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Verse

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #30 on: September 15, 2013, 03:38:15 pm »
She offered him to call her 'whatever the fuck he wanted'. Lemonade with vodka, on the porch of a withered house out where the dirt could get to the engine of his bike. He put that hope out against some sturdy memory that could take it. Wakeboarding with Tommy and kicking his ass in the aerials. Good enough.

"You're not Jane, though." he said, trace of mourning - of himself, not her - thumbing his self inflict. What a rewarding, smarting throb that induced. He let himself mos0ey in the smolder of his mood at his slip. Jane doesn't have scars from life and now actual battle scars. Jane doesn't have that much cool to draw from. Jane is just staring up, always starting up, because that's the memory. A character. A symbol. A totem he danced around for some rain when his mind was parched from too much Complex and too much Retrieving. Not Jane, though. Not Jane Doe. Now there was something you could live after, in here.

"You're Channing." Not sorrow full. Just a truth. When he lifted his thumb the blood was extra red, flattened and thin. And dry. Success, Dokktor. It could have looked like a hiccup, his amusement at her nostalgic tongue. Even her voice had changed around the words, since then. Girls did hit some kind of puberty too. It was just hard to pick up on their voices. All his theories, and he hadn't thought of that. Guess there would be a lot of surprises that weren't really surprises if he kept hanging around. Or if by some wonder she did, given her ballistic existence here so far.

She did not agree that she should avoid messing with them, or at least she felt she shouldn't have to. Blue eyes looked up at her though his upper lashes. So much life in her when she was angry, leaned in. Did she have this much passion for other things in her life too? What did Dallas get to see when they talked about subjects that enlivened her? He hadn't had much hope the warning would hit home. Maybe she hadn't had enough incentive to listen yet. Just a flood with blood in the water is just one sign, after all. What were the chances of the next tests being Locust and plague? He wasn't being as mature about this as he'd planned.

BOA didn't believe in respect. If he told them what she said he would probably not be reprimanded. BOA thought themselves a force of nature. You can't insult the ocean, you can't rile the sun. Get one of them alone, that was another story. He'd be under supervision though, even be deemed unfit to be a Retriever. After all, where did he get off saying all that, if it wasn't true. And if he believed it, then his future obedience would be in question. People had wondered if Retrievers could be prisoners. Not so. Their memories weren't worth the digital inc in the boxes, even if he'd like to think they'd keep him around, when he couldn't supply them with more banks of memories. Their lack of smellable memories was partially why they had basically limitless spending accounts.

He stood. What she said deserved some kind of reaction, even if he couldn't very well be encouraging. He liked the way she spoke of her work. Pride, and an apt likeness of the situation. Impressive, story monger. And then some challenge, shouted out into the air, or a promise, maybe. Sometimes it was good to know the antagonist could always hear what you said. Makes insults easier, if they don't put themselves in the position to retort. He wondered if this was how the truly religious felt, trapped by the vastness of their lord. He could have been pious too, under such scrutiny, if the source didn't have such real faces.

He realized now they were not on the same page. Arms crossed he lulled this over. It was completely possible he had known from the first moment, only pushed that truth away to hope for something more reasonable. The room was still vivid with her taunt. Some of the things she'd said were still darting off the walls and colliding with his face. Big brother wouldn't answer in words. He felt a little lackluster at the tail of her bravado. She even sat like a rebel. Angel scratched the back of his hair and found that it was drying nicely.

He leaned on the table and reached for the treat with the ember on one end. He was sure she could spare a puff or two. If she let him have it, he'd take it quickly and hold it between his lips, mimicking her way of doing so to the best of his ability. It would take her maybe a handful of seconds before she realized he was not a smoker or, rather, that he wasn't smoking now. Somewhere around then he'd explode into motion, still submerged in his silence, and target the arm of the injured shoulder. There'd be a struggle. She would be fighting him and all his training, in addition to her own surprise. He welcomed anything she could invent, but usually, hurt and sitting was a hard vantage to fight from. With her elevated on the table, he didn't even have to bend down to try and subdue her.

He turned her on her back, keep her in place by her crossed forearms over her head, pressed against the table. Hellish pain surely, despite the close to magic adhesive he'd shut her wound with and the healing elixir on the magnetic metal extractor. He counted on it, would probably enjoy the entire ordeal. If all this worked for him, and he had a good number of things on his side that said it would, he'd say "How are you going to save anyone if you want to save yourself?" Angel both hated and loved that he'd leave one hand on the cross of her arms, and sit the ball of his other palm down on her newly shut wound. Pressure, pressure. He'd let her go when he'd made sure the pain had spread to all the possible nerves. let her go with a snarl, that is.

"Just be less fucking reckless, Woman." he muttered around her cigarette. He'd offer it back then, if she'd have it.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 03:38:50 pm by Verse »

paris

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2013, 03:39:24 pm »
She was down. Shoulder an explosion of pressure and pain. Extending downward to arm, chest, back. Lactic acid buildup already at attention from the exertion of swimming she had not done in so long. From holding up a man to save him from drowning which she had never done. All of the fight immediately went out of her, yielding only to blinding pain, to exhaustion. Physical, emotional.

Flat on the table and intensely vulnerable. Vaguely she thought that this was the final conclusion. You can only get away with saying whatever the hell you wanted for a short amount of time—had she not learned that? Through a firing and a few other sad ends to jobs in her short lifetime, lessons she had been able to successfully apply and grow from, the only way she had gotten to where she was. She had been backsliding.

For every reminder to herself to hold her tongue, she had yet again failed and her life would be forfeit. Her mental Rolodex where she filed away every careless mistake to recall in moments most necessary, the neat organization was littered with corners of post-it notes each with the same scrawl: learn to shut the hell up.

Searing white before her eyes though they weren’t closed. Nothing but pain and weakness. She would soon pass out or die.

And he released her, a brief snarl to remind her that Angels sometimes made appearances as Rottweilers. Channing tried to catch her breath.

“Just be less fucking reckless, Woman.”

He offered her back the cigarette as she slowly sat up, white spots still clouding her vision, her mind screaming with suffering. She declined to accept. She pulled her box and all its negative clicks from the back pocket of her still damp jeans and cast it aside on the table. Where to go from here, in this blank and basic prison cell. Channing realized she still had yet to accept that this was her life, even with the insistence that she was going to sell her name. If she couldn’t remember her own name, how did she expect to survive in the outside world, should she ever get there? Being returned to that life was her goal, selling her memory of her own name would destroy that, would it not?

She felt a sudden and deep loathing for her confused attempts to figure out what any memory was worth or how it would impact her own memory of other memories—give up your name, and if you recall a certain other memory that specifically involves your name, perhaps someone calling you by that name, if you give yourself a new one, does it just paste over all the old memories? She gave up Channing and decided on Sarah or Louise, would she wonder why in an old memory someone called her Channing, or would she hear only Louise?

The thought of someone calling her name, Channing, Channing, brought back a memory she decided she’d be happy to sell: her neighbor Nigel’s dog, which he’d named Harry Connick Jr., running out into the road to chase something neither of them had seen and being exploded by a racing ambulance right before their eyes. It had seemed like something impossible, but she wouldn’t mind forgetting the twisted corpse and the bent jaw and Nigel saying “Channing, Channing” over and over by the mangled body of his beloved dog. With a grudge against her every movement, she reached for the box and under her own free will accepted the Novocaine injection into her brain.

She wanted to be surprised at the ease with which she executed this action, in spite of having just been threatened and further wounded by her so-called Handler. Shock will do that to you, she reasoned.

Verse

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2013, 03:41:02 pm »
He was relieved at getting away without limbs missing. He'd wondered how long she would keep it up for. Going through a watery apocalypse and being shot after having woken up in what was the most pimped out prison ever - for crimes she'd never committed - on just a bagel and nicotine could only hold for so long. They needed this too. The most successful of prisoners were not hissing warriors or bawling waifs, they were something in between, dancers on the spectra rather than either end on it. No doubt Channing would be eaten by these white walls if she carried on full steam like this.

Two fingers were stretched out, char rising in its pretties form from them. Bang bang? She declined the loot he'd taken so he returned it to his own lips. It was a little like a kiss, wasn't it, though with a wider vocabulary than most. 'No. You keep it.' wasn't exactly something you could voice with liplock. The box rolled like some tossed, indecisive body when she sent it onto the table. Will it go over the edge? But it didn't. It felt strange to watch her as she was sitting, all of her displayed on such a small surface. Like a play. Some aggravation at the box, then, but not enough to throw it against the wall.

What was that thought that sobered her and made her tired at the same time? Regret maybe. How should he know, all he could do was offer her her poisons. Jack this, du Maurier that. Coffee at the Bar, bagel on the house. A world of things on her face that none of the petty things on the menu could help her with. Gravity of The Complex. He recognized it, saw it often. Sometimes when Eva checked the price for fresh corn, sometimes when Patric wanted to go on a vacation somewhere tropical.

Retrieval of the box. You might not always like your car, but it gets you places. It's not the car's fault the road is full of jagged ends and holes. He wondered what she was selling when she looked at it like that. Channing wasn't much regretting selling that tidbit in her history, just the fact that she was selling it at all, or so he guessed. The fall of a parched snaked woke him from the impulse to pat her on her shoulder. The ash pillar fell to pieces on his hand, giving enough heat to imitate that of a light burn without leaving the physiological response on the skin of one.

He was still holding her cigarette, her kiss, between his words. He took the sad ember and drew something on the table. There was just enough black for the 'V'. His old name. Ancient, dotted with that red burn before it left this world. Hah. He found himself denting the flesh on his leg against the table in the pursuit to get closer to her. Comfort. That impulse was ancient too. With her hair like that, and her wealth of scars, honest and unapologetic. The ball of his palm still tingled from having hurt her, like it could feel the impulses that shot out under it when it controlled the pain. He felt sorrowful and invigorated at the same time.

"Good for you." he said and tapped his eyebrow twice. "What did you sell?" and how much did you get for it? He supposed in the real world it would have been rude to talk about currency so blatantly, but here it was less so. It wasn't far from her to tell him to fuck off and mind his own business. That's why the question was put at the tail of his first instead of spoken outright. Suddenly something occurred to him. The room was well tempered. That much they got for free when weather wasn't part of their tests. Still, his wet clothes had drawn goosebumps on his skin. "You're cold, right?"

He didn't wait for an answer. Her bedroom blanket around her shoulders. Careful. His hand tingled with excitement again. He was about to say something before his nose sharpened and his eyes fled toward the door. One knock, followed by deeper violence against the stoic barrier. Usually they'd be able to open it, but he had some say over this, her being his ward. "It's the in-crowd." Relay to the membrane of his cornea. "Ah. There's a pissed off redhead jabbing her heel into the door. You know her?" he smirked. Didn't stay amused for long. "Pack's with her." He slid onto her space. Sturdy table, this. The knocks became harder. "What do you want to do, Hero?" He wanted to bump his shoulder onto hers for initiative, but he'd had that fun for today.

Irna raised the frequency before she sighed and leaned against the door. "Give me my fucking gun back, Angel!" Simon nudged her from behind, and when she turned the handle of his colt stared her in the face. She sighed and shoved the hand and it's ceramic, fully loaded gift away. "It's the principal. I don't want to shoot her anymore. I already got her." The last few words were shouted at an alarming volume, for the cowering two to hear. A few more raps from her boots onto the door. The Complex was dry now. The filters had even cleaned the excessive moist from the air.

He liked Irna angry. He liked all the shit he started. "They can't get in. And from the looks of it VINE, the os of The Complex, is recognizing my authority over theirs, so they won't be able to for a while either." Angel leaned back, laid down, hand under his head to look at her ceiling. "They might be persistent. Retrievers are patient things. We're supposed to do at least six month of studying before bringing new prisoners in." He laughed and rolled his feet. "'sides, there's a party tonight I want to go to." He arched his back and drew out the empty gun, dropped it in her lap. Here's free will, Human, and an apple.

paris

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2013, 03:42:26 pm »
She said, “I remember that my friend Nigel had a dog named Harry Connick Jr. But I don’t remember whatever happened to that old dog. I know he had it for a few years, got it as a puppy.” She made a dismissive hand gesture, “Anyway, something about that dog.”

Channing looked at her little box. -194,000. So, that one was 1,000. A little better than the smoking-related thing she recalled giving up earlier, but not much. She might have been right earlier when she was considering the fact that the value of the memory to Them was conjoined with the value of the memory to oneself. You can’t cheat. She had to swallow her pride and give Them what They wanted.

“why are they doing this?”
“it’s what they do.”


Exactly. It’s what They do. She understood, however strongly she willed herself not to. She would have to accept that there would be no explanation until she earned it or beat it out of them in whatever way it was she managed to do so.

She allowed him to place the blanket over her shoulders, unable to feel anything at all; hot or cold, pain or calm. She let the numbness pervade her, whether it was a side-effect of the recently abandoned memory, quite a bit stronger than the last memory, or a simple side-effect of a feeling she hated more than any.

Defeat.

However temporary.

Her head shot up at the rapping at her door, not quite understanding. Who? Why? Angel answered for her, sat beside her.

“What do you want to do, Hero?”

The white-hot anger overcame her again, swift. With a vengeance. The fact that people existed in this place whose sole desire was to make life a living hell for those whose lives couldn’t already get much closer to it absolutely infuriated her. She was not sorry for her earlier actions; in fact, the ire of the little group of pissants on the other side of her door further solidified that what she had done had been right.

“Let me guess,” She said, “These little pussies were bullied and ignored in their regular lives, and now that they get the chance, they get a hard-on for bullying others. Power went straight up their assholes and into their heads, yeah?”

“I don’t want to shoot her anymore, I already got her.” Through the door. Deliberate.

Channing laughed humorlessly. “Sad little shit.”

Angel told her they would be persistent. And as little as she wanted to hand back over the weapon, as little as she relished the idea of any of those pathetic fucks getting anything they wanted, when it would be surely as easy for them to simply buy a bigger, better gun, she took the empty gun and moved over to the table.

Channing paid her clicks to open the door and immediately tossed the gun to the floor. “Seeing as you can’t throw your weight around without it, here. Have it back. And congratulations, you’re just as dull as every other Hollywood badguy whose too much of a pussy to shoot to kill when they have the chance, who thinks, “yeah, I’ll just have a little fun and play around, first.” I’ll remind you what happens to every villain who does that, though. You don’t give your victim a chance to live. I assure you, you will regret it. Next time, you’d better not miss.”

And she willed the door to slam, and it slammed. Good. And if they wanted to waste their time standing out there all day, fine. Like she’d told them, they’d better not miss next time.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #34 on: September 15, 2013, 03:43:45 pm »
He liked dogs. They had good memory. He liked elephants for the same myth. Angel thought that he could beat this, if he were to find himself here, but then why was everything in his head so precious to him now? Mom and her dreams of being a singer, dad and all the nothing that he was. Grandma's scent on the old dress, moth eaten and white. Maybe because of the freedom he enjoyed so close to The Complex, he would become all the more undone if by some reason BOA decided Retriever memories were currency as well. Yes, in both worlds, memories decided the person you were.

