Situated in the center of a large, open meadow is a clustering of six trees, a flower bed, a few benches, and a plywood wall barricade. The area where the fountain was, and presumably the new fountain will be, is currently enclosed by high plywood walls. There is a door in one of the walls, firmly locked with a stout-looking padlock. The walls enclose much of the flagstone area, now, only leaving a little around the edges of the old courtyard. Scraggly hedges line one side of the courtyard, just behind some mostly graffiti-free benches and a chain link fence. Cars on the nearby street have an excellent view of the park as do any residents of the tall buildings which line the waterfront. The park is almost constantly devoid of people as its reputation for being one of the most violent and dangerous places in the city spreads.
The murky waters of the Columbia River flow swiftly along the east side of the park. Bracketing the park to the west is First Street and the city of St. Claire. A meadow surrounds the small glade.
Yi meanwhile sits alongside the bench next to Julie, the two of them quiet and just watching the river. Beside her lies a brown bag similar to the one before.
The metis and the cub are wandering in from the street, Kaz walking backwards as she faces Bernie, explaining something or other to her. "Yeah, life's sorta stupid that way, but what the fuck?" Being as she's backwards, she doesn't notice the other women.
Julie pulls one hand from a pocket, and stuffs some strawberry licorice into her mouth, oblivious of the bit of fuzz coating.
Yi sighs softly and glances into the bag before sticking her hand in, pulling out an eggroll still a bit steamy. As she bites into the crunchy shell, her head turns to regard Julie and in the process sees Kaz, or someone that looks like the back of her.
For once, the cub isn't snacking on anything. Both her hands are idly ensconced in her jacket pockets as she follows Kaz along, shaking her head slightly. "So, but I'm s'posta question the ways life's kinda stupid, right? I _never_ got why we were s'posta accept stupid stuff anyhow...." She breaks off as she sees, over the other woman's shoulder, the pair on the bench. Grinning, she extracts a hand to wave to them, calling, "Hey!"
Kaz cranes her head around, while walking, to see who Bernie's waving at, and then she turns the rest of herself around, grinning, to wave to the both of them. Retreating slightly so she's abreast of the cub, she nods while she walks over to the two other Gnawers. "Sure, sure, question, try'n change. It's just y'gotta know when to /stop/ questioning, at least on the outside."
Julie grunts, hearing the two's approaching voices, and kicks her feet up. This adds momentum, as the young woman rolls off the bench, coming to a crouch in front of it. A moment there she lingers, waiting for the rush of blood to cease. The grime-flecked visage, behind the spill of braids, slowly returns to normal, from beet red. "H'lo," she greets the two with, sullen expression settled firmly.
Yi rises to her feet with eggroll still in mouth, waving to the walking pair with a grin around the chinese fastfood. She takes a moment to pluck the piece out of her mouth and calls, "Hello! Taking a short walk?"
Kaz shrugs. "Short, long, whatever, it's just stuffy in there." Despite Julie's grim-ness, she gives her a grin anyway, as she moves to lean over the back of the bench. "You got any of them crab things in there?"
Bernie nods once, eyes rolling a bit as she agrees, "Def'nitely. 's a nice 'nought 'partment, don't get me wrong, but I'm gonna go nuts if I have t' stay there an' only there... an' it -is- kinda stuffy 'bout now." She perches herself on the edge of the bench, pulling her hair back behind her ears.
Kaz says "Week or so more, then I'll spring you. Prolly less. I just wanna get the groundrules set and shit."
Yi glances down and picks up the bag, pulling out various boxes and setting them down on the bench where Julie sat. "I might. The boss just told me to throw whatever I wanted. I think he likes me." Her expression goes from a small grin to a small shudder. Deciding to change the subject, she gazes at Kaz and Bernie. "Teaching her the laws, Kaz?"
Kaz shoots Yi a look. "A little too much, mebbe?"
Julie mutters, "Be glad you ain't locked inna musty basement room, an' gotta stay there for over a month. The place yer in is posh. A' least yer gettin' to go outside, an' walk 'round." A humph, then arms are crossed and she is scuffing the sidewalk with a boot toe, before she starts wandering around the plywood structure.
Bernie glances at Kaz, "Speakin' of th' rules, we were up to, what, five, right?" A thought seems to occur to her. "Hey," she asks hopefully, "don't s'pose all this stuff is written down somewhere?"
Kaz shakes her head. "Veil thing. Ain't gonna write nothin' down where someone could find it."
Kaz adds, "But you want, I could do more of it now."
Yi tosses the grumpy Julie a glance before eyeing Kaz in a 'you wouldn't believe me if I told you' manner. She straightens up from her slightly leaned over position on the bench and quirks her head at Bernie. "It'll be pounded into your head if you don't learn it. And writing it down might help, but you'd have to burn the paper after." She gestures to the boxes of food on the bench. "Please, help yourself."
