PHD #185: EVENT - Sink or Swim
EVENT: Sink or Swim
Summary: Cidra and Trask trek to the cavern of Stygianuvrro to ask for counsel upon a matter of the Souls. ST: Evandreus
Date: 30 Aug 2041 AE (backscened on Sep 14-15)
Related Logs: The Widening Gyre, Ancestor Worship, & Consignation
Cidra Trask NPC 
Sagittaron - Somewhere in the Jharkand Basin
Finding a place to land near the second set of coordinates isn't quite as easy as setting a bird down on a patch of marsh grass. These rugged, rock-strews woodlands showed signs of scattered fires from above, and the area is known for small pockets of accessible caverns that made these woods a perfect hiding place for those who know them well as well as something of a deathtrap for those who try to come after them.
Post-Holocaust Day: #185

The second time Colonial forces approach the sacred ridge, its tenders are mildly more receptive than the first time— at least inasmuch as they don't attempt to lie in ambush for their visitors, but, their collection of arms in hand, they go out to meet them face-to-face and barrel to barrel, if it should come to that.

There's enough Raptor traffic going in and out of the farmstead that one more going out for a search flight isn't strictly unusual. And the ones who would be likely to note it as unusual, the CAG and the Harriers SL, were aboard. So it all works out nicely. Cidra has already parked the big bird on the turf. She's wearing her sidearm, of course. Standard flight-gear as it is. "Perhaps we should have brought Money Shot along," she ponders, too late to do anything about it, as she powers down the ship. A slightly more reluctant "Or Shiv" is added. "I know little of the Hades cults in general, and everything I learn of Sagittaron practices in specific reminds me of how much I do *not* know."

The ECO console is likewise powered down. "Doooo the opposite, then…?" Trask knows even less than the CAG does, if his pseudo self-deprecating expression of 'frakked if I know' cluelessness is any indication. "We have a bit of a welcoming party," is noted. "Hope they don't mind that we've dropped by uninvited." Unfastened, he rises to his feet and gets the Raptor's hatch open.

Standard flight gear aboard the Victory consisted of combat dress. After all, flying in atmo negates the need for a space suit, and the reality of one's bird possibly being shot down by people willing to finish the job with assault rifles means that kevlar will never go out of style. That, and the heavy pistol all members of Air Wing carry when on-duty. Even though Bootstrap serves aboard Cerberus, these days, he's definitely kickin' it old skool.

"«Hi.»" It's Sagittaran. A backwater dialect from a Jharkhand Basin hamlet, no less. Spoken with the ghettotrash accent of a Black Country boy from the dark heart of Flint. Slowly stepping into view, the Harriers' SL lifts his hands in the universal gesture of plz don't shoot me and I'm not gonna shoot you, k.

Memruon and his daughter are already coming up from the caves behind the battle line of first responders to the scene. He rests his hand on one of the men's shoulders in a familiar fashion, and he steps to one side and lets Akhaeno pass. "You're returned, Airsoldiers," she points out. "Will you allow yourselves to be welcomed in our sanctuary?"

"Apostolos said they were not violent," Cidra says. She sounds confident enough. But, then, the CAG has perfected the ability to *fake* confidence in the face of confidence-murdering situations. Once the doors are open, out she goes. Palms likewise held aloft. She comes in peace. "I am Cidra Hahn. This is Kal Trask. We have come in peace, and to ask for counsel upon a matter of the Souls." She's hoping *someone* there speaks Standard. Her Gemenese accent does strange, strange things to even Sagittaron place names. She's not even going to try an actual greeting. A pause and she adds an affirmative, "If you deem us worthy, we would be honored to be welcomed."

"Merova, jis al fir hamaxenarin san adronal," Akhaeno tells the man her father's holding by the shoulder, then, to Trask, switching languages with reasonable facility, "Go with my brother Merov, he will make you our guest in the men's chambers." She regards Cidra, next, "Come with me. We will all be reunited shortly," she assures the both of them, in case they seem anxious about being split up so.

