Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away


gillian3_icon.gif iago_icon.gif magnes2_icon.gif rosco_icon.gif veronica2_icon.gif

Scene Title Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away
Synopsis Team Alpha get a wake up call.
Date December 18, 2009

Argentina: Missionary Ruins

As luck would have it, though the roof is long gone, the broken walls of this ancient Spanish missionary have only partially succumbed to the jungle's wasting influence. Smooth grey and brown stone likely cut from the mountainside that seems to loom all around comprises a number of indecipherable rooms and alcoves, some even tall enough to blot out greenery's relentless encroach. Moss has coagulated in substantial mats wherever it's been able to gain hold, with wispy ferns and hardened vines snaking in through cracks and ruptures to keep it company. Although the metal gate has rusted through to nothing, the exterior walls on either side of it afford some limited protection from the wind, and what few overhangs remain at the base of a collapsed bell tower may serve to keep off the rain. The massive bell itself is crusted thick with corrosion in its dead sit in what may have once been an open courtyard, old metal patched black and rusty red amidst the craggy remains of its former post.

Bluish grey light filters in murky bands through the mottled black of forest growth blotched thick against the gradient of the sky growing gradually lighter overhead. Squint too hard, look too long and the crooked turn of an isolated tree trunk molds itself into the mechanical lurch of a metal beast poised and listening. Could be a tree and a boulder tipped together. Could be an automaton monstrosity crouched and waiting, eyes dark, even if it doesn't look all that much like one. Black-on-black-on-grey visibility makes it impossible to tell. It never seems to move. Never creaks, whirrs or buzzes.

Off a short ways from the missionary, it's that accumulation of probably non-threatening shapes that young Max is peering at apprehensively while he wees at a nervous stop-and-start-stop-and-start when a curved knife licks in cold at the bob of his Adam's apple.

Forty-five minutes later…

It's barely daybreak by the time the ground begins to shake.

Peaceful, before that, with a low sun peering out onto the ruins where they've set up camp since a few days ago, ever since crossing the cold river which gives off its water smell all the way from over there. Bugs, always bugs, make their chorus beneath bark, behind leaves, buzzing in the dead fire pit that so often sees Team Alpha gathered around it for warmth and communication. Dew makes glittering gems on flora and manmade structure both, a clinging damp - one would guess this is why they call it a rainforest. It's the morning after three of the men had left them alone, Ross having barely moved from where he'd gone to bed last night, huddled under down-stuffed weather-proof fabric with his hat pulled across his face. One can only guess he's still alive under there.

They're all relatively alone by the time the sun is starting to crest the horizon. Someone may want to think about getting the fire started, the food going. Alternatively, someone may notice the sound of vibrations on the jungle ground, a hard pounding. An army. A machine. Or rather— it's the sound of hooves beating down against the ground, and making fast approach.

The female agent is a light sleeper — years of being a company girl have trained her to sleep lightly in dangerous situations, with the proverbial ear to the ground and one eye open. She's swift to roll out of bag and to her feet. "Get up, something's… coming," she hisses, reaching an arm out to shake Gillian and then turning to find the others, Magnes, Ross, anyone still asleep. She reaches into her pack for hatchet, pistol, flare gun, then grabs the assault rifle — not that most of them will do her any good. "What's out there," she peers to whoever's out on watch, if they can see through the gray light any better than she can.

For one of the females with the group, much of the time since their last big get together has been spent alone. Outside of the occassional rasped words, Gillian hasn't been talking much to anyone, not even the woman she rather liked. Doesn't mean they didn't sleep nearby. A stick lays on the ground next to her sleeping bag, where she's laying on her side with her trusted blanket all around her. The stick has smaller limbs sheered off, a slight sharpening at one end. It's not going to be much use against the machines, but it's better than flailing arms around and screaming. She's too angry at someone who's not even there to allow herself to do that.

One thing she did allow is the changing of her bandage. But even that was done with little more than grunts and grumbles.

The shaking pulls her out of a not restful sleep. She slept near a subway long enough that the rumbling was almost natural. "What?" she mutters once her eyes are open, before she gets up and looks around. Not in New York. Figures her waking world would be the nightmare. "What's coming?" She begins to unwrap from her blanket and get to her feet. Sleeping fully clothed has been done too often here.

