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ALL SCRIPTS




 
                                   SERENITY

     

                                  Written by

                                  Joss Whedon




                                                      April 18, 2004
          

          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 foliage. People walk
          about and vehicles glide quietly overhead. A utopian vista.

          GIRL
          Now that the war's over, our
          soldiers get to come home, yes?

          TEACHER
          Some of them. Some will be
          stationed on the rim planets as
          Peace Enforcers.

          BOY
          I don't understand. Why were the
          Independents even fighting us?
          Why wouldn't they look to be more
          civilized?

          TEACHER
          That's a good question. Does
          anybody want to open on that?

          GIRL
          I hear they're cannibals.

          ANOTHER BOY
          That's only Reavers.

          ANOTHER GIRL
          Reavers aren't real.

          ANOTHER BOY
          Full well they are. They attack
          settlers from space, they kill
          them and wear their skins and rape
          them for hours and hours --

          TEACHER
          (in Chinese)
          

          (CALMER)
          It's true that there are...
          dangers on the outer planets. So
          let's follow up on Borodin's
          question. With all the social and
          medical advancements we can bring
          to the Independents, why would
          they fight so hard against us?

          4

          

          

          

          

          3.

          RIVER
          We meddle.

          TEACHER
          River? 
          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.

          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
          (gently taking her

          STYLUS)
          River, we're not telling people
          what to think. We're just trying
          to show them how.
          She violently PLUNGES the stylus into the girl's forehead

          INT. LAB - NIGHT

           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.

          2ND TECHNICIAN
          She's dreaming.

          FIRST TECHNICIAN
          Nightmare?

          2ND TECHNICIAN
          Off the charts. Scary monsters.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Let's amp it up. Delcium, eight-
          drop.
          DOCTOR MATHIAS is not instantly likable -- nor gradually, for
          that matter. A cold man, and more than a little satisfied
          with himself.

          

          

          

          

          4.
          Behind him stands a GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR, observing. And
          making him a little nervous.
          The Inspector is in shadow, but his uniform indicates
          -- no
          substantial rank, as does the eagle-crested baton
          longer than a ruler -- that he clutches in one gloved hand.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS

          (CONTINUING)
          See, most of our best work is done
          when they're asleep. We can
          monitor and direct their
          subconscious, implant
          suggestions...
          River starts convulsing, mewing in misery. The Inspector
          starts forward, slowly.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS

          (CONTINUING)
          It's a little startling to see,
          but the results are spectacular.
          Especially in this case. River
          Tam is our star pupil.
          The Inspector steps into the light. He is rigid, cold,
          staring at the girl with no emotion at all. His name, as we
          will very soon learn, is SIMON.

          SIMON
          I've heard that.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          She's a genius. Her mental
          capacity is extraordinary, even
          with the side-effects.

          SIMON
          Tell me about them.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Well, obviously, she's unstable...
          the neural stripping gives them
          heightened cognitive reception,
          but it also destabilizes their own
          reality matrix. It manifests as
          borderline schizophrenia... which
          at this point is the price for
          being truly psychic.

          SIMON
          (moves toward her)
          What use do we have for a psychic
          if she's insane?

          J

          

          

          

          

          5.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          I don't have to tell you the
          security potential of someone who
          can read minds. And she has lucid
          periods -- we hope to improve upon
          the... I'm sorry, Sir, I have to
          ask if there's some reason for
          this inspection.

          SIMON

          (TURNING)
          Am I making you nervous?

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Key members of Parliament have
          personally observed this subject.
          I was told their support for the
          project was unanimous. The
          demonstration of her power --

          SIMON
          (turns back to her)
          How is she physically?

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
           Like nothing we've seen. All our
          subjects are conditioned for
          combat, but River... she's a
          creature of extraordinary grace.

          400

          SIMON
          Yes. She always did love to dance.
          He 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 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

          (CONTINUING)
          River. Wake up. Please, it's
          Simon. River. It's your brother.
          Wake up...
          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.

          IWO

          

          

          

          

          6.
          River is suddenly next to him. He jumps a little.

          RIVER
          Simon.
          A beat, as they face each other, Simon fighting emotion.

          RIVER

          (CONTINUING)
          They know you've come.

          INT. GUARD STATION - CONTINUING

          As a 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. RESEARCH CENTER CORRIDOR - CONTINUING

          Simon walks River through the corridor. They approach a pair
          of double doors.

          SIMON
          We can't make it to the surface
          from inside.
          Simon turns suddenly as he hears footsteps, people heading at
          them from the other side of the doors.
          4wo SIMON

          (CONTINUING)
          Find a --
          But River has, impossibly, scampered up over some lab
          equipment to the dark top of the corridor, where she holds
          herself in a perfect split, feet against the walls and
          outstretched hand holding the sprinkler for support.
          The doors burst open and two doctors pass by, hardly noticing
          the lone orderly. Passing right under River.

           EXT. VENTILATION SHAFT - MOMENTS LATER

          It's 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 lasers have no effect.
          Wind whips River's hair about as she looks up to see a small
          patch of daylight visible ten stories up. Sees the sky
          blotted out by a small ship that hovers above them.

          V0

          

          

          

          

          7.
          ANGLE: THE SHIP is floating over the grass of rolling hills,
          the city gleaming far beyond. This facility is well hidden.
          A gurney-sized section of the ship's belly detaches and drops
          down ten stories, cables spooling it out of the ship. It
          comes to Simon and River and stops suddenly.

          SIMON
          Get on!
          He is standing by the window -- and the Security Agent is
          right behind him, 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 --

           THE OPERATIVE (O.S.)
          Stop.
          The action freezes.

           THE OPERATIVE (0.S.)

           (CONTINUING)
          Lovely. Lovely. Backtrack.
          The action REVERSES, taking us back to the moment of Simon
          and River on the gurney just before it rises.
          f t o

          THE OPERATIVE (O.S.)

          (CONTINUING)
          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. Wire-rimmed glasses, 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.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Biograph. Simon Tam.

          CLOSE ON: THE OPERATIVE'S GLASSES

          IWO

          

          

          

          

          8.
          As Simon's history files down in print and pictures --
          graduation, security photo from his medical internship --
          over one lens of the Operative's glasses.

          THE OPERATIVE

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

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Excuse me! No one is allowed in
          the records room without my
          express permission.

          THE OPERATIVE
          (over this, quietly)
          Enter the doctor.
          (to Mathias)
          Forgive me. I prefer to see the
          event alone, without bias.
          Mathias looks at the hologram -- realizes which one it is.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          I need to see your clearance.

          THE OPERATIVE
          You're right to insist. I know
          you've had security issues here.
          He places his hand on a screen as he says it. Mathias looks
          at the readout, and drops the bluster.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Apologies. An Operative of the
          Parliament will of course have
          full cooperation.
          (looks at screen)
          I'm not sure what... I see no
          listing of rank, or name.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I have neither. Like this
          facility, I don't exist. The
          Parliament calls me in when...
          when they wish they didn't have
          to. Let's talk about the Tams.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          I assume you've scanned the status
          logs...

          VJ

          

          

          

          

          9.

          THE OPERATIVE
          River was your greatest success.
          A prodigy -- A phenomenon. Until
          her brother walked in eight months
          ago and took her from you.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          It's not quite so simple.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I'm very aware of that.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          He came in with full creds. He
          beat the ap-scan, the retinal...
          There was no way I could --

          THE OPERATIVE
          No, no. Of course. The boy spent
          his fortune developing the
          contacts to infiltrate this place.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Gave up a brilliant future in.
          medicine as well, you've probably
          read. Turned his back on his
          whole life. Madness.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Madness, no. Something a good
          deal more dangerous. Have you
          looked at this scan carefully? At
          his face?
          Mathias looks uncertain.

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          It's love, in point of fact. He
          loved his sister and he knew she
          was in pain. So he took her
          somewhere safe.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Why are you here?

          THE OPERATIVE
          I'm here because the situation is
          even less simple than you think.
          (eyeing him)
          Do you know what your sin is,
          Doctor?

          J

          

          

          

          

          10.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          I. I would be very careful about
          what you --

          THE OPERATIVE

          (SADLY)
          It's pride.
          He touches the computer screen and the hologramic image jumps
          to the Doctor and Simon in the lab, Mathias repeating:

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Key members of Parliament have
          personally observed this subject.
          I was told their support --

          THE OPERATIVE
          (shutting it off)
          Key members of Parliament. Key.
          The minds behind every diplomatic,
          military and covert operation in
          the galaxy, and you put them in a
          room with a psychic.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          She was... she read cards, nothing
          more.

          THE OPERATIVE
          It's come to our attention that
          River became much more unstable,
          more... disturbed, after you
          showed her off to Parliament. Did
          she see something very terrible in
          those cards?

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          Whatever... secrets she might have
          accidentally gleaned... it's
          probable she doesn't even know she
          knows them. That they're buried
          beneath --

          THE OPERATIVE
          But they are in her. Her mind is
          unquiet. It's the will of the
          Parliament that I kill her. And
          the brother. Because of your sin.

          J

          

          

          

          

          11.

          THE OPERATIVE
          (continuing; moving
          to his briefcase)
          You know, in certain older
          civilized cultures, when men
          failed as entirely as you have,
          they would throw themselves on
          their swords.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          (fed up)
          Well, unfortunately I forgot to
          bring a sword to --
          The air rings crisply as the Operative pulls out his sword.

          THE OPERATIVE
          The Parliament has no further
          interest in psychics. They
          represent a threat to the harmony
          and stability of our Alliance.

          DOCTOR MATHIAS
          I would put that down right now if
          I were you.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Would you be killed in your sleep,
          like an ailing pet? Whatever your
          failings, I believe you deserve
          better than that.
          The agents move. He 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.

          V0

          

          

          

          

          12.

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          Young miss, I'll need all the logs-
          on behavioral modification
          triggers. We'll have to reach out
          to River Tam, and help her to come
          back to us. No matter how far out
          Simon has taken her, we can --
          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:

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          This is a good death. There's no
          shame in this, in a man's death.
          A man who's 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:

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          Young miss, I need you to get to
          work now. I think I may have a
          long way to travel.

           40
          She goes. He approaches River, very close, staring...

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          Where are you hiding,,little girl?
          The noise is sucked suddenly out of the room as we black out.

          M0

          

          

          

          

          SERENITY

          10

          

          

          

          

          13.
          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, MALCOLM 'MAL' REYNOLDS, standing and watching.
          At that moment, a small piece of the nose breaks off and goes
          flying past the window.

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          [Note: the following sequence will take us through the ship
          in one extended STEADICAM shot.]
          The bridge is small: two pilot seats on either side, and a
          tangle of wires and machinery all about.
          Mal wears the knee-length brown coat and boots of an old
          Independent. Gun at his hip. He's not unlike the ship --
          he's seen a bit of the world and it left him, emotionally at
          least, weathered. Right now, though, he's mostly startled.

          MAL
          What was that?
          He's addressing the pilot, WASH. Flight gear and a hawaiian
          shirt, toy dinosaurs populating his station -- no old
          soldier, but just as startled.

          WASH
          Whoah! Did you see that --
          The ship bucks --

          MAL
          Was that the primary buffer panel?

          WASH
          It did seem to resemble --

          J

          

          

          

          

          14.

          MAL
          Did the Primary Buffer Panel just
          fall off my gorramn ship for no
          apparent reason?
          Another buck --

          WASH
          Looks like.

          MAL
          I thought Kaylee checked our entry
          couplings! I have a very clear
          memory of it --

          WASH
          Yeah well if she doesn't give us
          some extra flow from the engine
          room to offset the burnthrough
          this landing is gonna get pretty
          interesting.

          MAL
          Define "Interesting".

          WASH
          (calm suggestion:)
          "Oh god, oh god, we're all gonna
          die?"

          J

          MAL
          (hits the com)
          This is the Captain. There's a
          little problem with our entry
          sequence; we may experience slight
          turbulence and then explode.
          (to Wash, exiting)
          Can you shave the vector --

          WASH
          I'm doing it! It's not enough.
          (hits com)
          Kaylee!

          MAL
          Just get us on the ground!

          WASH
          That part'll happen, pretty
          definitely.

          J

          

          

          

          

          15.

          INT. FOREDECK HALL - CONTINUING

          The camera leads Mal down. On either side of the hall are
          ladders leading down to crew's personal quarters.
          The hulking mercenary 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 bringing? You only got the 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
          Well, what you plan and what takes
          place ain't ever exactly been
          similar.

          MAL
          No grenades.
          (Jayne groans)
          No grenades.
          First Mate ZOE enters from the lower level. Her mode of
          dress and military deference mark her as a war buddy of Mal's.

          ZOE
          Are we crashing again?

          MAL
          Talk to your husband. Is the mule
          prepped?

          ZOE
          Good to go, sir. Just loading her
          up.
          (to Jayne)
          Are those grenades?

          JAYNE
          Cap'n doesn't want 'em.

          J

          

          

          

          

          16.

          ZOE
          We're robbing the place. We're
          not occupying it.
          All that plays in the background as we lead Mal into the:

          INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING

          It's the communal space of the ship, homey and messy. 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.

          MAL
          (calling out)
          Kaylee!
          He enters:

          INT. AFT HALL/ENGINE ROOM - CONTINUING


          MAL
          (still calling)
          Kaylee, what in the sphincter of
          hell are you playing at?
          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 the sweetly pretty mechanic, KAYLEE. She passes
          Mal with a slightly impatient smile as he stands in the
          doorway, raising his voice above the din.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          We got the Primary Buffer

          KAYLEE
          Everything's shiny, Cap'n. Not to
          fret.

          MAL
          You told me --

          (JOLT)
          You told me the entry couplings
          would hold for another week!

          KAYLEE

          (WORKING)
          That was six months ago, cap'n.

