Art by, Ken
Age: 24 years
Size: 5'8" ft tall
Job: Notail Leader of the D-class, Experiment
Likes: Peace and quiet, Being alone
Dislikes: S-111337, Being alone, The labs, Being around other D-Classes
Notable contributions: D-20 decides which D-ud class is assigned to which test, as well as approving the experiments to be assigned. They are one of the few D-classes within the laboratory system that are allowed to venture outside of it.
Original Creator: Apollo
Red. The colour of anger. The colour of danger, the bright warning sign. Both of these things apply to D-20. The colour is not theirs by choice, nor assigned to them for symbolism; just the D-class uniform, caution tape in the form of a long-sleeve shirt. But they wear it even now, when they are the leader who need don it no longer - unchanged, save for the white letter and number emblazoned on the front at dead center, framed in an octagon. And so, its meanings stand out as much as they do in a crowd.
The signal is apt. Unintentional or not.
Just as no antenna frame their face, no mask conceals their features, their seemingly perpetual scowl exposed for the world to see. Though their typical expression is a neutral frown, to see a curled lip and bared fangs from them would hardly be unusual either - something made even likelier when they are forced into the presence of their S-class pursuer. As D-20, they could always choose a mask to wear - they have the money for it, the power where other D-classes do not. But they don't.
From behind their sideburns jut pointed ears. It's a wonder the rest of D-20's body doesn't look the same, a wonder that there are soft angles at all. Nevertheless, from their head sprouts fluffy black hair. Short and soft, it covers up their scalp, and nothing else. This is not unusual, in the same way that their dark skin is a typical notail colour; to an outsider, D-20's appearance alone wouldn't mark them as different from others of their kind. But to notails, of course, nothing could be father from the truth.
With broad shoulders and a stout build, D-20 takes up more space than others would like them to. The way they hold themself curls in more than out, their shoulders hunched, their back slouched, their hands in their pants pockets, and still they take up more space than others would like them to. No matter how small their posture makes them, D-20's presence heralds something big enough for recognition from their peers, even before they became who they are now.
One need only be in D-20's presence once to know what follows in their footsteps like the hound.
D-20 has hands that perpetually tremble, to the extent that they often have difficulty in not dropping things that they pick up; they usually conceal this by keeping their hands in their pockets. These tremors become worse when they are particularly angry or otherwise upset. In addition, D-20 is both chronically exhausted and chronically sore. Some may say that this, too, is yet another disaster in their wake.
It's exhausting. Disaster is steeped into their very existence, and that befalls everyone around them as well; misfortune passed around like an infection, an illness - minor but yet frequent enough to be sure.
There is a reason why D-20 needs a warning sign.
There is no word better suited for D-20's personality than "cranky". Short and acerbic, there is more often than not a bite in their voice when one speaks to them. Their posture is closed off, their position is guarded - by default, everything in D-20's body language screams of someone who does not want to be interacted with, and when forced into such, wants it to be over with as quickly as possible. Even their choice in phrase is the same, curt words bluntly folded into swift sentences. "Get to the point, and then go away", says everything D-20 puts forward.
But considering what kind of conversations they are most likely to receive, is it truly such a surprise that they behave like this?
As a D-class confined strictly only to notail-based planets, the only people they will generally speak to are other notails. All notails know what D-classes are; simply by walking down a street with people, D-20 is met with gawks and people wondering if they should be reported, or asking them uncomfortable questions.
Even though there are those that are sympathetic to D-classes, those that consider them equal, the fact remains that there are far too many that are not and do not. It's simply easier to head them off with unspoken hostility first.
They could always hide their class. They could change into plain monochrome, and shrug off their neon colours. They could find a mask, even custom order one; as D-20, they're allowed to. But even though they can, they don't bother. It would be hiding who they are - what they are - in order to blend in and try to become part of something they never were. They aren't a "true" notail. They're a D-class. They aren't even proud of this: D-20 just isn't going to pretend that they aren't one.
This isn't the only reason that they eschew social interaction as much as they can, however - and not the only reason why they, perhaps, should. Even if they did change their clothes and hide their face, something else lies beneath the surface that is not so easy to alter.
