#Traveler'sGorge – November 26, 2019

December 15th. Life in the Gorge moves at its own pace. It's peaceful, but never really quiet. Not fully. Sure, most of the outpost sleeps at a reasonable hour, but there's plenty of outliers. Plenty of jobs that still need done in the dead of night, such as guarding the gates and patrolling the premises. Plenty of people who are just night owls, lending to whispered voices that can occasionally be heard passing by Amy's prefab in the

night. Or the out-of-place unstifled laugh in the distance. The sound of one of the many sturdy vehicles lumbering through can sometimes be heard, or even the rare traveler passing through. But it's mostly unintrusive. People seem to take great care to keep from disturbing one another. On the 14th, Amy was left mostly to her own devices outside of a few short visits. Kirill was the first to check-in. An early-riser, the sun wasn't even

out when his buzz sounded at the door. Seemed that he would be spending the day working on the wall and just wanted to let her know where to find him in case she had any questions that needed answering. Hamilton was the second to drop by a few hours later in what was- despite going unsaid- clearly a follow-up visit to make sure there were no lingering issues arising from her two-day trip through the snowy wastes of Aite. A story that has

made its rounds throughout the outpost by now. Paige was the last to pay Amy a visit. Ever the busy bee, she seemed to be in a hurry and just swung by to inform Amy that she would be accompanying her to the greenhouse the following morning so they can try and get to work on figuring out how she can pitch in around the outpost. Breakfast at seven in the morning (ish). Lunch at noon. Dinner at seven in the evening. When the sun went down,

the lights went on and a few firepits around the camp sparked to life. It seemed as if work on the damaged wall has taken priority since they'll only have Mayra's help for a limited time and that went on well into the night.

Amy mostly stuck to her room on the 14th. The long, cold trip had left a lingering exhaustion and she gladly took the chance to rest up a bit more between visits. Fortunately, it seems that she was spared any lasting afflictions from the trip - warmth, rest and food has done her well. She'd spent some time just walking around the Gorge to familiarize herself a bit with the layout of the place. Much of the remainder of her day was

spent just... processing. She was here, she'd made it. It was strange to be around so many unfamiliar people, but the private space she'd been granted was a blessing. The reception had been friendly so far. Would that last? She hoped so. With plenty of rest gotten over the day, Amy is up bright and early on the 15th, cleaning herself up best she can without leaving her prefab and then making a brief visit to the bathroom. Upon

returning to her room she's just been waiting anxiously for breakfast or Paige, whichever comes first.

Amy's visit to the bathroom provides a bit of intel. Mainly that the bathrooms in the morning are a popular place. Even though the sun is just starting to come up, plenty of people are lined up in the hall, bags and towels in hand as they wait for a shower stall to open up. During her exploration around the Gorge the previous day, Amy would have come to the realization that humans seem to represent the majority of the Gorge's population,

but turians and asari in equal parts make up most of the remainder. Whatever differences they may have, half asleep and lined up along the hallway wall as they wait their turn, there seems to be some common ground that's painted across all of their faces. Mornings suck. Thankfully the line for a bathroom stall is shorter. It's not long after Amy returns to her prefab that there's a buzz at the door.

Amy is sitting against the wall in the simple bed, chin resting on her knees as she looks through the opened blinds at the slowly brightening outside. She perks up as she hears the door buzz, scooting out of bed, running a hand across her chin and taking a deep breath before going to open the door. She's wearing the same clothes she has been since arriving. Worn blue jeans over thermal underwear and a fleece jacket with a couple of

layers beneath. Her winter jacket hangs next to the door, boots standing underneath it.

Kirill is the one stood on the other side when the door slides open rather than Paige. Always the early riser, he seems to have already beaten back that morning daze that those down at the showers were still trying to fight off. He's wearing a thick, black winter jacket with soft white fur lining the hood and collar. The same one she's seen him in previously. His dark blue cargo pants are tucked into the top of his old beat up black

boots. The frayed laces aren't fully laced up, only strung through the lower half of the eyelets before being tied around the boots. He has a large, crumpled up paper bag under his arm and a cup with rising steam in each hand, one of which he extends towards Amy when she appears. "Morning." he says simply, that kind smile of his peeking out from between his dark, bushy beard that's growing increasingly occupied by specs of


Amy looks a little surprised, gaze adjusting upward when met with the large man. She's quick to accept the cup with a quiet "Thanks...", although a moment later she catches herself, eyebrows furrowing slightly as she adds a: "Uhm, good morning."

Kirill shifts to the side slightly as to not block the doorway, gaze traveling out towards the road briefly as a few people make their way towards the mess hall, no doubt getting an early start on waiting for breakfast to be put out. As his attention shifts back to Amy, he looks towards the cup of coffee in her hands. "Wasn't sure how you took your coffee so I just-..." he gives a small shrug, "...put a bit of cream and sugar. Hope

that's alright." If his reason for being here involves more than trying to be a good neighbor and delivering coffee then he certainly seems to be in no hurry to get to it.

