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Episode Two: Secrets

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INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT – A very large and lavish bed in a room with a Moroccan/Turkish kind of byzantine opulence. INARA in bed with NEEL, the poetical potential client from the last episode. He is an attractive, fit 40, with salt-and-pepper hair. They are in the throes of passion, INARA on top, NEEL is sitting up. It's a very Kama Sutra looking scene.

NEEL: Oh – my darling – my goddess...

INARA: Yes – yes – ohh –

Their bodies shudder, both flush with a peaceful tantric ecstasy, clinging to each other.

INT. SAME – LATER – INARA and NEEL are in robes, lounging on cushions.

NEEL: I find all women beautiful, but you, bao bei, are a phoenix among swans.

INARA: Neel, you are too kind.

NEEL: I could lay all my treasures at your feet and still, I could not be too kind to you, Inara. Your beauty should be worshiped.

INARA: Some would say that so transient a thing as beauty is a false idol.

NEEL: Beauty is not ephemeral. It is in attendance always, but alights like a butterfly in constantly changing places – the body of a woman, a sunrise, a poem, the eye of mother when she looks at her child.

INARA: True beauty enriches the spirit and opens our hearts to love.

NEEL: You understand me as no one does. I am beginning to think we are soul mates.

Smiling, he turns his back to her, reaches for a bottle on a nearby table.

CAMERA ON: INARA, who glances away with a pensive look that says NEEL's probably not her soul mate.

CLOSE on the expensive bottle from which NEEL pours some wonderful elixir into an elaborate cup.

CUT TO: EXT. MARKETPLACE – NIGHT – And something questionable being sloshed into a dirty clay bowl.

MAL picks up the bowl and takes a drink. Makes his eyes water, but he can handle it. He's standing with ZOE and JAYNE at a makeshift stall, a kind of outdoor diner/bar wedged between other stalls of varying degrees of commercial viability. The market is a fairly bustling flea market sort of place.

MAL (throat still burning): You gotta try this.

ZOE: For drinking or gun cleaning?

JAYNE gestures eagerly to the bartender, who starts pouring him a bowl. We PULL BACK and see KAYLEE and NOLA a few stalls away, looking at some kind of handmade metal pinwheels and wind whirlies.


(For those who haven't read episode 1 "A Dream Come True," NOLA is NOLA BYRNE. About 30 years old, short cropped hair, earthy but not unattractive, though her steel-toed boots and the large pistol strapped to her leg discourage advances from anyone who happens to find her type more appealing than KAYLEE's girl-next-door beauty or INARA's elegant allure. Nola's decked out in a tight t-shirt, a vest with several pockets, cargo pants and a belt with ammo, etc. She's got a bit of Irish about her, in the way Badger is British.)

NOLA: The girl's a little unusual, isn't she?

KAYLEE (choosing words carefully): Some people kind of hurt her.

NOLA: Which would explain the schizophrenia, but what about the kung fu and mind-reading?

KAYLEE (uncomfortable): It's a long story.

NOLA: I'm not going anywhere.

KAYLEE: You not planning to stay planetside?

NOLA (shrugs): No. I've got no reason to stay and I've got the cash to fly a little longer. I'm sure that counts for something.

KAYLEE: I'd like you to stay on Serenity.

NOLA: Done. Thank you, Kaylee.

KAYLEE smiles, and then picks up one of the strange little sculptures to examine it.

KAYLEE: This one sort of looks like a catalyzer.

NOLA picks up a small pinwheel made out of a Blue Sun can. She blows on it and it spins.

NOLA: Shiny. (to SHOPKEEPER) Duo shao qian? (How much?)


KAYLEE and NOLA move away from the booth, heading toward MAL, ZOE and JAYNE. NOLA's pinwheel is spinning as she walks.

KAYLEE: Nola, what do you do – y'know, for money?

NOLA: Nothing, at the moment.

KAYLEE: But, what did you do before –

KAYLEE is interrupted by a crashing noise.

CAMERA ON: Two 20-something men, TRENT and HALL, are throwing around BOB, a 60-ish male with well-trimmed beard and mustache, looking suspiciously clean under his shabby coat, trousers and flannel shirt.

A third man, GARRON, about 30, watches as BOB falls against a barrel, knocks it over.

GARRON: Where is it, Bob?

BOB: You've got the wrong person.

GARRON: No, that's the wrong answer.

TRENT and HALL pick BOB up and smack him around, which inches them closer to the stall where MAL, ZOE and JAYNE are standing. We see KAYLEE and NOLA in the background.

TRENT: Give us the map.

BOB (weakly): The what?

GARRON: Check his pockets.

TRENT starts riffling through BOB's pockets.

BOB (pitiful): Stop! Get off of me! Somebody, help me! Please!

ANGLE ON: A pair of dusty black steel-toed boots appearing next to BOB where he's sprawled on the ground.

ANGLE UP: And we see that it's –

NOLA: Is it geezer-beatin' season, already?

GARRON squares off with NOLA – they are about 10 feet apart, BOB and TRENT between them. We might or might not notice that NOLA has some kind of little gadget over one ear. It looks like one arm of a pair of futuristic glasses that hooks around behind her ear.

GARRON: Bug off.

TRENT finds something like a flash drive on BOB, holds it up to GARRON.

TRENT: Here it is!

BOB (moaning): Nooo... please...

BOB makes a pitiful swipe for the thing, which GARRON pops into his handheld device and smiles, showing the small display screen to TRENT and HALL.

NOLA: C'mon, lads, give it back before there's trouble.

GARRON: Only trouble is yours, you don't mind your own business.

GARRON takes a threatening step toward NOLA, but then someone else steps in –

MAL: You gonna add hitting a lady to your list of Really Bad Things to Do Today?

GARRON slips his device, with BOB's flash drive, into his coat pocket.

GARRON: We got what we came for. Thanks, Bob.

BOB lunges at them, clutches HALL around the legs.

