08.19.3013: Changes Coming Down
Summary: Victor brings the captive Hostile something she wants, and gets some answers in return.
Date: 19 August 2013
Related: To Catch A Hostile, My Shadow's Shedding Skin, Picking Scabs Again, and Looking For A Clue
Sarah Victor 


A Holding Cell, The Netherkeep, Khar-Mordune
A bare holding cell.
19 August 3013

It is the last day for Sarah 113 of 158 in Khar-Mordune. She sits listless in her chair in the center of her cell. Her legs are limp, arms draped across her thighs. Her head is rolled forward, her oily dark red hair fallen from her slicked back style to drape some of her face in shadow. She nurses on a tube tucked in her cheek and connected to a sack of water that hangs off her chair. She is making faint noises under her breath, though it doesn't sound like actual talking — just noises. Some might even say she's humming.

Victor Khournas probably shouldn't be bringing a cigar into the room, but he submitted it, himself, and the five packets of Hostile-goo he carries in a bag to inspection and scanning. He nods to the guard on duty, gesturing toward the forcefield covering the door. When it blinks out, he steps through, drawing on his cigar and blowing a streamer of smoke out toward the ceiling. In his right hand is a metal chair, which he sets down opposite the Hostile, back toward her. One of the guards follows with a small folding side-table, which he sets up at Victor's left hand. The food packets are set down on the table, and then Vic straddles the back of the chair, crossing his forearms along the chair-back. "Hey. I'm Vic." His gravelly voice somehow manages to mix amusement, disdain, and curiosity.

Sarah does not lift her head immediately. There is a faint luminous blue glow beneath her lashes as if she is vaguely peeking through the dark feathering. Then she raises her chin slowly, gaze lifting to meet his with a slightly predatory edge. There is a dark bruise on the right side of her face, though it has already started to yellow around the edges. She stares at him for a long moment, the inner irises of her eyes rotating slowly as if she is zooming in on him. Her gaze flickers down to the nutrient bags, and then back up to the Havenite. "Sarah," she says simply in reply to his offered name. Her own voice is a flat, soft alto.

Victor draws on his cigar again, streaming smoke upward once more, "So you're a Hostile. Figured you'd be hungry. Livin' on suit water sucks ass, and I bet that's not much better." He rolls the cigar between his fingers, looking to it, "So you're not gonna say anything about tech or military or shit, are you?" He doesn't actually wait for her to respond, "But I figure you'll need food sooner or later."

"I am what you refer to as a Hostile," Sarah repeats dully. She glances over toward the nutrient packs, and abruptly her right arm moves — just her right. She reaches for one of the packs, though it is obvious her left arm is still a dead weight. Unless he stops her, she will take one of the packs and set it in her lap. She lifts her eyes up to meet his briefly. "I will listen to your questions, Vic of the Inner Worlds, but I have been told I can choose which questions to answer."

Vic's left arm snaps out, reaching to grab her right wrist when she stretches for the food. "Yeah. This ain't a mission of mercy." He makes no attempt to release her wrist, looking down at it and studying her cybernetic limb. "I'm here to learn more about my enemy. When'd you get that? How old were you?" There's a pause, and then his lips curl up into a smirk, "Imperius years." Evidently, he's watched the tapes.

Sarah stares at him as he grasps her wrist, her blue eyes burning into his own. Her eyes every so slightly darts down to the nutrient bag and then back up to his own solid dark gaze. "And what do answering those questions earn me?" The Hostile asks in a bit of a low note.

Victor tucks the cigar into the corner of his mouth, reaching across to try and slowly pull the nutrient bag from her hand. "That was one question. I just said it two ways." Maybe he's not so big and dumb as he looks. And then he gets back to her actual question, "You answer my questions for… an hour… and I leave all five of these for you." The end of his cigar flares red again as he draws on it, "You answer 'em truthfully, and I'll bring you another five in two days after I check up on the answers."

Sarah narrows her luminous eyes at the Havenite across from her, though her cybernetic fingers do loosen their hold on nutrient pack. She leans away from him, and if he releases her arm, she will place her limb in her lap once more. She rolls her shoulders a bit, though her left arm still weighs down that half of her frame. "Thrity minutes," she counters.

Victor releases her arm when she looses the bag, setting the food back on the table a moment. His fingers toy with the nutrient pack, watching her face for a reaction, "Thirty minutes." The words are accompanied by a gust of smoke from his lips, "And if I think you're tellin' the truth, maybe you'll even get one early." He pulls the table back a little, out of her reach, and then settles into his chair, leaning his forearms into the chair-back, "So I guess that was two questions. How long ago did you get the cybernetics, and how old were you in Imperius years?"