Magnes is the one who gets the fire started, and begins preparing the food, having been taught by Mister Panucci not to rely too much on new-fangled ovens. But it's that vibration that catches his attention now, and he removes the food, lest it gets burned, and rushes over to his sleeping bag to grab that metallic bone-club, his clothing quite tattered, but dried over the fire. "I'm up." he says from the fire, staring out, waiting to see the first sign of an enemy. "Remember, don't waste ammo on those things, if it's the robots. At the very least, let me make a weak spot."

The rhthymic pound of horse hooves through damp soil is unmistakeable once it's close. So is the strangled, raw-throated sound of screams mingled with shouted pleading. Stop, cried over and over in English and in Spanish, begging: Stop!

A massive bay gelding thunders through the same clearing that plays host to the fire pit Team Alpha and some of Dahlia's people have woken to huddle around, warm brown hide nearly oil black in the poor light. The man on his back whoops like a savage, standing in his stirrups, but the worst is still to come.

A length of rope sizzles and hisses through the damp decay and leaf litter churned wild in his horse's wake, dragging something at it's end. A weight. A person. Max flickers out of invisibility long enough for a twist of his bony limbs to print harsh into the backs of the eyes of anyone who happens to be looking in the right direction when he's dragged through and back into the woods, skinny fingers stayed in their frantic efforts to fray the noose knotted 'round his ankle when he whumps off a tree trunk and vanishes back into the forest after his captor.

Another is on the man's heels, thunderous hooves pounding earth. A glossy black coat makes up the tone of the gelding that follows suit, all power and pride as it races out of the jungle and out among aged stone and clearing. Its rider is similarly clad in night shades as opposed to rustic camourflage, colouring marking him a native. A large man, a weapon making a shape where its strapped to his back, a slice of white in a determined sneer as he rides through. He would have matched the intel given to Team Alpha, had not the base been destroyed.

But at least one of them won't be able to mistake the physical identity of Iago Ramirez. He gives a growling sound to spur his horse along, bearing down ruthlessly towards where Alpha is still getting its bearings as if aiming to simply trample those in his way underhoof.

The image of the young Evolved man being dragged is not lost on Agent Sawyer as she breaks immediately into a run. This is exactly the reason she doesn't take off her boots to sleep.

If there is an unlikely silver cloud in this lining, it's that at least the source of the thundering ground is not a robot — horses and men made of flesh and blood that bullets can tear into, rip through, destroy.

Veronica lifts the automatic rifle, flicking its scope into night vision and aims — first for the first rider, then for its horse, then for the second rider. PETA be damned; if the men die but the horse dragging Max keeps racing through the rain forest, Max is still a dead man in the end. Her shots at the men are aimed to hit and disable, though not kill — she knows that their information is valuable, and their survival might depend upon gleaning it from them… by whatever means necessary.

The horrific sight of a boy phasing in and out of visibility being dragged by a horse was bad enough. Gillian's already on her feet reaching for the stick and glancing at Vee for instruction. She may not have handled taking orders from Kazimir very well, but she seems to trust Vee, but seeing her take off is all she really needs. There's some doubt in her eyes— after all she's not super fast and doesn't have a gun, but then she sees the second horse. The darker horse— whose brief glimpse of a face and figure got seared into her memory along with a certain brand that was given more physical form.

"Those mother fuckers," she growls, before she's suddenly running at Magnes and jumping onto his back, arm going around his neck while her legs go around his waist. If he wasn't so used to correcting his balance, this may cause more of a problem. Did she seriously just jump on his back?

"After them," she growls as she grabs on. With one hand and her thighs. Cause the other hand still holds Mr. Long-and-Pointy. Blanket is left behind on the ground.

Even in this situation, Gillian's legs wrapping around his waist gives him entirely different balance issues. Pressing on, Magnes immediately starts flying, though he stays very low to the ground, he's staying out of Veronica's line of fire, trying to mentally down the horse dragging the boy. That's priority number one. "I could really use a gun, I do have the training…" he says under his breath as he tries to concentrate on shifting the horse's legs back suddenly, trying to trip it. He learned his lesson about frivolously trying to lift huge animals and animal-like things, there are more power-saving methods of stopping them.

Steel's robots have the happy advantage of being able to deflect bullets.

Rosco does not.

