09.02.3013: Hello? Is There Anybody Out There?
Summary: The volunteer waygate group finally get within comm range to touch base with their rescue party.
Date: 1 September 2013
Related: Sacrifice, A Respite, Making Camp
Agnes Chiron Jarek Kassandra Lionel 

The Wilderness - Eastern Spine
A wooded area with a makeshift camp.
2 September 3013

Another day of travel on foot has passed, and the group's progress has been slowed by the wounded. Agnes, Kassandra and Kaedin have traded shifts carrying Jarek in his makeshift litter, stopping every few hours for a brief respite from the travel. Now weary and footstore, they have stopped in a small wooded area to set up camp complete with a small fire and the smell of roasting venison from their supply (thanks Kaedin!).

Agnes is exhausted. She's forgone any pain meds to keep more for the severely injured in the party. After all the walking and sleeping on hard ground, she's very sore and achy. She pulls off a boot, shaking it until a rock falls to the ground, then pulls off the other and stretches her toes in the grass. "I miss my pillow."

Lionel has not been the best at this whole adventuring in the woods thing. He is use to a horizon, but there is very little definition to where the world ends and sky begins in the woods. He tromps around with the others, his sword on his back, some of his armor strapped into a makeshift backpack. He looks tired, dragging along at the rear with his scruffy face and askew hair. The Rovehn had been rudely awakened by Jeremy's voice in his head twelve hours ago, and had informed him where they were going, what they were doing, and that was about it. His brain was too tired to handle much more of the telepathic link. His bandages have recently been changed around his gut, but he still doesn't have much of an appetite, so he sits with the others and watches the fire. He glances toward Agnes with a smirk. "I miss my grassy plains," he bemoans.

His armor practically stripped for all it's worth to them, Maya suddenly flickers to life inside his helmet, on of the few pieces left intact. "Comm's re-established. Negative Infosphere link, negative tracker link, negative Drakholt link." then she goes dead again, the power unit failing out. The emergency battery kicks on, and an image appears of Maya's data getting wiped clean before the entire suit crumples as the magnetics holding it together loose cohesion. The expensive suit of armor becomes little more than an expensive paperweight in an age of tablet computers and datapads. The man on the stretcher is out like a light, hopped up on meds to keep him sedated and strapped securely so he doesn't injure himself or get injured. For now, he doesn't rouse.

"See, I told you camping sucks," Kassandra replies to Agnes, and while this mantra may have grown old by now, her tone is one of light amusement. She dumps her gear on the ground behind Lionel before clapping a hand to his shoulder to use it as a prop while lowering herself down to the ground beside him. Dirty fingers run through her scraggly hair, and she inadvertently smears grim across her cheeks as she wipes sweat from her face. "This is such unfamiliar terrain… Sir Agnes, any idea on our ETA?" Her gaze cuts momentarily to Jarek and she raises her eyebrows. "And how is he doing?"

"Just shy of a week, Kassandra, if my estimates are correct," Agnes replies. She glances over at Jarek with concern in her eyes. "He's stable, thanks to us carrying him. If he'd tried to walk this, I don't think he'd still be with us." She wriggles her toes some more and lets them air out some. "And I fully intend to get him home. His father finally agreed to let us get betrothed. I'm damn well marrying that man!"

The Rovehn Knight squints over at the gathering of Arborenin and Valen before he offers as light scoff. "And Jeremy keeps telling me that I never take the time to really see the beauty of the woods." He glares at the nearest tree. "Stupid beauty of the woods." Then he glances over toward Kassie. "You got something… there…" He starts to gesture at his own cheek meaningfully.

After several moments Jarek seems to start to rouse somewhat, his voice a hoarse whisper as he asks for water before slowly finding the tube for the bladder rigged up for him. He drinks for a long pull before resting his head back with a wince of pain, "We, stopped." he points out, to no one in particular. "Where are we? Why can't I move? Where's Agnes?" his questions coming one after the other as a drugged state of panic begins to set into him, he starts to fight slightly against his restraints, clearly not able to command his full physical power as they only creak and groan against him. "Agnes! Kaedin! Help! Agnes!" he starts to call out, proving he's not fully aware of himself or his surrounding, now and again he stops fighting to just breathe shallow ragged breaths wincing in pain.

