He goes. She looks after him, feeling like the queen of Lame- donia. A beat, and she heads into the engine room, muttering:

Kaylee (cont'd) Space bugs...?

It's later, and the Captain sits alone. He thinks a moment, then exits, killing the lights.

He goes to his door and kicks it in, starts climbing down. The camera moves away from him to the exterior hatch Simon and River used in Bushwacked.

It opens.
Early comes quietly down, looking about him. Pulls off his helmet. And pulls out his gun.


Act 2
Maybe I've always been here

Early looks around the hall. No one around. He holsters his gun, moves back to the hatch, puts his helmet in there and seals it shut.
He comes back into the hall and Bumps into Mal, who's headed back to the dining room. Mal is completely taken by surprise -- and Early is a blur, a little bit ninja as he pops Mal in the throat to keep him from screaming, gets in close and punches a nerve cluster in Mal's back, Mal pushes him off and swings, connects only glancingly --

Zoe stirs - - is something going on upstairs?

Early slams his foot into Mal's face, slamming the back of his head into his own ladder, Mal starts to drop -- and Early shoots forward, GRABS him by the shirt, keeping him from falling.

Zoe rolls over. Nothing.

Early lowers Mal gently into the room, letting him drop the last of the way, unconscious. Closes the door from above.

He goes to the com and locks the rooms from the outside -- this involves punching buttons by the com and hitting some graphics, the legend PRIVATE QUARTERS LOCKED coming up and a little red light appearing over each door. Except Kaylee's. He comes to Kaylee's room and the door is open.

He listens a moment -- nothing - then looks down the length of the ship.

Kaylee is lying on her back, working under the engine. She yawns, goes back to work -- hears something.

She sits up, looks out into the dark of the hall. Maybe a little unnerved. It's dark in here, most of the light comes from the lamp she's working by, and the hall itself is pitch.

Kaylee River...?

She stands, looks. Nothing.
She turns back to the toolbox, squats down to toss in a part, comes back up and Early is RIGHT behind her, she spins to see his face staring impassively inches from hers.

She gasps, stumbles back. She's up against the wall here.

Early I like this ship.

She says nothing. Looks frantically around.

Early (cont'd) Serenity. She's good-looking. Kaylee How did you get on...? Early It strains the mind a bit, don't it? You think you're all alone... Maybe I come down the chimney, Kaylee, bring presents to the good girls and boys. Maybe not, though.

He comes closer to her. She shrinks closer to the wall.

Early (cont'd) Maybe I've always been here. Kaylee What do you want?

He looks at the turning engine, mesmerized.

Early That's her beating heart, isn't it? You pull off any one of a thousand parts, she'll just die. Such a slender thread...

(still looking at the engine)

Have you ever been raped?

A small beat --

Kaylee The captain's right by -- Early The captain's locked in his quarters. They all are. There's nobody can help you. Say it. Kaylee There's... there's nobody can help me. Early I'm gonna tie you up now. And you know what I'm gonna do then?

(she can't answer)

I'm gonna give you a present. Get rid of a problem you've got. And I won't touch you in any wrong fashion, nor hurt you at all, unless you make some kind of ruckus. You throw a monkey wrench into my dealings in any way, your body is forfeit. Ain't nothing but a body to me, and I can find all unseemly manner of use for it. Do you understand. Kaylee (tiny voice) Yes. Early Turn around and put your hands behind your back.

She slowly does, terror on her face, as he pulls out a thin roll of tape. Pulls a strip out, says:

Early (cont'd) Now tell me, Kaylee... where does River sleep?

Book exits the bathroom, in his sleepwear, towel over his shoulder, kit in hand. It's dark here as well, though there are safety lights enough to keep one from bumping into shit. Book heads for his room, hears something at the top of the stairs. Turns back that way, looks up.

ANGLE: up the stairs -- is complete blackness.

Book Hello?

Nothing. He turns to go, hears another sound. Starts up the stairs, merely curious.

Early SLIDES down the handrails on both hands, shooting down at Book with both feet out, catching the shepherd in the face at two steps up, sends him flying back as Early lands gracefully by him.

Wakes, hearing the thumps. There is silence after, but he's not satisfied. He climbs out of bed (he's just wearing. drawstring pants) and opens his door, looking out at:

ANGLE: the hall where Book got slammed -- is now empty. Simon looks 'around for a sec -- then crosses to River's room to check on her. He slides the door open --


Simon River...

He comes back into the hall, stands between the two bedrooms, not sure what to do... and the camera finds Early PERCHED on both ladders above him, almost spider-like.

