A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 43
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

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

No hesitation...



A ragged line of Alliance troops file down Serenity’s ramp, joking and shaking their heads. Two troops remain near Serenity, milling about in a loose perimeter, weapons down. The occasional hangar tech can be seen polishing a fighter or troop carrier, some with hatches open working on an engine.


River creeps silently down the hall, her gaze averted to the right. She descends the ladder into Zoe’s bunk and starts carefully sorting through her things.


The Brig door slides open to reveal Mal still being supported by the two troops. He is able to partially walk on his own. The crew all come forward in their cells to see their Captain.

The troops guide Mal to Cell Two. The door slides open and they walk him in, laying him down on the cot. The troops exit, the cell door closing immediately behind them.

The troops, Keeno and Barton, pause in front of Kayner and Jaxx.

JAXX: They get anything outta him?

KEENO: Bastard didn’t say a word. Had to pull it out of him.

Kayner shakes his head.

KAYNER: I just as soon rather have my nails pulled out, thanks.

BARTON: Nothing like havin’ your mind mixed up like home-made stir-fry.

KEENO: Fool-crazy part is, after he twists the man’s melon into mush, he orders us to treat the man with kid-gloves. Says we’ll regret it like nothin’ else if we don’t.

The two guards shrug.

Barton and Keeno nod at Jaxx and Kayner then exit the Brig.

Kaylee presses her face into the bars trying to get a look at Mal.

KAYLEE: Cap’n? Can ya hear me?

MAL (mumbling): Yeah.

KAYLEE: You okay?

MAL (groaning, mumbling): Feel like my brain’s been run through an engine.

ZOE: What do they know, sir?

MAL: Enough.

JAYNE: What the gui's that s'posed ta mean?

MAL (sitting up with a groan): I didn’t tell ‘em a thing, but they dug the contact’s name out o’ my skull.

INARA: Are you sure you’re all right?

MAL: I’ll live.

Jaxx and Kayner watch the interplay with detachment.

JAXX: So how did we get lucky enough to pull guard duty?

KAYNER: Must be our inimitable charm.

Jaxx laughs. The men lean against the wall. Kaylee drops back down on the cot next to Inara and Zoe. Jayne drops to the floor and starts doing push-ups. Simon sits on his cot and stares at the ceiling.


Captain Gibson stands on the middle level, Madsen on his left, Paul on his right. They watch the center view screen as it lights up with the faces of Agents One and Two.

AGENT ONE: Sir, we’ve found Powell. He was attempting to transmit some sort of algorithm when we apprehended him.

CAPT. GIBSON: Did he succeed in his attempt?

AGENT ONE: We don’t think so, sir. It appears he was about to transmit when we stunned him. I saved the code to disc. We have some sort of device here he’d connected to the network as well. Most likely it's the contraband delivered by Reynolds. We’re returning to the ship with what we’ve collected.

CAPT. GIBSON: Well done, gentlemen. Paladin out. (Captain Gibson turns to Paul) Well, son, it appears this chapter is coming to a close. I believe it’s time we head down to the Brig. I would very much like to meet this Malcolm Reynolds and his crew of brigands myself.

PAUL: Agreed.

CAPT. GIBSON (to Madsen): You have the Bridge, Madsen. As soon as our gentlemen have come aboard, set course for Londinium.

MADSEN: Yes, sir. (beat) Sir, please give Mr. Reynolds my best.

Captain Gibson shakes his head with a smile and exits the Bridge with Paul immediately behind him. A janitor tech is using a laser brush to clean the blood off the floor from Troop One’s mouth.


River is descending the ladder. She is dressed in simple pants and tunic. Zoe’s holsters are strapped to her thighs. She slinks over to Jayne’s bed and flips back the blanket. The arsenal is gone. River pulls the blanket off the bed, pulls a knife from a sheath on her hip, and stabs it into the mattress. She cuts a long slash down its length. River sheaths the knife and pulls apart the mattress.

She removes a rifle and two pistols from the mattress filler. She works the rifle’s action and lays it on the bed. She also checks the pistols. River then fishes around in the gutted mattress and removes a rifle magazine and two more clips. She tucks the spare ammunition in her belt, slips the pistols into holsters on her hip, and hefts the rifle.

