Day 005: We're Gonna Die, Man
Summary: Evie and Faolan take a sparring match into more philosophical territory.
Date: 6 May 2016
Related: Weather to Take the High Road or the Low
Evie Faolan 


Forests Around the Camp - The Wilderness

This forest is a mingling of hardwoods and temperate evergreens, with towering oaks and cedars mixed with slender alders. The ground is covered in grassy mosses and thick ferns — some with sharp, sword-like leaves and others with tight spiraled stems that unfurl toward the crowded canopy. Beyond the trees and ferns, the forest also hosts arching, moss-draped vine maples and flowering blackberry bushes as just some of its flora occupants.

Toward the west, the forest begins to break as the mountains climb, revealing meadow balds and the broad web of the divided Potomac.

5 Days after Landing, Evening

Faolan is a big guy, but he still moves with a natural fluidity to him, both in attack and in defense. They've got spears, because killing has become a thing, not just self defense. "Lean into," he says, squinting as he transitions. "But keep in mind your balance. You don't ever want to over-commit. Two steps ahead. What you're gonna do, what they're gonna do, how you're gonna react to what they're gonna do. Its a lot to think about, I know, but do these patterns enough, and you won't thing. You'll just do."

Technically he was trained with shock sticks, but he's bright enough to have adjusted the drills to spears instead. This is what he dose. This is his talent, more than anything. This is where he feels competent. It shows, too. "It has to be instinct. There's no cheating. Only training'll make your muscles remember."

Evie goes through the motions of block-block-parry-jab, but after another couple rounds of practice she pauses to dig the butt of the spear into the dirt. Leaning on it heavily, she pants and wipes dripping sweat out of her eyes. Her customary braids are caught up in a tangle with her long mane and tied back from her face. It looks messy. She feels messy. "I get muscle memory, I do, but fuck I need some water. This is killing me. I was more of a work-from-a-chair kind of person on the Ark, y'know?" Squinting, she glances up to Faolan and rolls her eyes at his composure, which just makes her feel like even more of an out-of-shape wreck. "Why did I ask for this." It's not a question, and it is obviously rhetorical.

"Because its life and death." Faolan says it quite easily, but there's a dead seriousness in his tone none the less. Rhetorical or not he's answering. He hardly looks that winded. His jacket is thrown over a fern nearby, leaving him in his t-shirt which is clinging to him with the dampness of sweat. He lowers his spear and picks up is 'canteen', a new one since the last he'd had was lost by the river ambush. "Because you're smart and you know that if you come across a Grounder," how easily that tern has spread, "you'll need it or you'll die." He takes a swallow, then hands Evie the water.

"Or at least I'll need it to live long enough to run away. That sounds a little more like me." Evie's lips curve upward in a faint smirk as she leans forward and accepts the canteen, bringing it to her lips and taking a few hearty swallows. She lifts it in a silent salute of gratitude while continuing: "But thanks for calling me smart. I don't feel like it right now." With a sigh, she caps the canteen and hands it back. "Okay, can we go over the vital stab points again? I'm avoiding the heart, because I don't have the upper body strength to drive through the intercostal space to get to it. Neck, yes. Groin, yes. Where else?"

"Soft targets. Hit the liver or the kidney, and it'll paralyze," Faolan says. He takes a step towards her, poking her with a finger to indicate where those areas are, poking with finger. Poke, poke. "But you're right, you're probably looking to great some space so you can run." A simple factual acknowledgement of her level of skill. "In the first couple of seconds, a skilled opponent is reading you. If you're wild, they'll just settle back to read your rhythm. That's a gap. Stick beyond the gap, of course, and they'll just kill you for your weaknesses." He rolls a shrug off his broad sculptured shoulder.

Evie grunts as Faolan pokes her, slapping at his hands even if it does absolutely no good. Still, she is learning, and she is quite serious about remembering everything. "Here and—here?" she inquires, poking him near the liver and kidney respectively. "I think I could do that a lot better than getting it high enough to hit the neck. The motherfuckers are HUGE." Pause. She cranes her head back a bit to peer up at Faolan who stands a foot taller than her. "Well, compared to me. Alright, let's go again. We have time before the hunters return. When's the party leaving to go track down our people?"

