Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This Is How It Was

Introduction: Many moons ago, a message board I was on had a "survival game." Basically, a whole bunch of spaceships were given a bunch of points and posters could, once a day, remove points from one ship and add points to another. After much back-and-forth, we were left with Serenity with a relative handful of points and the TARDIS with a sizable lead. And then the Browncoats showed up, as we're want to do, and we won. I wrote this blog post on Xanga as a "victory speech." Not having the heart to actually blow up the TARDIS, I found a compromise.

And you're welcome, Amy Clark.

 (The bridge of the Firefly. An exhausted-looking Wash is at the main controls, with Mal just now rising from the secondary. Jayne stands nearby, Vera on his hip and still wearing his space-suit.)

Malcolm: Well, that was just plain disturbin'.

Jayne: Don't know what you're talking about. After a coupla years of no space-fightin', we had ourselves a real battle. Plenty o' bad ass spaceships.

Wash: Well, there was that tiandu wu yohn ship that went down first. Not too impressive. And that guy, the vaguely Buddhist one - “The One?” The one what?

Jayne: Well . . .

Wash: Ooo, and then there was that cube! I mean, who wants to pilot a cube?

Mal: Cube was scary, Wash, mighty scary. Took just about all those fancy ships with the people in running suit's to take it out.

Jayne (chuckling): Runnin' suits. Looked ridiculous, every one of 'em. (rubbing the bruise on his chin) Guy with the crab on his forehead, he was strong enough, though.

Mal: But who ever heard of punchin' with an open hand? Likely to break your wrist as hurt a man.

Simon (over intercom, nervous): Uhh, captain, how's everything up there?

Mal: Fine, Simon, you getting' our prisoners patched up pretty?

Simon: The one with the red shirt didn't make it. Which is surprising as he hardly even got shot.

(sound of a saw whirring in the background)

Mal: And the green-skinned guy? The robot?

Simon: River's working on him.

(piercing screams)

Mal: Sounds like that's going . . . well. I'll leave you to it.

(turns intercom off)

Kaylee (bounding onto the bridge): Everyone all right up here?

Jayne (motions to poorly bandaged arm): Well, I got shot in the . . .

Kaylee: 'Kay, good, I'll just see how Simon's doing. (turns to leave)

Mal: And River, Book and Inara, right?

Kaylee (distracted): Right shiny, cap'n. (bounds away)

Mal: Zoe, you still out there?

(Cut to exterior shot of the Firefly where Zoe stands, hauling in a blue telephone box on the end of a long cable. Cut to close-up of Zoe's face beneath her helmet)

Zoe: Yes, captain. Thing's heavier than it looks, even in zero-g. I'll get her reeled in soon enough.

Mal (over intercom): Any idea if anyone's still in there?

Zoe: Looks like feh wu to me, captain, but looks like it might've been before this battle anyway. Not much to look at, that's for sure.

Jayne (muttering): Could say the same about this bucket.

Kaylee (off-screen): I heard that!

(Zoe draws the phone box into Serenity's loading bay where it falls on its end with a loud thud)

Zoe (over intercom): She's inside, sir.

Mal: Book, Inara, you guys down there?

(Book and Inara stand near the phone-box. Book has a six-shooter in hand, but at his side. Inarra is unarmed)

Book: We're here, captain.

(back on the bridge)

Jayne: Still say I should be down there.

Mal: The idea's to make 'em feel welcome. You ain't exactly a welcoming face.

Jayne: They was in that battle same as us!

Mal: Yeah, trying to survive is all they did. Never fired a shot.

Wash: Still, don't know if they're hostile or not, and you let the preacher and the socialite take point?

Mal (to Jayne): Look, I'm the captain and . . . wait. Wash, did you just agree with Jayne?

Wash: I'm as shocked as you, captain. Shocked to my core.

Mal: I'll leave you ladies to your love-fest, then. Got guests to meet.

(the phone box, banging, clattering and shouting from inside)

Book (putting his hand on the gun): Hope they're as peaceful as the captain expects. That doesn't sound like a . . .

(the tenth Doctor and Donna fall out of the TARDIS, pursued by a cloud of smoke and a shower of sparks)

Doctor (recovering, but still staggered, nearly collides with Book before extending a hand and shaking Book's vigorously – his crying of falling turns into his introduction): Aaaaaaaaaaand who might you be, then?

Book: Shepherd Book . . .

Doctor: Lovely! (turning to Inara) And you are?

Inara: Inara, wel . . .

