Log:Shili-bound: Part 1 - A Shill for Shili
The short version:
The long version:
It's been an interesting journey thus far. Interesting, if you fancy cheap souvenirs purchased in glorified visitor centers or listening to statuesque striped women prattle on...and on....and on about Shili's culturally significant past and the many ways that the outside galaxy has integrated into that formerly primitive society and shaped their traditions to what y'all saw today. Except for some of those reclusive packs who cling to the old ways like it's the only lifeline they need. Unfortunately for you lot, that's precisely the sort of pack your buddy Rheisa came from, so is it REALLY a surprise that she doesn't know which way home is, from that massive port?
Some exchanging of names, genealogy, studying of maps and blood test later and this band of travelers was finally pointed in a hopefully helpful direction. What isn't going to be helpful though is the terrain into which they must eventually descend, so that's why the ship's gotta land here. In the middle of nowhere grassland. Time to strap on the hiking boots.
For the first time in her history of riding aboard starcraft, Rheisa is out of her seat and on those bare feet lightning quick, waiting at the ramp door. Salivating? It's a mixture of nerves, excitement, and motion sickness. "I will look first," she announces. "Is best the rest of you be quiet. Just for short while. Remember what I say," she's only said it a million times, "Do as you see me do, unless I say to do different. Have sharp ears, eyes, and I am sure we make the walk without anyone being eaten. Yes?"
"Yes." Stavros is slower out of his seat. "No getting eaten." He straightens his coat and leans against the the wall next to the ramp. He sniffs sharply and then exhales slowly. There is tension in the set of his jaw and the tightness of the muscles there. "Your people like bridges, right? Everyone likes bridges. No one likes getting eaten by fish and stuck with leeches." He sets his lips to a smile by sheer effort, but the fear of swimming refuses to be suppressed. He pulls a flask from his coat and takes a long swig.
Wearing his new 'I'm a shill for Shili' novelty t-shirt beneath his leather jumpsuit, Ryo sits in one of the jumpseats of the ship, arms and legs both crossed as he awaits their arrival at the next leg of their genealogical adventure. Eyes looks over the Zeltron that's admittedly a stranger to him, but a handsome one and the Festian 'hmmm's quietly to himself. He manages to gather the gumption to stand up, hand moving to grip one of the rails that's designed for such a purpose. "Don't worry. Hex is a great floatation device in a pinch."
Kasia is here in boots, and the sort of backside hugging adventure pants that Hex is so in favor of. She's got a bag with the strap across her body, and a faint cloud of chemical smell that's the bug spray she doesn't love, but a certain Twi'lek insisted upon. "We'll be fine," she assures Rheisa, and possibly herself. "I'll all be fine. We've survived worse." Which might not be wrong, but also isn't a great reason to go in carelessly, like some of them definitely are going to.
"Is no bridge in turu sea," Rheisa answers Stavros with a crinkled brow of confusion over shoulder while the first wash of warm, sweet-smelling air sneaks in around the widening gap of exit hatch. It doesn't smell of brine, but the term 'sea' is a little appropriate for the expanding view afforded to those on board. "But yes. If I did not know you were strong enough to survive here, maybe, then I would not have made the invitation. Is all okay. Or will be."
BEHOLD! The vastness of turu grass plains seemingly goes on forever, any accurate perception of distance lost in the hypnotic sway of red/white reeds bowing beneath their own weight. Somewhere along the southeast horizon line other colors begin to interrupt the eye-numbing pattern in form of patchy scrub and occasional scraggly tree. Maybe they could have parked closer, but then they'd miss out on all this scenery! Scenery which Rheisa suddenly steps out into and promptly disappears. Or would, if the trailing end of her crudely cut skirt hadn't snagged up on a rough stalk of grass and marked her position like a drab, brown flag. Several seconds later, her head swivels the other direction and dark montral stripes are eye-catching for the duration of that brief movement. On the flip side of that camo'd frame, nostrils are twitching, toes are wiggling, burrowing into the sacred soil beneath her soles. To feed the soul. Strengthen it, for the journey ahead. All the familiar whispers carry on the breeze and not a one of them speaks of hungry mouths in their near viscinity. For now, is safe. Is home.
"Comrro!" She yips and stamps the ground a few times with the butt of her spear. And, in case none of her crew's picked up on the bits of gruta speak these past couple years, she repeats herself in Basic. "Come!"
Stavros descends the ramp with eyes as wide as any fawn's, looking right then left. "Grass has static?" he murmurs, reaching out to touch one of the reeds rustling in the breeze. He follows Rheisa after she thumps her spear into the ground. He is watching the dirt below to see if he's going to step into a nest of something. "I'm Stavros," he says sideways towards Ryo, with only half his attention. He hears Kasia's reassurance. Maybe she is right, but he's still moving like he's stepping on everyone else's shoes and trying to minimize the pressure.
"Will be," Ryo reiterates, not too sold on the comforting nature of that statement. The gambler gives the place an appraising look around, "It is pretty, though. Gotta give it that." Then Ryo's new boyfriend is introducing himself. "Nice to meet you, Stavros. I'm Ryo," he says with a lopsided smile as he wanders off to follow the Togruta, his hand unclipping the strap that's securing his pistol. Y'know. Cause it's a Defiance scene.
