Firefly - "Out of Gas"

Written by: Tim Minear

Directed by: David Solomon

Teaser

EXT. SPACE

Serenity in the Big Black of space. She might seem a bit cock-eyed to us at the moment. No engine movement. She's less floating and more just kind of hanging there. Either near dead -- or hurt real bad. Reserve emergency power gives it just a flicker of life. As we nose closer, we peer into the bridge. No sign of anyone...

INT. SERENITY - UPPER DECKS

Various shots of the ship. Quietly holding silent images.

The cockpit: empty.

Looking down the body of the upper decks -- no one in sight.

The dining area -- evidence of recent habitation. A dinner party was in progress, but seemingly cut short. The table is askew. Dishes and an uncut cake have all crashed to the floor. But not a soul here.

The engine room. The entrance and walls are scorched. The big turbine sits silent. No movement.

INT. SERENITY - BELOW DECKS

It looks like a tornado blew through here. In the common area: debris is everywhere, furniture is upturned, caught up against walls. But no sign of anyone anywhere. The ship seems eerily abandoned. Until finally we go to --

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

More debris. More strewn cargo. And then --

MAL

Falls INTO FRAME, landing hard on the floor of the cargo bay. Sweating, pale, somewhat delirious. And alone.

(We may or may not notice a piece of an engine part lying nearby.)

He struggles to stay conscious; it's a struggle he's not winning at the moment. As we PUSH IN closer to his feverish face, we start to HEAR what HE HEARS... VOICES IN HIS HEAD:

SALESMAN (V.O.)
Yep. A real beauty, ain't she? Yessir.
A right smart purchase, this vessel.
Tell you what, you buy this ship, treat her
proper, she'll be with ya for the rest of
your life.

Mal smiles weakly at the memory -- or possibly the irony. Now the SOUND of the AIRLOCK DOORS, KER-CHUNK! A sliver of DAYLIGHT hits him in the face. The light UNFOLDS, growing, blinding him. He squints against it, as --

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

THE AIRLOCK DOORS open, revealing two FIGURES, SILHOUETTED by sunlight, BLUE SKY behind them. (The ramp is down, and it seems we're planetside someplace.)

The figures step onto the ship -- and now we see that it's MAL and ZOE. They enter the cargo bay. They might look slightly different than we're used to, because it's now a few years earlier.

Zoe steps deeper into the ship, takes it all in, as if for the first time. In fact, this is the first time she's set foot on Serenity. Mal watches for her reaction.

They are the only two here. The cargo bay itself is now TOTALLY EMPTY. Big, empty and echo-y. And everything's covered with a thick layer of dust.

MAL
Well?

ZOE
(after a good long look)
You paid money for this... On purpose?

MAL
Come on, Zoe. Serious. Whaddya think?

ZOE
Honestly, sir. I think you were robbed.

MAL
Robbed? What, no. What do you mean?

ZOE
Sir, it's a piece of < junk. > [Fei-oo.]

MAL
< Junk? > [Fei-oo?] Okay. So she won't win any
beauty contests, that's true enough. But she's solid.
Ship like this, be with ya 'til the day you die.

ZOE
Yessir. Because it's a deathtrap.

MAL
That's not... you are very much lacking in imagination.

ZOE
I imagine that's so, sir.

MAL
C'mon. You ain't even seen most of it.
I'll show you the rest.
(as they go)
Try to see past what she is, on to what she can be.

ZOE
What's that, sir?

MAL
Freedom, is what.

ZOE
(pointing)
No, I meant -- what's that?

He looks down, sees something we don't need to see, something he was about to step in.

MAL
Oh. Just step around it. I think something
must've been living in here.

As they move off:

MAL
I tell ya, Zoe, we find ourselves a mechanic,
get her running again. Hire on a good pilot.
Maybe even a cook. Live like people. Small crew,
them as feel the need to be free. Take jobs as they
come -- and we'll never be under the heel of nobody ever
again. No matter how long the arm of the Alliance
might get... we'll just get us a little further.

ZOE
Get her running "again?"

MAL
Yeah.

ZOE
Sooo... not running now?

MAL
Not so much.
(then)
But she will.

He moves deeper into the ship, back toward the common area/infirmary. She follows. We don't, we stay in the cargo bay and let them move off.

MAL
I even know what I'm gonna call her.
(they're OFF SCREEN by now, fainter)
Got a named all picked out...

That last bit trailing off as their footsteps recede. We assume he's telling her the chosen name, but now they're too far away for us to make it out. We do, however, hear a BURST of LAUGHTER from offscreen Zoe.

As the LAUGHTER echoes and fades, CAMERA BOOMS DOWN to a TIGHT FACE in the FOREGROUND...

...Mal, back in the present day, curled up on the cargo bay floor, wincing in his pain... CAMERA MOVES down his body, and now WE SEE the wound... gut-shot. Blood, almost black, bubbles at his abdomen.

A thick drop of Mal's blood drips through the grating on the cargo bay floor...

...and falls into --

BLACKNESS.

END OF TEASER
Act One

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

Where Mal's breathing is coming in sharp, painful gasps. He reaches for the fallen engine part that lies nearby. Grabs it and starts dragging himself back toward the infirmary. Above him, echo-y GROUP LAUGHTER from somewhere in the ship.

CAMERA moves off the crawling Mal, RISES, passing through darkness, moving toward the sounds of joviality, the LAUGHTER becoming more present, until we are:

INT. SERENITY - DINING AREA

Mid LAUGHTER BURST from the assembled. A communal dinner. Or what's left of it. Gathered are: Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, Simon, Inara and Book. Book has been telling them a story and they're all in stitches.

ZOE
(laughing so hard it hurts)
No, no, no. That is not true.

BOOK
I swear it is!

INARA
(catching her breath)
Surely one of you must have told him!

BOOK
No! There wasn't one among the brethren had the
heart to say anything. He was so proud of it!

LAUGHTER. Wash enters from the bridge, the guy who missed the joke. He smiles/laughs clueless along with them.

WASH
What? What was he proud of? Who he?

BOOK
(tears from the laughing)
Looked rather natty, truth be told!

Another explosion of laughter. It's contagious. Even for Wash, who's still anxious to be let in on the joke.

WASH
(as he sits)
I want to hear about the natty thing.
(reaches for serving bowl)
What was natty?

Book gets his laughter under control, takes a drink, waves Wash away with a "nothing, nothing" gesture.

KAYLEE
Shepherd Book was just tellin' funny stories
about his days at the monastery.

WASH
Monastic humor. I miss out on all the fun.
(sees serving bowl is empty)
And all the food, too, apparently...

ZOE
Now just who do you think you're married to?

Zoe lifts a napkin off a plate piled with food.

WASH
I love my wife.

He kisses her. They sit close, a couple, easy and relaxed. He digs in.

MAL
So we got a course set?

WASH
We do. Took a little creative navigating, but we
should make it all the way to Greenleaf without
running afoul of any Alliance patrols. Or a single
living soul, for that matter.

MAL
Good. Way it should be.

