#Traveler'sGorge – January 30, 2020

December 16th. Afternoon. The winter sun is out for once, illuminating the snowy ground, and the rising mountainside. Cold winds fly across the plains, whipping up wisps of light snow, but the gorge itself remains in shelter. The clear conditions means that the approaching truck can be seen from a good distance. It's a sturdy all-terrain model in the same vein as those used by the Gorge's people. Large wheels, a heavy frame and a covered

bed. It keeps a steady pace as it rolls closer from the west, although as it approaches the gate it starts to slow. There looks to be three people inside the cabin, all human.

Amy seems to have taken well to her new duties setting up the greenhouse, glad for the chance to prove her usefulness. As before, she hasn't spoken much, and she's spent most of her free time in her prefab, aside from meals, during which she has preferred to listen to the others talk. She's currently in the greenhouse, assisting with the planting now that the needed systems are up and running. She's dressed much the same as yesterday,

winterwear peeled off given the warm greenhouse air. Her black eye is looking a better after another night's rest, although it's still quite visible.

The past few days have seen a marginal improvement on the damaged length of wall. The team working on it, lead by Mayra, are outside of the wall putting the last finishing touches in. Cleaning up weld lines. Smoothing off jagged edges. A few curious glances are afforded to the approaching strangers but more important matters demand their attention for the moment.

Rafe is sat at the table in the shack outside of the front gate, beat up old work boots propped up on the table as he leans back in his seat and pokes through his omni-tool. Attention fixed to whatever is on the screen, the encroaching truck doesn't catch his attention until the engine is heard. He studies the approach for a moment before radioing it in- standard procedure so they can prepare to open the gate- and tugging his thick,

padded, dark blue winter jacket on. He doesn't bother with his hat. He'll likely only be out in the cold for a moment. He remains in the doorway as he waits for the truck.

Kirill once again showed up at Amy's prefab in the morning with a cup of coffee and bagged breakfast. It's a pretty transparent attempt at helping her to slowly get acclimated to the day-to-day without being overwhelmed. But that's okay, because he's certainly not trying to hide it. The previous night was a late one. The equipment gave them a bit more trouble than expected, leading to a workday that didn't end until well after the sun

went down. The angle of the channels needs to be just right and it wasn't doing them any favors. With a bit of time and effort, however, they managed to get all of the equipment operational. They were unable to live up to Kirill's promise of beginning the planting phase, though, much to Paige's dismay. But that's what today is all about. Seeding thin layers of a fibrous substrate and laying it into the channels.

The truck comes to a stop in front of the gate and a little while later the driver's side door opens. The man that hops out looks to be in his 50s, with light skin and a thick but short brown beard. He's clad in full winterwear - snow boots, snow pants, a thick dark green winter jacket and a knit beanie and scarf. A civilian model heavy pistol is holstered on his hip - not exactly an unusual choice among colonists. He raises a gloved

hand in greeting as he steps towards Rafe. "Hey there!" he exclaims, and once close enough he extends his hand to shake, introducing himself. "Earl Jackson." It's possible the name, or the face, might be recognized as belonging to the patriarch of the Jackson homestead that lies in the fields to the west, about 8 hours or so from Traveler's Gorge in good weather. He's passed through the Gorge a few times since the Children of Aite took

it, and has been generally supportive of their work, trading surplus food at generous rates. Him and his family are generally well-regarded in the area, operating both crop fields and livestock brought in from Earth, although they tend to keep to themselves most of the time.

Amy has seemed appreciative of Kirill's gentle assistance with getting settled in. She's clearly no stranger to long workdays, and there's been no complaints about the long day. Dealing with the hydroponics has been a learning experience, and she's required some help, but after getting a hang of it its been smooth sailing, and she keeps working in comfortable silence.

Rafe, being fairly tight knit with Kirill and one of the handful of voices around the Gorge that carries a bit of weight to it, makes a habit of being 'in the know' as much as possible. Especially when it comes to matters regarding their food supplies. So, despite never having met the man that exits the truck, the name causes a friendly smile of familiarity to crop up. He steps out of the doorway, snow crunching underfoot as he

extends an arm to accept the older man's greeting, giving his hand a firm shake. "Mr. Jackson." he nods. "What's got you out this way?" he asks, shooting a brief glance beyond the old man to examine the truck and the other inhabitants, "You here to visit or just passin' through?"

