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jin-dui.swartzer.com • View topic - Who believes in Reavers?

Who believes in Reavers?

Start-up issues and world-building for this OC/Firefly 'Verse creative sandbox project

Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Ron » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:41 pm

Whitney and I were talking story ideas earlier today and a question came up: How many people believe in Reavers? Or, more specifically, which of our characters believe in Reavers?

Keep in mind that our current stories are set several years before the TV series; Reavers have only existed for about a decade, and most of that was the time of war. During the war, most raids on colonies would have come from one side or the other. It would be easy to dismiss any actual Reaver raids as war atrocities; blaming an attack on bogeymen from the edge of space would probably get you laughed at, considering the much more likely explanation available. Some might even think you were trying to cover up something your own side did.

After the war there would have been a lot of outlaws and holdouts running around the rim, but still, attacks on colonies would be fewer. Attacks that completely wiped out colonies would be more noticeable, especially those leaving gruesome remains. Yet if the Alliance is trying to paint Independent military holdouts as terrorists, stories like these would fit very neatly into that narrative... and people who didn't believe the narrative might easily assume the attacks were faked for propaganda.

So, my personal take is that most people in the Core, if they've even heard of the attacks at all, don't believe they were done by rabid monsters. People on the Border, likely the same, though there would be more people who had been directly affected by Reaver attacks, so it would be a more debatable issue.

As for the Rim, the Kalidasa cluster (Beylix, Beaumonde, etc) is the furthest away from Miranda that it's possible to get; it's doubtful they've had any Reaver raids yet. It's the Blue Sun cluster where you'd find the most belief; most of the attacks would have happened there.

So, what's your take? Should Reavers be more widely believed-in at this point? What does your character think?

Just to get that started, Chang has seen military intel reports on Reaver attack sites, complete with pictures, and would know they don't correlate with known military activity. His data would also include a few unconfirmed, very-low-confidence statements from people who had seen Reaver ships. After the war he lost his really juicy sources, but during his travel on various ships he might still have heard stories that matched up with those reports. So he believes somebody is out there perpetrating these attacks, but that they're just "people who looked at the edge of the 'verse too long and went bibbledy over it" (or however that quote went) instead of actual rabid monsters. Seeing Reaver bodies for the first time, and noticing that animals don't eat them, will Seriously. Weird. Him. Out.
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Whitney » Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:23 am

At our point in the storyline -- the third Unification Day celebration will have just happened, something like the day before they arrive on Greenleaf to pick up Tilly. So it's only been 3 years since the war's end, and what -- nine years since Reavers were created on Miranda?

(Oh man... just beginning to do a "logic check" on the Reavers of the Serenity film begs madness... Don't get me started, because I'll be listing logic questions all morning. But quite simply... if the Reavers were madmen all concentrated on one banned planets, and the Alliance could toast the ship out of Shadow... then how come the Reaver threat continues to exist, when the Alliance knows they are there? Why didn't the Alliance protect it's collective ass with a "full wipe" and destroy all evidence of their major fubar? Ah well, it's makes for a great cinematic film. But in terms of continuity and sensible long-term storytelling... um... nada neg nyet!)

My assumption with Cooper is that she never believed in Reavers during the War. She was witnessing enough horror of what mankind does to mankind, so any rumors of bogeymen of out of the deep Black would strike her as civvies trying to cope with evidence of war crimes. The POW camp she served on on Deadwood never saw Reaver activity, but there were likely some individuals who claim to have witnessed the handiwork left by Reavers. And this was a POW camp. Full of already traumatized people. Again, Cooper didn't believe any stories she heard. (I figure the Reaver type of rumors she heard were as much as "cannibal bogeymen did this!" versus the more popular belief of "It's all the damn purplebellies, they're massacreing civs and they're going to pin it all on us and make US into the bad guys")

It was only during Cooper's six months in the mining camp of Deadwood where she began to give the rumors some weight. Because Van Hooven certainly believed in them, as did some of his biggest badass minions. When some of Van Hooven's hardass killers like Ito and Earl pull a Jayne and say "Oh hell no, I ain't going anywhere around those bastards, they are scary!", I can't help but think that would make Cooper reassess her comfortable notions... So today, she's a cautious skeptic. She hasn't seen evidence of them with her own eyes, and she's more inclined it's some organized criminal effort putting up a brutal cover. I think Cooper will need to see evidence of Reavers with her own eyes to believe in the cannibal bogeyman, but she's certainly stepped over the line enough to believe that there is SOME sort of clear and present danger, and to therefore prepare accordingly.

