Log:Better Living Through Chemistry

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Better Living Through Chemistry
Characters  •   Cinder  •  KissThisThen  •
Location  •  Sanctuary - Garden - The Farm
Date  •  2019-11-12
Summary  •  Oppy change later when not at work

Cinder is about. Loitering. He'd climbed out of someone's Tree House and hasn't left. He's lingering around the herbs, sniffing different ones for what seems like his own mild amusement. He has a satchel hanging across his body. Paper and pencil and charcoal live there. His fingertips are smudged with black. He looks happy in the quiet around the plants. It can be noisy among his own caste.


Charcoal is something produced by some of the Savvy from slow, de-oxygenated burns under mud. KissThisTHen once worked on them, during his apprenticeship, but now he is actually doing something few get to see him do. He is relaxing. He is sitting under a series of okra vines, which have been grown up in a trelised system near the herbs. Okra is useful for binding a few things together, and while it is slimy, sometimes people with bad stomachs need that kind of food. The gardener is wearing his boots and gloves - just in case - and has his hand hoe nearby. The only other clothing is an apron which is wrapped around his skinny, oddly coloured form. He is talking to himself, low-voiced, or perhaps he is talking to the okra.


Visa arrives from Sanctuary - Prime - Main Concourse.


Visa heads towards Sanctuary - Prime - Main Concourse <PT>.


"Hmm?" Cinder says, replying to KTT's muttering. "You can fry it, you know? Okra. Something I picked up in the Kitchens. It's less slimy. You can get the kids to eat it sometimes that way." He starts to move towards KTT. "I know I've asked this before but...aren't you worried about the bare skin? The lighter parts, in particular, getting...irritated?"


Ahh, okra. It appears that KTT is talking to it, saying "Well, mallows always do this, I suppose sweets, if we had. If we can get those. Sugar beets to stop misbehaving, that leaf wilt. Maybe if. We innoculate you at the roots -" And he then pauses, but because the plant is talking back to him, he puts his hands on the ground, and he says "I want to be connected to you. If that means getting a thorn or two, or sunburn, that's fine, I'll just use some spikeplant. I wonder why that feels cold and nice all the time. Thankyou for thinking of me, but I think...I'm tired. Of looking like something I'm not. I don't feel, you know, as if I'm. Well. This. Useless animal. Not on the inside. On the inside, I feel tendrils, the hyphae reaching out. I feel like an everything, instead of a single thing."


"Two ways to look at that." Cinder says, without hesitation. "The Citadel can feel like a machine. We are all gears, bolts, belts, and pipes. Chugging along. Surviving for three quarters of a century in the Dead World. And that idea has merits." He stops at a distance from KTT, observing the space. "There is another way. The way a flower turns to face the sun. Vines twist and turn in the soil for water, nutrients. They all reach for what they need most. Are you reaching for something, Kay?"


As long as Cinder is at a distance, KTT does not react overmuch to him. The Gilded Cage is busy, the Garage is busy, and he has spent considerable time in both. He scratches beside his nose, to avoid rubbing at the new scarification starting on his shoulder. The piece on his chest is almost complete, a large, branching tree with roots that sink down under the apron "Machines are a dead end," he mutters the heresy, low to the ground, the moss and the green "Just. Too hard. Except some. The ones we power, and...yes. You know better. The roots go down, and everything is gradually formed. Well, of course - purification of the world. It's going to be Green once more." He adds "It would be nice to be a tree, though. I'm pretty sore."


Cinder squats and then just sits on a patch of clear soil. "Machines are a dead end. They are finite. We can recycle but slowly, the Dust will swallow it all. Plants. People. They live. And the world can't be...like this forever. It wasn't before. Life is cycles, yeah? Repetition. Patterns." He leans forward on his folded legs. "Have I ever told you about Karyukai?" Drak, his brother, barely shuts up about this supposed Utopia but Cinder? No. Never a word from him about it. "It means...uh, flower and willow world, I think. Not sure of the language. It's somewhere out there. There is water and food and meat that isn't...vermin. Big ones you can raise. The children are born healthy and hearty. And it's green, Kay. So green. That is where my parents came from."


KissThisThen startles, noticably, as from his point of view a human just appears. He watches Cinder, his eyes narrowing before they open again. One of them has a patch of white begining to move through it - the pigment missing from the coloured area. He says "I can do a lot to stop it. Slow it. Hugelkultur, and berms, and...but I need more space. This system is very small." Frustration enters his voice, briefly "It is too small for big animals like us. Small ones, yes, over centuries, can grow it. But we're too big."

And then he sahkes his head. No. He does not know about Karyukai, and then he says "...how do you _know_ about this, Clinker? Your parents come from it?" He hesitates "Green? As in, there are multiple species?"


Cinder closes his eyes. "My Mama and Papa used to tell us stories to put us to sleep." His breathing slows as he recalls it. "Karyukai. Mountains. Green. Space. Water. Children who are not destined to die before they have lived. They came from there or..maybe their parents before. That is unclear. How they left. Why they would leave. I don't know. But, Drak believes it and I...get flashes of memory...not of that place but...maybe landmarks? Maybe a way back." His breath hitches and his eyes open, wide and terrified for a moment. He takes a few deep breaths. "S-Sorry." He's trembling, sweaty. "Even if it's gone or not as grand...it's something. Something."


KissThisThen says "Why are you sorry?" It is quieter in here. There is the sound, higher up, of a mister briefly firing. It makes the area cooler, quieter. Not quite as pleasant as the Gilded Cage, but honestly quite good. He says "That sounds. Good. I was born here." He purses his lips and then he says "I would never leave a place like that. I think I'd grow into it. Put my hands into proper dirt. This here is very sterile. The bigger the system, the more robust. Drak?" He purses his lips, the corner of which is turning white, and then he relaxes back, putting his shoulders against a wall. He sighs in deeply, and he lays his hands in the apron in his laps "I can imagine that."


"I don't know what I'm sorry about." Cinder looks up at the mister and sniffles. "I was born in the Dust. My parents never said or I don't remember where they were born. Drak didn't recall any of this, at first. Who or why would you leave? Unless, maybe they left before the world died. I-I come from a tribe. Came. I'm pretty sure Drak and I are the only ones left. Maybe a group struck out and got trapped. That's all speculation...I prefer facts." He sniffs. "Somewhere in between are my dreams and memories. Not proven fact but not disproven."


KissThisThen watches Cinder react. He himself is rather walled off. He is not the most...emotive of people, not any more. He has learned not to be. Now, though, he says "...me too. I prefer facts. Did you know that most plants can sense us, in their own way?" There is a silence, stretching out. Before he says, because at heart he is what he is? "...I believe you."


Cinder pouts and sniffles again. "Thank you. People think Drak is crazy and he...stretches a bit. I support him but...it's better to keep some parts of you buried, I think. And my true belief in that place? It's deep. But it's...all I have." He lays back into the soil. "A moment, please? Just until I stop hearing screams..." The last statement is mutters softly as he covers his face with his arm.


"I do...not have opinions on 'crazy'," says KissThisThen. At least, not on Drak being crazy. He is sitting with his back against the wall, wearing only an apron - and his gloves and work boots. His skin is marked with mud and dirt here and there but he generally smells better than most. Probably has fairly healthy bacteria and so forth going for him. As Cinder goes quiet, so does he, murmuring "He thinks that everyone gets weird echos. Are they like him?"


Kitten comes traipsing along the pathway toward the pair, and they're in an ivory broomstick skirt and the blue top they traded for yesterday. The clothes are arguably clean, and they're a lot nicer than the tattered vinyl dress they usually wear. They're in big stompy boots, but they step lightly. "Kissy, Cinder." They quiet as they notice Cinder's having a moment, and they give him some space. "I'm taking a daily constitutional."


