Playing Parts - Part XIV
Monday, November 12, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. The crew land on Borodin, and Tesler Bose is introduced. The intrigue begins ... NEW CHAPTER


Act VII – Borodin

Borodin was an enigma. A border planet where more care had been taken with the terraforming than normal, so that it was somewhat more lush than it had a right to be.

Mal squinted out of the bridge window at the sun reflecting off the sea as they followed the curve of the world.

“Looks pretty gorram cold,” Hank said. “This side’s in its spring period right now, but I doubt the temperature gets much above zero at all during the night.”

“Good job the play’s gonna be indoors then.”

“One way of freezing your assets, though.” Hank chuckled at his own joke, even with Mal glaring at him.

“You got the co-ordinates?”

“Just coming up on them.” Down below the sea shimmered. “Still say that looks cold.”

“Then don’t ditch us and you won’t have to be swimming to shore.”


Theo closed the small book and pushed it under his clothes in the case.

“Are you ready?” Etta asked, sliding the door to the room open.

“I suppose so.”

“You don’t have to do this,” she said, sitting next to him and taking hold of his hand.

“Yes, I do. Otherwise we’ll never be free.”

“Theo, we are free.”

He lifted her hand to his lips. “To us. But after tonight, to them as well.”

“I wish you’d told Captain Reynolds.”

Theo sighed. “So do I. I'm pretty sure he’d understand. But it’s too late now for the truth. I didn’t know him before, and if I mentioned it now he’d think the worst.”

“Can it get much worse?”

“It will if we get caught.”

“I wish …” She stopped as the words died in her throat.

“So do I. But it’s nearly done.”


“Remind you of anywhere?” Hank asked, swinging Serenity around as they approached the H-shaped house on the edge of the sea shore, set in an expanse of manicured lawns and gardens.

“There’s no cliff,” Mal said. “And I’m hoping Bose is nothing like Han.”

“Me too,” Hank agreed fervently. “Can’t be two like that in the ‘verse. Wouldn’t be fair.” He adjusted the down thrusters and nodded towards a concreted area set well back from the house. “Landing dock’s over there.”

“Just get us down safely.”

“When don’t I?” Hank grinned. “No sign of the other ship yet.”

“I’m sure Cressida will be along soon.”

Hank watched the screens intently, making minute corrections until Serenity touched solid ground and he cut the engines. Only after he’d locked the yoke did he look up. “Mal, this Tesler Bose …”

“What about him?”

“Are you likely to be shooting him? I’m only asking because, well, I’d kinda like to keep out of the way.”

“I’m gonna to be trying my best not to.”

“Good.” He leaned back. “Only it’s bad form to be killing folk without proof, and you don’t exactly have any that he knew what was going on the camps.”

“Hank, if I were you I’d stop talking about something I know nothing about.” Mal stalked off the bridge.

“Just saying,” the pilot called.

“Well don’t.”


Tesler Bose watched as the Firefly came in to land, and adjusted the cravat at his neck. Trying hard not to allow his irritation to show, he said over his shoulder, “They’re here, dear.”

His wife of six months fluttered to join him. “Oh, my. What an enchanting little ship.”

“It’s a wreck, Clara.”

“I think it’s sweet.”

“You have no understanding of these matters.”

She laughed. “Perhaps not. But I know what I like when I see it.” She turned away to pick up her coat. “Come on. They’ll be expecting us to greet them.”

Bose sighed internally. This was all Clara’s fault. If she hadn’t been so enamoured of seeing the great Hawkins Troupe they wouldn’t be going through this farce right now. She’d gone on for days after getting the wave, and now she was like a little girl with new party shoes.

“Come on!” she insisted from the doorway.

“Yes, dear.”


The ramp lowered and Mal looked out towards the formal gardens around the house. Even if Hank hadn’t mentioned it was spring, he’d have been able to tell from the leaves just misting the trees, and the green shoots pushing up through the dark earth. In fact, even with his eyes closed he’d have known. There was a scent very much like Shadow always had after the rains left and before the summer came, and that unsettled him a little.

“Mr Hawkins?” asked a man striding towards them, a diminutive woman barely keeping up with him. Three men followed who, despite their conservative suits, screamed muscle.

Mal walked down the ramp. “No. I’m Captain Reynolds. This is my ship.” He studied the man in front of him, trying to equate him with his mental image of Bose. Younger, somehow, than he expected, probably in his late forties, but he looked as if he kept himself fit. What he didn’t look was comfortable in the formal clothes he was wearing, the cravat seeming to be too tight, the knee length brocade coat out of place on him. Even his boots, polished to a high gleam, were just a bit too much.

“I'm Tesler Bose,” he said, not extending a hand. “Where is Mr Hawkins?”

“Here, here,” the man himself exclaimed, hurrying down behind Mal. “Mr Bose, how nice to finally meet you in person.”

“Yes.” They shook hands awkwardly, a single downward tug, then Bose turned to the woman at his side. “This is my wife, Clara. I believe you’ve spoken.”

