a wretched wonder Read 28604 times


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #60 on: September 15, 2013, 04:25:13 pm »
Angel was his usual amount of unamused when Irna pulled Channing closer. It had been hard to hear what the redhead was talking about. He still hoped slightly that Oliver's extended hand was enough to pull Channing out. When Channing replied in a voice fit for normal conversation, not intended to be muddled by the distance between them, he could piece together what offer had been made. He was surprised first, but soon realized it was well within the realm of things that Irna would do.

Irna drank in the other Retriever's expression. She was enjoying herself. Before Angel could say anything, she nuzzled the side of Channing's face. "Look at this girl. 'doesn't want to get me into trouble.' It's like we're soulmates or something!" Irna finally left some slack for her new found friend, resting her arm only lightly on her upper back. "You're no trouble at all, Jane." she said the name right into Angel's face. "Let these guys kill their buzz somewhere else." A couple of steps to the side, hand finally sliding off the last shoulder it touched. She pushed by Oliver, bumping his shoulder in a more hostile manner than Channing had hers before. "Good try. I guess BOA beats your bachelor pad. Who would have thought."

Angel had started moving as well. The bottle wasn't with him when he caught up with Irna. There were few things that mattered enough to her for her to go through such lengths. When she trifled it was usually a direct approach. This prep work might seem limited, but to Irna it was out of character. He smoothed out the worried creases around the bridge of his nose, slid on that casual smile. "Says you, Red." teasing tone. Before she caught up, Channing might still be able to catch the tension in his back, before he shrugged out of it. "If there is a party at yours, then I want in." Passing Oliver, the male Retriever extended his arm swiftly, cutting Irna's path to shove the other man against the chair. "You stay." The lack of finery in the suggestion let it be known that blue eyes were not making light. Oliver heeded the azure warning.

Irna took a deathly silence then. The curl on one corner of her mouth hungry rather than happy, when she saw Angel react the way she did. It was the first sign of her brand of intelligence, when she turned her head, that Channing could see her profile over her shoulder. She had smelled something, so to speak, on the supposed uncaring boy, who'd so eagerly raised his arm and volunteered for the "party". They took their time, the two of them, getting out of the sitting area. Irna still dragged the bottle with her. "What the fuck's wrong with you." she said, voice monotone below the shifts. Her real voice. Disappointment, genuine surprise, all of it modest, which underlined the possibility that it might be real, until the two bodies pushed into many others.

By the time they had struggled, in Irna's case, and rocked, in Angel's, out of the worming crowd he let her have her desired place alongside Channing. For the sake of peace, or simply because the desire hadn't come to her again, she did not wrap an arm around the raven. She did keep herself rather close to the guest as they walked, though. The music and it's accompanying world of illusion brought on by fantastical machines became distant. Angel was glad he hadn't gotten into tonights theme. Among the white walls of the every-day Complex he might have felt silly, wearing a costume. He was equally grateful for the location of Irna's home, its distance from Daylight.

"Welcome to me." Irna said, interrupting her own smalltalk at the door with more bolts than the doors of basic cells sported. "Boom." she said throwing a finger at it, and the door opened. Angel readily rolled his eyes and walked past her when she held it for her two guests. The bottle that Channing had once ordered was a shattered memory along the way, so she had both hands free, one for the door, and one to slap Angel over the head with when he entered after Channing. "Who said you could come?" she hissed, but dropped the acts soon, and actually offered to hang up his jacket.

Her home had a theme. The walls leading up to the farthest were littered with things; training machines, technology, cold sculptures and pointed art. Even her kitchen was a long stretch of tile on the right side. Despite its size, there were no supporting pillars to obstruct the open feeling that channeled attention toward the glass wall, run through by no dividing metal. Beyond it, their forest. If it hadn't been nighttime, would there have been a horizon? A skyline? A bed that would stand the full assault of day, just by the glass, when day did come. Furniture to sit was strewn here and there on the floor. It seemed to have a direction with color and design, but it was definitely not planned to be practical. Maybe it wasn't such a feat after all, that Irna felt at home and not trapped in The Complex, with this kind of place to stay. "Welcome to the watchtower." she said as two cans arched through the air. If Channing paid attention, she could have seen Angel lip syncing before he caught the beer launched at him. "What do you think?" She asked and closed her fridge door, beer in her own hand.

"I give it three hipster mustaches out of five for pretentious." Angel said as he sprayed the froth from the can to the side. Irna frowned but shrugged it off as she opened her own, unshaken brew. Angel had left some of his frustration along the way, content with being along for the ride. He thought it might be safe as long as he were near, apparently. Irna didn't have a visible protest to this.

"I wasn't asking you." Irna muttered and slid down into the nearest available surface, which was a love seat.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #61 on: September 15, 2013, 04:28:36 pm »
It wasn’t lost on Channing why Angel had decided to come, and she could never properly verbalize how grateful she was that Irna had not caused a scene over it. Perhaps the two in fact were now or had been in some kind of relationship, Channing ultIrnately couldn’t be sure. Either way, Irna wasn’t hostile toward him as she might have been. That was important. That was good.

Irna smacked him upside the head—lightly, Channing noted—as they entered Irna’s quarters, but surprised Channing somewhat by offering to hang up his elaborately designed jacket. She was glad Irna didn’t offer to take hers, she preferred to keep it on. Not only because of the scars.

She was entranced by the glass wall immediately, and found herself drawn near it immediately, looking out into the darkness. Channing was momentarily overwhelmed by the sense of abject torture her little window in her bedroom had been. She was a mixture of surprised and unsurprised by the fact that Irna had her bed out in the open, rather than in the small attached room that served as a bedroom. Unless the Retrievers didn’t have such space. Angel—or Patric, or someone, she couldn’t remember—had said something about rennovations. Maybe Channing’s room with its own bedroom and bathroom was a newer, more accommodating design. Or maybe Irna just liked to have where she slept and fucked out on display. Seemed likely.

“Welcome to the Watchtower,” Irna said, tossing each of them a beer. Channing caught hers with her right hand, seeing Angel make it clear he’d heard that one before. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing.

“What do you think?”

“I give it three hipster mustaches out of five for pretentious.”

“I wasn’t asking you,” Irna retorted.

Channing opened her beer and sipped it quickly to catch the froth. “I love the glass wall,” She said. She decided to give Irna another opportunity to be human, “But at the same time, I don’t think I could stand it if it were mine.” She tried to keep a bit of a joking tone. “I know you all get to leave on assignment, but considering we prisoners never do, having such a large view out to an area you can never touch would be maddening after a time. Or motivating.”


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #62 on: September 15, 2013, 04:28:52 pm »
It was a little painful for him to see when Channing discovered the wall. He hadn't even thought about it. When he was here, the wall had become part of the decor. It wasn't practical or private by any means, and he did recall having some thoughts on it, but ultimately he filed it under Irna's other eccentricities and forgot it for the sake of smoother interaction with her. To someone like Channing it would not be a sometimes nuisance and sometimes charm. It would be a blaring reminder. He wasn't really sure when he could have fitted it in during Irna's talking, but he felt he should have told Channing, somehow. He lent her a stray glance.

She seemed pleasantly surprised first. A detail such as this one would be fantastical upon introduction. The architecture of it alone was impressive. It had been easy to acquire. Irna simply had to think the thought. Props went to BOA, as always. Angel had to turn his head, and mask the sudden motion by scratching the back of his head, as if that gesture had ever saved anyone any embarrassment, when Channing seemed to draw from a more somber sentiment that the window-wall could be connected with.

Her answer was earnest. Or it seemed that way. It contained enough elements of vulnerability to make it believable. He nodded slowly, rolling up the sleeves of his t-shirt slightly, sans jacket, and stepped to the side, trying his luck at balancing contraption. She liked late night television and the lightning fast delivery that The Complex provided. It was odd that she was adverse to throwing the equipment out. He'd wondered if she was a light level hoarder in the past. In his lubricated hubris Angel tried to master the device on one leg, and immediately slid off the plastic wing that supported him. Some of the beer spilled.

"Yeah," Irna agreed and flicked her wrist at it. "I guess I prefer things open. All I could ever think when we lived in our shoebox apartments was that there was never enough space to move around." He laid down in the love seat, reading old memories in the high ceiling before having to sit up again, to have more of the beer. "Since there's no one who walks here, jeeps are on the other side, it's kind of like I have this part of the forest to myself." She looked at the window again and smirked.

"You do anyway." Angel said from the table he'd seated himself on, having had to move the large, decorative bowl that occupied it before him down to the floor. "If you wanted the forest, why didn't you just get it?" he chuckled and scooted back to lean against the wall. The laughter suggested he was relaxing, or that the vodka was catching up to his current bravado. "It seems like with this glass wall, you're really just caging yourself in and not opening things up." He hiccuped once, probably more laughing than dehydration.

Irna sat up straighter, annoyed grimace on her face. "Haha. You're hilarious." A glance at Channing seemed to have diverted her from the slurry of insults she most likely harbored on her tongue. The grin was no less malicious and perhaps a little smug for it. "Oh yeah, Comedian, I just remember why you guys are here." She dug her teeth into her lower lip with some excitement. "So, Channing Majors, Jane, what would you like to do here? I could probably get you a janitors cart and you could make yourself useful." But the three of them knew she'd need something more rewarding than that. "Eh? Or you could be like Angel and me, maybe?" The sound of metal bending for the force of fingers. Angel had crumpled his can where he sat. He said her name once. She played innocent. "What?" she gestured toward the guest. "You got it in you, don't you Channing?"

"It's not about fucking 'got it in her', Irna!" Angel shouted suddenly. A new emotion to peel away the layers of liquor fog. "That's enough now." He hissed.

The redhead laughed to herself at his outburst, kicking her heels into the cushions in glee. She got up as her beer spilled on the love seat. It didn't take her long before her amusement for Angel's reaction had gotten her by Channing's side. "I'll set it up. You want to ride with me and do some errands?" hand on the top of her spine, lifting the collar of her jacket. "Outside?"


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #63 on: September 15, 2013, 04:30:09 pm »
“Since there’s no one who walks here, jeeps are on the other side, it’s kind of like I have this part of the forest to myself.”

“You do anyway,” From Angel.

Channing wondered what that meant. Irna’s comment seemed to indicate that there were people walking frequently enough toward the jeeps that they’d be an annoyance, which would have spurred Channing, except for Angel’s apparent contradiction. She wasn’t sure which to believe, if either. Both could easily have been the makeup of idle banter. It had been difficult enough for Channing to hear and to accept that people still willfully stayed—sometimes Faithful, sometimes not—when they got to one million clicks, let alone to hear that some people never ever got out.

And what would Retrievers know of it, anyway? Yes, they got to leave on assignment, but surely there were laws governing them, eyes on them. And they didn’t get paid in clicks, they got what they wanted with no charge. It seemed the debt of having their lives restored to them and being given the chance to live again, a new and different life, could never be wholly paid.

Something struck Channing then. So, when you got out. When you were free. If you paid your million clicks. How did BOA make sure you never told? How did BOA make sure you never brought anyone back? It was another thought that swayed her more toward the idea that the Jeeps were a lie in themselves.

“So, Channing Majors, Jane, what would you like to do here? I could probably get you a janitors cart and you could make yourself useful. Eh? Or you could be like Angel and me, maybe? You got it in you, don’t you Channing?”

Angel didn’t like that. The demure, somewhat condescending demeanor returned to Channing. Channing with the name of some kind of Major League Baseball player, who hated baseball.

“I’ll set it up. You want to ride with me and do some errands? Outside?”

It took everything Channing had in her not to shudder and shy away at Irna’s touch. It appeared that Irna considered her both stupid and desperate. Desperate, yes. Stupid, no. She was tantalizing her intentionally.

She choked out something like a laugh. “Do you think BOA is stupid enough to trust me, a new prisoner, one who has absolutely not accepted BOA as her home, to willfully go out and kidnap another stupid fuck for their game?” The smile suddenly came easy. It was a hilarious suggestion, after all. “Don’t you all go through some kind of serious training, anyway? Come on, Irna, they don’t just pick any old jackoff like me to be a Retriever, or I’d be one, wouldn’t you say? You all are a cut above. I Irnagine BOA would have a fit knowing you even offered such a thing to me.”

Small sip of beer. “Even if I tried to escape and you had to kill me out in the open, BOA would have a decent mess on their hands then, wouldn’t they? It wouldn’t be pretty.”

She looked at Angel.

“But then, what ever is?”


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #64 on: September 15, 2013, 04:31:43 pm »
Irna took her hand back, and gave just an inch of space for Channing to enjoy. It was mostly to see the other woman better, when she all but rejected the offer. Irna didn't seem offended, only fascinated by the reaction before her. The laughter had been a favorite of hers. It had sharpened her ears. Brown eyes flashed something, probably delight at certain words. The amusement of a beast is not necessarily an enjoyable thing. Collected, she listened to her guest speak, and took care to save all of the display.

"Kidnap?" she threw a look at the male, who had slid down from the table he had claimed. He did not give back the smile she sent. "That's not all we do for BOA, love." Put her hands in her pockets, rolled her hips. "We go get things, like Retrievers do, but we know many tricks." Three steps back. Confidence in her offer, still. "We're assets." Pride. Unshakable, sober pride. "Not sure you would enjoy the non-kidnapping aspect of our job more though." She chortled at the idea, as if Channing had protested to what she just said. "Why, we keep the peace in here too. You could believe that they might trust you to do that, can't you?"