WASH
'course, what should be an 18 hour trip's gonna take
the better part of a week by this route.

MAL
We're in no rush. I like an easy, languorous journey.

Kaylee rises, picks up some plates.

KAYLEE
What would that be like, I wonder?

SIMON
(moves to assist)
Let me help you with that --

KAYLEE
Not a bit. In fact, it's your turn.

SIMON
(clueless)
My turn...?

KAYLEE
Shepherd told a funny story 'bout bein' a preacher.
Now you tell a funny story about being a doctor.

SIMON
Funny story...

JAYNE
Yeah, 'cos sick people are high-larious.

SIMON
Well, they can be...
(chuckles)
In fact, I remember there was this one time I was working
the E.R. and this fellow, very upright sort of citizen, comes in
complaining of...

JAYNE
(interrupts)
Now Inara -- she's gotta have some real funny whorin'
stories, I'd wager.

INARA
Oh! Do I ever! Funny and sexy! You have no idea!
(then, deadpanny)
And you never will.

Zoe SNORTS with laughter. She likes the dissing of Jayne.

INARA
I don't discuss my clients.

JAYNE
Aww, come on 'nara. Who'd know?

INARA
You.
(then)
Anyway, A Companion doesn't kiss and tell.

MAL
So there is kissing?

She shoots him a look -- and a half smile. He smiles back.

ZOE
Hey, doc?

He looks at her. She's nestled nice and close to her hubby.

ZOE
(nods behind Simon toward:)
I think maybe our Kaylee could use your help after all --

He turns and is surprised to see her carrying aloft a sweetly pathetic ship-made birthday cake with miss-matched candles ablaze.

KAYLEE
Care to make the first incision, Doctor Tam?
(then)
Happy birthday, Simon.

EVERYONE
(variously)
Happy birthday! Yeah, many more. Happy Birthday, son.

Simon reacts, taken aback. It's clear they all knew.

SIMON
Well this is... I didn't... How did you know?
(glances to:)
River, did you -- ?

RIVER
"Day" is a vestigial mode of time measurement.
Based on solar cycles. Not applicable.
(then)
I didn't get you anything.

WASH
I'm afraid it was me who ratted you out, Doctor.

SIMON
You?

MAL
Seems a fresh warrant for your arrest come up on the
cortex. Had your birth date attached right to it.

SIMON
Oh. I see. Well. That's...
(worried)
Really?

KAYLEE
(re: the cake)
Hope you like it. Couldn't get a hold of no flour,
so it's mostly protein. In fact, it's pretty much what
we just had for supper. But I tried to make the frosting
as chocolatey tasting as possible.

He looks at Kaylee. It's very warm and wonderful.

SIMON
Thank you. I'm really very deeply moved.

Kaylee beams her Kaylee-ness right back at him.

JAYNE
Well deeply move yourself over there and blow out
them candles so we can try a slice.

SIMON
Right...

KAYLEE
Come on, Doc. Give a good blow.

He does a slight take. She's sort of poker-faced. He smiles, nods, leans forward, is about to blow out the candles, when... something makes a ghastly noise deep inside the ship. A GRINDING back near the engine. The power DIMS and FLICKERS, the engine stops...

A beat. They all pause at this pregnant moment. Then the familiar HUM of the engines again.

JAYNE
What the hell was that?

KAYLEE
Maybe just a hiccup. I'll check it out.

She sets down the cake on the counter. Starts to move off.

WASH
(rising)
I'll take a look at the helm.

Now he heads off toward the bridge. River is staring at the cake.

RIVER
Fire...

Simon glances at her, then back to the cake. The candles.

SIMON
Right. Okay, okay...

He leans in to blow out the candles and --

Kaylee is stepping up to the door that leads to the aftdeck hall --

BOOOOM! A horrific EXPLOSION from the back of the ship, at the engine room.

Zoe is on her feet in an instant. She lunges for Kaylee as --

-- a giant BALL OF FIRE roils from the back of the ship, filling the aft corridor. Zoe shoves Kaylee clear of the doorway, but the big ass FIREBALL bursts at the doorway. Zoe is knocked back hard by the concussion of the blast, her body glancing off the dinner table, then hitting a wall -- goddamn hard. Wash comes running back from the foredeck hall --

WASH
Zoe!

Everyone's a bit disoriented. Wash flies to his wife's side. Inara and Book move to Kaylee, who was shoved out of the way pretty damn hard.

Mal has run over to the aftdeck doorway. Feels another ERUPTION coming --

-- ANOTHER FIRE BALL growing down there, exploding toward us Mal forces the big metal door shut, latches it just before it hits. He's knocked back by the blast that impacts on the other side of the closed door.

RIVER
Fire... fire...

Mal turns, sees that Simon is already with Wash at the downed Zoe.

WASH
Zoe, honey, talk to me -- you gotta talk to me, baby...

Mal passes Jayne as he hoofs it toward the bridge, pausing only long enough to say:

MAL
Seal off everything that leads below decks. Do it now.

Jayne moves to do that. Mal runs to the bridge --

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Mal works some controls on the console --

EXT. SPACE

As the ramp lowers into space, while --

INT. SERENITY - ENGINE ROOM

The fire rages --

INT. SERENITY - DINING AREA

Wash is beside himself, has his wife's limp hand pressed between his. Simon's feeling for a pulse.

WASH
She gonna be okay?

SIMON
I need my med kit.

Simon rises, turns toward the aftdeck, sees that the door is shut.

KAYLEE
(shakes her head)
We got fire.

He turns, moves to the foredeck, steps up to --

FOREDECK DOOR

Jayne is just coming up from around the corner where he's sealed off that exit.

JAYNE
Where you think you're going?

SIMON
Zoe's badly hurt. I need my medical supplies.

JAYNE
Sorry, Doc. Nobody leaves.

SIMON
If you don't let me through, she could die.

JAYNE
I let you through -- and we all die.

Off this stand off --

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Mal continues to work the ship's controls, as --

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

The AIRLOCK DOORS open, revealing the black of space and now --

INT. SERENITY - ENGINE ROOM/AFTDECK/STAIRS

The fire becomes a SNAKE as it is sucked down toward the lower deck, toward the vacuum of space, making sharp, violent turns --

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA/INFIRMARY

As the SNAKE OF FIRE races down the stairs, whips past the infirmary, furniture and not-nailed-down items getting sucked along with it, and into --

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

The pillar of fire goes ROARING through the cargo bay and, along with some loose cargo, is spit out into space --

EXT. SPACE

As the snake of fire shoots out of the cargo bay, dissipating in cold space.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Mal watches through the bridge window as the fire shoots out, extinguishing itself in the void. He sighs.

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

As the ramp closes and the air lock doors close. The storm is over.

CUT TO:

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA/INFIRMARY

BAM! The infirmary door is shoved open and Mal, Wash and Jayne carry in the unconscious Zoe, place her on the examination table. Simon gets right to work.

Everyone else is close at hand, variously in the infirmary and lingering outside in the common area.

SIMON
No sign of burning. Must be internal. I'll have
to do a scan.

