Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The Alliance invasion of Shadow begins. What would you sacrifice to protect what you loved?
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1794 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
25. Underneath the Cherry Blossoms
Underneath the cherry blossoms is where we used to play. In their rose tinted shade, I first learned the touch of love. Even today, our initials intertwine where she boldly carved them into the bark. Here, I thought nothing could ever hurt me again.
Underneath the cherry blossoms is where I laid her to rest.
These ashes are not Nandie. Part of her lives in the Heart of Gold and her people there. Gently whispering in their ears . . . suggesting which caress brings the most pleasure . . . imbuing the rooms with the spirit that transforms a building into a home. Part of her still runs through the halls of House Madrassa, singing off key at the top of her lungs. Simultaneously disturbing and exciting the clients with the shear force of her personality.
Part of her will always live in me.
The family bought Nandie as a graduation gift for him, but he never wanted her. I always did. I wanted to see her, touch her. Her laughter made my dead house come alive. I would spend hours following her from room to room. Standing in the shadows, I tried imitate her movements, her voice, her gestures. I wanted to be her.
Nandie warned me. The night before they took her away from me, she held me as I begged her to stay. “Be careful Pina. It’s not right . . . the way he looks at you . . .it . . . it’s just not right. If you ever want to leave go to House Madrassa on Sihnon. Oh mei-mei, if you ever need me I will be there.”
And she was. Less than a year later, I stood shivering at the gates begging for entrance. The High Priestess heard my name and was ready to turn me away, give me to the authorities. Nandie ran to fetch Ishtar, Shen Sheng Wuh de Ma of the Guild.
“Holy Mother, I met this girl while I was on Londonium. I promised her the protection of the Guild, now the High Priestess want to send her away,” Nandie rushed.
“This ‘girl’ is a curse,” Jie Shan Li hissed.
Ishtar held up her hand, silencing her. “I know what she is. What brings you here, little Sun Princess?”
I couldn’t speak, couldn’t think. I sank down on my knees and lowered my head. “I have been trapped my entire life. I want to be free.”
Ishtar’s expression was one of whimsy tinged with sadness, “Oh child, don’t you know that even freedom has a price? When the time comes, will you be willing to pay it?”
I thought she meant being a companion. Having to lie down with strangers in exchange for coin, tithing part of my fee back to the Guild. Now, I know better. Ignorance is a blessing all its own. It allows us to make choices with no reckoning of their cost.
The gates opened. Ishtar touched my face and for the first time I felt truly valued. She named me and my life changed.
“Rise and enter Inara Serra. We will teach you to take pleasure without regret, to gain power through service, to find freedom in submission. When we are done, the verse will do your bidding and you will be our ray of light in the dark days to come.”
Underneath the cherry blossoms, I learned to be a companion.
A companion is never angry or scared. To be so, means that someone else has the power to control her emotions. She is always serene because she has the utmost confidence in herself and her abilities. She is always free, because she will not rely on others. She may deal in her own flesh, but never her soul. That belongs to her alone.
Some would call us whores or, worse, slaves. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perfection may be our canon, but freedom is our religion. A true companion would rather die that sacrifice choice or identity. We are taught to enjoy the company of others, to find the beauty in each soul, but to never rely on anyone but ourselves for happiness. This is why we do not take lovers. For us, love means losing little pieces of yourself bit by bit, day by day, till one morning you wake up and there is nothing left. I learned the meaning of freedom at House Madrassa. I was happy there. It was my home. I never wanted to leave.
Now, I’m home again. Under the cherry blossoms, I sit alone.
The Pillow Book of Inara Serra
Part IV: Book of Gifts
****Styx 12 Years Ago***
“I don’t wanna go, Mama.”
“Matt, this is the only way.” Her baby looked like he was gonna cry. Amy didn’t want to send him away. But with Billy, little Stevey and another baby on the way, there just weren’t enough food to feed ‘em all.
“Why can’t Billy go, he da oldest?” Mat snuffled.
