The Martyr is sitting crossed in front of a door with a a well-dressed man, surrounded by other partygoers, laughing as he sprays an impressive fountain of champagne from a bottle in his hands on it. He has made a sort of nest for himself out of black body pillows and a jewel toned crazy quilt. his long pale neck is bent as he studies. He has an open book from which he is reading, but there are a large French-English Dictionary, a grammar book and a notepad and mechanical pencil at hand for taking notes, which he is doing.
The Martyr is wearing a purple linen poet shirt with a lot of neck and wrist ruffles open to display a bit of pasty chest and tight black on black paisley trousers with purple high top sneakers. The differences between the Martyr and Finn are subtle. He is the same age, with very similar hair, though slightly longer and in a slightly different cut, and is still long limbed and gangling. Though he is still very thin, he is wiry with it instead of borderline emaciated.
As expected in such situations, the Artist Formerly Known As Christine is a still a bit confused about where she has found herself. Though that hasn't stopped her selecting the best of the 'casual' clothes she has found in her wardrobe. She peers out her door and down the hallway with a mixture of curiosity and concern - this is not the same place she fell asleep in. And who she fell asleep with is nowhere to be found. That is perhaps what worries her the most.
But even now those memories she is so adamant was only the night before have started to grow...cloudy? She remembers them but they don't seem as sharp as they once were. Has she got Alzheimer's overnight? She looks a little older than Christine. Her hair brunette rather than the pure black on the island. And then she sees a familiar figure; even a year after he died. "Finn?" Christine's eyes go wide. Is she dead!
The Martyr looks up, and after a small moment of adjustment, his face transforms to an expression of delight. He marks his spot with a purple ribbon and sets it down automatically, and then he's up, all long limbs and joy, coming toward her with open arms, "It's all right Christine! I'm so incredibly glad you made it. I haven't seen Emily yet, but it's early yet. Only Colorado beat you out." He stops two feet short to let her decide if she wants the hug or not.
Christine can't help take a step back as a dead man comes at her for hugs. Her hands automatically rising a little to hold him at bay as she stares intently at him. "I told Emily that we shouldn't have smoked that dope. The guy who sold it to us was not on the level" she mutters to herself, though Ghost-Finn can hear every word. A deep breath. "I can handle this. It's only a dream. I'll wake up any moment. Colorado is here?" No offense intended to the barman, but why would she think of Colorado in her dream?
The Martyr doesn't come any closer, "I thought I was crazy too at first. Imagine me being greeted right off by Kimmy who I'd been hallucinating... Okay, deep breath and don't panic.... How to explain this.... Maybe do you want a drink first? We can have anything." He tries again, "They call this place the Facility. Some of us who died at Beaver Lake turned up here after. Bastian and Max. Lyle. Cassandra. Kimmy and Misty and Danny. Derek. Roxie. We're not sure who else. Not everyone comes out of their rooms. Now those of you who survived are starting to turn up. I came out for breakfast and there was Colorado talking to Bastian and Danny. you aren't crazy or hallucinating. Please, please don't panic."
It's not the easiest thing to hear and it shows on Christine's face. "I...don't understand. This is Heaven? But why am I dead? Beaver Lake was a year ago, Finn." Even this Christine is not the kind to panic. Get angry, probably, but no panic. "I went to bed with Emily, last night, a year after what happened at the lake. I didn't die in my sleep..." Though she can't be sure of that. "I won, Finn. /We/ won. We beat Dagon and Mahoney. Why am I here?" She looks around at all the strange doors. "If this is Heaven, I am really disappointed."
The Martyr's expression is sad and kind, "It's definitely not heaven. The jury's out on exactly what it is." Then a bright, pleased smile, "You saved the world, Christine. You were all so amazing, so brave and tenacious and working together like that. I always did have faith in you." He takes a slow breath, "Some people sort of just turn up here with no memory of before. There a really nice guy like that now. Some people, like you and me? We start out there, in the middle of something important and terrible. Those are the memories we have. You of being Chrstine the manager at Beaver lake and hero who held it all together and helped saved the world. Me of being Finn O'Neil, attorney at law. In between, some of us come back here. Not everyone. Lyle is still waiting to see if Ethan made it back. Not everyone who's been here before returns. The odds seem to go up if they have though. at some point, we're all going to wake up somewhere and somewhen and somebody else and we won't remember here. At some point we'll die or survive and most of us will end up back here remembering Beaver Lake and that other place and for some... all the people they've been before. Are you sure you don't want a drink? Or pie? Or a hug?"