BOB: You'll never find it, you sorry joo fuen chse ! (pool of pig droppings)

GARRON draws and shoots BOB point blank in the chest – BAM! – as MAL and crew leap back and draw their own guns, those who have them, but GARRON, TRENT and HALL disappear quickly into the onlookers.

CUT TO: BOB on the ground, bleeding heavily. NOLA and MAL kneel beside him. KAYLEE rushes forward, holding NORA's pinwheel, a look of sad horror on her face.

KAYLEE: Is he dead?

MAL: I'm fairly certain.

NOLA: Poor bastard.

Suddenly BOB gurgles and grabs MAL's arm.

MAL: Hey!

BOB: They can't – find it –

MAL: Alright, you just let go of my arm, now.

BOB: No! You must find it. You – helped – me –

MAL: You need help, alright, old man, but we ain't the ones can do it. The right folks'll be along shortly.

MAL looks cautiously around. JAYNE appears over his shoulder.

JAYNE: Don't need to be here when the feds come.

BOB (almost a whisper): The key –

NOLA: What?

BOB turns his head to NOLA, gestures feebly to his breast pocket.

BOB: Take it. The treasure –

JAYNE: He say “treasure”? What treasure?

NOLA reaches into the man's blood-soaked front breast pocket and pulls out an unidentifiable piece of metal. She quickly slips it into one of her pockets.

BOB says desperately to MAL –

BOB: Find the red lady. 15 – 83 – 26 –

BOB dies. His hand falls off of MAL's arm.

ZOE's POV: In the distance, we see a group of armed Alliance goons making their way through the market.

ZOE: Time to go.

ZOE, MAL, JAYNE, NOLA and KAYLEE beat a hasty exit.


Ba da da-da da dum... Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand, I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me...


INT. SERENITY CARGO BAY – DAY – JAYNE and SIMON are on the weight bench. KAYLEE and RIVER play cat's cradle nearby.

JAYNE: You need to add some weight to that bar, Doc.

SIMON lays back on the bench press.

SIMON: We can't all be built like a yeti.

JAYNE brings over two 10-pound weights.

JAYNE: Here. I'll spot ya.

OFF SIMON's look of protest –

CAMERA ON: MAL and ZOE enter down the stairs from the fore corridor.

ZOE: So what is it?

MAL: He didn't rightly say.

ZOE: And we don't know who he is.

MAL: Didn't check his pockets for an ident. The law was coming.

MAL and ZOE stand near the others.

ZOE: But he told you to find someone.

KAYLEE: A red lady.

JAYNE: He said "treasure."

NOLA enters from the common area, carrying her “futuristic laptop” from the previous episode. It's a portable Cortex console with a touchpad keyboard and a display.

NOLA sets it down on one of the silver crates, also from the previous episode but now mostly stacked up along the sides of the cargo bay.

MAL: Kaylee, Nola, either of you see a woman nearby, anyone wearing red?

KAYLEE: She might have run off.

NOLA: Let's see.

NOLA taps the touchpad and suddenly the previous events start playing out on the screen – this time strictly from NOLA's perspective.

JAYNE comes over to get a closer look. Just behind him, we see SIMON struggling with the weight bar.

SIMON (desperate grunt): Jayne – !

JAYNE reaches over and takes the weight bar from SIMON with one hand, replaces it. SIMON sits up, breathing heavily, pissy glance at JAYNE.

JAYNE (to MAL): Gorrammit! We got picked up on a security feed. Oughta be heading out of here now, Mal.

NOLA (to JAYNE): Don't get your skivvies in a twist, fong gou (mad dog). This is my feed, not security.

JAYNE: I ain't wearin' skivvies.

Horrific beat as the crew tries to put THAT thought out of their minds. MAL presses on.

MAL (to NOLA): How did you pull that off?

NOLA: With this.

NOLA holds up the funky earpiece she was wearing earlier, then demonstrates by hooking it behind her ear.

MAL (hint of suspicion): Handy.

CAMERA ON: The capture is still playing on the console screen, no sound. MAL, ZOE, KAYLEE and NOLA are watching. JAYNE looms behind them.

In the background, SIMON gets up and starts taking the weights back off.

KAYLEE: Don't see no one wearing red.

JAYNE: And even if we did, how're we supposed to find 'em again?

ZOE: Go back to the market, ask around.

We may or may not notice that RIVER glances at the airlock while everyone else is talking, then she exits the cargo bay.

MAL: Or just forget it all happened and go on our merry. Let the feds handle it.

JAYNE: And let them have all the loot?

MAL: No assurance we'll find anything, even if we knew where to look.

There's a CLANGING knock at the airlock door. MAL and ZOE exchange a look, head to the door.

INT. SERENITY AIRLOCK – CONTINUOUS – MAL looks out the small window in the center of the door.

MAL: Speakin' of feds.

SIMON exits warily to the common area.

ZOE: I'll get the registration.

MAL: Use the real one.

ZOE: Sir?

MAL nods. ZOE goes to pull something out of a nearby cubby hole, while MAL pulls open the smaller door.

MAL (affably): Mornin', gentlemen, ma'am.

MAL steps back to allow TWO MALE FEDS and ONE FEMALE FED to enter the cargo bay.

One of the feds, CULPEPPER, 40-ish, holds up his lawman's futuristic ident card.

CULPEPPER: Good morning, Mr. Reynolds. I'm Federal Marshal James Culpepper, this is agent Fresco and agent Yang. Do you mind if we ask you some questions?

MAL (yes): Not at all.

FRESCO and YANG stand on either side of CULPEPPER, giving the stinkeye.

CULPEPPER: Were you in the Orchard Row Market last night?

MAL: I'm thinking you already know the answer to that.

CULPEPPER: Yes or no, Mr. Reynolds?

MAL: Yes.

NOLA approaches MAL, ZOE and the FEDS.

CULPEPPER: And did you witness the murder of this man?

CULPEPPER holds up a small handheld device displaying a picture of BOB. Looks like an enlarged ID picture, with all the usual washed-out, bug-eyed blandness.

