Day 072: Obsession
Summary: Lexa summons Arlin for justice… but justice may not be sweet.
Date: 9 August 2016
Related: The Mountain Falls (Level 7); Allowances; Not Over
Lexa Arlin 

The Seat, Tondc
In the set.
72 Days After Landing

Lexa had summoned Arlin late in the day, when the sun was low and the shadows in Tondc long. Indra had made accomodations for her in the Seat, giving her a few of the cherry blossom trees in the wide expanse of grass. Despite the Mountain falling and the celebrations, the Commander has been busy seeing to the looting of the Mountain and negotiations with Kane over various things. She stands quietly in her rooms, the Chancellor long gone. She has not removed her long, crimson-accented duster, and her eyes are still winged in ash and oil. Her expression is cold, unreadable, though there is a hint of well-tamped anger deep within her grey-green eyes.

Since the execution — well, if we're going to be precise here, since the post-execution 'dinner show' — Arlin's behavior may or may not have been questionable depending on what someone is expecting. There has been no revelry nor has he carried himself like someone flushed with victory. Neither is he moping, though, and he hasn't sought to further work through his more volatile emotions at the training grounds. Perhaps the rough 'sparring' he did with several Azgeda less than a week ago did the trick. Perhaps not.

When the medic was informed by Gustus that he would no longer be overseeing the Trikru salvaging of the medical supplies from Mount Weather, he didn't pitch a fit. If anything, he seemed vaguely annoyed to even have been having the brief conversation. He had been told he could appeal the decision, but Arlin never did. He simply kept busy, one way or another, and kept out of trouble. Although the latter part might be as a result of him mostly keeping to himself outside of working. On the job, there was nothing notably different in his behavior. He still was thorough and diligent, and ready and willing to wisecrack.

Here he is, though, having been summoned. The healer doesn't seem any worse for wear, his expression the familiar Resting Jerk Face, although who knows if maybe it's more than that this time? Arlin stops at a suitable distance and shows the proper respects that were long ago drilled into him. Impassively but not unpleasantly, he greets, "Heda," as his countenance shifts into a bland anticipation. After all, she called him here for some reason.

When Arlin enters, Lexa turns ever so slightly from where she is staring out at the Hood. Her hands remain clasped behind her back, and her chin lifts ever so slightly. While she gives the air of being alone in the room, she isn't. Her two bodyguards are standing near the door, quiet as statues. "Arlin," she says simply, her tone flat. "Gustus informed me that you and Britt kom Trikru stayed back… after Cage's execution." Her expression is oblique. "Why?" The question is posed simply, but there is also the softest note of demand there. Demanding an explanation, demanding sense, demanding to understand.

Who is he to deny the Commander of the Coalition? No one, so he doesn't. "I won't speak with certainty on Britt's behalf, but she gave the impression that she remained behind to insure I wouldn't." Considering how much later the medic returned, on foot, it stands to reason that the archer didn't succeed. "I remained behind because I wanted to." It's probably not a satisfactory answer, but Arlin's never been one to open up about feelings. His face is certainly not giving anything away, except, perhaps, a hint of displeasure that faintly crinkles his lips. At least he doesn't sound flippant.

What honest explanation can he give that would pass muster? What sense is there to be made when when the polled members of the jury are using descriptors such as 'fucked up' and 'madness'? What is there to understand besides anger, anguish, loss, and grief? For his part, Arlin appears more interested in egress than empathy.

"There is nothing that the dead could give you, Arlin," Lexa says, her tone severe. "No one else dared linger with the dead. Khesu, whose houmon was killed by Mountain Men did not linger. Sage, who was held by her ankles and almost drained of her blood, did not linger." The Commander does not look at all satisfied. "Who did the Mountain take from you that was worthy of you lingering with the dead after justice was done?"

Once upon a time, there was a tale about two monks who encountered a woman at a river who asked for help crossing. Even though their vows included not touching those of the opposite sex, the elder monk carried her across, placed her gently on the other side, and resumed his journey.

Several hours later, the younger monk, who couldn't believe what happened, finally blurted out, "We are not permitted to touch a woman. How could you then carry her on your shoulders?"

The older monk looked at him and replied, "Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?"

Alas, Arlin doesn't know this story, which might be for the best. Recounting it likely wouldn't go over well. Drily, he notes, "I'm not the one who's lingering on it, Heda." Which, really, hits the parable's high notes and likely won't go over any better than recounting the entire tale. There's another tick at his jaw, as though he's refraining from saying something more.

Lexa's anger flares at his response, but it is a cold anger rather that a heated one, and she stares with dead-weight at the Healer. Then her lips curl back over her teeth. "Give me the gun, Arlin kom Trikru." The statement is said in a flat, unaltered tone.

