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ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (03)
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What’s that Saffron up to now? Mal confers with Book, and we meet two young men in suits.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2633    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12)

Part (03)

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Follows WHAT BEGINS WITH AN APPLE (11).

The series so far:
A LION’S MOUTH (01)
ADVENTURES IN SITTING (02)
SPARKS FLY (03)
EXPECTATIONS (04)
BREAK OUT (05)
THE TRIAL (06)
SHADOW (07)
ONE MAN’S TRASH (08)
BANDIAGARA (09)
TWO BY TWO BY TWO (10)
WHAT BEGINS WITH AN APPLE (11)

What’s that Saffron up to now? Mal confers with Book, and we meet two young men in suits.

* * *

Saffron hated it when clients made a fuss about paying for her work. She got it done. They paid for it. That was how the universe was supposed to work. And yet this impossible, 顽固 wángù woman was making a fuss.

“The device was installed,” she insisted snippily. “I placed it exactly as you specified.”

“And yet it failed to disable the ship.”

“It was discovered,” Safforn reported. “That’s hardly my fault.”

“Perhaps it was improperly deployed,” the woman countered, “or you were incautious. You made it obvious, and they discovered it prematurely, before it could be activated. In which case I don’t think full payment is warranted.”

“It was properly deployed. I must insist upon full payment for services rendered.”

“Why didn’t it explode?”

Saffron nearly rolled her eyes. “I already told you, 老板娘 lǎobǎnniáng.” She put just enough snark in her tone of voice to make it ambiguous as to whether the title were honorific or derogatory. “The device was discovered before it exploded.”

“You have positive information?”

“Of course.” This time she did roll her eyes. What kind of amateur did the woman think she’d hired? “I observed the ship in Pedro Dockyards. The ship’s mechanic was intending to perform repairs to the navsat, and discovered the device.”

“So it exploded on the ground? In the dockyard? Why didn’t I hear casualty reports on the local news channels?”

“The girl was cautious and didn’t come close enough to trigger it. Instead she reported it to the captain, and he disarmed the device.”

“Disarmed? How many people actually know how to disarm a Qianxia proximity detonator?”

At least one, apparently, 老板娘 lǎobǎnniáng. Saffron shrugged. That was not her problem.

“Agent Luz, you were entrusted with a special set of tools and devices. If you are unable to deploy them properly, they will not be made available in the future.”

Saffron was pissed. The only reason she’d agreed to work with this particular employer was on account of the opportunity to play with the special toys. The woman had no call to act all high-handed with her. But she hid her reaction. What she said was, “I’m only reporting what I observed. After the mechanic discovered the devices, the captain returned to the ship.” Carrying his obviously injured first officer over his shoulder, she might have added, but that was none of the 老板娘 lǎobǎnniáng’s business. Saffron was a master of omitting unnecessary details. “Shortly after that, I observed him climbing topside, with the little mechanic spotting from the ground. He spent considerable time up there, with no explosion or incident. He later climbed down with the disassembled parts in his hands. Then I observed the mechanic climb up and make the repairs.”

“Why didn’t you report this sooner, Agent Luz?” The 老板娘 lǎobǎnniáng was seriously displeased.

“I had to catch a flight,” Saffron answered, nonchalantly. It was not 老板娘 lǎobǎnniáng’s business to know that the flight she caught was aboard that self-same ship. That, having observed the dismantling of the explosive devices and the Qianxia detonator, she had then proceded with her other mission. She had walked right over from her observation post, climbed into one of the gorram chicken crates, and signaled the delivery service she had on standby. A short time later, the crates (and Saffron) had been deposited at the foot of Serenity’s ramp and loaded aboard.

“You had to catch a flight? And you couldn’t be bothered to wave us en route?”

“I didn’t have access to a secure channel,” Saffron countered. “I don’t suppose you’d want your role in this revealed to all and sundry in a casual unencrypted wave.” She shrugged. Not her problem if the woman hadn’t made allowances for the astuteness of her targets. But not everyone was gifted with superior research skills, like she was. People didn’t do the prep work, so they failed. Or got caught. “Listen, I got the job done, as promised, and in good time.”

