BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

AMDOBELL

THE DEVIL'S CRADLE: 39. "Doing Right"
Saturday, March 23, 2013

As they ran Monty, Danny and John-Joe followed. Inwardly Suzie cursed Lucy's timing. Another hour and they would be on Lilac, could leave the ship and get down to the hard business of working out what to do next.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1673    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "DOING RIGHT" SERIES: THE DEVIL'S CRADLE CHAPTER: 39. Sequel to "LITTLE BLUE LIES" FANDOM: "FIREFLY" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL PAIRING: Zoe/Wash Kaylee/Simon Mal/Inara RATING: PG-13 SUMMARY: "Jerrod has a decision to make but River isn't helping. Badger opens his gift and Monty finds that no good deed goes unpunished."

"DOING RIGHT" A "Firefly" Story Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Jerrod Perkins was feeling more than a mite unsettled. He actually liked Malcolm Reynolds, had a goodly respect for him, but this chasing the tail of a very nasty tiger was like to result in a messy end for them all. To give Serenity's Captain his due the man offered to drop them off on Lilac as arranged and with no further expectations from them but it left a kind of cloying feeling in the back of his gorram throat. As if splitting up from Reynolds and his crew now would somehow be the cowardly thing to do. He had paid the Captain the rest of the money for the delivery job to Badger on Persephone and that whole business had left him feeling more than a little soiled. Didn't matter a good gorram that he had essentially told Mal the truth, just hadn't told him everything. Now this whole steaming pile of *goushi* was about to blow up in their faces and he didn't know what to do about it.

A noise had him spinning round, jumpy as could be. The elfin face that stared at him round the door to his temporary quarters added to his feelings of guilt. What the *diyu* was wrong with him? It wasn't his fault if that stiff necked *baichi* of a Captain got himself and his crew killed. To his consternation, River Tam half-walked and half-floated into his room and tilted her pale face, those eyes fastened on his like sad soulful limpets.

"You're *cuode*. Secrets and lies, two of the deadly sins."

"What're you talkin' about, *nu haizi*?"

"I have a name."

The accusation made him pause, his memory a scramble to fit the right name to that slightly creepy face but the girl had started talking again. Her voice not raised, conversational almost, but it was the content that had him squirming inside. The girl was downright creepifying.

"He doesn't know but that doesn't mean he won't guess. Better to tell him, have a clean conscience."

Oh, if only the moon faced girl had been a man he could have knocked seven barrels of *goushi* out of her and not felt a moment of regret but she was a fey little thing. Didn't deserve the bile rising up inside him nor the murderous thoughts her words were sparking off. Jerrod took a deep breath, tried to calm himself down, at least outwardly. "*Ni bu dong, nu haizi*."

"River."

He blinked. "*Shenme*?"

"River, it's my name."

Ah, so it was. As soon as she said it he remembered. "There's nothin' I can do or say to help, *dong ma*?"

She shook her head, her eyes sad and disappointed. "*Bushi*. Hiding what you know is still a lie."

"No, it ain't."

"Is too. It's a sin of omission."

"Never heard of any such sin, you're makin' that up."

For a moment she just stared at him then spoke in barely a whisper yet Jerrod heard every word. "You can still do the right thing. Even if you won't help your words can prevent a blood bath."

Jerrod felt the blood drain from his face and sat down quick before he fell down. "What're you talkin' about?"

River leaned in closer, her eyes locked on his. Jerrod Perkins could not have looked away if he had tried. "You have to tell him about Rufus. Why he was on Ithaca Moon and the real reason you don't want Badger to know you're still alive."

His mouth fell open, aghast that she could know so much. But how? None of his crew knew the full story though he had a feeling Howdy Marks might have guessed a goodly part of it but they were loyal to a man. Struggling to grasp this new twist he wanted so much to justify his position but did not have the words to do so and by the time he was ready to try to explain the girl was gone. Oddly enough he felt worse with her absence than when she was standing there staring at him. Then a thought hit him. If she knew or suspected all that, why in the nine hells hadn't she gone to the Captain? Why come to him?

* * * * *

Matthew James Wong was frustrated. Badger had thanked him and asked him to convey his appreciation to the Lady then gone to his wall safe and locked the box inside. Before he could protest, the little King Pin had given Wong a patently false smile and informed him he had urgent work to attend to. He would open the box later and send the Lady a wave to thank her in person when he had done so. Finding himself outside the ratty complex, Wong had blinked, mildly stunned. Did the man not know who he was dealing with?

Only when he found somewhere secure where he could open his portable cortex link without being overlooked or raising any curious glances did Wong contact the Lady.

"Report."

