Children Of The Academy: Secrets
Sunday, August 6, 2006

River's takes control of the ship, and the rest of the crew tries to figure out why, where they're headed, and what they can do about it.


Second chapter in my series. Thanks to Arcadia, Tayeatra, and Joy for beta-testing.


Jayne was sittin’ just inside the open hatch, holding Vera, and he was itchin’ for some action. It’d been awhile since he’d gotten a chance to take Vera out. One of her firing pins had broken a few months back, and he’d had a hard time finding a good replacement, what with the custom job and all.

“Capn’s given us a real good opportunity, Vera. He and that little crazy girl gone and started somethin’, an’ soon’s they get stuck somewhere, we get to perform some thrillin’ heroics.”

Two shots rang out from the corridor Serenity was attached to, but before Jayne could swing around to get a bead on the shooter, River burst through the door with Mal right on her heels.

Not wanting to be outdone, Jayne fired two shots out the hatch, just to discourage anyone from tryin' anything, and closed the door.

Mal hit the com button. “Zoe, get us outta’ here.”

“Already done, Sir.”

Hearing the locking clamps disengage, Mal turned to Jayne. “What the hell was that?!”

“Ah, com’on, Mal. Vera ain’t seen the light a’day in months! I can’t deny her the right when things start goin’ wooly.”

“And just what would you have done if one of those bullets had pierced the hull? Coulda' killed us all, Jayne.”

Jayne was spared from having to make a reply, as Simon and Kaylee came running from the direction of the infirmary. Simon seemed to be in a fair state of rage, not that Mal could really blame him, especially considering the last time he’d promised to take care of River.

“What did you do this time, Captain Reynolds?”

“It wasn’t me. Some hwoon dahn started a fight with your little sister,” swinging his arm to point back towards the station.

Jayne snorted. “Now what kind of an idiot would do that?”

Kaylee looked around the cargo bay. “Hey, where is River anyway?”

Before any of them could give a thought as to where she had disappeared to, Zoe’s voice came over the com. “Sir, there some reason River’s typing in different coordinates up here?”

Mal and Simon shared a look, then all four of them started bounding up the stairs towards the bridge. Inara stepped out of her shuttle, and had to jump back in order to keep from being bowled over.

Deciding to join them, Inara caught up to Kaylee. “What’s going on?”

“River was in some sorta’ fight, and now she’s changing the flight coordinates.”

The crew reached the bridge, and noticed that River was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, looking quite pleased. Zoe, on the other hand, was sitting in the pilot’s seat looking quite flustered. She was hitting different combinations of buttons and switches on the panels, but nothing seemed to be happening.


“We’ve changed course, Sir.”

“Well, change it back!”

“Trying to, Sir, but she’s locked me out.”

Striding over to the co-pilot seat, Mal looked down on River. “Now look here, Lil’ Albatross, I’m all for exploring the ‘Verse. Like to do nothing better, but we got jobs lined up, and cashey money to be made. So you correct our heading so we can get back on track, dong ma?”


This put Mal at a loss for words. River had never disobeyed him before, and here she was, defying him for the second time in a day. Deciding to end this rebellious streak once and for all, Mal put on his best captainy face, and prepared to issue River an order, when Inara stepped up and put a hand on Mal’s shoulder. With a look between the two, Mal consented, and backed away.

Inara bent down next to the chair River was occupying. “Sweetie, we’re all aware you know things most people shouldn’t. But you can’t just go changing course without talking to the rest of us first. Now if you can just put us back on course and tell us why you want to go somewhere else, we’ll see what we can do to help.”


This rocked Inara on her heels. Never had Inara heard River speak with such conviction. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Mal preparing to launch into another speech. She stood up, and shot him a look that told him to hold his peace. Nothing would convince River to correct their course, and she would probably stop any attempts to try.

Ignoring the silent shouting match that Mal and Inara seemed to be having, Simon started to step up when River spoke.

“Sand slipping through the glass. Can’t stop it. Have to get there before they do.”

Mal looked around Inara to stare at the back of River’s head. “And just who would ‘they’ be, and why do we have to beat them?”

When no answer was forthcoming, Kaylee asked a question of her own. “So where exactly are we headed?”

Zoe punched a few buttons, and one of the displays lit up. “Looks like Beylix.”

Jayne was stationed in the doorway, still clutching Vera. “Beylix? Why the hell we headed to that trash heap?”

“Don’t know,” came Zoe’s reply, as she turned to face the rest of the crew, “but there’s nothing I can do about it. She’s completely shut me out of the controls. What exactly happened down there, Sir?”

“Don’t rightly know myself, but I’ll give you the details.”


They were in the dining room. Mal was standing at the head of the table. Jayne was leaning against the wall next to the stove, eating what looked to be a protein bar. River was still on the bridge, while everyone else was seated. Mal had just recounted the events from the skyplex, and they were digesting it when Jayne spoke up.

“He hit her? Just like that?”

“Just like that, Jayne. With a grin on his face and everything.”

