Synch taps at the pad of paper in his lap with the pencil in his hand. He had just been in his room to make sure Gloria was fine, and on his way out he had collected a drawing pad and pencil to pass the time with. Standing around on his feet had been harder than the boy considered, so indead he practiced his sketching ability, a few half-finished sketches of Moobeetle already on it.
Bree emerges from her room, book open and in hand. She begins to walk slowly down the hall, and almost fails to notice Synch sitting in front of his door. When she does, however, she finishes her sentence, closes her book and gives the boy a half-smile. "Hey," she says to him. "What're you up to?"
Synch looks up as he hears a familiar voice, and gives Bree a smile of his own. He holds up a finger, making a few more quick marks on the page before circling a drawing and showing it to her. The quick sketch shows a stick figure with a shield standing in front of a door, and someone in the room behind the stick figure sleeping.
"Oh," Bree blinked, unused to any attempt at communication besides sign language. "Someone's sleeping in your room?" She tried for a moment to think of who it might be. Coming up with nothing, she decided to simply ask. "Who is it?"
Synch spends a little bit more time responding here, actually writing this time. "One of the soldiers from outside. She's been sent in as an emmisary to help ease the situation. I volunteered my room for her to stay in, and have been watching the area since. Narukami in specific seemed... unhappy with them."
"Ah, I see," Bree said, grateful that she didn't have to figure all that out via pantomime. "When you get tired, you can sleep in my room." After a brief moment, her expression grew a bit darker and shw followed with "So, what do you think about this whole mess?"
Synch purses his lips for a moment before writing again. "It's a clusterfuck all the way around. The soldiers are obviously unhappy with their situation, but from what I can tell they're new arrivals. They have no idea how to change yet. The girl in there, she's younger than me. I spoke to her and you could see the idea of 'The Council might be wrong' sink into her head. She isn't taking it well."
Bree nodded, then continued. "So you do know what's going on? I saw that you weren't at the breifing." Without waiting for an answer, she started to rant a bit, saying "Dammit, I can't believe Raion got us mixed up in this. We're mercenaries, not politicians. Now we've got nine days before we get attacked by some group we shouldn't have anything to do with. Doesn't he realize we could die from this?" She took a breath and went to carry on, but fell silent again and added after a moment's thought "Sorry, I guess I should be grateful that I have work and a place to stay, but... well, none of us signed up for this."
The boy shrugs. "We're Heroes. It doesn't matter if we're for hire or not, we have to try and do the right thing. Besides, given what I've been through the past month or so, open war with five people isn't really anything escalated." He pauses, tapping the pencil against the page for a few moments as he thinks before starting back up again. "That said, I don't plan on letting this come to blows. Even if I personally need to escort the woman back to her people so that no one can attack her, I'll do it. This is all wrong, but if we hurt these people, it'll be even worse."
Bree sighed quietly. "Sure, we're "Heroes", but that doesn't mean we should get involved in every petty political power struggle. And really, I for one don't even know why these people are rebelling. We could be the bad guys here for all I know. I...guess it's true that you've been through worse, but these are trained soldiers. If we end up fighting, we're not all going to make it out alive. We're just not. And...I mean, I knew this was going to be a dangerous job, but...well, I don't want to die like this.'
Synch looks at Bree for a few moments, again wishing that he could actually communicate through more than just this. He shakes his head, and turns to a new page to write this time. "Bree. I'll tell you right now. You will not die here. As long as I'm around, you will be safe. Trust me when I say this. I will keep you as safe as I possibly can. I-. I'm watching this girl this closely right now because she's not scared, she's terrified. She sees herself as behind hostile enemy lines. But trust me when I say that if a battle breaks out, I will keep you safe." Synch hands the pad to Bree this time, so that she can read it with a little more personal impact.
Bree takes the notepad and reads it over. After a few moments, she sinks to the floor next to Synch and sits. "...Thanks," she mutters. "I guess it is probably even worse for them. Especially her." Successfully suppressing a sob, she continued "I really do hope this all gets resolved without a fight. If..it does come to that, though, please don't worry about me. Just look after yourself, alright?"
Synch lifts one of his hands and hesitates for a moment, before putting it around Bree's shoulders and comforting her. Retrieving his notepad, he settles it on his knee so she can read as he writes. "I'll do what I'll do, if things go poorly. Believe me, I'm tougher than you probably imagine." He gives he a small smile, before continuing. "Like I said though. It'll end without a fight. I'll see to it that happens."
"Alright," Bree said as he wrote, a tiny bit of hope returning to her eyes. "Well, I can't very well feel sorry for myself forever. I'll help you, if I can. I take it you've already talked to the girl?"
