Serenity
Notes Episode information
Credits Details & Cast
Intro "Scary Monsters"
Act 1 "On The Raggedy Edge"
Act 2 "Domestic Troubles"
Act 3 "Make Peace With Your Dear And Fluffy Lord"
Act 4 "I Aim To Misbehave"
Act 5 "Can't Stop the Signal"
Epilogue "Good Answer"
 
 
Notes
Might see trouble before it's coming
Travels:

They land on Lilac and rob the payroll. They then travel to Beaumond to meet Fanty & Mingo. They leave and head for Haven to hide out with Book. They get a wave from Inara asking for help and they travel to Sihnon. After the encounter with the Operative, they travel back to Haven, find it destroyed, and decide to head out to Miranda. After learning the truth, they head back and go to the unnamed moon of Mr. Universe where they fight the Reavers and get the message out.

Time:

The robbery takes place in one day. After the heist, Mal says to Simon "We'll be on Beaumonde in 10 hours' time".

The meeting with Mingojerry and Fantastic Rample, and River's triggering, takes place in one day, travel time to Haven is not specified.

The encounter on Sihnon takes one day, the travel time to there from Haven, and back to Haven is not specified.

The amount of time to prep the ship for its trip through Reaver territory and to get to Miranda is not specified though it appears it's only one afternoon.

Travel time to Miranda is not specified. The events on Miranda take place in one day.

We do not know travel time back to Mr. Universe's moon, events there take one day.

We know that Serenity must undergo repairs, but how long this takes we are not sure, though long enough to have a funeral for Book, Wash and Mr. Universe.

Locations:

The robbery takes place on Lilac. They meet Fanty & Mingo on Beaumonde. They hide out with Book on Haven. They help Inara on Sihnon. They travel to Miranda. They visit Mr. Universe's moon but we do not know where that is.

Chinese:
 
 
Credits
Transcribed by: Me (still working on this)
Release Date: September 30, 2005
Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Tamara Taylor
Teacher
Logan Craig O'Brien
Boy Student #1
Marley McClean
Girl Student #1
Demetra Raven
Girl Student #2
Jessica Huang
Girl Student #3
Erik Erotas
Boy Student #2
Hunter Ansley Wryn
Young River
Peter James Smith
Lab Technician #1
Conor O'Brien
Lab Technician #2
Michael Hitchcock
Dr. Mathias
Chiwetel Ejiofor
The Operative
CeCe Cline
Young Intern
Weston Nathanson
Trade Agent
Chuck O'Neil
Vault Guard
Glenn Howerton
Young tough
Yan Feldman
Mingo Rample (Mingojerrie)
Rafael Feldman
Fanty Rample (Fantastic)
David Krumholtz
Mr. Universe
Nectar Rose
Lenore (the LoveBot)
Sarah Paulson
Dr. Caron
 
 
Intro
Scary Monsters

EXT. SPACE VFX
We see the Earth.
White pops blossom on the surface, and moments later ships huge, intricate space-freighters come roaring from the surface, passing camera with a thunder of gas and flame.

Woman (V.O.) Earth-That-Was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many.

EXT. SPACE
We see a solar system; a sun like our own, surrounded by many more planets than ours, they in turn surrounded by moons.

We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons.

EXT. PLANET (from the air)
We see a terraform station; a bunker-like complex many miles across, air billowing from it, electricity running over it.

Each one terra-formed, a process taking decades, to support human life. To be new Earths.

EXT. PLANET
We see a futuristic megalopolis, gleaming and cool.

The central planets formed the Alliance. Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization.

EXT. PLANET
A desert-like landscape with a few outbuildings in the distance.

The savage outer planets were not so enlightened, and refused Alliance control.

We see the shadow of a LARGE ship crawling across the land towards the buildings.

The war was devastating. But the Alliance's victory over the Independents ensured a safer universe.

During this a woman steps in front of the last image and we see it is on a wall screen in a

EXT. CLASSROOM - DAY
It's a group of twelve-year-olds, serious and well dressed. They sit on their heels under a sparsely elegant tent, small wooden desks with embedded screens in front of them. The tent is on a lawn surrounded by lush foiliage.

Teacher (continued) And now, everyone can enjoy the comfort and enlightenment of true civilization. Boy Student #1 Why were the Independents even fighting us? Why wouldn't they look to be more civilized? Girl Student #2 I hear they're cannibals. Boy Student #2 That's only Reavers. Girl Student #3 Reavers aren't real. Boy Student #2 Full well they are. I heard they attack settlers from space and kill them, and wear their skins and rape them for hours and hours ... Teacher Bai-tuo, an-jing-eedyen 拜托,安静一点
We will enjoy your silence now
! It's true that there are dangers on the outer planets. So with so many social and medical advancements we can bring to the Independents, why would they fight so hard against us?
Young River We meddle.

River is a dark, intense little girl, writing with one hand and "typing" with the other. (Typing consists of holding a long wooden stylus and tapping either end down different columns of chinese characters on her desktop screen.) She is a good two years younger than the other kids.

Teacher River? Young River People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think. Don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right.
We're meddlesome.
Teacher River, we're not telling people what to think, we're just trying to show them how.

Teacher takes stylus from Young River's hands.
She violently PLUNGES the stylus into the River's forehead -

INT. LAB - DAY
And we FLASH CUT to the actual present: a 16 year old River sitting in a metal chair, needles stuck in her skull (one right where the teacher had stuck her) being adjusted by a technician.
A second monitors her brain patterns.

The lab is cold, blue, steel. Insidiously clean.

Lab Technician #1 She's dreaming. Lab Technician #2 Got that? Lab Technician #1 Off the charts. Scary monsters. Dr. Mathias (to Technician) Let's amp it up. Delcium, eight drop.

(to Government Inspector)

See, most of our best work is done when they're asleep. We can monitor and direct their subconscious, implant suggestions. It's a little startling to see at first, but the results are spectacular. Especially in this case. River Tam is our star pupil.

The Inspector is in shadow, but his uniform indicates substantial rank, as does the eagle-crested baton no longer than a ruler that he clutches in one gloved hand. We gradually realize he is Simon.

Government Inspector I've heard that. Dr. Mathias She'll be ideal for defense deployment, even with the side effects. Government Inspector Tell me about them. Dr. Mathias Well, obviously, she's unstable. The neural stripping does tend to fragment their own reality matrix. It manifests as borderline ... Government Inspector (interrupting) What use do we have for a psychic if she's insane? Dr. Mathias She's not just a psychic. Given the right trigger, this girl is a living weapon. She has her lucid periods. We're hoping to improve upon the ...
I'm sorry, sir, but I have to ask. Is there a reason for this inspection?
Government Inspector Am I making you nervous? Dr. Mathias Key members of Parliament have personally observed this subject. I was told that the Alliance's support for the project was unanimous. The demonstration of her powers ... Government Inspector How is she physically? Dr. Mathias Like nothing we've seen. All our subjects are conditioned for combat, but River, she's a creature of extraordinary grace. Government Inspector (softly) Yes. She always did love to dance.

Dr. Mathias looks puzzled

Simon drops to one knee, slamming his baton to the floor.

ANGLE: THE BATON
As the top pops off like a bouncing betty (the grenade), flying up and over Simon and River's heads and then bursting forth in a flat circle of blue energy that bisects the room, flowing through the staff's heads and knocking them out.

Simon rushes to River, gently removes the probes from her head and swabs her, whispering

Simon River, it's Simon. Please, it's Simon. It's your brother.

She begins to stir as a noise moves him to the door, looking out and removing his uniform to reveal an orderly's tunic beneath. River is suddenly next to him. He jumps a little.

River Simon.

(beat as she looks as if she hears something)

They know you've come.

INT. GUARD STATION -
As the guard looks at a monitor. He mostly resembles a secret service man - more bureaucrat than thug. A second man rolls into frame on a chair behind him, also watching the screen.

INT. HALLWAY

Simon We can't make it to the surface from the inside.
Find out.

River begins climbing up the wall just as doors burst open and two doctors pass by, hardly noticing the lone orderly and passing right under River who is up at the ceiling of the corridor, holding herself in a perfect split, feet against the walls and outstretched hand holding the sprinkler for support.

EXT. VENTILATION SHAFT - MOMENTS LATER
Its small, 15 feet by 15 feet. Goes a long way up and a long way down.
One wide hinged window looks in on the hall inside. Simon and River approach with quiet haste.

They slip through the window. Simon shuts it, wedges his baton into the handle as the Security Agents approach. They fire at the glass, but their guns have no effect.

Wind whips River's hair about as she looks up to see a small patch of daylight visible ten stories up. She looks downs and sees intersecting red lines appear many stories below, then another at the floor above that. Security grids activating and coming closer.
Looking up again, she sees the sky blotted out by a small ship that hovers above them.
A gurney-sized section of the ship's belly detaches and drops down ten stoires, cables spooling it out of the ship. It comes to Simon and River and stops suddenly.

Behind Simon a Secuirty Agent is punching the window with all his might.
Simon helps River onto the gurney, then jumps on himself as the Security Agent cracks the glass. The two are whisked up in the gurney, River on her knees, Simon standing beside her holding one of the cables -

Voice Stop.

The image of Simon and River rising up the shaft suddenly freezes

Backtrack.

The image runs backwards, revealing itself to be a recording, until the gurney reaches its starting point.

Stop.

There is a motionless beat. River frozen in that crouch, and he steps through what we now see is a hologram of the event. The Government's man. We'll just call him the Operative.
He is thoughtful, a little removed. A suit too nondescript to be a uniform, too neat to be casual wear. He is in:

INT. INSTITUTE RECORDS ROOM - DAY
- which is long and bare but for drawers of holographic records, a set-up for watching recordings (where the image of Simon and River floats), and a table with computer and chair. The Operative crosses to the table, looks over some papers.

Doctor Mathias storms in, two security men (not the ones from the opening) and a nervous young female intern following. Mathias looks grayer and more gaunt than when we saw him last.

Dr. Mathias Excuse me, no one is allowed in the records room without my express permission. Operative Forgive me, but I prefer to see the event alone, without ... bias. Dr. Mathias (Realizing which recording is being displayed) I need to see your clearance. Operative And you are right to insist.

He places his hand on a computer screen.

Computer Voice Parliamentary override. Full access. Dr. Mathias (Somewhat intimidated) Apologies. An operative of the Parliament will, of course, have full cooperation.

(Looking at the computer's display of the Operative's information)

I'm not sure what ... I see no listing of rank or name. Operative I have neither. Like this facility, I don't exist.
Let's talk about the Tams.
Dr. Mathias I assume you've scanned the status logs ... Operative River was your greatest success. A prodigy. A phenomenon.
Until her brother walked in here and took her from you.
Dr. Mathias It's not quite so simple. Operative I'm well aware of that. Dr. Mathias There was no way that I could ... Operative No. No. Of course. The boy spent his entire fortune developing the contacts to infiltrate this place. Dr. Mathias Gave up a brilliant future in medicine as well. It's madness. Operative Madness? Have you looked at this scan carefully, Doctor? At his face?

(view through hologram seeing Simon's face)

It's love, in point of fact. Something a good deal more dangerous. Dr. Mathias Why are you here? Operative Because the situation is even less simple than you think. Do you know what your sin is, Doctor? Dr. Mathias I wonder if ... Operative It's pride.

Goes to console and brings up the section of the recording where Mathias is talking to Simon

Dr. Mathias (on playback) "Key members of Parliament have personally observed this subject. I was told that the Alliance's support..." Operative "Key members of Parliament." Key.
The minds behind every military, diplomatic, and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic.
Dr. Mathias If there was some classified information that she ... She never spoke of it. I don't know what it is. Operative Nor do l. And judging by her deteriorating mental state, I'd say we're both better off. Secrets are not my concern. Keeping them is. Dr. Mathias Whatever secrets she might have accidentally gleaned, it's probable she doesn't even know she knows them. That they're buried beneath layers of psychosis. Operative You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords. Dr. Mathias Well, unfortunately, I forgot to bring a sword.

The air rings crisply as the Operative pulls out his sword.

Dr. Mathias I would put that down right now, if I were you. Operative Would you be killed in your sleep like an ailing pet?

Mathias nods towards one of the guards.

The agents move. The Operative slices the throat of the one behind him with true grace, thrusting at the second as he's pulling out his gun and pinning his hand. A moment, and the dying agent reflexively squeezes the trigger, shooting his own arm. The Operative pulls out the sword and the agent falls as quietly as the first.

Mathias bolts but the Operative pins him to the wall. He bunches his fingers and jabs the side of the Doctor's spine. Mathias stiffens, suddenly, agonizingly immobile.

The Operative steps back, observes the Doctor's rigid grimace for a moment. Almost ceremoniously, he drops to one knee and holds the blade out to one side, hilt to the floor and point tilted toward the doctor. The Doctor stares at it in horror as his paralyzed body begins to tip over toward it.

The Operative turns toward the terrified intern at the door.

Operative Young miss ... Young miss, I'll need all the logs on behavioral modification triggers. We'll have to reach out to River Tam.

He's almost startled when the Doctor's body drops into frame, slowed suddenly by the sword. It squeaks down the blade, the Doctor unable to cry out, as the Operative whispers to him:

Operative This is a good death. There's no shame in this, in a man's death. A man who has done fine works. We're making a better world. All of them, better worlds.

Mathias is dead. The Operative pulls the sword out as the body rolls over. As he wipes the sword down:

Operative Young miss, I need you to go to work now. I think I may have a long way to travel.

She goes. He approaches River, very close, staring...

Operative Where are you hiding, little girl?

BLACK OUT

 
Act 1
On The Raggedy Edge

SERENITY

... becomes the name painted on the side of a spaceship, with the same in Chinese behind it.

EXT. SPACE, ORBITING THE MOON "LILAC" - DAY

We move away from the ship. The name is on the nose, under the bridge. It sticks out from the body of the ship like a craning neck. The body is bulbous, with propulsion engines on either side and a giant glowing back.