“’Cause I needs him here on the farm,” William stated stomping up to the boy and his mother. Little pansy was whinin’ again. William hated that, just like he hated the boy’s fancy ways and book learnin’. Boy thought he was better than his own pa. *Look at that yella hair fallin’ all the way down to his shoulder. Think he’d were a girl, lessin’ you look real hard and close.* “Stop that blubberin’, what will ‘em fine city folks think of you with your face all puffed up like a Christmas turkey.”
Amy didn’t want their last moments to be like this. Lord only knew when the next time they’d see him. “Will, please . . .”
“Was I talkin’ to you woman?” William snapped, bringing his hand down to emphasize his point. “Sendin’ him to school be the best thing for him. Only way to get him off your apron strings.”
Matt stared up at his pa. *I hates you too, old man.* Someday when he were old enough, strong enough, he’d come back here and take his mama, Stevie, and the baby away form all this. They’d never have to worry again, cause he’d never let anyone hurt them.
Matt stood silently making his plans as a dark car pulled up. Two gentlemen in matching fancy city clothes got out. They seemed to hover towards the porch where the family stood. Both had funny smiles plastered on their faces kinda like the one that old Mrs. Smith had when they laid out at the wake.
“Mr. and Mrss. Summersss, yesss.” They spoke in unison. Mat wondered how they could manage to get the words out with their thin lips stretched as far as they could go and teeth bared.
“Yep,” William answered. “This be our boy, Matt.”
The taller one floated forward, reaching out with a blue-gloved hand to capture Matt’s chin. The gentleman examined the boy. “Oh, ssspecial, very ssspecial,” he hissed with glee. He looked up stretching the toothy grin even farther. “Your ssson is truly a giffft. Thank you.”
The hand shifted, snake fast, grabbing Matt’s arm and pulling him down the stairs. They tossed him like a sack of taters into the back of the car.
“Wait!” Amy ran down to the car. In one had she held Matt’s bag, in the other small box. “You almost forgot your things,” she panted.
“Please don’t send me away. They’ll hurt me like they do the others,” Matt pleaded.
“Oh, don’t start on that again. Now, be Mama’s brave little boy,” she said the tears running down her cheeks. She handed them the suitcase and then the box. “See, I baked your favorite cinnamon buns. That should tide you over until supper. I love . . .”
The car pulled off before she could even finish her goodbyes. Mat sat clutching his box, inhaling the comforting smells of cinnamon and vanilla. “I know what’cha are. I know what’cha do,” he snarled at the strangers who sat across from him.
“Ssso talented already, isn’t he Mr. Croup.”
“And we haven’t even begun to cut, Mr. Vandemaar.”
“Perhapsss we should take a clossser look the other children,” Croup suggested.
“The oldessst will be dead from fever in lesss than a year. The mother will missscarry the one she’sss breeding now.” Vandemaar stretched his scrawny neck towards the child. “Your daddy will beat it out of her.”
“Sssuch a waste,” Croup mourned.
“It doesssn’t matter,” Vandemaar reasoned. “We have the pick of the litter.”
Pressing himself deeper into the corner of car, little Matt Summers started to cry.
***Battleship Mars, Present ***
*I wanna go home*
*Open up. See what's inside.*
*Oh God. . . yes. . . don’t stop*
*This must have been what Rome looked like in the last days,* Summers mused as made his way through the crowded decks of the Mars. Hundreds of bodies cramped the small area. Couples openly fornicated on the floor and tables, along the walls, and anywhere else they could find to mate. The recycled air reeked of cheap rice wine, sweat, cum, cunt, and despair. The stench was making him nauseous. All around him, the cream of the Alliance corps, at least what was left of it, attempted to fuck and drink their way into oblivion in the obliging arms of scores of companions.
*Mercy... mercy... no. Mercy.*
*I can’t believe I’m missing the cotillion for this go se*
*Kate, I love you Kate*
*If he calls me that one more time he won’t make it to Shadow*
It would have made an amusing scene if weren’t for the smell and sound. Summers had stopped taking his meds in preparation for executing Ambassador Kali’s little chore. He now regretted that decision. Hundreds of thoughts assaulted him from all sides, threatening to drive him insane. Prayers, curses, sighs, whimpers, screams, and moans merged to create an inescapable cacophony of noise as meaningless as their lives and missions.
