Space wasn't the final frontier, Prosperity was. The ranch and its aftermath stood empty... somewhere, and it's former owner stood just as empty far away from it. If Colorado wanted to locate his once-beleaguered baby brother he wasn't hard to find. The Rogue had wandered into the holodeck which was, today, nothing more than a maintenance platform, not unlike one off the Noc landing bay, surrounded by nothing but open space, swirling nebula in prismatic colours dusting distant stars and halos of light.
On the platform the Rogue sat in his standard fare, clean but serviceable maintenance clothes, with a cooler that seemed to serve the role of 'mini bar'.
The Coward comes wandering in. Himself, he dresses a lot like Colorado in slim bootcut jeans, cowboy boots, and a plain white t-shirt under a sleek brown leather jacket. The view of nothing but the glittering blackness of space gives him pause, some instinct of Bates's returning to warn him that this is bad news. But, no, this is merely a pretty illusion. Insert your own meaning here. So he strolls over to the Rogue and stands nearby, squinting at the stars like Colorado used to squint over a desert horizon.
"Nice night," he suggests.
The Rogue took a drink snad squint a look up and over his shoulder. His demeanor didn't shift to bring his guard up when the Coward walked in. He might be one of very few people that could accomplish that. His head tilted up in a nod and the comment came without accusation in greeting, "Look more or less the way I remember you, boet." Looking up at the infinite starscape he nodded. "I imagine this place was less friendly to you." That South African accent warm, taking its time with all those lovely vowels. He looked quite a bit like the brother Colorado knew even if he sounded completely out of place for the expectation. "You're welcome t'join me.' At least one thing worked out.
The Coward's own accent is exactly the same as Colorado's; a Southwestern drawl, pulling vowels out like taffy. "You sound different," he says, coming over and sitting down. "If I closed my eyes, wouldn't know it was you."
He looks out at the glory of the nebula and sighs. "It wasn't friendly, but I deserved it. Bates was my name, here. He was a piece of work. Backstabber, liar, climbed the corporate ladder by stepping on the heads of everyone around him. You'd have hated him." He pauses. "Caleb would have hated him."
The Rogue grinned faintly with a quiet chortle commenting, "Funny when I close my Ieyes I dunno I'm me either." well his dry wit didn't go anywhere. He offered the bottle on up to Colorado and countered, "Eh, reckon he wouldn't. we've all had to make some tough calls. I think it matters who you're making them for really." He looked up and around as the watercolour patters graced the faroff sky. "Been thinking about that a lot given... what's happened." Looking back to Colorado he said with a frankness, "I an't say I know you, for what it's worth? I know part of you tried very hard when it was hardest so... cheers to that. Some just sit and complain... or wish which might be worse honestly."
"He did try to get Project 937 mothballed. Mostly because it'd look bad on his resume, but somewhat because he was scared shitless of the xenos." The Coward accepts the bottle with a nod of thanks. "Another Company man came and told him that he'd been set up. At that point, he decided to do something right. Seeing as he had nothing left to lose." Not looking over, he nods again, grave. "Appreciate it." He takes a long pull, passes the bottle back. "Didn't meet you, here. What were you doing?"
The Rogue arched an eyebrow. This was all new news to him as he'd never been to the Noc, but followed his directives. He answered, shamelessly, "I was on the Heph destroying half of the only real home I ever had, watched the man that gave me some place better t'be take a spike t' the melon, and then set a course to leave you all abandoned on the Noc and cut our losses." He drank and offered objectively, 'Senni-then overruled Cillian and I. We didn't mutiny."
'Seems to be my lot in life." He mused with a smirk of bitter irony, "Man fails to save family. Loses home. Prosperity wasn't much different, though, we got a chance to save some thanks to your help." He took another drink and shook his head, "Evan still," legs stretched out in front of his as he wearily went through the things just devouring his peace of mind, "died from a head wound, and even though we saved the family? Lost the ranch." His jaw clenched and he said quietly too tired to be furious anymore from the soul of a man defeated with nowhere to go. "Addie's person is gone. She's um... she's not coming back." He looked to the Coward and asked for council, "Boet, you think we're being punished? Like for things we did, so hey keep taking from us as some... sort of attrition?"
