BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

EBFIDDLER

ENDS WITH A HORSE (12) Part (05)
Friday, March 1, 2013

Mal waves the buyer, Simon does surgery, and Ip dissects Inara’s relationship with the Captain.


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ENDS WITH A HORSE (12)

Part (05)

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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)

Mal waves the buyer, Simon does surgery, and Ip dissects Inara’s relationship with the Captain.

* * *

Dealings on Core planets always made Mal uneasy. Gave him a sense of being trapped, like a rat in a maze. The urban setting, the tall buildings and narrow streets like a corral—fence you in so you can’t hardly see the sky. The streets all crawling with Feds of one sort or another. The sensors and cameras he knew were trained on him from the moment he hit dirt. When he was ashore in the Core, his Ident Card sat like an armed grenade in his pocket, ready to explode in his face if anybody stopped him for any reason and ran it through a scanner. Defeated Browncoat, internment camp inmate, Shadow native, bound by law on numerous occasions. It was nothin’ short of a miracle that he’d never been convicted of anything. Any one of those things would be reason enough for the Feds to harass him, and a few—an outstanding warrant, for instance, or word getting out about his role in the Miranda broadwave—would get his 屁股 pìgu hauled off to jail. All those things might easily be discovered should the Law stop him, demand identification, and run his Ident Card through a scanner.

That’s why it was so tempting to use his fake Ident Card while in the Core. But that wasn’t possible this time. The legitimate cargo he carried, the shiny legal contract with “Malcolm Reynolds” writ on it in bold letters, required that he do business on Bernadette under his own real name.

The cargo was perfectly legal, but nonetheless Mal had an uneasy feeling about it. That fine and upstanding company Holden Brothers had hired him to carry a perfectly legal load of Beaumonde manufactured goods, with papers on it and tariffs pre-paid. He also carried Ip’s science experiments and some custom-made lab equipment to be delivered to Harcliffe University, both completely legal and above-board. Perhaps there really was nothing to worry about. Of course, there also were some bags of illegally exported timonium crystals from Bandiagara that he had yet to fence, and likewise there was the illegal corporate spying part of the Holden Brothers deal, but Buck Holden had purposely kept Mal in the dark about that. He didn’t know what the secret was, where it was hidden, or even what to look for—all he knew was that this time, the buyer of the legal cargo was also Buck Holden’s contact about the surreptitious part, and would presumably know what to do about the whole gorram cloak-and-dagger business.

Rambod al-Siddiq didn’t look like the cloak-and-dagger type. Well-to-do businessman, enterprising individual, the kind who was active in the local Chamber of Commerce. Not a Fed himself, if Mal was any judge, but the kind who cultivated a good relationship with the Feds, and used it to his advantage. Not the type to have much sympathy for an Independent like him, and most definitely not the type to have any truck with a smuggler and thief. Accordingly, Mal was dressed, not in his customary brown uniform trousers, earth-tone shirt, and suspenders, but in what he thought of as his “Core-going” clothes: blue button-down shirt and charcoal grey trousers with a belt. He needed to make the right impression—that is to say, a completely misleading one.

“We’re about nine days out,” Mal informed him. “Should break atmo next Thursday. What coordinates would you like us to deliver to?”

“Shinjuku Spaceport, of course,” Mr al-Siddiq replied. “Once you’ve settled up with Port Authority, contact my office, and my representative will supervise the unloading onto local transport.”

“Oh, right, understood,” Mal acknowledged, trying to hide his surprise. He’d thought that with corporate secrets hidden somewhere within the cargo, al-Siddiq would have come to the spaceport himself, to oversee the transaction personally. “So I won’t be meeting with you, then?”

“I’ll contact you myself,” al-Siddiq responded, “once you’re on the ground. Mr Holden gave you the highest recommendation, and I’m interested in engaging your services on behalf of Siddiqui Enterprises, if you’re not otherwise contracted.”

“We might come to an agreement.” Mal raised his eyebrows—there were circles within circles, apparently, with all of Holden’s cloak-and-dagger nonsense. Still—the spying part aside—the cargo was perfectly legal, and the pay was good. Buck was seeing to it that he got his way paid both to and from the spying drop points, and if he was going to play courier in this corporate spy game, had to say he preferred a cover story where he was a well-paid successful freighter captain, rather than a scruffy, down-at-the-heel cargo-hauler who could barely make ends meet.

