2019-06-05: The Edges Of A Truth

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  • Log: The Edges Of A Truth
  • Cast: Loren Voss, Tabitha deVriese
  • Where: Guadosalam
  • Date: July 05, 2019
  • Summary: Loren takes time to evaluate Tabitha's hands. Tabitha speaks of weightier matters.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    The main factor in favor of Guadosalam, as far as Loren is concerned, is the fact that it has beds. Granted, he's self-acknowledgely biased, given the fact that he had ended up effectively immediately in Guard custody after arriving in Spira (washing up on the shore to be precise) and after that money had still been tight enough that the split was 'buy supplies or rent a room' and sometimes luxuries really do have to fall by the wayside.

    But this place has a secondary advantage: it might be far from the proper facilities that Gebler has even in Bledavik, but privacy is a good runner-up.
    When if comes to assessing cybernetics, that is. To be completely absolutely precise about what he's doing alone in a room with deVriese.

    "I don't have the right tools for proper diagnostics," he says, setting up the portable scanner alongside her... hand. "But it's better than nothing. Try not to do anything catastrophic with it until we get back." He sighs, then adds, looking up at her, his expression one of dry remove, "I have to say, I'm impressed they were able to salvage and reattach the one hand at all. I read the report, you know." He gestures at her hand. "Any nerve trouble with it?"

<Pose Tracker> Tabitha deVriese has posed.

Tabitha 'archenemy of self-respect' deVriese has by and large taken to the "role" thrust upon them by Krelian, which is to say, she has made a game of finding new ways to wear the robes made available to the "assistants" of the Maester in such a way that would make any man of true faith faint dead away. But whatever she wears and however she wears it, when out among the people of Spira, she wears one arm in an overlong sleeve, or if she needs to, a silken bag, tied off at the end for effect. Normally, anyway.

Right now, the sleeve is rolled up, and the arm is up on the table.

That one arm has been removed slightly below the elbow, replaced with a full cybernetic of Solarian white and black, bulged out at the end in what appears to be the barrel of what is probably some manner of ether gun. The end has the ridges and interlocks for some manner of attachable hand, though Tabitha hasn't indicated whether or not she has one at the moment.

She carries herself...heavier, than usual. It's not entirely a euphemism; she's let some of whatever passive gravity manipulation she usually uses lapse, and her figure seems to hang literally heavier than usual, as if in reflection of a thoughtful mood. She stares off into the middle distance, like she were getting her blood drawn. "They commissioned it from the Ethos division, so it's built to handle long deployment. As long as I keep it mostly in specs it should hold up until we return."

...Her eyes travel up, thoughtful. "So nothing catastrophic, then," she says. "Good, I can do that. The hand?" She holds up her other hand, wiggling the fingers. "Some little. I don't think my grip is as tight as it used to be."

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren, meanwhile, has been trying his utmost not to look. Or at least, not to stare too long. Isn't there some dress code he can complain about, somewhere?
    It's... distracting.

    The arm at least provides a good enough alternative area of focus.
    Or perhaps 'ARM' might be a better term of description, considering. It's a piece of work and a half, compared to what Leah had favored.

    "Like Major Sadalbari. Hers were built with multiple redundancies -- she's usually in the field." Which means extraction to handle repairwork was a liability for anything outside an immediate emergency. "I'd like to see the specs on this. It sort of reminds me of the Wind Element's," he adds, nodding again towards the quite literal arm cannon. "They might have used the data from her prosthetics."
    It is known that Tolone was a rescued experiment -- Commander's wishes carry weight, even in the face of all other concerns.
    While it's true that there are additional... factors on Tabitha's powers (he's seen it himself) she's still a First Class citizen, compared to the Wind Element, whatever her outstanding talents. They'd save the best for Tabitha.
    Right?

    "Just try not to hit someone over the head with it and it should be fine. Casing's particulary study. Have the Lambs given you trouble about the arm?" Probably, they think it's simply a case of a missing hand -- tragedies happen -- but...

