ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (06)
Saturday, March 9, 2013

In which some secrets are revealed. Saffron calls upon her husband (which one? you ask), and Mal talks out his woman troubles.



Part (06)

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The series so far:

In which some secrets are revealed. Saffron calls upon her husband (which one? you ask), and Mal talks out his woman troubles.

* * *

After a quick furtive look to be sure no one was watching him, Jayne swung open the hatch to his bunk and dropped down. Soon as he could reach it, he slapped his hand on the control to close the hatch, hoping that no one had seen or heard anything.

Pee-yoo! Doc weren’t kidding about the obnoxious floozy. Kaylee had tipped him off that what the Doc really meant by that was the smell, though Jayne didn’t know why he couldn’t just call it that, ’stead of usin’ one of his ten-credit words. Even Jayne had to admit that his bunk was far riper than usual.

It had been more of a challenge than he’d imagined it would be, when he first had the notion. Seemed like it would be easy. Just move ’em on in, let ’em do their thing, and enjoy the benefits.

But no. It weren’t so hard movin’ ’em in and settin’ ’em up in a nice ol’ bunch of bedding. But then the trouble started. Had to be real careful, lifting supplies on the quiet from the cargo bay, not too much at a time, so Mal wouldn’t get suspicious. He’d thought he could dispose of the waste in his private head, but that turned out to be a bust, since the gorram thing clogged up the first time he tried it, and he had to swipe some of Kaylee’s tools surrepti—syrup—secretly, to fix the gorram plumbing. After that, there was nothin’ for it but to carry the waste over to the septic vac tank in the cargo bay, the one that had been installed when they transported all them cows to Beylix. No problem with capacity—the gorram thing was huge—but Jayne had found it weren’t so easy to get the stuff there. Could only pack a little bit at a time, which meant lots of trips, and each and every time he had to watch out for the others so’s he wouldn’t get caught.

The noises was a bit of a problem, but he’d solved that by settin’ his favorite music wave on continuous play. The Juggling Geese was precisely the right band to provide cover, on account of the noises just blended right in with their songs. The first night he struggled, tryin’ to sleep with the music on, but Jayne reckoned himself for a champion sleeper. Could sleep through just about anything, anywheres and anytimes. That night he fell asleep before they did, but they started up loud again at the crack a’ dawn. He didn’t want to take no chances. Took him a while to find the right rhythm.

And he never woulda guessed at how bad the smell could get. It was, in every sense of the word, foul. Jayne almost wondered if he should just come clean about the whole business, so as to get more air circulation and ease the whole clean-up process. But that would mean sharing with the others, and he weren’t ready to do that. Better to keep it secret. So he kept his secret.

Not like there was all that much to share, neither. Just enough for him. Luckily, it cooked up quick and easy, and he was in and out of the galley in the dead of night afore anyone knew he’d been there. And luckily, Mal was well taken up with Inara, makin’ up or whatever it was they were callin’ their humpin’ this time around, so for now he was safe from Mal’s nighttime prowling.

So it weren’t easy. He had to work for it. Had to suffer for it. But oh, so worth it. So tasty. So dee-licious. It was a tough job, keeping Kung Pao Chicken and General Tso Chicken in his bunk day after day, but Jayne Cobb was a tough man.

“Here ya go,” Jayne called, opening the lid of the box. “Brought ya somethin’ tasty.” He sprinkled a handful of chicken scratch onto the straw in the bottom of the box. General Tso and Kung Pao regarded him with curious beady-eyed stares, and began scratching and pecking. Jayne reached in and retrieved the two eggs they had laid.

* * *

“You know, Ip, what you’re saying about Miranda is very interesting. But still I’m not sure why you think the Captain knows something about Miranda beyond what we all learned from that broadwave.” She knew well what a danger it could be for all of them if it became generally known that it was Mal who sent the broadwave, and specifically omitted any confirmation.

“The Captain visited Miranda. He said so. He said you all had been there.”

“When was that?”

“On Beylix,” Ip replied. “The Captain was talking about Reaver raids that had occurred during the war. Each side blamed the other for the atrocities. The Captain recognized the telltale signs of a Reaver raid because he’d seen it before—on Shadow when he was a boy. He said, ‘On Miranda, we found out that the Alliance made the Reavers, with that Pax stuff they put in the atmospheric conditioners,’” Ip quoted.

Inara made mental note not to underestimate Ip’s memory, nor the sharpness with which he drew inferences.

