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We see Serenity landing, like a downy feather, and Mal's always cagey around River: "Hey, little one. Understand your part in all this?" She stalks around him madly, not looking in his face. "Do you?" He smiles. "This is what I do, darlin'." But he thinks, and is nervous, because if the Alliance really is getting tighter -- and it's not just more of his dissociation and retreat into his own bitterness that's apparently been going down since the series end six months prior -- he's not exaggerating when he says the stakes are upped. He repeats to himself: "This is what I do." He blusters over to Kaylee, his favorite stress-reducer, and she smiles and tells him to have some faith. "Not today," he says, which is a nice line of dialogue, because it's a joke about how they're going to be landing during Sunday services, but also because faith is a thing he doesn't understand by that name anymore. "If Fanty and Mingo are right about the payroll this could look to be a sunny day for us." In much the same way that the Operative is like a less-interesting Jubal Early with a totally different agenda, Fanty and Mingo are twins, a pair of less-interesting Badgers with the same agenda as everybody else on the outer planets. Simon reaches up to the side of the Mule as they're all packing in: "River, stay behind the others. If there's fighting, drop to the floor or run away. It's okay to leave them to die." Hee! Since Mal can't handle anybody having a better line than him, he jumps in. "Doctor, I'm taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you I will get very choked up. Honestly. There could be tears." Which is a very Joss line, but not as funny as what Simon said.