Date: June 2nd, 2010
Mark shares the contents of the Journal recovered from the Lane Industries Lab they found in the jungle. While elsewhere a bulldozer is claimed by the jungle.
"The Blessed Man"
The jungle is for the most part silent, or at least as quiet as it'll get. The group having stopped some time about, are hunkered down under a ledge, no real light source since the gunmen might still be out there. Water drips from the stone overhang as the rumble of thunder rolls across the sky, trees lighting briefly now and then.
Mark has his back pressed to the back wall of the ledge, knees drawn up so that he can perch the recovered journal on his knees. His features are lit by a green glowstick, taken from his pack. Brows brow as he slowly turns the pages, reading the hand written words scrawled across the pages. He pauses now and then to look passed his raised knees to the sleeping forms beyond, keeping an eyes on them.
Near the front, Cody's head bobs every once in a while. She's exhausted but trying to stay awake to make sure the gunmen don't find them, or if they do make sure she can protect the sleepers. Her tank top has been ripped at the waist and the strip of fabric used to bind the wound around her arm. It's seeping through but they haven't had much of a chance to treat it yet.
Hanging around with Dee has taught her one thing, as long as the bugs and birds are still making noise, there's no danger present. With that in mind, she turns her head to look toward all the people that should be sleeping and spies two bodies laying in the dirt where there should be three.
Her brow furrows as her eyes find the small glow of green light. When she makes her way over to him, she's crouched and hunched as to take as little room as possible. "Hey," she murmurs quietly, as to not disturb the other two. "Why aren't you asleep?"
If Cody was hoping for an answer, she doesn't get one, instead… "This journal belonged to a man named Norman Wallace." Mark pauses mid page turns and corrects himself, "Well, Dr Norman Wallace." He gaze drops to the journal as he skims over words, willing answers from it. "I barely remember him from some of the corporate parties."
"I never knew about this project… but listen." He murmurs, flipping back several pages.
March 23, 2006
I was brought down here to head a rather auspicious and classified venture on the part of Lane Industries. Mr Lane is a great man with an eye to the future. I can see what Raymond thinks so highly of him and I am glad that he convinced me to join the company.
Surely, we will make a great medicinal discovery, native people in this region are extremely healthy, and mention great magic being at work in the jungles. When I ask more about it, they refuse to speak anymore.
Mark frowns slightly after he reads those words, head shaking slowly. He doesn't voice what he's thinking, but so many of them thought his dad was a great man… if they only knew.
At The Lumber Site a Few Miles Away
Rain falls over the quiet lumber site, with no new instances, the security has become lax. Guards doze at their posts, heads bobbing on relaxed necks. It allows the small silhouetted forms move through the site undetected.
After a moment, a larger form follows after, towering a good head or two taller then his companions. He doesn't move with the same grace born of living in the the jungle, his joints ache with age and he isn't as spry as he use to be.
"Four years ago… They've been down here for four years and you never knew? Do you think Dr. Ray knew?" Cody asks as she scootches closer to get a look at the writing on the pages. She sucks in a small breath as her injured bicep grazes his arm but after a moment's freezing, she lets out a long breath and begins to breathe normally.
Turning her head toward the entrance of the ledge, she listens for the wildlife chirruping its song to the night. Only when she's satisfied that things are normal, does she turn back to Mark. "What else does it say?" she whispers, still trying to keep her voice down so they other two will stay peacefully asleep.
A peaceful sleep is not in the cards for Jamie, not so soon after being shot at anyway. She doesn't wake up with a scream, though, or tears… she wakes up with a pop. That is, of turning into water. When she changes all at once like that, it's almost like watching a water balloon pop, just with no leftover balloon. It takes her a few moments to recover from the startling wake-up, then she's changing back into human form, using water pressure to lift her clothes so they'll be on when she changes back. Now awake and human again, she waves a little as she sees the others awake, whispering, "Hi."
The soft sound from her, pulls Mark's attention from the journal, to the woman sitting next to him. His brow tick upward with worry, gaze dropping to her arm. He looks about ready to say something to her, voice some sort of concern… maybe an apology for how crappy he's been to her, but he falters as she turns back to him.
Her question snaps him out of his thoughts, "Um… it says a lot of things. Talks about trying to gain the trust of the natives, wanting to find the plants that must be working… but here is where it gets a little weird. " He flips some more pages until he finds the right one, finger skimming over the words as he reads them out loud.
January 4, 2009
Today I tried a slightly different tactic. These people are highly suspicious and believe that spirits fill everything living things.
I have a gift and I used it to make them believe that I could commune with the spirits in the trees and coax them to grow. It excited them and scared them, they talked about the the blessed people who could use magic…
Jamie's waking has the eldest Lane boy, pausing so he can look up. "Hey kiddo," Mark offers softly to her. "Nightmare?" He can't help but ask, it's pretty well assumed after that near death experience.
