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Trephan Bethlem

"Sssh, it's a secret."

201 views · last seen in The 'Asylum'.
a character in “The First Signs of Madness”, as played by AugmentationAudit

Description

A man in his mid-thirties, wearing a doctor's attire. He is rarely seen without a stethoscope, white coat and name badge. Although mainly residing in the infirmary, Trephan can be found all across the asylum, depending on where he is needed. He holds group sessions as well as individual patient interviews.
The nurses know him well, and seem to respect him.

Trephan is a telepath, though not obviously so. His powers are no wide ranging, but on the small scale he is reasonably powerful. His ability is subtle, rather than large-scale powerful, and he tends to operate best in close quarters. Although he lacks the ability to delve into a person's mind and make them think exactly what he so desires in a second, he has a great deal of patience, and even with other telepathic beings, it is incredibly hard to identify an intrusion when Trephan is being careful.

He works better with auto-suggestion and surreptitious manipulation than grand-scale telepathy.

History

Trephan is a founding member of the structure known as 'The Asylum' and was hired into partnership by The Instigator himself. His telepathic ability was vital in securing several of the inmates, and also in the selection process, making him an invaluable asset. A malicious, vain creature, Trephan was more than willing to stay on and fill a specific role in The Asylum; he was fascinated by the project, and signed on for extra duties once his role as a conscripting officer was complete.

After a murderous attack by a patient in his 'care', Trephan's body became unusable. Unwilling to be so out of the game while his body healed, and uncertain if his current vessel was even fixable, Trephan's consciousness left the male body he was using and affixed itself to Keiko instead. Over time, Trephan's tenacious, parasitic presence ate away at the girl's consciousness, claiming her body and her memories for his own. In this new form, he has inserted himself into the patients' lives. His purpose is currently unknown.

So begins...

Trephan Bethlem's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Kieko Harlong Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Nurses of the Asylum Character Portrait: Doctor Solaris Dae
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Footnotes

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INK

Television Room.
1035.

Sam wasn’t feeling any happier about the (admittedly dire) situation in the lounge, but there was no disguising the heavy surge of relief that coursed through him when Aveline decided to sit down. It was foolish, and very possibly unforgivably naïve, but he felt a great deal safer when that particular patient was below head level; not safe enough to move away from his carefully chosen position between them all and the door, but still better than he had some ten minutes previously.

Unfortunately for Sam, he was neither overly tall nor overly strong, and there was just no way that he’d be able to successfully contain more than one of the people in the room should all hell break loose. Sam cast a careful look at Jack- if that particular young man decided he wanted to get out of the room, he could very easily go through all of them to get it, which was not the most comforting of thoughts. However, there was no point in worrying when things had become a little more civil, so-

“Clothes? Uh, yeah, I think I can sort that out for all of you. It would probably be a good idea, actually; it can’t be very nice to be in grubby pyjamas. Normally, we’d be a bit better organised around here, but this morning things have gotten a bit away from us, and I’m really very sorry for that. I’ll sort it all out now.”

Carefully, because it would be more than stupid to turn his back fully on any of these people, Sam moved forward, cracking the door open and calling softly for assistance.

Meanwhile Jack, who was not too proud to admit that he’d been zoning in and out of awareness while this all was going on, blinked himself back into focus, looking wearily around the room. “I think I’d like some different clothes too, if that’s at all possible,” he said quietly, plucking at what was left of his outfit with long, pale fingers. “I’m not all that warm.”

It was hardly surprising, given that he was shirtless, a fact that Jack found less discomforting that he would have imagined before. Maybe it was the shock, though it was more likely his rigid hold on his stage persona that was preventing him from flailing and blushing ridiculously at being trapped in a room with three women, stripped bare save for a pair of baggy grey trousers.

“It looks like Sam’s getting us something to wear. I hope he is. This- I need to get out of these clothes. We all need to- put something different on.” Keiko sounded a little less hysterical now, but there was still an undercurrent of fear in her hoarse voice. “And- then I guess we can- there. Um. We’ll see what happens then, I guess.”

Trephan, of course, was totally aware of what was going on, right down to Lauren’s appearance outside with fresh clothing for all of them as per Sam’s hasty request. It was lucky such things were kept on hand; Sam’s anxious mental chatter was beginning to reach headache inducing levels. As a result, Keiko smiled tremulously when the male nurse reappeared with several stacks of laundry in his arms.

“Uh, boys, I’m afraid you’re going to need to step outside with me for a minute. This is Lauren; she’s going to stay in here with the girls while they get changed.”

There was no missing the sudden confidence in Sam’s voice now that he was standing beside someone who he classed to be ‘on his side’; Keiko’s smile became more genuine.

Intensive Treatment.
1010.


“You read Shakespeare? How positively delicious, and one of my favourites too. I really am ever so glad; it’ll give us so very much to talk about while we get all of this nastiness out of the way. I must say, it does make things ever so much easier, when there’s a little bit of conversation to keep things going.”

Doctor Dae’s voice was thick with a rich, cloying amusement as she carefully removed her uniform piece by piece, neatly folding each item of clothing and setting it on the trolley beside her before moving onto the next. She continued to talk, apparently uninstructed, as she did so, seemingly as confident in her skin as she was in her clothing; there was no shame in her posture, only amusement.

“I have a very real appreciation for Romeo and Juliet. ‘That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love’! Ah, the very best of ironies, and such a bitter one too, don’t you think? The fool public reads such a thing as tragedy, the forever what-if that enslaves the masses and turns their minds to bittersweet and melancholy; they class it as beauty, as one of the very best of plays, and yet they grieve for such things in reality.”

She shrugged a bare shoulder, naked save for her underwear and quite perfect, but almost unnaturally so; she had a fine body and flawless, honey-gold skin, but there was something underlying and almost surreal about her, if one chose to look beyond what they first saw. “That’s an irony in itself; what repels the public in reality excites them in the written word. How many people in this world express disgust at an atrocity that happens in the ‘real’, but then gorge themselves on the very same things when labelled fiction?

