It had been months since the crew had learned of what happened on Miranda, since they had lost Wash and Book. It had taken weeks to rebuild Serenity, and longer still to get her back into the black.

The crew on, the other hand, were far from mended. The death of Book had been hard enough to take, but Wash… Zoë had reverted back to her silent, post-Wash self. Many missed her smiles and laughter, Kaylee especially. Inara had decided to stay, which secretly pleased Mal. She knew everyone needed all the cheer they could have. Mal and Jayne hadn't changed much on the outside. But both had learned things, gone through things that they'd never wanted nor imagined to.

Everyone was happy for Kaylee and Simon, now that the two had finally gotten together and stopped circling each other. It was one of the few good things that had come of their most recent journey.

The other was that River was better. Not whole, and sadly still nowhere near, but better. Miranda was no longer a dangerous secret kept in her mind alone, which held the insanity at bay.

But Mal knew they needed to find some semblance of their old routine, and to do that Serenity needed a new pilot. He couldn't be flying as well as fighting, and though River was able to fly it, he would need her occasionally for her abilities as a reader; which is what brought them now to this outer moon. He'd heard tell of a talented pilot. He was willing to see if it was more than just tales.

He took another sip of his drink and looked around the bar. There was a man and a woman playing a game of pool, young by the looks of them. It seemed the woman was winning, and was confirmed when she did a little victory dance. The man, a glum look on his face, handed over her winnings before leaving with table. After a quick search of the bar, his eyes fell on Mal, and he headed over. "You Captain Reynolds?" he asked.

Mal nodded. "That I am. This here is my first mate Zoë, and that's Jayne." He gestured to each. "And I'm supposin' that you're Jade Black."

"Aye, sir. I heard you were lookin' for a pilot. Well I'm the best one you'll find in this sector."

"You've yet to prove that," came a melodic voice from behind him. "All we know for sure is that you're better than the rest on this dust heap moon." The woman who'd been with him walked up to them. "Don't let him fool you mister."

Jade grinned. "She's just upset that I'm a better pilot than she is. Captain Reynolds, this is my cousin, Rain Selene. She's part of the deal."

Mal's brow rose. "Now what would I want her for? I only need me a pilot."

Rain's eyes, a stormy grey, began to dance. "I'm what one would call a Jane of all trades, sir. I know my way around an engine room and a galley, I can treat most minor and medium wounds, I can shoot a gun and hit the target, though I prefer other types of weapons, and I'm a fair pilot if this dolt decides to get himself killed. I won't be just takin' up space."

"And because she's modest, I'll tell you that she's also good as a translator, since she speaks damn near every language in the 'Verse. Plus she's a – oomph!"

She elbowed him. "I like being modest."

"Shiong-mung duh kwong-run," he muttered, rubbing his stomach.

For a moment Mal debated. They could always another gun, and he wanted this pilot. He turned to look at Zoë and saw her nod. Jayne was still ogling Rain. Mal sighed. "We have a deal." Jade and Rain traded glances and smiled.

"We won't let you down Captain," Jade said.

River sat upon one of the upper rails in the main cargo bay. She was humming to herself, legs swinging about. She smiled as Simon called for her. It wouldn't be much longer before he finally thought to look up. And sure enough, "Mei-mei! What are you doing up there? Come down here."

"Why would I want to do that? I like being with Serenity."

Simon gave an exasperated sigh. "The Captain should be back any minute, and he might have the new pilot with him. I'm sure he'd rather you not be up there."

She rolled her eyes, but slid off the rail. As her brother had a heart attack she landed gracefully on her feet below. "I'll be in my room." But before she could so much as take a step the door opened and Mal walked in with the others.

"She may not look like much," he was saying, "but she'll fool ya."

River watched as a new man and woman entered behind him. Interested, she studied the two. The man had unruly black hair that kept falling into his eyes. He was tall. Taller than her brother. He looked strong, if not wholly muscular. He dressed simply, in black t-shirt and coal colored pants. The woman, on the other hand, seemed more elegant. Her thick curly hair, the color of life-blood, rained almost half way down her back. She wore form fitting black pants, a crimson shirt with full sleeves, and a black sleeveless shirt over that. Her boots were similar to River's, black, leather, and sturdy. River noticed the various weapons strapped over her body. A gun on her leg, a knife in her boot, and a pair of sais about her waist.

And then the man turned to look around, and noticed River. His eyes, the green-grey of jade, locked onto her own golden brown ones. He studied her as well, seeing the flowing skirt, the simple shirt, and her bootless feet. Her hair, dark brown, falling about her face. He said nothing, simply stared until Mal's voice interrupted.

"That's our doctor, and his sister. The rest of the crew is around here somewhere."

"Kaylee's in the engine room," Simon told him, "and Inara is in her shuttle. I'll go get them if you want."

"Why don't you let your sister do that. River?"

She sighed and went off to get Kaylee.

Chinese translations:

mei-mei little sister

Shiong-mung duh kwong-run violent lunatic