DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 54: Recreational Field
Ew.
mustbethesuit wrote in damned
And thus concluded a perfect start to a perfect day. Making him explode from every facial orifice was a totally justified response to Peter not doing anything at all.

The nurses' hearts had defrosted just enough to permit them a change of clothes and a desperately needed wipe down. Nurse Joyce - Rachel had been apologizing the whole way back to his room through gritted teeth and steely side glares at the soldier stalking behind them. "So sorry, Tyler. Gassing children. I would have never thought it would come to that - but you were good, weren't you? You stayed under the table with your friend the whole time?"

"Flaht lodda gud id did meh," Peter had slurred through a mouthful of spit. He winced and squeezed another quadrillion tears from his eyes as he felt a string of snot drip onto his chin. His whole being ached with embarrassment.

Okay, yes, gassing was a common method for riot control. He knew this. Everyone knew this. But that so did not justify using it on a truckload of mental patients, half of whom couldn't legally drive and seventy five percent of which were currently incapacitated. Making people stumble around and fall on their broken limbs did not equal safe medical practice, no matter how hard they were rioting.

Not to mention getting gassed had totally cut off his conversation with this Gambit fellow. Whom he now had to spend some time sleuthing for, because Peter so did not trust random strangers with the deets on his secret identity. Even if they were friends with Logan. Especially if they were friends with Logan. Plus he had no idea whether or not Gambit existed in his sad, sorry version of the universe, and thus no way to check if he was a good superhero or a bad superhero. AKA super villain.

He sniffled, hand firmly perched under his nose to catch any leaks (or god forbid, more drooling) as he was marched against his will outside. Apparently this was under military orders.

They were going to shoot them, weren't they?

It seemed the purpose was a touch more innocuous than that, even if they were immediately assembled into an execution line. A soldier stepped up with a clipboard, Huge Douche written all over his face, and began calling out names. Peter lost interest and gazed miserably at the men standing guard behind him. They didn't seem to be in attack mode. That was a plus.

"Karmichael, Tyler!"

He wondered if they would stop pushing them outside soon. It was getting colder all the time, he thought with a shiver, rubbing his sling arm gently for warmth.

"Karmichael, Tyler!"

It sure was dismal out today.

"Karmichael, Tyler!!"

Oh right. "Here!!" Peter shouted, embarrassment flushing his face. Then his nose wrinkled with distaste. "Wait, my last name is Karmichael? What? That's a terrible-"

Huge Douche gave him an evil eye. "Answer when you're called for!"

"...Yes sir."

Yeesh.

That over with, Peter hastily consulted with his nurse and convinced her to let him back in the Sun Room. He just wanted to sit on a couch and grumpface at the world today.

[To here.]

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When the guards finally left Carter and Goku alone Carter thought he'd really pulled it off. Wouldn't Colonel Hogan be proud of him, manipulating the guards like that? It was a real noble thing and really clever too. See, he wasn't useless at that politicking stuff. "You're lucky I was here," he told Goku, though he wasn't sure how much the kid could hear him.

...why were they closing the doors?

Someone next to him started coughing. Carter turned his head, confused, and saw white fog-like clouds of gas pouring into the cafeteria. His eyes begin to burn and panic nearly made him throw up, because for once in his existence he actually knew what was going on but really wished he didn't.

He'd been through basic training. He'd studied the nastier part of their last war and he'd known old folks who'd lived through it and he'd turned plenty of factories into shrapnel and fire for just thinking of making it. He knew what this stuff was and it made him stick to his stomach.

Chlorine gas. Mustard gas. That new sarin stuff, or something even nastier that hadn't been invented yet. He didn't deal in chemical weapons but he knew how they got into your lungs and tore you apart from the inside. Carter hunched over Goku, panic making his breathing start to quicken. This wasn't how he wanted to die. He wanted to die at home when he was old. Or get shot by a Nazi, that would be so much quicker than a gas attack.

While the other prisoners flailed to get out Carter stayed huddled next to the little boy on the floor, the copious tears in his eyes coming from more than just the gas. Not like this. He didn't notice when the doors opened and delicious fresh air was let back into the room or when the nurses started moving amoung them again.

"Get up, Mr. Fuhrmann."

Carter offered a sob. It was the nurse from earlier, the one who'd tried to get Goku sedated instead of bludgeoned. Nice of her to come visit the dying. Carter kept his face covered with his hands and focused on the little bit of breathing he had left to do.

"Stop playing it up," the nurse said scornfully. "You're not going to die from a bit of tear gas."

