prompt: set 1 -- 003 library - Book
Rating: E for everyone
Summary: While Serenity is on Ariel, Book researches River's Academy at the Abbey.
Book sits in the dimly lit library, contemplating the cortex screen. The database he's searching is classified, but he's always been a strong believer of availing yourself of all available information before making a decision. And he has a big one to make.
Even though he's pledged himself to a higher authority, Book still feels a sense of duty to his government. After over forty years, it's hard not to. But the moral shades of grey are what drove him from service to his government and into the service of the Lord.
Still, River Tam presents a unique problem for him. In the past, he's never known the individuals that his actions and decisions affected. Not like this. He's not heard their screams when they wake from nightmares that would kill less courageous men or seen the tears cried when everything was just too much. If he didn't believe so strongly in the sanctity of life, he would agree with the captain that it would be far kinder to put her out of her misery.
Despite all he knows about those who have issued his orders in the past, he finds it hard to believe that his government could have been experimenting on children. Well, not unbelievable, but it shakes the foundation of any trust he has in people or government that an intelligent, gifted child from a respected, well-to-do family ended up as one of their guinea pigs.
He knows her brother means well, but Book is driven to determine if Simon acted rashly. Perhaps her condition is the cause of an underlying problem that Simon was blinded to out of love. Or there was an accident and the girl's troubles are the resulting after effects. Or that she'd have been much better if Simon had simply let them finish.
The more Book digs though, the more his soul freezes as he discovers case after case of children "returned" with symptoms matching River's. To do this to young minds, one after the other, and be left with unstable shells all for a purpose that he can't divine...Evil is the only thing that can explain it.
Book understands evil. That understanding makes his duty clear. He'll protect River for as long as God calls him to do so. Protect her from the Alliance and Malcolm Reynolds' questionable sense of ethics.