Communication Barriers


bosede_icon.gif candy_icon.gif claire3_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Communication Barriers
Synopsis Having reached the end of their journey along the Ankofia River, Team Bravo works to secure passage to Mandritsara via the roads. Danko remains MIA.
Date December 2, 2009

Ankofia River, Madagascar

The end of the Ankofia is not so much a pond, or a lake- the river ahead has been slowly branching into streams while Team Bravo's ferryboat coasts along the water. From almost four-hundred feet wide, it has now trickled down to less than one-hundred feet- perhaps only fifty at some places. Going so long brings the boat closer to the riverbed as it moves, and so once in awhile the team can feel the grating of mud and rocks below them, shifting out of the way before the water deepens again. They have been lucky to be able to ride it this close; the situation becomes increasingly obvious to the fact they will need to move onto foot soon.

Of course, with sickness and injury befallen them all to some degree, walking the rest of the way to Mandritsara sounds impossible now. When they realized this was an unavoidable thing, the ferry was parked against the west bank of the river. It now sits downstream from the section of water that runs almost parallel to one of the dirt roads between small communes.

The fresh tire marks on the road give clues that it has been in recent use, and for now Team Bravo needs to bide time until it is used again. Judging by the activity of the past week, chances are that they will not have to hold onto a plan for far too long.

Down on the riverbank, some fifty feet from the helm of the boat, Eileen kneels in the shallows and struggles to scrub out a particularly stubborn bloodstain from Gabriel's sleeveless shirt. They have no soap, never mind ammonia or any of the other materials she might use to attack the blemish if they were back home in New York City rather than stranded in a foreign country ruled by a facist-dictator who — until little more than a year ago — she used to affectionately call Edmund.

As per the plan, her back is to the road, her own clothing minimal by virtue of necessity. Her cargo jacket and a pair of damp pants in charcoal gray, freshly washed, hang draped over a low branch in tree that overlooks the water while a Malagasy tree boa watches from its seat in the tree's shady hollow, visible only as a pair of glittering black eyes that study Eileen and her blonde-haired companion with bored disinterest.

More attentive are the thrushes and the wagtails in the higher branches well out of the snake's reach, greedy little sentries that spent the last twenty minutes bickering over a stale loaf of bread Team Bravo found in one of the abandoned villages along the river. What's inedible to a human is not necessarily inedible to a bird, even if it has the texture and consistency of a stone left out to bake in the mid-afternoon sun.

"I can't believe I let you all talk me into this." Claire says barely above a whisper, her words a little gravely. "This better work.. seriously." Standing in the river facing Eileen, in little more then her little heart covered undies, rest of her clothing in a crumpled pile close at hand, concealing a hand gun and a knife. She's trying not to think too hard about the fact… Just do the job. She would have preferred the rifle, but this situation needs a bit of stealth. Dropping one knee to the ground, she dunks one of her own tank tops in the river, a trail of blood, flowing from the holes. "I don't have too many more shirts to wear.." She sighs softly, sticking a finger through one of the many holes. "Hopefully I can get some new ones where we're going." She pushes the tank top into the water again and starts working at getting the caked blood off it. Thank goodness she wears black.

There is a distant thrum of wheels on the dusty road soon enough; it takes its time in getting nearer, but it is enough for those in the truck to glimpse the ferryboat tied to the shore- through the trees that is. The boat is emptied by now, the rest of the team having relocated momentarily to where they can observe the more stable individuals work at getting those wheels for themselves. With the old military truck stopping to idle nearer the boat, three men from the back climb down from the sides; they head downriver, following the sets of deep and clear footprints along the muddy bank. In the meantime, two men stay in the truck to wait for their comrades. The radio is on, lending a soundtrack of Malagasy chatter to the air.

In the treeline, a ways from where the others are now well hidden under brush, Huruma and Candy have put up a post behind their own shelter- fallen limbs skillfully arranged in front, torn brush piled over shoulders and head, pulling shadows every which way. Huruma has her rifle perched on the top line of the logs, muzzle pointed in waiting towards the men in the truck. If she stressed anything, it was stressing to Candy that they had to wait until something sounded off from Eileen and Claire.

Candy is content to wait as she sits there with Huruma, she doesn't really have a clue on what she'll be able to do. But she's definitely willing to help out the best way she can. With the near constant drizzle in the jungle, she at least has conditions ripe for her, and if all she can do is to distract them or blind them, it'll at least help. She's reclined back against a log, easily able to see to the truck, but concealed enough for the truck to not easily see her. Though, the saying that she heard from a sniper is running through her head: If you can see them, then they can see you. She shivers a little, wether from fear, anticipation, or just the fever is hard to tell.

