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Africander Fic: Facing the Heart In Darkness; Part 14/?

Urghhh. Nasty stomach bug today. *bleh*

This winter could not be more unhealthy...

Also, just some big love to speakr2customrs for his suggestion that our dear Miss Swithin just might be a closet addict of American soaps. I couldn't resist throwing it in. Thank you for the suggestion, because it works so well.

For the Scatterlings and Orphanages Africander Fiction Challenge by ludditerobot .

For all previous parts, go here.
Continued from Part 13.

“Yeah, it’s a good thing there’s a bunch of us around who can help with the load,” Sister Ig continued. “But Harris is pretty good at making do with what he’s got, and he’s had to make do a lot, especially at the beginning, not that it’s gotten any easier. We’ve got different issues now, and none of us have any idea how we’re going to handle it when the hammer comes down.” She spared me a glance before fixing her eyes on the road. “Harris has got a plan. If it works, it’ll solve a lot of our problems. If it doesn’t…” her voice trailed off.

I must admit, dear reader, Sister Ig’s dangling thought filled me with foreboding.

 

We traveled along our road in uncomfortable silence. I chanced a glance behind me to see if the attitudes of Alexandrienne and Radar had changed. Radar had shifted position, but otherwise still seemed to be asleep. Alexandrienne, like myself, was holding tight to whatever seemed solid enough to keep her steady. Otherwise, the Slayer seemed no less distracted than she was when our ride began.

Sister Ig must’ve sensed my discomfort, because she eventually glanced at me with an apologetic smile. “Sorry. I guess I’m hoping you’ll be able to shake some resources loose for the school. The whole education side of things is my main job, so I tend to get obsessive about it while everyone else puts out a million other fires that have to take priority.”

Unlike her earlier absolution, I wasn’t sure that this apology was entirely sincere. There was something defensive lurking just behind the words, although it was possible the source of this was because she felt her role had been given short shrift in favor other concerns. If that was the case, she might let slip a nugget of information while she was still free of Mr. Harris’s eye.

My mind quickly reviewed what I had heard thus far, and I realized that one of the village denizens had not been mentioned by the good sister. “What about Grandmother Touré?” I asked. “I noticed you left her off your list of ad hoc village elders.”

Sister Ig looked uncomfortable with the question. “She does her thing. She really doesn’t get involved with running anything outside the kitchen.”

“Well, I suppose, then, that it makes sense that Alexandrienne runs around the continent with Mr. Harris as that appears to be ‘her thing,’ as you put it,” I said in an effort to try another tactic to gather information. “I suppose having a Slayer bodyguard is rather handy.”

Sister Ig released a large snort. “Right. Like Harris could make her stay put. He’s had that argument with her and has lost so many times that he’s given up. Where he goes, she goes. Simple as that.”

“You misunderstand. I was merely remarking that Alexandrienne was not a student in your school,” I said, hoping to use her concern for the education of her charges to learn more. “Her past education must’ve been very good. I noticed that she speaks several languages.”

Sister Ig’s concentration on the road doubled. I had apparently hit a nerve. “Speaking several languages isn’t that unusual in Africa, especially for people in the cities,” she said. “A lot of people speak at least two languages. Maybe not well, but good enough. Being multilingual’s not an issue. The issue is that in too many countries a lot of people can’t read or write any of those languages.“

I almost asked the most logical question, that being the level of Alexandrienne’s literacy, but Sister Ig interrupted before I had a chance to voice it.

“Alexandrinne speaks four languages,” Sister Ig said, “all of them really well.”

Four?” I asked. “I’ve only heard three.”

Alexandrienne thrust her face between Sister Ig and myself and I jumped in surprise. The Slayer reached out to steady me and she said, “My ears are ringing very loud.”

“I was just praising your ability to speak multiple languages to Miss Swithin. Why don’t you tell her all the languages you speak?” Sister Ig asked. To me, it sounded like the sister was attempting to reassure Alexandrienne. Given the “no questions about the past” rule promulgated by Mr. Harris, I assumed that Sister Ig feared that the Slayer thought she had spoken out of turn.

At first, Alexandrienne looked like she just might refuse the request. She suddenly released her doubts with a shrug and said, “French and Krahn, which I spoke very well before I met Xa—I mean Monsieur ’Arris; English, which I did not speak much but Monsieur ’Arris helped me to speak much better; and tlhIngan Hol, which Monsieur ’Arris taught to me.”

