Jul 13, 2020 3:01 AM
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"What's the worst case if they do interfere? They decide Rune's a demon and have her assassinated or something?"

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"Potentially. It's likelier that the consequences will be more...bureaucratic in nature. For example, if we don't manage to convince them she's benign, they could completely cut off my access to their libraries and other resources. They'll take significantly more convincing than me, too. They're still a bit suspicious of you because of the 'missing Slayer' thing."

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"I did not decide to be missing. Do you have an alternate source on books if they decide to shoot themselves in the foot like that?"

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"Witch shops often have demonology books but I don't know if the quality of witch shops is much like what I'm used to, here."

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"I can still get books, I'll just have to limit myself to local collections. I'm not sure what quality you're used to, Rune, but the local magic shop has a better selection than most. I can make do if you think asking for money is worth the risk."

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"Ugh, they're so badly run. Slayer-subsidy should be standard. Do you have to tell them Rune's a me or can you just tell them we've recruited me witchy support staff but ought to pay her?"

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"You're right, going into too much detail will probably just complicate things. But I should warn you that in general, the Watchers' Council doesn't approve of Slayers having a non-Watcher support staff, especially if it includes witches. Some days, I think they wake up in the morning and think, 'Gosh, pitting one teenage girl against the forces of evil is a pretty inefficient system. How about we make it even worse for everyone involved?'" She rolls her eyes. "I'll try to appeal to the more reasonable members."

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"Thank you. What exactly is the concern they have with the extra support?"

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"Varies. The consensus seems to be that they don't want to put the Slayer's life in the hands of someone who they haven't personally vetted extensively, but I suspect it mostly stems from them being afraid of change."

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"They'd rather kill me themselves when I turn eighteen, huh?"

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"Well, they can't trust anyone else to do it properly," she says sarcastically.

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"I almost wonder if they value a high turnover rate for some reason," says Rune. "There are rumors that the last Slayer in my world was killed by a botched or interfered-with or even an according-to-plan-some-of-them-die Cruciamentum but I don't know if it's true."

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"Valuing a high turnover rate would explain...a lot of things, but I'm not sure why they would," Cara muses.

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"Younger Slayers are easier to control. Keeps the demon population guessing about where the Slayer may during any given year be based," suggests Destiny.

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"True. They'd have to train new ones more frequently, but it's not as if they're losing money or irreplaceable resources by doing that, and if the Slayer's value is primarily based on reputation and not actual Slaying, a less-experienced Slayer isn't significantly less valuable than any other," she says. "Fuck."

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"Okay, look, what valuable things would actually be lost if the Watcher's Council disappeared?"

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"Resources. International coordination. Institutional power," she says automatically. "Fuck, I'm angry enough that I almost don't care."

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"Can we potentially replace those things? Even partially."

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"The first two, yes, if we could get enough people on our side. The third would take longer." She rubs her temple. "I sense another project. And I wholeheartedly approve. But it'll take a lot of work."

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"What do you mean by institutional power? Do these people, have, what, politicians and stuff who owe them favors?"

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"'Reputation' might've been a better way to describe it. They're an old and well-known institution, so they have a lot of prestige among people who are in the know about supernatural phenomena, and people are more likely to listen to them. I wouldn't be surprised if they had various politicians who owed them favors, too, but that's not really my area, so they wouldn't have told me."

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"What's the internal structure like, anyway? Who is it who wouldn't have told you things? You're a Watcher too."

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"We're all Watchers, but we all have different specialties, and some people have more overlap in the tasks they do than others. I know demonology, so I know exactly which books we have in the library and which experts we have on call, but they don't let me anywhere near PR, so I don't know exactly who we contact when we need to cover up something illegal. There's also a sort of unofficial hierarchy that I'm near the bottom of. I'm not from a legacy family and I had no friends on the Council to vouch for me, so I had to fight for my spot, and since joining I've started a lot of fights about unethical policies. So if there are secrets that some Watchers know and others don't, I'm probably one of the ones that doesn't know."

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"What's the ratio of probably useful to partially sane to get-out-of-my-steering-committee that they've got going on?"

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"About 20-30-50, I'd guess. The twenty includes the people who take my side when I start arguments and the people who agree with me but don't publicly take my side for various reasons, the thirty includes the people who just agree with whoever's in charge and the people who disagree with me but are reasonable enough to be persuaded."

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