Children Of The Academy: Special Place
Saturday, August 26, 2006

As Serenity heads towards Beylix, the crew struggels to figure out why they're headed there, and what River has planned


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


It was just after lunch, and Zoe was on the bridge, scanning the cortex for any and all information she could find. She was occupying the co-pilot’s seat, since River was still perched in Wash’s chair.

Zoe shook her head. It wasn’t his chair anymore. River had every right to it since she was the new pilot.

Eight months. It’d been eight months, but it still felt like it was yesterday. Every night, she saw him in her dreams, felt his arms wrap around her, tasted his lips as they kissed. Sometimes she could swear he was still here, standing next to her, ready to talk.

“He is.”

Wiping the unshed tears from her eyes, Zoe turned to see River staring at her. “You say something sweetie?”

“Never left. Can’t leave.” River turned back towards the nose of the ship. Softly, she said, “He cares too much.”

“Who cares too much?” Mal asked as he entered the bridge.

As Zoe turned back to the screens, she answered, “Nobody.”

Glancing at the backs of both women’s heads, Mal decided to drop it and ask another question instead. “Zoe, any luck?”

“Nothing yet. Harold Fyren called a few hours back, but he hadn’t been able to turn anything up.” She turned her head to look in his direction. “It would help if we knew what we were supposed to be looking for.”

“I wish I knew myself, Zo. But River here’s the only one who knows, and she doesn’t seem to be in a talkin’ sort of mood.” They both turned to stare in River’s direction.

When no answer was forth coming, Mal looked at Zoe and just shrugged his shoulders. Walking over to Zoe’s position, he asked, “Any idea on when exactly we’re supposed to reach Beylix?”

As Zoe pulled up the navigation, she replied, “Normally, it would have taken a few more days. But due to the course River plotted, we should be there sometime tomorrow afternoon."

Looking at the navigation screen, Mal nodded his head, then took a step back. “Alright. Zoe, why don’t you go get some rest. I’ll take it from here.” Nodding, Zoe got up from her chair and headed towards her bunk.

She was almost out the door, when Zoe turned back around and asked, “Cap’n, who’s on watch tonight?”

Mal thought about it a minute, then said, “Don’t rightly know. Guess we could put Jayne on it, but he’d probably just leave. Inara might…”

“If I may, I’d like to volunteer.”

Mal looked at Zoe. “You sure bout’ that, Zo?”

Zoe glanced in River’s direction, then back at Mal. “Yes, Sir.”

“Alright. But don’t keep me up too late. You know how grouchy I get when I ain’t had my beauty sleep.”

Smiling, Zoe said, “I don’t think I’m the one to blame for you missin’ sleep, Sir.” then turned around and headed out the door.

When he sat down, he looked in River’s direction. Shaking his head, he started to turn towards the vidscreens, when she said, “Vanilla.”


River looked at him. “With chocolate icing. And sprinkles.” She then looked back out at the stars, leaving Mal slightly speechless.

When he finally regained his composure, Mal said, “Lil’ Albatross, you are makin’ things all manner of difficult.”

River just smiled.


Kaylee snuggled deeper into Simon’s chest. She was having trouble sleeping, despite all of Simon's efforts to the contrary. She almost wanted to wake him up so he could work some more of his magic, but thoughts of River and everything that had been happening kept interrupting her.

Finally, she whispered, “Simon? You awake?”

She felt him sigh beneath her. “Yes.”

“Simon, why ain’t River tellin’ us anything?”

Simon looked down to see Kaylee staring up at him. “I’m not sure bao-bei. She won’t talk to anyone, not even me.”

Kaylee laid her head back on his chest. “I know she’s got all sorts of secrets, but she’s always tried to explain things before.”

Simon just shook his head. “I don’t know, Kaylee. But River loves this ship, and everyone on it. I doubt she would willing lead us into a dangerous situation without telling us first.”

Kaylee sat up to stare down into Simon’s eyes. “But Capn’s actin’ like we’re headed back to Miranda or somethin’.”

Simon smiled, which almost caused Kaylee to forget everything and start sexin’ him all over again. But before she could start, Simon said, “The Captain’s just being cautious. He trusts River just as much as everyone else does.” When she started to object, Simon just reached up and placed his hand on her cheek. “Kaylee, I promise, there’s nothing to be worried about. When River wants us to know, she’ll tell us, but for now, let’s just enjoy the peace and quiet.”