Alexandrienne’s answer revealed perhaps much more than she intended. She seemed to divide her life as ‘before Mr. Harris’ and ‘after Mr. Harris.’ It was something that made me feel distinctly uncomfortable, especially given Sister Ig’s statements that Alexandrienne and Mr. Harris were usually inseparable. As for the good sister’s claim that Mr. Harris had attempted to put a stop to it, I wasn’t entirely sure I believed her. For all I knew, Mr. Harris could have been giving Sister Ig an excuse to explain why he kept the girl for himself, rather than let her go to school.

“Clinganhole?” I asked, for that was what I heard Alexandrienne say. “And you say Mr. Harris taught you that language? I was not aware that he spoke multiple tongues and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of that language. Where is it from?”

Sister Ig choked on her laughter.

“It is our language. Slayer language,” Alexandrienne puffed her chest up with pride. “Everyone in the village speaks it. French, English, it does not matter. We all speak tlhIngan Hol. It is a noble language. It is an honest language. You cannot lie speaking tlhIngan Hol, not like in the others. It is dishonorable to lie in tlhIngan Hol.”

My jaw dropped open. Score a point for Mr. Wyndham-Pryce’s intelligence sources. Mr. Harris was teaching his Slayers a secret language, one that froze the rest of the world out while binding the Slayers tightly together in a cultish patois that only he knew. Good heavens, he even promulgated rules about who was worthy to speak it and when.

“And to think it all started with the Star Trek geeks.” Sister Ig was grinning like a fool. “Well, actually Jimmy Doohan created the first words in tlhIngan Hol ever spoken, but it was the fans that took it and ran.”

“Excuse me?” my voice rose.

Star Trek. You know, tlhIngan Hol is spoken by Klingons. From Star Trek,Sister Ig said.

I sputtered a bit on this bit of information. Although I hardly would call myself an enthusiastic consumer of televised entertainment, I had guiltily devoured more than my share escapist American soaps such as Santa Barbara during my boarding school and early university days. I certainly knew enough to realize the absurd nature of this revelation. “Are you seriously telling me that this mysterious tlhIngan Hol language was first spoken by Captain Kirk?”

“Actually, Captain Kirk never spoke it,” Sister Ig corrected. “First words ever spoken in tlhIngan Hol was the first Star Trek movie right in the opening scenes.”

“Wait! Stop!” I shouted.

Sister Ig obligingly applied the brake. “Is something wrong? Do you need to get out and, you know…” she nodded at the field.

“No,” I said with frustration. “I just wish to be very clear about this. This secret language of Slayers, the one that Mr. Harris has all of the Slayers speaking, comes from an American television show. I just want to be very certain I heard that properly.”

Alexandrienne watched me with amused eyes. That’s when I realized that she was well aware of the source of her “honorable language.” It was equally clear that its roots were utterly irrelevant, as far as she was concerned.

Sister Ig seemed rather confused by my vehemence. “Yes. I don’t understand the problem,” she said slowly.

You understand this language, I suppose,” I said flatly.

“Speak it fluently, teach it, even have to invent new words in it. I’m the tlhIngan Hol expert. I try to get to the CLIC in town every other week to use their computers so I can post my linguistic exploits on the Klingon Language Institute and Klingon Imperial Diplomatic Corps Web sites.” she grinned. “Right now they’re debating including almost 50 of my words in phrases in the expanded lexicon.”

“The CLIC?” I asked.

“Computer Learning and Information Center,” Sister Ig said, “but people in town jokingly call it the Internet Café. The Imam lets us use his account and we reimburse him.” She leaned over and said proudly, “The Imam is very interested in tlhIngan Hol. He likes the whole concept of honor and bravery that’s at the center of it, but he’s a little less sure about the fact that it’s a little too direct to the point of being rude and can be a little violent. Plus, you know, there are some other cultural issues he’s got to work out before he starts me asking more questions.”

I believe my mouth dropped open at this point. “The Imam is aware of the Slayers’ presence?”

“Well, he’s one of the important people who needs to know,” Sister Ig said with a frown.

“How did he react?” I asked.

“He is a very good man,” Alexandrienne protested.

“Before or after he dropped to his knees, bowed three times in the direction of Mecca, and praised Allah for guiding His Chosen Handmaidens to Djenné to protect His people from the darkness that had been killing them for more than a year?” Sister Ig asked.

“He was a little worried about immorality,” Alexandrienne said. “But Monsieur ’Arris said he could come any time to visit to show there was no immorality.”

“Well, it’s an honest concern, anyway,” I grumbled.

