Their captor it seems, is not only observing them from somewhere, through something, but clearly has a sick sense of humor. That’s the only explanation for why they’ve managed to even get as far as they have. Well.. there is another explanation but that involves miracles and a whole lot of wishing and even she doesn’t believe in that kind of bullshit. Accurate horoscopes were much easier to come by and much more believable.
They’re standing in an industrial size kitchen, no doubt used at some point to feed hundreds of guests. The windows are covered with thick sheets of metal, and their only option of escape seems to be a door on the far side of the room. She approaches it carefully, unsure of what might pop out at her from behind unexplored corners, and when she reaches it she gives the handle a turn and a pull only to find that it is locked. Of course.
“Locked.” She calls back to her companions on the other side of the room, though they’ve likely figured that much out from watching her. Beside the door is a scanner of sorts, the small light on its interface glowing angry red.
“I think..” She gingerly slips a hand over the area of the scanner meant for a keycard of sorts. “We have to find some kind of card to get out of here.” She turns back around, sweeping the area with her eyes. They had their work cut out for them.
“Well? Where do we start?”
He barely remembers what he’d been expecting to find behind this door, but it wasn’t really this. A kitchen seems almost… mundane, compared to what he’d glimpsed behind Door 3. But the sheer ordinariness is disturbing in its own ways. Iskandar thinks on pictures of abandoned amusement parks. It’s the same basic principle; an area that was once full of chaos and life, now a veritable ghost town.
“We chose well,” he says, all false cheer, “at least we’ll be able to make dinner if we want to.”
If someone hits him, he won’t be surprised.
Despite his flippant words, he gets to work examining their surroundings. Ju’s idea of a keycard calms him down slightly, gives him something to look for.
There’s a sink with some kind of block in it. A neatly ordered row of plates (significant somehow?) And then on the oven… he nearly overlooks it, his eyes sliding past what appears to be an ordinary timer, until he notices it appears to be more like a security system.
He tugs on the oven door and it confirms his suspicions. It won’t budge.
“Hey guys,” he says, “I’m pretty sure whatever we need is locked in the oven.”
And then he laughs at the absurdity of that sentence. Locked in the oven. What has his life become?
Anxiety began to consume Claire’s train of thought. Damn it, they had the perfect combination, but now they looked like they had no way to progress with this extra person who had come along with us. This wasn’t time to fuck around: at most they had just under eight hours to get off this airship safely before it crashes, and stalemates like this weren’t helping their case at all.
The group had gathered around Door  - initially this was a great idea, because it scared off anyone else who thought of interfering with the plans he, Ju, Eridani and Mersenne had made. But, because of that, the others had gone and made their own decisions as to what doors to go through. The time for negotiating had long passed: they had made a stern statement that they would be going through Door 1, and there was no way others would be willing to change their minds now.
Claire started nervously pacing infront of the door which stood in their way. God damn it. Why was this happening to them, of all people? It was playing out like a horror film, the five of them were as good as dead if they couldn’t figure something out. Desperation got the best of Claire, finally, as he was becoming too impatient to think for any longer, They’d be dead if they did.
Claire slammed his hand up against the RED which sealed Door 1, and a beep and asterisk registered that his bracelet had been confirmed by the device. Maybe they could luck out, by some blessing of higher powers. With nobody else willing to change doors at this point, as it would jeopardize everybody else, the only option Claire could come up with was for the Door 1 group to follow suit and just hope that it opens. They were running out of options - and this was the best one Claire could think of.
Penelope was, to say the least, surprised when Ju and the other two males had asked her about joining their group. While she was more interested in door 5, she had no qualms about investigating door 1, either.
The man called ‘Dusk’ looked rather distressed most of the time and he worried Penelope for one reason; he was a wildcard, or at least, to her. It seemed like he could react to something in an extremely unpredictable way, and she wasn’t entirely fond of that, especially in this type of situation.
The idea had crossed her mind that these bracelets were to somehow be processed onto this ‘RED’ and her assumptions were proved to be true when the rules were explained. Penelope wasn’t a a psychics expert, but she did have some degree of intelligence, which would prove useful for later.
When Dusk had begun to have a meltdown of some sort and unknowingly scanned his bracelet onto the RED, Penelope’s eyes widened in a moment; not in surprise or fright, but rather, in anger.
“ … Settle down, “ she said rather sternly as she looked at Dusk with her bright, red eyes. She turned to look at the other three members of her group and let out a small sigh.
