The DUPLICITY Series: 57. "The Dominant Gene"
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Badger tries to wrap his head arounda complete change in circumstances. Inara worries about the fallout of Simon's discovery. River wants to reassure the Captain and Jordan keeps a promise."


TITLE: "THE DOMINANT GENE" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Kaylee/Simon. Mal/Inara. RATING: G. STATUS: Sequel to "DISINGENUOUS". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Badger tries to wrap his head around a complete change in circumstances. Inara worries about the fallout of Simon's discovery. River wants to reassure the Captain and Jordan keeps a promise." 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

* * * * *

He was genuinely shocked. Shaken even but in that distant, distracted way that didn't connect immediately with the here and now or what he had done. Badger stared at the crumpled body, eyes open but no longer pleading. Noticing idly the white hairs showing through at the base of the scalp where her fall had dislodged the carefully coiffed and tinted hair. It was easier from this angle to see the ravages of time previously hidden by cunning necklines and high fashion. The hands, always a give away, had been treated with the kind of cosmetic surgery only available to the very rich. Now, all that artifice seemed the height of folly. As if anyone could cheat death.

Badger had no idea how long he sat there, the bottle of tiny white pills as heavy as lead in his hand but unable to let go. Only minutes ago his mother had been alive and pleading, first with her cracking voice then with her eyes. How quickly they had dulled! Almost he disbelieved the evidence of his eyes, half expecting her to be playing some mean and evil trick on him. But no. The awkward angle of her limbs, the unblinking staring eyes clouded with death. Even the air in the hotel room felt stale and old. He closed his eyes and held the bottle to his forehead, a range of emotions all hitting him at once. He hadn't meant to let her die, just force the truth from those lying deceitful lips. Yet even with her last breath she defied him. Gave no truth or comfort to ease him in these difficult times. A remote uncaring son he might have been but he had never actively meant her harm. Cyan Nicole Barbette could not have claimed the same.

The long shadows deepened. The little room grew dark and sullen around him yet he did not turn on the light. Somehow it was easier to bear if he could not see her. For hours he just sat on the edge of his seat and let his mind go blank, every bit of emotion draining out of him like a leaky tap. It didn't matter anyway. Mother or not she had never nutured him. Any attention she gave was always with some gain in mind, not for him but for her. Badger finally moved when the cold and the stiffness in his limbs joined forces with the weariness seeping through his body and mind. He needed to sleep. Rest. But first he would have to sort this out. Rising stiffy he crossed the room and turned on the light, flinching at the sight before him. Looking at the bottle of pills the solution hit him so easily he almost laughed. Why was he worried? The *pofu* had suffered a heart attack. Went to get her gorram pills and before she could undo the top had collapsed. He had been in the bathroom getting ready for bed, heard the sound of a body falling and rushed into the room to find her like this. Terrible shock for a son to witness. Badger shook his head slowly feigning sadness. What was a body to do?

Kneeling down, Badger put the bottle on the floor, a few inches out of reach of his mother's clawed hand. Then, taking a deep breath to steady himself, he opened the door and ran down the corridor yelling for all he was worth. Looking back it was so gorram amusing seeing the other hotel room doors spring open, people in different states of undress and wakefulness staring at him in alarm and wondering where the rutting fire was. Badger thought of Dyton Colony. Of the friends he had lost, his business in ruins, his life in constant danger and found it not so hard to conjure the tears and the anguish needed to convince the good folk that he was a man in deep distress. A grieving son, crying and calling for help for his poor aged mother. Oh, the irony.

* * * * *

Inara was shaking. The last thing she had expected was for Simon to find out. He had not stayed long enough for her to judge his intentions but the set expression on his face made her heart sink. What to do? With everything unravelling around her it was not as if she could go to the crew. Zoe was already mad at her and she had to admit her recent actions were straining what remained of their relationship. Kaylee was the only constant in her support network but if she attacked Simon that would turn to ash in a heartbeat. As much as Kaylee was loyal to Inara that friendship came a long second to her feelings for Simon. Anyone with eyes to see could tell that the young mechanic was in love with Simon and unless she was much mistaken those feelings were reciprocated.

With a sigh, Inara considered the worst case scenario for every possibility then carefully deconstructed them. As she forced herself to look at things more rationally she began to calm down, her mind freeing itself from the constraint of distress and panic to work on the problem. Some things you could change or influence at the least. Others were not within your perview and it was only sensible to quickly learn to tell which was which. She could not change what had been done to the siblings but that knowledge did not have to be shared. Simon knew and that had shaken her, some part of her back brain thinking he was unaware and somehow 'safe'. Discovering her error in making such an assumption had been a shock to the system. Now Inara reviewed all she thought she knew about the Tams, their interaction with the crew and each other since boarding Serenity. Inara had barely settled in herself when Simon had come aboard, his sister hidden in the cryo chamber. A little cold shudder rippled down her spine. Simon had not opened that box. It was the Captain, suspicious and out of patience with the new passenger, who had kicked the lid off and revealed River Tam curled up inside.

