DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Dayshift 42: Bus 3
enki is srs bzns
entaiho wrote in damned
One second he was in the hallway, dizzy and sickened and barely able to focus as Youko picked him up (and he'd thought for a moment to warn her to be careful before remembering his shirei couldn't hurt her anyway, even agitated as they were) and then the next...in bed. Back in the sterile hospital room, with only the sharp scents of cleaners and laundry soap from the sheets, but nausea and a lingering pain behind his eyes still reminded him of the close call the night before.

Before he had time to think about it for long, though, the door opened and the nurse arrived with a bundle of unfamiliar clothing; she fussed over him briefly, trying to feel his forehead (from which he automatically grimaced and ducked away) and cooing over him like he was an invalid child. Of course he was a little feverish; it would only have been worse if the blood had touched him as it came so close to doing.

But the woman only bundled him into the clothing she'd brought without paying any attention to his protests, and he was hard-pressed to decide whether or not the shirt she gave him was any better than the bright yellow smiling face. And then he was led out to the front yard, through what he noted didn't look anything like the "holy ground" of the night before, and given a brown paper bag before being herded onto a bus with admonitions to "take it easy" ringing in his ears.

He dropped into the first empty seat he found, leaving the bag sitting next to him unopened as he leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes. Food was most definitely not interesting at the moment, and he had things to think about anyway.

[waiting for Youko]

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Staying in the room during the night had been a good idea after all- a night of rest and conversation with Kaiji had made his legs feel better, and the marks those somethings had left on his calves were pretty much gone. That was encouraging. Also encouraging was the promise of some sort of a field trip for the patients to some town somewhere. He liked the notion of getting away from the institute, even if they were going to be watched closely.

What wasn't promising was the outfit he was given to wear. The shoes were tight on his feet, the pants were stiff and restricting, and the jacket he'd been given to wear over his shirt had designs on the sleeves that resembled flames. Something about this seemed a little cruel. In good news, his shirt was green- that was a familiar color.

Ushered onto the bus, the Scarecrow chose an empty seat near the front next to a window. He hoped he could see where they were going before they got there.

[Free]

It'll be safe in your room, Lord Recluse said. Scrap that, he'd been in bed five minutes before that horrific fog came up and his nose was again filled with the metallic reek of human blood. It hadn't hurt him, but it had terrified him enough to make him fling the covers up like a human child and hope it went away peacefully.

It did, but it also left him to wake up lying on his back. Just to twist the knife a bit more.

Morning brought announcements of a trip to "Doyleton", whatever the heck that was. It didn't include pancakes, which was always a bad start, but Scourge supposed it had to be better than spending another day inside Landel's walls. Someone had put long strips of cloth on his back to cover the wounds from the "nasty fall down the stairs you took" and the pain had died down to a dull ache as long as he didn't put too much pressure on the wounds.

There were also new clothes to wear, for...some reason, maybe they weren't supposed to wear the Landel's uniform outside the doors. The soft pants were replaced with a tougher, dark blue fabric and the shirt with a double-layered set of a dark purple jacket and a black shirt with a wiggly fanged gold thing on it. At least it was a bit more variety than the dull Landel's greys, even if it wasn't his beloved dark blue.

The shoes, on the other hand, would definitely take some getting used to. They felt cramped and tight around feet that had only known Landel's softer slippers, and using took several cautious steps before he felt secure enough to walk around.

The nurse hustled him outside, with a cheerful caution not to get too much exercise with his back hurt the way it was, but to just enjoy the fresh air. Scourge looked up at the bus--it was shaped like a bus, anyway--with trepidation, the vestiges of his Decepticon heritage warning him not to enter an Autobot shape so willingly even as he climbed the stairs with his packed food clutched tightly in his hand.

It was strange. This was the first time he'd seen a human vehicle from the inside. It wasn't much to look at and didn't have anywhere near the floorspace of Astrotrain, and on top of that it was ugly. Maybe the lush internal environments that appeared on the car commercials only came with vehicles that weren't designed to transport large amounts of disposable people like they were so many energon cubes. Nobody else seemed to be panicking, but Scourge couldn't help a niggling feeling of dread at the unexplained transportation. Would they be coming back, and would the next place be so bad that they would want to?

He took a seat next to the first human who looked unthreatening, being careful to not lean against the seat back.