“That’s the irony of the human condition, Mr Mason; humanity is all too eager to hide its baser desires behind the veil of fiction, convincing even themselves that they feel disgust towards the things that actually drive and entice them.”

A small, hot hand reached out to brush the side of his face in the gentlest of touches. “But not you. No, you’re quite different, aren’t you, Mr Mason? You are a man that embraces his desires beyond the reaches of societal propriety and constraint; a man who sees himself as free, I don’t doubt, but I wonder… do you truly understand.”

With another strange smile, she leaned in to whisper to the shell of his ear. “‘O happy dagger,’” her voice was soft. “‘This is thy sheath.’

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Kieko Harlong Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Nurses of the Asylum Character Portrait: Doctor Solaris Dae
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Footnotes

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INK

1040-1050.
Outside of Television Room to Leisure Room 2: Music Therapy.


Sam was, of course, unaware of the smell, being quite human and not at all as perceptive as Matt, however, he did see the danger in waiting in the corridor when such overt chaos had been unfurling, and as such, he walked the short distance to Leisure Room 2: Music Therapy, and showed the boys inside.

“I think it would be better if we didn’t hang around in the hall, and this’ll give us a chance to get you boys changed as well. I’m afraid I don’t have the clothes you were admitted in to hand, but I have some that are clean and warm. I hope they’ll do.” That said, Sam set down the small armful of clothing that he had accepted from Lauren on a piano stool. “There should be something in both of your sizes; pick something you like, okay?”

Unfortunately, Sam had forgotten to close the door, and as such couldn’t pretend that he hadn’t seen Aveline come out, and as such was obliged to move into her line of sight. In all honesty, the girl scared him just a little, more so even than the obviously violent individuals that were present, if only because there was no reasoning with her.

“It’s good that you take your medication, Aveline,” he said quietly, his smile only slightly fixed as he remained between the girl and the two boys. “And it’s good that it helps.”

Meanwhile Jack, who was half way through pulling on a baggy red jumper (ugly, impossibly ugly), paused at the sound of Aveline’s voice, just about managing to swallow down his anxiety at her sudden presence. He didn’t like her, not at all, and for a moment his stage persona thinned in reaction to his surprise; he was not subtle in the way that he took a reflexive step closer to Matt. Safety in numbers.

“They must have our clothes… that horrid girl has my hat.” His voice was little more than a whisper, but he was confident that Matt would hear him.

Television Room
1040-1050.


Lauren smiled at Sarah; it was nice to speak to somebody receptive, even if the girl was asking questions that couldn’t really be answered at the moment. Looking around, it was obvious that these girls had been through a tough time; there was blood on their clothes, Keiko appeared to have been crying for quite some time, and even Aveline seemed a little more unusual than normal. Clearly, the powers that be had not been exaggerating when they had filled Lauren in on the situation and requested her involvement.

“You can certainly watch a film, Sarah; I’d be glad to put something on for you, and we’re in the right place for it. Keiko, would you like to watch something too?”

The girl, who had by this point dressed herself in a featureless black hooded jumper and jeans looked up as Lauren spoke, and the nurse had the sudden, acute sensation of déjà vu. It was over in a second, not lingering for long enough to even spark a related memory, and Lauren shook it away with another kind smile; there would be time to work that sort of thing out when she wasn’t working with a group of anxious young people.

Swollen dark eyes peered out from a mess of dark hair as Keiko studied Lauren with apparent suspicion, but after a moment she nodded her head. “Something nice. I want to watch something nice. No- no blood. No gore.”

“Well, I’m sure that can be arranged.” Lauren crossed the room, inserting a key into a locked cupboard and revealing a wide selection of DVDs for the girls to look at. “Why don’t you two choose something, while I go and find out where Aveline has gone off to?”

Outside The Infirmary.
1015.


It was an adventure. Devan and Tori’s Demented Adventure; oh, it was ever so exciting! Tori had been leading Devan through a veritable maze of interesting places, chattering animatedly about everything and nothing as he did so, heading purposefully towards Intensive Treatment all the while.

“We need to be super, super quiet,” he whispered as he passed the big double doors, ducked low and creeping like a parody cartoon villain. “In there is where the Evil Doctor Icarus does her evil doctor work; if we disturb her, she’ll come out and eat our souls.”

Cackling under his breath, Tori looked back at Devan, flashing his teeth in a grin; it looked like they had left Elise-Who-Couldn’t-Make-Her-Mind-Up behind at some stage, but that was okay; she had been annoying him. “If we’re super quiet, we can sneak into the Infirmary without The Evil Icarus hearing us, and in there…” Tori’s face practically split in half with the force of his smile.

“In there is where they keep all the interesting things.”

Intensive Treatment.
1015.


“It is something of a tragedy, at least in the eyes of an idealist. You see, their love was ‘beautiful’ and ‘pure’, and their death was ‘needless’. Those things, above all else, trigger a reaction in the human condition; it fascinates me. In the real world, in any world for that matter, their love would have grown and changed, open to the possibility of stagnation, corruption and death. Their mutual suicide created a paradox; love and the absence of love woven together in a single frozen moment, as beautiful as it is terrible.”

She knew the spell that he was under; she could see it in the way he wrote the world around him, every breath and every nuance changing the script just slightly in her favour. It was beautiful, to watch this moment unfold to her abstract design. He would never be the same again.

“I think that I will show you something, Mr Mason… something quite divine.” Her voice hushed to a whisper, Doctor Dae stood and crossed the room in two fluid strides, opening one of the gleaming cupboards that lined the walls.

“I am going to show you another paradox…”

When she turned, there was a sealed container clasped tightly in her arms, which Doctor Dae placed upon one of the trolleys with infinite care. From within, she extracted first a spun glass tree that gleamed in the harsh artificial light.

“…something fascinating and profound…”

A single, tanned finger traced the very edge of the one imperfection that marred the beautiful ornament. She allowed Xavier to see, highlighting that the little dark branch was in fact a chrysalis, hanging from the intricate glass weave. As if awoken by her touch, the carapace began to crack, the creature within fighting to break free.