    He glances over at the scanner, gaze skimming the screen. "This isn't the right tool for checking connections, but it looks like the circuits are still reasonably green. ...I had to jury-rig a connections test," he says, hazarding a glance back up at her.

    She mentions her flesh-and-blood hand's status.

    "..."

    "Here." And unless she evades his grasp, he takes her hand into both of his. And spots, again, the scar.

    "...What, they couldn't even handle the reattachment scarring? Do those guys upstairs in medical have their heads up their own..." he trails off, his face a mask of displeasure. "...whatever. I'm going to check your reflexes. I'm betting since they did such a bang-up job externally there's scarring on the nerves and connective tissue."

<Pose Tracker> Tabitha deVriese has posed.

"Probably," Tabitha says, offhandedly. There's a certain something missing from her voice, that peppy spark she insists on presenting to the Lambs. "I don't know who Doctor Asher reports to, precisely, but if it's not the Minister, it's one of his direct subordinates. I do have the field maintenance manual around, uh..." ... she squints at the universe. "Probably still in my room? Yes."

"No real problems....yes, mostly they assume I got it bitten off by a Fiend. Or they just very delicately don't talk about it while trying very hard not to look." She titters, letting herself have that saucy smile. "Ah, but that makes it more fun to direct their attention somewhere more interesting..."

Tabitha grunts as her hand is taken, and despite the tease immediately before, she makes no fuss as Loren handles her. This woman is quite used to be examined, actually... She looks bored, more than anything. "I don't think it was sloppy. Fath---Doctor Asher, is better than that."

Her eyes slide to it, then to the stump of a cannon on her other arm, and then down, to the table between.

"No. Not an accident at all," she murmurs, distantly.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Or not just around Lambs. Around anyone, really, Shepherd or not. He's noticed that Tabitha tends to present a somewhat -- not radically, Tabitha is Tabitha is Tabitha -- different persona around when she's among multiples. Sort of like being on stage, now that he thinks of it.
    But then, it's probably not that different from himself. He's one person on his own, another person when in the presence of someone like the Commander, another person again around someone like Leah, another person still with his parents...

    Being a person, he's decided privately, is an Emperor-damned mess.
    At least it's one he might not have to dwell on for too much longer, if things work out in his favor.

    "Hmm. Figures. It's as good enough an excuse as anything, and it means they're not going to pry." He narrows his eyes, leaning in across the table. "...Obviously, don't let them see that thing. Especially not those weird ones around here," he says, gesturing vaguely. He probably means the Guado.

    Something like a blanch follows, accompanied with a look that reads really?

    (Really.)

    "Mm. Seems slightly off," he mutters, checking the flexion at the wrist. His hands shift lower, testing her fingers in turn. "Finger movement seems normal. In theory, anyway. But there's some issues at the wrist. Probably connective tissue or muscle. ...I'm not a physiotherapist," he adds, in the wake of such musings. "So if that's what you need, you're out of luck."
    No one ever said he had good bedside manners.

    Then he hesitates. One can see the proverbial needle scratching across the record.

    "Wait. Your father operated on you? That's a conflict of interest," Loren says, as if this wasn't the only thing wrong here.

    The other half of it settles about him like a fine dusting of snow on an early winter morning soon enough after, if the nuanced shift of his expression from vaguely irritated to carefully neutral is anything to go by.

    'What the hell?' may be the unspoken question in the room.

    "..."

    He, with more care than might be expected from him, sets her hand down. He averts his gaze.

<Pose Tracker> Tabitha deVriese has posed.

"If it's a problem, they'll fix it," Tabitha says, with an almost disaffected tone. Fatalistic, perhaps. Like she didn't really think she got a vote in things anyway.

"Obviously," she agrees regarding not showing off the arm. "Hence the sleeves," she says, shifting the cannon to half indicate the bundled cloth above it. She lets Loren work, talk. Think through. And he spots the two things she let him have. He sets her hand down, gently, and she uses it to start tugging the sleeve down over her ether buster.

