JC (god_of_belac) wrote in virtual_firefly,
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Season 1, Episode 19: The Perfect Sunset

The Perfect Sunset



Episode 1x19:
“THE PERFECT SUNSET”

Written by
George W. Krubski

Edited by
Shawn Morris

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. SPACE – VISTAS – ESTABLISHING

VISTAS is a Saturn-line GAS GIANT, surrounded by dozens of small MOONS and a system of RINGS composed of icy debris floating on a river-like torrent.


EXT. SPACE – THE CAROUSEL – ESTABLISHING

THE CAROUSEL is a large, run-down looking space station resting at the inner edge of the planetary rings. The space station resembles three wagon wheels stacked on top of one another, which a large central hub, and each of the spokes leading to an airlock.

The Carousel can accommodate four dozen SHIPS, and about half that number are currently docked there, with some of the larger ships tethered by lines rather than attached directly to the airlocks.

SERENITY, pretty much average for size and appearance of the ships, is docked on the “space” side of lowest level of the station (away from the planetary rings).


INT. THE CAROUSEL – THE HUB – NIGHT

The HUB is a massive, chaotic swap meet, practically the size of a football field. It seems that anything can be had here, for the right price. Illegal arms, small vehicles, livestock, even slaves are being bought, sold and auctioned by the crowd.

The Hub has a variety of large entrances, each of which leads down one of the “spokes” of the lowest level.

MAL REYNOLDS and INARA stroll through the crowd, looking for someone.

MAL
You see him?

INARA
In this crowd? Jayne doesn’t exactly stand out…

MERCHANT
Fighting cocks! Getcher fighting cocks right here!

Inara pauses as a ROOSTER runs out in front of them.

MAL
You want one? Could get it for you as a going away present.
(beat)
Which reminds me… When are you going away? Thought you were gettin’ off on New Melbourne. Been there and gone and it seems you’re still on my boat.


They continue walking through the crowd.

INARA
(sighs)
As I told you, Captain, I thought they would have a place for me on New Melbourne. I’ve spoken to the Guild Council, and they assure me they’ll send me a wave as soon—

MAL
You just let me know when you want off. Got a place on Serenity til then. ‘Course, I wish you’d tell the crew.

INARA
I’ll tell them when—

MAL
(surly)
When the time is right. Yeah, yeah, I know. You don’t tell ‘em soon, I will!

INARA
Mal, I’d appreciate if you’d allow—

But Mal’s no longer listening, but glaring at a slave auction, where a large, forlorn looking MAN stands chained next to the AUCTIONEER.

AUCTIONEER
Good teeth, strong back!

Inara touches his arm gently, indicating they should move on. Mal nods, but gives a backward look over his shoulder, jaw tight with anger.

PARKER (OS)
Mal! Malcolm Reynolds? Captain!

Mal turns to look at the sound of the yell. PARKER, forty-ish, handsome, Mediterranean, dressed in expensive clothing, rushes up.

PARKER (cont’d)
Thought I saw your bird on my way in!

The two men clasp hands.

MAL
Parker. Great to see you.
(looking around)
You run across Jayne?

PARKER
Jayne? That big bastard’s still runnin’ with you? Figured he’d’ve crossed you and wound up in a shallow grave by now!

MAL
You and me both.

PARKER
Hey, I heard a rumor you’ve got a preacher you use for a distraction? Folks’re calling your crew the Altar Boys. That ain’t true, is it?

MAL
(deflecting)
So you look like you done okay for yourself.

As the two men converse, Inara stands by, waiting to be introduced.

PARKER
Leaving Badger, hookin’ up with the Holden Boys… One of the best decisions I ever made!
(beat)
You’re not still with his highness, are you?

MAL
(shakes his head)
Did a few jobs for Bernoulli, but we’re runnin’ mostly independent these days.

In the background a MERCHANT passes by on a MULE loaded down with BOXES clearly imprinted as Alliance goods. Neither Mal nor Parker bats an eye.

PARKER
You want, I can put in a good word for you with Mingo and Fanty.

MAL
Heard good things about those two. Also heard they’re a little… unusual.