"I've got something in places where something shouldn't be," Kassandra answers Lionel, staring at him as he gestures to his cheek; she understands, but at this point can't be arsed to keep up appearances. She's not much of a 'pretty girl' anyway. "A little under a week…well fuck." Reaching down, she draws a stick figure in the dirt of a genderless body with big X's for eyes lying beneath a tree. When the masterpiece is complete, she gestures for Lionel to look down and admire her atwork. Surely the Rovehn will understand.

When Jarek speaks, Kassie's gaze darts upward to focus on the man left laying in his litter. The rising pitch of the invalid's voice spurs the Valen to jump up, but rather than get in the way she remains back to allow Agnes room to tend to her man. Instead, she checks the meat over the small campfire, slowly rotating it for even cooking. That's what they do in the 'vids, anyway, so it must be accurate!

"I'm right here, love," Agnes murmurs, abandoning her boots to move over to the litter and sit beside it, taking one of his hands in hers. "Shhh. Settle down. We have been carrying you. You're strapped to the board to keep you from worsening your injuries. Is there anything you need? Food? Pain meds?" she asks as she loosens the straps to give him a little more freedom.

Lionel regards Kassandra's artwork, and then he looks up at her with a dry smirk. "I'm far more handsome than that redition, Kassandra Cindravale… you're a Valen! Be more artistic." Then he glances over toward Jarek as he starts to fit in his delirium. He frowns a bit, and he shares an unspoken glance with Kassie before he painfully starts to ease up onto his feet. "Should I get Momoko from her watch?" He offers.

Chiron has been trying to stay quiet for now, he's feeling a little bit better, but there's a great deal of pain in his chest still. He looks at the venison with hungry, longing eyes before looking over to Jarek and frowning. "Maybe you should sing him another song, Agnes? That worked last night." Chiron offers, not sure what else he could do. He sighs as he sits under a tree.

"Agnes?" Jareks wild eyes slowly focus on her face and he manages a smile, "Haven't we just had dinner? I swear I just made you cereal…" alluding back to the morning after he'd spent the night, and also getting the times of the day mixed up… so, not really all there just yet. Meds and delirium at their finest in him. "What about Knucklehead? Where'd he totter off to? I'll bet he's chasing skirts again… he always chases skirts… you'd think him a cross dresser with how many skirts he chases." He stops fighting though, relaxing and smiling at Agnes, "The wedding should be grand! I'll bet all of Spikka will be there, some of them are distant relatives of mine you know… almost everyone in my house is related to each other in some way… odd how that works really."

Kassandra crouches beside the small fire, frowning at Jarek. She isn't mad at him, per se, but perhaps Agnes' concern for other human beings is starting to rub off on her. Ugh, how distasteful. Shaking her head, the Valen abandons her post as cook and returns to sit beside Lionel. "I don't think we need to bother Momoko yet. Could just be his meds…" Kassie pulls her hunting knife from its sheath and begins using the tip to pick dirt out from beneath her nails, because that's not dangerous at all.

"Kaedin is sleeping, so you might want to keep it down, he needs his rest," Agnes lies. Knucklehead and the doctor are on patrol somewhere. She shakes her head at Chiron. "Getting closer to populated areas. Don't want to make a lot of noise at this point. If we're being followed, I don't want to bring any more civilians into harm's way." She wets a cloth from her canteen and mops at Jarek's brow gently.

"Sounds like his meds," Lionel agrees quietly toward Kassandra. "He might have too much in his system by now, but without a monitor, don't know how Momo could have known any better." He grimaces a bit before he nudges his shoulder against the fellow Valen. "Let's check the comms again," he offers. "Maybe we'll get through now." Anything to distract them from all the concerns of being trapped in the woods.

"He is? Oh… okay." Jarek seems to just accept whatever she's told him, he grins at her, "I love you!" he says with a goofy smile and tone before chuckling softly to himself. "When's lunch? I need to start cooking, why am I just lying down?" he starts to move again but finds the straps, albeit loosened, still restraining him to his litter. "Hey… someone's not playing fair, I'm supposed to be blindfolded during this game, and since when did we start doing this sort of thing in the woods?" who knew? The gallant, religious knight has rather not so proper stories he could tell…

Kassie eyeballs Lionel for a moment before heaving a sigh. She sheathes her knife, because the idea of trying to get clean when they still have six days' worth of a slog to go is a dumb one anyway. Rather than standing up completely, she merely rises into a crouch and scuttles back to their pile of gear. She has been ever so careful to keep her dented helmet safe should the time come when they can utilize the comms, so she pulls it out and looks it over with a sad little sigh.