Synch nods, and pulls his arm away from Bree's shoulders, hoping he hadn't gone too far with that. "Like I said, she took it poorly. Currently. I'm watching the door to make sure no tries to get to her, and her to make sure she doesn't do anything... drastic."
Bree was a bit disappointed when Synch took his arm away, but she tried not to let it show. Instead, she just said with a slight nod "Yeah, that's a good idea. I can't picture anyone here trying anything, but it would way bad if they did. Better to be safe." In an attempt to change the subject, she ended with "So, has anyone else come by?"
Synch nods, and begins elaborating once more through writing. "The man with the shield. Damesik I think his name is. He's apparentally been making a show of kindness to the soliders outside, bringing them food and drinks, and talking with them. It's why I think we have a fighting chance of coming through all of this peacefully. As long as no one tries anything stupid that is."
"Another good idea," Bree replied. "Maybe I'll go meet with them later. I only saw them in passing on my way in, and I didn't talk to any of them. It is good to see at least one of the others treating them well, though. Do you know how the rest are handling it?"
"It's kind of hard to tell with the rest of them. I've been spending most of my time watching the door since everything went down, and even then I was too busy being the one out in front talking to the soldiers to see how others were reacting. I recall Narukami not taking it well though. I'm worried about him trying something." Synch drums his fingers on his leg for a few moments before shrugging to cap it off.
"Ah, I'm sorry that I wasn't there to help, by the way. I thought I'd spend my paycheck on a few new books, but I could not have timed it worse." Going on to the last part of the paragraph, Bree added "Oh, Narukami...which one is that?"
"The other boy around my age. You can see him holding a card, or accompanied by a giant guy in platemail." Synch shrugs at this. "Not really sure what the relation between those two is, but I haven't had time to ask." He looks off to the side for a moment before skipping a little bit down the page. "Sooo, what books did you end up getting?"
"Oh, the gray guy? I think I've seen him around. Maybe I'll talk to him next time I see him..." Continuing down the page, Bree grinned a bit and said "Oh, just a few fiction novels and a biography. I can't be studying with /all/ of my free time."
Synch gives a silent chuckle. "True enough, I suppose. Lemmie borrow one of those fictions when you're done with them. I tend to like a good fantasy romp every once in a while."
Oh, sure thing!" Bree said, a bit surprised. "I'm more into contemporary fict...er, well, what /was/ contemporary fiction. I'm in the middle of this one right now," she said, holding up the one she had in her hand, "but you can borrow the other one. Remind me to grab it later."
Synch nods, and gives the girl next to him a wide grin. He taps the pencil against the page he had been writing on, before suddenly Moobeetle makes it's presence known, crawling up onto the notepad and getting totally in the boy's way. After some silent fustration trying to get his old friend to let go of the page, or at least move someplace else, Synch reluctantly pulls out another food pellet and gives it to the insect, who now happily moves back to the ground. "Argh, sorry about that."
"No problem," Bree laughed. Looking at the paper again, a thought hit her. "Oh, I suppose now would be as good a time to ask as any. How did you and the beetle come across each other? And what exactly is its name? You tried to tell me before, but I...don't think I got it quite right."
Synch chuckles to himself, before nodding and starting write once more. "He's Moobeetle. 'cause he's a beetle that moos, get it? Yeah, I know, pretty childish name, but I wasn't feeling the best when we first met. As for that..." He smiles again, but this time his gaze has become distant, almost like he's looking at the past. He reaches out, and pets the insect close to him a few times before continuing.
"It's... hard. The story I mean. I suppose if you really want to know, I can tell you. But until then, I found him as a pupa. Just, no explination, no notes or signs of how he had gotten there. But he felt important. And, he was all alone, so I couldn't just leave him there in that scrap pile. He never would have survived." Synch taps the page a few more times before laying the pencil down, ending the story there.
"Ugh, how was that not my first guess?" Bree giggled to herself. This was short lived, however, and her expression quickly regained it's usual gravity. "I see. Sorry for making you talk about it. I guess the important thing is that you're together, as cliche as that sounds."
Synch shrugs simply, and give Bree a small smile to show he's okay. "It's a long time ago, and that part of my life is over. Well, mostly over I guess. I'll have to let people know about it eventually though. Sure you don't wanna hear right now?" He tries to give a silent laugh as he rubs the back of his head, to play it off as a joke, but he drops the show soon after. The truth is, it'll have to happen eventually.
"Oh...well, I mean, I'd certainly like to hear it, I just don't want to make you do anything you're not comfortable with," Bree replied quickly. "I am always available to talk if you don't want to right now, also."