“The mission was unsuccessful.”

“It’s for you to decide if you succeeded in meeting your goals. From my perspective, the mission was a complete success. The devices were installed as specified, in a timely manner. You owe me the full amount of the promised remuneration. And if you do not pay me in a timely manner, I’ll—”

“You’ll what?” the woman scoffed. “File a complaint? Dun me? Report me to the Better Business Bureau? Sue for compensation in a court of law?”

“Why, no,” Saffron told her. “I’ll simply refer the matter to my collection agency.” She smiled, full of menace, and the woman, despite her hard-as-nails exterior, blanched, as she realized what Saffron had just threatened her with. “I do the job,” Saffron said sweetly, the look in her eyes belying her sugary tone, “and then I get paid.”

* * *

该死 Gāisǐ, what was wrong with him? he thought, as he stumped off to the bridge. Shouldn’t ought to be burdening li’l Kaylee with all my personal 废物 fèiwù like that. He aimed to comfort her, and instead he dumped all his baggage at her feet like a gorram idiot. Dumped it on Kaylee, just like he’d dumped it on Zoe, right before the ambush. Hell, he’d even dumped his 废物 fèiwù on River, and 我的天啊 wǒ de tiān ā if she didn’t already have burdens enough of her own. What kind of a 屁眼儿 pìyǎnr was he, dumpin’ his 垃圾 lājī on every friend he had? This was exactly why he was against shipboard relationships. They complicated things. He felt like a gorram idiot. Instead of being wise and strong and all that, there he was, letting his heart-wounds bleed out onto his twenty-three-year old 小妹妹 xǐao mèimei like it was up to her to salve his wounds.

Did Inara love him? Damned if he knew. He’d thought so…he thought he’d seen the real woman behind the Companion mask—when he told her he loved her, and she smiled on him; when he asked her to marry him, and she didn’t say no. Maybe even those 疯了 fēngle accusations she’d made—sleepin’ with Zoe, a girl in every port (really!)—were a sign of love. If she didn’t care, would she bother being jealous?

But on the other side of the balance were the doubts. Inara had never actually told him that she loved him. And there was everything she’d said to Saffron about being able to stimulate a response in the typical male—like he was some kind of lab rat, not a man, a human being with feelings. Gorrammit! He took a deep breath or three, waiting until the heart-pain eased. He’d turn into a blithering idiot, he didn’t watch out. There was a part of his mind that warned him not to give weight to anything that Inara had said to him in Saffron’s presence. That evil snake had played him like he was a hand of Tall Card, and she held all the plums. Played him, played Inara too, and played the both of them off each other. He shouldn’t pay any heed. But it was enough to plant seeds of doubt, and since he’d always had more than a healthy helping of self-doubt anyway, the seeds fell in fertile ground and grew rampant like weeds. He couldn’t begin to imagine what Inara saw in him, even if she did love him. Even on a good day he had difficulty believing in the fairy tale, and on a bad day—of which there’d been more than a few lately—he wondered if it had ever been real.

His thoughts ran gloomier. What woman in her right mind would want him, anyhow? Damaged goods, is what he was. Hollowed out shell of a man. Hadn’t been whole since before Serenity Valley, and it weren’t no wonder Inara didn’t like what she saw inside him. Dark places—open up, see what’s inside—darkness you can’t even imagine—a broken-down excuse for a human being.

* * *

The message was succinct and to the point. “Success. I got it done.”

“I get it done” had been her watchword. The man known as 代號 Dài Hào nodded to himself, as he sat alone in his port inspector’s office. Good. Very good. Ilona was as slippery an agent as they came, but his instincts told him she would get it done.

He had at first been reluctant to hire her. Her previous acquaintance with the target could easily have been a liability. But when she outlined her plan, he read between the lines. The woman had clearly done her research, and knew the target’s vulnerabilities. She was willing to put herself on the line to exploit those weak spots. They wouldn’t suspect it, she assured him, and even when they did, they wouldn’t be able to sort out the red herrings from the true scent, and they wouldn’t track it down until it was much too late.

