#Traveler'sGorge – July 3, 2019

The 12th of December is only a couple of hours old when a lonely headlight appears in the distance as a vehicle crests one of the foothills to the south on its way towards Traveler's Gorge. A slowly growing pinprick of light in the Aitian night. It's an ATV. A sturdy, open fourwheeler, the sort of workhorse vehicle meant to handle Aite's untamed terrain no matter the season. Gear is strapped to the back - a bag, a rolled up tent, a spare

fuel cell, a shovel and a hunting rifle - the kind of simple, sturdy design that doesn't collapse, the mechanism set in solid wood rather than any intricate, folding layers of polymer and alloy. The driver is wrapped head to toe in winter wear. Clunky snowboots, thick snowpants and a suitably puffy jacket, the fur-lined hood pulled up despite the beanie underneath. A scarf and snow goggles obscure the driver's face, but proportions, and

strands of long, light brown hair that whip in the cold wind indicate a human.

A web of tire tracks are carved in the snow leading to, and from, the outpost. A sturdy, metal wall juts out from the rock walls and boxes in the gorge. It's a good ten feet tall and extends from one end to the other, only broken up by a gate in the center of it. The wall is most certainly a custom build. Clean, dark lines indicate where the wall has been welded together. A small section of wall to the west of the gate is caved inward,

causing it to lay diagonal as if something smashed into it with great force. Near the gate, the words 'Traveler's Gorge', each letter etched out of metal a few shades darker than the grey wall they're mounted on. A small prefabricated shack is just outside of the gate, light bleeding out through the window. That glow of light in the distance is the first indication of the settlement. It's also the first sign of light pollution for hours

in any direction, causing it to stand out like an oasis in a snowy desert.

The ATV continues on its path, going through snow as necessary until it can squeeze into one of the larger truck tracks, fitting, albeit not ideally, in the wake of a single tire. The slow approach towards the Gorge continues head on. The driver, practically hunched over the steering, seems a little energized by the sight of the wall, sitting up straighter and speeding up just a little. There's clearly no attempt at subterfuge in the

head-on approach.

A human, dark skinned and wrapped in layers of winter gear not unsimilar to the approaching stranger, steps into the doorway of the shack when he takes notice of the approaching headlights. He gives a roll of his shoulders to shrug his thick winter jacket into place and tugs a pair of layered tuques onto his head. He remains in place as he awaits the ATV's arrival as to not step out fully into the snow any sooner than he needs to.

Through the window, a pale grey turian can also be seen inside of the shack. He's seated at a small table and it appears the two were playing some sort of game before the stranger's arrival. The small shack looks cramped, even for just two people. As the stranger gets closer to the wall, they'd be able to see the top of a few small structures in the distance on the other side of the wall. The man in the doorway gestures with a raise of

his gloved hand, waving it as if to get the driver's attention.

The lone headlight at the front of the vehicle dims to a less blinding level as the driver spots the man in the doorway. The ATV starts to slow, coming to a crawling stop within talking distance. The new arrival raises a gloved hand of their own to acknowledge the gesture, still straddling the four-wheeler.

The dark skinned man, who looks to be in his early-40s, gives a small glance back into the shack before tugging his thick scarf up over his mouth to brave the cold, winter air. "Hey!" he greets as he steps out, crunching snow beneath his boots. There's a build up of snow along the wall, but the area in front of the gate is well maintained to ensure the gate is able to be opened without issue. "Shiiiiit! This looks like one hell of a cold

ride!" he says, raising his voice to be heard over a gust of wind that rolls through. He tucks his head a little lower, as if trying to duck between his shoulder blades to take cover from the wind as he begins to approach. He scans the horizon behind the ATV to ensure there's no one else approaching. "Where are you on your way from?" he asks, his tone friendly. The turian watches through the window at the exchange. An M-8 Avenger is laid

across the table in plain sight.

The driver's arm drops back to the steering, a nod following the watchman's words. There's a sluggish clumsiness to the stranger's movements. "It is." a weak voice replies, almost lost in the wind. The words are English, the voice soft. The thickly dressed figure wobbles a little as the man speaks again, and when the time comes to reply a faint noise is all that makes it through the scarf before the driver slips right off the ATV,

landing in the snow beside it with a thud.

The man furrows his brow at the weak reply. He's just about to ask if they're alright when the answer presents itself. "Shit!" he mutters, he, too, speaking English as he jolts forward in a failed attempt at steadying the driver. He passes a sharp glance back towards the window as he drops to a knee beside the collapsed stranger. There's a few moments of confusion as the turian jumps out of his seat and hurries to slip on his winter

gear. The human looks the driver up and down, seemingly unsure of what to do. "Hey! You alright?!" he asks before shooting another glance towards the turian to make sure he's on his way.

The collapsed stranger offers no reply, lying motionless in the snow, although the scarf shifts almost imperceptibly with breath. It seems like they've passed out. The left boot still rests awkwardly on the right footrest of the faintly humming ATV.

The human lets a deep breath out through his nose. He leans to one side, his hand searching through the pocket of his jacket. He looks towards the doorway as the turian steps through it. "Think they passed out." he says, a mix of concern and confusion in his voice. He draws in a breath as he nods down at the figure. "Get ready to get 'em up." he says as he pulls his omni-tool free from his jacket. Thumbing the button on the side, he

watches the unconscious stranger. "Thomas here." he radios in, "Got a bit of an issue out here. Someone just rolled up on an ATV. Collapsed before I could get much out of 'em." A few moments pass before a voice responds. The man, Thomas it seems, continues to watch the stranger with concern. "An ATV? In this weather?" the voice on the other end asks. Thomas casts am exasperated glance towards the turian as if the person on the other side

is missing the point. "Yeah." Thomas says, "Look, just-... get Hamilton, alright? Me and Caelus are gonna bring 'em to the guest house. Have Hamilton meet us there." There's another moment of charged silence before the voice on the other side comes through again. "Got it." Thomas nods a few times and shoves his omni-tool back into his pocket before getting to work. The turian, Caelus, is pale grey with dark blue facial markings that

begin on his mandibles and jut sharply up towards his browline as well as a trio of thick stripes that run up his nose and end at his forehead. He carefully removes the driver's boot from the footrest and rolls them onto their back to prepare to move them. Thomas, meanwhile, tugs the scarf and goggles down around their neck to check for any signs of frostbite on the nose and to ensure their breathing isn't irregular.

The face beneath the scarf and goggles is indeed human, and young, with soft features and light skin turned red and irritated from the cold, seemingly just on the verge of superficial frostbite. The breathing seems steady. A black eye stands out, accompanied by a small patch of coagulated blood that interrupts a neatly trimmed eyebrow.