She skipped back, more precious breathing room, and flexed her bicep upon impact. More theatrics. Her smile was wide. "As for the training. Yeah." Shrugged out of the pose. "You're not alive for very long the second time if you can't cut it." Gun made out of fingers with a thumb hammer pointed to Channing, where she stood. "Cla-bang. And then, if you're the right kind of cray-tzay, they pump you full of enhancers and knowledge." She tugged at her tank top. "You're a soldier, a made man. Endless amount of lives in the greatest game you'll ever play." She stretched high, finger locked and palms out. When she'd become as tall as she could be on her toes, she sighed and let her arms back down.

She laughed now, silver glitter in her throat. "And I wasn't offering you the top spot. I was just offering you to run some errands with me. BOA sells trips around the Complex too. It's a seniority thing, and it costs a pretty penny." She turned and nodded back to the black of the night. "They slap a vest on you and you get to run around the building. Guess what the vest does." It was probably something equally sinister as the crooked grin she wore. Her way of delivering information was lighter than Angel's. She was boastful about it. Fanatic. Believer.

"You really thought about this." Angel said, having found his way to stand by Channing. Eyes on Irna, who yelped in excitement, manic. She had not seen him either. "So that's your plan, put a vest on her and they'll let you drag her along? BOA won't go for it, Irna. Not even for their loony mascot." He moved past Channing and Irna skipped back, playful fright in her expression. She seemed to be under the impression that it was a game. Angel's countenance did not agree with that assessment. "So stop this crazy shit. I'm her handler. You stick to the poor bastards you like to mess up."

"But I don't want them! I want to play with her!" Irna played still, the way avoided him lightheartedly, circling furniture large enough to keep him away. Angel, though not murderous, was not on the same page, but some of the frustration of not being able to catch her was enough to calm him, or at least his stride. "Why don't we ask her what she wants?" Irna stopped behind an exercise bike, holding on to the saddle like she'd use it as a weapon if he came closer. She looked past him and at Channing with a friendly 'help me out here' in her stare.

Angel traced those eyes back to his ward as well. He shook his head. "Do you really want to see outside? If BOA let's it happen, it'll be a lot worse than this window. It's madness, Channing. She wants you to run so she can use the vest on you." His voice wasn't condescending, it sounded more like a tired warning. Her rubbed his face with both hands and shook his head. "Besides, I know for a fact that you won't like what we do. Kidnapping people is not the worst." His tone changed slightly, a pleading tail at the end of the last word.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #65 on: September 15, 2013, 04:38:12 pm »
She marveled at the manner in which Irna described her other job “duties.” It suggested to Channing that they were duties Irna had injected into the job more than BOA had officially listed them. She recalled Oliver’s story about one of the tests. He’d heard she’d taken some of the people’s heads. If it were true. Maybe they were in the room that was supposed to serve as a bedroom. Or maybe BOA had made her give them back. She felt appalled. Disgusted. Particularly at the nonchalance with which Oliver had described the incident. Just another day at The Complex.

She explained her idea of what a Retriever was. This ran a bit contradictory to Channing’s immediate experience. They were super soldiers, infinite lives, greatest game ever. So, was that the point? Was the point of the prisoners to be a game for the Retrievers? Why bother calling them Retrievers if their essential job functions were to hunt and kill the—what, the people who didn’t cooperate?

As Irna went on, Channing decided that “crazy” wasn’t enough. Demented better suited the former drug addict. Proud of where she came from, prouder of her current position. Channing refused to believe that Irna was the standard; that Irna was the one after whom BOA modeled all their expectations.

She wasn’t offering Channing top spot—no, of course—and Channing hadn’t asked for it. In fact, someone paying attention might have noticed that Channing was, in fact, continually trying to back out and away from the situations Irna kept offering. She wasn’t stupid. And Irna kept revealing her true nature. What kind of susceptible moron would agree to anything Irna offered? Channing only found herself here in Irna’s freaky torture chamber because she’d felt unsafe saying no.

Angel called her BOA’s loony mascot. Channing liked his choice of words. Even if it wasn’t totally true, it seemed to imply that Irna wasn’t totally acting under orders.

And the thing that made the least sense of what Irna was insisting: why, again, bring anyone here at all if the goal was to allow Retrievers to toy with and kill them, as Irna seemed to be saying? If BOA had only that purpose, why allow people to buy and sell and build themselves up with fancy apartments and fancy clothes and other fancy bullshit? It wasn’t adding up the way Irna apparently wanted it to.

“So stop this crazy shit. I’m her handler. You stick to the poor bastards you like to mess up.”

“But I don’t want them! I want to play with her!”

She dodged furniture and he half-heartedly went after her, though his eyes had none of the playfulness of hers. Channing wondered if Irna realized that or chose not to realize it.

Irna’s words infuriated her. Channing was not some fucking plaything. Did she have the gift of super strength, of being reborn, of training? No. But she saw Irna exactly the opposite of the way Irna worked so hard to be seen. Channing saw Irna as a far lesser being, a demented fuck who seemed more of an accidental experiment on BOA’s part, rather than a perfectly crafted work of art, as Irna saw herself.

“Why don't we ask her what she wants?”

And Irna was looking at her now, but not with the sort of look Channing expected. It wasn’t a look that dared Channing to say no, and suffer the consequences.

The question itself angered her, because no one had been interested in asking her what the fuck she wanted when she was brought here, now finding herself just over 24 hours in (48 Irna said two days) and experiencing every possible emotion and insanity that she couldn’t have Irnagined herself if she tried. It was crazier than some of the most farfetched bullshit she’d seen on her own desk. Channing could work with most things, could make them into crafts that would sell, maybe even Best Sell, but not this. This, she would have laughed out of her office. This, she would have asked the author, “What is the point? What are you trying to accomplish?”

She would have said she didn’t see the Why. Why should I keep reading? What is likeable about these characters? Why should I want them to win?

Channing wanted to laugh wildly. She would have called the scene where she cut off a man’s foot to save his life and then broke the glass and then was shot but not killed Unbelievable. Unfair to the reader. You didn’t have to be realistic, but you had to be fair. And that little scene would be asking far too much. And so would this. And so would everything. It was an unfair, unbelievable, unsellable story.

And she was living it. Right the fuck in the middle.

“Do you really want to see outside? If BOA lets it happen, it’ll be a lot worse than this window. It’s madness, Channing. She wants you to run so she can use the vest on you. Besides, I know for a fact that you won’t like what we do. Kidnapping people is not the worst.”

His words shook her from her thoughts. She hated being spoken to as though she had, even for a moment, trusted Irna’s words about going out. She hadn’t. Not for one second. As though she needed any fucking convincing.

“I don’t care what you do,” She snapped, slipping from her carefully maintained coldness for just a moment. Her eyes on Irna, “And I have no interest in knowing. In fact, the only interest I have right now is in going back to my room.”


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #66 on: September 15, 2013, 04:40:54 pm »
The inclination Angel's body had toward Irna straightened for a spiteful stance. It then proceeded to become taller, challenging, when he turned around to look at the redhead. Channing continued her answer. If there was something that he could still draw from his former life, it was over-courage, or smugness. He shone all of it her way, teeth and wrinkles around his eyes and raised eyebrows. The vodka flavoring his blood was an agent in favor of exaggeration. He did not fight it for control anymore. He let it blossom. If there was a fuse in Irna, he wanted it ablaze.

"You tell her, Channing." It was as clear a victory as he had wanted. She might as well have cussed Irna out, or something. But disinterest in the offer was good too. The room she'd gotten was better than a 'night on the town' with this crazy lass. In a way it might actually be the worst insult. Screw you, I'd rather sleep. More of the same saturated his expression. Irna was not amused. Her face became stale to keep itself from showing emotions that would make his victory sweeter. Or was it to keep things from Channing? "Sorry, Ophelia Overdose," A fancy nickname she hated. "we don't want to play with you." He laughed and put hands in leather pockets he wasn't wearing, resulting in a small drop of posture, which he soon recovered from. Drunk, after all. "Take this weak stuff you're peddling and sell it to someone who's stupid or newb enough. Channing here knows a lame deal when she sees one--"

He turned around; and smiled widely at her; and was his boyish self again; and looked innocent in his clarity, away from the chemical transformation of clear vodka and dark beer; and shone blue eyes like he was proud of her: and lifted brows like he was proud of himself; and with a promise that maybe there was hope now, based on what she had done; and winked at her to come here; and shrugged at her to 'no, I'll come to you instead'; and chuckled at himself when the buzz returned, still happy.

And none of it mattered because

Irna hadn't liked the way he had spoken, gloated. Hadn't liked the way she'd been denied when she thought she'd made such a perfect platter of temptations. Who could resist the life Irna lead, when she extended her hand from the sky, to lift you up from the dirt? It had been an insult she might have been able to forgive, but Angel had mocked her too, driven the stake in further than she could ignore. When he was turned to the new-but-not-so-new girl, Irna had speared Channing's eyes with her own. Channing would know something was starting to turn askew then. Angel would not, faced away from the danger as he was.

"--don't you, Channing?" he said, just as the evil of Irna bounced off Channing's mood for him to suspect.

Irna reached down, lifted her boot. When the sole touched the floor again it was an assertive stomp. It had delivered a familiar Glock to her hands. 30s. The handshake that ruined Channing's shoulder. The weapon was a gaping mouth held up, staring Channing in the face within a moment too short for words of warning but long enough to be a complete image. Angel knew but asked Channing with urgency in his eyes what was going on behind him. Irna knew that the time had come. The sound of gunpowder exploding, Irna screaming 'Bang' and the jerk of Angel's body was simultaneous. His legs folded when they received news of the pain.

The small redhead jumped over the object she had hid around to stand beside him where he'd fallen, malice and scorn in her eyes. "Bangbangbang!" she shouted, face lit up three times when as many bullets descended. "And bang," another shot to the body that danced with the crippling trauma. They had all been planted center mass. ", Mr Obnoxious!" she kicked him once, playful, on his shoe. "Holy fuck that was annoying, Angel!" Her gun-arm hung, other hand coming up to wipe imagined sweat off her forehead. She looked at Channing now. "Am I right?" At first it would seem as if she would pretend this was nothing, and continued the act of being friendly. Instead the brown eyes darkened, widened in their insanity as she stood there, boots split to stand one on each side of the unmoving Angel. "Now. Are we going back to your room for a much needed nap, or are we going out to take care of some business for BOA?"

Her stride toward Channing, like the rest of her recent actions, suggested she favored the latter. Well beside the raven haired guest, Irna waved the gun in the direction of the transparent wall. If Channing squinted her eyes, or focused them without doing so, she would be able to see a shadow. Tactical, black gear, male, holding a white vest, mostly based in mesh and a few ceramic pads. Once Irna had forced Channing to go to the giant window, if she would be so kind, past the bed and everything else in her home, they would touch the glass, and it would recoil, creating a large enough hole for them to pass. As though it was made out of silicone. "Take off you jacket, Bestie. Put on the vest. We're going out into the real world. And you're going to do what I say." After and if Channing had done what she was told, Irna would be accommodating enough to let her put her jacket back on, if she wanted. "Any questions?"


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #67 on: September 15, 2013, 04:42:03 pm »
“You tell her, Channing.”

She wished she could force him to recall the words as they left his mouth. It would have been enough. She was ready to leave, they could just walk away. But he kept on. Taunted Irna. Said things that Channing might have if she hadn’t immediately realized that sometimes, the best way to get away from people was to let them have their self-Irnage and leave it at that.

Angel turned to face her. Proud. She stared to say something, anything, let’s get the fuck out of here, but she caught Irna’s eye and Irna’s expression was, as so many things about Irna, unsurprisingly dark. Her eyes shifted toward Angel again, a mixture of pleading and warning, but too little too late.

The gun was out and Channing was frozen. A surge of fear swept over her like pig’s blood raining from the ceiling on prom night, bathing her in humiliation and hate. Bullets rained on him, Irna calling each one out in her special brand of dementia. Irna screamed words at him, and Channing heard none of them. Her arms and legs might as well have been useless, she was paralyzed with shock. There was one thing that Channing could label with trust or something like it, and Irna had taken it away from her because Irna always gets what she fucking wants. When Irna tells you what to do, you do it.

like hell i will

“Now. Are we going back to your room for a much needed nap, or are we going out to take care of some business for BOA?”

Channing allowed herself to be pushed toward the glass. From nowhere, a faceless man holding a white vest. She was wordless, her mind unable to process.

“Take off your jacket, Bestie. Put on the vest. We’re going out into the real world. And you’re going to do what I say. Any questions?”

Questions. Any questions. What was there to ask. Why did you fucking kill him? She knew nothing of Retrievers, whether or not they were allowed the same number of chances for clicks that prisoners were. Irna’s capriciousness suggested that, whether or not Angel would survive, and Channing saw little evidence that anyone was coming to help him, it didn’t matter. Retrievers could kill each other, sure. Irna ruled by fear.

Something started to awaken her with electricity and pain. The rage at Irna which she’d allowed to simmer was beginning to boil over. Irna thought that Channing would just fall apart, bow down, Oh, you murder people? Yes, of course, I’ll do whatever you want. What had she told Irna? You’d better not fucking miss. And Irna had aimed for the wrong target.

Channing could run a steady eight miles in just one hour with relative ease. In that instant, watching blood pool around Angel’s face-down, lifeless body, she decided that nothing could be worth this. The cool night air swept into the room.

Irna did not know her. And Irna had missed again.

Channing started to slip out of her heels and her jacket simultaneously. Because she was about to carry out a plan built on rage and insanity and had completely given up any desire to keep on with this sort of life, with the day’s horrific events playing across her mind, she went ahead and wished that someone would come on and help Angel. What did it matter if she went in the hole again with clicks, with what she was about to do.

