A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 37
Saturday, December 23, 2006

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

A little test...



River sits in the pilot’s seat, maneuvering the yoke, still typing with one hand. Zoe stands behind her, arms crossed.

RIVER: They’ve swept the plex. We seem to have fallen under their scope.

ZOE: Let’s pray we’re dismissed as an inconsequencial. But just in case... (picks up the mic) Kaylee, we still set up for a hasty getaway?

KAYLEE (VO): (uncertainty in her voice) Ye... yeah.

ZOE: We have to let things run their course. I promise you, we’re not abandoning the Captain. (hangs up mic)

RIVER: Done.

ZOE: Comms?

RIVER: Yup. (flips a switch)

Nothing comes from the speaker for a beat. Zoe glances at River. River continues maneuvering the yoke, her face calm, confident.

Zoe opens her mouth to speak...

VO RADIO: Dropping lines... now. (beat) Teams One and Two deploying. (beat)Touchdown successful.

Zoe and River exchange glances, both confused.


Mal splashes water on his face and looks at himself in the mirror. His tattered uniform lies in a pile on the floor. He stands wearily, leaning on the sink.

MAL: Now what?

He scrubs the last of the dirt from his face and dries off. With a disgusted look he retrieves the plain tech uniform hanging on the wall. He holds it up to inspect.

MAL: Demoted again.

Mal pulls on the trousers, cinching the belt, then slips the simple tunic over his head. It’s a good fit. He inspects himself in the mirror.

MAL: God, I miss my suspenders.

Mal pulls on his boots, scoops up the destroyed uniform, making sure to place the platinum in a zipper pocket. He exits the washroom.


Mal comes through the washroom door to meet the guards waiting on either side.

GUARD ONE: Feeling human again, sir?

MAL: Very nearly, thanks.

GUARD TWO: We’re to stay with you til the drill is over.

MAL: (falls into step with them) I’ve been lucky enough to avoid those up til now. Mind if I asked what’s involved?

GUARD ONE: More dramatics than anything. (points down the hall with a smile) The incinerator is just down the hall here, if you were serious earlier.

MAL: Entirely. I’d like to put this embarrassing incident behind me as soon as possible.

Both guards nod and lead Mal to a door that reads “Utility.” Guard One opens the door and allows Mal through. He is greeted by a fairly small room stacked with used equipment, cleaning supplies, and piled linen. On the far wall is a two foot by two foot door with a large handle.

Mal steps up to the door and opens, recoiling from the heat wave. He drops the uniform in and closes the door, brushing off his hands.

MAL: Ashes to ashes and so forth. So, where to now?

GUARD TWO: We have a nicely stocked VIP lounge. Help you kill some time.

MAL: After you.


View of fore viewscreens. Far left screen shows troops in black uniforms and body armor rappelling onto and around the Comm. Plex. Center screen shows the Comm. Plex schematic with highlighted entry points. Far right shows Serenity cruising away.

MADSEN: Touchdown successful. Infiltration commencing.

The Captain observes as the Strike Team attempts to enter the Comm. Plex using rudimentary means. They pound on the armored windows, firing a few test shots with various types of weapons. Some attempt to pry open the doors and armor.

TECH: Holding so far.

MADSEN: This is the definition of embarrassment. They might as well throw rocks.

The Captain smiles and shakes his head, keeping his eyes on the screen.


River and Zoe watch the scope in fascination.

CU of scope reveals video of Strike Team’s efforts to enter the Comm. Plex. The realization of what’s taking place hits both women at the same time.

ZOE: It’s a simulation...

RIVER: ...of a Reaver attack.

ZOE: Looks as though the purple-bellies are learning. That also means they were never after us. (shakes her head) I should’ve realized. They were hop-scotching from planet to planet, testing certain facilities, most likely.

RIVER: So, security will be mostly electronic in nature. That’s the largest ident scanner I’ve ever seen.

ZOE: Well, little Albatross, we need to put our heads together. Even after that behemoth leaves, they’re not likely to welcome us back. Let’s pray Mal’s cover holds a bit longer.


Paul slides his door open and steps through. He hears a noise coming from the Infirmary and walks that way.


Simon is opening and closing drawers and cabinets, organizing equipment and medications. He appears frustrated.

Paul takes one step inside the door.

PAUL: Everything okay, Simon?

Simon is startled and drops a glass beaker. He attempts to catch it, but only manages to bump it back up into the air in Paul’s general direction. Paul snatches it from the air in one serpentine motion. He holds it out to Simon.

SIMON: Sorry. Um, thanks. (takes the beaker) Yes, I’m fine.

PAUL: I’m conjuring otherwise. I take it the job has become a bit more interesting?

SIMON: Interesting. In the form of a warship twice the size of my parents’ estate, from what I’ve gathered.

PAUL: (thoughtfully) Ah. It would seem the Paladin has finally been deployed.

SIMON: (looking shocked) How could you possibly know the name of the ship without even seeing it?

PAUL: (non-defensive) I used to train a number of Alliance Strike Team soldiers. They were hard-pressed not to brag about their “glorious new vessel.” Immense, powerful, loaded with enough hurt to strike fear into the hearts of any foe. Soldiers can be remarkably poetic, especially with regard to destruction. (beat) So, do we have a plan for re-acquiring the Captain? We seem to have taken off without him.

SIMON: I don’t know.

PAUL: Perhaps we should head up and find out.

Paul turns to exit the Infirmary.

ZOE: (VO intercom) All personell to the bridge.

SIMON: (gesturing for Paul to exit first) Perhaps.

Click to go to Ch. 38

Click to go back to Ch. 36


Saturday, December 23, 2006 9:35 PM


Oooh, I like the way you are writing this but still have a nagging doubt in the back of my mind about Paul. Somehow that man seems too good to be true. I hope the Captain is able to get off the plex as easily as he got on it once the drill is over. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 7:18 AM


Lots of interesting revelations popping up, I must say;)

Still...Paul's comments to Simon really make me wonder if River is gonna have a rough time ahead when it turns out Paul is all manner of eeevil and was hiding his thoughts behind some sort of natural or artificial block:(



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