The Wages of Sihnon
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

rough cut - extract from unfinished fic


The landscape - swirling as it was around them, and under the vibrant sunset in a sky filled with shining kites and gliders – was truly idyllic, distractingly so. The neat arbour of plants, the lawns and small trees, the old stone walls – many of them derelict – the pools and ponds dancing with refractive water and the colourful bodies of tropical fish. Yes, it was distracting – which was presumably why The Priestess had invited Inara to walk through the grounds with her.
She knew Inara well, knew that the heady delights of the manicured nature about her could not fail to impact, knock her off balance, and move her emotionally.
Inara knew it too – her head swimming and aflame with every sense engulfed – and her ears - hearing for a moment only the splash of the water, the insects in the grass and the bees among the flowers - were slow to listen to the words being spoken to them.

“This is a time of… choices”, the Priestess was saying as together they strolled the neat and meandering path. “Many decisions are being weighed – and, do you realise that every action of every member of our Guild can affect the whole?”

Inara steadied herself, “In what sense?”

“For example,” there was a pause for effect, the Priestess had deliberately adopted the crotchety tones of an old school ma’am, “your idea to create a Training House in the rim – House Serra… or whatever you were calling it. And now – with the Alliance pulling back from so much of the Rim… They are wondering – would it be possible… a licensed Guild – licensed by us… but no longer regulated by them.”

Inara was shocked. “The Alliance would never - De-regulate? You mean CRIMINALISE – the Guild?”

The Priestess nodded, even as she gazed down at the rhododendrons. “That’s exactly what I mean.”

Inara kept her eyes on the other woman now. “That would never happen. Not now – we’ve come too far – our culture is…”

“Enlightened? I wonder Inara if you really grasp the reality of the checks and balances and – well, just the basic bribery, necessary to maintain such ‘enlightenment.” She accented her words by brushing the green fly from off the petals before her.

“But surely the Alliance approves of - ”

This was met with a snort. “The Alliance approves of control. Surely you are not so naïve Inara?” Finally the Priestess turned and faced her – looking into her eyes, tapping the ground with her cane. “What are the two elements in humanity – the two needs that the Alliance cannot readily meet – and for the lack of which people will rebel, riot… force change and revolution?”

Inara could feel herself becoming the pupil she had once been. It was a role she did not want – but could not easily cast off it seemed. “The Sexual and the Spiritual.” She answered dutifully.

The Priestess nodded. “Exactly. Between us – The Guild and The Priory – we serve to fulfil those needs… we are therefore agents of control. It is THAT which allows the Alliance a choice – instead of de-regulation, they can choose to actively support the Guild, that is YOU – legally, financially. Even as they pull back their men, their machinery – it is YOU that can become their resource for stability. If they decide.”

The woman turned once more to the flowers, leaving Inara to speak to her back.
“But very few are eligible to retain a Companion – only the very privileged…”

“Yes – only the very Good. But as for the rest – the rest can aspire, neh? Men can aspire to walk with a Companion – and women to become one. Again – that is Control.” And so saying she moved away and resumed strolling.

Inara was forced to catch up. “But we…”

“Enjoy what – freedom? Ha!” The cane waved into the air. “Our lives are coded, ritualised - we are machinery. We enjoy… luxury – perhaps… but it is the velvet cushion that gives lustre to a diamond watch. And a diamond watch has no concept of freedom – it is of course – a control device like any other.” She stopped quite suddenly again and Inara nearly bumped into her. Nearly but not quite – and to an external eye she seemed as poised and aloof as ever.

“Then why…?” she asked.

The Priestess nodded approvingly. “Because we DO have an opportunity now - for power – of a sort. The Alliance is weakened… the murder of Shepherd Book was a very bad mistake. The murder of Nandi likewise.”

Inara frowned. “Nandi who we – you shunned?


Inara’s frown deepened. “But Nandi was just…”

“A whore.” Hearing that word from the Priestess of all people, made Inara blanche. “Yes,” the woman continued, “as are we all.

Inara shook her head. “I disagree.”

The Priestess laughed hollowly at the anger evident in her ex-pupil. “Well my Dear, we can argue the semantics till we’re blue in the face – but that will not affect the politics of the current situation. Protection and Growth in the face of threat, THAT is my creed… my single aim. You would do well to bear it in mind.”

She was once again, walking now.

“And why?” asked Inara to the rapidly moving figure.

The Priestess did nt look round, merely raised her clear voice slightly. “It was felt… your association with Shepherd Book could be… exploited. Your experience of being in company with a member of the Priory – well that made you the natural choice for liaison. Or to choose someone from among your House who would do well, someone the Priory would accept.”



Saturday, February 23, 2008 5:18 PM


Brilliant, imaginative stuff, with a brilliant, imaginative title! 'Nuf said! :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008 9:40 AM



Wednesday, February 20, 2008 11:53 PM


gives thumbs up,very good,would like too see more :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 5:16 PM


interesting, wytchcroft

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 7:34 AM


Oh my gosh! I'm intrigued. That was a very interesting perspective. You must finish this!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 4:38 AM



That was EXCELLENT!! Well written, well woven...

I can't say enough how good that is.


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