Synch sighs deeply, and twirls the pencil around in his fingers for a few moments before he begins writing. "No, it needs to be done. Even if it's just for you, someone needs to know." He hesitates for a few moments before beginning again. "My name is Synch Umarov. I don't know when I was born. I couldn't really tell you either date. But I know where I was born. Both times, actually. My first birth was in the Special Developments Center, deep in the testing labs of the Magitek facility."
"I was born for a simple function, I hunted the targets they told me to. That's all. Find, collect, depart for new mission. If you want to know my full capture record, I couldn't fully tell you. But my second birth was in the woods of the Neibleheim mountians. Mission 94b, I think."
Bree could hardly believe what she was reading. "Wait," she started slowly, "You're telling me that you were...I'm sorry to hear that. But what do you mean by second birth?"
"I was hunting down an esper. Standard mission, standard equipment loadout, which is to say my bare hands and a pair of handcuffs designed to nullify their powers for a while. I had already botched a few missions by failing to secure the targets properly, and paid for it with pain. Lost an arm once, a few of my organs the second time. It made for a painful self-dragging back to base. Heh, I almost died that second time."
"So there I was, Ice class being, known for at least two attacks on humans and at least twenty reported animal killings. No grey on this one on paper, just black and white job. Brought myself to the target area, found the tracks it left behind, followed them to the esper's lair." Synch's fist clenches here, and remains so as he continues writing. "And that's when I saw her."
"Couldn't have looked more than 10. Dressed in the tattered remains of some frilly dress. Stupid really. If she had been any other elemental class besides that, she would have been freezing. But, there she was, surprised to see me. That was what I was good at, you see. Silence. It was what I was born for." Synch breaks off here, tapping the page a few times in irritation before going on. "Heh, it's still hard to let people know about. Conditioning. It does that to you. So There I was, handcuffs in hand, looming over this little girl. That's when I woke up the second time. I realized what would happen to her back 'home'. So I didn't capture her. I faked some injuries, bad enough to make it look like she was more powerful than they thought. Then I told her to run. Stupid me, tried to limp back to base afterwards." Synch straightens here, having hunched over the notepad to write this, and clasps a hand over his eyes for a few moments, rubbing at them.
Synch begins writing again after a few moments. "It didn't work. The read me, and knew what happened. Oh they were angry. They started to realize what was going on. Tried to re-condition me. Get me reprogramed and they could just send me back out, right? I figured I could live through it, keeping myself secretly safe until I was able to escape, find the girl again, and then flee. But I was wrong. They knew about what I did, and they knew how best to break me to their will again."
Here, Synch reaches under his shirt, to a pouch tied to his chest. Unzipping it, he reaches inside, and pulls out a small ice-blue sphere. He sets it on the pad for a few moments, bitterly looking at it before returning it to it's resting place.
"With proper refining, an esper never really dies. It's hardened. Refined. Trapped. More powerful ones can keep a sense of their self, even in that form. But the weaker ones are all but reduced to their element. They made me process her to recondition me. Problem is it did the opposite of what they wanted. I broke. I couldn't do anything afterwards. Kept breaking into the storage room to find her again." Synch sighs again, causing his beetle-companion to look up to the boy questioningly.
Synch reaches forwards and pats his friend on the shell. It was an old story anyways, and close to the end. "I found out a few weeks later that they were replacing me. No use in a broken tool, much less one that learned to think for itself. So they put me out. That's where everything stopped. I can't tell you about the next period of time. Could be months, could be years. When I found myself again is when I met Moobs here. And we've been walking ever since. Just trying to do good around, here and there. Where we could find it.'
Now it was Bree's turn to put her arm around her friend's shoulder. "I'm so sorry, Synch," she said softly. "I had no idea that things have been so hard for you. I guess you probably didn't have friends or anything, did you? That sounds awful."
Synch gives off a small smile. Comforting wasn't something he managed to get, often. "Hey, I lived. Me and Moobs did. We're just trying to make up for what happened in the past, I guess. Though, I guess for him it's mostly about the treats." He turns to Bree for a moment, before noticing something drop from his eye and land on the page. After looking at the wet spot for a moment, Synch realizes tears are coming down his face, and he raises a hand back up to wipe at his eyes some more.
Bree knew that she should say something comforting, but she found herself unable to think of a single thing. Instead, she squeezed him tight and curled her legs up, wrapping her free arm around her knees. Unable to meet his gaze, she stared at the floor in front of her, half lost in thought and half drowning in emotion.
Synch controls his tears for a moment, but finds them coming back again soon afterwards. Suddenly he was made all too aware of the pouch wrapped around his chest, and the weight of the small stone. Defeated, the boy sets his notepad aside, and wraps his free arm around Bree's shoulders as well, allowing the tears to flow for a while as they willed.