"Yeah." There hadn't been a lot of fat to him before he went down to Earth. Limited food has stripped him of everything else. Its poking bones or its poking muscle. His t-shirt is bloody, sweat stained and dirty. Though he was among the few in the ambush who wasn't hurt in any way, he did get rub-on blood, and he's been hunting. "Some sort of mutant, I guess. If the deers have two faces, why not the people?" A good reason why all of them wore masks, right? He steps back, shrugs. Once a bit of space he starts stabbing again. Its a drill, all pre-determined motions, designed to create muscle memory. She just doesn't have the skill yet to do deviations. "Uh. I don't remember. In a couple of hours, I think?" He's been distracted cutting wood for the wall and doing watches incase of attacks.

Settling down to business, Evie is silent for several minutes while she tries to remember each step in the small routine Faolan has developed. For her, it isn't so much about the muscle memory just yet and more about the brain memory. Maybe one day they will mesh. She curses as she nearly mis-steps and leans into a jab, but at the last second she parries it away with a panicked flick of her spear. Rather than trying to follow through with the rest of the routine now that her equilibrium is off, she dances out of reach and tries to collect herself. Perhaps the thought of two-faced fauna has distracted her. "Wait, you're not going with the trackers? I thought Grey would want you with him."

She steps away and he doesn't pursue. He steps back as well, shoulder rolling with a languid shrug. He leans against the spear. He eyes her up with his clear blue eyes. "I'm not much of a tracker. Not all that quiet either, if I'm honest. I'm working on it, but it wasn't ever.. you know, a skill I felt I needed. Wasn't supposed to sneak around. Was supposed to just knock on a domicile and people'd answer, and we'd talk through whatever problem there was."

"Hey, I'm with you there. Never had a reason to sneak around, so it's not like I really got any practice at it. What did I have to hide? I was blatant about everything. Too blatant, if you ask my mother." Evie turns about a bit and takes up her position, but holds up a finger to pause a second time. She takes a moment to tighten her ponytail, causing more flyaway hairs to escape and float about in the breeze. "Okay, again."

"Yeah, but you know how to get around down here. I'm still clueless," and he sounds like it's a personal failing, a deep character flaw that's worthy of being mocked and judged by. Frowning, he shakes his head, raking his fingers through his short cut dark hair. Then he leaps forward, spear stabbing, swift, sure, though he doesn't put all of his strong frame behind it. There's always a little bit held back, so he doesn't actually hurt her. He manages to talk while sparring. "You can match maps with ground, that shirt. To me its all.. I don't know." Another stab. STAB STAB. "And I'm not sure I could back out if I found them. I might just've charged. Sometimes, uh, well. Its not something I share like its a big secret NOBODY has noticed. "But sometimes I lost control of my temper."

Evie is quiet once more, although she is struggling less to remember the steps as she lunges, dodges Faolan's jabs, and only gets knicked once on the arm. She doesn't even bother to stop, feeling already that it isn't going to be a bleeder. Her eyes widen a bit, however, and she grunts as she parries another thrust. "Maps—aren't hard. Really. People think it's like code or something, but it isn't. I can teach you how to use them. It's like the cheater's way of exploring. Maybe you should come with me tomorrow. I'm taking a small crew out to collect plants for medicinals. You could learn about what you'll be guarding. And we're going to need everyone to help with some basic first aid."

"I know basic first-aid," Faolan says. He leans out of the way of a stab, counters it with frightening swiftness. "Was in the cadet's course load." Before he'd been sent to the Skybox. He hadn't been there long; four months only. He still remembers what it was like to be a respected and honorable member of society rather than an outcast. "I'd like that, though. Yeah. If we live through this, I mean. Getting our people back. We gotta get our people back." Stubborn are the words, seeded with self-loathing turned to fanatic determination for getting them back. He'd been the one who ordered the retreat, had literally pushed everybody back rather than fought. It'd been the right decision, but it still doesn't sit well with him. Its a poison of shame that seeps into every decision he now makes.

