May 11, 2021 10:18 AM
slayer karen confesses killing vampires to priest!macalaure
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- she was kind of having an anxiety stomachache a second ago, but she's not, now. Not that she knows what to say to any of that, or that she doesn't think whatever she says next is going to end up being really stupid, but -

 

 

 

 

"Y'know when everything was all covered in nightmares, and you kept telling me to go find the cause? And it was hard, because I didn't know how, and there were so many things breaking around me, there were toddlers in burning buildings and people being killed and raped and tortured and eaten by insects or whatever, and I kept getting distracted by the babies and the Mayor and random people in pain, and I wanted to fix it all but I didn't know how, when there was only one of me and half the time when I tried to fix things I felt like I was making them worse, and also getting all of my friends killed?

"I think - I think maybe if you know enough about what's going on in the world, then maybe the whole world feels a little like that all the time. And I can't - hear it, and I don't know enough about it all to see all of it, but if I did then I'd just - I'd never feel like I was making the right decisions, no matter what I did? And I'd try to fix more things, which means I'd end up making more things worse, even if I also made a bunch of things better. But it'd never feel like enough, and the world would just keep kind of crumbling, wherever people weren't holding it together. Because - the world is broken. It's been broken for way longer than I've been around. So - I don't get to be not broken, you know? I don't get to just never do stuff wrong. And I'm just one person, and I'm not even a very smart or capable or impressive person, so I don't get to fix things all by myself, either. I don't get to know for sure that I'm doing my best, or that the stuff I try is going to work out right, or that I'm not just actually making things worse. And - I'm not saying it's the same? I haven't had time to make all of my mistakes yet. But people do, you know, and the more big things they try the more big things they fail at, and sometimes they make just utterly terrible decisions that don't make any sense to them in hindsight, and - and after all of that the world is still going to be broken around them, and they're still going to have to decide whether they're going to just give up on it, or whether they're going to try to mend the pieces they can reach, even when the whole thing is enormously painful and kind of looks super pointless.

"So - yeah, I buy that you've done evil stuff. But I hope that if I'm ever where you are, where I've done horrific things and I understand how horrific they are, and where I know a ton about all of the suffering in the world but I still have no idea how to fix any more than a tiny tiny fraction of it, then - man, I hope I get to not give up on that tiny fraction. I hope I keep reaching for it no matter how far away it always is. And I dunno if that's what being good is or not, but - if it's not, then I think whatever this thing is still a pretty important thing to be. To keep trying even if you can't be good. Maybe it's even more important, as long as we all have to go on being broken.

 

" - I dunno if all of that was stupid or not, but - that's what I think. I guess."

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Well he does not really want to have this conversation at all but she's being nice and she'll be hurt if he - 

"That's a nice philosophy. Not the most Slayerish I've ever heard but - you know, if it works for you it works."

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Welp. It's what she's got, anyway.

"...so we were at the part where Azalea and Connor died. We can take a break if you want, though."

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"You're not, uh, hurting my feelings? You're just good at a game I don't like playing. There's a bunch of stuff that in principle I could've done differently to get to the Silmaril before the mayor's people but I suspect there's not much point reviewing that, I kinda suspect it of being predetermined."

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She nods seriously. "Yeah, that seems likely."

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"Don't let crows fly away with your car keys, that's a key tactical error that Slayers run into all the time. All right. The mayor. I think we should probably have acted sooner on the information that he was evil. It seems like we were too reactive there. - that's one we're arguably still making, if I'm right."

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"Yeah. 'Evil' is pretty nonspecific, though, the nightmare didn't really give me a good understanding of what's up with him. And he's not, like - he's the mayor, if you forcibly remove him then someone's gonna notice, so if we want to get him out of office really quickly then we need a plan to deal with the fallout."

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"Yeah. And we don't know what he's up to or what preparations he has against attack. It looks intractable and complicated and like it'll be a real hassle - but there's no real reason to expect that to have changed when we find out that, I dunno, he and Lurconis are opening a daycare."

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"Yeah. So we want to work on the complicated intractable stuff now, while we don't have other crises happening or about to happen. We probably want more information on what he's doing, but, uh, he kind of knows exactly who we are and exactly where we are, and can probably figure out more from what he already knows, so if anybody's gonna do non-telepathic recon then it really can't be either of us."

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"Yeah. There're going to be a lot more resources in Sunnydale soon, but I don't know how soon - kinda might depend on how much of an impediment the mayor is, actually."

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"...we could maybe get a kid he doesn't know in as an intern, but it'd be super dangerous since none of them can defend themselves very well. And he probably doesn't have telepaths but I'm sure he has cameras everywhere. In principle I guess you could just constantly read him, I dunno how much good that would do. He probably doesn't know we have a dog that can type up verbal reports after seeing stuff? But dogs don't super belong in the mayor's office, so that doesn't help a ton."

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"I should probably just read him all the time but every time I've done it so far he's been thinking about something innocuous. It's possible he has a way to block me or it's possible he's just really boring most of the time."

