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Old 02-15-2019, 06:51 AM   #426
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"You are wrong," Moray replies with calm certainty, and instead addresses Kara's quip. "Plato. Greek philosopher that lived twenty-six centuries ago. The Cave is his most famous allegory, where he describes humanity as standing in a cave with a fire behind them, facing a wall and seeing only the movement of shadows - which to them, is the sum of reality. The philospher is he who turns to face the fire, and sees light; then, his struggle is to describe it to those who never witnessed it."

He shrugs. "There are further subtleties to the allegory proper, but that is the swift summary thereof."

His voice is didactic, matter-of-fact, but the resonant baritone of his voice makes it not completely intolerable. The dry vocabulary fades as he falls silent. Moray blinks once, glances at Gibson, and then turns back to Kara completely. "Anything you want to learn," he says, "I will teach you."

It could definitely come off as condescending, but he's too still for it to be disdain. His knowledge is the only thing he's kept to himself all his years as a mercenary, and the only gift he can give Kara besides the violent and horrible deaths of her enemies. He'd rather not have Kara associate him with that, for all his predilections. If she can try to be something better - so can he.

Gibson, for all Jonah cares, is completely invisible.
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Old 02-15-2019, 06:39 PM   #427
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Kara zeroes in on his detailed correction, that once rare, sole and undivided attention on the words. Jonah, as usual, captures it with ease. And often.

He blinks and so does Kara-before an answering smile plays at the edges of the pretty woman lips, even as she considers the new clearer picture.

So it was a -pretend- cave? This seemed different than the Bible story. That had a lesson to its meaning, a moral. This story was a comparison or something. A thought experiment? How WOULD you describe things to people who thought shadows were the real deal?

"Anything you want to learn, I will teach you."

"Yeah?" Kara goes soft, losing the amusement for mild surprise and then uncertainty, that same innocent sort of hopefulness she'd had when he had offered to read to her.

Gibson had almost made a crack about his offer being a dangerous one-Kara had pumped her for every scrap of story she could pry out of her until she'd finally run dry-but something about the scene kills it in her throat and leaves her feeling nostalgic.

It's the softest she's ever seen the redhead look or sound, the cocky arrogance worn away. The older woman suddenly felt like she was intruding. The two kids looked to have found that rare and special something, and she's glad for it. Kara was a nutball, but Jim had been one too.

"These furry deserters can stay. Send either caps or a meat caravan through when you can. I don't want anyone going hungry, and I know you don't either." She said as she rose to her feet with effort, starting in towards the service station side door. "They stay, I'll look after 'em. There are no bad dogs."

"Thanks Lady." Kara says without looking at her, slipping out of her jacket as she slid off the stack of tires. Just that tank top with the painted on smiley face, slightly askew and perfectly in line with the rest of her mismatched outfit, the half pantlegged half shorts pair of pants, the single metal kneepad and torn thigh high stocking.

And with a nod and a final glance between the pair, the old woman went inside to settle back in with her dogs and cherished memories.

"You're offerin' to try'n describe the light and the fire, but all I got in trade are stories-some ain't even lies, but still."

She looked out into the night a moment, thinking it over. "Not sayin' I wouldn't take you up on it, just I don't have anything to mirror it with, ya know?"
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Old 02-16-2019, 10:36 PM   #428
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Moray turns and regards Gibson with eyebrows raised. He grants her a nod. "Thank you," he says, but that's the limit of the attention he grants her. His focus is elsewhere.

For now, he goes over to a fire pit located just past the fence line, and starts it going with some flint he pulls out of a waist pouch. He sets out their sleeping bag (singular, but plus-sized), and seats himself beside Kara, glancing around at the assortment of dogs they'd brought with them. Most of them have faded into the scrapyard in small groups to explore the place, and Hrolf himself is gnawing on a bone rather conspicuously taken from a local dog bowl. None of the other canines look like they intend to raise a bother about it, either.

Kara, though.

Jonah huffs a breath, and reaches an arm around Kara's shoulders in a one-armed embrace. He still smells like leather and gun oil, all hard underneath the skin from bone and muscle, but where their skin touches the tension melts out of him.

"I had nothing I treasured except my name and my word," he says, a little slow, as he feels out sentiments that until very recently Jonah had never bothered to acquaint himself with. There was no use in it. "If the rest of it is worth something now - it is because of you, and in knowing you. I would have shot things and been shot, nothing else, for the rest of my duration and called it a fair exchange."

Jonah's shoulders raise and lower. "I have other things, now. But that's because someone saw something worth enough in me to reach out."
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:34 AM   #429
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"I have other things, now. But that's because someone saw something worth enough in me to reach out."

“You’re like...one of those geodes.” It’s a thought she comes to again and again, but she hadn’t told him that. She vaguely recalls calling him a ‘secret guy under there’ when drunk, but things said while drunk aren’t the same as sober, at all. Her face feels a little warm but suddenly she has to tell him, because for all that he loves and treasures her, the bits of almost-she doesn’t know, fancy thoughts and poetry-she just isn’t as thoughtful. She had wanted to hold him so she had. She had felt warm and caring so she embraced it, embraced him. She had somehow gotten tangled up in soft she’d never thought she’d have any interest in, feeling things new and fresh and fiercely-and she can’t believe she ever thought him boring, or had lived for so long to get a rise out of him out of antagonistic feelings.

She just felt things and acted on them same as always, but somehow that doesn’t feel like enough.

Alive with all her wiry, buoyant energy, Kara straightens from his one armed embrace and heads back to her jacket of all things, bringing it over and plopping right back down beside him, looking for something in one of the many pockets-before giving up, sliding it up again-and finding it a lot faster that way, tucked in it’s own pocket with some other odds and ends that, honestly-made no sense for the mouthy merc to be carrying around on her person like that. “Like this-”

She withdraws a piece of rock hardly bigger than a prewar fifty cent piece and leans back into him to catch some of the light of the fire, show him the sparkling purplish and blue crystals in the curved indent of a craggly piece of stone. She glances up at his face, a slanted grin. “You know? And I love it. I love you. You’re the best score I ever landed, and I didn’t have to trick ya or nothing.”

Kara’s happy, and talking a little fast-but there’s also some kind of anxiety there, of a sort.

