HOPE SERIES: 19. "The Best Lie"
Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Patience baits a trap. Zoe is determined to discover the truth and the Captain finds himself with only one course of action left to him."


TITLE: "THE BEST LIE" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Simon/Kaylee. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "ANOTHER FINE MESS". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Patience baits her trap. Zoe is determined to discover the truth and the Captain finds himself with only one course of action left open to him." 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

* * * * *

Chin watched Patience pacing angrily to and fro' from the corner of his eye. The woman was a sour faced two-timing *pofu* but for the last few years she had given him and his family a home and the means to make a living. As poor as it was he was grateful without being blind to her many faults. Now was not the time to point out any of them. Spinning round to face him she stopped, her eyes filled with a furious dark intent that was one step beyond truly scary. Old Chin found himself fearing for the children she had taken. A crime that no amount of coin could sanction yet one he was powerless to do anything about.

"Reynolds will pay for this!"

He could have pointed out that she was the one who had betrayed Serenity's Captain not the other way around but held his tongue. Patience was facing him but not seeing her foreman, her gaze distant, perhaps persuing her intended quarry. Chin hoped the Captain had the sense to never return to the pit of *diyu* called White Sands. A sudden calm came over the woman. One that pricked Chin's skin sending warning skitters of foreboding through his body in a cold shiver of apprehension. Patience blinked, a slow smile sliding across her scheming face like a knife stroke. She focused now on Chin and he mentally straightened, every sinew of his being on high alert while appearing outwardly calm.

"One thing about Malcolm Reynolds, Chin. He's sentimental."

Puzzled, Chin remained silent. She would tell him what she wanted and no more.

"I want you to get back to work, *dong ma*? In the meantime I think it's time I sent my favourite Cap'n a wave."

* * * * *

The inactivity had been a novelty for all of the ten minutes he had been awake again. Jayne was sick of it, wanted to be up and about only Simon was being even more annoyafying than usual. Tossing fancy words at him like they were meant to mean a gorram.

"*Wode hao*."

Simon huffed. "Have you even listened to a word I said? You were shot - TWICE. You've had a blood transfusion and whether you like it or not your body needs time to recover."

The big man was sitting now, one hand throwing back the light blanket that covered him so he could swing his legs around. "Yeah, I heard your yap. Ain't got time to be layin' here doin' nothin'."

"You're not doing nothing, Jayne. It's called healing."

"I can heal on my feet. Had worse than this growin' up."

The doctor shook his head, knowing a lost cause when he saw one. It didn't stop him worrying about the big man pulling his stitches and ending up back on his operating table though. "Just promise me you won't do any weights until I tell you it's safe to do so?"

"Just need to be on my feet, *dong ma*?"

It wasn't a promise but Simon nodded as if it was.

* * * * *

She didn't like it but since becoming a mother her own self Zoe could sympathise with Natalie and Paul. What she found hard to do however was forgive them.

"You knew exactly what you were doin'. Cap'n an' Jayne could've been killed."

Paul didn't try to defend his actions. He knew how it looked but any remorse he might have felt was overshadowed by his worry for the children. Alone and unprotected from the twisted moral labyrinth that Patience lived in. A place with no room for a conscience and hardly anything in the way of human compassion. Her life was a hard one, purposely so, or so it seemed and she had no time or patience for anyone not struck from the same mould. If he could have found any other way he would have taken it.

"*Wode duibuqi*, Zoe, we both are but I have to tell you this: we will do anythin' to get our children back."

"Includin' stabbin' those who've helped you in the back!"

He winced but didn't break eye contact. They were in the passenger room assigned to them and so far Natalie had said nothing. She sat on the bed in a silence so profound that Zoe wondered whether the woman had heard a single thing they said. Another thought crept up on her, one that had stuck a burr of irritation under her skin the moment Paul had begun telling the Captain his tale.

"That was a pretty story you spun the Cap'n about your father."

Something flickered darkly in Paul's eyes but he didn't respond, sensing that the First Mate wasn't finished.

"How about you tell me the truth?"

A soft sound hissed from Natalie's mouth but otherwise the woman didn't stir. Paul just stared at Zoe. The First Mate straightened, her look hardening.

"Whatever Mal decides it won't happen unless I agree so you can tell me now or decide where you wanna be dropped off. I don't much care whether it has atmo but reckon the unborn child deserves at least a chance."

When the moments stretched and it looked like Paul and Natalie would brazen it out Zoe stiffened her spine and began to turn away, already dismissing them from her mind. Paul's voice halted her with a cadence and flatness that was a mite more truthsome that anything he had uttered up to now.

"I told the truth about the mine only it didn't belong to my father."

Zoe frowned but before she could pick him up on the discrepancy he began to explain.

"It was mine."

"*Wo bu dong*."

Paul sighed, glanced at Natalie who reached out and took his hand, some silent communication passing between them. "Mal couldn't understand why we wanted to go to Whitefall when we left Serenity but I had a plan. Could say it was a dream of sorts. Years before I ever met any of you, when I was heavily committed to the underground network, a friend of mine told me about this place which was hotter than *diyu* but had a fortune waiting for anyone with the vision to go an' look for it."

"Then why didn't he go an' make himself rich?"

