Characters: Ekou, AerithLocation: Aerith's room in the seeecret lab.Summary: Ekou questions Aerith about the Planet, and Aerith is unnerved by his polite ways.Warnings: None.Ekou: He had spent the better part of the day sorting out the files dumped upon his office desk. Things had become busy over the past few days after the awakening of this laboratories major project. Before now it had been simply a time to wait, biding their time as they each went about their own business. Vital signs continually monitored around the clock for any unusual change within mental or physical occurrences. There had been no incidences though with either of the three subject clones, a fortunate event for the scientists involved in this project considering that failure was not an option. Now though even if the calm atmosphere remained, hidden within subtext was a flourish of activity as reports and tests came piling in to those in charge. Tawny coloured eyes peered down through the oval shaped spectacles upon his face, regarding the ever growing reports and observational notes strewn across his desk. A near-silent sigh slipped past his lips at the sheer volume of work which needed to be attended to, knowing that it would take hours before the task would come close to being completed. That was the only problem with obtaining promotions within the working environment, Ekou noted in slight defeat before glancing up to regard the time. There was still fifteen minutes before he was scheduled to meet with Subject A and the simple act of leaving earlier did nothing but temporarily release him from the bounds of paperwork waiting for him. Mind made up, he pushed himself out from his chair, donning his lab coat shortly afterwards before making his way out of his office.The paper work could be done at a later time and he was in much need of a walk. Both reasoning’s enough within his own mind as Ekou walked through the quiet stretches of hallways within the laboratory. He was shortly joined on either side by the military guards stationed just outside of his office doors, their silent presences following a few paces behind his own. Nothing was said between the trio, Ekou remaining quiet as he looked down to the clipboard held within his grasp. Out of the three cloned subjects, this particular one was currently the least of their concerns. The danger this one represented to the outpost as a whole minimal at best but it was the ability she held which was important to them and those of Shinra.Originally a child of the planet, Ekou had read up in great detail about this half-blooded Ancients trails upon the planet as she traveled around with the terrorist group known as AVALANCHE. Until of course her untimely demise within the fragile building in the Forgotten City. He had to admit to be rather eager to having this specific subject to study, her connections to the planet and the promise lands far too enticing to simply sit by twiddling his thumbs and not investigate. In time he held no doubt that answers would eventually be found for the President in regards to the promise Land he desired but until then, there were other matters which were of greater importance. Coming to a stop before a metallic titanium door, Ekou wasted no time in entering the pass-code into the keypad, unlocking the large barrier before it slid open with a near-silent hiss. The guards accompanying him were trained well enough to know not to enter the rooms and instead positioned themselves on either side of the doors. Entering the room, the door quietly closed behind him as he stopped just a few meters into the room itself. Tawny coloured eyes studied the brunette while he calmly spoke. "How are you feeling this morning?"Aerith: Aerith had scarcely moved around in the room, save from moving to the bed when she thought she should sleep. She was bored out of her mind. The dull color of the room was hurting her eyes. It was too clean, too sterile. Aerith was used to some kind of dirt around her, be it the dirt in her church, the air of Midgar, or the deck of the Highwind. Yet labs had always been too clean, too cold. Finding herself unable to sleep, Aerith pulled the sheet off of the bed and wrapped it around her. She was used to being examined as a child, but as a child she wasn’t very self-conscious. She wasn’t exactly that now, but she had matured over the years and well… there were some things you just didn’t flaunt about. Aerith found she felt better once she wasn’t completely naked. The more and more she thought about what these people may have done to her, the more and more nervous she got. So she returned to her spot across from the door, this time spreading out with her back on the floor. There wasn’t much of a difference between it and the stiff mattress on the bed. She fought the urge to talk to herself. When she was little, they would sometimes give her coloring books or something to keep herself amused. A book would have been nice. Even a pen and paper. Anything to keep her from dwelling on her existence.When the doors opened, she slowly sat up. Her eyes regarded the man with a slightly alarmed look before narrowing slightly. How was she feeling? Scared. Confused. Anxious. Cold. Frustrated. Angry. Disappointed. Lonely. It had been so long since she had felt such feelings at once