Firefly: Family - Chapter 1
Sunday, November 13, 2011

Serenity's crew delivers their cargo while the Tams wonder what has become of their parents.


Chapter 1

“River…meimei, are you alright?” Simon asked as he stepped onto Serenity’s bridge.

River continued to stare at the cortex screen on the pilot’s console, “I can’t find them…anywhere.”

“Can’t find who?” Simon inquired taking the co-pilot’s seat and looked at his sister worriedly.

“Our progenitors, the ones we called mom and dad,” River said looking up at her bother.


She once again looked at the screen, her hand typing away at the keyboard, “They’re gone, like we are.”

River had gone on the cortex wanting to see her parent’s faces. Instead she found no trace of them. Just as any evidence of Simon’s and hers existence was gone, so too was any trace of her parents. Even their family estate had different owners listed.

“I’m sure they’re all right,” Simon tried to comfort.

“Lair!” River snapped back, “You think they’re dead. You’re not upset.”

“No, I’m not.” Simon said as he stood, “They left you. Neither of them would believe me. All they could think about was their perfect little lives. I…I can’t feel for them after that.”

Tears swelled in his sister’s eyes, “They’re still our parents.”

“They stopped being that when they stopped caring,” the Doctor stated as he walked off the bridge.

River Tam looked out into the blackness of space as she sobbed, “They never stopped caring.”



“…I understand I was hard on her,” Mal explained as he leaned back in his chair and took a sip from his cup, “but she’s the only one on this ship that seems to forget that things need done before playing around.”

“I’m not taking her side, Mal. I just think you could have handled it a bit different,” Inara explained as she moved from the cooking area to the table with her cup of tea.

“She knew full well she was to have that water pump fixed ‘fore anything else,” Mal calmly argued.

Inara sat down next to him, “You did walk in on her and Simon, then yelled at her while she was naked.”

“Alright, might’ve been best to let her dress, but it ain’t like I busted into one of their bunks, they were in the ruttin’…” the Captain stopped himself, “they were in the engine room.”

Inara smiled at his almost pun.

“I apologize for that, Captain.” Simon said as he entered the galley.

“Other than for your part in choosing that particular venue, Doc, I’m not that upset with you. You’re not responsible for Kaylee getting her work done. Folks would’ve been a might upset had there was no water for the toilets this morning,” Mal commented.

As he did River ran through the galley heading to her room. It was obvious that she was crying.

“River, what’s wrong honey?” Inara called as she got up and followed after her.

“Doc?” Mal questioned.

“She’s upset because she can’t find any trace of our parents on the Cortex.”

“And she’s thinking the Alliance might not leave people who no longer exist skipping along on a Core World like Osiris,” Mal added ominously.

“You yellin’ at everyone today, Cap’n’?” Jayne asked as he entered.


“Just passed River, girls all upset, had Inara chasing after her. Just figured you yelled at her like you yelled at Kaylee,” Jayne explained as he grabbed his cup from the storage bins.

“I didn’t yell at her, Jayne, but if you like I could find something to yell at you about,” the Captain said as he took a drink.

“For what, I wasn’t ruttin’ in the engine room instead of doing my work.” Jayne smiled.

Simon looked at Mal annoyed.

“Don’t look at me, Doc, I didn’t say a word.”

“I overheard Kaylee telling Zoe all about it,” Jayne said as he poured himself some coffee.

Mal and Simon both looked at him wanting further explanation.

“What, t’aint like I was eavesdropping. They were talking about it our loud while we tended them cows.” he explained.

Upon realizing that the entire crew knew what had happened Simon’s mouth gapped slightly as a dejected look came over his face. Without another word he turned and walked out of the galley.

“Yup, going to be one of those days,” Mal said to himself as he finished his coffee.



“River,” Inara said gently as she slid open the door to the girl’s room, “what’s wrong dear?”

River was sitting on her bed sobbing, “Faces blurred in all my memories, like smudges on glass, need a picture to wipe it away and see through clearly, but they’re gone. All of them are gone.”

Inara sat down next to her and wrapped an arm around her, “I don’t understand xiao meimei.”

River took a deep breath trying to claim herself. “My parents, I can’t find a picture of them. Pictures, information it’s all gone from the Cortex. I…I can’t see their faces in my mind. Trying to remember but can’t. I need to remember,” She said with desperation in her voice.

“Maybe Simon has a picture of them.”

“He doesn’t, I already went through all his stuff,” River replied with slight grin.

