2019-10-26: A Dangerous Arrogance

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<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren was taken back to Solaris for processing before ultimately being to a room that by Lydia standards is the best room she has ever stayed in. Nevertheless, it is a boxy room with a bed and a television and a seperate room that functions as a shower and bathroom. It's not particularly heavily furnished or special by Solarian standards but Lydia honestly thought it was some kind of trick to lull her into complacency.

She doesn't really need a 'doctor' or a 'medic' or anything like that due to largely engaged in self repair but Lydia DID mention to Leah that she had something to give Loren of all people though she didn't say what it was and she didn't exactly come in here with any personal possessions.

Lydia doesn't have much space to move around just now either though it's suspected she'll be sent down to the surface to battle Odessa and check out ruins relevant to Solarian interests: Much of what Lydia would have been doing before (minus the fighting Odessa) but now, of course, she reports to Solaris!

But for now Lydia is poking at the television suspiciously with a finger and lookking through the channels with a suspicious look in her eyes. Leah was also kind enough to get some books arranged for her room here but for the moment she is being suspicious at a TV.

She may already be lost.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    The injuries hadn't been serious, in the scheme of things. Certainly, if he'd been left to fall into the lake beneath the temple or something, it would have been different. But the wounds weren't life threatening and the worst of it had been, frankly, coming down off the Drive and his Ether overuse.

    After the debriefing he'd been put on short leave anyway. And after that...

    He doesn't have his marching orders yet, so to speak. He's assuming Bledavik, since that's where he was stationed before any of this happened. It's really just a matter of time -- they're not going to keep him here.

    But before anything else gets to happen, he receives a notification from Leah. It's quite to the point. He's to check in on their newest... asset.

    That's all it says.

    He assumes this means medical, and so he has headed off to the suite, taking time only to pick up his typical kit.

    The first thing he notes is that this is pretty... plush for a captive. Probably because she's a pet project of 'his', he decides, glancing from the young woman to the... screen.

    "Are you even able to understand that?" he utters, before realizing she's probably still in that... mode. "...Never mind. Look, let's get this over with," he says, setting down the kit on the nearest table.

    She's not restrained. Maybe she doesn't need to be.
    He hopes that's the case, anyway. If he has a prisoner escape on him on his watch again he's just going to...

    He picks up the medical multi-tool and then simply... hesitates.

    "...You're not even biological anymore, are you. Ugh, why did she even ask me to do... an analysis... on..."

    He trails off.

    Leah didn't ask him to do anything except 'check in on her'. She didn't specify anything.

    Loren slumps over his opened kit, braced against the table by his arms alone. In another medium darkness might have colored this section of the room.

    I'm... really stupid.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I don't understand it," Lydia says. Using an 'I' means it's Lydia...right? "Oh I mean. I understand what they are saying now... But I don't really--" She pauses and suddenly hops up to her feet and looks towards Loren with wide eyes. Did...Did Leah actually let Loren know? She supposes she shouldn't be surprised. She seemed reasonable if...

...she elects to not dwell on the 'if' part right now.

On the plus side, Lydia doesn't try to escape. Maybe she doesn't need to be. Of course, considering the control that 'he' has over her, maybe she doesn't even want to be rescued right now though admittedly that kind of high level thinking isn't what Lydia is known for most times.

"R..right, let's... get it over with." She doesn't head towards the table, though, instead her chest worbles into a liquid state before expelling a tablet into Lydia's hands. She flicks off the stray goop and looks back towards Loren who is ...

...slumped over in darkness and looks like he's really freaking depressed.

She knew it! Loren is in despair!! Probably because of the ads!!!

"Uh..." She offers the tablet to Loren. "I just uh. I know you wanted this. And uh. I guess I didn't really need it after all so... I actually feel bad about keeping something like this away from you now that I uh... know why you wanted it. So."

Wait why is she being embarrassed to someone working with her kidnappers??

Well, it's not like LOREN kidnapped her, she reasons to herself.

"Anyway, um, yeah. Did Leah not say why I wanted to see you?" She glances to the side briefly. "...I guess she likes pranks...?"

