The DUPLICITY Series: 67. "Promises to Keep"
Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Inara Takes Sendhil's advice. With Parliament in disarray others review their options. The Captain begins to recover and Badger goes into partnership with his brother."


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

SUMMARY: "Inara takes Sendhil's advice. With Parliament in disarray others review their options. The Captain begins to recover and Badger goes into partnership with his brother." 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

* * * * *

Never in a million years had Inara Serra ever envisaged taking advice from her brother on such a delicate and private matter. That he had seen clear through to the core of her dilemna without her every once voicing what was wrong shook her more than she wanted to admit. Now here she was doing something she had sworn she would never do and despite how much she hated herself for it there was a greater part of her that seemed to sigh in relief. It confused her but if nothing else she was determined to stop running.

Wash was surprised to get her wave. "Inara?" He looked over his shoulder at his wife to make sure she was listening. "It's good to hear from you."

Zoe frowned then schooled her features until her face was as near expressionless as made no never mind. Stepping up to peer over her husband's shoulder she felt a small frission of satisfaction on seeing Inara pause mid-sentence. "Zoe, I'm glad you're there."

The first mate's eyebrow rose but Inara managed to stop herself from blushing at the hastily formed lie. Obvious now that she had been hoping to have a quiet word with Wash before speaking to any other members of the crew.

"What can we do for you, Inara?"

Inara hid the slight sinking feeling in her gut. Zoe was not going to make this easier for her. Just then Kaylee came breezing onto the bridge, all sunshine and smiles. "Zoe, Wash, Cap'n's awake!"

For a moment the wave was forgotten, pleasure so palpable on everyone's faces and in their words that Inara felt a pang. She had missed this. Missed them. Zoe patted her husband on the shoulder and followed Kaylee out, leaving Wash to deal with yesterday's news.

"So, Inara, you were sayin'?"

* * * * *

Parliament was in uproar. Many of the senior members of the Council of Ministers had been wiped out in the terrorist act that had killed Minister Jacob Rosenbaum. They were shocked, numb, and for a moment too frightened to be angry. The anger would come later once they had a target to channel it against. For now the idea that there was a traitor among them left each of them on edge, wary and watching their own backs.

Minister Mervyn Cox watched closely, silently taking in both the information already gleaned and the members reactions. One of the longest serving members of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee he had been surprised to be shoe-horned into Parliament itself. It was unheard of but spoke of the rapidly rising desperation he could feel in this room. With half the Parliamentary Ministers dead, posts were being filled in haste. Never a good thing. The only plus was that for once all of them were speaking with the same voice of outrage, not even trying to disguise the deepening disquiet that lay beneath like rapidly thinning ice.

Representatives from the Union of Planets filed in once Parliament had calmed down enough to admit them. Last to enter were a couple of senior members of the Blue Sun Corporation, their appearance causing some discomfort among the newer members in the chamber. Cox had to admit these were exceptionally serious circumstances though what Blue Sun was doing at this meeting was as yet unclear. That was until the bombshell was dropped.

"We have found the culprit."

Minister Raymond Peters was surprised. "You have?"

This was the first he or any of the members had heard about an actual arrest. The man from the Corporation was David Rose, a former academic with an impeccable record for both scientific innovation and achievement. It was no wonder that Blue Sun had snapped up his expertise when his Alliance funding had ended fifteen years ago. Yet still, it was a quick rise up the corporate ladder to his current position aided by the fact of his predecessor's untimely demise. No one in the room was quite sure what he did now only that he had formidable power behind every word he chose to utter. "He was one of the waiters, a man named Samuel Dyer."

There were low murmurings in the chamber. A waiter? Well. That would explain how the killer had access but not the why.

"Director Rose," said Minister Cox "I take it this Samuel Dyer is an insurgent?"

The Director shook his head. "No, not that we could ascertain from questioning him."

Everyone tried to suppress a shudder at the kind of techniques their allies at Blue Sun would use. "If we might ask, how did you find him?"

Rose's ice blue eyes drilled into Minister Peters as if he could view the entire contents of the inside of his head. If Peters was honest it more than creeped him out. No one wanted to ask questions for this precise reason but it was serious enough that raising his head above the parapet wall to ask was one of the less dangerous options now open to him and they needed to know.

"He was in the rest room area by the locker room. The man was shaken, dazed and terrified of being found."

Nods and murmurs that he had every right to be drew a frown from the Director. Immediately silence fell upon the chamber.

"*Ni bu dong*, the man seems more victim than terrorist."

