DUPLICITY Series: 4. "Inherit The Wind"
Monday, May 5, 2008

"Shepherd Book tries to find out what went wrong. With the crew getting more and more upset the nearer they get to Sihnon no one is aware that more problems are on the horizon."


TITLE: "INHERIT THE WIND" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash, Kaylee/Simon. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "VENGEANCE". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Shepherd Book tries to find out what went wrong. With the crew getting more and more upset the nearer they get to Sihnon no one is aware that more problems are on the horizon." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Inara opened her trunk and began to fold and pack her clothes. Not that she intended on going anywhere but if any of the crew looked in she wanted to play her part to the hilt. The knock on the door brought a quickly hidden smile to her face only it couldn't be Kaylee. The girl would simply have barged in, all tears and wails of outrage. It had taken Inara hours to calm her down enough to have some time to herself. "*Qing jin!*"

"I hope I'm not intruding?"

The Companion smiled at Shepherd Book, comforted to see the look of genuine concern in his eyes. She had always appreciated his courtesy and candour, both rare qualities out in the Black. "*Bushi*, I consider you a valued friend." Inara rose gracefully from her knees and left the half filled trunk to make some tea, her movements elegant and assured as if unaware of the perfect picture she painted. Book watched her for a few moments before speaking, admiring the fluid perfection in even a simple ritual such as this.

"I confess I'm surprised to hear that you're leaving. Not that I wish to pry but I assume the Guild have asked for you as you are returning to Sihnon? Their gain will be our loss."

"*Bu qu*. The Captain asked me to leave, I could hardly refuse."

That surprised him. "Did he give a reason?" Inara gave him a look that said how foolish just such an expectation was. "This is Malcolm Reynolds we're talking about. He probably doesn't know himself."

The Shepherd took the proferred cup and saucer but did not smile back. "*Xie xie ni*." He paused as if carefully sifting through his thoughts. "It's odd."

"*Wo bu dong*, what's odd?"

"That he should give no reason. It's not as if the Captain can afford to turn his back on a regular income."

"Even if it is from a whore?" Inara shook her head as if chastising herself for speaking to a man of faith thus. "*Duibuqi*, you didn't ask for that." She made herself take a couple of deep breaths and allowed her hand to tremble just a little as she brought her cup to her lips to take a measured sip.

"If you think it would help, I could talk to him."

Inara glanced slowly around the shuttle. "I have been to many worlds, lived in the finest houses money could buy. Been courted by the great and the good. Eaten the most exotic food on plates of gold, sipped wines so rare that this ship if sold could barely cover the cost of a single bottle." She sighed softly as if unwittingly confessing a great secret. "Yet nowhere has ever been more of a home to me than Serenity."

Looking down at his cup, Book was at a momentary loss for words. Moved more than he could articulate by the subtle wistfulness in her voice.

"I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

"No, no it isn't that. I just wish there was something I could do. I feel so useless."

Her smile warmed him with affection. "You are helping more than you know just by being here."

Book smiled back while part of him vowed to pin the Captain's ears back until he could make the fool man see sense.

* * * * *

Lips compressing as his face took on a thoughtful expression, Mountjoy checked his star charts not once but over and over again until he was familiar with the piece of Black he would be navigating. His pilot, Tristan, said nothing. Used to the boss's predilection for checking every last detail his ownself. In truth, Tristan liked that the boss was so picky. Meant less fallout for him if something went wrong. His shoulders were wide but not that wide.

Mountjoy gave a soft little grunt and straightened, seemingly satisfied. "Keep to this course, Tris. Another four hours we'll need a course correction, *dong ma*? Want to intercept 'em out of Alliance space."

"We gonna leave 'em cold, *laoban*?"

Cold meant dead in the Black. Declan Mountjoy shook his head. "*Bu qu*. Bein' paid to teach a lesson not end one but that don't mean we can't help ourselves to whatever's fanciable."

The pilot's eyes glittered. He grinned showing gaps in his gold tipped teeth. The effect was not nearly so impressive as the man thought. "Y'think they already got rid of the goods?"

Mountjoy shrugged. "Don't matter none seein' as they won't be makin' the drop anyway." He paused to grin. "Could be we could be a mite helpful an' finish the run, make a tidy stack of coin on the side."

"Badger won't like that."

The Captain of the aging pirate vessel wasn't much phased by the notion of upsetting Badger, not when he already had his excuses worked out in advance. Badger would get his revenge, Reynolds would learn a painful lesson, and he and his crew would carve up the rest between them. He flashed a smile at Tristan, all shark's teeth and no humour. Oh yeah, there were times when living high on the hog came at a terrible price and other times when it all fell in your gorram lap.