Julie comes around the other side of the structure hiding the fountain. She peers at Bernie, watching how the cub is handling this 'new' experience.
Bernie shakes her head a bit at Yi, "'s not what I meant, I gotta pretty darn good memory... but, y'know, if there were a book of all this stuff, I could read it when y'all were off an' study up, y'know? 's a'ight though. I'll get it from lecture." She leans across Yi and snags an egg roll, then nods to Kaz, "...sure, if here's okay for it, why not?"
Kaz glances around. As usual with Harbor Park lately, it's fairly deserted. "Don't see why not, s'long as I don' /yell/ or anythin'." She cracks a knuckle or two, climbs onto the top of the bench, puts her feet on the seat, and says, "Right on. Fifth one, you can easily kinda bridle at it. But what it's really askin' is f'you to respect elders and don't, like, /obviously/ diss them." In that rote learned voice, she continues, "'Submission to Those of Higher Station.'"
Yi glances over at Julie and walks over, stopping at the plywood and gazing at her with a soft smile before quietly saying. "C'mon. Join us, have something to eat. I know you and I have met quite a few times before, but I never got to fully introduce myself." Her head bows in the customary manner she's used to. "Song Yi Ling, Three-Blades, new moon of the Gnawers." Her hand reaches out, offering to shake and help the girl up from her semi-hunched position near the plywood fountain.
"Oh," Bernie says in a tone of minor revelation, "THAT'S what thistle-boy was talkin' 'bout, huh? ...so basically act like they're th' teachers, I guess, if y' don't want detention?" She munches on the egg roll a moment. "Who decides if you're dissin' 'em?"
"Yeah, exactly. He's cliath, so even if he's a fuckin' annoyance, you gotta act like you respect him, some. You're a Raggie, though, so you get a little more leeway. An' as t'who decides..." The metis reaches down to snag a box; it turns out to be chicken fingers. "They decide. The Elder, I mean. One thing that most kids dunno that grew up human, if you keep eye contact for too long, people may interpret that as you challengin' 'em, so watch out."
Julie flits her gaze about, quickly, before taking the offered hand in hers, rough the skin is with constant exposure to grime and the elements. As she accepts Yi's aid to straighten, she murmurs, "Julie Hackett, Heartsight by Rite, Bone Gnawer Galliard. Cliath." A brief, tightlipped smile to top it off, then it is gone as her hand draws away, releasing Yi's.
Yi's smile warms a bit more as the offered hand is taken, and then says no more as she walks back over to the bench. Before reaching the bench she gives the plywood fountain a short once over, then returns her attention to the teachings.
Julie meanders closer, but still keeps distance between herself and the benchwarmers. Another bit of strawberry licorice appears, and she takes a moment to pick off the larger bits of pocket fuzz before coiling it into her mouth. Chewing slowly, the Gnawer continues to watch, and listen.
Bernie finishes the egg roll, and grins. "Got it. I'll be sure t' call him thistle-boy -sir-," she jokes, wiping her hand off on her jeans. "So rule five, don't sass your elders... six?"
There's a flicker of a smile, as the metis goes on. "Right. Six. Well. Fairly simple. 'The First Share of the Kill for the Greatest in Station.' Though sometimes, it's not just kills, but the stuff you get if you whack some Wyrm thing in the City or whatever. It's fairly easy to figure out, though."
"And it's unfortunate the Bone Gnawers have a rather low status," Yi adds, though not without a little bitterness. Her memories of Glass Walkers claiming the goods in Wyrm raids in Hong Kong are all too familiar.
"Ayup," Kaz nods, wearily. "So we make a virtue out of necessity and use some pretty weird shit."
"Huh..." Bernie glances from Kaz to Yi, and back. "Y'mentioned somethin' like that before... so th' tribes are, like, ranked, or somethin'? Aside from th' adult/not-adult thing?"
Kaz shakes her head. "Not in any official way. It just kinda happens that way, though."
"Peckin' order," Julie pipes up. "Those that be thinkin' they're better keepin' those that /are/ down, t' keep their own egos up."
Yi runs the not-so-greasy hand she had through her hair, nodding towards the comment Julie threw in. "I've not known many more tribes until I came here. But I remember Grandmother speaking of a time when the tribes were all united as one, with no splits. Now, some tribes fight for the Alpha of us all. The Wyrm takes their greed sometimes, using it against them, against us. We of the Gnawers, and especially the new moons, remind them that all have faults and all have strengths."
Julie draws closer. "I gotsa secret for you, girlfriends." Her gaze shifts mainly between Yi and Bernie. "When the shit really comes down, an' the world's crashin', we're gonna be the survivors. Lettem walk all over ya, cuz you know yer gonna be the last."
"'S what Rat's all about, you betcha. Fightin', but makin' sure you ain't a moron." Kaz pauses to explain, "Rat's our Tribal Totem, see."
