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Chaotic-Systematic

The Dining Room

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a part of Chaotic-Systematic, by AiteCipher.

Lunch is served— the same way as always.

AiteCipher holds sovereignty over The Dining Room, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

242 readers have been here.

Setting

The dining room is more a cafeteria than it is a formal setting for eating, but most of the inhabitants of the Cipher Complex have come to call it their best— after all, it's the best they have. The ceilings, as in most of the buildings, are high and topped with thick-glassed skylight. It's airy, large, and mostly devoid of color, maintaining its air of sterility to as high a standard as the rest of the buildings. The dining hall itself lies in the outermost ring of the circular wall surrounding the complex; it curves in a semi-circle around the kitchen and serving area, which are nestled in the center of the curve. The room is thin but lock and dotted with tables, chairs, and the occasional potted plant. White sun spills in through the skylights onto the white, polished stone floor and over the slim terraces above it.

The kitchen, which is attached to the dining hall, isn't generally a place that the residents are able to enter. A small sliver of it, however, is accessible— this is where food is served, cafeteria-style, in the large heating bar at the very back of the room. To the far left is the dish window, where it seems that broken plates and glasses go to die— they have a tendency to just disappear, among other things.
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The Dining Room

Lunch is served— the same way as always.

Minimap

The Dining Room is a part of The Cipher Complex.


Setting

1 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler
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Rowen clutched the piece of paper in her hand as though it would fly away if she loosened her grip even a little. Its edges pressed into the rough skin of her palm, and she registered a vague feeling of pain, but it changed nothing— she still stared blankly at the table in front of her with her hands in her lap. The curiosity nagging her was an overwhelming thing pounding in her mind at the back of her head, but she'd managed to suppress it for long enough. A few more minutes and another pancake couldn't hurt. She couldn't have anyone noticing her today, could she? She raised her head and reached to sweep her hair to the side, slipping the folded piece of paper into the single gathered strap stretching up from the left side of her top. It might have found a better home in the body of the shirt, but one of the many disadvantages of looking like a child was that she had no cleavage to hide such things in. She wondered vaguely if wearing looser garments might help, but the thought had soon evaporated. The clothing rations would be later today, and she couldn't waste her six garment coupons on such silly things. One of the straps to her favorite tops, a simple black number with lace accents, had inexplicably torn last weekend— and she had no idea why or how, since she usually kept it in its drawer outside of special occasions.

Rowen stabbed her fork into her pile of eggs. They were better than usual— saltier, maybe? Whatever the case, she loved them. She polished off the last bite and set into her pancake with a half-smile.

The chatter in the room bounded up around her. She's sat by herself at the far corner of the balcony, but more people were piling in now that it was less heinously early in the morning. It was the groggy sort of morning greetings uttered by the kind of close friends she's only ever watched from a distance. She peered over the railing, watching as two blondes and a pair of boys who looked like brothers took a seat at one of the central tables. One of the tussle-haired blondes, her face done up a little too much even though she really was very pretty, wrapped her arms around the taller of the two brothers. Between them, they had two trays. Sitting down, the girls took their single plates to the boys' two. Rowen's face fell into a small frown. It had to take more energy than that, living. Even on days when she didn't plan on flying she'd clear out at least a full plate. Between dance and mischief, she did expend a lot of energy. It was a wonder she managed it at all.

She stood up and picked up her plate. She hadn't bothered grabbing a tray, as she'd filled only one plate. Rowen finished off the last of her milk. It was an important thing, given that she was not only female but had hollow bones well-equipped for flight, as well. She debated between leaving to read the note and sticking around to people-watched, but eventually she decided to stay; she could always read that tiny slip of paper she'd found wedged between the forks and the spoons, but people were unpredictable. In a way, that was what she liked about them, but in another, it was what worried her the most. She knew she could never really trust anyone just as much as no one could ever really know her. They were simple facts of the human condition. Every point of view was really so different from the others.

But people were so dangerous. Like fire, they were fascinating from afar— yet she'd never let herself be brushed by something that could burn her. It was better to just watch and keep her tiny piece of paper safe in her sleeve.

