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Captain Malcolm Reynolds
- Batman Gambit: Sets up a hell of one during "Silver."
- The Chains of Commanding: Weighs down on him terribly as the storyline progresses.
- Drop the Hammer: His "lucky sledgehammer."
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Subverted; His attempt at trying to get information out of one of Niska's goons fails terribly.
- Parental Substitute: For River.
- Put on a Bus: During the "Charity" arc, he is critically injured, and the next couple of "episodes" involve him being comatose.
- UST: With Inara, growing steadily more intense as the story progresses.
- Would Hit a Girl: Is perfectly willing to smack the crap out of River when she goes nuts.
Zoe Alleyne Washburne
- Action Mom: Hasn't given birth yet, but....
- The Chains of Commanding: When Mal is put under, she starts experiencing the same stress.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Shoots down a gunship with a lever-action rifle.
- Mama Bear: Exploited by Katie with her Inducer powers.
- Nerves of Steel: How she Manages to kill Katie, by blocking out her Induced feelings for her and shooting her.
- Parental Substitute: Starts filling in as one for River.
- Pregnant Badass: For most of the story, at least since the "Mosaic" plot arc.
- Time to Step Up, Commander: She's trying, with Mal in a coma, but the stress is eating at her.
- Bad Dreams: Referencing Alan Tyduk's unofficial history for Wash.
- For Want of a Nail: Turning in his chair before delivering his Famous Last Words turns out to have saved his life, if not leaving a hell of a scar.
- Ramming Always Works: Serenity isn't armed, so....
- Took a Level in Badass: When storming Niska's ship to save Jayne and River, he's proved to be no slouch and learned how to fight well.
- Ancestral Weapon: Vera.
- Badass in Distress: During "Business".
- Big Brother Instinct: Toward River.
- Combat Pragmatist: Both as a teenager and as an adult, Jayne fights dirty.
- Dirty Mind-Reading: Uses this to get River's attention when they couldn't talk by thinking inappropriate thoughts about her.
- Full-Frontal Assault: In "Silver."
- Guns Akimbo: With Vera and a machinegun, Salvador-style.
- Hidden Depths: "Last Man" shows a whole heap of them.
- Ship Tease: With River.
- Unstoppable Rage: When Jayne sees red, it is not going to end well for his enemies.
Kaywinnit Lee "Kaylee" Frye
- Improvised Weapon: Planned out and assembled an anti-ship missile with spare parts, a cannibalized thruster, an old drone.
- Powered Armor: The power loader in "Hunt."
- Took a Level in Badass: The aforementioned power loader is used to kill a Hand of Blue.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Mal, especially in "Adrift" when she actually goes against Mal's orders to save Simon.
- Lady of War: Inara kicks plenty of ass, particularly with her torque bow.
- There Are No Therapists: She's all they've got when it comes to trying to treat River.
- UST: Heavily, with Mal.
- Big Damn Heroes: Multiple times, often without warning. People keep underestimating him.
- Took a Level in Badass: Completely decks Dumant when he assaults Inara, then knocks him to the floor a second time.
- Axe-Crazy: Still bonkers, but getting better.
- The revelation in "Wrath" seems to have driven her into even more violent mood swings.
- Badass in Distress: In "Business." Also, The end of "Last Man" and all of "Wrath".
- Big Damn Heroes: Subverted in "Adrift." She saves Simon and Book from Reavers, only to get shot in the midst of the horde, and Book has to rescue her.
- Break the Cutie: River gets put through the wringer in this fic, with her torture by Niska being just the start.
- Combat Pragmatist: When River is faced with an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who has dreamed of fighting her, her response is to shoot him twice in the throat.
- Cool Sword: Laertes.
- Cyborg: Thanks to nanomachines constructing a neural lace inside her brain.
- Determinator: "Fourth Interlude." All of it.
- The Empath: Literally, as that is the designation that the Academy gave psychics with her abilities.
- Freak-Out: When she shot Simon, then butchered a Hand of Blue in an Unstoppable Rage and realized how much she let "the weapon" control her.
- I Am Not a Gun: Asserts this in the "First Interlude." Her desire to grow beyond her mental scarring drives most of her character arc.
- Invincible Hero: Averted. Word of God is that he hates stories where River is the "solve everything" button and deliberately made her into a vulnerable, mentally unstable Glass Cannon.
- Painting the Medium: Scenes from her perspective are off-kilter, centered, and with seemingly random boldings, capitalization, and other font changes.
- Ship Tease: With Jayne, Garis, and a little bit with Mal.
- Shock and Awe: Her "electrosword," dubbed "Laertes."
- Survival Mantra: "I am functional."
- Your Days Are Numbered: The neural lace growing in her brain will eventually construct a miniaturized Cortex receiver that will pick up signals that can either take control of her mind or simply kill her outright.