“He’s come out to see us a few times,” Sister Ig nodded. “Right now his main thing is to get the boys — you know, relatives of the Slayers and some of the local kids that come to the school — some Qur’anic instruction. I think he’s trying to work something out with the marabouts to come out here and do a little work.”

“Marabouts? I know you’re not talking about a hat trimmed with feathers, so it must mean something else,” I said.

Sister Ig and Alexadrienne looked like they were trying not to laugh.

“Unh, those are teachers in the Qur’anic schools in town,” Sister Ig explained when she finally got the urge to laugh under control. “Personally, I think the Imam isn’t going to have a whole lot of luck finding someone. The marabouts aren’t exactly rolling in money and they do have a slate full of students already. Then he’s got to find someone temperamentally suited to handling our whole deal in the village, so that takes time.” She immediately sobered added with a mumble, “Not that I’m looking forward to that culture clash if it happens, but Harris says we’ve got to give a little if we want to get what we need, so what can you do?”

“Well, that answers that, then,” I said. “Regardless of what you say, Mr. Harris has been extraordinarily lucky.”

Sister Ig shrugged off my statement. “Or better, the people around here are extraordinarily practical. You keep forgetting, Djenné has always been one of those towns big on commerce and that goes back forever, long before Islam showed up here. It’s not the most important commercial center in the country, but it does okay for itself, despite everything. Part of the reason for that is because the people around here know a good thing when they see it.”

“I still say Mr. Harris was extraordinarily lucky,” I stubbornly insisted.

Sister Ig and Alexandrienne exchanged exasperated glances at this. Clearly, they thought otherwise. I wasn’t entirely sure whether to be comforted or disturbed by their reaction. There were obviously problems, but it was just as obvious that they were not about to tell me what those problems were. I suppose I could have pushed the issue, but I was afraid to step my foot in it before I even got to the village itself. I decided that now that I had some evidence that Sister Ig’s general optimism was unwarranted, I should keep my eyes and ears open once I was in the village environs.

Once more, I changed the subject, this time focusing on Sister Ig herself. “How did you learn this tlhIngan Hol language, as it seems clear to me that Mr. Harris didn’t teach it to you,” I asked.

“My oldest brother was a huuuuuge Klingon fan and Mamá used to make him take care of me, because he was the oldest and I was the youngest. If he wanted to go to the movies, he had to take me. If he wanted to go to a science fiction convention, he had to take me. Anyway, I learned tlhIngan Hol just to spite him.” Sister Ig giggled. “He’d get dressed up in his Klingon costume. I’d break out my Vulcan ears and Starfleet uniform. And then I’d go around embarrassing him by shouting ‘Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvamat!’ at all his friends.”

“What on earth does heh luk meh kek jarge mal mean?” I asked.

Sister Ig grinned and bowed to Alexandrienne. “Tell her.”

The Slayer grinned back at the nun in response. “Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvamat,” she corrected my pronunciation. “It means, ‘Today is a good day to die.’”

I felt absolutely sick upon hearing this.

Alexandrienne was still giggling as she settled back into her makeshift seat among the cargo in the rear of the jeep, although I couldn’t say if she was giggling because she showed her cleverness or because of the expression on my face.

My mind was in tumult. No one, not even a Slayer, should consider any day a good day to die. Although extreme self-sacrifice may be demanded of a Slayer in the course of discharging her duty, she should not be eager to throw her life away, let alone treat it as nothing more than a joke as Alexandrienne obviously did.

Sister Ig was still grinning as she started the engine. “Harris was so happy when he found out I spoke fluent tlhIngan Hol, he actually did a dance of joy. You haven’t lived until you see a guy who’s nearly six feet tall, complete with an eye patch and a five o’clock shadow, bouncing around you like an overgrown Labrador retriever because you speak tlhIngan Hol better than he does and because you’ve kept up on advances in the language long after he stopped.”

“I see,” I said weakly.

“It’s one those ideas that’s genius,” Sister Ig said. “What are you going to do when you’ve got all these girls, some who speak some form of French, some who speak some form of English, some who speak some form of Portuguese, some who speak Swahili, and some who speak some form of God knows what, and you need them to be able to communicate not just with you, but with each other?”

“Rather than try learning the Babylonian selection of languages so you can communicate with them in their native tongues, you teach them a new language from scratch that you can speak fluently, but they can’t,” I said. I hoped I kept the condemnation of my voice.

