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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Section 1 of 2
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1677 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The usual disclaimers. This is a work of fanfic, not intended to entrench on any parties registered copyright interests. With apologies to Joss Whedon, Sei Shonagon, and all other sources whose brilliance inspired this work. Thanks to Mai and Robin for slogging through this chapter with me.
Authors Note: The events of this and all subsequent entries take place roughly one year before the end of the Second War for Independence, thus they occur before PBIS, Part I: Book of Words. The opening pillow book entry dates back to Inara’s time on Serenity. This is a bit long and I had issues posting it. The second half of this installment is posted separately.
1. In Spring It Is the Dawn
In spring it is the dawn that is the most beautiful. As the light creeps over the sill, cherry blossoms are cast in shadows upon my wall, dyed a faint red which grows richer and deeper in color as the sun rises - a sure sign of passion to come.
In summer the nights. Not only when the moon shines, but on the dark nights too. Chinese lanterns light the paths. Cool breezes blow, a relief after the heat of the day. We lounge in the gardens dressed in light silks, which caress our skin, and gossip about nothing. The sounds of feminine laughter fill the air and the gravel crunches with the steps of clients.
In autumn the evenings, when the glittering sun sinks close to the edge of the hills, the crows fly back to their nests in threes and fours and twos. The House Priestess warned me once, that a crow in your home is unlucky. It portends death. Still, I like to go to my window with strips in my hands and call to them. They fly over and gather the meat from my palms, carrying it back to the nest. I lick the savory juices from my fingers. Do they find it spicy too? It is odd how something so large and fierce-looking could be so gentle. Where the House Priestess sees a murder carrying death on its wings, I see a family.
In winter the early mornings, the sun blinds as its light reflects off of the snow. Being night creatures, most of the house is still asleep. But I find no rest in dreams. I wander the halls watching the servants scuttle to and fro. Gathering linens soiled in love, lighting pine fires to warm our rooms and chase desire’s smell away. I walk outside marveling at the glory of untrodden snow. A perfect white blanket covers the ground and the crisp air cuts my nose when I try to breathe. This is what possibility smells like, sharp and critical. But as the day progresses, heavy boots will spoil its purity. We companions will neglect the fires the servants so carefully laid. Soon nothing remains but piles of white ashes.
But here, in the black, there are no seasons. Instead, sea of stars stretches out as far as you can see. In their twinkling, I hear whispers of promise. Eternity . . . Safety . . . Freedom. I like to go up to the bridge at night, when everyone else is sleeping. Sometimes the Captain is there, too. It may be the only time we’re civil to each other. We stand there in companionable silence just to look, absorbing what the black has to tell us. I wonder what it promises him.
I thought that after the first few months, I’d become bored with all of this: the tiny shuttle, the barely edible protein, the provincial ports, the crime. Kaylee’s questions, Wash’s dinosaurs, Jayne’s leers, Zoe’s weapons, Mal’s moods. That I’d long for the familiar sanctuary of House Madrassa and the comforting sights, smells and sounds of Sihnon. But I haven’t yet. It’s been almost seven months. I’ve made my shuttle a home, nothing compared to the luxury I’m used to, but habitable. The protein, well some things must be borne. The ports still hold more charm than the finest ball. The crime lends an air of excitement . . . though it worries me. The crew, despite their numerous quirks and occasional incompetence, continues to grow on me and every night I have the stars. Always the same, always different. The most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.
The Pillow Book of Inara Serra
Part II: Book of the Seasons
The Black, Final Months of the Second War for Independence
Mal absent mindedly fingered his treasure while studying the stars.
“You in trouble again Sir?”
“Stay in trouble to keep from getting that way Zoe.” Mal answered, “Why you askin’ anyhow?”
“Well a couple of things. One, Inara sending Serenity down with Kaylee to see you off rather than coming herself. Two, you hitting every book store in Calliope, though that ain’t saying much considering there are only four of them. But you did leave me and my darlin’ husband to make the drop which ain’t like you. And three, you been way too quiet, just playing with that book and staring off into space. I’d say it’s been a good six hours since you insulted Wash here, he’s feeling down right neglected.”