"It must be because they were going to be savvy, because they probably know a _lot_ of words," says KissThisThen, and he rubs at his temples, and then he says to Kitten "You look very nice." He? Looks pretty much naked. When he shifts, that apron does _not_ cover anything it should. Then again, when someone just crashes out and lies like he does, it has an odd air of innocence to it. He says "You should get out from the garage to breathe the air here. It's good for your lungs." They are beneath a twining vine of okra that KTT was pruning until he got distracted by talking. Now he is examining it again, very carefully pulling off any leaf-eating insects by hand.


"Are you going to eat those?" Kitten says when they see that KTT is pulling off bugs. "The air isn't great in the Garage," they admit. "Lots of fumes. Doesn't matter. We're not going to be around very long." They look out over the hanging gardens, breathe in deep, and let the air out with a long, gusty sigh. "I remember," they say. "The fish. I remember watching the fish a lot."


"No," says KissThisThen "I was going to -" Recycle everything. It goes into the fish. He pauses, uncertain of what the protocol is here "Do you want to feed the fish?" he ends up splitting it either way, trusting Kitten to snack if they want "It matters," he finally sighs, and he says "Clinker is going to need a moment. We can go toss them into the fish area. All the waste gets taken out and put into the plants, anyway. If we keep going this well, we might be able to add another tank."


Kitten perks up. "Yes! Let's feed the fish." Apparently, the fish getting fed trumps a little extra protein, this time. They hold out their hands to receive the insects. "I like the fish. They always seemed happy, just swimming around, not thinking about the dead world or raiders. Just doing their own fishy thing. It's nice." They continue to give Cinder his space. It's something they can definitely understand.


KissThisThen has folded a corner of his apron to drop the insects into as he tugs them off here and there. He squishes the heads, so they do not run away as he now pops them into Kitten's hands "They're a good sign," he tells the War Child "The pests, I mean. Can't have pests with no crops. Crops will always mean pests. So. IT's a god thing. Helps to show that the cycle is turning, and the Green working out. I don't know if...I think near Bullet Farm the world is pretty dead. Gastown too. Here, it's not so bad. I think their ground is poisoned."


"I had a dream the other night," Kitten says, "that the world was alive, but I couldn't see. I couldn't imagine what it would look like. All that green? In the open?" They shake their head. "Too fragile. That could never be." They look down at the dead bugs. "It wasn't a bad dream, just really confusing." They look toward the fish. "How could they live out there? There wouldn't be enough water."


"There's not enough now. There will be, in thousands of years," says KissThisTHen. He crouches, and he picks up a handful of dust from the ground and he shows it to Kitten, cupped in his hands "In this dust are. Thousands of little animals. Too small to see without lenses, like the ones Ransom uses. If you use them - imagine the reverse of a far-looker on your. Cars. If you use them, you can see the tiny animals. But in the loam of the pants, there are _millions_ of them in the same area. In the area near the fungus farm, there are _tens of millions_. Each one of those tiny animals has water in it. This dust is...it's dead. You can't grow a plant in it. But you can near the fungus farm, and in the pots above. With that plant is even more water. Maybe as much as. A drop. Once there are trees, that drop is...it's buckets of water. Once there are a thousand tees, sometimes there is moss, and. There are animals. Once there are ten thousand, there could be a pond. With fish. And once there are fish, and ponds, and trees, the amount of tiny animals is uncalculable - millions and millions of millions. They have predators too. Bigger ones. And those have predators. And eventually you get up to the size of rats. And vermin. The dead world needs to be colonised. Carefully. Bit by bit. The water goes around in a cycle, and so does our lives. When you die, you will go to Valhalla. But when I die, I will spread out. A million, million tiny lives. And eventually, they will compress, and move. There will be water. In thousands of years. I will be a tree."


Kitten thinks about KTT's words, and they give the dust due consideration. "That's a long time," they say, "to become a tree. I used to wonder what will happen to my bones when I don't need them anymore. I feel better knowing they're going to become yours. Maybe someday they'll be a tree, too. Or does it only happen to Reapers? Should my bones be left in the Wasteland, do you think?"


KissThisThen spreads his hands, and the dust flutters away, again. Soil is important, dust is not - he differentiates between 'soil' and 'dirt'. He says "Yes, a very long time. It is very easy to break things. But fixing takes a long, long time." His lips come into a quiet smile, and he then says "How long do you want to wait? But one day, my garden will cover the Wasteland. So you will be a tree, anyway. Or. A river. Or a tiny animal. Or a bird. There are still birds." Well, there are still emus. Emus are _hard_ to kill and incrediably good at surviving in places with little water. He starts to walk towards the aquaponics area "Or well, we can grind you up for fertiliser here."


Kitten follows KTT, hands full of bugs. "I wouldn't mind being a bird eventually," they say, "but I think, for now, I want to feed my people. You could grind me into fish food, and the fish could eat me, and then they would nourish the soil, and plants would grow, and my friends would eat me." This seems to please them. "Maybe some of my bigger bones could be turned into a gear shift or steering wheel. People would say who is this, and someone would say 'I have no idea' because it would be years from now."


"Hey, Kitten." Cinder's up! He's clammy and lacks his usual glow but he manages a smile. "The blue top. I'll tell Maylis I saw you wearing it and it's lovely." He pauses a moment. "I know the science. We die. Other beings thrive. Life cycle." He pauses and swallows. "We use our dead to feed us later but I'm not sure I will be a tree or a vine. Or...anything. Anything but dirt." He's dressed in what was once a clean gray shirt and brown pants paired with black boots closer the ones the War Kids wear, only less worn. But now, he's stained along his back, where he'd laid in the soil. He is wearing a satchel across his body. This is where his art supplies live on the go. Paper, pencils, charcoal. "You mentioned dreams of green. I dream of green. It looks like this but repeated, sorta. Blends with my parent's stories and I can almost see it." He sighs. "I doubt Kat would want your bones to be a gear shift."


"Unless they were chromed and engraved," says KissThisThen, who pauses "That's right, you wanted dye," something occurs to him "I have what you need, sort of. I mean. Well. Rubia tinctorum, the rose madder or common madder or dyer's madder, madder than. Madder than a War Child." He pauses, and then recalls - because what he reads stays with him "Sumac and oak galls, calf's blood, sheep's dung, oil, soda, alum, and a solution of tin. I don't know what sumac is, or a calf. We don't have oaks. But I can get a colour out of it by treating it. Though thereis also. I mean. There is also beetroot. Which is probably less dangerous to put on your...privates." He scratches his scalp, and then he turns his head and he sasy to Cinder "No, you won't be dirt. Too much nitrogen. You will be living soil. You will purify what is around you." He sighs, though, at the idea of green. His eyes close, and he rubs at the new scarification on his shoulder. Poor Cinder. He gets a view of skinny Reaper ass.


Kitten, for that matter, comments, "I can see your butt." Once they get to the fish, Kitten dumps the bugs into the water and watches with glee at the feeding frenzy that commences, brief as it is. "Yay!" They brush their hands off so each little segmented leg and stray wing goes into the water. Then they watch the fish resume their normal swimming about. "Yeah, I should think about what Kat wants," they decide. "I don't want them to be unhappy. Plus, I mean, bones aren't the greatest building material. You don't want a gearshift to snap in half when you're going fast. Maybe if my bones were made of steel."


Cinder looks up and away politely. "A bone can be reenforced. Coated in metal. A rod run through. Exo, my friend down there talks about all the ways to make trophies. Some from bones. It's pretty interesting actually." Beat. "Calf is...meat. Sheep...wool." Another beat. "I can't remember how I know that." He shakes it off. "Well, Kitten, you and Kat will decide what to do and we'll see your remains are respected. You will get your wishes."


"You can see the rest of me too, right?" asks KissThisTHen of Kitten, a little cautiously, but he actually smiles as the fish all come up and feed, zipping here and there "...yes," he says "Fish." Only companions and those with Lux actually get to _eat_ the fish. Or maybe a very sneaky Reaper every so often. KissThisThen says "Oh!" to Cinder and touches the side of his head "I will always remember that now. High Sign, Clinker, I need to just check on the spray systems - I will be back." He has work, and he does his work - but he does it slow, sore-jointed, sore-muscled. Not the Sickness. Just old damage.