Councillor Halliday jumped to his feet. He was on the Parliamentary Oversight Committee and inclined to get a little over excited. "You just said you had found the culprit, now you call him a victim?"

"It is possible," said the Director in a quiet but clear voice "that he is both."

Halliday looked flustered, his mind trying to grapple with two seemingly opposite ideas.

"Let me explain." Silence descended once more and slowly, calmly, Director Rose stated what had been found out. "The man, Samuel Dyer, has never been knowingly connected with any subversive groups or activities. He appears to be loyal to the Alliance yet is the newest addition to the serving staff having only taken up the post two weeks prior to this attack. When he was questioned he seemed confused, frightened and close to panic."

Minister Keen spoke up. "Are you saying he didn't do it?"

The Director shook his head, his lips thinning in disapproval at the interruption. "The empty vial of poison was found on his person. His hastily discarded waiter's uniform had traces of it in the pocket and right sleeve. After the incident a lockdown was swiftly implemented, no one else appears to have come in or out of the building. He appears to have been shut in before he could escape."

Minister Cox looked thoughtful. "What are you saying, Director?"

"I am saying that we think someone else was behind this. That Dyer was co-erced into putting the poison into the champagne. We have determined that it was only the champagne that was affected, so it was left until the final toast."

The members absorbed that information. Minister Peters mouth dropped open. "For Minister Rosenbaum's selection?"

The Director nodded, his eyes now scanning the faces of everyone in the chamber, taking in their reactions with cold efficiency. "We think it is clear that Rosenbaum was the target."

"Then why kill everyone else? It doesn't make sense." "It does," said the Director dispassionately "if we are being purposely led to believe this to be a terrorist act against Parliament rather than an assassination of a single individual."

The chamber errupted into raised voices, the ministers arguing to and fro' as to what this meant. Whether there was a traitor in their midst or whether someone had infiltrated the Alliance. Who was behind it? And what would happen next? The Director watched the descent into chaos with a weary eye. He had known the likelihood of getting a cohesive think tank out of the members was a vain hope, luckily he had never counted on the men of straw in Parliament to be of any use other than to augment and carry out the Corporation's plans. Now, with Parliament in disarray the way was clear for Blue Sun to make rapid progress in reasserting its' dominance within the Alliance and Union of Planets. Their headquarters might now lie in ruin but already a bigger, better and more secret base of operations was under construction. The loss of Rosenbaum was a blow but it might also have done them a greater service in the long run.

By the time the chamber was orderly again, the Director was gone. It would be hours later before the members realised he had already left.

* * * * *

Badger would have gone, could have just up and left, but this was something that needed finishing. The whole business with the Alliance pursuit ship had shaken him but seeing how Reynold's dealt with the threat made him more sure than ever that he had made the right decision in hooking up with Serenity and her crew again. Besides being one of the few contacts he had left in the land of the living, Captain Reynolds was reliable if a might too smug about it. Now there was the matter of his mother's will and the papers he had passed on to Mal before this whole mess had errupted around them. Liam watched him, his face souring at the edges of his lips where a smile should have been.

"*Shenme*? You got somethin' to say, spit it out!"

"What are we doin' here, Steph? Danger's over, we should be on our merry, *dong ma*? Leave them to lick their wounds an' us to spendin' our cashy money."

Badger moved so quickly that Liam was shocked, the hand around his throat tightening painfully as he was shoved up against a metal bulkhead. "Now you listen to me you *wang en fuyi* piece of *goushi buru*. Got a business to build up, see? Need contacts, folks to fetch an' carry, slip under the ruttin' Alliance radar. Ain't gonna risk my own neck, not even yours though right now I'm thinkin' it ain't worth as much as I was thinkin'."

His brother tried to wriggle, air getting a bit too thin for his liking. Watching his face turn redder and redder, Badger dragged it out a little longer before loosening his hold.

"So you watch your tongue, *dong ma*? Watch, listen, do as you're gorram told an' I'll make you rich. Ain't got coin to throw around."

It was on the tip of Liam's tongue to tell him to go screw himself but he hadn't yet got his voice back, by the time his vocal chords were operating again his brain had caught up with what Badger had said. Common sense telling him not to be too hasty much as he wanted to knock his cocky brother on his rutting ass and walk away. If Badger was right this could be a good deal for them both but only if his brother started showing him a bit more respect. No amount of money was worth being treated like *goushi*. "That's the last time you lay a hand on me, Steph."

Badger chuckled darkly then shoved his face close to his brother's, lips peeled back and eyes turned steely. "You do as I say, don't make smart remarks like that again an' there'll be no need."