Kasia too follows the others off of the ship, careful where she steps, following where Rheisa goes, because she's not a lunatic with a death wish like SOME PEOPLE. Not naming names. Hex. "Wait, you two haven't met yet?" she asks, glancing between Stavros and Ryo, brows lifting. "Well, now you have." The yipped word draws her attention, and though she doesn't know what it means, the basic translation that follows has her continuing along the way. "So, what sorts of things should we be on the lookout for? Because I've got some very weak human senses and I'm probably not going to know anything is coming until it's on top of us."
"Kuh!" A tinny voice chirps back from somewhere aboard the ship. It's Umak! He's just re-emerged from using the fresher like a properly civilized big boy, where he consequently had to spend the duration of landing because he kept getting knocked off balance and couldn't keep hold on the handle to let himself out. But he's out now! Still trailing a sliver of paper by the heel. Not but a speck compared to the miles of it that lay unraveled upon the floor - a prize to be found later by some unfortunate soul.
Like his mother, the little boy is dressed for the occasion. A matching skirt, except his is cut from a tougher hide to protect those stumpy legs from unforgiving brush. He's shouldering a miniature bow and quiver of sharp sticks passing for training arrows. Because no way is Rheisa arming a four year old raised primarily by 'humans' the /real/ set. Not yet. The hellacious blur that is Umak blows right past the rightfully cautious tall folk until he's caught up to dear meht and buries one fist into her skirt. For her protection, obviously.
Their guide twists her head around to flash an uninhibited grin. She's so happy, guys. "He'naa Shili," she touches a hand to her face then reaches it upward to the ever constant breeze. "Welcome. We follow the grass," she explains. "See how it bow? All grass turn the same ways. One side is rrred. Other is," she taps a white stripe on her forearm for reference. "Moves with the sun. This time of day, we walk against it. To there," a point of spindly finger indicates the one tree visible from here. "Will make across before is dark, is no problem," that hand drops to wave off Kasia's expressed concern. "Those who wear shoes have not much to fear, here. But keep eyes on the ground and on the grass. Not all hungry mouths are big. Some veeeery small. And protect their home." Warning dealt, she forges on ahead at a comfortable pace like this is just a backyard garden.
Despite the warning, despite already staring at the ground, Stavros almost misses a series of holes in the ground. "Very small." He takes the long way around. "I think that's something. Looks like something small made it," gesturing towards the hive of no doubt TERRIBLE creatures he has bypassed.
"AH, SHRIV!" Ryo barks as he notices a bunch of leaf-monchin' insects crawling around on his boot, just in time for a few of them to run up his pant leg and try him out. Swatting at his pants, the bugs decide that Festian isn't particularly tastey and decide against a full-on assault. "I hate this. I hate this. I /hate/ this," Ryo says, still swatting at his clothes as shivers run all over his body in the way they tend to do when you see a bug and then stop seeing a bug. "HATE," he reiterates, now slapping at his chest and arms.
Kasia notes the holes in the ground, eyeing them suspiciously, because that usually means critters of some kind, and she's pretty adverse to that. One boot hits the ground and, squish, something was beneath it. Her nose crinkles as she stops to look at the bottom of her boot and the slug that's flattened beneath it. Ugh. "Hex needs to hurry up, he would love it here." He would probably be sampling everything, meanwhile she's trying really hard to not even step on another slug, because gross.
Already!? The disenchanted cries coming from Ryo's mouth cause the guide to halt and look around with patient sigh. Tip toed steps ferry her back a few to inspect the angry swarm of miniscule mouths retreating back into their stamped burrows. Her lips twitch wanting so badly to smile. "They make you a good dancer, yes?" Followed up quickly with "Did they bite? Is good medicine for those pains here."
Coincidentally, said medicine now coats the bottom of Kasia's boot.
"Is...sticky. Cover for long time, if you can find."
Stavros's nostrils flare and his lips curl. Natural remedies. "I don't suppose there's something from a tube, or bottle? Synthetic slug-grease? Triple-filtered?" Nevertheless he stands next to Kasia, and if she raises her boot, he tries to pry the slug off and pass it over to Ryo. "Behold nature's bounty," he says dryly.
"Nature's bounty can bite my ass," Ryo says, tugging up his pant leg to makes sure that all of the interlopers have run off. His eyes turn to Rheisa and he says, "/Yeah/, they bit. That's what they do. Because they're stupid idiots and I hate them."
Kasia is busy trying to shake the slug off the bottom of her boot, but stops at Rheisa's words. Stavros steps closer, so she reaches out to put a hand on his shoulder for balance, and lifts up said boot so he can peel the slug off. Disgusting. She is more than happy to share that with anyone who wants it. "I think nature already tried to bite your ass, Ryo."
Umak's little barks of laughter can be heard nearby as he watches the show. A partial set of insectile legs disappear the rest of the way into his mouth as he laughs and chews. Ryo said 'ass'. Hahahahahaha.