“… and all I need to know is this…”

She looked up then, from under long lashes, and swept from the container a gleaming crystal bell jar, which she placed delicately over the glass tree, where a butterfly was slowly inflating jewel-bright wings.

Icarus smiled: “What do you see?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Kieko Harlong Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Nurses of the Asylum Character Portrait: Doctor Solaris Dae
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Footnotes

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INK

Leisure Room 2: Music Therapy.
1100.


Not only was she mad, but rude as well? Jack came very close to scowling as he finished dressing himself, his eyes fixed unerringly on Aveline as she (quite childishly in his opinion) tried to bring Matt down with hurtful words. There were few people in the world that Jack actively disliked, but people like Aveline were certainly among that number. Words, Jack knew, had great power, and even ones so clumsily used could cause a great deal of pain. Maliciousness, especially vindictive, childish maliciousness, was not something that he had much patience for.

“Aveline.” His voice was soft and somewhat distant; he was too strung out and wrapped up in his own thoughts to realise just how strange he had been feeling since waking, but the feelings of unreality were only mounting. “I don’t care about the hat,” His voice was tired, as was his posture; Jack looked every bit as though he was reaching the end of his tether.

“It’s mine, but you know what? You can have it. Matt’s a human being, and he’s my friend and what you’re doing right now isn’t just wrong, it’s cruel. He’s trying to do something nice for me, because he knows it’s mine and he knows I want it, but you know what? I care about him more than I do some stupid hat, and I certainly care more about him than I do you.”

Jack took a deep, shuddering breath before he continued. “Right now, Aveline, I’m having a very, very bad day: I’ve woken up, again, in a strange place with very little idea of what’s happening to me, or what’s going to happen to me, only to be told that my- to be told that-” Ruthlessly, Jack swallowed the constricting feeling in his chest; he needed to say this, even if she wouldn’t understand. “To be told that my brother- my everything- is gone. And you know what? That’s worse than seeing what I saw earlier, it’s worse than being here, and it’s a hell of a lot worse than you.”

Jack’s eyes hardened, the first flickering of disgust visible in his expression even as tears began to leak down his face. “All you are is a pathetic, worthless little child who has no idea about the world around her, let alone the people in it, and I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for you, because there is nothing in your life that can possibly matter as much as my brother mattered to me, and he’s DEAD!”

A single sob, rapidly strangled, worked its way past Jack’s anger and control. “And do you know what? You disgust me. You repulse me, because there’s enough pain in the world without you willingly adding more to it.

“Go away, Aveline; nobody wants you, and I can’t see you mattering to anybody worth a damn either, so why don’t you just get lost? Or talk to yourself, if you want to hurt somebody so bloody badly.”

Sam, who was still standing beside the door, was, for a moment, utterly speechless.

Television Room.
1100.


Lauren wasn’t stupid; she knew when somebody was checking out where she put her keys. However, she gave no indication that she was aware and simply smiled blandly at Sarah’s choice of film. “You go ahead and put that one on then, Sarah, and Keiko, sit down honey and watch the film, okay? I’m going to pop to the kitchen and get you some popcorn and drinks, if that’s all right?”

“It’s fine. We’ll watch the movie.” Keiko’s voice was quiet, and her eyes remained averted as she sat, hugging her knees. “I’d like some popcorn. Thanks.”

Inside, nestled quite comfortably now, Trephan observed with cruel delight as things unfolded deliciously around him. His awareness was limited, somewhat smothered still by Keiko’s humanity, but slowly he was growing into his old self in her form; soon, it would be as much of a home to him as he previous body had been. Out in the hall, not so far away, but further than he could have been aware of a few minutes previously, his murderer was engaging the most docile member of the inmates in an argument.

It was an effort, but Keiko didn’t smile; it was ever so delicious.

Outside the Infirmary.
1025.


Despite being quite aware that there was nobody home, Tori crept into the Infirmary like a thief, his feet (clad only in socks) making little to no sound as he slipped through the double doors and into the room beyond.

“This is where they keep the bodies,” he murmured to Devan, who he was quite certain was close behind. The boy was like his shadow, Tori thought with a lopsided grin; it was nice to have a shadow, especially a quiet one. His normal shadow talked so much! He never got a moment’s peace!

“They kill people here, sometimes, or make them vanish. I’m a secret agent, Agent Tori Sith, so I know. I know everything that goes on here, even what Icarus is thinking. She thinks I don’t, but I do.” Simple fact: there was nothing but certainty in Tori’s voice.

“We should find the bodies,” he went on, seemingly oblivious to the rambling nature of his vocalisation. “That is, if you want to see them?” For the first time, he actually looked around to check, though his expression suggested that anyone not wanting to see the bodies was almost beyond his comprehension.

Intensive Treatment.
1020.


“What you see is subjective; there are many truths and many untruths, all that can be gathered from the Butterfly in the Bell Jar. It is not a matter of knowing, and certainly not a matter of being certain; it simply is. What I have placed here simply is, and your own interpretation of what your eyes see is something of the salient point. I will neither confirm nor deny anything that you infer, because that would rather change the meaning, don’t you think?”

With the greatest of care, Doctor Dae shifted the light above them, drawing it down so that it struck the glass just so and sent a ripple of filigree rainbows skating across the table, in the midst of which the shadow of the butterfly beat its wings. “Fantasy and reality are abstract concepts, Mr Mason; I think you’re beginning to understand that now. I find it fascinating, that peculiar little join; the turning moment between realities that hinges on belief.”

From the corner of the room, she retrieved a chair, which she positioned carefully, so that when she sat down backwards, with her arms pillowed on the backrest, she was both close to Xavier but at the same time not impeding his view of the butterfly and bell jar. “Jack Gilbert; a moment of free verse on what everyone forgets,” she said, something of a non sequitur, and smiled.

The doctor’s hard grey eyes were laughing as she watched him, so close now. “Wordsworth: She was a phantom of delight. Or, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

A single hot, dry hand reached out to tip Xavier’s chin just a little higher, encouraging him to meet those chilly eyes fully. There was something there; perhaps a smile, perhaps some great revelation, but whatever those eyes were trying to say was shrouded by a picture perfect smile. “And Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God…’” Her voice had fallen to little more than a rapturous whisper, and her eyes danced.

