J. C. Ravage
Matt Engstrom and George W. Krubski
Producer: David Elmer
Head Writer: George W. Krubski
Art Director: Sean Young
Disclaimer: The crew of the Serenity, the ‘Verse in which they live, and their fellow inhabitants are the property of Joss Whedon, Universal Studios, and/or Fox Television. They are used in this work of fan fiction with love and respect, but without permission.
EXT. LUHAN FARMHOUSE – DAY
Mal and Barrett face off, Barrett on the porch, Mal on the ground. Barrett is backed by his half dozen thugs, Mal by Zoe, Book (standing protectively in front of Jonah), and Randy, who has fumbled for a rifle.
I'm just trying to do the right thing. See after my new responsibilities.
Yes. My fault. My responsibilities. My property, once again.
Ain’t your property, boy! Jack bought it at auction fair and square!
Barrett wheels on Grandma Luhan.
Jonah begins to cry and takes a step toward his grandmother, but Book puts a hand on his shoulder.
Land was stole from my family during the war!
Book looks at Mal, who is quickly losing patience.
War took a lot of thing from lots of folks, Mister Barrett.
That it did.
Man’s got a right to live in his own house. Live where his memories are.
Seems to me it ain’t your house no more.
Barrett, increasingly agitated, paces the front porch.
Gorram Alliance stole the land for a base, never even built it. Then the bank took what’s left after, cut it up, sold the pieces to newcomers from the Core… folk like Jack Luhan lookin’ to build new lives on top of the ruins of someone else’s.
Ain’t sayin’ it’s fair, but it ain’t their fault, neither. Folks got a right to build a life.
Not on my land, they don’t.
A beat as Mal and Barrett stare at one another. They’ve reached an impasse.
Mrs. Luhan? Would you like to come down here? With us?
Grandma Luhan doesn’t get up.
I’ll stay here. No tellin’ what these boys will do to my baby’s house without me around to keep an eye on things.
Barrett’s boys laugh; they like her spunk.
Mrs. Luhan, I—
She looks at him hard, with watery eyes.
You’re him, ain’t you?
They told me what happened to my Carrie. You’re the one done it?
Mal looks away, unable to meet her gaze.
GRANDMA LUHAN (cont’d)
You understand what you have to do, yes? Look after the boy?
You go with these folk, Jonah. They’re good strong folk. They’ll take care of you.
Book has to pick the boy up and physically restrain him. Jonah cries into Books shoulder.
(to Grandma Luhan)
We’ll sort this out, ma’am.
I’ll be here waiting.
Mal points his gun at Barrett.
You hurt her—
I used to be a gentleman, outlaw. She’s safer with me than with the likes of you. I’ll see after her.
You touch her, we’re gonna have a reckoning, you and me.
Mal and his party slowly back away.
INT. SERENITY – CARGO HOLD – NIGHT
Kaylee and Mister Frye are on big ladders, welding an UPGRADED WINCH to the ceiling.
(holding a laser level)
Just a little to the left, Lee-lee. Have to get this steady or whatever you're hanging’ll come down on the gangways.
Right on it.
Simon paces near a PILE OF TOOLS at the base of the ladder, looking up and clearly trying—and failing—to be helpful.
River and Wash are on the UPPER CATWALK, both sitting tailor-style, playing WEI CHI. River is winning, moving quickly and paying more attention to her surroundings than the game.
Inara and Jayne set up for the auction, moving BOXES around to serve as tables and covering them with decorations, presumably from Inara’s shuttle.
Mister Frye, it’s very generous of you and your wife to assist us with our auction.
Anything we can do for our daughter’s friends, Miss ‘Nara. Me and the missus, we—
He shifts his arm, bumps loose one of the tools on his belt, and is unable to grab it in time.
MISTER FRYE (cont’d)
Boy! Watch it!
Simon dodges out of the way, narrowly avoiding being beaned by the tool. He goes too far, however, and trips over the tool boxes.
Jayne looks up from what he’s doing and laughs. Mister Frye joins in.
Lee-lee, truly! Boy shouldn’t be hoverin’ right ‘neath us. He’s askin’ for trouble. Glad you didn’t inherit my slipp’ry hands, girl!
Simon stands up, straightens the tools, trying to regain his composure.
Is… There anything I can do to help?
