Buccaneers - act one
Monday, December 11, 2006

"Imagine the worst thing that you can do to a character, then do it."-Bujold. (Heads up, Zoe!) Two weeks after the BDM, Serenity's on a job in familiar territory.



Int – a border world bar. A man is bashing out a can-can on a beaten upright piano while three saloon girls dance. Watching them is Jayne, but his gaze frequently flicks across the room. In the corner of the bar sits Zoe, her drink barely touched, leaning back for maximum visibility, minimum noticeability. Around a table sit five men playing cards, a good sized pot in the centre: one folds, then another, bringing the bet to Mal. Mal See, here’s the thing. I’m not holding much, but I figure that, drawing to an inside straight an all, you’re not neither.

Mal sees the bet. Jayne’s just a bit more interested. A look suddenly sweeps Zoe’s face; she gets up and hurries through a door to the back. The next gambler looks hard then…

Mong Cao zhe

He tosses his hand in, leaving only one player facing Mal, Jethro.

Jethro What is it, one in a hundred shot, drawing to an inside straight? Mal Might not be that. Jethro But sometimes, that one comes out.

Gloatingly, he reveals his cards and starts to sweep up the pot. Mal’s left hand slaps down to stop him, his right hovers near his gunbelt.

Mal And sometimes, one comes from where it ain’t never been before. Jethro You accusin’ me of (beat) cheatin’.

Sudden silence: Piano stops, dancers freeze, bartender slips his hands under the bar, Jayne leans forward.

Mal I’m accusing you of pullin’ that 4 out of your partner’s hand. Don’t know if that’s cheatin’ round here, but I’ll not be payin’ out on the bet.

Jethro releases the pot: Mal releases Jethro. They both stand up and back. Suddenly Jethro goes for his gun but Mal’s gun is in his face before he can clear his holster.

Mal Now I’m takin’ back my fair share of that pot, which is all of it, seein’ as I had a pair of 4s dealt to me.

Mong, who had moved out of line of fire, slowly starts to a draw a sidearm of his own. There is a loud chunk of a heavy pistol being cocked. Jayne is pointing his weapon at Mong.

Jayne Don’t you be getting any heroical ideas in your head, not unless you’re not fixin’ to be attached to it much longer.

There’s a much smaller click. One of the saloon girls is pointing a very small pistol at Jayne, from all of six inches.

Chrissy Good advice, big man. Jayne Cao wo zhe bian.

He looks over to the corner of the bar where Zoe isn’t. The door she went out is conspicuously closed.

Jayne Now why the di yu did she go to the gorram crapper?

Fade to…



Int – same border world bar. Fade up from black. The tension is obvious on Mal’s face, suppressed fury on Jayne’s. The three locals with guns look deadly serious.

Mal Now this surely ain’t a pretty sight. Bourne (off) You’re not wrong.

Everyone turns. It’s Bourne, the Paradiso Sheriff, and two deputies. The deputies have their rifles pointing more or less at the protagonists; the sheriff’s rifle is slung over his shoulder. He knows there won’t be gunplay now.

Bourne See, I’ve got these two rules about where and when people are allowed to use guns in my town. No where. No when. And you folks seem to be mightily close to breakin’ them. (He ambles over during the following, disarming each in turn.) Chrissy, what’s a nice girl like you doin’ a dumb thing like this. Big ugly stranger (Jayne) – figures you’d not be smart. Mong, I’m surprised at you cause I guessed you for knowin’ better. Medicine man (Mal) – you do bring excitement to town. Mal Anythin’ to lighten up a dreary day for a workin’ man. Bourne I reckon I prefer the dreary. (Beat) And Jethro… weren’t overnight in the lock up enough last time. Jethro He were accusin’ me of cheatin’ at cards. Bourne That’s cause you’re a gorram card cheat. What the di yu is Brenda gonna say when you don’t come home tonight, nor tomorrow night neither? Jethro (Suddenly scared) Now that ain’t fair. I didn’t shoot nothin’ and no-one. Deputy I think she might just about move out this time. Bourne Let’s just say, I hope you git a smooth present before you walk through that door, cause she’s goin’ to stick it shang sheng ai xiansuo. Jethro Please, Sheriff, I’m askin’ yuh… Deputy Made no difference last time. Jethro Sheriff, please… Bourne Jethro, I catch you play cards again, cheatin’ or not, I’m gonna shoot you myself. You understandin’ me? Jethro Yessir. Bourne Now git.

Jethro leaves to the street. Mong and Chrissy disappear together out the back door, passing Zoe coming in.

Bourne (To Mal) It’s your occasional wife. (Disarms Zoe) Any registered companions about? (Makes a show of looking.) No… I think you three might go back to the gaol and I’ll have me some words.

