Monday, May 26, 2008

It was her own name, and nobody else's. No one would take that from her. No one.


She wasn't at all worried when the men took Momma away from her bed. It was common to hear, especially in the nighttime, just before the terrabugs started creaking their moon songs and lulling her to sleep. One pair of heavy footsteps, then two pairs -- or maybe more -- leaving a few minutes later. An "arrangement", Momma called it. She would return before the dawn, as she always did.

It wasn't until long after the sun had set upon the next day that she understood Momma wasn't coming back.


"A small favor," Ganna said. "As a courtesy to one of our highest echelon."

"Our 'highest', Priestess?" the younger woman scoffed. "But Artemis was a common -- "

"No matter what she chose to do later in life, Diana, she was one of our own," Ganna said firmly. "And her child has a place here until other arrangements can be made."

Arrangements. She knew that word. She didn't like it.

"And is she to be a Companion, Mother Ganna?" Diana forced herself to keep a civil tongue.

"Of course not. Artemis came from an esteemed family, but that family is gone now. As I recall, she was the last of her name."

Diana found she could breathe again.

"But Artemis had a substansive dowry put aside for this little one. It will come to the House, if we take her in." Ganna peered down her nose at the scruffy girl. "The child may stay until she is sold, or until she can be of no longer use to us."


Everything was taken. Every rug, curtain, chair, and dish. Even the treasured Aurelian tiles that Momma said had reminded her of the ocean -- these were carefully pried off the floor and shipped off to some trader's vessel, adding a few more coins to the House coffers.

Perched on a flat stump in the outer court, she watched the funny bald men (eunuchs, Mother Ganna had called them) haul away her home, swinging her skinny legs where her feet did not quite reach the ground. Every few minutes she would check to make sure her face still showed a cautious disinterest.

"Your eyes and mouth are your worst enemies and your closest allies," Momma had told her, over and over again. "They carry the telltale signs of your mind and heart. Use them as you need. Don't let them use you."

Tucked away in her tunic was a keepsake she meant not to part with. If she showed fear -- if she showed her secret on her face -- she would lose it. Of its own accord her hand stole into her sleeve and lightly touched the bracelet, just to make sure it was still there. It was.


She stood in the Hall of Records, shifting her weight from one tired foot to the other, and swallowed a yawn. The recorder, a slender eunuch with heavy gold hoops hanging from his ears, read the report aloud as he noted it in the books.

"Gender, female. Height, 140 centimeters. Weight, twenty-three kilograms."

Diana smirked. "A little on the small side, isn't she, Mother Ganna?" The High Priestess showed no sign of having heard.

"Mother Sade Artemis, father unknown. Age 88 months -- younger than usual, but we have had younger still, as I recall. I have no name in the ledger, Priestess."

Mother Ganna turned her steel gaze on the girl sulking at her side. "Your name, child."

She shrugged.

A fleshy hand pinched her shoulder, in a grasp that was meant to appear helpful. Diana's voice was wheedy, needling. "The High Priestess requires the name of the girl we mean to take in, at quite a loss to ourselves, might I add. Won't you tell us, dear?"

Pushing the hair out of her eyes and brushing the hand off her shoulder as she would a bothersome insect, the girl shook her head.

Ganna sighed. "The child is stupid, or merely so unnecessary that no name was given to her. Write that down in the books. She will begin as a between girl, and we shall call her Tweeny, at least until something more suitable comes to mind."

The recorder frowned, but did as he was asked.

"Now if you would be so kind, Recorder," the High Priestess continued, "take Tweeny to her cell and then show her to Cook. She must learn her new duties as soon as possible so as not to be a nuisance."

The recorder stood, bowed low to Ganna, and offered the small girl his hand with a smile. She accepted both with a hint of wonder; nobody had given her so much as a kind glance since her arrival the day before.


He led her down long, dark corridors, touched by bits of sunlight streaming through tall, arched windows. The Halls were empty, but small, unmistakable sounds of life could be heard behind the many doors they passed. She squinted and tried to keep pace with the eunuch.

"She's not so bad, you know," he spoke suddenly, startling her. "Mother Ganna. She holds a lot of responsibility, that's all."

He wasn't looking at her. She wondered if he was speaking to himself.

"The High Priestess watches over all people in House Madrassa. Least to greatest, they are all her children to care for. She takes each task as a personal burden and counts it as her own, victory or no. Learn from her as we all do, little Tweeny."

"That's not my name."

"So," he said with an amused smile, "you can speak."

She nodded. He stopped and knelt to her level, his face serious but not stern.

"I will give you some advice, little girl, and you would be wise to take it. That name you have? The one you were born with? Keep it close to you. Guard it as you would any treasure. The name you have now been given? See it for what it is -- a tool for this place, nothing more.

"My name is Samael," he said, rising to his feet, "but I am called Recorder."

As they continued on towards the kitchens, her fingers reached into her sleeve -- brushed the hidden bracelet, traced the five tiny letters engraved on the surface. Her mother's very first gift to her, and the only one she had left. It was her own name, and nobody else's.

No one would take that from her. No one.


Monday, May 26, 2008 8:21 AM


Intriguing! Is this going to be a series or a one-shot?

Monday, May 26, 2008 9:21 AM


WoW! I loved this, stories from Inara's past aren't that common and this is one plausible way she got into the guild in the first place. Well done!

Keep flying ;)

Monday, May 26, 2008 12:06 PM


Just a note: this isn't about Inara (though it IS a character you've seen before!). And yes, it will be a series, taking place from well before Mal bought the Firefly, and on up to... well, long after the BDM. Keep those comments coming!

Monday, May 26, 2008 3:36 PM


Well, now I am very intrigued.

Monday, May 26, 2008 3:55 PM


Hmm, so are we going to find out Saffron's real name, or are you going to keep that hidden from us? Actually, just realized it could be Nandi as well.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008 9:05 AM


In time all questions will be answered.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:00 PM


well, i'm caught. keep it coming, i'll keep coming back. :)


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It was her own name, and nobody else's. No one would take that from her. No one.