D-20 is an angry, angry person. This has been previously stated, but it bears repeating, for it is the most major part of their core being. Their default state is irritation, and this irritation quite easily flashes into something stronger - sometimes not even in reaction to a reasonable provocation.
Worryingly still, D-20's aggravation ties into a streak of cruelty. Their contagious ill luck is not the only reason why people might wish to avoid them; time and time again, the occasional D-class that had crossed D-20 became assigned to experiments that were more horrible in comparison to the others conducted at the time. While this wasn't common, the trend is there - and as of late has been turning more prominent. Nor is this the only scenario seen where their propensity for violence appears; they have physically attacked people a number of times, as well as destroying various objects in a fit of pique.
All that being said, it is undeniable that this is not the be all and end all to them.
Though they are quick to anger, they always fight to keep a reign on their temper, visibly stepping back and attempting to calm down when faced with someone who quite obviously means no harm, until they can speak with an even tone, or close enough to one.
When they are close to being pushed to their limit, to the point where they really cannot do anything but lash out, multiple verbal requests to stop from D-20's part have already come and gone; regardless of who is pressing their buttons, regardless of if it is deliberate or innocuous accident, D-20 will always warn them. They truly do not want to be goaded to this point; the cruelty or violence they occasionally inflict isn't something they want to happen. It isn't something they enjoy causing.
It's unsurprising that D-20 cares about the treatment of D-classes; they are one as well, after all. However, their aggressive refusal to the idea of being freed personally from such a classification is rather more unusual. When proposed to about becoming another class, or even leaving notail society altogether, they turn down not only the very concept but the genuine offers as well.
As far as D-20 is concerned, the best thing that could be done would be to dismantle the D-classes altogether. Freeing them alone wouldn't do anything; what could that possibly help? Even freeing all of the current D-classes wouldn't be enough, though it might certainly be a start. There would be more D-classes later, and the knowledge built mercilessly, uncaringly, on top of the broken spines of every D-class that ever was and ever would be would continue.
Of course, something so ingrained into the structure of society is hard to do anything about. This, too, is something D-20 is cognisant of - they are utterly aware that despite how much they want to help change things for the better, not only would it be difficult, but they don't know of anything they could possibly do about it at all.
Regardless, they still do try.
The crux of the issues may not be able to be addressed, but D-20 expends effort and money they, as D-20, have been given in order to fund gifts for various laboratories around the notail planets. Basic books that could assist in learning literacy, snacks with actual flavour, balls, toys, video games - anything that would be allowed to pass the strict regulations, anything that could make the daily dreariness of lab life more bearable.
It's not a lot, but it's all that D-20 knows how to do.
It is not easy, being a D-class. To be a D-class who has no peers that will interact with them is even harder.
Is it better to know there is no possibility of friendship, for there is no one there to become so with, or to watch others that you could befriend if only something of you were to be different?
Is it better to be incapable, or to be rejected?
Perhaps it comes to no surprise that such a question to D-20 is granted no answer, only silent seething. For them, after all, the function is the same.
For as long as D-20 has been able to remember, they have been alone. Though their D-class peers mingled around them, as they were allowed to mingle, none of them would approach D-20. Not voluntarily - not for long. A D-class' life is full of enough pain already; to have the accidents, small but unmistakably common, that piled up on those around D-20 was something most wouldn't brave. Every last one of them hungered for companionship with a desperation that allowed forgiveness of far more than most would grant leeway to, and yet this was the limit.
Thus was the lesson in exclusion they would learn over the years, the meaning behind what their fellows would trot out to them eventually, no matter when D-20 approached them or how D-20 tried to act. The implication was clear, as if it had been written by rote. It was nothing personal. (Not then, not yet.)
D-20 was simply just too much.
It was out of nowhere, that the pain started. Not a grand incident, not a brutal experiment - not one that they were aware of, in any case, and they would wonder if that was what it was for all the years to follow.
Nothing happened, as far as anyone knew; nothing at all. It was simply as if D-20 went to bed one day, and woke up the next with a dull ache in their joints. The pain wasn't that bad; D-20 assumed they were coming down with some kind of illness, something that wasn't unusual in a notail without antenna, and gave it no second thought.
