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Episode 4: Persephone

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INT. CASINO – NIGHT – Has the look of a semi-classy Wild West gambling hall, mixed up with some Asian elements and lots of high-tech computerized gambling. The crowd is mostly in Western-futuristic garb, but there are folks in kimonos, saris, etc. We get the impression that this is a fancy place, but outside the Core.

KAYLEE, SIMON, JAYNE, and NOLA are sitting around a table with drinks. (Notes NOLA BYRNE are at the end of this script, for those not familiar with her from previous episodes.)

KAYLEE is in her classic “pink foofaraw” dress from the shindig. SIMON is in one of his Victorian-style suits. JAYNE actually looks like he cleaned himself up, and is about as dressed up as we've ever seen him, wearing an Old West kind of get-up with a long-sleeved striped button-up shirt, fancy gambler's vest, long black string bowtie. NOLA is a beautiful sari.

The clothes are in marked contrast to the conversation –

NOLA: I don't like the double action on the Douglas. It's awkward.

JAYNE: But the rounds are interchangeable with my carbine, which is handy.

NOLA: Didn't I see you with a .357?

JAYNE: I got that off a fella I shot on Athens. It's got a full custom Caspian slide and tritium front sight.

NOLA: The accuracy is goh se with that model.

JAYNE: It's alright at point blank range.

SIMON (grumbling): What a charming conversation.

KAYLEE: Nola, how come you know so much about shooting and stuff?

NOLA: My father was a gunrunner.

JAYNE (impressed): No kidding?

SIMON: What does he do now?

NOLA: Nothing. He was killed smuggling arms to Independents during the Unification War.

SIMON: Oh. I'm sorry.

NOLA: I'm not. The man was a bastard.

JAYNE: You shouldn't talk about your pa like that.

A WAITER sets a big damn plate of food in front of JAYNE.

JAYNE wastes no time tucking in.

KAYLEE: We just had dinner!

JAYNE: Two hours ago!

NOLA: I'm seeing my next newswave: “Famine sweeps Santos. Food shortage due to giant locust named Jayne Cobb.”

LAUGHTER from everyone 'cept JAYNE.

INARA and MAL swirl into frame, waltzing past the table. INARA is in her usual gorgeous attire, MAL is wearing his Captain Tightpants suit. They are smiling, relaxed, happy.

SIMON and KAYLEE both watch INARA admiringly.

KAYLEE (wistful): Inara looks so elegant, doesn't she?

SIMON: She's always lovely.

KAYLEE's head snaps around to glare at SIMON.

KAYLEE: And I suppose I'm joo fuen chse? (a pool of pig droppings?)

SIMON: I – didn't say that.

KAYLEE grumbles as she self-consciously picks at the ruffles on her dress.

KAYLEE: Yeah, you never say anything.

SIMON: Wha– what do you want me to say? I mean – you look – nice. You could afford to get a new dress –

KAYLEE: I like this one!

NOLA: And don't you look just like a princess? Cinder-Kaylee and her handsome prince.

KAYLEE smiles slightly at NOLA, and SIMON sees his chance to smooth things over. He stands and bows at the waist.

SIMON (to KAYLEE): Would you like to dance?

A beat while KAYLEE decides whether or not she can stay mad at him. Then she takes SIMON's hand and stands.

KAYLEE: Jayne, you should dance with Nola.

JAYNE: I'm eatin'.

NOLA: That's alright. Maybe Mal will dance with me. You know, you can tell a lot about a man by the way he dances.

JAYNE gives NOLA a sharp look out of the corner of his eye, as –

SIMON leads KAYLEE away to the dance floor. They pass –

ZOE, who is standing off on her own. ZOE is not dressed up like the rest, and does not look like she's having much fun. She seems to be the one watching for trouble while the others enjoy themselves.

CAMERA: Follows SIMON and KAYLEE as they dance past INARA and MAL.

CAMERA ON: INARA and MAL. This conversation is exchanged in light tones. They are giving each other a hard time, but enjoying it.

MAL: I could get used to this life.

INARA: Oh, but, how would you live without danger and thievery?

MAL: I don't know. Could you live without fornication and frippery?

INARA: You're dressed like a gentleman – but, as they say, looks can be deceiving.

MAL: Humblest apologies, Madam Ambassador. I assumed those were usual topics of conversation in your line of work. Unless you're planning to change professions?

INARA: And why would I do that?

MAL: Because we've had a run of good luck, lately. You wouldn't need to take any clients for awhile.

INARA: I'm not ready to hang up my “frippery” quite yet. Besides, we all know how long your luck usually lasts.

As MAL turns INARA in the dance, we hear the CLICK of a gun hammer being pulled back and –

A GUN BARREL is thrust into screen, pointing at the side of MAL's head.

MAL and INARA abruptly stop dancing.

ANGLE ON: ZEB and his two pals, SUTTER and SANDY, just past MAL's shoulder.

MAL: What was that about luck?

END TEASER

“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...”

ACT ONE

INT. CASINO – NIGHT –

MAL has a gun to his cheek, held by ZEB, who is flanked by SUTTER and SANDY.

INARA is standing with MAL, and we also see, a little further back, SIMON and KAYLEE. Other casino patrons are looking on.

ZEB: Malcolm Reynolds? I been looking for you.

MAL: Well, it's your lucky day. You ought to try one of those mahjong machines while you're here.

MAL gestures over his shoulder, and SANDY thrusts a second gun at him. CLICK goes the hammer.

ZEB: You're a hard man to track down, yessir, a right hard man to track down. But I done it.

MAL: Do I know you?

ZEB: No, but you knew my brother Jeb. He was killed on Whitefall when them purple-bellies came a-looking for you.

MAL: And now you've got a grudge. Can't say as I blame you. But I'm not the one who killed your brother. That was your friendly neighborhood Alliance.

SUTTER: Well, you're the one who's gonna pay, and Zeb here's the one cashing you out.

MAL: Zeb. Killing me won't bring your brother back.

ZEB: But it'll make me feel better.

ANOTHER GUN is cocked and thrust into frame against SUTTER's cheek.

CAMERA ON: The gun is being held by ZOE.

SUTTER looks at her out of the corner of his eye as he says –

SUTTER: Ah, Zeb?

ZOE: All bets are off, gentlemen.

A casino SECURITY GUARD – a mustached Wild Bill Hickok-looking 40-something dressed in fancy duds and wearing some kind of official patch – parts the crowd.

SECURITY GUARD: Disagreements should be settled outside.

ZEB: So let's step outside.

MAL (thoughtful): Mmm... let's not.

MAL lunges at ZEB, knocking his gun aside and punching ZEB in the face.

ZOE knocks SUTTER out with her mare's leg, then quickly and expertly takes out SANDY in a similar manner.

