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Welcome to the Guardian
#1
[Image: attachment.php?aid=13]
The door was open.

There was a moment’s pause, then the man strolled in. Walking, slow and steady, a silver tassel slung casually over his shoulder. His face was set and hard. The new desk plate, displaying the golden cursive of Meera’s name, was bright and fresh.

He looked around, felt the electric expectation in the air. He saw the office: the small window with bars; the stained, paper-covered desk; the single potted fern in the corner; the sickly, fluorescent bulb… all the rest.

Eiji shook his head to himself as he sat in the wooden chair. They’d spent a couple of days in the relative stark administrative offices of the Guardian, orientating Eiji, but it had felt much longer to Eiji. The hospital administer had insisted on conducting extensive interviews first, reviewing his medical and military history with the Belgian doctor, and Eiji had become a little bored with either sitting in as a silent observer or waiting around. He had expected some hard interrogations, but the doctors so far had been very low-key and relaxed.

Eiji had been looking forward to beginning actual treatment at the Guardian, but there seemed to be no particular direction to what they were doing. The belgian doctor moved with a purpose, but he didn’t share it with Eiji. Eiji wasn’t really sure what they were looking for, but when he pressed for answers, the doctors had a habit of replying in riddles. 

Eyes wide. Waiting. Waiting.

Then Meera appeared before him.

A slow smile dug its way across Eiji Lynx’s face. He’d seen some badasses in his time, and many of the best were in the air force’s ranks. 

But he’d never seen such a casual display of utter cool. He liked his new doctor already. This stern office, the cool stride, light damn it, she’d won him before they had ever started.

“Eiji Lynx. Glad to meet you.”

Eiji Lynx
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#2
Meera Alam did not take new patients often. Not without the Atharim’s recommendation. Oh, her ‘betters’ at The Guardian didn’t know that little fact, but the tentacles of the Organization had reached far. The entire operation here had been soiled by the Atharim’s prerogative. She had looked over this man, this Eiji Lynx’s, file on her way to the office. It did not appear that the man could Channel. So why did the Atharim recommend him to her? They knew what her interests entailed. Just because this man had asked for her specific touch? Many had before and had been denied. The Organization had been so keen on blocking any patient that would not further her goals, and by extension, their own…

                So how could Eiji help the Atharim? Better yet, how could he help Meera Alam? Was the man Blocked somehow? Or did the Organization suspect some hidden talent within him? Perhaps he could talk to wolves? Or did he see the future in his trauma? There was more than just Channelers out there in the world, but they had been her specialty, her expertise. Sure, she could toy with the other freaks of the world, but those others were lesser in comparison to the ‘Gods.’

                The Asian man sat alone in her decrypt office, with its stained desk and pitiful fern in the corner. The yellowing lightbulb swayed overhead as the man introduced himself to her. Meera urged her wheelchair past the man, not acknowledging the fact that words had come from his mouth. This man wasn’t worth the pleasantries. So far as she was concerned, this was just a means to keep up appearances. A random patient to further the subterfuge she was crafting for her ‘civilian life.’ Surely this soldier couldn’t possibly compare to any of her experiments. She suspected that after a few quick questions and a psych assessment, she could dismiss the man and pass him along to someone lower than her.

                Oh, she would have to turn on the charm eventually, lest she ruins her own image, but she did not need to start with the honey. No self-respecting doctor acted like a witless moron around their patients. Once he had divulged his trauma, then, perhaps, she could coddle the man a little. But for now? She could show her true face. That uncaring, indifferent persona so often associated with the medical profession. Until then, however…

                If he could Channel… Well, that would be something else entirely. But the file had all but confirmed his normality. There were no notes on extraordinary abilities, so again, Meera had to ask herself why this man had been offered up to her, the Mirror.

                Meera wheeled herself to the desk and parked her chair behind it, shuffling the multitude of papers before her, taking care not to acknowledge the man before she was ready to. He was not in control here, even if he had spoken first. This was her office. He was subject to her will.

                “I’m sure.”