There are two small shuttles tucked in over the 'wings' of the engines. It's not the sleekest ship in the 'verse, to be sure.

As it hits atmo, the propulsion engines take over and she starts to rock a bit, noise filling our ears. Camera comes around the front, at the windows and into the bridge, to see the Captain standing and watching.

At that moment, a small piece of the nose breaks off and goes flying past the window.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Mal What was that? Wash Did you see that? Mal Was that the primary buffer panel? Wash It did seem to resemble ... Mal Did the primary buffer panel just fall off my gorramn ship for no apparent reason? Wash Looks like. Mal I thought Kaylee checked the entry couplings. I've a clear memory of it.

The ship bucks -

Wash If she doesn't get us extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn-through, this landing is gonna get pretty interesting. Mal Define "interesting." Wash "Oh God, Oh God, we're all gonna die?" Mal (over intercomm) This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then explode.

(to Wash)

Can you shave the vector? Wash I'm doing it! It's not enough. Mal Just get us on the ground! Wash That part will happen pretty definitely.

INT. FOREDECK HALL - CONTINUING
Jayne is coming up out of his bunk as Mal passes. He carries a number of rifles and grenades.

Jayne We're gonna explode? I don't wanna explode. Mal Jayne, how many weapons you plan on taking? You only got two arms. Jayne I just get excitable as to choice. Like to have my options open. Mal I don't plan on any shooting taking place during this job. Jayne What you plan and what takes place ain't ever exactly been similar. Mal No grenades. Jayne Huh? Mal No grenades! Jayne Aw!

Zoe enters from the lower level.

Zoe We crashing again? Mal Talk to your husband. Mule prepped? Zoe Good to go, sir. Just loading her up.

(to Jayne)

Those grenades? Jayne Yeah, Captain doesn't want them. Zoe Jayne, we're robbing the place. We're not occupying it.

INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING
There is food left lying on the table. Mal swipes a dumpling from a plate, pops it in his mouth as another jolt rocks him and sends most of the tableware clattering to the floor.

He enters:

INT. AFT HALL/ENGINE ROOM - CONTINUING
The hall leads to the rust-brown chaos that is the engine room. Working around the engine in a forest of wires, sparks and smoke is Kaylee. She passes Mal with a slightly impatient smile as he stands in the doorway, raising his voice above the din.

Mal Kaylee! Kaylee, what in the sphincter of hell are you playing at? We got the primary buffer panel coming right ... Kaylee Everything's shiny, Captain. Not to fret. Mal You told me those entry couplings would hold for another week! Kaylee That was six months ago, Captain. Mal My ship don't crash. If she crashes, you crashed her.

Steam and electricity shoot at him, backing him up.

He turns to see Simon behind him.

Mal Doctor. Guess I need to get innocked before we hit planet-side.

Simon nods, the ship jolting again.

Mal Bit of a rockety ride. Nothing to be worried about. Simon I'm not worried. Mal Fear is nothing to be ashamed of, Doctor. Simon This isn't fear. This is anger. Mal Well, kind of hard to tell one from t'other, face like yours. Simon Well, I imagine if it were fear, my eyes would be wider. Mal Hmm. I'll keep a lookout for that next time. Simon You're not taking her. Mal No, no, this is not a thing I'm interested in talking over with ... Simon She's not going with you, and that's final. Mal I hear the words "that's final" come out your mouth ever again, they truly will be. This boat is my home. You all are guests on it.

He heads down a side corridor that has steps leading down to:

INT. PASSENGER DORM - CONTINUING
Simon is right on his heels as we lead them down the stairs:

Simon Guests? Now, I earned my passage, Captain ... Mal And it's time your little sister learned from your fine example. Simon I have earned my passage treating bullet holes, knife wounds, laser burns. Mal Some of our jobs are more interesting than others.

INT. INFIRMARY - CONTINUING

Simon And you want to put my sister in the middle of that. Mal Didn't say "want." Said "will." It's one job, Doc. She'll be fine. Simon She's a 17-year-old girl. A mentally traumatized 17 ... Mal She's a reader. Sees into the truth of things. Might see trouble before it's coming. Which is of use to me. Simon And that's your guiding star, isn't it? What's of use.

Simon jabs the inoculation needle into Mal's arm. Mal grimaces. The ship rocks again.

Mal Honestly, Doctor, I think we may really crash this time anyway.

They exit the infirmary, Mal headed towards the cargo bay and Simon following.

Simon Do you understand what I have gone through to keep River away from the Alliance? Mal I do, and it's a fact we here have been courteous enough to keep to our own selves. Simon Are you threatening to ... Mal I look out for me and mine. That don't include you less I conjure it does. You stuck a thorn in the Alliance's paw. That tickles me a bit. But it also means I got to step twice as fast to avoid them and that means turning down plenty of jobs. Even honest ones. Put this crew together with the promise of work, which the Alliance makes harder every year. Come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don't push me, and I won't push you.
Dong-luh-mah? Ni cho lyen, yo may yo? 懂了吗?你愁脸,有没有
Are we clear here? Do you have a worried face?

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING
Simon starts up the stairs. As Mal walks on, we tilt up to see the Mule, a four-man hovercraft hanging from chains near the ceiling. Jayne and Zoe are tossing duffle bags into it.

Mal (to Zoe) Zoe, Wash gonna straighten this boat out before we get flattened? Zoe Like a downy feather, sir. No one flies like my mister. Simon River. River I know. We're going for a ride. Mal Hey, little one. Understand your part in all this? River Do you? Mal This is what I do, darling. This is what I do.

(to all)

Let's move, people.

(to Kaylee under mule)

Quit fiddling. Want the boat running smooth when we get back. Kaylee Have faith, Captain. Mal Not today.

EXT. LILAC - DESERT GULCH - DAY
Serenity settles gently down as the cargo bay door opens.

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING
The chains are hoisted back up into the ceiling of the ship. The Mule floats just above the floor, Jayne throwing extra clips in the container next to River in the back.

Jayne Pair of clips in the rear hatch. Mal We should hit town right during Sunday worship. Won't be any crowds. If Fanty and Mingo are right about the payroll, this could look to be a sunny day for us. Simon River, stay behind the others. If there's fighting, drop to the floor or run away. It's okay to leave them to die.

River puts on a huge pair of goggles, looks at her brother.

Mal Doctor, I'm taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you, I will get very choked up. Honestly. There could be tears.

He peels out, leaves Simon fuming. Kaylee sidles up to him...

Kaylee Don't mind the Captain none, Simon. I know he'll look out for her. They'll be back before you can spit.

Simon turns and leaves.

Well, not that you spit.

EXT. LILAC - DAY
We see the town sprawled before us, as the Mule heads in. The town embodies the lives of folk out here: adobe and wood mix with metal and plastic - whatever's on hand to build with. Right now the streets are mainly empty.

EXT. TRADING STATION - CONTINUING
As the Mule pulls up.

Jayne What are we hoping to find here that equals the worth of a turd? Mal Security payroll. Alliance don't have the manpower to "enforce the peace" on every outer-rim planet. They hire out to the private firms, who will not work for credit. They get paid in cashy money, which, once a month, rests here. Jayne Don't that lead back to the Alliance, anyhow? Zoe (as she hitches the Mule) No private firm would ever report the theft of their own payroll. They'd appear weak, might lose their contract. Mal Yeah, we're as ghosts in this. Won't but rattle the floor. Jayne Shiny. Let's be bad guys.

INT. TRADING STATION - DAY
We are in a camera's eye view, right above the door.
The door slams open, Mal and Jayne stride in, Zoe following and whipping her hogleg right at camera without looking. Reverse to see the camera is also a small screen with "Welcome to Lilac" on it for the millisecond before it's blown to bits.

There's mayabe fifteen people in the place: store workers, farm-folk, and a couple dirt-poor kids. It's a combination post-office, general store, bank, and most other things.

Mal Hands and knees and heads bowed down! Everybody, down!

Two men who appear to be farm folk rush Mal and the others. Mal draws on the elder one and he stops dead in his tracks. Mal's gun is long, not unlike Cival War era issue, but very much new in design.

The other tries to tackle Jayne, which is not necessarily a great idea. Jayne clotheslines him so hard he spins right upside-down and Jayne grabs him by the legs and CRACK! - bounces his head right off the floor, knocking him out cold.

Jayne peels up his dirty shirt to reveal a private security uniform.

Jayne Looks like this is the place.

Mal motions for Zoe to open the front door. She does, and River steps in.

ANGLE: River'S BARE FEET - walking slowly among the hunched-over customers as Mal addresses them.

Mal You all wanna be looking very intently at your own belly buttons. I see a head start to rise, violence is going to ensue. Probably guessed we mean to be thieving here, but what we're after is not yours. So let's have no undue fussing.

As he is speaking, Jayne scrambles to the back office, finding the small vault locked.

Jayne She's locked up.

River wanders about, tilting her head as if listening. She stops and turns.

CLOSE ON: a YOUNG TOUGH.

River looks up at Zoe and silently points to the young man. He is slowly reaching for the weapon in his belt.

He finds Zoe's sawed-off nuzzling his cheek.

Zoe Do you know what the definition of a "Hero" is? Someone who gets other people killed. You can look it up later.

He drops his weapon, slides it across the floor.

Mal Big happy family.

Mal moves to the Trade Agent who punches in the code. What opens is a tiny wall safe. Bundles of bills, some scattered coin. Unimpressive. Jayne and Zoe are behind the captian, peering in.

Zoe At last. We can retire and give up this life of crime.

Mal reaches in, pulls a lever and the floor opens, a six foot hole appearing beneath where Jayne is standing, stairs leading to a corridor, all gleaming metal and blue light.

Jayne Hey! Trade Agent You all are Browncoats, eh? Fought for independence? Petty thieving ain't exactly soldiers' work. Mal War's long done. We're all just folk now.

(to guard in vault)

Listen up! We are coming down to empty that vault! Vault Guard You have to give me your authorization password!

Jayne impatiently fires a burst of machine-gun fire down into the hole. A beat...

Vault Guard Okay.

Mal looks at Zoe and they head down into:

INT. VAULT - CONTINUING
Which is as modern as something off the Central Planets. A short corridor leads to a real vault: neatly stacked cash, waiting to be robbed.

INT. TRADING STATION - CONTINUING
We move in on River as something crosses her face. Worry.

EXT. TOWN - DAY
A WOMAN carrying a bucket and her nine year old son are looking at the trading station a few buildings away.

Boy (on street) I'm telling you I heard it. Repeater. Boy's Mother Did sound somewhat like gun blast. Maybe you ought run tell Lawman.

She turns and right by her, in the shadows, is a man.

Mostly. He is hideously disfigured, a combination of self-mutilation and the bubbling red of radiation poisoning. His clothes are rags, his eyes pinpoints of glazed madness.

A blade blurs through frame...

INT. TRADING STATION - CONTINUING
River SCREAMS and flops onto her back, pinned by revelation. Others look at her, concerned, as Jayne makes his way to her.

Jayne What the hell is up? You all right? Zoe What's going on? River Reavers.

INT. VAULT - MOMENTS LATER
Zoe is hauling out the last of five bags as Mal talks to the guard, holding his gun at him:

Mal The leg is good. It'll bleed plenty and we avoid any necessary organs. Vault Guard I was thinking more of a graze. Mal No, you don't want it to look like you just gave up. Vault Guard No, I get that. Jayne (from above) Mal! Mal Every heist, he's got to start yelling my name. Jayne Mal! Reavers! The girl's pitching a fit. They're here or they're coming soon. Mal (to Jayne and Zoe) Get on the Mule.

(to Vault Guard)

Does that lock from the inside? Vault Guard Yes. Mal Get everyone upstairs and you get them down here and you seal it. As long as you got air, you don't open up, you understand? Vault Guard But ...

Mal is in his face, dark and huge:

Mal Get them inside the vault!

EXT. TRADING STATION - DAY
The doors burst open, Jayne and Zoe coming out first, Mal behind with River in hand. She is freaked, in her own space. Jayne and Zoe throw the bags on -

Jayne You see them? Mal Zoe, take the wheel! Jayne Anybody see them?

- and jump on themselves, Mal scanning the area as he hands River up to Jayne's care. As the craft powers up, slowly moving, the young man Zoe kept from trying to pull his weapon bursts out of the station, grabbing the back of the Mule.

Young Tough Take me with you! Mal Get back in the vault with the others.

A Reaver craft ROARS over their heads. It's nearly the size of Serenity. Torn apart, belching smoke - a welded conglomeration of ruined ships, painted for war. Predator, pure. It disappears over the rooftops.

Young Tough I can't stay here! Please! Mal (as he pushes the man off the Mule) It's too many. Move ahead. Young Tough Please!

Zoe's face is set with unhappy determination as she floors it, shooting out and leaving the young man in the dust.

As they move from him, four Reavers jump out of the shadows and grab the young man. Mal unhesitatingly draws his gun. He nudges a lever with his thumb and a cartridge pops back.

Mal fires twice. The young man takes both bullets in the chest, slumps down dead. The Reavers drop him, uninterested in the dead.

EXT. THE EDGE OF TOWN - DAY
As the Mule shoots past the last building, we see a skiff shoot out from behind the buildings of the adjacent street, right abreast of our gang

EXT. THE CENTER OF TOWN - DAY
We see the church as the first ship and an even larger one come to hover over it, Reavers dropping down on cable lines to swarm into it.

A Boot, with metal hooks sticking out of the heel like claws, drops right in front of frame, and the Reaver starts running toward the church as well.

ANGLE: As a woman is dragged screaming inside a dark doorway. ANGLE: A man comes out of his house with a rifle - and a female Reaver dives at him with impossible speed, tackling him.

EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING
The Mule and the skiff are booking through the rocky terrain. The skiff swings closer, but Jayne peppers it with automatic fire and it swings away. There is sporadic return fire.