          MAL
          My ship don't crash. If she
          crashes, you crashed her.

          

          

          

          

          17.
          Steam and electricity shoot at him, backing him up.
          He turns to see Simon behind him. Simon is more seasoned
          than before, but still contrasts the Captain entirely in
          dress and manner. He is implacably proper. Also pissed.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Doctor. Guess I need to get
          innocked 'fore we hit planetside.
          Simon nods, the ship jolting again.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Bit of a rockety ride. Nothing to
          worry about.

          SIMON
          I'm not worried.

          MAL
          Fear is nothing to be ashamed of,
          Doc.

          SIMON
          This isn't fear. This is anger.

          MAL

          4 (LAUGHS)
          Well, it's kinda hard to tell the
          one from t'other, face like yours.

          SIMON
          I imagine if it were fear, my eyes
          would be wider.

          MAL
          I'll look for that next time.

          SIMON
          You're not taking her.

          MAL
          (brushing past him)
          No no, that's not a thing I'm
          interested in talking over with --

          SIMON
          She's not going with you. That's
          final.

          4

          

          

          

          

          18.

          MAL
          (turning back)
          I hear the words "that's final"
          come out of your mouth ever again,
          they truly will be.
          (turning away again)
          This is my boat. Y'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? I earn my passage,
          Captain --

          MAL
          And it's time your little sister
          learned from your fine example.

          SIMON
          I've earned my passage treating
          bullet holes, knife wounds, laser
          burns...

          MAL
          Some of our jobs are trickier than
          others --

          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.
          The passenger dorm has a time-worn warmth that most of the
          ship shares. Except, of course, for the sterile blue of:

          INT. INFIRMARY - CONTINUING

          Into which the two men step.

          SIMON
          She's a seventeen year old girl.
          A mentally traumatized sevente--

          J

          

          

          

          

          19.

          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.

          MAL

          (LAUGHS)
          Honestly, doctor, I think we may
          really crash this time anyway.
          Simon jabs the inoculation needle into Mal's arm.

          SIMON
          Do you understand what I've gone
          through to keep River away from
          the Alliance?

          MAL
          I do, and it's a fact me and mine
          have been courteous enough to keep
          to our own selves.

          SIMON
          Are you threatening to --

          MAL
          I got one purpose here: keep this
          boat in the air. I take the jobs
          I get -- which is less and less,
          case you ain't been keeping track.
          He starts away, Simon still keeping pace.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Every year since the war the
          Alliance pushes just a little
          further out towards the rim.
          Makes it a chore for naughty men
          like us to slip about -- and
          keeping you two on board means
          working twice as hard to avoid the
          law. Means turning down a score
          of honest jobs.

          J

          

          

          

          

          20.

          INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

          They enter the biggest space on the ship. Giant doors sit at
          the front, which will open upon landing to reveal a lowering
          ramp. Catwalks surround the space, leading up at the front to
          the foredeck hall. We've come all the way through Serenity.

          MAL
          So here is us, on the raggedy
          edge. Don't push me and I won't
          push you. 
          Simon starts up the stairs as Mal calls to him:

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Things get gritty I will keep her
          from the fray, but she's coming.
          Best you get her ready.
          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

          (CONTINUING)
          Zoe, is Wash gonna straighten this
          boat out before we get flattened?

          ZOE
          Like a downy feather, sir. Nobody
          flies like my mister.
          The camera picks up Simon's feet as they enter foreground on
          the catwalk, and track with them to find:

          SIMON
          River...
          She's lying on her side, looking straight at us. A loose
          summer dress draped over her small frame.

          RIVER
          I know. We're going for a ride.

          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 piling in next to
          River in the back:

          

          

          

          

          21.

          SIMON
          Now, River, you stay behind the
          others. If there's fighting you
          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.

          RIVER
          I'm the brains of the operation.

          ZOE
          We should hit town right during
          Sunday worship. Won't be any
          crowds.

          MAL
          If Fanty and Mingo are right about
          the payroll, this could look to be
          a sunny day for us.

          SIMON

          (APPROACHING)
          Captain, I'll ask you one last
          time...

          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.

          SIMON
          It's amazing. I bring River all
          the way out to the raggedy edge of
          the 'verse so she can hide from
          the Alliance by robbing banks.

          KAYLEE
          It's just a little Trading
          Station. They'll be back 'fore
          you can spit.
          (as he stalks off)
          Not that you spit...

          

          

          

          

          22.
          Kaylee watches him go, a tad forlorn.

          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

          The mule pulls up, Zoe hitching it as they speak:

          JAYNE
          What are we hoping to find here
          that equals the worth of a turd?

          MAL
          Alliance payroll. There's peace
          enforcing squads stationed all
          about this quadrant. Can't use
          credits out here -- they got to
          pay their boys in cashy money.
          Which once a month rests here.

          ZOE
          Something about stealing from the
          Alliance just warms a body like
          whiskey in winter.

          JAYNE
          (cocks his gun)
          Shiny. Let's be badguys.
          Mal turns back to River.

          MAL
          You ready to go to work, darlin'?

          RIVER
          There's no pattern to the pebbles
          here, they're completely random.
          I tried to count them but you
          drove too fast. Hummingbird.

          MAL
          (never mind)
          Right. Great. Let's go.

          INT. TRADING STATION - DAY

          We are in a camera's eye view, right above the door.

          J

          

          

          

          

          23.
          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 maybe 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, now!
          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 Civil 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.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Y'all wanna be looking very
          intently at your own belly
          buttons. I see a head start to
          rise, violence is gonna ensue.
          The guy who rushed Mal complies along with everyone else.
          Jayne dumps his catch on the floor and rips open his dirty
          shirt to reveal the purple of an Alliance uniform.

          JAYNE
          Looks like this is the place.
          He looks up at Mal, who 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've probably guessed we mean to
          be thieving here, but what we are
          after is not yours. So let's have
          no undue fussing.
          As he is speaking, Jayne is scrambling to the back office,
          finding the small vault locked.

          1410

          

          

          

          

          24.

          JAYNE
          She's locked up.
          River suddenly looks around, perturbed.
          CLOSE ON: a young tough.
          River looks up at Zoe, alarmed, 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
          You know what the definition of a
          hero is? It's someone who gets
          other people killed. You can look
          it up later.
          He drops his weapon, slides it across the floor.
          Mal moves to the Trade Agent. Hauls him up, tosses him
          toward the vault. Zoe and Jayne follow.

          TRADE AGENT
          This is just a crop moon, don't
          think you'll find what you --

          MAL
          (in Chinese)
          140 
          The old man punches in the code. What opens is a tiny wall
          safe. Bundles of bills, some scattered coin. Unimpressive.
          Jayne and Zoe are behind the captain, 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, stairs leading to a corridor, all gleaming
          metal and blue light. Zoe smiles. Jayne peers down as Mal
          addresses the Trade Agent.

          MAL
          Is there a fed down there? Be
          truthful.

          TRADE AGENT

          (NODDING)
          Y'all are Browncoats, hey? Fought
          for independence?

          VJ

          

          

          

          

          25.

          MAL
          War's long done. We're all just
          folk now.
          (calls down)
          Listen up! We are coming down to
          empty that vault!
          The voice of a young Alliance GUARD comes up from below.

          GUARD (O.S.)
          You have to give me your
          authorization password!
          Jayne impatiently fires a burst of machine-gun fire down into
          the hole. A beat...

           GUARD (O . S . )

           (CONTINUING)
          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 door, that the guard is
          already opening. Behind that door, a few bags of the real
          deal: 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.

          SON
          Repeater.

          WOMAN
          Did sound summat like gunblast...
          Maybe you aught 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...

          

          

          

          

          26.

          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? What's goin' on?
          He holds her, as she whispers, wide-eyed...

          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
          Leg's good, it'll bleed plenty and
          we avoid any necessary organs...

          GUARD
          I was thinking more of a graze..

          MAL
          Well you don't want it to look
          like you just gave up...

          JAYNE (O.S.)

          MAL!

          MAL
          (to himself)
          Every heist, he's gotta start
          yelling my name --

          JAYNE
          (barreling in)
          Mal! Reavers! The girl's
          pitchin' a fit. They're here or
          they're comin' soon.
          He is already loading up with bags as Mal thinks quickly.

          MAL
          (to Zoe and Jayne)
          Get on the mule.
          (to the guard,
          pointing to the

          VAULT)
          Does that open from the inside?

          J

          

          

          

          

          27.

          GUARD
          Whah -ah- yes...

          MAL
          You get everyone upstairs in there
          and you seal it. Long as you got
          air you don't open up, you
          understand?

          GUARD
          I -- Buh I --
          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 --

          MAL
          Zoe take the wheel --

          JAYNE
          You see 'em? Anybody see 'em?
          1J -- 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 MAN
          Take me with you!

          MAL
          Get in the vault with the others --

          YOUNG MAN
          I can't stay here! Please!

          MAL
          It's too many. Drive, Zoe.
          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 MAN

          PLEASE!

          

          

          

          

          28.

          MAL
          Drive!
          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.

          ANGLE: THE EDGE OF TOWN
          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.

          ANGLE: THE CENTER OF TOWN
          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.

          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.

          JAYNE
          How come they ain't blowing us out
          of the air?

          MAL
          They wanna run us down. The up-
          close kill.
          River is squashed down on her back, being very small.

          RIVER
          They want us alive when they eat
          us.

          JAYNE
          Boy, sure would be nice if we had
          some grenades, don'tchya think?
          Mal says nothing, keeps firing.

          ZOE
          Wash, baby can you hear me?

          VO

          

          

          

          

          29.

          INT. SERENITY: BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          Wash is in a frenzy of switchflipping, prepping for take-off.

          WASH
          We're moments from air. You got
          somebody behind you?
          We intercut Wash and Zoe at this point:

          EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING


          ZOE
          Reavers.

          WASH

          (BLANCHING)
          

          ZOE
          We're not gonna reach you in time.

          WASH
          Just keep moving, honey. We're
          coming to you.

          EXT. SERENITY - CONTINUING

          As she lifts off and starts heading toward the others.

          EXT. DESERT - CONTINUING

          Zoe gets the mule in front but a harpoon thwinngs through the
          air from the skiff and S} NK! 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
          Grab on!
          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 et! You shoot me if
          they take me!
          Mal steadies himself and takes aim, seemingly at Jayne --

          JAYNE

          (CONTINUING)
          Well don't shoot me first!

          J

          

          

          

          

          30.
          Mal fires. Again. Steadies himself for one more...
          The line holding the harpoon is split by Mal's third shot.

          V0V
          The mule surges forward as Jayne drags on the ground. Mal
          hauls him in as River bounds into the front to make room.

          JAYNE

          (CONTINUING)
          Rutting pigs! Where's --
          And River is holding out his weapon before he can ask for it.

          EXT. ANOTHER PART OF THE DESERT - CONTINUING

          Serenity rushes across the desert floor, not much higher off
          it than the smaller crafts.

          WASH
          (to Zoe)
          Get some distance on 'em. You come
          to the flats, I want you to swing
          round. Gonna try a Barn Swallow.

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

           Wash hits the com.

           WASH
          J Simon! Open the loading dock!

          INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

          Simon moves 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 - CONTINUING

          The mule reaches the flats, away from the rocks.

          WASH (O.S.)
          (in Zoe's ear)
          Okay, baby, we've talked this
          through...

          ZOE
          Talkin' ain't doin'.
          She throws the wheel and the mule comes hard about,
          fishtailing slightly as it faces the oncoming skiff.

          WASH (O.S.)
          Don't slow down!

          

          

          

          

          31.

          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 C02 shoot out of the floor.
          Simon hits the button to start the outer ramp closing, then
          runs to the mule. The C02 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
          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 s i op.
          4 Everybody takes a moment to look at each other.

          

          

          

          

          32.

          WASH (O.S.)
          We all here? What's going on?
          Hello?
          r./ ZOE
          (moves to the com)
          No casualties. Anybody following?

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING


          WASH
          Nice flying, baby, and that's a
          negative. Clean getaway -- Out of
          atmo in six minutes.

          INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING


          MAL
          Set course for Beaumonde.
          (to the others)
          First thing, I want these bod --
          Simon suddenly punches him in the face, causing Mal to
          stumble back, and Simon to shake his hand in pain.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          

          SIMON
          You stupid, selfish, son of a
          whore ---

          MAL
          I'm a hair's breadth from riddling
          you with holes, Doctor --

          SIMON
          "One simple job! She'll be fine!"

          MAL
          She IS fine! Except for bein'
          still crazy, she's the picture of
          health!

          ZOE
          Wasn't for River, we'd probably be
          left there. She felt 'em coming.

          SIMON
          Never again. You understand me?

          J

          

          

          

          

          33.

          MAL
          Seems I remember a talk about you
          giving orders on my boat.

          SIMON
          Well sleep easy 'cause we're off
          your boat. Just as soon as River
          gets her share of the "bounty".

          KAYLEE
          Well let's not do anything hasty...

          MAL
          No, shiny! I'm sick a' carrying
          tourists anyhow. We'll be on
          Beaumonde in ten hours time, you
          can pick up your earnings and be
          on your merry. Meantime you do
          your job. Patch up my crew.
          A beat.

          RIVER
          He didn't lie down. They never
          lie down.
          She is looking at the Reaver. Everyone does, for a moment.

          INT. FOREDECK HALL - MOMENTS LATER

          Mal and Zoe enter from below.

          ZOE
          No, I think things'll 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. They's as
          babes in a basket when we took 'em
          in; we sheltered 'em plenty. Man
          has to cut loose, learn to stand
          on his own.

          ZOE
          Like that man back in town?
          They stop by Mal Is room.

          MAL
          I had to shoot him. What the
          Reavers woulda done to him before
          they killed him...

          J

          

          

          

          

          34.

