Day 053: Words Before The Mountain
Summary: Britt and Kai talk on the eve of the first battle with the Mountain, about men and children, love and retirement.
Date: Day Month Year
Related: Tactical Value, Crime and Punishment, Strange Friends and Tactics and Honor.
Britt Kai 

The Wilderness — Trikru camp
The spot of woods chosen by the Trikru and Skaikru commando teams before entering the mountain for 'phase one' of the Mountain's defeat.
Day 53

Kai didn't sign up for guard duty, she's not entirely stupid. For all that despite her injuries she came because hell was going to freeze over before the Mountain was taken down without her, the Second at least made an attempt at sleep, and got some for a while. But in the dark of the night she can be found in the warm and mostly silent darkness with her sword across her lap, some distance from sleepers simply because she's taking the opportunity to check the edge of her weapon and buff the burrs out of it, humming only barely audibly under her breath, her eyes roaming the area loosely defined as 'outside' the camp.

Britt did take a turn on watch, and then lingered for a bit when her relief arrived. The relief was one of the younger Tondc warriors, and though he did an admirable job of concealing his nerves, Britt stayed and kept him company for a bit with some quiet conversation. Now, though, she's on her way back to her bedroll. She pauses when she spies Kai over there, and adjusts her path to approach the younger woman. "Can't sleep?" she says in soft greeting.

Kai turns her head carefully Britt's way before dipping it with a smile lost in the shadows,"Don't usually, you're welcome to some of my water if you'd like.." she nudges her canteen,"afraid I didn't pack anything stronger though." the swords extended so she can examine it in the moonlight, carefully smoothing her fingers not along the direct edge but just inside of it to check for further nicks,"You either?"

"Probably best you don't have anything stronger," Britt muses wryly. She doesn't immediately take up the offer of the canteen though. Not thirsty, apparently. She does, however, take the offer as an invitation to stay for a bit, and sits down nearby. She stretches out her legs with a mild wince, and then watches the Second. "Don't usually sleep?" That's an odd remark. "I just came off watch, but no - I usually can't sleep before a battle either. How are you feeling?"

"That was the thought, yes." Kai agrees with a soft laugh, grey eyes sliding over to the other warrior as she turns the blade over to examine the backside of the edge in the machete style blade with a critical eye,"Nah, haven't slept the night for.. well, it feels like forever, at least. I'm used to it." she collects the stone again to carefully scrape it along the edge with a small nod,"I didn't pick a rotation this time.. some of the Tondc warriors don't think I could do it anyways." which in and of itself is a source of wry amusement to her at this point,"This is.. normal for me. Battle or no battle.. sometimes I think I sleep better afterwards." she glances Britt's way,"I'll be fine. I wont lie and say I'm one hundred percent, but I wont lag behind, I promise." she pauses,"Wren and I are going to go with the Skaikru group.. mostly because those kids don't know that the Skaikru and Trikru are at peace now, and familiar faces might at least help forestall a panic."

"I have a hard time recalling the last time I slept an entire night," Britt purses her lips thoughtfully as if trying, then shakes her head when she realizes she honestly can't. "I have no fear of you lagging. I expect you would have to be missing a few limbs before it would have kept you back from this fight." One might say the same about the archer with the lingering limp. She nods at the last. "Yes, I'd heard. That's wise, but… I won't pretend I didn't wish you two were with my group. And Erson - he's going with the other team. I know you can all take care of yourselves, but…" She offers a wan smile, echoing the words she'd spoken about why she'd gone with Erson to skaigeda. "I prefer to be there to make sure."

Britt pauses, then adds. "Your Leo is still coming with us, I think. I will watch out for him."

Kai chuckles softly,"So we have that in common, then." her eyes slide Britt's way,"It was.." she pauses, clearly mulling it over,"Huh. The night before I got arrested. I want to say." there's a slight shrug of her shoulders as she wipes a cloth along the blade and then chases it with a cloth,"I have the feeling the same could be said of you. And yes, I wish I was going with the rest of you, too, but I have faith in my kru, our usual warband, clandestine as it is, are all professionals I trust. As long as they are with you I am certain we shall see one another again this side of green Eden." she utters with the certainty of youth,"It's best when we can, I think, best to work with people that you know, but this..? I heard them saying that the entire kongeda is coming. I.. the kruheda's war camp was.. impressive.. to me.. I'm not sure I can wrap my head about the combined might of the coalition being brought to bear here." she shakes her head slowly,"But we will keep an eye out for Erson, and thank you for keeping an eye out on Leo. He's.. more comfortable with his skai-weapons still, but at least he seems to understand what it is like here, now."