Thomas draws in a deep breath as he examines the bruising. "Breathing seems steady." he relays to the turian after removing a glove and holding the back of his hand just in front of the stranger's mouth. The pair are quick to shift the driver into a position so Caelus can easily lift them up. Caelus is large, even by turian standards, so it doesn't take a whole lot of effort so long as the driver doesn't resist, but the thick winter gear

both parties are wearing makes the process a little unweildy. Meanwhile Thomas hurries to the gate to slide it open.

There is no resistance from the unconscious stranger.

The 'guest house', it seems, is just a nickname for a rather large tent near the gate. It's exclusively used for those passing through or staying for a few days. There's three beds lining one of the canvas walls with ample space between them. Each of the bed has a trunk near the foot of it. Normally it would take a while for the space heater to warm the large tent up but, as chance would have it, a visitor had already been staying in the

tent for the past couple days. A human woman with dark hair is seated atop her bed in a pair of black sweat pants and a t-shirt, watching the commotion. All of the in-and-out has dropped the temperature a bit and she's compensated by draping her winter jacket over her shoulders. Hamilton, an older man with a head of full, silver hair and a beard to match, sits beside the stranger's bed as he waits for them to regain consciousness. The

stranger's top layer of winter gear was removed and placed in the trunk at the foot of their bed so that their vitals could be properly checked. A thick, warm blanket lay over them in its stead. Caelus has remained in the tent with the older man, but someone had to keep watch at the front gate and that duty seems to have fallen to Thomas.

The new arrival hasn't awoken during the relocation, but a check of vitals hasn't revealed anything concerning. It seems likely they passed out from exhaustion, supported by the fact that they seemed to be asleep rather than unconscious from the moment they were brought in. The removal of winter clothes has revealed more light skin, and fairly long, light brown hair. Beneath the outerwear was a lightweight, grey fleece jacket and worn

blue jeans layered over thermal underwear, evident at a rip in one of the knees. The thinner jacket covers more layers. The unfamiliar human can't be older than 20, with soft features and an androgynous face. There's been no real sign of waking up, leaving the unannounced appearance and sudden collapse unexplained so far. In fact there hasn't been a sound from the guest aside from breathing and a growling stomach.

Hamilton allows some time to pass in hope that the stranger will awake on their own. But after nearly an hour, that's looking less and less likely. Ideally he would prefer to allow them to get a good night's sleep. But considering the danger of allowing them to awaken in an unfamiliar place with no recollection of how they got there and nobody on standby with an explanation, that's not really an option. And keeping someone at her side

isn't particularly fair to the other guest who, judging by the droopy eyelids, is waiting for this small burst of excitement to be over so she can return to bed. A particularly large growl causes the older man to smirk and glance over to Caelus. "Sounds like they're running on an empty stomach. How about you head over to the kitchen and see what you can scrounge up?" he asks. "I'll try and see if I can wake our guest up."

Caelus gives a glance towards the mystery guest, looking a bit unsure about the doctor's request. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather I'm here when they awaken?" he asks, leaving the implication that he's worried they may react violently unsaid.

Hamilton draws in a deep breath as he studies his unconscious patient. "I'm sure it'll be fine, Caelus." he decides, passing the turian a small, tired smile. He begins to study the stranger briefly once again before something occurs to him, causing him to look back to Caelus. "Some of that soup from dinner, perhaps? Make sure to warm it up."

Caelus clearly doesn't seem to agree with the idea of leaving Hamilton alone to wake the stranger, but seems to have too much respect for the man to question his request. He merely gives a nod as he rises from his seat. "I'll be back shortly." he offers curtly before starting out of the room.

Hamilton waits until Caelus is gone before passing a glance towards the dark haired woman. "Never a dull moment here." he jokes with a weary sigh. The woman merely flashes a tired smile and adjusts her jacket as another rush of cold air is let into the tent by Caelus' exit. The older man leans forward in his seat, forearms rested against his thighs as he studies the stranger for a few more moments before reaching forward and gently

grasping their shoulder. "Hey..." he offers gently as he jostles them lightly.

at their side

The sleeping human lets out a quiet mumble when jostled, seeming to slowly start coming to. Maybe the brief sleep, or getting out of the cold, has allowed enough of the initial exhaustion to pass that the light touch is enough to at least make them stir. Their face twitches a little, causing a wince of pain and a strained noise thanks to the black eye. It's not long before heavy eyelids open and confused eyes scan the surroundings.


The tent is a dark brown color and the only light sources are a few small lamps on nightstands beside each of the beds. Only the strangers lamp is on, leaving the rest of the tent dim.

Hamilton brings his hand back as the stranger begins to stir, forearm returning to his thigh. "Hey..." he says softly. A moment passes as he attempts to organize his thoughts. "I'm sure this is a bit-... uhh-... disorienting, but you're safe." he assures in as calming of a tone as he can muster. "Do you know where you are?" he asks with a wrinkle in his brow, trying to gauge just how to approach the situation.

There's a couple of moments of confusion as the new arrival gets their bearings. Soon enough grey-blue eyes lock onto Hamilton. There's a hard swallow and slightly furrowed eyebrows. "Traveler's Gorge... I hope." they sigh, scooting up a little in the bed, blinking heavily and once again looking around the tent, bleary-eyed.

The woman sitting at the edge of the other bed watches curiously, but remains silent. There's an empty bed between them.

Hamilton allows a gentle smile to spread across his face and he gives a small nod. "That's right. They say you collapsed outside of the front gate." he informs, his smile fading. "They brought you inside to get you out of the cold. How are you feeling?"

The stranger runs a hand through their hair, pondering the question for a moment. "Glad to be out of the cold." comes the reply with an awkward, weak smile, before the hand drops back down. Their voice is quiet, and a little hoarse, but feminine, the accent American. Although obscured somewhat by the multitude of clothing layers, they've got a slim build.

Hamilton's gentle smile returns. "I don't doubt it. That winds got some bite in it tonight." he offers. After a short pause, he sits up a bit straighter. There's plenty of lingering questions, but those can wait. "My name is Trevor." he introduces before tilting his head to the side tentatively. "Hamilton." he corrects since everyone has come to call him by his last name. It slowly shifted from 'Trevor' to 'Dr. Hamilton' over the

course of months, his training naturally causing him to slip into the role as needed, but it settled somewhere in between. Just Hamilton. Not that he minds. He falls silent as he gives the stranger a chance to introduce themself.

Another faint, slightly awkward smile. There's a bit of relief in there too, relief over being inside the walls, or maybe just getting a friendly welcome. "Amy." the young stranger quietly replies after a bit hesitation, a bit of nervousness visible in her face after she speaks. She sits up a bit more, studying Hamilton's face as if half-expecting him to take issue with the introduction.