“Exactamente,” Sister Ig crowed, clearly missing the point I was trying to make as she warmed to a subject that was obviously near and dear to her heart. “Best of all, it’s not a language too many humans know, let alone the local vampires or demons. The Slayers can be shouting the attack plan at the top of their lungs to each other, and there probably isn’t a single demon on the whole continent that can figure out what they’re saying.”

Or a single linguist in the whole of the Watcher’s Council, I thought sourly.

“See? Genius. Absolutely insane, but absolutely genius,” She glanced at me and tapped a finger to her temple to emphasize her own point. “Then again, that’s Harris in a nutshell. It’s like I was trying to tell you before. If you throw a problem at him, he comes up with the craziest ideas to get around it. You’ll be thinking to yourself, ‘No way. That’s not going to work. You’ve got to be out of your mind to think that’s going to work.’ Then when it works, you start hitting yourself in the forehead because the solution was so obvious that you should’ve seen it as clearly as he did.”

I began to stare fixedly at the road. I now had my final answer on Sister Ig’s mindset. Whatever doubts she may have, they were certainly not enough to overthrow whatever spell Mr. Harris had cast to seduce otherwise intelligent and capable people into doing his bidding. I needed to see how deep her admiration of Mr. Harris went and how unshakeable she was in her belief in Mr. Harris.

Much as I had lost any hope for anything resembling an objective report on Mr. Harris’s character from Sister Ig, I thought it best to doggedly pursue what she termed as Mr. Harris’s “insane genius.” She was in a talkative mood at the moment. There was no telling how her friendly demeanor might change if Mr. Harris ruled that I was an enemy.

“Ah. I see,” I nodded. “I don’t suppose you can give me an example of other problems he’s solved using unorthodox means, well, aside from attracting such a well-qualified set of village elders.”

“Well, let’s take the village itself, right? Around here, farmland’s at a premium because when the weather turns dry, it turns dusty, dirty, everything withers, bone dry. So you have to get the maximum you can during rainy season and right after that. If you don’t, or the area gets hit with a drought like it did a few years ago, you can’t even feed your own family, let alone grow enough surplus to sell at the market.”

“I believe that I get the picture,” I said.

“Well, you figure that there’s no way all these farming villages around us would be willing to give up a slice of land to us, not that anyone can blame them,” Sister Ig said. “Count on Harris to take one look around and figure out how he could sweet talk the locals into making a donation to a worthy cause.”

My heart sped up upon realizing that Sister Ig was about to solve one mystery for me. It took everything I had to keep the eagerness out of my voice “Go on.”

“This all goes right back to the beginning. Harris figured out that he needed some base of operations because he was collecting Slayers, but having a heck of a time wrangling visas for them so they could travel to the U.K.,” Sister Ig continued.

“Oh? Did he explain why he was having difficulties?”

“Some sort of problem at the Council’s end, I think,” Sister Ig said. “From what Harris told me, things were pretty chaotic up in London while the Council was getting its act together and the powers that be were working out what resources they had to spare. He figured his boss would eventually come through on the promised visas, but he had no idea if he’d be waiting weeks or months. In the meantime, his group of Slayers kept getting bigger, so traveling around with them in tow was getting a lot harder. Two or three pre-teen and teen girls, he can at least make up something that’ll get them all through a border checkpoint. When you hit a half-dozen girls, none of whom speak the same dialect, forget it. There isn’t enough cover story in the world that can help you.”

I frowned at this. There was most certainly an element of truth in what Sister Ig said. Early in Mr. Harris’s African tenure, the Council’s situation was far more precarious. Mr. Giles was still calling on the Old Watcher families and determining what resources had escaped unscathed from the First Evil’s cowardly attack. Many of Mr. Harris’s comrades had already scattered to the four winds and were most likely embroiled in their own crises. He would have been operating very much without a safety net, at least initially.

However, her answer still begged for more questions. “Why not just leave the girls where he found them until he could acquire the necessary visas?” I asked. “That would seem to be the logical solution.”

Sister Ig spared me a glance before looking grimly ahead. “Not all the girls have that option.”

“Ah,” I said with understanding. That at least explained why Mr. Harris thought he had no choice but to keep his chosen Slayers around him until matters in London were settled on a firmer foundation, assuming he ever intended to send them to Devon for training to begin with.

“I hooked up with Harris in the shores of Lake Victoria about a month after he hit Africa. He had only three Slayers with him at the time and he was just starting to run into some uncomfortable questions. Nothing he couldn’t talk his way out of, but enough that he knew it was only going to get worse. By the time we hit Mali to pick up a Slayer in Dogon country, we had something like eight girls on our hands and we were starting to run into some real problems, even at the friendlier border checkpoints open to some good old fashioned bribery.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t run into problems before that,” I said.