Further more, he knew what she was talking about. She'd shared it with him. He had told her she was a superhero in the making for that trauma. This had been a long time after, of course. Fucked up, really, the way she described it. And it hadn't even been her pet. Would that have been better? Or would he still have tried to cheer her up in the West Pennsylvanian sun, with some cherry coke around some cheap rum? What kind of a person was he to remember this fondly? It all lead back to the same premise. He liked dogs.

Angel sat up when her face took on its favorite guise. Anger, which meant life. It was good for her, but he would miss the somber girl a little. In a few months, would he take advantage if he saw her again? Ah, the moral trials in this universe inside a universe. He had to keep himself from laughing in delight when she got up. He did feel like an instigator, and followed her all the way to the door, gleeful and dry enough that the water against his skin through his clothes was warm. "Sad little shit!" he shouted and laughed again. Her hyena. Really it was all to

see that face when Channing opened.

Irna was naturally pretty. That red hair, the energy curling around her. Her face seemed to take in Channing's state first; the undress, the blanket. The gun made not so delicate sounds against the recently cleaned floor. Amazing, how everything was back to its original state. Even the pipes against the ceiling had been replaced with equally rusted ones. He'd seen it before, and it still left him in awe. The speed of it, and the relentless perfection. All a backdrop to the blood draining off Irna's porcelain, freckled face, only to return and more at the speech of his ward. The door closed as the agent threw herself toward them. Banging on the door again.

He couldn't help but laugh loudly. It had been a bad idea, but not even Angel could underline that properly after her little outburst. "Ah. I knew I could leave it to you to be charming." More laughter and the shaking of his head. "Maybe that was the best way to go about it." It was hard to know with Irna. She was crazier than he could describe, as if the intensity with which she was hammering herself against the door wasn't painting enough of a picture. He looked his ward over and nodded, approving, to the rhythm of the ruckus. His upper back to the door. "You realize I'll be stuck here until she gets tired or falls asleep now." he muttered with humor.

"Motherfucker!" She yelled at the door before abandoning her attempt at breaking the secure barrier with her fists and boots to pick up her gun. Tommy and Simon were suddenly very verbal about her not firing. She secured the magazine with a click and drew the slide. She did not let free a bullet on the door, instead she sat there against it, weapon in her hand resting against her elevated knee. She was panting like an animal. "You think he's your best buddy, don't you, you little rat!" She yelled it outward, at the pack, but they'd be able to hear inside too. "We're hand-picked because we're heartless." Delight in that last adjective, pride. "That's right, bitch. We were resurrected. BOA brought us back from the dead so we could make your lives hell." Pitch in her voice. Her restrain was breaking. Simon got stomped in his shin when he tried to calm her down. "Why don't you ask him why he's on your side? His last ward didn't make it long."

"Shut the fuck up, Irna." Bang from the other side. The redhead laughed, dropping the gun to her other hand, lifting it up to rest on the other knee.

"Oh? I didn't know you cared so much, Mr Cool."

He shook his head and rolled his eyes. Dismissive, but it wasn't completely nonchalant. He knew that. "What say you and I go to the your kitchen, eh? This dog has rabies." he said with a self awarding chuckle as he passed Channing and grabbed the hand of her injured shoulder without thinking, trying to pull her along. "I actually think I saw some whiskey in the fridge." Of course you did. You made sure it was there. They say getting drunk didn't help. He knew at least fifty people in this moment with as many shot livers that would disagree. In the case of being any kind of substance abuser, The Complex was paradise. Not like they cherished their memories anyway.

She laughed and stood up, gun put away. She had found another weapon. "Let's be friends, Channing Jane Majors. What sign are you? What's your favorite color?" She banged her knuckles, gut punch to the door. The lone sound would have time to echo. More menacing. "Who was your fucking high-school sweetheart?" A scar there, of course, in her otherwise perfect film of memories. That was what yesterday had been all about. Tommy took her arm. When she jerked the giant wouldn't let go. Some kind of Neanderthal bro code. She let herself be pulled off the door and even waked backward with the pack.

Angel had let go of her hand by then. Back in her direction, part way to the kitchen. Never made it to that bottle anyway. Like it could work its magic so quickly. "Shouldn't listen to her. She's completely off her rockers." Chin up to the side, eyes forward and down. Redheads are always trouble.

paris

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2013, 03:44:39 pm »
The redhead, who Angel had called Irna, Channing thought might have been pretty had she not been disfigured with the ugliness of senseless anger and hatred. She didn’t pretend to know why or what had created such a willfully evil person—Retrievers seemed to have top billing in The Complex when it came to status. Of course, anyone with the freedom to leave—though on assignment only—Channing thought had it pretty good. That, and not having to pay for anything.

Mechanically she moved toward the fridge, knowing that whiskey was a sore idea considering her state of injury and dehydration, in spite of the fact that the fresh wound appeared to have begun the healing process at lightning speed. But as she expected, it was the only thing in there. One of the many small gifts Angel had left with likely hopes of making this transition somehow more comfortable.

“I am seeing the differences,” She said, the return of her professional tone surprising her, “Between Retrievers.”

She chose one of the lame particleboard cabinets at random, and there were two short glasses in one, because of course there were. There was, of course, ice in the small freezer. These things could all be improved with time. But how much time, really? How long did this BOA let you go before they ripped you away from what you’d built (in here, tragically) once again to reveal what and why you were torn away from your original life in the first place? How did Patric’s apartment look? What had he given up to get it that way?

She poured about an ounce and a half in each glass over the ice. Barely enough for a buzz, but enough for a pleasant feeling.

Irna’s harsh but intentional words on her mind. “It would appear that you and she are opposite extremes. At most, the Retriever goes after the person selected for them. Maybe you all get some information on them. Maybe you’re instructed to watch them awhile. Learn their routines. Learn their habits. See where they go, what they do. Watch and learn the best moment to kidnap and imprison.”

She sipped. The wood burn familiar. The taste brought back whiskey, sweat, cologne, passion.

Channing spoke in the tone she reserved for the rare conversations with hopeful authors who she felt had potential, but who needed to know where they were wrong and what they needed to do to gain her approval. An authoritative tone laced with healthy condescension. Make them realize there were some hard choices to make. Which chapters lovingly crafted would be shred to ribbons to reach a specified page count. Which of their favorite scenes—though, really, every scene was a fucking favorite, in spite of the fact that they often detracted from the work as a whole—would have to be left behind should she agree to take it to print. So few new authors were ever prepared to be told that the work they had finally “finished” was actually light years away from completion.

“Then your minimum responsibility is to explain that they are here—but not why—and explain what they have to do. Maybe wait around a few minutes to watch them panic. Then abandon. It’s obvious to me that the hand you’ve extended to make this process easier—and with all due respect, precious little could make this process easier—is atypical of Retrievers’ regular duties.”

She hadn’t necessarily needed Irna to tell her that. Angel was outnumbered 3-to-1 of the 4 Retrievers with whom she had now come into contact as far as which ones seemed to stay involved in some of their new wards’ lives. It burned Irna, bothered her to her core, that any Retriever should stray from the expectation or example she was setting. Nobody likes a lone wolf. Particularly when the lone wolf makes them look terrible.

She supposed that was something Angel and she now had in common in The Complex. He was behaving out of the ordinary by maintaining such contact with her. She was behaving out of the ordinary by refusing to let the shock and horror of this place overwhelm her.

Yet. The ever-constant warning was that there was plenty more where any of this came from. Only Retrievers knew what to expect, and even then—surely they were tested. Maybe without really knowing. Maybe Channing herself was a test for Angel, for whatever reason.

“There is no obligation to keep your wards alive,” She reasoned aloud, “Which still skirts the question as to why bring them here in the first place?”

It was twice now that it had been hinted or explicitly stated to her that Retrievers were all rebuilt, reborn. It seemed unlikely that whatever had nearly killed them had not happened to them in The Complex. Retrievers were chosen and created outside, not inside. So Channing was not selected for that purpose. She doubted he would give her a real answer to the question and she took another sip. Maybe he didn’t even really know. Maybe people disappeared one day from here just as from the outside world and no one really knew why, only that a new person would be taking their place. It would be easy enough to figure they’d been bested by a challenge and had not elected to be revived, or BOA had chosen to deny a revival request, or maybe they were just too many clicks in the hole.

And such could easily be her if she didn’t quickly remedy the situation. Angel himself had said, it’s better not to be. People sell anything to get out.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #36 on: September 15, 2013, 03:44:54 pm »
He would take it as a compliment, of course, that she put him a part from Irna. It lifted his spirits and the bend of his lips along with it. Angel remained where he stood, between Channing and the much harassed but never budged door, watching her find her way in the kitchen, that technically was hers now. At least that much could be said for the intuitive interior design. Get things together, bottle between two fingers, glasses, ice. By her dishevelment this could have been a day after. She had been through real battle, not some back alley scrap where the challenge was both her opposer and her heels and the alcohol content in her blood. This was not a situation where one glass of the same stuff that had put her here would make things better.

He crossed the distance now, promise of amber, his favorite lady, siren-singing him toward the shores of the surface Channing had placed her on. The drink got taller inside the vessel, courtesy of physics and ice. "Why, thank you." he said about her assessment. "We're all different, I suppose. Simon's anal, and Tommy, the big guy, he's just dumb. Sweet, though, but dumb." he said as he rolled the pretty rock around in the glass, watching the whiskey wash it slick. "We're awfully effective, you'll see. Everyone has a function. BOA is always calculating. You never know how much they know." Tip of glass, rush of endeavored punishment. He sighed gratefully, some of the oak still in his voice when he spoke again. ""Did I just think that because I thought that, or because they set me up to think that?"" He held the butt of the glass to his temple, through the almost dry hair. "It's like Inception the movie and inception the term all at the same time, in your head."

"We're asked to study carefully, yes. But most of us don't. Some of the things we check for are ridiculous. Mostly it is if a person will cause harm to the order in The Complex, or if they are likely to escape. None of this we're actually capable of assessing." He looked down and shrugged off an apology. "It's also important the family or circuit of the new prisoner isn't too much of a threat. BOA has control in here, but theoretically someone with enough resources from the outside could find The Complex. So congrats, I guess, you made the cut, thanks in part to everyone you know." It was needlessly cruel. Retrievers sometimes play with dead birds for their owners.

It was interesting to see her piece together the protocol of bringing new prisoners in. None of this was kept secret, but there were people here who had seen seasons change and not gathered as much. Channing had the fire, wanted to know, wanted to get out. He studier her while she presented what she had learned so far. Not much excitement in any of it, hidden beneath the condescension somewhere. Every now and then he would shave fire off his lips with his tongue. Blue eyes flashed at what she said about abandoning. "I usually like to give my wards a chance to make it themselves." Cop-out answer, masquerading as the truth hidden in there, somewhere. He drank to that and put the glass down. The uneven rhythm of ice and drink settling was beautiful. Like a promise. There's more for you, when you want to pick me up again.

"It doesn't look good if a Retriever has too many dead prisoners on his or her record. We get reprimanded. Head games." A perverse smirk. We deserve it. "But yeah, we're the favored children of a union between BOA and the world outside." Which would make the prisoners step children. "If you do it with enough charm, you can get away with anything. Charm being a bit of the crazy you saw in Irna." He flicked the rim of his glass. He like that sound too. "We work for them, they like to keep us in the best shape they can. Toys and all the cookies you can eat, what child doesn't want that?"

He had wondered about her question. Everyone did. It was easier in a way. Instead of questioning life as a whole, you could focus on this. Daunting, but just as fruitless. "Why? Nobody knows why. Why virtue over sin? Why memories over money?" Another taste. The ice hadn't diluted it yet. Set it back down. "For you it's a shackle to be here, to us it's a privilege. Or a new chance. Maybe everyone becomes a Retriever in an endless amount of Complexes all over the world when they die? This might all be the cycle of life." He came closer to her. Angel didn't question often. It didn't sit well with the romantic image of himself. A hero should be able to roll with everything, at least the hero he wanted to be.

"I guess I can't tell you not to wonder." Eyes on her drink now. Everything that was hers he wanted. Juvenile, possessive. Greedy. And he had spoken about sin? Blanket on her, arm sticking out to hold that short cylinder. She looked like the day she'd been through. It was attractive in an honest way. "But that would be like telling you to be cool with The Pack." He took the glass from her and sighed into the edge of it, fogging up the inside before he tipped, having a larger taste than he intended without finishing it. "There is something about everyone in here that warrants this cosmos." Lifted her glass, his other hand out also, as he looked around to direct her attention around the open room. "Endless resources pool here." Put her glass down on the counter beside her. "And you get to chose to play or not to play. Both have set outcomes." He swallowed again. You never really get everything with the first.

"Comforting aren't I?" She was looking for something to build on. More information meant more methods of influence on her situation. It was all anyone ever wanted. Power. He just wanted to make sure she knew it would be a task, if it was at all possible. He'd believed this long enough, it rolled of his lower lip easily. "Simon thinks BOA are fetishists. They want your memories the way others want money. Collectors, you know, because they have everything else. It's simple as hell, but I think that's the most elegant way of thinking of it." Shrug. He wasn't used to talking about it. Simon was the only decent conversation around here. Tommy liked to hit the gym, Irna liked to think she was BOA's little harbinger, grandiose. The other packs were less than keen on other Retrievers.

A light in his eyes. "How about you try to find out more? There's a lot of people here you could talk to, if only you would stay alive. The Complex breeds the best kind of nuts. It'll be interesting, I promise." It was always weird, insisting to someone it was in their best interests to stay alive. Then again, he suspected his relationship to Channing would contain many surprises. "It can be your thanks to me for being such a hands-on, nice handler." This smile was toothy, asinine. And smelt and shone of whiskey.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2013, 03:46:18 pm »
She felt exhausted, but she supposed he was right. As she’d expected, he’d given her partly non-answers. He took her glass from her and she let him, still feeling it was best to choose her battles, though it did strike her with a sense of fear and loathing that he felt he could just take.

It would have to be fine for now.

Channing recognized that he wanted her to go out on her own. Maybe it was a requirement. Whatever, she decided she would. But there were a few problems.

“Okay, Angel. I will go out and ask around. Find shit out. Meet some people. But there are a few things about which you may not be aware.”

She drank a small bit directly from the bottle. Then, she put the lid on, slipped the bottle back into the fridge, and poured what remained of her drink which he had taken down the sink. The ice slammed against the stainless steel.

“First of all, I’m going to have to sleep all this shit off for awhile. I’m fucking exhausted,” There was no trace of her professionalism. “Second of all, I’m deeply negative in the clicks. Desperate knives are expensive.” Channing realized suddenly that hers was on the floor, likely having dropped from her pocket when they first returned to her cell.