SECURITY jumps in, and the scuffle escalates into a BAR BRAWL.

CAMERA ON: JAYNE and NOLA still sitting at their table, and JAYNE still eating.

NOLA: Shouldn't we help them?

JAYNE (chewing): Nope.

NOLA (disgusted with JAYNE): It's always the yellow ones that talk a blue streak.

A casino patron stumbles back and bumps into JAYNE and NOLA's table, knocking the drinks over. JAYNE grabs his plate protectively.

JAYNE: I like to roughhouse as much as anybody – but this is real steak!

NOLA gets up and joins the fray.

CUT TO: INARA and MAL are close to the exit. Both have their backs to the wall, literally, with INARA standing just behind MAL.

MAL throws a few punches, then presses back against INARA –

POV: INARA and MAL see several more casino guards pressing into the rabble, with big guns –

MAL: Time to go!

INARA places her hand on MAL's shoulder, saying into his ear –

INARA: Have I ever told you how much I love – your gift for stating the obvious?

MAL gives her his MAL-ish wry nod and a smile, then –

MAL and INARA exit.

CUT TO: ZOE seems to be having a rough go. She's been grabbed by two men on each arm, while a third is coming at her...

ANGLE ON: NOLA grabs a chair and inelegantly bashes one of the men holding ZOE, breaking the chair across his head and shoulders.

This frees ZOE up to take out the other two.

ZOE (to NOLA): Thanks. Watch it!

NOLA has spirit, but she obviously lacks ZOE's experience and finesse. A BRAWLER grabs NOLA from behind.

NOLA: Hey!

NOLA elbows the BRAWLER and stomps on his foot, trying to hit him with the broken chair legs she still holds in her hands.

The BRAWLER releases her, but draws his fist back to clock NOLA across the kisser –

And his fist is caught in JAYNE's hand.

JAYNE tosses the man aside and plants himself beside NOLA.

NOLA: Decided to dance, after all?

JAYNE: Finished my supper.

PUNCH. CRASH. BAM. ETC. JAYNE embarks on an impressive display of bare knuckle brawling – ripping his nice new shirt in the process.

ZOE: Jayne, Nola, get back to the ship!

JAYNE sends a SECURITY GUARD flying, shattering a table near SIMON and KAYLEE, who are trying to dodge the action and get out.

KAYLEE: Simon!

KAYLEE flinches, SIMON instinctively shields her from flying shards of wood and glass.

NOLA (reacting to Jayne, the shattered table): Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

SIMON and KAYLEE exit.

ZOE runs out after them.

JAYNE (to NOLA, re: exit): Go on, git!

NOLA, still holding two legs of the chair, whacks a BRAWLER who stands between herself and the exit, while JAYNE socks a few more people.

SHOTS are fired. One hits the door frame as JAYNE pulls NOLA out the exit.

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY – DINING ROOM – RIVER and HUGO (see notes on HUGO PEIDRA at the end of the script, for those who didn't read the previous episode) are sitting peacefully at the dinner table, the remains of a meal between them. They seem to be enjoying themselves.

HUGO's left arm is in a sling. He's still bruised, but healing. He wears his crucifix and some new clothes, something black and white, sort of goth Amish. No guns, knives or any visible weapons.

RIVER: You're wondering if I liked dinner. (sweetly) I did. You're a much better cook than my brother.

HUGO: And...?

RIVER: And ... you need my help with the dishes.

They both laugh.

HUGO: OK, that was too easy. Now what am I thinking?

HUGO closes his eyes, concentrating.

RIVER (recites): Que es mi barco mi tesoro, que es mi dios la libertad, mi ley, la fuerza y el viento, mi única patria, la mar.*

HUGO opens his eyes and looks at her in unmitigated amazement.

HUGO: You are truly touched by the hand of god.

The joy drains quickly from RIVER's face.

RIVER: I'm not what you think I am.

HUGO: And what do I think you are?

RIVER: Supernatural. Of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to god. I'm not.

HUGO: I believe you are.

RIVER: The only hands that touched me were blue.

HUGO: I don't understand.

RIVER: You will.

RIVER rises from her chair.

RIVER (cont'd): They're coming back.

HUGO: Who?

RIVER: All of them.

OFF HUGO's confused and concerned look –

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY – CARGO BAY – MAL and INARA enter through the smaller door in the airlock.

MAL (cheery): That was refreshing.

INARA: Yes, we should do it more often. Oh, wait. We do.

JAYNE and NOLA enter.

NOLA is still carrying the chair legs.

RIVER and HUGO enter from above and go down the stairs from the catwalk as the others speak.

JAYNE (to NOLA, re: chair legs): You could have left those.

NOLA: No! They're souvenirs.

JAYNE (to MAL, reproachfully): They started shooting at us after you ran off.

MAL (serious): Where's the rest of the crew?

JAYNE (examining the rip in his shirt): I don't know. They lit out afore of us.

MAL is looking back out the hatch for the others.

HUGO: We haven't seen anyone else.

RIVER: They're not far.

MAL gives RIVER a look.

MAL: Good.

ZOE enters, out of breath.

KAYLEE and SIMON enter just behind her, also breathing hard.

SIMON: We were pursued –

MAL and JAYNE whip out their guns.

ZOE (shakes head): We lost them.

MAL and JAYNE put their guns away.

SIMON looks around.

SIMON: No injuries for me to treat? That's a small miracle.

JAYNE (to SIMON): You feel like doctoring something, you could stitch up my sleeve.

SIMON: I'm a trauma surgeon, Jayne, not a tailor.

HUGO: What happened, mi amigos?

INARA: Another lovely evening ended with someone trying to kill us.

NOLA: They'd be waltzing over my prone corpse, right now, if it weren't for Jayne.

NOLA looks appreciatively at JAYNE, who's trying to pretend – for MAL's benefit – that he's ignoring her. (MAL warned him, in the episode “A Dream Come True,” not to hit on the paying passengers.)

SIMON: Just promise you won't write a song for him.

Various reactions to that, mostly laughter, and sneers from JAYNE.

JAYNE exits to the infirmary.

MAL: I think we've overstayed our welcome on this world.

INARA: What was your first clue?

INARA exits up the stairs to her shuttle.

MAL: Let's shake some dust. Zoe?

ZOE: Already on it, sir.

ZOE heads to the bridge.

EXT. SERENITY – NIGHT – Lifting off from the planet.

INT. SERENITY – BRIDGE – ZOE in pilot seat. MAL enters.

Something beeps/flashes on the control panel. ZOE checks it out.

ZOE: There's a wave coming in for you.

MAL: Zeb again?

ZOE: I don't think so. It's coming from Persephone.

MAL: We don't have many friends there.

ZOE: We don't have – any – friends there.

