War Stories
Notes Episode information
Credits Details & Cast
Intro "It might be Serenity."
Act 1 "Well, I was in a fire."
Act 2 "There's obeying going on!"
Act 3 "On the subject of kneecaps."
Act 4 "No power in the 'verse."
Can't look. Can't look.

They travel to Ezra where they attempt to sell drugs from the Ariel heist to Bosch. They are taken by Niska's men to his skyplex, which orbits Ezra.


From Book's remarks to Simon regarding the hospital heist, this must take place very soon after Ariel. The sale, capture and escape all occur in one day.

All this would make it seem that the episode covers two, maybe three, possibly four days.


Everything occurs on Ezra.

Transcribed by: Shrift (modifications by me)
Original Air Date: December 6, 2002
Written by: Cheryl Cain
Directed by: James Contner
Michael Fairman
Adelei Niska
Johnny Shakespeare
Torture Victim
Michael A. Bentt
Jason Van
Katherine Kendall
Rolando Molina
John Dunn
It might be Serenity

Simon is analyzing data on a vid screen. Book is moving about the infirmary behind him.

Book Did you ever read the works of Shan Yu? Simon Shan Yu, the psychotic dictator? Book Yep. Fancied himself quite the warrior-poet. Wrote volumes on war, torture... the limits of human endurance. Simon (mildly) That's nice. Book He said... "Live with a man forty years. Share his house, his meals, speak on every subject. Then tie him up and hold him over the volcano's edge, and on that day, you will finally meet the man." Simon What if you don't live near a volcano? Book I expect he was being poetical. Simon Sadistic crap legitimized by florid prose.


Tell me you're not a fan. Book I'm just wondering if they were. The people who did this to your sister. Simon The government did this to her. Book The government is a body of people, usually notably ungoverned. Simon Now you're quoting the Captain. Book I'm just wondering if they put her through this just to see how much she could take. To truly "meet her" as Shan Yu would have said. Simon No, the more I see, the more I think their purpose was very specific. Look at this --

(shows Book an analysis of River's brain)

-- the pattern. Besides, if all they cared about was hurting River, they wouldn't still be after her. Book But she's doing better. Simon I've tried a couple different medications. She's sleeping better, but nothing really stable. I'll keep trying. Certainly got enough drugs on hand. Book Yes, I'd forgotten you're moonlighting as a criminal mastermind now. Got your next heist planned? Simon No. But I'm thinking about growing a big black mustache.

(beat; deadpan)

I'm a traditionalist.

Shot of Serenity sliding past the camera toward a reddish-orange planet.

Quick pan around the planet's asteroid belt to REVEAL a space station on the other side of the planet.

A TORTURER is whipping a TORTURE VICTIM, who is immobilized and whimpering in great pain. Niska looks on calmly.

Niska Hold please.

The TORTURER stops whipping.

Niska (cont'd) (to Torture Victim) So now we are past the preliminaries -- the little questions: why you skim from protection fund? How you could betray my trust. This we are past. Now we get to the real questions about who you truly are.

(brandishes knife)

Viktor (entering quietly) I'm sorry, sir. Niska (annoyed) I get to heart of matter and always interruptions! Viktor One of our long-ranges picked up a read on the other side of the world. It might be Serenity. Malcolm Reynolds' ship. Niska (excited) Oh. Oh, this is exciting news. Send a team. Bring him here to me. Viktor Yes, sir.


Niska (to Torture Victim) Now, we get to spend some time finding out about your true self. Tell me...

(stabs Torture Victim o.s.)

...are you familiar with the works of Shan Yu?


Act 1
Well, I was in a fire

Kaylee is chasing River through the Cargo Bay. They are laughing and whooping like children.

Mal AND Inara
stand up on the catwalk.


Mal I said yes, already. Where's the outstanding issue? Inara The Councilor is an important political figure and a very private person... Mal So he visits you here instead of you going to his place. Fine. What, is the ship not clean enough?

Mal runs his hand along the catwalk railing like he's wearing white gloves and testing for dust.

Inara I just want the Councilor to feel comfortable, and when I say comfortable, I mean totally alone.

Mal looks a little confused, then his gaze is drawn to Kaylee and River, still laughing and running in the cargo bay.

Mal Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots.

(to Kaylee and River)

Shut up!

(to Inara)

There's nobody sets foot on my boat that I don't meet 'em.


Don't worry, I'm not gonna start any sword fights. I'm over that phase. Inara Well, I'd appreciate it if you could keep the others from ogling.

Kaylee follows River up the ladder into the catwalks.

Mal One of you is gonna fall and die, and I'm not cleaning it up! Kaylee She took my apple! Inara Jayne bought a crate of them. Kaylee And this one's mine. River Not anymore!

Kaylee chases River through a corridor and into

where she playfully wrestles the apple from River's hands.

Kaylee Okay.

(holds apple aloft)

No power in the 'verse can stop me.

Smiling, Zoe enters and sits down at the kitchen table, where Wash is already sitting, chomping on an apple.