“Third of all, I’ll need to shower and have some clothes and shoes to put on, and it’s going to take me a few hours to unload memories to even get there. I’m exhausted, broke, and I don’t know what the hell to do about it. I’ll have to be alone for awhile.”

And she was looking forward to it. She was a wealth of destructive emotion. She wasn’t prepared to explode in front of anyone but her own reflection.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2013, 03:46:33 pm »
She would go for answers, see the world they others lived in, meets come kooks, hear some shit. It would be better this way. Drowning your own views in others made a for a good middle ground. Nothing stood very well untested. She might not come out sunny or optimistic, but there was a good chance she could find something positive about all this, if only by seeing the misery of others. And if all of that failed, her granite mind set on this straight path to the jeeps, she could gather some intel on how she'd go about that.

The addendum of things she felt he should know was fair, but it worried him. Angel listened while reaching back for his own drink. He chewed on his own teeth, angles of his jaw pumping erratically as the glass came up to his lips. It wasn't so bad. Sleep? Of course. A few hours and her shoulder would be mint, too. He was about to say as much, at the expense of postponing his swig of jack when she continued. That was first off. More. Yeah, there was always more. You always jab before you hook.

It wouldn't be hard to see him seep from presence when she mentioned the debt of clicks. A slight icing over the otherwise warm blues. Hardening of his lashes. The point of the mask, though, was its lack of reconfiguration. He declared for himself, as if he didn't already know, that he did not like the fact she shared. Angel had never known a minus value here, other than that he was always missing himself, property of BOA as he was. This hole she was talking about might as well have been his own. No. She didn't seem as bothered with it as he felt. Again, why should he care? And then, undeniably, he did.

It must be substantial, that negative balance on her box. She wouldn't be so concerned about it otherwise. He guessed he should be somewhat relieved she was willing to sort out which memories would get her back up again. The oldies had put out a lot of clicks in here, just living extravagant. Debt was nothing new. There was always more to sell. "The further you are from a million, the more they're inclined to pay you. They like to keep your hopes high. There's a sorry Ivan who's been at nine hundred K for six months now." He shrugged, but the anger wouldn't roll off. "Of course, there's the Faithful, some of them got over one million a long time ago. Religious group in here, thinks Be oh ay is the Gee oh dee. You'll know them when you see them. Another trip here in The Complex." Throwing jokes - though The Faithful were real - that should be hilarious coming out. He'd laughed himself into ruin for less. Right now it wasn't funny.

He took a step back. "Yeah. You get comfy. Sell some stuff. Go back out when you're whole or whole enough." Another step, with a turn. "You can call me when you need to." He held on to the glass again, somehow it had found its home in his adrenaline infused fingers. Placed it down by the box on the table. He shouldn't. He damn well did. Fifth of a million in the hole. He didn't know how far back his arm had cocked or what impulse had sent it out again. The cabinet door ate half the box into the wood, the silver thing well lodged in there. He wanted to ask her again if some stranger had been worth it, but he'd have more luck going out and screaming at the forest. At least then the echo might answer something agreeable.

"See you." He didn't need to pay to exit. It took him about ten meters to realize he'd squeezed the drink she poured him into his palm. Beads of red marked his stride. Diamond bits in those puddles. Angel flicked the wrist of the self inflicted injury, remains of the glass sent into a crystal vibrato over the floor. The alcohol would keep it clean until he could get to his apartment. A few angry stares, the usual bitterness, and some false concern for the irate wolf pushing through the masses returning to either Rec or the exercise area. He didn't feel like playing domestic dog right now.

He'd pay a few clicks of his own, if he had them, to get hold of some good ol' trouble right about now.

There were veins of gel woven into the surrounding buildings of the Daylight club. These pipes and vessels in turn were connected to the base generators. The point was of course to extend the vibrations of the music. The laser canons on the roof of this stand-alone minor scraper beneath the ever distant glass ceiling were able to blur the surroundings in the darkness with various holograms and effects. It was as primitive as any light projection, but as effective as well. Tonight's theme was Eden, leafs and forest themes loaded into the player of the canons. For the cost of opening the door to your cell, you could have a candied apple, soaked in your favorite anything. Powder, liquid, pill. It was important that you want to get away from the Complex, to keep you productive, but it was also paramount you didn't think of it as disgusting and completely irredeemable. A snake with pretty colors, they'd rather.

 The inside of it was roiling with activity but without the lights and the thump, there was no real proof of the Gomorrah it would become. Fliers were out on thick paper and dented print. Golden letters. Sacrilege.

Oliver sat on a bench, busying himself with rolling the foot he had lost beyond the binds of the lump. He wasn't sure he wanted to spend the 100k for the reconstruction which would be flawless, he heard. Not yet. Instead he spent a lot less on painkillers. His crutches kept him company as stared at the window where the people on thread mills panted and gasped. It was torture. He swallowed another pill with his coke. Maybe he should have gone with a wheel chair.

Theodor and his black locks had his gray jacket on. Black ring over the chest pocket where he had his silver box. If people could rob him they would. Some of them sneered as he walked past, other waved, most of them were used to the presence of the Faithful, and dodged them well.  Underneath the curled hair were equally black eyes, and red lips, always smiling in that aloof way. He listened, yes yes, and he understood you, yes yes, but would you like to hear about the glories of BOA? What could you do for BOA? It seemed what you could do for BOA was knock doors and stop strangers to further spread the word, because that was all Theodor ever did.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2013, 03:47:33 pm »
Purple.

She lied in the uncomfortably small bed on her side, staring out the window as the sky slowly turned from hues of orange and pink to purple and black. The lights in her room were ever so slowly brightening. Another nice touch. They didn’t stick you with a single bulb on a dirty ceiling, no—you had lovely pipe lighting obscured vaguely by a modern molding around the ceiling with a calm white rather than a sickly yellow glow.

Channing had taken a painkiller and had slept for maybe an hour or two, her shoulder felt good as new with nothing but an additional white scar. Her damp clothes were a pile on the floor. She’d draped herself in the sheet like a couture strapless gown, hateful of the thought of being naked here.

She sat up with the box at her side and a very small pad that could have had the name of a hotel at the top if it had needed a logo and a basic pen with black ink. The pad was covered in her barely legible scrawl, items scratched through and re-written. She looked at her negative clicks one last time.

-195,030. An almost wasted 30 from opening her door to Irna.

She began at the beginning. What had he said? They are much more willing to price you high to get you out of the hole. She thought maybe they’d take pity on her for saving another.

“Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” She said to no one.

The jersey shore. She was maybe 3. There were tiny clams on the shore. Her father had been picking them up to show her how they’d dig down into the sand. A favorite, calming memory that had spawned an undying love for simple, uncomplicated beaches. 1,000.

She swallowed hard. Tears in her eyes. Her first triathlon. She’d finished first in her age group. The triumphant feeling of passing over the finish line, cycling in the rain, swimming in a swirling river while the rain was first starting, the glorious sound of it in her ears as she swam at a fast pace. Raindrops on her cycling computer as she watched her speed climb to impossible heights, calves and thighs singing. The feeling of running past slow movers and not a single person passing her. Cycling by her father, also competing, him calling out to her a fond nickname. She gave every bit of it. 75,000.

Tears rolling down her cheeks and tightness in her chest. Her first marriage. The $7500 dream gown, gauzy and white. Him, flawless in black, eyes slightly rimmed in red. His hand out to receive her. Hope. Her dazzling ring glittering as her hand slipped perfectly into his. The way he took in a breath as though he hadn’t ever taken one before. The way she wanted to kiss him, kiss him, kiss him before the ceremony even started. To flip off her black heels and run barefoot with him out into the rain, which they did anyway, having the courtesy to wait until the end. 80,000.

Channing put her head in her hands, sobbing silently for losses she now couldn’t remember. She had continued until she reached a simple +10,000. The BOA had been quite forgiving. She knew that this time would be the last. The first few had been easy. She’d gone down the line of her list like a woman in a trance, silently weeping as she released the moments of her life she felt she would be paid the most for. It seemed to her that the more pretty details she had held onto, the higher the price. For every frame in the memory.

Another scene came to her, Marion Silver toward the end of Requiem for A Dream, surrounded by men, sweating and bare and miserable, curling up in a bed with her makeup running—but with a fistful of cash. She felt the same dazed indigence on the bed in her sheet.

It was easier as you went on much in the way that it became easier to tolerate pain as you became used to the feeling. She breathed very slowly, her mind overwhelmed with that strange Novocaine numbness. The more important the memory, the stronger that feeling.

The sky was black now.

She tore the sheet of paper from the pad and ripped it to shreds, letting them all fall to the floor by the bed. The thing was done.

Channing wandered with the sheet toward a small bathroom. There were two towels folded on the toilet seat, tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner and a pathetic bar of soap, none intended to last very long. She dropped the sheet and took a hurried but much-needed shower. She used the sad little wall dryer and prison-issue comb to dry her hair, and she started to feel much more like herself.

Wrapped in one of the towels, she picked up her hated box.

“I can’t leave like this,” She said to it, feeling and sounding insane. “I need a pair of jeans. I like the distressed look. Some ankle socks and some basic black tennis shoes. Some underwear and a bra. I like black, but whatever. A top would be nice. I usually wear tank tops but I don’t know, maybe something with a little more going on? Don’t spend more than 3k, though. I don’t need anymore bullshit situations. I’ve been through the ringer, today.”

Channing felt absurd babbling at her box. She knew you could just think at it, but somehow that felt more ridiculous. There was a knock at her door and her heart was racing. She would need to buy some kind of thing to show her who was on the other side.

She crept barefoot, clutching her towel desperately, to the door. Listened against it. She heard nothing. She paid to open the door and there was a package with a few flyers attached. She yanked the box inside quickly and shut the door in one swift movement. She cast aside the flyers and tore open the box.

A dark pair of distressed jeans in a brand she liked. Hipster cotton panties in black and black, lightly lined demi-bra. A pair of socks and a pair of basic black canvas shoes. A red spaghetti tank and a casual black fitted blazer. A pair of red heels, just in case. She realized that these clothes had been pictures in her mind as she’d been running over what she liked to wear, things she had at home. A nice little going-out outfit. There were a few makeup items at the bottom that she’d also been thinking of, but hadn’t said out loud to her box. She was forced to admit it, then, BOA was good.

She dressed and put on makeup and styled her hair a bit, long bangs falling forward into her face, swept a bit to the side. She felt herself for the first time since setting foot in The Complex, the sleeves of her blazer rolled up to her elbows. She chose the heels, why the fuck not. They looked good in the skinny jeans, made her feel a sense of command.

The sound of her heels throughout her prison cell made her feel , as Angel had put it, whole enough. She picked up the flyers she’d earlier cast aside. One about the gym. A few about areas Angel had mentioned. One about a club. Daylight. Ha-ha.

She wasn’t one for clubbing. The idea of loud music seemed contrary to her desire for conversation and information. But she supposed, in fairness, it was a Friday and most would be heading that way. Channing looked at the knife she’d placed on the table, now friends with the knife Angel had greeted her with that morning. She vaguely felt that she should arm herself. The black blade Angel had brought folded down into itself and retracted with a lightning fast click, unlike the large shark-like beast she’d wished for—good for cutting off a man’s limb, but impractical for concealed carry.

She slipped Angel’s knife, now hers, safely into her back pocket with her box, now reading exactly 7000, and clicking over to 6970 as her door opened once again. She felt oddly grateful that BOA hadn’t seemed to charge her for opening the door without actually leaving.

Channing stepped out into The Complex for the second time. Her door closed behind her. She felt now, strangely, that could recognize it easily in the hall. She made her way toward the insanity of others, deciding to start toward the club. Prepared.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #40 on: September 15, 2013, 03:48:20 pm »
Tracks on the asphalt, dark.

Oliver had gone in to the gym, after all. He had never been able to compete with the athletes in here, but he didn't like the fact that The Complex would see your jolly and round if you didn't watch yourself. Some weeks he was here every day, doing small things, often times not even breaking a sweat. The clean air and optimal temperature - which was colder than his room - had felt off-putting because of its familiarity on days when he felt lazy. Like mother's nagging and father's caring but scolding looks. In many ways he had taken it all for granted, this larger than imaginable facility. Today he felt like a stranger here, transferring himself from one end of a weight rack to the other with his crutches. He wasn't even wearing his sweat pants and tiger print t-shirt. This wasn't his to enjoy anymore.

No. The atmosphere was kinder than that, at least. He would sooner say it was all new. He was different, and so he would have to rediscover everything. Upper body strength, was what they had said. Oliver shrugged and it almost made him loose balance. He sat down on a pull machine of some sort and rested his two newest appendages against the adjacent wall. Seemed silly to do this in jeans, but he had to get used to the feeling, he supposed. The instruction label to the side highlighted the chest area of the anatomic model. Right. Even at the low settings he felt off. Hard to engage when you can't dig you heels in.

Three machines later Oliver had decided to have the reconstruction.

Theodor had just had the usual doubter at his throat. It was important not to stagger in the eyes of those that wanted to prove him wrong. The Faithful were often assaulted with the belief of others. Their faith was not science, it was a direction of life, suggested instructions that would inevitably make you happier, not theories that were designed in such a way that they could provide information in every direction. Too often this was mistaken for flaws in the make-up of the religion. His job as an ambassador in these debates was never to indulge in their argument versus argument thinking, but remind them he was right, and that they should listen.

His work wasn't done. Infuriating was all good, but he did not do well until he could convince people to join in obedience of BOA. He didn't preform well this time of day, when people seemed more interested in the fruits of their existence here than what they could do in return for the hand that fed them. Thomas walked his velcro shoes up to a lady, with a theme of red through her darker garments, and matched her speed toward Rec. "Good day, Miss. I am Thomas, Faithful. Everything else I've sold." Childhood memories, last name. All but the faith. They got him late, but he was still 900k strong, hidden behind the black ring on his jacket. Smile, empty. "How are you this evening?"

He would allow for a few niceties before he inevitably started teaching her of The Faith. She seemed new, he could recognize them and their thirsty eyes. It was always good to plant a seed early. Many had rejected him only to join later, when they faced crisis. He had come to The Faith in a similar way. Or so he had been told. Everything was forgotten, everything that he could spare that did not impose on his ability to aid in BOA's cause. People found him and his siblings in Faith odd, and they were. They could not tie their shoes or cook food or name colors except for gray and black. Something was missing in their eyes. This woman would see this too. And if she asked he would tell her. 'I sold everything but the tools for The Faith.'

Dark track on the asphalt filled.

Angel came in through the staff entrance. Stood in the little box, heard it shift forward, the locks, the gyros. He was ushered around inside the wall until the sensors were sure no one was looking at that particular spot before the silicone subsided, let him through and took back its claim, leaving the surface white as before. He jogged, blood crusted and cut, toward his cell. The demeanor wasn't the usual child with the world by his feet. Anger on top of it, souring, which would make it harder to wash away. He was going to try. Clothes off, the top before he got in through the door. Farmer's tan in grime, marking where the sleeve of his t-shirt started, white skin beyond the strong line of gunk. He punched the button on the tile and whispered something to The Complex. Perfectly tempered water. Rustle outside. Analogue equipment. Heal you own damn wounds, BOA meant. A chuckle at last. A soldier. You're not suppose to have an attitude.