“Tell me, Xavier, what all of this means to you.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Kieko Harlong Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Nurses of the Asylum
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Footnotes

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INK

Outside of Leisure Room 2.
1105-1110.


Keiko, who had followed Sarah quietly from the Television Room like a warped shadow, watched the interaction between what was clearly becoming rival fractions with interest. Sarah, she was learning, was both loyal and brave; the girl faced adversity with more control than many her age, and that in itself was both fascinating and potentially challenging. With Trephan’s knowledge tucked away in the depths of her rapidly evolving mind, Keiko understood both the Plan and the Rules; Sarah being strong meant a great deal of interesting things were soon to happen.

Out of all of the people present, Keiko registered Sarah as being the most interesting by far. Sam, bless his stupid heart, was useless; he was there for decoration and little else; easily controlled, easily removed, easily broken. Matt was potentially similar, though his ability and his growing loyalty to Jack opened the potential for future development. Jack was already proving his worth; the experiment that the young man had been involved in was beginning to bear fruit. And, of course, Aveline- the wild card and Trephan’s murderer. Not for the first time, Keiko had to work to smother a smile.

“It’s bloody obvious that you don’t care about my brother!” Jack was rapidly becoming hysterical (in the depths of The Asylum, notes were almost certain being taken), his voice rising towards a full-blown shout. “And I can’t say I care about yours! Do you know why?! Because your brother is a murder! He’s a freak! I saw what he did to that- that- I don’t even know if it was a man or a woman! I saw it!”

Blood and insides coming outside, all the wrong places of the world on show; if Jack had been rational enough to truly think about what he was saying, he would have thrown himself into a panic. As it was, however, he was far too upset to take in any more than a superficial amount of what he was screaming at Aveline. “I can’t imagine that you- you have no idea what it’s even like to care about someone you twisted monster! If I deserve to be here- obviously I- I hate you!”

Never one to be able to construct a valid argument when utterly beside himself, Jack was forced to break off for a moment, angry tears starting at the corners of his eyes, chest heaving. “Of course I deserve to be here,” he whispered after a moment, his voice broken. “You have no idea- when your mind goes, you’re nothing.” He laughed, and it wasn’t a nice sound. “My mind’s already gone.”

Rant apparently over, Jack finally became aware of the others in the room; Sarah, trying to talk him down, Sam, wary and half-afraid, and Matt… Jack had a vague memory of the boy reaching out to Sam, and could have sworn that Sam had responded; reassured, ushered him over to get changed- but it was all falling to pieces. The longer he tried to focus on his thoughts the harder it was to keep them in his head.

“Sorry.” Jack’s dark eyes dropped to the floor, staring sightlessly at his feet. “I’m done now.” He said to Sam- or possibly Sarah (certainly not Aveline), before turning around and sitting quietly on the floor.

Infirmary.
1030.


“Ooh, you’re really impatient. Super, super impatient. That’s bad. You shouldn’t do that. We’ll get there; I’m a secret agent, I can tell, but you have to be patient. Not super patient though; there’s a super patient here though- we’ll find him. Soon.”

Tori didn’t seem in the least concerned about Devan’s rough handling and didn’t so much as struggle as he was grabbed. His grin, however, expanded to near-inhuman proportions. “Icarus lives in here, you’ll see. It won’t be long now. We’ll need knives, but I’m not sure if knives will kill Icarus at all… it depends on what she sends at us.”

There was a giggle lodged somewhere in Tori’s throat as he pulled away, twisting with the same unlikely strength that he had shown before. “Come on.”

Quietly, he crept deeper into the room, which appeared to be completely deserted of staff. There was no sound; even the monitors that flashed and glowed in alcoves were silenced. There was only one patient, hooked up to state of the art life support; Trephan’s body was eerily still as Tori approached.

“This was Doctor Bedlam,” he whispered, leaning right down to peer at the bruised face of the patient. “Xavier Mason’s sister tried to strangle him to death. I think she succeeded.” A single dark hand hovered over the tube that protruded from the body’s mouth, fingers tapping a rhythm on the plastic that matched the soft hiss of the ventilator. “These things- they hold in firm. There’s a little balloon in there, did you know that? A little balloon that stops it falling right on back out again… you can still pull them out though, with one really good yank.”

Tori looked up at Devan, the faintest sparkle of livid pink eyes visible through his fringe. “Should we do it, do you think?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Nurses of the Asylum Character Portrait: Doctor Solaris Dae
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Footnotes

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INK

Intensive Treatment.
1040.


“That’s right, that’s exactly right, Xavier,” Icarus whispered, her eyes bright and intense as she watched the young man stand before her. A single hand reached out to touch his face; butterfly kisses with her fingers ghosting gently down beside his eye. “This is the beginning of your freedom, this is the start of your education, your enlightenment to all that is real and true.”

Her smile seemed genuine (as genuine as a smile from Icarus could ever be), and she held his gaze with firm intention. “This is the beginning of what you will become; you must listen to me, Xavier- cast aside illusion and false religion to be reborn. And oh! How you will be reborn!” For just a moment, there was flash of bright passion in her voice that seemed quite real.

“I want you to do something for me,” she murmured, her fingers still dancing on his skin. “There is a boy outside, one consumed with the desire to kill. He is a fool. I want you to educate him in his foolishness, Xavier, and I want to see the beginning of your awakening. The start of your journey to liberation will be in this moment.”

Gently, she pulled back, her eyes never leaving Xavier’s face. “Remember what you’ve been taught so far, and keep in mind that there will be further lessons once this is done. You are a beautiful creature, Xavier, but you exist in chains. When those chains are broken, you will be glorious, and nothing will stop you. For now, however, put this to memory,”

Icarus’s voice lowered, and her eyes, if possible, became all the more intense. “You can do what you will to the boy in the room outside; he’s planning on murder, of that I am quite certain, though he has no words with which to speak. However, think on the butterfly, the bell-jar and the spun glass tree, and know that there are more things in heaven than earth; when the character is put to death, there are only so many paths the story can take, but alive- oh, alive there’s infinite possibility!”

