Notes Episode information
Credits Details & Cast
Intro "Lovely place, I'll tell my friends."
Act 1 "Oh, look at the pretties!"
Act 2 "I cannot abide useless people."
Act 3 "Up until the punching, it was a real nice party."
Act 4 "Doc is the diversion."
Complicated escape and rescue op

They start in a bar and get into a fight with slavers. From there they head to Persephone.


Wash mentions that they left Santo in a hurry, and this is while seeing the "sunrise" over Persephone, indicating this is the same day. Zoe says that they may be staying on Persephone a week or more. Inara tells Mal that Wing has engaged her for several days and that the ball is "tomorrow night".

The sword fight is the day after the ball, or the third day. The product will be in Serenity's hold "before midnight" so Mal and Inara drinking wine occurs the next day or on the fourth day.

This episode covers four days.


The bar fight happens on Santo. Everything else occurs on Persephone.

River, when talking to Badger, remarks that he is from Dyton colony to which he says its nice to meet someone from home. [Note: the subtitles have this as "Titan" colony, incorrect].

Transcribed by: Ling Mao (modifications by me)
Original Air Date: November 1, 2002
Written by: Jane Espenson
Directed by: Vern Gillum
Carl Bresk
Wright (slaver)
Michael McMillian
Young Hopeful
Edward Atterton
Atherton Wing
Mark A. Sheppard
Joshua Grenroc
Kim Onasch
Banning Miller
Janora McDuffie
Larry Pennell
Larry Drake
Sir Warrick Harrow
Casey Piotrowski
Older Farmer
Hunter Cochran
Younger Farmer
Roy Werner
Atherton's Second
* Apparently many have heard her name as "Zoe" (though it doesn't sound like that to us) but the script clearly states her name is "Zelle"
Lovely place, I'll tell my friends

Mal and Jayne are playing pool with a guy named Wright, while Inara sits at the bar and sips a dainty pink drink.

Wright Didn't hardly have to convert the ship even. Six in the corner. Stronger locks, thicker doors, keep everybody where they're supposed to be. Don't even need more rations.

Pool balls on table waver and nearly disappear, like a holographic image shorting out.

Wright (in Chinese) Way

A bar worker motions to the wall.

Cut to a shot of a sign on the wall "MANAGEMENT NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR BALL FAILURE".

Jayne You made money, huh? Wright Hand over fist, my friend. Water planets need labor, terraforming crews got a prodigious death rate. Mal Labor, you mean, uh ... slaves. Wright Well it wasn't volunteers, for damn sure. Mal That why you didn't have to lay in more rations? Wright I didn't hear no complaints. Jayne How much money, lots?

Mal walks over to Inara, who's been watching the game from the bar.

Mal There's a chance you might want to head back to the ship. Inara Oh, I'm all right. This is entertaining, actually. Mal Yeah? What's entertaining? Inara I like watching the game. As with other situations, the key seems to be giving Jayne a heavy stick and standing back. Mal Still, might ought to clear out before too much longer. Seems there's a thief about. Inara A thief? Mal Took this right off him.

(Mal hands Inara a wad of cash.)

Now they earned that with the sweat of their slave-trading brows. Inara (hushed and a bit shocked) Mal...

Inara shoves the cash into her bra.

Mal Aw, terrible shame. Course they won't discover it till they go order their next round of drinks.

Hand comes from behind and grabs Mal's shoulder.

Wright (in Chinese) Way
Mal Good drinker, that one.

Mal turns and slugs the grabber square in the jaw. Raucous bar fight ensues, Mal and Jayne basically kicking ass, while Inara stays out of the way and looks on. Bad guys down, if not beaten, Mal takes Inara's arm and hustles her out.

Inara Lovely place, I'll tell my friends.


Act 1
Oh, look at the pretties!

Wash is piloting the ship while Zoe looks out the front port.

Wash Seem to you we cleared out of Santo in a hurry? Zoe Seems we do that a lot. Heard tell though, we're going to stay a while on Persephone. Wash Shiny. Zoe Yeah? Thought you'd get land crazy that long in port. Wash Probably, but I've been sane a long while now, and change is good.

Mal enters the bridge.

Mal Well, ain't that a joyful sight? Wash Gotta love a sunset. Zoe Starting to get familiar too, like a second home. Mal Persephone ain't home. Too many people we got to avoid. Re-supply, look for work, move along. Sniff the air, we don't kiss the dirt. Zoe Wasn't planning on the dirt-kissing, sir. Wash Besides, I wouldn't stand for it anyway, Captain, jealous man like me.