(under his breath)
Stop circlin’ underfoot like a lazy kitten for starters…
Can you run to my workshop? The shed out back behind the house? Fetch me the sonic distributor and an acetylene recharge.
Simon heads toward the AIRLOCK RAMP.
On the UPPER CATWALK, Wash and River’s game continues.
It's your move.
River glances back at the board. She casually places a stone, capturing a large formation of Wash’s stones, and turns her attention to Kaylee and Mister Frye.
Wash stares at the board, confused at how quickly he’s started to lose.
ON THE CARGO BAY FLOOR
Jayne continues to move boxes while Inara decorates in his wake.
We finally gonna sell that piece of fei-oo tomorrow?
That’s the plan.
Why'd anyone want it? Ain't no point to a gun that don't work.
(from the catwalk)
People like pretty things.
Before Inara or Jayne can respond, Mal strides up the ramp.
Everything goin’ okay?
Inara goes to him, and puts a comforting hand on his arm.
I didn’t know…
Beat as they look at each other. She nods.
Wash, having abandoned the game, is now on the cargo bay floor. In the background, Kaylee and Mister Frye come down their ladders, and Jayne approaches as well. There’s a feeling of “We’re done for the night.”
You bring my wife back with you, Captain?
In the house. She and Book’re tryin’ to get the little guy settled in for the night.
(to Mister Frye)
Your wife tells me she’s got a fine meal for us all.
I’m ready to eat. How ‘bout y’all?
Wash and Jayne look at each other, slowly walking down the ramp, jockeying for position to be first in line. Mal looks drained by the day’s events, but manages a genuine smile; he and Inara follow them in cordial silence.
Mister Frye looks at Kaylee.
MISTER FRYE (cont’d)
Lee-lee, you sure you’re okay? You seem different.
Been gone a while, Poppa. Being out in the black changes you.
He sees there’s something more.
I… We can…
We should go see if Momma needs any help.
Kaylee heads out and her father follows, leaving River alone in the cargo hold.
Gameboard abandoned, she looks into the palm of her hand, at the crumpled “runt of the litter” origami swan.
People like pretty things…
EXT. FRYE YARD – THE NEXT MORNING – ESTABLISHING
Morning lights the Frye house and its outbuildings, and Serenity and the other vessels.
INT. FRYE HOUSE – KITCHEN – DAY
Sunlight streams in through homespun curtains. The kitchen is small, with River (looking tired), Kaylee, Jayne, and Book sitting around a SMALL TABLE (which is a tight fit for even four) eating a hearty BREAKFAST of toast, eggs, and slabs of some sort of meat. Jonah stands, chair pushed out in the room, animatedly telling a story.
In the background, Mrs. Frye is at the kitchen counter, cooking.
And then he tried to get her to sign it over again, but she wouldn't! Not even when we ran out of money to fix the fence.
She sounds like a very brave woman, son.
Even, one time, he tried to marry her and get it that way, but she said “No way!”
Good for her.
Jayne takes a big forkful of food and crams it in his mouth, chewing lustily.
Mrs. Frye, this’s the best eggs I’ve et since… Since I seen my own momma!
Mrs. Frye laughs and keeps working.
Jayne realizes Johan’s staring at him and stops chewing.
Kaylee smiles at Jonah like he’s the cutest thing ever in the history of the
Do you think you could… Well, could you… Could you fight Mister Reynolds and Mister Barrett to get our house back?
Cap’n ain’t gonna take yer house, boy. Not his way, not like the other fella. But if he did…
(blustery, playing it up)
I'd do it. Fight ‘em both. Getcher Gramma back, too!
Jonah laughs in delight. Mister Frye comes in, muttering under his breath, he nods a greeting to everyone, then goes to the counter to get some food. The room is crowded and tight.
Jonah… Why don’t you sit down, son, have something more to eat?
Jonah listens to Book, although he’s fidgety.
(quietly, to Jayne)
Jayne, are you developing a taste for playing the hero?
I got a old momma, too. I get kilt, no one better turn her out.
Mister Frye pulls up an empty chair and squeezes in.
Workshop’s a mess…
River looks down at her plate.
MISTER FRYE (cont’d)
Fancy boy don’t know an acetylene recharger from his elbow…
Frye and Jayne share a smile. Mrs. Frye shakes her head as she continues her work.
