Little Girl Lost - Chapter 2
Monday, September 6, 2010

Chapter 2 of my AU River story. River meets someone on the trip to Persephone who will changer her life forever.


Here's the next chapter of Little Girl Lost. All the stuff is under the cut. unbeta'd so all the grammar, spelling and other errors are my own.

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 Two


River boarded the ferry and looked around. The ship was packed with travelers. Even on a prosperous core world like Osiris, there were people who were less than wealthy. No one actually called them poor. But they were.

Most were young families and some, like her were young people trying to get away. Creating a new life, somewhere else.

Pausing on the promenade deck, River felt the rumble of the ship's engines increase. An overhead call on the public address system informed everyone that the ship was lifting in one minute and passengers and crew should prepare for takeoff.

River quickly found an open seat near the view port. Settling her luggage at her feet.

In short order, the engine's tempo increased and slowly, the transport lifted into the early morning, sunshine.

The vibration began to build as the vessel increased speed. Gaining altitude, the sky began to darken and with a last lurch, the ship broke atmo and found itself in the black.

Upon the PA call that it was okay to move about again. River made her way towards the small cabin she had been assigned.

Reaching the assigned cabin, River swiped her key card and the locked beeped as it released the latch. She slid the panel open.

“Who are you?” said a blonde haired older woman who was busily unpacking.

River froze. She hadn't expected to be assigned a roommate for the voyage, “I'm River... River Simmons.”

The woman looked at River closely. Noting her youth and wide eyed expression. The woman's annoyed expression softened.

“Didn't know I was getting a roommate,” the woman said after a moment.

“Neither did I.”

“Come on in girly. I ain't gonna bite.”

River nodded and stepped inside the small cabin, her eyes darting around nervously.

The woman looked again at the girl before her. Well bread by her clothing and carriage. Clearly out of her element though. She held out her hand, “Sadie Rosenberg. Nice to meet you.”

River smiled nervously and took the woman's offered hand, “Nice to meet you too.”

“Drop you gear in the corner and we'll get acquainted a spell. Gonna be a week before we reach Persephone,” Sadie smiled.

“Thank you,” River replied as she placed her large suitcase and backpack on the second bed.

Sadie took a seat on the other bed and looked River over head to toe. Confirming her 'fish out of water' assessment, “First time off world?”

River shook her head, “No... I've traveled before.”

“Just not on a ship like this,” Sadie observed knowingly.


“You from Osiris?”

“Ariel,” River replied.

“Nice place. Been there a time or two.”

“It is.”

“Don't say much, do you?”

River didn't know why she was so nervous. She had faced down the boy in the passenger lounge without batting an eye. Now she felt like a little girl.

“Not much to say, I guess.”

“How old are you, Sweetie?” Sadie asked.


The woman snorted in amusement, “You ain't even seventeen if you're a day. How about you tell me the truth?”

River's eyes widened in fear, “Really... I'm just...”

“Running away from home...”

River froze.

“Relax, Girly,” Sadie smiled, “I may be pushin forty. But I remember what it was like when I ran from home when I was seventeen.”


“You do something bad? Get in some trouble? A boy knock you up?”

“No!” River replied sharply. Calming herself, she continued, “Nothing like that.”

Sade smiled slightly and leaned back a bit, “Let me guess. Grew up in a rich family. Daddy , most likely has a stick up his pi-gu. Wanted you to do something you didn't want to. Arranged marriage?”

“I... look. My name is River Simmons. I'm from Ariel. I am traveling to the rim to find work as a teacher. I'm eighteen... that is it.”

“You're a bad liar, girl,” Sadie replied, her face loosing some of it friendly mien, “Sides, you better check the warrants on the cortex.”


Sadie pulled out a portable cortex unit and showed it to River. On the small screen was her own picture. River let out a little gasp.

“I'm a bounty hunter by trade, Miss Tam. There's fifty grand reward out for you. Don't know what you did to get that big a reward. So why don't you explain it to me?”