“ … In any case… I think our only choice now is to proceed… And try to solve the puzzles to the best of our ability… Should we come across them… “
First there had been college memories.
Now there were high school memories.
For some reason, this feels like a horror movie version of that moment in science class when the teacher had asked you to pair up based on something completely arbitrary. Height, or birthday, or something equally random. (Iskandar wonders if it would have been better or worse if the voice had sounded like a teacher. Probably worse.)
Iskandar’s gravitated towards a group that seems… Well, he doesn’t know what they seem like, to be honest. But he knows one thing for sure: he’s ready to get this show on the goddamn road. If this ia a plane- and something about this setup seemed off to him but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it- and they are going to crash… Well, it’s better to avoid that, right? Better to go through those doors, even if there were probably dead bodies behind them, because that’s one room closer to an exit, right?
But the numbers are completely off. Unless they can find a #2 bracelet somewhere, they aren’t proceeding. He should have done the math earlier and hauled over someone with the number they needed. Even if it made it so another group was left behind. He tries to tell himself that, well, even if a few of them escaped the dirigible they’d be able to alert law enforcement about the others held captive. He brushes that sentiment away as soon as thought it up.
No, right now his primary concern is his escape, not altruism. He’ll help the others as convenient, and won’t go out of his way to screw people over for no good reason, but…. but he’s pretty sure he’s no saint, either.
(Somehow he’s upset by this realization of a human streak of selfishness. Even though he’s done nothing untoward yet.)
Not that that realization matters right now. He scans his number into the RED, and laughs as he does it. He sounds completely unamused, hollow even to his own ears.
(( at this point communication is really crucial you guys!! its hard when there are only a few people trying to work out the doors so everyone please make an effort to be a bit active/track the de999 tag/talk to others on their personals ))
((yes plz. let’s get this figured out))
Her previous suspicions about Eridani attempting to hide something are further proven by his strange behavior. Beginning sentences and suddenly cutting them short was the pinnacle of suspicious!! Once again she lets it go as this is neither the time nor place to interrogate him about whatever this d-word thing was and what it had to do with her terrible generic pop.
“Yeah, but that doesn’t explain why I feel like I know you!” Because it was incredibly unlikely that he was famous anywhere with that personality, but she’s reached her cheap shot quota for the hour so she stores that bit away for later.
“You know what forget it! I’m probably over thinking this, like I said before I’d obviously remember someone as annoying as you!” She finishes with a huff, crossing her arms over her chest, clearly annoyed. Talking to him was ridiculously tiring, and she wonders how much longer she’ll be able to tolerate conversation before she hit him over the head with a blunt object.
’I give myself half an hour..’
It is at this point that annoyance #2 decides to interject, and when he refers to Eridani by her nickname she finds it very difficult to hide her amusement. Her lips twitch and her cheeks puff up due to the laughter she is attempting to smother, but soon enough it spills out of her mouth— obnoxious, shrill, and mixed with snorts.
“Hck.. wow! I had no idea how ridiculous it sounded until someone else said it. But yeah that’ll work and don’t let any one else tell you otherwise. His name is Wetblanket oppa and you will refer to him as such.” She’s only half serious, but if she could convince a room full of 20-something people to call a grown man something so stupid well… then she could likely die happy.
She sobers up quickly enough, and once he’s speaking to her. She’s back to her former standoffish self, no trace of mirth in her face or voice. It’s almost as if her laughter from before had been some kind of hallucination.
“Let’s get one thing straight, you will refer to me as Ju and nothing else. I don’t trust any one here— neither should you— and the less information they have the better.” She pays no mind and offers no sympathy to how incredibly unnerved the boy is and how much courage he had put forth in just posing the question. Maybe on a good day she would have found it somewhat endearing, however today was not one of those days.
She steals a glance at door  out of the corner of her eye, and then the group gathered in front of door .
“Frankly, I’ll go anywhere but through that one.” Though she does not specify her frown is obviously directed at door . With that she returns her gaze to the nerve ridden young man before her. “So I guess if someone can figure out how to actually open them, and everything works out… it’s your lucky day. Don’t let it go to your head though! That delivery was terrible, Wetblanket oppa was barely swooning.”
From there the conversation goes incredibly fast and it’s difficult to keep up. All he knows is that Marjorie’s lost interest in talking about how the hell they might know each other. It’s probably just wishful thinking. Looking for a pattern in this might be no more than trying to find order where there is none.
