BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA

SHAYZ

SHADOWS PUPPETS - ACT II
Monday, June 14, 2004

MAL’S PAST AND RIVER’S PRESENT SEEM TO HAVE MORE IN COMMON THAN FIRST BELIEVED.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1602    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

SHADOWS PUPPETS By Shayz ACT II

FADE IN:

INT. SMALL CARGO SHIP – CORRIDOR – RUNNER’S POV

FULL TILT PANIC: Unsteady, running in boots, heavy breathing. Woman’s hand on the wall—bloody, leaves a print.

Agonized SCREAMS from behind could be male or female.

Spinning around…looking down corridor…hearing FOOTSTEPS. Turning, running again, up steps into-

INT. SMALL CARGO SHIP – KITCHEN – CONTINUING

-stumbles, hits floor hard, WHIMPERS, gets up and runs again. MORE SCREAMS!

Looks back again.

WOMAN (off camera; hoarse whispered voice; sob): Craig!

Looks around kitchen for a weapon, tosses utensils, opens cupboards…finds knife; pretty wimpy, CURSES and tosses knife aside.

Leaves kitchen by another door into-

INT. SMALL CARGO SHIP – CORRIDOR – CONTINUING

-makes a turn and goes up metal stairs—noisy.

INT. SMALL CARGO SHIP – CATWALK – CONTINUING

Coming off the stairs above the open CARGO BAY. LOOKS DOWN: 3 bodies on the floor. Runner takes spiral staircase down to-

INT. SMALL CARGO SHIP – CARGO BAY – CONTINUING

-cargo bay floor.

Touches one body: female—middle age—blood coming from eyes, nose and mouth. WHIMPERS.

Backs away, stumbles, checks the next body: female—young teen, same blood patterns. ANGUISHED CRY. Scrambles to third victim: Male 20’s, also dead in the same fashion.

1ST MAN (OS – calm): There.

LOOKS up at catwalk – SEEING: MAN IN SUIT wearing blue gloves. Stumbles backwards, turns suddenly—

A 2nd MAN IN SUIT with blue gloves is behind her. He holds her by the shoulders.

2ND MAN: It’s time to go home.

WOMAN (off-camera; hoarse whisper): This is my home.

The 1st Man comes down the stairs and joins them.

1ST MAN: She’s confused…been away too long. Don’t you know who you are?

The 2nd Man turns her around and she’s standing in front of a mirror (yeah, out of nowhere). Runner is RIVER!

INT. SERENITY — RIVER’S ROOM — CONTINUING

River’s sleeping and her eyes snap open.

INT. SHUTTLE — CONTINUING

Kaylee’s under the console, pushes a couple of plugs together and the ship powers up with a WHINE.

KAYLEE: That gotcha.

She pulls herself up and sits in the pilots chair, mussed a bit by the work. She leans back in the chair, getting comfy and waiting for the ship to finish it’s sequence.

KAYLEE (cont.): That’s a good girl.

INT. SERENITY — BRIDGE — CONTINUING

Wash is on the CORTEX and getting stumped at every turn. He hits the board in frustration. Zoe comes in from the corridor to join him.

ZOE: Anything yet?

WASH: Ugh! That’s what I’ve got a whole lot of ugh. Those shuttles haven’t been in service for at least ten years…that the public knows. (pause) I thought you were going to bed.

ZOE: Decided to wait up so we could have dessert.

WASH: At this rate, it’s not gonna happen sweet-cakes. I can’t find anything more specific about that shuttle unless I use the ID and if I do that, it just might bring the ‘verse down on us, right?

ZOE: Sure could.

WASH: I’m just not into the whole stealth thing. That’s you and Mal. I’m more of the…ask a direct question and get a slap in the face kinda guy.

ZOE: Seems I married me an honest man.

WASH: Yep…well, semi-honest…sorry.

She kisses the top of his head.

ZOE: I’ve been thinking.

WASH: Always a good thing.

ZOE: Maybe there is a way to do this through honest back channels.

WASH: And not get caught?

ZOE: That’d be the notion.

WASH: How?

INT. INARA’S SHUTTLE – CONTINUING

Wash and Zoe sit on the sofa as Inara puts on a robe.

ZOE: Sorry to wake you.

INARA: I wasn’t sleeping. Not really. What can I do for you?

Wash and Zoe exchange a look.

WASH: We were hoping…uh…

ZOE: Could you do some research for us?

WASH: Yeah, research.

INARA (sits across from them): What kind of research?

ZOE (uncomfortable): Clandestine. On the Cortex.