Doctor: Lovely! (looking around) Oh, this is a smuggler's ship, and no mistake. Perfect. Tons of little cubbyholes and hiding places and . . . oh, is that a hover-mule! Look, Donna, a hover-mule!

Donna (arms crossed, catches Inara's flummoxed expression): Yeah, he's always like this for the first bit. He'll run around a while, get all interested. Take a nap eventually and then he'll be a bit more . . .

Inara: Himself?

Donna: No, no, this is himself, really.

Mal (booking down the stairs): What chwen let our new house-guest play get up on the furniture?

(The Doctor on the hover-mule, pretending to steer, wearing a leather helmet and goggles)

Doctor (leaping off and bounding over to Mal): And you must be the (Mal levels his gun at The Doctor from the hip) captain. Huh. Thought you'd be a friendlier lot than that. Two of you with guns.

(loud clanking from the top of the gangplank – it's the sound of Jayne cocking Vera)

Doctor: And I think THAT gun counts for three. So you all were part of that strange little war after all? Even though you never fired a shot?

Mal (to Jayne): I said I was coming down, didn't I tell you to stay . . .

Jayne: No, you didn't. Wouldn't've listened anyway.

Mal: Jayne, I . . . I'll deal with you later.

Doctor (clucking): Ah, issues with your crew. Well, I don't want to get in the way of that, so if you could just point me to a spare berth or (Mal turns his steely gaze back to The Doctor) not. I seem to have arrived at a bad time. Or, more properly, I seem to have been roped into your ship at a bad time.

Inara: If we're awake, it's probably a bad time.

Donna: Look, really simple questions. I have three of them. Everyone ready? I'll even let you know who can answer them. (silence) Right. One: were you lot actually part of all that fighting or just caught up in it same as us? Captain?

Mal: Just caught up in it, I suppose. I mean, we have some that'd like to blow us out of the sky and all, but none of 'em fly ships like the ones we just saw. Question of my own: what brought you lot here?

Donna: Well . . .

Doctor: Just passing through, really. We were trying to get to the Tiber Cluster round about seventy million years from now so I could show Donna a real live actual supernova when the primary temporal buffer panel went all wobbly. Before I knew it, we were trapped in time, barely able to move in space, ships zooming all around. We survived as much because of our shields as anything, and even those were failing. Some sort of power drain. Anyway, we pulled through and ended up here. Question two -

(during this exchange, Kaylee leaves medbay and sidles up by the captain)

Donna: I'm asking the questions, Doctor.
Doctor: Right, sorry.
Donna: Question two-

Jayne: Can I shoot 'em yet, captain?

Donna: Question two: If you weren't fighting in that battle, then are you being so aggressive now only because you're a bit on edge? Everyone?


Donna: Right. So let's just pretend that neither of us is particularly in the mood to shoot people and see where we go from there.

Mal (putting his gun down at his side, not holstering): Seems a good plan. Your last question, very talkative new person.

Donna: Three: (apologetically) Captain, mind if we stay here for a bit?

(the crew begin talking at once)

Jayne: . . . runnin' a gorram daycare . . .
Kaylee: . . . could use a hand with repairs . . .
Book: . . . as a Shepherd, I should say that . . .

Mal: Quiet, the lot of you! This ship is a democracy: one man, one vote. I'm the man, it's my vote. (turns to The Doctor and Donna) Much obliged to you both for not trying to kill us but we're full up on crew just now. We get you to a planet, we'll get you settled but that's the best we can do.

Doctor (meandering over to Kaylee): Well, I do think that we could come in handy for you captain. For example, did you know that the intake manifold on the primary extrusion engine is going to give way in a week, maybe less? Leave you drifting, that will.

Kaylee: I TOLD you that manifold weren't right and you wouldn't listen, said we didn't have . . .

Mal: Money, that's right, we don't have the money, so you'll have to make do until . . .

Doctor: Make do? Make do? This is a 03-K64 Firefly Mid-Bulk Transport, a classic spacegoing vehicle, preference of scoundrels and anti-authority vagabonds everywhere. You can have all the money in the universe, but if you don't love this ship, she'll shake you off like the turning of the worlds. Love her and she'll keep you flying, let you know what's wrong before you even notice it. It makes the ship a home.


Mal: Might do to remember that, doc, but that don't mean I can just magic up the money to pay for a part.

Doctor (to Kaylee): Do you have a Z-91 compression coil, two solid-state cadmium batteries, about thirty inches of copper cable and a pair of tweezers? Aluminum tweezers?

Kaylee: Don't know about the tweezers, but . . .

Doctor (intensely): Listen. The tweezers are important.

