Log:Welcome to Bizarro Land
Awaking in darkness after having just blown your mutating brains out...it's a bit jarring, even for someone like the Stoic Max. There was a lot of disorientation, wide-eyed exploration of this strange place, the finding of clothing and dressing. Simple white tanktop and a charcoal jumpsuit that she leaves stripped to the waist, arms tied off around narrow waist. Eventually, steeling herself, she goes for the door, grim-faced and hesitant, but bravely facing it no matter what. Into the hall, the patterns on the doors furrowing her golden brows to watch over, but her own memorized before she started down the hall. Honestly, Ian probably had time to get here, and long since get to the dining room (and its flowing alcohol) before her. But that's where she'll eventually end up, moving with stealthy determination rather than hesitation. Checking corners, and trying to find answers.
This is #2 for Ian? Martin? So on one hand, he knows the drill by now. On the other hand, he wins the dubious honor of being the first person to have to contend with having two full sets of memories in his head at once. It's a puzzler. An annoyed shout from his room echoes into the long, nondescript hallway of the many bedrooms. "Aw, bloody hell, really? This nonsense again?" Maybe it's audible in some of the other rooms. Maybe he's screaming into the void.
But! Martin-Ian (Martian?) knows the drill. And once past the initial frustration of the apparent groundhog's day scenario, his mind does in fact go somewhere rather predictable. So by the time Max has explored her room, wandered the hall, and found her way to the dining hall, he's had time to throw on his trusty bathrobe, grab a book, head to the dispensery, and re-emerge with a rather overfull glass of scotch. He's got his day planned, by the look of it!
But the man stops short when he spots a fellow... resident? Prisoner? "Aha! Well that figures, doesn't it? Did you get lost? You should have gotten here first, it seems like, although I guess it was only a couple of minutes, might not have made much difference. You uh, you new? There's uh, there's dispensers over there. You can get food, something to drink, whatever you like. They're pretty well-stocked."
It's not that often that Max ever looked stunned speechless. At best, she'd look surprised or off-put, but she'd always regain equilibrium quickly. The site of Ian though (in a bathrobe?!) looking so non-chalant about all this and talking about food...Well, the poor golden-haired woman is just left gaping like a fish, lips starting to open, then closing, then starting to open again.
It'll give Ian ample time to look her over, of a slightly different look than her 30-something station-pale complexion with cropped hair. Instead she looks a kind of ageless late twenties to beautifully maintained early 40s that's hard to pin down, her silken golden hair at a length she never let it grow out to on the station, shoulder-length perhaps, though pulled back into a messy clasp, so hard to identify just how long. She's got a healthier glow to skin as if from a little sun, and she's in some ways more beautiful for the lack of giant chip on her shoulder about her looks the past incarnation had, or the softening effect of being so stunned.
Even watching her though, he can see her rebuilding herself, her mental walls settling back into place, the demeanor settling towards a full-lipped frown, gold brows knitting into furrow. "What. in the _actual_. Fuck. is going on here, Ian? Where are we?"
"You're looking good, Max, I- Ah, right, well answers? Harder. Last I heard, there were about four or five competing theories. Everything from hell or purgatory, to a virtual reality simulation. You know I didn't think much about that one the first time, but now it makes sense." He went from snarky music critic to *certified genius rocket scientist*, so the technological has gained a certain appeal. Still, the man is nonchalant about things, sure, but not precisely chipper. Quietly resigned might better describe it, and perhaps just a little depressed (and already on his way to self-medicating!).
"But right, uh, probably starting from the beginning's easiest, since you're new. You sure you don't want to grab a bite first, something to drink? I find it helps." His drink is held up and clink-sloshed around, but beyond that, he shrugs and goes to find a seat. She can go and grab something, and he waits, or if she stays, he continues on immediately. "So, basically, last time around... I was someone else. We were all on some tropical island. The one thing that was the same that it went totally tits-up, with monsters eating people. It was... uh, cannibals and undead and the military planning to nuke us, but really, broad strokes? Same thing. I guess except this time I'm the one trying to nuke us, hah. Imagine that."