Still, 代號 Dài Hào waited until he had independent confirmation before he wired payment into Ilona’s account.

* * *

The Captain arrived on the bridge in a cloud of turmoil so thick he didn’t even register her presence. He sat down and, out of habit, flicked the three check switches, but he didn’t even look at the ship’s response. He came to the bridge to sulk (although he would have called it brooding—a much more manly term). And to hide. From all of his crew. From Inara especially. He stared out at the Black, lost in his gloomy cloud of thoughts.

“She knows you’re here, but she won’t come looking. Doesn’t want to intrude,” River said, testing the waters.

No response. He didn’t even hear her. River settled back in her seat quietly. Invisible.

* * *

Anger, fury, and jealousy. That’s what his relationship with Inara had come to. He’d taken a chance, acted on hope, and this was where it led—to anger, fury, and jealousy.

Now, Inara angry was no problem. In fact, in the early days he generally aimed to provoke her and annoy her—because when she reacted angrily, he knew it was real—the real Inara and not the smooth, unruffled Companion mask he’d learned to distrust so much.

Inara furious he hadn’t experienced until recently—and he had to admit, it was a bit overwhelming. Crockery-hurling-shouting-can’t-get-a-word-in-edgewise overwhelming, like a volcano blowing up and covering everything with hot lava. Or there was also the other kind, the cold fury, the silent-treatment-walled-off-won’t-talk-keep-you-guessing-in-the-dark kind of fury, and that was just as overwhelming, like the cold water inundation of a tsunami, and maybe even more destructive.

Inara jealous—he just didn’t know what to make of that. Sure, he was jealous. But that was simply because he was neurotic and insecure. Inara was always so confident. Jealousy in her seemed unnatural. It felt like a disease. In him, it was…okay, it was still a disease, but confidence was another one of those intangibles he’d lost at Serenity Valley, and jealousy seemed to follow close on the heels of that. Just another one of those chronic conditions he had to learn to live with.

Every time Inara talked about making appointments, he was hit by a wave of jealousy, no matter that he told himself that supposedly these appointments didn’t have nothing to do with clients. Just the not knowing—did she love him or not? Did she have it better with all those other men she’d took to bed with? 哦天啊 Ò tiān ā, he needed to cut off that line of thought right now—he couldn’t stand it. Who can stand before jealousy?

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”

“You quotin’ the bible at me, Shepherd?” Gorrammit, there seemed to be a rash of bible-quotin’ breaking out on his boat. First Kaylee, now Book… “She’s jealous of what you have with Zoe,” Book observed in his measured voice.

“Can’t change that,” Mal shrugged.

“Can’t you?”

“What Zoe and I have, it’s part of history. We been through so much together. Ain’t nobody can change that.”

“It makes Inara jealous.”

“She’ll have to deal with it.” Mal turned back to the instrument panel, a clear signal to the preacher that his interference was unwelcome.

“Must you flaunt it in her face?”

“What?” Mal sputtered indignantly.

“The way you look at Zoe,” Book continued, “and communicate a thousand things without saying, conveyed in no more than a glance—”

Mal was defensive. “Took years for me and Zoe to develop our understanding.”

“Inara wants that.”

Mal was silent.

“It’s very intimate,” Book opined.

“What’s very intimate?”

“The way you and Zoe communicate.”

“We just think along the same track. It’s easy to understand someone when you’re thinkin’ along the same lines.”

“Inara wants that. Wants to understand. Wants to communicate. Wants that level of intimacy.” Book fixed Mal with a penetrating stare.

“Listen, Shepherd,” Mal replied, determined to make this perfectly clear, “Inara and I been intimate in ways that me and Zoe never—”

“But not in that way.”

Mal had no reply. It was true.