*I don’t want to die*
*Umm . . . I’d do you for free*
“No thank you,” Summer gritted out walking past a particularly pathetic pair. Even if the dumb bastard rutting with the whore survived the war, her disease would kill him in a matter of years. Stupid cow didn’t know she was poxed. She had contracted it about a week ago from a client who had paid an extra thousand credits to have a “natural” experience. It hadn’t shown up in the test the Guild administered before she came on board, but Summers could already see the poison coursing through her body. In four years time that perfect complexion would be mottled with lesions and running sores. Who’d want her then?
*Pray for us sinner now*
*The boy deserves a good thrust, considering he’s not long for this world*
*Weak. They were all weak.*
Summers pondered the distance to the airlock and whether the pain of implosion could be any worse than spending one more second in this flying tomb. *Nimen dou shi sagua,* he hated these fucking people and their pathetic excuses for lives. As far as he was concerned death would make a marked improvement in all their dispositions. Cattle. They were all cattle for the slaughter.
*I’M OVER HERE GOD DAMNIT!*
Summers snapped out of his ruminations and finally noticed a pair of amethyst eyes boring into him from across the room. *Ah, the contact.* He walked towards into the small space beneath the stairs. She clasped his hand and gently pulled him away from the crowd towards her private room.
A small man in a funny bowler hat watched their progress. *So the Ambassador’s pet companion finally came to play.* He waited a few moment and then pushed the girl serving him aside. “Thanks luv.” The Gov’na told ‘im to keep ‘is eyes peeled for anything interstin’ concernin’ li’le Mai. *This could get intrestin,’* he thought following the pair.
If one were to look at a chart of Malcolm Reynolds’s life it would resemble a map of the Guai’s Moon. Though it was terra-formed in the early days of exploration, no one lived there seeing as how it weren’t nothin’ but a ragged collection of sharp peaks joined together haphazardly by a series of desolate valleys. A few intrepid colonist had tried to homestead there but life couldn’t grow in its hard, gravely soil. Those who didn’t die of starvation moved on in less than a year, poorer for their sad efforts.
Such had been Mal’s existence. A few precarious moments of happiness joined together by the inevitable falls from grace. The pattern had started early in his life. At the age of seven he’d run all the way home from school happy as a clam after winnin’ spellin’ bee only to find his no-account pa shacked up with one of the ranch hands. Pa left three days later takin’ his slut with him. Mal never saw him again and, frankly, didn’t give a shit whether his old man were alive or dead.
The pattern was firmly set by the time Mal was in his early twenties and discovered that the angels above Serenity Valley weren’t nothin’ but Alliance cruiser come to broker a less than honorable peace with the traitorous hundans in the Independence brass. The wheel of fate, under whose spokes Mal seemed to live his life, turned again when he and Zoe received an early release from the Federal “reeducation camp” they’d been sent to after the war. They caught the next transport back to Shadow arrivin’ just in time to see his mama draw her last breadth. There was a lot Prudence Reynolds never told her son. She never told him when she’d caught the damp lung two years earlier. Never told him that she’d sold the ranch and all her worldly possession to secure his and Zoe’s release. Mama never even got to tell him how proud she was or that she loved him.
Mal took the last of her savings, bought himself the freedom he couldn’t win in blood. And for a time he’d been happy, well as close to that particular emotion as he dare get. . That was before the whore came and taught him entirely new levels of elation and suffering.
So, it should have come as no surprise when Josh Washburn-Warren ran ashen faced into the cargo hold as Mal fenced with Chandara merrily musin’ on the success of the Persephone mission and distant dreams of revenge.
“What?” Distracted Mal spun right into the private’s untipped saber, the sharpened blade grazing his arm.
Josh breathlessly said, “Shih needs to see you on the bridge, now!”
He bowed and tossed his blade to his grinning opponent. “Please shoot me the next time it looks like I’m having a remotely pleasant thought,” he growled storming after the already sprinting Josh.
Mal entered the bridge expecting the standard remark about him being a slow old man from his typically smart mouthed pilot. The silence that greeted him spoke volumes and made the blood welling from his arm run cold.
