The Pedagogue is sitting in the dining room with a plate piled with barbeque in front of him. He spent some time in the old west, he feels inclined to BBQ it seems. Ribs, chicken, pulled pork, brisket. It has all the fixins too: Texas toast, mac and cheese, corn on the cob. And a beer. Because why the hell not? He's been a bit absentee since his wake up, trying to help not-Bella cope as well as trying to keep from losing his own shit. If he thinks about his situation too hard, it feels like he might tear his way out of his own skin into manic insanity.
Former-Nolan is wearing a dark green tee and jeans, with sandals. His hair looks trimmed and neat as it does every day in this place. He's cleanshaven as he is always in the Facility. And he's about 30. He looks healthy and whole, unlike the gaunt shadow of himself the tuberculosis-plagued McTavish was.
Not-Glenn doesn't look a whole lot different than he did in Prosperity, hair cut shorter and dress quite a bit more laid back - today the sweater is black and the pajama bottoms are heather grey - until he opens his mouth and that accent of his comes out. He also looks like he just woke up, padding into the dining room barefoot and bleary eyed, his hair mussed up and an obvious cowlick up the back. He barely takes notice of those in the dining room as he makes his way right over to one of the dispensers, staring dazedly at the screen for a few moments before he starts poking it with his finger as if he'd rather be stabbing it.
Don't-Call-Me Jody, while still tall as ever, is a more strapping, sturdy, and most notably, abled body version of himself. He's dressed down in a black tank top and brown plaid pajama bottoms. His bare skin is an endless expanse of pale, unmarked flesh. He might glow a little in the right light. The only color on him is the blue necklace he's wearing. He's been writing today as evidenced by the black ink staining his hands and the markers clipped to his tank top's neckline. He hasn't hit the dining room yet but he's on his way to the dispensers so maybe it's just snack time. But he pauses at the Pedagogue's table and says, "Overseer." Beat. "Man, all the consumptives looked like shit. I haven't recognized one on first glance." He runs a hand through his hair to ease an itch. "Have you seen Bella?" He asks, his eyes softening to concern.
The Pedagogue glances up at movement and sees his former little brother, unwitting murderer of their father, and it gets mingled with the synthetic detective and the rock star that came before. Glenn sticks though, permeates for the man who felt more whole as Nolan McTavish than he did in his other incarnations. "Glenn?" he asks, as the man pokes at the Star Trek level dispenser that also granted him this meat feast before him.
Then the title of Overseer is once more laid on him and he looks over at the Confidant with a cranky expression. "Yeah, I spent a good while just breathing deeply when I woke up here. Then I remembered it was here and the gratitude died quickly. "Bella's in her room. She's taking being here again pretty hard. I've been keeping an eye on her."
A mug and a bowl, both steaming and warm arrive from the dispenser at Loner's irritated stabbing, their presence seeming to help to calm him almost immediately. "Ya?" Comes the response to Glenn's name after a few moments where one might not be sure he even heard. Though he glances over towards his brother in Prosperity and blinks a few times. "There you are. Got worried when I got here and didn't see you walking around anywhere." His accent turns most of that into a jumbled mess but can still be mostly understood.
He grabs bowl and mug and walks over to the table, not really asking permission to join Nolan, and sort of just planting himself into one of the seats with a mild grunt. Tea and oatmeal being placed in front of him. All the world's foods at his fingertips and he ends up with that.
The Confidant something in the Pedagogue's words seemed to stick out. His brow furrow, both with deepened concern and curiosity. He invites himself to sit, as well, crossing his arms on the table and leaning towards the former Nolan. "I'm glad you found each other. We need our connections after Prosperity. We need to hold on to them like a life raft." He pauses and looks away thoughtfully. "She's taking it hard? How so? I...I understand it, in a sense but...I see a lot of negativity here. It's dreary almost. Sad. I just wonder why? I mean, why..." The Confidant is clearly reluctant to admit a shortcoming in understanding here. "I'm always kind of glad to be back here." He stammers and stutters a bit at the admission before shrugging helplessly.