“You and Zoe are intimate in a way that you’ve not yet achieved with Inara. Is it really any surprise that Inara is jealous of the easy communication you share with Zoe? That freedom to speak or stay silent, confident that you’ll be understood. Knowing the meaning behind her words, and interpreting the meaning of her silences just as easily. Of course she longs for that kind of intimacy.

“There are things you don’t talk about at all with Inara,” Book continued, divining the direction of Mal’s train of thought.

“True,” Mal admitted. “But I don’t want to.” He tried to define his reasons, his hands flapping uncertainly. There were horrors in his past, acts of violence and bloodshed, desperation and abuse, things so bad he tried to hide them from himself. Bad enough that he was tainted. Didn’t want to damage no one else with that 毒害 dúhài. He didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. “She’d…explode or somethin’ if I told her—”

“—things that Zoe already knows about you,” Book finished.

“Don’t have to talk about them things with Zoe.” That was it. That was why. Zoe was safe. Already inoculated, and immune from the taint. Inara might explode. Swell and die from the 毒气 dúqì of it. Some things were better off not knowing about, and he didn’t want Inara to have his 废物 fèiwù stuck in her head, too.

“Exactly,” Book agreed.

“We done lived it. No need to talk about it.”

“With Zoe,” the Shepherd appended.

“Right,” Mal nodded. “She understands without sayin’.”

Book gave it a beat of silence. “But…” He allowed the qualifier to hang in the air.

“But what, Shepherd?”

Book’s continued silence compelled Mal to provide his own answer.

“You’re sayin I need to talk about it…with Inara.”

“Inara doesn’t know,” the Shepherd said softly.

“I don’t want her to know!” Mal exclaimed. “Shepherd…she’s my refuge from the dark…she’s my 射线光 shèxiàn guāng, my ray of light in the darkness. I don’t want to smother that light with all the dark places in my soul.”

Book contemplated this admission for a moment, then gave Mal a half-smile. “What if it works the other way?”

“Other way what?”

“What if—”

“—she brings light to the dark places?” Mal’s face lit briefly with hope, but his expression quickly hardened. “That’s all very poetical, Shepherd. But that ain’t gonna happen.”

Book folded his arms. “Because you won’t let it.”

Mal crossed his own arms in stubborn resistance.

Book said nothing, but it didn’t take a genius to read his facial expression. See? That’s exactly what I was saying. As was his custom, he waited out Mal’s obstinacy.

As usual whenever he and the Shepherd reached one of these silent impasses, Mal broke first. “I ain’t gonna…I don’t want to….Look, Shepherd, I need her brightness. Don’t want to dim that spark with my…baggage. Like I got a black hole in my soul, sucks the joy right outta everything I touch.”

Book chuckled, and actually rolled his eyes at Mal’s melodramatic statement. “That’s an exaggeration, Captain.”

Hell, preacher had called him on his dramatics. “Okay,” Mal conceded. “Alright. I’ve felt that way sometimes, but I know it ain’t really true. So not a black hole. But a hole, nonetheless, and it’s a pretty damn dark hole. I should know. I spend a lot of time there.”

Book merely looked at him. Mal must be getting good at Book’s silent game, because he read the Shepherd’s expression easily. You spend a lot of time there willingly.

Won’t break first, won’t break, won’t… Mal fixed him with as belligerent a look as he could manage, but it was no good. Should oughtta know better by now, Reynolds: can’t outlast the Shepherd in a silent contest. “Yeah,” he breathed in acknowledgment. “I spend a lot of time there…willingly. I kinda…enjoy the misery. Or I’m used to it, anyways. It’s all I got left.”

“No, it’s not,” Book instantly contradicted him.

Mal stared in grim defiance.

“You hang onto that misery because it comforts you.”

“Comforts me?! Shepherd, that’s the craziest notion I ever heard. How can a man find comfort in misery?”

You tell me. The Shepherd focused his gaze steadily on Mal, and saw right through him. Mal quailed, and broke.