Hamilton gives a small nod. "Well, it looks like you very nearly had a case of frostbite on your hands, Amy." he says. "They say you came in on an ATV...?" he continues, phrasing it in the form of a question despite him already having obviously been told as much. Considering just how far the nearest settlement is, it shouldn't be difficult to understand why that might be a troubling thought given the weather outside. "Where in the

hell were you coming from?" he asks before abruptly voicing his follow-up thought, "Where in the hell were you going?"

Amy swallows hard, shifting her gaze down to the hands in her lap as discomfort crosses her face. The first 'question' elicits a faint nod, the other two, nothing, at first. "I... was going here." comes the quiet reply after a while, opting to answer the last question. "It was the only place I could think of."

Amy's words seem to grab the other woman's attention, but she doesn't speak up.

Hamilton furrows his brow at the response, but merely falls silent for the moment. His gaze scans across the bruising around her eye and he pulls in a breath. It looks like he's about to say something when the door on the tent opens up. As the structure seems to be designed to be semi-permanent, it has an actual door with a small segment of wall that the canvas material attaches to. When he sees who it is, he offers an apologetic

smile to Amy and excuses himself from his seat to approach the man.

The man who enters is tall. Barrel chested with a full, thick, black beard that matches his unkempt hair. He looks to be in his late 40s. Despite his weathered look, he offers a kind smile. He's dressed in a thick black winter jacket with a hood and collar lined with white fur. In one hand is a small bowl and, tucked into the crook of his elbow, a glass of water that he's attempting to shuffle about to shut the door behind him and put a

stop to the cold air seeping in. "Ran into Caelus in the kitchen." he says with a lift of the bowl. He speaks in a stage whisper, out of habit more than anything else given the hour. The sound of the howling wind outside intermingles with a distinct chime that picks up for a moment and then fades out. His gaze shifts from Hamilton to Amy before settling on the former.

Amy is anxiously awaiting Hamilton's reply when they're interrupted by Kirill's arrival, her gaze shifting over toward him as the doctor gets up. She seems a little intimidated by the undeniably imposing man, but the feeling is tempered somewhat by his smile. She remains silent, sitting up a bit straighter in the bed, gaze shifting between the two men.

The pair exchange a few words in hushed tones, undoubtedly about Amy. The larger man nods a few times, gaze lowering to the floor. He looks a bit disheveled, pantlegs sloppily tucked into the top of his winter boots due to hastily getting dressed when news of Amy's worrying arrival got him out of bed.

The woman sitting on the bed glances up at the man with a look of familiarity. "You... want me to step out, Kirill?" she asks, getting the sense he plans on having a talk with the new arrival.

Kirill casts an apologetic glance towards the woman. "I don't mean to put you out in the cold, Mayra-..." he begins, but is abruptly cut off by the woman.

Mayra waves dismissively, already beginning to tug her boots on. "It's fine. Besides-..." she gives a deep sniff, taking in the scent of the warm soup wafting her way from the bowl in Kirill's hand. It causes a smile to spread across her face. "Leftovers from dinner?" Her question gets a nod from the large man. "Think maybe I'll go have myself a late night snack before it all disappears."

Kirill gives a tired snicker, nodding appreciatively to Mayra not complicating things. But he remains in place by the door for the moment as she gives him a pat on the shoulder on her way out.

Hamilton finally turns his attention back to Amy. "This is Kirill." he introduces the man at his side despite Mayra having already confirmed his identity, "He runs things around here."

Kirill offers the young woman a small bow of his head, his smile widening slightly at the introduction. "Well, that depends on who you ask." he jokes, which gets a snicker from Hamilton.

Hamilton continues with a small gesture to the woman in bed. "Amy." he says to Kirill who commits the name to memory and gives a small nod of his head. Looking back to Amy, he continues. "I'm gonna-..." he gestures to the door, "...step outside and let the two of you chat, alright?" he asks, as if making sure she's comfortable with the idea of him leaving. Not that she knows him any better than she knows Kirill, but he was the first

face she saw when she opened her eyes. Earned or not, there's a certain amount of trust that tends to come from that.

Amy 's gaze briefly goes to Mayra as she gets up to leave, before regarding Kirill, a bit of uneasy uncertainty in her expression. Hamilton's words prompt an appreciative nod, looking his way for a moment before returning her attention to Kirill, trying not to show how nervous she is.

Kirill remains in place, watching as Hamilton steps through the door after Mayra. Once it's just him and Amy, his gaze turns her way. "Sounds like you've had a bit of a rough night." he says, that kind smile shifting back into place as he steps forward. He gives a small lift of the bowl as he moves to set it and the glass of water on the nightstand beside the bed. Steam rises from the bowl. A spoon- simple and metal much like the

sturdy bowl it sits in- pokes out from the top. "We figured you could probably do with a bite." he adds, tilting his head to glance to Amy. His movements are slow. In part due to the fact that he was just woken up an hour ago after barely having fallen asleep, but mostly because it's just his way. He takes the seat Hamilton previously occupied as he continues to speak, his tone softer than one would assume upon first glance.

Amy briefly flashes an awkward half-smile, nodding faintly as Kirill sits down. She doesn't say anything, but her stomach growls as her gaze falls on the soup. She seems more than a little tempted to reach for the bowl, but doesn't, returning her attention to Kirill instead, continuing to listen.

Kirill gives a soft grunt as he settles into the chair, elbows resting on the armrests, knuckles pressed together. "So where are you from, Amy?" he asks simply rather than beating around the bush.

Amy 's gaze falls away from Kirill, swallowing as hesitation enters her face. Her attention lingers on the blanket. "I-... I'm from a homestead to the west." she says quietly, not really offering any additional information. Her eyes briefly return to Kirill, discomfort obvious.

Kirill gives a few small nods. When Amy meets his eyes he turns them downward. Plenty of homesteads out there. He mulls over the potential candidates in his head. "Hamilton said you were on your way here...?" he continues after a few moments of consideration, filling in at least part of what their quiet exchange was about as he meets her gaze once again. "That... usually isn't a good sign." he sighs. While the place isn't exactly

party central, plenty of people pass through the Gorge on a regular basis. Some even in the dead of night. Some keep on their way. Others stay, looking for a place to lay their head until morning. With most it's a quiet affair. Kirill's involvement is rarely required. Whoever is at the gate directs them to the tent. The 'guest house'. Most of their visitors are gone by morning without another word. But it's not often that the

Gorge is their destination. Not unless something is wrong. "You want to tell me about it?" he asks, his focus lingering on the bruising decorating her face. It's more of an offer than a request.

Amy looks down at her fidgeting hands, uncertainty crossing her face as she tries to decide what to say. If she notices Kirill lingering on her bruises she doesn't show it. "I-..." she trails off, sucking in her lips. They're dry and chapped from the cold. "I had to leave." she says with a small, awkward shrug and the look of someone that doesn't really want to go into it. "I thought-... I've been here once. I thought I could find my

way here."