“This just came over the cortex, Sir,” Ching Shih stated quietly. She took a beat searching for the right words. For once, her vast intellect failed her. “The Alliance is all over the Umbra Quadrant, they are invading Shadow.”
It’s possible to fall, even when you are at your lowest. Mal learned that when he finally returned to Shadow after a year of running from Inara’s goons. In his absence, Simon had up and disappeared, while Jayne had come to help Kaylee run the ranch. He remembered kneeling there holding his little girl swearin’ that he’d never let her go. He remembered thinkin’ that Serenity was the one good thing to come from him and ‘Nara. Jayne had taken all that away when he called Mal off to the side and sheepishly confessed that he had suspected Inara of cheating for years. Claimed he would’ve said somethin’ earlier, only the whore had been bribin’ him. Put his family up in the Core where Jayne’s sister could get the best treatment and paid for all the doctor’s bills.
Jayne always did have a shitty sense of timing.
“Huh . . .” Was all Mal could think to say.
“Gorram Purplebellies is almost on Shadow Mal. We gotta go get the others. We gotta go get ‘em now,” Josh blurted out.
Shih spoke calmly, trying to diffuse the situation. “You zhende shi tiancai. If these reports are right there over a thousand ships, we’d never make it.”
“Thought you was always in the mood to kill,” Josh barked.
“Yeah, but I’m not in the mood to die today. I like fights I have chance of winning. . .”
“Enough!” Mal yelled, “I ain’t got time for ya’ll snappin’ at each other. Shih get Command on the line.”
Shih took a deep breadth, pissed at herself for loosing it, and even more pissed at Josh for pushing her. “Sir,” she breathed again, “There’s something else you should see. It came from the Brass with the notice about Shadow.” She flipped a switch changing the cortex screen and quickly moved out of the way.
A serenely beautiful face appeared on the screen. “This is a private message for Malcolm Reynolds, Commander of the Independence Battle Cruiser Eumenide.”
Deeper and deeper, Mal wondered how bad this day would get ‘fore he hit rock bottom.
“Get out, both of you.”
Josh and Shih stood outside the door to the bridge. A hostile silence lay between them. Shih regretted respecting the commander’s privacy. Their very lives now depended on what Mal Reynolds’s whore had to say. The minutes stretched into an hour and then more. Shih was ready to fetch Sue Ellen and have that skanky mechanic jimmy the door, when the commander emerged at last from the bridge.
“Shih, maintain our current course. Contact the brass and see if they got a mission for us.”
“What about the others?”
“It’s been taken care of, Josh,” the commander said.
“But, Mal you can’t mean to leave them . . .” Josh didn’t get a chance to finish his thought before Mal’s fist made contact his face.
“I said it’s been taken care of, boy.” He said calmly walking away from the bridge shaking out his bloodied hand.
“You chicken shit son of a . . .”
Mal turned ready to let loose the remainder of his rage on his best friend’s son.
Shih deftly stepped between them not flinching as she stared down a man clearly on the brink. She used blunt, staccato sentences, hoping to break through his mask of insanity. “He is scared. Sir. He is worried about his family. Your family. We all are. He did not mean to speak out of line.”
Mal nodded slowly, as if he understood. But all he could here was Her. *Serenity is mine. I never abandon what is mine.*
“Take him down to ‘Nita in the infirmary and get him checked out,” Mal said walking away. In his mind Inara’s voice still continued. *This is the last gift I will ever give to you. I pray you do not squander it.*
***The Wing Estate, Londonium***
“And you are sure they were not, otherwise engaged?” General Atherton Wing asked staring into the small cortex display on his desk.
“’E weren’t in there for more than five minute before ‘e come strollin’ out with a folda of papers lookin’ like the cat wat swallowed the canary. Tasty li’le piece like Mai, don’t matta how far the stick is shoved up your pigu, gen’leman want to take his time with the likes of ‘er. Now if it was me . . .”
Wing drummed his finger on the processing the implications of this action while his underling babbled on with his lurid fantasies. “That’s enough Beaver.”
“It’s Badger sir,” the face chirped back.
“Whatever. And you are sure Mai has not made contact with anyone else aboard?”
“Yes, Gov. ‘He’s kept to ‘erself all this time. ‘Ould I continue to fol’ow the tart?” Badger asked relishing the idea of doing some very deep undercover work in that regard.
