Bitter Spice - Chapter One
Friday, December 30, 2005

A story of revenge and deception, starring the woman of many names, Saffron. Or Yolanda. Or Bridget. Or whatever it is this week.


The container stank.

It was half-filled with garbage, so it was not surprising. It squelched and crunched underfoot, making for an unstable surface to stand upon. And with the lid closed and locked shut, the heat was as oppressive as the smell. All in all, it was not the most ideal environment in which to attempt an escape.

The woman known to some as Saffron, and to others by so many different names she could fill an address book, screamed her frustration out loud again, and scraped a lump of greasy gunk from her face. She looked as if she had been wading through a ton of garbage for an hour, which, not so coincidentally, was the case. Her reddish hair was matted with who knew what, and some if it had begun to soak into the legs of her trousers as well. She bit back another sob, refusing to give in to such weakness again.

Damn that bitch! Saffron cursed to herself, and desperately looked around yet again for something, anything, that would get her out of her current predicament, and soon. Damn Reynolds! “Húndàn!” she yelled out loud. Swearing at the causes of her current uncomfortable situation was better than just fuming in silence.

That she had been outmanoeuvred, again, by that idiot captain was bad enough, but by the Companion too? And outsmarted by the whole crew? The whore must have been lying about that... she could not have been tricked by all of them, surely? Even the big oaf with the wandering hands?

Must’ve been a lie, she told herself, trying to make herself believe it. I haven’t lost it that badly! No, the bitch had been messing with her head, and she had almost believed it. Not that she was in a better position as a result, but she felt better about it.

Just, y’know, not much.

And now all she had to do was get out of the trash container before the Feds arrived. Before another angry husband got hold of her and sent her to a place that might make the container look heavenly. Thoughts of being locked up in some vile prison loomed large. And there were worse things that could happen, too.

Okay, so maybe Durran was not quite as bad as the evil portrait she had painted for the crew of Serenity, but she would not get away lightly, however much the fool claimed to still love her. The punishments handed down on Bellerophon were stricter than most. And that was if Durran did not intervene somehow and propose an even harsher sentence. Hence the desperate need to escape as soon as possible.

No sooner had she begun to fastidiously rummage through the rubbish at her feet again that another noise began to intrude through the thick metal of the container. Saffron paused to listen and then stood suddenly in fear, banging her head on the lid above her. Resisting the urge to swear loudly, she glanced around her, eyes frantically searching, the sound outside increasing in volume all the while.

It was the whining of engines of a Federal Police enforcement skiff.

Okay, she acknowledged to herself, so I’m not getting out of here before the Feds show up after all. What can I do instead? Saffron smiled suddenly. Use my two favourite weapons – deception and seduction. She quickly took stock of what she had to hand and a plan followed soon after.


Officer Hanson stepped out of the skiff, narrowing his eyes a little against the glare of the sun and the flashing lights on the roof. His grey uniform was a mite too warm for desert duty and he pulled at the collar with a finger, trying to make himself more comfortable. Fortunately, the light was dimming as afternoon came on, which meant it would get cooler too. And then freezing cold.

“Why the guay are we out here again?” Thompson complained loudly from the other side of the still-hovering police vehicle. Thompson always complained, and in the desert he was bound to complain more. His less than athletic figure, he had explained on the journey over the sea, meant that he would “positively melt” in the heat. Hanson wished he would, if only to keep him quiet.

“Mr Haymar had a break-in,” Hanson explained to his partner as calmly as he could. “The thieves escaped apparently empty-handed, but it is believed they dropped the loot-“ Hanson loved saying loot; it sounded much more exciting “-into the garbage, especially since this container is here, in the middle of nowhere, instead of at it’s designated reclamation site.”

Just down the dusty slope stood the container in question. It looked unremarkable in itself; only it’s presence far from Bellerophon Rapid Reclamation Inc.’s island dumping ground was strange. There were reports of a ship interfering with the drone pickup point under Mr Haymar’s estate, but no one had paid enough attention to be able to identify the class or anything remotely useful.