As her arms slipped behind her back to allow the jacket to fall slightly from her shoulders, she made as though she reached both hands behind her to pull the sleeves off. But her right hand slipped around Angel’s knife. The grip was solid and welcome in her hand, a tool that she had so strongly wanted to use on him just a few hours ago she happy to have place in her back pocket with no prior intent to actually use it. And in the space of less than a second, the click, and


And she slashed outward toward Irna’s throat in the most powerful arc she could manage.

And she darted out the opening.

She ran into the woods at full speed. She didn’t care whether or not she’d connected, still gripping the knife as her eyes adjusted to the dark. She hoped she had if only to buy her some time. She didn’t care if an entire army of the men in tactical gear came to shoot her down or bring her back or whatever the fuck it was they were going to do. She would go willingly, if they wanted, so long as they kept her away from that horrible fuck Irna. If Irna survived, and of fucking COURSE she would, Channing would make damn sure she connected if Irna fucked with her again. Next time, she would kill her.

Her feet on cold ground. She was surely tearing them to pieces on loose sticks and leaves and rocks, but she felt nothing but pure adrenaline and freedom. She dodged trees and kept running, never slowing. Hearing nothing but the night. The night air caressed her face. The air in The Complex was not stale, but it was not this. Knowing she would likely be caught and probably somehow punished, she kept on, tears streaming down her face at this last bit of freedom. She would be clicks in the hole, again, for trying to save Angel, but she could probably find a way to die soon –and even if the men in tactical gear shot her to death, at least then her problems would be over.

She ran.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #68 on: September 15, 2013, 04:44:29 pm »
Irna had been smitten with some of the rhythm that she had seen in Angel on the dance floor. Her demeanor was chipper, to say the least, when her friend - proclaimed by Irna and no one else - followed her through the large space that was her home. They stopped because Channing did. The weapon between them, the one Irna knew about, was held casually in her hand, but never inclined in such a way that a shot, steadied or not, would miss Channing. She'd shot her Angel. This one didn't stand a chance, if indeed shooting her became more useful than not. Sentimental value was overridden when Angel pointed out the insult her refusal had been.

A smug kind of perverseness came over the woman when Channing started her way out of her own outwear. The smirk was not unlike the security and hubris Angel had shown the dark haired woman before his eyes had been possessed by ultimately concluding pain. Irna tilted her head to enjoy the view of Channing's obedience, gun held yet a little looser. What is the point of having the power of gunpowder if you can't wield it casually? Strict power is for progress. Lighthearted rule is for fun. Fantastic fun. The boot that had held the Glock patted the floor so close to the ground outside. "About starry eyes back there," She nodded for the body she'd made, the darkness growing around him. "I'm so--"

Channing cut her off.

At first Irna only knew she couldn't talk anymore. Her lungs were still working. The inside of her head was screaming and loosing thoughts at the same time. Lighter, he body. When she came to know what had happened, her unarmed hands came to her throat. Her breaths were set free before they could reach her mouth. Brown eyes large, nostrils flared. Her legs failed her in time to watch Channing's feet clap against the floor, taking her through the opened patch in the window wall. The soldier with the vest let it happen, hurrying in to give aid. Irna's head was against the floor, scraping teeth on hardwood she'd chosen for her apartment. She could feel herself be turned around and the cold spray being laid on her neck as soon as the soldier, his lap her pillow, could pry her hands away from the wide smile Channing had left her.

The woods around her would become tighter, the further from the complex that she got. The jeeps on the other side were there for a reason, full tanks. The location of The Complex would not be seen. Planes would never pass over the glass ceilings of the common area. From having been imprisoned somewhere, she had now fled to nowhere. BOA had kept it's unspoken promise that the woods were not monitored. No cameras mounted on trees. The building was large and white cubes mounted against and on top of each other in something that looked like an architectural disarray of rubrics cubes. She would see this if she looked back, the chaotic thing that had tried to consume her, memories and all. And would still.

Channing would hear the wheels of dispatched dirt bikes soon. Better vehicles to get through the terrain. If she made it far enough on her bleeding feet, the tightness of the trees could defeat even the most svelte of two-wheel machines, and the soldiers and Retrievers BOA had awakened would have to pursue by foot. Or boots and shoes, as it were. BOA did not keep heavy surveillance in the forest, but they had their army at the ready anyway. The unspoken promise did not extend to those that were outside when they were not allowed to. A privileged few that Channing had now joined.

Eventually, if she could keep herself hidden and her blood trail somehow concealed, there would be barks of dogs. That was not going to be the worst thing she would hear.

The kit had been top grade. Nothing major lost but blood, and they gave her enough shots to counteract that. She wore a different top now, a t-shirt, since the military tank top she'd had on had become-- stained. No foreign material in her, no poisons or infections to speak of. The spray had helped. Irna hadn't even been unconscious when they came to fix her up. She wouldn't be so unprepared next time. Channing was armed, barely. Irna had made sure the Glock was joined by another concealed firearm and then a very visible rifle. It hit against the back of the bike as the driver had them soar over hills and land hard. She hung on harder, staring into the green of the provided view from the goggles.

"That was pretty rude, Jane!" she shouted, startling the driver she held on to. Irna stood up on the supporting pins and dug her fingers into the drivers shoulders as they zipped through the vegetation, dangerously close now. "I don't think we can get past this without a sit-down! Let's talk!" Her voice was gargled, and understandably so. It would take more than a knife to shut Irna up. They had mapped out the surroundings long ago. They had planted most of it. Irna did not wonder if they would catch her. She was waiting.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #69 on: September 15, 2013, 04:47:27 pm »
She was forced to slow as the trees became closer and closer together. No sooner did she begin to slow than did she start to notice the pain in her feet. She estIrnated that she could be about 3 miles away by now. Channing shoved her way through branches and overgrowth. They clawed in her the face as though intentionally pushing her back. The sounds of small, fast motors in the distance. She fought hard against confusion and disorientation, continued forward in spite of having no sense of direction and just as little light.

Her breathing became an unfamiliar wheeze she recognized as a side effect of panic creeping in. Part of her, in desperation, hoped that they would just shoot her and get it over with. She could Irnagine that Irna had been repaired by now, possibly even by the team Channing herself had wished for to go and revive Angel. She wondered if they would, even with her wish, or whether it canceled itself out for her trying to run away.

She clamped one hand over her mouth to silence her breathing and used her other arm with the knife to hack away at the overgrowth she struggled to get by. Her feet sang grand opera, but she couldn’t stop.

She thought to herself as she heard the vague sound of dogs barking—dogs, things that she hated and irrationally feared—that none of this would have happened had she not been forced into a situation with Irna—didn’t BOA know that? She had begun to accept her place in spite of herself, had begun to formulate a plan, was willing to play the game the way BOA wanted it to be played. She would have kept her nose clean and gone on about her time in The Complex patiently seeking information and status.

And for fuck’s sake, if they had eventually given her some kind of offer, maybe she would have even taken it.

But not now. Everything was different. Now she was giving them a choice. Kill her, or keep her far, far fucking away from Irna. Should they force her to be around Irna, she would cooperate with nothing. They would just have to kill her, or place her in solitary confinement, or figure something else the fuck out. Erase all her memories with no clicks in return. Something, anything.

But shouldn’t BOA sympathize with her, even a little? Irna had killed her Retriever right in front of her, and Channing had only so much knowledge to diving whether or not he would be allowed to be revived. Channing returned to the logic that Irna would not have done it if it weren’t simple to revive him, but the act, the experience, was traumatic for her whether or not it was easy to reverse. For an organization or a cult or whatever the fuck they were that went so far out of their way to make The Complex more a resort than a prison, Channing would think they wouldn’t allow this sort of thing to go on.

Unless, she returned to her earlier thought, this too was some kind of test, and had been from the moment Irna inserted herself into Channing’s otherwise pleasant evening.

Her earlier sense of exhaustion was beginning to overwhelm her, and yet she pressed on. It was only a matter of time. And if it was Irna that came upon her, Channing would go down fighting and slashing with that knife, to give Irna a new hideous face to match her demeanor, even if it meant death. Of course they’d fix Irna’s face, but she would be forced to remember.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #70 on: September 15, 2013, 04:50:19 pm »
It wasn't too long until the party had reached the wall of trunks. Irna was first off the bike, motor sizzling because of how she had the driver push it's limit, to keep up with the others despite the added weight of another passenger. Her rifle was ready. It was not outside world issue. The grip was ergonomic, and the entire model was shrunk to fit her. Spring mounted plates to negate the kick-back, and noise-canceling moving parts. It would look sleek, but it was anything but minimalistic. No expense had been spared to provide the Retrievers with their tools. It was for the safety of BOA. When she looked through the sight on the weapon she could see the night in colors. She could hear the quickening of steps and looked to her side. The soldier gestured that he'd found something. Irna let off a bullet to land in his leg. His screams would let Channing know how close they were. The dog he had been holding ran for her, to protect its handler. It needed two hissing bullets to lay down.

The others caught the message and let Irna go first. She was sure she could hear more than a few grumblings, but didn't care. She saw the trail. The heat signature was faint but detectable. Oh, it would be child's play after this. Eventually she could catch the movement herself. It was quite impressive, having covered so much distance. What had her file said? Athlete of some sort. Good for her, Irna mused, running is famously effective against moving bullets, after all. She took her time, enjoying vision Channing did not have. In truth Irna could just pick her off from here. It was what she'd been trained to do. But that would be exactly no fun at all.

"Hey, Jane!" she called, looking at the back she'd been stalking. The forest caught its breath after her loud voice had startled it. "You're kind of a bad house-guest." Irna would have the same shade as everything else here. She could avoid most of the branches as she moved in a circle around the prisoner now turned fugitive. "Your file doesn't say anything about irredeemably bad manners. Guess I have to add that." A hitch in her sure steps, enough to give away her location, three or four paces from Channing, when she saw the outline of the knife. That was the blade Angel used. She'd know it anywhere. He liked a thick blade and the fanciness of a fold up hand-guard that doubled as brass knuckles. "Nice metal." she muttered as she sent of a deathly silent shot to stir up dirt around Channing's foot.

"It would be in your head, you realize, but look so brave so far away from The Complex." Admiration? "I don't think a bullet can cure that." Apparently not. She hung the gun on her back and it collapsed in on itself, becoming half its original length. She pulled out a knife of her own. Long, thin. She started to dig her heels into the dirt, relenting her stealthy persona. Making deliberate sounds. "I'll give you a chance to fight for your life." Not survival. The whole deal. Happily ever after, or whatever she thought freedom would be. Irna lifted the goggles off herself, hung them on a provided branch. The darkness was familiar. Their training had taken place partially in these woods. They were a night-time army, stealing enemy children in the small hours.

It was nothing so noble, of course. Irna moved fast at her opponent, minding to read the outlines for stabs and never to be lost in her own sounds. There would be a slash rolling high and cutting low, maybe on Channing's side or hip. She couldn't see how it would land, but the zinger would be her extended boot, sliding out along the forest floor, to meet Channing's toes with a front side collision. Whatever that attack would do, Irna would retreat. Better not take any more chances. The best Channing could do for her was somehow get up, or if she had not been hit at all, continue. Irna could place a stab on Channing's person with every one of the advances the untrained woman could come up with. It would be a slaughter in the moonlight, Irna thought gleefully, smiling like her neck.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #71 on: September 15, 2013, 04:56:50 pm »
Dirt exploded and Channing halted. She viewed her current situation with anger and impatience, but not fear.

“I’ll give you the chance to fight for your life.”

Channing responded to none of the absurdities. It wasn’t a chance Channing was asking for. She had accepted everything, and she welcomed death. Another little bit—this whole sequence, really—that Channing might have told the author, “No. This doesn’t make sense. The character would have a breakdown,” Or some other such suggestion, as though she really knew what a person would do in this fucked up situation. Of course, she didn’t. And no one did.

And out of seemingly nowhere, Irna darted forward and Channing felt her left side open up, and she tripped and fell forward. The knife was still in her hand. She landed hard, already out of breath. The ground and the dirt was welcome. She considered not getting back up and pretending to be dead. This was all just fun for Irna, and Channing had no sense of where she’d gone off to.

Fun. Right. The least Channing could do, she decided, was to take that away from Irna. She pushed herself up slightly and spat. “Irna, you fucking coward,” She shouted, as though Irna had run very far, knowing she hadn’t.

“You’re all fucking cowards,” She said. Louder. Punctuated with a laugh. She decided to call this chapter Channing Majors Takes A Walk and started forward at a slow pace, one hand pressing uselessly against her freshly bleeding wound. Angel’s knife was still solidly tight in her other hand. But she was only going to take a walk.

“All of you idiots back there, holding off, taking orders from this silly cunt. That’s hilarious. She’s nothing, you know. In fact, she’s no different from any of you, except that she has bizarrely taken control because you let her.”

She kept walking, exceptionally slow, no idea really where she was headed, aside from to her death. But she would get in as many verbal barbs as time would allow.

“And BOA—don’t make me FUCKING laugh. They are the biggest fucking cowards of all. ‘Oh, my, we’ve created a monster! We have to let this braindead piece of white trash run this place we’ve spent millions of dollars on and going around slaughtering people because that’s her brand of fun and we wouldn’t want to upset ickle Irna!’ ”

Channing’s voice was raised. “Bet nobody’s ever talked to you like that before, right, you stupid shit,” She said to Irna now. “I can’t believe these assholes are afraid of you. What life is worth living ruled by a terroristic, mindless pussy? What’s she going to do, KILL you? Clearly not, motherfuckers, because I’M STILL KICKING. Just wait until The Faithful find out that BOA is a bunch of limp dicks who let Irna Von CrotchRot run the show. They’ll love it!”