(re: alarm sounding from the console)

Closing in. Zoe Planet's coming up a mite fast. Wash That's just cause, I'm going down too quick. Likely crash and kill us all. Mal Well, that happens, let me know.

Mal walks off the bridge.

Wash (maybe a tad nervous) Okay. Whoa. No, we're good, we're good. It's okay.

Cut to a computer screen with several faces displayed. Inara deletes a few faces, and then selects one which enlarges and begins speaking. The face belongs to a well-dressed but awkward young man.

Young Hopeful I understand your time on our planet is limited, and if you've selected my proposal to hear, then the honor you do me flatters.... my honor....and I hope that...

Inara cuts off the recitation and selects another face. While the previous young man's speech seemed pre-recorded, this is clearly a live transmission.

Atherton Now there's the smile made of sunlight. Inara Atherton, how wonderful to see you. Atherton Did you get my message? I was extra appealing. Inara What a flattering invitation. I had no idea I was arriving in time for the social event of the season. Atherton So, you'll accompany me? I ask, heart in my throat. There's a certain offer I'm still waiting to hear about.

Off-screen knocking at the door.

Inara Yes, I imagine there is. I'm delighted to say I'll be there. Now, I'm sorry Atherton, but I have to run. Atherton No, please, I understand. I'll see you soon, bao bay宝贝

Mal enters Inara's shuttle.

Inara Good afternoon, Captain. Mal Morning. We're downing, and in case that Wash don't kill us all, local time's going to be in the a.m., 10 or so. Inara Yes, I saw that. Mal (looking over Inara's shoulder, which still shows the face of Atherton) Making plans? "Atherton Wing". He's a regular, ain't he?

Inara covers the computer screen with a handy drapery.

Inara I've seen him before. Mal Oh, I never did. Not what I pictured - young. Must be rich too, to afford your rates. Inara I suppose. He has engaged me for several days. Mal Days!? Boy must have stamina. Inara He does. Mal Well...fine. Is he letting you out at all? Inara Actually, we're attending a ball tomorrow night. Mal Tell me, do all the men there pay for their dates, or just the young rich ones with stamina? Inara Most of the women in there will not be Companions, if that's what you're asking. Perhaps the other men couldn't attract one. Mal Hmm. It's sounds like the finest party I can imagine getting paid to go to. Inara I don't suppose you'd find it up to standards of your outings. More conversation and somewhat less petty theft and getting hit with pool cues. I understand if you need to go prepare for that "It's 10 in the morning" issue. Mal Yeah. Better go do that. 'Cause I think this is more of an evening look.

Kaylee, Zoe, Wash, Mal and Jayne are walking through a street, carrying luggage. Kaylee spies a shop window and moves in for a closer look. The others follow.

Kaylee Oh, look at the pretties! Wash What am I looking at, the girls or the clothes? Jayne There's clothes? Zoe The clothes, please. Kaylee (indicating a pink frilly dress, something out of Gone With the Wind) Say, look at the fluffy one. Zoe Too much foofaraw. If I'm going to wear a dress, I'd want something with some slink. Wash (eagerly) You want a slinky dress? I can buy you a slinky dress. Captain, can I have money for a slinky dress? Jayne I'll chip in. Zoe (to Jayne) I can hurt you. Kaylee The only place I seen somethin' so nice is some of the things Inara has. Mal Well, we best be movin'. Zoe (to Kaylee) I guess she needs all that stuff, the life she leads. Kaylee Well, sure. Sometimes the customers buy her things. Some real rich men. Mal Come on! These ain't feathers I'm toting here, ya know? Kaylee I like the ruffles. Inara gets to wear whatever she wants. Mal What are you going to do in that rig? Flounce around the engine room? Be like a sheep walking on its hind legs.

Kaylee walks off, obviously hurt. Zoe gives Mal a glare.

Zoe See ya on the ship, Captain.

Mal looks disgusted with himself.

Zoe, Wash and Kaylee board a quad-runner type thing and leave.

Jayne (to Mal) Is she mad or something?

Off screen sound of gun cocking. Mal turns to see a dread-locked man holding a rifle on him. We see at least one more thug with a rifle at the ready. A small man in a derby approaches from the side.

Mal Badger. Badger (noticeable cockney accent) Captain Reynolds. Heard you was in town. Thought we might have a bit of a sit-down. Mal Prefer a bit of a piss-off. Badger I'm very sorry. Did I give you the impression I was asking?

Jayne, Mal and Badger are seated around what is possibly a crate, passing for a table.