Kitten grins. "I see you," they tell KTT. They wave as he heads off. "I'm just going to watch the fish for a little," they say. Then they tell Cinder, "I told Kissy he can have my bones, but I'll make sure to tell him he can't do anything with them that will make Kat unhappy. I don't really care what happens to my parts. I won't need them. In Valhalla, I'll have a new body."


"Is that how it works?" Cinder asks of Kitten, after some nervous moments watching KTT leave. He can't help his expressive eyes and clenching of his jaw. He doesn't speak on whatever is bothering him. He just turns back to Kitten. "You get a new body in Valhalla? That's kind. Very kind afterlife for a world so harsh. Who goes to Valhalla? Just war kids?" Cinder can't not know the belief system. For once, he explains himself. "I-I like to hear people talk...talk about their passions. Beliefs. Knowledge. Expertise. No two people tell a story the same way...twice, even. I want to hear you tell it, Kitten. If you don't mind indulging me."


"Kids who die in battle," Kitten says with the conviction of the faithful. "No one wants to die of the sickness. That's a medicore death, and you just rot. But if you die in battle, defeating an enemy, and you're witnessed, you awaken in Valhalla with a new body. No more sickness, no more feeling bad. You live, you die, you live again. And it's green! Oh, you'd better believe it is, and there are no rations. You can get as much cake as you want, and all the water." Oh, how Kitten's eyes shine as they talk about what's to come. If they die in battle, that is. "I hope there's another run soon. Rebar is looking pale these days."


Cinder listens to Kitten describe War Kid religion with a wide eyed curiosity of someone hearing it for the first time. "Thank you. Exo tells it differently. Same conviction but with more fervor. Interesting." Kitten and Cinder have fed the fish and are now chatting at the water's edge. KTT is somewhere, fussing with water systems. "I don't believe in much of anything so...it's neat. If I wasn't so scared of getting sick or being out...there. It sounds like a good death. Purposeful." But the way his voice wobbles, it breaks his heart.


Kitten tilts their head, birdlike, as they watch Cinder. They're rarely lucid, but they're not blind. "It's a good death," they say quietly. "But not every War Kid has a half-life. Most of us, but some get old enough to become Imperators. That's a good life. Not as good as Valhalla, but it's not bad." They run a hand along their neck, toying with the chain choker they wear. "I don't even have tumors. I check every day." They awkwardly lay a hand on Cinder's shoulder. "I'm not very sick," they confess in a whisper.


Faustina strides into the area, gaze travelling over the workers and the crops, seeming to catalogue and add to some sort of tally in her head. She comes to a halt as she spots the war child and the companion, neither of whom precisely belong in this particular spot and she seems to consider their presence.


Cinder is very good at pulling his pieces back together. Kitten's awkward touch helps. He pats their hand, takes a deep breath and smiles. "Old War Kids scare me. When you are supposed to die young, watch out for the old ones. Scary." He shudders and laughs. He leans in and whispers back. "I'm not fully convinced you are Sick, Kitten. If you get a tumor, I will draw a nice little face for it. I don't expect I will have to though." Faustina seems to be sensed by Cinder before he sees her. But it's not her his eyes fall to. It's the Tattler in her wake, who peers behind Faustina into the Farm before vanishing. Faustina may or may not have been aware of the girl. She's a sneaky kid. Tall, skinny thing with thick red curls that have been braided back and dark eyes, wide as saucers. Cinder looks to Faustina. "I came to deliver a commissioned work of art and started chatting." His tone is flat. Dead.


Kitten smiles softly at Cinder. "I'm always wary of the old ones," they say. They tap their temple and say, "I'm sick up here. It's all noise and words, and urges. I can't stop. But I get to build engines, and we live to keep the V8 revving. I miss Kat, but I can see her whenever I want. I can see you." They hug Cinder. "I won't let anyone draw on my tumors but you," they say. Then they look at Faustina. "Hello." They don't explain their presence here. Like the animal they're named for, they go where they want.


Faustina's gaze flicks after the girl, or at least in the direction Lara went, so perhaps she was aware, then back to Cinder. "I did not ask for a reckoning of your time or presence. It was merely an anomaly I needed to incorporate." Still, she moves in the direction of the pair, eyes now resting on Kitten. "Do you know where your tools are or do I need to find them again?"


KissThisThen has been working on the misters. He is a slow worker, too - not sick, but something is wrong with him, and he moves only with caution up there, stepping from one platform to another.


Cinder looks up, towards KTT, watching and chewing his lip. He says, "You didn't ask but I know how you all think." He shoots Faustina a mild sort of glare. "Kay? You got it up there? I can...hold a tool, or something."


Kitten pats their hip confidently, but there is no pipe wrench there. Alarm sharpens in Kitten's eyes, but then they say, "Wait, it's with my dress, in the Garage. Since I was going out looking fancy in my new outfit, I thought Wrenchy could use a day off. It's a good wrench." They twirl, and their broomstick skirt flares. "See how pretty? I'm rubbing elbows with the fancy people today. They'll tease me when I get back to the Garage, but I don't care."


Faustina attention shifts back to Cinder and she tilts her head to one side. "Do you?" Still his call towards KTT shifts her focus in that direction. "He may not be able to hear you. His ears seem to have been damaged." Kitten gets a nod of acknowledgement.


KissThisThen does not react to the call, but. Well. He does finish, slowly climbing back down a knotted rope that has been twisted together. He uses the flat of his feet on it, his shoes off for the moment. Safer this way. Then he lands on the ground, and he starts tugging the heavy gardening boots back on. Sorry, Faustina, dude is only wearing an apron and a lot of scarification. When he straigthens up, he notes tha Cinder and Kitten are still there. He has a very solemn face - no smiles - but his shoulders are relaxed. Wait, Faustina. A pause, and even KTT does that mental calculation of: Am I doing anything naughty right now?


"I spend more time with Monitors than you all do with one another. I'm not so prideful as to call myself an expert though." Cinder only seems to relax when KTT is on firm ground and this changes his entire demeanor. He sighs. "Faustina, I apologize for being so impolite." He pauses. "I'm having an...off putting afternoon and it seems to have an effect on my manners. I sincerely apologize." And Cinder sounds, very much, like he means it. Meets her eyes, hand on his heart, contrite posture. "Also, Lara startled me. It's been a while since I spotted her."


Kitten wilts a little as their twirl gets a mere nod. They smooth their skirt and say, "I'm trying to cheer Cinder up. Which is funny because usually he's the one cheering me up." They look at the fish, then. "Look," they say, and when they put a finger in the water, one of the fish comes up to nibble at it. They jerk their hand away and giggle.


Faustina notes that KTT has made it to the ground safely and then turns back to Cinder, studying him for a moment. "No apology was necessary. We watch each other, as well. I do not care about your manners, only your conduct." There's a small pause. "Other Monitors may care more about manners and demeanor."

She glances towards Kitten and the fish. "I have been told they are eating the dead layers on the outside of our skin when they do that." And speaking of Lara, the red-haired girl sneaks out from between the rows of crops and runs over to Faustina, tugging on her sleeve and then whispering something to her when Faustina bends down. The copper's eyes narrow a little and she nods, then says, "Good to know. Please keep an eye on that for me." And the girl pauses just a moment, looking at Cinder and then gives him a quick nod before darting off again, back into the crops.


KissThisThen stretches his feet out, digs his toes into the dust under the pots of soil, and then adjusts his apron. He moves over to Kitten, having retrieved something while he was up there. It looks like grated beetroot. Because it is "Your dye," he tells them "If it dries out, just add a drop or two of water. It won't be permanent. For permanent, I have the madder, but I don't think that is a good idea." And then he says "The fish think anything touching the surface of the water is food." He glances at Cinder, across at the child, and then back at Cinder. He says "Hmm. I was going to talk to you too."