These rich types might run the Alliance, the tall Fed officer frowned, but how they do it when they can’t see past the end of their noses is beyond me.

The question was: had the criminals been and gone? Mr Haymar had been assaulted by one of them, and in the time it had taken him to regain his senses they could well have escaped with whatever it was they had taken. Naturally, Mr Haymar was keeping quiet about that; he wouldn’t want anyone knowing just what had been stolen from him.

He had seemed strangely reticent about the whole affair, actually. Hanson had to wonder what was going on under the surface, if anything. There was always something with these people. Affairs, scandals...

“What’s that noise?” Thompson asked loudly, interrupting his partner’s thoughts. He was squinting at the container and scratching his head. Hanson gave him a look that said shut up so I can listen and strained his ears. Then he heard it.

Someone was banging on the metal walls of the container. From the inside.

Hanson got there first, of course, with his wider partner puffing up behind him. Close up, the banging was loud and unmistakable, as was the voice they could only just hear through the tiny gap between the walls and the lid.

“Is someone there? Hello?” The voice was clearly female, and on the verge of breaking completely from all the shouting it’s owner had probably been doing. “Please, get me out of here! Please!” The voice descended into sobs.

“Madame,” Hanson began, puffing up his chest for his unseeing audience, “this is Officer Hanson of the Federal Police. Who–“

“Wode tìan!” the voice exclaimed as a frantic scrabbling was heard within. “Officer? You have to get me out of here!” The woman’s voice rasped slightly, her throat no doubt raw from all her yelling. The tips of fingers became visible through the tiny gap under the lid.

“Madame,” Hanson started again, “who are you?” He was not just going to open the container because she said so. She could be one of the thieves, abandoned by her associates. Next to him, Thompson kept standing on tiptoe to try and see in through the gap.

“Jessica Ricks,” the hidden occupant replied, her voice sounding a little funny. She’s holding her nose! Hanson realised. “Ai ya, it stinks in here! Who knew we threw away so much... smell! Honestly, you’d think I’d get used to it after being in here so long, but every time I move... urgh!”

“Ms Ricks,” Thompson butted in, “why are you in there?” Hanson sighed; why could his porky partner not let him do all the talking? He always had to interrupt. Hanson was senior, he did the questioning. That was the way it worked. Or it should have worked that way, only Thompson could not resist interrupting a perfectly good interview with his inane questions.

“Oh, two of you come to rescue me! Xièxie nî! Those... ruffians grabbed me on the way to their ship, took me hostage!” Ms Ricks sounded indignant. “Can you believe it?! I was just doing my job, working on the catering, carrying plates of food for the party, when this nasty, smelly man grabs me and drags me away!”

“The robbers kidnapped you?” Thompson had a way with stating the obvious, which was another reason why Hanson preferred he keep quiet.

“Of course they did!” Ms Ricks responded caustically. “You think I’d be dragged away out of choice?! Him and his ugly hussy of a partner threw me into their ship and then they left me here! In all this garbage! After they... manhandled me!” The woman’s voice caught ever so slightly as she recalled this particular indignity. “If they’d had more time... Tzao gao! I dread to think what they would’ve done to me!” There followed some quiet sobbing.

“Ms Ricks, we will have you out of there in but a moment,” Hanson told her firmly. “If this override works,” he continued under his breath. It sounded as if the caterer had had a very bad experience, and he did not want to add to it by having her stuck in her foul confinement any longer than she had to be. Fortunately, BRR Inc. had provided them with a device that would crack the locks and open it, should they need to. About the size of a comm unit, it was covered in buttons on one side. Supposedly, if he hit the right combination the container lid would release... which could take hours. If it worked at all.

“What is taking you so long?” Ms Ricks inquired after a few minutes of frantic button-pressing. She was sounding slightly better than she had before.

“It may take a while, Ms Ricks,” Hanson admitted, almost as unhappy of being out in the hot sun as she was of being locked up, knee-deep in refuse. “We don’t know the exact– Ah!” the Fed exclaimed as there was a loud clunk and the lid of the container began to slowly rise.