The Coward tips his head. "Don't blame you. Honest. The Heph blowing her clamps was the smartest decision anybody could have made. I wanted to vent the Noc when I learned the specimen was loose. I'd read the reports, you see, of prior incidents. My people said no. I listened." He leans back on one hand, body language comfortable, loose--but his blue eyes are shadowed with memory. "Then they blew up the Noc and none of it mattered anymore."
He looks back. Those eyes are keen, but without aggression of any kind. "I don't," he murmurs, like Colorado would murmur to Caleb. "Not in the way you mean. Frankly, 'manito, I think we're being tortured for fun."
The Rogue nodded with no pride, just a grim acceptance, "I keep seeming to make a lot of very smart, very unpopular calls." Eyebrows went up with the faint shrug accepting it was what it was. The Rogue paused looking to Colorado reaching out with his free hand to give his shoulder a squeeze. Even if the tie wasn't genuine, it was familiar and that was a scant comfort any of them had. "You might be right, 'Rado." One more squeeze for solidarity. "They're Dion a damn fine job of it." He paused and set his jaw to the side squinting, "Something not-Glenn said to me is sitting funny."
"Suspect that might be who you are. Who you're assigned to be. The man who sees what everybody else misses. Who finds the cracks in the narrative." The Coward sets his hand on the Rogue's, gripping him back, blue eyes on his face. "The one swimmin' against the tide. I always admired that about you, Cale. All the hell we went through as a family, and you just kept plowing upstream like a salmon. Best I could do was ride your wake." He squeezes the Rogue's hand and lets him go. "What'd he say?"
The Rogue smiled looking down at his beer at the observation that served as compliment. Weirdly it seemed to settle some agitation with everything, subtle difference as it was. "Don't think it's in my nature to accept the options someone else gives me and be satisfied. Maybe it's obstinate nature, or imagination? I dunno. Stick with me man, They can't hold me... won't let em." There was that spark of life with that wink. 'They can choose to make the rules but it's up to us if we choose to follow em." A little bit of smug survived. He wasn't drunk on his own cleverness, but he was still mighty proud of it. Sometimes the reminder needs to be there, but it's something to hold onto. Glenn though... he thought about Loner's words that haunted the corners of his memory. "You know... how everything resets like a bloody program? Every morning. Everything's clean where it was once soiled. Everything's healthy where it was damaged. Everything whole where it was broken?"
The Coward smiles, half to himself, half out at the gorgeous eternal night. "If you'll have me. I think stickin' by you sounds mighty fine. We'll need people like you, if we're gonna solve this puzzle. People who aren't just smart. People who can see beyond the flash and the veil." His Adam's apple bobs as he swallows. "Don't believe that's me. Maybe I serve my own purpose, in some way, but I don't believe that is me."
He nods. "Noticed. Every day, just like the day before, in quite a literal sense. No hangover, no mess. Back to zero. Start again. I noticed."
The Rogue chuckled warming a grin and reaching into teh cooler for what looked to be...well it had bubbles in it. He handed the other to Coward and said, "Well, you my boet; mi hermano in some context. Trut me, with my track record in this...short, trying time? I ain't inclined to throw tha aside." He had to laugh at the dark humor of it. Stupid patterns of failure leaving him with a bitter lonliness. He hated he wasn't the only one. People didn't deserve this.. maybe they did. Hell if he knew but he didn't like it. "You... remember much about the synths from your time on the Noc? Apparently, our friend Once-Glenn was one. It was terrible, granted, but I think valuable."
"Marshal our resources," the Coward murmurs. "What I'm afraid of is splitting up into factions among ourselves. We're artifically split, when we live those lives. Coltons, Munsons, so forth. The worst thing we can do is start drawing lines against each other." He grimaces, sits up to accept the bottle. "Movin' on...oh, yes, I remember the synths. I remember I slept with just about all of 'em at the Eclipse." The Coward flashes a wry grin at the Rogue. "Was a synth brought her owner, the Company man, to tell me I'd been had." He huhs, mouth thinning. "Glenn was a synth?"
The Rogue arched an eyebrow and murmuring something to himself about definitely doing something wrong in these things. Still he nodded though. "So he says. I spent my time working and fighting for like 4-5 hours of sleep between crates or cargo netting." He paused and resolved, "I swear i work far too hard during these things. Anyways, He said something about Pinocchio syndrome. i wasn't familiar so I looked it up. There's this story about a synth that desires to be, in effect, human. To do that it had to go through a series of tribulations before that was possible. Then Dirk last night asked me if I could prove he was real? Eeeh honestly no. So, I've been making a list. I have... I have been having a lot of thoughts since we've confirmed that Addie's, um," His expression flinched taking a pause to not let his emotions spiral out again.
