Day 030: En Route Report
Summary: On his way to report to Lexa in Polis, Arlin meets Lexa on her way to Tondc. Information is relayed and plans are made.
Date: 30 June 2016
Related: None Directly
Arlin Lexa 

On the Road linking Polis and Tondc
Somewhere on the road running between Tondc and Polis.
Day 30

It's been approximately three weeks since Arlin last set foot in Polis, having been sent to investigate the strange Sky sickness that infected the village Coesbur, and to what, if anything, of use he might learn about the since dubbed Skaikru. Like a good soldier, he sent reports via messengers. This day, though, he's seen fit to speak directly with the Heda. In part, it simply is more efficient because she surely will have questions. In part, being stuck in Tondc did to agree with him, to make a gross understatement, especially on the heels of revisiting his once childhood home, which was disconcerting enough.

So it is that the medic set out with a trade wagon, riding up front with the driver. (People tend to be very helpful when one works for the Big Boss.) They're coming up in the midway mark, and Arlin is whittling away the time by playing something very bluesy on his harmonica while rhythmically tapping and lightly stomping his feet against the wooden plank of the foot rest.

Al Blake

Three horsemen approach. One trots along several paces ahead of the other two. The nut-brown gelding's rider is a young woman in a heavy coat and armor, and a katana-like sword is worn across her back. Her brown hair is woven back in a series of braids and knots, leaving her black-smeared face in plain view. A small, decorative disk of metal about the size of an old Earth nickel is set between her brows, clearly identifying her as Lexa kom Trikru.

The three slow as they near the trade wagon, leading their horses aside the road so that the wagon can pass. It takes the Heda just a moment to recognize the healer and his harmonica, and one brow arches ever so slightly. She casts her eyes sidewalks to the large rider to her right, and she murmurs something. The man nods and starts to dismount. Lexa rests her hand lightly on the horn of her western-style saddle, looking relaxed with her head held high. "Still avoiding horses, Arlin kom Trikru?" Her words are offered without much humor, but there is a touch of mirth in her dark eyes. The traders do not immediately recognize Lexa — but then again, unless Lexa frequently visits every village in Trikru, it is unlikely that every Trikru knows what the Heda looks like beyond a rough description. It is that aforementioned metal disk on her forehead that gives her away, when it is eventually noticed.

No shame whatsoever in his horse hate. None. or in his lack of riding.

"Not doin' a very good job of it, am I, seeing how I've been stuck behind a horse's ass for the past too many hours?" Arlin replies with a cheeky smile, after wrapping up his little ditty with a few more notes. Sonny — that being his harmonica, for those not already in the know — is wiped down with part of the medic's shirt, then tucked away in its designated place of safekeeping upon the man's person. "Also looks like my vacation is being cut short."

Which, as an aside, he affably informs the driver, "I think this might be my stop, Amos." It's a winsome enough smile that he flashes. "Gimme a moment to find out?" Arlin must've been a pleasant enough travel companion — or the driver simply doesn't want to upset someone in the Heda's employ — because the medic gets his wish.

And then attention is back on Lexa, brows lofted in the unspoken question of: Now what, Boss?

Lexa actually smiles then, flexing her fingers off and on around the horn of her saddle. She dips a nod to the driver, and then her gaze fixes on Arlin once more. She is quiet for a moment, particularly in the wake of his lofted, silent question. Then she swings out of her own saddle with the grace and precision of a well-trained rider. She draws the reins of her horse over his dusty brown neck, and then offers them to the burly bodyguard who has already dismounted. "Gustus, see to the horses," she murmurs.

Then she turns to Arlin and nods. "We will take Arlin kom Trikru the rest of the way. Thank you for offering him passage this far." She clasps her hands together in front of her, fingers neatly woven together. She waits now for Arlin to disembark the wagon, though she seems posed to step away from the road, several paces so that they cave have a touch of privacy.

The Heda's will shall be done. So it is that Arlin is grabbing his rucksack and medic satchel, and then hopping off the wagon with a, "Thanks for the lift." Shouldering his gear, he upnods to Gustus and the other rider, then makes his way over to Lexa, grass and gravel crunching underfoot.

"Don't thank me yet, Arlin," Lexa says, voice a touch less formal once the man has joined her at the side of the road. "We will be on our way back to Tondc shortly." Which she knows will thrill Arlin to no end. She nods gently to the trader, waiting for him to move on before she tilts her head back up and over to Arlin.

The Commander's expression settles into a thoughtful, pensive look. "It is time to meet with these Skaikru now that their… what is it that Rinnan called it?" She looks at Arlin, prompting him to offer the name of their Sky City. Whether or not she is given it, she nods her chin south. "But, tell me what you were coming to Polis to report."

