A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 42
Monday, January 1, 2007

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

And one shall become two...



CU of River's eyes as they snap open, wide as saucers. She sucks in a loud startled breath. Pull away to reveal her in the fetal postion. Pull away further and fade through cryo-unit lid, then through crates on top.

Pull away to see the lid slowly lift off and the crates fall to the floor.

Slow Motion - River rises slowly from the mist, her face sad and determined.

She steps out of the cryo-unit, crouching on the deck, rubbing her arms and torso. She shivers terribly and begins to cry.

RIVER: Sifu, no.


Captain Gibson walks confidently toward Paul, who stands frozen. Gibson walks within two feet of his son. Madsen watches with fascination.

CAPT. GIBSON: Don't fight it, son.

PAUL: Wha... what’s happening... to me? What did you say to me?

CAPT. GIBSON: Just a little phrase in a dead language from Earth That Was. (he watches Paul's discomfort a beat) Your dormant subconscious is re-emerging, the man you were meant to be.

He places an arm around Paul’s shoulders, leads him out a different door into a private office. Paul follows, zombie-like.


Paul stands, looking entranced. Captain Gibson walks around him, admiring his physique.

PAUL: (confused) Father, I... I don’t understand. I feel so... angry.

GIBSON: The clarity will come, son. (half-sits on desk) You see, you were such a little spit-fire growing up. So much anger and aggression, but naturally talanted beyond belief. Introducing you to the martial arts gave you wonderful self-control, and you fully embraced their peaceful philosophy. However, a peaceful warrior isn’t of much use to the military. My friends in Psych worked with you on a nightly basis throughout your adolescence, embedding a detailed command structure in your subconscious, also locating and collecting those ferocious impulses you’d once displayed and tucking them away in a tidy little box. There they waited, ready to be set free when the time was right. Unleashed by me and me alone, completely and unequivocally under my control.

PAUL (with visible effort): Sub... subconscious?

GIBSON: Yes. I couldn’t risk someone of your ability having a change of heart and fighting for the other side. Unfortunately, someone got to you when I least expected it and you were able to run. It wasn’t until after your unexpected departure that I learned of your involvement in the escape of River Tam.

PAUL (slightly more coherent): They were doing... unspeakable things... to her.

GIBSON: But necessary, son. River was to be the ultimate weapon against any threat to the Alliance. You were chosen to train her in certain areas because you were the best in your particular craft, surpassing even the masters who’d instructed you. Of course, hindsight is glaringly clear and paring the two of you was probably a mistake, given your new-found philanthropic nature. But now you’ve corrected that mistake, intentionally or otherwise, returning our weapon to it’s proper handlers. And of course, you can now take your place and lead my fine army into a glorious future.

PAUL: I hate to... disappoint, but she’s not....I refuse... aagghh...

Paul grabs his head in his hands, grimacing. His face contorts painfully for a moment, then relaxes. He stands up straight, his head coming up. There is a new expression on his face.

GIBSON (satisfied smile): There’s my boy.

PAUL (confident, arrogant): Hello, father.


River falls to her knees, squeezing her head in her hands, sobbing.

RIVER: No, Sifu, no...


Bellix leads Zoe, Jayne, Simon, Kaylee, and Inara into the Brig. He flips up a clear plastic cover and presses some keys on the panel beneath. Several cell doors slide open.

BELLIX: Ladies in Cell Three, gents get to flip for Cells Four and Five. Move.

Jayne shoots a menacing look at Bellix, but complies, as does the rest of the group. The cell doors slide closed with several solid clicks.

BELLIX (pointing to two of the troops): Kayner, Jaxx; you stay here and keep an eye on them. If they get outta line, non-lethal measures only.

The troops nod, each man flipping a switch on their firearm. Bellix and the other troops exit.

Jayne leans on the bars, blatantly staring at the troops with contempt. Zoe, Inara, and Kaylee all sit on the wall-mounted cot. Simon paces.

ZOE: How’s the old saying go? “This plan looked a lot better on paper.”

KAYLEE: Paul’ll come through. He ain’t let us down yet.

INARA: Even the best intentions are susceptible to subversion. But we have to trust him.

JAYNE: Little man let’s us stew here too long, I’m gonna pop his head like a ruttin' grape.

SIMON: A difficult task, considering our location.

Jayne grumbles.

INARA (rubbing Kaylee’s arms to warm her): Patience. Have faith.


Powell pounds away on a keyboard, his eyes intently scanning the screen before him. The device Mal delivered is attached to the complex electronic panel next to him. He occasionally reaches up to it and punches some keys. Lines of code scroll across and down the screen as he types.

The door slides open. Agents One and Two fill the door, stone-faced.

CU of computer screen. Just beneath the last line of code a single word in all caps reads TRANSMIT?

As Powell reaches to hit the ENTER key, a stun stick strikes his left shoulder, causing him to sieze. He falls from the chair and hits the floor unconscious. Agent #Two picks him up while Agent #One sits down at the computer and carefully copies the lines of code to a disc. He looks up and removes the device from the panel. He then carefully deletes the code from the screen and shuts down the computer.

Powell is carried from the office and the door slides closed, plunging the room into darkness.

Click to go to Ch. 43

Click to go back to Ch. 41


Monday, January 1, 2007 8:22 AM


Uh oh, all that effort and the terrible end cost and the Agents foil Powell before he can transmit the code. *Shen goushi*, can things get any worse? The only happy part is finding out that Paul was programmed by his evil father so not in control of the outcome of his actions. Lucky we still have River, just hope she can do something to save our heroes. Hope Mal isn't so messed up he can't recover. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 1, 2007 12:55 PM


Very much enjoying how this story has developed. My apologies for not commenting sooner. My only complaint is that this chapter was too short! Looking forward to more.

Friday, January 5, 2007 3:37 PM


Nice, just got read it, sorry to be so tardy, wow!! Love it!


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