Day 018: Crashing Into An Ambush
Summary: Asher and Cassandra get to the crash site ahead of their fellow Delinquents and find out that not all Grounders are friendly (or even friendlyish).
Date: 31 May 2016
Related: None directly, but follows Firefall.
Asher Cassandra Grounders 

West of Thripoda
In poses.
18 Days After Landing

The sun has been up for… three hours or so as Steak and New Boots clomps up a rise, threading through the underbrush and the trees. They've been following the smoke rising over the forest up ahead as long as the light revealed it and hid the faint glow of flickering fires that they had been following before that. The underbrush closes in ahead for another kilometer or so, and then appears to maybe open up beyond that.

It's been a few hours since they took their last break. The last kilometer or so has been quiet, likely more out of tiredness than anything on Asher's part. He didn't sleep much the night before and they left pretty late. All in all, it's been a long few days. Cassandra is still in the front and Asher is behind her, controlling the horse. This helps Asher maintain balance on the horse. He sighs, as he peers through the forest ahead, "Not too much further…" he mutters as a branch fwaps him in the face.

Cassandra is likewise tired. Her thighs hurt. She may have been delighted to ride a pony last night, and to a degree, she still is, but they're on a tight schedule here, and a tight schedule does not lend itself to a content, newly-liberated teen delinquent. She would really have loved to sleep in a few more hours — or out, given their environment — but alas. As they round the hill, she raises a hand to her forehead and looks out over the rise to catch the sight and smell of smoke, nose twitching. At the front of the saddle, she has a much better view, second only to Steak and New Boots' own; it allows her to spy that branch that's about to thwap her in the face, and deftly dodge so it hits Asher behind her instead. "Sorry," she says, at the sound of leaves meeting skin. She absently brushes away the air in front of her to avoid any further attacks from overhanging foliage. "Looks like good news. Or bad news, depending."

There's no hiding that she's hoping to find everyone dead. It's not their fault that they deserve it, though, and she knows that — so she has the decency to maintain a quiet, solemn, respectful tone as she speaks of the fate of the Arkers they're about to behold.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Cassandra=Alertness Vs Grounder=8
< Cassandra: Success Grounder: Good Success
< Net Result: Grounder wins - Solid Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Asher=Alertness Vs Grounder=8
< Asher: Good Success Grounder: Great Success
< Net Result: Grounder wins - Solid Victory

The woods are still and quiet around the pair of Delinquents as they approach the thickening underbrush. Asher hears the faint and distant sound of voices raised up far ahead, but the words are unintelligible, if they are even in English. The scent of burned wood has been trickling into their nostrils, along with a much sharper scent, a chemical scent.

<COMBAT> Grounder32 attacks Asher with Crossbow but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Grounder32's weapon clicks empty.
<COMBAT> Grounder30 attacks Cassandra with Thrown Spear and MISSES!
<COMBAT> Grounder30's weapon clicks empty.
<COMBAT> Grounder20 attacks Asher with Thrown Spear but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Grounder20's weapon clicks empty.
<COMBAT> Cassandra passes.
<COMBAT> Asher passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder31 attacks Asher with Bow - Light wound to Head.
<COMBAT> Grounder21 attacks Cassandra with Bow - Moderate wound to Chest.
<FS3> Cassandra rolls Riding: Success.

The silence is not so much shattered as it is joined the grunts of effort that propel a pair of spears at the Delinquents merging with the still woods. The thrums of the bowstrings stand out a little sharper, although not so sharply as the twang of a crossbow. There is no warning of the attack, just a sudden fusillade of projectiles.

<FS3> Cassandra rolls Resolve: Success.

Adrenaline. That's the first thing that Cassandra senses and feels, before she can make sense of anything else in the situation around her. The whipping sound of a flying spear passes by her ear as she turns to follow it with a pair of wide brown eyes, and before she can even contemplate reacting, it is followed by another projectile — this time lethally aimed at her chest. She chokes out a gasp as an arrow pierces her shoulder, and it's the pain this time that goes coursing through her nervous system split seconds before she can bring her half-asleep attention back forward to fully realise that they're under attack.

There's a strange sense of deja-vu to all of this. The first time arrows were fired at her on Earth, she ran away. The second time she encountered combat with the Grounders, she was shadowing Asher, only it was their targets and not her on a horse — this horse, in fact. Similar thoughts must be going through Steak and New Boots' mind.