She lithely climbs the ladder one-handed.


Inara squeezes Zoe’s forearm and stands, approaching the cell bars, exuding her utmost sensuality... Both troops notice this and watch, nearly entranced.

INARA: Excuse me. Would it be possible to use the bath?

JAXX: One at a time, of course. (to Zoe and Kaylee) You two stay seated.

Kayner lifts the guard on the console and presses some keys. The cell door slides open, allowing Inara out as Jaxx keeps his weapon aimed at Kaylee and Zoe.

KAYNER (pointing): Right over there.

Inara brushes Jaxx as she passes him. His eyes slip after her for a moment.

Zoe pounces as the cell door begins to close. Jaxx’s weapon fires, but he misses as Zoe rams a palm-strike into his nose, then a brutal knee into his groin. He folds in pain as Zoe uses him as a human shield.

Kayner attempts to raise his weapon, but Inara has darted close and executes a beautiful axe kick to his forarm, knocking the gun from his hand. Zoe grabs Jaxx’s weapon and fires it at Kayner. A stun dart strikes Kayner in the thigh, sending him spasming to the floor. Zoe then shoves Jaxx harshly to the floor.

Zoe holds up the rifle and flips the same switch the troops toggled earlier. She then crouches close to Jaxx, placing the barrel of the rifle against his cheek.

ZOE (cold): The cell codes. Now.

JAXX (grimacing): Just punch in the number of the cell three times.

ZOE (tapping his cheek with the barrel): Thanks.

Inara steps over to the panel after picking up Kayner’s rifle. She punches in the codes. Mal’s cell opens first and he attempts to stumble out. Kaylee bounds out next. Jayne and Simon are then freed.Kaylee steps up to Mal and puts his arm around her shoulders, allowing him to lean on her.

MAL: Thanks. Can't claim to be much help right about now.

KAYLEE (tears in her eyes): It's okay, Cap. I gotcha.

ZOE: We need to find our way back to Serenity.

JAYNE (taking the rifle Inara holds out to him, giving her a curt nod): No problem. I'll get us back there. (he stoops and roughly relieves the troops of their spare ammunition, tosses a couple to Zoe) What about Seafood?

ZOE: I think he'll understand we couldn't just sit idly by. Let's go.

Jayne opens Brig entrance, scanning the hall from around the door frame first. The hall is empty. Jayne leads the others from the room, keeping his eye to the rifle sight. Zoe takes up the rear guard. Jayne sweeps the first intersection they come to, halting the group with a gesture. They press against the wall, listening intently.

Jayne points forward and everyone moves, Kaylee assisting Mal as best she can. They reach a large four-hall intersection. Jayne halts again. He peeks around the corners. His eyes widen considerably and he retracts.

JAYNE (hissing): Son of a bitch!

Zoe gives him an inquisitive look. Jayne shakes his head with a very angry expression, then gestures for Zoe to come forward and for Simon to watch their rear.

Zoe creeps forward, weapon at the ready, to crouch next to Jayne. She peeks around the corner.

Zoe POV - Paul and Captain Gibson are walking slowly toward them twenty yards away, the Captain gesturing as he speaks.

Zoe retracts, her face first disappointed, then angry and determined.

ZOE (ice cold): He's mine. I have a promise to keep.

She leans back to the corner and begins to bring her rifle to bear. She peeks around the corner again.

Zoe POV - Paul is now immediately around the corner. Zoe raises her weapon to fire, but Paul knocks it from her grasp as it fires, missing him.

PAUL (arrogant approval): Good! You're a woman of your word. No hesitation whatsoever.

Zoe attempts to punch Paul, who quickly blocks and rams a palm strike into her solar plexus, doubling her over. Paul then tosses her at Jayne, knocking him over. His weapon falls from his hands as he hits the floor with Zoe on top. He rolls Zoe off and springs to his feet.

Captain Gibson hangs back and observes the proceedings.

Jayne and Paul square off.

JAYNE: I'm gonna have yer ears, boy...

PAUL (condescendingly): Please. Try your best.