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He gets a moment to regard her in a manner that seems ever-so-slightly bemused. "Hey, didn't you get your personality rewritten or..."
    He had been dealing with his own end of the battle back in the temple -- and hopped up on Drive -- to be too much able to have processed what happened then particularly well.
    "...or not. Huh."

    Maybe he should finish going through his paperwork. There is an absolute mountain of it, even now...
    But he just hadn't had the capacity to deal with it right away. Instead, he'd spent most of his days off sleeping.

    But this now just means that he's in a situation that he is neither certain nor uncertain should even be happening. Should he report this? Or would that just mean that he'd get into trouble for not being completely up-to-date?

    The situation is put into a grim (??) focus when Lydia approaches him and says it's time to get this over with.

    Get what over with?! a part of him screams as he very abruptly rights himself from his despairing slump over the table and rounds back towards her. "Wait, what are you--"

    Yeah. She just pulled a tablet computer out of her chest. "uh," he starts, then adds, in a distant, 'my world has tilted' sort of way, "...you don't have weapons in there too, do you?"

    Why is Leah having him do this again? Is this some sort of...

    Then he takes another look at the tablet. The tablet that seems decidedly battered in a very particular way.

    "...This is from the mines," he says, finally clambering aboard a bit of flotsam of sense in a universe that otherwise seems intent on being otherwise. "You read it? ...Why are you giving it back?"

    she just said why, loren

    His hands close around the tablet. He... thinks he knows what it's going to say. But.
    But it's the closure, perhaps, that really matters. In a strange, bizarre way.

    At least that embarrassment is, in a sense, fairly universally spread among current company.

    "She just said I should see you," he says at last, lifting his gaze from the tablet. "...That's all." His gaze then averts from Lydia. Does she like pranks? "...Not really."

    Well, sometimes. Or she did, once, a little bit. But they'd mostly been targeted on his brother.

    "I just assumed. That's all."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Was it rewritten? And it just...rewrote itself back? She wonders why her own identity still exists in the first place, hearing Loren put it like that. It really makes her think about it. But... nah, she ... she really doesn't want to dwell on that. Even if it might be important, she worries if she thinks about it too hard 'OS' will decide it doesn't really need a Lydia and destroy her for good.

"Uh. Well..." She says. "I'm not sure why but maybe that's just for uh--Krelian, maybe? Or missions? Either way I get it--I step too far out of line and 'boop' I'm not me anymore."

She seems more embarrassed than horrified that she just took an object out of her chest to give it to someone but maybe Lydia's just kind of over the weirdness of it by now. "Oh yeah, sure, I can weapon up. I guess it likes stabbing implements though." She pauses and realizes Loren might have another reason for asking. "I'm not going to stab you!"

For a few reasons, really, but the one she offers is, "I mean stabbing someone you are trying to apologize to is pretty shitty."

Plus Leah kind of scares her and she doesn't want to imagine how she'd react if Loren got stabbed because she tried to do Lydia a favor or--whatever she was doing here.

"But yeah. It's from the mines. I didn't know why you wanted it so bad at the time, but I get it now, so..."

That... definitely feels kind of like a prank, Lydia reflects, but she supposes that Loren would know this Leah lady better than she does. ... though now that she has given the tablet over...

"Anyway you saved my life once so giving that back is fine, right? Plus you like astronomy too. Or did?" She wonders if it was for the same reason she liked it.

The idea of an 'Escape'.

She opens her mouth again but just clamps it shut. She imagines she'll just keep blabbing on forever if she isn't careful.

"I guess technically speaking though it's less that the weapons are inside me and more that, uh, I'm...the weapon?"

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Frankly, it makes about as much sense as anything else.

    If you learn one thing about Solaris' intrigues -- and in particular, anything whatsoever that has to do with the ministries -- it's this:
    You don't get involved. Certainly not if you don't have to, and absolutely not if you want to continue to do things like 'breathe'.

    Even among the elect, somethings people vanish because they have learned something they shouldn't have. No one talks about this. Everyone knows about it all the same.

    In fact, Leah...

    There a number of reasons why Loren ejects out of this line of conversation with a simple, "Sure. Probably."