The greenhouse is a bit more active today than it was yesterday. True to their word, it seems that Amy arrived just as they were preparing to dig in and put their noses to the grindstone. While the previous day only saw a couple of others showing up to help Paige work the soil in the adjacent room, today there's at least six people helping out.

The windshield and the snowglare makes it a little hard to make out the two others in the truck, but it looks like two more adult men, albeit younger than Earl.

Earl shakes Rafe's hand with a sturdy grip, returning the nod and casting a glance along the wall. He's a burly man, giving a strong impression despite his age and average height. His expression is amiable, but weighed down by something. "Actually, I was hoping to have a word with Mr. Kozlov, if he's here..."

Rafe turns his attention back to Earl. Kirill's a popular guy around these parts so it's not exactly a surprise that Earl is looking for him. But the look on the man's face gives cause for concern, a fact reflected in Rafe's features. "...Everything alright, Mr. Jackson?" he asks, genuine concern in his tone.

Earl seems a little surprised by the question, something between a sigh and a hum sounding as he offers a faint smile. "Sure hope so..." he says quietly. A sharp wind rolls through, causing his expression to stiffen a little as the edges of his scarf flutter, one hand rising to press it down. "Mind if we go ahead and roll in?"

Rafe's concern only seems to deepen and he studies the old farmer for a moment before offering a few small nods. "Yeah, just let me-..." he begins, taking a step back to retrieve his omni-tool from one of his jacket's inner-pockets. There's a brief flash of a Predator pistol holstered beneath his jacket before he's pulled the device free. Thumbing the button on the side, he tilts his head off in the direction of the gate. Rafe is one

of the lucky few to have an omni-tool, a rare sight in the Gorge outside of those whose duties require one. Anyone on guard duty is given one of the few communal omni-tools, but otherwise it's a 2-way radio given to those needing a way to communicate. It gets the job done. Given the often-poor weather conditions and the high walls of the canyon, extranet communication outside of the utility building is unreliable at best


Kirill is in the process of laying a new row of substrate until the gentle hum of the room's equipment is interrupted by Rafe's voice coming through his omni-tool which is sitting atop their breakfast table.

"Hey, you around, Kirill? I got Earl Jackson out here. He-... uhh-... he needs to talk to ya. Sounds like it might be urgent..." the disembodied voice says.

Kirill passes a glance towards the omni-tool, pulling his attention away from his work. Rafe's voice has that tone about it, causing him to draw in a breath. He glances Amy's way as if to make sure she's got things under control.

Amy is startled out of her work by the crackle of the omni-tool comms. The words that come from it cause her to freeze up, staring at the suspended plastic in front of her. It takes her a moment to notice Kirill's gaze on her, but when she does she's quick to nod and flash an awkward smile. She resumes working, a little stiffly, trying to keep her freakout internal.

Earl nods as Rafe goes to radio Kirill, taking a few steps back towards the truck himself and hooking his thumbs into his pockets as he waits.

Kirill allows a small smile to form beneath his disheveled beard, seemingly associating Amy's reaction with the sudden, startling break of silence. He wipes his dirty hands against the thighs of his thick cargo pants as he starts towards the voice. A little too slow for Rafe's liking, it seems.

"You there, Kirill?" the voice follows up, Kirill just shy of getting to his omni-tool in time.

Kirill props one boot atop the edge of the crate that has served as a makeshift seat for the past two days, one arm resting against his knee as he reaches for the device and thumbs the button along the side. "Yeah. I'm here." he confirms. "You can send him on in. I'm at the greenhouse. Let him know I'll meet him out front."

Rafe gives a small nod to Kirill's voice. "You got it." he says, casting a glance back Earl's way who has surely heard the conversation. "He'll meet ya outside of the greenhouse." he repeats.

Earl offers another nod, climbing back into the cabin of the truck as he gets ready to take it inside once the gate has opened.

