Day 026: My People
Summary: A pair of Skaisplitas, Boyscout and Selfish Bitch, discuss what it means to be a part of their own people… if indeed, they are. A negotiation for strategy is made for the upcoming battle, and a salacious rumour is spread.
Date: 22 June 2016
Related: Follows Offer's There Regardless
Cassandra Stone 

Cook Tent — the Camp
The Cook Tent is probably one of the larger tents on the grounds. It butts up against a wall of the dropship, and its ceiling is made of the tri-colored fabric of the drop parachute. Two of the other walls are made from a base of lashed tree trunks and a screen of thick evergreen branches. A prep area has been put together at the back, against the dropship. Someone with some mad skills has created their best approximation of a table, which is really just four almost-straight tree trucks standing upright with the flattest dropship panel they could find stretched across it. Everything is very organized with makeshift utensils and ingredients having their proper places. Attached to the tent is the beginnings of what will become a smokehouse. At the entrance to the tent is a box for donations of food to be used for the camp meals.
26 Days After Landing

It has been a strange rollercoaster of a couple of days and the sleep debt is starting to wear on Stone a bit. Knowing the convoy run is only a few hours away though, he figures it's best to get his ration of food in before trying to grab a nap, and so it was here the big guy lumbered in and now sits. Still bearing various weapons (sans rifle) for having just come off Watch, but free of bandages for like the first time in weeks, the scarred giant is sitting at and leaning on the table, alone save the cook of the day at other end of the tent. He seems to be making his tiny portion of stew stretch out by picking at it little bit by little bit and savoring each sip and bite like it could be his last. Given the danger of the water run… that may not be a bad assumption.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Cassandra=persuasion Vs Delinquent=4
< Cassandra: Success Delinquent: Good Success
< Net Result: Delinquent wins - Marginal Victory

In the ill-fitting, large and masculine garb of a Grounder, Cassandra is a tightly-bundled sight to behold. Having left camp on the day of the blockade and failed to return by nightfall, this disguise is how she made it back, rudimentary as it may be. For whatever reason, she hasn't removed it since. Fashioned of animal hides, it's starting to smell ripe, but that's no exception — juxtaposed against the majority of teenagers around camp who've scarcely washed or changed out of the same outfit they landed in, and have been wearing day-in, day-out.

As usual, she is armed: a thin wooden short-bow at her back, a makeshift parachute-material quiver, and a long-bladed steel machete sheathed at her hip. She comes into the Cook Tent not long after Billy Stone does, sending a glance over her shoulder to the rest of Tent City before she pointedly draws the flap across for privacy.

"Beat it," she brusquely demands of the on-duty cook. The muscular fellow who could easily take her in a fight despite her weapons — himself armed only with a wooden spoon — turns to give her a blank look, and doesn't budge.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Stone=Persuasion Vs Delinquent=4
< Stone: Success Delinquent: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

The shirtless, vest-draped soldier at the table glanced up with the entrance of the not-Grounder Cass, giving a particular look at that ugly arrow wound and its stitches in his throat, healed enough to be uncovered, but not any prettier for that. A dark brow arched at her outfit, and the other joined it with her trying to bully the cook, though Stone's full lips shifted to smirk at it and a little chuckle escaped when the guy refused.

Shaking his head a bit, the giant murmurs out to the guy good-naturedly. "It's cool, man. Give us two minutes if ya would. I'll make sure no one makes off with the food." The voice still has a bit of horror-movie gravelliness to it, but it's improving slowly and no longer sounds quite so deathly. As for the content of the words, the Boy Scout's the sort who most would take at his word in saying something like that, and the cook may or may not in this case.

Either way, the gigantic ex-C's going back to his slow stew-consumption, taking one more bite and, whether the guy left or not, offering it up Cass's way. "It's actually not a bad look for ya, Cassie. Bit wild for you, but not bad." A bit of lopsided smile to take any thought he's teasing her out of it and then he's going on amicably. "What can I do for ya that ya need privacy for?"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Cassandra=deception Vs Delinquent=4
< Cassandra: Good Success Delinquent: Success
< Net Result: Cassandra wins - Solid Victory

A mournful countenance settles over Cassandra's normally rough expression when the soldier refuses to leave at both her and Stone's demand. She turns back towards the drawn tent-flap, looking for a moment as if she might consider a departure, before she slowly, inexorably turns back towards the Boyscout.

