The Wages of Sihnon pt 1
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Inara travels to Sihnon - meanwhile a mystery seems to be brewing. NEW FIC pt 1


(Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations by Joss Whedon, Tim Minear and the other writers of Firefly)

Preparations for a dance – part one:

Experience the beauty of Sihnon.

A typical tourism advert – it flared across the redundant minor monitors of the shuttle cockpit – the main screens were busy showing data, readouts, references and instructions from flight control. The windows – which had been dark from their Atmo- Solarised cloaking - were gradually revealing the reality of the world below.

It was a world that the pilot knew well. The white tipped mountains, radiant in the glow of the sunrise and the long undulating stretches of the Guild city wall, the ancient wall, the beautiful wall – topped with flags and crests and turrets and bustling along every inch with carts and rickshaws and pilgrims and merchants and traders and tourists and – the circling and unassailable wall.

So, the advert was unnecessary… but it played on nonetheless and it was not ignored and it was not insignificant.

Even as she eased her shuttle through the familiar gyrations of entry, twisting in through scarlet laced streamers of cloud – even as her hands moved expertly over the controls, brushing aside a silk scarf to crank the air brake mechanism beneath (there were tiny wishing bells woven around the handle) –

Even as she swore in violent Chinese at an oncoming joy-craft apparently buzzing the shuttle for fun –

Even as she followed directions to circle her shuttle around in a frustrating holding pattern –

Even in the midst of all of this… the advert played to her and the pilot listened – and as the pilot listened so she remembered – a kaleidoscope of memories and chaotic associations, triggered almost subliminally by the adverts inane narrative…

Experience the beauty of Sihnon. “Well - we’re all running from something I suppose.”

Seemed so long ago now – felt like just yesterday too… that she had been stood on the high walkways of the main bay of the Firefly transport Serenity, her home of sorts, trying politely to reassure the awkward young man stood next to her – and the unguarded words had slipped from her mouth. Why? Something in the tense and repressed emotionalism of the man that she had responded to perhaps – Or maybe it was the high jinks and high spirits of the crew below, hurling themselves around the loading bay with glad abandon, playing ball, laughing, wrestling, touching. Feeling.

“I’m not running from anything.” hadn’t she said that too?

Home to the Famous Companion Guild House,

“Control was the first lesson and the last.” Those words had been said firmly and to her friend Sheydra – yes, a friend and co-worker, administrator of the Training House on the moon where she had lived, that she had made her home, after – after Serenity – no, not after, in between or –

Sihnon is a beacon of civilisation

“I want to resolve this like civilised men” But that moon, a sanctuary of sorts – had been invaded – damaged – occupied by a smooth tonsil-ed killer and his boot heavy Alliance soldiers – the military stomping around the fragrant restful chambers and… Civilised men.

“You ready to get off this heap and back to a civilised life?” Serenity. Always back to Serenity – and her Captain. Malcolm Reynolds. Captain Malcolm Reynolds – staring at her from under the ragged edge of his fringe, staring at her and wanting… what exactly? “I don’t know.” “Good Answer.”

It wasn’t any kind of answer - but then gunpowder and frangipani was ever a volatile mix and so most of the time that they had known each other – Registered Companion Inara Serra and Captain Malcolm Reynolds – most of the time had been a wary dance.

Most of the time their spoken dialogue was simply a beat – a rhythm – an aide to the dance… Most of the time what he said or she said meant little…

“I learned something from Nandi,” she had said to him, “the family she made, the strength of her love for them… when you live with that kind of strength you’re tied to it – you can’t break away… I’m leaving.”

… Most of the time – but not all.

and a true wonder to behold.

“They love you, the girls” And again – worlds away – and another life – another her – and Sheydra smiling at her as they breakfasted together in the fresh air and light of the morning. “They’ve learned more from you these last months than the rest of us could show them in two years.”

So she had left them too.

Contact your Blue Sun Travel Agent

The men from the Blue Sun Corporation had ripped their way up and into the belly of Serenity. Their neatly gloved hands reaching to deliver the screaming form of the young girl River Tam, to snatch her up and away and gone. Inara had hidden herself away.

about exciting travel packages.