Cinder spreads an arm to Kitten and will hug, if allowed. "Even Fortunates have bad days. But you are a joy, Kitten. Always." And Cinder is fine. Until Lara looks at him and nods. Cinder was looking a little pale and clammy earlier. He was sniffling a bit too. Lara's dark eyes meeting his? He wasn't prepared for that. His face flushes. Breath quickens. "I should see a Healing Hand. I keep...I--my heart...." It's pounding. A keen eye could see it in his neck nearly. "And this sweat and...I'm cold but not--" If Cinder isn't hanging in The Farm, he's with the healing hands. He doesn't complain but he is seen often. "Kay? Later, yeah? Kitten...I'll say Hi to Kat." And he starts out, a little wobbly, but steady enough.


Kitten is quick to join Cinder, and to hug him. Then they step back and frown in worry. "You gotta keep your heart beating," they instruct him. "Tell Kat I love her." They watch Cinder go, fretting a little. They're in an ivory broomstick skirt and a blue top, looking quite clean at the moment. As they watch Cinder, they tell Faustina and KTT, "He's very dear. When we go out, we go out for people like Cinder, so that they can stay in and be safe."


Faustina's attention is back on Cinder, now. She considers his reaction. "Breathe deeply. In on a count of five, hold, then out on a count of five. If that does not work, a visit to them may be in order." She nods slightly to Kitten. "He sires useful children and improves morale."


Xavier comes jogging up, out of breath, dressed much as yesterday, but the lower loop of the head and shoulder wrap has been hastily looped showing more of the Cheist's face. They look a lot younger than they actually are, their classically handsome face has barely seen the sun since they were very young and they have soft fuzz like woman or a young boy where a man their age would have shaveable whiskers. They have left off their glves in their haste and the old and new burn scars on their hands are visible as they hold out a small ceramic covered pot towards Kitten, eyes averted and cheeks flushed from the jog or perhaps omething else, "I made you bleach paste. I saw you all and came to catch you. Hi Cinder. Kitt. Sis."


KissThisThen narrows his eyes as Cinder looks weak. And then he says "Another time, then, Clinker." After all, he can always _hire_ the man, if he really, really needs to talk to him, though it might be a bit of a waste of Lux just for a chat. Regardless, he eases back, and he says "See you." A bit of a nod at Kitten, and brief embarassment crosses his own face "I admire. The War Children," he mumbles, suddenly "You know I do. I did try." Cinder does look sort of miserable though, so the mostly naked Reaper limps after him and reaches for a hand. He grabs it, hard, in his own gloved one, then hesitates suddenly. His gloves are damp, and dirty, and his grip was white knuckled "...uh." Faustina's response is more useful. KTT just ends up going "ERm. Urp." He opens his mouth again_, and then he stares as Xavier arrives. Now Xavier is unusual outside the Savvy area. But this _is_ the Savvy area - and not too far from where KTT sleeps.


"Bleach." Cinder says before taking those deep breathes as Faustina suggested. He startles at KTT's sudden presence and with all around him, he starts to laugh. His color starts to go back to normal. "Thank you. All of you. I can be knocked off balance. I'm okay." But he does take a seat back into the dirt. No laying down. Just sitting. Breathing. Grinning.


"We're all useful in our way," Kitten tells Faustina. "Even when we die, we're useful." They trail their fingertips in the fish tank, and they grin as their fingers get nibbled. "My hands are clean today," they say. Then they glance at Xavier and says, "You'll have to come to my cubby in the Garage so I can give you Lux. I didn't bring any with me. Just my clothes, and I'm not taking those off. Not today, anyway."


Faustina nods once as Cinder's equilibrium seems to be restored and then looks to her brother, doing that almost automatic scan she does, making sure he's in one piece and has no further damage. His explanation for his presence causes a tiny relaxation of tension from her shoulders, though does not stop her studying him. "I believe Cinder said, yesterday, that he would cover the cost of the bleach." This seems to be addressed to Kitten, but she's still busy with her Xavier inventory.


Xavier looks worriedly in KTT's direction, "But you're better here, Kitt. That life was killing you. It was a terrible waste of resources to misalocate you where you were." They blink at Cinder, "Are you all right?"

X nods solemnly, "We are all useful." They go red to the ears at faustina's talk of stripping down. It is a while before they are calm enough to speak, "I don't... I mean I don't need lux and I gt the shirt and I don't mind really. I mn there's plenty of urine available and we generally have some reducing." They hastily add, "But I could come? I mean, if you wanted." None of the scars are fresh, the last being from a small splash incident nearly a month ago. Xavier is defintely not bleeding or on fire. They flash their sister a smile, "It's a very pretty shirt. I like purple."


"I said that." Cinder's art satchel is moved to his lap. He rustles around in there until a handful of baubles are offered. Cinder doesn't look twice at the amount in his palm. But Xavier is turning it down and back they go into the bag. "Right, the shirt. We're settled then. Maylis made the shirt for me originally but that shade of purple isn't my color. But, it is your color and as luck would have it, your size preference. I'm fine now." And then, Cinder just is. Acid swallowed. Mood lifted. Smile bright.


Kitten looks over at KTT and Cinder, and their features soften. "You can come see me if you want," Kitten says, "but you have to climb, and it's loud, and the air is poisonous. It's pretty great, though, and I have a curtain on my cubby so I don't have to look at everything all the time." They hold out a hand to receive the bleach. "I got beetroot today too so I can dye my bits and pieces."


Faustina seems to have finally assured herself that Xavier is unharmed and her attention finally shifts again, though it's to scan over the crops around them and the workers up on the various platforms and trellises. There's a flicker of hr gaze towards Kitten and then back away again, watching the movement around the garden.


Xavier smiles at cider, "It's perfect, but far to nice to wear to work." Where it might get horrifying things on it or part of it burned. "I'm saving it for special occations. Every one wants to be pretty now and then." They study their Sister, "you are always on duty." Their tone is sad and loving.

Their face falls, "I'm no a great climber. Is it very high?" They look a little sideways at Kitten, "I have a little hut. It's small, but you can really smell the water and the growing things at night. Bits and pieces? It's for your clothes?" Their fingertips, nearly as soft as a companion's, briefly brush Kitten's palm as they set the pot of bleach paste in Kitten's hand.


Cinder listens quietly, watches and winds up blinking, confused. "Red...bits? Bleach is harsh on the bits. Don't learn like I did." Huh? "Interesting how both of you fancy'd up. Kitten and Ecks. Looking lovely in Maylis' handiwork too." Cinder looks terribly pleased with himself.


Drak arrives from Sanctuary - Prime - Main Concourse.


Kitten looks X in the eye as they take the bleach. With a crooked smile, they say, "Oh no, it's not for my clothes. It's for my stick shift. I'm gonna make it pink. The bleach is for my hair." To Faustina and Cinder, they say, "No bleach on my skin, just the beetroot. I wonder if it'll taste like beets." The bleach pot disappears into a pocket. "If there's beetroot left over, I might do my hair, too."


"I am not always on duty. I sleep and I eat, but every hour I take away from work is an hour during which things may be missed and then I may not see a problem coming." It has the feeling of something Faustina has had to explain too many times. "There is always more work to be done, so why should I not be doing it?" There is a pause. "We have already discussed the importance of being very careful about where the bleach is used on one's body. And I am becoming concerned with how many people have experience putting it somewhere ill-advised."

The group is gathered near one of the fish ponds by the area where okra is grown. Cinder sitting on the ground. Kitten and Xavier are right by the fish pond. Faustina is a few steps away.


