DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 59: Intercom, Evening
New Intercom
damned_intercom wrote in damned
As the day began drawing to a close, the intercom flickered to life. Instead of Harrington's voice, however, Berg's calm tone filtered through the speakers.

"Attention all personnel: please escort subjects to their quarters for the duration of dinner shift. After that, you are expected to report to your stations -- no exceptions. Anyone caught away from his or her post without direct orders will have to personally answer to the general."

An odd tension hung in the air, but Berg didn't say anything more than that. Once the intercom clicked off, soldiers began to gather up the patients and bring them to their rooms. Most didn't know why Harrington wasn't handling the announcements, or why Berg sounded particularly serious this evening, though no one would admit that to the subjects themselves.

The few who did know had more pressing matters to contend with.

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The door closed behind the Scarecrow with a snap, leaving him alone in the room with only the tray in his hand, the boxes on the beds, and his own miserable thoughts for company. He couldn't rightly explain it, being mostly unfamiliar with the human body, but he just wasn't feeling hungry- there was the weariness he knew was associated with hunger, and a turning in his middle he couldn't quite describe, but it was as though the rest of his processes had been stifled by the worries that had plagued him throughout the day.

Mele was gone, and there was a high chance it was his fault.

His hands started shaking again as he repeated the words in his head. Consequences for their failure. Not just any failure- a deliberate one. They'd seemingly protected Rosemarie and her associate for now, but in exchange for their own friends? It was hard to say that was a fair trade, or that it was what Mele would have wanted. The Scarecrow couldn't say even he wanted it, now that it had come to light.

Rather than allowing his trembling hands to spill the gruel, he set his tray on the desk and had a seat on the bed. His eyes trailed to the other side of the room- no Depth Charge yet. He had still been at the Institute as of that morning, but would they take him, as well? While he liked to think of himself as a rather optimistic fellow at times, it was coming to a point where even the Scarecrow had to admit he was crumbling under the pressure- things were looking rather grim.

He opened the container beside him, idly rifling through the materials inside. The watch came out first, its movement halted during the night as it wound down. He turned the knob on the side, and the ticking resumed. Holding it to his ear, the Scarecrow listened to it for over a minute in some attempt to draw comfort from it. Though it wasn't a heart, the steady pulse gave him some grounding. He slipped it onto his wrist, taking a moment to work out the latch with his unsteady fingers.

Next into his lap was his hat, the one that had served him so well when he'd been made of straw. It felt too odd to wear it atop his head now that it was much sturdier than a burlap sack; he instead pushed the fabric through his fingers for a moment, bringing it to his nose and taking a deep breath. It was only then he recalled he couldn't fully identify the smell of it, having never needed to breath as a scarecrow. It was one he could only assume would have reminded him of Oz, of better times back home, of what he used to be. The hat stayed in his lap for now- even though it felt so foreign to him, it was still something that made him feel a little less human, which was a good thing in his mind.

Last out was something he didn't recall being in the box before. A broken ring? It looked an awful lot like the one Depth Charge had, but he was sure he'd given that one back. The air pushed itself out of him- he'd have to wait for his roommate to arrive to give it back.

Oh, joy. The suspicion of the Eagle was the last curse anyone wanted on their person, and Claude had somehow incurred twice the amount. If he couldn't already spontaneously burst into flames, he might have feared turning to ashes from that one glare alone. Thankfully, he had managed to gain the man's approval, though it took convincing Cartwright to temporarily take his post.

She was a champ, wasn't she? Claude would say he owed her a dinner, but it would be some time before they could get an evening off. Besides, they had to be even by now, no? What with his initial assistance and...then some.

And all of it was building to a crux tonight. He was looking forward to this--Aguilar's anger aside.

The major reached M42, a spring in his steps and a hum in his voice. Without bothering with formalities of knocking or calling out, he immediately entered the room, looking to all the world the most atypical soldier in existence. "Good evenin', gentlemen!" he called. "I look-- Oh." Claude stared at the single lanky man in the room. "Only you're here."

Funny thing was, Depth Charge hadn't felt much like responding to Javert's call for volunteers this time, even if it was the first time he'd seen the notice personally in a while. Maybe seeing Jones alive and kicking hadn't exactly been the permanent boost he'd been hoping for. Not that he wasn't grateful, of course, but no one could argue that things wouldn't have been better if the guy hadn't died in the first place. What was he gonna do when this place stopped yanking his drive-chain, huh? He knew slagging well that more often than not things were permanent here.

So, what was the point of all this again? Character building? Pit, they didn't have the right to build him a new character just 'cause they didn't like the one he already had- he wasn't exactly a fan either, but it was better than this. And frankly, he wasn't sure if he liked himself more or less with how the Institute had changed him. Now he was weaker, softer. Felt like he needed his joints tightened.

He hadn't noticed the officer up ahead of him as he turned the corner into the hallway. It was only when he heard the sound of a voice he half-recognised from outside that he realised something was wrong.