The dull ache faded slowly into a dull agony, and their energy only bled drier. They woke up more often, slept for longer, and grew more tired by the day. If this was a sickness, they didn't know what it was of. No cold ever reared its head - no sneezes, no coughs. Nothing but soreness and migraines and deep, deep exhaustion that never went away and never would, only receded sometimes.
D-20 didn't understand, but they learned to live with it, like they lived with everything else. There was no other alternative.
When the S-class came and told D-20 to come with them, there was nothing else they could then, either. When the S-class lead them to a chair, they could do nothing but sit in it. When the S-class slid on gloves, when the S-class prepared the syringe, still they had no other alternative but to accept it and let it happen.
The S-class didn't tell them what they had been injected with, and they had to accept that, too. The S-class told them they were going to be kept in isolation for a while, and they had an unfortunate inkling about it. But still, D-20 could do nothing about it.
Maybe they would have resisted, once, but they could only fight for so long. And they were so tired.
They didn't want to die. So they did nothing.
It wasn't a slow onset. It wasn't so gradual as to almost be unnoticeable until the pain itself reached an unmanageable level, wasn't a slow incline inching towards agony. At first, they were simply sitting in their new cell, camera's glares fixed to them and following their every move, rotating on their sockets. Watching. The next moment, and it just was. And what it was, was agony. Where before they had become almost accustomed to the sore ache of their day-to-day life, a pain that pulled and only pulled harder when they strained, this new introduction burned like a fire inside them.
Whatever the S-class had done to them was killing them, slowly and horribly, and they knew it. They could tell, even before the S-class returned a day later, empty syringe in hand.
And they still couldn't do anything.
They watched as the blood came out of their feverish arm, pulled up into the transparent barrel, bared for all to see. Behind them, the camera clicked, lens whirring as it zoomed in. The blood had come out brown.
The time following that was a haze, for D-20. It could have been days, or even just one, and they wouldn't have possibly known.
They paced, they screamed, they snarled at everyone that came near them because they could feel the slow erosion rotting away everything in them, scrubbing layer by layer. They were feverish and dying and nothing mattered anymore, so who cared if they externalised their anger. Their fate was the slow agony of so many other D-classes before them already. How could it possibly get worse.
The S-class came back. S-111337, they finally introduced themself as. Horrible, D-20 would attribute to them - already were attributing to them, but now they had a name to the faceless person that had done this to them, unusual only in that most S-classes didn't bother to make conversation with a D-class.
But oh, this one. S-111337 had chatted a little before; now, it was in full force, blather dribbling out nonstop that D-20 answered with sharp bluntness, words that they forgot as soon as they heard them and as soon as they made them.
They explained that D-20 had been infected with bloodacid. They explained that they had the cure in this syringe, the filled one in their hand. They explained how it was meant to work, and D-20 neither understood nor cared about that part. They simply held out their arm, and they waited. It could have been another poison. It could have been another disease. But it didn't matter. They would have taken any risk.
S-111337 took D-20's arm in their hand, grasp light and gentle, tender as a bruise. It was uncomfortable, for a moment, but then they injected in the cure, and it was all cool relief.
It wasn't instant. Where the disease setting in was a bolt of lightning, this was slow coating over coating of frost, ice that couldn't wholly wash away the burn. The broiling under their skin, stirring like a melting pot, was still there - but it was so much more manageable. Their blood showed much of the same; it was a tinted brownish-red, like old blood, like dried blood, like their veins had been dipped in mud. But it had changed.
It wasn't a proper cure. S-111337 went back to work. Alone, with the cameras still watching with eyes as cold as the S-classes behind them, something else took effect on D-20, too. Was it the unforeseen repercussion of the untested (newly-tested) medication? Was it a product of the bloodacid that they had been forced to mutate?
All they knew was, when they were finally given the complete cure for the disease foisted upon them, D-20 was not as they had left the cell. They were cured of all effects of the illness itself, the only pain left in their muscles the one they already had prior.