“I will get you where you want to be, and understand that’s not here. The red shirted arm had been raised, the wide hand spread out from the cuffs obscuring the face – the face that was in any case turned away. It was cramped and shadowed in that room, hot so the sweat near dripped from one person to another - from the body of River Tam huddled beside her, to herself, to… yet never had a room seemed so suddenly huge and the gulf between herself and the turned away face of Captain Malcolm Reynolds so complete.

A warning light flashed angrily from the shuttle controls and the insistent tones of flight control ordered the shuttle from its waiting station and down to land… to land on Sihnon… could it really be – had it always – all this time – was it still and had it ever been… really - home? …………………………………….

The Irritable Detective, climbing out of the taxi, stuck his hands back in the pockets of his quilted jacket and scowled furiously at the tarmac under his feet. Then he shook his head and the elaborate kiss curl of his black lacquered hair pecked forwards like an angry beak. “Same again?” he asked.

“Just the same”, replied his associate who had been waiting for him at the kerb. His hand made a curious gesture – as if offering up breadcrumbs to the Detective’s hungry coiffure. “Empty”, he continued. “So what’s that now, three?” “That we know of… that we know of.” The Irritable Detective pulled out a worn looking ID and flashed it to the unblinking eye of the gate scanner. “Open up”, he snarled. The gate did as asked, sliding up and out with a well oiled movement. The two men breathed the acrid fumes of petroleum, bio-oil, hydrogen and god only knew what else – any kind of fuel to make a thing move hereabouts. “Bracing,” said the associate. The Irritable Detective bobbed his head. “Y’know,” he said ruminatively, “when I was a boy, they trooped us out of kinde-class to go breathe this go-se. Bucks you up they said – good against the whooping cough.” “Yeah I heard that.” The two men began to move into the bay area before them – it was a runway siding of the sky-dock – Sihnon Central – Wall section 1118. The place was rammed with gliders, shuttles, taxis and the tiny hovercraft popular with tourists unable to afford a rickshaw. “Y’wanna know something else?” “Uh huh?” “When I was out at the Rim – you could ride a rickshaw for next to nuthin. Here? Y’gotta sell your eye-teeth. Wonders o’ tourism.” The Irritable Detective was rummaging again as he spoke. “Here – I got it Chief,” said his partner, pulling out a rumbled piece of paper. “Stable Four Tango Bravo”, he read aloud. “Where d’you learn to talk like that?” asked the Detective. “Kinde-class”, laughed the other man, “it’s over there.” He pointed. Sighing, the Irritable Detective trudged across the bay to one of the recesses that held private Guild craft. Stable TB4 held approximately seven craft. Three were currently landed. The shuttle they were looking for was parked neatly enough but its side doors were open and it was clearly empty inside. No/one would leave a good shuttle in such a manner. The two men strolled over – the Irritable Detective placed a hand on the hull like a man would place a hand on the flanks of a horse. “You feel anything?” asked his associate curiously. “Nope.” There was a movement on the periphery of their vision and both men turned around. There were two figures striding formally towards them, a man and a woman. The Irritable Detective cursed under his breath. The woman was smiling in a well-practised manner. “Detectives,” she inclined her head, “I’m sorry you’ve had a wasted journey. This is Guild business now. There will be an internal investigation – that means the case can be turned over to me.” It was her turn to draw out an ID. “I’m Radha Brook, Guild Inquiry Agency. This is Doctor Sard.” The Doctor smiled and extended a hand – which the woman did not. “Gentlemen,” he said. “Doc’.” Said the Irritable Detective. “This is my associate, Kris Tamora. I am Detective Philip Yip.” “Private?” asked the Doc. “Yea, the Guild normally out-sources to us, if it aint a Federal problem, but seems likely they want this for themselves.” “I am right here gentleman”, said Radha with annoyance. Yip looked up at the Guild Agent, keeping his expression blank. “Ma’am. Y’mind if we ask the Doc’ here a couple of questions? Just so we can complete the report – ‘s’all about the paper work.” Kris nodded sadly at this. “Of course,” said the woman politely. The Irritable Detective rubbed the corner of his right eye as if that would somehow activate his brain. “So,” he said at last, “pilot out cold?” The Doctor nodded. “Yep – just come from the med-room, he don’t remember a thing. Memory clean tranq’ed out.” “Figures.” Yip threw a significant look at his associate. The Doctor looked a little baffled by this but he carried on gamely. “We’re doing the test right now to find the tranq compound used but…” “It’s neat huh?” Kris leaned in. “Yeah,” admitted the Doctor. “Very much so.” The woman coughed. “I’m assuming for now that it’s old military stock from the war – you can get it on the black market if you have the right contacts, I’m sure.” She looked accusingly at Yip as if he were such a man and kept such disreputable company. “And how many…?” Yip batted his eyes at her. “Six,” said the Doc, “unaccounted for – gone. All their stuff too.” “Companions?” “In Training,” Radha was brusque, “and I believe that concludes our business. If you file the report gentlemen, the Guild will pay you for your time. I’ll handle it from here.” Yip opened his mouth, thought better of it and nodded instead. “Shiny. It’ll be in by the afternoon. Good luck with your case Lady.” He turned on his legs and shuffled off. “Ma’am, Doctor,” Kris was more polite, “a pleasure. You turn up anything on the tranq you think you need help with let us know.” “Thank you Detective” Radha smiled. Kris moved away hurrying slightly to catch up with Yip whose wide legs were moving at a clip. “Well?” He placed a hand on the Irritable Detective's shoulder as they exited back through the gate. Yip paused. Looked up at the sky then down at the busy wall road in front of them. “Not our problem,” he said finally. “Not anymore – not yet anyways”, he added. Kris glanced back the way they had come. “Yeah,” he sighed, “something weird alright.”