"Was harder this time around," Not-Nolan admits to his pseudo brother. "I took being back here pretty hard. So did Bella. I fell down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out what this place is, and how much of these other lives are real or not. Or if any of you are real and I'm just dreaming all this." He takes a sip of his beer and gnashes at some ribs as he ponders the tea and oatmeal choice of the Scottish man. As the Loner gets up and heads back to his room, he turns his focus on the man he knew as Jody. "Did you die or survive this past time?" he asks. He has no idea what transpired after he expired on the grounds of the old mining camp. "I've died each time feeling like I'd accomplished something, done the right thing, earned my wings so to speak, and could be at rest. Instead I wake up here in this prison, and learn all the things I built in that previous life were just some illusion or program or whatever it is we're in here."
The Confidant listens, nodding as he comes to the easy understanding. "Right. Different experiences would lead to different reactions upon return. I shouldn't forget that." He sighs. "You would let the Whys and Hows get to you. I really wish others would..." He just shakes his head. "I lived for a while. I went to New Orleans but..." He looks up, reaching for those more ephemeral memories. "I ended up in Baton Rouge. Just before the anniversary of the Reaping beginning, I shot myself. Used the same one I killed my P-father with. The first time, I was with my girlfriend and sister in London and then work up here. I died the second time but it must have been fast. I don't remember it at all." He lays this head on his arms. "I've never accomplished anything. It always feels like waking up from a dream to me, I guess. Although, Prosperity was very different."
"It felt more grounded this time. More real. We had families, real families, who we cared about. Friends we had histories with. Lovers we wanted to be with forever. I think that on the Island, I was disaffected by it all as an older man amid young people. On the Noc, I had already lost my wife, I knew my daughter was away safetly, and I was keeping those things from getting out by destroying the station, at the cost of my life. My only real friend was a synthetic. So I didn't lose very much by dying. But I feel like I lost so much by finding out Prosperity wasn't real." The Pedagogue grimaces and pokes at his food a bit. "And a few of us have recognized some of the other players in Prosperity as faces we'd seen in some of these other scenarios, but never here with us."
The Confidant draws up, his shoulders pulling inward as the former Nolan speaks. He nods along, particularly at the talk of families and lovers. "I...I mean, you know...Jody was everybody's friend. He loved everyone and wanted everyone to be happy." He sighs. "I have a girl on the island. She appeared here, once, and now someone new has her room. Chance has a hard time connecting intimately so...it didn't feel like a loss. Henry's only friends were doorless ones. He was sick...delusional. And all he had was a daughter, safe on earth. I woke relieved but confused. Lonely. I kept to myself until Prosperity and I had siblings and a dead wife and lovers and friends and neighbors. I cared so much for their safety and well-being. Still care." He says, with real conviction. "But...I was in so much pain and laudanum was its own escape. And then, well, I set about trampling on the dreams of others. I hurt people. I couldn't live with it." His eyes turn down. "This place was a relief. When I think about it...it always has."
"Ouch, you got dealt a pretty raw hand in Prosperity. I wonder if we're being tested somehow? Programmed to act in a certain way, then watched as the fallout of the behavior erupts around us. Who are we after we do something good, bad, selfless, or selfish? I feel like we're in an experiment. Or maybe this is some sort of Purgatory," The Pedagogue theorizes between bites of food. "There's a level of cruelty to all this though, that makes me think experiment. Or prison. Maybe we were terrible people and we're being rehabilitated?" All these theories are scribbled on the blackboard in his room, in an order only he seems to understand.
The Confidant shakes his head. "No, no, no." Something about the way he rebukes this makes it seem like he's been thinking about it. Which directly contradictions a common statement among the others written on the walls. 'Don't Think About It.' It's a bold one and is usually placed at roughly eye level in common areas. "This isn't hell or purgatory. It's too nice here and I really do believe that here and /there/ are quite separate. Same on the prison front. It's not that either. If it was any of those, we'd suffer more. I mean, I've only died once in the Encounter and once in the fuzzy aftermath. Both were shots to the head." He pauses. "On the...other side of things, something has always been broken with me. Deaf, crazy, lame and addicted. If /anyone/ is being punished, it's me." He laughs lightly. "But that's me. Which leads me to believe that we are part of an experiment. I am noticing patterns about the old timers, in and out. I remember everyone. And don't know everything about them, of course but I know names and faces. Makes it a little easier to notice what tends to be consistent."