Mal Faster! Faster! Faster would be better! Jayne How come they ain't blowing us out the air? Zoe They wanna run us down. The up-close kill. River They want us alive when they eat us. Jayne Boy, sure would be nice if we had some grenades, don't you think?

INT. SERENITY: BRIDGE - CONTINUING
Wash is in a frenzy of switch flipping, prepping for take-off.

Zoe (on comm) Wash, baby, can you hear me? Wash We're moments from air. You got somebody behind you?

EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING

Zoe Reavers.

INT. SERENITY - CONTINUING

Wash Ai-yah. Tyen-ah... 哎呀。天啊
Ah, oh God...
Kaylee! Heat her up. We got Reavers.

EXT. SERENITY - CONTINUING
As she lifts off and starts heading toward the others.

EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING

Zoe We're not gonna get to you in time. Wash Keep moving, honey. We're coming to you.

EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING

Jayne Where's my clips? Mal (?) Rear hatch.

The Mule rockets over frame followed hard upon the skiff. A short arrow pins the ammo container shut just as Jayne is going to open it. He tries to pry it loose, stands to get leverage - A harpoon thwinngs through the air from the skiff and SHHNNK! Goes through Jayne's leg. The harpoon grips the leg and pulls - Jayne goes flying off the back of the Mule, Mal just grabbing him as the harpoon line reels slowly tighter -

Mal Jayne!

Jayne grabs the Mule, legs dangling, pulled out between the two vessels as Mal slams a new cartridge into his pistol.

Jayne I won't get ate! You shoot me if they take me!

Mal steadies himself and takes aim, seemingly at Jayne

Well, don't shoot me first!

Mal shoots at the line connected to the harpoon. He misses. He shoots again, and misses again.

Another harpoon shoots out from the Reaver ship and just barely misses Mal as he twists out of the way. He gets angry, aims and shoots again, The line holding the harpoon is split.

The Mule surges forward as Jayne drags on the ground. Mal hauls him in as River bounds into the front to make room.

Mal Get some distance on them.

EXT. ANOTHER PART OF THE DESERT - CONTINUING
Serenity rushes across the desert floor, not much higher off it than the smaller crafts.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Wash You come to the flats, I want you to swing round. We're gonna try a Barn Swallow.

(to Simon)

Simon! Open her up!

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING
Simon is next to the huge sliding doors at the front, hits a couple of buttons. The doors pull open, as the huge ramp beyond them opens down, letting in a rush of wind and light.

EXT. DESERT FLATS - CONTINUING

Jayne: They're closing on us! Mal Those rocks, give them a taste.

EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING
Zoe sees the flats ahead. She veers into some rocks, breaking them loose. The rocks bounce at the skiff and hit an engine, forcing it to veer behind a rise.

Wash (on comm) Okay, baby, we talked this through. Zoe Talking ain't doing. Da jah tzuo sha! 大家坐下
Everybody sit down!

EXT. DESERT FLATS - CONTINUING
The Mule reaches the flats, away from the rocks.

The skiff reappears, far behind but coming fast. Zoe throws the wheel and the Mule comes hard about, fishtailing slightly as it faces the oncoming skiff.

ANGLE: THE SKIFF
As it heads for the Mule -

ANGLE: THE MULE
As it heads for the skiff - and Serenity swoops down out of the sky, bay doors open and comes right up behind it - The Mule swallowed by the bigger ship -

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING
And only its forward momentum keeps it from being squashed as it flies backwards into the bay, narrowly missing Simon and smashing back into the staircase, sparks and people flying -

EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING
Serenity tries to get altitude - but slams right into the oncoming skiff, tearing it apart -

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING
A flaming portion of the top flies in, skids to the floor as small fires erupt from the Mule as well - Simon pulls a lever and jets of CO2 shoot out of the floor.

Simon hits the button to start the outer ramp closing, then runs to the Mule. The CO2 stops and he finds River sitting in her seat, completely unharmed. Zoe is climbing painfully out of the other seat, Mal and Jayne both having been thrown.

Simon River? River I swallowed a bug.

Kaylee runs in to see how everyone is. She goes to Simon.

Kaylee (to Simon) Are you okay? Mal Is he okay?

A bloodied Reaver POPS into frame from under the skiff-top. He lunges for Mal, baring sharpened teeth. Mal spins and draws, fires into his belly as Jayne and Zoe both fire at the same time. The freak takes too long to go down, but down he goes. Dies sitting against the skiff top. Everybody takes a moment to look at each other.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Wash We all here? What's going on? Hello?

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

Zoe No casualties. Mal Anybody following? Zoe Nice flying, baby. Wash That's a negative. Clean getaway. Mal Set course for Beaumonde. First thing, I want this body ...

Simon suddenly punches him in the face, causing Mal to stumble back, and Simon to shake his hand in pain.

Kaylee Simon! Mal You son of a whore. I'm a hair's breadth from riddling you with holes, Doctor. Nee tzao ss-ma? Nee-yow wuh-kai chang? 你找死吗?你要我开枪
Are you looking to die? You want me to shoot?
Simon One simple job! She'll be fine! Mal She is fine! Except for being still crazy, she's a picture of health! Zoe Wasn't for River, we'd probably be left there. She felt them coming. Simon Never again. Do you understand me? Mal Seems I remember a talk about you giving orders on my boat. Simon Well, we're off your boat. Just as soon as River gets her share of the bounty. Kaylee Let's not do anything hasty ... Mal No, shiny! We'll be on Beaumonde in 10 hours' time, you can pick up your earnings and be on your merry. Meantime, you do your job. Patch up my crew.

River is looking at the Reaver.

River He didn't lie down. They never lie down.

INT. FOREDECK HALL - MOMENTS LATER
Mal and Zoe enter from below. They stop by Mal's room.

Zoe No, I think things will glide a deal smoother for us without River and Simon on board, but how long do you think they'll last? Mal Doc made his call. Zoe Yeah. Mal They's as babes in a basket when we took them in. We sheltered them plenty. Man has to cut loose, learn to stand on his own. Zoe Like that man back in town? Mal I had to shoot him. What the Reavers would've done to him before they killed him ... Zoe I know. That was a piece of mercy. But before that, him begging us to bring him along. Mal We couldn't take the weight. Would've slowed us down. Zoe You know that for certain? Mal Mule won't run with five. I should've dumped the girl? Or you? Or Jayne?

(beat)

Oh, Jayne ... Zoe You could've tossed the payload. Mal Tossed the ... Zoe, I got bits falling off my ship, I got a crew ain't been paid, and, oh, yeah, a powerful need to eat sometime this month. We tell Fanty and Mingo we skunked the job, what do think they'll do to us? We're close to gone out here. We get a job, we got to make good. Zoe Sir, I don't disagree on any particular point. It's just, in the time of war, we would've never left a man stranded. Mal Maybe that's why we lost.

Wash enters from the bridge.

She's not happy with the reply. Mal climbs down to his room as Wash reaches Zoe, slides his arms around her. She nestles into him...

Zoe That was close.

INT. CARGO BAY - LATER

We see the doors in the floor slide open, a second set below. Pan to see, for a moment, the dead Reaver's face. Kaylee is opening the doors with a keypad on a cable. Jayne drags the corpse closer to the doors as he continues:

Jayne I do not get it. How's a guy get so wrong? Cutting on his own face, raping and murdering.
I'll kill a man in a fair fight, or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight, or if he bothers me, or if there's a woman, or if I'm getting paid. Mostly only when I'm getting paid.
These Reavers, the last 10 years, they show up like the bogeyman from stories. Eating people alive? Where does that get fun?
Kaylee Shepherd Book said they was men who just reached the edge of space, saw a vasty nothingness and went bibbledy over it. Jayne Oh, hell. I've been to the edge. Just looked like more space. Kaylee I don't know. It can get awful lonely in the black. Like to get addlepated ourselves, we stay on this boat much longer. Captain will drive us all off, one by one. Just like Simon and River. Just like Inara.

INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE - DAY

We're close on Inara who looks at us with amused exasperation. Behind her is an opulently dressed little shuttle.

Inara (on video) Kaylee, are you ever going to put that capture down? Kaylee (on video) We got to have records of everything, Inara. A bona fide Companion entertained clients on this very ship. In this very bed.

The picture pans over to the bed - which River is bending over and sniffing curiously. Inara is packing things up.

Inara (on video) Well, I can't do my work here. And I don't think the Captain approves. Kaylee (on video) The Captain wants you to stay... Inara (on video) That man doesn't know what he wants. I don't have time to..

Inara shoots an uncertain look at the camera - and the picture freezes. During all this, Mal has picked it up. He looks at it a moment, tosses it aside. Looks around at nothing much.

BLACK OUT

 
Act 2
Domestic Troubles

EXT. BEAUMONDE: ATOLL PLAZA - EVENING
Serenity touches down on the crowded atoll amidst a number of other, equally disreputable ships. The place is filled with every kind of immigrant culture and shop imagineable.

Among the various vignettes we briefly capture is a very proper Asian woman walking by a slovenly Caucasian, who call out to her:

Man (off-screen) Peow-liang de shaojie, nee goo wuo huhnee shang-hao. Wuh hway wrongnee shungkai roo hua 漂亮的小姐,你雇我和你相好。我会容你盛开如花
Pretty lady, hire me for the night and I'll open you like a flower
...

EXT./INT. SERENITY - EVENING
The ramp is open and everone is filing out, ready to hit the town. Kaylee is talking to Simon, who has River in hand.

Kaylee Don't talk to the barkers, talk to the captains. You look the captain in the eye. Know who you're dealing with. Simon I wish there was ...

Mal passes between them, paying no heed to their moment.

Kaylee You shouldn't ought to be so clean. It's a dead giveaway you don't belong, you always got to be tidy. Don't pay anybody in advance. And don't ride in anything with a Capissen 38 engine, they fall right out of the sky. Simon Kaylee.

Kaylee looks Simon over one last time...

Simon (to River) River, do you want to stay with them? River It isn't safe. Simon No. I fear it isn't safe anymore. River For them.

INT. THE MAIDENHEAD - CONTINUING
We start on a CorVue screen, showing a news report. On the screen is a shot of the town our gang robbed, now half of it a smoking ruin.

Announcer (on tv): ...only survivors of the massacre apparently locked themselves in the train station vault...

During this we come around to see that the screen has a blinking light behind it, come THROUGH the wiring of the back to look out at the bar, with the word "recording" in the corner. Every screen is a camera, even down here.

We pick up Mal and Kaylee heading down into the bar. Cutting away from the camera's view, we can look two stories straight down as they go, to a close group of dark tables and booths and a second screen playing in the corner.

They have reached the guncheck, where Jayne and Wash have already checked their guns. It works like a lunch automat: Mal sticks his gun in a drawer, pulls out a chit - the drawer closes and rotates, revealing another empty one. A large bouncer with a shockrod watches impassivley.

Mal Kaylee, this is a place of business. We can talk about Simon when ... Kaylee When he's four worlds away? Or the Alliance gets a hold of him and River? Mal That ain't my worry. I got to finish this job and get us another one. Can't do that carrying those two. Kaylee How can you be so cold? Zoe Captain didn't make them fugitives. Kaylee But he could have made them family. Instead of keeping Simon from seeing I was there. When I carried such a torch, when we could've ... Going on a year now, I ain't had nothing twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries. Mal Oh, God! I can't know that! Jayne I could stand to hear a little more. Kaylee If you had a care for anybody's heart ... Mal You knew he was gonna leave. We never been but a way station to those two. And how do you know what he feels? He's got River to worry on, but he still could've shown you ... If I truly wanted someone bad enough, wouldn't be a thing in the 'verse could stop me from going to her. Kaylee Tell that to Inara. Mingo Domestic troubles?

Mingo is young, tough - somewhere between a gangster and a fur-trader. Sounds lower-class British, or something like it.

Fanty Domestic troubles?

Fanty moves into frame to reveal that he is Mingo's identical twin. Apart from slight differences in dress, they are indistinguishable.

Fanty 'Cause we don't wanna interrupt. Mingo A man should keep his house in order. Mal Fanty. Mingo. Mingo He's Mingo. Mal He's Fanty. You're Mingo. Mingo How is it you always know? Mal Fanty's prettier. Feel to do some business?

Fanty tosses a coin to a server as the group sits down at a table off to the side.
Drinks are served and Fanty toasts.

Fanty Endeavors.

They drink. With his foot Mal slices a duffle bag containing the brother's cut over to them. Mingo glances at it and then looks away.

Mingo Quite a crew you've got. Mal Yeah, they're a fine bunch of Reubens. Mingo How you keep them on that crap boat, is the subject of much musing between me and Fanty. Fanty We go on and on. Mal So I'm noticing. Is there a problem we don't know of? You got a sweet take kissing your foot. How's about you take your 25%, we can talk about the next job? Fanty Well, our end is 40, precious. Jayne My muscular buttocks it's 40. Mingo It is, as of now. Find anyone around going cheaper ... Fanty Find anyone around going near a sorry lot like you in the first instance. You're unpredictable, Mal. You run when you ought to fight. Fight when you ought to deal. Makes a businessperson a little twitchy.

This is all background noise to River, who has moved to the CV screen, on which is a commercial "Fruity Oaty Bars".
 

4 ; <
Commercial Jingle (on tv)

Fruity oaty bars make a man of a mouse
Fruity oaty bars make you bust out of your blouse
Eat 'em all the time. Let 'em blow your mind

Man

Wuo hun diou lyen. Wuo may yo chr Fruity Oaty Bar Һܶûг
I am very ashamed. I didn't eat a Fruity Oaty Bar

Fruity Oaty Bars! Fruity Oaty Bars!


We push in, the light from the CV on River's face, pushing to EXTREME CLOSE UP, all noise but the jingle fading out, finally that as well, just the hum in River's ears.

SMASH CUT - Over top River
The commercial, Reavers, the Operative, ... finally silence...into which she whispers...

River Miranda.

She turns and looks back at the crowd.

ANGLE: her jacket, as it slips to the floor.

What happens next happens very fast.