“The Captain also speculated that Reavers have been using Miranda as a base of operations since the failure of the settlement.” He looked Inara in the eye. “You all have been to Miranda, haven’t you?”

Inara hid behind her blankest Companion mask. Ip pursued his line of speculation. “No one has explained why Miranda was abandoned.”

Inara could respond to this. “It was abandoned because of the Pax and the Reavers.”

“No,” Ip countered. “The settlement failed because of the Pax and the Reavers. But why not discontinue the use of Pax, scrub the atmosphere, put up some defenses, and rebuild the settlement? Why abandon the entire planet?”

Inara shook her head. It was a political problem. She had run from Sihnon to avoid political problems.

“I want to know if there really was a terraforming issue that contributed to the abandonment of Miranda,” Ip continued, “or if it was merely a political problem. Terraforming—”

“Political problems can prove to be very intractable, Ip.”

“Terraforming problems can be solved,” Ip pressed. “You get enough data, analyze it well, think about it enough, and a solution usually presents itself. That’s what terraforming science is all about. I don’t see why the whole planet couldn’t just be restored to habitability—”

“Politics, Ip. I don’t think Parliament has the will to deal with Miranda. It’s a political hot potato.”

“Logic and reason—”

“Rarely carry the day in the political world, Ip. Politics is a very strange beast.”

Ip endeavored to convince Inara that science could carry the day. Gather evidence, he said, present it properly, and all right-minded people would see reason. There was no good reason Ip could think of why a solidly constructed scientific report confirming Miranda’s terraforming stability wouldn’t catalyze the reclamation and resettlement of that world. Inara was just shaking her head at Ip’s ignorance of the world of politics. But Ip wasn’t nearly finished. “Then there’s the matter of Shadow. And, for that world, I really do have some scientific evidence to work with. The data I gathered during our fly-by were limited, but even so, there are some very solid leads that I would like to follow up on. I really want to figure out how terraforming failed on Shadow.”


“Because it shouldn’t have been possible.”

“I thought it was a chain reaction of some kind,” Inara responded, citing the common report. “Shadow was bombed during the war. A chance hit struck a terraforming station, and triggered a chain reaction that built up until terraforming failed.”

Ip was shaking his head. “Even a direct nuclear strike of a hundred times the force on a single terraforming station should not have been able to destabilize the terraforming of an established planet like Shadow. Sure, you might trigger a faultline slip or even a volcanic eruption. A group of carefully placed nuclear bombs might even trigger a more massive volcanic event. But it still would be limited in scope. What doesn’t add up here is the degree of destruction. A single chance strike can’t account for the catastrophic failure of the entire system. There are redundancies built into every terraforming system, you know. It wouldn’t be pretty, but theoretically it’s possible to destroy three or even more terraforming stations on the same tectonic plate without grossly affecting a planet’s terraforming stability. What happened on Shadow shouldn’t have been possible.”

“But it happened,” Inara reminded him.

“It happened,” Ip agreed. “But I can’t believe it happened by random chance. It seems…calculated. Engineered.”

The word hung in the air between them. Someone had engineered the destruction of Shadow?

“Why? Who would want to destroy Shadow?”

Ip shrugged. “No idea. It would be one of the most egregious criminal acts in history, if it’s true.”

“You’re looking for evidence?”

“I’m looking for scientific evidence. That’s the only thing I’m qualified to deal with. The political and legal ramifications, I have to leave to others.”

* * *

It really was the crappiest part of town, surpassing even the portside industrial district for seediness. Saffron wrinkled her nose as she walked confidently through the garbage-strewn streets of the Muirhouse district of New Dunsmuir in her tight clothing and high-heeled boots.

喂 Wèi, what’s a sexy thing like you doing in a place like this?” The cheesy pick-up line was spoken by the sleazy-looking driver of a passing hovercar, all pimped-up with tinted windows and bling. “Want a lift?”

“No, thanks,” Saffron answered, with a hint of disdain in her voice. “I already have a ride.” His charming attempt at persuasion having failed, the rejected driver shouted an insult as he floored the pedal and sped off, but Saffron didn’t care. The green door of Fergus, her Beaumonde husband (when it suited her), was already in sight. Fergus wasn’t very bright, but he didn’t have to be, for what Saffron used him for. Fergus was a well-built physical specimen of a man, and those assets earned him a living as an enforcer for various extra-legal business operations. (His idea of persuasion usually involved brass knuckles or assorted weapons.) He was a man with nothing on his mind but his hair, and after five days on Serenity playing mind-games with a crew of gorram lunatics, Saffron was in the mood for a good, old-fashioned, mindless round of—

Her attention was snagged by the yowling of a pair of feral cats having a fight over the lickings of an empty tin of pickled herring. She missed a step on the buckled pavement and the spiky heel of one of her boots got caught in a sidewalk grate. She was still cursing loudly and hopping gracelessly, trying to regain her balance, when the green door flew open, and a large man stood silhouetted in the frame.

