A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 24
Friday, November 17, 2006

Another continuation of a screenplay taking place not long after the events of "Serenity."



Mal exits Inara's shuttle port and looks down at the cargo bay deck. Jayne and Kaylee are busy dismantling the temporary net and stowing it in a wall compartment. Paul is unstacking the crates he'd sat on before, reducing them to acceptable heights.

MAL: (descending stairs) 'Preciate that, Seafood. You're pullin' your weight and then some.

PAUL: Thank you, sir. (looks straight up at the suspended mule) I've been meaning to ask you. Is your mule running? Looks a bit damaged.

MAL: She's needin' some work, yeah.

PAUL: I could take a look at her, if you'd like.

MAL: Not sure what good it'll do. She's needin' some parts I don't yet have on hand.

Jayne snorts, hefting a large crate and stacking it on another. He brushes off his hands and stalks up the stairs.

PAUL: I'm sure that's true. Wouldn't mind giving it a try, though.

MAL: Be my guest. Winch control's over there. Just take her slow. Crushin' me or any of the crew, 'cept Jayne, is grounds for deportation. (Paul nods) Good. I'll be on the Bridge.

Kaylee approaches Paul as Mal ascends the stairs to the fore passage.

KAYLEE: I took a look at her. One of the anti-grav couplings is busted all to heck. And the coolant drive is leakin' real bad.

PAUL: That would cost a small fortune to have repaired, just in parts alone. What do you say we take a look together.

Kaylee shrugs.

Kaylee lowers the mule to five feet off the deck. She and Paul walk to nearly underneath it. Paul reaches up and touches the burned and twisted area of the port anti-grav coupling.

PAUL: She's been worked over, that's for sure.

KAYLEE: Captain and the others were runnin' from Reavers. They flew in here with Serenity on the move so we could make a quick getaway.

PAUL: (still inspecting the coupling, distracted) A barn swallow, eh? Never heard of anyone pulling that off...

KAYLEE: You ever seen 'em? Reavers?

PAUL: I'm pleased to say, no. But I've heard the stories out there on the Rim. Folk don't get that scared a look in their eye from fiction.

KAYLEE: I know I ain't never been so scared. When we got cornered... If River hadn't been there, we'd have been...(she closes her eyes, as if to ward off the memory)

PAUL: (stops his inspection to look at Kaylee)But you made it out alive, Kaylee. That's all that really matters. Dealing in abstract hypotheticals will drive you mad. Especially ugly ones. What do you say we get to work?

KAYLEE: (looks at the lame mule, then back at Paul like he's grown another head) Get to work? Whatya...?

PAUL: Here's what we'll need...


River sits at the helm, Mal standing directly behind her, his arms crossed, dressed in his normal attire. Zoe stands off to his left.

Through the windshield we see that it's dusk, with a small but well-lit town in the distance.

MAL: Put down 'bout four miles out...

River is already complying, bringing Serenity to land as gently as before. Mal just shakes his head with a grin. Zoe looks as proud as a school teacher.

Mal opens his mouth to say something to River, but...

RIVER: Look after Simon, will you? He seems to trip over his own feet in the world.

Mal nods and smiles his understanding.

MAL: Will do, little one. My how the roles do change.

Mal exits the bridge. Zoe remains with River.

ZOE: I hope those two can get along.

RIVER: They will. They never say it, but they've developed a mutual respect stemming from recent events.

ZOE: I can't tell you what it takes to earn the captain's respect. I'm not sure if he even knows. I think it happens without him realizing it.

RIVER: Men. So complicated for such simple creatures.

Zoe laughs that warm, heart-felt laugh that lights up the room.


Mal descends the fore/starboard stairs to see Paul and Kaylee working feverishly on the mule, Simon watching with fascination.

Mal hits the deck and approaches, his face curious.

MAL: Kaylee, what the heck...?

KAYLEE: (popping her head up) Oh, hey Cap'n. You ain't gonna believe what Paul's done.

PAUL: (tightening something with a wrench) Just a little creative engineering. (stands up straight) Fire her up.

Kaylee leaps up into the pilot's seat and toggles some switches. The mule growls to life, rising a few inches to release the tension on the winch cable.

Mal smiles like a kid on Christmas morning.

MAL: Son of a... I don't believe it. (to Paul)Seafood, I don't know much about machines and their workings, but I know a mechanical miracle when I see one. (slaps Paul on the back and tussles Kaylee's hair) You have just saved me several pockets of coin and even more miles o' walkin'.

PAUL: Kaylee did most of the work, I just... advised. (wipes his hands with a rag, indicates the anti-grav unit) It'll do for a spell. We had to fabricate a couple of parts and do some re-routing, but it'll hold for a while. Still could use some replacement parts. And I wouldn't run her too hard. The patch job on the coolant drive can take only so much pressure.

Mal is still shaking his head in wonder. Simon hugs Kaylee proudly.

SIMON: I always thought of you as a miracle-worker. (looks at Paul) And now we have two.

KAYLEE: (elbows Simon in the gut) Three. We fix machines, you fix people.

PAUL: She has a point, doctor.

MAL: Hate to break up this little love-fest, but we got a meeting needs gettin' to, doc.

SIMON: Of course. (kisses Kaylee on the cheek)We'd better get moving. We don't want to get into town too late.

MAL: Might give folk the wrong impression.

PAUL: You said you're heading to an eye clinic, correct?

SIMON: Yes, why?

PAUL: It would reduce suspicion further if one of you were to have an ocular... mishap.

MAL: For a man schooled in honorable ways, you have a fairly deceptive streak.

SIMON: He's right. I'll be right back.

Simon quickly walks through the aft door to the Infirmary, Kaylee on his heels. Mal looks pointedly at Paul.

MAL: Don't recall discussin' the plan with you, Seafood.

PAUL: My apologies, captain. It was not my intention to eavesdrop earlier. I was actually quite hungry.

MAL: Any of our activities giving you a moment's pause?

PAUL: No. I find myself inclined to assist in whatever small way I can.

MAL: You've made yourself abundantly useful these last couple o' days. I'd thank you, but then you'd get all swelled in the head and there'd be no flyin' with you.

Paul smiles at this. It will do.

Click to go to Ch. 25

Click to go back to Ch. 23


Saturday, November 18, 2006 3:21 PM


Man, everytime Mal calls Paul 'Seafood', it makes me smile.
The interaction between Mal, River and Zoe on the Bridge...priceless.

I wonder if Kaylee harbours any jealousy towards Paul for his wizardry with the mule (and likely other machines)...she might feel a little useless.

And just where did Simon get to?

Great chapter.

Sunday, November 19, 2006 4:59 AM


And all this time I thought Kaylee was the mechanical genius! Better not let Seafood be too adept or Kaylee might grow a mean streak and seek revenge (yeah right!).


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