Her piece said, Icarus stepped away fully and turned her back. “Do me proud,” she said in parting, before unlocking the door to allow Xavier free access to the Infirmary and its occupants.

Infirmary.
1035.


Tori watched intently as Devan deliberated over the half-dead doctor, and seemed to understand the decision that his companion finally came to, though his mouth twisted in a manner that might have suggested displeasure. “There’s no fight in him is-” A sharp blow to the head cut him off, but it wasn’t so much the shock or pain of the action that silenced him, but the fact that Tori was quite simply suddenly not there.

Mid-way through the contact, Tori’s skin seemed to burn and lose cohesion; becoming suddenly, searingly less than it had been milliseconds previously, as his body quite literally funnelled itself away into dark, cloying smoke. There was no sound, but the sense of pressure permeated the area, and heavy, dark vapour pooled on the floor for several seconds in Tori’s absence, looking oily and faintly toxic.

“There.” Tori’s voice, when it reappeared a moment later, was a little less entertained than it had been previously. Closer to serious, the young man was scowling and standing on one of the empty beds, his arms crossed over his chest. “That wasn’t very polite. I’m just trying to be nice to you, and help you out, but you choose to slap me in the head! That hurt! That seriously hurt! You slap really hard!”

Though his voice rapidly morphed back into its familiar pattern, Tori still seemed displeased, though there was no indication in his posture that sudden, reflexive teleportation was anything out of the ordinary for him. He stuck his tongue out. “I should leave you here, you know. Actually, I think I will. I was going to help you out some more, but I’ve decided not to because you’re a meanie. If you start being nice again, I might come back for you though. It depends. You’ll get what you want either way.”

Leisure Room 2.
1115.


Lauren, who had set a tray with several drinks and a bowl of popcorn down in the television room, entered Leisure Room 2 in time to see Jack sitting on the floor with two other young people, and Sam looking a little out of his depth in the doorway with Aveline. Clearly, a situation was happening, and something had occurred while she was getting a midday snack for the girls (who were no longer in the television room; she could see both of them).

Nonverbally, she implied to Sam that she had at least half of this covered; she entered the room, moving past Keiko, who was shuffling quietly over to stand beside Sarah, around Matt, and positioning herself squarely in front of Jack. She kept enough distance that it didn’t seem as if she was intruding, but she did crouch down so as to get a better perspective on the situation.

“I won’t mind, I don’t mind,” Jack was saying, his expression unsettled. “You- I- we’re friends. We’re okay. I don’t care what you do. I don’t care.” He seemed to be confused, which worried Lauren (as much as the simulation could truly worry her), but she was curious to see the interaction play out between the young people that had been placed in her simulated care. In her normal workplace, she would have stepped in long before now to get the situation under regimented control, but this wasn’t supposed to be a direct replica of normality; it was a chance to try things that would be immoral in a true setting.

Jack appeared to be drawing stability from his two companions; his hands creeping out to each of them despite him not meeting their eyes. “We’re- we’re supposed to be here, but that’s okay, isn’t it? We can get better.” He didn’t sound like he knew what he was talking about, and really, the lad was a wonderful actor; Lauren was deeply impressed by his performance.

Keiko, sat neatly between Sarah and Lauren, followed the nurse’s train of thought with interest; her mental voice was cool and strong, quite the opposite of Jack’s rabid, misshapen monologue. The boy really was terribly scattered, but there was something almost delightful in watching his mind unspool through a mixture of suggestion, misinformation and chemical stimulation.

“It’s okay Jack,” she finally stated, one of her small hands reaching out to touch his shoulder, pressing against Sarah’s shoulders in the process. “The four of us, we’ll get through this together. We’re the good people here, like- like on your list, so we’ll be all right. You just wait and see.”

Leisure Room 1.
1120.


Sam, though large and quite strong, was nonetheless taken by surprise when he was shoved unceremoniously into Leisure Room 1, Aveline’s hands flying at him even before he had the chance to truly figure out what was happening to him. Despite its earlier state of occupation, the room was now quite empty, though the traces of Karissa were still very much in evidence upon the walls.

It took perhaps ten seconds for Sam to spring into action, by which time Aveline was clawing for his throat, but it was less than a second later than his own large hands closed around the girl’s in an unforgiving grip. He didn’t speak; didn’t even appear to be thinking when he turned her around using a firm grip upon her arm and marched her straight up into a wall. It was only when she was pinned that he seemed to think again, blinking in surprise and rubbing his scratched face on his shoulder so that he didn’t have to alter his grip.

“Aveline,” he finally said, his voice tense. “I’ve been working this job for four years and before that I was a soldier for six. Trying to kill me is not only completely unacceptable. It’s not going to happen. Now, I want you to relax, calm down and stop this nonsense. If you do that now, I won’t have to call in an Intervention.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Kieko Harlong Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Nurses of the Asylum Character Portrait: Doctor Solaris Dae
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Leisure Room 1.
1025.


Sam didn’t think that Aveline had a schizophrenic profile, but he might have been wrong; it was difficult to remember the finer points of a diagnosis when the owner of said condition was attempting to kill him. Granted, she was going about it with little skill, as was often the case with suffers of psychotic illness, but the fight or flight response remained all the same. Sam didn’t let her go.

“Matt,” he said quietly, his voice carefully modulated to give none of his simmering adrenal reaction at bay. It wasn’t just dogs that could sense strong emotions, after all; people were very good at it too, and Matt just happened to be both. He had no intention of triggering the lad if he could help it, especially when the boy was already clearly wound up. “Thank you for coming to protect me, but it really is okay; I can handle this.”

And, thankfully, it was the truth. Sam didn’t like being forced to restrain the people in his care, especially when it was in this sort of situation, but he didn’t actually fear losing control over Aveline and letting anyone come to harm. Sam look a slow breath in through his nose, sighing out through his mouth.