Inara Serra was thinking about lace. Threads of lace could be so fine – like the ephemeral touch of frost in the dew – misty and disappearing even as it was spied. Gossamer, people often said – made of air. So fine and light, Yes, she was thinking about lace – how something so delicate could choke you – blacken the lungs and clog in the nose – how something so fragile could reek so thickly, charring into dark smoke. All you had to do was burn it. The stench was in the Training House still.

And there was lace here – on the walls, on the statues and on the arms of the soft cushioned, hard backed chair upon which she sat.

Here in the Waiting Room, she thought angrily.

Waiting rooms… no/one likes them. It was typical of the Guild not to use the phrase. Nobody – least of all a self-respecting client, or potential client, wants to be told ‘if you’ll just sit in the waiting room’ as if at some kind of clinic… so no waiting room. This was the ‘Anti Chamber’. And it was exactly that – the very opposite of where Inara wanted to be. She made a point of keeping her eyes from the heavy leathered door of the High Priestess’ office. That office might easily have been hers – but after Reynolds, after Ryadni, after The Operative…she was lucky to still have her license. And she needed her license… she had seen what happened to Companions who had to eek a living, unregistered. Whores. I – will – NEVER – be – a – whore.

That had been the big why behind the Training House on Penelope. To create a genuine licensed Companion school there on the rim – it would be… young girls could have opportunity – they need never see circumstances like Nandi’s women had lived through – and were living with still. Except that had also been the big lie – and they had found themselves once again – threatened, damaged, hurt.

The Operative... Not for the first time, Inara found herself wondering at the culpability of her superiors. Had the Guild known an Operative was coming? Had they lead him there? – He could wreak havoc, he DID wreak havoc, but oh so neatly contained – and all very out of the way and NOT on Sihnon. Something deep in Inara knotted up at the idea – but the anger was… well… push to shove – she would be forced to admit – and thinking of Book and the Haven massacre they’d've heard about – the wisdom of such a decision… If Inara had been the High Priestess here – well, just maybe she would have made the same decision… … Maybe.

There was a discreet cough. Inara looked up. A pale faced Companion novitiate stood with a very serious expression. “My lady,” said the young Companion in Waiting and Inara answered with a wide and dazzling smile. “The Priestess will see you now.”


end of pt 1.


hope this was enjoyable - i've decided to just go for it, after months of struggle with this fic!

the list of thanks for this fic is so long that i'm going to post it in my blog!:)


Tuesday, February 26, 2008 2:15 AM


Solid ten. AWESOME beginning! :D I love The Irritable Detective and the rhythm of the words, the focus on Inara (of course..) and the way you don't rush, you build a picture and a mood and people into it that feel fully developed in just a few lines of dialogue.