“And! And-” Vibrant eyes flick away, then back down to the piece of stone as her thoughts tumble over each other. “...well. Before, I was having a good time, alright? Plenty good. And that was it. I escaped, I came West, and I lived it up. Borrowed time. Stolen time. Time I wasn’t supposed to have.”

She wavers, because she didn’t exactly have the full scope of this settled, yet. “It was all a joke. Just a big joke, and nothing really fucking mattered. People don’t, well, they didn’t-” Shit, did she anymore? “-get that. How hilariously pointless it was.” Is? “I got in on it early, you know, with the raiders.”

She turns the rock in her fingers, silent.

“...so even what happened in Good Springs, it was funny. It was funny, perfectly hilarious that I was finally cashing out. Not cause of anything I did really, not cause a joke went bad or someone had finally gotten fed up-but because of plain dumb luck. Same shitty hand that red headed bimbo mother of mine dealt when she sold Baby Kara to some Raiders. The beat down in the bar, the graveyard, stupid Benny and his shiny gun-I wasn’t scared. I’m never fuckin’ scared. I laughed. I’m crazy. I am in on, was in on, the joke.”

A faint curve to her lips, and then she glanced back up at him. “An’ then I thought of you.” Yeah. She'd been afraid. She's not going to cop to it-but she'd been afraid, as real as anything she'd ever felt before in her life. It wasn't the first time she'd faced down death or had a close call-far from it! But it was the first time she'd felt that cold.

“And it wasn’t so funny, anymore. The stolen time, the trip west, the escape-all that just didn’t feel like enough.” She drops her eyes back to the rock. Quietly, soft, in the voice that never lies, she finishes. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, now. I didn’t figure on, ya’know-anything beyond tomorrow.”
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Old 02-18-2019, 05:35 AM   #430
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Jonah watches patiently as Kara flounders through her thoughts, and a smile carves through his stony face. It's likely he's the only person that gets to see this side of her - and she says he's secret, with how much she fights to keep anyone from guessing even the slightest bit of how much she cares, intrinsically and integrally?

Well, maybe they're both right. Maybe people, all people, have to have their defenses worn away before you can see who they really are, or drop those walls themselves.

He doesn't stop smiling as she continues, though it does dim, some. Jonah understands more than she might understand, though humor was never his coping mechanism. He had become the perfect vessel of annihilation: death had flowed through him and out his hands so cleanly it had left him hollow and bare, but alive. She had just surrendered all her tomorrows instead, along with hope.

His big hands enclose hers, around the rock she'd secreted away, and he leans in, slow and easy. His nose brushes against hers, and then their foreheads settle against one another, and he just breathes, united and in time with Kara. He has to hunch over a little to do it, she being so much shorter, but -

This matters.

"I don't want you to be afraid," Jonah says, finally. "Whatever you need to fight for what you want, use it. But come back to me at the end of it."

His head tilts the slightest bit, and his lips brush against Kara's before he shifts back into that strange, intimate connection, foreheads and noses touching. "I love you. And I want you with me. Whatever it is you want, you have a place to stay with me, until you decide to go."
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:43 PM   #431
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Her large blue eyes peer back into his deep green ones, feeling validated before he even says anything. And when he does speak, it's love and it's softness and it's -belonging- he offers. For free. No binds, no restraints, nothing. If she has to go off and do whatever, she can. And he'd be waiting until she didn't want him to be anymore.

Which was never going to happen.

"Go?" She breathes with laughter as she slips a hand free to touch his face, forehead to his forehead, a nuzzle of his nose. Close and sincere and hers. She half climbs into his lap to press a kiss to his mouth, then his cheekbone, his ear, his jaw-a flurry of them before she's again right where he'd started them.

"I ain't going nowhere. Whatever time I can beg, borrow an' steal, I want to spend it with you.". They've made so many affirmations-but she means them all, and she treasures his promises and declarations, locks them up tight and safe in the warmest part of her heart. Her eyes are hot and this was the part where somebody else might've cried.

Hell-she IS going to cry. Kara suddenly draws back with a curse, tugging the collar of her tank top up to rub furiously at her eyes, the shirt untucking itself and her midriff exposed. "God dammit, d-don't you go telling anybody-". She's a mixture of childishly stubborn and ruefully mirthful. "Shit-"

Deep breaths Kara, jeez. "I jus' never belonged anywhere before. S'nice!"
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:32 AM   #432
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Kara climbs on top of him, almost falling into his lap, and for once Jonah lets himself just accept the affection - she'd had to before, and it's a hard thing to join with his implacable, stony nature. He tries, though, and in turn his arms settle around her slim waist and draw Kara fully onto his lap, his legs crossing beneath them. He noses into that fiery hair and takes a deep breath.

They repeat their vows so often, right now, but it makes sense. He wants her to know, completely and thoroughly, that she has a home and someone that loves her. No right words will scrub away her calluses in one sweep. He has to work over time, to peel back the armor and find the woman underneath.

When she starts tearing up, it startles a brief chuckle out of Jonah, and he ducks his head to nuzzle her tears away, his lips touching her cheek. "Never," he says. "This part of you is only for me."

God's truth. Jonah doesn't share with anyone. This secret heart at the center of Kara is only for him.

He plants another kiss on her lips, this time, light and loving. "I don't have the books on me, at the moment. Didn't want to damage them. We'll get started when we get back home. For now, let's get some rest. We've got a long way to go in the morning."
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Old 02-20-2019, 08:46 AM   #433
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“Too good of blackmail otherwise-” Kara agrees, catching her breath-mostly. “An’ I don’t wanna be anybody else’s.” Nope.

She exhales and cuddles in close, nodding about the books. So once they’re done palling around out here, she’d get some learnin’ in, they get home. She’d make fun of the idea-Crazy Kara, actually sticking around to learn a thing or two about long dead guys and their thinking caves-but she’s looking forward to it, too touched and too curious to fire off a flippant crack. Not for Jonah. No need.

“We've got a long way to go in the morning."

“Yeah...but I always liked hoofing it. We’ll have a good time.” The last part sounded like a promise-and maybe a bit of mischief. In the absence of it, Kara found her own fun-and more than her fair share of trouble and hijinks.

~*~

The blue heelers remained grouped up and wary of the ex Legionnaires-but not aggressive, and Kara supposed that was a start-she’d spent a lot of time with every single one of the dogs, a group send off not enough, apparently.

