It's been five years since the "Miranda" incident. Captain Reynolds and the crew of Serenity sit in a silent detente with the Alliance. They went to ground soon after releasing the wave showing the secrets of planet Miranda. The Alliance let them, and truth be told, is glad they went to ground. Even if it makes it harder to find Serenity, it also means no more boat rockin' from her.
The public outburst was loud at first. Quiet out on the rim, where folk worry more 'bout what they don't have, than what others suffer through. Loud in the core, where folk think their rights are important. Loudest on the border worlds, where the loudest folk live, least ways, those loudest against the Alliance. However, like all things, it quieted after a time. Folk grew bored of the news, the panels to investigate, the cabinet meetings to plan to investigate, and the Alliance put a quick smack down on the Cortex to make sure viral information only went so far.
Like all things news-related, it died a sudden, quiet death. The latest fashions, the newest medicines, and the latest tragedies would soon overpower some "scientific debacle" that few cared about and fewer still understood. Miranda is now a "no fly" zone with satellites floating around it for security. If a ship is detected flying near the planet, the satellites send a wave across the Cortex to the Alliance military. Such a message is bound to bring an Alliance cruiser out to investigate.
It's been two years since a cabinet minister had Jack Leland brought up on false charges and ruined his career. Jack financed his lawyer by mortgaging his ship, Aces & Eights. It took nearly two years for the courts to make a ruling, but Jack came out a free man. His crew has since moved on and he's had to hire a new crew. It's not the same, but it's enough.
Jack still owes on Aces & Eights. He's taken to running jobs from it, using whatever money he has left-over after purchasing supplies, paying the crew, and buying his way into high stakes card games, to pay the debt off. His reckons if he can just win big at one of these games, he can pay off this debt, and she'll be all his, once again.
It's about this time that we catch up with some folk destined to become Big Damn Heroes…