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Lee     Lee has a slight reprieve from the general assault that's been going on within El Dorado. That reprieve? Patrol to the north in the rural area to make sure no one is messing around there. So, in that salvaged power armor, he'd clump along, a sledgehammer rested on his shoulder as he'd walk along, keeping alert of his surroundings.
Akane      The sound of power armor caught the attention of a mound of fabric in the grass. Or rather the girl wrapped in the tan cloak and long dress. She seemed to be sleeping in the faint shadow of the long grasses and her head and face weren't fully visible. The only movement would from a short distance appear to be sleeping movements while her hand had slipped down close to a holster under the cloak... Just in case. She waited silently.
Lee     Lee slows to a stop, a symbol on the HUD catching his attention. "Hm?" He'd look over, studying the one under the cloth a moment before unslinging the sledge and clicking on that comm to local area. "Oi.. whatcha doin over there? Ifn this is an ambush, ya'll failed, eh? Otherwise, I'm Private Lee of the Militia. Ya'll can come outta hidin and identify yerself, eh?"
Akane      Akane sweatdropped still hidden in her hood. What idiot would... nevermind. She slowly sat up and stretched with one arm like she was waking up and turned to peer over her shoulder at the .. talking suit. She tilted her head as if curious and confused then turned to face him on her knees.
     Under that hood her eyes and hair were hidden from view for the most part, though his HUD might show her bright orbs in the shadows. Did she look scared? A bit. Slowly that one hand reached up to pull her hood back just a bit, exposing her pale face and large jade eyes. Her crimson hair was next, coiled up on her head in a distinctive style, Legion or New Rome aesthetics including some nice strips of fabric woven in as well. Her dress was also of romanesque make and there was a glitter of some bright metal under the cloak about her neck.
     She shook her head, shifting to her hip while the one arm remained under the cloak, ready to defend if she must though, she looked like she was just startled and perhaps frightened. Her affect was certainly devoid of any aggression and one might not even guess she even had a weapon under that cloak...
Lee     Lee watched as AKane would yawn and stretch from under the cloak. The whole fear thing is noticed and he'd shift that sledge back to his back, reaching up to flip open the visor with a friendly grin shot her way. "Woah, woah.. chill.. yah? All friends here, fer sure.. Ya ain't havin ta be doin nothin like that.. I ain't tryin ta harm ya.. Just makin sure there ain't nothin funny goin on here.. we already got plenty of trouble, yah?"
Akane      Akane Kept that look of fear on her face and in her body, using it to make her look like she was less threat than a fly. On a scale of 1 to Nuclear War, she wanted her threat level to be -5 And sadly she was good at it.
     She allowed his reassurances to seem to affect her a bit, lowering the tension in her shoulders and shifting to her hands and feet, pushing up into a standing position gracefully. She showed a touch of weariness like she had been traveling for quite some time, which was true.
     As she stood he got a better glimpse of that metal around her neck, a high-quality metal and quite shiny. It was a collar of some type. "I fell asleep that is all."
Lee     Lee raises both brows as he'd watch Akane stand up. Hm. Studying her, he'd give a small nod her way. "Yanno.. there's an inn right in El Dorado, eh? It's like.. super dangerous ta be out right now.. like.. surprised ya ain't been taken as a slave again, fer sure." He'd muse, frowning. "Should I escort ya in? Can mebbe talk ta the blacksmith ta help ya get that collar removed too.. otherwise some bounty hunter's prolly gonna come huntin.."
Akane      Akane's hand reached up delicately to rest on the collar as he spoke and she nodded slowly. "There should not be anyone after me so soon. My Master died and slaves are caught up in the legal system as part of the estate. They won't even know I am missing yet. But thank you. The sun was so nice today I simply fell asleep."
Lee     Lee shrugs a little. "We got enclave siegin the city, Miss. Ain't no tellin who be doin what, eh? I wouldn't put some bounty hunter past takin ya up just 'cause ya got a collar and seein who's lookin, eh?" Shaking his head, he'd turn slightly. "So, do I getcha name? or am I just suppoda call ya Miss the whole time?"