Amy doesn't dare tear her gaze away from her work as she listens, face going a little pale as her mind races.

Kirill looks Amy's way as he goes to collect his jacket. "You got this under control while I step out?" he asks, slipping the thick winter gear on. "Can't imagine I'll be gone for long." he continues before adding much more quietly, as if to himself, "...Sure hope everything is alright with ol' Earl."

Rafe begins to back up towards the shack, raising one hand and slicing it towards the gate. "Just up ahead on your left. Can't miss it!" he calls out to Earl, unsure if he's been through since they began construction of the greenhouse. Once he disappears inside of the small shack, the gate begins to slide open.

Amy manages to force out a slightly strained "Yeah!" and a nod without turning to face Kirill.

Once the gate is open the truck slowly rolls through, and then continues up towards the greenhouse before coming to a stop outside. Earl exits on the driver's side, while the two other men exit on the passenger side. The older of the two looks to be in his early thirties, with a fit build, steady gaze and a weathered face covered in brown stubble. The other looks somewhere in his mid-twenties, tall and lanky with a thin, wispy attempt

at a mustache and a worried look in his eyes - Brett, one of his sons. He's accompanied Earl before through the Gorge. Both are dressed in full winter wear similar to Earl's, and there's a definite family resemblance between the three of them.

Kirill emerges from the front door of the greenhouse, having picked up a tagalong during his trip. Paige is in the midst of tugging her jacket on and zipping it up as she follows behind him, having heard the message over the radio.

Paige plucks at the edges of her tuque as she voices her concerns to Kirill. Given their trading relationship with the Jackson homestead and her (mostly self-appointed) role in handling the logistics of their food situation, she's taken it upon herself to accompany Kirill. As they step out into the cold winter air and spot Earl and his exiting the vehicle, she quiets down.

Kirill glances off to the side to make sure no vehicles are heading towards the gate before crossing the road to meet the trio, Paige in tow. A friendly smile crosses his features despite whatever concerns he may have over what this is about. "Earl. Brett." he greets, looking to each in turn. Despite being unable to connect the third face to a name, he offers him a friendly nod all the same as he extends a hand Earl's way. "Wasn't

expecting to see you until after winter cleared up."

Earl shakes Kirill's hand firmly as the other two nod next to him. "Kirill. Miss Paige." he greets in turn before placing a hand on the shoulder of the unfamiliar man. "This is Grant, my oldest." he explains, aware that he hasn't been through this way since the takeover of the Gorge. The following words from Kirill causes that weight to return to his expression. "Neither did I, truth be told." he sighs. "I'm afraid it's a

personal matter bringing me here today..."

Amy work slows considerably after Kirill's departure, and she drifts towards the wall where she can see the truck and the people outside, stopping by the materials she were going to pick up and just watching instead, unease written all across her face.

Paige forces a smile that's held back by her own concerns for this visit when her name is said. "Hey Earl." she offers softly.

Kirill takes the time to give Brett's hand a firm shake once he has released Earl's before finally moving on to the unfamiliar guest. "Grant." he repeats with a small nod and a friendly smile as he shakes his hand. The words that follow quickly wipe that smile from his face, however, and he lets out a deep breath as he steps back, his breath materializing in the crisp winter air. He shoots a glance Paige's way, feeling the silent 'I

told ya so' she's just glared into him. "That so?" he asks, "Somethin' we might be able to help with?" It's a sincere offer. That's how this works. The Gorge doesn't exist without the support of people like Earl.

Earl lets out a heavy sigh after Brett and Grant have shook Kirill's hand. His gaze wanders the small settlement for a moment before returning to the man in front of him, a frown etched into his face. "Maybe. That's what I'm hoping." he says before taking a moment to draw in a long breath. "My youngest boy, Aaron, is missing. We've been out searching for the last few days, asking around. I was hoping you might have heard or

seen something." He glances towards Brett, who digs a hand into a pocket and pulls out a photograph, extending it towards Kirill. The person in the picture looks a whole lot like Amy, albeit sporting a baseball cap and a faceful of thin stubble, rolled-up shirt-sleeves resting against a shovel as the summer sun shines.

