Big Guns


dahlia_icon.gif gillian3_icon.gif magnes2_icon.gif raith2_icon.gif veronica2_icon.gif

Scene Title Big Guns
Synopsis Team Alpha regroup and, while some break away to locate their guide, the others stay behind and plan. They enlist the help of the Branded to their cause, or try to through Dahlia.
Date December 3, 2009

Argentina: Subtropical Jungle

The dark, vine-laden greenery that defines the swath of jungle growth in Cerro de Hierro Negro's shadow is not really lush so much as it is resilient. Ancient trunks wind crooked under thick mats of cool moss and the same damp litter of decay that makes the ground soft underfoot, with brambled undergrowth and brackish stream beds just sparse enough to be navigable if one is careful about where they step. Rumbling passages of thunder stir often through the rustle and sway of branches thatched far overhead, but the rain that should accompany it has been scattered in recent days. Crawling insects are common despite the chill wind off the mountain ahead, and every so often the shrill keen of a persistent predator splits the night or the springy passage of ungulate hooves whispers invisible along an unseen game trail. To the northeast, the flutter and burble of running water is occasional audible with gentle turns in the wind.

The settlement looks like something that was built, abandoned, reclaimed by someone new, although Dahlia told them the Branded built it themselves. It's high noon by the time they get there, less a clearing in the jungle and more a space in the thick of it that's been forcibly leveled to accommodate the open wooden structure. The floor is raised from the jungle ground, the angled roof of wood and leaf raised up enough for even the tallest of the group to walk beneath comfortably with a few feet of space above him.

There are no walls, and a humid breeze blows through. Dahlia sits by a campfire site within the structure, currently unlit, as she inspects Veronica's injuries as much as the woman might let her. With their medic gone— and Peter and Cardinal off scouting for him, because perhaps someone has to— it leaves only those with any kind of knowledge to see to razor thin burn marks and scars.

"I have never seen one up close."

Dahlia's voice is quiet, but carries adequately through the space of the open shelter. Birds twitter and leaves shift all around them, and the scent of water of a nearby river is in the air. "My experiences have been but the remains of those who have." She shifts a look towards the cuff sealed around Veronica's wrist, as another woman comes to join them with offers of full canteens, crouching down. Her face is unmarred by any scar, much like Dahlia's, but allowed to pass. There are the figures of other Branded walking among the trees, further from the shelter, and guarding their position.

From where she's knelt nearby, Gillian's been trying to pull at the cuff sealed around her ankle, in an attempt to get it off. It doesn't give under fingers, though, but she's one to try. "You could have told us there were robots at all, even if you hadn't seen them up close— did you know about these trap things too?" She asks, finally giving up on the pulling. It's going to take someone with destructive abilities— or big guns— to get it off. Her glowing and pulling won't do much.

"Do you think you can get these things off, Magnes? I don't even know what they do, but anything connected to those… things… I don't want around my ankle long."

The injured agent accepts the full canteen with a murmur of "Gracias" that sounds almost as authentic as the Argentinians' words. "We saw some of them as well. And a skeleton, with a cuff like this." She shakes her head, angry at herself for not seeing the trap in the muck and mud. She's used to dealing with the Evolved and their powers — not booby traps and robots. "I feel like I'm on some other planet, not just another continent. So out of my element." She takes a long drink of the water, then winces at something that Dahlia does to her leg.

Veronica glances over at Gillian. "Be careful, Gill… we don't know what else they might do." She glances down at her leg. "How bad is it?" It hurts but she's felt worse — however, the level of pain is not always an indication of the severity of the injury.

While Peter and Cardinal are off scouting for Ross, Raith is taking on the less daunting task of scouting the immediate area, no so much because he was asked to, but because that's what his gut tells him to do. His gut doesn't tell him to do it for very long, however; a couple minute of tromping around the trees and he enters the structure again. "Not ideal, but it'll do," he says, "We need grenades and mines, or bigger weapons. Something. But we're as safe here as we can hope to be anywhere." When he comes to a stop, it's crouching down next to Dahlia and Veronica.

"How bad?"