She strides silently to the first table - two men drinking quitely -- and she slams her foot into one's face, then whips it back into the other's, knocking them both unconscious as - - people are turning, just registering that this girl -

- kicks the table into a card player even as she sweeps a bottle off it behind her - the bottle hits a man behind her square in the face, a man she never even looked at - people are rising, fleeing or pushing forward -

She's taking out a group of four, high kicks and perfect precision - Two men come form either side, one whipping out a knife - she does a perfect split, grabs his wrist above her head, using his momentum to stab the other one - The bouncer reaches her and she wrests his shockrod from him, uses it on him, on the three men who cluster in front of Fanty and Mingo like secret service - the fan-dancer is bolting and River hurls the rod at her head, knocks her cold...

ANGLE: Mal and Jayne as they look past the fan dancer.

Jayne Hey! A tussle! Mal Jayne.

Mingo picks up the bag of money.

Fanty Do you know that girl? Mal I really don't.

She's everywhere. On tables, chairs, under your legs, using the room itself to take out every single person there. One man hides behind a wall - impossibly, she swings her leg around the corner and nails his face.

Mal signals Jayne who gets up to circle behind River, Fanty and Mingo leave.

Jayne grabs her from behind -

Jayne Gorrammit, girl, it's me!

She grabs his crotch and squeezes - his grip loosens and she spins, facing him, and flat-heels his nose with her palm, twirling into a gut kick that doubles him over, dispatching of another while she cracks Jayne's head with a small table -

Somebody pulls a gun and she snaps his elbow, causing him to scream out even before he shoots himself in the gut -

Mal frantically wrests a gun from the vending locker as River knocks the other guy's gun in the air, kicks someone else and then catches it, whips it around just as Mal comes up with his, they are pointed right at each other -

Simon Eta Kooram Nah SmechЭто курам на смех
That's ridiculous
!

And River drops to the ground, fast asleep.

There's a beat. Mal looks around the bar. He and Simon, who has run up to the entrance, are the only ones standing.

He looks down at River. She lies unconscious, helpless.

Mal goes down, picks River up and starts carrying her up the stairs.

EXT. SPACE
A small Alliance ship moves toward us.

INT. OPERATIVE'S SHIP - BRIDGE
We see the scene of the bar but from the viewpoint of the CV. It zooms in as Mal comes on screen and picks River up and carries her away.

It is the Operative watching the feed. He brings up information on Mal and Serenity. River has been found.

 

INT. STORAGE LOCKER - NIGHT
River is still asleep, Mal finishing chaining her wrists. She lies on her side, breathing evenly.

Mal stares at her a moment, then:

INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING
He exits to find the whole group waiting for him, sans Wash.

Simon May I see her? Mal I believe you've got some storytelling to do. What in the hell happened back there? Wash (entering from the bridge) Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a 90-pound girl. 'Cause I don't think that's ever getting old. Zoe Do we know if anyone was killed? Mal It's likely. I know she meant to kill me before the Doc put her out. Which, how exactly does that work anyhow? Simon It's a safe word. The people who helped me break River out had intel that River and the other subjects were being embedded with behavioral conditioning. They taught me a safe word, in case something happened. Kaylee Not sure I get it. Simon It's a phrase that makes her fall asleep. If I speak the words ... Jayne Don't say it! Zoe It only works on her, Jayne. Jayne Well, now I know that. Mal "In case something happened." You feel to elaborate on what that something might be? Simon They never said what ... Mal And you never did ask.

Mal grabs him and throws him against the wall, in his face.

INT. STORAGE LOCKER - CONTINUING
River's eyes open.

INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING

Simon Get your hands off ... Mal Eight months. Eight months, you had her on my boat, knowing full well she could go monkeyshit at the wrong word. You never said a thing. Simon I brought her out here so they couldn't get to her. I don't even know what they ... Mal My ship! My crew! You had a gorramn time bomb living with us! Who we gonna find in there when she wakes up? The girl? Or the weapon? Simon I thought she was getting better. Jayne And I thought they was getting off! Didn't we have an intricate plan how they was gonna be not here anymore? Kaylee We couldn't leave them now. Jayne No, now that she's a killer woman, we ought be bringing her tea and dumplings. In earnest, Mal, why'd you bring her back on? Simon May I see her? Jayne She goes woolly again, we're gonna have to put a bullet to her.

INT. STORAGE LOCKER - CONTINUING
Close up on River, eyes open, as she mouths the words along with Mal:

Mal (OS) It's crossed my mind.

INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING
Simon looks at Kaylee, the truth of Mal's words hitting him.

Mal looks at Jayne, at all of them. Doesn't have an answer.

Mal steps aside. Simon enters the locker.

Wash Can I make a suggestion that doesn't involve violence, or is this the wrong crowd? Zoe Honey. Wash We're flying a lot blinder than usual here. We need to get our bearings. I think we need to talk to Mr. Universe.

EXT. SPACE - VFX - NIGHT
The camera swoops in at a sparking ion cloud, then through the cloud at a barren, metallic satellite moon. Then further in to reveal a sprawling - and completely empty - communications complex. Giant satellite dishes everywhere.

INT. MR UNIVERSE HQ - CONTINUING
Inside, we find an unkempt young man. Also sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated and kinda sweet. This is Mr. Universe. He is alone but for his mannikin-like Love-bot, Lenore.

He's surrounded by screens, computers, feeds - machinery that looks both ultra-modern and long neglected. All the screens play different images - it's a mediaverse.

Mr. Universe Oh, this is good. You guys always bring me the very best violence. You think you're in a hot place?

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
As he watches the security feed of River's fight his image becomes a vidscreen. He's addressing Wash, Mal and Zoe.

Mal That's what we're looking to learn. Is there any follow up, a news-wave? Mr. Universe There is no news. There's the truth of the signal. What I see. And there's the puppet theater the Parliament jesters foist on the somnambulant public. Mal Well, what about this? Did this make the puppet theater? Mr. Universe No, sir. And no law-force flags, either. I had to go into the security feed direct. Mal You can do that? Mr. Universe Can't stop the signal, Mal. Everything goes somewhere, and I go everywhere. Security feeds are a traipse to access, and I wasn't the first one in. This has prints on it. Zoe So somebody else has been fed this. Mr. Universe Zoe, you sultry minx, stop falling in love with me. You're just gonna embarrass yourself. I have a commitment to my Lovebot.

Behind him, Lenore gives the 'queens' wave.

He continues as footage comes up on a monitor behind him: His wedding (in this very space). He steps on the cup, tosses confetti, waves at the camera... Lenore is unmoving - in fact it's not clear whether she DOES move.

It was a very beautiful ceremony. Lenore wrote her own vows, I cried like a baby, a hungry, angry baby.

Back to video of River as she falls asleep.

And she falls asleep. Which, she would be sleepy. Mal Can you go back? See if anybody spoke with her before she acted up. Made any kind of contact with her.

Mr. Universe works the screen. The image rewinds and stops on River coming up to it, looking at it. She whispers the word, "Miranda", and starts to move away.

River (on playback) Miranda Mal "Miranda"? Go back further. Mr. Universe No.

He pulls another screen close, starts working that one. Matching timecodes, he pulls up the commercial.

Mal Please

Mr. Universe has a third screen showing the commercial as well - and it starts breaking down, bursts of code showing through. As he does so:

Mr. Universe Mal, you're very smart. Someone is talking to her. Wash The oaty bar? Mal Subliminal. Mr. Universe It's a subliminal message, broadwaved to trigger her. I've been seeing this code pop up all over, the last few weeks. It's Alliance and it's high military. They have gone to enormous trouble to find your little friend. And found her, they have. Do you all know what it is you're carrying?

Mal, Zoe and Wash look at each other.

INT. STORAGE LOCKER - NIGHT
River stares at us, impassive, as the camera pulls away from her to reveal Simon, who is cleaning blood off her face.

River They're afraid of me. Simon I'm sorry. River They should be. But I'll show them. Oh, God.

She starts tearing up, breathing faster.

Simon It's okay. Hey, it's okay. River Show me off like a dog. Old men covered in blood. It never touched them, but they're drowning in it. I don't know what I'm saying. I never know what I'm saying. Simon In the Maidenhead, you said something. When you were triggered, do you remember? The Captain saw you say something on the feed. River Miranda. Ask her. Simon Who is Miranda? Am I talking to Miranda now?

(off River's scornful look)

No. Not right. But I think when they triggered you, it somehow brought this up. This memory. River It isn't mine. The memory, it isn't mine. And I shouldn't have to carry it. It isn't mine. Don't make me sleep again. Simon I won't. River Put a bullet to me. Bullet in the brainpan, squish. Simon Don't say that. Not ever. We'll get through this. River Things are going to get much, much worse.

BLACK OUT

 
Act 3
Make Peace With Your Dear And Fluffy Lord

INT. CAVE - VFX - DAY
It's pitch black here, til Serenity's lights throw a hard relief on the rocky wall. She flies in after, slow and steady, revealing herself to be in a huge mineshaft.

INT. MINE CAVE - DAY
The ramp lowers to reveal Shepherd Book. A couple of miners pass behind him. Book smiles as the Serenity crew comes out to meet him

EXT. MINING CAMP - DAY
We see the camp: a few shacks and a working mine (and one small patch of ragged vegetable garden), as our group come down to it, greeted by a few miners, including an eight year-old boy that rushes to Kaylee...

EXT. MINING CAMP - NIGHT
Most of the camp is asleep. Jayne and Kaylee sit with a few miners as Jayne plucks out a tune on something that very closely resembles a guitar.

Mal approaches Book on the edge of a rise overlooking the others.

Mal Thanks for taking us in again, Shepherd. Book You got a plan? Mal Hiding ain't a plan? Book It'll do you for a spell. And the folks here'll be glad of the extra coin. But the Alliance will be coming. They're after this girl with a powerful will. Mal I look to hear the tromp of their boots any moment. Book You won't. This isn't a palms-up military run, Mal. No reports broadwaved, no warrants. Much as they want her, they want her hid. That means closed file. Means an operative. Which is trouble you've not known. Mal I could have left her there. I had an out. Hell, I had every reason in the 'verse to leave her lay and haul anchor Book It's not your way, Mal. Mal I have a way? That better than a plan? Book Only one thing is gonna walk you through this, Mal. Belief. Mal You know I always look to you for counsel, but sermons make me sleepy, Shepherd. I ain't looking for help from on high. That's a long wait for a train don't come. Book When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I'm talking about God? They'll come at you sideways. It's how they think. It's how they move. Sidle up and smile. Hit you where you're weak. Sort of man they're like to send believes hard. Kills and never asks why. Mal It's of interest to me how much you seem to know about that world. Book I wasn't born a Shepherd, Mal. Mal Have to tell me about that sometime. Book No, I don't.

EXT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - DAY
Inara stands waiting, a smile upon her face.

The Operative comes slowly up the staircase, stands before her. Her smile disappears.

EXT. CLASSROOM - DAY
The Teacher from the very beginning is standing in front of River, whose desktop screen depicts a single, dark planet.

Teacher River?

Young River is working away, not paying attention.

Teacher River, you look tired. I think everybody's a little tired by now. Why don't we all lie down? A little peace and quiet will make everything better. River. Do as you're told.

River looks up, scared. All the other children wordlessly get up from their seats and lie on the floor next to them.

Young River No. Teacher It's going to be fine. Lie down. Young River No. Voice Cut them down!

INT. STORAGE LOCKER - NIGHT
River starts awake.

INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUING
Mal does too, shirtless on his bunk. Suddenly wakes up, befuddled.

Mal What? Wash (on comm) Mal! You up? I got a wave. I'm gonna bounce it down to you.

Inara on Mal's screen. We see her from about chest level up. She, presumably, sees the same.

Mal Inara. Inara l... Is this a bad time? Mal No, it's good as any. How's your world? Inara Cold. It's autumn here Mal Still at the Training House?

(Inara nods)

So, what occasions the wave? Not that to see you ain't ... Well, you look very fine. Inara Oh. Thank you.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
Zoe and Wash are secretly watching both Mal and Inara on two different screens, smiling at their formal shyness.

INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUING

Mal So, what was the... Inara I guess we're having something of a problem here with the locals. And, I thought maybe... Mal You could use a gun hand? Inara I'm hoping not. But if you happen to be close at all, you... The crew could take your ease here for a while. And there'd be payment. Mal Well, it would be ... I mean, I'd like to. Kaylee's been missing you something fierce.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
There is a general groan among the audience, which now includes Kaylee as well...

INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUING

Inara I miss her, too. I even miss my shuttle, occasionally. Mal Yeah, you left ... Got some of your stuff in a trunk. I never did get a chance to drop it off. Inara I didn't mean to leave stuff. Mal I didn't look through the stuff. I just ... Just sundries, I expect. So I'll send you a wave, soon as I can. Inara Thank you.

INT. BRIDGE - MOMENTS LATER
Mal comes up in, buttoning his shirt.

Kaylee Inara, nice to see her again. Zoe So, trap? Mal Trap. Zoe We going in? Mal Only but a few hours out. Wash Yeah, but, remember the part where it's a trap? Mal If that's the case, then Inara's already caught in it. She wouldn't set us up willing. Might be we got a shot at seeing who's turning these wheels. We go in. Kaylee But how can you be sure Inara don't just wanna see you? Sometimes people have feelings. I'm referring here to people. Mal You all were watching, I take it.

Guilty glances.

All Yes. Mal Did you see us fight? Kaylee No. Mal Trap.

EXT. SERENITY - DAY
The ship moves gracefully over the mountains.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Wash We're about 70 miles from the Training House, and nobody on radar. If the Alliance is about, they're laying low. Mal They're about. Find us a home. I'll take the shuttle a little closer.

He starts out, turns back to Zoe.

Zoe, ship is yours. Remember. If anything happens to me, or if you don't hear from me within the hour, you take this ship and you come and you rescue me. Zoe What? Risk my ship? Mal I mean it. It's cold out there. And I don't wanna get left.