But they would always carry a remainder of the experience, from then stretching forevermore into the future, in the shape of the tremble that had made its home in their arms and hands.
Another one was that S-111337, after that point, refused to leave them alone.
The role of D-20 is randomly chosen. There is no way, after all, to pick the "best" D-class, in the same way other class leaders are decided. How could one possibly measure being the best lab rat, in a way viable to lead?
Instead, being D-class leader is a test - and it was just their luck that they had been picked for the position.
Being D-20 was simple, the S-class (faceless, nameless, as identity-less to D-20 as D-20 was to them) told them. All they had to do was choose what D-class went to which experiment, and which experiments would be funded. If they didn't want to do so, then no repercussions would be given. They would be returned to normal D-classhood, and another D-class would be found for the job.
As D-20, however, they would have benefits that other D-classes did not. They would not be volunteered into any more experiments; they were already in this one, after all! They would receive payment, as any other class leader would - real currency that they could use to purchase whatever they pleased.
Most of all, they would be able to leave the laboratory. Not permanently, not for long; they would always have to return every night to the place of their origin, and they wouldn't be allowed to go to any planet but the notail-owned. But they would be allowed out, to wherever they pleased, for the majority of their days.
They would be free from the alienation, the isolation, the knowledge that they were in the same situation as their peers and yet still they couldn't find a camaraderie among them. They would be free from the S-class that shadowed their every step, showering them in unwanted affection and horrible attention.
All for the price of choosing, among their fellows, who lived and who died.
Simple. D-20 would have burst into laughter, if they could have found the humour in themself to do so.
D-20 asked for a set of dice. D-20 was given a set of dice. D-20, understanding full well what the situation entailed, unwilling to leave and unwilling to pick the fate of the others themself, rolled the 20-sided die.
When the experiment was finally put into participation, the laboratory halls they had all grown up in and were sure they would die in rang with the hollow despair of the D-classes that had been chosen.
And by the time D-20 walked into the cafeteria the next day, the survivors had already told all of their friends who had consigned them to their fates.
Their fellows hated them. The only reason the S-classes had not, did not, despise them as well was because they were beneath contempt. There was nothing for them in the laboratories, now more than ever.
As D-20, they could leave for most of the day. As D-20, they had to leave for most of the day, stuck between slick fury and cold hostility, perpetually fleeing from not only the mind-numbing isolation they were already used to but the ostracisation that now held the same hateful edge the other D-classes regarded the S-classes with; fleeing from not only the hot burn of rightful anger but the unwelcome obsessor that they had wanted to escape the most.
But not even the rest of notail society had a place waiting for them. Where before the sterile, empty fluorescence of the clinic dazzled them, the bustling activity of notails uncountable living their day-to-day life dazed them, glaring lights replaced with a city's worth of noise. It was all but overwhelming - and even after that, even after they could almost ignore the nonstop din of so many people simply existing that they were so hypersensitive to, notails would approach them.
It was the questions. It was the looks. Everything they were asked, every double-take that was tossed their way, every parting in the monochrome crowd to ring around them in silent coordination told them the same thing they had been taught in the rest of their life, time and time again.
No matter what, they still couldn't fit in.
But they hadn't expected any less, by this point.
Outside was worse, because now they were the only D-class around; at least before they coexisted with people who understood their experiences to some extent, who shared in their own. Now they were exposed to an entire society's worth of everyone who didn't.
It was a reminder to them. Even if they somehow freed every D-class from every laboratory, there was still a culture that saw them and everyone like them as less than nothing, just meat for the grinder. It wasn't just the S-classes, after all. There had to be a common ideas for there to be outliers, after all. They wouldn't have fixed anything, because it was so much deeper of an issue.
It was a reminder to them that they would never be able to escape the systems set up. They were as caged as the day they had been born, as trapped as they had ever been before becoming D-20 - the only difference was that now they had a larger pen to pace and an even heavier weight (of doubt, of guilt, of ostracisation more complete than ever before) to shoulder.
And still they didn't want to go back in. (Not until it was night; not until they had to.)
But they were still sorry that they had ever hoped the rest of the world would be different.