When the demand is said, the Commander points to the table where the Healer can put down the weapon, should he have it on his person.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Arlin=resolve Vs Lexa=persuasion
< Arlin: Good Success (8 3 2 7 2 4 6) Lexa: Success (7 5 5 2 6 1 1 2 4 6)
< Net Result: Arlin wins - Marginal Victory

Arlin may have more heart than sense, but his survival instinct seems to be trumping all. Nonetheless, irritation is starting to seep through his expression, focusing at his mouth and briefly flaring nostrils. To his credit, he manages to not snort. Were he dealing with anyone other than the Heda — whom even he has been culturally conditioned to defer to with a mingling of institutionalized respect and awe-tinged caution — his hazel eyes would be rolling, and he wouldn't be clenching his teeth against whatever snide words seek to escape from his swollen tongue.

His smile, though, is cut a smidge sharply as he retrieves the pistol from the inner field jacket pocket that its been calling home for the past 10 days. With just enough sense of pomp that it might well be a cryptosarcastic gesture, the weapon that once belonged to Cage Wallace is extended for Lexa's distant viewing pleasure before it is placed on the table, as ordered.

That done, he turns to face her, forcing his arms to remain uncrossed, which he disguises by adjusting his medical satchel's strap upon his right shoulder. For good or for ill, his chin also lifts just enough to denote he isn't inclined to cower.

Lexa's expression becomes colder and more masked behind that flat look. She waits until the weapon is set down on the table — she will not touch it. Her eyes cut toward Gustus and her other guard, and she nods. They both seem to move together, lifting from their place at the wall, and moving forward. "To possess a gun is in violation of Coalition law," the heda says in a stoic tone. "Five cuts by my blade." She offers a simple pause, continuing without a change in tone. "I am lenient because you have served me this long, and quite well… until now." She advances a step now, her eyes looking down at the gun, and then back up at Arlin, waiting his reaction to her decree.

His reaction is what one probably expects from the son of Geo kom Trikru: a willful stance and a cutting smirk, as though the punchline of a dark joke were just revealed. Arlin's gaze doesn't shirk in the slightest from Lexa's, and before the sentence is issued, his satchel has been removed and lowered to the floor. Next comes his reinforced field jacket, the drab olive apparel dropped with a soft thud, followed by his throwing knives in their harness. By the time the Heda's gaze returns to the healer, he's dispensing with his shirts, unveiling an athletic physique and an worn pair of dog tags, familial relics form another world. There are some faded scars from injuries and some from kill marks and an assortment of geometric ink work. A sizable bruise below his left collarbone denotes where he took quite a blow from one of his Azgeda 'sparring' partners several days ago.

"Let's make it ten," Arlin blithely proposes, his rough baritone entirely unabashed. Like father, like son. "Five for each year I wasn't such a disappointment." The leather vambrace he wears on his left forearm is the last thing to be removed, revealing the mark of one in the Heda's direct service. With that gesture, one can see the back of his right hand is discolored from not-too-recent bruising, the split knuckles in the process of healing. It comes to an end when the medic extends his oh so toned arms outward and to his sides so that Lexa may cut where she will.

Lexa merely holds her gaze steady on Arlin as he goes about the process of stripping away his shirts. Her expression goes unchanged, though there is the slightest narrowing around her eyes. Each moment where Arlin shows his stubbornness, his lack of remorse for breaking law, and the continued show of barely contained derision draws her expression further and further into detachment.

"No," she says flatly in response. "Five cuts, before the population of Polis… and you are dismissed from my gonakru." She steps forward another stride. "I cannot allow someone who so casually disregards my law to remain in my service. It will be up to Indra kom Trikru to decide where you will serve next, or if you will serve at all."

There are some people who, when dealt a bad hand, will play it badly and then double-down because why not? Arlin appears to be the sort who goes all-in to lose big. "Let's still make it ten." Although, this time, there is a flinch of abject disappointment, of cynical affirmation, of anger and pain shading his defiance and resignation.

Then abruptly, he starts laughing, full and rich and caustic. He laughs so much that tears escape from his eyes and his body curls and quakes. Until, finally, he looks at Lexa, grinning, with some amalgam of smugness and disdain. "And you say I'm the one who can't let go of the Mountain," he manages to get out with some hitched breath, glancing at the gun on the table.

When the laughter begins, the Commander actually arches a brow — the first small break in her stoic countenance. She glances slightly to Gustus, who is already beginning to move forward with his hand on his weapon. Something in Lexa's expression has him dropping his hand, but continuing forward so that he can grab Arlin by his arms, drawing them sharply behind his back. The look at the gun was unsettling, but it was just an extra layer with the uncontrollable laughter.