Kirill's gaze lowers once more. Only briefly as he gives a small nod. A man whose not afraid of silence, he merely studies her, waiting to see if she decides to volunteer any more information on her own.

Amy shifts a little as silence descends, uncertain what to do. Between her silence and the look on her face it's painfully obvious that she hasn't really thought things through any further than this yet. Being exhausted and hungry doesn't really help either. Her gaze briefly travels to the soup again, but she doesn't take it now either.

Kirill allows the silence to persist for a bit until it starts to become uncomfortable, at which point he shifts in his seat. "Alright..." he says softly, offering the young woman a gentle smile as he grips the armrest and pushes himself to his feet. Prying isn't exactly his style and it's not hard to see that she's not looking to open up. Forcing her to tell him any more than she's ready to is only likely to result in discomfort for

both parties. So he doesn't. "Breakfast is at seven." he says before giving a small shrug of his shoulders. "Ish." he qualifies. "The mess hall is right down the road, just on the other side." he explains, looking in what is probably the general direction of mentioned mess hall and giving an idle gesture. "Plenty of folks who can point you in the right direction if you need it. But, considering you found this place in the dead

of night, I'm guessing you'll be just fine." he says, his smile widening slightly. The exhaustion in his eyes shows through as he reaches up to scratch at his thick beard.

Amy seems relieved when Kirill speaks. There's a lot of things going through her head. Questions. Excuses. Assurances. But her tired and overwhelmed mind fails to voice any of them. Kirill's words prompt another faint, awkward smile and a nod. "Thank you..."

Kirill gives a few more small nods but doesn't directly acknowledge the appreciation, seeming to find it unnecessary. He gestures to the bowl on the nightstand with a bow of his head. "Make sure you return that in the morning. We're not exactly drowning in spare bowls around here." he snickers. He seems to tread water for a moment as he stands in place, as if unsure of what else to say. "...There anything else you need before I-...?"

he asks tentatively as he gestures towards the door.

Amy 's smile widens a little, half of a quiet snort of laughter slipping out, nodding in confirmation. The question that follows causes her eyebrows to furrow, a little of that unease returning. "No, I-... no." she says with a shake of her head, taking Kirill' seemingly imminent departure as cue that she's alright to eat the soup, reaching eagerly for the metal bowl. "Thank you." she repeats.

Kirill furrows his brow and gives her appreciation a small dismissive wave of his hand. "Nothing to thank me for." he says. "Not like this place is mine." he adds with a small gesture around himself, indicating the outpost. "It was here long before any of us settled in. We're all just-..." he shrugs his shoulders as he looks back to Amy, "...looking for a place to lay our head down. Same as you." That gentle, restrained smile

resurfaces. With a small bow of his head, he starts towards the door. "Goodnight, Amy." he offers simply.

Amy nods once more, seeming more than a little relieved by the reception. She lifts the bowl and scoops up a spoonful of hot soup, relishing it. Food. Warmth. Walls. A bed, even. A little bit of safety, at least for the moment. The rest can be sorted out come morning.

It didn't take long for Amy to finish the soup. Sleep, on the other hand, took a while to arrive. Almost an hour of an exhausted mind trying to sift through scattered thoughts and impressions. Once it came, though, she was out like a rock, and she slept well past breakfast. It's closer to lunch when Amy's eyes open. It takes her a moment to get her bearings and remember where she is, but when she does she's hit by an immediate relief.

She sits up, letting out a yawn as she rolls her shoulders. A hand scratching the side of her face elicits a faint grimace, unease replacing relief as she glances around the tent.

The soup is mostly broth with veggies and the occasional chunk of meat. Anyone who has spent considerable time on Aite would probably be able to identify the taste as carashan, a common source of meat in the region. Amy is afforded a bit of privacy, Mayra not returning for quite some time and, when she does, she carefully tiptoes back to her bed hoping to avoid disturbing her bunkmate. That same, distinct, faint chiming persists

throughout the night whenever a strong gust of wind blows through. It's a soft sound. Like two metal instruments lightly tapping against one another. The occasional chatter can be heard outside, but it never lasts long. Not until the sun comes up, at least. Once the inhabitants of the outpost have awoken, voices fill the morning air.

By the time Amy wakes, Mayra has long since set out from the tent. The bed she was seated upon is neatly made. The tent is simple. Rectangular in shape. Three beds line one of the long walls with a trunk at the foot of each. A nightstand with a small lamp situated atop it is beside each of the beds. A few simple chairs are placed against the wall opposite of the beds at a small, squared table. The flooring looks like a custom job. The

hollow thump that sounds out with each footfall implies it's lifted, probably to keep the room dry regardless of the weather. In the center of one of the short walls the canvas is attached to a small segment of wall- made of the same sort of polymer one would expect out of most standard prefab units- with a door set into it. It's simple, unable to be locked by the look of it. Three small double-layered windows are set into each of the two

longer walls, but given the season, all are zipped up securely.

Amy lets out a breath, taking a moment to sweep back her messy hair a little and pick at her eyes before leaving bed. After locating her outerwear she puts on her boots, and the thick jacket, leaving it unzipped over the thinner fleece for the moment. She remains in the tent for a little while, looking at the door. Deep breath... and another... and out she goes.

As soon as Amy steps foot outside, she'd find herself facing a dirt road that runs between the tent she just exited, and a long, glass building on the opposite side. A greenhouse with a number of people are going about their work inside. Like much of the Gorge, it appears to be a custom job. To her left, a good 50 yards out, is the front gate that she arrived at the previous night. It's the only way in and out from that direction. She'd

find that she's not actually in the canyon yet. Just at the mouth of it. The wall is half of a square, boxing the mouth of the canyon in on three sides and running all the way to the canyon wall. On this side of the wall, Amy would be able to see that there's small platforms built into the wall on each side of the gate accessible by narrow staircases that would enable one to watch over the wall if needed. A few more platforms like this

exist further down the wall in both directions. A small farm of solar panels populate the area between the greenhouse and the wall. It's probably the only place they- or the greenhouse- are able to get significant light in the shadow of the mountain. An asari, dressed for the season, is combing through the solar farm, brushing away any snow that may have built up on them throughout the night. A field of tents of all shapes, sizes, and

colors occupy the area between the greenhouse and the canyon proper to Amy's right. A good fifteen-to-twenty on each side of the road. Some even have canopies and chairs set outside of them. Just past the field of tents is a large, open space used for storing vehicles. A handful of heavy duty trucks, each personalized with its own dents, dings, and wear-or-tear, are all parked in a row. If Amy were to look closely, she'd spot her ATV

parked amongst a pair of similar vehicles. Depending on when Amy last passed through the Gorge these additions might all might be new to her.

