Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds and his crew aboard Serenity illegally salvage goods from a derelict ship. However, because the goods are marked by the Alliance, and an Alliance ship spotted an out-dated Firefly-class freighter leaving the scene, Mal's fence Badger refuses to handle the goods. Mal has to sell elsewhere. To make extra money, the crew picks up passengers: Shepherd Book, Dr. Simon Tam and Lawrence Dobson. En route to the new buyer, Patience, Dobson turns out to be an Alliance federal agent tracking Simon. Dobson attempts to arrest Simon, but is himself taken prisoner. Simon reveals that his genius sister River Tam, hidden in his luggage, was experimented on by the Alliance and that he is trying to smuggle her to safety. Patience attempts to rob Mal, but Mal takes the payment after a shootout. Lawrence escapes and holds River hostage, but Mal shoots him. Mal offers Simon and River safe haven aboard Serenity.