Rheisa shrugs off the bad vibes being spat by a nibbled Ryo and motions to the cure Stavros is peeling off. "Be sure to clean hands before you eat," she advises the Zeltron cooly. "Or before you..." a gesture to her nether regions "use 'nature' facilities. Will not kill you! Just...you'll know, if you did not clean enough." It's fine. This is fine. Touching Umak on the shoulder, she dips to pull one of those legs back out from his teeth for a quick look before popping it back in. Okay. Okay, nobody's been poisoned yet, ok ka? Ka.
Any trace of antlike movement has vanished from the ground. Like the pests never existed in the first place! Also in danger of vanishing is Rheisa. She's on the move again, albeit a bit more slowly, periodically snatching at the blades that brush by her shoulders to grab a snack for herself.
Frozen like... like some creature that freezes in bright lights cast by civilization's finest transportation devices, Stavros pauses, midway through wiping his hand on his pants. He stares at his hand and his pants in horror. "But I have to... if I..." He looks around. "Wash in what? There's no water pipes!" Also no soap. He hastens after their guide. She is his only hope. He is so screwed.
Ryo Odessa feigns at Kasia's little joke before his face hardens and he rolls his eyes. The man's nose then crinkles at the talk of burning genitals. Well more-so burning genitals. "Just spit on your hand first," is Ryo's sage advice to Stavros. To what end?? The gambler trudges on after the dine and dasher that is Rheisa.
Now slug free, Kasia lowers her foot back to the ground, glad to be free of it, glad to see bugs retreating from them. This toxic bug spray Hex insisted on actually works. Don't tell him he was right, she'll never hear the end of it. Her face scrunches a bit at the warning given to Stavros. "I'm going to have to burn these boots." It wouldn't be the first pair to meet a fiery death, and it won't be the last. She is lamenting this to herself, which mean it takes a moment for her to notice that Rheisa is OFF. As are the others. She jolts into motion, lest she be left out here in the grass, with the slugs, and the bugs, and whatever else lurks.
"Will be water," Rheisa assures with the calm, collected air of one who's not just smudged neuro-numbing goo on their skin. "For now, do this." She stoops, scrapes together a handful of dirt, rubs vigorously into her own palms, then cuts a reed of turu grass free from its stem, slices off a smaller piece, slices that lengthwise...and makes a kinda flimsy scraper of sorts to then scraaaape the oil-clumped dirt from her palm in demonstration. Dust bathing: It's totally the same as soap.
The toughest choices require the strongest wills. Stavros watches in mixed horror and fascination as Rheisa uses dirt and sliced plant stems to ... to something. 'Cleaning' really isn't the right word. He stares down at his hand. Why does the slug numb nerves? What does the slug _eat_? He takes a deep breath, grabs some of this fertile Shili dirt, and scrubs it across his fingers and palm where he removed the slug from Kasia's boost. Then he rubs it into the spot on his pants where he wiped some of the goo off. And then he uses a few stalks to get the largest clumps of dirt off his hands.
His hands still look dirtier afterwards than before. He still would not touch his nethers with either hand, now. This does not solve the problem!
"Are we...near? Like...are we there, yet?" Ryo asks, inventing the most annoying phrase in the history of the world, and the title of a series of films starring Ice Cube that Odessa will get /no/ royalties from.
Kasia makes a face again, this time at the idea of using dirt as handsoap. She's such a soft, city child, thinking that she's lived in nature. She's trekked through nature with Hex, she's never had to live in it the way others do. If she has a say in it, she never ever will. "I should have brought some of those hand wipes, I left them on the ship."
Rheisa looks to her own hands, briskly rub/claps them together and watches the thin layer of dry earth fall away in a small, dirty cloud. "It will dry in time," she surmises and claps Stavros on the arm, leaving behind a dusty hand print, red as the clay under their feet. Maybe that's why her hands look so clean! She practically matches.
Ryo does not get a reassuring atta boy clap on the arm. He only receives a flat "No" and then glimpse of her backside as she pushes on so they WILL get there. Some hour.
Overhead the sun gets hotter then backs off a few degrees, marking the passage of time with a shifting of shadows, with or without more complaints from the poor souls that Rheisa's adopted and exploited for use of their ship to get her here. Around them, the scenery is changing though, giving hope that maybe they are ALMOST there, yet. Different vegetation is sprouting up from the warm ground, competing for moisture and minerals with the grasses, which are growing thin. Just about a hundred yards ahead towers that sad, scrawny tree. As pathetic as it is, it's a significant landmark for their quest. It marks the end of the grasslands and for the fauna best suited for this habitat, the end of their world. Not far beyond the alien vegetation the flat terrain gives way to a steep slope down off this plateau and into the misty valleys below.
Stavros follows carefully in Rheisa's steps. He doesn't know the hand on his arm is dirty. He's wearing long sleeves. He isn't generally looking around at the splendor, more eyeing the ground for more terrors. When he has to dodge different types of plants, however, he pauses to swivel his neck left and right. "You know, it is pretty. In a 'maybe you'll die and no one will ever know' kind of way." And that is how he almost trips onto the slope. "Whoa whoa whoa. Uh, going down?"
