Reed: Heart Like a Reed

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Operator Record
Heart Like a Reed
Reed icon.png

When those caught in the dark see the fringes of the light—

Unlock conditions

Characters
RI Guard icon.png
Calm Operator
Male R.I. Logistics icon.png
Human Resources Operator
Reserve Operator - Logistics icon.png
Medic Operator
Reserve Operator - Melee icon.png
Operator Passerby
Reserve Operator - Sniper icon.png
Pensive Operator
Female R.I. Logistics icon.png
Records Room Operator
Training Ground Manager
Backgrounds
RI Room
1
Wildlands
2
RI Infirmary
3
RI Corridor
4
Light
5
RI Command Center
6
RI Training Compound
7
Warehouse
8
When life settles down, Reed finally gets a chance to learn about the Sankta who made the ultimate sacrifice to save her.
<Background black>
Smoke and debris spill over the hills, scorching flames searing the land.
The helpless red dragon, locked upon its throne.
Threads pierce its bones – so that it may not move.
Originium splits open its flesh – so that it may not heal.
Cries fill its ears – so that it may find no rest.
A scepter nails the tip of its tongue, a crown binds its brain, and a stone orb crushes its spine.
It is a red dragon atop a throne, a puppet of the shadows.
It may not resist, beg for mercy, or escape.
Within its purgatory, the living statue weeps.
Tears drip from its eyes, flowing along the threads into its unhealing scars.
All it receives in return for its suffering and obedience is silence.
Bitter hail begins to fall from the sky—
......
[Lost in thoughts, Reed walks through her room.]
<Background 1>
Reed ......
<Flashback starts here>
<Background 2>
??? Dublinn's men might come back any moment now. We need to find a way to get another car.
Don't worry, I promise you we're going to make it out of here alive.
<Background 3>
??? Was she caught up in a Catastrophe? Both her Originium infection as well as her wounds are quite severe...
*sigh*... Once we've done our part, the rest is up to her.
<Background 4>
??? Then, we'll register your information.
Out of consideration for the fact that you're still a patient, we've prepared a single dorm for you. If that's acceptable, then please sign here.
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 1>
Reed ......
Reed sits down on the bed, blankly staring at the door to her room.
Rhodes Island's standard-issue sliding door perfectly fulfills the task for which it was created, letting not even a speck of light through.
Of course, its sound insulation is also beyond question. Though, given that it is that time of day when people begin their daily activities, some noisy voices nevertheless reach Reed's ears.
This is exactly the life she dreamed of.
She need only open the door, and she would become a part of Rhodes Island too, living a life in the sunlight.
However—
Reed Ugh... It hurts...
The Originium crystals remind her—
The feeling of guilt reminds her—
The shadows remind her—
She doesn't deserve it.
"For Dublinn!" No matter how guilty she felt, she had put so, so many people to death with this rallying cry.
Every one of those souls, young and old, were always staring at her. It's all they can do now, harshly sting at her soul whenever her heart sways like a reed in the wind.
That's the only form of revenge left for the dead.
Repent, and you will be forgiven – a cheap adage for the heartless. True forgiveness does not exist.
After all, the dead cannot speak, nor can they forgive. All they can do is torment. Just as they were tormented.
Reed This... is how it should be...
This is what I deserve...
[Reed turns away from the door.]
Reed lies down again, with her back to the door, as if this would somehow let her ignore the noises coming from beyond.
Those things don't belong to her. She isn't worthy.
No matter how badly she wants them.
Reed I belong in a prison...
......
<Background black>
However, within this darkness...
She still remembers the light that occasionally pierced the dark clouds.
Born from a ring of flame... like a sun...
She longs to touch that light...
[Someone knocks on her door.]
<Background 1>
[Reed gets up.]
Reed ......
??? Reed, are you in there?
Reed One moment... I'll be right there...
[Reed walks to the door but doesn't open it. The person on the other side knocks again.]
Medic Operator Hello, I'm here to give you your routine physical.
Reed Didn't the Doctor say...
Medic Operator Oh, yes— The two of you agreed that you should be undergoing regular comprehensive examinations, right? But what we're doing now is just the most basic stuff—blood pressure and heart rate monitoring. No needles or clunky equipment involved.
