Log:The Heart's Filthy Lesson
Out they come, into the Twin Star Observatory. It was where Creepshow had been thinking about as she opened the door because it was the most impressive 'space' view on the station, and impressive it is. The binary stars of the system are stunning, as is the gas giant below that the station circles in low orbit, constantly feeding on it. There's no way to tell if it's day or night, but it's not terribly busy at the moment with only a dozen or so patrons.
Creepshow? Looks VERY different now. She's Ramona, and she's possibly the most breathtaking thing on display. Synthetics are perfect. TOO perfect. She's exactly five feet tall, and wearing a Little Black Dress that covers everything essential but leaves little to the imagination. Her hair is a shiny black wedge cut sharp, the bangs equally sharp. Her build is slight but perfectly proportionate, every plane and curve flawless. Inhumanly flawless.
"This was the best view on the Noc," says Ramona, her voice a bit darker and honeyed, soft like velvet. "So I thought we'd start here."
The Scholar follows Creepshow, eyes roving around them as they go, taking in everything they can. It's one thing to have Bastian's memories of science fiction films; it's another to be walking in what those movies had been attempting to emulate. He doesn't lag, keeping pace with Creepshow easily. "Incredible," he says under his breath. In the back of his mind is the quiet realization that this could mean whatever their prison is, it might be the product of a humanity which has evolved far beyond even this. He decides to ignore that uncomfortable notion for now.
Though he hasn't been lagging behind, he has been paying more attention to the scenery than to Creepshow, so when she speaks and he faces her, he stops and stares, blinking. Her dress makes him acutely aware that he's dressed unlike anyone else in the bar, and the fact that she looks so different is a bit of a shock. From Max to Creepshow was a modest step. From Creepshow to Ramona is a huge leap.
"Ah," he says, trying to come up with something, anything else and failing.
Ramona is like a silverscreen starlet come to life. She pulls a silver cigarette case from her little clutch, plucking a clove from within along with a lighter. She lights up, holding it in a very precise, practiced way.
"This is strange," she notes. "How it all just came flooding back."
He watches her, curious at how her inhumanness is evident not by flaws, but an utter lack of them. It's not at all what he would have expected. "Is it like you're there," he glances overhead at the view, "well, here, again? Inside as well as out?" He's thinking, of course, of himself, and Oregon. If he walked into one of these rooms and it was the Lodge, would he be Bastian again?
Ramona tilts her head, gaze shifting slightly to the side - he might not understand, but she's processing the data. She's a synthetic again. "Yes, it is. I'm her again. Perhaps because I came here wanting to introduce you to her, it gave me what I wanted. That is what these rooms do, is it not?"
Yeah. NOT Max. Not Creepshow as he's seen her. She lifts her chin and meets his gaze again. "I didn't come here very often. I don't think the view impressed me like it does humans. Does it impress you?"
The Scholar takes that all in with a nod. He looks a little sad, maybe concerned even. She asks about the view, and it distracts him from whatever thoughts were starting to rattle around in his head. He looks up, out, and around them. "Yes, it's...amazing. Breath-taking, that humanity can build something like this." Can they, though? Or is this just a more advanced type of movie? Something else to ponder. For now he's content to assume it's 'real', or as real as anything they experience is. His gaze travels around them, returns to Ramona. "You said this life was relatively happy for you, compared to some of the others."
A small, single bob of her head. "Yes," she says as she moves closer to him, her movements pure sex and perfection. "Ramona was my happiest. She only existed for a little over two years - activated, anyway. Her initial owner deactivated her every time he killed her, and only reactivated her when it was time for another scenario. Years went by, but she was barely 'alive' for more than a few days of it. After his death, she was bought by Venus, the proprietor of Total Eclipse, and given freedom. Venus treated her synthetics like real people, paid us, allowed us time off. Most of us had no idea what to do with it, money and free time. It took some adjusting for Ramona when she got here, as she'd only ever known one person and was never activated for more than a few hours at a time."