As his brother pulled back, Liam rubbed a hand across his throat, offended and more than a little put out by the way he was being treated. "If it wasn't for me we wouldn't be here, you might wanna think on that."

"You think I can't fly this thing, that it? Got delusions of grandeur?"

"Nah, I leave that to you an' that silly hat."

His face clouded. "Don't you insult this hat." Badger straightened his jacket and tugged on the lapels. "Gentleman, see? Business man." Liam snorted. "Stay wiv me an' you'll see. Live an' learn, Liam, live an' learn."

"An' if I wanna go me own way?"

Badger gave him a look of regret. "Your choice but we're family. All we got left, see?." Badger held his arms out to indicate their shiny new ship and the rosy profitable future he imagined ahead of them. "Is it so wrong that I wanna share all this wiv my o'nly livin' kin? Could be rich an' 'appy without you but we're brothers, see. Wanna keep it in the family."

Liam looked at him long and hard then a crafty look came into his eyes. "Partners?"

Suspicious, the smile vanished from Badger's face. "What'cha talkin' 'bout?"

"We're brothers but if we're gonna be in business Steph I wanna partnership, percentage of the takin's. S'only right."

He thought Badger was going to refuse, to tell him outright to get off his shiny ship but after a minute a slow little smile tugged at his brother's scheming lips. "Don't see why not but you gotta pull your weight." "50-50?"

Badger laughed, only stopping as the sour look returned to Liam's face. Draping an arm over his brother's shoulder Badger began to lay it all out. Him being the brains of the outfit and the one who Cyan had left the bulk of the estate to this was gonna be his operation, but if Liam played his cards right he'd end up with a mighty fine stake in it.

"Enough money to roll in?"

Badger laughed feeling sure that he had finally hooked his brother for once and for all. "More than. You stick wiv me, bro, an' you'll be able to light your gorram pipe wiv it!"

* * * * *

He hung from a hook in the centre of the room. Stark, square, and as wide as it was high. Hanging equidistant from the walls, his feet dangling a foot above the gleaming stainless steel floor. The floor angled from every side towards a small central drainage hole. It did not inspire confidence. Samuel Dyer drifted in and out of consciousness, the pain in his arms from bearing his own weight formed a constriction of the lungs. The discomfort sometimes aided and abetted by the drugs.

They came from time to time, stripping his clothes from his body the first time he defecated and wet himself, body caught in painful spasms from the latest cocktail injected into his neck. Men in white boiler suits came in and hosed him down, the water cold and a shock to the system. He was not dried off nor given clean clothes but left to hang naked as if in penance for bodily functions no longer under his control. It was not even done as cruelty just a lack of concern, as if changing his clothing would simply get in the way of the exercise. What did they want? Who were they? His throat had long since gone dry and hoarse from asking, his voice bouncing off the sound proof walls while callow faced men stared emotionlessly through the one glass wall at him as if he were some specimen in a lab. A lab. *Wode ma*, was that where he was? Would they start cutting him open when they could not get what they wanted?

As if his thoughts had conjured a reaction, the door swung open soundlessly and a man in a white coat padded in on cushioned feet. It made Samuel's ears ache, wanting to hear a sound, any sound, yet there was nothing but the occasional whisper of clothing. The man did not speak just injected something into a vein and retreated, the door closing without sound behind him. It was like being entombed yet with his consciousness kept alive to bear witness. *Weishenme*? What possible purpose could his callous treatment serve? He did not know and he could not ask. With nothing to drink his mouth was too dry. He shivered and moments later felt a faint warmth in the cell, the water on his body slowly drying and leaving behind an itch on his skin that he could not scratch.

* * * * *

He was dreaming, had to be. Angels didn't visit folk like him. *Diyu* even the Devil was getting choosy. The apparition stirred and a face hovered over him, beauty marred only by a look of concern. "Mal? Can you hear me?"

Huh. Would be just like his gorram dreams for the Angel to sound and look like Inara. He moved his lips to speak but nothing came out. The Angel saw his difficulty and gently raised the top of his bed, holding out a tumbler with a glass straw in it. All he could do was open his mouth, just a bit, but it seemed enough to allow the straw to be gently slid between his lips and oh, the joy, the utter bliss of the cool water on his throat.

"Don't give him too much."

The Captain's eyes snapped open. When had they closed? Oh yeah, water. He blinked as Simon Tam moved into view and then wished he had kept them closed when the doctor shone that gorram penlight in his eyes.

"*Rongyi*, Captain. You seem to be focusing much better, *ni juede zenme yang le*?"