PARKER
(shrugs)
Better’n Badger, anyway. They may go on too much, but they don’t make you bow and scrape like that little weasel, demanding respect.
(beat)
Acts like he’s the king of Londinium.

MAL
The queen, more like.

Both men laugh.

MAL (cont’d)
Want that kind of trouble, I’d just get me a whor—

He cuts himself off, realizing Inara’s standing there, arms crossed.

MAL (cont’d)
Parker, this is Inara. Inara, Parker.

Parker executes a bow that manages to be both comical and respectful.

INARA
Very nice to meet you. So you and Mal are old friends?

PARKER
Used to run together a lot when we worked for Badger.
(to Mal)
Zoe cut Wash loose yet?

KAYLEE (OS)
Smile, everyone!

KAYLEE is standing up in the passenger seat of a shiny new HOVER-MULE, JAYNE next to her, behind the wheel. She holds a CAPTURE (future camera), which she points at them, taking a picture. There are a few large PACKAGES and a PILE OF PARTS strapped to the back.

As Mal and Parker approach the hover-mule, both admiring its lines, Kaylee hops off and joins Inara.

JAYNE
(proudly)
Pretty cunning, huh?

Mal can’t take his eyes off the hover-mule. Parker whistles. Meanwhile, Kaylee shows off her capture to Inara, who nods and smiles.

KAYLEE
Took the last of my Lassiter money, but I think it was worth it!

Inara nods, takes the capture when Kaylee offers it, and studies for a moment.

As Mal and Parker walk a slow circuit around the hover-mule, Jayne pulls out a small POUCH, which jingles with some coin (not much, but some).

JAYNE
Even got us some change, Captain. Discount.

He tosses the pouch to Mal.

MAL
On account of your intimidating manner?

JAYNE
Nah. Seller heard we’s the crew done in Niska. Seems Niska bein’ dead’s been good business for more’n a few.

PARKER
Adelai Niska?

MAL
(over Parker)
Word’s spreadin’ this quick?

JAYNE
Sure.
(beat)
Well… I told ‘im.

Inara points the capture at Mal. Mal, seeing this, smiles and strikes a mock-heroic pose in front of the hover-mule.

As if in response to Inara’s handling of the capture, a loud CLAXON blares through the Hub.

MAL
(looking around)
What the—?


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – NIGHT

WASH is in the pilot’s seat, ZOE standing behind him, a hand on his shoulder. Both are looking out Serenity’s front window, and neither looks happy about what they see. Wash hits buttons on the console, not taking his eyes off the window.

WASH
(into the comm)
Mal!

MAL (OS)
(via the comm)
What’s going on?

WASH
Um… You better get back here.

ZOE
Now.


EXT. SPACE – THE CAROUSEL – SAME TIME

Serenity sits attached to the Carousel, facing out into space.

Approaching the Carousel are a half-dozen ALLIANCE PATROL BOATS (twice the length of Serenity), supported by a dozen and a half SMALLER VESSELS (including GUNSHIPS like the one from “The Message”, and TROOP TRANSPORTS).

The small Alliance armada closes on the Carousel like a school of hungry sharks.




INT. THE CAROUSEL – THE HUB – SAME TIME

The claxons sound and the crowd begins to panic.

MAL
(into his comm)
What’s going on?

WASH
(via the comm)
Um… You better get—

Any additional response is drowned out.

LOUDSPEAKER
ALLIANCE RAID!

Like a call-to-arms, the two words spur the crowd to action. Folks run in every direction, grabbing goods (sometimes even their own). In the midst of the chaos, Mal rushes forward, grabs Inara by the arm and pulls her toward the hover-mule. He helps her into the passenger seat, then looks at Jayne, indicating he should get in the back.

JAYNE
Come on, Mal!

KAYLEE (OS)
Captain!

Mal and Jayne stop arguing and turn to see Kaylee a few meters away, looking scared, being pushed away from them by the throng.


EXT. SPACE – THE CAROUSEL – SAME TIME

The exterior of the Carousel is almost as chaotic. The patrol boats block the outlaw ships trying to escape, while the gunships fire disabling shots at some of those still docked at the space station.

One of the troop transports has already docked with the Carousel, and two more are close behind.


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – SAME TIME

Wash taps the comm and looks up at Zoe, shaking his head.