"I… I wanted to talk to you about last night," she admits, letting out an exhale as she draws closer and intimately towards him, reaching out a gentle hand towards his shoulder. "What we… what we shared, it was special to me, and I need to know —"

Whoa. OK, the neighbouring delinquent gets it now. He flashes Stone a big, goofy, apologetic grin, sends an upnod his way and a knowing wag of his eyebrows, then backs the hell out. Leaving, at last, the supposed couple alone. Cassandra rolls her eyes, sinks back on her heels, and the act fades.

"Not a wild night of passionate love-making, obviously," she drolly assures him, once the sound of their scampering peer's footsteps disappears into the distance. Hands on her hips, her brusque manner returns. "You still need someone to be spotter up top for when Sonia arrives?"

"Obviously," Stone returns back with a dry humor, eyes glittering with mirth at her antic, despite trying to put on a disapproving face for the lying and the rumors she probably just started. Rumors than almost undoubtably are going to get back to his new tentmates. After her explanation becomes initially apparent though, he's giving a small snort and tipping attention back to his bowl to poke at the tiny hunk of meat with an almost ritualistically solemn precision. A sliver is carved off, brought up to mouth, chewed slowly, and finally swallowed. Maybe he was giving himself time to think of how to answer her. Maybe he was just testing her patience to see if she has any.

Either way, he's giving a big-shouldered shrug after his swallow and murmuring back, a little rasp of the throat-wound in his voice. "I have some who could probably handle it. No reason I couldn't use more eyes to see in more directions though. And you're still the only one who could point Sonia out to me so I could try and pop her." He gives her a suddenly rueful sort of smile, the dark chocolate of the eyes twinkling where they are threaded with gold in the iris. "The question is, of course, what you want for it." What? He doesn't think she's considering it just for the greater good?

Those rumours are probably already spreading like wildfire. Cassandra can just picture it. Hey, did you hear about Stone and Cassandra? She just came into the Cook Tent all hysterical! Unscrupulous as she is, she can't bring herself to care, and fortunately for Stone, this is well-known enough that people are equally likely to believe she was making it up or being plain batshit crazy as they are to believe they actually hooked up. Seeing that he takes it in good humour, though, has her smirking in return. The game is something she enjoys.

"Well see…" She sinks one shoulder slightly down to the side, placing a coy, saccharine inflection in her voice. "I know you didn't want me handling a gun initially, but now that Kai is gone — off with Fiona and Crew — I was thinking, maybe, well, she doesn't really need to know. It was mainly her who didn't want me holding a rifle, but you know full well the reason for that. She was mad that I erred on the side of safe than sorry and didn't instinctively believe that the next wave of Grounders was here to help us, but that's not really relevant right now. No one believes I'm actually going to shoot one of the Hundred." Or Eighty-Five, now. "We're at war. Period. There'll be blood. Heck, this isn't even about what I want for it, this is about what you want for it. A spotter is only half as useful as a sniper, or a spotter with a gun. Two people aiming at the Wicked Witch are better than one person aiming while the other tries to explain where she is in all the chaos there'll be, and if I tell you 'There, that one!' You'll probably just go, 'Which, that one?' It becomes a whole big thing. A really dumb mess. And with Kai out of the picture, no one needs to know, and I can take her gun."

Stone listens to the pitch with all due focus, despite going through his odd little slow ritual eating of ration, dark eyes unwavering from her, look fairly unreadable as to whether he's buying it, thinking it's bullshit, or on the fence. By the end of it, the big guy isn't replying back with a yes or a no. Hell, he's not even replying back at all for another long stretch of chewing, dark eyes sliding off her to stare at his food as if it held some deep meaning of the universe in it. Eventually though, his low gravelly return comes, even if it's as non-commital and bland a reply as is humanly possible. "Given this some thought, haven't you, Cass?"