          ZOE
          I know. That was a piece a'
          mercy. But before that, him
          begging us to bring him along...
          vo,

          MAL
          We couldn't take the weight.
          Woulda slowed us down.

          ZOE
          You know that for certain

          MAL
          Mule won't run with five. I
          shoulda dumped the girl? Or you?
          Or Jayne?

          (CONSIDERING)
          Well, Jayne...

          ZOE
          Coulda tossed the payload.

          MAL
          And go to Fanty and Mingo with air
          in our mitts, tell 'em "here's
          your share"? They'd set the dogs
          on us in the space of a twitch,
          and there we are back in mortal
          peril. We get a job, we gotta
          vo make good.
          Washenters from the bridge.

          ZOE
          Sir, I don't disagree on any
          particular point, it's just... in
          the time of war, we woulda never
          left a man stranded.

          MAL
          Maybe that's why we lost.
          She's not happy with the reply. Mal climbs down to his room
          as Wash reaches Zoe, slides his arms around her.

          INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUING

          Once alone, Mal lets his own disappointment show. He pulls
          off his holster and drops it over a chair. Kicks the toilet
          closed and sits on his bunk.
          The place resembles a submarine cabin, with charts and
          clutter, ancient maps on the walls.

          J

          

          

          

          

          35.
          Mal moves a bunch of papers off his bunk and a picture slides
          out. Hits the floor and starts moving: it's a snapshot-movie

          OF:

          VW - DAY

          INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE

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

          INARA
          Kaylee, are you ever gonna put
          that capture down?

          KAYLEE (0.5.)
          We gotta have records of
          everything. 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.

          KAYLEE (O.S.)

          (CONTINUING)
          For one sweet second, we was
          almost classy.

          INARA
          4 You promised to help me pack.

           KAYLEE (O.S.)
          Honest, Inara, why do you have to
          leave?
          Inara shoots an uncertain look at the camera -- and the
          picture freezes, goes back to the beginning.
          During all this, Mal has picked it up. He looks at it a
          moment, tosses it aside. Looks around at nothing much.

          JAYNE (V.0.)
          I do not get it. How's a guy get
          so wrong?

          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:

          R

          

          

          

          

          36.

          JAYNE
          Ain't logical. Cuttin' on his own
          face, rapin' and murdering -- I
          mean, 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 I'm gettin' paid -- mostly only
          when I'm gettin' paid. But these
          Reavers... last ten years they
          just show up like the boageyman
          from stories. Eating people
          alive? Where does that get fun?
          He dumps the body in, she starts the doors closing.

          KAYLEE
          Shepherd Book said they was men
          that reached the edge of space.,
          saw a vasty nothingness and just
          went bibbledy over it.

          JAYNE
          Hell, I been to the edge. Just
          looked like more space.

          KAYLEE
          I don't know. People get awful
          lonely in the black. Like to get
          addlepated ourselves, we stay on
          this boat much longer. Captain'll
          drive us all off, one by one.

          JAYNE
          You're just in a whinge cuz that
          prissy doc is finally
          disembarking. Me I says good
          riddance. He never belonged here,
          and his sister's no saner than one
          of them Reavers.

          KAYLEE
          That ain't even so! River's a
          dear heart and a boon to this
          crew! You just don't like her
          'cause she can read your mind and
          everything you think is mean.

          JAYNE
          Well, there is that.

          J

          

          

          

          

          37.

          KAYLEE
          Her and Simon could have a place
          here. Now they're leaving us.
          Just like Shepherd Book.
          She looks up toward one of the shuttles.

          KAYLEE

          (CONTINUING)
          Just like Inara...

          INT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - DAY

          And here she is, moving back and down into frame, her eyes
          half closed in passion. She settles on a cluster of brocaded
          pillows, and we see another head lowering in for a kiss...
          Come around to see it's another lovely young woman -- and
          that there is a group of ten others watching intently, all in
          saris, on their knees. Two handsome young men with shaved
          heads in the back, also on their knees.
          Inara stops before the kiss, smiling and coming back up. She
          speaks to the girls (We hear only soft music) as she
          repositions the one she's with, lowering again; showing her
          the motion of surrender as if it were a dance step.

          A WOMAN'S VOICE (V.0.)
          They love you.

          410

          EXT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - DUSK

          Inara looks out at the mountains. The space she's in
          resembles a Tibetan monastery, if slightly more opulent.
          Widen to see she is with SHEYDRA, a somewhat older Companion,
          the woman whose voice we heard. She hands Inara a drink.

          SHEYDRA
          The girls. They've learned more
          from you these last months than
          the rest of us could show them in
          two years.

          INARA
          They're very sweet. But they're
          not Companions.

          SHEYDRA

          (WRYLY)
          You've no hope for them? Junk the
          lot, start anew?

          J

          

          

          

          

          38.

          INARA
          On Sihnon we started training at
          twelve. Years of discipline and
          preparation before the physical
          act of pleasure was even
          mentioned. Most of these girls --

          SHEYDRA
          They're all of good family, the
          highest academic standards --

          INARA
          Control. Was the first lesson.
          And the last and these worlds are
          not like the Central Planets.
          There is barbarism dressed up in
          the most civil weeds. Men of the
          highest rank who don't know the
          difference between a Companion and
          a common whore. It's unsafe.

          SHEYDRA
          All the more reason the girls look
          to you. You came out here alone,
          before the Alliance ever thought
          to establish a House this remote.
          You've seen so much. You're a
          figure of great romance to them.
          4d INARA
          Great romance has nothing to do
          with being a Companion, Sheydra.
          You should know better.

          SHEYDRA
          I'm not the one who had a torrid
          affair with a pirate.
          Inara nearly spills her drink.

          INARA
          A who? With a what?

          SHEYDRA

          (SMILING)
          It's the talk of the House. The
          girls all trade stories in the
          dorms at night.

          INARA
          I didn't... have a pirate...

          J

          

          

          

          

          39.

          SHEYDRA
          In one of the stories you make
          love in a burning temple. I think
          that's my favorite.

          INARA

          (SITTING)
          This is unbearable. Captain
          Reynolds is no pirate; he's a
          petty thief. And he never laid a
          finger on me. All he ever did was
          rent me a shuttle and be very
          annoying.
          (mutters in Chinese)
          

          SHEYDRA
          A year on his shuttle and he never
          laid a finger on you. No wonder
          you left.

          INARA

          (BRIDLING)
          I left because -- go away. We're
          no longer friends. You're a
          stranger to me now.

          SHEYDRA
          104 I do love to watch you boil.
          Don't worry. The stories will
          fade. And your Captain Reynolds
          has probably gotten himself blown
          up by this time.

          INARA
          (looking away again)
          Yes. That would be just like him.

          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 imaginable.

          EXT./INT. SERENITY - EVENING

           The ramp is open and everyone 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 -- only
           the captains.

          (MORE)

          

          

          

          

          40.
           KAYLEE (cont'd)
           You look the captain in the eye,
           know who you're dealing with.

          40 SIMON
          • I wish there was...
          Since he doesn't know what to say, she rattles on:

          KAYLEE
          You shouldn't aughta be so clean.
          It's a dead giveaway you don't
          belong, you always gotta 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.
          She turns and heads off. Simon starts in the other
          direction, but River looks after her and the others.

          SIMON

          (CONTINUING)
          River... do you want to stay with
          them?

          4 RIVER
          It's not safe.

          SIMON
          No, I fear it's not safe anymore.
          He's heading off and doesn't hear:

          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.

          NEWSPERSON (V.O.)
          that it was a band of Reavers
          remains unconfirmed. The only
          survivors of the massacre
          apparently locked themselves in
          the Trade Station vault until --

          40

          

          

          

          

          41.
          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.

          40
          We pick up Mal and Kaylee heading down into the bar. Cutting
          away from the camera's view, we can looks two stories
          straight down as they go, to a close group of dark tables and
          booths and a second screen playing in the corner.

          MAL
          It's not my fault the Doc's got no
          stomach for Rim living --

          KAYLEE
          It is entirely and for all your
          fault! If you'd given Simon a
          moment, just a moment where he
          didn't think you were gonna throw
          them off or turn them in, he
          might've --

          MAL
          What? Swept you into his cleanly
          arms? Made tidy love to you?
          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
          q0 drawer closes and rotates, revealing another empty one. A
          large bouncer with a shockrod watches impassively.

          KAYLEE
          (as they continue

          DOWN)
          Don't you dare joke! You know how
          much I pined on Simon. And him
          fair sweet on me, I well believe,
          but he's so worried about being
          found out --

          ZOE
          Captain didn't make 'em fugitives.

          KAYLEE
          But he coulda made 'em family!
          Steada driving them off. Steada
          keeping Simon from seein' I was
          there, when I carried such a torch
          and we coulda -- goin' on a year
          now I ain't had nothin' twixt my
          nethers weren't run on batteries!

          40

          

          

          

          

          42.

          MAL
          Oh god! I can't know that!

          JAYNE
          40 I could stand to hear a little
          more...

          KAYLEE
          If you had a care for anybody's
          heart you woulda --

          MAL

          (ENOUGH)
          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 coulda 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.
          For a moment, Mal is too shocked to react. Kaylee storms out.

          MINGO
          4 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 out from behind Mingo to reveal that he is
          Mingo's identical twin. Apart from slight differences in
          dress, they are indistinguishable.

          MINGO
          'Cause we don't wanna interrupt.

          FANTY
          A man should keep his house in
          order.

          MAL
          (greets them each)
          Mingo. Fanty.

          14

          

          

          

          

          43.

          MINGO
          (pointing at his

          BROTHER)
          He's Mingo.
          ,do

          MAL
          He's Fanty. You're Mingo.

          MINGO
          Ghahh! How is it you always know?

          MAL
          Fanty's prettier.
          (pulling out a chair)
          Feel to do some business?

          MINGO
          (re: Mal Is gang)
          Bit crowded, isn't it? As you
          see, we come unencumbered by thugs.

          MAL
          Which means at least four of the
          guys already in here are yours.
          All's one. I'll just keep Jayne
          with me.

          ZOE
           Sir, are you sure you don't --

          4

          MAL
          Go. Go get yourselves a nice
          romantic meal.

          WASH
          Those are my two favorite words!
          (to Zoe)
          Honey... "Meal..."

          MAL
          (to Zoe)
          It's business. We're fine.
          They leave and the four remaining men sit. Fanty tosses a
          few coins to a saloon-girl, who does a little fan-dance...
          ANGLE: THE CORVUE CAMERA'S POV of the men is conveniently
          blocked by her little dance.
          Mal's foot nudges a duffel bag of money to Mingo's foot.

          MINGO
          Quite a crew you've got.

          4

          

          

          

          

          44.

          MAL
          Yeah, they're a fine bunch of
          ruebens.

          MINGO
          How you keep them on that crap
          boat is the subject of much musing
          tween me and Fanty.

          FANTY
          We go on and on.

          MAL
          So I'm noticing. Is there a
          problem I don't know of? You got
          25% of a sweet take kissing your
          foot, how come we're not
          dispersing?

          FANTY
          Our end is forty, precious.

          JAYNE
          My muscular buttocks it's forty --

          MINGO
          It is as of now. Find anyone
          around going cheaper.

          J FANTY
          Find anyone around going near a
          sorry lot like you in the first
          instance.
          ANGLE: RIVER has entered, is looking about.
          Jayne sees her, nudges Mal, who looks and turns back to
          business. We stay on her as she wanders around the perimeter
          of the bar, vaguely listening in on Mal's deal.

          FANTY

          (CONTINUING)
          You're unlikable, Mal. You got no
          respect for us above you, you got
          enemies in every quadrant, and
          your ship's older than the
          starting point of time. You's
          charity cases to such as us.

          

          

          

          

          45.

          MAL
          Well here's a foul thought. I
          conjured you two were incompetent;
          sent us out not knowing there were
          V0 Reavers about. Now I'm thinking
          you picked us out because you did.

          MINGO
          That were a sign of faith, boy.
          And it doesn't affect our forty
          per. Danger is, after all, your
          business.

          JAYNE
          Reavers ain't business, double
          dickless.
          This is all background noise to River, who has moved to the
          CV screen, on which is a commercial. It's animated, goofy,
          cartoon animals and anime-style Asian girls all transforming
          to insane fantasy figures as they sing about:

          COMMERCIAL

          FRUITY OATY BARS, POW! HEY! FRUITY

          BARS, MAKE A MAN OF A MOUSE, MAKE

          YOU BUST OUT YOUR BLOUSE, EAT THEM

          NOW, BANG! PING! ZOW! -- TRY

          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.
          And she whispers:

          RIVER
          Miranda.
          She turns and looks back at the crowd.
          What happens next happens very fast.
           She strides silently to the first table -- two men drinking
          quietly -- 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 --

          V0

          

          

          

          

          46.

          MAL
          River...

          JAYNE
          V0 Whuhuh?
          She's taking out a group of four, high kicks and perfect
          precision -- Two men come from 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 --
          Mal fights to get back to the gunrack. The bouncer reaches
          her and she wrests his shockrod from him, uses it on him, on
          Fanty and Mingo -- the fan-dancer is bolting and River hurls
          the rod at her head, knocks her cold...
          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.
          Jayne grabs her from behind --

          JAYNE

          (CONTINUING)
          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,
          V0 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 Smech!
          And River drops to the ground, fast asleep.
          There is 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
          I think maybe we ought to leave.

          10

          

          

          

          

          47.

          EXT. SPACE - NIGHT

           We see two sleek warships glide silently into frame, followed
           by a third, bigger ship. This is the operative's vessel, and
          10 it is everything Serenity is not: sleek, predatory, icy cool.

          INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          The operative is looking at the Maidenhead security feed --
          and River is staring right at him.

