Nausikaa, Charlie

Stories of the those from House Dragoon Talanador, the Company of the Dragon and the Tavern itself.

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Alain DeMuer
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Nausikaa, Charlie

Post by Alain DeMuer » Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:39 pm

Deep in the heart of the Old Market District on a narrow unassuming cobbled-stoned street lay the home of the House of Retribution sandwiched inconspicuously between a charm vendor and a popular massage therapist. Part charity, part security and private investigation firm, for five years, it had been the RhyDin headquarters of the former "Assassin of Abruzzo" but for the past two months it stood vacant.

Vacant, that is, except for the demure bespectacled woman sitting behind the receptionist desk. Her paychecks had stopped coming. Her job mainly consisted of explaining to clients that the owner was not in town. Yet, every day she arrived to sit behind her desk. She would blame it on habit to her friends who would urge her to start looking for a new job but, in all honesty, Eleanor Spade felt permanently attached to the building and its owner.

Alain DeMuer arrived at the office shortly after he was summoned, though not immediately: communications were frequently monitored by hostile parties, and he would betray no sense of urgency if he could help it. In fact he made his way down the cobble-stoned way at what appeared to be a casual stroll, the best way to disguise the fact that he was limping. His right arm was back out of its sling, but for now he kept that hand in his pocket or hitched into a belt loop almost constantly. He knocked on the door with the back of his left hand, rapping three times with his knuckles.

His gaze turned thoughtful at the building in front of him, and what awaited him beyond the door. It had been a long time.

The door was swung open with the twinkling of the bell hanging there as a vestige of a time when the building wasn't locked and clients were welcomed rather than hurried off. Eleanor recognized the man she'd sent for. After all, he was in the papers quite frequently. She swung the door open wider for him, motioning him within and, in particular, to a chair positioned in front of her desk. "Baron, I'm glad you came."

Alain smiled faintly at the welcome. "Thanks," he replied, and proceeded inside, and straight to the chair, taking a look around as he went. What had changed, what hadn't... It was hard to dig up the old memories, but the silence and emptiness of this place struck him.

Eleanor dropped into the chair behind her desk, peeling off her reading glasses to set the down on the desk. She tried to gain courage for the conversation ahead but doubt as to whether or not bringing in Alain was the correct course of action remained. "I know you are a busy man so I'm not going to waste your time. Charlie did not ask you to come here. I did."

Alain dipped his head to set a cigarillo between his teeth and light it, but kept his eyes on Eleanor as he did. It didn't occur to him to ask permission, not here. This was a private investigator's office, in RhyDin no less, and he made certain assumptions based on his own experiences.

"And why is that?" came the smoky reply.

Lying for Eleanor did not come naturally so she shoved right through the confession about forging a note from her boss and moved into more truth. "About six months ago, Charlie began selling off everything she owns here in RhyDin. The large house in Seaside, a stake in a gambling facility in WestEnd. She wouldn't explain why. She just said she needed liquid capital. All she kept was this building and a small cabin outside the city. Something was going on but she wasn't using her normal resources to look into it.

"Then, shortly after the incident with Miss Ramirez's boyfriend, she said that she had to leave on a personal matter. Zach, the child she is a guardian to, was sent to stay with the regent of Talsiny and his family. I was not to tell Miss Ramirez or Mrs. Simon anything should they ask and the same with Mr. Talanador. She told me she would be back in two weeks. That was two months ago."

Alain maintained his silence, letting smoke trail towards the ceiling as he watched her, assuming she had more to add.

Her eyes dipped to the folder before her. With the anxiety of not knowing where her employer was or where this month's rent would be coming from, Eleanor had fallen back on her old friend, organization, to help her get through the trial. Therefore, the file was labeled "Nausikaa, Charlie." She pushed it across the desk towards him. Maybe if she appeared as professional as possible, he would not realize how desperately in over her head that she was.

"At first I was going to wait for Tareth to come back into town but Mrs. Simon has been asking questions and she's a very difficult person to lie to so I started asking around a couple weeks ago," Eleanor continued, briefing him on the folder's contents. "I still can't figure out what her goal was. It doesn't seem that she told anyone but what I do know is that Charlie was arrested by the the Liberated Republic of Grannis on the charges of caption and asportation of personal property as well as attempted murder."

"Communists?" Alain asked as he thumbed through the contents of the folder one-handed, resting it on the edge of the desk to make the task easier. Some of these names were familiar, and thin lines formed on his brow as thoughts whirred away inside his head.