"He would not open the box, My Lady."

Her eyes narrowed. "*Weishenme*? Surely he does not suspect anything?"

"I think Mr Badger suspects everyone and everything. I insisted that I remain present until he had opened it to ensure he was pleased with the *liwu* but he locked it in a safe saying he had to attend to business first. He said he will contact you after he has opened it."

The Lady's lips flattened into an unhappy and unamused line, her eyes flashed with irritation then she was calm once more. "You will remain, close but out of sight. Once he has opened the box it is imperative the contents are retrieved and returned to me, *dong ma*?"

Wong bowed. "*Wo dong*, my Lady."

By the time he had straightened the cortex link had been cut and the Lady was gone. With a small sigh, Wong put the portable cortex link in an inside pocket and prepared to wait Badger out.

* * * * *

"I can't believe you ate all the pie!"

Monty patted his considerable stomach and smiled through his bushy whiskers at Davie's expression. "My pie."

"Yes, but..." Davie broke off and shook his head in disbelief. "We could have lived off that for a week!"

Throwing back his head, Monty laughed. Suzie felt her lips twitch with humour.

"Now," said Monty, suddenly a mite more serious "where you wantin' to go on Lilac? You got folks there?"

Suzie wanted to lie to him but it was so hard, her mouth opened and shut and nothing came out.

'Tell him'

'Davie, we can't risk it'

'I trust him'

Suzie wanted to have a good reason to argue that it was not enough when Danny ran into the room, eyes wide. Monty immediately sprang to his feet. "*Shenme shi*"

"It's the girl, *laoban*."

Monty flicked a confused glance in Suzie's direction. Danny shook his head and pointed behind him.

"*Bu qu*, the other one."

Suzie got up, her heart rate hammering. "Lucy's awake?"

"More'n awake, she's throwin' stuff an' yellin' like a gorram banshee."

"I'd better speak to her, let her know she's safe."

Danny turned an incredulous look on her. "What about US?"

Suzie wanted to laugh but Danny looked so serious, outraged even. That was when she realised he had a cut on the left side of his face just an inch shy of his eye. Her humour completely fled. "I'll go, come on Davie."

As they ran Monty, Danny and John-Joe followed. Inwardly Suzie cursed Lucy's timing. Another hour and they would be on Lilac, could leave the ship and get down to the hard business of working out what to do next.

* * * * *

Zoe stared unblinking at her Captain and long time friend. The cause was no doubt a noble one but she could not see how they could possibly pull off something of this scale. Jayne put it succinctly, nailing all their reservations in one.

"You're *shenjingbing*! Takin' on the ruttin' Alliance AN' Blue Sun?"

They were all crowded up on the bridge so the whole crew could have this discussion away from their passengers. It was not that Mal did not trust Jerrod and his crew but this was a line in the sand that he could only draw if his own crew were with him. Jerrod didn't need to see or hear all the protesting voices. Simon was watching the Captain closely, noticing Shepherd Book on the sidelines taking it all in but not making any comments of his own. He was not sure what to think except that Malcolm Reynolds was obviously not in his right mind.

"Captain, we barely made it off Anaeron by the skin of our teeth. I have to agree with Jayne, this is madness."

The Captain noticed Inara's face was pale, her make up unable to hide how unhappy she was with this notion. Kaylee caught his eye, twisting her hands as if caught between a rock and a hard place. "What about you little Kaylee?"

"I think if we do this, none of us are comin' back Cap'n." She paused when he flinched. "Not that it ain't noble an all but how're we gonna breach Alliance security, find out what they know about this dust an' then locate wherever in the 'verse they been makin' it?" She shook her head in apology for not agreeing with her Captain. "Just don't see how it could work is all."

He gave her a little nod then tuned to Zoe. "What do you think, Zoe?"

"You know my opinion, sir. We just made it this time, don't think we should be temptin' fate a second time."

"Wash?"

The pilot was surprised the Captain would ask him. After all, everybody knew he and Zoe were a unit and he rarely if ever disagreed with his wife. Especially when embarking on the 'Oh God, Oh God, we're all gonna die!' adventures. Such madcap ideas were fun to read about, not so much fun trying desperately to live through them. "Sorry Mal, I have to agree with Zoe. It can't be done."

To everyone's consternation the Captain stuck his thumbs in his braces and straightened his back, a broad smile breaking out over his face. "Doin' the impossible makes us mighty."

"Doin' the stupid makes us dead." Grumbled an unhappy Jayne.

Zoe opened her mouth to say something, to take the sting out of the negative reactions of the crew to the Captain's latest crazy plan when memories from a decade ago and more filled her with a clarity that gave her sudden pause...

