Little Girl Lost
Monday, August 30, 2010

Yet another plot bunny that attacked. What would happen if River didn't go to the Academy? Drama at home leads to her running away. Will eventually include all the characters from the show but don't expect a rewrite of Season 1. Totally AU folks


Disclaimer: Joss, Fox, Universal Own em’. I’m just playing. No money being made.


A/N: Yet another plot bunny that hit me when I should be writing my other stuff. I can't help it. I get to a point where I'm struggling with one of my plot lines and another will rear it's head. This is an Alternate Universe story.

What would have happened if River hadn't attended the Academy. This is my idea.


Little Girl Lost


Chapter One


“But Daddy...”

“Hush, River,” Gabriel Tam snapped, “This discussion is over...”

Tears welled up in sixteen year old River Tam's eyes. She had so wanted to take the offer of attending Londinium's prestigious, Royal Academy of Ballet.


“No, Reagan. No daughter of mine will stoop to prancing about a stage for a living.”

“You're a hypocrite!” River screamed, “You go to the Ballet all the time!”

Gabriel Tam's face clouded with fury, “Bi zuie! Those women are one step above whores. You will not...”

“What about Companions?”

“They are different,” Gabriel replied coolly.

“Then why did you contract with several? Are they better in bed than Mom?”

“What?” Gabriel thundered, “I did no such thing...” River rolled her eyes.

“Don't deny it, Gabriel,” Reagan nearly whispered.

Gabriel Tam's face went red with fury, “River. Go to your room. I will be contacting the Academy for gifted students. You will attend that.”

River's eyes went wide with fear, “No...”

Gabriel glared down at his daughter, “Yes. You seemed more than excited to attend two years ago...”

“I didn't like it. And you can't make me go!”

“You'll go where I tell you!”


Gabriel began to raise his hand. His wife stilled him, “River... please go to your room.”

Bursting into tears, River ran up the grand staircase. Slamming the door to her room shut. The paintings in the main hallways rattled in their frames from the impact.

Even twenty meters and floor away, River could hear her parents scream at each other over the sound of her own sobs.


Hours later. Tears had given way to troubled sleep. A soft knock on the door awakened River.

“Who is it?”

“It's me, Miss River.”

“Come in...”

Elizabeth, the upstairs main entered the darkened room. It was nearing eleven at night, “Are you alright?”

River wiped her eyes and nodded, “You heard?”

“I think they heard on the rim,” Elizabeth smiled sadly.

“I don't want to go to the Academy for Gifted Students.”

“Why not,” the maid asked, “You are so smart. You remind me of my little girl.”

River smiled at Elizabeth slightly, “I miss Sarah.”

“She was one in a million. But you, my dear are one in a billion...”

River smiled slightly, “Thank you.”

“Where do you want to go?”

“Londinium. I want to dance.”

“Then you should go,” Elizabeth replied.

“Daddy forbids it,” River replied, tears beginning to form again.

“Harrumph,” Elizabeth began, “What does Simon think?”

“Ge-ge want's me to be happy.”

“Then... be happy.”

“Not that simple.”

“Did I ever tell you how I came to work here?”

Rive smiled slightly, “About a million times.”

“Then you know what to do.”


Deep in the night, River made her move. Writing a coded letter to Simon, she sent it to his apartment. Explaining what she was going to do.

Then, she packed a bag. Not much as she knew she had to travel light. Just a few dresses, underwear, her tights, her toe shoes...

That done, River snuck downstairs to her Fathers study. Once inside, she activated his secure cortex screen and pulled the keyboard close.

First, River transferred funds from her own trust fund to a secret account she had created years before. River was smart enough to play the stock market even better than her Venture Capitalist Father. Already, there was a tidy sum in the account. After five minutes work, her account was one million credits heavier and her trust fund the same lighter.

Next, River hacked into the Alliance Domestic Security database and found her own file. Working quickly, she changed her identity profile in the system. The next time she swiped her ID card at an authorized terminal. It would be updated with the new information.

