This Place Called Providence


carver_icon.gif bf_kara_icon.gif

Scene Title This Place Called Providence
Synopsis Kara stops by to see if Carver means to stay.
Date August 26, 2019


The sounds of summer cascade through the air in the late afternoon, the song of cicadas pulsing like the waves of heat that blanket the land. Carver is at least out of direct light, sitting on the porch of the Amish family that had opened their home to him while he …

Well, while he figured out what the hell he was going to do next.

Something similar had happened with all the survivors of Whitesbog come to this place, their number split up to be hosted by homesteads all across the community called 'Providence'. It seemed quaint, quiet. Where Whitesbog had been filled out by migrant survivors and settlers only, this place had a population that predated the war, and included the people who had taken him in. The Meyer family was quiet, pleasant, nuclear— everything his captors had not been.

To say it's been a change of pace would be an understatement.

Instead of working in this weather, he finds himself free to simply be in it— To hear the hums and whispers all around. To watch the tall grasses in the field sway in the breeze that provides some comfort from the heat.

To see a figure on a champagne horse emerge over the horizon, coming down the road for the house.

Carver sits in a chair and rocks. It's a nice day — summer making its last hurrahs, it seems — and a nice chair, on a nice porch, of a nice house, owned by a nice family. And, if he's being honest, he'd needed the rest. Even when he'd been doing the Job, stomping around sandpits and mires in Crapistan, or assisting in trauma centers to keep his skills honed — a different circle of hell, that, but no less infernal — he'd had some time off now and again.

The problem then, as now, is that after a few days of idle time Carver is prone to getting restless. The Meyers are… nice. Good people. Carver, as a result of a life divided between doing unpleasant work and honing his skills to do that work better, is… not. Not nice, definitely; not even good, most likely. Not after some of the things he's had to do.

"And this is what happens when you sit on a porch all day," Carver murmurs to himself with a sigh of annoyance, shaking his head. Christ. Maybe he'll go see if the Meyers need any firewood chopped; hitting something with an axe never fails to put him in high spirits.

On second thought, maybe he'll wait a bit on that, because it looks like the Meyers are about to have some visitors. A visitor, at least. He raises a hand to shade his eyes, squinting as he watches the rider approach.

The rider comes into view more quickly than anticipated because once they see someone's out on the porch, they decide to hurry the horse closer. Better than awkwardly staring at each other for even longer, waiting until an appropriate distance is closed before calling out a greeting. Kara Prince is familiar, inasmuch as any of the Providence team who went to Whitesbog is familiar. She looks as though she's been hard at work today. Mud-covered boots, jeans tucked in the tops; a unbuttoned plaid overshirt billowing in the breeze about her while a dark tank keeps her modest.

When she gets close enough, a smudge of earth is visible near her brow, standing out against eyes the color of the sky. "Easy, Semej," Kara directs the horse as she pulls back against the reins. When he slows up by the house, Kara lifts one hand to drag the back of her knuckle across her brow right over the spot, both smearing it thinner and broader. It's probably how she got it in the first place.

"Howdy," she says, the word not at all fitting her. It's a thing people said, some people anyway, and it's her way of attempting to be personable. Kara lets out a long sigh as she looks to Carver, not dismounting just yet. She sets her rein hand on the horn of the saddle while the impatient horse beneath her stomps a hoof. "It's Carver, right?" she asks.

Kara knows, but this, too, is a part of being polite.

"Wanted to check in," she explains. "See how you were doing."

"It is," Carver rasps in answer, considering whether to get up out of the rocker; he opts to follow her lead and remain seated, at least for now. He lowers the hand shading his eyes, but squints at her for a moment longer. She looks different than she had the last time he'd seen her. Maybe it's the afternoon sun, or maybe it's the work clothes. Or maybe it's the horse.

"Alive. Fully recuperated, or close enough to it," is his assessment as to how he's doing. He studies her for a moment longer. "I don't think we've ever been formally introduced, though. Harrison Carver, formerly Whitesbog's local sawbones."

The amber champagne bay continues to huff about being in one place, causing Kara to relent by swinging a leg over his back so she can slide to the ground. With a pat, the horse begins to wander the yard at his leisure, passing one of the home's windows at just the right moment for one of the residents to notice. An excited shout comes from inside, then barely a blink later the front door swings open and out runs the Meyers' young song, heading straight for the horse.

Kara considers for a moment stopping him, but the excited boy slows his pace as he starts to pass by her. The meaningful look she gives him is apparently enough. Afterward, she looks back up to Carver. "Kara Prince," she introduces herself. "Munitions chaplain and quartermaster for the Remnant group stationed outside of town. We work closely with the people of Providence."

"Keeping them protected. Defending their interests, and our own." The explanation is given rote, no attempt at sugarcoating it. It seems like this can take multiple forms, if the rescue and apparent working day she's coming from are compared side by side.