He starts hooking her up to his equipment. Wash at his side, concern etched on his face. Mal fades back, away from the activity there, to...

COMMON AREA

Kaylee is hovering just outside the door of the infirmary in the common area. Mal approaches her.

MAL
Kaylee. Kaylee.

She's in shock. Staring.

MAL
Look at me.

She does.

MAL
I need you up in the engine room, figuring out
what caused this.

KAYLEE
(feeling it)
She ain't movin' --

Mal glances from spacey Kaylee to Zoe through the glass. His attention is drawn back to Kaylee by:

KAYLEE
Serenity's not movin'.

Mal realizes she meant the ship, not Zoe. Nods, keeping cool.

MAL
I know it. Which is why we gotta suss out what
it was happened so we can get her going again, right?

She nods. Tries not to cry.

MAL
Think you can do that?

KAYLEE
Yes, Cap'n.

MAL
That's a good girl.

Kaylee gathers herself, heads off. Mal turns his attention back to:

INFIRMARY

Simon works on Zoe. Wash is at his wife's side, inches from out-of-his mind with distress.

WASH
Come on, baby. Stay with me. You're strong. Strongest
person I've ever met. You can do this.

JAYNE
She gonna make it?

SIMON
Please. I need to work.

Mal appears at the door.

MAL
Wash.

Wash won't look away from his wife.

MAL
Wash, I need you on the bridge.

WASH
Zoe's hurt.

MAL
And the doctor's gonna do everything he can. Meantime,
I gotta have you on that bridge. We need to know how
bad it is.

Wash laughs grimly to himself, under his breath.

WASH
(turning on him)
How bad? It's bad, okay, "sir?" My wife may be dying,
here. So my feeling is it's pretty damn bad.

MAL
Wash...

WASH
I'm not leaving her, Mal. Don't ask me again.

MAL
(no joy in this)
I wasn't askin'. I was tellin'.

WASH
(without looking back)
< Screw you. > [Chur ni-duh.]

Mal sighs. Reaches in, grabs Wash by the shirt, swings him around, shoves him up against a wall. For all the physicality of that, Mal is calm, cool.

MAL
You're gonna get to the bridge and get us on our feet,
because if we can't do for Zoe here, you're gonna have
to be the one that saves her.

Well, yeah there's tension right about now. Simon continues to minister to Zoe. No one else says a word. Mal eases off. Wash's back is now to the infirmary door. A beat.

He goes, just totally fucking torn up inside. Mal looks back to the faces looking back at him, then he exits, too.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

We're looking at Wash's pilot's chair. Empty at the moment. CAMERA moves off that to find... Wash on his back, examining the cockpit innards. His face is somewhat obscured from us.

He's speaking to someone who is o.s., also he seems much calmer than he did moments before.

WASH
Oh, yeah. This is all very do-able.

Wash slides out -- and the first thing we notice is the big, bushy moustache. He stands and now WE SEE, outside the cockpit windows, BLUE SKY. We're parked someplace in the day again.

WASH
Shouldn't be a problem at all. A few modifications,
get some real maneuverability out of this boat. You'd
be surprised.

Mal and Zoe stand at the cockpit door as Wash looks the vessel over.

MAL
So you'll take the job, then?

As Wash sits into the pilot's chair, gives it a little swivel.

WASH
Might do, might do. Think I'm startin' to get
a feel here.

MAL
Good. Well, take all the time you need. Make yourself
to home. Fiddle with them dials. We'll be nearby.

Wash swivels away from them. Fiddles with dials.

MAL AND ZOE

Moving away from the cockpit, down the foredeck, toward the dining area as they confer --

MAL
He's great, ain't he?

ZOE
I don't like him.

MAL
(taken aback)
What?

ZOE
Something about him bothers me.

MAL
(losing patience)
What? What about him bothers you?

ZOE
Not sure. Just... something.

MAL
Well, your "somethin'" comes up against a list of
recommendations long as my leg. Tanaka raved about
the guy. Renshaw's been trying to get him on his crew
for a month. And we need us a pilot.

ZOE
I understand, sir. He bothers me.

MAL
Look, we finally got ourselves a genius mechanic,
now it's about time we hired someone to fly the damn thing.

A BUFFED, SURFER-ISH DUDE, BESTER, passes through frame.

BESTER
(nodding "excellent!")
"Genius." No one's ever called me that before. Shiny.

Zoe doesn't even register that Bester passed by. She's musing on Wash in the distance.

ZOE
(musing on Wash)
Just bothers me.

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY - HEART MONITOR

Starts to BEEP AN ALERT. Zoe's hooked up to the equipment now. Simon reacts.

SIMON
Her heart's stopped...

INARA, BOOK AND JAYNE

Looking on, helpless. Nervous.

BOOK
Maybe someone should get her husband down here...

MAL No.

They see Mal has appeared. He moves into the infirmary. Simon's racing around the infirmary, grabbing things.

MAL
What do you need, doc?

As Simon chooses a vial of something from several --

SIMON
(pointing)
Top cabinet --

Mal pulls it open. Sees a large hypo. Big needle.

SIMON
That's the one.

He hands it to Simon who doses it up.

INARA
What is it?

SIMON
Pure adrenaline --

Simon readies himself, poises the needle right over Zoe's heart. Ready for the Pulp Fiction moment? 'cause that's always funny.

Inara turns away.

Simon plunges the needle in. Zoe's body JOLTS and we

HARD CUT TO:

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY

MAL HOWLS in pain. He's alone in the infirmary, sitting on the edge of the examination table, wrapping a bandage around his midsection, it's quickly filling with blood. He breathes hard, then tries to rise. He nearly passes out merely from that.

He manages to steady himself, moves to the counter, rummages around in some of Simon's supplies -- comes up with the big ass needle that we saw Simon shoot up Zoe with. He injects himself. Has violent reaction.

CLOSE - MAL

His eyes wide, wide awake. He blinks, fueled with the stuff. Now he moves to the engine part that we saw him dragging. It's near the door. He picks it up, but looks toward the infirmary door, as:

KAYLEE (O.S.)
Cap?

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY

-- earlier that day. Mal turns away from the table where Zoe lies. Now the medical monitor beeps a constant, steady rhythm. The crisis seems past. Mal moves to Kaylee at the infirmary door. She looks pale, worried. Bad news a'comin'. They step into --

COMMON AREA

KAYLEE
Zoe gonna be okay?

MAL
You let the doctor worry about Zoe.
Tell me what you know.

KAYLEE
Catalyzer on the port compression coil blew.
That's where the trouble started.

MAL
I need that in Captain Dummy talk, Kaylee.

KAYLEE
We're dead in the water.

MAL
Can you fix it?

KAYLEE
I could try...

MAL
Just get us to limpin'. That's all I need.

She looks at him. Nearly staring. Nods. He senses more...

MAL
What? What is it?

KAYLEE
Well. It's worse'n just the coil.

MAL
How can it be worse?

KAYLEE
Main life-support's down on account of the engine being dead.

MAL
Right. But we got auxiliary --

KAYLEE
No. We don't. It ain't even on. Explosion
musta knocked it out.

