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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1103 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Like any woman who had turned in expecting her man to join her, only to spend the rest of the night whether asleep or awake wondering where he was, hoping each time she half-woke in a state of impatient frustration that he would be there beside her, feeling his absence ever more deeply each time she saw that he wasn’t – Kaylee was annoyed. In the morning she pulled on a long t-shirt and went straight to Simon's quarters, where she found his bed still made, River’s too. They must have spent the night in Pity. Which, she understood, was full of clever, or at least educated, Core-bred young women – and men – who had a whole load more in common with Simon than she did. She dismissed a thought that Simon and his new friends had been up all night swapping graduation stories and stuff by reminding herself that they’d more likely spent it in Dogger’s company, trying to make connections between his and River’s experiences. Maybe they’d found out something good for River. Or bad. If she hadn’t had to get Serenity ready for the trip to Cornelius, Kaylee would have been there herself. She wished she could have been, not just to support Simon and River, but also so that she hadn’t ended up feeling so darn left out...
She had just about talked herself down from her feeling that, in spite of everything, Simon could have spent some of the night on the ship with her when, entering the mess, she found him at the table with Mal and Inara wearing the same clothes he’d worn the day before. Unshaven and bleary-eyed, he turned to smile weakly at her.
“Have you been up all night?” was the question that she couldn’t help blurting out as soon as it came into her mind.
“I’ve spent the last few hours researching something for Inara. For free, and without being traced. There’s a man on Pity who’s pretty ingenious at finding ways to access the Cortex without idents. The administrators always close him down pretty quickly – they’re only ever one step behind – so I thought I’d take the opportunity to look into Inara’s condition before that opportunity was no longer there.”
“Honey,” said Kaylee approaching him, hoping that her question hadn’t sounded accusing, “I thought you were finding out about Dogger and the Academy.”
Simon sighed. “I was. But believe it or not River fell asleep. I think she was the only one. Everyone else was so excited that they might find out more about Dogger that they could have gone on all night. Including this ident guy.”
“So what did you find out?” Kaylee asked.
“I’ve given Mal the highlights. I only came on board about a half hour ago. I did come by and see you but you were asleep.”
“Of course, honey,” said Kaylee, sitting down beside him.
“Now,” Simon continued, with a jaw-creaking yawn, “I’ve got to get some sleep. But I wanted to tell Mal and Inara about my findings.”
Kaylee felt bad now that she saw how Simon had spent his night. While she had been sleeping in a state of frustrated lust he had been busy saving both River and Inara.
“What about some tea? Or some breakfast?”
“Inara’s already” – Simon began, before Inara interrupted him: “Yes, I’ve had a cup but Simon was waiting for you.”
Simon wondered, as Kaylee began preparing tea, if she had noticed Inara’s save. By his standards it hadn’t been a big gaffe, just him overlooking a chance to make Kaylee feel needed and involved at this particular point, in however small a way. He had to get better at doing that, especially now when it seemed that River and Inara would be demanding more of his time, and get better at it soon. As soon as he’d had some sleep.
He was glad when Mal, who apparently hadn’t had much sleep either, interjected with a yawned: “Let’s get on with it.”
“Well, I was saying,” said Simon, resuming his account of his findings, “I was starting to suspect that someone had been tampering with Inara’s nervous system, on the basis of the type and range of her symptoms.”
“Yeah, yeah, got that,” said Mal impatiently.
“I just thought Kaylee might be interested” –
“Not as interested as what I am. You can fill her in later. Move on.”
“So that was the first kind of equipment that I looked up on the Cortex, when Inara and I were doing our search yesterday. We were skimming images from medical catalogues. I didn’t have the time to download them. It would have been too expensive as well. But it didn’t take long to find something Inara recognized.”
Mal glanced at Inara; this had to be upsetting for her. He hated that he found that serene look on her face, now that he knew how much it concealed. Reminded him how much it had concealed in the past, when he had thought it was all about him.
“Do you want to say?” Simon asked Inara.
“I think you’d do a better job.”
Simon sighed. “Well, basically what Inara recognized as having been used for her so-called treatment were acupuncture needles that you can administer drugs through. Like a cross between an acupuncture and a straight hypodermic needle. They can be inserted anywhere on the body in any number. Of course to practitioners of pure Chinese medicine they’re an abomination. And plastic surgeons love them. But they started as a treatment for invasive diseases of the nervous system. Or, in this case, the cause.”
Mal’s mind flashed from Niska, and the uses that someone like him would make of the needles, to a vision of Inara – my beloved his mind whispered, though he pretended not to hear it – being ‘treated’.
“How long you been having this – treatment?” Mal asked her quietly.
“Since I left House Madrassa.”
“And who got you started on it?”
Inara looked down. “A doctor provided by the Guild.”
Everybody understood the implications of what Inara had said: that the source of the conspiracy to kill Tasmina Sharre and take over House Madrassa went further than the Tangs – it was the Guild itself.
“He was the one who diagnosed me, before I left. And he provided me with the introduction to the client I contracted with after I left. Under normal circumstances I would have been a lot more careful, of course.” The shamed look that Mal had encountered the previous night returned. “But I had just been told that I had an almost-certainly terminal illness. And I was so frightened. The Tangs were applying pressure for me to take over leadership on their behalf in different ways. I didn’t know who to trust – who they might have brought over to their side already, by force or not. So I met the client on Sihnon once, and then accepted the contract.”
“Was he – was he part of it?” Mal asked, pushing himself impatiently past a pang of jealousy.
“No. No. I’ve been thinking about, thinking about it so much. I think he was the target. He was a Law Rater, a very powerful man on Sihnon. He decided on laws, allowed some to pass, blocked others. And I think, looking back, that ‘they’, whoever they are, were trying to use me to influence him.”
“How?” asked Mal, exchanging a look with Simon, knowing that they were both remembering their conversation about Betta Korski.
“No-one from House Madrassa knew where I was. I made that conditional on accepting the contract. Now I know why the Guild went along with it. Because they wanted me to contract with him. And even though they agreed to let me effectively cut my ties with my mother House, they found different ways of keeping me in touch with the central organization. I can see it now. The doctor. Also, they provided me with a young girl who acted as my servant. She must have been informing on me.” Inara whispered: “She was so sweet.” She went on. “But more than that, there was somebody who I became friends with. One of my client’s neighbors! Now that I look back I can see that she was the most amazing Companion I have ever met. Because I didn’t even realize she was. Perhaps because I didn’t want to, I don’t know. She seduced me. Not sexually, but in every other way.”
“What did she want you to do?”
Inara laughed without humor. “She wanted me to marry him!”
“Any chance of that?” Mal asked, trying to sound uninterested.
Inara looked away, ashamed again. “Not really.”
Check that out later, thought Mal. Or maybe not.
“What makes these Law-Raters so special, that the Guild would go to so much trouble to bag one?” he asked.
Inara had to pause as the irony of her response resonated deliciously in her mind. “They’re independent,” she said with a wry smile.
Sunday, July 05, 2009 10:05 AM
Sunday, July 05, 2009 10:31 AM
Sunday, July 05, 2009 11:08 AM
Sunday, July 05, 2009 11:14 AM
Sunday, July 05, 2009 12:42 PM
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