The Operative Series - Inara
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Third installment in the Operative Series. The title says it all.


As always everything belongs to Joss. All of these are written in chronological order, but can be read as stand alones (only vague references to other installments). Ratings are shiny, comments are shinier!


Intro -

Inara sighed, pulling her shaw tight around her shoulders as she stepped outside. It wasn't so much cold outside, but there always seemed to be a pervasive chill in the air no matter where she went. Breathing deep she watched the changes in the ion cloud as the sun set behind it. Like the aurora borealis from Earth That Was, the sky shimmered as the sun grew closer to the horizon. The constant humming and crackling of the atmosphere seemed to mellow into shades of greens and yellows. Once it set there would be only flickers of the constant electrical storm that never reached the surface. The night sky jarred her, but twilight comforted. Leaving the MedCen (where only proper food available was offered at virtually anytime), she headed away from the service bay where Serenity was slowly healing from her battle wounds. It only took Inara two days since arriving that she found her a secluded spot where the lights of the Alliance wouldn't interfere with her meditation and communion with the lights in the sky.

With so much to absorb and sort through she was grateful for the time afforded from being temporarily stranded. It gave her an easy excuse to ignore any one of the many unknowns that seemed to be pushing in on her from all sides. It gave her an ironic sense of freedom to have this time. Any other place in the Guild's easy reach she would have found herself surrounded by well meaning, and not so well meaning, peers either offering comfort or subtly fishing for clues of the past month. Well meaning or not, neither would have afforded her the privacy and such a sheer expanse of time to really think. And with the Miranda broadwave she was sure that in any of those numerous places in the 'verse she would have found herself in some uncomfortable scenes of reckoning. She sighed realizing that uncomfortable reckonings are usually unavoidable.

Perhaps it was the anxiety behind any kind of reckoning. The Guild and the Alliance will have to be dealt with at some point of course. But there was also the oddness in this new relationship with Mal. Even during the worst of his reckless adventures, they could always fall back on the old definition based on "mutual business arrangement." It was another easy excuse she constructed in her life. With a start she realized that maybe there have been too many easy excuses in her life...

"No, not yet. Push that from your mind." she thought to herself. She knew it was a weakness to not confront this new insight. Training told her it was an opportunity to understand herself better (and thus better understand her clients needs). But there were more easy excuses to use that would get her away from that confrontation (I'm too tired to think on it, and the sun is setting which is always calming for me, and why should I let such thoughts distract me from what helps keep me centered? Think on Book and Wash instead...). It was more painful to think about them, but they were thoughts that didn't scare her as much. It hurt to think on both of them and just their names would instantly bring their images to her mind. She could still hear their voices, the laughter and conversations. Even those times when Mal managed to drag them into danger, she could only remember the qualities which made her love and admire each friend. She walked along a path that was just starting to develop from her evening ritual, wearing a small smile and tears on her face.

The scene -

She sat on a rock, her knees pulled close, skirt draping her legs and watched the sky. Hearing footsteps approach she wiped her face and sat up straighter. Half expecting Mal, she gave a start and stood quickly when she saw a familiar silhouette.

"Ms. Serra... I was hoping that perhaps I could speak with you..?"

Recognizing the man, an image immediately came to her mind. One she could not erase and had not yet found the courage to share with anyone. Intellectually she knew it was triggered by a fear association from recognizing this man, but that didn't diminish its impact. It was blurred and made up mostly of impressions and maybe a bit of imagination. A face violently leering over her: flesh sliced open, skin peeled back with barbs of metal exposing the tender fatty tissue below. Blood shot eyes, unfocused. Breathing, snapping, wanting to bite and eat, droplets of blood and saliva sprayed her face. It was a loop in her mind, that face and the sudden disappearance of that face. She knew it was Simon shooting that destroyed man-turned-Reaven that saved her... but it bothered her that she couldn't remember the sound of the gun firing. A split second is all it took for all of this to pour through her mind. She opened her mouth with a quick and angry rejection already forming...

"Please..." he said. Her Companion training won through and recognized two things: it was the exact same tone as when he once said "... it is finished... we are finished," and that the voice was so broken saying those words. She knew that it takes courage to act from that level of pain. It was ingrained training for her to naturally want to comfort those in pain, but that didn't stop her from from being angry at herself for wanting to reach out and comfort him despite what he did. So it was with anger and curiosity that she nodded her head, lips pressed tight, eyebrows furrowing in distaste.