With a shake of his head, and a sturdy drink, he continues. "So right. Bunch of people died, and ended up... here. I, bunch of others, we actually made it off the island but... still ended up here. And now it really is groundhog's day. Go to sleep, wake up in that room again, everything reset. Over and and over. Until there's a countdown and then... well shit. Then we go to the next one."
Blink. Blink blink. Deeeep furrow brow glare. She takes in that first talk of hell, purgatory, or virtual realties not so well it seems. But after watching him a little longer like that, at the clinking of glass, she sighs, turns the direction he'd earlier indicated, and starts off that way with a hip-swaying stalk of a furious panther.
She'll be back after the time it takes her to figure out the system and get what she went for. A big triple helping of straight-up scotch that may already have had a bit topped off from it, given the steadying of frazzled nerves when she returns. She'll move to sit across from him, one leg curled up underneath her, scotch glass resting on knee with manicured fingers draped around the glass, nail tapping it in idle show of affected state that never crosses her face.
She listens through it all, sipping at her her drink in healthy doses and sighing to the burn of the fine liquor seemingly, not to what is actually said. There's a long pause after though, that sharp look he knew of her in this last incarnation so well when they'd have deep talks of SCIENCE(tm). A fine mind working a problem, laying out the parameters, and trying to assess solutions. "And you knew nothing of this...this island life in the years I've known you?"
A pause then, a musing, disturbed sort of hmmm sound escaping lips. "Was it years? It feels...odd. Like the memories are...just kind of there but not there. Information without context, except the recent crazy shit the last few weeks. Is any of it real before that? Did it all make it up for us?"
In all the time he's known her (in this life) he's never seen her ramble this much. She's usually so laconic and controlled. "I mean...ten minutes ago, I could have swore I remembered getting drunk that one christmas party and..." A glance to the man, not quite embarrassed, but just letting it fade off at that awkwardly. "Now though? It just feels like something someone read to me once, not something I did. I damn well remember the feeling of pulling that trigger and the flash of pain though!" A shudder runs the full length of her and she's going for the glass again, drinking down a good third of it in one go.
"No, well, I don't think so? Already we're at the point where we can't really trust our own perceptions or memories, right?" Former-Ian is going to make a brainfuck of this from the getgo, extra thanks to this exceptionally more brainy version of himself.
Rather than focusing on that, he lets her talk a little, and very soon is nodding along knowingly, agreeably, as she describes her own memories, incomplete as they are. "It's suspicious, isn't it? I know I working on the station, same routine like every season, pretty much business as usual right up until the reactor incident. But it's kind of vague before that. Sure, I can tell you where I went to school, about how Penumbra hired me or any of that but it's, it's not really there, you know? The part that's vivid is the part where everything went to hell." Seeing that she's got a drink, he makes a toasting motion in the air before having his next sip.
"And that itself is awful suspicious. Because it's structured. It's purposeful. It's consistent."
"That 'island life'? Well it's the same thing. I could tell you I showed up there to report on a concert, some godawful bollocks with a bunch of entitled hipster shits and-" And here, he catches himself, because he's decidedly NOT Ian any more. He's Martin, at least as he thinks back on it and speaks. Realizing as much, he laughs. "I was really a bit of a cunt, seems like." British swears included. "Point is, it's the same. I think back past my flight, and it's just a bullet list. My job. My education. My friends. Names and details but... they're just that. Like I was reading off a resume of my own life."
Going on, the man's tone turns mildly ominous. "But things here are even stranger. When I say it 'resets' every morning, I mean that rather literally. There was a girl who ki- Bloody hell that was Ramona. I was-" Welcome to awkward!
She's nodding in agreement to the first and about his vague memories. The toast of the drink gets a wry, faint twist of smirk to the lips, but she returns it with a little upraised brow, letting him go on without interrupting while she sip hers down to almost nothing. There's a look given during his slipping into other character and talking of that. One part amused to hear him talk like that, one part disturbed for that concept of what identity means in that sense.