Simon almost has time to look up as Early drops, lands straddling Simon's head, holding the ladders and swinging the doctor up and SLAMMING him to the ground.

Simon's in pain, but Early comes over him and Simon GRABS him, throws him as he himself gets up, ready for a fight -- but Early comes up with his weapon pointed at Simon.

Early Doctor Tam, why don't you sit yourself down? Simon Rather die standing. Early The intention is not for you to die. The warrant doesn't specify any particular need for you to be alive, but...

Early waves the gun. Backed into the curved corner of the hall, Simon sits on the steps. Early peers into the rooms.

Early (cont'd) Where's your sister? Simon Are you Alliance? Early (not understanding) Am I a lion? Simon What? Early I don't think of myself as a lion.


You may as well, though: I have a mighty roar. Simon I said "Alliance". Early Oh. I thought -- Simon No, I was... Early That's weird.


Where's your sister? Simon I don't know. Who do you work for? Early This is her room. Simon Yes. Early It's empty. Simon I know. Early So is it still her room when it's empty? Does the room, the thing have purpose? Or are we... what's the word... Simon I really can't help you. Early The plan is to take your sister, get the reward, which is substantial. "Embue". That's the word. Simon So you're a bounty hunter. Early That ain't it at all. Simon Then what are you? Early I'm a bounty hunter. Name's Early. I'm known to some. She sleep with anybody? Simon River? Early Yeah, she grapple with any of the crew? Might be in their quarters? Simon No! Early Maybe she does that you don't know about. Simon This is insane. I'm not gonna help you find her in any case.

Early holds up his gun -- not pointed at Simon, just observing it.

Early I think this is very pretty. I like the weight of it. Simon I thought the intention was not to kill me. Early You're missing the point. The design. Of the thing. It's functional. The plan is not to shoot you, the plan is to get the girl. If there's no girl, then the plan... well, it's like the room. You are gonna help me look for her. Simon I don't think my last act in this 'verse is gonna be betraying my sister. Early You're gonna help me because every second you're with me is a chance to turn the tables, get the better of me, and it's the only chance your sister has. Maybe you'll find your moment. Maybe I'll slip. Or you'll refuse to help me, I'll shoot your brain out, and then I'll go upstairs and spend some time violating the little mechanic I got trussed up in the engine room. I take no pleasure in the thought but she will die weeping if you cross me. Simon (quietly) You're out of your mind. Early That's between me and my mind. Let's start with these rooms.

ANGLE ON: Book, whose unconscious form is slumped in the other hallway. Simon (having grabbed a shirt) comes upon him quickly, checking to see he's not dead.

Early (cont'd) He's not killed. Be a while before he comes to, but he'll mend. Simon And which part of your plan dictated the necessity of beating up a Shepherd? Early (scornful) That ain't a Shepherd.

The infirmary doors open. Simon steps in, Early behind, gun still held on the doctor.

Simon She wouldn't come in here anyway. She hates this room. You see, Early, the people you're planning to sell her to cut up her brain in a lab like this. Tortured her. Teen-age girl. Not some bandit on a murder run, just an innocent girl -- Early You ever been shot?

A small beat.

Simon No. Early You oughta be shot, or stabbed, lose a leg... to be a surgeon. You know? Know the kind of pain you're dealing with.

What seemed like a threat becomes more like a distant observation -- not that Simon is particularly comforted by this.

Early (cont'd) They make Psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed before they can get certified, but they don't make surgeons get cut on. That seem right to you?

Simon has no answer.

The two of them enter the big, darkened bay. Early pulls out a small, powerful flashlight, shines it about. The locker with the spacesuits is near him, and the door is ajar. He moves to it -- swings it open, gun at the ready. It's empty (except for a couple of spacesuits).

Early steps into the middle of the room, looks about at it. He motions with his gun for Simon to go upstairs. Heads up after.

Simon Come on out, River, the nice man wants to kidnap you... Early Shhh.

They reach the landing. Early looks at the walls, holds his arms out, moving them up parallel to the slanted walls.

Early I like the way the walls go out. Gives you an open feeling. Firefly's a good design. (pause)
People don't appreciate the substance of things. Objects in space. People miss out on what's solid.

Simon stands by him, unnoticed. He could just give a little shove... he begins to lean forward --
-- and Early's gun is in his face, Early not even looking at him.

Early (cont'd) It's not your moment, Doctor.

Simon takes a step back. Early points his light at Inara's shuttle.

Early (cont'd) Companion lives there? Simon Yes. Early (pointing at both shuttles in turn) We'll try the empty first. Then we'll pay her a visit.

