Log:Here We Go Again
She lost her leg. There were grenades. There were weapons going off. It was a battle with terrible odds. Aliens that could take out most if not all of them alone, but there was half a dozen of them if not more. The synth had been torn apart alongside her and her leg had been torn off... torn off and left as the only thing she had on hand.
In her final seconds, Michel Thorne had tried to fend off death with her own limb in hand. That lance of a limb went through her and she died on the warehouse floor before the explosion went off- barely.
...and woke up in her bed. She woke up screaming. It was a clipped scream as she flailed under the covers, flinging them away from her. This disrupted a form curled up by her hip as the lights came up and the black-and-white feline tumbled a few inches away with a 'Mrrp?' before standing upright with a long stretch. The Hunter sat upright, staring at the room. This time, unlike the time before, things settled back in place a little quicker. She's still hyperventilating, but her breath is steadying a bit more in bits... pieces... and then she registers the cat. "...Pants?"
Death isn't so bad. It doesn't hurt anymore, worries flutter away and the body relaxes. The peace of nothingness.
Then she woke up. The lights in the Penitent's room flicker on as she sits up from her bed. Her memories are a jumble; a vague recollection of metal and blood and acid. Gun shots. She doesn't really know. Minutes are spent just staring around the sort of familiar room. Her comforting, boring room. She belongs here. Names flitter about, though none that she can really and truly grasp onto.
So some time is spent, meandering and recollecting her memories. She remembers this place more than anything else at first, but soon memories of Kylie begin to filter back in.
Which means that she's on her way down that hall. Having changed into a more familiar outfit, grey slacks and a maroon tank top (no shoes, of course), she's lingering in that hallway, glancing at the rooms in thought. So many people and conflicting memories of them.
It's the scream that snaps her focus back to the present and brings her to that door, looking at that image of the woman upon it. "Hello?" She calls out, somewhat uncertainly. It's Kylie's voice but it's not at all Kylie's cadence. "Mich--" she cuts off before completing the name.
That door. That door with the image of the woman holding the bow-and-arrow, crouched in the brush. Perhaps the cause is becoming more clear? The reason for that imagery?
Within there are no more screams. There is just quiet. For the moment, at least. The woman still sits in her bed, arms wrapped around the cat now nestled in her lap; purring. When she hears Kylie outside her door, she looks up and mouths the name.
But wait... Kylie. The image in her head overlaps with another. Madison. Then a woman in this place. The Hunter shudders a bit. It all begins colliding in place and she inhales sharply in a gasp, but she does get to her feet: still holding Pants. Thorne... or is it Maata? pads over to the door and pulls it open. She's in a heather gray t-shirt and black athletic shorts. She just stares at the woman on the other side.
Many of the same thoughts are going through Kylie's mind as well. Michel. Maata. It naturally leads her to thinking of Conrad. Madison and Kylie mingle, and when the door opens she likewise just stares back. "Oh .... oh my." Is all she can stammer out for a moment. Her hand rises up to cover her mouth as her eyes widen, and there's even a half a step back. She barely even registers the presence of the feline.
There's nothing to be said as she tries to sort out the confusing rush of thoughts and emotions that come from very different experiences. Previously, the Penitent would have pushed it all aside, but here and now? She has no real idea of what to do.
"You shouldn't be here."
It's the first thing the Hunter can think to say. It may not be the right thing to say in the moment, but it's there and it happens. The cat leaps out of her arms and darts off down the hall and she lets it. Pants always had an independent streak anyway and the full run of the Ludovica until things began going to shit from the get-go. It frees her arms so as to lift a hand and reach out towards the Penitent's; the one that covers her mouth. "Did we fail? Did... blowing the secondary reactor not save everyone?" A plan she never warned Shorley she was going to do. Because of course she didn't. Because if she had, she might not have done it. Because Kylie might have gone with her. Because that's just not how Michel worked.
Because right here and right now, it's so hard for her to separate and disentangle herself from that self. To fully come to terms with the fact that she's back in this place.
