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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal's taking Zoe, Jayne and Kaylee in Shuttle II to meet a paying passenger, despite Jayne's misgivings. Unfortunately, those misgivings prove to be well-founded, as Niska's skyplex is currently under attack by police (who aren't particularly good shots) and the passenger's ON the skyplex!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1640 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
OPEN ON EXT. SERENITY, cruising smoothly through the black towards - at the moment - nowhere in particular.
CUT TO: INT. BRIDGE; Mal’s answering a ’wave from a seedy-looking, nondescript fella. Oddly, we can’t see any background details, and the guy has a slight sheen of sweat.
Mal: Our standard rate is -
Seedy guy: It’s rather urgent, Captain. I’ve - well, let’s say I have unfriendly acquaintances. As long as you can provide transport, I don’t really mind what it costs. You should be receiving my deposit now...
Mal glances across the Bridge at Zoe, who’s at the other station; she nods.
Zoe: All clear here, sir. We’re homin’ in on his signal.
Seedy guy: I appreciate it, Serenity. I’ll be waiting for your arrival. (He signs off)
Mal: Hmm. Somethin’ a little off here, you reckon?
Zoe (equally doubting, but pragmatic): Least his credit’s good, sir.
Mal: Lock it in, just in case. Better yet, send it to Inara’s account - we know that’s secure.
Zoe (looking askance at him): Won’t she charge us for that?
Mal: Faith, woman. Inara wouldn’t do that to me.
Zoe shrugs and complies.
CUT TO: REAR OF BRIDGE; Jayne’s coming up the stairs.
Jayne: Hey, cap, Zoe. Whatta we got?
Mal: Payin’ passenger - gonna go pick ‘im up in Shuttle II; vicinity of Ezra, near as we can make out.
Kaylee (overhearing as she enters): Can I come? I love meetin’ new folk! Plus the shuttle’s attitude thrusters were actin’ up last time we flew it, I wanna check ’em out in flight. I fixed ’em, sure, but those shuttles got somethin’ against me, I swear - they don’t always stay fixed. [Ungrateful things...]
Mal: Uh, sure, why not? River, you take the Bridge.
Zoe (frowning): Sir, River isn’t - (suddenly she’s there, smiling impishly) - oh, yeah. (She realises Mal expected River to appear like that) Damn, sir, you’re good.
Jayne (scowling): Passenger? When’s the last time we took one o’ those an’ didn’t get grief?
Mal (shrugging): Guy’s paid the deposit up front, can’t ask fairer’n that. Just in case, though we’re takin’ a shuttle; I ain’t riskin’ Serenity when there’s no need - it’s just a mite too close to the skyplex for my likin’. River, hold station here an’ wait for us. We shouldn’t be long. (She nods)
Jayne: Don’t like it.
Mal (brightly): Well, when you’re cap’n of your own boat, you get to make those calls. Till then, what say I do? (Sober) Besides, what with that new gorram fuel tax, money ain’t stretchin’ as far as it used to. Any payin’ job, we need to take it.
Jayne (brooding): Just remember what I said, Mal. Maybe I better come, too, just in case o’ trouble.
Mal: Simple pickup. We ain’t expectin’ any trouble, Jayne.
Jayne (shrugging): Worst kind, that. (Mal also shrugs, and then nods) Where’s the guy at, anyways?
SMASH CUT TO: EZRA, seen from space. In the F/G, we have Niska’s now-surrounded skyplex. The police ships are opening fire, taking out gun emplacements - these are returning fire. An escape pod launches under full thrust; one police cruiser spits a line of fire at it. The pod’s engine explodes and the pod goes into a spin. The police ship accurately fires a grappling line, snagging the pod and drawing it in.NOTE: this is the only ship firing with any degree of accuracy; quite a few shots are going astray. This is relevant to imminent events, and will be explained shortly in Act II.
CUT TO: INT. SKYPLEX, NISKA’S OFFICE. He’s frowning over a screen showing what’s going on.
Niska (growling): No warning. Where is person who is paid by Niska to give warning? Tomas!
Tomas, a big bruiser not unlike the late Crow, but looking more intelligent, enters.
Niska (displeased): Tomas, where is fellow? Good money is paid, but job is not done.
Tomas: I’ve been looking for him, Mr. Niska. He’s hidin’ somewhere. (Snarl) I don’t blame him.
Niska: We must explain matters to this man - when there is time. (Sigh) Always details, interruptions, bad for business. Police, no warning - very bad. Much explaining I will need to convey to him.