“Thought I heard your lovely chimes, Becky! Where the hell you been this fortnight? Thought you were coming home as soon as you finished th’ job.”

“How’d your job go, Fergus?” Saffron smiled sweetly, and bent over to straighten her boot, giving Fergus an eyeful of cleavage.

“Oooh, lovely,” Fergus crooned, completely distracted by the sight.

“Glad to hear it, luve,” Saffron responded, straightening up. “You gonna just stand there, Ferg, or are you gonna let your wife in?”

Fergus backed into the house, kicking aside the accumulation of beer cans that had piled up in Becky’s absence. Saffron followed him in and shut the door.

“So, the job went luvely, then,” she continued, as she divested herself of her coat and outer layer of clothing. “Splendid. Good pay, I hope?”

“Uh, well…” Fergus always had trouble thinking when his Becky was showin’ her lovelies. Truth was, he had trouble thinking at any time, but was a bit too dim to realize that without outside assistance. “Actually, the job went pear-shaped. The target legged it, and the 混蛋 húndàn shot Rory.”

“Oh my god, is he dead?” she gasped, feigning more concern than she actually felt.

“No, he ain’t dead, Becky. But he got banged up pretty bad. The blighter shot him through the spine an’ he can’t walk no more.” Seeing Becky’s horrified expression, he added, “Don’t worry, luve, I took him to Doc Graves. Doc fixed him up good, but he’s down for the count. Gordon also took a bullet—just a flesh wound in his shoulder—but he’s out of business for a while, too. And the worst? We didn’t get th’ pay-off!” Fergus concluded his tale of woe, all wound up. He was in a grumpier mood than usual, as his brain grappled with the financial implications of having two of his hirelings on the shelf, and no pay to speak of. As the brain cells slowly ticked over and caught up, he added sulkily, “And now we got to pay Doc Graves, too.” “You go to the Feds?” “Of course not, Becky. What are you, stupid? What kind of story can we tell ’em? ‘Got shot in an illegal ambush gone wrong’?”

“No, 傻瓜 shǎguā. You tell them some Browncoats tried to mug him, and when he resisted, they shot him. Let the docs at hospital dig out the bullet, let the Feds run ballistics on it, and let them look for the target for you.”

“The job was to disable the target, an’ acquire ’em for Stoat, not get ’em banged up, like.”

“Fergus, sweetie, this is why you need me to think for you.” She kissed him and thrust herself up against the solid wall of his chest, causing what little blood he had in his brain to head south rapidly. “Don’t matter if you pinch the target yourself, or if the Feds pinch ’em for you. You get ’em banged up in the slammer, then tell Stoat to go collect ’em himself.”

“Herself,” Fergus corrected, running his large hands over his Becky’s luscious curves. It was gettin’ hard to think, but he was happy to let Becky do the thinking. Gave him room to focus on other stuff. Thinking was…hard. Gettin’ harder by the moment.

“Herself. Whatever.” Saffron rolled her eyes. She extricated herself from Fergus’s groping hands. He began to protest, but when he saw that she was removing more of her clothing, he held his tongue. “And what kind of employer uses a stupid name like ‘Stoat’ anyway? Couldn’t she think of a better alias?”

“Money was good,” Fergus shrugged. “Don’t matter a turd’s worth of difference what the bloody woman calls herself.” His nether regions were beginning to take over all his cognitive functions, with his wife wiggling and parading her body before him as she undressed for bed. Bloody hell, that woman just had no idea how fit she was. “But why’d you disappear again, 宝贝 bǎobèi?” He was used to her disappearing act, but it still bugged him.

“Got offered a good gig, luve,” Saffron replied. “Big project, client said it had to be done on deadline.”

“Coulda come home to sleep,” Fergus sulked.

To provoke him to jealousy, she remarked, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist. It’s not the first time I’ve slept on the job,” in a voice dripping with innuendo. Fergus’s best assets were all physical, and when he felt he had something to prove, his performance improved. “And it won’t be the last.”