Amy slips away from the others in the greenhouse with a half-hearted excuse about going to the bathroom, making her way over towards the room with the exit in search of... a better view? A chance to listen in? She's not exactly sure.

Kirill furrows his brow as he listens. When Earl mentions his missing son, a sadness creeps into Kirill's expression. "Real sorry to hear that, Earl..." he offers softly as he reaches out to take the photograph. There's a rigidity that enters his posture as he studies the photo. They say everyone has a doppleganger but that would certainly be one hell of a coincidence. Not a week after she shows up here in some kind of hurry, giving

little more insight into where she hails from than 'homestead out west', here comes ol' Earl. Farmer from a homestead out west. Looking for someone that's the spitting image of Amy. Kirill would never claim to be the smartest of men. But it doesn't take a genius to put two and two together. Reaching up, he gently grips at his beard, stroking the unkempt hairs that flow from his chin as he buys for time, looking as though he's

trying to recall.

Paige shifts her weight from boot to boot as Kirill looks over the photograph. "Oh my god, Earl. That's awful..." she offers. Patience was never her strong suit and she hazards a look over at the photo herself rather than waiting for Kirill to pass it her way. His attention elsewhere, the much-larger man doesn't seem to notice, forcing her to have to stand on her tippy-toes to get a peek. It doesn't take long for her to drop back down

onto the heels of her boots, sharp look angled up at the man at her side as she goes to speak.

Kirill seems pulled from his thoughts by Paige and as his eyes meet hers he's prompted to speak up before she can. "...Uhh, no." he says softly. It's a split-second decision, the bruising nested around Amy's eye fresh in his mind. "No." he repeats with a shake of his head, his voice a little firmer as he meets the old farmer's gaze. "Sorry, Earl. Can't say that I have." He casts an even glance Paige's way, as if expecting her to chime

in. He even tilts the photograph her way.

Paige gains an uneasy look as she meets Kirill's gaze. It certainly doesn't sit well with her that he's with-holding potential information from one of the few reliable sources of food they have. But there's an unspoken trust there. A bond that's been forged by years of hardship. "...No." she confirms, maintaining eye contact with Kirill for a moment longer before adding in a small shake of her head. "But-.. umm-..." she continues,

closing her eyes for a second to collect her thoughts. "...We have people coming through here all the time. Right?" she asks with a look to Kirill who offers a simple nod. "It's-... possible we might have just missed him."

Kirill offers a few more nods. "Right. Right." he agrees with Paige before his eyes tilt back towards the photograph. "Anything-... uhh-..." he trails off to recollect himself, "...you thinking that Aaron got mixed up in some trouble...?"

Earl 's shoulders drop with the 'No.', his concerned frown deepening as he nods. "Suppose it was too much to hope he'd be here..." He remains silent as he listens to the rest, waiting for Kirill and Paige to finish speaking. "I don't know..." he says with a shake of his head. "You know how teenagers are. We had a disagreement one night, next morning he's just gone. Along with one of our ATVs. With how the weather's been, and

how inexperienced he is going out on his own... I'm real worried." he admits, emotion slipping into his voice.

Brett 's worry is obvious in his face, and he gestures vaguely towards the photo. "Y-... you can keep that." he says. "Maybe... he'll come through." he says, trying to sound hopeful.

Grant 's arms are crossed, his gaze wandering the settlement as his father speaks, his expression a faint frown.

Amy hastily ducks behind a table as Grant's gaze falls on the greenhouse. She seems to have gone unnoticed.

Kirill gives Brett a small nod as he beats him to the punch, lifting the photo a hair in recognition. The mention of the ATV is just an unnecessary addition to help cement his suspicions. He swallows at the guilt in his chest and it doesn't come easy that he dashes this man's hopes. But it helps to make the sympathy in his eyes all the more real as he reaches out to place a comforting hand on the old farmer's shoulder. "Like you said,

Earl. You know how teenagers are. Just think about how we were when we were that age. All piss and vinegar, pardon my language." he continues, offering a small smile to try and bring Earl a little hope. "Besides, we're a hardy sort out here. I'm sure your boy is fine." he assures, giving the man's shoulder a pat. "He'll turn up sooner or later, pleased with himself for making you just about worry yourself sick."