This is one of many times that Trask really should let someone else handle the talking. It also is one of few times that he actually does just that. Mostly, anyhow. "«Thanks.»" Ulixes can usually make out what he's saying. Admittedly, the pilot should, largely being the one who taught the Taurian what little of the language that he knows. Here's hoping that the natives present can make heads or tails of the bull's pronunciation. Lowering his hands, he faintly tips his chin in greeting. "«Hi.»" Yes, he already said that. "I really hope you speak what I speak 'cuz I've just about used up all the polite phrases I know," is then remarked in Colonial Standard.

Cidra exchanges a look with Trask. A carefully neutral look at the idea of being separated. Though she does give him a small nod. She'll be just fine. Really. If she fears otherwise, it isn't readily apparent. "All right," she says to the woman. "We… thank you for your hospitality." All Colonial Standard from her.

The two are parted, yes, but they're reunited as promptly as was promised, only kept apart long enough to do the things it isn't seemly to do in the company of the opposite sex. Including, evidently, the taking of tea and the washing of hands and feet in preparation for entering the sacred spaces. Cidra is offered — very politely, mind — the use of a headscarf to make herself less obscene in the eyes of men and the Lords, and both of them are offered food to eat before they're brought together again in a confluence in the winding caverns. "Honored guests. Tell us— from where have you come, and for what purpose arrived on sacred ground?" It sounds like a formula, a highly ritualized 'what do you want?'

As long as it's not liquor, Trask won't decline. He even refrains from asking if a massage is included with the washing of his hands and feet. Enjoy the rare moment of true solemnity while is lasts, Major Hahn. And since all of this smacks of ritual, the ECO opts to stay on his prior course of letting Cidra handle it all.

Cidra accepts the headscarf, just as politely asking for instruction and assistance on how to properly wear it. So she's properly wrapped when she rejoins Trask and company. Her manner is composed and extremely respectful. Still, she offers Trask the barest hint of a smile as they are joined up with each other again. All food and drink is accepted gladly. "Once again, we thank you most for your hospitality," she says. A look to Trask before she goes on. "We are both officers in the Colonial military. We come from the Battlestar Cerberus, properly, as did those of our company you met previously. More locally, we are encamped down the hill in an old farmstead in the basin." A pause and another look to Trask before she adds, "I was told by one of my officers, one of your countrywomen, that you were in communion with the souls lost upon this world. That you could offer them guidance to… what lies beyond."

"We do what we can for them," Akhaeno replies. It seems to be a stock answer in her repertoire, or at least a Colonial calque on one. "But we are few, and… they are many. And Cumaea… Cumaea is not well. But she of all of us is most skilled at aiding the lost to cross the waters," she consents to admit.

Cidra's smile prompts a faint flicker from the corners of Kal's mouth, but it lacks any semblance of sentiment. Indeed, the man is at ill ease, betrayed by a certain vulnerability in those soulful brown eyes of his that is absent from the rest of his bearing. At the mention of Cumaea's state, a quizzical look forms, complete with furrowed brow and canting of head. "Not well? Is she in need of medical attention? We have personnel trained in Sagittaran healing practices."

Cidra awaits the answer to Trask's question pensively. "One of our medics aboard is Sagittaran. I know there is some objection among many of your people to off-world medical practices but… if there is something we can do that you could find proper, we would offer it gladly."

"We have a healer living with us," Akhaeno assures the both of them. "For a mortal being to attempt what tasks belong to the Lords themselves… it… tires a person. Takes from them years from their lives at a time. I myself only lasted two months before I needed to stop and take time to recover. I am not yet twenty six years." Which is… funny, since she looks as though she could be in her forties. Well. Maybe not -funny,- exactly.