Most intrigued! Write more, write soon! *g*

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 2:34 AM


Wow! I am *very* intrigued!!! You have caught me and pulled me right in with this! I cannot wait to see more!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 4:04 AM


I agree with AgentRouka, you've definately got rhythm - stream of consciousness writing. Takes a while to get used to, but once you're hooked, you're hooked.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 8:49 AM


You're the one responsable for me being addicted to this story, wytch!

Keep flying ;)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:10 AM


You, are a veritable wordsmith.

I love your characters, so rich. Nothing frivolous, everything flows perfectly and makes perfect sense.

Plus your stuff goes a long way to widening the picture that is Firefly.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:57 AM


Nice start. Looking forward to more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 11:51 AM


MMmm,I have to wonder if the Irritable Detective is not mentioned by name because we might recognise him? Intriguing start, can't wait to see what happens next. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 12:47 PM


I like. Some noir styled don't give a shit detectives, an inhouse investigator, kidnapped neophyte companions, and Inara returns to Sihnon for...we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 1:44 PM


I've been waiting for a good Inara story. Great start!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 4:21 PM


This is great! Nice to see Inara portrayed so well. It looks like you've put a lot of thought into her backstory. Yay!!

I'm looking forward to your updates.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 7:16 AM


Read this again, and possibly love it even more the second time through.

This line, that did catch my attention the first time through, grabbed at me even more this time, and I can't help but wonder at it:

– and thinking of Book and the Haven massacre she’d heard about –

Does this mean we are in AU territory?

Very curious :o)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 8:11 AM


Fantastic! I can't wait to see where this is going! I love a good Inara story. But yeah, I'm a tad confused - is this an AU? And what's this about the Blue Hands cuting into Serenity and stealing River!?! (Great imagery, btw!) So many questions!!! I can't wait to read more. I hope you'll update soon. *chews nails*

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 1:22 PM


very cool. really builds up interes while setting up characters and setting wonderfully, not an easy thing to get right all at once. A few minor errors, but who doesn't hey!
loved it.


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Independently Blue parts complete 3 parts
just a coda to wrap things up is all.

Bell, Book and Candle - pt 5. Conclusion.
CONCLUSION: While the Serenity crew are at gun-point, Inara has persuaded the leader of the men to stand down. However, as a hysterical River flees the ship, the shooting starts.
Meantime – Mal and the LoveBot™ Sebastian are en-route to find Jossiah Bell and the missing Shepherd Book.

Bell, Book and Candle pt 4
Book has been vanished. Serenity taken hostage. Mal is getting annoyed. Kaylee's getting curious. Inara is getting ambassadorial.

Bell, Book and Candle Pt 3
new chapter: Pt 3 of 5. The crew held hostage, Mal off to settle a score, Book in a very strange shop...

Bell, Book and Candle pt 2
Serenity has found a cargo of wine is actually oil.
There are complications. Book and Kaylee are taking in the town of Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle - pt 1
New Fic. Pt 1. The Serenity crew at work and... not so much,
serious and - not so much.
Easing myself back into the game with this curio.

The Wages of Sihnon - CONCLUSION
Inara and Saffron are on Sihnon, attending a ceremony between Companions and Shepherds. Radha Brook and Phil Yip are also there investigating some missing girls.

The Wages of Sihnon - pt 5 (of 6)
Having been summoned to Sihnon, Inara is attending a Temple shindig between the Guild and The Shepherds. For reasons not yet fully explained, Saffron is with her. Phil Yip and Radha Brook are investigating the disappearance of some young Companions in Training.

The wages of Sihnon pt 4 (of 6)
Inara has been summoned to Sihnon to liaise in meetings between the Shepherds and the Guild. Meantime some trainee companions are missing and GIA Agent Radha and Private 'Tec Phil Yip are investigating. Saffron appears to be in cahoots with Inara and is disguised as a novice companion.
This chapter - a nosy journalist and the High Priestess.

The Wages of Sihnon - pt 3
Inara has been summoned to Sihnon where the Shepherds are visiting. She has brought with her a young woman to act as aide to the Abbott. Meantime some Trainee Companions are missing from a shuttle and the Guild have apparently sent Radha Brook to investigate. Phil Yip, an irritable detective for a private security firm is also on the case.