|Jacqueline||Morning in El Dorado's shantytown. The sun's just over the horizon, and the air's still blessedly cool.
Jacqueline Wayne, fix-it girl and now problem-solver for hire, is just coming into the medical clinic, yawning due to the coolness and the hour. Shutting the door behind her, she rubs at her eyes to dispel the sleepiness. "Morning..." she says blearily to no one in particular, hoping there's actually someone here to hear it. Preferably someone she knows, as she looks nothing like a doctor, an intern, or even an orderly in her gecko-skin jacket and pants, especially with that pistol strapped to her thigh.
|Ashur|| A man rests within the bed. Atop might be a better word-- his sprawling limbs dangle off the edges of it, booted toes pointing forward as gravity tugs the heel. A thick blanket's been thrown over him. At the side, near a small basin of water, is a Roman-styled helmet torn near in half. A Legion cloak, emblazoned with a golden bull, is balled up beneath his head to serve as another makeshift pillow. Between those two details-- the helm and glimpses of bull-- it is easy enough to guess where he comes from.
He is a mess of fresh-treated wounds. His face is swollen like he'd been beaten repeatedly; the right eye has swelled so much it's completely shut, and has dozens of stitches on a deep, deep gouge running over his occipital. His right ring finger is bruised and splinted; his left leg has a tourniquet around the top that's since loosened and half-fallen off, where a cleaned cut has also been stitched. He's all bruises and lacerations.
And he's just woken up from nightmares to the sound of an unfamiliar voice. With a start, he rises, kicking aside the water basin. It noisily smacks into the wall with a loud SMACK and spills all over the floor.
|Jacqueline||Outside the exam room, Jackie jumps at the sounds of a bed frame creaking and something smacking into a wall. There follows the sound of water splashing. As she looks over at the door of the room, she catches sight of a rapidly-growing puddle of water running under the door.
This plainly merits investigation. "Hellooo-oooo~..." she calls softly, moving to the door and opening it just enough to peek inside. From inside the room, she's half of a tanned little face framed by messy black locks.
|Ashur|| Jacqueline's half-faced peek is just enough to let her see the man fully-- his upper body bare and blackened, bandages wrapped around his knuckles, wrists, and forearms, tribal tattoos in dark ink tracing geometric patterns over his flesh. And despite the bruising, it's easy enough to tell the dark band cutting horizontal over his eyes is ink, not wounded flesh. His hair falls in thick black braids to his back, and his braided beard has bits of decorative bone worked into it.
A tribal Legionnaire. Like so many others, though they usually don't wear the primitive markings openly; Caesar likes to crush the individuality out and enforce one uniform culture.
"Woman," he says, a low, rumbled greeting. He looks around. Sucks in a deep, ragged breath and wincing from bruised ribs. Then he sits back down. "Ugh, my head is pounding.. fetch me a cloth and warm water."
|Jacqueline||Jackie grimaces, opening the door fully for a better look at the source of the voice. It's apparent enough that he must have run into something nasty out there in the Wastes. Given the sheer size of him, she doesn't like to imagine what it was. "You look like you need it," she murmurs, not without sympathy, finding the basin against the wall. "I'll have to tell whoever put you back together to set basins farther away from the bed in the future. I'll be back in a minute."
Picking the nearly-empty container up, she hurries out. Introductions can wait until she gets back. It's something of a walk to the pump in the back.
|Ashur|| He waits. It isn't like there's anywhere for him to go-- he has a room somewhere, but his head is rattled, and despite his rest he remains tired. He aches all over.. so rather than leave, he sits, and looks, and soaks in the room. He couldn't see it last night through the blood and near-concussion.
Finally, Jackie has returned.