“Really Mal, sometimes I think you just don’t love me no more,” Wash chimed in his best southern bell accent.
Zoe shot her beloved a look letting him know that she was none to pleased with his interruption. “Right, I’m flying. Husbands are to be seen and not heard.”
“All the signs point to trouble on the home front. If you don’t mind me saying, Sir.”
Mal smirked. “Where do you women get your intuition from?”
“Could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you, Sir. Pissed though she may be, don’t think Inara would appreciate me bringing you home in a bag. You wanna talk about it?”
Mal considered making his standard excuse of having captainy things to do and running. But the fact was things were bad and he had no idea how to fix them. He looked briefly towards Wash, but decided it would be nice to have another source of testosterone in the room, maybe have someone on his side for a change. “It’s nothin’ really,” he started cautiously. “It’s just she’s been all tetchy since that episode with River. Got some bee in her bonnet. She ain’t sleepin’. Paces about all night. I mean one minute she’s beggin’ me to leave my sinful ways and take her to the furthest corner of the Rim, the next she’s lookin’ at me like she’d sooner shoot me than touch me.”
“Mal you do produce unique reactions in women,” Wash offered trying to lighten the mood. Zoe jabbed him none too gently in the ribs. “What, am I the only one who remembers Patience, Saffron, Mabel?” Now both of them were glaring at him. “Alright. Flying now, foot firmly in mouth.”
Mal was beginning to regret his decision to let Wash stay. No, he was regretting opening his mouth in the first place. “This ain’t like any fight we ever had before, and that is sayin’ something.”
“So you thought you’d buy her some nice piece of precious and that’d make it all better?” Zoe fixed him with her patented ‘you dumb ass’ look, usually reserved for Wash and when Mal’s back was turned.
“Just thought it’d make her happy. Ain’t like it's a negligee. That’d make me happy,” he shrugged. “Hell, I’d find a way to buy that woman the whole gorram ‘verse just to have her smile again.”
“That’s sweet, Sir, but when you gonna finally figure out that ‘Nara ain’t like that no more? She probably never was to begin with. She don’t want something fancy, she wants you.”
“Mal,” Zoe flashed Wash a look of final warning. “What, don’t I get to play? Seriously, hello people. Voice of expert outsider here. I mean, sometimes you two. . .” Wash stopped and started again. “I just mean sharing isn’t easy. It’s something a woman like Inara most probably never had to do. It’s not enough that there’s the crew and the kid. She’s literally stuck in the middle of nowhere, millions of miles from everything she ever knew, in a life she probably never imagined. Was I the only one watching the first time she had to pump water? Bound to drive anyone crazy, even if they are in love.”
Kwin-gwe-je deh! Wash was supposed to be on his side, whatever happened to male solidarity and such. “Fine, I understand, this is all my fault. Should have left her to fuck strangers happily into her old age. When we get back to Shadow I’ll give her the tah mah de book and then dump her in the nearest fancy city. That sound alright to you two. Now can we please choose a different issue to orpahize.”
“Sure Sir, whatever you say.”
They just sat there for a few minutes sayin’ nothin’. Damn all women! Though she was perfectly still, Mal could tell Zoe was still itchin’ to tell him somethin’. Fine! He’d bite. “So, you two ain’t always the picture of marital bliss, what do you do to make things right?”
“Well,” Wash began, “First, I bribe Kaylee to baby-sit. Then, I like to draw the little woman a hot bath, light a few candles, get a fine bottle of wine, or the nearest equivalent there of, and then I like to . . .”
Zoe cut him off, “Sex.”
Mal was shocked to see that her face was perfectly serious. “I see, well absent some very powerful juju, that ain’t happen’ with me and ‘Nara.”
Zoe continued as if he hadn’t spoken, “Sex is our foreplay, the fight’s the main event. Wash and I can workout our problems because we get rid of all the physical tensions. After that, people are generally more open to listening to each other. Ain’t that right Sugar Plum.”