There are two distinct whaps to counter the sheer crack of Veronica's rifle into the semidark — unmistakeable for those who know what they're listening for. It's the sound of a bullet being stopped dead out've its flight by something made of meat and bone, and before the bay horse has gone more than a few meters into the brush, there's the tumbling rustle and crunch of a larger body careening into the bush.

The horse keeps going, eyes rolling white and flanks damp with foam. Unfortunately, so does Max.

A moment's blind pain overtakes the felled Aussie laid out in the scrub and the mud. He coughs once, fingers feeling dumb across the warm damp in his side before he sets to rolling crookedly to his feet, heels up over knees, knees up over shoulders. One've his molars feels loose in his jaw; he tongues over it, blood coppery rich and thick in his mouth. Things weren't supposed to happen quite this quick, were they?

In any case, he's lost his hat, and his rifle, but not his sidearm. There's a nickel glitter about its finish when he draws it and bluntly squeezes the trigger three times in the direction of the bitch who knocked him off his horse.

If Iago saw Rosco go down, it's not information that changes his impassive expression. Rather than beelining the same course the other man cuts out through the jungle, Iago veers off, the wine bottle from the previous night skittering off a hoof as he goes crashing out into the jungle, moving more parallel to Team Alpha as they target the bay gelding and the Australian cowboy upon it.

The shot gun is taken into his hands, barrel shortened, and it gives off a deafening crack loud enough to make his horse all the more nervous about being under the command of a terrorist rather than a fourteen-year-old girl who calls him Duke. Buckshot tears through jungle softness, a wild aim in the direction of the flying man and his rider before legs kick, and he spurs his horse into moving again, leaping out onto the beaten trail and stampeding past where Rosco tumbled.

He doesn't seem all that keen to go back for him.

After shooting, when Veronica sees Magnes and Gillian go flying off, she swears under her breath as she changes directions, moving low in a zig zag motion to make things difficult. At least there is the rewarding sound of bullet meeting flesh and then the sound of the body hitting the ground. Too bad it's followed by gunshot, so she knows she didn't aim quite true enough, even if she didn't miss.

Aiming again while taking shelter behind a tree, she shoots at Rosco's horse again, aiming high for head or neck and to avoid hitting the Argentinian boy being dragged behind. Veronica then turns her aim back to where she thinks Rosco went down, searching for him in the scope but not finding the bastard. When Iago's gunshot blast all but deafens them, she shoots at his head since she doesn't particularly care if that horse rides gets away.

Oh hey, Gillian forgot what it was like to fly. But that's not the only thing raising up. Not that she really cares too much, cause— there he is. "The one on the black horse— that's the one that fucking branded me. I want to stab him in the fucking…" He's firing a shotgun at them. That cuts off her protests as she tightens her grip and trusts Magnes to either avoid it— or get them killed. But she hopes avoid it. Cause she likes life.

"This isn't the time to be experimenting with my ability, I need to use what I know so I don't run into some unknown limit." Magnes suddenly swerves and lands behind a thick tree when the shotgun fires, having learned his lesson about cover after getting shot… a lot. "Don't get down, I don't want you getting hurt." He looks around, apparently searching for something, then grunts and hunches down to grab a hand full of dirt, squeezing it tightly. "Too hard to find rocks around here. I need to get a good shot at him, then I'll throw this dirt." he whispers his plan, then starts running from tree to tree, trying to keep his ears open for Iago, his horse, and his gun, and get closer.

Rosco's panicked horse is out've sight and out've scope in a matter of seconds rather than moments. They might be able to track it come proper sunlight, but in the dark with the forest closing in trunk over trunk with every foot deeper into it they go — it's little more than a blur of shadow and mane by the time anyone's focused on it to get a shot off.

Its less fortunate rider remains not far from where he rolled to a blurry halt, brown jacket opened loose over a dress shirt that no amount of dry-cleaning is going to repair at the rate blood is seeping hot through the side. No more night-sighted than the rest of them, he can only stand still and listen, every thud of hoof and pat of his own blood dripping to the forest floor amplified in his ears. He's a goatee'd man, average size, black hair scruffed and angular face marred by an old scar hooked in deep in the sink of his right cheek. In short, he looks like trouble. Which is about right, really.

