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Aris The rain could only hold off for so long. After a dry spell characterized by sun and sweltering heat, a southerly wind blows in menacing clouds, dark and heavy with water. Thunder rolls, booming across the desert wasteland, sending critters large and small scurrying back into the relative safety of their homes.

But not this critter. Aristide rides hell-for-leather up Gold Road, pelted by rain as the sky finally opens up into a torrential downpour. She turns her old horse on a dime at the last second to gallop up the drive to Fort Knox, pulling up just short of the newly-installed fence. Lightning strikes, and her horse rears. Aris stays astride. "Doc!" the dark haired woman calls toward the house with an urgency that suggests someone's been hurt, or worse.
Bart It's Alberta that notices the horse, the woman on the back of it, the old coot's eyes are sharp still. She wraps herself in a canvas poncho and shuffles out through the rain and unlocks the bolt of the giant gate before swinging it inwards to allow Aris and her old horse to tromp through the muddy road to the porch. Quinton is stepping out in his arm brace, the door open, holding an umbrella like a Sir. As the woman finds the porch, Alberta's caught up and the help is ushering her inside while taking her coat and moving to stoke the fire. One slips upstairs to summon Bart. The bzzzztZOT in the attic is indicative of his work.

A few moments later, Bartholomew is descending to the main floor while removing thick rubber gloves and squinting from behind his goggles. "Aris? Is something wrong?"
Aris Aris rides to the house, jumping down from the saddle and not having the presence of mind to acknowledge either Quinton or Alberta, or even tie her horse up before moving inside. She hardly waits to see the scientist before speaking, "Fuckin' exploded, Bart... You wouldn't fuckin' believe if you saw..." she says as she comes to him, soaked to the bone and rambling like a crazy person. Her eyes are wide, pupils small despite the darkness the storm?s ushered in. Rain drip, drip, drips off her onto the spotless floor.
Bart Bart blinks from behind his goggles and his cracked specs, finally lifting his hands up to push the goggles up ontop of his head. The blinking hasn't ceased, it's just easier to see. She's rambling and babbling about explosions and all the man can do is nod once, "Circular craft, crash landed, possible little green men, then the ship exploded before you could get close enough? Mm." He already knows this story very well. "I believe their craft have anti-tampering measures which self-destruct when carbon based life forms get close. Milton was able to retrive one of their firearms," his eyes are shiny at that mention.
Aris "Not a ship," Aristide interrupts him with more force than she means to, shaking her head full of wet hair. She closes the distance between them, hand reaching out to grasp the front of his shirt as if it might make the seriousness of what she's about to say absolutely clear. "People. /Me/." Her hand is trembling.
Bart Bart is still stoic faced and unflappable in the face of hysteria. Then she's interrupting his bubble and grabbing his shirt to drag him closer. The shake already having spotted his face and glasses, there's a thinning of lips and a vaguely annoyed look as he takes them off and starts to clean them, rubbing the lenses with a dry spot of his lab coat. "Ah, the Symposium has accelerated their efforts. This is not entirely unexpected, I imagine they are going to continue to roll out more improved models." He makes a face and reaches up to take her hand and sloooowly pluck it off of his shirt. "Please, sit, have some tea, it will calm your nerves. I will tell you what I know."
Aris Wide gray eyes watch as Bart retains every bit of his composure, sliding down to look at he removes her from his shirt. Her wet fist leaves a dark mark on the cloth. "Are you not hearing me, doc? I saw /me/. Out in the desert. I /exploded/." Her lips part, as she's suddenly at a loss for words. All there is to do is to sit like Bart's suggested. She picks whatever seat's closest, collapsing into it, dampening it the same way she had his shirt.
Bart "I am hearing you loud and clear," Bart says as he follows her to the seating area and then settles into the chair opposite her, as is polite and proper. Alberta comes by with tea while Quinton runs a towel on a stick over the floor to start mopping up the mess Aris has left behind. "What you saw was a Synthetic, a creation of the Symposium, an apparent off shoot of the fabled Institution. Their sole mission is to replace everyone with a robotic version to create an idyllic Wasteland. Do not ask me how these people call themselves scientists with these cockamamy underpants gnome hypotheses. Step one, replace people, step two," he shrugs, "Step three, profit?" He nearly rolls his eyes. "Anyways, I suspect there will be more found in the coming days, steel yourself and be wary of those you meet. If you distrust, find some way to verify humanity. Currently they do not bleed properly. Though that may change," he considers quietly as tea arrives, and he takes his saucer before plucking the cup up for the first delicious sip.
