Log:Hunting the Beast
Since he woke, Beast hasn't left his room. The door remains closed. There's been perhaps faint sounds of movement at some point, but beyond that, there's no real indication that he's there save for the fact that his symbol is still on the door and hasn't been wiped away. So, when Rogue arrives, there's no surprise that there's no evidence of occupancy -- which doesn't mean he isn't in there.
The Rogue let a bit of time pass, though how long in truth? Who knows. Still, time and time again, life after lifetime, Beast has been his his only constant family. It seemed to be some weird track they stay on. Rogue leans on the outside of the door and does him the justice of knocking first.
"Hey.... it's, um, it's Caleb." The soft off-continent accent heralding what was a good name as any from the many they know one another as. He seemed to favor that one with Beast (Connor?) as any. The life he took a bullet to ave his life, so maybe a peace offering.
Because the Rogue is, in fact, the Rogue by matrix and nature he lets himself in led by a look of curious concern doing a sweep of what looks to be an unoccupied hotel room, though he leaves his back to the wall swallowing back that instinct of panic. His first experience in the facility being the stark reminder he'd never see his wife again left a profound scar on the man's nerves.
No one has ever actually entered Beast's room before, so when the door opens, he wasn't expecting it. It's probably not a good idea to startle a wounded animal, but at the moment, Connor looks too exhausted to bother getting up from the corner in which he sits. At first, like looking into a cage, it might not be obvious where he's lurking. But, a look around the otherwise nondescript hotel room will eventually lead one's gaze to a chair in the back corner under a reading lamp. The lamp is off, but Connor is there, curled up in it under one of the spare blankets one is like to find in the closet of a hotel room.
There are items that Rogue would recognize -- the mug on the dresser from Danny's Diner on the Noc, the Colton gun on its stand from Prosperity, and a photograph, a Polaroid taken on the frat bus on the way to the Eager Beaver Lodge with Matthew, Julian, Gus, and Marc in the picture. The only thing he might not recognize is the necklace that lies curled up next to the coffee mug.
Connor is silent and still, his gaze distant, lost in whatever thoughts have consumed him since his arrival back in the facility. But his gaze snaps into sharp focus when the door opens, and he studies Rogue for a long few moments before he says, "Caleb." It's a bit rough, and he has to clear his throat afterward, but it's a greeting, and he hasn't thrown him out.
The Rogue lets his eyes take a sweep in the search halting pointedly, on the pistol he gave Evan DeWitt in a previous life. His eyebrow arches half a centimeter before continuing the careful exam of the room. The voice finds him easy enough freezing in place. Slowly he hands come up in a gesture of peace and that he is unarmed. Habits from the Noc and Prosperity die hard, but it seems a subtle reassurance maybe.
The circumstances are strange, but the man across the room is not unknown to him. Footsteps carry him no closer for now, but the words carry back quiet, and a bit tired but no less concerned and frankly? Really fucking relieved. "Wanted to look in on you. Never been the first one back before." His jaw tightens unused, but unsurprised to see the other bunched up in a corner, back to the wall. Were there people in this place he could relate to...
Hands turned, palm up asking of him only, "You want me to bring you back some food? Coffee?" The posture relaxes letting his eyes go to the small collection of memories scattered there one more time and then back to, well, his extended brother in circumstance.
The memories aren't the only thing in the room. Continued inspection would reveal a large closet, not customary to a hotel room, filled with clothing that ranges from sports gear to the sort of suit a hit man might wear, to the BDUs acquainted with the military. Utilitarian, functional, not flashy, seems to be the name of the game. Then there's the weapons rack filled with guns, knives -- an entire arsenal of non-functional weapons that do him absolutely no good. There are books, too, on a wide variety of topics.
Connor studies Caleb where he stands and then nods to one of the other chairs in the room, inviting him to sit and not just stand by the door. He's never been the first one back. He's either survived, or died near the end where there were others present, so he nods a bit, but doesn't quite know what that feels like.
