The Hot Place, Act II
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our heroes are plunging towards Ezra, and meanwhile Inara & co. have a little trouble with police...


ACT II FADE UP TO: EXT. SERENITY, at station-keeping some distance from the skyplex. CUT TO: INT. SERENITY, where Inara and River are looking out of the cockpit windows for any sign of Shuttle II. River: They’re overdue. Inara: It isn’t time to worry yet. The passenger didn’t give a definite time, I gather. River: Something’s wrong. They haven’t called. Hide and seek. Inara: Well, whatever they’re playing at, I hope they’re having fun. River (with a look of foreboding): They’re not... CUT TO: EZRA’S UPPER ATMOSPHERE - Shuttle II is beginning to skim the atmosphere. She briefly ascends, then descends again - skipping as Jayne suggested in Act I. Mal (cheery): Lookin’ good, people! We’re almost slowed enough to try re-entry! Zoe (doubtfully): Sir, I don’t like the look of our hull temperature. Mal (nonchalant): So we’re gettin’ hot. Bound to. She can take it. Zoe’s look says she’s not so sure. Mal’s talking more to hear himself than to seriously reassure them, and she knows it. Pragmatic as ever, though, she drops the matter. Kaylee (tactfully): Maybe a little shallower, cap’n? Hull’s still tight, there’s no rush. Mal: Makes sense. (Zoe throws Kaylee a look, i.e. ‘What the hell? He listens to you, but not me?’ Kaylee answers with a shrug) Okay, apply a li’l trim here... He fires thrusters; the shuttle responds by tilting her nose up a little. The inferno raging outside the hull eases off a bit. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief as the internal temperature drops somewhat. Mal: What’d you reckon, Mach 12 or thereabouts? Zoe: Be happier with 10, sir. These things ain’t gliders. Mal: Least we got power. Zoe: With everythin' else that's gone wrong, you just had to go an’ say that, didn’t you, sir? Mal: Huh? (Then he loses attitude control!) Whoa! Kaylee?! Kaylee unfastens her harness and is thrown to the floor as the shuttle lurches. She crawls under the console again, working desperately. Kaylee (to the shuttle): What is wrong with you?! C’mon, work with me already! In a rare flash of temper, she hits the recalcitrant component that’s causing her grief. The thrusters immediately fire! Mal (well pleased): Got it! Nice work, Kaylee! (He swiftly regains control) Zoe (wryly, to Kaylee): Were these things built on Earth-That-Was? (Kaylee gives Zoe a puzzled look before returning to her seat and refastening the harness) Just wondering. Mal (decisively, in full cap’n mode): Okay, it’s now or never! Zoe, gimme a countdown on our airspeed! Soon’s it hits 10, I hit the for’ard thrusters and trim for re-entry! Brace for turbulence, people! Zoe: Airspeed Mach twelve point two, sir...eleven point nine...eleven point six...eleven point two...ten point! CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II, CLOSEUP ON HER NOSE. The for’ard thrusters fire - but one flares out! CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE II, TIGHT CLOSEUP ON MAL as his jaw sets and he hits the thrusters again. This time both thrusters fire and keep firing. CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II, THE SECTION OF HER BELLY HIT BY THE MISSILE. The hull is glowing, white-hot in places as the re-entry inferno blazes away. Abruptly there’s a puff of gas as the hull melts through! CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE II, TIGHT CLOSEUP ON ZOE as she gazes with dismay at a warning light on the console and an urgent beeping from same. Zoe (urgent): Hull breach, we’re losin’ pressure! Must be from where we were hit, sir! Kaylee: Don’t even ask, cap’n, nothin’ I can do! Mal: It’s okay, people, we’re nearly there! (He’s ignoring the fact for the moment that they’re still descending at Mach 8!) We’re in atmo! Kaylee! Kaylee (protesting): Cap’n - Mal: No, no, this is somethin’ else! Do the thrusters use the same fuel as the engines? Kaylee: No, but they can... (She gasps as she gets his idea) I’m on it! She again unbuckles, and dives for a hatch in the floor, flinging it aside. Revealed are several flexible pipes of varying thicknesses leading into and out of valves; she closes the inlet valves of two pipes and disconnects them. There’s a spray of clear fluid everywhere from one (to save on budget and so that the effects crew and actors don’t have to mess with possibly flammable liquids, this could be just water with a little mineral oil added for effect), and a reddish fluid from the other (same, plus carmine food dye). She then connects the homage to the Mythbusters, she uses - well, what else? - duct tape! Kaylee: Rerouting flow... (She monkeys with the various valves) Got it! Zoe: You’re gonna slow us down using the engine fuel in a sustained burn? Kaylee, will that work? Kaylee: Won’t burn too clean, but I guess we can’t worry ’bout that right now. (She returns to her seat and buckles in) Mal: With the engines dead, we got plenty o’ fuel not bein’ used. So we can use it for the