“Oh, thank God!” Ms Ricks cried out, and as soon as there was enough space between the lid and the edge of the container small hands grabbed the edge and a small female figure pulled herself over the side down to the ground. She was grimy with who knew what, pale features stained with some sort of slime and the tracks of tears marking clear paths down her face. Eyes wide with relief looked at the two officers with undisguised gratitude. Her hair was tied back under a silken scarf, blue with white flowers.

At almost the same time she did, the two Feds suddenly noticed she was also wearing only her underwear. Ms Ricks blushed bright red and tried to cover herself up.

“They didn’t want me escaping,” she explained sheepishly. “And the... the man wanted a better look at me!” Her voice rose sharply with each word and at the end she covered her face with her hands, before quickly trying to cover up her assets again. Truth be told, Hanson was seeing little more than what he had seen on any beach on Bellerophon, but clearly Ms Ricks was not happy with showing that much skin herself, and certainly not to strangers and law enforcement officers besides. He did not have the heart to tell her that her hands did not seem to be large enough to do a sufficient job.

Thompson, for his part, was ogling her like a boy who had just seen his first lingerie catalogue.

Hanson looked down at the embarrassed woman and blinked a few times as he tried to chase his thoughts together into something resembling sense. It did not help that she was smiling up at him gratefully, her lips parted slightly as she breathed heavily.

“So, um, Ms Ricks,” Hanson tried, and cleared his throat. “Perhaps... Ai ya.” His hands reached up to his collar and he began to unfasten his uniform jacket. “I’ll have you... er, covered in a moment, ma’am,” he explained. Won’t that be a shame, came a random thought. No, he chastised himself, be professional!

“Oh, thank you Lieutenant!” the woman gushed, her enthusiastic speech having a distinct and noticeable effect on certain distinct and noticeable parts of her. “I find I’m suddenly very cold after being locked in that oven for hours!”

Thompson, luckily, was still incapable of speech. Hanson might have been forced to shoot him otherwise.

“Is there anything you can tell us about these criminals, Ms Ricks?” Hanson asked, not correcting her promotion of him. He tugged his jacket off and handed it to her; she accepted it with a sigh and slipped it on, pulling it tight around her.

“I feel almost civilised again!” she beamed. “Not like those thieves and kidnappers! From the Border Worlds I’d say, to judge by their accents and personal hygiene. How they got onto the grounds without anyone literally smelling a rat I’ll never know!”

“Where did they go?” Hanson pressed her.

“How should I know?” She looked surprised. “I was in the container when they left!”

“Did they not say anything about where they were going on the way here?

“They grabbed me, dumped me in the back of their shuttle and flew out of there at top speed!” Ms Ricks frowned. “They must’ve done all their talking in the cockpit. The man, tall, dark hair, a bit like you, Lieutenant, he came back after we had taken off and made me undress at gunpoint! He– he put his hands on me!” The woman’s eyes began to fill with tears and she hugged herself tightly. “Then they landed, got whatever it was they were after out of the container, and threw me in there, laughing all the while!” Ms Ricks’ expression grew angry. “Ruffians! Tyen-sah duh uh-muo!”

“Don’t worry,” Hanson assured her gently, “we’ll catch them. They won’t get far, and then they’ll face justice for what they’ve done.” She looked so grateful it made his knees weak. Try as he might to be wary and professional, the officer could barely hold it together, instead wishing he could impress her with some amazing act of deduction like on the dramas on the Cortex. He swallowed and looked to Thompson. “Get on the radio, call this in.” The look he got back was venomous, but the larger man turned to go back to the skiff nonetheless.

It was at that point that things happened very quickly.

Hanson had enough time to see a slim, athletic leg whip up and catch Thompson in the small of his back before his vision turned all grey and dim. His partner hit the ground with a loud “oof!” and Hanson realised his coat had been thrown over his head just as a small, hard fist caught him right in the gut, winding him.

As Hanson staggered, struggling for breath, he heard Thompson begin to complain before he was cut off by a very solid sounding thunk. As the coat slipped off his head, Hanson found himself staring at the beautiful but grimy woman from the wrong end of Thompson’s sidearm.