"No," he says, "I'm not hungry."
The Rogue gets an eyeful, but the expression on his face doesn't betray his opinion or impressions of the matter. The collection, the weapons all inert in purpose, the clothing not unlike his own given for function over social enjoyment are assessed, added to memory, and tactically moved past. Right now? Right now his focus hones in patiently on what he came to do: look in on, well, family? Yeah, family.
Caleb's posture relaxes and the door is returned to its closed state quietly behind him as a casual pace carries him over, across the room. Hand slides to the back of a chair he lowers himself into giving the decline of offer a nod. Is he judging? Hell yes he's judging. It's what he always does though, assess and circle around the outside to make problems stop, but their situation is one he can't sneak up on and sabotage in to compliance. It just is.
The words, genuine, and with some regret offer what little comfort he has to share, "For all it's worth, I'm glad to see you." He doesn't rush to dump the rest of the information on him but offers, "They broadcast a bit of the predicament on the tele. Garish. Gruesome, but I can tell you you got him out. We, um... We played a gambit and got our guys outta there for... what it's worth." Those sharp blue eyes squint with a faint scoff, "Not much a solace t'go on, I know. It's what we got right now I guess."
There's a long silence as Caleb makes his way over and settles into the chair, Connor's eyes following his progress without comment, his features difficult to read in their set neutrality. Closer, it's easy to see that his eyes are reddened, though dry. He listens to what Caleb has to say, but it's those four words you got him out that cause him to draw in a deep breath and nod, letting it out slowly. "Is he gone, then?" he asks. It's a horribly conflicted and loaded question filled with a hope that perhaps Loner had finally escaped, and a deep gnawing that he did. Then he asks, "Did Matthew make it, too?" There's a bit of conflict there, as well. Part of him deeply hopes that maybe Matthew and Julian escaped together. They'd have been able to look out for each other, at least for however long the time in that place lasted for them. "I'm glad Ethan made it, too." He looks over at Caleb and studies him for a few moments, taking in a deep breath and then letting it out again. He looks a little younger than he did the last time he was in the facility, perhaps, maybe some after-image of the last story, but his British accent is back, and he remains much the same as he always does.
Is he gone then? can mean so very much here, and especially where the man, once Caleb Colton, is concerned. He thinks for a long moment, elbows resting on the arms of the chair and fingers lacing together loosely before, "Matthew survived the beach, mate. Julian, Ethan, Rado, the dogs? With em. They're making it off that bloody fucking island. They're not back in Facility yet." His jaw tightens and his eyes look down betraying things he's not saying, but not necessarily withholding. Taking a deep breath he shakes his head, "Wish I could be there. I am really over watching things happen to your melon, man." There's a dark humor in that some force in the world finds amusing, but it's not Caleb.
The words are dry in his throat trying to consider what to help him out. "Been keeping an eye on the doors. So far nothing's cleared which is... good. Things have shown up but nothing's gone away but one- not Julian's. not... any of ours, so." He takes a deep breath. So there's that.
Still there's compassion, quiet as it is, for the man that keeps fighting and dying beside him; usually to the Rogue's survival. "For what it's worth? I appreciate what you did back there. I'm glad we had you." Eyes, tired watch the minutiae of subtle gestures, the blanket and the posture and the careful, careful choice of words. "How we holdin up, bru?" Still the affectation of 'mate' in his own native jargon.
The Beast nods his head when Caleb says that both Matthew and Julian survived, and that seems to give him some small comfort, such that it is. At least his last memory of Julian's crumpled form didn't mean that he'd died. The news about the doors, that gains a more mixed reaction. There's something sad in the wan smile that he gives Caleb. Part of him is relieved, part of him is disappointed for them. He mulls all of that over, turning it over and over in his head, unable to resolve exactly how to feel about it, and so he diverts his attention for a moment: "Which door?"