Akane      The girl blinked a few times and moved closer to the man when he stated they were under siege by the Enclave. As if she was definitely more afraid of them than the guy in power armor. She looked up with those big Jade green eyes and blushed faintly, almost coy. "S...Sorry. Akane. My name is Akane Antonius." Of course, the Antonius would be her Legion Master's name.
Lee     Lee smiles lightly to Akane, nodding in response. "A'right. Akane. Welcome ta El Dorado.. ya gonna grab yer gun and stuff and we'll head back ta town?" He'd chuckle lightly as he'd glance around. "I only had another 10 minutes ta walk anyways 'fore headin back.. so worth escortin ya I think insteada that.."
Akane      She smiled up at him and tried to lay a hand on his arm. Though his mention of her gun made her blink and flush faintly. She pulled back her cloak and looked at the gun on her hip as if it were some foreign object. "I found it. I don't know much about guns." She poked at it with a finger then looked up at him with a sheepish expression. "Dancers and servants don't get that kind of training in the Legion." She blinked and a hand went to her lips as if she had not meant to indicate where she was from.
Lee     Lee raises a brow as she'd lay a hand on his arm. Then again, he's also in power armor, so it's hardly like he'd actually feel it. Having been caught, she'd innately show that ability to draw, which meant probably use the gun. Shaking his head a little, he'd chuckle softly. "Huh. Dunno how ta use it.. right.. Well, whateva Akane.. I ain't holdin nothin 'gainst ya." He'd pause as she let that information slip, Lee studies Akane a moment then shrugs and would lower that visor, cutting off easy sight of his face again. "I ain't a bounty hunter.. so yer lucky. 'cause I do know what those type sell for, eh?"
Akane      Seeing as he clearly didn't believe her about the gun she chuckled but allowed him to begin leading her back to the city. His comment about knowing what her 'type' sells for got a glance from her. "Oh? I'm not precisely sure really. but now you haven't given me a name yet either..."
Lee     Lee chuckles quietly, he'd stay alert for potential other hostiles as he'd clomp along with Akane. "Hmm? I did too Akane.. Toldja. Private Lee, with the militia? First thing.. err.. well.. onna the first things I said ta ya, fer sure. Parta showin I'm onna the good guys and ain't gonna harm ya. Long as ya ain't no bandit and I'm escortin a sabotur inta the city.. That'd kinda piss me off.."
Akane      Akane blinked then looked honestly sheepish. "oh.. right. Sorry about that." At the last comment, she shook her head and peered up at him, her expressive gree eyes looking at his facemask as though it were his face, flirting a bit. "If I were someone like that I would be really stupid with a guardian like you defending a city. They must feel really safe."
Lee     Lee shakes his head slightly with a small chuckle. She might of been looking up at his faceplate, but Lee? He wasn't looking at her really. Instead, his hand shifts up to that sledge's grip for a moment, pause then relax. "Ahh.. wha? Me? nah mate. I ain't all that. Justa guy who's doin what he's done fer a long time, yah? So ain't sweat it none.. I'll getcha in.. as fer em feelin safe.. I've been just as jacked up as others in this crap.. eh?"
Akane      Akane blinked a few times as he assured her he was not all that impressive. What an odd guy. Still, she followed close enough. One hand reached up to adjust something in her crimson coil of hair. "Anyone can get hurt out here right? That's what I heard."
Elsie Surelda is covered with ants.
Well, not really, but it feels like it. Her skin itches. Aside from giving her forearm a scratch or two here or there, she manages to mostly ignore it.
She's an odd-looking girl with long, white bleach-blonde hair hanging down either side of her face in loose pigtails. She's wearing a knee-length ruffled black skirt, boots, and a black tank top. There's a small backpack on her back. Yes, odd indeed.
But then no one should see her, just yet. At least, that's the goal. She's heard the voices, and is crouched low now, moving from a bush here to a bush there. It's mostly rolling hillsides and green fields. Beautiful, but doesn't provide much cover. Still she tries, slowly working her way toward the sounds, trying to determine who is speaking, and what they're saying.
Ashur The heat oppresses. Ashur has stalked beneath that baleful glow since early morn, departing from the Drake ranch where his almost due bride rests. After the plagues that struck so many farms, her worries have increased, and so has the Legionnaire's overprotective vigilance-- see the cruel snarl he wears, jaw clenched, hands like rocks curled at his sides? He exists in naked challenge of all he sees.