MAL
So what are we breathin'?

KAYLEE
Whatever got pumped into the atmo before the
explosion shut it all down.

Jayne has overheard part of this, joins them.

JAYNE
Mosta that oxygen got ate up by the fire
when it went out the door.

KAYLEE
Whatever's left is what we got.

Mal takes a beat, weighing his very slim options --

MAL
How long?

KAYLEE
Couplea hours, maybe.

Now Simon appears, emerging from the infirmary.

SIMON
She's stabilized. I think she's out of the woods.

Off Mal, Kaylee and Jayne, not quite ready to celebrate --

BLACK OUT.

END OF ACT ONE
Act Two

INT. SERENITY - AFTDECK/ENGINE ROOM

Stillness for a beat, then... the ENGINE PART (which we will soon come to know as the catalyzer) is slammed down before Mal.

He's forcing himself up the stairs and around the corner into the aftdeck corridor.

INJURED MAL moves into the engine room, PAST LENS. We HOLD FRAME, looking (from the engine room POV) down the empty aftdeck. A beat, then...

...MAL APPEARS advancing from the dining area, coming down the aftdeck toward the engine room. He's uninjured Mal.

MAL
Bester!

And WE ARE:

INT. SERENITY - ENGINE ROOM

-- in a different time. Mal's looking for his mechanic (the handsome mechanic we saw earlier.)

MAL
What's this I been hearin' 'bout
yet another delay?

As Mal moves closer to the engine room, we can make out BESTER'S ARMY BOOTS sticking out from under the engine. Presumably doing his grease monkey thing.

MAL
You were supposed to have that engine
fixed and us up and...
(as he sees:)
What in the name of < all that's proper..? >
[suo-yo duh doh shr-dang]

Bester's shorts are... well, down around his army boots. He's having the sex with an unseen FEMALE. There is energetic humpage. Mal's a bit scandalized. Casts his glance away from the action. Might clear his throat.

MAL
Bester.

Much with the dirty humping. Mal gives it a beat.

MAL
Bester.

They seem to be, uh, finishing.

MAL
BESTER!

Bester climbs out, mostly still naked, yanking up his shorts.

BESTER
What?

Bester just looks to Mal. Innocently inquisitive. There is some dead pan staring on Mal's part. Oh, yes there is. Then:

MAL
You do realize we been parked on this
rock near a week longer'n we planned?

BESTER
Yeah, but... there's stuff to do.

MAL
As for example that job we got waitin'
for us on Paquin. When we landed here you
said you just needed a few days before we were
space worthy again and is there somethin' wrong
with your bunk?

BESTER
What?

More impatient staring, then Bester gets it finally: right. The naked girl behind the engine. Bester laughs.

BESTER
Oh! No. Cap!
(leans forward "confidentially")
She like engines. They make her hot.

MAL
Bester. Get your prairie harpy off my
boat and put us back in the air.

BESTER
'kay. But... can't.

MAL
Whaddya mean "can't."

BESTER
No can do, cap. Secondary grav boot's shot.

KAYLEE (O.S.)
No it ain't.

Kaylee pops up, getting dressed. The men look at her.

KAYLEE
Ain't nothing wrong with your grav boot.
Grav boot's just fine.
(to Mal)
Hello.

She drops down again, out of view. Mal glances at Bester. Bester's a bit flustered.

BESTER
(to Mal)
She don't... that's not...
(to Kaylee)
No it ain't!

KAYLEE
(reappearing)
Sure it is. Grav boot ain't your trouble.
I seen the trouble plain as day when I's down
there on my back. Your reg couple's bad.

BESTER
(clueless)
The... the what?

KAYLEE
Reg couple. Right here. See?

BESTER
No.

KAYLEE
This.
(Bester is still of the blank expression)
I'm pointin' right at it.

She rolls her eyes, sighs, reaches in, breaks off a part of the engine.

BESTER
Hey!

KAYLEE
Here.

She plunks the part in Bester's hand. She reaches back in, tinkers.

KAYLEE
Don't really serve much of a purpose, anyway.
Just tends to gum up the works when it gets tacked.
(re: a nearby wrench)
Hand me that, will ya?
(he does)
So I figure, why even have it? Better to just plug
your g-line straight into the port-pin-lock and that
should...

She's done. WHIRRR the turbine starts to turn.

KAYLEE
There.

She shoves it in Bester's hand. Fiddles with the engine.

BESTER
What'd you do?

MAL
She fixed it.

KAYLEE
Well, it wasn't really broke.

Bester looks at the part in his hand.

MAL
Where'd you learn to do that, miss?

KAYLEE
(shrugs)
Just do it, that's all. My daddy says I got
a natural talent.

MAL
I'd say you do at that.

BESTER
(re: the part)
We don't need this?

KAYLEE
Not 'specially.

MAL
You work for your daddy, do you?

KAYLEE
When he's got work. Which lately ain't
been too often.

MAL
And have you had much experience on a
vessel like this?

KAYLEE
Never even been up in one before.

MAL
You never been... how'd you like to?

KAYLEE
(points skyward)
You mean...?

MAL
Sure.

KAYLEE
For how long?

MAL
Long as you like. Long as you can keep
her in the sky.

KAYLEE
(getting it now)
You offering me a job?

BESTER
What?

MAL
Believe I just did.

KAYLEE
Just gotta ask my folks!

She pulls her hastily assembled wardrobe about her, pushes past Mal and a stunned Bester.

KAYLEE
Don't leave without me!

Mal watches Kaylee go, tickled. Bester just blinks, stunned.

BESTER
Mal. Whaddya need two mechanics for?

MAL
I really don't. Pack your things.
(then)
She got a name?

INT. SERENITY - ENGINE ROOM

MAL
Kaylee!

Mal has entered the engine room. He looks off screen, a little annoyed to see --

-- Kaylee is just sitting there. Forlorn. She's holding the same piece of equipment that Mal was dragging in here. But the one she's got is twisted and melted and screwed up. She stares at it.

MAL
Kaylee, what are you doing?

KAYLEE
I'm sorry, Captain. I'm real sorry. I shoulda
kept better care of her. Usually she lets me know
when something's wrong. Maybe she did and I wasn't
paying attention.

MAL
(patiently)
I cannot be having this from you right now.
We got work to do. < Understand? > [Dong-ma?]

KAYLEE
(re: the warped engine part)
Catalyzer's broke. Gonna need a new one.

MAL
There is no new one. You gotta make do with
what you got.

KAYLEE
It's broke.

She just sits there. He gently makes her stand up.

MAL
Come on. This the part?
(she nods)
Well that don't hardly seem like nothing at all.
Where does it go?

She shows him the spot in the engine.

KAYLEE
Here. But it won't fit no more.

He tries to install it, no go.

MAL
Then you gotta figure a way to make it fit.

KAYLEE
Tried. Sometimes a thing gets broke,
can't be fixed.

MAL
Engine don't turn without this?

She shakes her head "no."

MAL
Engine don't turn, life support won't function,
we don't breathe. You want to keep breathin',
don't you?