ZOE hits a couple buttons on the control panel and HAIN BO – 40-ish, extremely well-dressed in silk brocade, and well-spoken – appears on the viewing screen.

HAIN: The name is Hain Bo. Am I speaking to Malcolm Reynolds?

MAL: Yeah, I'm real popular, of late. What did I do to you?

HAIN: It's not what you've done, but what I hope you will do. You are acquainted with a man named Badger?

MAL: Unfortunately.

HAIN: He gave you a very good recommendation.

MAL: I find that hard to believe.

HAIN: He said that I need, and here I quote him, “A man with an overdeveloped sense of honor and an underdeveloped amount of prosperity.”

MAL: Yeah, well, you just go back to Badger and tell him I don't need any crumbs from his scum-covered table.

MAL reaches to switch off the console –

HAIN: (sounding coolly non-desperate) I am desperate, Mr. Reynolds. Please. I am not the sort of man who normally takes suggestions from aptly-named vermin.

MAL: Whatever job you've got, if it comes by way of Badger, I don't want it.

HAIN: It's not a job offer as much as an ardent request. Let me come right to the point, Mr. Reynolds. My daughter has been kidnapped – and I need you to bring her back to me.

MAL and ZOE exchange serious looks.

END ACT ONE

ACT TWO

INT. SERENITY BRIDGE – MAL and ZOE still talking to HAIN BO, who is on the console.

MAL: Why do you need me to find your daughter? Why not call the authorities?

HAIN: She's not a child. She's of legal age.

MAL: Still, kidnapping's kidnapping. So, I imagine there exist some kind of irksome intricacies of which you have yet to inform me – and that you can't share with law enforcement.

HAIN: You are astute, Mr. Reynolds. It's a situation which I would rather not explain from a distance. I'll give you 500 credits to come to Persephone, immediately, and speak with me face-to-face. Is that adequate for your time, fuel and docking fees?

MAL: Downright generous. But what if I get an earful, and I still say 'no'?

HAIN: Then you keep the money and I go back to Badger. Which I'd rather not.

MAL: Not that I blame you. Give me a moment to confabulate with my crew.

HAIN: Of course. But, please, Mr. Reynolds, don't take long. Every minute that passes, she gets further away from me. You can imagine my anxiety.

MAL hits a button to turn off his side of the vid feed.

MAL: Yeah, he looks real tore up. Zoe?

ZOE: You think Badger is setting us up, again?

MAL: Badger, or any one of a hundred other folks out to waylay us.

ZOE: So, we're not going?

MAL: I didn't say that.

INT. SERENITY – INFIRMARY – JAYNE and SIMON are here. SIMON is getting something out of a cabinet.

We join an argument in progress –

JAYNE: I'm just saying, your little sis still owes me a shirt.

SIMON: She doesn't owe you anything! You tried to sell her – us – to the feds!

SIMON finds what he's looking for – it's antiseptic and first aid stuff. He thrusts it at JAYNE.

JAYNE: But then I saved you from those feds, so one cancels out the other.

SIMON: I don't think so!

JAYNE (talks over SIMON): Any case, it don't change the fact that she ruined my best –

SIMON: “Best”?!

JAYNE: Hey, it didn't have a hole in it till she put one in the middle of my chest!

JAYNE begins using the first aid stuff to doctor some cuts and scrapes on his hands from the brawl.

SIMON (snide): It was a t-shirt with a Blue Sun logo. How many protein bars did you have to eat to get it?!

JAYNE: It had sentimental value. I was wearing that shirt when –

SIMON: No! No more walks down Jayne Macabre Memory Lane, thank you! Just – (re: first aid supplies) make sure you put that back when you're done. And don't touch anything else!

JAYNE: Christ, Doc, you need to relax. You're wound up tighter'n a tick.

NOLA enters.

SIMON exits, groaning in frustration through gritted teeth.

JAYNE continues treating his wounds.

NOLA: I wanted to thank you.

JAYNE: For what?

NOLA: For saving my ass.

JAYNE glances at her – or, rather, at the bottom half of her –

JAYNE (mutters): And it is worth saving.

NOLA moves – sidles? – around the operating table, and stands beside JAYNE. She runs a fingertip along the rip in his sleeve, which also happens to run along one bicep.

NOLA: I can take care of this for you.

JAYNE struggles to remain detached and in control of the situation at hand.

JAYNE (shrugs): I've got other shirts.

NOLA: May I see it?

JAYNE: What?

NOLA: Your hand.

JAYNE: Oh, no, that ain't necessary –

NOLA takes his hand anyway, and starts cleaning it herself. You could cut the rapidly growing sexual tension with a great big bowie knife. After a few beats, they continue to talk.

NOLA: Looks like it's mostly someone else's blood.

JAYNE: Yeah, well... you weren't hurt none, were you?

JAYNE looks NOLA up and down and all over, just to make sure, of course.

NOLA: I'm all in one piece.

JAYNE: That's good.

NOLA looks away from his hands and into his eyes.

NOLA: It is.

JAYNE takes hold of her, placing both hands on her shoulders. Seems to be angling for a kiss but thinks better of it. Tries to change the subject.

JAYNE: Look here now – you've got gumption, I'll give you that. But don't be getting in trouble on behalf of Mal and Zoe. They're hardened soldiers, they can take care of themselves.

NOLA: And you?

JAYNE: Me?

NOLA: What's your story? Are you a hardened soldier, too?

Emphasis on the “hardened,” as she leans into him. He looks at her. She looks at him. And –

MAL enters.

JAYNE pushes NOLA away, and makes a production of setting the infirmary back to rights.

MAL looks from JAYNE to NOLA and back to JAYNE, who manages to look guilty and defiant at the same time.

This exchange is played out with tension between MAL and JAYNE.

MAL: We've got a job.

JAYNE (get lost): Don't see as how I need one right now.

MAL: Me & Zoe. On Persephone.

NOLA: Shiny. I haven't been there in ages.

MAL (to JAYNE): Doc doesn't like you messing around in his dispensary.

JAYNE (to MAL): I'm not touching anything wasn't given to me.

MAL: You're done in here.

JAYNE: Not by a jug full –

MAL (talking over him): That wasn't a question.

BEAT while MAL and JAYNE glower at each other.

JAYNE (to NOLA): Xie xie, tian shi. (Thanks, angel.)

JAYNE exits. NOLA's eyes follow him. Might I say, hungrily?

When JAYNE is out of sight –

NOLA crosses her arms and speaks without taking her eyes off JAYNE's direction –

NOLA: Who pissed in your boot, Malcolm?

MAL: Pardon?

NOLA turns to face MAL.

NOLA: Running him off, just when I was putting the come-hither on him.

MAL: The – wha–? On him? You've been out on the rim too long, woman. If you're that desperate, I hear tell Kaylee's got some kind of battery-operated device. I reckon she has no use for it now.