“They’ll get along great.” She assures Old Lady Gibson, rinsing her hands off at the creaking pump jack.

“So long as they don’t eat each other.” The old woman said without concern, working on some kind of whatsit over there-back to the proceedings. She wasn’t big on fanfare or long goodbyes-and she fully expected Kara to pop up again, probably at an inconvenient time and with junkfood for the ever growing pack of junkyard dogs.

“Nope, these are good pups.” Kara asserts confidently, slinging her backpack onto her shoulders and giving Hrolf a nod towards the gate. The four that’d been sitting near him moved to their feet to follow, but Kara ushered them back down. “No, no, you fellas stay. Staaaay. Stay.” They sit back down, more because of her hand motions than anything, Kara thinks. “Make a go of it here with Lady. I’ll be back to visit. With snacks!” She promises in another stage whisper.

Kara.” Gibson warns with a disapproving glance back-only to catch a slashed grin and Kara’s bright eyed amusement.

Still, the four sat back down, still watching her. Aw. She feels like some kind of monster-but it’s a junkyard! All dogs like junkyards. Lots of smells, and they could eat anybody that came to steal stuff. Lady would take good care of them. She loved dogs almost as much as she loved dogs.

“You boys be good!” Kara calls as they gained more distance, walking backwards per usual, waving with her entire arm. “Build a robot ya get bored!” Several of the scruffy animals meandered through the gate-but then sat back down, still watching the pair.

Kara’s waving hand drops to the back of her neck, turning on her heel to saunter along beside Jonah, quiet a moment. “It’s a good place for dogs.” She says. “Like, ten outta ten in junkyards, just sayin’.”
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Old 03-07-2019, 02:46 AM   #434
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Jonah watches the sendoff with invisible amusement. The only way to really tell unless you know his sense of humor is how flat the corners of his mouth get, and the little vibration in his chest. He fights smiles on instinct, and doing something stupid right after is the quickest way to provoke him into open laughter, or at least a chuckle. "It figures your only fans would have paws."

Comfortably, he loops an arm around Kara's waist and pulls her beside him with a loose hug, and then sets off at a trot for the horizon, and past that, Camp MacCarran.

~*~

The last time Moray'd swept through, it had been for the Lakelurk cleaning, which meant he was ahead of schedule. The guard patrols passing bu flag them down and give Kara the eyeball, but the bigger man they just wave through with hardly so much as a second glance. Their reputations, evidently, precede them. After the second patrol, Moray, now starting to visibly show irritation, glances at Kara. "You do something particularly spectacular this time? Put whistles in all the tailpipes or something?"

He's not really offended, but it's nice to see that here at least people get that she's a troublemaker and not a serious agent of evil or something. He's more worried by the faces he doesn't see; all the troopers are fresh-faced and young, and none of them are anyone he remembers. It could mean that they're cycling troops through the homeland for training, but it's vastly more likely that they just died.

"Lot of kids out here," he says to Kara, low, as they approach the warehouse where the camp authority hangs out in. "No one I recognize as a trooper. And they've got sandbags right up to the ruins."

That's two blocks closer than he remembers. Another bad sign. Between this and Nipton, it's starting to look like the NCR doesn't have as firm a grip on the situation as he'd like. That said, Nipton was wrecked by just over a dozen guys, which would a pain in the ass to track down across the whole Mojave. On the whole, he doesn't appreciate any part of the information coming across right now. He can even see Fiend graffiti, and it hasn't been cleaned off yet.

"Might be worth our time to go clean a few Fiends out," he says.
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:18 PM   #435
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Kara’s Caribbean blue eyes flick to him in a sly side glance, that familiar cocky smirk. “You sayin’ you’re a werewolf or something, Jonah?”

The smirk melts into a happy slanted smile when he pulls her in-and then a laugh as he starts off on a trot, following after him happily, Hrolf peeling in at his usual lope. She always liked hoofing it across the various trails, reaches, and stretches of desert of the Mojave. But with Jonah’s company, it was that much more enjoyable-and she’d never turn down a scruffy fur baby like Hrolf.

~*~

Kara’s her unbearable charming self, breezing through the patrol encounters without a care in the world. Her typical, lazy but pepped saunter, her chin up, her eyes bright and that cocky, ever amused smirk on her lips- as if she owned the place, had every right to be here.

Which in her mind, she absolutely did. Kara felt she had a right to be anywhere she wanted to be, whenever she wanted to be there-and if you couldn’t keep her out, well that was just on you.

"You do something particularly spectacular this time? Put whistles in all the tailpipes or something?"

“Not whistles-bubble guns.” Kara visibly brightens at the memory of her last prank, unbothered. “Though now that you mention it, harmonicas would have been hilarious, too.”

"Lots of kids out here. No one I recognize as a trooper. And they've got sandbags right up to the ruins."

Kara’s eyes flick to the indicated sandbags. Jonah’s right-that is a lot closer than she remembers. Were they using men that deep, or were they just being pushed back that far? It’s not the safest of areas, not for NCR troops.

"Might be worth our time to go clean a few Fiends out,"

“Hm.” Kara hums behind her lips, distracted seeming as she turns her head to look back towards where they had come. “Maybe.” But she doesn’t sound all that interested.

She knows some of those guys sure, but as a whole-the Fiends are not her favorite people. Drugged up crazies, the most vicious raiders she’d ever heard of-or seen, frankly. She’s both heard stories and seen the results of their internal skirmishes-it’s never pretty. And the ones out in the ruins-hell, half the reason they were there was cause they were too mean for the vault. ‘Cept MotorHead’s lieutenants, anyway.

Delphi had been looking for her, once. She hadn’t gone to see him. She didn’t care what he was looking for or what sort of job he had-it just sounded like a good way to get murdered. Honestly, when she DID venture through the ruins, she usually did it with a stealth boy.

Violet was alright, but that honestly had more to do with her dogs than anything.

Meh, you never knew what you were going to get with those guys. Maybe one day they recognize her for who she is, maybe the next they gut her in a drug fueled rage-no thanks. Besides. They deal in things Kara doesn’t like, and there’s a reason she hadn’t wanted to be a raider, back east.

