A Mighty Thorn In a Mighty Paw - Ch. 53
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Setting up the pieces...



Captain Gibson strides down from the middle to the first level of the Bridge. The Tech is still working on his console.

TECH: Almost there, sir. I halted the door, but I'm still fighting for complete control.

GIBSON: It doesn’t matter now. They’ve boarded their ship. Not that it will do them any good. I don’t care if you have to weld them shut, those exterior doors had better remain sealed.

TECH TWO: They’re warming up the ship, sir.

GIBSON: Hoping beyond hope, I suppose.

TECH:(turns, excited, hand on his earpiece): Sir, Commander Madsen has Paul in custody.

GIBSON: Finally, some good news. Have him bring him here. Carefully.


River sits at the pilot’s console, flipping switches and pressing keys. Mal stands next to her, leaning on the console, staring out the windshield. Zoe stands behind him.

RIVER (calmly, as she continues flipping switches): You really should strap in. Things are going to get very... interesting.

MAL (sitting in the co-pilot’s seat): Define “interesting.”

River only gives him an enigmatic smile as she clicks the intercom. Zoe cocks her head and gives Mal a look.

RIVER: Kaylee, I need you to deactivate the thruster hydraulics and downgrade the core containment field.


Kaylee looks shocked.

KAYLEE: River, that’ll...

RIVER (VO Intercom): No time for discussion. Reduce the core containment field by increments of five percent every thirty seconds.

Kaylee flips the hood of her rad suit over her head, sealing it. She looks ready to cry.

RIVER (VO Intercom, soothing): It’ll be okay, Kaylee. I promise.

KAYLEE: O... okay.

RIVER (VO Intercom): When I give the word, crank the field back to one hundred percent and strap yourself in. Dong ma?

KAYLEE (with more confidence): Shua.

Kaylee goes to work on a panel, flipping switches.


Serenity can be seen on the viewscreen, her thrusters shifted into lift position as they elevate her landing struts off the deck.

The tech turns to Gibson.

TECH: Sir, we have complete control over hangar access, interior and exterior.

GIBSON: Good. Wave them.

The tech punches some screens.

TECH: Channel open, sir.

GIBSON (voice raised authoritatively): Serenity, this is Captain Gibson. You are ordered to cut thrust and land that heap. You have no way out.

MAL (VO Radio): I don’t know, sir. I see a great big door right underneath us just beggin' to be made use of.

GIBSON: A vacation resort will celebrate its grand opening on Shadow before those doors open. Physics speak for themselves, Reynolds. Eventually you will run out of fuel. We’ll just sit back and watch you flounder like a beached whale.

MAL (VO Radio): Oh, I beg to differ.

TECH (turning toward Gibson with alarm): Sir, their core containment is failing. It’s down almost ten percent.

GIBSON: As long as the hangar remains sealed, they can fry themselves like so much...

The Bridge door opens, revealing Madsen. Gibson fixes him with an angry stare.

GIBSON: You were ordered to bring Paul here. Where the hell...?

Madsen enters the bridge, stepping to his left to reveal Powell. The man looks like hell, his eyes sunken and bloodshot, but with no apparent physical injuries.

MADSEN: Your “orders” thus far have led to this ship being all but gutted by a band of miscreants. (trains his pistol on Gibson) I’m going to finish the job.

Madsen gestures Powell over to an empty console. Powell is carrying the device. Gibson’s eyes widen considerably.

GIBSON (low, dark): You realize the penalty for high treason.

MADSEN: No worse than heading back to the Parliament having let River Tam and Malcolm Reynolds slip from your grasp. Of course, in many circles, I'll be considered a hero of the people. You’ll be ‘verse-renowned as a catastrophic failure.

Gibson begins to shake with fury. Madsen raises his weapon and aims it between Gibson’s eyes. Powell has attached the device to the console and is typing furiously.

TECH: Sir, core containment down to eighty percent.

MADSEN: Are you willing to give your life, the lives of your crew, for a handful of fugitives?

Gibson stands stone-faced, his mouth taking a hard line.

GIBSON: They’ll only cook their own worthless selves.

MADSEN (grinning with malevolence): Are you certain of that?

TECH: Sir, someone’s attempting to access the hangar.

GIBSON (glowering, quiet): Someone...

MADSEN (cryptically): Have you ever seen Radion burns up close? The smell alone can make the most seasoned veteran wretch.

GIBSON: There is no way in the ‘verse they’d even consider such lunacy...

MAL (VO Radio): ‘Fraid we already have, Cap. Ain’t gettin’ pinched again. Didn’t agree with us the last time.

TECH (worried): Sir, the encryption I entered is being hacked. And they’re down to seventy percent containment. If they get that door open... the gorram radiation...


River maneuvers the yoke subtly, keeping the ship level as she pivots to starboard.

MAL (eyeing the screens before him with uncertainty): We’re down to sixty-five percent, little one.

RIVER (calm, watching the screens around her): I know. It’s time for our next move. (keys intercom) Is everyone buckled in?

JAYNE (VO Intercom): Bet yer skinny little...

SIMON (VO Intercom): Hey! Yes, we’re secure.


Simon, Inara, and Jayne are all buckled into the sitting area chairs. Zoe jogs up and buckles in as well.

JAYNE: Somethin’ tells me we ain’t gonna like this.

SIMON: Have you eaten in the last three hours?

JAYNE (painful realization): No.

SIMON: Then you’ll be fine.

INARA (concerned): Simon? What does River have planned?

SIMON: I have no idea. From the look of things it can be deduced that some creative maneuvering will be involved.

ZOE (smiling): And then some.

Click to go to Ch. 54

Click to go back to Ch. 52


Tuesday, February 6, 2007 8:32 AM


Fabulous, I just love this! I am also really happy to see that Gibson's men aren't in full agreement with him. Can't wait to see River's full plan unfold and hope to *diyu* that Gibson gets well and truly friend - and then some. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, February 6, 2007 10:05 AM


Ooops yes, that should be 'fried' not 'friend'. The crispier the better, *dong ma*? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, February 6, 2007 2:02 PM


Yep...knew River and Kaylee were gonna dump Serenity's core containment to bluff the Paladin's crew into letting them go:(

And I gotta wonder where Paul is in all this? Cuz he ain't with Madsen...


Tuesday, February 6, 2007 6:23 PM


Some very interesting developments!

I just hope Paul gets out of there in one piece. I can imagine the crew needing some cash in the near future so they try to sell off seven (slightly used) military-grade hazmat suits. Nobody would ask any questions!

Once they get out of the hangar (IF, really, although who can doubt River's ability to pull off this escape?) they'll probably have to go to full burn pretty soon, which would torch the docking bay where the Alliance gunships are waiting, uncrewed, and it would also put them out of range of the Paladin pretty quickly. If Gibson restores control, Serenity will be hard-pressed to escape.

And what is Madsen doing with Powell and the "Thorn"? I don't think he's a friend of Serenity, he's probably just against some of the Parliament's more radical policies, like the Academy and fathers who program their sons with homicidal tendencies. Just a junior officer doing the right thing.

So much tension...WILL THEY MAKE IT? We'll find out soon enough! (I hope!)



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