“Not many men would put up with your ways, Becky,” Fergus growled as he groped her backside. Those knickers she was wearing just drove him mental. “You’re lucky I don’t mind sharing.” He did mind. But it was the price he paid for having such a hot wife. With his other substantial hand he grabbed at her voluminous lace-clad 馒头 mántóu. There was an unexpected crinkling noise as his hand encountered something stiff. “Tell me you got paid,” he whispered hoarsely in her ear.

“Oh, I got paid, luve,” Saffron said with a silky voice, as she reached suggestively into her bra and pulled out a wad of credit notes. “Overtime.”

Fergus jumped her. Or the money. Or both. Whatever.

* * *

“Evenin’, Albatross,” he said, nodding absently, then he fell back to his musing as River settled herself down in the co-pilot seat. The Captain stared out into the distant Black as River flipped the test switches and checked the course settings and log. He made no move to cede the helm to her, and River knew he was deep into his own thoughts.

Which weren’t hard to divine. He had been spending more time than necessary on the bridge, and River knew he came here to hide. Hide from his crew, hide from his feelings, hide from Inara, and his longing to throw himself into her arms without resolving their problems. Hiding from the uncomfortable conversation he knew they were bound to have.

The Captain stared out at the stars, deep in a brown study. It wasn’t long before the confabulation began. He only occasionally spoke aloud, but River knew he’d be talking with Wash in his head—because the bridge was the place he felt closest to Wash, and Wash was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the one he chose to discuss his relationship issues with. Maybe it was because Wash had managed to convince Zoe to marry him, or maybe it was his sense of humor, or that he was a man of similar age—or all these things, that led Mal to be most comfortable talking out his woman troubles with him—or at least, with the idea of him. River settled in to watch the drama, for on these occasions, the Captain’s face was like an open book, his thoughts mirrored there for all to see. Didn’t take a mind-reading genius to figure out what was going on. If only she’d thought to bring popcorn.

* * *

Mal stared out at the stars, looking for he knew not what.

“Not again, Mal,” Wash said.

“Yeah, Wash,” Mal answered with a sigh. “Got myself into a pickle here. Don’t see a way out with honor.”

“Well, there’s always ritual suicide,” Wash suggested humorously.

Mal gave him a look. “If I tried that, I probably couldn’t do that right neither. Can’t do nothing right these days, it seems.”

“Gotta agree with you there, Mal.”

嘿 Hēi.” Mal gave Wash a hurt look. “Listen, Wash, this is serious.”

“Okay, serious. One boatload of seriousness coming right up. I can be serious. I’ve been serious before. Once in flight school, I was earnest, for nearly ten minutes.”

“Who, you, Wash? Earnest?”

“Now you’re a grave man,” River murmured.

“Very funny,” Mal commented wryly. “Listen, Wash. Inara accused me of sleepin’ with Zoe—”

“You slept with my wife!?” Wash exclaimed angrily.

“No. No, of course I—Wash, that’s just the point. Inara thought I did, but—my hand to—hell, you know it ain’t true.”

Wash just looked at him, so he added, “Why would a fine woman like Zoe even want to sleep with the likes of me?”

“No woman in her right mind would.”

Mal was uncertain whether to be offended or reassured by Wash’s words, but before he could decide which tack to take, Wash spoke up again.

“You never slept with my wife.”

“I ain’t been sleepin’ with your wife, Wash. Inara took up some crazy notion that I did—even got a bee in her bonnet that Zoe’s baby isn’t yours, but mine. Completely 疯了 fēngle.” He shook his head at the craziness of the notion.

River shook her head in synchrony with the Captain, as he mumbled to the vision in his head. And people thought she was the crazy one.

“So she threw me out, flung crockery at me, wouldn’t speak to me—”

“Geez Mal, didn’t you try to apologize?”

“’Til I was blue in the face, Wash. I apologized immediately. I apologized every damn time I could. I apologized for every damn thing I could think of, and gave a full-spectrum apology for every damn thing I couldn’t think of.”

“You’re learning.”

“Not fast enough, apparently. So Inara goes off in a huff, does her thing on Beaumonde while I work the deal with the rotten fruit man and with Holden. We have one helluva day gettin’ business done on Beaumonde—even had to defuse a detonator.”

“Not the first time you’ve felt like a bomb was going to blow up in your face,” said a deep and measured voice.

