Friday, May 27, 2011

An old acquaintance makes a re-appearance, and Simon and Kaylee go sightseeing.



Follows (01) A LION’S MOUTH. Precedes (03) SPARKS FLY.

An old acquaintance makes a re-appearance, and Simon and Kaylee go sightseeing.

Mouse over Chinese words in text for translations

Rating: All my stories are PG to PG-13 to occasional R. You will not find detailed descriptions of blood, gore, and sex, but you will find situations appropriate for mature readers, innuendo, implication, and (gasp) swear words.

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* * *

It was almost too easy.

Manipulating people had always been easy for her—whether with charm, lies, layers of deceit, or her natural talent for invention—and she played people as easily as a Companion plays a dulcimer. With her curvaceous figure, bright eyes, and insouciant sexiness, she loved playing men especially. She usually had them doing her bidding within ten minutes of trying. So charming her way out of Pegasus Prison and arranging for a transport off world was one of the easier plays she’d made. Most of the prison guards were men, and she hadn’t been there more than a week before she’d picked her marks. When the signal came, she was ready.

Yolanda Haymer, her prison record said. She really didn’t care much for the name Yolanda, but she had worn it for a while. In this identity she’d become rich (nice, but boring), she’d held a respected position in society (really boring), and she’d been loved unconditionally (boring beyond all belief). She’d tried on dozens of names and identities—Bridgett, Becky, Aisatou—but one of her favorites was Saffron. That was the name she was using when she played Malcolm Reynolds. And it was because of him that she landed in Pegasus Prison.

The first time she played Malcolm Reynolds, what should have been a straightforward kiss-and-drop ship-stealing had been held up by the man’s resistance to thinking with his 软绵绵 地 挂 一块肉 ruǎnmiánmián de guà yī kuài ròu. Instead of following the standard pattern of jumping on her and humping on her, he’d treated her to homilies about being strong, advice about standing up for herself. She’d dropped him eventually, but his ship had somehow avoided the net. The next time she’d played him good, leaving him stranded naked in the desert—but that 母狗 mǔgǒu Companion of his had come riding to the rescue. She’d gone to jail, and he’d likely had nothing worse than a sunburn. She hoped it was a sunburn in a sensitive area.

It was the want of success that drew her back. Malcolm Reynolds was a challenge. She loved a challenge. It wasn’t the payoff, it was playing the game.

At last the signal came for the play to begin. Her first mark (she thought of him as “Mark”) was on shift, and he sprung her lock. She took down the other guards—her other marks—while he released the landlock on the Midge, a long-range interplanetary shuttle. She and Mark climbed aboard and took off. There was no pursuit. She set the course, engaged the autopilot, and headed to the back of the shuttle, where the handsome prison guard lay sprawled on the bed, waiting for her. It was time to give him his reward. She thought she’d start with a kiss.

* * *

He moaned with delight. She laughed. A deep growl came from his throat between flicks of his tongue. A womanly purr arose from deep within her chest as she nibbled his lips and nuzzled his neck. The sounds mingled and settled into a steady pattern of panting and grunting, climbing towards an ecstatic peak.

Mal lay on his back, breathing hard, eyes shut tight as he focused all his energies on the one thing. All rational thought was pushed aside. He groaned and stuffed the pillow over his ears. Didn’t do no good. Gorram ruttin’ hell, he thought. He’d go crazy, listening to this same ballet being danced every ruttin’ night—more ’n once every ruttin’ night—through the bulkhead separating his bunk from Kaylee’s. He’d tried everything—the pillow, wrapping a towel around his head, even meditating fergodsake. He had to do something about sound-proofing. He was glad they were happy, but—gorram!—did they have to do their happy so loudly? It just underscored his own state of deprivation, and most nights it drove him out of his bunk to walk the halls of his ship.