Zoe These really are the genuine article. I could get used to being rich. Wash It's Jayne being so generous with his cut that confuses and frightens me. Zoe It does kind of freeze the blood. Kaylee Zoe, how come you always cut your apples? Wash (to Zoe) You do? Kaylee Her and the Captain both. Whenever we get fresh fruit, they never just munch on 'em. Zoe Know what a Grizwald is? Jayne (entering) It's a grenade. Zoe About the size of a battery. Responds to pressure. Our platoon was stuck in a trench outside of New Kasmir during the winter campaign. More'n a week, completely cut off, and the Alliance entrenched not ten yards away. We even got to talkin' to 'em, yelling across insults and jokes and such, 'cause no ammo to speak of, no orders, so what are you gonna do? We mentioned that we were out of rations, and ten minutes later, a bunch of apples rained into the trench. Wash (interrupting, to River and Kaylee) And they grew into a big tree, and they all climbed up the tree into a magical land with unicorns and a harp.

Jayne approaches the table, opens his switchblade, and stabs it into one of the apples sitting in a bowl on the table. Wash startles. Jayne retrieves his apple and moves toward the other end of the table.

Kaylee (beat) Blew off their heads, huh? Zoe Cap said wait, but they were so hungry.


Don't make much noise. Just little pops and there's three guys that kind of just end at the ribcage. Wash (to River and Kaylee) But these apples are healthsome, good. Jayne Yeah, grenades cost extra.

Mal enters, picking up an apple from the bowl on the table. Starts cutting it with a knife he picks up from a counter.

Mal We are about 20,000 miles from our last drop, people, then we can take a break and think about spending some of this money.

Everyone responds with happy, affirmative, "Yeahs" and "All rights".

Wash (sotto voce) Could've made more. Mal That wasn't a bad idea, Wash, but eliminating the middle man is never simple as it sounds. Wash (surprised) You heard about...? Mal About fifty percent of the human race is middle men and they don't take kindly to being eliminated. This quadrant, we play nice. We got enemies enough as it is.

Serenity is landing on a sandy, desert planet.

Wash is piloting. Zoe is sitting in the bridge near him. Yep, there's some tension.

Wash So... when you said that you didn't get a chance to tell the Captain my idea... Zoe Mm-hmm? Wash What you actually meant was... you told him my idea, he rejected it out of hand, and you didn't argue the point or even give it another thought. Zoe I gave, honey, I-I -- Wash And then came the lying to me about it, which for me is sort of the highlight of this little adventure. Zoe Is there any way I'm gonna get out of this with honor and dignity? Wash You're pretty much down to ritual suicide, lambie-toes. Zoe I didn't want to upset you. Wash What did you think of it? Zoe Of what? Wash My idea. Call the local MDs. Forget the fence, go straight to the source. Better prices, and we know the drugs get to the right people. Zoe (beat) The Captain thinks it'll get back to someone. Just cause trouble. Wash (angrily) Tai-koong soo-yoo-yo duh shing-chow sai-jin wuh duh pee-goo 太空所有的星球都塞尽我的屁股
All the planets in space stuffed into my butt
was I ever not talking about what the captain thought.
Zoe Well, I tend to agree with him. Wash Tend to, or have to?


I love the fact that you two are old army buddies -- you have wacky stories that have ribcages in them, but could you have an opinion of your own, please? Zoe You're losing the high ground here, sweetcakes. Wash I'm sure you and Mal will take that hill and fortify it with -- Zoe (interrupting) I thought your plan was too risky. I thought. Wash Then tell me. I am a large, semi-muscular man. I can take it. Don't hide behind Mal 'cause you know he'll shoot it down for you. Tell me. Zoe Right. Because what this marriage needs is one more shouting match. Wash No, what this marriage needs is one less husband.


Right now it's kind of crowded.

Wash leaves the bridge. CLOSE IN on Zoe as she stands there, not knowing what the hell she's supposed to do.

The door slides open and Simon enters, seeing River sitting on a bunk.

Simon Whoa! Mei-mei妹妹
Little sister

Simon covers a shivering River with a blanket.

Simon How you doing? River I threw up. Simon I'm sorry. It's a side effect. We just have to find the right treatment for you. How do you feel now? River Going... Going back like... apple bits, coming back up. Chaos. Simon But you felt okay this morning?


Played with Kaylee.


Sun came out, and I walked on my feet and heard with my ears. I ate the bits, the bits stayed down, and I work. I function like I'm a girl.


I hate it because I know it'll go away. The sun goes dark and chaos has come again. Bits. Fluids. What am I?! Simon (hugs her) You are my beautiful sister. River (sniffling) I threw up on your bed. Simon (fuckity) Yep. Definitely my sister.

Book is reading a book, idly watching Jayne and Kaylee peeking around the doorway into the Cargo Bay.

Book Didn't Inara express a wish for privacy? Kaylee Oh... we've gotta see who she's got. Bet he's handsome. Think he's gonna bring her flowers.

Jayne says nothing, simply taking a big bite out of his apple.