“No. It’s the boy that interests me now. But keep your distance. I wouldn’t put it past the Ambassador to use . . . just take your Pax and try to use your brain,” Wing instructed.
“Oh, one last thing. Boy said somethin’ ‘bout a sentry . . . no . . . scenery . . .,” Badger tried to concentrate and then snapped his fingers, “Serenity . . . or the like when he come outta the cabin.”
The gods seemed to truly favor Wing that day. “Yes, the boy. I want the boy.”
Badger swallowed the obvious quip, “Right’o, I’m on it. Are ‘ou sure ‘bout the tart?”
Wing rolled his eyes as he cut the cortex link. *Interesting . . . very interesting.* “What do you make of all of this?”
Councilor Shan Yu XIV took a moment to consider his words and the situation. “It could be nothing. Ambassador Kali is a micro-manager. Maybe she dispatched the girl to oversee the troop deployment. Companions are known to be a bit needy. Perhaps the girl decided to taste the wears.”
“Maybe . . . perhaps. My friend you’re reaching,” Wing chortled. “I knew that bitch turned the Council against me for a reason. She wants something on Shadow, why else block me from blowing that backwater moon into the earth-age.”
“Well then, you should tread carefully. We can assume that she has Chancellor Láng’s support,” Shan Yu reasoned.
“The wolf only abides her because he can’t lick his own balls,” Wing barked. Worrying his well-manicured nails as he further considered the situation. “No,” Wing concluded, “my spy tells me she met with Mai for hours, even took her to the Mars. If the Chancellor knew, Kali would not be relying on her flunky.”
Wing’s brain was so clearly working on overtime, Shan Yu was somewhat surprised that smoke was not pouring from his ears. “So you suspect the Queen of Whores is playing some deeper game?” He prompted waiting to see just how much Wing knew.
Wing nodded, satisfied with his-own brilliance. “Definitely. The only question is: What is the prize and can we beat her to it?”
In actuality those were two very different questions, but Shan Yu had neither the time nor the inclination to correct the General’s wanting arithmetic. His concerns ran much deeper.
“Silent night, holy night . . . ”
The entire ranch had come out to watch the spectacle. Kaylee, Jayne, Serenity, and the fifteen other souls who called the ranch home watched the sky in speechless horror. The ships came down like shooting stars from the heavens. It would’av been helluva pretty sight, if you didn’t know what it meant. Standing on the porch, Serenity felt Kaylee’s comforting arms embrace her. She leaned against her a yi’s shoulder and let the shudder run through her.
“All is calm, all is bright”
The news had been on the cortex all day. Shadow had unconditionally surrendered to the Alliance. “What we gonna do, Kaylee?”
“I don’t know, xiao biao,” the older woman murmured.
“Round yon virgin mother and Child”
Jayne rose up from the porch swing he’d been occupyin’ since the news come in, “We’re takin’ any bit of precious we got and getting the hell off this rock. That’s what we’re gonna do.”
Kaylee could’ve sworn the merc got stupider every damn day. “And were we gonna go? How we gonna get there? It said on the cortex all the ports been closed. No one but Alliance is comin’ in or out!”
“We still got some of ‘Nara’s jewels, we buy our way off ,” he reasoned.
“You talkin’ crazy.”
“Holy Infant, so tender and mild”
“No I’m the only one talkin’ sense,” Jayne insisted. “And will you stop that, we ain’t got time for your bullshit now!”
“Don’t you yell at her,” Kaylee hissed at him.
River stopped singing. She was the only one who seemed nonplussed by the invasion. Indeed, she’d spent her entire day making chains out of green, red, and gold crepe paper while cheerily singing carols as if it were Christmas. Made hats, too, pretty crowns so they could celebrate the season in style. “Where’s your holiday spirit, Jayne?”
“Christmas were months ago you coot,” he muttered.
River rolled her eyes, “Yeah lambs being born in the middle of winter and I’m supposed to be the crazy one. Besides, everyone knows you have to wait till Epiphany to get the really good presents.”
“River,” Kaylee soothed.