Kaylee smiled, and said “Don’t know ‘bout peace, but I’m sure there’s somethin’ we can do about quiet.” With that she leaned down to kiss him.


Beylix was, for all intents and purposes, garbage. The Central Planets saw it as little more than a trash dump, or ‘Reclamation and Recycling Center’, as they liked to call it. But the people living on the Rim were more adaptable and less concerned with the newest piece of shiny, and saw potential in the Core’s trash. So junkyards had been set up, selling old ships and parts to those that needed or wanted them. This was, in fact, how one Malcolm Reynolds had found himself a ship. But since most people didn’t come to Beylix unless they had to, there was very little traffic in and around the planet, aside from the occasional garbage hauler or transport.

Even Beylix’s rings were nothing special. Mining companies had surveyed them many times, hoping to find some valuable minerals. And while there were some valuable crystals spread throughout the rings, it was never in a high enough concentration that merited the dangerous task of harvesting them. So the mining companies had moved on, leaving the Beylix rings relatively untouched.

There was one redeeming quality in regards to the planet and its rings. Those who had reason to travel there had occasionally told stories of the rings suddenly changing colors. What color usually depended on who was telling the story. In truth, it was nothing more than a flash before the rings changed back, so no one could be sure exactly what it was. But there were some people, most of them members of Parliament, that knew the truth about the rings of Beylix.

It was something the mining companies had discovered during their survey. Due to the crystals that were imbedded in the rocks, combined with the various chunks of ice that were floating around, and given the right angle and location in reference to the sun, the rings produced a kaleidoscope of colors, constantly sparkling and changing. But given the nature of the rings, the location where one could see this event was constantly changing, and it was discovered that it would take a genius to constantly monitor the rings in order to calculate the exact spot and course one would need. Once that was done, however, it would still take one of the best pilots the ‘verse had to offer in order to stay in that position for any amount of time. This led to the discouragement of any sort of viewing program, as the Alliance had other intentions for its best pilots, and they weren’t likely to give up any of their geniuses for entertainment purposes.

The crew of Serenity, however, had both a genius and an excellent pilot all wrapped into one. So when they arrived at Beylix a full day early, it was no surprise that River was able to not only find the right location so that they could see the show, but also plot a course that would allow them to watch it for as long as they were in orbit.

Or rather, it came as no surprise to her. The rest of the crew was pleasantly shocked, having never heard of such a thing.

They stood on the bridge, just watching in silence. Even Jayne was left speechless, which seemed to amuse everyone almost as much as the rings did.

Finally, Mal spoke up, “Hate to stop this, beautiful as that is, but we got work to do.”

“But Cap’n. Just…look at it.”

“I know what you mean, Kaylee. It’s a wonderful sight, but we got jobs lined up and cash to get paid. So, River, if you could just point us in the right direction.”

River, still sitting in the pilot seat, shook her head. “Not done. Ice and crystals produce colors, but no one sees the individuals.”

Kaylee looked wide-eyed in River’s direction. “Oh, are you sayin’ there’s more? Cap’n, we can’t leave if this is just startin’!”

“I don’t think that’s entirely what she meant mei-mei.” Inara turned to look at Mal. “But I don’t think River’s quite ready to leave yet, so we still have some time to enjoy the show.”

Mal glanced around at the rest of the crew, and saw that Kaylee and River were the only ones not looking at him. “Ok. River, whenever you’re ready to leave, you just let us know. Kaylee, you just go on watchin’ for now.”

Motioning for everyone else to follow, Mal headed towards the kitchen.

“So, I think it’s fairly obvious that were not just here to look at some pretty colors. Did anyone find anything out that’s of use to us?”

Zoe was the first to speak. “There wasn’t anything special on the Cortex. Just the usual advertisements for the local junk yards. Wasn’t even anything on that little show outside.”

Mal turned to Simon. “I’m sorry Captain. River’s hardly said anything since we left the skyplex. She hasn’t even left that chair.”

“Is it possible that River just wants to escape for a little while?” Inara looked at the rest of the crew. “Given what’s happened in the last few months, and that fight she just had, she could just want to hide.”

Jayne spoke up from the kitchen, where he was digging through one of the cupboards. “Does it really matter? We can’t stay here, ‘specially since we don’t know why we’re here in the first place. Mal, we got things to do, and I ain’t keen on waitin’ for whatever that girl has planned.”