Somehow, in the midst of everything, he gathers that the knowledge ‘wet blanket oppa’ nickname has spread to other people. Namely, that the guy with the number 2 bracelet seems convinced that that’s a nickname Iskandar would pick for himself.
It’s even better if the guy is unaware that people have been using codenames and he actually thinks Iskandar’s name is ‘wet blanket.’ His mother is a bit strange, but not that strange.
And if he thinks it it’s a codename… To be fair, it’s probably something Iskandar would pick if he was in a goofy enough mood. (He knows that he is, in fact, an annoying stickler for the truth. But, hey, there are worse things.) He’s already regretting the choice of Eridani as potentially too obscure a choice.
He probably can’t let Ju stick him with that codename, though. Just on basic principle.
Iskandar considers elbowing her in the side when she starts snickering and saying that, no way, it’s totally the right thing to call him.
“Actually, pretty much everything Ju says is a lie,” he says, smiling, a tad passive-aggressive. (Just a tad!) “I’ve been going by Eridani though.”
Oh, and there’s that question the guy tossed out about going through a door together.
“I guess we should wait and see how the hell we get into those doors in the first place.”
Were more instructions forthcoming or were they just going to have to guess?
With every word he utters her frown deepens and she thinks that her mouth might just fall off of her face once she’s done speaking with him. Well the jig was up now wasn’t it?
You’re a grown man! She wants to scream, she wants to grab him by the shoulders and ask him why a grown man has nothing better to do than listen to bad foreign pop music! Somehow she manages to control herself, but it’s mostly the fact that it would be even more difficult to keep a low profile if she lashed out seemingly unprovoked.
It shouldn’t bother her, but him claiming to be “familiar” with her irritates her to no end. It shouldn’t have (because that was her job, that was the magic behind her country’s entertainment industry) but it did. It wasn’t the first time someone had said something of the sort and surely wouldn’t be the last, but it made it no easier to deal with. God people were stupid— seeing someone on a few variety shows meant you were intimately familiar with them?
She highly doubted anyone would be tripping over themselves while speaking to her if they had any idea what she was really like.
“Yes, that would be nice for you wouldn’t it?” Is all she says. No point in completely alienating someone who seemed so desperate for her company, it could come of use later after all. “I don’t have any intention of following strangers into random doors thanks. Not yet any way…” The last part comes out in a sort of annoyed grumble, and out of the corner of her eye she glances at the door with  painted onto it. Where would it lead them? And did all three lead to the same place..?
The sight of the number one reminds her that she has some damage control to attend to.
Her lips twist into a smile as she turns toward Eridani.
“So! Wetblanket oppa! How bout’ we keep this newfound information about my super secret identity well.. super secret ☆~!” She’s using that sickeningly sweet tone again— somehow she finds it to be a bit more authoritative than her just being openly angry.
Iskandar’s been watching this whole thing with more than a little curiosity. Other than a vague sense of deja vu between him and Ju, this is the first real connection he’s noticed between any of these people. The only sign that there might be a pattern after all.
Urgh, scratch that. “Connection” is going too far. This guy seems to know Ju in the way people know the subjects of any random youtube video. IE; not that much at all.
And now his sympathies are torn. This newcomer is walking that thin line between “probably just socially awkward and nervous as hell” and “potentially creepy.” But it’s never seemed fair to Iskandar that shy people were regarded with more suspicion than outgoing people. (Despite his tendency to fall in with the latter group.) What would Iskandar have done if he’d notice a familiar face? What would a lot of people have done? Probably much the same thing, although he would have disguised it better.
But, of course, he could understand Ju’s thinly veiled frustrations. The burden of politeness was now on her, and how unnerving must it be to run into some stranger who mistook fame for familiarity? (Even outside of life and death situations, which this was shaping up to be.) Who knows, if she is famous maybe she’s been stalked before.
Great. Just great. What a wonderful situation.
And now Ju’s remembered him again, more or less ordering him to keep her identity secret. “Yeah, sure, okay.” He shrugs. Wonders if, when the information inevitably gets out (and it probably will) would Ju make good on her vague threats?
He thinks back on how his daughter had been going through a girl group pop music phase… thing. America was sadly bereft of that sort of thing, so she’d been turning to K-Pop. And as a responsible parent he’d been making sure innocent forays into youtube weren’t leading her to something like 4chan. Maybe that’s how he semi-recognized Ju.