ZOE
They’ll be here.


INT. THE CAROUSEL – THE HUB – SAME TIME

Mal takes a few steps toward Kaylee. Jayne hops off the hover-mule to follow.

MAL
Kaylee!

She gets knocked down by someone in the crowd. Folks are dropping goods, escaping on mules, horses, and the like. In the background, some of the slaves seem to have taken the opportunity to try to fight their way free.

KAYLEE
Captain! Jayne!

Jayne starts punching his way to Kaylee. A FIGHTING COCK rushes up to him and he jumps back.

JAYNE
Gorram chicken!

In the rush, Mal loses sight of Kaylee.

MAL
Kaylee!

Suddenly, Parker bursts out of the crowd, pulling a somewhat-battered Kaylee by the hand.

PARKER
Lose something, Mal?

He pushes Kaylee into Mal’s arms. Mal swings her around and puts her in the hover-mule seat behind Inara.

JAYNE
Mal!

Jayne has drawn his gun and is pointing it toward one of the entrances, where ALLIANCE SOLDIERS are in pitched battle with some of the MERCHANTS.


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – SAME TIME

Wash is alone now, flipping switches and hitting buttons.

WASH
Any time, captain, any time…


INT. THE CAROUSEL – THE HUB – SAME TIME

Mal settles into the driver’s seat of the hover-mule. Jayne, sitting behind him, stares nervously at the Alliance soldiers. They seem to be hung up with their current opponents, but that’ll only last so long.

PARKER
Mal! Can you fit one more?

He looks at the Alliance soldiers, then back at Mal.

JAYNE
Mal, he’ll slow us down…

KAYLEE
Captain!

Mal looks over his shoulder at the two of them, then at Parker.


EXT. SPACE – THE CAROUSEL – SAME TIME

The raid continues. A few of the ships previously docked at the Carousel have gotten away, but the patrol boats and some of the gunships are pursuing.

A gunship swoops down at Serenity, targeting one of the engine pods.


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – SAME TIME

Wash looks up from controls to see the gunship swooping in at the ship.

WASH
[Monkey feces!]

The gunship blows up, and an OUTLAW SHIP jets overhead.

BOOK (OS)
Close one.

SHEPHERD BOOK has joined Wash in the cockpit, standing behind him.

WASH
Think we’re outta close ones, Shepherd. Could probably use a miracle or two right about now.


INT. THE CAROUSEL – HALLWAY – NIGHT

This large hallway is one of the “spokes.” It’s a tunnel with corrugated metal walls and conduits and pipes running along the sides.

The hover-mule chugs down the hallway, slowed somewhat by the extra weight of the equipment, and its five passengers (Parker is sitting on the equipment, facing forward. As Mal drives, Jayne keeps looking over his shoulder.

JAYNE
(to Parker)
Down!

Parker squeezes as low as he can, and Alliance soldiers are visible in the distance behind them. Jayne fires, more out of frustration than because he can hit anything. The Alliance soldiers return fire, with just as much success as Jayne.


JAYNE (cont’d)
Go faster with four…


INT. THE CAROUSEL – AIRLOCK – NIGHT

The airlock is at the end of the hallway. Serenity’s AIRLOCK RAMP opens into the room, across from the hallway entrance, and two BLAST-DOORS block the sides. An ACCESS LADDER and a broad, open FREIGHT ELEVATOR allow access to the level above.

Zoe stands on Serenity’s ramp, holding her gun, looking down the hallway, watching the hover-mule approaching, followed by a dozen Alliance soldiers, who, although on foot, are not far behind.

She lines up a shot, appearing to sight on the hover-mule. As the hover-mule enters the airlock, Mal looks at her in alarm.

She ignores him and fires once the hover-mule is past, hitting one of the PIPES on the side of the hallway.

As the Alliance soldiers surge forward, they are stopped by an explosion of steam from the pipes.

ZOE
Hurry, sir!

She ducks back inside, and Mal seems intent on driving the hover-mule up the ramp at current speed.

JAYNE
Slow down! You’ll scratch it!

Mal gets to the foot of the ramp and slams on the brakes. Parker nearly flies off, but uses the momentum to leap free.

PARKER
Thanks for the ride, Mal. That’s one I owe you!