"My poor baby," Kassandra murmurs before situating the helmet on her head. She may look a little silly wearing only that piece of armor, but now is not the time to give a damn. "AI, power on. Helmet only."

Chiron nods quietly to Anges, "Right." He says, grimacing a little. He's still not quite gotten over the last battle yet. Moving closer to Agnes and Jarek he says, "He'll be ok. He's tough. The Six watch over him." he gives his Knight a reassuring smile, which turns into a look of confusion as Jarek begins to speak again, but doesn't say anything right away. He'll let Agnes handle that.

Agnes smiles down at Jarek. "I'm cooking, lunch is coming. Just relax, it's nap time, Jay," she murmurs. "I love you too. And I'm going to have so many questions about your ramblings when we get home." She wipes his brow again and nods to Chiron. "You did well in that fight. Don't forget that. You gave as good as you got, which was a sight better than my ratio this time around." She tips her chin towards Kassandra and Lionel. "Go see if you can help them get the comms up."

"Don't give me that look, young lady," Lionel mutters to Kassandra as he picks up his own helmet. He flicks the lion hair away from the interior and also speaks the command to wake up the AI. It chirps at him languidly before it starts to go through the power up sequence. He glances over toward the others, and he offers Agnes a small nod from his place on the log. "Next time, we bring horses," he says, mostly to the fellow Valen.

The world through her viewscreen is muted compared to the naked eye, but the panoramic sprawl of their cozy camping scene is still as nauseating even inside her helmet. She hears the beep and the robotic female voice telling her that the power on sequence is complete. With a sigh, and trying desperately to keep the fluttering of anticipation at bay, she orders: "Open comm, long-range broadcast. Scan for open channels." While waiting for the search to complete, she initiates a closed link with Lionel. "When I get home, I am going to soak in a hot tub for about five days. Then I am going to eat an entire pie all to myself. Then I'm going to find a disposable guy to fuck me silly. All in that order. What about you?"

"Ramblings? I don't ramble… I mean, if I were to ramble, that would mean I was talking a lot, and I don't talk much you know? I guess I could talk more, but then I'd ramble and I don't ramble, cause I just said rambling means talking a lot, and I don't do that… the whole talking a lot bit, or the rambling… sort of the same thing really, since rambling means to talk a lot, do you see what I'm saying?…" Jarek continues this for many many minutes.

"I'll see what I can do." Chiron says in response to Agnes's request. He grabs his own helmet and walks towards Lionel and Kassandra, putting his own helmet on and activating his A.I. Joining in on the conversation he adds, "I'm going to go home, eat one of my mother's pies… maybe two or three. After that… sleep some probably. I don't know."

"Just one pie?" Lionel asks, a hint of audacity in his voice, as he scans his own comm frequencies. It feels like eternity as it loops through all possible channels, coming back with rejection after rejection. The Mane does not look comforted. He glances over toward Jarek and Agnes. "Here's your chance to find out all you ever wanted to know about him, Agnes," he says with a bit of a grin. "He probably won't even remember it tomorrow." He looks back down into his helmet when an abrupt green light flashes. "Whoa, whoa… Kassie… I got a ping… it's weak, but something." He squints at the number sequence, and then shows it to Chiron. "You know the Spine… does that look like a Khar-Mordune channel?"

Agnes does her best to keep Jarek still and quiet and happy as he babbles on. She does everything she can to hide her worries from the man. "If you get in contact on the comms with anyone, have them bring horses, please," she implores Lionel.

"Oh! Right, guess what?" Jarek says to no one inparticular, his light and happy smile suggesting something equally light and cheery, "Thousands of people were massacred, and we even watched over a dozen more fall to their knees and get slaughtered as we ran away with our tails between our legs." It's a long moment as that reality hands in the air before he starts to cry slight, repenting to his beloved Six for just watching as their faithful were taken by the heretics.

Kassandra snorts quietly, watching with a sense of growing disappointment as her AI cycles through a full channel scan. "Just one pie, or I'll have to work out more which means climbing out of the tub - and that's not going to happ — huh?" A spit second before Lionel's discovery, Kassie can see in her own display that she, too, has found a channel. "I got it here too, Li. At this point I don't care if it's Mare Maris. I just want out of here." But, like a good little Valen girl, she waits with fidgety impatience for Chiron to identify the channel before they overload it with a distress call.