Mal Seems the last time there was a chance for a little palaver we were all manner of unwelcome. Jayne (sipping from a chipped tea cup) This ain't bad. Badger There's a trick to it: wood-alcohol. Mal Now we're favored guests... treated to the finest in beverages that make you blind. So what is it you need? Jayne (mouth full as he reaches for more sandwiches that are laid out on the table) Mmm, 'scuse me. Badger There's a local, but the name of Warrick Harrow. Got some property he wants to sell off-planet...fetch a high price. Mal The local powers won't let him sell off-world. Badger It's a conundrum. What my man Harrow needs himself is a smuggler. Willing to cut you in on it. Mal Why me? You have access to ships. You could do it yourself. Badger He won't deal with me direct. He's taken an irrational dislike. Jayne What happened? He see your face? Badger He's a quality gent. Nose in the air like he never wun gwo pee闻过屁
smelled a fart
. Don't find me respectable. But you, now I figure you got a chance.
Mal You backed out of a deal last time. Left us hanging. Jayne Hurt our feelings. Mal You recall why that took place? Badger Had a problem with your attitude is why. Felt you was... what's the word? Jayne Pretentious?

Mal looks at Jayne as if he's surprised to learn Jayne knows a word with that many syllables.

Badger Exactly! You think you're better than other people. Mal Just the ones I'm better than. And that very quality is the one I think you're placing value on today. Badger I place value on the fact that the stick up your pee-goo屁股
is 'bout as large as the one Harrow's got.
Mal How would you set up a meet, man that won't deal with you? Badger I know a place he'll be. Safe place. Using some new-tech gun scans. High-class too. Wouldn't let me in there. You might slip in. Course you couldn't buy an invite with a diamond the size of a testicle, but I got my hands on a couple.

Mal and Jayne glance at each other, snickering like little boys.

Badger Of invites! You want this meeting or not?

There is a porter announcing guests as they arrive.

Porter Colonel Cyrus Momsen, and escort.


William and Lady Cortland.

A translucent grid appears, Cortland hands over a small handgun to a waiting security guard.

Porter Atherton Wing, and Inara Serra.

Inara and Atherton enter the ballroom, with is terribly genteel and stylish, people are dancing in a very courtly fashion.

Inara (to a woman standing off to one side) Roberta, its been too long.

(to an older man seated and sipping a glass of red wine, in Chinese)

Lao pung yo, nee can chi lai hun yo jing shen老朋友,你看起来很有精神
You're looking wonderful, old friend
Atherton Half the men in this room wish you were on their arm, tonight. Inara Only half? I must be losing my indefinable allure. Atherton Oh, its not that indefinable.


All of them wish they were in your bed. Inara (seems a bit put off by that remark) I'm looking for the boy with the shimmerwine. Atherton Oh, she blushes. Not many in your line of work do that. You are a very singular woman. And I find.... I find I admire you more and more.

Kaylee is working on something mechanical. Mal enters.

Mal Kaylee? Kaylee! Kaylee I'm not speaking to you, Captain. Mal Got no need to speak. Come on. Got a job for you.

Kaylee mutters under her breath.

Atherton and Inara are dancing together.

Atherton I'm trying to offer you something you know. A life. Inara Atherton... Atherton You can live here on Persephone, as my personal companion. Inara You are a generous man. Atherton That is not a "yes". Inara It's not a "no", either.

(to a woman dancing nearby)

You look gorgeous, dear. Atherton You belong here, Inara, not on that flying piece of go suh狗屎
[dog] crap
. You see that, don't you?
Inara Atherton, language. Atherton What? Piece of go suh狗屎
[dog] crap
? But it is a piece of go suh狗屎
[dog] crap
Porter Miss Kaywinnit Lee Frye and escort. Inara (turns and looks toward the entrance) Kaylee?

Mal and Kaylee enter the ballroom, Kaylee looking radiant in the ruffly pink hoop skirted dress she was admiring in the shop window.

Inara Oh, go suh狗屎
[dog] crap


Act 2
I cannot abide useless people

Right back where we left off, with Kaylee and Mal wandering farther into the ballroom.