* * * * *

Kaylee still wasn't talking to the Captain but at least now she wasn't yelling at Simon like he was the biggest *chunren* in the 'verse. Though it wasn't much Simon would take any improvement he could get. River kept giving him odd looks but every time he turned his head to call her on it her expression became a blank canvas. "River?"

"Can't see the wood for the trees."

Simon held back a sigh, biting back his exasperation. Kaylee's stiff back relaxed a little but she didn't say anything. Still. At least she hadn't stomped out of the kitchen area the moment he had entered. Simon needed to do something with his hands so got busy making the three of them a drink. It was too late for breakfast and too early for dinner which for now meant the commons room and kitchen area was all theirs. "What do you mean, River? There are no trees in the Black."

She had not been speaking literally of course and Simon knew that. He was just hoping to draw her out and shed light on the kind of chaos running rampant in her mind. River didn't want him getting tangled up in the mess she had yet to unravel but soldiering on alone was lonely and she missed him. "Metaphorical. An oblique example."

Kaylee lifted her head out of her hands, showing the first spark of interest in over an hour. "Example of what?"

The girl took a moment, tilting her head and concentrating on something they couldn't see then gave her friend an apologetic look. "Can't see, I'm being blocked."

"Blocked?" Her brother looked shocked. "Are you saying...?"

A faint smile hovered over River's face as if someone was tracing another picture over it. River wondered if she would recognise whoever materialised and which one of them would be the sane one, her or her doppleganger. But was a tracing a true copy or just an outline? She frowned, getting lost in the wayward fashion of arbitrary thoughts. Time and again they distracted her from what was important until the random firing of her brain blurred the line between real and fantasy too much to see clearly. Her thoughts became a miss-matched jumble of barely coherent sentences, fragments of meaning lost in the confusion.


She blinked. When had Simon moved? Why did Kaylee look so concerned? "She's here, listening." Even to her own ears, River's words sounded dull.

Simon hated it when River referred to herself in the third person. It felt as if he was losing her to a madness he could not halt. He decided it would be best to give her a smoother but River reacted before he could tell her.

"No, no needles!"

"Ssssh, River, it's going to be alright, *mei mei*."

She was getting distressed now, trying to pull away from him but she had made the mistake of sitting down and now her chances of flight were diminishing. Her heart beat in an uneven rapid staccato. Could you drown in the panic of your own heartbeat? Racing out of control until the blood vessels burst and your brain died in a bright red rupture of pain was terrifying. River had something important to tell him but she couldn't put it into words, grasp the meaning beyond the slippery instincts screaming at her that they were running out of time. She gasped, Simon wrapped his arms around her, Kaylee murmuring words of comfort into her shoulder. The trembling came next, interspersed with little barely coherent cries swallowed in sobs before the tears came. Kaylee saw the sorry in her eyes and felt her heart miss a beat, then Simon was striding briskly to the infirmary, his now aquiessent sister in his arms.

Kaylee followed and watched Simon carefully lay her on an infirmary bed. River's eyes were open, staring up at the ceiling but without any recognition in them. It frightened Kaylee. Reminded her that though her friend wanted to be a real girl the reality was so far beyond the concept as to seem unattainable. Tears pricked the kindly mechanic's eyes, a feeling of dread and desperation spreading through her heart and she reached out and squeezed River's hand. First Inara was leaving and now River. Kaylee blinked back the threat of tears. Her whole world was starting to unravel in ways that terrified her. She looked at Simon, saw him preparing the injection and felt a lump catch in her throat. River hated being medicated with a singular passion. Letting him do it felt like she was betraying her friend with her silence. "Do ya have to, Simon? Ain't like River's goin' nowhere."

The smile was the doctor's smile, the professional assurance that medicine could cure anything. The Holy Grail that would set them free of all their aches, pains and physical hurts. But Simon was trying to heal the mental component, River's fractured mind, with meds and in that moment it felt wrong to Kaylee. Her hand shot out before she was aware she had moved to stop him. "No!"

Simon stared. Startled and surprised. "Kaylee, this will help. Trust me."

"She's quiet now Simon, no need to be fillin' her with drugs she can't handle."

His mouth opened, shock in his eyes to hear those words from her mouth. "What do you mean drugs she can't handle?"

Suddenly feeling self conscious Kaylee shook her head. "*Wo bu zhidao*, just know River hates it when you do that. Don't seem right to give her smoothers when she ain't fussin' no more."

"Kaylee," Simon carefully put the injection back on the tray "River's sick, she needs help."

"Ain't sayin' that ain't so but druggin' her ain't the answer."

