Firefly - "The Message"

Written by: Joss Whedon & Tim Minear
Directed by: Tim Minear

Episode #: 1AGE11

SHOOTING SCRIPT: December 10, 2002
BLUE REVISIONS: December 12, 2002
PINK REVISIONS: December 16, 2002

Teaser

EXT. SPACE BAZAAR - DAY

(Black, space-y day.) Ships land and take off from this decrepit but inviting old structure, clearly clapped together from several different ships and stations. We hold on it, silent but for a bit of intro music and a sudden, booming voice:

BARKER (O.S.)
We are not alone!

INT. BAZAAR - CONTINUING

It's a giant flea market/ food court/ carnival/ bar/ post office/ whatever the hell anybody needs out here station. We see the scope of the place as we push in (low angle) towards a BARKER, standing in front of a small, curtained off space. He's talking from the top, very fast, selling hard.

(NOTE: This is not a large build -- it's the size of a large closet, curtained off on all sides, with but one display.)

BARKER
Forget what you think you know.
Forget what your mother told you when
she tucked you in at night, forget
the lies of our oppressive,
cabalistic Allied governments!
Behind this curtain lies the very
secret they don't want you to see --
the most astounding scientific find
in the history of humanity. Proof!
Of Alien life. Yes, go ahead and
laugh, sir, but what you see inside
this room will change your life
forever! It will haunt your dreams
and harrow -- YES -- your very soul.
For six bits you can unlock -- this
lady wants to go, I cannot allow her
to be near such wonder, such
thrilling horror, unescorted. Who
will go with her? Who will see the
unholy truth, the only captured
specimen -- in existence -- of Alien
life!

INT. BARKER'S BOOTH - CONTINUING

Hold a still frame on Simon and Kaylee, staring intently at something in a big jar that we can't see very well. Wait a beat.

SIMON
Yep. That's a cow fetus.

KAYLEE
Guess so... Does seem to have an
awful lot of limbs...

SIMON
It's mutated. Most of the breeding
on the outer planets was done by
shipping DNA scrip instead of
animals. The first herds were grown
in labs, then set loose. Every now
and then...

KAYLEE
But cow? How do you figure?

SIMON
It's upside down.

She cranes her head upside down, looks. Nods, sagely...

KAYLEE
Okay, then. Cow.

SIMON
And I'm out twelve bits. I really
know how to show a girl a...
disgusting time.

KAYLEE
Oh, it's sweet. Poor little thing
never even saw the light of day, now
it's in show business!

He looks at her, admiringly.

SIMON
You manage to find the bright side to
every single thing.

KAYLEE
(coming closer)
Also, we get the booth to ourselves
for five whole minutes...

SIMON
(glances at jar)
We are not alone, remember?

KAYLEE
(taking his hands)
He won't squawk. Tell me more good
stuff about me.

SIMON
(smiles)
Well, you're kind of a genius when it
comes to machines... you always say
what you mean, and your eyes...

KAYLEE
Yeah? Eyes, yeah?

SIMON
I don't know how to...
(joking)
Plus, every other girl I know is
either married, professional, or
closely related to me, so you are
more or less literally the only girl
in the world.

Those famous eyes of her darken considerably. She draws back.

KAYLEE
That's a hell of a thing to say.

SIMON
I was joking...

KAYLEE
No, no, I get it. Back on Osiris you
probably had nurses and debutantes
crawling all over you. But down here
at the bottom of the barrel, there's
just me.

SIMON
That is not even --

KAYLEE
Well, I'm glad I rated higher than
dead bessie here. < Why don't you tell
the cow about its beautiful eyes? >
[Nee GAO-soo NA niou, TA yo shwong
mei-moo?]

She is storming out just as Wash and Zoe are coming in. Simon watches Kaylee despairingly.

WASH
Oh my god, it's grotesque! Oh, and
there's something in a jar.

He ogles the fetus as Zoe come up to Simon.

ZOE
Scared her away again, did you?

SIMON
This may come as a shock, but I'm
actually not very good at talking to
girls.

ZOE
(not unkindly)
Why, is there someone you ARE good at
talking to?

WASH
(in the background,
to the jar)
Do not fear me. Ours is a peaceful
race, and we must live in harmony...

INT. BAZAAR - CONTINUING

Mal and Inara walk through, talking.

INARA
Struck out again, did you?

MAL
It's like something from a fable!
I've got a priceless artifact, the
biggest score of my unseemly career,
and no one will touch it.

INARA
The Lassiter is universally known,
Mal. Fencing it has to be like...
like fencing the Mona Lisa.

MAL
The Mona Who?

INARA
You're out of your league. You
should think about my offer --

MAL
I done that thinking, and you're to
stay clear.

INARA
I know people in the highest ranks
of --

MAL
Jabber jabber, I ain't listening.
Just 'cause you helped on the job
don't make you a crook, and I don't
want you jeopardizing your career
over this.

INARA
The career you abhor and look down on?

MAL
I don't want you in the way a'
trouble. Take it as you like.
(calling out)
Amnon, How've you been?

The have reached a more official looking section of the bazaar, with a sign reading: POST, FREIGHT and HOLDING.

AMNON DUUL, the postman, wears a sort of combination of a postal uniform and hasidic wear. He is decent and more or less unflappable, and happy to see Mal.

AMNON
(shaking his hand)
Malcolm, an old friend's face is a
balm in this age.

MAL
It's been too long.

AMNON
No, just about the right amount. Too
much of you is less of a balm.
(to Inara)
I'm disappointed to see you haven't
found a better berth by now.

INARA
I'm a little confused myself.

MAL
I read your wave. You're holding
post for us?

AMNON
Got yourself a haul this time. You
can sign for everyone?

MAL
Sure.

Amnon goes into a back room as Mal starts filling out a form.

Book arrives, with River in tow. They both hold short sticks that dangle strings off the end. Each string runs through the middle of a ball of ice cream that is supported by a bowl shaped cookie attached (under the ice cream) to the string. They're sort of like little mace and chains, and eating them is not altogether convenient, since they swing a bit.

BOOK
Any packages for me?

MAL
Don't know yet.

RIVER
My food is troublesome.

Jayne arrives, toting a couple boxes of ammo.

JAYNE
Girl's a mind-readin' genius, can't
figure out how to eat an ice-planet.

MAL
You get everything?

JAYNE
They didn't have rounds for the
Buhnder, but we're ammoed up pretty
good. Got a discount too, on
account of my intimidating manner --

Amnon returns, wheeling in a man-sized crate. He tosses a couple of smaller package on the counter.

AMNON
This one's addressed to you and Zoe, Mal.

