Day 019: In A Hole Lot Of Trouble
Summary: Cassandra and Asher finally find out their fate after being captured by Grounders.
Date: 4 June 2016
Related: Crashing into an Ambush
Cassandra Asher NPCSonia Grounders 

Somewhere on Trikru Lands
Somewhere in the forests of Trikru.
18 Days After Landing

Sunlight streams down through the thieves hole as the morning begins to stray toward the afternoon. Cassandra and Asher have not seen a soul since the basket of breakfast was sent down to them — a rather hearty oatmeal mixed with berries, raw milk, and something like dried links of sausage. Since that moment, there has been a strange lull of silence around the hole. Then a shadow befalls the pair, and a tall, slim woman with pale skin beneath the swathes of Trikru ash and black hair caught in a multitude of braids. She begins to squat down slowly, looking into the hole.

Cassandra has seen better days. A large, purple bruise colours the side of her head, where an arrow shot even a millimetre closer to the right would have skewered her brain. A bandage partitions her hair to hide a wound beneath it, but more worrisome are the telltale signs which cannot be hidden; grainy rivulets of fresh blood mingled with dry seep from her ears and nostrils, interspersed with the occasional drip of a strange, bright orange drip evacuating her nose. She sits propped upright against the wall of the pit, arms around her knees, and has been refusing food. Instead she feasts on humour, now that her bag-bruised eyes seem able to keep cracked awake for longer than just a few minutes. "You look like shit," the pot calls the kettle black, focusing on Asher with an ear-splitting grin. She does not have the strength in her to look upwards towards their spying host, but by her visibly concerted effort to remain conscious, it's likely she's made sense of the new shadow.

It's been a very long night. After their capture, Asher awoke to minimal treatments. He's lost a lot of blood, between the gash on his neck and barely missed his carotid artery and the sword he took to the chest. Near death was an understatement when he was first taken. More so than ever, he wishes he'd just rode off on that horse. "Thanks." Ash replies with a mingled frown and smirk. His gaze flickers to Cassandra. His voice is barely there, it's froggish and faint from the open wound on his neck. He winces from that one word. His eyes move to the shadow being cast by the Grounder staring in and them, "It's rude to stare." he half whispers, as he can't speak much louder than that now.

"You should eat," says a low, precise voice above them. The woman has been watching the pair now in silence, and her brow arches slightly. "It is rude not to eat food that has been freely given, and you will need your strength for what comes ahead." She does not raise from her squat, continuing to stare down at the pair. Her elbows rest upon her knees, fingers lightly twined together. Near Cassandra's foot there is a soft squeak, and what looks like a rather greasy mouse starts to skitter over her calf.

The truth of why Cassandra hasn't been eating is very simple and human: it hurts to. She feels like she might be about to decant her brain each time she moves her head, and has a tendency to fall unconscious soon after. This, she presumes, is what it would feel like to be out on a spacewalk, and so it's ironic that she finally has the experience down here on Earth. The thought of moving her jaw continuously to chew is nauseating, and so her share of their generous meals are left to Asher and mice.

But the Grounders don't need to know that. In fact, the wily brunette reckons, they might even respect her if they believe her hunger strike is a stubborn exercise in restraint, similar to that displayed by their own when they were prisoners at the Dropship. "Your people didn't think so," she answers the unseen voice weakly, still looking at Asher. "When they were our captives." They also didn't talk… much. But they don't have to do things exactly alike! She tries to gently brush the mouse away when it tries to climb her calf, using the back of her clothed arm rather than touch it with her hand.

Asher may be injured beyond the capacity to be a threat, but the dark glare he casts upon the Grounder woman has all the hallmarks of a death-stare. "It's rude to ambush people and take them prisoner…" Ash begins, and his voice sounds more hoarse with every word he speaks. "Ceasefire…" A beat pause and Asher looks to the food, kicking his foot out to scatter it away from him, "It's probably fuckin' posin…" He is cut off by a hacking cough, wet and sickly and foul sounding.