“Well it must be my lucky day.” A woman in a red beret and shades says with a whistle. Kara glances over, eyes narrowing a fraction-and then she saunters on over, because of course she does. The 1st Recon soldier makes a show of looking Kara up and down as she approaches, particularly the stocking’d leg and bare expanse of thigh. “Girl... you are some grade-A poon, anybody ever tell you that?”

“People wanting to get into my pants, sure.” Kara’s crass as hell and a natural born tease. Why she was amusing herself with this when they’re on their way to see Dhatari was anybody’s guess, though.

The corporal laughs, tongue caught between her teeth for a moment. “You and me at Gomorrah, rolled up in those silk sheets? I got leave coming up in a bit...”

“If I was on the market, maybe.” Kara grin is salacious, equally amused. “I’m Kara, this is Moray, we’re kicking ass and taking names. I ain’t ever seen you around before. What’s your name?”

“Corporal Betsy, sweets.” She glances to Moray but focuses back on Kara again, a sigh. “Figures, the hot ones are always attached.” She shrugs but doesn’t dim in aggressive come ons. “You feeling like extra curricular activities, you’ll know where to find me.”

“Snrk, sure.” Flirting concluded, Kara goes for what she was really after-information. “You seeing a lot of action lately?”

“Not unless you count the Fiends as serious. Gorobets keeps us inside the fence, most of the time. Doesn't matter to me, I just shoot bad guys. Sooner or later they’ll move us out to the Dam, though. That’s when the shit gets nasty.”

“Yeah?”

“Yep.” Corporal Betsy turns a little more serious, no longer oogling after Kara. “Legion fights to win. And they’re smart...hell of a lot smarter than these crazy Fiends. Hell, we got a centurion in jail right now, refusing to talk to anybody. But at least I don’t feel bad about shooting Legion boys.”

Kara doesn’t say anything, and doesn’t have to-Corporal Betsy keeps talking, seemingly needing to unload about...something.

“Fiends, on the other hand...sometimes I get some pangs of conscience. Not often, but sometimes.”

“S’yer job, ain’t it?”

“I guess. Some cute little junkie bitch, so fucked up she doesn’t even know she’s the bad guy. And I’ve got to headshot her. Makes me think….” Betsy trails off, then shakes herself and hardens back up. “Might just be sex though. I see some cute little number, and I’d rather get in her pants. So maybe I’m a stone-cold bitch, after all-there’s plenty of things-and people-to hate in the Fiends. We got no end of trouble from ‘em, right now.”

“We all got a right to think while we earn our keep.” Kara says with a shrug. “I gotta go, but I’ll see you around, Betsy.”

“You don’t have to leave, girl. Just remember my offer.” But Betsy isn’t quite as aggressively coming on as she had been moments before.

Kara tosses her a wink and then spins on her heel to go, on the lookout for Major Dhartri. She already knows he’s not going to be very pleased to see her. He preferred to send for her if he needed something-and to be sparing about it. His last letter had been left in Primm for her, and had said exactly three things:

Size 3.2 mm gears, whatever you can find.
12 caps each.
Two weeks, Camp McCarren

Which, as usual, Kara found mildly hilarious. She'd brought him the gears and even found more of them on the way-and then of course had played her prank. He'd had her practically escorted all the way out of the ruins, his soldiers eyes on her the entire time-and she'd come back in the middle of the night and played her prank anyway, snrk.

She hopes he brings it up, that'd be hilarious-and then Kara abruptly remembers what they were here for, the information they had to relay. It sobers her up more than a little, takes the fun out of things. She just wants to get the news into his hands in a hurry, and how nasty Dog Head-oh, right, Vulpes-had been.

And what'd Betsy say about a captive?
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Old 03-21-2019, 01:03 AM   #436
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Moray takes in the salacious exchange with the driest look that Kara's ever seen. Rather than interrupt or posture, he just shakes his head and glances over the other soldiers, letting Kara work her magic. He's rather certain that conversation isn't one that needs a dick in it. They move on in good time and Jonah matches his partner's pace as they make distance.

"Centurion sounds like a good place to start after Dhatri," Moray murmurs, and guides them over to the jail proper. "Might as well get as complete a picture as possible. That's in a bit, though."

Dhatri's by the terminal by the tent row, black-skinned and beret donned, looking ready to fight a sandstorm with his bare hands. He's leaned up over a crate staring in the opposite direction, but hears them coming and straightens up to get a view on the contrasting pair approaching. The total lack of conflict they have immediately sends his eyebrow high, and he glances between the two of them.

"Dhatri," Moray says, impassive.

"Moray," he replies with a nod. "Strange bedfellows these days."

Jonah immediately smirks at the poor choice of words, then swallows it in a heartbeat. Dhatri's brows raise even higher, and his eyes flick over to Kara and back. " . . . Alright, I don't want to know anymore. What brings you out this way, Moray? You're a couple weeks ahead of schedule."

"Legion attacked Nipton," Moray says, his previous humor drained. "Burned it, crucified everyone it could catch. We got there in time to save some and kill the Legionnaires, but they had bodies piled up and burning. Leader was some hotshot Centurion called Vulpes Inculta."

"Shit," Dhatri swears, and turns around to kick the crate he'd been leaning on. It's either a pretty shit crate or he's that angry, because wood splinters under the tip of his boot. "He's special forces or something. Shows up doing deep recon, sabotage, that kind of shit. Black ops boy."
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Old 03-21-2019, 02:15 AM   #437
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“I do have half a pack of bubblegum still…” Kara says, and while it should have been a smirking, funny joke-her smile wasn’t at all mirthful. “But no way would Dhatri let me get within a mile of that, so you’d have to convince him, probably.”

Yeah, nobody thought she took anything seriously, and 99 percent of the time, they were absolutely right. The Legion though-fuck those guys. She does want that complete picture, more puzzle pieces-though what she could possibly do with them she’s not sure. If nothing else, it might help Dhatri if they get the fuck to talk, and Kara wants him to have as much Legion information as possible, and was more than willing to help him get it.

Which he’d no doubt view as exceptionally suspicious.

“Well if it isn’t the Major!” Kara greets, her cocky smirk reappearing with aplomb as she acts like it was any sort of surprise to have him here-amusing herself, as always. Though his reaction to their side by side partnership was comedy gold all by itself.

