...."You can't take the sky from me"....

This is the untold story of Taylor Roberts, a man looking to make his way in the outer rim without the Alliance getting in his way. After his old captain retires, Taylor signs up with his captains old friend, Malcolm Reynolds of Serenity. What follows is the view from Taylor's perspective of the infamous ship and crew, and their search to find a job, and keep flying.

I sat in the bar, waiting. Seemed like all I'd done since Monty had said that he was quitting and selling off his ship was wait. I'd been on this dustbowl of a moon for almost two weeks now, waiting for Monty’s old friend Mal to show up. When the crew went our separate ways, and after Monty had paid us all off, I did have a good bonus,  enough to last maybe six months on a decent moon somewhere.  Monty had said that if I wanted to sign up to a good ship with a good crew, he would wave Mal, and see if there was a place for me. That had been three weeks ago… I was one of the last to bid ‘so long’ to Monty, and I did get all  emotional when I walked off the loading ramp carrying my gear for the last time.
So I sat, and I waited. I have been here so long now, I am now on first name terms with the bar-keep, he knows what I want to order before I ask, and I even seem to have my own seat. I hadn't spent so much time in one place since I left home, all those years ago. After handing in my uniform after the war, I bumped into Monty on Haven. I hadn’t planned on shipping out with him for more than maybe five or six months, and that had been almost six years ago. Sitting and waiting gave me the time to remember those years. Travelling all around the border planets, trying to keep one jump ahead of the Alliance, looking for work, of any kind. Six months became six years mighty quick.
The door banging open didn't show it to be Mal. Instead, it was my ‘friend’ the Alliance spokesman. I’d had a tussle with him a few days back, and he still wore the black eye to show for it. He hadn’t like the fact that I was winning all his coin at cards, and he liked it even less when he found out I had fought with the Independents in the war. The drunker he got, the easier he was to bluff, and the more he lost, the drunker and more angry he became. It was inevitable a tussle would be the outcome. He ignored me, but the three men that he was with were taking more than a passing interest. The big question was, at what point would the tussle start again.

“Taylor Roberts?”

I turned my head at the sound of my name, and saw three more figures in silhouette. The man in front wearing a long brown duster had a look of a man expecting an answer. The woman by the side of him looked like she could easily best any man in the bar, and the huge man on the other side of him looked like he could easily snap a table in half with his bare hands. I had met them briefly before, months ago. Mal Reynolds, Captain of Serenity. His first mate Zoe Washburne and the hired gun Jayne Cobb.

“I said, ‘are you Taylor Roberts?’, used to ship out with Monty Reynolds?”
“I am, an' you must be Mal? He'd said that you were gonna be here 'bout 2 weeks ago. I was startin' to think that maybe you had decided against showin'. If the offer of a place on your crew is still on the table, pull up a chair an' lets sort out the finer points.”

Mal pulled a chair out from the table and sat down, Zoe sat at the table next to us, surveying the bar, eyes never staying on one person for more than a few seconds. Jayne took up a place by the bar, but he too is more alert than just casually looking around.

“The offer of a place is still there, but lets get some things straight, first as last. I aint lookin' to take on an extra hand. Truth be told, there hardly seems enough work for me and mine as it is. I told Monty I'd give you a bunk as I owe him more'n a few favours, an' this'll clear some of 'em. My ship already has a Captain, a first mate, a mechanic, a gun hand, a doctor, hell, we even have a gorram Shepherd. Why should I make a place for you on board?”

I looked him straight in the eye. Monty had always said that Mal had a way of cutting straight to the chase, and was the kind of man that appreciated honesty. No point in lying to him.

“Well, I can cook, an' your crew seem to be missin' one of those. I don’t know what Monty may've told you 'bout me, but, in the 6 years I crewed with him, he never once had cause to doubt me, or regret takin' me onto his crew. I'm a qualified pilot, have done more'n my fair share of stitchin' wounds, can fix most things mechanical that need fixin', I won't run from a fight an' if I give my word, I keep it. Cant claim to be a man of God though, although I did once go to church. I don’t expect to be given a free ride, Captain Reynolds, but I also don’t expect to be jerked around. I've been sat here for 2 weeks, an' if it's for you to tell me that there's no place on your crew, then you may as well leave now, before I get more'n a little drunk.”

Mal sat in the chair, and looked directly at me for a few seconds. He then leant back and a small grin broke across his face.

“Huh!. You say you can cook?”
“Without burnin', too.”
“You don’t say? Well, its been a while since we ate somethin' other'n just multi-coloured protein. What do you think Zoe?”

For the first time, Zoe took an active part in the conversation.

“It's up to you Sir. Its like you said, work is hard to come by, an' we're already splittin' our proceeds at least 6 ways. There's a spare crew-bunk, so we wouldn’t need to use up another one of the passenger dorms. Serenity is your ship, an' if you feel a cook is needed, then the choice is yours.”

I got the feeling that she didn't like me much.

“Ok, Mr Roberts. Here’s my offer. Your own bunk, 3 meals a day, which you'll be responsible for cookin' 2 of. After any job we get paid for, the runnin' of the boat comes first. After the costs of fuel an' supplies, the crew gets paid. As the new guy, your share for now'll be 5% of the total take that’s left. Monty said that he trusted you, so that’s good enough for me to begin with, but if you cross me, then I will show you the wrong side of the airlock when we're in flight. If you don’t agree with any of that, then we're done right here an' right now, no harm no foul. We can go our separate ways an' still be friendly.”
“8% of final profits. I've more'n a few contacts on the border worlds, so I was thinkin' I could put some work the way of the crew. When the time comes to be given a full crews share, I'll go along with your decision. An' is there a toilet in the bunk?”
“That there is, complete with a sink too, an' 7.5% is my final offer.”

I waited for a second, not wanting to seem too eager. With a sigh, I leant forward, and held out my hand. Mal leant forward, and a handshake sealed it.

“Call me Mal.”
“Taylor, good to meet you Mal.”
“Shiny! I think this calls for a drink. JAYNE!!, make yourself useful an' get the drinks!”
And, like that, I joined Captain Malcolm Reynolds as part of his crew.

The End

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