Amy cradles the hot cup in her hands, taking a small probing sip to gauge the temperature. Kirill's comment is quick to elicit a nod. "Yeah, that's-... that's fine." she replies, flashing a small, awkward smile. She seems a little unsure how to act, and whether she should invite him in or put her boots on. She ends up just standing around a little aimlessly, trying not look uncomfortable.

Kirill shuffles his own cup to his free hand so he can hold his bag in-hand rather than keeping it pinned against his body with his arm. He once again turns his gaze out towards the rest of the outpost as he enjoys the warmth, giving a pleased smack of his lips when he pulls the dinged up old cup away. "Figured you and I should try and get an early start on things at the greenhouse." he says, finally getting around to explaining why

he's here.

Amy 's eyebrows rise a little. "Oh! Uh, yeah... of course." she says, looking around for somewhere to put the cup. There isn't anywhere, of course, and she ends up crouching down to place it a little awkwardly on the floor before grabbing her boots and starting to put them on. Once the sturdy winter boots are properly laced her jacket goes on as well, although she leaves it unzipped since it sounds like they'll be heading indoors.

Kirill patiently waits for Amy to get ready and recollect her coffee. Something seems to occur to him as he watches another person heading towards the mess hall, causing him to glance her way and give a small lift of the crumpled paper bag in his hand. "I went ahead and swung by the kitchen. Threw together some breakfast." he explains, not wanting her to think he's expecting her to miss breakfast. "It's nothing fancy. Just a couple

sandwiches." he warns as he waits for her to finish locking up.

Amy reaches down to grab the coffee after slipping the jacket on, the words causing her to glance over towards the bag, a small smile crossing her lips as she offers a nod. "I-... thanks." she says quietly, stepping out and sealing the prefab. She hasn't changed the code yet - she'd been hoping to ask Paige about that when there was time, since she's not quite sure how to do it.

Kirill merely nods away the appreciation. Once Amy is finished, he begins to lead the way down the road, casting a glance her way to make sure she's following. "How're you settling in?"

Amy takes a deep breath of cold morning air and follows alongside Kirill, gaze wandering the compound. The question causes her to glance over his way briefly. "It's... an adjustment." she admits after a moment's thought, attention on the ground ahead now. "There's... a lot of people here." she says with a quiet, nervous chuckle. "I just want to make myself useful. I'm not here to be a burden."

Kirill continues down the dirt road as he listens to the woman at his side. He doesn't seem to be in any rush to get to the greenhouse, moving at a slow pace. That just seems to be his way. His approach to everything. Slow and steady. He'll get there when he gets there and he'll work at his own pace. If that means staying a little later to make sure the work gets done? He'll stay a little later. The road is clear of snow despite the

small sprinkling that came down throughout the night. The cold winter has left the ground hard, each step like walking on pavement. Some of the tent inhabitants up ahead are waking. A man in thick work pants lowers his head as he ducks out of his tent, his upper half clothed by the off-white long underwear he's wearing before he swings his jacket on to start his day. Kirill nods to Amy's first statement. Her second garners a

soft snicker of his own. It's something he usually tries to put out of his mind. Not only are there a lot of people. There's a lot of people that, by some twist of fate, depend on him. "You will." he says simply- confidently- in response to her wish to be useful, clearly not all that concerned. "This place doesn't really give you too much of a choice." he adds with a snicker as he takes another sip from his cup.

Amy nods slightly herself before taking a sip of her coffee, continuing to match Kirill's pace as they head towards the greenhouse, her gaze once more wandering a little around the place. "I, uhm..." there's a pause as she hesitates, looking down into her coffee cup. "...there was something I was wondering about actually..."

Kirill continues at his slow pace, briefly passing a small nod of his head to the man at the tent who offers one in return. He shoots a quick glance Amy's way to let her know he's listening as he waits for her to voice her question. In the distance, that same construction vehicle from the other day is still parked up against the wall. Seems as though they're not quite done working on the wall yet.

Amy 's gaze travels over to the damaged wall section and the vehicle there for a little bit, before she speaks again. "I was just wondering... does-... do you have the... extranet, here?" she finally asks with a glance over to Kirill. The look on her face is as if she's not entirely sure she has the right word.

