The Not-Evil Plan
I do not own any of the characters from Dollhouse or Firefly. They are the intellectual property of Fox and Joss Whedon.
Lyrics are the intellectual property of The Beatles.
“We don’t just give people what they want here at the Dollhouse,” Matthew Harding told her, looking her straight in the eye. “We give them what they need.”
“You help people,” Bennett replied understandingly.
“That has always been the purpose of Rossum,” he replied, nodding sagely.
“I can’t wait to get started,” she gushed, clutching her offer of employment in her one good hand.
“And Ms. Halverson?” Harding added as he stood up. His eyes shifted down towards her arm which hung uselessly from her shoulder. She felt blood rushing into her cheeks.
“I promise you, we want to help give you
what you need too,” he reached over and patted her dead shoulder. 2010
It was a dark night, Bennett thought as she entered her home. Then again, all nights were dark, she reasoned, and therefore, there wasn’t any need to pay any special attention to this one in particular.
Her left hand tingled, and she squirmed uncomfortably, instinctively trying not to jar the left side of her body. The doctors had warned her that keeping that arm motionless would hurt it more than heal it, but old habits are a bitch to wipe. She should know.
Throwing her purse on her sofa, she walked into the kitchen, only to find herself staring blankly at her surroundings, as though she had momentarily forgotten why she was where she was.
She welcomed that feeling, and almost missed it when it went away again.
Her assistant had no idea why she had been summoned into the small, soundproof boardroom. Actually, her assistant usually had no idea why she was summoned anywhere. For someone who wasn’t a doll, she had a shockingly limited range of thought.
Beside her was an Active imprinted with the personality of Topher Brink.
Or at least, as close to his personality as Bennett could get it to be, the pretty technician thought, anticipating the satisfaction she was going to experience in the next few minutes when she hit the “return” key. The Topher-Doll twitched nervously, launching into a lengthy diatribe at her clueless assistant. His mouth moved soundlessly on the screen, and she thought she could read the word ‘Cylons’ on his lips.
“When I press “Enter” in the next few minutes, what the two of them will hear is David Bowie’s Heroes,” Bennett said.
“Interesting choice,” Mr. Harding replied, looking intently at the screen.
“It’s a classic.” She replied. Her lips twitched into a small, proud smile. “This will, I believe, adequately display how the technology will work on minds with or without Active architecture,”
Her left hand swung irrevocably downwards onto her computer keyboard. The smooth button firmly under the pad of her forefinger, she pushed.
Gin, she was surprised to find, was a taste she acquired rather quickly in her short life. This was despite the fact that she had practically vomited the first time she had taken a single, tiny sip. But she was Bennett Halverson. If a concrete beam couldn’t end her, some stupid beverage
wasn’t going to get the better of her.
The television in front of her was switched off; she had no intention of watching anything on it that night. Or ever again
, a voice whispered in her head.
Instead, she studied the Sapphire-coloured drink in her hand, and almost marveled at how it progressively got paler as the ice melted.
Outside her window, she could hear the faint sound of music streaming in from her neighbour’s home. Listen, Do you want to know a secret? Let me whisper in your ear…
Setting the glass down, she walked over and shut the glass panes, effectively drowning out the words of lovers in love.
The two figures on the small screen were bent over in agony. Bennett couldn’t tear her eyes away from the tableau, barely even noticing that she wasn’t breathing.
Gradually, they straightened up, blood streaming from their noses, their hair plastered to their heads in perspiration. As she had expected…no, she had hoped…her assistant’s eyes were completely blank. More blank than usual, anyway. She looked around her uncomprehendingly.
The Active’s lips moved in the shape of the words “Did I fall asleep?”
“This isn’t that much more than the accomplishments of the house in LA,” Mr. Harding sounded unimpressed as he cast a furtive look at their thus far, silent audience. The figures on the video conferencing screen nearby, potential investors seated in a boardroom in China, observed them impassively in their turn.
“Topher Brink built the foundations, I’m sure.” Bennett forced herself to keep the venom out of her words. “But the difference is, I’ve turned it into a masterpiece. Keep watching Mr. Harding, the track’s changing – they’re hearing John Lennon’s Imagine.”
This was the way world peace was going to start, she thought, not with a bang but with a song. All these years, working for Rossum…for the Dollhouse…nobody seemed to look at the big picture. Either that or they behaved as if there was a big, evil conspiracy happening under their noses.