“Aveline,” he finally replied to the girl’s statements, “It’s not okay to hurt people, even when someone tells you to. Everyone has just as much right to live, and none of us should be able to take that away. Life is very important, and it’s not something to be taken lightly.”

His smile would have been frail, his tone bitter, but Sam had better control than that. This was just a test, and he was determined to pass to the best of his ability. “Now, we’re all going to calm down for a minute. Matt, if you could take a step back for me, that would be great. Aveline, I want you to stay nice and still and try to calm down. Nobody is going to get hurt, and nobody’s in trouble, but we all need to be calm so that we can sort this out properly.”

Leisure Room 2.
1025.


Jack followed Sarah’s prodding like a lost sheep, making a somewhat comical image given just how literally he towered over her. However, for the moment the humour was lost on him; he needed someone’s reason to cling to in the face of the loss of his own, and Sarah happened to be making the most sense, so naturally the task fell to her.

Once he was settled on a bench between Sarah and Keiko he felt a little steadier, though his eyes lingered on the nurse (did he know her name? How long had she been there?) for a long moment before he finally calmed down enough to order his thoughts again.

“I-” he began, then paused, eyes flicking back and forth in confusion for a second before his gaze became fixed and blank. All of a sudden, nobody was home.

Keiko, who had been listening to more than Jack’s words as he progressed through misery and confusion, stilled for a moment less than a second after Jack did, apparently in response to his broken sentence. “Jack? Are you okay?” He obviously wasn’t; just looking at his face was enough to tell that, and secretly, she was squealing in excitement. The doctor in her (literally) was infinitely pleased to say that he had proven a point, and really, there was nothing quite so delicious than a front row seat for this sort of thing.

It was a shame that Lauren was in on the show too, but there really wasn’t anything he could do about that at the moment, and frankly, it might be useful to have a proper nurse on standby if his predictions (made a long time ago now, and set into motion before Jack even woke up) came true.

Infirmary.
1043.


Icarus had scampered back into her lair to plan unspeakable plans, but not before he had caught the barest glimpse of her lurking in the doorway. Tori smiled a strange smile, wondering just what she’d been up to in there that merited taking most of her clothes off. His question was answered a second later by the arrival of Xavier, which was amusing, if a little bit gross.

He stored the experiences away for later, his attention fixed on Devan. He didn’t have to be a secret agent to see where this plan was going, but for a moment he wasn’t sure if he wanted to watch in person or not. In the end (it took only seconds, because Tori had never been very good when it came to delaying gratification) he decided that these things weren’t quite as interesting when watched from a distance. He’d stay.

“I know you’re sorry, but that still wasn’t very kind,” He pouted, displeased, before hopping down off of the bed and reaching into a nondescript draw. “But.” Head turned slightly to the side, pink eyes flashing in Devan’s direction, he smiled. “But, I like you, so I’m going to be nice. Icarus has been a little bit mean, you see. You were mean too, but not that mean. Not many people are actually that mean…”

There were two wrapped scalpels in Tori’s hand when he finally removed it from the draw, and his face was thoughtful, unreadable. “I’m not sure how mean I am. I’m a secret agent, see, and sometimes I confuse myself. What bit’s me, what bit’s my super cool James Bond persona. I spend so much time pretending…” Dark fingers ripped the packages easily, peeling the flaps back. “So much pretending. It’s difficult to tell what bit’s actually me anymore.”

White teeth flashed wickedly, the gleam unsettlingly like the shine of the twin scalpels that were clasped delicately between his fingers. “This bit though… this bit is really very me.”

Tori’s face was worryingly blank as he sent the first scalpel spinning across the floor towards Devan. “I promised you a kife. There it is,” he murmured. “And because you annoyed me, because you were mean-” The second scalpel sailed towards Xavier.

“I hope you live, Devan. I actually quite like you.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Doctor Solaris Dae
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Infirmary.
1115.


Icarus, despite the sense of foreboding that lingered around her at times, and the odd impression that she was not the wisest woman to cross, simply sighed at the boys’ disobedience. Her slate grey eyes followed their thoughts on their faces, in their bodies; when Devan rolled away from her, she smiled slightly, as if she had been anticipating his action, and found it rather quaint. Xavier, meanwhile, she viewed with a strange expression, somewhere between nostalgia and humour.

“You know,” she said, quite conversational despite the extraordinary situation that she was standing in the middle of. “You boys really are a little too foolish to be allowed. Fun, though. You remind me of my husband and son in equal measure. Solomon was blinded by society and first impressions, and oh, so sure of himself, just like you are, Xavier. Of course, he had set himself on quite the different path than your little demon-fuelled rampage, but the analogy remains the same. He had ever so many rules, you see, and just couldn’t seem to get rid of them.”

Her lips twitched, and she settled her gasmask carefully. Even through the lenses, her eyes were piercing. “And Devan- so like Jesse. So damaged, so strange, so silent. He was never sure where to look, either, always seeing threats. You do remind me of him. Though I wonder- which is which, in the end?

“You see, my husband, ever such a moral man, became quite the fearsome killer with my help. Oh, boys, he was magnificent; all righteousness and divine fury. You could never match him, Xavier, because you’ve sided so casually with the Devil. Stereotypical, don’t you think? Surely the Angel bowed to kill is more fearsome than the Demon, who is expected to do so?”

Icarus stepped forwards again, totally unafraid. “And then my stunningly tragic Jesse, who just can’t help himself. Which is which, indeed.”

Icarus wasn’t even discreet in walking across the room, then, and activating the switch that flooded the room with an anaesthetic gas. She watched, them, then, breathing steadily through her mask and already crossing to the console across the room. The porters were ever so accommodating, and it was shockingly easy to arrange for the two sedated young men to be transported back to their rooms.

Room 11.
1150-1200.


In Matthew’s room, the water continued to rise in conjunction with the elaborate illusion that was playing our around him. The tilt of the capsule was realistic, and the hydraulic whirring was artfully disguised by piped in sound effects from a series of surround-sound hidden speakers. When the water reached the bed, then rushed over edges, it was stingingly cold and cloudy enough to look like authentic lake-fare, rather than the tanked stock that it actually was.