Eleanor nodded to acknowledge that the country was indeed communist but lifted a shoulder into a shrug. "As you know, Baron, Charlie is hardly a freedom fighter. Her goals tend to be... smaller in nature, more concrete. I doubt what she was up to there had anything to do with their politics. Yet, as is the case with such countries, few details have been released as to the nature of the crimes. I do know, however, that she is being kept at the Hollymeade Prison and Reprogramming Center in the West District."

"I've heard of it," he conceded carefully, looking up again. The folder was left on the edge of the desk, and the cigarillo drawn away with his left hand, tapping it over an ashtray. "What have you found out about the place?"

"Very little, unfortunately." Eleanor wrung her hands with the knowledge of what she did know. She hesitated before continuing forward. "It's for criminals they feel have no chance at being rehabilitated into normal society."

Alain's face hardened suddenly, as a few pieces of information clicked with what she had just provided. He put out his cigarillo and reached for the folder to tuck it under his arm: "I'll be needing this, if you don't mind."

Eleanor gave a nod of her head, readily giving up the folder and the responsibility to someone more capable than herself. She folded her hands and laid them down on her now bare desk. "I wish I had something to offer in exchange for your help. I know you and Charlie have been on the opposite sides of things in the past and that her sense of justice might be a bit more gray than you would prefer but there are a lot of people who rely on her and need her back here. I count myself among them and not just because her pay checks keep my cat fed."

He was on his way out when her words stopped him, gave him some pause, and he silently cursed his conscience. He looked over his shoulder, considered for another moment, and said, "Until she gets back... SPI does have some old paperwork I'd like reorganized under a new classification system. No benefits, but it's something we need done, and money in your pocket until your boss comes home. We could send the boxes to you here."

The offer ate at Eleanor's pride but she couldn't help but admit that the help was needed. Greasing the palms necessary to get the information that Alain now held in his hands had taken every penny of her savings. She gave a nod to accept the offer. "Thank you for everything."

Alain gave a small nod to that, and offered a simple "take care" in parting. He either didn't care or seemed to forget that the limp showed, striding far quicker out the door than how he'd come in. Charlie was an old friend, but a friend all the same, and if he wanted to save her? He'd have to move fast, no matter how hard it hurt.

((Adapted from a scene with the player behind Eleanor Spade. Cross-posted here.))
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Charlie Nausikaa
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Post by Charlie Nausikaa » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:43 am

The lobby of the Hollymeade Prison and Reprogramming Center in the heart of the West District of Liberated Republic of Grannis was unlike any prison that Vrashne’s Van Pashkir, Prince of Ja’ir had ever stepped foot in. The glossy white marble floors which had been brought cross country gleamed as if newly built rather than a couple dozen years old and the great round columns too large for a grown man to wrap his arms around soared overhead to support the intricately tiled rotunda many stories overheard.

There was not a prisoner nor guard in sight here in the administration building. It could have been any other grand governmental building with sharp dressed men and women hurrying from place-to-place and sunny smiles stuck on the perpetually perky receptionists’ faces. It was hard to imagine that the worst of the nation-state’s criminals were housed on these grounds.

“Welcome, Your Highness, to the Hollymeade Prison and Reprogramming Center,” the gray-haired woman in a lab coat announced full of pride to Van Pashkir was she reached out a hand to give his a brisk, firm shake. “I am Elin. Our Director was most happy to hear of Vrashne’s interest in our ongoing reprogramming project. Your timing is excellent. We are actually preparing a prisoner for an objective now.”

Pashkir’s lips split into a warm smile and he bowed his head slightly to acknowledge his eagerness. “How fortunate! I have heard rumors of the results of this program and I am grateful for the opportunity to see it for myself. The building and grounds are stunning.”

“Yes, yes, indeed. As I’m sure you noticed when you arrived, Hollymeade is set-up in a campus-style format. We’re almost completely self-sufficient here even down to growing our own food,” Elin explained as she ushered Pashkir towards a door leading out of the lobby and into the central courtyard where brick pathways cut through the neatly manicured campus, leading from one artfully designed building to the next.

Only now did Pashkir see guards -- smartly dressed in military uniforms -- briskly walking from one building to the next. Yet, there still wasn’t a single prisoner in sight.

“How many prisoners are housed here?” Pashkir asked.