The sheets were cool on her skin as she lay staring at the ceiling.
Even such a simple sensation felt strange against her left arm, which had hung off her body like a portion of a corpse for so long. Experimentally, she flexed her fingers, wondering if perhaps, her once erstwhile limb had a mind of its own, because it certainly didn’t feel as if it belonged to her.
Alien flesh, she thought of it. Who would have expected that getting it healed was almost as hard as losing a limb?
Her left hand clenched hard into a fist.
What should have happened was that they should have come to as personalities that would recognize each other as kindred spirits at once. Best friends, complementing each other in every way. Neither would ever, ever abandon the other…their thoughts so in sync, nothing could come between them. That was what she had encoded into Lennon’s hopes.
Individuality was fine and well in theory. But strife, Bennett had always reflected, stemmed from the fact that every single person’s thoughts extended in too many different directions one from the other.
If everyone simply saw everything from each other’s point of view…what you’d have was world peace.
The trick, therefore, was to create one view for all.
Turning on her side, she toyed with the idea of purchasing ear plugs.
The woman who used to be her assistant caught sight of the Active, who smiled blankly back at the middle aged woman.
Bennett’s stomach crunched in a sudden, sickening apprehension.
A thick arm shot forward, grabbing the young, beautiful, hollow man by the throat. The woman didn’t let go until the Doll stopped sputtering and whimpering. After he stopped breathing, his eyes bloodshot and still streaming uncomprehending tears.
Beside Bennett, she could hear Harding inhale sharply. She looked at him, worried, an apology already spilling out her lips, but his eyes were on the Blue Sun investors. She could have been wrong, but they seemed…pleased.
“We’ll discuss this further Mr. Harding.” One of them said in accented English.
The young Rossum technician looked back at the woman standing over the broken body of the beautiful Doll. Her expression was unreadable, unrecognizable. Inhuman, even.
“Ms. Halverson, deal with the situation,” Harding ordered firmly and walked out of the room without glancing backwards once.
She wasn’t sure that she wasn’t relieved – he hadn’t seemed displeased at the results, even though…well, even though.
*** If everyone simply saw everything from each other’s point of view…what you’d have was world peace,
the same words nagged in her head. All she needed was time. Yes. That’s all it was. Time and some patience; the human brain wasn’t just some piece of technical junk.
Sleep stubbornly evaded her grasp. In the morning, she put on her old sling, popped a couple of aspirins, and left for her lab.
“Miss Halverson, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Jeremy Tam.” Harding’s smile never touched his eyes, the young woman thought. If he noticed the state of her arm, he said nothing. “He is our legal counsel, and would like to discuss with you the product we demonstrated yesterday to our shareholders.”
“I need to know how best to start filing the patent,” the handsome stranger said. “I hear this is where world peace is manufactured.”
“It’s such a pleasure Mr. Tam,” she said brightly, feeling the fatigue borne of a sleepless night sliding off her as she looked into his dark eyes. “But I should warn you, it’s still a work in progress and there’s a lot to be done.”
“Then I shall look forward to the extensive amount of time we will be spending together,” The lawyer assured. “And call me Jerry.”
They didn’t stop smiling at each other for a long minute.
*** 2513 (473 years since Earth-That-Was was considered too decimated for human life to prosper)
River Tam was surrounded by walls, and the whimpers of the other students in the school. She couldn’t hear
their cries, not through the soundproof padding. It was much worse than that.
When she closed her eyes, she could see her schoolmates losing their minds, their bloodless faces gaping in horror, trapped in an endless, torturous madness. Just as she was.
She saw a lot of things in her small, monotonous cell (hell). Like, a silver ship that hovered in the black, waiting for her. Like, a kindly soldier, looking deep into her eyes and talking about love.
Her brother, cajoling and bribing a path towards her.
She saw herself…no, not River. Another woman who wore her face. River saw her feverishly working…filling people and hollowing them, over and over, ignoring their screams, treating them like mere objects for her to mould.
“Evil,” she whispered out loud, listening to the screams.
“No. It’s not,” The woman seemed to reply.
River could do nothing but watch. The past was something she couldn’t touch.
Sometimes, River thought as the doctors sliced into her, she decided that it was only fitting that she paid for her crimes.
Most times though, most times she simply wept.