“You the boss, Lamby Toes.”
“You and Inara start out by shouting,” she continued. “You keep ripping into each other until one of you starts kissing the other, just to shut them up. That may be fun, but nothing gets resolved.”
“So you’re sayin’ I should toss her over my shoulder, caveman like and ravage her?” Mal was finally being to like the direction of this conversation.
“Could be. But then you gotta listen to what she’s trying to tell you.”
“Ah, Mal, not to interrupt the session . . .”
“She’s trying to tell you something and you ain’t hearin’ it.”
“Sir!” “You gotta wake up!” “We got a problem over here! The Alliance is waving us, demanding to come aboard!”
“What the . . .”
“Sir, the Alliance is waving us.” “You gotta wake up!”
“I heard you the first time.”
“Sir you gotta . . .”
“Huh!” Mal sat straight up nearly head butting Josh in the process.
“He awake yet?” An annoyed voice called. Cat green eyes stared down at the two men, waiting to see if there’d be any new development in the farce called their lives.
“Yeah, Shih, you can leave the cold water up there. We ain’t gonna have ta dunk him this time,” Josh called.
“Good, we got little enough as is,” she grumbled not even trying to hide her disdain. “I’ll be on the bridge if you need me.”
Deciding to ignore the verbal barbs from his lesser half, Josh repeated, “Sir, you with us?”
“Yeah,” Mal replied, adjusting to the fact that he was on the Eumenide, and that other ship was long gone. His head was pounding; his mouth tasted like something had died in it. “I thought I said I didn’t want to be disturbed.”
“You also said to make sure you had enough time to get cleaned ‘fore we landed on Shadow,” Josh fixed him with a look similar to the one Zoe used to give him when he was bad, all the worst parts of indulgence, pity, and disappointment. With his dark curly hair and penchant for hopelessly tacky attire, there was no mistaking the boy’s lineage. “Well, we’re about two hours out and judging by the sight of you, I shouda come here an hour ago.”
“Don’t you smart me boy. I’m still the capt . . . commander around these parts,” Mal snapped in a good-hearted manner.
“Right, well you know Kaylee don’t like no one to come home dirty, much less smellin’ of booze. So I respectfully suggest that you get a move on.”
“Git would ya, I’ll be on the bridge in 10.”
“Yes, Sir,” Josh saluted as he left the Commander’s quarters.
** The Eumenide Bridge, Two Hours Later**
Ching Shih sat easily in the pilot’s chair watching Shadow come into view. She checked coordinates and made a few adjustments. No sense in crashing before the Commander had a chance to drink himself to death. Where would be the fun in that? Shadow was a poor excuse for a planet. She resented having to spend her what precious little leave time she got there. Of course, it wasn’t like she had anywhere else to go. The Alliance had reclaimed her home planet leaving no survivors. Unfortunately, she and her parents had been off-world when it happened. Now that they were gone, the Commander and his rag-tag team were the closest thing she had to a family. ‘Sides, she secretly liked being on the Suicide Squadron. No other brigade went on crazier mission, or killed more purple bellies. None brought as many out safe, either. Mal was an amazing commander, and they loved him for it. It was a shame that he just sucked as a human being.
“Where the hell is he?” Shih sniped, as she heard Josh coming onto the bridge. “We’re about to break atmo, shouldn’t he be up here giving me directions or something?”
Josh looked at her, thinking she might be pretty with her short dark hair and big green eyes. Might be, if he didn’t know what a cast-iron bitch she was. “Ah, darlin’, have you no patience? The man’s about to see his family for the first time in over two years, he’s allowed a little vanity. Sides, I know where we’re going. I grew up here, remember.”
“How could I forget? If I have to hear you sing the glories of the kindly Kaylee or the beauteous Serenity one more time, I might just have to shoot myself. Commander know you’re sweet on his little girl?” She teased.