Mal AND Inara are awaiting the Councilor's arrival. A large man steps into the Cargo Bay.

Back to an excited Kaylee.

Kaylee Oh! There he is!

Book looks up from his reading, standing up to join them at the doorway.


Back to, Mal AND Inara

Mal Well, he looks the respectable sort.

Mal approaches the large man, hand out.

Mal (cont'd) Welcome aboard. I'm Captain Malcolm Rey...

The man completely ignores Mal. Mal stands there, surprised, hand still outstretched for a handshake.

The man finishes casing the joint, and actives a comm.

Man We're all clear here, Councilor.

THE COUNCILOR enters the Cargo Bay. She's a very well-heeled and good-looking woman. Inara smiles and guides the Councilor upstairs. The crew? Pretty much stunned.

Mal Huh. Book Oh, my. Kaylee Oh, gosh, I... I-I knew she took females as clients... I just...


They look so glamorous together. Jayne (hella turned-on) I'll be in my bunk.

Establishing shot of Serenity. Wind's picking up outside the ship.

Zoe is preparing one of Serenity's shuttles for take-off.

Mal Lucrative as this stuff is, I'll be glad to see the last of it. Kinda makes us a target for every-- Zoe (interrupting) Was River in here messing around? The ignition sequence is all turned about. I can't even... Wash (entering) I can. Mal Well get it set, would you, Wash? We gotta get moving. Wash Here's a funny twist: no. Mal No what? Wash No, sir. Zoe Change the sequence? Wash Didn't want you taking off without me. In fact, didn't want you taking off at all. Thought I might take this run instead. Me and the Captain. Mal The Captain who's standing right here telling you that's not gonna happen? Wash Well, it's a dangerous mission, sir. I can't stand the thought of something happening that might cause you two to come back with another thrilling tale of bonding and adventure. I just can't take that right now. Mal Okay, um, I'm lost. Uh, I'm angry, and I'm armed, so if you two have something that you need to work out -- Zoe It's all right, sir. We've dealt with Bolles before. Shouldn't be a problem.

(beat; to Wash)

And I wouldn't mind sitting this one out. Mal (unamused) Oh, this is a fine fang-tzang fung-kwong duh je放纵疯狂的结
knot of self indulgent lunacy
but I don't have time to unwind it. Wash.


Get her started. Zoe, ship is yours.

Zoe exits.

Wash Bye, hon! We promise not to stop for beers with the fellas!

Wash sits down, starts the engines.

Wash (to Mal) So, are we gonna sing army songs, or something?

Mal is beyond annoyed at this point.

A shuttle detaches and flies away from Serenity.

The COUNCILOR is lying face-down on the bed, nude, covered from the hips down by a sheet. Inara is giving her a back massage.

Councilor (relaxed) Mmm. That feels amazing.

(beat; Inara smiles)

Oh, right there. That's perfect. I should have done this weeks ago. Inara I wouldn't have been here weeks ago. Councilor And that would have been a shame. Inara For me as well.


You have such beautiful skin.

The Councilor sits up a bit on her elbows and looks over her shoulder at Inara.

Councilor There's no need for the show, Inara. I just need to relax with someone who's making no demands on me. Inara Most of my clientele is male. Do you know that? Councilor No. Inara (caressing Councilor) If I choose a woman, she tends to be extraordinary in some way. And the fact is, I occasionally have the exact same need you do. One cannot always be one's self in the company of men. Councilor (smiling) Never, actually. Inara So no show. Let's just... enjoy ourselves. Councilor You are so lovely.

Inara and the Councilor both lean forward and kiss -- by the sounds of it, it's sweet and passionate, although it's mostly blocked by the long fall of Inara's hair.

Establishing shot of Serenity's shuttle as it zooms across the desert toward the meet.

Wash is in the driver's seat, Mal riding shotgun, and it's damn bright inside that shuttle -- making Mal and Wash all squinty.

Mal Look, this thing with you and Zoe... Wash Really not looking to talk on that topic. Mal Hey. I let that niou-suh牛屎
trick of yours slide because this is a milk run. But when I go on a mission, I'm taking Zoe and that's the drill. You know that. I mean, what happens if we get into a situation here?
Wash Hey, I've been in a firefight before!

(off Mal's look)

Well, I was in a fire.


Actually, I was fired from a fry-cook opportunity.


I can handle myself. Mal And you understand what Zoe's job entails? Wash I'll learn as I go.


Mal walks easily across the sand, Wash trailing behind him, hauling a heavy plastic box and breathing a little heavy. Three armed bandity guys approach from the other direction, the one in front presumably BOLLES.

Wash So now I'm learning about carrying.

Mal and Wash finally meet up with the BOLLES and his guys, stopping a few feet apart. Wash puts down the heavy plastic box and flips back the lid, revealing a big pile of drugs. BOLLES looks impressed.

Bolles Nice to know you're still trustworthy. Mal I'm not so trustworthy I don't want to see the money you promised me.