“Waved, only.” Theo swept the woman’s hand to his lips. “An honour, dear lady. And may I say what a beautiful estate you have.”

Clara coloured prettily. “Of course, it’s Tesler’s, really. But I'm slowly making my mark on it.”

Bose rolled his eyes, and Mal had to hide a smile.

“And I'm sure you’re improving it immensely,” Theo said gallantly.

“You are too kind.”

Theo half turned as Etta joined them. “And this is Etta, my own spouse.”

Clara dimpled. “So many happy marriages,” she said blissfully. “Welcome to our home.”

Etta laughed. “Thank you. And it is lovely.”

“I've just finished remodelling the entire west wing. I hope you have time to see it.”

“I’d love to.”

Theo clapped his hands together. “Now, as delightful as it is to spend time talking with such an enchanting pair of young ladies as yourselves, I do need to discuss some business.”

“Of course.” Clara smiled, this time much more knowingly. She was well aware she’d passed the description of young some time back, as had Etta, but it was nice to be flattered occasionally. “What do you need to know?”

“Well, the schedule for today. As you can see, my second ship hasn’t arrived as yet. Do we have time?”

“Plenty of time.” Clara snaked her arms through Theo and Etta’s. “Our friends will be arriving around 6.00 pm,” she explained. “We’ll have drinks, then dinner, and if it’s acceptable to you the play will start at about ten.”

“Of course that’s fine,” Theo said, giving a very slight bow. “Captain, if you could arrange for our possessions to be brought out, I would be grateful.”

Mal nodded, surprised to realise that they wouldn’t be taking off with them again, and feeling a flash of annoyance at himself. “No problem.”

“Just leave it outside,” Bose said airily. “No-one will interfere with it.”

“I don’t see much in the way of security,” Mal noted.

“I own pretty much the whole moon. I have no fears on that account.”

Mal raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment further.

“It was kind of you to let us come,” Etta said, smiling widely, including Bose in her warmth.

“My wife is the theatre lover, not myself.” Bose shrugged. “I have no desire to watch plays.”

“Perhaps you just haven’t had the chance to see the best in action,” Theo put in. “And we are the best.”

“Well, I’m certainly paying you enough.”

Clara Bose tapped her husband on the arm. “Tesler, now you know that isn’t important. Our friends are going to be delighted.”

“Yes, dear.”

“I expect you’ll want to see where you’ll be performing?” Clara went on, turning back to Theo.

He nodded. “That would be useful. I’m sure it will be perfect, but we may need to adjust our settings.”

“Oh, yes, of course.” She twinkled at him. “I know you’re going to adore it. When I first saw it I –“ She stopped as a roaring sound made itself known, and everyone looked up.

Bose stiffened, glancing at his men, and Theo laughed. “It’s the Cressida,” he explained. “I know that sound anywhere.”

They watched as a ship dropped out of the sky, the sunlight glinting off her panels. Mal glanced behind him and saw the rest of the Hawkins Troupe congregated in the entrance to the cargo bay, his own crew behind.

“Good to see the old girl,” he heard Toby say.

“Got that right,” Chiang agreed.

“Just ‘cause you’re missing …”

The rest of the conversation was lost as the sound grew in intensity, and Cressida landed next to the Firefly with barely a shudder. Her engines cut and peace returned.

The actors rolled out of Serenity, and Bose stepped back, almost as if he was afraid to touch them. His men grouped themselves close behind him, hands ready to draw concealed weapons if need be.

Cressida’s main hatch opened, and more people ran out, the two groups meeting in the middle, and there was an orgy of greetings and hugs of welcome.

“You are very close knit,” Clara said admiringly.

“My family.” Theo beamed.

“Well, while they’re getting reacquainted, perhaps you’d come with me to the ballroom.”

“My lady, I would follow you anywhere.”

Clara laughed and led the way inside, her husband trailing along after them.

Mal watched them go, a slight dent between his brows. Something was irritating his sense of survival, but he couldn’t pin it down. Might just be the proximity of Bose, but there was no guarantee. And he knew better than to ignore the feeling to his cost, and he had the scars to prove it. Perhaps he should talk to Frey, see if she’d picked up on anything.

“He seems a trifle hen-pecked,” Inara breathed, wafting up next to him.

“Doesn’t mean he ain’t what we think he is too. Something tells me that’s not mutually exclusive.”

“Just give him the benefit of the doubt, will you? We’ll only be here a few hours.”

“The less the better.”

She hit him on the arm and walked off.

Janith looked out of the bridge window of the Cressida as the two halves of the Hawkins Troupe hugged and kissed each other. She was still sick – at least, that’s what she kept telling everyone. But she had to see, to make sure that it was … Yes, there he was. Standing back, his thumbs in his gunbelt, looking on indulgently. Still the same conceited hwoon dahn he’d ever been, thinking he could talk his way out of any kind of trouble.