She nods.

MAL
So do I.
(then)
Will you try again?

She looks at him. Doesn't want to disappoint. Nods. He smiles. Puts his hand on the back of her neck. Off this moment --

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA/INFIRMARY

Simon checks the still unconscious Zoe's vitals. Inara appears at the infirmary door.

INARA
How is she?

SIMON
Still unconscious. But her vitals are strong.
She won't know it, but as long as her condition
remains like this... she'll outlive us all.
(then)
She's using less oxygen.

He moves into the common area. Sits. She joins him.

SIMON
I always thought the name "Serenity" had a
vaguely funereal sound to it.

INARA
I love this ship. I have from the first
moment I saw it.

SIMON
I just don't want to die on it.

INARA
I don't want to die at all.

SIMON
Suffocation's not exactly the most dignified
way to go. The human body will involuntarily --

INARA
Please, I don't really require a clinical
description right now.

SIMON
I'm sorry. I just...
(after a beat)
It was my birthday.

He smiles wistfully. She smiles back. Puts her hand over his. Off this moment...

INT. SERENITY - BOOK'S QUARTERS

Book sits at his little table. We can see he's scared. Reading from the Psalms. Trying to find comfort in those ancient words.

RIVER (O.S.)
Don't be afraid.

He looks up, a bit startled to see River haunting his doorway.

RIVER
(re: his Bible)
That's what it says. Don't be afraid.

BOOK
Yes.

RIVER
But you are afraid.

BOOK
Yes.

RIVER
You're afraid we're going to run out of air.
That we'll die gasping.
(then)
But we won't. That's not going to happen.

He looks at her. Taken by her utter certainty. He finds a kind of comfort there. Well, that is until:

RIVER
(flatly)
We'll freeze to death first.

CUT TO:

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Wash is at the helm. He's torn up with worry and anger. He's seething a bit. Mal enters. Wash doesn't even turn.

MAL
You get that beacon sent?

WASH
(much with the resentment)
Yeah, it's sent.

MAL
Good.

WASH
(under his breath)
Pointless.

MAL
What was that?

WASH
Nothing, sir. It's a brilliant plan, I'm sure
we'll all be saved.

MAL
Getting a little weary of this attitude, Wash.

WASH
Are you? Well I'm very sorry about that, sir.
I guess the news that we're all gonna be purple
and bloated and fetal in a few hours has made me
little snippy.

MAL
It's possible someone might pick up the signal.

WASH
(pissed)
No, Mal. It's not possible. Nobody's gonna pick up
the damn signal. You wanted us "flying under the radar,"
remember? Well, that's where we are: out of range of
anyone or anything.

MAL
Then make it go further.

WASH
What?

MAL
Make the signal go further.

WASH
Can't make it go further.

MAL
Not if all you're gonna do is sit here and
whine about it, no.

WASH
What do you expect me to do, Mal?

MAL
(building)
Whatever you have to. And if you can't do it from
here, then you put on a suit and get out on the side
of the boat and...

WASH
(voice rising)
And what? Wave my arms around?

MAL
Wave your arms around, jump up and down.
Divert the nav sats to the transmitter.
Whatever.

WASH
Divert the...? Right. Because teenage pranks
are fun when you're about to die!

MAL
Give the beacon a boost, wouldn't it?

WASH
Yes, Mal. It'd boost the signal, but even if some
passerby did happen to receive, all it'd do is muck
up their navigation!

MAL
Could be that's true.

WASH
Damn right it's true! They'd be forced to stop
and dig out our signal before they could go anyplace!

A beat as Wash let's what he just said sink in. He snaps:

WASH
Well, maybe I should do that, then!

MAL
(snapping back)
Maybe you should!

WASH
Okay!

MAL
Good!

WASH
Fine!

JAYNE
HEY!

Jayne has appeared, forces himself between the two of them.

JAYNE
What the < hell > [guay] do you two think you're doing?!
Fightin' at a time like this.

A moral lecture from Jayne. They both ease off. Cool down.

JAYNE
(as he turns and goes)
You'll use up all the air!

WAAA! WAAA! WAAA! A KLAXON SOUNDS and WE ARE:

INT. SERENITY - ENGINE ROOM

Where the ALARM originated. Mal, gut-shot, listens to the ship warning him that:

SERENITY (V.O.)
Life support failure. Check oxygen levels at once.

Then the same ALERT repeats IN CHINESE.

SERENITY (cont'd; V.O.)
< Life support failure. Check oxygen levels at once. >
[Jeo-shung yong-jur goo-jang. Jien-cha yong-chi gong yin.]

Mal's bleary-eyed, fumbling with the ship part, trying to install the catalyzer into the failed compression coil. But he's having a fuck of a time.

He wipes sweat from his brow with the back of his hand -- leaving an ugly smear of blood. He blinks it back. It's in his eyes. Shit.

The KLAXON continues to sound. The ship's message repeats in English again.

Mal nearly has the part installed... but it slips from his bloody fingers and drops into the engine. Lost to him.

He can't believe that just happened. And the alert continues to sound --

BLACK OUT.

END OF ACT TWO
Act Three

EXT. SPACE

Dead Serenity just hanging there.

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA/INFIRMARY

Everyone sits huddled together. They're wearing coats and blankets. It's cold. Mal stands before the assembled, grim. He's a bit distracted, tries to keep focused. A combination of the situation and the thinning of the air.

MAL
Well. As you're all keenly aware... seems we,
uh, run into a... bit of a situation. Engine's
down. Life support's on the fritz. And I got nine
people here all wanting to breathe.
(tries to be light)
Could take turns, I suppose.
(thud)
But that doesn't really appear to be an option.
Truth is... ain't got a whole lot of options at
this juncture.

A beat. They all look back at him. Watch him as he casts a glance up at Serenity. Runs his hand along a bulkhead or wall. Then gives it an affectionate pat. Continues --

MAL
So now instead of focusing on what we don't
got -- time to talk about what it is we do.
And what we got are two shuttles. Short range.
Won't go far. But they each got heat, and they
each got air. Last longer than what's left in
Serenity.

SIMON
Long enough to reach someplace?

MAL
No.

BOOK
So... where will we go, then?

MAL
Far as you can get. We send both shuttles off
in exact opposite directions -- betters the chance
of somebody being seen, maybe getting picked up.
(then)
Shepherd Book, Kaylee and Jayne'll ride with Inara
in her shuttle. Doc, you and your sister will go
with Wash and Zoe -- seein' as Zoe still needs
some doctorin'.

KAYLEE
What about you?

MAL
Four people to a shuttle. That's the arrangement.
Even's the odds.
(then)
I'm staying with Serenity.

KAYLEE
Cap'n --

MAL
We sent out a beacon. Even managed to boost it a
little. Now, if by some chance we do get a response,
there's gotta be someone here to answer.

That hangs there for a moment. Nobody believes that's going to happen.

MAL
Let's get those shuttles prepped.

Wash stands, starts moving to the stairs near the infirmary.

MAL
Wash -- shuttles are that way.