She's finishing off the last of her drink with a sigh before he's reached the end, starting to roll forward gracefully off the couch, tank-top not doing a whole lot to make it less distracting a motion. She apparently holds her liquor better here than she did in previous life given how steady she still is. But as she takes her feet and was gesturing towards his glass in offer of getting a refill to go with hers, his last words and sudden awkwardness paused her and left her canting head to one side, strands of golden hair falling from bangs to be batted away irritably and tucked behind ear. "Ramona what? How the hell does that work? They have synths here too, not just people?" It's almost like that just blew up one of her theories somehow.
"Ramona- well that wasn't her name, uh, but when she was in here, after she was on the island, she was very strange. A bit disturbing. And there were rumors, that to figure out the rules... well, a few people got together to test it. With a suicide, or a murder. And it didn't take." Pointedly, he repeats: "Things reset in the morning. But on the Noc, you know, Ramona was one- she worked for Venus? And she and I-" While Ian's actual intellectualism may be an upgrade on Martin's pretense of the same, his latter self is if anything all the more awkward, and thinking about his experiences in that regard... well, it's just a little embarassing, by his expression. And maybe it doesn't help to have a distracting sight in front of him at the same time as he's trying to sort out the combind memories of his time with the plucky sexbot.
He drinks, finishes what he has, holds up the glass as she offers to get another round, while musing on the quest.
Synths, no, I don't think so. Well? No, no. Everyone seemed human enough, as much as that's obvious at first, or without testing. The technology here could be better, couldn't it? Improved to the degree you couldn't tell. But I suppose they did try and test it..." Already he's uncertain. "Or it could just as well be that none of us are exactly real. This could be simulated. We could be asleep, the thoughts being projected. Or maybe we're some... artificial intelligence like the synths, but bodiless, each of us stewing in some subjective reality." So, back to brainfuck territory? "Definitely more drinks."
"Well, you're still the cheery Eeyore, whoever the fuck you are." Max/Stoic quips drily as she's swaying out again at more languid pace than her earlier stalking. After a moment, she comes back, the two glasses held in upraised palm, fingers balancing them, while the other hand holds a little bowl of ice cream with caramel sauce and sprinkles. "If I'm AI, then fuck it. I'm gonna be an AI with ice cream and liquor!" She murmurs as she's passing him his drink back and moving to bonelessly fold back onto the couch with a little bounce. "Were you...you in both places? I mean...you look like you now, but...I'm different." She bats at the longish golden hair again. "I haven't worn it this long...well, ever apparently, since those memories are all bullshit. Also, I...feel different. I move a little different, look a little different. Hell, you should _see_ the tattoo..." A glance to him, a twist of the lips back towards smirk. "Well...maybe not. You still seem to be as adorkably embarassable as before. But...physically I mean, are you different here than there?"
"That's the spirit." While the Fatalist has no defense for the apt obvservation that he is not precisely the cheerful one of the bunch, he seems perfectly proud of Max's immediate embrace of the nihilstic freedom of Facility life. And icecream and booze is definitely that. "No hangovers either," he points out. "I near drank myself to death a few times. Maybe more than near, for all I know. But just like everything, you wake up feeling fresh and new." A slight frown. "It applies to a lot of things, pretty much everything out here too. By the end of our last stay people were ready to set the place on fire. I think maybe they even did before I showed up? But it doesn't matter. It all comes back good as new."
Her followup question perplexes the man at first. "Me, me? Well, isn't that the question? Whether I'm the last me, or the one before that or-" A cough, as he inhales a little of his drink. "Oh you mean, physically? I think I lose the lottery on that one. But you're right, it's not purely mental. Venus, you know, she actually looked older on the Noc, than in here. And you know it's strange, I got here 'late' that time, what with getting off the island and all, but her, she came in even after that. And it didn't seem like she had any kind of memory at all."