You're still an inpatient for now, and we do need to keep tabs on your numbers, but the Doctor won't always be available. I won't bother you again until your condition has stabilized.
Of course, if you don't want to, I'm not going to force you.
Reed ......
I appreciate the help... Come on in.
[Reed opens the door.]
Medic Operator Go ahead and lie back down on the bed.
Reed Mhm...
Medic Operator The light switch... should be right here... Found it.
[The medic operator turns on the light.]
Reed Ugh...
Medic Operator Oh, sorry about that! I'll dim it down a bit—
Reed N-No worries. This is good enough...
Medic Operator O-Okay then.
Then, let me have you flat on the bed, and I'll handle the rest.
Reed Mhm...
[Reed moves her tail away.]
<Background black>
Before lying down, Reed moves her tail to the other side of the bed so that the burning flames will not affect the work of the Medical operator.
The fabrics of the bed are made from special materials so she doesn't have to worry about inadvertently setting the entire room on fire.
Reed originally thought the medic would stare at her tail curiously and ask questions, but she simply stares at the notebook and her instruments, with no intention of making small talk.
[Reed lies down.]
<Background 5>
So Reed lies face-up on the bed, casting her eyes towards the ceiling, her gaze slowly drawn to the light emanating from the ceiling lamp.
Medic Operator That should do the trick... Next up is...
It is nothing more than an ordinary ceiling light. Upon closer inspection, she can see a ring-shaped bulb through the covering.
Like a Sankta's shining halo...
Reed Do you know... where the Sankta who saved me is? I want to thank her...
Medic Operator You were sent to Rhodes Island by a Victorian Vouivre and some Rhodes Island operators who were on a mission in County Hillock. I don't recall any Sankta being among them.
Reed Did I misremember...?
Reed continues to look at the ceiling lamp. The light from that Sankta was so vivid in her memory, there should be no mistaking it.
Medic Operator But I did hear that we lost an elite operator during that operation...
Reed Elite operator...?
Medic Operator She was a respected older woman. Though she rarely swung by Medical, the snipers who came by for treatment or just to get a physical always had something to say about her.
They said that she was extremely patient, and that her revolver was even more accurate.
If I recall, I think she was a Sankta...
Reed What... was her name?
Medic Operator Outcast... That's what they all called her...
Reed Outcast...
The conversation seemingly reaches a dead end as the two tacitly agree to stop talking. Only the occasional beeps from the medical equipment still echo across the room.
<Background 1>
Medic Operator Alright, all done with the exam. Congratulations, Reed, a lot of your indicators have improved since your last exam, which means your condition should be stabilizing soon.
Reed Mhm...
Medic Operator Then, if there's nothing else you need, I'll be heading out.
Should I turn the lights off?
Reed No thanks, this is fine...
Medic Operator Alright. I'll leave you to it, then.
[The medic operator leaves.]
Reed Her death...
Was my fault...
Reed's mind starts to go blank.
She had never interacted with this Outcast person before – as a matter of fact, she only learned of her code name just now.
And yet, she had made the ultimate sacrifice to save her life?
Reed Outcast... Outcast...
She repeats this name again and again, the name of the person who peeled back the corners of darkness for her.
......
Whether it was out of honor, respect, or simply curiosity, she feels as if it is her duty to know more about this great individual.
[Reed leaves her room.]
Of course, once she's fulfilled this duty, she would once again have to return to her room to continue her self-imposed confinement.
<Background 4>
[Reed walks through Rhodes Island's corridors.]
Daily life suddenly blossoms so vividly before her, and it proves strange and foreign.
Some cordial pleasantries, a bit of noise stirred up by trivial matters, and some idle chatter to pass the time.
How long had it been since she experienced these things?
Reed holds onto her left wrist with her right hand and leans against the edge of the corridor, trying to hide her tail as best as possible to make herself less conspicuous.
How she craves to be a part of this life; to pick up a fountain pen, or to savor a soft drink.
But she is not allowed to.
The ghosts of the past still sit atop her shoulders, tearing away any hopes she might have for a better life.
[Reed continues walking.]
<Background 6>
[Reed enters the Human Rescources Department.]
