Trouble for Nothing 2.0
Monday, November 28, 2011

Mal, Kaylee and Wash land on Persephone for hull inspection. He shouldn’t feel alarmed, but the Captain is always apprehensive about such things. He’s a little nervous, but remembers the advice of the family physician that used to be his doctor on Shadow. “Just take a sugar pill with your medicine and things will be alright” least that’s what ‘ol Doc Jenkins used to say. Of course Mal ain’t on Shadow anymore….. And his mom didn’t used sugar pills, she used castor oil…. as a chaser for medicine. And for those who are familiar with castor oil…..all I can say is that you have to sit still and let things progress naturally……BPZ


Trouble for Nothing, Tricks for Free 2.0 Miranda, she….so filled with sorrow, For many there, there’s no tomorrow, They came, they saw, they looked, they fed, The lucky one’s became the dead, Their flesh was hell, their bodies mangled, They cut their flesh and bodies tangled, For them, no peace, no way to stop it, Looking skyward, they searched for a prophet…..

From “Whispers of the Albatross” R. Tam’s ledger : 2517 _______________________________________________________________

“ Port Authority to Serenity, you are cleared to land, “DOCK 15”! came the voice over the transport’s com system.

“ Affirm instructions, Serenity out!” Wash switched the mic over to audible control so that he could confer with Malcolm on the bridge.

“ Well, there we are Mal, set to dock and hope we can get this over with as quickly as possible.”

“ Agreed,” Mal said, as he watched his pilot make ready his landing approach.

“Soon as we’re on the ground, straighten things around here a bit, I want the ship to look as tidy and well attended as we can. We’re already late. I don’t want to have to answer any more questions than I have to. I want the boat to look neat and kept, not like we just rented her for a weekend picnic.”

“ But didn’t we just rent…..”

“ Yeah, I know, but they don’t have to,” the Captain finished before heading down to the cargo hold.

****************** Once on the ground, Malcolm Reynolds stood with his arms folded across his chest in the cargo bay of the Chameleon as Kaylee lowered the loading ramp. He was waiting for the inspection team to arrive and perform their look-over of his phony Firefly transport. Then he could receive his stamp of approval and be on his merry to contact Badger.

He heard a shuffling sound behind him and looked to see his ace pilot had come down to join him and Kaylee in the cargo hold.

Mal glanced over at Wash.

“Everything ready on the bridge?”

Wash looked at him.

“Ready to fool those fools that think they can come here and fool with us, those fools,” the pilot said.

The Captain didn’t seem to be laughing at his pilot’s sense of humor at present. Wash snapped to attention in his Hawaiian shirt. He stood stiff as a board and saluted Mal as if he, himself, were Zoe.

“ Yes, Captain! Ship ready for inspection SIR!”

Mal said nothing. He just gave his pilot that “Not Funny” look. Mal wondered if his pilot ever had a serious bone in his body? He assumed that when he was born he looked at his mother and quested, “ That was fun, can I go again?”

Or maybe they’d just dropped him on his head at the hospital. Something had to be the blame for Wash being the way he was. What Malcolm Reynolds failed to realize was, that when Wash was nervous, humor was the way he dealt with things. Actually it was how Serenity’s pilot coped with most everything.

In fifteen minutes six people in uniform came and stood at the bottom of the loading ramp.

“ Lieutenant James Carroll SCOD (Securities & Compliance Operations Division) requesting permission to board….” He looked down at his paperwork, “Firefly, Serenity, ID Registry- 404-E-132-4FE274A…... Captain Reynolds?”

“ I’m Captain Reynolds,” Mal said, “permission granted.”

The team proceeded up the ramp, stepping past the Captain, his pilot and his mechanic and began to disperse to different areas around the ship.

In twenty-two minutes each one returned, and without saying a word they exited down the ramp leaving only Lieutenant Carroll in their wake.

“ Captain Reynolds,” Carroll called to the ship commander, “ I need your signature sir,” he held out the papers on a clipboard for Mal to sign.

“ My pleasure,” Mal smiled, and began to write, “ I was thinking this was going to be a long and tedious affair,” Mal spoke, “turns out that it wasn’t that bad at all. Guess the efficiency of the activity and personnel have been polished and speeded up since the last time mandatory compliance was ordered. ”

The Lieutenant’s brow curled.

“I think you may have misunderstood the process Sir. This was only the pre-inspection exam. The main inspection crews will not be able to arrive at your location until noon. All the pre-team does is make sure boxes, crates or other heavy cargo supplies are not in the way of the main team when they get here. Yes we have become more efficient. Can you imagine how long it would take if the Core-1 inspection team arrived and had to move all sorts of things out of their way to do hull inspections. You’d likely be here for two days, minimum.”

Mal was shocked, and Kaylee and Wash weren’t happy either. There was no humorous look on the pilot’s face this time.

*************** Three hours and twenty-seven minutes later Mal and Wash were on the bridge when a message came over the com system.

“ Attention Serenity, this is inspection crew Core-1 at the loading ramp requesting entry to do hull examination, has permission been granted?”

Mal got on the mic.