It takes her another split second to decide what to do about the situation. The Grounders have the element of surprise on them, and serious, unexpected injuries have a funny way of distracting her. At first she nearly falls backwards against Asher, but steadying herself in the saddle, she forcefully hurls herself forwards instead, clinging tightly to SANB's mane and neck. Sweeping her gaze around the area, she tries to take stock of just how likely she is to die right now, and silently begs in her mind, because she is too shocked to speak, for a miraculous escape.

<FS3> Asher rolls Riding: Good Success.

The sudden barrage of projectiles is…well it's surprising. Asher had heard voices. He was on alert and when the spears and crossbow flew, he started to try and dodge, which was difficult due to his position. "Shit!" he growls out and tries to keep the horse under control. A whirr comes flying at him and despite his best efforts to get his head out of the way, but a sting of pain follows as the arrow lacerates down to the bone in a scalp lac that could have been much worse. Blood starts to run down his face as the arrow that hits him plunks into a tree. Asher tries to get the horse turned around so he can try and ride back for the camp to escape the ambush. There were two spears, multiple arrows… Asher can't handle five to six Grounders at once. He pulls out one of his knives to hurt at the Grounders as he tries to get Steak and New Boots to start moving. SANB turns without much issue while Asher hurls that knife he pulled from his sleeve at one Grounder with a bow. "Just hold on! He'll get us out of here!"

<COMBAT> Grounder20 passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder31 attacks Asher with Bow - Light wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Grounder30 passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder21 attacks Cassandra with Bow - Critical wound to Head.
<COMBAT> Grounder32 finishes reloading.
<COMBAT> Cassandra passes.
<COMBAT> Asher attacks Grounder31 with Thrown Knife but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Asher's weapon clicks empty.
<COMBAT> Cassandra has been KO'd!
<FS3> Cassandra rolls Riding: Failure.

The second volley is lighter, but that is because the crossbow's string is slowly creaking back… there from behind that tree, and from the source of the two thrown spears come a pair of burly Grounders in dark leathers, makeshift armor, and skull-like masks. One carries a second spear, the other a cut-down blade like a curving sword. The archers, well, they remain where they are, one risen up from behind a fallen log, the other crouching behind a spray of sword-ferns. That one dodges to one side slightly after firing off an arrow, letting Asher's blade go whirling off behind. The spearperson and swordperson advance quickly, rushing toward the two Delinquents.

Cassandra would hold onto that horse, really, she would. It's great advice, quite the step up from 'keeping her weight centred', but when another arrow goes flying towards her head, she has little time to keep it. Her hand slips from Steak and New Boots' mane, and she slides inexorably down to the ground, landing in a rolling tumble without so much as a word. The shaft skips past her hairline, at least not puncturing her brain, but there is an unprecedented amount of blood pouring down her temple and a sickening crack. Her black hair forms a ruddy, matted halo around her head where she lies sprawled in the dirt, her scrawny, Ark-rationed form curling at the bottom of the rise they mounted before the ambush.

The knife goes wide, which…well, Ash couldn't have really hoped for better. He's not skilled in thrown weaponry. It wasn't a balanced throwing knife. It was one of his shivs. Asher tried to grab Cassandra as she fell off the horse, but he catches an arrow to the back. It is again, a glancing blow, the arrow doesn't stick in him. Still, it is enough that he can't grab Cassandra. "Cass! FUCK!" he calls out as he is inexorably lead to face a very dire situation. He could run. Right here, right now, he could bounce, ride back to camp and leave her to the Grounders. Or he can get off his horse, fight and definitely, definitely lose.

The decision may not be hard, but it definitely ain't easy. Asher pulls out his axe and dismounts Steak and New Boots. The horse for its part will likely run to camp. It's home afterall. Asher, with a look of absolute rage and determination stalks past Cassandra's form and towards the Grounders that are moving in on them. If he's gonna die, he's gonna go out fighting.

<COMBAT> Grounder31 attacks Asher with Bow but MISSES!
<COMBAT> Cassandra passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder32 passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder30 attacks Asher with Sword - Moderate wound to Right Hand.
<COMBAT> Grounder21 passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder20 attacks Asher with Spear - Serious wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Asher attacks Grounder30 with Axe but Grounder30 DODGES!

