Log:Our Daily Ration
Faustina has claimed a spot at one of the tables. She has her food and is perhaps halfway through eating. There's space around her, though. Others choosing to squeeze in elsewhere rather than sit by the Copper. She doesn't seem overly concerned, though. And, for once, is not watching those around her, instead she's writing something in a small, hand-bound notebook which seems to be claiming most of her attention.
Kitten is back in their white vinyl dress and pigtails. While some choose to avoid the Copper, Kitten walks right up and sits across from her. "Hello," they say. Seeing that Faustina is writing, that's all they say for the moment, so as not to interrupt, and they start in on eating, first plucking up the bits of vegetables on offer.
Faustina makes a final note and then looks up. "Hello." Pause. "How has your day been?" She seems to think for a moment and then tucks the pen and notebook away before taking another bite of her food.
"It's been pretty good," Kitten says. Some long forgotten lesson in manners has apparently stuck, and they don't speak with their mouth full. "I was going to talk to you about a proposition. Evelyn the jeweler wants to visit the Wasteland just to see what there is to see. She's willing to give me a bangle if I take her, but I told her I would have to ask someone who can accompany her, since I'm not really Monitor material. Do you want to go on a trip to the wasteland? Rebar can drive us. He's really good."
Faustina blinks twice and then simply says "No." And then she returns to eating. After a moment, she seems to feel compelled to add, "She can collect and use Lux as usual to pay for trips out, but I will not help her circumvent the system. Nor should any other Monitor."
"I don't know how the system works," Kitten admits. "I don't know if she does either. She seems bored, but I don't know how the Fortunate do things. No one protects us War Children. We just sort of go when we have a reason." They munch on a piece of fruit, smacking their lips at the tart sweetness of it.
There's a flicker of a frown from Faustina. "She knows. She just does not like the system, but she has spent enough time complaining about it and trying to circumvent it that she knows. When she has enough Lux, she can purchase trips out. Or when the Triumvirate has a purpose for her on a trip, but that is unlikely to occur often given her attitude. She was included in this last mission because we needed Fortunate to help care for the children we were collecting." She takes a breath in and the slowly releases it. "The Children of War serve a vital purpose to Sanctuary as a whole, but your purpose is to risk yourselves to help protect our future. As Fortunate, her purpose is to be and provide that future which is being protected."
Kitten says sadly, "I guess I won't be getting that bangle." Though they don't stay down for long. They smile a little. "It's all right. I can make my own bangles, and really I'm just saving up my Lux so when I want something really shiny and chrome, I can get it. I want a better place to sleep. I curl upon old tires covered with blankets, but someday I want maybe a mattress to put over it. Or a pad, just a pad would be nice. I wake up sore sometimes."
Faustina nods slowly. "Making your own bangles is an option, yes. And saving Lux for important items is a good idea." She returns to eating, taking a bite from her cake. "You might see how much someone would want for a simple pad. One of the Savvy might be willing to trade for help with a machine."
"I'm making Kissy a press to get oil from the stones of a bitter fruit," Kitten says. "Maybe he can come visit my cubby and tell me what he thinks. I get Lux by fixing engines and making things. I got a few shinies from putting flamethrowers on Rebar's car." They sigh quietly. "I hope he gets to go on a ride soon. He really wants to see Valhalla."
Faustina nods once. "I have heard. It sounds useful. Perhaps he will know who to asks. Cinder might also be someone to ask. I imagine Maylis might have fabric which could be used to make a pad and it would not take complicated sewing." Pause. "Cinder seems inclined to assist you."
Kitten nods quickly, pigtails bobbing. "Cinder's very nice. He's friends with my sister Kat. I guess he's my friend, too, though why a Fortunate would want to be friends with a War Kid is anyone's guess. I knew him before..." They tap their temple. "Before everything got scrambled. I don't remember much, but I remember him. And Kissy. I guess it's really sad that I'm going to die young?" They don't seem inclined to wrap their head around that one. Instead, they take a bite of their cake and make a pleased noise.
Faustina considers. "Perhaps that explains it. Still, Maylis dyes fabric, which means that she has access to undyed fabric, which would be cheaper. Even if they can not provide anything to put inside, they could create the outside of a pad for you and then you may speak to KissThisThen about providing something soft with which to fill it." She does not comment on whether or how sad it is that some die young.
"We'll have to talk about what to put in it," Kitten says. "Straw is too flammable. But if the straw is covered by a slow-burning fabric, it might be safe. I try not to set things on fire in my cubby, but accidents happen." They continue to work their way through their meal, politely but with efficiency. "What do you do for fun?" they ask.
Faustina considers. "Sand might work. It would not be as soft as straw, but would be softer than tires. Or at least would shape itself to your body better." She eats a few more bites of her food. "I work."
Kitten considers Faustina's words for a long moment before they say, "You give people useful advice so they can have better lives, and you like to work, which I understand because I like to work, too. I only leave the Garage to see the people who are too healthy to come into all those fumes. Do you like to do anything else, though? I like to feed the fish. Sometimes Kissy lets me."
Faustina eats while Kitten thinks. "I like to make the system more efficient. It increases the chances that humanity will survive. I do what I can towards that end. I currently rate our chances at ninety percent for at least one more generation after the children now. Seventy-five percent for a generation beyond that, unless we create a more sustainable system." She eats another bite or two. "Sometimes I enjoy visiting my half-siblings." Pause. "It is a failure in my detachment."
