DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 58: Arts & Crafts (Fourth shift)
immortale wrote in damned
Firo was glad to see the end of lunch, if only for the fact that in a few more hours, the day would be over. Night was the only time he had any real freedom of movement, and it was the only time he could do something worth doing, instead of just sitting around.

The usual soldier came to fetch him shortly after the announcement, with only a curt, "Come along, Saviano." Firo frowned, but followed him out of the cafeteria into the Sun Room.

He would have been fine with stopping there, but the soldier apparently had other ideas. When Firo stopped, he went so far as to grab hold of his shoulder and roughly steer him into one of the adjoining rooms, ignoring his protests all the while. The new room was full of round tables with various items like colored paper and paint in the middle, and Firo had a sinking feeling about it. What had the activity mentioned in the announcement been? Arts and crafts?

"What am I supposed to do in here?" he spat at the guard.

"Draw a flower. Make a bracelet. I don't care," was the gruff response before the soldier disappeared out the door.

Firo had half a mind to follow him out, but no—he'd wait a few minutes first, just in case he got shoved back into the pointless room. In the meantime, he took a seat at one of the tables, turning his chair towards the door and leaning his head against one arm propped up on the table.

[For Battler]

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That note on the bulletin board had given him quite a start! Claire had been one of his favorite people here, and that little speech she'd gave him had been a point of strength in his moments of doubt. For someone as clever and strong as her to be dead while foolish people like Carter were still alive was unthinkable. If anyone deserved to survive around here, it was her.

But he understood now. They'd used this ploy a dozen times back in Germany, usually with his bombs to explain the lack of visible corpse, while they secretly smuggled the dead man out of the tunnels and off to England. In fact, his predecessor in the Heroes had used it as an excuse to return home when he became sick beyond the medical treatment one would accord to a prisoner of war. The fact that the note-maker had torn down their discussion to hide it from the guards only confirmed his theory and he felt a bit silly for panicking in the first place. Such a clever thing, and exactly the kind of plan she would think up.

It was completely obvious that Claire had faked her own death and escaped under cover of darkness.

Carter would miss her. She'd been lovely, and that coffee they'd shared in Doyleton had been...thinking about it made his cheeks warm. She'd been a friend who had believed in his competence and those were really rare for him. Not the prettiest woman he'd ever met, but she made him feel like a real hero. Wherever she'd made it to, he hoped she was happy, and this only strengthened his need to get out of the institute and find the wider world of the future. Maybe she'd managed to get a letter back to them (in code, of course) to let them know how she'd be doing.

Lost in memory and hopes Carter wandered into the arts and crafts room. Perhaps he couldn't get a message out to her, that would break the entire secret, but there were other people still trapped here and despairing of life. Carter still wasn't sure of the date but it had to be getting close to December. He wouldn't lie to Harold's uncle, that would be cruel even if it would make him feel better, but he could still cheer him up a little. And everyone had been generally upset lately with Aguilar cracking down. They needed a reminder that there were still good things in life.

Carter sat down and pulled a few sheets of construction paper close to him. He picked up a pair of scissors and snipped them experimentally, giving the paper the same intense stare he'd give a prospective time bomb's wiring.

Yes, today he was going to bring a little happiness to the world. Today he would make Christmas cards.

[Edgar!]

Well, that had been an interesting conversation, to say the very least. Edgar ran a hand through his hair, pushing more sweat-laced strands from his eyes. As much as he wished for allies, or even just more patients who understood that cooperation would be the only way to conquer those running the institute, this was something far riskier. Locke from the future, and Terra from the past- no, Terra before she knew either of them, before she learned of her heritage, her potential. It was the most logical explanation for her memory loss, and was also the most unfortunate.

She was someone with whom he'd have to deal later: after a brief stop by the bulletin board (though the soldier was markedly less pushy over how much time he spent glancing over the nights than the day before), he was escorted to the arts and crafts room. He breathed a sigh of irritation through his nose- as much as he liked constructing tools, it wasn't the same doing it with colorful paper. On the other hand, at least the shift spent in the room would allow him to see some of the supplies located there- he was always looking for potential ammunition for his Launcher.

While perusing some of the materials, he spotted a familiar face: Sergeant Andrew Carter, cutting some construction paper with a smile on his face that could only be described as disturbingly fevered. As for the reason, Edgar could only guess.

Well, no time like the present to find out. "Sergeant," Edgar addressed, joining him and taking a sheet of paper for himself.

"Oh! Hi, sir." Carter gave Edgar a quick nod as he sat down. He was halfway through a spiky, misshapen figure that would eventually be Christmas tree, and the table was scattered with shards of green paper. "I'm making Christmas cards. Um, I don't know if they have Christmas where you come from, there's people here from all over the place." Even Aigis-san hasn't known quite what it was and she was from Earth, so the Japanese obviously didn't get Christmas. Carter would just have to spread the love around.

Maybe he needed to put a little explanation of what Christmas was when he sent the cards to people who weren't from Earth. The whole Baby Jesus thing would take too long to explain and had never been the most interesting part, but a time to spend with your friends and family, that was pretty universal. Carter carefully snipped along the lines in his head.

