A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 20
Saturday, October 14, 2006

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



View across upper area from port catwalk to starboard. A friendly ruckus can be heard below. View travels downward to see Kaylee, Jayne, River, and Zoe engaged in a rousing game of volleyball.

Mal and Simon stand off to the side, waiting to sub in. The gray rubber ball that serves most sports purposes on Serenity is being bounced back and forth over a makeshift net strung between the catwalks.

Paul sits high on some crates as an impartial judge. Inara sits next to him, dangling her legs and laughing occasionally at the antics beneath her.

Jayne serves the ball. Kaylee, his teammate watches it fly over her head then the net. Zoe bumps it back up, River then setting it close to the net with disgusting precision. Zoe leaps through the air and spikes the ball at Jayne's feet.

JAYNE: Gorram, girl! That ain't fair!

MAL: What ain't fair is your apparent lack of knowledge of the bump, set, spike theory. We're gettin' killed “man they call me.”

SIMON: Time to sub in, I think.

Jayne grumbles as Mal steps in. Simon replaces Zoe, high-fiving as they pass. Zoe wipes her face with a towel as she climbs the stairs to the fore passage.

Kaylee kicks the ball under the net to Simon, who picks it up and dribbles it twice. He's obviously handled a ball before.

SIMON: Eight serving two.

Simon lofts the ball and pops it over the net, more horizontal than vertical. Mal bumps it up, Kaylee sets, and Mal taps it over the net. It falls near River.

SIMON: Mei-mei!

River seems to wait til the last possible moment, then taps the ball up into the air with an impossible reach shot. Simon doesn't have to move his feet to set the ball. Mal and Kaylee scramble to set up a defense as the ball drops near the net.

River appears to float through the air as she leaps up to the net and hammers the ball directly at Mal.

Mal reflexively strikes the ball, sending it straight up high til it almost touches the mule hanging from the winch. It's still in-bounds.

MAL: A-ha!

Kaylee jumps up and smacks the ball back over the net, trying to drop it on Simon and River's rear line.

Simon dives, striking the ball wildly. River jumps, springs off a waist-high crate and taps the ball over the net in an impossibly fluid series of movements.

Mal is finally able to jam the ball into the deck just out of Simon's reach.

MAL: Ha! No power in the 'verse, doc.

Simon smirks. Mal serves.

ZOE: C'mon, doc. Don't take that fe-hua.

Simon bumps, River sets, and Simon drills the ball at Mal. He tries to deflect, but the ball sails up onto the port catwalk.

SIMON: (without sarcasm) Perhaps one power in the 'verse...

Paul stands up on the stack of crates and jumps up to the catwalk. He retrieves the ball and tosses it down to Simon and River. Paul then vaults back down to his stack of crates.

The game resumes with similar banter.

INARA: You seem to be fitting in well.

PAUL: (not taking his eyes off the game below)I've managed to make myself reasonably useful.

INARA: I would say so. We'd have all been unconscious if not for you, floating god-knows where. I shudder to think of the possibilities.

PAUL: I try not to dwell on such things. They're irrelevant. One can attempt to plan for as many eventualities as possible, but even the best-laid plans tend to be... tenuous in nature.

INARA: (indicating the crew) We know that better than most. “Plan” has become a relative term here. In our world, the difficulty of the plan is usually inversely proportionate to the difficulty of its execution.

Paul smiles at this, his eyes still on the rowdy game below.

PAUL: Well, one must learn to be... adaptable. We live in a universe of illusion. Safety, security, freedom; they're all conjurings of our own making. No matter how strongly we believe in them, or how hard we fight to keep them, they can be snatched away in an instant. I make no assumptions about the future. All that concerns me is the moment, and how I conduct myself within it.

River jumps and spikes, the ball hitting the deck at the rearmost corner of Mal and Kaylee's zone.

MAL: (to Paul) In or out? I couldn't tell.

PAUL: (without hesitation)In. (back to Inara)River there is proof-positive that even with the most affluent up-bringing...

JAYNE: No ruttin' way that was in!

Paul raises an eyebrow at him, his face otherwise unemotional.

MAL: I trust ya. (captain's voice) Jayne...

Jayne snorts and turns his attention back to the game.

Zoe appears at the top of the stairs.

ZOE: We're within two hours of Sihnon, sir.

MAL: (catching the ball) Time to be prettyin' up, then. (climbs stairs to landing, eye level with Inara and Paul)

INARA: You're not planning on wearing a dress again, I hope. (off Paul's look) It's a long story.

MAL: Not that kind o' pretty.


SIMON (VO): I do not believe it.

Click to go to Ch. 21

Click to go back to Ch. 19


Saturday, October 14, 2006 5:32 PM


Paul does seem to be fitting in well. So well, in fact, that something must be afoot!

And what does Simon not believe...??

Saturday, October 14, 2006 9:59 PM


Nice little cliffhanger.

I'm liking Paul more and more. Initially I personally thought he was an ass, but now he's cool.

Bring on more!

Friday, May 11, 2007 6:14 PM


Okay, so I went back and caught up to this point. I must say I'm intrigued by the plot, and I love Mal's dialog. It's spot-on! Can't wait to read more, but must sleep first! Great work!


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