She was braced for every possible attack, ready to let Irna get close again. If she did, Channing wouldn’t defend as Irna cut her to ribbons, but she would stab at Irna’s face over and over and over again until Irna backed the fuck down or until Channing was dead. One of the two. Without any training, Channing’s only real hope was for Irna to get and stay close. And then Channing would slash and slash and slash and not fucking stop until she herself was dead. “Come at me, you fuck, and let’s get this shit over with. Or you can keep running away hiding your fear in fun and games. A real man would have shot me ten times over and been done with it. It’s up to you.”

« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 05:12:12 pm by paris »


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #72 on: September 15, 2013, 05:04:37 pm »
Irna hid inside the speech and Channing's own movements. She wasn't known to be a patient creature, but she could very well wait when waiting was part of the fun. Channing was reeling in the dark, throwing a net out in black water. Irna knew she'd have her time to bite. She allowed herself to slip the oh's and ah's at the best crafted insults in the flurry that Channing let out, announcing her way in the darkness. After letting out her own whispers, Irna was sure to change her location, again living inside the noises Channing provided.

Even Irna, and all her tested battle-readiness, looked over her shoulder, back at the soldiers that had followed. She wasn't much interested in if they'd riot against or for the insults that were spread in the air, she only wanted to see if she could detect what was on their faces. It would be fun to know what the hearts of trained men felt when they were pelted with all of this. This darkness and her recent lack of goggles wasn't helping in her endeavor. She soon decided to concentrate on the task at hand, and charged her arm with kinetic energy while her parry arm remained out.

Irna didn't have better vision than anyone else who ate their vitamins. Over-average vision in the dark wasn't really a job requirement. In this aspect she was on equal footing with her opponent. They were both shadows in the night for each other, moving among trees that would provide shade even during the middle of the day. Channing made her way into the forest, slow but steady. Irna followed in an erratic pattern. She wouldn't very well give away the benefits that her training awarded her. There would be silence eventually. Jumping out and planting the blade in a major artery wouldn't be fun, even if it would shut her up. No. They'd be cutting away at each other soon enough, but Irna wanted to even out the odds as much as possible. She didn't believe in honor, but she didn't want anything to stain her victory either. This would be her compromise.

Her longest weapon, a front kick. The boot flew after a short sprint. What could be considered a shift of light at the height of Channing's head had told her what she needed to know for her target. It was a solid effort, but Irna missed the chin she'd been aiming for, suited her right for trying at something so small instead of the ocular socket, and only graced that tip of Channing's face. Like rehearsed, lighting came at her, Angel's damned blade rushing forward to where Irna's head would have been if it wasn't for the descent of not putting her foot where she had wanted it. Impressive frequency and a workable plan.

Irna rolled while minding to keep her orientation. As soon as there was solid ground underneath her feet again she twisted and shot herself at Channing. It wouldn't be hard to get underneath the stabs, but Channing would also be wiser. Irna held her free arm out, more than willing to take a cut or two to get a hold of the attackers wrist. Irna would then proceed to pull Channing toward her and meet that momentum with a stab from her own knife. Deep in her gut, if Irna was successful. She'd lodge her thumb into the side of Channing's and twist, to have her let go of the borrowed weapon. She'd withdraw, and sheath the blade back into Channing's body. She'd repeat this three times before letting Channing fall over her shoulder so she could lift her up and carry her back.

Angel was restrained since long. The drugs were dizzying, and he knew he'd be screaming without them. They could have mended him on her floor, but decided to take him elsewhere for the operation. It wouldn't be a matter of a magic stick and removal of the bullets through magnetic means. They needed to replenish his blood and fix his organs. They had matter for everything in the nursing compound. So here he was, counting the glowing veins he could see that weren't there, sown right into the ceiling, while some jaded and clumsy man stuffed the wounds full of artificial meat and activated it with the blue liquid through CO2 syringe. His body jerked against the leather bonds without him registering the pain. They spoke to him as if he could answer through the mask that provided his only lung with whatever gas was keeping him this way.

He needed to take this and ask for something to stabilize him when they were done. Not that things would be pleasant. But at least he had a plan now. Irna wouldn't risk killing Channing outside of the Complex. He would.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #73 on: September 15, 2013, 05:06:08 pm »
She relished the feeling of each stab, she laughed, gargling blood, and spit it at Irna’s face. She realized the intent was to force her to let go of Angel’s knife, but she held with an iron grip, complete refusal to let go. She kicked outward at Irna with as much force as she could muster as the knife kept going in and out, in and out. With her free arm, she grabbed at the closest thing to keep her on the ground. Her last fucking wish was that Irna would not take her alive. She had promised herself she would go willingly with anyone but Irna.

“Keep going,” Channing choked, blood flowing freely from her mouth, smiling. “Keep going, you fuck. I’ll never go back with you. You’ll just have to fucking kill me.”

Her heart pounding, blood gushing from every wound with every breath. Irna had to had punctured a lung, and that was fine. Channing was used to that feeling. She coughed as her lungs began to fill, the night sky beginning to engulf her vision more fully.

“Keep,” She heaved. Less Oxygen. More Blood. “Going.”

She gripped the knife with all of her remaining strength, ready for any opportunity to cut. Her own throat, this time.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 05:13:43 pm by paris »


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #74 on: September 15, 2013, 05:07:21 pm »
There was a ruckus. The soldiers didn't know what to think but bad thoughts. They were here for Irna, of course, and she was winning by the sound of it. There was no settling their hearts. No joy at a comrade having success. The target was Channing Majors. She had told them a truth they knew, as through they could follow if they wished to. If it had been possible, they would have relinquished their posts a long time ago. Retrievers were without soul. But the foot soldiers and guards were less than that. Less worth to BOA. The voice that was drowning in itself was pretty with courage. That was all that they could note.

Irna realized too late what was happening. The breathing reminded her of something she'd heard earlier, but from the inside of her own head. Perhaps there was too much delight in hearing Channing asking for it. Not that she had mistaken the tone for giving up, it was rather the mocking and hating bravado she had come to know and associate with the black haired woman. What else could all this be, if not just that, words. She was met with the full force of her mistake when her hand keeping Channing at bay was slathered in liquid that could be nothing but blood. "Holy..." she started, but the gasp couldn't support the rest of whatever cussing spell she was preparing.

Irna tried to twist them to the side, which would bring the back of Channing's shoulders to her chest as they fell, if she was able to execute it well. While one hand closed the wound, a mirror image of what had been done to her not too long ago, the other hand minded the blade was still very much a threat. In the process Irna had to let go of her own weapon. She was only defending, sitting there on the ground. No. She was actually trying to save Channing's life, holding her in her lap, keeping Channing's life inside her body while calling for the guards.

If all of it worked out, Irna would be returning soon, Channing wrapped in a collar of soaking bonds, but well within the grace of being saved. She would be mostly exhausted by how the evening had progressed. They would not have heard the throw-away mentions in the coms of where Retriever Angel had gone after his surgery. There would be a light reflecting in the wall that opened as the outermost shell melted away, to greet it's troops coming back. An out of place pipe, casting light back from the ones on the bikes. Irna had Channing strapped to her own back as she ravaged the machine she'd claimed.

Angel had his own customized weapon. This one had a longer range configuration, and it's tripod was leveling automatically for him. It was needed, as he bit down on the belt in his mouth, to brace his mind against all the lightning and spots that danced over his field of vision. On his knee, in a most unflattering robe, he hissed against the leather he tasted, most of his torso bound in the compensating straps of the weapon, all to help him aim in his distressed state. He'd hidden to wait for their return and come out when the door mechanisms opened. Now people would be rushing up behind him. It wasn't standard procedure to aim a rifle at returning staff and comrades.

Irna didn't hear the short, but she felt her chest jerk back. The bullet would miss her heart with inches to spare. Channing behind her, would not be so lucky.

"Good morning, Channing." he said. A day had passed. She would be back in her cell, the small room that was her sleeping space. He was leaned against a wall as always. They had left her with no scars, since they suddenly wanted to be in her good graces. And because they didn't know her. For having been killed the night one day before, she would probably feel pretty good waking up. "I know you're probably wondering who shot your dead through Irna." His voice was mechanic. Somehow he imagined this had now implied he had been the culprit. He ran his hand through his hair with some returning frustration. Irna. She had been a handful to keep at a distance. "I have good news though."

If she was well enough, and decided to sit when he gestured for her to, he'd smirk. "BOA would like to offer you 500k for your memories of escape. Or" he said, grin insufferable as he slid his hands into his pockets, knuckle deep. It was probably the last thing she wanted to see, but he had caught enough gruff for this to justify some gloating. "since you died outside of the complex, you could probably try for a Retriever position." And then the chaser. "Irna were up in arms about it all day, yesterday." It felt odd that something so juvenile would give him so much pleasure to deliver. He enjoyed it, nonetheless.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #75 on: September 15, 2013, 05:14:14 pm »
She was awake.

And this time was different. This time she did not panic. There was no sense of confusion. All was clear and hatefully familiar. She almost laughed at her first thought—that she needed to spend some clicks on this god-awful bedroom. And bed. How things had changed in—how many hours?

Dark clouds outside of her window. Good. She liked rain.

She was dressed in a robe that was unflattering and uncomfortable, but she didn’t mind. She felt unreal. Like perhaps what had occurred—whenever it had occurred, yesterday? A week ago? A year?—had been an act, or a nightmare. She sat up, stretched.

“Good morning, Channing.”

She could not explain why she was happy to see him. Alive. Looking well. Just as before. He provided some small sense of comfort in spite of the lingering darkness of the fact that he had been the one to bring her here, to cause all of this. She didn’t think they let Retrievers die, but—

“I know you're probably wondering who shot you dead through Irna.”

Her hand instinctively flew to her heart. She felt no evidence of having been shot through the robe—no scar, no bandage, no hint that wound had ever been there at all. But she remembered. She remembered bleeding in solace, allowing Irna to take her because the world was growing dark. The feeling of victory, that she would be dead soon and that Irna would not be taking her alive. And then a split-second feeling, the shot, and then nothing. Dead before she’d really known what had happened. Dead. Dead. But here she was.

Without giving her a chance to respond, though what, really, would she have said?—

“BOA would like to offer you 500k for your memories of escape. Or,” He said, smiling, “Since you died outside of the complex, you could probably try for a Retriever position. Irna was up in arms about it all day, yesterday.”

Now, that was really interesting. What an offer. That was the way it worked, though, wasn’t it? If you died within, you either wished for restoration, or they gave it to you with a price, had you not enough time to wish it. Her box was on the table beside her. She wondered what it read, but didn’t touch it. Had they charged her the usual, 400,000, the 500k offer would take care of that and then give her an extra 100,000—unless, of course, her wish had in fact been spent on Angel. She didn’t know if it had or hadn’t, what with him being a Retriever. Either way, she’d be at an even 0, probably, which as she’d been told was better than negatives.

But. To be a Retriever. Now, that was really something. Had it ever happened before? A prisoner becoming a Retriever? And Irna was mad—well, of course she was. She was the one who had caused everything, wasn’t she?

“I don’t know who that woman was,” Channing said suddenly, referring to herself. And it was true. She had acted in a manner that she never had before. She could be spiteful, of course, and had been during many an argument with her former spouse and former boyfriends and employees and even her own bosses. Her actions had been born of spite, of course. And yet. She had never thought of herself as someone who could endure the pain of being chopped to death, just to die on purpose.

She thought of how strange it was that someone could change so dramatically based on circumstance. But what sort of circumstance was this, anyway? She should behave insanely when the circumstances were, themselves, insane. All of her desire and drive to escape had been funneled into disgust and disrespect for Irna.

Could try out for Retriever.

But could she, really? Did she have the guts to do what they did? How did BOA even trust her? She didn’t think that Retriever was something one tried out for, anyway—Retrievers were selected on the slab, when everyone else thought them dead, funerals with unknowingly empty caskets, while they were recreated in BOA’s labs. What of Channing Majors? Her actions stunned even herself. She hadn’t even decorated her fucking room.

“What do you think?” She asked, genuinely interested in the answer. She shook her head. “I don’t know. I don’t even know who I am. Or why they would break protocol because of me.”


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #76 on: September 15, 2013, 05:14:59 pm »
Her hand taking refuge at her heart, or her heart calling her hand for comfort, rather, was quite the visual effect. She woke serene, somehow. It was like this because he had seen her with Irna last time he saw her. The two were a volatile mixture. What memories did the touch trigger, he wondered. If he was another person he would have guessed at what she'd seen in death before the technologies of BOA were applied to her. He knew. He didn't remember but he knew. It wasn't such a mystery to the once dead. Maybe those destined to live again didn't get the secrets of the passed. It seemed fair.

She worked through the implications of the offer. Collected, like a still lake, mirroring the surroundings without stirring. Always evolving, Channing Majors. Maybe that was why he needed to do this for her. Baptize her in effort's blood, her own. It would have been a waste to let her in. In a place where death was a commodity and a first requirement in some cases, and rarely terminal, why wouldn't he use it to his advantage. It brought back a popular question, one asked by many during Channing's day of recuperation - Why did he put forward so much effort to help her? The answer was always in that first, lost day. He never said that much, not even to BOA. They could pry it out of him, if they thought it was important. They always had that choice.

With his arms crossed, knuckles digging into his biceps to make the wall a more comfortable perch, ever looking to be at ease with any position, Angel lifted his head, slow and distant, as if he'd been hypnotized to rise when she spoke of herself as foreign. The rest of his body didn't follow. He'd heard the recounting of what had happened. Someone had told him Channing cut her own throat. It would have been relevant to him even if he hadn't been involved directly on the scene of her escape. "Yes." The reflex was to ask Why, but he could guess that. "How did it feel?" felt more pressing.

