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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
She broke the Guild rules, and now people are paying for it. More to come, but let me know what you think, good ro bad.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1141 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal stared. “Is this …” He couldn’t form the words for a moment. “They took her child?”
“It’s Guild law, Mal.”
“She signed the contract, as we all did.”
“So you thought they were right? You heard all that and you thought they were right?” He couldn’t believe it of the woman sitting next to him.
“I was seventeen, Mal. Still training, still being formed to be a Companion.” She stood up, needing to move. “Ever since I started the preparation, it was drilled into me to follow their rules. To believe that the Guild Law was right.”
“And you still do?”
“Things … changed.” She turned from him, staring into the hangings on the wall over her bed.
“What? What changed, Inara?”
She turned to face him, her skirt swirling out. “I came on board this ship!” Her voice was loud, less the Companion and more the woman. “I fell in love, Mal. With you!”
“And that would have … they’d have done this to you?” He was appalled.
“No,” she admitted, moderating her tone. “Not at first. But if we’d … if I had taken you into my bed, and they found out, I would have been called before the Guild Triumvirate, invited to explain myself.”
“What, leave me or else?”
Inara sighed and fell onto the sofa. “More or less. I would have been recalled to Sihnon, my travelling privileges revoked, put to work in some menial capacity for a while until I had learned my lesson.”
“And if you’d said no?”
“Mal …” She looked across at him. “I know you don’t understand, and perhaps that’s my fault. I’ve never explained these things to you.”
“Then it’s time.”
“I can’t.” She shook her head. “Not that I won’t, but I can’t. So much of it is woven into being a Companion that it is difficult to pull that thread loose.”
“You’re talkin’ in riddles, Inara.”
“I can’t be any clearer.” She looked down. “That’s what happened to Medori. Someone found out and reported her to the Guild. They gave her a second chance.”
“And she took it. Stayed a Companion.”
“It’s all she’d known, Mal, and I can understand it. To be left with nothing … you have to be so sure of the love you’re going to, and maybe she wasn't.”
“Like you weren't sure of mine?” he asked softly.
“No, I wasn't.” She sighed. “For whatever reason. Whether it really was Freya between us all that time, or just my career, I wasn't sure of yours.”
“You could’ve asked.”
“So could you.”
“Seems like we’ve danced this one before.”
She nodded. “It seems we have.” She looked away from him now, into the darker recesses of the shuttle. “Only with Medori, he found her again …”
“Medori?” Inara stood outside her door, still trembling. If she was found here, if anyone saw her breaking the rules, she could be punished.
“Inara?” The other woman spoke from inside the room. “What are you doing here?”
“I heard, Medori. You’re pregnant.”
“How did you …” There was the sound almost like stifled laughter. “You’ve been listening at keyholes again?”
“There wasn't a keyhole,” Inara insisted. “But I heard.” She glanced up and down the corridor, terrified someone was going to come along. “What are you going to do?”
“There’s nothing I can do, Inara. The rules are very straightforward. They have the right to my child.”
“But that’s awful!”
“Perhaps.” There was a sigh. “Of course it’s awful, Inara. If it was a slap on the wrist then it wouldn’t be a deterrent, would it?”
“But has it ever happened before?”
“Look in your books. It has, just not very often.”
“Why did you let it happen to you?”
“Oh, Inara. You don’t let love happen, you embrace it.”
“But I thought –“
“That I’d turned my back on him? You’re right, I did. And I have had to live with that for so long. But he found me, Inara. He found me!” There was joy in her voice, as well as sadness.
“Why did you let yourself get pregnant, though?” Inara’s youth balked at the idea. “It’s so easy to –“
“I wanted to.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Inara, if you ever find a man you truly love, who means more to you than being a Companion, than anything in this damn ‘verse, you’ll see. I wanted to show him how much I loved him, so we created a child together.”
“But you knew they’d take it.”
“I wasn't supposed to be here for them to find out.” Her voice was so low Inara had to strain to listen. “He was supposed to come for me, that night, and we were going to leave. I don’t care if I get shunned – that doesn’t matter. But he never came.”
Medori laughed bitterly. “I don’t know. I’ve not been able to find out.”
“I could –“
“No!” The older woman’s voice slammed through the wood. “You mustn’t. If you got into trouble because of this, I will never forgive myself.”
Inara huddled against the door. “But I want to help you.”
“Just become a good Companion, Inara. And if you ever find yourself falling in love, fight it. Until it’s too late.”