He approaches the stump of a tree, tucked partially under a bulldozer, the glasses he wears glinting as another flash of lightening flashes not far away. The tree had lived hundreds of years before these men chopped it down.
Slowly he kneels, his knees popping softly in protest. His scarred hands reach out to press against the rough bark of what is left and his whispers soft words. That part is only for show, in truth a piece of himself reaches into the plant and coaxes it to grow.
"I wonder where those people are now," Cody says quietly as she reaches with her good arm to trace the words on the page with her finger. "That was only a year ago…" Her finger passes over the last words he read to her and the looks up at him, her hairless brow twitching together quickly before smoothing out again.
Jamie's appearance has the woman giving a tight and rather uncertain smile, "Hey Squirt… couldn't sleep?" She echoes Mark, her voice a little strained. Dealing with children, she was getting better at it, but lately things have been a little too harried for her to stop and consider. Especially when she's one of the ones the girl was so afraid of during their adventure across the river.
Jamie nods quickly to Mark and Cody's questions, and says, "Get bad dreams every time there's shooting around me. The time I got shot they lasted for months." She says it as if she's dismissing the dreams as just part of life she has to deal with. Brushing some hair behind her ear, she stands and makes her way a little closer to the two adults, not at all seeming scared of Cody now. As long as she's not shooting anything, at least. "What're you reading?"
"Oh trust me… there is more." Mark states blandly, flipping through more pages, until he finds the entry he wants, but before he reads it, he looks at Cody, "They came around more often after that, brought him gifts. They thought of him as blessed." His hands shift over the book and he turns to the entry.
July 14, 2009
I told Mr Lane about what I had discovered today, over the satellite link. At first I didn't think he'd believe me, but he assured me that he had a much more open mind then I could imagine. He credits his boy, Marcus for showing him that impossible could indeed be possible.
He said he wanted to know more about about these blessed people. I didn't like the look in his eyes when he asked — no that's not the right word — demanded it.
Greed is a deadly bed fellow.
Patting the ground next to him, Mark shifts a bit to give the little girl room to join them. "It's a journal written by a man that was at that lab, I think it might help explain a few things. About what happened there and in this jungle." Just from the last few entries, he can't help but feel that destruction was caused by Wallace.
It's a humbling thought.
The fading life of the broken tree is stimulated by the old man's ability and it responds with renewed hope and vigor. Accelerating the growth of plants isn't a quiet job, guiding their growth is noisy. The tree stump gives a creaking groan, as tiny branch buds start to emerge from the sides of the tree, as the dark skinned natives watch the branches stretch and grow, flowing upward, weaving around the bulldozer and sprouting fresh new leaves.
As the man works, he's oblivious to the world around him, which is why the group of village hunters is there. They must protect the blessed man.
"This was before you went to the Congo… wasn't it?" Cody's question comes with some heavy undertones, she tilts her head to the side a little but doesn't look up at Mark. The highest her eyes travel is to his lips, where she can almost be mistake for looking him in the eyes… but not quite.
When Mark makes space for Jamie, the rifle is set far enough to the side that it's easily reachable but out of sight of the girl. The woman leans back against the wall of the ledge and closes her eyes, the exhaustion coupled with her injury is threatening to lose her senses to sleep. With another deep breath, she forces her eyes open and glances back at the pages. "Read some more, please?"
Jamie ohs, nodding a little to Mark at the explanation of the journal, slipping in to sit in the spot he indicated and leaning slightly against him as she relaxes. She's still sleepy, if a bit too keyed up from her dream to actually go to sleep again yet. "This to do with why your own dad's trying to kill you?" It's a concept she hasn't quite wrapped her head around yet. She glances up to Cody then a moment, to her injury, and says softly, "Sorry I can't fix that like I can fix my own."
There is a small nod of Marks head, brows furrowed thoughtfully as he tries to remember, seems like years away. "Yeah. I believe so." Fingers hook into the corner of the page and turns it and then another. "Seems dad tried to get reports from Wallace for awhile… that is until…"
November 24, 2009
Had an argument with Mr. Lane. I have no idea what I ever saw in him, Raymond is a fool and an idiot to think this man is anything but some bloody fat cat wanting more money to line his pocket.
He threatened me when I refused to tell him more about the blessed people. Said he would be sending people that would get him the answers he wanted. That if I didn't want any harm to come to the villagers I would just tell him, his men would not be so gentle.
The words trail off again and Mark look at Jamie, an arm moving to drape round her to comfort the child. A small smile is directed to the girl, "Maybe a little… though, it a much longer story and not one for young girls." He sighs softly and is head turns to glance at Cody, the innocents of youth making him smile.
"I think we all wish we could take way people's hurts… physical and mental."
The newly revived tree encases the bulldozer, and the scream of metal buckling under pressure fills the area, waking the guards. With shouts of alarm, they start to hurry towards the sound, only to be cut down by arrows brightly fletched with parrot plumage.