"Time out," Evie calls, feeling herself growing winded yet again. Her spear-work is getting sloppy, and her arms are starting to feel like rubber. Rather than merely pause, she flings down her spear and flops onto her back beside it in the universal sign of 'I give up.' "I'm not going to be able to lift a flower for a week. Unnngh, I hurt in places where I didn't know it could even hurt." One arm is flung over her eyes, although she lifts it long enough to peer up at Faolan with a deep frown. "Maybe you need someone to take a whip to your back in penance, Fao. Work out some of that darkness. You keep letting leadership decisions eat you up inside like that, you're going to end up a useless husk. Or you're going to make a major fucking mistake and die."

She throws down her weapon? He pokes her in the stomach with his, a sharp (though not that painful) a blow. "Being tired isn't an excuse to drop your weapon." But he doesn't follow up on it. His own weapon is finally brought to a still. He picks up his water again, drains a mouthful then offers Evie a swallow. "I'm not a leader, so it doesn't matter."

"We're all leaders at some point," Evie replies matter-of-factly, batting at the weapon as it thunks into her stomach. The air whooshes from her lungs, and she rolls over onto her knees. "Holy crap, I was just resting. It's the same position I'd take if I couldn't outrun a Grounder after getting away. Laid out on the ground ready to be killed." Muttering epithets, she snatches at the canteen and tosses back several mouthfuls of water before wiping her mouth with her arm. "Someday you are going to find yourself in charge of some people. Maybe not a lot. Maybe only two or three. You're going to be the leader, and you're going to have to make the hard choices, and you're going to have to figure out how to live with it. This isn't the Ark. We don't have people here to take up our slack, to coax us through the difficult shit, to kiss our boo-boos and tell us to go out and play. Figure out how to live with it, Fao. That's what I'm saying. This dark and brooding thing would work on the Ark, but it won't down here. Stomp it out. Swallow it. Tuck it away into a secret corner. Indulge at night when you're alone in your blanket or something."

"I'm not brooding," Faolan mutters as he sinks down into the earth next to her. He does so broodingly. His eyes lift up to cut through the canopy of trees and at the sky itself. It doesn't cease to wonder, not ever. "I can live with everything just fine. We do what we gotta, not what we wanna. I've always known that. Its the law of the Ark, and now.. now its the law of the ground, too." So why does he sound so bitter about it? Perhaps because he had genuinely thought coming to Earth would mean a new start, no more violence, no more hard punishments, a bounty of air and water and food for everybody they could give up the harsh rules. They could make a better world. All that come crashing down with the ambush at the river.

Evie tosses the canteen back and forth between her hands, listening to the slosh of water as it moves. "It's the law of the ground for now, at least, but maybe not forever. When the Ark comes…" Her voice trails off, and she frowns at the canteen while working through her thoughts. "When the Ark comes, we'll have better resources to set ourselves up. Carve out a foothold, y'know? We just have to hunker down and survive until then. Even if there weren't Grounders, that's still what we'd have to do. Look farther ahead than tonight or tomorrow."

"Will they come, though? If people keep taking their bracelets off? What happens when the last one is taken? Are they gonna think that Earth is inhospitable?" Its asked with a frown while he touches his own metal bracelet. He lets out a sigh of pent up tension. "We need to contact them, but real communication systems would be up in Mount Weather. But we can't get there because the Grounders are in the way. Unless someone figuers out a way to talk to the Ark, we might be on our own." A pause. "If we'd had rifles.. they'd all be fucking dead."

"They'll come," Evie replies, although a note of desperate hope underlays her words. She, too, touches the metal still secure about her wrist and sighs. "Mine isn't coming off unless they kill me and strip it from my cold, dead hand. We have to hope they're smarter than that. I have to hope they're smarter, anyway, or I'll go crazy. With all ya'll assholes running around acting like lunatics, it's really hard to stay sane." She flahes Faolan a brief, genuine grin before offering the canteen back. "Rifles. Not a chance in hell we'll find a stash of weapons big enough for our group. I wish, though. Oh, do I wish." She falls silent again and reaches out to pluck up a dandelion, twirling it between her fingertips before ripping off one of the small leaves and popping it in her mouth to chew. "What will we do if they never come?"