"Uh?" he croaked, eyes wide in astonishment.

The nurse sighed. "No. You're not--" And she stumbled backward as Carter launched at her feet and enveloped her knees in a grateful, snotty hug. He wasn't going to die.

They let him go to the bathroom and put on a new shirt that wasn't covered in fluids and food. His splinted arm was aching again but Carter didn't care. Whatever was in his lungs would pass away as easily as his broken hand and he'd be good as new in no time. He wasn't going to go blind and have his lungs stripped from the inside. Nothing today could distract him from that.

The lineup in the yard was a familiar, almost comforting ritual. If he squinted he could imagine Schultz going down the line with his little list--ein, zwei, drei, vier and all of them gentling heckling him for getting them up this early on a cold morning to tell them what they already knew. Nobody bothered you when you were where you were supposed to be and the worst that would happen was that Klink would give them a little lecture or some self-important speech. After the gas attack, the roll call just felt safe.

"Fuhrmann, Harold!

"Here!" Carter shouted as excitedly as his lungs would allow, making the guard startle. "Here! I'm here!" Here and alive.

[Edgar]

Clues of what had transpired in the cafeteria appeared as soon as the doors opened and patients started being ushered out: Edgar's first guess had been right after all. The gas, while it apparently had been unpleasant in every way imaginable, wasn't fatal... hopefully. He decided he'd rather not put Landel to the test on that theory. He did make a mental note for later that these new guards were not to be pushed too far; they clearly weren't troubled by the thought of trapping patients- ones supposedly there for "rehabilitation," if the usual daytime ploy was still in tact- in a room with noxious fumes.

Edgar soon found out the riot had other consequences: he was released to the recreational field, only to find the orderlies lining everyone for a roll call. While waiting for his turn, he looked down the line of patients, trying to find Locke. No luck yet. Well, if the treasure hunter had been missed sneaking into the cafeteria, there was a chance he got caught in the chaos that followed. Perhaps he just wasn't outside yet.

"March, Edward!"

"Here!" Edgar answered. He was never going to like that name.

The field was strangely empty after the call, save for a few patients running laps as a punishment for irritating the guards. One man caught his eye: it was mostly the fact that his arm was in a cast (Edgar was still grateful to Natalia- he might have still been in a sling himself without her help), but his enthusiastic response to the roll call was another point of interest. He was probably grateful to be able to breathe.

"I don't suppose that happened this morning, too?" Edgar asked as he approached, indicating the wounded limb.

When the roll call finished Carter sank to his knees on the grass and gave a happy sigh. Then he realized the grass was still wet and quickly stood up again before his knees got any more stained. Oops.

"Oh, this?" Carter held up his splinted hand. "No, it's from two nights ago, my shadow smashed my hand. But it's healing real quick, it was in a cast yesterday and now it's almost all better. The guards here are so nice!" He was so used to giving authentic, happy smiles that his attempt to make a fake smile came out just plain creepy.

They were nice. They could have slaughtered them all, or at least the ones who fought back. A lot of evil guards would. The tear gas felt like mercy right now.

Edgar laughed at the comment, as well as at the odd look that accompanied it. "Given what we saw this morning, I'm not sure I'd describe them as 'nice,' not even charitably. The nurses aren't too terrible during the day, but these new orderlies could use a few lessons in manners."

There was an interesting note from the remark: his hand had actually been injured by one of the shadows? Perhaps they hadn't been all talk after all. Then again, some people needed more than words to bring down their spirits. Some needed to literally needed to be taken down a notch. That wasn't to say this fellow deserved it, Edgar thought- knowing his own experiences, it was probably the opposite.

"I'm Edgar. I'd offer to shake your hand, but I'd rather not set you back on your recovery. As someone who only recently recovered from an arm injury, I can understand how it can be a hindrance to any progress you may make... day or night."

"No, no, it's okay. I have two." As proof Carter extended his left hand, still maintaining a precarious level of false cheer. "And I'm sure it'll be better soon. They're real good about fixing me, we never got this kind of treatment in my old prison camp. Back at Stalag 13 they'd just shoot you for starting a riot and hitting guards and we got off with tear gas!"

He let out a nervous giggle that was just a hair short of maniacal laughter. Two nights ago he'd nearly been killed by his own shadow. Two hours ago he'd nearly been gassed to death. Dodging SS men was business as usual at home but he'd never felt so completely helpless before. Colonel Hogan and the guys weren't coming to save him. Nobody was coming to save him. He could protect Claire and Kairi and Goku but there was no one here to protect Andrew Carter.

