Day 069: Sticks And Stones
Summary: Afaye and Nathaniel meet in the woods and struggle through a polite conversation.
Date: 07 August 2016
Related: None
Afaye Nathaniel 

Old Growth Forests - The Wilderness
This is the thickest region of the Trikru forests. It is defined as old growth, with monstrous hemlocks and cedars stretching almost a hundred and fifty feet in the air in most places. The understory is thick with young alders and shrubs, and the life of the forest is the most diverse in this region. There are many outposts in the trees as travelers get closer and closer to Tondc, and the great Trikru settlement lies to the east where the Potomac River once ran wild, but has since changed its course.
69 Days After Landing

At the fringes of the Tondc settlement, the trees begin to think out, the makings of a sunrise filter down through the sparse canopy to dapple the ground with pink and orange. Trikru outposts are visible well up the trunks, and below one of these Afaye lingers with her tobiano gypsy mare - Lin. She is chattering away to one of the guards above, who is leaning down to peer at the haul the huntress has brought in: a string of fat rabbits glutted on the bountiful spring growth. "<In Trigedasleng> If you think you can catch more in the space of a morning, I'll clean your catches for a week!" She barks out a laugh, rich and deep, and guides her horse about in a circle to bring her nose pointing eastward.

<FS3> Nathaniel rolls Stealth: Success. (4 1 7 6 2 5 4)
<FS3> Nathaniel rolls Survival: Good Success. (1 2 1 8 6 7)
<FS3> Nathaniel rolls Alertness: Success. (4 2 4 4 4 2 1 7)

It's around this point that you can spot a large man in a black t-shirt and jeans in the distance, coming out of nowhere from the forests. His brown hair sways a little in the little breeze there is, but if his clothing didn't give it away, the sneakers he wears certainly makes it clear that Nathaniel is one of the Arkers.

You can easily see the small throwing spear on his back as he stops and inspects both you and the guard at a glance, oblivious to the conversation as he starts to head southward, back into the forest.

<FS3> Afaye rolls Alertness: Great Success. (8 5 3 5 8 4 8 8)

The response from both Afaye and the guards above in the outpost is quick and fairly quiet; nothing but the creak of a bow as the string is pulled back comes from above, while Afaye already has her knife in her hand before she can blink twice. Nathaniel is not an entirely unfamiliar face in Tondc, but his obvious Skaikru-ness sets the horsemistress on edge enough that she doesn't relinquish her weapon. She does, however, click her tongue in an exasperated "Tchah!" and wave up to the guards that all is okay, more or less. "<In Trigedasleng> Nothing but a Skaiboy. I saw him at the party." Fluidly, and without missing a bit, she switches to the gonasleng to call out jokingly: "Hey boy! You not feelin' it from all the drink yesterday night?" This is followed by a high, thin whistle and a laugh from above.

Nathaniel pretty much never expects anything less then insults and jeering from Grounders these days, and instead of responding, Nathaniel simply gives a smile to you before he turns and crosses his arms. There were more than enough people at the party to make it hard to keep track of most people, but it's fairly obvious that Nathaniel is neither drunk or hungover from his movements.

With a bow pointed at him, Nathaniel gives it a glance, as if to say 'really?'. Seems like the 6'4 giant isn't in a particularly talkative mood, but at least he's staying put for now under the sudden attention.

Not much of a drinker herself, it is obvious by Afaye's fairly affable mood that she did not imbibe enough to suffer the morning after-effects. She laughs quietly, a deep, rumbly sound, and calls out a farewell to the men above. Lin tosses her head to catch the breeze in her mane as she is lead away from the tree and toward Nathaniel. By this point, Afaye has disarmed inasmuch as her knife has gone back in its sheath. Her bow is unstrung and set across the front of the saddle from which the brace of dead rabbits dangle. The scent of uncooked meat with an undertone of animal musk follows Afaye as she approaches the seemingly lone Skaikru at a slow enough pace to - hopefully - announce her peaceful intentions.

A faint smile still lingers about Afaye's mouth as she stops a few yards back from him, and now she can see clearly that he is clear-eyed and alert. One thin eyebrow arches upward. "Ahhh, apologies then. I thought you were someone else." She follows his gaze back to the outpost and sucks air through her front teeth while shaking her head. "Nay, Skaikru. They already turned their eyes back to the trees. I think they're still hungry for Maunon blood, if you ask me."

From this distance, it's clear that Nathaniel is not only a grown man, but also a heavily muscled one as well. His stance looks casual… but he looks ready to spring at a moments notice, especially with the wariness in his eyes as you approach. "I prefer Arker, but I understand that your people prefer clan names more." The deep baritone is easily heard, if neutral. "You can call me Nathaniel Breen. Nathaniel is my first name."