“Shepherd Book. Surprised to see you here again so soon. Thought we already had our little palaver.” Mal smirked, but it came out as more of a painful grimace. “Usually you only show up when I’m lazing around in bed.”

“Despite appearances, I don’t actually wait for you to be injured, Captain. It’s simply that it’s hard to get you to sit still and listen unless you can’t move.”

Mal took in the admonishment. “You got something to contribute to this conversation, Preacher, I’ll listen. So look, I’m defusing the detonator, thinking it could well be my last act in the ’Verse, and I ain’t reconciled my differences with Inara. And that seemed all manner of wrong, to leave her thinkin’ I’m a cheater when I ain’t, to leave her not knowin’ that my last thoughts were of her. So when we got through it, I talked to her—just like we hadn’t had all that crockery-pitching shouting match before. Asked her like a civilized person to take care of my ship. And she did.”

“She did,” Wash agreed, patting Serenity’s console. “Flew her like a champ.”

“But then Saffron turned up, got us all twisted and turned on our heads.”

“Like you weren’t already twisted,” Wash commented.

“Aw, c’mon, Wash! Saffron didn’t help none.”

“You ought to have explained—” Book began.

“I ain’t done yet, Preacher,” Mal interrupted. “I went and talked to Inara. She was ready to give me the silent treatment again, but I talked anyways. And I think maybe we got the Saffron 屁話 pìhuà out of our systems.”

“Ahh!” Wash exclaimed, giving Mal a knowing look. “Zoe and I always resolved our differences that way. Get together in our bunk and either fight it out or fu—”

“You reconciled,” Book interrupted, “at least with respect to the turmoil Saffron caused.”

“Mostly,” Mal said. “There were still some—.” He shifted uncomfortably in the seat and took the next tack. “Anyways, then it was time to face the music about what we done to each other before Saffron came aboard. That’s when we had it out about the infidelity bit.”

“I thought there wasn’t any infidelity.”

“I didn’t! I ain’t the cheatin’ type. But, you see—Inara just wanted it to be over. Sleep on it, forget about it.”

“Forgive and forget, Captain,” Book said. “It’s the Christian way.”

“Well, I ain’t a—not no more,” Mal retorted. “I can’t just forget about it. Weren’t just a simple problem. Had consequences. Spawned a whole raft of problems all over. I was thinkin’ about it when I shoulda been thinkin’ about other things. When I shoulda been keepin’ alert for trouble. I was talkin’ it out with Zoe, ’stead of watching her back, when those 混蛋 húndàn shot her on Beaumonde, and—”

“She got shot?!” Wash interrupted, suddenly livid. “You let my wife get shot?”

“Yes, Wash, to my shame,” Mal replied, as Wash sputtered in anger. “I shoulda been watchin’, but I was too taken up with my own 废物 fèiwù with Inara.”

“My wife got shot?!” Wash repeated. “Mal, she’s pregnant! What kind of 乱伦的 疯子 luànlúnde fēngzi would shoot a pregnant woman?!”

“That’s exactly what I said, Wash,” Mal replied, his own indignation heating up. “Only a 道德沦丧 dàodélúnsàng 无用 wúyòng 非人 fēirén 狗娘养的 gǒuniángyǎngde—”

“Gentlemen. Gentlemen!” Book interjected. The two stopped and stared at him. “Gentlemen, we are all in agreement on that subject.”

Thank goodness for that, River thought, rolling her eyes. The Captain’s confabulations didn’t usually get this complicated.

“Let’s examine the point you were about to make, Captain. About forgiveness.”

Mal made an effort to control his outrage and continued. “So Inara just wants to forget about it. I can’t just forget about it. All kinds of trouble come our way, ’cause I was too busy fretting in my mind to pay attention to what needed doing in the here and now.”

“And this is somehow Inara’s fault?” Book queried.

“It’s her turn to apologize,” Mal said sullenly.

“Just drop it, Mal. Kiss and make up,” Wash advised. “Just let her be right, you can—”

“I can’t, Wash, don’t you see?”

“Let go of the wrath. Judge not, that ye be not judged,” Book advised.

What the 地狱 dìyù is it with all this bible-quotin’? It’s gettin’ to be an epidemic, Mal thought. “Shepherd, I been judged many a time, and it didn’t make no difference whether I judged or judged not aforehand. In the Alliance prison, we were all judged guilty and beat upon, just for bein’ soldiers on the losing side. Kinda alters your perspective on the whole judging business.”