“Please, let me –“
“No. You’d better go. They’ll be coming to check on me soon.”
Inara stood up, smoothing her dress. “What was his name?” she asked. “Alexander, I heard that much. What was his last name?”
“Go, Inara.” Her voice trailed off, as if she’d walked away from the door.
“I never saw her again. The news of Medori’s confinement spread like wildfire through the Training House, until everyone was talking about it, so they had to make a special announcement. The head of the Triumvirate came, told us all at breakfast one day. She explained that Medori had broken the cardinal rule, and would be dealt with accordingly.”
“Dealt with?” Mal still found it hard to take in. “I thought … you know, it appears to me that these so-called civilised planets ain’t no more civilised than those on the Rim. At least there it’s honest slavers take your kids. Not …”
“Not what, Mal?” Inara asked, feeling guilty anger heat her blood. “And since when did you consider slavery honest work?”
“Since never.” He took her hand. “But this is worse.”
“But you’re still a Companion!”
“Mal …” Her voice had turned to pleading, and Mal took a deep breath. This wasn't getting them anywhere.
“I'm sorry, Inara. I shouldn’t be so hard on you. It’s just … what they did to her, whoever it was … gorramit, she’s just a kid.”
Inara nodded, understanding his frustration. “Mal, this is my life. It’s what I chose. It’s what I wanted with all of my heart. In a way, the rules are there to make prospective Companions think twice. If they can’t be bound by them, then … we train for so long, every opportunity is given to change our minds … and some do. But being part of the Guild is such an honour …”
“’Nara, I just can’t get my head around this.”
“I know. And I wish I could explain it better.”
“Do you think it was the Guild did this?”
“No.” Inara was positive. “There’s no need. They have recourse to other channels, there would be no need to hurt someone like that.”
“But if she was causing problems –“
“Mal, we don’t even know yet if it is Medori’s daughter.”
“But she had the baby?”
“I so wanted to help her,” Inara admitted. “But I couldn’t. She was right, there was nothing I could do. Four months later the leader of the Triumvirate reported that Medori was not to be spoken of again, that her child was now a ward of the Guild, and the matter was at an end.”
“Just like that.”
“This ain't the way people should do things, Inara.”
“It’s Guild law.”
“That don’t make it right.”
“Maybe not,” she conceded, standing up and smoothing the unshed tears away from her eyes. “Would you mind leaving me? I have to …”
He stood up. “Course. Get yourself together. I have to see what my engineer’s done with my ship anyway.” He headed for the door.
“He died,” Inara said, not turning around.
“Who?” Mal looked back.
“Alexander. I went onto the Cortex, did some checking after I’d spoken to Medori. I worked out when it would have been, and looked it up. There had been an accident that day. A shuttle crashed. The man who died was called Alexander.”
“I never told her. I was too afraid to go back. She never knew he didn’t abandon her.” Her back was so straight it could have been made from steel.
Mal stared at her a moment longer, then nodded and left the shuttle, intending to just make sure Freya was okay before going to see Kaylee. Just to check.
Freya was beginning to doze, her head dropping onto her chest, when she heard a sound. She looked up, into the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. They were the colour of new mown grass, and right now they were filled with confusion. The girl tried to sit up, but the casts on her arm and leg meant she jarred the incision in her stomach, and she fell back, those eyes closing in pain.
“Hey, it’s all right,” Freya said. “You’re safe. Just lie still. You are safe.”
The girl looked at her again. “Who …” She ran a dry tongue over her swollen lips.
“Freya. My name’s Freya.” She leaned over and picked up a cup with a straw waiting ready. “Here.”
The girl sipped, wincing as the cracks on her cheeks pulled, but watching Freya closely. “Thank you,” she whispered, dropping her head back as if it weighed too much.
“You’re welcome.” Freya smiled.
“Where am I?” Her voice sounded as dusty as the desert outside.
“On board a Firefly. She’s called Serenity.”
“How did I …”
“We found you.” Freya corrected herself. “The captain found you. We brought you back and our doctor fixed you up. You’re going to be fine.” She leaned forward, stroking the girl’s forehead. “Can you tell me your name?”
“Well, hi there, Grace,” Mal said from the doorway, smiling. “Good to see you’re awake.” He stepped inside. “I'm Captain Malcolm Reynolds. This is my ship. And in case she hasn’t mentioned it, that’s my wife sitting there.”