When she asked him he was surprised. He suppose he had counted himself as an ally of hers, beyond his duties as her handler, considering everything he'd done. He hadn't been convinced that she believed that, though. Claws out, always. Then again, asking for his professional opinion didn't mean she trusted him, hearing it any other way only proved he wanted her to trust him, for some reason or other. So what did he think? "I think you have the choice. Jailbreaks have been extremely few. The generations of people who remember are gone, forgotten by themselves," Such was the nature of The Complex. "and others. Having the choice is better than most." He smirked. Part of the reason he'd done this must have been because of some lingering rebellion. His irises displayed that she should enjoy her leverage, congratulations in the cold blues.

"And," A flurry of symbols curdled and rippled his field of vision. To her his stare might have seemed empty, but really he was pushing back nausea from the warnings they blared at him. "it's not one or the other, if you think about it." He put two fingers discretely to his right temple to steady himself. This was cake. He'd been shot not so long ago, for crying out loud. "All you have to remember is that you escaped, not how. Those memories will still make you Bill Gates in here even if it wont be the full 500k." He nodded at his own cleverness, which might not make him look so smart, since it gave away that he was discovering what he was presenting as he said it. "And then you apply." The visual disturbance ceased when he sat down on the bed with her.

"It's not really been done before. Rules are anyone that didn't die in the complex is eligible for a Retriever position." Angel put his elbows on his knees. "But then you have to do some tests, and," He sighed and looked to the side at her, smile discouraged and crooked. "We-- kind of don't have it in our contract to get out. No clicks, no freedom. We're laced with all the magic that stitched you up, but it can do bad things too, remotely, because according to BOA, dead means free game." Angel ruffled his own hair. He didn't like thinking that his body could turn against him whenever BOA wanted. "So what do I think, Snow White?" Her hair was black, she'd slept. It was kind of accurate, actually. "I think you either give up hope and live well, or cling on to it and live like--" who didn't they like? "Patric." Something dawned on him, and it made the smile less askew, and brighter. "Either way, I suppose we'll be hanging out some, you and I."


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #77 on: September 15, 2013, 05:16:36 pm »
“And it's not one or the other, if you think about it. All you have to remember is that you escaped, not how. Those memories will still make you Bill Gates in here even if it won’t be the full 500k. And then you apply.”

She caught on to his train of thinking immediately, and it was a huge favor. Considering that her mind was flying again at 5,000 kilometers an hour, she wouldn’t have thought of it herself. It would certainly buy her a little time. He sat beside her. She tensed somewhat, but didn’t mind as much as she might have at one time. He told her that something like this hadn’t necessarily been done before—but rules are rules, it was only fair. Except, unlike your typical Retriever, as he was trying to get her to see, she had a choice. When your average Retriever was awakened from death, revived, rebuilt, they were already under BOA’s command.

“But then you have to do some tests, and we-- kind of don’t have it in our contract to get out. No clicks, no freedom. We’re laced with all the magic that stitched you up, but it can do bad things too, remotely, because according to BOA, dead means free game.”

He didn’t elaborate on what bad things, but she could Irnagine. It was as she’d wondered before. Yes, you get out to go and Retrieve people, certainly. But one wrong move and you’d be dead before you even knew they’d pulled the trigger—and remotely. Likely to any bystanders it would look like a heart attack or a sudden aneurism. But who knew what it was you felt. It was probably far worse than the vest she hadn’t given Irna the chance to show her. It was probably worse than being shot through the heart. It was probably worse than cutting your own throat. You are already dead, nameless, faceless. You would be without ID. You would be disposed of or maybe your perfect, in tact organs used for donation. There would be no family to contact, only a blank computer screen at BOA HQ where all of their information on you was once displayed.

“I think you either give up hope and live well, or cling on to it and live like Patric.”

Cling. He had used that word deliberately. It answered the question she had just a few days (was it days?) earlier been wondering but refused to ask. There was no escape. She suspected with his answer that maybe the Jeeps didn’t even exist. Because even if they did, even if you hit the million and made it out, you knew everything about The Complex and all that that implied. Not that anyone would believe you. But if someone did?

And in all her interactions in The Complex, nobody had ever mentioned a single person getting out. They talked about living there, buying and selling, secret ways to observe your loved ones, The Faithful, Retrievers, the tests, the deaths, revivals, the Jeeps. But they never said anything about actually knowing anyone who made it out.

One thing nagged at her conscience horribly. Even if she was able to let go of the life she’d led before, the one that seemed further away than it ever had, could she actually fulfill the duties of a Retriever? Would they not see through her and kick her out of the program before training ever even started? Maybe they would. Maybe when she began the tests it would all just go away.

And she considered again what Angel had said. You don’t have to forget that you had escaped, only how.

But no. She wanted to savor that one. She’d sell plenty more before that one. Especially since she had decided that

“Yes. We will. I’m going to audition.”


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #78 on: September 15, 2013, 05:17:14 pm »
It was inspiring, somehow, when she decided. He would have been lying if he'd said he didn't care. He'd been half-dead still, or mostly dead, when he strapped the rifle to himself, all the toppings, to get the aim right. Angel was pretty sure he wouldn't have done that if he wasn't invested in the idea of her becoming a Retriever. Though seeing Irna's face twist in pain through his scope had been pretty sweet too. It was important to him that Channing understood her choice. It would have all been wasted if she felt fenced in by the opportunity he'd given her.

"Oh?" he said, spirits lifted along with a doubtful, mocking eyebrow. "It's just that easy, huh? Just go in and ask for an audience." he chuckled and lifted himself up on her mattress, hoisting himself closer to her. His head leaned in closer to hers. Channing hated this, maybe even more than the grin he was wearing. "I suppose you're pretty famous now. They might actually give you and invitation." He'd been here a lot to check on her. BOA could counteract decay almost to the bone, a shot through the heart wasn't a big trick for the up-stairs. She had still needed to rest. Angel assumed his familiarity with her physical form had come from all that closeness, the visits to fluff her pillow, though technically, she hadn't been there for any of it, not that she knew. He'd laugh at how creepy that was, if doing so wouldn't have been completely impossible to explain.

There was a pleasant weight in the air, courtesy of the clouds outside. For all the somber of the sky, he could attribute some of that gravity to the atmosphere native to the room. He let the silence grow a little older. Comfortable first, it fit with the promise of rain, and then a little empty, beyond the appropriate staring point of more conversation. His face wrinkled soon after that, from the observing calm that could pretty much be interpreted any which way, to a pointedly unpleasant, childish glee. "Alright. Let's get you into master's house, Majors." Pet reference, Retrievers, obedience, all that derogatory stuff that only applied to himself at the time being. "It will take some petitioning, but hopefully that wont take too long."

He started to topple, feet crossing on the floor as he leaned to lay his back across her legs and look out the door of her room. The colors of this place were colder, if that was possible, in the morning murk that billowed in from her window. Hands behind his head as he shifted, getting comfortable to spite her. "Oliver might be crashing in at any point. He was worried." Green eyes had been here often too. Kept talking about a drip of some kind, as if they hadn't already thought of that and solved in their usual space-age kind of way. They'd become friends. "I think he felt that he should have helped you since you helped him." Angel rolled his head in his palms to look at Channing again. "Survivors guilt gets amped up when the one who died saved your life." Now that was a novel.

"Other than that," he started, body stretching and legs lifting to point his toes as his chest rose to strain as much of his skeleton in that pleasant way as he could. "Irna would like to see you." That was spoken in an exhale of relaxation - heels hitting the floor - as if it was a fleeting nuisance and not at all a warning, or promise, of conflict. She had been in here a few times. Of course, she wouldn't kill Channing when she was unconscious. No fun for crazy. "She brought flowers," Twitch on one cheek. Pride, maybe. "so you don't have to feed your waste disposal this week." It wasn't his place, but he had enjoyed telling Irna that 'Channing loved them so much she woke up and planted them in the hole in her heart'. Irna had stewed on that one.

"That's another perk with being BOa's lapdog. You won't have to deal with someone barging in on you. BOA's in your head all the time, just like the prisoners, but at least you get physical privacy." Blue eyes with a message she'd recognize. The corner of his mouth sharpened toward his ear until that pull alone had him exposing teeth. "If you want. Privacy isn't a must." Maybe she could see the boy he had been then. Mother had called him full of mischievous sunshine. How could that ever have been a bad thing?

A steep shift in his train of thought. Blue took on more hue from the shadow of the day. "Eum." He looked back up into the ceiling. Fear? No. Shame. "I'll apologize for real, you know, when the time is right. For braking your heart." It sounded worse than it was. Strangely, shooting someone in this arms-length era was better than leaving them emotional wounds. He'd joked too much, he realized, and kind of ruined the opportunity for a well placed 'sorry' for himself. Like he said and she agreed, they would be hanging for some time now. He'd get his chance.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #79 on: September 15, 2013, 05:19:13 pm »
“Oh? It’s just that easy, huh? Just go in and ask for an audience. I suppose you’re pretty famous now. They might actually give you and invitation.”

He moved closer to her and she stiffened. While he was the only thing close to what she could call a confidant, she still had her boundaries and walls, the only thing she was beginning to feel she had left of herself.

“I doubt it will be easy,” She said, with more darkness than she had intended. She expected quite the opposite, particularly because it was a thing she was now inexplicably choosing to obtain. BOA would be right to be suspicious of how a prisoner, especially one so new, could flip to extremely and so suddenly from desperation to escape to willingness to participate and in fact continue on with the mysterious mission—a thing she wasn’t entirely sure she could do.

The typical Retriever did not have the luxury of choice or decision. They were revived and trained and instructed. She wondered what did happen if someone they selected as a Retriever were revived and instructed and then they refused to go through training. She Irnagined many were just grateful to be alive, to be given a second chance—even in Irna’s case, plucked from a miserable little life to live in the extravagance she chose and without rules, limits boundaries.

And Channing Jane Majors would be lying to herself if she said creating misery for Irna was not a new part of her goal. Because, fuck it—her life out there, as dearly as Channing kept it, was becoming less meaningful in the face of true and pure evil. Channing hated the undeserving, she only respected dignity. Angel, whether he was supposed to or not as a Retriever, had behaved with dignity, grace, and—for the most part—treated her with respect. As a human being and not just one of BOA’s science projects, as the rest of them.

And more than that, she wanted to know. She wanted answers, to learn what all this was about. And that might just be a part of training.

“Alright. Let’s get you into master's house, Majors. It will take some petitioning, but hopefully that wont take too long.”

He casually lay back against her legs and she rolled her eyes, but again, allowed it. For now.

“Oliver might be crashing in at any point. He was worried. I think he felt that he should have helped you since you helped him. Survivors guilt gets amped up when the one who died saved your life.”

She smiled a little, in spite of herself. It was an odd feeling to consider Oliver a friend, someone she’d barely spoken to. But as she had to continually remind herself, everything in here was different. This was nothing like the outside. She realized that she had willingly chosen to embrace it when she’d committed the utterly barbaric and insane actions that had landed her here in this position. “He’s a very nice man,” She said, a phrase that outside she only uttered as a diplomatic front for a wellspring of caustic insults that she really wanted to say. This time, she meant it.

She wondered if Oliver would consider her differently if she did make it to Retriever. She hoped not. She would have to show him differently. Show them all.

“Other than that, Irna would like to see you. She brought flowers, so you don’t have to feed your waste disposal this week. That’s another perk with being BOA’s lapdog. You won’t have to deal with someone barging in on you. BOA’s in your head all the time, just like the prisoners, but at least you get physical privacy. If you want. Privacy isn’t a must.”

“I won’t be seeing Irna,” She said. Defiance. “Unless it is in a public place.” What she meant was in one of the common areas where people were constantly milling about. Not that they would stop her, or be able to. The way Oliver told it, nobody did because nobody does. “She is nothing, I would never give her the pleasure of an audience. Perhaps if I make it through training. But only then.”

She ruminated on his comment that BOA was in your head all the time as a Retriever. She had been correct not to ask him certain questions before, then. It wouldn’t look right for him to discuss them. Oliver and other prisoners were her best chances for information. Though it was unlikely that BOA would take any sort of action unless they really thought you were somehow a threat—and how could you be? At a moment’s notice they could turn you off permanently like a malfunctioning computer.

“I’ll apologize for real, you know, when the time is right. For breaking your heart.”

She waved his statement away. “You did me a favor,” She said, “As far as I’m concerned. I was hoping that I was dead already when it happened. I did everything I thought that I could to be taken by anyone but fucking Irna. I don’t know if you understand, or if I can explain it. I don’t remember much about that fucking horrible night, but all I remember is that even when I was running, I didn’t think I could truly escape. I would have gone back willingly with anyone but her. It hadn’t needed to have come to that if someone had just stopped her.”


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #80 on: September 15, 2013, 05:19:37 pm »
Not so easy was right. He'd already started. Like with all loopholes, you would have to be ready to fight for your cause. There is no procedure for thinking out of the box, and there definitively was no defying BOA. He just had to jump to this rule and that law to get to where he wanted to be. It just so happened that this was all unrepresented, and as such would be ripe for exploration. He only had to get in before they made decisions about it that would benefit them rather than himself. Irna had been chipper when she woke up from the fall, they said.

That conversation had been whack. He had blinked to life, falling asleep somewhere between the fatigue and the multitude of chemicals he'd ingested to do what he did. Ass in the air, robe open, probably. He woke up to the side, but still in the space between the inside of the Complex and the prized outside. They had hurried Channing in, and Irna was patched up. She sat beside him, muttering something with her arm bound. He guessed her slurring was from having been shot and her own cocktail of pills. With Irna, there was always the possibility of a syringe as well. BOA cleaned her up, body and mind, but old habits die hard. He wondered sometimes if that wasn't the only thing she begrudged her bosses, that they had taken away her vices, her flaws. It were one of the few things that made the woman tolerable, her consistency to whatever cause she had. To him, it couldn't be madness simply because it looked too much like it. Didn't mean she couldn't be yokel stupid sometimes.