At the Stalag they'd let them have Christmas, albeit in the smallest and poorest of ways. Would Aguilar do the same?

Edgar shook his head, grabbing a pencil from the pile of papers. "No, we don't have Christmas," he said, wondering exactly what it was and why one would make cards related to it.

On his own sheet, he started idly drawing lines and rectangles, the shapes quickly becoming pipes and gas tanks. He usually took more caution when working on anything close to drafts for a new weapon; he was careful to keep his work vague, so the soldiers didn't piece together just what he was planning.

He thought to ask about the Christmas topic, but couldn't get past something in Carter's behavior. "Is... everything all right?"

"Hm?" Carter's hands paused for a moment and he looked up at the king in confusion. "Yeah. This is how we always do Christmas. Well, not always, since this would be my first Christmas at Landel's Institute, but cards are a pretty important part of Christmas and this is how I did cards for it when I was little so I'm making do with what I got."

It took him a few more moments of cutting to realize that Edgar might not have been talking about the paper. His scissors slowed and he leaned in closer, sneaking a peek over his shoulder at the nearest guard. "One of my friends got out last night," he whispered. "Everyone's pretending she's dead, but I know she's too smart for that. So I'm real happy for her but I wish she could have left us something saying how she'd done it."

There was a familiarity to Carter's tone, and when combined with what he said and the look on his face, Edgar recognized it: blind hope in the face of all logic. It was ultimately wishful thinking, as the truth seemed too cruel to accept as reality. While there was the slim possibility his friend truly had escaped, feigned her death somehow, Edgar found it nearly impossible to believe. Given the variety of prisoners contained at Landel's, with so many capable of escaping themselves with little help still held captive... The chances were far better that she'd met a grim end.

He simply nodded at Carter's assessment, deciding not to comment on it further for now. The sergeant seemed more sensitive than most— Edgar had to admit that he wouldn't have pegged Carter for a soldier with his disposition— and pushing a topic that he was clearly handling in the only way he knew how might make matters worse. That was the last thing he needed to do- he'd done quite enough for one day already.

Instead, he chose to pursue the Christmas topic. "I see. Tell me- is this Christmas a part of your work with your military?"

Carter barked a short laugh before realizing Edgar was serious, and tried to look respectful again. "No, Christmas is an Earth holiday," he said, finishing the final snip on his tree. "It's a time of peace and celebration, when people get together with their friends and family. You decorate a tree and have a big meal together, and then you exchange presents. We had them even when I was in the prison camps." There was a tiny smuggled tree and everything. Sure, the Christmas dinner was tiny and the presents were little more than trinkets or traded favors (Carter gave out a lot of sock darnings), but it was the sentiment that mattered.

He pulled a folded piece of blue paper close and hunted in his craftsy mess for where he'd laid the glue. "Do you have anything like that where you come from? It'd seem pretty lonely if you didn't." Of course they didn't have Jesus out in space, or in Japan, but to Carter's simplistic worldview Christmas seemed to be an even more essential concept than God.

"We don't, I'm afraid," Edgar said, shaking his head a second time. "We do give gifts for other occasions, so the concept isn't completely foreign to me. A celebration of peace with friends and family... it sounds nice."

The lead in Edgar's pencil snapped sharply as he drew a hose to connect the gas tanks to the front of his illustrated apparatus. With a gesture to indicate that he'd return momentarily, he stood and headed for one of the other tables to retrieve another pencil; once up, he spotted Terra sitting all by her lonesome, driving the colored writing utensil she held into the page before her. Her mind was clearly elsewhere, sorting out all that had been presented to her. Another sigh- he only hoped it wasn't too much for her at once.

Finding a replacement pencil, he returned to his seat, taking one more look her way before settling down. Lo and behold, she was no longer alone: Ryuuzaki had entered the room and made an apparent bee-line for her. Edgar raised an eyebrow as he turned back to Carter, a long breath pushed through his nose- just what was Ryuuzaki up to now?

"Now, you mentioned something just a moment ago," he started, returning to his drawing. "A prison camp. Were you there because of that fugitive-smuggling operation you told me about when we last spoke?"

Carter finally laid hands on the glue. He smoothed the tree out and, with an expression of intense concentration, began putting dabs of glue on the edges of the paper figure. Of course touching the glue wouldn't leave little white burns on his fingers the way his more harmful chemicals had, but it was habit to be careful. "Mh," he said with a slightly distracted tone. "We'd get the POWs coming in through a secret entrance and then they'd hide in the tunnels under the camp until we could give them papers and new clothes and send them back out again. The last place you'd look for escaped prisoners would be another prison camp, so it's why we had it set up that way."

It wasn't a completely accurate statement. The tunnels maneuver was just their most common ploy; they had many wacky schemes for rescuing Allied prisoners. Carter wished he could come up with a few of his own and be more useful around here. Why was a man from a unit that specialized in escaping so bad at doing it on his own?

"A cunning plan, indeed," Edgar noted, watching as Carter arranged the paper pieces to make the shape of what looked like a tree. There was a lot on which he could relate: though Figaro was far from a prison camp and the cave southward no mere tunnel, the concept of harboring those who needed protection from the Empire, moving them from place to place while operating as normal, was a familiar one.