Bolles holds up his hand. Bolles' guy puts a bag of coin into it. Bolles tosses it to Mal, who opens up the bag to take a look.

Bolles hooks his thumbs into his belt, feelin' chatty.

Bolles Man, can't believe you guys knocked over an Alliance hospital. The pair you have.

Wash smiles. Mal's still all business.

Mal Yeah, the stuff legends are made of...

Mal looks up and sees a red dot on Bolles' forehead.

It's a laser sight.

Mal (cont'd) Tzao-gao糟糕
Damn it

A SHOT is fired. It hits Bolles square between the eyes and he goes down, dead.

Mal hits the dirt, wrapping his arm around Wash's middle and taking Wash down with him.

Bolles' two guys are quickly taken out by sniper fire. While Mal and Wash stay down, several snipers rise from their cover and surround them.

Wash Now I'm learning about scary.


Act 2
There's obeying going on

Book is lifting a weighted barbell. Jayne stands by the bench with a towel over his shoulder, spotting him. Jayne's attention is suddenly caught by the sound of laughter.

Inara AND THE Councilor
are coming down the catwalk stairs, all smiles.

While Jayne watches Inara and the Councilor hug and kiss good-bye, hella turned-on again, Book struggles with the barbell he's lifting, groaning faintly with effort.

The Councilor and her guard exit Serenity. Inara closes the Cargo Bay doors and turns to see Jayne leering. She rolls her eyes and heads back upstairs.

Jayne finally reaches out with one hand and helps Book return the barbell to its rest.

Jayne I'll be in my bunk.

(starts to exit)

Zoe (entering) Jayne, grab your weapon. Jayne Why? What's goin' on? Zoe Maybe nothing. Maybe trouble. Jayne The drop? Zoe They're late. They should've been back more'n an hour ago.


We go by ground. We'll take the mule. Book I'll go with you. Zoe No offense, Shepherd, but I sure as hell hope they don't need a preacher. Book Three sets of eyes are better than two. Might see something you don't.

Zoe considers this.

Zoe Let's move.

Jayne and Book follow Zoe.


Zoe, Jayne and Book are at the drop site, examining the bodies of BOLLES and his men, flipping them over to identify them.

Jayne None of 'em's ours. Book This is precision work: sharpshooters. From the look of these wounds, I'd say a 54-R sniper rifle, laser sights. Jayne You do a lot of shooting at the abbey there, Shepherd? Book (dryly) Rabbits. Jayne For stew, sure.

Jayne harvests some guns off the corpses and sticks them in his gun belt. Zoe's off tracking.

Zoe Whoever did this, they weren't after the goods.

CLOSE on the spilled container of drugs Wash was carrying. Jayne looks up, starts walking toward the camera. Zoe and Book follow.

Jayne We ain't gonna find 'em here. They're off planet already.

(re: black streak in the sand)

Only one type of transport I know makes a mark like this. Zoe Fast burn rocket shuttle. Book Craft like that not commonly part of a ship. More likely we're looking at -- Zoe Space station. Book Yeah. Zoe (beat) I know who's got 'em.

Establishing shot of the space station, bustling, axes turning to generate gravity.

Wash and Mal, blindfolded and with their hands bound behind their backs, are herded into a dark room by two guards. The two guards shut the door behind them. While throughout this scene Wash just stands there and panics, Mal is slowly casing the joint, blindly feeling his way around the room to assess its dimensions and dangers.

Mal You okay? Wash (panicky) I think I've been kidnapped. Mal Yeah. Wash You see where we are? Mal No. Wash Mal, what the hell is going on? Mal Ain't rightly sure. Wash But you've got some theories. Mal Still working it through. Wash I don't want you to spare me, Mal. If you think you know what's happening, then you tell me. You wouldn't spare Zoe if she were in this situation with you, would you? You would be planning, and plotting and... possibly scheming. So whatever Zoe would do in this instance is what I wanna do. Do you know why? No matter how ugly it gets, you two always come back with the stories. So... I'm Zoe. Now, what do I do? Mal Probably not talk quite so much. Wash Right. Less talking.

(beat; still panicky)

She's terse. I can be terse.


Once in flight school, I was laconic.

Wash keeps the silence for a couple of seconds, then blurts,

Wash (cont'd) If I'm not gonna talk then you have to. What else? Mal We just gotta keep our heads. Wash Right. "Keep our heads." That way we'll be able to... you know... keep our heads.


You and Zoe have been in plenty of situations like this before, right? Mal (lying) Many a time. Wash Many a time, you and Zoe... Mal Once we know who it was took us -- Wash Zoe and you together in a tricky...

(hey, wait)

Mal, she's my wife! Mal Huh? Wash What gives you the right to put her in a dangerous situation like this?! Mal I didn't. Wash You did! Mal She ain't here, Wash. Wash No, but she would have been! Mal Okay. Wash I mean, I'm the one she swore to love, honor and obey. Mal Listen...


She swore to obey? Wash Well, no, not...