Digging into her ice cream with a kind of determination to enjoy it and the mix with the rich scotch she's starting to feel, Max takes in his words a touch pensively. There's a bit of a laugh escaping at talk of the losing the lottery though. She's never laughed much before, always more serious. Maybe its the liquor. Either way, by the end of the rest of the words, she's looking more worried again, the golden-browed furrow going to wear a line in her smooth forehead. "How...long were you here for? I mean...I haven't found a clock yet. Or windows. Exits. Any of that. Which I guess fits with the hell/limbo/virtual construct theory whichever it is. But how do you know when the next day is? Everything just snaps back with the 'reset' magically in front of you?
The Fatalist is content with his drink, although her enthusiasm for one of the one (few?) particular pleasures of this place draws a hint of a smile. For his part, he keeps up drinking. "Oh... I don't know, a couple of weeks maybe, I don't feel like it was all that long. But the survivors, we did get in late." At this, he can't help but glance off toward the entrance from the lounge and dorms beyond, as if expecting someone else to show up. In his mind, that place is going to be a slaughter. "Near the end, there was a TV in the lounge with a countdown. We weren't too clear what it meant then, but it's pretty obvious now." The last, at least, has a very clear answer: "You go to sleep, and you wake up. The timing's very regular, controlled."
A twist of lips to that last, a stubborn sort of set to expression. "No cheating it? Loading up on coffee before? Staying up to meet santa and his elves and kick them in the nuts?" She practically already knows the answer, the grim acceptance of this insanity settling in, but her sharp mind still trying to break the problem down.
The shake of Ian's head that answers things is probably predictable. He wouldn't call attention to it like that, if there was some easy loophole or exception. "No, no special exceptions for Santa or whatever else. And it's everyone, best as I can tell. Well, I guess maybe I can't tell. I've seen people laying around, napping on their own, I suppose? It's not like there's much to do here, aside from drink, read, or I guess maybe they've got some games on the shelves. But I've never seen anyone stay up late, or seen someone pass out in front of me. It hits that hour and we're all just," he snaps his fingers. "And then it's up and at'em in the morning. At least you wake up feeling pretty refreshed, and the rooms are nice."
"I mean, I guess it was alright. Not sure how I feel about the waking up naked in the dark, but whatever." She muses to the talk of rooms, a tiny bit of slur setting in. With a bit of a disgusted sigh, she moves to set the bowl of mostly finished ice cream aside with a clatter of spoon, offering up in the closest thing to actual complaint he's ever heard from her before. A weary, but oh so wry and sardonic. "Well...this is well and truly fucked up, isn'tit Eeyore?"
"I guess they're all a little different. I've only seen a few, but they were nice. Maybe-" Well, the once-Ian lets that one drop. There are greater mysteries to ponder here, than how they're all assigned their living accomodations. "It's probably worst the first time," he admits, reflecting on the trauma of her arrival, and not without empathy. Rather than uncaring, he just seems a bit worn out by all of this. A sentiment that seems to be in the majority. "Well and truly fucked up," he agrees, without complaint for the nickname. "Still, I have to admit, being on the other side of it... that I'm curious now. About what's happening. Did you see what I did before we- before we came back?" Easier to say than 'got our brains blown out to save us from turning into tentacle monsters.' "I rigged the reactor to blow, Riordan can set it or if things go wrong, it should go automatic. Is it weird that I'm kind of rooting for that sucker to blow and everyone to show up all at once? It'd feel macabre, or selfish, if I didn't know it wasn't real."
She gave a simple shake of head to the seeing things after, a hand absently reaching up to rub under her chin, as if checking for a bullethole there. As he goes on to explain it though, her eyes actually go a little wide in surprise, perhaps even a gleam of admiration there. And as to the end, a wry sort of twinkle of twisted mirth to it. "Eh, I get the sentiment I suppose, given what you said. But...I'm not eager for the timer to start and to get kicked off into next fucked up fantasy world just yet. I want time to try and study it." A hand moves up to her hair, unclipping it so golden silk falls down around the fingers digging back through it in a stressful sort of gesture to match the sigh and distant-eyed gaze.