MAL
I don't remember ordering any parts...

He gives Amnon a hand, settling the crate and starting to open it.

AMNON
The little one's for Cobb.

Jayne hurried puts the ammo on the counter and takes the small package.

JAYNE
I got post?

BOOK
Might we all want to step back a few
paces before he opens that?

JAYNE
Haw haw. It's from my mother.

During this, Inara finds a small package, squarish, addressed to her. She smoothly slips it beneath her outfit without anyone noticing, turns to see Kaylee arrive, looking glum.

INARA
(to Kaylee)
So, do aliens live among us?

KAYLEE
One of 'em's a doctor. No post for
me?

Amnon shakes his head. Inara puts her arm around Kaylee, Kaylee putting her head on Inara's shoulder as Jayne tears open his package and pulls out a letter.

Zoe and Wash wander up with Simon trailing behind as Jayne reads, with the classic toneless hesitation of a slow reader:

JAYNE
"My dear boy. I hope you are well
and that you get this soon in your
travels."

AS JAYNE CONTINUES: Mal motions for Zoe to help him.

MAL
You order equipment?

ZOE
No sir.

JAYNE "Thank you for the credits you
forwarded, they have helped as Matty
is still sick with the Damplung. He
waves hello, and so does your father.
He is in good spirits and there was
layoffs but the foreman said no one
can weld like a Cobb so he has
employment still. I made you the
enclosed" --

He digs in the box --

JAYNE (cont'd)
Ooh! Enclosed!

He reaches in and pulls out a woolly knitted hat with earflaps and a pom pom. He is clearly moved. He puts it on, continues reading.

JAYNE (cont'd)
-- " the enclosed to keep you warm on
your travels. Hope to hear from you
soon, love, mother."

He closes the letter, proudly adjusting his hat.

JAYNE (cont'd)
How's it sit? Pretty cunning,
don'tchya think?

It's faintly ridiculous, but are you gonna tell him that? Anyway, Kaylee likes it, wistful as she is.

KAYLEE
I think it's the sweetest hat ever.

BOOK
Makes a statement.

JAYNE
Yeah, yeah!

WASH
A man walks down the street in that
hat, people know he's not afraid of
anything.

JAYNE
Damn straight.

Mal and Zoe are just finishing unlocking the crate, trying to pry it open.

MAL
Well I hope we got us some fun hats
too.

As he's saying it, they pry the lid off and we see the corpse of a young man lying, arms folded, inside.

Mal and Zoe look at him with somber recognition. Everyone goes very quiet, looking inside.

The last to bother is Jayne, who cranes his head into frame, hat still perched proudly, looking quizzically at the body.

JAYNE
What'd you all order a dead guy for?

As Mal and Zoe look at each other:

END OF TEASER
Act One

INT. /EXT. BUDDIST TEMPLE - NIGHT

Just inside the temple we see TRACEY, who is a green but gutsy private. Right now he's sweaty and tense. He looks out over the remains of a wall slowly, looking for enemies.

Light from the occasional explosion or far away burst of gunfire gives us a better view of the place -- it's being held by about six Independents, all looking out in different directions.

Tracey sees nothing. He takes a moment and lays down his weapon. Reaches into his bag and pulls out a can of beans. As he does, we see an Alliance Soldier creeping towards him from the other side of the wall. Tracey doesn't see --

-- Till the guy's foot hits a rock -- Tracey moves, scrambling for his rifle -- too late as the Alliance Soldier raises his --

CLOSE ON: The Alliance Solder -- as Zoe calmly appears behind him and draws a knife across his throat.

Angle on: Tracey -- as a few blood splatters hit his face.

Zoe drops the soldier and enters, taking the extra rifle.

TRACEY
Thanks. Didn't know you were there.

ZOE
(stone cold)
That's sort of the point. Stealth,
you may have heard of it.

TRACEY
I don't think they covered that in
basic.

ZOE
Well, at least they covered "Dropping
your weapon so you can eat beans and
get yourself shot".

TRACEY
Yeah, I got a badge in that.
(off her look)
Won't happen again.

ZOE
It does, I'm just gonna watch.

TRACEY
Anything interesting out there, you
don't mind my asking?

ZOE
(indicating)
'Bout 30 troops behind those
buildings. Mortars, but no rollers
yet. I expect they plan to pick at
us a spell before they charge. They
had two scouts sniffin, about ten
yards out, but I took 'em down.

TRACEY
(impressed)
I didn't hear a single thing.

ZOE
First rule of battle, little one.
Never let 'em know where you are.

Mal runs in, screaming and firing behind him, and dives over a wall for cover, lands nearby, bullets zinging over his head.

ZOE (cont'd)
Of course, there's other schools of
thought...

Mal scrambles over to them, laughing.

MAL
Oh! That was bracing. They don't
like it when you shoot at them. I
worked that out myself.

ZOE
Did you find Vitelli?

MAL
Vitelli's out of it. That bumblebee
laid down arms at the first sign of
inevitable crushing defeat, can you
imagine such a cowardly creature?

TRACEY
Northwest quadrant's open, then?

MAL
Tracey. Ain't you been killed yet?

TRACEY
(looking sheepishly
at Zoe)
No fault of my own, I promise.

MAL
(disappointed)
I really wanted your beans.

ZOE
They're gonna be coming right through
here. They got rollers?

MAL
They got every damn thing. How's the
lieutenant?

TRACEY
He started screaming. All of a
sudden, about his arms, where were his
arms, we hadda go back and find 'em.

ZOE
What the hell hap --

TRACEY
He ain't even hurt! Got ten pretty
fingers like the most of men, but
he's screaming they're gone, crying.
Then he ain't said a word in two
hours.

MAL
(mournful anger)
These kids...

ZOE
Sir. Do we hold?

TRACEY
(breaking a bit)
I don't want to die here. Forgive me
saying, but this rock ain't worth it.
Not our lives.

MAL
Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's
carrying a bullet for you right now,
doesn't even know it.
(smiles)
The trick is to die of old age before
it finds you.

ZOE
We can still cut through to the 22nd
a the school system. Make a decent
stand there.

MAL
We can't do any good here. And I
sure as hell ain't laying down arms.
Zoe, you heard the Lieutenant give
the order to join up with the 22nd?

ZOE
I did.

MAL
Round 'em up, then.
(to tracey)
You also heard the lieu --

TRACEY
I wouldn't rat you out, Sarge, hell
I --

MAL
Ain't me I worry on. Lieutenant gets
his mind back in order, he shouldn't
have this on his record. Weren't his
fault he couldn't take it.