"Not easy. But you lived in the city a few days ago. Then you were trapped in here forever. Then you escaped." he couldn't help but extend the verbal pat on her back. It was a feat, after all. "I'm starting to think none of the things you do are easy." Wasn't that the truth. John Maclaine. He'd sell that to BOA, have no doubt. She was Retriever strong where it counted. Trouble was, she wasn't Retriever weak where they needed her to be. Mostly it would just be a matter of 'Better with us than against us.'. She'd seen outside. She was a wandering rumor, protected by their own rules. Leave it to BOA not to have a procedure for successful escape.

Her smile, sudden and genuine, caught him by surprise. Angel was confused as to what had made her lips curl when she mentioned Oliver. Ah. He supposed the guy had deserved that. If he'd been here to see it that might mean a lot to him. It had been Angel's idea that he go out and run with his new foot to get rid of some anxiety. It had been a little underhanded, but not malicious. This conversation was a bit sensitive, Angel had known around when Channing might wake, so he had simply made sure Oliver was not here, probably still on the treadmill or showering.

She wanted to avoid Irna. This was also easy to understandable. He didn't think this would happen. It could not be done. The redhead had her way of bulldozing through things when she wanted what was on the other side. BOA liked to humor her. Her selling point0 wasn't delicacy. Despite the obvious correlation between trouble and the two women meeting, Angel found himself doubtful that BOA's would be able to stop her. She had passion for this now. Her teeth were blood smeared and her heart had been set. He'd been caught up in her casual play, been object of her possession. This was different. Deeper. And Channing felt it too. Irrational polarization. "You could try." There was no mockery in his voice. That was a fact. He would not mention the results he predicted.

She was clearer when she off-handedly forgave him. Hard to hear when you're the one saying it, maybe. She would have died to spite Irna. In so many ways they were star crossed, then. Steel in Channing's eyes when she said those things. She meant it as much now as she had endeavored it in the night. Cold calculated truth. Thinking back, her not wanting to meet Irna had sounded more like an oath than a deceleration. It worried him. It made him morbidly curious. More reasons to build Channing up as a Retriever. As it was now, she was terribly out-gunned in every sense of the expression. The thing she had going for her so far was probably Irna's feelings toward her. If she had been another prisoner, Irna wouldn't have thought twice to terminate her. "Let's get you yoked then." His knuckles brushed her chin.

"It's not so much to learn as it is to endure. But that's classified until you get to test out." Motormouth or not, there were some things BOA had physically shut for him to divulge. Retrievers were useful, but they had a strange position, truly in the limbo between outside and The Complex. BOA kept their dogs on a leash, collars with spikes inward. It is because of the sheep that the heard dog exists. So while they ate better, slept better, they would have no value without the body of cattle they helped control. Prisoners were nurtured to some degree, for what they could give. Retrievers could not produce.

Oliver smelled like soap. New comfortable clothes. He had been a little ambitious with the machine, and reaped the reward of a blissfully emptied head but also a rubbery feeling in his legs. That in itself could be a reward. He'd gotten used to the thought of physical exertion, even if applying that philosophy when he was staggering off a slowing treadmill had proved harder than to think the thought. He'd get there. This damned foot would get him there. When Angel was in, the door was unlocked. Oliver couldn't get in by himself, which was both encouraging and troublesome. Not like he had other things to do during his day, and Angel wasn't always there. Oliver didn't want to sit outside like a bum.

Now it was open. There were conversational voices coming out from the room. Light eyebrows raised and he hurried in through the modest quarters to see her. Angel smiled from where he lay, lifting one hand from cradling his own head to wave. Oliver smiled widely and leaned down before he realized that things might be getting too crowded for Channing. Angel seemed to pick up on it, extending that formerly waving hand. "Help me up, would you? Channing got a little frisky but she's alright now." Oliver had learned Angel's way of talking and nodded, pulling the brunette up and away.

"How are you, Channing?" He was surprised at the worry in his voice. He thought the reassurances Angel had been giving all day yesterday had been enough. "Do you need anything?"


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #81 on: September 15, 2013, 05:24:53 pm »
“Not easy. But you lived in the city a few days ago. Then you were trapped in here forever. Then you escaped. I’m starting to think none of the things you do are easy.”

There. He’d done it again, she wondered whether purposefully, or whether he’d simply dropped all pretense in light of the way she’d shown herself. Trapped in here forever. He could have been hyperbolic, of course. It didn’t matter whether true or not, being kidnapped and trapped here would seem like forever, what with your goal being 1,000,000 clicks and the trick of having to spend them to survive. But he could also have been being truthful, maybe on accident. Maybe Retrievers were supposed to make it seem possible. After all, outright telling a prisoner there was no game, you’re just stuck, enjoy—it would make them less pliable, less willing to cooperate. More suicidal, perhaps. Harder to accept the new lot in life without some hope.

He was thinking that none of the things she ever did were easy, and she thought that perhaps he was right. After all, wouldn’t it have been easier to simply comply with Irna? To put on the vest and follow her like a lapdog? To take the brunt of whatever it was the vest offered? Yes. It would have been easier. It would have been easier not to get an education, easier not to perfect and hone her skill. Easier not to play the game outside—and didn’t you have to? It wasn’t just about proving your worth in your field, making yourself a person of value. You had to make yourself available. To make friends with the right people.

And in here, she had decided that Irna was the wrong person. Perhaps there were a few who thought of Irna as the right one to make friends with—but that was out of fear. Channing Majors with a name suitable for a Major League Baseball player made friends with people who helped her get ahead. People who would give her that ever-more-necessary glowing recommendation. And while earning the trust of others, she would slowly show herself to demand the same respect and integrity she demanded of herself.

No. None of that was easy. But she had promised herself that few things worth doing ever were.

He was surprised at her, and she was surprised at herself. But a human could be capable of incredible feats of survival in the face of death. She’d watched many a murder show where a victim described their survival after insane attacks—one in particular, a woman whose lover suddenly snapped and started hacking her to pieces with a butcher knife thinking she’d somehow poisoned all the water streaming from the taps. He’d butchered her—but she’d escaped with her life. It was kind of like that, Channing supposed. When it came down to it, like Paul Sheldon in Misery, a similar story of survival by fucking nutcase, when you asked yourself Can You? the answer always had to be Yes I Fucking Can.

“It’s not so much to learn as it is to endure. But that’s classified until you get to test out.”

His statement came as no surprise to her, and she said nothing. This entire place was built on what one could endure, it seemed, whether Retriever or prisoner facing your daily tests—the tests which were called such and yet she wasn’t entirely sure what they were testing. And yes, classified—which was why she’d thought better than to ask. No sense in putting Angel in anymore delicate situations until the time called for it. She had a sudden and frightening thought that at any point until now, any of his actions could have caused BOA to pull that trigger and Angel would be dead for helping her.

And yet. They never pulled the trigger on Irna. Channing’s countenance darkened at this thought. What the hell was the deal there? More suspicion on her part against BOA. If you could nuke a Retriever at any point, then why was she allowed to behave as she did? If all it took was lifting a finger—and people died every day, BOA had their pick of the litter for new Retrievers, and considering they had plucked Irna after an overdose in a trashy trailer, they obviously were not terribly picky, the Retriever supply out there was endless—then why bother with any of them going outside the lines at all?

Channing felt now that there more questions than ever, questions that were beginning to feel more pressing the more time she spent here. She wasn’t entirely sure how much she was willing to accept about this place without more information.

Oliver shattered her thoughts, and kindly Angel requested to be pulled up. It was getting crowded—for Channing, anyway—and she was beginning to suddenly feel indecent in the ugly robe. She pulled it a bit more tightly around herself in self-conscious way that would have made her laugh had the circumstances been perhaps different.

“How are you, Channing? Do you need anything?”

To her surprise (again—she was just full of them) she smiled brightly. She got a bizarre sense of pride at the fact that someone she had only just met—though, again, in the insanity that was BOA—was so concerned for her. She felt different and felt rare, like something The Complex almost never—or maybe just never—saw. Perhaps it was simply the fact that she—not BOA—had given him a second chance, and BOA had allowed her to, and had allowed Angel to help her in so doing. She guessed they could have stopped it all at any point, but they let her save Oliver. She had once thought to herself that they’d brought the wrong bitch in here, and more and more she was suspecting that was correct.

She laughed a little. “I guess I’ll need clothes. And some coffee. And hell, this little prison cell is pretty damn boring. I’ll need to do something about that.”

Channing tread carefully, not wanting to let Oliver in on the plans yet. She was hesitant—as Angel had warned her in those first few moments here, Retrievers weren’t exactly well-loved in this joint, for the same reasons she had desperately considered killing Angel upon their first (also this is your second day not your first if we’re to be picky this is just the first day you remember) meeting.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #82 on: September 15, 2013, 05:26:00 pm »
Oliver did the fantastic feat of extending his arm just right toward Angel without taking his eyes off Channing. Angel took the hand and hoisted himself up, intentionally placing Oliver's balance away from him, but not so far that he wouldn't recover with a compensating step forward. In many ways Green Eyes was empty. Not uncommon here, but Angel had never seen it up-close. A mechanism he understood, though. If all you did was collect clicks, then every waking hour would be work. He'd known people that left themselves outside of their professional life. From what he'd seen, Oliver was waking up, getting invested in this world again, letting it become a part of him.

Angel throat filled with laughter that he wouldn't breathed when Channing closed the robe tighter around herself. It wasn't a secret that anyone wanted privacy, but the act itself, and the emotion flitting over her was so honest it tickled him. As he'd suspected, things were crowded. If Angel hadn't been so desensitized to his own worth he might have sympathize with her. Oliver seemed to have the opposite problem, in that he was so invested in the newly woken that he didn't notice anything else. His question had reflected as much.

Angel looked in time to see Channing smile. She hadn't allowed it, she just felt it. Before that, he'd seen some shadow in her. Like something bitter pooled in her mind. Oliver had chased that away with his question. Did Angel wear that slight darkness now, he wondered, well aware of his tendency to believe in cool and act red-hot. Ah, let the blond have it, he convinced himself. It was good to see him smile after so many long sighs and lowered shoulders. Worried to say the least. Surely few things could have stopped Oliver from asking about her condition now. He nodded at her answer, seemingly relieved to see her high spirits and hear her laughter.

It was a good sign that she wanted to make her home here better. With her it was not as it was with people like Patric. She wasn't giving up. She was making a fort. And to be honest "Yeah, it would almost look intentional if you were one of those flux hipsters." he looked around as he took steps back, generous with that desired space. "On the outside," Outside the complex. "this kind of minimalism wouldn't come cheap." he smirked and ran his finger over his brow. "But I won't have to tell you--" They eye under that brow flared when she decisively told him without sounding it out, that Oliver did not need to know. He should have thought of that himself. Why were his lips so loose around her? "Because, eum, you could just buy a magazine." He didn't have time to silently gloat at his sub-par save before Oliver continued his part of his conversation with her.

"I know a guy who trades in furniture." Oliver said with a smile. "You know, if you have something to trade. It's currency here, like were back in olden days." He looked over at Angel who gestured back at Channing. Oh yes. She wouldn't have been in here long enough to have heard. "Some time ago there was a rumor that we'd be able to trade clicks with each other on a larger scale. That didn't happen, so now we trade things we have instead." He shrugged. "It doesn't help with your clicks that much, but it's more fun, they say, sort of like bartering."

Angel huffed as he took the two steps needed for the door. "Or she could just pay for some new stuff, Ollie."

"BOA doesn't like trading. Doesn't want us to have our own currency. The dogs have always been against that." His chin was high as he spoke. It would be apparent to Channing that the two men had become familiar enough for this level of debate during her time asleep. "That's why Angel doesn't like it, I think BOA controls what he feels." A straight handed gesture to the taller in the door frame. It had the Retriever laugh as he touched his shoulder to said frame and nodded in agreement, with a bit of challenge in blue eyes.

"Okay. So does this friend of yours trade in expansion?" Oliver frowned. "Or wiring?" Angel's turn to jab his chin. "Or is it in-fact just moving around things of equal value?" The Retriever started walking back. "I hear you even determine the value of your trading products depending on the number of clicks you paid for them. Way to challenge the system, rebel." Oliver narrowed his eyes at the retreating boy before he was completely out of sight, still in the living room, or in the kitchen, rather. He turned to Channing.

"You can't get everything. But it delays having to use clicks." He laughed. "Angel jokes, but it is a bit of a rebellion. It's the only thing I have been interested in since I got here, before you." He put his hands in his pockets. "It's good to see you're feeling better." Angel stuck his head in, annoyed.

"Are you coming? I think the lady needs to put on clothes." He looked at Channing with a 'right?' in his eyes. Nonetheless Oliver seemed to have gotten the message, getting closer to the exit.

"I'm sorry." he said quickly, more concerned with getting scarce then forgiveness for the time being. "I'll come back with your coffee."

And they would, the two of them, after having gone to The Bar Café and back. Angle would have a particular smile on his face when Oliver held up the cup of a black, two sugars, the complete opposite of what she'd gotten when she was there with him. "Just like Angel said you like it."


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #83 on: September 15, 2013, 05:28:30 pm »
She listened as they discussed trading, happy to see that some sort of relationship had formed between them beyond their former acknowledgement as prisoner and Retriever, but she felt a pang of dismay on Oliver’s behalf as Angel shot down his talk—though Oliver took it well with laughter. This was another good sign. She thought that it was nice to see someone laugh—genuine laughter—someone learning to make the best of it. She supposed trading was one of Oliver’s answers to Can You? He confirmed as much by saying it was one of his few interests.