The sound of Trask opening his mouth is audible, albeit not loud. It merely is the intake of air that precedes something that was about to be said actually not being said. The importance of what he needs from these people manages to trump his assorted socially-damaging defense mechanisms. Instead, he asks, "Is there nothing that can be done to make things easier? I mean, I'm not suggesting shoving souls into the Styx and letting them sink or swim…" Never mind that the thought has crossed his ever pragmatic mind. Then circled 'round the block a few times, driving by slowly before finally parking in the street some 3 houses away. Mostly, though, the man is befuddled. "Just…" Beat. "I mean…" Another beat. "That is…" Closing his eyes, a sigh is exhaled. Frak it, concludes he. "Look, I realize that it's douchey of me to even inquire — not to mention probably pointless — but what the hells is it that you do that causes crap like that to happen?"

Cidra's cloudy blue eyes regard Akhaeno again as the woman gives her age. It's not surprise, precisely. She's good at schooling her features against such fits and starts. Though it definitely was not the age the CAG would have put to her. She's not going to ask about such things herself, however. But Trask does. He earns a *look* from her. An apologetic one is then given back to Akhaeno. "Forgive my companion. He lacks… tact on occasion." A pause. "…most occasions."

"In fact, Mister Trask's representation of facts is not, on the surface of things, far from reality. The waters which flow in this cavern are Stygianuvrro," Akhaeno explains. "The upper waters of Styx. We baptize the souls in the water until they find their way. But this is not as simple a task as you have presumed it is, Mister Trask," she turns her attention to him. "Have you ever caught hold of a human soul before?"

"In my defense," Bootstrap starts to blithely protest to Toast before it veers into a confessed, "this is nothing new. However, I want it entered into the record that I at least said 'hells' and not 'frak'." And that's important. Or so he maintains. Attention then shifts back to Akhaeno. "No," is the deadpan admission that actually is the utmost serious, "but a human soul has caught hold of me. More than once." Disregard the impassive expression. The disquiet is evident in his eyes. Even when he tacks on, "And if the soul is that of the human I suspect it is, she could've been more thorough in her molestations of my person."

"Duly noted," Cidra says dry to Trask. Mostly, she lets him talk now, however. Sitting quiet, gaze shifting between him and the Sagittaran woman. Until… something else catches it. Her head turns abruptly, a hand reaching up to brush at her headscarf. It dislodges it a little, and she has to fuss with it to get it back in position. Eyes narrow now, looking sideways.

"The souls of the dead come here by the millions. It's not uncommon for pilgrims to this place to feel their presence. But they are vigorous energies and hard to lay hold upon," Akhaeno tells them. "And we have found no reliable way to tell one from the other. Equal are they, laid low by death," she remarks in regard to Trask's presumption of which soul in particular he's been feeling. "If you would like to come down to the river's side, I will take you there. Let you feel for yourselves how many are here."

The ECO does not at all miss his cue. "Oh, she's yet to get frisky in here." It's true. Trask has only been not-quite-groped when sitting at his console aboard a Raptor. "An' if it's not her, I suppose there might've been a few people aboard the Victory that wanted to feel me up but never had the opportunity. If it is her, she's no small amount more equal than others to me, if you understand my meaning, even if the boatman doesn't play favorites." That mouth? It runs much like steam whistling out of a pressure cooker lest his emotions boil over and explode into one terrible mess. "But yeah," he adds with a faint nod in regard to going down by the river, "I'm willin' to see if I can determine who's bein' overly friendly."

"I would like to see this, if you would allow me the honor," Cidra says softly. Her tone a little awed at the prospect. Fingers brush the fabric of the scarf about her head again, though she takes care not to muss it again. "My companion… lost someone dear to him upon this world not many days past. Part of our quest to come here was to find out if there was something that might be done for her." A pause and she adds gravely, "We could not recover her remains. There is likely… little left to give proper rites to."

Akhaeno begins to look just a little bit pensive as the ECO slings great quantities of Colonial at her at once, peppered as it is with colloquialisms that leave her half-shaking her head from time to time, mouth just a little bit open in nascent befuddlement nipped in the proverbial bud as Cidra explains the situation in more accessible language. "I understand. You wish to know that your wife will be safely escorted to the further shore. I can only pledge that we do all that we can for as many as we can who come to us— for whatever comfort you may find there. Come, and I will show you." And she turns to lead them down another length of cavernous descent, toward where the sounds of moving water are cut here and there with low moans.

