Virtual Firefly episode 1x17 (act two)
Thursday, January 5, 2006

"Hero Complex" (act two): This is the second episode of the Virtual Firefly project. Look for “Property Rights” next week, and our web site in early 2006. This episode contains graphic scenes that may be disturbing to some readers.



Jayne is dressed in his Sunday best, which, really, isn’t much better than his normal attire, and hovers near Ana’s BAGGAGE. Book, dressed in his usual attire, is with him. Book has a smear of red, possibly lipstick, across his upper lip and cheek.

Ana and Mal enter from the UPPER CATWALK.

MAL: Look, I appreciate where you’re comin’ from, Miss Gurick, but that ain’t the kinda job me and mine normally take.

ANA: Perhaps once you meet with my father…

MAL: I’ll hear him out, but I won’t make no promises.

They’re heading down the stairs now, and Jayne and Book move to meet them.

ANA: I appreciate your open-mindedness, Captain Reynolds, and also must thank you for your hospitality on this voyage. I hope that I’m able to return the favor on the family yacht.

MAL: A few hours, that’s all. Your daddy wants to talk to me, he’d best not dawdle, ‘cause I certainly won’t.

At the bottom of the stairs, Mal gives Book a look and motions him to the side, while Ana does the same with Jayne, under cover of doing a last-minute check of her baggage.

ANA (whispers): You were right.

Jayne gives her a “Told you so” look as they busy themselves with the baggage.


Mal talks to Book.

MAL: Thanks for stayin’ behind, Shepherd.

BOOK: It’s the prudent thing to do. Just bring me some—

Mal points to the red smear on Book’s face.

MAL: You got somethin’…

BOOK (sighs): River…

He grabs a cloth from a nearby workbench and rubs his face.

MAL: Ain’t blood, is it?

BOOK: Not today. Make-up of some sort. (beat) I’ll keep an eye on things here. You call me if anything seems out of sorts.

Mal claps Book on the shoulder, then turns to Ana.

MAL (to Ana): Want to head up to watch the approach?

Mal and Ana head out, and Book bows as she leaves.

When they’re gone, Book turns to Jayne.

BOOK: This is an interesting side of you, son.

JAYNE: I hate getting like this, all awkward and gentleman-like. Most women I got no problem with. But her, she never talks down to me, you know? I can actually talk to her.

BOOK: Never thought you'd be saving a damsel in distress, but here we are nonetheless.

JAYNE: It’s her eyes. She's like a cat. Woman like that could get you in a lot of trouble if you let her.

He gazes up to where Ana exited with Mal.


In the space above the planet SHERWOOD, SERENITY approaches Ana’s family YACHT, a ship more than five times Serenity’s length. The luxurious vehicle is rounded, with lines similar to a traditional luxury liner like the “Titanic.”

The starboard side of the yacht, which we can see, contains airlocks for a half dozen ships, and an open deck where smaller shuttles can land. A half dozen SHUTTLES and an expensive-looking VESSEL, half the size of Serenity, have docked with the yacht.

Although the yacht is clearly an expensive and well-appointed vehicle, the majority of the lights are off, with activity apparently limited to a few sections of the vessel.

Serenity moves forward smoothly, docking with one of the yacht’s available airlocks.


The room looks expensive. CAPTAIN NEWSTEAD, fifties, proper, waits with a half dozen ATTENDANTS, all dressed in naval-looking white uniforms. A GUARD, dressed in black, stands near the AIRLOCK DOOR.

The door opens, releasing a hiss and a cloud of steam.

Ana, dressed in an expensive-looking gown rushes out.

ANA: Captain Newstead!

The Captain executes a bow, as do the attendants.

NEWSTEAD: Miss Anastasia. How good to have you back onboard.

Ana rushes forward and, before Newstead can stop her, she plants an excited kiss on his cheek.

Meantime, the attendants surge forward and collect her baggage from Mal, Jayne, and Wash. Wash is dressed in vaguely format attire, Mal has added a clean jacket to his usual outfit, and Jayne is now wearing a big white COWBOY HAT, which he, apparently, thinks is cunning.

The guard has a handheld version of the X-RAY/WEAPON-DETECTING DEVICE used in “Shindig.” Mal holds up his hands, indicating he’s unarmed for the party, and the guard begins to search the crew quickly and efficiently.

As the baggage is handed off, Inara, Kaylee, and Zoe move past and Ana introduces them to Newstead. Inara looks elegant as always, Kaylee wears her outfit from “Shindig”, and Zoe, looking very out of place, wears her usual clothing, although neatly pressed.

JAYNE: Even the walls look expensive.

NEWSTEAD: Welcome to the Gurick. My Name is Captain Newstead.

The guard with the DEVICE scans Jayne, hitting Pinky. He looks to Newstead, who, without missing a beat, nods that Jayne can keep the knife.