MAL: Looks summat like the man I saw. Might be his brother. Or a distant cousin.


CULPEPPER tilts the display toward NOLA so she can see it.

NOLA: That's him. "Bob," was it?

CULPEPPER: His name was Robert Wayne Hastings. We're still looking for the men who assaulted and killed him. Mr. Reynolds, we identified you, your crew, and Ms. Byrne, from the security feed and traced you back to this ship.

MAL: Why? I didn't kill him. Not me nor none of mine.

CULPEPPER: But you're a witness. Did the victim say anything to you?

MAL: Besides gasping his last breath?

CULPEPPER: Did he give you anything?

NOLA: No. He asked for help, then he croaked. A bad business, the whole thing.

CULPEPPER: More than you know.

NOLA: That so?

CULPEPPER (businesslike): Ms. Byrne, I cannot provide you any additional information while this investigation is ongoing.

NOLA: Then stop teasing me, marshal. You know it's against Section V Article II of the Alliance Communication Compliance Code to withhold public information –

CULPEPPER (cuts her off): And as soon as I have public information to share with you, I'll send you a wave. I assume you'll be pursuing this?

NOLA (sanctimoniously): I will. It is, after all, my duty to all free people of the 'verse.

CULPEPPER: May I ask that you contact me, if you obtain any additional information which might be pertinent to this investigation?

NOLA (sarcastic): Yeah, yeah, I know how it works. I scratch your back, you stab mine. Gimme your badge code.

NOLA pulls what looks kinda like a laser pointer from one of her vest pockets.

CULPEPPER holds up his lawman ident again, and she swipes the laser pointer across a barcode-type thing at the bottom.

MAL is watching all this with a furrowed brow.

CULPEPPER: Thank you for your time, Mr. Reynolds. Ms. Byrne.

The FEDS exit. MAL shuts the door behind them.

MAL (loudly): Always happy to help – (to himself) put my boot in your backend.

ZOE: They didn't even ask for our registration.

MAL turns to NOLA.

MAL: No, but I've got a few things I'm gonna ask.

OFF NOLA's inscrutable face: CUT TO –

INT. SERENITY DINING ROOM – MAL, RIVER, KAYLEE, SIMON, NOLA and ZOE are sitting around the table, in that order, clockwise, with MAL standing at one end and KAYLEE sitting at the other. JAYNE comes over from the kitchen to sit down between MAL and RIVER as MAL is talking.

MAL: What's your story, Nola? The gadgets, the feds, article – somesuch – section – ?

NOLA: Section V Article II. I'm a registered co–

JAYNE: Companion?

ZOE: Easy, Jayne.

NOLA: Do I look like the kind of woman a man would pay a king's ransom to diddle all day?

JAYNE (definitely): Maybe.

NOLA: I'm a cortex correspondent.

JAYNE: Corra-what?

MAL (not happy): So, you work for the Alliance.

NOLA (indignant): I'm registered with the Press Guild. I'm a reporter, Mal, not a propagandist.

KAYLEE (smiling mischievously): Jayne just wishes you was a urologist.

SIMON laughs.

JAYNE gives KAYLEE a dirty look.

JAYNE: Har har.

SIMON is examining NOLA's portable Cortex console.

SIMON: This has a two-way connection?

NOLA: Or I can broadwave with my signal amplifier.

JAYNE: Where the hell were you a couple months ago?

NOLA: Stuck on that rat turd of a planet where you picked me up. Why?

MAL: No reason. What can you tell us about Bob?

NOLA reaches for the console and types, then spins it around to show to MAL.

CAMERA ON: NOLA'S DISPLAY showing a picture of BOB dressed in the fancy psuedo-Victorian suits worn in the core. The crew examines the photo as they talk.

NOLA: Robert Wayne Hastings is one of the of the curators of the Londinum Museum.

SIMON: The museum that houses the greatest art collections and priceless artifacts from Earth-That-Was.

NOLA: Ding ding. Shiny prize for the doctor.

KAYLEE (re: BOB): He weren't so fancy when we saw him.

JAYNE: Yeah, was lookin' more deader.

ZOE: What were the numbers?

NOLA: 15, 83, 26.

ZOE: A combination?

MAL: Might be a string of code, but he died before he could finish.

RIVER: The Wu Quadrant.

SIMON: What, River?

RIVER: The coordinate system projects a global geographic plane onto the celestial sphere to map the location of planetary systems relative to the world of origin.

RIVER looks around the table at blank faces.

RIVER (cont'd): It's not code. It's coordinates.



INT. SERENITY BRIDGE – DAY – Outside the window is the spaceport of Santo. We see a few ships flying by, maybe a few buildings.

RIVER is sitting in the pilot's seat, bringing up a star map on the viewing screen.

MAL is looking over her right shoulder. ZOE is leaning on the console to RIVER's left, KAYLEE and SIMON are back over her left shoulder. NOLA is in the co-pilot's seat, her own Cortex console beside her.

RIVER: These numbers define the Wu Quadrant.

RIVER continues to type on the keyboard and views of various planets and moons dance about.

JAYNE enters, drinking from a coffee cup.

JAYNE: So, what's there?

MAL: Jiangyin, Greenleaf, Ita.

ZOE: Ita is a red rock.

JAYNE: But it's a moon, not a woman.

NOLA: Ita is a woman – an Irish saint, patron of Limerick, back on Earth-That-Was.

MAL: And a Core museum curator with an excess of learning would know that.

JAYNE (re: NOLA): And how'd she know it?

SIMON: An “excess of learning.” It's not like they hand two-way source feeds to just anyone.

NOLA: Nah, Doc, I got mine in a box of wasabi crackers.

ZOE: A curator'd have access to some valuable goods. Might have stashed a few for retirement.

KAYLEE: Like, some old pots and such?

ZOE: Like the Lassiter.

KAYLEE: Oh! That laser gun we s-s-(stole) saw on Bellerophon.