"I know that I am the last person you would want to speak with... that last person anyone would want to speak with. But I want to give you something, knowing that you are the best person to have it."

"I'm not interested in anything you have to give."

"I understand that. But it is not for you to keep. It is for Malcolm Reynolds."

She laughed bitterly saying, "Captain Reynolds is less interested."

"Which is why you must accept it. I know that no one on Serenity's crew would ever want to see me again. And I do not want to be seen. But that may not matter."

Her eyes narrowed. "That almost sounds like a threat."

"No threat. Captain Reynolds, though he may never admit it, is an honorable man. Honorable men do not seek out conflict, but they are also not easily swayed from doing what is right when circumstances are hard. And that is usually where conflict can most easily be found." He paused for a moment, letting his words take effect. "Take no offense, but I hope that this conversation be one made in vain. Not because you deny my request, but with the hope that you never need to use what I wish to give." Sighing he looked to the sky, watching the sun shoot its last desperate rays at the horizon. "There may come a time, sooner than either of us may believe, when Captain Reynolds will need more than a holo found on a dead planet to disarm the Parliament. When that day comes he and I made need to talk." Looking to her, he extended his hand offering a holo.

Inara stood dispassionately looking to him then the holo. Not reaching for it she nodded towards his outstretched hand and asked, "And that is the means to find you, should he ever want to talk to you?"

"Not precisely, but it will make the search easier."

She nodded. "And how do you know he won't use that to get the Alliance off his back? That kind of information will become valuable before long."

He smiled a sad almost wistful smile. "He might, if he got it before he realized that it might be more valuable for his use instead. Which is why I need you to take this. With your training and your experience with Cpt Reynolds, you will recognize when he will be able to see that for himself."

She matched his smile, only hers was laced with vindictiveness. "And how do you know that I won't use it, just because you deserve it?"

He seemed disappointed with this question, though not surprised. Lowering his voice to almost a whisper he said, "Because you would rather protect him than seek revenge. There are too many easy excuses in life do what is safe." Inara's eyes snapped up from the holo to his face in surprise. "What I ask is not an easy thing for you to do and what I'm giving is not easy to give. While I hope I'm wrong, I would rather do what is hard than what is easy."

The light growing dim did not obscure his observation that at some point during his response Inara Serra grew alarmed. Pursing her lips, she reached out and took the holo. With nothing left to say he nodded, bowing his head, took two steps backwards, turned around and walked away.

Conclusion -

Inara sat on her rock, turning the holo slowly in her hands. How easy to break it... one pinch and it would snap in half. She watched the night overtake the last of the fading light from the horizon. Sparks flew overhead in the night sky as the ion cloud danced its timeless waltz of electricity. She stood, wiping the last tear that was trespassing on her cheek. Holding the holo gingerly she made her way back to Serenity with a firm decision to not make any more easy excuses.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:05 PM


I liked this one, although there were a few tense issues that made it harder to read.

I think it's interesting that the Operative would give Mal via Inara something to help track him down at a later time. Could you be hinting at a longer story, perhaps? Now, that would be interesting ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:29 PM


This one actually makes sense of you not doing a chapter with Mal and the Operative. After all they had that final scene together in the film. And by going to Inara he is also implying a connection between the two that is somewhat fragile in Inara's mind. She has after all been hiding her true feelings from Mal for so long and the truth scares her because of its' ability to make her exposed and vulnerable to emotions over which she has little control. I just hope the holocube is not a poison chalice in disguise but somehow I don't think so. I very much like the sound and style of the Operative, it is so very accurate. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 4:40 PM


I'm looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, April 19, 2007 1:08 PM


Oooh...foreshadowing perhaps? Cuz that would be all kinds of ultra-shiny, ECAmber;D

Definitely loved what you did with Inara and the Operative here, ECA. The Operative is right that Inara is the only person amongst the remaining BDHs who has the training and the ability to subjugate her emotions long enough to get a horrid task hang on to a valuable piece of data from an enemy. Also, having these two figures - who, in essence, had the most growth within the movie concerning their points-of-view - have this kind of restrained verbal duel is definitely quite Whedonesque in that it provides no easy answers or solutions, but offers up the complexities of making painful decisions for the greater good;D


Sunday, April 22, 2007 11:19 AM


Very well written chapter, and conveyed the tension between Inara and the Operative perfectly. It's interesting, because we don't generally see Inara in that state of mine, so you really just have to guess if you're writing her like that, so well done!


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