                She did not lift her eyes from his file; if anything she made a great show of sifting through the many papers contained in the manilla folder. Nothing in his file suggested he was worth her while. An ex-soldier with PTSD? Boring. Sure, she could have some fun with this one, but why waste the energy? And, really, she shouldn’t torment this poor, unfortunate soul unless her superiors had dictated it. Only the Channelers were free game; everyone else? Well, they were to be handled delicately.

                “Lynx-san. It seems that you have been recommended into my care by your Sensei? Curious that your file does not list your Sensei’s name? May I ask for it?” She spoke with a clear, crisp tone, “You may refer to me as Alam-sama, by the way.” She finally turned her gaze upon the ex-soldier, with a forced smile.

                “I only ask because I simply must know what type of care you have endured before coming into my Office. This file is particularly sparse, so I suspect we shall have to get to know each other a little better before we proceed- should I choose to treat you…”

                Meera’s delicate hands gathered up the papers and shuffled them back into the manila folder.

                “I do not mean to be short with you, Lynx-san, however, I only take on the most serious of patients. There are so many in the world that suffer debilitations of the mind… So tell me, what ails you? Why are you here? Why have you asked for me specifically?”

                Meera’s lips quirked into a rictus.



"She had tortured hundreds, maybe thousands, in the name of understanding and reason. Torture made sense. You truly saw what a person was made of, in more ways than one, when you began to slice into them. That was a phrase she'd used on numerous occasions. It usually made her smile." 
- The Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm, Chapter 22, Robert Jordan
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#3
“Not this again...” Eiji sighed. It was unacceptable. Quite simply unacceptable. He’s seen this reluctance before. He could be anyone as far as his new doctor claimed. You’d think they’d square this away. Here he was in front of her, so that should tell her something of the importance they placed on him.

“Why are you here?” Meera Alam asked bluntly. She finally glared at him with a forced smile.

“Well, Alam-sama,” Eiji replied, “I’m sure sensei Hercule was going somewhere with my medical history. I wish they’d get there fast.”

“You might want to have a word with your hospital head there,” the short, well-built soldier suggested, “but it’s common knowledge he and my sensei trained at the Guardian too. He should be well informed about Hercule’s methods. He’ll probably ask you riddles too,” Eiji said snidely, “he’s very fond of them.”

“Alam-sama,” Eiji said wearily, “I need your help. I am here to do the CCD’s work... I need help. Since you only see patients of extreme priority I have no idea WHY you got me. I haven’t been told. But I trust my sensei—He’s... a friend.”

“Maybe you will see me when you reveal me,” said Eiji, “It’s hard to hear... Believe me, I know... but you have to understand it’s all going to a greater good—a cause that’s much bigger than you and me. Much bigger than this hospital. Much bigger than Moscow. This is about the CCD and if Moscow burns to make our dominance happen, then so be it. By the Creator’s will, we might all go to our deaths, but it would still be worth it if the Ascendency succeeds. Everything is about responsibility to the CCD. I don’t mean to lecture you about life or death; I hope to be able to tell why I’m here shortly, when you take me seriously.”

“Understand this, doctor. We’ve been engaged in covert fighting these last few years. We’ve used our anonymity to target grain stores, trackway junctions, nuclear plants. Nothing we’ve done should be visible or vulgar. Visibility leads to discovery and death. It’s a wonder we’ve blundered through so many missions; set fires; killed officials... I shouldn’t have survived all that nonsense. I can’t believe I did things. That wasn’t me at all, you know? I had... regrets... scars (many self inflicted)... walked the same dreams...”

he looked at Meera through his colored lenses. No need to reveal to his true, golden eyes. Let slumbering wolves be, “I should have expected it— I’ve been exposed to the fighting for long enough, and its blight’s soaked into me now. Sensei says my personality will change. My moods switch. You’ve seen it. What would you need from me?”

Eiji Lynx, traumatized wolfie Smile
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#4
Meera Alam nodded along as the man spoke to her. It seemed she had struck a nerve, if only so slightly. She hadn’t met this Hercule, the file was surprisingly sparse, but then again the file she had reviewed was not written by the Guardian…


                Excellent.