That barely-leashed aggression is like a wild beast; his eyes burn, and for hours, what he has seen has died -- the grand cloak that swirls about him like a blanket of snow and drags upon the dry Earth is mottled with the blood of beast and man in proof, and the hulking power fist that encases his right hand glimmers with pulp better left unknown.

He is otherwise unarmed and unarmored, the giant, wrapped only in that majestic cloak and the austere toga he's known to wear. And it's pure coincidence, an odd twist of fate, that brings him to the group of three drawn to such proximity.

He doesn't know Surelda. He doesn't care. All he cares about is that he sees a man in power armor, and the last time he saw that it was Enclave.
Akane      Akane paused as they walked, one hand, relatively firmly hooking about Lee's elbow as she noted movement behind a bush. "Sir Lee." Her tone was quiet and calm and her expression appeared as though she were smiling at a flower or some such thing, silly girl stuff (right?) but she nodded in Surelda's direction.
     Of course as she turned it also allowed Ashur the appropriate angle to see the crimson haired woman in a flowing dress covered in a tan cloak. She did not put off any energies that could appear hostile or aggressive and from Ashur and Surelda's positions should only appear to be pointing out something pretty to the power suited male. Though, it should be noted the woman was so petite that it was looking at beauty and the beast in size comparison.
Lee     Lee continues to walk with Akane, a small grunt given in reply. Then there's movement. That sledge is drawn immediately as the power armor would turn towards Surelda and her 'hiding' spot. He'd step slightly to the side, imposing himself between Surelda and Akane. That comm would be flicked on and turned up. "Oi! Ya ain't hidin nothin so get up and identify yerself.. yah? I'm Private Lee with the Militia.. and I can help ya come in.." Lee glances to Akane slightly and chuckle slightly as she'd note the woman too. Then.. there's the super mutant. "Frag.. get behind me!" He'd bark out at Surelda, turning to face Ashur.. wait.. that guy.. wait.. "Oi! Issat you Ashur?? I saw ya'll at that fraggin christmas party, right? You good? 'cause I sure as hell ain't wantin ta fight ya!"
Elsie "Shit," Surelda hisses under her breath. She looks around from one side to the other, as if seeking someone else to pin these shenanagins on. But she is alone, with nary any cover much less friends. So she pushes to her feet, standing with her feet squared off, ready to fight or flee. Well, ready to flee. But the sound of Lee shouting at her draws those black eyes in Ashur's direction. She doesn't need telling twice. Silently and with surprising quickness, Surelda picks her way down the crest of the hill to sprint behind the power armor.
Ashur The English language is so full of words. Lovely things, words, telling us how the world is.

Take stampede.

As a verb, it means an impulsive, headlone rush, referring primarily to cattle and horses. As a noun, it refers to the crowd doing that. Such a perfect word, stampede, powerful and intimidating -- tens of thousands of pounds of brutish, beastly force, storming ahead with thunder in their hooves.

Ashur stampedes.

He cuts the earth with his steps, shattering fallen branches, tall grass, stones -- the green splits around him in terror and even the earth shakes, as he accelerates down a small, bush-strewn slope. What thoughts linger behind those golden eyes? Surely, he sees a man of the Enclave, menacing some insignificant whelp of a girl --

But before he gives himself completely to rage, Lee speaks. The voice is familiar. The Christmas party specific enough to not be random guess. With a turn of attitude almost as unnerving as the anger before, the behemoth turns-off, straightening his back and folding an arm behind his back.

" ... Not Enclave," he remarks. "Mm.. yes, I see now the colors. At a distance, it was difficult to tell."

Calmer, now, the bull casts his regard against Surelda and Akane, acknowledging their existence for the first time. Then it's back to Lee -- no need for anything else, the men are talking.
Akane      Akane looked up at Lee when he shouted for them to get behind him and she backed up a pace, essentially putting her back further than Lee, but she didn't move behind him until Surelda was there and then she did something a tad odd. She spun, arms coiling around Surelda's back and head, tucking her down though Akane is shorter and apparently younger she seemed to be protecting the girl. While directing a fierce expression past Lee.
     And then it was over and they knew each other. Akane blinked her pale Jade Green eyes and slowly released any hold on Surelda she'd had. Ashur ignored her at first which was fine as she was checking the other female. "Are you alright?" She would nod then turn a look on Ashur that was akin to staring down a bull. She showed no fear but definite disapproval.
     The next thing she noted was his outfit.. and that did break her concentration, she tugged at her cloak, though perhaps a bit late, in order to cover the bright metal collar about her throat.
Lee     Lee gritted his teeth. Completely ready to take that bull impact. Protecting civilians? That's the militia for you.. and then.. Ashur switches. Whew. He'd breath a sigh in his armor, then click the comm back on. "Yah man, yah. Why I'm wearin it. I'm with El Dorado. Private Lee with the Militia, eh? I just found one.. err.." He'd glance back at Akane and Surelda. "Two women out here.. so was escortin em back ta the city.. it's slightly safer than them bein picked up by the enclave scumbags.. ya willin ta help me get em in?" Lee would put up that sledge. Should be ok, this super mutant was friend(?)ly? ish? At least.. he wasn't squashed like a bug yet.
Elsie Surelda gasps, a chest-sucking sound of surprise and fear. She did not expect to be big-spooned from behind, and a pale hand comes up to the arm around her as though she might pull it off. But after a moment or two, it becomes clear that what is happening is not an attack. She relaxes, and Akane can feel it that in her. She stays totally still until the woman releases her, and then she lifts her head to look at the woman, and then look around. Her black eyes are wide with surprise at just ... everything.
It takes her a moment after Akane's question has come out, but once it processes, the white-haired girl looks back at the other, eyes flitting down to the collar for a brief second. "Yes," she finally says in a quiet, flat voice. "Are you?"
Ashur There can be no doubt Ashur has seen Akane's collar -- he watches her as she hides it, that fierce bronze face neutrally unchanging in its general unkindness. What concern of it is his if some escaped bandit's bitch comes to El Dorado? He snorts, looking past the group toward the southern horizon, where El Dorado lurks behind the hills.

