02.17.3014: Black Clouds Over Volkan
Summary: The Khourni gather to mourn the loss of Lady Reena. Tempers and emotions flare.
Date: 24, November 2013
Related: None
Anabethe Devon Nitrim Victor 


Living Quarters Greatroom — Blackspyre, Volkan
This room, as the entry to the living quarters of the Khournas family, is about as sumptuous as things get in the Blackspyre. The floor is sheathed in black tile, heated from below by veins of magma running through the tower itself. Deep red carpets have been layered over the tile across most of the expanse of the room, softening footfalls and providing a visual sense of warmth to go along with the physical one. One wall of the greatroom is taken up by a large 'fireplace' where one of the heat-proof transparent tubes filled with lava can be seen pulsing and roiling its way up the tower. Around the other walls are a scattering of drakeskins, paintings of battle and hunt, and shelves of holobooks. Several couches and chairs are gathered in clumps around the room, providing seating for twenty or so with ease. Opposite the lift is a corridor that leads back into the actual living quarters and a private drawing room, with the entrance to the corridor guarded by two men-at-arms at all times.
February 17, 3014

Anabethe heard the news, then promptly geared up and headed out to go search for Ellinor and Niko. It had the pleasant side effect of distracting her from the news, and from worrying over Flint's surgery. Several hours later, she trudges back into the tower, still in armor, though her helmet is off, and a thin crack in her breastplate shows in the light. "Few more Hostiles down," she says to no one in particular, heading for the sidebar to search out a drink.

Victor is seated in the Greatroom already, and has evidently heard the news. He's come out of his still-newly-shared quarters to smoke a cigar and get a drink. Because that's what he and Reena did together so often. His features, so often motivated by anger, hatred, joy, disdain, humor, or some other emotion, are just blank. He draws on his cigar, blowing smoke up toward the ceiling, then looks over to Anabethe, his dark eyes dull for a long moment before he nods, "Good. You're alright?"

The word has spread that Nitrim has returned only minutes ago from a quick two-hour trip to Landing. Already on one of the sofas and still wearing his trademark heavy coat, the young drake is leaning against a wall with drink in hand. His face is a somber mask of the same long-faces that are being held all around by the staff and family at the Blackspyre, where the household servants whisper quietly to avoid drawing too much attention.

A soft, sickly laugh falls off of Nitrim's lips at Anabethe's announcement, sharing a private conversation with his drink as he takes a sip. His shoulders shrug and the coat falls to his elbows in preparation of removal. "I'm officially sick of this fucking war. How's that for alright?" The coat is tossed onto a sofa. It is extra weight.

Devon steps off the lift after it dumps off Anabethe and heads down to retrieve her. She is still in her hospital scrubs, the shirt stretched over her ever-expanding belly. Her hair is down in loose, pale waves of undyed locks, though it looks as if she had loosened them from a bun or braid just a few moments ago. She hesitates once her feet step off the lift, glancing around at the three Khourni. Then she powers through, ignoring a small nagging instinct to step back inside and return to the infirmary — perhaps a sense of not-quite-belonging in this very moment in time in a mourning House.

"Yeah, just a scratch," Anabethe says with a gesture to her breastplate, shaking her head. "And a lot of frustration. We still don't have people who can take fucking orders. Kieran Valta's on my shit list after that show, but we all made it out." Finding her gauntlets less than ideal for glass bottles, she sighs, stepping back to a corner and starting to unbuckle her armor where she can. She looks up as Devon enters, tugging on a gauntlet. "Dev, you have a portable kit? I think it probably just needs antiseptic and a bandage, shouldn't even call for stitches."

Victor looks at his cigar for a long moment before he finally stirs himself from his seat, tucking the stogie into a corner of his mouth and moving over to Anabethe, "Shut the fuck up, 'Trim. This war ain't gonna be over until every motherfucking last one of those Hosties is dead." There's no real venom in his tone, but that in itself may be a bad sign. It's not as if there aren't a dozen or more broken items in his quarters — okay, maybe there are. As he approaches the Young Lady, he wordlessly steps over to start helping get the armor off her, after passing over his glass of whiskey first. Devon's arrival causes him to look up, his lips pressing together around his cigar, but he just nods, getting back to unbuckling plates.

