A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 41
Sunday, December 31, 2006

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

A dead language can change everything...



The hangar access doors rumble closed. Serenity rests on the deck. The troops surrounding her slowly converge, weapons trained.

Serenity's ramp snaps open and begins to lower. The troops freeze. The ramp clangs on the deck and the airlock slides open. Paul stands before Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, Inara, and Simon. Kaylee is shivering slightly, rubbing her arms.

Paul takes a step forward.

TROOP ONE: Freeze! Do not move!

Paul stops, holding his hands in the air. The others imitate him.

Another soldier steps up to Troop One, places a hand on his shoulder and speaks into his ear. He appears to relax a bit.

TROOP ONE: Come forward slowly and no sudden moves.

Paul walks forward, hands still in the air. The crew follows behind him. As soon as they’ve all touched the deck and walked a few steps forward, ten troops charge up the ramp, weapons ready.

Zoe glances over her shoulder, then back to Troop One.

ZOE: Awful lotta fuss for some lowly smugglers.

TROOP ONE: Quiet. Follow me.

Troop One takes the lead while ten more take up post behind and around the crew. The thirty troops still surrounding Serenity relax a bit, but keep their weapons in hand.

Troop One leads the group to a large double door that slides open upon approach. It is identical to another double sliding door on the opposite end of the hangar. It hisses when it closes behind them. Paul glances at the panel mounted next to the doors.

Troop One leads them down a long wide hallway and into a lift. The other troops’ weapons never leave the crew.


The troops fan out, some climbing the stairs, some entering the Infirmary area. They open crates and cabinets, flinging the contents about.


Two troops burst onto the Bridge, weapons ready. They charge forward into the fore storage area. Empty.They pop the tops off a couple of bins, note the contents, then exit.

Camera watches their exit, then slowly pans back to a stack of crates piled on and around a familiar medium-sized silver bin.


Troop One leads the crew down a hall until they reach a fork.

TROOP ONE (points to the right): Bellix, take them to the Brig. (points to Paul) You, follow me.

One of the troops, Bellix, takes the lead and indicates for the crew to follow him. Five troops stay with them while the other three follow Paul and Troop One in the opposite direction.

Troop One leads Paul to another lift. It is much smaller than the first. The five men fit, but without much room to spare.

The lift opens after a few seconds. Troop One leads Paul down a short hall to a sliding door that he activates by pressing a code into a keypad screen. The door opens revealing the Bridge.

The Captain’s head turns when the door opens. Tears seem to well up in his eyes. He immediately heads toward the lift as Paul exits, Troop One ahead, the other three behind him. Madsen stands on the uppermost level, watching the scene with utter disdain.

CAPTAIN: Paul. (beat) You look well.

PAUL: I am, thank you.

The Captain gestures the troops away. They step back to the wall, keeping their hands on their weapons.

CAPTAIN: I meant what I said earlier. I’ve been combing the ‘verse looking for you.

PAUL: It’s a big place. Wasn’t very hard to get lost, which was precisely my intent.

CAPTAIN: But now you’re found. And you’ve brought me a tremendous gift.

PAUL: I had no intention of bringing you anything, other than myself. My previous request still stands regarding Captain Reynolds.

CAPTAIN: How magnanimous of you to refer to him as such.

PAUL: Whatever his title, I would like you to free him. Now.

CAPTAIN: We’ve not yet extracted the necessary information from him or the facility. Until that happens, he remains bound.


Mal can barely hold himself up in his chair. He looks even worse than before. He clenches up one last time, then sags.

INTER.: Powell. (taps on his electronic notepad) Thank you, Malcolm. I will see to it you are afforded the respect you deserve. (beat) You fought valiantly. No one has ever held out for so long.

The Interrogator stands, walks the length of the table and places a hand on Mal's shoulder. Mal hardly moves. The Interrogator exits. Two troops enter, one of them unlocking Mal's cuffs from between the chair rungs and recuffing him. They haul him up by his underarms and drag him from the room stumbling.


