The DUPLICITY Series: 65. "Everyone's A Hero"
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Realising they are about to be boarded, Mal orders Kaylee to vent the atmo then hide. Back on Serenity River and Natalie have a solution of their own. Meanwhile General Franks receives a surprise visitor and Minister Rosenbaum continues to step closer to his ultimate goal."


TITLE: "EVERYONE'S A HERO" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Kaylee/Simon. Mal/Inara. RATING: G. STATUS: Sequel to "SAINTS AND SINNERS". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Realising they are about to be boarded, Mal orders Kaylee to vent the atmo then hide. Back on Serenity River and Natalie have a solution of their own. Meanwhile General Franks receives a surprise visitor and Minister Rosenbaum continues to step closer to his ultimate goal." 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

* * * * *

Zoe didn't like this. Every instinct screaming at her that it was a bad gorram idea but River was adamant. In her hesitation River saw a way to press home the advantage.

"No time. Have to go, Captain daddy needs us."

"Then me an' Jayne are goin' with you."

The girl shook her head and reached a hand behind her. Zoe's eyebrows vanished into her hairline as Natalie came forward and clasped River's hand.

"You have got to be kiddin' me! Even if I agreed Cap'n would skin me alive for lettin' you two go into danger on your own."

Natalie had looked like a scared little girl only moments before when River's plan opened like a flower in her mind. Then the scary-assed killer made its' reappearance and confidence flooded in along with the certainty that they were the only ones who would be able to pull this off. Simon was beside himself.

"*Mei mei*, listen to Zoe. This is too dangerous." "*Ni bu dong*. Two by two hands of blue."

Jayne was frowning. "Alliance ship didn't attach. You saw, we saw, what the ruttin' *diyu* ya talkin' about?"

"Smaller craft, like our shuttle."

"You sayin' someone snuck aboard?"

River nodded, her eyes fastened on Zoe. "Kaylee's venting the atmo but it won't help."

Badger had been listening but saying nothing. Reynolds and his crew had always been more than a little crazy in his view but now he was just plain confused. "*Weishenme bu*?"

Her pale face tilted towards him, River's eyes wide and luminous. "They aren't like us."

"Yeah, 'cause they ain't crazy." Muttered Jayne.

"Still human ain't they?"

River nodded. Badger huffed and looked a bit happier.

"Then I don't see the problem. Let 'em suffocate."

"Like us but not." Said Natalie.

All the while they were talking, the girls were heading to the airlock, the others automatically following them. Simon was trying to convince his sister not to do this. When they got there River turned to Badger. "Need two EVA suits."

Badger's air of 'sooner you than me' darkened into one of disbelief and concern. "You not waitin' 'till we attach?"

She shook her head. "Can't risk it. They'll hear us."

Simon's alarm was shared by them all. "This is *shenjingbing*, River. You can't go over in suits. If those people are so dangerous you'll be at a disadvantage."

Her smile was small but gentle, knowing how hard this was for him as determination took over. He knew that look, both hated and loved it. Hated it because it meant River's mind was made up and loved it because it was his stubborn but much loved sister. How could she do this?

"We have to sneak aboard because we're the only ones who can stop them." As she finished a look of consternation creased her face, Natalie looked restless - and angry.

Zoe's eyes narrowed as Badger handed the girl's a suit each, Paul helping Natalie get into hers while River deftly donned the bulky suit with ease. "*Shenme shi*?"

River pulled the gloves on and sealed them at the cuffs, looking to Simon as he picked up her helmet and hesitated. "Have to hurry."

"What's 'appenin'?"

She ignored Badger's question and gave Zoe a firm look. "They aren't like us. Like deep sea divers, used to holding their breath but still human."

Simon tried another tack. "You know this is suicide, *dui*?"

Her smile made his heart ache with the wrongness of it as she took the helmet from him and paused before putting it on. "For them." Then River turned to Badger. "Need the ship close but not touching, *dong ma*?"

Badger looked about to argue then abruptly changed his mind, a look of genuine worry flickering on his face as their eyes met. He had always liked River even if she by turns scared and confused the *guai* out of him. Didn't hurt that she was pretty as well as smart. Badger tapped his earpiece. "Liam, you hearin' me?"