“Approximately five dozen,” Elin answered as her pristine white lab coat fluttered in the light breeze as she swept down the path at his side. “I know that must seem like terribly few to you but this is not an ordinary prison. In fact, I feel our tour would be best started in the building that houses the dozen that are part of the project you are here to see. We call it Project Redirection.”

They approached a great stucco building with windowless walls far thicker than those of the administrative building. A guard swung the heavy wooden door open so that the pair may step through the arched doorway into the dim building. There inset over the door was a single tile that caught Pashkir’s eyes -- a skull over crossed bones. He’d seen such a symbol before above a cell in a Dalibad prison used to house those unfortunate souls sentenced to death.

Despite the warm summer afternoon, a chill crept up his spine as he followed Elin into the dark depths of the building.
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Charlie Nausikaa
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Post by Charlie Nausikaa » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:32 pm

The smell of unwashed humans and feces radiating from within the building slammed into Van Pashkir causing his stomach to twist violently as he stepped within the dimly lit prison. He exhaled the odor from his nostrils, leaving his lungs without air. They burned for lack of oxygen after several moments and there was nothing he could do but inhale again. He fought with his stomach and eventually overcame its rebellion. Elin seemed oblivious to both the smell and the conditions. Her eyes never even seemed to need a moment to adjust to the dim light.

As the Prince’s eyes adjusted he realized that he was surrounded on either side by barred cells. Each one was barren save a cot with a flea infested blanket, a bucket seeping excrement, and a set of glaring eyes belonging to a rag-clad prisoner. Pashkir pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket and drew it to his nose, inhaling the rich tea scent that his valet always made sure the laundress dabbed them with.

Elin continued, motioning to the cells on either side and their inhabitants. Unconcerned by the wretchedness of the place, there was even a note of pride in the scientist’s tone. “Most criminals can abide by rules and laws to some degree. Sometimes they can be rehabilitated and be reintegrated into society. Sometimes they cannot be trusted to be productive citizens but can abide by the rules of a more traditional prison setting. In very rare cases, there are those violent, evil individuals who cannot even be trusted in a prison setting. I urge you not to look at those housed here as people. They are, instead, much more like violent, unruly animals. They do not understand how to be functioning members of any community.”

The thin metal bars between him and these killers seemed inadequate protection. The pair of uninterested guards in the building were positioned at either end of the hallway and rarely even looked in Elin and Pashkir’s direction as he and his guide proceeded past one nefarious criminal after another. He pulled the handkerchief away from his mouth long enough to pose a question of his tour guide. “There are no fences around this complex and few guards. If these criminals are so dangerous why is security so lax?”

A smile flickered across Elin’s face at the question as if pleased with Pashkir’s interest as she slowed her pace before a cell door where a sign affixed over it indicated that “Moretti, Mateo” was housed within. The figure that Pashkir assumed was Mr. Moretti was buried within the confines of his mangy blanket facing the wall behind so as not to have to look at the gawking pair on the other side of the bars. A pair of boots stuck out from one end of the blanket and wiry dark disheveled hair was all that could be seen from his upper half.

“Prisoner Moretti was arrested and convicted of six counts of murder and then committed one more while in a general population prison,” Elin began grimly. Her words did not even cause the prone man to stir. If it weren't for the rise and the fall of the blanket with Mr. Moretti's breathing, Pashkir would have wondered if her were still alive. “He is clearly not a man that will ever be eligible for release. He needs to be controlled. What were do here at Hollymeade in Project Redirection is use a combination of drugs and a neural device to make them more willing to obey our commands and, if they do not, we can also use the neural device to stimulate an intense blast of pain. Rarely is that necessary, though. The device and the drugs makes it difficult for them to rebel against our commands.”

The Prince arched a brow and his dark eyes narrowed as he followed along. “How does this technology work?”

A wide, apologetic smile crossed Elin’s lips as she shifted her gaze back to Van Pashkir. Her tone was exceedingly polite as she shook her head at the question. “I’m afraid that I am not authorized to answer that, Your Highness. However, I have been instructed by my government to reassure you that we would be more than willing to share Project ReDirection with you should our countries work out some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement.”

“Of course, of course.” Pashkir gave a knowing nod and, with a sweeping gesture of the handkerchief, motioned for her to continue on with the tour.

Elin’s heels clipped against the cobblestone floor -- a short staccato beat that echoed off the similar dull gray cobblestone walls of each cell. The noise seemed louder than it should. It was then that Pashkir realized that none of the prisoners they had passed had spoken. They had walked halfway through the building and besides the occasional grunt, he’d heard little else. It was quite different than the lively prison wards of Vrashne where someone was always complaining about the conditions or proclaiming their innocence.