The giggle started turning into a sob.

Edgar's smile faded through the handshake as the other man struggled to maintain the facade. For a moment, Edgar thought he might have been keeping a good face for the guards, possibly to stay in their favor and avoid whatever else the had in store for the patient population; however, it became apparent that the one who needed convincing was himself.

Everyone had a breaking point- even someone who, from the sound of it, was no stranger to many of the threats presented by Landel on a nightly basis. He couldn't help but wonder when he would reach his. He closed his eyes for a moment- no, he couldn't think like that. There were people depending on his safe return. He wasn't about to let them down.

"I trust it will get better," Edgar said calmly, lowering his voice and placing a hand on the other man's shoulder. "I know it will, starting with the day we stop Landel."

"I-I-I know..." Carter heaved in a few pained breaths. It wouldn't be dignified to break down crying and he'd made enough of a fool of himself that day, but he desperately wanted to. "But I don't think anyone can stop him. I really thought they were gonna kill us when that gas started coming in. I mean, we really misbehaved that time."

Nobody could stop him and nobody was coming to rescue them. There was that guy he'd heard about, the one who did the radio shows, but Carter had no idea how much of it was a real person talking to them and how much was just the radio show. And even then, he was just one man against an army of...of magic and technology and shadow monsters. Who could stop him?

"Maybe not any one person," Edgar agreed, "but we can accomplish so much more if we work together. One can only do so much. It's going to take all of us to bring down this monster."

There was a part of him that wondered if what he said was true: even if they did manage to make every patient cooperate to some degree, would it be enough to make a difference? While the two madmen had similarities, Landel wasn't Kefka. The clown wanted to make himself a god, building an edifice to his name and perching himself at the top of it, smiting all who opposed him. At least the doctor had enough sense to keep himself hidden, but the control he exercised over his prisoners from an unseen location was a testament to how dangerous he was.

Landel's motivations were harder to guess, as well. Unlike Kefka, who would kill an innocent without a second thought, the doctor seemed to focus more time robbing people of their identities than their lives. If there was no way for them to recover, they might as well have been dead. And then there was the matter of if he was responsible for the ruined town beyond the institute's walls...

Ultimately, they were both men, ones who greatly underestimated those they deemed beneath them. Edgar wasn't willing to die until each saw an end to his reign. He couldn't allow himself a moment of doubt. That was what Landel wanted.

"You can't lose hope," he continued, keeping his hand on the man's shoulder and walking a few steps away from the building with him. "To be honest, Landel could have killed us in our sleep if he wanted to. I don't know the reason why he hasn't, but I know this: we have to use what time we have. Not everyone here can protect themselves. There are children here, and people who've never had to deal with such horrors. Somebody has to stand for them. If all of those people can come together... we might have a chance. If we give up, then he's won."

Carter slipped a bit closer to Edger as they walked, his splinted hand curling inward towards his body. "I'm used to helping people, you know," he said quietly. "I used to work for the underground. We'd smuggle escaped prisoners and fugitives out of the country, and make sure people got the tipoff before someone raided their place. But I wasn't alone like this. I just followed Colonel Hogans' orders, or Kinchloe, or whoever was in charge. There's nobody telling me what to do here, a-and I'm no good at working on my own."

So he'd blown someone up and saved Claire, he still hadn't gotten them out of the institute. And Goku would never forgive him for siding with the nurses. And what had he done to Landel, nothing. Nobody could even find the guy, let alone stop him.

Carter rubbed his cold arm and looked at the ground in shame. The shadow was right. If someone was going to stop Dr. Landel it wasn't going to be little Sergeant Carter.

From the sound of it, he was a military man- that made another soldier Landel had taken for his collection. The question of why him- or any of the other patients he'd chosen, assuming he'd targeted them specifically for a reason- still remained. It was likely he was more capable than he realized: Edgar suspected Landel wouldn't have bothered to bring him to the institution otherwise.

"Sounds like a noble cause," Edgar remarked with a small smile. "It appears we have something in common. I'm used to helping people as well, and have even housed a few fugitives in my time. I had my people to help me there, and have been fortunate to find a few allies in this place." He sighed. With the way said allies kept disappearing, he didn't seem to be making much progress. Landel definitely knew how to get under one's skin.

And he was certainly under the soldier's skin. The doubt was written all over his face.

