A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 29
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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



Kaylee and Inara stand on the catwalk near the entrance to Inara's shuttle. Both look anxious. Whip-pan down to airlock as the group ascends the ramp. Mal and Simon are dirty and a little cut up, Mal looking angry and motivated in the lead. He hits the intercom.

MAL: River, take us out of the world. And no need to be delicate-like.

RIVER: Aye, aye, captain. I'm very glad you're okay.

SIMON: (offended, jokingly, maybe) You're glad he's okay?

Mal hits the necessary buttons to raise the ramp and close the airlock doors, giving Simon a smart-ass grin. He hands his newly acquired rifle to Zoe who heads up the fore/starboard stairs, working its action. Jayne follows. Kaylee passes them on her way down to hug Simon. Inara observes Mal and Paul.

Serenity's engine noise increases as she lifts from the ground.

Mal stops to look at Paul.

MAL: Not rightly sure what's to be said at this juncture.

PAUL: Nothing, Captain. I did what I thought was necessary.

MAL: And you'll get no complaint outta me. I'm fair impressed, to be honest. (beat) Sorry your work on the mule was a waste.

PAUL: Your mission was a success, I take it? (Mal nods) Then at least it came in handy one last time. May have even saved your lives.

MAL: It pains me deep to say it, but you've nearly earned a cut on this job.

PAUL: Nearly? I'm fairly curious, then, as to what it would take.

MAL: (starts up the stairs) Can't tell you that. Lose the mystery, you might stop tryin'.

Paul shakes his head and heads toward the rear of the cargo bay.

Mal reaches the catwalk to find Inara waiting.

INARA: Are you all right?

Mal beats some more dust from his coat.

MAL: Not missin' any parts. Head's a-ringin', though.

INARA: We felt the blast in here. I...we... didn't know what to think.

MAL: You mean if we were sent burnin' into the next life or not.

Inara nods.

KAYLEE: (to Simon) You okay?

SIMON: Yeah, surprisingly. I thought it was all over when I stared down that rifle barrel. But then...

MAL: Seafood to the rescue.

INARA: That's twice now, I beleive.

MAL: Thanks for keepin' score for...(perplexed look, then to no one in particular) How d'ya s'pose Niska knew where to find us?

SIMON: Perhaps he followed us. As I recall, he has contacts all over the 'verse.

MAL: Maybe. Can't help my curiosity.

Mal nods at Inara, giving her forearm a quick squeeze, then continues up the stairs.


Mal walks the last few paces to his bunk ladder, his footsteps heavy. Zoe is ascending her own ladder, her face wiped clean of dust.

ZOE: Sir.

Mal nods and pushes forward on his ladder.

ZOE: So, another coincidence?

MAL: Doubt it.

ZOE: Yeah.

MAL: Someone spilled some intel. I'm gonna lean in an uncharacteristically optimistic direction and hope it didn't come from this boat.

River appears next to Mal, startling him.

RIVER: It wasn't him, Captain.

MAL: Never said he...

RIVER: But you suspect.

MAL: Justifiably. Don't believe in coincidence, child. But then, why give us up only to save our hides, so the thought's already been dismissed.

Turns again toward his ladder.

RIVER: Someone waved Niska from Hera. I don't know who.

Mal stops and turns toward her.

MAL: How did you...?

RIVER: I focused on the man you questioned. He knew. Niska didn't tell him much, though.

Mal closes his eyes a beat.

ZOE: Sir?

MAL: Spade? I hope not. More likely someone else spotted us. Followed just outta range. (to River) S'pose we oughtta be checkin' our rear flank near as much as forward.

River nods and glides back up to the bridge.

ZOE: Nothin' missin', sir?

MAL: Nah, just need a hot shower.

Mal turns and reaches for his ladder.

RIVER: Incoming wave, Captain.

MAL: Take a message.

RIVER: It's Niska.

ZOE: Now I feel like a shower.

MAL: Funny how sullied one can feel just from hearin' a particular name.

ZOE: Only he would have the audacity to wave minutes after he nearly had you erased.