Christine listens to Finn's spiel, eyes narrowing a touch as she wonders if the man is insane or not. Wait...do ghosts go insane? Of course, the ones she has met couldn't really be called sane. "Maybe all three?" she replies to his questions. "Slow down a bit, Finn, please. Are you saying that /this/ is the reality and everything else is but a dream? That what we did isn't real? I...I can't accept that. The feelings I have for Emily are real. I can still feel them." Though they do feel different. Real but...distant. Not that she will admit that. "I can still feel what it is like to hold her."
The Martyr points down the hall, "Right that way there are comfy chairs and a sofa and I can get you pie and whatever you want to drink." He offers the hug again with his arms, still not closing the distance, and stepping sideways in case she wants to walk past. "Everything back there feels too real not to be. Problem is here feels real too. Certain other things, don't, but you'll find that for yourself. People have theories. We don't know. Lyle gave me some advice when I first got here. It was along the lines of what feels real is. I have to believe what we did back there matters. But this can be home too."
"Does it matter? If we keep coming back here...and I've never been here before...then how can any of it matter? It's like it's someone's sick idea of a game." Christine's eyes narrow. "And I don't lose games, Finn." She offers a middle finger to the ceiling. "I will beat whatever you throw at me! And I will beat whoever you are!" If it proves to be God, she will kick Her ass too. A long breath out before she summons half a smile for Finn. "Sorry...this has annoyed me slightly." And then, finally, he will get his hug. "It's good to see you again" she whispers as she squeezes. "Even if this proves to be a dream."
The Martyr says, “Some people think that it's Hell or a sick game or an experiment. I've decided I'm happier thinking it's more like Time Bandits with us patching the holes instead of a group of comedic little people. I'm happier thinking it means something rather than nothing." He smiles slowly, pleased with her defiance. You really ought to talk to Lyle. He looks and is really different. He's older than me in both senses of things and he's trying to find a way out." He hugs her, warm and friendly and very Finn-ish even if he's significantly less bony. He whispers back, "I missed you so much. you are one of my favorite people." "You are taking it really well. Cassandra had trouble believing we were us and there was a lot of door slamming. I completely lost it for a bit and got messy dunk, but I'm fine now. Come on, what sort of pie do you want?"”
"I'm stubborn, Finn, remember? And a fighter. I do my breaking down in private" Christine smirks. "Lyle is different?" Does that mean Emily will be different? /If/ she is even here. A shiver runs through her body at that thought before it is game face time again. "One of your favorite people? You need to get out more." Her brow furrows. "There /is/ an outside, right? Time Bandits?" She fondly ruffles his hair. "Such a nerd. I know what sort of pie I would really like, but I'll go with steak and kidney. Is that the kind of pie you meant? Or do you mean American dessert pies?" Christine looks confused again. "I'm American...why would I assume a different kind of pie so easily?"
The Martyr gives her an extra squeeze in response to the shiver. He's been there waiting himself. He says gently, "We'll all different. Whether you've noticed it or not, there will be differences. Some of us are more like you remember. Bastian is completely out, and he was someone before, but he really is a lot like our Bastian only sort of... warmer. More... healed. I'm mostly Finn, but bits of me are clearly not. Lyle is... really, really different. So is Derek. So is Danny. You'll like them though, I think. I know I do. Some of us go by other names. I'm calling myself Dare for now. I can't remember if they said Emily was here before. Even if she was someone else, all the Emily pieces will still be in there. Danny is Briar now and the difference is... nearly as large as Lyle or Derek, but we are making it work. Max is the oldest here in terms of most people, but she and Bastian are really good together still. Lyle and Ethan have loved across lifetimes. Just be patient and take her as she comes." He grins at the ruffling, lowering his head to make it easier for her. "there is and isn't an outside. It's not real outside, but there are two door you can go through and be anywhere for a while. Both kinds of pie. Steak and kidney coconut custard and kind you like." He leads the way out into the parlor. "I can get you literally anything you want to eat except drugs. It's possible that underneath you aren't American. It turns out Lyle isn't any more. Maybe you woke up a little different."
