The Four Winds, Chapter 25
Sunday, June 19, 2011

The rest of the crew return home.


The colonists were somewhat confused by the explanation that was given to them, but eventually they understood that there never had been a colonial destination for them, not really; they had been betrayed early on in their process. River explained about the newly terraformed world; about waiting a few months until enough of the planet was habitable to set down on, and about paying their fees and considerations to Mal Reynolds, acting as an agent for the terraformers. Seeing that they had relatively little in the way of options, they accepted the deal that was offered, and readily turned over the ship's crew, and Frank, to the custody of the Alliance battlecruiser that happened to be in the area. From their own numbers they found men and women with skills enough to run the ship for the time they needed.

When they had concluded their business, and turned over the slaver's crew to the Alliance, they docked with Serenity. Their colonial governor paid a handsome sum over to Mal -- it included money that the slavers had paid Frank, in advance, for their betrayal, and it was well more than Mal had been expecting to receive. As Mal was exchanging pleasantries with the colonial governor, his crew slowly fell silent around him.

When Mal realized he was the only person talking, and the only person not looking off in the direction of the bay doors, he broke off midsentence and followed his crew's gaze.

River stood there, waiflike and distant-eyed.

At her shoulder stood Darriell Book.

Kaylee said, "Shepherd?"

Book regarded her with mild surprise.

River turned her head, and looked surprised when she saw Book standing there. She looked at Kaylee, her expression quizzical and confused. "You mean, you can see him, too?"

"Well, yeah I can see him, he's standing right there," Kaylee said.

River turned back to Book. "But I was only hallucinating you. You're not real," she said. "I thought when I came home, you would go."

Book's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Oh, I assure you, I am quite real," he said.

River screamed and ran to take cover behind her stupefied brother. Simon turned, trying to face her, while she shifted, trying to keep him between her and the Shepherd. "He never TALKED before!" she cried.

Mal's gaze went from River to Book and back.

The colonial governor said, "She's right. He's never said a word."

"I believe I can clarify that much, at least," Book said. His gaze scanned Serenity's crew. "If I may have permission to come aboard?"

"Well, why not?" Mal said. "Not like things could get any stranger than they already are."

"Thank you," Book said, and walked up the ramp. "I have been under a vow of silence for the past year, until today."

"Well, that'll do for the talking, I guess," Mal said. "But how in the 'verse did you end up alive, on a slave ship with River?"

Book's gaze went to River, and then back to Mal. "I met this young woman -- River -- at Southdown Abbey, a little more than a week ago. She seemed to recognize me, although I confess I do not remember her. When the special deputies arrived at the Abbey, she seemed to need assistance, so I helped her to evacuate. I was concerned about her, so I stayed with her after that. She seems to be at once very bright and capable, yet somewhat disturbed."

"But you don't know us?" Kaylee said.

"I know who you are," the Shepherd said. "I recognize you from the fugitive bulletins that are still posted in various places. But I am surprised that you all seem to know me. Have we met before?"

Kaylee gave Mal a desperate look. Mal took a deep breath, and pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers. "First, I think we ought to let these fine colonists go their way. Then we can sort out the rest."

So they took their leave of the governor and the other colonists, who thanked River, and wished aloud that they had some sort of medal to give her, for saving them from their intended fate and fulfilling their original intentions. It seemed to take forever to dissuade them from tracking River down once they had "gotten settled," in order to honor her properly, and to bundle them back onto their ship. Mal took Simon aside for a word while Zoe and Inara tried to disengage the grateful colonists, and Simon escorted Book to the med bay. Kaylee followed. River followed, too, but at a greater distance, and always keeping some part of the ship between herself and the Shepherd.

They convened in the dining room.

"Genetically speaking, he's Book," Simon informed them.

Book gave Simon a look that suggested this should not surprise anyone.

"Well, that's mighty curious, since it was just about a year ago we was all right there when you died," Mal observed.

Now it was Book's turn to look surprised. "I'm afraid I have no memory of that, either," he said, somewhat ruefully.

"What do you remember?" Wash asked. "Anything?"

"Certainly," Book said. "I remember my entire life up to this point."

"Does it go back farther than a year?" Zoe asked.

"Yes. It does," Book assured her. "It goes back about fifty years, until it fades out in my early childhood, just like most people's."

"Wash," Mal said. "Take us to Haven."

The crew quailed slightly, except for Wash, who immediately rose to move toward the bridge.

"Why Haven?" Book asked.

"Because that's where we buried you," Mal told him.


It was the third time in little more than a year that the crew had dug graves on a barren ridge on Haven. Both of the monuments were still there -- Wash's, which was actually Damien van Soren's, and Book's, which was really anybody's guess. Originally, they had buried two bodies here. Later, they had come back for what they thought was Wash's body, only to discover that the man they'd thought was their pilot was an Alliance plant, a Captain named Damien van Soren. This time, they dug up the grave where they had buried Book.

It was empty. There was nothing there.

"Dig the other one up," Mal said.

That one was empty, too.

"Something funny going on here," Jayne observed, leaning against his shovel inside the empty second grave. "'Cept ain't nobody laughing."

Mal nodded. He tossed his shovel up out of the empty hole, and climbed up after it. He took a long look around and said, "Let's go."

Zoe gave him a questioning look.

"Whatever answers we're looking for, they ain't here," Mal said. He picked up his shovel and walked back to the ship.


Sunday, June 19, 2011 6:08 AM


Oh, now I'm glad you're tying up loose ends re: Book. Although clearly, if we're going to get to the bottom of this, it'll be in the epilogue.

Sunday, June 19, 2011 7:30 AM


Ok not what I was expecting, was kinda thinking it would be the operative which would have made a odd sort of sense he would have followed the same path as book and in rivers mind think they was the same.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 9:29 AM


I did smile at this chapter. I like that you have worked out a way to give us both Wash and Book back, but will Book turn out to be the real one or a copy? Enquiring minds need to know! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 2:02 AM


AMDobell: Confession time. Yeah, I wanted the whole crew back. Wash was harder; he HAD to be THAT GUY, not a copy or a twin or anything, because of Zoe. Book... was always kind of a mystery anyway. Not that this was easy, and the "I'm Just Not Gonna Tell You" ending isn't completely satisfying even to me, but I figured I had more wiggle room there.

But now, I figure, there can be post-movie adventures with EVERYBODY! Which is what *I* wanted, anyway...


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The Four Winds, Epilogue
The end...or maybe just another beginning.

The Four Winds, Chapter 25
The rest of the crew return home.

The Four Winds, Chapter 24
Me and Elwood, we're puttin' the band back together.

The Four Winds, Chapter 23
Inara investigates matters; Mal discovers that the impossible has been done in his absence.

The Four Winds, Chapter 22
River needs Mal to solve her problem; Mal is forced to provide information to the Alliance.

The Four Winds, Chapter 21
When Mal tries to recover the cargo, will he lose more than he stands to gain?

The Four Winds, Chapter 20
Mal makes changes to his plan; River puts her plan into action; Inara decides on a plan of her own; Wash finds something he'd lost.

The Four Winds, Chapter 19
Simon gets an alias; Mal gets a look at his client; Wash gets a shock.

The Four Winds, Chapter 18
Our Heroes - and Our Villains - try to figure a way out of the mess they're in.

The Four Winds, Chapter 17
River finds out what's really going on; Simon and Zoe fall into the wrong hands.