Day 022: Buzzkills
Summary: Arlin, Britt, and Tuan attempt to reason with Sonia. All things considered, it goes better than anticipated, which isn't saying much.
Date: 2016 Jun 12
Related: 7 for 700 follows this log; In a Hole Lot of Trouble (Sonia releases the blood fever) and Don't Mind the Wall (Sonia's preliminary assault on the camp)
Arlin Britt NPCSonia Tuan 

Sonia's War Camp
A Trikru war camp, along the river's edge, to the north of the Skaikru camp.
Day 22

Sonia kom Trikru's camp is to the north of the delinquent camp — east of Coesbur — along the river's edge. She has amassed almost fifty warriors and scouts by now, and all are settling in for the midday meal. There are not really tents to speak of, just a collection of horses and firepits. Sonia is seated slightly away from her war band, sharpening up her sword with a bit of whetstone, causing rhythmic rasps. Her expression is grim, eyes downcast and thoughtful.

At some point tracking became sort of moot - it's hard to miss the sound of fifty warriors chilling in the forest - so now Britt is just riding. Her bow is tucked away in a scabbard sort of thing on the side of her saddle, leaving her hands free. Her shoulders are tense, mouth set in a grim line as they approach the camp. She hasn't said much during the journey.

Tuan wasn't able to say much during the journey, most of his time has been spent nibbling on what dried meat they had brought or drinking water from skins as he works to replenish himself after his bout with the blood fever. Having taken a short time to wash himself before departing, the younger of the three sits astride the horse holding on carefully while keeping watch about them, too weary from the illness, the recovery and then the journey to have much more than a blank expression at the moment.

Arlin riding in the preeminent female canine position behind Britt? Check. Pensive, borderline brooding silence for most of the trip? Check. Resting Jerk Face in place? Call it a hat trick and call it a day.

Sonia looks up sharply when her scouts announce the arrival of the three Trikru. Her jaw sets, and she stows away her whetstone in her belt. She quickly sheaths the sword as she stands, stepping toward the three with sharp and precise strides. "Is this all Oxfor has sent?" She grimaces slightly. "Or am I assuming you are here as part of Lexa's commands?" She smirks, as if amused — but really thinly amused — by something. She notes Arlin riding bitch, and she crosses her arms as she releases a sharp snort.

Britt pulls her horse to a stop, but waits for Arlin to dismount before making any move to get off the horse herself. "Oxfor didn't send us." Well, technically he did send Tuan, but Britt doesn't call attention to that fact. "You are Sonia?" Just to make sure.

Tuan rests his hands on the back of the horse to ease it to a stop, looking first at the woman who speaks (Sonia) before casting his eyes around at the others of her war party. Once he has done that, taking stock of whom he sees and where he sees them his attention returns to the leader of the party.

The Horse Hate is so strong in Arlin, he makes it as a point of pride that he doesn't ride. Which is to say the response to Sonia's snort is one of utter aplomb. The man's agile enough to dismount without any problems, and they'd been going at a slow enough pace that he doesn't need to take a moment to compose his sense of equilibrium. And since Britt is busy doing the talking, the medic takes the opportunity to stretch, after he surveys those assembled.

"I am," Sonia replies, head quirked. She then looks between the three, trying to gauge them cautiously. She glances behind her at her second — a lean boy of about fifteen. She gives him a slight nod, and then looks back at the three. "What is this about then?"

Britt slides down from her horse once Arlin is down. Smothering a grimace at the stiffness induced by several hours in the saddle, she turns her attention to Sonia. "I am Britt kom Trikru. This is Arlin and Tuan. We come from Polis." A glance to Arlin, then, letting him add to that if he chooses. "It may be best discussed somewhere… not quite so open." She glances over at a nearby young warrior who wasn't trying to disguise his curiosity.

Tuan makes no immediate move to get off the horse, instead he eyes Sonia's second for a moment before letting his eyes return to the leader herself. When Britt dismounts, he waits a moment then does so as well, letting his feet land on the ground. The hand that looks like it is soothing the animal is in reality being used to balance him from falling.