ZOE: What if we get there, and there's nothing?

JAYNE: I'm up for going.

ZOE: But if those men get there first...

NOLA: They won't get far without the key.

NOLA holds up the object she fished out of BOB's pocket.

MAL: How do you know it's a key?

NOLA turns to her Cortex console and slides her finger along the bottom of the screen. Images flash by and she stops at JAYNE's face looming comically.

JAYNE (On the console): Don't need to be here when the feds come.

POV: NOLA (as shown on the console) whips down to look at BOB –

BOB: The key –

NOLA taps the screen and it freezes.

MAL: Does sound like he said “key."

ZOE: How would it work?

KAYLEE reaches out, NOLA hands her the key.

KAYLEE (examining): See, here, these are encoded receptors. If they match up with the right transmitters, this little twidget could emit a pulse beacon, unlock something, relay a signal, just about anything. Don't know for sure without getting inside it.

MAL: Would getting inside it mean breaking it?

KAYLEE: Yeppers.

KAYLEE hands it back to NOLA.

SIMON: I don't know. Isn't this kind of a stretch? Why didn't he just say, “The treasure's on Ita moon”? Why be cryptic?

NOLA: He's eccentric, and, y'know, dying?

RIVER: Iron Canyon.

NOLA (puzzled): What's that?

RIVER: Here.

The screen RIVER's been playing at throughout the conversation now displays the red topography of Ita moon. She points.

MAL: How do you know that's the place?

RIVER: It's the map.

SIMON: Yes, River, we see the map. How do you know it's hidden there?

RIVER: Don't be a dumb bunny.

RIVER gets up and goes over to NOLA's Cortex console. She slides her finger across the touchscreen. Images whip by again, then she stops on one frame where the blue screen of GARRON's handheld device, with BOB's computer chip in it, is fully visible to NOLA's camera.

RIVER taps the display and the image enlarges. She points.

The blue image on NOLA's screen and the red image on RIVER's console look like maps of the same thing. Only, on the blue one in GARRON's hand, there's a dot.

RIVER: X marks the spot.


CUT TO: INT. – BRIDGE – GARRON'S SHIP – The same image on another cortex console. Pull back to reveal TRENT and GARRON.

TRENT: Found it.

GARRON: Took long enough.

TRENT: That wily old man didn't label his gorram map. Now we know where it is, we fly in, dig it up, then take a nice long vacation on Newhall. I'm gonna buy me a sailboat.

GARRON: Don't start boiling your water before we've got rice. Still a whole lot of wrong could go between us and that stash.

TRENT: Let's get going, then.


JAYNE: We're gorram goin'. Mal?

Everyone is leaning in to look at NOLA's console. ZOE intrigued. JAYNE greedy. SIMON wonderingly. NOLA appreciatively. MAL calculating. KAYLEE squinting.

MAL: Could be powerful lucrative. Not a thing to be passing up.

ZOE: I'll get Serenity prepped to leave, Sir.

ZOE sits down in the pilot's seat.

KAYLEE: I'll check the engine, make sure she's running at top speed.

KAYLEE exits.

SIMON: I'll prepare the infirmary for the usual gunshot wounds, stabbings, and possibly electric shocks. Maybe for fun, one of you can just get a sunburn or a cold?

SIMON exits.

NOLA gets up, collects her cortex.

NOLA (to JAYNE): Looks like you're getting your treasure hunt.

NOLA socks JAYNE in the arm as she exits. He watches her go down the corridor.

JAYNE: I don't trust that woman.

ZOE: I thought you liked her.

JAYNE: Parts of her.

RIVER turns around, smiling like a little girl.

RIVER: Inara's home.

The bridge control panel starts beeping.

INARA (on comm): Serenity, this is shuttle two. Prepare for docking.

ZOE (on comm): Shuttle two, this is Serenity. Welcome home.

CUT TO: INT. BRIDGE – INARA'S SHUTTLE – We see INARA sitting in the pilot's seat. She's out of her robe from the evening previous and in her usual elegant attire.

INARA: Nice to be back. Did I miss anything?

ZOE (on comm): The usual.

INARA: I assume that means fugitives, firearms and thievery? Shuttle docking in five. Four. Three.


CUT TO: INT. BRIDGE – SERENITY – ZOE pushes some buttons.

ZOE (on comm): You're locked down.

MAL: I'm going to go talk to Inara. You head us out as soon as Serenity's ready.

ZOE: She's ready now, sir.

MAL: Then let's skidaddle. Don't particularly feel like waiting around here for the feds to decide they want another chat.

ZOE: Understood.

MAL exits as ZOE turns back to the controls.


CUT TO: INT. SERENITY – INFIRMARY – KAYLEE is sitting on the counter. SIMON is fiddling with medical supplies.

KAYLEE: I'm just saying it's kinda small, that's all.

SIMON (perturbed): Kaylee, I can't change the size. Believe me, I would if I could.

KAYLEE: I know. They're all small on Serenity.

KAYLEE hops down off the counter.

SIMON: What did Wash and Zoe do?

KAYLEE: They went and got a big one.

SIMON: Maybe we could ask her – ?

KAYLEE: I ain't gonna ask Zoe to give us the bed she and Wash slept in!

SIMON turns around to look at KAYLEE as her sad silence fills the infirmary.

SIMON: Kaylee.

KAYLEE: I don't know how Zoe goes on, y'know?

SIMON's eyes fall shut in – what? frustration, anguish? A pained look on his face.

SIMON: Bao bei. I wish there was some way I could change what happened.

SIMON brushes her hair away from her face.

KAYLEE: You know, when they got married, they didn't even tell the captain, jus' went planetside one minute and came back hitched the next. They were so happy. Jus' knew they were meant to be together, never let nothing be in their way –

SIMON (agitated): Kaylee, I can't bring Wash back. Don't you think that I wish everyday that I could have – could have saved him?

He steps back from her, trying to contain his frustration.