Gun dropped like a dirty diaper when a fourth trigger pull ends only in the tell-tale nothing of an exceedingly untimely jam, he drags his knife free of his belt instead. Then he sets off a-creeping towards where he thought he last saw Veronica in the chaos, eyes hard and teeth set white into a sneer. "Olly olly oxen freeee…"

After imbedding an innocent tree with metal pellets, Iago hasn't gone for his gun again even since a shot was fired his way, breezing through the air above him as he hunches down over his saddle and rides hard out into the jungle. There's no double back for attack, let alone a rescue, nor is he moving in the same panicked direction as the bay gelding free of rider but not of load. Low, skinny vines and branches whip and tear past him as meaty animal muscles power him away and away.

Veronica isn't about to yell out and give away locale, though she tries to will Magnes or perhaps one of the other Evolved natives to head off to find the horse and the dragged boy. When she hears Rosco's voice, she peers into her scope, turning it in the direction of his voice, letting him creep nearer and nearer, watching the glint of knife in his hand, noting that his gun seems to be missing.

"Hands up! «Hands up,»" she growls, first in English, then in Spanish, just in case he doesn't speak the former. "Or I'll shoot your fucking head off."

Oh man. Choices. There's a boy getting dragged by a wild horse that's already more or less out of sight, and that man who is getting away. "Son of a bitch, he's going to get away," Gillian growls, tightening her hand on the young man's shirt. She's definitely not letting go of him as they hop around, but she already knows she's losing sight of him through the trees. "If I augment you can you catch up to him and kick him off his horse or something? Please?"

And then they can go rescue the poor kid— but yeah, it's selfish, but… "He's a monster. Who knows how many people he's done that too." And they were camping with a bunch of them, and as far as she knows, it'll take plastic surgery to get rid of the brand on her cheek— And it's not like she can afford plastic surgery. She's more than willing to give him energy, though— he's already getting a little bit just to emphasize.

"Even if I could make myself faster, I wouldn't know how. When I fly, it's just controlled falling, it'd take weeks to work out how to actually make myself faster that way. Don't augment yet, there's no point." Magnes starts flying again, but he's going in the direction of the horse that's dragging the boy, flying as fast as he can possibly manage while dodging trees and making sure Gillian's head isn't getting knocked off. "I'm stopping this horse first, that boy's life is in dangerous. Then we can worry about revenge. I'm gonna have words with Kazimir later too. I'm sorry I didn't speak up when he was talking to you that way." He's focused, trying to listen out for signs of that horse's steps, or at least the boy.

"Really?" inquires Rosco, accent lilting high. He sounds intrigued! "The whole thing?"

He looks intrigued too, brows canted and expression set into a lopsided grin that's nothing short've psychopatically fiendiesh even through the eery night-vision buzz of Veronica's scope. Blood runs brackish red from the cuts lacerated in across his nose and shoulder — seeps more deliberately from the deeper hole she poked with him while he was still on horseback.

The expression drops off his face quick as the crack of a scorpion's tail when he snaps his knife hand down approximately as fast. The blade slings forth and sticks fast — either in Sawyer or in the base of the tree behind her, depending upon how quick she is to get the hell out've the way.

When she sees his wrist flick, Veronica is already moving into action to hurt him first and to avoid the blade. She wants Rosco alive, though, which means not shooting him in the head like she'd very much prefer to do.

Veronica lunges forward and to the side to try to avoid the blade but is not quick enough. The blade makes contact with her sternum just as she swings the butt of the rifle to make contact with his head, in hopes of knocking him unconscious so that the team can restrain and question, and very possibly torture him.

Is that a disappointed sound? That's a disappointed sound. Gillian lets out a grunt, and then just whispers, "Fine. Let's save the kid. I'll stab him in the nutsack later on." It sounds as if she means it, even as she looks over Magnes' head for any sign of the fleeing horse. The one with a rider. She trusts that Veronica can take care of herself…

Suddenly she ducks down against his shoulder. That tree was really close!

The horse, the horse, the horse. With every degree higher the sun lifts on the horizon, it gets just a little easier to see the path the beast has trampled through the underbrush. Equine blood tags here and there at leaves and boulders as well, flagging this beaten trail as the one they're after where other likely options wind off in various shades of unhelpful green and brown.