                With a careful motion, Meera pulled a thick leather-bound notebook from the drawer to her left and a steel-nibbed pen from the drawer above that. She uncapped the fountain pen, engraved with her initials with an inlaid, flourishing gold script along its side. It was a smooth, polished thing of fine craftsmanship. Meera adored it. Despite the appearance of her office, she was obsessed with the orderly and simple things in life; just like the simple leather-bound notebook. Inside of that were countless notes on her cases. Notes that she wouldn’t have minded others seeing. The more sensitive topics she wrote about were store safely away on a private hard drive inside of her basement laboratory. No one could access those.

                Meera began scribbling down bits of the dribble that spewed from the soldier’s mouth, nodding to him at all the appropriate moments.

                “Unfortunately, Eiji-san, I have not had the pleasure of meeting Hercule-sama. He doesn’t work here anymore, does he? Alas, my work keeps me too busy from socializing with many of my peers.”

                That was no lie, although surely if she had wanted to, she could have a social life. There was no need for such frivolities. Her work was something great, something worthy of consuming every waking moment of her very existence.

                “I shall, however, make a phone call to the man. As I said, your file is sadly lacking in many details I would have for my own.”

                Riddles? Meera thought to herself.

                The soldier went on and on and on. A long-winded man… But then he said something that sparked Meera’s interest. The Ascendancy? Perhaps this man was a Channeler. Did he have connections to the monarch of the CCD? Oh, how Meera craved a meeting with that man. She had long dreamed of sinking her very teeth into the supple flesh of one so powerful- supposedly the most powerful- but the Atharim forbade her from seeking him out… Still… If she just so happened to encounter him in a professional setting…

                Meera shook herself slightly, making sure to keep her face from giving away any hint of hunger that had begun forming in the pit of her stomach.

                With a concentrated effort, Meera set her pen down upon the pad of legal-ruled paper and folded her hands atop the notes. She looked up at the man and adopted a warm, concerned look, arching one eyebrow ever so slightly. As Eiji-san finished his little monologue, she spoke in a voice covered in thick, sticky honey.

                “Eiji-chan,” Meera accented the change in honorific, “It seems that we have gotten off on the wrong foot. You must forgive me if I came off less than hospitable. It has been a long day. Of course, I take you seriously. I would not have consented to this meeting otherwise. I am a professional, Eiji-chan, I would never discount a patient with potential.”

                Meera pushed away from her desk and wheeled over to the back corner of the room where a record player sat. She turned a dial and placed the needle atop a flat black disk. The Lark Ascending, performed by Ralph Vaughn Williams, began to pour its delicate sounds from the speakers hidden around the room. It was a beautiful, almost heartbreaking, piece played on the violin, just the thing to put this man at ease with her. It could inspire even the most frightened of soldiers into pouring out his heart. This was the one luxury she allowed herself in the office.

                Within moments, Meera was back behind the desk, still holding that same loving look for the man. He might have thought it was all an act, a lie, but Meera would never lie.

                “I am here for you, Eiji-chan, you have my undivided attention for the rest of the afternoon… So, tell me, none of these horrible, awful things were you? Who performed these actions, Eiji-chan? How did you survive all of this? By performing such deeds? Who ordered these things? Your betters? Reveal it all to me, Eiji-chan. Think of me as a… Mirror… In which you can better see yourself. Perhaps we can heal you if you gaze long enough into that mirror…”



"She had tortured hundreds, maybe thousands, in the name of understanding and reason. Torture made sense. You truly saw what a person was made of, in more ways than one, when you began to slice into them. That was a phrase she'd used on numerous occasions. It usually made her smile." 
- The Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm, Chapter 22, Robert Jordan
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#5
Meera was great. Talked up a storm to Eiji. Was she born a liar, or did it come naturally? Meera seemed pleased. Did that meet with her requirements?

He sniffed the air. Even smiling, she didn’t look to him much like the helping kind. His reading of her was more the freaky dangerous kind who just happened not to have killed him yet. It was clear to him if she wanted to him gone, he wouldn’t even have known about it until it happened. But, he gave her the benefit... maybe he intrigued her. She was curious. He ran his fingers through his dark hair.