"Yeah, what's up?"

"Gotta get in closer, *dong ma*? But not touchin'. Line up alongside their airlock an' hold 'er steady."

Sounding a mite baffled by the instruction Liam got to work easing the ship closer to Serenity. River put the helmet on and and forced herself to be patient while Zoe checked then fastened it for her. The first mate checked their air supply was good and that neither suit was leaking. It felt wrong watching the two young readers enter the airlock. River grinned at her brother through her face plate thinking to reassure him but Simon could not even voice a protest around the knot tightening in his throat. He felt his gut twist and heart contract just a heartbeat away from total panic. Then the airlock was changing pressure, the outer door opening and in silence they watched River and Natalie push themselves out of the airlock and towards the Firefly.

* * * * *

Minister Rosenbaum loved the banquet. Only the finest most exotic foods graced the tables, the small coterie of hangers on and sycophants hovering and agreeing with every comment he made. If he were the shallow man they all thought he was he would have been drunk on the praise and totally unsuitable for the high office he held. Still. It amused him to let them play flattering pawns to his rising King.

Most of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee were already mingling, a few executives from what was left of the Blue Sun Corporation along with various political heavyweights talking about reform of the constitution. Not to make it more free but to tighten their hold on an increasingly disillusioned electorate. Not that the ballot box actually served the people. It was a prop to give the Great Unwashed the notion that they were part of the formation of the Glorious Alliance and its' ongoing grasping lust to sieze every free world in the system and tie it to their greedy coat tails.

Rosenbaum nodded vaguely at the various military representatives, not sure why they were here but willing to allow protocol to add legitamacy to the impromptu gathering. The most powerful men in the 'verse were in this room and by the time this night was over every one of them would be coaxed, bribed, forced, coerced or simply bullied into acknowledging him as the natural choice to head both the government and the newly restructured remnant of Blue Sun. The vote would give him everything he needed to fulfill an ambition that was growing with each day that passed.

The noise in the room was full of polite conversations that never gave away too much, the speakers aware that whatever was said could come back and haunt them with frightening consequences, so they danced around difficult subjects, the small talk a death by a thousand meaningless words but to be endured all the same. Boredom was not an ally but the wise among them knew it could be a tool. Minister Rosenbaum resisted the urge to sneak out via a back door and went to refresh his glass. The wine was good, a superb vintage and very expensive. If he drank enough of it this function might just become bearable.

* * * * *

General Franks stared at his unexpected guest. He was standing in his pajamas but with a gun in hand. No one called at his private residence without first obtaining authority and at the very least contacting him to ensure it was convenient. And never at this time of night. He did not like to think on how easily his visitor had circumvented his state of the art security.

"What in the name of all the demons of *diyu* are you doing here?"

The figure didn't attempt to smarten himself up but let the torn, ragged clothing speak for themselves. He was dirty, tired, and in no mood for the small courtesies that oiled the wheels of polite society. "You will let me in and allow me to wash and change while your servants prepare a quick but nutricious meal."

The General raised an imperious eyebrow that did nothing to intimidate the man on his doorstep. As the seconds stretched into a disbelieving silence, a slow wicked smile oiled its' way across Franks' face. Stepping back he lowered his gun and admitted his guest, humour tugging at his lips. "Do you know what you look like, Tam?"

An angry glare flashed back at him. "Stop gaping at me like I'm about to perform tricks for your amusement, Dominic. We have work to do but first, I need to clean up."

* * * * *

He heard the distinctive sound of a small ship docking. Kaylee had just finished venting the last of the atmo and Wash managed to get her to hide in the passenger dorm. He knew he was supposed to stay with Kaylee but curiosity and the need to know what was going on made him ignore his own good advice. Creeping along the corridor as best he could in his bulky suit Wash made his way to a vantage point and lay down upon his belly. While it wasn't the most comfortable or practical position the pilot knew that anyone coming aboard would not be looking at the floor. He could easily pull himself back out of sight and return to Kaylee before the intruders spotted him. The biggest risk would be if he inadvertently made a noise and gave away his presence.