“I ain’t sweet on her, she’s like my kid sister.” Josh replied flatly. “And lay off of that particular subject, ‘less you wanna see Mal crawl right back into a bottle.”
“Yeah, well he is not allowed to drink every last drop of whiskey we got on this boat. Some of us may be thirsty too, you know.”
“Mal’s gotta a lotta of pent-up stress. He stays dry so long as we’re on a mission. He just tends to let himself go after. Plus, comin’ back to Shadow ain’t never easy for him. Too many memories there. Too many for all of us.”
Serenity ran. She could hear him behind her breathing heavily, his boots crunching in the snow. Snow. . . It had been falling heavily for almost three hours now and formed a thick blanket on the forest floor. Gorramit he was following her tracks. It wasn’t fair! She had been so careful the first few hours to cover them up, but then she had heard him, and the instinct to flee had taken over. She stopped, breathing heavily, hefting her heavy pack so it sat more squarely on her shoulders. Looking around it occurred to her that she was humped big time. If she stayed where she was, he’d find her and it be all over. If she ran, there was no way to cover her tracks in the deep snow, making it only a matter of minutes.
“Serenity, come on kid give it up.”
He was close now. She felt her heart thumping as the frozen air cut at her lungs. Fear was the mind killer. Panic had put her in this position, and only calm was going to get her out. She breathed deeply trying to still her thoughts. Over the rasping of her lungs and the sound of her pursuer’s fumblings, she could hear the creek. Not the best option considering the freezing temperature, but better than getting caught. Serenity dumped her pack, flinging its contents willy-nilly hoping that he’d stop to investigate. Then she took off towards that blessed sound, running in a zig-zag pattern and then back tracking carefully hoping that between the pack and misleading footprints that she bought herself some precious time.
Lao-tyen boo, the water was cold. She had run over a mile down the creek in the direction she had come from and could not feel her legs anymore. Even if she didn’t get caught, Kaylee was gonna kill her for ruining yet another set of boots. Serenity slogged out of the water and up the nearest tree to get her bearings. Yes, she could see the smoke from the ranch and knew she was nearly home. She was gonna make it and finally beat him at his own game. She climbed down the tree slowly, luxuriating in her impending victory. She was so enamored with her triumph that the heavy hand landing on her shoulder caught her totally by surprise.
“Caught you!” River giggled. “Jayne, she’s over hear.”
Serenity swung around, a pout already forming on her full lips. “River, that ain’t fair, you ain’t part of this exercise.”
“’When troubles come, they come not in single spies but in battalions.’” River replied cryptically. Oh well, the day River started making sense would be the day hell would freeze over.
“I was so close to winnin’, why’d you have go and ruin it?”
“Had to.” She replied, “The furies have landed and justice must be dealt.”
Before Serenity could even start to unravel River latest riddle, Jayne came running up, his face beet red from the hours of exertion. Despite the cold and the slightly skewed faded orange and yellow-striped hat, with its ridiculous puff at the top, Serenity could see that sweat soaked his gray hair. Yep, at least, she had given the old man a good run for his money.
“Dang nab it girl, didn’t you hear me callin’ for you.”
“You didn’t think I was gonna fall for that old trick, did ya? I remember the last time you ‘called off’ the tracking session only to lecture me for two hours on never trusting what the enemy had to say.”
“You do what I say, not what I . . . Never mind, Kaylee called me on the com link, yer Pa’s home and . . .” Jayne didn’t get a chance to finish, Serenity had already started running towards the Ranch.
“Pride goeth before the fall,” River called after the girl.
“Hey wait,” he called but it was too late, he would have to sprint to catch up with her.
“I’m getting too old for this go se.”
“Too old to chase young girls, won’t the ladies in town will be sorry to here that,” River observed.
Jayne glared in her direction, “Ya gotta dirty mind. Anyone ever tell you that?”
“Yes, and remember I can kill you with it,” River reminded him before cackling and running off.
Jayne shook his head, glad that the mule was parked only a short distance away. At least one of them would not have to run back.