(Cooper has also been thinking that the previous captain and crew might have been so-called-Reavers. They certainly weren't hauling much honest cargo...)
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Whitney » Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:40 am

(I just got a quick note from LuckyJack saying "The baby is a boy and I'm REALLY slammed in RL, won't be up to participating for a bit -- keep up the good work with Hoss and I'll jump in where I can" -- so for the sake of conversation, I'll share my presumption of what Hoss's opinion MIGHT be, based on the character's backstory, and John can illustrate a bit more when he can! Congrats to John & Mrs. Luckyjack on the new little Jayne!)

I think Hoss's opinion of Reavers would be similar to Cooper's: on the fence. Hoss would have heard all of the same Reaver rumors that Cooper did, during the War. I'm sure the standard Browncoat opinion of the developing Reaver phenomena was that it was all an Alliance PR plot being played out long-form, and that the Alliance would be using staged massacres against civilian populations to turn public opinion against the Independents in the regions where the Independents were most popular -- the Frontier, right?

After the war, Hoss was hired almost at once by a luxury cruise passenger ship, which stuck to profitable and safe transit zones. Any whispers of Reaver activity would have been kept entirely belowdecks -- the staff's primary job is to keep passengers compliant and happy, after all. So Hoss may have heard a few news stories here or there, but certainly did not see any Reaver activity firsthand.

I think Hoss's belief in whether or not Reavers exist would depend on two things: what does his family believe (i.e. -- does Grandmama Dowager think they're a possible threat to the Raikirua Island settlement?), and what sort of stories does he meet from other members of the <i>Jin Dui</i> crew? If someone he knows and trusts has a compelling first-hand story to share, that would weigh heavily with him. As for his clan's beliefs... that all depends on whether or not the Red Cluster has been subjected to Reaver attacks... Do we think that the Reavers are hitting the Georgia & Red Clusters (or elements of the Core, which would be equally within their reach?)
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Brouwer » Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:11 pm

I'd say Tilly knows very little about even the rumour of Reavers at this juncture. To her, the greatest evil is murder; and then maybe slavery. And she probably has never heard more than scattered bits of gossip passing between Deadwood refugees with various intelligence levels and personal experiences. If there was anybody around town with a real traumatic tale o'truth, she was likely kept away from them.
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Whitney » Sun Nov 16, 2014 6:27 pm

Just some additional observations here regarding Reavers...

According to different statements from both Mal and Zoe in the film "Serenity", the the Pax incident on Miranda happens in early 2506, the same year as the start of the Unification War. (The entire population of Miranda -- 30 million people -- are affected)

The War runs from 2506 to May of 2511.

Current date if mid-year 2514 for the Jin Dui; Unification Day will happen shortly after the events of the fic Lucky Day, but before the Jin Dui reaches Greenleaf.

It makes sense to assume that Reaver attacks don't begin immediately, and that they gradually ramp up through 2507 through 2510. Although we see a fairly sizable Reaver fleet in Serenity, you have to question how many Reaver attacks would be taking place each month -- because otherwise, shipping lanes within the Blue Cluster (especially those closest to Miranda) would be unpassable, and once you start affecting the profits of mega-corporations like Blue Sun, you **KNOW** the Alliance is gonna start sending in some of those mega-sized cruisers of theirs.

I am assuming that the Reavers spent a lot of the first few years scavenging off their own planet -- I mean, what if the Pax didn't affect the entire planet? (How COULD it affect the whole planet?) What if only the planet's largest population zone -- the one with a spaceport -- were affected? There could have been millions and millions of folks trapped on the world to be preyed upon... (There might even be some pockets of survivors left there!) Also close by is the population trapped on Miranda's moon, Caliban, at the terraforming station there, and any skyplexes... Plus... there would have been incoming ships for didn't have a clue what they were kiting in on, just that traffic control was strangely silent...

I'm note sure which worlds within the Blue Sun Cluster have any major corporate financial presence (which... strange, isn't it? Since Blue Sun is one of the financial/political pillars of the Verse?) But there are at least four worlds being terraformed, and there's got to be some major Alliance political department or corporate Haliburton type organization which runs terraforming operations, right? Terraforming efforts are massively expensive -- I just can't imagine that the Alliance knows Reavers exist but don't take some measures to that sort of massive & costly investment... right?

Granted... if you really want to put on your logic-hat...

#1 Why didn't the Alliance test their drug Pax in a lab or on a limited population first, before gassing AN ENTIRE FREAKING PLANET? and

#2) If the Alliance is brutal enough a regime that it has Operatives who hunt down and kill civs like we witnessed in the film in order to contain secrets... why the HELL didn't the Alliance just nuke Miranda from orbit once they knew what they had done, in order to hide the evidence of their own actions? A C-sized rock from orbit would do the trick and look like a biblically bad meteor strike... or do the war effort some good and say Browncoat terrorists willfully blew up the terraforming bases (which conveniently are still powering the grav which keeps the artificially developed atmospheres around these worlds... bye bye atmosphere, bye bye life on the planet, let's just give it a year's rest and then power up the stations and start the terraforming process over again, why not? We know the Alliance is capable of planet-killing strikes, because they wiped out Shadow somehow...