Sonia looks between the trio, then glances at her second. Arlin also glances at the second, back to Sonia, and then keen eyes surreptitiously cut to Tuan, making a mental assessment of the scout's state. When Britt discloses his name, attention drafts back to the war leader, and he offers a jaunty little two-finger salute of greeting.

Sonia smirks then, and she crosses her arms. "Are you here on behalf of the Commander?" The question is asked with a cold uncertainty. "Because if you are, you should be speaking to Indra, not me… I am under her command." Her jaw works a bit, her anger simmering just beneath the surface. She then nods off, though there's really nowhere private to speak, she can at least put some space between them and her warriors.

Lacking a tent or anything truly private, they'll have to settle for just being slightly more out of earshot. "That's right," Britt confirms, pitching her voice lower so it won't carry as much beyond their group. She casts Tuan a brief, concerned glance, before returning her attention to the other war leader. "Oxfor is sending word to Indra. But as you know, these things take time. Indra did not have all the information when she ordered the Trikru to war. The Skaikru in that camp there - they are not the ones responsible for Thripoda."

Really? You're under her command? That a recent development? 'cuz you sure jumped the gun the other day. Arlin has enough sense to not say that aloud (or maybe he's simply doing his best to not undermine Britt's talking points), but his sentiments could very likely be read in incredulous eyes, the small yet sarcastic set to his mouth, a needling loft of his brows, and the slow series three blinks that ensue.

Sonia tilts her head slightly, listening. Though she snorts soon after Britt's words. "That is not how war works, Britt kom Trikru… and you know it. We didn't select which Azgeda were the good ones and which were the bads… how does this not apply?" She holds up her hands. "They are warriors, are they not? They have killed ours outright… I hear people from Coesbur. So, what makes them so special?"

Britt slants Sonia a cold look when she starts lecturing the archer on war, but answers the second point first with a snort. "Warriors? Hardly. They're a disorganized rabble, not a one of them older than these Seconds here with a fraction of their skill." A glance includes Tuan and Sonia's second. "They have defended themselves, as I understand, but now they are at truce with Coesbur." She crosses her arms. "Blood will have blood, no one questions that. But the blood should be of those responsible."

When the term warriors is applied to them, Tuan stifles a chuckle and instead manages to make it look like a cough that is covered behind a hand. His eyes then resettle on Sonia, attempting to maintain a stern expression to his face and his eyes in order to match the gravity of the discussions.

Something starts to bubble in Arlin's chest, producing a foul ichor that he can practically taste, which might account for the slightly sour curdling of his lips. Metaphorically, he bites his tongue as thoughts turn to how the Delinquents defended themselves, although there is a tick at his jaw where it clenches.

"They defended themselves?" Sonia sounds almost outraged, her anger seeping easily into her words. "How about those that are dead from their hands? Oxfor would not even call for their blood. The steheda is weak!" She then shakes her head. "And how do you know that these Skaikru did not help in the death of hundreds… hundreds… because they said they had no involvement? Why would they admit, knowing we would seek revenge?" She waves her hand dismissively. "You are all blind, and if the heda is indeed speaking through you, then she is too."

Britt does not get ruffled by the insults, though her expression does harden. Voice still calm, she says, "The people of Coesbur have been dealing with these Skaikru for weeks, and not a one of them believes those Skaikru to be involved in what happened." She looks to Tuan then, raised eyebrows silently inviting him to chime in on that particular point.

"There is no proof that they were involved." Tuan states towards Sonia, "And there is no proof that shows them innocent." He then slowly straightens. "So it is a matter of choice. To either believe that this was some kind of accident they know nothing about, or that it was an intentional act of war against the Trikru." The young man takes a moment to catch his breath before speaking a bit more. "For many of us, it does not seem to make much sense that the Skaikru would bring down part of their Skaivillage to destroy a Trikru village. When they know Trikru numbers greater than them and can fight better than them." Then he quirks an eyebrow, "Even a blind Heda," There's a bit of a snap in his tone at that, "Would be able to see that such an action makes no sense."