This is a lot to take in but Christine is doing her best. She has to know all the conditions of her surroundings. All the parameters. All the rules. It's in her being to need to know how to make the best of any situation. "Not American? I...guess?" A shrug at the idea but it doesn't sound like she has an accent. She follows him into the parlor, looking around as she does so. "The clothes in my room...they're nice but...they're not 1989. Nice to know some relationships last. I loved that woman, Finn. We had months after the Lodge...eventually. Damn it!" It seems she is suddenly realizing how much of that 'life' she has missed out on. "I was going to be President of the United States. Vodka, please. Umm...not that I've ever drunk it before but...I feel I should."
The Martyr says, “My clothes mostly are. Somebody said something like the rooms sort of match us, only are things we would have wanted if we knew to want them. I'm not convinced the decorations aren't a joke. The clothes change, by the way, depending on what you are wanting. We're pretty sure the door sigils match the person inside. I'm the severed heart, by the way. Colorado's the cowboy hiding behind the rock. Lyle's the stylized guy looking around a corner." He nods, holds a finger up, and goes off to the dispensary.
When Dare returns he has a tray with steak and kidney pie, and assortment of random dessert pie slices arranged to look like a whole pie, A bottle of chilled gray goose, a pitcher of orange juice and several glasses both shot and larger in case more people show up. He sets it down on the coffee table. "The love is real. It really is. I think it was Lyle who said it the most important thing because it's all ours and they can't take it away from us even if we lose the people."”
"Umm...making this place sound like a magic castle is not going to convince me it is real" Christine smirks. "Why would you be a severed heart?" A shake of her head as he disappears. She finds somewhere to sit, tapping her fingers upon a surface before Finn is back with food. "That's some quick cooking you do."
"You call yourself Dare now? Any reason?" A shrug about the love being real. "If people are really different, then I guess it is something I will find out for myself when she shows up." There is still no /if/ in Christine's mind about important things. "Do you know what I found in my room? The Staff Star Chart from the Lodge. Of all the things to find. Wait, how did you know what happened at the Lodge? The people here told you?"
The Martyr eyes the vodka. The Finn she knew really wasn't much of a drinker. He pours himself orange juice but adds a finger of vodka and stirs it slowly, "If you're patient, you can find most things, and yes, I get how weird it is. It may have been a year for you, but it's only a few days for me." He attempts a small, careful sip. "I'm pretty sure I know why the severed heart, but you might think it's corny. I picked dare because I needed to be called something and Finn.... I loved being Finn so _much_, Christine. Even when Murder ghosts were trying to kill me, but I'm really not quite Finn any more and calling myself Finn felt a little too much like a lie. I had all these dreams too. I really did want to work for Lambda. I really did want the cat, but it's like going back into a shell I've already grown out of." He selects the chocolate cream slice for himself and has a bite. "The staff chart's probably like my Shreikback Shirt. He says we each wake up with a souvenir of sorts from people we've been." He winces at the last question, "Colorado already made it back and was off exploring Oregon with Bastian last I saw them and he brought word, but..." He looks really embarrassed. "Some of had people back there and we didn't want to... not be there when they came back, or worse, not knowing they were dead and not here either. You saw me waiting for Scott. So we sort of... watched. The big things anyway, like the battle for the beach, the burning of the bodies and... the cave. Only some people don't improve and I get how it's intrusive, but I couldn't not... be waiting for Danny."
"You watched us?" Christine can't recall any cameras...not in the caves at least. "So it was like some TV show? Is that the kind of game some bastard is playing?" She has no idea of 'reality TV' - that was after her time. The vodka is downed in one gulp. She's angry again; though still trying to remain calm and composed on the surface. "Couldn't you contact us? There must be a control room or something somewhere. If it was just a TV show then how real could it have been? Damn I have some strange dreams. So I need to have a new name? I liked Christine. My parents did too...though I guess they never really existed." She leans back in her chair, crossing her arms as she ponders. "Fine, I'll be Star."
