Date: June 02, 2010
Split from the main team; Jo, Dee and Laurel look for a different way across. Laurel has the answer!
"Walking On Air"
Ever since the incident at the river, the small wiry form of Poco has shook much like the little dog in his bag. Urging everyone onward down the river, trying to get them as far away from the men with guns as possible, barely able to wait for them. That had been really really scary.
"Come on… come on… You all are such… such…. women." The anorexic man complains as he scrambles over a rather large fallen tree. Old school tennis shoes, with duct tape holding them together, slip on the rain dampened bark of the tree.
The weather has been strange all day, getting chilly when the clouds cover the sky and the rain falls, but getting rather stifling when sun comes out to heat the world.
Stopping just a short distance to wait for them to catch up, he offers up his opinion, "That was unreal, shit. It — it was like those movies with that gringo, Clint Eastwood." He brings up both hands, holding them like guns. "Do you feel lucky punk! Well? Do you?" He gives a mock scowl, finger pistols tucked into the pockets of his jeans and kind of turning to strut along, as if some gunslinger in the wild west. "He was a big badass."
Dee looks backward, face pale, obviously in pain despite her lack of protest. She wasn't shot, but her knee is still in very bad shape, and the very quick pace at which they've been traveling hasn't made it any better. The circles around her eyes are ashen and grey, somehow making the normal pale blue of her eyes lose its luster. They've all been through something pretty terrible.
"No' as if I 'aven't been fired at before," she says. "Granted, it's no day at Disneyland, that's for sure. I'm sure me blood pressure's through the sodding roof." Leaning on a tree and putting her weight on her good leg, her attention turns back toward the river. "'ow you feelin', Jo?" is asked, as she pats the back pack that's become almost a permanent fixture on her shoulders lately. "Need any patchin' up, now's the time to talk before we work out 'ow we're gonna get across t'the others." As an afterthought, she also add, "Oh, right. Anyone get shot? Guess that's a problem, too. Cris'sakes." Looking back again, Dee nervously checks to see if they were followed at all.
"So! Can anyone fly?"
Perhaps one of the reasons they weren't shot was the sudden invisible wall that appeared between them and the gunmen. A few got through, cause Laurel's not as fast as a speeding bullet, but it caused a few to bounce off and hit the trees rather than them, as they scurried away. The walls are long left behind them, as they run through the jungle, and she stays on par with her best friend, even if her own knees aren't injured. Aching muscles and ankles, yes, but nothing too bad. She's just not cut out for jungle-life.
After stumbling, she ends up beside the same tree, glancing back with caution, and then over at her friend.
"Who would be shooting at us? Is this country at war or something?" That wasn't mentioned on the internet! She doesn't think… "Why is it every time I go somewhere with you, there's always men with guns…" They keep ruining her photos! Or— something.
"I can't fly, but…" she glances over at the river again. "We need to cross to catch up with them— I might be able to do the platform thing, like I did in Africa to get the shot from above the lioness— the one who was babysitting a cub, remember that?" Dee is the only one who would, climbing up the rock outcropping and then walking out on thin air, all to get a shot… "That was just a platform, but I— should be able to make it big enough." Maybe. But this is a bad time to mention maybes.
Despite the circumstances they find themselves in, Jo is humming. In fact, she's humming rather loudly. Lately she's been quieter than her surly self normally permits, particularly with her injuries post crash. But now? Now she's humming the Thong Song and her lips curl very slightly upwards into something resembling a faint kind of smirk. Of course, her amusement could come from the fact that she's actually walking. Not that the way she's moving can be labelled as such. It's more like tramping with heavy mud laden steps over the jungle floor. They'd be ginger steps if she weren't so insistent on not looking like a girl.
Although the comment about being a woman is met with a rather loud scoff. "Watch yourself, the last guy that called me a girl couldn't remember why I pummelled him. AND I may be damaged, but I could still get ya," she quips back, smile muted until Poco slips, drawing a larger grin. At least she didn't slip.
Staring at the river she frowns just a little before absently rubbing at one of her legs. "I'm fine," Or. Fine-ish. Things had been given some time to heal which is a plus. "And the shooters could've been anyone. Things abroad aren't really like back home. We could've wandered into someone's territory or something…" Anyone with guns.
