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Six Months Ago

The Artaris hung limp in space, the empty husk of a boat. A passenger ship, she had once been the height of luxury but those days were long gone. Serenity sat on its hull like a leech. The Artaris's docking ports were dead without power, so they had been forced to drill through the hull. It had taken several hours even with the fancy equipment that the contact had provided. Malcolm Reynolds lumbered down the corridor, his feet thumping faintly on the carpet. It was hard to do anything but lumber in the bulky spacesuits. He shone a blue light on the door. Cabin five, it read. Two more to go then.

"I don't like it, sir," Zoe said.

"What's not to like? Break into cabin 7, find the strongbox and go home. No worries."

"Something just feels wrong." They stopped in front of the cabin. "For no apparent reason, passengers and crew jump ship leaving all their belongings behind. Alliance patrols pass it by without a glance and we get paid a ridiculous amount of money to steal a box."

"It is a mite strange, I admit." He gave the door a strong kick. "But you can't argue with a ridiculous amount of money." Another kick.

"You know sir, we could just blow the door."

"But it wouldn't." another kick, "be as," another kick, "satisfying!" The door flew open. "See?"

The strongbox was hidden under the bed. It looked deceptively small. It was made of a smooth gray metal. There was no way Mal could see of opening it, no hinges or anything, but that wasn't his problem. "Ok we got it. Now lets get out of here."

Serenity detached itself slowly and rolled on its axis. It's engines spit fire and she flew out into the distance. The little man watched it go. His shuttle had lay hidden on the far side of the wreck. Now he slowly powered up his systems. With a smile he tipped his hat at the departing Serenity, then he piloted his shuttle in the opposite direction, and vanished into the black.