DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 54: Lunch
serious business
full_score wrote in damned
All things considered, last shift had been pretty low key. After this morning's disaster, though, that was perfectly fine by Claude. Some fresh air and a chance to make sure Guy and Okita were all right weren't things to take for granted. It was also good to have a fairly normal, conversation with Guy that didn't slip off into awkward territory. Having Okita there as a sort of buffer probably made things a bit easier in that regard. Claude was confident that things would smooth about between them fairly soon -- if they hadn't already, even.

After checking the bulletin and making some notes of his own, Claude walked alongside his nurse into the cafeteria. As far as he could tell, the soldiers hasn't cleared out any since their arrival this morning. Not only that, but Landel didn't sound too happy about what happened. Was he going to get into trouble for the food fight?

Not that he had any sympathy for the Head Doctor, of course. That bastard deserved every bad thing that ever happened to him, and then some. On the other hand, it did make Claude wonder what would become of the captives if someone even harsher stepped in to take his place...

Was that even possible? Then again, Claude had to consider that no one even used tear gas the last time a riot happened. Had this morning's response been someone else's idea?

As hard as it was to sit and wait for things to pan out, Claude knew that ultimately time would tell what was going to happen. Thankfully, he had a lunch appointment to keep him occupied. After collecting his tray of food, Claude took a seat at one of the tables. It looked like he was one of the first people here, which gave him an opportunity to notice just how much better the room looked than after breakfast. He couldn't imagine how many people had been asked to clean things up. Really, it was a wonder they hadn't just made the patients do it themselves as punishment.

Well, regardless of all that, he needed to wait for that Mordio person to show up now, right? Claude kept an eye on the cafeteria entrance, although he suddenly remembered that the patient had never given a description of themselves. Hopefully Claude's own description would be distinct enough for Mordio to find him.

[For Rita!]

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Despite the chaos of the food fight and consequent gassing during the first shift, the cafeteria was as clean as ever by the time lunch rolled around. Edgar found himself pleasantly surprised as he entered the room- as one of the first there, it was still in pristine condition. The new guards stood watching from seemingly every corner, creating the same tense atmosphere that had been present before.

Speaking of tension, Landel's tone had been interesting, and was one Edgar had used himself a few times. He was either a good actor or was being supervised as well. So was this 'Eagle' someone with a higher ranking? While it made Landel no less of a threat- in fact, it may have made him even more dangerous than initially believed- it certainly changed the playing field. Edgar decided it'd be best to keep as much of an eye on the situation as he possibly could. The day had the potential to get far, far worse.

Even with that thought, Edgar was optimistic after his chat with Carter. The soldier seemed like he'd be more of a help than he believed- he simply needed to find someone to help him along. Though Edgar had lost several acquaintances, he was making up for the losses. Now if only he could find someone who knew more about the rest of the institute, he'd be in good shape.

Edgar took a seat with his tray, choosing one that would allow him to watch the door for Locke. He resolved he'd leave a note for the treasure hunter on the board for the next shift, should he not appear. He sighed- why did he get a bad feeling about this?

[L & Tear]

L was one of the first people through the lunch line, his stomach rumbling at the scent of the food. Fish was out of the question, but fruit salad wouldn't be enough to tide him over until dinner; he would, at least, eat some chips, as well as whatever protein substitute they were feeding the vegetarians. The cafeteria was spotless; there was no visible surface evidence that it had been the site of mass revolt only a few hours earlier.

After he left the line, he headed in the direction of an empty table, but the nurse steered him towards a seat across from one that was already occupied. "Daniel, why don't you sit with Edward today?" Her effort seemed absurd: so few people had taken seats that there wasn't yet any appreciable need to force companionship on the disinterested. Apart from that, if he sat alone, he had a good chance of catching Howell or Javert when they came through.

Then he glanced at "Edward," and saw that he was Edgar Figaro.

They hadn't had much opportunity to discuss Edgar's weapon plans in depth in the library a few days earlier, but L's experiences in the interim made them a topic of keen interest. Any weapon a patient might be able to make wouldn't stand up to the scale of something like what Lunge, Marc and I faced last night, he thought, but it could help to even the score to some small extent. The confrontation--and his narrow escape--served to underline his sense that Edgar might be a useful person to know.

He allowed his expression to brighten enough that both Edgar and the nurse would be able to perceive it, and replied, "Yes. We wanted to discuss literature." After he perched in the chair across from Edgar and greeted him with a nod, the nurse left them, apparently satisfied that she'd done her duty in assisting their joint recovery through social contact.