The glimpse of Rheisa's backside seems like enough reason to keep on truckin', so Ryo keeps on truckin', doing his best to seem aloof and unaffected by all of this 'nature' nonsense that he's been subjected to by their resident Togruta. "That's pretty steep, eh? Like steep enough to end this whole trip and head back, right?"
"Yes, and no," to Stavros and Ryo in turn. Rheisa smiles a knowing smile and blindly catches Umak by the back of his waistband before he can throw himself on over the edge like the overly eager heathen he is. He'd been carried for almost a solid hour along their march, so the kid is feeling refreshed! "We are near to first camp. I feel it. I know these trees. Is big fall at first, if not careful, but then ground does this," she points her hand perpendicular to the ground, then sngles it back into a shallow slope. "Watch! I show you." Rheisa lets Umak scramble up her back to take the easy route down while she jams her spear butt into the ground like a walking stick and begins a slow descent sideways, using her free hand to grab hold of certain branches of shrubbery and such while toes feel the way ahead. Eventually there are bigger trees to grab for support if the ground gets tricky.
No more is the wind rattling their surroundings, but a new cacophony is rising. Avian chatter and insectile hums grow louder and more diverse the further they trek. Every now and again a prolonged whoooop or screech of something else breaks the harmonious din. Before long, Rheisa?s pace quickens with a sort of jubilance unrestrained by concern for her hiking buddies.
Also of note is the COLOR here! Most plants are variegated in pattern and there is very little which sports shades of green. Autumnal hues and smatterings of purple paint this pretty picture.
A stare down at Rheisa descending, and Stavros takes a deep, fortifying breath. "How bad can it be?" he says aloud, daring the universe. He mimics her movements, grabbing foliage and feeling for footholds to dig his boots into. The tree branches should maybe be easier, but- he reaches out for the branch, misses it, stretches, and his fingers touch it- just as his left hand gives way. Then the branches prove their use, as he hits them all on the way down. When he finally spirals down to the ground, he pushes himself into a roll that eats up some of the momentum, sparing him additional trauma. Yes, he'll be covered in purple bruises- "Ow," he says, holding the small of his back as he rises to his feet. "First!" he announces proudly. He beat Rheisa, by taking a beating himself. What is all that mad chittering and cawing?
"Great," Ryo says flatly, clearly missing the affectations of his space yacht. But, he's being paid for this. Probably. Maybe.
And so he sets on after her, doing his best to follow her feet. Ryo's luck runs out, though, when his boot snags on one of those friendly little branches and sends the man tumbling down the incline. Thankfully, he keeps his head, digging in his heels and elbows where he can to make sure that this plummet doesn't prove fatal. Sliding to a stop near Stavros, the gambler just sprawls out on the ground, looking over at the Zeltron. "This is goin' great, eh?"
Kasia is here and focused on keeping up with everyone, focused on not tripping over things, or slugs, or stepping into piles of bitey things, and also trying to breathe. She's fluffy, ok, so she's out of breath by the time they reach the slope. Lacking a spear, she doesn't really have anything to steady herself with as she moves with each step, but she tries.
The first couple steps are alright, step-shuffle-step, she's got it! She doesn't. It all goes wrong. It's hard to say exactly what causes it, but one moment she's upright, and the next she's falling sideways which results in a wack of noggin against the ground. The descent doesn't stop there though, oh no, she's in it for the whole ugly ride, with a particularly brutal slap of her left leg against something unforgiving, finally coming to a stop when the ground evens out. There's a moment where she's just laying still, thoroughly dazed and trying to figure out just how hurt she is, and then the pain catches up with her. Yup, she's hurt, and she lets it be known with a pained groan, thankfully nothing is obviously broken or bent in the wrong direction, but she's bloodied and bruised, there's a swelling on her forehead and one hand is clutching in the general vicinity of her left ankle.
Hopefully they are close to their first stop, because she's not going far.
Speaking of grass? Jehni'va Cihn has been lost for the better part of an hour. The pilot is easily distractible and even easier to misplace. Meanwhile? Crona has kept with the pack like a smart little monster - most likely tailing after her favorite, chubby grutaling. Her owner? Much less so. Jehn was distracted by a hole in the ground - she didn't put her foot in it, she didn't fall - but the break in the grasslands stole her attention long enough to thoroughly separate her from the group. Has it been long enough for people to start worrying? Absolutely. Has she started worrying? Absolutely not. After all, this hole is interesting - who knows what could be living down there?!
Crouching down, the pilot extends a hand... And then stops. This is the planet that made Rheisa - surely, sticking her hand down the hole is a bad idea. And so, Jehni'va refrains. It's in this position that Crona, loyal enough to go looking for the one that feeds her, finds the pilot - and, luckily, is a trusty enough guide to return Jehn to her sticky, stingy, still-alive party. "What I miss?" She beams, no worse for wear.
Rheisa's heart beats faster in her chest, body falls into a forgot rhythm as she freakin glides through the forested slope from one foot hold to another. They're close. So close. If she kept up this pace, they'd be at her last KNOWN familial camp by sundown. Just in time for the fires and the feasting and the stories. The stories!
