"I've never gotten so much as a glimpse at the whole of it, you know." Lucien sighs wistfully, looking up, up past the ceiling. "When I played The Game, I used to pride myself on my ability to extrapolate, more than anything else. Predicted a rebellion three months in advance by looking at wheat futures, once. Or - I'm quite proud of this, actually - I recognized that a delayed ice delivery was the first step in a plot to poison me. Someone wanted to hide cyanide in my almond milk, which I only drank when the dairy soured..."
The smile curdles. "I spent a week drinking only water, boiled water, acting like a nut-milk nutter. Spent that week thinking anyone could be the one with the plan to kill me, convinced by a late delivery. Not just anyone; Someone intimate to me. The worst kind of paranoiac, and worse still, I was right. So I kept thinking like that, until coming here seemed like the least stressful option."
He's only a few steps away from pickles now, he can smell it. His eyelashes are curling from the smell of the brine, and his lips are almost ready to crack from how much salt hangs heavy in the humid air here. Heaven. Distantly he hears a bell ring, quiet as a teaspoon sinking to the bottom of a tea mug. "I don't know what the Heart is, haven't the foggiest. There's too much here to make sense of, too many bad answers between me and the good questions. I've given up on being clever about it, and I'm doing my best just to experience it, come as it may. I've been trying to do it in good company." He inclines his head to the Professor respectfully.
There's a pause. He's being dishonest on autopilot. It's so reflexive it's only now that he catches it, and he wonders - what am I hiding? What am I not saying?
"No. I'm sorry, I didn't answer your question." He corrects himself before the Professor can ask again. "I used to think the Heart is a final objective to always be heading towards, but never to reach. A fable, where the journey is the destination. Then, after the Flood, I realized we were getting closer. There is an end to it." He stares down. Not at his feet, but at something past them. "Then I thought it was because the ending is necessarily tragic, that nobody survives reaching it... not as anyone I'd recognize. Coleman's just the most obvious. But ever since the Station... I think even that would be too determined, too consistent for what the Heart must be." He thinks very hard about the words he chooses here. "I want to try and make sure they all get the best endings they can, and I don't even know what they are, let alone how to go about getting them. 'Best' might not even be 'good'." He clenches and releases a fist as he says this last bit.
He hopes they've got aioli down here. Who knows what creature lays the eggs they'd use to make the mayonnaise though? Good lord, is it gater eggs? Now he has to try it-