Tomas: Can I help, sir?
Niska: Oh, yes. Later, though. First things first, yes?
They make their way towards a steel-walled area. The walls are heavily shielded; inside the chamber which opens to Niska’s access codes, there’s an over-engineered escape pod with an unusually large drive unit, built to take two. They squeeze in, and launch.
CUT TO: EXT. SKYPLEX. The pod launches from the side of the station facing Ezra, and immediately engages its main drive. VISUAL F/X: an effect similar to Serenity’s main drive under full burn, but blue in colour. Two cruisers change course, heading for the pod - clearly their captains have realised who’s in it - but they’re no match for its speed. They launch missiles, but miss. The pod swings around Ezra, picking up speed for a gravity well manoeuvre, and fires its engines again - it takes off at tremendous speed and heads offscreen in a wide arc.
CUT TO: EXT SHUTTLE II, approaching - Serenity is standing by at a safe distance O/S, per Mal’s order to River. Abruptly a stray missile passes under the shuttle; its proximity-fused warhead explodes. She lurches and recovers.
CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE II. Jayne’s knocked off his feet by the blast; Zoe is thrown from her seat.
Mal: What the - ?
Zoe struggles back to her seat. She rapidly keys controls; the shuttle alters pitch slightly to starboard. The skyplex - and the battle - come into view through the cockpit windows.
Zoe (grim satisfaction): Looks like Niska’s gettin’ what he deserves, sir.
Mal (confused, he’s checking the scanner): Wait a minute - Zoe, ain’t our passenger’s signal comin' from - ?
Zoe (grimly, realising): - the skyplex, sir. Looks like.
VISUAL F/X: A FLASH as a missile hits the skyplex and detonates. Another FLASH as a police ship is hit by the return fire. Another missile is launched towards the skyplex - but misses completely and starts homing in on Shuttle II!
Zoe (urgently) Sir, we got incoming!
Mal: I’ll try to -
Zoe: Damn thing’s homin’ on us, sir - must’ve lost its bearin’ on the skyplex!
Mal: Government issue, huh? (He scowls) Gorram bunger’s escapin’, or tryin’ to - usin’ us!
CUT TO: EXT SHUTTLE II as the missile closes in on them despite Mal’s best efforts.
CUT TO: CLOSEUP OF MISSILE’S WARHEAD; the Alliance flag is prominently displayed as a notice of copyright. The missile is indeed government-issue hardware.
CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II, banking and weaving. The missile streaks into the picture, off to one side.
CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE II.
Jayne: What’ve I told you ’bout passengers, Mal? Always more trouble’n they’re worth!
Zoe (agreeing with Jayne for once): This one, even before we picked ’im up.
Kaylee (coming for’ard): Cap’n, what’s goin’ on - ?
Mal: That’s a damn good question, which I’m kinda too busy to answer right now - !
Radio: Attention all local craft; this is the police. All civilian craft are hereby advised to steer well clear of skyplex during official seizure. Repeat: Attention all -
Mal: Oh, now they tell us! Why the hell didn’t the guy mention -
Zoe: Probably afraid we woulda turned ’im down, sir.
Mal: [No shit!] He’d have been right! (He fights the controls, to no avail; the missile’s still gaining!) Damn, I wish Wash were here!
Zoe (very quietly): We all do, sir.
Mal (realising what he just said): Oh, [Damn.] Zoe, I -
Zoe (matter-of-fact): I know, sir. It’s okay. (Shout) Brace for impact!
CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II - the missile hits the shuttle’s belly, but for some reason (government issue, plus we don’t want to kill our heroes so early in the season - or at all - do we?) it doesn’t explode - which doesn’t stop it doing a great deal of damage, as Mal now discovers...
Mal: Gorrammit, I got nothin’! Engines are dead! (Through the cockpit window, we now see the shuttle’s been caught by Ezra’s gravity, as the planet’s rapidly drawing closer) Ain’t no way we can make it back to Serenity...Kaylee, can we get down?
Kaylee (wryly): Cap’n, down’s never a problem -
Mal (he’d like to spank that cute li’l ass sometimes!): Safely?
Kaylee: I’ll do what I can, but those police guys really hit us bad, cap’n...
Jayne: They didn’t hit us, they missed!