But she's forgotten one crucial detail, which the sounds of pained groans below remind her of. Her family - this family - is not Togruta. The native woman alters her course to swoop down upon the fallen and assess damage. A frown sets lightly into her browline, even as lips curl softly upward into an encouraging smile.
"At least there are no bad mens with blasters or slavers waiting to kill, no?" Umak hops off her back in favor of waving idiotically at the reappearing human at the top of the ridgeline. "You can stand?" She offers an arm down.
"Comrro!" the boy chirps and then scurries back to Aunty Kasia to investigate that swelling bruise on her head with assuredly helpful fingers and a sympathetic whine.
Stavros heads over to Kasia, assessing the bruises. "Ouch. Here." He looks for some fallen wood that could serve as something of an extremely-awkward cane you have to avoid stabbing yourself with. "I like that thing's fur." Stavros tilts his head in the direction of a yellow-purple alien monkey to possibly distract Kasia. "I really _don't_ like those huge, golden eyes it's staring at us with, and its hands are kind of uncanny-looking, aren't they?"
"That's...is it coming for us?" Ryo asks, still laying on the ground. His hand pats around for the gun that's supposed to be in his holster. Nope, not there. Pat around at the ground beside him. Is that it? Nope, that's Stavros's foot. Not a great weapon, but it'd do in a bind. Still, he continues. Pat. Pat. Pat. Still, the monkey approacheth.
PAT. PAT. PAT. Pistol grip? Pistol grip. He snatches it up and aims towards the tree. A shot screams out, but his quarry's too quick.
"EEEEE!" screams the Taztuk'a'a, and leaps to another branch with freakish agility.
Kasia hasn't even made any effort to sit up by the time Rheisa reaches her, because everything hurts and she's pretty sure she's dying. She isn't, but she's still sure of it. "I don't know," she admits to Rheisa, reaching out a scraped up hand to gently ensure Umak doesn't touch the swelling lump on her head. "Careful there, buddy, I'm a little bit broken right now." There's blood trickling from one noes, from a number of scrapes, there'a a tear in her shirt up one arm, and that ankle is already swelling. "It's probably here to eat us," she informs Stavros before ever so slowly begins to push up, making it up onto her elbows before she stops again, grimacing. Ow. She doesn't even scold Ryo for shooting at wildlife, so you know she's beat up pretty good.
This climb is proving to be more difficult than Jehni'va's optimism led her to believe. The anooba, of course, is gone - she has her own way down, or is just quick and sturdy enough to make the way down in steady, beastial leaps. Jehn? Not so much. She loses her footing almost immediately and goes crashing down towards the distant ground, snatching at anything that could break or slow her fall. There is a brief moment of eye contact with an alien creature as the pilot goes tumbling past the Taztuk'a'a, and Jehn only has time to grunt out a friendly "hi!" before she lands on her back in the dirt.
But, to be fair - as far as landings go? Especially for Jehn? 10/10.
She ducks reflexively as Ryo's blaster discharges near her. And Jehn? Her survival instincts aren't great. She leaps upright, her arms raised, and hums in a low, cooing tone deep in her throat. Be at peace, little murder monkey - it's all good. "It's actually pretty cute."
Well...baka. Rheisa nods encouragingly to the makeshift cane that Stavros has found, but any homeopathic wisdom she might have to offer is halted by two things: INBOUND JEHN! Also, Ryo's trying to murder harmless wildlife.
"Ach! Nah!" the Togruta scolds, knocking the spear shaft aside as a means to swat the offending Ryo. "Is taztuk'a'a! Little ancestor. Unless you made of fruit, is nothing you need fear from him."
Umak leaves Kasia's face alone and tucks himself under one of her arms instead, then tries to stand like he's going to shoulder her weight. What chivalry!!
As for Taztuk'a'a, the brush with loud noise and bright light otherwise known as DEATH is forgotten soon as Jehn's arms come up she croons away the hurt feels. Really, his eyes are focused on that fascinatingly RED scarf the woman wears and so overwhelmed by covetous urges is he, that he refocuses his missions from fleeing to stealing. Before the stealing can happen of course, he must get within reach. A raucous sort of chitterchittercheeeeeeee puffs out his throat before making the leap of faith into those uplifted arms.
And while the little marsupial-ish creature is showing an intimate interest in the disheveled party of aliens in his forest, the other wildlife is suddenly...quiet. Indigo ferns rustle, thin branches sway - the only evidence that the formerly noisy occupants were ever there.
Stavros goes still. "I think there's somebody over there." His eyes drift past the spot on purpose, so maybe it won't know it's spotted. "Black and white horn, next to a tree. And something in the ferns. That eye looks... a little too much like a somebody than a something."
"Well...go get 'em," Ryo answers Stavros, finally managing to push himself back up to his feet. He slaps some dust off of his clothes and looks over at the monkey that's now under Jehni's protection. "I should see if you can pull that trick with my ex wife," Ryo asides, sliding his blaster back into its holster.
Kasia doesn't make it to her feet yet, but with Umak's assistance she's sitting all the way up, and then stops there. The young Togruta boy is pulled close into a hug with one arm that turns vaguely protective at the words from Stavros. "Is that blood?" she asks, angling her battered head to point at a spot on the ground a little to far away to reasonably be from her. It's with another grimace that she sits up straighter, a hand going to the still closed bag that hung onto her the whole fall. It's just that the back itself is behind her now, but quietly struggles to pull it back around to her front.