Xavier looks back and forth between Cinder and Kitten, not uite catching on, but saying, "Chemical burns hurt." Xavier the Chemist is in brown caftan style homespun. The lower part of their head and shoulder wrap has been hastily looped showing most of the Chemist's face. They look a lot younger than they actually are: their classically handsome face has barely seen the sun since they were very young and they have soft fuzz like woman or a young boy where a man their age would have shaveable whiskers. They have left off their glves in their haste and the old and new burn scars on their hands are visible.They blush too their ears as Kitten explains buntly. "That... that would be a nasty place for burns." They lick their lips, eyes flicking away like startled fish. They mumble, "It never occured to me... I'm not planning to, sis, I promise."


Another waff of fire passes by, then doubles back, then a handsome fella's face pokes past the doorway which is then followed by that muscly-for-show body of Drak. He's already squinting slightly, eyes sliding between the other three red heads in the room with great suspicion before nodding with Xavier on the topic of whereabouts one might want to slapt he chemicals. "Cures the crotch crabs, though. What are we talking about?"


"Yes. Chemical burns hurt. A, uh, demanding Monitor and I learned...in an unfortunate incident some years ago." Cinder says primly. "No one notices the scar now so, it's alright." Drak's appearance brightens Cinder's expression considerably. "It doesn't cure the crabs, we talked about this! We were discussing how not to hurt yourself while playing with chemicals. And, uh, how awesome I am at matchmaking." He smirks.


"I don't have crotch crabs," Kitten tells Drak. "I'm just going to paint it pink so it'll look snazzy for awhile. Just a few days. Probably won't even show too many people, but I'll know." They pause, then admit, "I'm probably going to show lots of people." They come over to Drak and wrap their arms around him, giving him a squeeze. Then they ask KTT, "Do you want to see it? Once it's done? I mean you did give me the beetroot."


KissThisThen has apparently been talking to the okra again. As Kitten directly asks him something, he then says "What? Of course." He has no idea what he is agreeing to. "Yes. Matchmaking? Who has been making matches?"


Faustina just blinks slowly a few times and then seems to decide that her attention is better spent on watching the rest of the gardens and workers moving among the plants.


Xavier winces at Drak's comment. Suddenly the fish are very, very interesting. They dart a wary look at Cinder, "Who re you trying to match make? Is this about Kitt and my sister?" They are blushig again as Kitten talks abou showing off their bits.


"...but... it's already red... is the bleach to simmer that down to pink? It lasts as long as the hair does, Kitty, I..." Drak starts struggling with Kitten, the teacher in him kicking in but already unsure of where to go with the journey. "The crabs don't turn pink." This seems to be the important lesson that Drak needs to convey and he shrugs to Cinder, "Matchmaker of the finest form. Now don't blush X! Scavengers somehow always end up with various... mmmm..." He glances to the other Fortunates, "...stowaways." THen shrugs as if that should sum it up. Drak is wearing nothing but one worn silken sheet that he just has wrapped about his waste to hang down, held up by a steel chain.


"Oh. I've never done this before. Do you tell the people when you are making the match? Especially if they didn't ask..." Cinder thinks and looks to Xavier. "No. Not Kitten and your sister." That is Cinder's answer, whole and complete. "Drak..." Cinder looks mischievous. Drak brings that out of him. "I was telling KTT about our parents...and their origins."


Kitten presses a finger against Drak's lips. "Shh. Shh. There are no crotch crabs, pink or otherwise. We're just trying to have a whimsical experience, purely for aesthetic reasons. We're just..." They look around at their supposed co-conspirators. "It's for morale. Uplifting. You know what I mean? Eat, drink, and dye your junk, for tomorrow you may be awaited in Valhalla." They pat Drak's cheek. "So shiny. So chrome."


KissThisThen says "I don't understand the point of match making - we're not supposed to have children, so..." He gives a bit of a shrug, frowning lightly, and then he says "What is already red?" Never mind. He peels his gloves off. His hands are more or less clean, given that he has been working with water and the moisture levels today, though his nails are still dirty. He nods to Drak, who is clearly also sensible about clothing. KissThisThen is wearing protective boots and an apron. Nothing else. Even the gloves are in the apron's front pocket now. He has a sharpened hand hoe slung at his hip though. And he says "...High Sign and Comptroller? Er." A pause. As forward looking as he is, he is not sure about _that_. He scratches his chin "No," he agrees with Cinder "Even for morale. Of course. We will be uplifted." Dye your junk? He opens his mouth. He closes his mouth. He does that a few more times "Well," he finally says "Weirder things were done in the Before Times. They put diamonds on it."


Faustina blinks at Xavier. "Which sister?" There's a small pause. And then she adds, "I believe when Xavier says Kitt, he means KissThisThen. There was some confusion around that, yesterday." Another small pause. "Kitten is using the bleach on the hair on their head. They are dying their genitals with the beetroot. I am still not clear why this is being done, but it is a very small waste of resources and seems to be improving their morale, so I have decided to overlook it."


Xavier shakes his head, "Kitt, not Kitten, as Faustina says. That's going to get confusing isnt it? Kitten is... not someone to be abreviated." They are blushing at 'uplifting' now, but gazing at Kitten with undisguised fascination. They sigh, "couldn't even if I wanted to...." They give KTT a quizzical look, "They embedded stones on their... equipment? Wouldn't that hurt?"


The fire in Drak's hair is nothing compared to the fire in his eyes as oon as Cinder brings up their parents. "KTT! SO you've heard already.... about our future. The future. About where we come from and where we will go. Why we will live free, while we can ensure the end to half lives, that every war kid will be pure! The perfection of society... our Utopia. /Your/ Utopia!" These words barely escape and are quickly shut down by Kitten's finger, which has Drak instinctively turning his head a little to envelope their finger with his lips. His eyes are still preaching, though, excitement and then squinting with cunning as the person whose finger he seems to be trying to absently please, he nods slowly. Even as he licks his teeth to get whatever was on Kitten's finger off of his tongue, Drak adds, "What is chrome is reaching a living Valhalla... that is Utopia. That is us." He then stands taller and raises a finger in the air as he responds to KissThisThen, "That which is beautiful need not be told so to be so!" He does also make a slight raise of his brows and a faint 'oh' as Faustina explains the code his own brother was just using. "Wait, bleach and then beetroot or just beetroot?" He then grows firm, cold, calculating as he traps his gaze upon Kitten, "...wait, your morale is low?!" He then solemnly informs Xavier, "Love is pain..."


Cinder looks like the kid who set off a cherry bomb in the toilet. He's covering his mouth to keep from giggling too loudly but even then, as Drak wraps up, he looks to KTT and says, "See the difference between our stories? I told you how I recalled it. Drak..." He grins. "I love my brother." Beat. "This one. Not...the other one..." He swallows and looks to Kitten. "You should show Ecks your results. For the science."


Kitten regards Drak solemnly. "I'm shiny, but my friend Rebar is feeling pretty down. He's getting to the end of his half-life, and I think he's worried he'll die of the sickness. But if I dye it pink, it'll make him laugh." They consider the implications of a living Valhalla. War Kids who are pure. They don't look entirely convinced, but they smile at Drak and say, "It all sounds so nice." Then they tilt their head at Cinder and nod. "They are a scientist," they say. Then, turning to Xavier, they start hiking their skirt. "I guess you'll be needing to see it before the procedure."


"Call me something else if you want. Just not the name I had when I was Fortunate. Or the War Child name, that was bad. 'Kisses' is fine," says KissThisThen "Or whatever. I mean. Oh, well, I don't know? Maybe." He shrugs at the idea of vajazzling "They mostly did it to the women, but who knows? My scarification hurts, but I still like how it looks on m-" And then he is being Drak'd. Hard. His hearing is terrible, so the intensity actually carries through nicely, and he says "O...oh." He now has his full attention on Drak, right up until the Kitten finger mouth thing, and then he takes out his sharp-edged hoe and he holds it in his hand, cautiously. Maybe he will have to rescue Drak from Kitten. Maybe vice-versa. Maybe he is a bit jealous. Maybe he just wants to no longer have white patches on his dark skin, this talk of a utopia. When Kitten starts pulling up their dress, KissThisThen does not really react, but then he's a bit of a nudist. He says "I'm sorry about Rebar. Maybe he should volunteer to ride rig to BulletTown next trip."