"Wait— what?" Wife? Oh, ho-ho. Flabbergasted, thy be, Kal Trask. "N— no." Furrowed brow brings no further insights. Blink-blinking does little to banish the bemusement. "Shit. We never even frakked." Not that it matters. The woman in question managed to touch him somewhere far more profound than below the waist. The lack of grousing in his tone is suggestive of that. It also isn't the denial-slash-protestation of someone who had no interest in having seXXXy fun tiemz with the snipe. "What— whatever," he finally mutters, just a tad petulantly, rising and starting to follow. "That's not important." The fact that Penelope is dear is what matters.

"I suspect it is likely a matter of translation," Cidra says softly to Trask as she follows Akhaeno down into the cavern. "The words for those we are bonded to, in the ways we are bonded to them, are often… hard to find in Standard." Her head tilts upward at the sounds, low moans, as if straining her ears toward them. Straining to catch some bit of a phrase she can understand.

The groaning does not form words, sadly, and is very much this side of natural in origin. The great lake here is impressive in scope, with veins of metallic ores soaring through the rock overhead, off of which the torchlight's glinting, reflected brokenly in the rippling waters speared through here and there with a collection of stalagmites. On the rocky shore a woman — a girl, really, rolls around making those low warbling noises, half-sick, half-pained, while others try to coax her back into the robes which are falling off of her as she rolls and flails.

The lower the three of them descend into the tunnels, the more inevitable it becomes that they sense some presence shouldering its way past, or pushing a hand up from a back to a shoulder, or brushing a cheek, or bumping up behind a knee. One such encounter is followed by another, and by the time they're in the cavern proper, these momentary contacts are landing three or four a minute. Millions of souls, indeed. It's getting like walking in the midst of an invisible crowd, and only gets worse the closer to the water they get.

Sorry, Cid. Brooding Bootstrap is brooding. The upswing (for others) is that this means he is also silent, apart from body language, and that has been relegated to slightly narrowed eyes and the crumpled downward curve of his lips. For all intents and purposes, those moans are met with deaf ears. It might as well be white noise. The further the trio travels, though, the more those trapped between worlds draw the man out of his emotional miasma. At this point, there is tension in his shoulders, akin to someone reigning in an urge to shove back. Even the gentler gestures stir his ire, for he is rather particular about his personal space. More precisely, he hates being caught off-guard.

Cidra, for her part, turns more and more inward as they progress. She speaks not again, to Trask or their guide or anyone else. There is a hint of something akin to disappointment on her features as she identifies the noises as natural in origin. But that fades as they mix with the invisible crowd. She actually pauses, starting in surprise as they brush and bump her. A low murmur under her breath in Old Gemenese. She never provides a translation, though there's a hint of startled awe in her tone. And a trill of something akin to… happiness.

Akhaeno, for her part, moves through the crowd with an effortless ease, her simple robes visibly moving with the contact against her person. Her eyes light upon Cumaea in her agonies, and she watches her from across the shore for a long moment. "She is in quite a bad way, this day. I do not know that she will be able to guide the spirits in her current state."

Brown eyes flick towards the source of the Old Gemenese, but there is no rejoinder in any language. Instead, the Taurian inquires of their guide, "What happens then?" To the souls. "Will they get… lost?" Perhaps it's not the best word, but Kal's not the most deft navigating these waters.

"Remarkable…" Cidra breathes, reaching out her arms, fingertips wavering as if to try and touch the souls. Or whatever they are. Her eyes go to Cumaea. No pity in them. Just more intense curiosity. She says nothing more, awaiting the answer to Trask's query.