OOC: All characters should be coming to the dining room— just to kick things off. I mean, breakfast is always good, right?

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson.
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Rowen's eyes skimmed the room with an apathetic boredom. She leaned to one side, then another; was there really nothing to see? Down on the floor below, figures milled about, an ocean of twisting colors and tantalizing smells. They poured in through the doors and took seats at the long benches and tables, some of their faces puffy and red from sleep and others glowing with the strange glint of freshly applied makeup. It was, in a way, refreshing to know that the world hadn't ended when she'd found that strange piece of paper. None of them seemed alarmed. Perhaps everything was fine. Still, she couldn't shake the nagging feeling, the tingling on her skin that pricked up every time the note made a resurgence in her memory. She didn't like that things were out of order.

Searching for anything to take her mind off her worries, Rowen focused her gaze on the girl sitting— er, lying— at the table immediately in front of her. She was singing again, or perhaps simply talking to her creations. Whatever the case, the fact that she could say 'again' about the whole situation— that was calming. But oh, she was thinking about it again. Eyes back to the girl. She had begun stirring shapes in her food, mixing things together to form some thing or another. Syrup melted into other things until a form began to rise up. Though it was a bit disgusting, her mashing up food, the raw power itself was a thing of beauty. She loved the way that magic moved, raw and graceful.

Rowen's attention slipped back out to the crowds below. They'd all begun to cluster at one table, with some residents sitting on others' laps and others pushing in uncomfortably close to fit in. Socialites and their suck-up crews: those were the ones hovering around the table like flies to rotten meat. They could do what they wanted, and she couldn't judge them for it, but it wasn't something she could ever see herself doing.

Rowen leaned back toward the wall and let her wings stretch out behind her. It felt good after having gone to bed earlier than usual. Her hair was extra-wavy today, to boot. It was a nice irony to start the day off with. With beauty came pain. She'd considered doing herself up today just for the sake of it, but she was glad she hadn't. The day was already pregnant with enough change. In accepting it, Rowen had taken into her mind a strange sort of silence. She didn't like it. Maybe it was better to be uncomfortable and shifting in her seat. At least then she would have something to attribute her suddenly foreign feelings to.

The girl nearby had sat up by now, and she rocked back and forth in her seat, her eyes half-closed. What was her name? Rowen's mind grasped for the word, not even knowing if she'd ever had something to attach to the strange and fascinating girl she'd so often enjoyed watching. Something not quite to the back nor to the side of Rowen's mind pushed her: go meet her, she told herself. But she held herself back. It wasn't as though she wanted to associate with other people. Still, curiosity had begun to get the better of her, as there was something she had yet to find out. She groaned a bit, inwardly. For curiosity, she'd push herself.

Rowen was on her feet, now, the bangles on her bare feet sounding dull jingles over the sticky white tape on her ankles. Pad-footed, she made her way over to the girl's table with a friendly-enough half smile light on her lips. She wasn't sure what to do and paused for a moment, then turned and stood opposite the girl.

"I'm, um. I'm Rowen." She pushed the words out, wondering vaguely if the girl already knew her name. She was sure they'd never introduced; she scrabbled for an excuse to be talking to her, anyway. If it would get a name out of her, anything would fly. "You, uh, wouldn't have seen a bracelet around here, would you?"

Setting

1 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marcus Walker
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#, as written by Tash
A novelist once described a town, as seen by a young girl, as being made of paper, with paper people living their paper lives. They were two dimensional, irrelevant to the larger scheme of things. Marcus always enjoyed that idea. The people around him were paper, granted many of them were brightly colored, but in the end they were still just two dimensional. They, and their problems ceased to exist to him when they stopped talking to him, which, unfortunately, was not often. Even he was made of paper, and he had his own paper life. That life was the center of the complex society's social structure. He had paper friends, too, though right now he couldn't remember their names. They hovered around him, like mosquitoes. They were parasites, paper parasites, sucking the ink from his paper popularity. He tolerated them as he sat eating his breakfast, because his mind was elsewhere. Up on the balcony, Rowen was sitting by herself, eating her breakfast quietly. Had she received a note too? Or was it just him?