"Gone gone." He might be a minute. Rest of point pending.
Without looking over, the Coward reaches an arm around the Rogue's shoulders. "'m sorry, manito," he murmurs. Nothing more. What else can they say? He drinks from the bottle, but only a sip. "Pinocchio. Yeah, I know the story. Go on. Tell me those thoughts."
The Rogue stayed quiet and just leaned into the solace. Colorado was there for all of it; theoretical past, the vague memory of her shooting at Caleb Colton when he tried to prove the veracity of his intentions to her, and all through her helping him redeem himself. Colorado even took his secrets with him. he sighed and said, "Least she'll never have to know the ugly parts of that truth, hmm?" He took another drink but didn't move away.
"So," he began, " Several schools of thought here. One? We are real people and this really is a shite situation. We don't know when or where we are but someone with too much money and too many bad ideas is very very bored. Two? We aren't real and we keep waking up in the morning because we've been rebooted like Glenn when he was a synth... I have a theory on how to test this but I can't be certain if I actually find evidence to support this that they won't replace truthful data with fabricated results. Tertiary? We're all AI, and this whole place isn't real and they're running stress tests on the system infrastructure. I have many of these options written down up to and including human kind was wiped out and we're just compiled from found evidence to and being run through situations so people can try to understand human nature and maybe if they're worth saving or forgetting... or maybe this is a Pinocchio situation. Maybe Addie discovered something we didn't. Maybe she's free. Maybe she's.. " he didn't finish that sentence. Nope nope nope. He flinched and dve into teh comforts of theory. "Rado, we know if anyone's ever died in this facility and come back perfectly reset?"
The Coward blows out a long hard breath. "Well, now, Cale. Never realized you were capable of that kind of thinking. Foolish of me. Ought to know that the way we are in those lives ain't the way we really are, or not all the time, anyway." He leans into the Rogue, arm warm around his shoulder, the scent of his leather jacket close. "I'm inclined to believe we're synths of some kind ourselves. Option number two. That makes no sense, but no more'n anything else here makes no sense." He chuckles, dry and bitter. "I'd include being AI in that. What's an AI, after all, if not a synth without a body? Sort of like the thought that we're the only remaining representatives of humanity. Then, once the simulation is turned off, nobody needs to be troubled with us again." At the question, though, he shakes his head. "Don't know. Want to experiment? You could kill me. See what happens."
The Rogue murmured arching an eyebrow, "Was the tech for the mining team. Just... kinda comes natural from not...trusting much. Just," He sighed rubbing his face. He had a facsimile of family back. It's one of those things a person rarely fully appreciates until such a simple comfort is taken away again and again. Colorado offered drawing a concerned look from the Rogue who rolled a glance up to him, the faint hint of a grin forming, "I jes fekkin got you back, boet. I really do not want to kill you and find out." he sighed and shook his head pulling a knee up. Overhead was a sky of infinite possibilities. Stars for the Rogue like holes made by theoretical push-pins and a vast conspiracy board. "I dunno why I think like this Rado. I know we're getting played and I don't abide having my strings pulled. I just... try to figure out what I would do and list that as an option of things thrown at us...damn." his nose wrinkled, 'sounds awful put that way doesn't it?"
The Coward smiles a little, glancing back at the Rogue. "Livin' as a ghost, I find, takes the fear of death out of a man. Temporarily, at least." He lifts his eyebrows, slow, calm, as Rado ever was--when he wasn't trembling with fear. "I agree that we're gettin' played. Literally, perhaps. Like a game. Eilis said the other day that we might be like chess pieces, with our...particular roles. Each with our own moves particular to ourselves. A craven," he waves his bottle at himself, "a," he pauses to consider what he might call the man he knew as Caleb. "A rebel, maybe. Bastian an academic, someone who can soak up information, synthesize it." His expression turns sympathetic, but it's quick; he sinks back into wry neutrality. "No, Cale, it don't. It don't sound awful. What's awful is our situation. You're just trying to come to grips with it. We all are."