FLASHBACK TO SHADOW

Mama Reynolds gave Zoe a steady look only her eyes smiling in that care worn but tough as leather face. "Don't worry about what comes outta his fool mouth, listen to what comes outta his heart."

Zoe frowned. "How am I supposed to do that?"

His mama gave her a gentle smile. "You'll learn, until then any time you ain't certain look him right in the eye, *dong ma*? You'll see everythin' you need to know when you do."

At Zoe's disbelieving look, Mrs Reynolds gave a soft dry chuckle.

"Windows to the soul, Zoe. Windows to the soul. My boy has a good heart but his mouth an' his brain ain't always connected to it."

BACK TO THE PRESENT

"If you don't mind my sayin', sir, you're takin' our reactions better than I would have expected."

Zoe got a brief glimpse of a wounded look before he shuttered it away where even the light couldn't reach. It pricked her with a feeling of disloyalty but she had no time to dwell on it. The Captain was speaking

"Not gonna make anyone go along as doesn't wanna but I aim to misbehave."

Alarmed, Inara stared at him in shock. "Mal, you can't do this alone!"

A small clear voice piped up from the doorway. "Won't be going alone."

Heads turned as River Tam stepped lightly onto the bridge, her bare feet making no sound. The bridge so crowded now that Simon imagined the air getting thinner. River turned her head and fixed her eyes on his. "*Bushi*, the air only feels thinner. Don't hyperventilate."

"I'm not hyperventilating, *mei mei*."

But River had turned away from him and was looking at the Captain. "He won't like it but he will help."

The Captain felt relief flow through him. Jayne looked puzzled, glancing from crew member to crew member wondering who the moon touched girl was talking about. "*Shei*?" Everyone ignored the mercenary.

"Good to know, little one."

River smiled in response knowing the Captain had realised she was not talking about their crew but Jerrod and his. "I'm coming too."

Simon pushed forward. "*Bu qu*! It's too dangerous, River."

"*Ni bu dong*, we have to pick up the others first."

Now even the Captain was confused. "*Wo bu dong*, what others?"

River cocked her head to one side as if listening to something only she could hear. When she lifted her head, her eyes were bright, an air of mischievousness about her that made Simon's heart sink. "They'll get there first but won't go far."

Despite how totally wrong the whole thing felt, Zoe remembered all those times back on Shadow then the agonising horror of the War that followed. Everything that bound her to Malcolm Reynolds. Crazy or not she knew she would follow him into the fires of *diyu*. It might not be the smartest thing to do but something settled inside her with the knowing of it and she knew it was right. "What's the plan, sir?"

Wash stared at Zoe in surprise. Surely she wasn't intending to go along with this hare brained scheme? Zoe was not looking at her *zhangu* but at the Captain. Why did she always have to back every stupid idea that came out of Malcolm Reynolds' head? Without looking at Wash, Zoe slipped her hand in his and gave it a warm squeeze, not letting go but telling him without words that she understood his reservations. Maybe shared a goodly few. But the Captain was still the Captain and she would shoot anyone who stood against him. With a deep inward sigh, Wash squeezed back and knew he would fall into line like always. After all, what else could he do? He was just the husband.

* * * * *

It was late by the time Badger got back to his place of power. He felt inordinately pleased with himself. Everything had gone so smooth and soon his coffers would be filling with a large injection of cashy money. What businessman of worth wouldn't be impressed with that? Now that the day's activity was at a close he had time to mull over everything that had happened. It had been a surprise to see Serenity's Captain turn up not only fit and well but completing his delivery to Jerrod and the one coming back in the other direction. A thoughtful look slid over his face as he settled himself in his big leather armchair. For once he was not savouring the feel of the real leather or how it hugged and supported him in all the right places. Worth a King's gorram ransom that chair so it was only right it had fallen into his hands.

Badger found one thing still bugging him. Reynolds had brought the cargo he ordered from Jerrod, a transaction he was not looking to see completed, and yet the fact was that everything was in that consignment. Not a rutting thing missing or seemingly tampered with. It convinced him that the Captain did not know what the boxes had contained and that suited him fine but it left him wondering. Had Reynolds picked up the gorram cargo before all hell had broken loose? If so, it would explain it reaching him at all. If not, a more intriguing and troublesome puzzle reared its' rutting head. Could it be that Jerrod Perkins had survived?

* * * * *

Shepherd Book knew he was being followed but had not expected the one to be dogging his footsteps to be Serenity's second in command. He stopped and turned to look at her, a mild look of inquiry on his face.

"Is there something I can do for you?"