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CAPTIVATED)
          Hello again. Yes, it's me. I'm
          glad you've finally asked for me.
          An Ensign is revealed looking at a separate monitor:

          ENSIGN
          We got a pos on a retinal -- man
          carrying her out is Malcolm
          Reynolds, captains a Firefly-class
          transport ship, "Serenity". Bound
          by law five times, smuggling,
          tariff dodge... not convicted.
          Nothing here that would --

          THE OPERATIVE
          The ship. The name of the ship.

          10 (SOFTLY)
          Crossref. Malcolm Reynolds.
          Serenity.
          He looks over at the Ensign with a small, strange smile on
          his lips -- as his glasses are covered by text.

          ENSIGN
          Sir?

          THE OPERATIVE
          Serenity Valley. Bloodiest battle
          of the entire war. The
          Independents held the valley for
          seven weeks, two of them after
          their high command had
          surrendered. 68% casualty rate.

          ENSIGN
          Of course, Sir, I just didn't --

          THE OPERATIVE
          There.

          4

          

          

          

          

          48.
          His glasses stop scrolling and Mal's military file opens, a
          picture of Mal in one lens.

          THE OPERATIVE

          140 (CONTINUING)
          If the feds ever bothered to
          crossref justice files with war
          records... Yes. Our Mr. Reynolds
          was a sergeant, 57th Overlanders.
          Volunteer. Fought at Serenity
          till the very last. This man is
          an issue. This man hates us.

          ENSIGN
          First Mate Zoe Washburn, formerly
          Corporal Zoe Alleyne, also in the
          57th. Career army, looks like.

          THE OPERATIVE
          She's followed him far... Give me
          the crew, registered passengers --
          Our Captain is a passionate man,
          no room there for subtlety. He's
          bound to have some very obvious...
          CLOSE ON: THE LENS of his glasses. On it is a slowly moving
          picture of INARA.

          THE OPERATIVE
          -40 (continuing)
          .weakness...

          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
          She's still napping just now. And
          I believe you've got some
          storytelling to do.

          4

          

          

          

          

          49.

          WASH

          (ENTERING)
          We're out of atmo, plotted for
          Haven. No one following as of yet.

          KAYLEE
          Haven? We're gonna see Shepherd
          Book?

          MAL

          (NODDING)
          We got to lay low. And I could
          fair use some spiritual guidance
          right about now.
          (to Simon)
          I am a lost lamb; what in hell
          happened back there?

          WASH
          Start with the part where Jayne
          gets knocked out by a ninety 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
          Ad kill me 'fore the Doc put her to
          sleep, which how exactly does that
          work anyhow?

          SIMON
          Safeword.

          (BEAT)
          The people who helped me break
          River out -- they had intel that
          River and the other subjects were
          being embedded with behavioral
          conditioning. They taught me a
          safeword, in case... something
          happened.

          KAYLEE
          Not sure I get it.

          SIMON
          A phrase that's encoded in her
          brain, that makes her fall asleep.
          If I speak the words, "Eta --

          4

          

          

          

          

          50.

          JAYNE
          (jumping back)
          Well don't say it!
          moo ZOE
          It only works on her, Jayne.

          JAYNE
          Oh. Well, now I know that.

          MAL
          "In case something happened."

          SIMON
          What?

          MAL
          You feel to elaborate on what that
          something might be? I mean they
          taught you that fancy safeword,
          they must've figured she was
          gonna, what -- start
          uncontrollably crocheting?

          SIMON
          They never said what --

          MAL
          And you never did ask.
          Mal grabs him and throws him against the wall, in his face.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Eight months. Eight months you
          had her on my boat knowing full
          well she might go monkeyshit at
          the wrong word and you never said
          a thing --

          SIMON
          I brought her out here so they
          couldn't get to her, I don't even
          know how they --

          MAL
          My ship. My crewi You had a
          gorramn timebomb living with us!

          INT. STORAGE LOCKER - CONTINUING

          River's eyes open.

          V0

          

          

          

          

          51.

          INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING


          MAL
          What if she went off in the middle
          woo of dinner, or in bunk with Kaylee,
          did that give you a moment's pause?
          Simon looks at Kaylee, the truth of Mal's words hitting him.

          SIMON
          I thought she was getting better.

          JAYNE
          And I thought they was gettin' off!
          (off looks)
          Didn't we have a 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 bringin' 'em tea
          and dumplings!
          (to Mal)
          In earnest, Mal: why'd you bring
          her back on?

          4
          Mal looks at Jayne, at all of them. Doesn't have an answer.

          SIMON
          May I see her.
          Mal steps aside. Simon enters the locker.

          JAYNE
          She goes woolly again, we're gonna
          have to put a bullet to her.

          INT. STORAGE LOCKER - CONTINUING

          River mouths the next words right along with Mal:

          INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING


          MAL
          It's crossed my mind.

          WASH
          Can I make a suggestion that
          doesn't involve violence, or is
          this the wrong crowd?

          J

          

          

          

          

          52.

          ZOE
          Honey...

          WASH
          V0 Fanty and Mingo might be coming
          hard down on us, or the laws... or
          maybe nobody could be bunged about
          a little social brawl. We need to
          get our bearings. I think we need
          to talk to Mr. Universe.

          EXT. SPACE - 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'S 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.

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING


          A0
          As he watches the security feed of River's fight his image
          becomes a vidscreen. He's addressing Wash, Mal and Zoe.
          We intercut between the two spaces:

          MR UNIVERSE
          Oh, this is good. This is...

          (GIGGLES)
          .she's beating up all the burly
          men and I'm having a catharsis,
          it's happening right now, you guys
          always bring me the very best
          violence. You think you're in a
          hot place?

          WASH
          That's what we're looking to
          learn. Is there any follow up, a
          newswave...

          4

          

          

          

          

          53.

          MR UNIVERSE
          There is no "news", there's the
          truth of the signal, what I see,
          and there's the puppet theatre the
          V0 Parliament's jesters foist on the
           somnambulant public. Monkey taught
           to say the word "monkey" -- lead
           story on 32 planets. But the slum
           riots on Hera, not a --

          MAL
          What about this? Did this make
          the... puppet theatre?

          MR UNIVERSE
          No sir. And no lawforce flags,
          either -- I hadda 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 -- oh! Look at her go!
          A0 Everyone is getting bruises and
          contusions. Contoooosions.

          ZOE
          (to Mal, over that)
          So somebody else has been fed
          this. That doesn't like me too
          well.

          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, it was
          a very beautiful ceremony, Lenore
          wrote her own vows, I cried like
          a baby, a hungry, angry baby.
          (re: screen)
          And she falls asleep. Which, she
          would be sleepy.

          J

          

          

          

          

          54.

          MAL
          Can you go back? See if anybody
          spoke with her 'fore she acted up,
          -40 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.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Miranda...? Go back further.

          MR UNIVERSE
          No..
          He pulls another screen close, starts working that one.
          Matching timecodes, he pulls up the commercial.

          MAL
          Um... please?
          Mr Universe has a third screen showing the commercial as

          (NON-MATRIXY)
          well -- and it starts breaking down, bursts of
          code showing through. As he does so:

          MR UNIVERSE
          Friends and potential lovers, I

          4DO
          have good news and I have the
          other kind. Good is you're very
          smart. Someone is talking to her.

          WASH
          The oaty bar?

          MAL
          Subliminal. It's a subliminal
          message broadwaved to trigger her.

          MR UNIVERSE

          (NODDING)
          I been seeing this code pop up all
          over, last few weeks. And I
          cannot crack it. It's Alliance
          and it's high military, so here
          then is the bad. Someone has gone
          to enormous trouble to find your
          little friend. And found her
          they have.
          Mal, Zoe and Wash look at each other.

          40

          

          

          

          

          55.

          MR UNIVERSE

          (CONTINUING)
          Do you all know what it is you're
          carrying?

          W

          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. What I will show
          them... Oh God...
          She starts tearing up, breathing faster... Simon runs his
          hands through her hair.

          SIMON
          It's okay, it's okay...

          RIVER
          (somewhere else)
          Show me off like a dog, old men
          covered in blood, it never touched
          them but they're drowning in it...
          so much loss... I don't know what
          I'm saying. I never know what I'm
          saying...

          SIMON
          You said something. When you were
          triggered, do you remember? The
          Captain saw you say something on
          the feed...

          RIVER
          Miranda.

          SIMON
          Miranda.

          RIVER
          (laughs bitterly)
          Ask her. She'll show you all.

          40

          

          

          

          

          56.

          SIMON
          Show us what? Who is Miranda?

          (BEAT)
          Am I... talking to Miranda now?
          Nw�
          She shoots him a look.

          RIVER
          I'm not a multiple, dumbo.

          SIMON
          No. Right. But I think somehow
          when they triggered you it brought
          this up, this memory --

          RIVER
          It isn't mine. The memory. I
          didn't bring it and I shouldn't
          have to carry it, it isn't mine.

          (URGENTLY:)
          Don't make me sleep again.

          SIMON
          I won't.

          RIVER
          Put a bullet to me. Bullet in the
          brain pan, squish.

          SIMON
          Don't say that. Not ever. We'll
          get through this.
          She reaches out and touches his face, affectionately.

          RIVER
          Things are going to get much much
          worse.

          SIMON
          Well, the Captain hasn't tossed us
          in the airlock, so I'd say we're --

          RIVER
          He has to see. More than
          anyone... he has to see what he
          doesn't want to.

          SIMON
          River. What will Miranda show us.
          She thinks.

          VD

          

          

          

          

          57.

          RIVER
          Death.

          SIMON
          Whose death?
          And she starts laughing. Quietly at first, then louder, then
          almost uncontrollably, screaming in his face:

          RIVER

          EVERYBODY'S!!!

          SMASH CUT TO:
          Black Silence.

          INT. CAVE - 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.

          BOOK (O.S.)
          Lord, I am walking your way.
          ANGLE: THE RAMP lowers to reveal Shepherd BOOK, a working-
          class preacher and former crew member. He smiles as they
          come out to meet him:

          NOO BOOK (O.S.)

          (CONTINUING)
          Let me in, for my feet are sore,
          my clothes are ragged.

          EXT. MINING CAMP - DAY

          We see the camp: a few shacks and a working mine, as our
          group come down to it, greeted by a few miners, including an
          eight year old boy that rushes to Kaylee...
          ANGLE ON: A CANNON mounted at the edge of town. The guy
          manning it sees them arrive, also goes to greet them.

          INT. COMMUNITY KITCHEN - NIGHT

          We see the gang sitting and eating. Comfortable, even
          laughing a bit. Jayne presents Book with a couple of cigars.
          Kaylee hoists the boy on her lap.

          BOOK (O.S. )
          Look in my eyes, Lord, and my sins
          will play out on them as on a
          screen. Read them all.

          4

          

          

          

          

          58.

          EXT. MINING CAMP - NIGHT

          Mal approaches Book on the edge of a rise overlooking the
          town. Mal has a bowl and chopsticks. Book is finishing:

          V0

          BOOK
          Forgive what you can, and send me
          on my path. I will walk on, until
          you bid me rest.

          MAL
          Hope that ain't for me, Shepherd.

          BOOK
          (lighting a cigar)
          It's prayer for the dead.

          MAL
          Then I really hope it ain't for me.

          BOOK
          It's for the men River might have
          killed in that bar.

          MAL
          Weren't River that did it, you
          know that. Somebody decided her
          brain was just another piece of
          property to take, fenced it right
          Vd up.

          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...

          MAL
          .but they'll be coming.
          Alliance is after this girl with
          a powerful will. I look to hear
          the tromp of their boots any
          moment.

          V0

          

          

          

          

          59.

          BOOK
          You won't.
          (off Mal's look)
          This isn't a palms-up military
          MW 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 coulda left her there.

          INT. STORAGE LOCKER - NIGHT

           As he continues, we see an image of him watching over the
           sleeping girl, his mind, racing.

           MAL (O.S.)
           I had an out -- hell, I had every
          reason in the 'verse to leave her
          lay and haul anchor.

          EXT. MINING CAMP - CONTINUING


          BOOK
          Not your way, Mal.

          V0 MAL
          I have a way?

          (THINKS)
          Is that better than a plan?

          BOOK
          You can play the thug all you
          want, but there's more to you than
          you're ever like to 'fess.

          MAL
          You just think that 'cause my eyes
          is all sorrowful and pretty.

          BOOK
          Only one thing is gonna walk you
          through this, Mal. Belief.

          MAL
          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.

          1490

          

          

          

          

          60.

          BOOK
          When I talk about belief, why do
          you always assume I'm talking
          about God?
          W (Mal has no response)
          They'll come at you sideways.
          As he continues, we see:

          EXT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - DAY

          Inara stands waiting, her back to us, in front of the very
          vista we first saw her before.
          The operative comes slowly up the staircase, stands before
          her.

          BOOK W. (V.0.)
          It's how they think: sideways.
          It's how they move. Sidle up and
          smile, hit you where you're weak.

          EXT. MINING CAMP - CONTINUING


          BOOK
          Sorta 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 some
          time.

          BOOK
          (looking out)
          No I don't.
          He walks away, offering this:

          BOOK

          (CONTINUING)
          Sideways.
          Mal watches him go, thinking.

           40

          

          

          

          

          61.

          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?
          Eight-year-old River is working away, not paying attention.

          TEACHER

          (CONTINUING)
          River, you look tired. I think
          everybody's a little tired by now;
          why don't we all lie down.
          River looks up, scared. All the other children wordlessly
          get up from their seats and lie on the floor next to them.

          TEACHER

          (CONTINUING)
          A little peace and quiet will make
          everything better.
          She starts to lie down herself, right on the grass.

          RIVER
          No...
          Vao TEACHER
          River. Do as you're told. It's
          going to be fine. Lie down.

          RIVER

          NO!

          INT. STORAGE LOCKER - NIGHT

          River starts awake.

          INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUING

          Mal does too, shirtless on his bunk.

          MAL
          Whuh huh nuhwhat?

          WASH (0.S.)
          (for the third time)
          Mal! You up? Got a wave. I'm a
          bounce it down to you.
          He pops up, turns to the screen as the white noise becomes:

          1400

          

          

          

          

          62.

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

          INARA

          ?
          Mal. I uh, is this a bad time

          MAL
          Good as any.

          INARA
          Please tell me you're wearing
          pants.

          MAL
          (slight grin)
          Naked as the day I come cryin'.
          How's your world?

          INARA
          Cold. It's autumn here.

          MAL
          Still at the Training House?

          INARA
          Right where you left me.

          MAL
          I remember it as nice enough.
          picturesque.

          INARA
          It is that. What about you?

          MAL

          ONS
          Still flying. So what occasi
          the wave? Not that to see you
          ain't... well you look very

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          watching both Mal and Inara on two
          Zoe and Wash are secretly at their formal shyness.
          different screens, smiling
          Jayne enters, wondering what's up...

          

          

          

          

          63.

          INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUING


          INARA
          Oh. Thank you, I... I guess we
          have something of a problem here.
          With the locals, I thought maybe...

          MAL
          You could use a gun hand?

          INARA
          I'm hoping not. But if you were
          close at all, you -- the crew --
          could take your ease here a
          while... and there'd be payment...

          MAL
          Payment is never not a factor. I
          could sound out the crew... This
          pot like to boil over soon?

          INARA
          Soon. Not right away.

          MAL
          Well, it would be, I mean I would
          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...

          KAYLEE
          Oh they're so pathetic!

          INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUING


          INARA
          I miss her too. I even miss my
          shuttle, occasionally.

          MAL
          Yeah, you left a... got some of
          your stuff in a trunk, never did
          get a chance to drop it off.

          INARA
          Oh.

          MAL
          I didn't look through the...
          stuff... just sundries I expect.

          

          

          

          

          64
          Inara smiles blandly, nods. An awkward beat.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Well, it's kind of late where I'm
          at. I'll send a wave as soon as
          I can.

          INARA
          Thank you.
          She disappears. Mal thinks a moment.

          INT. BRIDGE - MOMENTS LATER

          Mal comes up in, buttoning his shirt.

          WASH
          Inara. Nice to see her again.

          ZOE
          So, trap?

          MAL
          Trap.

          ZOE
          We goin' in?
          moo MAL
          It ain't 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
          How can you be sure Inara don't
          just wanna see you? Sometimes
          people have feelings -- I'm
          referring here to people...

          MAL
          Y'all were watching, I take it.
          Guilty glances.

          4

          

          

          

          

          65

           KAYLEE
           Yes.

           MAL
          140 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 seventy 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 in closer.
          Zoe, ship is yours.
          4dO He starts out, turns back to Zoe.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Remember: if anything happens to
          me, or you don't hear from me
          within the hour... you take this
          ship and you come and rescue me.

          ZOE
          What? And risk my ship?

          MAL

          (EXITING)
          I mean it. It's cold out there.
          I don't wanna get left.

          EXT. SERENITY - DAY

           She is nestled in a gorge, overhanging rocks all but burying
          her from view. The shuttle on the right lifts off from the
          side of the ship and glides off, keeping low.

          4

          

          

          

          

          66.

          EXT. 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 send me a
          pony, and a plastic rocket, and --

          I NAR.A
          Mal! What are you doing here?

          MAL
          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 the conclusion
          that you must be in some trouble.

          INARA
          I'm fine! I'm. giddy.

          MAL
          For a woman schooled in telling
          men what they wanna hear, you
          ain't much of a liar.

          INARA
          Mal, you cannot handle this man.

          -40

          

          

          

          

          67.

          THE OPERATIVE

          (ENTERING)
          I have to say, I'm impressed that
          you would come for her yourself.
          lw� And that you would make it this
          far in that outfit.

          MAL

          (STANDING)
          I can be very graceful when I need
          to.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I've no doubt.
          Mal sheds his shawl and robe. Inara kneels at the alter,
          picks out another incense stick.

          MAL
          What are you doing?

          INARA
          I'm praying for you, Mal.

          THE OPERATIVE
          That's very thoughtful. But I
          mean it when I say you're not in
          any danger.

          MAL
          Speak your piece.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I think you're beginning to
          understand how dangerous River Tam
          is.

          MAL
          She is a mite unpredictable. Mood
          swings, of a sort.

          THE OPERATIVE
          It's worse than you know.

          MAL
          It usually is.

          THE OPERATIVE
          That girl will rain destruction
          down on you and your ship. She's
          an albatross, Captain.

          4

          

          

          

          

          68.

          MAL
          Way I remember it, albatross was
          a ship's good luck... til some
          idiot killed it.
          (to Inara)
          Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to
          faint.
          The Operative moves further into the room. Whenever he
          moves, Mal counters.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I've seen your war record. I know
          how you must feel about the
          Alliance.

          MAL
          You really don't.

          THE 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
          wanna go my way.

          THE OPERATIVE
          And you can do that, once you let
          me take the girl back home. Give
          me the opportunity to help you.

          MAL
          All I gotta do is let you take one
          more thing away from me. I've had
          a lot of things taken in my time.
          And it may just be that this is
          one too many.

          THE OPERATIVE
          This psychotic, potentially
          murderous girl who can't have the
          slightest awareness of your
          protection. This is where you
          "draw the line".

          MAL
          Well I'm a whimsical soul.

          THE OPERATIVE
          There's a number of lives that
          hang in the balance here. Lives
          under your care. Are they as
          whimsical as yourself?

          

          

          

          

          69.

          MAL
          I got no notion that I'm being
          heroical at all. Any more than I
          think you're really just a
          harmless bureaucrat come to help
          me out. You move like a killer.
          The Operative is stopped by this. Unhappily, he continues:

          THE 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, best make peace with
          your dear and fluffy lord.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Pulse beacon.

          MAL
          Advice from an old tracker: you
          J wanna find someone, use your eyes.

          THE OPERATIVE
          How long do you think you can
          really run from us?

          MAL
          Oh, a jack-rabbit, me. 'Sides, I
          never credited the Alliance with
          an over-abundance of brains. And
          if you're the best they got...

          THE OPERATIVE
          Captain Reynolds, I should tell
          you so that you don't waste your
          time: You can't make me angry.

          INARA
          Oh please. Spend an hour with him.
          Mal smiles -- then glares at Inara, mouthing "Hey!"

          

          

          

          

          70.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I need her, Captain. River is...
          my purpose and I will gather her
          to me. The brother as well.
          Whatever else happens is
          incidental. In the greater scheme.

          MAL
          Why is it that the greater scheme
          always makes everything not that
          great?

          THE OPERATIVE
          I want to resolve this like
          civilized men. I'm not
          threatening you. I'm unarmed.

          MAL
          Great!
          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.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I am of course wearing full body
          armor. I'm 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
          No back up? We're making an awful
          ruckus...

          THE OPERATIVE
          They'll come when they're needed.

          MAL
          I'd start whistling.

          THE 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.

          40

          

          

          

          

          71.
          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
          V0 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.

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          Nothing here is what it seems.

          INARA
          I know.

          THE OPERATIVE
          He's not the plucky hero. The
          Alliance isn't some evil empire.
          This isn't 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.

          40
          It's a flash-bomb: The Operative sails back as everything
          goes smoky white and the sound dies to a tiny buzz.
          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.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Just a flash bomb. Go! Go!

          INT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - CONTINUING

          Inara leads Mal (who is reholstering his gun) down some steps
          and along a corridor. The sound is still tinny and weird.

          MAL
          .I had him...

          INARA
          What?

          MAL
          (deafly loud)
          I think that I was winning!

          4

          

          

          

          

          72.

          EXT. SIDE OF MOUNTAIN, BY MAL'S SHUTTLE - DAY

          Mal and Inara move quickly down the mountain. They look to
          see that Mal's shuttle has four Alliance guards waiting by
          V0 it. Mal ducks back out of sight, pulls a fancy-looking
          grenade out of his pocket. Pops the top and hurls it over at
          the foursome.
          CLOSE ON: THE GRENADE, as a series of bars of light go out
          one by one, counting down --

          ALLIANCE SOLDIER
          Grenade!
          Everybody dives for cover. The moment they do, Mal and Inara
          race into the shuttle, Mal sweeping up the grenade just as
          the last light goes out and nothing happens.
          One soldier turns to look and Mal shoots him back down as the
          door shuts on him and Inara.

          INT. SHUTTLE - CONTINUING

          Inara pushes into the pilot's seat.

          INARA
          Hang on to something.

          MAL
          4 You sure you remember how it --
          He nearly falls over as:

          EXT. MOUNTAIN RANGE - CONTINUING

          The shuttle shoots straight up, spinning and heading out.

          INT. SHUTTLE - CONTINUING

          Inara stares straight ahead, relaxing her grip on the
          controls. Mal is gone.

          INARA
          I told you to hang on.

          MAL (O.S. )
          (in great pain)
          I'm fine...

          EXT. SPACE - LATER

          We are below Serenity as her bay doors are closing, six
          little objects floating out of her belly like roe.

          4

          

          

          

          

          73.
          These objects are roughly the size of pony-kegs, and clearly
          home-made, parts welded together almost haphazardly. They
          all spark silently to life -- and shoot off in six different
          directions, as Serenity herself fires up her Firefly effect
          and burns away from us.

          INT. COMPANION TRAINING HOUSE - DAY

          The Operative sips tea and rubs his temple.

          THE OPERATIVE
          (into a com)
          Forget the pulse beacon, there has
          to 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 --

           ENSIGN (O.S.)
          Sir?

          THE OPERATIVE
          Have you found a nav sat
          trajectory?

          ENSIGN (O.S.)
          Sir... we've found seven.
          The Operative looks more unhappy than angry.

          THE OPERATIVE
          (to himself)
          Does he think this is a game?

          EXT. CLASSROOM - DAY

          The teacher and students sleep as River -- as we saw her in
          the institute, older, with blood seeping from the needle-
          holes in her head -- makes her way through them.
          Slowly she walks to the floating lecture screen. 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...
          She looks over to one side of the tent, and we see:

          INT. LAB - CONTINUING

          Her POV is of the lab. There stand some five older men in
          formal dress. They stare at her, impassive.
          We see flashes of corpses, lying in houses, in city
          streets -- and a Reaver's screaming face --

          .00

          

          

          

          

          74.

          INT. STORAGE LOCKER - DAY

          And River awakens. A moment to get her bearings, then her
          eyes narrow with intent.

          INARA (V.0.)
          We have 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 --

          INARA
          Because he's a believer.

          INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP, A DARK CABIN

          As Inara continues, we see: Fanty and Mingo, tied to chairs.
          Light spills onto their bruised faces as the Operative enters.

          INARA (V.0.)
          He's intelligent, methodical and
          devout in his belief that killing
          River is the right thing to do.

          INT. PASSENGER DORM - CONTINUING


          INARA
          I honestly think the only reason
          we haven't been blown out of the
          air is that he needs to see her.

          SIMON
          Needs to see her why?

          INARA
          I'm uncertain. I would say to be
          sure of the kill, but... I just
          know he'll kill us all to get to
          her.

          JAYNE
          So no hope of a reward, huh?

          ZOE
          Did he mention a deal of any kind?

          IWO

          

          

          

          

          75.

          MAL
          (looking at Simon)
          Give the two of them up. Go my
          way.

          JAYNE
          Which you was all ready to do not
          a day ago. What went sour?

          MAL
          Cutting them loose ain't the same
          as handing them over.

          JAYNE
          That so? 'Cause the corpse I'm
          about to become is having trouble
          telling the difference.

          SIMON
          (to Inara)
          Did he say anything about a
          "Miranda"?

          INARA
          What is that?

          MAL
          Don't know who or what, but it's
          on River's mind. Conjure it might
          be the reason he's 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 dumbass hogs, the only people
          she's a threat to is us on this
          boat!

          INT. STORAGE LOCKER - CONTINUING

          River is near the ceiling, keeping herself up in a split
          again, feet against the walls. There is a wire mesh cover to
          the light, and she has bent part of it out, is working it
          inside the lock of her shackles.

          

          

          

          

          76.

          INT. PASSENGER DORM - MOMENTS LATER


          MAL
          Look, we get back to Haven in a
          'r/ few hours time --

          JAYNE
          Hiding under the Shepherd's
          skirts, that's a manful scheme --

          MAL
          You wanna run this ship?

          JAYNE
          Yes!

          MAL
          (small beat)
          Well you can't!

          JAYNE
          Do a damn sight better job'n you.
          Getting us lashed over a couple of
          strays...
          (to Simon)
          No offense, Doc, I think it's
          noble as a grape the way you look
          to River, but she ain't my sister
          (to Mal)
          and she ain't your crew. Oh, and
          neither is she exactly helpless!
          So where's it writ we gotta lay
          down our lives for her, which is
          what you've steered us toward.

          MAL
          I didn't start this.

          JAYNE
          No, the Alliance starts the war --
          and then you volunteer. Battle of
          Serenity, Mal: besides Zoe here,
          how many --
          (Mal turns away)
          -- I'm talkin' at you -- how many
          men in your platoon came out of
          there alive?
          Mal stares at him.

          ZOE
          (dead cold)
          You wanna leave this room.

          

          

          

          

          77

          JAYNE
          You're damn right I do.
          He stalks upstairs. There's a quiet moment.

          INARA
          This isn't the war, Mal.
          Mal turns, eyeing her.

          MAL
          Are you telling me that because
          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
          I start fighting a war I guarantee
          you'll see something new.

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

          SIMON
          We'll get off. River and I'll get
          off at Haven and find some --

          KAYLEE
          Nobody's saying that.