"They will wait. They will wait for time without end on the shore, those whom we cannot assist into the waters." Akhaeno looks across the waters— they ripple from time to time as invisible hands dip into the waters, creating a muted splashing that blends into the other myriad sounds of running water in the cavern. Cidra's hands are not left untouched for long, a succession of light tickling strokes lapping up her fingers and across her palm. "If you wish to witness the miracle of the immersion, I may have the strength to complete it for you. One of your people. Apostolos, daughter of Busiris. She demonstrated a great talent for handling the souls. We endeavored to convince her to remain and aid us in our labors. But her allegiance is pledged to your works, not ours."

"There's only one woman who's gonna prematurely age me, an' I'm not even sure she's here." Pragmatism isn't particularly charitable. Never mind that it's all likely moot. After all, odds are that Trask isn't the one being issued the offer. Perhaps he has an aura that flashes 'Trespassers Will Be Mocked On Site' in bright neon.

"Ah…!" Cidra exclaims soft, an expression of awe and… almost desperate relief coming to her face as she feels the… somethings lapping against her palm. "I can feel them. Gods be praised, I can feel them…!" She's kind of wondering off into her own little world here. But she manages to pull herself back with a shake of her head, at least momentarily, at Trask's words. "I would be honored. We would be honored. My companion… he still searches for the soul of this one. Could you tell if she is here? At all?"

"The shades do not speak," Akhaeno answers. "We have had many pilgrims hoping to see their loved ones across the river. They call to them, the threefold call of mourning, in hopes of naming the spirit into the hands of the handlers." She lifts her robes just slightly, not enough to expose her ankles, and begins to wade slowly into the water. "But we have found no way to identify any given spirit for certain."

"Words aren't always necessary to communicate," comes from Kal, a bit drily. "You are being such a woman, right now," he then facetiously chides into the air, head tilted a bit backwards, eyes theatrically rolling. "You just wanna see if I'll wade in the water an' go swimmin' with souls." Why, the man even goes so far as to mimic Penelope's accent and manner of speaking when he quibbles, "C'mon, Ducks. Shake a tail feather an' give us a waddle." Even so, trouser legs are being rolled up. Evidently, he's going to oblige the snipe who might not even be present.

Cidra carefully does not look at Trask as he mimics his departed Penelope. Perhaps to give him some illusion of privacy. And she's still absorbed in whatever it is she's trying to mojo from the caves. She stops at the shoreline to take off her boots. She'll wade in bare foot.

Akhaeno lets her robes go free when she gets into the water a little deeper, unwilling to hike her skirts up further than she has already. She trails through the water to where Cumaea is lying in it, her moans having subsided to a low whimper as sleep begins to soothe her. Lowering herself to her knees in the water, she carefully unclasps a necklace from around Cumaea's neck, drawing up the chain and the charm hanging from it, a sparrow fashioned from what looks like a piece of the ore that fills the place. If the souls were thick on shore, they're positively swarming over the waters, and wading through the water it almost begins to feel as though the water is much deeper than it is— the air is thick with the souls of the dead, seven or eight palpable against each person at any given time, in constant motion.

Boots off and sans socks, Bootstrap starts to follow. "Is it me or has it suddenly gotten more humid?" he asks Toast, actually somewhat serious. All these souls feel oppressive like a Scorpia delta heatwave. Swoosh, swoosh, the water gently churns as he walks through it. "Whoa!" he exclaims, as one ghost seemingly gropes him, judging by the way he veers his hips. "Okay, you're not Penny, so keep whatever the frak that is to yourself. Not that I'm not flattered, but I can barely commit to one soul, as is." Eyes then fall upon Cumaea. "She not gonna drown, is she?" Which is his way of asking whether or not he needs to prop her up.

Cidra is all in rapture now. She no longer even tries to say anything, just letting out soft "Ah" moans as she wades through the water of souls. Trask gets to be their spokesperson for the moment. For better or worse. She blinks at Cumaea, head tilting at the woman, but it's unclear precisely how closely she's looking at anything corporeal.

