The wages of Sihnon pt 4 (of 6)
Friday, March 7, 2008

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

Several Dances - pt 2

The Great Temple of Sihnon, formally dedicated to Kuan-Yin the Bodhisattva of Compassion, did not have a prison yard, or a dungeon, or cells. What the opulent structure did have though was rooms, a plethora of them: Great rooms, state rooms, sunlit chambers for the playing of music, the rehearsal of dance, ritual, the making and taking of tea. There were meeting rooms, greeting rooms, classrooms and closets. Whole sprawling wings dedicated to boudoirs - and further wings dedicated to the theory and practise of what to do in them. The Temple housed rooms for meditation, prayer and religious instruction. There were rooms set aside simply to store the furniture for used in all the other rooms. The Temple boasted rooms for cooking, rooms for eating and rooms in which to digest. Reading rooms and exercise rooms and rooms whose purpose was long forgot. Every room had a door. Every door could be locked.

In just such a room, (that was neither a cell nor part of a dungeon) a woman who had asked an impertinent question was sitting on a large divan and wondering if she'd get her camera back. Her name was Akiko Jones and to most people she would admit to being a journalist - she was not prone to admit much else. She was thinking about her camera and she was waiting. It was something just shy of an hour before her first visitor arrived. .........................................

Inara Serra was standing next to the woman she knew as Saffron as the pair shared the tiny earpieces of the bugging device. Unfortunately, this meant the two women had to be in close physical proximity at all times. As a consequence Inara's face began to ache from the effort of heavy glaring - and Saffron's mouth had kept up a malicious grin for so long it was becoming a nervous tic.

It was clear that the Abbott had no immediate plans to chat with anyone, they could hear him pacing meditatively and that was all. Saffron snapped first. "Whatever it is that's on your mind get it out already Inara - gorram it! - You’re turning blue." She swore at length, before adding, "Merciful Buddha am I glad I didn't take the shuttle here with you - can you imagine?" She let Inara think on that, before adding, "That's been the only part of this plan I've liked so far!" Her eyes blazed hotly.

Inara's teeth ground slowly together then her mouth opened and she asked her question - with a little more intensity than perhaps she would've liked. “Did you really marry Monty just to get close to Mal?”

“Captain Malcolm Reynolds…" Saffron sighed in a bored fashion. "It may surprise you to know that not everything comes back to him - he’s not the centre of my universe.”


Saffron looked affronted. “You don’t believe me. Fine", she said, leaning in even closer. The two women were nose to nose now - almost. "Wonder why that is?”

Inara raised a hand. “Please, I believe", she declared. "The centre of your universe is YOU. But as for Mal - well, you could show a little more respect.”

"Respect?" Saffron sounded angry suddenly. “Oh yeh, sure - and for why? Coz he’s the - since you’re ALL big Heroes now? Fixin to save the ruttin’ ‘verse by lettin’ us in on the big Alliance secret: ‘Guess what? When the lights are off children... at home or away out in the black… people turn into Reavers!' Sweetie, that’s something you and me have known for the longest time.” She lapsed into hostile silence.

“What, so that’s your story?" Inara was sounding distinctly unimpressed. "Y’got bruised…? THAT to explain away what a bitch you are?”

“You tell me.”

Inara's mouth came down in a firm line. “You’re right, I don’t believe you.” But Saffron did not seem overly concerned by this. “Well, can’t say that it matters", she said "- and anyhow, aren’t we just a little off-topic here?” She waggled the wire of the eavesdropping device. “Fine." Inara changed the subject. "Oh, one thing?” She leant forward and the dark curls of her hair bobbed up and down. “Yeh?” “Plaits?” “Yeah?” “Really suit you.” Saffron smiled immediately, matching Inara's expression of enthusiasm. "Thanks. That dress? To die for. " "Thanks," acknowledged Inara with another bob of her hair. "I nearly did as I recall." Saffron raised a sudden warning hand. They were 'on'.