"I noticed you didn't ask the Cap'n any questions. In fact his plan seemed no surprise to you at all."

Book smiled gently, exuding calm. "The Captain already spoke to me about it."

Zoe's eyebrows rose, surprise and suspicion vying for ascendance. Why would the Captain speak to the Shepherd before discussing the plan with her? "*Weishenme*?"

"He wanted my advice."

That struck the kind of false note that stuck in Zoe's craw but before she could call Book on it he continued speaking.

"Not on what he wanted to do but whether it could be pulled off."

Now she was intrigued. Normally questions like that were held close to the Captain's chest and limited to her and him. What made Book's input so special and why speak to him apart from the rest of the crew? "What did you say?"

"I told him it was a very high risk strategy with a very low chance of success."

Zoe frowned. "Then you aren't comin' with us?"

"Oh, I'm coming."

"Why come if you don't agree?"

"Because it's the right thing to do. I may not always agree with the Captain but despite trying to convince us of the opposite, he is at heart a good man."

"Even when his decisions are like to get us all dead?" Asked Zoe softly.

Book was not smiling any more. "They say 'fortune favours the brave'."

"Only we aren't lookin' to find a fortune, are we?"

The Preacher didn't answer but took polite leave of her. He had promised to spot Jayne on the weight bench. Zoe watched him go, her look thoughtful even though she was none the wiser.

* * * * *

It was such a little box. Why all the fuss and fanfare? Badger stared at it, a bit dismissive of the organza bow binding the box shut. He had weighed it in his gorram palm, had no heft to it at all. Could be bloody empty for all he knew, in fact he wouldn't put it past the Lady to pull a stunt like that except she had seemed anxious to watch for his reaction. Well, it was too light for a bomb. Maybehaps there was a bond inside, that would weigh next to nothing but could be worth a lot of coin. Coin he could admit to himself that he had not exactly earned. That little stumbling block could prove his gorram undoing which meant he would have to find a way to be sure of his facts but how? He thought about Malcolm Reynolds but the man had already left Persephone. Had rutting well taken off in that wreck of a ship of his as soon as he had been paid despite Badger offering to maybe find him another job. It unsettled the little King Pin as if Reynolds knew something he didn't. Or worse still something he did.

Then there was the Lady's *liwu*. Had to admit he was all fired up with curiosity but he was also nothing if not suspicious though it appeared nothing more innocuous than it seemed. A small, if elegantly presented, gift. In the end curiosity won over suspicion and Badger undid the silly little bow and began to lift off the lid of the box. As he did so something faintly rattled inside. He frowned. Was it broken? Just as he started to look inside something moved and Badger dropped the box in alarm. Whatever was inside had started to make a buzzing noise, not loud but enough to get his heart pounding like the ruddy clappers. Quickly he stamped down on the box before whatever was in it could get out. The buzzing sound got louder and louder, but as Badger jumped back he caught a glimpse of something shiny and golden clinging to the bottom of his gorram shoe. He tried to scrape it off but whatever it was seemed to be trying to burrow up through the gorram rubber heel.

"Get it off, get it OFF!" He screamed.

A couple of his men ran over, confused as to what they were looking for. Badger was hopping about on one foot by now and kicking out with the other.

"*Shenme shi, laoban*?"

"It's tryin' to get through my bloody shoe!"

Craig Moody dropped to a wary crouch, turning his assault rifle the wrong way round, intending to use the butt end to smash whatever it was into itty bitty pieces. Daltry touched his shoulder lightly and spoke urgently to Badger.

"Best take your shoe off, *laoban*."

"What do you think I'm tryin' to bloody do?"

As the shoe at last came off Moody and Daltry took turns hammering the shoe and the shiny thing sticking on its' underside into as many pieces as they could. Only when the buzzing broke up and finally stopped did Badger calm himself enough to give a wary look at what they had found. The shoe was ruined but the hidden thickness of rubber that had been concealed inside it to add height to the little King Pin had definitely saved his gorram life. There, pinned and squashed against the heel was the weirdest and creepiest thing he had ever seen. Beautiful in a scary kind of way it was definitely a copy of some kind of insect but done in what looked like gold. Course, he didn't imagine it was. Gold was quite a soft metal and would have buckled under all the thumping and hammering they had inflicted on it. This thing was damaged but still whole and wasn't that a troubling little fact?

Moody scowled at the thing, more puzzled than anything else. "What is it, *laoban*?"

"Unless I'm mistaken it was meant to kill me."

His men stared at him but were wise enough not to show any sign of disbelief. Badger was feeling almost recovered now but his mind was racing.

"That *tamade hundan* major domo of the Lady's, what's 'is name?"

"Wong."