I know Cooper's first two real questions after Reavers are confirmed to her are:

#1 How does that population reproduce itself -- they're too violent to raise babies, and
#2 They regularly fly in ships without containment on their reactors? ::starts doing the math on how long the human body can survive chronic & constant high doses of radiation...::
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby lothien » Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:43 pm

Sully never believed in them as a "real thing" before he went to Blue Cluster, and prefers to change the subject if they come up, and/or remains oddly quiet on the matter.
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Ron » Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:36 pm

A couple of quick thoughts...

The Alliance probably did test their drug in labs and small populations before spreading it planetwide on Miranda. They're all about rationality and control, and the majority of people involved in the project would have been ordinary, well-intentioned Core folk who believed they were doing this for everybody's good. There's no way Miranda was the first test; just the first planetary-scale test. There must have been some extra factor that caused the Miranda test to go so horribly wrong; perhaps something in their atmosphere, or in their terraforming equipment, or weather patterns, or whatever. (I suppose it's also possible that there was some unnoticed common factor in the earlier test groups that preserved them from the worst effects, giving the experimenters false expectations about what would happen with a wide release.)

I wonder how much the Alliance really knows about the situation on Miranda. It could very well have taken some time between the start of the drug release and when it reached critical concentration in people's brains. If the delay was long enough, they might not even be sure their drug was at fault. If they do know their drug caused the problem, they still might just think it killed everybody, and not know about the fractional percentage who survived as Reavers. Considering the war was just starting, they might not have done more than send that one expedition to find out what happened-- and when the expedition didn't come back, maybe they assumed it was because of enemy action and decided to wait a while before trying again?

I don't know. I'm trying to justify this in my head, but it's not really working. It just doesn't seem right that the Alliance would not investigate any further. If nothing else, the project scientists would want data. How many people would have been part of the project? What can they all have been told in order to keep them from suspecting something had seriously gone wrong?

Or... here's another alternative. Say the original Pax research was done at a university, or a corporate pharmaceutical R&D division, or something like that, but never got past small-scale testing for whatever reason (no way to make it profitable?) Then somebody high up in government came upon that research somehow and ordered a secret planet-wide test. That way, we don't have to worry about all the ordinary people involved in the earlier research because they would have no idea it ever went any further. The people ordering the Miranda test would have had an easier time covering it up, especially if it was all done within one agency-- and they could not have just ordered the place nuked from orbit without involving the government as a whole.

That's the only way I can think of that this is even possible. It still has lots of holes, but also provides a plausible reason that the cruiser captain in "Bushwhacked" (for example) wouldn't know about Reavers.
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Whitney » Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:46 am

We also have the premise that River was in a room with the top governmental elites, and they knew about Reavers and Miranda, right? And I find it very hard to believe that intelligence divisions within the Alliance can't look at the stream of reports of mysterious ship attacks and settlement attacks, and not begin to at least SUSPECT something, since the attacks all fan out from the farther edge of the Blue Cluster (where there is only Miranda and Caliban...)

But... we're trying to make sense of a Big Cinematic Event, and I think we have to keep waving those jazz hands to do it. It doesn't make sense when you try to details the pieces together... I would like to think that Joss & his writer team would have made MORE sense out of it if the series had had a full run! But... I am also betting that currently, we right now with the Jin Dui project might have more world-building information in our group library list here than Joss & his writing team did when they got started. Isn't that a scary, scary thought?
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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Brouwer » Sun Nov 23, 2014 2:01 pm

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Re: Who believes in Reavers?

Postby Bill » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:02 am

Reavers? Why do you want to know about Reavers?

Let me tell you something. I've been flying all sorts of ships, all over the place, from the Core to the Rim. And there is one constant you need to understand. Rumors fly fastest in the Black. Dong ma?

Near as I can figure, that's all they are, these 'Reavers'. Rumors. Boogeymen. 'Be good and go to bed or the Reavers will get ya.'

Now, that being said, there's something you need to understand about rumors. They're all different. Ask ten folk on Greenleaf what they hear and you'll get ten different answers... unless you ask about Reavers. Then you get only two. One; they don't exist... or, two; some rendition of a story that is all too terrifyingly consistent with all other renditions. Rumors don't fly like that. Rumors change like bad hair styles, whip-saw fast.

So... do I believe in Reavers? Maybe not. But I'm certainly not going to take any chances. And neither should you.

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