Mal Does.. um.. does this seem kind of tight? Kaylee Shows off your backside. Did you see the chandelier? It's hovering! Mal What's the point of that, I wonder? Kaylee Oh! Mangoes! Mal I mean, I see how they did it. I just ain't getting the why. Kaylee These girls have the most beautiful dresses. And so do I -- how about that? Mal Yeah, well, just be careful. We cheated Badger out of good money to buy that frippery, and you're supposed to make me look respectable. Kaylee Yes, sir, Captain Tightpants. Mal Ok, I'm looking for our guy Harrow. Kaylee And Inara. We should look for Inara, right? Just to say halloo at her. Mal If we see her. I think she's wearing gold. Okay, help me find our man. He's supposed to be old, kinda stocky, wears a red sash crossways. Kaylee Why does he do that? Mal Maybe he won the Miss Persephone Pageant. Just help me look. Kaylee Is that him? Mal That's the buffet table. Kaylee Well how can we be sure, unless we question it? Mal Fine. Don't make yourself sick. Kaylee Oh, sheh-sheh谢谢
Thank you
, Captain.

Jayne, Simon and Book are playing cards. River is skulking around in the background. The boys have scraps of paper instead of chips. They seem to be playing for ship-board chores.

Simon (dealing) Ante up, gentlemen. Dishes. Book Dishes. Could do with less of them. Jayne Garbage. Simon (turns over a card) Tall card... plum. Plums are tall. Book I'll take... two. Simon Two. No tall card claim. Jayne Speaking of garbage, I'll take three. Simon Three. Dealer forced to claim the tall.

In the background, River is muttering over cans of food, getting increasingly more agitated.

Book What do you supposed the Captain and Kaylee are doing now? Septic vat. Jayne Eating steaks off of plates made of solid money, like as anything. I fold.

River is now ripping the labels from several cans of food.

Simon Me too. Tall card's around my neck like a weight. Take it Shepherd. Book That's a nice pile of things I don't have to do. River (still attacking the food packages) These are the ones that take you. They're the ones reaching and doing. They're the ones...

The three at the table finally notice River. Book and Simon move to her side.

Simon River. Book Is she hurt? Jayne You better see to her. Bad habit for a fugitive. She's going to do that in public and get herself hauled off.

As Jayne is saying this, he is re-arranging the scraps of paper that represent winnings in the card game, while Simon and Book are busy tending to freaking-out River.

River ...everywhere... and the hands go everywhere... Simon (gently restraining her) Shhh, its ok. River ...when you brush your teeth and... Book It's ok, she didn't harm much. River ...and nobody said anything.... Book We'll have a few mystery meals. Simon It's ok. Shh shh shh shh. River (calmer now) ...and then they come. Jayne So we gonna play cards, or screw around?

Cut to a long, lovely shot, traveling up Zoe's naked leg. Zoe and Wash are in bed, obviously in the throes of post-coital bliss. Both are breathless. The atmosphere is comfortable and happy. These people are deeply in love with one another.

Zoe I thought you wanted to spend more time off-ship this visit. Wash Out there is seems like its all fancy parties. I like our party better. The dress code is easier and I know all the steps. Zoe (happy and sleepy) I'd say you do at that. Wash Don't fall asleep now. Sleepiness is weakness of character. Ask anyone. You're acting captain. Know what happens you fall asleep now? Zoe Jayne slits my throat and takes over. Wash That's right. Zoe And we can't stop it. Wash Well, I wash my hands of it. It's a hopeless case. I'll read a nice poem at the funeral. Something with imagery. Zoe You could lock the door and keep the power-hungry maniac at bay. Wash Oh, no, I'm starting to like this poetry idea now.


"Here lies my beloved Zoe, my autumn flower, somewhat less attractive now she's all corpsified and gross..."

Zoe ends this eulogy with a pillow to Wash's face.


Kaylee (watching the dancing, to a young gentleman standing on the edge of the dance floor) Aren't they something. They're like butterflies, or little pieces of wrapping paper blowing around.

The young gentleman bows and walks off, leaving Kaylee. She looks a little sad, bur rallies and walks over to a group of women.

Kaylee Hello. Banning I don't.. um... have we been introduced? Kaylee (shaking hands with first woman) Oh, I'm Kaylee. Banning Banning. And this is Destra, Cabott and Zelle. Kaylee (gushing) Don't you just love this party? Everything's so fancy, and there's some kind of hot cheese over there. Cabott It's not as good as last year. Kaylee Oh really? What'd they have last year? Cabott Standards.

Kaylee looks crestfallen.

Banning Who made your dress, Kaylee? Kaylee Oh, do you like it? When I saw the ruffles, I just couldn't resist. Banning You ought to see to your girl. Kaylee Shuh moo什么
Banning Your girl. She's not very good. She made you a dress that looks like you bought it in a store. Kaylee Oh, I didn't know.

An older gentleman has obviously overheard this exchange, and walks to Kaylee's side.

Murphy Why Banning Miller. What a vision you are in your fine dress. It must have taken a dozen slaves a dozen days to get you into that getup.