“Good. I’ll arrange to have an invitation sent to you.”

An invitation? To what? Some kind of shindig? Apparently the Bernadettiens had a different way of doing business than folk on Rim worlds like Whitefall. All of Patience’s business “invitations” had come along with bullets, at no extra charge.

“Sounds straightforward enough,” he said, reaching to hook his thumbs under his non-existent suspenders.

“Of course. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“No reason I can think of,” Mal replied, trying to sound easy and genuine. “See you in the world.” He cut the connection and fell into a muse.

* * *

“You’re nearly as bad as the Captain, you know,” Simon remarked, as he prepped her knee for surgery. Zoe was lying on the infirmary table, fully conscious, while Simon administered a spinal block and began the surgical repair. “The swelling is down a bit, good enough for surgery, but not as much as I’d have expected, given that the injury occurred a week ago. But you really haven’t been resting.”

Zoe’s only reply was a lifted eyebrow, but it was enough for Simon. “I was hoping you would actually keep off the leg entirely for two or three days, and spend more time resting it in an elevated position. You’ve been rather active, shall we say, since the injury occurred.”

Zoe gave a tiny smile. “Well, Doc, there was the matter of a certain 贱货泼妇 jiàn huò pōfù needed keeping in line.”

“You’re in no condition for physical confrontation, and you know it,” Simon retorted with physicianly authority. He relented somewhat. “Still, if it were the Captain in your position, I suppose I would have had to sedate him or put him in restraints to get him to keep off his leg at all. Perhaps I should be grateful for your powers of self-control.”

“Only thing that kept me from murdering the 他妈的 不要脸 说谎者 tāmādē bùyàoliǎn shuōhuǎngzhě and spacing the body.” Zoe kept her eyes on Simon, who for his part, kept his focus on the surgical procedure underway out of Zoe’s view, beyond the drape.

“While that would have been a satisfying short-term solution, I have to agree with the Captain that it doesn’t solve the problem in the long-term.” Simon paused. He lapsed into silence for a time, and focused his attention on the procedure he was performing. Some time later, he added, “The Blue Hands are relentless in their pursuit.”

He wondered, sometimes, if Zoe blamed him and River for Wash’s death. Had he and his sister not taken refuge on Serenity, doubtless Mal would have continued with his obscure life of smuggling, low-key theft, and petty crime, for the most part avoiding the notice of the authorities. His and River’s fugitive status had brought unwanted attention to the ship, and made it much more difficult for Captain Reynolds to fly under the radar where he liked to be. Simon didn’t have a personal basis for comparison, obviously, not having been there before he came aboard, but he had gathered as much from little comments made by the others. Jayne’s evident glee at the more frequent dust-ups. Inara’s complaints, mostly directed at the Captain, that they no longer stopped at civilized planets where she could conduct her business. Even Wash himself, with his delight at having his flying skills more frequently challenged. Until the final test, the crash-landing that Wash handled so skillfully, a successful outcome with no loss of life—until the Reaver harpoon pierced his chest and severed his aorta, and not even timely and expert surgical skills could have saved him. They never would have been in such a position—chased by a fleet of Reavers, in possession of the Alliance’s dirty secret, anywhere near Miranda—had he and River not come aboard. Wash would still be alive, and looking forward to fatherhood. Zoe would be happy and—

“I’m so sorry, Zoe.”

“What? Somethin’ wrong with the knee?”

“What? Oh, no. The knee’s fine,” Simon blathered, before regaining his surgeon’s cool. What was this? Wool-gathering while performing surgery. He ought not to not let his mind wander, but the procedure was so straightforward he had allowed himself to do so. “Actually, the procedure’s going very well. The damage to the anterior cruciate ligament is less severe than I was anticipating.” He resumed placing interwoven microsutures in the ligament, and the confident surgeon was back in charge.

* * *

“S.O.B?” Zoe inquired incredulously. “Who’s an S.O.B? And—I really can’t believe you wrote that in your medical records, Simon.”

Simon glanced down at the screen, puzzled. He had inadvertently opened Jayne’s medical record, instead of Zoe’s. Zoe really shouldn’t be reading over his shoulder, but she couldn’t exactly move away, since both her legs were still immobilized by anesthesia. He hadn’t taken the precaution to block her line of sight to his screen, seeing as he had merely to notate in her chart the successful outcome of her knee surgery, of which fact he had already informed her. “Oh, sorry, Zoe, that’s Jayne’s medical record.”