That wasn't the Scarecrow. Which meant...

He pounded ahead, flung open the door- and with his heart still thudding against his ribcage the Maximal stopped and stared at the man planted in the middle of the room like he owned it. And then he finally placed the voice.

Frag. Ordinarily, this would have been the point where he'd walk away with a cool one-liner and act like nothing had ever happened. What were you supposed to say to the guy whose skidplate you'd knocked off of the disposal line? It had been bad enough with Lugnut, but...

"What do you want?" he asked flatly, not to mention a touch moodily, as he slunk into the room and over to his desk. He leaned against the chair, unwilling to give Harrington the advantage of height out of dumb pride.

Though the Scarecrow heard the sound of footsteps making their way down the hall, he didn't think much of them until the door opened, and he was presented with someone who was definitely not Depth Charge. For a moment, his heart leapt into his throat as he thought there might be more soldiers behind the officer, that they'd come to assign him a new roommate or take him for a second sleep study. Oh, there weren't many things he could imagine that would be much worse than either of those scenarios.

It was only after the man spoke— he did sound friendly enough— that the Scarecrow found himself trying to place the voice. As he pondered it, Depth Charge walked in, opening the door with an impressive swing. With as much as he knew about the former robot and his personality, the Scarecrow was willing to bet he'd thought along the same lines, that the officer was there for a far darker purpose than a friendly chat.

Oh! That was where he'd heard the voice before: it was none other than the Major himself, the soldier usually running the announcements, the man for whom he'd possibly lost one of his closest friends at the Institute. A part of the strawman wanted to ask where she was, what they'd done with her; however, it was that glimmer of stubbornness and irritation that reached his lips first.

He got to his feet, hat and ring still clenched in his hand. "Yeah, just what are you doing here?" There was an indignance in his voice that sounded unfamiliar to him as it played in his ears, but there was no pushing it back- not after the day he'd had.

Everything had gone the way of doom and gloom so early in the conversation, but Claude supposed he couldn't blame either male. Such was the life of a patient at Landel's Institute; the soldier was not so off to forget such a fact. Not so deranged to ignore his present purpose.

That is, when it came to paper. For the world, he smiled widely as each took their place in the room, seemingly cheered by both men's presence. "Ya can say I'm here fer unfinished business," he chirped, one hand reaching in to the interior of his uniform jacket. "Regardin' yer mission. The General was willin' ta give ya a second chance at confessin'." The man produced a small note pad as he spoke, flipped through a couple of pages, and held it out for the occupants to see the printed words clearly:

We're being recorded. Be careful on what you say.

After their mission it came as less of a surprise to see the Scarecrow bristle as he thought it might, but it was still unnerving- not in its unfamiliarity, but in the way it reminded him of how genuine that frustration had been in their little cafe production. Seemed like he was figuring out more and more every day that even scarecrows had spines.

With Harrington around, though, there was no way he could get into something as petty and personal as that. He stiffened up instead, squaring his shoulders like he was about to get into a fist fight with him- pretty ridiculous, given that the guy was grinning like an idiot. "Too bad," he answered flatly. "Looks like I slept through that one."

But as unnecessarily prickly as it seemed he was being, the fact was that the man's presence was setting him on edge. What was he doing here? If he really was a mole, why couldn't he just get on with his sabotage or whatever? Was this some sort of second round of testing? And, hey, surely he wasn't stupid enough to thank them in person, was he? His discomfort didn't ease off any when Harrington flipped his notebook with its pre-recorded message towards them; he shot the Scarecrow an uncertain look, hand tensing a little against the back of his chair. Just where was this going?

Second chance? If the intercom the night before had been telling the truth, this was technically the third chance they'd had to out the traitor- but why give them another chance at all, especially when the consequences were already so dire? They had to know the name they'd been given was fake, or they wouldn't be asking again, and it certainly wouldn't be the man they were looking for doing the asking. It occurred to the Scarecrow that they must have been awfully desperate for his identity, in that case. Perhaps they felt their punishment wasn't getting the desired results fast enough. That was a grim thought, indeed.

He returned Depth Charge's look immediately, feeling his hand tighten on the brim of his hat as he read over the words on the notepad a second time. It was another situation where they had to be careful what was said- no time to talk it over at all this time. He gave his roommate an encouraging nod— as much of one as he could muster at that point— before returning his attention to the Major.

"We told you what you wanted to know," he said, the sternness still in his voice. "And if we didn't bother to show up when they told us to over the intercom last night, what's to say we'll tell you anything new now?"

There was knot that formed somewhere in his throat- he swallowed it, nervous over his words. He was hoping to discreetly fish out some form of answers, something to tell him what else was going to happen. He could only hope he wasn't crossing a line.

They were playing coy--at least, one man was. The other held genuine frustration in his features, a fact Claude took without losing the enthusiasm in his smile. He would rather accept negativity at his presence than the opposite. For one, the patients were not entirely his allies. They were working toward a similar goal, certainly, but Claude understood the resentment of being kept in the dark for so long. For another, the three here were in a predicament, its nature more delicate than blown glass. Who in their right minds wanted that?