He came out and dried his hair, sat down naked on the floor by the medical bag. Good elixirs at least. And glue. They still loved their dog.

Since he wore a rather elaborate leather jacket, painted and studded and thrown in a washer, everything else had to be minimalistic. Gray top, midnight slacks to contradict. Hair carefully unmade and forward, over one eye in most angles. Fifth avenue bad boy. He'd loose this expensive outwear somewhere during the night. He always did. The world is your playground. His sense of the ballistic had not matured since his untimely death during his teens. There were some undercurrents in his statements, everything had to be posing as base garments without its practical use. Self abuse, under everyone's noses. Discomfort, for relief of anxiety, and practicality, because he didn't want to take on the vengeance of his sins with his clothes holding him back. In here vengeance was plentiful.

So there he was, in Eden, as interpeted by the lights, hiding in the shadow of projected images. This entire section of the Daylight block would melt into the next, thanks to those light. A glass of champaign all but shaken to shard by the intrusive base. Waves of people already crashing against the entrance made him feel of todays tests. He pretended he wasn't looking and had his bubbles in his mouth and then down his throat. She might not come anyway. These dainty glasses were always so small.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #41 on: September 15, 2013, 03:52:29 pm »
“Good day, Miss. I am Thomas, Faithful. Everything else I’ve sold. How are you this evening?”

You’ll know them when you see them, Angel had said, but this one hadn’t even given her the opportunity to pick him out. This was something she recognized immediately from outside. It mattered not to people like this what the belief system was. They found something to cling to, something to fulfill them, and felt the need to spread their insanity and joy.

She had received a knock or two at her apartment door, usually just after arriving home from a run or a bike ride, grabbing a cup of coffee before preparing for work. Scientologists and Jehovah’s Witnesses were the more aggressive.

She wondered if they all introduced themselves in the same way. I’m Joe, Faithful. Everything else I’ve sold. I’m Elizabeth, Faithful. Everything else I’ve sold. I’m Jiang, Faithful. Everything else I’ve sold.

“I’m fine,” Channing said. Careful. “I’m trying to find—” She almost said Daylight, the name of the club, but these fanatics liked to use your words against you. Bathe in the Daylight of the BOA, enrich yourself in its light and wonder. “—the night club.” She still had the flyer with her and held it up.

Paradise, it read, surrounded in a trail of leaves and flowers, come to Eden. She wasn’t in the mood for proselytizing. Especially with her recent experiences. The BOA, even having treated her relatively gently in the past few hours, was still the enemy. It could be a matter of days or hours or seconds before they turned on her again.

She wondered if this was one of the ones who was sitting on one million clicks. Everything else I’ve sold. Perhaps it was exactly as she’d expected. Yes, they got to one million. But all that was left when every memory was sold was The Complex. What need or desire to leave? But then, what purpose were these Faithful really serving?

She said, “Maybe you can show me the way. What is it you do in here?” Sounded innocent. But she was prepared to translate whatever he said into useful information.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #42 on: September 15, 2013, 03:53:39 pm »
Thomas had his polite face on. Lips barely touching. People like when you listen with open mouth, but if you do too much, it becomes fanatic. Fanatic should come later. The eyes were a little strained not to roll upon seeing the flier. He did not judge. Everyone was right, because deep down everyone knew to agree with him, no matter the time it took to convince them. Not their fault. His head tilted and his mouth became smaller. The nod was understanding, not approving. BOA had seen fit to give this distraction. The secret was, everything but selling memories was a Test. Not just the things that could take you away.

And then, a reward for his patience. Her gray eyes seemed to know something she herself did not - that he was important in her life. Her line to BOA. His knowledge, her salvation. The smile she received at her request was as real as anything he could ever feel. Thomas had a small life. He kept very little for himself, and so he had small goals. He felt the same happiness at leading people to the faith as he had in life when he got his salary every second week, for having successfully lead the office another fortnight. Same amount of endorphins with many times the holiness. Yes, The Faith had been a good choice for Thomas. She already knew by the blade of the right corner of his mouth that he would adore to 'show her the way'. For now, he would play along.

"I will walk with you. What did you say your name was?" The Faithful were known to say your name often. You are important, your name is a rank, and yours is high up there. "I help people. I have been here long enough and sold enough memories to know what's important. Yes." He nodded, listening to himself and being resold everything he already believed. It tastes very good, every time, if it went down right the first. He was a man, so he also had an affinity to the sound of his own preaching.

A gaggle of people came from the mouth of a corridor. Naked, leafs plastered on their bodies. Rubber in green, yellow, blue and red. One of the girls laughed, high and delighted, and one of the men, who seemed to have trimmed his beard in a fitting fashion, persisted that 'it's true!'. A normal, though flamboyant sight, which might seem out of place for someone who had just been acquainted with the complex. "They're happy, wouldn't you say?" Gesture out. He had not sold his superior mannerisms. Other hand on the jacket, as if the buttons would flee. Really it was just to contain his own glory from spilling, now that the outward arm wasn't there to hold it in. "But they look for something. The next amount of clicks, the next memory to sell, or the next item they want to obtain with the clicks they have." Some of them looked at Thomas when they passed, and he looked back. Channing could see something new in his eyes if she was observant. He'd sold all the aggression that he could formulate, but something was there still, humming around his irises.

"I have enough for freedom myself." he said when they were far enough away that there were no longer eyes to stare back at. "But I wouldn't be happy using it. Another race to win? Sure, there are no hordes of murderers in an enclosed space out there, no swarms-of-killer-bees-Tuesday or poisoned food, no, there are no such pointed tests." Voice trailed, got lower. Dramatic way of lying, so she'd know something else was coming. "Or maybe there is. Maybe there will always be. I believe not in submission, but in acceptance. BOA made all of this, our world for all intents and purpose. They have everything you need in a deity. Creation, reign over life and death, angels. There is a lesson somewhere in there."

The groups would be coming more frequently now. Cat calls for Channing, call of another, equally primal nature for Thomas, though not as affectionate. A buzz. And the music, preluded by a thrum of her heart, courtesy of the liquid veins sewn into the buildings. Eden opened itself up further ahead, in the heart of Rec. "I'm not going to tell you not to look for everything you've learned is desirable. It's become accessible for you now." Hands locked behind his back. "But God is closer in The Complex too. This place is smaller than the earth we knew, but that makes things easier to see." He had to walk closer, the louder the music got. "Sins are more blindingly enjoyable. But virtue is also easier to follow." And then, he pulled out a card for her. Address and such. On the back side, red in contrast to the eggshell in front, it said 'Faith Finally'. "Here. If you need anything. We'll tell you which memories are worth more and pick you up if you have a bout of cabin fever. And if you saw a glimpse of our truth, of course. We're here for you. Just step out of your home, and hold it up high, red side visible, and a Faithful will come."

Angel was on his third glass. He rolled the foot and watched some of the accumulated bubbles close to the surface be shaved off. Tasted better now. The waiter in fawn costume had made it a habit, apparently, to come and visit this obscure part of the projection, to supply the lonely Retriever with champagne that, by the time it reached Angel, was lonely as well. This drink wasn't so clever. Maybe they saved the good things for people who couldn't wish for whatever they wanted. He shrugged and raised it, leaned more against the wall as if he could muffle the vibrations with the leather of his jacket.

And there she was. Red and black. Hah. Perfect, he supposed. And she had attracted folk. Chaste folk. Who in the bible had dark locks and a lies on his tongue, again? He saw a lady, painted like a snake, come to them with a tray of what he assumed to be apple ciders, judging by the garnish on the rims. It was hard to see where the paint stopped and her skirt started. He was fairly sure she had a bare torso, under all those sprayed on scales. Angel dropped his glass on the floor, the sound mostly swallowed by the next thump in the music.

So there was Angel, watching the newest citizen of this encased paradise, as she conversed with a peddler of beliefs, being offered apple refreshments at the edge of a singing Eden.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #43 on: September 15, 2013, 03:57:06 pm »
“What did you say your name was?”

She hesitated. “I didn’t, but it’s Channing.”

She listened carefully to the nuances in his voice as he spoke. They’re happy, wouldn’t you say, he’d asked her. But they look for something. Clicks. What to sell. What to buy. He seemed to find a dark fascination with this, he spoke of them with a vague tone of pity and condescension.

She thought that was interesting—what else did you expect them to do, in here? How else does one cope with the fact that they will never let you out while you’re alive, unless you can make it to the clicks—but as Angel had said, there were some who were so close, Faithful or otherwise, who did not. When Angel had brought these people up, she had gotten the sense that they stayed willingly. And why not? You faced danger in the outside world, though not nearly so often nor so calculated, and in a sense it was easier to have the things you wanted in here. You didn’t have to work as hard and no one had to make themselves valuable to this society. Everyone had something to give.

He seemed to taunt her as he hinted at tests or non-tests or what have you, and she felt a wave of exhaustion wash over her at the mere mention. She wondered how many of the ever-growing crowd had been present for the tests today, or other test she hadn’t seen, and were just able to go on like it was nothing. Just 24 hours ago, if Channing had described the day’s events to herself, she would have thought she was lying. Because how do you just get up and carry on after a few hours’ nap and a shower and some new clothes?

How did anyone? You just did. All these people just did. What other choice did one have? Sitting in your room (cell) and driving yourself insane with grief and anger did nothing to bring you closer to the Jeeps.

Though neither did going to a club. Which all of these people happily were.

“This place is smaller than the earth we knew, but that makes things easier to see.”

This statement struck her. She would not soon forget it. She knew what he meant, in terms of the Faithful, but it meant something else to her. The truth of it struck a far deeper chord of dissonance.

“Here. If you need anything. We'll tell you which memories are worth more and pick you up if you have a bout of cabin fever. And if you saw a glimpse of our truth, of course. We’re here for you. Just step out of your home, and hold it up high, red side visible, and a Faithful will come.”

If she needed anything. Needs always came with a price. But she would not forget. She slid the card into her back pocket with the only two other items in her inventory. “Thank you,” She said, only sort-of meaning it.

A woman in dazzling special effects makeup, some colorful bird, in plumes of feathers that grew more numerous as they tracked their way down her body to form a skirt, came to her with a tray. Remembering Thomas’s words about poisoned food, though he’d claimed there wasn’t any, she declined. Never take a drink you didn’t pour for yourself—that’s good advice for everyone. And today it was and would remain.

It was loud as she’d expected, and there were tables of people; some dressed to the theme and others dressed more simply, for a night out. Some openly doing drugs. None of this phased her, her time her felt and continued to feel like a strange dream—if only you could wake yourself up, it would be over. She began to mentally pick out the ones that would be selling the memory of this night tomorrow. Maybe only leaving in the part about getting here and the first hour, to remember the fun parts. To remember why you keep doing it and nothing else.

And maybe that was the appeal. You grow accustomed to life here, and the magic of forgetting. You see its usefulness.

And yet. That didn’t answer the question as to their usefulness to BOA. She supposed the Faithful were born of the idea that BOA was helping them, giving them a life they couldn’t have outside—that much was true for many. But not for her. Not for likely many others whose lives had importance and purpose and meaning outside, and in here, were living a life of pure indulgence and leisure. Not a bad life, but to what end? What did BOA get out of people selling memories to live like this?

Her thoughts had absently led her to one of the last empty tables and she sat, wondering if she could order some cigarettes from a busy waiter.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #44 on: September 15, 2013, 03:58:10 pm »
The red card. Just in time. Clever little Faithful. He watched Thomas leave, some of that trademark holiness dripping off his stride as he made his way from the party. A believer, leaving Eden then. He should remark on that next time he saw this particular pusher of the in-house religion. He tilted his head. It wasn't that she appeared out of place. As far as her disguise was concerned, or camouflage, she was here to partake, but the way she walked suggested she'd been from outside looking in, and only seconds ago crashed though their skyward windows. Angel moved from his corner, waved the next supply of champaign away as the waiter approached him. No tips. Very rarely did BOA let them give out free clicks. Supplying alcohol to their dogs was not a good reason for reward.

The table area was located in audio shadow. Everything about the disarray of Daylight was deliberate. You don't want to see the calculation, but you sill want the comfort of good planning. Despite the thump, you could still talk. What other reasons was there the be able to sit down? BOA did not make that much off selling refreshments, though some of the addicts did pay top clicks for their habits. BOA, like anyone, was not above squeezing the unfortunate for all that they were worth. Casual goers would not benefit - in any way that came back to BOA - from such idle blood-sucking, and therefor were not exploited in such a way. To them Daylight was another thing that posed as a carrot.

If you kill yourself, you won't live to see Daylight again.

He sat down by her side, blond hair in a mess, t-shirt and sweat pants. Both trainers on. He would go change if he felt too disgusting in these clothes, but right now Oliver wanted to announce that he could go for an evening run, just like anyone else. It was as the only statement he desired. More so than that he looked rockin' in a button down shirt. She looked good. His green eyes were bias. The mermaid with serrated teeth, cutting him from the shackle he was going to drown by. Odd to see her dressed like this, light playing off the reds and shadows collecting, creating a gravity inside her darker garments. Hair up, not in a wet mess by her neck and shoulders. She had been better looking, swimming. This was not half bad.

"My name is Oliver." If she hadn't seen him yet. There was a shortage of heart in here, and he had been blessed to meet someone who hadn't caught the rot of soul that easily set in between these white walls. He was more excited to see her than he'd been about the surgery, just now. 150k, and they did it without pain. Probably some cloned material. He didn't know. He was happy it didn't cost a wish. The Retrievers had limbs replaced every now and then. He'd wanted that when he held his box. So they had provided. "I never got to thank you because I was a dying mess." Polite, though it sounded like a joke.

He lifted the new foot. Still tingled at every use. Hard to get accustomed to the 'giveth' part of the deal they had with The Complex. To be fair, it was all caused by BOA, anyway. He rolled it around the ankle, proud. A very basic party trick, with the small reflective patches glowing white in the passing blacklight. "So thank you." The smile dropped with his foot, serious strain around his eyes. "You saw it yourself. No one else would have done that for me." He'd wondered if she hadn't had to go through to trouble, if a handful of people had rolled the pipe off him. Oliver understood. They were like him. Your freedom won't come through helping anyone else for nothing. "If you need anything, I'm here for you." To paraphrase Thomas. This man was probably more sincere than the dark Faithful about the offer.

