2010-05-31: Creaky Old Bridge (The Amazon)

Starring:

Alexandra_V5icon.pngCody_V5icon.pngJamie_V5icon.pngMark_V5icon.png

Appearances by:

Poco_V5icon.pngJo_V5icon.pngDee_V5icon.pngLaurel_V5icon.png

Date: May 31, 2010

Summary:

Danger finds the expedition again, this time it's while suspended on a bridge!!!


"Creaky Old Bridge"

Brazilian Rainforest

Travel has been constant since they left the Lane Lab behind, their leader moving with purpose, though he hasn't really explained why they were moving, just that it was important. Of course, how do you explain all that's happened and the part your family has played in recent events. The broad spectrum antibiotics seem to have stemmed the infection in his shoulder, but the wound still has been slow to close.

How long before things go really bad for them all?

A machete in hand, Mark has taken point, allowing him to hack at the thick greenery, making way for the women and young girl following. The one thing that has kept them from making good time is the fact they have had to carry along one of their own on a stretcher, added to the twisted ankles and other things.

Getting to the lumber site was crucial, there was a man he had to find… and time might be running out. Though he doesn't know just how short that time really is, with a band of mercenaries on their trail gaining ground all the time.

They didn't know what kind of race they were in.

Pausing from the hacking, Mark turns slightly back to the group behind him, brows furrowing. "Do… you hear that?"

When everyone stops and listens, they all can hear a deep rumbling, it literally vibrates the ground under their feet. "Is that…?" Turning back to the greenery, Mark presses on, working harder to break through the thick bushes.

Thick fronds fall from the stalks of giants plants, allowing bright sunlight to filter in, making Mark squint against it, a hand lifting to block the harshness of it. Stepping out of the jungle onto a cliff edge, the explorer frowns. "Oh…. wonderful." The sarcasm think in his voice.

As the others spread out behind him, they can see what he's talking about, at first look it's a gaping chasm, until one looks to the left and a large waterfall rumbling down a cliff. Below them The brown churning waters of the river, swollen from the heavy rains they have experienced up until now.

Mark isn't looking at that though… No… he's looking at the sagging bridge of ropes and wood that stretched out over the gaping distance. How anyone can think that is same is any ones guess.

Of course…

"Don't look too bad."

Quips Mark, brows lifting slightly, he inches forward and places a foot on a mist dampened plank, just that movement has the bridge swaying gently.

Eeeee….crick crick crick.

It's been a harrowing trial from the lab, their last real campsite. Since then Cody's been taking it fairly easy, aside from the travel. She hasn't even tried to cover her bald head with even the slightest growth of hair. Then the bridge of doom is upon them and her hairless brow furrows.

"Mark, wait…" Turning to the rest of the party, she holds out her hands and flicks her fingers. "I need all the food you have, I've got three power bars left and some fruit and leaves that we've collected on the way. How much do you guys have?"

Then as a sort of explanation she walks toward Mark and the psuedo bridge, reaching out to place a hand to hold him back. "I can make it a little safer… I think. If I have enough food."

Taking out a power bar, she wolfs it down hungrily and closes her eyes. Almost immediately a length of hair begins to sprout from her head and weaves through the rotting planks, binding them a little more securely.

Jamie has been quiet the last little while, rather than her usual talkative self. A sign she's getting tired, likely. She grins immediately, though, on seeing the bridge, "Wow, I thought bridges like that were only in cartoons! We have to go across?" She, of course, has no fear of falling, it's perhaps hard for her to realize others would. At Cody's words she frowns, "Sorry, I already ate everything I was carrying."

Heights. It's one of the things Alex fears most. She's not a stranger to digging around in the dirt. Snakes and bugs are only a mild inconvenience (a few are pretty scary, but most she can just dismiss…or smush with a shoe or something). But heights? Noooo thank you. Wouldn't it just figure that this trip has been filled with plane crashes and Temple of Doom-esque rickity, creaky wooden bridges.

"I've got a few berries, Cody. Not much else." She'd been picking them along the way, the ones that were confirmed safe to eat. Thankfully, they aren't in her pants pocket — they're in a shirt pocket instead. A little smushy and a little warm, but otherwise okay, except for that little juice stain on the front of the shirt. Not like it matter with the rest of the dirt and blood.

"Just…uh…um…do what you can, okay? I really, really don't know if I can cross that," Alex says, the hestiation apparent in the way her voice quivers and her lips pull back over her teeth in a very nervous smile. Her hand is held out with the little berries there, at full-length, doing her best to stay away from the edge of the chasm.