INARA: Oh…I’m intrigued. Looking for a nice getaway spot?

WASH: Uh, no.

ZOE: The shuttle…the Alliance one…we were hoping you might be able to track it…without raising any suspicions.

INARA (gets up quickly): Oh. I’d really rather not get involved. Mal—

ZOE: I’m worried about the captain, Inara. He’s not…himself…

INT. SERENITY — KITCHEN — CONTINUING

Dimly lit, Mal’s at the table with his back to the corridor, alone and contemplating his mug. He downs the contents, sets the mug carefully on the table next to a very old whisky bottle. He pours another shot and downs that too. He’s comfortably numb.

A heavy sigh, he closes his eyes and slouches in the chair…remembering…his eyes move under heavy lids.

MRS. REYNOLDS (far-away; VO): I warned you to stop teasing that girl, she’s—

MR. HALLADAY (far-away; VO): Special, lad. Just like her mamma. A miracle, she is. (laugh) Unfortunately, she knows it.

MRS. REYNOLDS (far-away; VO): I know you have a liking for that young Jess, Malcolm…but she’s different…I heard rumors…’bout how her mama died…the government was involved.

JESS (far-away; VO): (chuckle) Don’t cross me Reynolds…I’ll kick your ass from here to the Core.

Out of the darkness, soft hands cover his eyes, but he doesn’t make a move. He smiles. A woman’s mouth moves close to his ear.

WOMAN (deep whisper): Surprise.

MAL: Been expecting you.

WOMAN: I must be gettin’ predictable.

The hands leave his eyes and move down, caressing his neck and chest. Mal’s eyes remain closed.

MAL: Not likely. Where you been hiding?

WOMAN: Underneath.

MAL: Underneath what?

WOMAN: Deep in the shadows. Unaware…(runs the tip of her tongue along the outside rim of his ear) I’ve missed you.

MAL: Me too.

She moves closer and he rests the back of his head against her. He finally opens his eyes and looks up SEEING RIVER smiling down at him.

Mal jumps from the chair with a squirmy “I’m covered-in-spiders” dance and groans in disgust; he wipes frantically at his cootied ear.

MAL: (slightly off-balance) Ahhh! Tianna! I thought I was dreaming—

RIVER (same deep voice; moving to him): Mal?

MAL (holding up a hand to keep her back): Hao le ma…just stop right there. And the name is Captain…or Cappy even…just don’t…touch me.

RIVER (still coming at him): Is there a problem?

Mal dodges her, trying to keep the table between them.

MAL: Is there…? (disturbed laugh)

RIVER: (new realization) You’re so handsome.

MAL: Well…hey now, that’s neither here nor there…listen-

RIVER: It wasn’t too late…when you said the words.

MAL: What?

RIVER: You know what I mean, ài rén.

MAL: Ah, uh…don’t call me that. I think you need to go back to bed.

RIVER: (tries to get to him) Oh, I thought you’d never ask. (grabs his hand, pulling to the door) C’mon, let’s go.

MAL (rips his hand away and backs up A LOT): Whoa, there, River!

RIVER: Oh…(smiling) River’s not here right now.

MAL: Huh?

INT. INARA’S SHUTTLE — CONTINUING

Inara turns from the Cortex screen, having just left a message for someone.

INARA: That should do it.

WASH: You really think they can find something out without…you know…getting us killed or worse?

INARA: I trust Bella. She’d never betray my confidence. There is the problem of timing, however. If we want this to be under the Alliance radar, it can’t be blatant. It may take a while to get any information.

ZOE: It’s a start.

INARA: (to Zoe) I get the impression you don’t trust the newest passenger.

ZOE: There’s just something about her.

INT. SERENITY — KITCHEN — CONTINUING

Mal’s holding River by the shoulders at arms length.

RIVER: Just close your eyes and listen—

MAL: No. You just close your eyes and go back to bed…your sleep walking or some such thing. And, girl, when did you get so freakishly strong?

RIVER: Stop fighting me.

MAL: Not likely…River!

Mal gives her a good shake of the shoulders. River’s head snaps back and then forth. After a moment, she shakes her head, sees Mal and SCREAMS.

Mal SCREAMS and lets her go.

River runs out of the kitchen. Mal can’t shake off the creeps but follows her anyway.

INT. INARA’S SHUTTLE — CONTINUING

Wash’s watching his wife.

WASH: Wh…How could you not like her, she’s all quiet and…unconscious. Unless you think she’s some diabolic mastermind that’s going to snore us into submission.