There are telltale signs of small cuts and scraps from hunting on his shins, "I was under the impression that the Coalition sealed the perimeter. There shouldn't be stragglers."

Afaye takes all of this in with that same calm smile on her face, and she lifts her chin in acknowledgement of his introduction. "Afaye kom Trikru," she replies first, gesturing to herself just in case it wasn't wildly obvious that this can be nothing other than her name. "Nathaniel kom Skaikru… Arker." The word isn't entirely foreign to her, but it's obvious by the slow way she rolls it around in her mouth that it's new for her to be speaking it aloud. "If you wish."

Now that it seems they have established their titles, she lets loose the reins and drapes them over the saddle, offering Lin a polite pat on the rump to signal the mare can wander and graze for the time being. "No, we don't expect anymore to come. Doesn't mean they aren't wishing very strongly for just one more to kill. Right between the eyes, yes?" She grins widely, flashing her pearly whites, and reaches up to tap her forehead right above the bridge of her nose. "You went to the Mountain?" Her eyebrows arch upward in curiosity, and she looks him over blatantly from head to toe; being as he is many inches taller than she, Yeye is forced to tilt her head back a fraction to do so.

"Arker, yes. As in from the Ark, before Arkfall sent us all down here." Nathaniel gestures to the sky as he speaks, "like most of us, I didn't expect to see Earth in my lifetime. We were expecting to had to wait another two hundred years at least." He shrugs at that, "turns out our scientists were wrong."

Then the subject of killing Mountain Men comes up, and his expression changes from neutrality to a frown. "I was in command of one of the Guard teams that went into the Mountain, both times."

Arker or not, Afaye is suitably impressed by Nathaniel's not going to the Mountain once but twice. As he speaks, her eyebrows go upward bit by bit until the threaten to disappear into her hairline. "Twice," she murmurs, crouching down and digging through the grass at her feet in search of fallen nuts. Might as well work while socializing, eh? "Thank you, then, for your help with the Maunon. I—" Well. She shrugs off whatever she was going to say next. There isn't much to say to someone who has battled for reasons of their own.

With a sigh, Afaye rises from her crouch empty-handed. Of course, so close to the gates of Tondc one shouldn't expect to find a lot of forage. "Were you here with the other Skaikru to give your cut last night? I heard he lasted a respectable amount of time, but none so long as most wished. A little over halfway into his punishment."

Now that the threat of being arrowed just for existing has passed, Nathaniel visibly relaxes, and does an inspection of his clothing, his throwing spear, and a pouch on his waist, before he takes a casual stance. His hands move to his sides as he observes you. "I'm a Sergeant in the Camp Jaha Guard. My position in the chain of command makes me an officer who gets tapped for command over fire teams. In your terms, I'm one of those who has tactical command over a group of three to five fighters and oversees that orders from my superiors are handled effectively."

Then Nathaniel looks back in the direction of Tondc, before he looks back to you. "I was there for reasons of my own. I'm hunting now before I have to head back to Camp Jaha for my duty shifts."

Hunting! Afaye can get onto that topic. She dusts her palms together and then wipes them carelessly on her pantlegs. "I just came from that myself, but I wasn't of the mind to pull in anything big. Just something to make a nice breakfast for those who can barely stand the sunlight." She grins again, a brief but very amused expression, when she thinks of those nursing some terrible hangovers. "But I saw signs of deer nearabouts. That way," one hand rises to gesture northwest, "a boar. Be wary if you head in that direction; I heard it snuffling around a few times, but it wasn't interested in me." Thank goodness.

Afaye turns her head and whistles through her teeth, and Lin, grazing some several yards away, lifts her head and snorts in response. A second whistle prompts the mare to tear herself away from the juicy, tender grass and prance toward Afaye, mane and feathers ruffled by her movements. "We will leave you to it, Nathaniel kom Skaikru - Arker. Luck with your hunt, and I hope you get some rest after all your hard work."

Nathaniel gives a shrug, "I'm only getting food for my girlfriend and I before we head back. We have a lot of work to do back at Camp as it is, and the fighting with Mount Weather took up too much time when we should have been learning our surrounding hunting and getting our agro work done." Nathaniel watches the horse come up, "I'm not in a hurry. Richie isn't expecting me back for another few hours." Then, Nahaniels eyes go in the direction of Camp Jaha, "though now that we're down here and staying, we'll have to come up with a better name for ourselves. Most of your people don't seem to like Arker."

