Virtual Firefly episode 1x16 (act four)
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"The Big Stick" (act four): This is the first episode of the Virtual Firefly project. Look for our web site in early 2006.



FOLKS run in every direction, in a bit of semi-organized chaos. An evacuation of sorts seems to be in progress.

Jayne walks against the crowd, checking Vera. Simon, wandering within the crowd, finds himself face-to-face with Jayne.

SIMON: Any word from the Captain?

Jayne shakes his head no.

JAYNE: These folk really think they can hide in them mines?

SIMON: It’s their best chance, I suppose.

JAYNE: Heard they’s got a few shuttles hidden somewhere. We should “borrow” one. Could be off-planet when things turn red. Captain’d pick us up in a few days…

SIMON: You’re not suggesting we abandon—

JAYNE: Didn’t say it was what I’s gonna do, Doc. Said it was what we SHOULD do. If we was smart.

It dawns on both of them that River is there, barefoot, watching.

RIVER (to Simon): Like I said. We can trust him now.


Security Central is a bunker built into the side of a small mountain. It’s a fenced-in military installation, and the front blast-doors are protected by two of the large guns that surround the city.


The room is small and utilitarian. An OFFICER sits at a desk, which is in front of a heavy looking door. He’s fiddling with something on his computer.

Two GUARDS, armored and armed with rifles, flank the door.

Book and Zoe stand in front of the desk, dressed in their disguises. Book is doing a tremendous job of selling the commodore act. He has a sneer of bored disdain on his face and looks like he’d kill the Officer soon as shake hands with him.

OFFICER: Everything seems to be in order for your visit, sir… If you’ll just give me your datacard, I can pass you right through.

Book hands over the card with an annoyed sigh.


Mal and Inara sit at the table.

INARA: They’ll be fine, Mal.


MAL: Should be there my own self.

INARA: Mal, you can’t always—

Hicks rushes in.

HICKS: They should be in by now.

Mal stands.

MAL (to Hicks): Tell Wash to prep.


A GUARD leads Book down the hall, Zoe trailing behind them.

BOOK: —am quite sure the level of incompetence I’ve already seen will continue when I review your records. Your man kept me waiting nearly four minutes. FOUR MINUTES! I understand that Fort Liberty is a {useless peasant} drop-off point in the middle of nowhere, but I’d think that you would have a little more respect when you wear that uniform!

Even Zoe looks like she’s beginning to feel bad for the Guard.

BOOK (cont’d): Don’t you know who I am? I should not be kept waiting for a single minute, much less four!

They arrive at a large door with “COMPUTER ROOM” stenciled on it. The Guard looks very relieved.

GUARD: We’re here, sir.


The computer room is large, roughly the size of Serenity’s cargo hold, but filled with banks and rows of machines. It looks like a NASA command station, although largely unmanned. There are six TECHS on duty, as well as two GUARDS, who snap to attention as Book storms in like he owns the place.

The PRIMARY SECURITY CORE, which is a tower of cables and spinning reel-to-reels, is in the center of the far wall.

Book stalks through the room, stopping periodically to look at this console or that, more than once running his finger over a screen as if testing for dust. In general, he appears increasingly annoyed and highly disapproving.

Zoe follows him like a loyal puppy.

Book stops for a beat in front of the primary security core and gives her the briefest of nods. She sidles up to it and stays there.

Book struts back toward the center of the room.

BOOK: Who’s in charge here?

One of the Techs (BAGGETT) nervously stands and salutes.

BAGGETT: Watch-commander Baggett, sir.

Book approaches Baggett.

BOOK: Watch-commander Baggett…

With all attention trained on Book, Zoe slides her hand down to her belt and slowly pushes the button on Hicks’ COOL GADGET, which is clipped to her belt like some sort of utility item.

A tiny RED LIGHT flares up.

BOOK (to Baggett): Where were you raised?


BOOK (‘don’t test me’): Where were you raised?

BAGGETT: Sinhon, sir. Shendao Province.

Book sighs.

BOOK: I find that quite surprising, Mister Baggett. Based on the way you manage your watch, my assumption is that you were raised in a barn. Or a cave. Or perhaps in a den of wolves, sucking at the hind tit of a bitch?

Baggett flinches.

All eyes are on Book as he walks closer still, running a finger along one of the consoles.