"The thing that freaks me out is the level of technology we're involved with. Even here, that dispensary? That's some Star Trek shit there," the Pedagogue says with a glance at the doorway to the delivery system. "And how everything resets the next day, even if you die here? Bella was stabbed to death in her room. She was alive the next day."
Oddly, even though Loner had left with his breakfast he returns a few minutes later holding and heads right back over to the dispensery. Only a cursory wave is offered to the pair as he trundles through again, this time he has a book in his hand as he calls forth yet another cup of tea. Though he does look much more together now that he's gotten something into him, heading back over to the table to rejoin the others. He says nothign yet, either about his departure or return, only reclaiming his seat. But, he's always an odd one.
"Exactly. That screams experiment to me. The, uh, constants. Lots of constants." The Confidant says. "Having control makes the experiment, uh, neater? I mean, when there is less randomness it's easier to see the patterns, right?" He's the Confidant, not the Scientist. "But I am convinced that we are real. Why? Because we all seem to have something unique to us and goes with us. My broken part, for example. It's just me but there's always something." When the Loner joins them, he snaps his fingers. "Scottish. He's always Scottish. Except Prosperity /but/ none of the accented ones kept it. Which is a whole different constant." Beat. "Am I onto something? I-I don't talk about this stuff..."
"Did you survive Prosperity, or no, little brother?" Not-Nolan asks former Glenn. He sips his beer, nibbling on his side dishes now that he's mostly demolished the meats. He never seems to gain a pound, despite not exercising at all. Every morning it's like Groundhog Day, restarting fresh as he did the very first time he woke up here. He grunts at the Confidant. "So, are we captured by aliens? From a future we don't remember? Are we in a Weyland-Yutani lab somewhere?" He arches a brow at the talk of constants. "I always die beside Bella. All three times."
"Reality TV." Loner says as he takes a sip of his tea and sets the book down on the tabletop. It's his pet theory and he throws out those two words almost casually. His eyes drift to Nolan at the question and he gives a long slow shake of his head. "No, I did not." And he leaves it at that. He sets his mug down on the table and stares at it in sullen silence for a moment. "Two is a coincidence, three could be a pattern. We won't know for sure until we have gone through a couple more of these... whatevers."
The Confidant considers Loner's theory and then, shakes his head a bit. "It might be more exciting if it was. A lot of my time on The Noc before hell broke loose was...talking to people and paperwork. On the island, I recall doing inventory of medical supplies a lot. Moreso than anything anyone would care to watch. Even Prosperity, I could easily sleep all day if nothing of note happened. And then I read all night. Yawn. A lot of what we do in the Encounters is still mundane. I don't discount it but I feel more like...we are people who have been chosen. And we're being dropped into the Encounters like...mice in a maze. Except with horrible, horrible things happening and no cheese at the end." Beat. "Chosen for our traits. Something dominant within us that makes us prime subjects."
"Pretty sure reality tv as I think of it, can't give you instant BBQ with all the fixins on a whim," Pedagogue points out, looking over at the dispensary. Unless this is some kind of weird program and we only //think// we're eating and drinking and stuff, this has to be way in the future." He nods towards Confidant's ideas. "Something like that, yeah."
"You don't think we could have weird reality TV in the future? Besides, there's boring bits when they follow people around with cameras, too. They just cut out all the boring bits and air the drama." Loner picks up his mug, taking each point as it comes his way. "And we can still be chosen for our traits, people like defined characters, and having them with the same face lets them know who to root for and who to despise." He taks another slow sip of tea, but it seems only to wet his throat rather than to end his point. "On top of it, we may have different accents but we are all primary English speakers. Much easier for an audience to understand."
"Good points, all of them--" Confidant pauses and considers Loner and then Pedagogue. "Do you two have names you prefer? I know a few have picked ones from Encounters like I did and Angeline picked Cassie. I don't care much for Hey, you and if someone called me Jody after being corrected I might be upset." He shrugs. "I like happy people. Anyway, you make a good point. I mean, the island was rigged with cameras to show our most boring shit. Defined traits, familiar faces and the use of English all point to it. Chance used ASL when even he could and my friend Will rarely spoke but subtitles are a thing. That's a weak outlier." He considers something and then adds, "But, the good guys and bad guys change. Jody was a good guy but he did bad things. Not just within the Encounter but in the fuzzy before. I suppose if you are a long time watcher, maybe seeing Jody change a bit would be interesting. I don't know. I never got my food. Pardon me." He gets up and heads into the Dispensary, clearly flustered.