At first he saw nothing. There was not even a sound in his earpiece from the Captain. Wash had no idea what Mal was up to but reasoned it would be something impressively heroic but monumentally stupid. How the man had survived this long was a mystery to him. That was when he heard the noise, the clang of metal as a hatch swung open. Two men walking calm as you please onto the ship. Wash stared in shock. Neither man was wearing an EVA suit but neither was there any sign of respiratory distress. They had vented the atmo, hadn't they? Then he noted how carefully the two men scanned the ship, neither speaking but each looking in opposite directions. They did not appear to be in any hurry. Slowly the two men drew apart, each putting a hand in their pocket and withdrawing a short thin metallic rod. What was that? A pen? Why would they need a pen? Yet as innocent as it seemed Wash felt a shudder of dread go through him. This was not good. Very slowly and carefully he moved back out of sight, rising and backtracking to the passenger dorm. Kaylee had her head poking around the door. Wash waved her inside, trying to tiptoe in his suit but failing miserably. In his head he imagined he was clanking louder than the hatch had done.

Once they were in the room Wash realised their first mistake. Because of the bulky nature of the suits there was nowhere in the room to hide and they could not risk taking them off without first flooding the ship with oxygen. All they could do was stay out of sight, keep as quiet as possible and hope that this time one of Mal's plans would go without a hitch.

* * * * *

Inara hated this. The feeling of exposure, of having her deepest secrets and fears revealed for the childhood insecurities they stemmed from. To give him his due Sendhil did not belabour the point or nag her, just gently pointed out or commented on what she was doing and why but Inara knew that he was waiting. Patiently confident that given time she would see the solution for herself. But he had overlooked one thing. Inara didn't want to see the solution because that would mean taking action, admitting she had not been honest with herself or Mal. It would be like returning cap in hand, the very act of going back a clear admission that she had been wrong. And oh the embarrassment, the mind crushing inevitability of that smug look of satisfaction on his face. It would be too much to bear and given their often adversarial relationship it would add ammunition to any argument he brought to bear. Never did it occur to her that he might not see it that way. Would be so happy at her change of mind that the why of it would not be made an issue of.

Inara didn't just want to rewrite the past or relive it, she wanted to only return to Serenity if she could maintain the moral highground. Anything else was a capitulation too humiliating to contemplate. Surely Sendhil could see that? As her brother it was his duty, and her right, to expect him to support her - even if she was wrong. Yet even to Inara's mind such a position was untenable. Feeling deflated she was weary of the inward debate. Why was she making such a fuss about this? Malcolm Reynolds would only know what she told him. Ah, but there was the rub because the irrascible Captain of Serenity was a lot sharper than he appeared and Inara could not risk him seeing the truth. Even if he didn't hold it over her head or crow about it, the knowledge that he knew would be staring her in the face every time she looked at him.

* * * * *

It was hard to keep still, maintain radio silence and simply wait for the enemy to come to him but he could do this. Had done it many a time during the War, only then he had known what he had been up against and why. This whole situation was a million times more messed up but this was his boat. His crew. His responsibility. Not no one was gonna tell him how to run it or take ship or crew away from him. Gorram purplebellies thinking they could run rough shod over folk just 'cause they got the upper hand. They may have all the money and resources on their side, a shiny but corrupt Parliament, more soldiers than he could spit at, but that just made him more determined not to back down not less. Plus there were folks on his boat that would surely end up worse off in Alliance hands were they to be found. Images of Simon and River bound by law and dragged off his boat to some dark and dreadful fate made him grind his teeth. His legs ached from all the standing but he was getting stronger every day and that was another thing right there. Where would he have been if Simon hadn't been on his boat after Badger's men shot him?