Mal sighs and trudges up the steps to the bridge. He gestures River out of the pilot's seat and drops into it, flipping a switch. Niska's smiling face appears on the little screen. River sits in the co-pilot's seat, drawing her legs up underneather herself. Her face looks curious as she observes Mal.

NISKA: (cheerful) Malcolm Reynolds. It has been long time. You look well. Dirty, but well.

MAL: I conjure the thanks go to you and those fine young men with the big guns and weed-covered britches.

NISKA: (shaking his head, sighing)This is why I give serious consideration to cutting out the tongues...

MAL: I'm assumin' you're gettin' to the point soon enouth.

NISKA: I wish only to speak with you, Malcolm.

MAL: So, sendin' a wave was just too subtle.

NISKA: Old habits, I suppose. Most people not very happy to be summoned by Niska. But now it is imperative we speak face-to-face.

MAL: As considerate as the invitation may be... (cough) this time 'round, I'm thinkin' “no”. Give my best to whatever low-rent muscle you can still afford... (leans forward to kill wave)

NISKA: (hurried) I wish for your delivery to transpire with little difficulty, Malcolm.

MAL: (casual, bored) Got a lot of deliveries, this bein' a transport an' all.

NISKA: (intense, almost pleading) We must talk. Is most important.

Mal kills the video and sound, but leaves the signal open. He looks over his shoulder at Zoe.

ZOE: Really can't afford any stops, sir.

MAL: Lotta desperate in that man's tone. May be somethin' to this invite.

ZOE: Somethin'. Like strapping you to a weathervane in a lightning storm.

MAL: (thoughtful) Might could be that's the case.

ZOE: Sir, have you come down with something? A bug that blocks your higher brain function, perhaps? I believe you said he's a problem we don't need right now.

MAL: And that fact holds true. I'm just not content with that [chinese: bastard] knowing more 'bout my cargo than I do.

ZOE: We're clear of his thugs. Let's call that a win and be on our way.

Mal mulls over the idea for a beat then re-opens the wave.

MAL: Gonna hafta decline, Niska. Hope you understand.

NISKA: Unfortunately, I do not. You see, I...

MAL: Signals fadin'.. I'll try an' tighten' her up...

Mal reaches forward and shuts off the wave. He turns to look at Zoe.

MAL: Well, I'm fair certain that didn't earn me a friend. Guess I'm just paranoid.

ZOE: Can't imagine what it would take to make me call him a friend.

MAL: He did let you hang onto my ear for a time. (beat) Nah, still not enough. Come on, we gotta get to the far side of this fancy rock. An' I still need to change. (rises from chair and heads to exit the bridge) River, bring us in 'bout eight miles from the 'plex.

RIVER: Part of your cover story.

MAL: (nodding) Just a poor, hapless Alliance official whose transport crashed a few miles from my destination. Luckily, some kind-hearted folk aboard a Firefly-class witnessed my distressing situation and swooped in to my rescue. Thanks again,by the way.

Mal exits the bridge.

ZOE: I don't know. Should we save him?

RIVER: I'm not sure. He does get us into an undue amount of mischief.

They share a smile.

MAL (VO): I heard that.

Click to go to Ch. 30

Click to go back to Ch. 28


Thursday, December 14, 2006 1:38 AM


Okay, I'm curious. River gets just enough from the dying thug to be able to tell Mal that the person who snitched on them to Niska did so from Hera. When the wave comes in from that twisted *liumang* with his 'desperate' need to talk to the Captain and get him to listen, River is sitting in the co-pilot's seat and - not a word! No remark that he is lying or that it would be good to hear what he has to say in full before cutting him off etc. That troubles me. Ali D
You can't taket he sky from me

Thursday, December 14, 2006 2:39 AM


This, I dare say, should be very, very interesting.

Niska seemingly needing to speak with Mal? As much as I hate, and sure as hell don't trust Niska, I think it'd be mighty entertaining to see that little meeting occur. And part of me feels that Niska is gonna make that little rendezvous happen, whether Mal wants it to or not.

Whether or not it's pleasant for anyone is another matter entirely.

Brilliant, as usual.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 5:55 PM


Oh...this was fun times! Definitely can't wait for Niska - or River - to instigate the desired meeting...cuz that will make for fun times!



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