Day 005: Baited
Summary: Cassandra, Fiona, and Marcus go out in the evening to see if they can figure out where the grounders went. But they find something unexpected, and horrifying.
Date: 5 May 2016
Related: Logs pertaining to We Are Grounders
Cassandra Fiona Marcus 

The riverside and forests to the northwest.
5 Days After Landing

It is evening by the time this little group of Delinquent scouts come upon the riverside once more. Everything looks almost exactly as it was the last time the delinquents were here. The hemlock still lies across the wide river, its roots on this side of the river and its head braced between two boulders. There is still an arrow sticking out of the tree where it had rained down and missed someone. The bodies of Rees and Perry should have been still sprawled on the pebbly riverside, but they are not there. Blood still stains the rocks where Quinn had fallen, and where the two had died. Otherwise, the scene is quite peaceful… yeah, peaceful.

"They took the bodies." Fiona says softly, from where she stands in the brush. She's hesitant to get too close to the river, to be exposed openly and invite another hail of arrows. "Why would they do that? If animals had got to them, there would be something left…wouldn't there?"

Marcus hasn't been out here yet, so is picking his steps a little more carefully, a frown crossing his face when he sees the blood. He remains quiet for the most part, only breaking it a little when Fiona talks about animals, "If there are predators out here big enough to carry a person off, we are all kinds of screwed. Are they…they wouldnt EAT people, would they?"

It's the sight of the blood and disturbed earth where Rees and Perry's bodies should lie that bothers Cass the most — possibly more than just finding their rotting corpses would have. Having led Marcus and Fiona this far (with some discourse with the Tesla ring-leader, who also knows the way), she comes to a stop now here. "I don't know," she says quietly. "Maybe they… floated them? However people get floated on the Ground." She turns to give her companions a look. "Or yeah, maybe giant predators, I suppose. Like a jaguar. I wouldn't be surprised if jaguars populate North America, now. Cannibalism isn't healthy though. The natives would have died out if they were accustomed to that."

<FS3> Fiona rolls Survival: Good Success.
<FS3> Marcus rolls Survival: Great Success.
<FS3> Cassandra rolls Survival: Great Success.

Marcus chews on the inside of his cheek lightly as his gaze follows the trail Cass and Fiona seem to be latching onto. His lips purse for a moment while he thinks, then offers in a softer voice, "If this is where they got attacked, and the blood heads off in that direction, then that's probably the direction of their camp and this might be the edge of their hunting area. We could look a little more, but might not be such a good idea to push our luck too far. We already know more than we did before."

Cassandra crouches down by the crime-scene while Marcus speaks, furrowing her brow and then nodding her head in agreement. "No drag marks." She follows the trail with her eyes. "They were carried. By people." That last word seems important, and she speaks it softly, turning her head back up towards Fiona. "This trail will lead us to the bodies. But that's not what we're looking for, is it?" She straightens back up, looking to the river. "Where were Quinn, Devin and Morgan when they got snatched? Ruth was on the other side of the river, right?"

"Wouldn't it be likely that the people who took Quinn and Devin and Morgan would be the same people who took the bodies?" asks Fiona curiously, but she straightens, resting her hands against her trousers and looking out over the river. "Last I saw, Quinn was there…" she indicates the spot, "And Morgan here, and Devin here." Each area is pointed to, as she confesses, "It's kind of a blur."

Marcus mms softly, a rumble deep in his chest, "They either split up, or the bodies were taken to the same place as the ones who didn't get killed," he posits, falling quiet for a second to glance between both women, "If they split up, then the ones that didn't go with the bodies could be anywhere, and we can TRY tracking that and maybe wander into another trap. Or…we can follow the blood trail and even if Quinn and Devin and Morgan didn't go with the bodies…I bet we find something that will help us find out where they did go, or more about who took them." A faint smile, "You can learn a lot from a predator…and a person…by how they throw things away. And we really need to learn more about these. Right? I mean…we three sure as hell arent going to orchestrate a rescue against that.." He guestures to the leftover arrow.