"Careful, Sonia," Arlin cautions in that slightly growly baritone of his, the tone a bit chiding. "Whatever you may believe of the Heda's vision, you'd be wise to remember that she's not deaf." Hazel eyes narrow a touch, sharply, the flashing green of them swallowing the gold and brown. "And you'd best hope that the Mountain Men's ears don't recall the sound of gunfire. Because if they do, if your unsanctioned response," because, really, it technically began before the official call to war, "brings their wrath, are you and yours ready to pay the price in blood for the next Inco and Lebur?" There's heat there, but it's the contained burn of searing metal as opposed to a conflagration.

"I do not choose to believe!" Sonia says harshly in reply to Tuan, snapping her fingers almost impatiently. "The Mountain Men have ruled us with fear… and now we risk allowing the Sky to do the same. I will not allow my own people to try to weave the Sky's lies for them." She shakes her head, snorting. "Everything you say here is because they have said it, not because it is true. We don't know what the Sky sent down, except what some Skaikru scouts say." She snorts, waving her hand dismissively again. "You don't believe that they are involved because they have made you blind by their sniffles and whines." Then she looks up at Arlin, and she growls once more, "I will not allow our people to be guided by fear!"

"Even a Second knows there's a difference between fearlessness and foolishness," Britt points out shortly, before making an effort to rein in her irritation. "What if they're telling the truth? Slaughtering innocents won't avenge Thripoda. It would be like attacking Floukru for a wrong done by Azgaeda. It is senseless to invite the wrath of the Mountain or the Sky Ark by killing the wrong people." She lets that sit a second before going on. "The Skaikru are nothing to me. If the Heda ordered an attack, I would be the first to loose an arrow. But she didn't. She sent us for answers. All I ask is for time. Time to complete our mission and let the Heda decide our course. A war with the Sky -" She points upward for emphasis. "- affects the entire Coalition, and you know it."

Tuan's arms fold over his chest as he looks at Sonia with a steady gaze, "And you accuse us of being blinded? You are blinded by rage and revenge." The younger of the group makes the statement but then closes his mouth, letting his words fall off as he watches the reactions.

There's a flash of something in Arlin's eyes when Sonia insists she will not allow the Trikru to be ruled by fear. Maybe, just maybe, there's even a sliver of a smile, something cruel curling at the corners. When he finally speaks, it's measured and calm in the way of the resolute, his body language as open and loose as is possible for a seasoned warrior. Which, admittedly, might not seem all that open and loose, but it's all relative. "Sonia. Let's forget this talk about guilt and innocence. Let's instead discuss strategy. The Heda sent us to learn more, to figure out what use these Skaikru may be against those who already cower the Trikru. They have guns, and we all know what happens when someone has guns. If they are honorable, they will pay the price for Thripoda when their Skaiheda and the others finally come down. If they are not, then let us see them ruined in a way that can wound our other enemies." Yeah, he's talking about the Mountain. "Either way, blood will have blood. Redirect your rage to ensure we receive every drop due and spill as little of our own as possible."

Aiding Up: <FS3> Tuan rolls Persuasion: Failure.
Aiding Up: <FS3> Britt rolls Persuasion: Success.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Arlin=Persuasion-1 Vs Sonia=Resolve
Arlin: Good Success Sonia: Success
Net Result: Arlin wins - Marginal Victory

Sonia steps forward abruptly to Tuan, her wolfish grin turning into a snarl. "Do not assume to lecture me," she says tersely, and then she looks back at Britt. She smiles, but it is a bitter, brittle smile at best. "My kruheda ordered this, declared war… so, I do not know what you wish to gain from speaking to me," she replies, tone flat. "Even if I agreed with you… which I do not… you are daring me to defy my kruheda… which I will not." She gestures away, brow deeply furrowed. She looks at Arlin, jaw flexing. Something in his words causes her to hesitate — just a moment. "You want to satisfy, you want me to redirect my rage? Bring me seven Skaikru who will stand for the crimes of the Skaikru… one for every hundred lost. Then I will join you, and your fight to stall this war until their-so-called heda arrives."

