Of Hostile Wildlife & Beer

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OOC Date: August 16, 2011
IC Date: April 04, 2128

A trio of SGTs meet by the watering hole & cultural exchange ensues.


Chrysalis' Surface, Lakeshore, Base Camp

A wide field of red-gold grass, miles across and miles wide. At the center is a vast lake of serene blue water. Forest-covered steps protect the plateau on one side, while steep mountains rise up on the opposite side of the lake. Two large white tents have been erected a short distance from the lake; three shuttles flank them, as do a row of generators.


As the days are freakishly long on this little slice of habitable heaven, it's still light, though the evening can be expected in a few hours. The lakeshore is relatively quiet, with most of the soldiers planet-side otherwise engaged in preparations, training, or slacking off commonly known as Navy guard duty.

Sgt. Never Sisti walks along the edge of the lake, in shallow water, with her pants rolled up to her knees. Key bits of her armor have been removed to make this task less difficult. She appears to be searching the water for something, as her eyes remain downcast, gaze affixed to or past the ripples she makes in her slow patrol along the edge. Her hair is pulled back into a loose tail, but much of it hangs down into her eyes anyway. She never seems to be quite squared away.

A second sergeant - Xavier Santiago - approaches from the general direction of camp. Granted, camp isn't far away, if four grounded shuttles and two big white tents really count. They're the only habitable structure on the planet though, so one might as well call them a city. He's about half in uniform. The lower half, to be technical, since he's swapped out the long-sleeved and armor-played tunic part for an old-fashioned wife-beater. He's also armed, but maybe that is part of being dressed on a hostile planet; he's got a long, strange-looking alien rifle slung over one shoulder, and while it might look out of place in nature he's comfortable enough with it that it blends into his movements. As he nears the lake shore he spies the other Marine, slows, and then stills to watch her for a couple of seconds. "Hey Sisti; watch out for the fishies. They might eat toes; nobody knows. Yet."

Never looks up from her wading approximately half a minute after Santiago calls out that warning to her. Her eyes find the other marine in short order, and she watches him through a veil of crooked fringe. A faint sheen of sweat is evident on her brow, like maybe she took a little jog before going wading. Strands of hair stick to her cheeks as she stares at the man. Finally, she clears her throat and calls back, "'Magine a fishie big enough to lob in'd stand out like a shag on a rock." She points to the water, as if he can't see it himself. "Clear as glass." The water, she means. She mutters something else, but it's mostly under her breath, and might not carry. "Santiago, is it?" Brains run a little sluggish on the first say out of the icebox.

Oh, half a minute gives Xavier plenty of time to get closer to the water. When he stops again it's on a low bluff of rock, a reddish mound of stone that has pushed up through the reddish-golden grass and there he crouches. "There are clear fish. Like the ants." It's possible that it wasn't a genuine warning, more a vague attempt at teasing the incomprehensible woman in the water. Identification of his name gets a little tilt of the head, vague acknowledgment that this particular detail is correct.

Footsteps from the east - the opposite direction from camp. A not-too-tall fellow, slouched somewhat forward as he moves, boots meeting the sandy, silty shoreline with a crunching like finely broken glass. Unlike the other two Marines, Sergeant St. Clair is not sporting any extraneous skin this evening; just his regular black combat uniform, shatter-proof goggles to aid his imperfect vision, and a rifle similar to the one Santiago is sporting, strapped to his back. He's popping what looks like gooseberries into his mouth - or at least, Chrysalis' version of gooseberries. Hey, he ain't dead yet.

It takes approximately four seconds for the clear fish notice to tick through her brain, and line up with the story she heard muttered about camp re: ants. One foot comes up out of the water like she's about to dance to Cotton Eyed Joe. She spatters herself with water, then wobbles a bit and regains her footing, both feet placed back on the smooshy bottom where they belong. Maybe she stepped on something. Maybe it didn't have anything to do with the notion of invisible vicious toe-eating fish. "Ratbag," she mutters. She wades closer to the shore just the same, eyes back on the tiny disturbances she makes in the water's surface. She does look up at the sound of booted steps coming from yonder, and her eyes find her fellow thaw, another SGT for the party going on lakeside. She watches him pop something into his mouth, opens hers to say something about it, then does a quick sidestep as if something's brushed against her ankle under the surface of the water. That prompts another soft muttering of what's probably profanity of some kind.