"Has a man come here today? Or the day before, it-- I am foggy on the time; I slept deeply. A naked man with a bullet wound in his head. Queerly happy despite his predicament." Ashur pinches the bridge of his nose with his left hand, the good hand, fingertips pulling at the corners of his eyes to clear the crust. He presses thumb and forefinger to the skin under his eyes and pulls down, stretching the lids and helping to unstick them. There's dried blood all over, and it's not the most comfortable thing. "Or perhaps a raider woman. Screaming about deathclaws, most like."
|Jacqueline||It took Jackie a little longer than she'd thought it would: She had to fill the basin and a bucket, one trip each, then pour the bucket into a pot so it could heat on the hot plate. There might be other patients later. But it can be left alone to heat, so she hurries back to the room after snagging a couple washcloths and two towels as well. There's a spill to clean up; she hasn't forgotten that.
She steps in the door, setting the basin down next to the bed. "Sorry for the wait. I must be the first one here this morning," she says, offering him one of the cloths.
His story gets her thinking, frowning as she tries to figure out who he might mean. "No, sorry... I haven't seen either of them," she admits. Collecting one of the towels, she unfurls it onto the floor to soak up the worst of the spill. "But this is the first time I've been in the clinic in two days. Last time I was here, you weren't. What do I call you, anyway?"
She knows those symbols. The militia's heard about Caesar and his crowd, and her stepfather trains them. But for now, he's just a badly wounded man who could use a larger bed. Maybe they can push two of them together or something...
|Ashur|| "There was a girl, Kumo," Ashur recalls. "She tended my wounds and bade me rest. It seems I fell asleep." He rolls his shoulder, and looks to one corner of the room-- near his ruined helmet are his football shoulders and leather armor, all customized to resemble a Roman soldier. "She is skillful. I worried the eye would be lost." A fate narrowly avoided, too.
"I am Ashur. I have come here to--" He pauses, furrows his brow, and looks down. A moment of concentration sees his lips purse, then his eyes lift. "-- to find myself, now that I finally have time to look. You would not have seen me; I spend little time in town." He reaches behind him and snatches the rolled-up cloak. "The people here rightly fear the Legion. So long as I bear its mark, they save their dagger stares for a distance." A light snort, and he sits up more, feet on the ground. "How pitiable are the Dissolute. Even the two I fought the deathclaw to buy time for simply fled, and didn't think to see if I survived."
|Jacqueline||"Miss Kurokumo. I've met her. She's a good healer," Jackie replies, nodding as she takes up another of the cloths. "And by the look of things, Mister Ashur, you were definitely asleep when I came in." She glances in the direction of the now-covered puddle on the floor, smiling wryly. "I guess you're the restless kind of sleeper. Bad dreams?"
She's silent for a moment, hearing that. "You fought a /deathclaw/?" Her eyes flit over the man and his wounds. "I guess that explains the state you're in, Legion bull or no Legion bull. They're nothin' to be trifled with. I can't blame the two you mentioned for runnin' away like their tail feathers were afire, even if I don't think highly of 'em for it. No friends of yours, I take it?"
A pause. "What's a Dissolute? I've never heard that word before."
|Ashur|| "Kurokame, yes. That is how the girl identified herself." Images of the Asian woman and their last encounter flicker through his mind, though portions of it are unclear-- was he looking up to her, or down at her? She was tall for a woman, he recalls.. brows stay furrowed in consternation, until he dismisses the thought as useless and forces it out. A breath is sucked in and he winces as his diaphragm expands toward bruised ribs. The cloak of the Legion is set down, balled, upon his lap. "Dreams. I do not remember them."