Faustina turns slowly to just sort of stare at Drak. Her gaze travels to the giggling Cinder and then back to Drak. Everything else is ignored, even Kitten's apparent attempt to partially strip. For science! One can almost see her assessing Drak - problem, threat weakness opportunity? It's a little difficult to tell what she's thinking, just that she is.


Xavier eyes Drak warily and starts quietly edging away, behind the safety of his big sister. To that last they drop their eyes and say, "I wouldn't know." X ducks their head, beet red without dye. "Maybe. For science." Their eyes go wide, "Oh Kitten, I... I'm really sorry." Then their eyes go wide and they make a small, alarmed sound as they dart behind Faustina. Still, they peek. A little. They take a breath, "Okay, Kisses. Um... That's a nice ho you have there."


Drak seems to catch most of his brother's intent, but seems to misread the emotions behind some of it, "See? Cinder is /giddy/ with excitement. That in our /lifetimes/ we can find our homeland... we can bring those secrets back... we can /build/ Utopia here." Then he seems caught offguard by Kitten's clothing actions as if he had missed an important cue. He's already shifting the silk shift he wears as he looks to Xavier, "I did not know you were computing some beet related sciences... have at it, my friend." His breeder tools coming into view. Cock out, he carries on.

"Kitten! Introduce me to your half worn battle brother! I will give him hope... hope in the unseen in the known and foretold. Utopia was before the world burnt... and it still is... it /still is/ Kitten! That is how powerful the social folkways are, the general milieus! Here!" He pulls the silk sheet even higher up to expose his upper inner thigh that is immaculately tattooed with the words, 'You wouldn't abandon ship in a storm just because you couldn't control the winds.' with a mighty sand storm crackling with purple lightning wrapped around a war rig of incredible might. War kids and fortunates alike cling to the vehicle in the storm, all pure and whole and shiny with actual shiny ink in the skin. He steps nearer to Xavier and proclaims, "But you WOULD KNOW, Xavier! You WOULD know... for in Utopia all are taught to be savvy... all armed to be war kids... all fed and watered and grown strong like Fortunates. There is no need for the monitors in Utopia... for we all will seek what is right. To die shiny, to live pure!" His penis and elaborate thigh are still out.


Drak adds, after a few big blinks, to Xavier and KTT, "You know what's wild? They once used hos for sex with their enjeweled bits. I kid you not." He nods sagely and his voice has /such/ gravitas, "I think it is because there was so much green and dirt and beets and they were all tenders of all the plants all over the world, so they all fucked their hos."


Cinder stands up, brushing himself off. Drak makes Cinder really laugh and it's immediately different from the kind of laughter around his fellow Fortunates, under the dome or even without Drak nearby. But he's not laughing at his brother. No. "Drak is more fired up about this place of our ancestry. Supposed ancestry. It was our bedtime stories out in the wastes but Drak found separate evidence. Mama and Papa called it Karyukai. The book used Utopia. I...believe there is something better out there. Better isn't the word I want to use. Different. We have few choices right now. Citadel. Gas, Bullet and Barter. Wastes. I'm talking about another choice. With more options. Health. Water. Food. No rations." Beat. "I've been on rations before." Briefly. "It's hope. I like hope. I can keep going on hope."


Kitten leans down to get a better look at the tattoo on Drak's inner thigh, and they read it aloud under their breath. "Wise," they say. Then there's a 'where was I' moment of confusion before they say, "Oh!" and resume hiking up their skirt. Now there are two cocks out. Kitten's is, as of yet, undyed and looks fairly normal. Pale, but then again it doesn't get a lot of sun. They give a wiggle of their hips, swaying back and forth, just to make sure everyone gets a good look. Poor Xavier. That thing is aimed right at him. Finally, they let the skirt fall, and they say, "For science." They then tell Drak, "I'll bring him to see you if I can get him to come. He plans on going out on the next ride, and I don't think he means to come back."


KissThisThen is watching Faustina "Which pen did you -" He can remember a little, and he says to Xavier "Why are you so nervous. Yes, you can call me that. I may not respond. My hearing is terrible." He glances down at his weapon "Indeed. Sometimes I hit people with it, if we get into fights." Surely self-defence is permitted, even by Monitors. The world is rough. Fights happen. "I don't want to have to, but. Better that than risking damage to my skinwork." He does seem more or less entranced by Drak's words though. He listens to the talk about everything, and then he eyes the tattoo "That's good work, was that JunkWonderful?" he asks, and he gestures to the elaborate scarification of a Tree of life - birds in the branches, skulls in the roots - on his chest "This wasn't, but she's good at tattooing - what?" He looks at the gardening tool - and makeshift weapon - hanging from his belt "How...how would you fuck that?" he demands "How is that even possible?"

Cinder, though, is talking his language "I...maybe. Wastes, no. We can change it. I have the plans all worked out, it just needs patience, and time. So much time. But it will work. There are even mediations for the Sickness, the parts of it that come from poisoned metal - fungi can pull it out and then we remove the fungi. However, it would be vastly easier with a seedbank produced from a cleaner area. The wider the system, the more robust. If Karyukai exists, then it would have other types of plant. It's important to spread the genetics out..." His voice trails. He wanted to be a Breeder once. Kitten is wobbling about now. There sure are a lot of penises out today. KTT looks vague, and he says "...boy?" to Kitten, and he is startled "No, umn, I think you are a girl. Wait. Maybe you're like a mushroom. They have. Thousands of sexes. It says so in my book."


Faustina has shifted in front of Xavier, almost unconsciously. Other than that she has gone largely still, just her eyes darting from Drak to Kitten to Cinder and back again to Drak. KissThisThen gets a very brief flicker of her gaze, then back to Drak. After a few moments she says, "I asked them to make a pen for me in one of the shapes they had, but with a different nib. I will retrieve it two days from now."


Xavier's eyes go wide as Drak starts to pull tackle out. As the alarming man and his alarming exhibits near, X moves to keep their big sister between them and the terrifying Drak. "That's. Huge." They swallow wih alarm. "Maybe the gems for armour, Kisses?" They have gone really pale, eyes wild like a unicorn about to bolt. Their eyes slide to Kitten's and there is a naked look of terror and longing befre they collapse in a faint.


"The /text/." Drak corrects his brother, Cinder. "A map of words to find Humanity again. To find Home." He softens as he carries on with Cinder, smiling even as the older brother's eyes water up. He nods firmly, though, and seems full of passion in the moment. "It. Is. Hope." He looks at the others. The naked, the terrified, the growers, the thinkers, the killers, the hoes. He goes to grasp his brother's shoulder as he preaches to the others, "In Utopia... nobody owns anything." He makes eye contact with one person after the other as best as possible, pausing for effect before going on. "Yet. Everybody is rich! For what greater wealth can there be..." He reaches a hand out, cupping his palm up and curling his fingers as if claiming something material but imagined. "...than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety? To know that you will live long enough to die witnessed and shiny... to know that you, too, can have pure children! Where we..." He holds a hand now, in entreaty, towards Xavier, "...all..." He nods to KTT. "...forget what hunger and thirst was... forget what the exhaustion of the sickness was..." His penis is still out, till Drak notices Kitten putting their bits back, and he lets the silk hide his own again. None of any of that part seemed to even be a thing he fully registered, as if being naked, or likely even having sex, all falls so secondary to the conversation at hand. "Where we, all, can /rest/ and /war/ and grow and learn and explore. Where we /all/ will have a home that is an endless field of the scarce green our savvies fight so hard to make here." A tear slips down his cheek and he smiles a firm, determined grin and nods as if everyone fully understood.