He let out a long sigh of relief; sat back into his seat; his shoulders relaxed as Meera put on the music. That was perfect. For a moment there—he thought she’d refuse him. This was such a rush! He could kiss her, but no, he wouldn’t. He shuddered at the thought of kissing Meera.

He grinned at Meera when she said she’d call sensei. “Indeed so, I thank you for your time, Alam-Sama. Sensei knows some of me. More than anybody else. But not everything.”

Who hurt you? Eiji thought about it. He closed his eyes.

He looked up and met Meera’s eyes. “That was quite a... quite a good tune you put on today. Very... moving. I’m very impressed,” he said.

He smiled, his voice was low “let’s get on, Alam-Sama... I’d prefer not to have to tell you who it was that hurt me, but you’re asking, and the needs of my missions supersede any private issues I might have.” Chuckling, “you’re my mirror? Sensei Hercule says, ‘I’m not a dentist, you know and this is like pulling teeth. We haven’t much time. Talk to me’”

Eiji took a deep breath:

“I’d been asleep. The sleep had been dreamless at first, then the pictures had begun to come... I saw ice, and snow, which might have covered Cambodia, the heathen shrine world. A silver wolf ran across the snow fields, leaving no trace behind it. It reached a stand of lonely black timbers and looked back. The wolf had my eyes.

From somewhere, the screaming started up. Distant, but clear. A man’s voice, screaming and screaming in such pitiful pain. I knew that voice. Who was it?

The wolf had vanished. For some reason in dream logic, a bright door slashed open in the middle of the trees and a figure stepped out. It was a short well-built man in his late forties. His black hair was dark and dank, and tied back with a ponytail. There was a small blue tattoo of a snake eating its own tail on his cheek.

Half-seen, footsteps clattering over hard ice, I pulled into cover, to hide and wait. I had to jam my hands in my mouth to stop myself crying out, but he’d blinked at me and then took a step or two forward. He flicked his hairy tattooed arm, not hard ... but it sent me flying onto the ice with a bone-breaking crack!

His mouth moved as he spoke, but I couldn’t make out the words— as best as I can make out, he said, “you can’t be here”—sounds were oddly out of sync with his lips. Then he backed away through the door again, like a video feed running in reverse, its obscene light reflecting off the snow... and the door closed.

That was when screaming began to get louder, until there was no snow, no ice, no trees, no dreams at all. Just screaming.

Then I heard the knock. My assistant woke me up, which suited me just fine. I yawned and stretched. The stifling air stank of blood... my blood. I... I was told about my screaming. In short, my wounds trouble me because they are self inflicted, only when I dream.”

He paused, “Why would that be, Alam-Sama?”
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#6
Eiji sniffed the air. It was the smallest action on his part, but as a student of Psychology, Meera had been trained to watch ever slight movement on her patient’s part. Perhaps he was smelling the mildew the permeated this building, but she had doubted that very much. Upon taking up residence within The Guardian, Meera had commissioned a professional team to scrub this room clean. Uncleanliness was a very afront to her virtues. This office was one of- if not the only- room in the entire hospital that was sterile. A shame, really. The operation rooms surely should have seen the same care, but the staff here had apparently paid little mind for such standards.

                Curious, Meera thought to herself.

                The man ran his mouth more before launching into a description of the dreams and nightmares that had plagued him. Meera held on to that warm, concerned look that she had adopted for the man, making notes on her tablet of paper… Until he brought up wolves. And what was that? Something about sharing eyes? Meera brought her own eyes up from the paper and gazed deeply into his. They were not golden, not even hazel. The files on the so-called ‘Wolf-kin’ had spoken of one tell-tale sign that identified their affliction: Goldeneyes. Was the man wearing contacts? The file had also spoken of lucid dreaming and visions… Could he…? And then a mention of the Atharim brand? Oh, this was too rich.

                Meera suppressed a smile.