TRACEY
That's more'n he woulda done for --

Mal raises a hand, intense, for quiet. Tracey doesn't get it, doesn't hear the growing whine of --

ZOE
SEEKER!

Things happen very quickly (or very slowly, depending on Mr. Minear). Zoe dives for cover as Mal pulls a flare from his belt that activates the moment he touches it, hurls it above his head --

-- and a tiny missile zooms at the group, suddenly turning up, hitting the flair 30 feet up --

The explosion lights up the air, Mal also diving over Tracey as shrapnel rains down --

TRACEY
AAGH!

Mal is hit in the back and arm. He rolls off Tracey, who's taken it in the leg pretty badly.

TRACEY (cont'd)
Is it bad? Is it bad?

MAL
(ignoring his own
wounds)
It's glorious.
(calls out)
We gotta move!

TRACEY
I can't...

MAL
Time to run!
(to Zoe)
Zoe! Get the Lieutenant!

TRACEY
Sarge, I really can't run here.

MAL
Well, you know the old saying...

He hoists Tracey over his shoulder and runs just as a tank bursts through the wall --

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. BAZAAR - CONTINUING (PRESENT DAY)

Close up of that same Tracey, all stiff and dead and blue.

After a moment, Mal slides the lid back over him.

MAL
This don't make any kind of sense.
Zoe?

ZOE
I got nothing. But it's definitely
Tracey.

WASH
You know this guy?

INARA
Is this a warning of some kind?

AMNON
(quietly)
Listen, Mal, you gotta get this thing
out of my station.
(Mal starts to object)
Human transport on a postal route is
very very illegal. Anybody even
knows I took a corpse in, I'll lose
my franchise.

MAL
Well who sent it to you?

AMNON
No return.

ZOE
How long has it been here?

AMNON
Near a week, that's why I waved you.
If I'd known...

JAYNE
He don't smell.

MAL
I know. He's been decently preserved.
(to Zoe)
Give me a hand.

JAYNE
We're taking him on board?

MAL
We are.

JAYNE
Don't figure the percentage in that.

MAL
Don't strain your brain trying, then.
Might break something.

Mal and Zoe haul the box up, start walking. Book moves to help --

ZOE
(stony)
We got him.

They cart him off, the others folding in behind, quietlike. Simon approaches, oblivious, hoping to win Kaylee into a conversation.

SIMON
What's going on? Did we get
something fun?

A glare for Simon. River passes him, ice cream swinging --

RIVER
You are such a boob.

INT. CARGO BAY - A BIT LATER

The box is open again. Everyone is about.

JAYNE
How do we know he ain't plague-ridden
or some such?

ZOE
We know.

WASH
We don't, actually. I mean, I
respect you guys have a history,
but... What are you doing?

Zoe is reaching in, pulling something from the corpses folded hands.

KAYLEE
He's so young...

SIMON
(to Mal)
If you want me to do a proper
autopsy --

KAYLEE
Cut him up?

MAL
Not just yet, thank you doctor.

KAYLEE
(muttering)
Robot.

Zoe produces a FUTURISTIC DEVICE! That is a tape recorder -- of the FUTURE! (Somebody design this please.)

MAL
What do you got?

She turns it on. The voice stops them all. It is hesitant at first, and weak, as though the talker were straining for breath, But soon settles into a rhythm...

TRACEY (V.O.)
Uh. Okay. Um, recording... Hi, I
guess. It's me. Tracey. This is a
message for Zoe, and for Malcolm
Reynolds, and I really hope you all
are the ones listening to it. Or, I
guess I don't. I guess I hope I'm
upright and telling you this tale
myself, and we're laughing about how
stupid I am, but that don't look
likely.

We move over everyone as they listen, soberly.

TRACEY
No, it's more probable I've gotten
myself dead, which is a shame if
you're me.
I'll spare you the boring details,
falling in with untrustworthy folk,
making a bunch of bad calls... All
that matters is I expect to be
shuffled off, and you two are the
only people I trust to get me where
I'm going. Which is home. I'd like
my body to be with my folks on St
Albans. We got the family plot
there, and my Mom and dad deserve to
know I died. If you can come up with
some heroical lie as to the how, I'd
be... no. I'd just like to be able
to lie with my kin, and for them to
know that's what I wanted. It's
funny. We went to war never looking
to come back, but it's the real world
I couldn't survive. You two carried
me through that war. Now I need you
to carry me just a little bit
further. If you can. Tell my folks
that I'm at peace and all. When you
can't run anymore, you crawl, and
when you can't do that... well, you
know the rest. Thanks, both of you.
Oh. Yeah. Make sure my eyes is
closed, will you?

A moment, and the tape ends. Everyone is quiet.

Wash rises, heads to the stairs --

MAL
Wash?

Wash turns back.

WASH
St Albans ain't two days ride, we burn hard
enough.

A moment, and Mal nods. Wash continues up and Mal turns to replace the lid again, says to Inara:

MAL
This might make your schedule a
little --

INARA
It's all right.

He nods again, not much with the verbal thank you's right at this moment. He and Zoe lift the top together --

ANGLE: FROM INSIDE THE BOX as they cover it.

EXT. SPACE BAZAAR - MOMENTS LATER

Silent but for music, we see Serenity gently lifting off. It passes another ship -- a slightly larger, ALLIANCE SHORT RANGE ENFORCEMENT VESSEL. It's basically an oversized, beat up squad car. As it lands right near where Serenity took off, the music changes to indicate this might be not wonderful.

INT. BAZAAR - MOMENTS LATER

We TRACK BEHIND three men as they stride through the Bazaar. If they're cops, they're detectives, since they have no uniforms to speak of. The man in the middle is called WOMACK. He's been around the block, and likely beaten up everybody on it. The other two, FENDRIS and SKUNK, aren't much different, but they clearly defer to Womack.

They make their way through the place with purposeful indifference. Pass the barker:

BARKER
That's right, gentlemen, you've been
told tales all your life, but Alien
races exist among us, the proof is
right inside, you'll be amazed and
astounded, what is the government not
telling us? Alien life! Six bits!

WOMACK
(to the others, an
ugly growl)
It's fake. I seen it. It's a pig or
some such.

ANGLE ON: Amnon. He is going through papers, behind his counter. He arranges them carefully --

ANGLE ON: his papers.

-- as a badge is dropped on top of them.

Amnon looks up to see Womack standing right in front of him. Amnon hesitates, and before anything can happen Skunk is already going in his back room to search. Fendris is behind Womack, checking his rather large pistol and watching out for pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders.

AMNON
Can I help you...?

WOMACK
You are an ugly looking little quim,
you know that?