(Banning preens)

'Course your daddy tells me it takes the space of a schoolboy's wink to get you out of it again.

Banning gets huffy and stalks off, followed by the other women. Kaylee looks surprised and delighted.

Murphy Forgive my rudeness. I cannot abide useless people.

Cut to Mal, as he spies his quarry. He crosses over to Harrow.

Harrow (to someone offscreen) Oh, no, thank you very much. Mal Beg pardon, but would you be Warrick Harrow? Harrow Sir Warrick Harrow. The sash. Mal The sash. Harrow It indicates lordship. Mal And it's... it's doing a great job.

Harrow sighs and moves away.

Mal Sir, my name is Malcolm Reynolds. I captain a ship, name of Serenity. I mention this because I've been led to believe you want to move some property off-world.

(he turns to see Inara dancing with Atherton, then turns back to Harrow)

Some property you want to move off-world discreetly. Harrow You're mistaken sir. I'm an honest man. Mal It seems to me there's nothing dishonest to getting your goods to people what need them. Harrow Whom do you represent? Mal "Represent" isn't exactly the... Harrow Don't waste my time. Mal Fellow called Badger. Harrow I know him. And I think he's a psychotic low-life. Mal And I think calling him that is an insult to the psychotic low-life community. But the deal is solid.

Atherton and Inara walk up.

Atherton Sorry to interrupt, Sir Warrick, I know you from the club, I believe. Inara Captain, this is Atherton Wing, Atherton, this is Captain Mal Reynolds. Mal Pleased to meet ya. Inara, I didn't realize you were going to this party. Inara It's the only party. Mal And I can see why. How about that floating chandelier?

(to Atherton)

Almost outshines our girl here.

Mal notices the possessive and overly rough grip Atherton has on Inara's upper arm.

Mal Ath? Can I call you Ath? Inara has spoken of you to me. She made a point of mentioning your generosity. Given that, I'm sure you won't mind if I ask Inara the favor of a dance? Atherton (not happy) Of course.

Inara and Mal walk off.

Harrow (to Atherton) You're a brave man. Atherton I know what's mine.

Mal leads Inara to the dance floor.

Mal This dance I think I actually know. Inara Why are you here? Mal Business. Same as you. I was talking to a contact about a smuggling job and you came over to me. Inara You were staring at me. Mal I saw you is all. You stand out. Inara In this company, Captain, I believe you're the one who stands out. Mal Well then, maybe I just wanted to see a professional at work. Is this the hardest part, would you say, or does that come later? Inara You have no call to try to make me ashamed of my job. What I do is legal. And how's that smuggling coming? Mal My work's illegal, but at least it's honest. Inara What!? Mal Well this, the lie of it. That man parading you around on his arm as if he actually won you, as if he loves you, and everyone here actually going along with it. Inara These people like me and I like them. I like Atherton too by the way. Mal Well sure, what's not to like. I'm liable to sleep with him myself. Inara And he likes me, whether you see it or not. He's made me an offer. You may think he doesn't honor me, but he wants me to live here. I'd be his personal companion. I could belong here. Call me pretentious but there is some appeal in that. Mal You're right. Got no call to stop you. You've got the right to a decent life. Inara I see Kaylee's here. Mal Yeah, crying Cinderella tears. You should have seen her when I told he she could have that layer cake she's wearing. Inara I think she looks adorable. Mal Yeah, but I never said it.

Cut to scene of Kaylee, holding court with a group of mostly older men, including her rescuer.

Kaylee I'm not saying the 80-04's hard to repair, it just ain't worth it. Older Farmer It's a fine machine, you just keep it tuned. Kaylee Tsai boo shr才不是
No way
. The extenders ain't braced.
Murphy I've been telling him to buy the 80-10 for years. Kaylee Those 'tenders snap off, don't matter how good the engine's cycling. Younger Farmer Miss Kaylee, I wonder if I could request the honor of.... Murphy (interrupting) Wait a minute. Let her talk. She's talking. Dance later. Kaylee By the way, the 80-10's the same machine, they just changed the plating and hope no one noticed.

The men laugh, obviously charmed by Kaylee.

Cut back to Mal and Inara dancing, while Atherton looks on with a glare. Mal missteps the dance, and Inara and Mal both chuckle.

Mal It's possible you were right, and this ain't my kind of party.

They are comfortable with each other, laughing and smiling. Atherton barges in and roughly grabs Inara's arm and pulls her away from the dance floor.