Everyone exchanges looks as Simon joins them at the table, crowding in between River and Kaylee. Mister Frye, at least, has the good grace to look vaguely embarrassed.
Simon nods to Mister Frye. The sound of forks on plates is uncomfortably loud in the wake of Simon’s appearance. Jonah looks around.
Simon opens his mouth to make conversation, but hesitates, not sure who to start with. He looks at his sister.
Are you alright, River? You look tired.
Taking longer than I thought to make it pretty. Pretty swans fly straight.
While some might be used to River’s antics, the Fryes are not among them. Awkward beat.
So how exactly was it that you came to join the crew, Jayne?
Well, ma’am, I saw little Kaylee's pretty face and I just couldn't help myself...
Kaylee punches him in the arm and giggles. Simon’s fork freezes midway to his mouth.
Nah. Truth, I set out to rob the Cap'n, he hired me instead.
I'm a bad man.
JAYNE grins mock-evilly, causing first Jonah, then the Fryes and River, to laugh.
EXT. FRYE HOUSE – PORCH – SAME TIME
Wash and Zoe sit on a comfortable, if aging TWO-SEATER SWING, looking across the field at Serenity.
Man could get used to this.
This is a nice place. Good neighborhood.
If you like murderous, land-grabbing ranchers as your neighbors.
And those hospitable, friendly Fryes.
Likes of them make me sick.
He raises a mock-serious eyebrow as she laughs. She nestles closer.
Have to admit, sky was beautiful last night, all those stars. Almost like bein’ out among ‘em.
That’s right. Stars. That’s my top criterion for a home. Well, that and chickens. Got to have chickens…
Got stars aplenty right on Serenity, honey.
True enough, but it’s no place to raise a…
You know, someday, maybe a son—
As if on cue, the FRONT DOOR slams open and Jonah bursts out, running and laughing.
Before the door closes, River shoots out, also laughing.
Door starts to swing, then out rushes Book, trying to keep up.
Wash looks at Zoe and shrugs.
Okay, maybe not that one.
They settle back into the swing.
EXT. SERENITY – LATER
It’s afternoon, and Kaylee and Mister Frye are up on the starboard ENGINE POD, working on it.
Wouldn’t say this in front o’ your momma, Lee-lee…
What is it, Poppa?
Serenity… She ain’t just a transport, is she?
Kaylee looks down at her work.
MISTER FRYE (cont’d)
Your captain… Jayne… Hades, even that doctor seem to got more spine than most folk I ever met…
Poppa, it’s… Ain’t like I was tryin’ to lie, or anything, but…
Can we talk later? Just… I just want to get this pod upgraded, ‘kay?
Mister Frye nods… For now.
Ship’s gonna run smoother’n any I ever seen, we get done with ‘er.
She is a beauty, ain’t she?
(pats the pod)
That’s my girl.
He looks at her, presumably thinking the very same thing. He smiles, reaches over, and pats her hand.
INT. SERENITY – CARGO HOLD – SAME TIME
The cargo hold has been decorated as best it can to look like the inside of Inara’s shuttle. A huge spread of food, enough for two dozen people, rests on the boxes-turned-tables.
Inara stands serenely in the center of things, Mal pacing around her. Wash and Jayne linger near the food, snacking when they think no one’s looking. Zoe sits on the stairs leading to the upper catwalk.
Everything ready? What about the whores durves?
It's “hors d'oeuvres,” Captain. Relax.
I just want to get this sold so I can end this business with Barrett.
A beat, and then a group of a half-dozen MEN come up the RAMP. ALEXI BELOV and JEAN LECOINTE, powerful and prosperous looking, are served by two BODYGUARDS each.
Lecointe and Belov talk as they enter, while the bodyguards get the lay of the place. Belov, in particular, seems a little put off by the location and happy to see Inara.
Helicopters. From the Greek. Early precursors to the modern skiffs. Truly.
I'll believe it when I see it.
Inara steps forward and curtsies to the two men.
Welcome, Alexei, Jean. I see you have already become acquainted.
Ahh, Inara. You are as lovely as ever.
Lovelier. [A cherry-blossom in bloom]. You are not busy after the auction, I trust?
You are planning to lose, I see.
The Lassiter wins for rarity, but our Inara must take the prize for value.