Shepherd Derrial Book
- Badass Preacher: Heading into One-Man Army territory when he rescues River from the Reavers.
- Canon Discontinuity: The story ignores "The Shepherd's Tale" in favor of the fan-theory that Book is a former Operative.
- For Want of a Nail: His survival in the events from the movie is due to Simon finding him first, not Mal.
- Improvised Weapon: He can rig up an explosive charge that can shoot down a heavily-armored spaceship with a few engine parts.
- Noodle Incident: Whatever happened between him and Lancaster. It involved Reavers, that much is clear.
- Retired Badass
- Stealth Expert: Took down three Talon mercenaries and got the drop on the one holding Mal hostage without making a sound.
- Sword and Gun: When he tears up an entire Reaver assault force on his own.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Eventually drops it, realizing that no, he can't hold back against some enemies.
Mr. Armand and Mr. Domali, Mr. Quinn and Mr. Eisen, Mr. Coral and Mr. WallaceThree of the mysterious Hands of Blue teams. Armand and Domali were dispatched to recapture River when Niska attempted to collect the bounty on her. Quinn and Eisen appear later in "Hunt," where they are hunting River and Inducer One-One-Nine. Coral and Wallace appear in "Wrath."
- Anti-Magic: as Blanks, they are immune to psychic effects. River can't predict what they're going to do or read their minds, while Inducers can't influence them.
- Badass in a Nice Suit
- Combat Pragmatist
- Last-Name Basis
- Lightning Bruiser: thanks to their Powered Armor.
- Mage Killer: Specialists in hunting down psychics, due to being Blanks.
- Powered Armor: the blue bodysuits they wear under their normal suits are a form of "low-profile" armor that enhances their speed and strength.
- Those Two Bad Guys
John Garis, aka "Echo," aka Blank One-One-SevenAn agent of the Academy, and a Blank - a person who is immune to psychic effects. Was assigned to River as an "emotional anchor" during her time at the Academy to prevent her from committing suicide, and has been dispatched to find and bring her back.
- Affably Evil
- Living Emotional Crutch: For River.
- Stalker With a Crush: All indications are that he really does care about River, and may even love her.
Inducer One-One-Nine, aka Kathryn WadeAn Inducer-type psychic, who can effect human minds to generate emotional responses. Believed to be both one of the most powerful Inducers the Academy has produced, and also one of the most stable. Has been hiding out on the moon Victoria, and encountered by Serenity's crew in the "Charity" story arc. Is actually a nine-year-old girl who mind-controlled one of the Academy's doctors and made him extract her from the facility, and the subsequently killed him.
- Creepy Child
- Didn't See That Coming: Didn't anticipate Zoe's ability to shut her emotions off with iron discipline. That allows Zoe to get the drop on her.
- Emotion Bomb: Her primary weapon.
- Enfante Terrible: Deconstructed; as a child, she has extremely poor impulse control, driving her to kill perceived threats or people who she hates without thinking about the consequences.
- Expy: Of Alma Wade. Its even there in her name.
- Foil: To River.
- The Nondescript: Has the ability to make people literally not notice her at all, either by distracting them or by simply making herself appear unnoticable.
- Mind Manipulation / Mind Rape: An Inducer psychic's specialty.
- Villainous Breakdown: When River fights back against her, she becomes much more violent and hysterical. She goes to extremes when River compares her to the doctors at the Academy.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Claims to be one of these, at least.
Director Mamjudar WhitmanThe current head of the Academy, formerly head of the Academy's "Asylum" program, and gained his job by strangling the former Director and incinerating his corpse.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Extremely dark version; Havelock only lets him keep his position because he's much more competent at it than his predecessor. She even notes that the Asylum was the most "twisted" part of an already twisted program in general.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive
- Evil Genius: Creator of the Merlin supersoldiers, and apparently ironed out the issues with whatever the "Cerberus" program was.
- Expy: Of Handsome Jack, minus the Knight Templar tendencies and more crazy. Confirmed by Word of God.
- Faux Affably Evil: Puts on a veneer of smooth politeness, but Havelock is not fooled. He's crazy and she knows it.
- Klingon Promotion: How he got his job.
- Mad Scientist: Admits that he had a hand in the Asylum's procedures, and even "did a bit of the cutting."
- Playing with Syringes
Admiral HavelockAn Alliance Navy officer and head of Naval Special Research Command, which contracted out the entire Academy program to Blue Sun. Has a serious distaste for the program but accepts it as necessary.
- Evil Cripple
- Necessarily Evil
- Only Sane Man
- Shout-Out: Bears the same name as a certain Dishonored character.
- You Have Failed Me: Was on the verge of shutting down the program when Whitman took over.