But that's just my point! You she obeys! She obeys you! There's obeying going on right under my nose! Mal Look, Zoe and I have a history. She trusts me. Wash What's that supposed to mean? Mal Don't mean a thing, but you're making out like she blindly follows my every word. That ain't true! Wash Sure it is! Mal Not so. There's plenty orders of mine that she didn't obey. Wash Name one! Mal She married you!

The door screeches open, breaking the tense moment. Niska enters with Viktor. Niska goes to Mal, takes off the blindfold. Niska grins in Mal's face. Mal is... kinda unpleasantly surprised.

Mal Tah mah duh hwoon dahn他妈的浑蛋
Mother-humping son of a bitch
Wash What?

The crew, minus Mal and Wash, are gathered, handing Zoe their money.

Kaylee Here's all I got left. Zoe Thanks.


Jayne! Book How do you know he won't just grab you as well? Zoe Don't think that's like to happen. I walk in there unarmed, make the offer. This guy has his own code, twisted as it may be. Very excited about reputation. He'll see reason. Inara Reason? He's a gangster. The money he paid you for that other job -- it was already returned to him. Jayne (entering) Could be he's harboring some resentment at us for putting his man through our engine. Zoe (beat) Wait a reasonable amount of time, but if you don't hear back, I want you to take Serenity and get out of this quadrant. This don't play out right, there's no guarantee he won't come looking for the rest of you.

Mal and Wash are tied back-to-back, both being electrocuted via electrodes on their chests. Mal and Wash are not yet screaming, but they're in some serious pain. (Their conversation throughout this scene is accompanied by heavy breathing, slurring of words, and groans of pain.) Niska looks on with delight while the TORTURER mans the electricity. Electricity shuts off.

Mal I'm not... gonna say it... again. Shipboard romances complicate things. Wash For who? For you? Mal For everyone. Wash Well, what about lov--

There go the electrodes again, painfully zapping Mal and Wash. And off again.

Mal I ain't against it as a rule... but in situations such as ours, it tends to cause problems. It splits loyalties. Wash Know what I think? Mal What?

There go the electrodes again, zapping Mal and Wash. Wash is starting to falter a little, sagging when the electricity shuts off.

Mal What, Wash? What do you think? Because I'm interested. Wash (weakly) This "policy" you got against shipboard relationships -- that's just you projecting your own intimacy issues on everyone else.

And Niska signals for the electrodes again. Wash and Mal shake and writhe in pain until the electricity goes off.

Mal 'Course, could be a lot simpler than that. Could be I just don't think you're good enough for Zoe. Wash And I don't give a good gorram what you think. Mal Oh, don't you? Zoe and I, we got a history, and I figure you gotta be asking yourself some fundamental questions as to the nature of that history. Wash You never slept with my wife. Mal Oh? That a fact? You know that for sure, do you? You ever ask her?

And the electrodes go on again, making Wash and Mal shake in pain. When the electricity shuts off, Wash's head is hanging.

Mal Hey. We been together for a long time before you came along, Wash. And she's a damn fine-looking woman.


Wash (weakly) Never happened. Know how I know? Mal How? Tell me. Wash This whole Captain thing isn't Zoe's trouble. It's the-guy-she-never-slept-with thing. Hell, Mal, I wish you had slept with her. Then at least she'd be over it. Mal Oh, you want me to sleep with her? Would that make you feel better? Wash It might. Mal Oh, I'd imagine it would do wonders for her, too. Wash Screw you! Mal Get in line.

And there go the electrodes again. When the electrodes shut off, Wash slumps down, nearly unconscious, and pretty damn dazed.

Mal Okay, Wash, I'm gonna do it.


Wash! Wash, listen. First thing we do when we get back...


Listen to me!


First thing when we get back, I'm gonna... I'm gonna take your wife into my bed. Wash (weakly) Yeah? Mal (relieved Wash is awake) I'm gonna get me a piece of --

And we're back to the torture.

One of Serenity's shuttles approaches the space station and docks.

Zoe docks and powers down the shuttle.

Zoe walks through the double doors with her hands raised, holding the bag of ransom money. Five or six armed guards meet her and pat her down.

Zoe I'm unarmed.


I wanna talk to Niska.

Viktor approaches a smiling Niska and whispers of Zoe's arrival.

Niska Ah.

Zoe is escorted by four armed guards through the space station. She passes by a large, circular shaft filled with machines assembling parts (like something out of Empire Strikes Back in Cloud City).

A guard opens Niska's office door with a keycard. They pass through the office to another room, and Zoe steps into

At the center of the room are Mal and Wash, tied-up and looking terrible. Niska grins off to the left. Zoe walks into the room, her expression impassive.

Wash (weakly) No, no, no, no... Run, run...

Zoe approaches Niska.

Zoe It's five times what you paid us for the train job. Niska Yes. You have had, you say it, good times... I see that. Zoe Should be more than enough to buy back my men. Niska This is your opinion, is it? Zoe It is. Niska They are perhaps damaged now. Are they worth so much to you? Zoe Yes. Niska And to me, they are worth more. I think this is not enough. Not enough for two. But sufficient, perhaps for one.