Shrugging off his pack with a soft hiss of breath as he drags the strap over that sore spot, he passed it over to Cody. "See what you can find in there." In truth he hasn't been eating like he should, his stomach somewhat off since they crashed. He edges over near the sheer cliff, looking down a hand on one of the large broken tree trunks used to hold up the fraying and rotting rope.

"Alex… we don't have a choice." Mark sounds just about as thrilled about going out as she does. "Our best chance to get home is to get to that clearing site." And it's the best chance they have of finding what he learned in that journal. "And I'm sure you want to go home right?" He glances over at the earth bender, a brow lifting slightly.

Taking a step back he eyes the group. "Cody takes point so she can do her thing. Alex… I want you to follow her. If there is anyone that is safe to follow after on a rope bridge it's Cody." He send a grin her way.

"Ah… senior… we could just you know…. go back to that place." Poco looks even more unhappy about the bridge, glancing over his shoulder back the way they came. "In fact… I think…. I think I'm gonna go back. I'm not going to go on that thing!!" He takes a step back, eyes slightly widened.

"No one is going to that Lab, Poco. Those people have been dead how long?" Mark counters, brows lifting slightly. "Months? I don't think we're going to have luck… no… we're better off going across." He turns back to the bridge nodding at it.

He glances to the little girl in their group, brows furrowing slightly. "You, young lady will go across with me. Then… Dee and Laurel will follow with Jo. Poco will bring up the rear."

Cody wolfs down the remainder of her power bar, the berries, some fruit, and some unidentifiable leaves that cause her to cringe from the taste. All the while, her hair grows and grows, plating itself and binding the planks.

When it can stretch no further, the blonde woman digs into Mark's pack and pulls out some slightly gamey fruit and vegetables scavenged from the lab garden. "I think we missed the window on these ones…" she says lowly before sinking her teeth into the first of the rotting vegetables. She seems a little unconcerned with it, they've eaten all manner of things since starting their little adventure.

In reaction to the rotting fruits and vegetables, her hair grows further and faster. Almost as well as if she was eating a power bar or a plate of extra greasy fries. "Okay, I'm going out…"

Opening her eyes again, Cody steps out and doesn't hesitate in the slow crawl across the chasm.

Jamie looks to Alex and Poco, "Oh, relax! With Cody it'll be nice and safe." She grins, excited anyway it seems at the prospect of crossing the bridge. Bouncing slightly, she nods quickly to Mark's instructions, "Ok." She steps up to the edge to look down a moment while waiting for her turn with Mark.

The first step's the hardest, right? That sounds about right…right? Alex has to quite literally force herself to take a step out onto the bridge, one shaky, wobbly step at a time. Is it the bridge or her legs that's wobbling more? It's really hard to say, and not even Alex could tell you for sure. Simple fact is, she's got the white-knuckle death grip on the sides of the thing, and pretty much walks in a crouch-crawl across the thing.

"Y-yeah, nice and safe if you can turn into water if you fall! I…I can't!" Alex offers in response to Jamie's odd exuberance. If she could close her eyes and do this, she would.

With each step the women take, the bridge creaks and groans, swaying slightly. At least it's cool out there with the mist of the roaring waterfall putting a fine sheen of water across their skin. The lengths of hair seem to be holding the bridge together at least.

The explorer stands between the rotting trunks holding the bridge in place, a hand on each rope, brows furrowed as he watches the progress of the two women across it. He won't step out until Cody and Alexandra are all the way across. The bridge can only take so much weight at once.

He glances at Jamie, a small smile on his lips at her excitement, a hand reaches out to grip her shoulder as she looks down, can't have her accidentally falling over the edge.

Glancing back to say something to the guide, Mark notices Poco is gone, only Dee and Laurel resting under the shaded fronds of a plant, with Jo's stretcher between them. "Son of a…." He turns away from the bridge, looking for the young man. No where to be seen.

"Poco!?!"

Silence follows. "Well… crap." Mark sighs heavily.

It's a slow trek, but Cody finally manages to make it to the other side. Standing next to the support posts, she ties off the length of hair securely before letting it drop and allowing herself to go bald again. There's a long sigh as she watches the last of the blonde tresses fall of her scalp to the ground.