Mal Whoa now. Watch yourself. Ain't no need for hands on. Atherton Excuse me, she's not here with you, Captain. She's mine. Mal Yours? She don't belong to nobody. Atherton Money changed hands, which makes her mine tonight. And no matter how you dress her up she's still...

Mal hauls off and slugs him before he can get the rest of the sentence out.

Mal (to Inara) Turns out this is my kind of party. Inara Oh, Mal. Mal What? Man was out of line. Atherton (recovering, angry) I accept. Mal That's great. What? Gentleman There has been a challenge. Atherton I hope you're prepared, Captain. Mal What? You all talking about a fight? That's fine.

(taking off his jacket)

Let's get out of here. Inara It's not a fist fight, Mal. Gentleman The duel will be met tomorrow morning at Cadrie Pond. Mal Well, why wait? Where's that guard? He collected a whole mess of pistols. Gentleman If you require it, any gentleman here can give you use of a sword. Mal Use of a swo... what?


Act 3
Up until the punching, it was a real nice party

Back where we left off, Mal in hot water:

Kaylee What's going on? Mal I'm not rightly sure. What's going on? Harrow First off, you'll be put up in lodgings for the night, so you don't disappear. I wouldn't blame you, incidentally. Wing may be a spoiled dandy, but he's an expert swordsman. He's killed a dozen men with a longblade. You're the only one gave him a reason. Mal (exasperated) Oh this is a joke. Inara He'll need a second. Mal What's that? Harrow I'll take on the job. Inara He fights if you refuse. Atherton (moving towards the entranceway) Inara, come with me, please. Mal (to Harrow) You taking on this job... being my second... does this mean we're in business? Harrow It means you're in mortal danger. But you mussed up Atherton's face, and that has endeared you to me somewhat. You might even give him a fight, before he guts you. Atherton (sharply) Inara!

(holds out his arm to Inara)

Kaylee Up until the punching, it was a real nice party.

Jayne is doing pull-ups from straps attached to the overhead walkway. There is a banging noise, like someone knocking on a metal door. Jayne stops, picks up a rifle, and looks out the small window of a door. Sighs, and opens the door to admit Badger.

Badger The captain's gone and gotten himself in trouble.

A short time later, the crew has assembled in the cargo hold. Only Jayne and River are missing.

Book A duel? Wash With swords? Simon Captain's a good fighter, he must know how to handle a sword. Zoe I think he knows which end to hold. Simon All right, so we just need to figure out how to get him out of there. Book (to Badger) We have until the morning, correct? Do you know what lodging he's in? Badger This is embarrassing. Some of you seem to be misapprehending my purpose in being here. Zoe You're here to make sure that we don't do what these men are keen on doing. Badger Penny for the smart lady. Persephone's my home. I got to do business with the people here. I don't want it known I brought someone in caused this kind of ruckus. We'll just settle in, till this blows over, one way or the other.

Off-camera sound of rifle being cocked. Heads turn to look up onto the overhead walkway. Jayne holds his rifle on Badger. Zoe smiles.

Zoe Jayne, I wouldn't. Jayne Why not?

Zoe indicates to where Badger's thugs have just come in with Kaylee. She's still in her party dress, and looks unhappy.

Kaylee Hi.

Inara is walking through the halls. She affixes a glowy door-handle sort of thing to one of the many doors, and walks in to find Mal practicing with a sword.

Inara Mal? Mal (startled and swinging his sword into a pillar, where it lodges) Whoa! What are you doing here? Inara Atherton's a heavy sleeper the night before a big day. He's got that killing in the morning, and a haircut later. Mal Such a comfort, having friends visit at a time like this. Inara I knew the accommodations would be nice. Atherton doesn't skimp.

Mal pulls the sword from the pillar.

Mal I don't suppose I like being kept by him as much as others do. So, how come you're still attached to him? Inara Because it's my decision, not yours. Mal I thought he made it pretty clear he has no regard for you. Inara You did manage to push him into saying something, yes. Made a nice justification for the punch. Mal Well, he insulted you. I hit him. Seemed like the thing to do. Why'd this get so complicated? Inara Well, it's about to get simpler. There's a back door. Desk clerk is on alert. He'll let us out. Mal Whoa, whoa, I'm not running off. I don't know what you got in your head, but I didn't do this to prove some kind of point to you. I thought I was defending your honor. And I never back down from a fight. Inara Yes, you do! You do all the time! Mal Well, yeah... but, I'm not backing down from this one. Inara He's an expert swordsman, Mal. You had trouble with the pillar. How will your death help my honor? Mal Well, see, I plan on having it be his death. That's why I need lessons. I figure you know how, being such an educated woman, and all.