There is a long gap of silence between the two as she regards him for a long, almost uncomfortable moment. Then she regards him with a vague nod of her head. "I received these cybernetic replacements when I joined my unit. I was the equivalent of thirteen Imperius years old." She licks at her lips, managing to keep the water tube tucked in the corner of her mouth even while she speaks. Sarah flickers a glance toward the nutrient bag once and then back up to the Havenite soldier.

Victor picks up the nutrient bag, passing it back and forth between his hands, his heavy-lidded eyes study her patiently, "You didn't give the other answer. How long ago that was." He waits for that answer, or a refusal to answer the question, then draws in another pull from the cigar, this time breathing the smoke out in the Hostile's general direction. "Next question. How long were you on the ship coming here?"

"That was twelve Imperius years ago," Sarah replies in her flat alto. The Hostile lifts her right hand, flexing her fingers in a subconscious gesture. She looks stiff and uncomfortable in her seat, but she has at least been given access to one of her four limbs. "It took the transport nine months to travel from Cantos to Imperius."

Victor nods his head slightly, hefting the bag a moment and then tossing it across to her. It's a light toss, with an easy arc to it, testing her one-handed reflexes. If it's dropped, he'll lean out of his chair to pick it up and hand it over more easily. "What age didja start training to join your unit?" His lips pull back into a smirk, flashing white teeth against his dark skin, "That stuff tastes like shit, by the way. Don't you ever eat anything else?"

There is a sharp snap of her hand, and the nutrient bag is snatched from the air in midflight. Her gaze shifts toward it just once, and she fiddles with it until she turns it upright. She reaches to detatch the tube from the water sack, though it is a difficult task with just one set of fingers. She manages, and soon enough she is working the tube into the nutrient bag. She is determined. She succeeds. Then she slumps back in her chair as she starts to nurse on the rich goo. Even though her expressions are minute, there is no doubting the relief that passes her brow as she sucks on the ration pouch. "No," Sarah finally says answering his last question first. "Your own nutrients are particularly disgusting." Then she takes another moment to take another mouthful of nutrient before she answers his other question. "I became physically able at five Imperius years of age, and that is when my training began."

Victor watches the process intently, drawing on the cigar again and blowing the smoke — once more — vaguely in the Hostile's direction. Another test, this one silent. "Five? Bullshit. Humans ain't ready for anything but running around looking stupid at that age." There's a hint of a smirk on his lips, but it fades quickly. That's coming from a guy who was being forced to do pushups at that age. "Your brother. You lost a brother. Was he born from the same parents you were?"

"You have said that I will be given needed nutrient if I answer your questions truthfully," Sarah says in reply to the Havenite. "I have no incentive to lie to you, Vic of the Inner Worlds." Then she takes another swallow from the nutrient bag. There is another laborious gap of silence, and then she breathes out her nostrils in a slow exhale. "We no longer procreate the way you are accustomed. The premise of birth is outdated, as is the psychological attachments to the combination of paternal and maternal haploids. My brother was my brother, selected by my parents in the same manner that I was selected."

Victor shakes his head at the change of his name, "Sir Victor Khournas. Or Sir Victor. Or Vic. If you need an 'of' it's Sir Victor Khournas of Haven." He emphasizes the last word. He blinks at the term 'haploids,' covering his confusion… not very well. But eventually he figures it out well enough to continue the questioning, grunting softly and taking another draw on his cigar, once more blowing the smoke… not directly in the Hostile's face, but certainly in her general direction. "Why'd your parents choose your brother? Why'd your parents choose you?"

Cybernetic eyes are good for something. She doesn't even have to blink through the smoke, though she does appear to be holding her breath until the haze dissipates a bit. There is the faint hint of a smirk at the corner of her lips. She doesn't reply to the name correction, though there is another lengthy pause before she speaks again. "We possessed nearly all the DNA markers that they desired and our genomes were associated with the right caste."

Victor ashes the cigar onto the top of the table, studying the ember at the end for a moment, "Caste. So what castes do you, uh, Cantosians," there's a hint of a question to the term, "Have? And can only certain castes raise," he pauses a moment, trying to come up with the right word but still ending up with hers, "certain genomes?" And yes, there's another puff on the cigar with the smoke blown out in her general direction.

"Cantosan," Sarah corrects him passively. She nurses another mouthful of nutrient, though she appears to be drifting into longer and longer silences. Finally, when she speaks, it is done in a low and calculated tone. "Khournas is the family name of the ruling peoples of the continent in the Southern Hemisphere of the Second World. You are expected to procreate with individuals in the same caste as you, are you not? We are not all that different."

Victor accepts the correction with a nod. The point about Inner System procreation draws a nod from him, "Solid point." He glances over to the nutrient packets, his eyes narrowing in consideration, and then he smirks, chewing idly on the end of his cigar. "So what the fuck is with those Scouts? Who in the hell gets their guts pulled out and their skin ripped off just to be able to sneak around?"