Cassandra opens her mouth to argue with Fiona, but she quiets when Marcus speaks. "He's got a point," she concurs, ticking her head in the zoologist's direction. "Alright, let's go see what they did with those bodies. And hopefully we can prove to Thing One and Thing Two that these people aren't just savages." There's a bitterness to her tone as she turns in the direction of the trail of blood. She strives for soft, quiet steps while they explore new and unfamiliar territory, but manages to audibly snap crunchy deadwood underfoot.

<FS3> Marcus rolls Survival: Good Success.
<FS3> Fiona rolls Survival: Good Success.
<FS3> Cassandra rolls Survival+2: Good Success.

The blood takes them into the forests, heading to the northeast along the river. In fact, the path does not leave the riverside for a long while, staying just within the forest's edge and in sight of the river. As they go along, there is one moment where it seems like the trail disappears, but Fiona and Marcus are both very helpful in pointing out what looks like Rees's knife left dropped on the ground, perhaps where it fell out of his pocket. So far things are quiet, but they start to notice more and more of those piles of stones along the riverside.

Fiona manages to follow the blood trail, or at least to occasionally find a spotting of it as they move along. But she's promptly distracted by the stone piles. "I'm an idiot." she whispers. "Those are border markers. They're border markers, and we screwed with them."

Marcus has enough presence of mind to retrieve the dropped knife, which will probably serve as proof to someone back at the camp and, well, you always feel safer with a knife, right? Fiona makes her observation and Marcus slows down, a soft sigh escaping him, "They didn't attack until someone crossed the river…didn't they?" There's that tone to his voice that he thinks he's Understanding Something, "We can keep following the blood, but…yeah. Maybe they took the bodies downriver to keep them from attracting other pests."

"Finally someone understands," Cassandra replies with a roll of her eyes. She at least keeps her voice lowered, perhaps out of respect for the dead, or perhaps her own skin, which is currently not being worn by Grounders. She'd like to keep it that way. She leads on to follow the trail, despite Marcus' trepidation, keeping an eye out for danger and anything else that might be of interest. They're in a brave new world, and even knowledge of the local plant-life could help them further down the line.

<FS3> Marcus rolls Survival: Good Success.
<FS3> Fiona rolls Survival: Good Success.
<FS3> Cassandra rolls Survival+2: Good Success.

The pathway through the forests continues for another thirty minutes or so, and then they come to a clearing. Suddenly it becomes very, very clear what the Grounders intended the dead delinquents for. Strung up on what looks like X-shaped crucifixes are the naked bodies of Rees and Perry. Their bodies have been cut in various places, and there's some indication that it might have been while they were still alive. Maybe the two weren't fully dead when they were left and then taken by the Grounders. Several feet in front of them is a naked pit with collapsed evergreen boughs within it. Close inspection reveals it is a spiked pit, and a dead panther has been impaled on several of the upward-facing spears.

Whatever Cassandra was expecting, it wasn't this. Her jaw falls agape as she looks up at the crucified bodies, though she strives not to look at them for very long. Life on the Ark was hard, but this is new: this is brutal, a kind of horror she was unused to in the quiet, emptiness and secrecy of space. Floating is a civilised affair, after all. She tears her gaze towards the pit and notes a panther of some kind — is that a jaguar? She hopes it's a jaguar. Maybe there are jaguars in North America now after all, and wouldn't that be a nicer thought than having to focus on what she just saw. But it could also be a mountain lion. Less exciting. "Savages," she whispers. "Grey and Faolan were right."

Fiona stares up at the bodies, her mouth half-open. "We can't negotiate with this. We're all going to die." She stumbles a few feet away and wretches. Nothing comes up, because there isn't enough inside of her to come out.

Marcus slows to a stop and blinks at the scene that unfolds in front of them. He stares, piecing together how the bodies were used, the possibility that they were still alive when strung up and used as bait. Bait. Which means…oh fuck them all running, "We need to leave. Now. Right now." He reaches out to grab Fiona's arm and backs up, trying to tow her and lightly shoulder Cassandra in the process.

Cassandra scrunches up her eyes. "We can't," she insists. "We should at least find sign of the others before we —" Her protests are half-hearted. She lets herself be shouldered. She looks back one last time at the bodies, because she just can't help herself, and then at a rapid pace, she joins the others towards hope of safety.

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