Disclaimer: I don't own Firefly or Star Trek.
"Captain Reynolds," Spock said once the team had boarded Serenity, "Whilst I am unfamiliar with the safety standards of your time, I believe Serenity may not meet most of them. Your spaceship seems to be-"
"Say one more word, alien boy, and I'm gonna break some safety standards myself," warned Kaylee.
Simon leaned closer to him, making the red handprint on his cheek all the more noticeable. "A word of advice. Make sure she's across the 'verse before you badmouth Serenity."
But his thoughts were clearly shared by his crew mates. Serenity was much smaller, much dirtier, and much more low-tech than the Enterprise. The future of space exploration looked very bleak.
"Well," Mal began, "Quarters aren't so luxurious, and we only got three extra rooms. Some of you gotta share for a few days. And no, Jayne, you don't get to volunteer." The gunman had been eyeing Lieutenant Uhura and had just opened his mouth, only to shut it again, disappointed.
"I vote Sulu bunks with Spock. Because I'm sure not going to," muttered Kirk.
"Well, you all can sort that out yourselves. Kaylee, engine room. River, get us off the ground and headed towards the central planets. Simon, show 'em to the rooms, kitchen, anything they need to know. And don't forget to introduce them to our most illustrious crew member. Let's see what they think of the future then." Which of course made some of the non-Vulcan passengers extremely nervous.
After several unsuccessful attempts to calm the just-awoken Baby Washburne, Inara had nearly reached her wit's end when Zoe showed up to gather her daughter. The girl quieted almost instantly.
"Thought you're usually good with her, Inara," Zoe said, raising an eyebrow.
"Children are very easy to put to sleep. When they wake up, though, they generally want their mothers. Or their Kaylees. She's not as used to me as she is to either of you," the Companion admitted. "What happened with the crashed ship?"
"It's a long story," Zoe replied in a tone that heavily suggested she didn't want to talk about it. "We got some passengers outta that mess."
Since Zoe wasn't going to talk, Inara intended to demand an explanation from Mal. Before she could find him, however, she found a tour group in her way. Simon was leading five unfamiliar faces towards her-one of which disturbed her a little, as she couldn't read him very well. But they all looked out of place and very surprised to see her.
"This is Inara Serra," Simon explained, "The last crewmember of Serenity."
She smiled. "Welcome aboard. I hope you don't mind, but I'd like a private word with the doctor."
He already knew what she was going to ask, and had summed it up as best he could in advance. "They're time travelers and they came from the past. One of them is an alien. Their ship is really damaged. Mal is taking them to Alliance headquarters to find out what happened to the rest of the alien population. Oh, and Kaylee is pregnant. Did you know about that?"
"Congratulations, Simon. No, I did not. The rest of your story is completely insane." Through the walls, she could hear the ship's engine begin to rumble. Serenity was taking off. "Mal should realize that he has people on this ship who aren't willing to fight his imaginary war anymore."
"That's something you're going to have to talk to him about, although apparently Zoe already has. Anyways, I have to show these guys to the infirmary and then to whatever rooms are left."
"Yes, of course. Would you mind introducing them to me first?" She was intrigued by the one with the poker face and pointed ears.
They returned to the group, and Simon shared the rest of their names and home planets. Then Spock spoke. "Pardon me, but Captain Reynolds mentioned that you were some sort of testament to the state of the future."
"He was being sarcastic, Spock," Kirk warned.
"Be that as it may, I must ask-what did he mean? Are you some sort of remarkably human-like android, or a high-definition hologram?"
"Oh no, nothing like that." She hated when Mal did this. "I'm completely human. Mal may have been referring to my profession as a registered Companion." They didn't understand. "An escort."
The human males suddenly felt very awkward. Spock did not. "A prostitute."
"A Companion. My fellow Companions and I have been trained for many years at the Academy on the central planets, and move in the highest social circles." She realized her present location made this sound a little dubious.