INT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - DAY
A line of young trainees files by in robes and red shawls pulled over their heads - one trainee a good deal larger than the others.

INT. INARA'S ROOM - LATER
She is kneeling in front of a statue of Buddha, lighting a few incense sticks.

The room is sparsely lush - not as opulent as the shuttle where she entertained men, but still beautifully furnished and draped. A lace curtain hangs in front of the light, casting its pattern in shadow over everything. Including the rather large figure in a red shawl who kneels beside Inara.

Mal Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony, and a plastic rocket, and ... Inara Mal! What are you doing here? Mal Well, you invited me. Inara I never thought for a second you'd be stupid enough to come. Mal Well, that makes you kind of a tease, doesn't it? Inara You knew my invitation wasn't on the level. Mal Which led me to conclude that you must be in some trouble. Inara I'm fine. I'm giddy. Mal For a woman schooled in telling a man what he wants to hear, you ain't much of a liar. Inara Mal, you cannot handle this man. Operative (entering) I have to say, Captain, I'm impressed that you would come for her yourself. And that you would make it this far, in that outfit. Mal I can be very graceful when I need to. Operative I've no doubt.

Mal sheds his shawl and robe. Inara kneels at the alter, picks out another incense stick.

Mal (to Inara) What are you doing? Inara I'm praying for you, Mal. Operative She's very thoughtful. But I mean it when I say I've no intent to harm you. Mal Speak your piece. Operative I think you're beginning to understand how dangerous River Tam is. Mal She is a mite unpredictable. Mood swings, of a sort. Operative It's worse than you know. Mal It usually is. Operative That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain. Mal Way I remember it, albatross was a ship's good luck, till some idiot killed it.

(to Inara, off her look of surprise)

Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.

The Operative moves further into the room. Whenever he moves, Mal counters.

Operative I've seen your war record. I know how you must feel about the Alliance. Mal You really don't. Operative Fair to say. But I have to hope you understand, you can't beat us. Mal I got no need to beat you. I just want to go my way. Operative And you can do that, once you let me take River Tam back home. Mal No, no. You're working this deal all crabbed. You got to open with payment. Operative That is a trap. I offer money, you'll play the man of honor and take umbrage. I ask you to do what is right, you'll play the brigand. I have no stomach for games. I already know you will not see reason. Mal The Alliance wanted to show me a reason, they shouldn't have sent an assassin.

The Operative is stopped by this. Unhappily, he continues:

Operative I have a warship in deep orbit, Captain. We locked on to Serenity's pulse beacon the moment you hit atmo. I can speak a word and send a missile to that exact location inside of three minutes.

Mal pulls a small device, clipped wires sticking out all around it, and tosses it to the Operative.

Mal You do that, you'd best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord. Operative Pulse beacon. Mal Advice from an old tracker. You want to find someone, use your eyes. Operative How long do you think you can really run from us? Mal I never credited the Alliance with an overabundance of brains. And if you're the best they got ... Operative Captain Reynolds, I should tell you, so that you don't waste your time, you can't make me angry. Inara Please, spend an hour with him. Operative I want to resolve this like civilized men. I'm not threatening you. I'm unarmed. Mal Good.

He draws and shoots the Operative in the chest. The Operative goes down as Mal grabs Inara, moves for the doorway.

The Operative is on him in a second, choke-hold from behind.

Operative I am, of course, wearing full body armor. I am not a moron.

He tosses Mal hard against a wall, spinning and blocking a blow from Inara - she is clearly trained in martial arts, but he flat-heels her to the ground within seconds.

Mal is going for his gun again, turning, and the Operative kicks him in the face, sends him back, gun flying. Mal gets to his feet and they square off. Mal breathing hard, nose dripping blood. The Operative perfectly poised, waiting.

Mal What, no backup? Making an awful ruckus. Operative They'll come when they're needed. Mal I'd start whistling. Operative Captain, what do you think is going to happen here?

They come at each other. The Operative is the much better trained - he's fluid, his blows sparse and deadly. Mal is more bluster and determination, and the Operative's precision is wearing Mal down.

Mal punches wild - the Operative counters with a spin- kick to the head that sends Mal to the ground not far from Inara, breathing hard. He tries to rise again, painfully, but Inara places her hand on his arm.

The Operative goes to his briefcase by the door, pulls out his sword. His face has taken on that remote kind of fascination as he looks at it.

Nothing here is what it seems. He isn't the plucky hero. The Alliance isn't some evil empire. This is not the grand arena. Inara And that's not incense.

He turns to look: the incense stick burns away - rather like a fuse -- and FLASHES in an explosion of light and sound.

It's a flash-bomb: The Operative sails back as everything goes smoky white and the sound dies to a tiny buzz.

Soldier Sir, can you hear me?

The Operative tries to get his bearings - and four armored soldiers are in his face, asking him for orders... Mal and Inara are gone. He motions for the men to follow them.

Operative Just a flash bomb. Go. Go!

EXT. SIDE OF MOUNTAIN, BY MAL'S SHUTTLE - DAY
Mal and Inara move quickly down the mountain and into the shuttle.

Inara pushes into the pilot's seat.

Inara What have you done to my shuttle? Mal It's not your shuttle. Head east. Keep her low.

EXT. MOUNTAIN RANGE - CONTINUING
The shuttle shoots straight up, spinning and heading out.

EXT. SPACE
We are looking up at Serenity's underbelly as cargo doors open and multiple cylindrical devices drop out, become active and head out in different directions.

EXT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - DAY
The Operative sips tea and rubs his temple.

Operative (on a comm) Okay, forget the pulse beacon. There must be another way to track the ship. Get a read on the nav. sat. It's a registered transport, you must be able to locate. SOLDIER Sir? Operative Yes, have you found a nav. sat. trajectory? SOLDIER Sir, we found seven.

The Operative looks more unhappy than angry.

 

Inara (V.O.) We've every reason to be afraid.

INT. PASSENGER DORM - CONTINUING

Jayne Why, 'cause this guy beat up Mal? That ain't so hard. Mal He didn't beat me up. Nobody said that. Inara Because he's a believer. He's intelligent, methodical, and devout in his belief that killing River is the right thing to do. Jayne So no hope of a reward, huh? Simon Did he say anything about a Miranda? Inara What is that? Zoe Don't know who or what, but it's on River's mind. Mal Conjure it might be the reason they're after her. Inara You think maybe it poses some kind of threat to the Alliance? Wash Do we care? Are we caring about that? Jayne You dumb-ass hogs, the only people she's a threat to is us on this boat. Mal Look, we get back to Haven in a few hours' time. Jayne Oh, yeah. Hiding under the Shepherd's skirts that's a manful scheme. Mal You wanna run this ship? Jayne Yes. Mal (stopped for a second) Well, you can't. Jayne Do a damn sight better job than you. Getting us lashed over a couple of strays.

(to Simon)

No offense, Doc. l think it's noble as a grape, the way you look to River.

(to Mal)

But she ain't my sister and she ain't your crew. Oh, and neither is she exactly helpless. So where's it writ that we got to lay down our lives for her? Which is what you've steered us toward. Mal I didn't start this. Jayne No, that's right. Alliance starts the war, and then you volunteer. Battle of Serenity, Mal. Besides Zoe here, how many ...

(Mal turns away)

Hey, I'm talking at you. How many men in your platoon came out of there alive? Zoe (VERY cold) You wanna leave this room. Jayne Damn right, I do.

He stalks upstairs. There's a quiet moment.

Inara This isn't the war, Mal. Mal You telling me that 'cause you think I don't know? Inara You came to the Training House looking for a fight. Mal I came looking for you. Inara I just want to know who I'm dealing with. I've seen too many versions of you to be sure. Mal (Right up in Inara's face) I start fighting a war, I guarantee you'll see something new.

Mal walks out into the cargo bay, Inara following, over:

Simon We'll get off. River and I will get off at Haven. We'll find some ... Kaylee Nobody's saying that. Wash Nobody besides Jayne is saying that.

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING
Inara tries to catch up to Mal.

Inara Mal. Mal I got no answers for you, Inara. I got no rudder. Wind blows northerly, I go north. That's who I am. Now maybe that ain't a man to lead, but they have to follow. So you wanna tear me down, do it inside your own mind. Inara I'm not trying to tear you down. Mal But you fog things up. You always have. You spin me about.

(He walks off)

I wish like hell you was elsewhere. Inara (quietly, to herself) I was.

BLACK OUT

 
Act 4
I Aim To Misbehave

EXT. CLASSROOM - DAY
The teacher and students are gone as River - as we saw her in the institute, older, with blood seeping from the needle-holes in her head - makes her way through the empty desks.

Slowly she looks down at her desk. On it is the solar system, glowing lines connecting all the stars and planets. She becomes wide-eyed, breathing hard as it pushes in to one system, one planet...

We push in THROUGH the screen, the planet and its moon floating in space. As we swing around behind, we see River looking through the screen on her desk down at us, like some god looking over the universe.

Back to the classroom, she looks over to one side of the tent, and we see:

INT./EXT. FLASHBACKS
We see flashes of corpses, lying in houses, in city streets-

EXT. CLASSROOM - DAY
River gets more and more agitated - and a REAVER is next to her in frame, grabbing her throat, bearing his sharpened teeth to bite off her face -

INT. STORAGE LOCKER - DAY
And River awakens. A moment to get her bearings, then her eyes narrow with intent.

INT. DINING ROOM
Jayne pours himself a drink while looking at the storage locker door. A beat.

Jayne (downing his drink) Go hwong-tong够荒唐
Enough of this nonsense
.

He goes back to the locker and starts to unlock it, pulling out his gun.

No trouble, little crazy person. We're going for a nice shuttle ride.

He opens the door and enters the room. The camera pans up and we see River, once again stuck to the ceiling. She is holding a very large can of something which she lets go of.

INT. AFT HALL - MOMENTS LATER
The crew hears a gun shot, obviously Jayne firing as the can hits his head.

The crew enters the storage locker. Zoe is first - can't open the door. Looks in to see an unconscious Jayne...

Zoe She's out. Jayne's down. Mal The other way. Find her and do not engage.

Everyone piles out the other way. Simon remains, to look in the window.

ANGLE: Simon'S POV: There is Jayne, not moving - and River pops up right in front of us. He starts, then waits as she opens the door.

Simon It's gonna be okay ...

She elbows his throat viciously. He drops to his knees, shocked and gasping, as she spin-kicks him to the ground. He doesn't move. She looks at him a moment. We see she is holding Jayne's gun. She then takes off.

INT. CARGO BAY

Zoe She's sealed off the bridge. I do not like her there. Mal Check the shuttle. She could have snuck in. Kaylee Cap'n!

She tosses him a bolt remover.

He climbs over a railing to get access to a panel on the wall and starts pulling a bolt out of a panel on the wall

INT. CARGO BAY
A floor grate rises and Mal quietly lifts himself up.
He moves quietly to the bridge, gun drawn.

He enters to find River frantically punching up coordinates on a big Cortex screen she's pulled out by the copilot's seat. She whips Jayne's gun at his face, never looking at him. A moment, and Mal holsters his own gun.

Mal The government's man, he says you're a danger to us. Not worth helping. Is he right? Are you anything but a weapon? I've staked my crew's life on the theory you're a person, actual and whole, and if I'm wrong, you'd best shoot me now.

(river cocks pistol)

Or we could talk more. River (re: image on screen) Miranda

It's a planet. Matches the one from her dream.

INT. BRIDGE - LATER
Everyone has gathered. Wash is piloting now, as they are in atmosphere. River is by Simon. She moves restlessly, upset.

Kaylee How can it be there's a whole planet called Miranda and none of us knowed that? Mal Because there isn't one. It's a black rock. Uninhabitable. Terra-forming didn't hold, or some such. Few settlers died. Zoe Was it right before the war? River (to Simon) I had to show them. l didn't know if you were going to make me sleep. Simon (hoarse whisper) You could have asked. Kaylee Wait a tick, yeah. Some years back, there was call for workers to settle on Miranda. Daddy talked about it. Wash Nothing about it on the Cortex. History, Astronomy, it's not in there. Mal Half of writing history is hiding the truth. There's something on that rock the Alliance doesn't want known. Inara That's right at the edge of the Burnham Quadrant, right? Furthest planet out? It's not that far from here. Wash Whoa. No. No. Honey ... Zoe That's a bad notion. Wash ... you show them the bad. Zoe I got it, baby.

She hits some commands on the screen, pulls back to reveal a couple of other planets near Miranda.

Zoe This is us, at Haven, and here's Miranda. All along here, that empty space in between, that's Reaver territory. Wash They just float out there, sending out raiding parties. Zoe Nobody ventures there. Not even the Alliance. You go through that, you're signing up to be a banquet. Wash I'm on board with our standard run-and-hide scenario. And we are just about ...

He looks at his monitors, looks ahead...

Wait.

EXT. MINING CAMP - DAY
The ship swings around a mountain to come into view of the camp.

It is a world of fire.

Every building burns, some blown right apart. Bodies litter the scene, not one of them moving There's a grounded Alliance ship not far from the cannon that shot it down.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
We see Mal's face as the sight hits him like a gut-punch.

Jayne Doesn't look like Reavers. Mal Wasn't.

EXT. MINING CAMP - MOMENTS LATER
The crew pours out even as the ramp lowers, going off in all directions, calling out to people. Jayne checks the perimeter, River moves slowly, staring at objects, at details. Kaylee heads for the burning church.

Kaylee Shepherd? Shepherd? Shepherd Book?

She stops, looking at the ground by the steeple. There is the body on the ground, face down. The child she played with at dinner. Kaylee stares, at first uncomprehending.

ANGLE: Mal, moving in the other direction, approaches the cannon, Jayne behind him. He stops and sees:

Book, lying by the cannon, torn up badly from the waist down.

Mal (to Jayne) Get the Doc.