"Two young women, alone in the wastes, unprotected and helpless? Ridiculous. The one is a slave at best, far from her masters -- suspiciously far. Kill them and be done with it. They are spies or saboteurs."
Lee     Lee shakes his head. "More common than ya think mate. It happens.. so ya gonna help me or not? I ain't killin em. Even ifn they are such, then we need info on how they're plannin ta smuggle crap inta el Dorado, eh?" He'd look to the two women, shrugs and looks back to Ashur. "Come on.. fall in and let's go.."
Akane      Akane looked back to Surelda and nodded. She had noted the girl's temporary freakout when touched but she had had a purpose. It was not unheard of for slaves to protect each other. Though, it was a touch odd for one so young to be the one doing the protecting. Especially as Akane looked to still be in her teens.
     "I'm fine." She offered Surelda a soft smile... Only for it to freeze on her face when Ashur told Lee to just kill them both as they were saboteurs or spies, her 'just' a slave. Surelda was the only one facing Akane then and she alone saw the look of darkness that crossed the girl's pale face. her eyes even seemed to darken in tone a bit. But by the time she had turned back to Ashur, it had changed entirely. There was still no fear there, but a dead kind of expression on her face. Prey watching a predator, judging him and his Lion's stride... Perhaps looking even into his soul...
     The crimson haired woman, her hair up in a romanesque coil, her dress under the cloak of Legion make, imposed herself between Surelda and Ashur very precisely. She did not speak to him, but the implication was clear. Go through her before he laid a hand on Surelda. Even though they were alls strangers. And through the entire thing, she did not look like she even knew what Fear was.
Elsie Surelda did see that look from Akane. Perhaps it's the surprise that she still wears, overpowering all other emotions that might leak out. Or perhaps it's just a thing to see, to note, and to file away for some other day in some other place. There's plenty to address here and now. Surelda watches Akane moves between herself and the hulking Ashur.
Her eyes widen a bit more, her brows drawn slightly in a subtle change that speaks volumes. No longer just surprised, though that's still there. Fear too, because she's no Fearless Girl(tm). Confusion; the whole situation is confusing. Her face is so expressive she might as well be wearing a sign indicating her emotions.
She waits, watching for one moment, then two, then three. On four, she moves. Quickly, she picks her way to stand beside Akane, moving to slide her arm in with the other woman's if she can.
"Come on," Surelda tells the girl, eyes locked on the giant Ashur. The threat. "We're going with him." She nods her head slightly toward Lee's retreating metal back.
Now that she's said more than two words, it can be noted that Surelda's speaking cadence is ... odd. Her words are spoken flatly, but with her eyes and face so expressive it's very clear that the sentiment behind those words is anything but flat.
Ashur "It's that naive compassion that endangers your people," Ashur thunders, but the aura of hostility that girds him fades; muscles relax, jaw slackens, heart slows. "So be it. I'll not contravene the militia's will -- let their deeds be on your shoulders."

The warrior brute adjusts his weight. His right elbow tucks in, the knuckles of his hand pressed to the small of his back, while the left arm folds across his stomach, resting on the heavy fold of his toga. And all around, that oversized cloak barely stirs in the light breeze, made for a beast clearly much larger than even he.

"Come, girls," he says, apathetic to the defiant glare Akane casts his way, or the fear that rocks Surelda to her core. He strides head-on, and if Akane doesn't move, she'll get run over. "Follow."

He'll march them south with Lee -- though it's more that he was going that direction in the first place, and has longer legs than any of them, so he winds up in front eventually.