Marcus had arrived to breakfast early. So early, in fact, that he had already finished eating and returned his tray. He'd found the note, read it, memorized it, and burnt it to a crisp so no one would catch him with something he wasn't supposed to have.

Somewhere,
a desert rose blooms.


He mulled over the words in his head as he watched Rowen from below. Not somewhere, he thought. Right there. But about the note. It was short, unsigned, written in prose, as if it were an excerpt from a poem. Who wrote it? Who ensured it reached him? And why? It was so vague, it was almost taunting, as if someone had written it with the sole purpose of disrupting the routine just enough to get him interested, but not enough that anything serious would change. After all the years spent exploring this place, learning that there really was no way out, nothing beyond what he already knew, it was almost cruel to present him with a little slip of paper that hinted at the possibility of escaping his paper life. Almost.

Just then, Rowen moved. It was curious because A) it was Rowen and everything she did interested Marcus, and B) she was going to go talk to someone which, if you'd spent as much time as Marcus did admiring her from a distance, you'd know this was rather out of character. She did not like to socialize, which was one of the major reasons he did.

He wondered who she was talking to. Being the center of the Cipher social structure did certainly have it's advantages, chief among those being that you either knew everyone's name, or you knew someone who did. In this instance, it was the latter.

"Who's that?" He pointed towards the girl Rowen had approached and asked the girl who'd been hanging on him all morning(and the past fourteen mornings, and afternoons, and evenings). Riley, he thought her name was. She had a crush on him. Apparently two weeks of ignoring it had only caused it to grow, a fact which irritated him. He got the idea that people were like wounds; they fester.

"Who cares? She's a freak." Riley replied after taking a second to come up with the insult. She was not intelligent.

"In here aren't we all?" Marcus felt the urge to light Riley's bright red hair on fire, but he reasoned that he might go blind if it were brighter, or redder. He wondered why Riley was considered attractive. Her atrocious hair (which was a mix between candy cane red and muddy orange) fell to about her shoulders, and looked awfully thin, with split ends all over the place. Her skin had too many freckles, which makeup only accented, but it was so tanned from being outside most of the time that it looked almost like spotted pumpkin pie. Her eyes were a whiny shade of hazel-yellow, and if colors could be whiny, hers definitely were. Would he date her? If someone gauged out his eyes and cut out her tongue, he might take her for lunch.

"Her name's Felicia, but she calls herself Fibi."Riley admitted after some thought. I don't know what her ability is, and I don't care." Marcus looked at her condescendingly. "Why do you care, anyway?" She shot at him, "I'm your girlfriend, you're only supposed to care about me!" This was news to Marcus. He supposed that would be why she had been buzzing around him for the past two weeks. At this point, the small crowd of their friend's had grown quiet, eager to hear Marcus respond.

"That's a good question, Riley." He begun, and a smile crept on his face. "Why do I care about you?" Her face was priceless, and Marcus wanted to laugh, but he kept his cool and continued, "You're a bitch, you're an idiot, and frankly, you're sub par in bed. You should probably just leave." Riley's mouth was dropped, almost comically, but she said nothing. She looked dumbstruck, or maybe it was just her face.

"But we never eve-" She started, before Marcus interrupted.

"Say what you want to save face, but it doesn't make it any less true." She didn't respond, and instead just stormed off, her cheeks almost as red as her hair. Two other girls followed. Weird, she had friends.

"Harsh bro." The voice belonged to Brandon, Marcus' right hand man. He was built like a brick house, except instead of rooms inside, it was just more bricks. And it was steel plated. Surprisingly, Brandon was the smartest of the people Marcus hung out with, which was why he could remember the name.

"The truth hurts. Being the kind of person she was just makes it sting longer."

Today was quite out of routine for Marcus. A mysterious poet sent him a note, he discovered that he had a girlfriend, and dumped her, and he watched Rowen actually go and talk to someone. Hell, if she could do it, so could he.

Eventually.

