The crew spun on their heels.
"Where's that shiong tse sha sho (1) second-in-command a' yours?"
"Do I know you?" Mal asked, pistol at the ready.
"You stole my kin from me!" the young man bellowed.
"D'you mean Tracey? Yea high, brown hair, stole people's organs?"
"Wha-? No, Eric!?"
"You don't mean Eric Bendis, do you?"
"Yes, you puddle of shiong mao niao (2)! Eric was always pop's favorite, but now that he's gone, I've had to put up with his constant disappointment in me! Do you know what that's like, putting up with that for ten years?"
Mal turned to Saffron and asked, "Please tell me I was wrong to mistrust you and that this wasn't part of your plan."
"I could say that, but I'd be lying." she responded.
"Never stopped you before."
Not having heard the previous discussion, Peter continued. "Well, I'm sick of it, and the only way for me to end it is to bring you to him either alive or dead. Your choice."
"How 'bout neither." Mal whipped out his pistol as Jayne cocked Vera, Kaylee doing likewise with Zoe's Mare's leg. Violence ensued. Peter and his posse of ten were more than a match for Mal's crew.
"Jayne," Mal shouted as he ducked behind a crate, "you bring any grenades?"
"Just a couple a' Griswolds!" Popping up behind his own crate, he took aim and fired. "Wishin' I'd a' brought summin' bigger!"
"They'll do!" Jayne tossed one right into the torso of one of their assailants. The result wasn't pretty.
"Cap', duck!" Kaylee yelled. Taking aim and screwing up all her courage, she fired. Didn't kill the assailant, but it did give him a nasty shoulder wound. Unfortunately for her, the kickback, coupled with the fact that she shot someone, left the poor girl too stunned to notice an enemy's Griswold make contact with the wall next to her, a piece of shrapnel lodging in her arm.
"Kaylee!" Mal yelled as he and Jayne rushed to her side. "You hang in there, mei-mei (3), you got that?"
"Aye-aye, Cap'." she groaned.
"The offer's still good for the next, oh, five seconds, Mal." Peter stated, holding a gun to the captain's head. Mal spun, grabbing Jayne's dagger in the process, which he jammed into Peter's right thigh, causing him to land like a sack of bricks.
With no small amount of effort, Peter pulled himself upwards. Placing himself between Mal and the others, he took aim. Mal would have dropped, but at the last minute, Saffron snuck up behind him and placed him in a full nelson, only letting go when he hit her on the head with the butt of his pistol. Dazed, she bolted. Mal soon followed, all the while trading bullets with Peter who brought up the rear.
Meanwhile, back on Serenity, River was dancing around the galley. In the middle of a particularly elegant pirouette, she noticed one of the cans. Then the sun came out. But it wasn't the yellow one, all warm and friendly. This one was cold and icy, its eight tentacles reaching out for her, the silent cries of a planetful of citizens following them. River ran. Hiding, she saw them. The fairy clothes. "Get dressed in them and you can fly." So she did, binding herself head to foot. Looking upwards, she noticed a rabbit hole.
Closing the hole behind her, she took flight, following the cries of those who needed help. When she reached her destination, she saw five naughty children trying to play an odd version of tag using sticks and apples with a pair of her friends. The ones who had managed to play with her friends hadn't lain down. Soon, the ones still standing saw her and decided to play with her instead. She picked up a stick and pointed it at one of the bullies. He didn't lay down, either, nor any of the others afterwards.
Once she had tagged all the bullies, she went looking for the others who were crying. She found a boy who was trying to catch a butterfly with long, brown wings, and a snake. Reaching out with her hand, she touched the butterfly, which promptly fell to the ground. Laughing, she prodded the snake in the stomach with her stick, which she also used to poke the boy in the head. The boy didn't lay down, but the snake slithered away.
"Tai-kong suo-yo duh shing-chiou sai-jin wuh duh pee-goo (4)! What happened here?" Jayne asked as he lumbered in.
"We played tag."
Mal woke in a daze in the all-too-familiar infirmary. "What happened?" he asked, groggy.
"River and Jayne brought you two back."
"The kid who started that whole fahng-tzong fung-kwong duh jeh (5)?"
"Dead." Jayne stated.
"Dunno. Prob'ly crawled off to die somewhere, more'n like."
"Well, Captain, I'd say you're good to go." Simon piped in, helping Mal off the counter-turned-bed before returning to work on Kaylee's arm.
That evening, as Mal sat behind the helm, he heard the dull thunk of combat boots. "They're beautiful, aren't they sir?" she asked, gazing out to the stars.
"Given the choice, I'd rather have a woman, but okay."
"Sometimes, I just wanna sit here and gaze at them forever."
"Right. You remember Eric Bendis?"
"Mm-hmm. Nice kid."
"Not so with his brother."
"Poor kid was cut down in the prime of his life. Eric, I mean. Funny thing, life. You just never know what's gonna happen. Just look at the shepherd, or… Well, you know."
"You okay, Zoe? I'm not used to seeing you so doe-eyed."
"Must be the pregnancy."
"Mm. Wait, what?"
1. Brutal assassin
2. Panda urine
3. Little sister
4. All the planets in space flushed into my butt.
5. A knot of self-indulgent lunacy