KAYLEE: I ain't sayin' – You know Zoe don't blame you and River. Simon, there was nothing you coulda done. There's no operating on someone who's been – hurt – like that.

SIMON: I'm supposed to heal people, not hurt them.

KAYLEE: You didn't hurt Wash, that was Reavers.

SIMON: Wash – Shepherd Book – and I don't know how many others, on Haven, Beaumonde, Whitefall, and where else? If I'd never brought River here – if I hadn't let the captain bring her back to Serenity after we left –

KAYLEE: You and River'd be dead! Or worse!

SIMON: Worse, Kaylee? This IS worse.

KAYLEE: What are you saying?

SIMON shakes his head.

SIMON: Nothing.

KAYLEE: Simon, they were hurting River. You saved her.

SIMON: And how many more people have to die because I saved my sister?

SIMON looks at her with a strained expression.

KAYLEE puts her arms around him.

KAYLEE (soothingly): You did the right thing. You did... It's not your fault, what happened...

CUT TO: EXT. SERENITY – NIGHT – Glowing along through space.

INT. BRIDGE – SERENITY – NIGHT – LATER – ZOE is in the pilot's seat. RIVER is in the co-pilot's seat. They're wearing different clothes than previously, indicating time has passed. Through the window, we can see a red planet coming closer.

MAL enters.

ZOE: We're about 10 minutes from atmo.

MAL (to ZOE): Scan for ships or people?

RIVER: Red lady's face is empty. Folks are on her backside.

MAL (deadpan): I know just how she feels.

ZOE (checking control panel): All clear, captain. Man picked a quiet location to stash his goods.

MAL: Alright, set her down as close we can get, then we'll take the shuttle the rest of the way. That canyon's tighter than a bull's backend during fly season.

ZOE: Sir?

MAL is fitting an earpiece, kinda like a chrome hearing aid, into his ear. Hands a second one to ZOE.

MAL: I want you on the rim of that canyon, stay on the comm-link and keep watch, just in case.

MAL picks up the ship's comm.

MAL (cont'd, on comm): Jayne, Kaylee, Nola – meet me in the shuttle. (off comm) River, once we land, you just – keep an eye out for... well, I reckon you know what for.

RIVER (sweetly): Aye, aye, captain.

MAL exits. ZOE follows him.

INT: FORE CORRIDOR – SERENITY – CONTINUOUS – They talk as they walk.

MAL: Shouldn't you be flying this thing?

ZOE: River's got it.

MAL: And who's got River?

ZOE: I let her do the landing on Santo, and you didn't even notice.

MAL: I know she's a fair decent pilot, but this is my ship. Not to mention my body on it. Don't need her suddenly getting whimsical in the brainpan as we hit atmo.

INT. STAIRS DOWN TO THE CARGO BAY – CONTINUOUS – MAL and ZOE continue talking as they descend.

ZOE: She hasn't spit peas at us or had a conversation with the spacesuits in over a month.

RIVER's voice suddenly fills the corridor.

RIVER (on comm): You worry too much, captain.

MAL (playfully grumpy): Do not! (to himself) I worry just enough.

INT. CARGO BAY – SERENITY – CONTINUOUS – MAL and ZOE emerge onto the catwalk and head for the other shuttle.

ZOE: You're takin' Nola on the job, too? Do we trust her?

MAL: Do we trust Jayne? We take him along all the time.

ZOE: Point taken, sir.

MAL: 'Sides, the woman's a mite handy with a sidearm, and I don't feel like wrestling that key from her, or letting Jayne wrestle it from her, so I reckon we'll take her along.

JAYNE enters the catwalk from the other direction, carrying VERA.

ZOE: I could wrestle the key from her.

JAYNE: I'd pay to watch that.

ZOE (playfully threatening): Not if your eyes are missing.

ANGLE DOWN ON: NOLA, SIMON and KAYLEE entering the cargo bay from the common area. NOLA starts up the catwalk stairs toward the shuttle. KAYLEE stops to give SIMON a good-bye kiss.

JAYNE: Guhn kwai! (Speed it up!)

MAL: Yeah, your treasure's getting cold!

KAYLEE heads up the stairs to the shuttle.

KAYLEE (calls up to JAYNE): Bi jweh! Ri shao gou shi bing! (Shut up, you pile of sunbaked dog poo!)

NOLA passes JAYNE to enter the shuttle –

NOLA (re: VERA): Hey, is that a Callahan?

JAYNE answers with gusto as he follows her into the shuttle –

JAYNE: Fullbore autolock with a customized trigger. Six men came to kill me one time –

MAL (to ZOE, re: JAYNE): Great, now I gotta listen to this all the way down into the canyon.

ZOE: No rest for the wicked, sir.

CUT TO: EXT. ITA – DAY – Serenity landing on a surface of red dust and very sparse, scrubby plant life. We see the shuttle break away and head down into a canyon.

EXT. IRON CANYON – ITA – DAY – LATER -- The canyon walls rise red and jagged above the crew and the shuttle, which is sitting not far away.

JAYNE, MAL, ZOE, KAYLEE and NOLA are standing outside what looks like an extra large dumpster or old railway car. Basically just a giant metal box.

JAYNE: How do we get in?

MAL: Kaylee?

KAYLEE walks around the outside, examining.

KAYLEE: Jayne, help me pull off this panel.

JAYNE shoulders VERA and starts prying at the panel indicated by KAYLEE. Doesn't budge.

NOLA looks down at the key in her hand. She turns it around, and over, stands back and looks at the vault.

NOLA: You might want to stand back.

JAYNE: Whyfore?

NOLA: This might open it, or it might blow us up.

OFF JAYNE's disturbed look –

NOLA squeezes the key and the panel slides open, revealing some complex circuitry, a few flashing lights.

MAL: No explosions.


KAYLEE: Now we find the keyhole.

KAYLEE examines the circuitry, then gestures for NOLA to plug the key into some part of it.

KAYLEE: Try putting it in here.