"Okay! It should hold, but I don't know for how many decades!" Her voice echoes across the canyon as she urges Alexandra to hurry along. "Come on… Let's get the rest of you over…"

Jamie answers Alexandra before she's too far out of earshot, "I was on the high wire with my mom years before I could turn into water! Wasn't scared then either. This is easy compared to that." She smiles up to Mark again at the hand on her shoulder. "At the hotel we were at, they had an adventure circuit, and one of the things was a rope bridge. Just rope, no planks or anything. Made it across that without any use of the safety gear they made me put on, can make it across this no problem." She looks up as Mark calls for Poco, and says, "He wouldn't run away too far, would he? He came back last time." She starts across as soon as Mark indicates to go, not a trace of hesitation in her step, but careful nonetheless. She looks where she's placing her feet, like she would on the high wire.

Alex isn't exactly in a great place to hurry anything along. Sure the hair reinforcements help to keep those rickity wooden planks from creaking, cracking, and splintering underfoot, and it keeps the rope from making the dry, dusty cracking sound as the fiber is stretched, but it doesn't do a thing to keep the whole bridge from swaying. That's the real problem.

"H-haven't any of you…ever seen the video of the…Tacoma Narrows Bridge…" Alex says, an effort to cause some idle chitchat on her way across the bridge. Her voice is punctuated by her moving across the brige. Stop and chat while she closes her eyes and recollects herself. Move again. It's slow and painful, but when she finally steps across, she looks a few shades paler and ready to vomit though very relieved to be off the bridge.

As for the bridge? It's the one that was built to bend and flex in the wind. Except that the valley it was in had air currents much too strong, and the bridge waved and waggled until it fell down.

"No idea. Not exactly happy with him as a guide." Between him and the ladies, thy've been able to navigate, while Poco has been a rather lazy guide. He will not be used by this explorer again!

When the others get across, Mark motions the young girl to start out in front of him, while he scoops up his back and settles it on his shoulders again. "I'll be one step behind you either way, Jamie." He's not taking any chances, ability or not. "Take it slow, with hope Cody's trick worked.

As the two of them step out into the open air of the chasm, the rope bridge creaks unhappily as the old worn ropes, made by who knows who, stretch under the weight of the two figures. His legs actually shake as he steps to each gray weathered branch woven through hair and rope.

When the pair make it half way, there is the sound of something crashing though the jungle. "Senor!!! Mark!! Wait!" The frantic figure of Poco comes running out of the greenery, skidding to a halt before he reaches the bridge. "You need to come back!!" An arm waves at the waterfall.

Mark turns back to look over his shoulder at Poco. "What?!" He calls out about the time there is a CRACK of a gun and the rope near his hand suddenly gives, strands of woven plant fiber starts to unwind. There is a whistle of another bullet passing between him and the girl.

Marks head whips up, but he can't find where that came from, so instead he turns back to follow after the girl again. "Shit… Jamie… move!" He shouts moving to hurry after the young girl. The bridge gives a bit, about throwing Mark off his feet, out as they are, he can only urge her forward.

Meanwhile, another bullet buries into the ground at Alexandra's feet, sending up a puff of dirt and rocks, another following to sink into a trunk near Cody's head. Across the way, the rest of the team is sent scrambling for cover as well, leaving only Mark and his young ward on the bridge.

Another loud crack from a high powered rifle and with a series of snaps the ropes suddenly give on the bridge, sending Mark and Jamie to their stomachs. There is a another final snap and the a shout from both man and child, their half of the bridge falls.

Luck is with them both as Cody's end of the bridge holds, allowing Mark and Jamie end up smacking against the side of the cliff, instead of plummeting to the river below. Jamie holds firm, but Mark's plank snaps and he falls a foot or two before he is able to snag another plank, coming to a sudden halt, knees getting skinned on the cliff face, his shoulder burning again.

This is bad.

"Jesus tits," Cody curses as the bridge gives way. Butting her rifle to her shoulder, she grabs Alex and yells, "Get down!" at the same time dragging her to the ground she loves so dearly. "You get to work on rescuing them… build stairs… and elevator anything and gimme cover!"

After barking the orders, she brings the peep sight to eye level and starts sweeping from right to left, trying to find the telltale puff of smoke that will let her know exactly where the bullets are coming from. "You okay down there boss? Jamie? Alex is going to rescue you… just stay calm."