"He wanted to but needed a partner. I got the offer, didn't believe it really existed but he had this little pouch on a cord around his neck. Never knew what was in it. When I found him dead in the street, murdered within sight of home, I carried him back and made arrangements to have him buried properly. That was when I found the pouch." Paul paused and reached inside his shirt and pulled out a little dull cloth bag. Pulling the cord up over his head he undid the pouch and tipped out a stone. It was a fiery opal. "That was when I remembered what he had told me. Back then White Sands was unpopulated, nothin' there for anyone to live on and a climate more likely to tear you up an' spit you out than provide a home. It was a curse an' a blessin'. When Mal asked where we wanted to be dropped off I knew it would be pointless to just head straight for White Sands. We would need to build up some capital first, get some supplies together an' so on. Picked the nearest planet instead."


He nodded. "Patience didn't trust us at first but once we spent time settlin' in an' lookin' for work it was easier though I wasn't stupid enough to do anythin' to make her suspicious. I'd heard the rumours an' so me an' Natalie spent the first year workin' an' savin' every bit of coin we could until we had enough. Trouble was, I wasn't near as smart as I thought I was."

"What happened?"

Paul sighed. "I thought Patience had started to trust me." Zoe snorted in disbelief but Paul ignored the interruption. "She's a wily old *pofu*, I'll give her that. Had me followed. Nat was sure we were bein' watched but I never saw anyone so once we had enough money together we gathered supplies as quietly as we could and hired a transport to White Sands. Patience had her bully boys follow us. By the time we realised it was too late, we'd led them to the gorram mine an' the rest as they say is history."

"Were the children a lie too?"

A flash of anger flared in Paul's face. "I would never lie about that!"

"Why not just tell the Cap'n the truth?"

This time the flush was with embarrassment. "I was ashamed. May not look like it but Mal's been good to us."

"Hell of a way to repay him."

"All of you have. I needed to come up with a story that sounded believable but lies apart, Patience has my children an' I'll give anythin', do anythin' to get them back!"

For a moment no one spoke then Zoe turned to Natalie. "What about you? Cat got your tongue?"

Natalie shook her head, her eyes distant and sad. Zoe frowned but before she could repeat her question Natalie blinked and gave the First Mate her full attention for the first time since Zoe had tracked them down. "Paul's tellin' you the truth though I don't blame any of you for havin' doubts. We should have been honest with you." Natalie looked at Paul, her hand tightening on his. "They're somewhere dark, *bao bei*, an' frightened."

Her words reminded Zoe that Natalie was like River in one very important respect. She was a Reader. "You can tell from this distance?"

"It's difficult but if I block everythin' else out an' concentrate I can feel 'em. Sense their emotions."

"Where are they?"

Natalie shook her head. "Can't see, it's too dark."

Zoe and Paul exchanged a look. "Underground. Or maybe it's night time?"

Natalie started to shake, tears brimming. Paul tried to soothe her. "Shh, it's gonna be alright *xin gan*. We'll find them."

"They're frightened, Paul."

He nodded, dropped a kiss to her brow and murmured into her hair. "So am I, *fengmi*."

Zoe wasn't sure what to think. Who to believe. What to feel. But she knew someone who would know. Without a word she left them to take what comfort they could in each other.

* * * * *

"You want me to what?"

Patience just stared back at him over the cortex as if her offer was entirely reasonable. "You hand Paul over to me an' I'll let the children go. Won't even go after their lyin' mother which is more than any of 'em deserve."

The Captain blinked then leaned slowly forward in the pilots' chair. "Way I heard it, that ain't your mine."

To his consternation, Patience threw back her head and gave a hearty laugh. It took her a couple of goes to get herself back under control. "Mal, Mal, you really are as gullible as you look." At his frown she chuckled before any trace of humour vanished from her face. "That boy is a parcel of lies. I've got legitimate claim to that mine, papers an' everythin'. If the boy had been quicker off the mark it might have been his but it didn't turn out that way." She shrugged. "Life ain't fair, Mal. Just tellin' you how it is."

"An' if I don't agree? What happens to the children?"

A sly, self satisfied look oiled its' way across her face. "Well now, can always use more labour in a mine."

Seething, the Captain spat back. "They're children!"

His anger seemed to amuse her. "Children grow up, Mal. Come to think of it, maybe it'd better if you don't take the deal. I get three workers for nothin' and get shot of that *mei yong tamade hundan* who tried to steal my mine out from under me."

Before he could respond Patience leaned foward and disconnected. The Captain stared at the blank screen torn between anger, frustration and worry for three innocents trapped in the corrupting influence of one of his least favourite people in the 'verse. Hands balled into fists, Malcolm Reynolds swore that he would get those children back if it was the last gorram thing he did.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*pofu* = bitch *diyu* = hell *dong ma* = understand? *wode hao* = I'm good *fengmi* = honey *wode duibuqi* = I'm sorry *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *bao bei* = precious/treasure *xin gan* = sweetheart *mei yong* = useless *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard


Sunday, November 22, 2009 1:49 PM


Not sure who I am pissed at more....Paul for being a liar or Patience for being...well Patience. Got to admit you came back with a doozy of a chapter. Nice writing!!


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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.

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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.

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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.

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Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

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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.