Day 046: Skipping Stones
Summary: Kai and Khesu talk about Skaikru, Trikru, and the art of skipping stones across water.
Date: Day Month Year
Related: Nokru is obliquely referenced.
Kai Khesu 

Delegation encampment, outside of Camp Jaha
Tents and campfires, outside Camp Jaha
Day 46

Early evening finds Khesu returned to the Trikru camp. Yesterday he spent much of the day felling standing dead wood which he bucked into logs and split as was needed, then brought back to the camp with the help of Starling's wagon. This morning, very early before day break, he went out hunting and by late morning he'd brought back a wild hog which he strung up and butchered down by the lake. Now that is done, down to even chopping the bones up between the joints and bringing them back for others to cook down for marrow and broth, Khesu has settled himself down by a fire to eat a bowl of thick, hearty stew with fresh made flat bread and a small lump of sharp cheese. An early season small apple is crisply tart for an after meal snack that he works on now. A bottle of mead is set by his elbow to keep him company, already well started.

Though Kai has been sleeping in the tent over by the Skaikru's hothouse rather than in the Trikru camp itself, that's because the tent belongs to her Skaikru Niron and it's the only point between his world and her world that both agree on. Her morning started with exercise. Sparring. Her own unsuccessful attempt at a bow hunt, and a more successful attempt at fishing. Some of the fish is drying slowly over the flames back at the gardens, but the bulk of them are being brought to add to the communal pots of the camp, passed off to those tending fires before the Second prowls around, checking in and checking out what's happening without truly inviting herself to anyone's hearth. That her path brings her by Khesu is inevitable, her head dipping to offer by way of acknowledgment,"Khesu kom Trikru, uncle of Gideon and Benning kom Trikru."

Hmmm. Kai could do better than to mention 'Gideon kom Trikru' to him just now. Khesu looks up and /almost/ scowls, but no. Kai is not likely mocking, not in her own precarious position. He shifts his position to sit more upright and tosses the apple core at the lake. Things there along the shore will eat it, or the seeds may sprout into a tree with time. "Kai … kom Trikru?" He's not sure about that but rumbles low, "I had a niece named Gideon kom Trikru, once." As she speaks Gonasleng, he answers her in the same.

Kai's definitely not mocking to judge from her expression, the slight dip of her head, pursing her lips for his response slightly as her eyes shift towards Gideon's lonely camp and then back,"May I?" she asks of him with a gesture towards a seat,"Yes, I am Trikru not by birth, but by Wren kom Trikru's choice. And your niece is one who helped me upon the path that led to such a choice, even if she does not know it." she offers as she endeavors to gauge his feelings on the matter.

Khesu reaches over to pat the earth by his side if she cares to have the wagon and his bedroll to lean against. A drink from the mead bottle and then it's offered to her, if she wants it. He keeps his baritone quite low in volume and without anger, "She does good things and bad. We all do. She finds her own way." His dark eyes come back to Kai herself, "As do you." Khesu crosses his booted ankles and broods in silence, watching the flickering low flames of the fire.

Kai accepts the invitation without qualm, though she raises her hand and grunts,"I'm still nursing whatever Britt was drinking last night, but.. thank you." she chuckles quietly and nods,"Your niece is a strong woman, it is not easy to leave one's people. When I chose to leave the Skaikru I was fortunate, because I knew that although there would be many who would not approve of me, that as long as I could honor my First and learn the ways of my new clan.. that there would be a place for me. Your niece walks a harder path, but she has.. helped me, understand questions that I did not dare ask myself."

"Hmmm." Khesu keeps the mead then and takes another sip of it before he sets the bottle aside. "I hear she's taken this man Grey as her Houmon. She did not know him long. But she was always too easily seduced by the new and strange, forsaking all else. Her choices." Yes, he clearly does not approve. "I will nonetheless wish her well … so long as her foolishness does not harm the Trikru." Because then he might have to do terrible things he would hate to have to do. A frown as well as a change of subject. "How fare you?"

