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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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