Zoe: Didn’t miss us, worse luck. (She tries the radio) Serenity, this is Shuttle II, in trouble. Do you read? Come in, Serenity - damn, radio’s out, sir. (She checks the console) I don’t believe it - the beacon’s out, too!
Mal: On our own, then. (Even under these circumstances, he can’t resist a quip) Ain’t you glad you came, Jayne? (Jayne just growls in reply) Kaylee -
Kaylee (now under the console): On it, cap’n!
CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II, FALLING TOWARDS EZRA. It’s clear that Mal has little control, and the shuttle’s engines are dead. The shuttle is tumbling slowly, and has been for a few minutes now.
Kaylee (O/S): I’m sorry, cap’n, she’s dead.
CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE II, UNDER THE FLIGHT CONSOLE, a few minutes later. Kaylee is still working, streaks of grease on her despondent face. She hasn’t quit, but it’s clearly hopeless.
Kaylee (sadly): Nothin’ I can do.
Mal: C’mon, Kaylee, you’ve fixed worse’n this before -
Kaylee: With tools, yeah. With spare parts, yeah. I ain’t got ’em here, though.
Mal: Huh? I recall you tellin’ me not long ago we had -
Kaylee (hating to say this and criticise him): No, cap’n, I was tellin’ you that we needed ’em, not that we had ’em. An’ besides...that was two months ago.
Mal (guiltily; this is his fault, and he knows it): It was? (She nods unhappily) Damn.
Pause. Zoe breaks the uncomfortable silence.
Zoe (pragmatic as ever): Sir, we need to think about what we can do now. This ain’t the time to fix blame. Right now we are fallin’ towards Ezra. Kaylee, anythin’ we can do ’bout that?
Kaylee: Not that I can see.
Zoe: In that case, sir, it’s gonna have to be a dead-stick landin’. We need to figure a way to regain attitude control. Kaylee, that’s your job.
Mal: Ain’t I in charge here?
Zoe: Sorry, sir. (Deadpan) Orders, sir?
Mal: Uh, yeah. What you said, Zoe. Good plan. (She doesn’t quite smile)
Kaylee (thoughtful; she’s had a brainwave): Wait a minute - we ain’t got engines, but the controls are still okay. An’ we got thrusters, but no control for ’em.
Zoe (seeing it): Link the thrusters to the drive controls? Can you even do that?
Kaylee (enthused now): Yeah, if I reroute the auxiliaries through the drive control bus an’ bypass the -
Mal: Whoa, tech-y stuff! Less talkin’, more doin’, Kaylee. You know what to do, don’t waste time tellin’ me.
FADE TO: CLOSEUP OF KAYLEE UNDER THE CONSOLE, ten minutes later, nursing a cut finger. She scowls and raps a nondescript component with her knuckles.
Kaylee: Teach you to bite me! I’m tryin’ to help you here! Cap’n?
Mal (craning under the console): You got it?
Kaylee (still working): Nearly. Won’t last long, though. These shuttles just don’t like me, never could figure out why...
Mal (appreciative): Long enough, I’m bettin’. It’s shiny, little one. (She grins happily)
Zoe: What about the beacon, or radio?
Kaylee (her smile fading): Totalled - burnout creepage. Sorry.
Mal: Let’s get ourselves down safely. We’ll worry ’bout that later.
Jayne: Got an idea ’bout that, Mal.
Mal (surprised): You do?
Jayne (mildly affronted): Yeah. Ain’t just a hired gun, y’know. We could skip.
HOLD ON MAL’S SURPRISED FACE a few seconds. He nods slowly.
Mal: Might just work, if the lower hull ain’t too badly damaged. Good idea, Jayne. Go strap yourself in - Kaylee, you too. An’ when we get back to Serenity, remind me - I owe you a coupla strawberries for this.
She squeals delightedly and scrambles from under the console - stopping along the way to kiss his cheek.
Kaylee: I love my cap’n!
CUT TO: KAYLEE AND JAYNE STRAPPING IN.
CUT TO: CLOSEUP OF MAL AND ZOE.
Zoe (quietly): Sir, you do realise the lower hull is where we were hit?
Mal (equally quiet): I know it. But Jayne’s right, it’s a chance. ’Sides, ain’t nothin’ else we can do. (Louder, to everyone) Hang on!
CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II, ZOOMING IN ON LOWER HULL. There’s a blackened area and one or two cracks in the outer hull. It doesn’t look good...
CUT TO BLACK
END OF ACT I
Saturday, June 18, 2011 2:19 AM
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