Day 009: The Bear and the Mice
Summary: The Bear visits with three little skaikru mice. The Mice are given a chance to perhaps secure a Summit… well, if they can get others to help.
Date: 13 May 2016
Related: Pretty much everything.
Bear Fiona Grey Faolan 

The Seat, Coesbur
Described in poses.
9 Days After Landing

The journey to Coesbur was very uneventful. It was a long walk, but the two Grounders — now known to the three as Gideon and Wren — show that, perhaps a bit unnervingly, they know the way from the dropship to the bridge that leads into the village. Coesbur is probably a middling village in terms of size. The buildings that stand are a combination of old stone structures from before the Apolcaypse, and built structures of wood and evergreen thatch. When the five enter the village, there is a tension that seems to settle around the Grounder people, but it isn't until Gideon leads them to the steps of a large white stone building with wide, deep steps, does her own shoulders hold a sense of tension. "I cannot go further," she explains. "Oxfor will be waiting for you in there." She points. "Do not show fear, but remember your place here… you are guests…"

Grey is really, really tired. It's a good thing he had a nap the day before, because he hasn't slept all night. During the quick walk north, he offered a hand out to Fiona when and if needed, but otherwise kept quiet and just walked save for occasional glances back toward their camp, even after the light of the fires was no longer visible. As they approach the entrance to the village, he unslings his bandoleer with his makeshift baton on it, and holds it out to Gideon. His knife follows, leaving him theoretically unarmed. "C'mon, like I'm gonna be scared." There's a slightly-scared smile that follows, but he nods, "Thank you."

Faolan is comfortable with silence, and he wraps himself in it the whole uneventful trek. He watches both his surroundings and especially the Grounders with alert suspicion. As when he'd stood guard on them when his shifts had come up, he hadn't really attempted to engage. Even if he is now part of a diplomatic mission where understanding the other side might be life and death. When they reach the grounder village he is studying it with intensity, memorizing every line and every detail he can. The fact that Grey is disarming obviously doesn't make him happy. He frowns, reluctance wrapped tight around him as he slowly unattached his grounder sword and sheathe from his back, then his equally looted grounder knife. Probably should've left it all behind, he thinks now. He places it together with his self made metal tipped spear on the steps of the building. A grunt is all the sign he's heard Gideon.

Fiona had her sleep schedule interrupted and was over-fatigued from her run to begin with, but as it turns out, sometimes being an insomniac has its advantages. She wouldn't have been able to get back to sleep anyway, so even though she's a bit fuzzy, she's the one who likely tries to engage the Grounders in conversation, albeit quietly. She wants to know things, mostly about culture and courtesy, apparently wanting to put their best feet (they are, after all, a team) forward. She too surrenders her knife, without hesitation. Of course, she's less competent with it than either boy.

The double-wide doors to the octagon-shaped building are open, allowing the cool spring air to move through the otherwise darkened building. A large circular window is set in just above the doors, streaming in the early afternoon light. There are several windows along the angled, adjacent walls to the door, but their glass has been painted over in various colors in a thin layer of spray paint. Inside, the marble floors have long ago lost their polish, but they still hold the ghosts of what looks like a woman in a blue Roman-style dress, standing with a spear above the latin words Sic Semper Tyrannis. Across the octagon room, seated on a chair before a wall of stained-glass is an enormous man with dark skin and even darker eyes. He is dressed in typical Grounder attire, and is speaking in a hush to a tall, sterious woman with streaks of gray in her jet black hair. Above him is a hanging sign that reads in old, worn letters: Welcome to the City of Leesburg.

As the three enter, he looks up. His eyes narrow a bit, and he gruffs something to the woman. She nods her head, and starts to make her leave toward a door to the right of where the man sits, disappearing down a shadowy hallway. He gets up now, stepping heavily down the short stairs. He had once been a god of physical fitness and physique, and while he still possesses strong limbs, his belly has softened a bit with a gently protruding gut beneath the softened leather of his shirt.