Angel couldn't very well barge in on their conversation, and spun out of the way of a passing snake, grabbing one of those interesting apple ciders as he changed his trajectory, pushing into the tangible sphere of music. It really did feel like a pair of fingers were holding each stud on his collar, shaking them with the music. It wasn't pleasant, but this was how they had known it outside, and what Daylight had to emulate. Angel was more interested in the slice of apple than the drink. Syrup coated, because Eden was decadent? That didn't make any sense. A little sway to his steps. Sixteen years old, easily accessible frivolity with his body language.

"Right now you're thinking that you're a God here." Someone said. Angel was surprised that he had been able to hear it in the thick of tunes turned abuse. He moved around in time to have fingers in fork formation run through his carefully ruffled hair. Wrinkled his nose like he was going to snarl. Irna smiled at him. Cargo pants and green top. Battle strips on her right cheek. War in the jungle. He huffed to suppress the laughter at her cleverness. She was always willing to play. "But you're just an angel." He lifted his glass to his mouth to mumble something back. Her hand, probably smudged with his hair products, had lingered in the air and now swooped over his drink. He could feel the heavy gift she dropped. Good thing the bottom of his glass was thick. He looked down at the small bullet. Crazy fuck. "So you're not above sin like a God. You have to repent." She smiled, motherly like it had been milk and shortbread, at the edge of his bed, painted but not shaped like a race car. All things fast.

He nodded. If you show the wolves you're weak--

The glass traveled by his hold to her forehead, where the ring touched her hair. Cheers, Alfa. And he swallowed bravely. Lump in his throat, like that was something new. Damn thing was thick with metal and the drink was so sweet. It tasted like so much blood. Almost a perfect concoction to imitate the flavor of life, if life had been thin and sparkling. He would have to remember this. Irna seemed fascinated by his approval of the taste. Held out her gun, made sure it spit out another. She held it up and waved it. "Another?" He shook his head, wanted to say something about how the debt had been stricken. She looked around before he could. Why was he still moving with the music? "Now, to look for my new friend. This is sort of a welcome party for her."

Irna's head was in the right direction. Channing's table sort of stuck out, empty as it was. He knocked his face into the redhead's to have her attention returned, blood flavored lips locking with smart, threatening mouth. This was where all their interaction was going anyway. Better this than a bloodbath in a time where divine punishment hadn't been invented yet. He wished he could cough up her bullet and feed it to her.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #45 on: September 15, 2013, 03:59:27 pm »
A man that it took her no time to recognize sat beside her. Oliver, he said. She thought Angel might have mentioned it to her—he seemed to know everyone. And why shouldn’t he? She had decided from her first moment that he was a man who Knew Things, more perhaps than your average Retriever.

“I never got to thank you because I was a dying mess.”

And he showed her a true miracle of The Complex, something she had heard about but had never seen with her own eyes. A new foot. He rolled it for her. She thought with time that that foot might even turn out to be better than new.

“So thank you. You saw it yourself. No one else would have done that for me.”

“Don’t thank me,” She said quickly. Outside, it might have been what anyone else would have done. But not in here. In here, she had been scolded for her actions, because the disasters were swift and sometimes unpredictable. There was no sense in it, these prisoners felt. Outside, there were people who ran toward the injured in the face of danger to help. In here, you were more likely to die with the person you were trying to save, rather than one of you surviving.

But in the instant she’d seen him trapped, she might as well have already sold every memory that gave her the identity she so cherished. In that moment, her life had held no value over his own. If she had died, or they had both died, she had died trying.

“If you need anything, I’m here for you,” He said, and she believed him. This time she didn’t feel that anything she should need would in turn be marked as a debt. All she really needed in this place was to learn the people. Staying alive was only somewhat part of it, if she died in the midst of her search, well, then she died. She wondered again whether or not people were looking for her outside yet. She wondered whether or not Angel had left her apartment door unlocked. Her keys and purse would be on the kitchen table. Her cellphone by her bed. Everything in its place.

Channing didn’t know what to say, so she said nothing, her eyes scanning the crowd, still not sure what she was looking for. She half-heartedly wanted a drink, a cigarette moreso, but she couldn’t trust anything now. It had only been so many hours since the last disaster, she wasn’t sure she was so prepared to—

She laughed more heartless and underjoyed laughter at this new sight. Angel, lipfucking Irna. It was disgusting and demeaning and somehow hilarious. So, that’s how it was, they were all in it together, after all. And that was fine with her, except she was angry with herself for Irnagining that she could trust him. He put on a great act, Angel did, but of course—this was all a game to Retrievers. What did it matter if they treated the greasy little smears on the bottoms of their shoes—like Channing—with kindness one moment and were shooting them the next? She was just a pawn like anyone else. Maybe he was even somehow in on her getting shot. Aim for the shoulder, yeah, we can fix that up easy and make it look like a game of good guy versus bad guy.

How else did they have their fun? There were no memories really to sell, no clicks to earn. Only wards to kidnap and mindfuck and leave to their tests.

“You shouldn’t fuck a coworker,” She said, a little smug. If Oliver followed her gaze he would understand what she meant. Channing was especially glad that she had brought the knife, now. If Angel decided to drop the act and turn on her with Irna, two against one were pretty terrible odds for Channing.

But she would keep her cool. She could hardly consider this a betrayal when she had only known him for less than 24 hours.

“there is a strength to endure everything,” ivan said with a cold smile.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #46 on: September 15, 2013, 04:01:15 pm »
He wondered how much worse of a person it would have made him if he hadn't thanked her. He trusted in hibernation when he was in here. Not entirely unlike outside. Do your job, speak your mind once in a while, apologize often. Live your life inside your head. He wasn't a pessimist because he didn't feel sad about it. He'd never had a lot of social commentary beyond the clever bits that he saw through movies and read through books. That kind of stuff was unavoidable in here. Clicks were both time and money, and BOA well, they were the kings of the food chain. He suppose he'd been at half speed, racking up his clicks, until today. So maybe before her, he would have been a person wouldn't be so grateful.

The very least he could do, maybe the last thing that kept him from being an animal, was be grateful and voice it. Pathetic as it was, he actually felt proud over himself for thanking her, like that had been anything to put beside the monumental effort she had pulled out of nowhere to save his life. Proof of how bad of a person he was, that he could only consider even his own worth when appreciating other's. It was strange to have such introspection for Oliver. He really needed the drinks he pulled from a passing tray, one of them slid to be in front of her. Her? He didn't even know her name. How embarrassing.

At first he assumed the blackened laughter she emitted was for his audacity of offering her a drink. Really, you think I'd drink with you just because you messed up, lost your foot and almost got yourself killed? Somehow that felt uncharacteristic of someone who'd put her life on the line for a stranger. He decided to follow her gaze into the crowd. A lot of skin, to honor the theme, but the brave were few, even in here, so the dressed bodies were still a tangible majority. He recognized the Retriever from before, mostly by the fact that she must know him. It wasn't like he'd been in the business of remembering faces, but he had a good enough handle on two and two that helped him focus the blur that had sent water their way when he was hanging on to the pipe, literally for his life. "Hey, if you don't mind, what do I call you?"

The one he was with, in a biblical way, Oliver knew better. There were many pods or packs of Retrievers and still she managed to stand out as especially cruel. Even through his filter he had been able to know about and avoid her. They had obviously chosen her for her sadistic tendencies. He wasn't sure she was the optimal leader, given her moods, but why wouldn't the pack follow the most vicious animal within their ranks? Maybe BOA hadn't thought that one through. Oliver tasted the drink. "No you shouldn't. Especially that one. She's crazy. Were you around during the guillotine test? I heard she took the first dozen heads before we realized we had to buy reconstruction before we went onto the stage. She was so pissed when we figured it out that she left." Another sip. "BOA's supposed to have full control over the tests, but I sorta got the feeling she got to decide that one, by how it played out."

Her lips were as familiar as they could be. Insanity never really tasted the same, but it could also not be anything else than what it had been the first time. He'd be lying if he said he didn't enjoy it, the slides of slick flesh and hard suction. There was a new bitter to it, today. Their games aside, he'd never really used their connection for anything but his own gain. Did this new agenda make him a Samaritan or a whore? He suspected it must be the latter. People don't have death as part of their job description if they're Samaritan's. His eyes weren't closed, thought they might be as red as Irma's were in these strobes.

He locked sight with grays. There was his answer, with a louder ring than he had given himself. From angel to whore within the same nonsensical twirls of the track they were playing. Out of some defensive reflex her retained the self-hatred to toss back at her. And some self righteous leviathan woke also, in him, to send some sentiments with the inward critique. You're welcome, he couldn't say. He didn't know it looked like arrogance then, when he pulled Irna closer and tasted her harder. Out of courtesy to the music, and the way his body seemed intent on trying to follow it's outlines, they spun, and he was no longer kissing one while looking at another.

Irna pushed him off, nails scratching his shirt. She laughed and stole his glass. "Oh, you liked that?" He wasn't sure if she was talking about the bullet she had made him swallow or the kiss itself. In the shifting effects that seemed to represent a night in paradise, with its blues and reds, she looked every bit as the evil that she could access when she was so inclined. It made it all the more important that he kept her entertained. "Didn't know you were so keen today, Angel." Today. What was special about today. Better not let her think in that orbit. He took the glass back before she could have some and backed deeper into the puddle of people.

She followed like a flame toward a moth. When the forest of others was tight enough he held out the glass, but dropped it just as her touch connected to the cylindrical surface. She gasped, offended, delighted. He didn't have to draw from invented inspiration when he smirked triumphant, mocking. She stepped onto the shards and crushed them with her soles. Somehow that was metaphoric. "Oh, you didn't like that?" he said and continued back until she took hold of his unfriendly jacket.

"Guess they deserve each other, though, huh?" Oliver said, trying for her attention, though not really petitioning for it. It figured that his savior would be the strong and silent type, and he would definitely not push it now. Last thing anyone needed was a swooning former victim at their heel. He was fully content with leaning back, one hand on the drink, looking over the slithering participants of this assembled verk. Everyone had really gone in for this paradise thing, and yet they were acting like animals. Maybe he was over dressed, all things considered. "You've seen the way they look at us. They probably think the only other people in here are other Retrievers."

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #47 on: September 15, 2013, 04:04:33 pm »
“My name is Channing,” She said, watching as Angel and Irna disappeared into the crowd. “Though I don’t know how long I’ll keep it.”

She waited a moment, then decided to let one person, Oliver, in on thoughts that she’d elected to keep to herself until then. “I’ve been wondering how many clicks I could get for the memory of my own name. It’s one thing that positions itself across nearly all the memories a person has. It’s got to have some worth to it. It would certainly change everything about the outside world if you managed to get out—that you can’t remember the goddamn name you built that life with. And that’s the name of the game, isn’t it? The only way to get out sooner is to sell the memories you came in with. Yeah, sure, you could bide your time and sell only memories you made in here, but what’s that worth to them? Pennies. If you want the clicks, you have to sell your entire self as you knew yourself.”

And he asked her if she had been around for a guillotine test. The way he described it shocked and revolted her, and she asked for no further details. But he had let her in on one important thing: there was potential for the BOA to make mistakes. Of course, maybe the way Oliver described things was exactly the way the BOA intended for them to go. But Retriever crime and punishment was probably something kept under wraps. Your average prisoner likely never knew nor was allowed to know the back door goings-on of Retrievers and their relationship to BOA.

BOA is supposed to have full control over the test, but Oliver had the feeling that Irna decided that one. Channing wondered what that meant. Did BOA willingly relinquish control? Or did they fuck up, too? Had Irna faced some unknown repercussions?

The drink beside her, a simple blue concoction, she considered trying a sip of and then changed her mind. A waiter painted in tiger stripes started to blow past and her arm shot out and grabbed him.

“Can you bring me an unopened bottle of Pinot Grigio and a wine glass—well, two. Two glasses. And I need a pack of Marlboro Lights, if it can be done.”

The waiter nodded and went back the way he came.

“I don’t know if you like wine at all, Oliver, but you’re welcome to a glass when he gets back.”

She considered Irna further. “And yeah,” She said, “I guess they do deserve each other. They certainly reap substantial rewards for their work. They get to leave, they never pay for anything. You see it all the time, outside: the powerful people of the world get together.”

And all that that meant to her was that maybe she needed to find a way to be introduced to the BOA and start making some real friends. She wasn’t sure if this meant faking her way Faithful or what. She had been overcome with her own revulsion by Thomas’s blind faith (but that makes things easier to see) that she hadn’t thought to ask him if he’d ever come into contact with BOA. She thought not. She wasn’t even really sure if Angel had except for once or twice.

The waiter returned with the wine, the fresh cigarettes, a lighter, and a bottle opener. She felt better—but not much—about the situation and poured herself only half a glass. She continued to watch the crowd.

“How long have you been here, Oliver?” Or did he even know, anymore? For her, these hours had already begun to seem like a lifetime. She got the sense that he had been here long enough to forget there even was an outside.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #48 on: September 15, 2013, 04:05:14 pm »
Channing, swimmer savant, moral compass, black hair, gunmetal pier lights when the sharks came. Channing, with all the tellings of strength, but never boasting about it. It fit her. He liked it he decided just in time to receive the news that she did not. Not enough to keep it, necessarily. It came back to one of few truths in here. Everything had to be for sale, if you were to afford the one thing you would never achieve inside The Complex. It was inspiring and saddening at the same time. He had grown a little jaded on the subject, and that worked to his advantage.

"I like Channing." He started, small protest in his voice meant as a compliment. She did not sound like she was fishing, currently. "And I know a few who don't remember their own names. All of them have high click counts. Some of them are Faithful, who usually have very little memories of anything." He shrugged and drank some more. Tasted better and better. Had he sold the memories of what this could be, or had he never known what the glass might contain? He placed it down on its designated ring of condensation. "You'd think it would be worth a lot, but I think they can fuck you over too. I guess the safest bet is to write it down and sell it early, to be sure. Who knows, maybe you hit the jackpot. Met this guy once, he was depressed coming in because his entire life was shit, ended up selling everything hella fast. Didn't see him again. Think he got out, got a better life too, must have. Bet BOA hadn't planned for that." He cleared his throat.

Green eyes took in the waiter and the manner with which the order was received. Sometimes Daylight liked to have the staff echo the theme in attitude. What would that have looked like, he wondered, when this server was seamless in his role in transferring her wishes. He nodded once when she offered he have some when the wine came back. His theorizing over the waiters response had distracted him from her actual order. He would have drunk with her if she was having NY tap water.

She continued on his train of thought, about the Retrievers. He recognized her point on the elite traveling in packs. A memory of suits eating wasabi mayo sandwiches as they passed him putting coins in a paper cup for some unlucky fellow dance before his mind. "Yeah. I was never the 'down with the fatcats' kind of guy, but maybe I will be now. I suppose it didn't seems so wildly unfair until I was so low on the food chain. Not that I was a hotshot outside." He rolled one shoulder to put his arm on the table. "I'd kill for a spot in a pack. Haven't heard of it happening though, and if I'm dreaming, I think I would sooner dream of getting the freak-fuck out than just get one foot free."