"My people have had more experience being captives than your people," says the stranger in her flat, precise voice. She shifts slightly in her squat, fingers flexing and working together in her fingerless, leather gloves. She does not smile, though there is a hint of amusement that starts to filter in. "You did not agree to a ceasefire with me." Then she starts to stand, barking an order in Trigedasleng. There is the sound of voices and movement, and the woman begins to step away from the hole. Two large Grounders pass into view, and a rope is thrown down into the hole. It has wide wooden toggles that act as rungs, creating a crude if not slightly precarious ladder. "Up," the woman's voice orders from the bright sunshine above.

When the rope is cast down, Cassandra exhales, but all the same starts to steadily pull herself to her feet, extending her hands to the sides of the pit. "We reeeeally should have fucked," she tells Asher in front of their hosts, in her potentially final moments, now that she's far less physically appealing. "Now we both get to die a virgin. At least I got that pony-ride." Her head swims, and her legs are visibly shaky. Evidently, climbing that haphazard ladder is going to be no easy task.

At first Asher looks at the rope and shakes his head, "Fuck off. Not happening." This is said in a louder, more forceful voice than he'd managed before, but he is visibly in pain from saying it. And then Cassandra gets up. Her words earn a smirk from him and he glances from her to the rope. "Who you callin' a virgin?" he hoarsely whispers? A beat pause and he adds on, "We don't have to do this…" We could wait down here for them to kill us in a hole.

"You would rather die in the hole?" The woman has returned to the edge of the hole, and she smirks a bit. "You see, you are going to be my messengers… you are going to return to your camp and deliver a message… so you can either die down there, or you can live to be my messengers." She gestures down into the pit. "Your choice, little birds."

"What are you going to do about it?" asks Cassandra, when Asher challenges that most vile accusation of hers. Because even with a cracked skull and cerebrospinal fluid dripping from her nose, she's still always looking for a fight. She sways towards that rope-ladder, looking much like a surly-yet-sleepy drunk, and it takes her several attempts before she manages to catch one of the rungs in her hand. Even then, her toes drag in the dirt, and she windmills with some difficulty to get her other hand in place — at any moment, apt to topple anew into a heap on the ground. She catches her breath, struggling, then bids adieu: "See you on the other side, Asher," which could have many possible meanings. Foremost among them is clear: she hasn't given up just yet.

Asher falls silent as he watches Cassandra. Those last few words were difficult. Talking hurts too much. He didn't eat for the same reason as Cassandra. Swallowing hurt too much. He tried it. He watches as she tries to grab the rope ladder and slowly he gets to his feet, moving over to at least help stabilize her. He may not like where they are, or how they got here, but he isn't going to turn his back on his only ally, no matter how selfish and stubborn she may be. Apparently he's not going to die in this hole.

The Grounders take steps back from the hole, giving the pair room to climb up the ladder. When they reach the top of the hole, they find themselves not inside a village or settlement, but instead in a clearing of a younger forest than the trees grown around the dropship. There are three fairly large Grounders hanging around, but it is the tall, willowy woman who stands, waiting for them. Her features are sharp and angular with a long jawline, elegant nose, and sharp green eyes. Her hair is a shiny black and braided. There is a ragged scar at her throat — a hangman's scar. She crosses her arms at her chest, waiting for the two to get their bearings.

Cassandra turns to look at Asher, starry-eyed… at least on her end, because she has a migraine aura and is seeing all kinds of dizzying lights right now. But there's a subtle nod of acknowledgement and thanks she gives beneath it when he helps stabilise her, large enough to get the message across and small enough to not send her sprawling. With his aid, she manages to reach the top of that pit, but only to fall forward in the dirt as soon as her arms reach the surface. She swings her legs to the top much in the manner that she's vaguely learned to dismount a horse, extricating herself with care so as not to kick her only ally in the head.

On the ground, she rolls over to look up at their host at last, and doesn't even bother to get up.

Starry-eyed…Asher has that effect on the ladies. They all put him up on this murderous pedestal. He helps Cassandra up the rope ladder and he will follow. Mostly because now that she's up there, he isn't going to leave her to whatever fate alone. So up the ladder he goes. It is slow going for Asher as well. His right hand his badly lacerated, he can barely lift his right arm after the stab wound, and he's generally exhausted and malnourished. Despite all of this, he does not wince, he does not flinch and he does not make any pained sounds. He doesn't want to give them the satisfaction.

