Day 027: Kill Mark
Summary: Doubts weigh on Britt after the battle with the Skaikru.
Date: 6/30/16
Related: Shortly after For the One Hundred.

Day 027 — Indra's War Camp

The campfire crackled, embers drifting up into the night sky.  Having returned to the war camp to find it disbanding, Britt's unit had nonetheless decided to camp there for the night and tend to their wounded.

Britt had breathed a sigh of relief on learning that the bandrona had brokered a truce, but the weight had not completely left her shoulders.  Scores were dead, on both sides, because the truce had come too late.   She ran through the events of the last few days over in her mind.  Was there something more they could have done?  Appealed to Indra first instead of Lexa? Hurried the Skaikru in their selection of bandrona?  Demanded to see the kruheda sooner?  There were no answers - only doubt.  Doubt and guilt.

Her wounds were tended shortly after arriving. She remembered Erson’s strong arms wrapping around her to hold her still while a red-hot dagger brought a white-hot pain to stop the bleeding from her cheek.  As the smell of burned flesh filled her nostrils, she thought of the warriors burned by the Skaikru dropship. Then she passed out.

When she awoke, Erson was still holding her, her head cradled in the crook of one arm.  Blearily, she blinked up at him.  Her left eye didn’t want to open all the way, leaving his face slightly out of focus. A barely-audible mumble of his name drew his attention, and a relieved smile flitted across his face.  

“Drink,” he ordered, bringing a cup to her lips.  “It’ll help take the pain.” She drank greedily, recognizing the bitter taste of their bark tea.  When the cup was empty, she allowed her head to sink back against his shoulder.

“You should stay awake,” Erson warned in his gruff baritone when he saw her close her eyes again.  “That was a bad knock to the head you took.”

“Tell me about it.”  She lifted a hand to rub her temple, wincing. “Feels like my head is trying to turn itself inside out.”

Erson smirked, dipping his ash-streaked face so he could touch his forehead to hers.  He let it linger there, a quietly affectionate gesture. “Next time? Duck.”   

Britt just snorted at the advice.  “I’ll try.”  They stayed that way for a little longer, but then Erson pulled back and helped her to sit up. He kept a hand on her back, a light touch.

There was a shout from the campfire where the other warriors were gathered, and then a bark of laughter. Britt’s face froze when she realized what they were doing, even as Erson explained, “Figured we’d do the kill marks while the knife was hot. You can have yours next, if you want. Nat and I saw you get two cleanly.”  

“Two.” Her voice was a somber whisper.  Two skaikids.  And a third that she and Erson brought down together.  Her feelings were a jumble. Not ashamed, exactly, but nor did she feel the usual satisfaction and pride for having defeated an enemy.

He saw her expression change.  “What’s wrong?”

“They weren’t warriors.” With a slight shake of her head, she gave voice to her doubts.  “Barely Seconds.  Are we taking kill marks for children now?”

Erson scowled.  “Those ‘barely-Seconds’ killed how many of ours, Britt?  They almost killed you.”  He touched her chin, below the gunshot wound, letting his hand rest there a moment before dropping it.  “Our kruheda sent us to war.  They were good kills.  A good battle.”   

He watched her expectantly, and one of the other warriors handed him the glowing blade. “Come on. I’ll do yours, you do mine. Just like old times.”  He smirked at the words, lifting those bushy eyebrows just so.  “I should’ve gotten three, but Nat didn’t see it and you were busy getting your head shot off.  So I’ll settle for a tie. This time.”

With a sigh, she finally relented.  “All right, all right.” Erson had already removed her armor and outer shirt when he tended her ribs earlier, leaving just the camisole she wore beneath.  She tugged the strap to the side, touching a spot on her collarbone  “Here.”

“Not with the others?” Erson knew full well that the rest of her kill marks were on the back of her shoulder.

“No, here.”  Whatever Erson may say, Britt didn’t believe they deserved to be counted the same as the others. Let them stand apart. A reminder. She winced when the hot blade singed her shoulder.  Two quick sizzles - nothing like the searing pain in her face before.   This much she was used to.  Too used to.

When it was done, Erson handed her the blade and pulled his shirt off to expose the row of neatly stacked marks on his chiseled chest.  “Tell me the truth.   You missed all this in Polis, didn’t you?"

She didn't know if he meant the rush of battle or him. Probably the former. She made a face as if to protest, but he could read her better than that. When he grinned knowingly, she admitted, “Maybe a little. Some things I didn’t miss.”  She readied the knife to deliver his marks.  

Two more kids, dead for the sake of a few hours’ delay.  

What a damn waste.

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