"Grey kom Skaikru, yes. And she has known him longer and better than I knew Wren when I agreed to become his Second. Though it is not quite the same.. it is.. what it is." Kai responds,"If she can find acceptance among the Skaikru, she may help them better understand the Trikru and lead to better understanding.. but I know it is a thought that has weighed upon her for some time." is what she offers before looking at him in something like puzzlement,"It is not often I'm asked that. I am.. good. I hope that the Heda might choose for us to march on the Mountain, but it is not a decision in my hands.. so I wait, and heal, and learn." she pauses,"And yourself? I.. had not seen you at Tondc.. I did not know that Gideon and Benning had an uncle, but.. well, for Skaikru such things don't exist."

Kai's last gets his attention. Khesu looks at her, quiet for a breath or two before he asks low, "The Skaikru do not know their kin?" That seems very alien to him, and indeed it is. Such a sterile life theirs must be, or had been. A thin twig is in his calloused hand, plucked from the edge of the fire. Idly he strips the bark from it a bit at a time with his thumb nail. "I am keen to go to the Mountain as well. We all must wait and see what our Heda decides." He falls quiet once more and shifts his jaw, thinking about whether or not he'll speak of why he has been elsewhere. Khesu doesn't trust easily and Kai is yet more stranger than not. So he takes his time and merely rumbles, "I have been gone away."

"The Skaikru do not have such kin. One child was allowed, and one child only." Kai explains,"It was.. quite a shock to meet Wren's family, to understand the true complexity of things that something so simple as siblings entails." she itches at her thigh through her pants with a nod,"I was with the scout party.. I know how I would enter the Mountain, but it is not my place, and I will wait for the Heda's decision. The skaikid we brought back still views the Trikru as his enemies, because of skaigeda.. and has refused to speak with us directly, but there are still those among the Skaikru who will ask him the questions that need answering." she accepts his answer with a dip of her head,"The Trikru lands are vast, and I have seen little of them so far." she offers as opening for him to answer without direct questioning.

Khesu frowns, "But not always. To do so, every generation you shrink your population by half and soon you have none left. You must have at least two children per man and woman to maintain a popuation, and even then, you will loose some to accident or illness." Even he can do the basic math on that one. "I have sired a few children, but none of them have lived." Aye, a sorrow for him he does not allow the reflection of it. Khesu listens to Kai speak of the Mountain and knows she speaks of Lip but he says nothing else. "You will." That to her seeing more of Trikru lands, yet.

"One child, and one child only." Kai repeats with a look in his direction,"Giving birth to a second child had the mother floated and the child sent to the box. No exceptions. At eighteen the child would be reviewed, but most of the time they were floated, too. And yes, others were lost to accidents, but, even with these things there was not enough. The Ark was dying. We were not supposed to be the one's to come down, but they sent the hundred down because we were expendable and they decided that they had to take the chance." there's a shrug of her shoulders before her eyes dip again,"In time, yes. I have a long path before I am likely to be released, to earn the trust of the clan is difficult, but I knew it would be."

It's real, real hard for him to wrap his mind about such a concept that anyone could /want/ to get rid of half or more of their own people with every generation, or more. Khesu furrows his brows and tries to understand what it is that Kai is telling him, that others have also spoken of. It is almost impossible for a Trikru to comprehend from the perspective of the world they know. "Aye, dying. So they sent you here. A desperate move, a hope?" Does he grasp that concept correctly? "Famine?" That at least he can understand. "A terrible famine so they sent you rather than eat their own? Because you would not be Reapers."

"I.." Kai starts, and apparently decides this needs some mead after all from the way she extends a hand in the direction of it,"We lived in a very big box, and though we used all of the land that it had to try and keep everyone alive.. there was still not enough food, or water, or air. The older the systems got, the harder it was to keep them intact.. not that we knew these things at the time. But reducing the population was a necessary act to try and keep any of the Skaikru alive. The air scrubbers were what was going, in the end, sending us down here brought them time, but still they were going to sacrifice more than three hundred to extend that time longer when they did not know if we had survived. The rest were going to come down on similar ships to the skaigeda.. it's one of those which crashed and destroyed Thripoda.. but it.. that ship tore apart the Ark.. our sky city.. and bringing the whole city down was the only choice the clan felt they had in order to survive."