AMNON
If there's a problem --

WOMACK
So you have to be asking yourself,
ugly as you are, how repulsive
looking the guy that makes you his
lady friend is gonna be. I mean,
prison is a lonely place, and you
sure as a hundred moons ain't gonna
be pitching, so what kind of sorry
ass troll is gonna get blue enough to
grapple with you? Shudder to think.

AMNON
I've broken no law.

WOMACK
Transportation of human cargo --
especially dead cargo -- through the
Allied postal system is punishable by
five to ten years on a penal moon.
Plus, you don't know this yet, but
you resisted arrest.
(off Amnon's terror)
Where's my body?

AMNON
I didn't... I don't...

WOMACK
The dead guy. He got shipped here.

Skunk comes out, shakes his head no.

WOMACK (cont'd)
And shipped back out, I guess. Where.

AMNON
I never saw a body. But there was a
crate big enough for one, I did hand
that over just a while ago.

WOMACK
Lovely. Who got it?

Amnon hands over the register, points to a name.

WOMACK (cont'd)
Malcolm Reynolds. And where would
you suppose he's off to?

AMNON
I swear on my soul I don't know. But
he just left. He captain's a firefly,
you should be able to capture them if
you leave now.

WOMACK
Are you telling me to leave?

AMNON
No, no...

WOMACK
Relax, you've been great. I was only
bluffing with that stuff about
arresting you, who needs that kind of
paperwork? Skunk. Light him on fire.

Skunk sprays Amnon with lighter fluid he keeps in a cool container in his jacket. With swift graceful motion, he holds up a suddenly lit match. Amnon backs into a huddle in the corner, utterly terrified.

Womack stands next to skunk, over the cowering postman.

WOMACK (cont'd)
Tell anyone we were here, warn
(looks at the
register)
'Malcolm Reynolds' that we're coming, and
you'll wish we'd burned you.
< understand? > [Dong ma?]

Amnon nods frantically.

WOMACK (cont'd)
Boys... let's go find us a corpse.

He blows out Skunk's match.

END OF ACT ONE
Act Two

INT. ENGINE ROOM - NIGHT

Kaylee lies in her hammock, listening to the recording of Tracey's voice. She clearly has been doing this for a while, and has gotten awful misty about the lad.

TRACEY (V.O.)
All that matters is I expect to be
shuffled off, and you two are the
only people I trust to get me where
I'm going. Which is home. I'd like
my body to be with my folks on St
Albans. We got the family plot there,
and my Mom and dad deserve to know I
died.

INT. AFT HALL - CONTINUING

Simon comes up, looking for Kaylee. He stops outside the engine room door. Sees her, hears the recording...

TRACEY (V.O.)
If you can come up with some heroical
lie as to the how, I'd be... no. I'd
just like to be able to lie with my
kin, and for them to know that's what
I wanted.

Simon slowly slips away, realizing with regret he is unwanted.

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

Book stands at the head of the crate/coffin, bible in hand, head bowed. WIDEN to see that during his little silent service, Jayne is busily lifting weights. Jayne replaces the barbell in its holder, the metal noisily clattering. Book looks around.

JAYNE
Hey, I'm sorry, Preacher. Makin' too
much noise?

BOOK
No, no, I was just.... saying a few
words. Don't know the boy's
denomination, but...

JAYNE
It's good. Lord should oughta look
after the dead.

Over the following, Jayne pats himself down with a towel -- he's quite sweaty. Really been going at it.

JAYNE (cont'd)
You wanna do a set? I'll spot you.

BOOK
Not so terribly in the mood.

JAYNE
Most people is pretty quiet right
about not. I guess the captain and Zoe were
summat bonded with the kid.

BOOK
It would appear.

JAYNE
Me, I see a stiff -- one I didn't
have to kill myself -- I just get,
you know, the urge to do stuff. Work
out, run around, get some trim if
there's a willin' woman about... not
that I get flush from corpses or
anything. I ain't crazy.

BOOK
Makes sense. Looking to feel alive,
I would venture.

JAYNE
For psychology, that ain't half dumb.
My kind of life don't last, preacher.
So I expect I'm invested in making
good sport of it whilst I can.

He puts on his hat as he says it.

As they continue talking, we come around to see River in the background, crawling gracefully onto the coffin. She stretches, catlike, moving her head about in odd fashion, as though listening, then lies flat on her belly, arms out to her sides.

JAYNE (cont'd)
You gonna read over me when I'm taken
down, Shepherd?

BOOK
Oh, I suspect you'll be around long
after we're all --

JAYNE
(noticing River)
What the hell is she --
(at River)
-- what the hell are you doing?

BOOK
Oh. River, that might not be the
best place to...

RIVER
I'm very comfortable.

They consider pulling her off... hesitate...

BOOK
(to Jayne)
I guess we do all have different
reactions to death.

CUT TO:

INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUING

Mal and Zoe are laughing their asses off. We widen to see Inara is with them, laughing as well. They've all had a few drinks, and continue to drink as they talk:

MAL
I really thought I was gonna die.

INARA
How could he possibly have even...

MAL
The colonel was dead drunk. Three
hours pissing on about the enlisted
men, they're scum, they're not
fighters -- and he passes right out.
Boom.

ZOE
We couldn't even move him. So Tracey
just snipped it right off his face.

MAL
And you never seen a man more proud
of his mustache than Colonel Orbrin.
In all my life I will never love a
woman the way this officer loved that
lip ferret.

ZOE
Giant walrussy thing, all waxed up...

INARA
Did he find out?

Another burst of laughter from Mal and Zoe.

MAL
The next morning, he wakes up, and
it's gone. He's furious, but he
can't actually say, you know,
"someone stole my mustache". So he
calls out all the platoons --

ZOE
I thought he was gonna shoot us --

MAL
And he's eyeballing the men something
fearsome, not a word, and he comes to
Tracey... and Tracey is wearing the
gorramn mustache on his face.

ZOE
He glued it on.

MAL
Staring the old man down, wearing his
own damn... Oh god...

The laughter falters, Mal looking into his drink a moment. Inara looks at him sympathetically, tries to jump start the conversation again:

INARA
Well, the colonel must have said
SOMETHING to --

The SHIP ROCKS with force of an explosion. They all start out of their chairs.

ZOE
Are we hit?

MAL
Too damn close --

And they are racing to the

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Where Wash is piloting intently.

WASH
They're behind us. Fired over the
port bow.

MAL
Warning shot?

WASH
They coulda hit us...

ZOE
Feds.

The screen comes to life, Womack's face on it.

WOMACK
This is Lieutenant Womack of Allied
Enforcement. You are in possession
of stolen goods and are ordered to
cut thrust and prepare for docking.