          WASH
          Nobody besides Jayne is saying
          that.

          INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

          Inara tries to catch up to --

          INARA
          Mal.

          10

          

          

          

          

          78.

          MAL

          (TURNING)
          I got no answers for you, Inara.
          I got no rudder. Wind blows
          40 northerly, I go north. That's who
          I am. 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.

          0

          INARA
          I'm not trying to tear you down --

          D

          MAL
          But you fog things up. You always
          have -- you spin me about. I wish
          like hell you was elsewhere.

          INARA
          I was.

          INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING

          Jayne is looking at the storage locker door. A beat.

          JAYNE
          
          He moves to the aft hall, shuts and locks the door. Goes
          40 back to the locker and starts to unlock it, pulling his gun.

          JAYNE

          (CONTINUING)
          No trouble now, little crazy
          person... we're going for a nice

          I
          shuttle ride --
          He opens the door and she is on him in an instant, whip blow
          to the throat, the nose -- he fires wildly as she jumps on
          him, wraps her arms around his neck and topples him back --

          INT. AFT HALL - MOMENTS LATER

          The crew enters, drawn by the shots. Mal is first -- can't
          open the door. Looks in to see an unconscious Jayne...

          MAL
          The other way! Find her and-do
          not engage!
          Everyone piles out the other way. Simon remains, to look in
          the window.

          10

          

          

          

          

          79.
          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.

          NO

          SIMON
          It's gonna be oka --
          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, then takes off.

          INT. CARGO BAY - MOMENTS LATER

          Mal is throwing his shoulder against the bolted door to the
          upstairs. He gives up, looking around.

          ZOE
          She's sealed off the bridge. I do
          not like her there.

          KAYLEE
          Cap'n!
          She tosses him a bolt remover. He starts pulling a bolt out
          of a panel on the wall, tells Zoe:

          MAL
          Check the shuttles. She coulda
          40 snuck in.
          He pops the panel off and starts wriggling in among the wires.

          INT. FOREDECK HALL/BRIDGE - LATER

          A floor panel hinges open, Mal pulling 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 lowers 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
          a - person-,-- -
          actual and whole, and if I'm wrong
          you'd best shoot me now.
          (she cocks the gun)
          Or we could talk more...

          40

          

          

          

          

          80.

          RIVER
          (pointing to screen)
          Miranda.
          WIt'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
          blackrock. Uninhabitable.
          Terraforming didn't hold, or
          somesuch. Few settlers died.

          RIVER
          (to Simon)
          I had to show them. I didn't know
          if you were going to make me sleep.

          SIMON
          (hoarse whisper)
          You could've asked...

          10

          KAYLEE
          (re: planet)
          Wait a tick, yeah! Some ten years
          back, before the war. There was
          call for workers to settle on
          Miranda, my daddy talked about
          going. I should've recalled...

          WASH
          But there's 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
          this rock the Alliance doesn't
          want known.

          INARA
          That's right at the edge of the
          Burnham Quadrant, right?

          (MORE)

          10

          

          

          

          

          81.
           INARA (cont'd)
           Furthest planet out.
           (Mal nods)
           It's not that far from here...

          W

          WASH
          Whoah, no, no --

          ZOE
           (moving to the screen)
          That's a bad notion --

          WASH
          Honey...

          ZOE
          I got it, baby.

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

          ZOE
          This is us, see? And here's
          Miranda. All along here, this
          dead space in between, that's
          Reaver territory.

          WASH
          They just float out there, sending
          out raiding parties --

          ZOE
          Maybe a hundred ships. And more
          every year. You go through that
          you're signing up to be a banquet.

          WASH
           I'm on board with the run and hide
          scenario -- and we are just
          about...
          He looks at his monitors, looks ahead...

          WASH

          (CONTINUING)

          WAIT

          EXT. MINING CAMP - DAY

          The ship swings around a mountain to come into view of the
          camp.
          I s

          

          

          

          

          82.
          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.

          EXT. MINING CAMP - MOMENTS LATER

          The crew pours out even as the ramp lowers, going off in all
          directions, calling out to people...
          Kaylee heads for the burning church.

          KAYLEE
          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.

          4 MAL
          (to Jayne)
          Get the Doc.
          He moves to the Shepherd, grabs his searching hand.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Shepherd... Don't move.

          BOOK
          Won't go far...

          MAL
          Shouldn't've been you. I'm so
          sorry, it was... they should've
          hit us. They should've hit me.

          BOOK
          That crossed my mind.

          (ROUGHS)
          I shot him down --

          MAL
          I seen.

          

          

          

          

          83.

          BOOK
          I killed the ship... that killed
          us. Not... very Christian of me.

          MAL
          You did what's right.

          BOOK
          (not unkindly)
          Coming from you, that means...
          almost nothing... HNAAH! Ah, I'm
          long gone...

          MAL
          Doc'll bring you round. I look to
          be bored by many more sermons
          'fore you slip -- don't move --

          BOOK
          Can't... order me around, boy.
          I'm not one of your crew.

          MAL
          Yes you are.
          Book coughs up blood, grabbing Mal. Urgent, almost angry.

          BOOK
          You... it's on you now... all this
          death, this shit... you have to
          find a course. This can't mean
          nothing. River... you have to...

          MAL
          Come on, keep it up --
          Book grabs Mal's face, talks as though replying to something:

          BOOK
          I don't care what you believe!
          Just... believe it. Whatever you
          have to...
          His breathing becomes laboured. Hitched.
          Stopped. His hand slips away, his blood leaving a distinct
          print on Mal's face.
          Jayne and Simon run up,Simon slowing down -- going to the
          e he's-dead.----Zne -„a r.7-1, ;,,,r
          them as Jayne looks around him, Mal still fixed on Book.

          AD

          

          

          

          

          84.

          JAYNE
          How come they ain't waiting? They
          know'd we was coming, how come
          they only sent one?

          MO
          Zoe realizes the answer, turns to Wash.

          ZOE
          Get on the Cortex. Wave the
          Sanchez brothers, Li Shen --
          anyone whose 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.

          THE OPERATIVE
          V0 I'm sorry. But I cannot let you
          hide and I cannot let you run.
          Things become... extreme. And we
          wish for another way.

          MAL
          Don't talk at me like a righteous
          man. You are a killer of children.

          THE OPERATIVE
          When God wanted Pharaoh to release
          His people from bondage -- you
          know the story? He didn't ask.
          He sent his plagues down upon
          Egypt. That's me, Captain. The
          path to peace is paved with
          corpses. It's always been so.

          MAL
          So me and mine got to lie down and

          R--BETTER-
          world?

          

          

          

          

          85.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I'm not going to live there. How
          could you think -- there's no
          place for me there, any more than
          40 there is for you. Malcolm, I'm a
          monster. What I do is evil, I've
          no illusions about it. But it
          must be done.

          MAL
          Why? Do you know why?

          THE OPERATIVE
          It's not my place to ask.

          MAL
          You will never see River Tam. I'm
          telling you this.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Maybe not. But you'll keep her
          close now, and when I blow
          Serenity out of the air, this will
          be ended. You're so terribly out
          of your depth, Captain. Your old
          boat can't take the pressure.

          MAL
          She ain't buckled yet. And the
          40 only reason you're talking such a
          lot is you can't get a fix on us.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Yes, your scrambler's code is too
          old for our seekers. You love
          that, yes? The small triumph over
          modernity. You really are the
          noble savage.

          MAL
          Nobody -- ever -- calls me noble.

          THE OPERATIVE
          But that's what's going to kill
          you, Malcolm. Nobility. It
          confuses your text, which is
          self-interest. And sin.

          MAL
          Only- many-I-know-who still --bel i-eved-
          in sin just died by your hand.

          THE OPERATIVE
          What do you believe in?

          40

          

          

          

          

          86.

          MAL
          Not a solitary thing.

          THE OPERATIVE
          If that were true, you'd be
          nothing more than a Reaver.
          Something changes in Mal's expression.

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          But then, maybe you're not that
          far from --
          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 gravedigging?

          MAL
          Zoe, you and Simon are gonna rope
          V0 'em together. Five or six of 'em.
          I want them laid out on the nose
          of our ship.

          SIMON
          Are you insane?

          KAYLEE
          What do you mean, the bodies...

          MAL
          Kaylee, I need you to muck 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.

          (MORE)

          14

          

          

          

          

          87.
          MAL (cont'd)
          (turns from her)
          Jayne, you and Wash hoist up that
          cannon mount. Goes right on top.

          MOO
          Piece or two of the other ship,
          stick it on. Any place you can
          tear hull without inner breach, do
          that too.
          (looking around)
          And we're gonna need paint. We're
          gonna need red paint.

          INARA
          (getting it)
          

          ZOE
          Sir. Do you really mean to turn
          our home into an abomination so 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 won't
          follow.

          JAYNE
          V0 God's balls, there's no way we're
          going out there!
          And everybody (save River) is talking at once:

          SIMON
          What's the point of living if you
          sink to the level of a savage --

          WASH
          

          INARA
          Please, we should talk this over --

          JAYNE
          I ain't takin' orders from a man
          has lost his brainstem --
          , -Mal pule-s-his-
          in his face, steps back, hand on his.

          V0

          

          

          

          

          88.

          MAL
          This is how it works. Anybody
          doesn't wanna fly with me anymore,
          this is your port of harbour.
          There's a lot of fine ways to die.
          I'm not 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.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          I mean to confound those killers,
          and take my shot at getting to
          Miranda, maybe finding out what
          all I'm dying for. That's my
          theme now. So I hear a word out
          of any of you that ain't helping
          me out or taking your leave I will
          fucking shoot you.
          He grabs a body -- drops it at Zoe's feet as he heads toward
          the ship.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          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. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

          Mal comes down the stairs to the catwalk. He hesitates, then
          steps into the shuttle.
          �Mo

          

          

          

          

          89.

          INT. SHUTTLE - CONTINUING

          It's dark in here. Mal stands with his back to the door, no
          light on his face, shaking. Not crying, but overcome.

          LOW

          INARA
          Mal.
          He looks up: she's in the corner looking through that trunk
          of hers, hands on a long oilcloth wrapped around something.

          MAL
          Didn't see you.

          I NARA
          I figured that.

          MAL
          Anything of use in there?

          INARA
          Maybe.
          She puts it down and crosses to the bed. He sits by her.

          MAL
          You don't have to stay in the
          shuttle, you know. There's empty
          rooms, if you wanna sleep awhile.

          INARA
          You think anyone's set to sleep?
          Simon's portioning out overdoses
          of morphine, just in case.

          MAL
          Cheerful fellow.
          (looking around)
          Did you really miss this place?

          INARA
          (rueful smile)
          Sometimes... Not so much right now.
          A beat. He doesn't look at her when he asks:

          MAL
          Why did you leave?
          Site does lo9}E-at-- t -m-

          INARA
          Why didn't you ask me not to?

          

          

          

          

          90.
          Dissatisfied, Mal rises.

          MAL
          I, uh, I'd better go check on the
          VW crew. See how the inevitable
          mutiny is coming along.
          They both want to say more. They don't. He goes.

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

          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 stares blankly at the Ensign.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Define "disappeared".
          The Ensign just looks uncomfortable.

          4

          

          

          

          

          91.

          INT. SERENITY: BRIDGE - LATER

          Kaylee, Simon and River have left the bridge. The clouds fog
          the windows, so nothing below is visible.

          ZOE
          Every reading I'm getting says
          normal. Oceans, land masses... no
          tectonic instability or radiation.

          WASH
          Yeah, but no power, either.

          MAL
          Nothing at all?

          WASH
          Wait. Something. Might be a
          beacon, but it's awful weak.

          MAL
          Find it.

          EXT. SERENITY - DAY

          As she touches down, filling the frame. After a moment Mal,
          Zoe and Jayne emerge from the airlock in full suits, armed.
          Zoe reads a handheld scanner...

          V0 MAL
          Gravity's Earthnorm.

          ZOE
          02 levels check, pressure... if
          there's anything wrong the scanner
          isn't reading it.
          Mal pulls off his helmet. Breathes, looking around him.

          MAL
          Well something sure as hell ain't
          right...
          WIDER ANGLE: They're in a CITY. Gleaming metal, spread out
          for miles in every direction. Portions decimated by fires
          long since cold, others overgrown with weeds, but mostly
          intact. But silent, as if trapped in amber.

          JAYNE
          --ai-n-lt the settlement-

          10

          

          

          

          

          92.

          ZOE
          We flew over at least a dozen
          cities just as big. Why didn't we
          hear about this?

          A0

          MAL
          Beacon's up ahead.

          EXT. CITY - DAY

          Out of their suits now, Mal, Zoe and Jayne take point as the
          entire crew walks along the street, looking about them.

          ZOE
          Ho.
          She moves rapidly, gun out, to:

          ANGLE: A SKELETON
          Face-down on the ground, clothes tattered. She examines it
          as Mal approaches, waving the others back.

          ZOE

          (CONTINUING)
          No entry wound, fractures...

          MAL
          Poison?

          A0

          JAYNE (O . S . )
          Got another one!
          ANGLE: JAYNE is by a downed hovercraft. Inside are three
          skeletons: two grown-ups and a small child. Clothes in
          better condition, and again no sign of violence.

          JAYNE
          They's all just sittin'. Didn't
          crash...
          ANGLE: RIVER is quietly becoming more and more upset.
          CLOSE ON: KAYLEE walks in front of an office building,
          staying away from the cars as she hears:

          JAYNE (O.S.)
          Couple more here...
          0 0 orpse _of_aman is
          pressed up against the glass wall right behind her. Mouth
          open, skin dead blue, terribly skinny... a thing to haunt.

          14

          

          

          

          

          93.

