Day 017: A Pragmatist
Summary: Another bracelet bites the dust, and a pair of delinquents plan for some clandestine recon before the imminent arrival of the Ark's first Exodus ship.
Date: 29 May 2016
Related: Follows It Fell From The Sky and First Unity Day Part Two, precedes The Trial of Mags Trentin.
Cassandra Silver 

Tech Tent — The Camp

This tent is really nothing more than a taut stretch of sun-bleached blue and gold parachute pulled taut into a large eaves. One side of it has been attached to the outer wall of the dropship, while the opposite corners have been tied tightly to the tops of some thick sapling poles. Evergreen branches have been used to make a screen-like wall adjacent to the dropship wall, creating a little corner of protection. The rest of the tent is open to the remainder of the camp so that the communication relay can get the best signal. Inside the tent, a couple of small, crude tables has been made from dropship panels and tree stumps.

A panel to the dropship remains open, and thick power cords have been drawn out to provide power to the various equipment that is being set up in the tent. While there is still an absolute lack of real, true-hearted technology, the rough approximations the delinquents now have are not all that bad.

The two-feed AV monitor has been set up on a short table at the back of the tent to provide a little privacy, and a couple of dropship chairs have been pulled in to give people somewhere to sit while talking to the Ark. Using the AV monitor is a precarious business, as the video often has feedback static now and then and sometimes the audio cuts out, but it does give the camp a leyline to their people.

17 Days After Landing

Leaving Coesbur was a little bit hard for Silver. She tried not to let it show, but the regular meals, beds, baths… and maybe a certain translator were hard to leave behind. Since she's gotten back to the camp, she's more or less disappeared into the tech tent, lending a hand to any repair or building projects she can find to keep herself busy and keep from thinking too much about it. At the moment, she's carefully disassembling a broken piece of equipment from the dropship, setting the pieces neatly aside once they're free.

Cassandra Bonheur is a woman of many talents: she can find wild boar, deer, pheasants, lobelia and goldenrod in the forest for the camp's food and medicine stores, but she cannot find Silver Kennedy for an increasingly pressing, private conversation in the aftermath of the Unity Day discord. Tents have been searched, delinquents have been interrogated, but each time she's picked up a trail, there's been an Ark Loyalist in her way. The Tech Tent has been abuzz in the efforts to get back into contact with the mothership, and when certain threatening faces loom about, Cassie makes herself scarce. Even with a machete constantly at her hip, she doesn't want to end up the next Evie, especially since she was initially accused for that murder herself.

In the early morning after the festivities, she makes her rounds again to look for the medtech, and finally, she finds her. A quick look around is sent to check that it's safe to approach now before the tracker rushes to Silver's side, whereupon she looms poignantly in a silent demand for attention, with an intense stare beneath her furrowed brow.

When it comes to certain types of chaos — like murders, and executions — Silver tends to make herself scarce. Say nothing. Don't get in the way. Try not to end up dead yourself. Yet another reason to be missing the relatively peaceful Grounder village. So for the first few moments, she ignores the looming. Maybe whoever it is will wander off and cause someone else trouble. Eventually, though, she looks up, quirking a brow when she recognizes Cassandra. "Hi," she says slowly, glancing around the rest of the tent. "Something I can help you with?"

"I have a job for you," says Cassandra, wasting no time with pleasantries once she has Silver's attention. She barely even wastes time talking, her speech urgent and rapid-fire. "I'll make it worth your while. More water, spare parts, material, anything you like. Insider information." Her eyes trail the repurposed shards of dropship equipment the medtech's working on, pausing only briefly to take it in and work it into her angle. "But it needs to be done now. The Ark's coming down in maybe forty-eight hours and that's how long it needs to take." By way of explanation of what job it is she needs done, the ex-Solitary-confined criminal raises her right arm horizontally in front of her wrongfully-accused inmate, displaying an intact bracelet and meeting her eyes atop it. "You're a genius tech chick, right?"