Simon steps out of the empty shuttle, Early behind, moving a little faster.

Early That room's not saying a damn thing.

They get halfway to Inara's -

Early (cont'd) Hold it.

He stops by one of the catwalk's support beams - looks very closely at it. Sticks out his tongue and touches the end of it to the pole. Pulls back thoughtfully, as though he has learned something profound.

He motions for Simon to go on.

Inara is sitting up in bed. Simon stands near the entrance of the room, looking tense. Inara, vulnerable and more than a little confused, looks from him to Early, who is peeking in the back room, gun trained steadily on Inara.

Inara This is pointless, you know that. Early Two hundred thousand seems fairly pointed to me. Money like that, I could retire, not that I would. What's life without work? Inara Serenity is a smuggling ship. I've been here a year, I couldn't name all the places she might hide. Early I don't have a year.

(to Simon)

Your sister's becoming a real annoyance. Simon I feel for you.

He heads to the exit, herding Simon ahead of him, talking to Inara.

Early I'm not gonna waste my time threatening you, because I think you believe that I will kill people if someone upsets my plan. I'm gonna seal you in, though. You just sit. Inara You can still walk away from this. I know you're tired.

He violently pistol-whips her, pointing the gun back at Simon as she feels the blood on her lip.

Early Don't go visiting in my intentions. Don't ever.

He moves to the entrance. Before he shuts the door:

Early (cont'd) (to Inara) Man is stronger by far than woman. But only woman can create a child. That seem right to you?

He shuts the door on her.

Simon comes up the stairs from the front of the bridge while Early stands at the very front, looking down into the space, gun trained on Simon. He steps over to the middle with Simon, his manner tenser and the gun held with both hands at arms length.

Early (calls out) All right! That's all the hide and seek I got time for!

Mal stirs, the voice barely reaching him.

She does the same.

He's sleeping right through it.


Early Now I know you're on this ship, little girl, so here's how this goes!

He points the gun at Simon's temple.

Early (cont'd) You show yourself, and we finish this exchange, or your brother's brains'll be flying every which way.

(to Simon)

You understand, I'm sort of on a clock here, it's frustrating -- River (O.S.) You're wrong, Early.

He looks around, what the fuck -- but realizes she's just coming over the com.

He speaks in a more normal voice, knowing she can hear him.

Early I'm not wrong, dumpling. I will shoot your brother dead if you don't -- River (V.O.) Wrong about River. River's not on the ship. They didn't want her here, but she couldn't make herself leave, so she melted. Melted away.

He is hearing this also, and is more than a mite confused.

River (V.O.) They didn't know she could do that... but she did.

Even Wash is waking up... as Early's voice also sounds on the general com.

Early (V.O.) Not sure I take your meaning there...

The two of them look at each other.


River (V.O.) I'm not on the ship. I'm in the ship.

Simon looks almost as perturbed as Early.

River (V.O.) I am the ship. Simon River... River (V.O.) River's gone. Early Then who exactly are we talking to? River (V.O.) You're talking to Serenity. And Early... Serenity is very unhappy.

Early looks over at Simon, a bit freaked. Simon just shrugs. What are you gonna do?


Act 3
You folk are all insane!

Kaylee is lying on her side, hands tied behind her back, legs tied together. She hasn't moved since Early left her, she's so scared. After a moment...

River (V.O.) Kaylee?

The voice is quieter, more intimate - this is not being broadcast for the public.

River (cont'd; V.O.) Kaylee, can you hear me? Kaylee River...? River (V.O.) Don't be afraid. Kaylee (near tears) He tied me up... I don't know where he came from, he just... River (V.O.) It's okay. Gonna be okay. Kaylee I told him where you were, I'm sorry, I didn't know what -- River (V.O.) Sshhhh... I'm fine. Only I need you to do something for me. Gotta be brave. Kaylee I'm tied up, I can't -- River (V.O.) Got tools. something sharp. Don't be scared. I'm right here.

Early and Simon are very still. After a beat:

Early Where'd she go? Simon I can't keep track of her when she's NOT incorporeally possessing a spaceship, don't look at me -- Early That's some nonsensical crap! Ain't nobody can do that.

(to the air)

You're somewhere on this boat Somewhere with a com, playing games.

Her LAUGHTER filters over the com. It's somewhat unsettling.

Early (cont'd) That's somewhat unsettling. River (V.O.) Early, Mister Jubal Early, bounty hunter.... can I call you Jubal?

Okay, freak time. How'd she know that?