A number of people are out and about, going about their daily tasks. A glance to the side would reveal the chiming culprit. A simple windchime hangs from the 'guest house's canopy. Colorful bangles that hang from a line that sway in the breeze each time a gust of wind rolls through, causing them to clank off of one another. Similar windchimes decorate some of the tents, causing a gentle cacophony of chimes every now and then.

Amy squints a little as she adjusts to the daylight, looking around, taking in her surroundings. It's been a good while since she passed through the Gorge, and her memory of the place is vague. Eventually her wandering gaze lands on her ATV, and she heads off towards it.

A large, thick-wheeled truck lumbers down the road towards the front gate without paying much mind to Amy. A large plow is welded to the front grill. It was a cold night, but there wasn't a whole lot of snowfall so it's unclear where its going or what it's doing. To that effect, well-maintained paths splinter off from the dirt road leading around the outpost. It's not hard to imagine it being a full-time job to keep them clear when the

weather gets bad. A bit of laughter can be heard from one of the tents closest to the road as Amy passes by. Off to the left, a group of children, two turians, a human, and an asari, are having a snowball fight. They seem to have split into teams of two and Team Turian is currently accusing the others of cheating. The makeshift parking lot up ahead is little more than a plot of open land with a row of vehicles lined up along the road.

Beyond the makeshift parking lot the dirt road continues into the canyon. A smattering of prefabricated shelters can be seen lining the roads. A group of people are at one of the trucks, looking like they're getting ready to head out. A turian is sat in the driver's seat with the door open, boots resting against the step as she converses with the others. A thin human male who looks to be in his early 20s with long, brown hair spilling

out from beneath his tuque is stood in the truck's bed, going through their things as he speaks. "...Probably won't be heading that far out." he informs a dark skinned human male that's stood off to the side of the truck. The turian gives a shrug of her shoulders, "You know you could just come with us." she offers. The man on the ground snorts loudly.

Thomas shakes his head. "I just got off my sixth consecutive night of gate duty. The only place I'm going is straight to bed." he says, which gets a chuckle out of the others.

Amy waits for the truck to pass before moving on across the grounds. She keeps her head down as she walks towards her ATV, although the playing children briefly draw her attention, eliciting a small smirk. She's relieved to find her things still in place once she reaches her vehicle, opening up the sturdy bag strapped to the back and digging around for the plastic bag that's holding her toiletry. She glances over towards the group at

the truck as she overhears part of their conversation. Thinking she recognizes Thomas she decides to head closer after a moment's hesitation. "Uhm... ex-... excuse me?" she interrupts cautiously.

Thomas glances back over his shoulder when Amy speaks up. Their previous encounter wasn't under the most ideal of circumstances. Layers of clothes and the dark of night give him a moment of pause, but who else would be at the ATV? "Hey!" he says, seeming enthusiastic to see her back on her feet after the condition she was in the last time he saw her. He gives a brief glance towards the pair at the truck, dropping his head in farewell

to them as he hops towards Amy. The pair offer idle lifts of their hands and inspect Amy for just a second before they get back to their work. "Uhh-..." he begins with a glance towards the ATV. "All I did was bring it here and shut it down, so if anything is missing-..." he lifts both hands as if to exonerate himself if something was stolen.

Amy looks off to the side as the people in the truck look her way, still keeping her head low. Afterwards her attention returns to Thomas, his words bringing out a slight smile and a small shake of her head. "It seems like everything is there." she says, before adding a "Thanks" as an afterthought when she realizes that he confirmed he was the one that brought the ATV in. "I was just, uh... is there... a bathroom, or something, that I

could...?" she says, her tone stilted, as she lifts the bunched up plastic bag a little, before trailing off and glancing towards the prefabs. She doesn't seem to realize that she skipped right past introductions.

Thomas seems relieved that he's not about to get accused, his smile returning as he lowers his hands. Her question causes him to cast a glance down the road behind him. He opens his mouth to speak before seeming to think better of it. "Ya know what? I was just about to stop by the mess hall for a quick bite before I get some shut eye, actually. It's on the way." He gestures down the road with a nod of his head and turns in that

direction, waiting to see if she joins.

Amy relaxes a little, nodding as she starts to walk with Thomas. She doesn't say anything, just studying the buildings ahead, and the people moving about.

Thomas tucks his hands into the pockets of his thick winter jacket as he starts down the road, offering one last bow of his head to the turian sitting in the driver's seat of the truck.

The turian gives another raise of her hand. "See you in a few days, Tom." she calls out. The man in the bed of the truck looks up from the crate he's rummaging through. "See you later!" he calls out.

Thomas is quick to call back: "Take care out there." as he continues on his way. He gets a few more steps before casting a glance to the woman at his side. "Tom." he says with a snicker and a shrug, deciding she probably already got that much from the others. He lifts his gloved left hand out of his pocket and reaches across himself to offer it to the woman.

Up ahead, once the lone dirt road enters the canyon proper it splits into three roads like a three-pronged fork. The two outside roads are lined with small, prefabricated shelters against the canyon walls. The shelters are tiny, one room affairs, some stacked two high with simple, narrow staircases leading to the second story of the shelter. They're sized more like prison cells or toolsheds than living quarters. Each is uniform with a

single, sliding door and a window. They're the sort of prefabricated shelters that can often be seen being used at temporary worksites as short term housing solutions for employees. At construction sites and the like that are too remote for people to be expected to travel to-and-from the jobsite on a daily basis. Here, however, they seem to be used in a much more permanent capacity. They're lovingly maintained with bits of flair and

personalizations. A few even contain large murals painted on the side of them. On both sides of the central road are a few larger prefabs.

Amy looks a little embarrassed when she realizes she never introduced herself, going to shake his hand. "Amy. I'm Amy." she says without really meeting his gaze.

Thomas gives her hand a quick squeeze before tucking it back into his pocket. "Amy." he says aloud with a nod before being distracted by an approaching woman.

A human woman who looks to be in her mid-30s is heading the opposite way, carrying a toolbox by the handle and bundled up tightly. She offers Thomas a kind smile and a short nod as their paths cross. "Shift over?" she asks.

Thomas gives a nod in turn as the pair pass by the woman. He swivels and continues to walk backwards to keep pace with Amy as he addresses the other woman. "Yep. Getting a bite to eat and then I am gonna throw my ass into bed. Where are you off to?"

The woman snickers and slows her pace as she glances back over her shoulder. "Mayra needs a hand with the wall so-..." she shrugs and tilts her head as if to say 'What can ya do?' and proceeds on her way.

Thomas takes a few more steps backwards before turning back around, smile still on his face. "So..." he begins as he returns his focus to the woman at his side, glancing her way briefly. "You certainly made last night interesting." he snickers.

