The Gambler was out and about again! She didn't have such a terrible case of RBF today. Instead she looked mostly curious and contemplative. She was playing 'Pyramid' with a deck of cards and the radio was playing 'Murder at the Cathedral'. Someone was dead, police were investigating. That's about as much as the Gambler gathered from it. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she was in a pair of sweatpants and a tank top again. This time they were a sky blue color. Hey, comfort was key. Every now and then she would look up and do a little scan of the room, as if trying to spot something, but then would go back to her game.
The Addict comes in from the dispensers with a bowl of strawberry ice cream. They're in pajama bottoms and a camisole, with their hair pulled back in a bun. "Hello," they say when they spy the Gambler. "Lucky, wasn't it? How are you settling in? I'm Briar."
The Martyr follows the addict out, wearing a Shreikback Evolutions Tee and blue plaid pajama bottoms. He's carrying a mug of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and whipped cream. He gives a little wave, "I'm Dare. I remember how hard it was keeping names track when I was new."
The Gambler's gaze didn't rise immediately, focused on the cards in her hand. She seems to find what shes' looking for - taking two cards 'off the board' and setting them to the side. Then she looked up, considering the so called Briar and Dare. Sizing them up, as if deciding how she wanted to approach her greeting. And then finally, "Hello." A ghost of a smile fleeing across her features. "Briar and Dare. We'll see how long it takes me to forget." She carefully sets her cards down. The back of them are glittery gold with a lucky 7 in bold red. "I'm doing okay? I suppose. It's difficult to tell here. In this place. I bet it was a dream, but I think I'd be on the losing end of that bet." She mused. "At least the hot chocolate is good." Nodding towards Martyr's mug.
"Yeah, it's not a dream. Sometimes I wish it was," Briar says. They sit on the couch, cross-legged, and the smile up at Dare. "Have you figured out where you are yet?" they ask Lucky. "Because I still don't know, and I've been through three lifetimes. Every time they end, I wake up here."
The Martyr bends to kiss Briar, then settles in next to them to spoon chocolatey whipped cream into his mouth. "It is very good, yes." He studies the Gambler, "Some people speculate that this is some sort of computer simulation, but I think it would be hard to get this level of realit in one. There are other tech based theories and a few metaphysical ones. I lean towards clones, myself, but I don't think we'll ever really know the answer. I've only been here twice."
"It's hard to say." Lucky decided after a moment. "I'm pretty sure we're all just pawns in some kind of sick, twisted game." As she puts together another pair. "But I wouldn't rule out a simulation or a...other thing." She shrugged. "I don't know. We're here. Once I've been around longer I think I'll have a more solid foundation to theorize." She tilted her head slightly. "Lifetimes seem to be how your categorize things. What are these lifetimes?"
"Without warning," Briar says, "we'll wake up into a lifetime, and we'll be someone with a history, a backstory, a life. It's the only life we'll know. We won't remember this place. We won't remember other lives. We live out a period of time within these lives, and it usually ends in death and horror, or a few months to a year after surviving. Then we wake up here again, and we remember everything."
The Martyr says, “Some of us start here, with personalities and basic life knowledge, but no names and their histories lost. Some, like me, start out there. My first real memory is parking my car outside the Boathouse of the Eager Beaver Lodge when I was a lawyer in 1989.”
Lucky listens, watching them intently. "...Curious. And it sounds like an identity crisis waiting to happen." She looked down at her cards a moment. "Though I suppose, having no idea of ones self is also an identity crisis." She starts to gather up her cards again so she could shuffle the deck back together properly. "I wonder when this next will happen. Does everyone here experience that?" She pondered. "Will there one day be a lifetime where we all remember each other from it after waking here?" Her brow furrowed, looking back down at the cards. "I don't remember anything before waking up here."
"My first memory is coming to Prosperity, Nevada, in 1902," Briar says. "I imagine all of us have some level of identity crisis, some more than others. I'm pretty sanguine about it all." They eat a spoonful of ice cream, then add with a smile, "I'm a junkie, I know all the platitudes about learning to accept the things I can't change."
