A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 10
Sunday, October 8, 2006

A screenplay taking place not long after the events of "Serenity."



Mal and Simon meet mid-stride on the starboard catwalk. Simon was clearly in a hurry as well.

MAL: Doctor, we need to talk.

SIMON: I know, I know. Get my luny sister off the roof before there's hell to pay.

MAL: Fortunately, she's managing that all by her lonesome. Through the upper airlock, praise whoever ya like, not via the trusty law of gravity. (Simon looks relieved) Now,I can't help but be curious as to why I saw a separate set of footprints outside, aimed directly at the fore airlock.

SIMON: That... that will take some explaining.

Mal gives him a look that demands the explanation.

Inara appears at the door leading to the Infirmary, Paul directly behind her.

Mal hears their footsteps and looks their way. He does a double take.

MAL: Wasn't aware we were takin' on any new passengers. Who are you and what are you doin' on my gorram ship? (to Inara) Client?

INARA: No, Mal, he is not a client. You may not even believe me when I tell you who he is.

MAL: Worth a shot, any time now... PAUL: (politely) I'll explain for myself, Inara.(to Mal) Captain Reynolds, my name is Paul Gibson. I was in...

MAL: Well, now that we got the formalities out of the way, you can exit my boat forthwith.

INARA: (appalled) Mal...

MAL: I'm not keen on folk just showin' up at the doorstep and walkin' in like they got a spot rented.

PAUL: Neither am I, Captain. I was invited onto your ship by your crew, and made no assumptions as to the duration of that invitation.

MAL: I been meanin' to post a sign for my crew, (raises his voice for all to hear) remindin' them of who's boat this is and who has the final say on all passengers.

Paul raises a hand as a gesture of acquiescence. PAUL: Of course, Captain. Please forgive the intrusion, such as it was.

Paul crosses the cargo bay deck and heads toward the fore airlock.

River darts through the door from the Infirmary.

Paul pauses at the door. He turns to River as she runs up to meet him.

PAUL: It appears I'm not as welcome as others would have liked, nian qing de.

RIVER: Sifu, please don't go. Not yet.

MAL:(descending stairs) Seafood? What kind of pet name is that? INARA:(mild exasperation) Sifu. It means master, among many other things. Paul was River's instructor at the Academy.

MAL:(approaching Paul) And am I supposed to just... Wait a sec. Did you say Academy? As in Alliance Academy.

Jayne's hand creeps toward the pistol on his hip. Zoe stiffens.

PAUL: Formerly of the Alliance Academy, yes. I was an elite combat instructor.

MAL: Formerly. As in not no more. As in you've renounced your imperical ways and resigned yourself to a life of poverty and holiness. Quite a load for us to believe. Trust ain't asked for, Seafood. It's earned.

PAUL: (calm and Zen-like)I never asked for your trust, Captain

MAL: You did the moment you stepped onto this boat.

INARA: And he's done nothing to violate that trust, only explained his history as it relates to River. Mal, why are you being so hostile?

River steps closer to Paul, her eyes pleading.

RIVER: Sifu, you need to come with us.

MAL: He don't “need” to do nothin', child, but make his exit.

River turns on Mal, her brow furrowed in anger.

Simon steps forward.

SIMON: Captain, perhaps you're forgetting my sister's other “qualification...” She would know if he was lying. (looks at River to see the look of gratitude there)

MAL: And I can't help but wonder if her judgment ain't clouded by their history.

RIVER:(quiet, ominous) It's not a matter of judgment. It's a matter of knowledge. I know what he thinks and how he feels... And I know how you feel. You're afraid...

Mal is taken aback by River's bold statement. He steps close to her.

MAL:(quiet, intense) You're askin' for a lot of faith, little one. And that ain't somethin' I got in hefty supply.

PAUL: Honestly, Captain, I hadn't yet decided whether or not to inquire as to passage aboard your ship. Your people, on the other hand, have been trying to recruit me for nearly an hour.

MAL: Well, we're off this dust ball of a planet in ten minutes, one way or the other.

Zoe appears by Paul's side and places a firm hand on his shoulder.

ZOE: We'd be happy to have you aboard, Paul. Or should I call you Sifu?

Mal slowly turns an appalled stare on Zoe.

ZOE: If River thinks the world of you, then that should be good enough for all of us.(Mal's mouth opens to protest) You trust her to pilot this ship. I think it's time to expand on that trust. Paul, there's a couple of empty bunks, if you want one. One'll just need to be cleaned out. And, of course, you have to pitch in like everyone else.

Paul's gaze shifts back and forth between Mal and Zoe. Pan around to the expectant and hopeful faces of the crew.

Click to go to Ch. 11

Click to go back to Ch. 9


Monday, October 9, 2006 2:16 AM


Zoe is trusting this stranger? Now that could have an effect on the landscape!

"Seafood" (snork!). Reminds me of the bar scene in "The Train Job", where Jayne is trying to figure out why it's a "suspicious" day...

Monday, October 9, 2006 10:16 AM


Well, I sure didn't see Zoe speaking up for Paul like that without so much as a hint of suspicion. Zoe does not trust easily but here we have her ignoring the man she has walked through hell with and trusting someone she has now half a minute. Oh yeah, that makes sense. Looks like he doesn't have any control over his *crew* at all, not even any respect. Everybody with an opinion and so far no one has actually explained Paul's presence properly to the Captain just expecting him to accept a stranger - and one from the Academy with Alliance connections - on to his boat. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, October 9, 2006 11:22 AM


Finally, some negative criticism. I appreciate your honesty. I know it's a hard pill to swallow, but here's how I pictured the scene. Mal is a bit more suspicious than before, (recall Episode 1 - Serenity when he allowed Kaylee to screen prospective passengers), and is prone to over-protective reactions.

Zoe is going on her faith in River, who has proven rather proficient at saving their hides as well as reading the intentions of folk. And Zoe has always helped Mal make tough decisions, especially where he may have made a wrong one. Not to mention, Zoe's pretty good at figuring people out, as well. Paul has been very up-front about his former Alliance ties. He's not hiding that fact.

Anyway, I like that you're not sure about the situation. That's cool.

Rob O.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 4:26 PM


Not aping Alison here...but I too find Zoe's reaction to be a tad bit OOC, even if she was relying on River's judgements. I get the bad feeling that you're gonna have Mal be right in the end...and set a scary precident concerning River's abilities:(

Still...I am totally engrossed in this storyline, as I really want to see some 1-on-1 between Mal and Paul;)


Saturday, February 17, 2007 9:54 PM


Seafood? What kind of pet name is that?

:snorts: Perfect Mal line.

Trust ain't asked for, Seafood. It's earned.

And another :)


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