"With the Ark coming down in 48 hours, presumably I shouldn't need to worry about extra rations," Silver points out, looking back down to her work. "Presumably, everything will be happy and perfect, because all of our crimes have been forgiven, and all of the restrictions from the Ark will be lifted, and no one will be stupid enough to insult the locals who are considerably better at killing things than we are." All of that might be more believable if it weren't delivered in such a flat, bland tone. "But yes, I know tech. So what is it you want done?"

Were Cass of the optimistic mind that Silver describes, it's likely she wouldn't be here. "I need you to take off my bracelet," she demands in a low, clandestine tone of voice. It's early in the morning before the trial of Mags Trentin, and she knows full well that there are only a limited number of hours before the camp will be swarming with dangerous Loyalists and stressed out techies trying to make contact with the Ark again. "I know you can take it off without damaging it. But I need you to do more than that. I need you to figure out a way to take it off in such a way that I can put it back on again if I need to, and for it to work again as normal. These things are useful, and when the Ark comes down again with all their tech, if we can reconfigure these somehow, at least we won't be at as massive of a disadvantage."

"Taking it off without damaging it means that it can be put back on," Silver notes, though she wrinkles her nose as she looks back to what she's working on. "It's just that it's incredibly unsanitary because the probes are part of what makes it work. So every time you put it back on, you're going to be essentially reusing needles. I've been working on reconfiguring them, but I haven't been able to get them to do anything useful yet."

The tension in Cassandra's posture relaxes considerably as soon as Silver assures her she can do it, and the urgency in her voice lessens. "Do it, then," she says, still fretting. She glances around the tent, assessing the current state of all the equipment, and more softly asks, "How many bracelets do you have so far? You got plenty to run experiments on? I know most people who wanted to take them off already did first week. But I just… I thought we had more time."

"I've only got about half a dozen," Silver shakes her head. "And most of them are in various states of broken. I didn't get the word on how to remove them until right before we left for Coesbur, and now… Now that people are thinking about going back to the Ark, suddenly it's like some sort of badge of loyalty. I think they're thinking if they're still wearing it, it'll prove they'll be good citizens, earn them some credit with leadership."

Likely, this is why Cassandra is still wearing her bracelet. The forcefully blank look on her face when Silver reads her mind out loud says it all. "And you don't agree?" she asks, arm still held up between them.

Silver holds up her own arm, where the bracelet is still in place. "Didn't take mine off. Although it helped once I was able to get a good enough look at them to figure out they're just looking at our vitals rather than tracking our location. I don't want the Ark keeping track of me, either. And I don't think the people on the Council are stupid enough to believe that we're all loyal little helpers, whether or not we're wearing bracelets."

When Silver raises her arm, Cassandra lowers hers and moves to rest her hand on the work-station, which she uses to lightly push herself into a sitting position on its edge. "Can they reconfigure these into tracking devices from afar? Can you? 'Cause I don't wanna take any chances, but may be that'll be useful some day," she says. Though less hostile and urgent now, her voice remains low, and she frequently glances to the entrance of the tent to make sure they're still alone. The sun has risen, and the shady delinquent still doesn't want her words alighting on the wrong ears.

"I've tried, but I haven't seen a way to do it," Silver shakes her head. "And they're pretty hard-coded to only transmit to the Ark, too, which has limited their usefulness here. I looked for ways to turn them into comms, I looked for ways to use them for diagnostics. It's a crappy design, by the way," she adds absently. "For this quality of work, I spent two years in the box. Choices they made."

Cassandra might not be the most pleasant of individuals around camp, and she rarely offers people respect in the way of words — but in her eyes, it's clear she's looking at Silver in a new light, that she's impressed, and hanging onto her every word. "Maybe you can design something better," she suggests in a murmur, the half-baked proposal still mulling over in her mind as it does in her mouth. "Say, I don't suppose you ever caught the culprit that stripped Lydia Scott's pod bare?" The question may just be loaded, and a suspicious glance is sent over the medtech. After all, there are only a handful of techies around camp capable of such a precision strike, and only a handful of people with anti-Ark sentiments; the handful that intersect would be even smaller.