Int – the Paradiso gaol. Mal, Zoe and Jayne are standing together, unarmed and uncomfortable, watched by two deputies. Their guns are being examined by the Sheriff, his feet resting on a large box. He picks up Jayne’s massive “handgun”.

Bourne Big and ugly. Jayne (Offended) That’s a Phoenix 8.5 mill rapid repeat with a double rifle barrel. It has the highest muzzle velocity and quickest reload rate in the verse. It’s the single most beautiful sidearm ever made. Bourne Weren’t talkin’ about the gun. (Picks up Zoe’s weapon and shows it to the younger deputy.) See how this carbine’s been cut down? For close work, in buildings, on ships, anywhere you don’t want someone to notice you’ve got a weapon and accuracy don’t mean all that much – suggests criminal habits. (Zoe is unresponsive, so he picks up Mal’s pistol.) Now this is somethin’ you don’t see ever’ day anymore: standard issue Independents’ Officer’s pistol. Slightly modified – see how he filed off the sight – makes for a quicker draw. Nice brown coat yer wearin’: officer, were you? Mal (Fake bonhomie) Sergeant. I worked for my pay. Bourne So where’d you get this? Mal Half price sale.

The sheriff spends a few more moments examining the hardware. He looks Mal straight in the eye.

Bourne You know somethin’ funny. We’ve only had two major crimes round these parts in the last year, three if you count when Becky shot her old man, which I don’t cause he had it comin’ and then some. And, you know, both times there’s a major crime, you’re right here talkin’ to me. Jayne What do you count as major crime? Bourne Stealin’ medicine off a train and smugglin’ ore to Persephone. Zoe I heard that medicine was recovered. Bourne It were. In fact, I got a commendation from the Prefect for the high quality of my detectivin’ skills. It’s right behind you. Mal (Looking at a small plaque on the wall next to an enormous portrait of a pompous official) Very shiny. Jayne Smugglin’ ain’t no major crime to most folks. Bourne Depends on the folks. You know, there’s 213 families live in my territory. Some o’ them families is big’uns too, a whole passle o’ little critters all needin’ feedin’. But what they get paid by the minin’ company, well… there’s a lot o’ hungry littl’uns hereabout. Mal And the smuggled goods mean less profit, which means less pay-out and less food. Bourne Nope. Cause the Prefect don’t even know that that ore’s been dug so he don’t know what his profit is. There’s 213 families live here and 212 of them stand to benefit from this smugglin’

The sheriff kicks the lid of the box. Inside is a large quantity of ore.

Mal You’re our contact. Jayne Didn’t see that comin’ Bourne The rest is hid. I believe you have some coin for me. Mal Hid where? Bourne Don’t you trust an officer of the law? Mal Not specially. Bourne There’s a canyon not too far from town… Mal Reckon I might know it. Bourne Reckon you do. North east corner. Mal Shiny.

Mal reaches into his coat and throws a large bag of coins to the older deputy, who counts.

Bourne I believe that will cover your bail for disturbin’ the peace and gamblin’ in an honest casino… Deputy It’s good. Bourne …so yer free to go (beat) and not come back. Mal Seems to me we’re a boon to you, whenever we’re this way: found some stolen goods; swept away some unsightly dirt – even paid for the privilege. Bourne Now I found them stolen goods – got a plaque and ever’thing… Mal I saw that. Bourne Trouble is, y’ also saw me and y’ weren’t to be doin’ that. Y’ shoulda made contact with Chrissy an’ instead y’ ended up drawing on her man and his idiot friend. More’s the pity, cause I figure you’d be a more honest crook than that buzzard Declan had the job before. At least you paid the price straight up. Mal Always like a job to go smooth. Bourne Getting’ in a shoot-out with y’ contact ain’t exac’ly smooth. Still, what can’t be helped can’t be helped.

Pause. No-one moves. The sheriff looks at Mal expectantly.

Bourne You still here. Mal Our guns. Bourne Be my guest. Mal I’d rather not.

Mal tosses Zoe and Jayne their weapons before strapping his on. He tries to lift the box. Not a shit show.

Mal Heavy.

Ext – a street leading out of Paradiso. Jayne and Mal are struggling to carry the box between the two of them. Zoe is still looking less than entirely happy.

Mal Sooner we get this gorram thing on the mule the better. Jayne Bu pi hua. How come it’s got to be so ruttin’ heavy? Mal It’s dirt, Jayne. Dirt’s heavy. Jayne And how come she ain’t pullin’ her weight? Mal Only two handles, Jayne. Jayne I meant back at the bar. Why weren’t she coverin’ us when the gunplay started?

