Title: Finding Serenity 2
Rating: Nothing offensive
Disclaimer: Firefly is not my property.
A/N: This is a continuation of my Inara piece. This part is pretty much all dialogue which I'm not entirely comfortable with but I'm working through it. Constructive criticism is appreciated because I really don't want to write CRAP!
The face that greeted Inara on the Vuscreen was open and friendly.
“Nín hǎo. Is this Serenity?”
“No, this is Wash. Serenity is unable to answer at this time as she is a ship.” The man said this with a friendly smile. “How may I be of service?”
“I’m responding about the ad about the shuttle to rent.”
“Really?” He looked surprised.
“Really. The ad stated I should ask for Kaylee. Is she available?”
“For you, she most certainly is. Hang on for a bit. I’ll get her for you.” He didn’t put her on hold so she watched him speak into what she assumed was a com. “Kaylee! Kaylee! Someone’s waving about the shuttle! Kaylee!” She heard a female voice respond, “Be right there, Wash.”
“So…” Wash started to address her. He looked to be the chatty type. Inara took in his loud shirt and mussed hair. He was not what she was expecting. “And from where might you be waving us from?”
Inara smiled. Not really liking the question but she recognized it for what it was – filler chit-chat.
“New Dunsmuir. And where are you?”
Wash made a face. “So far away, senorita. Far, Far away.”
Interesting. He didn’t want to say where they were.
“Tell me, Wash…” She hesitated, “I’m sorry, is it Captain Wash?”
He smirked. “No, it’s Pilot Wash.” He turned to look behind him. “And here is Mechanic Kaylee. Nice talking to you.”
A happy but dirty face greeted Inara. “Hi, I’m Kaylee.” Her eyes widened in surprise as she took in Inara’s appearance. “Wow! You ain’t what I was expectin’ at all. Not that that’s bad it’s just that we don’t see folk so…kě zūn jìng. You wouldn’t believe some of the guài dàn we’ve been hearin’ from.”
Inara smiled at the young woman’s openness. “Thank you. My name is Inara Serra. I’m waving about the shuttle for rent.”
“Yeah! She’s a sweet little thing. Not too little, mind you. There’s room aplenty for livin’ in.”
“What kind of ship is Serenity?”
“She’s Firefly Class B Cargo Ship. I could give you proper specs if’n yer interested.”
“No, that’s not necessary. What’s the rent?”
“Cap’n says can’t take no less than a thousand square a month…xiàn qián.” She said this as if she thought there wasn’t a chance in hell of anyone paying this amount.
Inara raised an eyebrow, intrigued. The rent amount didn’t faze her but the last part did. “Cash only?”
Kaylee looked a little uncomfortable at this. “Well, ya know, we do visit the rim oftenlike and them folks ain’t got access to U-Credit services.”
“Rim worlds?” That could be problem. “Do you only frequent the outer planets?”
“Gosh, no!” Kaylee smiled. “Oh, lady, we go everywhere! I been on this boat goin’ on coupla years an’ I been to ‘bout every planet in the Verse. We keep flyin’ all the time. No home port or nothin’ just us up here in the black travellin’ from place to place.”
She paused, studying Inara. “’Cept the Core worlds. Don’t hardly never go there. Is that gonna be a problem?”
At that moment, Inara knew she had found her a new home.
“No, not at all. I’m interested in seeing a bit of the universe. One last question and I’ll let you go. What sort of cargo do you transport?”
Kaylee exchanged a look with Wash. “Oh, a littlea this and a littlea that. We ain’t affiliated with no one properlike. We get oddjobs of a sort.”
Inara nodded getting a good picture of what these people did for a living.
“Do you expect to visit New Dunsmuir in the near future? I am interested in seeing your ship personally.”
“Really? Gosh, I gotta check with the Cap’n. Our schedule ain’t ‘xactly fixed, ya know.”
“How about I wave you tomorrow? We’ll see if we can work something out.”
“Until tomorrow, then. Gào bié.”
Ending the transmission, Inara stared thoughtfully at the blank screen. When she first saw the name of the ship on the AdVu she wasn’t sure if it was an Alliance or Independent vessel. After her wave with Wash and Kaylee, she just knew it to be a Browncoat ship.
Initiating another transmission, Inara composed her features into her best Companion face. The face that greeted her was similar to her own but older.
“Inara, nān nān, I’m so happy to see you. How are you?” Pili asked the question seriously looking intently at Inara.
“I’m doing fine.” Inara presented an expression showing that she really was doing fine.
Pili was not convinced. “I worry about you out there all alone. You are so far from civilization.”