"Everyone here is behaving mostly strangely," the women heard the Southdowns Abbott say. "I had expected a great deal of bickering and politicking..." "But?" said another voice. "I get the very great sense that there is as much going on internally as out." "That's to the good then surely?" The Abbott seemed to pause for thought. "Well, firstly - I'll admit that it's a little deflating to be so irrelevant to whatever personal dramas are being played out here..." The other man chuckled audibly. "Therefore," continued the Abbott, and the listening women noted how much more gravelly his voice was in private, " I'm concerned that, as a consequence, what we achieve here may be merely superficial." The other man did not reply to this. "Also, I gather the Guild have a journalist sequestered away - one who was asking questions about the Priory, making accusations in fact." "That is a concern." "Hmmm. And lastly..." the Abbott trailed off. "Your Grace?" "Well, lastly it's been a very costly trip and we have some very expensive gifts to bestow tonight. At the risk of sounding crude - I have to wonder if these women are worth the price."

The Abbott sighed and that signalled an end to conversation.

Inara was thinking hard, she removed her earpiece slowly, toying with the wire as it played between her fingers. Saffron on the other hand flicked hers away with a professional snap and was already at the door. "I do believe his Grace may need aiding - 'expensive gifts' sounds like a deal of heavy work for one Preacher." And with that she was out the door and gone. Inara watched the space Saffron had occupied for a while and then she released the breath she been unconsciously holding. Refilling her grateful lungs, she started to laugh. .........................................