River began to cry. Sadie didn't move.

After a couple of minutes, River calmed slightly, “I'm still waiting,” Sadie said.

“Are... are you going to turn me in?”

“That depends. Warrant doesn't say what you did. Why don't you tell me?”

River took a shuddering breath to try and calm herself. Sniffling once, she began, “My family is very wealthy. I am also very smart. I graduated from the Osiris Institute of Science with degrees in Astrophysics and Mathematics at age twelve. I was accepted to the Londonium Academy of Ballet but my father refused.”

Sadie didn't let her surprise show n her face, “Why did you run?”

“Daddy was being pressured to send me to a different school. One run by the Alliance. A school for children that are gifted. I went once to visit it when I was fourteen. I... I didn't like it.”

“But the Alliance still wants you to go... don't they.”

River nodded.

“Why the reward?”

“I don't know... I mean I hacked into the Dom Sec database to create my new identity. And I took some of my trust fund...”

“How much?”

“Only a tenth of it...”

“How much?” Sadie asked again.

“One... million.”

Sadie's eyes widened slightly, “Platinum or credits?”


“Ye-soo, Girl. That's some serious coin...”

“I... I can pay you the bounty... if you let me go...”

Sadie smiled then, “Ain't gonna take your money, Girl.”


“Not gonna turn you over to the Feds either.”


Sadie smiled wide, “Sides. Like I said. You remind me of me when I was your age. I did the same gorram thing.”

“You did?” River asked incredulously.

Sadie nodded, “I grew up on Londinium. My father was a member of Parliament. Wanted me to be a companion... ha. I ran away ran to the rim. Learned how to live on my own and then I joined the Independents.”

River was now the one in shock, “You did?”

“Yep,” Sadie grinned, “I've seen just what the Alliance can do to folks. And I heard some... lets call em' rumors about some kinda special school for gifted kids. Bad things do happen there.”

River didn't know what to say. She felt justified to know that the bad feeling she had gotten about the Academy had been verified. She just didn't know what to do next.

“What happens to me now?” River asked. Knowing her life was literally in Sadie's hands.

“First off, we're gonna work on your disguise a bit. Then once we get to Persephone. I'll teach you how to shoot.”

River was shocked slightly but then began to smile slightly. “How did you know I was wanted?”

Sadie grinned, “Blind luck. I always check the wanted notices when I leave a planet. Yours popped up two minutes before you walked through the door.”



Simon was in a near panic. He paced back and forth across his living room. The sun setting across the vista of Capital City illuminating his apartment. Normally the eightieth floor view soothed the young doctor. But not today.

“River...” Simon said quietly as he dropped unceremoniously onto his expensive leather sofa.

Not knowing what to do, Simon activated his cortex unit. There were several messages waiting. Most were from colleagues or status reports on patients. At the bottom was one from a Brooke Hat.

Simon smiled slightly. Brooke was another name for a body of water and a Tam is a kind of headgear. The message must be from River.

Simon opened the message and found it a random collection of letters and numbers. Simon swore slightly. River had encrypted the message.

“Oh, Mei-mei...” Simon sighed.

Looking at the gibberish, Simon began to see patterns. Reaching for a pen and paper, he began to figure. After twenty minutes, Simon had deciphered the message.


I can no longer put up with Daddy's asinine attempts to run my life. You were always his favorite. I don't hold this against you, dear brother. You have always been my best friend, in addition to being my beloved Ge-ge. All I ever wanted to do was dance. It is the one thing that was mine alone.

It is Art. Pure and simple. But I always had to stay quiet, don't embarrass mother and father with my wild theories and made up stories. Be seen and not heard.

Be a good little girl. Don't rock the boat. Do what others want. Well I want to do what I want. Just like you, Simon. You always wanted to heal people. I want to be me.

“Don't try to find me Ge-ge. When I'm ready, I'll find you. I love you Simon. And I'll be fine.