Julie nods at Kaz. "We're the cochroaches, the rats o' Gaia's kids. An' like them, we're gonna be 'round after the world comes down 'round our ears."
Bernie's eyes flash at Julie's first comment, "Oh, they -do-, huh? I knew a buncha people like that back at school..." The tone is somewhat ominous, but the talk of rats and totems distracts her a bit from those thoughts. "Definition, tribal totem?" she inquires.
Kaz says, "Um. Well, did I explain about pack Totems? Bind packs together, mystically? You kinda start emulatin' the Totem you're under, a little, when you're its Child. It's kinda like that, only more so, with Tribal Totems. Our Totem, it's Rat. We're like Mama Rat, we fight, and we work f'stuff, but we do it with a brain, with numbers. We don' fight losin' battles, not if we can help it."
Kaz adds, "I got more t'say about Rat, if you really wanna hear it."
"Spirits who help us fight for Gaia," Yi chips in. "They give us strength, wisdom, all of that, and in turn we do things for them, respect them, give them place in this world. Rat, our totem, is who we as a tribe follow. Rat helps us in stealth and surviving, strength under adversity, and above all the will to live." Her voice is distant, quiet, as if she were repeating her teachings from the past.
Julie fades back again, and turns her darkened gaze riverward. The sullen expression returns, and she just stands there, quiet.
Bernie shakes her head, "Y' hadn't, yet... but sorta animal spirits? An' so, what you're sayin' is, basically, we're pragmatic? Assa group, anyway?" She snags another egg roll, and nibbles at one edge of it.
Yi blinks out of her daze and returns to reality, looking at Bernie. "Per-ag-matic?"
The metis says, "Yeah, animal spirits that bind the pack together, or to a lesser extent the tribe. The thing is, your Totems gotta reflect who and what you are. They gotta make some sense for the location you're in. And in a city, you got a lot of different beasties. You got pigeons. They're /stupid/, though. Don't know enough to get outta the rain. You got cats, but they don't give you the fuckin' time of day, let alone any help. You got mice, but they're breakable. You got dogs and stuff, but they got domesticated a long time ago. You got cockroach, but they're already claimed, and they're ugly ass, to boot." She pauses. "Rat, though. Rat's smart. Rat'll fight, when she has to, but when she's outnumbered or she's too weak, she'll retreat, 'cause she's smart, and she knows that there's /always/ another day, someday. And rats, well, strength in numbers, just like us, y'know? And She'll survive anything, but She'll also give anything she has to her kids, if they need anything. An' the thing is, Rat" -- Kaz has long ago strayed into capital letter territory -- "Rat knows /everything/. There's so many've Her children, just like there's so many of us, She'll learn everything, if you give her enough time." She grins a little. "Yeah, pragmatic'll work. It'll work real well, as a definition."
Bernie nods a bit throughout the explanation, devouring the egg roll. At the end of the little speech, she grins. "A'ight, I get that, I guess... better t' live t' fight another day... an' learning, I approve of," she adds a touch dryly, glancing down at her backpack. "But six, I dunno I like that one... sounds like let th' bullies pick first, t' me."
Kaz says, "Well. Kinda. But it's more like, the folks as're higher station, they're /better/ at fightin' and shit, so theoretically, they do more of the work, direct more of th' battle, protect more've the pack, that kinda stuff. So in a perfect world, they /earn/ that kinda shit."
Julie says "I don't wanna try t' count out how many times Unka Pete, Davey, an' others 'claimed' their shares there inna middle o' everyone, an' turned 'round and split it up with us in private. Don't a'ways mean greedy, but lookin' out for yer comrades."
Yi nods at both of the comments. "Often there are bullies, but there are enough of good hearts and sharp minds to make sure all are provided for. The strongest pack is only as strong as its weakest.
Bernie mms, and nods, though she doesn't look absolutely one hundred percent convinced on this one. For now, at least, though, that'll do. "A'ight... so then... seven?"
"Mmmhph," Kaz says, around a chicken finger. "Actually, I gotta get back t'Signe's, 'cause I gotta get my flute. C'mon with, I can tell you on the way, or somethin'?"
Yi smiles and wipes her hands on her jeans while she's at it. "And I've to get back to the restaurant." She glances at Julie. "You?"
Julie mutters something about 'patrolling', though it is rather vague, and starts wandering away.
Julie shakes her head at Yi. "Nah, not hungry no more," she mumbles as she moves away.
Bernie pushes a hand on the back of the bench, and stands, reclaiming her backpack and slinging it over her shoulder. "Sure, that works... thanks for th' eggrolls, Yi, see ya later?" She waves vaguely at Julie, since the girl isn't even looking anyhow,
Kaz goes wandering off, slowly, towards Regan Street.
Yi nods and gathers a few of the empty boxes, going to toss them in some waste bin later. "I'll be around," she says.
Bernie follows Kaz away, and soon disappears from view..