JC (god_of_belac) wrote in virtual_firefly,
JC
god_of_belac
virtual_firefly

Season 1, Episode 21: Chains

Chains


Episode 1x21:
“CHAINS”

Written by
Matt Engstrom

Story Consultant:
“giantevilhead”

Edited by
George W. Krubski and 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. INDEPENDENCE – NIGHT – ESTABLISHING

The mining moon is dark and gray. A light rain falls. SERENITY sits at the MINE ENTRANCE, near a grouping of RUSTY BUILDINGS – barracks, warehouses, loading bays and offices. Banks of lights atop steel poles light the area from above.


INT. SERENITY CARGO BAY – CONTINUOUS

The cargo bay is filled by a few dozen LARGE SPOOLS OF CHAINS, massive enough that four people would be needed to roll them. The spools are strapped down, and JAYNE and BOOK are busy unfastening them. Kaylee stands on the UPPER catwalk, looking down.

KAYLEE
…pulleys and such. Big old pulleys for heftin’ minin’ equipment. That’s gotta be what they’re for, right?

JAYNE
I don’t know. That’s a lotta pulleys.

BOOK
Mines are deep, especially uranium ones. Some can go all the way to the core.

JAYNE
I know what I’d use chains for!
(lewd grin)
If you catch my meanin’.

KAYLEE
(giggling)
Jayne!

The sound of CLINKING CHAINS comes from the AIRLOCK RAMP, preceding two SECURITY GUARDS, followed by a group of sixteen RAGGED MEN, who are shackled about the ankles. The chain gang, looking wet and miserable, includes a TEENAGE BOY, and a MAN resting his hands on the boy’s shoulders protectively. Behind this apparent father-son pair, an OLDER MAN makes eye contact with Book. A CROSS ON A THIN CHAIN hangs around his neck.

Book and Jayne exchange a look.

JAYNE
Seems I weren’t too far off with the whole bondage-thing, Shepherd.

BOOK
Seems so.


INT. CHAVEZ’S OFFICE – SECONDS LATER

CHAVEZ, forties, short, mustachioed, stands before a window overlooking the slave barracks, loading bays, and mine entrance. Serenity can be seen, and the spools of chains are being rolled down the ramp by groups of ragged men.

Mal and Zoe look around the office, noticing a BROWNCOAT and INDEPENDENT FLAG displayed on one wall of the office.

CHAVEZ
Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds! And Zoe Alleyne! It is an honor to finally meet you both.

ZOE
It’s Mrs. Washburne now.

MAL
And Captain Reynolds. Or Mister Reynolds. Or Mal, if you consider me a friend. As far as Sergeant Reynolds…
(looks at the flag)
War’s over, Mr. Chavez. Ain’t no use clingin’ onto old titles.

CHAVEZ
Please, call me Luis.
(looks to the flag)
And you are right. Old titles… We should be rid of them. But old ideals, they never die.

MAL
Like freedom?

CHAVEZ
Yes. That’s what this place is all about. Independence. Freedom from the Alliance.

MAL
Freedom period’s what I fought for.
(beat)
Ain’t no man oughta live under the heel of another.

Chavez smiles.

CHAVEZ
I assume you are referring to my workforce?

MAL
Am I? Don’t believe I mentioned them. Should I have?

Chavez sits down behind his desk and reclines.

CHAVEZ
Have you heard of the term “chain gang?”

EXT. LOADING BAYS – SAME TIME

A HARD-LOOKING MAN strains as he works on rolling a chain spool across the concrete. Other SLAVES push and pull against the spools.

CHAVEZ (cont’d, VO)
It’s a term from Earth-that-Was. For a time, prisoners – murderers, rapists, thieves – were strung together in chains, and they worked the fields, or dug ditches along lonely roads. They were forced to do something that benefited the societies they victimized.


INT. CHAVEZ’S OFFICE – SAME TIME

Mal stands at the window looking down at the loading bays.

MAL
Don’t look like all the men down there meet that description. Some look to be victims themselves. Wrong place at the wrong time… Like maybe when a slaver ship comes avisitin’.

Chavez rises in his chair and looks out the window.

CHAVEZ
The men you see out there, they are not slaves. They once filled our prisons and asylums, rotting in their cells. Of no benefit to society.


INT. SERENITY – CARGO BAY – SAME TIME

The teenage boy pulls against a spool. Jayne and Book watch the slaves work. The guards, having a side conversation, seem less concerned about watching the slaves than about making sure they don’t have to do any work themselves. KAYLEE is in the cargo bay as well, looking down from the UPPER CATWALK.

CHAVEZ (cont’d, VO)
Now they work here, in the mines.

Kaylee looks at the teenage boy. He looks back up at her.


INT. CHAVEZ’S OFFICE – SAME TIME

Mal doesn’t look at Chavez.