River continued, “Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, impractical gifts for a baby . . .”
“If you don’t shut her up I will,” Jayne threatened.
“. . . they’re only good for funerals.”
Serenity couldn’t take any more. “Stop it! All of you.”
“See moon brained nut spooked the kid.”
“I ain’t scared,” Serenity asserted. “But all this arguin’ ain’t getting’ us no where.”
“Mama’s smarter than the gorram kings. Found the brightest Star in the sky for her baby,” River promised.
“What she talkin’ about, Kaylee?”
“Nothin’ darlin’,” Kaylee sighed. “Your Aunt River is tired is all.”
But the prophet wouldn’t be silenced. “He burns bright enough to block out the Sun.”
The scene on the porch did nothing to calm employees’ already frayed nerves.
“Should we pack up, Mrs. Tam?”
“Should we break out the guns?”
“What we gonna do?”
“Listen to me all of you.” Kaylee gazed at the sea of eyes lookin’ to her for answers. Her time on the ranch had taught her that people were a lot like cattle. Fine as you please so long as there were plenty to eat and nothin’ scared them, but one sharp sound were enough ta cause a stampede. She had to calm ‘em down before disaster struck. “The Alliance is comin’ and there ain’t nothin’ we can do ‘bout it. Ya’ll that got family round here is free to leave. Nows the time to be with them. Ya’ll that ain’t, you free to leave too. Your jobs will be here waitin’ for you when all this is over. But I’m stayin’! This is our land. Our home. And we ain’t gonna be run off it.”
Incapable of speaking under his breath, Jayne grumbled, “Purplebellies might take issue wit that.” The group took up his complaint.
Kaylee could’a kicked him. “People. People! Most of us got family in the Independence. We know our boys and girls will do right by us. We gotta do right by them. Keep ourselves alive and make sure they got somethin’ to come home to. Cortex says the Alliance ain’t lookin’ for no trouble. Well that’s fine, live and let live. Ya’ll hear what I’m sayin’. No one makes no trouble, we ain’t get no trouble. Now go to your bunks, all of you. Tomorrow, I’ll see that them that choose to leave get what they deserve.”
The hands continued to mill about, complainin’ amongst themselves and watchin’ the skies.
Serenity stepped forward, “Ya’ll heard Mrs. Tam. We got work ta do tomorrow now git.” The teen’s voice had a resonance amplified by the nature of those who stood around her starin’ the crowd down. If Jayne didn’t beat ya, then Miss River might cast some sort of a spell. They dispersed and the grounds fell into silence.
Those on the porch retired to the house. They weren’t two feet in the door before Kaylee grabbed Jayne by shoulder and spun him around. “Don’t you ever contradict me again!” She said slamming her hand into his shoulder.
“One of these days you gonna push me too far,” Jayne warned using the full height and girth to emphasize his threat.
Kaylee was unimpressed. “Offer to leave extended to everyone who ain’t family. Last time I checked that included you.”
Fighting came second nature to Kaylee and him. Most times it were forgotten in a day or so, but something in her eyes told Jayne that this was different. “Fine.” He stormed out the door.
Serenity had watched the exchange silently known that it were best not to come between the two of them when they were having it out, but even she could see that this was different. She ran to the door, calling after him. “Jayne comeback. She don’t mean it.”
“Go ta bed Serenity,” Kaylee sighed.
“Kaylee, tell him you don’t mean it,” the girl begged.
“I said go ta bed. Things’ll be better in the mornin’.”
“You push everyone away. It’s no wonder he left you,” Serenity shouted storming up the stairs to her room.
“GORAMIT!” River watched as Kaylee swore kicking the innocent sofa.
Not the right time to explain. Too many emotions, couldn’t see the Star for the clouds. Needed rest. So River walked up the stairs to her own room. “Sleep in heavenly peace; Sleep in heavenly peace.”
***Villa de Láng, Londonium***
River dancing. Simon holding Kaylee, his hand lightly pressed against her slightly bulging belly. Shepard Book reading to the children. Zoe and Wash playing with plastic dinosaurs, delighting little Josh. Jayne, on one of his rare visits, fishing quietly in the lake. Mal spinning Serenity around, her black curls flying, face frozen eternally in a silent squeal of delight.