For the agonisingly long wait that Stone torments Cassandra with, with his contemplative but inscrutable dark eyes, languidly enjoying his food, the tension is palpable on her end. Her own dark eyes search his, fixating, scanning every minute muscle spasm of his expression, her own screaming: Well?! She starts to look like a cat waiting to spring, immobile as she watches impatiently for his answer.

When he finally does answer — with a question, no less — her eyebrows quirk, the corner of her lips tugging into an unimpressed line. "You give me too little credit," she says, finally uncoiling her posture to roll her shoulders and step backwards into a severed seat from the Dropship, which she now fills like liquid pouring into a glass. She takes a moment to let her gaze roam the tent, taking stock of the available food, before eventually picking up a metal cup to dunk into the stew he offered her earlier. "Like I can't think in the moment. I'll have you know, I'm great at doing that on my feet." Her honour is impugned. She's acting nonchalant, but she sounds insulted.

"You can hold off handing me the rifle until they actually arrive at our gates, although that means you'll have to come find me when everyone's running around like a headless chicken. Or you can drop it off by Asher's tent. He already has his own rifle, so it's not like you'd be putting a weapon within my reach where there wasn't one before. I'll hide it until the time comes, and if anyone asks, I'll tell 'em I got it from Rawlins. Nobody likes Rawlins." She's right. If there's anyone around camp less beloved than Cass, it would be Rawlins, who once gave ex-C Lucian Grey a sound and unfair arse-kicking with three fellow bullies.

"Like I said. Given it some thought," Stone retorts to that onslaught of justification and plotting, grinning a huge, easy grin as he dips back towards his food again as if to start the ritual cutting again. It's like he's trying to set her off! Still, the amicable giant gets his next minuscule bite right up to his mouth before he pauses the ritual in order to reply back with soft mirth lacing relaxed words, though if that reply is still not a yes or a no. "Of course, whether thought up on the spot…" He gives her a wry look to indicate possibility of that. "…or considered for a stretch before coming to me with this, you've got the same problem. Namely a few gaping holes in both your assumptions and your plans." He doesn't elaborate on those holes though, merely goes as if to take his sliver of meat, pauses with lips actually parted over it once more, and glances aside to her with a thoughtful sort of expression. "Why's this matter so much to you, Cass?" It seems like a genuine question, curious and patient, and asked before he's taking his ritual bite finally, but the dark eyes never sliding off her as he waits seemingly for an honest answer in return.

It's Cassandra's turn to play that game. She chews her stew. Politely and leisurely, but it's obvious she enjoys it. Her scrawny form has already begun to fill out somewhat since landing, and it's no surprise: she may have been used to starving on the Ark, but being one of the most capable individuals down on the ground when it comes to finding sustenance (honestly and dishonestly), she's been developing a taste for food in the last month or so. Who could blame her? Eating is great.

Nothing about her expression gives away her thoughts as she makes Stone wait. Her expression remains vaguely dead-eyed as she finally admits the truth, and perhaps to everyone's surprise — for in Hell, the intent listener might now be able to make out the sound of frost crackling as it creeps over lava — it is, in fact, the truth. "Honestly, kinda peeves me being told I'm not allowed to do something."

Trying to outwait Stone sometimes feels about as effective as trying to outwait an actual stone. But at least he's slightly prettier to look at, even with all the scars and wounds, and is somewhat more animated. In this case, it's just continuing that methodical dissection of rationed meat. When finally her truth comes though, the caramel-flecked dark chocolate eyes were still on her and apparently judging the words truth. She receives a thankful little nod for that, a relaxed, lopsided sort of smile, and he's pushing the rest of his bowl across over to her. It may only be like two ounces of meat and some juice left, but food is food right now and maybe that conciliatory gesture will indicate what's coming.