The thanks were for the now departing Amos & Co., but even Arlin has moments when he has enough sense to keep his mouth shut. The tight, bitchy little smile that follows the next of what Lexa relays gives way to a sarcastic, "Can't wait." Because, really, if he never returns to Tondc again, that is entirely okay. Alas, just as there are perks in working for the Heda, there is also stuff that you really can't say no to when you'd rather not be tortured and/or killed.

When Lexa prompts him, Arlin's in the middle of wiping down his forehead with his left sleeve, ball cap held in his right hand. "They call it the Ark," he informs her, re-donning and adjusting the hat until it's just so. "It wasn't supposed to come down like that, though. Or so they claim. There were supposed to be more if those dropships, but not the actual sky city. So either something went very wrong, or they are lying liars. Although those two things aren't mutually exclusive. Part of it seems to have landed around Lake Audo. Scouts are observing."

Still on the subject of Skaikru, Arlin adds, "I know of at least two Skaikru from the vanguard that are in Tondc with Wren kom Trikru. He took one as a second and one as a lover." Cue the smirk that is somewhere between wry and sardonic. "In fact, it seems quite a few from Coesbur don't see any problem bedding with them." It's not his job to play Sex Police, but it is his job to report possible threats to security, and shacking up with those who still technically are the enemy because they are not official allies qualifies as a possible threat to security.

There is more to report, if judging by his expression, but Arlin pauses there, in case Lexa has any questions.

Lexa meets Arlin's smile with a casual one of her own — it is only slightly amused at the very corners. Then her expression settles back into that perfected Trikru stoicism as she listens to the beginning of his report. The Commander clasps her hands behind her in a relaxed pose, though her brow arches ever-so-slightly when Arlin shares the tidbit about Wren and his second and his lover. Her expression darkens a touch. "Indra kom Trikru has only just agreed to the beginning of peacetalks, and already we have taken some of them on as seconds?" She does not seem to be quite so perturbed about the lovers, but bringing Skaikru into the Trikru? That sets her jaw on edge.

"How certain are we that these Skaikru are not enemies?"

How certain, she asks. "Not at all," he replies, quite matter-of-factly. "The vanguard made overtures to make peace, but many predators wait for a moment of weakness to strike." FACT. "They brought a strange sickness that infected Coesbur but also aided in its treatment. We have no way of knowing whether to not this was a ruse on their part to win over out trust, but it seems to have worked on Oxfor." And although Arlin refrains from vocalizing how idiotic — he's not feeling charitable enough to consider it gullible — he believes all this sudden chumminess to be, his smirk says it all.

"The Skaikru were warned of the wrath of the Mountain, about the use of guns and missiles and nuclear weapons." To his credit, Arlin maintains his composure, apart from a bit of a growl to his words and a decidedly sour expression that has a simmering of anger in his brim-shaded eyes. "They lied about having guns. Then they used them on several occasions, and one of them, named Greh, insisted they will keep using them even knowing that it would put their allies in Coesbur at risk. So whether or not they lack malice, they are dangerous."

Speaking of which, "Coesbur's been evacuated," the medic continues. "There's been an increase in Reaper activity and reports of fog coming from the Mountain, but no other strikes." And that visibly troubles Arlin. Not that having an exploded village is a good thing, but he doesn't like this lack of consistency. Based on the timeline from when guns were last used, a missile should've already been sent. If it had been sent, it would've been seen and heard from afar. No such thing has yet to transpire. "Perhaps they no longer have the means." Perhaps that's just wishful thinking. "Perhaps we should consider mounting a strike of our own." Never mind no one yet figuring out how to avoid being eaten alive by the acid air — or that Arlin is far from neutral or objective when it comes to Mount Weather.

Arlin's words darken Lexa's expression. Her arms flex, even while her hands remain behind her and fingers twined together. Her eyes slide toward the south again, where Tondc and this so-called Ark lie. It is hard to tell what she is thinking behind that careful mask. Her gaze slides back to Arlin as he speaks of guns, and the Mountain, and her chin lowers as her gaze turns predatory.

There is a long, thoughtful silence from Lexa following his own considerations, and then her chin nods ever so slightly. She reaches up to her forehead where the small disk of metal is set between her brows. Very carefully, she peels the decor from her skin, leaving a faint mark of adhesive. That is a very meaningful motion. "Then it is time that I observe the Skaikru, and learn about them without the pretenses of diplomacy." Subterfuge, it seems, is on the menu. Her gaze slides to Gustus and her other bodyguard, and then back to Arlin. "Meeting the Commander will set them into this cycle of lies — " If they are lies. " — and I would like to see what they say and do if they do not believe they are in my presence." She tucks the disk into her pocket, and begins to remove her sword in a smooth motion.