Kali picked up another picture. It was Mal and Inara. The day it was taken, they had been arguing about his gun running. *Sometimes it felt like we did nothing but argue.* Fed up with his pretensions and specious arguments she smashed a piece of pie in this face. She ran for a few minutes before he finally caught her. He wrestled her to the ground and smeared his sticky face all over hers. There they were, covered in cherry goo kissing, the fight forgotten in the midst of sweet-tart taste of passion. Kaylee had snuck up on them and captured the moment. It was the last picture they ever took together.
*These are all I have.* There were no tears that would be pointless. She gathered up the pictures and slipped them back into their parchment folio. Kali knelt by the fire gazing into the flames. *I should burn these, they only . . .*
A short, annoying figure barged through her door, “Excellency, there is a . . .”
Kali shot up, deftly slipping the file behind her back. “How dare you barge into my rooms unannounced?! I’ll have your head for this!”
Shan Yu stifled his anger. *Damn woman thinks she rules the verse.* “Forgive me, Madame, but you are need at House Hetaira. There’s been a breach in security.”
“That’s part of the problem. Wing knows that she’s on the Mars,” Shan Yu explained.
“Ni ta ma de. Tianxia suoyoude ren dou gaisi!”
“With all due respect, may I ask what you are doing? Does the Guild know about this little field trip?”
“That is my business and the Guild’s. You are on a need to know basis and I might add, if you had been keeping better tabs on Wing this problem may not have arisen.” She berated him.
“Forgive me, my lady.”
She waived her hand imperiously dismissing him like she did everyone. “You were right to inform me. I’ll be with you immediately.” Shan Yu XIV bowed deeply. *One day she will bow to me.*
Kali waited patiently for him to leave, then ran and grabbed her veils. She stopped, looking down at the folder still clutched in her hands. *What’s done is done.* She breathed deeply and walked back to the fire, and lightly tossed her memories into the flames watching them reduce to ashes.
She prayed to the goddess whose name she had taken as her own:
“O Kali, Thou art fond of cremation grounds; so I have turned my heart into one. That thou, a resident of cremation grounds, may dance there unceasingly. O Mother! I have no other fond desire in my heart; fire of a funeral pyre is burning there; O Mother! I have preserved the ashes of dead bodies all around that Thou may come. O Mother! Keeping Shiva, conqueror of Death, under Thy feet, Come, dancing to the tune of music;* Make me like you, Holy One; turn my heart ash, strengthen my resolve in your divine fire. So I may crush my enemies; their blood I give unto Thee. You are a mother too; hold my baby close, grant her the peace for which she was named. For these small boons, I offer all that I have; I offer my life.”
She spread the hot ashes with her finger taking mute pleasure in the searing pain. Then she went to her mirror and calmly arranged her veils as if she had all the time in the world to contemplate the shadow that looked back at her. *Inara Serra is dead. Let her burn. I am all that remains.*
For OldFan45, my stalwart editor, may he have better days, and Mai, my constant muse who reminds me that even in the black there is light.
Mei-mei= little sister, generic term of endearment
Jie= Elder Sister, term of respect allotted to a woman in a superior position
Shen Sheng Wuh de Ma= (literally Holy Mother of God) Holy Mother
Nimen dou shi sagua= Idiots. All of you.
Zhende shi tiancai= Really are a genius.
a yi= auntie
xiao biao= jewel, generic term of endearment
Ni ta ma de. Tianxia suoyoude ren dou gaisi= Fuck you. Damn everyone in the 'verse.
Author’s Note on Names and Sources: Inara means “ray of light” in Arabic
Croup and Vandemaar are named after the Neil Gaiman’s villains in Neverwhere an amazing proto-punk novel that echo’s Alice in Wonderland.
The final prayer is taken from an eighteenth century Indian poet named Ramprasad, the lines following the astrix are of my own invention.
As usual all comments and criticisms are greatly welcomed and will be given due consideration. I apologize for any spelling or grammar mistakes.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005 12:15 AM
Wednesday, July 06, 2005 7:02 AM
Sunday, August 14, 2005 8:58 AM
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 9:33 PM
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.