The Operative Part 4: More or Lester
Friday, July 14, 2006

How in the 'verse will the Operative get his memory back? All is revealed...


Lester Haughton jumped lightly down from the vehicle and waved to the nice Alliance troopers who had kindly given him a lift from the local Alliance complex from which he had just retired. Switching his compact black holdall from one hand to the other, he slowly turned a full circle, taking in the bustling Border Planet Commercial Docks that surrounded him. It was still fairly early in the morning, so they were not quite as crowded as usual, but there were still hundreds of people striding purposefully to and from ships and buildings. The docks were a little shabby, but that could be expected, few respectable ships and even fewer cruise liners ventured as far into the black as the Border Planets, such as Persephone, where Lester was heading, to begin what he hoped would be a peaceful, if a little lonely retirement. Lester had no family. All his blood relatives were dead, and he was an only child. He had been married, long ago, but his wife and two sons had been killed in a freak ship crash. The blurry memory caused a small stab of sadness in his chest, followed by a rumble in his stomach, reminding him loudly that he hadn’t eaten for hours. He could dwell on the past later. He had to find a ship willing to take him to Persephone, but first, and foremost, he had to find something to eat. Catching sight of a narrow, seclude alley, he ventured into the unnatural twilight caused by the overhanging balconies on the surrounding buildings. It was common knowledge, that if a traveller wanted a decent meal, the best bars could be found off the beaten path on the back streets of the docks. He had not reached halfway down the alley, when a coarse, heavily muscled arm slid around his throat, and the sharp blade of a knife rested coldly against the base of his throat. A rough unshaven cheek brushed his, and a gruff voice rasped in his ear. “Hand over the bag, nice an’ slow, like. Don’t be makin’ any sudden movements, and I won’t have to kill yer.” Lester froze for a fraction of a second before his subconscious took over. In one deft movement he snapped forwards, throwing the man over his shoulder. As soon as he hit the ground Lester was on top of him, locking the thief’s arms behind his back, one knee embedded just below, pinning him helplessly to the ground. The thief coughed, spitting dust and dirt from his mouth. “Sorry, about that,” he panted, panicking “You can keep yer bag, just let me go, and there’ll be no hard feelings, I swear.” Unbelieving, Lester delivered a slicing blow to the base of the thief’s neck, that would render him unconscious for several hours. He wiped his dusty hands on a slightly cleaner part of the thief’s shirt, and stood smoothly, collecting his bag and examining his attacker at the same time. Dirty and untidy, he was most likely from a Border Planet, where standards and law keeping were much poorer than in the Core. “Didn’t your mother teach you that crime doesn’t pay?” he remarked sarcastically as he stepped carefully over the thief, leaving him lying in the road. The words came from Lester’s mouth, but they were not his. Cold, uncaring and completely unlike his usual demeanour. And those movements, they were not his either. He looked down at his shaking hands. In all his time working behind a desk for the Alliance, he had never, ever learnt anything like that, yet the instinct to protect himself had come automatically, he had not even thought about it. Luckily though, no one had seen the incident. Still shaking, and slightly faint from shock, he hurried into the nearest restaurant, and ordered the first thing he saw. When the meal came, he ate, but didn’t taste the hot food on his plate. It was as though he was behind a glass screen, everything seemed distant and unimportant, and noises were muted and fuzzy, trying desperately to figure out what had happened to him back in the alley. Still in a daze, he paid and left, returning back to the docks, taking lighter, busier streets this time. He felt better, almost back to his usual self by the time he reached the line of ships, it was best if he just forgot about the thief and the attempted mugging, let it fade away to the back of his mind. There was only one ship destined for Persephone he discovered, a fairly new 02-k64-Firefly class transport ship, whose captain, a grizzled trader by the name of Red Bryce welcomed him aboard. It was after the evening meal with the other passengers and several hours into the somewhat bumpy journey when Lester decided to unpack. The room he had been given was cramped and small, but it was private and suited him just fine. He had hung his few clothes up neatly in the small clothes compartment, and arranged his belongings perfectly on the low table. There was just one thing he could not find. Sighing in exasperation, he shoved as much of his arm as possible into the bag, and rooted around, sliding his fingers into all the cracks and crevices in the silky lining. He was sure he had packed the information sheet on Persephone he had gotten off the cortex just a day ago. He frowned as his fingers brushed something hard under the lining. What was that? He traced the outline through the silk. It was quite small, and rectangular, and felt like a book. How it had gotten under there, he had no idea as the lining was completely sealed, and he had had this bag for years. How could he never have noticed this before? Intrigued, he ripped awkwardly through the thick material, tearing it further as he struggled to pull the package through the hole. There was no clue to what the object was, as it was wrapped in several layers of stiff, silvery foil. Lester unwrapped the package slowly, despite being full of curiosity, he was also a little afraid of what he might find concealed beneath the foil. Finally, the last layer peeled slowly away, and a small, black book was revealed. It was thick, he saw as he turned it over, with a gilt cross engraved on the front. A bible. The sides of the pages were stained a dark, brownish-red colour, which looked horribly like dried blood, and Lester wrinkled his nose as he opened it, trying to avoid touching the stains. As he stiffly opened the pages, a thin wad of paper fell out, the pages scattering across the floor. He bent hurriedly to pick them up, page after page of neat, slanted handwriting; very similar to his own. In fact, it was his own. That was more than a little strange. He had never even seen this book before, let alone these carefully written pages. Leaning back against the wall of his room, he shuffled the papers into order, according to the page numbers, which had helpfully been added to each sheet, and began to read. The pages read like a diary, an account of someone’s life. It spoke of a highly selective school run by the Alliance, the Elite Academy, training Operatives, the best, and most secretive assassins in the ‘verse; into which the writer had been accepted. Lester’s face clouded over with confusion. He had worked for the Alliance for as long as he could remember, and had never heard of even a hint of this ‘school’, yet the words stirred something in his mind, a faint familiarity that he could not place. A faded memory just out of reach of remembrance. He shook his head and continued to read, he was sure it would come to him eventually. It did. The more he read, the more the memory grew, and blossomed, sending out shoots and tendrils into his brain, overshadowing and strangling what he had believed was his life. He was filled with triumph as he read over and over what he had written, just short days ago in his sterile little house, read about his job, his past. His true past, not the fake, cover up that the Alliance had implanted into him. The short period for which Lester Haughton had existed was over. The man sat on the slim bunk in the cramped room was Advanced Operative 3988AT, and he could easily recall every tiny detail of his time working for the Alliance, from the first nervous day in the Academy, to the last, fateful assignment. Yes. The last assignment. The triumph vanished as quickly as it had appeared, as he thought of Derrial Cobalt, and the bible. The two small things that had made him find faith, changing his life forever. He remembered closing the last page in the early hours of the morning, and feeling fulfilled for the first time in a long time. After deciding to leave the position of Operative, he had gone straight onto the cortex, where he had found his destination: Southdown Abbey, Persephone. As the room began to grow brighter again with the natural light of dawn, and the cold, fluorescent bulbs had switched themselves off, he had written all his memories as an Operative down, knowing full well what would befall him as soon as he mentioned retirement. After tucking them safely inside the treasured book, he had wrapped the whole thing in layers of protective foiling and sealed it carefully into the lining of his bag, to screen his secret from the prying eyes, and scanners of the untrusting Alliance. He snatched the book off the sheet beside him and held it close to his chest, as if fearing it would be taken from him. This was the one thing that gave him reason to live – this and Derrial Cobalt’s memory. And the most important thing? This was all he wanted.