thrusters, which generally don’t have much fuel, ’cause (wry look) you ain’t s’pposed to use ’em the way I’m gonna. Plus the engine fuel’s got a higher burn rating, right, Kaylee? (Kaylee nods) See, I know some tech stuff! So we get more reverse thrust, which is somethin’ we really need right now. Shiny. Zoe: Sir, the deceleration could tear us ap - Mal: I got no choice, Zoe - we can’t slow down any other way with the engines dead. Firin’ thrusters in! He fires the for’ard thrusters. CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II, CLOSEUP OF HER NOSE. The thrusters flare brightly, with a reddish tinge to the exhaust and not a little smoke. The shuttle shudders. Small bits of hull break off. CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II. ZOOM OUT RAPIDLY, to show the shuttle steadily losing altitude and speed. The thrusters are fired again; the shuttle drops further. And again. CUT TO: TIGHT CLOSEUP OF MAL, his face set in grim determination. CUT TO: TIGHT CLOSEUP OF ZOE, concerned as metal groans in protest at the enormous stress being placed upon it. CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II. The thrusters fire again. More hull plates come loose. CUT TO: TIGHT CLOSEUP OF KAYLEE, glaring around the shuttle’s interior as if daring anything else to go wrong. CUT TO: TIGHT CLOSEUP OF JAYNE, looking almost as grim as Mal. CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II. And again. Fewer plates come loose this time. Once more - then the thrusters flare out. The ground is now visible in shot, coming up way too fast! CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE II. Zoe: We’re outa fuel, sir. (Tired sigh) That’s it. It was a damn good try. Mal: We ain’t done yet, airspeed’s down to two-sixty - we can make it! Gonna try to skim us over those dunes, be just like a water landin’, like that time on Bellerophon, remember? Zoe: Sir, I don’t suppose this is the time to point out that sand ain’t water? Mal: No, but it should still slow us down! Hang on! Jayne: Mal, keep us level! Mal (sardonic): Oh, never woulda thought o’ that! VISUAL & SOUND F/X: the shuttle breasts a large dune with a WHOOMPH and shaves off the top two metres or so in a massive spray of sand that, given the current state of CGI art, is well within Zoic’s Emmy-winning capabilities to depict. The shuttle does indeed lose some velocity, though the cockpit windows are now partly obscured - and badly scratched, as the sand is highly abrasive. The shuttle rolls through several degrees, recovers and slams into another dune; same result. The shuttle has now slowed greatly. CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE II. A component in a wall blows out in the aft section, spraying Jayne with sparks. Jayne: Gorrammit! Mal: One more, I reckon! Unfortunately, luck is no longer with our heroes - the next ‘dune’ is in fact a sand-covered rock! Mal sees this far, far too late; before he can even try to pull up, the edge of the shuttle’s nose crumples with a shriek of stressed metal. More components blow out, and cracks appear in the inner hull. The cockpit glass cracks in several places. CUT TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II. A protruding finger of rock rips off the shuttle’s starboard wing, and that’s it for whatever pretence of control Mal had - the shuttle partly flips, and digs its way into the sand standing on its starboard edge, ploughing a channel for over two hundred metres, metal screaming, before coming to a shuddering halt and falling over, upside down. FADE TO: EXT. SHUTTLE II, what’s left of it, seen from above and off to one side. Smoke’s billowing from the engines. FADE TO: INT. SERENITY, still holding station. River and Inara are holding vigil. Then: Radio: Attention, Firefly-class transport: this is the police. Identify yourselves. Inara: Should we answer? River: I shouldn’t. I might still be a fugitive. That’d break the rules of hide-and-seek. CUT TO: EXT. SERENITY - another ship, much larger and heavily-armed, hoves into view from port aft. This is the same police ship which was firing accurately in Act I. CUT TO: INT. SERENITY. Inara: This is Firefly-class transport Serenity, answering police hail. Under the terms of Alliance Space Travel Regulation 552-167C, I request you identify yourselves. CUT TO: CLOSEUP OF SCREEN. It shows a middle-aged woman, clearly a high-ranking officer, who looks very harried and tired; she’s holding up her ID. Pull back from screen; Inara nods, satisfied. Inara: Thank you, Lieutenant Wayford. May I ask what this is about? Wayford: Are you the captain of this vessel, ma’am? Inara: No, but surely that isn’t important? We are currently engaged in a legitimate business transaction, Lieutenant; we’re awaiting the return of one of our shuttles, picking up a passenger. Wayford: This shuttle wouldn’t have been in the vicinity of the skyplex in the last few hours, by any chance? (Inara tenses) I ask because I’ve had conflicting reports of a small vessel which was apparently caught in crossfire - Inara (gasping): What?! Wayford: Apparently she took a near miss and one direct hit, though the warhead didn’t detonate. We have a partial visual - sending now... CUT TO: CLOSEUP OF SCREEN - showing a snapshot of Shuttle II as it took the missile hit. Inara: That’s it! That’s our shuttle! (Outrage) Why in the [name of all that’s sacred] were you firing on her?! Wayford (apologetic): We weren’t. This is very embarrassing... (She sighs) You see, it’s been literally years since we as a police force mounted such a big operation as seizing the skyplex (Inara gasps), and the majority of the force I could muster were kids, barely out of the Academy, with a scattering of experienced but near-retirement officers. To put it mildly, their marksmanship wasn’t up to par; mine was the only ship crewed with officers halfway competent to conduct such a seizure. Also (she looks sour) the only ordnance we had available was war-surplus government-issue missiles; not exactly top of the range even when they were new. Inara: None of which exonerates you! Wayford (pained): Please, ma’am, bear with me. I haven’t slept in two days, and I’m not likely to get any tonight; we’re still fighting the remnants of Niska’s forces. Have you heard from your shuttle at all? Inara: No, not a word. (She checks the console) We aren’t even receiving their beacon. Wayford (sighing again): Ma’am, I’m very sorry to hear that. You have to understand we’re very short of manpower, but we’ll mount a search in the vicinity. The chances are their engines are disabled; the hit appears to have been to the primary manifolds. All I can suggest is that you start your own search. Where were they headed? Inara (sighing herself): I don’t know exactly; it was all a little mysterious. But I have a nasty feeling they were in fact heading for the pick someone up from it. Wayford (suddenly attentive): In that case, ma’am, I must advise you to prepare for police boarding. Inara: WHAT?! Wayford: There’s a possibility that the “passenger” they were picking up was Adelei Niska - he’s missing and unaccounted for. Serenity, you are hereby ordered to surrender nav control immediately and heave to for inspection. Inara and River exchange anxious looks. SMASH CUT TO: VIEW FROM GROUND LEVEL, FACING SHUTTLE II’S COCKPIT. The cockpit’s now shattered. Through its remnants, we see our heroes hanging from their seat harnesses - battered, bruised and bleeding here and there, but still very much with us. CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE WRECK. She’s lost all power except batteries; most of the lights are dim or off. Mal (deservedly pleased with himself): Hey, not bad, huh? Zoe: Not quite like Bellerophon, but like they say, sir: any one you can walk away from. (Sincere) Well done, sir - you too, Kaylee. Mal: Everyone okay? Jayne (unable to resist it): Still hangin’. Kaylee: Yeah, I’m - (She breaks off, sniffing. She gasps) - oh, no! That’s the fuel catalyst, it smells unstable! Musta lost containment! Mal: Meaning? Kaylee: Uh, we might have a small explosion kinda thing, cap’n... Mal: Never rains...can you fix it? Kaylee (urgently): No, there’s no time! We gotta get out! Blow the hatch! Zoe: Kaylee, you sure it’s gonna blow? Kaylee: No, I’m not sure, but we better go, just in case. Jayne: Maybe we oughta stay here - this’ll be the first place they’ll look when they - SOUND F/X: A FIZZING SOUND. Kaylee (suddenly scared; she releases her seat harness and drops to the floor/ceiling): That’s it, we gotta go! She takes the initiative, slamming her fist in quick succession against two panels, one on each side of the hatch. As she hits the first: Computer voice: [Danger! Explosive bolts armed!] The hatch blows out as the explosive bolts fire, flinging the hatch well clear. The others release their seat harnesses and drop to the floor/ceiling of the shuttle. Zoe: We should take supplies - Kaylee (screaming, terrified, as the fizzing sound gets louder): No, no, RUN! It’s gonna blow! [For God’s sake, run!] They do, very fast. As they reach the nearest sand dune, there’s a small explosion. The shuttle catches fire. They pick up the pace, scrambling to the top of the dune desperately. There’s another, larger explosion. Kaylee makes the fatal mistake of looking back; the others outpace her before realising. Mal makes as if to go back for her; Zoe, seeing the danger, stops him. Kaylee (more desperate than ever, putting everything she’s got into climbing): RUN - !!! Zoe (at the same time): DOWN! VISUAL & SOUND F/X: BOOM! The shuttle explodes violently, completely tearing itself apart, just as three of our heroes reach the top of the dune and throw themselves down the other side, and Kaylee just makes it to the top. Debris flashes overhead. CUT TO: CLOSEUP OF KAYLEE’S LEFT THIGH - as a small piece of metallic shrapnel embeds itself! There’s as much of a spray of blood as network standards & practices will allow. Poor Kaylee screams in agony, clutches her injured leg and falls helplessly down the dune, trailing blood in her wake. Jayne (yelling): KAYLEE! CUT TO BLACK END OF ACT II