“Doc, I know you two don’t always see eye to eye, but ain’t that a bit…well, vicious?”

“Vicious?” Simon was confused. He looked at the record. Under the heading “Jayne Cobb,” subheading for the detonator accident leading to cardiac arrest, he’d written the standard abbreviation for “shortness of breath,” and then a straightforward note to follow up on Jayne’s levels of creatine kinase, muscular form. What was—? Oh. That. He chuckled as he re-read the abbreviations. “S.O.B. F/U CK-M.” It indeed looked like he was out to get Jayne.

“Oh, 胡扯 húchě!” Zoe laughed, when Simon explained the medical shorthand. “So who said the medical profession don’t have a sense of humor? You really weren’t kidding when you said you had funny stories about bein’ a doctor.”

Simon smiled, and filled in Zoe’s chart. “Arthroscopic repair, type 3a tear of the right medial collateral ligament with Grossman interwoven suture technique. 105 semi-absorbable MediRex sutures. Minimal blood loss. Adequate hemostasis. Open time 17 min. Spinal block placed via L2-L3, 10,000u buffered habbicaine over 21 min.,” he wrote, by way of a surgical note. More verbose than his usual, prompted by Zoe’s admonishment, but definitely briefer than he might have written back on Osiris, with coding specialists and potential auditors looking over his shoulder.

“You’ll need to use the crutches again for a short time, Zoe. I’m afraid you’ll have to stay in the passenger dorm again until it’s safe to go up and down ladders.”

Zoe nodded. She wasn’t looking forward to sleeping away from her own bed, but Simon was right. She couldn’t manage the ladder in her bunk, six months pregnant and with a knee that didn’t work.

“You’ve got to keep the weight off it for about a day. Then I’ll fit you with a brace again, and we can begin mobility therapy. We’ll ask Inara about using her bathtub, to do non-weight-bearing exercises to increase range of motion and strengthen the muscles.

Zoe acknowledged, then pursued their earlier line of discussion. “So you agree with the Captain that Saffron’s got partners elsewhere as would come lookin’ for her if she went missing.”

“How else would she have acquired all those electronic devices?” he responded, as he checked over the record of her vital signs and transferred it into her chart. “Kaylee told me that the kind of gear she had is not to be found in your standard Border world electronics shop.”

Zoe shrugged. “Could be workin’ for the Feds.”

“Could be,” he agreed. “But if she were, why wouldn’t the Alliance simply board the ship and arrest us all? What’s the point of harassing us and sneaking around like that? I mean, as you point out, you wanted to kill her. Why put herself at risk like that?”

“Captain’s right that she was up to something.”

“The question is what, isn’t it?” He closed Zoe’s case file, and turned back to the first mate as an insight struck him. “River had an idea that she was installing some kind of Trojan horse software.”

“She did? Why didn’t she say so?”

“She tried. River’s been…well, you’ve seen it. Her brain’s so scrambled after the Blue Hands used the safeword—”

“They did?”

“Yes. One of them said part of the phrase, before Ip distracted the guy he recognized, and River seized the opportunity to break his neck. He never finished speaking the phrase, but it seems that hearing even part of it has an affect on River. Anyway, she tried to tell me that she suspected Saffron was installing malware, specifically a Trojan horse virus.”

“Why didn’t you tell the Captain? Or me?”

“Because I really didn’t understand what she was saying. I’ve only just now figured it out.”

Zoe was silent, thinking.

“You and the Captain and River were on the bridge looking for malware. Did you find anything?”

“No. But it seems to me we’d stand a better chance, knowin’ what we’re lookin’ for.” Zoe tried to sit up, before she remembered that she couldn’t go anywhere in her current condition. “Doc, will you call the Captain, and tell him what you just told me?”

* * *

“She told me, ‘Gotta see a man about a horse.’ I think she meant to tell you to look for a Trojan horse virus.”

“But she never told me that,” Mal said.

“She was exhausted. The effort of remaining coherent long enough to make that realization wore her out. I remember taking her to her room, right after she said that. I settled her in, and she fell asleep immediately. I suppose she didn’t follow-up on it with you, and I didn’t make the connections.”

“Still doesn’t give us much to go on.”

“You know it’ll be masquerading as benign software,” Simon corrected.

“You done any software updates recently, sir?”

