BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Prospero's Legacy - Part XI
Monday, September 22, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Inara deals with the Alliance, but there are more visitors. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2077    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Inara stood outside her home, watching the Alliance shuttle coming in to land, the downdraught catching the tiny paper planes and tossing them high into the air. Not that it looked anything like the shuttles she was used to. This could almost have swallowed Serenity, with room to spare.

Sam had wanted her to hide.

“Inara, you have to come inside.” He was standing in the open entrance to the shelter.

“No. They’re expecting to find me here, so I’d better be.”

“I’ll do it. I’ll stay.”

“No. You have to look after the children.” She looked past him to where she could see frightened faces. “They need you.”

“Inara, they need you more.”

“And I won’t be on my own. Mr and Mrs Boden are staying with me.”

Sam shook his head. “Then let me do it, Inara. I can deal with the Alliance. I’m a respected doctor, and -”

“No, Sam. This is my house, and I’m not going to let them frighten me away.”

He gazed at her, seeing the steel within, the way she’d drawn herself up, and he couldn’t help it. “I love you,” he said softly.

It threw her slightly, and she rewarded him with a smile. “I love you too,” she responded, lifting a hand to place it against his olive cheek. “Now, go inside. Keep them safe.”

He didn’t argue, just stepped back and let the door close, its seams disappearing into the wall as a testament to Mr Boden’s skills, and she’d hurried back upstairs.

The shuttle’s engines shut down, and barely a second later the main hatch opened and a dozen soldiers poured out, guns at the ready.

Inara swallowed.

A woman stepped out of the shuttle, her Alliance uniform crisp, her hair tightly controlled under the peak cap, her skin the colour of polished walnut. She straightened her jacket and strode forward.

“All of this, just for me?” Inara asked, bringing all her Companion training to the fore. “I had no idea I was so important.”

“Miss Inara Serra?” the woman asked.

“Yes.”

“I am Commander Markham of the IAV Shackleton.” She sounded bored and annoyed, not a good combination when linked to the gun conspicuous at her waist. “You are required by the order of the Allied Planets to comply in all matters. Failure to do so -”

“Excuse me?” Inara interrupted. “What exactly are you accusing me of?”

The woman looked displeased at not being allowed to get out all of her spiel. “Failure to do so will result in yourself and anyone else on the property being bound and held in Alliance custody until such time as you are deemed no longer a threat. To this end we intend to search as we deem fit.” She raised one hand, and six of her men hurried into the house, another four heading around to the back.

“Search? Search for what?” Inara didn’t have to pretend shock. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“My job.” The woman looked her up and down. “Who is currently living here?”

“Myself, and my housekeeper and her husband. My partner is away on business.”

“Partner?” Markham pulled a small reader from her pocket, checking it. “Ah, yes. A Dr Samuel Nazir.”

Inara’s mouth tightened. “I didn’t realise that was common knowledge.”

“The Alliance knows everything, Miss Serra.” She glanced at the reader again. “And the young women? I understand you have four sisters staying with you.”

The Reilly girls. Inara tried not to look surprised. “They’re staying with friends.”

“How … convenient.”

“Very.” She took a deep breath. “Commander, before I answer any more of your questions, I demand to know what this is all about.”

Markham couldn’t have looked more contemptuous if she tried. “Miss Serra, your demands are irrelevant. Now I suggest you stand to one side and let us carry out our work. Unless you want to be arrested right now.” She walked purposefully past Inara and followed her men inside.

Inara stared at the two soldiers left on guard, her heart pounding in her chest. Somehow she didn’t think it was the children they were after, but that meant –

A crash echoed from the house, and Mrs Boden appeared in the doorway. “Madam …” she began, anger on her normally impassive face.

Fire burned up through Inara. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Go back to the kitchen and try and stop them breaking too much. Tell Mr Boden to do the same in the out buildings. I’ll deal with the Commander.”

---

“They’re searching the house,” Bethie said to Sam, talking quietly even though she knew the soldiers couldn’t hear them.

“Are they looking for you?” he asked, not putting anything past the Alliance.

Bethie shrugged.