And of course BOA didn’t like it. Allowed, but disliked. Of course they didn’t like it, as Oliver plainly stated it, was a form of rebellion and control. A way to avoid spending the clicks people racked up. But of course, if BOA ever felt someone was getting a little too high, they could always descend upon them with a test that required a high-priced item. Or was unsurvivable, in which case, they got a tidy 400,000k for revival. She wondered if this was a fact lost on the traders, or if it was another thing people grew to accept.

Angel managed to get Oliver off, and she waved at them.

She was again thankful to be alone. Thunder echoed—she wondered if she was hearing just the thunder outside, or if BOA had manufactured some over the loudspeakers as well.

Channing knew that her remaining time was precious. Were she to make it as a Retriever, as Angel had said, they were in her head all the time. If she started to become close to some kind of solution or betrayal, one that had a chance of being successful, they need only to pull the trigger. And yet, horrible thoughts still consumed her in that there seemed to be no real goals for BOA. Even if they were testing the sell of memories for use in the outside world, how did it really serve a purpose?

And again, with the auto-kill of a wayward Retriever—she suspected it must only be available for those who tried to abandon BOA while they were supposed to be out Retrieving. Otherwise, Irna’s trigger likely should have been pulled ten times over.

She then noticed a few pairs of jeans and fitted black tee shirts and a supply of undergarments waiting for her on her plain and dull bureau. Maybe a little freebie from BOA, “Sorry about the clothes you just bought the other day.” She wondered if they still had the torn fragments they’d surely had to cut away as they repaired her shredded body. She dressed and went to her tiny bathroom to comb her hair. The few makeup utensils she’d gotten the other day were there, too. As before, being clothed and somewhat prettied made her feel a bit more herself.

but who are you really?

Channing again stared at herself in the mirror, unable to answer. She thought not for the first time that if she told her former self all that would happen to her, she would not only not have believed it but collapsed into callous laughter. Her, really? Holding another woman close with the intention of letting her kill her?

She lifted the black tee shirt to see only the old scars from the accident, nothing new. No numerous stab wounds. Channing remembered how it felt—like nothing. Adrenaline and pure will and hatred masked the feeling of the absurdly sharp knife slipping in and out of her like butter—over and over. She had felt nothing but grim satisfaction—victory with every stab as her own life ran out of her and over that sick and horrible Irna.

who are you really?

The wrong bitch. Whatever else she had been before, this still rang true.

And Can You? Yes. Every time.

She had proven this over and over, and it was a sense that grew stronger with every second she considered her situation. Before, her situation had been one of desperation. Denial. Grief. Now, Acceptance. And while most of the prisoners in here became complacent when they reached acceptance, Channing herself became more dangerous.

The first order of business would be to get them to pull that trigger on Irna. She would decide what to do next after that.

The men returned and she went into the combined kitchen and living area to meet them. Oliver handed her a coffee the way she only drank it when she was visiting a friend who didn’t have any sugar substitutes or any manner of getting it the way she wanted it. She stared blankly at the plain drink, and Oliver’s “Just like Angel said you like it,” And Angel making little attempt to hide a clever smile she recognized well.

“Yes,” She agreed. “Just how I like it. Did you have an eventful trip to the Café?”


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #84 on: September 15, 2013, 05:31:59 pm »
Angel's cheeks tightened to pull at the skin of his jaw when she looked at the cup. His mouth small and his nostrils flared in amusement. He wondered what she was thinking. In all honesty he'd probably thought of this joke for the entire trip back, and that would be why he found it so entertaining. Self hype. Nonetheless, when Channing took the cup and agreed with a voice he imagined to be hiding a frown, Angel couldn't help but chuckle as he passed Oliver with a pat on his shoulder.

Oliver didn't notice Angel's sudden glee and readily let go of the cup when she took it. "Dodged a couple of Faithful on the way back." Oliver passed her to get to the kitchen. He'd been helping himself, but he was well aware that he couldn't anymore. "Can I have a glass of water, please." It was casually spoken. And he'd wait too. He'd been increasingly thirsty since his near drowning experience. Maybe it was like with the foot and his new found love of running. It was the oldest destructive mechanism, to want what had once been at odds with you. Channing wouldn't say no about the water. He remembered being enemies with a kid in fourth grade. He'd come home to him to wrestle it out. The other boy had greeted him by the door with a glass of water. That boy, with a flimsy headlock, had grown up to be one of the people Oliver missed.

Angel liked her like this. Normal clothes. It was the real her in some sense. Not that The Complex let you keep many protective layers. Risen from death like himself, she'd taken this first morning better than he had his own. Angel made sure to close the door. Eden was still squeaky clean out there. They'd seen the serpent. Channing had invited it to swim with her, after saving Oliver. The thought was worth while. Did Irna know her role in things, did she plan things out? She couldn't have planned for this. Wouldn't have allowed it if it was in her hands. "I'll have one too, straight." he said to Oliver.

Yes, the trip had been fine. No drowning this time. No having to see Channing leap into the water and color it red with Oliver's blood. Things happened around her. She'd become the initiator of the biggest events BOA had to deal with in a long while. The only thing that fazed them, the only things that could possibly affect men that had made themselves into gods were pieces of themselves. They had their rules, worshiped them because it made them into something they craved to be; fair. Total freedom, even for the creatures that made BOA, was a frightening concept.

And there, smack inside that stabilizing nucleus, Channing had lodge herself. She'd rebelled, but it was Irna's fault. She didn't have a choice. She had been caught and been on her way back for whatever punishment they wanted. He knew that and tried to put a stick in their wheel. A bullet in her heart. Now she'd died and technically it was on BOA's technical-inclined hands. She was on their radar now. A sore little spot. He had been insubordinate for causing this. But they'd have to admit to a whole lot of things if they followed up on his small rebellion. He wasn't Irna with her endless grace. But he wasn't Simon and his unoffending existence either. In that moment, he had to react.

"So. What's going to happen next?" Oliver asked, catching Angel's train of thought without a ticket. Angel had taken his place on the edge of the table, as always, and shrugged before tossing a quick glance at Channing. "I bet Irna's still a problem." Angel had caught him up, or confirmed, that Irna was a bit of a screw-loose with a fixation for Channing. "And I bet BOA's got their hands full with this deal. I mean--" Oliver shook his head and pulled at the back of light, loose locks. "it's all crazy, isn't it?"

Angel clucked once with his tongue as he concentrated on the problem. All the truths swirled in his mouth. He sucked them down. "She's always a problem." he muttered with a gleam of nostalgia in the left side of his left blue as he stared on a patch of the floor, further away, hands behind his back to support himself against the table. "Always." He knew what he had to do. BOA would have to move soon, or he would. Either way, this were happening times indeed. "Don't worry too much." He looked over at Channing, if she wanted to take over.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #85 on: September 15, 2013, 05:34:06 pm »

He politely asked for a glass of water, and Angel said he wanted one, too. She waved her hand again in that dismissive way and nodded a Yes, Go Ahead, as though he had been silly for asking. “What’s mine is yours,” She said to both of them. Channing once would have been outraged at the idea that anyone she had known for just a few days would come barging into her space. Once, she would have thought the only proper way for them to do things would be to ask, even for a glass of water. But now?

She was different and things were different. She had dropped so many of her professional, rigid pretenses. So far, Angel and Oliver had proven themselves to have her best interests in mind, and she had so quickly come to have the same feelings. Channing thought of how easy these sorts of things tended to fall into place in the outside, too, even for simple things like the first day of school. She had been The New Kid switching high schools between her 9th and 10th year, and she and another girl in the same situation immediately banded together and became friends. The friendship hadn’t lasted long and the girl had ended up switching to a different school mid-year, but the principal was the same: it was far easier to form bonds with people when the stakes were higher. When you were similarly situated.

Though the three of them came from absurdly different backgrounds, Oliver with his years in The Complex under his belt, Angel with his rebirth and Retrieving, and Channing herself a bizarre mixture of the two in many ways—there was a common thread that strung them together. Suspicion. Even if Angel couldn’t verbalize it or even really think it, there had to be some shred of it there.

Oliver, then: “So. What’s going to happen next? I bet Irna’s still a problem. And I bet BOA’s got their hands full with this deal. I mean—it’s all crazy, isn’t it?”

And Angel, “She’s always a problem. Always. Don’t worry too much.”

Channing sipped her coffee, wondering how could they not worry. Instead she said, “Well. I have some options for dealing with that particular problem.” Hesitated. Oliver and Angel seemed to be getting on, seemed to be feeling the same unspoken connection she was feeling with the two of them. She didn’t want him to react badly, but if he saw that Angel was one of the Good Guys—and that Channing was most certainly, perhaps his mistrust of Retrievers was starting to wane. She had a way with words on her side, she continued, “I have been given the option of trying out for Retriever, and I might do it.”

In spite of the fact that she’d already confirmed to Angel that yes, she would try, she decided to test Oliver’s reaction with an I Might.

“Of course, I don’t know what happens to you if you don’t make it. At minimum they probably give you the option of selling your memories of the process as far as you did get or,” She shrugged capriciously, “I don’t know, dying.” The word meant nothing to her. Not anymore.

“I’m thinking I could be of better use in that kind of position.” She was careful. Very careful. “And then it would be Irna dealing with me,” She said, making a smoking hand motion to ask Angel did he have any cigarettes, or were there any left lying around here, “Not the other way around.”
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 05:35:19 pm by paris »


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #86 on: September 15, 2013, 05:37:18 pm »
Oliver didn't think too much on her allowing him to take water. Angel watched him gather two glasses and fill them, drinking one quickly before refilling it along with the other. That guy was parched. With a twirl that felt graceful but was in-fact childish, Angel pulled out a chair and got seated on it, for once. He looked at the glass Oliver brought him and rubbed a finger against its still moist rim as he laid his head, cheek down on his other hand to look at the stilling ripples. Maybe he hadn't been thirsty. He counted the prisms that lived in every fold he could find, in the glass and in the liquid. It had meant something, 'what's mine is yours'. A response to Oliver's overly polite request, maybe. Angel didn't linger on it.

Oliver thought Angel seemed sullen for a while. Distorted light marrying the black of his pupils into the ring of blue and then smudging that mixture. Maybe the Retriever was actually frightening, and not somber in mood. It would be insulting to somehow distrust him in that way now, after having seen him loose an embarrassing amount of times in poker and taking it pretty well. He took a seat opposite of Angel and sipped his water as Channing let them know she had some kind of contingency for the problems he had presented. His heart beat faster for some reason. He swallowed more water and looked over at Angel again, who straightened to listen, as well.

Angel caught the other man turning away just as Angel's attention was directed to him. A smirk. Oliver was still awkward around him, but they had long since accepted each other. He was a funny guy in theory, mainly because of his discomfort with everything that wasn't Channing. Angel wondered what hanging with Oliver outside of The Complex would have been like. He suspected it might be harder to get even this depth in a connection with him, when he felt safe in his routines. Without knowing it he agreed with Channing, that great circumstances could form great bonds.

Channing shared that there was a possibility for her to try out as a Retriever. Angel leaned back and picked up the glass finally. Oliver was surprised. Honestly surprised. The wide eyes and the slightly rolled forward and opened jaw not carrying any other emotion or prejudice. Maybe that was what she liked in him - it seemed Angel liked to figure that out a lot, what she liked - that he was so innocent and always unintentionally honest, no matter if he tried to or not. Maybe that was what everyone should look for in friends.

Oliver gathered himself. His reaction hadn't been all that ballistic anyway. Channing was full of surprises. In a way he envied her, not for her chance at becoming a Retriever necessarily, but for getting to do anything that wasn't what everyone else was doing, which was biding their time and taking long farewells to their memories. Her position was more worrisome than it was envious, he discovered as he dissected what she had said. Yes. Channing hadn't been chosen by BOA yet. She was talking about a process. Oliver couldn't imagine that would be pleasant or easy. Not for Channing, not for anyone.

She had presented it as a solution to an obstacle. The power that came with being BOA's enforcer was a good bet when it came to her unhealthy relationship with Irna. Angel hadn't been very in-dept with it all when he explained, but Oliver knew that it had all started, and more or less ended with that plague of a redhead. He kept saying he wished he was there, to help in any way, but there were things in that woman's eyes that made him doubtful he'd be of any use, even to a person that had risked her life to save his. He sucked on both his lips shortly, and squeezed his glass.

Angel noted how stunted Oliver was by the news. He really did care. Channing was right in one of the alternatives she gave herself, as far as he knew. As Oliver directed his sight inward, probably at questions he had or simply to soothe his thoughts on the matter, Angel looked over at Channing, drinking her coffee. "It's usually the second one." he said. The glass was slid forward so he could lay his forearms over each other in front of him. "But you're in a complicated position. Usually they revive based on files they have and then test you. If you're a failure then they simply put you back where you were, which means you wont 'b'e at all." Oliver huffed with some offended laughter. He didn't like the play on words on this grave subject. "As always, it's anyones guess, since they can't really kill you off like they would have me."

Oliver seemed cross on Channing's behalf. Angel didn't really know how he wanted to have been given the news. "We'll probably have to avoid Irna as much as we can until you can get accepted as a possible candidate. As you've notice, she's a bit of a favorite." He tsked and shook his head. Things would have been simpler if they didn't show favor. 'Fair' wasn't really an issue. He imagined Retrievers that had complained in the past were either there, in the past, or were served a hearty helping of 'is the fact that you're alive a second time fair?' for them to choke on. "And could make getting in significantly harder. Interesting as you are, we need some wind in our backs to fly this."