"Doctor Asher deVriese, project coordinator and chief physician of Selective Ether Breeding Project Number..." She tips her head. "Forget that part. Only saw the file the once. He didn't do the actual surgery, but..."

She looks down at where one hand is and another should be.

"...I may have made him feel like he needed to remind me of some things," she says, devoid of spirit.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    It's weird, frankly, to hear her talk like that. Loren cants his head to the right a touch, as if attempting to work this one out.

    There are a lot of different sides to people, indeed.

    "Doctor Asher--"

    Wait.

    Wait, wait.

    How has it taken him so long to pin name to position? Maybe he thought it was her grandfather. Maybe it's because the reproduction end of civilian medical isn't his concern -- even civilian medical isn't his concern, technically speaking, except for the part where he does read a smattering of medical publications.
    Maybe he was just out to lunch. But he knows exactly what kinds of projects her father is associated with.

    "I think... isn't he one of the leading researchers in ether inheritance? There was a big one on inheritance patterns over generations published a few decades back, but I don't think..."

    He trails off.
    He's not dumb, he is just frequently an idiot, which is a separate thing entirely.
    He can connect the dots here, and boy, do they make a picture.

    "Huh," he says at length, gazing at her hand and her absence of a hand again, as if seeing them for the first time. Just what do you say to that?

    And what's that, he can't help but think, mean about his own lineage? True -- it's not nearly as... selective as hers has been. But if he were to investigate the contents of his genome, what would he find? What's inherited, and what's environmental?
    What constitutes a curse?

    "...If you need anything," he says, more to fill the gap than relay anything new, "for the prosthetic. I have some tools for tune-ups. If you can get the manual to me I'll see what I can do. ...I'm not a specialist," he reminds her, still not meeting her gaze. "But if it's basic or if I have the parts, I can do it."

<Pose Tracker> Tabitha deVriese has posed.

"Ah, the man reads," Tabitha declares, in faux revelation, and then fixes him with a look with not a lick of her usual come-hither tease. "Yeah," she says, softly. "'Huh.'"

Whatever possessed her to share such an inner layer, it seems to have moved on. But when she settles back, she hunches a bit, comfortable rather than emphasizing herself. "Thank you, Loren. I can do some field work myself, but doing it with one hand and orbital mechanics isn't easy. I'll let you know if it comes up."

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "Keeping up with basic medical research is important, I'll have you know. We're usually the ones that build on it first," he says, not without a touch of heat. Loren reaches up to fidget irritatedly with a pair of glasses he's not wearing, which just leads to an awkward moment where he seems to cotton to this, shift uneasily, and attempt to look like he meant to do that.
    ('Spoilers': he didn't!)

    He doesn't think very much about people of lower classes, beyond those points where their presence in his midst starts to form an existential threat to him. But he's reminded again -- Tabitha is not First Class by birth.
    Normally, promotions like that don't just happen. But, it seems, Dr. Asher worked out something unusual, which is sitting before him now.

    Yeah. A lot of things are coming into focus now.

    ...So why is it that he keeps on coming in behind the rest of them? The Elements. The Commander, and LtC Hawwa. deVriese.
    Van Houten had been First... but she'd died. In the end, it meant nothing.
    Isn't... First Class meant to be something important? Or maybe...

    There's another answer here but it's not one that he enjoys thinking about much. Not now.

    He's happy to leave that -- and her strange relevatory mood -- behind. "Well, let me know. Right now it's just the four of us working for him," he says, apparently leaving Lan out of this equation for reasons best guessed at, "so I need to make sure we're all functional. I think 'Mignonette' has the Lamb under control, so there's that, but I don't know if she knows anything about prosthetics."

<Pose Tracker> Tabitha deVriese has posed.