MAL
The Lassiter.

ZOE
That was quick.

INARA
Think Saffron tipped them off?

Mal hits the screen com:

MAL
This is captain Reynolds, I think
there's been a mistake.

WOMACK
There's been a lot of mistakes,
Captain. The latest of which is you
taking that crate.

He looks at the others. "Crate?"

MAL
(to Womack)
We took in a lot of inventory today.
If something got mixed in, we'll sure
hand it back, but I don't think we're
your men. Let me check through the
cargo -- is it marked at all?

WOMACK
You might wanna think twice about
playing games with me. I will blow
you out into fragments.

MAL
You do that, your precious crate
gonna be in bitty shards.
Now I got deliveries to make,
officer, so you just lock onto my
trajectory and I'll see if there's
anything here fits your description.

He turns off the screen.

WASH
Police procedure has changed since I
was little.

MAL
They call back, you keep them
occupied.

WASH
What do I do, shadow puppets?

BOOK
We'll take care of it.

ZOE
I don't get this. They're after
Tracey?

MAL
Or there's something else in that box.

INT. CARGO BAY - MOMENTS LATER

Tracey's body lies on the floor as Mal, Zoe and Jayne go through both the crate and the box, looking for something. The others including Simon, Inara and River (minus Wash and Book) look on.

MAL
Anything?

JAYNE
(smashing planks)
Not unless this crate's made a'
magical wish-granting planks.

MAL
(to Zoe)
Check his pockets.

KAYLEE
That ain't right...

MAL
Neither's being blowd up. There's
nothing about this sits well with me.

ZOE
Empty.

MAL
Well, they want this body for
something, and I'm guessing it ain't
a proper burial.

Looks around. No option. Looks to Simon:

MAL (cont'd)
Well, doctor... I guess you are doing
an autopsy.

INT. INFIRMARY - LATER

Mal, Zoe and Jayne watch as Simon prepares to open up the now naked (but sheet covered) body.

ZOE
You really think there's something in
there.

MAL
Using corpses for smuggling is a time-
honored repulsive custom.

JAYNE
Maybe it's gold!

ZOE
And maybe this was a friend of ours,
and you wanna show a little respect.

JAYNE
I got respect. But I'm just
saying... gold...

SIMON
He's been opened before.

MAL
How's that?

SIMON
It's good work. The scar's nearly
invisible, but...

He traces his finger all the way down the chest.

MAL
Well, let's see what's in there.

He looks at Zoe, hating this. A tense moment. Simon takes his scalpel and starts cutting.

And Tracey SCREAMS.

END OF ACT TWO
Act Three

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY

Where we left off. Everyone backing away from the SCREAMING Lazarus. Tracey looks with horror to his bleeding chest, then to the man who holds the scalpel -- Simon. Simon sees the blood, makes an instinctive move to see to the wound. All Tracey sees is the knife. He gives a PRIMAL CRY as he lunges off the table at Simon. They struggle, knocking shit over. Mal and Zoe jump into the fray. Mal calling to Jayne:

MAL
Get hold of him!

JAYNE
Spry for a dead fella!

Mal pins him to the floor, ends up sitting on top of him.

MAL
SETTLE! That's enough!

TRACEY
He was cuttin' on me, Sarge!

MAL
I know it! I told him to!

TRACEY
You told him to! What for?!

MAL
You were dead!

TRACEY
(coming back to him)
Hunh? Oh. Right. Suppose I was.
(sees Zoe)
Hey there, Zoe.

ZOE
Private.

MAL
You feeling a mite calmer now?

TRACEY
Yes, Sarge.
(then)
Sarge?

MAL
What?

TRACEY
I think I'm nekked.

A beat. Mal's straddling a naked man.

MAL
Okay. We're gonna get up off this
floor, you're gonna stand like a
person, cover yourself, and the
doctor's gonna tend to that gash.

Tracey nods. Mal gets off of him. He rises. Looks a bit sheepish. Pulls the sheet up around his waist as he sits on the edge of the table. As Simon starts to tend to the wound:

TRACEY
Sorry for jumping on you the way I
did. I was a little confounded.

SIMON
Emerging from that state can be
disorienting. Was it byphodine?
(clarifying)
The drug you took to make it appear
as though you were dead. Do you
remember what it was called?

TRACEY
Never did ask.

SIMON
(puts gauze to wound)
Hold that there.
(casually, to Jayne)
Bring that pan, please.

Jayne, not knowing why, brings a bedpan over. Simon positions Jayne's hand with pan in front of Tracey without explanation, then moves to his med supplies.

TRACEY
Fella sold it to me said I'd be under
a week or more. He told me I
wouldn't dream. But I did. Dreamt
of my family.

Simon has moved back to his patient, reaches out, repositions the bedpan as Tracey suddenly HEAVES forward (leaning forward so all spew is sound fx.) Jayne reacts. Simon doesn't, was expecting it. Gives Tracey a shot:

SIMON
This should take the edge off the
nausea.
(to grossed-out Jayne)
You can take that.

Simon goes about checking Tracey's vitals, hooking him up to the scanners and reading the monitor in the b.g.

MAL
Alright. Now you care to explain why
it is you got yourself all
corpseified and mailed to me?
What're you running from?

TRACEY
Running to, not from. Just want to
get home is all. That's all I ever
wanted. 'cept there's them took
exception to that. To me leaving...
while I's in possession of their
property...

MAL
What'd you boost, Tracey? More
important, who'd you boost it from?

SIMON
Captain... Captain, I don't mean
to... I think we may have a medical
emergency here...

They all look at him; he's looking at the monitor.

SIMON (cont'd)
This man... he appears to be in
cardiac arrest...

MAL
What? Tracey, you having a heart
attack?
(to Simon)
Don't look like he's having a heart
attack...

TRACEY
(laughs)
Don't pay no attention to your
machines, doc. They'll fib to ya.
Heart's just fine. Better'n fine.
Runs a bit hotter'n normal, is all.

SIMON
(off, monitors)
My god... it's not just the heart
muscle... it's everything...

TRACEY
All the movin' parts. That's what I
took, Mal. And that's what they want
back.

MAL
Tracey -- you want to explain what in
the < name of all that's sacred > [TYEN
shiao-duh] you're talking about?

TRACEY
(distracted)
Sure, Sarge... sure...

Now the MONITOR really starts to go nuts, Tracey's heart beating ever faster. The others look from the monitor to him, then follow his gaze to...

KAYLEE stands in the doorway, staring at the man come back to life. They hold the look between them.

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA - (SHORT TIME) LATER

Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Simon, Kaylee and Tracey. Kaylee brings Tracey some water. They will have silent connection throughout the following.