    The walls in Solaris have ears, particularly in the suites of a project of interest of the true puppetmaster of the government.
    This is another thing those of the First Class all know and no one ever talks about.
    Much.

    And then Lydia goes and makes matters worse when he asks if she has anything else tucked away 'in there' and mentions that she's capable of 'weaponing up'.
    He hadn't even thought about that.

    "...Oh good," he replies flatly. "Just what I need."

    At least the security in here is such that even if she did decide to, say, nail him to the wall, he probably wouldn't bleed out. This is not particularly comforting, as thoughts go.

    ...Aren't you a First Class citizen? he argues with himself, despite the rather obvious answer to that thought being that a flesh wound is still a flesh wound.

    Even if Lydia follows it up with her saying that she's not going to do that at all.

    "Oh, good. Just the reassurance I always wanted. Today, I'm not going to get stabbed."

    Why is this his life.

    The tablet, at least, interjects a more serious mood onto the young man.

    "..."

    He'd known Auda -- one of the dead soldiers. It's not like they were friends. In fact, she was one of the ones who particularly made his life unpleasant. But...

    Frankly, he deserved it. After all, Loren is the one who caused that accident, and he...

    He blinks, then shakes his head. He'd killed her sister? But her sister was his brother's age. He can't remember. Was she one of the instructors?

    He lifts his gaze to look at Lydia.

    "'Saved your life'? So that's why?"
    He doesn't remember when he did that.
    "...You're weird," he tells her, to her face. "All of you are strange."

    'All of you'?

    "...And what's astronomy have to do with anything?"

    These days, it would be escape -- if it were even possible. If there were anywhere at all to go. If the universe weren't empty and vast and cold.

    But back then...

    His shoulders slouch. He turns to set down the tablet on the table.

    "...So is that it? That's what you came to see me for?" He shakes his head. "I wonder if she already knew..."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia has heard about the walls having ears but it also occured to her that if her eyes are really their eyes, it's probable that no matter WHAT she does anywhere she'll be heard by someone. Maybe they can even read her mind. Surely it'd be more suspicious if she wasn't being kind of ornery right now.

Lydia frowns at Loren's sarcasm. "Did... Did you want me to be unclear about whether I would stab you or not? aghh... people are so confusing." She steps away and paces around the room. She's getting a little stir crazy being stuck in this place but, well, that's probably the idea.

"It's not like I'm going to stab you tommorow either. Geeze..." She grumbles.

She remains completely oblivious to Loren's own memory issues but she says, "Yeah. I would've probably offed myself if you didn't snap me out of it. I think it was some kind of magical despair trap?"

She frowns. "Though maybe now that I think about it, I probably couldn't have offed myself back then anyway...? But well, you stopped me from trying."

She is then called weird. She blinks. "Yeah I know." Blink. "That's why you guys took me and did this to me in the first place. Are you normal? Aren't you special blonde elite? I was told blonde people are treated better here."

She crouches down by the books and picks up one and shows it to Loren, it's a pretty basic Astronomy Guide by Solarian standards. "I like it too, remember? Though..." She frowns.

She cuts that line of thought off to add instead, "Nah I just mentioned I had something to give you. But--yeah that's what I wanted to give you. Y'know. Since we're coworkers now." She pauses. "Maybe I should have assured her it wasn't a stabbing too."

She shrugs a bit and adds, "You seem like the same guy as you were on the surface... I think Leah called that sort of thing dangerous arrogance that some 'Gazels?' fall into? But I'm glad at least someone was being real."

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "What?" He draws back from her a touch. "Of course not! Just... just don't tell me things like that, okay? I've had enough of..."

    He trails out, averting his gaze as she peels away to wander the room. Slowly, he tilts his left hand palm-up and gazes down at it. Even in the last fight. If he hadn't been on Drive, probably, he would have lost his hand grabbing the sword.
    But if he hadn't been on Drive, he probably wouldn't have tried that to begin with.

    Probably would have been run through again.

    He clenches his hand into a fist and grits his teeth and only after a few seconds opens his hand and hisses out a breath.

    I'm really...

    He glances over at her. Despair trap?

    It takes him a moment. Then, he remembers.
    He hasn't forgotten a thing like that yet.