The noise was so slight he wasn't sure he had heard anything at first. Damn suit, muffled every gorram thing except his own breathing and that was so loud it nearly drowned out his ability to think clearly. But no. There it was again. A definate sound, or was that two sounds? The Captain held his breath the better to listen and think, his mind trying to stretch beyond the boundaries of his body and the suit containing it as if he could reach out into the ether and see what was happening. Like River. The thought of the young reader made something inside him ache, a strong protective wall mentally forming around her image in his mind as if by wishing alone he could keep her safe. The rifle in his hands was growing heavy but Mal did not drop his guard, the barrel just poking around the side of the door. Nothing. Gorramit, the cargo bay was empty.

Just as he was about to turn something tapped the back of his helmet. What the...? Before he could react his air line was yanked hard and split away from the suit, his lungs started to chase the disappearing oxygen supply as if that could make any difference. Someone took the sniper's rifle from his hands and he was spun around. Eyes widening he stared at the two lanky men in bad suits staring back at him, one armed with his gun the other holding up a thin little rod. He wanted to speak, demand they get off his boat, but breathing was becoming hard and now his vision was beginning to blur, sweat forming on his forehead and dripping down his face. The last thing he remembered as his senses fogged up was two skinny metal arms sliding out of the sides of the silver rod. Huh. How was that impressive? Blood bubbling in his ears, eyes and nose everything turned red just before the 'verse went black.

* * * * *

Major Franks stared at Gabriel Tam as if he finally lost what little was left of his mind. They had been friends for many years, starting out together as young men eager to learn and advance in their chosen professions and utterly loyal to the Alliance. That Dominic had chosen the military and Gabriel medicine was neither here nor there. But this now, was madness.

"You cannot be serious!"

Clean and in borrowed clothes while the housekeeper was laundering his suit and shirt, Gabriel Tam met his old friend's eyes without flinching. His look intense and totally sincere. "I have been a fool, Dominic. For years I let my ambition lead me by the nose, failing to see or acknowledge the evidence of my eyes. The Alliance has been good to me - to us - but only insofar as we have upheld its' own prejudices and lies. We have been complicit in terrible things."

"*Ni zhide shi shenme*?"

"I was a good if not gifted surgeon. They flattered me and made available choices not given to others in my position. I didn't question why, Dominic, but praised myself for earning such good fortune unaware that those same mandarins who feted me had their eye not on my career but my children."

General Franks blinked, his mouth suddenly dry. "*Shenme*?"

"I am a man and have a father's natural pride and desire to have someone follow in his footsteps so when Regan gave birth to a son I was ecstatic. It was easy to allow those that nutured me to seemingly extend that courtesy to my family."

The General's eyes narrowed, not sure what Gabriel was saying and unwilling to put words in his mouth.

"When Regan fell pregnant for a second time I was naturally pleased but not unduly elated." "You already had a son." Mumured Franks.

"The prenatal clinic were very fastidious. I thought they were simply being careful to ensure a trouble free birth. When River was born we were naturally delighted. While Regan revelled in having a daughter I reserved my praise for my son, bringing him up in a disciplined but structured way. Wanting him to attain heights I had never dreamt of and being encouraged by those who had helped me. I wanted him to be a doctor like me, to follow in my footsteps, make me proud."

The General nodded. It was a familiar story. "You wanted immortality through your son."

"I'm not sure I would have put it that way."

"You wanted your name to live on, Gabriel."

He nodded. "*Dang ran*, it's what every father wants."

Dominic Franks paused before speaking again, his voice quieter. "And River? What of your daughter?"

Eyes misting, Gabriel Tam sat and stared unseeing before him. "They said she was bright, more intelligent than most, but then so was Simon. However, it was more than that they said. Closer to genius than gifted." He blinked slowly. "There was a special school, an academy with the most advanced programme. It was very select and only a few were invited. I was proud that they extended an invitation to my daughter. Regan wasn't so sure, she wanted to keep our daughter near but I knew that such chances came rarely and was determined to sieze whatever advantage came our way. Simon was already being groomed towards a career in medicine why not a similar bright future for River?" He paused and for a moment looked so lost that Franks was tempted to reassure him but he held his tongue. "Regan insisted it had to be River's decision. We didn't know then that our daughter had the ability to read minds, that she knew my excitement and desire to see her make as much of herself as possible. Part of her decision was the draw of following the most exciting, most challenging programme, but the other part was a desire to please me."