Amy 's gaze falls to the ground in front of them as she lets out an embarrassed noise. "Yeah... sorry about that." she says, her face mostly hidden behind her hair.

Thomas gives a shake of his head. "It's allllll good." he assures. "Just shook things up a bit is all." After a few more steps he asks, "I take it that you being out-and-about today means you're feeling better?"

Amy nods. "Yeah..." she sighs. "Just... needed some sleep."

There's six larger prefabs that line each side of the central road through the narrow canyon up ahead of them. The first of the large prefabs on the right side of the road has a pair of large rolling shutter doors that span nearly the entire side of the building that faces the road. The one directly across from it has a few people heading inside. A metal sign is mounted above the door that has the words 'Mess Hall' engraved on it. The

rest of the large prefabs look to be identical to the mess hall from the outside, though the one just past it has a large antennae mounted to its roof.

Thomas gives a few nods of his own. "Good to hear. Good to hear." he says. "So how far did you travel on that thing, anyway?" he asks, seeming genuinely curious.

Amy furrows her eyebrows a little as they keep walking, studying the larger prefabs briefly. "I... I'm not sure." she says quietly.

Thomas furrows his brow in turn, glancing Amy's way skeptically. "You're not sure...?" he asks, sounding a bit confused. "Where were you coming from?"

Wires are strung from one prefab to another to carry power around the outpost. A few of the small prefabs have more of those windchimes Amy seen earlier hanging from them. In the distance, past the prefabs, the road curves around a small clearing where a single statue stands. It's difficult to make out the details of the statue from this distance. Beyond it the road leads to another gated wall, similar to the one at the opposite end of

Traveler's Gorge. This wall is far less impressive than the other since the narrowness of the gorge means this end requires a much smaller wall to block the passage.

Amy turns her head to study the nearest windchime just to have something to focus on as Thomas questions her. "Homestead out west. I'm not sure how far, but... I left two nights ago, I guess."

Thomas expression contorts into a frown as Amy speaks and his walking slows until he comes to a complete stop just outside of the mess hall. "Two nights ago...?" he asks softly in disbelief. "On that thing?" he adds, cocking a thumb back in the general direction of her ATV. "Shit..."

Amy nods faintly, stopping when she realizes Thomas has. A hand reaches up to scratch her neck, her gaze focused on the ground next to him. "Yeah... I... didn't realize how far it was." she admits with a slight wince.

Thomas studies Amy in silence for a moment, unsure of what to say. His attention is diverted when a young turian passes between them as he enters the mess hall and gives Thomas a pat on the shoulder, causing the human to force a brief smile into place and acknowledge the turian with a nod. But the smile slips away as he looks back to Amy. "You-... uhh.... you in some sort of trouble...?" he asks tentatively, lowering his voice and

giving a brief glance around before the words leave his mouth.

Amy 's eyes widen slightly, gaze darting up to Thomas briefly as a "What?" slips out. The discomfort is obvious in her face, and the way she shifts back just a little. "No, I'm-... I'm fine."

Thomas lifts a hand in an attempt at calming her. "Alright, alright. Just-..." he draws in a breath and gives a small shrug of his shoulders. "...You don't drive for two days in the middle of an Aite winter on a four wheeler unless something is wrong." he says flatly. "You know?" he adds as if to lighten the impact of his assumption. "And they said you were on your way here, so-..." another small shrug as he trails off, giving no

indication as to who 'they' might be. "Not exactly a whole lot going on here-..." he gestures about, forcing a small smirk, "...so it isn't exactly hard to put two and two together..."

Amy shifts a little in place, wincing as she realizes she mentioned as much while exhausted. Not that she could've gone very long without doing so. She offers a vague shrug in response, glancing off towards the side. "The-... the bathroom?" she asks in a less-than-subtle attempt at escaping the conversation.

Thomas, for what it's worth, doesn't press. As a matter of fact, he mutters a quiet, though sincere: "...Sorry." Drawing in a breath, he glances past Amy and nods towards the large prefab next to the shuttered building. Unlike the mess hall there's no signage on it. There's only a single powered sliding door to enter it through. It looks to be of a similar design as the mess hall. Not all that unusual considering the modular design of

prefabricated buildings. "That's it right there." he confirms.

Amy briefly glances Thomas' way before following his nod towards the indicated building. "Thanks." she mumbles with a nod after he confirms that's the place she's looking for, slipping away pretty quickly towards the door.

Thomas merely nods. "You got it." he says, seemingly thinking better than to try and keep her for any more questions.

The door opens into a hall that extends the length of the building straight ahead. To the left are two large openings, one only a few feet down the hall and the other near the end of the hall, that lead into two separate rooms. The telltale scent of powerful cleaning chemicals hit the nose as soon as one enters. It looks to be fairly clean. For a place in the middle of nowhere, at least. The first room is composed of a narrow stalls on

both sides of the room, ten on one side and nine on the other with the last one twice as large. Someone has painted the words 'VORNOKK'S OFFICE' across the double wide stall's door in colorful lettering. The wall at the opposite end of the entrance has a counter with a few large sinks set in it. It has all of the amenities you'd expect out of a public restroom. Nothing fancy, but much better maintained than some public restrooms.

Probably a necessity given its importance in the outpost. A few of the stalls are occupied. The second room is of a similar design, but with showers in the stalls. Most of the stall doors are closed and the sound of running water hitting the tiled floor echoes throughout the building, but a couple seem to be free.

Amy lets out a breath upon getting inside, and, more importantly, away from the conversation. As her gaze travels across the two openings discomfort quickly returns to her face, and for a while she just stands around awkwardly in the corridor. The showers especially seem to give her pause. Eventually she decides to head for the room with the toilets, going over to a sink to wash her face and brush her teeth.

A toilet flushes and the door opens. Out steps a man who noticeably doesn't wash his hands and just leaves! The filthy scoundrel! The other stalls empty out soon enough, with the inhabitants paying little mind to Amy aside from polite greetings. For all they know she's just another traveler passing through. It's not until Amy is nearly done brushing her teeth that a familiar face appears in the mirror behind her. Hamilton. He starts

towards one of stalls before taking notice of Amy in the mirror. It causes him to immediately change course.

Hamilton allows a sheepish smile to cross his face. "You're awake." he says, stopping a few steps behind her.

Amy blinks, looking up to spot Hamilton in the mirror when she hears him. Toothbrush still in her mouth she offers an awkward nod before leaning down to spit, turning around to face him afterwards.

Hamilton says, "I dropped by this morning but you were still down for the count. Seemed like you could use the rest, so I didn't want to wake you..." he says, looking a tad bit guilty that he wasn't around when she finally came to. "How are you feeling...?"