Wrinkling her nose she looks back into the jungle behind them, her own fingers grasping her pistol, quietly waiting. After another fleeting look towards the river she shakes her head, "We have to go back."
Poco hops off a root and strolls over to Dee at the mention of medical attention. He turns one shoulder and lifts the shoulder of his bright orange tee shirt to show a little scratch, giving her a soulful look he says weakly. "I need a bandaid."
He tilts his head a little further, squinting at the scratch. "Does it look infected to you?" He asks curiously.
Laurel's complaints get's the little man's attention. He might be a transplant from up south, but he's know if there was a war. "We ain't Cuba ya know…." Yeah… don't ask. "No wars… I mean beyond some of the drug stuff." He looks thoughtful, "That might be it, we may have gotten too close to a pot farm or something?"
Of course Jo gets stared at. "Are you out of your mind?!? We can't go back! Those people had guns chica! More guns then us."
Thankfully those shields are invisible so the gunmen didn't follow them to see what the hell they were. Pushing off the tree, Dee takes a few tentative steps before deciding that her leg isn't about to turn inside out and the knee. Yes, she decides, it'll still hold her weight.
Dee's eyes narrow. "Wouldn't put it beyond the Alpha Protocol. Bastards. Could be they decided they were gonna go after us without government backin'. An' lets face it…" Looking at Poco, Dee trails off and shakes her head.
"Or it could just be local stuff. Drugs, animal trade, protection of that bridge for wha'ever reason. They could be poachers." She didn't get a good look at them, what with running for her life and all, and poachers certainly aren't exclusive to Africa.
Smiling at the memory of the photograph, Dee nods. "Could be worth a shot." While she has the utmost confidence in Laurel's ability, it's Poco and Jo who are going to have to decide if they're up to it. It'd be a bad idea to fragment the group even more.
"Jo, you are a bird. Ye've got boobs." Captain obvious. Even so, when Poco calls her 'girl' again in a different language, Dee aims a light punch at his 'injury.' "We don't 'ave bandaids t'spare for that, mate. Sorry. You'll 'ave to bleed. Or I could dig up a leech for ya."
"We can't go back to that bridge, but we might be able to cut across," Laurel says, taking in a deep breath before she hands her camera case over to Dee, the first time she's handed it off to anyone. EVER. Okay, maybe not ever. A hand goes up to her shirt, and she pulls out a piece of cloth she ripped saved from a certain suitcase and tosses it at Poco. "It might help."
It's a thong. A man thong.
As she says this, she looks out across the river and then starts walking toward it. As the ground starts to dip, she doesn't, walking out on air as if walking on glass. Though she can't see them anymore than they can, she knows they're there. "Come on. It'll be okay. These things can stop a bullet or a truck." Or an elephant!
"What choice do we have? Neither of the powder puffs fly and… frankly I'm not a fan of shoulds. If shoulds worked, we wouldn't be here right now. We'd be where we're supposed to." A wry eyebrow is raised at Dee as Jo shakes her head, "Nah. This isn't the Protocol's MO." Has she admitted to knowing their MO yet? Whatever.
Her eyes are narrowed at Poco and then further at Laurel. "When you say might what kind of certainty do you have? Is it like a 90% or… more like 50…"
Her lips purse a little as Laurel moves away and then walks on air. Jo's face pales and she twitches again. She inhales a slow deep breath before following after Laurel and murmuring, "I've got a bad feeling about this— "
Shirt sleeve is pulled down quickly and Poco takes several steps back, lower lip pouting out a bit as he rubs at the grievous injury. "No… no need for leeches. I think I can pull through this. I will be a man." His chest even manages to puff out a little. You would think he had been stabbed.
The thong smacks him in the chest and falls to the ground, the thin man gives a gasp. "There it is! This is my lucky thong! I looked everywhere for this thing." He points at Laurel. "It's on your head that…. we….." The words trail off as his eyes widen, mouth stuck open.
"No… no no no no…" He echoes several times, backing away from the floating woman. "You all are crazy.. Loco!" His back bumps into a small tree that he wraps his arms around, nails digging into the bark.