Looking up from his perch, Nitrim slips a cigarette into his lips as his eyes fall onto Devon. He hesitates to light it, leaving it there to dangle unlit for the moment. "Well, then I hope you've got a billion or so swings left in your axe arm, Victor." Nitrim murmurs quietly, his darkly-rimmed, green eyes shifting to his cousin as he works with his sister. He hasn't slept much, and the five o'clock shadow on his cheeks is a sign the Nitrim show is on pause. "What did Kieran Valta do? Maybe he was just being a fucking idiot, given the rumor I heard about him and Ree."

"Of course I do," Devon says, though it is done only with a whisper of a smile. "Give me a second, it is just inside our quarters…" She starts to turn away, but the exchange between Victor and Nitrim stall her for a moment. She exchanges looks between the two, but when it appears that the Khourni do not cope by exchanging blows, the woman relaxes a bit. She nods her head gently as she steps to the quarters, and indeed disappears inside only long enough to fetch her kit. She emerges moments later, starting toward Bethe.

"Wouldn't retreat, even after several orders," Anabethe answers Nitrim, shooting a grateful look to Victor for the help. "Not that he was alone. We've got a serious problem with knights who refuse to follow orders or procedure in the field. Thanks, Devon," she adds to the other woman, carefully pulling her breastplate away with a whir of servos from the armor. "It's…The war's the war, Nitrim. We didn't pick it. They did."

Victor rumbles at Devon, "Watch out for the coffee table." Because it's in splinters. Pieces of armor start piling up on the sidebar, and Vic looks over his shoulder at Nitrim, "As many as I need." He nods at Anabethe's response to Nitrim, stepping around to help her with the breastplate. Setting it down, he steps back, his eyes dropping away to his feet. Pulling his cigar free from his lips, he blows out smoke, looking at the stogie. "And I'm gonna need a lot, because I plan on being there when we kill the last fucking one of them."

Dipping his head towards his hands, Nitrim's eyes roll over into white and a flash of fire lights the tip of the cigarette. A faint, orange shimmer of the serpent that swims his aura hovers around his body, bringing to life a gentle breeze up from his feet that blows the smoke towards the ceiling. As the first drag is exhaled, it spirals towards the smoke-eating units in the ceiling. "This war was wholly avoidable, but one way or another they're going to try to all come over here. I know it's the war, the way it is, this is just…a fucking mess." Nitrim murmurs to the room, something itching at his features, pulling tight against the scar on his neck as he tilts the bottle to his glass and refreshes his drink. "I don't really know anymore, right now."

Devon sighs. "I liked that coffee table…" She approaches Anabethe with a bit of a weight on her shoulders. She rests her hand on her belly as she draws up a chair to sit down in before the Young Lady. Her gaze moves between the Khourni as she starts to check over Anabethe's chest to see exactly what she's dealing with. She glances over toward Nitrim. "No… the First System War was wholly avoidable… there is no way to avoid the third time around."

"Wholly avoidable?" Anabethe arches a brow at her brother. "I'm not entirely convinced about that. I mean, I guess we could have rolled over, but I like breathing." She rolls down the neckline of her skinsuit until it's over her shoulders, revealing a thin, shallow cut across the skin. She wasn't lying when she said it was just a scratch. "It doesn't even seem real," she says quietly, sitting down to let Devon do her work. "I just…"

Victor doesn't mean to, but he snaps over at Devon, "And I liked my cousin." There. The elephant in the room is being spoken about. He looks down again, grumbling, "Sorry." His cigar gets tucked back into the corner of his mouth, and he runs both hands back over his shaven head. Turning away, he moves over to a couch and drops himself down into it. "I don't care if the First System War was avoidable. I don't care if this one was. Now, it's to the fucking death."

