Summary:Spring and Varanim debate the ethical specifics of "killing" a variety of marginally alive beings.

XP:S1, V1


< The Flavor of Wine | Sol Invictus Logs | All Hail The Questing Heroes >

Spring knocks lightly on Varanim's door.

Varanim "It's open," comes Varanim's voice a little indistinctly. Inside, she's not actually in the room, but appears to have climbed out the open window and is on her knees in the patch of ornamental garden outside, repurposing one of the flowerbeds.

Spring enters, looks around, then follows her into the garden, cocking his head.

Spring "What are you doing?"

Varanim doesn't look up immediately, patting soil down efficiently around a set of young green stalks. The area seems to have been divided meticulously if obscurely into a range of differently-sized slices, some of them planted with shoots and some bare but looking freshly-watered.

Varanim "Medicinal, recreational, and cooking," she indicates with three slashes of her hand, the second rather larger than the other two.

Varanim "Why, what are you doing?"

Spring "Admiring your sudden burst of energy."

Spring "Were you always like this when you were getting enough sleep?"

Varanim looks up with a leer and presumably a sarcastic comment, then sits back a bit with a thoughtful look on her face at his question. "I suppose so."

Varanim "I don't think you came by to do a spot-check on gardening, although very rarely I'm wrong."

Spring "I have heard that you do not believe in killing."

Varanim raises her eyebrows and shifts to a more comfortable sitting position, wiping her hands on the knees of her pants. "I don't think I said that exactly, but I'll admit to unusual feelings on the subject, yes."

Spring "Have you ever destroyed a spirit?"

Varanim "Permanently? A few times, sure."

Spring "How is this different from killing?"

Varanim "On average it's a bit worse, since ghosts are more likely than people to risk dropping to Oblivion at the end." Either from her good mood or some faith in Spring's conversation, she doesn't seem especially impatient to cut to the point.

Spring "How do you reconcile this? Please be assured that I ask for practical reasons, and not to lead you into judgement."

Varanim "Oh, don't worry about that, I ignore people judging me," she smiles. "I'm not actually a pacifist, if that clears it up. I can and have spent years going out of my way to avoid the various corpse-strewn shortcuts, but in field work I'm not always able to save my own life without a bit of a mess."

Varanim "In those cases, I've so far always decided I needed to keep going."

Spring "I am sure the greater good was served."

Spring "Myself, I cannot accept the necessity."

Spring "Are you familiar with the Shadowed Unlife Equation? The zombies it creates?"

Varanim "Of all people, I'd have hoped you wouldn't patronize me with reassurances about the greater good." To the question, she says, "I'm passingly familiar with them--why?"

Spring "What would you have preferred me to say?"

Spring "What would be necessary in order to restore them to life or to return their souls?"

Varanim "I prefer you to say what you think, and it briefly sounded as if you were saying something just to make me feel better. Sorry if I misheard." Her tone is much less sharp than it would usually be--she mostly seems calm, and a little curious.

Varanim "Hm, I'd have to look into it more than I have. What was their final disposition when you people were done romping around down there?"

Spring "I think that killing is wrong, and I have done quite a lot of it, so I know."

Spring "I also think that you are one of the few people who might be able to be trusted with the decision as to whether your death would improve the world."

Varanim blinks. "I... thank you, although I'm not sure I still agree." Then she shakes her head. "Where is this coming from?"

Spring "Which?"

Varanim "You apparently came looking for me to talk about killing. Is something on your mind, or did it just seem like a good topic for a nice day?"

Spring "We are at war."

Spring "We have been since before I was born, since before my shard was ever created."

Spring "War with the Primordials, war with the Fae, war with the Lacuna. With the Deathlords. With the Hundredfold. With at least three other otherworldly enemies I am currently unaware of."

Spring "I do not believe in killing, but I am told that in war it is not uncommon."

Spring "I would like to consider, then, whether it is ever the case that no other approach is possible."

Varanim "I didn't know I was at war with anyone. Who is the 'we' you're talking about?" She tilts her head and grabs a few strands of ornamental grass to braid between her fingers. "Not actually being snide there--I think it's a good first question."

Spring "As far as we are informed, the Lacuna's goal is to eradicate existence."

Spring "I am confident that the Primordials and the Fae have the same desire. The Deathlords may be slightly more complicated."

Spring "How would you describe your reaction to such a plan?"

Varanim "I generally start with what I can do, and work my way up from there. Fixing the Neverborn was always the goal, if I lived that long." She spreads her hands. "Until recently, I was happily free of any national politics."

Varanim "It may be fundamentally a problem of scale--it's pretty hard to convince a bunch of people to go murder other people that they know. Much easier with armies and strangers, which there are a lot of in a world this size."

Spring "When the entire world is a nation, I am not sure you can be free of national politics. Where will you stand?"

Spring "Ah, I spoke of your personal reaction, not your strategy."

Varanim "Same as always, on the road going from what I've done to what I must do. I'm not trying to be especially metaphorical here--I'm a pretty rootless person, these days. But I suspect that's beside your point."

Varanim "You're asking how to end war as a concept, or just avert one of the particular looming ones?"

Spring "In fact, I was attempting to suggest that when an adversary has dedicated itself to the destruction of your universe you are at war with them whether you intend to be or not."

Spring "Perhaps I am wrong."

Varanim "It may help to remember that as a peasant, I'm used to thinking of war as something that's done by other people to people like me, not something I have any chance of changing. But I don't want the universe to be destroyed--all my stuff is here. Still, the question remains: are you looking for a way to win the war for the universe, or negate the need for it?"

Spring sighs. "I would prefer the latter, but I expect the former."

Spring "What I am looking for is a way to determine whether there might be enemies so inhuman, so hateful, or so mindless that violence against them is not the same as violence against a human being."

Varanim "Don't give up on option two just yet--don't you people regularly bend or rewrite the laws of Creation to fix your oopsies? It seems like the next reasonable step to restructure the universe so that it's incapable of permitting the concept of devouring." She leans back and twirls the braided grass around one finger, considering his next point.

Varanim "The standard view of spectres is that they're incapable of normal emotions; they're no longer human, just spasms of matter executing the will of the presence in their souls. But that's a somewhat simpler case than you're proposing, since with spectres it's only a matter of shutting off the Labyrinth's yammering."

Spring "Hm."

Spring "You feel safe in assuming, I suppose, that the Labyrinth, or the intelligence it represents, cannot be reasoned with."

Varanim "I... think that's still an open question. I can't reason with the Labyrinth or the Neverborn yet, though, and I'm not going to hold off on treating their excretions because I might have that research breakthrough someday. Does that address your point?"

Spring "It helps."

Spring "Perhaps we ought to visit your Underworld Manse soon."

Spring "I am good at speaking to things."

Spring "Perhaps, also, we ought to attempt to meet with Pluto."

Varanim "Both good ideas. I'll start nagging Piercing Ivory about the second, but the first can be done much sooner." She pauses to tilt her head in thought as she climbs to her feet. "Assuming no one's eaten the place, of course."

Spring "Always a concern."

< The Flavor of Wine | Sol Invictus Logs | All Hail The Questing Heroes >

Page last modified on February 08, 2009, at 03:07 AM