"A glorified prostitute."
For all she could tell, he was being entirely serious.
"All I'm saying is, when you see a beautiful woman like her, don't call her a prostitute!"
"Was that not her occupation?"
"She didn't seem to think so."
Kirk and Spock had ended up bunking together, much to Kirk's dismay. Sulu had taken the smaller room near the bridge, where he'd gone to learn the controls in case a back-up was needed. Uhura and Wallace were just across the way.
"Regardless, I do not see her function on this ship short of servicing the crew. I believe Captain Reynolds was extending his hospitality on introducing her to us, but I also think it best to decline."
"Of course we're going to decline! But-man, the future's got working girls on every ship?"
"We cannot assume that without more information."
"I must request that you do not suggest the idea to Starfleet."
Kirk threw a pillow at him. "I wasn't going to!"
"She's very easy to handle once she's in the air. Take off can get frustrating if it's a particularly cold planet," River explained. "Landings have to be very careful, since a little damage means a long delay and that's unacceptable for our line of work. You're a very boring man."
Sulu looked up from the controls, startled. "Excuse me?"
"I said, you're a very boring man. I can't find anything interesting about you."
"I...I...uh, I fence," Sulu stuttered.
Mal laughed. "You'll have to excuse our pilot. She's a Reader. Kinda psychic. And she's not afraid to run her mouth all the time."
Sulu was even more overwhelmed. But maybe the psychic ability explained how she knew exactly where each of those Alliance men would be when she shot them. "Well, I'm not here to be interesting...just here to be a pilot..."
"Not a very observant one. You haven't even asked about the dinosaurs." She nodded towards the several plastic toys that lay scattered on the dashboard.
"They weren't important to the handling of the ship!"
"They're very important. You're not allowed to move them when you're reaching for things because that's exactly how Serenity's first pilot left them before he died. Don't touch them."
Sulu gritted his teeth. "You know, I'd rather be boring than irritating."
"Hope you're enjoying your flight, ladies," Jayne said smoothly as they climbed out of their bunk. "Just to let you know, if you ever get a little cold at night, I'm on the upper level. I'll even letcha see my gun collection." He winked, and the girls exchanged glances.
"So you've got one for the girls and the guys, huh?" said Uhura with a smirk.
"Companion," Wallace clarified.
"What? No...oh no, you've got it all wrong," Jayne chuckled. "Ain't no companionship going on here 'cept for that idiot doctor and Kaylee. Inara's clients are pretty fancy folk. It's too bad." He stopped. "And I ain't no man-whore!"
Uhura and Wallace laughed. "Do us a favor then, Mr. Cobb. Don't tell the guys. Let them figure it out."
"Dr. Wallace. Are you as thoroughly disappointed by the ship as we are?" Kirk asked her.
"Are you really so disappointed, Captain?" She had a twinkle in her eyes that Kirk wasn't so sure he liked.
"Well, let me think about that...yes. God yes. What disaster happened to make this the epitome of space technology?"
"Oh, don't worry about that, Captain. I doubt this is the best they've got. After all, the ship that attacked us was far more developed than this. But I do have some worrying news for you. This ship was not made for battle. So far from it, in fact, that there are absolutely no weapons on board other than what the crew can carry. If we are attacked again, in space, we will not stand a chance."
Kirk closed his eyes. Maybe once he opened them, he wouldn't be stuck in this nightmarish situation. No such luck. "Any good news?"
"Not for you, no."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
She just shrugged at him apologetically. "I'm sorry, Captain, but I'm under orders from Lieutenant Uhura to watch you make a fool of yourself with Inara. So I can't tell you a thing about her."
At least it wasn't serious. "I will get it out of you, Carol."
Wallace just walked away, smiling, with the barely noticeable limp that remained after Khan had smashed her knee into pieces. Just seeing it still sent a pang through Kirk's heart. How was he supposed to protect her and the rest of his team on a dilapidated, nutcase-infested ship like this?