"I heard it was stripped. Honestly, I sort of assumed it was someone local," Silver admits, carefully using a bit of scrap metal to work on a tiny screw. "Where'd it land in relation to Mt. Weather? And did anyone get a look at how cleanly it was stripped? I'd say if it looked rough, probably Grounders. If it looked neat? Maybe whoever ended up taking shelter in Mt. Weather before we got here figured out how to use a few of the things inside. But I doubt it was anyone here. Where would they hide it? Not many people in this camp have the foresight or patience to hide it without using it against the possibility that it might be useful further down the line."

Cassandra always looks shifty (or maybe that's just her reputation), but she looks particularly shifty when she narrows her eyes at Silver, squinting in the prolonged space it takes her to decipher the medtech's words and decide she's probably not guilty. "Alright," she says. "Job one:" she points to her bracelet. "Job two:" she glances back up at the medtech's eyes. "How'd you like to team up with me and go do a little recon on that dropship? I'll grab a couple of others and we can leave in the afternoon or evening, after Mags' trial. I'm probably the best tracker at camp now that Evie's dead," but not the most modest, or remotely sensitive one, "And we could use your tech-genius expertise."

Silver pauses her work, looking up and pushing a hand through her hair as she eyes Cassandra. "The bracelet I can do," she nods. "But the pod? I'm generally not in favor of wandering out into the wilderness when I don't know what's likely to be there. What kind of muscle are you thinking about bringing?"

The woman of no integrity (reputably) does glance around the tent again to make sure there are no prying ears before she names names. "Asher. Quinn," says Cassandra casually. "Tougher sorts." Vocal Rebel sorts, more like, as anyone who's been paying attention to camp politics would know. "Max. I can handle myself in the wilderness."

Silver tilts her head slightly, playing through the dynamics in her mind before she nods. "All right. I'm in. But if we manage to find anything useful, it gets put to work for the camp as a whole before it gets parceled out to any individuals," she adds, turning to finally face Cassandra straight on.

A mysteriously-sourced wedge of lemon may have somehow found its way into Cassandra's mouth in the few seconds it took for Silver to turn and face her, as this is the expression the other delinquent gives her, brow wrinkled. "Fine," she relents, none too happy about it. "But keep it on the DL. If it was someone around camp who did it, we don't need them on high alert because of this. We don't want to get Evie'd." She holds her wrist back up, twirling it expectantly before she idly wonders, "You got anyone else you're not suspect of that you're planning on telling?"

"Cassandra," Silver says wearily, picking up her tools and motioning for the other girl's wrist. "We are literally an entire ship full of convicts. Everyone here is here because they were either malicious, foolish, or stupid. Myself included," she adds with a grimace of her own. "No one's here because they had really great judgment. I'm suspect of everyone to varying degrees."

"That just makes you smart," Cassandra says approvingly, through her expression speaks of surprise. Eyebrows raised, she slowly extends her wrist towards Silver and quiets — maybe just a little afraid that this might hurt.

"Mmmm," Silver hums, adjusting Cassandra's wrist with a surprisingly gentle touch. "Foolish and stupid I can work with. Malicious… Well. It just depends on who and why, doesn't it? We've all got good reasons to be angry, too. If we didn't before they dropped us, we do now." It doesn't take long for her to get the tools into position. It's a delicate piece of work, but once it's done, it's just a push and a twist and the bracelet clicks open.

Cassandra holds her breath while Silver works — and then, suddenly, the bracelet clicks, and she can feel the metal prongs in her skin retracting. It's a sharp pain, but with the medtech's deft hands, it isn't near as bad as it could have been had she asked one of the rough rebels to prise it open with a pry-bar. "For not trusting anyone, I meant. Smart." She pauses, waiting to see if more pain is coming, then slowly looks back up to Silver to fully remove the thing.

Once the catch is loosed, it only takes a moment to work the bracelet off. "And there you are," Silver says, handing the bracelet over. "If you ever want to put it back on, you can. I'd just recommend you rinse the probes, wash them off, heat them, and then rinse them in some alcohol to make sure they're thoroughly disinfected and you're not introducing anything else to your system. Infections are ugly here."

