Categories > Games > Star Ocean: The Second Story

Fair Compensation

by Wallwalker 2 reviews

Dr. Lantis had to cope with a lot of things during his big project, including separation from the outside world. The only things that kept him sane were his conversations with his beloved daughter....

Category: Star Ocean: The Second Story - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Doctor Lantis, Filia - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2005-05-11 - Updated: 2005-05-11 - 2913 words - Complete

Warning, in case you got here without seeing it: This fic contains huge spoilers for the Nedian Secret Files. If you haven't read them, not only will this story spoil you, it really won't make much sense.

Fair Compensation
by Wallwalker


Doctor Lantis was having a typical morning.

He'd done the same things, followed the same routine he'd adhered to since he'd come to the Genetic Heraldry Research Institute. He'd woken up early in the morning with the rest of his team, and would go to bed late in the night with them. It was almost midday then, and he had spent the time absorbed in theoretical genetic Heraldry. He spent every day at his computer, running a program that he'd developed himself months ago after a decade of hard experimentation with genetic heraldry. He'd created it just for these research purposes, after all. It was easier to enter values into a computer than it was to spend the time and effort to infuse Nedian DNA with the delicate crests and then wait until the specimen developed enough to tell what they had done. Once they had a good starting point - once they knew where and how the DNA needed to be edited - they would move onto designing and infusing the actual specimens.

Still, for all of this seeming drudgery, his was an important project - perhaps the most important in the history of the Nedian Consortium of Stars. Their success could mean an end to the growing rebellion in the far-flung settlements of Nede, and could well assure the continued domination of Nede over most of the known galaxy. Someday the enhanced life forms that he was developing could very well save everyone from utter destruction. He knew that -


"Yes, Filia?" he said, sparing a glance for the girl that suddenly appeared in the viewscreen beside him, the one with the soft blue hair and laughing violet eyes. He could always spare a moment for her, no matter how important his work was. "What is it?"

"Did I tell you when I talked to you? I'll be taking my final tests for the semester in a few months."

"Oh, will you?" he said, raising an eyebrow. "Is it that late already?"

"Dad! You just can't keep track of time, can you?" Her laughter was bright and cheery, like a beautiful glass bell. "Yes, it won't be long now. I hope that I've been studying hard enough, though. My professors all say they expect me to make perfect scores."

"Well, I'm sure you will. You've always been a hard worker." He typed another sequence into the computer for testing, examining the effect it had on the existing variables. Genetics was a tricky subject, but he had mastered it quite a while back; it had been a long time since it had been a challenge to him. That was partially why he was here. It was hard to find lab work that was difficult and complex enough to keep his interest. "But don't study too hard, dear. Try to have a bit of fun, won't you?"

"Of course I will, Dad," she said, with a hint of a blush.

"Good. I wouldn't want you to work yourself to death." He frowned a little at the results the computer was giving him, then typed in the same sequence with a few minor variations. "What about that boyfriend you mentioned last time?"

"Dad! Why do you keep asking me about Rand?" she said, and he didn't have to look to know she was blushing. "I'm still not sure about him, but he's nice enough..."

"Well, I'm not trying to push you, dear," he said, laughing. "I just want you to be happy. I met your mother at University, you know... although I suppose she thought I was a bit strange. She was an attractive young first-year student who didn't know what she wanted, and there I was, a skinny, lazy redhead in my third year who liked to hang out at poetry readings when my area of study was advanced genetics." He smiled wistfully. "But I suppose that she forgave me for that when she -"

But before he could finish his reminiscence he was cut off by a loud beep, and a tinny voice on the intercom. "Dr. Lantis?"

He looked up, startled at the intrusion, then touched the intercom button. "Yes?"

"Sorry to interrupt you, Dr. Lantis. We've just received permission to receive a transmission from Sector Eight."

"At last, it's been months. Thank you very much, Miri. That's wonderful news." He looked at the smiling girl's face. "I'm sorry, Filia, but I have to go. We'll continue this conversation later, all right?"

"Yes, Dad," she said. "But please don't stay away for too long! Promise me you'll be back soon?"

"You shouldn't need me to promise that," he chided gently. "You know I'll come and talk to you as soon as I can."

"Thanks, Dad." She held out her hand as if she were trying to touch him through the video screen. "I love you."

"Love you too, dear girl. Good-bye, now." He reached out and pressed his own hand against hers on the screen, palm to palm. Then he withdrew and pressed the cancel button. The image faded almost at once.