Dhatri did not approve, and that has her smirk shift to a grin as she looks around and at the crates, her hands on her hips-until he asks Moray what the visit was for.

Kara’s smile drops off, the first and only time Dhatri would have ever seen her look any kind of serious, ever.

“Yeah well, now the creep’s super fucking dead, you’re welcome.” She crossed her arms, Caribbean blue eyes more than a little heated in remembering the bastard. “But before then, he told us how it went down-I guess Steyn sold both your NCR boys and the Powder Gangers out to Dog Hat, and then Dog Hat happily opted to bag and tag the whole damned place. He went on about the usual profligate this and degenerate that when I asked him about it, but c’mon- it was the usual Legion sadism, except this time getting off took burning and crucifying an entire town in the Mojave.”

She’s not sure what the hell that means, but it’s nothing good, the Legion upping their ante like that. That’s why it was so important to take the info to somebody like Dhatri-someone who would know what to do with it.

Kara’s scowling, furious in a way that jarred with her usual flippancy, was sharply out of what was generally known about her character. She gives a shake of her head and steps off to mess with a damaged, cracked scope sitting upright in a small pile of discarded gun parts.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:06 AM   #438
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Dhatri nods, a little of the grim mood lifting. "Well, that's something at least. We didn't get bagged with them, either. I've heard Vulpes has been with Caesar since he got started all the way back with his first tribe. How'd you manage that in the middle of all his men?"

"I shot them," Moray says, patient.

Dhatri waits, but that's all he gets, and an unwilling little smile steals its way across his face as he shakes his head. "Alright, fine," he sighs, and reaches up to clap Moray on the shoulder. "Good show. Those are long odds for anyone. Thank you for stepping up for those sad sacks in Nipton, even if they are a bunch of scoundrels."

Moray does his dead stare, pointedly not moving.

Dhatri's little smirk twitches upwards. "I know. But, anyways."

The black major draws a long breath, and the humor seeps out of him as the moment passes. "I'm not surprised the Legion's been poking in further. We've been getting patrols all over the place, even near the Dam, checking our security. We captured a Centurion doing a deep raid - somewhere, I don't know, only caught him because a Crimson Caravan spotted the patrol mongrel running down a gecko then reported it in. They're stepping shit up, and worse, I can't get much done about it because the Fiends have all lost their fucking minds."

The career soldier rolls his neck and shoots Moray a glance. "On that note, you accepting contracts at the moment? We've got three new bands pushing our boys all the way back right now, and they're nasty business. Had First Recon sweeping to see if we could take a shot at them, but honestly the leads all wear that shit plated armor and they have dogs anyways to sniff 'em out. No go on that route. After Legion, should be a cakewalk."
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Old 03-21-2019, 02:31 PM   #439
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"I shot them."

Kara laughs, caught off guard by the hilarity in another one of Moray’s flat responses. She peers at both of them through the scope, one eye closed and the other magnified to several sizes larger, highlighting the lighter blue striations among the vivid blue ones that give her eyes their crystal clean, Caribbean waters look.

She decides she likes Dhatri more than she thought she liked Dhatri-he always barely tolerated her, but he seems to like Moray, and beyond just what the big mercenary could do for him.

Kara sets the scope down and messes around with gears, matching teeth up and connecting them together-but she’s really listening to the major speak. She’s already been given part of this picture when she’d talked to Lieutenant Larson forever ago, back after the Deathclaw job-and it didn’t look any nicer now than it did then. Worse, actually.

“They're stepping shit up, and worse, I can't get much done about it because the Fiends have all lost their fucking minds."

Kara’s managed to build a little zig zagged tower of four gears and a few springs she’s pressed through the tines, her tongue between her teeth as she ‘concentrates’. The Fiends were usually out of their minds-she’s not sure if they start out that way and drugs just exacerbate it or if they get into drugs so bad you got nuts after one or two trips-and then never stop with the drug fueled insanity.

She had had no intention of doing jack shit about them, or going along with Moray doing so-even if the New Khans were set to move on to greener pastures, she had no real reason to want to go after Fiends. If anything, that would only limit their choices later, she doesn’t deal with Motor Head often, but she definitely won’t be able to if she’s in on killing his lieutenants.

And wouldn’t that just give the NCR more time to harass the Kings and whoever else? All these factions kept each other in balance, and that balance let Kara do just about anything she fucking wanted, moving through and around and in and out of them. They all fought and they schemed and they killed each other, and Kara didn’t much care because that’s just how the world was. You survive, or you don’t-the end.

She’s just out to amuse herself, she doesn’t actually care about anybody’s standing, except accidentally the Khans, apparently. But that’d been more about making sure Vanessa didn’t end up in slavery somewhere, given all the trouble they’d gone through to get her back.

And screwing Caesar over.

Now that she thinks about it, she does care about screwing the Legion in anyway she can. And she’d had the idea to come tell Dhatri about Nipton because she knew he’d know what to do about it. She thought he was better than a lot of NCR bores, knew he’d been the only good thing about Bitter Springs, knew now that he had Moray’s esteem-and now he’s telling them he can’t get anything done about screwing the Legion because the drug fueled crazies were keeping him from doing so.

Cook Cook’s a nasty fuck and Driver Nelphi was probably just as bad, but-

“We’re pretty busy, Mister Dhatri.” Kara says in a bored tone of voice, squeezing a spring until it bounced out of her fingers, knocked the gear/spring tower down in a messy collapse-and sent several rolling off the crate. “Sure, my bestie here does those kinds of contracts, and while I can’t speak for him-my time don’t come cheap, and I already tagged along while he brought you information for free.”

It’d been her idea, but she sees no reason to admit to that. Her smirk relights and her eyes flick up. She’s getting to the ‘what she wants’ part of things.

“I got a line on them Fiend head honchos, but that’s not really my sort of job. I’m looking for experiences, if I’m going to do anything. You said you captured a Centurion, and I heard-” Thanks Betsy- “-you still got ‘em here somewheres.”

Kara picks the broken scope back up and rolls it back and forth on the surface of the crate beneath her gloved palm. “Dog Hat wasn’t very talkative, and boy if I don’t just like to know things-so maybe this other guy will be, and maybe you’d like to hear what he’s got to say-since I hear he ain’t been talking much to you guys, anyway.” A grin.