Agents One and Two stalk down the hall, techs avoiding their gaze as well as physical contact. The men reach office #607 and activate the intercom. Beat. They activate it again. Beat. Agent One nods to Agent Two who pulls a small device from his pocket and holds it to the keypad. After three seconds and several beeps later, the door slides open.

The men storm into the room. It looks normal. The desk is still cluttered, the monitors are still turned on. It is however, empty. Powell is gone, as is the case.

The men exchange glances and begin to search, showing little regard for the contents. Agent One mumbles into his radio.


A tech turns to the Captain.

TECH: Sorry to interrupt, sir. But we have a name. Dyson Powell. (taps on his console) He's a programmer within the Comm. Plex.

CAPTAIN: And how did we come by this information?

TECH: The Director. Once he learned who the supposed Dip. Cour. really was, he became all too compliant. They're searching Powell's office as we speak.

The Captain smiles.

CAPTAIN: Loss of face tends to provoke a great many men into action. (to Paul) And now we'll find out exactly what your friend has been up to in our facility.

PAUL: Sir, I'm begging you to let him go. You have the information you need.

CAPTAIN: I have the means to locate the information. We still need to find this Powell fellow.

Madsen descends to the same level as the Captain. He steps close.

MADSEN (quietly so only the Captain can here): Sir, do you think he should be here while the most sensitive intel is being collected? He already seems to be compromised...

The Captain turns an icy gaze on Madsen.

CAPTAIN (just as quiet, much darker): Do not presume to question my methods or my judgement, Second. I have my reasons for keeping him here.

Madsen nods complacently and steps back.

Paul watches the scene before him, his gaze steady and calm as it centers on the Captain.

PAUL (calmly, just loud enough to be heard by everyone on the Bridge) Father, do not force my hand.

Captain Gibson looks at his son, his eyes widening a fraction.

CAPTAIN GIBSON: Son, this time there will be no escape. You will become what you were meant to be; the single greatest warrior of the Alliance.

PAUL (almost a whisper) Father, I beg to differ.

Almost too quickly to see, Paul's left foot hooks up and around, striking Troop One across the jaw. The man spits blood and teeth and goes down. As the other three troops raise their weapons, Paul vaults backward, dropping into a low spin sweep that yanks the feet out from beneath two of them. They land hard on their backs, their weapons falling from their hands. As they hit the floor, Paul leaps off the floor at the last troop, spinning in the air and ramming his heel into the fourth man's chest in a vicious jump spinning back kick. The troop slams against the wall and falls. Paul quickly squats between the two men he swept and simultaneously slams his elbows straight down into their temples. They slump, unconscious.

Paul stands, holding a rifle in his hands. The techs sit at their stations, dumbfounded. Paul aims the weapon at his father.

PAUL (quietly, calmly): I already am.

CAPT. GIBSON (smiling): That you are, son. But we both know you won't fire on me. Let me help you remember why. (beat) Y los angeles hablaran con el, y uno se convertira en dos.

CU of Paul's face down the rifle sights. His eyes widen, then begin to squint.

CAPT. GIBSON: Now lower that weapon.

Paul's face twitches a fraction, then he complies.

Click to go to Ch. 42

Click to go back to 40


Sunday, December 31, 2006 4:41 PM


"Y los angeles hablaran con el, y uno se convertira en dos"...certainly more of a mouthful than "Eta kooram smech," ain't it?


Still...things have just gotten really pear-shaped, haven't they? Cuz Paul is now been declawed, even if only temporarily and River's playing popsicple. Yep...interesting times indeed;)


Monday, January 1, 2007 1:14 AM


Oh the *goushi* has really hit the fan big time! I was anxious as *diyu* when Paul told the others to go into the belly of the beast knowing it was putting all their eggs in one gorram basket and inwardly screaming that it was a trap and now all our heroes are in Alliance hands except River who is not in a position to do anything, not even defrost. Have I told you yet that I have a bad feeling about this? Excellent story but no so good for my blood pressure. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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