(tosses a sword to Inara)

Most of the crew is gathered playing cards. All speak quietly. Badger and his henchman are standing about, mostly doing nothing but looking vaguely threatening. Badger is busy slicing up and eating an apple.

Kaylee He said not to do anything. He'll join us after he wins the duel. Zoe It doesn't hurt to have a contingency plan, Kaylee. Simon I'm thinking, since we're unarmed, we should take them by surprise. Zoe Not necessarily. We can lure one or two of them away. Say infirmary? Take 'em out, be on Badger before he knows what happens. Jayne Only if his attention's elsewhere. What we need's a diversion. I say Zoe gets nekkid. Wash (sitting on the floor, head on knees) Nope. Jayne I could get nekkid. All No!

Book has been standing off to one side during this exchange, reading the Bible. He notices that River has come quietly into the room, and moves to Simon's side and lays a hand on his shoulder. Our crew realizes she's there, and senses that this could be trouble. Simon moves to her. Badger seems not to notice.

Simon (whispering) River, you can't be here. River (laughing and trying to push by Simon) There are tiny... Simon River, please. River Pull! Badger (finally noticing River) Who's that then? Here, look at me. What's your story, love? Simon She's ... just a... just a passenger. Badger Yeah? Why ain't she talking? She got a secret? River (with Badger's accent) Sure, I got a secret. More than one. Don't seem likely I'd tell 'em to you now, do it? Anyone off Dyton Colony knows better than to talk to strangers.

(notices a shiny pin in the shape of a bird on Badger's lapel, nearly touches it, then runs a finger down his lapel before pulling back)

You're talking loud enough for the both of us though, ain'tcha? I've known a dozen like you. Skipped off home early, running graft jobs here and there. Spent some time in the lock down, but less than you claim. And you're what? Petty thief with delusions of standing? Sad, little king of a sad, little hill.

The crew exchanges glances, bemused. Who knew she could pull this off?

Badger Nice to see someone from the old homestead. River Not really.

(to Simon)

Call me if anyone interesting shows up.

River leaves the way she came in.

Badger I like her. Jayne (quietly, to the crew) That there -- exactly the kind of diversion we could have used.

Mal AND Inara square off, swords in hand.

Inara Attack.

Mal lunges at Inara with his sword. She easily side-steps him, and whacks him on the ass with her sword as he goes by.

Inara How did I avoid that? Mal By being fast like a freak? Inara No, because you always attack the same way, swinging from the shoulder like you were chopping wood. You have to thrust with the point sometimes, or swing from the elbow. Mal Swinging from the shoulder feels stronger. Inara It's also slower, Mal. You don't need strength as much as speed. We're fragile creatures. It takes less than a pound of pressure to cut skin. Mal You know that? They teach you that in whore academy? Inara You have a strange sense of nobility Captain. You'll lay a man out for calling me a whore, and yet you keep calling me one to my face. Mal I might not show respect to your job, but he didn't respect you. That's the difference. Inara, he doesn't even see you. Inara Well I guess death will solve the issue to everyone's satisfaction. Mal This yu bun duh愚笨的
duel is the result of rules of your society, not mine.
Inara You are always breaking the rules, no matter what society you're in! You don't get along with ordinary criminals either, which is why you're constantly getting in trouble. Mal You think following the rules will buy you a nice life, even if the rules make you a slave.

(Inara turns away)

Don't take his offer. Inara (turning to face Mal) What? Mal Don't do it. Because in the case it happens it means he's the fella that killed me and I don't like fellas that kill me, just in general. I said before I don't have call to stop you, and that's true, but anyways, don't. Inara I need to get back. He'll be up early. Mal Right. He's got that big day.

There are many on-lookers, including Inara and Harrow. The duelists face off and begin parrying. Mal gets a lucky swipe and draws first blood, with a shallow cut to Atherton's chest.

Mal (pleased) Best be careful, Ath. Hear these things are sharp. Harrow (incredulous, to Inara) He thinks he's doing well, doesn't he? Inara (horrified) He's being toyed with.

More dueling, Atherton slashes a shallow cut to Mal's sword arm. Mal attacks rather blindly, flailing his sword broadly from the shoulder. He's obviously out-classed here. Atherton smiles, steps back, and puts both arms behind his back, leaving his chest exposed.

Harrow What's he doing? Inara Don't fall for that!

Mal attacks, and Atherton spins and stabs Mal in the abdomen. This is a serious wound, but not a killing blow.

Harrow Well, this isn't going to take long, is it?


