The New 'Verse - Chapter I
Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Miranda Wave has been sent out, and life still goes on out there on the raggedy edge. Now, River is trying to piece together the broken parts of herself. S/K, hints of M/I.



“She always did love to dance,” he said with a smile as River moved gracefully through the now-empty cargo bay. Her hands and feet moved in perfect synch, and she seemed to glide from one pose into the next, her movements so effortless and sure that he couldn’t help but think of a silk scarf, rippling in the wind.

Kaylee stood beside him on the steel catwalk above the cargo bay, their hips and shoulders touching. Kaylee leaned into the doc comfortably and smiled down at River. The teenager was rocking back and forth on her heels, her hands pushing an invisible ball through the recycled air of the hold. “Wish I could move like that, she’s so graceful,” Kaylee said wistfully. “Though I can’t never recall seeing a dance as looked like that before.”

There was a rustle of silk from the starboard side of the ship, and the two of them turned to see Inara step down on to the catwalk. “That’s because it isn’t a dance,” she told them with a smile. “Not exactly. It’s actually a form of martial arts. Watch how she moves her body and hands. Now, imagine her moving at three or four times that speed – see how she is rolling with a blow, and then throwing her opponent when she moves her hips like that?”

The three of them looked down at River, Simon and Kaylee now watching the movements of her hands and feet with a new appreciation. They didn’t even look up when there was a regular tread of boots on metal behind them. “Martial arts forms, huh?” Zoë asked as she, too, leaned over the rail to watch. “I used to do a bit of that, a long time ago. Don’t know that one she’s doing down there, though – wonder what style she’s using…”

“It’s all very impressive and somesuch,” Jayne groused from the galley door, “but it ain’t gonna be worth much of nothing ‘gainst some hundan with a piece.” He took a bite out of the freeze-dried grain bar he had stolen from the pantry and ambled on over, watching curiously as River began twirling about with her legs moving in graceful, sweeping crescent kicks.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure about that, Jayne,” Zoë said mildly as the big mercenary leaned against a support and peered over the railing for a better view. “You recall a little incident in a bar, not too long ago? I’ve seen her fight, same as you, and I bet she could get out of the way of bullets pretty well.”

“Could we not talk about my mei-mei and bullets, please? Ever?” Simon complained.

“Relax, doc,” Jayne said around a mouthful of grain bar. “’Snot like any of us are aiming to but a bullet into her. Leastways, not until she decides to play punching bag with our heads again. Or, you know, slash us with carving knives or somethin’.”

Simon tightened his lips in annoyance. Before he could say anything, however, Kaylee placed a hand on his arm, and Simon merely settled for sending the larger man a glare, which was cheerfully ignored, and then turning back to watch his sister.

“The cap oughtn’t miss this, I bet he’d think it was pretty shiny,” Kaylee said with a grin as River moved without any seeming effort into a series of sweeping hand motions, twisting her body away from a series of imagined attacks.

Kaylee gave a little yelp of surprise when she felt a hand on her shoulder that she knew wasn’t Simon. Everybody’s heads turned away from River and towards the noise, and the saw Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Serenity, looking at all of them with a slightly annoyed expression his face. “Is there a reason my entire crew is standing in the cargo bay when they should be running my ship?” he asked.

Mal looked down from the catwalk. “And is there a reason why my gorram pilot is cavortin’ about in her bare feet on my cargo deck when she oughtta be piloting?”

Everyone was surprised when River’s voice wafted up from below them, sounding slightly put-out. “Serenity is on autopilot,” she sing-songed, never breaking her fluid motions and never looking up at the gathering on the catwalk. “She will continue to be on autopilot for another three hours and sixteen minutes because the pilot has set in the course she was told to make. Until she is needed, the pilot may do what she wishes. Simon and Captain both said so.”

Mal opened his mouth for a moment, then closed it again. He looked about at his crew, who looked back at him. Inara arched her eyebrows in a challenge and Zoë simply looked impassive. “Don’t you all have things to be doing?” he asked, but his resigned tone told them all that he already knew the answer.

“Engine’s running as well as she ever does, Cap’n.” Wide-eyed innocence.

“Is someone hurt that I don’t know about?” Smirking slightly.

“Seems like everything is under control, sir.” A glimmer of humor behind her studiously neutral expression.

“I don’t see any hundan what needs shootin’.” Grinning openly.

“I suppose I could always go file my nails back in my shuttle, if you’d like someone to leave.” Her expression a silent dare.

Mal knew better than to take Inara up on that dare, especially not with everything going so smooth – relatively – between them of late. “No, no,” he said, raising his hands in surrender. “I don’t reckon that’ll be necessary. I’ll just leave you all to your watching, and our little reader to her… what is it that she’s doing, anyways?”

“Martial arts, apparently,” Simon said, looking away from the captain and back down at the cargo bay.

Mal looked disapprovingly as Kaylee leaned back into the young doctor and Simon gave her a quick squeeze, looking more comfortable and casual than Mal had ever seen him outside of an infirmary. “Thank you, Doc. I can see that. My real question is, why?”