that it ultimately left her numb. She doubted the man meant her emotions, though. Aerith closed her eyes and let out a quiet sigh. Perhaps if she answered his questions and acted polite, someone would find it in their heart to help her. Not all people working for Shinra were heartless. “I’m doing okay. I feel a little cold, though, and I have a little trouble feeling balanced when I walk. My eyesight was a little blurry before and my hearing fuzzy, but that seems to be clearing up,” she said, disgusted with herself for bowing down to these people. She looked at him now with a look of indifference. It was hard to muster up anything more than that, so she settled for it without struggling with herself. She remembered being an expert at feigning her expressions and emotions, but now it was a fight not to break down. “And you?”Ekou: Ekou regarded her thoughtfully while he waited the subjects reply, carefully watching for signs of reactions from the other as she thought quietly over his question. The initial look of alarm followed shortly by the narrowing of her green eyes was a reaction previously predicted, showing that there was a decent level of intelligence and recognition residing within this subject. Both positive reactions he was searching for, but not nearly enough of them to see the ultimate 'fruits of their labour' so to speak. A pleasant smile crossed his lips as he heard the sigh part her lips, the gesture no matter how slight gave him at least part of the answer he was searching for. The subject seemed to be resigned to her fate for the time being, yes, the sound emitted more than enough to indicate a form of defeat on her part. And though it did show a form of defeat, it once again displayed her intelligence. If she answered or not the result would have ended the same way no matter what. Although remaining defiant and silent only prolonged their solitude and isolation until they were deemed fit enough to interact with others. "Your balance will restore itself in time." Ekou murmured, his mind running through the rest of the information given to him before nodding his head, the smile never once leaving his lips. It was pleasing to see the majority of the cloning process set-backs were finally beginning to wear off of the subjects. The time needed was predicted a few days but each of the clones were physically different in many ways meaning their reactions were bound to be different as well. As her indifferent gaze landed on his own, his tawny eyes never once strayed and held fast. At her own question in reply, Ekou's tawny coloured eyes mirrored the friendly expression his lips displayed as he spoke. "Quite well thank you, a pleasant beginning to what will surely be another busy day." The clipboard within his hand came to rest up against his chest, a common gesture of his which he had to indicate that there would be no notes taken within this meeting. There was no need, the information he needed was easily enough to remember and jot down after their meeting had been completed. "I'm going to need to run a few tests upon you to properly gauge your mental growth." Ekou began explaining, moving to sit himself on the floor where he stood so then his eye level was around the same height as her own. There was no need to hold back such information, they were both well aware that this was the entire reason as to why he was here and he made no point in attempting to hide it. "I trust you have no problems with that?"Aerith: His smile unnerved Aerith and made her wish she had her materia or something she could throw at him. All she had was her sheet, and there was no way her hand was going to let go of it. She needed some sort of barrier between herself and him. “Oh,” was all she said in regard to his response about her balance, accompanied by a curt nod. She had assumed as much. Each movement she made felt awkward, like a newborn chocobo. She had never been graceful like Tifa or quick like Yuffie, but this was ridiculous. It was only made worse when the man sat down. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. She had never felt so utterly helpless before. And she knew that was what they wanted. She was at Shinra’s mercy. For now, that was. But even she couldn’t think of a way to get out of this mess. No weapons, no allies. Even if she somehow knocked him unconscious, there was no doubt security was near. A scientist she might be able to injure, but she was no match against anyone with training.Her eyes widened momentarily at the mention of tests. Of course. There was a slight bit of comfort: it would be on her mind, not her body. Talking. Aerith liked talking. She would have preferred better company, but she tried to keep positive. She was allowed to talk face to face with another human. She would try to make the best of it, even if it wouldn’t exactly be a warm conversation. “That’s fine,” she replied, as if she had a choice. She forced a quick, tight-lipped smile before it faded away. He seemed like a nice man. Maybe, just maybe, he would understand that this all was a big mistake. Ekou: He could tell that his presence was making her uncomfortable, which worked both for and against his purposes. If she didn’t feel comfortable than typically it would make things more difficult to gauge a proper reaction to