It catches her, those words. She flinches away, another step back. But then Michel is reaching out and there's a cat! Her hand might be taken as she stares off after Pants. She's amazed that the animal is here. It's just another thing she really can't explain at all. She stares blankly, before the words Michel offers really sink in as to what she means.
"I ... some people got to evacuate. There ... wasn't enough room on the shuttle," she slips back into that persona, bringing her eyes back onto the other woman. "Some of them came for us. The creatures. Not everyone could get onto that craft and ..." and well. She's here now. Her eyes flicker closed. "I made sure they got away safely."
Once the panic has left the other woman, the Hunter's hand falls away. She leans back on her heels and watches, brow furrowed. Concern is writ across her features. "You should have been on that shuttle," she says quietly. There's a look over her shoulder into the room; the weapon racks, the concrete floor. The table by the bed, with Maata's knife on it. More and more coming back.
"What... what is this?" She steps back into the room itself, but leaves the door hanging open. She paces towards the bed and sits down heavily on the edge. "What's happening to us?"
A moment's hesitation before she steps into the room as well, closing the door behind her. "I couldn't just abandon everyone. Not again. So I got a terrible idea to climb into my loader and stand in the way." She says quietly, glancing over the room. She remains near the door.
"I don't know. We were in space. You had ... oh my goodness, your leg! Is it real now? You didn't always have a cybernetic leg did you?" It sounds like such a silly thing to say, but there it is all the same. Surely people would have noticed Maata running about the island with a cyber limb.
"Of course you did," the Hunter says, leaning forward and perching elbows upon knees as she drops her head into her hands. "I bet you were brilliant at it, too." She lets out a quiet laugh. It's not without humor, but what's there is thin and desperate.
Taking in a breath she looks up and shakes her head. There does show a small smile. "My leg is real-" she looks down and stretches out her leg; visible as flesh in those shorts. "As far as I can tell. But..." the smile fades and she shudders. Those final moments still all too real. "It got... torn off by one of those aliens. Right before it killed me. I... I tried to stop it." She actually blanches a bit. "With the leg."
"I dunno about that," she replies, leaning against the door. "Turns out having no way to get away when those things are clinging to the machine isn't that good. Then someone shot one of them." It's all Kylie, the way she speaks, the tone of her voice. "And then there was acid everywhere and I couldn't move and I started to panic they'd take me and ... and make me like the others they cocooned up." She pauses, a shudder there running through her form. Both at that potential fate and the way she ended up avoiding it. All too real indeed. She glances at the leg proper for the first time. It's obviously real.
"Oh, Michel. That's awful. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I ..." she doesn't have the words really. "Who is doing this to us?"
"I'm sorry," Thorne -- or is it Maata? -- says to Kylie, staring at the woman. "I... I wish you'd gotten on the shuttle. So you didn't deal with that or... or end up here." There's true distress in her mien. It's why she went to the core! Why she faced the queen and the other aliens! To save people. To save Shorley. Her shoulders slump. She shakes her head slightly. "I chose to go through that. We all did, those of us who went."
There's a brittle laugh as she recalls. "January was there. She didn't go with us, but we found her there. Standing with the Queen. Like... like some sort of pet or confidant. She did betray us. Just like I knew she would."
But the last question comes and the Hunter shakes her head slowly as she looks back up to Kylie. "I don't know. I... Are the others- is..." Her eyes widen a bit. "Is Conrad here?" The pieces haven't quite fallen into place. That Conrad is Rhys.
"Enough people died because of me once before," The Penitent replies, "I couldn't take someone elses spot. And maybe you made that choice to help us all, but it is still an awful thing to go through. To have to remember." She does understand. She made a similar decision of her own, when she didn't get on that shuttle.
There's a slow nod in regards to Alexis, her head tilting to the side slightly afterwards. "I am surprised that she actually did that. It must have gotten the better of her. And no one was around to kill her like she asked. That is very unfortunate."
Finally, she shakes her head. "I don't know. I have not been awake for that long, I was debating checking on his door when I heard you. I --" she has a lifetime of 'memories' of Conrad. Less real than what Maata experienced with the man on the Island, but they're still sort of there. Directly thinking about them? She makes that connection. "Oh -- he ... he wanted to --" she can't actually get the words out!