Eventually they'll find the big bay rolled over on its side with eyes showing white and sides heaving, bloody foam bubbling around dished nostrils. Max is still attached via Rosco's rope, but definitely unconscious. He also swings a little awkwardly when they try to move him. Like, in ways he shouldn't, broken bones not yet swollen in their snap under skin and muscle.

Closer to camp, Rosco catches the stock of Vee's rifle with the side of his head midway through rearing back to clock her in the head with his fist. He keeps turning with his own momentum, one knee slacking before the other on his graceless way back down into the mud. Strengthening sunlight meanwhile reveals the tattered rest of his horse-trodden cowboy hat some ten or fifteen feet away.

Magnes lands near Max, letting Gillian down as he rushes over. Of course he learned some basic first-aid in the academy, and starts setting the boy's bones after getting him untied. If he's gonna swell up, he should at least swell up with everything in the right position. "Alright, we can't move him like this, even with gravity, he needs some sort of support." He sticks the metallic club into the ground, then peels his shirt off, ripping it open so it can be spread out, then shakes it out as it suddenly stretches, floating in the air like some sort of hammock. "Grab his ankles, I'll grab his shoulders and float him on to my shirt. This is gonna take a lot of control to not hurt him even more, so I'll need you to help me take him back."

Once the cowboy is down in the mud, Veronica falls forward, knees in the muck, hands going to her chest. Fuck. She got yelled at the last time she took a blade out of her own body, so she knows better than to do so this time, though feeling around the edge of the wound she can tell it's only embedded in cartilage and bone and that luckily it has not penetrated through to her heart. Otherwise she'd be bleeding quite a bit more and finding it difficult to think, breathe, or, well, live. Holding the gun carefully, she crawls closer to Rosco, patting him down for any other weapons before she glances back to the shelter. "A little fucking help over here," she calls out. Her dark eyes then skim the brightening landscape for Magnes and Gillian. They're on their own for the time being; she needs Ross to look at her chest. Now that he has an excuse.

"Fuck— that poor kid," Gillian growls under her breath once her feet are back on the ground. She doesn't offer her own shirt, she already went through one! This one's too big for her, still. "Would my stick help? Maybe make some kind of stretcher along with your— stuff." Either way, she's not going to leave it, but she does shift it around to better get a hold of the boy's ankles while he makes the floating easier. "We should get him back to Ross as quick as possible— nothing we can do for the horse, I'm afraid." Poor horse. Not that she wanted one for Christmas, but she can feel sorry for it— for a moment.

"I hope Vee's okay."

"Use whatever you need, we just have to make sure we don't make it worse." Magnes lifts him up on to the floating shirt, then grips the edges just under the boy's shoulders. "You take that side, then we can walk him back. We don't have a lot of time to stick out here and make this thing perfect, there could be more of those people coming." He's quiet for a long moment, then out of the blue, "When we stop the bomb, we're going to Claire, if I can find out where she is. I'm betting one of them know. She's a regenerator, yeah, but that only means she can't die. I can deal with her getting shot or whatever, but what if they fail? But don't worry, I'll make sure you're safe first, that all of this is over, and I'll go to her alone. And the next time I see Peter, I'm punching him in the face for being a bastard to you."

Vee removes Rosco's spurs, finds a blade in the boot, and then some handcuffs which she uses on him. So what if she's not sure there's a key? The strain of doing that as her sitting back on her heels waiting for someone else to come drag the body to the ruins of the mission they call a shelter. She isn't going to do that with a knife sticking in her chest. When some of the Evolved Argentinians come to her aid, she nods into the jungle. "«I think the other one got away. Hopefully Magnes and Gillian got Max. Someone should go help.»" She lets one help her to the feet, then staggers behind the others dragging Rosco toward their campsite.

It doesn't seem like she's intending tost ay long. As soon as they get things situated she hooks Mr. Long-and-Pointy under and elbow and then does her best to help. But not in silence. Though she only speaks up when he mentions Peter. "No you're fucking not," Gillian says, glaring over at Magnes as he threatens Peter. She'd not responded the first time he brought it up, but this time she does, and angerly. "You're not punching him in the face. You don't have to fucking protect me either. I don't want it. Take care of your god damn self first so you can run off and protect your immortal girlfriend and stay the fuck out of my business." If anyone's punching him in the face, it's going to be HER.

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