"Kaylee, get that engine back online!" Mal yelled through the intercom.
"I'm trying, Cap'n!" Kaylee answered automatically, although she knew he couldn't hear her. Serenity was spinning out of control. She had been going into atmo when the engine had suddenly cut off and by then it had been too late to change course or do anything about it.
Kaylee didn't know how much time she had to find out what was going on, but she was sure it wasn't much. They were falling, fast. Spiraling, spinning towards the ground below. Everyone on board was holding on to something if they knew what was good for them, but not Kaylee. She was examining the engine as fast as she could, somehow managing to keep her balance.
Mal wasn't holding onto anything either. Other than the steering mechanism, that is. If by some miracle Kaylee managed to get the engine functioning, he wanted to be there to steer them away from the deadly ground that was quickly approaching the little ship.
Simon and River were in their quarters. Something was jamming the door shut, so neither of them could get out to help. Simon wouldn't have been very useful anyway, but now that Wash was dead, River was the best pilot they had. She was worried about Mal's ability to get them safely up and away from the ground, assuming Kaylee could get them flying again. She never would have had that doubt about Wash.
Jayne was on the floor. He'd been rushing to the bridge to find out was going on, maybe see if there was anything that needed shootin', when he'd been conked in the head by a piece of flying cargo. He wasn't even sure where it had come from, but he figured it was in his best interests to stay down until whatever was goin' on got fixed.
Inara was in her shuttle. She had been asleep when the engines had cut off and the spinning had started, and it had knocked her off her bed and into a wall. She was either still asleep or unconscious.
Zoe was racing through a corridor, trying to make her way to the bridge and see if there was anything she could do. She was stumbling over stray boxes and grabbing the walls to pull herself along. When she was just about there, she saw Jayne on the corridor's floor and stopped to reach down and check his pulse. To her surprise, he turned his head to look at her.
"Them boxes're dangerous," he growled. She rolled her eyes, pushed past him, and stumbled up the stairs and onto the bridge.
Kaylee had found the problem. One of the capacitors was malfunctioning. And she could fix it, too, provided she had a couple of minutes. Unfortunately, she wasn't sure that she did…
"Ain't got no time to think about it," she muttered to herself, and with considerable effort, grabbed a wrench off the floor and began to work.
"Sir, what's going on?" Zoe yelled. Mal didn't turn to look at her as he answered, just kept staring at the now-far-too-close ground spinning towards him and his ship.
"You know what's going on. The engine."
"Can Kaylee fix it?"
"I don't know." He sounded almost resigned to his fate, but both his hands were planted firmly on the steering mechanism. It could be mistaken for resignation, but it was concentration. Zoe realized that and sat in the other pilot seat, the place where River normally sat, and placed her hands on the other steering mechanism.
Below, people were pointing up at the falling Firefly and screaming as they ran, leaving a large gap in the street Serenity was falling towards. It was getting larger to the people on the planet by the second.
"…There!" Kaylee twisted the wrench one last time to make sure it was tight, then dropped it and skidded towards the lever that needed to be pulled to start the engine. No time to admire her work. She reached towards it, yanked down as hard as she could, and—the engine started to whir.
The ground was right below them. Mal estimated it might be another fifteen seconds before they hit. He wanted to get on the intercom and yell at Kaylee to hurry up, but he couldn't leave the console, just in case she—
The lights on the console all lit up at once. The engine was running. Zoe and Mal both yanked up on their respective steering mechanisms as hard as they could, and the engine whined from being pushed too hard, and everyone could feel the ship starting to pull up, but it wasn't good enough. The front of the ship slammed into the ground first, cracking the street and sending a shock wave throughout the city. It made the buildings shake. The rest of the ship followed very quickly after, and there wasn't much of the ship left after that.
The last thing Mal and Zoe caught sight of were the plastic dinosaurs that still sat on the console, and the same thought flashed through their minds: Wash could have done it.
The ship just could not survive without Wash.