(to Book)

Shepherd. Don't move. Book Won't go far. Mal Shouldn't have been you. Alliance should've hit us. Should've hit me. Book That crossed my mind. I shot him down. Mal Yeah. I see. Book I killed the ship that killed us. Not very Christian of me. Mal You did what's right. Book Coming from you, that means almost nothing. I'm long gone. Mal No, Doc will bring you around. I look to be bored by many more sermons before you slip. Just don't move. Book Can't order me around, boy. I'm not one of your crew. Mal Yes, you are. Book River ... Mal (to the Doc) Come on. Book (grabs Mal's head) I don't care what you believe. Just believe it. Whatever you ...

Book dies. Jayne and Simon run up, Simon slowing down - going to the Shepherd, but entirely aware he's dead. Zoe and Wash join them as Jayne looks around him, Mal walks back to the ship.

Jayne How come they ain't waiting? They knowed we was coming, how come they only sent one? Zoe (realizing) They didn't know we were coming here.

(to Wash)

Get on the Cortex. Wave Li Shen, the Sanchez brothers, anyone who has ever sheltered us after a heist. Tell them to get out. Get out now.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. BRIDGE - LATER
Silence.

Every Cortex screen is on, each looking at a different place. Every one shows fire, destruction or the snow of an interrupted signal.

Mal stands alone amidst the screens, saying nothing. After a long moment, all of the screens hitch, the images replaced by identical images of the Operative. He looks solemn.

Operative I'm sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault? Mal I don't murder children. Opeartive I do. If I have to. Mal Why? Do you even know why they sent you? Operative It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin. Mal So me and mine gotta lay down and die so you can live in your better world? Operative I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there any more than there is for you. Malcolm, I'm a monster . What I do is evil I have no illusions about it, but it must be done. Mal Keep talking. You're not getting a location trace off this wave. Operative And every minute you keep River Tam from me, more people will die. Mal You think I care? Operative Of course you care. You're not a Reaver, Mal. You're a human man and you will never understand how...

Mal flicks a switch and every screen goes dark.

EXT. MINING CAMP - MOMENTS LATER
Mal comes striding out, where the crew have been gathering bodies, laying blankets over them.

Mal Get these bodies together. Zoe We got time for grave digging? Mal Zoe, you and Simon rope them together. Five or six of them. I want them laid out on the nose of our ship. Simon Are you insane? I won't desecrate these bodies. Kaylee I don't understand. What do you mean, the bodies ... Mal (to Kayee) I want you to muck up the reactor core. Just enough to leave a trail and make it read like we're flying without containment, not enough to fry us. Kaylee These people are our friends. Mal Kaylee, you got a day's work to do and two hours to do it.

(to Jayne and Wash)

Jayne, you and Wash hoist up the cannon mount. Goes right on top. Piece or two of the other ship, stick it on. Any place you can tear hull without inner breach, do that, too.

(looks around)

We're gonna need paint. We're gonna need red paint. Zoe Sir, do you really mean to turn our home into an abomination so that we can make a suicidal attempt at passing through Reaver space? Mal I mean to live. I mean for us to live. The Alliance won't have that, so we go where they don't follow.

All talk at once.

Jayne God's balls, there ain't no way we're going out there. Think about what you're asking. Those Reavers'll eat us alive ... Wash Juhguh jee hua jun kuhpah这个计划真可怕
There's nothing about this plan that isn't horrific
!

And in the middle of it, Mal pulls his gun. They all freeze.

Mal (VERY serious) This is how it is. Anybody doesn't wanna fly with me anymore, this is your port of harbor. There's a lot of fine ways to die. I ain't waiting for the Alliance to choose mine.

He walks through the group, toward the smashed cockpit of the Alliance fighter. Struggling to get out is the badly wounded pilot. He sees Mal coming and raises his hands in surrender. Mal shoots him in the head, turns back.

I mean to confound these bungers. Take my shot at getting to Miranda. Maybe find something I can use to get clear of this. So I hear a word out of any of you that ain't helping me out or taking your leave, I will shoot you down.

Mal very dark -- angry Jove kind-of dark

Get to work.

EXT. SPACE - NIGHT
CLOSE ON THE BODIES as they BURN, flames passing over them and suddenly flickering out as dark falls. They are patches of leathered flesh stretched over bone -- monsters, screaming soundlessly in the nothing of space.

We arm past them to the windows of the bridge, looking in at Mal, watching, with Zoe behind and Wash at the helm.

And we pull back out to see the whole of Serenity for the first time: It is hardly recognizable. Charred corpses on the nose, Cannon atop with a space-suited corpse draped within, long scars, welded-on parts and war paint... the trail of green light burns out with sporadic bursts of vapor. It looks, for all the world, like a Reaver ship.

INT. SERENITY - later

Zoe Sir ... Mal Just tell me when we're close.

Mal walks alone through the ship in the dark.

EXT. SPACE - NIGHT
Serenity flies, silent.

INT. FOREDECK HALL/BRIDGE - NIGHT
The group make their way toward the bridge. Those close enough to get a view out the window are looking freaked -- those already on the bridge are stock still. We can hear people screaming. Pressed up against the glass of the window is River, just staring.

EXT. SPACE - CONTINUING
Reverse to see: an armada.
The black sky is filled with what must be ninety ships in a vague cluster, as Serenity breaks frame headed toward them. Most of them hang still in the air. Some move swimmingly about. Some turn in gentle drifts, as though looking around.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
They all wait, tensed up, as they approach the armada...

Mal Wash?

Wash turns off the sound, silencing the screams.

EXT. SPACE - CONTINUING
...and arrive, moving slowly through the ranks of ships. Serenity passes a large, bizarrely shaped ship. It turns, as though watching her. But lets her pass. Another minute, and Serenity is through the Armada, headed for the small planet just beyond.

 

INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - BRIDGE - LATER
The Operative stands at his "podium", he's beginning to look angry! Behind him stands an Ensign, obviously unhappy to be the bearer of bad news.

Operative Define "disappeared."

EXT. SPACE
Serenity flying over a planet.

INT. SERENITY BRIDGE
Zoe and Wash are in the pilot seats, Jayne is on the deck is gathering weapons.

Zoe Every reading I'm getting says normal. Oceans, land masses. No tectonic instability or radiation. Wash Yeah, but no power, either. Mal (as he comes up the front stairs from the cargo deck) Nothing at all? Wash Wait. Something. It might be a beacon, but it's awful weak. Mal Find it.

EXT. PLANET - DAY
Mal, Zoe and Jayne in pressure suits stand in front of the loading ramp.

Mal Gravity's "Earth-Norm". Zoe O2 levels check, pressure ... If anything's wrong the scanner's not reading it.

Mal takes off his helmet, sniffs the air.

Mal Well, something sure the hell ain't right.

From above, we see Serenity on a landing pad in the midst of a very large city, buildings all the way to the horizon.

Jayne This ain't no little settlement. Zoe We flew over at least a dozen cities just as big. Why didn't we ever hear about this? Mal Beacon's up ahead.

EXT. PLANET - DAY - a little later
The entire crew is exploring, Zoe out in front. Mal, Wash, Jayne and Zoe are armed. Simon carries his med-kit. Inara, Kaylee and River walk with them.

They pass down an outdoor "corridor", slowly, cautiously. Suddenly automatic lights come on. Zoe signals them to stop.

She spots a body and calls out.

Zoe Ho.

The body is skeletal, dessicated. As she looks it over, Mal arrives

No entry wounds, fractures. Mal Poison?

The crew continues. They are in a open plaza between two large buildings. Ahead is a vehicle, Jayne rushes up to it.

Jayne Got another one.

He looks inside. Dessicated and skeletal like the other.

They's just sitting here. They didn't crash.

As they stand, an overhead advertisement begins playing, startling them.

River, who has been getting increasing agitated, stands apart from the others. As the others look up at the advertisement, we close in on River from behind. She swings around, frightened.
We cut to her POV. The city behind her is empty.

Kaylee is backing up towards large windows of an office building. Simon attempts to warn her...

Simon Kaylee. Don't ...

... which causes her to turn and look. The office is filled with dead bodies. Sitting in office chairs, slumped over desks, lying on the floor...

Jayne How come these ones are preserved? Mal Place must've gone hermetic when the power blew. Sealed them. Kaylee What are they doing? What's everybody doing? Simon There's no unusual discoloration. Nobody's doubled over or showing signs of pain. Mal There's gasses that kill painless, right? Inara They didn't fall. None of them. They just lay down.

River, in her own space, moves out into the middle of the street and begins turning in circles...

River Runtse de shang-dee, ching daiwuhtzo 仁慈的上帝,请带我走
Merciful God please take me away
.
Make them stop. They're everywhere. Every city, every ...

Flash cut to scenes of dead bodies all over the planet.

Every house, every room, they're all inside me. I can hear them all, and they're saying nothing! Get up. Please get up.
Wuoshang mayer, maysheen, byen shr-to 我想昧耳,昧心,变石头
I will close my ears and my heart and I will be a stone
. Please, God, make me a stone.
Jayne She is starting to damage my calm. Mal Jayne. Jayne She's right! Everybody's dead. This whole world is dead for no reason! Wash Let's get to the beacon.

EXT. BUILDING
with a Reasearch & Rescue ship smashed into one wall, penetrating it.
The crew enter the ship.

INT. RESCUE SHIP
The crew passes through the ship, arriving at the control room.

Wash This is the source? Jayne This ship's banged up all to hell.

River walks up to a small table in the center and engages some sort of record disc in a slot.

A holographic recording appears, floating in the air. They watch silently. River stands directly in front, not a two feet away from the images.

Dr. Caron (on recording) These are just a few of the images we've recorded.

As she speaks, multiple scenes of Miranda appear in front of her.
The crew stands in semi-darkness around her image. We cut between her and their faces, they are all very serious.
Wash worried, River almost weeping and occasionally mouthing the words along with the recording, Mal getting angry...

And you can see it isn't what we thought. There's been no war here, and no terra-forming event. The environment is stable.

(pause)

It's the Pax. The G-23 Paxilon Hydroclorate that we added to the air processors. It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression. Well, it works.

Pause, Dr. Caron is getting emotional

The people here stopped fighting. And then they stopped everything else.

Choking back a sob.

They stopped going to work, they stopped breeding, talking, eating. There's 30 million people here, and they all just let themselves die.

(noises off screen, screaming and crashing)

I have to be quick. About a tenth of a percent of the population had the opposite reaction to the Pax. Their aggressor response increased beyond madness. They have become... Well, they've killed most of us. And not just killed, they've done things. Wash (realizing) Reavers. They made them. Dr. Caron (on recording) I won't live to report this, but people have to know. We meant it for the best, to make people safer. God!

Dr. Caron lifts a pistol and fires to her right.

She turns the gun on herself.
Before she can fire a Reaver appears, grabs her and pulls her down.

(O.S.) Dr. Caron screaming.
The crew is shocked, even Jayne cannot take it clutching his gun and grimacing.

Jayne Turn it off.

Wash walks over and stops the recording.

Everyone stands unmoving in shocked silence. River is sobbing, Mal turns and walks out.

River falls to the floor and begins vomiting. Simon rushes to her side.

Simon River. River I'm all right.

Surprised, suddenly realizing that she actually IS...

I'm all right.

EXT. PLANET - DAY
Mal walks alone outside the ship.

Mal (pre-lap) This report is maybe 12 years old.

INT. SERENITY - DINING HALL - LATER
The crew seated at the table or standing about.

Mal (continuing) Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear, because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people ... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.

Jayne takes a drink from a booze bottle, then slides it across the table to Simon.

Jayne Shepherd Book used to tell me, "If you can't do something smart, do something right." SImon (picking up the bottle) Do we have a plan? Mal Mr. Universe. We haven't the equipment to broadwave this code, but he can put it on every screen for 30 worlds. He's pretty damn close, too. Wash We still got the Reavers and probably the Alliance, between us and him. Jayne That's two armies against our one bitty cannon. Zoe It's a fair bet the Alliance knows about Mr. Universe. They're gonna see this coming. Mal No. They're not gonna see this coming.

BLACK OUT

 
Act 5
Can't Stop The Signal

EXT. SERENITY takes off from Miranda

Mr. Universe (on a monitor) No problem. Bring it on. Bring it on. Bring it on. From here to the eyes and ears of the 'verse That's my motto, or it might be, if l start having a motto.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
Wash and Zoe are talking to Mr. Universe.

Wash We won't be long. Mr. Universe You're going to get caught in the ion cloud. It'll play merry hob with your radar, but pretty lights and a few miles after, you'll be right in my orbit. Zoe You'll let us know if anyone else comes at you? Mr. Universe You'll be the first.

INT. MR. UNIVERSE'S CONTROL CENTER
It's filled with Alliance soldiers ... and the Operative.

Mr. Universe (to the Operative) There. Toss me my 30 coin, but I got a news wave for you ...

The Operative runs his sword through Mr. Universe, killing him.

Operative Call in every ship in the quadrant. We'll meet them in the air. (re the equipment)
Destroy it all.

EXT. SPACE
Serenity pulls away from Miranda and re-enters the Reaver swarm.

They move through slowly. A Reaver ship activates and swings around to the side.

Mal (over the comm) Wash, we almost through?

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
Wash and Zoe look out the front windows.

EXT. SPACE
The Reaver ship aligns itself along side Serenity. We swing over the top as it opens what look like claws.

Suddenly Mal, who is suited and on top of Serenity, begins firing the laser cannon at the Reaver ship causing it to explode.

Mal (over the comm) Now!

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
Wash begins flipping switches

Mal (over comm) Go! Move!

EXT. SPACE
Serenity's engines fire up and she takes off.

INT. ALLIANCE SHIP - BRIDGE
We see the Operative in command. CUT TO:

EXT. SPACE
We see the Alliance ship. We pull back to reveal an ENORMOUS armada, dozens upon dozens of ships of all types and sizes.
All waiting above Mr. Universe's Moon.

Alliance pilot I'm reading activity in the cloud. Operative Lock and fire on my command. (to himself)
You should have let me see her, Captain. We should have done this as men. Not with fire. Pilot Sir.

