A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 28
Thursday, December 7, 2006

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



Paul is running full out, quickly approaching the mule. He is about thirty yards away when he jams to a halt and crouches low.

Paul's POV - Looks ahead ten yards to the right and to the left. Two identical mounds of underbrush are moving away from him slowly, as if crawling. Paul squints. Rifles protrude from both mounds, one with a grenade launcher mounted beneath it's barrel. Both are aimed at the cloud of dust and smoke that has enveloped the mule.

CU Paul's face. He takes on a very determined look. He looks over his shoulders.

Paul's POV - no other mounds are visible. Whip back to two original mounds.


Mal and Simon are still next to the mule, trying to see through the cloud.

MAL: We gotta get outta this soup. (takes Simon by the arm)

Mal pulls Simon in one direction, which ends up being away from the crawling mounds. Mal waves his hand before his face, attempting to see through the cloud. The dust is beginning to settle and blow away as they stumble a few more steps.

They both call out in surprise as they suddenly tumble into the small crater created by the explosion. They are a tangle of arms and legs for a few seconds before they extricate and end up on their backs, looking up out of the hole.

Mal/Simon POV - Two forms materialize from the haze, humanoid figures dressed head to toe in heavy camouflage consisting of thick clothing, rags, and shrubbery pieces. Their rifles are aimed squarely between Mal and Simon's eyes.

CU of Mal's eyes as they widen. Whip to same shot of Simon, eyes also wide.


Zoe and Jayne are jogging across the landscape, weapons at the ready. Jayne is peering through his rifle scope.

JAYNE: Too much smoke. Can't spot a gorram one of 'em.

ZOE: Just keep it quiet. Whoever hit 'em must still be out here. (beat)Let's flank.

Jayne nods and branches out to the right. Zoe swings wide to the left, never taking her eyes off the smokey scene before her.


The two assault soldiers don't utter a word as they continue aiming their rifles at Mal and Simon for a couple more seconds. Mal and Simon are frozen, helpless in their current position.

The soldier on the right crumbles to the ground. His partner swings his rifle to bear, only to have it harshly kicked from his hands. It lands in the hole with Mal and Simon. Mal grabs it, fumbling to his feet, assisting Simon.

Paul stands before the soldier, appearing relaxed. The soldier shrugs off his camo, pulling a knife from its sheath on his hip, gripping it combat style in his right hand.

PAUL: It's in your best interest to answer some questions.

Without a word, the soldier lunges at him, slashing with the knife. Paul sidesteps with graceful ease, subtle movement of his hands and feet sending the soldier to the ground squarely on his face. The man jumps up, takes another slash at Paul, then turns to run. Paul is on him in an instant, ramming a knee into the upper middle of his back. The man goes down on his face again, but this time tucks into a nice somersault and springs back to his feet, knife at the ready.

Paul smiles.

PAUL: You have spirit, I'll give you that.

Paul feints high with a jab, drawing the soldier's hands high. Paul then snaps a front kick into his abdomen, which brings his hands back down, only to catch a high roundhouse kick to the side of the head. The movements are almost a blur. The soldier stumbles to his right, then slashes at Paul again. Paul steps inside the arc of the swing, grabbing the wrist of the attacking hand and pulling the soldier's body toward his right elbow, thus burying it in the man's diaphram. The man's wind is gone in a rush. Paul spins him with a wrist manipulation and lands a ridge hand to the back of his neck. The soldier's body goes limp and he collapses, Paul easing his descent with his hand still on the man's knife hand wrist, though that hand is now empty. Paul kneels on the solider's abdomen as he locks the man's wrist in an unnatural z-pattern.

Mal and Simon scramble from the crater while this is happening. Mal checks the already downed soldier's carotid pulse with his free hand. He looks at Simon.

MAL: (mildly surprised) Still alive. (looks at Paul and soldier)

Paul brings his face very close to the soldier's.

PAUL: Now, where were we? I believe you were going to explain why you were attempting to end my friends here.

SOLDIER:Weren't gonna...kill 'em.