The Scholar watches Ramona draw closer, eyes flicking over her in an obvious appraisal of her. "I take it Venus was the exception, then," he says. His hand twitches as he just barely stops himself from reaching out to touch her. "I'm glad it wasn't as bad as it could have been." Because oh, based on just the few things she's told him, it could have been bad. Real bad. "Did you find things you liked to do with your free time?"
"Venus was... like a mother to Ramona. We were her children. She asked us our opinions and valued them. Most humans feared or even hated us, and even those who were attracted to us and hired us often treated us as 'less than'. Venus never did."
Ramona stops right in front of him, one small, elegant hand lifting to his chest and shoulder. "I did. I liked walks. As I'd always been deactivated when not in use before coming here, I found it fascinating to simply explore the station and think. To be alone with my thoughts. I'd look for broken bit of machinery, dead batteries, things like that, and take them to my friend, Kylie. You knew her as Nettie, or Emily. She was Kylie here. She liked to tinker, so I brought her things."
Reaching up to put one hand on Ramona's is almost automatic; it's the same kind of gesture he'd make with Max or Creepshow. This occurs to him a moment later, but he keeps his hand where it is. There's a boundary here, or at least he perceives one, and finding it is a delicate balancing act. "You never had a chance to experience a planet, then," he says. "Just," his attention drifts around, back to her, "all of this." A lift of his eyebrows for the mention of Nettie. "Was she a synthetic as well?"
"I think I was on a planet with my initial owner," says Ramona, somehow making everything she says sound like whispered erotic poetry. "But I never left the room. I was deactivated until I was bought by Venus and reactivated here. So no. I guess not. Only that room and this station."
She shakes her head at the last question. "Human. She was my first real human friend that didn't work in Total Eclipse. She ran the mining docks. Initially I brought her dead insects, but she didn't like them. I still operated under a very skewed view of what people liked and wanted. When I saw her tinkering, it occured to me that I could bring her dead mechanical things, and she actually liked fixing them."
"That's a shame. It seems like you'd have gotten quite a bit out of time spent exploring a planet." The Scholar takes a steadying breath; it's impossible, with a glass of good bourbon in him and Ramona looking (and sounding) like she does to not be effected by it. He coughs a quiet laugh about the dead insects. "If she's not an entomologist, no, I guess she wouldn't be. Were there really that many of them around here, to be bringing her those?" Now he's wondering about space station pests. Are they mundane pests? Special, uniquely horrible space pests?
"Insects are adaptable," says Ramona. "And resilient. Even in space." The more you know!
"This was early in my time here, before the story started. Ramona had very abnormal ideas about death, love, affection... She gradually outgrew most of them to varying degrees, but never completely. But she was happy. Cheerful. Innocent, even, as odd as that sounds."
She looks around, then back at the door only they can see. "We can go if you like. I wanted to show you Ramona, and I have."
Insects in space. Now there's a thought. The Scholar tilts his head. "Odd, but I think it makes a certian amount of sense. As horrible as her previous, owner, treated her, she was sheltered in some ways."
His gaze moves to the door as well. "Alright." He takes her hand and kisses the knuckles, light and brief. "Thank you for introducing me to her. For feeling like you could do so."
Another bob of her head. "It's a part of me," she says. "And as horrible as her early experiences are from an outside perspective, she thought it was affection. Love. She liked everyone and wanted everyone to like her. In a way, she's me with all the edges and defenses stripped away. Who I really am. Max, Bella... They were buried under layers of armor and walls. You helped Max let some of hers down and saw that Ramona part of her. I wanted you to meet her."
She holds his hand and turns for the door, leading him back to the Facility.
The Scholar reaches up with his other hand, fingers stopping just short of her cheek. "I'm glad I could do that for her. For you." He lets that hand drop, but keeps hold of hers with the other one. With a last look over his shoulder for the binary stars, he follows her to the door.