“So. We see what we can do about these other problems you’re having, Moray gets paid, and then we talk to your guest, and assuming that provides anything of use, I get paid.”

She snatches the scope up and tosses it upwards, catching it and setting it back down with a nod of finality. “And we all go home happy. Deal?” A glance between both men and a wide, dazzling grin.
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:26 PM   #440
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Dhatri listens to Kara with the expression of a man that was too tired for this before he even got up this morning. Kara sets off his irritation in general - he's used to commanding troops, and Kara is about as far from a career soldier as you can get - and honestly all he wants to do is hire Moray anyways, who's solid as a rock. All this is just in the way.

But truth be told, you use the tool that fits the situation, and he can't imagine Moray would be any good at interrogation. Just to make sure, he glances back at the other man and says, "How bad's your bad cop?"

Moray rolls his shoulders, glances up at the sky for a second, then looks back down. What's staring out of his face at that moment is what Dean Domino and Benny saw: wide-eyed, howling death. Except that the rest of him isn't really following up on the body language, because calling that back up with Kara at his side and safe is just short of impossible, so mostly he just looks a little wired and bug-eyed while he slouches.

Dhatri sniggers and waves Moray off. "Bad question. I mean, 100% you'd just shoot the guy, no doubt. But we need him to talk, not die, and I can't have him tortured. I guess that means your stock just went up, Kara."

The black soldier glances up for a moment, his mouth moving as he does counts, and then nods. "Tell you what. We'll call the Fiends three hundred caps a head, for Driver Nephi, Cook-Cook, and Violet. You bag all three I'll toss in another five hundred. The interrogation, if you get anything, I'll get you one-fifty at least, or more if it's important stuff, not just like patrol routes or whatever. That sound about fair?"

Moray nods, the stupid expression sliding off his face for something approaching pleased. "Standard contract. You want proof?"

Dhatri shakes his head. "You're good for it."

Kara's partner glances over at her and raises an eyebrow, letting her have the final decision.
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Old 03-22-2019, 12:17 AM   #441
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Individual reward per Fiend honcho, a bonus they’re not going to make, and a good enough offer just for talking-Kara counts it as a success. Moray glances at her and Kara confirms by way of bouncing a step in and shaking Dhatri’s hand in an overly animated way until he either shook her loose or the surprise wore off.

“Deal!”

Popping back on her trailing foot at Moray’s side, Kara gives a pleased tug on the front of her jacket before becoming a miniature town crier.

“That’s right, Kara and Moray at your service! He shoots at things and I talk at things, expert Mojave professionals available for hire at the low low price of-”

Kara stops mid fanfare as if the math only just now occurred to her. She lifts her hands off of her hips and makes a deliberate show of counting along on her fingers before- “Chump change!” She finishes with great cheer, whirling on her heel and tromping off, slapping the broken scope back down on the now disarrayed pile on the crate.

~*~

“You were considering the head honchos as individual contracts though, right?” Kara wants to know as they’re leaving the camp, heading not back the way they came, towards the desert-but further west into the ruins. “I mean, you heard him-three hundred per head, and a bonus if you bagged all three. And what’s five hundred caps? Pretty noisy in a backpack, you ask me.”

What. They had carried more than that before, each of them.
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:16 AM   #442
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Moray shrugs at Kara's question, pacing beside her as they make their way past the outskirts of Camp MacCarran, into the old ruins that house the ragtag gangs of Fiends that have given the NCR so much trouble. "I get Cook-Cook and Nephi. They have gangs and conducts raids. Violet, from what I understand, chills somewhere on her own and raises dogs. She's Gibson in punk chic, and I'm not like to shoot people over that."

He scowls a little, actually. "If First Recon can't take down a pack of dogs and a raider chick by themselves, then what the fuck are they doing, anyways?"

It's a worthwhile question, actually. The standard soldiers he could see getting beaten back by Fiend gangs, between their juiced-up endurance and general psychological warfare tactics, but First Recon should be able to clear out any of these gangs in a week, picking them off by night. Violet had nothing stopping a lone sniper from just picking her off the next time she went out to feed her dogs. That means they've been deployed somewhere else, somewhere that's either seeing a lot of action or is about to. He files this away for later.

The closest camp is Cook-Cook's, just a little past the airport, in a blasted set of ruins. There's a nice wall of rubble to the east, though, and Moray leads them up it at a steady pace. Hrolf's rejoined them and he leads the way, carefully sniffing out Fiends and leading them in a wide circle around their pungent scents of oil and filth.

At the peak of the ridge, Jonah settles down in a sniper's stance, unslinging his carbine. Cook-Cook is supposed to be most recognizable by his flamethrower, but no one out in the open is packing one; there's a scattered handful of Fiends around, two around a fire barrel, three eating, and one off on the side watching the approach to the NCR camp toying with his shotgun. It's a ragtag bunch.

He leans over and murmurs quietly into Kara's ear, "Just drop them as they come, try to lure Cook out? Or do you have something special in mind?"
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:47 AM   #443
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Kara roots around in her jacket, produces her shitty map. “They eat people sometimes, but nobody that wasn’t looking for trouble anyway.” She says, unfolding and refolding it so that their particular area was on the outside, tapping the pawprint situated in the scribbled mess, holding it up so he could see it. “This one? This one’s Vi and her dogs. Axel, Traxel, Meat and Mutt.”

She brought it back down to her eye level again, frowning. “We can’t go and make ‘em orphans.” She was much more sincere about that statement than any sane person should be, but given it’s Kara-it’d come as no surprise.

She tucks the map back into its pocket and brightens up as Hrolf rejoins them. They won’t shoot Violet, but leaving her out here after killing the other two off would be just as bad-without the threat of her asshole brethren, no doubt someone would come pick her off.

“I’ll talk to her, see if I can’t get her to move on. If not back to their vault, maybe the Khans-she’s crazy, but it’s crazy they might be able to use wherever they end up settling down, and that’s who has been providing their drugs anyway.”

She’s glad she didn’t have to convince him not to kill the woman. Violet was...Violet, but she wasn’t so bad. Even if Kara’s decently sure she did eat people right alongside her dogs.

Blech.