Chiron leans in to look at the number sequence. He tilts his head to the side and begins to say, "2… 5… 6… 0… 0… 1… Oh gods, it is! It's Khar-Mordune!" He exclaims, not finishing the number sequence. "We've found them!" He begins to clutch at his chest some, shouting still isn't something he can really do yet. "ow…" He says finally, staying quiet.

"We succeeded in our mission," Lionel says toward Jarek while he waits for Chiron to see if he recognizes the channel frequency. "We would have died if we held our ground, Young Lord, which would have only added our own numbers to the thousands that perished…" There is a certain tightness in his voice that suggests he is holding back his own emotions in those words. "Mourn their loss, but please, Sir… we did not retreat with our tail between our legs. We are not cowards." The Mane releases a whooshing breath before he casts a glance toward Chiron. He offers him a ghost of a smile before he draws the helmet up to his face a bit. "Connect to 2-5-6-0-0-1." Then there is a soft beep. "This is Sir Lionel Keats of the Caravan, requesting response…" And then he waits.

"We are needed to continue the fight, Jarek," Agnes murmurs. "The Six would not wish us to die in a battle that could not be won, but the Sage guides us to fight again another day, with better odds and more of our fellows with us. Our mission was to close the gate, we saved thousands more by succeeding," she assures him in soft tones. She tries to keep him quiet while the comms are up.

Kassandra has had this conversation once already, and although she glances to Jarek through her viewscreen, she is much too focused on the comm to add in her thoughts. "Connect to open comm. Transmission silence." She holds her breath in anticipation, obviously wishing to listen in on the line but not to be overheard lest she interrupt and garble their distress call. "Please answer," she whispers, rising up onto her knees and curling her hands into fists she then presses against her thighs.

The young lord continues to ball and repent to the gods, there's more at work here than just guilt over the loss of a few dozen lives, even a few thousand. He doesn't put names or words to the many things that all knights lock within their hearts, the fears, pains, and griefs that no knight can fight with weighing down their hearts, things that anyone who routinely faces their own death would fight to keep hidden and safeguarded. He slowly works himself out, breathing shallow but steady as he seems to relax into a light snooze.

Chiron does his best to ignore Jarek for now, but he's doing a bad job of it. Breathing in deep he says, trying to move on. "Did you get anything, Lionel?"

Lionel casts a glance toward Kassandra before he focuses on his helmet once more. He waits for what seems like an eternity once more for a response, and then he hears through a crackle of feedback, "Lie! It's Jere. *pause* "You don't call, you don't write. And you go camping without me?" *sigh* "We're coming your way, with medical supplies, food, water, and help." That sends a smirk across Lionel's features and he casts a glance toward Agnes. "We have a group coming to intercept us, Agnes." He turns his head down into his helmet once more. "Yes… because we all know my greatest wish is to go camping without you, Jere." He sighs. "Don't suppose you brought a horse or six with you? We have some seriously injured that are going to need more than field medic patching."

"Thank the Six," Agnes murmurs softly. With Jarek asleep again, she rises and puts her boots back on. "I'm going to get some more firewood. Keep an eye on Young Lord Saimhann for me, Chiron?" She moves to squeeze Lionel and Kassandra's shoulders in turn, as a silent thank you. Then she's into the trees.

Kassandra gasps at the unexpected sound of someone else's voice, recognizing Jeremy almost immediately. Her expression turns from pensive to a wide grin, and she orders her AI to record the message — for posterity's sake. She lifts her helmet and shoves it back on her skull, still able to hear the comm but also gazing at the group with wonderment. "So, help is on the way, guys. I would hug you, but I don't like touching."

Chiron smiles as he hears the voice though the comm. "I can put out for Kassandra." he says, too excited to notice the double entendre he's just said. "We've got some pretty badly wounded, Sir Jarek is the worst off."

Again, Lionel's helmet starts talking: "The terrain's too rough for horses, Lie. But we have stretchers, and plenty of people to help carry you all back to safety." That makes the Mane scoff. He immediately talks into his helmet once more, "I really hate your home, Jere." Then he looks over toward Kassie. "Alright… no horses… we get to hoof it." Was that a pun? If it was, it was an awful pun.