Jayne lunges at Paul with a crisp two jab, right cross, left hook combination. Paul allows the jabs through since they don't reach, deflects the right cross just enough to miss, then ducks the hook. He slips behind Jayne, disorienting him. Jayne turns clumsily, only to catch a simple high front kick to his chin. His head snaps back and he stumbles. Paul allows him to regain his composure.

CAPT. GIBSON: Don't toy with him, son. Take him.

Paul grins maliciously. Kaylee shivers while Mal only frowns, his face clearly disappointed. Zoe lies on the floor, still gasping for air.

A dozen armed troops jog up in formation, weaopons ready. Captain Gibson gestures for them to hold and guard the others.

JAYNE (growling)You double-crossin' nut hair!

Jayne charges Paul, attempting to tackle him. Paul spins away, re-directing Jayne into a wall. He bounces off, quickly re-groups and charges again. Paul waits until the last possible instant, then drops into a spinning log-roll to Jayne’s knees, his hands dancing on the floor, keeping his torso off the ground. Jayne goes down hard, striking the side of his head on the floor. He attempts to pick his head back up, but it drops again.

Paul goes vertical from his horizontal position on the floor simply by springing upward with his right hand. He watches Jayne for a moment, then shifts his gaze to the rest of the group.

PAUL: A pleasure to see you all again. (turns to Gibson) The Tam girl was to stay aboard the ship, quietly prep for a quick getaway. I'll retrieve her.

Simon steps forward, his jaw clenched in anger and defiance. He crouches to check Jayne’s pulse, his back to Paul.

CAPT. GIBSON: She'll know you're coming, so be ready for a trap. Don't get ahead of yourself. She's the only real threat.

ZOE (still winded): I wouldn’t put any platinum on that.

Paul stoops and grabs Zoe’s throat, lifting her to her feet and then off the floor. She claws at his hand and kicks him in the torso, but his grip does not loosen.

PAUL (looking Zoe square in the eye): I would.

He tosses her roughly to the floor then gestures for the troops to take the crew away.

CAPT. GIBSON: Go. Now. (gestures for two of the troops to follow Paul)

Paul and the two troops jog away.

Click to go to Ch. 44

Click to go back to Ch. 42


Wednesday, January 3, 2007 4:39 PM


Holy Moly, what an awesome chapter! Everything terse, realistic, highly visual, a really great read. Realistic in attempting escape, realistic in it not..quite...going to plan.

This section just struck me as a great example of the chapter as a whole.

Jayne halts again. He peeks around the corners. His eyes widen considerably and he retracts.

JAYNE (hissing): Son of a bitch!

Zoe gives him an inquisitive look. Jayne shakes his head with a very angry expression, then gestures for Zoe to come forward and for Simon to watch their rear.

Waiting for more!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 5:49 PM


No hesitation indeed.

Boy, Seafood is one badass mofo, taking down an armed Zoe and Jayne by hand, and not even breaking a sweat in the process. He might be evil (for now...right? Right?), but you gotta have respect for that.

Tell me, please Mr. KicksAlot, tell me that Paul and River face off. Two living weapons going at it (get you're minds outta the gutter, smutty minded fools) would be most excellent....choice is yours of course, and it seems the obvious route, which judgeing from the fic so far, is not the one you take (and the story is all the better for it).

Brilliant, as always.

Thursday, January 4, 2007 12:41 AM


I knew that break out was too gorram easy but chilling when Paul takes out Zoe then Jayne, totally under his evil father's influence with not a flicker of remorse or conscience. As for Paul going off to get River, I hope our girl has kept more than a few surprises up her sleeve to take him down. It was also nice to see Inara and Zoe acting in concert though I am surprised Simon did not say anything when Paul mentioned about going to get River. This is tense and exciting, can't wait for the next chapter! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 6, 2007 10:18 AM


Hmm...this was a mighty brilliant chapter, HeWhoKicksAlot. Definitely loved how you wrote the crew's prison break - especially since it shows Inara successfully kicking some Purplebelly patootie ;D - and the Paul vs Jayne and Zoe hallway fight...though I am getting the feeling there's more to Paul's behaviour than simple brainwashing...



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