* * *

Now fully dressed, Mal’s first stop was the bridge, where River had the watch. “Everything’s fine, Captain,” she answered, as Mal opened his mouth to ask, “Everything okay here?” so he changed his words to, “Right. Good.” Sure, it was a little bit creepy, having a Reader for a pilot, but hey, it was efficient!

Don’t have to be a Reader to know what you’re thinking, Captain, River thought. Perfectly obvious what you were going to ask. And it’s very efficient.

He walked through the corridor past his own open hatch. Zoe’s and Jayne’s hatches were closed. Kaylee’s hatch was also closed, but the noises issuing forth from it were again reaching a crescendo. He quickened his pace and passed out of range. Next port of call was the engine room, where he caressed the piping with his hands and contemplated the soothing rhythms of the slowly spinning engine. After descending to the lower level to check that all was well, he concluded his tour, as usual, by climbing up the cargo bay stairs toward the shuttle. Inara’s shuttle. Her light was on.

* * *

Inara was busy at her cortex screen, making arrangements for their next landfall, when she heard a knock, followed shortly by Mal’s voice.

“May I come in?”

She quickly pulled up a window with client profiles to cover up her true business, and froze the cortex screen. “Yes, 请进 qǐng jìn.” She gave Mal a welcoming smile. “You’re up late.”

“I couldn’t sleep. Simon and Kaylee are, uh—” He shut his mouth, realizing he couldn’t possibly talk about this particular problem, with Inara of all people. “Noise,” he mumbled. “You know, I, uh, couldn’t sleep.” There was an awkward pause while the loaded word “sleep” hung in the air between them. He reached out and picked up one of Inara’s beautiful things, bouncing it from hand to hand while speaking. “I saw your light was still on, so I thought I’d—” he glanced toward Inara, and noticed for the first time that she was seated in front of her cortex screen. “What’re you doing—lining up clients on Beaumonde?” he asked, far too offhandedly. He’d thought maybe something had changed between them, all they’d gone through with the Operative and Miranda. Well, apparently not, ’cause there she was, settin’ up appointments with clients like nothin’ had happened. He was unable to disguise how much the notion bothered him. Inara read the emotions playing over Mal’s face.

“Not exactly, Mal. But I have made some appointments.”

“What kind of appointments?” Mal asked with far more belligerence than he intended.

“Guild business, Mal,” she answered, annoyed with him for prying. “It’s really not your business.”

“Right, it’s not my…”

“It has nothing to do with you.”

“Nothing to do with me,” Mal repeated. He threw down the pretty thing in his hand, and left abruptly.

* * *

Saffron, too, was busy using the cortex, while sitting in the pilot’s seat of her stolen ship. Mark lay on the bed in the back of the ship. He might’ve been asleep. Or unconscious. Or dead. Whatever. Mark didn’t concern her anymore. Saffron was checking the “Wanted” bulletins. Sure enough, she found one for “Yolanda Haymer.” It gave the details about when and where Yolanda the Escaped Convict was last seen. She studied the picture critically. “Gotta do something about that hair.” She eyed the orange prison jumpsuit distastefully. “And—that color makes me look fat.”

* * *

Serenity settled like one of the larger and more awkward seabirds on its assigned landing pad at Pedro Docks on Beaumonde. After securing the necessary permissions from port authority, Mal opened the airlock ramp, and he, Zoe, and Jayne set to work off-loading the cargo. Mal was careful to check each crate as it was off-loaded against the still unfamiliar-feeling electronic list. Kaylee and Simon turned up in the cargo bay while River buttoned down the ship from the bridge. They meant to help, Mal reminded himself, as he carefully side-stepped around Kaylee, who had stopped in her tracks to admire Simon’s backside as he bent over a crate. Mal saw Zoe smoothly slip past Simon, who had paused to catch Kaylee’s eye. Mal kept to his business-like purpose and did his best to steer clear of the crossfire of cupid darts flying between the two. Those two were just gettin’ in the way, makin’ sheep’s eyes at each other and interrupting the smooth flow of things. It was very hard to take that kind of lovey stuff, what with bein’ kept up half the night by their gorram noise, and what with Inara flying off to bed her “appointments” the second they hit dirt. Mal was almost glad to see Jayne barge right through one of their sweet moments. Now that’s just going too far, Mal thought angrily, watching Zoe pull up short to avoid Kaylee and Simon kissing over a dropped crate. Simon grabbed the crate and moved off down the gangway, while Kaylee scurried over to the still substantial pile of cargo. This mushiness was adversely affecting the transaction of business aboard his ship, and it had to stop. He strode over to her. “Hey, Kaylee,” he began.