The Scarecrow turned his eyes from the window, having a glance at the patient who took the seat next to him. It wasn't anyone he knew- not that that was a surprise, seeing how most people at the institute fit into that description- but any company was good company. He wasn't sure how long they'd be in this strange carriage, anyway.

"You look about as comfortable as I do," he noted aloud.

"Trust me, I'm much worse," Scourge grumbled, rolling one shoulder back and trying to get comfortable in the new clothes. The bandages on his back kept brushing against the shirt fabric and while it didn't hurt it irritated the heck out of him like sand in the joints of his old body.

He'd heard that people healed fast at Landel's. So why was this taking so long?

"I will trust you on that," the Scarecrow replied with a light smile. "I suppose something nasty got a hold of you during the night, then? I've finally gotten over what happened to me a few nights ago- had a run-in upstairs with some sort of nasty something with a whole lot of teeth."

Oof, just thinking about it made his legs tingle. He never wanted to run into those things again if he could help it. Why was it that everyone wanted to go out at night, anyway? He supposed it was really the only time to get away from the nurses and do some exploring, but with human bodies as fragile as they were, why not stay in the safety of the patient rooms?

Nothing would get done, of course, he told himself. Wow, that had been a dumb question.

"Legs," Scourge corrected, shuddering ever so slightly. "Lots of legs. With pointy parts on the ends of them." Perhaps the enforced stasis lock at the end of the night had some small blessing to it--Scourge had heard that when humans slept, they hallucinated past memories or horrific fears. At least Landel's spared him a human's 'nightmares'.

"How long does it take for these bodies to repair themselves, anyway?"

The Scarecrow looked at the ceiling of the bus, trying to recall all he'd been told about the human body. "Well, my injury only took a few days, but I think they take longer depending on the severity of it. As for how bad injuries can get, I really don't know. I've only been in one a few days, myself."

"Oh!" He felt suddenly rude for not introducing himself. He'd forgotten to do so during several conversations since he'd arrived- add that to the growing list of things that had slipped his mind since he'd lost his brains. "I'm the Scarecrow, friend. Pleasure to meet you, even if it is under these circumstances." He extended a hand to his seatmate.

Scourge eyed the Scarecrow's hand, having to jog his memory about the human tradition. His fingernails dug into the human's palm a bit more than they really should have in a normal handshake. "Scourge. What's the 'the' about?"

A few days, ugh, Scourge didn't want to wait that long, sitting like this was uncomfortable. Humans needed to invent medics and catch up to the rest of the galaxy already. If it took this long just to deal with simple scratches he had no idea how they dealt with something like a missing limb; did they just tape it back on and wait for it to grow together?

Twitching a little at the somewhat unpleasant handshake, the Scarecrow continued his smiling. Maybe it was custom to shake hands so tightly where he was from, or maybe he still wasn't accustomed to these human hands yet. Just one more thing to practice- first walking straight, then using his more articulated hands.

"Well," he started without thinking, "The 'the' is... well... " Hm. Why did he always put a 'the' in front of it? After all, he probably was the only one of his sort here. He'd already stopped using his title in most introductions. He didn't really miss using the whole name, as it had always seemed extremely stuffy to him. It was nice to be king and feel useful, but some of the pomp made him miss simpler times.

"Well, my full name is His Royal Highness, The Scarecrow of Oz, and the 'the' is there in that case. Then again, I've been called just 'Scarecrow' before, so I suppose it's not really all that necessary. I've never really put much thought into it."

"So it's not really a title, it's a name." Scourge nodded, getting that little piece of confusion back into place. His claws released the Scarecrow's hand. "What's a scarecrow?"

Humans and their big long complicated titles, another thing they needed to dispense with if they wanted to be known as civilized one day. Scourge was just fine with Scourge, it told you what you needed to know. You didn't need to bother with a last name or anything longer than Scourge.

"Well, it's kind of both," he tried explaining. This certainly was confusing now that he actually thought about it. "The 'His Royal Highness' part is a title, but I am 'The Scarecrow of Oz,' although I don't suppose I'm the only scarecrow in Oz. I really don't have a name as such- people just call me what I am." His brow furrowed as he listened to his own words. "It's not very practical not having a proper sort of name."

Well, that was just another topic to think about later, when he had his diploma back. "As for what a scarecrow actually is, they're men made of straw and old clothes who are stuffed up and placed in fields to scare birds away from the crops. I'm not sure they have them everywhere, since a good number of folks don't seem to have heard of them."

