Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Leela and Zhou's Place

10-19  12:47

Ryven studied Leela.  He hadn't seen her since before he had left I.LAW and her absence had been more profound than he had realized until this moment.  She still had her short red hair and piercing green eyes, but there was a hardness now where before there had been none.  She had never been weak, but she had been caring, good, and kind.  He wondered how much goodness still remained.  He wondered how much of that loss was at his hands.  None of that was the purpose for his visit.  When he had contacted her the day before, it was not to make a social visit, but rather, due to his increased concern over the containment of the other Ryven.  Sahriah had made him second guess his trust in Leela's abilities, but more importantly her motives in keeping the other Ryven stored rather than destroyed.  

Leela studied Ryven.  He was different than before.  She was one of the only people to have known both Ryvens.  She had known the Ryven before Dr. Tobit implanted the imposter, who she was now meeting. That Ryven had been a violent and brash man, but he had still been a good man.  The imposter was also a good man, the one she had married.  The old Ryven, when he snapped, had given her no choice but to help the imposter.  Still, she felt guilt at having betrayed him when she owed him so much of her current happiness. 

Leela spoke first, her tone level. "So, I'm guessing you're beginning to question my decision to keep Ryven." It was not really a question, but she waited for Ryven to nod, and when he did, she continued. "You would prefer I destroy him outright?"

"He killed dozens of innocent people, kidnapped your fiance, and, oh, also that whole thing where he took the skin of his victims and, you know, made a coat out of them." 

Leela nodded. "All true."


Leela continued to speak calmly, like a parent to a child asking a question they aren't quite old enough to really understand. "But, reasons.  None of which are any of your business."

Ryven was surprised by her answer.  "He took control of my body."

Leela shook her head. "He could say the same thing about you, now couldn't he?"

One point to Leela.  "I had no choice in the matter.  I didn't ask for this.  He made a choice."

Leela's expression showed she was unmoved. "He is confined.  He's safe."

"For how long, though?  Surely there are ways he could escape."

Leela nodded. "Sure.  But none of them without outside assistance.  Given that only a few people even know of his existence and literally all of them have every reason to keep him locked away, I don't see that eventuality coming about."

Ryven was not convinced, but, he wasn't about to force the issue.  The fact that the other Ryven was trapped at all was because of Leela.  If she refused to destroy him, he wasn't going to go against her wishes, even if he desperately wanted to.  If he was being even more honest, he would have to admit to himself that the other Ryven's only real fault was that he was completely mad.  He wasn't so sure that they didn't have that in common.  Ryven did mutilate a little girl, admittedly an awful one, and solely because he was told to by Justice.  Who is Justice, though?  I have to recognize it is entirely possible that Justice is entirely a construct of my own mind.  But, what about my experiences on that moon?  I didn't imagine that, did I?  The truth of the matter, Ryven had to admit, was that he was scared.  Scared of himself.  Scared of the other Ryven.  Scared of what would happen if the other Ryven ever returned.  Scared of his becoming just like the other Ryven.  Fear is useful, but fear is also a drug.  If we let fear control us, it defeats rationality.  We behave in ways that cause more harm than good.  We lose our ability to weigh options in favor of a system where we simply satisfy our fear.  
If Leela noticed Ryven's inner turmoil, she didn't let it show.  Ryven finally spoke. "I won't force you.  I owe you that much."

Leela's face tightened in obvious anger. "Yes.  You owe me that.  You owe Zhou that." She stood and gestured toward the door. "I think it's time you left."

Ryven glanced over at the door, saw her expression, and decided it probably was time for him to go. "It was good to see you."

Leela replied through clenched teeth. "You too."

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