Sarah lifts her luminous blue eyes toward him once more as she nurses on the tube tucked in her cheek. "That inquiry is meant for one of them," she says as she drains the sack of the last of its nutrient. She squeezes her hand over the bag against her thigh until it is completely flat and empty. She tugs the tube loose. "I am not a scout, as you call them… I am a soldier."

Victor puts his hand idly onto the table with the four remaining nutrient packs, pulling it ever-so-slightly back toward him. "One soldier to another, Hostie, you're full of shit. Anyone who's the least bit human's got opinions." He points two fingers at her around the cigar, "And I know you fuckers think that you're human." Once more, his teeth flash white against his lips, "So how 'bout you prove it?"

Her eyes flash up at his words, irises rotating around the bright centers. Her lips pull back over her white teeth, the tube still tucked in the right corner of her mouth. "If you require the use of a diminutive, you can use Sarah… Sir Victor Khournas of Haven." Then she flares her nostrils a bit. "Those who elect for the scout upgrades are…" She clicks her teeth together against the tube in her mouth. "They are eager, aggressive to succeed, and overzealous. Completing their objectives are more important than logic strategy."

Victor looks at his cigar a moment, then turns a toothy smile back to the Hostile, "Since I'm not bein' pulled apart by your people, and you're sittin' there, not havin' your head torn off by angry Peakes, I think I'll call you whatever I want." Drawing on the cigar again, that feral grin gets wider, "Real fuckin' rude of me, isn't it?" The ember brightens again with another draw, and he blows the smoke out into her half of the room, "So what you're sayin', is they're the crazy motherfuckers like me. So, how do you decide what weapons to train with?"

The Hostile woman narrows her eyes at him, those luminous blue oculars burning between the dark lashes. Her right hand flexes across her thigh, cyber fingers curling into the material of her jumpsuit. "The ones that kill your people best," she finally replies, her voice low and edged.

"Don't fall on me." Victor takes another draw on his cigar, burning the ember bright once more, "Do your people ever fight each other? Ever kill each other?" He's been needling her the entire time, but it sounds like he's serious again now, "We found dead Hostiles. They'd been taken apart. Cybernetics, nerve groups, parts. And we didn't do it. At least, not Khournas-we."

The Soldier flattens her hand against her useless legs, rubbing at the flesh and bone thigh before touching her cybernetic knee. It is like trying to feel a limb that has been asleep for a long time and still remains dull no matter how much it is stimulated. His words draw her gaze upward, brows arched just slightly. "We have experienced fifteen hundred years of peace on Cantos," Sarah says dryly. "We do not kill one another."

Victor files away the information, but he shakes his head at the first point, "No, you haven't. Every four-hundred-and-fuckin'-sixty years you try to kick the shit out of us." Straightening up, and then standing from his chair, he responds, "So how do you choose what weapon to learn? Individually, I mean. Not all of you. each of you." He stops, then adds, "And I could look it up, but who's the scientist that promised to make you food out of Scout-slime?" Is that a Havenite showing weakness, or another test?

"That does not happen on Cantos," Sarah replies flatly. Her gaze follows him as he stands, and she tenses almost imperceptibly. She watches him with careful, unblinking eyes. "I chose the spear because it is my favored weapon." Her words are a bit more flat, even distant as if she is focused on training her gaze on him now that he has stood.

Victor snorts, "Just because I fight in someone else's house doesn't mean I'm not fightin'." He nods slowly, gathering up the other four packets of concentrated nutrients and walking over to stand in front of the Hostile. "And it's your favorite because it's what you were given, or because you chose it?" One of the packets is dangled in his right hand, the other three clasped in his left and his cigar clenched in one corner of his mouth. Shrugging, he adds "if you don't want me to give the doc another of these packets to synthesize… I'm sure he can make more Hostie-snot."

"I already answered your question, Sir Victor Khournas," Sarah says plainly. "I chose the weapon. If you wish me to rephrase my answer so it can be better understood, then I tested several weapons until I came across the spear, and that was the one I chose to train into mastery." Then she rolls her shoulder a bit, flexing her right hand once more across her thigh. "Hadrian," she finally replies. "He called himself Hadrian."

Victor nods at the rephrasing, dropping the first packet into her lap, then the second, third, and finally the fourth. "I'll give one to him." Stepping back, he half-turns, keeping his attention on the Hostile as he gathers up the chair with his left hand and beckons for the guard to enter and take the table away, "Who knows, you keep answering questions, you might live long enough to survive this war."

Sarah manages to keep the packets from spilling out of her lap with the sole use of her right hand. She looks up at him, her expression an unreadable mask once more. She says nothing about her possible lifespan, though her gaze never leaves him until he has begun to depart.

Victor does not turn his back on the Hostile until he is well out of arm's reach, stepping back toward the door instead. Only a good five feet away, he turns around and carries his chair out, blowing one last stream of cigar smoke up into the top corner of the room.

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