“Mal, as one married man to another—”

“I ain’t married, Wash, case you hadn’t noticed,” Mal responded with some bitterness, gesturing with his ringless left hand.

“Clearly,” Wash replied.

“You asked her,” Book stated with certainty, his look brightening.

“Took your advice, Shepherd. I asked her to marry me.” Mal looked the Shepherd directly in the eye. He gave it a beat, then informed him, “She didn’t say yes.”

“But it didn’t ‘scare her off’,” Book returned.

“Didn’t,” Mal agreed. “But what’s come between us since then might.” He stopped for a moment, looking thoroughly unhappy. “I just don’t want to lose her.”

“Look, Mal,” Wash offered, after a pause, “have you considered the role hormones play in this?”


“Yeah, man. Hormones. Like every month comes a time when you’re best off just saying ‘yes, dear’ no matter what she says. ‘You’re wrong.’ Yes, dear. ‘Go jump in a lake.’ Yes, dear. ‘Go light yourself on fire.’ Yes, dear. ‘Go to h—’”

“I get it, Wash. Look, it ain’t like I never worked closely with women. Hell, half my crew is women. Been so for years. This is beyond monthly cycles, Wash.”

“Then maybe it’s—”

“Oh, 我的天啊 wǒ de tiān ā. 糟糕 Zāogāo,” Mal said softly.

The Captain abruptly got up and left the bridge. River knew from the look on his face that more apologies would be forthcoming, forthwith.

* * *





喂 Wèi [Hey, Hello]

混蛋 húndàn [bastard]

傻瓜 shǎguā [idiot]

宝贝 bǎobèi [baby]

馒头 mántóu [steamed buns (boobs)]

嘿 Hēi [Hey]

疯了 fēngle [crazy, nuts]

屁話 pìhuà [nonsense]

混蛋 húndàn [bastards]

废物 fèiwù [rubbish]

乱伦的 疯子 luànlúnde fēngzi [depraved lunatic]

道德沦丧 dàodélúnsàng [morally bankrupt]

无用 wúyòng [worthless]

非人 fēirén [subhuman]

狗娘养的 gǒuniángyǎngde [son of a bitch]

地狱 dìyù [hell]

我的天啊 wǒ de tiān ā [dear god]

糟糕 Zāogāo [Oh crap]

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Sunday, March 10, 2013 1:00 AM


So the light comes on and River got to watch some amateur mind theater.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 1:59 PM


Oh no! I haven't had a chance to catch up.

So, Jayne, would you say the smell is... fowl? *Hit with people crying for no more puns*

>“Why? Who would want to destroy Shadow?”

Gee, I wonder. The same people who screwed up Miranda, the same people who refuse to rebuild BOTH because it blackens their eyes, maybe?

>“Want a lift?” “No, thanks,” Saffron answered, with a hint of disdain in her voice. “I already have a ride.”

I can say from experience that this is how johns approach women. I can't tell you how many times guys in semi-trucks have asked me if I want a ride on a certain bad strip of road near the airport by my work. For a long time I didn't really realize what they were asking... Thought they were being NICE, and no, I work at the offices just down that way so it's not far to work. *snort* Oh how I ENVY my former ignorance.

Aw Mal. I wonder how on target his suspicions really will be.

Monday, March 11, 2013 1:43 PM


Nutluck, River is getting to be an old hand at watching Mal have his mental conferences, by this point. In any case, Mal's got some insight now. Glad you enjoyed Jayne's scene, Bytemite, enough to crack a joke. (*Ducks away from objects thrown by the same people who are sick, sick, sick of chicken jokes.* But it seems we can't get enough of them. Birds of a feather, eh? *Ducks again*)


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ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (20)
“Vaccinations?” Jayne asked, with a stupid expression. “Fer chickens?”

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (19)
“Inara, I ain’t willing for you to bribe—” “Who said anything about bribes?” “What other form of persuasion you plannin’ on using? I’m not sure I like this plan.” “Mal, I can be very persuasive,” Inara replied. After a short beat, she added, with a touch of asperity, “Fully clothed.”

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (18)
Extreme measures as more things go wrong

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (17)
In which things begin to go wrong

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (16)
Waiting for the other shoe to drop

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (15)
Serenity enters the Core, Mal and Inara sleep together, and Simon and Ip come up with a plan.

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (14)
In which we find out more about Miranda

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (13)
Simon makes an announcement; Zoe and Inara take Mal to task

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (12)
Mal tells Inara a folktale from Shadow

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (11)
Inara and Zoe have a little palaver