The Rogue sat in the middle of the holodeck room that had the floor of a spaceport loading dock and nothing but an open canopy of glistening stars everywhere like they were just out in space. The cooler that served as a mini-bar sat next to Rogue who was leaning on the solace of Coward. The conversation seemed to project commiseration and curiosity as they shared their thoughts and watched that sky of infinite possibility. "Eeeh, I dunno if I'm a rebel. Put me in a corner or take what's mine? Well I'll react accordingly." He took a drink with a wry grin that hit his eyes and shook his head, "Tore apart a whole goddamn town t'keep someone from using me t'hurt my family/ I'd do that again in a heartbeat. But these people? Naw. They took Addie and I apart. That... well that I can't forgive."
Does the canopy part strangely as the door opens, a rectangular hole of Facility breaking through the polkadot night? Or is the door already clear on this side, as well? Either way, when it opens, the Bon-Vivant leans through, giving it a curious look, and looking slightly further startled to see occupants. One he's met, one he hasn't.
"Hey," he greets, without walking further in yet, "Am I interrupting, or you mind if I come look at your... space deck?" A vague gesture at the surroundings, a lit cigarette in the moving hand. He seems to be wearing a well-cut velvet jacket in a rich ruby tone over a white t-shirt, jeans, and red-and-white contrast brogues, today.
The Coward mmms, low. He's got an arm around the Rogue's shoulders, a bottle in his other hand. "I like that about you, hermanito. I always knew you were in my corner." He half turns to see who's come in, and looks curiously at the Bon-Vivant. "Naw, c'mon in. Don't believe we've met."
The Rogue lifted his drink and waved- oh shit, the guy offering drinks- in for a drink. 'eeeh ain' like that, chummie." Yup, casual and, slightly inebriated. "Funny enough was thinkin about you earlier t'day. Decided, mate, ya owe to yourself to have a dop and lo, here we are. welcome t'nowhere. Quite literally... geographically, absolutely nowhere. I'd introduce ye both but I dunno what people settle on moment t'moment. This," he gestured to the man he was leaning on, "was my older brother for... a lifetime, but also friend. Colorado." He paused and sat up looking at Coward with a squint, "I dunno how you keep one name but that's sticking as much as Addie's did." Pointing to the cooler he said "Space deck... like that. I dunno it's nice out here. Quiet. ...or was. How're you adjusting, mate?"
The Bon-Vivant comes on in, as invited, giving the pair of them a grin. It's bright, almost out of place among all the trauma being worked through in this Facility, though it seems genuine enough. Still, it dims a level after a "Thanks," and before, "Well enough, I guess. And no, we haven't met yet," that to the Coward, of course, "but I haven't figured out how to introduce myself to people yet, either. I've got the door with the dude with the champagne on it, though. Which, speaking of..." He glances at their drinks, and at the cooler, "Mind?"
"Colorado," he says, looking at the Coward, and grins again. "That's not bad. Nice meetin' you. And yeah... it's nice out here. Is this place just... sitting here waiting for people to hang out on it usually?" A thought occurs to him, and he looks at the Rogue again. "Someone called you Caleb, I know, but I don't actually know if that's what you want people calling you."
"It's a little tough to introduce yourself when you don't have a name," the Coward agrees, smiling in a way that doesn't reach his eyes. He shakes his head at Rogue, amused, saying, "I don't keep it. It just happens." Back to Bon-Vivant, he adds, "I've had the same name a couple times now. Colorado. You're welcome to call me that. A pleasure." He looks up at the stars when Bon-Vivant does. "A few of these rooms, they'll turn to anything you can think of."
The Rogue smiled faintly at the description of the door with a slow nod, "Seems fitting. Not a bad thing. Should jes call you dopper though. It's a, eh, bartender." Looking to Colorado he noted as an aside, "Good company to the grieving and angry tho." Points in Bon's favor as it were. The look of gratitude wasn't lost on the man's shaved mug now that he was jsut away from seas of people. "Really appreciate you asking. It's the most recent but, yeah. You can call me Caleb. There's some thing in that life I don't want to forget." Colorado explained the nature of the room in a nutshell. "With limited frame of reference I honestly fancied space. Looking out there makes me feel like there's something else to reach for. Also? Baah it's jsut fekkin pretty." It sometimes was really that simple. "Was a ship earlier. On water. That was quite different. I knew of them jsut... never seen one up close."