She shifts her weight as she looks up at Carver, assessing him. "It's a good place here," she offers up opaquely. "A community that only keeps growing. The people here have taken what they were given or left and have made something better of it, without a doubt."

"But it's not for everyone," she acknowledges.

As the woman dismounts, Carver rises to his feet as well, spine straight, shoulders back, chin up — posture's been drilled into him hard enough over the years that it's become instinct.

Carver doesn't startle at the shout from within the house, or at the patter of feet as the youngest member of the Meyer family comes running out the front door. Only his eyes move as the boy runs past him, flickering over to watch him for a moment… that, and maybe the tiniest twitch of his lips into something that could possibly have been a small smile, twenty years ago.

His eyes move back to Kara when she makes her introduction, though. At the phrase munitions chaplain, one of Carver's eyebrows rises a degree; Remnant provokes a more thoughtful narrowing of his eyes. Keeping them protected and defending their interests, though… that Carver can understand. Can respect.

He's silent for a moment, considering what to say. "They're good people," Carver finally rasps, offering a slow nod. "I'm glad someone's looking out for them. And you've got my thanks for saving who you could from Whitesbog." That should just about cover the niceties; now for the other shoe. "But you said you were part of a… Remnant. Remnant of what, exactly?"

Remnant of what, Carver asks.

"We came from out West, from Sedro-Woolley in Washington," Kara explains, glossing over the reality that a number of them came from much further than that. "For a time, the casual moniker thrown around was 'Horsemen'." she jokes drily, looking over to Semej and the bay's interaction with the curious young boy, glossing over the meanings behind that term as well. Her demeanor is hardened, but not quite to the level Carver is. A smile freely graces her as she observes the two, even if it fades as she looks back to the older man.

"It is what it is," she says with a sigh, meaning to lay the matter aside.

"It's been interesting, being this far East again. Like entering into a whole different world."

Kara lets that thought lie for barely a moment before moving on. "You said you were a sawbones? A licensed one, or a war-bred one?" Her brow lifts as if to ask or both. She explains, "We've had a physician move here recently, but I don't know if he'll stay long. The city clings to him." Her tongue clicks off the inside of her cheek at that.

"It'd be good to know someone reliable is nearby…" she thinks aloud. "Maybe people will stop calling on Yi-Min as much. She's not, strictly speaking, that kind of doctor." Kara blinks after saying as much, a certain horror entering her gaze. Her mouth parts to try and fix the mistake she's made in referencing Yi-Min as if she were still here, but all that results is a wave of grief washing over her expression, robbing her of any actual words.

Carver regards Kara expressionlessly as she talks about the Remnant; he hasn't failed to notice that, for all that she's talked of where the group came from, she hasn't actually answered the question he asked. He's heard the phrase 'it is what it is' from COs a few times, too, and has an idea of what that one means (namely, nothing good). His eyes narrow ever so slightly, his grey-eyed gaze becoming just a bit more piercing.

But he can also tell that it's all she means to say on the subject… and actions speak louder than words do, anyway. He's seen some of what this 'Remnant' has been doing; whatever skeletons they've got buried in their backyard, he won't go digging for them. Not now, at least. Not unless something convinces him otherwise.

So he doesn't interject as she changes the subject. The phrase war-bred, though… that one elicits a slightly stronger twitch of Carver's lips, something brief, but recognizably a smile.

Then… then that mention of Yi-Min. Carver's seen faces like the one Kara makes at that before, both in the Army and after… usually in response to the words we lost them, I'm sorry, or something along those lines.

Carver steps to the side, clearing a path between Kara and the rocking chair he'd been occupying. "Need a seat?" he rasps, not without sympathy.

"No," Kara insists, for all that she looks staggered. She shakes her head. "I just… forgot for a moment." The glance toward Carver at that is filled more with regret than apology for that fact. A breath is taken in as her chin lifts, realizing he's owed an explanation, and she'd rather it come from her than anyone else.

"A few days before we found you, we were turned on by a group we had been working with previously. —Not the militia that had you," she clarifies, "those scum had held up two homesteads and gathered together all of their Expressive members to a single barn so the place lit up like a Christmas tree for that robot." And Carver had seen what happened to Whitesbog when they used the box.

No, what happened here was different. "Anyway, it turned into a shootout. We took on injured. As for Yi-Min, it was … complicated. She had come from that other group." Kara's jaw works momentarily. "She put herself in the way of the shots being exchanged. Maybe figured she could defuse things. They shot right through her."

She doesn't explain which they.

Her head drops a moment before she looks back to Carver. "We don't know if she made it." She doesn't know, and it's clear it weighs on her. "We were close. She made her choice, but…" Kara only shakes her head. "We were close."

Carver nods slowly, and as she talks about the shootout and how Yi-Min had ended up in the middle of it, for a single moment — only a moment — something in his gaze seems to shift, as though he's looking somewhere else. Somewhen else.