With her new friend in tow, Jehni'va turns a cheeky wink towards Ryo. "I did. She says 'hi'." Snatching fingers are delicately discouraged from theft, though Jehn does realize that it is a losing battle. "Siha gave that to me; you cannot have, little friend!" The pilot continues to croon at the primate, puffing her cheeks out to put small puffs of air at its face. She's in love - everyone knew that this is what would happen. But something catches her attention and it sways her gaze away from her tree friend. "Um, guys." Jehn pauses, tilting her head as she gazes into the ferns. "The plants have eyes." Returning to the group, Crona gives a soft growl from behind Jehn. "Well, this is all rather ominous. This, uh... Just how this neighborhood is, Rhe? How about you, huh? Are your friends here to eat us?" The latter questions are accompanied with a lapse into baby talk most certainly directed at the Taztuk'a'a.
Taztuk'a'a's got all day and aaaall night to secure a grip on that scarf, yup he has! He's also aware though that they aren't alone, so becomes one with Jehn's torso, just latching on like second layer and accepting the jibberjabberbabytalk as a consequence of securing safe harbor. Away from the silent ones there. Just there.
A shift of color passing through the underbrush goes still. Between a part in the leaves, that golden eye blinks once to refresh its stare. Rheisa does not seem to notice that anything?s amiss. At least, she isn?t reaching for a weapon. All she does is sit. And wait. And encourage others to do the same. "Is better if you are still, now," she advises once and once only, weight settled back onto her haunches, ready to spring into action, should this turn south. "If you shoot, you will die."
One by one, the hunting party members reveal themselves. A rise of montrals here, an emergence of striped arm there...the forest stillness reanimates but instead of pretty birds and mischievous taztuk?a?a, the motley pack from Nar Shaddaa now faces a number of Togruta. Just four. For now.
A female of mature but indeterminate age, a male of similar status, and one who appears a little lankier and full of piss and vinegar. And then there?s the big boy - musculature surpassing the rest by a smidge and projecting an air of confidence that you can practically smell. This is the alpha. Big, red, prime example of what evolution has shaped the Togruta to be. His ancestors must be proud. If pride were a thing, among these overly cooperative folk.
All are silent for a moment, just staring at the interlopers caught within their loose circle. The woman takes a few tentative steps forward then a quick halfstep back like she stepped on a burning coal. A single syllable shouts alarm, hands flying to cover first her eyes, then her mouth to poorly muffle the keening sound coming from within.
Maybe they trampled a sacred plant? Rheisa remains motionless and entirely unhelpful in clearing up this situation. Big boy's arm comes up halfway, gripping a hatchet, and freezes there like he's unsure about what to do. A barked command that sounds abrasive directs toward the screaming woman and he points to Rheisa rattling off a few more grunts with a gnashing of teeth and sorta scornful sneer. Scorn mingled with a touch of...something. Fear?
Grinning at Jehni, Ryo then turns to investigate the apparent 'plants with eyes' that Stavros pointed out. Oh, snap; it's not plants, it's gross aliens. Ryo swallows hard and moves to half-unzip the upper part of his bodysuit, showing off his /very/ seductive 'I'm a Shill for Shili' novelty t-shirt that he picked up at the store, but more importantly, drawing attention to his ripped(?) human musculature. "Easy, now, killers," Ryo begins, a little more bass in his voice than normal, a sort of authoritative affectation. "No reason to go spilling blood all over these pretty plants. We just gonna keep on our little trip, alright?" A hand lifts to brush a few wayward hairs out of his face before tucking a few more behind his ears. "So, how about you cool cats just let us slip on by? That sound good?" To Ryo's own group; "I think that sounds pretty good, don't you guys?"
Turning back to the Togruta, he raises his hands, palms out, and smiles a winning smile, doing his best to make sure he doesn't get speared.
Kasia is already sitting, so she's got the advantage there, also she's bleeding and looks pretty beat up, and therefore not all that much of a threat. She's still got an arm around Umak, trying to keep him from getting too rowdy, if he remains with her. "So, uh, are these the people we're looking for, Rheisa?" she asks in as non-threatening a tone as she can manage.
"Not to sound racist, but..." Jehn mutters back to Kasia, slowly lowering herself and her passenger. A hand goes to the anooba's neck scruff, pulling Crona down as well.
"...Probably?" Ryo earns the longest of eyebrow raises, and the tall pilot tries to shrink just a little bit smaller between the tusked canine and her party members. She doesn't make eye contact - because she's never been and never will be 'alpha' anything.
"Yes." Rheisa whispers. To all questions.
“Te’aan nah, meh’a,” the male beside the wailing one grunts while she attempts another step forward into this sparse circle they?ve made around the foreign figures. She is not quiet, and so the younger male moves to grab at her arm. There’s a time and place to assert one’s self, but the young man is erroneous to think that time is now. In a flash, his grip is dislodged and raked welts upon his forearm well up with blood. Somebody doesn’t trim her nails.