NOLA: Why wouldn't she?

MAL: She's got the good doctor.

NOLA (chuckling): So?

MAL: So...

NOLA: You don't spend much time in your woman's shuttle, do you?

MAL: My woman...?

NOLA: Your companion.

MAL: She's not my – and, no – she doesn't service the crew.

NOLA: Too bad. You've got a bit of a knowledge gap.

NOLA exits.

OFF: MAL's face –

CUT TO: INT. DINING ROOM – SERENITY – DAY – LATER –

MAL and ZOE are selecting weapons and other items – radios, earpieces, etc. – from things laying out on the table. INARA stands by the table. HUGO is nearby in the galley.

JAYNE enters.

INARA (to MAL: Will I have time to visit friends?

MAL: If it's a discount visit.

INARA: I do have friends, Mal. Not everyone I know has to pay me.

MAL: I'll keep that in mind. Jayne, your job while we're gone is to get Serenity fueled up, flush the sanitation system, get us some fresh water –

JAYNE: When did I become the gorram cabin boy?

MAL: Consider it a promotion. You keep whining and I'll have you licking the air filters clean.

ZOE: Is that wise, sir? The whole ship will smell like his breath.

HUGO: Captain, may I have permission to restock the galley?

JAYNE: “Permission”?

RIVER enters, lurks.

HUGO: Basics, tea, coffee and cleaning supplies are low, and you're missing two forks and three spoons.

RIVER (softly): One fork is under Kaylee's bed.

MAL: Yeah, sure. Get whatever you think we need. (to JAYNE) But don't let him spend too much.

JAYNE: I've gotta go shopping, too?

INARA: Some people enjoy shopping.

JAYNE: Well, then let them go!

HUGO: Thank you, captain. I'd like to make a special meal for you – for everyone – when you return. I'm very grateful for what you've done for me.

MAL (amused): Do I have a cook now?

HUGO: I was the steward's assistant back home.

INARA: On your ship.

HUGO: Yes, ma'am.

ZOE: Based on the size, you must have had a crew of what – 18?

HUGO: There were twenty-five of us on Thor's Hammer.

INARA: You're young to have so much responsibility.

HUGO: Some experiences make a person grow up fast.

JAYNE: If he's on galley, do I still have to do dishes?

INARA (re: JAYNE): And some people never grow up.

MAL holsters his pistol.

MAL: Jayne, pick up some ammo, too.

JAYNE: Why? We ain't used any.

ZOE: You sound disappointed.

MAL picks up a gun sitting on the table, holds it out to HUGO.

MAL: Take this, until you can replace the weapons you lost.

HUGO looks at the gun in MAL's hand.

HUGO: Do we expect Reavers, again, Captain?

MAL raises his eyebrows. We might see ZOE's and JAYNE's reactions in the background.

MAL: No, just thought you might want one if you're going plantetside.

HUGO: I appreciate your concern.

HUGO is neither defensive nor antagonistic. Just serene. HUGO is much with the serene, in general. We might catch a glint of light off of HUGO's silver crucifix, to remind us it's there.

MAL: Well – If you change your mind.

MAL sets the gun back on the table.

HUGO: I won't. But, thank you.

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY'S SECOND SHUTTLE – DAY – LATER –

MAL and ZOE are busy buckling in, flipping switches, etc., as they converse.

MAL: He drifted around the rim for nine years and never had anyone try to steal his ship, rob him, or pretend to be married to him then disable his navigation and send him hurtling to his doom?

ZOE: That's just you, sir.

MAL: Oh, right.

ZOE (on comm): Kaylee, we're disengaging, now.

EXT. SERENITY – PERSEPHONE – DAY – SERENITY on the ground. The shuttle separates and flies off.

CUT TO: INT. SHUTTLE – MAL & ZOE.

KAYLEE (voice on comm): All clear. Have fun.

MAL: Speaking of fun, I've been meaning to ask you. Did something go wrong on the way out of that shill hall the other night?

ZOE: Just a little slow. Nola had my back.

MAL: I had to get Inara out.

ZOE: I know, sir. Wasn't filing a formal complaint.

MAL: Zoe.

ZOE: Sir?

MAL: I don't recall you ever being “slow” before.

ZOE: I'm fine.

MAL (emphatically): I know. But I also know you haven't been the same since...

MAL lets it hang there, uncomfortably, without finishing the sentence.

ZOE: Since my husband was killed by Reavers? No, things haven't been the same. Kinda cold, kinda lonely.

MAL: For two months now I've let it be. Figured it was one valley I couldn't help you out of. But, if you need something –

ZOE: Beaumonde. If you're offering, I want to see his family.

MAL nods.

MAL: Zoe?

ZOE: Sir?

MAL: War's been over for 7 years. You know you don't have to keep calling me 'sir.'

ZOE: I know, sir.

EXT. HAIN BO'S COMPLEX – DAY – We see the shuttle landing outside a beautiful mansion, vaguely reminiscent of an Old South plantation, surrounded by gardens and green fields, and high, well-guarded walls.

INT. HAIN BO'S HOUSE – LATER – MAL and ZOE are led by a BUTLER into a solarium with a central fountain and pool, white walls, opulent but not excessive decor.

BUTLER: The master will be with you shortly. Wait here.

The BUTLER bows and leaves the room.

There is another SERVANT, young female, maybe 18, standing in the background, head down, silent.

MAL waves at her.

MAL: Hey there.

She doesn't answer. She doesn't even lift her eyes.

HAIN enters.

HAIN: Mr. Reynolds. I regret having to receive you under such circumstances.

MAL (with his Mal-ish smirk, you know the one): I seriously doubt you'd receive us, otherwise.

HAIN makes with the tight-lipped, superior smile. He reaches into his breast pocket, pulls out a stack of cashy money and snaps his fingers. The SERVANT runs forward with a lacquered tray. He places the money on the tray and she takes it to MAL.

MAL picks up the money.

HAIN: Here's what I promised you. But I'm prepared to pay much, much more.

MAL: Keep talking.

HAIN: Two nights ago, I discovered my daughter was gone. The servants saw her leave with Isra Corazon, a young man who worked as a gardener here for the past year.

HAIN manipulates a control panel. Suddenly, an image of ISRA CORAZON, very early 20s, is floating in front of them. He's cute in a boy-next-door sort of way and he doesn't at all look like a wily seducer.

MAL: And your daughter?

HAIN: Of course.

HAIN touches the controls again, and ISRA is replaced by an image of NIVIA, a stunningly beautiful 18-year-old.

ZOE: Maybe they're in love.

HAIN (dismissive): Oh, no doubt she is – or was – when they left. But the young man has revealed his true motive. I received a wave from him yesterday, demanding a large sum of money.