"He's going with the other team," Britt clarifies. "For the fog. Much as we'd rather fight together, the teams are small enough that it made more sense to have one on each." For they are both skilled archers in their own right. "And yes, of course you're right - the kru looks after its own, friends or not." She does not echo Kai's confident words about seeing each other again, but nor does she refute them. Not aloud, anyway. Only a brief tightening of her lips, possibly lost to the darkness, betrays her doubts. It is easier to speak about Leo, and she nods slightly. "He is the first Skaikru since you three at the kruheda's camp that I don't feel compelled to smack every time we speak, so… that is a welcome change."

Kai ahhs softly with a nod of her head,"Archers are better for silence.. rifles can be useful but.. not stealthy at all." her gaze shift's Britt's way briefly and then back to her blade,"Opportunities multiply as they are seized. These are some of the words that I remember from my favorite author, Sun Tzu.. he was a general of a very great army a very, very long time ago. Granted, he also advised if you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. We do not know the Mountain terribly well.. and I have no doubt that tomorrow's battle is going to be hard fought and harder won.. but I do believe that this is an opportunity that we must seize." she opines softly with a small smile,"He's smart. He's the son my dad wishes he'd had. A good fit for his legacy, really. I used to resent him for that, but.. not anymore. He's got his place, and I've found mine."

"You sound like a war leader," Britt says, a genuine if sad smile touching her lips as she watches the younger woman. "I have no idea who your father wished you to be, but he is a fool if he didn't see your strength." Britt is not one to gush, so the compliment is delivered in a matter-of-fact sort of way. "I know there are many who do not yet accept you, but give them time. You have already proved your worth to some of us."

"Military history and tactics were one of the few things my father and I liked to talk about." Kai chuckles, checking her blade again before sliding it back into its sheathe and folding up her cloth, whetstone and the small amount of oil she'd had Eli sneak for her,"He saw it as stubbornness and disrespect. But thank you. It does not feel as if it has only been a month.. but.. it has been. The Arkkru have now been on the Ground as long as skaigeda was by itself.. though I dare say they have had an easier time of it."

"Indeed. They have been the beneficiaries of your hard-won peace," Britt agrees. She leans back against a tree, letting out a soft sigh. "Things change so quickly sometimes. A month ago I was in the capital, just a teacher. Now… we're on the eve of the most important battle of my lifetime. I do not know how many of us will return from this, but… I would not choose to be anywhere else."

Kai grunts,"I was pretty sure we were dead, when we ran the lines. But I was more sure we were dead if we didn't." she confesses, then smiles as she leans carefully back herself and collects her canteen,"A teacher? What were you teaching? And which is the capital, anyways? Tondc?" she takes a drink before glancing in the direction of the mountain,"Will the numbers lost tomorrow be greater than another village destroyed? Another generation of people stolen? That's.. what I try to think about.. we can't stop all the deaths.. I couldn't at skaigeda.. we can't here.. but what will the cost paid purchase? We succeed, we destroy the Mountain so it can no longer threaten the kru and it will be worth it. That is what I believe. That's why I choose to be here. Prolonged war benefits no nation, and this, what we do here? Can end a war that has been going on longer than I've been alive. To have any part in that is something that will stay with me for life, and is vastly eclipsed by what this means for you, I'm sure."

"I taught archery, mainly, in Polis. General warfare, as well. Polis is the capital of the Coalition, where the Commander lives. Tondc is the Trikru capital, though I have spent some time there as well." She nods a bit at the rest of the explanation. "Yes, well, often the best plan is simply the one with the least chance of death, even if that chance is still high," Britt reasons. "Having a chance to stop the Mountain is worth the risk." She falls quiet for a few moments, debating whether to say more, but finally ventures, "It is nights like these that make me both regret having no family to carry on after me, and being glad that I have none that would mourn too keenly."