But only for a moment. In the next moment, his gaze is back on Kara; he listens as she finishes her tale. He doesn't offer any words of encouragement, doesn't point out that the absence of a body means that there's a chance she's still alive; he's pretty sure the munitions chaplain is not an idiot, and that being the case, she already knows and probably doesn't need to hear the same old tired shit again from some old man she doesn't know from Adam.

So he regards he with that steady, steely-eyed gaze, and gives her a single nod. "Sorry to hear it," is all he says, in a gruff rasp.

After a moment, he clears his throat. "You asked if I was… war-bred… or licensed. The answer's both. I was a medical sergeant in the Army; got my degree on the way out the door," he rasps. "Uncle Sam likes it when soldiers get educated after they're done with the Job; makes a good soundbite."

Then his gaze sharpens again, studying Kara. "What kind of role is 'munitions chaplain', though?" The words might be taken for derisive, but the tone is one of honest curiosity.

Carver's short condolence is about all Kara can handle about the topic anyway. She's ready to bottle that one back up as tightly as possible in the face of what else needs done around here. But at least if Carver hears of Yi-Min ever again, the first time was not as her being defined as a traitorous snake.

Her own gaze sharpens as he describes his past role, observing him with more interest than before. She acknowledges his observation about the soundbyte with a simple lift of her head. "'Hey, we licensed you, you're ship-shape for re-entry into civilian life … nevermind everything else we put you through.'" Her delivery is flat and sardonic, like it should be accompanied with a roll of her eyes. But she doesn't, she just studies Carver with more interest than before, an unexpected sense of kinship coming from it. She'd expected to hear he was some kind of Civil War vet, because who wasn't in some shape?, but this was interesting.

Instead of asking when he served, she goes first. "I joined up September 12th. Went three tours in Afghanistan. Marines; support specialist specializing in motor transport and repair. Kept us in good order and moving."

Kara lets out a chuff of a laugh under her breath. "'Munitions chaplain' is a similar role. I keep track of our weaponry, keep it in good order, teach others how to use it properly. There's a range set up on the edge of town— occasionally I'll run shooting lessons for newcomers or anyone that approaches me to ask about it." There's little lightness or humor to that despite the laugh. "The war here might be over, but that doesn't mean there's peace."

She looks back to the kid following around after the horse as he moseys about the yard, one hand on his side. "It's tested everyone. Even the Amish aren't willing to go without a fight if that militia come through again."

Carver listens with interest, and there's a faint twitch of his lips when Kara mentions being with the Marines… but even though it's USAF tradition to give other branches shit, he decides to pass on the devilry just now. Maybe later.

"Good," is Carver's answer to the matter of the Amish not going without a fight, one corner of his mouth curling into a sneer; he is definitely holding a grudge against that militia. But his expression softens a moment later, a faint smile coming to his face. "Sounds like they've found a good fit for the job," he allows. "Maybe sometime you can show me this range, and I'll see if I remember how to shoot straight."

"Hmmm," comes the long hum from Kara, working overtime not to reach for that low-hanging fruit Carver leaves out. Bluster and shit-giving is only something she takes a part-time interest in, but it's hard not to when he makes it so easy. "If you can't shoot half as well as one-armed Ryans, that'll just be confirming a bias I have." The corner of her mouth quirks back with that.

"Give it a few weeks for things to settle, and we'll put all of you through that, then." The promise of doing something that far into the future seems to answer the question of whether or not Carver was staying or moving on, which is good enough for her. She pats a hand on her thigh, calling out, "Semej," to the horse. "«Come here, bud.»" follows it, spoken in short but gentle Farsi. "«Time to go home.»"

The amber champagne bay turns his head around at being called, ear flicking to one side. He's not much for being ordered around, but Kara does tend to bribe him with enough carrots…

She looks back to Carver. "If you all mean to stay, you should see if there's not an already standing structure you can salvage and renovate. Lot easier than starting from scratch."

There we go. First shot taken. Carver's lips curl into a thin smile; there's a confidence on his face that borders on smugness at the challenge Kara's issued. He doesn't offer a verbal retort; he'll give his answer on the range. He's met a very few people he'd consider twice as good with a gun, and if Ryans is one of them… well. In that case, he'll take the loss with good grace, and be glad to know they're on the same side.

Although if Ryans is also a Marine, Carver's going to have to see if he can find a box of crayons around here somewhere. Getting bailed out by two Marines is bad enough; only thing worse would be if was Navy.

But it seems like the chat's over. "I'll look around, see what I can find," he rasps, nodding firmly.

Kara has a feeling she’ll later be reminded she started this when Carver takes a potshot in particularly bad taste, but she can't help but wear a smile now as Semej trails back over, Meyer boy still hovering by his side. "Good luck," she advises. She knows some of the places around here can be fixer-uppers.

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