Kitten shrugs and says, "It's good to be detached and all, but you're still human, and humans feel things. It's a good motivation, to have people you want to see survive. When I go out on a ride, I think about Kat and Cinder, and Kissy and Xavier. Especially Cinder and Maylis having all those babies. And I'm not afraid of dying. I know it's for a good reason."
Faustina nods once. "If I must die to keep them safe, I would." She eats another bite or two. "No system is perfect, but we should strive towards that ideal." Then there's the flicker of a frown. "Why do so many people ask what I do for fun or for enjoyment?"
"Because most people do fun things in their free time, such as it is," Kitten says. "I feed the fish and go to the bazaar when I'm not fixing engines. Some of the War Children save their Lux to visit the Fortunate for a little release. Or they play games. It's just something people normally do, so they probably assume you do the same, since you're a person."
Faustina blinks slowly. "Oh. No. When I try to do those things, I worry. I do not have enough time for work as it is. I have to sleep and eat." She adds these last as if these are a problem and she would eliminate the necessity if she could.
Kitten's brow furrows. "I fix engines better after I've had a break," they say. "It helps to step out of my head for awhile, then I approach it with a fresh set of eyes, and I notice things I hadn't noticed before. But don't take it from me. I'm crazy. That's what they say anyway. They made me a War Child because my head is sick. So maybe I don't give good advice."
Faustina considers. "When I need a break I sleep. Or I eat. Or I visit my siblings. Or I work on a different work problem. There are always more work problems. Or I find someone to audit. Adding numbers up is... soothing."
"Okay," Kitten says. "I think I get it. Fixing engines is soothing, when something that's stuck starts to go again. Knowing you're putting a rig back on the Wasteland again." They munch on the last of their cake, then take a sparing sip from their water ration. "Did you have to bust anyone lately?" they ask.
Faustina nods to Kitten saying they understand, then considers. "Not for anything large. Though there are a few areas in which I have concerns. So possibly soon."
Kitten nods. "I try to follow the rules," they say. "It's a good system. I just get turned around sometimes, and sometimes I can't entirely control what I do." Very little impulse control on this one, historically. "I try, but it's like being tied up and struggling to get free, and the only way to breathe again is to do it, whatever it is."
Faustina considers. "You add more benefit to the system than you take away from it. I care that you try. Those who do not try to follow the rules are a larger problem."
Kitten smiles broadly, as though Faustina has just given them the best compliment. "Thank you," they say. "I notice your hard work, and now I'll think of you too when I'm on the road. And if I get in trouble, that's fair, I guess." Frankly, given their nigh magical touch with engines might give them more leeway than they realize. Plus, historically, they're rarely malicious in intent. "People need to realize we're part of a system."
Faustina nods. "Yes. They do. KissThisThen understands. Some others do as well. Some are remarkably resistant to the idea." Faustina finishes off her greens and switches back to eating her cake.
Kitten starts eating their greens one leaf at a time, picking them up with their fingers. Between munchings, they say, "In the Garage, we're a team. I won't say there's no fights, because there is, but we all know why we're there. Maybe that's the blessing in dying. You know there's only one way the deal goes, and the only thing you can change is the terms. It's a good system. We get to go out in a blaze of glory."
Faustina nods again. "In the world as it is, most of us can only hope for a death which allows others to continue in our stead." She considers more. "Also, possibly, to be remembered by those who continue."
"Death has meaning," Kitten says. "It's sad when people go, but our bodies fertilize the soil that grows our food." They take a deep breath, then they admit, "I like to visit the babies. I don't bother them. I would never hurt them. But I like to see them and be reminded why we ride. I like knowing that even if I'm dusted, they'll survive."
Faustina frowns very slightly. "They are so fragile. Seeing them makes me think of all the things which could go wrong. And then I go try to keep as many of those things as I can from happening."
"You're very good for the system," Kitten says gently. "They thrive under your watchful eye. When I see them, I see all their little perfections. No lumps or bumps, just tiny fingers and toes and little mouths and noses shaped like they're supposed to be. I see a future where they'll have perfect little babies, too."
Faustina finishes off her last bit of food and considers. "Maybe. I try to think of that future. I sm not sure it will happen, but I try."
Kitten says, "It's worth the chance though, isn't it?" They flash a swift grin. "I think we'll be fine. Look what happened to the world, and we're still here. We're like those pest bugs on the crops. Squish them, feed them to the fish, but they keep coming back."
Faustina shrugs a little. "There is no appreciable alternative. So it is a chance we must take."
Kitten's lips purse in a small frown, and they nod, shoulders curling a little as they finish their meal quietly. After the last leaf has been munched on, they say, "I guess it's time to go back to the Garage. I hope your patrol goes well."
Faustina stands. "I hope you fix engines well." Pause. "It was good to talk to you." Another slightly awkward pause. "You make Xavier happy."
Kitten's smile comes quickly, and they say, "Xavier makes me happy, and you make me feel safe. As safe as a War Child can ever be. I'm glad I got to talk to you today."
Faustina actually blushes a tiny bit on being told that she makes Kitten feel safe. "Good. That is. Good." Pause. "I will see you another time." And then she walks off to turn her plate in to the return and head back on duty.