Kaylee, wide-eyed, spoke up from the end of the table. “Smiling, Cap’n? Like he was enjoying his’self or somethin'?”

“That’s the way it looked to me, Kaylee, though I didn’t catch but a glimpse.”

“But, that’s just mean.”

Mal nodded in agreement, when Zoe spoke up. “Sir, do we know who this man was?”

“Didn’t recognize him, but River sure seemed to.” Mal crossed his arms and looked towards the end of the table. “Any ideas on who this Brian character is, Doc?”

Simon, seated next to Kaylee, looked up, and shook his head. “Not to my recollection, no.”

Inara was sitting across from the couple, forearms resting on the table. Turning her right palm upwards, she said, “Couldn’t she have just pulled his name out of his head? She is still a reader, isn’t she?”

“Maybe, but from where I stood, it looked like River wasn’t able to read this Brian character very well, if at all.”

Jayne pushed off from the wall. “You mean there’s ways of keeping her outta' our heads? Hell, why didn’t we figure this out before?!”

Zoe shot one of her patent looks at him. “Jayne, this ain’t a good thing. I don’t particularly like the thought of someone out there who could get the best of River.”

Mal leaned against the chair at the table. “Gonna have to agree with Zoe on this one. That man could have easily taken River out, and she wouldn’t a’ seen it comin'. That’s not good for any of us, but there’s not a whole lot we can do till we collect some more data. Zoe, how long till we get to Beylix?”

“Shouldn’t be more than a few days, Sir.”

Jayne stepped up next to the table. “Isn’t there some way we can change that? Mess with the navigation, or take apart something in the engine room maybe?”

Kaylee leaned over and smacked Jayne on the leg. “Jayne Cobb! There’s no way I’m letting you set foot anywhere near the engine. I just got her runnin' smooth, and I’m not gonna have you muckin' around in there and breakin' something! Kuh-ooh duh lao bao-jurn.”

Inara shook her head. “I don’t think it would matter anyway. River is determined to reach Beylix, and I don’t think she would let any of us try anything that would actually stop her.”

Simon sat up in his chair. “Wait, are we saying that my sister is a danger again?”

Mal stood up. “Ain’t sayin' that Doc. Inara just meant that anything we try’s likely as not to work. Anyway, I don’t plan on tryin' to stop her, not just yet at least. We’re obviously headed there for a reason, and I aim to see what that is. But that doesn’t mean we can’t collect some data. Tomorrow, I want everyone tryin' to figure out exactly what’s going on. Zoe, scan the Cortex, see if there’s anything new happenin’ on Beylix, and try and find some info on this Brian character while you’re at it. I’ll get in touch with some people, see if maybe they can’t turn something up. Simon, you, Kaylee, and Inara talk to your sister. See if you can’t get some more info. Jayne, stay outta' the way. Don’t want you makin' things worse than they already are.”

Jayne picked his protein bar off the floor, having dropped it on the floor when Kaylee hit him. Brushing it off, he said, “Ain’t no way I’m goin' anywhere near her, ’specially now she’s gone all crazy again.”

As Kaylee reached over to give Jayne another smack, Mal shook his head. “I don’t think River’s any crazier now then she was yesterday. Just the same, I’d like someone to stay with her on the bridge at all times till we figure this out.”

Zoe raised an eyebrow at him. “Sir, are you sayin' we shouldn’t trust her?”

Mal raised a hand to silence Simon’s objection. “No. River’s the key to this puzzle, and anything she does or says could be the clue that’ll fill the rest of us in. I’d just hate to miss it ‘cause no one was there. Dong ma?”

The rest of the crew acknowledged their consent.

“Good. Now it’s been a long day, so I think we should get to bed so as we can get to work at this in the morning.”

Jayne looked around at the crew, and said, “Well, who’s gonna take first watch? I’d hate to miss out on any of those clues you were talking about.”

Simon raised his hand. “I’d like to stay up with her tonight, if that’s alright Captain.” He then looked sheepishly at Kaylee. “Is that ok?”

Kaylee nodded. “But only if I get you all to myself tomorrow night, Simon Tam. I gotta few new tricks I wanna try.”

Mal coughed. As much as he enjoyed watching Simon squirm, there were things that needed to be done, and he needed the Doc focused on his sister right now. “Alright, then it’s settled. Simon, you can stay up with River tonight. Zoe, you get first watch tomorrow morning, and I’ll be in to replace you around lunch. We’ll figure out the rest then. Everyone else, get some sleep.”



She had moved into the pilot’s seat, and was lazily watching the stars. “I’m here, Simon.”

Simon walked onto the bridge carrying a cold pack. “I came to see how you’re doing.”

She turned her head to look in his direction. “Floating. Caught between worlds. Down is up, up is down.”

He looked out the window at the stars that were passing by, then back down at his sister. Not knowing what else to say, he held up the cold pack. “I thought you might want this.”

When she didn’t give him a response, he knelt down next to her chair. Lifting the hair away from her face, he saw a slight bruise beginning to form just under her eye. He raised the cold pack up, and placed it on top of the bruise.