“I downloaded the navigational updates right after we left Beaumonde, Zoe,” Mal replied, “but that was before Saffron was even out of the box. Don’t see how she coulda worked that to install a Trojan horse. I went straight to the Space Traffic Control cortex site for them, same as usual.”

Zoe gave the Captain one of those silent looks that Simon couldn’t read at all, but Mal clearly understood it, because he replied, “We’re headed to Bernadette, Zoe. The gorram Core. Controlled space traffic the whole way, soon as we pass Santo. No way I would forego nav currency. All’s I’d need is to be in the Core, and get busted for not havin’ up-to-date nav software on a routine traffic stop. Would ruin my day.”

It would do much more than ruin his day, Simon guessed. Zoe clearly understood the fuller implications of the Captain’s statement, for she held Mal’s eye for a long second, nodded, and said, “Understood, sir.”

* * *

Ip knocked politely on the shuttle door and waited for an invitation to enter. He enjoyed occasional conversations with Inara, but it was rare that they had a tête-à-tête, and even rarer than he should seek her out for that purpose.

Inara answered the door with an expression on her face that was clearly meant for the Captain. She immediately reconfigured her features, but her surprise was evident.

“I’m afraid I interrupted you,” Ip said.

“Your visit is unexpected, but it doesn’t follow that it’s unwelcome,” Inara responded, with her customary good manners. Her graciousness had returned, and she invited him in, saw him seated on her sofa, and began preparing tea without even asking if he wanted any.

He was obviously troubled, and wanted to talk. Whether he were in need of counseling or simply needed to unburden himself to a sympathetic listener, Inara was ready. Mal, despite their differences lately, had warned her that she might expect such a visit from Ip, and even without the heads-up from Mal, Inara could see for herself that Ip was still rattled by his close call with the Blue Hands on Beaumonde, and that dealing with Saffron and an edgy crew afterwards hadn’t helped him much.

She was a trained counselor, after all—it was part of her education, yet another thing that differentiated Companions from common sex workers. She had noticed that Ip startled easily, that he lacked his usual good humor and positive outlook, and that contrary to his custom, he had avoided the public areas of the ship. She suspected that his redoubled enthusiasm for pursuing his experiments had more to do with distracting himself from troubling thoughts about the Blue Hands than it had to do with the quest for scientific knowledge.

She tried to put him at ease with polite and inconsequential conversation, dropping in subtle hints while she waited for him to give an indication of what direction the unburdening would take. Ip sat, and sighed, and drank the scalding hot green tea rapidly like the Bernadette native he was, but he missed cue after cue, and finally Inara asked, “What can I do for you, Ip?”

It wasn’t what she expected. “Inara, you know the Captain better than anyone.”

“You think so?” she asked with genuine surprise.

“Yes, of course, you’re his…” He hesitated, as he cast about a moment for the right word. “…爱人 àiren.” Inara opened her mouth in silent exclamation, but Ip continued without remarking it. “Look, I know you all think I’m about as clueless as a lamp post when it comes to human relationships, and generally I am, but even I noticed you and the Captain were a close-knit couple, on my very first journey on Serenity. I’ll admit when I first boarded the ship, I assumed he was your client, but it wasn’t long before it was obvious, even to me, that he treated you like you were his wife. And you never treated him like a client. Now, I know you’re technically not married yet,” Ip barreled on, without noticing how flustered Inara was becoming at this dissection of her relationship with Mal, “but I figure that’s just because he hasn’t yet gone through the vetting process, right? I know that the Guild requires Companions who wish to marry to submit their suitors for vetting, especially if they intend to remain active in the profession.”

Inara gaped, trying to gather her wits about her for a response.

“So that’s why I’ve come to you,” Ip stated, as if it were an obvious conclusion from his preamble. “You see, I’m considering leaving Serenity for good, when we get to Bernadette.”

Inara was so flummoxed, by Ip’s unexpected assumptions, his succinct analysis, and his seemingly irrelevant conclusion, all delivered with the rapidity of speech customary among Bernadette natives, that she hardly knew what to say. “Leaving Serenity?” she managed.

“Yes. I nearly got killed, Inara. I watched River break a man’s neck. It’s…” He looked at the walls of Inara’s shuttle and shifted uncomfortably. “I ought not to stay. And yet I still haven’t accomplished my main purpose in being here. I haven’t managed to get the Captain to open up about Miranda. That’s a damn shame. It’s the whole reason I signed on to this ship in the first place.”