“Ta!” The woman and man ‘gruta hiss in tandem, while the former retracts her forward advance in favor of lifting a hand threateningly to the teen for a second swat. It’s not needed, and he submits with averted eyes, pretending as though the moment’s spat hadn’t occurred. Also, that hairy-head over there is saying things and peeling open his crazy skin to reveal a second garment underneath and that’s a pretty cool thing. Teenage ‘gruta man mirrors Ryo’s smile with a parroted imitation and a blank expression that says he hasn’t a damn clue what words came outta that mouth.
The apparent leader rumbles speech at the intruders, between glances at Rheisa, who shifts from her crouching to bended knees and slips a sideways nods to Kasia. A thrum confirms her guess and also serves to pacify whatever superstitious fear was building in the big boy. Ryo doesn?t get a hatchet to the face or a spear to the gut. The woman, meanwhile, has turned ninety degrees away and resumed her worried noises, just at a much quieter volume. A low hum.
“Mi comrro anak ke yeh. Du tah dahk,” Rheisa directs to big boy as he finally moves in to tower over. “Du tah...Kuhk me anak ke yeh.” A pause, then a synopsis in Basic. “They are not here to make harm against you. Asusir.” And she angles her chin down, bowing-not bowing a few awkward degrees forward in his shadow.
Umak, meanwhile, is not making Kasia's job easy over there. This is the first time he's seen so many people like him in one place before. That he can remember, anyway. The urge to impress is strong, with this one. He squirms.
"I think this means we won," Ryo says, looking back at everybody. "Also, I think I'm probably married to one, if not all of them, now." He doesn't seem too concerned, still standing there. His hands move to his hips and he looks around at the concerned natives.
There is a lot happening here, a lot with the Togruta, inter-workings with them that she doesn't understand, language she doesn't understand, and a squirming child who is trying to flex to it all. Kasia manages to keep one arm firmly around the boy, but it's a struggle to do so. He's a wiry little punk. "Umak, no. Umak stay here with me-- no. Ow. Stop." She's so good with kids. Her eyes snap back as there's scratching, and cowering, and there's something resembling charm happening over in Ryo's direction but she's too busy with the child to pay too much attention to that. "Do we just keep sitting here?" she asks Rhesia in a whisper that isn't really much of a whisper, because it has to be loud enough to carry, which means probably everyone heard it.
There are times and places that Stavros has charmed and talked his way out of trouble. Deliberate primitives in the untamed wildlands are not his scene, though, so he is doing nothing but stay with Kasia. He takes advantage of the moment to try to relax Umak, touching gently and trying to soothe him with shoulder rubs and back rubs and a gentle humming noise. Whatever prevents this from turning into a bloody spat. When Umak responds exceptionally well to being rubbed on the head, pushing into it not unlike a cat, he focuses up there, letting his fingertips work gently on his scalp.
"Seems... Okay, right?" Jehn asks, eyes nervously darting between New Togruta and Familiar Togruta, though a gentle head pat is spared for the mischief-monkey and the tusky murder hound she's dragging along with her. Umak's wriggling and struggling is making his friend nervous, and Crona is beginning to mirror him - whines and huffs and fidgets. Jehn has too many animals, here. "We should have discussed the cultural specifics a little more on the flight, maybe." She decides, shifting with the anxious hound, moving her weight to press the canine down towards the ground. "What do?"
It's true, the boy does love him some head rubs. Years from now he will look back on this day with prideful denial but in this moment, he's caring less and less about showing off and more about just lounging here against Kasia's softness under the ministrations of Stavros' sluggy, muddy fingers. It's like some weird tiger balm sensation happening up there now, all warm and tingling, less itchy and hurty than it'd been all stupid day.
"Like I say, do as I do," Rheisa reminds those who're getting antsy. "The last time these eyes have seen me, I was a dead woman. Or soon to be." Same thing, in this land of terrible beasts. "To them, I am ghost." But not for long!
Asusir bends to inspect this noisy phantom Rheisa more manually, eyeing Umak uneasily as he does so. The little boy...he is no doubt Togruta. But is he of her flesh? He could be, maybe, if he was big for his age, but...Asusir has his doubts. A rude finger probes her belly while he forcibly turns her head aside and inspects the back of her neck. No scars, apart from the parting gifts of the Akul which he'd THOUGHT had rid them of her weakness. A hand to her chest seeks that which is no longer there. No broken rhythm. No fluttering death. What madness is this? His expression reads it loudly and clear to her face alone, before turning a more stoney look to his kin over shoulder.
"Det mehkt unt e' d'majj!" He announces to those hanging back nervously. The dead one is of flesh. "Nah shili'neh." No spirits here.
And now...now his unwelcoming stare turns to examine the strange peoples that this 'tazi' has led so dangerously close to home. Kasia?s abundant, albeit battered curves, all the gear, the weapons, that inexplicably suave dude with cryptic symbols on his shirt (Ryo) and lastly the animal under Jehni'va's control. Harumph. He straightens back out, releasing Rheisa from his steely grip in favor of moving in on Ryo to ... crook a finger around that zipper. *Zoot* *Zeeet* *Zooot* His upper lip crooks into something akin to a smile. This reaction to a zipper is admittedly not unlike the one Rheisa had when she was dragged into a store to purchase real people clothes. For a moment, big guy seems as harmless as taztuk'a'a over there.