“Ow!” River cried out as she flinched away.

“I’m sorry, mei-mei, but this’ll help keep the swelling and the color down.” But before Simon could replace the cold pack, River snatched it away, and gingerly set it under her eye.

Having been relieved of his duty, Simon made his way over to the co-pilot’s seat. He turned it in order to face the pilot’s position, and sat down. “So, do you want to tell me why we’re headed to Beylix?”


“One you can’t share with your brother?”

After several moments of silence, Simon tried again. “Remember when we were kids, we’d share all kinds of secrets? Like that one about the Rosenburg’s pet, and how he used to...”

River shot Simon a classic little-sister look.

“Right. No, I shouldn’t try to trick you. But, River, if you’ll just tell us why you want to go to Beylix so bad, we can…”

River looked over at Simon, and placed her finger over her mouth.

“…be quiet.” Simon turned his chair to stare back out at the stars. “Sooner or later you’re going to have to tell me. I am still your older brother.”

River just rolled her eyes, and continued to watch the black silently slip past.


“Why is this so hard for you to understand, Mal?” They were in her shuttle. Fighting. Again. “I trust her, that’s all there is to it.”

“No, it’s not, Inara. Even you know this could be dangerous, so you’re willing to follow along blindly just don’t make sense.” Mal was standing just inside the closed door. There’d been a few times when she’d thrown him out after one of their arguments, and he liked to have an escape route just in case.

She was standing next to the bed, waiting to see if he would venture further in. “I’m not completely oblivious, Mal. River’s been through a lot, and considering what happened today, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to just let things play out.”

“Let things play…” Mal started to retort, but stopped himself. Taking a deep breath, Mal stepped deeper into the shuttle. “Inara, I know you don’t need to be reminded of what happened the last time we let things ‘play out.’ With all that’s happened, you’re still willing to do this?”

Inara walked up to Mal, and gazed deep into his eyes. “Yes.”

Unable to break away from the intense stare, Mal placed his arms around her and asked, “Why?”

Inara leaned into him, and wrapped her arms around his body. Leaning her head against his chest, she said, “Because she trusts me.”

Looking down at the top of her head, Mal finally understood. “So that’s what the two of you been talkin’ bout? What happened to her, and everything she’s been through?”

Inara looked up at him. “Not just that, but any secrets she remembers.”

This seemed to scare him, and when he started to pull away, Inara hugged him tighter. “Mal, she needs an outlet. She has to talk to somebody, and I’m the only one she can come to who won’t tell the rest of the crew.”

He shook his head, looked back down into her eyes, frowned, and said, “And after learnin' those secrets, you still willin' to trust her?”

Inara smiled. “Not all the secrets are bad Mal. And it’s not the only thing we talk about.”

Mal grinned, and waved in the direction of Inara tea set. “Don’t tell me you’ve been teachin' her some of your feminine wiles. Don’t think I like the idea of River havin' any more tricks up her sleeves.”

Inara just shook her head. “Mal, believe me. Any wiles I’ve taught her would just be wasted on you.”

When Mal tried to look hurt, Inara just kissed him. “Besides, I owe her.”

Mal looked slightly confused. “Why is that?”

Inara rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Mal. You think either one of us would have gotten this far if River hadn’t intervened?”

Mal looked in the direction of the bridge. “Huh.” Looking back at Inara, he leaned in to kiss her.

When they broke apart, Mal said, “That girl deserves a cake.”


Chinese translations

hwoon dahn = bastard

Kuh-ooh duh lao bao-jurn = Horrible old tyrant

mei-mei = little sister

swai = pretty


Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:21 PM


Ya know...I really wanna complain about you witholding things from your audience, cuz there's a mighty large pile of stuff that seems to be here but isn't, if ya know what I mean;)

Definitely wanna see part 3, so that some of the mystery of Serenity's journey to Beylix:D


Friday, September 15, 2006 6:23 PM


'Inara stepped out of her shuttle, and had to jump back in order to keep from being bowled over.'



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Children of the Academy: Shopping
As Mal and Zoe meet with Badger, most of the crew goes shopping.

Children of the Academy: Decisions
Mal must decide what to do with Brian, and the crew must decide if they can trust him.

Children of the Academy: Goodbye
Caught between a rock and an Alliance ship, the crew watches a Brian makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Children Of The Academy: Trapped
Serenity is trapped between a rock and an Alliance ship. Who is this new enemy, and just how much can they trust Brian?

Children Of The Academy: Cooking Dinner
Brian arrives on ship. Who is he, and how will the crew, especially River, react?

Children Of The Academy: Special Place
As Serenity heads towards Beylix, the crew struggels to figure out why they're headed there, and what River has planned

Children Of The Academy: Secrets
River's takes control of the ship, and the rest of the crew tries to figure out why, where they're headed, and what they can do about it.

Children Of The Academy: Chance Meeting
River runs into a fellow student from the Academy, and it's not what you expect.