Inara lit some incense and began the calming ritual, clearing her mind of all distractions and bringing herself back under control. As her Companion training reasserted itself she knew the time was almost upon her when she would have to either be completely honest or leave. Even with everything that had happened, Inara now knew with a certainty that made her tremble that she didn't want to go. Simon already resented her endangering the Captain's condition with her disturbing revelations and now this. Whatever faith he had left in her had vanished in that instant and Inara could not go back in time to repair it. No. What was done was done. If words could not convince the Captain and crew that she could be trusted once more then actions would have to do it for her.

* * * * *

After the meeting in the infirmary the crew and their passengers broke up, everyone going their separate ways. Simon lingered, fussing over the Captain until the man almost snapped but River leant over the bed and fixed him with her wide dark eyes.

"You think she's crazy - she's not." River lowered her voice to a whisper as Simon moved away to tidy up the infirmary, as if she did not want him to hear her next words. "You think he's sane - he isn't."

The Captain was about to argue in her brother's defence but River shook her head, the dark waterfall of hair swaying like a curtain. Her face luminous in the harsh infirmary lights.

"He needs her close. Keeps him stable."

Mal flicked an eye over to the far side of the infirmary where Simon was now booting up the computer terminal, no doubt looking up the latest research into conditions similar to his sister's. Naturally he would not find a close correlation but advances in brain surgery always drew his attention. Keen to find anything that would help him undo what the Alliance had done to River. His dedication to his sister was one of the things the Captain admired about Simon.

"Not to mess up your calculations," the Captain whispered back "but I'm thinkin' that should be the other way around."

"Have to keep him safe. He spends so much time looking for a cure. Can't see inside his own head so he looks in mine."

That was wrong on so many counts the Captain wasn't sure how to respond. "See, that there's what makes you sound *shenjingbing*."

"See what you want to see."

"River, those people did things, damaged you darlin'."

The girl nodded, her expression solemn, eyes locked on his. "Simon too."

Her words made the Captain falter. "You sayin' those *tamade hundan* cut on your brother?"

"Two for one. Simon never stopped looking for me. When he broke into the academy they caught him. Wanted to teach him a lesson. With their eyes off me I was able to escape, get to Simon, but the damage had already been done."

Mal felt sick. Not sure what to believe but not able to discount it either. It seemed so gruesomely fantastical like some gorram fairytale from Earth-that-Was.

"Not Hansel and Gretal. No crumbs to follow. Been running ever since."

"River, what did they do to Simon?"

She shuddered, a tremor going through her thin waif-like body as if a bitter wind was stirring. "I keep him sane."

Her voice was a small fragile thing. The Captain's voice grew softer, careful not to add to whatever hurt she was feeling. Didn't make no never mind if it was real or not, the girl felt everything far more intensely than anyone else on his boat. "You keep him sane?"

"He takes so much looking after."

The Captain swallowed hard then cast a glance in Simon's direction but the doctor was fixated on his computer screen, totally absorbed in whatever fancified medical what not he had been researching. "Have to say darlin', your brother's one of the sanest people I know."

For a moment he thought she would move away but it seemed River was simply changing tack. "Captain, why do you think my brother chose your ship?"

"He was runnin' from the Alliance, needed to keep you safe."

"He was running, yes, but was also looking for something. More than safety or getting away. Simon needed peace, security. Serenity. When he saw the name of your ship he took it as a sign."

"How do we help? Not sayin' he needs it an' such just, you know, in case."

"Simon needs to be needed. Worrying about me gives him purpose, focus. It's why he makes such a good doctor."

"Top three percent?"

River smiled but it was sad and made the Captain's heart ache. He would have done anything in his power to wipe that hurt and pain away, for River and Simon both. "I'm thinkin' you're serious about this, little one."

"He gave up everything for me Captain, it left him broken. But I couldn't tell him that, he didn't need to know I could see the cracks."

"So you made out it was you needin' him, forcin' your brother to forget his own troubles an' somesuch?"

"Reverse psychology."

He took a breath and let it out slowly, his expression touched with awe. "That's pretty gorram smart."

Her smile wiped all the sadness off her face. " I *am* a genius."

"That you are, darlin'." He paused, mulling over everything she had told him. "What we gonna do about this?

"*Yiwusuoyou*. We fix each other."

"Don't he need..." The Captain raised a hand and waved it in the general direction of his head.

"No. Surgery is over rated"

The Captain almost had a heart attack when a calm, precise voice cut in on their conversation. "If you want to talk behind my back try waiting until I am out of the room."

A flash of guilt coloured the Captain's face. "*Duibuqi*, wasn't meanin' to but..."