MAL: (beating dust from his coat) Coulda fooled me. (aims the rifle at the soldier's face) So, make me a believer.

The soldier swallows hard. He looks from side to side. He's actually quite young.

PAUL: (gently) No time to think, boy. For the moment, your condition's temporary. That can change very quickly.

SOLDIER: If we'd meant to kill ya, you'd be dead. (wince) We're just s'posed to bring you in.

MAL: There's easier ways to get our attention.

Jayne and Zoe appear through the haze, weapons trained. They quickly assess the situation and lower them.

ZOE: Situation under control, sir?

MAL: Such as it is. We were just havin' a little meet-'n-greet with Captain Bad-ass here.

Paul twists the man's wrist a fraction more. He grunts with pain.

PAUL: Your span is shortening exponentially by the moment. Who wants these folk so badly?

SOLDIER: (shakes head) Sorry. I won't be your... (slightest of crackling sound) gaaahhh!

Simon closes his eyes and turns his head. Zoe, Mal, and Jayne are stoic and unwavering. This is a normal part of their world.

PAUL: It's not broken yet. (adjusts his grip slightly) Shall I continue?

The man is wimpering in agony.

SOLDIER: Damn you clear to the hot place! (Paul applies some more pressure) Gaahhhaaahhhaaall right, you spawn of a whore...!

ZOE: Such language for a young'un.

PAUL: Speak quickly, son.

SOLDIER: (through a painful grimace) Niska. Adelai Niska. Said he wanted a word with you.

Everyone but Paul does a double-take.

MAL: (under his breath) Son of a bitch...

ZOE: (looking at Mal) What is that [chinese: reptile] doing this deep into the Core?

PAUL: Anything else?

SOLDIER: Just had to keep ya'll alive. Said he just wanted to talk to ya.

MAL: How come there's only two o' you? Not the usual team Niska likes to send.

SOLDIER: (grimacing) Don't pay like he used to. Said you hurt his business. His... reputation.

That last word strikes a chord with Mal and Zoe.

JAYNE: (scornfully) Don't tell me yer still scared o' that little psycho dandy.

MAL: Not so much, no. But he's a complication we could do without right about now. (to the soldier) We ain't gonna kill ya, boy. (places a hand on Paul's soldier) You go back to Niska and tell him we were... disinclined.

Paul releases the man's wrist and stands up.

Soldier's POV. Paul silhouetted by the smoky night sky. He looks more dangerous than ever before, though his face is impassive.

SOLDIER: Don't expect the same courtesy, we cross again.

PAUL: (ominously) And you shouldn't, either. (backs away from soldier)

MAL: Let's go.

Jayne “bumps” the soldier as they all walk away, tipping him over and forcing him to stop his fall with his right hand. He cries out in pain. Jayne doesn't look back.

JAYNE: (jogging to catch up) We leavin' the mule?

Click to go to Ch. 29

Click to go back to Ch. 27


Friday, December 8, 2006 1:22 AM


Excellent, though I am suspicious that Niska only sent two men. Makes me wonder who else might be hiding or sneaking up on them from another direction. Really good that Paul was there to get them out of that tight spot. Loved Jayne's reaction too. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 8, 2006 4:57 PM


Oh...this don't bode well. Adelai Niska, wanting to "talk" with Mal & co.? Yeah...I find that hard to believe:(

Still...I can see that River had a fine teacher in Paul for CQC fighting. Man's a machine!



Monday, December 11, 2006 4:26 AM


First of all: Niska? Damn! That guy can only be bad news of the bloody and violent kind, something that I personally have no problem with. But Niska man, he just so...old.

Second of all: BWAHAHAHAHA. I shouldn't laugh, because Niska is truly evil and something of a hardcore sadist. But he's so far down on the crime lord food chain he can only afford to send two guys after Mal-a guy he quite clearly can be obsessed about having (and let's not forget, has) killed.

And Lordy do I love Seafood. He's such a kickass, hardcore fellow.

Awesome chapter!


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