EXT. SPACE
We see SERENITY break through the ion cloud.

INT. ALLIANCE SHIP - BRIDGE
The Operative calmly watches.

CUT TO: Looking from behind Operative, seeing Serenity approaching in the distance.

Operative Vessel in range. Lock on.

EXT. SPACE
Alliance ships surrounding the Operative's ship begin positioning themselves.

CUT TO:
INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
Close up on Mal as he leans over the console, all serious-like

INT. ALLIANCE SHIP - BRIDGE
We see the Operative confident and in command.

Operative (to underling) Bastard's not even changing course.

EXT. SPACE
We see Serenity continuing to approach when suddenly:
Dozens of Reaver ships break through the cloud. We have an armada of our own.

PILOT Sir!

EXT. SPACE
We see the earlier shot of the Operative's armada, suddenly confronted with the Reaver armada.

INT. OPERATIVE'S BRIDGE

Operative (beginning to panic) Target the Reavers. Target the Reavers!

(shouting)

Target everyone! Somebody fire!

EXT. SPACE
The battle begins.

Both sides begin firing. Ships explode. The Reaver ships reach the Alliance ships. Serenity flies into and through the Alliance aramada.

CUT-TO: INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
Wash in the pilot's chair skillfully maneuvering. Zoe and Jayne stand behind him.

INT. SERENITY - Passenger lounge.
Everyone not on the bridge is sitting, gripping the arms of their chairs.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
CLOSE-UP: Wash, totally focused, yet strangely calm.

Wash I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.

EXT. SPACE - VFX - CONTINUING
Serenity slips right under the Operative's ship and ducks and weaves between dozens more. The Reaver force hits the Alliance head on - and several ships do just that, smashing into bigger ships kamikaze-style, everything exploding -

The fleet mobilizes, blasting Reaver ships, circling around, and an air war begins, a frenzied, balletic ecstasy of destruction that the camera hurtles through as ships and parts of ships fly at and past it.

ANGLE: SERENITY
She nearly makes it all the way through the Alliance fleet before a barrelling chunk of debris - which is twice their size - forces them to come hard about and remain in the fray.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
Mal looks out at the chaos...

Mal Chicken's come home to roost.

They are suddenly JOLTED by a glancing blow from another ship - Wash struggles to control her --

Mal The hell? Wash It's okay. I am a leaf on the wind! Mal What does that mean?

Wash struggles to control the ship

EXT. SPACE - VFX - CONTINUING
Serenity makes her way past through carnage and heads down toward the tiny satellite moon.

INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - CORRIDOR - CONTINUING
As the vessel shakes, clearly breached, The Operative runs through the smoky hall. He stops to pull a laser side-arm from a dead soldier. Moves to a pair of doors that open onto standing, almost formfitting one-man cockpits.
The first is open, the bloodied Ensign trying to get in. The Operative helps him in, puts his hand on the release lever and shuts the door, opens the second and drops in. The door shuts and he yanks his release lever.

EXT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - VFX - CONTINUING
The Dart disengages and bullets down towards the surface. As it moves from the Operative's ship, we see that a Reaver vessel has smashed into the main viewshield, and the ship is spinning, explosions popping silently all over it. The Ensign's dart is only partially disengaged when it explodes as well.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Wash We're almost through.

EXT. SPACE
Serenity continues to fly through exploding ships. Wash approaches a ship that has just gone up in flames.

Mal No! No! No! Wash Yes! Yes!

We successfully make it past that disaster, but the Reaver ship following just as two ships ram each other in a spectacular collision. One of them is ...

Zoe We're not alone. EMP!

EXT. SERENITY - VFX - CONTINUING
She continues down, the metallic expanse of Mr Universe's little moon complex sprawling below them. A moment after Serenity blows through frame, so does a Reaver ship.

It fires an electronic pulse at Serenity and sparks fly. The ship loses power.

Mal Everybody, strap yourselves into something! Mal Jayne. Jayne Got it.

Jayne leaves the bridge and runs back to the common area.

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA
Everyone elase is seated around the table, hanging on for dear life.

Jayne Kaylee, come on.

Jayne makes sure everyone is belted in, the sits and belts himnself in.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Wash We're fried. I got no control. Mal Where's the backup?

Wash turns everything off in an attempt toe "reboot" Serenity.

EXT. SPACE
Serenity plummets out of control and begins spinning.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
We are in a spiraling nosedive, everyone holding on a best they can.
Wash reaches over and turns Serenity back on. She powers up and Wash regains control.

Mr. Univers's moon is coming up fast.

Wash (talking to Serenity as he attempts to stop their fall) Check! Check! Get up! Stop it! Zoe Backup reads at 20%. Can you get us down? Wash I'm going to have to glide her in. Zoe Will that work?

EXT. LANDING STRIP - VFX - CONTINUING
We can see it, a long strip, which halfway along becomes a kind of hangar. Serenity arcs at it uncomfortably fast.

EXT./INT. LANDING STRIP/HANGAR - VFX - CONTINUING
And Serenity HITS the ground - the landing gear folds and snaps under the weight - the ship keeps going, now inside the hangar, heading towards the entrance to the facility, slowing, fishtailing and coming about a full one-eighty -

A standing beam shears off one of the side thrusters -

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
The team are shaken badly -

INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING
- as are the rest --

INT. LANDING STRIP - CONTINUING
- she goes beyond the strip and crashes down into the pedestrian area, so that the nose is sticking back out at the runway but the body of the ship is hidden from it.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
There is a moment of quiet.

Wash I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how ...

A massive harpoon CRASHES through the windwhield and impales him to his chair. It's as thick around as a telephone pole.

Wash has time to open his mouth in surprise before he is dead.

Zoe Wash, baby. Baby, no. Baby, come on. You gotta go. Come on. We gotta move. Baby, please. We gotta move, baby, come on. Mal Zoe! Move out! Now! Go. Go.

Mal rips her away and to the floor as another projectile slams through the window into the wall above them.

EXT. LANDING STRIP - CONTINUING
We see the ship that fired the harpoons as it has entered from an opening in the roof of the hangar. A second Reaver vessel enters frame from above, about to land next to it.

EXT. SERENITY - MOMENTS LATER
The cargo bay door opens - just the little door housed inside the ramp - and Jayne comes out with his biggest gun. He looks up, toward the edge of the runway, but no Reavers have arrived yet.

The entire crew piles out, all heavily bedecked with weapons.

Mal Head inside!

INT. BLACK ROOM/INNER HALL - MOMENTS LATER
A small double-sized doorway leads to the "Black Room", which is the entrance proper to the facility.

Mal hits the button and huge, thick, blast doors open from the sides AND the top and bottom, creating the effect of a square hole getting bigger. The hall itself is smaller than the black room, but still has the arrows on the ceiling, that point to an elevator some fifty feet away.

Mal Jayne, rear-guard.

Mal enters the hall, finds the elevator, then returns to the Black Room

Mal Zoe, what've we got? Zoe Sir, this is a good hold point. Mal We all stay together. Zoe No. They have to come through here. They'll bottleneck, we can thin them out. We get pushed back, there's the blast doors. Kaylee I can rig them so they won't reopen once they close. Mal Shut them and hide until I get ... Zoe We need to draw them till it's done. This is the place. We'll buy you the time. Jayne All right, let's move these crates back there for cover. Make sure they ain't filled with nothing goes boom. Kaylee Wait, Wash! Where's Wash?

Nobody (but River) realizes he wasn't there. Zoe is dead calm.

Zoe He ain't coming.

Everybody takes that in, Kaylee's eyes welling up.

Jayne Move the gorramn crates!

We hear savage SCREAMS from the hangar, they're approaching. Mal moves to the door, Jayne beside him.

ANGLE: HIS POV
Reavers rush toward them. He turns to Jayne.

Mal Tell me you brought them this time.

Jayne smiles grimly, tosses Mal a grenade as he pops his own and fastballs it at the Reavers.

It explodes in their midst, smoke and man-parts flying about. Mal rolls his a shorter distance, then slams the door shut.

ANGLE: THE GRENADE
Explodes, raining a bunch of equipment - and part of a catwalk - right in front of the door. In the black room, the door nearly buckles from the explosion. Everyone takes positions behind the crates.

Zoe stands calmly, her back to the door, loading her sawed-off.

Mal Zoe? Are you here? Zoe Do the job, sir. Mal You hold. Hold till I get back. Jayne Captain's right. Can't be thinking on revenge if we're gonna get through this. Zoe Do you really think any of us are gonna get through this? Jayne (pause) I might. >

INT. MR UNIVERSE's HQ - MOMENTS LATER

The elevator stops and Mal makes his way to the island of screens and machines in the center of the space.

The first thing he takes in is that every broadwave port has been destroyed. The second

ANGLE: MR UNIVERSE is lying dead, eyes open, half draped on his equally still lovebot. A trail of blood shows he crawled from his chair.

Mal comes close. Nothing. He starts to move away again and the lovebot turns her head, her eyes focusing with an audible whir. She speaks with surprisingly realistic expressiveness, and a warped, computery version of Mr Universe's voice.

Lenore Mal.

Mal stops.

Lenore (Mr. Universe recording) Guy killed me, Mal. He killed me with a sword How weird is that? I got a short span here. They destroyed my equipment, but I have a backup unit. Bottom of the complex, right over the generator. Hard to get to. I know they missed it. They can't stop the signal, Mal. They can never stop the signal.

She turns back, powering down. Recording over.

A beat, and Mal takes off.

INT. BLACK ROOM - CONTINUING
Inara is on her knees, unwrapping the oilcloth we saw in her shuttle. River is in the corner, clutching her head.

River The Reavers. They are all made up of rage. Simon It's okay. It's okay. River I can't shut them up.

A BANG as a body slams against the door.

Simon Stay low.

Jayne moves past them to Zoe, takes position by her.

Jayne She picked a sweet bung of a time to go helpless on us. Zoe (calls out) Jayne and I take the first wave. Nobody shoots unless they get past our fire.

Simon moves to Kaylee, who is shaky as hell. The bangs on the door continue.

Kaylee (frightened) I didn't plan on going out like this. I think we did right, but ... Simon No. I never planned anything. I just wanted to keep River safe. Spent so much time on Serenity ignoring anything that I wanted for myself. My one regret in all of this is never being with you.

She looks at him with soft surprise.

Kaylee With me? You mean to say, as ... Sex? Simon (smiles) I mean to say.

Kaylee snaps her cartridge home with way more precision than we might expect from her, takes steady aim at the door.

Kaylee Hell with this. I'm gonna live.

INT. MR UNIVERSE'S HQ - CONTINUING
A panel is kicked in from the ceiling and the Operative drops down, having clearly entered from a different location.

He looks around, carrying a laser-pistol. He moves past Mr Universe and Lenore -

Lenore (recording) (to Operative) Mal. Guy killed me, Mal. He killed me with a sword.

INT. BASEMENT, OVER THE GENERATOR - CONTINUING
Mal has reached it and surveys the situation.

Before him is a railing, and he can look down on the generator shaft. It's miles deep, with machines rotating and grinding, and arcs of electricity ricochetting around it.

On the other side is a platform, with the broadwave console sitting behind a clear plastic partition. Cables and chains run along the ceiling, around a series of ladder rungs.

Mal "Hard to get to." That's a fact.

INT. BLACK ROOM - CONTINUING
The door is pried partially open - enough for one Reaver to squeeze through and charge.

Zoe stands up and shoots him in the head. He arcs back hard as the second comes, Zoe shoots him, calmly walking toward the door -

Jayne Zoe, gorrammit...

But she is in a trance, and we see beneath the calm, to the bubbling magma of rage that keeps her firing, single shots, each one a kill, till five men down and she's out of ammo.

The sixth comes at her swinging a blade and she blocks, the precision of military training still in her as she flips him, wresting the blade free and swinging it down out of frame, bringing it up bloody, swinging again as the door bursts open and she's rushed from behind -

But Jayne totes an automatic, sprays killing fire on the lot, moving forward himself -

Jayne Zoe, gorrammit! Zoe, get your ass back on the line!

She looks up, almost confused - and one of Jayne's targets comes back off the ground and slices at her back with a blade, she screams as he cuts deep - and an arrow lodges in his neck.

Inara pulls up a fresh arrow, shaking only slightly.

INT. BASEMENT, OVER THE GENERATOR - LATER
Mal is on the railing, reaching for the 'rungs' on the ceiling just above him. He can almost get them - one wrong move and he pitches into the jaws of death...

A laser shot nails him in the lower back - he arches, legs sliding off the rail - he falls and hits the rail with the backs of his legs, flipping painfully onto his face as he falls, mercifully, back onto the platform.

The Operative comes around some equipment for a closer shot as Mal gets shakily up.

Mal You shot me in the back! I haven't made you angry, have l? Operative There are a lot of innocent people in the air being killed right now. Mal You have no idea how true that is.

There's no wise-ass attitude in him now. They stand, facing off at ten paces.

I know the secret. The truth that burned up River Tam's brain. Rest of the 'verse is going to know it, too. 'Cause they need to. Operative Do you really believe that? Mal I do. Operative You willing to die for that belief? Mal I am.

The Operative raises his gun - but Mal is the quickdraw master, shoots the gun out of the Operative's hand and gets two hits to the chest (armored) before he makes it to cover.

Of course, that ain't exactly Plan A.

The Operative hides behind some machinery. Tries to peek out at Mal - and more shots send him scrambling back to cover.

Mal holsters his gun and jumps for the rung above him, starts going hand over hand to the island, moving as fast as he can.

The Operative sees his moment, dives for his gun - but it's been ruined by Mal's shot. He looks over at Mal with death in his eyes. He runs at the railing, vaults off it, and grabs a chain - it snaps and he swings, grabbing another.

He reaches Mal and double kicks him from behind - Mal flies off the rung but grabs a chain - he tries to kick at the Operative, but the guy is frikkin' Tarzan, he climbs up and pulls a lever releasing one end of Mal's chain - Mal goes swinging, smacks into the wall six feet below the platform.