WASH
I know. But like you said -- someone might answer
the beacon. And when they do, I want to make sure you're
able to call us all back. Won't take me a minute.

Mal nods. Wash moves off.

MAL
Jayne, get shuttle two ready. I'll see to Inara's.
(to everyone else)
Let's get moving.
(as he goes)
Take only what you need.

Mal moves off. Everyone's a bit stunned. Inara moves to follow Mal.

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY/CATWALKS

Mal heads up the catwalks, moving toward Inara's shuttle. She appears, following.

INARA
Mal...

MAL
You fly smart, don't push too hard, shuttle life
support should last you a good long while.

INARA
Mal, this isn't the ancient sea. You don't have
to go down with your ship.

MAL
She ain't going down. She ain't going anywhere.
(then)
Jayne'll be worth something if you run into trouble.
But don't trust him, and don't let him take over. You're
paid up through the month. It's still your ship.

INARA
Mal...

MAL
But so far as your security deposit goes... that
I think I might have to owe you.

He enters her shuttle. She follows --

INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE

Inara steps through first. She's wearing different clothing. Mal steps in behind her. The shuttle is either empty or dressed differently. Mal's showing her the "property."

MAL
Well, here she is.

She glides in, takes in the space for the first time.

MAL
Nice, ain't she?

INARA
Smallish...

MAL
Not overly. How much space you really need for
what you do, anyway?

She ignores that, still considering the shuttle. She moves into the cockpit. Blue sky outside the windows. Mal follows.

MAL
Got a surveyor and his wife interested in renting it.
They're just waiting to hear back.

INARA
What's her range?

MAL
Standard short. She'll break atmo from a wide orbit.
Get you where you need to go, bring you back home again.

INARA
This shuttle -- it seems newer than the rest of the ship.

MAL
My understanding is this airlock was added some years
back. Certain modifications and improvements been made
over the course of the years.

INARA
Mmmm.

MAL
But she's space worthy. Like the rest of Serenity.

INARA
No need to sound so defensive, Captain.
(sliding past him)
I prefer something with a few miles on it.

He watches her as she moves into the main chamber, looking it over. Looking her over...

INARA
Were we to enter into this arrangement, Captain
Reynolds, there are a few things I would require
from you. The foremost being complete autonomy.
This shuttle would be my home. No crew member,
including yourself, would be allowed entrance
without my express invitation.

MAL
You'd get your privacy.

INARA
Good. And just so we're clear, under no circumstances
will I be servicing you or anyone who is under your
employ.

MAL
I'll post a sign.

INARA
That won't be necessary. The other thing I would
insist upon is some measure of assurance that when
I make an appointment with a client I'm in a position
to keep that appointment. So far as such assurances
are possible on a vessel of this type.

Mal blinks at all that for a beat, letting it register, then:

MAL
That's an awful lot of caveats and addendums there, miss.

INARA
As I stated, I just want to be clear.

MAL
Well. I'll be sure and take all of that into
consideration when I review the applications.

INARA
Don't be ridiculous. You're going to rent
this shuttle to me.

MAL
Am I?

INARA
Yes. And for one quarter less than your asking price.

MAL
(like hell)
That a fact?

INARA
It is.

MAL
And you figure you'll be getting this
discount... why exactly?

INARA
You want me. You want me on your ship.

MAL
Do I?

INARA
Yes. Because I can bring something that your
"surveyor" or any of the other fish you might
have on line can't -- a certain respectability.

MAL
Respecta --

INARA
And based on what little I've seen of your...
operation... I suspect that's something you
could use.

MAL
Fine. Let me ask you this: if you're so "respectable,"
why are you even here? I mean, I heard tell of fancy
ladies such as yourself shipping out with the big luxury
liners and the like. But a registered Companion on a
boat like this? What are you running from?

INARA
I'm not "running" from anything.

He looks at her. Doesn't believe her.

MAL
If it's Alliance trouble you got, you might want to
consider another ship. Some on board here fought
for the Independents.

INARA
The Alliance has no quarrel with me. In fact I
supported Unification.

MAL
Didja? Well, I don't suppose you're the only
whore that did.

She looks at him. Smiles, won't let this guy rankle her.

INARA
Oh -- one further addendum. That's the last time you
get to call me a "whore."

She walks past him.

MAL
Absolutely. Never again.

INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE

Mal moves about the cockpit, checking gages, dials, etc.

MAL
Keep everything set as low as possible. Don't
waste what you got.

She pushes him out of the way, takes over.

INARA
Let me do that. You never could operate this thing.

He lets her take over. Gazes down at her. Now she looks at him. So much to say. He sees that. Feels similarly.

MAL
And try not to talk. Talkin' uses up air.
There ain't no need for it.

INARA
Mal... come with us.

MAL
Can't. Four to a shuttle, Inara. Four.

INARA
One more person. You know it can't make a
difference. Not now.

MAL
I'm not leaving Serenity.

INARA
Mal -- you don't have to die alone.

MAL
Everybody dies alone.

WE hold on their look to each other, we PRE-LAP the horrible SOUND of the KLAXON SOUNDING --

CUT TO:

INT. SERENITY - AFTDECK/ENGINE ROOM

Gut-shot Mal fishes out the part to the compression coil. Works to fit it into the damaged engine. It takes some work, but he does it.

He fires it all up - the turbines start to spin. It works. The BLARING ALERT stops. Power restored. Life support functioning again. He starts dragging himself toward the bridge --

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

We're in Mal's POV, moving toward the seemingly empty bridge -- but Wash appears in the doorway.

WASH
Everything's set and ready.

REVEAL - MAL (uninjured-Mal) moving toward the bridge.

MAL
Good.

WASH
I linked the nav systems of both shuttles into
the helm, here.

Wash points out a LARGE, DISTINCTIVE BUTTON on the navigation control panels.

WASH
When your miracle gets here, you just pound this
button once. It'll call back both shuttles.

Mal nods. Wash wants to say something. Everything's all fucked up. He's about to speak, but before he can:

MAL
Go see to your wife.

Wash takes a beat. Then exits.

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

Mal walks with Jayne. Jayne has a duffle and some guns slung over his shoulder.

JAYNE
I went ahead and closed off all below deck vents.
Diverted what there is to the bridge. It ain't much.
So my advice, seal off everything tight behind you
when you go back up. Might buy you some time.

Mal nods. He's looking up to --

MAL'S POV

Of the upper catwalks. To the left, Wash and Simon carry a stretcher with unconscious Zoe into the second shuttle. River follows.

Mal looks to his right --

-- Book and Kaylee enter Inara's shuttle. Inara stands at the doorway, looking down at him.

JAYNE
And I prepped a suit for you. It's hanging in
the foredeck. When the time comes, you can just...

MAL
(cuts him off, though not angrily)
I won't be needing it, but thanks.

JAYNE
Okay. Well.

Jayne takes a beat. Then he moves off, heading up the catwalk stairs.

WASH

At the door to shuttle two. He slides the door shut.