TRACEY
Thank you.

She smiles at him, takes a seat.

MAL
So your innards... ain't your innards?

TRACEY
Mine got scooped out, they replaced
every bit.

JAYNE
Why'd you wanna go and do that?

TRACEY
For the money. They're paying me to
transport what they stuck in.

ZOE
You're smuggling human organs?

TRACEY
But not from a person. I wouldn't do
a thing like that. Grown in a lab.
Only way they can be moved is in a
person. Not sure why.

SIMON
Because the technology's not ready.
The blastomeres are unapproved.
Likely unstable. You're not just a
carrier -- you're an incubator.

TRACEY
Whichever. It ain't strictly legal,
I can tell you that. I was supposed
to be at the drop spot two weeks ago.
A clinic on Ariel. They were to open
me up, take the goods and put back my
own workings.

ZOE
And you believed them? That they'd
put you back together?

TRACEY
Sure. They want you to make as many
runs as you're able. Hell, I met a
fella, he's on his third already.

MAL
So what happened?

TRACEY
Well, truth is I had a --

SIMON
-- change of heart?

A beat. Simon's amused. No one else is. Tracey continues:

TRACEY
A better offer. Another buyer,
willing to pay three times the going
rate. Enough I could get my folks
off that rock they been forced to
live on, set them up someplace nice,
someplace warm, maybe one of the
central planets.

MAL
But your "better offer" went south...

TRACEY
Got myself into a bit of a pickle,
Sarge. The folks I was working
for... they musta got wind what I was
planning. When I showed up... my new
buyer was dead. There was men there,
waitin' for me.

KAYLEE
But you got away.

TRACEY
Only just. I knew they'd never stop
looking for me so long as I was
alive. Thought my chances'd be
better if I weren't.

MAL
So you "died" and figured then they'd
stop looking?

TRACEY
Yeah.

A SUDDEN BLAST from outside. The ship ROCKS with the impact.

Tracey reacts with fear. As Mal rises --

MAL
Think maybe you figured wrong.

EXT. SPACE - CONTINUING

The Police Cruiser is behind Serenity, pacing. It lets loose with another ELECTRONIC BLAST.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Wash and Book on the bridge. As Mal and Zoe and Jayne enter behind them:

WASH
I think they're 'about done being
stalled, Captain -- WOMACK (ON VID)
Firefly Serenity, you will prepare to
be boarded or destroyed.

MAL
He's bluffing. He won't want to
damage the cargo.

WASH
(as he swivels)
There's cargGAHHH!

He's just laid eyes on Tracey, who stands in the doorway with Kaylee. Book takes in the sight with interest.

WASH (cont'd)
Mal, your dead army buddy's on the
bridge!

MAL
I know it. How close're we to St.
Albans?

WASH
Five from atmo.

MAL
Pull up the terrain specs. Kaylee,
take him out of here. And strap in.

Wash brings up terrain maps on the nav monitor. Mal grabs the radio mic, speaks.

MAL (cont'd)
This is Captain Reynolds of the
Firefly Serenity --

WOMACK (ON VID)
Reynolds. I hear you picked up some
cargo belonged to me.

MAL
That a fact?

WOMACK (ON VID)
I stepped over a lot of bodies to get
to that one you got in your hold.
You play this right, and yours won't
have to be among them.

TRACEY
(scared)
Sarge...

ZOE
Private, the Captain ordered you off
the bridge.

KAYLEE
Come on.

She starts to lead him away. Mal pages through maps.

MAL
We'd love to let you boys dock, but
that last pop you give us knocked out
our fore-couple. We're gonna have to
park it if you want the tour.

FOREDECK HALL - Tracey heard that, turns back. Kaylee gently tugs him her way.

KAYLEE
It's okay. Captain'll take care of
it. You'll see.

They have arrived at the door to her bunk, she pulls it open. Gives him a little push forward. He looks at her, unsure. But the total, guileless faith in her face persuades. He starts down the ladder to her bunk. She follows as --

BRIDGE

MAL
(into mic)
See you on the ground.
(clicks off, points
to map)
There. Think you can do it?

WASH
Watch me.

Mal clicks over the feed on the mic, now when he speaks it's an internal SHIP PA.

MAL (AMPLIFIED)
Attention all crew. Sit down and
hang on to something...

EXT. SPACE/ATMO - CONTINUING

As Serenity, followed by cops, dips down, heads for a PLANET. Breaking atmo, speeding up, taking a dive, as...

INT. SERENITY - KAYLEE'S BUNK - CONTINUING

Kaylee is coming down the ladder into her room. As the ship heads into the dive, she is sent into Tracey's arms. He catches her. Holds her. They look at each other as --

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Jayne is prepping some weapons, just in case. Wash pilots.

WASH
Get ready for hard burn --
(leans on controls)
They'd be crazy to follow us in here.

Everyone hangs on. Jayne has great sea legs and is all about loading the guns, as --

EXT. ICE CANYONS - CONTINUING

Serenity dives into snowy canyons. The police Cruiser paces them, then pulls up sharply. Serenity thrillingly zooms through the twisty canyons.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Wash glances up through the top of the bridge windows...

WASH
Okay. Let's just say they're not
crazy...

EXT. ICE CANYONS - CONTINUING

Cops follow placidly just above the canyon, pacing. BELOW, Serenity is having a tougher time of it as it maneuvers through the ever precarious canyons.

INT. SERENITY - KAYLEE'S BUNK - CONTINUING

BONDY MOMENT BETWEEN KAYLEE AND TRACEY.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Something here.

EXT. ICE CANYONS - CONTINUING

Serenity goes behind a curve, disappears for an instant, Reappears, then disappears again... then doesn't re-appear. The Police Cruiser circles, looking. No sign.

EXT. /INT. ICE CANYONS/CAVE - CONTINUING

As Serenity backs into ice cave.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

They talk about how long they can hide here.

INT. SERENITY - KAYLEE'S BUNK - CONTINUING

Tracey makes comment that they stopped. He's worried. Wants to check. A DEEP BOOMING from somewhere.

INT. SERENITY - PASSENGER DORM - CONTINUING

Simon and River react to BOOMING.

INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE - CONTINUING

Inara reacts to booming.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

The other's react. Talk about depth charges.

EXT. ICE CANYONS - CONTINUING

Where WE SEE Police Cruiser dropping magnetic depth charges.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUING

What are their options? Not a lot. They will find us -- and if depth charge hits them, it'll burn out the ship's innards and they be dug out of here.

OMITTED

INT. SERENITY - KAYLEE'S BUNK - CONTINUING

Tracey heads for the bridge, concerned.

