To the shock and astonishment of the crew, Icarus arrives without further incident at Hera.
Aida sets the ship down in a canyon a couple of miles from Serenity Valley, and Willem, Leda and Kai decide to do “a bit of recon,” and walk to the Valley. The site of the final battle of the Unification War is a blasted valley filled with memorial stones — looking like Arlington Cemetary, if Arlington had no grass, and the occasional bit of melted rock from orbital bombardment. It is a sobering sight, and the three work their way through the rows of memorials, occasionally passing other people who are here to pay tribute to fallen friends.
As night starts to fall, the three Icarus crewmembers find what they were looking for: The grave marker of Caleb Hart. Below this stone, according to the data encoded in Chow’s cat, is a cache of valuables stolen from the dead….and perhaps something more, given the interest that others have shown for the information, and the world of hurt that has come down upon the Icarus since getting involved. Willem, Kai and Leda decide to head back to the ship, and plan the next move.
Willem’s training kicks in, as he gets the feeling that they are being watched. He tells Leda and Kai of his suspicions, and splits off from the group as they continue on their way towards the ship. Willem moves away from them and takes cover among rocks near the edge of the valley at the canyon’s entrance.
Peering into the darkness, he notices a figure moving from memorial stone to memorial stone, following Leda and Kai. Willem draws his guns, and breaks from cover, hoping to catch the man unawares, and question him. As he nears the first row of memorials, however, he notices the man is really bad at staying hidden: He regularly moves in front of light sources, for example. Willem suddenly realizes that this guy is bait, and must have a partner somewhere. He starts looking around, quickly.
Willem spots the distinctive reflection of light from a scope, coming from the steeple of the church in Serenity View, the village on the far side of the valley. “Ta Ma Duh“….he realizes that means that the scope is aimed directly at him. He dives for cover, and that is all that saves him, as the silenced shot from a sniper rifle tears into the side of his skull, rather than striking him full-on. He falls to the ground, unconscious and near death.
Kai and Leda head back for him, and call the ship to let them know the situation. Aida stays on the ship with Renner, and Gideon and Jules hop into the Mule and speed off to the rescue.
Kai heads directly for Willem, hoping to give medical attention, as Leda looks for the decoy who had been following them. She spots him, moving through the rows towards the spot where Willem fell. She brings up her assault rifle and fires two shots in rapid succession, and the man falls. Unfortunately, the muzzle flash brings her to the attention of the sniper in the village, who opens fire. Leda drops behind a memorial stone, and gets showered with concrete shavings as the sniper pins her down.
Kai reaches Willem and realizes that there’s nothing she can do for him until she can get him into the infirmary back on Icarus.
Jules stops the Mule just inside the canyon, and Gideon gets out and finds some cover. She starts looking for the sniper through her own rifle’s scope. She finds him, in the steeple of the village church, currently trying to get a clean shot at Leda. Gideon calmly lines up her shot, and turns his head into a fine red mist.
The crew quickly carries Willem to the Mule. Leda finds the man she shot, hoping to question him, but he’s dead. She grabs his identicard, and hops on to the Mule. Everyone returns to the ship.
Kai starts surgery on Willem. A tense three hours passes, but she’s successful. She keeps him sedated — he’ll need more than three weeks of rest to heal completely.
Aida runs the identicard and discovers that the man who Leda shot was a Browncoat, wanted by the Alliance for “terrorist activities.” So apparently, the team that was watching for anyone showing interest at the false grave were Browncoats.
In the morning, Renner, Gideon, Jules and Leda decide to head into Serenity View and see what they can find out. Gideon suggests Kai come along. “Can’t,” Kai says, indicating Willem. “Patient.”
“Stable patient,” says Gideon, pointing at Willem. She then points to herself and the others. “Potential patients. Just sayin’.” Kai, however, is resolute, and stays on the ship with Aida and Willem.
The four crewmembers take the Mule into the village of Serenity View, a rundown settlement that only survives on providing meals and places to stay for people coming to visit the gravesites. As they enter town, they notice that the entrance to the church is blocked by Police Tape. They go to a nearby inn, where Renner slaps down his credit and orders drinks.
They discover from the innkeeper that there was a double-homicide last night. Nobody knows much, but apparently the Preacher and his partner are both dead.
Meanwhile, back aboard Icarus, Aida makes an unpleasant discovery. She picks up traffic between a vessel in orbit and Hera Traffic Control:
“Attention, Hera Traffic Control. This is the Alliance cruiser Mountbatten. We are on routine patrol and will be in orbit until further notice.”
She goes cold. From her days flying for the Alliance, she knows that staying in orbit “until further notice” is not part of a routine patrol. She gets on the comm and calls everybody back to the ship.
By the time they get back to Icarus, she has even worse news:
The use of Renner’s credit was red-flagged….and that information was forwarded to the cruiser in orbit.
Renner’s identity was never erased….but it never occurred to them that he might have been tagged for observation…and now a vessel the size of a city sits in orbit above them, and knows that they’re here.