NOLA (laughs): Ah, isn't that what I'm telling the lads all the time?

A seam appears in the side of the vault, and two doors slide apart, revealing a dark interior.

MAL heads toward the opening, followed by the others.

MAL: Let's see what Bob's been up to.



EXT. IRON CANYON – ITA – DAY – MAL, JAYNE, KAYLEE and NOLA standing just outside the vault.

JAYNE: Think it might be booby-trapped?

MAL: That's why you're going in first.

JAYNE, NOLA, KAYLEE and MAL turn on some luminescent futuristic flashlights and head into the vault (in that order).

INT. VAULT – CONTINUOUS – Walls look about the same on the inside as the outside. Motion-sensitive lights flicker on around the edges of the vault as the group enters, revealing an amazing array of ...

... BOXES.

MAL holsters his gun and opens the nearest one, as JAYNE looks around the vault in awe.

JAYNE: Could be anything in here. Jewels, platinum –

MAL: Gold.

JAYNE: Quit funnin' me.

MAL hefts a smallish, solid GOLD statue of what looks like the Egyptian cat god Bast, about 6 inches tall.

MAL (serious): I'm not.

CAMERA ON: JAYNE who looks like he's gonna pass out. He staggers toward MAL and grabs a stack of boxes for balance, staring at the statue in MAL's hand.

OFF: The statue –

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY BRIDGE – DAY -- RIVER is here. She is sitting in the pilot's seat, staring at the way the light is refracted, as if through a prism, when it hits one of the buttons on the control panel. She's is cupping her hand near it, catching the rainbow on her palm.

Then she sits up, as if suddenly aware of something, and we realize that SIMON is here, too.

SIMON: What's wrong?

RIVER: They caught up with us.

ANGLE ON: The vid screen reads “INCOMING MESSAGE.” A light is blinking somewhere.

SIMON: No, River, don't answer it. They –

RIVER: I know. I'm still not safe.

SIMON: Maybe you should radio the captain.

RIVER (ominous): Can't. They're listening.

SIMON: I'll go get Zoe.

SIMON exits, quickly.

CUT TO: INT. VAULT – KAYLEE and NOLA come over to look. JAYNE grabs the statue from MAL as KAYLEE pulls out another Egyptian-looking statue from the crate.

KAYLEE: What are they?

NOLA pulls one out, too.

NOLA: Earth-That-Was artifacts. Probably thousands of years old.

KAYLEE: (re: crates): What do you think's in the rest of 'em?

MAL: Don't know, don't matter. We'll open them all when we're back on Serenity.

JAYNE suddenly whoops in maniacal joy, which echoes around the vault and causes everyone else to flinch.

JAYNE: Well don't just stand there!

JAYNE tosses VERA over his shoulder, starts hauling the crates out post-haste, the cat still in his hand.

CUT TO: EXT. CANYON RIM – ZOE is here, we see SIMON exiting back to the ship in the distance as she calls MAL on her earpiece.

ZOE: We're not alone.

MAL (on commlink): Get back on Serenity and --

We hear Serenity's engines firing up. ZOE looks back and the ship is lifting off.

ZOE: Oh, River. (to MAL) Uh – can't do that. Heading down to you.

ZOE begins making her way into the canyon.

CUT TO: EXT. ITA – OUTSIDE THE VAULT – MAL is standing in between the shuttle and the vault, with his gun drawn. JAYNE is using a dolly to load up the shuttle, KAYLEE and NOLA are helping him.

MAL (to himself): Yangwei too zai zi ! (Impotent son of a rabbit!) (yelling) Jayne! Looks like we might have trouble. Hurry up and get those into the shuttle.

CUT TO: EXT. ITA – SIDE OF THE CANYON – ZOE making her way down. She's halfway when –

WHOOSH. A small craft whips out from behind a curve in the canyon wall and zooms past her.

CAMERA ON: ZOE as she watches it slip by –

ZOE (on comm to MAL): Another shuttle heading your way!


MAL (on comm): I see it.

JAYNE, NOLA and KAYLEE have stopped loading and watch the other shuttle approach. NOLA's got her camera on her ear, and her hand on her gun. JAYNE's cradling VERA.

JAYNE: They ain't feds.

MAL: Might be local lawmen, picked up our pulse beacon, come to check us out.

NOLA: There aren't any settlements around here, Mal.

MAL: Kaylee, Nola, get on the shuttle. This goes south, you fly straight outta here.

KAYLEE: We can't just leave you.

MAL: Yes, you can.

KAYLEE gets on the shuttle. NOLA follows, but stands in the open hatch, watching.

The other shuttle sets down not far from our gang and its door opens. Out steps –

GARRON: Looks like the old man wasn't dead yet when I left him at your feet.

MAL: He had some parting words.

GARRON: And I suppose he told you not to let me have the stash.

MAL: Why would he say that?

GARRON (amiable): 'Cause he was a crazy old hoity toity coot. I used to work for him until I found out that he'd stolen these items from the museum and hidden them three years ago. He planned to return them, eventually, for the reward.

MAL: And you wanted him to cut you in on the scam.

GARRON: No! I wanted to fence the junk. It's worth a fortune. More than enough for all of us.

MAL: Well, that's mighty generous. Seeing as how I've already got it, though, I'm the one should be setting terms.

GARRON: Chwee ni duh! (Screw you!)

GARRON pulls his gun, and starts shooting. TRENT and HALL pop out from doorway of their shuttle and also start shooting.

MAL and JAYNE dodge behind some boxes stacked outside the vault and which hadn't been loaded onto their shuttle yet, and return fire as GARRON jumps behind a boulder.

GARRON (to: TRENT, HALL): Don't shoot the artifacts, you morons!

BAM! VERA drops TRENT, who falls in the doorway of his shuttle.

NOLA leans out of the crew's shuttle and shoots at HALL, she has a better angle on him than MAL and JAYNE. HALL stumbles forward. BAM! BAM! the guys finish him off.