Reed Hello...
Human Resources Operator Hm? Oh, Reed, please have a seat.
How can I help you today?
Reed I want to ask something... about Outcast...
Human Resources Operator Oh... Did you have some business with her?
Reed I...
Human Resources Operator Her office isn't too far from here. After all, the personnel transfer happened only a few months ago.
I have a map here. You can take a look if you want.
Basically... Go this way, and you'll be there after turning the corner.
Reed Thank you...
Human Resources Operator No worries. Just doing my job.
[Reed leaves. Another operator approaches the HR operator.]
Human Resources Operator ......
Operator Passerby (*whispers*) Hasn't Outcast's office already been...
Human Resources Operator (*whispers*) Hush. Just mind your own business.
(*whispers*) Do you think I don't know? Can't you just leave someone to their thoughts?
Operator Passerby Oh, y-yeah...
Human Resources Operator *sigh*... What a pitiful sight...
<Background 4>
[Reed heads to the office.]
Reed This should be the place.
[Reed knocks on the office door.]
<Background 6>
[An operator opens the door.]
Records Room Operator Hello. Can I help you?
Reed Excuse me, is this where Outcast's office is?
Records Room Operator Oh...
Yes, this used to be her office.
It was transferred to us recently, and we're about to turn it into a new archive.
Are you her...?
Reed Oh, it's nothing... I was just taking a look around...
Records Room Operator Suit yourself– Wait, I see. I get it now.
Please, go right ahead.
Reed Outcast... Did she leave anything behind here?
Records Room Operator Sorry, but the HR Department has probably already disposed of her personal effects.
Reed Oh, okay...
She thought she'd be able to find some trace of Outcast's existence here, but instead all she finds is an empty office and a complete stranger.
So she begins to think about where else on Rhodes Island this Sankta may have had ties.
Sankta... Guns... Sniper operators...
Reed May I ask you one more question?
Records Room Operator Go ahead.
Reed Where can I find the shooting range?
<Background 7>
[Reed enters the shooting range.]
Reed heads to the shooting range, hoping to find some information on Outcast. Anything would do; surely there would be someone here who knows her.
But upon entering the vast facility, the only thing she feels... is fear.
The unfortunate are tied up to the target dummies while the brainwashed raise their weapons towards them, awaiting her command.
Reed No... This isn't how it should be...
No matter what she wants to say, no matter what she says, her every word is a command. With each word, a trigger is pulled, and a bolt rips its way into flesh.
The operators are here to train, and so the cycle continues – reload, aim, shoot.
The targets are here to be destroyed, and so the cycle continues – wait, be aimed at, confirm hit.
The victims are bound tightly to the target dummies, lamenting Reed's savagery until their lifeblood runs dry.
And so, this place ceases to be a training ground, and instead becomes an exhibition of her vile deeds.
Reed No, no...
??? Look out!
[Suddenly, an explosion occurs. Reed is pushed out of the explosion range by someone.]
Kroos You alright, mate?
Reed Mm... Thank you.
[An announcement is made over the loudspeakers.]
Training Ground Manager Station 6, as well as stations 5, 4, 7, and 8 will be temporarily closed for maintenance for fifteen minutes. Any operators using those stations, please come on down.
And you, the bastard in station number 6, don't even think of running off! I'll be seeing you in the administrative office!
Kroos The fella who brought explosives to the shooting range is probably in for a real tongue-lashing.
[A Sankta boy approaches.]
Kroos Oh, hey there, Adnachiel~
Adnachiel Oh, Kroos, did you make a new friend?
Kroos Nah, we just met. I think she dropped by the shooting range to get a feel for what it's like over here?
See, look at the super long lance she's holding. Not much of a sniper, if you ask me.
Reed ......
Adnachiel Hello, my name is Adnachiel.
Kroos Whoops, looks like I forgot to introduce myself— 'ello there, the name's Kroos.
Reed Reed... You can just call me Reed...
......
Kroos Um...
Adnachiel .......?
Kroos Oh yeah, Adnachiel, you ready for the upcoming practical?
Adnachiel Huh?
Oh. With Melantha leading us, there won't be any issues.