Though, again, he's triggered back into teacher mode by KTT's question about how to sex a hoe. "Oh... I've given it /significant/ thought. The handle, for example... if wittled just so... and yes... did you know the Ancients were all boys and girls, all bits were called Urolos... they had savvies called Gists that were only focused on the bits.... /but/... in Utopia there were men and women! They had different bits for making babies insead of... I don't know..." He looks to KTT for answers here on how the Ancients reproduced. "They /made/ babies, right? It must be why they were all inferior to Utopians who grew them. So, you see, we are /all/ descended from Utopians. We are /all/ Utopians! We must reclaim our heritage... We-- is it?" He looks down and re-exposes his genitals which are, indeed, pretty well equipped for someone whose whole career is to help other people brew up babies inside of themselves. "Oh." His tattoo shows up again, "No, that's me. It took me a lot to find shiny ink... and I've never been in a real storm but this is what Kitten said it was like." It takes him quite a while to finally realize he's been speaking to a passed out Xavier for a /while/ now and he adds, with a frown and a shake of the head, "I worry for our genetics if we do not find Home soon..."


ROLL: Cinder rolls finesse+1 for: [1]: x1 [2]: x2 (Pair) [7]: x1 [8]: x1 -- Match Value: 1 (Raw: 2 8 2 1 7 -- d8)


Cinder seems to come to a slow realization that privates are public now and Drak is preaching and others are spooked and Cinder is blushing. Cinder. Primo Companion. Patron Candidate. Blushing. He rushes to Xavier when he sees the faint begin and by some miracle, that giant red head moves fast enough to catch him. "Kitten, Bleach or Kay, something stronger smelling. Faustina, give him space." Cinder is blinking and stunned at his own action. "So, sorry I unleashed the beast." Pause. Pause. "I mean Drak himself, not his cock. Or Kitten's. Damn...pardon my language."


"You know..." Cinder says, "All I want is to raise my kids. So simple...hanging that simple dream on Drak's ramblings from a book and my...my dreams. Literal dreams. That's how this all started. And I want to raise a family like my own. That's all."


"Loosen his clothing," Kitten says, gesturing around their neck to show pulling fabric away from it. "Make sure he's breathing." They pat down their pockets, but before they can find the bleach, a War Child comes into the Garden and approaches Kitten. He looks pretty gaunt, and he's got three tumors on his neck. "Hey Rebar," they say.

Rebar says, "That engine you were working on is smoking."

This causes Kitten's eyes to widen. "I gotta go," they say to the others. They let Rebar lead them from the throng, both of them hurrying. Kitten can be heard saying, "How is it smoking? It's not running!"


"Yes," says KissThisThen, looking increasingly startled as people start to collapse or otherwise get super intense "A pen is a very important and useful item, it is necessary to have it fit well in the hand -" Man, this is getting difficult, and with his poor hearing, he is finding it hard to keep up "Umn. I don't know about armouring your - seems like a piece of metal would be better, like a cup -"

Nope, gone. As Xander hits the ground, KTT stares, uselessly, and then he takes a breath "He's - he's there, he's well. This is all a..rm. Rmmm mmm. Well, I can. _Hmm_." He pauses for a long moment, and then, well, he says "I'll get some lemon thyme." Cinder gave him a job, which is a good idea, because right now he is finding Drax simultaneously interesting and really, really worrisome. And then Rebar is there. KTT says, a bit weakly "Good evening, Kitten." Now, though, he is scaling the herb area for lemon thyme.


Faustina spins as she feels Xavier start to fall, but Cinder is already there. She practically barks at Cinder, though. "You do not give me orders as concerns Xavier. I have been taking care of him longer than you have been alive." It's more emotion than any of the concious people in the room have likely seen from her ever. Her gaze flickers briefly towards Drak. "You, stay there and be quiet." And then she is on her knees next to Xavier and her tone softens. "Xav. Wake up, please. I need you to wake up."


Xavier hangs limply in cinder's arms. They are light for their size under all that fabric, the drap of it making the shape of their small breasts visible. They are breathing. They smell fauntly of chemicals, including some fake citrusy cleaning solution and faintly of something green, perhaps a sample they'd been working on. A few shoulder length curls escape their loosened head scarf. Neither the conversation nr the barking of orers wakes them, but their eyes slide a little open at the pleading. In a soft, dazed, voice X says, "I didn't hit my head, Sis."


"Imagine with me... Kiss... all of the healing herbs that grow wild and free in Utopia. Plants larger than a war kid. The things that were before the dust meats... still alive... vast... docile. No more need for bartered pig... no Utopian ever wanted for meat and did not have it. Can you imagine that our children will be educated and taught enough to farm for us... that we can have slaves from outside to do such things so that you and the other savvies can focus on thinking. On the future!" Drak lets loose on KTT with passion and impetus. He's also fishing for bleach after a moment and seems to be helping. Except. In his rather focused state. He seems to have misconstrued some aspects of the scenario and seems to be preparing to help bleach the passed out Xavier's nethers.

Faustina rescues her brothers curlies from the mini-crusade, "Be quiet?" He seems horribly confused and says in a softer voice to Cinder, "Was I being bad again, Cinder? Loud again? I forget sometimes. The words are so /loud/ in my mind!" His voice has gotten loud again. "X..." still loud, but tender, "...can you hope?"


Cinder doesn't argue with Faustina. "A lot of fainting happens in the Gilded Cage. You'd be surprised. Laboring woman. Nervous clients. Nervous Companions. I nearly fainted my first breeding attempt." Yep. Cinder admitted to almost fainting when he lost his virginity. "If it was Drak..." And then Xavier's coming around. "Hey. Welcome back, Ecks." He turns to his own brother then, and speaks softly. "Yeah. Yeah...you did it again. I'll take the blame for it. I egged you on." When he starts again, Cinder shushes. "Stop. And cover your cock at all times outside of the Cage." He says in a harsh whisper. "I swear we have this conversation every three months." He looks back to Faustina. He's still clinging to Xavier, like he caught him. He breathes, relaxes and lets the sister take over. "Faustina? How old are you and Ecks? Maylis says older than her but...I don't see it."


KissThisThen comes back down, mutely, with a few handfuls of lemon thyme. More than he is worth, himself. He watches Kitten go, and then he purses his mouth quietly, and he licks his teeth, before he looks back at Drak, who is busy being rather...insightful. Or at least of deep interest to someone who believes tightly in the future - optimistic, you might say "I would believe that," he says to him, and then he hesitates on 'slaves'. He says "Well, I nearly became a slave, so I don't think I want that for others, Drak. But there's work to be done to make everything perfect, to grow the seeds of the future. I would support such a thing. I would work on the...basics of it. The systems of it all." He adds, quietly "I would like to have children, er, though in the mean time. One can hire companions. You know. And, er, pretend?" He frowns, and he suddenly shakes his head before he listens to Cinder "...haha, what. Er, I mean. That sounds. Awful. He wonders if Clinker would do that all the time." He nods firmly. Cover your cock outside the cage. Ignore people like KTT, who wear practically no clothing at all.


Arachne arrives from Sanctuary - Garden - Hospice.


"He is thirty-two years old. I am thirty-five. Soon, I will be thirty-six. Is this relevant?" Faustina takes hold of one of her brother's hands. "Good, Xavier, that is good." Cinder's close enough to see something like panic in her eyes. And that there is a slight twitch as Drak goes on. The hand not holding Xavier's begin to tap against her leg in a little pattern. tap, taptap, taptaptap, etc.


Xavier is still really only half awake, as they attempt to answer Drak, "Better living through chemisty..." Those dark, innocent eyes peer up at Cinder, "I'm sleepy." They smile a little at KTT talks, "Sis? Keep Faust safe. We've got a project...." They squeeze Faustina's hand, "Do you think you could tuck me in even if it's light out still? I'm a bit light headed." They give her a brave smile, "I'm all right, I promise." They do seem a little more here now.