Kara’s got her cracked binoculars out, hunkered down beside her partner and peering down at the bunch. “I only ever saw him once-the stories kept me faaaaaar far away. He wears crazy armor with this thick, clunky helmet.” She murmurs, pausing as she spots a surprisingly well cared for Brahmin. “That must be Queenie, his pet brahmin. I guess he really loves Queenie.”

Kara lowers the binoculars and looks to Jonah. “He’d probably lose his shit if he thought one of them down there had hurt her.”
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Old 03-22-2019, 02:46 AM   #444
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Moray snorts. "Like I have moral room to talk about giving mercy to people that cross me. I don't know her or her dogs, so you handle that. I'll kill these slobs instead. Stick to our respective areas of expertise."

The Khans again, eh? Distant Kara might act, but he has a feeling that if Kara is close to any group of people out here in the Mojave, it might be the Khans, rootless and proud as they are. It probably has something to do with their strong sense of identity, as opposed to the faceless morasses that the NCR and Legion sink to. The Khans adore and protect their history, and Kara doesn't have any of that. When they called her sister, it might very well have been the first time.

He shakes the curious though off and instead turns to look down the scope of his carbine at the Brahmin herd. Only one lacks the characteristic open sores and clumpy fur common to most Brahmin - it looks brushed and plush. He considers the logistics of attempting to fake a hit on the cow, then takes in the sentence he just thought and throws the whole concept away. Instead, he reaches into his satchel and pulls out a set of fiber containers, one of which he unlatches and produces a grenade from.

"Subtlety is for chumps," he says, and gives the explosive an underhand toss that rolls it right up to Queenie's foot. The explosion is magnificent, though having to duck back as blood and cow gore goes everywhere is less than optimal. Moray remains ducked back behind cover, breathing slow and easy, as the Fiends regain their footing from where the explosive had knocked half of them on their asses from sheer fright, befuddled and terrified by the sudden assault.

There's a few bangs from a nearby trailer, and then another Fiend tears out of it, nearly frothing at the mouth as he sprints over to stumble to his knees at the Brahmin patch, getting steaming-fresh blood all over his leather pads. He scoops up a bit of entrail, and then his hands begin to shake as a wild, ululating scream wells up from some animal place inside him.

He whirls, and the flamethrower mount comes out as he torches the nearest Fiend, still blinking and unbalanced from the concussive pulse of the grenade. His unlucky target screams and flails as he's doused in flames, throwing himself into the sand and rolling furiously. It doesn't help, of course - flamethrowers apply a burning jelly, not just fire.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:12 AM   #445
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Kara watches him, curious to see what he’d pull out of there-and then her eyes widen a fraction when the container proves to hold a grenade.

“Poor Queenie-destined to meet Not-So-Lucky in that big ole’ grazing field in the sky.” She sighs-before she pulls the furred collar of her jacket up and yanked the overly large garment up over her head-before popping back up to also throw it over Hrolf's head-not that the mongrel stays there, poking his nose out from under it.

The explosion is noisy and the reaction of the gathered Fiends immediate-something Kara finds low key hilarious. Poor Queenie indeed, but the Fiends below were finding their fire gazing and dinners spoiled with the cow guts raining down on them, a disorienting change in the weather, as ever.

And then CookCook burst out of his trailer, and Kara’s fingers instinctively found her stealth boy-which takes her a second to consciously realize as she releases it and pokes her head back out of her jacket. And for all the awful shit she’s heard about him, Kara still feels, at least a little, kind of bad. What was that that Jesus guy had said? Live by the sword, die by the sword?

Rape and burn people to death, lose your pets? Not quite the same ring to it...

The gutteral, grieving scream is followed by the sound of a flamethrower lighting up-and lighting one of his own guys on fire. Oh shit-she knew he’d flip out, she just didn’t know how much he’d flip out. Sometimes her plans go even better than she had figured on.

Kara dares a peek and then pops back down, wide eyed. “He’s not wearing his helmet!” She whispers, and indeed, CookCook’s greasy mug was exposed for all to see, slicked back mohawk and all.

He’s as good as dead.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:46 AM   #446
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Moray considers the lice-ridden back of Cook-Cook's head, then his eyes drift lower to the fuel pack of the flamethrower on his back, where a stray round has punctured it and let sluggish streams of propellant out onto the ground behind him. Since he's constantly trudging forward, it hasn't been a problem yet, but if something happened to all that shit behind him and lit up his fuel tank, the results would be just tragic.

Elias reaches into his satchel, retrieves an oil rag and a match, then wraps the rag around a rock and lights it. Then he tosses it onto the jelly trail behind Cook-Cook. It takes a moment to light up, the flame almost extingushed by the throw, but when it goes up it takes off in a racing trail of fire that crawls right up into the flamer's fuel pack on Cook-Cook's back. That explosion is something straight out of Hollywood; a concussive burst of fire that swallows ten feet in a massive fireball without much actual force. Cook-Cook himself is immolated almost instantly, swallowed in napalm and reduced to greasy cinders.

"There's my good deed for the day," Jonah notes, satisfied, and slides back down the rubble ridge to safety and a safe retreat from the Fiends, helping Kara up when she follows. "Never use a flamer. They're deathtraps."

Hrolf wrinkles his nose. The place had smelled bad before the scent of burning cannibal had started to saturate the place. Now it's downright intolerable, and he trots away, tracing a long arc around the outside of the ruins to a trailer park on the southern edge.

Moray makes to follow, and then pauses and glances at Kara. "You want to steal his recipe book?" he asks, a little blank.
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:57 AM   #447
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"You're a hero!" Kara agrees with great amusement-not even entirely full of it. Cook Cook was a -bad- person. He'd been plaguing the southern ruins for far too long-even she had steered clear or used a stealth boy, and there was a nook and cranny or two she hadn't gotten to explore, not wanting to end up cornered.

She decides it's good they took the job for it's own sake, on top of their other motives. Or her other motives. Eh, she only half knows what the fuck she's up to with all of this thinking.

"Ha, I could never-blowing things up is one thing, but straight up arson and funeral pyres? Nah, that's not as funny. Besides!" She accepts the hand up and nudges him playfully in the side. "That thing looks like it weighs as much as I do!"

She sees Hrolf trot off towards the trailer park and might've worried-but every dog she's ever taken there the others were cool with, and Vi wouldn't use her rifle on a dog not eating her dogs. Assuming Hrolf was even spotted-he's a sneaky spy dog, after all.