MAL
To benefit you.

CHAVEZ
The fuel mined here benefits all of us. It powers the transport ships, like yours, that knit our society together. You, my friend, will directly benefit, unless you do not want to be paid?

MAL
My understandin’ was this deal was a trade.

CHAVEZ
Yes. New chains for our used mining machinery and equipment. You have a buyer lined up?

MAL
Not that it’s any o’your business, but, yeah. Friends in need. If this machinery doesn’t operate to their satisfaction...


INT. SERENITY – CARGO BAY – SAME TIME

The older man and a group of slaves push a MINING DRILL atop a PNEUMATIC CART into place. The spools of chains gone. The guards are now talking to Book and Jayne, pretty much completely ignoring the slaves.

CHAVEZ (VO)
I assure you, with some minor maintenance, they’ll run like new for years and years.

MAL (VO)
You sure? Looks like you’ve got a corrosion problem.

The older man throws a switch on the pneumatic cart and the mining drill drops hard.

CHAVEZ (VO)
Everything rusts on this moon. The constant rain. Drill bits dull. Rusty chains break…

The panel covering the SMUGGLING COMPARTMENT shifts in response to the dropping drill. The older man notices, and smiles.


INT. CHAVEZ’S OFFICE – SAME TIME

Chavez walks back behind his desk, but remains standing.

CHAVEZ (cont’d)
In my experience, repairing chains is the cost effective alternative.

MAL
I see your point. Machines need fixin’ when they break down. Hard working men… All they need’s a hole in the ground. And you got plenty’a holes here, don’t ya?

Chavez smiles politely.

CHAVEZ
I see we will not be friends, Mister Reynolds.
(beat, as Mal does not respond)
I hope we can work together again. Not many ships come out this far.

MAL
Figured you’d like it that way.

CHAVEZ
Freedom has its sacrifices.

MAL
That it does.

Mal heads toward the door, signalling for Zoe to join him.

MAL (cont’d)
Better pray for a drought.


INT. SERENITY – CARGO HOLD – NIGHT

Mal and Zoe walk up the ramp. Book and Jayne are finishing securing the mining machinery. Mal stops at the console, closes the cargo bay ramp door, and speaks into the comm.

MAL (cont’d)
Wash! Get us off this rock!
(beat)
Ain’t nothin’ right about this place, and the faster we’re gone, the better.

Mal and Zoe walk toward the stairs to the catwalk.

JAYNE
Coin is coin, Mal. This was the easiest job we done in a long time.

Mal, halfway up the stairs, turns.

MAL
You call lookin’ in those eyes easy?

JAYNE
Ain’t like we’re lockin’ them chains ourselves.

Mal’s now on the upper catwalk. He looks down at Jayne.

MAL
What part ain’t you hearin’? We ain’t comin’ back. Ever.

Mal and Zoe continue on toward the bridge. They pass RIVER, who’s leaning against the hull with her eyes closed.

RIVER
Twenty-nine… twenty-eight…

BACK ON THE CARGO BAY FLOOR

Jayne and Book are finished securing the machinery. They head up the stairs themselves. The sound of the ENGINES thrums through the walls.

JAYNE
Shepherd, I ain’t the sharpest knife t’ever slit a throat, but this ain’t smart, is it? Turnin’ down honest work?

BOOK
Easy doesn’t mean honest. You know that. And as they say, if you can’t do something smart, for whatever reason, do something right.

They pass River, who finally stops counting down and opens her eyes.

RIVER
Ready or not here I come!

River makes her way down the stairs, eyes alert.

She walks amongst the secured machinery, head tilted, listening.

A SOFT WHISPER rises from the rattling quiet. She doubles back towards the sound.

RIVER
Rabbits don’t pray. Rabbits are prey…

River approaches the hull and the smuggling compartment. She pulls free the panel and looks inside.

SIMON enters the cargo bay and sees his sister.

SIMON
River? What are you doing?

RIVER
(looks at Simon)
They once were lost…

She looks back to the compartment, smiling, as Simon walks over to join her.

A group of four slaves are huddled together in the smuggling compartment, hands folded in prayer. The teenage boy, his father, the hard-looking man, and the older man are in the compartment. They look back at Simon with wide eyes.

RIVER (cont’d)
Now they’re found.



Act 1

INT. SERENITY – CARGO BAY – MOMENTS LATER

Zoe and Jayne, weapons drawn, flank the four slaves, who stand near the cargo bay doors. Mal faces the slaves, his arms crossed. Book, Simon and River are on the cargo bay floor as well, watching from among the machines. Throughout the scene, River does not take her eyes off the older man.

Kaylee’s on the upper catwalk. INARA joins her, looking down.

INARA
What’s this?