“I’m sure you will remember later on, sometimes it hard to remember something when you’re really trying,” Inara comforted.

Tears once again welled up in River’s eyes. “Maybe,” she said as Inara pulled her closer.



“Hey,” Simon said as he entered the engine room.

“Hey hun,” Kaylee cheerfully replied from under the rotating engine.

Simon walked over and leaned against the wall near her. “It seems that the whole ship heard about this morning,” Simon commented sullenly.

“The Captain was being mean,” Kaylee replied.

“So you had to tell everyone?” Simon asked.

Kaylee slid out from under the engine, “He was being unfair!”

“No he wasn’t, you should have fixed the pump before…”

“Before what,” Kaylee snapped.

“Nothing,” Simon said dropping his eyes, “forget it.”

“You mean before we had sex, is that it?”

“Please stop, I don’t want to argue,” Simon pleaded.

“Why, ‘cause your being a hwoon dahn?”

“Just stop!” Simon snapped sharply.

Kalyee was a bit taken back by the anger in his voice. She noticed Simon’s eyes had dropped apprehensively to the floor.

“Shuh-muh, Simon. What’s bothering you?” Kaylee asked as she as she stood up in front of Simon.

Simon shook his head, “It’s River, she’s worried about our parents.”

“Why, did something happen?”

“She, um, can’t find any trace of them on the Cortex.” Simon explained soberly.

“Is she okay…I mean…” Kaylee started.

“She’s upset…partly because I’m not.” Simon explained.

“Because you’re angry with them…right?”

Simon looked up at her, “They just left her in that place even after I showed them she was calling for help.”

“I’m so sorry,” Kaylee tried to comfort as she wrapped her arms around Simon.

Simon hugged her back, yet inside him the anger for his parents remained.



“Happy birthday, River,” Gabriel Tam said to his young daughter.

“So, how does it feel to finally be a teenager,” Regan Tam asked her.

River smiled as she looked over her birthday cake, “Not very different.”

“Well go ahead cut the cake,” Gabriel said handing his daughter a knife.

The young girl took the knife, and before Simon’s eyes her clothing changed from her school uniform to a hospital gown.

“River, don’t,” Simon called.

“She’s fine, Simon,” his Mother said.

River took the knife and started cutting the cake. As she did blood poured from the incision.

“No, stop!” Simon pleaded.

“Doc…Doctor….Simon!” Zoe called as she shook the Doctor by the shoulder.

“What,” Simon said as he jolted awake. He realized he had fallen asleep in one of the common area chairs. His medical notebook was open in his lap.

“You okay, Doc?” Zoe asked, “Looked like you were having quite the dream.”

Yes, but I’m…um, fine,” he replied.

“Kaylee still keeping you up at night?” Zoe asked with a smirk.

“No…well yes, but that’s not it, just haven’t been sleeping well. I’m sorry.”

“No problem, Doc, you should get straightened around pretty soon though. We’ll be landing in a couple hours,” Zoe suggested as she headed into the cargo bay.

Simon quickly got up to follow, “I wanted to talk to you about that…”



The early morning sun was still casting long shadows as the crew of Serenity finished setting up their temporary corral about fifty meters outside of the ship.

“Jayne, get that last piece set in so we can start unloading the heard,” the Captain ordered as he headed back to the ship.

Once he was done Mal lowered the cargo bay doors and he and the crew lead the cattle into the corral.

“When is the buyer supposed to be here, Sir?” Zoe asked as she tied shut together the open sections of the corral.

“I reckon that’s them coming up,” Mal answered pointing out to two riders on horseback, three other horses were being lead behind them.

“Cap’n,” Kaylee called as she walked up behind Mal.

“Yes,” Mal responded turning to face her.

“You goin’ to help the buyer drive the cows to their ranch, right?”

“Yes, that’s the plan…if everything goes smooth,”

“Well, once your off can me and River go with Inara into town?” the mechanic asked with hope in her eyes.

“Didn’t you say that once we landed you were going to replace the grav’…um…thing-a-ma-who.” Mal asked.

“The grav’ compensator…so after that’s done?” she asked realizing that she did not really have a choice.

“Sure, have River help you,” Mal said with a half smile.

Kaylee leaned up and gave him a quick kiss on the check, “Thank you, Cap’n.”

“So, you two made up, Sir,” Zoe inquired with a smile.

Mal turned, “Well, who could stay mad at a face like this.”

“Don’t know, Sir.”