One of the Grounders with bows, and the one with the crossbow both go rushing off after the horse, while the second bowperson fires off another shot at Asher, although the arrow whips past harmlessly as it is aimed to avoid hitting the other Grounders closing with the Delinquents. The Grounders in skull masks, however, are a good bit more dangerous, the spearwoman feinting a thrust here and there until she can draw out a response, then drawing back to allow the swordsman to strike at Asher's weapon hand. Only then does the spear flicker back in, thrusting for the hollow of his throat.

There's a flash of the spear and Asher retracts back, a step, and then the sword flashes at him. Asher's axe hand is cut as he raises it to block. The delinquent winces and releases the Axe, his left hand sweeping out to grab it as it drops. It's pretty much the coolest thing he manages to pull off in what will be his quickest defeat ever. There were a lot of ways this could have gone. If he'd managed to keep Cassandra on the horse, they could have gotten away. Running though…He wasn't about to run and leave her to get killed or worse. There had to be worse, right? He has a feeling he's going to find out. That spear lashing out for the hollow of his throat almost kills him. He manages to move his head to the side enough to keep from being run through, but the spear head slashes through a good portion of his throat and he starts to gush blood.

One last bloody stand then? He barely has the energy to stand any more. Asher takes a slow step back, his axe in his left hand as he watches the two. He takes up the most defensive stance he can with the injuries he's taken, "I'm not backing down…So let's get this over with…" His voice is harsh and raspy from the gash across his throat no doubt.

<COMBAT> Grounder20 attacks Asher with Spear - Light wound to Head.
<COMBAT> Grounder32 passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder30 attacks Asher with Sword - Moderate wound to Chest.
<COMBAT> Grounder31 passes.
<COMBAT> Grounder21 passes.
<COMBAT> Cassandra passes.
<COMBAT> Asher attacks Grounder30 with Axe - Critical wound to Neck.
<COMBAT> Asher has been KO'd!

Even as the archer slings bow, draws an axe, and advances, and the other archer and the crossbowperson continue to chase after Steak and New Boots, drama plays out in the little patch of open ground between the trees, logs, and ferns. The spearwoman circles around Asher, aiming to split him between the three with melee weapons, and her spear flickers out again, this time high. The swordsman closes quickly, and gets a little too close a little too quickly. He thrusts his sword at Asher's chest, but takes a left-handed blow that glances along his neck, opening up a long, nasty slash… and one from which the blood pulses darkly. The spearwoman calls out in Trigedasleng in the direction of the chasing Grounders, but keeps her focus on the Delinquent.

Three on one, with more injuries than he's ever experienced and in more pain than he's ever known, Asher is too stubborn to just give up. His neck is gushing blood and he can already feel himself about to pass out. The spear to the back of his head causes him to fall to one knee, and as he tries to stand, he finds blade thrust into his chest. Asher gags and lashes out once with his axe, the blade catching the Grounder's neck. Unfortunately not deeply enough to kill him outright. Asher collapses a moment later in a bloody heap.

And so ends the chapter of the Eighty-Nine — possibly. Ninety-One remain alive for now, but things look poor for Asher and Cassandra. The girl, in her less noble fall, is looking worse and worse by the second as the boy collapses some way away in the dirt. Blood drips from her nostrils and her ears with no visible entry wound, and a large, jagged swelling upon her temple has half of her face coated in blackened dirt mingled with crimson. To put it bluntly: she looks like roadkill. The Grounder-made machete she's grown so very attached to is stripped from her side, where her poor wardrobe choice of a Grounder-made bag likewise hangs. Inside there are faded New England postcards — trinkets, trophies of their own dead. Like an agape fish, her mouth hangs open as she's jostled about.

Steak and New Boots out-distances its pursuers long enough for them to be called back, the two Grounders rushing back to their Critically wounded fellow. The crossbow-person kneels down and applies pressure to the wound, doing their best to staunch the bleeding, while another quickly whips up a little fire and starts heating up a knife. The other two approach the fallen Delinquents, Asher first, then Cassandra, searching them quickly and roughly for weapons, taking them away, and then binding their hands and doing their best for the worst of their bleeding.

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