He says, "What I did was stupid, and reckless, but I wasn't at my most brilliant or strategic, there." Marc was much more emotion-driven than some of his other incarnations. "But, I'm glad that it helped others survive. That was the point." He smirks slightly and says, "You're the one who got your eyeball scooped out. So I suppose we're nearing even on head-related injuries."
The Rogue snorts at the jibe about his eye. the heel of his palm reaches up to rib at it confessing, "Heh, not wrong. Still running into everything adjusting. oy, we need to lay off the head injuries, ja?" The Rogue takes a slow noted warning a hint of a grin at him, "Ahhh, we weren't at our finest. We were kids, bru! Still, we fought hard, lived well, and got shit done anyways. Its what you and I are built to do: get. shit. done." palms turn up with the small truth, small comfort. "I didn't want to for either, but it beats letting them get hurt." Shaking his head he confesses maybe the Beast isn't so crazy or alone in that, "I can't do it either." looking over his shoulder at the door he looks back offering the quiet fact, "Barrett's door looks different."
The Beast lets his head rest back against the back of the chair and stares up at the ceiling. "Yeah, we do that -- get things done." On that, he can agree. "Even if what we get done is getting ourselves killed." He smirks, just a bit, and then he considers when Rogue mentions whose door is different. "The guy who wanted to measure everything to see if it changed. The guy with the bar with dead bodies in it. Won't be sad to see that one go. He was fucked up, and that from a guy who killed twenty people in an evening."
The Rogue nods slowly pointing his index and little finger to Beast in confirmation, "The very one." eyebrow arches not having heard about the bar. It's not a thrilled look, but it is a look. "Ja ja, but when we take out a room? Is for survival, Not or curiosity. That's craze." His finger taps his temple indicating the assessor that such an act lacks a certain level of groundedness. Still, he doesn't get too wrapped into it. A sigh fills his lungs and he observes, "He's hurting. Julian. Like he had since Gus. I- we apparently haunted him. dunno if it's true or...fabrication but like anything else around here I dunno that past matters much." Leaning forward he falls quiet until Marc looks. The assurance comes back with reverence in his tone, "He had a vision waking up on the floor of the tunnel. It was you to guide him out. That's how he survived the rest."
"He didn't kill them, the bodies. We walked into the room and he was there in a morgue dissecting one, and connected to it was this weird bar, with a trough around the edge where maybe blood could drain. The bar was glass on top and inside there were preserved bodies, all naked and white," Connor says as he recalls his meeting there with Deviant and Bravo. "And I could take all of that weirdness, but the guy was just a prick, and I got tired of listening to him. He was strangely more tolerable at the Lodge." But then, Marc spent almost no time in his presence in the Lodge, so he didn't have much to go on, there.
When the topic switches once more to Julian though, Connor stares at a point on the floor in front of him. "I should have been there with him. Not just as some hallucination or apparition. I should have been there myself, to help him out. My... ghost? did a better job at saving him than I did."
The Rogue shrugs with an expression that might sit 50/50 on if it bothers him or not. "I can't explain him, but he did bring me a pudding." It is what it is. Brow furrows with a murmur, "More than a bit weird though innit?" Maybe it didn't sit altogether indifferently.
Settling in the topic switch the Rogue's jaw tightens, and his perennially affected eye twitches with a slight flinch. "Not alone. I didn't... I did what I had to with the tools we were given at the time. I wanted to stay. I wanted... things to work out for just once in his life and I saw you that day in the office when we fixed the radio. You didn't ask me to call home. I know, for what it was at the time, something you got. I feel it, bru, but we. were. kids. Just some fucked up kids that wanted a lot more than what life could afford to give them and ya know what? What we gave was appreciated. It meant something to them profound enough to keep living. We made that difference, you and I to Julian, to Matt, and Rado and..." His throat tightens, and the words falling very quiet. Just audible he adds, "And... Ethan. That kid was all he had, man. but ... we gave them value and let them know they matter and ... and we gotta be satisfied with that."