Kroos Hmm~? But I've been seeing you in the training stations practicing with your handgun~
Adnachiel Haha, caught red-handed, huh?
Reed (Gun... Sankta...)
Adnachiel Sure, I haven't gotten authorization to use a gun yet, but as someone from Laterano, how could I not want to try it out?
Which is why I asked Outcast to give me some training earlier.
Kroos Like, Blacksteel-style?
Adnachiel Yup.
She taught me a whole bunch of gunnery tips, like the influence of how I hold my gun on my reaction speed, or how to quickly draw and fire.
In one demonstration, she even specifically showed how to execute it with both a gun and a crossbow, teaching me that certain techniques are actually transferrable.
Kroos Then you'll have to give me a rundown sometime. Can never have too many tricks up your sleeve~
Adnachiel Sure, sounds like a plan.
But...
We agreed to do a progress check on my skills before continuing, but...
Reed (Outcast...)
What is it like... to shoot a gun?
Adnachiel What is it like? Uh... I'm not sure I really understand either.
[Another announcement is made.]
Training Ground Manager Alright, take down those barriers and warning signs.
The five training stations are open again. Get back to practice, you guys.
Adnachiel You'll get a feel for it when you try it yourself, Reed.
Reed I... will...?
Is it really okay?
Adnachiel Training handguns are made specifically for novices. Like crossbows, they're not that hard to use.
Kroos And we'll be here with you, so you got nothing to worry about~
Reed I...
......
I understand.
<Background fades out and in>
Adnachiel Just pay attention to how I'm handling it.
Reed Is this... how you do it?
Adnachiel Yup, you've got your fingers in the right places.
Kroos Now, lift the gun, aim the crosshair at the target, and pull the trigger~
Reed Aim at the target...
She clutches the gun tightly.
The training gun is fairly light, but it keeps trembling in her hands.
Kroos Don't be nervous now. Just take a deep breath~
Reed Mhm...
She aims at her scars, at her ghosts, at this display of her sins.
And pulls the trigger—
[Reed fires the gun.]
Kroos Nice shot~ Though, just a bit off the mark.
Reed's shot completely missed the mark, only leaving a black dot in the upper-left corner of the target paper.
Reed Thank you...
Reed sets the gun down.
Kroos Not gonna give it another try?
Reed I think that's enough...
The moment she fired the bullet, the gun responded with a powerful recoil.
It was a Sankta weapon. To squeeze the trigger is to make a declaration. And at the same time, to accept the consequences.
Outcast was fully aware of how heavy each shot she fired was, yet she... most likely never hesitated.
Adnachiel I'll continue with my training then.
After the test is over, I should probably make a trip to the reliquary and report the results to the instructor.
Reed Reliquary?
Kroos Yup, the reliquary.
It's a place where Rhodes Island stores the belongings of excellent instructors that've since left us.
Reed Where is this... reliquary?
<Background 8>
Reliquary Entrance
[Reed heads to the reliquary.]
After entering the Integrated Bioprocessing Unit, continue around the corner and you'll reach the door to the reliquary. Perhaps the lengthy corridor leading up to it is in consideration of the special nature of the room.
Reed planned to head straight inside, but a conversation between two operators in the corner catches her attention.
Because of a name they brought up–
Reed (Outcast...)
The two operators seem to have been members of her team.
So she also takes a spot in the corner, as if waiting for someone.
She wants to hear what they have to say about Outcast.
Calm Operator So do you regret it now? Not going with her?
Pensive Operator ......
Calm Operator I already saw the report. What happened at County Hillock spun completely out of control.
Pensive Operator Even so, she could have easily made it back alive, if she really wanted to.
This is Outcast we're talking about.
Calm Operator ...Misery brought her gun chamber back. At the very end, she fired all six rounds.
Do you think she had any regrets?
Reed holds her breath.
Pensive Operator Never.
Calm Operator So, I'll bring the question back around. What about you?
Reed looks away. She can almost envision what is about to be said.
Anger, hatred. These things are all too familiar to her.
Pensive Operator I don't regret a thing either.
Reed (Huh?)
Pensive Operator She's never hesitated to ask for our help before. Since she decided to go solo this time, I'm sure she'd already thought things through.