MAL: And you want us to make the drop. In fact, it wouldn't spoil your dinner if we came back with your daughter, and your money, and this Corazon didn't come back at all.

HAIN: I don't care what you have to do to him, just return my girl unharmed and I'll pay you 3,000 credits.

MAL: Doesn't seem like a very high price for a beloved child.

HAIN (angrily): Then you'll have 3,000 now, and 3,000 more when you bring her home. Does that satisfy you? Or should I continue to bid higher? I am unfamiliar with the etiquette of outlaws and thieves.

HAIN pulls more cashy money out of his pocket. The SERVANT runs over and he puts it on her lacquered tray.

MAL seems to have lost all good humor.

MAL: Could just go find her yourself. Or send some of your people. Highfalutin chicken coop like this must have some thugs on the payroll.

HAIN: I need someone he doesn't know, someone he won't expect, someone I can trust to protect her, and who will do what needs to be done to bring her back to me. Will you take this job? Please, don't break a father's heart.

MAL: No, wouldn't want to do that.

HAIN touches the controls and the image of NIVIA is replaced by a topographical map.

HAIN: Good. Corazon's wave came from Riverbend. But I don't think he'll stay there. Most likely he'll take her to Jared's Ferry. It's the only major port in that area of the world. Here are the coordinates.

HAIN pulls a little computer flash drive type thing from the control panel, presumably containing the images they just saw. He puts it on the tray for the SERVANT to take to MAL.

MAL picks up the flash drive, but not the money.

MAL: Does your daughter have a name?

HAIN: Nivia.

INT. SERENITY – PASSENGER DORM AREA – NIGHT – LATER –

JAYNE is moving quietly past the darkened rooms, heading for a thin bar of light where one door is not completely shut.

JAYNE knocks softly.

NOLA opens the door and is pleased to see JAYNE standing there with his torn shirt in his hand. He's pleased to see her in nothing but a tight t-shirt and a batik sarong tied around her waist.

NOLA: Kinda late to be stalking the halls, dà láng (big wolf).

JAYNE (forced casual): I'm on watch while Mal and Zoe are on the job. Saw your light on.

NOLA: I was working.

NOLA gestures to the cortex screen, keypad and other devices scattered across her bed.

JAYNE: If you're busy –

NOLA: No. Hang on.

NOLA turns away from the door to pick up her sewing kit, which is sitting nearby, like it was waiting.

JAYNE (unsure): You want I should I come in?

NOLA: No. These walls are like rice paper. I don't wanna wake up Simon and Kaylee.

JAYNE: Maybe they're in her bunk.

NOLA gives him a look.

NOLA: I said the walls are thin.

JAYNE (realization dawns): Oh.

NOLA: C'mon.

NOLA steps, barefoot, past JAYNE and into the hall. Carrying her sewing kit, she takes JAYNE by the hand and leads him away from her room.

INT. COMMON AREA – NIGHT – CONTINUING – It's dark and shadowy – the lights are off and Serenity is all night-night.

NOLA leads JAYNE to the couch and they sit.

JAYNE: You gonna thread a needle in the dark?

NOLA tosses the sewing kit on the table and leans toward JAYNE.

NOLA (sultry): I think the shirt can wait, don't you?

JAYNE: Oh, hell yes.

That's about the most emphatic “hell yes” in the 'verse. JAYNE and NOLA are on each other like red on a strawberry. JAYNE goes for her neck and anywhere else he can reach that ain't her mouth.

CUT TO: EXT. JARED'S FERRY – NIGHT – It's got a truck stop sort of feel, a busy spot in a relatively uninteresting area of the planet.

MAL and ZOE walk along the sidewalk. Light spills out from a few late-night bars, diners, hotels, general stores, docks. We see the lights of ships moving in the sky overhead.

ZOE stops a STATION ATTENDANT, holds up a small device displaying NIVIA and ISRA's photos.

ZOE: Excuse me, we're looking for some folks.

MAL (lying): Supposed to be picking up a grain hauler from them. Already an hour late.

STATION ATTENDANT (shrugs): Haven't seen a grain hauler, not tonight.

MAL (re: ISRA, NIVIA): Have you seen them?

STATION ATTENDANT: Nope. I'd remember her.

MAL: Thank you, kindly.

MAL and ZOE continue walking, looking around.

ZOE: We've been all over this station and no one's seen them.

MAL: And nobody's jumped us.

ZOE: Should we scratch the ambush theory?

MAL: When's the last time you radioed Serenity?

ZOE: Fifteen minutes ago.

MAL: And?

ZOE: Jayne said it was quiet.

MAL: “Quiet.”

ZOE (deadpan): I believe his exact words were, “The same ruttin' nothing that was happening an hour ago, and the hour before that, and the gorram hour before that, can I go now?”

MAL: I am just about done chasing wild geese, here.

ZOE: Do you think Corazon went ahead and left without the money?

MAL: What I think is Bo's lying about something. I just haven't figured out what, yet.

ZOE: Maybe there is no Corazon.

MAL: Could be something else happened to the girl, and Bo just hired us as a cover.

ZOE: You think she's dead?

ZOE's looking one way, MAL's looking off another.

MAL sees something –

MAL: Let's ask her.

POV: MAL & ZOE see NIVIA and ISRA walking out of an alley.

NIVIA leans against ISRA, and he has his arm around her. They both seem very tense – we're not sure if he's clutching her ominously, or supporting her lovingly.

MAL and ZOE head toward them.

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY – COMMON AREA – NIGHT –

NOLA and JAYNE still mostly clothed but getting busy on the couch, horizontally –

Until NOLA tries to kiss him on the mouth.

JAYNE avoids her, but she is persistent –

JAYNE: Don't.

NOLA (breathy): Don't what?

JAYNE: Don't – go getting romantical.

NOLA is losing the mood. She tries to sit up, but she's stuck under JAYNE.

NOLA: Jayne – this isn't working –

JAYNE glances down at his nether regions.

JAYNE: It's working!

NOLA: We're not here for the same thing –

JAYNE: The devil we ain't!

NOLA (to JAYNE): Then why won't you kiss me?

JAYNE: What difference does it make? We'll be done in a minute –

NOLA: A minute – ?!

JAYNE: I might could take longer, but you make that all kinds of difficult – and it's been awhile, so I ain't promising nothing.

NOLA: Get off of me.

JAYNE and NOLA sit upright.

JAYNE: What? Why!?

NOLA: Jesus! You spent more time with your steak!

CUT TO: EXT. JARED'S FERRY – NIGHT – MAL and ZOE approach ISRA and NIVIA, flanking them on either side.

MAL: Isra Corazon?

The couple cling to each other nervously. ISRA tries to lie.

ISRA: No, you've got the wrong person.