Tabitha does not respond to Loren's heat; not so much out of disinterest as because that wasn't quite the kind of tease she's interested in. Instead, she settles for grinning, catlike, as he fiddles with glasses that are not in fact present. Got'em.

One could argue that Tabitha is about as literally First Class by birth as you can get....but the full details of that aren't clear. Though perhaps the edges of its truth are beginning to come into shape...

Tabitha can't respond to Loren's thoughts, for a mercy. Perhaps that is a conversation they will have to have, someday. If they're terribly, wonderfully fortunate.

"Oh yes, 'control' is a fabulous word for that," Tabitha says, her usual flip and tease coming back to her tone. "Goodness. I do not believe she knows much of prosthetics, though, no. She didn't seem interested in...well, anything but her pet Lamb, really. I'll make sure we're in trim."

Her eyes darken again - not to the abyss she seemed to enter before, but a quiet acknowledgement of serious truths. "If I can please the Minister with my work here..." she murmurs, quietly. "...well. I have reason to try. If you see anything that requires a soft touch, do let me know. I've let the Lambs see all the gravity assisted kinetic kill kicks I can do, but so many of them forget to look up...if you catch my meaning."

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Of course she gives him that look, he thinks, his mood souring (visibly). Of course.

    It's a wonder his personality hasn't actually curdled yet.

    One of these days, he's going to have to face the subject he can't even think about straight-on. Maybe he'll even talk about it to someone.
    It might actually do him some good.

    But for the time being, Loren remains as closed-off as ever, even to himself.

    The topic of Lorelei and 'Mignonette' at least interjects some well-needed levity back into the conversation. Then again, when talking about your own issues is difficult or painful, there's always talking about someone else's!

    "Tell me about it," he sighs. "I didn't think it was possible to put the word 'pet' into 'pet project' quite so literally..."

    What's that make Lan to him, then?
    Probably, yet another thing he refuses to actively think about.

    By contrast that darker sentiment -- by tone if not content -- is at least something he can agree upon. "Yes. I had been thinking of this situation as a setback, but it could be an opportunity." He nods, a short, crisp gesture of assent. "I'll let you know. My situation's difficult for that kind of thing, there are too many with the Guard and other parties who know who I am. I've been sticking to the ruins, but there could be something..."

    He leans back in his seat. "If the Guard keep pressing north, and I think they will, they'll be on our doorstep soon."

    And while he doesn't care about what side in this little war wins, he does care about the possibility that their way home could remain obscured, or if people are really stupid, lost.

    "Maybe figure out some way to keep it away. I don't know what can stop an invasion, but if we can't count on force of arms, maybe it's time to turn to the people."

    He shifts his seat back, rises. Reaches for some of his kit and begins to pack it away.

    "Remind people what they lost. If they stab the Guard in the back, it won't be good for much more than one shot before they get broken in turn," he surmises, "but time it right..."

    He stretches his hands outwards, as if appealing to some higher authority. "In chess you can sacrifice a piece to move the opponent in line for you to destroy. But you need to be absolutely sure of how they're going to move, or how to make them move like you want."

    He's a young soldier.
    All he has in the end are games. But these games model war.

<Pose Tracker> Tabitha deVriese has posed.

Tabitha gives Loren a boisterous giggle to his joke, high and tittering. "Hee hee! It's unseemly!" OH LOOK WHO'S TALKING

Tabitha is not overly worried about blatant mind control of another person, because they're a Lamb and therefore only very technically alive. Doublethink's a hell of a drug.

As for the rest: Tabitha hems and nods, thoughtfully looking off toward the door. No windows. That would rather defeat the point of privacy. She finishes tying off her sleeve, leaving it in a wide bow. "Let's not," she reminds him, "forget the Yevonites themselves. It is all too possible they are simply holding something in reserve against the Guard approaching their actual central holdings." ...ah, right, that First Class education does involve military history, huh. "The Guard is riding high. They sincerely believe Yevon is less than them."

She smiles, all straight, white teeth. "Which means that when the strike comes, they won't know what hit them."