The Martyr smiles softly, "It often is. Some people have a harder time if... versions of themselves are incompatible, and things can get really complicated over time. What helps me is to figure out what persists inside myself when everything else changes, and hold on to that, sort of like a dancer focusing on one spot when they spin so they don't get confused as to their body's orientation. You may not have a past yet, but you have a personality, an essence." He ruffles Briar's hair, and says lovingly, "But so much more than that one label."
"We will see. I don't like not having all the information. But this is helpful." Lucky agreed as she started dealing out a game of solitaire. "So as you get more lifetimes, you build more of yourself?" A beat of pause. "I wonder if there is ever an end to it? All things have beginnings, shouldn't they have ends too?" Quirking a brow. "I like games. I know that much.I suppose I'll figure out more as time goes on."
The Addict smiles at Dare. "No one's ever just one label," they say. To Lucky, they say, "Every time I come back, there's more of me from my previous life, if that makes sense. When I was Martin, I learned languages and esoterica because he was a scholar. When I was Danny, I learned a lot about Philosphy and drugs. Diamanto taught me a lot about unconditional love, but also anger. I always come back more than what I was before. Not all of it is good."
The Martyr smiles crookedly, "Oh, I'd much rather have all the information, but until more data turns up, I focus on what I can do and the relationships we've built here. The oldest of us have five lives so far. Some people who used to be here aren't anymore. New people periodically turn up here or out there." He watches her over the rim of his mug, "Hold on to that when you come back. A lot of things can change, but a strong characteristic that's really you can be an anchor when everything else is in flux." He kisses Briar's cheek, "I love all of you... And music. Danny had music."
"I will remember that." Lucky offered up a bit more of a smile. "Hang on to a key thing...and try to focus on the things you learn....that make me...me." She agreed. "I am curious how it will turn out. Is there...a certain length of time. Between stories? I know time is hard to tell here but...an estimate?" Raising a brow.
"That's right, there's music," Briar says. They eat more ice cream in contentment. "It varies, but it's no longer than, say, thirty cycles. At least not in my experience. I've already lost count, so thirty is just me taking a stab in the dark. It's not very long. Not long enough to fall into any kind of routine."
The Martyr says, “Last time the radio replaced the TV a bit before we went. Odds are we'll have a clue time is nearly up when the radio changes. unless they are sending us back there, of course. This last one felt unfinished and we didn't get souvenirs. This is sort of a recuperation period, I think."”
Lucky looks curious at that. "Thirty cycles. Sounds like a good estimate. But, what do you mean unfinished? How did it feel unfinished?" Making mental notes as she listened to them and played her game of solitaire. "I like the radio, though the audio dramas are a but much at times." A glance over towards said radio where 'Murder at the Cathedral' was still playing. Though nearing an ending point.
"We were in the middle of trying to fix a problem. There's a problem in every lifetime, a life or death problem. Every other lifetime, the problem has run its course until solved. That didn't happen this last time. We just woke up, with no resolution, no death. We just woke up."
The Martyr says quietly, "Usually a lot of people die and there is... a confrontation. At Beaver Lake we saved the world. At Prosperity they defeated Demons. The best guess is something went wrong and we were pulled out early."
New Activity ---------
Her brow furrows at this news. "If the simulation-esque theory is true then that would make sense. That something went wrong." Thinking on this for a moment. "It sounds...intriguing. Scary. Thrilling though." As they described the other lifetimes. "No rhyme or reason to the theme? No continuity?" She seems to have lost her solitaire game. Sighing as she gathers the cards all up once more. "Perhaps I will do some reading soon. And try to speak with others." Standing up. "For now, I think my room is calling."
The Addict tells Lucky, "Take care. It'll make more sense after our next life, whatever it ends up being. They're not even giving us a hint, this time." Then the cuddle up at Dare's side. "I'm glad I lived a life before I ended up here. It would've otherwise just been soon confusing. So much more confusing than it already is, I mean."
The Martyr waves to Lucky, then curls an arm around the Addict. "I'm glad too. It was an adjustment, but at least I woke up to a familiar face and had people I knew and loved around me."
"I wonder sometimes if whoever in charge of this experiment is losing their hold on it," Briar admits. "To wake up with no conclusion, no hint for our next life. I wonder if something else pulled us out this time, and the experimenters weren't ready. Which raises the question: who disrupted their work?"