His days with the General were numbered. Claude knew that more than any other, but he could appreciate efforts to lessen the chances of discovery. What came, therefore, was wanted.

"Ya did," he agreed, before forcing a chuckle. Those who heard might not have noticed a difference in sound. "Sadly, what ya gave us led to a big pile of didgeridoo--err, nuthin', basically." The man made to sigh as his hand moved another page into full view.

Your assistance yesterday saved three lives:
Rosemarie, my charge, and myself.


"The General has reason ta believe ya fabricated the info," continued Claude. "But we can't be sure if our lovely lady--" Here, his grin widened to ridiculous proportions. This time, the expression was genuine, seeped in an unknown memory. "--ever gave ya a name ta begin with. Normally, last night would've been the end of it, but with the tight atmosphere and all, I figured another try wouldn't hurt."

The man flipped to another page, his countenance sobering despite the smile on his face:

You can consider this as my cowardly way of saying thanks.


"That's why I'm here," he concluded.

As strange as their situation already was, all but talking in code with the possible-rebel they'd managed to spare, few things felt stranger than accepting the nod from the Scarecrow with a little stirring of relief. If he was okay with this, then, yeah. Fine. It was far easier to tell himself that he was gonna go along with this just to keep an eye on the Scarecrow than it was to admit that he trusted the man's judgement- Primus, that would be like deciding he could let the guy head out at night alone without worrying. Sure he could.

That said, he could feel his suspicions wavering with every page revealed to them. Three lives. Well. That eased a little something in his chest.

By this point was only half listening to what Harrington was telling them out loud- though he did manage to quirk an eyebrow at 'dijeridoo' or whatever, with a curt but admittedly deflated, "You making fun of me?" Just couldn't tell with a guy like Harrington, especially if he really was undercover. Who could really say how much of the irritating blabber was an act except for the man himself?

There was, however, at least one moment that caught his attention: the same vaguely nostalgic smile, genuine even through coded conversation. They'd seen Rosemarie give them almost exactly the same look.

Slag it. Depth Charge shifted awkwardly against the chair, leather boots creaking. His eyes didn't quite meet the major's. I can't believe you're doing this, DC... "Hey, we had to give you something. Not our fault if the dame you sent us to wanted to talk code at us. Tough nut to crack. Right, Scarecrow?"

Three lives? Now that was something the Scarecrow hadn't expected. He'd known they'd probably protected Rosemarie and the Major, but there being one more on the table was another matter. He still didn't think it very fair, to have possibly traded Mele's safety for that of two people who didn't know all that well— make that three people, one whom he didn't even have a name for— but it was something that shifted the weight on his mind.

The biggest question for him, of course, was what Mele would have wanted. He couldn't imagine she'd have simply traded her own well-being for theirs; however, she'd always been kind to him- well, aside from the time she was bewitched. She might not have been so to some of the others. He reasoned it was a better comparison to wonder if she'd have traded his own safety: if she'd known that her friends would face the consequences for her actions, the Scarecrow included, would she have done it? There was no asking her now. He had to go on what decisions his own mind made, even if it was damaged, human, and ultimately inferior to the one he'd had in Oz. He was sure he could have made the right decision back home.

However, that did bring up another important question, one stirred by his conversation with Kibitoshin: was there a right decision at all? Or was this a situation where there was no happy ending?

He only nodded in response, reading over the last words on the note before them a few times. It was hard to think of anyone in the military as being cowardly, but it was a word he associated with a lion who cried himself to sleep on a nightly basis. They may have been in control, may have been in power, but the Major was in a dangerous position. If caught, it could mean the end for not only him, but Rosemarie and his unnamed charge, as well. The Scarecrow wanted answers more than ever now: to know who could be trusted, what had happened to their friends, if everything would turn out all right in the end. It was no time to ask as he listened to their visitor hold two conversations at once- they had to be careful with what they said, or their work and their sacrifices would be in vain.

sob i'm sorry notifs hate me

Harrington couldn't be sure if the question rang as serious or not. A part of him wondered if it was a mix of both. Given his current persona, however, there existed only one way to handle such a question, and that involved transforming into a wounded puppy. The man sighed, mildly dejected. "Why does everyone have ta get so offended?" he grumbled. "No, I ain't." Because Major Harrington never made fun, no sir. He was a serious man, a timid soldier.

Right.

The two appeared content to keep to fabrications, at least. As far as he could detect, there existed no true desire to give him away. This was further emphasized when the subject of Rosemarie became more real. Another might have seen dangerous ground, but with Harrington, a personal weakness was never one unless allowed. He wasn't too concerned about what he could say.

Claude sighed once more, the sound gracing melancholic than dejection. "I figured she'd do that," he stated. "Mind tellin' me what she said?"

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