          SIMON
          (seeing it)
          Kaylee... Come this way. Come
           here. Don't --
          But she looks --

          KAYLEE
          GAAAAaaoh God --
          -- and steps back, horrified, as the others approach.
          It's an office. About half the employees are there, in
          chairs or on the ground, all in the same state as the first
          fellow. We see ANGLES of the corpses as the gang evaluates...

          JAYNE
          How come they're preserved?

          MAL
          Place must've gone hermetic when
          the power blew. Sealed 'em.

          KAYLEE
          (very upset)
          What're they doing? What's
          everybody doing?

          SIMON
          There's no discoloration, nobody's
          doubled over or showing signs of
          pain...

          MAL
          There's gasses that kill painless,
          right?

          INARA
          But they didn't fall down. None
          of them. They just lay down.

          SIMON
          More than anything, it looks like
          starvation.

          MAL
          Anybody want to bet there's plenty
          of food around?

          INARA
          They just lay down...
          They notice River now, in the middle of the street, keening.
          She drops to her knees, clutching her head.

          

          

          

          

          94.
          As she speaks we see, as she sees, FLASHES: bodies. In
          homes, in piles: an entire world, gently dead.

          RIVER
          , make them stop, they're
          everywhere, every city every house
          every room, they're all inside me,
          I can hear them all and they're
          saying nothing! GET UP! PLEASE,
          GET THEM UP! , please God make me a
          stone...

          JAYNE

          (UPSET)
          She's starting to damage my calm.

          ZOE
          Jayne --

          JAYNE
          She's right! Everybody's dead!
          This whole world is dead for no
          reason!

          WASH
          Let's get to the beacon.

          EXT. LANDING STRIP - DAY

          It's small -- landing is easier in cities with flying
          vehicles. At the end of a short runway, tipped and damaged,
          is an Alliance Research Vessel. The gang makes its way
          towards it.

          INT. RESEARCH VESSEL - DAY

          It's a mess, doors pried open, signs of violence but no
          bodies. The gang walks through it, looking around.
          River pulls away from Simon, suddenly determined. She
          approaches a console, and a small cylindrical object. She
          turns it slightly --
          A hologram squawks to life amidst them all. First we see
          images that resemble the flashes from River's mind: Corpses,
          everywhere. We hear and then see DOCTOR CARON standing
          exactly where she was when she recorded this message...
          (As she speaks, we see angles of everyone watching, taking it
          in.. River silently mouths every word.)
          ,two

          

          

          

          

          95.

          CARON
          -- just a few of the images we've
          recorded, and you can see it
          isn't.. it isn't what we thought.
          There's been no war here, and no
          terraforming event. The
          environment is stable. It's the
          Pax, the G-32 Paxilon Hydroclorate
          that we added to the air
          processors. It's...
          (tearing up)
          .well it works... it was
          supposed to calm the population,
          weed out aggression. Make a
          peaceful... it worked. The people
          here stopped fighting. And then
          they stopped everything else.
          They stopped going to work,
          stopped breeding... talking...
          eating...
          (trying for control)
          There's thirty million people here
          and they all just let themselves
          die. They didn't even kill
          themselves. They just... most
          starved. When they stopped
          working the power grids, there
          were overloads, fires -- people
          burned to death sitting in their
          V0 chairs. Just sitting.
          There is a loud bang somewhere behind her -- she starts,
          gathers herself.

          CARON

          (CONTINUING)
          I have to be quick. There was no
          one working the receptors when we
          landed, so we hit pretty hard. We
          can't leave. We can't take any of
          the local transports because...
          The bang again.

          CARON

          (CONTINUING)
          There are people... they're not
          people... about a tenth of a
          percent of the population had the
          opposite reaction to the Pax.
          Their aggressor response
          increased... beyond madness.
          They've become...

          (MORE)

          VJ

          

          

          

          

          96.
          CARON (cont'd)
          they've killed most of us... not
          just killed, they've done...
          things.

          V0

          WASH

          (QUIETLY)
          Reavers... they made them...

          CARON
          I won't live to report this, and
          we haven't got power to... people
          have to know...
          (loses it here)
          We meant it for the best... to
          make people safer... to... God!
          She whirls, grabs a gun and fires -- then aims the gun at her
           own head - but a Reaver is on her, knocks the gun away and
          bites her face --
          She screams continuously as the Reaver tops her, biting at
          her and tearing at her clothes, at her skin.

          JAYNE

          (QUIETLY)
          Turn it off.
          Wash does, nobody saying anything.

          10
          Mal walks outside.

          EXT. RESEARCH VESSEL - CONTINUING

          He takes a few unsteady steps away from the vessel. Inara
          appears behind him, follows -- he holds a hand out behind
          him, seemingly to make her stop, but then he grabs her
          shoulder, holds her for support. She puts her hand over his.

          MAL
          I seen so much death... I been on
          fields carpeted with bodies,
          friends and enemies -- I seen men
          and women blown to messes no
          further from me than you.

          INARA
          Mal...

          MAL
          But every single one of those
          people died on their feet.
          Fighting.

          (MORE)

          V0

          

          

          

          

          97.
          MAL (cont'd)
          Or, hell, running away -- doing
          summat to get through. This is...

          40

          INARA
          Mal, I need your help with this.
          I need you to help me, because I
          can't --
          He looks at her, folds her into his arms. Brings her face to
          his, not kissing but touching, pressing into each other with
          the urgency of pulsing, necessary life.

          INT. RESEARCH VESSEL - CONTINUING

          River falls to her knees, vomiting. Simon goes to her, puts
          his hand on her back, lets her ride it out.

          SIMON
          River...

          RIVER
          I'm all right.
          She looks at him, wet eyes full of clarity.

          RIVER

          (CONTINUING)
          I'm all right.

          V0
          Wash pulls the recording cylinder out of the console.

          INT. SERENITY - DINING ROOM - NIGHT

          The cylinder is on the table. Mal stands at the head,
          looking at his crew.

          MAL
          This report is maybe twelve years
          old. Parliament buried it, and it
          stayed buried til River dug it up.
          This is what they feared she knew.
          And they were right to fear,
          'cause there's a universe of folk
          that are gonna know it too.
          (touches the cylinder)
          They're gonna see it. Somebody
          has to speak for these people.
          He pauses. Everyone waits.

          V0

          

          

          

          

          98.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          You all got on this boat for
          different reasons, but you all
          V0 come to the same place. So now
          I'm asking more of you than I have
          before. Maybe all. 'Cause as
          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, ten, 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.
          There is a beat as he eyes them all.

          JAYNE
          My grandma always told me: if you
          can't do something smart, do
          something right.
          By way of emphasis he loudly cocks his big-ass rifle. Mal
          takes in the fact that Jayne has spoken for them all.

          MAL
          That the same grandma told you
          4 there was an evil dwarf spirit
          living in your well?

          JAYNE

          (NODDING)
          She was a fun grandma.

          SIMON
          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 thirty worlds. He's pretty
          damn close, too.

          RIVER
          Based on our orbital trajectories,
          he reached optimum proximity just
          before our sunset. If we make a
          direct run within the hour we're
          only 67,332 miles out. At full
          burn we'd reach him inside of
          three- hours .

          4

          

          

          

          

          99.
          She doesn't notice the reactions to her sudden clarity --
          she's still somewhat in her own world.

          WASH
          Still got the Reavers, and
          probably the Alliance between us
          and him.

          ZOE
          It's a fair bet the Alliance knows
          about Mr Universe. They're gonna
          see this coming.

          MAL
          No.
          He takes a long moment, his jaw tightening imperceptibly.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          They're not gonna see this coming.
           CLOSE ON: One of Serenity's jet engines, as it FIRES up.

          EXT. CITY - AFTERNOON

          Serenity is taking off, leaving the dead place behind.

          INT. MR UNIVERSE'S HQ - CONTINUING

          He's talking with Mal and Wash again, very animated.

          MR UNIVERSE
          It's 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 I start having a motto.

          MAL (ON SCREEN)
          We won't be long.

          MR UNIVERSE
          You're gonna get caught in the ion
          cloud, it'll play merry hob with
          your radar, but pretty pretty
          lights and a few miles after
          you'll be right in my orbit.

          MAL (ON SCREEN)
          You'll let us know if anyone else
          comes at you?

          

          

          

          

          100.
          DROP BACK WIDE to see: The Operative and ten soldiers are in
          the room, visible to Mr Universe but not to the screen.

          MR UNIVERSE
          You'll be the first.
          CLOSE ON: the Operative's sword, as he unsheathes it.

          EXT. SPACE - NIGHT

          We are amongst the Reaver armada. Serenity slices quietly
          through the ships, as we come around and see Miranda receding
          in the distance.
          Serenity drifts through the armada -- and suddenly another
          ship fires up, running next to her...
          The two ships pace each other, another vessel coming about as
          though staring at Serenity, who comes closer and closer to
          frame, till we see the suited corpse draped on the cannon.
          It suddenly moves: it's Mal.
          He swings the cannon round and fires at the ship pacing them.
          It BLOWS, fragmenting into burning bits that spiral into
          other ships, causing two smaller ones to blow as well.
          Mal swings around and fires at another ship.

          EXT. SATELLITE - NIGHT

          In close orbit waits the Alliance force, at least fifty
          strong, and clearly with high tech firepower. We move in on
          the Operative's ship, in the middle of the cluster.

          INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          As the Operative waits with the others.

          HELMSMAN
          I'm reading activity in the cloud.

          THE OPERATIVE
          (into com)
          Lock and fire on my command.
          (to himself)
          You should have let me see her.
          We should have done this as men.
          Not with fire...

          HELMSMAN
          Sir!
          ,Wd

          

          

          

          

          101.

          EXT. SPACE - CONTINUING

          It's the Operative's POV: the swirling Ion cloud as Serenity
          breaks through and heads at us, fully Reavered out.

          INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          He looks confused, then smiles at the ruse. Hits the com:

          THE OPERATIVE
          Vessel in range, lock on...

          (ADMIRINGLY)
          Bastard's not even changing
          course...

          EXT. SPACE - CONTINUING

           As Serenity get a bit closer, FIFTY REAVER SHIPS suddenly
           burst from the cloud, also heading straight at us.

          INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          The Operative -- and everyone around him - goes big-eyed.

          THE OPERATIVE
          That's not good...

          HELMSMAN

          (FREAKING)
          Sir?

          THE OPERATIVE
          Target the Reavers!
          (into com)
          Target the Reavers! Target
          everyone! Somebody FIRE!

          EXT. SPACE - CONTINUING

          Serenity suddenly lists hard to port -- until she's almost
          upside down -- the Alliance ships FIRE, missing Serenity but
           tagging a few Reaver ships, none of whom have slowed down --

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          Mal is back on the bridge as we look out at the upside down
          Alliance fleet, missiles just passing us --

          MAL
          We're too close for them to arm --

          ZOE
          This is gonna be very tight --

          4

          

          

          

          

          102.

          JAYNE

          (ENTERING)
          Hey look, we're upside down.
          V0 Zoe and Mal shoot a look at Jayne.

          WASH
          (to himself)
          I am a leaf on the wind, watch how
          I soar.

          EXT. SPACE - 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.

          J INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

           Mal looks out at the chaos...

           MAL
           Chickens come home to roost...
           They are suddenly JOLTED by a glancing blow from another
           ship -- Wash struggles to control her --

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          The hell --

          WASH

          (PANICKY)
          It's okay! I am a leaf on the
          wind!

          MAL
          (also panicky)
          What does that mean?

          4

          

          

          

          

          103.

          EXT. SPACE - CONTINUING

          Serenity makes her way past the carnage and heads down toward
          the tiny satellite moon.

          40

          INT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - CORRIDOR - CONTINUING

          As the vessel shakes, clearly breached, The Operative moves
          to a door marked: DART. He puts his thumb to a panel and the
          door slides up to reveal a standing, almost formfitting one-
          man cockpit.

          EXT. THE OPERATIVE'S SHIP - 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.

          EXT. SERENITY - 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.

           INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING


          4 WASH
           We're fried! I got no control!

           INT. ENGINE ROOM - CONTINUING

           Sparks -- and arcs of electricity -- are everywhere here.
           Kaylee jumps back as she is electrocuted -- Simon runs in and
           pulls her out, slams the door shut on the erupting fires.

           INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING


           MAL
           Where's the back up? Where's the
           back up?
           He and Wash are frantically flipping buttons -- the ship
           whirs to a semblance of life - -

           ZOE
           Back up reads at 20%..
           (to Wash)-
          Can you get us down?

          WASH
          I'm gonna have to glide her in!

          40

          

          

          

          

          104.

          ZOE
          Will that work?

          WASH
          140 Long as that landing strip is made
          of fluffy pillows...

          MAL
          (on the com)
          Everybody to the upper decks!
          Strap yourselves to something!

          EXT. LANDING STRIP - CONTINUING

          We can see it, a long strip, which halfway along becomes a
          kind of hanger. Serenity arcs at it uncomfortably fast.

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          Wash is fighting the stick with extreme concentration as Zoe
          pulls out a seat as well, straps in.

          INT. AFT HALL - CONTINUING

          Jayne, Simon and Inara pull harnesses not unlike "Batman the
          Ride" seats from the ceiling, help the others in.

          EXT./INT. LANDING STRIP/HANGER - CONTINUING

          -40 And Serenity HITS the ground -- the landing gear folds and
          snaps under the weight -- the ship keeps going, now inside
          the hanger, heading towards the entrance to the facility,
          slowing, fishtailing and coming about a full one eighty -- it
          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 --
          A massive harpoon CRASHES through the windshield 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.

          WASH!
          She moves to him --

          40

          

          

          

          

          105.

          ZOE

          (CONTINUING)
          Wash baby baby no, come on, you
          gotta move you gotta move baby
          VW please --
          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 has fired the harpoons as Reavers start
          out of it. 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.

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

          MAL
          Head inside!