It's not clear that Connor agrees with everything that Caleb says, but neither does he argue it. There's no purpose in that. So, while he doesn't nod in agreement, he doesn't express any particular disagreement. Instead, he says, "They lived. That's what matters." The rest? He doesn't elaborate on. He instead rests his head on his knees, closing his eyes.
"What else has changed out there? Anything? We need to keep observing, watching, note how things change. We need to figure out what it means to those who are controlling this place. The only way to figure out how to get out of the cage is to learn the cage's weaknesses, and the handler's." Like they're animals in a zoo, because that is what he feels like.
No argument. No further discussion, but OH Beast hits on that nearest and dearest to his soul and a calm falls on him. Fingers steeple and rest to tap against his chin doing his mental inventory. "What we know is the anywhere rooms now? Apparently populate a facsimile of life-- animals, even people. Makes me..." Oh there's the tight smirk disapproving, "disquieted." To say the least. "Makes me wonder if they're watching, and why wouldn't they be? They know we're unhappy with empty biomes. They made an effort to make the inside feel more like what we imagine the outside to be. Why not convince a mouse the middle of a trap is the exit? It keeps us further from living. Give them what they want so they give up hunting. Miss Addie? Go see her, Caleb." His head shakes with a slow narrowing of his eyes. "Ja no. They want us docile and placated from what I can tell, but it'll strip support from those that want to leave. Keep their livestock calm." He is trying but oh the acrid resentment creeps in easy. Drawing a slow breath he adds, "The tele in the parlor? Shows what's happening encounter-side like some farce of entertainment." Disgusted he adds, "I watched to keep inventory of our people. Make sure someone's waiting for them when they get back. Right now is you, me, and Bas." His head side-nods, "Bella, or Max if you like, too."
"They're learning from us," Connor postulates. "The rooms seem to be getting more sophisticated, perhaps as they learn from us -- perhaps to learn to learn more from us." He finds that interesting, and considers that new development for a bit. "I don't think that the rooms are anywhere near an exit. They're a distraction, or perhaps a greater experiment, but not likely any sort of answer." He nods slightly at the mention of keeping them docile. "It seems pointless as a tactic to keep us docile, since us not being docile thus far doesn't seem to have any effect. We die? We come back. We kill each other? We come back. We destroy anything? It comes back. Why placate a captive when everything they do is futile? They'll eventually wear themselves out."
The Rogue pushes his fingers through his hair and draws a slow, deep breath. "I don't know it does other than maybe it's futile, or believed to be. Champ...well '"Scott's been of the mind maybe it's to make us happy. I still say I feel like a kenneled dog. " His head shakes with a sigh, "Not a fan." A thoughtful pause lets those blue eyes, a pair once more, stare at the joint where wall meets ceiling. He chew on his lip in idle contemplation in a prefect echo of his former Lyle self. "I have... other theories but... they're not exactly a comfort nor popular so... if you want to here my other theories on this existential bullshit? You let me know." For his extended brother? Yeah he'll let him opt in on that one.
The Beast shrugs his shoulders, "It's all just theory. Thus far, we have little concrete to go on but what we've observed here, and even then, given that they can render us unable to remember anything, and pick and choose what parts we do.. I'm not sure we can trust anything that we observe here either. The only way not to go mad is to try to find something to hold onto while trying to make sense of the rest." He nods a bit to Caleb then and says, "I'll listen." He seems willing, anyway.
The Rogue extends a hand in that I know this is about to sound insane, hear me out gesture. Where to begin, "We're questioning our reality here. My bigger question? How do we know if we're even awake? You have no proof I'm any more real than this room, or where we came from. All we know that is real are a- our feelings on things. B- our desire for something real-- really real."Taking a deep breath he wonders out loud, "Hell, bru, I can't prove we're not some program like the things in the NOC. I've even had to wonder to myself did human kind destroy themselves eons ago and we're a simulation like the synthetics being run through stress stress tests to try to understand human nature? I don't... know and some days I've come so close to losing me damn mind and then?" His eyebrows go up and he shrugs, "Champ shoves a churro in my face and says with such delight, "Boet, try this." A sigh falls in his chest and a shrug follows. "We might have to define reality. Maybe there's no out because there's no in and this is all the programming is... or that's what they want me to thing or I'm wrong en-fucking-tirely."