Inara smiled. “Auntie, New Dunsmuir is very civilized. House Cathon is almost as beautiful as Madrassa.” At her aunt’s disbelieving sniff, Inara continued. “Besides, I’ve decided to leave.”
“You’ve decided to return to Sihnon?” Inara heard the worry in her aunt’s voice.
“You’re not thinking of going back to Frank, are you?” Pili’s calm demeanor dissolved at this thought. “Inara, the man is living on the edge of nowhere surrounded by…” She caught herself. Pili knew to tread carefully on this subject. “Inara, shēng nǚ, I love you and want what is best for you. He wants what is best for you.” She paused again, obviously not wanting to say what she felt needed to be said. “He doesn’t want you there.”
“I know that!” Inara snapped, angry at her aunt for stating something that she was perfectly aware of. “Do you really think I want to go back there?” She took a deep breath and looked steadily and calmly at her aunt. “I’m sorry. It’s just ….” She didn’t need to finish, Pili understood.
“Have you reconsidered the offer from Sheydra? Like you, she seems to like the barbaric regions of the universe.”
Inara didn’t try to persuade her aunt that there were actually civilized worlds to be found outside the core planets.
“The Training House would be good for you.”
“I’m not ready to banish myself to the refuge-of-the-heartbroken-Companions. Auntie, this is not why I’m waving you. Will you just hear me out? Please?” Inara took a deep breath before continuing. “I’ve decided to embark on a new life. I would like to travel the universe – unaffiliated with any Houses.”
“Go out on your own?” Pili thought on this idea for a moment. “Darling, I think that is a wonderful idea. Miriam, you remember her from Londinium? She took a break from House Diana and traveled on her own for several years. She simply loved it. The fascinating people one meets on those vessels. You know, I do believe that the Royal Cruise line is introducing a new ship. It is to be the most beautiful vessel in creation.”
“Well, that’s nice but I’ve already found a ship.”
“Oh? Is it a Royal Cruise ship?”
“No. It’s a firefly.”
“A what? I’ve never heard of that line before. Who are they affiliated with?”
“No one, Auntie. Firefly is a type of ship.”
“Named after an insect? That’s doesn’t sound promising. What kind of ship is it?”
Another deep breath. “It’s a cargo ship.”
Inara’s aunt stared at her for almost a full minute.
“Have you lost your mind?”
“No, Auntie. I feel like I found it.”
After Inara was finally able to end the wave with her aunt, she began her investigation into crew of Serenity. Her search first led her to Captain Harbatkin. After spending fifteen minutes attempting to find information on him, she realized she was chasing a ghost. Challenged, she accessed the private Companion Investigative resources which were extensive as the Guild was adamant about accurate background checks on potential clients. Using the Wave address from the ad she was finally had profiles on two members of Serenity’s crew.
Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Alleyne were both Independents. Each had spent time in the Rehabilitation camps and subsequently spent their required year in the Reintegration Program. Upon further searching, she discovered that both had fought at the Battle of Serenity. The only other entries were various legal infractions but no convictions.
Finished with her search, she switched off the screen. Inara did not doubt for a moment that she would not be accepted as a renter. Captain Reynolds didn’t have a chance against her. An incoming wave interrupted her musings.
Inara was expecting this wave. With a look at the screen, the “Audio Only” message confirmed her expectation. There was only one person Inara knew who would wave her audio only. Silently composing herself she answered the wave.
“Qǐng duō guān zhào.”
As she expected, he started right in. “Your aunt says you’re shipping out on a Firefly? What’s this all about?” His voice was curt. He spoke to her as if speaking to a child.
“I’ve decided I want to see the universe.”
“You just stay where you’re at.”
“I’ve already made my decision.”
“I’m not asking.”
Losing her temper, she harshly replied, “I am not one of your soldiers for you to order around.” This was not the first time she had said this to him.
He didn’t respond. They didn’t speak for awhile allowing time for their tempers to cool.
When Inara felt more in control of herself, she said, “I really want to do this. I’m tired of… hiding.”
“So now you’re running away.”
“I don’t see it that way. I feel like…” She looked at the blank screen wishing she could see him. “I know it sounds like such a cliché but I need to find myself. I can’t do that here. I need to be where no one knows who I am.” This, she knew he would understand. He would worry about her but he wouldn’t stop her.
“Tell me about this ship.” His voice sounded weary.
“Her name is Serenity.”
nín hǎo – hello
kě zūn jìng – respectable
guài dàn – weird/freak
xiàn qián - cash
gào bié – bid farewell to/ bid goodbye to
nān nān – little darling, baby
shēng nǚ – niece/sister’s daughter
qǐng duō guān zhào - please treat me kindly (conventional greeting) /
thank you for looking after me / hello, I'm glad to be here