"Hey, Yossarian," Dee says, motioning to the bug-eating meerkat to come to her. "Up on my shoulder, kay? This might be a little weird."
Shooting at people isn't the Protocol's MO? Maybe not. But the only ones she met ended up murdering someone, so Dee's not about to just accept the fact that they wouldn't shoot at someone in the Amazonian rainforest. Still, she gives a raised-eyebrow look right back at Jo. That she so calmly dismissed said Protocol raises a red flag.
Not the time or the place. But Dee's suspicion alert has been raised to orange.
Dee herself can't comment on Jo's misgivings about the invisible bridge. She's a bit nervous about it herself, in fact, and despite the scathing look she offers back to Poco - as if she'd just love to throw him into the river below them - she asks, "Laurel, weren't you workin' on givin' these things a little bit o' colour so we can see 'em?" Even as she says it, she puts one foot on the invisible bridge… then the other. "Crikey, this is weird. Poco, if you're not comin', I'm going to 'ave a jaguar eat you. No 'ard feelin's, though. We just don't want you ta talk when the guys with guns catch up to you and rip off all your fingers an' feed 'em to you."
"You have a lucky thong?" Really? And she's been keeping it in her shirt for the last week or so since she dug it out of the mud and washed it off in rain water? Why yes… Maybe that's why she hasn't been hurt as bad as some of the others! … Nawh. "I was trying to make it colored, but it didn't really…" Laurel ponders attempting to do that now, but then she bites her lower lip. She's standing right on top of it. She doesn't want to be standing on top on it while she experiments. "I was able to get it to work, but only on really small ones. And we need this one to be big… I'll go first, though." Since she can put another one down quickly if she starts falling and keep from landing in the water…
But she keeps going, looking upstream. "Man, I can't even see the bridge from here. How far did we run." She sounds calm for someone standing on nothing. Which is weird, since she's usually been the panicked one. "I wish I had the camera, this would make a great shot, too…" She'll take mental pictures instead. Maybe the mental pictures are what is keeping her calm.
"Yeah… the walking on air thing was never on my 'things I need to do before I die' list." Jo bites her bottom lip and looks at the floating women. With a whistle she shakes her head. This is certainly not what she signed on for. But then, she gets to hold her gun so there's that at least.
However, before she steps on the bridge she issues the first order she's given in ages, "Poco. On the bridge. Now. Forget the jaguars, I'll shoot you myself." Her tone is even, not the kind of tone left for idle threats but one laden with confidence. "Besides. You have your lucky thong now. You'll be fine." Maybe. Yet Jo doesn't step on the bridge. Not yet, anyways.
Wide eyes turn slowly to Dee. "You would not?!?!" Not looking like Poco is going to let go of that tree. Finger nails try to dig in just a little deeper to the tree, bits of bark chipping off. His eyes follow the progress of the women, his mop of curly hair swinging about as his head jerks back and forth quickly.
The little guy actually whimpers, the sound almost child-like in the back of his throat. "What — what if she makes it go away when I'm on it?!" Poco practically wails with fear. "I have little dogs that need me back home… with little puppies! I can't die now! I'm their only family!"
But despite the protest, he slowly lets go of the tree, bits of bark stuck under his nails. The approach to the area of blank air is a slow one, he eyes the floating women. Once he gets to the edge he lowers himself to the ground, and reaches out to pat at the air curiously, until his hand flattens on the force field.
Jerking his hand away he looks wide-eyed again. "This is loco…" He looks at the thong in his hand, lifts it to — yes — kiss it before wrapping it around a wrist. Then the thin frame stretches out to place hands on the field and he starts to inch across it, a hand patting in front of him to make sure he doesn't move wrong. "Loco… I'm surrounded by Loco women. Or maybe I am loco… too much heat. Cause I shouldn't be able to do this."
The personal commentary continues to be muttered as he moves along slowly on hands and knees.
As Dee crosses, she figured that she'll take a picture with the camera she's holding and surprise Laurel with it later. Unfortunately, Dee isn't really thinking as she's standing on air, and she has the camera turned the wrong way when she takes said picture, and ends up taking a picture of her own face.