"More like a really long horror movie," says a runty Latina - she might not be recognizable as Max without the longer, bleached-out hair, and she looks a few years older. Sounds a bit older, too. "Now that the story's over, the TV's blank."
The Martyr nods sheepishly, "Only a little. The TV didn't broadcast certain things and we wouldn't have watched them anyway. They tell me it wasn't like that the other times, so it may not be like that anymore. Poor Cheer... Cheer used to be Kimmy, only she's... very not Kimmy now even though the Kimmy bits are inside her, anyway, she says it kept her sane. She was here alone most of a week after she died. There was no way to contact you. Don't you think we wish we could have? You don't have to change names if you don't want, but I do like Star." He waves, "Hey Max."
"Max?" Christine studies the Latina - it could be her. The former Director of Guest Services is a little older herself and her hair is brunette rather than the black of the Lodge. "I heard you sacrificed yourself for Bastien...but I guess none of that really mattered since we're all here and...'alive'?" She would much rather it be a dream than learn her victory was meaningless; she likes Dare's theory of mending timelines for that reason. "You understand any of this, Max?"
"It mattered in there," says Creepshow, though where 'in there' is she doesn't say. "You saved the fucking world. Not bad for your first spin. Me? It was my fourth. None of us know who we are, not really, or if we're real at all. This is where we are, wherever this is. It's entirely self-contained. Everything we need is provided, and there's no way out, though feel free to try. People break shit and set shit on fire fairly often just to try, but when we wake up tomorrow it'll all be back like it was. Eventually we'll all fall asleep and live through another traumatic story like wee just had with no memory of this place. If or when we die in it, we wake up here again. You lucky survivors get a bit of time after the real story 'ends', then wake up here, too."
She blinks. "I think I covered everything?"
The Martyr is stubborn about this, "I refuse to believe it didn't matter. All that bravery and pain and work and sacrifice has to mean something." He gives Max a small smile, "You are so good at this." He runs his hand through the longer hair above his ear. "Do you know which is Emily's door?"
"You remember all the other times? The other 'stories'?" Christine asks Max. "And they're different lives? Different people? Doesn't that get...complicated?" She nods about the extra time she was given. "A year. There was a year after the Lodge but my life was just getting started." A snort of cold amusement. "Or is this where my life is just getting started?" She pours herself another drink. "Don't get me wrong. I'm proud of what we all did. As far as I knew at the time, we saved the world. We won. But if this is reality...maybe this is the place where we have to win? Sorry, this is a lot to take in." There is food and drink aplenty as the trio chat.
Martyr's question gets Creepy's attention. "Uh. Yeah. Chick crying into her hands while a town burns behind her. Very cheery. And like I said, fourth time on this ride. I'm used to it by now. None of us are good at it." She nods at Competitor's questions.
"Yep. Wait until you have multiple lives in your head, then the fun really begins."
The Martyr sips his screwdriver, "If you figure it out, I'm happy to help." Of course he always was whether Finn or Dare. He winces when he hears what's on Emily's door. He lookss at Max a little sideways and instead of commenting directly opts for, "Briar took me to meet Martin today." To Christine he adds, "Danny is Briar now. Martin was who Briar was before Danny."
Padding out of the hallway, coming from that just mentioned, comes a woman who looks like Emily. A little older, perhaps, a little less concerned with the world around her and what people think of her. A blue singlet top and grey slack pants. No shoes. No accessories. That makes up the entire outfit that the Penitent has going for her. It could be a prison uniform, though it's a little more than one would really expect of that. She steps into the room and looks around at briefly, giving a guileless sort of smile at the gathering and barely even noting them -- except Creepshow. Her smile grows a little. "Hello!" She greets in an enthusiastic, almost child-like tone as she moves over to see how her once sister, once robot best friend, is doing this time around.
Pausing a moment to finally glance at her company, there's a kind of pause as she realizes the two newcomers to this particular place.
"What does that door have to do with Emily? Or whatever she calls herself here" Christine asks before shrugging her own question away. She should look at her own door. Though what Dare is saying has her back on the confused path. "We can meet our other selves? Okay...that's freaky. If your time theory is correct, Dare, then wouldn't that be one of those time travel no-nos?"