Parker rushes for the ladder while Mal carefully guides the hover-mule into the airlock ramp.


INT. THE CAROUSEL – HALLWAY – NIGHT

The Alliance soldiers fight their way through the steam just in time to see the airlock door closing. They open fire, but to no avail.


EXT. SPACE – THE CAROUSEL

Serenity launches, and a few second later, PARKER’S SHIP, smaller, more nimble, joins them.

The majority of Alliance activity seems to be dedicated to keeping ships trapped at the Carousel, but two of the patrol boats and some of the gunships are pursuing escapees.

A large SLAVER SHIP, squat and lobster-like, with magnetic grapplers and a variety of weapons systems, fires on one of the Alliance troop carriers, rupturing its hull.

A patrol boat swings around to deal with the slaver ship.


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – NIGHT

Mal and Jayne join Wash and Book in the cockpit.

WASH
Hey, is that Parker’s ship?

Wash whips the ship to the side. Mal and Jayne go tumbling.

WASH (cont’d)
Might want to grab something.

Before Mal can answer, an ALARM sounds.

JAYNE
What’s that?

WASH
(zen calm)
It means someone doesn’t like us.

In the forward window, a MISSILE sails past, narrowly missing Parker’s ship.


INT. SERENITY – CARGO HOLD – SAME TIME

As the ship rocks due to Wash’s evasive maneuvers, Zoe and Kaylee secure the hover-mule. SIMON helps stow some of the packages. Inara is by the stairs to the upper CATWALK, holding on to the railing, and RIVER stands in the middle of the room, feet planted firmly, rolling with each rock of the ship, maintaining her perfect balance.

As Simon lifts one of the PACKAGES from the rear of the vehicle, Kaylee is working on the mule, and the two lean close. He gets a good look at her face.

SIMON
You’re hurt.

He reaches out toward her with genuine concern.

KAYLEE
(smiles)
Ain’t nothin’. Just got a little tight in the Carousel.

SIMON
Still, I—

The ship floor cants at a forty-five degree angle. Barrels and crates go flying. Inara tumbles up the stairs to get out of their way. Kaylee and Simon are thrown together, and Zoe grabs a strap on the hover-mule to keep her balance.

River stands like a tree in a storm.

SIMON
(to Kaylee)
Are you all right?

ZOE (OS)
Strap it down, you two!

They both look at her, snapping to attention like children caught in the cookie jar. Zoe tightens a strap on the hover-mule, looking annoyed.

The ship QUIVERS, as if in response to a near-miss or graze.

INARA
Did we just get hit?


EXT. SPACE – SAME TIME

Serenity, rocking and rolling, dives through a blossom of fire and debris, pursued by one of the patrol boats. Parker’s ship is nowhere to be seen.


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – SAME TIME

Mal leans forward over Wash, looking at the flame and wreckage in their window. Book, ignoring that danger, is fiddling with the computer at the co-pilot’s station.

A piece of debris bounces off the window.

WASH
Was that Parker who just got blown up?

JAYNE
There goes that favor.


INT. ALLIANCE PATROL BOAT – BRIDGE – SAME TIME

CAPTAIN CHIEN, early forties, with intense eyes and patrician features, stands at the forward window of the bridge, watching Serenity try to escape.

ALLIANCE OFFICER
Sir, sensor locks appear to have been damaged by debris from the Palomino-class vessel.

Chien doesn’t turn.

CHIEN
Target manually.

ALLIANCE OFFICER
Yessir.

In the forward window, missiles dog Serenity, missing once, twice, three times as the Firefly-class ship bobs and weaves.

LIEUTENANT WALLACE, mid-twenties, handsome and energetic, steps up next to Chien.

WALLACE
Captain Pennington has requested assistance, sir. They are encountering unexpected resistance from one of the slave ships.

CHIEN
Thanks you, Lieutenant.
(beat)
Let them go.

As his ship turns, he wistfully watches Serenity escape.


EXT. SPACE – THE CAROUSEL

Chien’s patrol boat turns back around, heading toward the lobster-like slaver ship, which has clamped down on one of the other patrol boats using its magnetic grapplers.