Rosemary, one of the Reilly twins still with Inara, whimpered slightly. “I’m scared,” she whispered. “Shouldn’t we just go and tell them we’re here? They’re Alliance. They won’t hurt us.”

Sam shook his head. “We don’t know that. Better we stay where we are.”

“But they’re searching. Bethie said. And if they find us they might -”

Ethan climbed down from the cot bed, his cat in his arms, and walked towards her. “Rosie?”

The young girl looked at him. “What?”

“I’m scared too,” he admitted, his blue eyes dark in this light, but radiating sympathy. “I need a hug.”

She blinked at him. “You do?”

“’Es. And my Mama and Daddy aren’t here to do it. Will you hug me?”

“I …” Rosemary stared, but something inside her softened. “Course I will.”

Sam watched in something like amazement as the Reilly girls surrounded the little boy and cuddled him between them, Maoli making loud purrs of appreciation. Then he felt a little hand slip into his, and he glanced down to see Bethie gazing at him.

“Just like his momma,” she whispered.

Sam nodded. “That he is.” Ethan might be too young to put into words what he’d just done, but Sam knew he understood. Bethie was right – he might be the spitting image of his father, but Ethan was just like Freya.

“Uncle Mal used to be too,” Bethie added, climbing into his lap. “When he was little.”

“Then your Uncle Mal and Auntie Frey fit well, don’t they?”

“Miss them,” she said on a soft breath. “All of them. ‘Specially …” Her voice faded to nothing as she thought of her own mother and father.

“I know, honey,” Sam said, holding her close. “I know.”

---

Above them, in the drawing room of her house, Inara was livid. “How dare you come into my home and do this?” She indicated the mess they’d made, pulling every cushion from each seat, overturning furniture and emptying cupboards, not caring if they broke anything.

Commander Amy Markham turned to look at the ex-Companion. “You are under suspicion of harbouring terrorists,” she said, her face and voice hard. “I don’t think you should complain too much.”

“Harbouring …” Inara couldn’t believe it, then heard the sound of yet another vase crashing to the ground upstairs. “Are you insane?”

“Miss Serra, you are no longer under the protection of the Guild.” Markham stepped closer. “And as a loyal subject of the Alliance, you would do well to remember that.”

“And as a subject of the Alliance, I have rights. And one of those is to not have soldiers rampaging through my house tearing everything to pieces!” Even when the Reavers had desecrated her shuttle on Corvus she hadn’t felt such anger.

“Then I suggest you make a claim for compensation. You might be lucky.” Markham almost sneered. “Where are they?”

“Who?”

“The New Browncoats. The Independent scum you are known to have fraternised with.” She looked the other woman up and down, and shook her head. “A woman of your standing, taking passage on a Firefly. Did you think you could drop off the radar like that?”

Inara drew herself up. “What I chose to do was my own affair.”

“So I understand.” Markham picked up a cushion, running her fingers across the delicate embroidery, then dropped it to the floor as if it was the most tainted thing she had ever seen. “Where are they?”

“If you mean the crew I was with for a short time, I have no idea. The captain and I argued, and he put me off his vessel. I was lucky enough to find this house, and –”

“I don’t believe you.” She half turned, grinding her heel into the cushion’s fabric.

“I don’t care what you believe. You’ve searched my home from top to bottom, all the out buildings, and you’ve found nothing. Doesn’t that suggest to you that I have nothing to hide?”

Markham shrugged. “And yet you’re complaining.”

“Of course I am!” On the edge of her hearing Inara detected the sound of a ship coming in to land, but was so incensed with anger that she ignored it. “You have no right to barge in like this!”

The Alliance Commander swept an arm through the remaining trinkets on top of a table, scattering them to the floor. “To the contrary. I am within my rights to raze this house to the ground if I so choose,” she said darkly. “Just to keep it from being used as an Independent base.”

“You wouldn’t.” Inara’s voice had dropped in shock. Not from the prospect of losing what was her beautiful home, but in worry about what would happen to the others hiding in the shelter beneath if that happened.

“If you continue to obstruct me in my duties, I will have no alternative but to -”

The door slammed open and Dillon Malfrey strode in, followed by one of the soldiers who had been on guard at the front of the house. He looked unsure as to whether to fire or not.