Ah, there; that might be the reaction that Xavier was looking for. His teeth flash briefly in a distinctly wolfish grin, indicating far, far too much humor at the expense of his fellow Marines. In this case, it's both the one in the water and the one who got his toes melted. Ants, fish, whatever. He doesn't rise from that position as St. Clair comes into ready view, though he does offer a singular nod of acknowledgment in that direction as well. His attention fixes there for a beat to watch the consumption of the berry, eyes narrowing slightly as if he were trying to discern what was being eaten at 20 paces. Failing that he straightens slightly, rolling his shoulders until something pops and repositioning the rifle back there. "You all good and thawed, then?" It's a very general question.

"Well aren't you just as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine," drawls St. Clair as he comes within earshot of his two cohorts - the one getting her toes gnawed off by carnivorous fish, and the Colombian in the wife beater. It's unclear precisely whom his remark was intended for, as his bespectacled scrutiny first lands upon Xavier, and then shifts to Never after a few beats. Another berry is popped into his mouth; his fingers are stained red, not quite the shade of fresh blood. Gloves stuffed into a pocket of his gear. "Seems like," he finally answers Xavier, the Southern lilt thick as molasses, and accompanied by a brief smile.

"… dirty bities," Never concludes, on the tail end of some kind of diatribe directed at the planet itself. Then again, she could be addressing Santiago. Or, given her slang choices and contextual clues, St. Clair. It's all very inky, her intention. She reaches up to sweep her hair out of her eyes, dragging it back to re-twist her hair up in a tighter tail, one that actually holds most of her hair back from her eyes. "No upchuck in over thirty." Hours. "Reckon I'm balanced as can happen day after a top up on the old blood. Head fuzzy finally went away." She steps over closer to the shore, but doesn't quite get out of the water. Gentle ripples lap at her calves. Her attention turns to Jeremiah once more, somewhere around the word sunshine. "What's about dead pigs?" The angle of her eyebrows indicates she's thinking that one over, trying to match the mental image to a colloquial meaning, and coming up somewhere south of zero. "… Sweet berries?" Her eyes follow the older marine's hands, noting the stain on his fingers. She's the only one not visibly armed, unless a knife tucked down a thigh pocket counts. She splashes up to the shallowest of water as if waiting for St. Clair to get close enough to show her his prize.

"Happy as a fly on the dead pig," corrects the Colombian, who apparently has a better grasp on that particular cultural metaphor. Or possibly he has his own variation, which is either way better or way, way worse depending on how you choose to take that twist. "Fresh air and sunshine makes the fuzzy fade fast. Only good thing about this rockball." He still makes no move to abandon his perch, like that somehow makes him king of a very tiny hill. It might, if he's lucky, leave him eye level with Jeremiah, but maybe it's a comfortable rock. He offers nothing else immediately, but instead turns his interest on this berry exchange as if waiting to see if eating them, or sharing them, does in fact cause someone to keel over in pain and/or give into twisting, gut-bursting death throes.

The three of them may as well speak different languages, for what little their speech seems to have in common. Jeremiah stuffs the last of his handful of fruit into his mouth, sucks the juice off his fingers, and draws to a halt perhaps three paces from the shoreline. "Never mind," is murmured to the woman with a throaty chuckle, and a brief glance at her knife. The ephemeral smile broadens into a crooked grin when Xavier speaks, and one hand comes up to shield his eyes from the sun as he levels his gaze upon the other - undoubtedly taller - Marine, perched upon his dirt mound. "Few miles back that way, if you've got a hankering. I'd watch out for the.. fruit flies, though." Flaahs. He looks bemused, like he knows something they don't.