To his credit, Arlin doesn't press about the Mountain. As brash and impassioned as he can be in everyday life — and as triggered into volatility as he can be when his few buttons have been pushed (and have they ever been pushed these past few weeks) — he's still playing a long game. One that involves those firearms (and who knows what else) the Skaikru possess.

When Lexa removes the disk, the medic's eyes widen. Not comedically, but noticeably. His mouth also opens a little bit, hanging for a moment, then closing, then opening again to more silence, moving a little as though trying to find words — which, admittedly, is probably the kind of thing to be found in a sitcom. Eventually, his mouth again closes, and his brows furrow into a mingling of pensiveness and 'okaaaaaaaay'. "Well," he finally says, "you let me know what you want me to do." Which they both know is stating the obvious — because, of course, she'll tell him what she wants him to do — but cut the guy some slack. What /is/ he supposed to say in a moment like this? "Regardless of whether or not that have honor or are trustworthy, I believe I can learn something of their medicines, if given access." Also, GUNS, but he definitely keeps that to himself.

Lexa flicks her eyes to Arlin, brow barely arched. She is surprised somewhat that he does not press about the Mountain, but that vague change of expression is all that is offered. She steps up to Gustus, handing him her sword. The man arches his brows high when the Commander sheds off her jacket, and gives that to Gustus as well. Then she looks back to Arlin.

"I will walk back with you to Tondc." Aww, look. She said walk, and not ride, which totally is a gracious offering to Arlin. "Your simple role is to not share my identity with the Skaikru, nor other Trikru who do not recognize me." She will of course change her clothes and wash her face clear of the smudges of ash and oil. Few have seen Lexa outside of Polis, and fewer still without her attire and war paint. "All you need to do is point me to the Skaikru. I will find out if they are truly worthy allies… or if we should bring the whole of the Coalition to remove them."

The faintly arched brow? He notices. Probably because it's in reaction to the Mountain. And although Arlin can absolutely be cool, calm, and collected in most high stress situations — his line of work requires an ability to compartmentalize — he's more emotive than the average Trikru, whether it be anger or puckish delight. For all that he has a habit of leaping before he looks, as generally is the case with visceral people, he actually has a really good mind that he sometimes manages to use.

In this moment, it's a bit of both, because he blurts out, "What? I think it's pretty obvious where I stand on it, but it's not my call to go. Would it make you feel better if I outright said we should make nice with the Skaikru so we can use their weapons to burn down the Mountain? Because that's what I think." There. He said it. And not with the least bit of trepidation or shame. In fact, his chin lifts a bit and his shoulders square, because he utterly owns it.

For the record, he also smirks when she offers to forego riding. "Lemme know if you wanna borrow a pair of socks." Someone who walks as much as Arlin knows all the tricks to protect feet — and ankles, legs, knees, back… And, by this point, it might well be known that the medic has a killer collection of socks for long-distance hiking.

To the rest, he simply nods, fully capable pointing things out to Lexa and simply shrugging his shoulders when asked any questions about her.

Lexa casts Arlin a look at his blurted out words. "I have not met them yet, I have not seen how their leaders react, and if peace is indeed their intention. I will find out, and then I will decide." Her teeth flash a bit, and then she turns back to Gustus. "You will wait a day, and then continue to Tondc. You will report to Indra on behalf of the Heda." The large guard grunts his affirmation, but looks warily at Arlin.

The Heda looks back to Arlin now, and the offer of socks causes a small quirk of her lips. "I will let you know," she repeats dryly. Then the Commander begins to step back onto the road, looking far less Commander. "As for the Mountain… the Skaikru may bring the full wrath of the Mountain, but… perhaps there is hope of allies there." Though something in her tone is questionable. She will fall into stride with Arlin on the journey back to Tondc, and if they do talk, the conversation is casual and light rather than one of duty and tactics.

It can't be helped: Arlin smirks. "I never said how long we had to make nice beyond long enough to make use of what might be useful. If it turns out that they make good allies," of which he seems dubious but not bitingly so, "great. If not, let's get creative in how we spill their blood. One way or another, we'll find a way to make something worthwhile."

To Gustus, he gives a lopsided grin accompanied with two thumbs up, followed by the left hand dropping, and his left eye winking as he simultaneously makes an OKAY sign with the fingers of his right hand. Which surely (will not) make the bodyguard feel better.

As for the trip back to Tondc, let's be honest: Is anyone ever inclined to make small talk with the Heda? Does she even /do/ small talk? Arlin certainly isn't going to entertain himself by ribbing her or partaking in any other chummy pastime he inflicts on the likes of Britt and Rinnan. So that just leaves silence, whether awkward or comfortable, and the eventual breaking out of the harmonica. Good thing that he's actually skilled enough to make it sound good. Even better, he takes requests.

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