“Yeah, well, nun right here. Between Harris’s fake NGO status and my very real habit, we cooked up a story that the girls were actually my students, which was sort of true even back then, and that he was escorting us to a school for displaced girls someplace that required us to pass through whatever country we were trying to cross,” Sister Ig shrugged. “We had to travel around some of the really hardcore countries and nasty war zones to pull it off, which added so much travel time between Point A and Point B, I can’t tell you. The old trick of getting between Point A and Point B in Africa by flying through Europe was definitely out. Heck, even internal direct flights was starting to be a pain by the time we washed up in Djenné.”

“Sounds like a rather desperate situation,” I acknowledged sympathetically.

“You’re not kidding. Harris was at the end of his rope and had given up on getting visas any time soon for the girls. I was getting sick, because I was so exhausted. The girls were so frustrated with the constant travel that they started fighting among themselves. We’d all pretty much had it,” Sister Ig acknowledged. “But the blow-up in Djenné we all had? That was ugly. I forget what sparked it, but by the time it was over, Harris had completely lost it and had backed all the girls, I mean physically backed all the girls, into a corner while he read them the riot act.”

I shook my head. I could not have heard that properly. “Mr. Harris physically intimidated eight Slayers? Are you serious?”

“Because it was so unexpected,” Sister Ig. “None of us had ever seen him lose his temper like that. Irritated, sure. Impatient? You bet. Bad moods? Hey, we all have those days. But this was some serious rage, y’know. It’s the kind of rage that you just know that’s been on a slow simmer for a long time and when it blows, people end up dead.”

I stared straight ahead in an effort to not react to this last statement.

“Anyway, he finishes his yelling, which involved him flinging a couple of things against the walls, and then he storms out of the Tapama,” Sister Ig continued. “Ally raced after him because it was dark out by this point and she figured that in his state of mind he’d be more likely to get himself hurt. The rest of us were staring at each other trying to figure out what we were going to do because, I have to tell you, we all thought that Harris had completely snapped.”

Perhaps he did, I thought.

“Anyway, a few hours later, Harris comes back and it’s like the whole thing never happened. He’s got a bounce in his step, a gleam in his eye, and he’s got one of his famous plans,” Sister Ig continued. “Turns out Djenné had a vampire problem. What’s more, the local chief knew there was a problem, but he’s trying to keep a lid on it because Djenné is gaining a big rep as one of those ‘must see’ towns for the backpacking crowd.”

I held my breath. It appeared that Alexandrienne lied. Mr. Harris really did strike a bargain with the town before a single stake was lifted in Djenné’s defense.

“It just so happens that while Harris was stomping around town ranting and raving, he and Ally stumble across a vampire attacking one of the civic leaders. Ally does her thing and — poof — they land themselves an audience with the chief, who fills them in on the problem.”

“And a deal was struck,” I said lowly.

“Nah. Harris just told the chief that he had eight girls who could take care of the problem and that they’d clean up Djenné before the body count got high enough to start attracting real attention. It didn’t even occur to him play Monty Hall until he was already on the way back to the Tapama after the meeting,” Sister Ig said.

“Monty Hall?” I asked.

“You know. Let’s Make a Deal. Anyway, the basic plan was we go in with guns blazing like Shane, clean up the place, and then start dropping hints to the local bosses that we sure could use a permanent place to stay,” Sister Ig grinned. “It was beautiful. The A-Team couldn’t have done a better job. The girls had the vampires on the run within two weeks. Once the town experienced its first murder-free week in more than a year, Harris loads up on the Southern California charm, puts on the fish-out-of-water act, and opens negotiations.”

“Let me guess,” I said wearily. “He lists all the wonderful things the Slayers have done for the town and mentions in passing that Djenné strikes him as a rather nice place, that it is a shame that its citizens had to endure such hardship, and that it would be tragic if history repeated. Then, he happens share his knowledge of vampires, such as how they have an annoying tendency to attack unprotected communities, and that while the Slayers may have frightened the beasts off for now, the vampires would return once they realized that he and his people have moved on. He expresses his deepest hope that while he and the Slayers are in residence on the island that the bloodsucking fiends haven’t moved into the surrounding villages where, no doubt, they would continue their reign of terror and are waiting for their chance to return in triumph. While the civic leaders absorb this information, he happens to share his dream of a permanent base camp for his itinerant band, nothing fancy you understand, just a little out-of-the-way plot of land with easy access to a market so he can keep the camp supplied with necessities. He might further express admiration for Djenné, praise it’s location, show fondness for the local people, and agree that residents of this area are well-known for their business acumen and their ability to strike a most excellent bargain, especially one that would be for the greater good of all.”