                She suddenly found herself writing furiously upon the paper, noting every single word that Eiji had spoken of his dreams. If the files were to be believed, this was a vision- perhaps a prophecy- and the Atharim had been at the center of it. She no longer questioned why her superiors might pass along this young man to her. Oh, they would be so pleased to read this report… And perhaps they might even let her indulge a little…

                The young man finished and so did Meera. She placed her pen with a delicate grace upon the pad of paper and brought her fingers up into a steeple beneath her chin. She considered the young man for a few moments, taking in every detail of this wolf-kin- for that is what he had to be- before she spoke. When she did, it was with motherly concern.

                “There could be many reasons, Eiji-chan. Although I have many questions before I may answer your own… Do you dream of wolves often? In dreams, they tend to symbolize the ‘guardian of our life force.’ It can also indicate that you have the durability to progress in life, which you may find yourself doubting… Freud had a case involving wolves, although I am not sure it applies to this situation… This man in your dreams, though, the one with the snake tattoo… Eiji-chan, have you had to fight Channelers? His behavior, in your dreams, has all the hallmark traits of the… witches… that seem to have emerged in our Era. Is this a reoccurring dream? And you have harmed yourself during this dream? How? With your nails? Or perhaps your teeth? I would like to think that this is nothing more than stress related to your PTSD, but something about it troubles me… Something is… off…”

                Meera took a moment to change the record while Eiji formed his response. She just so happened to have a recording of the Japanese Orchestral Favorites on hand. Perhaps Rhapsody for Orchestra performed by Yuzo Toyama and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra would suit the mood. It was a piece that started out gentle, but evoked a certain feeling of adventure and grandeur that may prove useful in bringing out Eiji’s memories of this ‘wolf-dream.’



"She had tortured hundreds, maybe thousands, in the name of understanding and reason. Torture made sense. You truly saw what a person was made of, in more ways than one, when you began to slice into them. That was a phrase she'd used on numerous occasions. It usually made her smile." 
- The Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm, Chapter 22, Robert Jordan
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#7
[Image: attachment.php?aid=13]

“Are you going to quote Freud at me, Alam-Sama?” Eiji asked, making no effort to disguise his sarcastic tone.

He glanced up; scornful of the loving concern on her face; of the warmth in her voice.

Dr. Meera Alam, clamped into her wheeled seat, turned her head to look. She stared at Eiji for a long while, expressionless. The record played behind Eiji with a familiar tune from his native Japan. It was airless in the office.

The office was painstakingly neat and ordered, exactly the preserve one might expect of a woman like Meera Alam-Sama. She read her way across the paperwork spread out across the desk. This afternoon Alam-Sama seemed to have supplied everything that had been asked for, and she took attentive notes. He duly noted her drop in deferential tone to him. She, like Sensei, seemed well-acquainted with the nuances of his culture, its polite speak.

Eiji walked around the wheel chair once, and came to a halt facing Meera Alam-Sama. The doctor made direct and immediate eye contact without flinching. Her dark, bright eyes seemed to lunge at Eiji in the yellow glow of the room. Eiji could sense—

“…!”

That afternoon, Eiji felt particularly twitchy. It could have been the unexpected music from home, but his palms were damp, and there was a coppery taste in his mouth. It felt like adrenaline, the feeling he got in the zone, the feeling of being on all the time. He hadn’t had it this bad in weeks, and it seemed to be getting worse and worse as he looked back at Alam-Sama.

He had to fight back a desire to duck for cover.

What was doing it? What had set him off?

He looked around, turning a full circle, but there was nothing new to see and no one around except the doctor. He was hyper aware of the distant hum of electricity, the shadows playing across Meera’s face, the yellow glow of room, the languid lap of an orchestra running softly through his mind, the drab stone of the walls, the smells of cleansing product and polished wood, fern leaves, the fume of his breath in the air, the beat of his heart, and the flaked and faded paint of the nearby desk.

Nothing.

He sniffed a breath, and relaxed his grip. Eiji had braced himself to deal with a threat. But, whatever it was, it had gone now.

The soldier stopped and rubbed the bridge of his nose, eyes closed.