CRACK

Her own rifle lets off a shot, into the treeline where she thought she might have seen something.
Heights? Jamie loves them. Dangerous animals? Don't scare her one bit. Guns? *That*, Jamie can't handle. She lets out a shriek as the first gunshot sounds, and it's all she can do not to turn into water and abandon Mark on the bridge right then and there. To everybody else, she seems frozen in place until Mark urges her on. Now a scared little girl instead of an excited (and bravado-filled) adventurer, after the bridge falls she just clings to the piece of bridge she has a grasp on. To answer Cody's call of reassurance, she instead yells back, "Why's everybody always shooting at me!?"

"You know, I have been shot at before…" Alex replies to Cody after she's dragged down to the ground. Though, if you're in the market for instant barricades? Well, Cody's in the right place for that at least. Walls are simple enough, and Cody and Alex get a nice big one to hide behind there on the lip of the chasm, by the end of the dangling bridge.

"Just…just hold on down there. I'm working by touch here!" Alex calls down to them. At least the bridge is dangling on their side of the chasm, right? Next to the cliff face? Best choice for how to get them up? Well, how about an elevator…kind of. Alex twists her hands into the dirt some, taking cover behind the wall, and creates a platform below where they are on the bridge. Her face twists a little as she beckons the ground to change shape, and essentially cause that thing to move upwards along the chasm face.

"It's…hold…on…" she grimaces, causing that thing to move upwards. The dangling rope bridge starts to wind up on it, and eventually it scoops up the part of the bridge where Jamie and Mark are clinging. "Just a bit…further…" she grunts, keeping the thing moving upward.

Leaning over a bit, Mark looks down, eyes a little wide at how close it came to going in. He does notice the moving elevator of dirt, a ping of a bullet not far from his head, reminds him they are in true danger, which has him looking up. "Jamie! Hold on!" He calls up, planting his feet on the cliff side, he pushes up, letting go with one hand so that he can grab at another of the planks above him. With a grunt, he pulls himself upward, this won't be easy, but… he's determined.

As soon as Cody starts shooting, the attention turns to her instead of the two dangling on the fallen bridge. Bullets litter barricade, sending dirt showering out.

Mark is still moving upwards when he feels the ground touch his feet, which startles him at first. As soon as it reaches Jamie, the explorer grabs her and blocks her from possible danger. Even as a few more bullets impact the earth around them.

One of the bullets ricochets off the top of the barricade and very nearly cuts the bald woman across the side of the head. Ducking back behind the wall of dirt, she takes a few slow breaths before popping back over and firing off a few more shots. A handful of years fighting geurilla and militia style gunmen from different countries as given her a little bit of experience when looking for possible locations they could be hiding. It's rather unfortunate that they're hiding in a jungle, since the entire area is potential for cover.

When Mark and Jamie make up up and around to their side of the wall of dirt, Cody gives him a small smile and fires off another shot into the trees on the opposite side. "So whaddya…" CRACK "…figure they're after?" She can't even see the other anymore, there's no telling where they could have ended up before the guns started going off.

Tears roll down Jamie's face and she cowers against Mark as soon as he's there to grab her. Not even her usual show of trying to look brave, she's terrified. Her eyes squeeze shut as more bullets hit so close by, it'll take Mark urging her towards cover to get her to move when they reach the top.

The dirt elevator helps to push Mark and Jamie up from underneath, so not a whole heck of a lot of an effort is required. When they're up though, she just lets it crumble away, the bridge spilling back down the side of the chasm again. Not having to split powers anymore, Alexandra uses the chance to beef up the wall, making it thicker, taller, and wider…which also makes it convenient for the new arrivals. "What…did you find in that lab? Seems like you weren't supposed to see it."

"No idea…" Mark says with a grunt as he dives behind the earth barricade, pushing the young girl ahead of him. Even there, he keeps arms around the young thing. "We're safe for now, Jamie." He murmurs softly, hand on her head in a comforting gesture, as he looks at the other two.

"There is something in this jungle that my father wants… Or should I say someone. I think… those guys might work for my dad." He ducks down again as more bullets punch into the earthen wall. "Though… not a good time to talk about this!" He sounds a touch frantic to get out from the open.

A head is jerked towards the jungle and asks Alexandra, "Can you move that along with us until we're out of sight?" He swallows a bit, looking at Cody, brows tilts up in worry. "The others are on their own at this point, but if those men do work for my dad… they will be safer."

"Simmer down little soldier, you're safe now…" Cody says as she fires off another couple of shots toward the trees. She doesn't spare Jamie a glance as she's too busy still trying to find where the gunfire is coming from. "… We have to get moving, I don't have much ammo left and we're sitting ducks here."