Early Ain't nobody calls me that. River (V.O.) Your mother does. I'm sorry. Did. She's gone now. Early That supposed to scare me? Bringing up my mother? River (V.O.) You're a liar. I don't think your intentions are honorable. Early Well, no, I'm a bounty hunter, it's not generally considered honorable so much as... I live by a code, though, which I think is worth -- River (V.O.) You hurt people. Early Only when the job requires it. River (V.O.) WRONG. You're a bad liar. You crawl inside me uninvited and you hurt my crew, I see everything that passes -- Early I only hurt people 'cause they keep getting in the way of finding you!

(to Simon)

Tell her! Simon What am I, your advocate? Early (thrusts out gun) You are starting now. Simon (to River) He's really very gentle and fuzzy, we're becoming fast friends.

She giggles again.

Early You folk are all insane! Simon Well, my sister's a ship, we had a complicated childhood. Early Does anybody care that I have a finely crafted gun pointed at this boy's head? River (V.O.) I care. Early Then are you gonna come out, stop me from doing what I don't want to? You gonna be smart here, River?

There is no answer.

Early (cont'd) River?



He's shaking off the beating he took, pulling himself up.

Mal (groggy) What in the hell is going on here? River (V.O.) I need you to do me a favor, Captain. Mal There was a guy, he was very blurry. You gotta be careful.... how come there's a guy on board and how come you're all of a sudden the ship? River (V.O.) I know you have questions... Mal Yeah, that would be why I just asked them -- River (V.O.) But there isn't a lot of time. Captain, I need you to trust me. Mal Am I dreaming? River (V.O.) We all are.

The captain rolls his eyes.

River (cont'd) (V.O.) Don't make faces.

He looks around. That was creepy.

Kaylee has cut herself free. Tentatively, she goes to the door.

River (V.O.) Are you ready?

The door opens slowly and Kaylee peers out, still very afraid. A moment, then she starts down the hall, hugging the wall.

Early is getting a little more hyper. He moves to the computer screen, working it with one hand while keeping the gun loosely on Simon.

Early Just gotta think here... These older models got locators at all? Simon Won't help... Early (turns to Simon) You know, with the exception of one deadly and unpredictable midget this girl is the smallest cargo I have ever had to transport and yet by far the most troublesome. Does that seem right to you?

Early turns back to the screens.

Simon What'd he do? Early Who? Simon The midget. Early Arson.


Little man loooved fire.

Kaylee peeks out around the corner. She can just see a piece of Early. She ducks her head back, then braves it, comes around and works the console.

The red light over Mal'S room goes out.

Kaylee bolts down toward the cargo bay.

They are talking with River's voice.

Zoe I can take this guy out. River (V.O.) He's faster than you. All of you. And he's wearing armor. Wash What about his face? Is his face wearing armor? River (V.O.) No touching guns.

He is standing right under his ladder, waiting.

River (V.O.) It's soon now. Are you ready? Mal How do you know what this guy's gonna do? River (V.O.) I'm very close to him. He doesn't even see it. Mal Okay, but -- River (V.O.) Go. Now.

The lights go completely out in the bridge and the hall. We may or may not see Mal scrambling up his ladder and disappearing around the corner in the far background as Early looks around, NOT seeing him.

Now Early's very freaked.

River (V.O.) You're not welcome here anymore, Early. Early And you think I'm gonna leave here empty handed? River (V.O.) I know it. Early Yeah, you know me real well. River (V.O.) Wish I didn't. You like to hurt folk. Early It's part of the job. River (V.O.) It's why you TOOK the job. Power. Control. Pain. Your mother knew. Sadness in her when she waved goodbye, but she's relieved. Saw darkness in you. You're not well. Early You'll be wanting to shut up now. River (V.O.) Big golden retriever, sitting on the lawn. Never took to you. Smell on you, the neighbors pets, you did things to 'em... cleaned up after. Shined and polished. Everything in here gleams.

Realization dawns on Early.

Early Well I'll be a son of a whore. You're not in my gorram mind. You're on my gorram SHIP!

We push in on River, who is in fact sitting in the pilot's seat of Early's ship, spacesuit on and helmet off. She is giggling again.

River It's very interesting. All these buttons...


Early Okay, we're not touching those, okay?

(to Simon)

How the hell did she get on my ship? River Put the gun away. Early (not putting it away) Okay, I'm putting it away... Simon No he's not.

He glares at Simon. Puts it away.

Early I'm putting it away 'cause we're all reasonable people, don't want to be doing anything rash, fiddling with any dials. River You're not right, Early. You're not righteous. Got issues. Early No! Or, yes, I could have that, you might have me figured out, that... good job, I'm not a hundred percent. River Talk too much. Early I'm flawed in that way, I sometimes go on, it's been said -- River It's okay, Early. I'm going with you.