Drak listens intently to Faustina and Cinder, seeming to take the words of both with great importance. He reasons quietly, "I should get some kind of clothing just for my cock, then..." Then he rolls his eyes at the idea. "Pft, that's insane." He cues back in on KTT, "Totally different... Utopian slaves are slaves by /choice/... non-Utopians who wanted a better life. They couldn't be citizens, but being a Utopian slave was better than any other tribe. Utopians choose who they have sex with, they choose their own roles in life and are taught to be the best that they can be at whatever they are best at." He pauses and seems troubled before asking Cinder, "How do we explain to those who have never dreamed our dreams... who have not seen what we have seen... it is like explaining a hot bath and oiled massage to a scavenger." He doesn't seem to notice his effect on the protective Faustina at all. Though, this might be in part to the awe he beholds her and her brother with, as he mouths the number, 'Thirty six' out. he flicks a look to Cinder, then back to Faust, "Have you had children yet? ...and... my dream? My truth? Utopia? Has Chem Gists, has cures for the shakes and sleeps. It is a safe place for Ecks. Hope with me and we will find the way. For all of our brothers and sisters."


"He's lighter than I imagined. That's why I gripped him so hard." Cinder looks at Faustina with this wholly innocent and concerned gaze. "I hope I didn't leave a mark. I didn't mean to, if I did." He steps away, giving them space to exit. "Drak. Just wear pants! And stop..." Cinder's voice is raising now. "No slaves. None. Zero. This is about choice! You and me? We are slaves with good genes who get to fuck! So no. So slaves ever." He's trembling. "If I have to say this again, I will take it out in flesh. From your cock. Clear?" A moment passes. "Drak. I'm the middle kid. Why am I the voice of fucking reason!?" Now he's flailing.


There is a very long pause as KissThisThen is spoken at by Drak. He likes what Drak is saying. The whole 'slaves' thing is a hell of a thing. And Xavier and Faustina seem rattled. And then Cinder is talking about pants, and people who get to fuck, and children from Faust and there are dreams and hot baths and...KissThisThen's eyes dart to the side "...so. I think the little black fruits are called 'olives'." A long pause "Olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning 'yuropean olive', is a species of small tree in the family Oilyacae."


Faustina snaps, "If we found this Utopia of yours and that is the case, then we would all be the slaves there." Then her voice gentles again. "Of course, Xav. I will take you home, now, and tuck you in. You will be fine." Cinder gets a nod of acknowledgement and then she's helping Xavier up. At least she seems slightly less on the verge of panic and the finger tapping has stopped.


Xavier closes their eyes and says patiently, "I can't, Drak. I'm a dead end. No seeds in me to grow another generation. I think they were hoping to breed someone like Cinder, but they got me instead. I try to make up for it with my work. The work is everything." They take a slow breath and sit up, "There are... more of you? Are you... all..." They guesture vaguely at Cinder and Drak, at a loss for words. They smile gently, "I'm all right. I'm... not as breakable as I look. It was a lot for me and I think maybe..." They scrunch up their nose, "I got so excited by the new sample I sort of forgot a meal. Or three.... Olive. A pretty name." They look wildly relieved as Faustina helps them up, "Thanks Faustie. I think... quiet is best. I promise, I'm not hurt." They rather cling to their sister's arm, keeping her between them and the alarming man with the monster cock.


Drak seems deep in thought, hands on hips as he looks down and considers the words of his brother and Faustina. He nods and works his jaw and finally shakes his head, "No, no... since we have genders we're Utopians already by birth. Like... the...." He looks out towards where the middle of the citadel is, where the last non-caste hovels at the base of the dry waterfall. "....rotted ones can be slaves. By choice. It's.... you see in Utopia there are no favors, people just have what they need! Utopians do, anyway. It's not... slave is just... unpaid worker? So... unpaid workers will do the farming. Since there's no such thing as pay. So.... just workers." He nods and frowns firmly with determination. "That is exactly how it is." Clearly. "It is not a war, either, nor rebellion. It is finding home. It is bringing our past to our present, here in the citadel... and carving our future with these teachings. Spreading the Utopian Empire for the sake of all wastelanders." Then he juts his jaw out, seems to remember something as he looks at Cinder, then looks down at his own hips, "...I mean.... that's one way out of the cage."


KissThisThen says "Olive _is_ a pretty name." He is struggling through more socialisation than he normally has to deal with. This is not ideal. And he has two handfuls of unused lemon thyme. After a moment, he splits it up into several different bunches and tucks them cautiously at the base of the okra growing up the wall. No. Not for humans. Then he says "...I think you are odd." Yeah, harsh words from KissThisThen to Drak "But I like you. I...hmm. Well. I. Think that if we expanded the growing system and integrated a wide range of non-nutritious plants to allow for gradually sourcing minerals and then doing chop-and drop? That we could do it here. We just need. More land."


Cinder pinches the slightly crooked bridge of his nose. "Drak? Let's...let's focus on finding where we came from? We need to organize. Plot steps. Right now, you are all wild and insane energy and people talk, yeah? Cinder's crazy brother. Spits out Pure kids though. So, let's sit down soon and calmly discuss a plan. And execute the steps. We'll bring the Savvy in too. There is a reason we aren't Savvy, okay? We aren't smart. You are loud and I am..." He doesn't finish. He just breathes. "Olive is pretty...may I name my...my next child that? If it's a girl?"


It is really probably for the best that Faustina is focusing on Xavier. She begins to lead him off towards his hut. Away from the craziness.


Drak pauses a gain and seems to resolve something within his mind as he relaxes a bit and says to Xavier more calmly, "I want to talk about that, if you want to... but at another time. In the Utopian society... people can choose their children and parents... adults choose parents even from the elders. Family is by blood, but it is by bond. Life and love is not limited by body and fate." He gazes upon X there, with Faust and Cinder, and he sighs out with a soft smile. "When I see this, I know we will make our home as it will make us. The best it can be."

He grins at KTT and goes to embrace them, easily dodged and likely derailed, the vast figure of Drak like an invasive species of cuddle bear. He calls out to Cinder, either over KTT's shoulder or offering KTT an ample opportunity to not be bearhugged, "We will! We don't have to do it alone... I know it was home to us... but it can be home to everyone here. You are the level headed one, however... and maybe you're right. That there is a better way than just being excited to share hope in something true. A more cunning path." He nods a bit and quirks a half smile. "I think Ecks should choose my next child's name. There's a few due pretty soon!" He then confides in everyone, humbly and with some remorse, "Naming them is always the hardest part." Then yawns. "Oof, I need a bath." Drak rubs his privileged face and rolls a healthily well-fed shoulder. "I might nap as well. Xavier? If you want..." He nods towards the Gilded Cage's general direction, "You can, you know..." He double nods now, tugging his head that way a bit for emphasis. "I'll wave the fee, you can just bathe and rest with me?" Is that... actual empathetic understanding and perception of the moment? It's hard to tell. "Mmmm.... either way. I rest." He proceeds, after far too much talking and preaching and yawning, to actually perform an exit plan. The whole way there he speaks as if he were the wild storm on his thigh.


"I'm heading out to the walkway to puke. Drak, leave Ecks be. You've done enough." Cinder looks drained as he exits and sure enough, he will be found puking off the walkway. This is not the first time. Nor will it be the last.


KissThisThen looks much like a startled cat. His reaction to bear hugs is to gradually turn into a feline - he goes stiff, and he has more limbs than usual. He prods and pokes, and then he says "I don't mind - if someone uses that name - it's a nice name - surely the hardest part is for their mothers - are you. I wanted to be a Breeder -" Yeah, well. We do not always get what we want. And then he says "Gosh, I think Xavier is probably out for the night, but no need to. Waste that water. I'll take it." And he will, too. Because. Well. People are weird. But water is everything.


Drak is certainly heading to sleepytown in the gilded cage and would happily take KTT along, after making fun of his vomiting brother, of course. There'd also be freshly made tea awaiting his bro at the Cage. Older brothers.