"Kinda figured that was the lay of it," he rasps out softly to her, without judgement, though touched with amusement still. And then, sitting up in his chair, folding thickly-muscled arms over thicker chest, he goes on, whether she accepts the partial ration or not. "To be honest, Cass, it's not really a good enough reason to outweigh the problems with your pitch and its basis. To name off a couple: firstly, you're wrong about me not wanting you to handle a gun. I tried to teach you what you might need to know, and I offered to keep teachin' you, the vote went against you, but I wasn't one of the one's to vote against, even though I could see some of the reasons behind it. Personally, I'd trust you fine with a gun in the right circumstances, but we've already established that I trust you further than some. Next, Kai definitely wasn't the only impetus against, just the loudest, and her issue with you was a bit less the threatening the C-bur folk, and more to do with fact you are self-proclaimed as above takin' orders, so aside from worryin' you might hurt allies, there's just fact that no one knows what you might do with the thing. Again, I'd personally think you'd be fine with it, but it's the way it is."

A pause for breath, but not enough to interdict as he goes on. "Next, your bit about a spotter with a gun bein' more useful than a spotter without. I get where you'd think so. But you'd be wrong largely. If the spotter's spendin' all their effort taking aim and trying to hit little targets, they're not paying attention to the big picture and keeping eye out for the big targets. I need someone who can keep themselves safe, watch for those targets, and keep me apprised of the battle turning ugly in direction I'm not facing, so that I can focus on picking off those little targets until something bigger comes along, described clearly by the spotter with distinguishable bits like 'the blonde on the horse' or whatever else. 'Cause, let's be honest, hon, I've got a lot more chance of hitting a grounder for every bullet I waste than you do, even if I appreciate the desire to try."

The worst thing is, the big guy seems genuinely apologetic about his denying her and tearing down her logic, he's just so… so damned nice it makes one's teeth hurt. And as he goes on, amusedly good-natured, it's made even worse. "'Course, the worst mistake in the logic, Cass, is thinkin' that the guy who won't even say somethin' worse than 'fudge' and who believes in old earth mottos like 'Protect and Serve', is gonna be the guy who'd do somethin' against orders, against the good of the group, and against honesty by pinnin' it on some other guy, even if he's a twit… yeah… that's kinda a stretch, however pretty your eyes or sweet your voice. Sorry." He gives her another thick-shouldered shrug and adds with a winning smile and flash of white, white teeth. "Offer's still there though to join upstairs and do some good."

Between the two of them, Cassandra and Stone have an even spread of Old Earth mottos. Where his is that old chestnut, Protect and Serve, hers is Never Say No to a Free Lunch, or maybe even Don't Look a Gift-Horse in the Mouth. Which is why when handed juice and meat, even though she already had her stew and a chew of breakfast earlier on, she is content to eat while he talks, listening at least with a fair ability to see some reason. She may be a honey-badger on the defensive, but it turns out that speaking to her as an equal — something people are often reluctant to do — is enough respect to tame and eke it out of her in turn, even if there are no guarantees with her unpredictable nature. When he's done, she turns her gaze his way to take in the measure of the man.

"Problem is, Stone, you're not thinking long-term, and I am," she says. "You're not like me. You're ex-C. When the Ark comes down here, if the Ark comes down here —" for she's holding out hope that it won't, albeit preparing for the worst — "You'll be guaranteed safety. Even if they don't, you're safe here at camp. Nobody wants you dead, Boyscout, except maybe me every time you say the word 'fudge', because damn that gets grating, and people respect you. Not so for people like me, or Rawlins, or Asher. When we win this battle —" she skips saying if they win this battle — "We'll still be fighting a war."

"I get what you're saying, really, I do. Problem is it's not good enough. I see no benefit in it for me. My chances of survival might be just as good if you all die, and I can go negotiate my place with the Grounders in exchange for information about the Ark. Grounder-bitch, Sky-bitch, makes no difference, y'feel me? You're asking me to help you when I got no reason to believe it'll help me." She pauses.

"You're one of the good ones." Does she mean that, or is she just saying it? "But that's not good enough."

Stone takes her answer with the same unflappable good-will he's held with her most all the time. Another shrug, another lopsided grin, another quiet reminder. "Offer's still there regardless, same as before." Stone reaches a hand up to lightly scratch at the horrid throat stitches that are clearly in that 'itchy healing' stage, and his words roll on relaxed, if raspy still. "It's the thing about thinking long-term that I never quite get when that argument's made though. I mean, it seems like you give it thought, but I just don't get how you come to the conclusions you do sometimes. For me, it's kinda simple I admit. The Delinquents are my people."