L's gaze moved across his field of vision. With this many soldiers around, it might be smarter to discuss literature after all. He had been subjected to greater and lesser degrees of indignity and violation since his abduction, but the presence of armed troops added a new wrinkle; it had been many years since he'd felt observed to such a complete and minute degree. Discomfiting, when he was used to being on the other end of the equation, but at least their attention would be diffused to other patients as the cafeteria filled up.

Until then, it would be better to eat than to talk much.

Using only the tips of his index finger and thumb, he picked up his fork by the end of its handle, and poked its tines at the chips on his tray. He speared one with a quick, sharp motion, then brought it to his mouth, biting into it in spite of its utter lack of appeal.

He focused his stare on Edgar, then. His eyebrows were hidden by his dark hair; raising them gave him an expectant look.

"Have an interesting morning?" he asked, dryly.

Edited at 2011-01-24 08:53 pm (UTC)

Displeasure creased along her brow as Tear entered the cafeteria, the object of her ire centering on this morning's events. It was ridiculous, really, how one's whim can destroy the constructive elements of a single day. Furthermore, it was beyond ludicrous how anyone would believe inciting a food fight would provide enough cover for anything relatively productive. Especially in the presence of soldiers and children. For a variety of reasons, nothing in breakfast had been a good thing.

If she could only locate the individual responsible... It would not change a single thing in the past, but at least she could ensure a proper reprimand. Tear could not say if her note had been seen by the one she had wanted to address; with the most problematic confined elsewhere for a shift, it was hard to tell if she was simply speaking to the wind. At least most of the responses remained neutral or in opposition to breakfast. Last thing she needed to read was an argument on moral obligation.

Thankfully, her efforts were not wasted. She had found Guy through her note and communicated with him about the strange circumstances of her awakening. With this, all that remained for a check-up were Luke and Natalia. Neither of them had responded to Anise, and some part of that worried her. Not enough to investigate their whereabouts (it was far too premature for that sort of thought), but it was enough for something to churn uncomfortably in her stomach.

This, however, would be set aside; there was, after all, business to cover. She quickly hailed a nearby nurse, who glanced down at the presented piece of paper. "Daniel Laurier", Tear was told, was currently seated with one "Edward". She could find them over there--some distance away from the entrance. As expected, the teenager turned and saw two men with polar opposite features. Without further ado, she stepped toward them with the intention to interrupt.

Politely, of course. "Excuse me," Tear called out as soon as she was within hearing range of the pair. "I'm looking for a Daniel Laurier."

Hearing a nurse mention his assigned name, Edgar looked up, only to find Ryuuzaki joining him at the table. Even with the morning's events and the eyes of the Eagle's guards on them, the regular staff had no trouble with their usual duty of forcing conversation on lone patients. No matter- that made one more acquaintance he'd seen more than once, which seemed to be a rarity at times.

"To say the very least, Daniel," Edgar answered with a smirk after swallowing his bite. "I was able to take cover in the Sun Room, but it seems from the watery-eyed looks of the lineup outside that most patients weren't so fortunate. I'm starting to believe these guards--"

Edgar cut his note short as they were approached by a young woman. He smoothed his hair back reflexively- of all the days for a nurse to bring him a lunch partner, of course it would be the day a beautiful woman visited his table. How unfortunate that she was looking for Ryuuzaki.

"Ah, if only I were Daniel Laurier instead of Edward March," Edgar said as he leaned on his hand, eyeing the newcomer. "You will have to tell me how it is you garnered the attention of such a ravishing lady."

L would have to ask Edgar what he thought about the soldiers later.

The girl who approached them was young--attractive, too. It was difficult to gauge her exact age, but his best guess would be mid-to-late teens; the fresh texture of her skin, the scarcity of lines around her eyes and on her neck, and the development of her figure all suggested it.

He could think of at least two reasons why someone might seek him out. This could be Tear, from the bulletin board, or it could be someone else who had seen his instructions to look for him, and had reasons of their own for wanting to find him. It didn't seem like the girl had been sent by an acquaintance, because the acquaintance would have described him and pointed him out; she had needed to ask a nurse who he was.

He rolled his eyes at Edgar's attempt to flirt with her, then swallowed his latest bite of potato and stared at the girl with obvious curiosity. "I'm Daniel," he responded, in a tone more polite than his gaze. "Please sit down. There's a reason why you're looking for me?"

There was a beat of conspicuous silence as Tear digested the responses from the first man. It stretched as she considered the connotations of the words "ravishing" and "lady", and for a brief moment, her cheeks turned a bright red. Despite what it seemed, the reason had little to do with the actual compliment and more the timing: she had approached with the expectation of business. The first greeting received was not exactly business. In fact, it only reminded the girl of a certain emperor who often went into bizarre tangents of a similar nature.