KAYLEE
We got passengers. Sort of.
(beat)
Poor things.

ON THE CARGO BAY FLOOR

Mal steps closer to the slaves.

MAL
Tell me why I shouldn’t turn about and bring you back.

OLDER MAN
You said yourself you’re not going back.

MAL
That was before I found out I got stowaways on my boat.

OLDER MAN (ISAAC)
My name is Isaac.
(indicates the hard-looking man)
This stowaway is Derek. The boy’s name is Joshua, and his father is Micah.

Derek steps protectively in front of Isaac, but the older man waves him back.

MAL
I don’t need to know your names.

ISAAC
I believe you do.

MAL
Knowin’ your names don’t change a thing.

JOSHUA
It don’t?

A beat.

MAL
Don’t they do some kinda roll call? What they gonna do when they don’t hear your names? Put two and two together?

ISAAC
It won’t matter.

MAL
Trouble comes my way, threatens me and my crew, you and yours’re goin’ out those doors. Steppin’ out or sucked out, makes no difference to me.

ISAAC
You won’t have to do that.

Derek looks around, taking careful notice of the women. Zoe sees what he’s doing and tightens the grip on her gun.

MAL
(shakes his head)
Got confidence, I’ll give you that.

ISAAC
Not confidence, Captain. Faith.

MAL
Best put your faith in someone else, ‘cause I ain’t—

ISAAC
Not in you. In God.

Book reacts with interest, and walks closer.

JAYNE
Usin’ his name with the Cap’n, old man – in vain or otherwise - weren’t very smart.

ISAAC
(to Jayne)
But it is right.

Jayne reacts.

JAYNE
You listen in on everything we said?

ISAAC
(to Mal)
Someone was.

MAL
From the Lord’s lips to your ear, that the way of it?

Isaac doesn’t answer. His gaze does not waver.

MAL (cont’d)
You got the wrong man.

ISAAC
I believe you are exactly the right man. You will deliver us from evil.

Jayne laughs.

ISAAC
(continues as if he didn’t hear)
It’s in your heart. You are the one.

MAL
No, old man. Believe me.

ISAAC
It’s in your ship’s name.
(closes his eyes)
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

JAYNE
Hey! My poppa said that prayer all the time!

Not surprisingly, everyone ignores him.

ISAAC
God has granted you this ship, Captain. I can see your courage. But do you have the wisdom to go with it?

Mal and Isaac stare at each other for a beat, then the COMM spark to life.

WASH (via comm)
Captain, you better get up here.


INT. SERENITY – BRIDGE – SAME TIME

WASH pilots the ship and speaks into the internal COMM.

WASH (cont’d, into comm)
Got a wave coming in. It’s Chavez. He doesn’t sound happy. I don’t think he’s calling to invite us back for pie and a puppet show.


INT. SERENITY – CARGO BAY – SAME TIME

Mal looks at Isaac.

MAL
Must’ve missed your names after all.

ISAAC
Must have.

Mal stares into Isaac’s eyes.

MAL
Kaylee!

KAYLEE
Cap’n?

MAL
Take ‘em back to the engine room. Cut off their chains.

KAYLEE
(smiling)
You got it.

ISAAC
Thank you, Captain.

MAL
Don’t thank me. I ain’t no deliverer. You’re off my boat at our next stop.


INT. SERENITY – BRIDGE – NIGHT

Wash pilots the ship as Mal talks to Chavez via the comm console.

MAL
Mister Chavez. Those shiny chains couldn’t’ve rusted through already?

CHAVEZ
I believe you know the reason for this wave. You have some of my property in your possession.

MAL
The mining equipment? Deal’s a deal—

CHAVEZ
Don’t patronize me.

MAL
No patronizing goin’ on on my end. None of your property’s on my boat, is all.

CHAVEZ
You have my slaves.

Wash doesn’t look up from the controls.

WASH
He seems like a fun boss.

MAL
You see, Mister Chavez, that’s where you and I don’t see eye to eye. People ain’t property. Ever. Might be the only thing me an’ the Alliance agree on.

CHAVEZ
Do you really believe the Alliance cares about my little moon? Or my people? See no evil, Mister Reynolds. That is their way.

MAL
Exactly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to not hear none of it, either. That’s my way.

Mal reaches to switch off the monitor.

CHAVEZ
This isn’t ov—

The screen goes dark.

WASH
That went well. No worse than usual, really.

MAL
We finish the job, Wash. Full burn to Haven. An’ keep an eye out for trouble.

WASH
(into comm)
Kaylee? You in the engine room? Go to full burn.


EXT. SPACE

Serenity’s tail lights up bright and the ship streaks off into space.