GARRON is returning fire, when he suddenly keels over, shot by --

ZOE, who enters from the side of the canyon.

JAYNE, ZOE, KAYLEE and NOLA all come out of their respective positions and converge on MAL.

JAYNE: Gorram fools.

MAL looks up toward the top of the canyon.

MAL: Them, or us?

CUT TO: POV: MAL looking up from the canyon floor, we see an Alliance short-range enforcement vessel mounted with a very large, unmistakable exterior cannon, as it lands almost in the exact same spot where Serenity had been a little earlier.

ZOE: That's a federal marshal's gunship.

MAL: Quick, unload everything from the shuttle. Put it right here.

MAL points to the ground at his feet. They all rush to carry out orders.

CUT TO: EXT. IRON CANYON – LATER – POV: CULPEPPER as he walks down the middle of the canyon with the FEMALE FED, as the vault comes into view. All of the crates are stacked neatly in the middle of the dirt, MAL, ZOE, JAYNE, KAYLEE and NOLA standing around them.

CULPEPPER looks at the two shuttles, and dead GARRON, TRENT and HALL.

CULPEPPER: Mr. Reynolds. Looks like you found my suspects.

MAL: They found us, actually.

CULPEPPER: And what else have you found?

CULPEPPER opens one of the boxes, pulls out a Chinese vase that was packed in form-fitting foam.

MAL: Quite an interesting array of historical geegaws.

NOLA: Hastings had a stash of artifacts, taken from the museum.

CULPEPPER (to NOLA): And when were you going to notify me?

MAL (cuts in before NOLA can reply): Weren't sure about our information, wanted to check it out, first. No point dragging such a busy man as yourself on a wild goose chase.

CULPEPPER moves to the vault, looks inside.

CULPEPPER: But you were more than happy to chase the goose, yourself.

MAL: Well, the dead fella back there said something about a reward.

MAL follows CULPEPPER, who's stepped into the vault.

MAL stops short in his tracks, seeing that CULPEPPER has his gun drawn, pointing right at him.

CULPEPPER: I don't think so, Mr. Reynolds.

MAL raises his hands in the air.

MAL: Then I guess it's all yours. So, you go get your bounty on those stolen goods – and me and my people will go get back on our shuttle –

SHOTS are fired, which make MAL flinch, thinking it's CULPEPPER shooting him, but the shots are coming from the Alliance gunship, firing down into the canyon.

CUT TO: MAL lunges at CULPEPPER, knocks his gun aside and punches him in the face. Then MAL grabs him by the collar and chucks him outside, where he lands in the dirt and doesn't move.

CUT TO: JAYNE, ZOE, KAYLEE and NOLA running into the vault to avoid the gun fire.

INT. VAULT – Gun fire continues outside.

MAL: Can always trust the Alliance to be untrustworthy.

JAYNE: Vera can cover us while we make a dash for the shuttle.

ZOE: Which will get shot down by their missiles the minute we lift off.

NOLA: Could grab the marshal out there and use him as a hostage.

JAYNE: There's an idea.

CLANG! The doors to the vault suddenly start moving closed.

KAYLEE: The doors!

MAL leaps for the rapidly-narrowing space between the doors (he's closest) – but dodges back again as bullets ricochet around the opening, fired by the MALE FED and FEMALE FED.

The doors slam fast and furious, with a hollow clang. The "key" is still stuck in the panel outside.

CUT TO: INT. BRIDGE – SERENITY – RIVER, SIMON and INARA. We can see through the window that it is still sitting on the ground.

INARA: How long do we wait?

SIMON: River said until the feds are gone.

INARA: Do we know if it's an armed ship? Maybe if we –


RIVER convulses and grips the control panel, her face contorted.

SIMON: River! Mei mei!

INARA: River, honey?

RIVER seems to come to herself, somewhat, though she's still very shaken. She grabs SIMON's arm.

RIVER (to SIMON): Get your med kit.

CUT TO: EXT. OUTSIDE THE VAULT – CULPEPPER is back on his feet, bruised and bloody. The MALE FED drives up on a flatbed kind of all-terrain vehicle.

CULPEPPER (to FEMALE FED): Let's get this goh se loaded and get out of here.


MAL: The radio's not working.

ZOE: We are in a hermetically sealed vault, sir.

KAYLEE (desperate): Captain!

KAYLEE's bent over NOLA – who's bleeding from a gunshot wound to the thigh.

NOLA (through clenched teeth): Gan ni niang! (motherf***er!)

KAYLEE: I know. I been shot by a fed before, too.

ZOE starts applying pressure to the wound.


NOLA manages to pull a wad of bandages from one of her vest pockets.

ZOE: Handy.

JAYNE leans over them.

JAYNE: Is it bad?

NOLA: Yes, it's bad, you chōng wang ba dan. (stupid bastard)

MAL kneels beside ZOE, takes a look at NOLA.

MAL (concerned yet hopeful): Well, if you can still swear, you're not too hurt. But stop using up all our air to insult Jayne, no matter how fun it is.

KAYLEE: Don't think we gotta worry 'bout air, Captain. This vault has vents and temperature control. Gotta worry 'bout Nola.

MAL: Zoe?

ZOE: It's not terrible, but we need to get her back to the ship.

NOLA (vehemently yet painfully): Tah mah duh hwoon dahn! (Mother humping son of a bitch!)

MAL: Kaylee. You gotta look around, conjure some way to get us out.

KAYLEE: Yes, cap'n.

CUT TO: INT. – INARA'S SHUTTLE – SIMON enters with his med kit, RIVER is sitting on the bed, rocking, seems to be counting on her fingers. INARA is going to the cockpit –

RIVER: WAIT! Gotta wait –

CUT TO: EXT. IRON CANYON – CULPEPPER and FEDS load the last of the boxes on their mule and climb aboard to ride off.


SIMON (to RIVER): River?

RIVER: Wait – OK, now! Go, GO!