Amy makes a half-hearted attempt at a small smile. "Yeah... still pretty tired, but... feeling a lot better than last night." she assures, fiddling idly with the plastic bag in her hands.

Hamilton nods a few times, offering a small smile of his own. "Good, that's-... that's good." he says quietly. His gaze slips back to the toothbrush and he gives a snort and a roll of his eyes as if having just realized how awkward it is that he chose right now to spark up a conversation. "Sorry, I shouldn't-..." he gestures to the bag, "...don't let me keep you." he snickers, taking a step back. "But you should stop by the mess hall

when you're done here. It's just leftovers today, but-..." he shrugs his shoulders, "...you should probably get some food in you. Keep your energy up. You were in pretty bad shape last night..."

Amy nods a couple of times. "Yeah, that's-... that's a good idea." she agrees, gesturing a little aimlessly towards the stalls. "I'll head over there when I'm... done." With that she slinks off towards the nearest free stall.

Hamilton steps off in the opposite direction. "It's just across the road. Can't miss it." he offers.

Amy arrives at the mess hall a while later, after freshening up best she can and stowing her toiletries away on the ATV. She hovers near the doorway after entering, taking in the room.

The mess hall is a large, open room with rows of benches and tables. Off to the right of the front door a wall separates the building, a door leading to what one would assume is probably a kitchen. Against the wall opposite of the front door is a large serving table, complete with heating trays. Currently leftovers from the previous day's soup- of which Amy already had a taste- sits in a large pot on one of the heating trays with a tray

of bread beside it. There's a pot on the heating tray beside it that looks to be some sort of dark gravy, but the words 'DEXTRO' are written on a large piece of tape and placed across the heating tray so all can see. A number of bowls identical to the one brought to Amy the previous night sit stacked on a tray on the serving table along with utensils and cups. The drink options seem to be coffee or water. Near the end of the serving

table is a coffee maker with a piping hot pot already brewed. Next to it is an ice and water dispenser that looks like its been put through the ringer.

It seems as if Amy missed the lunch rush as the place is mostly empty. A woman and her two children occupy on of the tables, eating in silence. Thomas and Caelus are together at a table near the far end of the room. There's a few others strewn about as well, looking to duck in for a quick bite before they get back to work. Near the center of the room, Kirill is sopping up soup with a piece of bread and shoveling it into his mouth. A

young woman with short dark hair is seated atop the table next to him, her heavy winter boots resting on the bench beside the large man as she looks down to him, gesturing wildly to the omni-tool interface projected from the device balanced atop her knee. He nods absently to whatever it is she's going on about, clearly more invested in his food than what she has to say.

Amy scans across the scattered people for a moment before heading over to the serving table, eager for more food. The sight of the stack of bowls makes her realize she left her old soup bowl in the tent. She resolves to do something about that after lunch. She takes her time filling up a bowl of soup and a cup of coffee, as well as grabbing some bread. When she's done she glances out across the room again, an uncomfortable look on

her face as she tries to figure out where to sit.

Kirill is the first to take notice of Amy. That reserved smile of his makes a return and he gives a small nod of his head as if to gesture for her to join him. He's quick to look back to the woman looking down at him and nod a few times, as if assuring her that he's listening.

Amy seems about to take an empty table when Kirill notices her, and after a brief moment of hesitation she heads over, setting her bowl and cup down at one of the empty seats, sliding silently into the chair, seemingly not eager to be the first to speak.

Kirill pointedly looks from the woman seated with him to Amy as she arrives, obviously trying to draw attention to her. The woman seated atop the table merely glances at the approaching woman before turning her focus right back to Kirill which gets a deep sigh out of him. It seems he was hoping she'd drop whatever she's going on about when she saw company joining them. Instead, he merely mouths the word 'Hey' to Amy as she drops into

her seat.

The woman has short dark hair and bright blue eyes. "We need to come up with something soon." she insists.

Kirill gives a tired snicker as he dips his bread into his bowl. "We spent, what? Six months gatherin' everything to get that greenhouse runnin'? And it looks like everything is workin', just gotta give it time." he says as he looks up to the woman hovering beside him. His smile widens and it makes the crows feet at the corners of his eyes more apparent. "It's gonna work out, trust me."

The woman looks unconvinced, cocking a brow as she looks down at the older man. "Like the livestock?" she asks.

Kirill shrugs and brings the bread to his mouth, taking his time with his bite, much to the woman's frustration. "That could've worked, too." he says simply.

The woman seems confused as to what that even means. "It... didn't, though?"

Kirill shakes his head as he focuses on sopping up more soup with his bread. "Could've." he repeats. "You just gotta have a little faith, Paige."

Paige sighs. "I don't have faith. And do you know why I don't have faith? Because I have numbers." She gestures smugly to the orange interface projected from the omni-tool balanced on the knee of her worn down black jeans. "And do you know what the numbers say?"

Kirill's smile only seems to widen as he looks back up to her. It's an endearing smile. There's not an ounce of annoyance. Just total amusement over just how high strung the much-younger woman is. "Got a feeling you're about to tell me."

The numbers say that we'll barely make it through the winter if things don't change. And that's if the greenhouse works out.

Amy flashes a faint smile as Kirill acknowledges her presence, listening in silence to the conversation as she starts to dip her bread in the soup, not really wanting to interrupt. She looks cleaned up compared to the night before, and most of her light brown hair has been tied back in a ponytail aside from a couple of lose strands that frame her face. The black eye is still prominent, something which the bathroom mirror made her

aware of. The exchange causes her eyebrows to furrow a little. Food trouble? Her chewing slows for a moment, suddenly feeling very conscious of the fact that she's consuming resources she hasn't done anything to earn.

Korsix will come through for us. He has so far.

Paige says, "Great!" with no small amount of mock enthusiasm, "So then we can just triple the turians' rations while the rest of us starve to death, then!" she continues with fake cheer.

Kirill doesn't seem nearly as concerned over all of this as Paige, merely shaking his head. "Rafe and I will take the excess into Freedom Falls, flip it down at the market, and use the profits to replenish the stockpiles." he says, implying he's at least given their situation some thought.

And end up with, what, a third of the value?

Kirill shrugs his shoulders. "Cost of doin' business." he says.

Paige scoffs. "And this is assuming we even have any vehicles left to get to Freedom Falls by then considering you seem to want to give them all away."

One truck. And I didn't give it away. Lend is the word you're lookin' for.

To a woman that hates us.

To a friend.

To a maniac, you mean?

Kirill seems to consider her words and decide that he can't really dispute it. Instead, he lifts his soggy bread to his mouth. "She can be both." he decides.

Paige pokes at her omni-tool, shutting it down with a roll of her eyes. "Sometimes I want to hit you." she says as she stuffs the device into the pocket of her jacket and collects her hat and gloves from the table.