Yep, most of that goes right over Khesu's head. Kai may as well be speaking ancient Greek to him. Air scrubbers? The Trikru warrior only eyes her like she's been smoking something that's messed her up and he's not wanting any of it. But he allows her the mead and when she's had a drink of it, he'll take the bottle and have a good drink of it himself. Aye, it's good mead. Khesu licks his lips and as it is growing dark, he idly watches his clans people moving about the small camp, preparing their evening meal or conversing with one another in low voices. Much talk tonight will be of his niece, her Houmon, and of the possible war party who may go to the Mountain. Surely more than a few may not return from that trip.

And so Khesu is quiet, having nothing to say in response to Kai's incomprehensible tale.

Kai does take a drink of it and pass it back with a,"I like that better than what Britt had. It's good." she offers with a wry smile for the look on his face,"It.. doesn't make sense, I know.. we were.. up there." she points towards the sky,"There's.. no air up there, but for what the machines.. like the.. dataslate? That Beckinson had? That showed what we saw in the Mountain? Anyways, the machines had to make the air, so that we could breathe. There was.. nowhere to move to. No other villages, we did not know there was other people until we came down here.. we did not understand that Gonasleng was the language of war, our people have not known war since the world fell. Which is why to most the Trikru are as confusing to them as the Skaikru are to you. My friends, my former people, the Skaikru, made many mistakes.. and the Arkkru.. they will make many more. It is not that they mean to insult the Trikru.. they are simply.." she pauses, then elects to use the Trigedasleng word,"<In Trigedasleng> Idiots."

Khesu listens. He is a good listener and does not interrupt, nor is he in any hurry to speak. He holds his tongue and his thoughts to himself and digests what Kai tells him. It does not matter to him that she is almost half his age, he listens. The twig he had in hand has been skinned free of it's bark at least on one end. Khesu draws his long knife and starts to sharpen that end into a fine point, very thin at the tip. He does so with patience. "If I were uprooted from my people and dropped in a strange place completely different from everything I knew, I would do foolish things as well, without knowing. Until it was too late. I would do what I know how to do. How could we not, until we died or learned a new way to live?"

"And this.. is where many problems between skaigeda and the Trikru began. Coesbur warned us about the rifles.. but we did not understand. There was no Mountain in the sky. No Trikru. Out of an effort to respect the Trikru way and preserve what peace we had managed to broker we kept them hidden, but we kept them because we were afraid. Because we knew that we were at the mercy of the Trikru and had already suffered deaths in our ignorance and to us.. they were a last resort for if we needed to defend ourselves." she purses her lips,"I'm one of the ones, that made that choice, in the end. I armed them and helped train them, because I could not stand by and watch children die with no true hope of defending themselves.. but if I had it over.. ah, perhaps many things would be different. Perhaps the skaikru would simply be dead. It is my hope that the rest of them will learn before it's too late. Your niece, she may well help them to learn, just as I speak of my birth people to help the Trikru understand why they are so stupid."

Kai has managed to get more words out of him than any other of the new comers save Jumar. Khesu continues to listen but his dark eyes roam constantly, keeping an eye on the camp, avoiding looking at the fire now. He sheathes his knife and uses the pointy end of the skewer he's made to pick his teeth, getting loose a bit of meat that was annoying him. Khesu runs his tongue around over and sucks on his teeth for a second in another of his silences. He lifts his gaze to watch the stars, "She will help them, if they will listen."

The thin stick is tossed into the fire when he's done with it. Khesu gets himself up to his feet and dusts himself off, "Drink the mead or walk." As for him? He steps around Kai and the fire, restless.

Walk, obviously, given the way that Kai also rises to her feet and dusts herself off,"I know she will. Though it is a shame to lose her as Trikru, I believe that she and her houmon will do much for the Skaikru." she grunts quietly, adjusting the fall of the bandolier holding what was once Wren's back-up sword where it sits across her back,"It is the listening they are not good at though." there's a shrug, there's nothing she can do about it, as far as she's concerned, clearly.