Britt regards Sonia with a steely-eyed look. "You know as well as I that a warband leader must have the initiative to adapt her orders to changing situations on the battlefield. Your kruheda ordered war without knowing that your heda ordered observation. I wish only to gain time for our leaders to confer and resolve their conflicting orders." She points in the general direction of the Delinquent camp. "The Skaikru aren't going anywhere. Corralling them in their camp is a valid war strategy that does not go against the kruheda." At Sonia's suggestion of seven Skaikru, she slants a look to Arlin. Displeased, but not dismissing the possibility out of hand.

At the words of offer from Sonia, Tuan bites off his immediate confrontation with the woman, something that he could feel swelling in his chest. Instead he steps back a bit and glances at Arlin, the barest of movements of his head is given towards him, the inclination of 'no'.

Arlin's attention is firmly on Sonia, so it's possible that he doesn't see the way Britt and Tuan glance at him. The answer he's given is better than the one he was expecting, but it's far from ideal. It also makes him smirk a little. "I'm not asking you to stall this war. As you said, that would be going against the kruheda. But we also know that she is still assembling the war party and you acted on your own accord for your own reasons." And let is stand for the record that he's not sounding admonishing, merely factual. After all, he knows full well what it's like to lead with the heart. Even so, he also knows what problems that can cause. "Stand down and rejoin the host. When it is time to strike, then strike. This is not the time, and what is at stake is far more than justice for Thripoda. The heda and the kruheda will speak, and then action will be taken."

Sonia narrows her eyes at Britt. "Then get your heda to order my kruheda to stand down," the woman says tersely. Then she narrows her eyes. "There are many dead… warriors, yes, but also mothers, fathers, and children. If the Skaikru are as you say, then have them offer up seven of their own as penance." She then snorts at Arlin. "No." She gestures off-handedly. "You do not give me orders… you are not my heda. I will carry out Indra's orders until she calls me down, or until the heda herself does." She steps up to Arlin, not at all concerned about closing into his personal space. "Do not presume to be my superior, Arlin kom Trikru. I am already on orders to strike, and strike soon."

"I'm trying," Britt replies, frustration boiling. "But even with the fastest riders these things take time. I do not ask you to give up the fight, merely to hold." She sighs, feeling it a lost cause, and concedes, "I will go and talk to the Skaikru. I ask you to give us until nightfall tomorrow. If we do not return with the seven, then you do as you must. But I urge you - think about what you are doing. You are an honorable warrior, Sonia kom Trikru. I very much doubt you wish to be responsible for the slaughter of innocents, or bringing the fate of Thripoda to another village. Give the Heda a chance to weigh in."

Tuan steps forward just a bit when Sonia approaches Arlin, puffing up some as he does but not getting too terribly close. Perhaps he took her movement as aggression towards the Healer, but if he does he doesn't make a fully aggressive movement in return. His eyes narrow on Sonia then around the camp before returning to the Grounder leader.

Sonia steps up and Arlin doesn't back down. If anything, his shoulders might square more and his chest might puff up, as befits someone ready to throw down. His smirk, though, is snide. "Then Indra is getting soft in her age, too, seeing how you released the blood fever too soon." And seemingly hasn't be punished for losing the tactical advantage. "And I don't presume anything — but you seem to forget that you're not the only one with orders, and that the kruheda answers to the heda." The smile he smiles is smug, but whatever mirth glitters in the gold halo of his hazel eyes is of a darksome quality. As if to say neener, neener, my boss outranks yours, and if you don't like it, you can suck it. Because the medic is the sort to always push back. Go, go, Enneagram Type 8!

"Then you can go speak to her about that," Sonia says, jaw tight, to Arlin. But then she nods vaguely to Britt. "Very well. Until nightfall tomorrow." She starts to step back, chin ducking slightly as she regards the three. Then her gaze slides to Arlin, and she flexes her jaw once more. "I will think about it," she says, though it is hard to say exactly what she will think about in the long run here. She does begin to step back, glancing toward her small warband as she does.