He watched her perk up slightly at the return of the waiter in stripes. He got to the bottle when she was done, had himself the second glass that was brought. "Been here three years soon." A snort as he sat down. "I was such a noob when I came too. I used to get these insane anxiety attacks, like, tried to kill myself after the first week." He swallowed the humility with some wine. "Good thing I failed, or that would have been clicks poorly spent, huh?" He rolled his new foot against the floor. "Then apparently I came across a newer guy in a wheelchair" Apparently as in sold that memory and wrote it down somewhere. "that got some clicks and fixed himself. Don't know who he is anymore but I think he thought he got a good deal. And that was the start of the sunny disposition you now see before you."

The base of the music got to the surface of his first drink. Would be odd to taste it again, but the effects the vibrations had on the liquid was quite festive. "How about you? How long have you been in here?" It was hard to tell with her, he discovered when he looked her over now. She had spirit still, but what other kind of creature would have helped him the way she had? Couldn't have been here too long, since he suspected he would have at least seen her then. Maybe at the pools. He hadn't really thought about how crucial his physical performance was for his self worth until he lost his foot. It had become glaringly clear at the gym.

"Been thinking of getting into running, recent events and all, it helps during the tests too. I'm not horrible, but I never get from A to B by running the whole way either. I know I couldn't have done a lot in my situation under that fucking pipe, but I still want to be able to take care of myself better." He nudged the foot of his glass her way. "You seem fit, judging on what you did today. Think you could show me the ropes?" He snickered at himself and had some more wine. "I guess I sort of want you to know I'm not a ninny, despite how it looked during the test." He rolled his eyes at the memory. "You don't even know how hard it was to get stuff to my place when I somehow hopped my way over there. Almost half my home is in some kind of shadow. My box just shuts off. I have to get almost to the door to get 'reception'." Quotation marks with his fingers. "At least the shitty apartments I had on the outside all had killer net coverage."

If Angel had to do this today, he'd need something for it. Someone - bless them - passed him with a flask of something beautiful and clear. Clear in this mass of iridescence meant it took to all the colors very well. It wasn't that her physicality, as it was offered, wasn't pleasing to his palled, he'd have his fill and more. It was his own motivations rather, not that he cared for the purity of the act or the honesty of what he presented to Irna. Something new roiling in the usual heat. He kept it at bay with a swallow of, ah, Russian formula. She said her challenges and he responded. That war was still everything it could be.

He shared his bottle, smudged the streaks on her cheek, which only added to her appeal. Would her bedazzled dog tags rust? Would her heart? She shoved him off, he swung back in time for more mine-ridden affections. Irritation. Good. He could burn it into hate. Anger was a kind of passion. Yes, hate could be fuck-fuel. She liked it, he could tell. But "You're so transparent." she mumbled against his lips before she bit it. He panicked and swung the glass vessel. She tore a wound as she was pulled from her grip on his petal limb. She groaned, amused but in too much pain to laugh. Angel drank and let it spill over the injury. "Does BOA know you lie like a school girl?" she asked as she was ushered further from him by the dancers around them.

"If you can pass the psyche test, I think I lie just fine." he said, enunciating a cloud of alcohol and blood. He held the leather on his forearm to his mouth, like leather is known as a world-class absorbent. This was fine. Fucking fine. He hadn't wanted this, but that was before it felt like rejection, or a failure on his part. Grass is always greener on the other side, even when you're standing in paradise. Someone bumped into him and he pushed them off. The next series of shoves, all from different bodies, he let pass and move him. This beast of a crowd got control. He swayed and drank. Fucking fine.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #49 on: September 15, 2013, 04:07:24 pm »
She listened to him tell his tales with genuine interest. She liked hearing that someone else had the idea of writing things down. She’d had that idea in the first place, but wasn’t sure if BOA would somehow make sure her notebooks were ruined. Maybe they liked that. The idea that someone could read over and over these notebooks of supposed memories and in no way be able to relate to them. She’d done it herself when selling the memories she considered some of her most valuable to get out of the debt she’d incurred on Oliver’s behalf.

And she got some intensely valuable confirmation of things she’d already expected: the BOA decided in the moment how much a memory they were offered was worth. Like Angel had said, the offer you more when you’re in the hole. As your clicks climb, the memories are worth less. In fact, she’d probably gotten such a low score on the first memory she’d given because they knew exactly what she was doing: trying to give them a throwaway memory.

She’d climbed out of the hole fairly quickly because she was so affected by the memories she’d chosen. She scratched their backs, they scratched hers. In that one instance.

Oliver said he’d kill for a spot in the pack, but he didn’t think it worked that way. “No,” She said, “I am certain that it doesn’t. It seems they are not chosen from within, and they are all DOA before they are—revived? Reborn? Whatever you’d like to call it.”

He also asked her how long she’d been there, very casually. As though it couldn’t have been “I’d guess around 22 hours, give or take.” She surprised even herself. 22 hours. How in the hell could all of this impossible shit have gone down in such an absurd amount of time?

“Almost half my home is in some kind of shadow. My box just shuts off. I have to get almost to the door to get ‘reception’. At least the shitty apartments I had on the outside all had killer net coverage.”

She slowly turned her head to him and gave him the sort of look someone might give when you slide $400,000 across the table to them and go, “Keep it.” Channing tried to calm herself and keep a stoic face on. She whispered, “Your box shuts off? I think you have an extremely valuable piece of real estate there, Oliver, my man. A very valuable piece of real estate.”

A hole in the fabric. So their technology wasn’t entirely perfect. This news thrilled her. So, Oliver was put on the “Useful People” list. She would need him, even if she didn’t know when.

“And yes,” She said, “Running is cathartic. But I’m not a good teacher. I believe that in fitness, a person has to find their own way to be truly successful. You can’t rely on others. You have to find it within yourself, or you depend on someone else to continue on.”

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #50 on: September 15, 2013, 04:09:44 pm »
He didn't think there were a lot of people in here that hadn't considered the post as a Retriever. BOA had caught on early, that this might be an issue, Oliver guessed, and made the goal seem unobtainable for good measure. "That's the word on Retrievers, anyway." He rolled the liquid in the glass, not because he knew the intricacies of wine, but because the shape of the vessel itself invited him to play with it in such a way. Surely the movies he had watched helped, too. "But wouldn't it be just like BOA to put that out there, and then, when I die, I'd come back as a justified douche that gives you shit because I had a bad day outside." He snickered at the mental image. More grape over his lip. Swallow.

"Bet you would have regretted saving my life then." At this he laughed, controlled as always, starting with hiss. "And you know, since I would be all grandiose and evil, I would probably dislike you because I would owe you." It was an easy way to keep a conversation going, to villainize the packs. He realized he wasn't as adept in charming people to be his friends as he had thought. It's easier when there is nothing at stake, in fact, people seemed more inclined to make his business theirs, then. For reasons they both knew, it was somewhat important to him that this Channing didn't hate him.

He was glad he wasn't in mid-drink when she answered his question on how long she had been here. Oliver allowed for some time for her to look at him and grin, maybe follow with her actual age as a prisoner. She did not in any way suggest it was a joke. Apparently this was the honest configuration of her face. "So" the word trailed off, a question mark implied before the entire question had been spoken. "you got a test on your first day?" Oliver looked her over again, as though this fact could be read on her physical person. It could, he supposed, but she didn't wear any marks that could be seen. "Well, done. And welcome." he nodded, the idea sinking in further, and getting comfortable in his acceptance. "What a mindfuck this must be for you. How's it been this far?"

She did not appear fazed. Attention otherwise placed. What do I care with incarceration, memory loss for currency, and wide spread death on the whims of the resident Ubers? Her heart didn't follow the thump of the music. Channing was drinking her wine and enjoying her first day, here. Oliver grabbed hold of that attitude, in her turbulence, and had his wine as well. And then she was not so detached, after all. Trouble with the display on his box, yes, and she looked as if the world had opened up, or The Complex had, and she could see some long lost horizon beyond the woods.

He could only guess her reaction was a manifestation of their shared hatred of what this facility was, and that she equated the absence of it in his room, though limited, with some escape from it. Oliver had not been given the information about the blind spots, that Channing had. His jaw pushed to the side as he nodded slowly. "You're welcome to check it out. It's not pimped out or anything, but I have fishes and a computer." A thought struck his head to tilt. "Ah, you should get one of those. You can have my hand held, actually, if you can't afford one yet. It always makes things easier, and people post all kinds of helpful stuff on the forums. Sometimes you can get news about the tests from people who have been browsing things to buy." Oliver rocked in his chair and had some more wine. Another thought, not so happy.

"Can't contact anyone, though. It's mostly just viewing." he sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Good for current events, price checking and--" green eyes turned her way carefully. It would be abundantly clear to Channing that he was unsure of if he should say the next thing. "--if you want to check up on your family and such. But yeah, they don't allow interaction." In the silence there was a shift of music, some of the lowest rumbles turned into lighter things. Flashing strobes became thin laser effects instead. "Did you know?"

There was a lesson in the way she spoke of fitness. Yes. He couldn't rely on someone if he wanted to do it. His relationship to this woman, though, negated her point slightly. If he'd relied on himself for his life, he would be sleeping with the fishes. He'd heard what she said enough times to know she had credence. Made sense too. Why should anyone else drag his lazy ass, if he didn't have the motivation. It was another side of what she'd said, she'd of course not been so blunt about it. "Alright. I'll read some tutorials about it. Maybe soon, on a test where running is as important as swimming was today, I'll end up saving your life." He laughed as he pointed, and then finished his glass, and lifted the first, blue drink, to pour in to replace the liquid he'd drank.

Angel was well within it now. Tingling fingers, fog in those blue eyes. Festive, everything, but not to the point where he'd forget anything crucial. "Not like any of you people." he said, following the push of the human stream still. No one responded. Better that way. This humming crowd could very well become a mob if he showcased too much of his inherit hubris. They knew to be afraid on any given day, sheep are like that, but they had had free courage, free starch for their flimsy spines, delivered to them on trays all night. Somewhere Angel knew not even he would be able to stand through the rush of this collection of cattle, if they were to stampede.

He shoved his spiked shoulders into others, to get to one of the bars. The point of the bars here, on nights like these, was that anything served was free, while you still had to pay if you ordered through you box. It made little difference to a Retriever. Someone who apparently had not enjoyed being stabbed with the studs on his jacket was complaining and huffing up. Angel snorted and shook his head, barking in the direction of the disturbance. It should be enough of a warning. He lifted the half spent bottle in his hand. How much had been missing to begin with, and how much had he had? "Hey, could I have a refill?" he said, even though he could sense the assault of the music being softened immensely by the affliction of alcohol to his mind. A smart person would stop now. "It'll get you a jeep. But you'll have to drive." he promised the bartender with a big grin. Hopefully she'd have a sense of humor. Some people got mighty offended when he flaunted promises of freedom he really had no way of cashing for either himself or them.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #51 on: September 15, 2013, 04:11:18 pm »
“But wouldn’t it be just like BOA to put that out there, and then, when I die, I’d come back as a justified douche that gives you shit because I had a bad day outside.”

She could see Angel at the bar now, and she said, “They aren’t all like that,” Wondering if what she’d said was even really true. Irna wouldn’t have thrown around her earlier insults to Angel if there weren’t some kind of truth to them. Though Angel appeared to have abandoned her, or she him.

“Bet you would have regretted saving my life then. And you know, since I would be all grandiose and evil, I would probably dislike you because I would owe you.”

She half-laughed with him, quiet. “I doubt Retrievers even give anyone a chance to save their lives—let alone a lowly prisoner like one of us. They’d probably rather die. Again.” She thought that Angel and Irna would both rather die again than be rescued by a prisoner, but for different reasons. Angel maybe for the feeling of being a failure, Irna for the hatred of prisoners and for love of her high status above them.

They were both quiet for a moment. He seemed slightly surprised that she was tested on her first day. “What a mindfuck this must be for you. How's it been this far?”

“Mindfuck is putting it lightly,” She said, though unable herself to think of a stronger word to describe how she was feeling. “And I don’t know if that test was really for me. It seemed to be a test for everyone in the area. A mass-testing. Sink or swim (quid pro quo yes or no clarice). Thinning the herd.” She took a fairly dramatic sip of wine, still hardly anywhere through her first glass. Drunkeness seemed unsafe here. “It’s a fucked up place. A fucked up thing. My goal has been to figure out why the fuck we are even here. Why all this—” Channing swept her hand in an arc to indicate the exceptionally expensive club and larger, The Complex, “—to keep us here. Why make people want to stay? After a time, the good shit is gone, I’d Irnagine. Everyone’s memories all start to look pretty uniform when they’ve been in this shithole awhile. Gym, club, buy some junk, whatever. I can’t piece together the why of it. I probably shouldn’t try, but if I didn’t, who would I be?”

He offered her to check out his apartment. She figured that there would be a time when she would need to. If she learned something valuable she wasn’t supposed to learn. It still shocked her that the BOA wasn’t perfect. Yes, Angel had told her there were some areas that didn’t get coverage, but if he knew about it, probably so did BOA. But maybe Oliver’s apartment had slipped through the cracks. Maybe his irritance about lack of coverage made BOA feel safe: maybe they thought he didn’t see it as valuable.

But if they could read her thoughts. It wasn’t safe. don’t think about it now.

Their little conversation seemed strange and inappropriate for the venue, what with all the drunks and tweekers surrounding them, the laughter and dancing that was practically sex not too far away on the dance floor, the loudness of the music. They probably seemed strange there. And he said, of his handheld computer,

“Can't contact anyone, though. It’s mostly just viewing. Good for current events, price checking and—” Some hesitation. She suddenly turned her gaze toward him, questioning. His voice lowered, “—if you want to check up on your family and such. But yeah, they don’t allow interaction.”

The music changed, finally—something a bit lighter, calmer. It felt almost intentional, as though They wanted to hear him better.

“Did you know?”

“No,” She said. i somehow don’t think i was supposed to

He went on about her response regarding fitness, and she listened, her thoughts scattered and difficult to piece together. She lit up another cigarette. She typically hated smoking indoors, for a smoker, she hated the smell, but BOA must have had some kind of large, silent air filter working. She didn’t notice it much in here and hadn’t really in her prison cell.

“Maybe soon, on a test where running is as important as swimming was today, I’ll end up saving your life.”

Her eyes fell to Angel again, surprised and somewhat unnerved at his apparent level of intoxication, even from where she was sitting. She finished her glass of wine and poured another—a small one.

“I’m officially placing a DNR order on myself,” With a cold smile. “Do Not Resuscitate. If I can’t survive on my own in here, I don’t want to. If I die, it’s because I was supposed to. Because I’m not going to get out.”