WASH: The Gurick? (looks at Ana) She has a ship named after her? (to Mal and Zoe) How do I get a ship named after me?

NEWSTEAD (formal): Actually, the ship is named after Miss Ana’s mother’s family name. (beat) So, who is the captain of the Firefly-class vessel?

MAL: That’d be my boat. Malcolm Reynolds.

Newstead moves forward and offers his hand to Mal.

NEWSTEAD: Captain.

MAL: Captain.

Meantime, Ana has pulled Zoe and Kaylee to the side. She looks at Zoe’s outfit skeptically.

ANA: My dear, we simply must do something about your clothing.

ZOE: No, I don’t think—

KAYLEE: Come on, Zoe! It’s fun to dress up.

Wash overhears.

WASH: Sure, honey. Just look at Jayne.

They all look at Jayne in his big white hat.

ZOE (sighs): Maybe…

Ana takes her by the arm.

ANA: Come! Come! (to Newstead) Captain, I’ll be taking these beautiful women to my chambers. Please convey the gentlemen to the party.

NEWSTEAD (flustered): Party, Miss Ana?

ANA: You don’t think Father is capable of keeping secrets from me, do you?

He looks down for a beat, as the women rush out in a hustle of satin and leather, then turns back to Mal.

NEWSTEAD: Captain, I haven’t been on an aught-three in years. I would love a tour of your ship, if you don’t mind.

Mal offers a genuine smile. He likes this guy.

MAL: Funny. Was gonna say the same thing.

NEWSTEAD: I would be honored.

Simon and River now come to the corridor. He’s dressed formally, and she’s wearing a short summer dress and no shoes. She does, however, have on quite a bit of make-up. So much, in fact that she looks almost clownish.

SIMON: I still think you should be wearing something less ...revealing.

RIVER: Inara tried to do my make-up. Calligraphy on my face. I changed the characters. Don’t they look beautiful?

Simon is distracted when he catches one of the attendants looking at River’s legs. Simon glares.

With Simon and River here, the airlock door closes behind them with a hiss that is sinister.

A beat.

Newstead looks at one of the attendants.

NEWSTEAD: Robert, will you escort the crew to the party? Captain Reynolds and I will take a brief tour and join you shortly.

WASH (to Mal): Want me to tag along, Captain?

Mal glances at the two guards, who look more ceremonial than anything.

MAL: Not this time, Wash. Should be okay.

JAYNE: Come on, little man. Food’s this way.

WASH: I hope there’s a buffet. I love a buffet.

River comes up behind Jayne and stares at him.

JAYNE (to River): What?

She looks at him, sadly. Shakes her head disapprovingly.

RIVER: Get oranges this time. Apples make me sick now.


Mal and Newstead walk, speaking comfortably.

NEWSTEAD: So, you see, Captain, it’s apples and oranges. You walk the Gurick like you’re planet-side, but you can’t maneuver. At full speed, it takes the better part of a day to fully come about, there so much inertia on this thing.

MAL: Yeah, we’re a bit more nimble’n that.


The great room is exactly that, an elaborately appointed chamber more than four times the size of Serenity’s cargo hold. The furniture, including a number of comfortable looking chairs and tables, is all dark wood and rich leather.

The room is filled with close to one hundred GUESTS, in addition to our crew. The guests are dressed in expensive clothing, clearly wealthy, and include a number of men and women who are Ana’s contemporaries.

Wash and Jayne are at one of the tables, where there’s a magnificent spread of FOOD. Wash has a plate which he keeps piling higher, and Jayne is eating directly from the buffet, much to the amusement and/or disgust of the others.

Simon is talking comfortably with a group of guests, including MIA’S FATHER. Simon seems to be enjoying himself in his element, but is also a bit distracted as he watches River wander through the room.

SIMON (to Mia’s Father): So the Alliance won't intervene?

MIA’S FATHER: Too expensive. My Mimi over there, had reservations to go skiing, but everything was canceled after the incident. The whole region is a red zone now. Population too low to move troops in...

Ana, Inara, Kaylee, and Zoe enter. Zoe is dressed in a dark, slinky dress.

Ana spots Mia and runs to her. The women kiss one another on the cheek and embrace.

ANA: Mia!

Wash is among the many men starting at Zoe.

WASH: Whoa.

Not taking his eyes off his wife, he sets his heavily-laden plate down. Jayne leers at Zoe, then notices the plate. Another look at Zoe, then he picks up Wash’s plate and walks off with it.

Wash approaches Zoe.

WASH: I should’ve bought you a slinky dress a long time ago.

ZOE: Yes, you should have.

They kiss.


The bridge is large and comfortable, with huge WINDOWS and six positions, three on either side of the largest window, although only two are currently occupied by white-uniformed OFFICERS wearing headsets. Two black-uniformed GUARDS, looking a little more competent than the one at the airlock, stand near the door.