ZOE holds up the picture of NIVIA.

ZOE: And you're Nivia Bo.

NIVIA seems tired, confused. All of her lines are delivered in a weakened voice.

NIVIA: That's not my name.

ZOE (disgusted): What'd you do, drug her?

ISRA doesn't answer but looks warily at MAL to ZOE. He tries to inch himself and NIVIA away from them.

But MAL and ZOE aren't going to let them go anywhere.

ISRA: What do you want?

MAL: Kidnapping is a serious offense.

NIVIA (weakly): I ran away.

ISRA (lovingly): Don't talk to them, my love.

MAL (to ISRA): Provided there's no permanent damage to the young lady, there's two ways to do this: quiet – or even quieter. Which might involve you getting dead.

ZOE glances around to make sure they're not attracting any unwanted attention.

ISRA (nervous, upset): Please, we've got nothing to steal. And we can't bribe you. We didn't take anything from the estate, we have no money! We haven't even eaten since we left.

ZOE: Didn't plan this very well, did you?

MAL: Maybe he reckoned that ransom would be paying off, by now. But her father sent us, instead.

ISRA: Whose father?

ZOE: Hain Bo. Nivia's father.

ISRA: She's not his daughter!

MAL: Is that right? What is she, then?

ISRA: She's his slave.

OFF MAL and ZOE's reactions –

END ACT TWO

ACT THREE

EXT. JARED'S FERRY – NIGHT – MAL and ZOE are still standing on either side of NIVIA and ISRA.

MAL: You're a runaway slave?

ISRA: Would a father put a restraint cuff on his own daughter? (to NIVIA) Show him.

NIVIA has been holding her left hand under her shawl. She holds it out and we see that it's been badly burned, mainly around the wrist but also parts of her hand and arm.

MAL and ZOE are not liking this at all.

ISRA: When I removed it, it burned her. I didn't know what I was doing. (to NIVIA) I'm so sorry.

NIVIA smiles at him very weakly.

NIVIA: I forgive you.

MAL: According to Hain Bo, you waved him asking for money. That's how he located you.

ISRA (angry): I didn't! He was tracking the cuff. We destroyed it in Riverbend.

MAL and ZOE exchange a look. They both take their hands off their pistols.

MAL: It doesn't say much for Hain Bo that I'm inclined to believe you.

NIVIA (frightened): Are you – taking me back?

MAL: No, I'm taking you to my ship. I've got a doctor there who can tend you proper.

ISRA: We're not going anywhere with you. How do I know you won't just kill me and take Nivia?

ISRA clutches NIVIA to himself, being careful of her hand.

MAL: Because I'd have done it, already.

ZOE: She needs help. Wound like that, infection sets in quick. She could lose her whole hand. Maybe the arm, too.

MAL: Tell you what, if it will alleviate your worries, I won't take you to my ship. We'll bring the doctor to you. But something's got to be done, and it's got to be done soon.

ISRA: We don't have much choice, do we?

MAL: No, you don't. Let's go.

MAL and ZOE lead ISRA and NIVIA off to the edge of town.

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY – COMMON AREA – NIGHT – LATER –

NOLA and JAYNE are sitting up on the couch, much less entangled.

NOLA: You'd have a go at me, but not kiss me?

JAYNE: I've had my inoculations, but I don't kiss nobody on the mouth.

NOLA: What kind of man are you?

JAYNE: The kind that's just 7 inches away.

NOLA: I'm utterly gobsmacked.

JAYNE: You're what-hoo?

NOLA: I don't know what to say.

NOLA stands up, but JAYNE catches her hand. He looks up at her from the couch.

There's a beat when we think he might say something – anything – sweet or profound or just painfully desperate. But, instead, he says –

JAYNE: Would it help if I paid you?

NOLA's face twists in sheer rage –

NOLA: Paid me!?

NOLA slaps him.

JAYNE deflects the blow, catching her wrist in his hand.

JAYNE: What's that for – ?!

NOLA lunges at him, trying to hit him again, but he grabs her other wrist.

JAYNE struggles with her as they yell at each other –

NOLA (her Irish accent coming through heavily): You're a right bucket of steaming shite – Jayne gorram Cobb! I'll rip out your eyes and – shove 'em up your ass – so you can see your own – black heart!

JAYNE: I don't – hit womenfolk – unless they hit me first! Or try to shoot me – Gorrammit, Nola, settle down!

NOLA: Is that all you think of me, I'm just a hoor to you?! You think I want your gorram money?

JAYNE: Well, what do you want?!

JAYNE lets go of NOLA and she takes a step back. For a beat she just looks at him, her chest still heaving from the struggle, and her eyes fill with tears.

NOLA: If you don't know, there's no point in telling you, now!

NOLA exits to her room.

JAYNE kicks the coffee table in frustration.

RIVER (O.S.): Pair. Couple. Twosome.

JAYNE (to RIVER): Gorrammit, girl! Kwai jio kai (Get lost)!

RIVER enters.

RIVER: I don't have to be psychic to know you totally flubbed that.

RIVER exits up the staircase, to the upper level of the ship.

OFF: JAYNE angrily re-fastening his pants –

CUT TO: EXT. JARED'S FERRY – THE EDGE OF TOWN – NIGHT – LATER – We see the non-Inara shuttle on the ground nearby. The terrain is typical of Firefly worlds – some scrub brush, some boulders. We see the lights of Jared's Ferry off in the distance.

ZOE is trying to contact Serenity. MAL, NIVIA and ISRA here, too.

ZOE (on radio): Serenity, this is Shuttle Two. Jayne, you there? (pause) Hello? Anybody home?

MAL: No answer? Wang ba dan (Son of a bitch)

JAYNE (voice on radio): I'm here.

MAL takes the radio from ZOE.

MAL (on radio): What's going on?

CUT TO: BRIDGE – SERENITY – NIGHT – There's a light blinking on the control panel.

JAYNE enters carrying his radio.

JAYNE (into radio): Just making the rounds. Checking to see – everyone's in bed. Except me. I'm not. In bed.

JAYNE finally notices the blinking light on the control panel.

JAYNE (cont'd): Hey, you got a wave coming in.

CUT TO: EXT. JARED'S FERRY – THE EDGE OF TOWN –

MAL (on radio): Bounce it down to the shuttle.

INT. SHUTTLE TWO – CONTINUING – MAL enters, sits in the little cockpit. There's a smallish viewing screen embedded in the control panel here.

MAL wipes a thin layer of grime off of it with his hand as HAIN appears.

HAIN (impatient): Have you found her?

MAL: I have.

HAIN: Kudos, Mr. Reynolds! Kudos. Was Corazon difficult?

MAL: Not at all.

HAIN: Superb. I knew you were the right man.

MAL: What is going to be difficult, though, is bringing her back.

