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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Inara's and Mal's paths converge.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1167 RATING: SERIES: FIREFLY
This is dedicated to poor Mrs Levine, whose husband is making her read it.
Inara spent her first several days at the temple thinking about everything she had learned. She walked around, from fountain to altar, from altar to the brothel, from there to the orchid garden. Always careful to keep out of sight of the perimeter, where men with captures waited, hoping to get an image of the nearly-sanctified Companion. Had she not left her limousine to rescue a temple brothel girl? And disappeared inside? There were rumors that she had shaved her head, had become a nun herself.
Inara thought nothing of the present. She looked back. More than a year ago she had stumbled away from Sihnon and her contract with the Law Rater. In pain. Now that she was not in pain she became aware that her actions may have been dictated by its ever-presence. She reminded herself of that whenever she felt the need to forgive herself for her weakness.
It was grief that had taken her away too, she saw now: the death of the Tasmina Sharre, Madrassa’s last head, who had raised her since her mother’s death. Even as Tasmina had slipped away, Inara was aware of a growing feeling of discomfort: Ling-Ling was pressing her to meet her brother Edward, and when she did it was to try to insinuate her into whatever plan he had for her beloved House. The two other brothers, William and Henry, had even made a visit from Londinium. A simple act of outnumbering, she saw that now.
She had seen her feelings for Mal as a distraction from her need to find a cure and a way to return to Sihnon in peace and confidence. But he had uncovered part of the story, it now seemed. Two of the women she had known when there were newly-arrived novitiates at the House had disappeared. Inara was convinced now that, if still alive, they would be found within the invisible walls of Betta Korski.
It was tempting, even now, to grieve. It would be the right thing to do. Madrassa was on its knees, depleted from within. Tasmina, for whatever reason and in whatever way, had been compromised by the Tangs. Inara prayed for her, and for the hope that Tasmina had been too weakened by illness to know what she was doing. She was old and fragile, but had adhered to the Guild’s tenets about tackling problems from within. It was this that the Tangs and their associates, whoever they were – the Parliament? Blue Sun? – had exploited.
But any grief she felt was tempered by a recognition of a need to fight; a fierce desire to fight. Her words to the High Priestess had been harsh: ‘I respectfully suggest that you look to your House. This House. There is rot, here, on Sihnon, and in our Guild and in this House!’ The Priestess knew about Ling-Ling’s disappearance and call for help. Surely she would be looking for her?
Which may bring in the police again. Another point of weakness, perhaps the greatest, Inara now saw. Vivian Wa had eschewed any type of involvement by law enforcement: not just because it was mostly male but also because it had an enduring reputation for corruption. And the Guild had stood, strong and independent, for two centuries now, on its own gracefully-clad feet.
Perhaps it was inevitable, that testing times would come. It gave her immense cheer that Good-Son had been kept at the heart of matters. This was the way the Guild had operated in the past – relying on a phalanx of trusted staff, both men and women, who had only the interests of the Guild at heart.
She had already seen where the Tangs’ machinations led: to Miranda. Perhaps not directly, but Lang’s use of his modified Pax made the connection between events on the two great central planets and out on the Rim undeniable.
It was while she was pondering the use of the Pax – on herself, on Saffron? – that she thought she may have fathomed the Law Rater’s involvement. Dr Ronson, Dr Edo, all the people who were using Cellular Renewal Therapy, were operating outside the bounds of the law. Again, Inara felt rather than knew that Lang’s experiments and the clinic’s use of CRT were inextricably linked: without Lang there would be no clinic, without the clinic there would be no illegal use of CRT.
When she felt fully recovered, Inara resolved to look into legislation surrounding CRT and find out if the Law Rater might come, in his capacity as an executor of laws, to be involved.
Inara was at prayer when a tiny bell tinkled in the doorway, announcing that she had a visitor. The forms of prayer allowed her to continue until she had finished, but Inara felt suddenly that her period of rest had ended, that she was ready. She tripped lightly through the temple’s shadowed inner corridors, impatient to find out who awaited her.
Good-Son waited for her in her cell.
“You live like a nun, I see,” he smiled, after they had greeted each other in the correct way. Good-Son was known to be devout and Inara felt a deep satisfaction at having made a choice that pleased him.
“Yes,” Inara smiled. “I had not planned it. But since I have come to reside within the precincts of the temple, it is seems fitting for me to share the rigours of the other inhabitants. I have had great need of prayer.”
This brought them directly to the subject that needed discussing: the moral condition of the Guild, and its related failure to protect its sisters.
“The House Priestess has requested me to visit you,” Good-Son said. “She instructed me to ask plainly if you can assist us in locating Kinza and Tammni, and Ling-Ling.”