For shame, Jean. I blush. We’re waiting for one more bidder, but in the meantime, come, have some who—hors d'oeuvres.
EXT. FRYE HOUSE – REAR – DAY
There are a few buildings behind the Frye house, but no one is there to see a half dozen RIDERS approach. It’s Barrett and some of his boys, including Samuels.
Now, remember, this crew, they got a lot of guns, don’t need the trouble. Just take the boy.
Barrett and his thugs spread out. Samuels hears something, the faint sound of a DRILL, perhaps.
The building is a large shed covered with flaking paint and surrounded by jars of chemicals. The ground leading up to it is muddy, with several large sets of booted footprints and the tracks of a wheeled vehicle clearly visible. The door hangs off its hinges, the deadbolt on the interior held by a single screw.
INT. MISTER FRYE’S WORKSHOP – SAME TIME
The workshop is a chaotic jumble of TOOLS, GADGETS, and GIZMOS. River is in the middle of it all, wearing gloves and goggles, concentrating on some project we can’t see.
Fly straight, my pretty little swan. Won’t be a runt anymore.
Sparks from what she’s working on light up her face. She works for a moment, then suddenly stops. Still holding her MYSTERIOUS PROJECT, she turns.
Forget about the boy…
Barrett and his men are in the doorway, guns drawn.
This is worth way more.
A flurry of action as River tries to rush past them—
INT. SERENITY – CARGO HOLD – LATER
Mal, Inara and Wash are on the upper catwalk. Belov and Lecointe are on the floor below, talking and eating but seem to be getting bored. Jayne and one of the bodyguards are talking (and eating), while Zoe and the other three bodyguards seem to actually take their job seriously.
Three bidders? That’s all you come up with?!?
Mal doesn’t look happy.
Trust me, Captain, Alexi and Jean can afford a fair price, and, while I don’t know the third bidder myself, Hu Wan-Ji vouches for him.
Mal nods, annoyed.
Who knows more about sellin’ high-priced goods than a—
Inara looks at him, daggers in her eyes, not having to say a word to stop him.
They stop in mid-fight and look at him.
Third bidder’s here.
DOWN ON THE FLOOR
Things have gotten crowded. The THIRD BIDDER has brought EIGHT BODYGUARDS, all armed, all dressed in expensive black suits. The Third Bidder steps through the crowd, looking up, his face masked by the hat he’s wearing.
You know this guy?
I believe you have something that rightly belongs to me
(takes off his hat)
I’d like my artifact back.
The man on the floor is DURRAN HAYMER, previous owner of the LASSITER.
INT. SERENITY – CARGO HOLD – CONTINUOUS
Haymer addresses the other bidders while Mal rushes down the stairs, followed by Inara and Wash.
You're welcome to bid, same as anyone else.
Why should I bid on something that was stolen from me?
Stolen property, this is? You did not say that, Inara.
Mal and Haymer now stand face-to-face, and it seems fairly likely that no good will come of it. Inara tries to intervene.
Mr. Haymer, I'm sure we can sort this out—
Incoherent conversation erupts as everyone begins speaking at once, mostly yelling. Jayne and Zoe inch closer to the captain.
Perhaps we could see the artifact, now.
Yes, let us see the Lassiter. Perhaps it has Mister Haymer's name on it, no?
EXT. SERENITY – SAME TIME
Kaylee and her father are now working on the port ENGINE POD. As Simon approaches with a tray of sandwiches, they seem to hit a snag.
Doc, would you mind runnin’ to my workshop? This coupler done snapped!
He holds the COUPLER up, so Simon should have no problem finding an item that looks the same.
MONTAGE OF QUICK INTERCUT SCENES
—Inara in her shuttle, opens the safe. Inside is the Lassiter box.
—Simon rushes across the field toward the house and the workshed behind it.
—Inara returns to the crowd in the cargo hold carrying the Lassiter box.
—Simon approaches the workshed.
—Inara places the box on one of the tables. The bidders gather close.
—Simon reaches the open door of the workshed.
—Inara opens the box…
INT. MISTER FRYE’S WORKSHOP – SAME TIME
Simon spots River, beaten and unconscious, balled up in the fetal position.
INT. SERENITY – CARGO HOLD – SAME TIME
The box is empty. Everyone peers at it.