"Feel a lot better without that gorram light in my eyes."

Simon smiled. "You must be recovering but seriously, how do you feel? Are you in any pain?"

It took longer than he thought possible to think about that. Pain? Not so much. More a kind of weariness tugging at his body as if there wasn't enough sleep in the whole 'verse to satisfy him. "Just *lei*. *Fasheng shenme shi le*?"

"It's a long story."

The Captain's eyes narrowed on his doctor's face. "I may be tired but you look worse, when's the last time you got any sleep, Simon?"

"*Wode hao*, it was touch and go for a while."

"I get shot?"

Simon shook his head but before he could answer Inara stepped into view.

"Why do you always assume you've been in a gun fight, Mal?"

It was comical seeing the expression on Malcolm Reynolds' face. Simon savoured it and knew Inara was amused.

"Doc, I think I'm hallucinatin'."

Simon laughed. "No, you're not seeing things, Mal. Inara really is here."

Now he turned quizzical eyes on her. "Care to explain? Pretty sure you shook the dirt of our boat off your fancy shoes." Usually she would have bristled but Inara had already wasted so much time hiding behind imagined slights and insults. It was just Mal being Mal and for once she was grateful for the consistency. "I realised I missed Serenity."

His eyebrows rose. "Serenity, huh?"

Inara nodded and with a little smile missed Simon slipping quietly out of the infirmary and closing the door behind him. "Kaylee, of course."

"*Dang ran*."

"And Wash and Zoe."

"What about Jayne?"

"Do we have to talk about Jayne?"

There was something else in her eyes, in her manner. Something tantalising and rare that he didn't want to scare away with the wrong word. "Prefer it if we didn't."

She smiled. That soft gentle smile she usually reserved for Kaylee or River. Never had seen it aimed squarely at his own self but now that she did he wanted to see it again. "I wanted to say sorry."

Mal blinked. Had he dozed? What had he missed? Seeing his confusion a light flutter of laughter spilled from Inara's lips.

"You're not imagining things, yes, I'm sorry. I said a lot of things I shouldn't have, well - a few - and it wasn't fair to blame everything on you."

He could hardly speak around the odd tightness in his throat. "It wasn't?"

"No, Mal." Her voice was a warm hush fanning his face. And when had she leaned in so close? Now he could see that beyond the warmth and humour in her eyes was a world of hurt and worry. "You nearly died."

"Have to stop doin' that." He said quietly, mystified and mesmerised by the amount of emotion he was seeing staring back at him.

"*Qing*, I'd like that."

He wanted to ask a whole mountain of questions but his eyelids were too heavy and kept cutting off the sight of her. The Captain felt warm fingers gently wrap around his hand and gave a little squeeze, his heart suddenly delirious when Inara squeezed back. "Go to sleep, Mal." She whispered gently, her lips brushing his cheek. "I'll be here when you wake up, *bao bei*."

He struggled manfully to stay awake a moment or two longer. "*Daying*?"

"I promise."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*ni bu dong* = you don't understand *shenme* = what *dong ma* = understand? *wang en fuyi* = ungrateful *goushi buru* = lower than dogshi/lower than the lowest *goushi* = crap/dog shit *wode ma* = mother of God *weishenme* = why? *diyu* = hell *rongyi* = easy *ni juede zenme yang le* = how are you feeling? *lei* = tired *fasheng shenme shi le* = what happened? *wode hao* = I'm good *dang ran* = of course *qing* = please *baobei* = precious/treasure *daying* = promise


Sunday, June 21, 2009 11:54 AM

ANGELLEMARCS good. My favorite was the end conversation with Inara and Mal. Where he mentions Jayne and they step around it. LOL!

Not sure Badger and his brother will be such good partners, but who knows?! We've seen worse.

Glad to see Mal up and around though and hope that this strings come to together for the good of all. Always a wonder and pleasure to read, my dear!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009 5:06 PM


Glad you're finally working on a happy ending for Mal and Inara - I think. Poor guy needs to catch a break once in a while, just glad he gets to do it in good company.

Monday, June 22, 2009 12:18 PM


Thanks for the shiny feedback! There is definitely some happiness in Mal and Inara's immediate future. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 6:05 AM


So glad to see something going right for Mal and Inara. But it looks like maybe it was out of the frying pan, into the burning hell-like conflagration with the Parliamentary issue!

Friday, June 26, 2009 1:29 AM


Excellent work, as always. What a wonderful thought, that Mal and Inara might some day get past all their contentions to rest easy with each other. Not something I normally believe would happen, but very well done here! :)


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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.