“Because he finds it steadier than confronting the unknown.” The words were dragged out of him, unwillingly. Truth was a bitter substance to swallow and digest. “I cling to misery…because I’m afraid,” he breathed, “afraid I’m—Shepherd, happiness ain’t for the likes of me.”

Mal gazed out the window at darkness without end. At last he turned to face the Shepherd’s scorn, and to his surprise found Book regarding him in a kindly manner. “Why do you cling to that notion, Captain?”

The kindness roused his ornery streak. Denial always made a good shield. “I’m not—” he protested. I’m not the kind of man that good things happen to, his mind supplied.

“You gather the gloom around your soul like a comforting cloak. You’d rather stay wrapped up in your sufferings than take a chance at letting in the warmth and light of the sun. The light that might bleach out the misery that grows like mildew in the dark corners of your mind. The light that might warm your heart.” Book’s look bore directly into Mal’s soul—or would’ve, if he still had one worthy of the name—and demanded his attention. “You don’t want that?”

“False hopes…make a man weak…” Mal countered miserably. “Weak…vulnerable…”

“Real hope makes a man strong,” Book proclaimed in his deep voice. “Mighty. Able to overcome, and do the impossible.”

Mal remained silent, sitting desolately in his chair, staring out at the Black, unable to see the points of light in the darkness.

“You’ve got far more left than misery. You’ve got a ship. A good crew that’s a family to you. You’ve got the love of a remarkable woman, love that you share. Love that keeps you flying, and gives you hope for the future.”

Book’s voice held a warmth, and as he gazed bleakly out at the blackness of space, Mal began to see the stars and planets, the constellation 凤凰座 Fènghuángzuò and the fuzzy brightness of the open cluster 麒麟 Qílín, bringer of 瑞 ruì. His face began to reflect a little bit of light.

“The Special Hell is of your own creation. You needn’t spend another moment there. You have the power to climb out of that hole. Let in the light.”

Mal turned to face Book, but the Shepherd no longer stood by him. Instead he looked across the gap to find River opposite him in the co-pilot’s chair, her feet drawn up on the seat. She reached over the control panel and lightly tapped a button, and gazed silently out at the Black, as soundless as space itself.

* * *

The room they worked in was painted dull grey. It was no different from any of a dozen rooms in the facility, except it was more comfortably furnished than the interrogation rooms and holding cells, and the walls were lined with high-tech communications equipment. The door also opened from the inside, and the Ident Cards they wore displayed on lanyards around their necks—when coupled with their retinal scans, which were registered in the system, and the passwords they had memorized—granted them full run of all but the most exclusive parts of the building.

Both of them aspired to greater things. Each of them had applied to the elite program, only to have their applications returned with an unsigned note indicating that a renewed application at a later date might be acceptable. Rejection stung, but they were both still young and full of themselves, and both were confident that someday, they’d enter the elite ranks of the operative agents, shed their born identities, and don the blue gloves. In the meantime, they wore the suits. Those, afterall, could be purchased in any men’s wear store at the shopping triplex, and they wanted to show that they could look the part.

Meanwhile, Anatoly Tse and Boromiro Janiewicz worked the lower rank jobs that supported the operation. Most of their time was spent in the grey room, monitoring the listening and tracking devices. Occasionally, they were called upon to serve coffee or run errands for the agents with the more glamorous jobs. Once in a while, they set up for the confidential meetings of the higher elites who directed the field operatives, and occasionally, they were present when a field operative made his report. Sometimes, they were called upon to use their technical skills, when a ship needed to be remote-flown, or a wave needed to be sent from a disguised or spoofed source.

Mostly, though, they sat and waited, and monitored. “Monitoring” was an elegant way of saying that there was a lot of downtime in their jobs. When an operation requiring their technical skills was underway, they were indeed busy, but in between operations, they waited. And they talked. They made light of not being among the elite, and told each other that it was “just a matter of time, before they accept my application.” Such was the life of the Blue Hand wannabes.