"Lancelot"One of the "Merlin" soldiers created by the Academy. River encounters him on Persephone during "Wrath"....and loses. Has a personal grudge against River, going by his memories, though whether this is honest or a product of the Academy's mind-breaking experiments is unclear.
- Brown Note: He uses his own memories as weapons to stun and incapacitate River.
- Cyborg: Going by River's analysis, he has cybernetic augmentations to both his body and his brain, on top of his armor.
- The Faceless
- Mind Rape: See Brown Note.
- Psychic Powers
- The Power of Hate: Seems to be his dominant emorion, and he directs it at River so intensely that it leaves her a shaking, helpless wreck.
- Terse Talker: Speaks in short sentences, both when communicating with the Hands and when taunting River.
- Theme Naming: Like the other Merlins, he is named for one of the Knights of the Round Table.
Corporal Ashley FryeKaylee's sister and a soldier with the Alliance military. Appeared during the events of the second story arc, "Condor." Somewhat estranged from her sister, implied to be because of her service with the Alliance. Appears later, and currently teamed up with John Garis in order to find her "missing" sister.
- Action Girl
- Cool Big Sis
- Girl of the Week: For Jayne, at least.
- Shout-Out: Her name appears to be a reference to Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams.
- The Unfavorite: None of the other Fryes will talk to her, presumably because she supported unification.
Colonel Lee ObrinMal and Zoe's commander during the Unification War, who is leading a resistance cell of Browncoats on Persephone. Wants to use River as a weapon against the Alliance, and is willing to use Mal and Zoe as leverage.
- Affably Evil
- Face–Heel Turn
- He Who Fights Monsters
- Knight Templar
- Not So Different: Mal accuses him of being no different from the Alliance when he says he wants to use River as a weapon.
- The Remnant
- You Have Failed Me: "Nemo" executes him because he alienated Mal from the Browncoat cause.
The OperativeA different Operative from the original, who is assigned to hunt down Lancaster after he recovers data on the Academy for Book.
Colonel (ret.) Rishard DannettCombat instructor at the Academy who was responsible for River's physical training. River confronts him at the end of the "Silver" arc.
- The Atoner: Was so deeply guilt-ridden by his work at the Academy that, in his own words, he had to either retire or kill himself.
- Cool Old Guy
- Pet the Dog: he sees River as a person, not a weapon, which is why he left the Academy.
- Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: To River.
Shin Yan DumantProminent art and artifact dealer on the colony of Silverhold. Also head of an enhanced organ smuggling operation, and grows organs in the bodies of lobotomized human slaves.
The Six RiflesSix men came to kill Jayne one time. Turns out they were a famous team of mercenaries who were hired to go after him (and the robbery crew he was on) after he killed the wrong man's relations. The Six are generally referred to by their nationalities instead of their names. One of them appears to have survived their tussle with Jayne, and comes for payback years later.
- A Father to His Men: Konstantin really does care about the rest of the Six, which results in him getting epically pissed when Jayne starts killing them. This attitude seems to have faded by the present, where getting revenge on Jayne has consumed him completely and he no longer cares about his men.
- Badass Crew
- Berserk Button: Jayne is the Cossack's, and doubly so when Jayne deliberately taunts him about his missing arm and leg.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Mongol is mostly kept around by Konstantin because he's an expert with electronics, despite the fact that he's apparently a complete psycho.
- Determinator: The Frenchman in the flashbacks, and the Cossack in the present. The former survives a incredible beating (only going down when Jayne blows up his head with a shot from Vera) and even manages to chase Jayne with a bullet in both kneecaps. The latter keeps chasing Jayne with a mindless, hate-fill determination that ignores any other injuries, and only stops after getting blown up, one arm shot off, shot six times at point-blank by Wash, and stabbed in the armpit by Jayne.
- Dwindling Party: Jayne keeps killing the Six one by one in the flashback, usually through high explosives and cleverness. The chapter titles lampshade this, keeping track of how many of the Six are still present. The Brit was killed by being set on fire and shot repeatedly, and the Syrian was killed by mining explosives.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Konstantin does not condone torture, and he's not a fan of collateral damage. The American also seems to hate being contracted to kill teenagers, to the point where he is deliberately missing Jayne and trying to keep the rest of the Six from killing him.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": All of the Six are known by their nationalities/ethnicities, and only three of them have known names. None of the Six know the Mongol's name.
- Friendly Sniper: The American is a pretty friendly guy (except to the Mongol) who seems to be affected by all the killing he's had to do. He's also all but outright said to be Jayne's uncle.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble
- "The Cossack" (aka Alexi Konstantin) is Sanguine
- Both "the American" (aka Andy) and "the Brit" are Choleric
- Both "the Mongol" and "the Syrian" are Melancholic
- "The Frenchman" (aka Gustav) is Plegmatic
- Heroic Sacrifice: Andy, to save Jayne.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The Brit and the Frenchman. The Mongol pokes fun at this.