"Heh. Me? A lunatic? I'm the sanest man in these here woods," Faolan counters with a half grin of his own. It even sounds like he genuinely means it. No matter how many unhinged incidents of manic laughter or berserk temper he might have shown. "But no, I guess there's not. Any weapons around'd be rusted away. And you'd think the grounders would've used them, right? Not bows and arrows." He glances sideways at her, frowning. "I don't know. Die. I think we'll die. No, or in a few years if we get our act together, we'll just die out. We don't have the resources to survive on Earth even if we hadn't been surrounded by hostiles."

"No resources? Are you kidding?" Evie sits up now and glances around before gesturing to the wooded surroundings with a fling of her right hand. "You have Earth right here all around you. Food, water, timber. If there weren't hostiles, we could be exploring a lot more. Maybe find some wreckage that's sound enough to build upon. Leftover tools, maybe things that could serve as scrap to build into something else. I mean, there's a lot going on with this planet. We're here, and we're not dead. Sun, sky, air that isn't recycled."

"Even before we met the Grounders, we were dying, getting sick and injured without any kind of proper tech to treat it," Faolan says slowly. He fixes Evie with his searching blue eyes. "We were being split between factions, half of us not doing shit to keep us alive or improving on our situation. I might not know lots about Earth Studies, cause I was an idiot and slept through them, but I remember the seasons. Winter, Evie. Without a surplus, we'd be fucked. Current state, we'd never get one. Yeah, this world is fucking perfect, but we're like cave people without Ark tech to back us up."

"We don't need Ark tech to back us up," Evie replies, growing restless and irritated with the conversation. Her happy bubble is going to burst and she's going to lose her shit, no jokes. She reaches out to pluck up a handful of grass and rubs the blades between her fingers. "We need leadership and organization, that's what we need. We could stockpile. We could find a way. We'll get there. Something is going to happen, and we're going to be pushed to doing more than we are now. I don't know what it'll be, but…" Sighing, Evie lets the grass fall from her fingers and then covers her face with her hands. "I don't want to get back to Earth just to become a dead body under Grounder feet. Could've just floated me and spared the hope."

"We do," Faolan says firmly. "We need them, and anyone who thinks we'll have a life without the Ark are fooling themselves. Especially now, now that we know the Grounders are out there." He shakes his head, pushing himself to his feet with a jerky kind of motion. "We need the Guard, we need the techs to build shit, we need the meds to really heal us, with their tabs full of of knowledge and info. We need agro with the know-how of how to put out farms and shit. Apprentices without anything but their memory to build on isn't gonna get us there. We need them. Perhaps, perhaps once we've carved ourselves a slice of this Earth with blood, we'll be able to finally have peace, civilization, a life where the laws don't have to be all about life-or-death. I was hoping we'd be done with that. With the floating, and the lashing, and the Boxing. But now I don't know. War don't allow much room for individual choice."

Evie rises to her feet a split second after Faolan, although it looks more like she jumps up with enough force to launch herself into orbit. In frustration she kicks at her spear on the ground before holding out her arms to each side. "You're right. We're doomed. There's no way we could make it. No way we could bust our asses to survive, to learn from whatever mistakes we make, and keep on going. There is absolutely no fucking point to even bothering. I get it. Ark or die. Thanks for the fucking pep talk." She flips a hand at him dismissively, although it is she who starts walking away further out into the woods rather than back to camp.

"Didn't say that. Didn't say we shouldn't bother. Didn't say give the fuck up. Cowards give up. I'm not ever gonna give up. I'm just saying.." Faolan frowns, especially once she's flipped him off and started walking away. He stands where he is, scowling at her back. "I'm just saying you gotta be realistic. A hundred kids, delinquents? Not the brightest, not the best, just the ones who made a point of not being able to survive on the Ark? We're not the best of the best. Eventually we'd all die out. Even if it was just from growing old while all the kids and mothers died of the simple shit that medicine could fix. Until nobody was there to take care of us, and we'd get weak and die slow and ugly."