"Where are we going exactly?" The increasingly Irritable Agent asked the already irritable Detective. "Digging." Phil Yip replied as they made their way through the crowded bustle of the Sihnon Wall. "Wait a minute fella!" Radha grabbed the big man's shoulder. "For what and where and why should I trust you?" The Irritable Detective stopped momentarily. "Trust me? No reason at all. I personally don't myself - or anyone else either." He didn't appear to be joking. "I told you, I have issues." Radha Brook clenched a fist. "What you HAVE Detective is a frustrating way of never answering a question." The Detective shook his head. "Wha-? Ok. Kettle and Black - and that's all she wrote, Lady. Let's skip this dance and go make out." Radha swore. Grinning nastily, The Detective turned around and resumed walking. "Your place or mine?" he muttered. "I know sixteen different silent ways to kill a man," said Radha. "Best shut up then," growled Yip. He turned a corner behind a jutting confections and souvenirs kiosk and walked up onto a narrow lane that crossed across part of the wall before coming down again and dividing into several separate snake-like narrow avenues. Grunting he shook down his suit of the fine dust the wind deposited. Radha Brook was not far behind him. She attracted less dust however. "How comes some people can do that?" The Irritable Detective asked rhetorically. He was stood next to a small hover buggy and reaching into the pocket of his pants he extracted a key and opened the vehicle up. "This yours?" Radha eyed the worn looking machine suspicious. "It's my brothers," said Yip. He opened the passenger side door and waited a few moments for the craft to air. Hoping it might be a little cooler now at least, he climbed in and shuffled across wheelside to drive. Sighing, Agent Radha followed. The inside of the vehicle was pretty unbearable. Yip turned to her. "Ok," he said, "gets damn noisy in this crate - so you got anything to say - say it now." Radha ran a hand through her hair; her scalp was beginning to prickle with tiny sweat drops. "This crate - why?" was her first question. "I don't want a taxi - I don't want anything known as mine." Radha let that go for now. "You sent Kris to the pilot - why?" "You mighta missed something," Yip did not sound convincing and Radha did not look impressed. "Ok, ok," the Detective groused, "let's just say I wanted quality time alone with you." "I'll buy that...” said Radha, ignoring the manner but not the substance of his words, "for now. Ok, so you got me - what next?" "You talk - I drive - we go see the show." "Ok... and I talk about what, and where is the show exactly?" Yip's hands were tapping the wheel in a syncopated rhythm. "The GIA sent you to shut down the case - the case that was so weird you just had to investigate... and so - you still aint shut it down. I think... that you think..." and here he was tapping in time with his words "that this is two separate cases... and you think that I think that too. And I think I agree." Radha absorbed this. "So..." she said finally, rubbing a hand against the dusty windshield of the buggy as she spoke. "You think, that I think the 3rd missing shuttle is a stooge, a phoney - just a tip to the earlier shuttles. You knew about the other shuttles - I didn't." Yip nodded. Radha carried on talking. "But the GIA did not order me to shut the case down - they just assumed I would - that I would give it up already. They assumed I would keep you out of the loop, which would nix whatever chance you had of telling me what you knew. They picked me for this case because they think I'm dumb - but you actually... you don't think that." Well, well. She almost smiled then - but there was anger in her eyes still as she gazed out of the buggy and into the haze of the Sihnon wall and it was a while before she spoke again. "I think you're right", she said at last. She looked across now at the Irritable Detective, who was being so uncharacteristically patient. "What about you...?" Radha wondered aloud. "Your source is good - since you knew already about the other disappearances... but not so good that you could actually do anything." "Just find out enough to keep me trusting my sources..." Yip agreed. "But you got more than one source though right? You got, I dunno, friends at the shuttle port, you know a guy who knows a guy down at the hospital - you know a guy who owes you for some sports tickets and he works... wherever." She paused, thinking. "So how to keep you contained?" She herself was now tapping with her fingers as she answered her own question. "By making sure you get all your sources through one source... through Kris. Am I right?" Yip looked at her. "He the man", he said dryly. "So who’s he working for?" Radha asked. "My guess..." said Phil Yip slowly, "is that he thinks it's the Feds. Figures he's got an in to the good life, quality Sushi." "Huh?" "Skip it, point is - he aint out to hurt me just..." "He's the one that's dumb..." Radha finished the sentence for him. "Could be." The Detective gunned the engine suddenly on the Buggy. "And the leads could be right then..." murmured Radha, " - the tranq info for instance... but why..." She shook her head - damn, there was still so much that made no sense. The Irritable Detective took his turn to speak. "Ok, Lady - let me ask you this..." he said. "Speaking as someone who might know... what do you think the GIA would do if they suspected people were starting to smell something fishy?" "Create a bigger stink someplace else." She spoke the answer quickly, knowing it was right. "Then we aint gonna go to my place after all," said Yip, "I just changed my mind. Your place it is." So saying he pulled the drive lever and the buggy hustled off from the sidewalk whooshed down the snaking overpass and slammed into the main lanes of the Great Wall of Sihnon. "Well," said Radha as the buggy bumped along, "I haven't been to the Temple in the longest time. What are we hoping to find?" Yip was busy driving, squinting into the late afternoon sun, but he spoke from the side of mouth. "We're gonna get you some courage, me a heart and Kris a brain - then we can all go home to Kansas."