The Beast listens to the entire explanation without interruption, studying Rogue, watching his expressions and his mannerisms as he explains what he believes, or isn't sure he can believe, is their reality, or lack of reality. When he stops, Beast continues to watch him for a moment longer, as though just mulling that over and turning it in his brain. "It's possible. Anything is possible. We don't have enough information to know anythinf for certain." He shakes his head slowly. "Whatever or whoever we are -- I'm going to be who I choose to be here, and observe, and learn, and always look for an opportunity to learn more or get out. But as uncomfortable as the thought is -- the possibility that we're all some sort of artificial intelligence is..." He trails off, then. "It could be."
The Rogue sits back, jaw tight and watching, weighing, and assessing the Beast. The equally objective company not blinded by optimism or pessimism is, frankly, refreshing. His brain continues to work the angles of math on the edges waiting out the moments where hypothesis isn't rejected purely because it's entirely uncomfortable. Quietly he adds with a nod, "I don't... entirely know what real means anymore. I was misled that I thought I knew once, and I sure as shit don't feel better for knowing that it wasn't true. I think..." Brow furrows as Caleb shifts in his chair, the faint sense of wonder and dare to reach for possibilities in this more akin to Lyle's experiences and techniques than other lives. "I think you're right. I want you to be right-- that we can, ya know, decide for ourselves what, and who has meaning. I think if we do that we have to be ready to also forgive their own fluid adaptations to survive this. We? Heh, shite, we're fighters, bru. Some of them? Some of them out there are so tied to the illusion they will come apart to consider this. Chance, Jody, whatever at the very least. Others like Bunny I think need this place to be real even if it isn't. I can't accept that though. Not when they keep taking from me those I care about and believe in."
Looking up the Rogue says as if something or someone is still observing, "I don't want things ya craze' mad bastards. I want the people I care about and to know... myself.Can't fekking do that if we keep changing with no fekking say." A sloooooooow deep breath ills his lungs. "I'll admit, I'm not going to be happy until Ethan's back and... we figure out who we are. That said?" and here is where Beast gets the sympathetic look to beast, "Should hunt down Julian when he gets back. He was bloody well tore up at the end. Confessed to needing his people and though... I know he hates this place more than you and I combined> He can use the support."
"I think we all have to accept that none of us have enough proof to declare any one true answer correct, and so yes, we need to, to some degree, accept what other theories others are going to choose as their reality in order to cope with the uncertainty," Connor says as he settles into the chair cross-legged, folding the blanket over in his lap and folding his arms, leaning forward against his knees. "We also have to be prepared for the possibility that we are someone, out there, somewhere, and that someone and who we have made for ourselves here may be entirely different, may have families and people looking for them. Or maybe are all in prison being experimented on, or... " He shrugs. "The possibilities are endless. What we need, however, is to choose something so that we don't go mad -- and deal with whatever other realities we discover when we discover them."
At the mention of Julian he looks down at the floor in front of him again, and there's emotion that he can't hide. "I've loved him twice now," he says, very quietly, to Rogue. "And he was one of the few people I talked to on the Noc, and in Prosperity, outside of you. I'm not sure what to say to him. He hates it here. He doesn't want to be someone here. He wants to know who he really is. I can't blame him, nor can I ask him for anything. He.. he's not Julian. Just like he isn't Glenn, or Callum, .." He takes a breath, ".. or even Andrew. Yet, when I see him.. I feel something. Should I go hunt him down? Or should I let him be? We promised to try to find each other in this last .. experience.. and we did. I don't think either of us expected what we found there. And now it's over, just like the island. And Matt.." He rubs his face with both hands, "We were brothers in Prosperity... and together at the Lodge.. that's a whole other twist."