...could you use a stealth boy on a dog? Hook it to his collar?

The possibility of an invisible ghost dog has her distracted from working out what to say to Vi. A warning wouldn't work, and would make her look like she cared more than she did, anyway.

...cough.

She gets a step in that direction when Moray brings up a recipe book. Kara goes still-and then twists back around to look at the slope. A recipe book? Wait, that bastard -actually cooked- for these guys? And they -ate that cooking-?

'Well I -didn't-." She says, as if he'd just given her a dare. "But now I just gotta know."

She opens one side of her jacket like a street vendor hawking wares in a back alley somewhere, opposite hand giving a dramatic flourishing gesture to all the pockets and tucked in tools, before tapping on the stealth boy-painted much as the others had been, a white rabbit half out of a hat and "Poof!" Scrawled on it in paint marker.

"Gonna sneak over and see if I can find one. That's something you just can't pass up." She'd stick that right on a shelf somewheres.
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:38 AM   #448
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Jonah just looks amused. "Yeah, I figured you'd want that."

He passes the minute or so it takes Kara to retrieve the book by checking his weapons over - Cook-Cook was a joke, but Nephi may not be, and it's good habit in any case. No damage or wear is evident, and when she returns with a terribly-scrawled book made from a piece of cardboard with Old World magazine letters cut and pasted all over it, he's packed up and ready to go. It's only a handful of recipes, but surprisingly among the various ways to cook and eat people, he's got shit sprinkled in about gecko flavoring, the proper way to roast brahmin, and "awesome shit" to add in, which mostly means drugs but also how to roast meats so that their flavors mingle. It's a meatlover's cookbook, and whatever else he was apparently good at it.

"He writes like you," Jonah says, unimpressed, and then nods to Kara and turns to head to the trailer park for the second of their triple card bounty. It's a short walk by the standards they're used to, trekking all over the Mojave, and soon enough the barking and howling of dogs drowns out the ambient noise of the area. It's not the number of dogs Violet raises that makes them dangerous, but that her area is a maze of narrow passages between burned-out vehicles, letting all of the dogs jump any attacker from cover pretty much as they like. Moray leans up against the furthest car, listening to the barking, and gives Kara a look.

"I know you want to spare her," he says, "but I don't know of a lot of ways to get past the dogs without killing them. Best I can think of is find some peanut butter from a burned-out store, smear it on some bones, and sneak past while that preoccupies them. Cute, but I don't have the first half of that combo. Any ideas?"

She can just sneak past with another of her seemingly endless supply of Stealth Boys, but even if it works that just leaves Kara next to a hostile Fiend and surrounded with angry dogs. Not an option.
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:54 PM   #449
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"Aw...that -would- have been cute." Kara almost wants to insist on that idea just to watch Jonah put it into action. She actually considers it for a minute, or maybe even trying to make up some crazy story on how they can only approach hooting like owls and hopping on one foot-but she's trying to convince Jonah -not- to shoot Violet, so she better just play it straight, no jokes.

Sides, there's no way he would have fallen for that anyway.

Kara sighs and slings her pack down off her shoulders, brightening up as she roots around in it. "You ain't gotta worry about sneaking past-you're with me! And I got an in, already know these dogs. We're all besties."

She pulls out Hrolf's specially decorated bag of snacks, then a thin piece of metal. It proved to be a telescoping antenna of all things. There's a pencil cap eraser on the sharp end from where she had cut it clean off of something or other.

"Violet though-I mean, we're cool I think," She thinks? "But the dogs are gonna be the real vote of confidence, just in case she's fucked up enough she doesn't remember me."

She drops her bag and starts looking for something in her inner pockets, produces one, then two, then three scratchy strips of randomly dyed fabric from three different pockets. She ties those together in a longer string, then roots around some more, this time pulling a cylinderical whistle on a string. Kara looks triumphant about it, which could only mean it was stolen from somewhere.

The red head happily sticks that between her lips and teeth and let's it dangle there a moment as she extends the antenna, ties the strip of cloth to it.

"She sits up on one of those trailers with a hunting rifle, and it's honestly better not to surprise her. Either way, she's not going to take potshots at anyone her dogs like-which is how we met in the first place, go figure."

Kara checks over her crafted flag, the whistle, the dog treats, and her attire before she glances over, grins a him. "Stick with me big guy, I'll introduce you to all the dogs and drugged out chicks you want." Most of the people she's rubbed elbows with are no one Moray would without biting somebody, but that's what made it funny.

"Ready?"
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Last edited by CurtailedAmbrosia : 03-23-2019 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:31 AM   #450
Obuzeti
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Jonah smiles, barely. The lengths Kara goes to preserve the lives of people that struggle - which is what she identifies with so strongly, that fight for their existence on the raw edge of survival - always surprises him. He, himself, was a clear break from that trend, but then he'd hated himself and most everything else for so long it probably qualified as an existential crisis anyways. So here he is, semi-repentant serial murderer, waving a flag made out of antenna and tie-dye fabric so he can negotiate with a lone Fiend who leads a gang of dogs.

"Go ahead, fearless leader," he says, droll, and follows behind Kara as she blows her whistle and waves her flag. There's no hesitation or shame in either of them, Kara because she doesn't know it and Moray because the only shame he's known in all his life was tracing the similarities he'd had to Johann. Everything else is an improvement on that, as far as he's concerned. Ridiculousness doesn't even exist on his list of concerns.

The dogs bark and come running, but evidently either recognize Kara or smell too many other, larger dogs on her and don't bother to attack, just circling them and sniffing. He pays them no mind, but the warning shot that pings into a nearby scrap wall is a lot more demanding of his attention.

"DOGS!" Violet barks, from atop a watchtower. It's the first time he's seen her; she's got skin blacker than Dhatri's, with some goat skull helmet on, and she looks rattled, barely peeking over the edge of the watchtower. She hadn't even been aiming for him, not really, just poked the rifle over the edge and took a wild potshot. "Dogs eat good! Dogs no rip, but can shoot! Dogs get better!"

Her voice is in some screechy register that sounds downright unhealthy, and Moray shrugs and glances at Kara. "I'm pretty sure I managed to skim the cream off the crop when it comes to picking up Raiders. Your show, Kara."
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