Mal and Newstead stand near the window. Newstead is looking out into space, but Mal can’t help but glance at the guards.

NEWSTEAD: Never thought I'd like it, but now I wouldn't go back to a standing bridge. You have all your controls close at hand—

MAL: You got an awful lotta guards for a yacht, Captain Newstead.

NEWSTEAD: Perhaps Miss Ana didn’t explain what her father does for a living. He’s a merchant and trader, and has made a number of enemies. The guards here give him a sense of security, particularly with respect to Miss Ana’s safety.

Mal opens his mouth to comment further, but—


Newstead nods for the officer to continue.

OFFICER (cont’d): Miss Ana’s father would like to thank Captain Reynolds personally for bringing his daughter here. (beat, as the officer listens to his headset) He would also like to remind the Captain that his crew is enjoying our hospitality.

Mal doesn’t say a word, but he sees it so clearly now: Doesn’t know how or why, but he knows he’s been suckered. And right now, there’s no way out.

The door to the bridge opens, and four more GUARDS come in. Newstead looks very tired.

NEWSTEAD: Captain Reynolds… If you would please come with us…


The party continues. Simon is seated at one of the comfortable chairs in front of the fireplace. The other chair is empty, but Simon, staring at the fire, doesn’t seem to notice. Kaylee comes up to stand next to him.

SIMON: We used to have a fireplace like that on Osiris.

KAYLEE: Wasn’t like this one, you can be sure of it. We're on a ship. You can't imagine the amount of rigging there must be behind that brick wall. Must’ve cost a fortune.

Simon glances up at Kaylee, but she’s staring at the fireplace.

KAYLEE (cont’d): They must have to filter it all. Your fireplace just blew the smoke out into the atmo…

Simon looks around, finally notices that the other chair is empty.

SIMON: Where’s River?


Ana makes her way towards Jayne. He is eating from Wash’s plate, sees her approach, nods and pats his hip. His sheathe is empty. His eyes widen.

JAYNE (mouth full): Where’s Pinky?


River wanders down the hallway alone, carrying Jayne’s hunting knife.


Kaylee is talking to some of Ana’s friends, including Mia. The girls seem to have accepted her as one of their own.

KAYLEE: Thanks so much, but it was bought in a store, you know.

MIA: So was mine. We worked on it a bit. My mother loves to “design”, but I don’t much care, as long as it makes a few heads turn!

They all giggle and look across the room to where Ana is talking with Jayne. Some of the ladies seem to like Simon, who is


Talking to Zoe. Wash is, not surprisingly, is back at the buffet table.

ZOE (to Simon): What do you mean you can’t find her?

She trails off as Brian enters the room, tall, bald and sinister. He makes a beeline for Zoe.

In the background, Jayne also sees this and moves toward them.

BRIAN (to Zoe): Good evening, Mrs. Washburne. I need you to listen very carefully. If you want your captain and the shepherd to live.

Zoe looks around. Suddenly, there are two GUARDS at each door.

Suckered, gorrammit.

Zoe looks at Jayne, who appears ready for action, shakes her head.

ZOE: Not the place. Not the time. They have the Captain.

Jayne backs down, looks at Ana, who will not meet his gaze.

BRIAN: We will escort you out of this room quietly, one at a time…

JAYNE (mutters, glares at Ana): This wasn’t part of the plan.


Book comes onto the UPPER CATWALK, apparently having heard something.

BOOK: Captain? (beat, as he scans) River?

RIVER (OS): Sorry, Shepherd.

Book looks down as THREE RED DOTS from laser sights suddenly appear on his chest.

Four GUARDS are in the cargo hold. Three have rifles pointed at Book, and the fourth has Jayne’s hunting knife to River’s throat.

RIVER (cont’d): Should’ve locked up Pinky with the others.


Newstead, Mal, and the four GUARDS following them stop in front of a large airlock-type SECURITY DOOR. Mal looks around nervously, trying to find a way out, but the Guards have their weapons trained at his back and are far enough away that he can’t rush them both.

He glares at Newstead, who looks down, ashamed, and refuses to make eye contact.

The security door opens in a hiss of steam. Two more armed Guards step out, and a smaller FIGURE, obscured by the steam, lingers behind.

The Figure finally steps through the fog. It’s ADELAI NISKA, virtually bouncing with excitement, dressed to kill, smooth and sharp.

NISKA: Welcome aboard, Captain Reynolds. Thank you for bringing my daughter home.


Friday, January 6, 2006 2:48 AM


Damn, I *knew* it would be Niska. I was so hoping we'd have a new original threat lurking. Really well written apart from the bit where those goons get the jump on River and use her to get back onto Serenity. That doesn't track, I would have expected River to be at least one jump ahead of them. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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