Wednesday, June 29, 2011 5:41 AM


And there we have it - I've hurt my favourite Firefly character...(sob)

But honestly, it's necessary for Act III; it's a source of dramatic tension. I ALMOST have it written...

Comments welcome as always!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 8:54 AM


Good story. I'd say that I think Inara is normally a little more on the ball in regards to River's prophecies, but other than that, you've got some nice plot tension building.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 2:50 AM



As to Inara, she will be more attentive in Act III, which is undergoing rewriting. So is Act IV, though this is painful because I've been having so much fun writing it - you'll see why when I post it. :)

However, I'm trying to keep every Act's effective running time to 10 minutes or so (I test this by reading it back, allowing odd realistic pauses here and there, plus the odd few seconds for establishing shots, pans, effects sequences etc.); that plus teaser, title sequence and credits should result in a running time of 45 minutes, i.e. an authentic episode length (or is it 50 minutes? Suddenly I'm not sure). For some reason, I feel this is important in writing such a script even though it's never going to be filmed. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011 8:43 PM


in homage to the Mythbusters, she uses - well, what else? - duct tape!

River : I shouldn’t. I might still be a fugitive. That’d break the rules of hide-and-seek.
^^^ VERY good River!!

And oh no!!! Kaylee!!! You can hurt her, just don't kill her, PLEASE *big Kaylee eyes* I mean, it would be such a waste, seeing as you write her so well! And also, because she's SHINY((: I'm sure Simon can fix her when they get back with Serenity? *is a hopeless Simon/Kaylee shipper:D*
anywhoo, can't wait for more of this, hope you update soon!!(((:


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The Hot Place, Act II
Our heroes are plunging towards Ezra, and meanwhile Inara & co. have a little trouble with police...

The Hot Place, Act I
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!

The Hot Place (teaser)
This one's in script format. Our Big Damn Heroes are in trouble again - Mal, Zoe, Jayne and Kaylee end up stranded on Ezra, with Kaylee hurt, and the others have NO idea where they are. During a battle to seize Niska’s skyplex, their shuttle is caught by a stray shot; the passenger they’d arranged to pick up neglected to mention a) the battle or b) that he was on the skyplex, the inconsiderate bunger. This takes place 3 weeks after “Unlikely Bedfellows”.

Unlikely Bedfellows, Chapter 2
It's here, as promised - a bit more background on Lindayne and her family, our Big Damn Heroes are off to Miranda...and the Hands of Blue are coming! In fact - they're he-eeeeere...!

Unlikely Bedfellows, Chapter 1
This is just to start the ball rolling, as our Big Damn Heroes encounter an Alliance officer with a conscience (c'mon, there'd have to be ONE) and the people of Haven may yet get a little justice.

Unlikely Bedfellows (Prologue)
I'm just posting the Prologue for the moment because if I don't post SOMETHING I'm gonna go outa my gorram mind! Anyway: it's just after the BDM, questions are being asked in Parliament, our Big Damn Heroes are coming up with new ways of makin' decent coin - and the Hands of Blue are on the move. Expect to see familiar faces, friends & enemies both!

Unlikely Bedfellows (Prologue, rest of)
Oops, I only posted one page of the Prologue. Here's the rest...

Unlikely Bedfellows (Prologue, rest of)
Oops, I only posted one page of the Prologue. Here's the rest...

Unlikely Bedfellows (Prologue)
I'm just posting the Prologue for the moment because if I don't post SOMETHING I'm gonna go outa my gorram mind! Anyway: it's just after the BDM, questions are being asked in Parliament, our Big Damn Heroes are coming up with new ways of makin' decent coin - and the Hands of Blue are on the move. Expect to see familiar faces, friends & enemies both!