River -

Simon reread the message several times. His heart breaking for his sister and anger building towards his father. The bastard.

River was a precious flower. Just beginning to bloom. She deserved to find her true self. But with the help and support of her family.

After a few minutes contemplation, Simon placed a wave to the hospital administrator. He had a leave of absence to arrange. Simon Tam was going to find his sister. Whether she wanted him to or not.


“You're sure this will work?” River asked as she looked at herself in the mirror.

“Trust me River. Your own Brother will have trouble spotting you now. Let alone the average Fed.”

River could barely believe her own eyes. She had always worn dresses. The only time she wore anything close to pants had been riding breeches.

Now, her legs were wrapped in the unfamiliar feel of stretch, black denim. A slightly cropped, teal t-shirt for a top and a black leather jacket completed her outfit. The most striking change had been her hair.

Sadie had colored it a deep red. River ran her fingers through her crimson tresses, “I look so different.”

“I knew there was a pretty girl under all that core rubbish.”

“Mother always dressed conservatively. As did I.”

Sadie chuckled, “My Mother was the same way.”

“I look... good,” River said with a smile.

“Gonna have to beat the boys and not a few girls, off with a stick I think.”

River rolled her eyes, “Please.”

Sadie and River had been on Persephone for nearly a week. River had kept to her cabin for the trip from Osiris, Sadie fetching her meals. As soon as they hit dirt, The older woman dragged River off to her favorite salon for the hair coloring and a bit of a haircut.

Shopping followed for a new, more practical wardrobe. Pants, shirts, boots and almost necessary for life on the rim. Sadie advised River on weapons.

“You're a little thing,” Sadie explained as she showed River how to clean her newly purchased pistol, “People are always gonna think you're a pushover. You need to have an attitude bigger than you are. And the skills to back it up.”

“I know how to defend myself, “ River replied as she snapped her pistol back together.

“You do, huh?”

“Three years of martial arts when I was a girl. I get bored easily so I had many hobbies.”

“You practiced them lately?”


Sadie sighed and led River into the back yard of her small home, just outside the city of Eavesdown, “Come on. Let's see if you can kick my pi-gu.”

After fifteen minutes, Sadie had been impressed. River's natural grace and agility made up for her lack of real world experience. Whoever had been her instructor had done well.

“Okay,” Sadie breathed hard at the smiling girl in front of her, “You win.”

“It's like dancing,” River grinned.

“I think you just may be right,” Sadie grinned, “Come on. I booked us time at the shooting range. We need to see how you handle a gun.”


River had been slightly frightened at first. But with Sadie's instruction, she became comfortable with her gun. Sadie had been impressed with River's accuracy.

“You got quite the eye, River.”

“It's just math,” River replied, “Calculate the optimal angle between targets, factoring in for the effects of gravity and wind.”

“I guess when you put it that way...”


River enjoyed her time with Sadie. She had learned so much from the older woman. Even River's sixth sense as she termed it, hadn't shown her anything nefarious in Sadie's actions.

In fact, it seemed like Sadie was grooming her as a partner in her bounty hunting business. River asked her that one night.

“Not as young as I once was, River girl,” Sadie replied over her after dinner brandy, “Be nice to have someone I could trust watching my back.”

River looked down at the cup of tea in her own hands, “I'm not sure...”

“Think about it, River,” Sadie smiled, “Between my experience and your brains, we could really clean up in this business. A few more good captures and I'll be able to afford my own ship. Then I can really make a name for myself... and you.”

River thought about it. Sadie's life was rather romantic in a way. She was very selective in the bounties she went after. No Alliance political types. Just the run of the mill scum who killed for no reason. Or robbed or did other things to harm people just trying to make their way in the 'Verse. That's also why she hadn't really acted on River's own bounty. River wasn't the kind of 'criminal' she went after.

“I'll think about it,” River said after a few minutes.

“Fair enough,” Sadie replied, “I'm off for bed. And come tomorrow, we'll figure out what to do to celebrate your birthday.”