And then there is an 'Emily'. Christine, looking older and with lighter hair, catches her breath for a moment. As far as Christine is concerned, she went to sleep with Emily the previous night and woke up alone and who knows where. And she's ignored.
"Speaking of," says Creepy when Penny emerges. She lifts a small hand in a lazy wave to the other woman. "Hey. Didn't really see much of you this time. You survived again, I saw. Good for you. They were just asking me which door was yours."
Back to Competitor. "Our door symbols are... Kind of reflective of who we are here and the lives we live in the stories. And no, we don't meet ourselves, but if you go through one of those two doors there thinking about Christine and the lodge, you'll be her and there."
The Martyr is wearing a purple linen poet shirt with a lot of neck and wrist ruffles open to display a bit of pasty chest and tight black on black paisley trousers with purple high top sneakers. The differences between the Martyr and Finn are subtle. He is the same age, with very similar hair, though slightly longer and in a slightly different cut, and is still long limbed and gangling. Though he is still very thin, he is wiry with it instead of borderline emaciated. "It's not like that. Briar was showing me who Briar used to be so I could understand better. They were still Briar underneath."
He turns, startled by the change in demeanor more than appearances. He's getting used to those adjustments. It's the not going right to Christine that has him quietly, visibly alarmed. he's heard the horror stories already too. "Hey, Em." His tone is wary.
Not ignored, simply unrecognized. Her excitement in spotting Creepshow meant that Penitent didn't quite notice who the other people actually were. "Oh gosh, you're both here. Well, welcome to the craziest form of existence I think anyone could think of. Hey, the both of you." Mostly her gaze is on Competitor though, considering her thoughtfully, and she steps a little bit closer. "As much as I'm happy to see you, I really am sorry you're stuck here in this." She offers quietly.
Half shifting, she nods at Creepy. "No, not much. But you did give me the fright of my life with that fake shooting before the real death came along. As much as Emily hated it, that was actually pretty funny." There's a little grin there for Creepy. "And yeah, surviving again. More's the pity." A sidelong glance back to Martyr. "Who's Briar?"
"I'm happy to see you too" Competitor replies to Penitent, smiling warmly at the woman who is close to the woman she knew as recently as 'last night', but is obviously not. "You look great" she adds before her brow furrows a little. "You wanted to die?" This place is better than the Lodge? A shrug about being stuck here. "This is just another place to beat" she assures Penitent and the others. She's new and without the bitterness of experience, she can think such things. That she talks of Emily in the third person is noticed before a smirk at the memory. "If we had kicked you off the island like I wanted because of that trick, you would still be alive today" she informs Max. "Except, of course, you are anyway."
Competitor looks over at the door that Max suggests. "Back at the Lodge or back at the life I had after it?"
A little grin. Creepshow rather enjoyed that prank. "Guess what I apparently brought back this time? The severed head prop." She snorts faintly at Penny's disappointment at surviving. "Maybe a good, well-earned death next time?"
Mention of Briar gets a faint roll of her eyes. "Yeah, that making up names shit sounds good when you're still fairly new here. The longer we're here and the more lives we have it's just yet more names to keep straight. Because THAT fucking helps."
To Competitor, "Whatever you think of. That's what they do. They take you somewhere you want to go." Suddenly remembering something, she snaps fingers at Penny. "They're populated now! Animals, people - all of it. Fucking trippy."
The Martyr is less wary now, but his eyes keep flicking to Christine in his concern. It is Emily he addresses though, "Briar used to be Danny and Martin. I'm calling myself Dare for now. What should I call you?" Something in his expression suggests he gts what Emily is driving at, but doesn't agree. Perhaps he too is too new to know better. Nods, "I can see that, Max, and reserve the right to change my mind later. Still, this is what I want for now."
"It's not about this place. I didn't know about this place when I was Emily," Penny says quietly, stepping closer to Competitor and giving a little hip bump to the other woman, and a small little smile. That kind of shy smile that's at home right on Emily's face. "Twice now I've survived, and twice now I've died. I've found it's easier to ... readjust to this place if I die, rather than living through it. But I am whoever I am at the time, and can't help but try to survive." She shrugs her shoulders a little. "I'm sorry if I'm being a bit weird for you. I'm not Emily, though. She's a part of me, sure." The smile turns apologetic before she looks at Finn, nodding. "Oh. That's right Martin became Danny. That must have been a shock for him. I'll try to remember that name. I never chose one for myself, I'll answer to Madison, or Kylie or Anette or Emily. Whatever you feel most comfortable with, really. Finally, there's a blink at Creepshow. "Uh ... what? How? What?" Three very excellent questions. "Where do these people come from? Do we dream them up like we do the place itself? That's ... yeah, fucking trippy." Beat. "We should totally rob a train though, old west style."