“Why?” she inquired cautiously, trying to keep any suspicion out of her voice. “What’s so important about Miranda?” She wanted to know Ip’s reasons. Did he somehow know that they had made the Miranda broadwave? Why was he so eager to talk to Mal in particular, about Miranda?

Obviously she had her own opinion of the significance of Miranda. To her personally, it was a watershed moment, and she suspected it was the same for the rest of Serenity’s crew. She had honestly expected the broadwave to have more impact on the ’Verse in general. In the lives of Serenity’s crew, the Miranda broadwave loomed in epic proportions, and part of her was disappointed that its impact on the rest of ’Verse had not been similarly epochal. They’d fought and struggled, they’d paid in blood and sweat and tears, and two of their number, and Mr Universe too, had paid with their lives to make that broadwave happen. They’d lost Book and Wash, and Mal and Simon had damn near died as well, just to transmit that message, and she somehow wanted the ’Verse to acknowledge the sacrifice, at the very least.

While she and the others defended the entrance, Mal had gone to make the transmission. When he did not return right away, it was clear that he had encountered obstacles, because he never would have left them to fend for themselves against the Reavers if he could have returned. It was no mere matter of waltzing down there and politely asking Mr Universe to push the “send” button. She remembered how she’d watched and waited, while the elevator remained unmoving, unmoving, unmoving, for so damn long, and she absolutely knew that Mal was in trouble. She wasn’t surprised (although she was still shocked by his appearance) when he returned bloody, beaten and stabbed, still standing only because he was too stubborn to lie down and give up. It was obvious that he’d been in a deadly struggle, but it wasn’t until the Operative spoke and commanded his soldiers to stand down, that she had any idea what or who Mal had been up against.

The Miranda broadwave had so much less impact than she’d hoped. Yes, it had shocked the system. There were protests—riots, even. Indignant demands for a recall of the entire Parliament. People asked questions and there were Parliamentary hearings. The politicians scrambled to investigate and assign blame and avoid personal responsibility for the debacle. Inara didn’t like to agree, but Mal’s cynical assessment (“the ’Verse wakes up for a spell, then rolls right over and falls back asleep”) had proved to be more or less correct. A number of politicians had lost their seats in Parliament in a wave of public outcry. A larger number of politicians had managed to retain their seats in Parliament despite the public outcry. And a certain number of politicians had taken advantage of the public outcry to realign themselves and seize positions of power that before they had only aspired to.

Inara knew how these political games were played. She had seen this world from the inside—had grown up in a household permeated with political maneuvers and deals, where unofficial arrangements were made, and every social occasion was merely cover for the sordid business of politics: the re-assortment of alliances and the distribution of power. There was a reason why she had developed such a distaste for that world. She’d left House Madrassa for an itinerant life to avoid it. She was so tired of being maneuvered into position in someone else’s chess match.

She’d grown up in this milieu, and had accepted it as normal when she was a child. As a young girl, she so admired her mother, a beautiful, elegant, intelligent and extremely successful Companion, who had retired merely to be the more effective in promoting her protégés. Inara’s father was selected from among the pool of her mother’s most successful protégés. There was true fondness between her parents—it was not simply a marriage of convenience—but as she grew older, Inara became aware that much of her parents’ success in marriage was based upon a successful political alliance. Romantic love had very little to do with it. The gilded world her mother and father inhabited ceased to be quite so attractive to Inara.

Still, she loved the nurturing aspect of Companioning—helping people, understanding human emotions and relations—and the profession was not a bad fit for her in that way. And although pleasing her parents, particularly her mother, had played a role in her decision to enter the Companion Academy, she was not unhappy with her choice.

Yet the ambitious aspects of it did not sit well with her. Some years after her debut as a Companion, after working successfully on Sihnon and becoming recognized as a rising star of the Guild, Inara was poised to become the next Priestess of House Madrassa. She was surprisingly young for such a position, and Inara had no doubt that the behind-the-scenes maneuvers her mother was so very skilled at had played a considerable role in placing her there. But that was also the point at which she began to appreciate the degree to which she was a square peg in a round hole. She’d been conforming herself to fit in with the world she had chosen, and as she aged, instead of growing smoother and rounder, her rough edges grew sharper and harder. She was a squarer peg than she had realized. And then there was the incident (or perhaps the cascade of incidents would be a better term) that led her to conclude that trying to fit herself into the round hole that had been so carefully prepared for her reception was a bad decision. Worse than bad. A grave mistake. She had abruptly withdrawn her candidacy for the priestesshood, announced that she was taking a sabbatical, and essentially fled Sihnon before anyone could stop her.