"Victor, don't. She didn't do anything wrong." Nitrim says quietly, yet resolutely, as if he has some authority or say. The bottle is set down and his glass taken up again, and the young drake moves to a spot on the wall far away from Devon to lean and enjoy his cigarette. "What's fucking bullshit is that people are dying over a lie. Someone lied and it killed Ree and a lot of other people." He pauses, voice hollowing out like a horror movie monster as the glass of whiskey echoes. "But you're talking like one of them now, Vic. Let's not do that, okay? We need to…I don't know…not forget who we are."

First, Devon flinches in reply to Victor's words, but then she snaps back with her own anger. "The coffee table didn't kill your cousin." There. The elephant just got bigger. She turns toward Anabethe to start applying neon pink synthskin. She is swift and dutiful in the application, and then she leans back to toss the applicator of synthskin in her kit before she clicks the lid shut. She begins to stand, hand on her belly as she does. She looks over at Nitrim. "What proof do you have that anyone lied, Nitrim? There is no room for ridiculous theories here."

Anabethe sits still for the application, sighing at the snapping. "Look, people. The Hostiles clearly have advanced communications capabilities. If they wanted to peacefully set up a colony here, I have no doubt that they have the capabilities to send a nice letter to the people in charge, along with some nice diplomats to do all the paperwork. Instead, they drop down and start torturing and killing. I don't care if they're people, or if they feel justified. Clearly, they're not looking for peaceful resolution, so maybe we should quit bitching about how we haven't tried to."

Victor grimaces even harder when Devon flinches, but he accepts the return anger. Nitrim's words, however, cause him to snarl at his cousin, "Get your head out of your ass, 'Trim. There's no fucking grand conspiracy. The Hosties are out to kill us and over the System. Not everything's some big complicated conspiracy. It's a fuckin' war." He points two fingers over to Anabethe as he reaches out with his other hand for his whiskey — and comes up empty. He already gave it to Anabethe. Oh well. Instead, he takes another draw on his cigar and blows the smoke upward.

"Vic could you lower your voice. I don't want my Father coming out here. I don't…wanna fucking deal with him right now." Nitrim sighs a cloud of smoke towards the ceiling, the scars on his neck pulling taut. When his head comes down, his eyes turn to the wall. "Did you get the dream, Devon? The sun so far away? I found out that their world is dying. I found out the records for whatever ships and lack of communication they blame us for damning them to death are locked. Shit does not add up, guys." Nitrim scowls. "We can't let them kill us, no. I just wish you guys would stop treating me like I'm a fucking fool. I dig. I find. I tell. Either way, they're looking to colonize and they don't have fat-fuck bartenders and housewives like we do."

"And what evidence do you have that their world is dying? The sun is so far away because their planet is so far away… even I know that," Devon says, her frustration evident. "If you do dig and find and tell, then show me your evidence, show me your data, show me your sources… even if they were coming to colonize, do you think they are here to share? Do you think that they will happily conquer what they need and then leave those of us left alone?" She rubs wearily at her belly.

"You're not an idiot, Nitrim," Anabethe says quietly, shrugging her skin suit back into place and reaching out to take the drink. "You're very possibly not wrong. But it's not enough just to know why they're doing it if there's nothing we can do to change it." She drinks, eyes closing on a heavy sigh. "We have to work with what we can do, not with what we wish were the case."

Victor shakes his head at the concern about Jevon coming down, evidently not worried. He points two fingers over to Devon at her point, "I've looked over all the tapes from the captured Hostie, but I haven't seen shit about their world dying. And you can't take shit the Hostie says as gospel. It's here to fuckin' kill us." No, he's not even going to give Sarah a gendered pronoun. "As for sharing, if they wanted that, 'Bethe's got it right. They've got comms. They can talk to us whenever the fuck they want."