Zoe risks a glance at the cool gadget. The light is YELLOW.

BOOK: This dust is well beyond the acceptable level for an Alliance computer facility. Are you aware of how much damage one mote of dust can cause to such delicate machinery?

BAGGETT: No, sir. Er, I mean, yes, sir.

Book is now nose-to-nose with Baggett.

BOOK: Imagine a grain of sand in your eye. A single grain. Imagine you cannot remove it, and no tears will come. How much damage will that single grain do to you in the span of a blinking week? A blinking day?

Baggett blinks and looks down.

Book circles around Baggett and glances at Zoe.

She looks down. Light’s still yellow. She shakes her head “No.”

BOOK: Just because you’ve been assigned to the ass-end of the ‘verse does not give you the right to behave like a savage, Mister Baggett. You are an Alliance officer.

BAGGETT: Yes, sir.

BOOK: Shall I list the protocols you’ve broken in my brief visit here? There are seventeen. I fear by the time I reach the fourth, your {pathetic excuse for a little mind} will have shut down.

Zoe looks down. GREEN.

She reaches urgently for her FUTURE CELL PHONE, also on her belt, pretending to have received a call.

BOOK (cont’d): Six-oh-oh-five-oh-one. Failure to properly address a superior officer. Three-three-two-one-two-two. Improper use of—

ZOE: Sir?

Book glares at her.

ZOE (cont’d): Priority call from the port. Seems some locals tried to break into the shuttle. I can look into it myself if you—


Book circles back in front of Baggett and eyes him.

BOOK (cont’d): I believe I’ve seen enough here.


The lower CARGO DOORS are open, and wind rushes in. Mal, near the edge, is strapped into a harness connected to the winch. As Inara stands near, Kaylee makes last minute adjustments to his harness, and hands him a set of GOGGLES.

MAL (dubious): You sure this is safe?

KAYLEE: We strap in Jayne all the time.

Not what Mal wanted to hear.

KAYLEE (cont’d): Maybe you should have a hat. Jayne always has a hat.

INARA: Mal, be careful. You can barely stand.

MAL: Nothin’ to be careful about. If Hicks did everything right, there shouldn’t be no guard anyway.

INARA: Still—

Hicks runs in, onto the upper CATWALK.

HICKS: Zoe sent the signal. Security network’s down. We’re headed in!


Gleason sits at one of the giant cannons, looking completely bored.

Suddenly, Serenity WHOOSHES overhead. It continues along the wall to the next gun down the line.

GLEASON: What the—? That little {mouse turd} is still going through with it!

Gleason abandons his post and chases after Serenity on foot, running along the top of the city wall.


Book and Zoe follow a GUARD down the hall. The guard is far enough ahead of them that they can speak freely (in low tones, at least).

Book barely holds it together. He looks queasy, sick.

ZOE: Preacher…

Book’s head snaps in her direction. He looks guilty. He’s expecting the inevitable comment along the lines of “Funny how a preacher knows such things…”

ZOE (cont’d): I’m not even gonna ask.


Mal is lowered down from Serenity above. He finds his feet near the empty cannon, and attaches the cables that lowered him to the gun in a half dozen places.

He slips black goggles over his eyes, lights a CUTTING TORCH and begins his work cutting the gun free.

When he’s almost finished, he hears the THUD OF BOOTS running his way. He raises the goggles and sees Gleason, his nose in a bandage as well.

MAL (under his breath) Like lookin’ in the mirror… (to Gleason) You again! Haven’t we tussled enough?

GLEASON: Me stopping you – That’s the kind of heroics that’ll get me off this wall!

Gleason roars and runs at Mal, who lowers his goggles and raises the torch. Gleason screams, blinded, as Mal follows up with a kick to his chest.

Gleason flies back and tumbles over the wall. The fight is over before it began. Mal climbs onto the gun.

MAL (yelling up): Kaylee! We’re clear!

The cables connected to the cannon go taut. There’s a SCREAM of protesting metal as it begins to tear free.

As Serenity takes off, Mal and the cannon hanging below, Mal looks down to where Gleason lay in a broken heap.

MAL (wincing): Ouch! Not like lookin’ in the mirror no more…


A half-dozen armed folks, mostly men, mostly hard-looking, wait nervously, along with Jayne, Simon, River, and Bernabe. Otherwise, the settlement is deserted.