Britt doesn't look happy, but hey - they bought a day at least. Better than nothing? She inclines her head to Sonia. "We all want justice for Thripoda. Do not doubt that." She looks to the other fellows to see if they have anything to add.

Tuan just shakes his head a bit but then looks to the others and waits for their lead, since he is really just the escort in this situation.

"Good," is medic's reply to Sonia after a moment of weighted consideration. "Because there are some things on which we very much agree." Like killing those who would make the Trikru cower. (He means you, o Mountain, the #1 thing he hates more than horses.) And then he smiles such a smile of flirtatious cheekiness. "It'd be a shame to miss out on getting along." That said, he offers a jaunty little two-finger salute, ready to depart.

Sonia drops her chin, staring at the three with a single nod of her head. Then she starts to step away, a dark cloud brewing over her head. She casts a dubious glance back at the three as she moves to her second, murmuring something to the young boy before he takes off, moving around the fires. Whatever he is telling the group, they both cast the three looks and then offer gruff nods.

The bemused eyeroll that follows Arlin's cheekiness is mostly lost as Britt turns to go back to her horse. Mounting up, she then extends a hand down to Arlin so he can do the same. She surveys the camp, trying to gauge the reactions on a scale of 'Man, they just ruined our fun' to 'Die traitors!'

Tuan turns as well, going to hop onto the horse that he was riding, looking towards Britt and Arlin. "We will have to make haste to make it back to their camp, to Coesbur, and back here with a response in the allotted time." The scout knows the area well enough since he lives there, perhaps he knows a few shortcuts.

Britt's eyeroll may not be seen, but maybe it's felt. Either way, Arlin is unconcerned by her judgment. Might have something to do with how he quips, once on horseback and en route to Camp Skyfall, "Who wants to bet how long it takes 'em to try shanking us for being buzzkills?"

"We've no need to return to Coesbur," Britt declares, watching to make sure Tuan gets settled on his horse okay. "Not until this is settled." She glances to Arlin, offering a dour smirk. "Oh, I think that depends on whether we come back with any sacrificial lambs."

Tuan snorts a bit as he looks at Britt but waits until they are out of the camp and underway a bit before he speaks more fully. "If you believe for a second that the Skaikru will agree to this idea you do not understand them in the least. They are a very tight village and loyal to one another. They do not understand our ways or traditions. So we are riding to them to ask them to sacrifice 7 of theirs to be killed for reasons they don't understand." He looks at Britt and shakes his head, "They will not do such. So going to Coesbur is necessary, so that Oxfor is aware of the developments. This is nothing more than buying us an additional day."

"We said we'd deliver the offer. We never promised to deliver any sacrificial lambs." Wryly, Arlin smirks. "I see no harm in returning to Coesbur after the Skaikru tell us to go feed a tree."

Britt also remains silent until they've gotten further from the camp. When Tuan speaks, she looks over at him, a frown settling on her lips. "You're right, I don't understand them in the least. But they will understand this: It is sacrifice seven now, or risk sacrificing all day after tomorrow. I do not envy them the choice, but it is theirs to make." She shakes her head. "If you wish to go to Oxfor, go. But there's nothing he can do here. Sonia will not listen to reason, and word can't reach either the Heda or Kruheda in time."

"Exactly. Sonia will not listen to reason." Tuan responds to Britt quietly. "And her Warband answers to her. Unless she is challenged." Then his eyes look over to Britt, shifting to Arlin. "And that may be the only way to stay that warband."

Now it's Arlin's turn to snort. He also smirks some more. "Her war band will still follow Indra until the heda says otherwise. But, hey, if you or someone you know wants to pointlessly get themselves killed, by all means challenge her."