Oliver stood. "I think you shouldn't." He was clinging to specific things from both of them. To start, he'd be doing what he could with when Channing had said that she might do it, and not that she absolutely would. "It all poses a great risk to your safety for one. I mean, you're speaking of your life as means to a goal, a gamble." Fingers on the table, a cage of digits beside his own glass. It was a quiet way of slamming his fist, if Angel had to guess. It had an impressive impact. "It's not worth it." The blond seemed more and more flustered. "And you shouldn't be encouraging this, Angel. Isn't all this your fault anyway? You should keep Irna away from Channing, and that will be that, not explain the risks like it's a game or a sport." He lifted those fingers an inch and placed them back down, cementing the point, pinning it five fold.

Angel was about to offer something in response when the left side of his vision fluttered. He lowered his head to control the nausea. They didn't bother with niceties in this matter. He was beginning to doubt they'd ever extend him the courtesy of simple electronic communication again. Only a slight wrinkle on the left side of his nose would give away his discomfort, other than the salt in his mouth and the bile in his throat. "Well." He stood as well, had to fight the impulse to imitate Oliver's stance. And the urge to vomit. "You make good points. Sane ones." He looked at Channing. "They'd like to see you." He gestured to the door, intentionally avoiding Oliver's eyes. It would be a choice for her. Angel pitied Oliver.

Oliver sighed, the breath rustling in his mouth before that air was expelled. He tried to catch her eyes for a silent plea. "Channing. This is rash." He wanted to tell it was crazy.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #87 on: September 15, 2013, 05:45:57 pm »

“Just a minute,” She said to Angel with impatience. With all she had been through, BOA could wait.

“Channing, this is rash,” Oliver said.

She set the coffee down on the nearest surface, a cabinet. “No,” She said. “It’s not. I’m going to tell you something, because I don’t know how long it will be before we get to speak so candidly, if ever again.”

She moved closer, unconsciously adopting a somewhat intimidating stance when a particular writer didn’t want to hear what the editor had to say, what would make them ultimately successful. She was crazy, though Oliver had used the diplomatic term “rash.” And that was fine with her. She wondered if the sanity string had snapped when she’d seen Oliver under the pipe or when she’d made the decision to slit Irna’s throat.

“Perhaps you’ve gotten a little complacent,” She said, “After all, you’ve been here—what did you say, three years? Three years, Oliver—dodging the tests, scraping by, trading furniture, watching your loved ones on a little screen. Could you have touched the million by now? A long time ago? Have you, in fact? Or is this just easier? Over time, has it just become your way of life? You don’t wonder about the why of The Complex, you just exist. Is that it?”

She crossed her arms, could feel herself as though she were wearing her favorite black suit, $1,530, with the thin grey pinstripe. “In the business when a writer gets stuck like this, we call it a crossroads. Channing Jane Majors is at a crossroads. Some thrilling action has passed, and now the character has a choice. Continue on the story in the same vein as you, selling memories and buying bullshit and trapped in an apparently never-ending cycle toward the million—or move the action forward. There’s a fictional writer in a novel who talks about playing a game as a kid, a game called Can You? Somebody starts off the story getting a kid with a great moniker of Careless Corrigan caught in a trap. They pass around a stopwatch and when it’s your turn, they ask, Oliver: Can You? Can you get Corrigan out of the trap?”

She stopped a moment. Staring. Unintentionally cold but deadly serious, all the same. “You have ten seconds to answer, to continue the story. The leader asks the group, Did He? The group votes. If you Did, you get to stay. Get another chance to get Careless out of another trap. If the group decides you Didn’t, you’re out of the circle.

“When BOA asked of me Did She? The answer was yes. And now I get to continue the story. They’re going to ask me Can You? again, Oliver. And now I’m asking you—” just the same, it was just the same as though she were in the office with the big windows and ready to make a big buck, to push the hapless nothing who wanted to write a book to the next level— “Can You?

“Because I Can. And I have to. I’m not complacent, Oliver, and I can’t be here, in this place. BOA doesn’t know what else to do with me, isn’t that a laugh? The answer is yes. It’s a laugh, and it’s an opportunity. So, you decide for yourself, now. Can You?”

And she turned and stalked toward Angel, still feeling every bit like she was in that suit, Hell on Heels, ready for the second biggest fucking interview of her life.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #88 on: September 15, 2013, 06:01:39 pm »
Angel realized that he had intended to stress her, or that he didn't mind that fact, when she suggest he wait a minute. Oliver and people like Oliver had their very hammered-out selling aspects. You would never really be wrong with them, as them. That is the foremost reward of emotional minimalism. So Angel had been more unfair to Oliver than he'd thought, offering her this option, maybe forcing her in some capacity, by taking her life outside of the complex. She wasn't the one to look the other way at an opportunity at progress. And that's how he had sold it, wasn't it? Whatever temperature Oliver's feelings had, it was true that he was attached to Channing. It would be impossible for Oliver to enjoy her company now, when she would be gone for a while. To change.

Oliver instinctively lifted his head higher on his neck, upper back tensing at Channing's advance; her adopted demeanor. It was an important matter, but he had not really felt the extent of it when he protested. She gave it to him now, to understand. Oliver wasn't dumb, he'd had thoughts like the ones she presented, somewhere in his mind. The pretend he'd used to push those things back was solid enough that he could preform and feel most of the disagreeing reactions on his face with conviction. For a short moment he had decided to be offended. It would be easier that way. It would give him some ground to stand on and also an opportunity to combat what she was saying, about how compliant he was, without really having to take her words to heart. Maybe that would underline her points even more.

His mouth shaped a word of that welcome denial. It is all that is feasible. It is a good chance, a real chance. Walk the walk, keep your head down. We have to hope. And, of course, again; let's not be rash. Automatic arguments, simply the opposite view of 'Why?'. He even cast an eye at Angel for some agreement before he'd said anything. Before Oliver could answer her that his stay in the complex had been worth clicks, no matter the amount, and that these clicks were put toward freedom, no matter the amount of time, Channing continued.

Angel wanted to take a step back, find comfort against the wall, hang his weight there. But if he moved the chair would move. Noise. He didn't want to intrude on their scene. That would be the point of removing himself to start, anyway. Oliver didn't seem happy. There was fear there, when she asked the character of her little summary of the game. Oh, Oliver wanted to reply to that, even shook his head at it, but he didn't speak. Maybe because she hadn't asked directly, Oliver couldn't, didn't have to, answer. The thought of doing more to escape, or the fear of not doing enough, was a sore subject to anyone in here. It was the equivalent to 'Are you following your dreams?' or 'could you do more for your loved ones?' on the outside.

The more she asked the question, the more Oliver wanted to answer her. Angel almost spoke for him, when the replies gathered in Oliver's chest and pushed at his throat. Oliver couldn't get those out, he could only listen, and trust to the bravado that could be displayed on his face. Angel could see a version of the game here, when Channing turned and walked away from mute Oliver, leaving him in the basic kitchen in her new home. If this was that game, she and him had just voted Oliver out, leaving him by his glass and the standard table, to say his "Channing, I..."

He supposed they said 'Oliver Didn't' when they opened the door and closed it behind them. He looked at her, and didn't know what he was expressing, until he smirked and nodded. "Alright. You ready to meet the Board of Directors?" In truth he had no idea of knowing if there would be a meeting or not. They had all options of communication. His petitioning had paid off, but that still didn't meant they were important enough to get physical audience. He made a wide gesture as they made it to the middle of the corridor. There weren't many people around. "Usually I just get close to a wall. They tend to open when no one is looking but you."

To make his point, the white opposite them shuddered and melted away, forming an arched hollow big enough for both of them. Soundless, direct. Angel started moving quickly. "They usually don't close on you, but it's better nobody sees." Well inside the black space, which would be limited by a curved wall at about an arm's length from them, the path to the corridor would close as seamlessly as it had come to be. He grabbed her hand firmly. "Brace yourself, Majors." Two seconds passed, and then the floor fell with them.

They would land safely, their footing slowing to a stop. The space was familiar to Angel. Hah. An Angel under ground. Irna could make those observations when she was her most lucid. He pressed Channing's knuckle with his thumb before letting go of her hand. The corridors were not so fancy here, not so clean. Most of the walls would be gray to begin, run through with metal veins and panels. It was all to keep The Complex the flawless paradise that it was. 3D printers and misdirection could only make for so many wonders. "This is the staff area." he said dryly. "Break room's over th..." A man in cargo pants and working shirt, all black, came around the corner. Angel had to hold back the impulse to place himself between the worker and Channing.

"BOA wants you to use this." he said and had started to walk away before neither Channing nor Angel could ask any follow-up questions. It was a co2 syringe. Fairly clear what she was supposed to do with it. There was a throb jutting out at the corners of Angel's lower jaw.

"It's probably because they haven't basically rebuilt you. I don't see how this can be permanent since we're just going for a talk, but BOA likes to be in your head." He touched a finger to his neck. "You put it here and then just push the button." Then he'd take her along the halls. Everything was practical, sparse. Most of the Retriever work load wasn't done here. He was prepared to catch her, stayed close. The way their relay could mess with your vision, not to mention your sense of hearing and it's connection to your balance, could be a whirlwind. He'd of course never tested the temporary thing. He wouldn't know that a man's voice would speak to her while her vision flicked from blue and red to normal.

"Channing Jane Majors. You will follow this corridor past the red doors. Turn right. There'll be a gray door for you two to enter."

And the voice would be right of course. The room would be what could be expected, judging from the rest of the halls below The Complex. Practical. Exposed wire. A wooden table in the middle, its oval shape and sturdy built the only exclusive features in this admittedly large room. Around that table would be seemingly normal people, some of them in work attire, greeting her in metal chairs. After all, who would you be, if you could be anyone?

"Welcome." She'd recognize the voice now. He was wearing a mailman's shirt and hat, and probably the shorts too, under the table. His eyes were set deep. Thunder gray, with accompanying black bags underneath for severity, aided by the shadow of the hat. "You would like to become one of our Retrievers, I hear. Would you like to state why?" No niceties. Despite his every-day demeanor, he did seem like the current authority.


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Re: a wretched wonder
« Reply #89 on: September 16, 2013, 01:50:22 pm »

When the floor dropped suddenly beneath them, she thought she ought not have been surprised, and yet her heart still leapt into her throat. When it was over, he squeezed her hand slightly before letting go. This time she accepted this gesture quite willingly. Channing hadn’t been nervous at all, and yet, she now felt the same way she had when she’d had to appear before a panel when going for her Masters’ Degree to prove herself worthy of earning the education—except now she didn’t have the benefit of being well-dressed, nor the benefit of a package containing all of her work and efforts. No notes. No nothing.

“This is the staff area,” Angel said with the vaguest hint of distaste. She could imagine why. For all the glory carefully constructed above them, this place was dank and pitiful in contrast. He started to say something else, she was only half-listening, when someone she did expect appeared.

The imposer passed her a CO2 cartridge and told her to use it. The cartridge was cold in her hands.

“It’s probably because they haven't basically rebuilt you. I don’t see how this can be permanent since we're just going for a talk, but BOA likes to be in your head. You put it here and then just push the button.”

In a space of seconds, desperate to clear her mind, she conjured the memory of the near¬-empty North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, 5AM. She focused solely on this memory, that picture—the sky mostly dark with thin strands of pink trying to force their way through, the sound of the ocean and its barely-there waves on the shore, the cool feel of dry sand on the bottom of her feet.

She injected herself. The pain lasted seconds, but she could handle pain. This she knew.

The world was suddenly tinted with blue, and everything seemed darker, almost more pleasing, then bled with red tints only before slowly normalizing. She felt a similar Novocaine rush in her head as with selling memories, but this time the feeling trickled down through her neck, her shoulders, her arms, her chest. She thought for a second she couldn’t breathe, but that feeling passed just as quickly.

“Channing Jane Majors. You will follow this corridor past the red doors. Turn right. There'll be a gray door for you two to enter.”

She heard the voice as clearly as though it had been spoken right beside her, and she wondered had she injected herself with those nano robots she’d read something about, robots that were quickly changing her own chemical makeup. She was thankful they said “you two,” thankful they wouldn’t yet force her into this alone. Her feelings of preparedness were fast slipping away as she clung to the image of the beach.

They entered the door they were told to enter.

“Welcome,” A man seated center to the table, among other professionals and tradespeople of varying degrees—but not just a mailman. She almost lost her beach and had to choke back a darkly amused laugh, as he could easily have been her mailman, one she saw every day and often said hello to, who she’d once given a coffee on a particularly cold day.

Without giving her time for another thought, he said:

“You would like to become one of our Retrievers, I hear. Would you like to state why?”

They asked her a question they were likely just as unaccustomed to asking as she was to answering. As she understood it, few if any possible Retrievers had the pleasantness of answering such a question—the were revived from death and given their new role, and it was no matter if they didn’t want it, they could just as easily go back to being dead.

“The Complex fascinates me,” She said, almost unaware that she had said it. There was no lie in her voice, “This world is ever intriguing. People are pushed to their absolute limits daily. People make their own way—I’m sure you’ve heard of The Faithful—” Channing said this with a touch of satire, hoping to elicit even a flash of amusement in one of their eyes. She then said, with honesty, “If I’m going to be here, I want to understand it. To be a deeper part of it.”

The waves continued to lap at the shore of the beach in her mind, she didn’t dare go to the truth buried within the recesses of the strength of the mental wall she was trying to hold. She had a chance to find out now whether the escape was a pipe dream or not based on their reaction. If someone questioned her, asking why she didn’t hold out for escape, hold out for the million, she was ready to answer truthfully. It was a part of why she had mentioned the Faithful. Some already had the option to leave, and they didn’t. What difference did it make what fueled a person?