A beat, then a flurry of activity as Haymer’s bodyguards draw their weapons and point them at Mal and the crew. Zoe and Jayne draw their own in response, while Wash puts his hands up.
With all the other weapons out, the remaining bodyguards draw their own weapons, distracting some of Haymer’s bodyguards from the crew.
In the middle of this, Mal, Inara, Haymer, Belov and Lecointe continue as if guns haven’t been drawn.
How did you—
You are mocking us.
This is not amusing. I postponed my daughter's wedding for this.
I've had enough of this.
Although Haymer doesn’t have a gun, two of his men have weapons trained on Mal. They, in turn, are the targets of Jayne and Zoe.
Mal looks at Inara for some sort of answer.
Mal, I don’t know! It’s been in my safe since you brought it back.
I am disappointed. I can’t believe I’ve come all this way for such as farce.
You are incompetent, sir.
If I didn't know better, I'd think he was telling the truth. Where are you hiding my gun?
I had expected better from a Companion. Come.
He motions to his bodyguards and the three of them head toward the ramp.
She goes to speak to Belov while Mal continues to face off against Haymer.
I ain’t hiding the gun. Who do you think I am, Saffron?
(beat, as Haymer stares uncomprehending)
Do you want to provoke me into a murderous rage, Mr. Reynolds?
In the background, Belov shakes his head angrily at Inara and stalks out.
(furious, to Mal)
This is my cue to bow out as well. It is clear that you have deceived us, Mister Reynolds.
Lecointe brushes Inara off as he and his men leave the ship.
That what this is about, Haymer? Runnin’ off the competition to put an end to my auction?
This auction is indeed over. Now show me where you've hidden my gun.
I'm not playing, Mister Reynolds. I will tear this ship into ten thousand pieces if that will restore me my property.
Before Mal can respond, Kaylee rushes in.
She takes in the scene and cuts herself off. Mal gives her a “Go on” look.
River’s hurt, Captain. Says it was Barrett—
Barrett, that [leprous panda-kisser]! Jonah okay?
Still with Book. But, Cap’n, River says she had the Lassiter, and they took—
Haymer looks around, clearly amazed by the lot of them.
[Buddha protect me from liars and fools], this story doesn’t even make sense, Captain!
Mal ignores him and goes to Kaylee. He motions for Zoe and Jayne to follow as well.
Captain! Where do you think you’re going? I want my gun back.
So do I.
INT. FRYE HOUSE – LIVING ROOM – DAY
River is lying on the couch, but otherwise, it’s standing room only, with an odd sense of crowded community. Mal and Simon stand over River, Book a half-step away with a protective hand on Jonah’s shoulder.
Haymer’s inside with four of his bodyguards, and Inara is at his side, hand on his arm, whispering to him, calming him. Zoe has her eye on the bodyguards.
The Fryes and Kaylee look on with concern from the edge of the room, while Jayne, Wash, and the remaining bodyguards are on the porch looking in through the windows.
Your sister okay?
Does she look okay to you, captain?
How’d she end up with the gun?
Captain, I don’t know—
“Captain, I don’t know.” That’s a yarn I’m tired of hearin’ from you. Best you learn a new one to spin!
Was fixing it. Make the broken little swan fly straight.
(finding a target for his frustrations)
It's an antique. You don't fix antiques! It ruins them!
River lays back in the couch, pondering that.
Jayne’s holding the door open for Randy Durham.
Oh, and now what local actor is this in our ludicrous play?
Mal goes to Randy by the door. Haymer also follows.
Barrett asked me to deliver a message.
He did now, did he?
He wants to offer a deal—
Only deal he’ll get from me’s six feet o' dirt!
Says he’ll trade the gun for the property.
Says he’ll throw the boy’s grandmother into the bargain. Doesn’t want any Luhans, um, sullying, I think was the word, he used, his lands.
See? I ain't got it.
Barring the possibility that this is simply another trick of yours, why should I not then deal with this Barrett?
Mal ignores him, looks back at Randy to see if there’s more. Randy looks uncomfortable, glances at Jonah across the room.
His boys tell me he’s even having Jack Luhan’s body dug up on account o’ he ain’t a Barrett and shouldn’t be in the family plot.
That ain’t right.
Very well, Captain. I will prolong this farce one step further.
Is there anything I can do?