The old man continues to coax the tree, the trunk thickening with accelerated age. A small smile tugs at the corner of his mouth, as the tree becomes determined to carry it's tormentor to the sky. The vehicle groans as the weight shifts and moves. When the tree finally settles, the bulldozer has been lifted from the ground, slightly crushed in the thick branches of the one nearly dead tree. He has no idea if it is his triumph or the trees that fills the old man.
Following Jamie's gaze, Cody glances down at her bicep, lifting her elbow just a little in order to get a better look at it. She pauses there for a little while, considering what to say. Finally she looked between the two of them and just shrugs, "I've lived through worse… We'll get where we're going soon and I'll get it treated." If she doesn't… they don't have enough antibiotics to keep all the bugs of the rainforest away. Good thing she's a believer, she can just pray for a miracle.
"Read a little more, I want to know what happened. That's about the same time I joined Alpha Protocol…" An interesting revelation for the child, likely something she didn't know about two of her traveling companions.
Jamie wrinkles her nose just the tiniest bit at Mark's answer about his father, "Most of my life's been a story not for young girls." Then she blinks at Cody's words, eyes widening slightly as she looks up at the woman. "You were in the AP? You're… not anymore, right?"
"Pretty much just rants about my father, about the natives coming to see him — at least for awhile, but…" Mark pulls his arm from around Jamie so that he can flip much farther into the journal.
"Are you thinking that maybe he used one of the Protocols down here?" He asks pausing in what he's doing to look at Cody again. Marks eyes shift upwards to her bald head and his mouth suddenly pulls to one side in amusement, probably at a thought. "You know. Starting to get use to your GI Jane look." His blue eyes flick down to look her in the eye for a moment, something unspoken, before he looks away, giving a small shake of his head. "Ah… anyhow… you'd be wrong I think… about the protocol. Here." His finger stabs the page and he continues reading…
March 30, 2010
Only a short distance from the village a lumber company has set up shop. Seems a little suspicious, especially the amount of armed men wandering the perimeter.
April 1, 2010
The logging company is a Lane Industries front, my suspicions have been confirmed. A group of armed men showed up at the Lab.
I'm to be relieved of my duty and sent home tomorrow.
They don't know my secret. I will get out of here.
Mark sighs softly as he finishes those shore entries. "I guess whatever these blessed people are, my dad wanted them badly. It seems a little odd that he'd be putting this much money into getting someone like you all. "
"I haven't been Protocol for a long time… since before it was taken down." Cody admits quietly not actually talking about any of the circumstances behind it. Things she hasn't told many people, none of the people present and awake anyway.
Catching Mark's eye, she gives him a little bit of a smile in return before self consciously rubbing her bald head. "No, I don't think he used protocol down here but I'm guessing that he was looking for his own weapons to use, trade, sell… Your dad has the most advanced weapons in the world. It wouldn't take anything to pop a few collars on natives and make them disappear."
Jamie nods with relief at Cody's answer, "Oh, ok, good. Think I'd rather be shot at than strapped to a table again, not able to change." She shivers a little, but then quiets at the talk of what was mentioned in the journal. "People are always trying to make us use our powers for them."
"I got that impression as well or he just wants it for himself." Mark murmurs, the corners of his mouth tugging down into a small frown. Fingers lift to scratch through the short beard that has been growing since they crashed there. "There is only really one other interesting entry in the Journal… There is no date on it though."
To Whomever Finds This Journal
I hope that when you read my words, you read them with an open mind. I am not proud of what I did, but I had to kill everyone in this Lab. What is in these jungles, must be protected at all costs.
Lane can not get his hands on this blessed one. This secret must not be brought out into the world.
Miracles are so few in the world, to let something like this fall into greedy hands, would destroy a people who have been touched by God.
Mark is quiet for a long moment, before he slowly closes the journal, a hand smooths over the brown leather cover, "I think there will always be people wanting to strap you to a table, I hope to keep my father from doing that you all." He replaces at that arm around the young girl next to him, letting his head rest against the rock wall behind him.
"Best I can do… after all, I'm only human." He muses softly.
A hand is waved and a pair of hunters, move to help the older man to his feet. His shoulders are slumped with fatigue, coaxing the trees are always taxing for him. Lately, it's gotten a little tougher, his energy is just not going as far as it use too. Aging is never a graceful thing.
One of the hunters settles the old man's hand on his shoulder, giving it a pat, telling him he did a good job. The spirit must be pleased to have made the tree grow so large.
"«We must get going.»" The old man says softly in their language. "«We must reach these people.»" Another glance goes to the tree, before a gentle nudge of his hand starts his crutch walking, they had some distance to cover if they were going to meet up with the first group.
"«If they are blessed ones, I would like to meet them.»" Norman Wallace always thought he was alone, in what was bestowed on him, until he arrived at this jungle.
Now they were coming to him.