: Begetting ViolenceAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupDisclaimer
: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.Rating
: B:tVS, Firefly. It hadn't taken Book long to discover the why for himself
. 800 words.Spoilers
: B:tVS way post-"Chosen", Firefly mid-"SERENITY".Notes
: It occurred to me that "Skin
" probably fits in this universe, too-- but not
", though some of the concepts expressed here are similar. (Book needs more love).
"They'll come at you sideways," Book said, thinking of the Operative he'd known best. His reason for serving; his reason for retiring. His reason for damn near everything.
"It's how they think," he continued, recalling the deceptively shallow facade he'd help the young man construct, overlaying a core of focused, merciless strength. "It's how they move. Sidle up and smile, hit you where you're weak."
Parliament had learned that much from the Slayers, if nothing else. A Slayer's role was not only to kill, but to deceive that which she was sent to destroy into exposing itself for the deathblow. When the Council had tired of subjecting itself to Allied oversight and gone to ground in the rim worlds, the government had created the Operatives and Blue Hands as a countermeasure and replacement, patrolling the inner worlds in the Slayers' place for threats the Alliance wasn't officially equipped to handle. Adaptability, determination and guile were critical parts of each new Operative's training.
Independence-- and the Slayer tenet that discriminated human targets from non-human ones-- were not
"Sort of man they're like to send believes hard," he added, grimly. "Kills and never asks why."
He didn't think he'd ever forget the way his daughter's face had looked when he'd reached her, the day after she'd called him-- obliviously-- with the weighty secret that she'd been Chosen. Her expression had been strangely peaceful despite the dark hole in her forehead, almost as though she'd simply fallen asleep, but he'd known better. The hands he'd trained, the mind he'd shaped, the man he'd distanced himself from his own family to guide-- his own Operative had erased what she'd become.
It hadn't taken him long to discover the why for himself. The Alliance had feared not only what she might accomplish among the enemy, but also the detrimental influence she might have on those close to her-- justifiably, as it happened. Book's atrophied conscience had reawakened that day, too late to do any good, and he'd resigned his position immediately. He'd stolen everything he could and carried it straight into the arms of the Handlers' opposites, though he'd expected to meet his own death at any moment; he still expected the job would be finished one day, but had taken the unexpected reprieve to do what he could to make reparations.
The Watchers had kept him close at first, tied to a research position in a local monastery, but after several years of loyalty they'd allowed him his freedom again. They'd asked only that he continue his records and research-- the 'Verse was a big place, and they needed more trained eyes out in it-- and that he watch for a 'wave from any of a short list of names. It hadn't seemed like much; few demons had attempted the long journey from Earth-that-Was, and there were only three Slayers to keep track of at any given time, the representative of the current line and the two Ancients who had survived the fall of humanity's homeworld. Book had been grateful for the assignment.
He'd only ever been called to meet one of them: Faith, the younger and reportedly saner of the Ancient pair. Talking to her, taking down her annual Slaying statement, had been an astonishing experience; despite her still-youthful appearance, he had never once been tempted to forget her true age. The only other person he'd ever seen with eyes as old and knowing as hers was little River-- a realization that had worried him at the time, and deservedly so, given Mal's report of recent events.
Meeting Faith had been a vivid reminder of what the Operatives should have been, what they failed to be, and how he'd ignored his own rebuilt ideals by joining the crew of Serenity
. Violence begat violence, and a soul as worn and blood-soaked as his needed no further corruption. He hadn't been able to stay aboard any longer. Now, however, he couldn't but wonder if he should have delayed his departure, if his presence at River's side might have been of some use in this situation.
"It's of interest to me how much you seem to know about that world," Mal interrupted his thoughts, shrugging off the caution and concern Book was trying to impress upon him.
"I wasn't born a Shepherd, Mal," Book replied, wishing that just this once the man would bend his damnfool neck before someone tried to break it for him.
"Have to tell me about that, sometime," was Mal's only reply.
"No. I don't," Book said heavily.
He'd already said enough. It was up to these youngsters, now; there was no time to tell them the truth, even if they were inclined to believe it. All he could do was pray God would help them.
They were surely going to need it.