“I think my d-” Wait. Nope. Noooope. Not bringing her up this early. Or possibly ever. Just in case. Momentarily he’s furious with himself. He tries his question again before he can blink. “I think if you’re so famous that must be how I might know you, huh?”
Or it’s all just a dead end. A sleight of hand. Power of suggestion could do that to you.
She doesn’t notice Eridani’s presence until he’s spoken. When he does, she dabs her eyes with the back of her sleeve in case of any stray tears, and snorts.
“Really not the time to make jokes like that, considering how true it might be..” But despite herself she gives him a wry smile, unable to hide her amusement. Damn, now he knew they had the same terrible sense of humor.
The smile is gone is quickly as it appears however, replaced by a frown as her eyes dart around the room.
“It’s scary unnerving though..if their reactions to dead bodies is something like that.. then what’s to say they don’t have any problems doing something like that to someone?” She voices her thoughts from earlier, grateful for some sort of emotional outlet for her pent up stress. Though she doesn’t trust him anymore than she does the rest of them— the only difference between Eridani and them is that he had already seen her at her worst. There was no point in keeping her act up around him, well not completely anyway.
It’s then that she notices how visibly shaken he is as well.
“Huh? What’s up with your eyes? You smoke a joint in between then and now? Well.. that’s one way to cope I guess.” She assumes he’d cried or something of the sort, but figures it’s better not to outright mention it lest she tread into territory she’s not supposed to.
Ju’s smile comes and goes as quickly. It’s as brief as someone shutting off a light that had been flipped on by mistake. Seems genuine enough. That’s something.
When she asks if their companions would be equally nonplussed at the thought of killing people, well, somehow his brain hadn’t gotten far enough to make that connection. But it’s a good point. He takes yet another look at their room- all these seemingly disparate people- and tries to find a connection. Couldn’t their abductors have been considerate and put people in t-shirts that announced how violent they were? He can see it now; ‘Hello, I have rage issues.’ ‘Hello I wouldn’t kill a fly.’ ‘Hello I’m a vegetarian. I also happen to be a serial killer.’
“I don’t know,” he mutters. “I think I read that only… 5% of the population are sociopaths. So we really need to watch out for one or two of us.” You know. Plus whoever’s running this… experiment?
Any other thoughts he might have had cease when they’re joined by a man who’s completely new to Iskandar. He seems to recognize Ju, possibly even calling her by her real name.
She’s been quiet for awhile, silently observing the 20-something other people in the room. Reactions vary, but it alarms her just how many of them are either completely unaffected by the sight of two mangled corpses and/or practically fighting to get a good look at them.
Her displeasure is written all over her face as her gaze drifts around the room. Their subdued reactions were worrisome to her, especially when considering the life and death situation put in front of them. If they didn’t flinch at the sight of a grotesquely murdered human being, what was to say they couldn’t commit the same vile deed themselves?
She groans and leans her back against the wall behind her, rubbing her eyes with the base of her palms. She’s tired, the air smells like vomit, and the noxious fumes of the bodies, and she has a terrible headache.
“God I can’t die, not here, not now..” It’s funny because she’s always told herself that death isn’t something she fears, and had even gone as far as to say she hoped she’d die young and never have to deal with the pain and suffering of old age.
But now that she had come face to face with the possibility of death, she’d found fear she had never known she was capable of.
Finding yourself alone in a traumatic situation is its own kind of torture.
And, despite being surrounded by people, Iskandar is very much alone. Although some had talked with him, and though all of them had put on a good show of being victims, to what extent were they trustworthy? What did he know about any of them?
He looks from person to person, mentally listing codenames where applicable. When he sees Ju, he pauses. She’s near-ish to him- they had still been talking when… that person began addressing their group- and she’s one of the few people he seems to be reacting to what they saw. An instinctual aversion to death… It shouldn’t be enough to make him seek someone out. But it’s all he’s got. Iskandar lost patience long ago for desensitized people.
He walks over to wear she’s standing, and then…
Well what can he say exactly?
‘It’ll be alright,’ sounds trite (and is probably false), and ‘are you okay?’… well, he talked to her long enough to know she’d probably punch in the face for that.
“Some of these people didn’t even blink,” he says quietly, to avoid being overheard. “What do you want to bet some of them are the type to watch Saw and think ‘wow that would be a lot of fun?’”
And then it’s as if the previous…. hour? or so? hardly mattered. As confusing and terrifying as it had been, it’s clearly an interlude to something far more threatening.