"Looks like I have a lot to get used to" Competitor nods to Penitent, the hip bump bringing a little smile to her face - which does nothing to hide the pain in her eyes. "I'm going to go and check out my room a little more. See whatever is on my door says about me. Great to see you all again. I'm sure we'll run into each other." She turns to face the Hall of Rooms. "I think I remember which door I came out of" she smirks before she is heading off with a wave adieu.
It's perhaps noteworthy that the smallest and youngest-looking one of them just essentially told Martyr to get off her damn lawn, but Creepy can be a real crabby bitch sometimes. "You do you," she tells him with a shrug. "I might suggest nametags if you're gonna get sand in your vag when someone calls you Finn, though."
Penny gets a bright grin, which is not necessarily the most reassuring thing to see. "We SO fucking should!" she agrees. "As for who they are or where they came from? Fuck if I know. I went to Max's home back in Mexico. Stayed a weekend with her mom, who acted like Max was just visiting from college. Oh, that's another thing! We can stay overnight in there now. I did a whole weekend in Guadalajara, woke up in Max's childhood bed each morning. When I came out? Maybe twenty minutes had passed in here. And when I took Bastian to the Noc, to show him where Ramona lived? I was a fucking SYNTH again! Whoever our evil overlords are, at least they upgraded the amenities!" Competitor gets a little wave as she goes.
The Martyr smiles softly, "Danny was good for Martin, it seems, and Briar is happier for having been Danny. Briar's still working some things out, I think. But Briar is happy." And Dare it seems is even more smitten with Briar than Finn was with Danny. He snorts amusement, "The Great Train Robbery, Facility style." He shakes his head no, "No sand anywhere uncomfortable. If you call me Finn, I'll still answer." He stands, looking after Christine, concerned, "I think I'll leave you two to catch up and plot adventures. I've got some reading I'd like to do."
There's a little finger wriggle of a wave from Penitent towards Competitor, giving her a nod. "It's a lot to take in. Come see me if you want. Or maybe I'll come visit you? We could do with a proper catch up and everything." She suggests in a softer tone of voice. But she understands, and nods a little, glancing back at the other two. Her brows lift up at Creepy's grin there, and nods a little.
"Did it feel weird to be a synth again? That's ... I don't know how I feel about that, honestly." She frowns a little. "You could get lost in there pretty easily. But I'll check it out, for sure." There's a light little laugh for the Martyr, and she shakes her head. "Hey, before we were at the lodge, 'Max' and I here were two of the hardest most wanted women in all of Nevada, and a few nearby states besides, 'round 1902. Ain't nobody 'round who didn't know 'bout the Black Widow Gang." That western drawl even creeps into her tone a little, there, and there's a wink. "But I'm glad for Danny, yeah. That's good."
"I'd like that" Competitor nods to Penitent about catching up, admirably maintaining her composure. But with Penitent and Creepshow getting so excited about old memories and the future, she knows to get out of there.
"It's... strange," Creepshow allows. "I'm not sure if it's meant to make us happier, or to fuck with us harder. Maybe both. You'll see when you go in."
"If you'll excuse me, I need to shove food in my face. But let's TOTALLY do a train robbery. Those were a fucking blast." She gives Penny a brief little hug in passing, then makes her way to the dispensary.
The Martyr takes a last look at the woman who was Emily over his shoulder, face very still as he gives her a little wave before returning to his Fizz vigil. "Have fun, Max."
Penny smiles a fond little smile for the departing Max, and the woman glances back down the hallway, watching the woman she knew as Christine making her way down that hallway. There's a moment's thought, before she decides to just let her be by herself for the time being, and a soft little sigh when she's standing there alone. After a moment of standing there more or less alone in thought, she pads her way over to the bookcase to search up a book.