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AMDOBELL

THE LOYALTY SERIES: 4. "No Good Deed"
Thursday, August 28, 2003

"Constance revels in her revenge. The crew of Serenity become increasingly worried the more they discover. River tries to warn them but her sanity keeps slipping."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2925    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "NO GOOD DEED" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: No specific pairing. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: New. SEQUEL to "EROS". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: http://carlajane.50megs.com/Ali00.html

SUMMARY: "Constance revels in her revenge. The crew of Serenity become increasingly worried the more they discover. River tries to warn them but her sanity keeps slipping." 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.

"NO GOOD DEED"

A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Wash Warren could not but help a stirring of nerves even as the adrenaline began to pump insanely through his veins. Were they all completely crazy? He guessed they were. Their mad, heroic Captain was definitely rubbing off on them. They were in the kitchen eating something colourful with no flavour that Simon had made. Wash stared at the bowl and considered how much his sister might have helped and found himself not quite so hungry but food was food and how many ways could you spoil protein cubes anyway? Jayne simply shovelled his in his mouth then dumped the bowl on the table and seemed surprised when no one else had finished yet. "We have to get goin' if we're goin'."

"Yes," Said Simon slowly. "But we also have to be careful."

Jayne frowned at him. Annoyed. "I know that."

"If a thing's worth saying, Jayne, it's worth repeating in English." Said Wash.

"Yeah, well worryin' the words to death don't change anything and when I want your opinion I'll be a hundred years dead in the ground."

"We can only hope." Murmured Wash very quietly.

"What was that, little man?" Growled Jayne.

"I just said time to go." Said the Pilot checking his calculations one more time.

Jayne gave him a slightly suspicious look but did not call him on it. He was itching to get back, find the Captain and move on. As the Captain used to say it was always harder to hit a moving target. Just then Zoe and Book joined them. Wash smiled at his wife and flicked a curious glance the Shepherd's way, the assault rifle cradled in his arms looked like it was made to fit there. He was not sure whether he was comforted or alarmed to have an armed Preacher with them. He turned his head wondering where River was. Simon would go and look for her in a moment. Kaylee he knew was trimming the engine and checking that everything was working to optimum efficiency. Inara had joined them for the discussion on what to do then returned to her shuttle to check the cortex one last time. Jayne hated the delay but the others would not budge until everything they could possibly cover had been done. This time they wanted no surprises. Inara rejoined them but there was nothing new to report. Everything was quiet on the news feeds. The Shepherd nodded and looked at Wash. Wash hugged Zoe.

"Okay, let's do it. The second shuttle is prepped. I'll follow you down Zoe but not land. The shuttle will give you manoeuvrability and draw less attention. I can keep Serenity in this low cloud base here and await your instructions. Just don't go taking any chances down there, *bao bei*. From what I hear of Constance she makes Patience almost human."

"You too, Wash."

Then Zoe, Jayne and Book got in the second shuttle. Wash watched their quick preflight sequence as he descended into the cloud base for cover. Simon put a hand on Wash's shoulder. "I'd better go and find River."

Wash nodded, all his attention on the other shuttle. His prayers with Zoe.

It took Simon longer than he would have liked to track her down. River had seemed so calm lately. He should have known that would be a problem after leaving the Captain in less than auspicious circumstances down on Eros. At times he still did not know what the connection was between those two. Or maybe River simply saw the Captain as a figure of trust. Like a titular head. Family or authority figure. He frowned. That was as likely to set River off these days as to calm her so it had to be more than that. He felt a dull ache start behind his eyes. Another headache. Great. Perhaps he was trying too hard to make the pieces fit? This puzzle was not exactly intact. Who knew if or where the Captain or any of the rest of them fit in? River could be her own puzzle and if that was true it could be even harder for him to find and fit all the pieces back together again. For now he had a simpler mission. Find River. He turned and stumbled backwards as something bundled into him along the catwalk. Before he had a chance to cry out the bundle resolved itself into arms and legs tangling their way around him, then a small dark head popped up and rested on his shoulder. River looked at his taut face. Her pale face solemn. As if she was the one looking after him.