The Rogue listens and by the end the savvy thief is just rubbing his temples with a wince, "I know we have a lot in common but I thought it'd end at head trauma." Looking up there's a wrinkled nose murmuring, "Yeaaaah I might know more about Colorado as Lyle than Caleb ever wanted to know in four lifetimes, soooooooooooooo..." He sighs and rests the back of his head on the back of the chair slouching down. "Why I do dumb shit when I am angry? I dunno but ya bear no shame with me, man. I still think what he thinks he needs-- and we're two solidly cagey blokes who should now better --He still needs people there. Maybe we make him run that game of his. Start with familiar but not too much. I mean if you made a promise keep it. It's better than not. I'd like to think he's still our friend in there. For you? More. I find it hard to believe he'd even be able to walk away from that. Feelings are real enough."
The Beast raises a brow slightly at the mention of Colorado and Lyle, but he doesn't seem to judge. It's idle curiosity more than anything else. He does chuckle a little bit about doing dumb shit when he's angry, though. "Mostly I just try to kill things when I'm angry," he observes. Then he shakes his head, "It was Julian that wanted to run that game. There's no saying he'll want to do so in here. If he does.. I'd try it, sure." But he seems to have his doubts about that being the case. "He's my friend," he says. "We agreed early on.. whatever happens in here.. we wanted to be friends. That's not going to change." He glances over toward the door that is closed and says, "Mine are."
The Rogue tilts his head and lets the faintly look of amusement at them creating their own trouble hang in the air there for a moment. "Eeeeh maybe that's why we always got on so well." Snap-pointing to Connor he nods with agreement, tone shifting positive, "You know you mentioned that before. Tried that out actually with Champ, erm, Scott? He'll find a way to notify him. Wanted to actually say thank you for that. He was having trouble trying to understand things as a blank slate as it were. Really a hell of a guy honestly; worth talking to. Good listener, and doesn't blow sunshine up your arse doing so. Got really concerned about these... events we're dragged into so I told him, an agreement then." Taking a deep breath the frown returns with a thoughtful glance to the door and quieter words. "He's having the Caleb Colton lead the people and watch em die because ghosts are asshole time of things out there, isn't he. I need to make sure I make good on that with him, but, really? Thank you. For giving me that tool to help em out with. As for the game? Eh, we'll see."
"I wasn't even sure if it would work. I'm not even sure that it did, or if it was coincidence. The only way to know is to see if it continues to work, from one of these experiences to the next," Connor says. He rubs at his face a bit, dragging fingers through his hair. Finally he peels the blanket off and sets it in the chair, getting up and pacing a bit around the room. At least he's up and mobile again, though now it's more a caged animal, stalking back and forth within the confines of its cage. "Scott seemed like a good guy at the Lodge. Pretty sure I would have liked him if everything hadn't gone to hell and we'd gotten to hang around more."
The Rogue admits, "Eeeh Scott might be the best of us. There is that. Honestly having met him here first? Eh I think you'd quite like him. He's not daft and superficial as some might think. Shoots holes in my plans while providing food and so long as that continues he's welcome to give criticism." Bribery: it goes a long way. "You bring up a fair point though." He doesn't stand and lets Connor have all the damn room he needs. he's spurred the man into action from lethargy. While his role as a catalyst is not complete it is a great start so neither get stuck in the wallow. "Never considered being a criminal again and them maybe experimenting on us. In another sense if...what I learned in space is true? Nothing saying we're even in the same place even if there is another world and we're somehow sleeping and here. Could explain why we're all off continent."
"If you start considering all of the possibilities, and leave room open for anything, you could think on it for days," Connor says. Perhaps he has. Then he slowly comes to a stop and leans up against the wall, hands in the pockets of his jeans, and just studies Rogue. "Next time, let's all three of us try... if he's still up for it... see if we can't will that friendship to stay intact across boundaries. I don't know if it works, but I have no proof so far that it doesn't."