The tall woman looks over the pair in turn, almost sizing them up. She then crosses her arms at her chest, rolling back her strong shoulders as she does. She flicks her kohl-smeared eyes toward one of her warriors, and says something in rough note. The man nods, and starts off into the woods to the east. She looks back at them now. "I am Sonia kom Trikru, and you will deliver to your people that war has been called, and your people will answer for the lives lost at Thripoda." Her words are sharp, precise and filled with cold anger.

Cassandra takes in the sight of Sonia kom Trikru with bleary eyes, her hands bracing the ground she lies on. She leans to the side, checking to see if Asher's managed to climb out of that hole yet and offering her arm for him to grab onto, though she doesn't get up. "Thripoda?" she asks, straining to make sense of even her own words, alongside the Grounder's. "We… what happened?"

"We agreed to a ceasefire with Oxfor!" Asher tries to shout. It's a failed attempt. His voice is too hoarse for any actual shouting. "You attacked us, we have't fucking attacked anyone!" At least, not since the last time, and that was weeks ago. They can't still be mad about that! He grimaces at the pain in his throat and falls silent after that, lifting a hand to his bandaged neck. The wound is open and raw. It's bleeding through the bandage actively.

"Something came from the sky," Sonia growls, that calm and cold countenance breaking slightly, "and it completely destroyed one of our villages. There was nothing left by ash, the lakes boiled almost dry." The Trikru warchief is stepping forward, though she stops before her advance could cause the pair to go tumbling back into the hole. "Oxfor," she snorts. "He has gone soft… agreeing so easily with people we hardly know." She snaps her fingers a bit, showing a flare of impatience. "Your ceasefire may have been with Oxfor, but it wasn't with me and it wasn't with Indra kom Trikru. Your people will pay for the deaths you have wrought."

"Wait," says Cass. She tries to raise her hands in a gesture of surrender, but this proves to be a bad idea which sees her fall back on her side. One palm, at least, remains held up. "The people who fell from the sky… that wasn't us. Those were our enemies. We were headed there to make sure they were dead." Although her vision is swimming, she fixes her gaze hazily upon Sonia kom Trikru, for impression's sake, at least. Surprisingly, the duplicitous delinquent doesn't even have to lie in her efforts to save her own skin, here. With a purse of her dry, parched lips, she pauses and then slowly affirms, "I'm guessing, then, there weren't any survivors from the sky, either."

A nod comes from Asher to affirm what Cassandra said, "We aren't in the sky…We didn't bring anything down. That was them…" he points his finger skyward. No where near the Ark's current position, but it's a gesture. His voice gets quieter, talking too much is causing him issues, "They cast us down here, exiled us."

"People?" Sonia snorts. "There were no people of yours." She shakes her head, stepping back a stride now. She turns her eyes to the woods, and out comes two riders on rather plain-looking horses. The warchief fixes the two with a hard look, though she does not seem all that moved by their words. "Unfortunate for you then, that you will still carry a message of war."

With a grimace, Cassandra props herself up onto her elbows, craning her neck to peer over at the approaching horses. "We don't want to fight you," she tensely protests. "Our enemies are in the sky. We'd be your allies." And this she says even to those who tried to put an arrow through her head. There aren't that many options here, and beggars can't be choosers.

Asher decides to let Cassandra do the rest of the pleading here. His voice is nearly gone and he's already decided that they aren't going to see reason. The message, he must assume, will come in the form of death, or some other major bodily harm. The young, thuggish brute squares his shoulders, settling his gaze on Sonia. He still remains silent and waits.

"I have heard such words before," Sonia replies, seemingly unmoved by their attempts. She steps up to the riders, speaking in a soft murmur to them. The she glances at the pair. "Can you mount on your own, or will you need assistance?" Then her mouth twitches with the threat of a smirk. "And will we need to bind your hands, or will you cooperate?"

For an ex-Solitary-confined delinquent who's six months past her eighteenth birthday and was recently shot in the head, Cassandra really doesn't seem all that keen on the prospect of being floated, nor stepping into that proverbial airlock. If Asher's reached the 'acceptance' stage, she remains firmly in the bargaining, and doesn't look apt to budge. She nods to the warchief, cooperative but lacking an air of resignation. "At least… give us our weapons back… to defend ourselves if we run into trouble on the way," she beseeches. She doesn't answer that question about needing help mounting, but sends a glance to the tall saddles from where she's sprawled on the ground, and that surely says it all.