The mysterious passenger who had boarded the ship under the name of Lester Haughton kept himself to himself for the rest of the journey, rarely even coming out of his room to eat. This puzzled the rest of the passengers and crew, as he had seemed so social and cheerful on the first night. All that bothered Captain Bryce was that he paid in full before he left the ship, which he did, the minute the 02-k64-Firefly docked on Persephone, before disappearing into the crowd, as if he had never existed.


Friday, July 14, 2006 7:13 PM


Ok, like so many other fanfic's of this theme I'm automatically a fan. I love speculation on Book's past and so I truly enjoyed reading this. My only complaint is that it seems "stiff." Taking a guess (and I could be easily wrong) it seems like there's a lack of self-trust. It's almost too objective, too detached from Book and what his journey is. Regardless I loved the fact that some elements are really coming together (Book-->Operative-->Lester-->Book). Good stuff. Would be interested to read the next chapter.

Friday, July 14, 2006 8:08 PM


Well now...I see you took up Book's comment on flying on a Firefly before his tenure onboard Serenity, Smart...blonde;)

Gotta agree with ECAmber though...things were a tad too clinical and removed from what Book probably would have been feeling right then and there. But maybe that's the point...his old life seemed like something foreign and separate to him, even after getting his memories back;)


Saturday, July 15, 2006 8:04 AM


ECA: If you mean I have a lack of self-trust, then you're dead on. This is the longest thing I've ever written, and I was nervous as to how it would turn out, thanks for the criticism though, I know where to improve next time now. :)

Saturday, July 15, 2006 7:21 PM


I really liked the way you had him gain back his memory. "The more he read, the more the memory grew, and blossomed, sending out shoots and tendrils into his brain, overshadowing and strangling what he had believed was his life."->I really liked this line alot, if the rest was a little stiff this line sort of made it flow better. Nice as always!


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