"You have a headache."

He gently began to untangle her. "Yes, River." He paused to look more closely at her. "I've been looking for you, why were you hiding?"

"We're all hiding."

"Yes, but..."

"You're hiding in plain sight and that isn't smart, Simon."

He froze slightly. "What do you mean?"

"The ghost walks and no one sees."

"We're going to get the Captain back..."

River shook her head. "Wrong ghost."

Something chilled him. He found himself looking around uneasily as if expecting phantoms to appear out of the walls of the ship.

* * * * *

He was tired, battered and bloody but remarkably enough still in one piece. His injuries were more superficial than life threatening. Whatever Constance said she did not want to kill him. At least. Not with bullets. Once Constance had taken what she wanted the threats and intimidation had ceased. Redundant. Right now the room he was being held in had stopped spinning so Mal figured it was safe to try to sit up. He kept his eyes closed a second or two longer. When he opened them he found himself in a wooden building sitting on the floor of a small dusty room. It looked like it was used for storage. He was not tied up but his wrists were raw and bloody where he had been tied to the horse and he ached all over. The dried blood was matted in one eye but at least he could see properly out of the other one. The collection of bruises would at least make amusing conversation pieces. Provided no one tried to pry beyond that. Mal turned his head and spat on the floor to clear the blood and grit from his mouth. He needed to think.

The fact that he was not tied or gagged meant they must be somewhere remote enough that no one would take any notice if he tried to raise the alarm. He glanced around the small room. Got to his feet and moved along the walls, kicking debris out of the way as he sifted through the oddments for anything useful. He wondered where Ruby was. Realised he did not even know whether she was dead or alive. There was no time to think of that now. He needed to focus his attention on getting out of here. Constance had not killed him so maybe he could talk her into letting him go. He had kept his end of the deal though he still had to somehow get Constance to go to Whitefall or contact her mother. He walked around the circumference of the room a second then a third time. There was only one door and no windows. It was a thick heavy door and obviously locked. He could not be sure but he thought someone was standing the other side of it.

He thought of yelling and demanding Constance speak to him but discounted that immediately as the mother of all bad ideas. Drawing attention to himself where that *pofu* was concerned was not the act of a man who wanted to live a long and happy life. Yet he could not stay here either. Mal sat down on an upturned crate and ignored the pain, forcing himself to take a slow and critical review of everything that had happened. He carefully leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He felt dizzy. Bright geometric patterns were dancing before his eyes making him feel sick. Slowly he recovered some of his equilibrium and painstakingly began to reconstruct exactly what had happened. Somewhere in the detail he would find the answers.

* * * * *

Zoe piloted the second shuttle out of the dense bank of cloud, a strange feeling settling deep in her gut as she left Wash with Serenity. It was weird how many kinds of wrong this felt and yet what else could they do? If it had been any of them the Captain would not have hesitated to come back for them. She could feel the Shepherd boring a hole in the back of her neck. Zoe spoke without turning her head. "You got somethin' to say Preacher spit it out."

"I was wondering why you're so ill at ease."

That made her half turn her head, enough so she could fix a level gaze at him but not enough that she could read what he was thinking. "I can't explain it, I just feel uneasy."

Jayne scowled. "Why?" She shrugged then checked the readouts using the distraction to steady her rattlers. "Never said I could explain it."

"You think going back for the Captain is a mistake." Said Book flatly.

The starkness of his comment surprised her. She trapped a sigh. "Captain knows what he's doing, Shepherd."

"Perhaps," Said Book mildly. "And perhaps Constance does too." For a long moment no one spoke. "What you tryin' to say there Preacher?"

"Just that I never had much faith in coincidences."

Zoe's eyes narrowed. She eased up on her descent. Figured if this conversation got much more interesting it might be prudent to have it above ground. "You think this is a trap, don't you?"

Jayne's eyes widened slightly in alarm but for once he kept quiet. He wanted to hear how the Preacher responded.

"That is one possibility."