Inara (putting up her hand): I think I have a spare.

Doctor: Fantastic! Problem solved. I can make your manifold for you! When I'm not trying to fix up my ship, of course.

Kaylee: Can we keep him, please!

Jayne: Lio coh jwei ji neong hur ho deh yung dug buhn ja j'wohn . . .

Donna: Oi! Your mum know you talk like that!

Jayne (surprised): She's the one that gorram taught me.

Donna: Cheeky little . . .

(the crew talks up again, this time louder, ending with Mal shouting them down again, overlapping with Wash, who's just shown up)

Wash: I have to go to the baaathroom.
Mal: Everyone settle!

Jayne (to Wash): What?

Wash: I wanted to get in on the whining. Am I too late for the whining? Damn, I always miss the good stuff . . .

Doctor: Hobart Washburn!

Wash: Uh, yeah . . .

Doctor: THE Hobart Washburn!

Wash: W . . .

Doctor: Your run through the ion cloud on the Geserel IV rogue moon just before the fall of the Parliament – it's the stuff of legend.

Wash: Well, I never . . .

Doctor: Well, no, you haven't. Not yet. But you will. And it's fantastic.

Wash (to Mal): I vote we keep him. I like people who like me. It's a weakness.

Doctor: You lot do seem altogether less . . .

(River and Simon come out of medbay. River is holding a mechanical arm, still twitching, with tatters of green skin and black and yellowish cloth)

River: Broken doll, strings cut, no more dancing.

Doctor: scary than I thought . . . you . . . might.

(River sees The Doctor and immediately falls to the ground, hands over her head)

River: The storm, the waves, the crashing sea, salt in my eyes, in my EYES, Simon.

(Simon and the Doctor run to her at the same time as River continues to babble)

River: Stream runs to the lake river runs to the ocean ocean comes over me drowing, storm-driven tempest-tossed I don't want your cloven pine anymore get thee behind me Sycorax Miranda Miranda make me a stone the dark behind it all the eyes the eyes with no eyes no heart no head just hate exterminate extirpate extricate the weave and weft the curds and whey have curdled you were gone gone so long ago and so far from now torn apart the war the gathering storm you're the last the last but you aren't supposed to be at all. (sobbing)
Doctor (using his sonic screwdriver): Oh, my goodness, her brain. Neural stripping. Alterations of a kind I've never . . . I'd call this barbaric but it was done with great skill. They raped her mind and left the core of her naked and exposed. I'd heard of experiments like this, never seen one close-up before. Horror beyond imagination. (insensely) I should very much like to find out who's behind this.
Simon: We were just heading somewhere where I hoped we could find out more about her condition, see about healing her.
Doctor: I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. There's no healing this kind of damage, not in this century, not with what you have. Can't heal her mind, but there might be hope left for her spirit. Not for a while yet, but it may come.

Simon: Who are you?

Doctor: The Doctor. And you?

Simon: Simon Tam.

Doctor: Of course! So that makes the rest of you (points in turn) Zoe Washburn, Jayne Cobb, Kaylee Frye and that makes you (grabs Mal's hand so suddenly that Mal drops his gun) Major Malcolm Reynolds.

Mal: Captain. Just a captain.

Doctor: Right! Getting ahead of myself again. Well, anyway, captain, how about it? Your crew seems to want me on board and now you know I have ill intent toward the Alliance. What's not to love?

Mal (looking around): You can stay until your ship's fixed, not a day more.

(Jayne walks away, not bothering to hide his disgust)

Doctor: Captain, I believe this may be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Mal (stalking back up to the bridge): Wong ba duhn, why can't nothin' go smooth?

(The others begin to move away)

Kaylee: Stop by the engine room when you can. I'll get you those parts you were lookin' for.

Doctor: Oh, sure, fabulous.

Donna: Well, that went well.

Doctor: Yeah, rather. We'll be a week or two here, I'm afraid. TARDIS is pretty well knocked out of commission but I think I can fix her. We get along well, the two of us.

Donna: Yeah, I noticed. Sure it's smart to let on to this lot? Bunch of petty criminals the lot of of 'em.

Doctor: Oh, that. You know those parts I asked for? (Donna nods) Not for a manifold, though I can make that easily enough from what we have on our ship. No, that's for a memory eraser. Wipe out the memory of this whole battle from the crew, and anything to do with us. Best that way.

Donna: Really? What about the girl?

Doctor: Oh, we'll get to the bottom of that, don't you worry. But I can't bring this lot into that much danger. (claps hands) Well, to work?

Donna: Of course!

(Exeunt omnes)

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