That's a lie-- he dreamt of the deathclaw, and his near-death experience. "Fighting it was not by choice. We stumbled upon its territory as it was hunting; it grew agitated and attacked. Flight was the wisest option, we were in no fit shape to take it down. And no, they were not friends of mine." At her question, he waves a hand. "Dissolute. Not of the Legion. Lacking in the virtue, discipline, and moral fiber that elevate us from the wretched beasts."
|Jacqueline||"Virtue, discipline, and moral fiber are evidently in the eyes of the beholder," Jackie ripostes, dark eyes narrowing as she gently cleans away traces of dried blood from one of Ashur's cuts. "Most of us who ain't Legion see what you all do as more like murderin', pillagin', and enslavin', which ain't what I'd call virtuous, disciplined, or showin' of a great deal of moral fiber. But in this room, that's neither here nor there. This is a clinic, you're a wounded man, and what you are outside of that can wait." Which is a charitable enough attitude, despite her terseness. Even her cleaning of his wounds doesn't change, though she's in a position to inflict pain if she chose. "It also doesn't change that what you did was either very brave, or very foolish. Bull or no bull, you're a man worthy of some respect. Just not for sense."|
|Ashur|| Ashur snorts like a bull, but otherwise holds still as Jackie cleans the dried blood and contaminants out of the cut. "Those of you not in the Legion see a world of shadows and silhouettes on a cave wall; you never think to turn around and leave, and deny those who have seen the true form." The cloak is now set aside back on the bed and mixes up with a sheet he'd scuffed up in his earlier waking thrashings.
"It isn't your fault; you can't know better. But the ingratitude of the Dissolute is a constant frustration. Look around you-- murdering, pillaging, enslaving. How many killers do you treat here, who go out to kill again? How many of the old and dark-eyed men you see drinking in that saloon have a hidden time in their past where they shot a tribal, had a go at his wife, and then rode off laughing? And slaves, hah! I need only look around to see a host of the intemperate who can think no further than their next chem fix, their next score, their next drink or fuck. What is freedom so wasted?"
|Jacqueline||"We're treatin' /you/," Jackie points out mildly. "I guess whether you go out and kill again is between you and your conscience, huh?"
She dips the cloth, staining the water in the basin red, then leans close to begin cleaning again. "As for the rest, I make no excuses for them as can't determine right from wrong on their own. But if they do any of those things and get caught, it's no longer between them and their conscience alone. There's been people who /said/ someone committed a crime, and it was no more true than the story about the gecko who sold insurance for cars. Right now, the same thing that protects those people you mentioned? It's also protectin' you, Mister Ashur. Whatever might be on your cape, you haven't done anything that anyone's seen, aside from get hurt."
|Ashur|| "I am no common raider, set to pointlessly terrorize for my own gratification," Ashur responds with a bristle-- and then he settles, golden eyes ablaze, as the rag has the bloodied water squeezed out and is wettened anew. "The Legion has its flaws. The will of Caesar is not as absolute as so many think; and regardless of his vision, however divinely inspired, it remains true that it strips us of who we are meant to be." A clench of his hand into a white-knuckled fist upon his lap as a sting radiates outward from an abrasion on his unstitched brow, a bit of gravel stuck in it being removed. "But its virtues redeem it. In Legion lands, there are no farms burnt by raiders. There are no petty conflicts. Order, peace, purpose-- these are things the wastelands crave."
A long pause. "It is a harsh world, and to tame it we must be harsh men. But we must be men, and that is what Caesar denies."
|Jacqueline||"Some time, you and I will have to sit down and talk about the will of Caesar, and whether it's divinely inspired or not," Jackie replies. "Caesar's not the first to make that claim, and I doubt he'll be the last, either. But to most people I've talked to, the only difference between a raider and a Legionnaire is what he does before he kills you."
She sets aside the rag, picking up the basin and turning for the door. "I can't say one way or the other; you're the first Legionnaire I've ever met face to face. But there are plenty of folks spreadin' stories of the Legion, and they don't say much about order, peace, or purpose. They do say quite a bit about harsh men, though."
|Ashur||"The Legion brings peace with sword and fire," Ashur says, and that's the last comment he'll make on the subject here-- his bones ache, his head aches, and the burden of further conversation fails to justify itself to him. The medicine woman is pleasant enough, but it's clear she needs more time to understand the benefits of the Legion's outlook-- if not necessarily the Legion itself. After all, even Ashur chose to leave the Legion. She makes it to the door, and he lies back down.|