“Hey, how come we didn’t just set the ship down right on the ruttin’ ranch, ‘stead of having to help move them beasts?” Jayne asked as he walked up.

“Cause my ranch is well irrigated, helps the grass grow,” the women on one horses answered as she rode up. “A ship like that would kinda sink on softer ground. Not to mention you’d break that irrigation system.”

Mal, Zoe and Jayne all turned towards the women as she dismounted. She was in her late thirties or early forties. As she removed her wide brim hat long red hair spilled out. Freckles, and a few age lines, dotted the lily white skin of her face. She wore the clothing of a rancher, and had a dark revolver at her hip.

“You must be Miss Larson,” Mal stated as he looked her over.

“Yes, and you must be Captain Reynolds,” the women responded.

“Call me Mal. This here is my first mate Zoe, and that there is Jayne…my public relations specialist,” Mal said sarcastically.

“I take it that’s nice way of saying gun hand,” the women laughed.

Mal simply smiled.

“Ya’ll can call me Paige, this is Mr. Nong my head hand,” the women said gesturing back to the cowboy on one of the horses behind her.

“Ni hao,” Mr. Nong greeted.

“Now that we’re all friends let’s get down to merchandising,” Mal suggested.

Paige reached down to her belt and untied a small pouch, obviously filled with coins. “Well I count the twenty head I was promised so,” she tosses the pouch over to Mal, who seemed surprised by its weight, “there’s seven twenty.”

“Jayne,” Mal called as he tossed the pouch back to the big merc.

“That one of yours,” Paige asked motioning towards Serenity.

Mal took a quick glance and noticed Simon heading their way. He waited until the Doc was a bit closer, “This is Simon, ship’s doctor, Simon this is Paige and Mr. Nong.”

“Please to meet you,” Simon said courteously.

“Don’t think I recall ever seeing a doctor carrying a pea-shooter before,” Paige commented at the pistol tucked in its holster under Simon’s arm.

Simon had traded his usual attire for a pair of jeans and a black longed sleeved work shirt.

“The Doc going to be helping us dive them steers,” Mal responded.

“What?” Jayne piped up as he counted the money, “Can he even ride?”

“Yes, I took riding lessons for many years on Osiris,” the Doctor responded.

“Osiris, hardly would have pegged you for Core raised,” Paige injected.

“Um, thanks,” Simon responded unsure if that was a complement.

“All there,” Jayne said as he handed the pouch back to the Captain. “There’s only three extra horses, how the Doc going to go?”

“Simple, you’re not, Jayne.” Zoe answered.

“Fine with me, that just means I can go find some tasty at that whore house,” Jayne smiled.

“You mean the Heart of Gold?” Paige asked.

“That be the one,” Jayne said almost nostalgicly.

“After you clean out the bay,” the Captain ordered.

“Ah, come on, Mal,” Jayne whined.

Mal added, “Then wait for Kaylee and the girls so they can drop you off with the Mule, less you want to walk.”

Jayne grumbled under his breath as he headed back to the ship.



The warm sun’s rays and the occasional cool breeze felt good against Simon’s face. Combined with the feeling of the horse beneath him it brought back memories he had not thought about for many years. His mother had started him with riding lessons when he was ten. Every weekend until he was sixteen his mother would diver him out to small stables where he would ride. Of course those lessons were more geared towards equestrian competitions, somehow now all that pomp and circumstance seemed silly to him. Now he found himself driving cattle, which turned out to be relatively simple. Somehow he could still hear his mother reminding him to keep a good posture. She’d be appalled to see him riding without a helmet, not to mention with a loaded pistol at his side.

Truth be told even with all the anger he held for his parents he could still feel a fondness for times before River went to the Academy. He wondered if River could sense that in him or if his anger covered it up? He was still angry. Part of him even hated them now, especially his father.

Had it not been for his dad’s bull headedness and refusal to listen to anything regarding River, he might have been able to convince his mother. His father would hear none of it. All he worried about was his standing within the high society circles they belonged to. Anything that threatened that standing would not stand.

“Doc, you daydreaming?” Paige asked as she rode up along side of him.

“I’m sorry,” he replied.

“Not to worry, I do a might bit of thinking while riding to. Just don’t get to wide,” The redheaded women said as she headed to the front of the herd.

“Shi,” Simon replied.

Paige rode up alongside Mal near the front, “Your Core bred doctor is not doing bad at all, a little stiff in the saddle, but not bad.”

“Well we’ve been corrupting him for some time now, I even think I heard him swear once,” Mal said jokingly.