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – SAME TIME

Wash flies steady. Mal and Jayne look like they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. Book continues his work on the computer.

JAYNE
How come we ain’t dead?

WASH
Love to say it was me, but they just stopped.

MAL
Don’t much care why we’re still alive, Wash. Good flyin’, now get us to the edge of the system and go for hard burn. I want to be as far away from here as—

BOOK
That wise, Captain?

MAL
You got somethin’ to say, Preacher?

Book finally looks up.

BOOK
If they’re following standard Alliance procedure, there are probably additional patrol boats stationed as sentries along the most obvious exit vectors. It’s my understanding that this planet was chosen as home for the Carousel because of the number of moons that are of use as hiding places.

Mal and Jayne exchange a “Why does a preacher know that?” look.

MAL
Keep talkin’.

BOOK
Could be we might benefit from laying low on one of those moons for a few days.

MAL
(to Wash)
You keep gettin’ us away from here.
(to Book)
Got any suggestions?

Book smiles and turns the computer screen toward Mal. It contains a picture of a small, blue MOON. Like the Carousel, it is close to the planetary rings.


EXT. OCEAN MOON – DAY – ESTABLISHING

The moon appears to be covered completely in water. Serenity swoops in low, pulling waves in its wake.


INT. SERENITY – COCKPIT – DAY

Jayne is now sitting in the second seat, looking bored, while Mal and Book stand behind Wash.

JAYNE
Great. So insteada gettin’ blowed up, we can get drowned.

WASH
I hear drowning’s a peaceful way to go.

JAYNE
So’s bein’ strangled.

BOOK
(putting a hand on Wash’s shoulder)
Head closer to the equator, son. We should find some islands there.

Jayne gives Book a curious stare.

BOOK (cont’d)
Basic planetary topography.

JAYNE
They teach ya that at shepherdin’ school?

Wash ignores them, staring through the forward window. His face lights up.

WASH
[Oh, sweet chubby Buddha, sometimes I love my life], this might be my favorite moon ever!

MAL
Find a spot. Set us down.


EXT. SERENITY – AIRLOCK – DAY

CLOSE-UP of Mal’s face. He’s wearing a SPACE SUIT, and looking around with a very serious expression on his face.

MAL
Looks good. Air’s breathable.

Even before he’s finished speaking, Serenity’s airlock hisses open and the ramp lowers.


EXT. ISLAND – ESTABLISHING

If the immediate area is any judge, the island is a tropical paradise, a light jungle that looks like it would be at home in the Caribbean.

A beautiful river with white sandy shores winds through a decent-sized clearing, and Wash has parked Serenity so that it straddles the river, nose over one shore, airlock ramp on the other.


EXT. SERENITY – DAY

Mal doesn’t even have his helmet off before the crew is spilling down the ramp. All of them look around in wonder as they step off the boat. Zoe and Wash are first.

ZOE
Have to say, this might be one of the best landings you’ve ever made.

Kaylee, River and Simon come right behind them.

KAYLEE
Oh, my gosh! It’s beautiful!

SIMON
This place is amazing.

RIVER
(whispered wonder)
So loud. Fly, fly, swim, swim, scurry, scurry.

Kaylee takes River by the hand and pulls her out, down the ramp. Simon stays on the ramp, carefully taking off his shoes and rolling up his pants.

Jayne and Book follow.

JAYNE
Next time I need a miracle, Shepherd, I know who I’m talkin’ to.

Finally, Inara walks down the ramp at a regal and sedate pace, taking in the scenery.

INARA
Mal… This place is…

MAL
Yeah, I know.
(yelling at the group)
Hey! Don’t go too far!


INT. ALLIANCE PATROL BOAT – BRIDGE – SPACE

Captain Chien looks out at the Carousel. All resistance has been squashed. The lobster-like slaver ship has a series of scorch marks and a large hole in it, but looks otherwise intact.

Wallace, holding a piece of paper, approaches.

WALLACE
Priority alert sir.

Chien nods, takes the paper and reads it.

CHIEN
Forward this to the other captains. Any resources they can spare are to begin an immediate search of the system for the indicated vessel.

He hands the paper back to Wallace and turns to the window again.

CHIEN (cont’d)
They got away from us once, but not a second time.
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