“Cap’n!” Kaylee said brightly, looking up at his face with a smile.

The intended reprimand died on his lips. He couldn’t find it in himself to dampen that sunny look. So instead he said, “You haven’t had a run ashore for a while—you were so busy fixing that buffer panel in Boros that I don’t think you once set foot out of the dock yard. Why don’t you and the Doc take the morning off, go see the sights?”

“Shiny!” she said, with a look that warmed his heart in spite of himself. “Simon!” she called, “Let’s go…” and Mal saw them off the ship as the pair eagerly headed into town. With satisfaction, Mal felt the off-loading take on a smooth and rhythmic flow.

* * *

Saffron guided the Midge into a landing at Pedro Docks, an out-of-the-way berth where the small ship wouldn’t be noticed for a while. She shut down, grabbed her bag, and, without even a glance at the recumbent Mark, made an efficient but unhurried exit from the ship.

* * *

Simon and Kaylee headed straight for the main shopping street in the City of New Dunsmuir. Both sides of the crowded avenue were lined with shops selling clothing, electronics, toys, fine food, and just about everything else imaginable. It was not the sort of upscale shopping one found in the Core, Simon reflected, but it was reasonably nice.

“No, really,” he reassured Kaylee, “this is much more fun than the Capital City Shopping Triplex on Osiris. The shops there are just filled with...well, useless crap.” He was rewarded for his words with an approving look from Kaylee. “Expensive useless crap. While here…well, that looks like clothing a person might actually want to wear.” They were gazing in a shop window at some well-dressed models. “What do you think?” He tried to make his question casual, but he was eager to hear her answer. He was wondering if he should spend some of his hard-earned money on a present for Kaylee.

Kaylee was admiring the dresses, but was imagining them on someone glamorous—like Inara—or maybe Zoe, if she was ever to wear a dress again. These clothes had way too much slink for her. “I dunno, Simon, them swanky things’d get caught in the moving parts of the Trace Compression Block engine pretty easy. But I like the look of those—” she indicated a display of men’s wear “—don’t you?”

Simon eyed the display. Mal might wear those clothes—and even look good in them. Simon just didn’t think he could pull off the “well-dressed frontiersman” look. So he answered evasively, “Not a good color for me.” And tactfully, he stopped there, because there just wasn’t anything about the men’s clothing here that suited him.

* * *

Saffron lifted a swanky, slinky dress off the rack and held it up to her chin in front of the mirror. They had the right size, and it was just her color. Mindful of the security cameras and shop clerks, she disabled the anti-shoplifting device on the garment and secreted it in her bag.

* * *

The best shop was the one selling gadgets. Simon eagerly homed in on the “health professionals” section, and began assessing the various gadgets for their usefulness aboard Serenity. Although he’d made vast improvements to the infirmary since it first came under his management, it was still noticeably lacking in diagnostic equipment. Kaylee eyed each gadget like the professional technician she was, examining them to see how they were made and how they worked.

Simon picked up a sleek and snazzy compact electronic device from the shelf of working display models. “Look at this, Kaylee.”

She noted the excitement in his voice and gave him an expectant, questioning look.

“It’s a portable diagnostic lab. This would be just the thing for the infirmary. It analyzes samples, compares against the medline database of case studies…oh, uh-oh, look at the price.” While he spoke, Kaylee picked up a neighboring device, not quite as new and fancy, and looked it over. “Kaylee! What are you doing?” Simon exclaimed in horror as she suddenly cracked open the casing to expose the electronics inside.