He noticed, to his disgust, that he was getting yet another memory flash cued by the music from home… his jaw clenched.

When he came back to Moscow, Eiji Lynx was confronted by a life he’d never known before. Before the CCD and the fighting in Cambodia, he’d been a street kid; it was all down to his past, the years he’d spent growing up on the bad side of Shinjuku. He could remember the old days, days spent with empty pockets and an emptier belly, when he and some of the others would venture to market stalls to try to lift a little food or clothes, though the back streets were private and full of menace. And then he’d been armed forces, rattling wearily from one hell hole to another. He’d spent a lot of years doing things that he wasn’t especially proud of.

Suddenly he was a grown man, an officer, with responsibilities, and a pretty comfortable pension, and the best part years of CCD cash backpay stagnating in his bank account. There was nothing to do but to wait and drill, and sit around and find something to spend your pay on. There was no immediate sign of active deployment in the offing.

Stuff it! She knows what she’s doing. All the while you’ve been spilling out that self-pity, Alam-sama's been working. You know what you’re doing. Tell her what she can do. She can help you, Eiji, but in order to do that, you’ve got to learn to trust her.

He looked at Meera. His eyes were fierce.

“Yeah, PTSD and more,” Eiji agreed. “Any veteran can tell you that adjusting to civilian life is hard, like kicking a drug habit. Your body is too used to living on an adrenaline high for months at a time. You grow detached. You get jumpy, antsy, restless. You suffer migraines, dizziness, anxiety. Your sleep suffers. Your hands sweat. If you’re really unlucky, you get phobic or develop anti-social habits. You experience memory flashes cued by something innocent, like the sound of shouting or the smell of a camp fire, and wind up on a diet of pill cocktails, or in prison on a formal statement.” He looked at Meera and smiled. “On the bright side, there may be some prescriptions to write soon, eh, Alam-Sama?"

His joke fell flat... Eiji Lynx was not a stupid man. He was well aware that this thinking—his pathology—was pretty twisted, which was why he hadn’t shared its details with anybody. He told himself that dreaming was a coping system, that it kept him sane, and that it beat descending into the hell of drug abuse, or drink, or much, much worse.

“Do you dream of wolves often?” Meera asked, still studying the various documents.

He cleared his throat.

“We’ve only just begun. I’d learn how to fend for myself early on. I’d run with the others who’d taught me some life skills. But it was fighting in the ruins of Asia that had been the making of me,” he said, skidding matter-of-factly through the account as if it was a summary of how he’d spent an idle morning off-duty. “In soldiering, in war, I discovered my own dreams: wolf dreams; running with wolves; running as a wolf. At the beginning, the dream would vanish in the time it took me to write it down. Now, I just can’t seem to forget any.”

His command of the common English was excellent, but he had an accent, a clipped accent that put an edge on the words, and made each syllable sound as though it were draped in razor-wire.

“Have you ever lucid dreamt, Alam-Sama?” he asked. "I wake in this strange place, and find, upon my soul, I’m nearer to the end of the dream, where I’m running. I bite my fingers, arms, anything to wake,” he said. He paused, and looked away, as if hearing a distant voice. He began to mutter again. “At times, a silver wolf saves me. Every night, he comes to me. Why? Because I'm stressed?"

“As far as you can tell, that man with the snake tattoo is a... witch of this era? He's real?” He shrugged.

“No, I’ve only seen him in one dream, and survived by the skin of my teeth,” he replied in that voice of accent and barbed wire. “Fighting such a monster— I’m not sure I want to do that. I’d be damning myself.”

Sensei had mentioned a fascination with surgical and genetic experimentation amongst some of the channelers. What does Meera Alam-Sama know of these... people? He shook his head.

“Now, what can you tell me?” asked Eiji. It was still and airless in Alam-Sama’s office. He wanted to rap on her door and urge whoever responsible to crank up the ventilation.

He had walked back to Meera’s side, and was reaching out his hand to pause the record player. He hesitated. “When you say something is off, what do you mean?” he asked.

Eiji Lynx
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