"I've been thinking about it for a while." Magnes states, eyes closed as he sits a few feet from Dahlia, a slight unnatural breeze swirling around him with his eyes closed. "Since these cuffs test if you're Evolved or not, and then those Sentinel things come after you, means they probably have an entire system together by now, they're experienced. These cuffs are probably made to resist the most common powers so they can keep tracking us, and if you use too much force they'll shock you, super strength likely being very common. It's no telling what else these things do, so I wouldn't mess with it. It's probably best if Veronica keeps her's on, those things will probably leave her alone. I'll figure out how to get ours off eventually…"

"Could be worse. They didn't get as far as anything critical. With a little rest and healing, she will be able to walk," Dahlia says, without looking up from where she begins bandaging, pausing only to wipe a few strands of hair off her brow as she looks towards Gillian. "I have never been close enough to know— what you claim they are. Those bracelets mean death to those who wear them. I run."

She settles back on her haunches, lanky arms on her knees, once finished with Veronica's injuries. "You would have had better weapons, had they not attacked your base. It would be better for all of you to return to the village, make contact with your people, and leave."

"So you don't think we can get these off at all?" Gillian asks the gravity manipulator, letting go of it and muttering under her breath. The alternative being to hack her foot off. Which doesn't seem like much of an altnerantive. "And these things mean death for whoever wears them. Should the three of us be in your camp at all? Should we just…" Going home with Magnes is looking more and more welcoming. The robots can't follow all the way to New York, can they!?

"Has anyone ever gotten one off?"

Veronica murmurs her thanks to Dahlia, and manages to pull up her cargo pants, new hole in the one pant leg courtesy of the robot cat thing. She lowers herself onto a chair once more, wincing as she stretches her leg out, propping it up on another seat. It hurts, but she's had worse.

"The base had our weapons, our plans, our maps… I don't know what we'd do next, where we'd go next, if we didn't go back down to Palenque," she says, though she seems irritated by that fact. It seems pointless to come this far and not get any useful information. She looks at Raith with questioning eyes. "Any ideas, other than just getting to town and seeing what the powers that be have in mind for us, now?"

"Well, there's where we run into problems," Raith begins. He shifts his position from a crouch to sitting cross-legged on the floor and from the pocket on the front of his shirt, he pulls out the bracelet that he himself had found days earlier. "They contain radio transmitters. Now, I'm going against Varlane and saying they don't test to see if you're Evolved or not, because frankly, that's stupid. If it gets on someone who's not Evolved and doesn't activate, then they go back to town and suddenly, el demonio, El Cazador de Hombres, is something that can be killed. It becomes useless as a terror weapon. No one gets out of this one, Evolved or not.

"On top of that, it knows when to shock you. Odds are pretty good that there are invisible fences out here. Try to cross one and zap. Easy pickings. We have to face the fact that some of us can't go back, and those of us that can, it'll take two days just to get there, at least. Another day before any sort of reinforcements arrive, which they might not even send without Ross. Two days to get back or more. That's a week already. Everyone's dead by then." All Raith can offer now is a shrug. "We're stuck. If we had some steel wire or a hack saw, maybe we could do something. But we don't, so unless one of you has a brilliant idea, we're stuck."

"Again, these things /shock/ you, how are we supposed to get them off without getting killed? And I don't think we wanna tamper with an electric shocking device with things made of metal. I could try to use Gillian's ability to get them off faster than they can shock, but who knows how safe that is, so it's out of the question." Magnes' eyes are still closed, but occasionally he opens them if there's some noise out in the distance. "I could get us out of here, but if he's right about the invisible fences, that's out of the question too. It seems like our only choice is to find one of those things and track it back to where ever it came from and get some answers."

Taking one of the offered canteens, before the woman who'd distributed them moves off— though not out of hearing range, Dahlia remains and listens to theories, to ponderings. "I don't know," she responds to Gillian, shaking her head. "I will send word out among mine, in case any know more — but I've only seen them on the wrists and ankles of dead men and women." She tips back another lengthy sip of water, before recapping the canteen.

"Some of us will be willing to escort you wherever you decide to go. Your guide, Ross, he says that your communications with your superiors in America was stolen during the raid. I don't think an evacuation will be quick, for you."

She tilts her head, bird-like, as she regards them. "What is it you all hoped to find here, anyway? You do not seem like the keepers of the peace I had assumed made up Team Alpha."

"I saw one of those things— well, I thought it was just a big cat. It was dark and all I could really make out was the eyes— but I saw it the night that those men attacked our camp. The ones that Branded me," Gillian explains, looking down at her ankle. Dying is not something she's looking forward to, but it sounds very much like Peter's plans to get her shipped off have been ruined. Unless he wants to cut off her foot, in which case she'd very much rather shove it up his ass than allow.