“What the diyu is going on here?” Dillon demanded to know.

“Who are you?” Markham asked in turn.

Inara couldn’t help the small sigh of relief escape her lips. “Oh, Dillon,” she said, hurrying to his side. “I’m so glad to see you.”

“It’s all right, my dear.” He put his arm around her. “I will deal with this.” He looked back at the Commander. “Well? I’m waiting.”

“As am I.” Her fingers were touching the pistol at her waist.

“Dillon Malfrey. And I insist you tell me what you’re doing in this house.”

Markham’s eyebrows raised a millimetre. Having been raised on Persephone, the name wasn't unfamiliar to her. “I have my orders,” she said with slightly more respect.

“And they would be?”

“To apprehend any terrorists, Independents or Browncoats.”

Dillon grunted, almost laughing. “And you seriously expect me to believe you think they’re hiding here?”

“We have information that a Firefly –“

“Your information is wrong.” He glared at her. “I know all about what you’re doing here, Commander. What your people are doing all over this quadrant. Harassing innocent people in an attempt to flush out these so-called New Browncoats.” He shook his head. “Well, they’re not here. So I suggest you leave.”

“I have orders to –“

“You have nothing!” His voice thundered from the walls. “And be absolutely sure on this: I shall be discussing this matter with your superiors.”

Commander Markham looked as if she was going to argue, but instead pointedly removed her hand from her gun. “Mr Malfrey, you’re not above the law. But as it stands there appears to be nothing to find.” She stepped closer to Inara. “However, if we receive information that you have harboured terrorists, then no matter how high your friends, you will be bound. Do I make myself clear?”

Inara drew herself up, her back straight. “Perfectly.”

Markham’s eyes narrowed, but she merely clicked her fingers and swept out.

Dillon waited until he heard the front door slam before asking, “Inara, my dear, are you all right?” He manoeuvred the ex-Companion to a chair, the only one in the room still upright.

Inara sank down gratefully. “I'm fine, Dillon. At least now.” She looked around at the destruction. “I have to say, if you hadn’t arrived at that particular moment I’d probably have done something inappropriate, like scratched that woman’s eyes out.”

Dillon smiled. “I think that’s the least you would have done, and probably been thrown in jail for it.”

“It might have been worth it.”

“That I would have paid to see.” He lifted his head slightly as the sound of the Alliance shuttle taking off roared above. “I take it Mal isn’t here.”

“No.” She ran a hand through her hair, patting it into place. “He left the children and went again.”

“Any idea where?”

“No.” Inara took a deep breath. “It was agreed that I wouldn’t call him, or him me. Safer for everyone.” She stood up. “In fact –“

The door opened again, and a man stood framed. “Dillon?”

Inara stared. Something about him was familiar, but she was certain she’d never seen him before. Then something clicked. “Are you Freya’s brother?”

Alex smiled, bowing ever so slightly. “That I am.”

“You look just like …” She gathered herself. “But you know that.”

“Believe me, since I’d gone so long thinking my sister was dead, it’s gratifying to know that there are some similarities.”

“Are you equally as annoying?”

“Absolutely.” The smile turned to a grin, taking years off him.

“Then I’m sure we’ll get on famously.” She bent down and picked up a silver capture frame, the images still slowly changing, replacing it on the table. “I apologise for the state of my home, but there was very little I could do about it.”

“I saw them leave,” Alex said. “Breed’s making sure they’re headed out of atmo.”

“Breed’s here too?” Inara looked from one man to the other. “And what are you doing here, Dillon?”

“Being the cavalry, it seems.” He tried not to look smug.

“Apart from that.”

“Well, I –“ He stopped short as a small whirlwind barrelled through the door and attached itself to his leg.

“Hello, Uncle Dillon,” Bethie said, smiling widely.

He smiled down at her, and he stroked her hair. “Hello, sweetie.”

Sam ran in. “I'm sorry,” he said. “She told me the Alliance had gone, but as soon as I opened the door she … oh. I didn’t know you still had guests.” His hand hovered close to the base of his spine and the small pistol he had secreted there.

“It’s all right, Sam,” Inara said quickly. “These are friends.”

“I don’t think we’ve met,” Dillon put in. “Malfrey. Dillon Malfrey. And this is Alex Rostov.”