Akhaeno stands, looks down at the younger woman— girl, really— Cumaea can't be much more than fifteen or sixteen, though her eyes are sunken and her forehead is already marked with the first signs of wrinkles. "Let her sleep. If she dies, let her die in the water she served so well." She cradles the sparrow in both of her hands, and moves for deeper water, holding her hands out in front of her, the sparrow resting on its curved belly on the flats of her hands. "If she is with you. Tell her to take hold of the amulet." The amulet, of course, is already moving, buffeted here and there in the priestess' hands by the souls touching it.

It's an emotional reaction that the girl's state stirs, but it is conflicted and nebulous. Trask's mouth crinkles, as though he might say something. Since he can't quite decide how he feels about it all, no opinion is expressed. Instead, his attention shifts to Akhaeno.

Quietly, he clears his throat in a diminutively dramatic manner. Here goes nothing. Well, more like everything. "So, uh," another soft sound from the back of Boots' throat, this time involuntarily, "I dunno if you're here, Henny Penny, but, um, if you are an' you can hear me, take a hold of that bird amulet." Vulnerable emotional cripple is unsettled and unhappy vulnerable emotional cripple. "I bet you'll taste jelly beans, if you touch it." Penelope sure loves her jelly beans. "Or Deck coffee." That, too.

That said, there then is a pause, a faint frown, and an ill ease that surfaces. "«Or not, if it's frakked-up somehow. I can't tell. I'm only dead on the inside. Not that I need to tell you to no— actually, no, you would play with something dangerous. Maybe not soul-damningly so, though. I hope.» At this point, he is speaking in Aerilonian. "«Just lemme know if you're here, yeah?"» It's heartfelt, really, and the kind of thing would make anyone with a soft spot for a little boy lost to go weak and melty. Even those who have no idea what is actually being said. Trask being Trask, though, cannot avoid following-up with, "«You can totally rub my crotch, instead.»" Beat. "«Well, you can do that even if the amulet is kosher.»"

Cidra breaks out of her reverie, some, focus returning to Trask. Eyes blinking rapidly. Perhaps to clear a sudden onset of mist. Though her expression is one of a sort of desperate hope for him. Another murmur in Old Gemenese. Likely a prayer, or at least a plea. Perhaps for Penelope. Perhaps not.

Akhaeno lets her head waver from side to side, eyes half-focused and watching the amulet as it's shoved back and forth across her hands, bobbing and swaying and veering madly, only cupping her hands a little bit to keep it from being pushed off of her hands entirely. Her mouth opens and her shoulders tense as her hands shake and the bird actually begins to lift up off of her hands entirely, held in some invisible grip.

It is a bittersweet expression that overtakes him, a sudden and sharp inhalation of breath caught in his chest. Those large brown eyes glisten with tears that he is unsuccessful in choking back despite his best effort. So soulfully does he watch the levitating bird. Pathos looks awfully pretty upon his person. To someone who finds beauty in tragedy, the man is downright sublime in that ache. Swallowing a lump in his throat that still remains, one hand presses across his mouth, resulting in the forefinger catching some of what runs from his nose, the long, loud sniffle not amounting to much. The back of that hand is then rubbed against the nostrils, sticky lashes blinking to clear Kal's vision. "Now the other bit," he manages to get out, retreating into irreverence. Not that he expects Penelope to comply. A labored sigh and a rolling of her eyes is how they roll in this relationship, eventually capped with a ruffling of the smartass' hair.

There are tears trailing down Cidra's face now, too, as she watches Trask. Is that a touch of envy in her gaze? More than perhaps. Her inscrutability is a carefully maintained act which she isn't working terribly hard at right now. She remains silent, breathing deeply, eyes locked upon Trask and the amulet.

Now the other bit, indeed. The bird falters a few times, flopping down almost completely into the priestess' cupped palms, but she watches it intently, holding a breath and trying to fix it with a stare. Once she's satisfied that whoever has hold of it has got a good grip on the thing, she braces her toes against the stoney floor of the cavern and, body tensing head to toe, she grabs hold of whatever has hold of the bird, wrapping her hands tight around it and trying to lace her fingers shut so it can't escape. The act of grabbing a soul is evidently one that confers great pain upon the person doing so— at least, so a bystander would suppose from the screams of pain and the wracked body of the priestess as she howls, pitching from side to side with the force of the thrashing of whatever she's gotten hold of.