The truth was, they knew a lot. They were spook wannabes, and they paid attention to everything. They knew a lot more than either of them let on. And yet they were human, and young men, and they wanted to be able to boast about how “in-the-know” they were to someone. Since they both had the same level security clearances and highly overlapping assignments, they talked to each other, in a perpetual game of one-upmanship.

Their approach to the game was different. Anatoly was the ambitious one, self-important. He liked to make out that he was more in-the-know than he really was—always leaving Boromiro with the suggestion that maybe he really was in-the-know. He liked to make Boromiro think that he knew more than Boromiro knew. Anatoly attended the in-house seminars, and jumped at the chance to serve coffee at the top meetings. He listened. And was thereby privy to all kinds of top secret info. Or at least, so he always let on to Boromiro. And whenever Boromiro asked, “Really, Anatoly, is that the truth, or are you just making this stuff up?” Anatoly would reply, “If I answered that question, Boromiro, I’d have to shoot you.” To which, Boromiro would roll his eyes. Nonetheless, Boromiro was unsure if Anatoly was just playing James Bond or if Anatoly was really in the know.

Boromiro was also ambitious, but he hid it. He played the role of the stupid one. He was much smarter than he appeared. He found that if you played the imbecile, the clueless one, people let down their guard, began to be incautious, and said things around you that you shouldn’t be privy to. He collected a lot of scuttlebutt this way. Much of it was useless gossip, but he knew he’d been let in on a number of top-secret things in this manner as well, by people who were rendered incautious by his disarming, clueless, harmless appearance. He guarded the secrets he had gathered closely. But you couldn’t be overly cautious, either, because then people would suspect that you were hiding something. So from time to time he carefully let slip bits of casual information without fanfare, as if accidentally. This bolstered his clueless image.

One of the pieces of scuttlebutt Boromiro had gathered was that the mercenary agent who’d been hired to set up the operation had found another Blue Sun agent already in place on the ship they were tracking.

This was news to Anatoly, but he hastened to appropriate the information by offering his opinion on it. “Low-level apparently. Probably more of a monitor than an operator. Bet he was put in place to listen and report, or to track the ship’s movements.”

“Wonder which branch he’s working for.” There were many, many roots and branches to 妈妈 青日Māma Qīng Rì’s network of operatives. The Corporation was vast, and coordination between the different branches was much more fractured than anyone liked to admit.

“Or which agency. Just because he flashed a Blue Sun sign doesn’t mean he’s working for 妈妈 青日Māma Qīng Rì,” Anatoly said smugly. Anatoly considered the possibilities. The guy could be an agent of the Covert Operations Agency or the Bureau of Investigations; and there were other Alliance government agencies as well, that maintained investigators. The Bureau of Taxation and Revenue, for example, and the Illegal Narcotics Interdiction Agency, not to mention various branches of federal law enforcement. Local law enforcement could also be conducting a sting, and one shouldn’t forget the far reach of the Parliamentary Operatives, who were given carte blanche to do as they pleased. They had been known to disguise themselves as any of the above, and even as Blue Hands. But Anatoly kept his thoughts to himself.

“Oh,” Boromiro said, his face clearly expressing, huh, hadn’t thought of that.

“Could be a Fed. Government agents have access to certain Blue Sun signs and codes. Low level ones are more commonly known than you’d imagine.” Boromiro couldn’t imagine anything. He was so unimaginative.

“Huh. Okay, so some agent of some unknown branch of government or Blue Sun has been tracking this ship or monitoring this ship….Any idea for how long?”

“Can’t tell you that. If I did I’d have to shoot you,” Anatoly answered with a smirk. Truth was, he hadn’t heard that bit of information. He hadn’t really heard the other part, either, Boromiro had, but Anatoly had already so thoroughly appropriated the information that now he believed he’d gathered it when he was setting up for a recent elite conference. They’d shooed him out of the room before they got down to brass tacks, but he’d drawn his inferences from what they’d been saying before they banished him. He was smarter than they realized, putting it together for himself. But he couldn’t resist the urge to speculate, and yank Boromiro’s chain a bit more. “Swear you to secrecy?”

Boromiro nodded.

