2010-06-18: Collision (The Amazon)



Date: June 18, 2010


A collision is an isolated event in which two or more bodies (colliding bodies) exert relatively strong forces upon each other.


Brazilian Rainforest

It was dawn when Cody was awakened by a series of soft whistles, something she'd come to recognize as the Yanomami's hunting signals. The day had arrived. It was time to leave. It didn't take long for her to bid a silent farewell to her sleeping comrades, only because she wasn't sure that she'd ever see them again. Jo and Mark had started sharing a sleeping space, something that made Cody snicker with amusement. Never in a million years had she thought the SEAL would ever turn into such a cream puff.

That was hours ago.

The sun is still low in the sky, the morning rays filtering through the canopy and bathing everything in a soft light. Cody, dressed in her dingy tank top and cargo pants, is barefoot just like the rest of the hunting party and just like them she is painted with war stripes and decorated with red feathers in her ears. The M-16 is strapped tightly to her back and in her hand she carries a spear which she uses to pick silently through the undergrowth. There is no noise, not even the twitter of a bird to announce their passage.

More than one hundred pounds of gear have been reduced to a bundle that fits inside a t-shirt. Max has his improvised rucksack slung under his arm like a messenger bag, tied by a piece of rope.

He's packing light. Unknowingly, he's also moving toward the hunting party.

Unlike them, he carries no visible weapons. His gloves have long since succumbed to jungle attrition, though. This leaves his metal arm bared for the world to see. Also bared are a criss-crossing of scratches across his chest. Earned struggling through thorns and branches, they mar skin that's no longer fair and pale, but tanned and tough.

Max's heels dig into the soft soil as he treks tirelessly toward his goal. Tugged along by faint, fading hope and a diamond bracelet, he has slept as briefly and infrequently as possible. Nor does he hunt. Instead, he has resorted to surviving on the calorie bricks he's toted along since his journey began. He's showing signs of wear and tear. He's thinner than he's ever been, a spare layer of flesh and skin atop a lean, angular body. His muscles haven't wasted, but they've spread out. Now he appears as much like a marathon runner as a bodybuilder.


Cursing under his breath, Max lifts his foot from a broken branch.

The hunting party freezes.

The sound came from at least five hundred yards to the south west, at least because through the dense foliage it's impossible to tell how far the echo traveled. Lifting her head to the rest of the party, Cody nods toward the leader and at his signal the long dreads coiled at the nape of her neck begin to grow a little longer, preparing themselves for use.

Quickly, silently, the group begins to creep toward the sound. They weren't expecting any of the lumber camp mercenaries this early, but their recon is somewhat lacking. With no compass, the agent has been relying on natural means to determine direction. Her brow furrows around the same time that the leader of the hunter pauses and then disappears into the brush with two others. They're moving in the wrong direction, whatever made the noise can't be coming from the lumber camp unless they too are preparing a rear assault.

Max could hide, if he were the hiding sort. Even with the caution he's learned since he arrived in Brazil, he's not that sort. Instead he strides along confidently, his rucksack swinging and his boots thudding against the earth. Unconsciously, he takes in a breath, swelling his body for the benefit of any onlookers. It's a mechanism used by both predators and prey in the wild.

Look large. Look dangerous. Above all, look hungry.

He's nothing if not that. Absently, he strokes a thumb along his bull-horned belt buckle. And walks. And waits. In the jungle, no noise goes unnoticed.

As the crunching of the boots gets closer, the rest of the Yanomami and Cody scatter into the thick underbrush. She lies flat on her stomach, spear pointed outward as the worn boots trudge past her line of sight. Once again, her eyebrows furrow together. These are not the boots of a soldier, they're worn, scuffed, unkempt.

As the stranger moves into a nearby clearing, a series of short whistles from their leader has the hunters circling. One of them, sent out as bait rustles the large leaves without ever becoming visible. The small man runs in an arc around the clearing stopping a few meters directly in front of the itinerant. That is when the rustling stops and all is still again.