“Compliance crew Core-1, granted. Come aboard.” he said. Mal had chosen not to greet them at the loading ramp this time. He didn’t feel it was necessary to get any more surprises that day than he already had. He just sat back in the co-pilot’s chair with the desire, for the moment, to be lazy. If they needed anything they could find him on the bridge. If things progressed well, in half an hour or so, he might get up and tour the ship. Until then, he would sit, drink Kaylee’s engine concoction, and wait for the Feds to finish their annoying business.

For fifty minutes, things seemed to flow systematically. The cargo bay was inspected, then the shuttles, the infirmary, the bunks, galley, and engine room. Mal had gotten bored sitting in the cockpit and had gotten up to stretch his legs. The inspectors paid him little heed as he watched them do their duty, and in his mind, Mal was glad that he had chosen the Chameleon as a decoy. The way the exam team was prodding and digging around, they would have easily found some of his secret storage areas, had he landed with the real Serenity.

One of the Compliance team members approached him in the cargo hold.

“Well Captain Reynolds, but for a few minor infractions, your boat is space worthy, and there is little call for updates or hull improvements. You and your crew have done a fine job keeping her manicured.”

“ Thank you,” Mal said, “ is this all?”

“ Well sir, we do have to confer with a higher authority here, which would be Lieutenant …….”

“ Inspector Espenson!”

The two folk paused at the thunderous voice that had come booming up from the bottom of the landing ramp.

“Commander Harrow!”

Mal looked to see with his own eyes the very fellow that was his client on several occasions. There was Sir Warrick Harrow, at the foot of the loading ramp, standing in the thin, dry, dirt of the landing dock. His hands posed behind his back as if he was passing muster on a line of Freedom-Fighters during the U-War. Commander Harrow eased his way up the ramp and presented himself before the two standing there.

“Sir! This is Captain Reynolds. Owner, operator of the vessel open now for your inspection approval!” The lower ranking inspector informed him.

Malcolm Reynolds would have never guessed in a millennium that Sir Warrick Harrow would be part of an inspection team performing hull exams on Persephone. He was in total surprise to see the man standing there, although he tried not to show that he had recognized him. It might not show well if he let on that he knew the man, either in a friendly way, or on business terms.

“Captain Reynolds, I see that your flight plan not only reads that your purpose for stopping on Persephone is to establish compliance for the Verse Code Standard of SOUP, but also, that you have a business arrangement.”

Warrick stood before them, in his compliance officer’s uniform, yet he still retained the broad red ribbon that proclaimed his “Lordship”.

*Vehicles landing anywhere in the verse were supposed to supply a pre-docking manifest on the ship‘s computer system so that the Home World could establish a service plan in which they could provide assistance to the guests if need be. Also, the visitor could outlined their purpose for being there, whether for business or pleasure. This was something that could be viewed by the planet’s Port Authority from the ship’s computer. It worked well on the Core worlds, but mostly on the rim and some of the border planets it was simply ignored….

“ Yes, Commander Harrow,” Mal began, “ we may have a supplier/client business arrangement here on the planet (meaning Badger) , after hull inspection,” he said, then added, “ nice sash!”

Harrow requested the inspections clipboard from his Core-1 Team examiner Espenson and reviewed it. Without looking up he began….

“Well, looks like Captain Reynolds’s ship is in order inspector,” he handed the clipboard back to her, “ I think we can forgive these minor checkmarks and let the man be on his way.”

“ Yes Commander,” Espenson said.

An instant later there came a message over Sir Warrick’s belt com.

“ Commander Warrick! This is Lieutenant Bartholomew…….requesting your presence on the ship’s bridge sir!”

The three of them looked at one another, then each made a pointed effort to gain the transport vessel’s bridge.


There, on the Chameleon’s bridge, stood another inspector. Mal remembered this fellow from when he’d first come aboard. He had been the only one who’d looked to be carrying a sidearm.

The three individuals stood in the Chameleon’s control center wondering what had been so important that the Lieutenant had called them up there?

“What is it Lieutenant?” Warrick asked.

“ I have some questions for the Captain sir.”

They all fell silent as the man ran his finger along the ship’s control consol, almost as if he were passing inspection on a recruit’s bunk in the army.

“Mr. Reynolds, you say that the last time this ship was inspected it was HERE….. on Persephone, two years ago?”

“That’s right.”

“Any major restoration work done, or maybe some extensive repairs since that time?”

“Maybe a few minor things, but nothing of great detail,” Malcolm was becoming a bit leery of the inquiry.

“Anything done to the bridge?”

“Nothing that I’m aware of.”

“The reason I ask is because I was here also at that time…..”

Then in a flash the Lieutenant removed the weapon from his holster and pointed it straight in Mal’s direction. The Captain was shocked, and almost began to raise his hands into the air.

“What’s this all about….?” Mal started, as all four witnessed Kaylee climbing up the stairs and entering the bridge.

“ It’s about this….” the Lieutenant said as he took his weapon and pressed it against his clipboard. There came a buzzing noise followed by what appeared to be the sound of a staple gun. Bartholomew turned the clipboard around so that the men and the mechanic could see what he’d done.