Kirill's gentle smile remains, seeming to take it in stride. "Doubt anyone would blame you." he comforts as the woman climbs off the table.

Paige tugs her gloves on as she starts towards the door, but she only gets a few steps before turning back. "Don't forget! Drinks by the firepit tonight!" she reminds, whatever frustration she has over their disagreement about the food situation immediately set aside. "The Collectors are gone, that's a big deal!" she adds, as if she might need to do some convincing to get Kirill down there. Her gaze snaps towards Amy. "You too, Amy!"

she says and, despite it obviously being about a celebration of some sort, she manages to make it sound like an order despite having never set eyes on the woman until 30 seconds ago. It's a small place and news travels fast. "If you're gonna be sticking around I need to know what you can do so I know where to put you." It seems like she has more to say, but she spots Thomas making his way out the front door with a bowl of soup

in each hand and marches after him. "What did I tell you, Tommy?! One bowl! If you're bringing it back to your room, one bowl!" she chastizes, having to give chase when Thomas begins powerwalking to avoid her ire.

Kirill merely shakes his head at Paige's antics and gets right back to dipping his bread. "Sorry..." he says, his eyes lifting to look Amy's way. "Sounded like you might be stickin' around for a while so-..." he continues with a shrug, implying he's the reason behind Paige's comment.

Amy 's attention darts back and forth between the two of them, continuing to listen to the conversation while eating. Paige's omni-tool garners a brief, odd glance but she's quickly back to eating. The one-sided argument elicits a bit of unease, but the end of their exchange draws out a slight hint of amusement, at least until Paige addresses Amy, causing her to blink and freeze up a little. She doesn't have time to form a reply

before the... intense young woman charges off to deal with Thomas. Kirill's words cause her to turn her attention back to him with a slightly embarrassed half-laugh. "I-... I was-... I wanted to talk about that. To ask. If it was possible that I could. Just... for a while." she says, obviously more than a little uncomfortable, and nervous. Her eyes linger on her soup for a while before darting up to Kirill again. "I can make

myself useful." she assures. "Whatever work needs doing."

Kirill gives a small nod as he studies the bread that's rapidly losing its shape in his soup. "You just about killed yourself gettin' here. Wouldn't be right for me to just turn you away, would it?" he offers, looking back to the young woman with a smile. "Besides, we could always use more hands pitchin' in." he adds, as if she'd be the one doing them a favor by staying. "Believe me, it's an all hands on deck affair to keep this place


Amy relaxes a little in her chair, a faint hint of a smile briefly tugging at her lips. The sighed "Thank you..." that follows sounds more than a little exhausted. Getting kicked out right away was clearly a concern. She takes a sip from her coffee to ward off thoughts of just sleeping until the evening. She feels like she could.

Kirill gives a few short nods as he takes another bite of his soggy bread. "Don't worry. Nobody is expectin' you to get right down to work. She just-..." he casts a glance over his shoulder towards the front door the woman disappeared through but resigns himself to a small shake of his head, his smile widening. "Well, she likes to keep things organized, that's all." he says. "Truth is this place would probably fall apart if it wasn't

for her." he adds with no small amount of appreciation for what the high strung young woman puts in to keeping the outpost running.

Amy nods faintly, going back to the soup as she finds herself unsure what to say. Something Paige said sticks in her mind. She's hesitant to ask, but something about Kirill's calm demeanor makes it feel oddly natural to do so. "What... did she mean, 'the Collectors are gone'...?"

Kirill furrows his brow, seeming confused by the question at first. "You haven't heard yet, huh?" he asks. "I don't know all the details myself, but news broke yesterday. A group goin' by the name 'Cerberus' is claimin' credit for puttin' an end to the Collectors. Sounds like it's the real deal." he explains. Though clearly happy about the news, he talks about it with the candid demeanor of someone far removed from the situation. It's

probably not hard to imagine why. Out here, he's likely got more than enough day-to-day problems on his plate to keep up with galactic news. Hard to worry too much about the Collectors when you've got a laundry list of more pressing concerns.

Amy blinks, eyebrows furrowing a little as she chews on a piece of bread. "I... didn't think they were real." she admits quietly, before going back to her soup.

Kirill only looks more confused by Amy's reaction. "The Collectors...?" he asks.

Amy nods slightly, looking a little uncomfortable as she notices Kirill's confusion. She focuses her attention on the coffee cup as she brings it up to her lips.

Kirill studies Amy in silence for a moment, her cluelessness over something that's been such a big deal obviously causing him a bit of confusion. "They've been snatching up colonies all over for a while now. Had people pretty worried." he says. "You-... uhh-... don't check out the news very often, do you?" he asks as he reaches for his glass of water. The truth is he doesn't check out the news very often. But it's been hard to avoid

all of the news surrounding the Collectors and the missing colonies in recent months.

Amy furrows her eyebrows, attention sticking on her remaining coffee, but Kirill's words draws it away for a moment. "Oh..." she says, surprise mixing with embarrassment. "No, I-... I had no idea." she says, the frown lingering as she studies her food.

Kirill watches Amy from across the table for a moment as he takes a short sip from his glass. "Been all over the news lately." he says rather than pointing out just how bizarre it is that the news somehow missed her. With a small shrug he adds, "Sounds like that's all over now, though..."

Amy nods faintly. "That's-... that's good." she says quietly, before trailing off into silence and resuming her eating.

Kirill gives a few nods of his own. "Yeah." he agrees simply. Questions about where she's from- apparently a place out west where the biggest story in the galaxy hadn't reached- spring up in his mind, but she didn't seem to be all that eager to talk about it last night and the last thing he wants to do is hammer her with questions. It's just not his way. Instead, sensing her obvious discomfort, he changes subject. "As soon as we're

finished eating, how about we get you set up with a room with a bit more privacy than the guest house?" he asks. "I figure if you're gonna be sticking around, you're gonna need a place to put your things, right?"

Amy seems a little caught off-guard by the offer, eyes shifting to Kirill as she swallows a spoonful of soup. "That-... do you have rooms to spare?" she asks, seeming wary of giving the impression that she's trying to take advantage of their hospitality.

Kirill takes a moment to focus on his final bite of bread, merely nodding at first. "Got an empty prefab right out back. They're not much to look at, but they're heated and the doors lock." he says with a shrug, as if that's a commodity around here. "Could get you set up with a tent, too, if you'd prefer it. But, with everything else goin' on right now, that might take a couple days before someone can get around to it."

Amy uses her remaining bread to soak up the last of her soup. "A prefab would be... great." she's quick to reply, before eating the last of her food. She's certainly not in a position to be picky, and a room to herself, even if it's cramped, sounds very appealing.

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Kirill Kozlov
Kirill Kozlov