“Sadie...” River whined.

“You're going to be seventeen, no matter what your ID says. We gotta celebrate.”

“Something small.”

“You got it, Mei-mei.”


River awoke uneasy. Something was pushing at the back of her brain. She just couldn't put her finger on what was bothering her.

Getting dressed for the day, River was surprised to not find Sadie already up. Slowly she climbed up the stairs from the small room in the basement that Sadie had let her use.

“Sadie?” River called out.

She didn't get an answer.

“So help me if you drank too much last night...” River muttered as she mounted the stairs to the second floor of Sadie's small cottage.

At the top of the stairs. River froze. On the light tan carpet was a single bloody boot print.

Fearful, River called out again, “Sadie?”

Her hands shaking, River opened the door to Sadie's bedroom.

“Sadie!” River cried out when she saw her friend lying on the bed in a pool of blood.

River rushed to her side, praying that she was alive. And knowing that she wasn't.

Sadie was still in the clothes she had been wearing before bed the night before. Horrifyingly, her pants and underwear were torn and laying at the foot of the bed. A massive gash in her abdomen exposed some of the woman's internal organs. Blood covered everything.

“No, no, no,” River repeated over and over. Sadie's now dull blue eyes stared lifelessly at the ceiling.

River didn't know what to do. She was a wanted fugitive. She just couldn't call the Feds. Suddenly she noticed a light blinking on Sadie's small portable cortex unit. I was clutched in Sadie's right hand.

Carefully, River pulled the device from her friend's stiff fingers. Hesitatingly, River pressed the play button on the screen. Sadie's bruised face suddenly appeared. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. In a weak and pained voice, she spoke.

“River... I hope you find this... I... need you to do me a favor. Find a hwoon-dahn named Jubal Early. He's the one who... killed me... I... ain't got much time left. Early's a bounty hunter. Said I crossed him,” Sadie paused as she coughed. She seemed weaker when she spoke again.

“I need you to run, River. Run as far as you can. Get your... feet under you. Then when you're ready. Get Early for me.”

Tears were running down River's face as she listened. Sadie continued, “God I wish you had really been eighteen. Never... told you but... I'm sly. Wanted you... so bad. But I... couldn't have you. I know... I'm a fool...”

“No...” River whispered.

“Take... what you... need from the house. I won't... need it anyway. Take care of yourself, River. Live... and get that bastard,” Sadie coughed on the screen again, “There's... cash in the bottom of the... storage closet. Take it...”

On the screen, Sadie's face suddenly contorted in pain, “Love you, Boa-bei... Avenge... me... River...”

The small screen went blank.

Tears in her eyes. River staggered from the room. She slid down the wall, crying.

It was almost an hour later when River began to collect herself. Steeling herself, she packed up all her belongings. Making sure to not leave any trace that she'd been there. Even making sure to take her tooth brush and anything else that might have her DNA on it.

Then she stuffed her backpack full of the cash Sadie had hidden in the storage closet. It was the money she had been saving to buy her own ship.

Blinking back tears, River set off into the early morning sunshine. She didn't look back.




Monday, September 6, 2010 3:34 PM


I like the story so far and interesting how you are weaving in bits of the show into it. I am curious how River ends up with the crew on Serenity and Simon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 2:12 AM


Plans within Plans.. I like it.. a motivation for River to learn the ways of the gun, knife, and fist, a known psycotic bounty hunter, and eventually Im guessing a beloved psycotic firefly captain.. looks like another hit in the making.. :)

Yes Please!! May we have another??

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 10:46 AM


Wow. This is amazing! Write more, quickly. I've got to know where this is going


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Quest - Chapter 31
Some more fluff as I finish off this arc. The extended Serenity families relax on the beach while waiting for the rest of the wedding guests to arrive.

Little Girl Lost - Chapter 2
Chapter 2 of my AU River story. River meets someone on the trip to Persephone who will changer her life forever.

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