The Martyr looks at them a little wide eyed, "That's a good question. I've heard the theory floated that they gave us too much power, but I wasn't particular strong compared to me just generally. I mean, i would have been harder to kill physically, but just growing plants isn't exactly superman, you know? So what if we didn't disrupt it? What if it was someone or something else."
"I was dangerous," Briar says. "I don't think that you ever saw me lose my human form and become the monster, but I was like a rabid beast someone strapped knives to. I could walk through fire. I could feed us wherever we found liquid, it didn't even have to be clean water. You could have kept us fed indefinitely. And there were others far more warlike than us. Imagine what Sekhmet could have done if she really felt like ruining someone's day."
The Martyr buries his nose in their neck, "I... saw you with the Squirrel. I sort of passed out when you went after that man, but i think I got at least some of the idea."
"That was me tame, love," Briar says. They lean their head against Dare's, and they set the ice cream bowl aside so they can slip their arms around the man. "I had fangs and claws in my wildest form. I was... efficient. It's something we can't know, I guess. That's the frustrating thing. We can't know. There's not enough data."
The Martyr strokes their hair, not at all repulsed. "You were beautiful and perfect and exactly right. I knew what Sekmet could do. I watched Oh and Seb hunt with her. I... really liked it. I mean, I could watch any of them eat except Oh, but there was something beautiful abut beings that wild and free that... excited me. It's not who I am now, exactly. I don't think I'd react the way I did as Osiris, I'm too human now, but I can imagine seeing you like that would change how I feel about you." He kisses the mouth he once saw smeared with blood. "I wish we had more data constantly."
The Addict returns the kiss, lingering over it. They cup Dare's cheek. "I try not to worry about it," they say, "because I know I'd obsess, and nothing good would come of it. So I just try to live in the moment and hope it makes sense some day. I admire the people looking for solutions. I wish them luck."
The Martyr's chocolate kissed lips sucks gently at Briar's lower lip. "I think you are wise. I'm willing to talk about it, but I refuse to obsess. I really am happy here with you." he holds them close for a bit, "Do you still make music?"
The Addict nods and says, "Oh, sure. I write down ideas for songs, and sometimes I play the piano. Sometimes I go into the Anywhere Room and play guitar. It's nice, you can imagine the best guitar with the sweetest tone. I sing a lot just wandering around doing this or that. The music helps soothe me."
The Martyr stroke their face, "I'd like to listen to you sing and play. You were so good when you were Danny, but I'd like to... listen to you. As you are now."
"I'll play for you," Briar's quick to say. "Whenever you like. I'd like a guitar, though I don't know how to get hold of one without borrowing it. I don't think the dispensers will give me one. Still, it wouldn't be as nice as the ones in the Anywhere Rooms." They kiss Dare again.
The Martyr says, “We could go to the anywhere room now, if you like? We could sit in the park up the hill above the University and you could play the best guitar ever made.”
"We could," Briar says. "If you want. I didn't have anything planned for today except eating some ice cream and hanging out with whoever I found here in the parlor." They glance at the piano. "You should hear Arthur play sometime," they say in a low tone. "He's amazing."
The Martyr nods, "I'd very much like to. I only had one real conversation with him and that was when he was a kelpie, but I did here him play violin at your wedding. I keep hoping I'd get to meet him here, but he remains elusive.
"He likes his solitude," Briar says, glancing toward the hall of rooms. "He creates the most beautiful things, I don't really feel like I have the right to intrude, though I do bring him coffee some mornings. His paintings are exquisite. Even as a kelpie, he was utterly captivating."
The Martyr nods, still impressed, "That he was. I'd have let him eat me if he wanted to, I think."
"I know, right?" Briar says. "I don't begrudge him his solitude. I can only imagine being that alluring. I'd hide, too." They're in pajama bottoms and a camisole and have just polished off a bowl of strawberry ice cream. Now they're cuddled up to Dare on the couch. They're both still dressed, even! "Some night, though, he should really come out and play for us. When he wants, of course."
The Martyr is in his old Shreikback evolutions shirt, stretched rather tighter than it ever was when he was Finn, and blue plaid pajama bottoms. "I'd really like that. You should have seen him flirt with the Ouroboras. They hit it off, but i don't kow if it went anywhere. I do hope I'll get to hear him play here and to meet him properly."