"Wouldn't you want to know why Reena died?" Nitrim speaks up just a little, trying to cut Victor's words off, but instead following with the hard question right after he finishes. He turns his eyes to scan their faces and gives them a hopeless shrug, finger pointing over his glass to the window outside. "I knew people were going to die. Michram thought I'd be the first to go. I didn't figure it'd be Ree but…we're gonna fight, sure, whatever, but people are hiding the why from us. FUCK THAT." Nitrim dares to raise his voice in a snarl.

Swallowing and calming, Nitrim takes in a long, slow breath as his eyes turn to Devon. "I have a scientist contact who ran an astronomical simulation that, without asking, turns out matched the dream and has some kind of end-all event for Cantos. She—" Nitrim's words cut off. "She didn't listen; she got loud. All of her research was collected from her against her will. More cover-ups."

"Wouldn't you want to know why Reena died?" Nitrim speaks up just a little, trying to cut Victor's words off, but instead following with the hard question right after he finishes. He turns his eyes to scan their faces and gives them a hopeless shrug, finger pointing over his glass to the window outside. "I knew people were going to die. Michram thought I'd be the first to go. I didn't figure it'd be Ree but…we're gonna fight, sure, whatever, but people are hiding the why from us. FUCK THAT." Nitrim dares to raise his voice in a snarl.

Swallowing and calming, Nitrim takes in a long, slow breath as his eyes turn to Devon. "I have a scientist contact. She—" Nitrim's words cut off. "She didn't listen; she got loud. All of her research was collected from her against her will. More cover-ups. I'm going to keep trying. Carefully."

The Ash Witch sinks heavily into a seat as she tips her head back slightly against the chair. She glances toward Anabethe, and nods a bit. "Even if there was some misstep, even if the Governor-General of old was responsible for the massive exile of thousands of people, there's nothing we can do about that. We can't apologize, we can't hunt down the closest genetic relative to a guilty party to execute. Even if there was some lie, some hidden truth, what do we even do with that information?" She turns her gaze to Nitrim. "I don't find you a fool, Nitrim… but I don't know what you're trying to achieve by digging around in the past when the answers are in the here and now. You speak of the Dream about the distant sun, but what about the Dream of the sunrise… the one with the glowing, warm dawn?" She snorts then. "And what did she get loud about? I've heard of scientists all over Haven being warned that sharing classified information will get their clearance stripped. Even my medical research has been deemed classified whenever Hostile technology is involved. Think about those Hostile worshippers we came across? Imagine if they got their hands on information about the Hostiles… imagine if they were crazy enough to give the Hostiles our research. I even suspect that Hostile worshippers were the ones who released the clip of Sarah all over the InfoSphere."

Anabethe takes another drink, moving over to her favorite couch and dropping down, boots on the arm. "I talked to Emund," she says at Nitrim's words. "And there wasn't anything…He didn't seem off to me. He seemed like Emund. He was tired. He's been tired. And he didn't much care for the idea that someone else might be telling him what to do, so if someone is, then they're either doing it very cleverly, or they've got enough leverage on him that he didn't even think he could tell me. All of which is to say, I don't see Emund ordering people to hide whatever's happened."

Victor lets Devon and Anabethe respond to Nitrim first, for all that he simmers, his arms spread across the back of the sofa. "I know why Reena died, 'Trim. She died because the Hosties are trying to kill us. Because they've attacked us three times running, and they'll keep doing it unless we kill the fuck out of them." Gesturing over to Devon, and then Anabethe, he shrugs, "War ain't one of your mysteries, 'Trim. It's simple. It's straightforward. And if you don't figure that out, you'll get yourself killed."

Nitrim turns his head away from the others to stare at the wall blankly. His eyes close in an attempt to cleanse himself of the filth and film he feels draped over his soul. Frowning, his nostrils flare as he sniffs inwardly, followed close thereafter by a brush of his forearm over the cheek that faces away from them.