"Looks like we're going to have to do everything with very little resources. They make movies about this. Ragtag groups of people fighting their way through robot infested jungles to find and disarm a threat that could very well destroy the world. I got cast in an action survival semi-scifi horror film and no one told me. But— if all of the people who have this are Evolved… I might be able to do more than I thought. As long as this thing doesn't zap me."

Veronica listens to the others and shakes her head at Raith. "I don't know, I think he may be right, about the testing. There was a pin prick, and it went into my wrist. Mine turned green — theirs turned red and sounded the alarms. That doesn't mean they don't kill the green ones to keep them from getting back to town with the cuffs on. I didn't see anyone walking around with them in El Palenque," she points out.

She turns to Magnes. "You can go up without hitting any of the fences… you could make take Gillian, get at least you two out of here, then get in touch with our superiors. Trouble is being in shooting range, but how quickly can you get up high enough that you'd be under cloud cover or out of easy range?" It's just a thought. She wants Gillian out of here and to safety, if any of them is to get out.

"What happens if he goes flying and the thing shocks him in the air?" Raith asks pointedly. But that's that; everyone else can figure out the implications of that on their own. "The simple and obvious solution here is to wrap them with something that will attenuate the transmission. Or, we just sit out here for a few days and wait for the batteries to die, or just hope that they can't transmit more than a few hundred feet and go for it. We have options. But we're not doing anything until we find Ross. Or find what's left of Ross."

"He's right again, there might not be fences in the air, but there could be a transmission here keeping them from shocking us, or worse, they could explode. There isn't a comic, but I know a lot of plausibly nasty risks involved with these things…" Magnes nods in agreement with Raith, opening his eyes to glance over at the man. "I'm not leaving, not until it's the absolute last resort. But that is a good idea. Do you have anything that'll work for attenuating the transmission?"

"Yeah, I think this tells if you're Evolved or not," Gillian says, poking at it. "But it may act the same regardless. It may not. That thing didn't sound til it was around Magnes. The train whistle thing. Maybe we ran out of the range, maybe we didn't— I dunno. I kinda don't want to find out, but I'm not leaving. Even if there's no electric fence things that will make us plummet to our deaths. I kinda want to, but— what I fucking want doesn't seem to matter right now. We got stuff to do."

She looks at Raith. "You seem like the big sneaky guy who appears out of fucking nowhere. So you got any idea what we should do? I suggest finding out what the people in this group are capable of— those who are Evolved. I'll be more useful if I can augment more than just Magnes. Course we'll have to see which ones are willing to fight with us, too."

"Sorry, Gillian," Veronica says, looking duly chastised for not asking what she wanted. She just assumed Gillian wanted out of this hellhole. She would, if she were Gillian. "That's not a bad idea," she adds, looking for Dahlia as the woman busies herself elsewhere. "«This woman's power is to augment others'. We are curious what your people can do — if combining your powers and hers can help, somehow.»"

Raith offers Gillian a semi-dismissive shrug and settles in to listen. For now, he'll let Veronica do the talking. After all, she appears to be the one in charge now that Ross is missing, and no matter how forced into this mess he is, some instincts never quite go away. Chain of command.

"We should remember that if we attenuate the transmission, the thing might explode, so we'll test it on mine first." Magnes offers, shifting his legs with the uncomfortable cuff digging into his skin at times. "And remember, no matter how minor one of these people's abilities might be, it could turn out to be something amazing with Gillian's help."

Dahlia looks back towards the group when Spanish pipes up, and she steps over, wooden slats underfoot creaking as she puts her hands on her hips. A darting, dark gaze to Gillian. "We were promised you," she says, in English, after a moment. "That that was the protection they would offer, in return for the intelligence we have, of the mountains and the jungle." She tips her head back towards where the Cerro de Hierro Negro looms its shadow beyond the river, as if to indicate it.

"We have a man who can create armor for himself. A boy who turns invisible, a woman who can leap over the trees. A man who senses those like you all. We also have— " She glances towards Raith, and there's almost a smile. Almost. "Bigger weapons."

Those lines at her eyes smooth out in the next moment. "And more, spread wider, in the village and in the mountain itself. Tell me what the stuff is you have to do. I take it you are not only offering El Palenque protection, si?"