his words, yet even this form of fear spoke of the type of persona this particular subject had. He had of course read up on her profile a few days earlier, his attempt to gain some background information on who he was set to assess. At the mention of ‘tests’ there was no way he could have missed the reaction given to him, the fear at the word before the tenseness within her body relaxed somewhat. Of course after her capture and containment by Hojo, this particular subject would be wary of being within a similar situation again. Either way though this subject would remain in their care until they were able to unlock the secrets from her race for the President. Ekou’s face remained calm and friendly, the expression one which often frequented his facial features no matter whose company he found himself within. Not that the subjects of Shinra’s cloning project had any choice in the matter, they had to be with his company having their entire personality observed properly before any further advancements to their regime could be altered. Crossing his legs beneath him, Ekou casually placed the clipboard along with the pen in his lap. The strained smile upon her pretty features didn’t remain long in his presence, her attempt at remaining upbeat within the situation failing her obviously. “I’d like for you to state your name first please.”Aerith: Aerith moved herself until her back was against the wall. It took considerable effort, and she supposed that her strength would come back soon (but not soon enough). Simply sitting up without any support for such a time had caused her back to protest. It hurt to show weakness in front of this man and however many more people were watching them. She had to admit; the man was proving to be disturbingly friendly so far. He was smiling, sitting down at her level, and if the situation were different, he wouldn’t have intimidated Aerith in the least. In fact, she probably wouldn’t even give him a second glance.“Aerith Gainsborough,” she replied softly. She knew he knew that. There were probably piles of her records somewhere around, and he probably had access to every piece of information about her life. It was no use to be sarcastic or difficult. It was a dance Aerith knew well. The same questions asked by different people working for Shinra. She wanted to try to start some little side conversation in order to distract him, but nothing came to mind. The fight in Aerith seemed to be gone, and it bothered her. Hopefully that would also return given time. She got the feeling she would have a lot of free time in her future. Ekou: From the slow movements of her body, Ekou could conclude that this particular subject’s recovery was distinctively slower than the other two. It was fortunate for them all though that this particular subject wouldn’t be needed to physically perform unlike the other two possessions, weapons personally created for Shinra’s use. Without the Jenova cells within this one’s system it seemed that the recovery of strength would take much longer. It would pass in time but until then, it was her mental recovery in which he was solely interested in. He was pleased when she actually responded with her name, and though it was such a simple question it wasn’t asked without purpose. Ekou of course had known of her name long before entering this particular holding cell, but it was a test to see exactly how quickly thoughts were being processed within her mind. How quickly his question was answered meant that at least this subjects mental recovery was on par with that of the other two projects. A very positive thing indeed.It’s a pleasure to meet you Aerith.” Ekou calmly said in reply, his tawny coloured eyes sharpened for a mere moment before returning to their usual contented appearance. There was definitely something slightly off about this particular subject, he could sense it in their entire demeanor. He doubted it was due to what latent fear directed towards scientists such as himself, but knew what ever it was he would figure out all in due time. Until then though, he needed to keep her talking if he were to accurately assess this subject’s mental growth. “Now if you could just tell me a little about yourself.”Aerith: She could feel him studying her. Over the years, she had forgotten the feeling of someone watching her every moment, not caring about her as a person but as a specimen. It was as if they were looking through her. Aerith carefully fixed the sheet around her. “A little about myself?” she echoed, caught off guard by the question. It was not something new, but she found it odd now that she had been dead for… a while. It seemed like such a broad question. It seemed so hard to answer Did she still like flowers? The color pink? After a few moments, she felt pressured and decided to say something, anything. Though it did seem rather redundant since everything she would say would be common knowledge to the man.