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson.
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"I'm, um. I'm Rowen.”
Her big, brown eyes shot upwards towards the pretty girl, examining her from head to toe. She seemed nervous, almost as if she has never introduced herself to anyone before; but she had to of, right? How else did Fibi know who Rowan was? Maybe she introduced herself to another long ago, and Fibi just so happened to overhear her, or maybe she heard others talking about Rowen and she inferred who she was; or maybe the blue talking giraffe and the green hippo who had anchors for teeth told Fibi who Rowen was. Either way, she knew Rowen’s name- if she still remembered how she heard about her, was a completely different, and hazy, story.

“You, uh, wouldn't have seen a bracelet around here, would you?"
If Fibi was a dog, her ears would’ve pricked up. She gave Rowen a slight shrug before holding up here finger as if she was going to leave or she was talking to someone; instead, Fibi’s attention turned towards her tray, she studied it intently before lifting it up, now studying the table intently as if Rowen’s bracelet could be hiding anywhere near her. Without another second’s ado, she dove underneath the table, on her hands and knees and leaving sticky hand prints everywhere Fibi went. Granted, people where staring at the two girls as she searched intently for Rowen’s ‘lost’ bracelet, but hey, at least she was putting the effort in to search for it. With a thud, a signal that Fibi’s hard head had hit against the table, she popped back up from underneath the table and searched towards her right of the seat, then to her left.

After no luck of finding it, Fibi turned her head towards Rowen and shook her head, causing the curls in her hair to sway messily back and forth. It was quite odd for Fibi to introduce herself to another girl; many of the time, people left her alone and she was quite fine- she only had one friend since she was here, but as time went on, the girl realized she could have much cooler and more fun friends than Fibi, who, most of her time, doodled on the walls of rooms or played with her food. She pondered a little more on what her introduction should be before she spoke in a small yet loud voice, “I’m Fibi.” If there was anyone sitting near her at the time, they’d either scooted down the table or moved completely. It was a slight side effect of being Fibi- whether it was a good one or a bad one depended on how she was feeling. “I could help you look.” She said, wiping her sticky, and now dirty hand on her sweater, thinking it might be rude to help someone with gross, gooey hands.

A small outburst broke out on the level below them, her head craning downwards and her eyes instantly spotting a guy, seemingly telling a cute red head off; her face becoming almost as red as the paint Fibi uses when she wants to paint flowers. She easily recognized the guy- Marcus- who wouldn’t? After all, he was the center of attention twenty-four hours of the time; he was often spoken a lot of by many of the girls. Some would say how utterly sexy and good looking he was and others would say how nice and cool he was; some would even give details of their fantasies – which always gave poor Fibi shivers of the icky kind. Sure, he was good looking, but he had a sort of air about him; you know the kind- the type a wolf has, or something a lion or a rabid dog has. Something that’s cool at first to look at from a far, but if you get too close, it’ll eat your head off and bury you half dead; not to mention if Fibi even thought of someone attractive, she’d probably forget about him within a few seconds to join her pink penguins or go swimming with the dolphins in her fantasies-or her room if she ever decides to finish drawing them.

Within seconds of dully looking down there, Fibi’s attention snapped back to Rowen. Rowen was smaller than she was, and prettier too- almost like a little dove; except with brown feathers instead of white, and with spotted wings. Ok, maybe not a dove, but defiantly like some sort of bird; perhaps a tiny snow owl? Fibi smiled at Rowen, as if saying, ‘nice to meet you’; for a mere second, her eyes shot down at the tiny, crumbled, and sticky piece of paper that was in her other, ‘clean’ hand before she shoved the poor thing into her pocket.

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson.
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If she could have tasted her own words, Rowen was sure her lies would have left a sour aftertaste like burnt meat skittering across the back of her tongue. As the girl held up a finger, her stomach twisted into something the size of a walnut; when she had asked the girl about her bracelet, she hadn’t expected her to have even stood up, let alone duck down and start searching for something that didn’t exist. Was this society in its purest form? At times, it seemed as though everything ever said was built on lies. Rowen knew she was no exception, but just knowing didn’t dissipate the imagined taste playing at the tip of her tongue. Not even the rich sweetness of the faux-maple syrup still clinging to her teeth could rid her mouth of the nauseating feeling that came with seeing her words jump to life right before her eyes.