- Infernal Retaliation: The Brit very nearly kills Jayne after Jayne sets him on fire with a gas bomb.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: It is all but outright stated that the American is Jayne's uncle.
- Made of Iron: The Frenchman. Survives an exploding building, a collapsing dam, and then six gunshot wounds, two from a pistol and four from Vera. Jayne finally kills him by blowing off his head with a fifth shot from Vera.
- Man on Fire: The Brit, when Jayne catches him in an improvised gasoline bomb. It just pisses the Brit off.
- The Medic: The Syrian
- Hollywood Cyborg: Konstantin appears to have lost both an arm and a leg and had them replaced by cybernetic limbs. It turns out that the American was the one who inflicted those injuries.
- Noodle Incident: the "Boros job."
- Posthumous Character: Everyone except Konstantin is apparently dead by the time he shows up get revenge. Three of them were killed against Jayne the first time, the American was killed by Konstantin, and the Mongol was killed in the Third Interlude.
- The Quiet One: The Frenchman, who mostly communicates through grunts and smacks to the back of the head. When he does talk, it is in unclear mutters.
- Rasputinian Death: Several of the Six take a lot of killing before they go down.
- Sarcastic Devotee: The Brit.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The American hates the Mongol.
- Thicker Than Water: If the American is actually the same Andrew Cobb that Jayne mentioned at the start of the story, then he turned on the Six to save his nephew.
- Those Two Guys: The Brit and the Frenchman.
- Torture Technician: The Mongol, though Konstantin does not let him "indulge."
- Tranquil Fury: When the Brit is killed by Jayne, the Frenchman's response is a very directed, but very cold fury as he relentlessly pursues Jayne.
- Villainous Breakdown: Konstantin steadily loses it over the course of the storyline, both in the flashback and in the present. He's more controlled in the flashback, where he only gets angrier as his men get killed, but in the present, he becomes so singularly obsessed with killing Jayne that he shoots one of his own men when he suggests they stop and get reinforcements.
Doctor Abu Mustafa Muhammad Ibn Haroun al-RashidA doctor who runs a free hospital on the planet Oberon. River, badly wounded while fighting a gang of pirates, ends up in his hospital. He also runs a martial arts school, teaching prospective students and offering patients courses to help with their mental therapy. As she recovers, he offers to help River recover both physically and mentally. There are storng hints that there is more than meets the eye with him, and he is both hostile to the Alliance and familiar with psychic abilities like River's.
- Badass Beard: River jokes that about a third of his bodyweight is taken up by his beard. It's such a prominient feature that River alternately calls him "Doctor Beard."
- Badass Boast: "If others come, they will need a cruiser to breach these walls." This is said in response to River becoming worried that the Alliance will come after her if they find her in the hospital.
- Badass Grandpa: River dubs him "Old Man Kickass" for a reason. And its an apt name, considering that despite his advanced age, he can defeat River consistently. He is also completely unafraid of the Alliance.
- Combat Medic: See above. Any doctor able to repeatedly and consistently defeat River in hand-to-hand definitely counts.
- Cool Old Guy
- Crazy-Prepared: River notes that when they are preparing to meet Nemo, he is armed with two pistols, five blades of various sizes (one of them apparently a scimitar) and a shotgun, and these are just the ones he's checking at that moment.
- Dark and Troubled Past: River knows he has some kind of ugly secret in his past that fuels his hatred for the Alliance, but doesn't wish to dig it up. He is also familiar with men like Nemo/the Operative, and he is also aware that River is psychic. Turns out that he was part of a Browncoat initiative to do the same thing the Academy was trying: create psychic supersoldiers. But the operation never progressed very far.
- Expy: Of Al-Mualim. Word of God is that he sounds like by Peter Reneday, he is a dangerous and skilled old man who runs a school for martial arts, and he has secret knowledge about a character with superhuman powers.
- Frontier Doctor: Though he runs a modern, advanced hospital and martial arts school.
- Old Master: Fits the archetype closely, and fittingly, he is able to defeat River in hand to hand.
- Warrior Therapist: Literally. He actively trains River in his martial style to help her overcome her own self-doubts and her mental conditioning to rely on "the weapon". He actually references Sheng-Ji Yang when explaining his philosophy to River."That is part of my style's basis: Discipline and awareness. Observing incoming data, understanding it, comprehending it, and exploiting it. In the end, all of it - the pain, the teachings, and even your 'weapon' - all of it is just input. Data, fed into the wetware and chemistry that is your brain."He looked back to her, meeting her eyes."It is a deceptively simple concept, isn't it? Take control of the input, and you shall become master of the output."