Past Consequences
Sunday, December 19, 2004

Book's life has intersected w/ Mal's more than is known.


Past Consequences by Jebbypal

From Bushwacked: "Pirates. Pirates with their own chaplain. There's an oddity," Harken remarked from his comfortable seat. "Not the only oddity this end of space, Commander. Way of things not always so plain as on the cetral planets. Rules can be a mite fuzzier," Book explained patiently. Harken changed the subject without missing a beat, but Book was not unaware of Alliance interview procedures. "These fugitives that we're looking for, the brother and the sister. They were last seen on Persephone." "That a fact?" Book answered. "They also left port aboard a Firefly-class transport. Just about the same time you shipped out with Serenity." "Well, Persephone's a big place." "Yes, it is, and that Firefly isn't. And if anyone's hiding anywhere on it, we will find them," Harken assured him. He paused before continuing though. "I also find it interesting that you chose his ship for your trip, Shepherd." "Oh?" Harken smiled conspiratorially at Book. "He does know that it was you who sentenced his father and the others to death?" Book's thoughts froze at the accusation. If he'd pulled out that tidbit, then obviously Harken had more access to his records than Book had guessed. He couldn’t begin to fathom what would happen if Harken decided to reveal that fact to Serenity's crew. "Captain Reynold's never met his father Commander. I doubt he'd have any feelings one way or the other about the death of a man who abandoned his family." "Convenient that," Harken replied with his smile intact. Book almost longed to again be the person Harken accused him of being. His former self would have had no compunction about wiping that grin off of the self-important bureacrat's face. "You gathered all of them?" the Lieutenant asked. The soldier nodded crisply as he saluted. "All the off-worlders with ships were detained without problems. Here are their ident cards and histories." "Good work. Any promising candidates?" "A few. One Edward Schulz looks to be ideal though – His information is on top.." The Lieutenant nodded as he read through the man's dossier. Single man from the backward Rimworld of Shadow. Parents deceased several years before, no siblings. Owned no land, his only possessions were the ship he owned and the herd of cattle he'd recently purchased for Marie Reynolds. It would be a simple matter to prosecute the man and refund his employer's money. "Any witnesses?" "No one is saying anything." "Very well. Update me if your investigation finds anything else." He contemplated he dossier he held for a few more moments before proceeding into the interrogation room. Schulz had shown no leanings towards extremism in his politics before, but he had been vocal in the organization of the government on Shadow. A self-made man, he resented paying large portions of his earnings to the Core despite its role and investment in terraforming the world he was settled on. His employer was a woman whose strong convictions had been investigated before, but no evidence of treason had been found. She'd inherited her land as a teen when her parents passed from an epidemic and then successfully fought to keep it rather than allowing the government to relocate her somewhere less harsh. It was easy to see why she tolerated the black marks on Schulz's record although he had never been convicted of anything other than drunkenness. No need to pull her into the web though, Schulz would serve fine. The public was already upset at the lack of information about a suspect even thought is only a day had passed since the bombing of the research facility. No group had taken credit yet, which was only more worrisome to his superiors. Trace evidence of explosives had been found in the hostel the man was staying at, but none in his room. Enough evidence for what was needed though. Nodding to himself, he entered the room and faced the man he would soon declare publicly to be behind the deaths of forty governmental employees, the loss of millions of credits of research and equipment, not to mention irretrievable data that had the Blue Sun Board very upset. No doubt its executives were already drawing up papers to sue the security services for their failures. It helped that the man appeared to be the poster boy for the Rimworlds – muscular, blondish hair cut messily and not often enough, skin already taking on a leathery texture despite his thirty years due to his labors. "So do I find out why in the gorram hell you're holding me yet or not?" Schulz demanded as he attempted to gesture, but his handcuffs prevented the motion. Book remained standing as he laid the files on the table in front of him just out of reach of his prisoner. "Evidence of explosives were found in your hotel." "I don't know anything about that," the man denied. Book saw a wariness enter the man's expression though. Uneducated perhaps, but not stupid. It would be unwise to allow him to make any type of a statement to anyone other than his forces. No need to leave evidence for historians to hang him with. "Be that as it may, it's enough for us to hold you for questioning. Tell me Mr. Schulz, what business do you have on Boros?" "I was hired to buy and ship a herd of cattle for a rancher on Shadow." "Indeed." Book started to pace around the table while keeping a careful watch on the man. "I find it curious that you made your purchase over a week ago, and yet you are still here." Schulz was clearly uncomfortable with this line of questioning. Not that it mattered, but it would be nice to know they had actually found the right man. "Had some news from home and figured I'd check to see if I couldn't find something to celebrate it with here before I headed back. Shadow doesn't exactly have the finer things ya know." "And what would that be?" "Not that it's any of your business, but my girl's expecting. Figured I'd see if I couldn't find a real dress for the ceremony for her to wear." A potential complication, but not much of one. It was unlikely that anyone he was involved with on Shadow had any real power. "Oh, I bet your fiancé was excited to hear of your plans." Schulz looked sheepish upon hearing that. "Well, I ain't actually asked her yet. Wanted it to be a surprise." Book nodded to himself. Good then. No one would question anything if this man never returned home. To his employer it would be explained easily enough as a man who wished to avoid his responsibilities. And Boros would see justice done for the lives and money wasted in the senseless bombing. His superiors would be very pleased. "Very well then. I don't imagine we'll be holding you too much longer. Routine procedure and all that in questioning all the hotel guests. I hope your girl enjoys her surprise," Book lied easily as he collected his things to leave the room. Outside, he quickly tracked down the soldier in charge of the prisoner. "See to it that the execution is carried out quickly and taped for the Cortex feed. I want this matter wrapped up quickly." Sometimes having someone to convict was more important that convicting the right person after all.
Seeing the son of the man he had condemned day in and day out was his penance. At night, thoughts of what might have been and what had been kept him from an easy sleep. Had the boy been bullied due to his lack of a father? Children and adults alike could be cruel. It would be only too easy for rumors of how Malcolm had been conceived to circulate on a small frontier planet. Was that the reason he looked down on Inara so? Had his mother been called a whore once too often without merit, so to see an individual perform that service but refuse the title was distasteful? Book would never know what type of influence the Captain's father could have had in the son's life. Perhaps nothing would have changed; perhaps he had even been better off without him. It was possibly that the lives of every person on the ship would have been indelibly altered had Malcolm grown up with his father. That was enough in itself to give him the hope that his actions had not simply been his own. Perhaps on that day, something greater than himself and greater than his government had been acting through him. Watching River talk exuberantly about her walk in space while he and Jayne cleaned the kitchen, he could only pray that his actions then had a purpose in the now.


Monday, December 20, 2004 1:10 AM


Oooh, wasn't expecting that kind of a twist. I like. I take it that in your story the Captain's father never married his mother, hence having the surname Schulz. I really like it that Book is regarding his time on Serenity as penance. Hope there is more to come, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 8:42 PM


Oh, man! You have crafted some big-time penance for Book. Egads... You gonna write Mal finding out this secret??

Friday, November 22, 2013 8:23 PM


Good story! And an excellent illumination of what may be in Book's past.


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