Kaylee, completely at ease, took the sleek device out of Simon’s hand, opened it up to expose its electronic guts, and compared it with the older model in her hand. “You know,” she said, “I think I could probably add another diagnostic port to this one,” she indicated the older model, “upgrade the memory, and re-jumper the cortex communication link to a faster setting…The rest is really just a matter of looks—you know, the outer casing.”

Simon tried to pick up his jaw from the floor. “The casing?” he echoed lamely.

“You know, they’re always doing this, with every kind of machine. Make a few minor modifications inside, re-design the casing, make it look pretty and sell it for twice the price. The old one is nearly the same—and I can afford it,” she added with a smile.

* * *

Saffron wore her swanky dress like she’d been born in it, looking every inch a stylish businesswoman. She casually lifted the wallet from a shopper in the crowded electronics store and used his credit account to purchase a portable cortex device. That couple in the health professionals section looked very familiar.

* * *

Holding his precious package, Simon guided Kaylee into a delightful informal café. He steered Kaylee to a table and said, “You wait right here. It’s my turn.”

Kaylee knew the surprise was going to be wonderful. It was Simon, and he’d just brought her to the fanciest restaurant she’d ever set foot in. Sure enough, in a few minutes he returned carrying a large bowl of fruit—mostly berries—and a couple of forks. She hoped her look expressed even half the delight she was feeling.

They sat and ate in sublime companionship. Simon’s pleasure in watching Kaylee sensuously eat a strawberry eclipsed even his glee at having had the brainwave to buy the fruit in the first place.

“These are some of the best berries I ever tasted,” Kaylee exclaimed ecstatically. “Simon, what’s this one? I don’t think I ever seen one on Harvest.”

“It’s a hodgeberry. They used to grow on the Cambersons’ esta—” Simon caught himself “—our neighbor’s, back home in Osiris. River and I jumped the fence and went gathering them—we thought they grew wild.”

“Let me guess. They was planted a’ purpose, and you got in trouble.”

Simon grinned.

“It’s hard for me to imagine you gettin’ into trouble as a boy, you being so polite and all.”

“I bet you got into trouble now and then…”

“Got my hide tanned pretty often. I went pickin’ huckleberries one time—they actually do grow wild on Harvest. I was supposed to bring ’em home, Mama was gonna make a pie, ’cause we was havin’ company comin’ for dinner. But I was greedy, an’ I just ate ’em up. I thought I’d find more in another berry patch, but the Hickman kids had got there first and the place was cleaned out. I came home with nothin’ but one sorry handful of berries. Mama took one look at my face, and she seen all the berry stains. Boy did she ever tan my hide!” Kaylee laughed at the memory. “And the worst of it was, I’d stained my good dress. She made me scrub it out myself, in nothin’ but my underwear.”

“I can imagine.” Simon was thoroughly enjoying the image conjured up by this part of the story.

Kaylee gave Simon a playful smack, pleased with the lustful look in his eye. “It weren’t even dry when the Grubers came over, and I had to wear a flour sack to dinner with company!” She laughed and turned back to her bowl of fruit.

Simon’s smile abruptly vanished. 我是这样一个白痴 Wǒ shì zhèyàng yī gè báichī, he thought, as the realization came to him. Her family was so poor she didn’t even have another decent dress to wear. He felt like a heel. He’d been brought up with the best of everything, with all the ease and privilege that money could buy. Nothing was ever lacking, that wealth could purchase. A guilty flush stole up his neck.

Kaylee didn’t notice his awkwardness. She turned to him, smiling, and said, “Now here’s a huckleberry. Open up, let me feed you.” She fed it to him with her fork, and Simon swore he could feel the sensuality of the fruit the way Kaylee did. He opened his eyes and turned to her.

“Let me feed you.”