At first her friends and family believed she’d been overcome by stress. She’d had a breakdown, and she simply needed a vacation, perhaps a bit of therapy, and she’d get over it and return to them and her old life. Maybe she’d sent messages from a spiritual retreat center on Angel that tended to encourage this view. She had avoided contact with her friends and family until she’d officially severed her connection to House Madrassa and established herself as an independent member of the Guild. In short, she was already renting Mal’s shuttle and conducting her business from Serenity, before she let any of her family know what she had done.

They weren’t pleased. Particularly her mother, who had invested so much of her energy in her daughter’s success. They could barely speak civilly to one another, and their communications were infrequent and formal. Inara’s new family on Serenity was unaware that Inara had any living relatives, for she never mentioned them.

“Tell me, Ip,” she said, for he had not yet answered her, “about your interest in Miranda. Why is it so critical that you talk to the Captain about this?”

“Because the captain has been there,” Ip answered. And he outlined what he knew about the place. It was a Blue Sun subsidiary company, of course, that had done the original terraforming on Miranda, some decades ago. Miranda was promoted as a brave new world, peaceful, idyllic, and utopian. Parliament had approved a special system for the terraforming of Miranda, to make it unlike any world previously opened for settlement. Unlike those many wild and dusty Rim worlds where settlers were landed with a few supplies and a herd, and left to make their way in a rough pioneer existence, Miranda was promoted to the Core population as a high-tech world, with all the comforts of Core civilization, only with the advantages of fresh air, open green space, and no crime. The advertisements showed gleaming modern cities set in a beauteous landscape.

Inara nodded. The picture he painted matched the physical environment she and the crew had encountered when they’d been there—if one discounted the utter lifelessness of the place—and proved that at least some aspects of the advertisements were no lie. But why had the Alliance developed such a high tech world in the Blue Sun System, so far out from the Core? What was the purpose of this far-flung outpost?

Ip continued with his tale, and told her a bit more about how his work at Blue Sun had intersected with what happened on Miranda.

Oh my, she thought. 仁慈的佛 Réncí de Fó. Ip was right. Mal had to hear this.

* * *

*

*

*

glossary

屁股 pìgu [ass]

贱货泼妇 jiàn huò pōfù [cheap floozy]

他妈的 不要脸 说谎者 tāmādē bùyàoliǎn shuōhuǎngzhě [gorram shameless liar]

胡扯 húchě [shut up, get out]

爱人 àiren [wife, lover]

仁慈的佛 Réncí de Fó [Merciful Buddha]

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COMMENTS

Friday, March 1, 2013 7:07 PM

NUTLUCK


Wait had to hear what? That wasn't a nice place to leave it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 6:27 AM

EBFIDDLER


Well, you'll get the complete download from Ip in the course of this story. Much will be revealed. Thanks for comments.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 12:28 PM

BYTEMITE


> Perhaps there really was nothing to worry about.

Mal. Self-Delusion doesn't suit you. You know better.

Nice little talk with Zoe and Simon. It's fun to explore the relationships of characters that Joss didn't really have a chance to give a whole lot of moments. And yeah, medical doctors have a kind of dark sense of humour, I guess you kind of have to.

Ip is in top self-aware form I see - always so much fun to see how you've created an original character with his own quirk that none of the other characters have, that fits and has his own kind of interaction with everyone else.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 12:31 PM

BYTEMITE


Haha, and the way that conversation goes, all the jumps that are hard to follow. Comedy Gold.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 12:36 PM

BYTEMITE


And the intriguing end line, no wonder nutluck wants to hear more.

Sunday, March 3, 2013 10:07 AM

EBFIDDLER


Cliffhanger curtain line. I thought it was a good place to end the chapter. (*Ducks and covers head*)
Mal occasionally deludes himself, and has hope that things will go well. They never do, do they? And what kind of plot would I have, if they did?
I liked writing a scene just for Simon and Zoe. Don't see that often enough, in my opinion.
I'm glad you enjoyed the comedy with the OC. I thought it was funny.

Monday, March 4, 2013 6:07 AM

BYTEMITE


Mal used to be an optimist. Sometimes that side still surfaces in all the cynicism.


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