JAYNE (to Bernabe): Soon as they set down, we’ll start shootin’. Fall back and drawn ‘em to the snipers and traps. ‘Course, they decide to strafe the street, might as well just shoot yourself.

SIMON (to River): I wish you’d gone to hide with the others, River.

RIVER: The fruit wasn’t really forbidden, Simon. No need to hide.

Doane approaches the group.

DOANE: One of the signal buoys just detected multiple incoming vessels.


FIVE SLAVER SHIPS cut their way through space, looking sinister and gothic. The DUNGEON SHIP is five times Serenity’s size, slow, laden, as if weighed down by the many slaves it carries.

It’s surrounded by four OUTRIDERS. These mismatched ships are smaller than Serenity, and fast. They bob and weave like a pack of wolves protecting the dungeon ship.

They approach Haven, the light of the system’s SUN glinting off their dark hulls.

Then, out of the bright sun’s glare, comes SERENITY, placing herself in the slaver’s path, her nose dipped lower than usual.

Two of the outriders surge forward.


Wash, at the controls, stares straight ahead as if he can make the outriders back down by not blinking. Mal stands calmly behind him.

MAL: Now.



WASH (cont’d): Now.


On, the OUTRIDERS come. SERENITY flips up, showing them her belly.


The CARGO DOORS, which are open. The CANNON is winched in so that it would be pointing straight down. Or, more to the point, so that it is now pointed directly at one of the outriders.

Zoe, manning the cannon in a SPACE SUIT, fires.

One of the outriders silently explodes.

Zoe can’t do much more than point and shoot, so she waits as Wash aims the ship for her.

She fires. The second outrider arcs, the the cannon’s shell passing wide of the mark, and retreats to the dungeon ship.

The slavers peel away from Haven.


Kaylee and some of the citizens of Haven are finishing mounting the cannon on the outskirts of town. Mal, Bernabe, and Hicks watch from a safe distance.

MAL (to Hicks): You done okay, di-di {little brother}. You wanna fly on my boat again, I think I’d be okay with that.

HICKS: Sorry about your face.

MAL: Faces heal. Broken promises don’t.

Hicks smiles.

BERNABE: Can’t thank you enough, Mal. Don’t think we’ll have to worry about slavers or Reavers anytime soon. Reckon it’d take a full-scale Alliance warship to get past this thing!


The crew of Serenity and the good folks of Haven share a meal. There’s food aplenty, and more than enough smiles and laughter to go around. (This scene is done without dialogue).

Everyone’s there except Book.

Mal and Inara share a laugh, as do Hicks and Kaylee.

Kaylee says something to Simon, but he barely responds, because he’s glaring at Jayne, who’s sitting a little too close to River for Simon’s tastes.

Wash and Bernabe laugh with Zoe, clearly mocking her about something. She laughs, then looks serious for a moment as she scans the crowd…


Zoe knocks on Shepherd Book’s door.

ZOE: Preacher? You in there?


BOOK: Yes.

ZOE: Folks’re asking after you, Shepherd. Want to thank you for the part you played. Couldn’t have done it without you.

BOOK (strained): Be there straight away, Zoe. Just finishing a short prayer.

Zoe looks at the closed door. She doesn’t necessarily accept that, but what else can she do?


More laughter and fun. Now Doane is playing his guitar. Inara and Mal dance, as do River and Jayne.

Kaylee tries to get Simon to join, but when he refuses, Hicks steps in.

Wash dances with… Bernabe?

Zoe rejoins the group, laughing at the sight of her husband and their friend cavorting like morons.


Book sits on his bed, alone, shoulders hunched, dressed once again in his preacher’s garb.

The CAP of the Alliance uniform is clutched tightly in his hands.

Shepherd Book, looking very tired and very old, sobs quietly.



Wednesday, December 28, 2005 9:33 AM


Excellent episode! I loved the play on familiar images from the show, such as River dancing, and the way you fleshed out the people on Haven.

Had a very Firefly feel, all of it.

Minor quibble: I find it a bit odd that Inara and Mal seem to cordial at the end when they spent most of the episode very tense around each other, plus the unresolved issue of her leaving. How did they go from that to dancing, which seems a lot more friendly than they even usually are on good days...?