As his eyes followed along Carter's handiwork, Edgar's attention was drawn to the scars on the sergeant's fingers. While they didn't appear to be the kind earned from welding metal together, the scars left from a burn were recognizable to someone who had a few of them himself. Be brought his pencil to his mouth, interested. "What was your job within your unit, Sergeant? When you weren't whisking prisoners to safety, that is."

Carter flipped the tree and brought the heel of his hand down on the paper. "Demolitions!"

That and Nazi impersonation. But mostly demolitions. Carter had gotten mixed reactions to announcing his field of expertise so proudly, but it had never stopped him from being up front about it. Bombs were his life. They were the one thing people regularly congratulated him on, or at least they did after he joined the army. They made him happy and they helped win the war.

He smoothed the paper, hitting it occasionally to make sure all the glue stuck, and continued, "I made bombs. Mostly sabotage type things on trains and bridges and ammunition factories. I even had a little lab set up in the tunnels for making improvised ones." Carter neglected to mention that he'd brought the roof of the lab down on his own head multiple times. He knew the formulas perfectly...it was normal for someone to forget the proportions once in a while.

Edgar blinked, his own pencil halting as his eyes rose; Carter suddenly had his full attention. "Really?" He was a firm believer that in some way, everyone at Landel's had something to offer— would they truly be there otherwise?— but finding someone who was skilled with crafting explosives was a true gift. Even if he hadn't been searching for allies, the subject piqued his own personal interests.

"We might have more in common than I thought," Edgar said with a grin as he quickly finished his sketch, lowering his voice in spite of Carter's loud declaration. The soldiers either didn't notice or didn't care, but taking a little precaution couldn't hurt. He spun his picture around to show Carter his drawing: a crude flamethrower. "I build weapons, and given some of the materials around this building, we might even be able to help each other out."

Carter's face lit up like Fourth of July with extra gunpowder. "Really?" he asked excitedly, leaning over the picture and trying not to touch it with his gluey fingers. He wasn't completely sure what it was supposed to be, but it was still obviously some form of weapon that caused loud booms.

"Materials is my biggest problem. I can make a molotov easy, a baby could do that, and if you get me some gasoline or TNT I'm golden, but it's hard to find anything useful in the closets around here. I've tried making explosives with basic kitchen chemicals but it...didn't go so well." Chlorine gas, really, what had he been thinking? Sure, it exploded, but not in a way that was controllable. Or safe. Or good for secret base structural integrity. "What about you? Do you do...magic bombs?"

Ah, materials. While they shared an interest, they also shared a problem: the supplies at the institute were all they had at their disposal, and without the proper materials, it was tricky to make even the basest of inventions. Edgar had been fortunate in his search to find a few gadgets worth taking, even if they needed more than a few modifications; however, not everyone could have the same luck.

"Hm..." He thought for a moment over Carter's words, tapping his pencil on the page before him. "I understand that problem well enough, believe me. Have you tried the shed in the courtyard? I've found a few useful pieces in there for my projects, like a delightful number called a lawnmower," —his smile widened as he recalled the contraption, the blades on it a perfect match for the string trimmer— "but I've had to look other places for some of the finer parts."

Another pause. "And if you've not checked there already, you might also try the supply closets in the eastern wing of the second floor. I know there are some chemicals located there, though I couldn't tell you which. It's not exactly my area of expertise."

Really, a lawnmower? He must have been from somewhere as primitive as that man he'd met in the shower if a lawnmower was fantastical. But Carter wouldn't laugh at him, he'd been rude enough today.

Carter returned to cutting out little red stockings, but he kept his manic grin. "I know which closet you're talking about, I went up there with a few guys once. I didn't see anything useful at the time, but it was pretty dark and the bottles weren't labeled all that clearly."

The real problem was that Carter wasn't a chemist. He was a masterful bomber but he wasn't good even at pretending to be a scientist in any other area. He just knew what worked, as if by instinct or intuition. The long strings of letters that described molecular shapes and bonds meant nothing to him.

Folding his drawing, Edgar placed the paper into his pocket, quickly replacing the sheet with a fresh one in the hopes the soldiers wouldn't notice the switch. Whether they didn't notice or didn't care was unclear: they took no action, either way.

His eyes strayed as he pulled the paper toward him, spotting Locke as he entered the room. That was another conversation waiting to happen: just what was he going to say when it came to the topic of Celes? The thief was one of his truest friends- he couldn't avoid the subject forever; however, revealing that someone as strong as the former general had broken under the influence of the institute... it was a hard pill for even Edgar himself to swallow. It could wait a few days, at least- granted Locke wasn't gone by then.

And if he was gone, then there would be no need to discuss it at all. What a somber note.

"I'll have to keep my eyes open for anything that may be of use to you, then," he said, starting a new sketch. Something pleasant this time- less chainsaw, more chocobo. "Like I've said before: I believe cooperation is going to be a key factor in figuring out what makes this place tick. Or explode, for that matter."

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