JAYNE

Reaches the top of the catwalk. Motions for Inara to go inside. A beat. He eyes on Mal. Then she disappears inside. Jayne follows, shuts the door. Mal stands alone in the big, empty cargo bay, as...

EXT. SPACE

The two shuttles detach from Serenity, go their separate ways, off into space.

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

Mal moves through the door leading to the infirmary, shuts up the door behind him.

INT. SERENITY - UPPER DECK

Mal closes off the door to the aftdeck. Moves through the dining area, moves into the foredeck, slides that door shut behind him.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Mal closes off the bridge. He sits into the pilot's seat. Sighs. And WE SEE his FROZEN BREATH misting. He sits alone. Staring out into the empty vastness of space.

The air is thin and he starts to get drowsy. Each breath is COLD MIST. The MIST getting thinner and thinner. He shivers. His eyes start to close --

EXT. SPACE

Serenity. Silent. Alone. Not moving.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Some time has passed. Mal looking half frozen and unconscious in the pilot's chair. He doesn't react to the SOUND of a SIGNAL as it starts come through on the console...

CLOSE - MONITOR (INSERT)

THE SIGNAL on the console. A FUZZY IMAGE. A MAN'S FACE through the mostly STATIC. Barely discernible.

CAPTAIN (V.O.)
(filtered)
Firefly Serenity... This is the private salvage
S.S. Walden. Receiving your distress beacon, do you
read?

We're only getting about a third of that as it's trying to break in on Serenity's wounded half-powered system. It continues to repeat and CRACKLE.

Mal sits motionless. Not hearing it. Maybe dead.

More STATICY SIGNAL. More CRACKLING. But now Mal starts stir slightly. A few more WORDS of the DISTRESS REPLY crackle through...

Mal forces his heavy-lidded eyes open just as... The transmission ends. No more signal.

Mal tries to orient himself. Did he hear something? His head lolls as he looks to the now silent monitors. Could have been a dream. His bleary eyes shift up to the window --

ANOTHER SHIP

TWICE THE SIZE OF SERENITY Rises up there, right the fuck in front of the window. Which is as good a place as any for --

BLACK OUT.

END OF ACT THREE
Act Four

EXT. SPACE

The S.S. Walden nose-to-nose with the smaller Serenity.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

Mal on the bridge. WE SEE the IMAGE of the CAPTAIN of the Walden on the vid monitor. A serious sort; Mal without the funny. Mal does his best to keep up, but lack of oxygen and the extreme cold aren't helping.

CAPTAIN
I'm sorry for your troubles, Captain.
They sound many. But you do understand
I can't invite you on board my vessel. I
got folks here to consider. They depend on
me to make the right choices. And I don't
know you.

MAL
I'd do the same myself, were the situation
reversed. 'course, one of my idiot crew'd probably
talk me into changing my mind... you got idiots?

CAPTAIN
No.

MAL
Well I'm not looking for a ride, Captain.
Just a little push is all.

CAPTAIN
Right. Your mechanical trouble. Compression
coil, you say?

MAL
It was the catalyzer.

CAPTAIN
Not even the coil? Catalyzer's a nothing
part, Captain.

MAL
It's nothing 'til you don't got one. Then
it appears to be everything.

CAPTAIN
It is possible we might have something that'd
do you. We just come from a big salvage job off
Ita Moon. Picked the bones'a half a dozen junk heaps
not unlike the one you're sittin' in.

MAL
Mmmm.

CAPTAIN
I suppose we could dock, take a look around, see
if there ain't some way we might come to terms.
That's if we have the part --

Captain looks off screen, presumably at some unseen person speaking to him.

CAPTAIN
I'm told we do.

MAL
I would appreciate it.

CAPTAIN
Trouble is... how can I know for certain your
story's true? Ambush could be waiting for me and
my people on the other side.

MAL
You can plainly see both my shuttles been launched,
just like I said. And I'm sure by now you scanned me.
You know I got no life support.

CAPTAIN
(muses, then)
I don't expect to see any weapons when we board.

MAL
And I do expect to see that engine part before
I open the door.

CAPTAIN
(smiles)
I feel like maybe we can do business.

FZZZT. The Captain's face disappears from the monitor.

EXT. SPACE

As the S.S. Walden's airlock attaches to that of Serenity...

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

Mal, breathing very shallow, waits near the standing airlock door controls.

The Captain appears at the airlock doors. He holds up the catalyzer at the window. Mal activates the airlocks doors.

As the doors open, there is a tremendous RUSH OF AIR from other side -- blessed oxygen. Mal nearly passes out from the drinking in of it. He closes his eyes for a beat, just sucking down as much as he can. When he opens his eyes again --

-- The Captain and his FOUR PEEPS have their guns raised and aimed at him. Mal's hands go up instinctively.

CAPTAIN
Check him.

One of Captain's crew moves in, frisks Mal as --

CAPTAIN
(to another flunky)
Search the ship. Start in the cockpit, work
your way down.

MAL
This what you meant by "ambush?"

CAPTAIN
(smiles)
We're just verifying your story.
(to flunkies)
You find anyone on board not supposed to be --
you shoot 'em.

The Captain was hoping that last bit would elicit a reaction from Mal. It doesn't. As the lackeys go --

MAL
Thought we were gonna be reasonable about this?

MARCO
Reason?

No, that wasn't a typo, because suddenly we are:

EXT. SERENITY - RAMP/CARGO BAY - DAY

On the open ramp of Serenity and it's Mal and Zoe in an armed stand off another gang -- THREE PRICKLY BANDITOS, a grizzly fellow called MARCO their leader.

MARCO
(to his partner)
He's gonna talk to us about "reason," now.

JAYNE
Yeah. That's a joke.

Oh, yeah -- Jayne's one of the members of the rival gang.

MAL AND ZOE -- a brief, sotto exchange:

MAL
Which one you figure tracked us?

ZOE
The ugly one, sir.

MAL
(long beat)
Could you be more specific?

THE OTHER GANG

MARCO
Do we look "reasonable" to you?

MAL
Well. Looks can be deceiving.

JAYNE
Not as deceiving as a low down dirty... deceiver!

MAL
Well said. Wasn't that well said, Zoe?

ZOE
Had a kind poetry to it, sir.

JAYNE
You want I should shoot 'em now, Marco?

MARCO
Wait until they tell us where they put the stuff.

JAYNE
That's a good idea. A good idea. Tell us where
the stuff's at so I can shoot ya.

MAL
Point of interest? Offering to shoot us, don't
work so well as an incentive as you might imagine.
Anyway, we've hidden it. So if you kill us, you'll
never find it.

JAYNE
Found you easy enough.

MAL
Yeah. Yeah you did, actually.
(then)
How much they paying you?

JAYNE
Wubba -- huh?

MAL
I mean, let's say you did kill us. Or didn't.
There could be torture. Whatever. But somehow
you found the goods. What would your cut be?

JAYNE
Seven per cent, straight off the top.

MAL
Seven? Huh.

Mal makes a "wow, that's pathetic" grimace. Jayne squints.

JAYNE
What?

