Korse leans back on the couch he’s had brought in and kicks his feet up to rest on his coffee table. The coffee table twitches, and Korse tsks. Coffee tables don’t twitch, and the coffee table knows better than to move when its not supposed to.
“I should replace this old thing and get a new one,” Korse says idly. He doesn’t mean it, but the coffee table twitches again. “It must be getting worn out.”
To the coffee table’s credit, it doesn’t speak. They’ve managed that part of the training nicely—his coffee table never talks unless its not currently a coffee table. Which will be—Korse glances at the clock and thinks for a moment—in forty-five minutes, if the coffee table manages to keep from making any more errors. Korse has faith in its abilities. They’ve been training for this, and his coffee table has done so well in training so far. This is the true test of its abilities, though.
Idly, Korse picks up the mission reports that he’s brought with him and begins flipping through them. Nothing classified, of course. They’re all completed missions, little things like raids on Wavehead bars and quiet captures of people who are still in BL/ind’s care but have begun to behave erratically. They just need mild encouragement before they’re released again, nothing so harsh as to go through training all over again like his coffee table is currently. That’s an extreme case, and most aren’t even close to that.
The minutes tick by, and Korse can tell that it’s been longer than probably comfortable when the coffee table trembles under his feet. He looks at the clock and notes that it’s been thirty minutes. Fo good behavior, he takes five minutes off the final total. His coffee table can make it five more minutes. It’s well-made, not that Korse would personally be training anything that wasn’t, and its come so far since it first came into Korse’s possession.
One minute goes by, then another. The coffee table trembles again, legs shaking, but it stabilizes itself. Korse is almost proud of it—he’s not truly proud of it, because pride is unseemly and it would be foolish to favor the coffee table over any of the other subjects he’s training. Playing favorites would be a show of emotion that would mean Korse was unfit to do his job, after all, and he’s the best there is. Nobody has ever been as good at training as him, and he has the freedoms to prove it. As the final minutes tick by, Korse cuts an apple into slices. His table did so well that a reward is in order, Korse thinks.
At forty minutes exactly, Korse puts his feet down and pets the coffee table’s red hair. When the training is complete, Korse thinks, they’ll dye it a nice brown to match the rest of the furniture. He holds an apple slice to the coffee table’s lips.
“You did well,” Korse says, “so I’m offering you a reward.”
For a moment, the coffee table hesitates. Then its lips part, and it takes the apple slice into its mouth. Korse snaps, and the coffee table shifts from being a table to the Killjoy formerly known as Party Poison. Korse picks up the plate of apple slices and beckons.
“Come here, Gerard.” From the files, Korse has determined that’s what “Party Poison” was called before it went off BL/ind medication and disappeared into the deserts surrounding Battery City. “There’s more, if you want it.”
Though it hides the wanting well, Korse can see the flash of emotion across Gerard’s face. Gerard crawls toward him, kneeling at his feet, and Korse pets its hair again. Yes. They’ll dye it a nice, dark walnut. Korse holds out another apple slice, this time far enough away that Gerard has to stretch to take it from Korse’s fingers. It’s important not to be too rough on your furniture, after all, so Korse would be a neglectful owner if he didn’t do everything he could to keep this furniture in top condition.
Even the treat he’s currently feeding Gerard is working toward that. He knows they only eat processed junk in the deserts, things that only come in cans stored in warehouses that are forgotten along Battery City’s outskirts. It’s junk, and it can’t be healthy but there were so many warehouses and BL/ind can’t have eyes everywhere, after all. They had other priorities at first, which is why the Killjoys have been festering like a wound for so long. That’s all changing though. Now that they’ve been captured, everything is changing for the better in Korse’s opinion. Gerard is coming along beautifully, and from what Korse hears the others are taking to their training just as nicely.
Oh, they fought it at first. Everyone does, believing that thinking for yourself is better than being BL/ind. Eventually, however, they all see the error of their ways. Eventually, they all submit. Everyone will follow the rules, if Korse has anything to say about it. Better Living Industries is named that way for a reason, after all, and there’s nothing better and more deeply satisfying than doing well and knowing you’ve done exactly what was asked of you. Questions don’t help with that. Questions are only a hinderance to submission.
Gerard takes another slice of apple from Korse’s fingers and another until they’ve all been eaten. Then, Korse directs Gerard through a series of stretches meant to keep it from being sore later. A sore table is an unhappy table, after all, and Korse would hate for his furniture to associate the lessons its learning with the bad kind of pain. That would be poor teaching, and Korse doesn’t tolerate that from anyone—least of all himself.
When that’s done, Korse lets his table sleep. It curls up in the cage that Korse had made for it, quiet and content, and Korse smiles.
It’s proof that anyone can become BL/ind, with a little bit of work. It’s proof that the methods work.