ZOE (smacks the back of Wash’s head): I don’t trust the situation. Something is wrong and the captain isn’t really seeing it.

INARA: He’s distracted. It’s obvious this woman—whoever she is—meant a great deal to him in the past.

WASH: Had to be before the war…right hun?

ZOE: I never met her.

WASH: Has he mentioned her name?

ZOE: In the infirmary. Jess…I’ve heard the name before.

INARA: He’s spoken of her? It’s not like him to share—

ZOE: In his sleep.

WASH: Ah, in his sleep. (realization) Whoa! In his sleep? Is there something we should be talking about in private lamby-toes?

ZOE (smacks his head again): At the start of the war…her name slipped out in mumbles…but he refused talk about anything relating to Shadow. I got the notion it hurt too damn much. Once we were entrenched with the fighting…not much got thought about besides stayin’ alive, so the mumbles stopped.

INARA: Shadow. I remember that was one of the first planets pulled into Unification.

WASH: Burned into it, is more the like. Shadow had resources the Alliance needed. So they took ‘em all.

INT. SERENITY – COMMON AREA – CONTINUING

Mal stomps in, looking for River, but SEES BOOK in the infirmary, hovering over Jess. Mal steps into-

INT. SERENITY – INFIRMARY – CONTINUING

-and comes up on the opposite side of the exam table, raising a question with his eyes.

BOOK: I’m giving Simon a reprieve. Watchin’ over her, in case she should stir.

MAL: Oh, she’s stirrin’ alright. Stirrin’ up a mess of trouble. (leans over her) Playing mind games again, ài rén? Wake up, you (trans: stubborn, pain in the ass witch)!

BOOK: Problems captain?

MAL: (stands up) That’d be the norm around here. (Rubs hands over face) Without gettin’ all preachifyin’ on me, shepherd…where do you sit on the psychic fence?

BOOK: Fences give me splinters, son. I’m a believer.

MAL: Isn’t that against the rules or some such thing?

BOOK: As far back as humanity goes…there have always been profits and healers… some say witches…folks of great power whether blessed with it or cursed by it. Take River—

MAL: Not taking River—

BOOK: —for example…the folks at the Academy weren’t searching for her spirit, they were probing and manipulating her latent genetic material. It’s basic biology…inherited genes.

MAL: Slept durin’ science class, shepherd.

BOOK: I’m of the thinking that River was always intuitive. Psychic even, though no one knew it as such. She simply knew all she needed to know.

MAL: My notion…the government knew. Figure they had number crunchers going all over the ‘verse checkin’ for anomalies like River…and Jess. River said something that…(pause; thinking) This genetic stuff, can it be made?

BOOK: That’d be a question for Simon…body parts aside, there’s been the cloning, however…only God can make a soul—

MAL: Leanin’ toward the book thumping—

RIVER: She is me.

Mal and Book turn to see River nuzzling the door to the infirmary. Mal does the “spider shudder” again.

RIVER (cont.) (to Mal) Icky.

MAL: Yeah.

RIVER (cont.) (to Jess): End over end, verse turned bottom to top, all backwards. Sucked into a black hole…underneath…can’t be watched…can’t be found. Tells me…talks to me… becomes…

MAL (points at patient): Jess.

RIVER: Yes… and no.

BOOK: Quite the contradiction.

RIVER: She is me…(points at Jess) Not her.

MAL: Usually enjoy the riddles River, disturbing as ever—

RIVER: Struggling…twisting…eye of the storm…crushed by gravity…time means nothing…in the black. Out in full light another sees—

JESS (sitting up suddenly): Cào nî zû xian shí bâ dai!

Mal and Book jerk and back up.

JESS (cont.) (sees them): Who the hell are you?!

END OF ACT II

COMMENTS

Monday, June 14, 2004 9:04 PM

AMDOBELL


Aaaah! Jumped my own self at the end! Good myth. This is a very original story and I am loving it. Talk about the creepifying not quite corpsified stuff, very good and very much wanting more. Shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, June 14, 2004 10:06 PM

GUILDSISTER


Fascinating story. Loved the "spider shudder" bit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004 2:53 AM

JEBBYPAL


still great. very suspenseful and shuddery...you had me during the river mal scene, really thought we were in flashback mode for a minute

Wednesday, June 16, 2004 6:39 AM

ANONYMOUS


Likin' this in all kinds of ways! The characters are dead-on, and I love the touches of humor. I can soooo see this playing out like an episode I'm watching in my head. Keep going!
Ms.Sam


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