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Wash says if they get hit, they're dead. Book says the only thing they can do now is give ourselves up -- just as Tracey is arriving.

Tracey suddenly looks a bit dark and shifty, eyeing some nearby weapons...

END OF ACT THREE
Act Four

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Sweat-beaded brows, a beat of nervous silence, held breaths.

Then from above a rolling THUNDEROUS BOOM. The bridge vibrates with the OS explosion's force. A cascade of ICE CHUNKS clatters over the windshield and the nose of Serenity.

Wash lets out his breath, checking some of his dash monitors.

WASH
< Mother-of-Jesus > [Wuo duh MA]
they're comm' close... They must
have caught a bead on our heat
trail --

Jayne turns from the debris still falling to the others. He's extra sweaty, falling prey to his cowardly side.

JAYNE
I'm with the preacher. I ain't
gettin' snowed-in permanent cause of
some jackass kid --

MAL
(thinking; to Wash)
What about runnin'?

WASH
(Washlike dry wit)
We tried that, remember? That's why
we're here? In this glacier? 'Bout to
be buried alive?

ANOTHER BOOM FROM ABOVE - throughout this scene, the depth charges are a slow, regular drum beat, adding rhythmic percussion to the tense-ness.

MAL
Fine. Book-- You're sayin' you got an
angle--

BOOK
(quiet conviction)
The only one, Captain.

Mal turns to Zoe. They exchange a look. Zoe gives a slight nod - 'can't think of anything else to do'. Mal nods back.

MAL
Wash... Call the cops. Tell them we
give up.

Wash nods and flicks the RADIO ON, preparing to call.

TRACEY (O.S.)
No.

ANOTHER BOOM.

Tracey edges the barrel of a gun into the FG, holding it on the others in the bridge.

MAL
Tracey, what are y--

TRACEY
I said NO! Those bastards up there
are gonna pull this million-credit
meat outta me and leave me bleedin'--
(turns gun on Wash)
Now turn off that radio!

Another depth charge EXPLODES, closer, louder, Jayne braces himself, bolting instinctively to his feet as more ICE SHARDS rain down on the ship.

JAYNE
Ruttin' twerp's gonna get us--

TRACEY
(loud, arresting)
Don't you move! No one move!
(gun back to Wash)
Turn it off! We have to run! NOW!

Book takes a slow step toward Tracey. Tracey swings the gun at him, the model of panicky-guy-with-gun-in-over-his-head and-ready-to-go-postal.

BOOK
Put that thing down, boy. We weren't
talking about turning--

TRACEY
Shut it, shepherd! I swear to God
I'll shoot you dead if you don't.
(manic, bitter laugh)
Sarge--Zoe-- Why you listening to
this bible-thumper?

ZOE
We've seen the man fight, Trace. Seen
him think. And we trust him on both
counts.

TRACEY
Yeah, well, that's just plum
stupid -- but then you two were
always lookin' for someone to spend
your trust on ... Didn't exactly get
your war won, did it?

He turns to Mal, whose hands are slightly raised, eyes boring back at Tracey. ANOTHER BOOM.

MAL
Wash. Call the cops.

Wash's eyebrows raise; he points gingerly at Tracey's gun.

WASH
Um--

TRACEY
I'll kill him, Wash. I'll put a hole
right through him.

MAL
You mailed your ugly business to Zoe
and me, Tracey, cash-on-delivery.
I'll go to Hell before I watch you
turn and bite us for the favor --

ANOTHER BOOM, even closer. Ice, clatter, scary.

MAL (cont'd)
Wash. You call them up. Tell them
we'll meet 'em topside.

TRACEY
No--

MAL
Do it.

Wash does that funny-under-pressure nod of his, turns to the radio, reaches for the switch--

TRACEY
NO!

Tracey swings his gun off Mal and fires a SHOT at the radio console. He misses, and it RICOCHETS off the railing above it, grazing across Wash's temple, throwing his head back.

Tracey stands, mouth open. He looks down, and the camera tilts down, to his chest, where a BIG RED HOLE gapes. He looks up at Zoe, who holds her gun on him.

TRACEY (cont'd)
You sh-- You shot me...

Zoe cocks her gun, sending the spent shell flying.

ZOE
Damn right I did.

ANOTHER BOOM. A little dazed, but still standing, Tracey backs out of the bridge. Zoe covers him as she calls to Wash.

ZOE (cont'd)
Wash--? Sweetie--?

Wash dabs a finger at the bullet graze.

WASH
Ow?

INT. SERENITY - FOREDECK - CONTINUING

Tracey backs down the stairs into the foredeck, gun covering the door to the bridge.

ANOTHER DEPTH CHARGE shakes the ship.

Kaylee races into the foredeck from behind him, not seeing his gun.

KAYLEE
Tracey! What Happened!? I heard--

MAL (O.S.)
Kaylee! Get out of here!

Tracey turns on her, swings an arm around her, pulling her against him as a shield. Mal is at the bridge door, gun out.

TRACEY
Stay back!

He fires a wild shot toward the door, Mal ducks. Tracey herds Kaylee toward the exit to the cargo bay stairs--

INT. SERENITY - STAIRS/CARGO BAY

As Tracey pushes Kaylee down the stairs, her arm in his white- knuckled grip.

TRACEY
Kaylee, I'm sorry... I don't want to
scare you... I just--

She sees the blood pouring down his shirt front.

KAYLEE
Blood..!

TRACEY
They shot me. They want to turn me
in...

KAYLEE
You're lying -- they wouldn't --

ANOTHER BOOM.

TRACEY
Come on, Kaylee... You've got to fly
me out of here. We'll take a shuttle
and go--

They get to the catwalk, and he drags her toward shuttle II's airlock.

TRACEY (cont'd)
They want to sell me off... You won't
let 'em do it, will you? I mean, I
thought-- I thought we had a moment
back there--

Kaylee digs in her heels at the shuttle's entrance.

KAYLEE
Tracey--

TRACEY
Didn't we have a moment back there?

ANOTHER BOOM.

KAYLEE
(scared but firm)
Tracey, take that gun offa me...

TRACEY
Kaylee, please--

KAYLEE
I ain't goin' anywhere with you.

MAL
Nobody's going anywhere, private.

Mal walks down the stairs from above, gun trained on Tracey.

KAYLEE
Captain, what's happeni--

He pulls Kaylee back into shield position, gun now raised to her head. He's nothing but panic in a pair of pants now.

TRACEY
Don't make me do it.

ANOTHER BOOM. Mal gets to the catwalk, angry, but cool as cucumber slices. Zoe moves slowly down the stairs behind him.