A 'royal highness' was a king, Scourge remembered, although he wasn't sure what being high had to do with it. But at least it made sense to have a name that called you what you were, nobody else seemed to have one (bar Lord Recluse, who while having a name that was also a noun didn't seem to be that reclusive).

Scourge held up a hand, bidding the Scarecrow to stop. "Hold on. You're the king, and they're calling you something made out of rags and garbage whose job is to scare birds. Do they really not like you or something?"

"Well, it's not that they don't like me or anything," the Scarecrow returned with a laugh. At least he hoped the Ozians liked him. He'd never really stopped to ask. "It's just that, well, that's what I was. I really was a scarecrow- I just happened to be a scarecrow who was a king, too."

He stopped for a moment, trying to collect his thoughts and try again. "You know how some people weren't the human sort of people before coming to this place? That was the case with me. I sort of thought that might be your situation, since you wanted to know how long it takes these bodies to do what they do."

Scourge's irritation was forgotten in the midst of complete confusion. Not believing the Scarecrow hadn't occurred to him, after all the other silliness he'd been through. "But I was a robot. Those can actually be alive. How can clothing stuffed with straw do anything but sit there and look silly?"

And for that matter why was he king? He didn't sound loud enough to rule people; all the rulers Scourge knew talked too much and didn't have volume control.

"A robot? Really?" Now was as good a time as any to get answers to questions that had been sitting in the back of his mind since that night in the Recreational Field- "I met one of those the other night- or at least I met a man who claimed he used to be one. What are they? He didn't really get the chance to give me any sort of an answer because these mongrels attacked us, and... "

He sort of trailed off. That was that night those dogs were torn apart right in front of his eyes. That had been an eye-opener.

"I suppose I did look awfully silly stuck on a pole all day trying to scare away crows," he continued. "I really wasn't all that good at it because I didn't have any brains. I'm not sure what looking silly has to do with me being alive, though."

"Well, it's not looking silly, it's about having the right bits." Scourge sat up a bit straighter, showing off his torso to the Scarecrow. "A robot's like a human, I guess, except made out of metal parts rather than fleshy parts. You have your fuel pump and your fuel processor and your laser core, all those bits that keep you running, yeah?" He indicated his chest and stomach.

"And then to keep moving you have gears and cables and wires all down here." The tracker ran a hand down one of his arms. "And humans have...muscles and flesh and stuff to move, and they have parts too. And there's CPUs, too, you need something to think with. If it's just straw it can't think, it can't move, it can't function."

It wasn't the most stable of philosophical structures, but it made sense enough. Scourge had known a lot of freaky creatures over the years but most of them had parts.

The Scarecrow as at a loss of words at the conundrum of his creation. He'd been told before that humans needed brains to work in the first place, and so his human body therefore had some somewhere, but what about those he'd received from the Wizard? They didn't grant him any more life than he'd had perched atop the pole in the field where Dorothy found him. He'd never really questioned how it was that he was alive- he just was.

"Well, I did somehow," he said finally, still looking puzzled. "I've been alive for as long as I can remember, just stuffed with straw and such." Another more disturbing notion started to cross his mind, but he pushed it aside. He could jump to conclusions once he had his brains- his real brains, as given to him by the Wizard- in his possession again.

"Who says you have to have parts and cogs and such to be living?" he asked, filling the silence with the first defensive thought that came to mind. "I mean, my friend the Tin Man was made of metal, like a robot, but he didn't have a heart. He still worked."

"Then he must have had a fuel pump, or something else to move the fuel around. You can't just go around not having parts and still be alive." Scourge scratched at his beard and frowned. This was basic logic, and yet he really wasn't sure how to explain it. "I mean, what did you think with? You can't think with straw, you need a brain or a CPU. Straw doesn't think, it just sits there being...strawish."

He wasn't even sure how brains worked, come to think of it. He'd never seen one in person, but the pictures looked like ridged fleshy balls that sat in the human's empty cranial structure. Then again, if optical sensors and fuel pumps could be turned organic and still function, there wasn't any real reason why a CPU couldn't be turned organic and still fill the same basic function on a more primitive level.

But not straw. Scourge drew the line at straw.

"Well that's it- I didn't think before I had my brain from the Wizard. Not well enough to be considered thinkin', anyway." He frowned and felt his forehead wrinkle- this was such a complicated topic that he was discovering he didn't fully understand, and he was starting to doubt he would even once he had his diploma back.