Never thinks about it for a while, then says, "Reckon it should have shit in it somewhere." She means, of course, the pig saying. Oh, a cultural meeting of the minds on the banks of Chrysalis' shore. That's what this is. Sgt. Sisti reaches up to rub her shoulder, thin shirt allowing for an easy range of movement. It's black, like the standard issue uniform, though made of a snug and breathable weave. It keeps a good deal of skin covered without the encumbrance of armor. It's probably shit against weaponry. She gestures to St. Clair. "Give me your hands?" It's a question, but she holds out her own and steps up onto dry land, moving closer to the elder Sgt. She seems interested in the stained skin of his fingers. Her tone is lightly distracted, and she may have missed the bit about the flies.

At least here it is mostly okay to not have the first fucking idea what someone else is saying; even better, it's totally acceptable to call them on that, when they dip so far into their native tongue as to be rendered gibbering by the majority. Xavier spends a few beats studying Jeremiah, a hint of his own grin appearing by way of a few shown teeth, sharp and surprisingly white. "On Planet Chrysalis, fruit flies eat you?" What's best about that joke the utter lack of Russian in the party. Maybe he's just here to oversee, since his choice of places commands an exceptional look over the lake and off toward the mountains of tentacle-filled doom on the far side, though for the most part he seems quite content to watch his fellow Marines play show and tell. "Is good to find edible plants here. We could need them sooner more than later." The subtle change in his tone is audible, enough to impart seriousness in the wake of a vague attempt at humor.

"I'm not, myself, fixing to starve to death out here," opines St. Clair, his own amusement fading as Xavier's words take on a more solemn note. He glances away from the man, finally, and wipes his hand off on the thigh of his fatigues a couple of times, before offering it to Sisti. The berry juice has worked its way into the crevices of his palm, which aren't quite callused in the manner one might expect of a rifle-toting grunt. Or a desk jockey, for that matter. "Not looking forward to traipsing about in the jungle," he murmurs, off on a complete tangent. It isn't a question, and nor does it particularly invite discussion.

"Tentacles and spiders and man eatin' fruit flies." Never snorts. "Almost enough to make us go vejjo." She grunts, "Nah. Not long as I got arms." The fact that she's concerned with impending vegetarianism rather than death by squid indicates she probably hasn't spent a lot of time considering the wildlife, dangerous as it seems to be. She takes one of St. Clair's hands in both of hers, with a faint pinch of her brows indicating she didn't want him to wipe them off. "Good manners," she mutters, as if this sort of cleanliness is the bane of her existence. Yeah, she's more interested in the plant life than the animals. She lifts the desk jockey's hand to her face and sniffs briefly. "Might get your boots dirty." She eyeballs the stained skin, bends over Jeremiah's hand, fingers careful of actually touching the stained skin. She stop short of trying to taste it, but her breath whisks over his palm. "Your vision starts getting spotty, find a medic. I'll take a squizz later. Few miles, you said?" She doesn't turn to head off, but she does make a mental note of the berry location. Her hands release St. Clair's and Never glances over to Xavier and eyes his weapon, like maybe she's just noticed it's not standard issue.

Xavier tilts his head, that grin returning as if he just cannot possibly keep it to himself. "It is a friendly planet. It welcomes us with all its arms, and all its teeth. And this is where they think to lay down our civvies." Mention of the Genesis' cargo prompts him to glance up toward the sky where, somewhere beyond the visible blue, the ship waits. "I will take things I can shoot at over endless days in the ghost ship." He falls quiet again to watch this inspection of the red-handed, though clearly this is a source of some subtle amusement since his expression remains pitched over into good humor. "Should not be so far," he points out. "The XO has a tight leash on the camp. Half mile in any direction is all you get unless you sign request forms in triplicate ten days in advance. It's worse than getting leave." And no, the rifle is clearly not standard issue. It's an alien energy weapon; it has to by definition look one part mean, one part ultra-high-tech, and one part super amazing.