Give it a little more time, and he'll wind up further and further ahead, pace militaristic. The group will either speed up or lose him, and neither outcome makes a damn bit of difference.
Akane      Akane blinked as Surelda stepped up and wrapped an arm around hers, breaking that defiant stare to show a surprise It's that surprise that allows her to step aside then follow along with Ashur. The pace he set would start to wear on Akane but she tried hiding it... At first.
     "Typical. So typical." She muttered this, just below her breath as Ashur kept upping the pace. It was grueling for Akane who was just barely coming in from the wasteland to El Dorado. But she had plenty of time to glower at Ashur's back... She noted a few marks and such and narrowed her green eyes.
     To Surelda she whispered. "Thank you. But you should have been more worried about you. He can't do anything to me I haven't seen or felt before. Nothing new with his type." Perhaps one day a woman would slit his throat... Might be entertaining....
Elsie Surelda walks lockstep with Akane, holding her arm as long as Akane is willing to hold and be held. Her skinniness can be felt in the close quarters and in the bony grip of arm on arm. The white-haired girl occasionally brings her opposite hand up to scratch lightly at her forearm, but even then her black eyes watch the slowly retreating Ashur's back.

As Akane slows a bit in the pace, Surelda tries to make up for it and pull Akane gently along. Energetic little thing, this girl.

Finally, in response to Akane's words, Surelda's head turns to regard the woman beside her with an owlish blink of confusion. "He could kill you," she points out, matter-of-factly. "That'd probably be the first time for that." Unless Akane has some //really// confusing backstory.
Ashur For all his talk of indifference and murder, there is some sentiment in the Legionnaire's black heart. These areas have been dangerous, as of late -- and always there is the chance the two girls are not enemies. What could a militiaman do then if trouble came? They were an undisciplined rabble, unfit for war.

At a crossroads, set between two low hills, he pauses. He makes as if to examine the area -- perusing the thin-branched trees, glancing toward the rusted-out shell of an old automobile that front-ended a boulder, long since stripped of all useful parts. He drifts toward that car, and leans his head in the driver's side window, looking down. Even the steering wheel's gone.. but a glint catches his eye, and after ruffling under the seat he does find an old bottle of Sunset Sarsaparilla. Left by one of the people who took this thing apart, no doubt.

This little scavenge trip gives the girls time to catch up without being too obvious. "Hold," he says, noticing their evident breathlessness. "Do either of you cook or tend wounds?"

He's not especially hungry, but he does have a dead critter in his pack that could be grilled.. and it's an excuse to stop walking, and let them rest.
Akane      Akane tilted her head at Surelda at her comment about killing her being something that would be a first. She chuckled softly. "Death is not something to fear. My name is Akane. Akane Antonius." The name was a Legion slave name. Antonius being her master. Or former master.
     Then Ashur asks if they healed wounds or coked and Akane blinked at him, a deadpan expression on her face for a few beats. "I was trained in simple aid. But i was not the type to be sent to the kitchens." She squinted faintly at him.. then stepped closer, more business than annoyed now. "Why? What happened?"
Elsie "Death is the best thing to fear. It's the only thing that can kill you," Surelda observes, lowering her eyes to the path just before her now, watching her steps and taking them quickly but carefully. She's thinking, apparently not quite sure how to meet the revelation of Akane's name. "I'm-"

She gets no chance to continue talking as she draws up to a stop when Ashur decides they're worth aknowledging again. She lifts her eyes, those expressive eyes, showing her surprise and discomfort at this change. It was better when Ashur wasn't speaking.

After Akane has spoken, Surelda looks to the woman, searching her face for guidance. Apparently she finds something there, because she speaks, watching Akane as she addresses Ashur. "I can cook," she explains, and only after the words have left her does she look at the man. Waiting to see what comes from that answer to his question.
Ashur "What always happens."

He advances with all the slow inevitability of a storm -- his great size darkening the distance, expanding as he draws ever closer and chills the air. One hand rustles through a pack worn at his hip, and the other tucks its thumb beneath the cap of the bottle and flicks it off. It catches, for a moment, stuck -- bites into his thumb tip before releasing, leaving it stained red with blood.

"If you have been out alone, you're hungry, tired, and thirsty," he decides, handing the bottle to Surelda. The two girls will have to share. "While the militiaman patrols, tend to the minor wounds I bear, and cook," and at this he pauses, withdrawing the body from his satchel -- there's nothing fancy, it's a molerat, whose skull was visibly crushed but plump body unmolested. He tosses it down.

"I will build the fire. Clean the cuts, prepare the meal, rest, and we'll continue."