“Congratulations,” Sister Ig laughed. “You have just summed up almost three weeks’ worth of negotiations with every village leader in the area, but without the four-course meals, the gallons of tea, and hours of conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with Slayers, vampires, or setting up the village.”

I resisted the urge to sigh. Technically, Alexandrienne had not lied. They did their duty in hopes that Mr. Harris would be able to leverage the positive result. That did not erase the fact that Mr. Harris went into the business with a plan to force concessions from a battered and weary populace and community leaders who were anxious to keep the monsters at bay.

Going by Sister Ig’s narrative thus far, this could be a classic case of good intentions gone awry.

If I gave Mr. Harris the benefit of doubt, I could imagine what happened. Mr. Harris conducted himself in good faith, fully expecting to send the girls on to London as soon as possible. Mr. Giles was not able to provide the expected visas, and so Mr. Harris found himself in an increasingly desperate situation with one nun and eight Slayers. Their movement had became increasingly restricted to the point where they are forced to travel out of their way to bypass overtly hostile territory, thus increasing potentially hazardous travel time. Adding to this challenge, Mr. Harris must’ve had a logistical nightmare on his hands. He had to provide for group’s most basic needs, including food, water, shelter, and other basic supplies, all while wrestling with a Babylonian mix of languages by teaching the Slayers a new one that was wholly unfamiliar to them. Then he had to find time to train the girls in at least basic self-defense and combat. If the group ran into vampires or other demons during their travels, those threats had to be dealt with as well.

It was simply no wonder that Mr. Harris must’ve come to believe that he’d been abandoned by the Council and decided that he could no longer depend on outside help.

I could easily see how what may have started out as a positive step to resolve a dire problem — such as founding the base camp — could become twisted into the present situation, especially if Mr. Harris continued to believe that the Council was incapable of rendering him more than only the most basic support.

If the personality profile generated by Mr. Wyndham-Pryce’s people was even partially accurate, Mr. Harris may have already started viewing the Council as “the enemy” because of what he perceived as abdication of its responsibilities to the African Slayers and to himself and the chronic unresponsiveness to his early needs. This, again according to his profile, might feed into his sense of inferiority, since desperately needed aid was not rendered in a timely manner, thus “proving” to him that he and his mission were not a priority. However, the situation would also feed into his sense of superiority because, despite the difficult reversals of fortune and the lack of logistical support from his superiors, he alone developed a solution that satisfied not just himself, but also the people under his protection and the local population.

Also, if Sister Ig’s story was to be believed, Mr. Harris was certainly capable of instilling fear in the Slayers under his command. By providing the displaced girls with a permanent home won through his seemingly flawless leadership and cleverness, he also no doubt won their slavish devotion.

From all appearances, it certainly worked on Sister Ig. How much easier would it be to work such magic on young, inexperienced girls who looked to him for their comforts in a safe haven?

It didn’t even bear thinking about.

“That is a most fascinating story,” I finally said. “It explains quite a lot.”

“Not the half of it. Wait’ll you see the homestead,” Sister Ig enthused. “You’ll be impressed. Heck, your bosses will be impressed, too. Once you give them the full report, they’ll be tripping all over themselves to get us more resources. Believe me. We really could use whatever they can get to us. It’ll be a huge benefit for the Slayers.”

My heart sank at Sister Ig’s simple expression of hope for aid that I was almost certain would never come. She had placed me in a most difficult position. I knew that although some on the Council might find the template here worthy of further study and consideration, a greater portion most likely would recoil from the compromises necessary to maintain the already existing village, let alone replicate it elsewhere.

Our entire conversation put the whole Harris situation in stark terms. Depose Mr. Harris, and I destroy his village and irredeemably poison the well not just for Slayers already in residence, but also the civilians that acquiesced to its existence in their midst and the qualified personal responsible for its operation.

As we continued along our bumpy road to fate, I tried with all my might to see a solution to the conundrum before me. Yet, no matter how I turned the matter over in my mind, I could not see how a happy result was at all possible.

 

TBC...

Tags: character: ensemble, character: oc, character: xander, fanfiction: 2006, fanfiction: buffy the vampire slayer, fanfiction: facing the heart in darkness, fanfiction: fic-a-thon
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