Mal sat comfortably on the old sofa, his bad leg propped up on a well-cushioned stool, sipping hot cider from his favorite mug. It felt good to be home. Across the room Kaylee was still fussing over Josh, admiring how tall he’d grown and checking to make sure that Mal fed him properly while they were out on campaign.
“Where are the rest of troops? I need to know how many we’re havin’ to supper, you know how Sarah hates surprises.”
It again occurred to Mal again that he should marry Kaylee. She was the best woman he knew. She reminded him of his momma, soft but strong. Ran the ranch like she was born to it, keeping them out of the red and even putting a little aside. Even after all the years of the war and havin’ to live out here with just River, Jayne, and a few ranch hands for company, Kaylee maintained her sunny disposition. Hell, she even loved the girl. Kaylee had raised her like she were her own. A man couldn’t ask for more in a wife.
“I stationed them right outside of town. Think they need to blow off a little steam before they’re fit for civilized company.”
“And how ‘bout you Cap’n, you ready to be civilized?”
He put down his mug and walked over to her, trapping her in a giant bear hug before kissing her softly on the forehead. “Lil’ Kaylee, ain’t I always good?”
“Tyen shuh duh, Cap’n.”
The problem was, he wasn’t in love with her, or she with him. For Mal, this wasn’t an issue. He had had his fill of that particular emotion. But for Kaylee, love meant something. She still longed for the boy. Mal pushed all thoughts of marriage aside. Why did he need a wife, when he had the best mei-mei in the entire ‘verse.
“Pa!” A whirlwind of long curling black hair, bright blue eyes, snow, and mud came hurtling through the door. “Pa, ya here?”
Kaylee felt Mal involuntarily stiffen in her arms. Serenity had changed a lot in the past two years. She was all had been legs and arms, like a foal, the last time he’d seen her. Now she’d grown into a young woman, one who resembled the past too much for her own good.
“Serenity Prudence Reynolds, I know you ain’t trackin your muddy boots all over my living room.”
“Sorry, a yi.” The dressing down had clearly failed to knock any of the shine out of her as she glowed at her father. “I’ll clean it up as soon as I welcome the heroes home. Hey ya, Josh.” She waved at her play brother who shyly returned the salute, before turning her full attention on Mal. “Hi Pa, I’m so happy you’re home. Are you okay? Where ya been? How long you stayin’? Ya bring me anything?”
“Girl,” he nodded in acknowledgement as if that one word held the answer to her barrage of questions and enthusiasm. Mal shook himself mentally. They looked so much alike it was creepifin’. Same face, same hair, same build. Only certain features, the eyes and maybe the nose, even suggested the presence of another’s genes. Apart from that, he might as well have been looking at a ghost.
Ignoring his distinctively chilly countenance, Serenity ran up and flung her arms around him. “I missed you so much. I prayed every night God would bring you back to us, and he did.”
Mal gently pushed her away. No, they were nothing alike. The girl lacked her mother’s inherent sense of style and grace. Beyond the physical resemblance, there was nothing of Inara in this little prairie harpy. Mal couldn’t help but be glad. He forced a smile and patted her on the back. “Now lets leave god outta of this. He ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. You bein’ good? Helpin’ Kaylee on the ranch and such?”
“Yeah, of course,” she beamed. “But trainin’ with Jayne takes up most of my time these days.”
“Yeah, so I can join you and Josh. I’ve been marching, shooting, fighting, drilling. You gotta watch me with the bow and arrow, I can take down a runnin’ squirrel. Jayne says I’m the best tracker he’s ever seen.”
“Well mei-mei, we’ll have to see if you’ve got what it takes to join the Suicide Squadron,” Josh challenged.
“No we ain’t,” Mal said cutting him off. “Josh, you go join the rest of the company. I’ll be there soon.”
“But Mal, I just got here. Kaylee said we’re having pie with dinner.”
“I gave you an order Sergeant!”