"What the— ?" Confusion. Disorientation. It takes a moment for what is happening to register. When it is nigh, however, a very animated Trask bellows at the would-be Shepherdess, "What the frak are you doing?!" Splash-splash-splashity-splash. Running through water is far from smooth going and even less so with waves of undulating souls crashing against his body. Like a linebacker, though, he hurls forward. "STOP!"

After all, sensible sort that he is, anything that is causing such thrashing cannot be a good thing. Why would people be fighting off someone trying to help them? If his Penny is bucking and kicking and clawing, something is very, very wrong.

"Do not try to stop it, Boots! It is glorious!" Cidra shouts, throwing her head back, tears still streaming down her cheeks. She's of no help to anyone just now.

Letting go is a lot easier than catching hold in the first place. Orders of magnitude easier. She doesn't even have to try— the soul in her hands is ripped away from her grasp and the priestess falls to her knees in the water, the sparrow amulet falling into the water with a plop, followed by a slow drip— dripdrip, red globules exploding into blossoms in the water, falling from Akhaeno's cut and bloodied hands.

Panic, pure and simple. Adrenaline is surging, and the man's priorities mean he's frantically calling out, "Penny?!" Eyes dart. Head rapidly turns. "Penny?!" The dropping of the amulet… the blossoms of blood in the water… these things remain unnoticed, even as he balefully demands, "What did you do to her?!" The bull is seeing red. If he's not soothed — and soon — Akhaeno will find herself bleeding from more than just her hands.

The sound of Trask's voice pulls Cidra out her reverie again. Like a jolt this time. "Bootstrap! Stop!" she calls out, voice cracking like a whip. Tone of command in it when she realizes what he's on to do. She runs to catch him. Though she can't 'run', really, in the water. It's more a labored wading, through that feeling of sensation around her.

Akhaeno holds her torn hands in front of her, her upper arms twitching just slightly as she remains on her knees. The yelling hardly seems to register with her— her eyes glaze over and, ever so gracefully, her knees decline to support her and she slides forward and facedown into the water.

Skin is flushed. Breathing is agitated. Fists are tightly clenched. Body is tense like a spring about to be sprung. Eyes are wild and wide. There are very good reasons why Kal Trask goes through life dealing with conflict via flippancy and humor. The alternative coping mechanisms are ugly and unnerving, indeed. Just how much of his father's violent temper he might channel remains unknown, for the target of his wrath has slumped into the water. "Oh, no," he exclaims, still animated. "Oh, nonono…" Trepidation suddenly trumps all. Swiftly as he can muster, he's fishing out the priestess lest she drowns. Never mind that she might already be dead. It's a possibility that loiters in the corridors of his unconscious mind.

Cidra struggles over to the priestess as well, also moving to assist in fishing her out. Watching Trask with slightly widened eyes as she does so. She has rarely seen the man without his composure intact. It takes her aback.

The priestess certainly isn't showing any of the usual signs of life. Moving, talking, coughing, anything like that. For a more thorough examination, it'd probably be best to bring her to shore. Remarkably, all the screaming that's happened down here hasn't brought anyone running. Probably because the sounds of screaming are so common from down this way. But, eventually, Akhaeno's brother does arrive on the scene, presumably to watch the souls be baptized. But at the sight of the two strangers dragging his sister's body out of the water, he begins to go on at the pair of them in a heavily agitated-sounding Sagittarian.

It is one thing to see the man pissed-off enough to result in scathing sarcasm and acerbic statements. Although it doesn't happen often, it likewise is not outside the scope of Bootstrap's character to raise his voice. Looking like he might maul someone? That's the kind of notion that would cause a whole lotta cognitive dissonance in pretty much anyone who knows him. In his defense, however, he has always been viciously protective of his loved ones, and Penelope's eternal soul is, in his mind, at stake.