As they gather on the A Deck staircase lobby, being addressed by one of their captors (presumably?) does nothing to calm Iskandar’s nerves. The voice is so… cold. Matter-of-fact. It scares him more than if she had been laughing and taunting them. Whoever is speaking seems to view them as components to an experiment? Cogs in a machine?
Iskandar’s damn certain there’s no reasoning with them.
(Though, if given the opportunity, he’ll try.)
The mention of the Hindenburg is… odd. Maybe it’s an attempt to avoid thinking about how they are trapped on a plan that will crash in nine hours but suddenly he can only think of Leila and her studies. Towards the end of her life she was doing research on the 1930s - odd, because she had normally evinced more interest in ancient history- and he wonders if she had done any reading on the Hindenburg.
The door opens.
No one really says anything right away. A couple people seem to resist the urge to vomit (one doesn’t resist at all.) Iskandar… Well at first he sees the young age of one of the bodies, and prays it’s not his daughter. In a second he knows it’s not, and relief commingles with guilt.
But he’s not sickened in the same way as everyone else. As modernization marches on, people are increasingly separate from the facts of death and dying. Until a tragedy forces someone to see all the disgusting, depressing facts of loss close up.
[I’m sorry, but we need you to identify the body.]
[Can someone else do it? It’s her. I was there. I know she’s gone.]
[Her parents are still flying in, so it has to be you. It’s just part of the protocol.]
Iskandar swallows and turns so no one can see his face. He wipes the back of his hand against his eyes and he hopes people just think it’s because he’s tired.
((p.s. adding flashback drabble things as pages on the sidebar
well there’s just one right now but
yep. it’s a thing i’m doing))
She can’t help but give him a wry sort of smile when he asks her about his new nickname. She’s so amused by the way he words the question that she can’t even be angry at how terrible it sounds.
“It’s a Korean term used by girls when referring to guys older than them, to keep it simple.” There was something strangely nostalgic about the nickname, like it had been put to use before at some point. But she’d remember if she’d called someone something so ridiculous and attributes the feeling to the general strangeness of their situation. “But hey for all you know it could mean ‘huge flaming piece of needlessly argumentative defecation!” Bitter? Who? Where? Definitely not here.
When he mentions her being famous (secret or not) she can’t help but freeze up for the smallest fraction of a second. She’s done a few concerts in America but attendance has been limited to Asians and non-Asian fans of the obsessive kind. So in summary, either he’d know of her existence or he wouldn’t.
“How can someone be secretly famous? How does that make sense at all??” Even if he had seen her somewhere before, that still didn’t explain why she felt like she had seen him somewhere before. He obviously wasn’t famous. “Think about this seriously okay! If we both have this weird inkling of a feeling that we’ve seen each other somewhere else there might be some sort of connection between all of us—” Though she speaks of everyone in the room she points between herself and Eridani.
“And all of this!” She makes a sweeping gesture towards the rest of the room.
It is at that moment that the conflict that seemed to have been simmering down suddenly boils over the top on the other side of the room. There’s yelling and quite a few nasty words, and before she knows it the mouthy kid and the loud woman are at it.
“Well damn—” Is all she manages, her gaze fixated on the train wreck about to unfold. “Guess the betting pool is still on huh?”
He actually laughs at her explanation of ‘oppa.’ He thinks about asking her how she knows he’s older than her (and then pretending to be all suspicious about it because HOW COULD SHE KNOW?) But then, as if she’s read his mind, she gets in a dig about how he’s… argumentative, and his train of thought is completely derailed. “Korean would have to be a pretty impressive language if you could convey that many insults in two syllables…”
The idea that they’d met before is an interesting one. Of a surety they all must have something in common- it’s the only way this situation makes sense- but … he can’t see any commonalities. Other than the fact that they’re all, you know, alive and breathing etc. (Though, with the way some of them are fighting already, how long are they going to stay alive exactly?)
…No, he won’t figure anything out this way. Ju’s probably right, that this sense of deja vu is not something to be ignored. Maybe if he can figure out how the two of them know each other (maybe) then that could lead them in the direction of other connections.
“Hmm, well… We’re both from different countries, right?” he says, as the yelling from the other side of the room gets louder. “That probably helps narrow it down, I guess. In order to meet we’d have had to have been in the same country at the same time… So I guess we’re going to have to think about all the times we’ve traveled-“
He’s cut off as the fight turns into a physical altercation.
Gah, should I be intervening?
It’s a tough call. Iskandar’s not keen on being punched. But he feels vaguely responsibile for betting on a winner in the first place.