The Abbott and Inara were sat together in a comfortable room somewhere in the sprawl of the temple. The Abbott's aide was there also. Two shepherds had joined them and Inara was preparing tea. One of the Shepherds looked across at the Abbott for permission to speak. The Abbott nodded. "We have a similar ritual at home", the Shepherd said, looking at the dainty china bowls and the jade coloured kettles. "It's a little more homely though." Inara nodded gracefully. "I hope this tea will compare favourably Shepherd...?" "Neame" "Shepherd Neame," Inara nodded again. "I must admit it's been a while since I had the resources to do this correctly... and I know what you mean... I've experienced tea served from an argumentative machine onboard a tetchy spacecraft using recycled water and synthetic leaves that were more like ash." She smiled. "I have not tasted better yet." The Abbott seemed to enjoy this interplay. "The humblest water can taste like wine to a contented soul. You must have been happy." Inara gave the slightest of pauses. "Yes... I was, your Grace." Shepherd Neame looked curious. "Yet isn't 'non-attachment' considered a Cardinal Virtue by your Temple?" "Yes, indeed." Inara replied, "But we are taught also to embrace the moment to live to the fullest extent possible to be that moment. That is part of our tantric tradition." The Shepherds were looking pleased at this cultural exchange. "Your teaching is an interesting fusion," said Neame. "So - I hope -", smiled Inara, "is our tea." This brought forth a real belly laugh from the Abbott. "Wonderful." He said. "Well," he continued bluffly, "I - for one - look forward to hearing some of your experiences Ms Serra - to have been to the Rim, to have been in the Black. I imagine it was very exciting." Inara was lighting a very small stick of incense - the last part of the tea preparation ritual. "It was... many things your Grace," she said, "not all of them easy. Shepherd Book found the experience challenging - as did I." "Ah yes - Shepherd Book. I do find it fascinating that both you and he decided to set up new homes. Your Training House, and his Haven. It is one of the things that decided me in coming here - if the responses of a Shepherd and a Companion to mutual experience can be similar - then we have common ground. Common ground is holy ground as far as I'm concerned." The Shepherds nodded dutifully at this. "That's a very expressive way of putting it your Grace," said Inara. "But - if our goals were similar... so too were our obstacles." Though her tone was understated the sadness was plain and the Abbott looked sympathetic. "Yes indeed," he sighed. "We can thank the powers that be for that." Inara did not reply.


Phil Yip was trying to keep calm - even as another group of ragged parade monkeys crossed into his path. "I don't know who's worse," he grumbled, "the Tourists or the people that encourage 'em." Radha sighed sharing his frustration, only "Tourism is what pays our bills mister", she felt it fair to point out. "We aint getting paid as I recall", growled Yip. Radha stared ahead at the thick tumble of people blocking the road. No doubt there were vehicles in front of the parade, a parade in front of the vehicles in front of the parade and - her head hurt and the minutes were starting to crawl. "Yeah... you got a point," she sighed.


Saffron and the Abbott were touring the temple. "You know your way around Child," said the Abbott, "Yet I gather you are from the Training House of Inara Serra." "I have often longed to walk these corridors," said Saffron without a pause. "I grew up dreaming of this place - and -" she stopped suddenly. "Go on my dear," encouraged the Abbott, "no need to be shy - I am a stranger here myself." Saffron looked at him with an earnest expression before saying, "thank you, your Grace." She gestured to the spare stone walls and the heavy oak doors they were walking past. "These walls, I could most likely draw you a map. I used to study the architecture of the Great Temple every chance I got. Draw it sometimes or paint. I used to get real lonely at the Training House... this was my escape." "I see." "It's like Inara says, the moment - we get taught that. I was here every moment I could be." Her face coloured as her emotions began to build. "Ah, yes," The Abbott said, "the Tantra." "To feel each moment to the fullest possible extent..." Saffron whispered, her wide eyes gazing up at the Abbott. He seemed a little short of breath suddenly. "And this room would be?" he wheezed. "Oh these are just rooms for when the domestic help get their break." Saffron said breezily and walking on.


Akiko Jones was beginning to feel very popular. She was curled cat-like on the divan and looking most relaxed. As yet another visitor entered the chamber she batted her eyelashes and began to reach into a purse for a packet of cigarettes. She lit one, inserting it into a long ivory holder. Cool jets of mentholated smoke came from her nostrils.

"That's very fine", said Inara looking at the cigarette holder. "Antique?" "Mmm hmm." Akiko nodded and flicked at the fringe of her dark hair which, unlike Inara's, was cut short at the back and fell forward in two neat bangs. "Worth more than my camera," the woman drawled. "I'll trade you for it."