St. Clair certainly doesn't conjure up the image of a Southern gentleman, what with the layers of sweat and dust caking his skin, juice-stained lips and teeth and fingers, dark hair askew under the strap of his glasses. He holds still while Never examines his hand; one part suspicious, two parts curious. "Few miles," he confirms, this time looking across to Xavier, as if challenging him to argue it further. Then Sisti's hands fall away from his, and he withdraws a pace from the woman. Then another. "I'm going to try to get some shuteye. You two-" He lifts two fingers in a vee, an inch away from his glasses. "-keep your eyes open." Then, hitching his rifle up on his shoulder, he turns to continue trudging west. Toward camp.

"Landing civvies on this rock smells like heaps of easy tucker. Might go ring the dinner bell and marinate 'em all in rosemary first." Never shifts her weight, and squints against the light as her face turns toward the brightest sun. She flicks a look back to St. Clair as he beats a retreat back to camp. "Sleep tight." She watches him go for but a moment before her gaze returns to the perched sarge. "Half a mile's a tight leash. I got a serious hankering for walkabout. My boots itch standing still so long after all that time in the box." She shades her eyes with a hand and shakes her head. "Lost my sunnies already." She blows out a sigh and glances toward camp. "Bogged by orders and not even in range of a proper boozer." She glances over at Xavier and considers him for a long moment. She squints a bit, but this time it's not due to the sunlight. "You reckon we got any frosted out Navy types with access to spooled copper tubin'?"

Again Xavier tilts his head, giving a little sideward nod to St. Clair. "You'll be up in time for duskwatch," he predicts, which sounds particularly ominous on a planet with a 30-some hour night cycle. Then there is Never though, and that non-stop stream of strangeness, and he takes about half a minute to chew through what she actually said, to gnaw it down to figure out what she probably meant. "Keep your boots on. We's got a camping trip coming up. Gonna teach the deskie how to sleep in trees, spit raw meat, maybe eat some grubs." All the fun and wonderful things they do in recon school! Mmm, slugs! His chin lifts, indicating the sky again. "Ship's stocked with all kinds of wet. Down here? Eh. Los nerdos have many things. I don't keep count."

Never watches Xavier have a think. Her expression relaxes, and she looks to the water again, before her gaze wends back to the other marine. She flicks fringe from her eyes, hair tame by her usual standards. "Woke up last night, had the thought my mum's cactus. Doesn't seem right, me out here, and she bites it first." She picks up a small stone and chucks it at the surface of the water. "Reckon the campin'll do me some good. Wish it was now." She pauses, then turns to look at Xavier. "Reckon I understood every last thing you said just now." There's a smile in her voice, and a slight curve to her lips, and a small bit of wonder in the tone. "Eh," she smiles wider, a flash of teeth. Hers, while almost as bright as Xavier's, are slightly crooked on the bottom. "Won't last."

"No," Xavier agrees. And with that he straightens up out of his crouch at last. "Getting out of camp is good. Too many people here. They might should put up a neon sign: fresh meat. If the local squids march, we'll see how well our alien squids can shoot. My money is on… poorly." His problem is not descending into crazy slang terms, it's his accent. Sometimes it's worse than others, but he's clearly from south of someone's border. "Practice yours, and maybe we have a bar-bee-que when we get back. Maybe the el-tee will even magic us down some beer." He steps down off the rock finally, and turns in preparation to walk toward the tents as well. "See you… later." Time is so hard to specify here. Stupid long-ass days.

Never snorts at the mention of squiddies. She nods to Xavier as he moves to take his leave. "From your lips," she murmurs, at the mention of beer. There's a soft sound of longing. Cold beer. Yes, precious. "Sweet dreams, Santiago." There's something in the tone that doesn't quite go with the sentiment. Any doubt is erased by the tiniest hint of a smirk. Perhaps she's thinking back to some moments of shaky vid. She turns back to the waterline, and glances across the grasses. Now, where did she leave her pack and boots? There's a soft plunk as she hops back into the water. Never reverses her wading trek, tempting the local aquatic life, braving the possibility of invisible man-eating toe gobblers.


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