GENIUS SERIES: 5. "Not Asking"
Monday, January 9, 2006

"Simon and River lay low. Serenity's crew find themselves having to make a run for it while the Captain has to accept something he hates."



SUMMARY: "Simon and River lay low. Serenity's crew find themselves having to make a run for it while the Captain has to accept something he hates." 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

* * * * *

It was the flowers that captivated her most. Their vibrant dancing colours making her feet tap eager to dance. Simon glanced at his sister and smiled, his look indulgent. River's mind was a jumble but the slow slide into madness had brakes on it now, the journey still moving through uncharted territory but no longer a head-long crash into insanity. Always supposing that the real world was sane.

"I knew you'd like it here, *mei mei*."

"The flowers." Her smile broadened. She spun herself round like cotton candy, her thin dress a whirl blending the colours of the fabric with the landscape. "They paint me 'til I'm dizzy, Simon."

An old women stepped out onto a sun drenched porch. Her weathered face turned towards them, her old rheumy eyes missing little. Where sight faltered instinct filled in the gaps. She knew they were in trouble. Hiding. But no clue in the 'verse to say from what and neither Simon nor River were talking. What they did say seemed like harmless gibberish. The woman thought River was touched, even felt a brush of sorrow for her. Sad that one so young could be so ruined. The work in progress spoilt before the greater work could begin. How fortunate that they had come here to Ruth Carlisle's homestead. Whatever their trouble, border planets like Beverley always needed a good doctor.

* * * * *

Wash could feel his heart hammering in his chest, the net sparking and shimmering as it began to close in. "Kaylee! Need that fast burn now, *mashang*!"

The mechanic's wail was one part frustration, nine parts panic. "Just a minute, Wash. Gotta lean her into it, can't afford to rush."

Zoe cut to the chase, her hard edged words cracking like a whip through the dead air. "Ain't got time for easin' Kaylee, we don't run now an' we're caught. Serenity'll be dead in the Black an' us along with it."

They could hear the girl's voice trembling. "O-kay, don't blame me if'n she splutters and breaks in places I can't mend."

"Don't need her in one piece Kaylee, just get us gone from here."

Kaylee did as asked and just as the maw of the beast made to move in for the kill the ship put on a burst of speed, the core lighting up then flashing before disappearing at a fast rate of knots, the pursuing vessel too slow to catch her tail let alone kill the Firefly's power in that deadly arc. Shepherd Book nodded to Kaylee, more than a mite appreciative of the little mechanic's skills. "That was mighty close Kaylee but thanks to you we live to fight again."

The girl didn't look as happy as he thought she should. Her eyes showed her worry, her hand wiping the sweat out of her eyes before she patted the metal skin of the ship. "Don't know how far we can run, Shepherd, too many parts need coaxing or they'll break. Reckon this burst of speed'll cost us later."

The Shepherd gave her a small smile of reassurance before stepping out of the engine room. "Just as long as there is a later."

After a minute he was stepping on to the bridge. Zoe stood with a hand on her *zhangfu's* shoulder, a hard look settling in her eyes after the brief pleasure of escaping the trap. She turned her head as the Shepherd joined them. "That was close."

"Too close." Book agreed. "Any word from the Captain?"

She shook her head. Wash looked worried. "After that last transmission his radio went dead."

Zoe's lips pressed tight together. All manner of unhappy and beyond pissed. "Don't like it, knew this was a bad notion."

Book shook his head. "*Wo bu dong*, it was just a simple pick up and drop and the Captain can't exactly turn down work. As it is we're almost running on fumes now."

"Except this pick up wasn't about work. They got the drop on us, caught the Cap'n, nearly got the ship."

"Yes, but why?"

Zoe and Wash exchanged a look. Just then Jayne lumbered into the doorway, filling it. Wash looked unhappy. "Didn't get all the conversation but before we lost contact heard mention of Simon an' River."

Shepherd Book closed his eyes. *Wode ma*. Were the siblings fated to ever be a yoke around the neck of this ship and crew? Even when they weren't on it? He opened his eyes to find the other three staring at him. "Then it was the Alliance?"

Zoe shook her head. "Tell him husband."


Jayne looked confused. "What the good gorram could be worse?"

"We know who's got him."


"Gabriel Tam."

The Shepherd's eyebrows rose. "Why would their father be holding the Captain?"

"Bargainin' power is my guess, Shepherd."

He stared at Zoe. "It doesn't make sense."

"Not unless Simon an' River are runnin' from their father." Put in Wash.

"But Simon broke River out of that Alliance academy. What does that have to do with their father? As I recall he washed his hands of them."

Zoe's look was hard and unforgiving. "Don't rightly know but I aim to find out."

The Shepherd's look narrowed. "What are you going to do?"

The first mate straightened, as determined as Book had ever seen her. "Go straight to the source."

Jayne looked like he was in pain. "We goin' to the Alliance?"