"Hey" greets Star as she bounces into the parlor; she wears black leggings and a colorful gym style crop top that shows off the abs she's been working on. She's been doing yoga again. Though by the sheen of perspiration on her skin, she may have been doing weights also. "How are you both? Anyone want a drink?"
The Addict looks up and smiles warmly. "Hey," they say. "I'm good, thank you." Then they look to Dare to see if he wants something. It's brief before she asks Star, "How are you doing? I saw Nettie the other day." Their brow furrows with worry. "Thank you for checking on her."
The Martyr grins at The Competitor, "Star! I'm good too." Then he glances at The Addict and sober, "Yes. Thank you."
"I love her" Star shrugs about Penitent. "Of course I will check up on her" she smiles, though there is some sadness in her eyes. "She really took the Carnival hard. She...killed children. It's still heavy on her mind and I don't know what to do about it. Though I will keep on trying to make her happy. Making her see the difference between this life and those roles. If she doesn't find that separation...I worry what she will do."
The Addict nods to Star soberly. "It's a lot to live with," they say. "I have the luxury of having only killed 'bad' people. Not kids. I can't imagine." They purse their lips in worry. "We should all be doing something. I don't want to intrude on her, but I want her to know we care about her. That she's more than that one lifetime. I mean, we didn't know, you know? We were all creatures of our nature."
The Martyr nods, "I wish... I wish she were more willing to be... consoled. I think her nature makes it harder for her to let people help her. I wish I knew how to help her, to mke the burden a little lighter."
"She has to accept that she's not that person. We haven't //done// anything that happens in our roles. None of it is real. Anyone we kill didn't ever exist outside of the experiment." Star is sticking to this idea of hers. "Now she thinks she really is the Weeping Woman since it is on her door. But the picture on her door has nothing to do with children, it's about a town burning down." A nod to Martyr. "She's stubborn...but it's also one of the reasons I love her. I see you two got straight back into the flow of things" she smiles wickedly.
"Has she told you much about Prosperity?" Briar asks Star. They then smile and take Dare's hand in their own. "There's been some negotiation. I mean I was married for two years to someone I still adore, but we've worked something out."
The Martyr says, “It might help to have one of the older ones talk to her. She might take it better from one of them... You were referencing Vie the other day, but I don't know that story." He smiles crookedly and gives Briar a gentle squeeze, "We fit, I think. Loving other people doesn't change loving each other."”
"She took me to Prosperity" Star nods to Briar. "It's where she is happiest...and also not a lesbian." A little smirk at that. "Maybe that says something?" Star plops herself down on a seat. "Things that are worthwhile are never easy" she teases. "Vie?"
The Addict says wryly, "That would figure. Anyway, Vie was one of the demons we fought. Those demons demanded the sacrifice from every family of two children of every generation. The demon for my family was Baras. I believe her family's demon was Vie. Every year, two souls lost from each family to keep the survivors rich and well-fed. She says she's no different from Vie. I disagree. But what matters is how she sees herself."
The Martyr says, “She mentioned her orientation switching around." His smile is a tad self mocking, "She really must have thought me a child flipping out like i did my first night here." He sighs, "I don't think it's reasonable to blame any of us for things like that. They were decisions made without us."”
"Nettie is no demon" Star says with some certainty. "Even those demons don't really exist. It's a role you played. We're at the whim of an unknown force and to think that anything we do actually happened is a mistake. My opinion only. I don't think she thinks ill of anyone, Dare...except herself. If she had to hate me to love herself, I'd happily go with that."
The Addict says with utter certainly, "Nettie's nothing like Vie. I saw my share of them both. And I agree, they're roles we're made to play, and this most recent one was the worst kick in the ass because we were turned into non-human things whose nature was alien and... and... you just can't compare humanity to gods and say it's all equal."
The Martyr nods agreement, "And it's a particularly cruel thing to do to the ones with little or no experience of being human in the first place and those who were given the least human roles whatever their previous experience of self."