Waiting in position, Cody chances a glance at the intruder, catching her breath as she spies a familiar looking metal arm.

Max is in the clearing before he knows it. As soon as the leaves rustle, he freezes.

"Ambush," he whispers.

"I mean you no harm if you mean me none," he continues, his clear basso profundo carrying so that all might hear, his Portuguese clipped and precise. He spreads his arms and spins in a slow circle. "If you would fight me, come out and fight me. I am one, and if I'm not mistaken, you are many."

The blonde woman raises herself to her full height when he turns to face her. The long dreadlocks hang limp on her head and there's the small huff of a breath as Cody can't seem to decide whether to laugh or cry.

The hunter closest to her cocks his head and just stares at her as she walks out into the open. Her bare feet still making no noise or footprint in the soft dirt.

"Max?" she manages to choke out, her blue eyes searching his features. A face that she hasn't seen in nearly two months, one that's been burned into her memory but has grown hazy with fond recollections of perfection. Slowly, she approaches, spear still in hand. "Max.. is it really you?"

When someone stands, it takes a moment for Max's eyes to refocus. He lifts his hand to shade them and a bracelet around his wrist catches the light.

It takes him a moment longer to believe what he sees. His jaw loosens, leaving his lips slightly parted. He gaps. His eyes are wide and wild, but there is moisture at the inside corners.

He takes a step closer to her. Another. With shaking fingers, he digs in the pocket of his tattered pants. "I-I-" he stutters. Slowly, tremblingly, he holds out a bedraggled packet of instant coffee. "I-I-I. I. I saved this for you."

There's the choke of a sob that turns into a breathy laugh, then the spear is spiked into the dirt and left standing there as Cody practically runs toward Max. She strips the rifle from her back and lets it fall to the ground with a rattle at the moment she collides bodily with him. Wrapping her arms tightly around his neck, she tries to keep her trembling breath composed but it's nearly impossible.

"It's you, you're really here," she breathes against his browned skin. Lifting her head, she can't keep the smile from spreading across her face. She too has gotten a bit thinner; from lack of food, from exercise, possibly as many factors as he's faced. One of her hands slides from around his neck to cup his cheek, "I— " Her voice hitches and she clears her throat before trying again. "I was trying to get back."

By this time, the little group of hunters has melted out of the leaves to surround the pair, eying them inquisitively. The metal arm is what gains the most interest and a few of the hunters brave a little bit of a closer look.

The instant they make contact, Max's surprise is displaced by something amazing.


He whoops victoriously, clasps Cody to his chest, and spins her in a circle. When he sets her down, he squeezes her hard enough to crush the breath from both of them. Still, he clings to the coffee with finger and thumb.

After a few moments he calms down enough to loosen his grip and lean his face against her hand. "I had a dream," he admits. "I had a dream that you needed me. So I came."

Even if the notion is absurd, hard to believe, or too fantastic to be true, Cody just smiles up at him and stares into his eyes. He's leaner, untrimmed and unkempt, not in a suit, looking more like her usual self than she's ever seen or perhaps he's ever let himself be.

"Thank you?" What's meant to be a statement of gratitude comes out more like a squeaky question. "I do— I mean, I did, I do… I do." Her thoughts are moving at a rate a million times faster than she's able to process which leaves her in a state akin to a bumbling idiot.

Obviously forgotten and unnoticed, the Yanomami begin to chatter amongst themselves. Their whistles and words mixing into a language that cannot be mistaken for Portuguese or anything resembling a modern language. They're ahead of schedule, so Max and Cody are left to reacquaint themselves if only for a few minutes.

Max takes Cody's face between his hands. One is soft, warm with the heat of his body. The other is hard, warm from the sun and the jungle.

He kisses her. His lips are dry, his mouth is dry, everything is dry.

Suddenly, acutely, he is aware of how long it's been since he's seen a bar of soap.

He doesn't let go.

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