Grey looks around the room as they enter, wonder softening his features. He stands by the door a long moment, then steps forward again, blinking and trying to gather himself again. Under his breath, he murmurs, "I'm takin' my cues from you, Fiona." His attention quickly goes to the massive man, and he nods his head, doing his best with, "Ai laik Grey kom Skaikru." Luckily, its simple to say that much.

Faolan's eyes wander the interior of the building, but it's the big man who ultimately holds it. Its hard not to have some sort of gut level reaction to his sheer physical presence. He masks his with a frown, a stubborn refusal to be cowed or impressed. Underneath his heirloom leather jacket, open to reveal his bloody t-shirt, his shoulders instinctively square. He remembers the ambush, the arrows, the sense of fear and frustration and shame. He tastes the flavor of blood, metallic and warm and salty on his tongue, as he relieves his hazy crimson tinted nightmare berserking. He stops, back straight, chin defiantly tall. A grunt announces he's with Grey on letting Fiona take the lead. He only introduces himself after Grey has. His voice is calm, strong, and he subconsciously mimics it on Kane, even in guttural Grounder speak. "Ai laik Fhaolin kom Skaikru."

Fiona's eyes widen a little bit as each young man bids her take the lead. They are really here. This is really happening. Her heart is pounding in her chest so hard that she's certain the whole building can hear it, but that doesn't stop her from stepping forward, just a few feet in front of Grey and Faolan so they form a triangle. "Ai laik Feyona kom Skaikru." Her voice is pitched clear and direct, the rhythm of the sounds coming as smooth as she can make them for her limited time to practice. She looks at the man directly for a moment, then inclines her head respectfully before switching to English. "We seek a summit." She talked a dozen kids into chaining themselves to Tesla Station. She can do this. Right?

The man smiles his big, broad, white smile. "So… they taught you what to say," he rumbles in his deep sonorous voice. "Ai laik Oxfor kom Trikru, steheda Coesbur." He continues his advance, moving like a giant bear toward the three. "You have come seeking a summit." He stops a good, safe distance from the three, looking them over in a thoughtful, almost meditative way. "You come seeking a summit after your people sent you down to occupy our lands." He turns his head slightly, expression becoming stoic. Grounders breed stoicism.

"We had no knowledge of anyone on these lands. Or in fact anywhere on the planet." Fiona replies, keeping her position at the head of the triangle while the man moves around. She follows him with her eyes, but nothing else. "We only wanted to survive, and to do that we followed the instructions we were given, that we believed to be our best hope. Now we are here. We can look at what is behind us, or we can look ahead, to what may benefit both our peoples." The occasional curling of her fingers are the only betrayal of her surface calm.

That resonant voice… it's definitely familiar, and it sends an icicle down his spine. The last time he saw this man he was standing on a cliff shouting promises of vengeance. Grey licks his lips, his feet shuffling slightly, and he glances over to Faolan a moment, as if to gauge the other man's reaction. Then he realizes there's a bit of a question there, and he nods in response to the first part. And then the second. The third, however, causes him to bristle, but he leaves it to Fiona to respond. "We didn't know where we were coming down when we were sent, Oxfor kom Trikru." That's to add to the more important points that Fiona has brought up.

Faolan says nothing while Fiona and Grey speaks. His hand moves towards his left forearm, rubbing at the leather and putting pressure on the cuts he's made on his arm there. They itch. His eyes follow the big Grounder. Finally, after a little bit of time has passed after Grey's opinion, he adds in a quiet tone: "Yeah, we seek summit. After you killed ours, after we killed yours."

Something dark and dangerous in the Oxfor's eyes. He advances another step, looming like a mountain each advance he makes. Then he crosses his massive arms at his chest, staring at Fiona as she speaks. "Benefit us?" There is a small sharpness in his voice, a deep thunderous threat. "After your people have attacked my village." Wait, what? "You first threatened to incite the Mountain Men, then captured two of my warriors, but not before your people spread their sickness to mine." He looks at Grey and Faolan now, recognizing them with a slight change of his expression. "Jus drein jus daun."