Inhale. She hadn’t intended to become so grim. But she meant every word of it.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #52 on: September 15, 2013, 04:11:56 pm »
It was a bit telling when her eyes were braving the ocean of carnival to stick at the back of someone Oliver had seen eaten by the same disarray before. It was further so when she said what she did, about the Retrievers not all being the same. Oliver did not know in what way it was telling, though. It occurred to him to ask. He noticed that he really much wanted to, despite the obvious connection between a ward and her handler the first day. Somehow it wouldn't be that easy, if she got to explain, he was willing to bet. There was more in that look than dependence, if green eyes were to guess on gray, but he did not know if it was good or angry or both. Channing had been different from the first moment. Her motivations would follow that. What was in his eyes when he wondered about her, Oliver asked himself. The taste of wine on the blue liquid he'd replaced it with was a mistake. Too late. He would have to suffer through it now.

Oliver did not ask. The question swam too long with the hypnotique and struggled too much on his tongue. He swallowed it down too many times for it to be spoken before the moment was gone with the number of beats that would support it inside the music. The only reason you don't ask a question is if it isn't worth it, or if you know you won't like the answer. Didn't mean he wasn't curious. Curious was weak in this instance. Weaker than something else. The Retriever had a bottle in his hand. Decadent. Like she said, they might not let their lives be saved if it was a prisoner saving them. What a strong point that was. He wanted to believe that, and make them caricatures in his mind. They made it too easy.

He had wandered down that road too. Why? It was a good bit easier to approach than The Meaning of Life mystery, but not by much. Supposedly BOA had to have a purpose, at least in their minds. The Complex was too well planned and too intentional to be a throw-away effort. So there had to be a reason somewhere. The answer could not be Nothing. "Yeah. BOA has a reason. But do you think we'll understand it? What if the spouse of some higher-up wanted this. That'd be a reason. But would we accept that was why people died today?" He was quiet while Daylight was not. They both knew. "Yeah." as if she had answered him. "I guess I'd still wanna know if it made me feel like fly-shit." He leaned back on the chair, two legs. Bad habit. Not really Eden-behavior.

They hadn't told him about being able to learn about his family either. His sister was fine. She put up updates about their parents sometimes. His friends were into new things. It was like watching and reading the least dramatic movie or book ever, on days when he couldn't relate to the lives of free people. Other times it was injecting ants right into his back, for a longing of being right there with them, and promising himself he would, one day. Oliver put more of his weight backward. Back then, when he threw a fit as someone taught him he could view but not contact the world, they had pointed out he never asked. What, just because you're shackled it doesn't mean you can't catch a tan. He'd been pissed that week.

"So glum, Chan." Irna said. She let Oliver jump in his compromised seat, and swiped the remaining legs of the chair, effectively knocking the back of his head to the floor when he fell, unable to break his descent. He was hurt, curled up, but that also meant it wasn't serious. The guard dog dressed as a soldier sat on the table and grabbed the bottle Channing had ordered. She lifted it and drank greedily. She did not seem as swayed as Angel was, over there. "DNR? What a pretty tattoo that would make." she said within the sigh when she breathed again, slamming the bottle down. She dangled her boots. It might dawn to Channing that Retrievers like sitting on tables. Her eyes noted where Channing's had been. "He's on his stanky legs now, but he'll be back for more."

Angel thought that he heard something disconcerting through the repeated hymns, digitalized and electrified. It was impossible for him to pick up something so small from the distance he thought. Dull, skull to the floor. Before he could turn fully, the mouth of a bottle kissed the mouth of his, cold liquid bubbling down the hand he held with. He looked up to see the bartender with a bothered expression, filling him up, as he'd asked for. "Sorry for the delay, Dog, I had tipping costumers to tend to." The bottle was placed back on the rack. "You keep the jeep ride."

"So. Wanna be friends, Jane?" she asked, a long taste on Channing's middle name. Wine, or blood, on the corners of her lips. "I want to know everything about you." Ira might wear a friendly grin, but if the new prisoner didn't want to play, and acted threatening, she could produce a firearm at twitch, as well. She might have to anyway, if the man she had felled from his precariously tilted chair would get up and try at being a hero. "I've been at your house." Not in. "We're practically family already."

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #53 on: September 15, 2013, 04:13:06 pm »
Channing didn’t flinch. Not when Irna knocked Oliver’s chair over. Not when Irna sat on the table. Not when Irna drank from her bottle—making a mental note not to touch the bottle again. Channing was not the type to jump or show fear. A key aspect of her person when she was promoted to the position she held outside of The Complex. In spite of numerous breakdowns and angry tirades she had witnessed. In spite of her own hatred and confusion at her new situation. She was always able to hold a game face until such time as she could fall apart.

This was no different.

She held a demure, calculating smile—the same one she wore when she was being pleaded with or when someone spoke to her as though they knew better than she did.

“So, wanna be friends, Jane?”

Channing folded her hands on the table before her. Just as before when considering an offers he had long before the meeting decided whether to accept or reject.

“I want to know everything about you. I’ve been at your house. We’re practically family, already.”

Irna was a bit tipsy. Channing was thankful that she had kept her drinking to a minimum. Her outward demeanor denied the seething hatred for the woman before her. Channing was already prone to dislike unearned arrogance—respect undeserved. She had never been one to believe that simply being placed in a position that warranted a modicum of power meant anything about the person within. Irna had died and had been brought back with purpose. Irna thought she ran the place.

And as always, Channing would be one to continue to allow her to believe that. As a part of this game, she raised her eyebrows with feigned intrigue. “Do you?” She said. Hint of mischief.

Channing no longer categorized Irna as an immediate threat. Irna was, in fact, showing her weakness by inviting Channing into this little game. She could Irnagine was Irna was thinking—that Channing was perhaps a little prize, something to be taken from Angel. That Channing was perhaps a tool to be used to wager.

Channing would allow her to think whatever she wanted to. Channing could be very patient. She could wait for Irna to fuck herself.

“I’m afraid there isn’t a whole hell of a lot to know, Irna. I’m pretty damn boring. I was a woman with a reason, and now I’m just a regular jackoff like the rest of them,” She threw her thumb toward the crowd with a sly smile. She had jokes, of course she did. They both knew different. She knew this because Irna would not have walked over here in the first place if she did not see some kind of usefulness in Channing.

No, she did not want to be friends. But two could play.

“people don’t always tell you what they are thinking. they just see to it that you don’t advance in life.”

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #54 on: September 15, 2013, 04:15:11 pm »
Irna had been largely consumed by her own act until Channing spoke. Shoulders high with her hands behind her, legs ever swaying. It was confidence or narcissism or acute self amusement. Irna was known for the latter. She treated The Complex as her personal playground, but she couldn't throw her weight around without something else in her eyes than blind madness. There was a stroke of calculation there too. She was attentive, and that part of her sharpened, a real smile, toothy and straining the small mouth, when Channing replied with her little teasing question. A nod. Of course I do, I'd like it very much, Channing.

She hung on every word spilled. Afterward she was still interested, more excited by the gift of words than their meaning, as they had essentially been empty. "Oh I don't believe you." Shook her head, put one foot on the table, clunky boot to make clunky sound, so she could rest her chin on that knee. "Not the way you say it." Her hands were on her laces, picking. "I bet you think you're a little special after all." Her voice got a little louder, like a mom about to tickle her child.

She might have expected more from Channing for that little encouragement, warm brown eyes eager to read whatever would be displayed. When nothing followed she pouted, grabbing the wine again, and pointing with one of the fingers that had wrapped around the neck of the vial. She shook it too, that finger, as she held a conversation in her head, obviously about the raven woman in front of her. Irna drank to interrupt whatever she was thinking, and wiped with her knuckles. "First of all, we both know for a fact that you're not boring." She did not let go of the bottle when she set it down. "You sawed off a foot, you went for a swim, you flooded my café" a shake in her voice. Fascination slowly turned to anger. Irna blinked it away. Apparently she didn't want to loose to wrath just yet.

She would have to leave the bottle be when she hoisted herself closer to Channing, along the edge of the table. It could have looked affectionate if you disregarded what Irna was, and what she had done. "And you took a bullet." Smirk like 'I got you', like bullets were a game of tag and the woman in front of her was it for now. "Bet that hurt to swim with." Warm eyes scanned the torso, clad in black and red, hopeful. No stains of blood or bulges from bandage. The magic of BOA's medical attention had long since erased the damage. And scars aren't seen through clothes, usually.

"So I guess I'm calling you a liar." The accusation wasn't offended. "And I would like you to be honest with me, if we're to be friends." As far as anything else she'd said or expressed, this might seem honest, in that it hadn't been very theatrical. This was odd. Irna was surprised about that herself, but didn't linger long on it. They both knew she was curious about Channing, anyway. "What do you like, what don't you like?" What strengthens you and what are your weaknesses? "What do you think of The Complex so far?" What have you learned? "What are your plans in here?" How will you go about your futile dream to see the outside again?

Oliver could finally make out what was pain and what was reality. He grunted and felt the floor with a searching palm. His cheek vibrated with the tunes. He tried not to hear it when he rolled on his side to push himself up, at least to a sitting position. This wasn't the first time in his life that rocking in his chair had worked out poorly, but he was sure this was the worst. What had happened? Oh yeah. He saw the one boot hanging off the table, and followed it up the cargo pants to see the smug face directed at a business-like Channing. Oliver groaned.

He caught her eyes once, and then Irna looked too. The redhead did not seem bothered at all by his existence, and he felt safe in getting up and awkwardly slinking away. He tried to assure Channing that he wasn't fleeing when he gave her a look over his shoulder. From this angle he could see the weapon tucked into the back of Irna's pants. If he'd had any plans on leaving Channing hanging, they had disappeared then. He took a detour but eventually arrived at the bar where the other bumbling Retriever had been.

"As for me, I'm the bastard child of pretty trailer trash and some suit on vacation. Been doing this gig since a overdose." she said proudly, leaning in to jab a finger into Channing's shoulder finally, too curious to let it be any longer. "See, I shared. Now your turn." She stayed inclined. The hand that had jabbed came up to shield her mouth as she whispered as loudly as she could. "And oh, I also have the goods on Angel. He died in a motorcycle accident, too." Excited giggle, with a strange, dark hark at the end. "Seems you have a type, eh?"

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #55 on: September 15, 2013, 04:17:45 pm »
“First of all, we both know for a fact that you’re not boring. You sawed off a foot, you went for a swim, you flooded my café.”

Something flickered behind Irna’s eyes that told Channing to tread carefully. Not that she needed reminding. She allowed no shift in demeanor or expression to betray her. She remained in the same position, her hands lightly clasped.

“And you took a bullet.”

“Your bullet,” Channing said. Deliberate. Small smirk.

“Bet that hurt to swim with.”

“It did,” She confirmed, as though Irna had asked her if she thought it might have rained that morning. She had never taken a bullet before then. It wasn’t something that happened to most people. Had she taken a bullet outside, she would have thought it would likely be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Not here. Not now. Any remaining pain was a dull throb most people would excuse as muscle pain, unable to remember why or how they might have strained it.

“So, I guess I’m calling you a liar. And I would like you to be honest with me, if we’re to be friends.”

Channing just sat there with her little smile, listening. She gave a brief nod. She considered herself a woman of honesty who only withheld or shared information when necessary. There had never been a time when the decision as to what to reveal and what not to be reveal seemed to be matter of life and death until now. She wondered if her lack of fear of her own death was just holdover from her earlier little stint in the heroics department, but she was not afraid of Irna. She had run away from her for self-preservation earlier, but her own willingness to depart with memories she had held so dear and her sudden acceptance of her situation seemed to have killed some small part of her.

If they were to be friends. Irna kept using that word, but Channing couldn’t gauge its level of sincerity. She thought at first that no person who wanted you dead one moment could truthfully want to be your friend the next without intent to ensnare you in some kind of fucked up trap. But perhaps this was one of Irna’s bizarre levels of operation: Channing had returned her weapon, and Channing had told her that next time, she had better not miss—intentionally or otherwise. It was clear to her that today’s miss had been intentional—anyone with decent weapons experience would have been able to shoot and kill Channing in front of that glass.

But perhaps that’s what Irna found interesting. Perhaps she was so used to those around her being easily intimidated. Perhaps it was, as Irna had mocked Angel for earlier, the fact that Angel so willfully assisted Channing in her horrific transition.

“What do you like, what don’t you like? What do you think of The Complex so far? What are your plans in here?”

Questions within questions. Channing knew this too well. She had been asked them many times on many brutal interviews on her way to the top. But before she could answer, Irna went on.

“As for me, I’m the bastard child of pretty trailer trash and some suit on vacation. Been doing this gig since a overdose. See, I shared. Now your turn. And oh, I also have the goods on Angel. He died in a motorcycle accident, too. Seems you have a type, eh?”

She explained a lot about one of her earliest interactions with Angel in just a brief sentence. So, that was why he asked her why she was afraid of motorcycles. Her husband had come away without a leg, and she with a fucked up half. Angel had come away with nothing but BOA.

It secretly bothered her that Irna knew about her past, but she supposed that all Retrievers had access to certain types of information regarding those selected to be lifted to The Complex. But she did not change her expression. She was ice.

“Irna, I’m afraid I haven’t been here long enough to truly have an informed opinion of The Complex. Obviously, I don’t much care for the tests.” Even this could be a test. “I don’t really know what to think. I’m surprised at all the amenities.” This was the truth. Though she wouldn’t say why it surprised her. “And I guess my first plan would be to find some kind of employment. I’m not the sort of woman who can last very long without performing some kind of work.” This was true also. But she didn’t want concessions or bartending. She wanted to find some kind of way to get employed with the inner workings. But of course, she wouldn’t say that out loud, maybe not even to Angel.

“But it’s only my first day, Irna,” She said. Smiling smiling smiling. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself by making plans or assumptions. Seems dangerous.”

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #56 on: September 15, 2013, 04:18:19 pm »
Irna was excited when Channing reminded her of just who had planet that bullet into her. A fond memory now, not at all run through by red veins, angry and scorned. Her back twitched into a line, mouth closing in a modest way, the most sober expression she'd worn, all for the compliment - or what she considered one - of the pain that her bullet had caused, as if she had given birth or invented the shell herself. It had been adequate in its role of giving agony to the woman before her. It wasn't so sinister in her mind. If not to kill, what other purpose did a fired bullet have? Deterrent or attention. Pain was a good way to achieve either.

While it was hard to determine what Channing was thinking, Irna did feel sure she had her attention. Every syllable. It was a smart move, Channing's current attitude. Everything was enough. Enough etiquette, enough respect. Channing was playing the cards that she had been dealt. Irna saw this often from her elevated position. The dark haired woman was better collected than your usual prisoner, not to mention for someone who had been here for such a short period of time. Irna made point out of collecting her fingers as well, not to mock, but to tribute Channing's idiosyncrasy, if that's what she'd call it.

The things that Irna did herself were planned in short bursts of inspiration. She did not dip her hands all that deep into undercurrent, anymore. She had manipulated her family back when life wasn't about control, but about the next rush - absence of withdraws. Even that had been quite plain to detect, even to mom and dad, if they only had stepped out of their connection to her in order to see. Maybe then she wouldn't have died alone in her ratty apartment. She scratched the cap of her boot. That's where the syringe had been, between her middle toes. Dying was the best thing that ever happened to her. Her other boot dangled when she listened.