“I have not heard a single word,” Pashkir stated curiously.

“The purpose of the combination of drug therapy and the neural inhibitor is to make it difficult for the prisoners to form intent on their own. We attempt to limit their own desires to biological necessities only and supplant our wishes into them so firmly that they have no choice but to follow our orders. They are compelled to do so. There is no need for them to speak unless we desire them to do so,” Elin answered, careful to politely respond to the question in Pashkir’s statements without giving away Hollymeade’s secrets.

“This may seem extreme, Your Highness, but, you must understand, these are the worst of the worst. These are criminals who should never see the light of day. If we were any other nation, we would put them to death. However, our Director has helped us to discover the technology so that something positive may come of their lives. These prisoners have taken so much from society. Project ReDirection makes them give a bit back to it.” Elin’s monologue was practiced and brimming with self-congratulation. She was not just repeating rhetoric. She truly believed in the program’s results.

Dull, glazed over eyes followed the path of the pair down the center hall. Each prisoner seemed more unoccupied than the last. In fact, they almost did not appear human. It was easy to see them as the animals that Elin encouraged him to.

Unlike the previous eleven, the final cell before the rear exit of the building was empty. Pashkir’s gaze flicked upward to the sign over the door. “Nausikaa, Charlie”, it read in bold black letters.

A sharp intake of air was taken before he trained his voice into a casual tone. “Where is the prisoner that occupies this cell?” he asked absently.

Elin shot him a quick smile as the guard on this far end of the hallway opened the rear exit, letting daylight and fresh air rush in to greet them. “We are preparing that prisoner for an objective. Right this way.The Preparation Room is in the Research and Development building.”
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Charlie Nausikaa
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Post by Charlie Nausikaa » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:55 pm

After the repulsive walk through the prisoners’ housing, Clinton Hall, the research and development building, was a welcome respite. Although not as overblown as the lobby of the administration building, the entrance of Clinton Hall was also trimmed in the same opalescent marble. Yet, even that extravagance gave way to a more efficient landscape as soon as they passed through security and entered the back hallways.

Elin navigated them expertly with her ever present smile and ready commentary on the many benefits of Project ReDirection. Van Pashkir felt swept along with the tide, having continually having to remind himself of the program’s perverse morality so as not to fall increasingly enchanted by her sales pitch.

“I’m sure you have heard rumors of the results of the Project.” Elin’s tone became more subdued and forthcoming after Elin flashed her badge past a security card reader and they slipped past the door marked “Project ReDirection”. She continued after receiving an interested nod from Pashkir. “As I mentioned, the true purpose of our project is to use these violent criminals to put their talents to good use. They are killers and, therefore, we use them to eliminate threats to our state. Enemies of the state are identified and as our prisoners are highly suggestible to the commands of our scientists, we can instruct them to eliminate the threat. Therefore, the state does not have to risk its soldiers on such delicate and dangerous missions.”

They had passed scientists in white lab coats and suited men and women but the guard at the end of the hall was the first Pashkir had seen within this building. He gave a brisk nod to Elin before opening the door for the pair.

A pair of Elin’s colleagues and three more guards were already present. The guards lined the back wall while the lab coats studied the notes before them from their seats before a mirrored glass wall. Pashkir felt his breath catch as he caught sight of the woman on the other side of the glass. She sat unmoving in a chair in the center of the room which was barren save for the woman and her metal chair. Her chin hung low and bedraggled blonde hair hung in her face if it wasn’t for the uneven rise and fall of her chest she could easily pass off as unconscious... or worse.

“This is Charlie Nausikaa. She is our sole female prisoner,” Elin stated, making a sweeping gesture towards the woman beyond the mirrored glass. “As I said earlier, we use a combination of drug therapy and neural device to not only ensure that she follows our orders but also to fine tune her into an effective tool against enemies of the state. Think of them as... enhancements so to speak.”

Pashkir nodded as he took a step closer to the glass, clasping his hands behind his back. Elin snapped her fingers and pointed towards two of the guards lining the wall. Pashkir glanced over his shoulder in time to see the men exchange uneasy glances. Their batons were removed from their utility belts and one and then the other stepped forward towards the door leading into the barren room on the other side of the glass.

“I thought you my appreciate a demonstration of her power,” Elin stated with a warm smile. Pashkir noted that the guards’ knuckles had grown white from their tight grip on their billy clubs as they passed through the doorway. The thinner of the pair even flinched as the lock clicked behind them.