"Huh," the Pedagogue says at Glenn's note about all being English speakers. "I'll have to add that to the board. I somehow missed that we're all speaking English as a primary language here. My biggest issue with reality tv is, how the hell did they make us forget who we really are? That's pretty impressive. I can't see any legal counsel permitting someone to knock us on the head til we get amnesia, you know? This seems like a civil rights debacle."
"Super high tech meat puppets, clones.. You're assuming the future is a progressive place and not a corporate ruled hell hole where slavery is allowed." Loner smirks over the rim of his mug of tea, it's not really a warm smile, or a pleased one. Simply a grim curve of the lips from a natural pessimist. "Didn't your ma ever tell you why you shouldn't assume?" He snorts and takes another sip of tea. "They take care of us because we're valuable, but most things can be explained with, oh what's that line, any suitably advanced technology being indistiguishable yadda yadda blah blah."
"We don't know what year it is!" Confidant calls from the Dispensary. "Or country. Or planet. We don't know the rules outside of here. Like he said. And we aren't clones. Why do some faces change? Why not keep the same ones? I mean--Oh! Food." He disappears for a moment, reappearing with a bowl of canned ravioli and a bottle of generic cola. "High tech meat puppet makes more sense somehow, strange as it is. It would explain the larger pattern of people's traits. Like, okay, I only can speak for myself because I'm in my head but what has always been my focus within Encounters is others but not as a protecter or anything like that. It was always..." He closes his eyes as he tries to find the right words. "It feels weird and crazy but...I need people. Moreso, I want them to need me. And I want to be used! I want to be there for people. It's...like the symbol on my door! People are leaning on him. I crave the feeling of being someone else's support. A friend. A lover. A brother. It's both selfless and selfish at the same fucking time."
"I'm kind of hoping for aliens. At least then I could be like "None of this was my fault," Pedagogue notes. He gets up and drains the last of his beer, a Molson Canadian. "Though they must have really done some serious research on us to know about the old west and the Aliens franchise." He still looks doubtful that any of them have it pegged. He looks appalled at Confidant's meal. "Or Chef Boyardee."
"Some of us already had a turn at being aware we are a valuable if ultimately expendible piece of property." The words are sharp as Loner utters them, laced with an acidic loathing that's beyond hard to miss. "That was one of the hardest parts of coming back from Callum. The feeling of being something... less than human and yet." He wrinkles his nose and doesn't complete that thought. "I wouldn't be surprised if whoever is in charge is doing everything in their power to keep that thought out of our heads."
"Hey. I don't judge your meals." Confidant loves his cheap, processed trash. "Chance's tastes rubbed off on me. I don't even think of trying anything else." He says with a shrug. "Anyway, our knowledge of Aliens as a franchise or the brand name of this Save-A-Ton ravioli speaks to...something outside of this place. Same with accents when you think about it. Caleb's South African. He's Scottish. Connor's a Londoner while that new guy, Dirk! He's Yorkshire? Yeah. I think. Point is, in puts them in a place once. A place when they were small and learned to speak." He leans back in his chair, balancing his bowl of canned pasta on one hand. "But a few of us are completely bland in speech. Me and Cassie come to mind. In contrast, her and I are unique in our appearance. Multiracial and...ginger. All it is is data and the lack of conclusions can get to me."
The former Nolan, Glenn and Jody sit at a table, seemingly chatting about theories as some are wont to do.
"Yeah, I have that bland non-accent too. Like, Virgina or Connecticut or Vermont or something that just doesn't register as an accent," the Pedagogue murmurs. He sets down the empty beer bottle and still nose wrinkles at the ravioli. "How do I know I don't like that stuff if I've never eaten it here? So somewhere, somehow, I must have eaten that, right? Ugh, my head hurts with all these theories. I'm going to go check on Bella and make sure she's ok. See you soon, I'm sure." He heads for the hallway.