Kassandra stares at Chiron for a moment before barking out a laugh, a harsh sound of amusement. "Right." The sound of an incoming transmission draws her attention away, and she holds up a hand in an automatic gesture of 'please shut up now.' Her brow furrows as she catches what sounds like a denial of horses, which is just about enough to really make her fume. "Tell him I hate his home too, damn it. What about really big domesticated cats or something? Giant bunny? Elephant-sized hawks? ARGH! I hope there's someone there willing to carry me home."

Chiron closes his eyes and places a hand on his forhead, blushing some. "I can't believe I just said that…" He shakes his head softly. "I think that our home is fine, Jere. Don't listen to these two." He just stares at Lionel and rolls his eyes. That was a terrible joke.

"You love my home," Lionel's helmet says, "You hate the mountains." Lionel grins toward Kassandra before he speaks into his helmet once more. "Sir Kassandra would also like me to inform you that she hates your home." There is an exaggerated pause before he smirks. "No, no… I've thought about it, and I definitely think that The Spine is trying to kill me." He lets Chiron cut in with his own reply as he speaks to Kassie. "Don't worry, Jere is at least good at this scouting thing. He'll get us back just fine."

Kassandra can only roll her eyes along with Chiron, but a faint grin plays about her mouth. The relief of knowing that in a few days' time they'll meet up with a rescue party is enough to keep her complacent for now, until a question comes to her mind. "Wait, should we stay put or move in their direction?"

"That's a good question, Kass." Chiron says to the knight. "I don't know what's better, keeping Jarek stationary, or moving him closer to the scouting party so he can get treated faster." He looks over at the sleeping form of Jarek and frowns again. "Anybody else we might know who's with Jere?"

Lionel frowns. His shoulders tighten up a bit before he leans back over his helmet once more. "Jere, should we stay where we are? Which way are you heading? We're concerned about continuing to move our wounded, but staying out here prolongs exposure." See, he's not just pretty! He has brains too! He waits for the response, glancing over at the others.

Again, Lionel's helmet crackles to life: "Unless one of your wounded is in danger of bleeding out from being moved, I would suggest continueing towards us, but perhaps slow your pace. Stopping is bad in that it can make you easier to attack, and take you longer to get medical treatment," says a woman's voice — Elodie Iah for those who know her. Jere follows up with, "I agree with Lady Elodie. Keep coming toward us, even if it's slow. We'll meet you as soon as we can."

A single sliver of disappointment penetrates the temporary euphoria of an imminent rescue, and Kassandra has to look away for a moment to collect her thoughts while the others wait for a response. Instead of sitting on her duff listening to a very slow conversation, she shuffles forward on her knees to rest beside the fire in reach of the makeshift spit. Taking over cooking duties is enough to occupy her mind, especially since one side of the venison slab is beginning to look a little blackened; the comm is a definite distraction.

The sound of a particular voice beckons Kassie's attention, and she darts a glance with raised eyebrows toward Lionel. "Elodie is there?" Maybe one of her brothers decided to come along.

"That sounds like sound advice. Jarek I think is stabilized for the most part. Momoko did a pretty good job." Chiron says, nodding to Lionel.

Lionel shrugs toward Kassie. "I suppose so… don't remember ever meeting her." He thinks about that for a moment before he shakes his head, finally speaking into the helmet. "Give us your coordinates, we are heading toward you." He then looks up toward Chiron and Kassandra once more. "We will take the fastest path to the, assuming they will do the same for us… we should meet up faster."

"Chiron, watch over supper, will you? Just turn it so it doesn't burn any more," Kassie requests of the lad before rising up from her knees to stretch her arms toward the sky. "Tell them we will break camp before dawn and set out again. I will go find Sir Agnes and deliver this news and relieve her of guard duty. Tell Jere — " Kassie stops for a moment as something catches in her throat. She coughs to clear it, shaking her head a bit. "We'll move as fast as we can."

"Sure thing, Kass." Chiron says, walking over to the cooking meat. He's smiling rather big, it's a happy thing to be back in contact with civilization.

Lionel looks mostly distracted as the helmet in his lap remains silent. He glances up toward Kassandra as she announces her wish to go on patrol, and he nods his head a bit. "I'll go with you, Kass." He sets his helmet aside so that they don't bring a noise box with them. He grabs his sword, slinging it across his back before he steps up to the woman to join her in a traipse through the woods.

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