Paige remains in place, hands buried deep into her pockets. She offers a hollow snicker at Kirill's empty assurances and there's a pause before she feels the need to chime in, lest discomfort take hold. "If we do hear anything, you'll be the first to know about it." Once you've already stuck that shovel into the ground the only thing to do is keep digging.

Earl remains silent for a moment, gaze falling a bit as he looks past Kirill, before drawing a breath and pulling himself together with a nod. "You're right. You're right..." he mutters quietly, although the concerned frown remains. He coinsiders for a moment before letting out a sigh. "We'd stay for a bit, but... we should keep looking while we still have daylight. There's a lot more ground to cover." he says, taking a step

back, and pointing a thumb back at the truck.

Grant remains silent, gaze landing on Kirill and Paige for a moment before scanning across the compound again, and then turning to head back towards the truck.

Brett nods in response to Paige's addition, trying and failing to flash a small smile.

Kirill brings his hand back, offering a somber nod to the trio. "Of course, Earl." he says, keeping his guilty relief that they're not sticking around in check. That certainly could have complicated things. "But you and your boys know you've always got a warm place to lay your head here if you need it." he adds, taking a moment to slip the picture into the pocket of his thick jacket as he steps back.

Paige nods along with Kirill. "Always." she adds, just to have something to say.


Earl offers an appreciative nod. "Thank you, Kirill. Hopefully I'll have good news to share next time I pass by." With that he looks to him, and then Paige, offering another nod, before turning to head back to the truck.

Grant follows after him, frown lingering, but they don't get very far before Grant's gaze lands on the collection of vehicles parked near the gate. More specifically, it lands on the ATV Amy arrived on, and his frown deepens, nudging his father in the side and saying something too low to be heard before jogging off to take a closer look.

Brett has already taken a seat in the truck, but Earl remains outside, watching Grant go and inspect the vehicle.

Kirill returns the nod with one of his own. "I'm sure you will." he assures, propping that heavy smile back up as he begins to step aside, intent on remaining by the roadside to see them off. As soon as Grant starts off towards the ATVs every muscle in his body tenses up and he draws in a breath, but remains as he is. "Everything alright, Earl?" he calls out, biting back on that lingering sense of dread slithering in.

Paige is a lot less talented at keeping an even head and a visible wince slips into her features, gaze darting up to Kirill as if looking to him for instructions. But when nothing comes she resigns herself to silently watching Grant to see what he does. She folds her arms across herself, tucking her hands coming into the crook of her armpits and, for a moment, forgets to breathe.

Grant spends a short moment over by the ATV, making sure he wasn't mistaken, before jogging back towards Earl. "That's our four-wheeler. The one that's missing." he calls out once he's back within easy earshot.

Earl offers no immediate response to Kirill, but when Grant returns he looks visible baffled. "You're sure...?" he asks as his son slows to a walk.

Grant nods. "Yes, I'm sure! That's the one." he says, gesturing a little frustratedly.

Earl 's confusion turns to a mixture of worry and caution as he turns towards Kirill and Paige. "Who did that ATV come in with?" he asks, pointing back towards it, voice sharper now, more urgent.

Paige frantically looks from Grant, to Earl, to Kirill, to Early. When Kirill doesn't immediately speak up, she clears her throat. "I don't-... umm-... I could ask around?" she offers, though she looks unsure of who the offer is for, Earl or Kirill, her gaze eventually settling on the latter.

Kirill bows his head as Earl addresses him. Paige's offer is only met with a slow shake of his head. He's already done more lying than he's comfortable with. Unless he's willing to straight up spin a yarn, the jig is up. "Came in with a young lady." Kirill admits plainly as he lifts his head to meet Earl's gaze. "Few night's back."

Earl 's eyebrows furrow into a frown as he studies Kirill, stepping back towards him and Paige a bit. Grant follows. There's a couple of seconds of silence as he scans the faces of both him and Paige. "I'd like to speak with this-..." he trails off as his gaze focuses past Kirill, eyebrows shooting up.