He breathed in the sudden intensity among those remaining. Even the men in lab coats leaned forward to watch. Only Elin kept her breezy attitude and professional demeanor. Like the smell of the prison, she seemed immune to the change of atmosphere in the room.

Slowly, Charlie lifted her chin, raising a pair of sharp blue-green eyes to stare down the guards who entered. Every other muscle in her body remained perfectly still. The look in her eyes, the coiled tension in her body -- it all reminded Pashkir of a lioness poised and ready to pounce on her prey. She would destroy them and she would enjoy every minute of it.

“Her neural implant is triggered by this device,” Elin explained, nodding a gadget in front of the pair of men in lab coats. “We trigger the neural implant and then give her an order. She has no choice but to comply.”

Elin gave a nod to one of the men who reached out and triggered the device. The prisoner’s green eyes narrowed but did not leave the guards who were slowly approaching her chair. Elin’s other colleague leaned forward towards a microphone so that he would be heard in the room beyond the glass. “Charlie. Attack.”

The two words served as an electric bolt through the woman. She was on her feet before Pashkir could blink and on the men only a split second later. The first guard -- the thinner and more anxious of the pair -- did not even have time to lift his baton to defend himself. She drew the metal chair around as she rose to her feet, catching the guard on the temple. He dropped like dead weight and the chair clattered to the floor beside him.

A predatory grin flickered across Charlie’s face as she took a slow step back while the more muscular guard approached, drawing his billy club up in a threatening manner. As the baton was brought around, she reached up and grabbed hold of it. It slapped heavily against her palm but if it caused pain, it was not present in her expression. The baton was ripped free of the guards grasp and tossed to the side. Her reflexes were too quick to be natural, her strength a little too explosive for a malnourished prisoner. Enhancements, Elin had said. That seemed the only explanation to Pashkir.

A quick palm heel strike destroyed the guard’s nose and as he reached up to cover his broken, bleeding face, his arm was yanked back behind his body. A pained scream erupted moments after a stomach turning crunching of breaking bones. Shoving him forward, Charlie slammed his body into the mirrored glass face first, leaving a smear of blood down the glass as he slid to the floor.

“End it,” Elin told the man with the device.

He mashed down the button which caused Charlie’s eyes to shift towards the mirrored glass. The angry, wild look seemed to penetrate the glass and, even though he knew she could not, Pashkir felt certain she was looking directly at him.

“Charlie. Pain,” the scientist stated into the microphone.

There was nothing human about the howl that erupted from her throat. It was an animal in pain. She dropped instantly from the intensity of the pain that the neural device insisted she experience. Her body curled into the fetal position. Elin leaned over to mute the sound coming in from the other room but she could do nothing to eradicate the image of the prisoner writhing in pain on the other side of the glass. Pashkir focused his eyes on Elin to concentrate on her rather than the woman beyond.

“While your demonstration is interesting, your Director promised me something more... substantial,” Pashkir stated evenly.

Elin’s lips parted into a smile and she gave a nod. “Yes, he did.”

Pashkir reached into his jacket pocket to produce a picture and hand it over to Elin. Her eyes dipped to it briefly before lifting back to Pashkir. “This man tried to kill the fiancee of a dear friend of mine. His name and address are on the back. Once your prisoner has proven that she is everything that you advertise by eliminating the man in question, we will discuss terms for her purchase.”

“This prisoner? But she is female and nearing thirty. We have much stronger specimens available,” Elin stated, her brows knitting in confusion.

Elin’s first stumble caused a wide smile to spread across Pashkir’s face. Negotiating terms was much more familiar territory for him than to watch the torture of another human being. “Well, then, I assume we will be able to purchase her for a very reasonable price.”

His reply wiped the smile free of Elin’s face for the first time. Her lips tightened into a frown and she tilted her head to the side slightly. “Our program is highly advanced and, as such, our prisoners do not come cheap, Your Highness. Not even this one.”

Pashkir’s smile only grew wider and he gave a short, humorless laugh. “I doubt money will be an issue, my dear. I represent a very wealthy and motivated young man. He has decided that he would like one of your prisoners and I think it would be beneficial to all parties that a deal was struck for he often becomes a bit difficult when disappointed.”

Elin’s bottom jaw tightened but she gave a nod, easing the remaining anxiety in the pit of Pashkir's gut. “Yes, Your Highness. We look forward to discussing the transaction with you.”

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