He nodded, a sigh of exasperation huffing out of his mouth. Simon wasn't really angry at the Captain. "*Wo zhidao*, my sister always feels the need to meddle."

"Not meddling. Explaining."

"I'm sure the Captain doesn't need to hear the sorry list of our woes, *mei mei*."

"The Captain who is lyin' right here."

They both ignored him. "He needs to know."

"It wasn't your place to say anything, River."

"You wouldn't have."

"Because it's no one's business but our own."

"*Wei*! I may be flat on my gorram back but I'm still Cap'n, *dong ma*?"

Simon seemed to draw himself up, something indefinable retreating. Mal didn't like it, thought he was getting the merest glimpse of what River saw all the time. It was not a happy feeling seeing those walls go up.

"*Wo zhidao*. Now, *mei mei*, I need to give you your medicine."

River moved around the Captain's bed putting him between herself and her brother. "No more needles!"

"You'll feel better, River, I promise."

She shook her head. "River's fine, doesn't need to be a pin cushion."

Her brother sighed and the Captain noticed how worn he looked. "Mayhap you can do that later? When did you last sleep?"

Simon stared at him. "Last time I checked you were the patient and I was the doctor."

The return of the haughtiness actually cheered Mal up. More like the Simon he was used to. The man wasn't weak and glimpsing the raggedy edge had shaken him a little. "An' they say doctors make the worst patients. Go pushin' themselves, not restin' an' such. You been eatin'? Ain't seen you chew or swallow in days."

A laugh startled all three of them. The look on Simon's face was gorram comical, the burst of humour surprising him. Quickly he got himself back in check. "*Wo hao*, Captain."

"Simon, don't take this the wrong way but I'm thinkin' you heard everythin' we said. Your sister right about what those ruttin' Alliance did to you?"

For a moment the Captain was certain Simon was going to bluff it out but something shifted in the man's eyes. Simon was not quite able to hide the bitterness. "Much as I would like to deny it, my sister is right."

"Know what they did?"

"Not exactly but I have my suspicions."

"An' those are?"

Simon stared at the Captain as if challenging his right to question him on this but Mal didn't look away, just waited patiently for an answer. After a moment or two Simon's shoulders sagged, the fight seeping out of him. "I think they were trying to re-wire my brain."

The Captain's mouth dropped open in shock and horror. "*Tian Yesu*, Simon! When were you gonna tell me?"

The flush rising on the boy's face was his answer.

* * * * *

The Headquarters of the Blue Sun Corporation was a huge plexiglass and permacrete monstrosity. The ring of offices and businesses on the outside conducted all the various day to day interests Blue Sun funded. The Research and Development Division was sited two hundred feet below the central building. The literal heart of the complex in more ways than one.

Jordan Parker allowed himself to be escorted through the mirror polished hallways and passed the polite facade. The two technicians did not speak. When they reached the office of the Director, Jordan was surprised when the two men did not follow him inside but took up their posts either side of the door. Interesting demarcation of responsibilies. He stepped into the room and hardly registered the door sliding shut and sealing behind him. His eyes widened only vaguely taking in all the monitor screens. The Director sat behind a huge desk yet seemed to dwarf it by his presence alone. The smile was expansive and as false as the image the man was projecting. Trying to hide the shock of recognition from appearing on his face, Jordan Parker stared at the man he had known as Minister Tirrel and wondered whether his carefully plotted plan was about to be derailed in the most painful way possible.

The man smiled like a shark scenting blood. Jordan did not show any sign of discomfort or unease but waited as if he had all the time in the 'verse. Minster Tirrel leaned back in his heavily padded leather chair. "I see you have a gift for me."

Jordan nodded. "Yes, *shifu*."

For a moment Howard Tirell just stared at him then gave a tiny nod, more as if he were agreeing with some internal monologue than acknowleding his visitor. "It seems you have accomplished what the rest of my lamentably inefficient staff failed to."

He got no reply. Jordan just stood and waited. And waited. The minutes ticked by into long laboriously birthed hours and still Tirrel just stared at him. Knowing the extent of this man's patience and endurance Jordan mentally accepted the challenge. Three hours later the Minister allowed a smile to slide across his lips, his eyes glittering darkly.

"You are very good." Tirrel said quietly.

Jordan did not move or speak. Tirrel watched him like a hawk then let his lips curl and rose to his feet, keeping the desk between them.

"I take it you expect to be escorted to Research and Development?"

"Whatever you wish, *shifu*."

His answer seemed to amuse the Director. "Why did you not hand the device over?"

"It is keyed to my DNA, *shifu*."

"Yet you can over ride that connection, can you not?"

Before Jordan could answer the Director struck. It was a high pitched lancing pain that hit him directly between the eyes, frying the state of the art circuitary hot wired to his brain like a laser through butter. Yet it was precise. No extraneous damage. Calmly the Director walked around the large ostentatious desk and stepped up to Jordan until he was only inches from him.