“Why don’t you ask her?” Inara asked, her gaze still focused on River.

Mal seemed to ponder that for a moment. “You know, I believe you are right. Lil’ Albatross,” he called down, “why are you twirling yourself around my flight deck in your bare feet?” Inara could tell he was both amused and intrigued, though he hid his interest behind a tone of mild annoyance.

River finished her last step and wound up in a ready pose, her feet apart and her hands balled into fists directly in front of her. “Body knows the steps, Captain,” she answered back dispassionately. “Programmed the moves into the deepest parts of her brain, to be called forth when needed. River the weapon.”

“Against the reavers, she was helpless at first – she was River the girl,” River continued with a frown. “Couldn’t fight until adrenaline reached a certain threshold, fear hormones and aggression triggers… until her brother had already been shot. Activated the programming. Now, body is teaching the brain.” She looked up at all of them as they stood up on the catwalk. “River the girl will fight when she wants… when I want to, not when the Academy says I should be the weapon again.”

Simon sent Kaylee an alarmed look, but Inara saw that Mal, Zoë and even Jayne were nodding approvingly. “That seems like a fine idea,” Mal said.

“Thank you.” River grinned hugely. “I thought so myself. But I’m done for now. Show’s over.” She waved dismissively at the rest of them. “Unless Kaylee wants to play some jacks?”

River looked up so hopefully that Kaylee gave a little laugh. “Let me see if I can find ‘em, River, then we can play.”

She wiggled out of Simon’s hug, leaning in to kiss him quickly. “Don’t you fret about River, Simon,” she murmured to him. “She’s just learning how to be her, again, ya know? The real her.”

“I wasn’t worried,” Simon whispered back, unconvincingly. “Not really. It’s just… she’s been doing so well, lately, I’m not sure she ought to be dredging up those implanted memories. Who knows if it could trigger a relapse?”

“You an’ her can lick any problems as show up, I’m sure.”

Simon smiled distractedly, his brow furrowed in thought. River’s words about being in control of when and where she fought tugged at something, something that he’d been putting aside. Blinking momentarily to bring himself back to where he was, he kissed Kaylee briefly. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, bao bei. You go have fun – and try to win, will you? She’s an unbearable braggart when she wins, which is nearly always. Do her some good to come in second for once.”

Kaylee giggled, and leaned in to kiss him again, when River’s voice came up from the cargo bay. She sounded annoyed. “You can kiss my brother later, Kaylee! You promised to play jacks with me, remember?”

The mechanic’s eyes sparked with mischief at the challenge. “Oh, she is going down,” she promised Simon. “Going to get the jacks now, River!” With that, she headed out of the cargo bay towards her room, River running up the metal ladderwell to join her. Simon felt that smile tug at the corner of his lips again.

Jayne had already left, seeking entertainment elsewhere, and the captain and Zoë were speaking in low tones with each other – undoubtedly discussing upcoming prospects for work, criminal or otherwise. Inara, on the other hand, was gathering her dress about her, probably planning to retreat to her shuttle, and the doctor quickly moved over to intercept her. The two of them reached the entrance to Inara’s shuttle simultaneously. “Inara,” Simon asked politely, “could you spare me a moment? I think there is something you could help me with.”

If the Companion was surprised by Simon’s request, she didn’t let it show. “Certainly,” she replied, equally courteous. “Please step into my shuttle.”


Sunday, July 23, 2006 5:22 AM


Well this is definitely an interesting start! I can't wait to read more, you've piqued my interest! I wonder what Simon wants help from Inara for, and I enjoyed River's descriptiion of herself and the way she spoke in the third person, then converted when she realized that it was about the new her, I liked that change. I can't wait to see how you write the specific relationships in this story,your take on Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara, and the way Zoe is dealing with her loss of Wash. Looking forward to your next post!

Sunday, July 23, 2006 5:51 AM


Very interesting - I hope that Simon is seeking help from Inara on something wonderfully surprising for Kaylee - I love it when he gets all romantic! *sigh*

And I'm dying to see how River's new understanding of herself will lead to a new understanding of her role in the 'verse and as a member of the crew. Post more soon please!

Sunday, July 23, 2006 2:05 PM


Well now...gotta admire River's desire and efforts to override the subliminal triggers the Academy implanted into her. Like she said, River needs to be able to fight when the moment's at hand...not when her body reaches a straining point.

Shiny stuff, TalynDerre...can't wait for part 2;)


Sunday, July 23, 2006 6:47 PM


Ohh, nice start. I love that they are all watching River dance. And what could Simon possibly want with Inara? Help with something for Kaylee?

Looking forward to more!

Monday, July 24, 2006 12:33 PM


Off to a nice start. Hope to see more from you.

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:18 AM




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The New 'Verse - Chapter II
The Miranda Wave has been sent out, and life still goes on out there on the raggedy edge. Now, Inara helps Simon as only she can. S/K, hints of M/I.

The New 'Verse - Chapter I
The Miranda Wave has been sent out, and life still goes on out there on the raggedy edge. Now, River is trying to piece together the broken parts of herself. S/K, hints of M/I.