The event had been carefully practiced, and the operator was skilled; Matt was observed carefully throughout the entire process lest he drown. The water, once it had started, rose at an alarming rate, rapidly filling to a height that would force the young man to swim. The corner of ‘sky’ projected into the remaining space, diminishing by the moment, was disguised by the shadow of bars and just out of reach; designed so that there was nothing Matt could reach up and grab onto.

The last moment of the illusion was the most critical and carefully timed. When the gas was pumped into the chink of air left into the room through the concealed pipes, it came from under the water, forming numbing bubbles. Carefully formulated, it was not designed to wipe away the experience in amnesia, but give it a faintly surreal tint; a hazy flare to the dark, masked face and wiry arms that reached down through the trap door and snatched Matthew up just as the vapours turned anaesthetic.

Room 7.
1153-1155.


“Oh, I’ve been here since the beginning, pretty much, and I know everything.” Tori grinned, large and quite possibly insane, as he watched Aveline with wide eyes through his dark fringe. “I know that this place has secrets, and I know how to get into the kitchens, and I know that Anakin becomes Vadar here. I’ve been in these places forever. I know how they work.”

There was an odd note in Tori’s voice for a moment, but it was rapidly gone; he spun on the spot, laughing illogically. “We’re all mad here, you know? Every last one of us- oh, some of us think we’re sane, but we’re not. We can’t be, being here. But everyone’s so caught up in stigma and taboo that they forget how exciting being quite bad can be. We need to remind them, Aveline.”

The strange little man skipped forward, clamping hot hands on Aveline’s shoulders and tipping his head to look her right in the eye. “We have to drive them mad, you see? Most of them already suspect, they know the way, Follow the Yellow Brick Road and spiral down into Wonderland, but Sarah- she’s so set on being sane that she’s forgotten that you have to be mad, to be here.”

He stepped back then, and bowed in a formal, sharp line that was at odds with his lose limbs. “I trust you with this, but it has to be our secret. The others can’t know that I’m a secret agent. If I get found out I’ll have to disappear. The Instigator- oh, he insists on it. I can only be here when it’s right, and I don’t want to vanish; it’s far too much fun.”

Tori’s eyes sparkled as his watch chimed shrilly. “Ooh, time to go. See you soon, Aveline.”

Ironically, he vanished.


Event! Sarah!

Icarus did not look back, nor did she return, and for a moment there was silence before the faint hiss of gas rose over her retreating footsteps. She didn’t bother with the mask; the doors of the dining room were already swinging closed and locking, but she did spare a smirk for the inevitability of the situation.

Sarah would, eventually, learn that defiance was a pointless endeavour when a greater game was being played, and there truly was no escaping events once they had been set in motion so surely.




At exactly 1300, Asylum time, every allocated room housed its occupant, with several glaring losses; two young women had already vanished into the bowels of the institution, and when the doors of Elise’s and Karissa’s rooms swung open on automated command, they revealed the oddly forlorn image of dereliction, as if the girls had never been in the Asylum at all.

Matt’s room, despite it’s rather drastic upheaval, had been quickly and efficiently rearranged into normalcy; everything had been either dried or replaced, and Matt himself had been arranged on the bed, in identical but dry clothes. It was as if nothing had ever happened.

Similarly, Sarah, Xavier and Devan had been transported into their rooms while unconscious and carefully settled into their respective beds. Aveline’s room remained unchanged; her door simply opened at the allotted time.

Tori, also, was in his room when his door swung open, sat moodily on the floor.

Keiko, lying on her bed, looked up when the door opened, but didn’t move to venture outside. Her eyes were very dark, and she was smiling.

And Jack, when he finally opened his eyes in the Infirmary, screamed to find himself laid out like a cadaver on a shining metal table, the cooling body of Trephan spread on a trolley beside him.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Kieko Harlong Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem
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1305.

Room 1.

Tori looked up when Xavier found him, purple eyes scrunching in pleasure. He had been found at last! They had missed him in the morning, too busy being busy, but now he had been found and oh, how exciting! He grinned (wide and too full of teeth) before bouncing to his feet and scooting towards the door.

“Hello! You must be Xavier! Ooh, I know all about you; you’re the one that eats orderlies in the bathrooms and sees Devils in the mirror! How utterly fantastic and brilliantly wonderful! I’m Agent Tori Sith, Tori with an eye and not an eye-ee or a why, though there are lots and lots of whys everywhere else. You mustn’t get my name wrong, though, it’s ever so important. I’m a secret agent, and I know everything, and I’m a Sith.”

Tori, who was all wild eyes and damp sleeves, met Xavier with an inane sort of fearlessness- a perfectly logical insanity. “You are Anakin, and Icarus is your Sidious, but who is your Palpatine?” He laughed, half frenzied, and shrugged his skinny shoulders. “It’s all so varied. Even I can’t see it all, and I’m a Secret Agent, which means I know everything.”

Room 14.

Keiko was alone in the corridor; there was nobody to feel there, and she knew full well that Jack was screaming somewhere in the bowels of the Infirmary, with only Icarus to hear him. She smiled, feeling dangerous and whole; her previous body was gone, now, leaving no ties to pull her back towards a budding corpse. It was freeing, it was delicious.

The little girl who had lingered and cried, pushing against the inexorable telepathic attack, had faded into nothingness; her consciousness consumed by a far more ancient force. Trephan was Keiko, but Keiko would never be Trephan. Fluid in identity but steadfast in intent; this would be ever such fun.

Memories rained down around her, brushed with the thoughts of the others; The Asylum was waking again, and the game was progressing. Icarus was a loose cannon as ever, the Instigator was awake and insane, and Keiko was going to enjoy every minute of it. She knew the endgame, she knew the rules, but unlike the others, she wasn’t invested in the outcome so much as the playing.