"Being a goddess was fun but no way do I think that was me" Star nods before grinning, "I'm much more than that. Though the non-touching..." She glares up at the ceiling. "Never again. Got me? Though I had lovely support to get through it." A soft smile for Dare. "Nettie thinks we've finished. That the Carnival was the real us and we're done."
"Dia was nothing like me," Briar says. "In fact, I've brought back stuff that was her that hadn't been me before. Like I never had a temper. Now I can feel it under my skin, though it's just a shadow of how she felt. But those creatures weren't us." They shake their head adamantly. "Not even close."
The Martyr blushes a bit and looks away, "I... don't feel very different than I did when I was a God. Osiris feels like me and I still feel like him. Mostly. A few obvious things not, but... I really could have been Osiris he suited me so well." He looks up quickly at Nikki, "I still worry that I... harmed you." Seeing her look though he softens, "I wanted so much to make you happy. I keep wishing I were a better man for you." He shakes his head, "I don't think it was, that it could have been, especially since we got pulled out so abruptly before we did what we had a chance to do."
"You didn't hurt me, Dare. I promise. Quite the opposite." Star winks over at him before nodding to them both. "For me, they are all roles we play. And like any method actor, we take things from those roles. Skills. Attitudes. Even memories. But they are not us and they are things we can drop anytime we wish. The guy who was Freddy Kreuger didn't really kill kids but those memories were there because he played that role. What we are here is real. How much you want to bring back from your role is up to you." A pause. "Here endeth the lesson."
The Addict says, "I don't know what I think. I think the trauma is real, and the traumatized need to be treated with care, but what if none of this is real? What if we're in a coma somewhere in a hospital having a shared hallucination? That theory makes as much sense as any other. But its affect on us is real enough we should... I don't know. Be kind to Nettie for awhile is what I'm trying to say."
The Martyr perks up and the wink and gives her a blushing smile. he half closes his eyes, mostly looking inward, "I can see how far from Finn I am, but I never feel far from Osiris. I can feel all the Gods and the man folded together and compressed like a foldeed steel sword. I can feel the calm and the sense of...of time and size and endurance through change after change. It's me now, more than my skin and bones. I really worry that for Nettie it's like that only in a bad way." He squeezes the Addict gently, "The trauma is definitely real, just like the love. That I believe whatever else is true."
"I'd like to think I would never be anything but kind to Nettie" Star smiles, thinking of her love for a moment. "As a general psychological principle, you are affected only if you wish to be. We may not be able to control our thoughts but we can control our actions. And actions are easier to change than thoughts. There are times when I feel guilty about how easily I can shrug all this off. But if I can help others... I'd like Nettie to think of a name for herself when here. That will help her make the separation. She clings to those other lives and it is hurting her."
The Addict nods to Star agreeably. "You're a good match. And, yeah, I see what you're saying. These lives are hurting her. I just wish we could all have a happy one, where she could get some respite, but that doesn't seem to be the way it goes."
The Martyr says, “I think this is all the respite we get. I am really glad she has you star.”
"Thanks. I hope she feels the same way" Star smiles, "Though, I mean, how could she not? I'm awesome." It's all very self-deprecating though rather than flat out ego. "I should probably leave you two to have some alone time. It sucks how they move us back into our own rooms every night."
The Addict grins broadly. "You're right. You're awesome, and I know she cares about you." They sigh softly and adds, "Yeah, waking up alone doesn't get any easier. Helps that my bed is super comfortable, though. It'd be nice not to be alone in it." They look to Dare. "I'm thinking of that bubble bath we were going to have."
The Martyr agrees enthusiastically, "You are definitely awesome." He nods, "I really does. I like waking where I went to sleep." He returns Briar's look, "I will rub your feet if you like."
Bubble baths and foot rubs? Star best get out of here before she gets too envious. "See you both later." A hug and a kiss on the cheek will be offered to both of them before a little wave goodbye. "Try not to use all the hot water" she teases before she is off.
The Addict returns the hug and cheek kiss as they get up. "Take care, Star. Give Nettie my love." Then they take Dare's hand and says, "You had me at foot rubs. Let's go."
The Martyr returns her hug and kiss in an appropriately brotherly fashion. "I wish you both all joy and luck, Star." Then he's grinning at Briar and eagerly off to their room with them.