Calm Operator The evacuees from County Hillock brought back someone seriously wounded.
Pensive Operator An Infected?
Calm Operator An Infected.
Pensive Operator If there's any outcome that would satisfy her, that'd be it.
......
Calm Operator ......
Pensive Operator Then, let's not disturb her rest any longer. She's been so busy for so long, she really ought to get some sleep.
[The pensive operator leaves.]
Calm Operator Goodnight, our dear old friend. May you still remember a few of us in your dreams.
We'll come see you again next time.
[The calm operator leaves as well.]
Her life being saved must have been a coincidence.
But one thing is for certain.
As long as she meets Outcast, she will find salvation.
No matter how much the situation changes, the outcome remains the same.
Reed looks down the corridor to the entrance of the reliquary.
There, Outcast is awaiting her arrival.
[Reed enters the reliquary.]
<Background fades out and in>
Originally, these artifacts were stacked in a warehouse in the Integrated Bioprocessing Unit, along with other unclaimed items.
But everyone knows that some things will never be claimed, and only gather dust in the warehouse. Precious artifacts, fated to be eroded by time.
So they were placed into custom-made storage containers, and housed in a small room at the end of the warehouse.
It is a cemetery, made for the operators who have given their lives for the cause.
But there are neither flowers nor tombstones here.
Everyone keeps their voices down, for fear of disturbing the slumber of the deceased.
The same goes for Reed. She restrains her fire, trying not to allow the dancing flames to disturb the solemn atmosphere.
In front of each artifact compartment is a plume of light, and Reed follows the lights to identify the person sleeping there.
Scout......Whitesmith......
Outcast.
Her artifacts are here.
Just as Reed approaches, someone else happens to be turning around to leave.
[Reed approaches the Doctor.]
Doctor ......
Reed (Quietly) Doctor...
Doctor (Nod)
[The Doctor leaves and Reed continues into the requiary.]
Here, silence is the most effective means of communication.
After a simple exchange of courtesies, the two pass each other by.
It is then that Reed sees the code name of the one the Doctor was mourning–
Ace.
Perhaps, it tells the story of another savior. Perhaps one day, someone will tell that story to her.
But not today.
She walks in front of Outcast's artifact compartment, bows slightly, then reflects upon the legacy she left behind on this land.
In the compartment lies a damaged gun chamber, and next to it lies a eulogy someone wrote for her–
Reed ("She never capitulated, even after enduring countless trials and tribulations. Her muzzle belched tongues of flame that burned like an angry sun, and the glow above her head was brighter than the daylight itself.")
("Buried here is Outcast, our friend.")
......
*sniffle*...
(Hello, Outcast.)
(I've come here to thank you. Thank you for giving me a chance.)
(My name is... Reed. The reason I came here... is to find answers.)
(I want to know... what kind of person saved my life.)
(Now, I understand.)
(I always doubted whether you saving me served any purpose.)
(I was mistaken. In your eyes, all life is equally precious.)
(Thank you...)
(I was once my sister's puppet, and did so many unspeakable things. I once thought this land held nothing but darkness.)
(But now, you've showed me, taught me that light still shines upon this land.)
(Not the fires of disaster, but something... warmer, more brilliant...)
(Should I become a light like you? Am I even able to?)
The light shining on Outcast's artifact compartment also casts its rays upon Reed, drawing a shadow behind her that blends into the environment.
Reed (I am... a weak person. I can't stand up to my sister, let alone put my life on the line to realize my ideals like you...)
(But even so... I will try... This is the only way I have to repay you...)
(I still need more time... I need to understand what I must do to be worthy of you, to be worthy of this life you saved.)
(The firelight always casts a shadow... But this time, I want to try letting it bring life and hope.)
(...Goodbye, Outcast.)
[Reed leaves.]
Reed turns around, and walks from the glowing light into the darkness.
The path leading out of the room is long and dark, swallowing her up entirely, leaving nothing but the flame at the tip of her tail.
But her flame remains steady and unyielding, radiating light and warmth, steadfastly and persistently drifting towards the exit.
<Background black>
At that moment, for the first time in its life, the scarred red dragon roars.
And a glimmer of light flashes across a withered, dusky hillock.