"Perhaps you just need to make allies who are willing to work with you toward a common goal," Edgar said, taking a quick glance around to be sure none of the soldiers were in earshot. "We all have a common goal- or should have one, being prisoners here- but if you're the type who prefers to follow orders, you could help someone else reach one of their goals. There are many working in their own way to find out more about Landel, this building, and why we've been brought here. If we all worked together... perhaps we'd have the answers we need right now. It's unfortunate that so many refuse to cooperate."

It would be nice if there was just one guy they could all answer to, like a general or a colonel. But there were only a few military men here and they weren't even in the same military. And really, civilians just weren't the same.

"What are you doing, then? I'm real good at following orders!" Carter perked up. "You're a military guy too, right? Which one?" Oh, please let it be American. He really wanted an American.

Edgar couldn't help but grin at the man's eager response. While it was ideal that each person be able to stand on his or her own feet, it wasn't realistic: there were those who were leaders, and those who needed to be led, whether by preference or duty. Preferring to take orders made one no less important in the big picture.

"I like your spirit," he replied through his smile. "I'll admit I'm not really a military man myself, but king of a land called Figaro. And as far as I'm concerned, a king is only as strong as the people he leads. Everyone plays an important role in some way- after all, no matter who is pulling the lever, a machine won't work if all the parts aren't in place and well-oiled. Even if you feel you can't do much against Landel as an individual, there is so much more we can accomplish together."

He paused for a moment, thinking. "Though if we are to work together in any way, I'll have to learn your name. I gave you mine, but I don't think I ever got yours."

"A king? Really?" Carter asked in a hushed, awed tone. Wow-wee. Actual royalty right here. Now the day felt better. He stood up straight and saluted with his left hand.

"Sergeant Andrew Carter, sir. Um, your Highness. United States of America." And here he'd been talking to Carter so casually, just like they'd been equals, like one of those kings in books who liked to dress up like a peasant and blend with his people to see how they lived. Those were always the best kind of kings.

He'd never heard of 'Figaro' but it was probably somewhere far away on another planet. That was an even better kind of king, an alien king.

"Please, Edgar is just fine," Edgar insisted with a polite bow. There were places where his rank granted him certain privileges, but Landel's was not one of them- being addressed so formally when he felt so informal would undoubtedly change how some people saw him, either for better or for worse.

As for 'Amerika,' it was a name he'd heard at least once: Gren had mentioned it the night after their ruins exploration, mentioning it might be where the institute was located. Anything Carter knew about the region could be useful.

"How interesting..." Edgar said, putting a hand to his chin, "and perhaps more than a coincidence. Were you here the night there was that problem with the spoken languages? That night, my roommate and I traveled outside the walls of the institute, and he believed we might be located in Amerika due to some peculiar signs and items we found there. I'll have to show them to you sometime- you might be able to shed some light on the matter, as neither my roommate nor I know much about the country."

Carter dropped the salute, but he kept the awkward, nervous smile. A king would definitely outrank him, no matter how humble he acted.

"It definitely looks like America. Everyone speaks English with an American accent and Doyleton has the sort of stores you'd find in America, although I've never heard of the place. But we must be way out in the country because the American government would never let a thing like this happen. We're the good guys." That was the one thing you had to believe, or else the whole war was pointless. Ema had backed him up on it, too, so it wasn't as if the country had gone completely sour in seventy years.

He imitated the thoughtful hand-to-chin posed, his brow furrowed. "What kind of signs and items?"

"Some signs of warning, possibly related to a quarry we found to the north." Edgar indicated toward the northern wall to give a point of reference. "Since I'm not familiar with the country, I don't know what regions would be associated with quarrying or mining. Not that knowing exactly where we are located helps our situation at the moment, but it could be useful if we were to contact someone on the outside who could come to our aid."

Edgar tried to think back to that night in the ruined town, to the discovery of the skeletons and the strange writing on the wall in the chapel-turned-tomb. Either Carter was right and they were isolated in the countryside, or Landel's influence reached far enough that people didn't tread the area surrounding the institute often. Surely someone would have noticed the ruins... though it was likely anyone who did notice and had tried to do something had been either murdered or brainwashed. There was the rebel from the radio, but it was yet to be seen whether or not he could really be trusted.

"In the town to the east," he continued, "were trinkets, bottles, a flag- all in half-destroyed buildings. There also some paper slips resembling currency in one pile of rubble. I have a few of those in my room. Perhaps you could take a look at them sometime to see if you recognize them. As people seem to be brought here from every sort of time and place, it might be important to know when we are as well as where."

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