Acceptance may not be wholly right, but he certainly isn't bargaining anymore. Asher's gaze narrows at the suggestion that he should come quietly. It's really not in his nature to come quietly. He stares at Sonia. Asher stands firmly where he is, unwilling to move or to come quietly, and apparently unwilling to speak. He may not have the energy to fight, but he still has the will. Barely.

"You will get your weapons back when you are dropped off," Sonia says flatly. Then she nods at the riders, before she steps forward. Two of her silent warriors step in to begin to help Cassandra to her feet, and Sonia fixes her gaze on Asher. She waits patiently, and then snorts. She snaps off something to one of the warriors helping Cassandra up, and the man leaves the girl to the dark-skinned woman at Cass's side to grab Asher at the shoulder, and gives him a shove. "I doubt you wish to walk behind the horses for the miles ahead… so do not make this harder on yourselves."

Sonia's promise for their weapons has Cassandra's ragged expression creasing in a subtle frown as she's hauled to her feet. She may be a weasel, but she also knows when there's a cat on her tail, and bargaining or no… well, that could just as easily she'll be getting skewered with her own machete as a message, as it does that the Trikru will play fair — which so far they have not. That's enough to give anyone pause to worry. She sends a bleary glance to Asher as he's shoved and she's hauled to her feet, but she doesn't fight against her captors. "Our horse is better trained to carry us," she quietly suggests. Having hit the ground long before said horse bolted and Asher went charging axe-blazing into the fray, Steak and New Boots' fate is unknown to her.

"He's gone." Ash says flatly to Cass. The shove earns a glare from Asher, and while he is definitely jostled forward by the Grounder he growls out in a hoarse whisper, "Last guy who got in my face nearly lost his head…" Of course, Ash got the shit kicked out of him before that, but he's clinging to what he was able to do. He glances to Cassandra and then back at Sonia before he takes a deep breath in, and releases it, slowly limping towards the horse.

"Your horse is not here," Sonia says without pause nor much inflection. "If it was trained well, it would have returned to whoever you stole it from." Her eyes flick toward her warrior, and she smirks a bit. She does not say anything more as the two are directed to the horses. Cassandra will be given a lot more care when she is hoisted up and pulled onto the horse behind the tall, lean rider. A rope is lashed around her waist, and it is tied to the saddle, mostly to ensure that the concussed girl does not take a spill while in transit. Asher will not be given such support, perhaps because his mere size would probably cause more harm to the rider and horse if he was tied to the saddle as Cassandra is.

Cassandra has some experience riding double at the back of a saddle, and it did not go well for her last time — although at least this time, she'll be tied down and thus less likely to injure herself or the hosa in front of her. Letting out a breath in anticipation of what will surely be a bumpy ride, she lets her bandaged head droop into the lean woman's shoulder, and decides that if they're going to be sharing a saddle, they may as well get to know each other first. "I like your hair," she offers. "Ai laik Kasandra kom Skaikru."

Asher only needs minimal help getting up on the horse, mostly because his hand is almost useless and he's been stabbed so the rest of that arm is only slightly more useful. He doesn't speak the rest of the time he's loaded onto the horse and he doesn't fight. It's not for a lack of desire, just a lack of physical strength. He's tired, everything hurts and he's likely got an infection. He remembers the feeling from the bite he got on his leg. Would that he could snap the neck of the guy he's riding behind…

The Grounder flicks a glance over her shoulder at Cassandra, one brow lofted. Then she shrugs and settles into her saddle more easily before she grunts out a low, rumbling, "Enan." That could be a name, maybe? The woman doesn't clarify as she starts to draw the horse forward, beginning to head to the northwest. Asher's rider does not seem at all put out that the skaikru doesn't engage him in conversation.

The ride is quiet, entering a soft lull. If Cassandra tries to speak more with her rider, she is given grunts at best and silent scowls at worst. The ride drags on for what might be hours, but soon they come across a familiar grove of cedars and asphalt chunks. They are not too far from the camp now — three hours walk. The horses begin to slow.