"No, Jayne. We're goin' to pay a little visit to the Tams."

"*Bao bei*, are we sure we want to go into the Lion's Den, if that's what it is?"

"Not a question of want Wash. If they've got the Cap'n we gotta get him back. Wanna get some answers while we're at it."

"What if they're expecting us to do just that?" Said Book.

Zoe had taken her gun out of its' holster and calmly checked the chambers, making sure there was a bullet in each one. Calmly she reholstered her weapon and looked him in the eye. "We make sure we're ready just like the Gurkhas."

The mercenary frowned. "The who?"

"Gurkhas." Zoe explained, her tone flat and deadly even though she never raised her voice. "They were elite soldiers in the Wars on Earth-That-Was. Had a goodly reputation too."

"What was that?"

"Take no prisoners."

The Shepherd actually blanched. "This is Simon and River's parents we're talking about."

"I'm all aware of that Shepherd. Just pray they ain't harmed the Cap'n."

* * * * *

"*You yige wenti* you seem to be uncomprehendin'."

Gabriel Tam just stared at the Captain. Malcolm Reynolds sat bound to the chair. They were no longer in the hangar. *Diyu*, they weren't even on the gorram planet. Once the trap had been sprung the Captain had been knocked out. His head still rung a mite painfully from where he had been cold cocked across the back of the head when he demanded to know what in the nine hells was going on. He had woken to find himself on board some kind of vessel, the thrum of a ship's engines too distinct to miss beneath his feet. Gabriel watched him for a minute or two before speaking. "The only problem Captain is finding my children."

"I ain't got 'em, how plain spoken I gotta be?"

The man was pacing now. Agitated if the Captain was any judge. Mal did not like how unhinged the man seemed to be growing. "I've been searching for three years, Captain. A little thing like your stubborn recalcitrance will not stop me retrieving what is mine."

"Yours? Simon an' River don't belong to nobody. They ain't property, they're people, an' they got a right to go where they want an' not be molested."

Mr Tam stopped dead in his tracks and stared at Mal. "What are you sayin'?"

"Just that it ain't no sin if they wanna live their lives their way."

"Are you accusin' me of molesting my own children?" The notion had not been one the Captain had been inferring but come to think on it the idea once in his brainpan began to stick. "Not what I was sayin' but are you?"

The blow was as swift as it was unexpected. For a seemingly cultured man, the veneer of civilisation was stretched awful thin on Gabriel Tam at this point in time. The Captain's head snapped back, a trickle of blood running down his chin from a split lip. Mal's eyes blazed, not even a mite cowed by the man's loss of control. If anything it gave him a chink in the man's armour. Something to work away at while he tried to think of a way out of this mess.

"Seem to have hit a nerve."

"The only nerve you'll hit is the one I sever if you don't tell me what I want to know."

"For a smart man you ain't very bright. Can't tell you what I don't know."

Gabriel straigthened and nodded to himself. Two of his home grown thugs slouched at the far end of the room but immediately became more alert when Gabriel turned to face them. "Get the doctor."

The Captain frowned. Didn't like the sound of that. Couldn't be talking about Simon 'cause the *tamade hundan* was trying to locate the boy. A minute or so later a small wiry man with a bald pate came into the room. He seemed the nervous jumpy type. Mal didn't like the look of the little bag he was toting.

"*Wei! Na shi shenme*?"

The little man opened the bag and took out a phial and a syringe. Gabriel Tam enjoyed the way the Captain's eyes widened. Man was all manner of serious now. "*Yige jiejing*, Captain. I assure you, by the time I've finished with you, you will tell me everything."

Mr Tam nodded and one of his men walked up to the chair where the Captain was bound and untied his right hand bringing the arm forward and turning it so the doctor could find a vien. Mal tried to struggle but he had no leverage and the rest of him was trussed up like a joint of gorram meat. He huffed and tried to bat down the rising panic, not wanting to show any weakness. "What is it with you people an' drugs?" He got no reply but Gabriel did shoot him an odd look. Then Mal's arm was pulled behind his back and tightly resecured. He felt a mite light headed but that could be the panic taking over or mayhap the drug was a kind'a poison, fast acting and already racing to his gorram heart. No. He shook that unsettling thought away. Gabriel Tam would not risk killing him until he had what he wanted. The thought should have reassured him. Funny how looking into the madman's eyes it had the exact opposite effect.

* * * * *

The sudden lurch caused Inara to spill her tea. Sensing the wrongness of it she put the ornate Chinese teapot down carefully and went to see what was wrong. As she exited her shuttle she almost bumped into Kaylee. The girl was pretty much distraught and smeared in grease and sweat. The mechanic's eyes wide with worry and concern. Inara put a hand on her arm to calm her. "*Shenme shi*, Kaylee?"

"Ain't my fault, the grav boot's busted and now the g-line's broke an' I ain't got another to fix it."