Claire and Eileen are roughly the same size, give or take a fraction of an inch and a few slight but noticeable differences in their build. She reaches up, snags the sleeve of her cargo jacket in her fingers and pulls it down, careful not to trail it through the water as she holds it out in offering to Claire. "Here," she says, just loud enough for her voice to be heard above the rumble of the approaching truck. "Put this on."

Whether or not they can find clothes in Mandritsara is irrelevant if they don't survive this encounter, and surviving will be easier the less exposed and vulnerable they feel — which is probably why Eileen herself is wearing enough fabric on her body to visit the beach without encountering any undue hassle, including a tank top and a button-up shirt that once belonged to Copeland before his unfortunate accident on the plane and skims her thighs several inches above the knee rather than cut off at the waist like it would on the dead man's much taller, broader frame.

"Are you ready?"

Hair left loose to fan down around her face and veil her eyes enough that she can watch around them cautiously, only her blue eyes casting a look around. The sound of the truck makes her pause in what she's doing, her head shifting a little as she strains to hear the sound. "Company…" She whispers in a sing song voice, her hands wringing the tank top carefully.

When the jacket is offered to her, Claire smirk. "You sure?" She asks, taking it, careful not to get it wet. As it's pulled on she states, "Anything I wear is gonna have holes." There is actually an edge of humor to her voice.

Once it's settled on her petite frame, looking a bit odd with her undies, a deep breath is taken and let out slowly, Claire gives a firm nod of her head. "Ready as always."

The thing is, most militia in the area has as much experience as most of Team Bravo- they simply have more resources. The three dark soldiers heading for where Eileen and Claire are located are seemingly armed to the teeth, but they way that they hold onto their rifles and the inexperience with which they tromp loudly through the thin layer of mud, they come off as having bigger barks than bites. They break around the slight curve of trees to the left of the girls, the frontmost men awkwardly hoisting the pair of guns while the third steps between them to yell something into the air in a deep and volumnous Malagasy dialect.

He sounds angry- though men are men, and girls are girls- so of course that command for Eileen and Claire to turn around is halfway distracted by the fact that two women are half-bare in the shallows of the Ankofia.

Eileen doesn't speak Malagasy. She doesn't even speak French. She does, however, have a few key phrases memorized in both for situations like these in which the language barrier is as treacherous as the Berlin Wall to cross. "Je ne comprends pas," she says as she takes a step in front of Claire, streams of dirty riverwater running in rivulets down her bare legs, not to shield the other woman — she doesn't need it — but to instead block the soldiers' view of her. The Briton isn't the one with the pistol.

Hands are lifted in a gesture of surrender when the weapons are pointed in their direction. "Je parle anglais," she continues in that same careful tone that, while neutral, is not without a breathy hint of fear that Huruma can detect from where she and Candy are lurking in the jungle's verdant foliage. "«I don't understand what you're saying. I speak English.»"

Turning slowly towards the men, her hands are slowly raised, and Claire gives them an innocent wide eyed look. The act of raising at least one hand, makes the jacket part some and flash those little red hearts and some flesh of one thigh, for the boys on the bank. Her actions concealed, Claire's hand as it slides into the pocket of the cargo jacket and the hand gun within. Fingers curls around the black matte finish of the handle and slides it out to hold to her side, just behind Eileen out of view. The cold metal touching the back of the bird lady to give her warning that she's ready and to be prepared.

Claire tries to look shy, ducking her head down some, glancing at them like she's embarrassed to be seen like that.

"Je ne parle pas l'anglais." Well, this one does not speak English. And he does not seem too keen on realizing that these two obviously came from elsewhere. They must be the ones out here that keep killing the teams from the militias. To his right, however, the younger man with a scruff of hair on the end of his chin tilts the nose of his rifle down an inch, head cocking towards the french-speaker. He mutters something tentative, and the older man on his left glances to the third- and nods to the one with the scruff.

"I speak English." He finally says to Eileen. The accent on his words is much like he is trying to talk past a tongue covered in molasses- but it is audibly something that the little lady can understand. His gun gestures towards Claire's presence behind Eileen before Eileen herself. "What's you'n'em do out'ere?" His eyes, for some nigh inexplicable reason, dart from Eileen to Claire, to the side where his fellows stand.

Meanwhile, Huruma is getting rigid behind the hiding place she and Candy have made. Perhaps she wants to cough, or something of that nature- as there is a bit of a cold sweat pilling on her dark forehead while it peers down the light of sight. She can sense Eileen's own tensions, but as of yet does not find suit to act on those. Soon. The two men in the truck remain ignorant, now having a conversation that consists of a few idle words out of each.

Candy merely watches as she leans foward a little, already trying to think of what she could possibley do in her drugged state. Hitting on an idea, she merely waits for the order to start the attack.