(beat, smiling)

Ah... you now have -- Zoe (immediately) Him.

Zoe points to Wash.

Zoe (to Niska) I'm sorry. You were going to ask me to choose, right? Did you want to finish?

OFF Niska with his mouth still open.


Act 3
On the subject of kneecaps

Almost where we left off. Wash is released from his bonds and falls to the floor. Zoe moves to help him up.

Niska He is yours. We are ended now.

Zoe drapes Wash's arm over her shoulders and supports his weight. Wash can barely walk.

Wash Mal...

Wash looks over his shoulder at Mal. Mal shakes his head.

Zoe Shh. Just keep walking.

Niska waits until Wash and Zoe are at the doorway to say:

Niska A moment, please.

Zoe and Wash carefully turn. Zoe props Wash up against the door frame.

Niska (cont'd) This money, it is too much.

Niska speaks in Czech to TORTURER.

Niska Day yim zato plahteck mahsahDej jim za to plátek masa (Czech)
They have enough for a slice
Niska (cont'd) You should have some small refund.

The TORTURER takes a BIG KNIFE and CUTS OFF Mal's left ear. Zoe watches impassively. Wash turns his head.

Niska takes Mal's ear and wraps it in a white cloth. He hands it to Zoe.

Niska Now we are ended.

Without a word or a blink, Zoe takes the cloth holding Mal's ear and tucks it into her vest. Then, as Mal SCREAMS, she supports Wash as they walk away from the torture chamber.

Zoe helps Wash into the shuttle. Wash goes down on his knees. Zoe joins him on the floor, comforting him as best she can.

Wash He's insane. Zoe I know it. Wash I mean, you've told the damn stories. Saved you in the war.


I-I didn't know... Zoe You mean Mal? Wash He's crazy. He wouldn't break, Zoe.


He kept me from... Zoe It's okay. Wash I wouldn't have made it. Zoe Shh... Wash Niska's gonna kill him. Zoe He's gonna make it last as long as possible. Days, if he can.

Wash is struck by this. He stands up with great effort.

Wash Bastard's not gonna get days.

Wash moves to the pilot's seat and fires up the shuttle.

Wash and Zoe are exiting the shuttle and entering Serenity. Book, Inara, Kaylee and Simon run toward them.

Book Thank God, you're safe. Kaylee You okay? What happened? Simon Let me take a look. How bad it is? Wash I'm fine.

Wash brushes past Simon.

Inara Where's Mal? Zoe Niska wouldn't let him go. Inara Is he alive? Zoe For now.

(to Simon)

Take that to the infirmary. Put it on ice.

Zoe hands Simon the white cloth containing Mal's ear and follows Wash.

Kaylee Wh-wh-what is that?

Simon unwraps the cloth to reveal Mal's ear. Inara and Kaylee gasp.

Simon It's his ear. Book Huh choo-sang hmm zah-jah dah tahng-hwa和畜生杂交的臧获
Animal-fucking bastard
Zoe We're getting him back. Jayne What are we gonna do, clone him? Simon Well, it's a clean cut. With the right equipment, I should be able to reattach it.


That's assuming there's a head.

CLOSE on Mal, still being tortured. Still holding out.

Niska Do you know the writings of Shan Yu? Mal (groaning) We're starting a book club? What? Are you trying to tor --

(cries out)

...trying to torture me?

Niska laughs.

Niska Yes, today we meet you. Yes, and you are quite a man. An extraordinary man. Yes, but these are not times for extraordinary men. Business is not war. Heroics are unseemly. They complicate.

Niska crosses the room and takes out a black device.

Niska (cont'd) For you, I have, uh... special machine...

Niska pets the black device.

Niska (cont'd) Very precious. Mal (with effort) And they say people don't look like their pets. Niska (chuckles) Let us see if we can meet the real you.

The TORTURER smiles a bit evilly and a metallic whirring sound starts up. The TORTURER attaches the device to Mal's chest and it crawls and claws inside, almost like a metallic spider.

Mal SCREAMS, long and loud.

Wash and Zoe are loading up enough weapons for a small army. Zoe finishes loading a gun and hands it to Wash.

Zoe Here. Six shots, and then just drop it. Keep moving. Jayne (from doorway) This here's suicide. You do know that, don't you?


You really think you can mount a two-man frontal assault on Niska's skyplex and live? Wash Technically, it's a one-man/one-woman assault. A unisex.

(to Zoe)

Grenades? Zoe Oh, yes. Thank you, dear.

(to Jayne)

He won't be expecting it. Jayne Right. 'Cause they ain't insane. Kaylee (entering) Uh, I just got a wave from Inara. No luck with the Councilor.

(to Jayne)

What are they doin'? Jayne Fixin' to get themselves killed. Zoe We're gonna go get the Captain. Kaylee Oh. Good!

(to Jayne)

Can they do that? Jayne No. Wash You know, there's a certain motto. A creed among folks like us. You may have heard it: "Leave no man behind."