Cassandra winces when the bracelet is fully removed, and there are tiny droplets of blood circling her wrist from where the needle-like probes were piercing her skin. Nonetheless, she puts on a brave face. "Thanks," she says to Silver, reaching out for her removed jewellery and rubbing at these new battle-scars. "So the Ark thinks I'm dead now, right? Or they would think that, if someone hadn't already told them people have been taking off their bracelets. If I put it back on, it'll start working again right away?"

"Pretty much," Silver nods. "It'll work. It's just not picking up any signals now. Apparently, for some reason, they integrated all of the measurement ability into the stupid probes," she snorts, shaking her head as she turns back to her work. "I mean, I get the benefits in terms of being able to track stress through blood chemistry, which would be useful for radiation levels, sure, but they could've tracked heartbeat and respiration without internal sensors, and they could've tracked ambient radiation without the probes, too. Sub-par design."

Testing the thing, Cassandra gently snaps the thing closed, and opens it again a few more times. She's not much of a techie, so she really has no idea what she's looking at, but she's curious enough to try, fruitlessly, to figure it out all the same. "I'll make a note of that," she idly says. "So what's your deal with the Ark? You're helping people take off bracelets, but not looking to force or bribe 'em like Zoe was. You were never in line to be floated. Are you a Rebel, a Loyalist or a Fencer?" Her eyes remain on the bracelet as she asks these rather personal questions.

"I'm a pragmatist." Silver shifts in her seat, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees. "They framed me, Cass. The doctor's husband was struggling with an oxygen deficiency. I'd been designing an implant to address the issue because it'd been cropping up in more and more people. It wasn't anywhere near finished, but the doc knew her husband wasn't going to make it to when the testing phase was done. So she did the procedure herself. And when he died of complications, they pinned it on me. They figured this way, the Ark didn't lose a doctor or a future doctor. I'd go in the box for a couple years, then I'd get my review and get back to work. They'd have two doctors, instead of losing one in favor of a half-trained kid."

Though Cassandra listens to Silver's tale without interruptions, she is, unfortunately, a bad person for anyone to talk to about personal matters, for she shows no sympathy. Impassive, her eyes remain fixed on the less guilty delinquent's as her hand comes to curl around her bracelet. "Sounds like a fair deal to me," she says. "If they'd upheld it, anyway. Sucks for you to get boxed, but at least you're promised a future. Guessing you didn't see it that way."

"Oh no, I did," Silver shrugs. "Stay quiet for a couple years. Take one for the team. Everyone wins. Can't blame someone for trying to save the person they love, right? Except since they shot me down here instead, I've got a few more doubts about just how far any of them can be trusted. So. I don't hate the existence of the Ark. I don't hate most of the people there. But I know the way they make choices now. So I'm going to act accordingly."

Cassandra smirks. Likely she's thinking something mean and judgemental — she always is, but it's visible now in her expression as she regards the framed medtech. "Can't fault you," she claims dubiously, arms folded across her chest. "I'll go find Max and Asher and Quinn and see if I can't wrangle them. We're leaving before the exodus ship gets here. Whatever we salvage, fine, we'll share, but it isn't going to the Ark proper. Yeah?" She pushes herself off from Silver's workstation, starting towards the tent flap. After sending another glance around the area to make sure no one's eavesdropping, she glances over her shoulder and says, "Remember what I said about keeping it on the DL, yeah? Tell me, if you're planning to tell anyone else." Already, furious, bloodthirsty, hungover Delinquents are rousing from last night's debauchery to bring Mags Trentin to trial.

"Not telling anyone right now." Silver shakes her head, glancing toward the sounds outside. "You really want it quiet, they're going to be busy being stupid soon. Won't notice anyone leaving soon."

Eyeing the mess outside, Cassandra admits, "Yeah, I'm not all that keen to watch Earth's first public floating." She lingers silently for a moment longer, considering things. Unfortunately, she doesn't have such high hopes that Asher, Quinn and Max will be on the same page as her on that front. Giving Silver a nod, she heads on out into the morning light to find them.

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