"Anything you can think of?" the Bon-Vivant echoes, brows raising, and he takes another good look around. "'cause I can think of... an awwwful lot of things." Decidedly intrigued by that one. "Though I guess I've never actually seen most of them before..." His brow furrows. "It's weird, knowing about things and not quite knowing how or why. Chance might be right about not thinking about it too much."
A shrug, dismissing it for the moment, and he gives the Rogue another grin. "Caleb it is, then. And I maybe could be a bartender, I guess. I definitely came up with a lot of things to test those dispenser things on from somewhere." Doing great at not thinking about it! He snags a drink out of the cooler, apparently taking things as permission, and moves a bit further toward the edge of the 'deck', to see what happens there, where it meets empty space. "I do need to find a name. There's too many of us here to just call people 'that guy'." He glances over his shoulder at the Coward, asking, "Do you like Colorado? I'll call you something else if you'd rather. And, yeah. It is pretty here. What happens if you walk off it?" Everything is questions.
The Coward slews his eyes away, not wanting to share what's on his door. "Doesn't create people or animals, seems," he says. "Otherwise, yup, just about anything. You can't take anything out with you. Just vanishes." He waggles the bottle back and forth. "I like it as well as anything else, I suppose. Feels more'n a little ridiculous, but it's what I got." The smile he gets is more genuine, at all the questions. "Feel free to try it out," he says, waving the bottle at the endless abyss in front of them. "Maybe I'll just call you Champagne. It's cheerful like. Like you." The smile gets turned on the Rogue. "He is good company, ain't he?"
The Rogue rolled a look to Colorado to confirm, "I wouldn't throw him out for eating crackers in my airlock." He finished his drink and set number three next to the glassy remains of one and two. Someone was working on feeling no pain. "Hmmm could even call em 'Champ' for short. Got a bit of the ring of a winner to it. I could say more on it but... I'll venture t'refrain. I'd tell you how to find me but you already have. Makes it easier. I think I'm going to start hiding things in my room and see if they're found and removed like the fruit."
A thoughtful look at the restriction on living things, and a bit more at things vanishing it you try to take them out, though it turns into a laugh at the suggestion to try it, and the grin remains at the suggested name. Doesn't disappear at the compliments, either, though there's a faint duck of the Bon-Vivant's head. "Well, thanks," he says, and sounds genuinely pleased. "You could call me that for now, if you like. See if it takes. Probably better than Bubbles," which makes the grin spread a little. Though if the Bravo were keeping Bunny, it'd possibly count as a trend. A glance to the Rogue as he takes a sip of his drink, adding, "And I'll keep that in mind next time I dispense myself some crackers."
He sticks a foot over the edge of the deck, just to see whether it really does hit nothing. "For the record, I like you guys too. Can we die in here? I know people said it's not permanent if we die out there, though I figure it probably still isn't much fun, but... definitely on the list of Good Things To Know."
The Coward gives the Rogue quite a curious look when he says that, about the crackers. "Huh," he says, thoughtfully, "and here I was convinced you were tragically straight."
In contrast to the growing collection of empties, his own bottle is only down a notch or so. He raises his eyebrows at 'Champ', still smiling, because the guy is just such a charmer, and dips his head towards the edge. "I offered to test it, but Cale wouldn't let me."
The Rogue took those flint blue eyes and slid them from 'Champ' to Colorado. Apparently C named were in vogue in here. "No, Rado, jsut tragic. There seems to be a definitive difference these days. Still nice to know I'm not the only one wondering about dying in here. I was starting to grow acomplex." There's the bitter humor and the wry grin again.
For the Bon-Vivant's sake he clarified, "Boet I had to watch you turn to a pillar of salt. We're a bit full up on watching you die again and if it sticks? Well them I'm the asshole. no and no." He might have feelings about this. The Rogue pushed himself to his feet. "I might see if there's something sharp though. Be unfortunate but if we nick a shin? Well we might see if we're bone or steel. Either way? Tomorrow it'd be fine. you know... what might be interesting? Seeing if we can make the room just sky. Go sky diving. Let's not worry about the ground. Maybe I've been talking to Dirk a bit much and just want to piss on physics." The grin widened with an amused glance between the both of them. "Thank you for making this place entirely less shitty. From teh bottom of my angry, possibly fabricated heart, thank you.'