“Much as I hate to say it, Jayne might be right. Could be she has somethin’ specific in mind.” Mal looked at Inara, cutting off her objection. “Or she could just want to lay low for a spell. Hell, she could just want to look at the pretty colors, I don’t know. But whatever we’re here for, let’s hope we don’t have to wait long.”


It wasn’t until the next day that River finally dislodged herself from the pilot seat. Kaylee, on the other hand, had volunteered to stay with River and taken root in the co-pilot’s chair.

Mal had been tempted to take control back and move on. But he and Inara had had another long talk the night before, and he’d finally had to promise to see things through. It had either been that, or sleep in his own bunk, which had been the last thing on his mind.

So when River went to take a shower and change, Mal had let it go. Of course, he’d had to stop Jayne from doing anything in the process, which meant placing himself in the pilot seat until River came back.

It was a few hours later when he finally heard her soft footfalls from the doorway. He turned around, prepared to make some smart comment, but River’s appearance stopped him. She was wearing a bright red dress that showed off her curves, and what appeared to be a small amount of makeup, just enough to accent her features. Mal even caught the scent of some of Inara’s perfume.


Kaylee, having heard Mal’s reaction, turned around in her seat. “Oh, River! You look so swai!”

This immediately caused River to blush, which actually made Mal chuckle. “Gotta say, River. You’re lookin’ mighty fanciful for just sittin’ on a ship. You mind telling us why you’re all dressed up?”

“It’s a secret.”

“Well, then. I guess I’ll just leave you to your secrets and give you back your chair.”

But before Mal could get up, River placed a hand on his shoulder. “Can’t sit.”

Mal and Kaylee looked at each other, then looked back at River. River sighed, as if it should be obvious to anyone. “Wrinkles.”

“Ah, yes, well. Can’t have that.”

It was a few more minutes before Kaylee spoke back up. “River, you just gonna stand there all day?”

“The body is designed to withstand hours of limited physical movement.”

“I’ll take that as a yes.”


It was well into the evening before anything interesting happened. Mal was headed out of the bridge to make sure Jayne was getting ready to cook, as it was his turn, when the proximity alarm sounded. He turned back around to see what it was, when he heard what sounded like River squealing. He arrived just in time to see River punching in docking codes and coordinates.

Just as Zoe arrived, River turned around. “He’s here!” She then ran past both of them towards the docking bay.

“Sir, what’s going on?”

“I don’t know. Kaylee?”

“It’s a Falcon class scout. I didn’t even know they still existed. No ident, so can’t tell who it is Cap’n, but River’s cleared him to dock with the hatch on the underbelly.”

“Alright. Kaylee, go get the Doc, let him know what’s goin’ on. Zoe, find Jayne. I want both of you on the catwalk, prepared for anything. And tell Jayne I don’t want him carryin’ nothing that’ll tear a whole in my ship.”

“Where will you be, sir?”

“On the floor with River, so I’d ‘preciate it if neither one of you aimed in my direction.”

“We’ll do our best, sir.” With that Zoe left, with Kaylee right behind her.

Mal took a quick glance on the screens, but other than the approaching ship, didn’t see anything. “Sure wish I knew what was goin’ on.” He headed off towards Inara’s shuttle, where he had ‘misplaced’ his weapon the night before. He told her what was going on, then headed toward the hatch controls.

River was standing a few feet away from the closed hatch in the floor, looking almost nervous, and Mal could just see Simon and Kaylee in the doorway that led to the infirmary. He checked Jayne and Zoe’s position, and saw Inara just leaning out of her shuttle. He wanted her to stay out of the way, but she was as interested as everyone else.

At lease she’s in a position to get some cover, Mal thought as the sound of clamps rang through the bay. When two soft raps came from the hatch, Mal opened the doors.

------------------------- Chinese translations

bao-bei = sweetheart

mei-mei = sister

swai = pretty


Saturday, August 26, 2006 6:02 PM


C'mon, it ain't any fair that you leave us hangin' like that!
Damn cliffhangers!

Sunday, August 27, 2006 4:06 AM


Good stuff. I wanna see more of this.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 5:35 PM


Ooh...River's getting gussied up for Brian...guess this means some Academy grad flirting's about to go down;)


Friday, September 15, 2006 6:36 PM




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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.