"You are touted among my elite as the first Artificial Intelligence created by my Division." He paused and watched moisture form on Jordan's keenly sculpted features. "A standard to which all future endeavours must aspire."

Jordan did not move. Could not move. His mind was racing even as he tried damage limitation. It was to no avail. The Director had struck at the core of his sub routines, the command codes effectively frozen. He knew the next command would be for him to release the control device then his own termination would follow. Not sparing a thought to lament the fact that he would not get the chance to destroy the research facility beneath his feet Jordan changed his priority and using the one sub routine the Director could not circumvent he gave the only command he could. A second before the control device exploded he was gratified to see a look of surprise flash across the Director's face. His lightening quick response was not enough to disarm the command protocol of the self destruct. Jordan had merged with the control device and though he was an Artificial Intelligence he had once been human. The redundancies in the human brain had not been removed or excised but ignored as useless but the part of Jordan that could still access his humanity invested every last iota of willpower into doing what his matrix no longer could.

The destruction was impressive. The entire group of buildings were reduced to rubble and ash, everything within miles cowering under the darkened sky and the ominious concatanations of explosions as facility after facility errupted into a fireball of flame and debris blotting out the sun. What was left of Jordan's consciousness died in the first blast, an idle last human thought taking some comfort in seeing Howard Tirrel reduced to blood splattered shards of bone, tissue and titanium. For Jordan had been a human adapted to be an Artificial Intelligence. Tirrel had been an Artifical Intelligence adapted to appear human. Given an artificial frame and internal workings, human cells had been grown then grafted on like a suit of clothes. Every tiny detail finished to such exact specifications that no one even suspected he was anything other than a ruthless corporate boss. That was how he had known that Jordan was not a full Artificial Intelligence. It was ironic that in the end it had been the human aspect discarded as irrelevant in Jordan that destroyed the most powerful man in the 'verse. His deputy, Jacob Rosenbaum, was but a pale human copy.

As the dark cloud of dust and debris thickened, sirens rang through the murky gloom. The sound of buildings collapsing and the roar of flames spreading a counterpoint to the last concussive blasts to shake the Blue Sun Corporation Headquarters. Two hundred feet below the epicentre machines clicked and whirred, the human staff getting over their shock and going through emergency protocols. They did not know that Jordan had programmed a cascade effect. When the control device activated for destruction its' mandate was for complete annihilation. While the staff smugly congratulated themselves on their survival, codes tripped systems buried so deep in the complex that by the time they realised something was wrong it was too late. There was no explosion, no collapse of the building above down through the central shaft. The killer was silent, a switch activated here, a programme altered there. The oxygen altered to carbon dioxide, the filters disabled, the emergency exit decommissioned. By the time the staff realised they were in danger it was already too late.

Aspixiation was slow, unbearably painful and without mercy. Within fifteen minutes of the control device being activated the whole complex above ground was destroyed and the secret research facility beneath had been deactivated, the staff dead and entombed along with their horrorific creations.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*pofu* = bitch *shenjingbing* = crazy *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *yiwusouyou* = nothing *duibuqi* = sorry *wo zhidao* = I know *wei* = hey! *mei mei* = little sister *dong ma* = understand? *wo hao* = I'm fine *tian Yesu* = sweet Jesus! *shifu* = sir


Wednesday, April 8, 2009 1:36 PM


As for Badger, I feel for him losing his mom....but not a whole lot...LOL!!

"He takes so much looking after." Best line in this!

As for Simon shocker....WOW!! So did not see that comin'!!! You are the master or should I say Mistress of surprises....

And the descruction at the end...I felt the explosion from here...Well written.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 1:56 PM


I admit I'm surprised at Badger letting his mother die. I felt she had more to give to this story, but a lot of people have died already, so one more is probably not the end of it. But the destruction described was very powerful, and Simon's own bombshell ... Can't wait to see where you take this next!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 2:32 PM


Glad to see Jason retained enough humanity to come through when he needed it. Poor Simon. No wonder the siblings need each other so much.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 3:09 PM


Thank you for the shiny feedback! An apology to you all, I didn't notice until reading your feedback Katesfriend that I was calling Jordan, Jason. Have rectified that so many sorries. I also liked the notion that Jordan still had some humanity which he put to good use at the end. As for Simon's shock revelation Angellemarcs I always thought it would be a good twist if River wasn't the only sibling the Alliance had tampered with. And Jane0904 Badger didn't intend for his mother to die, he was trying to gain an advantage but it backfired and she died without telling him anything. Glad you liked the explosions and many thanks to you all for the shiny feedback! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, April 17, 2009 6:16 PM


Wow, what an explosive chapter, both literally and figuratively! More, please! :)


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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.