Britt echoes Arlin's smirk with a wan one of her own. She looks to Tuan, "You really think they're going to listen to us any better than Sonia did? You saw how they reacted to being told to hold back even for a day," Britt points out dryly. "We're not going to stop those warriors. Nor is Oxfor. We've bought them a day. If they're willing to send seven, we can buy a few more and hopefully in that time the Heda can stop this madness. Rinnan has ridden to Polis, and I believe Oxfor sent a rider to Indra as well. We just need time."

Tuan, weary and weak, looks over at Arlin then to Britt, "As you said, nothing is going to stop those warriors. The Skaikru will not give up seven of theirs, Sonia will attack. If her attack fails, Indra will launch hers. How long will it take Heda to come down from Polis? Would she make it in time to stop this?" He shakes his head slowly. "It is my village that is at risk. Coesbur that is in the middle of all this. When you both are done here, you will ride back to Polis; the rest of us will deal with the aftermath." Nudging his horse, he moves it a bit faster.

"We also have no guarantee that Sonia will honor her word. Not that she's ever acted dishonorably, but rage and grief are incredibly persuasive." Arlin sounds as though he's had some kind of experience with such things. "Even so, it is not for us to decide. We will bring her offer; they will reject it and, should it come to war, far more than seven of their own will die. Should they actually surprise us, then we can hope Indra will see enough honor in it to stay her hand until the Skaiheda arrives." With a look to Tuan, the medic semi-snarkily points out, "Not our doing. Your stegheda put your village at risk. All we can do," likely meaning the Polis contingent, "is damage control. But I'll tell you somethin': when," not if, "the Mountain retaliates, it will affect us all."

"She may not come at all," Britt admits, frowning. "But hopefully she will at least find a way to stop this." At Tuan's last, there's a flash of anger in her eyes. But she bites her tongue while Arlin speaks, offering a grim nod of agreement. Only when he's finished does she snap to Tuan. "The closest thing I have to family is in Coesbur. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are the only one who cares about what happens there." Still, she has nothing useful to offer that would protect it, so she falls quiet after that.

Tuan doesn't glance back at this time instead he focuses on his riding. "Closest, is not the same as." He says quietly while looking ahead. "And WHEN the mountain comes," he at least agrees with Arlin on that, "who will offer seven of their village to appease the mountain?" Another nudge of his heels to the horse, must ride faster.

"Seven will never be enough for the likes of them." It comes out as impulse, a nerve struck forcing an uncontrollable reaction, a growl of words rancid and bitter and biting. Scowling, Arlin looks away, letting out a rancorous breath before closing his eyes and gritting his teeth until he can roll back to a more simmering level of anger.

Britt glares at Tuan for a moment. "Spoken as one who has the luxury of still having one." Then she fixes her gaze ahead as well.

Tuan pulls up a bit and looks back at Britt, "Every member of my family is dead. My mother, my father, my brother and sister." His tone turns to ice. "All I have left are my brother's wife and her son. And I will give everything for them." He pauses then says it even icier, "Everything."

His eyes then turn back to the road as he simmers down and focuses on the road ahead. "7 is not enough for the Mountain, and it will not be enough for Sonia. If this had happened to Coesbur, I would be taking action just like her, many of us would. I do not blame her for what she does. But do you blame a dog that has gone rabid for being rabid?"

Arlin's quiet for quite some time. Family, like for the others, is an incredibly touchy subject. Factor in his kin's horrid history with the Mountain Men? Yeah. He's quiet for quite some time. "Careful, Tuan," he eventually cautions, although there is no vim or vinegar to it, "some people won't take kindly to the notion of putting down the owner who refuses to put down a rabid dog when said owner is the kruheda."

In all fairness, the medic isn't one of those people, probably because Indra sentenced his father to the Death of a Thousand Cuts, but that is neither here nor there. All the same, has a protective streak, and the scout is still quite young, so he'd be remiss to not say something about consequences. Never mind that he's the sort to charge ahead anyway when moved — known and terrible consequences be damned.

Britt does look back to Tuan then, after he speaks. She doesn't apologize, not aloud, but the sad cast in her eyes suggests that she regrets her words, at least a little. She has no answer for the rest of it, though, and merely rides in a subdued silence as the continue on their way.

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