Aris Alberta and Quinton and tea go unseen thus far by Aris, who gazes into the fire while she listens to Bartholomew speak. There's a little shake of her head before her eyes come back to him. "Thought the Institute was just the bogeyman, stories to make kids go to bed at night," she murmurs, frowning. But then he's talking about the preferred method of verifying humanity and she scoffs. "What, I'm... s'pose to shoot people to make sure they're human?" Her lips are parted again, incredulous.
Bart Bart shakes his head and notes, "They are apparently real, and their kissing cousins now reside in our neck of the Wasteland." He blinks and his eyebrows lift some over his glasses, "I suggested no such thing, unless that is absolutely necessary. But think like a human being. Unfortunately they are anatomically correct, though I'm unsure if functional, but they are meant to pass as humans. I will have to see if I can shrink the EMP technology they used to bomb Dunwich," he wrinkles his nose and focuses on Aris again. "Are you alright, did the explosion catch you? Or is it simply shock?"
Aris It's clear talk of anatomical correctness, functionality, and EMPs goes in one ear and right out the other. But Aristide trembles at the word 'explosion'. It's odd, since things that go 'BOOM!' are among Aris's favorite. Perhaps an explosion of meat assembled to look exactly like her is decidedly less fun. She shakes her head at Bart's inquiry, gaze drifting to the floor where her boots have made puddles. "Not hurt, no," she nearly whispers. Her cowboy hat drips, drips, drips more slowly now.
Bart The chair will be reupholstered by the morrow, surely. Bart is watching her as she trembles and he tilts his head some. "Could you not tell that it was a robot when it...erupted? How convincingly human was it? Were there organs? Blood?" He's suddenly very focused.
Aris "Saw red," is all Aristide can say, shaking her head a little. She's shaking her head a lot today. Maybe the not-Aris was far away when she exploded. Maybe the actual-Aris has blocked out the details. Either way, it's all she can relate to the inquiring scientist. Wide gray eyes come back to meet his gaze through those broken glasses. "You sure it ain't just a hallucination? A side effect of the, you know..." She motions vaguely in the direction of Bart's attic, where he's used lasers to heal her more than once.
Bart Bart taps his chin a few times and then seeks that teacup again to take another slow sip. "Well, that could have been the internal fluids, but so far they don't bleed like humans yet. We can only hope that vein persists and we can always tell who is who with..perhaps a little knick instead of a bullet?" he offers to the trigger happy woman. He smiles though, a bit of fondness for the raider princess who has yet to leave him alone for long. "I assure you, it was a robot, not a hallucination. Be prepared to see more...strangeness. And perhaps one day you'll run into the aliens," he beams a grin of confidence. Because she will. Eventually.
Aris The dark haired woman sits there for a long time, brain processing these strange things Bart's telling her. You can almost see the wheels turning. It almost look like she's coming around to the idea of robotic dopplegangers following her around in the desert wastes, but then the doctor's saying that A-word. Her lips part. "...You're fucking with me," Aris says, but there's no real punch to it because, at this point, she knows Bartholomew Knox isn't exactly wired to go around fucking with people.
Bart Bart watches her quietly as he takes up his tea again, not so pompous as to go pinky up, but it's still a prim action. "Of course not, Aris," he sighs just a little disappointed that they are circling back to that subject again. "I assure you, there is no reason for me to lie, here I will show you the weapon," he says and moves to set the tea aside and stands to go fetch that alien blaster. When he returns, he settles the gun on the coffee table between them so she can inspect it. "Unless you know the terra-bound manufacturer of this weapon?"
Aris Bart's thrown down the gauntlet, and now here it sits between them on the coffee table, looking less like a gauntlet and more like a fuckin' blaster. Aristide's eyes study the weapon first, watching the way it gleams in the firelight, before she reaches out to pick it up. She holds it as if it were a bomb, gray eyes shifting to glance at Bart over it. "Where did you get this?"
Bart Bart settles back into the chair that was opposite hers, taking up his teacup and saucer once again. Raising the cup to his mouth he quenches the parched dryness before smiling just a little, "Milton found it, actually, and he nearly died in the process as the flying saucer exploded. I still have some samples of the goo he was covered in during the aftermath. Unsure of how much information I'll be able to glean from them. But that blaster is promising. We are planning to change it over to ammunition it can use before I begin to modify it."