INT. SERENITY – ENGINE ROOM – NIGHT

The engine room is lit golden with the power of the engine running at full burn. Kaylee lets go of the large lever switch. She’s wearing BLACK GOGGLES high on her head and picks up a HANDHELD CUTTING TORCH (currently unlit). Isaac is in the engine room with her, shackles still around his ankles. Near his feet is a pile of discarded chains and shackles. Zoe stands with arms crossed in the doorway.

ISAAC
Wow. That was exciting. “Let your light so shine…”

KAYLEE
“So… so that they may see your good works.”

ISAAC
Very good! So you know the Bible?

KAYLEE
Was churched as a kid. Sunday school and such. I guess some of it stuck.
(indicates his shackles)
Now, let’s get those things off you.

ISAAC
I can tell, you know.

She looks at him curiously.

ISAAC (cont’d)
That some of it stuck. There is love here.
(touches the walls)
There are other things as well, but what holds it all together is love. I can see it in this room. The beating heart of the ship.
(points to the shiny new engine parts)
The wounds that have been patched and mended.

Kaylee looks back.

KAYLEE
Oh that?

CLOSE ON – INERTIAL DAMPENER

KAYLEE (cont’d)
That ain’t fixed outta love, but necessity. We’d all’ve been red splotches on the walls a few seconds ago without it.

Kaylee covers her eyes with the goggles and lights the torch. As she leans over by Isaac’s shackles, River appears outside the doorway, eyes wide. Zoe notices. Isaac does as well. Their eyes meet.

KAYLEE (cont’d)
Don’t look into the light.

ISAAC
(whisper)
I already have.


INT. SERENITY – INARA’S SHUTTLE – SAME TIME

Mal walks into Inara’s shuttle. Inara is beginning to pack up her things, but much of the shuttle is still draped with tapestries. She ignores him and continues her work.

MAL
No comments about not knocking this time?

INARA
You keep reminding me it’s not my shuttle anymore, Mal. You returned my deposit. It’s your shuttle again.

MAL
So no more banter? No more fights? Don’t seem right.

INARA
Yes, what will you do with yourself when you can’t use the “w” word at least once a week?

MAL
Ah, the seven “wh’s.” Who, what, when, where, why, how, and—

INARA
(amused)
That’ll be enough, Captain. Is there a reason for today’s intrusion?

Mal walks to one of the tapestries and studies it.

MAL
Gonna ask you to stick to the shuttle ‘til we hit Haven. These men ain’t seen a woman in who knows how long. That plus a Companion ain’t a good cocktail.

INARA
I can take care of myself. Still, your concern is almost touching.

MAL
Yeah, well, it ain’t all selfless. I was hopin’ you’d keep an eye on River, too. I’d like to keep these folk contained in the passenger quarters—don’t want ‘em wand’rin’ about—and you throw a crazy girl in the mix—that cocktail might just become jet fuel.

INARA
It’s your shuttle. As you’re so fond of telling me.

MAL
I know. But I’m still askin’.

She nods.

INARA
You’re doing a good thing, Mal. Slavery is a horrible business.

MAL
People for sale.
(looks directly into her eyes)
Ain’t never right.


EXT. SPACE

FOUR 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 can carry.

It’s preceded by three OUTRIDERS. These mismatched ships are much smaller and faster. They bob and weave like a pack of wolves protecting the dungeon ship.

CLOSE ON – ONE OF THE OUTRIDERS.


INT. SLAVER OUTRIDER – BRIDGE – NIGHT

The slaver ship bridge is dark, tight, and cluttered with remote sensing equipment. FOUR SLAVERS track ships paths across space, presumably scanning for a good catch, while CAPTAIN LACHLAN eats an apple at the helm. One of the young slavers, JESSE, turns in his chair.

JESSE
Got a wave comin’ in.

Lachlan rises in his chair and stands behind Jesse, looking over his shoulder.

LACHLAN
Chavez?! Bring him up, Jesse.

Chavez’s angry face fills the screen.

LACHLAN (cont’d)
Thought I told you I never wanted to see your face again.

CHAVEZ
I’ve got a job for you, Lachlan. Assuming your “Admiral” can spare you.

LACHLAN
Huh, that’s real funny now. Thought I also told you we’d never work for you again, neither.

CHAVEZ
You’ll want this job.

LACHLAN
Seems to me, last job we done for you on Haven lost me my favorite cousin.

CHAVEZ
You want the ship that shot her down?

LACHLAN
(eyes brightening)
What did you say?

CHAVEZ
Firefly class transport ship – with no gun this time, I can assure you – just left Independence with some of my workforce. I want them back, along with everyone else on board.

LACHLAN
How do you know it’s them?

CHAVEZ
They need to offload some mining equipment to people the self-righteous of a captain called “friends in need.” My guess is they’re on the way back to Haven right now.

Jesse looks at Lachlan and smiles. Lachlan takes a bite out of his apple.

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