Located below the streets of the Eavesdown Maze, Badger’s office is filled with all manner of what he calls antiques. Cargo netting hangs from the ceiling suspending barrels and boxes. A pin-up girl adorns one wall, advertising protein bars. Badger sits in a worn-out leather chair behind a desk made of wooden crates. His desk is cluttered with junk, such as an old red stapler, an old metal scale, a worse-for-wear CB system, wire baskets stuffed with colorful paper, and a strange-looking hammer, among other stuff. Badger’s a man who collects antiques – at least that’s what he calls them – junk from the Earth-That-Was.
Badger wears his usual bowler hat, a shabby suit, no shirt, a vest, and a tie. He sports a fancy pocket-handkerchief and a dusty plastic flower in his lapel. He stands as the woman enters his office. She doesn’t seem to finch at the five large goons lurking around the office.
“Good afternoon, miss.” Badger said with a forced grin. “Welcome to my den.” His tone was less than welcoming.
She was leaning against the doorframe leading into the office, her body language suggesting seduction. She was wearing a custom fit billowing white blouse and a knee-length skirt of blue silk. Although her head was cleanly shaven, it did nothing to detract from her good looks. In fact, Badger found it somehow erotic. He swallowed hard as she stepped out of her high heels and sauntered over to one of the armchairs in front of him., Despite her elegant clothes, she settled into the chair like a little girl would, curling her long legs up underneath her.
After several seconds passed, Badger realized he was staring at her. She simply smiled back. He cleared his throat, and sat down, somewhat nervously adjusting his tie. In the end, she finally broke the silence.
“I’m happy that you decided to meet with me.” Her voice was a purr.
Badger sighed, his mouth becoming an annoyed frown. “Your invitation was irresistible.” He glanced at one of his men.
Her voice turned suddenly cold. “With the guns you and your friend are carrying, you’d think I was some sort of monster.”
“You are a monster,” he said, working to keep his voice level. “An Alliance spook, without remorse or conscience, that creeps into the bedrooms of small children in the middle of the night.”
The woman looked at him thoughtfully and shook her head. “If that is the case, sir, then perhaps you should stay on my good side.”
Badger glanced at her for a moment, dropping his eyes slowly. He looked across the surface of his desk, and simple smiled the smallest amused grin.
“In any case,” her voice still cold as ice. “My name is Asante. I represent the interests of Mister Masunori Yatsumoto. We are interested in discussing recent dealings that you had with a mercenary who operates a rogue Firefly Transport Ship.”
Badger raised an eyebrow. “I do business with a lot of gits that might call themselves mercenaries.” He laughed. “And half of them float in on a Firefly. Hell, everyone’s got one.”
Asante leaned forward slightly. “This particular mercenary is a Browncoat war hero. Highly decorated.”
“Malcom Reynolds,” Badger snorted. “Hardly a war hero.” He leaned back in his chair. “That twit just came in a few hours back trying to sell me Federal goods. Foodstuff, obviously stolen. Probably from a derelict ship or something.”
She laughed, her eyes sparkling. “Benjamin Clemson is the man I’m looking for, Badger. He operates a ship registered under the name of LIBERATION. He recently attacked a cruise liner and killed several innocent people. Then he infiltrated a Federal laboratory and absconded with confidential information.” She paused for a moment. “Information he might be looking to sell.”
Badger frowned. “Don’t sound like something Clemson would do.” He drummed a finger on the top of his desk. “Think you got the wrong man.”
“I doesn’t matter what you think, little man.” She slowly uncurled from the chair, standing up. She smiled a little when the goons all shifted and adjusted in reaction to her movements. “You will tell me everything you know about Clemson.”
Badger laughed. “This is my gorram den. And you come in here demanding and threatening.” He stood up, withdrawing a small energy pistol from his vest. His goons followed suit, leveling their weapons at her. “I don’t take to stranger coming into my place of business and telling me what to do!”
She laughed, and took a step back from the desk. “I’m just here to remind you where you are on the food chain, Badger.”
Badger cast a pained look at Asante. He never lowered the pistol. “I know what the message is, Asante,” he said, shaking his head. “But you haven’t told me why you’re sending it.”
She walked toward him slowly. The goons followed her with their rifles, but Badger raised his hand.
“We don’t want your loyalty,” Asante said. “We demand it.” She stopped in front of him and stroked his chest lightly with her finger. She smiled at him, a smile evenly divided between seduction and menace. “We want you to remember that you’re prey. We want you to be afraid of the dark again.”
“Not happening,” said Badger. His voice cracked as he spoke.
“We’ll see.” That was all she said. She turned slowly, and sauntered away. It took several seconds for the men to uncoil and relax.They were all momentarily dazed by the woman’s audacity.
“Find Clemson.” Badger scowled and turned angrily to one of his men.”Now.”