Steady. Steady. Mountain Men? Mountain Men? There are people on the mountain? Fiona's brow furrows at that, but…later. "We did not know there was anyone to incite. We were just trying to survive the only way we thought we could. We know of no sanctioned assault on any of your people's villages, nor any sickness brought with us. We captured two of your warriors, but you took three of us. Oxfor kom Trikru, we come to you now with a better understanding of this world. And had we known there were others here, perhaps this conversation would be different." She takes a breath, wills herself not to take a step back as Oxfor moves forward, not needing to crane her neck back - yet - to look up at him. "We have returned your warriors. And we have, to our knowledge, brought not sickness upon your people - but amongst the benefits we can offer is medicine and knowledge." There's a pause. "Jus drein jus daun." she repeats. "These are words that have been spoken many times, but we don't know what they mean."

Grey tenses as the Bear advances, but he manages to hold himself steady and not react more obviously. The mention of Mountain Men and the rest of the list of offenses causes him to frown in confusion, but the last phrase has him glancing back toward the door, where their 'escorts' were left, and by the time he looks forward, Fiona has said her piece, "That's… 'blood must have blood,' right? Or something like that? Blood has had blood. We'd like to stop things before more's spilled. We heard there can be a summit between two groups, to end a war or to stop one from starting, when both sides have somethin' to offer the other."

The Mountain Men is what catches Faolan's attention, immediately making his expression thoughtful. He frowns through all the options that might open up. Or close. Just as many have closed. He's fallen quiet, and since unlike Grey he hasn't been preparing the way to become a Grounder Pounder, he doesn't catch any kind of meaning to the words. Just Grounder gibberish to him until they're explained.

Oxfor blinks at Grey, brow actually arched in thoughtful consideration. Then he nods slowly. "Blood must have blood… but blood continues to spill." He looks level at the three, and then breathes out a heavy exhale. Then he gestures them to follow, starting with big heavy steps toward the corridor where the woman had disappeared moments ago. "Come see what you have done, and tell me that we are ready for such a summit…"

"What we've done…" Fiona is of course bafffled, looking now at Grey and FaolN in confusion. But she follows Oxfor with curiosity.

Grey shakes his head at Fiona's baffled look, "I've got no idea." He hesitates for a heartbeat, but then follows after Oxfor. He opens his mouth to say more to the big man, then darts a gaze to Fiona and (probably wisely) shuts up again.

Faolan follows after Oxfor. To Fiona he just makes a shrug, as if to ask her if she really expected a Grounder to make sense. He keeps rubbing his arm. If he is considering how to escape after assassinating their leader, that's not acting in bad faith. Its just preparing for possible outcomes.

The large Grounder chief leads the three back down the hallway — a hallway he seems to fill rather impressively. When they take a corner, they enter a large and airy room with a roof that had long ago been replaced with thatch. There are numerous bodies — perhaps two dozen in all — in various states of consciousness. Some Grounder men and women move amongst them, placing cool wet cloths on their foreheads. One woman is pressing her ear to a young man's chest — a man perhaps no older than Grey or Faolan. Her eyes are closed, listening to the deep wheezing breaths.

Oxfor gestures. "My people have fallen to this illness since we captured yours… four are already dead."

Fiona looks around in complete bewilderment. "This started after our people were here? None of ours have shown any sign of this illness." She looks over at Faolan and Grey, her expression concerned. Could they have somehow unwittingly caused this? Looking back to Oxfor, she says, "I promise you, we don't know what caused this. But," she looks back to the young men, and then to Oxfor, "We can try to help."