    "...Stupid," he mutters. "It probably wouldn't have even..."

    As she voices the same thing. It wouldn't have led to her own death, anyway.

    "If you're going to get yourself killed," he picks up after a moment more, "you may as well make some good out of it."

    He just stares at Lydia for a long moment. "Of course I'm normal." Pause. "Blond? --It has nothing to do with hair color, there's plenty of people in Second and Third who are blond, not to mention surfacedwellers..." He trails out, then shakes his head. "...Why am I even talking about this with you? It's got nothing to do with you."

    It is true that most people in First Class are blond, pale, and blue-eyed, but that's...
    Frankly, it's probably because after five hundred years, even with management from the ministry of health, they still have a particularly small genepool. Oops.
    But it's also why someone who looks like Elly -- wrong shade of blue, wrong shade of pale, red hair -- stands out so much.

    His gaze spiders over to the book when she lifts it up.

    His gaze widens, just a touch. "I remember that one. I think that's the latest edition. Mine was edition... why am I telling you this?" he cuts himself off with, shaking his head. "It's not like it matters."

    She says that all she'd said to Leah was that there was something she wanted to give him. He considers this for a moment.

    "If you actually wanted to stab me, she'd probably already know," he says.

    She knows a lot of things that she shouldn't, normally. Thinking that she would misread a weapon of war as direct as Lydia is...

    "Which I guess also assumes whether or not you could stab me." His shoulders slouch. "...I do not want to test that."

    Great. Is he even getting dinged on his acting ability? "I'm a medical officer and soldier, not an actor," he snaps, frowning. "It's gotten me this far among you Lambs. If it weren't for things going the way they have, I don't think any of you would have even realized."

    Dangerous arrogance.

    That sentiment... sounds like Leah.

    But she's glad, huh. "Hmph. Think whatever you want. It wasn't for your sake."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Oh sorry. Yeah. I guess... Yeah. Sorry. I'm nervous." Lydia manages. "I babble when I'm nervous." She babbles a lot but that just means, well, she is pretty much some low level key anxious.

Ivan had told her that it'd be lonely if she just hung out with herself the whole time here. Even if she never really expected to be friends, she figured Loren out of all of the ones she knew about--well, he seemed to be the most out of his depth, really, and she kind of relates to that?

Nevertheless, maybe for Solaris relating to others is less important than on Filgaia's surface.

"Yeah, but well, who knows? Probably would've been really unpleasant at least? And it's not like you or I knew the truth then."

If you're going to get yourself killed, you may as well make some good out of it.

"Yeah I don't really know much about the Class System. Or I didn't? I just knew all the people who took me looked like you so I was pretty cagey around people who looked like you." There were SOME exceptions, but well it's hard to imagine Riesenlied as a secret Solarian here.

"Though really it's--ahh nevermind."

Loren doesn't need more stress in his life, Lydia thinks, and then she thinks how ridiculous she is thinking that when she's the prisoner here. But somehow he still seems more on edge than she feels right now. Maybe that's also OS's doing. She sets aside that thought.

"Well it matters to me. I don't know anybody else who cared about astronomy. Maybe if I went to a real school. I wonder... if there's still some room for my dream there one day."

She frowns a bit and adds, "Well yeah true. And--yeah, I know."

She steps back towards the tv and sits down on it like it's some sort of chair.

"But--well--I guess I would've expected a first class citizen going like 'no I'm super elite' isn't that how it's suppposed to work? It is a little weird that you're calling yourself normal, isn't it? Though I guess everybody knows now...I wonder if that'd get you in trouble." She considers her mother. "...They might just pout a lot and make sad faces though..."

She swings her legs back and forth. Lambs, she thinks, well she's been called worse things here.

"Did you want to escape too?" She wonders aloud. "Not Solaris I mean, just... everything, I guess."

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    So that's why. Of course if Krelian's using any researchers, he's using First Class -- probably old classmates of his dad's, in the research program, before they went into different tracks. His dad had really been someone once.
    Grief, in the next heartbeat, nearly makes his throat close. He swallows, hard, trying to pull back from the brink.

