The Temptress and the Hunter-Part 9: The Truth
Monday, January 8, 2007

In which the real story behind Dorm’s mission is revealed with almost fatal consequences. The last part and the twist-And in closing, gentle reader I'd like to thank you. No, its not a misprint. For you see I enjoyed writing this Fanfic as much as you enjoyed reading it. Thanks to all those who commented and made me feel like it was worth keeping going.


Saffron sipped her wine as she watched the servants pack her clothes. Today she had gotten the news she had been hoping forever since she had conceived this plan. And now it was time for her to be gone. She would take that idiot Hoyle with her. The man might be contrary, foolish and with an ego the size of a house but he knew how to handle himself and most importantly he was smitten with her. The other servants would keep quiet about her real identity, she had given them enough of their former master’s money to ensure that. In any case most of them did not know who she really was, just that she was not who she had continually claimed to be. It would not be long now, she thought with satisfaction, Hoyle was out prepping the hovercraft, then they would be on their way to the spaceport in Blackrock to the south. By tomorrow she would be offworld with a large lead on the authorities.

It no longer bothered her that she could barely remember her real name or who she had been as a child. This was her life now, one step ahead of the bumbling idiotic government, always a new man. A new mark set up for a fall. It added a certain spice to her life one that she knew that her teachers back on Sihnon would not approve of. But their disapproval was the reason she had left in the first place, the reason she had turned to this life. Every so often she felt a pang of regret for certain events but it was mostly passing and in truth she never really looked back. This was her life now and it was all she could want. Adventure, excitement, loot and the chance to practice and hone her skills whenever she chose.

She had a wave from that Agent Dattre that morning, one that had made her smile inside. Outside she had been crying in relief at the news and letting Dattre feel sympathy for her plight. Men were so easily lead. They had captured the girl just as she had wanted and now she had to leave, before they began their interrogation and discovered the truth. Saffron had no doubt it would happen but it could take days or even weeks before the idiot agents realised their mistake. By then she would be far away and undetectable. She would have to lay low for a while, perhaps two or three months before she went back out into the ‘verse.

She walked into the dining room where the servants were stripping place of silverware. It had been her gift to them in exchange for their silence about her; they could have whatever they wanted from the mansion as long as they told the authorities that ‘the mistress had gone offworld, to be alone in her grief.’ A few of them looked in her direction, almost guilty to be seen scavenging away her rightful possessions but she paid them no mind. None of them would blab she was certain of that; the old master had been a cold, heartless bastard before his death (which made him simply cold, she thought wryly) who had treated his servants little better than trained animals. It had been quite a challenge to melt his cold heart. She smiled; it was one of her greater triumphs, to steal away such a cold man when he had already found the woman of his dreams. And the bitch had given her quite a fight before she fled, taking some of Saffron’s money with her. It’s funny how things turn out, Saffron had planned to plant some of her erstwhile lover’s possessions on the girl but she didn’t have to. No, the girl’s own criminal nature got the better of her and she took the money he husband thought was his and fled, in search of her bandit friend. Saffron had been monitoring the girl’s waves and she had been in contact with an old college lover of hers, together they planned to rob her husband. The most convenient part was when little Marietta had her old boyfriend kill Howard and disappear into the jungle, leaving Saffron the easy task of picking up the girl’s life where it went astray and become Mrs. Marietta Tuck. Saffron was sure that Marietta was not the girl’s real name. She had been planning to abandon Howard from the beginning, as soon as she had squeezed enough money out of him. And then Saffron appeared like a bolt from the blue and took over her job. Howard really did have a habit of picking the wrong women.

Hoyle burst into the room at a run, his normally pinched features open and frightened. “Milady!” Saffron smiled, she did love it when they called her that.

“Yes, Hoyle? What is it? Shouldn’t you be prepping the hovercraft for our long journey together.” She let the barest hint of sultriness slip into the word ‘together’. Let him make of that what he wanted to.

“Yes, ma’am.” He bowed briefly, barely more than a dip of the head. Then again, very few of Hoyle’s bows were more than a dip of the head; the man’s pride would not allow it. “I’ve already done that ma’am. It’s just that you have a visitor. That Agent Harkaway, the one who went after Marietta, he’s here ma’am.”

Saffron cursed, a very unladylike sound. “Where is he?” She snapped, “Is he past the gates yet?”

Hoyle nodded, “They were left open, ready for our leave-taking.”

She cursed again and then turned to the rest of the servants. “All of you get out of sight. I must deal with our guest.” They scampered from the room, their arms and bags full of Tuck family silver.


“Yes ma’am?”

“Go and find yourself a gun.”

Dorm Harkaway rode up to the house with a certain amount of trepidation. He was not entirely sure why he was here. Dattre had already delivered the news of Saffron’s capture to Marietta but Dorm almost felt it was his duty to explain to the woman personally. There had been something different about Marietta, something indefinable, something that both intrigued and disturbed him. He smiled, the woman reminded of his Elayne that was all, gone fifteen years now. Marietta only reminded him of Elayne as she was, not Elayne as she would be now. His fiancée would be forever preserved in his memory perfect and golden, untouched by time. He shook his head wryly as he dismounted and tied his horse to a hitching post at the side of the mansion. He hoped that wasn’t why he was really here, to make a fool of himself over a girl half his age just because she reminded him of his long lost Elayne.

Frowning he looked around, his thoughts interrupted by his innate sense that something was not right. There were no servants here, no-one ready and waiting to take his horse like there should have been. In fact there was no one in sight at all. Something was definitely wrong. He drew his six-shooter and crept up to the side of the house. The thought of Degens entered his mind briefly but he dismissed it. If it were Degens then there would be considerably more evidence for it. The gardens looked intact, there was no blood, no body parts, no stampede of boot prints. No it was something completely different. He came to the front door and pushed it open, the heavy oak swinging wide at his touch. The house was deserted inside, deserted and silent. The hangings were gone from the walls, the furnishing disappeared from the hall. He walked softly through the house, coming at last to the dining room.