Evie gets about ten yards away into the trees before she realizes she's left her jacket laying along a bush. Fuming at the indignity of having to turn around after making a grand exit, she storms red-faced back toward Faolan; she veers off before she gets to him, however, and angrily tugs her jacket free from the grasping bramble. "No, you are wrong. We did what we had to do to survive, even if it meant breaking rules, even if it meant getting busted. We may not be the brightest or the best, but we're getting some of that hands-on experience everyone else on the Ark is only dreaming about. We can learn. Look at the Grounders: they're still here. Yeah, some of us are going to die off. It's a scarier roll of the dice down here, but it is not immediate doom, Faolan. Some. People. Will. Die. But not all of us. And that counts."

"Not fast enough. But if you wanna prove me wrong, go ahead. But a year from now we'll be the fifty if we're lucky. That's what I think." He shrugs again. Since she's picking up her jacket, he is too. At least he doesn't look like he's any kind of lording it over her that she's storming back after she's already made her dramatic stage left. He threads his arms into the leather, shrugging it on. Its a family heirloom, carefully maintained over the years. Already there's scratches on it. "Continued survivability not viable. Not enough population base to build off."

"Adaptation, damn it. It's fucking basic. We will adapt. Continued survivability is viable. We can worry about fucking like rabbits and popping out babies and managing our gene pool later, though. Right now I plan to bolster our shitty supply of meds, and you can mock herblore all you want, but when you still have all your teeth in a year instead of them rotting out of your skull because I made you eat green things, you'll start to realize that humans have the tenacity to make do." Evie shrugs on her own jacket, struggling briefly as her elbow gets caught mid-sleeve and halts her advance. Cursing under her breath, she practically wrenches it over her arms and settles it about her shoulders. "Try not to skewer yourself on a rusty nail and get tetanus. I don't have any plants for that yet."

"Not thinking about it won't change nothing," Faolan says simply. "Unless you want to start breeding up with the Grounders," and the very idea seems to repel him! "Its Arkers. We'll adapt, but without the Ark it won't matter in the long run. Me, I just want the guns, though. Once we get our people back.. I think we should make another run for Mount Weather. Guns. We need guns." So he can kill people. He shrugs, picking up both the spears. "We'll teach them what it means to fuck with us."

The mention of Mount Weather gives Evie pause, and she pats the pockets of her jacket until she pulls out the crinkly, folded map from their derailed foray. It looks about as weathered as the mountain it is supposed to lead to, but the print is still clear enough when she unfolds it noisily. "Mount Weather," she repeats, and her voice is quiet as if she has suddenly decided to switch off her anger. Perhaps she can do that after all. "Well fuck me sideways, Faolan. This is where we can find our goods. You want tech? I bet it has tech. You want guns? I bet it has guns. We really can worry about procreating later." Her cheeks grow a bit pink at thinking about sex, but she powers through it with as much aplomb as she can muster. She shifts awkwardly from foot to foot as the silence lingers in the wake of her words, but her focus is mostly for the map. "We have to try again. We have to go. We know more about what Grounders use to mark their territory. We can be more careful this time."

"Yeah. But not before we get our people back." Because Faolan has not been able to sit on the fact he drove everybody to run, leaving their people behind. "Then we try again. We need the guns. We need the tech. We need the comm systems that Mount Weather'll have.. With Mount Weather we'll make a new tomorrow." A pause, a frown. "That's assuming its not been looted already. If they've been out there all this time?" With a slow shake of his head he starts to head back to camp. Its only when he's a bit further away, he says over his shoulder: "Though why'd you'd wanna think of procreation later is beyond me. Shit. It's the best thing about not being floated."

Evie is left behind to stare at her map, trying very hard to focus on the future plans for raiding the Mt. Weather depot. Her cheeks grow even darker red, however, as a less-than-subtle tribute to the path her mind is actually wandering right now. She flicks her gaze up to Faolan briefly as he walks away, but right now she has absolutely no words.

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