EXT. LUHAN FARM – WOODS – NIGHT
Zoe stalks through the woods, followed by Jayne, who stumbles over a root but rights himself quietly. We see that they are near the Luhan house, on the opposite side of the road.
Zoe halts, raising a hand for Jayne to stop.
EXT. LUHAN FARMHOUSE – PORCH – NIGHT
Barrett, Samuels, and two of the other BOYS sit on the porch, peering into the night. To their left is the road, then the ranch lands, ahead and to their right the garden and then woods. Mal emerges from the woods straight ahead.
Here he comes.
Think he’ll deal?
They ready their weapons.
Mal, alone, approaches to within yelling distance, holding his hands up.
Now, as you can see, I come to trade—
Got a better idea.
(quietly, so only his men can hear)
A SNIPER in a tree behind Mal fires on Mal, who dives for the cover of a LOW WALL as bullets fly by him. Barrett and his boys take cover on the porch and fire as well, trying to catch him in a crossfire.
EXT. LUHAN FARM – WOODS – SAME TIME
Zoe and Jayne hear the GUNFIRE and scan the trees, looking for the apparent sniper.
Gorrammit, where is he?
EXT. LUHAN FARMHOUSE – SAME TIME
Mal fires back at the porch, inching up to get a better angle at the porch, and is nearly killed by the sniper. He looks in the direction of the woods
Any time would be good…
Then, the CRACK of a rifle.
EXT. LUHAN FARM – WOODS – SAME TIME
Jayne lowers his rifle as the sniper crashes down.
EXT. LUHAN FARMHOUSE – NIGHT
Zoe and Jayne have joined Mal. Things aren't much better—the gunfight's still a draw, both sides firing from cover. Then the gunfire from the porch slackens.
EXT. LUHAN FARM – ROAD – SAME TIME
Coming out of the darkness are Wash and Mister Frye, as well as Haymer and three of his bodyguards, all armed.
And behind them, Randy leads a CROWD of more than two dozen locals, including boys and old men. They look a bit nervous and are armed with a variety of weapons, from fowling rifles to pistols, torches to pitchforks, but there are enough of them to be a threat.
EXT. LUHAN FARM – PORCH – SAME TIME
Barrett’s boys are starting to get a little edgy, and stop firing, unsure of whether to try and gun down the townsfolk.
Stand true, boys, this don’t change nothin’.
The men look at each other. They’re not so sure.
EXT. LUHAN FARM – SAME TIME
Mal gets up and approaches to within thirty feet of the porch, as the posse spreads out behind him, surrounding the front of the house.
All told, Barrett has as little more than a dozen BOYS. Some of Barrett’s boys open windows and point rifles out, while others join him on the porch, including Peete, who pushes Grandma Luhan, a rifle to her back. Barrett stands partially behind her, using her as a human shield.
Jayne scowls at that.
Mal and Barrett eyeball each other as their groups adjust, aiming, pointing weapons, and posturing.
I want what’s mine.
So do I.
Behind Mal, the posse is getting fidgety. Could be they don’t particularly like seeing Grandma Luhan threatened.
You walk away now, Barrett, maybe we’ll let you go in peace.
Brave talk, for a man shot a innocent woman dead just yesterday. Plannin’ to send her some company?
Mal keeps his fury in check. Barely.
Was an accident, plain and true.
(beat. Mal looks down)
Wish to God it hadn’t happened.
Beat. Complete silence. Then rumbles from the posse.
He ain't the one tryin’ to steal someone’s home!
Or threatenin’ no poor ol’ lady!
And he ain't tore up our crops, neither!
POSSE MEMBER 2
Or extorted nothing!
Things are turning against Barrett. He can sense that some of his boys are starting to lose their nerve. He stands casually, as if nothing is going wrong.
Well, I don't mean to stay out here all night. Got some fixin’ to do to my house. So why don’t you all get a move on!
He makes a shooing motion with his hand.
Go on back to your homes, ‘fore someone gets hurt!
No, Barrett. You'll answer for what you done!
Here's the only answer you'll get!
Barrett reaches inside his coat and pulls out a WEAPON.
Barrett points it at Randy and FIRES.
Randy falls back dead, flesh charring, shirt afire. It’s no bullet that killed him.
Haymer’s eyes go wide as he recognizes THE LASSITER.