Hugging low to the ground, winding through individual stalks of grass, the base of brush, keeping to what shadows and dips are afforded to him on the landscape, while simultaneously creating zero movement at all, Gabriel in his wraith form skims close to where Huruma and Candy remain hidden. He takes his time, shadow becoming slightly more three dimensional bit by bit, trading in its wide spread to give itself mass as it rises up from the ground to form a man. Vague edged folds of black become the rougher crinkles of his BDU shirt hung over bared flesh, legs take on tension and weight, and his hands seek the ground to balance himself. He solidified, quietly, in a gargoyle crouch behind them.

A pistol sits in its holster, and as long as that stinging toxin is not in the air, Gabriel has better weapons than it to pull from. Sharp gaze tracks beyond Candy and Huruma to scout out Eileen and Claire, flitting like an invisible fairy as his consciousness shifts between each one, feeling the gun in Claire's hand before he returns to his own body in the time it takes to blink.

He doesn't speak, knows better than to do that, whether by common sense or his own experience of acting within a paramilitary unit.

"My friend and I are trying to get Mandritsara," Eileen says, hands where the soldiers can see them. "We have family there, and the ferry captain we hired to take us upriver left us at daybreak to secure transportation for the roads. He hasn't been back." She speaks slowly and with precise enunciation, but not so slowly as to give the impression that she thinks the man she's talking to is stupid. It's not an act, either — he isn't. Whether or not his bark is worse than his bite or he's holding the rifle like a marine fresh out of basic, a gun is a gun, and it's still pointed at them.

One hand drops, perhaps to test the soldier's intent, and reaches back to place fingers on Claire's arm as if to reassure the other woman that they're in good company. That is an act. "Could you give us a ride?"

Claire's free arm is tense under Eileen's fingers and she trembles slightly.. but not from fear. The young blonde, maybe acting timid and shy, but she's truly wound up, ready to act when the situation turns. Her eyes watch them through a light screen of blonde hair, though as Eileen speaks, she glances at her companion. Delicate fingers, lift to brush her hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ear. She eyes the men now with hope for that ride.

The English-speaker does not have too much trouble gathering what Eileen says to him, and though his own rifle lowers slightly again upon realizing where they are going, the other two tense when they realize something similar- they only know that she is talking about Mandritsara. The supposed leader of the three barks something in Malagasy, to which the others contest something else- and all of a sudden the one capable of English seems to be under some kind of scrutiny about what he has relayed. Eyes squinting, the older man looks back to Eileen and Claire, then over his shoulder towards where they had come.

"No, sorry. We are patrol." Comes the answer, the man speaking giving the others a noticeable glare from the corners of his brown eyes. "Get back on the boat." He almost hisses this- it sounds like a threat to the ears of the two other soldiers, but in the English context it is an obvious warning. And quite a surprise.

Back in the brush, Huruma regards Gabriel's oncoming presence as she might one of Eileen's parrots coming to see what is going on. She gives him the confirmation of a puff of air, though her head tilts along the sight of her rifle at the same time. Her eyebrows meet on her forehead out of uncertainty, gun remaining locked onto the area of the truck.

Candy's eyes are similarly locked onto something. A puddle of water near the soldier's feet, as she begins to form what she has in store for them, laying her trap. The water swirls a little, but amongst the rain that continues to fall on the jungle, it is easily missed.

This is a slow plan. In that they aren't tromping out under the order of kill everything. Yet. A weakening of stomach, heart, or general weakness? It's not like Gabriel's joints don't ache like the majority of theirs, throat raw from coughing and stomach turning around like a carousel. It's what keeps a hold of his leash, for now, as much as tension comes off him in waves. That hissed comment—

His head raises a little, going on alert, attention splitting from truck to the confrontation between men and the two Bravo women.

There's a moment of indecision where Eileen appears torn between heeding the soldier's warning and— something else, though whatever that something else is, it isn't the sort of something that can be read in her facial expression or guarded body language. The hand at Claire's arm gives her elbow a firm squeeze, and then it's her turn to issue an order, murmured thickly and under a low, haggard breath.

"Not him," she says, and hopes that the blonde knows what she means as she steps aside.

The ex-cheerleader, almost can't keep the surprise off her face at the English speaker's words. What the….? Some of the tension just bleeds out of Claire, as blonde brows twitch up slightly. Then Eileen's words register in the regenerators brain. "Right." The word is firm and almost hollow as Claire seems to instantly shift gears.