“Yes sir.” Josh could smell the tension in the air. He hated leaving Serenity to face Mal when he was in one of his moods, but arguing would only make it worse. “Kaylee,” he nodded to the woman who helped to raise him. She had gone stock still as if bracing herself for what was coming. “I’ll be seeing you soon.” He turned to his mei-mei offering her a wan smile of apology, “Kiddo, take care of yourself.” He left wishing that he hadn’t talked Mal into coming back to Shadow in the first place.
Once the door closed, Mal returned his attention to Serenity. He looked into the eyes of the girl they said was his daughter. “You ain’t goin’ no where except upstairs to put on proper clothes and then back down here to clean up this rutting mess you made.”
“But I’m fifteen now,” she whimpered, “That’s the legal age to enlist. Josh weren’t much older than me when he joined up.”
“The Alliance took Josh’s ma and pa, he got a right to seek justice,” Mal explained in the same blunt staccato he used for giving order.
“They killed my mother, ain’t I got the same right?” Serenity shouted back.
“Mal,” Kaylee’s voice echoed with warning.
Mal tried to repress a sigh, he was tired and his leg was achin’ something fierce. He didn’t have the patience to deal with her now. “That’s a different situation,” he tried to reason.
“Why?” Serenity asked.
He could see she was on the brink of tears. When he was younger, softer, the sight of Kaylee almost crying could always make him relent. The girl, with her face all flushed and lips quivering, only served to piss him off. “Because I say it is!” he shouted. “Your place is here on this ranch helpin’ your Aunt Kaylee, not runnin’ off to some corner of the ‘verse, abandoning all your responsibilities.”
“No, I understand,” Serenity whispered, “that’s your job.”
He slapped her. The action was so quick it barely registered in his mind. The next thing he knew she was holding the side of her face. Kaylee was by the girl in seconds, her arms wrapped around her narrow shoulders, looking at Mal like he was the monster in the room. “Bao bei, are you okay?”
Serenity nodded, fighting not to cry in front of her father. “Didn’t hurt none. I got things ta do,” she said gently shaking off Kaylees embrace. She walked toward the door with as much dignity as possible, trying to ignore the searing pain in her cheek, her frozen feet forgotten.
“Girl . . . I . . .” Mal couldn’t find the words to make it right, to take back what he had done.
She turned back and looked at Mal with something just short of hatred in her eyes. “It ain’t fair. She might have meant nothing to you, but she means something to me.” And then the girl was gone.
Feeling low was becoming second nature to Mal. The girl had the smack comin’ with her smart mouth and messy ways. Most probably took worse if she really had been trainin’ with Jayne. She would definitely get worse if she went to the war. But knowing all those truths did not help Mal feel any less like a bastard.
“I think you better go check on your squad,” Kaylee said. All the joy of homecoming had been sucked out of the room, in its place lay the bitterness of reality.
“Kaylee,” Mal started, “Neither of us want her at the front. She . . . she’s the only thing we’ve got left.”
“Your right Cap’n. Only difference is, I ain’t punishin’ her for somethin’ she never done. We agreed to that along time ago.”
“It ain’t like that. I didn’t mean to hit her, just lost my head is all.” He could see that Kaylee had stopped listening to him. All he wanted was to come home and have things the way they used to be for awhile. The girl made that impossible. “I’m a mean old man,” he said desperately reaching out for their old rapport.
“Yeah Cap’n, yeah you are.”
The Parliament, Londinium
They had been arguing for three days straight now. Troop number . . . troop rations . . . troop reinforcements . . . troop deployment. She felt like she had all the legions of the Alliance marching through her head. The fine leather of her seat was becoming unbearably hot and the red hangings of the council chamber were beginning to give her a headache. Even the smell of the expensive bees wax used to shine the desks was making her feel sick, not to mention the continuous droning of self-important voices. And then there was the Chancellor.
“What does the Guild have to say?”
Holding him. . . reassuring him. . . . counseling him. She often felt more like his mother than his mistress. No, children were easier to deal with. “My lady,” Mai kicked her foot lightly dragging her from her dark reverie. “They’re discussing the reclamation of Shadow.”