Darting back down, she sidles up against Mark and looks him and the little girl over. "You two are okay? Really?" There's a tremor of concern in her voice and on her face as her blue eyes graze over the pair. Following Mark's question, she cranes her head to look at Alex as they wait for her advice.

Jamie starts to calm just a little once they're behind the barricade, though she flinches a little every time a gunshot goes off, be it their side or Cody's. She makes no move to pull away from Mark's grip, not wanting away from the sense of safety he offers even as she calms. "Not a soldier," she answers Cody shakily, "Soldiers just take people and strap 'em to tables." She nods a little to Cody's next question, though, "I'm ok." She has a few scrapes from the fall, and probably a few bruises will be forming quickly, but no obvious bullet wounds.

"I…should be able to. Like the elevator, only horozontal of course. And I probably don't want to move trees and stuff out of the way. Just…stay low?" Alex is already crouching behind the wall, looking at the edge of the jungle there on this side of the chasm. "Come on…let's move. Right there, through that opening," she says, pointing between two big ferns.

A gentle nudge from the low-rumbling wall of earth encourages them to move forward behind her, when she starts to crouch walk to that gap in the vegetation she pointed out. "I hope Dee and Laurel don't think we're leaving them to the wolves," she sighs out. "But if we're getting shot at…why would they be safe with those gunmen?"

Urging Jamie in front of them as they move, Mark nods to Cody, giving her a reassuring smile, even though it doesn't take away the worry in his eyes. "I'm fine." He offers to her even as they move, bullets hitting the blockade.

"The reason I know Alex… is cause if they do work for my dad… chances are they are trying to kill me." The eldest Lane son looks deadly serious about that, "It's not the first time." A glance goes to Cody, before he moves ahead, checking the trail ahead without exposing himself to the gunmen out there.

"Looks like we're clear ahead." Mark says, even as the sound of impacting bullets lessen.

Mark's eyes meet Cody and she holds his gaze for as briefly as it takes her to convey understanding. Then she winds around Alex to provide them with cover fire. Kneeling down, she lets off a volley of bullets that sprinkle into the trees on the opposite side.

Its her own noise that masks the reply of the guns on the other side and just as she's about to scootch back toward the wall of dirt a searing pain grips the side of her arm, almost causing her to drop the rifle. "Shit!" she bellows in anger and pulls her own trigger again and again. The tense bicep causes a small rivulet of blood to flow down her arm, to her elbow and drip down to the ground at her knee.

click click

With the clip empty, she pulls back and runs to catch up with the rest of them near the trees.

It doesn't take much prodding by Mark this time. Jamie gets up and, keeping her head down as low as possible, makes a run for the trees. She makes a dive over a large tree root and rolls, coming back up and scrambling to take cover behind a large tree as she waits for the adults to catch up.

The earth wall doesn't shrink or disappear until the group is well inside the jungle, the leafy vegetation and canopy shade providing cover against the shooters on the other side. "Cody!" she calls out when she hears the cry of pain. Only the thought of getting shot herself keeps her from frunning out to pull the woman back. Luckily, she's coming back in under her own power.

"So…so what's the plan now? We're split up, they're back on our trail…are we going to keep going? Are we going to try and find a way back to help them?" Alex is looking at Mark for some direction is this matter, being the expedition leader and all.

The team has been been separated, a gaping chasm separated the two halves of the expedition, both on their own at this point. Mark knows this all too well, what is in that journal means everything at this point.

"Their on their own." Mark finally says glancing at Alexandra, his brows titling up as if he doesn't like what he's saying either. "We have to get to the Lumber site… especially since we've obviously got a group tailing us. I doubt they will stop."

His tongue wets his lower lip as he looks back from the direction they came from, before he sighs heavy. "We have to keep moving." A glance goes to Cody and her bleeding arm, worry creasing his brows as he steps towards her, but stops himself.

Unfortunately for them, Dee has most of the medical supplies, which makes their need to get to the lumber site that much more urgent.

"Let's go." He says turning away from the other three and moves to start into the dense jungle again.

Across the divide, another journey begins with the rest of the team, Poco strangely enough moving to lead the way as they try to follow the rain swollen river… that may or may not go too well.

What they don't see is the small shadows following them from a distance, moving from tree to tree, making no sound at all.

The animals speak nothing of them.

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