Aris 'Flying saucer'? 'Goo'? Aris appears to be one part intrigued, three parts horrified. Her teacup might as well be on a different planet, the way it sits and steams and goes without being drunk. "In Texas, we didn't have..." she presses a hand through her hair, looking for the right words. Finally, she settles for, "Well, I never hearda such crazy, supernatural shit there."
Bart Bart observes quietly as she witnesses the gun first hand, when she's done he gestures to Quinton to take it back up stairs again and return it to Milton's things. There's a blink and a lift of his eyebrows. "Oh, I'm sure you had them in Texas, but the place is huge, it's entirely likely you never encountered them or someone who had. Or perhaps you have run into folks who've seen them but simply disregarded their accounts out of hand?" He offers. A smirk comes, "Hardly supernatural when it is real and perfectly natural."
Aris Aristide watches the old man amble back up the stairs with the gun in tow, a frown marring her pretty features. "What're you gonna tell me next, doc," she says, "That werewolves and vampires exist too?" But her tone is less sardonic than the words should be. It seems Bart's no-nonsense ways have convinced her that there's at least some bit of truth to all of it. Or, at least, he believes there is. She watches him sipping his tea in perfect composure. "Bet you fuckin' love this shit. One more puzzle to solve."
Bart Bart blinks and then lifts an eyebrow. "Well the mutants have brought back centaurs, we work beside and hunt what amount to zombies, I'm sure there is a creature out there that resembles a wolfman, or perhaps one that sucks the blood of living beings. Certainly we already have cyborg imposters. You will have to face it, Aris, we are living in a sci-fi dystopian post-apocalypse." Sorry, too meta? He sees her and when she starts getting accusational, he just smiles, "Perhaps," that coy smile says YEEEESSS.
Aris "-You- live in a dystopian... whatever," Aristide argues, sliding her Stetson off her head and holding it in front of her. It's finally stopped dripping, although it (and everything else she's wearing now) is still wet. "I live on the second floor of a bar 'n brothel, blissfully unaware of anything more supernatural 'n the sounds one of Miss Kitty's girls makes when she's gettin' done right." Gray eyes meet blue squarely, studying them before moving to stand. "Anyway. 'Appreciate the conversation, doc, I..." Her fingers play idly along the brim of her hat. "Well, it's good I ain't going crazy. Thought I was."
Bart Bart meets her gaze when her sassy retort comes in the form of 'no-you' but still he finds himself amused, smiling a bit at the corners of his lips. "You're staying down at the Golden Saloon for now? Excellent, I'm glad you've found lodging," he says. Then the rest of her statement hits him as her eyes meet his squarely and he actually has the decency to blush a little bit, his mouth forming a soft o shape. Unsure of what to say there, he says nothing! "Of course, Aris," then he pauses, "Bart, you can call me Bart like everyone else," he insists again, still flustered by it. "You are quite fare from crazy, I assure you. Just do be careful? I would hate to lose one of the few people beside my brother willing to associate with me," he is genuine in that as he smiles and moves to stand with her, clearly to see her to the door like a gentleman.
Aris Finally! Frustrated that she couldn't fluster the man with conversation about fucking aliens, Aris settled for unsettling him by just talking about fucking. At his insistence about his name, the dark haired girl shakes her head a bit. "'Bart' doesn't make your face screw up like 'doc' does. 'Til I find somethin' else that makes ya do it, I'll stick with 'doc'." She's moving in the general direction of the front door now, half-grinning, but it fades a bit when he tels her to be careful. She turns back to face him. "Oh I'm sure all the girls wanna associate with you," Aris teases softly.
Bart Bart is the picture of flustered nerd. Giving an almost-scowl as he tries to get his face to un-screw at the mention of all of that. Still, he reaches the door a half-step ahead and pulls it open so that the fresh breeze from outside wafts inward. He is practically grumbling by the time she finishes her explanation. "That is...that is simply ridiculous," he stutters a little and then goes back to scowling at her half-grin. Course she's gotta turn back around and he blinks from behind those cracked specs, "Surely not, you haven't even met Milton yet, you'll understand," he assures her, convinced of the younger Knox brother's charms. He's seen them work okay!
Aris The fact that Bart's face is screwed up just like she's talking about earns him a lilting laugh, one that'd have been impossible before she came to sort her head out. Maybe it's not all sorted yet, but, she ain't shaking anymore. "Don't need to meet him," Aristide muses, leaning her hip against the doorframe as she studies him and works on getting that wet hat back on her hair. "I got a stirrin' for someone else." Her gray eyes are bright with mischief.