HAIN: I see. Is it 10,000 credits, then?

MAL: Keep your money. I don't buy and sell people.

HAIN: Don't be unreasonab--

MAL hits a switch and the vidscreen goes black.

EXT. JARED'S FERRY – NIGHT – CONTINUING – MAL steps out of the shuttle. ISRA is standing there, near enough to be eavesdropping.

ISRA: Why are you helping us?

MAL: Saving a daughter is one thing. Buying and selling people is something else.

ISRA: Slavery is legal on Persephone –

MAL: I know. It was one of their conditions for accepting unification. But, just because it's legal, doesn't make it right. (to ZOE) I'll be back with the doc fast as I can.

ZOE: We'll be waiting here.

CUT TO: EXT. JARED'S FERRY – WIDE SHOT – We see the shuttle lift off, leaving ZOE, NIVIA and ISRA behind, the lights and ships of Jared's Ferry beyond them.

INT. SERENITY – PASSENGER DORMS – LATER – NIGHT –

JAYNE is knocking on SIMON's door, not so quietly.

SIMON, groggy and shirtless, pulls the door open.

JAYNE: Captain's got something for you.

SIMON reaches over to retrieve a shirt, pulls it over his head.

SIMON: For me?

JAYNE: Somebody's hurt.

SIMON snaps into doctor mode, turns on a light to find his socks and shoes.

SIMON: Who – ?

JAYNE: None of ours. Somebody else.

SIMON's room is not much bigger than a walk-in closet, so it's kinda hard to miss the outline of KAYLEE asleep in SIMON's bed.

KAYLEE (sleepy): Simon?

SIMON sits down on the bed beside her and strokes her hair. He speaks soothingly.

SIMON: It's alright, bao bei. Go back to sleep.

SIMON leans down to kiss her.

JAYNE glances at NOLA's door. It's closed, and the lights are off.

JAYNE (to SIMON): Don't take all night. He's on his way.

JAYNE storms off with a disgusted snort. Mmm, them sour grapes.

EXT. JARED'S FERRY – NIGHT – LATER – The shuttle is back.

SIMON is bandaging NIVIA's hand. They are sitting on rocks.

ISRA, ZOE and MAL are here, too.

ISRA and NIVIA are eating something MAL brought back from the ship.

SIMON (to ISRA): So, you helped her escape. It must have been dangerous.

ISRA: I didn't really think about it. I just wanted her to be free, so that no one could hurt her any more.

SIMON: I can understand that.

ZOE draws her gun.

ZOE: Someone's out there.

MAL draws his gun.

From a little ways off, they hear –

ZEB (O.S.): Took some doin', but we found you ag'in, Malcolm Reynolds!

ZEB approaches with SUTTER and SANDY.

MAL (calling back): You know what they say, “Tenacity killed the coot.” Isn't that the saying, Zoe?

ZOE: Close enough, sir.

ZOE and MAL exchange a quick nod, then they both start firing on ZEB, SUTTER and SANDY.

ZEB and his bunch return fire, and we see them moving in toward the shuttle.

MAL (to SIMON): Get them inside the shuttle!

MAL drops to the ground and rolls behind some larger boulders.

More exchange of gunfire, SANDY is wounded. SUTTER is dropped.

ZEB is shot.

ISRA (O.S.): Nivia!

NIVIA lets out a pitiful shriek.

ANGLE ON: HAIN BO and a couple of BODYGUARDS have managed to sneak up behind them during the gunfight. They have grabbed NIVIA. The barrels of their guns are aimed at MAL and ZOE.

HAIN (all polite pretenses are gone): On some worlds they hang horse thieves and shoot cattle rustlers. Which punishment do you think applies here?

MAL: Don't know. (rephrasing HAIN BO's earlier words) I am unfamiliar with the etiquette of slavers and pretentious scumbags.

HAIN swings his pistol around at ISRA, but NIVIA throws herself at HAIN.

NIVIA (to HAIN): Please! I'll go back with you, just don't hurt him. Don't hurt any of them, they've been kind to me.

HAIN holsters his pistol in a shoulder holster inside his coat.

The BODYGUARDS still have their shotguns drawn.

ISRA: No! Nivia, you can't!

HAIN: Shut up, boy! She's a good girl, she knows her place.

NIVIA (to MAL, ZOE): Don't make trouble. I'm not worth dying over. (heartbreakingly) Please, Isra. You tried. It's enough for me to know that you tried. Just go.

Guns are lowered all around. MAL holsters his pistol, but keeps a hand on it.

The BODYGUARDS grab NIVIA as HAIN pulls a collar out of his pocket and puts it around NIVIA's neck. It might have a light to indicate some kind of electronic device. We can assume it's not unlike the previous slave tracking cuff that burned her wrist.

MAL: Why didn't you just call the feds, Bo? Why the story?

HAIN: I didn't want damaged goods, Mr. Reynolds. Runaway slaves are imprisoned, beaten – or worse. She's mine, and I want her – pristine.

HAIN briefly touches her cheek. NIVIA flinches.

HAIN (cont): Then there was the chance, if you knew what she was, that you would just keep her, or sell her, yourself.

MAL: No, there was never a chance of that.

HAIN: Better to have you think she was my own child, and that you were doing a valiant thing. I was hoping you'd kill the boy for me, too. Oh, well. Doesn't really matter. I have what's mine.

HAIN takes NIVIA roughly by the arm.

MAL: So, is this like a hobby for you, you got a whole collection, or are you a one-slave kind of slime?

HAIN turns to MAL.

HAIN: I think it's time you and your people get on that shuttle and depart. Unless you want me to contact the authorities and tell them you stole my property.

MAL: A human being is not property.

HAIN takes a small remote control device out of his pocket. He holds it up for MAL to see.

HAIN (seething): On Persephone, they are, you self-righteous Independent dirtback. She is mine – to display as an ornament – to use as I please – to sell if she tires me – or to simply push a button and blow her head –

BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! MAL whips out his gun and shoots HAIN right in the head and chest.

HAIN falls over backwards, very dead.

The BODYGUARDS hardly have a chance to register what happened, let alone lift their guns, before MAL and ZOE drop them, too.

ZOE (to MAL): Good job. You had him monologuing.

ISRA and NIVIA are stunned.

MAL holsters his pistol, walks over to HAIN's body, carefully picks up the remote control device.

MAL (casually to NIVIA, ISRA): Ever been to Beaumonde?

END ACT THREE

ACT FOUR

INT. SERENITY – CARGO BAY – LATER – DAY – MAL, ISRA and SIMON are here.

KAYLEE is examining the remote and NIVIA's collar.

KAYLEE (to NIVIA): Don't worry, honey. We're just about done. You're really brave.

KAYLEE slides a piece and unlocks it.