Shut up. She tried.
That done, she looks back at Poco. "It's okay. Trust me, mate. 'Oo d'you think saved yer ass from that airplane?" Laurel's proverbial cat is out of the bag now, so why not make their 'guide' feel better with that little anecdote? "If she can 'old up a hunk of twisted metal, she can 'old you up, too. What are you, fifty pounds soakin' wet? It's no big."
As she turns back around to follow after Laurel, the confident expression vanishes from the animal trainer's face. What the hell! WHAT THE HELL IS SHE DOING? There could be a hole, or a sudden gust of wind, or an invisible tripping hazard or Poco could wet himself and make a water hazard. Poor Jo. Speaking of— "Oi, you comin'?" she calls back to the former agent.
If it can hold up a plane, it can hold them up! Or that's what Laurel thinks. However, it's a lot longer than she's used to doing, so she actually stops halfway across and feels out with her foot. "You're not crazy, but— oh man, I'm not sure if this is a good idea. Jo, you better get out here! Unless you really want to run back to the bridge by yourself." Which— no thanks, she doesn't want that. The surface of the forcefield is a little slick, but not frictionless. Like walking on a marble floor. The longer it's there, the more the moisture starts to gather.
One such slick spot makes her shoe squeak, as she shuffles along.
Maybe Loco Poco had the right idea, crawling his way along. "I won't take you away from your puppies, I promise— I have a bunny and a cat to go home to, too." And a rat thing hiding in her seat-built backpack.
She glances back at the tree line, squinting. Are the gun men still there—
"Dee… you had my camera backwards," she says, tsking sound to her throat. Just don't drop it, please." Not her precious camera!
"Yeah. I'm coming. I've got the tail." After her hazel coloured eyes scan the jungle one last time— gun in hand, she steps onto the invisible bridge, her face paling just a little. Mumbling quietly she virtually whispers, "Just don't look down. There's nothing to see there… just don't look down…"
Gun still in hand, she shuffles behind Poco carefully. Wet or not, she's too focused to notice. Focused on not looking down. Her jaw tightens at the sound of the river flowing underneath them. "Don't look down…" she murmurs again as she takes a very slow labored breath inward. Her own shoes squeak against the bridge that isn't as her body tenses, not that her attack position would do much good inside the river.
From where Jo is behind Poco, she gets a really good view of the robin egg blue thong he's currently wearing. Are… those little pok-a-dots? Is that really a man thong?
"You have a bunny? Awww… I do like the bunnies." Poco's reputation just keeps plummeting, "So cute and soft and fuzzy. My Abuela she had bunnies…. I always played with them when I was little." He's babbling now clearly. "I had this one I liked. I named him Thumper… Like in the movie."
His hand continues to pat experimentally on the surface of the force field as he continues. "Then one day I visited and Thumper was gone. I asked Abuela about it." His hand drops into something wet and his brow furrows, looking at the moisture. He sniffs at it, shrugs and keeps going. "Well, she put her arms over my shoulders and she said… 'Let me tell you, Manuel, about the circle of life and the rabbit stew we are having for dinner.' It was a good stew…"
At least he's not whimpering, whining or complaining.
Dee stares at Laurel. "You cannae say you don't think it's a good idea after we're all out 'ere, Laurel!" she hisses, looking back at the others. "C'mon, guys, let's move!" Crap. "Now, Poco!"
Dee really has no worries about Jo. She's proven herself even with the injury, as far as she's concerned - and despite all suspicions. (Or, perhaps, because of them.) She doesn't want to panic the others, though, so while she does pick up her pace, it's not an outright run. Good thing, too, because she almost slips.
"No' really worried about yer cam'ra now, Laur," is muttered.
Still, she can't help listening to Poco going on about the bunny that his grandmother made them for dinner. At one time, it would have made her sick to think about it, but in Africa, where there aren't a whole lot of fruits and veggies growing around to randomly eat when she got hungry, she had to go with animal protein or starve. She hated it.
Circle of life, indeed.
"So yer real name's 'Manuel?' Move yer ass, Manuel."