At the end of the table sat Marietta, a glass in one hand, a book in the other. She looked up in surprise as he entered.

“Agent Harkaway?” she closed her book with a snap, “What are you doing here?” her voice was soft and musical. Then she jumped suddenly as she noticed the gun in his hand, “Is something the matter?” she trembled slightly, her shoulders shaking through her thin dress.

Dorm smiled placating and holstered his weapon, “Sorry, I was just on edge. The house seems to be rather empty.”

“Yes, I’m moving away. I can’t stay in this house any longer. Everything here reminds me of Howard. I’ve sold what I can’t bring with me and I’m off to Bellephron.” She smiled sadly, “but you did not answer my first question, Agent Harkaway.”

He grinned, thinking of his impending retirement, “Not for much longer, I’m retiring tomorrow. I just came to see how you were taking the news that we had apprehended your husband’s killer.”

She smiled at him, her big eyes wide and dewy. “I wanted to thank you for that Dorm. It was no mean feat to catch Saffron that quickly.”

Something clicked in the back of his mind, that wasn’t right. Something here wasn’t right. His instincts were screaming at him but he didn’t know what about.

“Just doing my job-”he cut of in mid-sentence as he realised what was wrong.

“How do you know that name? Saffron-where did you hear that?’

There was the briefest of pauses, before she answered. “Brett told me of it; Agent Dattre.”

Dorm nodded slowly. Dattre might be a lot of things but incompetent wasn’t one of them. A man like him would never let important confidential information like that slip. Something else was going on here.

He caught a glimpse of something in the mirror on the wall and felt his eyes widen. He had to take this slow, or he was in deep trouble.

“Well that’s a pretty good explanation, Mrs. Tuck. But it still doesn’t explain why your butler is sneaking into the room with a shotgun in his hand.” Without turning around Dorm whipped his six-shooter out of his belt and pointed it at Hoyle. In the mirror he saw the man freeze in shock. He jerked the gun at him, and without taking his eyes off Marietta, said “Drop it.”

He stared at the seated woman, “Care to explain this?”

Her eyes went wide and she glared at Hoyle and stood up, “Hoyle! What are you doing? I assure you Agent Harkaway, I had nothing to do with this.”

Dorm smiled grimly and pulled out his pistol, pointing it at her. “Sit back down. You’re going to have to do better than that.”

She glared at him and sat down, keeping silent.

“Did you cook a plan up between you-you and Saffron? Kill Howard-She gets the money, you get the property.” He couldn’t believe she had been in on this all this time, probably laughing at their efforts behind their backs.

Marietta smiled, a cruel smile, almost a smirk that changed her face dramatically.

“You don’t get it do you? Try again.” Her voice was low and mocking Dorm thought for a moment not taking his eyes off her. Then it hit him, like a bolt of lightning from the sky. He nearly staggered from the force of the realization.

“It was you all along. You. You’re Saffron.”

“Well done, Agent Harkaway,” said Saffron, her voice lathered in sarcasm. “I knew you had more intelligence than the apes I usually deal with.”

Dorm saw Hoyle jolt at that but he took no notice. As long as Hoyle had a gun pointed at him he wouldn’t do anything.

“You sent us your own DNA sample. You picked up where Siph left off when she ran. Hell, you pretty much told us the story! Who else knows your methods better than you, right.” He paused to wet his lips, considering his next move, “Ta ma duh! I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”

“Well, at least you did, that’s the important thing,” mocked the woman in the chair. At the last moment Dorm caught the flick in her eyes as she looked behind him and he dived. The shotgun blast tore through the table one of the pellets catching Dorm in the back as he went to the floor. Saffron was up and running towards the shotgun wielding Hoyle. Dorm twisted, his back on fire, and snapped off a couple of shots as the two disappeared through the main door, Saffron almost dragging Hoyle. One of the bullets tore through the door, missing Hoyle’s head by centimeters.

Cursing, Dorm lurched to his feet, his back torn and bleeding. He’d underestimated the butler, didn’t think him capable of the courage to go for his gun while one stared him in the face. To be fair, Dorm had been distracted, his discovering of Marietta’s true identity had been somewhat of a shock, to say the least. Bleeding he limped to the front door, only to see Saffron and Hoyle speed by in a hovercraft. As they rounded the corner Dorm saw Saffron wave her hand in a jaunty wave.

He shrugged and reached into his pocket, ready to call it in. They wouldn’t get far in such a distinctive vehicle. The he stopped, com-device in hand. Why call it in? He was retiring tomorrow and he needed the big fat bonus for what everyone thought was the capture of Saffron. He would head down to the med-station here, patch himself up and no one would be any the wiser. Plus the Alliance needed some punishment for what they had done out in the jungle. He was setting Saffron loose on the ‘Verse. With this close call she would probably develop quite the hatred for Alliance personnel. Someone high up was likely to be her next target.

Dorm smiled to himself as he limped down to the med-station. Finally someone had completely gotten the better of him and he was letting her walk. It didn’t matter. After twenty years of loyal service to a Government that had never been worthy of his trust, he felt he owed them a few hours of disloyalty. And Saffron was going to give ‘em hell.



Tuesday, January 9, 2007 10:14 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER that's an ending worthy of Joss himself, Stormwind! Definitely crafted with a fine sense of irony and realistic bitterness on Harkaway's part;D

Gotta say though...Mal would probably smack Dorm around a bit if he ever meets him;)



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