Grey looks around the room, frowning as he takes in the ill people. Fighting the urge to cover his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket, he blinks at Oxfor's rumbling words, and that urge goes away, "Wait… you think this is our fault? That we planned to be ambushed and have our people captured just so we could do this?" Disgust fills his voice at the last word, one hand flung out to encompass the room and its occupants, "We're not monsters. We don't use biowarfare." Smooth move, Grey. Then again, that should be par for the course. Right, he's supposed to be letting Fiona talk. He gestures quickly toward her, reinforcing her words, "Yeah. We've got people who know a whole lot more about medicine than us three. It might be somethin' they know about, from Ark records."

"I'm not a medtech," Faolan says. He looks at the rows of sick people. And in their vulnerability to the disease that is ravaging them, he doesn't, for once, see them as primarily just Grounders. "Layla or Silver'd been good to have now." He doesn't include Morgan in his list, the pair of them not seeing eye to eye on, well, anything really. "Fevers.. the lungs right? I feel like I almost recognize this." He's talking mostly to himself.

Oxfor crosses his arms again, staring at Grey like he isn't exactly speaking out of the realm of possibility. In fact, he even shrugs a bit. "We do it," he says flatly. Then he smirks a bit at the monsters comment, his almost amused. "Sometimes you have to be a monster if it means surviving, Greh kom Trikru." Then he looks over at Fiona and nods. "We have not seen this sickness before your people were here." Then his mouth thins, making his hard face even harder. Something seems to flash behind his eyes — a thoughtful consideration. "Your people agree to remove this sickness from my village… I will agree to a summit."

It's within the realm of probability that they did bring this down on the village, however unwittingly. Fiona doesn't want to bring that up, because it's too easy for speculation to turn into accusation. But this is an opportunity, and the fact that it's even remotely recognizable means there's likely a way to help. She doesn't answer right away, however; she turns to look at the boys, lifting her brows and giving the tiniest of nods. Yes? She won't commit without their input.

Grey blinks at Oxfor's response to his unthinking accusation, opening his mouth to respond, and then shutting it. "Uh. If I knew that, I definitely wouldn't have said 'monster.'" He clears his throat, covering his hand with a fist. The motion turns into a sharp nibble on his left thumbnail, only to draw a faintly disgusted glance down at his hand. When did he get that under his nail. Fiona's silent half-question draws a sharp and clear nod from him.

Faolan looks at the sick people. When Grey backtracks from his monster comment he glances that way. A shrug is followed by a thumbs up gesture to Fiona, putting himself behind the move. "If your purpose is to kill, I don't suppose it matters much in the end how you do it. The dead don't get any less dead if its by disease or sword. But we don't want more dead if we don't have to make them."

The massive bear of a man does not seem to be entirely satisfied, as he punctuates this agreement with a clear, resounding threat: "If you come here, and more of my people die… I will see that every last one of you pay for the lives taken… and it won't matter how many of you fall from the sky… the Twelve Clans will see no skaikru breathes another breath." Then he offers a white smile, almost humored. "I do not wish there to be any misunderstandings between our people." Then he starts to draw the three back from the makeshift infirmary, sending them walking back down the hallway if they do not resist. "I shall let my people know that you are our guests until tomorrow's time. Then we will depart for your camp to retrieve your healers."

She's about to verbalize the agreement when Oxfor takes it as a given. Seeing no need, she asks instead, "May we speak to the healers? And perhaps some of the sick who are still conscious? They may be able to help us understand what has happened."

Faolan stays quiet after that. He trails the others, studying his surroundings, brooding stoically! Like a grounder in the making.

"If some of my people did this on purpose, Oxfor kom Trikru, then I'll haul them up here myself and then take whatever you want to do to them too." Grey is either not lacking for courage, he trusts in the Delinquents, or he's full of teenage bravado. Or pick two, that's more likely. He starts to turn away at the big man's direction, then stops at Fiona's question, adding in, "We may not know what's wrong, but we can get more info to our healers so they know what they're comin' into."

Oxfor looks back at them, and he nods firmly. "You will be shown to sleeping quarters when you are ready, and I will see to it that food and drink is provided." It appears that this particularly Grounder follows a pretty serious interpretation of guestright.

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