Determination sets in then. A titanium resolve that shows in the pretty gray-blue pools shifting to focus on him with a degree of intensity that's possibly unnerving. "Way I figure it. If this is hell, then I want to find the devil and kick him in the dick. If this is limbo, I want to flip off whoever is judging me. And if this is code, which feels right somehow, I want to hack it. All code can be broken eventually. You just have to find the right triggers of 1's and 0's to make it hiccup, and they you abuse those hiccups to do what you want. If it means we're AIs that are part of that code and I kill us all with it, so fucking be it. Better that than being paper dolls for some fucked up storytelling."
"Right? I was impressed with myself too." All told, neither version of the Fatalist has been what you would call humble. But on the same note, her appreciation for his work does seem to bolster him a little from his general malaise of disinterest. "But I suppose you're right, that if it's really getting everyone in here to finish the scenario, that maybe I shouldn't be hoping for too quick an end, especially not if we want to learn anything. Not that everyone trying the first time around amounted to much." And yet here, especially as she starts to vent and rant about breaking this little reality of theirs, he does dawn on something: "You know I hadn't exactly thought about it at first but, I don't just remember what I did. I remember how I did it. Hell, I remember everything like that from the first time around too, even if it's all just... obscure music trivia." He shakes his head. Focus. "What I mean is- that's something isn't it, that we're coming in with new knowledge and keeping the old? Martin could barely keep up with the goddamn teenagers and their bloody phones, and now I understand the mechanics behind nuclear fusion. It's definitely... a bigger toolset, than we had the first time around." And then a real revelation: "Imagine the synths."
"I'd rather not. Too many bad sexual encounters." Max/Stoic quips a little drunkenly dismissive as she's rising up in another of those cleavage-heaving displays, swaying fractionally before steadying. "I mean, I get what you're saying. And if so, even better. Blood or binary, they'll be handy tryin' to think this through." She's moving past him, a hand laying on his shoulder briefly, a flash of actual smile down to him, albeit lopsided and little sloppy. "Not that you an' I were exactly slouches in th' mental department though. Who knows, maybe we'll find th' secrets of the universe before any of th' others end up here!" The warm hand pats gently as she's swaying past. "We got this, Eeyore. Fuck whoever's behind it!" And with that, she's heading towards the dispensary again before pausing almost immediately to explain. "I'm gonna get another drink, then go pokin' about." A pause, a sway, another of those lopsided, but charming, grins and she's casting a wink his way. "'m glad you're here, Ian. Someone I c'n actually talk to." And with that, she's turning and heading off. And if he should follow her with his eyes, he'll probably catch sight of golden and black ink rising out from the tanktop in shape of some sort of claw reaching out for her shoulder. The tattoo she'd mentioned? That's not all that risque, what's the big deal?
That is maybe a little bit too much on the nose, as even if Ian's thoughts weren't going there this time, welp... now they are! "Yeah, right. That's uh, that's going to be something." Awkwardly, he reaches a hand up to run through short-cropped hair that doesn't quite hide the receding hairline. Seriously, the guy did not get the good end of the bargain on this multiple-yous routine. He got '30 looking 40' for all eternity. His eyes follow her up, and around as much as he can, before he just kind of settles back with what remains of his drink, the second not bombed away quite so rapidly as the first. "No, not slouches. But I'm not a computer expert, so maybe that'll help, if we're looking to hack our way out of reality. Not uh..." He waves around with his non-drink hand. "That you'll find a lot of places to plug in. Well. We'll sort out something." Optimism isn't his thing, so its more a promise of effort, than of success.
The woman's announced plans don't budge him from the seat. "Yeah, have a look," he in fact, suggests. "You know, settle in, get comfortable. One thing we don't have to worry about is cleaning up after ourselves." He makes no move to follow, infinitely unworried for what kind of trouble she can get herself into. Because, unfortunately, he knows the extent of it. There's nothing she can do. She could go up to the dispenser and literally drown herself with hard liquor, and it would all be the same come morning. "I'll be here a while, till I pass out one way or the other, probably."