She practically gawked at Edward for a minute, as if to ask, "Are you sure that was necessary?"

Fortunately, the flustered appearance and uncertain mindset vanished when Daniel spoke. Her gaze rested on the young man in a manner that could only be described as military and/or formal. "Thank you," she said as she took the seat offered, "and yes. My name is Tear Grants. I believe you requested a meeting with me." Why was up for questioning; the man mentioned curiosity as his reason. She assumed, however, that it would be answered in the next couple of exchanges.

Edited at 2011-01-27 12:55 am (UTC)

Edgar smiled in spite of the look Tear returned him. It wasn't uncommon for his advances to strike out, though her blushing was an entertaining touch. Her tone was familiar as she addressed Ryuuzaki: it was stiffly formal, reminding him of Celes in a way. Given the number of people he'd met with some form of military or combat training, there were bound to be others. From the way she carried herself and spoke, he was willing to bet she was one of them.

But what would Ryuuzaki want with someone like that? Now that was a curious question. Edgar admitted he knew very little about the man and wasn't sure he trusted him. Even though they shared a common enemy in Landel, not everyone had the best interests of the rest of the prisoners at heart; however, Ryuuzaki had shown some concern the weapons could fall into the wrong hands. That was a positive note on his side, even if his intentions were unclear.

Taking his utensils, Edgar began to cut himself another bite, feigning temporary disinterest in their business affairs. If luck was on his side, perhaps he'd learn a little more about both of them.

She's businesslike, in spite of her age... professional. The tone of her messages on the board had also suggested it. What kind of life has she had, to have a military rank? A child soldier...?

L wasn't categorically opposed to the idea of children doing work for which they were, by most reckonings, too young--not as long as they had the aptitude, the interest, and the maturity. It was how he had achieved his own position. Real battle was another matter; the exploitation that was usually involved didn't sit well with him. On the other hand, a look around the room would show anyone that Landel had thrust a number of Tear's near contemporaries into dangerous situations for which they might not be prepared. Disapproving of the concept of child combatants was pointless when you were eating lunch among them. If he could achieve his goals, their freedom would be one of the results.

He speared a chunk of pineapple with the tines of his fork before speaking. "Yes. To be honest, your message earlier was interesting. You disapproved of the riot, and I agree--the best thing I can say about it is that it was ineffectual. You say you have medical knowledge, but you're also an intelligence officer. That should catch the attention of anyone who isn't happy with the current circumstances. Tell me... what do you make of this place?"

To punctuate the question, he ate the chunk of pineapple off of the fork, his gaze never leaving Tear's face.

While Daniel's acquaintance busied himself with his meal, Daniel appeared intent on Tear--or more specifically, the facts left in her note. A lesser mind might have been impressed with the observations, but the soldier remained unmoved. They were obvious, after all. Anyone who paid attention would say the same. The things that truly surprised her, however, were his final statement and subsequent question.

Is he gauging my aptitude? It seemed to be the case. As for the reasons, she had somewhat of a guess. Nothing that could be proven, however.

She watched the dark-haired man for a minute, her mind knitting together the most appropriate response. What came was an honest assessment. There would be no danger in relaying this to a stranger. "...I find Landel's to be very unorthodox," stated Tear calmly. "I am not from Earth, but even we have need for hospitals. And this place--" Here, she hesitated. Fault of nostalgia, for certain. "--reminds me more of a research facility."

Continuing to show only passing interest in the conversation, Edgar listened to Ryuuzaki's question and Tear's response, recalling the aforementioned note from the board. Her answer followed along conclusions he'd reached as well: while potion shops and apothecaries were more common than clinics and hospitals in his world, they weren't entirely foreign to him. Landel's certainly did resemble an asylum during the day.

Her secondary observation caught his attention. Though Landel's was outwardly a far cry from the Empire's Magitek Research Facility, the experiments at night did create some similarities between the two. The Empire was using their prisoners for the development of Magitek weapons; however, Landel's intentions toward his captives, beyond the element of brainwashing, were unclear. The fact that so little was known- at least by the general populace, as far as Edgar could tell- made the Head Doctor even more dangerous.

Edgar remained quiet for now- it'd be rude to interrupt the conversation in its infancy, after all.

"Yes, that's very astute." It was obvious that the Institute's purported 'therapeutic mission' was only a veneer, and that experimentation was its ultimate purpose. Still, there were some people who would never notice it, whether out of innate stupidity or because something about their past had left them unequipped to do so.