Bart Bart is studying her in the light, the profile of the outside making a striking contrast for such things. Her laugh comes and he smiles some, good she must be feeling better! "You don't? You do?" he asks confused by the parlayance of her words, knowing their direct equivilents rather than their implications. He's looking at her with furrowed brows trying to understand, and he gets to a mistaken hypothesis, "Oh, you mean Mr. Brigham, is that why he was so angry?"
Aris Aristide's nose wrinkles in distaste. She might've even punched Bart's arm, if he were someone else. But he's himself, and so she settles for laughing. "No, 'lthough thanks for the reminder, I'd nearly forgotten about all that." Raising her brows and looking over Bart's shoulder into the house as if it were some sort of conspiracy, Aris leans close and whispers near his ear, "It's Velma." Now she's really grinning.
Bart Bart seems bewildered by the distaste on her features, but he soon understands a different view point and adjusts his leanings accordingly. New data! The conspiracy of it all the hush hush tones, he feels like he's learning some deep secret, and when it turns out she's in love with his gun she sees a jealous man for the first time. Stumbling over words and huffing a little bit before finally uttering out, "That is preposterous, you've only fired her once, how could you have a stirring?" he sounds incredulous. Lust at first fire?! Illogical.
Aris She'd expected confusion, dismissal, or perhaps even a smirk. But jealousy? Aristide's tickled pink. Her smile grows. "Ohh, doc, sometimes once or twice is all it takes, then yer hooked. Even reckon she likes me too, sometimes, though it's hard to tell." Reaching her hand up, she gently readjusts his broken glasses after his huffing seems to have displaced them. "C'mon, we could -share- her?" She just can't stop poking the bear.
Bart Bart is now both flustered, jealous, and his face is all screwed up. He huffs and shakes his head, "Preposterous," trying to simply dismiss it all and then she's suggesting that they share her and his eyes widen. "I don't know what you are on about, Aris. Velma is," he pauses and tries not to get dreamy eyed, "Spoken for," he grunts once and then looks at her rather pointedly. "You are an intriguing, strange, confusing creature, Aris," he gives his official diagnosis it seems.
Aris The diagnosis doesn't disappoint. "Well," Aris drawls, pushing a few stray locks of wet hair away from her face as she watches him transition from flustered to jealous to almost clinical. "What about you? You spoken for?" She's still half-grinning, although it's faded some, perhaps to relate that she's not kidding. Not that he'd know kidding from a hole in the ground. Lightning flashes behind Aris, illuminating her dark hair a brilliant red, and thunder booms several seconds later.
Bart Bart seemed to have thought that the conversation would be over with that, but she's still standing there, looking at him like that. The illuminations just make him stare a little bit with a tilt to his features. Watching. "Spoken for?" it takes him a few moments of running it through his head before he finally offers, "As in emotionally entangled with another person?" He shrugs a shoulder slightly, "There is my brother I suppse?" but familial links hardly count right?
Aris 'Emotionally entangled' earns Bart a little grin, but soon she's shaking her head a bit, looking like maybe she feels the slightest bit guilty leading him down this road. Like asking a blind man to lead you somewhere he's never been. "Sure. Family's important," Ariside finally relents, and it sounds like she might even mean it. Her fingers go to toy with the locket around her neck, and then she's shifting off the doorframe to head outside again. "Thanks for the elucidation, doc," she calls to him from the front porch.
Bart Eventually Bart might get the hint that she's interested, it might take Milton applying a clue by four to his skull, or Aris herself. But there is the distinct possibility that eventually he'll get it. He nods firmly at her assertation of family and then goes into straight rapid-blink mode when she drops that five-dollar word. "You used elucidation..properly even!" it's compliment, surprise, shock, and excitement all wrapped into one. "Do please return soon? I should like to see you again in short order," he insists. Because now she jsut lept like three categories of interesting. Right into fascinating.
Aris Wrangling her paint horse down in the rain-soaked yard, Aris hops up into the saddle from the left side. Bart's words earn him a pretty frown as she gazes up at him in the doorway. "I'm crazy, I ain't stupid," she calls up at him, resettling that wet cowboy hat on her head and tipping it in his direction in farewell before turning her horse about and urging him full-speed towards El Dorado, sheets of rainfall and cacophany of thunder be damned.