Talking in Whispers

You sound so happy.

I really hate it when my delusions come back to haunt me. Ron muttered silently. You're as bad as the Lawn Gnome.

I'll take that as a compliment. Besides, it's your fault I'm here. Or to put it differently, your fault you're listening again. Having second thoughts about that college girl?

I had to do it.

You keep telling yourself that. I'm certain most of your enemies do.

Why won't you leave me alone. Ron "said", glaring at nothing. He didn't want to move because Kim had rolled up against him, asleep. I'm doing my best.

Stupid conscience. He thought to himself.

If that's what I am.

Oh, we're not going to go there again. I only said what I said because I was half whacked out from sleep depravation. Besides, if that was true, aren't you supposed to show up with a burning bush?

In today's world? People'd just complement me on my CGI.

She was going to starve millions of people.

And Shego didn't occasionally unleash the odd plan that could have killed a large number of people? Ron gritted his teeth, it had been a while since he'd had these conversations. Perhaps it's because you knew Shego? Had a connection with her…

So what if I did? I don't have to cut everyone a break-

Beware of that line of reasoning, O Man. The little voice that Ron had heard on and off again during his entire life (usually when he was about to do something bad, or trying to figure out a way to do something good) sounded firmer. There is one Power that may judge who deserves mercy and who does not, and it is not you, no matter how much power you have or what Blade you wield. It paused, And you know why you're listening again. You keep wondering what Kim would do if she had been there, to hear that girl pleading and crying for her mother. You wonder what would have been in her eyes.

Sometimes…Ron was going to say he had to do it, but the justification stuck in his throat.

Better. Ask your friend Samuel Verne. You know she is going to get in trouble, don't you. Involuntarily, Ron looked over at Kim.

She's one of My favorites—oh, pardon me, your little internal voice's favorites. Someone filled with virtue, who has triumphed over terrible tragedy and not let it mark her, not where it matters. But there will be challenges coming. Terrible challenges that will be greater than anything you, or her have faced in the past.

"No duh." Ron whispered, and then shut up as Kim sighed in her sleep.She's only planning to try and overturn the last ten years worth of history.

There will be more than that. Kimberly is one of the truly righteous people, with the kind of virtue to give her the strength to hold up under the most terrible trials. But she is mortal, like all flesh and like all flesh has limits.

So you're saying she'll fail? Ron frowned, great, even I distrust her.

No. But She will need you. You will need her. You are both far beyond the point where you can stand alone. Remember that. What she asked you, and what you asked her this night you must remember, or many will Fall…not just you.

Great, wait-what are you-

I'm just your conscience, remember? The voice said, with a chuckle,And if you're getting faith in your old age, remember that faith goes both ways. Night.

Ron's stayed still for a few moments. He'd had semi waking dreams like that more than a few times, and on several occasions they'd proven important. Sensei had said nothing like that had been recorded with the blade, but Ron shied away from the other possible explanation. It was just his subconscious. He waited and then got up and softly walked away from the bed, looking back to see Kim, her hair haloing her sleeping features. He made certain the door was open (Kim would wake up in aninstant if she thought she had been locked in), and went to the com center down the hall.

"Get Me Colonel Verne." He said, and moments later, Vernes infuriatingly awake voice came up.

"Problems, Ron?"

"Don't you ever sleep?"

"According to the last Blog by the Sons of Liberty, a spook like me doesn't need to sleep—I just have to make certain I have some home soil in my coffin when I retire for the day." He paused, "So how is Kimberly after her little run in?"

"How many people do you have watching her?"

"Not as many as you think, but Joss is still flagged as a security risk and there were cameras in the area."


"My Boy, you should know how that there are people in high places who worry that religious fanatics might decide that if non-violence doesn't work, bombs might." A pause, "And of course if they did, having someone on the inside in the FDNY would be perfect."

"Joss and I have problems, but that's insulting to her. Very insulting to her." Ron said frostily. Joss and him might not agree, but he'd no more suspect her of harming another person then he would the moon spontaenously turning into green cheese.

"You might ask her, she knows she's under surveiliance since she refused to sign a loyalty oath."

Ron frowned. "She's a Quaker Samuel—they're not about to sign oaths, Loyalty or otherwise. You know that."

"And so do the people who want to make trouble for the Quakers." There was a pause, "Trust me, I don't like this, because it's stupid, it's harassment, and more importantly, it's dragging resources from possibly dangerous situations."

"How about reason #4." Ron said, "The government promised that when we gave them expanded powers, said powers would be used against people who wanted to blow us up, not annoying religious sects." He paused, "In fact…why are you tell-do you want me to be a stalking horse on this? To get it stopped?"

"My boy, I'm simply telling you this so you don't use your formidable skills on some poor snoop who is simply following orders. I would never in my wildest dreams, suggest that you use this information for other purposes, political or other wise."

"Riiighhhtttt" Ron drawled. "I'll talk to Joss about it."

"You do that—If I were to tell you other stuff, I'd suggest that this policy is rather new and controversial and hasn't yet percolated up to the presidential level, and that a certain amount of…salutary publicity might lead to it being stopped and certain individuals being transferred to Greenland. Now, you didn't call me at 3:00AM for this, so what's your problem."

"Fine… The mission to LA. Your evaluation?"

"Technically…a success." Samuel said.

"And otherwise?"

"Son, we're having some problems right now, and I need you, but if I didn't I wouldn't be calling you again. I said, "Scare" not "terrify into a coma."" He paused, "I got the after action from Yori, and you went way beyond the pale."

"Even if she-"

"If half baked ideas were gold, every college student would be a millionaire. They were smart, but had no life experience. Hell I bet the closest she came to being hungry was the diet to get a pound or two off her waist. You could have scared her, dragged her to one of your relief stations, showed her a place where kids crawl because they can't get enough energy to walk. Might have turned an enemy into an ally with that…instead you pretty much broke her." Samuel paused. "This is important, Ron."

"It…won't happen again."

"I hope not. Ronald." Samuels' voice was far more serious then he'd heard it in a long time. "You're a freelancer. No cameras, no chain of command unless you want 'em. That's good, but remember, that means you have to keep hold of your morality. Sometimes we have to kill, but don't make the mistake of thinking that gives you the right to be a judge."

"Our enemies seem to think it does….that they have the right to Judge." Ron said.

Samuel paused for a moment. "That's what makes them our enemies Ron." Then, the humor was back in his voice. "Well, I'll let you get back to your sleeping, or at least I assume she's sleeping, beauty. I have to find my coffin before the sun comes up."