Kai nods in the vague direction of her bedroll,"I still suck at a bow.. and with my fingers the way they are at the moment not sure how long I can even hold it.. but there's an elegance to it that there isn't to rifles.. I know that your arrows have helped keep my ass alive more than once." she has no embarrassment in acknowledging,"Perhaps some day I shall be able to visit Polis.. will you be returning there? After everything's.. settled?" she dips the hand with the canteen in the archer's direction by way of acknowledgment,"That was my thought at the time, yeh. And your loss would be felt keenly to me, Britt. And Erson, I'm sure. Family isn't always just about who is blood, I'm learning from the kru. At least, it's not about blood for me. I still don't know if I'll end up having children, Eli's started asking around about the difference between houmon and niron and what would happen if Trikru and Skaikru went to war again. Which, I admit.. I try not to think about much because I know where my duty is, but I also know there's a lot in the Skaikru that I couldn't choose to shoot."

"Well, I would be glad to teach you if you like." If they survive, but Britt leaves that bit unsaid. "A bow is good for hunting, at least, and for distance, even if it is not your preferred weapon." Britt offers another of those sad smiles when Kai speaks of mourning her. "As I would mourn you, Kai. But it is one thing to lose a clansman, a friend - that is the warrior's life. With family, it is different. And I agree - family does not have to be blood, but it is more than clan." At least, it is to Britt. The thought of war with the Skaikru causes her to frown a touch. "I understand. And I hope it never comes to war again, with the Skaikru." Only then does she finally get around to answering the earlier question. "I don't know what I'll do after this. Not back to Polis, though. I was glad to leave there. Sometimes I think…" She glances over at the sleeping warriors. "I think of maybe going to Tondc, with him. Sometimes it seems like it would be nice, to settle down. Then other times the idea terrifies me." She lets out a soft sigh at the reluctant admission.

"Benning has shown me a few things, but I find it generally unwise to turn down tutelage." Kai smiles,"Though of course I shall have to check with my First and.. well, it will depend on many things, I suppose. Oxfor has said that Coesbur will be rebuilt, and Wren belongs to Coesbur, so I.. guess.. that means I do, too?" she gets distracted though and shakes her head,"In truth I.. felt less for knowledge of my father's death than I did for the deaths of those at skaigeda. But perhaps that is just me. Tondc isn't so far from Coesbur, though, not by horse. How far is Polis? I never could quite work out distances on Bruns' maps."

"Yes, you go with your First, so that effectively makes Coesbur your village until you are released. Coesbur is not my village, but I have always visited my friend Ibem and her family. So if they return, I'm sure our paths will cross. And when I say family is not just blood, I think it goes both ways. Sometimes there are those who become closer than those you are tied to by blood." The question about Polis causes her to press her lips thoughtfully. "It is about the same as from Tondc to Coesbur, more or less, just in a different direction. It is very different from Tondc. Much bigger."

Kai gives a slight nod of her head,"That was.. the impression I got." she chuckles quietly,"But that's good. I will miss our talks otherwise." she takes a sip from her canteen and peers out into the darkness with a slight nod of her head,"I should like to see the whole of Trikru lands, after I am released. It.. is still hard to grasp in some ways just how monumentally.. large.. the Earth truly is. And Polis..?" she shakes her head,"Tondc was intimidatingly huge when I saw it.. while the Ark had probably double it's number in people, total.. it was.. you really didn't get to see all of it at once like you do with a city, in some ways.. it was.. easier to handle. I prefer Tondc, though. The Ark just makes me think of.. being trapped, now."

"Funny, that's how I felt in Polis. Trapped. So many people, everywhere." Britt pauses, then admits, "I don't really have a village any more. It's been ages since I've been to the place I grew up. Not since my father died. I scarcely know anyone there any more. Tondc, Coesbur - I stop by once every year or three to visit Ibem and Erson, but I would not call them home. There is much to see, though. Not just Trikru lands, but the Coalition beyond. Many places I've never been. Sev has, though - the healer. He has many tales of the other clans."

"Really?" Kai can't help but ask in surprise before her expression sobers again with a dip of her head,"I could spend my entire lifetime traveling and not see the entirety of things, I think. If Polis was too many people, maybe somewhere smaller? I mean.. I know it's not my place to ask or offer, but wherever I make my home you'll always be welcome there. Which in and of itself should be.. interesting. I've never tried to build a home before. In the Ark once you're old enough you're assigned empty quarters usually close to wherever your job is and it doesn't change without a lot of string pulling or in the instance of people getting married.. all of which was built with the Ark itself, so.. no building needed."