Inara smiled brightly. "I don't have your camera... Ms?" "Jones, Akiko." "I don't have your camera Akiko, sorry." Inara was still smiling. "I'm sure they'll return it - the Temple isn't really used to this sort of thing - or at least I Imagine it's not." Akiko considered this - which was good because Inara hadn't finished. "Anyway," said the Companion, "I'm sure you’d know better than me." "Huh -? As a journalist I only know..." Inara shook her head. "But as an Agent, Akiko? Y'know, I am sure, a helluva lot more." The reclining woman sat up now. "Hey - what is this?" she asked angrily, "I come here - get pushed around, get my camera stolen, get stuck in here and talked at till I'm sore from the effort of ignoring everyone - and now you..." But Inara wasn't listening. "Whatever", she said. "You're not a Companion then?" "No!" "Not a criminal?" "The hell? No!" "Then you're running out of options as to how you could afford a holder like that." "Maybe I inherited my Father's millions." "And ended up working for the Tourist News? I don't think so." Akiko leaned back into the cushioning of the divan. "Hmm", she said, blowing more smoke. "I don't think you were expecting to see someone like me," said Inara after a while. "Your act is all wrong - though ", she smiled wide again, "it's very good - I was really enjoying watching you play 'Aggrieved News-hound Gets Sarcastic After Injustice'. Almost a headline huh. But I'm just the wrong audience, sorry sweetie. And the feline femme fatale bit, little black skirt and pointy boots? It's kinda old." There was frost upon the windows of Akiko Jones' soul. Inara felt the chill. "Don't take it heart," she said soothingly, "I'm sure it was working real well on whoever else has seen you. But... let's just cut the go-se and - get down to it!" "Now who's playing?" Akiko laughed, "you're enjoying yourself here, like - way too much." "Ok," admitted Inara "carried away. Little bit." It was funny actually, really funny and - of everyone in the whole wide 'verse - Inara wished that for just then Kaylee Frye could be there to crack up with her. But the voice she heard in head saying, " So -what now? You're a cop? And... this? - oh - you're the bad cop? Well I do seem to recall a mess of folks just waitin' in line to confess up to you! Did you get a badge? Hey, no I mean it - I can see you 'Nara, truly. Big badge. A shiny, shiny badge. " That voice was not Kaylee's.

Controlling herself, she sat herself down on the edge of the divan, looking closely at the other woman as she did so. Jones was keeping her expression neutral. "My clumsiness aside," said Inara softly, "I can recognise Training and I can spot real Ivory. And I know a GIA agent when I see one." "Oh heavens that my cover is blown and I am so very transparent." Akiko was again making with the frosty.

Inara let Akiko have her moment then she said. "So, d'you want a real story?" "Huh?" "Oh I'm sorry, I thought you said you were a journalist." Inara could be sarcastic too. "If that's true..." she carried on, "then I have a story for you. A real story. A better story..." Akiko Jones didn't want them to - but her eyes betrayed their interest. Damn, she thought, I'm gonna go back to wearing my glasses. Inara was smiling again.


The House Priestess was feeling relieved and anxious at the same time - not a pleasant mix of emotions - it could lead to indigestion. She made a mental note to drink a little camomile tea later and to avoid the heavier of the dishes that would be provided at the forthcoming ceremony. The Ceremony. THE Ceremony. Everyone would be there - the Priory, the Companions, the trainees, herself and the High Priestess, the Grand Mother of the Guild would preside.

Not for the first time, Constance Jong wondered what The Southdowns Abbot would make of his opposite number.

She had been diligently doing some paper work in her office - signing some documents that allowed Houses to be eligible for inspection and license renewal - as well the files of some individual Companions due for their yearly medical. The Guild Temple was always notified in advance of such a procedure and told the results and the conclusions of the review. That review was kept secret from the Companions themselves - but most were aware of it, seeing it simply as a sort of 'school report', the effect of which could mean a substantial jump in the rating and bracket of their clients.

The first thing she had done on becoming House Priestess was sit down eagerly to read all the reviews on her . They were gone. GIA classified. She had been shocked, not by the fact - but by the wrongheaded judgement behind it. In a moment she had learnt so much more than the documents themselves could have told her. That the GIA did not seem to appreciate this fact smacked of further incompetence - but perhaps it was that they simply didn't care. This told her a lot about their view of her, of her position and of the Guild. So this was, on their part, yet another mistake.

Until today she had been fairly sure that her views on the GIA itself were known only to herself. But she was not so certain now.

