Buzzing. Buzzing is the world.

Flies. Or locusts.

Buzzing, falling through her brain. In one ear and out the other.

And then the buzzing stops and the bear grumbles, "The little mousey wumman's been through my affects, Cap'n!"

A shorter buzzing, and the fox quirrs, "Now, Jayne, I thought we'd already settled how much I plum don't care."

The bear. "'T ain't right! Goin' through my guns – bet she even touched some 'f 'em!"

The weasel, sniggering because he always likes to bait the bear with nuts and berries and… weasel-ish things. "Maybe, and this's just me thinking, maybe a big boy like you should learn how to work a lock."

The cat, sipping her cream, tinkling things all around her. "We're all on the comm, I see. Is there an occasion?"

The bear again, now with clanking and clicking as he throws stones about his cave. "Gorram it, no, that da-shiang bao-tza shr duh lah doo-tze –"

The silly, chivalrous sparrow, who's almost given up on preening after his plights. "Excuse me. You, lumbering mass of unpleasantness. Could you please not talk about my sister like that?"

"If you could do yer gorram job and keep your'n locked up like she's s'posed to be –"

The lioness. "Jayne, the Cap'n already told you that's it's your own business to keep River out of your room."

The lamb. "Is there some reason why everyone's abusin' the shiny comm system I've just got done with installin'?"

"Yeah! That poncey little bastard don't know to keep a short leash on his pet loony!"

"She never meant any harm!"

"Creepy little schizo fingers all over –"

"She knows not to go through locked doors, if you ever paid attention to something that didn't bleed –"

"Bee-jway, neen hen boo-tee-tyeh duh nan-shung!" the cat hissed.

The fox finally said, "Alright, everyone off the comm. Jayne, make sure none of your toys is walked off." Amused, watching two pups fight over who a scrap of meat. "Doc, leave Jayne to his mumblin', you know as he can't help it." Threatened, his territory's marked and why can't she see that? "Inara, so long as they're across a whole ship from each other and can't tear off any important bits, leave my crew to their squabbles." Falsely kind, trying to sell something. "Kaylee, thank you ever so muchly for the shiny, loud, overused comm."

There was quiet. Wishing for crickets to fill the quietness, or at least for the flies and locusts to make the world buzzy again.

Quietly, the wolf in Shepherd's clothing asked, "Speaking of our local water source, she was meant to play me a game of Go around ten minutes ago. Does anyone actually know where she is?"

The fox, finished with the night and ready to embrace his nocturnal-ness. "Have a look around, holy man. There's a limited amount of mischief that she can play in this boat, wouldn't you say?"

The chameleon picked up the micro and said, "River's here, holy man. A small bird dies in a fallen nest, and I'm sorry for it."

Her sparrow, again. "Meimei, where are you?"

"I'm listening to the forest-sounds." She climbed out of her hole in the tree-trunk, and set her feet down on crosshatched grating almost too sharp to stand on. "I'll be down straight away, don't you worry about me."

She started swimming down the corridor, playing with the way she could make her hair float, and then doubled back to the micro to add, "Tell the bear that his treasures tasted funny."

River went again, leaping back and forth to avoid the lava.


I don't care what Reason says, the world should be made of metaphors. And 'to quirr' should be an actual verb. Admit it, you all understood what it meant.

For a directory of the impromptu animal kingdom:

Bear: Jayne. You know that it's legit.
Fox: Mal. Silly, silly man that he is.
Weasel: Wash. I was wavering between weasel and some small, energetic dinosaur… for obvious reasons.
Cat: Inara. Elegant and sanguine, always so pretty and… flexible.
Sparrow: Simon. Our bird, a bit flighty, likes so much to preen.
Lioness: Zoe. Hey, hey. She kicks major tail. At all times.
Lamb: Kaylee. Lordy, how I love that worldly, innocent, at-home-in-her-own-skin woman.
Wolf-in-Shepherd's-clothing: Book. You know, the preacherman with a past.
Chameleon: Er… River, obviously. The pretty chick of many faces.