"Likely you could. Sev has seen more than anyone I know, and even he has not seen everything." Britt smiles at the offer - not sad, this time, for a change. "Thank you, Kai. That means a great deal to me. Perhaps you and Elias will make a place for yourselves when they rebuild Coesbur. You needn't do it on your own, you know," she mentions off-hand since Kai seems to be talking about the building part itself. "The makers help. And there is always the warrior barracks, in the mean time."

"That at least means that there will always be something new to see." Kai laughs before her head dips,"Perhaps. He has duties to the Skaikru.. and seems to find some of our ways objectionable. Though there are those that are inside the Mountain that know about plants, he's their most knowledgeable one, that's why they listen to him about the gardens and the hothouse.. he has a great responsibility to them to see that they don't starve through the winter in the least. I have no doubt he will help me, but it will only be.. part time.. our home, between our duties." there's an accepting shrug of her shoulders, it doesn't bother her overly,"But many years from now when you and Erson are old and grey you can come live with me." there's a sly smile as she glances the archers way,"In which case I will have to make sure to have children.. if only for there to be people to torment you endlessly." looking up really doesn't achieve a look of innocence at all given the smirk her smile broadens in to,"Too many don't like me to sleep in the barracks, 's why I didn't go by there in Tondc unless I had to. Maybe that will change, but even in the Healing House I kept expecting someone was going to stab me."

Britt nods slightly when Kai explains about Elias' duties. "He will have an important job, then. I'm sure it will be hard for him, walking between two worlds like that. Hopefully in time it will get easier. If the barracks is uncomfortable and Wren's family has no room -" She figures he has first dibs, being her First, "I am sure you could stay with Ibem. She is like a sister to me, and I know she would do this." That is, if Britt asked her to. Perhaps not something she would have volunteered on her own, but they're tight enough that Britt is comfortable speaking for her. She does chuckle good-naturedly at the 'old and grey' bit. "I will look forward to being tormented, then. I am very good at playing aunt to other peoples' children." Just ask Veks! "As for Erson…" Her eyes drift toward the sleeping warriors once more. "I don't know what the future holds for us." Even beyond assuming they live past tomorrow. "He asked me once, to come and live with him in Tondc, but that was a long time ago. He is not one to sit away pining, so … I know there have been others. For both of us. Now I fear perhaps I've missed my chance. Waited too long to come to my senses."

"That's why he chose to stay behind when I left." Kai offers with a sigh,"He knew that's where his duty was. Most of the farmers were on Agro, and he has the most practical experience outside of those still in the Mountain." there's that stiff kind of shrug again,"He needs a horse if he is to travel, right now he's mostly stuck at Alpha, but maybe that will change, and if he has one, then I don't have to travel to him all the time." which would make her happy at least,"As to where.. for now, I believe my duty will be to help Wren to build a home for his family. And likely I will continue to share a room with Starling like I was in Tondc. I'm not overly concerned, honestly.. but thank you." she dips her head,"Well, it is settled then. Even if just you, when you are old and grey you shall come and live with me, and no doubt rule the house like Peake does hers. Yes? And I saw him at the tunnels.. he still cares for you. I don't think you've missed your chance."

"Yes, I'm sure that will be easier on you, not having to go back there all the time." She knows it's not Kai's favorite place for the world. She nods slightly at the mention of Starling. "That is a good place for you, with Peake and her family." The talk of ruling the house gets a little chuckle, but then she looks touched. "Thank you, Kai. Truly." The younger woman gets a fond smile. As for the comment about Erson, she says, "Perhaps. I hope so anyway." And it also makes her think that there are perhaps things that should be said to a certain dark-haired archer, since she might not get another chance. "You have cheered me quite a bit tonight - that is a rare gift on the eve of a battle. I should go, though." Britt rises, then, giving her knee a moment to settle before putting weight on it.

Kai shrugs her shoulders,"If it's bad for me.. it's worse for Gideon in some ways, I'm sure. I just.." she expels her breath,"I'm not even supposed to verbally respond, when they insult me or the kru.. and I try, but it's hard. It's just easier and better for diplomacy if I stay away from them. Cass already tried to take a swing at me and if it wasn't for the Sergeant I'd have wound up beating her ass." it's dismissed with a curt gesture of her hand though, in favor of reaching over to squeeze Britt's arm briefly,"I should get some sleep, and so should you. Take care Britt, I'll see you tomorrow night, if not sooner."

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