D-20 couldn't always muster up the energy to leave. Even as aversive as life in the laboratory was, leaving their new room was sometimes simply too exhausting. On those days, it was all they could do to slink out in order to procure food for themself, sliding into the cafeteria to take whatever was available.
It was also on those days that they would be most starkly reminded of what their actions had done to the D-classes. It was in the way that their chattering fell silent as soon as D-20 entered the room, laughter turned into quiet murmurs and deliberate backs turned on them. It was in the way that some of the D-classes had isolated themselves from everyone else, curling up alone in corners, and D-20 knew from a glance at them that it was the experiment D-20 had assigned them to which had prompted this. It was in the way that there were members among the groups that they half-knew who were missing now, and it was D-20 that had directed their departure.
They had no reason to lie to themself, or to anyone else. That was why D-20 looked, and watched, and acknowledged that though this had saved another D-class from the weight of this on their conscience, this decision between moral integrity and relative safety, this had been something they had done to escape their own unique horror. They did not find themself justified in their actions, but they found themself with the need to continue to do exactly as what they had done. So they did.
The antagonism and hate, on the other D-classes' parts, grew as the list of D-20's participation did. With each person that they rolled for, each experiment so horrible that they could only be picked by a coin, and each informing that it had been by the will of D-20 that such actions had taken place, the more the gap between them, large from the start already, grew. Even when the actions were directed to D-classes from other laboratories, gossip passed. Knowledge grew.
Tensions eventually, as tensions were wont to do, came to a head.
Those that had survived to adulthood had well learnt to hold their tongue around S-classes, but D-20 had been one of them. That was why a D-class approached them, head held high in anger. That was why the D-class spoke to D-20, voice sharp with boiling words. Why had D-20 done all of this to people that were just like them? Why had D-20 turned their back on the rest of them? Did they really think the S-classes would consider D-20 as one of them? Had D-20's fawning follower addled them that much...?
Except D-20 had never been one of them, not in any sense of the word that had mattered. They had always, always been alone. And this insinuation - that they had once been part of the group, that they had ever, even a little, desired or believed in S-111337's unsolicited attention - on one of their worst days, made them see red more than anything else that had ever been.
It was all they could do to not attack the D-class then and there. Instead, they did something worse. Far worse.
Turning away from them, back stiff, claws curled tight and biting against their palms, D-20 left. Removing themself from the situation, just like any other time - but this time, they didn't have a space to cool off. They had to pay the tradeoff their position had priced them. Once again, they had to choose the fate of those around them.
They looked at the list of choices, the experiments that needed people to be assigned to it. Their eyes scanned over the names, and for the first time, they didn't roll the die they held. D-20 looked at the name of the person who had just confronted them - and with deliberation, moved them to the worst of the experiments they had to pick from.
They felt sick after. They felt shame, they felt guilt, they felt horror - but just for a second, for a horrible flicker of an instant after what they had done, D-20 had been satisfied. And then it was gone, every other feeling all crashing down on them.
But it was too late. It had already happened. And no matter how much they regretted it, they had taken yet another step down a long pathway that didn't end there. As time went on, such actions in anger happened again, and then again.
It was becoming a pattern. It was becoming easy.
Lately, they have been needing the dice less and less.
Nat-1: D-20 is so unlucky that accidents are constantly occurring around them, affecting both those too close to them and themself. These range from minor incidents of toe-stubbing and trip-stumbling to the more noticeable slips, falls, and shatters.
Everyone knows it's their fault. They don't know how it's happening, they don't know why it's happening, but they know D-20 is the focal point of this lightning strike.
Everyone else around them is just a secondary victim.
• It isn't at all uncommon to see a few of D-20's hairs strewn around even in a place they've barely been to. Whether this shedding is a result of stress or their previous participation in old experiments is up in the air.
• D-20 can be most often found in areas with a limited amount of people, and thus a limited amount of noise. Examples of this include parks, gardens, and the outskirts of forests, depending on what is available near the laboratory they're residing in.
• As with most D-classes, D-20 does not know how to read or write beyond some basic, simple phrases for ease in instructional navigation. This means they likely don't know what's on this page at all.
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