Act 4
Doc is the diversion

Mal is bloodied, and a bit wobbly on his feet. He continues to fight, though with his free hand clamped over his wound. Atherton is gleeful and poised, supremely confident.

Harrow (to Inara) We're coming up on the end, Miss. You might not want to watch.

Harrow is right, this is almost over. Atherton knocks Mal to his knees, and snaps his sword blade off at the hilt. He stands triumphant over Mal, sword at his throat.

Inara (moving forward) Atherton, wait! I'll stay here, exclusive to you. Just let him live.

Atherton is distracted by Inara, and looks her way. Mal takes his chance then, and knocks Atherton's sword out of his hands, and clubs him across the jaw with the hilt of the broken sword. He quickly kicks up the freed sword and throws it at Atherton, stabbing him through the chest. Atherton manages to pull out the blade, just has Mal clubs him across the face again. Mal picks up the bloody sword, and holds it to the throat of the fallen Atherton.

Harrow He's down. You have to finish it, lad. You have to finish it. For a man to lie beaten, and yet breathing? It makes him a coward. Inara It's humiliation. Mal Sure, it's humiliating. Having to lie there while the better man refuses to spill your blood. Mercy is the mark of a great man.

(pokes Atherton in the belly with the sword)

Guess I'm just a good man.

(pokes him again for good measure)

Well, I'm all right.

Inara puts her arm around the wobbly Mal to support him, and they walk off together.

Atherton (calling after them) Inara. Inara! Harrow (to Atherton) You've lost her lad. Be gracious. Atherton You set this up, whore. After I bought and paid for you. I should have uglied you up so much no one else'd want you. Mal (to Inara) See how I'm not punching him? I think I've grown. Atherton (to Inara) Well get ready to starve. I'll see that you never work again. Inara (to Atherton) Actually, that's not how it works. You see, you've earned yourself a black mark in the client registry. No Companion is ever going to contract with you, ever again. Harrow (to Atherton) You'll have to rely on your winning personality to get women. God help you.

(to Mal)

You didn't have to wound that man. Mal Yeah, I know, it was just funny. Harrow (walks away with Inara and Mal) You willing to fight that hard to protect my property, I'll have it in your hold before midnight.

Mal shakes hands with Harrow, smile and laughs.

Harrow walks off.

Mal (to Inara) Mighty fine shindig.


Jayne (whispers to the crew around the crate/card table) Doc is filling Shepherd in on the plan. Doc is the diversion.

Light spills in from an opened door.

Mal Did you ever see such a lazy crew.

Mal walks in being supported by Inara.

Kaylee Captain. Simon You're hurt. Badger You get us a deal then? Mal I got a deal. Now get off my ship. Badger Thanks very much for a lovely night, then.

Badger whistles and motions to his gang, and they leave Serenity.

Mal and Inara sit down, Book comes over.

Book Are you badly hurt?

Mal nods.

Jayne We was just about to spring into action, Captain. Complicated escape and rescue op. Wash I was going to watch. It was very exciting.

Cut to an exterior shot of Serenity flying through space.

Kaylee is walking down the corridors of the ship humming and skipping just a little to herself. She goes to her room, flops onto her bunk, and tunes a tiny speaker to classical music. She stares up at the pink, frilly dress which is hanging over her bed, obviously happy.

Mal and Inara are sitting on the walkway overhead, legs dangling. There is a large glass jug beside them, and they are drinking out of mis-matched cups.

Inara Thank you for the wine. It's... very fresh. Mal To Kaylee and her inter-engine fermentation system.

They clink cups and Mal winces, a bit more dramatically than necessary.

Inara Are you in pain? Mal Absolutely. I got stabbed, you know, right here.

Mal lifts his shirt to show her the bloody bandage on his abdomen.

Inara (turning away, squeamish) I saw. Mal Don't care much for fancy parties. Too rough. Inara It wasn't entirely a disaster. Mal (incredulous) I got stabbed! Right here! Inara You also lined up exciting new crime. Mal It's good to have cargo. Makes us a target for every other scavenger out there, though, but sometimes that's fun too. Inara I am grateful, you know, for the ill-conceived and high-handed attempt to defend my honor, although I didn't want you to. Mal Gracious as that is, looking back, I probably should have stayed out of your world. Inara My world? If it is that. I wasn't going to stay, you know. Mal Yeah? Why is that? Inara Oh, someone needs to keep Kaylee out of trouble. And all my things are here. Besides, why would I want to leave Serenity? Mal Can't think of a reason.

Cut to a distance shot of Mal and Inara, drinking companionably. We then see the hold is full of Harrow's cargo... cattle.


End of Show