"And the other?"

A pause. "Why would the Captain agree to this job, Zoe?"

"We need the job you know that. No job, no pay. No pay, no fuel, Serenity is grounded and we are in deep *gos se*. Ask me the Captain didn't have much choice *but* to take the job. Why? You thinkin' there was some other reason?"

"No need to get defensive, it wasn't a criticism. Just thinking out loud."

"Then don't stop now."

"I have the distinct feeling that the Captain already knew about Patience and Constance. That this deal has been on the table for some time."

Zoe was astounded. "You read crystal balls too?" Even for a man of the Preacher's dubious skills that was some leap of logic. "You base that on what?"

A pause. Book's voice was quieter this time as if voicing a reluctant realisation. "Patience never asked the Captain to take this job, Zoe. He asked *her*." Another pause. "If the Captain didn't know the job would be on the table why did he ask Patience? How did he know about it beforehand?"

She stared at him. Inwardly cursing herself for not picking up on that little anomaly earlier. But what in the nine hells did it mean?

* * * * * He had learnt from his mistake last time. The dense cloud cover was a boon. He approved the crew of Serenity using it in this fashion not that it would do them any good. They could never hide from him any way. He watched the shuttle leave the ship and mused over how he wanted to do this. The listening device was worth its' weight in gold yet he was puzzled. It sounded as if the Captain was not on the ship. That was unexpected. He wanted the opportunity to thank the Captain personally for correcting an error. An oversight really. That was what happened when you got over confident and he was professional enough about his occupation to be grateful for the chance to put it right. A valuable lesson had been learnt. Yes, sir, Captain. A valuable lesson. He hooked his calf around the metal rung built into Serenity's exterior. Pushing back the cuff of his pressure suit he looked at the device on his wrist. He adjusted the control and remote accessed his data stream, silently watching the words and figures scroll across the small inbuilt screen.

Now. Faced with hours of inevitable waiting he had two choices. Wait inside or outside.

* * * * *

It was a textbook landing but no one was waiting for the applause. No one was waiting period. Since the Shepherd's observations Zoe had been feeling more and more tense. She did not like this but having set a course of action in motion it seemed the only thing to do was follow it through. Her gut twisted with growing apprehension as she wondered what they would find waiting for them. The actuality was not as bad as she had been expecting. They found Mal's original landing site but no sign of the Captain. Zoe cursed inwardly and squinted, turning slowly and looking off into the far distance for any tell tale smudges on the horizon that would denote dust clouds. Nothing. It was so still, hot and dry that Zoe fancied she could feel the heat peeling off the layers of her skin one by one.

Jayne pointed and she followed his indication. Noticed something was lying discarded in the sand ten or twelve feet away. Her eye picked out a splash of dark blue amid the dun and brown. She trudged towards it, the other two following. As they drew closer Zoe realised what it was and dropped to her knees. It was the Captain's dog. The Shepherd frowned and watched warily while Zoe checked to see if she was still alive. The dog stirred beneath her hand. That answered that question. Zoe got her water bottle and splashed a little water on the dog's face, carefully avoiding the angular dent in the side of her head.

"So much for the bullet proof vest." Sneered the mercenary drily.

Zoe watched the dog stirring. A slow sluggish return to consciousness. She did not attempt to touch the animal or pet it. She had no idea what breed it was but it had a heavy angular face, broad forehead, short powerful legs and a heavy compact frame. She was a dun and brindle colour indicating she was most likely a derivation of bull terrier. That was about the limit of Zoe's expertise on the subject. While Jayne had been correct about the bullet proof vest Zoe did not say that had she not been wearing one they would most certainly have shot her dead. Perhaps they thought the blow from the rifle butt would do the job for them. Looking at the animal it would not have taken more than another day in this heat to finish her off. Zoe got an absurd amount of satisfaction from knowing the dog was alive. When they found the Captain he was likely to be in need of some cheering up. Just so long as that spiteful little bitch had not killed him.

Jayne was frustrated. "Where the gorram did they go?"

"Constance must have a place out here." Said Zoe practically.