Grace’s eyes flickered to Freya, who smiled. “Hadn’t quite got around to telling her the whole crew’s life stories, Mal.”
Mal nodded. “Do you feel strong enough to tell us what happened?” he asked her as the girl’s eyes danced back to him, piercing him to the core.
Simon hurried into the infirmary, pushing past the Captain. “Someone should have told me my patient was awake.”
“She’s only been conscious a couple of minutes,” Freya explained softy. “That’s your doctor,” she said to Grace. “His name’s Simon. He can be a bit of a tyrant sometimes, but he’s a good medic.”
“I'm not a tyrant,” Simon interjected, examining the bags still hanging on the stand. “I just like to be kept informed.”
“So, Grace, what happened?” Mal asked again, moving closer.
Grace tried to wriggle back, crying out as the pain from her injuries flared in her.
“Mal,” Freya said warningly, standing so she could put her arm around the girl’s shoulders.
Mal stopped. It was obvious this girl was scared of him, and the look she was giving him from those incredible eyes was disconcerting him, too.
Simon, adjusting one of the drips, lifted his head. “Did you hear Bethany crying?” he asked.
Mal glanced at him, tearing his gaze from the girl. “No, nothing.”
Freya was talking softly to Grace. “It’s all right. No-one’s going to hurt you.”
“He did,” Grace said, pointing at Mal, then clutching at the cast on her left arm.
Simon looked from her to the Captain then back. “You remember that?”
“I can see the memory.” Grace’s battered face was pale beneath the bruises.
“See it?” Simon repeated.
“Broke my bones,” the girl moaned. “Crack.”
“Grace,” Freya said gently, making her look round. “We had to. They were setting wrong. If we hadn’t, they would have healed crooked.”
“Still hurt me.”
Freya looked at Mal, and he saw blood at her lip, and on her shoulder, more pouring from a gash across her swollen, distended belly. He shook his head, blinking hard. As he reopened them, Freya was staring at him, no blood, her stomach as flat as ever.
“Mal?” she asked.
“What the diyu was that?” he muttered.
Mal was further jolted by Inara behind him, saying, “You’re awake.” He turned to look at her, all elegant and poised, smiling softly at the girl.
Who sat up as much as she could, despite the pain, and shouted, “Where is she?”
Simon grabbed a hypo, about to sedate her, but suddenly his face went white. He backed away from the medbed. “I have to – I can hear Bethany crying.” His gaze went from one to the other of them. “Can’t you hear her?” He ran from the infirmary.
“Where’s my mother?” Grace shouted again, a thin trickle of blood running down her chin from a split in her lip.
“I don’t know,” Inara said, taking a step backwards, into the arms of someone who held her, their fingers digging into her flesh. The man in front of her slashed the blade down her cheek, and she felt the skin part, blood running down her neck. She tried to scream, but no sound came from her throat as she collapsed to the deck.
Freya looked down at Grace, reaching out to her. “What are you doing?” she asked, standing on a green hillside overlooking a small stream, the sunlight softened by trees overhead. She looked down. There was a small grave, a simple marker at the head. Next to it was a dark, gaping hole, six feet deep and as long, ready to be filled.
Upstairs in his bunk, Jayne could hear the unmistakeable sound of Reavers. He knew this place was a trap – they’d broken in and were killing, raping, eating – well, they weren't gonna take him. There was screaming, tearing though his brain, but he couldn’t tell who it was. With sweating, shaking hands he loaded Vera.
Mal watched as Niska slid the blade between Freya’s ribs, her face contorting with the effort not to scream. He struggled with his bonds, but couldn’t get to her, couldn’t stop the violations.
“Such entertainment,” the old man said. “And I do not even touch you.” He smiled.
“Leave her alone!” Mal screamed. “God, please, leave her alone! She’s pregnant!”
“Yes.” Niska nodded and laid his hand in an obscene benediction on Freya’s naked, swollen stomach. “Is double the pain for you, yes?” He reached for the small black box his torturer was holding out.
Hank could see Zoe below him, leaning on the tree, talking to Mal. The sun was setting, shining into the bridge of Serenity, turning everything gold, but he could still see out. Zoe was laughing, something she didn’t do very often, bending over with humour at whatever it was Mal had said. The Captain was grinning, and they seemed so very easy in each other’s company.