He stood up and stretched, sparing a glace for the timetable. It was later than he'd thought; it usually didn't even take half this long to set up permission for an approved transmission. Damned bureaucrats, he thought, shaking his head. What possible reason could there be to bar this sort of transmission? Surely there's no risk of espionage involved in this, but they have to see dangers everywhere....

He walked out of his office, through the familiar corridors of the Genetic Heraldry Research Center. He'd lived there for so long, he'd almost forgotten what the old Sector Eight lab had looked like. Funny, the tricks that his memory played on him.

"Dr. Lantis," his assistant greeted him as he approached the Communications Room. "Everything is ready."

"Wonderful. What about the recording devices? Are they properly set up?"

"Yes, Dr. Lantis," she said, although she always said it with a bit of a frown. She didn't seem to understand why they were so important to him... she'd forgotten once, and he had regrettably been a bit short with the normally sweet lady. She'd ended up avoiding him for so long that the administrators had been compelled to assign him another assistant and give her a short vacation. "I triple-checked them this time. They'll be fine."

"Thank you very much," he said, and meant it. "It's a great help to me, I can assure you. Go on and take a break for a while. I'll be busy for quite some time and I do not wish to be disturbed."

"Yes, sir." She smiled and obediently turned away. She was a good lady, really - she just didn't understand a few things.

He walked into the transmission station and started checking over the recording equipment, just in case something had gone wrong. His hands were shaking. He looked at them, still puzzled, no matter how many times he'd seen it before. Why were they shaking? There was absolutely no reason why this should be difficult. And if anyone else were to notice, well, who knew what might happen...

Well, there was no help for it. He could always blame it on too little sleep, or too much caffeine. He flicked the switch to activate the recorders, and then picked up a microphone. "This is Dr. Israfil Lantis, requesting security clearance to receive an outside broadcast from Sector Eight," he said.

The computer paused for a moment, then beeped as it recognized his voice signature. The screen lit up. Lantis took a deep breath, then pressed another key. An image formed on the screen quickly, that of a teenage girl with soft blue hair and serious purple eyes. Her face was friendly but reserved, almost painfully so. "Good morning, Father."

Lantis smiled as much as he could. It was difficult, talking to his daughter after such a long separation... talking to the construct in his office wasn't the same at all. "Good morning, Filia. How are you?"

"I'm doing very well, Father."

"Oh, dear," he said, doing his best to smile, "why do you have to be so formal? Call me Dad, like you used to."

"...Dad," she said after a long pause. The smile on her face was so distant that it hurt him, but he knew that if he told her that she'd only be hurt. "All right."

"Thank you, Filia." He ran one finger over the indicator LED for his special recording device. It was lit, and everything seemed to be running smoothly, thank Tria. "What's happened in the past two months, dear? Tell me everything."

"Oh, Fa- Dad," she said, frowning a little, "every time I talk to you you're always begging me to tell you everything I've done. Can't we talk about something else for a little while first? I wanted to know how you were doing. I've been very worried."

"Worried? About me?" he echoed, blinking in confusion.

"Of course! You seem so distracted when you're talking to me... you've been that way for a long time now. And look at your hands - look at how badly they're shaking!"

"That's nothing to worry about," he said quickly. "Too much coffee, I'm afraid. Miri makes such good coffee that sometimes I can't help but drink too much-"

"Father!" Filia had never been so inclined to believe stories like that. "Are you sure that's all it is?"

"Yes, of course. That's all." He forced himself to smile again.

"Well... all right." She was still doubtful, though - he could see it in her eyes. "So... you still can't talk about why you're away, can you, Dad?"

He shook his head. "I'm afraid not, my dear. If I said anything, they'd probably end up cutting you off from me completely." Which would be more than he could take, he added to himself. "Best not to mention my work at all, I think."

"All right." She sighed. "Well... did I tell you that I passed my tests at the university with perfect scores, Father?"

"No," he said, smiling proudly. "That's my brilliant little girl!"

"Well, it wasn't easy. I had to study awfully hard to get those scores. I wasn't like you, I guess." Her smile widened a tiny bit. "You never had to study, did you?"

"No," he said with a laugh, "but I rather wish I had anyway. Not having to study makes you terribly lazy, you know."

"I can't think of you as lazy, Fa- Dad," she said, and smiled. But it wasn't like the construct's genuine smile; it felt a little forced. "Oh, and Rand and I are still dating. You were going to ask about that next, weren't you?"

"Well, at some point. How is the young man? You never told me what he was studying."

"Engineering. And he's fine. Says that he wants to meet you sometime soon."

Lantis smiled. "Does he? Well, I'd be perfectly happy to, if they would allow it." The boy was taking an interest in his girlfriend's family... that was promising. He wanted his daughter to find a good young man. "I'll do my best to persuade them to let me talk to him, if you want."