Amy has exited the greenhouse behind Kirill and Paige, and she's standing between it and the small group gathered in front of the truck, fleece zipped up but winterwear left behind in the building. She shrinks a little as Earl's gaze lands on her, but forces herself to keep it together as she takes a couple of steps closer. "I'm not coming home." she says, voice a little shaky even though she wills it not to be.

Earl seems completely stunned for a moment, staring at Amy, and then his attention snaps back to Kirill, looking like he's going to say something, before looking back to her. "Aaron, what the hell are you doing?! We've been looking everywhere for you. Your mother's worried sick, come here!" he exclaims, relief and anger mixing in his voice as he makes a beckoning gesture.

Amy flinches, hugging herself a little as her gaze drops to the ground. "Amy..." she corrects, although her voice is a quiet mumble.

Paige casts a glance back at Amy, looking unsure of whether or not she should be saying something. "Earl, we weren't trying to-..." she begins, but Kirill cuts her off before she has a chance to finish.

Kirill draws in a deep breath through his nose as he hears Amy's voice at his back. Well, the cat is completely out of the bag now. "He the one that gave you that eye, Amy?" he asks calmly without looking her way, gaze fixed to Earl.

By this point a few people have stopped to see what's going on, especially once Earl raises his voice.

Earl 's expression shifts with Kirill's words, turning stiff as his attention turns back to him.

Brett has exited the truck, lingering near the door with a worried look on his face.

Grant shoots some of the bystanders a challenging look, crossing his arms before looking back towards Amy.

Amy hesitates, gaze darting between Earl and Kirill, but then she draws in a quick breath, a series of short nods following, face full of fear at the action. Of course, she immediately realizes that Kirill can't actually see her, and just barely manages to force out a quiet "Yes."

Earl 's expression hardens. "I have the right to discipline my children as I see fit." he asserts before shifting his attention to Amy, taking a step closer and reaching out to grab her arm and tug her over, prompting a wince of pain from her in response to the strong grip. "You're coming home now, Aaron. We'll sort this all out."

Brett looks immensely uncomfortable where he stands by the truck, arms awkwardly crossed.

Kirill's gaze drifts to the ground for a moment as he hears Amy's response, offering little more than a few nods at first.

Paige's discomfort shifts to a deep scowl in an instant when Earl steps up to them and puts his hands on Amy. "Hey!" she snaps, "Don't touch her, asshole!" she calls out and, for the briefest of moments, it looks as if she's about to put hands on him. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a chance.

Kirill's large mitt comes to rest overtop Earl's forearm as he meets the man's gaze once more. His grip is tight, but not forceful. He's not pulling Earl's hand free. Just strongly suggesting he lets go. "Take your hands off her, Earl." he says calmly, careful to keep the anger from slipping into his tone. A desperate attempt at keeping things amicable. Nobody benefits from a fight breaking out.

Paige isn't quite as careful. "Hands. Off." she says pointedly.

One of the onlookers- a dark grey turian , face decorated with thick, white, angular markings that outline his brow and run along the edges of his temples and down to his mandibles- takes a step towards the group. Amy might recognize him as the turian Kirill stopped to chat up while he was showing her to the unused prefab. "Everything alright here...?" the turian asks cautiously, an air of authority to his voice.

Earl stops pulling Amy over as Kirill's hand lands on his arm, but his grip remains tight around her upper arm. He meets Kirill's gaze with a sharp stare, a couple of tense, silent moments passing. At the turian's voice his gaze wanders briefly to the onlookers, and then to Amy, and back to Kirill. He draws a long breath and lets go, taking a step back, drawing himself up tall. "You're going to keep me from taking my son

home?" he asks, voice tense.

Grant , who's hands had balled into fists when Kirill laid hands on his father, relaxes a little, but remains ready to act.

Brett is still by the truck, eyeing the bystanders now, his unease still blatantly obvious.

Amy is quick to step back behind Kirill, one hand rubbing her arm carefully. She looks terrified, and more than a little conflicted, gaze darting between the faces of those present.