"Promised us?" Gillian asks, frowning a bit, cause she honestly didn't know much about this. Then again the guys who dragged her to Argentina seemed concerned about how stable her ability was, more than anything. She stopped being a pain after the first day or so in jail. She rather liked being able to move around without cuffs.

She tries to go through the abilities in her head. They don't seem quite the same as many abilities she's dealt with before, but… "I like the invisibility thing. That could totally be useful. Especially if he can extend it to more with my help." Her thoughts are muttered in a raspy whisper, almost to herself. "Course it won't do much good if this thing goes 'she is HERE oh no'." Damn devices. It seems she'll let others answer why they are here.

Veronica glances at Raith, unsure how much to say. "What I told your boy in the village was true. We're trying to stop the people who are terrorizing you. They're dangerous, and to not only you and your people," she begins. "We're trying to stop them from harming quite a few people. Not that at the moment we're doing a hell of a good job of it."

"If we don't stop them," Raith adds, "Millions of people are going to die. «Make of that whatever you like.»" Looks like Agent Sawyer isn't the only one who speaks Spanish around here. Coupled with the fact that he seems to have an uncanny knack for working together with both Peter and Rico… it would seem that Jensen Raith knows more about things than he lets on. "We came in with poor intelligence. The men in charge don't know how much they should trust us, and because of that, we're in this mess. But we can fix this, if you help us. You all saw when we shot that thing, with just pistols, we hurt it, as much as a machine can be hurt. With bigger guns, we can kill it, and if we kill it, it will scare our enemies. When they get scared, they will make mistakes, and we will kill them."

"And after we kill them, the village will never have anything to fear from the jungle again."

"I nearly crushed one, a very large on, it was a lot bigger than the cat, but it escaped. It didn't seem to be working very well after the attack though. But, I don't really know how to control what I did to attack it, Peter's the one who told me how and I've been trying to practice as much as I can." Magnes says as he holds his hands out to the fire, and a slight breeze blows it in the opposite direction before he lowers his hands and stops. "And if we can get this invisible person's ability spread, I can start flying up with Cardinal so we can scout higher, I don't think he can fly since he needed to attach to me so we could stop the chopper back in New York."

Dahlia, for a moment, looks insulted at the notion of being swayed by vague comments as to the lives of millions of people. Her mouth firms and her gaze narrows, but she listens. Magnes gets eyed for a moment, a cynical eyebrow raise as she says, "First, you would have to convince Max that you will not drop him, for his invisibility spreads only so far." She runs her fingers through her lank hair as she thinks, and shrugging bared shoulders as she just her chin up at Raith.

"I can't promise they'll fight for you, not all of them, but I can guarantee enough to guide you to the men you seek to kill, and the safest passages. Let me speak to my brother, and the others. For now, you'll be safe here for as long as it takes your friends to find— or give up on— your leader."

"You said you have bigger weapons?" Veronica says, lifting her foot off of its rest and wincing as she leans forward, elbows on her knees. "We definitely need more than we have now, if we're going to fight. We don't expect you to do this out of altruism, but trust us when we say if we and our other groups elsewhere don't succeed, we're all screwed. You, your brother, Jamon, all of them. We appreciate any help we can get."

"We'll see what we have to work with soon enough," Raith says, although he doesn't sound as though he's paying complete attention. He looks more like he's thinking than anything else, stroking his stubble with one hand. Surely, this means he's about to come us with a brilliant plan to save everybody. You'd better hope so, at least. "Dangerous, but probably good…."

"I can use handguns and sniper rifles, but I'm still kind of a beginner at sniping." Magnes notes, which is probably news to everyone there as far as the rifle goes, except maybe Veronica, if she knows anything about his Company training. "Probably best for me to stick to a handgun, or show me how to use any particularly large weapons that aren't easy to carry."

Dahlia nods once to Veronica, grudging agreement rather than any kind of bristling response to what could almost be perceived as a threat. But isn't. For now, she points a finger at the woman. "Get rest. Heal. All of you should get your strength back or keep watch — what arms we've collected are across the river. If we choose to lead you the Mountain, the journey will be longer — there will not be much time to do anything apart from act."

With that, she's stalking off towards where one of the men, an older gentleman named Jorge if any of them kept their ears open, paces a little closer to the shelter. Dahlia gives a quiet greeting in her native tongue, before she's moving into the brush of jungle after him.

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