For several minutes neither man spoke. A servant quietly entered the drawing room and placed a tray of tea upon the table then left, the door closing with a quiet hush behind her.

"Why are you telling me this now, Gabriel?"

Gabriel Tam swallowed slowly as if his mouth were too dry. Franks knew the feeling well. Silently he poured their tea and put a cup into his old's friend's hands. Gabriel stared down at the cup as if it were some foreign object.

"Drink, Gabriel. It is not drugged."

Blinking stupidly for a moment, Gabriel Tam gradually took in his friend's meaning and sipped the steaming liquid. As it burned its' pleasing way across his tongue some of the tension eased out of the man. "I have been such a fool."

"Again, Gabriel, why come to me now? *Hai hao ma*?"

"*Wo daoqian*, I didn't know who else to turn to." Gabriel Tam stared at Franks, his eyes suddenly sharp and bright. The intensity of the look in them reminding the General that however shaken Tam was at this moment he was still a most formidable man. "I did not know who else to trust."

"Then drink your tea, old friend, and tell your story."

"I woke you from sleep."

For the first time since opening his door to him, General Franks threw back his head and laughed. His laughter becoming more hearty when he saw the look of shock on Tam's face. It took a few minutes to bring his mirth under control. "Gabriel, Gabriel. Such a master of understatement, I had almost forgotten. Do you think that I could sleep now?" A tiny smile tugged at the down-turned corners of Gabriel Tam's mouth. He felt the stress and guilt abate enough for him to relax though he knew his ease would be short lived. "I am glad I came to you but we must be careful, *dong ma*?"

All the humour fled at Gabriel's warning. Franks took a sip of his tea then put cup and saucer on the tray and leaned forward, his eyes boring into Gabriel's. All prologue and preamble swept aside in a need to cut to the chase. "I think it's time you told me what this is really about."

Gabriel Tam nodded. "I will but when I have finished you will have a decision to make. If you choose to help me there will be a cost. An unimaginable burden I will ask you to bear, one which may be *chaochu wode nengli* to help you with."

For a moment the silence that stretched between them seemed to deepen to a point close to pain. When Franks spoke, it was like a bubble of anticipation bursting in Gabriel's mind. *Wode ma*, it was like being strung out on drops and having your supply stopped. "And if I decide not to help you, what then?"

"I will go and thank you for listening. For allowing me to clean up, bathe and remember - if just for a moment - the pleasure of friendship."

"Then, old friend, say your piece. I promise nothing beyond this one thing: know that I will never betray you."

The words brought tears to Gabriel's eyes but he was determined not to let them fall or for emotion to still his tongue. His old friend was now as close to a father confessor as he could come and he needed to bring Dominic up to speed. Quickly. Before this house of cards came crashing down upon them both.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*mei mei* = little sister *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *diyu* = hell *weishenme bu* = why not? *shenjingbing* = crazy *dong ma* = understand? *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *dui* = correct *guai* = devil/ghost *ni zhide shi shenme*? = what do you mean? *shenme* = what? *dang ran* = of course *hai hao ma* = are you okay? *wo daoqian* = I apologise *chaochu wode nengli* = beyond my ability *wode ma* = mother of God


Tuesday, June 16, 2009 10:38 AM


Holy Poo! You've been busy with the yarn. I loved this. Especially the conversation with Gabriel and Dominic.

As for these humans that aren't quite, nice surprise, though I figured with your last chapter, Serenity wasn't getting off scotch clean. Nicely done and can't wait for more.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 10:56 AM


Your reaction made me laugh, my friend - 'Holy Poo'? Well that there's a novel comment and no mistake (chuckle). Thanks for the feedback Angellemarcs. winding up the last few chapters now. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 2:20 AM


I can feel the strands coming together, knotting as they go, but I can't yet see the full outcome. And don't do anything more to Mal, please? No brain damage, or anything.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 6:16 PM


Ummm, did you just kill Mal? Just asking...

Thursday, June 18, 2009 6:45 PM


Thank you for an excellent chapter! Everything's beginning to come together in a most interesting way!


You must log in to post comments.



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.