A grin when Channing mentioned that she was not a big fan of the tests. The coy that crept onto her features, long since cured from the age that substance abuse leaves in the natural shadows of the face, was a kind of pride a mother, or a generator might have worn. Anyone who noticed the slightly raised chin would have a hard time telling if it was something she would like to imagine - that she was in fact the maker of these Complex-wide events - or if it was something she truly believed. There was a little 'you're welcome' at the corners of her smile.

About the amenities. "Oh yes. It's kind of fancy for a supposed purgatory, isn't it?" She looked around and considered the Eden direction of tonights festivities. Laughter. "It makes all the difference to me. Work would be fun anyway, I suppose, but it doesn't hurt that I get to load up on fresh shellfish and wine coolers when I come home from doing BOA's bidding." She noticed that she was leaving a deep mark in her boot with her nail, and stopped, brushing the now visible metal free from leather dust with a disappointed tsk. The mention of work brought her head back in the direction of the company she had forced herself upon.

"Ambitious girl. I remember. You're a book peddler on the outside." She sucked on her tongue and looked at the ceiling for inspiration. "I guess the demand for in-house publishing isn't really an issue here. Although you would be surprised how many chose to sit by their window and jot down poetry. Maybe we could get a coffee table edition on the glum" That word again. "thoughts of prisoners." The chuckle was only half invested. She seemed interested in the idea itself, though not about to suggest it as a serious pass-time for Channing.

"I guess if you're cool enough not to make assumptions, you should stick with that. Less disappointing that way." She agreed to this as she spoke it, not before. A cerebral creature, Irna did not try to think ahead too far. "I was constantly disappointed and then happily surprised when I started here." As if she had a choice. "Restriction or modesty was never really my thing." She clapped her teeth together, it made an impressive click. "That's why I get along with BOA. I want to throw my weight around anyway, and they let me." Brown eyes zeroed in on Channing again. "You're not so bad after all, Janey." The smile was friendly, still tinted in darkness. "You know I would have shot you dead if you were right?"

The adrenaline had burned away the effects of his intoxication. Angel had well heard Oliver, who had come tattling, pushing through the crowd. Like an idiot, Angel took another swig as he observed the two women. Irna did not look feral, and Channing wasn't livid. The burnt was dulled on his tongue when he looked back on the who seemed pretty up-and-about for someone sans a foot. Got that reconstruction, huh? He knew the cavalier was mostly the vodka talking. "She can take care of herself. Hell. You know that. She can take care of other people too." His yet-to-fully-form intention of not going was somewhat squandered when Irna noticed they were looking, and raised the wine bottle. Angel raised his in turn.

"Wow. Looks like your date for the evening got over there fast. And here I thought he'd just slink away." she said and started tipping wine into Channing's glass, without asking if she wanted any. "Good for him." she mumbled, nodding at the notion of a spine on him. "They're coming over. Think Blondie's mad at me, or do I still have a shot?" she didn't laugh this time, but it was clear that she was joking. Irna did not hold someone she could basically knock out and send fleeing so easily in high regard. "You can have David Bowie light." She allowed for some artful silence before she cackled and then shut herself up with the bottle. "Maybe not." Again with surfacing gravity at the tail of the wicked lightness. She leaned in closer as the men approached. "Also. This is your second day. Not your first, if we're to be picky. This is just the first day you remember."

"Always starting shit." Angel muttered when he was close enough. He clunked bottles with Irna. It was impossible to place himself between the women with any kind of subtlety now that the redhead was so damn close to Channing. "I told you Daylight was something else." he reminded her and looked around. The tension addled the air between the Retrievers for a moment, before it seemed to settle. Oliver placed himself back in his chair, which he had to pick up, and made a point out of sitting boldly close to where Irna was.

"Well hello." she awarded him. He did not respond.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #57 on: September 15, 2013, 04:19:52 pm »
“It makes all the difference to me. Work would be fun anyway, I suppose, but it doesn’t hurt that I get to load up on fresh shellfish and wine coolers when I come home from doing BOA’s bidding.”

Home, she called it. She didn’t say ‘when I come back,’ she said ‘when I come home.’ Channing thought it possible that this had been a little slip-up. Irna had been so proud of her overdosing tale, of her background that many would consider tragic. Pathetic. And yet, she referred to The Complex as home. This was likely not a woman who thought about getting out or getting away. Perhaps it was her sadistic nature, the one that got off on maiming and killing, that allowed her to feel so home within The Complex. She couldn’t get away with any of her actions outside. Here? It appeared she could do whatever she wanted. Another thing for Channing to find out.

“I want to throw my weight around, and they let me.” Well, of course. There it was. They let me. So she was aware that there may be limits. She might not have found all those limits just yet—but she knew they were there. Channing felt another invisible surge of disgust.

Channing wasn’t so bad, Irna told her, and reminded her that, of course, she would have ‘shot her dead’ if she had been. This, in spite of the fact that when Irna was doing the shooting, she knew little about Channing except what had been available to her before Channing had been kidnapped, and that Channing was trying to make the test less impossible. She didn’t know whether or how “bad” Channing was in that moment—perhaps she had forgotten.

But, no—she hadn’t forgotten. Channing knew she was just making things out to be that she was always in full control of her own decisions and choices. But people like Irna, Channing knew, seldom were. She had chosen not to kill Channing because it had been more fun to hunt her down, not because she wanted to see if she wasn’t so bad. Channing doubted they would have had this conversation if she hadn’t gotten to her room first earlier in the day. Irna was ready to kill her before. There had been no ‘you’re not so bad’ then.

She had been so bad because she had dared to take the outcome of the test into her own hands. To take control away from Irna. Irna could play nice for now, but Channing knew there was deeper meaning to ‘I would have shot you dead if you weren’t.’ What it meant to Channing was ‘Don’t try that again.’

And the other half? BOA had let Channing do it. All it would have taken was for them to lift a finger and create a way for her to die during the test to stop her smashing open that café. Irna probably hated that.

She made one of her typical little quips calling Oliver Channing’s date in her manner of trying to get a rise out of people. Channing let it go as Irna kept talking.

“Think Blondie’s mad at me, or do I still have a chance?”

Channing took the opportunity. “Irna, you seem like the type of woman who gets whatever she wants.” Smile, a bit more open. “You are the one who decides whether or not you still have a chance. Not him.” She was going to like that.

Irna offered Channing Angel, as though Channing had any interest in any of the men in The Complex, or even any interest in relationships. She laughed it off when Irna said, “Maybe not.”

And, suddenly, “Also. This is your second day. Not your first, if we’re to be picky. This is just the first day you remember.”

Channing tucked that away for later, there was no time to dwell on it if she were to keep on her toes—but she didn’t like it.

Angel’s closeness suggested that he felt a need to be between them. She gave him a look to hopefully suggest otherwise. She did not trust Irna and she knew that Irna was unpredictable, but Channing felt semi-confident she had laid appropriate groundwork to at least get through this interaction. But they could screw it up—Oliver sat quite close to Irna and Angel was close to them, too. And Channing was the only one who had barely had enough alcohol to have a buzz.

She did not need Irna feeling threatened, especially not on Channing’s behalf.

So she did something she would typically have hated to do, standing, grabbing her wine glass with absolutely no intention of drinking after Irna, and affectionately nudged Irna’s shoulder with hers—the one she’d been shot in.

“We’re just having Girl Talk,” She said with an air of secrets having been exchanged.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #58 on: September 15, 2013, 04:20:59 pm »
She had not been prepared for repartee in concerns of her chances with Oliver. Of all the things she had thrown out there, she had been least interested in Channing's opinion regarding that specific subject. That just went to show how full of surprises this woman was. Irna listened with raised eyebrows, reeling in none of her reactions. When Channing thought that Irna would like that string of words, she was right. Irna could be that person now, because that person made a lot of sense without being offending to one of the many women that Irna didn't mind being, at any given moment. "You're right. I am, aren't I?" she said, more pleased with thinking this was Channing's opinion than the prospect of Oliver's company. To begin with, she didn't seem to notice him at all. There is no need to go elsewhere, if the ego is fed at your current location, already.

Angel, however, had her attention from the get-go. She had readily bumped his bottle back and taken more from the wine she had more or less claimed. It was a stricken ogle at first, soon to be revealed as far too theatrical to be sincere. The lie of it was pointed in Angel's frown. She might turn out to be upset with him too, if his discomfort was any gage. Without letting it be known if she thought she was being clever, or enjoyed his discomfort, or both, she prepared a defense for herself, inhaling against the mouth of the bottle.

Channing made sure this wasn't necessary, calling on the surprise of both Retrievers. Irna was excited and stood on the floor finally, almost at attention, wine sloshing by her side. "Yeah, exactly" she said when Angel's eyes turned from suspicious to extremely skeptic. This only fueled Irna's farce. "girl talk. What the fuck, man, we've reconciled our differences and grown," No laughter, no smile, but she had to take a moment to keep herself from doing either. The pause could have been attributed to the low level of the liquid in the bottle, but Angel might hint at the truth with the annoyed wrinkle between his eyes. As always it was hard to know whether this was Irna's point or not. "She even shared her drink with me." Que the waving of the much abused wine.

Angel visibly dropped it, his shoulders lowering. Glimmer of mischief in eyes that were allowed to be their original blue for the shortest moments, between switching light-shows. "If you say so, Red." He leaned over and touched Channing's arm and kissed her behind her cheekbone, close to the line of her hair and incidentally her ear. "She's not as drunk as she appears. Tread care-fucking-fully." he half hissed before he stood straight again, to marinate in the glare Irna offered. The redhead did not like secrets. "Then I suppose I have to apologize." It would have been more believable with less alcohol on his breath.

"Yeah." Irna liked that too, and flung the arm with the bottle in one end around Channing's neck. "See?" She rubbed her fist playfully against said healed shoulder and nodded obnoxiously to the standing man. "We're bff's and all that good stuff."

He bit his lip and smiled to the side. This was actually funny. Oliver, who had also taken a standing position, was not in on the joke, judging by the paleness he sported. Angel knew the crazy of Irna, but was also familiar with the fact that Channing probably disliked being touched by Irna worse than he worried for her. Amusement won out and he shrugged, taking a step back while tasting more of the industrial, swedish kiss in the offensively labeled vial. "Oh yeah, of course, with the chum embrace and the touching." he snorted. "Obviously you're tight now. I wish I could have seen it happen. It's beautiful really."

He reached out to clap Channing's remaining arm. "I'm so sorry to have disturbed this star-crossed meeting." Another few, kneading and undoubtedly unwelcome touches before he took his hand back. "Please continue." A dare in his demeanor. He thought all of it was a bad idea, but at least this way he could entertain himself and Irna, while keeping an eye on things. He could feel the numbing tide of his elixir-practicing returning. Things were not in need of perfect clarity anymore, which was good news, he supposed, or he had simply over indulged, which was dangerous. In a fit that might have been tell-tale, he lowered the bottle that he had held to his lips without drinking.

"Maybe that could wait?" They looked at Oliver now, who was already pointing his thumb over his back. "I mean, I already promised Channing I would show her my cell. Or, I kind of strong armed her into saying she would. Spent enough clicks on it, you know, and she did save my life." An apologetic smile. It was obvious the least armed of them wanted to create half an opportunity for Channing to leave, if she wanted to. While Irna's head was facing the blond, Angel nodded, impressed, and twitched his head for Channing to take the offer.

Irna was not without wits, either. "Oh, you're popular. You should go. Damsels like this one are tigers in bed." Despite of what she'd said, she pulled Channing closer by the arm around her. "But if you come with me we can talk directly to BOA. I'm prime for a report on today anyway. Maybe we can see if there's any openings for someone like you?" It wasn't a whisper, even though the entire thing now looked like the passing of a secret. Her lips were at Channing's ear, while her deceptively warm eyes were aimed at Angel.

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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #59 on: September 15, 2013, 04:24:17 pm »
Channing hated to be touched, and hated to be touched by Irna, but she allowed it. She had laid the groundwork for this herself, and the unpleasantness had to go with it.

But Angel had awarded her with his own secret. Irna was one of those people, who may or may not parade around with an air of drunkenness that was outwardly far more loose than the reality. This paid off for some people. She could have her fun while still maintaining a level of alertness others did not expect. It made sense for Irna to do. Channing tucked away this valuable information.

Angel grabbed her arm, her hand, and it was all she could do not to stiffen uncomfortably. She realized then that he was enjoying this. As little as he knew her, he still knew her.

“Please continue,” He said. Mistrust barely touched his words, like so many thin strands of spider web. Irna may or may not have caught it, but Channing certainly did. She knew this was a bad idea, too; but to deny Irna—to stay on Irna’s bad side—seemed a worse idea.

And then Oliver with his own opportunity to save her, this time. She was thankful, in spite of herself. Exhaustion was beginning to creep back in. The pounding music and the sincere emotional effort it took to keep this up was starting to wear on her. And what Oliver and Irna may not know, and Angel may not remember without some thought, was that she was really only truly able to save Oliver because Angel had given her his oxygen tank. She had given hers to Oliver, without Angel’s, she would not have been able to break the glass and release the water. She wasn’t sure she would have been so cavalier as to spend a second wish on something to break the glass with if Angel hadn’t left it.

Channing was not entirely certain she could last through another test, should one crop up. She was about to accept Oliver’s invitation, if only to get away, when—

“But, if you come with me we can talk directly to BOA. I’m prime for a report on today, anyway. Maybe we can see if there’s any openings for someone like you?”

Channing was not stupid. Even if she didn’t know exactly how things worked in The Complex, she had pieced together enough to know that they didn’t work quite like that. And even so, she couldn’t trust Irna not to be lying. Why would BOA allow a Retriever to bring a prisoner—a new prisoner, no less—to see how a Retriever goes and gives a report? If it were so, Angel would already have somehow hinted at it, she thought.

And it was dangerous that Irna had already figured out some of Channing’s intentions. It probably wasn’t difficult, considering Channing’s behavior and demeanor. Channing’s every sense of what was correct was telling her that Irna thought she was tantalizing Channing with pretty gifts, gifts that were shallow and empty—lies.

But whether or not Irna was as drunk as she seemed, she didn’t have to be drunk to flip the switch from “Obnoxious Sweetheart” to “Murderous Insanity” in a heartbeat. And she didn’t care who was around or who was injured or what came of it. It didn’t really matter to Channing what Irna’s offer had been, it could have been something as simple as taking a walk—it seemed more dangerous and stupid to say no. Even if her offer of BOA was a lie, it didn’t matter. She wanted Channing to go with her, and Channing felt that there was no way around it—other offer or not.

So she said, “I doubt BOA wants me in on the reports, and I’d hate to get you in trouble. But I’ll walk that way with you,” Channing offered.