Ambassador Kali snapped to attention. She rose, bowing to the assembled stockholders. “With all due respect to this Council, the Guild will not sanction the mass slaughter of thousands of innocents.”
General Wing regarded his most pernicious adversary, why did that woman never shut-up. Sometimes he was convinced she had a personal vendetta against him. She always found a way to pick apart his best proposals. This time he was right. Despite its claims of neutrality, Shadow had become a haven for the Independents. An example had to be made. “With all due respect to the lovely Ambassador, she is perhaps better versed in the arts of passion, than warfare.” Snickers followed, echoing throughout the chamber. Wing felt a little better. A whore should know her place.
“Perhaps, General Wing. Though judging by how the war is going I could say the same for you. I’m sorry, how many planets have we lost to the rebel scum?” The Ambassador sneered, happy for once that her face was veiled, as rumbles of mirth and discontent followed in the wake of her statement. “Of course, my sisters tell me you are also wanting in that other department as well.” The rumble erupted into open waves of laughter.
Wing shot to his feet, “I serve the Alliance. I will not be insulted by some . . .” The Chancellor cut him off.
“Ambassador Kali, you are only here by the grace of this Council,” Chancellor Láng warned. “You will honor it and its member. No matter their short-comings.” He added with a slight smile.
Kali gracefully bowed her head to the Chancellor. “My humble apologies, Chancellor. General Wing, as always it is our pleasure to serve you.” Returning her attention to the Council, “Gentlemen, the Alliance’s interests are the Guild’s interests. The General is right, of course. Your dominion is the battlefield and boardroom, ours the boudoir. But much can be learned in bed. For years we have faithfully served you, telling all we knew. There are no better spies in the universe. But, how are we to gather useful information, if men do not . . . come? Few think of passion when grieving for hearth and home. The destruction of Shadow would pauper us all.”
Seeing an opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty, Councilor Shan spoke. “Her Excellency may have a point. Detonating terra bombs on Shadow could only inflame the rebel resistance like it did when we destroyed Calliope. Not to mention the risk of creating more Reavers. Perhaps a softer touch is needed. Her Excellency has a plan, I presume.”
Gods, but she did hate the way that man groveled for favor. “Councilor Shan is as wise as his great ancestor. We agree with General Wing, Shadow’s defiance in harboring the rebels must be punished. But we propose occupation, not annihilation. The rebels will be far less effective knowing we hold their loved ones.” Murmurs of approval followed her speech and she knew she had them. She had never been wrong in judging a client, she certainly was not going to fail now. Though seven more hours of debating followed, the vote was 64/36, easily in her favor though not the wide majority for which she had hoped. General Wing was gaining support amongst the great families. Something would have to be done.
Wing left the Council Chamber in a rage.
“Atherton wait.” Shan Yu XIV called, stretching his short legs to catch up with the taller man.
“How dare you take that slut’s side against me, humiliate me in front of the whole council!” Wing hissed, barely controlling his anger.
“Her side, never, I was trying to save your hide by appeasing the bitch. You must tread carefully my dear boy, the Queen of Whores has a great deal of influence over the Chancellor. You would be wise to stay on her good side.”
“The woman has no good side. Why do you think she shrouds herself in all those veils. I hear she’s deformed. A former client probably uglied her up to get even for some slight. Too bad he didn’t take her tongue in the process.”
“She certainly has held the Chancellor for enough years, she must have some charms. I imagine she’s so stunning that the Chancellor keeps her veiled out of jealously. And forgive me, but she certainly has wit.”
“A harlot’s tongue, lisping go se. The only good thing about losing this war is that it will rid us of that fool, his whore, and the God damn company.”
“If the Chancellor falls, we all do,” Shan protested.
“Perhaps, but not necessarily.” Wing had to plan.
Monday, December 27, 2004 10:26 AM
Tuesday, December 28, 2004 3:09 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:36 PM
Sunday, January 16, 2005 9:56 AM
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