"Well," she said, and he saw her blushing then. "Well, we don't have any real plans..."

"Of course not. Time enough for those later, right?" He laughed easily. This was starting to feel a bit more like what it should feel, like a father talking to his daughter and not a long-lost friend. As always he felt a huge surge of relief. "So what else are you up to now, dearest? Please, tell me everything...."


By the time Lantis had slipped out of the Transmission Station, two hours had passed - the maximum time allowed for transmissions of a personal nature. He was clutching the reel of digital datatape from the recorder in his hand. Digital media was not the most efficient or modern way of recording, but in his opinion it was the most accurate, and the easiest to convert for his purposes.

"Did you have a good conversation, Doctor Lantis?" Miri said behind him, making him jump as he started down the corridor to his office. He turned around, instinctively trying to hide the tape in his hand.

"Oh... of course," he said, composing himself quickly. "It's always a pleasure to talk to my little girl. I haven't spoken to her in so long, after all."

"It really is a pity that you can't see her more often. You two were so close, weren't you?"

Lantis nodded. "Very close. Ever since her mother died... well, she's all I have left." He forced a smile. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work..."

"Of course, Doctor Lantis."

He turned around and walked into the corridor, willing himself to be calm. What difference did it make, even if someone knew what he was up to? He wasn't breaking any rules... he was using only his personal allotment of the lab's resources. And if they discovered it he'd be able to claim that he was conducting an experiment.

He sighed as he walked into his office, closing the door behind him. He turned to his computer, opening the compartment for the digital tape reader with shaking fingers and carefully inserting the reel. The computer beeped as he locked it into place, prompting him to enter the starting command; in an instant he'd entered it, and the screen began to flash as it read and processed the new data from his conversation with his daughter.

No, he thought as he watched the computer work, he had to at least be honest with himself. It wasn't anyone from the lab that he was nervous about; it was the very idea of what he was doing. It felt wrong, somehow - like he was crossing some line that never should have been crossed, breaking a taboo.

But why should he feel guilty about it? Didn't he deserve something for what he'd given to the Consortium? He'd lost his wife, he'd barely seen his only daughter for the past four years... he'd signed over his life to them, so that he could work exclusively on this project. If they were going to take his daughter away from him... well, he had to cope somehow, didn't he? He was entitled to that....

The computer beeped. Startled, Lantis looked up at the screen, read the familiar message - the data had been read and converted. Did he wish to integrate the new information with the existing program now? Quickly he confirmed, and the computer beeped again as integration started. He watched the progress indicator eagerly; integration was much faster than reading the antiquated tape.

Finally it was finished. Lantis sat back down at his desk, and realized with little surprise that his hands were shaking again. He frowned and forced himself to breathe deeply. He'd done this before; there was no reason that it shouldn't work this time, was there? The datatape had never been corrupted before, and the program had always worked like a charm. Still, there was always that little bit of fear, and it took him a moment to steel himself enough to start the program again.

But his fear was unfounded, and he relaxed as soon as he saw Filia's familiar face appear in the viewscreen - unchanged, and with the same kind smile she'd been wearing when he'd told her good-bye two hours before. "Dad!" she said, reaching out as if she could touch him again.

"Filia," he said, pressing his hand against the viewscreen in greeting. "I'm so glad to see you again."

"Oh, Dad, I'm so glad you came back so quickly! I missed you, you know. I wish we could just stay and talk all day."

"So do I, dear. So do I." He smiled widely at her. "So what have you been up to at home, darling? How are your classes going?"

"Oh, they're going wonderfully! Didn't I tell you? I passed my last tests with perfect scores!"

"Did you! Oh, that's wonderful, simply brilliant! I'm sure you had to study a lot for that, didn't you?"

"Well, yes, but it was worth it. All of my teachers say that I'm destined for great things, just like you."

"That's because you're my special little girl," he said, trying to keep tears from his eyes. What could he say? It was the closest he could have to being at home with his daughter, and he deserved that much. He needed it, needed that little illusion of security in the cold, sterile labs. "I love you, Filia."

"I love you too, Dad."

He smiled at her as the words calmed him, made him relax. Yes, as long as he had her, he would be all right.

He couldn't go on without seeing that smile.



A/N: One of those requests from livejournal - written for Amber Michelle (AKA myaru) who requested something about Lantis and Filia. Actually an idea I'd mentioned to her before, something I've wondered about for some time - why would Dr. Lantis have a personality construct of his daughter handy on his computers?

And yes, I chose the good doctor's first name on a lark.
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