          V0

          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 a 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
          Come on. Jayne, rearguard.
          Zoe slows, looking around her.

          ZOE
          Sir.
          (he turns to her)
          This is a good hold point_

          MAL
          We all stay together --

          44

          

          

          

          

          106

          ZOE
          No. They have to come through
          here; they'll bottleneck and we
          can thin 'em out. We get pushed
          ,oO
          back there's the blast doors.

          KAYLEE
          I can rig 'em so they won't re-
          open once they close.

          MAL
          Then shut 'em and hide til --

          ZOE
          We need to draw them til it's
          done. This is the place. We'll
          buy you the time.

          JAYNE
          (to the others)
          Move those crates back there for
          cover -- and make sure they ain't
          filled with anything goes boom.

          KAYLEE
          Wait, Wash -- where's Wash?
          Nobody (but River) realized he wasn't there. Zoe is dead calm.
          ,No ZOE
          He ain't comin'.
          Everybody takes that in, Kaylee's eyes welling up.

          JAYNE
          Move the gorram crates! Come on!
          We hear savage SCREAMS from the hanger -- 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 'em this
          time...
          Jayne smiles grimly, tosses Mal a grenade as he pops his own
          and fastballs it at the Reavers.

          J

          

          

          

          

          107.
          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

          40
          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
          (continuing; moving
          back to Zoe)
          Zoe... are you here?
          She looks up at him.

          ZOE
          Do the job, sir.

          MAL
          You hold. Hold till I'm back.
          He takes off -- passes Inara, the two of them holding a look
          for as long as they can. Then he's in the elevator and gone.
          Jayne moves over to Zoe.

          10

          JAYNE
          Captain's right. Can't be
          thinking on revenge if we're gonna
          get through this.

          ZOE
          You really think any of us are
          gonna get through this?
          He looks back at their army: A companion, a doctor, a
          mechanic and a more-than-usually out of it River. A beat,
          and he looks back at Zoe with forlorn hope:

          JAYNE
          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:

          1

          

          

          

          

          108.
          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.

          V0
          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.

          LOVEBOT
          Mal.
          Mal stops.

          LOVEBOT

          (CONTINUING)
          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 back-up 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.

          (BEAT)
          Okay this is painful. On many
          levels. I'm not --

          A0
          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
          I can't shut them up...

          SIMON
          It's okay... -

          RIVER
          They're all made up of rage. I
          can't...
          A BANG as a body slams against the door.

          SIMON
          Just stay low. I'm right here.

          4

          

          

          

          

          109.
          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 less they get past
          our fire.
          Simon moves to Kaylee, who is shaky as hell. The bangs on
          the door continue.

          KAYLEE
          Oh, I didn't plan on going out
          like this. I think we did right,
          but...

          SIMON
          I never planned... anything. I
          just wanted to keep River safe.
          Spent so much time on Serenity
          trying to find us a home I never
          realized I already had.
          She looks at him with soft surprise.

          140

          SIMON

          (CONTINUING)
          My one true regret in all this is
          never being with you.

          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.
          Simon looks at her a moment, then turns his attention to the
          door.
          Inara come up into frame with the contents of the oilcloth:
          a bow and arrow, which she pulls back with focused grace.
          ANGLE: THE DOOR starts to come off its hinges.

          4

          

          

          

          

          110.

          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 --

          LOVEBOT

          MAL
          (The Operative turns)
          Guy killed me, Mal.

          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

          lw�
          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... Gorramnit...
          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 --

          J

          

          

          

          

          JAYNE

          (CONTINUING)
          ZOE! Get yer ass back in the line!
          vo� 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
          (in pain)
          Shot me in the back. I haven't...
          made you angry, have I?
          I s

          THE OPERATIVE
          There's 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.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          I know the secret now. The truth
          that burned up River Tam's brain
          and set you after her. And the
          rest of the 'verse is gonna know
          it too. 'Cause they need to.

          THE OPERATIVE
          You really believe that?

          MAL
          I do.

          4

          

          

          

          

          112.

          THE OPERATIVE
          You willing to die for that belief?

          MAL

          V0
          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.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Of course, that ain't exactly plan

          A..
          He drops out his cartridge and slams another in.
          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
          4 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 gimme a bandage.
          Simon pulls a spraycan from his bag, sprays the wound with a
          foam that hardens instantly into an elastic covering.

          40

          

          

          

          

          113.
          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 --

          A0

          JAYNE
          Oh, now you're likin' guns, huh?
          Cheaters!
          He takes a hit in the shoulder, grimaces 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
          Everybody fall back! Fall back!
          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

          (CONTINUING)
          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
          Can close it... from outside...

          ZOE
          No one's coming back from that...
          She tries to stand, fails.

          ZOE

          (CONTINUING)
          How much ammo do we have?

          JAYNE
          We got three full cartridges and
          my swingin' cod. That's all.
          Inara is by the elevator, pounding for it to come.---

          40

          

          

          

          

          114.

          INARA
          Lift isn't moving...

          ZOE
          When they come, try to plug the
          hole with 'em...
          Kaylee cries out and Simon moves to her.

          KAYLEE
          I'm starting to lose some feeling
          here... I think there's something
          in them darts they throwed at me.

          SIMON
          Lie still. I'm gonna give you
          something to counteract the --
          He stands, looking around him. His bag is over by Zoe.

          SIMON

          (CONTINUING)
          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. Need... adrenaline... and
          a shot of calaphar for Kaylee...
          I can't... River...?
          She is by his side, takes his hand. She has a kind of
          serenity to her, like she understands something now.

          SIMON

          (CONTINUING)
          River... I'm sorry...

          RIVER
          No. No.
          The lights go out. Everyone looks about them. Jayne fires
          again, but all the sound has bled out save these two.

          4

          

          

          

          

          115.

          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.

          RIVER

          (CONTINUING)
          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.
          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 RLUNG.

          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 resistance, and breaks skin.

          MO

          

          

          

          

          116.
          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)
          Aw 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 stuck
          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

          (CONTINUING)
          But right now...
          He pulls the sword out, grimacing. Holds it over the
          Operative. The smile gone.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          vao 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
          You suppose he got through? Think
          Mal got the word out?

          ZOE
          (almost convincingly)
          He got through. I know he got
          through.

          VO

          

          

          

          

          117.

          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
          lod 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 paralyzed 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

          (CONTINUING)
          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
          Iwo 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

          (CONTINUING)
          Piece a shrapnel tore up that
          nerve cluster my first tour. Had
          it moved.
          He squats down, looks the Operative in the face.

          VO

          

          

          

          

          118.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Sorry 'bout the throat. Expect
          you'd wanna say your famous last
          MW 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.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          I ain't gonna kill you.
          He moves to the console, starts prepping it.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          Hell, I'm gonna grant your
          greatest wish.
          He inserts the cylinder, turns it slightly. It hums to life.

          MAL

          (CONTINUING)
          I'm gonna show you a world without
          sin.
          He hits "send all". The cylinder lights up and the broadcast
          V0 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, jus.t as
           we saw on the research vessel -- and in River's mind.

           CARON (V.0.)
          These are some of the first sites
          we scouted on Miranda. There is
          no one living on this planet.
          There is no one...
          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:

          4

          

          

          

          

          119.
          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?

          140 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...

          SOLDIER
          Drop your weapons! Drop 'em now!

          ANOTHER SOLDIER
          Do we engage? Do we engage?

          4

          

          

          

          

          120.
          Mal and the others tense up. River turns slowly to face the
          soldiers, blades still gripped... A soldier levels his gun at
          her, sweaty and frantic... others still shouting...
          vp INT. BASEMENT, OVER THE GENERATOR - CONTINUING
          The Operative sits in silence, the voices coming over his com:

          SOLDIER (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...

          BLACK OUT.

          EXT. DESERT PLANET - SUNSET

          We are close on a gravestone. It is rounded, looks more like
          a bell than a headstone. It is topped by a jar built'into
          the stone. The jar is weathered tin at top and bottom, but
          glass in the middle. Inside the glass we can see one of
          those slightly moving photos. It is of Mr Universe and his
          lovebot, and the name Mr Universe is carved roughly in the
          stone beneath.
          The camera moves to the right and we see another such stone,
          40 this one bearing the image and inscription: Shepherd Derrial
          Book.
          The third is Hoban Washburne. Wash.
          The camera continues moving right, but the next stone houses
          a small home-made rocket with pieces of paper taped to it
          instead of a picture-jar. And fixing another slip of paper
          to it is River.
          She moves away from the stone as Mal does likewise. They're
          flanked by the crew: Jayne, Inara (to whom Mal moves),
          Simon, who stands holding River before him and hand in hand
          with Kaylee. He has a crutch supporting his other side.
          There is a moment, then they all move aside, saying nothing.
          Between them walks Zoe, in a simple white funeral gown,
          holding a burning taper.
          She stands at the stones a moment, then holds the taper to
          the rocket fuse. Stands back with the others.
          The rocket shoots up into the darkening sky. They all watch
          its sputtering tail a moment, then it it explodes in a series
          of fireworks.

          40

          

          

          

          

          121.
          WIDE ON the group, as the fireworks go off over their heads.
          We are close on another explosion when it becomes:
          CLOSE ON: A BLOWTORCH spitting sparks. Widen to see:

          EXT. REPAIR YARD/SERENITY - DAY

          Zoe is harnessed to the nose of the ship, welding on a
          replacement for the very window the harpoon that impaled Wash
          came through.

          INT. DUCT INSIDE SERENITY - DAY

          We are close on River as she works inside a crawlspace just
          above the engine room, replacing wires. Some of them run to
          a computer screen that she checks and adjusts.

          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

          t f o 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.

          V0

          

          

          

          

          122.
          A beat, and River's head appears from the crawlspace above,
          looking down at them with detached 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.

          MAL
          If you're here to tell me we ain't
          finished... then we will be real
          quick.
          The Operative stands just under the canopy of the nose of the
          ship, framed by the rain behind.

          THE OPERATIVE
          Do you know what an uproar you've
          caused? Protests, riots -- cries
          for a recall of the entire
          Parliament.

          MAL

          (TURNING)
          We've seen the broadwaves.

          THE OPERATIVE
          You must be pleased.

          MAL
          'Verse wakes up a spell. Won't be
          long 'fore she rolls right over
          and falls back asleep. Taint my
          worry.

          THE OPERATIVE
          I can't guarantee they won't come
          after you. The Parliament. They
          have a hundred men like me 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...

          THE OPERATIVE
          I told them the Tams were no
          longer a threat -- damage done.

          (MORE)

          VO

          

          

          

          

          123.
          THE OPERATIVE (cont'd)
          They might listen, but... I think
          they know I'm no longer their man.

          W MAL
          They take you down, I don't expect
          to grieve overmuch. Like to kill
          you myself, I see you again.

          THE OPERATIVE
          You won't. There is...
          (small, grim smile)
          .nothing left to see.
          Mal looks at him a moment, then picks up his gear to head
          inside. The Operative starts away into the rain, then stops
          to look up at the nose of the ship.
          ANGLE: the newly painted Serenity, standing tall in the rain.

          THE OPERATIVE

          (CONTINUING)
          "Serenity". You lost everything
          in that battle. Everything you
          had, everything you were... how
          did you go on?
          Mal hits the button to close the inner doors, steps inside as
          they slide together. Glances at the Operative, unimpressed.

          VAO

          MAL
          You still standing there when the
          engine starts, you never will
          figure it out.
          The Operative watches the door shut. A moment, and he goes.

          INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

          Mal stows the gear as Zoe approaches.

          MAL
          (to himself)
          What a whiner...

          ZOE
          Sir, we have a green light.
          Inspection's pos and we're clear
          for upthrust.

          MAL
          Think she'll hold together?

          J

          

          

          

          

          124.

          ZOE
          She's tore up plenty. But she'll
          fly true.

          VW
          A beat between them before:

          MAL
          Make sure everything's secure.
          Could be bumpy.

          ZOE
          Always is.
          She takes off and Mal heads up the stairs.

          INT. FOREDECK HALL - CONTINUING

          Mal comes in and runs into Inara. Jayne passes through as
          they talk, heading down into his bunk. Pays them no mind.
          Neither do Simon and Kaylee, in the dining room stowing
          supplies.

          MAL
          We're taking her out. Should be
          about a day's ride to get you back
          to your girls.

          INARA
          Right.

          VW

          MAL
          (moving past her)
          You ready to get off this heap and
          back to a civilized life?

          INARA
          I, uh...
          (he stops)
          I don't know.
          He looks at her, a smile in his eyes.

          MAL
          Good answer.
          He turns and heads into the bridge.

          INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

          Mal eases himself into his seat. Takes a moment to adjust
          one of Wash's dashboard dinosaurs, then looks to his left.

          4

          

          

          

          

          125.

          MAL
          You gonna ride shotgun, help me
          fly?
          V0 River is in the copilot's seat, looking intently at the
          screens and buttons.

          RIVER
          That's the plan.

          MAL
          Think you can work out how to get
          her in the --
          She is flipping switches without even looking, as the ship
          hums to life.

          EXT. SERENITY - 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... but it ain't all buttons
          A0 and charts, .
          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 you don't love, she'll
          shake you off just as sure as the
          turning of worlds. Love keeps her
          in the air when she oughta fall
          down, tells you she's hurting
          'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
          River also looks out at the sky.

        

          126.

          RIVER
          Storm's getting worse.

          MAL
          We'll pass through it soon enough.

          EXT. SERENITY - CONTINUING

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

          EXT. SPACE - MOMENTS LATER

          We are looking down on the stormclouds 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 is a spark and a piece of paneling pops off, whips at
          camera, blacking out the frame.

          MAL (0. S . )
          What was that?



          THE END




Serenity



Writers :   Joss Whedon
Genres :   Action  Adventure  Sci-Fi  Thriller


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