A/N: for the purposes of this story, crew ages at the time of OIS are as follows: River-17, Jayne-32, Mal-36, Zoe-35, Wash-33, Simon-27, Inara-28 and Kaylee-22. I know Adam Baldwin is actually in his forties, but Jayne just seems younger to me.
Prologue: Four years ago.
Propping the small capture up on the flight console on the bridge, River positioned herself in the co-pilot chair, directly in front of the capture. Taking a deep breath and pressing a button on the side of it, the crazy genius began her last correspondence with the crew of the Firefly transport Serenity.
It is an old cliché to start how I am, but it will have to do. Captain, by the time you find this capture, I will no longer be onboard. You will find Shuttle 2 at the Eavesdown Docks on Persephone, it is registered under the name of Captain Harbatkin. River paused and took a deep breath, before continuing. The reason I am leaving is simple; it is safer for all, especially yourselves. The blue hands will never stop looking for me… I was their prized subject. Simon, you did your best, but you cannot fix what I am. Captain, you were correct in what you surmised about me, the night that Early came on board. I am an assassin and a reader. It is what I was trained for, broken for… She closed her eyes, fighting for calm, for sanity. Simon, try not to be too much of a boob. Don't push Kaylee away, she is good for you. Captain, I will not tell you not to look for me, because I know you will not listen. But you will not find me; I am very good at disappearing when I need too. Thank you for taking us on board and keeping us safe, even when I brought nothing but trouble and danger. Wash and Zoe; love is the strongest bond there is. Remember that and all else will be fixed in the end. Kaylee; Simon is a boob. He will say and do boob things. But if you can work past that, he will make you happy. Book; some secrets should remain so. Inara; thank you for your many kindnesses. Jayne, please continue protecting this crew, they are family, even if you do not want to admit it. And do not punish yourself for Ariel, I knew and forgave you long ago. Be safe in all endeavours. Goodbye…
Taking a last deep breath, River stopped the recording and stood up, moving the capture over to Wash's console and leaving it there, tucked safely between his beloved dinosaurs. Touching the plastic objects gently, she whispered, "Keep them safe, Serenity."
Reaching out with her mind, she made sure the crew were all still asleep as she locked them all in their bunks. Walking silently to the passenger dorms, she locked Simon in his quarters, before retrieving her few possessions from her own room. Moving out into the bay, she locked Inara's shuttle as well, reprogramming it to unlock again in 5 hours. She had done the same with the rest of the crew. Taking one last look around the bay, the young genius moved into Shuttle 2, disembarked and headed for Persephone.
Once there, she registered the shuttle under the name she had given the Captain. Glancing around Eavesdown Docks, she made sure that no one was watching her, before hefting her pack up on her shoulder. Taking one last glance at the shuttle, she turned away and disappeared into the crowd on the Eavesdown Docks.
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