The flat looked to be adequate, even very comfortable. Kaylee decided to stay until the Opening of Parliament, if only for the parties. ‘I want lots of dresses and fripperies. Lots.’
Mal laughed and kissed her. ‘You’ll be the belle of the ball every time.’
Hiro gave her guidance on where to find the best deals on clothing. Fortunately, Londinium ladies bought readymade rather than having dresses custom tailored. And Perseus’ little wife was right, turquoise was the preferred colour this season. Brown was almost as popular and Kaylee found a handsome formal day suit in brown with a turquoise top and lining.

Mal’s appointment to the Trade and Transport Committee went through with no problems. Hassan was right about the workload, Hiro gave him over twenty documents immediately, telling him that there would be backgrounders on anything he needed more information about.
‘And if you need information on any of your Committee colleagues, just ask. If I don’t know how the Member thinks and votes, I know someone who can fill us in.’
One name jumped out at Mal immediately.


The head of the Committee was Atherton Wing of Persephone.
’Need anything, Member?’
‘Just recognizing an old …. can’t say friend. Acquaintance.’
‘It’s good to have people you know when you start new projects.’
‘Mebbee. But Ath here tried to kill me over a woman. And I tried to kill him right back. Stabbed him. Three times.’
‘Ath?  Ah, Lord Atherton Wing. If you’d allow me to pass that story around, you will find you have many new friends. On all sides of the House. And most of the Senate.’
’Popular guy, our Ath?’
‘He’s married five times. Can’t seem to keep a wife, even an obvious gold-digger like the last one. And when she divorced him, she didn’t even ask for what the pre-nup guaranteed. Just filed and left.’
‘Back in the day, he got banned by the Companions’ Guild.’ Mal smirked.’ Proud to say I had a little to do with that.’
‘Banned by the Guild? They wouldn’t publicize that. Hmm. That may be useful information at some point. Can you give me anything more?’
‘It was on Persephone, after the duel he and I fought. Inara Serra was the Companion who got him banned.’
‘What for?’

‘Basically disrespect.’
‘Nothing more kinky? Well, the gossip will take care of that. Would Mistress Serra be willing to speak about the ban? Even if she denied knowing anything…’
‘Nara died many years ago. She was a very dear friend to all our family. Travelled with us for some years.’
‘Oh! That Companion! The one who took a pirate lover and ranged the Black with him fighting Reavers and upholding the cause of Independence.’
‘I ain’t no pirate! An Nara was a supporter of the Alliance, mostly, anyways.’
You were  The Captain….,’ Hiro, usually so calm, glowed with hero worship.
‘Where did you get this story anyways?’
‘There was a program on one of the edge waves. ‘Outlaw Companion’. I loved it. It was pretty old by the time I found it. They flew a Firefly and there was a crazy crew, a gorgeous mercenary and a flakey mechanic who was in love with her, and the pirate and a missionary doctor who was always getting himself shot, and a girl pilot who was some kind of savant.
‘But the Companion was the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. She’d take an appointment then her crew would rob the john blind or free all his slaves or stuff like that. Sometimes the client was a good guy and they would help him,or her, with a problem. Here, I can find you a picture of the actress.’ Hiro enthusiastically punched into the Cortex which showed a picture of a stunning woman,  in tight leather pants, spilling out of a lace bra, but with metal greaves and arm protection. She wore thigh high boots with 10 cm heels and carried a bow and quiver of arrows.
‘Huh. They got the bow right. Nara was pert good with a sword too. Useless shot and couldn’t throw knives worth shit. Them’s terrible fightin clothes. Break an ankle on those heels. An she weren’t blonde.’ Mal’s hands moved as if stroking a kitten.’ Black hair, black as …the Black. Brown eyes you could fall into forever.’
‘The meeting is the day after the Speech from the Thrones.’
’Trade and Transport?’
‘An good ol Ath. Should I let him know we’ll be working together?’
‘Probably not a good idea, sir. But you should let Leader Hassan know, so she isn’t caught out.’


About femmefan1946

Retired professional writer and editor. Nominated for an Aurora Award for work on CAN-CON 2014, which concentrates on introducing new and aspiring writers and artists to agents, editors and publishers.
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