Wash finishes loading a tiny pistol and cocks it. Oh, the ironical sight gag.

Jayne Suicide.

Wash and Zoe are fully armed and leaving the kitchen area.

Zoe Got a good look of the layout on my way in last time. You let me lead. Cover my... back.

Zoe and Wash catch sight of Book, Simon and Kaylee arming up near a locker holding more weapons.

Zoe What's this? Simon We're going with you. Kaylee If it were any one of us, Cap'n wouldn't hesitate. Book (handing off a handgun) Here you go.

(removing a semi-automatic from locker)

This should do. Zoe Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing? Book Quite specific.


It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps. Zoe If you're looking for me to talk you out of it --

Everyone looks up at the sound of a gun cocking. Jayne is standing at the top of the stairs with Vera. When he sees everyone looking, he glances down at his zipper.

Jayne What?

Zoe looks at Wash.

Zoe Let's go get the Captain.

The TORTURER pokes a motionless Mal in the shoulder a few times, then turns to Niska.

Torturer Yep. He's dead.


Act 4
No power in the 'verse

Mal is lying on his back, chest bloody. There is an electronic whine and the TORTURER applies a defibrillator to Mal's chest. Eventually, Mal's eyes pop open and he breathes.

Niska (sing-song) Mr. Reynolds?


You died, Mr. Reynolds. Mal Seemed like the thing to do. Niska When you die, I can't hurt you anymore and I want two days, at least. Minimum. I think many people know the name Malcolm Reynolds. Many know he crossed Niska. They must know what happens after that.

Niska nods at the torturer, who comes forward with a big, nasty torture device that looks like scissors.

Niska They must know that business is still running.

Mal turns his head away from the scissors.

Establishing shot of the shuttle as it passes by the camera heading toward the space station.

The crew, minus Mal, is huddled in a darkened Serenity.

Jayne You really think this'll work? Wash Well, except for the comm static I'm piping out on all frequencies, we've been completely powered down since I fired the attitude thrusters a half hour ago. We should show up on their screens as a radar glitch if they aren't looking too close. Jayne What if they are looking too close? Wash Hell, I'm just glad we're on course. Zoe It's like throwing a dart, Jayne, and hitting a bulls-eye 6,000 miles away.


That's my man. Wash You guys better get down to the bay. We'll be at their front door in less than a minute.

Jayne exits. Zoe squeezes Wash's shoulder.

Wash (cont'd) I'm right behind you, baby.

Zoe exits. Wash pilots the dead shuttle into the space station.

Book is strapping some containers onto the four-wheel transport. Jayne and Zoe are coming down the stairs.

Zoe Book, you good? Book Yes, ma'am. Ready when you are. Zoe Kaylee, how you doing on that override sequence? Kaylee Pretty sure this'll pop their airlock doors if Wash can get a seal on the first try. Jayne Smellin' a lot of "if" comin' off this plan. Zoe You coulda stayed in your bunk. Jayne Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

(cocks Vera)

Wash comes down the stairs, calling out:

Wash We're set. Zoe Okay, people... If it moves, shoot it. Kaylee Unless it's the Captain! Zoe Unless it's the Captain.

They all move toward the cargo bay door.

A guard is lazily sitting at his post, reading a girly magazine, when he realizes static is coming from his monitor. He hits a few buttons and sees Serenity docking. He hits the alarm.

Niska and the TORTURER are bent over Mal. Mal hears the alarm.

Mal Listen... if you got guests, I can come back later.

Niska gives the TORTURER a peeved look.

Three guards stand in front of the opening bay door. As the door opens, they're blinding by a bright light coming from Serenity's cargo bay. An ENGINE REVS, and then the four-wheel mule speeds off Serenity's cargo bay and into the space station, prompting the blinded guards to shoot at it.

The mule crashes into a guard and explodes.

Jayne, Zoe, and Wash advance down the ramp into the space station, shooting. Zoe tosses a grenade around the corner into a corridor.

MIXED SHOUTS of "Move, move, move" and "Take cover!" sound before the grenade blasts. One of the guards stumbles out of the corridor, his back on fire.

Zoe Second team!

Book, Kaylee AND Simon advance down the ramp.

Zoe Hold this position! We lose this position, we lose it all. You're going to hold this ground.


Understand me?

Book fires at a guard advancing down the hallway. Hits the guard in the kneecap, prompting the guard to fall forward and crack his head open on a jutting piece of the mule.

Book Understood. Zoe Okay, then.

Jayne advances down the hallway, firing a pistol at advancing guards. Zoe and Wash follow. Book takes up position.

Zoe's in the lead now, shooting at guards as they pop up. Jayne and Wash follow her.

Niska, thoroughly annoyed by the commotion, walks over to the comm box in the wall. The TORTURER turns his back to Mal. Mal doesn't move, but his eyes show he's alert.

Niska Viktor, what is this? Viktor!

Suddenly, the TORTURER arches his back and screams, falling to his knees to REVEAL

Mal standing behind him. Mal's attached the little black torture device that killed him to the TORTURER's back. Mal steps over the TORTURER's writhing body and PUNCHES Niska in the face. Niska falls to the floor.