"Heya, Enan kom Trikru," Cass replies. In what could be chalked up to a climbing fever and a declining volume of fluid in her skull, she continues trying to make a few passing remarks to her captor. She's asleep half the time, but every so often she wakes up and says saccharine things like, "I never meant for things to come to this, you know," or "Hey, thanks for not roughing us up more than you need to. You're not so bad." She smiles as best she can, with the full knowledge that she may be dead any minute now. But since Enan kom Trikru — if that is her name — isn't much of a talker, Kasandra kom Skaikru stays mostly silent herself. A comfortable silence, she likes to think, but she's not really fit to think at the moment, given her head injury. The familiar ground is given a nauseous, spinning stare when she swims back into consciousness.

Running on vapor and fumes, Asher has almost no energy left. They barely slept on the journey to the crash site. He barely ate, he's been stabbed, shot with arrows and had his neck sliced open. In all, he's barely able to keep himself awake on the ride. He doesn't have the energy for conversation, or for fighting back. He however refuses to fall asleep.

Enan arches a brow at Cassandra, looking a touch bemused. But then she nods to her fellow rider as the horses come to a stop. The boy in the other saddle is jostled and then dropped heavily to the grassy ground of the grove. The horse manages not to step on him though as the rider pulls the dark mount aside. The rider dismounts, moving to help Enan untie and then pull down Cassandra from the saddle. Enan speaks now, though her voice as gained a softer note to it — or just has always been soft, "You should not linger here… you have far to go to your camp…" Beat pause, and the warrior woman squints a bit before she draws out the weapons and bags from her saddle. Her fellow rider offers the two back their gear — though the offer is really just dropping them onto the ground beside Asher.

It would be easy to hate Enan, but Cassandra tends to hate everyone. It is her default state, and so in this situation, she manages to find a bleak, common humanity with the second person she's shared a saddle with. "Mochof," she says to the Grounder as she's pulled down, but despite the advice given, she then moves to collapse into a heap by Asher's side. "Ai laik moba kos… yu lukot death." She looks up towards the soft-spoken woman, stringing together the few common Trigedasleng phrases she knows to form a sentence as best she can, save that last word. 'Death' hasn't yet come up in polite conversation with the Grounders. "Leidon."

Asher put up a minimal amount of fight when he was pushed off the horse and hits the ground with a thud and a cough. He doesn't move as Enan speaks, nor as Cassandra does. The returned weapons get a brief glance. Very brief. He doesn't have the energy to do much about it. Sure, if he was full up to snuff, he'd grab them and kill Enan or die trying. As it stands he can barely manage to keep his eyes open. It's a long way back to camp, and apparently they are supposed to walk…What if they just didn't, though?

"Wan," Enan supplies without missing a beat, but then she looks a bit uncertain at the ease in which she has supplied Cassandra the word for death. Then the other ride goes to take his saddle once more, drawing himself onto the horse. Enan pulls her reins around, beginning to lead her horse back the way they have come. They do not speak back over their shoulders to the pair, leaving them there beneath cedar and beside chunks of asphalt.

"Wan," Cassandra repeats, with a suitably wan smile. She watches Enan and the other rider dance away like a pair of mounted nymphs — for this is the view she has from her swimming, fever-ridden vision, and then turns to spread her germs with a forearm on Asher's shoulder, the side that hasn't taken a spear to the neck. "Sorry about your horse," she mutters to her fellow delinquent, making no move to get up either.

Still breathing shakily from the landing, Asher replies in rough and shaky tone, "Doubt I'll live long enough to care." A beat pause, and he adds, "Bet you wish you'd fucked me now, huh…I'll never look that good again." He tries to joke, but the jest is mired in wheezing breaths and stray coughs. He sighs dully, "Any idea which way?"

"Luckily I'm still pretty," counters the girl with racoon eyes and a crusty leak from both ears and nostrils. "I think Enan might be back to ride off into the sunset with me." Burying that roughed-up mug of hers into the crook of her arm and his shaking shoulder as he coughs, she shakes her head. "I'm going to bed." Typical teenager.

"Whatever you say…" Asher intones quietly, totally out of quipping energy at this point. His eyes close as well and in middle of the woods where they were deposited, he passes out. Cassandra's head wound is more serious, but Asher was wounded so many times, he's having a hard time keeping his energy up.

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