MAL
Mmm? Nothing. Not a thing. Just...
(to Zoe)
That seem low to you?

ZOE
It does, sir.

JAYNE
It ain't low...

MARCO
Stop it.

JAYNE
Seven per cent, that's standard.

MAL
Who told you that?
(re: Marco)
Him?
(then)
Okay. Zoe, I'm paying you too much.

JAYNE
Why? What does she get?

MARCO
Knock it off.

MAL
Look, forget I said anything. I'm sure you're treated
very well. You get the perks. Got your own room...
(off Jayne's reaction)
No? You share a bunk?

JAYNE
(re: the other guy)
With that one.

MAL
Really.

MARCO
Jayne, this ain't funny.

JAYNE
Yeah, I ain't laughin'.

MAL
You move on over to this side, we'll not only show you
where the stuff's at -- we'll see you get the share you
deserve. Not no sad "seven."

JAYNE
Private room?

MARCO
Jayne!

MAL
Your own room. Full run of the kitchen. Whole shot.

MARCO
Jayne. I ain't askin --

POW! Jayne shoots Marco in the leg and instantly drops the other bandito (who was just barely starting to turn on Jayne) without really looking.

JAYNE
Shut up.
(to Mal)
How big a room?

Off that --

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY

The Captain with his gun trained on Mal. Now the others start to return to the cargo bay.

LACKEY #1
Ship's clear, Captain.

CAPTAIN
You check the engine room?

LACKEY #1
(nods)
It's like he said. Catalyzer's blown. That's
all he needs.

MAL
Now anything that's worth anything's really right
here in this cargo bay. You take a look around,
decide what you think's fair.

CAPTAIN
Already decided.

BOOM. The Captain shoots Mal in the gut. It happens suddenly and without passion.

CAPTAIN
We're taking your ship.

Mal's eyes go wide and he sinks to his knees. Topples onto his back. The Captain coolly instructs his crew. Tosses the catalyzer to one of his men.

CAPTAIN
Billy, get this plugged in. Jesse, call Stern over
here. You and him'll pilot this pile of < crap >
[go se] out of here.

MAL'S POV

Looking up under Jayne's work out bench where there is a gun tapped to the underbelly.

RESUME

CAPTAIN
We'll get it as far as --

He stops short as he hears the sound of a GUN being COCKED --

CAPTAIN'S POV

Looking down the barrel of Mal's gun.

MAL
(eyes on Captain)
Jesse, don't call Stern. Billy, leave the catalyzer.

CAPTAIN
(nervous, nods)
Do as he says.

The lackey with the catalyzer sets it on the cargo bay floor.

MAL
(to Captain)
Take your people and go.

CAPTAIN
You would have done the same.

MAL
We can already see I haven't.
(then)
Now get the hell off my ship.

And now the Captain and all his men back away to the air lock doors. Mal, through sheer force of will, rises to his feet, keeping the gun on them, moves to the air lock door controls. Closes hits the button as they step through. The doors shut.

And Mal collapses on the cargo bay floor. Exactly where we first found him.

EXT. SPACE

As the larger salvage ship detaches from Serenity and heads off.

INT. SERENITY - VARIOUS

The cargo bay floor, blood there.

The common area, infirmary, and the trail of blood left behind by the wounded Mal.

The Engine room, the turbines turning with the restored part.

The aft and fore deck corridors, the trappings of the interrupted party... and the tell-tale trail of blood.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE

We find Mal. He's dragging himself to the bridge. He reaches for the button to call back the shuttles. But before he can touch it... he passes out.

BLACKNESS.

UP FROM BLACKNESS

VOICES. Familiar voices. Growing more present as Mal wakes in --

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY

Mal blinks as he sees --

-- Simon, Book, Inara, Jayne... then River, then Wash, and finally even Zoe, who's sitting up nearby. No one (save maybe Zoe) is directly facing him. Various backs to him. They're in conversation, though since we're in Mal's POV we can't quite make out what they're saying. Zoe's the first to notice that Mal's come into consciousness.

ZOE
Welcome back, sir.

The others follow her look, see he's waking up.

MAL
(disoriented)
I go someplace?

BOOK
Very nearly.

INARA
We thought we'd lost you.

MAL
(disconnected)
Been right here.

Mal notes Wash hooked up to an IV -- he's giving Mal a transfusion. Mal, in his out-of-it-ness doesn't quite understand that.

MAL
Wash, you okay?

WASH
(amused)
Yeah, Mal. I'm fine.

MAL
Got a thing in ya.

WASH
Yeah.

SIMON
(to Mal)
Try not to speak. You're heavily medicated and
you've lost a lot of blood.

MAL
Oh.
(then, realizing)
Thought I ordered ya'll off the ship?

The others exchange looks. Jayne glares at Inara.

JAYNE
(under his breath, accusatory)
Told ya.
(points to Wash)
It was them! They come back first! Their
shuttle was already here when we docked.

MAL
(to Wash, trying to remember)
I call you back?

WASH
No, Mal. You didn't.

ZOE
I take full responsibility, captain.

SIMON
That decision saved your life.

ZOE
It'll never happen again, sir.

MAL
(to Zoe)
Good. And thank you. I'm grateful.

JAYNE
(huh?)
You are?

Zoe smiles, nods.

ZOE
My pleasure, sir.

They hold the look between them. The original two. A special connection. Jayne observes that exchange.

JAYNE
Hey! That ain't... We'da been here first! But
there's something wrong with 'nara's shuttle! She
done somethin' to it, Mal. Smells funny.

INARA
(heard this all day)
I've told you -- that's incense.

JAYNE
Whatever.

Kaylee enters. See's Mal's awake.

KAYLEE
(brightly)
Captain! You fixed the ship!
(then, a serious professional assessment)
Good work.

MAL
Thanks.

SIMON
Alright. I have to insist. The captain needs to rest.

MAL
(nodding off)
Yeah. I think maybe doc's not wrong about that.
Just for just a few...
(forces himself not to drift)
You're all gonna be here when I wake up?

BOOK
We'll be here.

Mal allows himself to close his eyes.

MAL
(eyes closed, smiles)
Good. That's good...

As we PUSH IN closer to his face, which, if I can say, exhibits a kind of serenity, we start to HEAR what HE HEARS... VOICES IN HIS HEAD:

SALESMAN (V.O.)
Yep. A real beauty, ain't she? Yessir. A right
smart purchase, this vessel.

EXT. USED SPACE SHIP LOT - DAY

SALESMAN
Tell you what, you buy this ship, treat her proper,
she'll be with ya for the rest of your life.

The Used Ship SALESMAN giving Mal the hard sell.

Now WE SEE that they're standing in front of a totally different ship. Not Serenity at all.

SALESMAN
Son? Hey, son?

The Salesman notices that Mal doesn't seem to be paying a bit of attention.

SALESMAN
You hear a word I been sayin'?

He hasn't, really. Because he's looking across the lot at something else...

MAL'S POV

Across the lot sits Serenity, dirty, a bit broken down... and silently speaking to Mal. Off that --

BLACK OUT.

END OF SHOW