When Nathaniel admits to being in no hurry, Afaye stops mid-mount and sets her foot back on the ground. She unloads her bow and quiver, strings the former, and then slings the load over her shoulders. With a shrug, she clicks her tongue to Lin, directs the horse eastward toward the Tondc gates, and sends her on the way with a short, sharp whistle. The gypsy mare swishes her tail once and starts up into a trot, heading straight for the city. "I will walk with you, then. Fewer—'misunderstandings', yes?" She gestures in a northwest direction beckoningly and then takes off at a steady walk.

"Arker is a word that means much to you, but little to us, I think. It is not a dislike so much as it does not…hmm. It just means nothing. Skaikru is how we see you - it tells us where you came from, it establishes your tribe. It makes sense." Well, to her, anyway. Afaye tilts her head and glances toward Nathaniel, raising her eyebrows inquiringly. "Someone told me you did not always call us Trikru. What was the word that was used?"

There's a moment before Nathaniel walks with you, rubbing his right leg with a grunt before he starts along, "It's where we came from. Twelve stations in space in one. When we first united, we were under the impression that we were the last of humanity, and that we would need to wait for centuries before we could repopulate the planet after the bombs fell. When the teenagers were sent down here, it was to see if the planet was survivable. We had no idea anyone was alive down here, let alone thriving enough to war with one another again."

Nathaniel looks to you again, with a frown. "We prefer family or surnames to establish where we are from. Our nation or 'tribe' as you call it, matters less than the family. From all indications, we're a lot more individualistic then your people are. Your people seem to be all about the collective, with less priority on the family unit." When asked about the name used, there's a bit of wariness, "Trikru is the word you use for yourselves. When we did not know your word for yourselves, we called you Grounders. Because you were born on the Ground."

Dry leaves and twigs cast about by high winds crack underfoot as they move slowly into the woods; no need to be particularly stealthy when they're already talking at a normal, conversational level. Afaye pauses for a moment to lean down and snatch up a rather long branch - sturdy, and with only a few twigs to break off and make a decent impromptu walking-stick. The concept of stations in space is so foreign to her that she can only nod to Nathaniel to show she is listening, even if she doesn't really understand half of what he is saying. "I remember hearing you were sent down by your people. I heard it was not voluntary."

Using her stick now, Afaye knocks stray stones out of her way and neatly steps around any animal deposits on the trail. "We have families," she replies, unsure as to whether or not there's a question about it in Nathaniel's words. "Our families have the same priority as do all Trikru, and we do for each other all the same. Mostly." Another brief grin. "Grounders. That sounds different, but I understand it." She pauses for a moment in search of her next words. "What do you want to do?"

"I wasn't. One hundred of our teenagers were. By law, the majority of them were going to be floated when they turned eighteen." Nathaniel realizes then that she probably doesn't know what that means, "floating is when you put someone in an airlock, then cycle it with them inside, tossing them out into space. It was quick and somewhat painless and we didn't need to waste anything for it." Nathaniel frowns as he recalls it, "a lot of us were concerned over it when we learned what the Council had done. That was around the time we learned the Ark was dying. Then the bomb went off and the rebellion happened." It's obviously a painful memory, "the dropship meant to take us down was stolen and the rebels crippled the Ark. It's a miracle we survived Arkfall without being blown to atoms." Nathaniel sighs, "Richie asked me that very question a week ago, and I still don't have an answer." He looks to you, then. "When we were still on the Ark, I just wanted to make sure we survived to get back to the ground one day. Now… everythings new and we're still figuring out what we want. I'll probably be staying with the Guard… but beyond that? I have absolutely no idea other than I want whatever it is to be with Richie."

"Ahh," Afaye murmurs in reply to the explanation that Nathaniel was not one among the original Skaikru on the ground. This may or may not knock him up a few points on her running list of people, but she does offer a faint smile of understanding…so perhaps it did. "So, as you say, your people did not agree to sending the first Skaikru down here? That explains many things." But as to these many things, it does not seem as if she cares to elaborate. Instead, she pauses and crouches down at the foot of a tree and nudges some dry leaves aside with a finger. Beneath them lies a tasty western ginger, and she digs around the root with her fingers before pulling the plant free. This is stowed in the pouch at her waist before she continues, hastening her pace to catch up to Nathaniel.