Sam’s eyebrows went up. “Freya’s brother?”

“The very same.”

They all shook hands, Inara taking Sam’s arm. “They were just about to tell me what they’re doing here,” she explained.

“Looking for Mal,” Dillon said succinctly. “We’ve got some information he needs to have.”

“Daddy?” Ethan leaned in the open doorway.

“You should still be down in the shelter,” Inara said, going down onto her heels and looking into the little boy’s face.

“Man of the house,” he said quietly. “Daddy said so.”

Inara looked up at Sam. “I think your position has been usurped.”

“Auntie ‘Nara, what does usurped mean?” Bethie put in.

“I’ll explain later. Now, I think you’d better go and –“ She was interrupted by a chirping from Dillon’s pocket.

He pulled a new-looking comlink from inside. “Breed?”

“Dillon, there’s another ship approaching. Breaking atmo right now.”

Inara’s hand leaped to her throat.

Dillon’s face hardened. “Is it the Alliance back?”

“Doesn’t look like it. Not unless they’re flying the Ibis class now.”

Dillon looked at Inara. “Were you expecting anyone else?”

She shook her head. “We’ve not been engaged as counsellors for a month, and … no, no-one should be coming here.”

Bethie’s eyes narrowed, and she concentrated. Suddenly she looked at Ethan, wonderment on her face. She turned on her heel and ran out of the room.

“Bethie?” Inara called. “Ethan, go see to her.”

“Yes, Auntie ‘Nara.” He followed the little girl.

Dillon lifted the comlink again. “How soon?” he asked.

“About two minutes.”

“Then we’d better be ready.”

---

The craft, a sleek D-Class Ibis, not exactly new but well-looked after, came smoothly in to land next to Alex’s ship. There was a moment’s pause as the engines shut down, then a hatch opened in the side and a ramp extended to the ground.

“Inara …” Sam said nervously. “I really think –“

“S’okay,” Bethie interrupted, pushing past them all as she straightened the dress she’d put on, brushing her hair quickly before running at full pelt down the stairs again, Ethan at her heels. “S’good visitors.”

Dillon glanced down at her. “Are you sure?”

“Feel it.”

Inara licked dry lips. “Well, at least they’re not Alliance.”

“Don’t worry,” Dillon said, his hand close to the pistol inside his jacket. “We’re all armed.”

“That doesn’t actually make me feel any better.”

He couldn’t help the lift to his lips at her somewhat acerbic tone.

A figure appeared in the doorway of the Ibis, and Bethie walked forwards before anyone could stop her.

“Hello, Grandpa,” she said formally.

The man looked so shocked he might have fallen but for the elegant woman at his back.

“Regan …” he whispered.

“Grandma.” Bethie smiled, suddenly feeling shy. “Hello.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Monday, September 22, 2008 12:20 PM

SLUMMING


Excellent chapter! Bethie was just perfect, and Ethan was enough to just melt my heart! :D

Monday, September 22, 2008 12:40 PM

AMDOBELL


Loved this and I could have hugged Dillion for arrived *just in the nick of time*. What does that make him? A Big Gorram Hero! Chuckle. And the kids were wonderful too. Would have paid to see the expressions on Regan and Gabriel Tam's faces when Bethie met them. Oh this is such a good tale! More soon, I hope. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, September 22, 2008 1:29 PM

FREEVERSE


Regan and Gabriel have never met Bethie, in this Maya 'verse, right? I hope they're ready to listen to good advice from the others more in the know.

This is like the grand finale at--what is it over there, Guy Fawkes day? All the brightest threads in the air at once. Won't the Alliance cruiser notice the traffic, though? Interesting to see how Inara has lost social stature, in Alliance eyes, but not her fire.

~freeverse

Monday, September 22, 2008 2:18 PM

KATESFRIEND


Great job at bringing your threads together - kind of like a tapestry at this point! Loved the kids especially. Poor Inara, what meeting Mal has exposed her to about the Alliance. Loving the little extra descriptions you're adding that flesh out the characters even more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 12:48 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


Such a great turn of events. I love the kids in your stories. They are just like their parents. Perfect little DAMN heroes.


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