Mal Looks like business ain't running so much as crawlin' away.


You want to meet the real me now?

Jayne is leaning out from his cover to fire at the guards and takes a shot in the left shoulder.

Jayne Ah! Ah, gorram it.

Zoe advances up the corridor. A guard pops out from cover and Zoe barrel rolls, pulling two handguns from her shoulder holsters as she rises, nailing the guard in the chest.

Book is firing upon the advancing guards. Simon and Kaylee are looking distinctly nervous.

Simon Book, we, uh...

Guards are advancing Simon's way. He shoots, but misses. Book ducks from behind his cover and takes out one of the advancing guards.

Jayne (O.S.) Get behind us, Preacher! We need cover!

Book jerks his head at his position, taking off down the hallway. Simon nervously takes up Book's position.

Book (to Simon) Don't think. Just shoot.

More guards advance. Kaylee can't deal with it. She freaks and runs back into Serenity. River joins her at the ramp, takes one glance out at the three guards, then picks up Kaylee's abandoned pistol.

River (chanting) Can't look. Can't look.

River suddenly stands up and fires three times.


Kaylee stands and peers out at the docking bay. All three guards are now dead. Kaylee looks at River.

River (smiling faintly) No power in the 'verse can stop me.

Mal is beating up Niska when the TORTURER grabs Mal from behind. They grapple and end up falling backward out a glass window leading to the huge shaft we saw earlier in the episode.

The TORTURER is strangling Mal with a length of cord.

Mal (strangled) Haven't you killed me enough for one day?

Zoe, Jayne and Wash advance to the doorway of the torture chamber. Zoe pulls the door open, and we're,

Jayne, Zoe, and Wash advance, see the Captain being strangled outside on the narrow balcony surrounding the huge processing shaft.

Jayne raises his pistol. Zoe puts her hand on his arm.

Zoe Jayne. This is something the Captain has to do for himself. Mal (strangled) No! No, it's not! Zoe (oops) Oh.

Zoe, Jayne and Wash all shoot at the TORTURER. The TORTURER falls over the edge of the balcony and tumbles to his death.

Establishing shot of Serenity.

Simon is packing up medical supplies when a battered Mal enters the cargo bay. He can't seem to stop touching his mended ear.

Mal Sure this thing's gonna stay on? Simon This dermal mender creates an excellent tissue bond. It should be fine. Just don't... don't fiddle with it. Mal (to Inara) Be sure to, uh, thank the Councilor for me. Awful nice of her to... pull some strings and lend us this equipment. Inara It's the least she could do. I just wish you'd killed that old bastard. Mal I got regrets on that score my own self.


So. I hear you all took up arms in that little piece of action back there.

(to Simon)

How you faring with that, doctor? Simon I don't know. I, uh... I never-never shot anyone before. Book I was there, son. I'm fair sure you haven't shot anyone yet.

Mal chuckles and heads up the stairs, squeezing Kaylee's hand as he goes past. A moment later, Kaylee turns back to see River standing in the catwalks. Kaylee's obviously uncomfortable.

Wash sits at the table. Zoe is at the counter behind him dishing up food. She comes around the corner and sets a bowl in front of Wash, shaking out his napkin and tucking it into his shirt.

Wash Mmm. Wife soup.

Zoe chuckles.

Wash (cont'd) I must've done good. Zoe Yes, dear. You done good.

Zoe smooches Wash's cheek and puts her arms around his neck.

There's a PAINED GROAN as Mal enters the kitchen area. Zoe lets go of Wash.

Mal Did you tell her? Wash Tell her what? Mal (to Zoe) Your husband has demanded that we sleep together. Zoe Really? Wash What? Mal, come on. Mal He seems to think it would get all this burning sexual tension out in the open -- you know, make a fair fight for your womanly affections. Wash No. That was the torture talking. Remember? The torture?

Mal takes Zoe's hands. Puts one on his hip, the other on his shoulder.

Mal (deadpan) I know it's a difficult mission... but you and I... have to get it on. Zoe I understand. We have no choice.

Zoe and Mal stand about a foot apart, staring at each other. Absolutely nothing resembling The Sexy is happening.

Jayne walks into the kitchen area just in time to hear:

Zoe (deadpan) Take me, sir. Take me hard. Jayne Now somethin' about that is just downright unsettling.

Wash throws down his napkins as Mal and Zoe mock-struggle to kiss each other from a foot away. Wash grabs Zoe and escorts her to the door.

Wash We'll be in our bunk.

Wash playfully smacks Zoe's behind as they walk out of the kitchen.

Disconcerted, Jayne turns around and walks toward the dinner table. Mal is slowly, painfully pulling out a chair.

Jayne Oh, hey.

Jayne smacks the back of his hand against Mal's belly, sitting down at the table where Wash was sitting.

Jayne (cont'd) Free soup.

Mal makes a tiny grunt of intense pain and freezes, glaring at Jayne.


End of Show