He frowned at an element of her statement, remembering something she had written about "a fonon-based ability." Phonons? He wasn't aware of any technology that manipulated sound on a quantum level for the specific purpose of healing, nor could he tell whether or not the change in spelling meant anything. He could accept that some of the people at Landel's thought they were from distant, impossible places, but he couldn't absolutely prove or disprove it; all he could do was judge on the basis of the evidence in front of him. A strength or weakness might still be useful, regardless of whether or not the person possessing it was delusional about their point of origin. Nothing about Tear spoke of self-deception or unreliability. All he could do was continue to watch her, listen to her, form his own impressions of her personality. His impressions were usually accurate.

"If you're not from Earth, where are you from?" he asked, speaking around a bite of strawberry. "You said something about fonons earlier. I'm unfamiliar with the term--maybe Edgar is aware of it?"

Edited at 2011-01-31 08:51 am (UTC)

Edgar? Her gaze briefly slid over the other gentleman's features before she turned back to Daniel, the pieces lined for processing. Edgar, or "Edward", was likely not from this world, especially if he was familiar with the concept of fonons. The possibility of a fellow dweller of Auldrant interested the young woman, and if the subject wasn't so serious, she might have probed for more details.

For now, she had to answer the presented question. "I am from the planet of Auldrant," Tear said. She shifted gears, pulling an age-old explanation, similar to one she had used on Luke some time ago and another most recently. "And that is correct. All matter in my world is made up of fonons, or basic particles of sound. There is more to it, of course--"

But.

"--but I would like to know why you are interested." Until that can be clarified, she couldn't afford to start rattling off basic principles.

Though sorely tempted to return Tear's look with a wink, Edgar behaved himself for now, especially since Ryuuzaki turned a question toward him.

Now his curiosity was piqued: she'd mentioned Auldrant. What were the chances she knew Natalia? Auldrant wasn't likely to be small; however, seeing how he'd managed to meet two people from his own world already, he was still willing to take that bet. Even more interesting would be if she also had magical abilities- after all, magic may have been common in their world. He smiled to himself, thinking that she didn't need to share any more characteristics with Celes. Her stoic demeanor was quite enough.

"I'm not familiar with fonons," Edgar admitted with an upturned palm, shaking his head, "though I have heard of Auldrant since I arrived here. My arm would still be in a sling if not for the abilities of a woman named Natalia, who claimed she was from there. She was quite talented. Lovely, too."

Edgar's comment was helpful. It could best be seen as inconclusive evidence that Natalia possessed the abilities that Tear claimed to have, but even shaky proof that those abilities existed was a point in Tear's favor. Absolute certainty was a luxury in this situation, when L's need for allies was so great. Still, it wouldn't be prudent to depend on her skills until I've seen a demonstration of them, he thought.

It was the same with Tear's assertion that she came from another planet: questionable, but less likely to be a delusion when another person made the same claim. He had decided soon after his abduction that, as long as people inhabited the roles they were convinced were their own, it wouldn't matter if that conviction was an act of self-deception. They were most likely to do what they felt they should do to continue to perform the role they had adopted; the stability of their identities would depend on it. In L's opinion, Landel's attempts to supplant those identities with others would cause people to cling more stubbornly to the persona that felt most natural to them.

When it came to Tear's question, and how much to tell her, L felt the usual temptation to demur. He would have to set it aside, at least to some extent. He had elected not to give much away to Edgar at their first meeting, but in this case, it would be counterproductive to tell Tear that he was a university student.

He didn't want to be a visible leader, here, not when most others who had adopted a similar role had taken on a habit of vanishing, and especially not under the eyes of armed troops with an unknown agenda. He hadn't heard anything about the whereabouts of Homura or Lamperouge, and he had no plans to look into their disappearances, either: investigating the subject would be a waste of time, leading only to finer detail in what was, at best, a cautionary tale. Thinking of it that way might be according it too much meaning; people disappear from this place every day. Even if it was possible to be sure of where they had gone, it wasn't likely to be freedom, nor would the knowledge free any of Landel's current prisoners. It was like many of the other possible lines of inquiry: a distraction from those that are most germane to our liberation.

He realized that he was biting his lower lip, so he released it, then sighed. Neither of the people he was talking to would be satisfied with the vague explanation he would prefer to give. Furthermore, Tear seemed likely to respond to, or at least respect, some kind of authority.

"There are a number of things around the Institute that interest me. Greater knowledge of them could prove to be useful in the long term, but it's dangerous enough to move around at night that I haven't been able to learn as much as I would like; for that reason, among others, I don't think there's any profit in working alone here. My interest is in meeting other people who are curious, or who might be willing to help others satisfy their curiosity--for example, someone who could help if I ran into an--obstacle."

Since Sunday night, there had been too many obstacles, and almost no progress to speak of.

Edited at 2011-02-07 04:12 am (UTC)

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