The pilot watched as Mal put his hand on Zoe’s arm, stroking her. Hank shook his head. Not chatting now. Standing very close. He moved up to the window, leaning on it to see more clearly. Mal was touching her face. Touching her beautiful face. Pulling her around so he could kiss her. The Captain was taking advantage. But she wasn't resisting. In fact, he could see her hands moving up and down Mal’s back.
Zoe turned to Hank, hearing him moan, seeing his eyes fix on the ship outside as the harpoon crashed through the window, impaling him to the chair. He called out to her, asking her to help him, blood pouring from his mouth, but she couldn’t move.
Simon was searching the ship, hunting for Bethany and Kaylee. He could still hear the little girl crying, and it was tearing at him, hurting him more than all the wounds he had ever received. There was no-one. Serenity was empty, flying through the black on her own, no other person but himself on board. And he could still hear Bethany.
Kaylee heard him behind her, his dark brown voice removing all the strength from her muscles.
“You made a ruckus. And you know what that means. What I promised. I’ll take no pleasure from it, but I know a lot of ways of making your last hours like you wish you’d never been born.”
Kaylee couldn’t stop him. She wanted to fight, to stop him from doing what he was doing, to stop him from taking away something she held most precious, but she couldn’t even say no.
River staggered through the cargo bay, fighting all the images crowding in on her, trying to take her over, all the hallucinations the crew were experiencing, and others. But she had lived with things that were not her own for so long, could ignore them a little as she pulled herself into the common area, seeing Inara on the floor, holding her face, Mal in the doorway to the infirmary, pressed back against the wall, tears on his cheeks, Freya …
She was reaching out, slowly, as if moving through fast flowing water, but she took hold of the young girl’s face, turning it towards her. “Grace,” she said, her voice tense, holding together by a mere whisper as her mind told her they were burying Mal. “Stop this.”
Grace’s green eyes gleamed maniacally, then she sobbed, breaking down into Freya’s arms.
Up in his bunk Jayne lowered Vera from beneath his chin, feeling the ache in his trigger finger. Zoe and Hank looked at each other, their eyes wide. Simon picked up Bethany from her crib, while Kaylee wiped the tears from her face on the back of her sleeve and picked up a wrench, slipping it into the long pocket on the leg of her coveralls.
“What was that?” Mal asked, staring at the young girl, Freya holding her, whole and safe, not bleeding, dying.
“She’s psychic,” Freya said, so glad to hear his voice.
“I didn’t mean …” Grace looked up. “I'm sorry!”
“She doesn’t have the control, Mal,” Freya went on, comforting the girl and smoothing her hair. “She’s never been shown how.”
“It was freed by stress,” River said as Inara got to her feet, feeling the soft, smooth, unblemished skin of her cheek.
“Stress?” Mal asked, still shaking from the hallucination, from seeing Freya die in front of him.
“From finding out about her mother.”
“She knows where she is,” Grace said, staring at the Companion over Freya’s arm.
“No, I don’t,” Inara insisted.
“She knows!” Her face screwed up again and Freya felt her grip on reality slip, the gaping maw of the grave with the others about to slide Mal into it …
“Grace, look at me,” she commanded, concentrating. “Look into my mind. See my control. Use it.”
Those deep green eyes were like a sledgehammer breaking through her barriers, laying everything bare, but slowly the mental touch eased, became less agonising, until it was a caress, and Grace relaxed. “I can see it,” she whispered.
“Mal, you’d better go for a few minutes,” Freya said, instant sweat making her shirt stick to her back.
“You gonna be okay?” he asked, not happy at all.
“Shiny.” She didn’t look away from the girl, but the slight smile on her taut lips was for him alone.
“Okay. I’ll just be outside.”
“Don’t go far.”
He stepped out into the common area, closing the doors carefully behind him.
“What the hell happened, captain?” Zoe asked, jumping down the steps from the cargo bay, Hank and Jayne at her heels.
“I heard Reavers,” the big mercenary said, not able to repress a shudder. “I was gonna …” He stopped, swallowing back the fear.
Mal looked at his crew, but no-one was going to make fun of Jayne this time. From the looks on their faces, it had happened to them all.
“It looks like our new guest is …” Mal looked at River, standing with her arms wrapped around herself. “What, little albatross? She ain't just a reader.”
River shook her head, staring at the door. “No. Not just that.”
“So what is she?”
She looked at him, her dark eyes holding indescribable emotions.
to be continued
Sunday, December 10, 2006 8:19 AM
Sunday, December 10, 2006 11:57 AM
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 8:31 AM
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