Paige remains right by Kirill's side, her hands balled into fists as well. "She doesn't want to go with you, asshole!" she snaps.

Kirill holds Earl's gaze, seemingly having no plans of backing down. It's not until Earl lets go of Amy's arm that he removes his hand from Earl's, eyes still firmly fixed to the old farmer. He puts an arm out to his side, as if worried he might have to hold Paige back. Once she relents he addresses Earl once more. "Amy is gonna stay with us for a while, Earl." he says simply, the slightest bit of exasperation beginning to slip into

his tone, though he's quick to stomp it out. "She'll have a roof over her head, warm meals, and when she's ready to go home-... if she's ready to go home." he corrects, "We'll make sure she gets there safely." he explains, as if assuring Earl that she'll be taken care of might help to take a little edge off of the situation, though his eyes never leave the man. "You have my word on that."

The turian takes another step forward, the lack of a response causing him to speak up once more. "...Kirill?"

Kirill finally responds to the turian, though his gaze remains fixed to Earl as he does. "Nothing to worry about here, Rex. Earl and his boys were just about to load up their ATV and head out. Isn't that right, Earl?"

Earl lets out a heavy sigh, looking far from pleased, but another look at Rex and the crowd that's started gathering cements his decision, and he nods. "That's right. Come on, boys."

Grant scowls at Kirill's words. "Don't indulge his delusions." he snaps before looking towards Amy. "Grace has been asking about you, you know. What am I supposed to tell her, huh? Her favorite uncle abandoned his family to-"

Earl puts a hand on Grant's shoulder. "Let's go, son." he says, voice quieter, tone warning. He nods back towards the ATV, shooting Amy another look, expression a mixture of intense disapproval and frustration, and then turns to go load it up.

Amy flinches a little when Grant addresses her, the mention of Grace causing to look down at the ground, visibly upset, but she bites down on her lip to keep it together.

Grant lingers for a moment, scowling at the three people in front of him, but then he relents, following after his father without nothing but a frustrated sigh.

Brett remains by the truck, uncomfortably curled in on himself as the other two go to load up the ATV, trying but failing to catch Amy's gaze.

Kirill gives no response to Grant's initial remark, and lets him say his piece uninterrupted. They're nearly out of the woods without turning things into a rumble in the middle of the road, no reason to further rock the boat. "How about you give them a hand getting that thing loaded up, Rex." he says, leaving a 'And make sure they don't caure any more trouble' unspoken. He has a casual way about him of making an order sound like a

suggestion. It's not difficult to see why people seem to fall in line behind him so easily.

Rex gives a stern nod. "Of course." he says. When he turns to join the Jacksons he realizes that a few more people have joined the onlookers and he puts his arm out to the side, gesturing for them to get back to whatever they were doing. "Come on. Keep it moving, people." he instructs. The onlookers are quick to disperse, hushed whispers being exchanged as they set off down the road, nobody willing to challenge the turian's authority.

Paige remains right where she is, pointed scowl aimed Earl's way as he steps away. It seems incredibly likely that, if it weren't for Kirill's presence, she'd have given the old farmer a much larger piece of her mind. It's only once Earl and Grant have made themselves scarce that her expression softens and she turns towards Amy. "...Are you alright?" she asks softly.

Amy just stares at the ground, jaw tense from gritting her teeth to keep her face in check. Only when Earl and Grant have headed off to load up the ATV and the crowd has dispersed does she look up, catching Brett looking at her. He shoots her an apologetic look before climbing into the truck. Paige's question causes her to look over her way, flashing a faint, shaky smile, eyes glistening with unshed tears. "I-" her voice catches in

her throat. "...uhm... been better." she settles on with an aimless little shrug, voice quiet and sounding a bit off. She's quick to look away, blinking a couple of times to make sure those tears stay away.

Earl goes to the back of the truck, pulling back the tarp and lowering the hatch to the cargo bed while Grant starts up the ATV drives it over to the truck, a distracted frown lingering on his face the entire time.