“I think people come out here and learn what living truly is,” she replied.

“Is that what happened to you?”

“How’d you know?” Paige inquired.

Mal smiled, “You seem to enjoy it more them most. Figured you’ve experienced that other life, appreciate this one more now.”

“Well I get to appreciate it more since you and yours helped get rid of Burgess.”

Mal looked at her surprised.

“What, you expected no one would remember that. You folks are a bit of hero’s around these parts,” Paige explained.

“So the town divided up his money and now has funds for some cattle,” Mal stated.

“Close to,” Paige started, “After Burgess was killed his widow tried to hightail it off this moon. Some of us folk took exception to that. In the end she agreed to leave us with about sixty percent, quit a large chunk. I reckon she’s on some private estate in the Core livin’ it up.”

“Well, glad we could help,” Mal said sardonically.

He still felt as if he had failed that last time he was here. He had let Nandi die and managed to drive Inara away in one fell swoop.

“Yup, even held some elections to put up a town council and a new Sheriff, only have had problems with one bunch,” Paige continued.

“What kind of trouble?” Mal questioned worriedly.

“Nothing to serious,” Paige said trying to ease the Captain, “The Ander bothers have a small group that causes some trouble in town once in a while. Mainly getting drunk and starting some fights.”

“Don’t you just hate folk like that,” Mal said trying to keep his sarcastic tone from being to obvious.



Jayne Cobb struggled to fine an empty hook on the hat rack as he entered the Heart of Gold. The place was busy with potential clients talking up the girls and boys.

“You have the check that pistol in at the sideboard,” a voice called.

Jayne turned to see a beautiful, thin, dark haired woman approaching him.

“Mr. Cobb, is that you?” she asked.

“Petaline…you lost that baby weight real nice like,” Jayne complemented.

“Thank you, Mr. Cobb, feel free to enjoy yourself on the house,” said Petaline.

“Seriously?” Jayne questioned not believing his luck.

Petaline smiled, “If it wasn’t for you and your friends I wouldn’t have my son.

“Well then…”

Before he can finish Helen raced up and jumped on him, wrapping her legs around his waist, “thought I’d never see you again,” she exclaimed as she started to kiss his face.

“Whoa, slow down girl,” he said as he headed upstairs still carrying her.

The door to the bedroom busted open with a thud as Jayne stumbled in with Helen still attached to him. Jayne attempted to sit down on the bed but at the last moment Helen shifted her weight causing Jayne to fall onto the bed, with her on top of him.

“Easy, girl…” he asked as he slid a hand up the right side of her face, “what the?”

Helen suddenly jerked away from his touch. Jayne Cobb may not have had the best mind in the Verse, but his hands sure could remember a lot. They defiantly did not remember a scar on this girl’s cheek.

“What’s that from?” Jayne asked sincerely.

“Nothing,” Helen said obviously embarrassed.

Jayne sat up, “t’aint nothing then why’d you stop?”

“The eldest Ander brother, Marcus, got drunk the one night, tried to leave without paying. Cut me,”

“Did someone leave that jung chi duh go-se dway in a pool of his own blood?”

“Petaline and his brothers got him out, she told them never to come back, they haven’t,” Helen explained.

Jayne brushed her hair away from her cheek, “Don’t look bad, ‘sides take more than that little scratch to bring you anywheres away from beautiful.”

Helen smiled at his comment.

“Maybe later I’ll take you dancin’,” Jayne added.


“Yeah, and if we run into that fella that cut on you…well,” he said with an evil grin.


Sunday, November 13, 2011 5:22 PM


I like the premise of this. When I read the shooting script for Safe, I also thought that maybe it was suggested that Simon's parents were terrified, had been coerced into sending River to the Academy, and thought that Simon might be killed if he kept trying to save her.

Sunday, November 13, 2011 7:33 PM


“I didn’t yell her, Jayne, but if you like I could find something to yell at you about,” the Captain said as he took a drink.--had me laughing with that line. I like the changes that Rance Burgess's demise have wrought on...whatever planet this is where Heart of Gold is located. Also, I like it that you're taking some of the details about River and Simon's family life from Safe and using them to further your story. I'm supposing we'll be finding out more of River and Simon's backstory before the Academy. You've got a number of interesting threads started with this story, and I'm interested to see where it goes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:46 PM



Tuesday, November 15, 2011 3:27 PM


Thank you everyone.

Sunday, November 20, 2011 8:56 PM


I hope Jayne gets his chance to meet up with Marcus.


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