Soon, River Marie Tam would be gone. And River Anne Simmons would replace her.

And River Marie Simmons was eighteen, not sixteen. And had already graduated from the Ariel Institute of Science and Mathematics. With a major in astrophysics and a minor in math.

River already had those degrees from the Osiris Institute of Science. She had been earned them at age twelve.

Her hacking done, river erased any trace of her work and slipped back upstairs to her room . With a last look around. She stuffed a few last books in her backpack and hefted the handle on her rolling suitcase.

Tears in her eyes, River quietly snuck down the back stairs and out the door. A bit of number punching in the security system's keypad and all record of her departure was erased from the system.

Tears running down her face, River slipped into the night.


Simon pulled his new sports coupe into the family driveway. It was Saturday and he had a rare day off. The life of an up and coming trauma surgeon was time consuming. He hadn't seen his Mei-mei in over a week. He planned to take her out to dinner.

Parking the hover car next to the garage, Simon entered the foyer and found it filled with people. Most wearing the uniforms of Alliance enforcement. He hadn't noticed the shuttle parked on the pad next to the tennis court.

“Who are you?” barked a man in a uniform.

“Dr. Simon Tam.”

“What is your business here?”

Simon adopted a stern visage, “My business is my own. Besides, this is my parents house.”

The uniformed man was about to speak when Reagan Tam nearly threw her self into her son's arms, “Oh, Simon.... River's gone!”


“Gone.... she's run away!”

Simon took half a step back, “Okay, mother. Let's start at the beginning,” Simon said as he felt a pit form in his stomach.

“She left a note...”

Simon took the offered paper from his mother's hand and read, “Tian xiaode...”

Gabriel then entered the Foyer from his study off the living room, “Son...”

“What the hell did you do to her?” Simon snapped.

“Now see here...”

“No. you see here, Dad. You know River has always wanted to Dance. And you took that away from her? Are you insane?”

“Don't take that tone with me...”

“I'll take any tone I wish when it comes to my sister. Now tell me what's been done to find her.”

“Dr. Tam?” asked an older Alliance man. He was dressed civilian clothing and looked to be in charge.


“How smart is your sister.”

“Not as smart as she'll be when we get her back...”

“Gabriel!” Reagan admonished.

Simon sighed, “She graduated from university with a degree in astrophysics at age twelve...”

“That's what I'm afraid of,” The investigator sighed, “It looks like your sister hacked her own federal ID profile. As far as the Alliance Dom-Sec system is concerned, your sister doesn't exist.”


“Gone... poof. Into thin air. And we don't know what identity she used to replace her own.”

“Son of a bitch...”

“It get's worse...”


“She is now wanted for grand theft.”

“Of what?”

“One million credits of her trust fund,” Gabriel snarled.

Simon scoffed, “That little? It's over ten times that amount.”

“The law is clear, Dr. Tam,” the investigator said, “Your sister is now a wanted fugitive...”


River had walked the six blocks to the nearest metro station. The sun was just rising and she had the car to herself. A change of trains in central Capital City and she found herself at the massive port facilities on the outskirts of town.

River knew she couldn't go to Londinium. That would be the first place they would look. The same for the rest of the central planets. She needed to head for the rim. Perhaps Persephone.

While outer core, it was the way station to the rim. Built up enough to get lost in the population for a time before she figured out what she wanted to do. Maybe she could teach.

River smiled to herself. Imagining herself standing in front of a class of children on some rustic backwater.

Or maybe a ship. River always had a love for things mechanical. And flying in space was a practical application of her degrees.

“River Tam. Space pirate,” She giggled softly.

After a bit of searching, she found the proper area of the passenger concourse. While she had traveled before as a girl with her family. It had always been luxury liners or chartered yachts.

Never had she traveled on such a small liner. A ferry really. Flying between the core and Persephone. The fare was cheap and the service nearly non existent. Cafeteria food and a small cabin she would most likely have to share with a stranger.

After what seemed like hours but was only twenty minutes or so, River found herself at the ticket counter.