NIVIA flinches. The collar comes off in KAYLEE's hands.

MAL: That's it?

KAYLEE: Yup. (re: remote) It's got a kill switch. I mean – another – button – y'know – turns it all off. It was just a matter of figuring out which button. And then disabling the magnetic lock on the collar itself.

MAL takes the collar and the remote from KAYLEE.

MAL: Alrighty then.

CUT TO: EXT. SERENITY – CONTINUING – The ramp is down and the airlock open, we can see that it's the middle-of-nowhere outside. MAL tosses the collar and remote out the door, then hits the button to close the ramp.

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY – CARGO BAY – CONTINUING –

MAL hears a loud, persistent clanging coming from somewhere up above.

CUT TO: INT. SERENITY – STAIRS – CONTINUING –

MAL goes to investigate.

MAL: Shuh muh ma shong? (What now?)

CUT TO: INT. FORE CORRIDOR – CONTINUING –

MAL enters.

NOLA is here, banging on JAYNE's bunk hatch.

ZOE is leaning against the doorway between the hall and the bridge, watching the show.

NOLA (calling loudly): JAYNE!

JAYNE's hatch clangs open and JAYNE calls up irritably from inside. In fact, this whole conversation is yelled back and forth rather shamelessly.

JAYNE (O.S.): What?!

NOLA: Give me my gorram drawers!

CAMERA ON: MAL, then ZOE, as they react. MAL's surprised, ZOE's laughing. Then –

JAYNE (O.S.): Yer what?

NOLA: Don't play thick with me! Last person had their hands on them was you.

MAL gives NOLA a look, then leans over to speak to her.

MAL (quiet, to NOLA): You care to explain to me how he came to possess your unmentionables?

NOLA: The usual way. (to JAYNE) But you can't keep a souvenir of something that didn't happen!

JAYNE (O.S.): Which is a rectifiable situation, if you'd just come down here –

MAL leans over to yell down the bunk hatch.

MAL: JAYNE?! What's taking you so long? How many women's things you got down there?

A bit of fabric is tossed up out of the bunk hatch, and MAL leaps back like it's a grenade.

NOLA scoops up her underpants.

ZOE (loud enough for JAYNE to hear): Y'know, they say men are either lovers or fighters –

CLANG!! JAYNE's hatch slams shut.

ZOE (cont): Huh. He seem a mite tetchy to you?

CUT TO: INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE – LATER –

INARA is on a mat on the floor, playing an exotic stringed instrument. We stay on her a moment and enjoy the pretty music, then she pauses, as if listening. She goes back to playing, then pauses again.

INARA: Yes?

MAL enters hesitantly.

MAL: Sorry, I didn't want to interrupt. It's very – nice.

INARA stands up, picking up her instrument and putting it away.

INARA: Thank you.

MAL: Don't stop on my account. Or, is this something I have to pay for?

INARA: It is one form of entertainment I provide for my clients. Is there a reason for this visit?

MAL: Oh, yeah, well, I wanted to let you know we'll be taking Nivia and Isra with us to Beaumonde. Slavery's illegal there, and should be easy enough for them to find work.

MAL looks inquisitively around the room, and INARA looks inquisitively at MAL.

INARA: That's very kind of you. Is something wrong?

MAL: No – Nothing – I – just – Nola says I have a knowledge gap.

INARA: Come again?

MAL: Forget it.

INARA: Alright.

Beat. MAL seems a little uncomfortable, as if something else is on his mind.

INARA waits patiently.

MAL: Did you hear – Jayne had Nola's – he got hold of her –

INARA: Gun? Money?

MAL: Underwear!

INARA (laughs): Oh. Is that all?

MAL: Yeah.

INARA (amused): Did he steal them from her room or obtain them directly? Either way, I can't say I'm surprised.

MAL: Nola said he got them the usual way. Not sure what that means.

INARA's tone cools, and grows cooler as they talk.

INARA: Which bothers you more – that Jayne is stealing underwear or that he stole Nola's?

MAL: But she took them back, so what does that mean?

INARA: You didn't have a problem with Kaylee and Simon. Or Zoe and Wash.

MAL: Zoe and Wash were married.

INARA: So you're a prude.

MAL: I'm not a prude! I like grappling as much as the next person, though it seems like an age since I ... grappled.

MAL makes vaguely sexual hand gestures.

INARA: I'm not doing charity work, Mal.

An idea comes to MAL. His face lights up.

MAL: You're jealous.

INARA: I'm jealous?

MAL: C'mon, Inara, admit it. For all your grace and composure, you're not above a smidgen of jealousy.

INARA: And what reason would I have to be jealous? Countless men have stolen my lingerie. I've left a trail of silk from Newhall to Regina.

MAL (No shit?): Silk?

INARA: It breathes.

MAL steps closer to INARA.

MAL (serious): Inara, you've been on this boat a long while, and in all that time, there's a certain kind of ... attention... that hasn't been paid to you, by one of the members of this crew.

INARA catches the change in MAL's tone and posture, and seems to struggle to hold some emotions below her placid surface as he gets closer to her.

INARA: I don't know what you mean.

MAL: I conjure you're a little put off. Here you are with all your ...silk... and music and whatnot, a very talented, mysterious, and might I say, beautiful woman. And then there's Nola, who might seem a bit plain to someone like you.

INARA: Nola's lovely, Mal. She's very bright and generous –

MAL: But a bit coarse, right? A real blackberry bramble compared to a peach tree like yourself. So why would a man prefer her to you?

INARA: Really, Mal, you don't need to explain –

MAL: Must be strange, not to be able to use your siren's ways on a lughead like Jayne, but –

INARA: Jayne? My “jealousy” has nothing to do with Jayne!

MAL: So, you are jealous.

INARA: I'm – no. I didn't mean –

MAL (chuckling): Such vanity, Inara, really. But don't worry, I won't tell him.

MAL exits, chuckling.

OFF INARA's reaction –

CUT TO: EXT. SPACE –

SERENITY sails by.

END

* RIVER reads in HUGO's mind some lines from the poem Canción of the Pirate by Jose de Espronceda. Translation: My treasure is my gallant bark, My only God is liberty; My law is might, the wind my mark, My country is the sea.

NOLA BYRNE joined the crew in "Episode One; A Dream Come True." She is about 30 years old, short-cropped hair, buxom, 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 appealing. It was established in Episode Two “Back to Hell” that she is a cortex correspondent – a registered, independent reporter, in possession of various recording devices and other gadgets, as well as some special status. She is "Irish" the way Badger is "British," with accents carried over from Earth-That-Was.

HUGO PEIDRA is a 20-year-old male. He was nearly dead when River rescued him from Reavers in “Episode Three: Back to Hell.” He was traveling with a vigilante group sworn to hunt down and destroy Reavers.