“Well… I grew up in Midgar. I sold flowers to make money, and you’d be surprised at what kind of people stopped by the church to buy some, even when I was just there to relax,” she smiled faintly as she remembered. She hoped Cloud was taking care of it. Not that her flowers needed much tending in the first place. Aerith hoped he wasn’t still sleeping there…Snapping out of her reverie, Aerith’s smile turned apologetic as she looked at the scientist before her. “Sorry, it’s a very broad question. I’d end up rambling about things you already know about, and I’m sure that doesn’t make your job any more exiting.” She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “I remember what I used to like and dislike, though, if that’s what you need to find out.” Ekou: He waited patiently, sitting quietly upon the floor as he watched his subject ponder over his question. Once again it was asked with much more emphasis upon the subtext behind the words spoken. It was also a good opportunity though to see how the others memories have survived over the time spent within the lifestream and if a merging with a shell made of flesh had any ill-affect. They were in need of something to help go up against what was just around the corner. It was their hope that they’d be able to harness the power and connection to the planet this subject held and use it as a weapon against that fool Hojo. That man had begun this form of experimentation before the Meteor crisis but the notes that had remained on the topic were scattered, destroyed or ineffective for use. Still there was enough remaining that Liu and the others could base this project on some of those notes.Ekou found himself smiling in return as the subject began talking about her past, lost for that mere single moment in days gone by before she realised exactly where she was. At the apologetic smile he received, Ekou shook his head slightly as the smile remained upon his lips. “No need to apologise it’s quite alright.” It was good to see that it seemed the majority of her memories were in place if the subject could recall such fond memories without any difficulties. Certainly something he was pleased to see. “If you could just talk about your connection to the planet it would be greatly appreciated.” They were both aware that this is the reason as to what she’d been created for and the sooner they were able to gauge this subjects memories and connection now to the planet, the more effectively they can create their schedule.Aerith: Aerith tried not to be unnerved by his unwavering smile, but that was easier said than done. He was being too nice. Far too nice. Treating her almost like a person. She got the feeling that wasn’t a good thing, but mentally shook herself into continuing. Her smile took on the slightest wry edge before fading back into neutrality. Of course – everything came down to that, didn’t it? The Planet. What would they do, she imagined, if she said she couldn’t hear it? The idea brought a brief light to her eyes, but she quickly dismissed it. Then, they’d have no use for her and she would be discarded… or worse. Truth was her only hope.“I can hear the Planet… usually,” she said hesitantly, looking down at her hands folded in her lap. “I can tell how it feels. It was always a little vague, but once I became a part of the Lifestream, it was a lot clearer.” Her eyes narrowed, as if she were trying to look through a fog. The memories were clear, but they almost seemed hard to believe. “My consciousness was allowed to exist fully. I was able to see what was happening in Midgar.”She sighed. “Now it’s different. It’s very… disjointed. I can’t make out the Planet’s voice very well.” Aerith exhaled slowly again, able to hear muttering that sounded so very far off. Ekou: Her reaction to his words were predicted when it became knowledge of exactly what they would be needing this particular subject for, there was no point in dancing around the topic. There was a short pause as it seemed the subject was thinking over his question, whether it was because she was attempting to sense if they could still feel the planet or if the debate was something far more childish but not outside of human nature. They would get their answers either way and if this subject proved to be unable to contact the planet then they would simple have to attempt creating another one. But that was only a last resort situation. As she began speaking his tawny coloured eyes thoughtfully watched her every movement, pleased to see that she seemed to be honest with her words. It would definitely make things much easier for everyone involved in the long run if she continued to be cooperative in their research.It was interesting to hear about the subjects experiences within the lifestream itself, how she was able to keep her consciousness while all others seemed to be nothing but mass of consciousness. There was much to be studied still about the lifestream and the collective consciousness stored within it. It was going to take time to sort through all of the information and see if anything could be used but it was time they could afford at this stage of the game. The other two projects were bound to take the full attention of any who could pose a threat to their experimentation “I see.” Ekou eventually replied with as the soft exhale of her breath drifted past his hearing. How often did she or the planet attempt to speak with one another? Even if it seemed disjointed as she proclaimed now, if they connected with one another on a regular basis then there was a good chance then that the bond between the two could be strengthened over time. “And how often have you or the planet attempted to