"Is this Richie - you called her your…" Yeye's voice trails off for a moment as she searches her memory for the appropriate gonasleng word. "Friend-girl?" she hazards, glancing sidelong at the Arker and arching one eyebrow inquisitively. "I do not know what this word implies. She is a niron? Or—no." Second-guessing herself, the Trikru woman flicks her fingers dismissively as if to bat away that silly question. "Sounds more like a houmon. We ask ourselves a lot, too: 'What will the Skaikru do?' And the answers are different. Your Council is tight-lipped, but we know what comes next."

"I'd call the initial reactions mixed. It was meant as a scouting mission. See if the Earth was survivable. When they were sent down here, we thought most life on earth had been gone for a century and the ecosytem was only just starting to rebuild itself. We had no idea anyone had survived, so they were dropped here for the supply depots nearby. Turns out, there were Grounders." Nathaniel gestures to you, "and they were confused as to where people dropping down from the sky came from and what their intentions were. One thing led to another, and your people tried to kill ours. Then the people in the bunker took our people, and we did what we needed to do to get them back, since we knew we could get in there. Eventually, your people agreed to help with that goal since they had been doing the same to yours for decades." Nathaniel smiles, "and here we are."

Then, Nathaniel looks around to the trees, "Richie, short for Richael. She's my girlfriend. You would call her a niron. We call 'houmon' being married. Husband and wife. We aren't houmon. I'm not her husband, at least not yet." Then he looks to her, "we're still figuring out ourselves, Afaye. This is a whole new world for us, literally, and we're just starting to get settled in. I only saw my first river a month ago, and I'll never get tired of the sound of running water. Give us a few months, then ask us 'what will those from the Ark do', again."

Afaye laughs at this response, but not in any manner that can be deemed sarcastic; rather, the low burble is entirely of amusement, and she presses a hand to her belly to keep from breaking a rib. "Ahaha, ahhh, Skaikru have a sense of humor." She wipes a tear from beneath her eye and shakes her head, smiling widely at Nathaniel. "What will Skaikru do? You will build a home. Here? Or somewhere else? That is what you will you do, because there is no other choice. Go back up into the sky? You have sacrificed much to get here, and I can see in your eyes the admiration. No, the Skaikru will not go back up. They will stay, and they will rebuild. It is nature." Smiling still, Yeye gestures broadly around to encompass the forest by way of wordless explanation on said nature.

"The building a home part is true enough, at least. We still have people unaccounted for from the other stations as it is. I'm hoping we'll get a chance to go scouting for them, since the Mount Weather situation demanded our attention until now. After that… we're still getting our bearings." Then there's a nod, "Camp Jaha is building. I've been told your people mostly find our settlement terrifying, with all the technology." Nathaniel stops then, to admire some flowers, the 6'4 giant crouching low for it. "If nothing else, the Trikru will probably become our trading partners. I need to find a carpenter myself."

Sighing softly, Afaye leans against a tree trunk when Nathaniel pauses to look at a particular flower. Not being savvy in the ways of most plants herself, she cannot supply the name for him, alas. "Terrified?" The word rolls around in her mouth and in her head, and her expression darkens a few degrees - evidenced mostly by the faint pursing of her lips and the flare of her nostrils. "It is bred in, down to the bone. You as Skaikru do not understand generations of fear. We have - I have - seen whole villages massacred in a single blow. Retribution from the Maunon was something to be feared, and technology the cause. My own home was obliterated, everything that I owned, because of this. It will be many years before Trikru can look at your technology and not cringe. The instinct runs deep."

"I understand fear just fine. We feared we were the last of the human race, and that if the Ark became unsustainable before Earth was survivable, the human race would die with us." Nathaniel says this soberly, as if he's lived with that knowledge his whole life. "Everything we did up there was for the preservation of our species. We had limited resources, and needed to survive for centuries up there. Technology is the only reason we survive as long as we did." The he looks to you, "Missiles are fairly complex technology, centuries ahead of what you know. Mount Weather kept your people in the Dark Ages of science, almost certainly for control. As it is, I can't say I blame you for the fear. I'm just saying what I've heard."

"And I am saying why you heard what you did," Afaye replies, although she pauses and wrinkles her nose as if trying to decide whether her gonasleng went awry there. She shrugs it off and uses her elbow to lever her up from her lean against the tree. The butt of her walking stick thuds against the damp, dark soil as she pounds it against the ground once. "This is as far as I go now, Nathaniel kom Skaikru. There is work to be done, and no Second to do it for me, ahaha." For her, this is obviously a jest; for others, it may simply be a statement. "You go careful now, and hunt now. Bring good meat to your niron, aye?" Another flash of her white teeth. "I will see you again."

This gets a wave, "something like that, anyway. I'll see you later Afaye." With that, Nathaniel stalks back into the forest.

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