Icarus would, of course, vanish in the end; there was no holding the creature with the homunculus mind; prison would likely please her, for as long as she decided to stay there. The Instigator would both prove his point and flee content, gratified for the remainder of his cursed existence. Or be proven wrong and lavish in an institution, seeking answers and destroying lives along the way. Keiko would, of course, receive assistance and compensation for her terrible ordeal, and then move on, finding fresh minds to prey on. The others (and there was the Irony for Icarus) would suffer. All those with good intent- it was pitiful, and glorious for it.

Satisfied with her thoughts, she did not leave her room, choosing instead for the others to come and find her as they saw fit.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Erebus Character Portrait: Aveline Mason Character Portrait: Xavier Mason Character Portrait: Jack Rass Character Portrait: Devan Miyamoto Character Portrait: Kieko Harlong Character Portrait: Trephan Bethlem Character Portrait: Doctor Solaris Dae Character Portrait: Arthur Strickland
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Dining Hall
1335.


The Dining Hall was indeed shut when Devan arrived, but there were definite signs of life behind the sealed double doors. Lunch, as far as could be divined, was certainly in progress; the smell of cooking was drifting out into the hallway, and general noises associated with food preparation were audible.

The fact remained, however, that the doors were locked, and the sign affixed to the laminated surface declared that lunch would begin at 12:00, which a nearby clock stated would be in exactly fifteen minutes.

Infirmary
1330-1340


It took Jack almost ten minutes to get himself back under control again (seven to stop sobbing onto Sarah's shoulder, and three to get his abject, mortified embarrassment under control). Normally, he would have devoted a good hour or so to outright hysterics, but the longer he dwelled on what had happened, the closer to being completely out of control he felt. It was in the interests of self preservation that he forced his miserable panic down to a dull roar, and finally raised his head.

Still afraid to look outside the boundaries of his closet for fear of seeing a dead body, Jack started by cracking open a puffy, leaking eye and peered worriedly at the floor. Matt's feet were the first thing he actually ended up seeing, and it was such a blessed relief that he almost burst into tears again.

With a wet sniff, he looked up a little further, finally allowing himself to make eye-contact with the boy who had rapidly become his friend in this chaos. Matt looked happy to see him, which was comforting, but there was a little tag of something else lurking there that unsettled him; what had happened, while he had been unconscious (dead?!) in this horrible room.

"I- sorry." His voice was a wreck, and there was something that was probably mucus sticking to his face and Sarah's shoulder. Jack had never wished for a handkerchief more, but he had been stripped down to a gown at some stage. He didn't even have pants on, he realised, quite horrified given his current position ensconced in Sarah's arms.

"Uh." If his face hadn't already been aggravated to a blotchy red by crying, he was certain that he would have blushed right up to his ears. "Do, do either of you know what happened to my clothes?"

Residential Hall
1327-1335


Keiko watched with something akin to fascination as the scene before her played out in a chaos of emotion; a veritable riot of reactions and quick-fire responses. It was obvious that Aveline was following something of her own agenda, but that was okay; The Instigator might become irate at sudden and inexplicable changes to The Plan, but as far as Trephan had always been concerned, they were what made life fun.

This was a change of plan; Arthur, certainly, had not been arranged with The Instigator's grand scheme in mind, but there was something exciting about the thought that things were about to go stunningly off the rails. Well, more-so, because there was no denying that Aveline jumping all over Arthur, and Xavier having to wade into save the day were things going 'according to plan'.

Of course, things only became stranger a moment later, when Arthur suddenly paled to a frankly shocking shade of grey and staggered back into the wall. Drenched in sweat, shaking and sickly looking; to the outside, it appeared as if the young man were having some form of cardiac event, or at the very least a panic attack, but Keiko was not looking at the outside at all.

Possessing the unique skills of a telepath, combined with a genuine degree and ages-old observations of medicine through time gave Trephan, and therefore Keiko, a rather extraordinary insight into moments such as these. That was not to say, however, that she had any intention of letting that information slip to her fellows.

"Arthur? Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?" Apparently ignoring the previous animosity between herself and her companions given the sudden potential emergency, Keiko stepped up and addressed Xavier. "He doesn't look at all well. Should we call a nurse?"

It took almost a minute for Arthur to respond to them at all, which likely seemed much longer to those genuinely alarmed by what was going on. When he did, there was chaos in his mind, and if he thought he was fooling anyone by acting normally, he was sadly mistaken.

"Arthur, what was that? You look sick. We should call one of the nurses."

Control Room
1325-1340


"You twisted bitch."

Icarus didn't need the monitors that surrounded her to tell her that 'The Instigator' had entered the room, or that he would be in a towering temper. In this intricate, multi-dimensional game of chess that they were playing, this particular move had been started a very long time ago; he had simply failed to notice that he was being manoeuvred into check until now.

"Yes." She didn't turn to face him, choosing instead to watch him rage in the glossy black screen before her, his visage superimposed over a darkish image of the inside of a supply closet in the Infirmary. "Did you need something?"

There was a disgusted sound, inarticulate, furious, but it was easy to duck the wrathful swing he took at her; a simple matter of kicking off from the desk with just enough force to let the wheels on her chair remove her from his reach. The curse he spat out when his hand impacted with the corner of the monitor instead of her face was deeply satisfying; she let it show, knowing that it would only inflame him further.

"Your pet was not supposed to be here." It sounded like he was grinding his teeth, and Icarus was half-tempted to give him some off-hand advice about maintaining good dentition. "Not least now, when things are already so far off-schedule. Do you forget who is running this operation, Icarus? Or do you want to challenge me?"

As if he would stand a chance if she chose to challenge him; Icarus smiled, pushing herself back into place with her toes, mindless of the angry man currently dominating the room. "Challenge you in what sense? You really should be mindful of your words; given that it's something of your 'thing', you're not being all that eloquent right now. If you mean to say 'are you attempting to usurp my authority in this little game of mine, Icarus?' then I can honestly tell you no. I have no intention to take your toys from you."

Finally, she swung to face him, resting back in her chair and quite at ease, as the beginnings of chaos erupted on the screens behind her. "If you are suggesting that I'm upping the difficulty of things, however- well, you'd be quite correct. We can't have you getting complacent, now can we?"