The mercenary was scowling. "You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?"

She resisted the great temptation to sigh. "What's that?"

"Maybe the place is underground."

Her eyebrows shot up. Actually it was not a bad idea except for a couple of things. Namely Constance was lazy and had a fear of closed in spaces. Still. Every now and then Jayne would say or do something that reminded her that the big man actually did have a working brain. That it was on a go-slow most of the time was neither here nor there. She turned to see what the Shepherd was doing and was surprised to see he had walked twenty odd feet away from them, his eyes carefully scanning the far horizon. Zoe got to her feet and went to join him. "See something?"

He shook his head, still looking at the horizon. "No, and there should have been something."

"Oh? Why's that?"

He looked at her. "This planet, Eros, is where Constance decided to go disappear on Patience. This is her 'place of power'. That being the case wouldn't you expect there to be look-outs? Eyes watching any and all comings and goings? After all, we are in her back yard. Pretty much shoots her security to *gos se* if no one notices."

"They noticed." Murmured Jayne darkly.

Book looked at him. "You see something?"

He shook his head.

Book's frown deepened. "Then how d'you know?"

He gave a little shrug as if the answer was obvious. "Itch between my shoulder blades."

Zoe resisted the urge to shudder. Just then the dog woke up. Jayne shot her an anxious look but made no attempt to walk back towards her. He had no intention of getting bitten for anybody and that included the Captain. Shepherd Book walked passed them both and approached the dog. Ruby had managed to sit but looked groggy. The Shepherd looked back over his shoulder at Zoe. "Do you have your canteen handy?"

Without a word Zoe took her canteen and closed the distance between them. She handed it to him in silence then watched as the Preacher poured some water in his hand and offered it to the dog. Ruby stared at him but made no move to drink. The water rapidly dribbled out of his hands. "She probably wouldn't take water from you anyway, Shepherd. No need to feel bad about it."

"I don't feel bad. I was just trying to help."

Zoe looked at the dog thoughtfully. Noticed she was getting distressed. While she had no love of the animal she did not want Ruby to suffer either. It was quickly apparent that despite her head injury the dog was missing the Captain. She had an idea. "Ruby?"

For a moment the dog did not react.

"Ruby? Where's the Captain? Can you find him?"

The dazed look began to clear. Ruby stared at Zoe.

"Ruby, we need you to find the Captain *dong ma*?"

* * * * *

Wash did not like waiting but there was no help for it. He figetted and checked that nothing was being picked up on their sensors for the twelfth time. A noise behind him made him jump. He felt pretty sheepish when he saw it was only Inara. She gave him a smile and that was when he noticed she was carrying two mugs of tea. He smiled back. "Is that for me?"

She nodded and smiled back. "I thought you could use a drink."

"*Xiexie*." He took the mug and nodded for her to take a seat. "This is the part I hate most of all. The waiting."

Inara nodded, she felt the same. "Can't we pick up anything at all from this altitude? A settlement perhaps?"

He shook his head. "I've tried, it's hopeless. Dust storms are due to hit within the hour as well. I just hope Zoe and the others find something before that happens."

"Why?"

"Once the dust storm arrives we can kiss goodbye any hope we might have of picking up a track."

Inara looked worried. "You don't expect to find Mal, do you?"

"I didn't say that."

She watched him take a long slow sip of his tea. "You didn't say they would find him either."

He gave a little shrug. No arguing with the woman when she was right. Inara sipped her tea in silence for a few minutes.

"What do you think happened?" She asked at last.

"I think Constance is too much like Patience." He paused to let that sink in. "I think she's either already double crossed him or is intending to."

"Why? Mal's just doing a job."

"Yeah, for Patience. But what if Constance doesn't like it? What if she doesn't want to be found? What happens if the big bad daughter decides to take it out on the Captain?"

Inara took in a sharp breath. "You don't know that's what happened Wash."

"No, and neither do you. That's my point. We don't know. I admit I've never met Constance - and given what you found out about her I don't want to - but I don't like this."