That damn 'journalist'. That was interference seemingly. That could mean trouble. That might be opposition - and that suggested the GIA had changed their mind about her. Well, she had never changed her mind about them .

There was a knock on the door to her office. "Oh come in, please." she called brightly. Saffron entered the office looking down at her feet. "Come, come child", said the House Priestess, "You're the aide to the Abbott of the Southdowns Abbey, not a quivering noviciate now." Saffron lifted her head, looking nervous as she did so. The House Priestess was looking at her intently. "So, tell me child - how goes the labour?" "Mother?" "Oh you know, the Abbott, his Shepherds - they're not what we're used to!" Saffron swallowed. "I - I'm not used to any man..." The House Priestess was still looking at her keenly. "Hmm," she said. "Well, be that as it may - you seem to have fitted in. I gather the tour was a success." "Yes, Mother - the Abbott enjoyed the music rooms and the meditation spaces particularly." "Really? How predictable," she sounded disappointed. "And the, er, classes?" "I took care to be discreet - some of the Shepherds seemed uncomfortable when we were in the chamber of Sensual Release, but I made sure it was empty at the time." "Good, good. And the Abbott’s affairs?" "I'm sorry?" "His business child, his dealings. Has he made use of you?" Give me time , thought Saffron. "Yes," she replied haltingly, "he allowed me to help sort some letters, draft an itinerary of church meetings and dictated a speech for me to note down." "A speech?" "Regarding the importance of bringing different denominations together." "Interesting..." The House Priestess said, then asked, "Did his Grace make mention of the Journalist and her intrusion?" Saffron shook her head. "Not directly Mother - though I think Shepherd Neame wished to discuss the issue. The Abbott seemed more concerned that the Guild receive the gifts he has brought." "Ah yes," The House Priestess placed her fingers together gently, "well, at least we can assure him of the security there!" "Mother?" "Oh, nothing..." The House Priestess was tiring of the girl now. "And your Mistress, Inara?" "Her meeting with the Priory was a success. She was very highly praised." The Priestess accepted this. "Well, that's to the good. But listen," and she leant forward suddenly across her desk, without disturbing any of the papers across it. The old bag's not lost her dexterity then, thought Saffron. "Listen," said the House Priestess in low, confidential voice. "Inara is not to be trusted." Saffron made a point of looking shocked. "But..." "But nothing", the Priestess snapped. "And we don't have time to beat around the bush. Your Mistress is up to something - she has an agenda of her own in coming here. Understand?" "Yes Mother", Saffron answered dutifully. "Good. Watch her, watch her closely - I would know her actions, her motives. Report to me directly. The very future of the Guild may be at stake. There is much here that you know little of - so be advised by me. This is most important." Saffron bit her lip. "I have no wish to divide your loyalties..." The House Priestess said, "but in the bigger scheme of things you can only have but one - and that is to the Guild itself. The heart of the Guild is here Sidhi, here. I believe we are about to see that heart beat stronger than ever. But there is danger also. You are still young - this Temple can still offer you a home, a real home. Not some hostel on a moon in the middle of nowhere under the command of one petty woman." Saffron nodded dumbly. "Good, very good child. Well? Go to it then Sidhi, it is almost time for the Grand Ceremony!" She waved the younger woman away. Not for the first time that day, Saffron was smirking as she left a room.


Akiko Jones had not so far retrieved her camera but she had something greater. She had her freedom. Moving nimbly along the hushed halls of the temple, in the direction of the servants' wing she felt sure she would soon have something else as well. A new disguise.


Partakers of the feast - witnesses of the Grand Ceremony - serving staff... all filed into the magnificent Great Hall. Two by two. The Mistress of Ceremonies had out done herself in the co-ordination of the doors and directions necessary to the act. Her stewards bowing and directing and unlocking entrances all on cue. As the music from the assorted musicians began to swell, the first of the Shepherds and the first of the Companions began to take their places.