“Men,” she said derisively in a harder voice than before, shaking her head. “You’re all so predictable. I could play you both like a dulcimer all day long.” She smiled. “Night night!” she told Hanson brightly.

Everything went dark.


With the second Fed slumped unconscious at her feet, Saffron sighed. If such was the quality of Bellerophon’s law enforcers, she and Mal could have walked out of Durran’s estate dissuading pursuit merely by the fluttering of her eyelashes and a flash of cleavage.

I can’t believe I’m complaining about these Feds not being professional enough!

After prodding both officers with her feet, she was satisfied they really were out for the count, so she cuffed them with their own restraints and stripped them of anything useful. Then she returned to the trash container.

Her boots would wash off, as would the simple, red jacket. Her top was all but untouched, as it had been protected by the jacket. The trousers had it worst of all, though. They were stained by the filth she had been forced to wade in by that witch. Glancing back at the Feds, she gave them an nasty grin they would have shuddered to see, had they not been forcibly snoozing.

It was easy enough to remove their trousers, and with a great deal of belt tightening and rolling up Hanson’s fit her well enough. The trousers of the unnamed fat man, who had all but slobbered over her, she threw into the container. It was lucky it was late in the day; if it had been morning, the two officers would have been in danger of getting the backs of their legs horribly sunburnt.

Shame, Saffron lamented. They would’ve had red legs to go with their red faces. She grinned. Obviously Durran had not told everyone just who had come to rob him, or they would have known to be on the look out for her. How embarrassing, to be robbed of your prized possession by your supposedly long-lost wife. Not that she had the Lassiter anymore... Her face fell.

I wonder how sunburnt Reynolds is by now... That thought chased away thoughts of failure. He won’t be able to sit down for a week!

The Fed skiff had a couple of water bottles stowed in the cabin, so she used one to clean her boots and get the nastiest of the surface muck off her jacket. Now she would look respectable enough to travel around without raising too many eyebrows or alarms, but she would need to change in any case.

Most of her gear for the job she smashed against the side of the container and carefully scattered the pieces in amongst the rubbish. That left her with a scant handful of platinum, a few pieces of jewellery, and the smelly clothes on her back.

She had started a job with a lot less before and succeeded readily enough. All she had to do was get off the planet... and find Reynolds and his crew.

“And then, sweetie,” she told her distant husband determinedly, staring up at the orange-tinged sky, “we’ll see who wins the next one.”


Friday, December 30, 2005 3:05 PM


This story begins as the episode ‘Trash’ ends. The idea for doing this came from a question I asked Christina Hendricks at the Starfury Squared convention: do you think Saffron escaped at the end of ‘Trash’? The consensus from the guests was a definite “yes”. But, Nathan Fillion asked, why did she not turn in the crew of Serenity? So she could get her revenge on them, of course!

Saturday, December 31, 2005 1:32 AM


It's always interesting to see what happens to the other characters in the series. Of course Saffron(or whoever) could escape this way.

Sunday, January 1, 2006 2:35 PM


Thanks for this, I loved it. It's just what would have happened. Can't wait to read more.

Monday, January 2, 2006 12:23 PM


YoSaphBridge! I'm crazy 'bout this sexy lunatic. Thanks for bringing her back in all her (momentarily) stinky glory. And of course she gets the drop on -all- the boys in .5 as usual, that's my girl. I hope she'll be sportin' some cunning new lipstick as soon as she gets cleaned up. Thanks Rel, can't hardly wait for more.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006 12:04 PM


*whoop!!* go yo-saff-bridge!!!! well, not really, 'cause, y'know, she's gonna try an' kill our heroes...nice work Rel!!!



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Bitter Spice – Chapter Two
Saffron makes a move or three. Makes new friends, meets old ones.

Bitter Spice - Chapter One
A story of revenge and deception, starring the woman of many names, Saffron. Or Yolanda. Or Bridget. Or whatever it is this week.

Reaver Attack! Entry - Reaver Hit Not Myth
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