"You look fine to me," Ryo says to Rheisa, looking the woman over for a minute before there's another alien tugging on his zipper. "Yeah, I think I'm definitely married to this one," he muses. "I could've done worse for myself, truth be told."
Kasia's brows furrow at Rheisa's words, but she does as is asked of her and remains right there on the ground. Not that she'd be jumping up of the chance to presented itself, her ankle is still throbbing, she's still battered, she's not going anywhere fast. At least Umak has stopped struggling thanks to Stavros and his ability to massage headtails, so she just remains there with the arm around the boy, watching and listening to the others for now.
"You really could have." Jehn blinks up at Ryo, watching the display of dominant Rheisa-inspection, zipper inspection, and montral rubs with mounting anxiety and confusion. "I mean... Damn." Someone had to say it. Look at those biceps - even she can appreciate that. But, back in the important present: "doing as you do." Jehn repeats, still occupied with an anooba and the native primate, though she focuses on the keening older woman, and gives a gentle dip of her head to her. It seems like a good grandma greeting.
Asusir's had his fun. Ryo's suit zipper is longer a mystery and he backs off. "Rrreesa Dirleel. Leader of the...." this dude's totally speaking Basic right now, expression on his face hinting he's enjoyed the ruse of ignorance, even if his accent is heavier, more difficult to listen through than Rheisa's. "...broken people. You may join us, to home. If you can keep up." A final jab to the resurrected Rheisa before he turns to lead the hunting party's procession away. "Ghe!" A muscled bicep curl retrieves some floppily dead, hooved animal from his earlier hiding place and drapes it over shoulder.
The maybe-older-than-Rheisa woman has stopped her moaning over there, but Jehn's friendly nod is met with a silent stare. The others make like the leader and pickup their own, field-dressed game. Unnerved lady picks up several dully feathered fowl, all strung together by their feet. The sassy younger male hefts up some big lizard and the older male holds two more. The men move on along but woman hangs back, sneaking a moment's eye contact to Rheisa, but a sharp bark from their commander gets her moving again, albeit reluctantly in his wake.
On the upside, there's now a clearer(for time being) game trail to follow along to camp. On the more real, dire side, Kasia's ankle's in shit shape. Rheisa exhales looong and slooooow once the tense encounter is at end. She advances on Kasia on hands and knees. "Need to get you up. Between the many of us, can help walk, yes? You can rest in safe place, but first we need get there. Is not far. Less far than ship." The inner voice tells Rheisa what she ought do. Leave the weakness and press on! But having been there, on the abandoned side of things, Rheisa would rather accept the slower pace than condemn a friend to the same fate. She touches the ankle lightly, unsure of what to do about it right now, then brushes some hair back from the noggin knock with a gentle, sisterly touch. And a purr. Sort of. The happy sound is tentatively emitted from that reservoir of less humanoid sounds she oft produces. "Am sorry you hurt. All of you. But is better soon...you will see." "I can think of about a million ways that could've gone worse," Ryo says as the aliens turn to march off down the trail. He breathes a sigh of relief and turns to regroup with the former Deflings. Squatting down next to Kasia, he looks her over and says, "That looks like it sucks." In his own professional opinion, of course.
On other fronts, namely Jehn's, this is Taztuk'a'a's chance! He plants his little feet against the woman's chest while seizing hold of her scarf in both spidery hands and shoves off!!!!! Only to be bounced back when that scarf catches on her clothes/neck.
If you can keep up. Kasia blanches slightly at that jab, even if it wasn't truly aimed at her, because there's no question that right now she's the weak link in the group. "I'll try," she murmurs to the familiar adult Togruta, and looks up to others for help to her feet. The ankle is really swelling badly now, and if it's not broken, it's a nasty sprain. She gives Rheisa a little smile at the apology, head shaking a smidge. "You don't need to apologize, I knew injury was a risk when coming, it's just the way of things. I'll be fine, I just need a little time." For now, she needs to get up though, holding up her hands to whoever will help, and struggling to get to her feet. It hurts a lot, but provided there is help, she'll manage to get up onto the one good leg she's got.
"A million and o-HRK!" Jehni'va's sentiment is cut short as her breath is stolen, the scarf tightening around her neck with sudden ferocity. "N-No, no." She wheezes, prying long fingers from the fabric. "Th-That's a good critter. Go back to your trees." Does it show growth that she isn't keeping the primate? Maybe. Maybe she's just bitter about the scarf, maybe she can see the soul-crushing guilt-inducing stare Crona is beaming her way. "Up an' attem." She agrees, sliding into a place under Kasia's other arm to help haul her off and along, anooba trotting along ahead.
And so it is that the 'broken people' are permitted to gimp along together, unmolested through the territory as they make their final trek to Rheisa's home. Maybe the welcoming committee there will in fact be welcoming, unlike whatever this encounter was. Maybe there will be food. Maybe there will be soap! Dreamers can dream...