"You shouldn't have to die just because other people did before," Thorne points out in return. As for Alexis, she starts to have choice words, but drops them. The other woman died. What's done is done. And Kylie is mentioning Conrad all the same. It leads the Hunter to think about him more. To recall him in her memory. Of him on the Island. Of her time with him in the Facility. They spent their final moments before the countdown finished together. And then the man lines up with another. Rhys Driscoll. Her features shift into something of understanding.
"Rhys," she says quietly. Her breath comes in again. She blinks a few times. "That-" All the pieces are slowly assembling themselves. She understood who she was -- is -- to an extent. Sort of. And sort of who Kylie was... in a kind of distant way. But now it all builds up even more. It's all fitting and interlocking and she just sort of gives a look to the other woman that's both shocked and apologetic. "Kylie- Madison- Sh-" Shorley? Or shit? Her mouth works for a few seconds before she just asks in a small voice: "What do I call you?" and then, quieter: "I'm sorry."
"I wasn't planning on dying," Kylie replies in a quiet voice, but her shoulders slump as she stares down at the floor. Much like the Hunter, everything is falling into place in the strangest way possible. "What do you want to call me?" She asks quietly. "I don't know. I liked being Kylie far more than Madison, in a lot of ways. What do I call you?"
Her eyes lift up as she stares at the other woman, eyes blinking a few times as a hand lifts up to rub at her face. "I remember that I didn't really want to be Madison. I don't know if I can do the same for Kylie. Maybe I should. It would make this ... easier." A pause. "What are you sorry for? How much agency do we really have if we don't ... remember."
"I don't know. Maata? Michel? Thorne? Something... else?" She was so certain she was Maata before. She refused to be anything else, to look at the name books. She was Maata. Simply put. Part of that was Conrad's influence, but it still felt comfortable. Easy. Now? She doesn't know. "Kylie was good. She was strong. But... you're Madison, too, and..."
It's hard to explain, so the Hunter stops trying. She leans forward to reach for that knife that always finds its way to her night stand. Maata's brother's knife. She turns it over in her hands. "I... I don't know, but it feels... wrong somehow. I was -- am? -- in a relationship with Conrad, but then who and what I was just now. Just... then? There?" She swallows, lowering her hands to her lap as she looks up at the Penitent. "That... must be odd for you."
"I didn't know you very well when you were Maata." The Penitent says quietly, shifting uncomfortably again. "But I am. Conrad really wanted me to keep being Madison, so I ... she was still a part of me anyway. But it was easier ... and better for me, to just ignore her." A pause. "You told me it was a bad idea to do that. Remember? Is it still? I can't ... forget that." She nods slowly. "A bit odd, yes."
"Maybe it is better that I just push it all away again." A pause. "How can this happen twice? Will it happen ... even more? I don't know how to face that." More faces and connections are made. Esme the photographer suddenly an android built for pleasure. Dahlia! The woman she -- Madison -- invested so much money in. Also an synthetic. "Everyone I know was someone else ... except the ones who never made it here."
"I thought it was a bad idea at the time," the Hunter says quietly. "The idea of losing you -- again -- was tearing him apart." Conrad. "He loved you, greatly. He cared about you a lot. I know... I know you both had your difficulties, but it's why... why it was so important to him. To have us. Because I think he was... I think he felt lost otherwise." It's easier to think about other things. But thinking about that brings her to zero in on similar thoughts to Shorley. To the last thing.
She swallows. "I don't... know if it'll happen again, but do you think we're... drawn to the same faces on purpose? Did I find myself with Conrad? And you? Again for a reason? I remember... Anton, too. Wolfram. A Marshal. God. It's... Is this-"
"The idea of being her -- Madison -- was tearing me apart. But she is ... much more distant now. Though ... still there?" There's a bit of a sigh, as she turns about, reaching for the door. "I don't know what any of this is. All I know is ... I kind of liked being Kylie. She was fun. But I'm not her either." She shakes her head, and then is opening the door again. "I need to think a bit. And get something to drink."
With that, she's stepping out of the room, practically drifting on down the hallway.