INARA goes to the cockpit and starts flipping switches –

CUT TO: EXT. SERENITY – CONTINUOUS – INARA's shuttle breaks away from the ship, which is sitting in the red dirt of Ita.

CUT TO: INT. VAULT – JAYNE's crouching down by NOLA's side. ZOE's on her other side.

JAYNE: Ain't you never been shot before?

NOLA (painful gasp): No. You?

JAYNE: All the gorram time. Even had a harpoon through m' leg, right here.

JAYNE points to his leg where the Reavers shot him. NOLA isn't looking, though, she's hurting bad.

ZOE: Hang on, Nola. Won't be long.

NOLA (murmuring): What I wouldn't give for a drop of whiskey.

JAYNE pulls out flask, unscrews the cap and hands it to her.

JAYNE: Doc Cobb's finest.

NOLA: My hero. (drinks, grimaces) That's shite. Thanks.

NOLA takes another swig before handing it back.

MAL: Any luck, Kaylee?

KAYLEE (clearly upset) Nothing, cap'n, nothing. There's not a wire or a panel or a knob or a button I can fiddle –

KAYLEE's interrupted by the doors clanging back open again. She leaps back with a startled yelp.

MAL (to KAYLEE): Get down, Kaylee!

ZOE, MAL and JAYNE all leap to their feet, whip out weapons and aim them at the growing space between the doors –

Where stands SIMON, who holds his arms up in surrender, one hand holding his doctor's bag. MAL, ZOE and JAYNE lower their weapons.

SIMON: I believe I have a patient?

He enters and kneels by NOLA's side.

INARA steps into the vault.

INARA (to MAL): A harmless little scavenger hunt, is that what you said? (beat as she looks around) So, where is this treasure?




EXT. IRON CANYON – OUTSIDE THE VAULT – MAL, INARA and RIVER are here. We see JAYNE and ZOE carrying a stretcher with NOLA on it, SIMON and KAYLEE helping them into the shuttle.

MAL (to RIVER): How's my ship?

RIVER: Safe.

MAL: Good.

INARA: And how much did you profit from this excursion?

MAL: We got one bitty box they missed. Let's take a gander.

MAL lifts the lid off the box. His brow furrows.

INARA: What is it?

MAL: I have no idea.

MAL hands the box to INARA.

INARA (in breathy awe): Oh my god, Mal. Do you know what this is?

MAL: No, and I'm thinking I'm going to have a heck of a time finding someone to buy it.

INARA: This is the oldest known depiction of feminine beauty. It's was already thousands of years old when it left Earth-That-Was.

MAL: That thing?

INARA: And I think I know where we can sell it.

MAL: We? Am I cutting you in?

INARA: You are now.

OFF BOX which contains the VENUS OF WILLENDORF.



INT. BRIDGE – SERENITY – NIGHT – MAL and ZOE are here, watching one of the screens. The newswave announcer's voice is heard over various images: recognizable bits of NOLA's own recording of BOB's murder by GARRON, TRENT and HALL – though none of the Serenity crew can be seen – along with footage of CULPEPPER, FEMALE FED and MALE FED being arrested and images of the museum goods that were recovered and returned – all indicating the enormous "we-can-retire-and-give-up-this-life-of-crime” payoff that's now lost to MAL and crew.

NEWS ANNOUNCER (V.O.) A reward of 50,000 credits had been attached to the missing artifacts since they disappeared from the Londinum Museum, three years ago. Most of the relics have been recovered after being found in the possession of Federal Marshal Charles Culpepper, who was assigned to investigate the murder of curator Robert Hastings, shot to death in a public market on Santo last week. The marshal was apprehended after an anonymous tip led to --

ZOE hits a button and mutes the broadwave.

ZOE: So, you don't mind having a cortex correspondent on the ship?

MAL: Lends a certain amount of respectability.

ZOE: Like a companion?

MAL: But without all the expensive clothes and candles. Or coupling.

ZOE: Unless Jayne has his way.

MAL: Jayne's having no way. He's been warned.

ZOE: Always a romantic, aren't you, sir?

CUT TO: INT. JAYNE'S BUNK – JAYNE's got the small gold cat statue on a shelf over his bed.

JAYNE: I know you're made of gold and worth a fortune, Puss.

JAYNE rubs the cat's head affectionately.

JAYNE (cont'd): But, you bring me good luck, and I promise not to sell you.

JAYNE heads to his ladder – then turns back.

JAYNE (cont'd): Not right away.

INT. SERENITY BRIDGE – NIGHT – LATER – ZOE is still sitting in the pilot's chair, cortex is off. MAL's gone. NOLA enters, limping a little.

ZOE: How's the leg?

NOLA: I think I'm gonna live. Mind if I have a sit?

ZOE: Go ahead.

NOLA (gazing out): I've always loved stars.

They are both quiet for a beat, especially ZOE, whose bittersweet face seems to be remembering how much WASH also loved the stars, but she's not going to talk about that. Instead --

ZOE: You didn't have to split the reward with us. Could have just taken it and gone on your way.

NOLA: Could have, but where's the fun in that? Besides, I know there's more of a story here, and maybe someday I'll uncover it.

ZOE: That so?

NOLA: Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds and Corporal Zoe Alleyne. Survivors of Serenity Valley, the deadly decisive battle of the Unification War. Flagged for harboring fugitives. Mysteriously cleared of all charges after exposing the truth about Miranda.

ZOE: Don't miss a thing, do you?

NOLA: It's all on the cortex. If you know where to look.

ZOE: And if you have the right access codes.

NOLA: It is convenient. I became a registered correspondent during the war, back when I supported Unification.

ZOE: And now...?

NOLA: Not so much with the supporting. None at all, actually.

ZOE: So, are you heading home?

NOLA: Home? I've been to just about every world in this 'verse, and I still haven't figured out where that is.

ZOE: Maybe that's your problem. Looking in the worlds. Maybe you belong in the sky.

PULL BACK through the window of the bridge to:

EXT. SPACE – NIGHT -- Serenity flying serenely through.