“Pinky swear?”

这是什么 Zhè shì shénme, Anatoly!”

“Just messing with you. But you can’t tell anyone. I think the guy’s been tracking them for months.”

“Oohh, like a sleeper agent!”

Anatoly hadn’t considered that possibility. Wow. But he played it like Boromiro was being ridiculous. “Don’t be stupid, Boromiro. This isn’t James Bond. Far more likely the guy is just a monitor. He reports to his handler on a regular basis.” This was pure speculation on Anatoly’s part; he had no basis whatsoever for saying that.

Boromiro was actually impressed. Anatoly was more in the know than he’d figured. But he didn’t let on, and fixed a clueless expression on his face. “I wonder who the handler is.”

“Well that’d be pretty simple to figure out, wouldn’t it? Just check out who the guy communicates with on a regular basis. One of them is the handler.”

“He wouldn’t be that dumb, would he? Just call up his handler?”

“Why not?”

“Wouldn’t he use a dead drop? Or pass a secret coded message through a third party?”

“You’ve been watching too many spy shows on the cortex, Boromiro,” Anatoly scoffed.

“Don’t knock it! Lots of those spy shows are written by ex-agents!”

“Fiction, Boromiro. They make stuff up. They’ve spent their whole careers deceiving the public. Why should they stop after they retire from service?”

* * *

*

*

*

glossary

顽固 wángù [stubborn]

老板娘 lǎobǎnniáng [boss lady]

该死 Gāisǐ [Dammit]

废物 fèiwù [crap, rubbish]

我的天啊 wǒ de tiān ā [my god]

屁眼儿 pìyǎnr [asshole, bastard]

垃圾 lājī [garbage]

小妹妹 xǐao mèimei [baby sister]

疯了 fēngle [crazy]

代號 Dài Hào [Code name]

哦天啊 Ò tiān ā [Oh god]

毒害 dúhài [poison]

毒气 dúqì [poisonous or toxic manifestation of spirit (Buddhism)]

废物 fèiwù [crap, rubbish]

射线光 shèxiàn guāng [ray of light]

凤凰座 Fènghuángzuò [Phoenix]

麒麟 Qílín [Chinese unicorn]

瑞 ruì [serenity]

妈妈 青日Māma Qīng Rì [Mother Blue Sun]

这是什么 Zhè shì shénme [What the hell]

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COMMENTS

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 11:52 AM

BYTEMITE


Fun watching Saffron check in with both her employers. Heh, collections.

The two wannabes are interesting characters. In a way, comical, because of all their posturing, almost hard to even consider a threat. And yet they want to be Blue Hands, and they know what all goes into that, without any squeamishness.

Friday, February 15, 2013 12:05 PM

EBFIDDLER


Well, I always have fun writing Saffron. She doesn't pull her punches.
The Blue Hands wannabes are sort of sinister-comical. They're not wearing the gloves yet, and they still act human, so they're just not as creepy as the flat-affect Blue Hands who've appeared elsewhere. Yet. We'll be seeing a bit more of them in this story.

Friday, February 15, 2013 6:09 PM

NUTLUCK


Hmm so was Mal imagining Book or was River playing the part of Book in his mind?

Monday, February 18, 2013 7:55 PM

EBFIDDLER


Oh, Book was in Mal's imagination, Nutluck. "Book" in this scene says what Mal doesn't want to say to himself. He's down in the dumps, and Book's voicing the more hopeful thoughts that he doesn't want to acknowledge at this point because it would wreck the completeness of his down-in-the-dumps-ness. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but hey he's depressed, and depression isn't cured by common sense. And yet part of him knows that he's wallowing, this black pit he's lurking in is of his own making, and that he has the ability to get out of it, if he works for it. "Book" is the part of his mind that insists on pointing this out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 8:39 AM

NUTLUCK


Oh I know thats what "Book" was doing, but that is also something I could see River doing. I mean she knows what Mal is thinking and what he would like to say, so it would be easier for her to play the part of Book in his mind. :)


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