Inara felt a pang of guilt at Ling-Ling’s name. “Have you had no news of her?”
“We know she is on Londinium. That is all.”
“I feel that is where the others are,” Inara said, with a rush of confidence – this was what was needed now: Rim muscle and Rim smarts. “I heard during my travels that Betta Korski abducts novitiate Companions. Because of their beauty and calibre they are considered of great value.”
“They are coerced.”
“Perhaps not. I have been in the thrall of the Tangs myself, through the belief that I was mortally ill. If someone seems to offer the hope of a cure, one becomes reliant on them.”
Good-Son bowed his head respectfully, but with feeling too. “I am sorry to hear that you have endured this,” he said gravely.
Inara blinked away her own emotions quickly, allowing Good-Son to continue.
“And may I inform the High Priestess who it was who offered you this hope?”
“A Dr Lang. An associate of Edward Tang’s. He uses an experimental drug, in experimental ways.”
Again Good-Son nodded in acknowledgement of Inara’s experience.
“I have seen the effects of this drug when applied en masse,” Inara continued. “I believe that ultimately the Tangs wish to legalise this drug. They are all board members of Blue Sun, that knowledge is in the public realm. And at the same time they may wish to maintain pressure to outlaw Cellural Renewal Therapy drugs, which act as an antidote. Clearly, it is Blue Sun, or rogue elements - let’s allow them that before we know - that wants to benefit from the sale of both illness and cure.”
“Such complex political matters are not always within my grasp, Miss Serra. It seems inconceivable to me that Parliament will approve a drug that makes people sick.”
Inara smiled a bitterly knowing smile. “Inconceivable indeed,” she said.
“You believe it may happen?”
“I was contracted to a Law Rater, after I fled from Madrassa,” Inara went on. “I expect to discover that he heads, or will fortuitously come to head, the committee for medical matters.”
“And what of Kinza and Tammni? How can we help our sisters?”
Inara thought of, felt Mal: his strength, his reckless bravery. “We will help,” she said.
Days later, Inara was visited by the High Priestess herself.
She knelt down before her, as she had when she was a novitiate, and the Priestess did not demur.
“Forgive me, Mother,” she said, “for my words in our House.”
“You are forgiven, Inara. You are highly valued. You have brought our shortcomings into a harsh light. We knew what they were, but not how grave. Our sisters are suffering. We have not applied ourselves properly to finding them. But you have come and we see a way.”
Inara bowed her head, ashamed by the praise that was being heaped upon her.
“There was a time when I expected you to become House Priestess at Madrassa. Now I see that you have earned a great deal more.”
Inara wanted to shake her head, to protest, but it would be ungracious, wrong.
“If I can be of service,” she said very quietly, “I will.”
“There was a rumor, about you and a certain ship’s captain. That you were in love, outside the bounds of Guild Law.”
Inara said nothing, then nodded.
“Did this man accompany you back to Sihnon?”
“No. But I know where to find him. And he is the one to help.”
Edward was having a hair cut. The hairdresser was one of the family’s oldest retainers, Qu Zhon.
“How is Mr William? And Mr Henry?” Qu Zhon asked, snipping extravagantly. “They ever come to Sihnon to see old family?”
Edward waved a hand languidly. “Oh you know, Qu Zhon. There’s a certain importance that goes around them like a sort of vast belt around the stomach” – he laughed to himself – “that prevents them from leaving Londinium.”
“But they work great, for the poor people, like Qu Zhon!” Qu Zhon laughed, showing a pair of protruding teeth.
“Sihnon very beautiful! They should come, visit old Mrs Tang.”
“Oh yes, yes.” Y – air –sss, y – air – sss. “Very, very beautiful. But they take pleasure in ugly things, it seems.”
Qu Zhon brayed. “You very funny Mr Edward, very funny!” He made intricate combing movements around Edward’s collar line. “And business - good?”
“Well damn it, Qu Zhon,” Edward said. “Your English just never seems to get any better!” He laughed loudly and Qu Zhon laughed too, as though he was amused as he had never been amused before.
“Qu Zhon need practice!” Qu Zhon said enthusiastically.
“Well, since you ask, business has hit a somewhat sticky patch. A bunch of silly women. Well, whores, for a matter of fact. Not entirely unexpected. But you know, one improvises, improvises.”
Qu Zhon frowned slightly, stared a little vacantly in the mirror at Edward. Edward said the word again in Chinese and Qu Zhon laughed again happily.
Saturday, July 14, 2012 3:10 PM
Saturday, July 14, 2012 3:20 PM
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Saturday, July 14, 2012 5:03 PM
Sunday, July 15, 2012 3:21 AM
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