* * *

Having visited a professional salon for a make-over (with special attention to her hair), Saffron entered the café and ordered a coffee drink. She opened her new leather-bound daily planner and activated the cortex device. That couple eating fruit over there were the same ones she’d seen earlier in the electronics shop, and suddenly she knew where she’d seen them before. Or her, at least. Casually she used her communicator to take a long-range capture of the two. She loaded in the woman’s picture and the name of Malcolm Reynolds’s Firefly transport, and found a match right away. Kaywinnet Lee Frye. Mechanic. Serenity, Firefly class transport. The man was not as easy to identify. She ran the facial recognition software on his picture, sipping her coffee drink as the complicated program collated data. A few minutes later a chime let her know that she’d found a few hits. She smiled when she found the closest match was among the “Wanted” bulletins. It was a bulletin dated a few months back. “Simon Tam. Fugitive.” She stretched her eyes open a little wider as she took in the amount of reward money offered for his apprehension. The man had been at large—with that kind of price on his head—for long enough. Casually she glanced over at the fruit-eaters. It was not a pleasant look.

* * *

Simon and Kaylee walked hand in hand through the crowd at Pedro Dock. They were blissfully unaware that they had picked up some company. Saffron tailed them from a discrete distance. They approached that ratty-looking bucket of bolts, Serenity. Sure enough, there was Malcolm Reynolds, striding up and down the ramp like the King of Londinium in his flapping brown coat, trailed by his trusty sidekicks. Saffron gave Serenity and its berth a measured look of calculated assessment. Yes, it could be done.

* * *





软绵绵 地 挂 一块肉 ruǎnmiánmián de guà yī kuài ròu [dangly piece of flesh]

母狗 mǔgǒu [bitch]

请进 qǐng jìn [come in]

我是这样一个白痴。Wǒ shì zhèyàng yī gè báichī. [I’m such an idiot]

Previous Part | Next Part


Friday, May 27, 2011 6:47 AM


Here's the first part of the next story!

I tried to add a link to the first story, A Lion's Mouth, but it doesn't look like it worked. Does anybody know how to do this? PM me if you wish.

Hope you enjoy Adventures in Sitting.


Friday, May 27, 2011 8:15 AM


Hah, good choice in flow between the scenes. I see that the line you put in your last story about Simon's warrant being expired but it would take a while for the bounty hunters to get the message was a jumping point.

Friday, May 27, 2011 8:45 AM


Uh oh, Saffron! Nothing good ever comes whenever she pops up. Wonder what name she is using this time and worry that she is going to get Simon and the crew in all manner of trouble with the gorram purplebellies just for her amusement. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, May 27, 2011 9:06 AM


Love your writing, and your storytelling, you set the stage well, wish I had more time to gush. I do look forward to your posts, even though I may not always comment.

Thursday, June 2, 2011 7:24 AM


Thanks for the feedback!

Ali D: That's right, Saffron just stirs up trouble! Of course that's why I brought her back ;-)

Thursday, June 23, 2011 6:15 PM


I have corrected the links and now they seem to work.


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ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (20)
“Vaccinations?” Jayne asked, with a stupid expression. “Fer chickens?”

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (19)
“Inara, I ain’t willing for you to bribe—” “Who said anything about bribes?” “What other form of persuasion you plannin’ on using? I’m not sure I like this plan.” “Mal, I can be very persuasive,” Inara replied. After a short beat, she added, with a touch of asperity, “Fully clothed.”

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (18)
Extreme measures as more things go wrong

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (17)
In which things begin to go wrong

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (16)
Waiting for the other shoe to drop

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (15)
Serenity enters the Core, Mal and Inara sleep together, and Simon and Ip come up with a plan.

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (14)
In which we find out more about Miranda

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (13)
Simon makes an announcement; Zoe and Inara take Mal to task

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (12)
Mal tells Inara a folktale from Shadow

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (11)
Inara and Zoe have a little palaver