They sat in glum silence for a moment. Inara finished her tea but continued to cradle the mug in her hand like a forgotten prop. "What else can we do? This is where we left him."

Wash nodded just as unhappy. "I know."

Inara lifted her head and looked at the image of Eros on Wash's instrument panel. "Why would anyone want to live on a miserable rathole like this? There's nothing here."

"Maybe that's the reason."

She stared at him as if he was crazy. Wash shrugged.

"I never said it made sense. Constance wanted to get lost, she got lost."

"If she *really* wanted to get lost then don't you think she'd stay lost?"

Wash thought about that then about Eros. "Like you said there's nothing here. Maybe she got tired of all the nothing?"

Inara got up and took Wash's mug then paused. "Have you seen Kaylee?"

"Not for a couple of hours, why?"

"I haven't seen her either."

Wash grinned. "If I know Kaylee she's up to her eyes in grease and engine parts having the time of her life."

The Companion smiled at the fond thought. "You're probably right. I think I'll make some more tea and take a cup down to her. Let me know if you hear anything?"

"The very second."

She nodded her thanks. Wash watched her go then turned back to his instrument panel and began to check the readings again. Even the doc and River had gone quiet. Was it just him or was this place beginning to feel like a graveyard? He flicked a few switches then spoke to Zoe. Relief hitting him like a ton of bricks the minute she responded to his hail.

"What's wrong, Wash?"

"Nothing, *xin gan* just wanted to warn you there's a dust storm on the way."

"How long?"

"Twenty - thirty minutes. Find anything?"

"We've found Ruby but so far no sign of the Captain."

"I think you should come back until the storm blows over."

"No. We'll wait out the storm then try again."

* * * * *

Kaylee stared. Eyes going as round as saucers. As if the inability to speak made her want to take in more information through her eyes. Fear mulitiplied into little pearls of sweat on her forehead. She was terrified. Her eyes watching the thin razor sharp arc of the knife as it swung closer and closer. Her ears quailed at his words.

"You people are far too trusting to be out here all alone. Does that seem right to you?"

Tears pricked her eyes but she was determined not to cry. She needed her vision to be clear. Not blurred by tears. Maybe she wasn't brave like the Captain or strong like Jayne, and she sure wasn't smart like Simon or River. But she could be as brave as it was possible for her to be and trust and hope and pray that someone would realise something was wrong. That Wash would detect the other ship. The extra heat signature. That someone. Anyone. Would find and kill this *wangba dan* before he finished what they had stopped him doing last time.

"Oh that isn't going to happen, Kaylee." Said Jubal Early in a mild conversational tone. The arc of the knife blade only inches from her eyes. "You know why?"

The duct tape over her mouth prevented her from answering even had she wanted to. She lay with wrists taped together against the cold metal grill, her legs taped at the knees and ankles and her captor lounging comfortably next to her.

"No one's coming because no one's here. You can't count that pilot. Wash. And if you think the Companion will stir herself in time you are sadly mistaken. By the time it occurs to them to wonder what's going on it will be too late. In fact it's already too late. Did I tell you that?"

She just stared at him.

"Well it is. I already have the doctor."

He watched realisation dawn on Kaylee's face. Her fascination with the knife now turned to one of sickening horror. She might not know all the fancy names but she recognised a scapel when she saw one. The tears she had been fighting to hold back began to leak out of the corner of her eyes as she spotted the thin crimson line tinting the edge of the swinging blade.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = treasure/baby/darling *pofu* = bitch *gos se* = crap *dong ma* = understand *xiexie* = thanks *xin gan* = sweetheart *wangba dan* = bastard (lit. turtle egg)

COMMENTS

Thursday, August 28, 2003 6:42 AM

AMDOBELL


This part is for you Ty. Tried to respond to your emails but the showprofile won't let me. As for completing other people's fics that is not an option. Too darn busy with my own stuff. Take care and Keep Flying, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, October 14, 2011 6:37 PM

SHINYZOEKAYLEE


OMG IT'S EARLY!!!!! :O!!!!!


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