As Eileen steps aside, Claire is moving forward, the world seeming in her mind to slow down. The handgun is held back some so it is hopefully not seen right away as the jacket, still unzipped, flips open showing off her underthings. With hope it distracts them enough, to allow Eileen to seek cover and make them slow to see the weapon the ex-cheerleader brings up quickly. Claire starts firing at the two other men, making sure to miss the good one if she can, bracing her feet, ready to go down under the return fire.

There is a rigidness to all of the soldiers facing Claire and Eileen nose-to-nose. The silent of the three pulls his rifle into a firing position, either to be ready or just to be intimidating. The tension is mucky in the air- and snaps like brittle weeds when things begin to clockwork into reanimation. Claire fires- the quiet militiaman fires back, promptly filling Claire with holes as she fires at the duo to the right. Her bullets cram into him at the same time, and the leader has weaved himself across Claire's line of vision with the one who was speaking.

Though she missed the second- the last of them does not. The scruffy-faced man had his rifle ready- simply pointed away from the girls; when he is dragged into, his gun pops up and sprays the air near him with bullets. They seem to ricochet everywhere- one bites across his bicep, another embeds itself in a broad shoulder, holes blossom on the surface of the two Malagasy men- now in the middle of more than a bait-trap by Team Bravo seeking out a set of wheels.

At the first sounds of gunfire, Huruma is swift to move despite her sickness and the thin layer of feverish sweat on her cheeks and neck. rounds pierce through the trees even before she makes it out, her first intention to send the two in the truck into what will probably become a further panic.

Candy's own plan is revealed, as with all her concentration Candy brings a water-bat into play. Her eyes screwed to the bat, its not large, its not deadly, but it'll do some distracting. As soon as she is sure she can keep hold of it, the Asian begins to whallop any soldier she can lay eyes on. Take that! And that! And some of this. Now, Candy just needs an Italian accent…

It's enough to sear eyeballs turned towards the truck, although only to put spots in gazes for a few crucial seconds of blinking and head shaking. There's no real time for warning, though, Gabriel extending a hand. Nothing emits from it, but like a conductor, it controls something elsewhere. The light within the immediate vicinity of the bad guys explodes into brightness, and as much as it might make Gabriel and the girls flinch—

Being in the midst of it is considerably worse. A moment later, the man being whacked and beaten with a water-bat (the baseball kind) will find himself lacking the ability to see. Gabriel puts his gun in his hand, but it's support fire for the women, loosing a bullet when it seems like a shot doesn't take.

Mud squelches between toes and Eileen's feet kick up water as she splashes through the shallows and loops arms around Claire's middle to prevent her from toppling into the water. She shields her eyes from the glare by turning her face against the other woman's shoulder, pulling the blonde into her to keep them both aloft and trusting in Gabriel to provide them with the necessary cover fire.

As far as ambushes go, this could be a lot cleaner, but Team Bravo could be a lot healthier in body and mind as well. What they lack in swiftness and coordination they make up for in brutality borne of their desperation.

The jacket Eileen handed her, is riddled with bullet holes as Claire's body jerks a bit with each hit. When she starts to crumple towards the water she's dead, only to be caught by Eileen. She's a dead weight in the other woman's arm for a long moment, literally, head limply laying to one side. It isn't long before, Claires legs start to support her own wieght, as the pucking blood oozing wounds start to close. The twisted metal of spent bullets, pop out of her skin one at a time and drop into the water with a plink sending out small ripples.

Slowly straightening and only swaying slightly as her body continues to repair, Claire offers Eileen a tight lipped smile. "Thanks for the save… You okay?" Hard to tell with all so much of her blood covering them. "Sorry about the jacket." She offers with only a touch of humor.

The forest edge is temporarily stricken with the telltale ratta-tat-tats of gunfire; to militiamen are dead in almost no time, while the ones in the truck are caught by Huruma as they try their best to jump out of the vehicle and meet the enemy. A valiant and useless effort, when it boils down. Huruma lowers her gun when the second man in the truck folds out of the doorless space, slumping over and off the seat much like a human slinky into the dirt below. Flump- like a sack of meat.

The english speaking soldier that has nearly successfully done his job is now clutching like a poor fool at his shoulder. He doesn't make any moves even when the light comes- he just falls onto his knees and huddles as to not be hit by someone else he knows to now be there. But just in case, when the light peels away- his good arm goes up, his gun hits the mud, and he bows his dark head so that he looks more like he may be praying- he obviously is no threat, nor does he want to be shot again.

When he chances a look up, he gets a plain view of Claire's regeneration nearby. Maybe it was those little sounds of flesh stitching back together. The soldier jumps up to his feet, lower legs caked in mud. The man's real accent is less garbled, but also less clear than his warning was. And as the new words progress, his teeth flash, grinning. One is missing on the far left side.

"Ay, t'anks- fatratra- If I found'em, I must show alla'em to Mandritsara."

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