It was, perhaps, something she was simply unequipped to handle. Maybe, Rowen reasoned, maybe lying needed to be taken in increments. Whatever the case, she was terrible at it. Her words, half-baked creatures brought to life with her tongue on a feeble whim, stuttered around like a puppy missing a limb. No doubt, it was her own stupidity that had gnawed it off. Like all crippled puppies, she’d probably have to end up shooting it to snuff out its suffering. The girl had hit her head on the table. This was the other half of the reasons why she didn’t talk to people. Nothing was ever perfect and simple like it should have been. Unlike a piano key, if properly tuned, she couldn’t know how a person would react if she hit him. She could, perhaps, use her rudimentary knowledge of physics to predict where he might fall, but his psychology would be something great and unknowable, and there was nothing like the unknown to make Rowen feel so powerless.

”I’m Fibi.” Words drew Rowen’s attention back from the depths of her thoughts. She glanced up, catching a final bounce of the girl’s curls as though they had just been shaken back and forth. Though it was messy, she really did have pretty hair. It was sunny and had the kind of arabesqued curl to it that looked nice as it moved— it was the best kind of curl; people rarely ever stood still. She would really make a beautiful dancer. And she’d gotten the name: Fibi. An odd name, but it likely wasn’t her given one. A small spark of success flickered through her mind. It wasn’t long, however, before the roots of her guilt made their resurgence, snuffing out her short-lived bout of happiness. She opened her mouth slightly, a quick apology cobbling itself together on the tip of her tongue, but Fibi spoke up, first. ”I could help you look.”

And then her attention was gone to something below. Never one to pass up the opportunity to learn something interesting, Rowen’s gaze followed Fibi’s to where a sort of feminine squabble had burst to life on the main level. A blotch of red hair easily overshadowing any other color in the crowd opposed someone more masculine. She had to squint a bit to see who it was. Marcus? From the telltale swirl of bodies around him and the silhouette of a hulking figure nearby, she supposed it had to be. Who other than their dashing leader would be able to tell off a girl with hair like that? She couldn’t hear the conversation below, but it was laced with bitterness and girlish whispers. All the girls loved Marcus. Even Rowen could grudgingly admit he was just short of perfect. Still, there was something in that very perfection that didn’t sit right with her. Maybe it was that he reminded her of the oppressive bath of white and right angles her life had become. Cipher was a huge place, a fascinating place, with what seemed like an endless maze of places to explore, but there was still yet a haunting sameness to it all. Her world was a paper-white perfection that never seemed to end. In that, Marcus and the Complex were one in the same: beautiful, utterly fascinating, and deeply unsettling.

Rowen had drawn her attention back up within seconds, her stomach even more twisted than it had been before. It was no surprise. Still, she wondered why the girl had even bothered to stick around— it was an obvious lie, as she didn’t know how she should react. When had she ever owned a bracelet? The only things to ever grace her wrists were compression wrappings and the occasional scribbled note. Create what you know, she thought to herself. It was a bit of a writer’s creed, and if there was anyone she could trust, it was a writer. Even with a blatant lie, the truth would eventually slip out after so many words. She wondered if the girl had picked up on her shoddy excuse for a conversation just yet.

But the girl was smiling at her. It wasn’t a smirk or a scheming smile; rather, it was a friendly one of the kind she was all too unused to. Rowen ached to just tell the girl the truth, but in doing so, she felt as though she’d be losing something. What that something was, she couldn’t begin to figure out, yet she found herself spewing lies again. They slipped off he tongue so smoothly. She didn't stop herself; she really did hate losing, and there was something about the girl's friendly smile that held her just a step back from killing the exchange. What she had started, she couldn't leave just yet. ”It must be gone for good,” She shrugged. ”If anything, I’m sure someone picked it up. I’ll just have to make a new one. Do you— do you know how to weave bracelets?”

[OOC] @Tash: I know you're not really involved yet-- do you want to work out some way of working Marcus in over PM? I don't want you to feel like we're ignoring you or anything. It's just proximity, ATM ^__^