The rest? Whee! I'm looking forward to January. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 10:00 AM


This was a really good episode! I like where this is going and can't wait for ep. 2 :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 12:54 PM


Sweet! :D Very enjoyable...and I don't want to tip my hand early, but I am covering this ep in the Fanfic Review in Ep #12 of Firefly Talk!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 2:38 PM


Very fine, I especially like that for once the 'job' seemed to go without a hitch though my heart grieves for Book. Shiny! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 4:03 PM


Before going into criticisms I'm gonna come out and say that while this isn't the best fanfic I've ever read, this is the best I've read in a long time. Being done in script helps a lot (I find a lot of fanfic writers are good with capturing the characters voices, but can't actually write prose well), but this is a solid episode.

However, here come the criticisms.

Jayne and River. I don't buy into Jayne not only being comfortable around River, but commenting on her attractiveness. If they'd interacted at all since "I can kill you with my brain" I'd be less bothered, but this seems so out of character for him, it was a real stickler for me.

While River's actions were spot on her dialogue really wasn't. She was far too sane. She talks the talk, but it feels like too much. There was obviously some thought put into what she meant every time she talked, and it really shows. In the show she rambles, half of it is crazy, the other half can be interpreted in half a dozen ways. In this, it's obvious what she's talking about every time. She's existing in her own little world that makes sense to her whereas she confesses in the series and movie that her craziness makes just as little sense to her as it does to everyone else. I think you need to be much smarter with her dialog, or much crazier.

I'm not sure how I felt about Inara joining in the caper, I think my main problem is I didn't understand it. It's never really explained why she's there, other than she's needed.
Also, her and Mal dancing at the end felt very wrong.

Overall though a very nice start to the series. Well done!

Sunday, January 1, 2006 9:41 AM


I thought this read like a real episode. I loved the foreshadowing with Mr. Universe and Haven.

Re: Book losing something he wants back - I read that as he was being remorseful for his past deeds in the Alliance and having gone back in the environment has brought back terrible memories - but maybe I'm reading it wrong.

I agree that Mal and Inara probably wouldn't dance, just stare longingly when they thought the other wasn't looking. ::knocks their heads together:

The only thing I thought that really felt out of place was Mal calling Hicks "little brother." He'd probably come closer to calling him son, like he does Simon.

Overall, I'm very impressed. I really didn't think this would mesh so well with the other episodes, but you guys DONE GOOD!

Can't wait until the next round.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 9:10 AM


Excellent fanfic, indeed. It really felt like an unaired episode script.

However I just didn't get the River/Jayne pairing, it just didn't seem very much in character for the two. I don't necessarily feel that every character needs to be paired up with another.

Also Jayne just seems a bit too noble, I'm still waiting for him to do the wrong thing, which consistenly he usually always does.

But excellent portrayal into Book's possible past Alliance connections.

Overall very well done and I can't wait to read more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 1:17 PM


Just wanted to say this entire series kicks butt!
I look forward to every new episode more eagerly than anything on my mailing lists.
Thanks for all the hard work!! :)


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Virtual Firefly episode 1x22 (act four)
“Those Left Behind” (act four): This is the Season One finale of the Virtual Firefly project. This particular tale is adapted from the Dark Horse comic book miniseries. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x22 (act three)
“Those Left Behind” (act three): This is the Season One finale of the Virtual Firefly project. This particular tale is adapted from the Dark Horse comic book miniseries. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x22 (act two)
“Those Left Behind” (act two): This is the Season One finale of the Virtual Firefly project. This particular tale is adapted from the Dark Horse comic book miniseries. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x22 (act one)
“Those Left Behind” (act one): This is the Season One finale of the Virtual Firefly project. This particular tale is adapted from the Dark Horse comic book miniseries. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x22 (teaser)
“Those Left Behind” (teaser): This is the Season One finale of the Virtual Firefly project. This particular tale is adapted from the Dark Horse comic book miniseries. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x21 (act four)
“Chains” (act four): This is the sixth episode of the Virtual Firefly project. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x21 (act three)
“Chains” (act three): This is the sixth episode of the Virtual Firefly project. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x21 (act two)
“Chains” (act two): This is the sixth episode of the Virtual Firefly project. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x21 (act one)
“Chains” (act one): This is the sixth episode of the Virtual Firefly project. Check out our web site at!

Virtual Firefly episode 1x21 (teaser)
“Chains” (teaser): This is the sixth episode of the Virtual Firefly project. Check out our web site at!