He pauses again, letting that phrase linger before the rasping words carry on. "I watch out for my people, because they're mine and I am better with them than if I went and tried to make myself into some other people like the Grounders. 'Cause while I'm sure I could learn to live like the Trikru just fine, fight alongside them, earn their respect, I'd always be the Skaikru trying to be Trikru, not really one of them. So… for me, I take off the table the option of going off with them and letting this group of people die. Next question, the Ark. If they never come down, then we're all the people we've got, and so protecting my people is even more important. If they do come down… then yeah, maybe I'd be accepted more than you, but… You'd still be given the pardon promised all of us. You'd still be one of the people who survived in this place, showed them they could survive, and gave them that chance at life down here. You'd be one of the experts on surviving here, valuable for everything you know and can do that they can't. You'd be one of the Skaikru heroes like you're supposed to be, as opposed to just surviving. I guess I just don't see the appeal of tryin' to be what you're not, and sitting back and letting what you are get torn down around you rather than help."

Stone seems about to end on that, but then's giving her a rueful, self-acknowledging sort of grin and adding with a wink. "Then again, that's why you'll probably far outlive me, eh?"

Once again, Cassandra allows Stone to speak without interruption, giving his words fair consideration. She slowly then rises to her feet, downing the rest of her stew, and steps towards him. For a moment it's weird. Her eyes find his, as if she might actually be about to try what she insinuated to the fleeing on-duty cook that she already has, but her gaze soon drops again. Instead, and without any warning, she abruptly shoves him. Hard.

"You're pardoned," she snaps, when she lowers both hands again to her side. "I forgive you, for getting in my way, just now. You wanted that, right?" Considering how patiently she's listened to him so far, her behaviour would appear outwardly erratic now. But maybe she's making a point.

Stone's a big-ass dude. And these aren't exactly the sturdiest chairs to begin with, cobbled from what was torn out of the dropship. Her odd look was distracting enough to have him unsure of why she was approaching, and so when that push came, it damn near caught him completely off guard, and thrust his bulk backward into the seat. There was a tottering backwards, a muttered "Fudge!" and a thick arm slamming into the table to counterbalance him, gripping the edge of it and dragging him back upright. For a moment he just looks confused, bordering on irritable, furrowed brows and flash to the dark eyes, lips set into frown and jaw tight. But as he watches her, listens to those words, and relaxes slowly back with a sigh. By time she's finished, he's giving her a small shake of head and a smirk. "Fine. You have a point to an extent. But you don't get to choose the people you belong to. You can choose the people you model yourself after, and surround yourself with, but it doesn't make you those people, even if you don't like your own or their ways."

When she sees that she's gotten away with shoving the big dude with no retaliation, she places a hand on her hip and juts it to one sight, head cocked. That attitude is near-lost in the Grounder gear she's drowning in, which masks most of her movements to a suede-bundled shuffle. "Like hell I don't," she replies, making a statement and a testament of her ensemble. "The Skaikru aren't my people either. We are Skaisplitas, you and me, only you don't want to realise it. You're like a dog that gets kicked and still makes the puppy eyes at its owner." As she has never owned a dog, and never even seen one before landing on Earth, presumably this is something she's read.

"Might be I don't want their pardon. If anything they should want a pardon from me." She explains this, and her momentary assault, even though it's clear he's understood. "I don't owe the Skaikru and I don't want their forgiveness or approval. I'm not interested in being their hero. I gotta ask, though." She turns her shoulder his way, moving away towards the other end of the tent, where she leans the heels of her palms on a shelf to expose her back to him. "Am I your people?"

"You are, Cass, even if you try your hardest to not be, I'd still lay down my life protecting you, same as I would for any of the rest of my people, murderers, thieves, anarchists, and Arkers all combined." Stone's words roll out of him without any need for pause. Simple, unyielding truth that's cut into the fabric of his being, however much it probably baffles someone like her. After a moment, as he's rising to what height the tent can support and moving to set their shared bowl in the wash area, he adds to her with a bit of a laugh, "I admit, I do kinda like the term Skaisplita though, even if I think you're being divisive at a time we need unity more than ever, but eh, suppose it'll be one of the many things we'll agree to disagree on. And who knows, maybe you'll come around in time."