MAL
Far as I can see, nobody's made you
do anything. You brought this onto
yourself. Got in over your head with
these stone cold gut-runners, then
you panicked, and then you brung the
whole mess down on all of us...

As he was speaking, we saw Jayne, easing himself onto the catwalk across the bay, gun in hand, quiet like a kitty.

TRACEY
That ain't how it happened--

MAL
Oh yes, that's how it happened. And
I'm startin' to think that trail of
bodies Womack was talkin' about, I'm
thinkin' some of that trail was left
by you... losin' your head, doin'
more or less what you're doin' right
now--

Mal looks up, around, then back to Tracey.

MAL (cont'd)
See there? Hear that quiet? Means the
call's already been made.

TRACEY
(breaking up)
You-- That call --
(sobs, gun at
Kaylee's head)
That call means you just murdered me.

Mal flicks his eyes towards Jayne, who responds by LOUDLY COCKING HIS GUN. Panicky-panic, Tracey spins, trying to see where the sound came from, as Kaylee wrenches free. Mal FIRES, hitting him in the chest, inches from the first wound.

MAL
You murdered yourself, son.
(as Tracey sags, eyes
wide)
I just carried the bullet for a while.

Tracey drops the gun, slumps to the catwalk floor. Zoe and Mal move briskly toward him, holstering.

WASH (O.S.)
Captain, they say we got two minutes
before they start shelling again--

MAL
Get us up there!

Kaylee heads off.

KAYLEE
I'll get the doctor.

Zoe and Mal look at Tracey, then at each other, eyes speaking: 'there's no way in hell he's gonna make it.'

EXT. PLANET - DAY

Serenity parked nose-to-nose in front of the cop ship, on a plain of glacial ice.

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY - DAY

The airlock doors slide open -- the blinding glare of sun on snow -- out of that, Womack and his two men emerge, walking up the ramp into the cargo bay, guns drawn.

Womack stops, confronted by Jayne, who stands in the middle of the bay, BIG GUN trained on Womack's head.

WOMACK
Well now... Somebody left their dog
off the leash...
(cold low growl)
I been shot too many times to be
scared by a gun, boy.

JAYNE
(keeping aim)
I hear you. Most ever'body I know's
been shot least once. S'no big thing.

A voice trails thin from above.

TRACEY
Womack...

Womack looks up, sees Tracey propped up against the catwalk railing, sees the BLOOD dripping down through the grates.

WOMACK
Smith? You squirrely little piece a'
go-se, that you?

TRACEY
(delirious chuckle)
I think I... I think I broke your
junk...

Mal appears over the railing, gun on the cops as well.

MAL
Little problem during shipping.

Simon is by Tracey up on the catwalk, but there's nothing he can do.

WOMACK
Don't think I need to tell you folk
the trouble you're in. Wetware
smugglin', resistin', fleeing an
officer a' the law... an' I'm sure a
search of your ship'll come up with
another few felonies.

Book walks out from behind some crates and stuff.

BOOK
You won't be searching the ship,
Womack.

WOMACK
That so?

BOOK
It is. You won't be taking us in. Nor
that boy who's dying up there. You're
going to turn around, and just fly
away.

WOMACK
You know, I'm authorized to kill as
I like, shepherds not withstandin'.

Book is so cool here it's making my hands sweaty.

BOOK
There's nine armed and dangerous
desperados on this ship. You count in
at three. Why is it you didn't call
in for back-up?
(Womack skips a beat)
There's a Fed station eighty miles
from where you're standing.
(walks closer)
You got your command stripes at the
Silverhold colonies. Puts you about
eight solar systems away from your
jurisdiction...

WOMACK
Listen here, preach--

BOOK
But that doesn't bother you. Whole
'verse is your jurisdiction.
Procedure is for stiffs.
(looks him over w/
disdain)
You're on the take, Womack, clearing
routes through your territory for all
manner of black market pirates.

WOMACK
What the hell kinda man of God--

BOOK
Took a little vacation time to chase
down this piece of change for an
extra commission, I'm guessing.

Womack raises his gun toward Book. The other two guys nervously follow suit. A GUN COCK echoes from above; Zoe's positioned a ways down the side catwalk, with a clean shot.

BOOK (cont'd)
Now as I said, we got guns on you you
don't even see. You took pains to
keep your presence here secret. I
don't imagine it'd bother anyone if
we laid your bodies to rest at the
bottom of one of these canyons.

The cops lower their guns.

BOOK (cont'd)
Yessir. I'm fair sure we could make
you disappear. You done most of that
work for us already.

Womack looks up at the dying Tracey, at the various guns trained on him, crunching the numbers. Finally, he spits on the ground.

WOMACK
Damaged goods, anyhow.
(to his men)
Let's go, boys.

They start backing out of the bay. Jayne and Book slowly follow them, Jayne still aimed rock solid on Womack's face. As they get past the open airlock doors:

WOMACK (cont'd)
Hat makes you look like an idiot.

This, oddly, hits Jayne. He frowns with affront. Book hits the airlock button and the doors SLIDE SHUT.

JAYNE
Either you spent a lotta time
fightin' bad cops... or bein' one.

BOOK
Maybe both.

Up on the catwalk, Tracey's life ebbs fast. He looks up to Mal as Zoe enters frame, crouching by him.

TRACEY
So.. .That was the plan?
(Mal nods)
That--
(coughs)
That was a good plan.

MAL
I think so.

TRACEY
Weird preacher, though...
(coughs again)
I'm feelin'... kinda stupid right
about now.

MAL
(tender)
Only cause you are.

He looks to Kaylee, then to all gathered there.

TRACEY
Kaylee. I'm sorry... Every--
Everyone... Wasn't never no good at
life, anyhow... Couldn't seem to make
sense of it... Always running
scared...

Zoe brushes his hair from his face gently.

TRACEY (cont'd)
(sad little laugh)
'When you can't run anymore, you
crawl... and when you can't do that--'

Coughs again, this time a trickle of blood falls from his lips.

ZOE
'You find someone... to carry you.'

Tracey nods, his eyes fluttering, dying.

TRACEY
Guess I did, at that...

Head slumps. Dead. Sad.

EXT. SNOWY HOMESTEAD - DAY

Tracey's body is carried down ramp by Mal and Zoe, others in attendance. Before them is a homestead, a large EXTENDED FAMILY stands there awaiting their dead son.

As they hand the body over:

TRACEY (V.O.)
It's funny. We went to war never
looking to come back, but it's the
real world I couldn't survive. You
two carried me through that war. Now
I need you to carry me just a little
bit further. If you can...

END OF EPISODE