""It's not going to be easy for her. She was there two years before I could break her out. I've seen what they've done to her, but I can't imagine what two years of torture… She loves this ship, Mal. She loves this crew. It's her family now. It's our family." - Simon Tam
It's been three months since the events of Serenity
, and life for Malcolm Reynolds and his crew is just beginning to get back to normal. River's in training to become the new pilot, Simon and Kaylee are deeply in love, and Mal's even found a steady contract job. Sounds like paradise, right?
Of course, trouble soon rears its head. One day River collapses while on watch, convinced she's killed a man and his blood is on her hands. As it turns out, her conditioning is breaking down and the separation between her true self and the killer within is disappearing. Suddenly she's coping with a personality the Academy brainwashed into her with nothing to stop the memories. And when two passengers turn out to be fugitives from the Alliance, Mal realizes that what happened on Miranda was just the beginning of his struggles against authority - but what will be the cost of his choices?
A very well-thought out story that was created to resolve what was left of River's tale, Presets
bypasses a light-hearted tone to deal with the problems Miranda left behind. Inara and Mal come to grips with their Will They or Won't They?
relationship, Zoe begins to heal from Wash's still-recent demise, Jayne discovers that deep down he does care for everyone on Serenity
, and Simon learns about the true meaning of family. Very well-written.
Presets contains examples of:
- Action Girl: It's freaking Firefly. Zoe and River are the two most prominent examples, though.
- Badass in Distress
- Brainwash Residue
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Combined with Downer Ending to form a bittersweet conclusion.
- Heel-Face Turn
- Heroic BSOD: When Inara discovers she's been suspended from the Guild
- And when Gabriel Tam learns the truth
- And when the entire crew witnesses River's death.
- Heroic Sacrifice: River gets two, one when she returns to the Academy in exchange for the crew of Serenity going free and another when she kills herself to stop the Alliance from retrieving her or persecuting the crew.
- Hostage Situation:
River's Ariel's preferred method of negotiation
- It's All My Fault
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Matthias takes one to try and save River from dying.
- Meaningful Name: River calls her conditioned personality Ariel, because it was imprisoned and then freed and now serves.
- Memory Gambit: Ariel's presence in River's mind wasn't something she knew about until her conditioning started to break down.
- Mind over Matter: Matthias's wife is a Reader who happens to be telekinetic. But in order for her to do anything, she must expend the same amount of mental energy it would take to do the task physically. So anything more than a windstorm is generally impossible.
- Morton's Fork
- My God, What Have I Done?
- Name's the Same: Dr. Matthias Harker (founder of the Academy) and Dr. Matthias No-name-given the doctor who tortured River)
- Scylla and Charybdis: A problem for nearly every character in the story.
- Shown Their Work: The final chapter of the story contains a few paragraphs about the author's approximations of how fast Serenity can travel from planet to planet, down to some equations and references to resources. It shows in-story that she did her research.
- Song Fic: Played with - many scenes and moods in the story are inspired by songs, which are given in the final chapter of the story, but only one song is actually quoted. The characters are actually singing it, because they're musicians, and it's not out of context for the story.
- Superpowered Evil Side: River's conditioned personality, which she grows less and less able to control over the course of the story.
- Take Me Instead
- Telepathy: In this particular flavor of Fanon, Readers are a genetically enabled minority in the population. When Mal actually meets some besides River, they're horrified to discover that she can't filter like they can.