Kirill gives a small furrow of his brow. More in response to the look on her face than the question itself. Considering the nature of their little outpost, it would be a fair question on its own. But he doesn't dwell on it, not wanting to make her uncomfortable. "Uhh-... we do." he says, though the small tilt of his head that follows implies it's not quite that simple. "It's spotty at best. And-... well, this time of year? When the

weather flairs up?" he gives a small shrug, interrupting his response with another sip of his coffee. "Wouldn't count on it being useful for much. If you're lookin' for a stable connection, your best bet is to head on down to the utility building." he continues, casting a glance back over his shoulder down the road behind them with a nod in that direction. "The one with the big antennae on top." he explains, the antennae

visible over the top of the mess hall from their position.

Amy follows Kirill's gaze towards the utility building, nodding a couple of times. "I-... I see. Thank you." she says, sucking in her lips and lingering on the antennas for a moment. There's a bit of lingering awkwardness, and it almost seems like she's going to ask something else, but she seems to reconsider, turning forward again and sipping her coffee.

Kirill's gaze lingers on Amy for a few moments longer, as if gauging her reaction. He gives a few slow nods as he turns his focus back on the road in front of him. "Somethin' else on your mind?" he asks simply, that look on her face having not gone unnoticed. He has plenty of his own questions bouncing around in his head, but he doesn't voice them. Amy is far from the first 'stray' to wander into the Gorge. If experience has taught

him anything, it's that you don't gain someone's trust by prying or demanding answers. People need their space. Room to breathe.

Amy once again hesitates a little at the question, walking a few steps in silence before shaking her head, bringing the coffee back to her lips to hide her discomfort. "No, that's it. I was-... I was just wondering." she says quietly after lowering the cup.

Kirill merely gives a few nods of his head, silence taking hold once more. The greenhouse is just up ahead on their right. It's one of the larger buildings in the outpost. Long and tall. Sheet metal and either some sort of transparent plastic or glass make up most of the structure. Weld lines along the sheet metal imply that it was probably all hand crafted. Not a small undertaking to say the least. Large machinery sit nearby giving

off a constant hum, their pipes and ducts snaking into the greenhouse. Beyond the greenhouse the morning ritual of sweeping the snow away from the farm of solar panels is already underway. An asari and a turian in thick winter gear each weild what look like little more than large, bushy brooms as they mindlessly brush the smattering of snow from the panels. "Ever been in a greenhouse?" he asks, an idle attempt at keeping the

conversation going.

Amy nods softly, her gaze wandering across the homemade greenhouse and the solar farm. "Yes, there... uhm, there was a small greenhouse at the homestead I came here from." she says, her voice remaining quiet. "For fresh vegetables in the winter." she adds just to fill the silence and lessen her discomfort.

Kirill continues to meander towards their destination. The response causes him to shoot a sharp glance Amy's way, clearly not having expected as much. "Oh." he says softly. Grew their own food and had a greenhouse. It's not much to go on, but it's progress. He gets another few steps before speaking up again. "Well, you just might qualify as an expert around here, then." he snickers.

Amy lets out a brief, slightly embarrassed chuckle. "I-... I don't know about that." she says, perhaps worried about giving rise to undue expectations. "But I know the basics, at least." she adds before sipping her coffee again, sticking to Kirill's slow pace.

Kirill gives a small shrug, his broad shoulders rising and falling. "That's more than a lot of people around here can say, Amy." he says, and it's clearly not meant as a dig at the others. Just intended to clarify that they don't really have some minimum bar that she needs to clear to be helpful here. There's no required knowledge. Everyone here pitches in. You figure out where you can lend a hand or you learn on the job. "Up until we

got this sonova gun up and running-..." he gestures towards the structure ahead of them with a nod, "...Guessin' a lot of the folks around here had never even set foot in one. Heck, truth be told? I'm not quite sure this even counts." he continues with genuine amusement as he studies the structure they're approaching. "Did what we could with what we had but-... eh, it's not exactly my area of expertise." he continues, perhaps

downplaying his own abilities just a bit.

Amy gains a small smirk, nodding a couple of times in acknowledgement. As Kirill continues to speak she keeps studying the greenhouse. "It's... a lot larger than the one at the homestead." she assesses. She hesitates briefly before asking: "It, uhm... it sounded like you've had some food problems?" she asks, glancing over towards Kirill to ensure that there's no offence taken at her prying.

Kirill continues to study the makeshift structure as Amy points out its size. The question that follows doesn't seem to offend him in the least. If she's planning on sticking around, it's certainly a valid concern. That small smile returns, buried beneath his thick beard as he recalls the one-sided conversation that Amy must be referring to. "Paige is a worrier." he says, shooting a glance towards Amy. It's said with nothing but

fondness. "She can be a little-... uhh-... intense at times." he continues, his tone implying that he's well aware that might be an understatement. He leaves it unsaid that this was the reason that he made the executive decision to come pick Amy up himself rather than leaving it to Paige. He takes a moment to sip at his warm drink before continuing. "But her heart is in the right place. And she ain't exactly wrong." he

admits, a small sigh slipping out before evaporating into steam in the cold air. "But we'll manage." he says with a nod, sounding undeterred. "We always do."