Khesu walks but he doesn't talk - as much. His thoughts are private for a time, leaving the Trikru camp to go down towards the water. Funny how the lake keeps drawing many of them back. Watching the water, especially at night, is peaceful if you don't think too much about river snakes. The mead is left where the bottle lay back by the fire. This Trikru is content to walk for a little distance before Khesu stops and squats down to feel for a small, flat stone. When he finds one that suits him, he grips it along his the line of his index finger and his thumb, then flings his hand out to the side as if throwing a disc … out sails the tiny stone, lost almost at once in the darkness but for the whisper of sound as it skips over the ripple water. The moonlight catches the tiny splashes and then, it's gone.

That blade Kai carries is glanced at, then her. "You any good with the blade?"

Kai's used to walking, obviously. She had her own regime up on the ship, but the world's worst boot camp known as the Earth has refined that a lot, especially since she joined the Trikru. Where he stops and squats, she remains standing, scanning their surroundings before her attention is caught be the sound of the skipping rock and she stares that way with her lips parted like.. how in the hell did he just do that? Stone-skipping, not a thing in the sky city apparently,"I have helped kill six Reapers with it so far, and I'm still alive.. Wren is helping me learn where the practical departs from the theoretical.. but the short answer is.. I know which end to stick in the other guy, at least." it's an understatement, of sorts, or rather that the girl undervalues her skills in comparison to the more experienced Trikru.

The older man is unaware that she's never seen anyone skip stones over the water before. Khesu only does the one for the moment and now they are away from the fire, he listens to the night sounds around them, his dark eyes roaming around the lake and watching the tall grasses whispering with the light wind. "Good. But you only may claim kill marks for those /you/ kill, yourself." He should know, having a dozen or so marks over the back of his shoulders. "I killed, or helped to kill, many." He doesn't care and hasn't really paid attention to however many kill marks say, Wren has claimed. Khesu continues to walk slowly, companionably perhaps. Eventually he stops and finds another stone, feels of it's shape and weight, and deeming it suitable he flings that one out over the water as well. It doesn't skip as far but it skips a few times.

"How did you.. how the hell do you make a rock fly over the water like that?" Kai can't resist asking, only to be distracted,"Yes, I know. I haven't earnt any kill marks as of yet.. but I've.. had them explained to me. Britt has two.. for killing friends of mine, plus her.. other ones. Some day, I will earn my own.. right now I'm just glad to survive. When we went back to Coesbur, they had a good shot at making that not happen, but.." she's still here, obviously, from the way she spreads her hands.

Wait, what? Khesu stops and glances out at the water, then back to Kai. Instead of answering, he crouches down and feels the stones carefully, again patient. Quietly he looks in the dim light and after a few moments, finds a suitably flat, thin stone. Standing back up he reaches for her hands - and should Kai not refuse it, he puts the stone into her hand so her fingers can feel the shape of it. "Flat stones, thinner the better, weathered work best." A second small stone is yet retained in his much larger hand and he shows her how he holds it just so, "When you throw it, keep it flat to the water and let it … spin off of your finger." Not /so/ different from learning to throw some weapons, but not as suitable for say an axe. Khesu demonstrates, moving a little slowly so Kai can see how he moves his shoulder. The tiny stone skips out over the water several times where a heavier stone would sink too quickly. Then he looks at her to try it. No comment about Britt having killed two of Kai's friends but he gives her a nod for what she's said.

Kai accepts the rock in her hand with an air of abject puzzlement even as she listens, feeling her way over the rock and then watching him with all the naked curiosity of a three year old to observe just how he holds it and flings it across the water again,"But.. how does it.. no.. I suppose it has something to do with surface tension or something that Eli could probably explain to death but.. that's amazing." which of course means she has to squat and try to find a rock of her own,"Not really thrown things. Rifles, hand-to-hand, kendo.. I never went in for sports, really. Not that there was much in the way of that sort of thing up there.. even my kendo teacher was taught by his father who was taught by his grandmother who learnt from her father who did it for recreation before the world fell. And for that, I did pretty good, better than most of the Skaikru.. but compared to you and Wren and the others.. it feels pretty laughable."

Khesu stands quietly as Kai searches for another stone. He watches and listens to the landscape around them even as she speaks but he misses it not. "I am certain you have skills I do not, that are yet useful." On a warm night it is good to be out here, away from the fire where the breath of the wind comes over the water. He does not ask what 'kendo' might be.