It does baffle someone like her. When he suggests she might come around some day, it even annoys her, but Stone can only see the faint bunching of her shoulders beneath those oversized suedes. "If my people won't arm me, won't train me —" even though he did — "won't give me the ability to defend myself, and then act like I should selflessly lay myself down on the line expecting nothing in return, not even safety…"

"They are not my people," she says.

A pause lingers, the corners of her lips twisting, before finally she turns back around to face him, still leaning against that shelf and now crossing her heels at her ankles.

"If you won't give me a gun, I want something else. I'll spot for you, but only because Sonia's a bitch and better the devil I know. At least you guys aren't being all gung-ho about your intentions to kill me."

And finally, she explains what it is she wants. "Asher is my ally. He's helping me stay alive." By the tone of her voice, and her impassive expression, it doesn't look like she gives a damn about the man beyond that fact. "He's your people too, and, as it happens, I need him to stick around if I'm sticking around with you. I spot with you up there, means I can't easily shoot any Grounders coming his way. You want my help, then apart from when Sonia shows up, I want you looking out for him. Otherwise my chances are better down there instead."

Stone gives another of those rueful half-smiles at her terms, shaking head a little and sighing. "Ever the bargaining." The words sound almost fond, despite her irritation with him and declaration of him not being her people. What would it really take to ruffle him? To make him write her off like some of the others have? Let's hope she never decides to see how far she can push that and what happens if she does. "Fine then, I'll watch out for him so much as I'm able from on high, and being aware that the priority is still the camp and survival of all. So if it's a choice between helping him or stopping the wall from falling and and all of us dying… then sorry, I'll take the other shot. Asher's the only person in this camp that can go flat out toe to toe with me, other than maybe Allen. He can handle himself just fine and is gonna be torked as is when he finds out I'm helpin' him out. But I'll do what I can. Agreed?'

"Which is why if you tell him, or anyone," Cassandra blithely begins, and here there surely ought to follow some kind of death-threat. I'll hang, draw and quarter you? I'll pull out your ribcage and wear it as a hat? I'll tell everyone you were really bad in that fictional bed we shared last night? She thinks the better of it in the end, because it's probably best not to keep testing those buttons that the Boyscout has fastened up to his neck. "Pretend I said something threatening and rest assured I'll follow through. Deal?" She steps on forward, extending a hand to shake, but eyeing him no less warily from beneath the parted curtain of her sleek, suspiciously clean dark hair.

"Sure no problem. I got some doozies in mind you could have used," Stone offers back to her with cheerful laughter lacing the voice and… the oddest little thread of what in another guy might have been taken as flirtatious implication. But his smile is back to amiable relaxation as he offers a huge hand out to her for the shaking, curling around hers like she's made of porcelain in order to bounce it once and seal the deal. As his weapon-calloused hand is slipping from her own, he can't help but add with eyes a-twinkle, "There's still room by-the-by if ya want to join us on our little water convoy. Could always use another person for carrying." Oh yeah, now he's totally the one pushing buttons. Teasing her with something they both absolutely know she's going to blow off.

Cassandra is no porcelain doll, and when Stone accepts the deal, she grasps his hand in turn as firmly as she might. She may not be physically muscular, but that won't stop her from making that handshake count with every ounce of strength she's got.

"Pass," she then says, rejecting the offer without a moment's pause. Curling her lips in a grimace to perish the very thought, she breaks eye-contact, and then retracts her hands to beat a retreat. Just in time, too: her gait is languid beneath those heavy animal hides, but when she pulls back the tent-flap to summon the Delinquent Camp back into view, a wolf-whistle is hurled her way that is likely meant for Stone, too.

"Yup. Shi's totally hearing about that. And Cookie's gonna try an' knife me. I just know it," Stone's raspy voice chases her out of the tent, put-upon but still filled with laughter.

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