Amy 's smirk returns briefly at Kirill's diplomatic description of Paige, and she offers a faint nod at the assurance that follows, sipping her coffee again as she considers his words. "It must be challenging to keep this many people fed without farmland..."

Kirill's merely nods at Amy's assessment. "We do what we can to help out some of the local settlements. In return, they provide us with whatever they can spare. Hunting helps to supplement it but-... well, long-term sustainability is certainly a concern." he admits. "We've tried out a few things. I helped run a farm back out-..." he trails off, realizing the details don't matter so he instead gestures in an arbitrary direction with

the paper bag in his hand. More than anything it's a throwaway comment intended to give a little back. She shared. He shares. That's how it works. That's how trust is built. "...So, naturally, I figured we should give that a shot. But, I'm guessin' I don't have to tell you, the soil here-..." he sighs, pausing momentarily to kick the toe of his boot against the ground for emphasis before carrying on his way, "...ain't exactly

made for plantin' crops. Not to mention the weather, the lack of equipment, the wildlife, the-..." he trails off, deciding she probably gets the point. "So that went belly up. Before that we tried our hand at raising some livestock." he continues, his smile returning as he shoots a quick look Amy's way, seeming as if there's more than a few interesting stories buried in there. "Just a few space cows we bought off one of the

bigger farming operations up north. But that didn't last long. We quickly realized that, unless we were able to strike up some sort of deal with someone to get feed we were gonna spend more keeping them fed than they were worth. That is, the ones that the carashan didn't pick off." he clarifies with another glance Amy's way. "So-... so we're givin' this a shot. Took us the better part of half a year just to get ahold of

everything. Fertilizers. Equipment. Quality soil. But-..." he gives a few nods, once more lifting his gaze to look over the structure, "...but it's gonna work." he says softly, his tone optimistic.

Amy listens curiously as Kirill shares a bit about their efforts to keep the people of the Gorge fed. The attention paid and the occasional nod gives the impression that she does know a thing or two about farming. The carashan problem seems familiar, by the look on her face. The final words bring her attention back to the greenhouse, nodding again as she studies the building once more. "What are you growing?" she asks, her tone one

of genuine interest.

As they approach, a digital panel is visible just beside the front door.

Kirill continues his slow gait towards the front door of the greenhouse as he responds to Amy's question. "Well, right now we're just runnin' a few tests. Last thing we wanna do is plant everything we've gathered just to find out something ain't workin' right with the tech." he explains. A fact which is reflected by the lack of greenery showing through the transparent panels of the greenhouse. It looks to be segmented inside, walls

separating off different parts of the building to allow climate to be controlled for specific crops. The segment closest to the door seems to mostly be filled with equipment- grow tables, sacks of what must be fertilizer and soil, and plenty of other odds and ends- but the one beyond looks to be rows of untilled soil. There only seems to be a single person in the segment the door opens into. Paige is inside studying the

interface of her omni-tool as she sorts through the equipment. She's dressed in a pair of worn down black jeans that are tucked into winter boots that reach nearly to her knees and a cream-colored thick sweater. Her jacket is in a pile atop one of the grow tables along with her gloves and tuque. "We've got some Beria's Lace planted..." he continues, assuming Amy will be familiar with local vegetables, "...and it seems to be

doing well. We're also tryin' our hand at a hydroponics system. Just some greshk-..." which Amy should remember from the other night, "...and tomatoes for now." He divides his attention between Amy and the digital readout once they reach the door, giving it a few taps. It seems to be a monitor of some sort, allowing one to quickly check the status of things such as the temperature of any given 'wing' of the greenhouse without

having to go inside.

Amy continues to listen, nodding a couple of times and glancing inside at Paige briefly before joining Kirill by the panel, shooting it a look as she sips her coffee again, not that it's likely to mean much to her without proper context.

Kirill doesn't spend too much time at the panel before looking back to Amy. It's not like it has much information to offer him without the greenhouse being fully operational. It seems more like he's just poking through it to make sure it's working as intended. "Considering the greshk turned out and the lace seems to be growing as intended, the plan is to get to work planting." he explains. "Which means we could certainly use another

pair of hands." he adds in what might be a transparent attempt at making sure Amy doesn't feel unwelcome. "Anyhow, we probably shouldn't keep Paige waiting for too long." he says, lifting his hand back to the panel, crumpled up bag clutched against his palm as he taps at it with an outstretched finger to open the door.

Amy offers another nod, a small smile crossing her lips as she follows Kirill. "Like I said, I'm happy to do whatever work needs doing." she assures, although it's undeniable that the greenhouse offers a certain appeal since it means less time spent in the cold.

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