“Destination?” Asked the bored clerk.



River swiped her ID card. After a moment as her hacking took hold. The screen beeped and her new information appeared on the screen. River Anne Simmons. Age 18 Born on Ariel. Both parents deceased. No siblings.

The clerk smiled at her, “That will be two hundred fifty credits. All meals will be paid for aboard during the voyage.”

River swiped her bank chit. The system debiting her account. “Gate forty two. Departure is in two hours.”

“Thank you,” River smiled as she gathered her luggage. Slowly she made her way towards the indicated gate on her ticket.

After finding the gate, River sat down on a bench to wait. To keep herself occupied, she counted the ceiling tiles and then calculated the ratio of ceiling to floor tiles to the eighth integer. That took all of five minutes.

In the corner, a cortex screen was tuned to the local news station. The same old stories about how great the Core economy was and how the savage rim worlds refused Alliance help.

With a sigh, River pulled a book out of her pack. Flipping to her bookmark, she delved back into the eightieth reprinting of Stephen King's Dark Tower compilation. A voice to her right broke River away from her reading.

“Travel to Persephone often?”

River looked over the top of her book to see a young man. Aged about eighteen or so. Dressed in casual clothing

River blinked hard. Images flooding her brain. It has happened before. When she had the tour of the Academy for Gifted Students, she saw flashes of pain and foreboding. That's why she had turned down the offer.

Right now, she was seeing images and feeling sensations of what seemed like hands on her flesh. It made her skin crawl.

“Not really,” she replied warily.

“I live there.”

“That's nice.”

“I could show you around...”

“No thank you.”

The young man leaned closer to River, “Sure about that? A piào liang girl like you might need some... protection. Eavesdown can be kinda rough.”

River lowered her book and glared at the young man. Another burst of images seemed to tell her that she needed protection from this young man, Rather then he protecting her from others, “Go away.”

“And if I don't?”

“If you don't, I will shatter your distal phalanges.”

“My what?”

“I'll break your fingers.”

“Ha! Little thing like you... urk!”

River's left hand shot out, catching the boys adams apple with a short jab. Making him reel. River reached out and grabbed the fingers of his right hand, bending them backwards, just short of the breaking point, “Leave now,” she snarled.

Still choking, the boy beat a hasty exit. With a sigh, River tried to relax. The adrenalin in her system slowly bleeding away.

“Thank you Master, Cho,” she whispered. A smile on her lips as she recalled the Kung-Fu lessons she took years ago.


His pride wounded, not to mention his sore throat and fingers, Jake Tebbits fumed and stared at the cortex screen. His employer was going to be mad. He had to bring in two girls a day to his Boss.

He'd gotten one already this morning. But the cute little thing he had just tried to get his hands on hadn't worked out.

Slaving was a hard business. And he knew his Boss was going to take it out of his hide if he didn't get a second girl.

A flash of a face on the nearby Cortex screen caught his attention, “Son of a bitch...”

The face on the screen was the girl he had tried to get. The one who had nearly broken his fingers.

He looked around the waiting room and swore. The flight to Persephone had just boarded and taken off. She was gone.

“Damn,” Jake muttered, “River Tam. Wanted for Grand Theft. Fifty grand reward,” That girl might have just been his ticket back to Persephone. And she had just walked out the door to the boarding ramp, “Damn!”




Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:15 AM


Love this (as you know). I'm just wondering if the rest of the gang are going to be who they usually are ... and if Mal is going to be happy taking on board a perfectly normal River Tam (no matter what name she's going under!). Oh, be good if she actually knows Inara ...

Thursday, September 2, 2010 1:14 PM


Loved it as well, Brian. I second Jane's questions, too. She's not the little innocent any longer.

Thursday, September 2, 2010 5:11 PM


It was very interesting, I am very curious what directions you are going to take this. That and how you plan to get River to be part of the crew.

Thursday, September 2, 2010 5:11 PM


It was very interesting, I am very curious what directions you are going to take this. That and how you plan to get River to be part of the crew.


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