Silence Mal It’s a question I’d be lookin’ to hear the answer to… Zoe Took sick, captain. Jayne Took scared, more like.

Mal drops the box, which crashes down, taking Jayne with it.

Mal What’ve I told you ‘bout sayin’ stuff you got no call to say. Jayne I’m just sayin’ that… Mal No. No you’re not. (Pause) Now pick up that box so’s we can get out of here.

While Jayne and Mal are picking it up …

Zoe I must have eaten an unhealthsome kebab or… Mal We ain’t talkin’ about this any now. Zoe Understood, sir.

A pause while they load the box on the mule, which they’ve reached.

Mal Just watch what you eat. Zoe Understood, sir.

The mule heads off. Ext – a canyon in the desert. Overhead shot of Mal and Jayne carrying the box up Serenity’s ramp. Int – Serenity’s cargo bay. It’s a different box – the last of the load. There’s a huge pile of them and Jayne and Mal add this to the stack. The cargo bay is roughly two thirds full of ore boxes. Simon is at the cargo door console.

Mal Take us out of the world.

Simon (Closing the cargo doors) We’re ready to go, River.

Int – the bridge. River is at the controls. She quickly lifts off, then sets the autopilot and leaves. Ext – Serenity lifts off. Int – Zoe’s room and, eventually, places beyond: passage, cargo bay. She has obviously been vomiting. Her head comes up from the toilet bowl slowly. She flushes then goes and washes her face. She goes to the ladder and climbs up into the passage. River walks past, pauses to say…

River You’re strong. You’ll be fine.

Zoe swallows hard. River continues on to Inara’s shuttle. Zoe goes over to the cargo bay. Simon is heading toward the engine room. Jayne and Mal stay but don’t notice Zoe listening in.

Jayne Sure hope we don’t run into any Feds. No way they ain’t gonna see this. Mal We got paperwork. It’ll pass. Jayne If they don’t look at it too close. Mal Why would they look too close? Nothin’s been stolen – nothin’s wrong. Jayne Exceptin’ Zoe goin’ off wanderin’. Mal (Anger rising) I told you… Jayne I know. Zoe’s never done that before; Zoe’s got us outta a mighty big pile of pi hua more’n once; Zoe’s just lost her husband. I know all that. I’m just sayin’, we was countin’ on her and she weren’t there. We might not be able to git away with that next time. Mal Zoe said there ain’t gonna be a next time. Jayne What if there is? Mal Zoe said… Jayne What if she’s wrong?

Pause. Mal has no answer. Zoe, obviously unhappy, heads off. Mal hears her leave, looks up to realise that they’ve been heard.

Mal Pi hua.


Act two - this thread


Monday, December 11, 2006 2:27 PM


This is interesting. Zoe's pregnant, of course.

So, when is she gonna give Mal shit for not having faith in her. Hehehe!

Monday, December 11, 2006 6:39 PM


Very intriguing start to this - looking forward to reading more!

Monday, December 11, 2006 7:28 PM


Uh...I'm expecting more Zoe giving Jayne hell for his attitude, Gwwenfrewi. Cuz Mal was on Jayne's case for his comments...though he was starting to crumble by the end of the act:(

Still..can't wait for the next part, hughff:D


Tuesday, December 12, 2006 7:24 AM


Zoe really must be sick for not smacking Jayne upside the head for his tactless comments. As for promising it won't happen again, she needs to tell Mal she is pregnant so that she can be kept out of the line of fire. If she doesn't care about herself I would think Zoe would do anything to protect that precious babe. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 8:59 AM


Hell this all manner of interesting, I say write more cause I sure in hell will read it. There's crime, no Mary Sues hiding as OFCs, Zoe's pregnant, no MS's pretending to be OFCs, problems between Mal and Zoe, no Mary Sue's looking to marry Mal, Jayne mouthing off...hell its great keep writing!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 9:24 AM


oh, my, i like it.
Glad to see the Sherrif back.


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Buccaneers - act four
"Imagine the worst thing that you can do to a character, then do it."-Bujold. (Heads up, Zoe!) Time to go home.

Buccaneers - act three
"Imagine the worst thing that you can do to a character, then do it."-Bujold. (Heads up, Zoe!) When it hits the fan, it splatters on everyone.

Buccaneers - act two
"Imagine the worst thing that you can do to a character, then do it."-Bujold. (Heads up, Zoe!) The cargo on board, revealling conversations need to be had.

Buccaneers - act one
"Imagine the worst thing that you can do to a character, then do it."-Bujold. (Heads up, Zoe!) Two weeks after the BDM, Serenity's on a job in familiar territory.