The Yamaku Foundation
"I take it you're a new arrival at Yamaku?" She asks. Shizune seems tempted to throw in a sarcastic interjection, but the extra time it would take for the remark to be translated and the response to be translated back deters her. The fact that Lilly doesn't notice, and that she isn't looking in my general direction, tells me that she is blind.
"Yes." I ask, attempting to match the beautiful girl's calm and measured tone.
"Feel free to take a seat." She responds. I am reminded that I have spent the last few moments standing awkwardly next to one of the empty chairs and quickly amend that, contemplating how she could have known I was standing. That she waited until I talked suggested that she can discern from the origin of my voice when I am standing up. There are workarounds for problems I haven't even considered. I am also curious about her voice, which has no distinguishable accent, challenging her foreign appearance. She must be at least partially Japanese.
"I'm Lilly Satou. Pleased to meet you."
"Hisao. Hisao Nakai." Lilly nods, shakes my hand and returns her attention to the pizza in front of her. The latter action seems unusually rude given my first impression, but I guess she must be trying to prompt the other girls to join in without explicitly telling them, which might be considered a bigger breach of etiquette. I could quite easily imagine her looking a them expectantly if...It is best to avoid continuing this train of thought.
"Hanako I-Ikezawa." The dark-haired girl next to Lilly says, her voice barely above a whisper. I instinctively turn to look at her, and am startled to see the extensive scarring on the left side of her face. Well, I suppose it would be the right side for her. Hanako's hair hangs over as if to try and cover it, but she cannot reasonably conceal the scars completely. With some effort, I hold my gaze, careful to avoid looking a directly at the scars. The act is not overly difficult, since Hanako is not hard on the eyes despite her circumstances. In any case, turning away now would be insulting. I hold my hand out, which seems to confuse her until she realises I am trying for a handshake. Hanako quickly obliges, despite her obvious discomfort. I am sure she is relieved when my attention turns to the next girl in the sequence.
"Rin. Rin Tezuka. Tezuka Rin." She says, after using her feet to put her fork on the table for a moment. "I won't shake hands with you, but at least we know who we are now. That's very nice." Her deadpan delivery makes it difficult to tell if she is joking, but given her strange smile, I will assume she is. It is impressive, then, that she is able to make light of something like this. Impressive and disorienting. Rin's eyes are intense, seeming to look beyond me even as she speaks. It takes me a little longer than I am comfortable with to look away. Rin seems to have lost interest in me, looking yearningly at her pizza. Any opportunity to pursue this further is lost, which leaves one more.
"Emi Ibarazaki." I must look confused as to the nature of her disability - and isn't it insulting that I automatically assumed she had one? - because she appends something extra to her greeting as she shakes my hand. "Fastest thing on no legs!" she announces with pride as she lifts one of her legs above the table for a moment. It looks disturbingly artificial. I draw a breath, and the atmosphere in the room changes as if the present company can sense that I am about to disclose my disability. I would decide against it, except I know the limits of these girls, and if I am to work with them they must know my limits as well. I cannot just blurt something out, though. As a last-ditch attempt to salvage the more jovial mood from before, I try to make a joke out of it, something made more difficult because Shizune is looking at me like a hawk. This probably isn't appropriate at all, but here goes nothing.
"Problems of the heart. The literal kind."
Lilly, Hanako and Shizune arch an eyebrow, Rin appears confused and Emi appears to understand.
"I didn't think it was anything in your head, and something in your guts would have been too ordinary, unlike this hyperspace pizza. And not at all delicious. I was going to suggest the problem was in your pants. Then again, the heart and the pants are kind of related..." Rin utters, seemingly a little bamboozled that her quiet revelation might be wrong. I should probably elaborate on the exact problem.
"Rin, he said the heart problem was literal. The heart is only metaphorically connected to the pants." Emi attempts to clarify.
"So his tackle is a metaphor for what's wrong with his heart?" Rin asks, and her voice is innocent enough that she might well be genuinely considering the possibility. Emi adopts an expression that is an odd mixture between outrage and amusement.
"My tackle isn't involved." I correct, perhaps a little too quickly. "I have arrythmia. Congenital heart defect that makes my pulse erratic, increasing risk of a heart attack." I half-expect Rin to pick up on my use of the word congenital, but she becomes just as solemn as everyone else. Way to bring everyone down, Hisao. You are a shining conversationalist.
"Hisao...There was a-another reason we wanted you here..." Surprisingly, Hanako chimes in with a very helpful change of topic.
"Right..." Misha adds, translating for Shizune. "Command wanted you take part in a trial for SCP-2203 after lunch~!"
"Which one was that, again?" Shizune's reflexive smile is almost predatory, giving her an allure which I would be hard-pressed to deny.
"Why, it's the love tester, Hicchan~!" I gulp, quickly busying myself with the pizza to avoid overthinking things. It is supremely delicious and I barely restrain the urge to devour as much as possible, taking a mental note to stay far away from the box in future for the wellbeing of my heart, which surely couldn't handle as much as I want to eat. With a little time to reflect, I realise that, to accompany me for testing, the girls must all have some kind of investment approved by command.
The meal ends quickly, and before I know it, the time for testing begins. Misha is replaced by an official translator, lending enough quietness to the scene to build up tension. Activating the machine, I wait for feedback. The wait isn't long, as the machine settles on "Mild". Five cards eject from the machine, prompting the supervisor to gasp in surprise. I assume this is a first as I read the cards in turn, and it is my turn to gape like a fish.
Can you tell me what you think?
Can you see what I see?
Can you face your fears?
Can you seize the day?
Can you stand up for yourself?
It's...them. They knew I would get this result, or at least that it was a possibility. Shizune asks the supervisor if they can give their results in exchange, which he accepts.
"Passionate." The translator says for Shizune, his mask of disinterest contrasting brilliantly against her self-satisfied grin, somehow proud of achieving a high score on a completely arbitrary reading.
"Naughty but nice." Lilly says, encapsulating this sentiment in her expression.
"Harmless..." Hanako says, a little downcast. I feel vaguely angry at SCP-2203, but the feeling passes.
"Wild." Rin said. "I wonder if..." Emi promptly cuts her off, probably a good decision.
"Burning." Emi says, looking much more cheerful than most people who say that word. Hanako flinches almost immeasurably.
The supervisor hands me five cards, their contents identical.
Well then. Working here is going to be interesting.
Can you bare your heart?
AN: The addresses aren't actually redacted in-universe, but I'm not sure if the game ever reveals what they are, so I took a page from the SCP Foundation's book. I apologise if the page dividers are annoying. They aren't going to be too common.