A little thread of irritation wound its' way through Simon's heart and mind. He crossed his arms and looked at Kaylee, the mechanic now holding River's right hand between both of her own. The firm set of her lips and jaw was like a line being drawn in the sand. "The smoother will help keep her calm, Kaylee. You know that, don't you?"

The mechanic was staring down at her friend even though she heard every word Simon said. Knew him for a noble and caring man, a man of learning and medicine. A man whose world was defined by all manner of rules only what ailed River was outside the norm. Something done to her that was beyond her control. She could see it now. The drugs not healing or curing her friend, just keeping her quiet and making them think she was improving. How could standing still be moving forward? What would the cocktail of drugs Simon kept trying on his sister to repair her brain chemistry do to her physical body? Kaylee wasn't smart like Simon. Didn't know a good gorram about the workings of the brain but she knew when something wasn't right. When a thing got broke and couldn't be fixed. When that happened you had to think outside of the box. Use different tools, not go tinkering around inside hoping that the solution would be stumbled on if you just kept trying different combinations. Try that on Serenity and they would be dead in the Black. A floating husk where a living ship had been. The thought made Kaylee shudder and part of her wondered where such fanciful thinking had come from and why she was doubting Simon when everyone knew he was the shiniest doctor in all the 'verse.

* * * * *

Wash hated this. Everyone was all manner of upset and instead of the Captain and Inara clearing the air it just got thicker. Made a man almost choke on the tension. Zoe stood tight lipped next to his chair, arms crossed, eyes staring out at the Black. Having changed course for Sihnon there was little to do apart from minor course corrections and watching to make sure they didn't bump into anything along the way. Wash was thinking Alliance cruisers. Zoe wasn't thinking anything at all.

"*Bao bei*?" It took a couple of tries for Wash to gain her attention.


"Did you speak to the Cap'n?"

She didn't nod or really look at him, just seemed a mite puzzled. "*Qu*, not that I'm any wiser now than I was before."

The pilot frowned. That wasn't good. Everybody knew how close the Captain and first mate were and for the longest time Wash had been jealous and resentful of that. But after all the things they had been through he had come to a level of acceptance, relief even, that what bound them together was greater than the things that drew them apart. "Not that I don't trust the Cap'n's judgement but is he *shenjingbing*? Why does he wanna throw Inara off the ship? *Wo bu dong*."

Zoe put a hand on his shoulder, the touch more reassuring than a dictionary of words though he still liked to hear her talk. Reason out the things that puzzled them both until they made sense. "Don't think we're seein' the whole picture, *zhangfu*." She said softly.

Shaking his head, Wash could not hide his unease. "This's breakin' the crew apart, Zo. Can't he see that?"

She looked at him. "Why do you always say that?"


"You didn't ask why Inara can't see how it's breakin' the crew apart."

"That would be because it's the Cap'n throwin' her off the boat, *bao bei*. Not like Inara's leavin' in a huff."

"As if she hasn't done that before." Zoe murmured.

His sharp ears picked up her tone and homed in on it. "There somethin' I should be knowin'?"

Zoe moved behind his chair and wrapped her arms around his neck. "When I figure it out I'll tell you."

Wash smiled as she nipped his ear with her teeth. "You tryin' to distract me, wife?"

She grinned. "Is it workin'?"

Laughing, Wash spun his chair and drew her into his lap, his strong arms wrapping around her, his mobile face filled with happy and the desire to pass it on. "Could be we need to practice more of that distractin', *bao bei*."

Closing her warm lips over his all coherent thought vanished in the warm glowing burn of need and hunger. Bodies in motion, moulding to each other in a langorous dance that fair stole Wash's breath away. He wasn't concerned about running out of air, Zoe replenishing his flagging lungs from her own supply, hands exploring while the kiss deepened. Distracted, neither of them noticed that one of the lights on the pilot's console had started blinking.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*qing in* = come in! *bushi* = not so *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *xie xie ni* = thank you *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *duibuqi* = sorry *dong ma* = understand? *laoban* = boss *chunren* = fool/jerk *mei mei* = little sister *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *qu* = yes (lit. go) *shenjingbing* = crazy *zhangfu* = husband *bao bei* = precious/teasure


Monday, May 5, 2008 4:58 AM


Simon drugging River and Kaylee getting a bit on the angry side was a good touch. I like your end with Zoe and Wash. It adds that breath of fresh air in the midst of the goings on. Very good! I am eager for more.

Monday, May 5, 2008 5:30 AM


I want more. This is really good stuff your writing here.

Monday, May 5, 2008 1:34 PM


Very interesting, I'm hooked. I like this different version of Inara -adds more mystery.


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.