“Recognize this?”

Mal could see what looked to be the image of a purple flower. It was three times the size of a copper and had definite pointed petals.

“A purple Perennial?”

“ You could say that,” the Lieutenant said, “ ….or actually it’s the nine point Union Star. You familiar with the Alpha Constellation Sergeant Reynolds?”


Mal was familiar with the Alpha Constipation. What traveler that prowled the darkness of space wouldn’t be? It was a star cluster which contained an arrangement of stars that resembled characters of the written alphabet. Two English, and two Chinese. An “A” and a “U” were the English characters, a “Z” and a “Y” were the Chinese.

Mal also knew that the Union Star was the bottom most star that lay in the belly of the “U” character. The part of the question that had really gathered his attention though, was the part where Inspector Bartholomew had called Mal “Sergeant”.

“Yes Captain Reynolds, I know that you were a browncoat, and I know that you were a Sergeant in the Independence Army,” he paused a second. “ You fought at the battle of Du-Khang, I was there too. Only I was with the 603 Alliance Brigade. The Perennial, or Union Star, was our regimental symbol,” he again pointed to the emblem printed on the paper.

“You see Captain I WAS there, and here, two years ago, making hull inspection just as I’m doing now. The thing is, that on every one of the three thousand ships I inspected, I also stamped them with the Union Star with this Perm-Tracer, and I show your ship, Serenity, as being on my list of inspections,” he shot Mal an untrusting glance,

“Yet I can not find this emblem where I left it stamped upon your ship. You said there haven’t been repairs made to the bridge? I’m just wondering where my nine pointed Union Start went sir? This marking gun not only applies the ink, it also burns it into the surface, it is not removable by any means,” he said.

Why, Mal was asking himself, why in every batch of Allied authority did he come across an overachieving asshole?

“See Mr. Reynolds, on Fireflies I usually apply it to the backside of the bridge’s support beam here. It’s hardly noticeable, and not a bad design to look at. If your ship was here two years ago, why am I not finding my mark?”

Looking at the Union star, printed on the clipboard,…….if Mal had seen it, he’d have only guessed that it was one of Kaylee’s flower designs. But his main concern now was coming up with a fib that could fool the inspectors.

Mal was pretty good at spinning falsities, but only if he’d had time to practice. His natural state was honesty, which many times was a disadvantage. Anyway, he wasn’t used to lying through his teeth at the drop of a hat, so this was going to take some creative bullshitting. He took a gulp of air before attempting to begin his yarn.

“You talking bout this thing here?” Kaylee spoke up and pulled a polished steel medallion from under her grease stained coveralls. It hung from a chain around her neck and she presented it so that everyone could see. It matched perfectly with the Union Star of Lieutenant Bartholomew’s label gun . All eyes opened wide. A grin posted upon the Captain’s face, although his brow remained curled into a question.

“ Why yes?” Lieutenant Bartholomew stated, “ Where’d you get that?”

“From that beam you have your hand on,” Serenity mechanic stated, “ the ship sustained some damage when the Captain happened to be “tied up” on Skyplex one time, that support beam had to be replaced. I guess that’s why he didn’t remember it. Anyway, I liked the design so I kept it and had a medallion made out of it.”

“shèng lashi ” ( *Holy Crap), it was the perfect deception Mal thought. He looked at his little mechanic. Kaylee was becoming better at fibs than he was!

“ So, guess we’re through here!” Harrow stated. He signed the papers, and stamped the approved record.

“ Guess you can be on your way,” he told the Mal. The three inspectors exited the bridge. They gathered the remaining team as they left the craft and headed to DOCK 16.

Mal watched them from the top of the loading ramp as they disappeared into Persephone’s late afternoon ,dusty, windblown docking area. His arms folded across his chest again. He turned to see Kaylee standing at his side. He smiled…..

“Explain to me what just happened?”

End Part 2


Monday, November 28, 2011 5:55 AM


"Constipation" sorry about that. I guess when dealing with the Compliance Authority, there ain't no shit!


Monday, November 28, 2011 6:08 AM


I just loved Mal imagining Wash saying "when he was born he looked at his mother and quested, “ That was fun, can I go again?”--perfect Wash humor. Loved how Kaylee saved the day. So are we gonna find out what happened?

Monday, November 28, 2011 6:32 AM



Glad that you got the humor of both the “intended” and the “unintended”……..

I showed my beta reader this….. They laughed their a$$ off also….. Just one of them things I guess.

Anyhoo, thanks for the quick response. Didn’t know how this would be received? Yeah, seems like each one of the crew, at one time or another pulls Mal’s a$$ out of the fire…lol.

I can see Mal thinking this of Wash too…..ha..ha..ha..

Yes….chap 3 is likely to be the final….. Thanks for sticking around for the story, even with all it’s flaws.


Monday, November 28, 2011 2:24 PM


Quick thinking by Kaylee, wonder how she pulled it off.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3:46 PM


Howdy Byte....

Yepper, the Serenity mechanic has come through many a time to save the Captain. Might be that she had some help this time though. Can't say more.

see ya, BPZ


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