"Hey Trip, looks like we found a way to get them to stop cowering and come over here." He scratched behind one ear while casting the odd glance over the edge of the rocky outcrop to see even more of the black-clad wanderers than before. Monkey had been eager to leave Pyramid as soon as possible, and with a reluctant Trip on his back.

She was a master at giving the silent treatment.

He leaned forward to attempt to make her out through the haze of the campfire. "They see fire, smell food and hear talking and suddenly we've got a whole new pack of buddies."

The last thing he wanted was to be responsible for the safety of these people. He only just barely tolerated being Trip's protector. She whined and ignored his advice and turned even the smallest and most simple tasks into hours upon hours of nightmarish work.

He loved her.

"Take down the stupid wall." She mumbled. "So you can stop mocking them and actually help."

"Are you crazy? There's gotta be hundreds-"

"Thousands."

"... There's gotta be hundreds of them out there, we'll be swarmed. They can figure out how to fend for themselves for a bit, don't you think so?"

"No; I don't think so." She growled, rising with a flurry of sand around her feet.

Monkey held her gaze in silence. It was a struggle but he stayed calm until she lost confidence and sat down again, this time facing away from him and unpacking one of the sleeping bags with an irritated urgency. When the lack of conversation got on her nerves once again, she whipped around and fixed him with an accusing glare. "In the morning I'm heading straight back home to give these poor people a chance and I don't care if you decide to run off and be alone for the rest of your stubborn life."

"At least I'll be able to sleep without one of your lectures on how selfish I am." He light-heartedly remarked, which effectively angered Trip past the brink of speechlessness.

"I do not lecture you on how selfish you are!" she argued. "I'm just telling you that those people need help, I plan to give it to them and I don't care if you help or not."

"Trip, of course I'm gonna help you." Monkey offered her a rare hint of a smile.

But it was lost in the darkness.

Trip twitched, stuck between apologising and not backing down. So, instead, she fixed him with an icy glare and cleared herself a space to sleep. He wouldn't be getting another word out of her until morning. Sleep came strangely easy for her.

Monkey himself didn't let down his guard until the small gatherings of slaves were still in the small sandstorm. They had their own shelter –for now- and somehow their own fires. Nobody had taken off their masks or their headbands. He doubted many had spoken, either. Only one of two stood out from the rest. Mostly because they kept sneaking glances over to Trip and Monkey's small camp and would tear their gaze away whenever Monkey looked over, staring at the sand as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. He'd have fun scaring them off if they got too close in the night. He needed something to smash up to some degree after the past few days. He remembered the time his last companion taught him how to relax and channel 'negative energy' out some other way than mindless violence. He'd forgotten how to do it, though, as soon as he found himself alone again and there was nobody to snap at him whenever he went in search of mechs.

He always forgot the knowledge people shared with him as soon as they decided to leave. Some wanted to stay in the small communities they traded in. Others ran off in the middle of the night back to wherever they thought was safe. Like his parents.

They died in a mech attack when I was a kid...

Why did she have to ask so many questions when he really didn't want to talk to her? Everyone else was given the true story... but then again, everyone else travelled with him without the aid of a slave headband and a threat of death. He just wanted all conversation with her to be over quickly; it wasn't his fault the first thing he could think of was that.

It was typical that the one person he felt this way about was the one person he lied to. And now she lost her family in this very same way. Life just got more and more difficult the easier he tried to make it.

"Monkey... please sleep. It's late."

He felt almost relieved to hear her.

"I knew you were awk-"

"Go to sleep." She hissed from her sleeping bag. "... please."

"Night Trip."

It was almost inaudible, but she wished him pleasant dreams.

Short, yes, but as a small introduction I hope it'll do. I'm not 100% sure where I'm taking this story in the end but it will be long and I'll avoid inserting my own characters for as long as possible.

~Kay