"Maybe you're right…" Nitrim finally admits, his tone shifting from the theorist who knows he's right to someone who's just been hit with a hole in his every belief. He quickly downs the contents of his glass. "Fuck…maybe you're right." His knuckles begin to tighten, lining in angry red and white over the glass in his hands.

The once-Grantham woman looks almost exhausted under the weight of this conversation. She continues to rub at her belly as she tries to find a comfort deep within her. "No one wants this war, Nitrim… but it is here all the same. Looking in the past gets us nowhere… we will get lost back there, always picking around scars to try to figure out how they relate to old wounds." She sinks down deeper in her chair, but then something has her sitting up straight as she bends slightly over her belly. She looks thoughtful for a moment, and then she glances over toward Victor. "We should be looking forward… like how I just think I felt the baby's first kick." Her brows arch as she looks down, almost confused by the new sensation.

"I don't know that there's a right here, Nitrim," Anabethe murmurs to her brother. "Just…a whole lot of wrong. Have you heard anything since Flint-" But she stops as Devon speaks, looking toward the other woman with a small, weary smile. "Congrats, Devon," she murmurs. "The first of many, I'm sure."

Victor hauls himself up from the sofa, over to the sideboard. He pours himself another drink, throwing it back and leaning against the counter heavily, his head bowed. The news from Devon causes him to straighten up, and he looks back over his shoulder, "Yeah?" Some of the tension leaves his shoulders, and he drops his cigar into the last remains of booze in his glass. "Hot shit." He steps over to Devon, then looks first to Anabethe and then Nitrim. "Hey. Come here. We're all family. Family ain't forever, but it's damn sure the most important thing while it's around."

Thinking the better of it, Nitrim sets his glass aside before it breaks and flexes his strained fingers against the palm of his hand. A pair of dull, stress-relieving cracks sound, and the lordling turns to head over to Devon, Victor, and Anabethe. The dark circles that line his eyes frame are more apparent as he approaches, as is the absolute exhaustion that hangs in his slumped shoulders. Then, in a moment of rare playfulness, he hops the rest of the way into the corner seat of a sofa near Devon's, within reach. "Yeah, let's not do this again for a long time, okay?" He settles in, resting his tired head against a cushion. "I'm really glad you guys are here. All of you."

"She's a Khourni," is all Devon says as she rubs her belly in the wake of that abrupt movement. Then she breathes out a small sigh before looking over at Anabethe. She offers her a small smile before she slowly pulls herself to her feet. She glances over at Victor, and she smirks. "Yes… hot shit…" Then she shakes her head before she glances over toward Nitrim, and then back to Anabethe.

Anabethe straightens up, moving to join the others and sitting on the arm of the couch by Nitrim where she can reach out to put an arm around his shoulders. "I love you all," she says quietly. "You are family, and I will always be here for you. I just want you to watch your backs, all right? There's a reason I've been such a hardass lately about people taking orders in battle, and fighting smart instead of like we're all trying to show off for a tournament crowd. That's how we stay alive, and I don't want to lose you."

Victor steps over to Nitrim first, one hand reaching over in an attempt to put his hand at the back of the other man's head just for a moment before he steps away to make the same gesture to Anabethe. "Damn straight she is." Not that he knows that his child will be female or not. "You know I don't fuck around out there, 'Bethe. Never have, never will. If I let 'em get me, then I can keep killing those metal-headed fucks until there isn't one left for my little boy or girl to ever have to see."

Nitrim, either too tired to fight it or welcoming of it, let's Victor touch his head. His hand raises in a fist to the air for Victor to see, and then flops back down to his lap. Snuggling in against Anabethe's side, Nitrim gets an arm around her hip for a squeeze. "I didn't sleep last night." He admits to the room, a grumble slipping past his teeth as he pushes off of the sofa to stand. "We'll see what Father comes up with in the next few days. I've got to send my ass to the Devil for a few hours. Love you all." With an squeeze of Devon's upper arm, he passes the lot of them and zombies towards his apartments.

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