Kai hunts until she's certain she's found at least a reasonable rock, though she turns it over to Khesu for his inspection,"I studied military history and tactics, those were my.. focus. Though not much of a use for them here. Trikru do not fight like Skaikru, and though the Mountain fights more like Skaikru, it is not the same, either. And really, hardly anyone even remembers what the Battle of Hastings was, let alone England, or the time measurement scale of the Gregorian calendar.. so might be useful? But not really. Other than that.. rifles.. which I gave up when I left the Skaikru.. and as of yet I still suck at a bow. Traps.. but we don't exactly have a need for trap building."

The stone she hands him is accepted and Khesu fingers it, then hands it back, "It is thicker on one side than another. Out of balance." So he lets Kai look for another stone. One that is more even, perhaps a bit of shale. It is almost always perfect for skipping. There she goes again, speaking of things he knows nothing about. Things /he/ is ignorant of that she isn't. "Traps are useful for fish and food animals, or for furs." Khesu lowers his voice, "Or should you find yourself hunted and out numbered, but must return alive with critical information. There is more honor to fight your foes face to face, but one may have to choose what is best for others and not for themselves." He waits until she has found a gestures for her to try a throw.

Kai grunts acceptance and squats again to search for a better one,"We were hunted and outnumbered. I built the traps to defend skaigeda, a good portion of them.. but that was then, and now? We actually have reinforcements. And properly trained people. But yes, tactically those are the situations that they are useful. I prefer to face my enemies face-to-face. I do not reject a tool that will help obtain the objective, but as you say.. there is no honor in some methods." she locates a better one, she feels, and offers it up to him to test before curling it in her hand, trying to mimic how she saw him hold it,"In the end it is the balance between one's own honor and what must be done to protect the clan."

The stone is felt and he nods, finding it better shaped for her to try a throw. Kai actually makes Khesu smile, though she may well not see it in the darkness through his beard. "Wren teaches you well. I think you will make a good Trikru." No elaboration. He waits for her to try to skip the stone.

<FS3> Kai rolls 4: Good Success. (6 7 7 3)
<FS3> Khesu rolls Finesse+finesse: Good Success. (3 2 6 7 5 6 8 2)

Kai's not fast about it, not at all. The lean girl adjusts her hold and her position, trying to get herself into just that right spot before she let's it fly. To someone who has done it all their life.. really it's a pathetic attempt, only two skips before it sinks, but for her? It's epic. So epic, given the broad grin she gives like she just achieved something major in simply making a rock skip across water,"I did not make the choice to leave my birth clan without considering the full weight of things beforehand. Wren says I overthink things sometimes, but.. rushing in rarely achieves anything."

It's not a speed race and he's a very patient man when he wants to be. She can take her time as the evening is pleasant enough. Ah! And there she does it! No clapping, nothing exuberant from him, but he smiles again faintly, and maybe just a little more to see how her face lights up with that /big/ grin. "You did fine. Practice." It might come in handy, maybe even knock a bird out of the sky on the wing. Khesu's smile fades. "You are wise to think things through, when you have the option. Yet he is right also. We do not always have the time. You will have to judge for yourself which is more critical." And that brings them back to making mistakes and having to live with them.

There is a gesture back to the camp and no need to say more. The mead and his meal has perhaps made him sleepy and his bedroll on the ground lures him back. Khesu has no other place to call home for now.

"I will." Kai asserts,"And I know, believe me. Thank you.. for showing me the thing.. with the rock and the water.. that's.. actually really pretty cool. I'll have to show Eli.. he's going to flip." she laughs softly rather than linger on the more depressing thought for once in her young life. There's a small nod as she turns away from the lake, tipping her head in the direction of the yellow and white striped tent,"I dislike being separated from the clan, but my Niron is still Skaikru.. and though I will not sleep in his camp, and he will not sleep in ours.. at least between we have compromise while we are both here." she explains as she lets her path deviate.

Kai's answer from him is a faint grunt. As long as the two camps are so close, it hardly matters to him where she sleeps. She gets a hand raised briefly in acknowledgement and in parting and the warrior departs quietly.

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