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"You could give it a few days, and then we could come up with extra plans if we figure he's definitely blocking you?"

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"Sounds like a plan."

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She nods. "OK, so, after the mayor's office you guys did the babies thing. I was heading to Willy's, but I ran into vampires on the way and then I saw Billy and put some things together. Got to the hospital after you guys, got Wishbone to give me the information about astral projection there. I guess we probably could have gained time if we did more communication via bouncing stuff through you before we got to the hospital, but that also might've broken down if you guys had known that Wishbone was going to give me information about Lurconis. Though as long as he was already on the way to the hospital we'd've still been able to meet up there? And, uh, then I decided to go after Lurconis."

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"You should definitely have told us what you'd put together about Billy by then first, I don't think it'd have been be bad for us to know that even if we were evil."

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"Yeah, that's true, I should have done that. I didn't intentionally decide not to do that, I just sort of - accidentally mentally stopped boxing you guys as people who were going to help, at some point, or something? Even before I'd thought about why."

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"So there's actually a separate skill there, which is - when you learn something big and new, checking that you've updated all the pieces of your worldview that were leaning on it. What did they tell me? What would things look like if I assume it's false? What were they responsible for doing? What will things look like if they're undone? What information about me should I now assume is in bad hands? What assumptions are still safe to make about their goals? What would've been some good questions to ask yourself once you realized we were pursuing the Silmarils above all else -"

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"Uhh..." Oh, but this one's hard. She frowns. "Why, I guess, and whether you were more likely to be actively hostile or just unwilling to prioritize other things, and whether I had any evidence of either? Whether your actions made sense for someone who was solely interested in the Silmaril because the Silmaril had to be kept out of the wrong hands? Whether it was likely to be harmful to ask you why? - how it might conceivably be harmful, I guess, specifically? If you might be hostile, whether I had ever actually gotten any information about Billy from you, and therefore whether it was possible for Billy to be an intentional distraction? - Oh, whether your actions before the Silmaril appeared made sense for someone who knew it was going to and who was waiting for that to happen? - I dunno if I'm organizing these things right."

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"You're thinking of the right stuff, the main point of organizing it is going to be making sure you think of all of it, every time. I have a checklist - am I safe from them right now? what are they doing right now? do I know if I was ever right about them, or are all our interactions suspect? if I was ever right about them, what's the last interaction I'm confident in? what information have they given me since then? do I have independent verification of any of it? In the worst case, what should I be doing right now? Can I rule out the worst case? So in this case that'd look like - not safe right now, they could be reading my mind. They're feeding babies to a demon. No way to know if I was ever right about them. They told me not to trust the Watcher's Council, they told me the Silmarils are important, they told me they have contacts in the government, they told me Michael's validly a priest - you shoulda checked that one, by the way - they told me the zookeeper was arrested -

- lot of that stuff is not immediately relevant - you're right that 'did we tell you about Billy' is immediately important, so is the question of whether we were waiting for the Silmaril to appear. Worst case, we want it so we can melt the world? Right? That was your worst-case?"

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"Worst-case, the Silmaril could be used to destroy the world, you wanted it to destroy the world - or some other suitably game-ending thing, envelop it in eternal nightmares or whatever - and you were in Sunnydale in the first place because you knew the Silmaril was going to appear, and all of our interactions up through that point had been entirely about making sure I'd help you get it, yeah."

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"Seems to me like you can, actually, rule that out. We'd have told you about how dangerous it was for others to have the Silmaril, we'd have had some kind of story about why it wasn't immediately dangerous, we'd claim that we could resurrect the dead with them - we plausibly can - so you'd worry less about casualties in the course of acquiring them...."

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"You did tell me about how dangerous it was for other people to have the Silmaril. I didn't have any reason to believe that you thought it was important for me to know everything about the situation, including whether or why the danger was or wasn't necessarily immediate, and I don't think there's a reason that would have to change if you were secretly evil? And I'm pretty sure claiming that it was OK to kill people because you could resurrect the dead would have come off as more immediately suspicious than telling me to limit casualties, although admittedly probably not more suspicious than feeding babies to demons."

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"No, I mean, we could have said that months ago, if we'd known it'd show up some day."

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"That would've made it more plausible that it was premeditated. This way it just seemed like some random superpowerful object, and there's no way you guys have told me about every random superpowerful object that could possibly ever show up. And sure, you could have told me that you knew the Silmaril was coming and about whatever particular properties you wanted me to think it had, if you had known. But you might not have been certain of your ability to get it or keep it from entities like the Mayor or Lurconis, in which case you'd've known that you might have to do obviously horrible things at some point to get ahold of it. In which case you might have come to the conclusion that it was better not to tell me anything ahead of time, so that you could give me information that was convenient for making me help you or leave you guys alone, whichever was needed at a particular time. And you might also have decided that I would be more likely to help you if I was stressed and scared because I didn't know what was happening, and not in a more prepared state so that I was in a better position to notice things that were suspicious or didn't match up."

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