As for Akhaeno and her fate, a sidelong look is cast at Cidra when he asks, "Is she…?" You know. Dead. Regardless, he's hauling the priestess back to shore.

At the sound of Sagittaran and the sight of the brother, Trask is only mildly relieved to relay to Toast, "Well, he's not threatening to maim or kill us." The ECO's limited vocabulary is very extensive when it comes to such things. Even so, he's on alert. "«Hurt!»" he calls out to the other man since he actually doesn't know how to say 'help'. Also, it's a safer choice than, say, 'dead'.

"He would not do violence to us here, this is a sacred place," Cidra says tersely. Well, so *she* thinks. "It would be a grave crime upon the soul of one who did. Do not take her from here." For her part, she tries to support the priestess without actually moving her from the waters.

The man holds his hands out, palms forward in a universal gesture of STOP, then shoves at empty (?) air— put her back. He turns aside and lowers his head, hands rising to his short-shorn hair, grasping at what there is with his fingers and pulling it out in frustration and grief, continuing to go on at about a mile a minute, flinging an arm in a gesture at the young Cumaea resting in the water.

Odds are that a misotheist cares not about violating sanctuary. Even if Kal did care, he'd probably be blithely mocking about about the eternal damnation of his soul. Between Cidra not budging and the brother adamantly gesturing, the El-Tee halts. Unable to make out what the frak is being rattled off in Sagittaran, he tells his CAG, "I think he's wanting Cumaea to book his sister a cruise."

"He does want us to put her back," Cidra says. And, for her part, she will endeavor to do just that. Obedience automatic.

Akhaeno's brother comes walking into the water, himself, continuing to talk, tears threatening at the corners of his eyes as he speaks very earnestly to the pair of them, one hand gesturing to Cumaea, the other gesturing toward his chest and then held out in a gesture of supplication.

It's not like he isn't already wet, so it's no skin off Trask's nose. (Plus, there's the whole maybe having contributed to Akhaeno's demise thing.) Regardless, he complies, following Cidra's lead. Looking back at the approaching brother, he simply says, "«I have no frakkin' idea what you just said.»" Yes, that is exactly how Ulixes taught him to express linguistic cluelessness. "You want your sister?" Not that he expects the guy to understand the Standard anymore than he understood the Sagittaran. With a movement of his shoulders, a gesture of his head, and the expressiveness of his eyes, however, his body language might succeed in conveying the sentiment.

Cidra can't even manage the local version of 'I no speak the Sagittaron,' and she doesn't even try to copy Trask. "We meant to harm her not," she offers softly in Standard. Well, *she* didn't. So she still manages to sound more or less sincere about it. Her eyes are dry now, though tear stains still linger on her cheeks, for her part.

Like anyone faced with someone who doesn't understand his language, Akhaeno's brother promptly begins speaking LOUDER AND MORE SLOWLY. But still in Sagittarian. He does remember to play charades with his hands, however, the focal points of the communication being a gesture toward Cumaea, one toward himself, a joining of hands, a helpless, supplicating gesture toward the strangers, and a gesture— up.

In light of recent developments, Trask isn't so inclined to inflict harm. After all, if Akhaeno did a 'bad touch', he has no doubt that Penelope will beat the ever-loving frak out of the priestess' soul, non-corporality or no. The snipe is scrappy.

"Yeeeeeah," the ECO sardonically replies in Standard, "still have no frakkin' idea what you're sayin'." And since he knows he won't be understood, he continues to shoulder the corpse and says to Cidra, "Frak it. Hold on to her. I'm gonna go see if Cumaea is (1) still alive, (2) easier to converse with, an' (3) ready for another round."

Cidra bends down into the water to loop the priestess's arm around her own shoulders. Supporting her. Keeping her eyes on her brother. Her free palm is held open. He wants to take her hand? That's the best she can do. Cumaea, for better or worse, is left to Trask.

Log conclusion summary to be forthcoming…

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