“Well, let’s just see if you’re so damn smug when this is all over, Malcolm Reynolds,” Janith said quietly. “See who’s laughing then.”


The set was soon reconstructed in the ballroom, and with the lights turned low Kaylee began to think the magic of that evening on Carson’s Moon might be about to be recreated. She, Noni and River had hung out of one of the top windows to watch the arrival of the Bose’s guests, commenting on the clothes and vehicles.

“Can’t figure out what these folks to do keep busy,” the young mechanic said as yet another gleaming hover disgorged its passengers. “Ooh, that’s pretty.”

Inara joined them. “Not a lot. Visiting, taking tea, playing cards … that’s about it.”

“Having love affairs,” River put in.

“You don’t know that.”

“She is.” She pointed down to a willowy woman who had climbed out on the arm of an elderly man. “He doesn’t know it.”

“Who with?” Noni asked quickly, her eyes wide.

“No, you shouldn’t be talking about that about people,” Inara tried to put in, but Kaylee interrupted.

“Someone dashing and fashionable?” she asked.

“The gamekeeper. Name of Mellors.”

Inara’s mouth dropped. “River, that’s a fib!”

The psychic smiled. “Almost. She is having an affair. But I can’t tell who with. I feel too fuzzy.” She tapped her belly. “This little one’s causing static.”

“At least you’re not throwing up anymore,” Kaylee said.



“Just for now. After the play I’ll stop and let nature take its course.”

“That’s crazy, River.”

“I am. Hadn’t you heard?”

She looked so serious that the others glanced at each other, then she laughed, and they joined in.


“You know what you have to do,” Theo said softly, his face serious.

Mikel nodded. “I know.” He rubbed his hands together, almost as if they were cold. “Just want to get on with it.”

“Wait until the performance starts,” Theo chided. “If you do come across anyone you can always say you got lost. Hopefully they’ll believe you in a place like this.”

The young man’s lips twitched. “I'm an actor, Theo. Of course they will.”

“I hope so. I truly hope so.” But he looked troubled.


Janith slid the small roll of lock-picks out from under the mattress and tucked it between her breasts. It was a good job it was loose enough to disguise her bounteous assets, as it also hid the small pistol held hard against her thigh in the custom-made holster.

Catching her hair up in a roll at the back of her neck, she stuck two chopsticks through to hold it in place then looked at herself in the mirror. The drab dress was very close to those worn by the servants, chosen for that very purpose, and without make-up she was likely to be able to pass cursory inspection. Anything more than that and the gun might have to come into play. After she’d tried everything else, of course.

She wrinkled her nose at her reflection, promising herself a week at the spa on Hydrus to get rid of the gorram hair colour, and to get it cut, too. Still, no-one could say she hadn’t played her part well. And now it was time for the finale.


Mal was sitting in the cargo bay of Serenity, perched on a crate. He’d promised Freya he’d come to watch her act for that very last time, but right now he wanted to be as far away from Bose and his cronies as possible. He’d done his best to make polite conversation, but the memories of what had happened to him and his in the camp were too much, and he’d come back to the Firefly to recharge the batteries. Besides, he didn’t like leaving her on her own, despite Bose’s declarations that no-one would come near her.

Have to get going soon, though, he told himself. She wouldn’t like it if he missed her grand entrance. Could make life all kinds of awkward for him, not least of which would be withdrawing conjugal rights. He grinned. Not that she would. Not with a nature like hers. Funny how they seemed to fit. Each waiting to find the other before letting their passions take over. So as difficult for her as making him desperate to hold her …

He sat forward. There was movement at the base of Cressida. He hadn’t seen anyone come up the path, so either they’d gone round the back or … Light spilled out from the hatch, just briefly, but it was enough to see someone leaving.

His brows drew together. So not a thief, unless he hadn’t noticed them get on board in the first place. They weren't walking like a thief, though. Striding along towards the house in the glow of the torches set along the garden. He could see it was a woman, but that was about …

Kai tian pi di! His jaw dropped as she stopped in the pool of light and glanced around, presumably making sure she wasn't followed, and he was glad he’d not put the lights on in the cargo bay. Keeping still he waited until she’d turned and begun to walk again before he stood up, moving silently down the ramp. Keeping out of the lights he followed her, his jumble of thoughts slowly spinning down to just one: what the hell was that woman doing here?

to be continued


Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:13 AM


You can't leave us hanging here! This is too juicy to stop now - just when everything is coming into play - no pun intended. Great work, great slow build up to the climax. There's so much action here I don't know which group to focus on - Theo, the actors, Janith, or Mal.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:41 AM


At last, all the plotlines have arrived at a common point! Time for some thrilling heroics, I'm thinking! :D

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 7:35 AM


Whoa! What a place to stop. Can't wait for this to "play" out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:57 PM


I am in agreement with Stepliana on this one, it was my first thought when I realised it was Mal she was after. Can't wait to see how THIS goes for her (and if Mal's gonna get shot again)


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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]