"Yeah, 'im. Was all kinds of insistin' on seein' me open that bloody box, wanted to be able to tell the Lady how much I liked it." Badger paused and gave a nasty grin as he tilted his bowler hat back an inch or two. "I want you to find 'im, tell him I wanna see him. Tell 'im I'm ready to open the gorram box."

His men exchanged a glance, looked down at what was left of the mechanical insect and then at their *laoban's* face. The grin was nasty, full of the promise of revenge. Answering grins flashed on their faces then vanished. They had a job to do and couldn't wait to see Badger exact his own version of vengeance.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*goushi* = crap/dog shit *diyu* = hell *baichi* = idiot *cuode* = wrong *nu haizi* = girl *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *shenme* = what *dong ma* = understand? *bushi* = not so *weishenme* = why *liwu* = gift *wo dong* = I understand *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *laoban* = boss *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *shenjingbing* = crazy *mei mei* = little sister *shei* = who? *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *zhangfu* = husband *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard

COMMENTS

Saturday, March 23, 2013 3:54 PM

NUTLUCK


Lucky for the kids to end up with Monty, and should be interesting to see what Monty thinks about what Mal has in mind.

Also interesting take on the Mal/Zoe relationship, I think you are the first person to imply they meet before the war.

Sunday, March 24, 2013 4:14 AM

AMDOBELL


You are right about the kids being lucky to have ended up with Monty. I am not the only one to have written stories or alluded to Mal and Zoe knowing each other before the War, Nutluck, and I have a whole backstory for them that trickles through some of my stories. Thanks for the shiny feedback, Ali D :-)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, March 25, 2013 5:44 AM

BYTEMITE


Well, while I wouldn't really cry for Badger, I think this confirms that the lady in question has no good intentions towards the crew. That she's dangerous and the box was bad news was never in doubt.

I suspect that trying to turn the weapon-bug against Wong may not work well, it's not like Badger really knows what it is or what it does.

Monday, March 25, 2013 6:53 PM

AMDOBELL


I can't see anyone crying for Badger either, Bytemite. As for the Lady having no good intentions she is certainly a very tricky and deadly character. I kind of got a kick out of the built up inserts in Badger's shoes to give him a bit of extra height being the only thing that saved his life. Not often someone is saved by vanity methinks. Thanks for the shiny comments, it is appreciated. Ali D :-)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6:23 PM

EBFIDDLER


Lucky Badger had on his elevator shoes. I don't think he's going to try to turn the insect thingy against Wong; he's just trying to lure Wong into his trap. But he may have bitten off more than he can chew anyway. I don't know why Mal's so confident about his plan, but with River on board and Zoe sticking to him out of loyalty and knowledge of his character, maybe there's more of a chance. What does Jerrod know? He'd better tell Mal before it's too late! Another interesting chapter, Ali.

Friday, March 29, 2013 6:31 AM

AMDOBELL


Yes, Badger was lucky Ebfiddler. You have a good grasp on Badger and while he is tricky and slippery as *diyu* he is not exactly a criminal mastermind. As for Mal's confidence more will become clear soon and Jerrod is going to have to make a decision about something very soon. Thank you for the shiny feedback, Ali D :-)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, March 29, 2013 3:08 PM

MALSDOXY


can't WAIT till Lucy, Suzie and Davie meet RIVER!! oh there's some goings-on to be had, there, I'm thinkin' -very intriguing developments, AliD, thank you

" Especially when embarking on the 'Oh God, Oh God, we're all gonna die!' adventures." L.M.A.O.

Friday, March 29, 2013 5:45 PM

MALSDOXY


can't WAIT till Lucy, Suzie and Davie meet RIVER!! oh there's some goings-on to be had, there, I'm thinkin' -very intriguing developments, AliD, thank you

" Especially when embarking on the 'Oh God, Oh God, we're all gonna die!' adventures." L.M.A.O.

Friday, March 29, 2013 5:47 PM

MALSDOXY


dammit double post...2 hours apart /o\ how'd that happen??

Saturday, March 30, 2013 5:30 AM

MALSDOXY


dammit double post...2 hours apart /o\ how'd that happen??

Sunday, March 31, 2013 2:41 AM

AMDOBELL


Don't worry about the double posts Malsdoxy, sometimes these computers have a mind of their own. Glad you are enjoying the story, lots more to come including that meeting of minds! Thank you for the welcome feedback, Ali D :-)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, April 1, 2013 9:19 PM

JANE0904


Trouble is, a confident Mal can often also be a dangerous Mal, if only to his crew! Enjoying this take on things, and I love the idea of Badger wearing elevator shoes!


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