The Grand Ceremony was a feast for all the senses - not merely the taste buds. True the long low tables were filled with plates, pots and pans filled with a staggering variety of foods - but the aromas of the spicy dishes, heady enough in themselves, mingled with the incense wafting from large braziers and the myriad perfumes of the Companions and their sisters in training. The eye could meantime feast upon the decorative patterned crockery, the humid murals showing mythic images of Amazonian looking huntswomen, cowgirls and saints resting under trees or playing flutes by azure blue rivers. There were the costumes of the assembled multitude - the Companions floating gowns, pastel patterned and threaded with silver. The trainees wore silks and wooden jewellery. The House Priestess was almost unrecognisable under a sculpted ivory headpiece.

Behind the House Priestess two maidens held aloft vast fans painted in the form of shells - behind which would be Aphrodite herself - the High Priestess.

The Shepherds (themselves arrayed in their own comparative finery, rich purple or black cassocks edged with lace) were seated along one line of the tables the Companions and trainees opposite.

The Mistress of Ceremonies had kept up a continual two note chant for the duration - as the crowd found their places - as the first tea was poured and lidded dishes opened. Now, at the sound of gong, she stopped.

The great shell shaped fans parted on cue, revealing the seated form of the High Priestess. She was very small, swallowed almost by the many-cushioned throne on which she sat and by the layers of bejewelled ceremonial dress she wore. But that was just size - in every other way she dwarfed all about her. Her face was absolutely still, painted into immobility almost - thick white for the skin, rainbow eye-shadowed and a dark scarlet mouth... But the eyes blazed with energy and the mouth itself, though expressionless, trembled with inner electricity - the same current that seemed to pass up through the curly red dyed hair standing on end as if electrified.

The High Priestess did not have to say anything - but the tiniest movement of eye, brow, mouth or finger and the rhythm and movement of the people around her changed. She was the conductor of the human symphony that was taking place. She did not have to say anything at all. But she did. The smallest, most fragile of voices. Timed at the most precise moment the servants finished the placing of the bowls. She spoke. "Day breaks" she said. "Quacks of the wild ducks surround the castle."

End of pt 4 ...............................

thanks to anyone who sticks with such a long and OC heavy fic - I hope it was worth the effort of reading! next week: The Grand Ceremony - events move towards a resolution, investigations begin to reach a conclusion... several characters get sneaky.


Friday, March 7, 2008 3:53 AM


All right ... why does the High Priestess sound like a certain psychic of our acquaintance? I love your descriptions, and look forward to more!

Friday, March 7, 2008 6:31 AM



I can see it coming together nicely. No idea what "it" is, but well... brilliant!

Friday, March 7, 2008 7:00 AM


Quite enjoyed your description of the commencement of the grand ceremony, the beauty, the ceremony, the smells, all the planning the Mistress of Ceremonies went to... lovely.

I am so very intrigued to know just what Saffron is up to - and what Inara has got up her sleeve too.. and what all happened before that you are dropping these hints about in bits and pieces.. And what are the gifts!?! So many questions ;o)

Friday, March 7, 2008 8:51 AM


This is great, wytch. A lovely mix of description and banter with plenty of scene shifting to keep us on our toes.

My fav bit:
"We're gonna get you some courage, me a heart and Kris a brain - then we can all go home to Kansas." made me chuckle.

I felt more atuned to the characters Yip and Radha in this, they are certainly filling out.

Friday, March 7, 2008 10:04 AM


Shepherd Neame ?!

Well, I suppose we already have a Badger. Is there a sidekick called Tanglefoot anywhere? :)

And Akiko is missing her CAMRA...

Friday, March 7, 2008 3:57 PM


Inara telling Saffron that she should show Mal some respect... ironic, but believable in a post Miranda scenario, and Saffron lying to Inara as to why she choose Monty...hilarious.

There are too many great lines in here to quote just one. And Inara missing and thinking about Kaylee, sweet. Make your way back to Serenity Inara, where you belong because everyone know, there is no place like home.

love this story and will be looking for more


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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.