    "Guess so," he croaks in response once he feels like he can speak, then swallows again. Fortunately, the conversation drifts from there...

    She wonders if there's room for her dream.

    "Not here." He pauses. "Not for you."

    Not for him, either. He discarded that dream a long time ago.
    Solaris has no interest in the stars. Their destiny is here.

    His father had eventually had to tell him that, back when he was still considering his options as a child. Back before he'd made up his mind.
    Maybe that was one reason why. One reason, on top of all the others. Because what he wanted was impossible. Because of what was expected of him. Because of who he wanted to be. Because of who he had looked up to. Because he wanted to be better, stronger, cooler.

    So he'd fought against the current, and for his troubles, nearly drowned in it.

    Because he's not...

    He glances back at her, at where she's perched, and just about makes a comment on that state of things. But she speaks up.

    He just stares at her for a moment. Both of his hands curl into fists at his sides. He does not breathe, not at first.

    "...Normal for First Class, of course. What are you, an idiot?" he snaps back at her, unkindly. "I'm-- the product of generations of refinement and selection, you understand," he adds, drawing himself up.

    And he feels again like a child putting on his father's coat and pretending to play the part of an adult. Van Houten's an abberation and a traitor. DeVriese is First by promotion and her origin. Maybe Leah and his brother weren't Element material but they were damn close.

    But he...

    They'd funneled him off towards support. Even before the accident, they'd set him up to work on the sidelines. Like they knew, maybe.

    He's always been coming in second. Third. Or not even that. He's First Class -- it should be his birthright. But whatever it is he tries...

    His head is buzzing. It feels like he's up too high and he's not getting enough air. Into this framework, Lydia continues to push.

    "I don't care," he says, when she comments that everyone knows. That it might get him into trouble.

    "They can't... do anything to me." Nothing worse than what's already come.

    And then she asks him the big one: did he want to escape?

    "..."

    "...Once," he answers, at significant length. "But not when I was a kid."

    Because he'd killed them all.

    He'd killed his own classmates.

    But there's no such thing as running away from your own sins. At some point, the bill comes, and you must pay in full.

    In a few weeks, he'll be twenty-one. The same age as when his brother died.

    He doesn't remember how that happened, he thinks, and not for the first time. It feels like he's teetering on the brink.

    He has to brace himself against the table a moment, trying to keep his bearings. It's still overwhelming.

    He takes a breath. He psychologically heaves himself up onto dry land. And he stares her down.

    Or more accurately, stares through her.

    "...I'm done here. If there's something else you want, then just get it over with and say it," he says, as if dropping into a routine himself. "If you were expecting a thank you or something for the tablet... you should keep on waiting."

    This is better. He's feeling better. Little steps. Little breaths. He turns, packing up his kit. Collecting the tablet.

    Holding these against his chest he gazes at her for a long moment, as if studying her. He says nothing more.

    At length he then turns away and heads to exit the room.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Yeah of course I'm an idiot!" Lydia snaps back. "I figured that was pretty obvious by now!"

She quiets down. "...Why do you think I'm asking so many questions anyway? How else am I gonna stop being an idiot? I toldja I didn't go to school!"

She calms down quickly. No happy ending. Not for her. No escape either. But...

...does she even still want that, she wonders. Maybe it's ok to fail at a dream you don't care about as much anymore.

Escape. There's no escape. But...

maybe...

But even though she's now a self-admitted idiot she can tell Loren is not well. She isn't especially empathetic either but she can tell something is off about the guy. She can't tell if it's normal or because of her questions but she gets quiet pretty quick. Is it an anxiety attack, she wonders. Do First Class Solarians get that too?

Dangerous arrogance. What happens when that meets surface resilience? Well.

...Well...

Loren asks her if there's anything else she wanted. "Sorry. Just the tablet. And I guess some talking. Sorry. Thanks."

She doesn't get a thank you. He seems to be recovering and stepping away. He wanted to escape once and yet, perhaps, not anymore?

But honestly he kind of looked like someone who really did want to escape in that moment there.

It's after Loren leaves and Lydia sits back on the bed--

--the color fades from her hair, and they look towards the room's exit.

"This world's end...Will you accept your place in it...?"