"It's okay, Kaylee, no one's blaming you. We'll just find somewhere to land and get the parts..."

Kaylee shook her head. "*Bu qu, ni bu dong*! Ain't got time, they got the Cap'n an' Zoe wants to go an' get him on'y Serenity ain't goin' nowhere."

The Companion felt her heart turn over. "The Captain? What are you talkin' about, *mei mei*?"

"While the Cap'n was meetin' the contact for the job he got took. Seems Simon an' River's dad grabbed him. Wants to find 'em."

"What does that have to do with the Captain? They aren't here any more."

"I know that an' you know that, 'Nara, but their pa don't."

Any further conversation was interrupted by the shudder of Zoe and Book hurrying along the catwalk to see what in the nine hells was wrong and why all of a sudden Serenity was adrift in the Black. Zoe barely spared a nod for Inara. Right now Kaylee was the most important person on the ship. "Kaylee, what happened?"

The girl's face twisted with worry, panic and distress. "Grav boot's broke, g-line split away an' we're leakin' the last of the fuel into the atmo." Bad as it was Zoe could see that Kaylee was on the brink of total panic. "Can you fix it?"

"Sure, but it'll take time without new parts an' such."

"Don't have new parts, Kaylee. We make an' mend, *dong ma*? Cap'n's life might depend on it."

The mechanic swallowed hard and tried not to cry. Had to be strong, brave. Everybody was counting on her. "Even when I fix it we got trouble. Ain't got much fuel left, losin' more every minute."

"You fix what can be fixed, let me worry about the fuel."

Shepherd Book gave Zoe a quizzical look. "I'm fair sure we won't be able to land to refuel."

"Not what I'm thinkin'." Zoe turned to Inara. "How much fuel you got in your shuttle, Inara?"

The Companion did a quick calculation and told her. Zoe nodded and looked around for Jayne. "Where is that man?"

"Anything I can do to help?" Said Book.

Zoe nodded. "*Qu*, need you to rig up a way of transferring the fuel from Inara's shuttle to Serenity."

The Preacher nodded. Zoe gave Inara an apologetic look. "*Duibuqi*, Inara, I know you had clients lined up."

"*Fang xin*, none I can't cancel." Inara paused, reluctant to ask but needing to know. "How bad is it?"

"The Cap'n or the ship?"


"It's bad but nothin' we can't handle."

Inara nodded because she didn't know what else to say. Jayne came up beside Zoe, a concerned look on his face. "Ain't goin' after no Alliance."

"We're goin' wherever we have to until we find the Cap'n."

"Don't wanna end up in no *jianyu*."

"Ain't askin'."

Jayne tightened his grip on Vera. "Just so's I know."

* * * * *

On Beverley, Simon Tam was calmly stitching up an old man's knee where he had fallen and cut it open. Most of the folks had no money to speak off so they paid for his services with a roof over his head and as much food as he and River could eat. Right now his sister was sleeping, her lips moving soundlessly, but at least she was quiet. As Simon tied off the last stitch another image overlaid the neat row beneath his hand.

Nodding in response to the old man's thanks, Simon put his meagre supplies away. Turning his body so no one would see how his hands had begun to shake.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*mei mei* = little sister *mashang* = at once/immediately/quickly/right away *zhangfu* = husband *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *diyu* = hell *wode ma* = mother of God *bao bei* = precious/treasure *qu* = yes (lit. go) *you yige wenti* = there is a problem *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *wei* = hey! *ni shi shenme* = what's that? *yige jiejing* = a short cut *shenmi shi* = what's the matter? *bu qu* = no (lit no go) *duibuqi* = sorry *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *jianyu* = prison *wo bu dong* = I don't understand


Monday, January 9, 2006 6:46 PM


Great job. keep it up. I cant wait to read what happens next.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 2:12 AM


"Take no prisoners." Love the attitude.
Great story, I am so enjoying this.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 7:54 PM


I am Hooked on this. You have captured my intrigue and heart with this. It's like reading the show's script. I am always impressed with your stuff. Keep up the good work.

-Roy Fokker-

Thursday, January 12, 2006 7:54 AM


I commented anonymously on this twice now (before joining and I just want to say that these are super fan fiction and what drew me to post mine! Thanks for the comments, they are really appreciated.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 7:58 AM


Thankyou for the kindly words, and yes this is a superb fanfic site. So many wonderfully gifted writers, each with their own unique voices. And don't you love how active everyone is? I have been with some groups where weeks and sometimes months would pass before anyone wrote and posted a story! Thankfully that has never happened here and that is what keep us all flyin'. Hope to be reading a lot more of your stories in the future too. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, November 4, 2011 7:59 AM


"I'm all aware of that Shepherd. Just pray they ain't harmed the Cap'n."
Have I mentioned I freaking love Zoe? And that you write her PERFECTLY? XD GREAT JOB!!


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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.