That poor bunny… But when you gotta eat, you gotta eat. Laurel knows how that was in Africa, how the lions actually shared portions of their meals with them, and other such things. People gotta eat. "My bunny isn't an eating bunny. She's a stay at home and play with the cat bunny. But not in a way that she'll be eaten." Talking about her pets keeps her calm. "Walk carefully, it's starting to get a little slick— it's really humid out here." Like the floors of a building get a little slick… A few squeaks of her shoes and then she hops down on the bank. MADE IT! And turns back to watch the rest, making gestures with her hands. "I definitely need to work on making them colored." It was easier on her, but only just.
Perhaps Jo would comment on Poco's choice of undergarment if she were looking down. Instead she manages to keep her gaze straight across at the target, taking several slow deep breaths as she shuffles. As the tail she ought to be moving backwards, but there's no way she can do that on the invisible bridge so all tactical procedure is thrown out the window.
At least Laurel is across. Biting her bottom lip she continues to focus on the task at hand— getting across.
Speaking of wet surface.
When Poco puts his hands down on the force field they suddenly slip and his face cracks into that invisible barrier.
He makes a bit of a pained noise and finishes crossing, just… rolling off the other end clutching a bloody nose. "Softer would be nice, too. It's like falling on cement." He sits up and scrambles back away from the edge, giving them all a funny look.
"How about we don't do that again?" He pulls his lucky thong off his wrist and uses it to stem the flow of blood, head tilting back… and it keep tilting until he drops on his back in relief.
At least Poco is across, and Dee sighs in relief as she steps off the invisible bridge just before him. Closing her eyes, she shakes her head at the bloody nose, since she's going to have to be the one to take a look at it and make sure nothing is broken. There's a certain responsibility she feels to them all, since she's the only one who's any good with medicine.
With a sigh of relief of her own, she takes the time to give Laurel a quick hug around the shoulders. "Thanks, that was pretty brilliant, even if it was insane." She smiles, looking back to make sure the last of their party has made it over. "All right, now we just have to see if we can meet up with Mark and the others, aye? Should be a cakewalk after that."
And then Jo is across, suppressing a sigh of relief of her own. "Thanks," she says to Laurel although it's more curt than warm. A glance is given to the water now as she shakes ehr head wearily. It's not to anyone, just to the situation in general.
"Your lucky thong did you well," she squints back to where the bridge had broke and frowns. "Poco, you're the guide. You should take the lead." Drawing her pistol from her pocket she blinks hard, "I've got the rear."
The hug gets returned, before hands search out the camera case, and make sure the face shot didn't break it any. Not that Dee's ugly, but she might have got Poco with his thong! "Thanks… I don't think I can do that again anytime soon. I've never made one that big, I was afraid it didn't make it all the way across…" Laurel could explain that's why she started feeling along with her toe, so she could know if she needed to put down a second one.
"All right! We ran from that way across the river, so the bridge must me that way— hopefully we can find the others."
At least they are on the same side as the other group. Now it's only a case of trying to catch up to them and hopefully they don't run into the men that had been shooting at them. Right? "I — I can try?" Murmurs the guide.
After getting Poco to his feet, the group moves into the thicker brush of the jungle. Of course, the tiny mans voice drifts back to the river, "How long did you keep this down your shirt anyway?" The question is innocent enough, but the young man is thinking of the story he could tell his buddies. Such a lucky thong, blood or not.
Once the sound of the party has long since faded, on the farside of the river, several figures with skin the color of red clay seem to melt out of the forest. They are small, dressed only in loin clothes. Ear adorned with colorful feathers with sticks pieced through their skin like adornments. Each is painted with black pigment, no two alike. The spears and bows they carry are equally adorned.
Their voices whisper is a rather bird like quality as they approach the river. They seem to converse while one inches out, his spear is thrust at the where the people crossed. The spear thunks solidly on the bridge. This sends up another set of surprised whispered, before the oldest of them, turned to the youngest.
"«Go get the white bearded man… tell him we have found more like him. We will follow them.»"
There is a short nod from the youngest of the tribes hunters and he runs off, spear clutched tight in his hands. The oldest of the hunters looks at the air again.
"«We will find a different way.»"
Heads bob in agreement, before they all start running along the river bank.