Lexa's gaze returns to Arlin, though she is looking over his shoulder for a brief heartbeat. It is a passing look, and when she speaks, her expression has turned to cold pity — pity for a man who is obviously broken, beyond sense, and driven away from everything she thought he had been taught. "I thank you for your service to the Trikru," she says, her voice suddenly changed. "But, I cannot allow you to continue to fester within the Coalition. Sometimes, a stain on the bloodline is not a visible one… one that you obviously shared with your father." She turns her attention to Gustus. "Remove him." She starts to turn, looking to Arlin just once more. "Splita." Outcast. "If you come back to Coalition lands, your death will be quick… and without judgment."

Arlin puts up no resistance, although he smiles with a miasma of ambivalent emotion. He smiles like a man victorious, even though the prize might well be one of the most craptastic prizes ever, apart from the value of righteous indignation. "My father was right," he sneers. "It only took 15 years and the outsiders, with those guns you so fear, to prove that he was. But you're not entirely wrong. There is a festering wound in the Coalition, and you're all so infected that you reject the cure. " And now it's his turn to level a look of cold pity at Lexa. "You're the one who's lingering, Lexa. Your law still bows to the Mountain."

He grunts, then, stubbornly biting back a wince as Gustus applies pressure to the mouthy medic's arm, making the elbow protest. "If you wanted to slow dance, you should've just asked," Arlin quips over his shoulder, huffing out a short laugh.

Hazel eyes then flit back to Lexa, and it's clear that Arlin's musing, sharply. "You asked who the Mountain took that was worthy of my remaining behind. Well, sweetheart, I'll tell you it wasn't just the Mountain that took." It wasn't the Mountain that executed his father or largely ostracized his family. "And the Maunon, sure as the Flame, weren't the ones who refused to leave me alone with my grief. Even when I asked. Even when I said I wanted and needed to just be left alone to see it to the very end. And I'd say watching those bugs chow down is less extreme than a two-year bloody war with the Azgeda." A single brow is pointedly lofted for emphasis.

All which might account for Arlin's reaction to his sentence; that it merely is a formality finally finalized. "Don't worry. I have no desire to see any of you again. But I would ask for a parting gift." He pauses, then, eyes wide, the mottle of green and brown blown bright with gold. "Make it 15 cuts: one for every year it took you to realize my father was right."

Lexa has turned completely away from Arlin now, and her expression does not change as he onslaughts her back with his words. It is only when he speaks of his grief does she look at him. He does not get a rise from her when be brings up Costia, but Gustus does not have the same resolve that Lexa does. His hands are tightening, drawing Arlin's arms back sharply. He hisses in his ear with warning, "Continue to speak to the heda with such malice, and you will not make it to the Wastes." His grip does not let up, almost threatening to see just how flexible Arlin's elbows are.

When Arlin demands a cut — fifteen, in fact — that is when Lexa ceases pretending to be a watchful statue. She looks to the table bearing the gun, and then back to the rabid Arlin she has before her. She steps forward, her motions almost gliding. She draws from her belt a short knife — used for slicing foods instead of for battle. "I will give you one cut," she says smoothly. "His arm." She says this to her second guard, who is already stepping forward to help pull Arlin's arm out, stretching the limb out from the shoulder joint.

Lexa's cut is sharp, quick. She doesn't remove the brand and tattooing, but merely slices through it with enough depth to scar — a severing of it, not a removal. Her eyes remain locked on Arlin's as she does it, unflinching. Then she wipes the blade's blood off on Arlin's own bare arm. Done, she steps away and nods to the two guards. She says nothing as she turns away, presenting her back to the man and his lunacy.

Gustus and the other guard haul Arlin off. Bindings will be applied, as will a liberal dose of unconsciousness — applied via brute force — if Arlin gives into more ravings.

<FS3> Arlin rolls Resolve+3: Great Success. (1 8 7 7 1 5 7 4 8 4)

For someone deemed rabid, he'd been awfully calm despite the acid burn of his voice, word choice, and demeanor. The end result, regardless of how one has perceived and will recall the event, remains the same.

Gustus' threats, physical and verbal, seemingly don't register, as Arlin bores right into Lexa's insistently stoic face. "Not my heda." That was already decided by her.

What hurts, though, is the single cut — not even from a warrior's blade — that is the ultimate slap in the face. As it sinks in, aggrieved eyes begin to glisten with an unshed sheen, his face contorting enough to briefly reveal that the Commander struck to the quick, her aim true. Once more, there's a huff of laughter, but it's tinged with rue as much as resentment. "Even this you take." He nods a little, smirking with a strange kind of affirmation as the covenant is finally broken.

And then Arlin is being hauled off, none-too-gently, but not before he can fiercely grin, "Stop lingering."

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