Kirill hasn't gotten to where he is without being able to get a good read on people, and Brett's silence and discomfort hasn't gone unnoticed. So once Earl and Grant get to work on loading up the ATV, he follows the man over to the passenger's side door and gets a hand on the door before Brett gets a chance to pull it shut. His gaze briefly turns to the young man's older brother and sibling and he lets out a deep sigh, breath turning

to mist in the cold as he turns his focus back to Brett. "In my experience, there's few things more capable of ending friendships and tearin' apart families than a stubborn man too proud to admit when he's wrong." he says, keeping his voice low. He forces a small, somber smile. "I suggest you talk to them when you get home." He doesn't bother waiting for a response. Brett isn't his concern. Amy is. So he simply offers the young

man a departing dip of his head before stepping over towards Amy and giving a nod towards the greenhouse. "Come on. Let's get back inside, you're likely to catch cold out here."

Rex is just sort of hovering around Earl for the moment, waiting to see if his assistance is needed.

Paige sucks in her lips as she listens to Amy in silence, her own gaze turning downward. Of course she's not alright. "...Yeah..." she says softly, drawing in a deep, frustrated breath that manifests with another pointed glance Earl's way. "...Shit." she mutters. Kirill's addition causes her to briefly glance his way before placing a hand on Amy's shoulder and gently urging her back towards the building.

Brett seems caught off-guard by Kirill's interruption, but he hears him out, albeit with an uneasy glance back to see if Earl and Grant are within eartshot. He doesn't say anything as Kirill turns to walk off, just shooting Amy another glance and getting into the truck, brow furrowed.

Earl and Grant don't seem all that interested in accepting any assistance, and they make short work of loading the ATV into the bed of the truck and starting to strap it down.

Amy seems half-tempted to just run off to her prefab, but when Kirill addresses her and Paige nudges her back towards the greenhouse she nods faintly, shooting her father and brothers one last look before trudging back towards the door, gaze turning distant over the course of the short walk.

Paige remains behind Amy as they escort her back across the street to the greenhouse. Once inside, she takes a position beside the door, arms folded across her chest while she watches as the Jacksons load the ATV onto the truck, chin tucked against her chest.

Kirill remains at Amy's side, just studying her in silence for a moment. "...Listen. I don't-... uhh-... expect you to finish out the day." he says softly, seemingly worried that she might think she's about to be put right back to work after all that. "Just figured you should probably lay low in here until they-..." he sighs, passing a glance towards the truck, "...go on their way."

Amy offers a couple of faint nods, although it's hard to tell if she even heard Kirill with how absent her expression is. Once inside the greenhouse she sits against the edge of one of the growtables, looking down at her hands, which are interlaced in her lap. She doesn't say anything.

Kirill takes a position beside Amy, arms folded across his chest as he watches in silence as her father and brother work.

Paige remains right at the window, the adrenaline slowly exiting her system. "Crap, crap, crap!" she exclaims after a few moments, a deep, heavy sigh escaping her. "We are definitely losing Earl's support." she says, that fact just beginning to really settle in. "If you-..." she cuts herself off with a sharp scoff, yanking her tuque off as she swivels to face Kirill. "If you were just going to spill the beans, why did you bother to lie to

him in the first place?!" she asks in frustration. "Commit to the lie!"

Kirill studies the woman from a few paces away, remaining leaned against the edge of the growtable. In the next room over a handful of folks continue to work the soil, not the slightest clue as to what just transpired. "I didn't lie to him. He said he was lookin' for someone named Aaron. I haven't met anyone by that name." he explains calmly. He gives a non-chalant shrug that only seems to further set Paige off.

Paige gives him a glare so pointed that, if looks could kill, Kirill would be six feet under. It's the kind of look that asks, 'Are you being serious right now?!' without a word needing uttered.

Amy flinches at Paige's outburst, gaze darting her way briefly as the implication settles into her already overwhelmed mind. The food supply. The vents outside and the tension in the room causes her to suck in her lips, closing her eyes as she draws in a breath through her nose. Don't cry. Don't cry. "I'm sorry." she blurts out in a quiet exhale. She wants to say more but she's not sure her voice can handle it right now, not to

mention the tears threatening to escape.

Outside the ATV has been loaded up and secured, and the Jacksons are getting back in the truck.

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