Now it's Simon's turn to be unhappy.

Simon River, what are you -- River Don't belong. Dangerous. Like you.

While River talks we
They listen in, somber.

Where Kaylee is tending a groggy Book, also hearing this, River's words clearly affecting her.

Simon listens.

River talking.

River (V.O. and live) Can't be controlled. Can't be trusted. Everybody could just go on without me, not have to worry. People could be who they wanted to be, could be with the people they wanted... could live simple. No secrets.

The realization of what she's saying truly hits him.

Simon (quietly) No... River And I'll be fine. I'll be your bounty, Jubal Early. And then I'll just fade away.

Early smiles. Heads for the door.

Early Well, finally something goes according to --

Simon throws himself at him, they clatter to the ground, tussling --

River Simon?

Early throws him off, pulls out his gun -- and fires. Simon's eyes go wide.

River starts screaming.


Act 4
Some kind of genetic experiment

Early stands, looking at Simon, who's shot in the upper thigh. He holds his hand over the spilling wound, face blanching.

Early See? That's what it feels like.

He takes off --

Takes a moment to make sure no one is waiting in the hall --

Early You just hang tight, Darlin'... Early's on the move.

Come down the steps just as Simon launches himself at him, flying, knocking them both down, getting a couple blows in before Early recovers enough to ninja his face.

Early takes off, rounding the corner --

Early comes out the hatch, helmet on. He looks up to see his ship following perfectly, smiles.

Early You made the right move, darlin'. Best for you to go with old Early. Mal You think so?

Early turns awkwardly (magnetic boots) to see Mal, suited up and cabled to the ship, right behind him.

Mal (cont'd) Some of us feel differently.

Mal double palms him in the chest, an inelegant move, but the force of it sends Early flying off the ship, gone, just like that, long gone.

Mal watches him go a moment, then looks up. After a long beat, River floats down to him. He steadies her as she lands. Looks at her affectionately.

River Permission to come aboard? Mal You know, you ain't quite right. River It's the popular theory. Mal Get on in there. Give your brother a thrashing for messing up your plan. River (going down) He takes so much looking after...

(This is possibly a one-er.)
Simon is on the table, talking Zoe through pulling out his bullet. He watches her progress on the screen...

Simon To the left -- your left. Now, very gently, pull that aside. Zoe This is really not my area of expertise, Doctor. I tend to be putting these into people more than the other thing. Wash (to Zoe) Can I mop your brow? I'm at the ready with the fearsome brow mopping. Simon You got the bullet. Okay, I'm gonna pass out for a minute, but you're doing great.

We find Mal and Inara at the entrance, watching.

Mal So we live to fight another day. Inara Any chance the shiong-mung duh kwong-run凶猛的狂人
violent lunatic
might survive?
Mal Air he had left... chance'd be one in about... a very big number. Ain't odds I'd play. How's your lip?

He touches her face to look and she pulls away. They look at each other a moment, and she goes off, into the cargo bay, where we find Book and Jayne coming downstairs to do some weights. (Jayne going first, Book spotting.)

Book I just feel such a fool. Jayne Yeah, all those years of priest training and you get taken out by one bounty hunter. Book Don't get me wrong -- I gave him a hell of a fight. Jayne Epic, I'm guessing. Book There'll be poems and songs, you just wait. Jayne Hey, at least you got some play. I missed every damn thing.

We are moving off them to find, in the corner, the girls, Kaylee and River, sitting in the corner. They are playing, of all things, jacks. It's Kaylee's turn, and she's tellin' a tale, the ease between them returned...

Kaylee And then his folks come by to fetch him, and it turns out he's fourteen years old!

(they both laugh)

I mean, he must have been some kind of genetic experiment, 'cause I swear he was... my daddy whupped me so hard...

She misses --

Kaylee (cont'd) Dyah! I'm at fours. Let's see you match that. River (seriously) --I can win this. Kaylee I'm hearing a lot of talk, genius. Come on. Show me what you got.

River looks at the ball in her hand.

CLOSE ON the ball, as she contemplates it. The solidity of the thing. We might notice it has a similar coloring to the moon we saw at the beginning of the show.

CLOSER STILL as she throws it down, camera goes slowly with it, it hits ground but the camera keeps going down, through the ship one last time, and out the bottom to:

Looking up at Serenity and panning left as she rockets away into the distance.

We see Early, floating, turning slowly in place.

His helmet comes into view, his face amusedly resigned.

Early Well... here I am...

Tiny, alone, he floats.


End of Show