communicate with each other since your awakening?”Aerith: “Oh,” Aerith piped before she could delegate her actions, “… it’s kind of something I have to tune in. I don’t have to make a real effort to hear it… usually.” Usually. What was usual? She made note to stop using that word. “The voices are always there. It just depends on if I want to hear them or not. Just like a regular person – if I wanted, I could tune you out,” she said with a small, plain smile that didn’t provide any insight of what the girl was thinking, or showed how much she really wished she could do just that.Again, the smile faded. “I’ve tried to really focus a couple of times, but I just… can’t hear it… well,” She quickly added, her brows furrowing in confusion. “Do you think it’s like all of my other senses? That it’ll come back in time?”She hoped that was the case. She didn’t want to know what they would do to her if they couldn’t use her. What use was a Cetra that couldn’t hear the Planet?Ekou: He found himself chuckled softly at her words, the sound light and carefree as he noticed the attempt at humour. Well he thought it to be entertaining even if she meant the words to be a very veiled attempt of power within the conversation. They were both well aware of the situation though and Ekou truly was attempting to avoid any unpleasantness between them. “Quite an interesting aspect.” Ekou said, his eyes closing for the brief moment as they mirrored with the smile upon his lips. His sight returned to bring the subject back into view a moment later in time to see her own smile fade from her lips. So she was having difficulties connecting with the planet after the awakening? It could very well be a side affect of the reanimation process while the soul within the shell aligns itself properly with the host body. Of course there could be a barrage of other possibilities affecting this subjects ability to contact the planet but they were things which could be tested all in due time. The main thing was that the subject appeared to be able to make some form of contact with the planet, the rest could all be worked out later. “Without running any tests I believe it is a simple side effect which should subside over time.” Ekou said, knowing that soon enough they’ll be able to experiment on the subject and attempt to reconnect and strengthen the bond she held with the planet. “You will of course inform myself or one of the others if there is any improvement to your ability?” There was always the hope that this subject could prove cooperative on her own free will, Ekou thought as his tawny gaze thoughtfully watched the young woman before him. Although he guessed soon enough he’ll see if things were going to have to be done the easy way like he was aiming for, or if she proved to be uncooperative, the situation would have to be dealt in a more professional manner.Aerith: She nodded as he confirmed what she had thought to be true. Her body still felt… funny, but she would get used to it – there was no other option. At the moment, it wasn’t driving her crazy, but if it came to it… she’d find something to do. She pushed the thoughts out of her head and looked back at Ekou. Did he never stop smiling?“I will,” she nodded, though her mind was turning, trying to think of some plan to get what she wanted. “I don’t really have a choice in the matter, though.” Aerith had the feeling that if too much time passed without her talking to the Planet, Shinra would become impatient. And that was a very, very bad thing.She bit her bottom lip, wanting very much to plead and try to convince the man before her that all of this was a bad idea. The Planet couldn’t be pleased in the least. Instead, she asked, “Are there any more questions?”Ekou: Moving to stand up, the patted down the length of his lab coat, smoothing out the fine creases the material had obtained while he’d been sitting upon the floor. Holding the clipboard and pen with one hand by his side, Ekou’s hand came up to readjust the glasses on the bridge of his nose before focusing his full attention back upon the subject. He was pleased to see that she seemed to be continually cooperating with his questions, a more pleasant change of pace when in comparison to the previous project he’d taken time out to visit. “I believe that I’ll leave you in peace for the time being.” Ekou casually said in response to her question. He had more than enough information for the time being to easily gauge the subject’s mental growth for now and to access when they would be ready to be tested upon properly. So far he’d been more than pleased with the results he’d seen out of the two awakened projects and was looking forward to visiting the last upon the list. “I’ll have the guards bring you proper clothing to wear.”Walking over towards the titanium doors, his hand elegantly knocked upon the thick glass situated on the upper part shortly before they slid open allowing him exit. Without even a glance back, Ekou walked out of the room, his lab coat flowing behind him as he left. There was much to do when he returned back to his office, not to mention the meeting scheduled for the afternoon.
Damn, I love Aerith. She's so damn cute and open with people! *snugs her* And Ekou seems to be less of a manipulative ass when he gets the answers he wants. >.>