This was not something he wanted to admit to anyone, not even to himself.

"See, I traveled with some friends to see a Wizard to ask him if he'd give me some brains, and he said every creature had a brain and I'd had them all along or some such, but he gave me an honorary Doctorate in Thinkology as a sign that I was a great thinker." Or something. Why was this making him so frazzled?

As a Decepticon, Scourge was trained to know scrap metal when he saw it and this Wizard guy sounded like a rusty ton of it. He was starting to get the feeling that straw-filled or not the Scarecrow wasn't the best calibrated diode in the logic gate.

"So you did have a brain," he persisted, leaning in a bit closer. "I mean, you wouldn't know, would you? You can't just open up your own head and check, your creator must have put one in and not told you about it." The business of mobility and regulatory functions in a straw body wasn't something Scourge wanted to get into, brains were hard enough.

"Well... " This man made him uncomfortable. He didn't need a diploma to tell him that much.

Why did he feel he didn't have a brain in the first place? It was because he was a failure at scaring crows, the sole reason he was made in the first place, right? Right? He knew he only had straw up there- well, he supposed so. After all, he had nothing else in his body but straw stuffing, so why not the same in his head? Surely that was why he figured he'd never had any in the first place- he knew what he was inside of him, and never bothered to question it.

That didn't answer this robot's questions, or the ones that were now mounting in his mind. This man was making his mind turn in circles and head into areas he did not want to venture.

He could come to a more thorough conclusion once he had his diploma back. Despite what the Wizard had told him, he felt he really should have it before doing any deep thinking. Otherwise, he'd start questioning his existence and creation and whatnot- what good was that when he couldn't get a definitive answer, anyway?

"I guess I did have a brain," he said quietly, unsure whether or not he actually agreed with this fellow. "Maybe it was just made of straw- I mean, who is to say it didn't work? It apparently did somehow."

The tracker sat back a bit, watching the Scarecrow's face thoughtfully. What kind of person actually believed that they didn't have a CPU/brain and were still functioning? Apparently someone who listened to other people on the matter of his sentience rather than making up his own mind on the subject.

"I guess that could work," Scourge answered skeptically. "Never seen a CPU made out of straw, or anything else useful made out of stray that wasn't a hat, but if you put it into a brain-shape I suppose it could work." No more outlandish than meat brains, really.

The tracker ran a finger up his own arm, making little circles to indicate the presence of gears. "Maybe we're talking about different kinds of straw. If you had parts made out of straw that could move and turn, you could still get around and function."

"Perhaps," the former strawman agreed. "Maybe straw from my home has different properties than it does in yours. There's so much here that's foreign to me, so who's to say otherwise?" That sounded like a good answer for the time being- it was enough to hopefully keep his mind off the subject. He didn't have his diploma- his brains. No deep thinking for now.

This was something he'd definitely mull over later, no doubt about that. Questions about his existence couldn't be left hanging for too long. Maybe Kaiji could help him- he seemed like a guy who probably did a lot of mulling.

He glanced out the window before looking at the sack of food in his lap. He'd totally forgotten it was there with all this discussion. He didn't feel very hungry anymore- maybe the 'food for thought' he'd been given somehow went straight to his stomach. With this body, that notion wouldn't surprise him.

"Do you want this?" he asked his seatmate. "I'm not feelin' too much in the mood for it, and I'd hate for it to go to waste."

"Oh! Don't mind if I do!" The bag was in Scourge's hand so fast that the Scarecrow might have needed to count his fingers afterwards. He pawed through the new food, coming up with a squishy spotted thing and a banana. Both smelled sweet, but the wrapper on the spotted thing looked a bit more user friendly.

"I don't get why nobody here likes to eat," he commented as he stuffed the muffin into his mouth and took a large bite. "S'best part of being human and people starve themselves. It's stupid."

The Scarecrow brightened instantly. "Now there's something we can agree on!" Taste was one of those human sensations he'd been enjoying thoroughly since he arrived, and was something he would surely miss when he went home.

"See, as a Scarecrow, I didn't eat. Was no need to. I had no idea what I was missing! I'm not sure why they wouldn't want to eat, though. I didn't realize I had to when I first got here, and I felt awful. I get the feeling most humans probably take it for granted."

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