He scrambles up just as the Operative swings himself toward the platform from above.

INT. BLACK ROOM/INNER CORRIDOR - CONTINUING
Jayne is still firing continuously as he drags Zoe back to the barricades. Simon moves to help - Kaylee firing now, squinting with effort - and pulls open the cut back of Zoe's shirt, checks the wound.

Simon Spine's intact. Zoe Just give me a bandage.

Simon pulls a spraycan from his bag, sprays the wound with a foam that hardens instantly into an elastic covering.

Jayne Up high, left! Kaylee!

There are a few gun shots (as well as nail-balls and blades) from the Reavers. Jayne switches weapons, tossing another to Zoe and opening fire -
He takes a hit in the shoulder, grimmaces and keeps firing. River watches, the gun limp in her hand. Kaylee grabs it and starts another round - but she's peppered with dart-like projectiles. She screams and drops the weapon, pulling the projectiles from her - Inara helps her up, pulls her back as Zoe shouts:

Zoe Fall back! Everybody, fall back! Fall back now!

Everyone stumbles or is dragged into the inner corridor. Inara hits the controls and the doors start to close, from each side and above and below. Then, when the hole is maybe four by four, they stop.

Zoe Jayne, grenade. Jayne Very last one.

He tosses it through the hole. Zoe doesn't even flinch from the blast as she thinks.

Zoe They're gonna get in. Kaylee I can close it from the outside. Zoe No one's coming back from that...

She tries to stand, falls.

Zoe How much ammo do we have? Jayne Three, four max, and my swinging cod. That's all.

Inara is by the elevator, pounding for it to come.

Inara The lift isn't moving. Zoe When they come, try to plug the hole with it.

Kaylee cries out and Simon moves to her.

Kaylee I'm starting to lose some feeling here. Simon Lie still. I'm going to give you something ...

He stands, looking around him. His bag is outside the blast doors where he put the bandage on Zoe..

My bag.

and SHKOWW!, the bullet takes him in the belly - everything suddenly moving very slowly as he spins slightly, one foot lifted, a confused expression on his face - then speeding right back up as he slams down on his back, gasping for air.

River's mouth opens in a scream she doesn't make.

Blood spreads from Simon's belly. Inara rushes to him, grabs cloth and puts pressure on the wound, puts Simon's hand on it.

INara Keep pressure here. Simon My bag. I need adrenaline and a shot of calaphar for Kaylee. I can't.

River is by his side, takes his hand. She has a kind of serenity to her, like she understands something now.

Simon River. River, I'm sorry. River No. Simon I hate to ... leave ... River You won't. You take care of me, Simon. You've always taken care of me.

She stands as the emergency lights come on, giving her face an unearthly glow as she looks down at him.

My turn.

She's running so fast, nobody has time to react til she DIVES through the hole in the doors, then Simon SCREAMS her name, the scream following us back into the Black Room where River lands in a perfect roll, comes up in a room full of Reavers.

Without a moment's hesitation she makes it to the panel, gets the doors closing. She dodges a blade, but a blow to the back of the head shakes her. She weaves around a couple of Reavers to get to the closing doors, but at the last second her ankle is grabbed and pulled out from under her.

She grabs Simon's bag and throws it through the closing doors. The last thing we see is her being dragged back as they swarm over her.

ANGLE: THE BLAST DOORS
as they shut with a shuddering KLUNG.

INT. BASEMENT, OVER THE GENERATOR - CONTINUING
Mal gets up the chain to the platform. The Operative is on Mal before he gets his footing, tackles him as Mal's gun goes skittering over the edge into oblivion. There is a railing here or Mal would go over as well - but he comes back with a couple of hammer blows, gets the Operative off him.

They square off, Mal stumbling back into a tool chest, knocking over tools and computer parts.

The Operative reaches behind him and pulls his sword gracefully from the holster under his jacket.

Mal produces his weapon: a tiny screwdriver.

He hurls a toolbox at the Operative and rushes him, gets inside sword range and tries for the neck with the screwdriver - the Operative blocks it and works the sword point against the edge of Mal's stomach. Starts pushing slowly, despite Mal's resistence, and breaks skin.

Mal looks at the Operative a moment - and the sword slides all the way through Mal's belly. Mal's eyes go wide.

The Operative You know what your sin is, Malcolm? Mal (shaky smile) Ah hell, I'm a fan of all seven.

He headbutts the Operative viciously, then punches him so hard he staggers back, losing his grip on the sword. The Operative responds with a spin kick - Mal holds up the screwdriver and the Operative swings his foot right into it, gasping as Mal pulls the screwdriver - and leg it's sticking in - back as he rockets his fist into the Operative's chin.

The Operative goes down hard, dazed, as Mal grabs the sword still in his belly.

Mal But right now...

He pulls the sword out, grimacing. Holds it over the Operative. The smile gone.

I'm gonna have to go with Wrath.

He stabs down at his foe's face - but the Operative rolls out of the way, kicks Mal from the ground and is up in a second, grabbing Mal's sword hand - the sword drops -- and punching him repeatedly in his stomach wound.

INT. INNER HALL - CONTINUING
The gang is subdued - because they are all of them injured and Simon is slipping away. Jayne looks at Zoe.

Jayne We ain't got long. You suppose he got through? Do you think Mal got the word out? Zoe (almost convincingly) He got through. I know he got through.

INT. BASEMENT, OVER THE GENERATOR - CONTINUING
Mal goes down hard, spitting up blood. He sees the sword, moves - but the Operative kicks him in the face. Picks him up, Mal too tired to throw a decent punch.

The Operative I'm sorry.

The Operative spins him and DIGS his bunched fingers right into the same nerve cluster that he paralized Doctor Mathias with. Mal goes rigid, his face a rictus of pain.

The Operative goes near the railing and retrieves his sword. Mal trembles, trying to move - but nothing happens.

The Operative You should know there's no shame in this. You've done remarkable things. But you're fighting a war you've already lost.

He lunges - and Mal twists gracefully out of the way, grabbing the Operative's swordhand and pulling it forward - while driving his elbow into the Operative's neck with staggering force.

Mal Well, I'm known for that.

The Operative drops the blade, mouth open, stumbling back, unable to make a sound.

Mal spins him, grabbing both his arms and working his own through them in a twisted full nelson - then bringing his arms up suddenly, the Operative's mouth going wider as we hear his arms crack.

Mal drops him sitting against the railing, picks up his sword, saying:

Mal Piece a shrapnel tore up that nerve cluster my first tour. Had it moved.

He squats down, looks the Operative in the face.

Mal Sorry 'bout the throat. Expect you'd wanna say your famous last words now. Just one trouble.

He reaches over the railing, pulls the back of the Operative's jacket through and shoves the sword through the fabric, pinning the Operative in his sitting position.

I ain't gonna kill you.

He moves to the console, starts prepping it.

Hell, I'm gonna grant your greatest wish.

He inserts the disc, turns it slightly. It hums to life.

I'm gonna show you a world without sin.

He hits "send all". The cylinder lights up and the broadcast begins. Here it is projected as a two-dimensional image on the clear plastic partition, right in front of the Operative.

There are images first of the city - of bodies, on the street, in homes and offices... image after image, just as we saw on the research vessel - and in River's mind.

Dr. Caron (V.O.) These are just a few of the few images we've recorded...

Mal hits the controls and a ramp extends towards the other side. He begins to cross. Never even looks back.

On the Operative, trapped, watching in growing horror...

INT. BLACK ROOM - CONTINUING

CLOSE ON: A Reaver in EXTREME SLOW MOTION. Face full of fury, he is swinging his blade in a frenzy of hate.

And a small hand smashes that face so hard that teeth fly - the Reaver clearing frame to reveal:

River.

She is bloodied, but not killed. She's as she was in the bar - moving faster and more efficiently than anyone can, ducking and weaving and gutting and kicking and there are piles of Reavers already, she never breaks concentration as she uses their own blades against them, throws them, does everything in her power to stay one step ahead of - or above -- the mob.

She slams backwards into a wall opposite the blast doors - and a grappling hook punches through it, just missing her.

INT. BASEMENT, OVER THE GENERATOR - CONTINUING
The Operative watches the end of the broadcast. We are on his face through the clear plastic, so the images projected on it blur right before him: the Reaver, Dr. Caron - and her screaming doesn't stop til something is shoved in her mouth.

INT. INNER HALL - CONTINUING
The gang is still trying to patch themselves together when the elevator doors open. Mal staggers out, holding his bleeding side.

Zoe Sir? Mal It's done. Report.

Zoe looks at the badly wounded Simon, is about to give a report - and the doors start to open behind her.

Everyone turns to look, those who can feebly raising weapons, as the square iris of the opening blast doors widens to reveal River, standing alone. She is holding two Reaver blades, is bloody but unbowed. And the only one alive.

We hold on her a moment, then the wall behind her is ripped completely away.

Behind it, grappling hooks chained to a huge tractor pull the wall away as through the smoke come some fifteen Alliance soldiers, who line up, rifles trained on our gang...

Alliance soldiers Drop your weapons! Do it now. Weapons down. Let it down, now. I want to see your hands in the air.

Mal and the others tense up. River tighten her grip on her weapons...
A soldier levels his gun at her, sweaty and frantic... others still shouting...

Mal Stand down. Do it.

INT. BASEMENT, OVER THE GENERATOR - CONTINUING
The Operative sits in silence, the voices coming over his com:

Alliance soldiers (O.S.) Targets are acquired. Do we have a kill order? Do we have an order?

INT. BLACK ROOM - CONTINUING
CLOSE ON: THE SOLDIER'S FINGER, SQUEEZING THE TRIGGER...

Operative (over loud speakers) Stand down. Stand down. It's finished. We're finished

BLACK OUT

 
Epilogue
Good Answer

EXT. REPAIR YARD/TOP OF SERENITY - DAY

Mal and Jayne hold onto the cannon as a crane is lifting it off the top of the ship.

Close on Mal as he watches it go...

WIDER ANGLE: EXT. REPAIR YARD - CONTINUING
And here we see the whole ship for the first time, harnessed by the wings above the ground so she can be worked on all over. The cannon is being hoisted away from her as a crew of repairmen wheel new landing gear under her belly.

INT. ENGINE ROOM - DAY
Kaylee, deeply greasy, tweaks a part on the engine and crosses to the back where Simon, shirtless and not entirely ungreasy himself, is wrenching a bolt into place above his head. A moment looking at him and she can't help herself - she slides her arms around his chest...

EXT. SERENITY - DAY
On a scaffold, Inara repaints the name on the nose with elegant precision.

INT. ENGINE ROOM - DAY
Kaylee and Simon are just making out like fiends, work completely forgotten. With nothing resembling elegant precision, they sink out of frame to the floor.

A beat, and River's head appears from the crawlspace above, looking down at them with detatched curiosity.

EXT. REPAIR YARD/SERENITY - DAY
It's raining as Mal is hauling in the last of the repair equipment. The camera moves around him, skirting the ground of the junkyard, till it lands on a figure in foreground, standing watching him from some twenty feet away. Mal stops, doesn't turn. Hand near his gun.

Operative It's not over, you know. I can't guarantee that they won't come after you. The Parliament. Your broadwave about Miranda has weakened their regime. They are not gone and they are not forgiving. Mal That don't bode especially well for you, giving the order to let us go, patching up our hurt. Operative I told them the Tams were no longer a threat, damage done. They might listen, but I think they know I'm no longer their man. Mal They take you down, I don't expect to grieve over much. Like to kill you myself, I see you again. Operative You won't. There is nothing left to see.

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING
Mal stows the gear as Zoe approaches

Zoe Sir, we have a green light. Inspection's pos and we're clear for up-thrust.

Pull back to view entire cargo bay as Mal walks into frame. They meet in the middle.

Mal Think she'll hold together? Zoe She's tore up plenty. But she'll fly true.

They share a long, sad, quiet moment together.

Mal Make sure everything's secure. Could be bumpy. Zoe (as she turns to get back to work) Always is.

INT. FOREDECK HALL - CONTINUING
Mal comes in and passes Inara. Jayne walks through as they talk, eating a bowl of rice and heading down into his bunk. Pays them no mind. Neither do Simon and Kaylee, in the dining room stowing supplies.

Mal Taking her out. Should be about a day's ride to get you back to your girls. Inara Right. Mal Ready to get off this heap, back to civilized life? Inara I ...

Mal turns to look back at her.

CUT TO: Close up on Inara

Inara ... I don't know. Mal Good answer.

Mal turns to enter Bridge. Inara smiles and turns to enter dining room.

INT. - SERENITY BRIDGE CONTINUING
Mal enters and sits in Wash's chair. He begins preparations for take-off.
We swing around from behind 'til we are facing him.

Mal So you gonna ride shotgun with me, help me fly?

Pan across to see River is sitting in the co-pilot's chair.

River That's the plan. Mal Think you can work out ...

She is flipping switches without even looking, as the ship hums to life.

EXT. SERENITY - VFX - CONTINUING
Her engines fire up and tilt. She lifts gently off the ground.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING
Mal looks slightly, only slightly nonplussed

Mal Okay. Clearly some aptitude for the ...
It ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say.
River I do. But I like to hear you say it.

He looks out at the rain on his windows, at his screens, taking her up as he says:

Mal Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down, tells you she's hurting before she keels. Makes her a home.

River also looks out at the sky.

River Storm's getting worse. Mal We'll pass through it soon enough.

EXT. SERENITY - VFX - CONTINUING

As we shoot up with her through sheeting rain, towards the top of the sky.

EXT. SPACE - VFX - MOMENTS LATER
We are looking down on the storm clouds as Serenity bursts out of them, comes at us, flared by the sun behind the planet as she passes us, her Firefly effect lighting up, about to shoot off into the heavens

There's a spark and a piece of paneling pops off, whips at camera, blacking out the frame.

Mal (O.S.) What was that?

BLACK OUT

End of Show